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December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘game’

Two American Economists, One Jewish, Win Nobel Prize

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley, American economists with ties to Israeli universities, won the Nobel Prize for Economics.

The professors won the prize, called the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, for their research in how to make economic markets work better by more precisely matching supply with demand. Shapley used game theory to study the problem. Roth helped redesign the medical residents’ match program to make it more efficient for young doctors.

The prize was announced Monday.

Shapely, 89, was awarded an honorary doctorate from Hebrew University in 1986 and has worked with Israeli Nobel Prize laureate Robert Auman, who won his Nobel for his work with game theory.

Roth, who is Jewish, was a visiting professor of economics at The Technion in Haifa in 1986, and a visiting professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University in 1995. Roth frequently visits Israel, Auman told JTA.

“I have been hoping for this for years,” Auman said of the award to Roth and Shapley. “It is absolutely the best choice that could be made.”

Roth, 60, is a professor at Harvard University in Boston, but will be leaving for Stanford University, where he is currently a visiting professor of economics, at the end of the year. Shapley is professor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles.

JTA

Parshat Bereishit

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

With the campaigns for the presidency of the United States in full swing people are beginning to imagine the inaugural address that will be delivered this coming January 20. Especially this year, when the candidates offer such different visions for America, rhetoric enthusiasts are expecting whoever wins to deliver an inspiring speech designed to provide a strategy and game plan for the country to move forward.

The challenge for all modern presidents when they deliver their inaugural address is that they are inevitably compared to John F. Kennedy’s classic. As history has so far demonstrated, unlike Olympic records, Kennedy’s address has to date not been surpassed. While most people remember his “Ask not…” exhortation, I would like to focus on a sentence from the beginning of his speech – a sentence infused, simultaneously, with the deep hope and fear that was the product of years of thought and concern on Kennedy’s part.

After his salutary comments, Kennedy described: “The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.” Kennedy truly feared the dangers inherent in nuclear weapons. In his announcement in 1946 that he would be running for Congress, Kennedy stated, “We have a world which has unleashed the powers of atomic energy. We have a world capable of destroying itself.”

According to Richard Tofel, in his book analyzing Kennedy’s inaugural address, Sounding the Trumpet (2005), JFK contemplated for many years whether democracy as an ideology and way of life would be able to survive the challenges of totalitarianism. “With the advent of nuclear weapons, this uncertainty took on apocalyptic overtones…” (p.95). In his 1958 speech to Washington’s Gridiron Club, Kennedy articulated his concerns very clearly. “The question is—whether a democratic society—with its freedom of choice—its breadth of opportunity—its range of alternatives—can meet the single-minded advance of the Communists….Can a nation organized and governed as ours endure? That is the real question. Have we the nerve and the will? Have we got what it takes to carry through in an age where—as never before—our very survival is at stake—where we and the Russians have the power to destroy one-quarter of the earth’s population—a feat not accomplished since Cain slew Abel?”

By the time he delivered his inaugural address Kennedy’s thoughts had developed and he challenged humanity to overcome the man-made threats to the world. The problem was whether the technology had outpaced its moral masters. While Kennedy in 1958 referred to Cain murdering his brother as a dire warning of the stakes at play, one of the broad themes of this week’s parsha captures the essence of the challenge. There are inherent dangers in knowledge when it is used inappropriately – without the metaphoric brakes being there to pace the engine of progress properly.

The Torah relates (2:17) that G-d granted Adam permission to enjoy all the bounty of the Garden of Eden with the exception of the Tree of Knowledge. The commentators throughout the centuries have analyzed the reason for this prohibition. Whatever the actual reason was, it is indisputable that after Adam and Eve ate from the tree, the world was never the same. Not only did death become part of nature’s course, the very knowledge attained through the act of eating hastened the process.

Carefully examining the events which followed Adam and Eve’s sin it becomes clear that they share a common theme. While human beings made tremendous discoveries, invented life-changing technologies and developed an appreciation for the arts, they did so without moral restraint. Rashi explains (4:20) that Yaval, who is credited with technological advances, adapted his engineering technology to build temples for idolatry. Likewise, his brother Yuval, who is credited with inventing musical instruments, did so for idolatrous purposes. Their cousin Tuval Cain, who invented metallurgy, did so in order to provide weapons for murderers.

All three played critical roles in the advancement of human development. Their efforts would probably earn them a Nobel Prize today. But when Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge he lost for his children the moral restraints necessary to control knowledge. His descendants used their knowledge for nefarious purposes and helped plant the seeds for the world’s destruction. Not until Noach do we encounter a person who used knowledge in a controlled manner, developing useful agricultural tools and methods. His name derives from the Hebrew word for consolation, for he truly improved the human condition. Unlike the other inventors in the parsha, Noach had no ulterior motives. His was solely to help humankind. Tragically, as we’ll read in next week’s parsha, his efforts were too little, too late to save the world. They were, however, enough to start the world anew.

