Tuesday, February 26, 2008

20th Adar Yarzheit of the Bach

I went to NY for a wedding last weekend. I was in the States for a total of 3 days, but it has taken me more than a week to recover from the jet lag and the cold I picked up on the plane.

There are so many things I wanted to blog about, but I will never get them all done, so let's start with something simple - a Yarzheit of one of the Gedolim.

Today (20th Adar) is the Yarzheit of the Bach, R' Yoel Sirkes. Anyone who has learned the Tur will know that the Bach is the bit that everyone skips, because they are too keen to learn the Beis Yosef. And most of the important things will be quoted by the Taz (who was the son-in-law of the Bach) so you can catch them when you get to the Shulchan Aruch. But that is not really fair to him is it?

His notes on the Talmud are much more widely used - everyone looks at the Bach when they see that he emends the text of the Talmud. Usually he is fixing a 'mistake' in the text, occasionally adding his own commentary. Look for the Hagahot HaBach somewhere on the page (underneath the picture of an aeroplane heading towards you).

This is what the Jewish Encyclopedia has to say about him (I changed some of the names, but I can't figure out the Hebrew for Phoebus - any thoughts?)

Polish rabbi; born at Lublin in 1561; died at Cracow, 1640. At the age of fourteen he was sent to the yeshibah of Shlomo ben Yehuda. After remaining there some time he went to Brest-Litovsk, where he attended the yeshibah of R. Phoebus. While still a youth he was invited to the rabbinate of Pruszany, near Slonim. Later he occupied the rabbinates of Lubkow, Lublin, Miedzyboz, Beldza, Szydlowka, and finally Brest-Litovsk and Cracow, succeeding in each of the two last-mentioned places his teacher R. Phoebus.

Sirkes wrote: "Meshiv Nefesh," commentary on the Book of Ruth (Lublin, 1616); "Bayit Ḥadash," commentary on the "Arba'ah Ṭurim" of Jacob ben Asher (Cracow, 1631-40); "She'elot u-Teshuvot Bayit Ḥadash" (Frankfort, 1697); "She'elot u-Teshubot Bet Ḥadash ha-Ḥadashot" (Koretz, 1785); "Haggahot," on all the tractates of the Babylonian Talmud; and "Rosh," first published, from a manuscript, in the Warsaw (1860) edition of the Talmud, and included in almost every subsequent edition thereof.

In the "Bayit Ḥadash" the evident intention of the author is to present and elucidate the fundamental principles of the Law as recorded in the Mishnah, the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds, and the chief codes.

May His Soul be Bound in the Bonds of Eternal Life

Saturday, February 09, 2008

How heavy were the Ten Commandments?

I know it isn't relevant until Ki Tissa, which we won't read for another two weeks. (Or it was relevant to the daf from 3 weeks ago), but I was just wondering...

How heavy were the two tablets that Moshe brought down from Mount Sinai? I mean in weight, not in importance.

The Talmud (Nedarim 38a) tells us:
R. Johanan said: The Holy One, blessed be He, causes His Divine Presence to rest only upon him who is strong, wealthy, wise and meek; and all these [qualifications] are deduced from Moses. Strong, for it is written, And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle; and a Master said, Moses our teacher spread it; and it is also written, Ten cubits shall be the length of the board. Yet perhaps it was long and thin? — But [it is derived] from this verse: And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and broke them. Now, it was taught: The tablss [sic, tables] were six [handbreadths] in length, six in breadth, and three in thickness.

There are different opinions as the length of the Biblical Amah. It is somewhere between 48cm (according to R' Chaim Naeh) and 57.66 cm (according to the Chazon Ish). So the tablets were each between 2.88m and 3.5m on each side and between 1.4m and 1.75m thick. At a minimum this is almost 12 cubic metres of stone. This is over 18 tonnes! And Moshe carried two such tablets down from Mount Sinai.

Can someone please check my calculations and see if I did this right? And convert it into old fashioned numbers for the Americans who don't speak metric? Does this make sense?

I know the Talmud says that Moshe was strong, but he was REALLY Strong!!! And this is the requirement for someone to be a prophet! Wow! I'd better get down to the gym quickly if I want to have any chance.

