Mostly on Rulebase Benchmarks, Politics, Religion and other "stuff" that you can't discuss in the workplace

Shabbos, Part IV


I’m beginning to have discussions with my son and his friends about the Sabbath, or Shabbos.  Since my household has to obey Shabbos (as we try to obey all of the law of HaShem) I have a problem explaining sufficiently what one can do and what one cannot do on Shabbos.  Basically, I try not to get into particulars unless he asks but here is a brief (really brief) recap of our discussions this week.

Microwaving coffee:  Son, “All we’re doing is warming up food that is already cooked.”  Hmmm…  OK, if I were a Jew traveling with Moshe, then my argument would be, “All I’m doing is putting food on the fire to warm it up.”  Immediate stoning follows that one.  😦

Son, “OK, all I’m doing is throwing a switch to start the microwave.”  Again, traveling with Moshe, “All I’m doing is lighting a match to light the fire to warm the food.”  OK, no matches in those days but you get the idea.  Bad move.

Son, “All I’m doing is going to the Mall to look around.”  My answer to that one was fairly easy, “But looking is shopping even though you did not pay for anything today.”

Son, “Are we going to start sacrificing animals now?” Answer, “No, there is only one place to sacrifice animals and that is the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.  No temple, no sacrifice.  G-d has forbidden sacrificing on every high place in the land.”

Son, “OK, what SHOULD we be doing?”  Answer, “Those things that are pleasing to HaShem and not things that are necessarily pleasing to us.  This is also covered in previous posts Shabbos, part II and Shabbos, Part III.  Watching football is pleasing to us, but are we using it to glorify G-d?  Playing football?  Could be…  If we are playing football with unbelievers in order to tell them about HaShem and the joy of serving Him.  But if we are just playing to pass time, then that time could be better spent reading the bible, listening to recordings about HaShem or watching pre-recorded video on talks about HaShem.  Mostly, it comes down to how much do we love G-d and how much do we want to please him.  (Something taken from an earlier comment.)  We can play for just the fun of football at another time on another day.

If walking in the forest is communion, so be it.  Not argument there.  But not at the expense of gathering with other believers on a weekly basis.  We should be walking with HaShem, G-d, every day, all the time, in a state of constant communion and prayer.  This is what Paul meant when he said to be in constant prayer.  A prayer, after all, is communion with G-d and not necessarily bowing your head and closing your eyes.  That would be really dangerous on the interstate at 60 mph.

Son, “OK, when does Shabbos begin?”  At dark – most Jewish calendars have the time on Friday afternoon when Shabbos begins and when to light the candles.  In winter, it begins about 5:00 to 5:30 p.m., depending on location.  In summer, it could begin at 9:00 p.m.  At the North Pole or the South Pole or anywhere in between, you should observe 24 hours of Shabbos.  (North Pole in Summer has 22+ hours of sunlight, but it begins at dark on Friday and ends at dark on Saturday, roughly 24 hours.)  We get this from Genesis where HaShem records that “This was the evening and morning of the first day.” And the other six days as well began on the evening, not at the Roman time of Midnight.

Finally, I had to tell him that I don’t have all of the answers.  BUT, he has to go read the bible himself and talk to G-d about what he wants to do.  After that, then come discuss it with me.  After all, when he has his own home then he will have to make the rules and reason out the why and why not so long as these things are based on scripture, not what I said, not the feelings nor writings of Rabbim, not what somebody else said that G-d said.

Keep the Faith.  The bottom line is to read G-d’s word and try your best to do what He said to do and not do what He said NOT to do.




December 12, 2008 Posted by | Religion | , , , , | Leave a comment

The NRA Blew It !!


Normally, I read my American Rifleman magazine from the NRA with a bit of enthusiasm about the articles but with a jaundiced eye toward the political rants and raves of the far-right wing of American Conservatism.  So, basic premise: Articles good, political articles bad.  Even so, when they picked the AR Top 10 Infantry Rifles where they picked the Best of Breed, they really blew that one.  

#1 – No discussion, no question.  The venerable M1 Garand, 30-06 is probably the finest infantry rifle built at the time and for many years thereafter.

But consider the ones that they left out:  The M14, .308 calibre (7.62x51mm) that served so gallantly as a replacement to the M1 for many years they left in the armory of time because, as they so un-characteristically put it, “One of our personal favorites, the M14, was dropped because we decided that when two comparable contemporary guns were on the list, like the M14 and the FN FAL, the tie had to go to the gun with the greater historical impact and longer service life, rather than the gun we liked best.”

What claptrap!!  FIRST, this is the “American” Rifleman, not the “Rifles of the World” magazine.  SECOND, it is not a gun you nitwit you.  It is a weapon or rifle.  Apparently they never had to do high-port-double-time for hours because they referred to their weapon as a gun shouting, “This is my weapon and this is my gun!  This is for fighting and this for fun!”  THIRD: The FAL 7.62 is a piece of crap compared to the M14 so they were NOT considering the BEST OF BREED and NOT considering AMERICAN, you were playing international politics and which one has been around the longest. 

