Ken (Chanoch) Bloom's Blog

8th August 2011

Zachor Hashem l'Yehudah

Translation of the Kinah זכור ה׳ ליהודה (found on page 239 of the Or VaDerech siddur for fast days). The Hebrew text and recordings are available at http://www.piyut.org.il/textual/933.html

Remember, Hashem, Yehuda and Efraim, whose blood was spilled like water surrounding Jerusalem

Remember, Hashem, the one you called your anointed whose body you made like a sieve there wasn't a remaining arrow they didn't shoot into him to break the softness of his hands

Remember, Hashem, the eighty thousand kohanim who fled and went to the Ishmaelites. When they saw them, they set up tents for them with food, and stuff their carcasses and they quenched their thirst without water.

Remember, Hashem, the fathers and their children, who the evil head butcher [Nebuzaradan] killed. With the blood of the kohen who offered sacrifices and trapped them like birds in a snare. From this destruction, spare their ears.

Remember, Hashem, the modest widow whose seven sons were killed by the children of injustice - the evil kingdom of Greece. She, herself, fell and declined. On this, all my innards stirred.

Remember, Hashem, the ten martyrs who fell by the hands of harsh kings to the sword and to the flame. They were skinned like lambs and goats to sanctify the name of the one who dwells on high.

Permalink | kinot, kinot-translation.
8th August 2011

L'mi Ebcheh

Translation of the Kinah למי אבכה (found on page 220 of the Or VaDerech siddur for fast days). The Hebrew text and recordings are available at http://www.piyut.org.il/textual/515.html

To whom I cry and raise my hands and in my crying express bitterness and my innards are stirred up.

The mikdash, aron, and cherubim that the ravens and kipod bird nest there.

And the duchan that was prepared eternally for the Levites to sing to God with joy.

They were from heaven - The leaves [of parchment in] the urim and tumim The kohanim on watch [in the mikdash].

And on the death of the wise ones, [who are] the house of God Magicians and sorcerers came [in their place].

Alas! The light of halacha dimmed. And the Talmud sits solitary. Who remains to study it?

And the secrets of Torah - who will bring them to light? And what great men of the generation will be distressed over this?

Disgraced ones fell, children and babies. There's nobody to raise them up, nobody to have pity and mercy on them.

On this I wail, every day and every night, in mourning over the enormous pain of all this.

With bitterness, I wail, and as a fellow sufferer, I call to the kipod bird with tears. Please have mercy on the dust of Zion.

I cease the sound of my joyous singing, and I lament "Alas! She sits in solitude."

Permalink | kinot, kinot-translation.
8th August 2011

Bat Ami

Translation of the Kinah זכור ה׳ ליהודה (found on page 310 of the Or VaDerech siddur for fast days).

The daughter of my people wails in her sorrow, about Chanah and her seven sons, because all seven were slaughtered before her eyes, and she fell and died on her sons.

They were pressured to forsake God and serve Bel, and to testify against the one who created the world. "How could you forsake the inheritance of Hevel over the cruel?" And the tears of a mother fall on her face.

To the first, the cruel slaughterer asked "If you desire this foreign god and bow to it, I will honor you and crown you as king." [And the first son answered] "How can I forsake God, whose strength is universal?" With the sword, he was decapitated, and his mother's tranquility shattered.

To the second they tried to appeal to the strength of his spirit. "Worship my idol because of the strength of its right hand." [The second son answered] "I will serve none other than the One who dwells alone on high, who redeems his treasure from their oppressor."

To the youngest, the king offered "bow down and pick up my ring from in front of this idol." Don't disparage and disgrace my law, and don't let my assistance thing you violated my word, and that I swore a false oath." He answered him "with my tongue I will answer."

(A voice is heard screaming in the heavens, "Praiseworthy are you, seven sons of Chanah. Your inheritance in Gan Eden is prepared because you served your God with faith. Your joyous mother is in Gan Eden with her sons.")

Permalink | kinot, kinot-translation.
8th August 2011

Oy, Ki Kinah Rabat

Translation of the Kinah אוי כי קינה רבת found on page 154 of the Or VaDerech siddur for fast days). It is said only when Tisha b'Av falls motzae shabbat.

Oy! Because we increase our dirges from the mouth of son and daughter, "may the pleasantness..." is not said on Motzai Shabbat.

At the time of Havdallah, the volume of the sound of moaning. How afraid and miserable is the desecrated Zion! How quickly confusion came and fire was sent against the Mikdash!

How quickly all song was turned into woe, and all dancing to mourning, and bitter eulogies mark our transition to the mundane and there is no separation between sacred and profane on the day I curled up, strangers inherited our inheritance.

this translation is not finished

Permalink | kinot, kinot-translation.
8th August 2011

Dam'mu Seraphim Mizmor

Translation of the Kinah דממו שרפים (found on page 290 of the Or VaDerech siddur for fast days). The Hebrew text and recordings are available at http://www.piyut.org.il/textual/741.html

The seraphim stopped their song, and the chayot and ofanim stopped their watch on the day the decree was finalized and sealed the angels of peace began weeping bitter tears

And the stars darkened at their leaving and the host of the heavens donned sackcloth and the chayot wailed and cried with the ofanim opposite them

The day the strangers' hand grew strong in the mikdash and you burned a fire in the inner sanctuary two wings of the chayot were removed and in the straits I converge dirges.

(My beloved, when will you return to the refuge (of the beit Hamikdash) and return the hearts of fathers to their children? When will the faithful praise and revere you, and the chayot and ofanim sanctify you?

The serafim in words and the ofanim with song the angels of peace cry bitterly and scream with an embittered heart and call to each other and say [Kedushah].)