Rabbi David Hertzberg

Ahmadinejad more Popular than Obama? Iranian News Agency Tricked by the Onion

Friday, October 5th, 2012

H/T Arsen Ostrovsky.

On Sept. 24, the satirical site ‘The Onion’ “led” with a story on shocking poll results:

Here’s the text from the story:

CHARLESTON, WV—According to the results of a Gallup poll released Monday, the overwhelming majority of rural white Americans said they would rather vote for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than U.S. president Barack Obama. “I like him better,” said West Virginia resident Dale Swiderski, who, along with 77 percent of rural Caucasian voters, confirmedhe would much rather go to a baseball game or have a beer with Ahmadinejad, a man who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and has had numerous political prisoners executed, than spend time with Obama. “He takes national defense seriously, and he’d never let some gay protesters tell him how to run his country like Obama does.” According to the same Gallup poll, 60 percent of rural whites said they at least respected that Ahmadinejad doesn’t try to hide the fact that he’s Muslim.

Naturally – at least to any sane reader, or anyone familiar with The Onion (which is truly an equal opportunity mocker) – the piece was satire, based partly on regional popularity disparities for Obama’s and the Democratic Party. The Onion, as they typically do, decided to take this truthful dynamic and take it to the most ludicrous, and obviously unserious, level – which is often the basis of effective satire.

Ludicrous, yes – but, evidently, not entirely implausible for the editors of the English version of the Iranian news agency, known as “FARS”.

The Onion largely refrained from mocking FARS, but did add this addendum to their original “report” on American whites’ endorsement of Ahmadinejad.

A few days later, the “news agency” realized their mistake and apologized – which represents a much faster mea-culpa turn-around time than is typically the case at a supposedly serious newspaper based in London.

Here’s what they wrote:

“Unfortunately an incorrect item was released on our website on Friday which included a fake opinion poll on popularity rate of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and US President Barack Obama. The news item was extracted from the Satirical Magazine, The Onion, by mistake and it was taken down from our outlook in less two hours,” Editor-in-chief of FNA’s English Service said.

“We offer our formal apologies for that mistake,” he added.

“FNA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of its reports, however very occasionally mistakes do happen,” he said.

“Although it does not justify our mistake, we do believe that if a free opinion poll is conducted in the US, a majority of Americans would prefer anyone outside the US political system to President Barack Obama and American statesmen,” he added.

Active and well-known media occasionally make mistakes, and no media is an exception to this rule.

In FARS’s defense, it is true that “active and well-known media occasionally make mistakes.”

In fact, a few months ago the Guardian made the following, umm, “mistake”, informing their readers definitively that Tel Aviv was the Israeli capital.

While FARS news agency can claim that they were duped into publishing a fact-free report by a satirical site they were previously unfamiliar with, I’m still wondering what excuse the Guardian has for their (Style-Guide approved) gross disinformation.

Visit CifWatch.com.

Adam Levick

Baltimore Sun Features Sports Fans’ High Holidays Dilemma

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

An article in the Baltimore Sun featured the conflict fans of the Baltimore Orioles have with the yearly Yom Kippur observance, showcasing how lovers of baseball keep their finger on the pulse of sports as the Day of Atonement takes place.

Some observant Jews leave their iPhones on at home during the service, according to the Sun article, with app alerts posting to their screens without causing them to break the Jewish law against operating electronic equipment on holidays.

The Sun sited a frequent problem of postseason or important late-season games falling out on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, and sites the head Rabbi of the Beth Am Synagogue of Baltimore, who recommends congregants record games they want to follow, so they can enjoy them after important Jewish holidays.

The article also included an anecdote about a Conservative rabbi who would update congregants on the scores during the service, so they would be attentive and their curiosity alleviated, and discussed which games the rabbi would announce during services, and which he would not.

One man, an avid sports fanatic, said he would not be checking on the game at all, because of his concern for maintaining the sanctity of the day.

Malkah Fleisher

All’s Well That Ends Well

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

On August 29, 2011, I took my three kids to a New York Mets baseball game and was sitting in the front row. During the last inning, my 12-year-old son Eliezer was hit in the face by a line drive (the clip is on YouTube, “Baseball hits boy, Mets-Marlins”). He was rushed to the hospital and received eight stitches; he was discharged the next day.

