Douglas Rushkoff is cred­ited as the ide­o­logue behind the “dig­i­tal Sabbath.” He’s a smart guy: Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at CUNY; media com­men­ta­tor; author; first coined the terms “dig­i­tal natives,” “social cur­rency,” and “viral media”… yada yada… his whole bio is on Wikipedia if you want it.

Several years ago, he argued that peo­ple needed to take time away from dig­i­tal media. And because he was into the Jewish thing at the time, that idea mor­phed into the notion of a “dig­i­tal Sabbath.” And then some­thing called The National Day of Unplugging was estab­lished by ReBoot. (ReBoot is an orga­ni­za­tion built on an annual gath­er­ing which Rushkoff helped to con­vene, ini­tially. But he now calls it elit­ist.) The National Day of Unplugging exists to encour­age peo­ple to take their own dig­i­tal Sabbaths, all on the same day.

Now, Rushkoff says he doesn’t like the idea any­more. From the Guardian, Douglas Rushkoff: ‘I’m think­ing it may be good to be off social media alto­gether’:

I came up with this thing which I now don’t like: the dig­i­tal sab­bath. It feels a lit­tle forced and arbi­trary, and it frames dig­i­tal detox as a depri­va­tion. I would much rather help peo­ple learn to value look­ing into other people’s eyes. To sit in a room talk­ing to peo­ple – I want peo­ple to value that, not because they aren’t being inter­rupted by dig­i­tal media but because it’s valu­able in its own right.

That’s novel, I sup­pose. (Though I’m pretty sure Ari Kelman wouldn’t think so.)

jeb-bush

Jeb.

Today was the GOP pri­mary in South Carolina. Jeb Bush just dropped out of the race because he failed to receive the sup­port of pri­mary vot­ers in three states whose del­e­gates — com­bined! — make up 3.5% (19/538) of the elec­toral col­lege.

(In other words, these states are basi­cally irrel­e­vant in the national elec­tion, yet some­how some­one gave their most extreme vot­ers — the ones who show up for the pri­maries — the power to sink a viable candidate’s chances of get­ting the nom­i­na­tion in favor of a guy who is demon­stra­bly loony toons.)

I’m by no means a fan of Jeb Bush, and a part of me won­ders if it helps Dems’ chances in November if the Republicans end up let­ting extrem­ist vot­ers in small states nom­i­nate an openly racist can­di­date to the party’s ticket. But seri­ously… if this isn’t enough to give some legs to efforts to change the pri­mary sys­tem, I don’t know what will.

Also, won­der­ing: After the way Trump took every oppor­tu­nity to pub­licly bad­mouth, embar­rass, shame, and vil­ify him and his fam­ily, if Trump ends up being the can­di­date will Jeb even cast a bal­lot in November?

for our daughter.

On the occasion of your naming. February 27, 2015.
Peninsula Temple Beth El, San Mateo, California

Sara's baby naming.

October 1981.

Sela Penina Mason-Barkin, or Penina Selah in Hebrew.

A big name for a very, very little girl. But we know that no matter how small you are now, you will grow into this name — this name that was so carefully chosen for you.

Sela Penina, you are named for two very strong, intelligent, loving, and beautiful women.

Your first name, Sela, is for your GG – your Great- Grandma Selma. Sela, you are your GG’s sixteenth great-grandchild, so we know exactly how much she would have loved to meet you. Just like she loved meeting your cousins and your big brother, watching you play would have made her blue eyes twinkle and when we placed you on her lap, I know she would have chuckled deeply.

In her absence, we have given you a name that not only sounds like hers but that we also hope will inspire you live up to some of her most special qualities.

Your GG possessed a quiet strength and a grace that allowed her live an incredible and full life, even after the death of your great grandpa, Carl. At her funeral, many spoke about the ways that she contributed to her husband’s business success – and how in another day and age she would have been running the store herself. Well my little Sela, here you are – in another day and age. I know that it wouldn’t matter to your GG what your passion comes to be – whether you find yourself loving writing or music or math: but it would matter to her that you put your whole self into it. This is our wish for your, too.

Another enduring lesson from your GG that we hope you will always take to heart is the importance of family. Your GG made it a priority to make sure that family always got together, and really got to know one another. You have already begun to live this without even knowing it, when you welcomed two of your big cousins to come visit you when you were still in the hospital. Your brother Charlie and all your big cousins Zachy, Eliza, Aviva and Caleb already love you so much – and you have so much to learn from them. Your GG would have loved to know how important they already are to you, and our hope for you is that family will always come first – and that you will always make this a priority.

