Friday, 23 June 2017


I had thought that it was mostly the Church of England that was schisming over gayness. It turns out that Jews are too.

It all comes from Leviticus 18 and 20. "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them."

Obviously, as this is from a Holy Book, it has to be interpreted. My interpretation is, "If two men have sex, they must be killed". Other people interpret this differently, as anything from "Not a problem" to "Gay sex forbidden, but no death penalty". I notice that hardly anyone (Daesh excepted) still holds to the death penalty part.

And the problem is, if you think that your Holy Book is the infallible word of God, then the words in it are important, and it's important to use the correct interpretation. Except that the Holy Book doesn't tell you the correct interpretation. So you have to argue about it. And there is, actually, no basis for argument except what you feel is right and proper, and if you're able to know what you think is right and proper, what's the Holy Book doing for you? Don't look at me for answers, I'm an atheist.

There isn't only one Jewish community, of course, just as there isn't just one kind of Christian. There's Ashkenazis (like me, origin in Russia/Poland) and there's Sephardis (like my sister's husband, origins Iraq/India/Spain). The main difference, as far as I can tell, is the cuisine. And I prefer Ashkenazi cuisine (as cooked by my wife's brother's wife), but my sister is also skilled in the Sephardi cuisine, and the Seder meal at her place is always a treat. Ladysolly, of course, can cook anything.

Perhaps a bigger divide is on frumness, how pious you are. There's the Liberal and Reform jews, who (I think) don't eat bacon but are otherwise indistinguishable from the Goyim. There's the Conservative synagogue, which my mother would have attended if she had ever attended synagogue, and where I was Barmitzvahed at an age before I felt confident enough to "just say no", and there's the Charedis.

The Charedis are the ones who "dress like jews". Go to Stamford Hill and you'll see them all over. Or Golders Green. Long black coats, white shirts, funny hats ... why do so many religious mark themselves out with funny hats? It isn't compulsory to dress like that, but it is traditional, and tradition is really important to those guys.


Rabbi Dweck, the senior rabbi of the UK Sephardi Charedis, gave a lecture on male homosexuality last April, and the resulting controversy has been raging ever since.

I'm not even going to try to summarise his position - if you're interested, Google is your friend. But it's very clear that there's at least two sides being taken, and the similarity to the C of E schism is striking.

So let me put in my own view here. The problem is, there is now a *lot* of people who understand perfectly well that gay sex is nobody's business except for the people doing it. And a lot of people who think, well, as long as no third party is getting hurt, why should we care what consenting adults do together?

Well, that's not the problem. The problem, is, of course, the Holy Book, which spells out unambiguously that this is an *abomination*, and in case that isn't crystal clear, it explains "they shall surely be put to death". Leviticus is, of course, the Old Testament, one of the five books of Moses and so revered by the Jews. And the Christians have a very ambivalent attitude towards the Old Testament; sometimes saying that it's part of God's infallible word, and sometimes saying that it's been replaced by the New Testament (they use the word "fulfilled" but they actually mean "replaced"). But, as in all things holy, you pick and choose the bits you like, and although some Christians go with the abomination bit, others prefer to ignore it. Just like they ignore the stuff about shellfish. Go figure.

So how do you reconcile what you brain is telling you, with what your Holy Book is telling you? You can't. So you're stuck with believing two mutually contradictory things, and that's called Cognitive Dissonance although personally I prefer the term  "Doublethink". And doublethink must be painful.

Thank god, I'm an atheist, so I don't have to struggle with this. My only problem is to find a sufficiently large bag of popcorn as I watch the fatuous frenzied fight.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Fox hunting gone

After I voted in the recent election, I stopped outside the polling station to deliver a diatribe to a man wearing a blue rosette, on the subject of "Your revisiting of the fox hunting laws is one of the main reasons I didn't vote Tory this time. It was a stupid hostage to fortune and will probably cost you the election."

He would have passed the comment along to the Conservative Party HQ, and as a result, the possible re-legalisation of this barbaric practice whereby the unspeakable pursue the uneatable and kill it, will not happen.

It's nice when my views affect government policy.

The end of austerity?

 The end of austerity?

Except that, as I've pointed out quite a few times, austerity never happened. What I do find hard to understand is how people got fooled into thinking that it did.

I can understand why the Tories pretended it was happening, they being the Party of Fiscal Responsibility, and I can understand why Labour pretended it was happening, the Tories being the Party of All Nastiness.

The only way that the general public could have fallen for this scam, is if people don't actually look at figures.

Is that possible?

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Hot hot hot

It was 32 degrees today. If you're American, it was 90.

Tomorrow, it's forecast to be 34. It reminds me of 1976.

In 1976, we had a long, hot summer, and a drought, and a hosepipe ban. My allotment was like a desert even with heavy use of my watering can. At work, we used to go into the computer room just to cool down.

I planted several times as many lettuces as I thought we wanted, on the expectation that they'd nearly all die, but then the government appointed Denis Howell as Minister for Drought, and that worked, because we got lots of rain. My lettuces flourished, and I had so many that I brought a couple of dozen into work, and we went down to the Royal Park and had a lettuce tasting party, wiith wine.

If it gets too bad tomorrow, I'm going to hole up in my data center and turn the air conditioning up to "Arctic".

I don't know the word for that

My vocabulary is pretty good, I think (although I recently learned "metonymy" and I'm keen to find a place to use it). But I was stumped today.

I went to visit the doctor, we're still working on clearing up the last vestiges of my Dreaded Lurgi. I have a bit of a wheeze, sometimes and a bit of a cough, and slight phlegm. The doctor calls it "asthma".

So the doctor asked me to describe how it felt, and I explained about the intermittent wheeze, and that I'm coughing a bit more than I'd expect to, and then I tried to describe the other symptom, and I had a problem.

The word is "chaiseriche". That's a word I learned from my mother, and I'm guessing that it's yiddish but I don't actually know that. It's the word I've always used to describe this feeling, and ladysolly doesn't know what it means (and nor did the doctor, of course). But I can't think of an English word to describe the tickly-hoarse-coughy sensation that is encapsulated in "chaiseriche".

Monday, 19 June 2017

Thoughts and prayers

At last, I've learned of a disaster in which the "thoughts and prayers" response is appropriate.

From: William Snyder <>

I really hope you get this fast. I could not inform anyone about our trip, because it was
impromptu. We had to be in Philippines for a Tour..the program was successful, but our journey
has turned sour. We misplaced our wallets and cell phones on our way back to the hotel after we
went for sight seeing. The wallet contains all the valuables we have. Now, our luggage is in
custody of the hotel management pending when we make payment.
I am sorry if i am inconveniencing you, but I have only very few people to turn to now. I will
be very grateful if I can get a short term loan of ($1,950) from you. This will enable me sort
our hotel bills and get my sorry self back home. I will really appreciate whatever you can
afford at this moment. I promise to refund it in full as soon as I return. Please let me know if
you can be of any assistance.
Will Snyder

Oh no! That's terrible. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Sunday, 18 June 2017


I glanced at my spam folder just now, and I noticed something. Nearly every spam is for medication!

What happened to the offers of large amounts of money? What happened to the offers of employment (money mules). What happened to the things that I'm supposed to click on that installs ransomware?