A few days later he started throwing up blood and was rushed by Hatzolah to Long Island Jewish Hospital. They told me he had a fracture in his skull and would need a craniotomy that would be scheduled for Tuesday, because of the Labor Day weekend. My father-in-law called all the yeshivot and shuls and, thanks to their tefillot, we were told on Monday morning that the doctor reviewed the CT-scan and was going to hold off on performing surgery.

They discharged Eliezer again and, to our horror, Hatzolah took him back to the hospital that same night. Due to his internal bleeding, he lost half his blood and needed two blood transfusions.

He had surgery on his nose, which stopped the bleeding. He is, Baruch Hashem, back to good health now. I wish to thank Chai Lifeline for their amazing support and help – and all of you for your prayers.

Valerie Shalomoff

Israel Beats Spain, One Win Away from Qualifying for World Baseball Classic

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

First baseman Nate Freiman hit two home runs as Israel beat Spain 4-2 in the qualifying round of World Baseball Classic, putting the Israeli team one win away from a guaranteed spot in the tournament in March.

Nate Freiman, a standout first baseman for the San Diego Padres’ Class AA San Antonio Missions, matched his home run output from Thursday’s 7-3 victory over South Africa, accounting for Israel’s 4 RBIs on Friday afternoon.

In the modified double-elimination format, Spain will play the winner of Friday night’s matchup between France and South Africa on Saturday. Israel will face off against the winner of that game in Sunday’s championship game.

JTA

Countdowns in Tehran and Jerusalem

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/countdowns-in-tehran-and-jerusalem.html

If Israel jets show up in Iranian airspace, it will most likely happen while Obama is too busy  accusing Mitt Romney of secretly storing all his money in a giant cave in the Rocky Mountains to do more than dispatch a flunky to chew out Netanyahu over the phone. The election is the perfect window for a strike on Iran’s nuclear program, because Team Obama will be too tied down on the Romney Front to do much damage to Israel.

Despite the signs being brandished at your local Anarchists for Peace rally, accusing the United States of being a puppet of the Zionist regime, the United States and Israel have different interests. Israel is interested in not getting bombed and the United States is interested in regional stability. And regional stability means keeping the Sunni Arab oil countries happy.

The United States is interested in somehow making Iran’s nuclear capabilities go away in the interests of regional stability. Particularly the regional stability of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. But the last thing that this form of regional stability needs is Israeli planes flying over Saudi Arabia to take out that nuclear capability.

Just like during the Gulf War, regional stability demands that the United States protect Saudi Arabia and the Gulfies, while keeping Israel out of it. Since Iran’s Revolutionary Guard isn’t camped out in Kuwait City, protecting them is a matter of posture. That posture is there as a deterrent, a warning that Iran had better not interfere with our oil suppliers or there will be hellfire missiles to pay.

The posturing is hollow because everyone knows that Obama is not about to bomb Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia and its colony in Bahrain. He is as likely to do it for Israel as he is to move to South Carolina and join the NRA. But he isn’t alone in that regard. Despite the fevered fantasies of everyone from Noam Chomsky to Ron Paul, no American president would ever bomb Iran for Israel. If a third Gulf War is fought, it will be fought for Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, one more time.

The last time the United States fought Iran, in 1988, it was to protect Kuwaiti oil tankers. If Iran interferes with oil tankers from our friendly Gulfie terrorist states, then a future administration is likely to bomb Iran. If oil prices go high enough to potentially cost Obama the election, then he might pry away his foreign policy people from drawing up maps of Syrian targets and actually hit some Iranian naval installations.

None of this has anything to do with Iran’s nuclear program… and that’s the point. George W. Bush did appear to think that Iranian nuclear weapons might be bad news for the United States, not just for the balance of power in the region. He was nearly unique in that regard. The diplomatic and military establishment is full of experts who view Iranian nuclear weapons purely as factors in the balance of power and utterly refuse to look at them from any other angle. To them, Israel isn’t really concerned about a nuclear attack, it’s only playing a regional power game along with everyone else.

For Israel, violence is not a posture or a theory. It has few trading connections and no alliances in the region. Its foreign policy has always been about dissipating physical threats to its people, whether through diplomatic or military means. It does not follow this line because it is a saintly state, but because it is a state always on the edge. It has too little territory and too many enemies around it to follow any other path.

Surrounded by countries for whom destroying it is a matter of national pride and religious fervor, its only real deterrent is military. Winning several wars won it enough breathing room to try diplomatic solutions. And now the first and last of those diplomatic solutions has failed. It can still count on the military as a deterrent, but there is no deterrent against a nuclear attack carried out by terrorists under plausible deniability. The only remaining deterrent after a nuclear attack is killing as many of those responsible as possible before succumbing to radiation poisoning.

Daniel Greenfield

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/sultan-knish/countdowns-in-tehran-and-jerusalem/2012/08/23/

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