Current Events, Yours and Mine

So I enrolled in a course over at the O’Reilly School of Technology, for their PHP Programming with MySQL certificate. So far I’m pretty happy with the services offered as well as the instruction – the instructor for the course has responded within minutes to every question I’ve had  that I’ve asked during normal hours. The fact that it’s accerdited through the University of Illinois also is a plus. The project I’ve working on has driven my forehead into the wall with frustration many times since I started working on it, and I’m hoping the training offered by these courses will help me with that as well as advancing my long-term goals.

PHP is a very interesting language in that is both extremely simple and powerful. It’s not nearly as arbitrary as other languages I have looked at, with most of the structures and functions working in exactly the way you’d assume they would. I am having a great time learning it, and as I find out more, it seems like things just get easier  and easier. It’s something I actually enjoy doing, which is more than I can say about a lot of other things I’ve tried.

Tangentially related, I have been watching the events unfolding in Iran with great interest, both as a geopolitical matter and also as a fascinating demonstration of the power and effectiveness of the “new media.” I’ll avoid dealing too much with the geopolitics right now, but I will say that watching so much information coming directly from those involved via Twitter and Facebook is a wonderful example of the potential of the internet and social media. I have gotten all of my information from Twitter, Youtube, and various blogs – and these are the same sources that CNN and the New York Times are using. Earlier tonight, General Rahim Safavi himself twittered on the events going on – it’s a beautiful thing that we have this ease of access so widely available now, even in such a place as Iran where freedom is so limited. I hope the bravery of the protesters does not go unrewarded.

More from Mumbai, with an extra serving of bias

It has now come to light that the hostages killed by the terrorists in Mumbai were brutally tortured before they died – and that the Jewish hostages recieved the worst treatment. While I can’t say I’m entirely shocked by the barbarism displayed here by these animals, it’s notable that they were so forthright with their special treatment of these hostages. Combine that with the AP labeling the Chabad house the “headquarters of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group,” and we have a winner. It’s obvious that the terrorists hated the Jews and wanted to brutalize them – but why must our own media try to sugarcoat that by making it sound like they somehow deserved it?

Here’s a brief explanation of why the labeling of Chabad is so inaccurate, from a commenter over at Ace’s:

First, the rabbi you will find at a Chabad house is a Lubavitcher (named after a town in Russia), which means he is someone who is dressed traditionally, but has an extremely modern outlook. Lubavichers are, generally, very cool, worldly people. They aren’t typical traditional Jews who, e.g., are very suspicious of the Internet and all things modern. Also, as this is AOSHQ, a Lubavitcher rabbi’s wife is allowed to look beautiful (if modest) in her dress. These are very cool, very warm, very with it people; they aren’t quite modern orthodox a la Senator Lieberman, but nor are they “ultra orthodox.” as in detached from the modern world, etc. Check out These folk were some of the first to use the Internet in a powerful way.

Second, whether it be in Mumbai, or Knoxville, TN, most of the people you’ll find at a Chabad House will not be Lubavitchers, or even the Orthodox; they’ll be just ordinary Jews looking for some Jewish culture, spirituality or kosher food off the beaten path.

Additionally, big-O “Orthodox” is a proper name for this group of Jews. Saying this Jewish center is “ultra-Orthodox” is analogous to calling St. James’ Church “ultra-Catholic.” It’s inaccurate and superfluous, and serves only to conjur up the image of radical religion that has been associated in the pop culture with the word “orthodox.”

Just another case of media bias trying to portray a slaughtered family as somehow “deserving” of the tragedy being passed off as journalistic integrity. Sickening.