May it be rebuilt.

This morning I paid a visit to the Chabad synagogue in Southwest Portland where I used to pray. I hadn't seen the shul since the fire. (There were actually two fires - the first probably accidental, the second almost certainly arson.) I'd heard at the time that it had been "damaged", which I assumed meant something short of "completely gutted", and in my imagination I pictured perhaps a few scorch marks around the roof. That was wishful thinking. What I saw when I got there was that the building was completely boarded up on all sides, and padlocked. It was readily apparent that there were going to be no prayer services held there at any time in the near future.

The congregation also operates a religious school across the street, and I believe that's where they are holding services now. Still, the burned building was a grim sight.

The period following the mourning of Tisha b'Av (commemorating the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem) is designated as a period of consolation, when we look forward to the redemption of a better era in the future. And that's the feeling I will try to hang on to now.


'Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine-passport protests erupted across Europe on July 24, according to media photos and videos. Thousands upon thousands of demonstrators came out in London, Dublin, Paris, Rome, Athens, and other cities across Europe, according to footage and news reports. The demonstrations in France appeared to be the most tense, with riot police firing tear gas as clashes erupted in central Paris. ...'

'South Australia State’s capital Adelaide will go into a seven-day lockdown and in announcing this, officials there said that in order to more efficiently implement their contact tracing scheme, they will use QR scan information to determine people’s location. In addition, the authorities will also be accessing people’s bank account details and CCTV cameras, while restaurant owners are said to be “aware of this” and working very closely with the state. ...'

'Left-wing activists in downtown Portland vandalized the historic Holy Redeemer Catholic Church on Rosa Parks Way in mid-July. The culprits spray-painted the main entrance’s glass doors with symbols and messages such as “land back” and “f— colonizers + their gods.” While disappointed, Father Michael Belinksy, the associate pastor, said the vandalism pales in comparison to Christians who are denied their rights, tortured, and killed. Volunteers from the church and its staff removed the graffiti the following morning. ...'

The economy of Eden.

It's been said that the Garden of Eden was not an economy, because there was unlimited abundance and no scarcity.

I would amend this to say that there was no scarcity for material goods (food and drink), but there was indeed scarcity because there was something that the humans desired (the forbidden fruit) that was not available to them.

And I think this points us in the direction of realizing that humankind has needs that are not purely physical in nature, but rather spiritual. And that those spiritual needs are intimately connected with the need to exercise free will, to make one's own choices (and one's own mistakes), to provide for oneself and for others, and to act with awareness and dignity as a being created in the image of G-d.

Leftist / conservative asymmetry: two visions.

'The two visions differ fundamentally, not only in how they see the world, but also in how those who believe in these visions see themselves. If you happen to believe in free markets, judicial restraint, traditional values and other features of the tragic vision, then you are just someone who believes in free markets, judicial restraint and traditional values. There is no personal exaltation inherent in those beleifs. But to be for "social justice" and "saving the environment" or to be "anti-war" is more than just a set of hypotheses about empirical facts. This vision puts you on a higher moral plane as someone concerned and compassionate ...

In short, one vision makes you somebody special and the other does not. These visions are not symmetrical.'
- Thomas Sowell, 'Intellectuals and Society'

I think this passage gets a lot of things right about the appeal of the leftist program: if you believe the doctrine, then you believe that what distinguishes you from people who disagree with you is that you're a *better person* than they are.

A few pages earlier, Sowell fleshes out the concept of the tragic vision:

'..."the darker picture" painted by Thucydides of "a human race that escaped chaos and barbarism by preserving with difficulty a thin layer of civilization" based on "moderation and prudence" growing out of experience.'

I do not think conservatism, as Sowell formulates it here, needs to accept that it is doomed to follow an uninspiring vision, i.e. the tragic vision. I'm not keen on the term "tragic vision" because it sounds too, well, tragic. I would prefer to call it the "triumphant vision" because it affirms the possibility of triumph at every moment over the forces that would make us less than we truly are.

Online shopping and privacy.

Target has joined Whole Foods in showing my in-store purchase history when I'm logged in on my online account, even when I have not used a club card. I can only assume that the retail industry was able to quietly overcome whatever legal obstacle previously prevented them from tying your purchases to your bank card directly.

Psaki wants blanket blacklist for "misinformation".

The World Wide Web has been with us since 1993, social media for almost that long. Before Facebook and Twitter, there was Blogspot and, well, LiveJournal.

In that time, people have died from disease, accidents, violence, suicide, and all sorts of causes. All sorts of information and advice - true and false, trustworthy and questionable - has been posted to web pages around the world. If you were a web user, you understood that it was your job to sort out fact from falsehood for yourself. That was the whole idea of having access to the internet.

So now, all of a sudden, "misinformation" on the internet is a problem? And the technocrats who formerly contented themselves to make the connections and facilitate the communication, have now taken it upon themselves to be the arbiters of truth? And we're supposed to trust them?

Yeah, that's gonna be a no from me.

Study finds Queen Kate a "bad messenger" for vaccine.

Well, Governor Kate Brown is indeed a bad messenger, but that's not the main thing. The whole premise of this survey is "If only we could find the right 'messenger' to tell you to do the thing we want you to do, then we could get you to do the thing."

That doesn't account for the fact that at the end of the day, many of us ultimately make that decision based on how we assess the risks and benefits, irrespective of who the 'messenger' is.

If you wanted to get my trust on this issue, you would have to undo the actions of every major health organization, and all of the social media censorship on the issue, for the past 18 months.

Arizona: State Senator Wendy Rogers calls for recall of Biden electors.

'Following the explosive hearing on Thursday Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers called on the state to recall the Biden electors and conduct a new election. ...'

'I have heard enough. With the tens of thousands of ballots mailed without being requested, the over ten thousand people who voted after registering after November 3rd, the failure of Maricopa to turn over the 40% machines, the passwords that Dominion still refuses to turn over, & tens of thousands of unauthorized queries demonstrating how insecure the election was, I call for the Biden electors to be recalled to Arizona & a new election must be conducted. Arizona’s electors must not be awarded fraudulently & we need to get this right.'

Arizona: Maricopa County auditors seek more items.

'Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, told senators at the Arizona State Capitol during a hearing that auditors can find no record of the county sending more than 74,000 mail-in ballots. Ben Cotton, CEO of CyFIR, a subcontractor working on the audit, said the analysis of the election management system and network uncovered “severe cybersecurity problems,” including that antivirus programs weren’t up to date. ...'


'He claims to have supported a Senate audit now that he knows the results are coming in hot. ...'

'Recently, Pres. Biden appointed Gov. Kate Brown as one of 9 governors to serve two-year terms on his Council of Governors. The bipartisan group is slated to serve as the lead forum to strengthen partnerships between the federal and state governments to better protect the nation from security threats. Gov. Gretchen Witmer, known for being among the most controversial and unpopular governors during the COVID-19 pandemic, is also included. ...'

'The White House press secretary Jen Psaki has made a startling admission at a press briefing on Thursday that the US government is actively coordinating with Facebook to flag the posts of United States citizens for being “problematic” and containing COVID-19 “misinformation.” ...'