On the ascertainment of the Sabbath
Remember the seventh day and keep it wholly
(publisher’s note: this was supposed to go out on Thursday. Substack does not have an “always require posts to be delayed by at least one hour” button, apparently. We apologize for the misclick and the early delivery.)
You see, I'm a man of science. I've always been a skeptic, but I was raised quite religiously. And while I challenged it, even as a child, some of that feeling must have stuck with me.
I remember my father telling me, "the eyes of God are on us always." The eyes of God. What a phrase to a young boy.
I mean, what were God's eyes like? Unimaginably penetrating, intense eyes, I assumed. And I wonder if it was just a coincidence that I made my specialty ophthalmology. (Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1989 film)
In January, the Newslettr wrote about the six-day work week:
This post was surprisingly popular. The follow-up question is *which* day should be taken off.
For shift workers, this is best settled1 by the drawing of straws. Someone has to keep the trains running on the weekend, after all.
For more relaxed workers, this has historically been a matter of dispute. Muslims believe in Fridays, Jews in Saturdays, and Christians in Sundays. And nobody is quite sure how to manage the time zones.
the Yevaud Newslettr believes it has found a solution to the issue. But first, the week’s news.
War in Ukraine: We will not be doing any live commentary of the war this week. Publicly, I can neither confirm nor deny that I had a polite conversation with a Mr. James recently. Privately, you can get some actual answers behind the paywall.
A Quiz: Which 20th century artist is this in the style of? A) Jackson Pollock, B) Mark Rothko, C) Keith Haring, D) Andy Warhol.
The Berkshire Letter: The annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter is out (PDF link). I have read at least ten of the previous letters, and find this one somewhat underwhelming by comparison. If you have not read any of Warren Buffett’s letters, the Newslettr advises you to start with a different letter; the 2010 letter is a reasonable choice.
Web3 is Going Great: the Newslettr gave an opinion on cryptocurrencies in November 2021, and does not plan on re-visiting the topic anytime soon. For continuing coverage, https://web3isgoinggreat.com/ continues to track the many scams, hustles, hoaxes, and boojums2. If you prefer a different format, you can watch a podcast with the inimitable Molly White describing the work:
Pomp and Circumstance
And he said unto them: The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.
We start with Wikipedia:
The Doomsday rule, Doomsday algorithm or Doomsday method is an algorithm of determination of the day of the week for a given date.
The name is a bit ominous. I think this is just a mis-communication. The desired etymology is that “Doomsday” comes from Latin Dominus.
The most useful property of the Doomsday rule is the numerological concurrences. The following dates all fall on the doomsday:
the last day of February
4/4, 6/6, 8/8, 10/10, and 12/12
5/9, 9/5, 7/11, and 11/7
January 2 of the next year.
We propose that the proper day to observe the Sabbath is the Doomsday.
Now, I know what some of you3 are saying: Didn’t the prophet Muhammad4 declare a ban of intercalation? Isn’t there ongoing work to prevent the horrors of leap seconds? Doesn’t this mean that you will only observe the correct Sabbath once every 7 years (more or less)? And did you consider switching to the French Revolutionary Calendar?
The Seven Year Itch
Let’s be clear about what I am not saying here. I am not saying that 3500 years ago, a man named Moses5 had a spiritual crisis, and the prescription from השם was “TAKE TWO TABLETS AND CALL ME IN THE MORNING”.
But, if we suppose that did happen … would you rather have a ⅐ chance of being right 100% of the time, or a 100% chance of being right ⅐ of the time?
The correct answer is “a 100% chance of being right ⅐ of the time”.
The Leap Second
If you’re not familiar with the horrors of leap seconds, please read a post on the Google blog.
There are two problems with time-keeping. The first is that one must adjust for both special relativity and general relativity. The second is that the Earth’s spin is not constant.
Very roughly, I would not be opposed to the various governments of Earth coordinating with Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, etc. to manage rocket launches to ensure that leap seconds are not necessary.
The Intercalary Month
If you don’t know what “lunisolar calendar” means, you can stop reading now.
In 7th century Arabia, the various tribes all used the same calendar, and that calendar designated 4 months of the year where wars could not be fought. However, the intercalation process meant the tribes could not agree on which months those were.
As there is not nearly as important a difference in seasonal weather in Arabia compared to higher latitudes, it was determined that intercalation would be forbidden.
Here at Latitude 41, we do in fact need a calendar fixed to the seasons. So some form of variable-length years is a necessary evil.
The French Revolutionary Calendar
I actually tried operating on a 10-day week. It is simply too long. One is tempted to break it into two five-day weeks. While one ren could resist the temptation, a society can not.
The question of a 5-day week is harder to dismiss. But: you will have to find some other newslettr to dismiss it for you. -30-
The word “settlement” is one with many subtle meanings.
Penn & Teller did a performance for Comic Relief in 1990, (ref Youtube video). The line is “I know you guys are saying to yourself, [Teller] has got raw bacon in his mouth, what about trichinosis. Let me tell you right now, trichinosis is the least of his worries.”
peace be upon him
Moses is a patient here. Moses waited patiently 40 years in the Sinai desert.