3rd Adar Yarzheit of the Aderes

On Shabbos it was the Yarzheit of the Aderes, Rabbi Eliyahu David Rabinowitz Teomim (his initials spell Aderes). I wanted to copy and paste the wikipedia article on him to my blog, but there wasn't an article on him. So I wrote it (mostly lifted from www.jewishencyclopedia.com). He is one of the few Rabbis who wrote an autobiography (which is out of print now, and I can't even remember what it is called) so I was amazed at how little information there was about him. He was the father in law of Rav Kook, so I would have expected there to be a lot more information about him.

Please add any more biographical information you may have on him both the wikipedia article and to the comments of this blog.

Thank you and Shavua Tov.

Here is the wikipedia article:

Rabbi Eliyahu David Rabinowitz Teomim (1845-1905) was known by his initials as the Aderes (Aderet). He was one of the greatest European Rabbis of the nineteenth century. He is also famous as the father-in-law of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook


Russian rabbi; born at Pikeln, government of Kovno, June 11 (6th Sivan), 1845. He studied Talmud and rabbinics under his father (who was rabbi successively at Shilel, Rogova, and Vilkomir), and at the age of fifteen had acquired a substantial knowledge of Talmudic and rabbinical literature. In 1873 he was invited to the rabbinate of Panevėžys, in the government of Kovno. After twenty years in that rabbinate he was appointed rabbi of Mir, government of Minsk. In 1901 he was made assistant to Samuel Salant (chief rabbi of the Ashkenazic communities at Jerusalem), whose age precluded his continuing to discharge unassisted the full duties of the rabbinate.

He passed away on 3rd Adar 1905.


Rabinowitz wrote more than 120 books including novellæ on Maimonides' "Yad" (Vilna, 1900), and published also novellæ and glosses on all branches of Talmudic literature in "Ha-Tebunah," "Kebod ha-Lebanon," "Ha-Ẓofeh," "Ha-Maggid," "Keneset Ḥakme Yisrael," "'Iṭṭur Soferim," and "Keneset ha-Gedolah." Many of his novellæ and notes are printed in works to which he gave his approbation.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Temple rebuilt

This Shabbat is the 3rd of Adar which is the anniversary of the completion of the construction of the Second Temple. The book of Ezra tells us that on this date they finished rebuilding the Temple which had been destroyed more than 70 years earlier. Even though this Second Beis Hamikdash did not compare at all with the first Beis Hamikdash (the ten daily miracles mentioned in Pirkei Avos no longer existed in the time of the Second Temple), Judaism once again had a focus and the sacrifices were once again offered on the altar.

15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.
16 And the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy.
17 And they offered at the dedication of this house of God a hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin-offering for all Israel, twelve he-goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.
18 And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses.

Of course then, as today, most people preferred the comfortable lives they had made for themselves in Bavel, and didn't want to return to Israel. Only a few came back, and they were mostly the poor or the misfits of society who had not succeeded in Bavel. I suppose there were some who joined Nechemiah for idealistic reasons and wanted to return to the Holy Land, but those who came with Ezra a few years later were not primarily motivated by ideology.

We know that those who came back and rebuilt Israel were the continuation of Judaism. Those who didn't return seem to have assimilated in exile (the Amoraim who lived in Bavel at the time of the Gemara, several centuries later, were descendants of the Israeli Jews, not the oringal Babylonians).

Let us pray that this day also brings us closer to the rebuilding of the Temple and the coming of Mashiach. And may everyone merit to be able to come back to Israel safely and for the right reasons.

Shabbat Shalom

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

UK to accept Sharia law?

The BBC is reporting today on an interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams.

For those of you who don't know, Her Majesty the Queen is the head of the Anglican Church (Church of England) but the Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the church. (I suppose equivalent to the position of Chief Rabbi, only with a bigger flock).

Although he has no legal authority or power, his views certainly reflect the values of the church and may influence governmental policy.

Dr Williams thinks that the only way to accomodate the large Muslim population in Britian is to give them legal independence and the option of going to a Sharia court instead of a British court.

I suppose in theory this is similar to having a Beis Din, and perhaps the Muslims also have a prohibition in using secular courts. At present in Britian a Beis Din can act as an arbitrator in a civil dispute (as can anyone accepted by the two parties) although they don't have any judicial power. They oversee Gittin, but any divorce has to also be done through the civil courts.

