2019-08-18 Sunday evening: New beginnings.

From everything I heard, the demo was a huge success for the conservative side. I had feared the worst, and I couldn't have been happier to be wrong. The police were out in force and did their jobs. Amber had this to say:

Just want to say again GREAT JOB PORTLAND. You finally got the presidents attention and lets hope these punks called Antifa are labeled terrorists. Great job , I couldn't be prouder :)

As for me, I'd planned to make a trip into Portland today to take care of miscellaneous stuff, but ended up staying home and having a leisurely / productive day doing stuff around the house.

With the SF trip behind me, I'm looking forward to settling down into a routine, and seeing what new things will develop in my life.

2019-08-16 Friday evening: Like a break in the battle.

Getting back into the routine, after spending a week in San Francisco visiting the kids, was more of a struggle than I'd planned on: besides being broke after having to find lodging at the last minute, I ended up getting sick almost immediately after returning to work, and had to take Tuesday and Wednesday off.

And yet, somehow, I've been in pretty good spirits all this week. I've just passed the six-month mark at my job at Green Hills Semiconductor, and the routine is starting to feel comfortable. My living situation isn't ideal, but it works just fine. I feel good about where I am in life, but I feel even better about where I'm going.

I feel like I need to say a few words about tomorrow's demo. As many of you have probably already heard, right-wing and left-wing demonstrations are set to happen in Portland, Oregon tomorrow, and it's likely to get pretty ugly. And - even aside from the fact of it being on Shabbat - I won't be going.

The media will tell you that there's a "white supremacist" or "neo-nazi" demonstration happening. No such thing is true. The conservative side is organized by the same people who organized the conservative demo I attended two years ago. They are not neo-nazis any more than I am.

The media inflates the importance of the WN crowd far out of proportion to their numbers and influence. But that doesn't mean those people don't exist. I will have more to say once it's all over - and it's possible my LJ will wander more into politics than has been my custom lately.

For now, let me leave you with this. The August 2017 event was a great success, and I'm glad I went. Haley was there, Tiny was there, Amber was there and she gave a great talk, a streetcorner preacher was there and gave a great talk. People who on any other day might have been arguing and disagreeing, came together in a spirit of solidarity and patriotism and love of liberty. They didn't agree on everything, but they understood they could agree on the things that matter most.

This time round, I'm not so sure. Amber is pulling out, and I'll close by sharing Amber's thoughts from her publicly shared Facebook post:

... I do not stand with people who openly say they are Alt Right, White Nationalists, Racists of any sort. If your Anti Jewish, Anti Black. Anti White , Anti LGBT , Anti women , or Anti Male kick rocks, I want nothing to do with you.

I believe in total equality for all people. So if you believe like the examples above, simply do not follow me or be around me. It is pretty simple and not hard to grasp. I will not let people like this be forced on me and told I am bad for being for total equality and not standing with people I don't agree with.

I will not stand next to people like this. I am a American and being American to me means equality for ALL people. So end of story, no debate here. If you don't like my views or principals you do not have to like or follow me. I am good with that and respect that. I wont be lectured about who I associate with. I don't like the racist ass communists and I don't like the racist ass Alt right Nazis either. I don't like people of low character that judge people on there skin tone or sexuality.

So this is addressed to those who have an issue with those things. I am not obligated to support anyone I do not feel comfortable supporting so take your little high school popularity shit else where. I have done a lot of work for Liberty and will continue to do so but I will not compromise who I am to appease others. So God bless and lets pray for the patriots tomorrow in Portland. Lots of good people are there standing up for America and lets pray for their safety.

Have a great weekend, folks. I will be taking Shabbat as a time of rest, study, introspection - and prayer.


I had a difficult time as a kid in school; my family background was chaotic, and I didn't know how to relate to other people at all. I got bullied a lot. My experience of relationships with other people was mostly negative, so naturally I developed a gut-level assumption that most other people were basically hostile, and to be feared and avoided if at all possible.

Some time around age 15 or so, I decided that that wasn't how I wanted to live life, so I worked on starting to change. I started looking at myself and my own behaviors, listening to myself, and watching and listening to other people and how they interacted. I started reading self-help books like 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' (deservedly a classic, and one of my favorite books to this day). I worked on spending more time with the few classmates I could count as friends, and made more of an effort to become friendly with people I didn't know yet.

Books can help point you in the right direction, but they can be an escape if you're not careful. What helped in the long run was putting myself into different kinds of groups of different kinds of people and challenging myself to make the best of it.

It was a long, slow process, and 40 years later it's still a process. It was a lot of hard work. There was unlearning as well as learning involved. But now as a 55+ adult, I can honestly say that - even though I'll always be an introvert by nature - I'm comfortable around people.

Staying at the hostel the past few days brought this home to me. I thought I'd feel uncomfortable and intimidated among a lot of strangers - many of them from very different backgrounds - but I don't. I like people. I don't like everybody, but I like people.

2019-08-01 Thursday morning: Last day at the hostel.

