Thoughts about “Thoughts and Prayers”

It’s really upsetting to read about another school shooting like the one that happened yesterday in Florida.  I believe that there is a middle ground somewhere to be had so that basic freedoms are kept and guns are out of the hands of people that shouldn’t have them. The fact that the perpetrator of this heinous crime seems to have gotten the guns legally seems to indicate there is a failure somewhere in this process.

What exactly should be done is a debate for (maybe) another post. For the time being I’ll direct you to what I think is a very reasoned post from Reason.com (pun is completely unintentional – this time) about this topic. The main thing I wanted to talk about is the much maligned phrase “thoughts and prayers”. I think that people who lampoon, make fun, or chastise those who use the phrase are wrong. I completely understand their anger but I think it is misplaced.

It’s misplaced because this always falls along the political side you’re on about this topic. For example, those who believe that there should be very strict gun laws will only chastise the people on the other side of the opinion about using the phrase. If someone on their political team would use it there would be nothing but crickets. (I also think Twitter and the “hot take” have seriously degraded conversation and debate about controversal topics but that is maybe another post for another time.)

However the main thing reason these people should not be chastised is because right now what else is there to do for the people going through the hardship? Let’s take Joe (or Jane) Politician. Unless the politician is local to the incident, they really can’t do anything else. Could Politician have done something preventive so the horrific event doesn’t occur? Maybe they could have but in the here and now there isn’t really anything else Politician can do aside from offering “thoughts and prayers”.

Maybe you would argue that the politician really doesn’t mean that and they is just offering lip service? That is a very cynical approach to things and in a situation like a school shooting I would presume that the use of the phrase “thoughts and prayers” is heartfelt.

Let’s start trying to raise the level of discourse and start giving people who want to offer “thoughts and prayers” the benefit of the doubt that they really mean what they say.

More about Jews in comics

I know that I have written about this previously but this is a topic that really interests me. About two months ago in a issue of Ms. Marvel an honest to goodness Orthodox Jew was introduced as a supporting character in the book. What’s more interesting is that the character is treated with respect and his beliefs are respected.

Another interesting aspect of this introduction is the writer of the book G. Willow Wilson took the time to be interviewed by Tablet Magazine and she shows an amazing amount of sensitivity to the subject. I’m now a fan of her work just because how thoughtful and sensitive she is to these kinds of things.

Remembering my Grandmother

My dad and I have a weekly appointment to talk on Sunday mornings. This morning our conversation was as usual, we focused on how my grandmother was doing. Her condition had been going down hill since the end of August when she broke her leg in three places and needed surgery. It was later discovered that she had a lump in her cheek that turned out to be cancer which had spread so much that radiation therapy or chemotherapy wouldn’t make a difference. About an hour ago my dad called me from the hospice care and told me she had passed away. She was 87, a few weeks shy of her 88th birthday.  
Wedding photo of my grandparents John Benedict Sr. and Fay Benedict
Date unknown
  Lots of people have good memories of their grandmother and I’m no different. She (along with my grandfather) was a rock for me when my parents got divorced and their house was a refuge for me during those stormy years. My grandmother always made sure that I had a fun time. One of the things I distinctly remember is that on nights I would be there (often to sleep over) is the ice cream with the home made chocolate sauce. It was something that was always done with love and caring.    Her positivity and her joy for life. My grandmother (or “Mum” as I called her) always had this positivity about her. It didn’t matter what you wanted to do and she would try to move heaven and earth to help you and was always in your corner. This was evident even when she was trying to improve herself. I remember all of the ways she tried to break bad habits. Even the when I saw her for the last time (in a weird twist of fate the aforementioned broken leg happened the day we were driving home from our Pittsburgh trip) she was extremely positive.  As you can see from the photo at the top of this post she enjoyed life. That picture was taken at my niece’s Bas Mitzvah (she was holding her great-grandson) where we we had four generations of Benedicts in the same room. It was a very meaningful moment to me and I’m sure to the rest of my family.    I’m going to miss her. I have so many good memories of her and will always treasure those memories. Her memory should be a blessing to our entire family.

Focusing on What is Important

I hate labels and the is especially true when it comes to Judaism and more specifically when it comes to Orthodox Judaism[1]. In his post today Harry Maryles touches on some of these issues. He received an email from an anonymous[2] “Charedi personality” bemoaning this kind of behavior. Here is what I think is the main takeaway quote:

In his view there is a near absence of Yir’as Shomayim and Ahavas Hashem that begins in our G-d free zones in yeshivas and girls’ schools, and continues throughout the lifespan where the ‘Frum’ are focused only on the chitzoniyus (translation – what can be seen from the outside -ab).