I think that Dr Williams is now advocating giving a much more powerful authority to the Muslim courts. He wants to give them authority to deal with not only financial matters but also marital disputes.

I'll leave aside the question of whether the rulings of such a court would be acceptable to the average Briton (would they be allowed to administer lashes or to cut of limbs as they can in some countries under Muslim rule?). The more important question is why Britain should be trying to bend over backwards to accomodate Muslims? For hundreds of years Jews have lived in foreign countries, and have managed to make an acceptable compromise between using Jewish law and following the laws of the land they are in. The Chief Rabbi has never advocated transferring legal authority to the Jewish courts. Yet Muslims, in Britain as in many countries, don't feel as though they are in exile. Their goal is to make the whole world Muslim. Therefore anything less than complete submission to their values is, in their minds, racism, and undermines Western multiculturalism.

I am only slightly shocked that the head of the Anglican church can make statements like this. The reality is that Britain is fast becoming a Muslim country (some parts of the country already are), and eventually British 'tolerance' (or laziness) will allow them to take over completely.

I am very glad that my family made the decision to come back to Israel. Hopefully news items like this will encourage more Brits to leave Blighty and come home to Israel.

The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable".

Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4's World at One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.

For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".

In an exclusive interview with BBC correspondent Christopher Landau, ahead of a lecture to lawyers in London later on Monday, Dr Williams argues this relies on Sharia law being better understood. At the moment, he says "sensational reporting of opinion polls" clouds the issue.

He stresses that "nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that's sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well".

But Dr Williams says the argument that "there's one law for everybody... I think that's a bit of a danger".

"There's a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law, as we already do with some other aspects of religious law."

Dr Williams adds: "What we don't want either, is I think, a stand-off, where the law squares up to people's religious consciences."

"We don't either want a situation where, because there's no way of legally monitoring what communities do... people do what they like in private in such a way that that becomes another way of intensifying oppression inside a community."

His comments are likely to fuel the debate over multiculturalism in the UK.

Last month, one of Dr William's colleagues, the Bishop of Rochester, said that non-Muslims may find it hard to live or work in some areas of the UK.

The Right Reverend Dr Michael Nazir-Ali said there was "hostility" in some areas and described the government's multicultural policies as divisive.

He said there had been a worldwide resurgence of Islamic extremism, leading to young people growing up alienated from the country they lived in.

He has since received death threats and has been placed under police protection.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Lion of Zion for Gaza

Of course it is Israel's fault! By closing off the Gaza strip they completely prevented essential humanitarian supplies such as a lion cub and a monkey from entering the Strip!

I hope that this is what they are referring to when the Shin Bet tells us that Hamas now has advanced weapons that they smuggled in from Egypt. (Why couldn't the Egyptians have also checked some of those big pointy boxes with the missiles in them - they could have been confiscated at the check point too!

From www.stuff.com

While thousands of Palestinians flooded into Egypt to stock up on food, fuel and other staples after Islamist militants breached the border, one man bought a lion cub and a monkey to smuggle back home.

The man managed to reach Cairo and buy the animals despite a heavy security cordon, but police caught him at a checkpoint as he tried to sneak them back into Gaza in a small truck carrying furniture, security officials told Reuters on Saturday.

They said the man, whom they did not identify, confessed to wanting to sell the cub and monkey in Gaza.

Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, blew holes in the border wall in Egypt on January 23 in defiance of an Israeli-led blockade.

The group agreed on Saturday to Egyptian calls to control the flow of Palestinians through the border and said it expected Cairo to seal the remaining gaps in the frontier wall.

Perhaps this is what Bob Marley meant when he sang 'Iron, Lion, Zion'?

I am on the rock and then I check a stock
I have to run like a fugitive to save the life I live
Im gonna be iron like a lion in zion (repeat)
Iron lion zion
Im on the run but I aint got no gun
See they want to be the star
So they fighting tribal war
And they saying iron like a lion in zion
Iron like a lion in zion,
Iron lion zion

Im on the rock, (running and you running)
I take a stock, (running like a fugitive)
I had to run like a fugitive just to save the life I live
Im gonna be iron like a lion in zion (repeat)
Iron lion zion, iron lion zion, iron lion zion
Iron like a lion in zion, iron like a lion in zion
Iron like a lion in zion

Sunday, February 03, 2008

What shidduch crisis

The Orthodox world is having a shiddush crisis at the moment. There are far more women looking to get married than men, and the men are not interested (for the most part) in women who are too bright. So any woman with a career and an education finds it doubly difficult. In addition, the expectation in many circles now is that the man will continue learning in Kollel for several years while the wife will work, give birth and raise the children, keep the house clean and cook all the meals, all on her own. Surprisingly there are many women who seem to manage these impossible tasks.