Saw both TNG and Bunny yesterday and it was wonderful though too short. Am taking today to rest up and get ready for the trip back home to Oregon.

The stay at the hostel, though unplanned, has been fun. I can add this to my list of things that could potentially both enrich my life and save me money in the future. See, you're never too old to learn new things.

JRB: 'The Israeli century.'

Usually when I reference the Jewish Review of Books here at LJ, it's to share an article by my good friend Professor Michael Weingrad, who is a frequent contributor.

This time, though, it's for an article called The Jewsraeli Century by Yossi Shain and Michal Schwartz. The article cites a study of Israeli identity by Shmuel Rosner and Camil Fuchs, which concludes that 'What distinguishes these Jews from all who came previously is their complete “mixing of Jewishness and Israeliness.”'

This new Jewish type, the Jewsraeli, is a patriotic nationalist for whom fighting for Israel and its safety (“at any cost”) is the ultimate Jewish creed: “The Israeli Jew practices Judaism like no previous Jew.” Israeli Judaism is “an amalgamation of tradition and nationality. In many cases it is very hard—maybe impossible—to determine where the Jew ends and the Israeli begins, or where the Israeli ends and the Jew begins.”

Such Israeli Jews are, of course, very different from their American and European cousins whose national identities have been more or less distinct from their religious ones since the Enlightenment and Emancipation.

While Jewish identity within Israel seems to be solidifying (in contrast to earlier generations of Israelis where the rift between religious and secular Zionist communities was stark), diaspora Jewish identity - especially in America - appears to be moving in opposite directions. The liberal Jewish world is caught in an increasingly anti-Israel (and anti-Jewish) environment in the political left. 'If they distance themselves from Israel, they wither as Jews, and if they take on or defend the Israeli point of view, they lose their status as liberals.'

'The Jewish center of gravity—demographic, cultural, religious, political, and even economic—is in Jerusalem, not New York', declare Shain and Schwartz, and to some extent I agree. Demographics are going to continue to take a heavy toll on the liberal American Jewish population. Intermarriage and low birth rates portend a grim future for this community. (By contrast, even secular Israeli Jews - unlike their American counterparts - enjoy a high birth rate.)

One thing Shain and Schwartz don't discuss - except for an occasional aside - is the future of orthodox (or haredi) communities in the diaspora. Religious Jewish communities maintain a high birth rate and a strong sense of identity, and there is every indication that their numbers and influence will continue to grow. Also worth watching is the growing interest in conversion and in rediscovering Jewish roots, not only in America but around the world - particularly in Africa. These groups are still small in terms of absolute numbers, but they, too, are likely to grow. So I think the future may hold some very interesting trends for diaspora Jewry as well.

Kathleen Raine - Rock.

There is stone in me that knows stone,
Substance of rock that remembers the unending unending
Simplicity of rest
While scorching suns and ice ages
Pass over rock-face swiftly as days.
In the longest time of all come the rock’s changes,
Slowest of all rhythms, the pulsations
That raise from the planet’s core the mountain ranges
And weather them down to sand on the sea floor.

Endures in me record of rock’s duration.
My ephemeral substance was still in the veins
of the earth from the beginning,
Patient for its release, not questioning
When, when will come the flowering, the flowing,
The pulsing, the awakening, the taking wing,
The long longed-for night of the bridegroom’s coming.

There is stone in me that knows stone,
Whose sole state is stasis
While the slow cycle of he stars whirls a world of rock
Through light-years where in nightmare I fall crying
“Must I travel fathomless distance for ever and ever?”
All that is in me of the rock, replies
“For ever, if it must be: be, and be still;

by Kathleen Raine

Kathleen Raine was a friend of Jacob Bronowski, a fellow member of an avant-garde crative circle at Cambridge during Bronowski's studies there in the late 1920s. Raine

recalled having tea with [Bronowski] and [James] Reeves, feeling overwhelmed by his hyperintellectual speaking style and his habit of referring to himself 'with the editorial "we".'
(Sandefur, p,29.)

Like Bronowski, Raine would go on to become an expositor of William Blake, although it is not clear whether Raine was directly responsible for Bronowski's interest in Blake (p. 88).

This poem was included in a volume of science-themed poetry our family had when I was a kid, titled Imagination's Other Place. I still own the book, and this is still one of my favorite poems.

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Calculus.

Science was my first religion. I always wanted to understand how the world works. My parents were open-minded people, but we were a troubled family; I had a difficult time in school and performed poorly in the classroom.

In my teens and young adult years, I became increasingly interested in Judaism and began studying Hebrew. I respected the Jews - the nerdiest people on Earth! - for maintaining their tradition and values in the face of oppression, and even in modern times rebuilding a nation and an army. Learning to follow and practice the Torah way of live - albeit VERY imperfectly! - helped me stay sane and has kept me balanced and grounded over the years.

These days I'm more grounded and more disciplined than when I was younger, and I don't have the distraction of a lot of dysfunction and drama in my personal life. So I'm looking forward to investing some effort in learning science and mathematics.