If they had taken the time to read Sgt. Carlos Hathcock’s (USMC-ret) books or Sgt. John Culbertson’s (USMC-ret) or Col. M. R. Lanning (US Army-ret) books on American Snipers, they would NEVER have put the M16, .223 / 5.56x51mm in their list and left out the M14.  These guys lived the sniper life and learned quickly what worked and what didn’t work.  Yes, the military replaced a real “grunt” rifle (M14) that would drop the enemy in his tracks with a plastic piece of crap (M16) that jammed time after time after time when in real combat conditions of mud, rain, snow, sleet and crappy conditions that are always there in real combat.  The M14 is another work of art much like the M1 that it replaced.  

And, yes, the military, in its unintelligent, moronic logic, replaced the M14 sniper rifles with a Remington BDL .300 Magnum bolt action.  Another REALLY dumb move.  (A bolt action takes away the option of a quick second shot.)  The M16 and the BDL are NOT sniper nor combat rifles; one is a toy that excels in street fights (but not in combat street fights) and the other is great for hunting.  Neither is a military weapon worthy of consideration.  Personally, having lots of fire is not the same a knock-down.  The woosey military felt that the .308 was “too powerful” for the modern army – mostly because the women and girly-men could not handle the recoil.  So, today, that’s why we have toy guns in combat – so the women could have something to shoot.  It makes you want to go somewhere and just puke.

Personally, I would have put the M14 as #2 and the Kalashnikov AK-47 as #3.  The Enfield .303 calibre  (which was #6) should have been in there somewhere but it probably could have replaced the M16 as #3 or #4 behind the Mauser.  

FINALLY, how about this:  The StG44 7.92mm is # 7.  Talk about not having “time in service” !!  It was only in service for a VERY short period of time in WW II by the Germans.  True, it WAS a nice piece of machinery, but it was a unique calibre (7.92x33mm, not 7.62).  Personally, most Airborne GI’s in WW II preferred the Thompson .45 for rapid-fire delivery at short range with tremendous knockdown over most any other rifle, including the M1.  They liked the 1911 .45 for the same reason.

Well, that’s about it.  Write the “Used to be” American Rifleman and let them know your discontent.  I’m ready to give up that bunch of non-combatants.  

Yaakov Kohen

November 23, 2008 Posted by | Guns-n-Ammo | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First 2008 Presidential Debate

OK, it wasn’t exactly a debate – but personally I liked it much better than a debate.  They had the same questions that they had to answer from the Southern Baptist pastor at Saddleback church in California, one of the few SBC Mega-Churches with more than 22,000 members.  Just in case you missed it, here is just a sampling of the questions, answers and comments by another Texas Jewish Cowboy (me).  

I have always discounted John McCain as another Hillary Clinton but wearing a Republican arm band. Obama I haven’t trusted since he said that he could no more desert his pastor than he could desert the black community nor his white grandmother – and then promptly deserted his pastor two weeks later. What a wimp! I had said during the preliminaries that if it was McCain versus Clinton in the presidential vote, I wouldn’t even bother going to the polls because they were cut out of the same piece of cloth. OK, here are just a few of the questions and answers from last night:

To whom would you go for counseling?  (name three):  Obama names his wife, then his mother, then said that there were many others someone outside of the “family.”  McCain names General Patraeus, then John Lewis (D.Ga) – civil rights leader – and then Meg Whitten, the CEO of EBay.  Sorry, but I read Michelle’s thesis – I certainly would not trust her as the First Counsel for the President of the United States. General Patraeus, while not my first choice, did have the knowledge to straighten up the armed forces in Iraq so that we have a chance.

Does evil exist and if so how would you deal with it? Obama said that Americans must have humility when confronting evil. McCain said, “Defeat it! If I have follow him to the gates of Hell I will get Osama Bin Laden.” He also stated that the Al Queda is now in both Iraq and Afghanistan and that we need to put the pressure on him there rather than here. I rather like that much more than the namby-pamby, politically correct answer that Obama gave.

When does life begin? Consider that we have had 40 Million abortions in the USA since Roe versus Wade Supreme Court decision. Obama said that he was not in a high enough pay grade to answer that one. (Not only a duck and dodge, but a really wimpy duck and dodge.) Obama then stressed that because he was Pro Choice did not mean that he was Pro Abortion. (Sorry, Charlie – they’re one and the same.) McCain immediately said, “At conception.”

When asked about their darkest moments and toughest decisions, McCain responded with the, by now, well-know episode in the Hanoi Hilton (North Korean prison camp) where he had to decide to follow the code of conduct when he was offered release before prisoners who had been there longer than himself. He declined and spent another three years in the Hanoi Hilton. I don’t even remember what Obama said but it was not notable. What McCain did NOT say was that the North Koreans broke his already broken arms (he broke both arms when he bailed out and crashed) again in prison. He also told of the Christian prison guard who relieved his pain once when his elbows were pulled up behind his back and his head was forced down between his knees and he had been left there for the night. Later that year, on Christmas Day, the guard wandered up to McCain and with his boot drew a cross in the dirt.