Recently I've been asked to advise a few people on shidduchim - what they should be looking for, who they should be looking for and where they should be looking. I now know several people who have met and got married through internet sites such as JDate and Saw You at Sinai, so I don't want to be too negative about them. On the other hand, they force people to put themselves into categories and definitions that aren't designed for humans. I assume that they use the standard definitions - Modern Orthodox = Tefillin Dates. Ultra Orthodox = Throwing Rocks at Cars on Shabbat. Extra Ultra Orthodox = Beard and Hat cover the entire body (that's for the women - don't even ask about the men).

Worse than that - rather than looking at a person based on who they are, decisions are made on how they come across on paper. Rather than look for 'good midos' (which is what everyone says they want, even though nobody knows what it means), they are forced to choose based on body type, plans for hair covering, and three word descriptions.

I suppose as long as it works I should just be quiet. I hope that the shadchanim are taking notes and learning to look at the whole person, rather than putting two people together because they are both English, or both like jelly donuts.

I thought that these stories from Michael Freund were exaggerated (or made up) until my Shabbos guests said over the same stories. If they are not literally true, they could have been. No wonder there is a shidduch crisis!

From the Jerusalem Post

Here are a couple of true stories taken straight from the "you can't make this stuff up" file.

In a major European capital, a pair of Jewish parents was recently looking for a suitable match for their child. Hearing about a fine young prospect whose family came from a similar religious background, the parents were intrigued. They sought out additional information from friends and acquaintances and the results seemed promising.

Promising, that is, until one fateful day when they learned the crushing truth: the other family did not always use white tablecloths at their Sabbath meals.

Yes, you read that correctly.

In light of this bombshell revelation, the parents immediately decided to drop the potential match. End of story.

When I was done shaking my head in disbelief, I was then told another tale which is no less shocking for what it says about the current state of world Jewry.

It too concerned a potential match which had been discarded, though not because of anything having to do with place mats or eating utensils.

This time, the defining issue was whether or not the prospective groom's velvet yarmulke had a rim around its edges, which is said to indicate that he is more serious about Torah study.

A rim. On a yarmulke. That, believe it or not, was a make-or-break subject in pursuing a match.

HAVE WE lost our minds? Centuries ago, Machiavelli noted in The Prince how "the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by things that seem, than by those that are."

That astute observation may be accurate, but that does not make it right. By over-emphasizing external symbols, such as the type of yarmulke on a person's head, we have unwittingly downgraded the significance of far more important matters, such as a person's character, values and personality.

Worse yet, drawing these types of distinctions create new sub-categories of Jews: the rimmed vs. the un-rimmed, the white vs. the off-white tablecloth crowd.

Do we really need more fault-lines of division among the Jewish people? Indeed, neither the Shulhan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law), the Mishna Berura (one of its key commentaries), nor various other halachic works that I consulted speak of yarmulke rims or tablecloth colors. The sages were too wise to bother with such things.

Rather, this seems to be some kind of insidious social phenomenon that has seeped into Jewish life, transforming our value system by elevating the superficial and the petty to an exalted status.

As a result, many Jews have subtly gone from being the People of the Book to the People of the Look, placing more importance on symbols than on substance.

In other words, it matters less if you are a mensch, just as long as you look like one.

IN THIS sense, it brings to mind one of comedian Billy Crystal's most famous Saturday Night Live sketches, when he parodied a talk-show host named Fernando who was wont to declare: It is better to look good than to feel good. And my darling… You. Look. Marvelous.

But the fact is that we don't look so marvelous when we reduce holiness to Hollywood-style superficiality.

This trend, of course, is not confined to one sector of Jewry, but extends across the religious and ideological continuum, albeit in different ways.

Among religious Zionists, for example, it has become expected in certain circles that one should wear a white shirt - and only a white shirt - on Shabbat, as though this too had been handed down at Sinai. Put on a soft-blue cotton, and you are consigning yourself to a certain category in many people's eyes.