Permalink | kinot, kinot-translation.
16th February 2011

Primary sources on Watson

Articles from the IBM Research blog about how Watson works:

A Nova episode on Watson, entitled "Smartest Machine on Earth"

A technical article in AI Magazine describing in detail how Watson works.

An article describing "the Basement Baseline" that IBM commissioned to be sure they wouldn't be beat by some upstart hacker in a basement.

A spreadsheet of raw data on Watson's performance.

Other stuff, including actual video of the episodes should be appearing at ibmwatson.com. Some intersting stuff that's there now:

There's lots of news coverage, but this is the stuff that I'm aware of that's most interesting to people in the NLP field (like me) or close to it.

Permalink | nlp.
3rd February 2011

Digitally signing a PDF in Linux

So I don't forget, the instructions to digitally sign a PDF in Linux are as follows:

First create a key using Java's keytool if you don't already have one. The command is

keytool -genkey -keyalg RSA -keysize 4096 -alias alias -keystore .keystore

Then, use JSignPDF to sign the PDF file. Make sure to select "JKS" from the keystore type.

Permalink | linux.
20th September 2010

Using GNOME default browser setting without running gnome-session

GTK+ has an API gtk_show_uri for launching a web browser or other helper application to view URLs. This API call uses GIO to determine what programs to use for which protocols. However this only works if you're running gnome-session. I don't want to run all of GNOME on my desktop, so I needed a different solution.

For those who want to use the GNOME default web browser to visit URIs in GTK+ applications, but do not want to run a full GNOME session yourself, the workaround is to set the environment variable GIO_USE_URI_ASSOCIATION=gconf. (I discovered this by reading http://library.gnome.org/devel/gio/stable/ch03.html and experimenting a bit).

I'm sure the procedure for using the XFCE4 default web browser is similar, but I don't know the name of the GDesktopAppInfoLookup implementation to use.

Permalink | linux.
12th September 2010

Chovot HaLevavot's Sha’ar HaYichud

I posted the following as a comment on Stephen Hawking’s Rosh Hashanah Gift By Yitzchok Adlerstein. It was originally supposed to be a tangential thought on something he said about Chovot HaLevavot's Sha’ar HaYichud. It seems to actually be more relevant to the issue of science and Torah than I had originally anticipated.

Chovot HaLevavot's Sha’ar HaYichud is incorrect in its mathematical proof of God's unity. In chapter 5, he introduces 3 mathematical propositions on which he rests his proof. One of these propositions is that "That the infinite should have parts is inconceivable. ... Let us assume that a thing is actually infinite, and that we take a [finite] part from it. The remainder will undoubtedly be less than it was before. If this remainder is infinite, one infinite will be greater than another infinite, which is impossible. If this remainder is finite, then when we put the part we took back together with the finite remainder, the result should be finite [thus contradicting the premise]."

There are two problems with this: he assumes that the size of an infinite quantity decreases when you take a subset of the infinite quantity. (In informal terms) when there is a one-to-one mapping between two infinite sets, they are the same size. There is a one-to-one mapping between the even integer and the set of all integers. Each integer can be doubled to give an even integer, even though the even integers are a subset of the set of all integers. Thus demonstrating that the size of an infinite quantity decreases when you take a subset of the infinite quantity.

The other problem is that there are different sizes of infinity. The integers may be listed (in an infinitely long list) without skipping any numbers in the middle, however the real numbers may not. (If they could, the positions in the list would be a mapping to the set of all integers.) No matter how many real numbers you list, you can always find another real number that should be in the list. So the real numbers are a larger infinity than the integers.

This is not to say chas v'shalom that God is a smaller infinity or a larger infinity (there are an infinite number of sizes of inifinity, so if we assign God to one of them, there would have to be a bigger infinity than Him) -- rather this is to demonstrate the futility of proving God through mathematical reasoning in the first place. Which, if you think about it, actually makes sense. Since we have no Human language to describe God as he is (all the anthropomorphisms we do use are borrowed terms and analogies), formal mathematics shouldn't have the ability to describe or define Him either.

I haven't worked out the details of what this says about the validity of science in dealing with issues like creation, but my feeling is that it does imply that science can't foreclose God's existance...

(I hope my informal explanations of the mathematical arguments are understandable. For mathematically rigorous versions of the arguments I have made informally here, see the following Wikipedia entries Hilbert Hotel, Countable set, Aleph number, Cardinality of the continuum.)

Permalink | torah.
18th July 2010

Midei Shanah Kinah

Translation of the Kinah מדי שנה קינה (found on page 236 of the Or VaDerech siddur for fast days).

Each year on this night, I arrange my lamentations, becuase the faithful city has become like a widow.

On it I cry and moan, and on it I become angry. We raise up our mourning from ancient days.

Each year on this night, I arrange my lamentations, because the faithful city has become like a widow.

Tonight of all nights, we assemble to sing dirges. An on it we drank the cup of poison -- the way of Zion is mourning.

Each year on this night, I arrange my lamentations, because the faithful city has become like a widow.

The night the Rock [Hashem] commanded his anger and sent a destroying fire, he put an end in our ruins, and he dimmed tonight's lofty stars.

Each year on this night, I arrange my lamentations, because the faithful city has become like a widow.

I am an unfortunate man to see this woe and suffering. Tonight my wickedness was repaid -- Hashem destroyed without mercy.

Each year on this night, I arrange my lamentations, because the faithful city has become like a widow.

Tonight this befell the watchtower int he darkness, and the respected ones in the nations sit in humiliation, taking the darkness.

Permalink | kinot, kinot-translation.

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