Your middle name, Penina, is for your Great Grandmother, Ina. We find the letters of her name at the end of yours. Your Great Grandmother was also a source of strength for her family and force in her community. She was a Dean at Clark University and valued education and learning for herself and for her family. If your Great Grandmother was still here, she would want to play scrabble with you, teach you three syllable words, and talk with you about current events. As you strive to reach your big dreams, we hope you do so with a thirst for knowledge and love of learning that would make your great-grandmother so proud.

Your great-grandmother was very cerebral, but also appreciated beauty and detail. One of her most wonderful qualities that I, unfortunately, did not inherit, was to set a beautiful table and host a gorgeous holiday meal. She always hosted with pleasure and beauty. Whether or not you love to cook, we hope that you will always strive for balance between the intellectual and the aesthetic. We want you to find beauty everywhere you look, just as we see beauty when we look at you.

Sela Penina, or Penina Selah in Hebrew:

Penina in Hebrew means Pearl. Your great-grandmother Ina had terrific taste in jewelry, and a few years ago she gave me a beautiful pearl necklace of hers, which will someday be yours. When I wear it, I think about not only the beauty of the pearls, but about the pearls of wisdom that your great grandmother would share as she tried her best to help me in the kitchen, as she set a beautiful table, or as she quizzed me on the meaning of a new word.

Selah in Hebrew means Rock. Just a few months ago, at your GG’s funeral, we remembered her lovingly as ‘the rock’ of our family. She kept us all, and continues to keep us all together as she heads the family with her loving strength. In the book of Deuteronomy, God is described as nursing Israel with dvash miselah, honey from a rock. Like your GG, a rock is strong. It is steadfast and withstands much. But like you, and like your GG, this imagery shows us a rock filled with honey: a rock that is sweet, a rock performing an act of love. This describes your GG to a tee, and so too may you be as strong as you are sweet.

Our little Sela Penina, Penina Selah, we realize these names are a lot to live up to for a little tiny baby. But there are no two women more deserving of a namesake as precious as you. Welcome to the world, we are so proud to be your parents.

Love,

Mom and Dad

From “Synagogue-based Religious Schools: A Community Responsibility,” by Lisa Harris Glass and Stephanie Hausner

We have spent a gen­er­a­tion dis­pro­por­tion­ately focused on day schools, thereby rel­e­gat­ing sup­ple­men­tal reli­gious schools to second-class sta­tus. Our efforts have done noth­ing to increase day school choice in the major­ity of the Jewish com­mu­nity; but have served to suc­cess­fully demor­al­ize sup­ple­men­tal school edu­ca­tion direc­tors and dec­i­mate the bench of qual­ity, qual­i­fied, inspir­ing reli­gious school teach­ers. We have con­signed our num­ber one oppor­tu­nity to inspire/ignite a life­long love of Judaism and pos­i­tive Jewish iden­tity to “less than,” “wannabe” sta­tus.

Whoa. Because truth.

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  • January 6, 2015

Twenty years ago, I was always read­ing at least one book. And I’d read dozens — maybe hun­dreds — each year.

Now? I can’t remem­ber the last time I read a book. But…

IMG_5227-1.PNG

I’m def­i­nitely read­ing more than ever.

unlocked iPhone 6 works great in the uk.
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  • December 29, 2014

The short ver­sion: This arti­cle from MacWorld UK is wrong. A US-purchased unlocked iPhone 6 works just fine in the UK. (If that’s all you wanted to know, I fig­ured I’d spare you the details. If you want to know more, read on…) Read More

limmud handouts available for download.
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  • December 28, 2014

Here’s where you’ll find my hand­outs from Limmud 2014 in Coventry, England. (I’m post­ing them live on the day of the ses­sion. All hand­outs should be up as of January 1, 2015.)

If you have any ques­tions, or if you’re look­ing for some­thing that should be here but isn’t, drop me an email.

the handouts.

Hacking Hanukkah to Design the Jewish Future:

This return to the blog has turned into a shar­ing of other people’s wis­dom rather than my own. That is prob­a­bly the best assur­ance that it is actu­ally wis­dom! Today is no excep­tion.