This kind of nonsense has got to stop. For in addition to sowing the seeds of division, it also creates a vast platform for hypocrisy, as people will inevitably "dress a part" that does not truly reflect who they are or how they live their lives.

Rabbis, teachers and spiritual leaders therefore have a special responsibility to tackle this issue head-on, and to decry the increasing atomization of the Jewish people. We are too small and fragmented as it is, and there is no need to invent new reasons with which to divide us still further.

In this regard, we would do well to recall a famous story about the Kotzker Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgenstern. In the middle of the 19th century, when the Russian Czar forbade Jews from wearing shtreimels (fur hats), a dispute broke out among the rabbis as to whether to abide by the decree or risk defying it.

In the Kotzker study house, a heated argument broke out over the subject, leading the Rebbe to open the door from his room and ask what the commotion was all about. Told about the dispute, he is said to have forcefully declared: "The only Jewish clothes are the tallit (prayer shawl) and tefillin (phylacteries)!!" - before shutting his door, thereby putting an end to the quarrel.

Sure, human beings have a psychological need for uniforms of one sort or another. It makes us feel good to be part of a team, of a select group of people who have come together for a common purpose.

But for those who are secure enough in their individuality and in their Jewish identity, being Jewish should be enough. No further demarcations should be necessary.

Because labels, as they say, might belong on clothing, and even perhaps on tablecloths, but certainly not on people.

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The Day the Music Died

I know I usually focus more on Yarzheits of Rabbis and Jewish people, but I couldn't overlook the fact that today is the anniversary of the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. Who knows how the face of popular music would have been changed had they not died so early in their careers (perhaps we could have avoided the entire 80s and 90s syntho-pop!)

The other tragedy from this event was of course the Don McLean song "American Pie" which is not particularly awful in and of itself, but I think after Madonna's cover version it is safer if nobody ever listens to the song again (you can never be too careful with these things). Of course that may lead everyone to listen to the song Vincent, inspired by the death of Vincent Van Gogh and his painting "Starry Night". This may lead to a greater appreciation of nineteenth century art. (lyrics to this song are at the end of the blog, curtesy of risa.co.uk

Stary Night by Vincent Van Gogh

So, probably not appropriate to say 'May their Souls be Bound...', but we still miss those who have departed this world. Their memories live on (even if only in 'cheap' movies like La Bamba!)

The Day the Music Died by Wikipedia

On February 3, 1959, a small-plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, United States, killed three popular American rock and roll musicians: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, as well as the pilot, Roger Peterson. The day was later called The Day the Music Died by Don McLean in his 1971 tribute song about the crash, "American Pie".

"The Winter Dance Party" was a tour that was set to cover 24 Midwestern cities in three weeks. A logistical problem with the tour was the amount of travel, as the distance between venues was not a priority when scheduling each performance. For example, the tour would start at venue A, travel two hundred miles to venue B, and travel back one hundred seventy miles to venue C, which was only thirty miles from venue A. Adding to the disarray, the tour bus used to carry the musicians was ill-prepared for the weather; its heating system broke shortly after the tour began. Drummer Carl Bunch developed a severe case of frostbitten feet while on the bus and was taken to a local hospital. As he recovered, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens took turns with the drums.

The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa was never intended to be a stop on the tour, but promoters, hoping to fill an open date, called the manager of the ballroom at the time and offered him the show. He accepted and the date of the show was set for February 2.

When Buddy Holly arrived at the ballroom that evening, he had had enough of the tour bus, and asked his bandmates that, once the show was over, they should try to charter a plane to get to the next stop on the tour, an armory in Moorhead, Minnesota. The destination of the flight was Hector Airport in Fargo, North Dakota (directly across the Red River from Moorhead), as Moorhead did not have an airport. According to VH-1's Behind the Music: The Day the Music Died, Holly was also upset that he had run out of clean undershirts, socks, and underwear, and Holly said he needed to do some laundry before the next performance, and the local laundromat in Clear Lake was closed for repairs.

Flight arrangements were made with Roger Peterson, 21, a local pilot who worked for Dwyer Flying Service in Mason City, Iowa. A fee of $36 per person was charged for the single engine Beechcraft Bonanza, which could seat three passengers in addition to the pilot.