In many ways this is true. Look at the way yeshiva boys dress once they become Bar Mitzvah, they all wear a black hat, white shirt, and dark-colored pants[3]. It almost seems that there is no individuality allowed. I’m going to go “old man yells at clouds” for a moment and say that this wasn’t always the way things were. When I was in yeshiva for high school (and even post high school) we all wore colored shirts and were allowed to wear different colored slacks as well. Now when I see boys who attend my high school or post high school yeshiva they are all in the same “uniform”.

The focus on the outer trappings goes even further. I showed my daughter’s class list to someone and they noticed I have an apartment number on our address. It was suggested to me that I get rid of the address on the class list because it won’t look good when it comes time for her to start dating[4]. The reason was if we have an apartment number in the address it looks like we don’t have money!

The community writ large needs to get back to the basics Avodas Hashem (serving G-d); and we need to realize there are many ways to serve Hashem. Once we realize that we can then begin to respect the differences and create the harmony that is longed for.


  1. I also hate the phrase Orthodox Judaism but that is for another time.  ↩
  2. If someone did this in a non-anonymous fashion the discussion may be farther along and real change may have occurred  ↩
  3. Trousers for you British folks.  ↩
  4. This blog isn’t going to do her any favors either.  ↩

What’s next for Wave Accounting?

I have been using the Wave Accounting service for several years. Recently I have decided to stop using Mint and use Wave for my personal finances as well. The idea is that this will allow me to streamline things when I purchase something business related with my personal card and the opposite. However, this week Wave decided to throw a wrench into my plans and get rid of some of the personal accounting features. 

To be honest I didn’t use the personal budgeting or investing features but I am concerned about what comes next for the personal side of their service. I completely understand and agree with their reasoning. If only a small group were using these features and they are in the way it makes sense to remove them for something else. However this is exactly the problem; their post didn’t spell out at all what was going to replace these features on the personal side (if anything was going to be replacing these features).   This is exactly what I am concerned about. I don’t know what features (if any) are going to be replacing the budgeting and investing. It would be perfectly fine if Wave was going to allow the personal side to view reports and charts (How much of my spending is going to restaurants?) but they just didn’t clearly state what was going to happen with the over all personal side of financing. They may be getting rid of the personal side all together. You can’t really tell from the post/email they wrote. Make no mistake, I’m very happy with Wave for my very small business and I will continue to use it for sending out invoices and keeping my business finances in line. I just wish they were clearer about what was going to be happening on the personal side of things. 

Thoughts on the NYC Mayoral Debate

A few weeks ago the New York City Democratic Party had a debate with the two candidates running in the primary coming up in a few weeks. The two candidates are the incumbent mayor, Bill de Balsio, and Sal Albanase.

For the most part the debate was your typical modern day debate filled with zingers, gotchas, and sounds bites. I wasn’t too impressed with Albanase and I’ve not been impressed with the way de Blasio has run the city the past four years.

There was one part of the debate that was interesting that was the good folks over at Intelligence Squared US co-sponsored the debate. There was one question which the candidates debated for and against a motion. Like all debates put on by Intelligence Squared the idea is to use facts are reason, not sound bites, to win.[1]. I didn’t think either candidate did a good job with the facts. In fact, I don’t think they fully understood what they were supposed to do. This is a shame but on the other hand it isn’t much of a surprise because they are not used to debating in that way.

However I think this is a great idea and I hope that more local debates do this and eventually all of the debates can be done in this fashion.


  1. The debate for the general election (October 10) will also have a round of questions where the candidates will have to do the same.  ↩

UBI, Healthcare, and the states

A few weeks ago the news broke that Hawaii was starting to look at having a state wide Universal Basic Income (UBI). I became aware of the UBI last year when Charles Murray did several short Youtube videos about how UBI would help in the U.S.

I don’t know any more of they details for the Hawaii plan but I think this is going the right way and it’s why Federalism can work if we just give it a chance. Think of it this way, if Hawaii is successful another state can take the idea and modify it to what works for them. If Hawaii’s plan isn’t successful there will be lessons that other states can learn from and possibly go ahead with a different plan from the lessons learned. If a subset of states are successful it can me a model for a federal plan.

It’s the same idea for the single payer health care. I am not the biggest fan of the of the single payer system but I do think that if a state wants to try a single payer system they should be able give it a try if they would like. (Of course the fact three states have wanted to try but couldn’t figure out how to keep their budgets balanced says something)

That states can try these things is the great thing about our federalist system and the exact thing that the Founders wanted them to try. Now that both political parties understand the need to the states to be somewhat independent from the federal government let’s see what the states can come up with.

Mars Edit’s New Public Beta

I’ve been a user of Red Sweater Software’s Mars Edit for quite a while now (at least seven years). It was to much joy that I saw the announcement of the public beta for the new version of the blogging software. It looks good so far and one of the features I am really excited for is the ability to preview your post with the theme of your blog. I am sure this was one of the more requested features to add.