Read the rest

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  • October 25, 2014

Just text me, ok?

Please Do Not Leave A Message: Why Millennials Hate Voice Mail:

We’ve all heard that auto­mated voice mail lady, telling us what to do after the beep. But fewer peo­ple than ever are leav­ing mes­sages. And the mil­len­ni­als, they won’t even lis­ten to them — they’d much rather receive a text or Facebook mes­sage.

So true. I really really hate voice­mail.

Read the rest

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  • August 28, 2014

I backed a Kickstarter cam­paign. And it paid off, which is to say that I even­tu­ally received an actual prod­uct in the mail. Here it is, ladies and gen­tle­men: the Almond+ wifi router. (Pics inside.)

Read More

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  • August 26, 2014

Instagram’s new Hyperlapse app is amaz­ing.

Basically, it sta­bi­lizes video as it shoots it (or soon there­after) and allows you to play back at var­i­ous speeds. It’s time­lapse pho­tog­ra­phy in super-smooth mode, or a replace­ment for a very expen­sive video sta­bi­liza­tion rig.

Instagram HyperlapseThe secret, accord­ing to a Wired pro­file, is that the app doesn’t try to sta­bi­lize with any­thing like the fancy (and very processor-intensive) soft­ware found in high-end video pro­duc­tion soft­ware. Rather, it uses data from the iPhone’s built-in gyro­scopes to sim­ply adjust for move­ment.

My ini­tial reac­tion to the app was (a) won­der­ment, and (b) hope­ful­ness that the app would let me import media (like, um, from my GoPro?).

After read­ing the Wired arti­cle, it’s clear that the Hyperlapse app won’t work with imported mate­r­ial, since the whole point is that it records the gyro­scopic data as it’s record­ing (and adjusts the video accord­ingly).

But what if…

  1. We use a rig that mounts an iPhone directly to a GoPro, cam­corder, or DSLR. (There’s this cool mount for GoPro, or you could just use any dual-camera tri­pod mount, like this one.)
  2. We have an app on the phone (like Hyperlapse) that records the gyro­scopic data.
  3. We then take the video footage from the GoPro/camcorder/DSLR and plug it into a desk­top app along with the iPhone app’s gyro­scopic data. It could then sta­bi­lize the video using that data — just like the Hyperlapse app, but as a post-processing tech­nique rather than “in-camera.”

For this to work, you need to be able to pre­cisely (!) sync the gyroscope’s data with the video. For that rea­son, I’m won­der­ing if the app might record audio, which the post-processing desk­top app could use to sync the recorded data’s time with the footage. As you begin record­ing, it could even emit a beep or clap­per sound or some­thing sim­i­lar that would be picked up by the video camera’s mic. (The desk­top app could know to look for that pre­cise sound.)

Or… we could sync even eas­ier. Both my GoPro and my Canon 6D can be con­trolled by cor­re­spond­ing iPhone apps. What if the gyro­scope data col­lec­tion was sim­ply built into those apps. Then, you could trig­ger record­ing on the cam­era direct from the phone and simul­ta­ne­ously begin record­ing the data needed for sta­bi­liza­tion.

I have no idea what kind of patent that Instagram (err… Facebook) has on this tech. My point is that this one amaz­ing inno­va­tion has the poten­tial to be a big-time game changer, since all the other pieces already exist (or, in the case of the desk­top app, should be doable by apply­ing exist­ing tech). With some­thing like I described above, you could replace an expen­sive sta­bi­liza­tion rig with an iPhone, a mount­ing bracket, and some sim­ple (ish) soft­ware.

From “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League The nation’s top col­leges are turn­ing our kids into zom­bies”:

What an indict­ment of the Ivy League and its peers: that col­leges four lev­els down on the aca­d­e­mic totem pole, enrolling stu­dents whose SAT scores are hun­dreds of points lower than theirs, deliver a bet­ter edu­ca­tion, in the high­est sense of the word.

I can’t speak for the Ivy Leagues, but my fourth-tier lib­eral arts col­lege did a pretty good job.

Max Steinberg grew up in the same part of Los Angeles where I did, and he grad­u­ated from my high school, though it was a decade after I was last there. So I never met him. But I’ve read a lot about him this week, after he died while serv­ing in the IDF in Gaza and his story became the par­a­dig­matic nar­ra­tive about Americans who go to Israel to join the army.

