Re: 5 threads in 1

Ron Resnick (
Tue, 17 Jun 1997 15:09:38 +0300 (EET DST)

Rob Harley wrote:
> Jim Whitehead wrote:
> Subject: Re: Once again, what's a PASSLQ.
> >Of course, even this category doesn't cover all the situations, since
> >presumably you would want to separate people who are living together in a
> >committed relationship from those people who are roomates who happen to be
> >of the appropriate sex, but they're just roomates.
> Perhaps the census bureau should get over the pretense that they
> really care who you're sharing living quarters with... enough of the
> euphemisms! Replace POSSLQ with WAYS: Who Are You Screwing?

Of course not all couples screw. Regardless of gender preference,
liveness of partner preference, blessings of church or otherwise,
even an intimate shackup can occur without actual coitus.
In fact I'd venture a guess that a non-trivial amount of married
couples are celibate at home, and do all their screwing on the side.

> Ernie P wrote:
> Subject: Re: Israel is heaven for writers?
> >Well, I'm not sure "most" is entirely accurate. The Torah, except perhaps
> >for parts of Genesis, was written in Egypt and the desert before entering
> >Israel. Several of the prophets wrote from Babylon. Many of the Psalms
> >were composed while David was 'on the run.'
> Hmmm. I was under the impression that these were oral traditions that
> came into significance as a means of strengthening the Jewish identity
> in the troubled centuries between the great kings and the hellenistic
> period. I.e., most would have been committed to paper in the 6th
> century BC in exile in Babylon or adjoining centuries in Israel or
> Judah, in any case long after the events of the Pentateuch. Maybe I'm
> talking through my ass as usual.

I guess I better take this one as the token FoRK-ex-Talmud-student.

Actually Rob, you're not that far, just you mixed up the Psalms with
the Talmud. The Psalms, as Ernie notes, were written (so legend
goes) by Kind David, and are considered part of the written
tradition in the Old Testament in Hebrew, literally,
the "Torah SheBichtav" - the written Torah.

There's another parallel liturgy - the "Torah SheBe'al Peh" - the
oral record. This was (again according to legend) spoken verbally
at Sinai by God to Moses, who in turn passed it verbally down
through the generations from teacher to pupil. As Rob notes,
at a certain point they started to fear losing it all (no
persistent state), and random bit-flips started entering
the generational transfers (no checksums). So they started writing it all down.
First, they wrote down the mishna, which is the core of the
Talmud, then they wrote down the gemarah, which is a whole
set of rabbinic interpretations of the mishna. The gemarah
reflects all the messaging errors - every rabbi has his
own spin on what a statement in the mishna really means, and
they debate it for pages. There are actually 2 different
gemarahs- the Babylonian one written in - you guessed it,
and the Yerushalmic one, written in the Holy Land itself.
All the mishnas and associated gemaras form the collective
Talmud, and all those guys you see in New York or LA or
Paris with the severe black clothing, long beards, payos
(those long hanging sideburns), and black hats spend
most of their life sitting in seminaries studying it.

Gemara actually can be fun. It can be like following
a weird FoRK thread that starts somewhere intelligble
(the mishna, or the innocuous kickoff post).
But then it meanders through what the students of
Rav Rohit ben Khare think they word "smegma" means
versus what the disciples of HaGaon Yosef HaBarrera HaShlishi overheard
him tell his wife one morning about its annagram "e.g. - Mass".
Soon enough everybody's lost :-).
(btw, literal translation is "The Exalted Genius Joseph The Barrera
the Third"). Unfortunately far too little of the Talmud seems
to deal with smegma- most of it that I learned dealt with
who owes whom how many years of indentured servitute as compensation
for allowing their ox to gore the other guy's ox, or for leaving an open pit
for their ox to fall into, etc. Not enough juicy parts - it would
never catch on as a soap pilot. Except maybe for an audience of oxen.

So, while I'm responding to Rob Harley, and now that FoRK has
become such a lovefest of soul-baring, who is Rob Harley anyway?
How does an Irishman wind up in France? Why did he go to Caltech
only to return to France? Why does he keep an Irish flag on his
web page? Is he going back to Ireland one day?
Why does his thumbnail jpeg look like he's trying to
scare everyone away? Is he? What is ML? What is so great about
it that I'd never, ever heard about it until 2 months ago,
and now I *keep* hearing about it (e.g. did you know
that the Cornell crowd is implementing all of Ensemble in ML?)
Something to do with provability, whatever that means.