I didn’t know it before, but now I KNOW the man that I want leading my country for the next four (or eight) years – and it is not a wimp from Chicago; it’s the man of iron, the REAL man of iron, that I saw last night. I was wrong last year and most of this year about McCain – he is decisive, clear, articulate and a strong right-wing Christian. If he picks a Jew for a running mate, who can stop him? You can find some of talk scattered around the internet – my left wing newspaper ran only a 1/4 page on the inside back of the main section.


August 17, 2008 Posted by | Political | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drools, BRMS and Revolutions

Greetings, Programs:

If your are a member of the Dallas Rules Group (DRG) and you don’t subscribe already to the Drools RSS feed at, maybe you might should since most of “All Things DRG” are Drools-centric. Of particular interest is the “latest and greatest” early editions of version 5 from the Drools Team for two reasons:

(1) The Drools Team is beginning the late-September release of Drools 5 that will include a BRMS implementation. Admittedly, their initial implementation might be just a bit behind that of ILOG or Fair Isaac BUT, and this is the important part, it includes basic BRMS functionality AND (wait for it…. wait… here it comes…..) DROOLS IS FREE.

(2) The Drools team lives on the globe. Literally. Mark Proctor (their fearless leader) is in London. Edson Terelli is in Canada. Mic Neale is in Australia. And the others are scattered around the globe. BUT they work together to produce a product that is making giant leaps and bounds from that “freeware” tag into what used to be the exclusive domain of $20K or $50K starter BRMS tools.

Here’s another thing: More and more companies are using shareware or freeware products such as Linux, Open Office, Java, Eclipse, Net Beans, JBoss to run those $500K (final installed price) BRMS packages. Now they’re going to have another really good package to add in there; Drools. The line between commercial BRMS vendors and freeware vendors is becoming more and more blurred and, with the next year or two, should disappear altogether.

Remember when JBoss was free and big companies would not use it because it did not have “support” from a “real” vendor? So they paid through the nose for BEA (formerly Tuxedo) Web Logic (now owned by Oracle) or IBM Web Sphere. And all of the software ran on either Sun Solaris or IBM AIX. But then “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum” – small companies, then bigger companies and bigger companies started using Linux, that Unix work-a-like for Linus Torvalds. Totally unexpected. Fast forward three years and now major companies are not only using Linux, they are beginning to use JBoss. But they continue to use ILOG, Fair Isaac, Pega, Corticon, Visual Rules, etc. BECAUSE the OPSJ, Drools, CLIPS and Jess folks just could not produce a “real” BRMS product.

So, fast forward three more years – companies at that time were beginning to use Jess and Drools in places where they never did before BECAUSE Jess and Drools were using the Eclipse interface and debugging tools and Ant and all of that other stuff that their geeky programmers loved so much and used anyway – until they got caught and reprimanded. (They used it even after that because they could not get that vaunted “tech support” from the commercial vendors.)

Today we, the BRMS and rulebase programmers, rule engineers and knowledge engineers, stand on the cusp of an historical incident much like the Rete Algorithm gave us almost 30 years ago in 1979: A FREE BRMS !!! It’s coming! The first editions are here! That “pre-alpha” part where there are more problems than features. But judging on the history of the Drools Team, those problems will go away. If you are a BRMS consultant, get ready and be prepared. Meaning you had better download Drools and begin getting used to their syntax rather than that of the big commercial vendors.

My prediction is that within the next three years those dinosaurs of the BRMS world will be rapidly slipping into the tar pits of obscurity and we will have copy-cat BRMS freebies. They won’t be as well done as Drools, but we will begin to see more and more BRMS products (note that I did NOT say more and more rulebased products) that are, for the most part, free. Maybe the Drools logo now should be a giant purple dinosaur surrounded by a large red circle with a bar through it. Meaning, STOP THE DINOSAURS. 🙂


July 4, 2008 Posted by | Rule Stuff | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

On Romans 8:28

If you read the KJV of this passage it runs something like this; “For we know that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.”   This sometimes leads to a false sense of security.  

But the Greek text (from the Textus Recptus) doesn’t really say that.  If I could switch to Greek (there MUST be some way to do that) then is would say something like “oidamen de ote tois agapos ton Theon panta ounergei eis agathon tois kata prothesin klatois ousin.”  

Close.  But, when you ask a modern-day Greek what that means to him, you get something like this; “(we) know that those of us (the ones that) love (the) God alway work together toward good (pure good, God-kind of good) us according wishes (intentions) called (as you have been called) us.”  

Putting that back into English, “We know that those of us who love God always work together toward good for we are called according to the wishes of God.”  Not quite the same, is it?  Basically, it’s now saying that if we are called by God then we are always working for the pure, upright and holy wishes of God.  Sort of put the onus back on us to do good things, not to expect good things to “just happen because we are called of God.”  

I’m not sure that what I have here is absolutely correct, but I do know that the original Greek didn’t say what the King James crew wanted it to say.



April 24, 2008 Posted by | Religion | | 1 Comment