And I read with inter­est when one of my favorite writ­ers, Slate’s Allison Benedikt wrote about Steinberg yes­ter­day in a much-Facebooked arti­cle.

birthrightThe piece has come under fire because Benedikt seems to be claim­ing that Birthright killed Max Steinberg. Or at least that’s what the crit­ics are say­ing.

I don’t think that’s what Benedikt was try­ing to say. As I read it, she’s answer­ing a ques­tion that a lot of non-Jews (and non-engaged Jews) might be ask­ing: What made this kid — who never seemed to be all that Jewy before — decide to pick up and join the Israeli army? That’s a legit­i­mate ques­tion. How many American kids ship off to fight for the Dutch army or the Argentinian navy? (Not very many, I would think.)

Benedikt answers the ques­tion by explain­ing that (a) Steinberg’s par­ents credit Birthright, and (b) Birthright’s goal is to get American kids to care about Israel. Her assess­ment seems to be: Look! It worked.

And, “at some point dur­ing their all-expenses-paid ten-day trip to a land where, as they are con­stantly reminded, every moun­tain and val­ley is inscribed with 5,000 years of their people’s his­tory,” there is “the moment”— the moment when par­tic­i­pants real­ize just how impor­tant Israel is to them, to their fun­da­men­tal iden­tity, and how impor­tant they are to Israel.

According to Steinberg’s par­ents, that is exactly what hap­pened to Max.

Birthright’s defend­ers should take her arti­cle as a com­pli­ment, not an attack.

Benedikt does make one impor­tant crit­i­cal point:

People say Birthright is “just like camp,” and it sure sounds like a very con­densed ver­sion of the Jewish camp I attended as a kid, whose pur­pose was, at the very least, to fos­ter a con­nec­tion to Israel in young Jews—and at best, to get us to move to the coun­try and fight for it. My camp, filled with the chil­dren of lib­eral American Jews, did this by pre­sent­ing a very sim­plis­tic pic­ture of the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Israel and the threat to Jews world­wide, all within the con­text of help­ing to fix the world while hav­ing the time of your life. Birthright does a form of the same.

Um… are peo­ple say­ing she’s off base here? It seems to me that it’s a fair crit­i­cism. Birthright is a ten-day trip, partly because the 6-week sum­mer trips that existed before its incep­tion weren’t attract­ing unen­gaged, dis­con­nected Jews (like, um, Max Steinberg). Since it’s begin­nings, I’ve heard lots of Jewish edu­ca­tors who are Birthright sup­port­ers (and I think I count myself in that group) admit that ten days is just a taste, and that it presents a “sim­plis­tic pic­ture.” (And we usu­ally say that if Birthright does its job, we’ll have lots of chances to add lay­ers of com­plex­ity to that pic­ture as the attendee engages post-trip.)

Is Benedikt’s atti­tude toward Birthright a lit­tle cyn­i­cal? Sure. It should be. It’s a multi-million dol­lar PR cam­paign for Israel and Jewish iden­tity. It deserves to be exam­ined with some healthy cyn­i­cism.

Moral of the story: Chillax. Allison Benedikt said noth­ing wrong.

Lets say that for some rea­son you needed a SATA cable or two. Or six. You think to your­self, “I guess I should head down to the store,” or you mozy your online self over to Monoprice or Amazon or what­ever.

sata-cablesYeah. Don’t do that. I’m pretty sure I have twenty extras lay­ing around. They’re angled and I needed straight, or I already bought some and hooked them up before open­ing up the mount­ing cage to find that it came with five, or they’re just attracted to me… I don’t know. Somehow I ended up with more SATA cables than any one per­son could use in a life­time. And how did I end up with six or seven extra case fans in var­i­ous sizes?

While I’m at it, I’m pretty sure I have dozens of HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort cables. And USB (3.0 and 2.0) cables in the hun­dreds. And at least a cou­ple extra Thunderbolt cables. Don’t even get me started on 4-pin Molex power cables.

Moral of the story: If you need any of this stuff, message/email/call/text. Most of it’s free to any­one who’ll give it a good home. (OK… I can’t give away the Thunderbolt cables for free. But the rest.) Think the cable/adapter/dongle you need is insanely obscure? I prob­a­bly have six of them. Try me.