26 October 2008

Weekly Vlog Post #13

This vlog posting starts off with a segment on picking up change and putting it to good use.

25 October 2008

More Kevod Zibur Stuff

So, I see that there is a new article-response-rebuttal on the topic of aliyot for women by Rabbis Shlomo Riskin and Mendel Shapiro in the new Meorot issue, which I will hopefully read soon (I've already read my rebbe's article so far (upon which Menachem Mendel commented)). This, of course, only further serves to remind me that I haven't quite gotten around to posting about Rabbi Berman's presentation about this issue of aliyot for women (mentioned previously), which had been done after Rabbis Sperber and Riskin had spoken at that same shul. While I'm on the topic, I listened to an excellent audio shiur on this topic by Rabbi Aryeh Klapper that took place in June.
Also, speaking of which
, there are a pair of shiurim worthy of a listen by Rabbi Klapper on the topic of kevod zibur: one from February and one from March. Oh, and I stumbled across an audio file (to which I have yet to listen, but hope to) of Rabbi Asher Lopatin speaking on "Beyond Tzibur and Kavod Hatzibur: A Synagogue Becomes Home" at JOFA's 6th International Conference.

Kol 'Ishah & Women's Krias haTorah II: Rav Henkin's Take

While going through stuff for another posting on the topic of aliyot for women, I found that Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin wrote "[o]ne may indeed ask, why should reading the Torah be different with regard to kol b'ishah ervah than reading the Megillah?"
In my first posting on this particular topic, I wrote
the reason that the Sages that were quoted in the beraisa (on Megillah 23a) did not mention the woman's voice issue is because it had not yet come about. The kevod zibbur issue was brought up by tannaim, the woman's voice issue came about at the beginning of the amoraic period, derived by Shmuel....
Nevertheless, Rabbi Henkin's suggestion to the aforementioned question is that he thinks
the Megillah reading is different because of the special affection people have for it, as stated in Megillah 21b regarding two or more people reading the Megillah in unison, something not permitted in other readings....
He adds that since "Purim is a time of feasting and drinking, which lead to impropriety", then "a woman reading the Megillah for men would presumably not do so in the synagogue but at home, where there are fewer restraints...."
I have no particular critics or criticisms, just presenting it here, as I found another person asking the same question, albeit with a different answer.