Richardson had developed a case of the flu during the tour (erroneously[citation needed] thought to have been caused by riding on the unheated bus) and asked one of Holly's bandmates, Waylon Jennings, for his seat on the plane; Jennings agreed to give up the seat. According to an account by Jennings years later, when Holly heard about this, his reply to Jennings was, "Well, I hope your ole bus freezes up!" to which Jennings replied, "Well, I hope your damn plane crashes!" This exchange of words, though made in jest at the time, haunted Jennings for many years afterward.[1]

Ritchie Valens had never flown in a small plane before, and asked Holly's remaining bandmate on the plane, Tommy Allsup, for the seat. Tommy said "I'll flip ya for the remaining seat." Contrary to what is seen in biographical movies, that coin toss did not happen at the airport shortly before takeoff, nor did Buddy Holly toss it. The toss happened at the ballroom shortly before departure to the airport, and the coin was tossed by a DJ who was working the concert that night. Valens won a seat on the plane.

Dion DiMucci of Dion & The Belmonts, who was the fourth headliner on the tour, was approached to join the flight as well; however, the price of $36 was too much. Dion had heard his parents argue for years over the $36 rent for their apartment and could not bring himself to pay an entire month's rent for a short plane ride.

At approximately 1:00 AM Central Time on February 3, the plane took off from Mason City Municipal Airport. Around 1:05, Jerry Dwyer, owner of Dwyer Flying Service, could see the lights of the plane start to descend from the sky to the ground. At the time, he thought it was an optical illusion because of the curvature of the Earth and the horizon.

The pilot, Roger Peterson, was expected to file his flight plan once the plane was airborne, but Peterson never called the tower. Repeated attempts by Dwyer to contact his pilot failed. By 3:30 AM, when the airport at Fargo had not heard from Peterson, Dwyer contacted authorities and reported the aircraft missing.

Around 9:15 in the morning, Dwyer took off in another small plane to fly Peterson's intended route. A short time later he spotted the wreckage in a cornfield ( [show location on an interactive map] 43°13′12″N, 93°23′0″WCoordinates: [show location on an interactive map] 43°13′12″N, 93°23′0″W) belonging to Albert Juhl, about five miles northwest of the airport. The manager of the Surf Ballroom (who drove the performers to the airport, and also witnessed the plane taking off) made the positive identification of the performers.

The Bonanza was at a slight downward angle and banked to the right when it struck the ground at around 170 mph. The plane tumbled and skidded another 570 feet across the frozen landscape before the crumpled ball of wreckage piled against a wire fence at the edge of the property. The bodies of Holly and Valens lay near the plane, Richardson was thrown into a neighboring cornfield, and Peterson remained trapped inside. All four had died instantly from "gross trauma" to the brain, the county coroner Ralph Smiley declared.

Investigators came to the conclusion that the crash was due to a combination of poor weather conditions and pilot error. Peterson had done poorly on previous flight instrumentation tests and had not been rated for night-time flight, when he would have to rely on his instruments rather than his own vision. It was also found that Peterson was not given an accurate advisory of the weather conditions of his route, which, given his known limitations, might have caused him to postpone the flight.

Vincent - Don McLean

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul...
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land.

Now I understand
What you tried to say, to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free:
They would not listen; they did not know how --
Perhaps they'll listen now.

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue
Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand.

Now I understand
What you tried to say, to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free:
They would not listen; they did not know how--
Perhaps they'll listen now.

For they could not love you
But still, your love was true
And when no hope was left inside
On that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do--
But I could've told you, Vincent:
This world was never meant
For one as beautiful as you.

Starry, Starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget
Like the strangers that you've met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn, a bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow.

Now I think I know
What you tried to say, to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free:
They would not listen; they're not listening still--
Perhaps they never will.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Generate more blog traffic

Everyone wants more traffic to their blog. What is the point of writing if the entire world isn't reading?
There are many different sites where you can submit your blog and will hopefully get a lot of hits in return.
One of these sites that I've just discovered is Buzzfuse. It is different than the others, because you begin with showing your latest blog entry to your friends. Once they recommend it, it goes global. This way you can generate interest for your latest post, song, picture or anything else.
You simply post a small piece of code at the end of the blog you want to promote, invite your friends, and wait for the hits.
Have a look at this post to see how it works (look at the link on the bottom of the page).
Good luck.