24 October 2008

Apparently, I'm Not the only One not Blogging as Much - Aargh, Twitter

Esther recently linked, via a tweet, a blog posting of hers to an article posted earlier this week that says blogging's no longer what it once was. Well, yes. For me, getting married definitely has diminished my blogging, although I've tried to still do it. However, Paul Boutin, who wrote the aforementioned article, mentions that Twitter has had an adverse affect on blogging. Before I had read the article, I have also noticed that my blogging has not been as much since I started using Twitter. Somehow, this came up in the course of conversation over the holiday with Susanne, who mentioned that her blogging has also been lessened on account of her using Twitter. We agreed that you can easily tweet various ideas you have instead of blogging about them and lo and behold, they're on the Internet. Moreover, one need not sit down at a computer and type out one's thoughts in an organized and lengthy fashion when one can, while waiting for the train or just walking, type out a tweet.
Of course, I've been hearing at various yom tov and shabbat meals curious people inquiring about Twitter and I generally say that it's micro-blogging or SMS blogging. Either way, it's similar but kind of different from blogging. While most people still don't particularly get it, that's probably fine - it's probably not for everybody (part of this is that, according to recent findings that "people who regularly upload material to the internet are just attention seekers" - so some people are and some people aren't (and the others read that material)). My wife, for one, is not particularly into it. Also, a week ago, Shira checked my Twittering out and was not a fan:
I honestly don't care if you just went to the gym/dropped your kids off at school/are headed for Starbucks/whatever. Do we really need to know what our friends and relatives are doing every minute of every day?
She then adds that Twitter
strikes me as the functional equivalent of submitting to a personal GPS tracking system, and is way too reminiscent of "Big Brother Is Watching You" for my taste. Why on earth would anyone do this voluntarily?
I just don't get it.
Back last month in the New York Times, Clive Thompson wrote in a lengthy article ("Brave New World of Digital Intimacy") that
For many people — particularly anyone over the age of 30 — the idea of describing your blow-by-blow activities in such detail is absurd. Why would you subject your friends to your daily minutiae? And conversely, how much of their trivia can you absorb? The growth of ambient intimacy can seem like modern narcissism taken to a new, supermetabolic extreme — the ultimate expression of a generation of celebrity-addled youths who believe their every utterance is fascinating and ought to be shared with the world. Twitter, in particular, has been the subject of nearly relentless scorn since it went online. “Who really cares what I am doing, every hour of the day?” wondered Alex Beam, a Boston Globe columnist, in an essay about Twitter last month. “Even I don’t care.”
He then writes that "Indeed, many of the people I interviewed, who are among the most avid users of these 'awareness' tools, admit that at first they couldn’t figure out why anybody would want to do this." He goes on to write that
This is the paradox of ambient awareness. Each little update — each individual bit of social information — is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting. This was never before possible, because in the real world, no friend would bother to call you up and detail the sandwiches she was eating. The ambient information becomes like “a type of E.S.P.,” as Haley described it to me, an invisible dimension floating over everyday life.
I certainly found Thompson's writing very interesting and hopefully helpful to those who want to understand the whole Twitter thing.
Anyways, back to the original article ("Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004") written by Mr. Boutin. In it, he writes that
Writing a weblog today isn't the bright idea it was four years ago. The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. ... It's almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.
Granted, a lot of this is true - I've certainly had my share of hecklers on the comments threads here, but that's mostly gone down. He's also right about the Twitter part (as mentioned previously in this posting) and Facebook (I'm not quite sure how Flickr figures into it, aside from sharing pictures). However, I've found blogging to have its uses and I don't mind that it's not "the bright idea" it used to be. Similarly, he writes that "text-based Web sites aren't where the buzz is anymore", although I don't need to be that cool to be a part of the buzz. Boutin goes on to point an interesting point out:
The reason blogs took off is that they made publishing easy for non-techies. Part of that simplicity was a lack of support for pictures, audio, and videoclips. At the time, multimedia content was too hard to upload, too unlikely to play back, and too hungry for bandwidth.
Social multimedia sites like YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook have since made publishing pics and video as easy as typing text.
To this point, this may work well in the larger context, although not necessarily for me. (By the way, for those interested, the State of the Blogosphere 2008 report came out last month.)
However, on this topic, a year or so ago, one person who followed/follows the Jblogosphere said that it had "jumped the shark" at some point. What point that was is unclear, although it was definitely a year or two ago. Oh well, there are still Jbloggers out there, albeit not with the same interest there once was.
So, those are some of my thoughts on blogging nowadays and Twitter.

23 October 2008

Weekly Vlog Posts #11 & #12

Below are my eleventh and twelfth weekly vlog postings. I have had difficulty in uploading them, as our Internet connection has not been good as well as my computer has been in the shop, but it is now back. Vlog posting #11, which is not well-lit can be found at the bottom of this posting, while vlog posting #12 is directly below and features a segment about eating and living in the city during Sukkos (beginning at the 1:44 mark) and also includes a bit about our recent trip up to Montréal for the first days of the Sukkos holiday (beginning at the 10:05 mark), odds & ends (beginning at the 11:58 mark), and concludes with outtakes (beginning at the 12:38 mark). In all, it is the longest of my vlog postings thus far.
Vlog #12

Vlog #11

Computer Now Back

I now have my computer back!! Originally, around a month ago, the screen got damaged at school. I had thought to bring it in and although I found out that we had purchased a coverage plan, it would take almost two weeks to get back. So, a little over a week and a half ago, I dropped off my computer and have, in the interim, been without it and with limited access to the Internet. So, anyways, I'm back.