Differences Between Things

The search box in Wikipedia suggests auto-completion when you start typing. For example, if you type “je” in the English Wikipedia search box, you’ll get the suggestions “Jews”, “Jewish”, “Jerusalem”, “Jesus”. (Jews kick ass!)

Jews Kick Ass. Henry Winkler, Albert Einstein, Sammy Davis Jr., Jesus, William Shatner, Bob Dylan

If you search for “differences between”, you’ll get this list:

auto-suggestions at Wikipedia for "differences between"

The top spot belongs to “Differences between editions of Dungeons & Dragons” and that shouldn’t be surprising: the article “List of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition monsters” only recently lost its first place in the list of the longest English Wikipedia articles by number of bytes to “‎2011 ITF Men’s Circuit” (it’s something in tennis).

Out of ten suggestions, six are related to languages. American and British English are considered one language, but everybody admits that it has many variations by pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary and many other parameters, and lots of people love to bicker about the spelling of “meter” and “aluminum”. Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian are one language that has different names for reasons that are more political than linguistic. Something similar can probably be said about Malaysian and Indonesian, Norwegian Bokmål and Standard Danish and Scottish Gaelic and Irish, but i know very little about these pairs.

Spanish and Portuguese are related, but definitely separate and mostly mutually unintelligible languages. It’s been said that it is easier for Portuguese speakers to understand Spanish speakers than the other way around, which is interesting, but it doesn’t really justify an encyclopedic article, as in the other cases. In fact, i am somewhat surprised that “Differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese dialects” is not in the list, given the huge number of arguments about it in the Portuguese – sorry, Lusophone – Wikipedia.

“Butterflies and moths” is probably the most serious article in this list, but that’s probably because i’m not a Biologist.

And the last two articles are about movies (James Bond – movies vs. novels) and religion (Codex Sinaiticus vs. Vaticanus), which is also very Wikipedia, the encyclopedia about which someone said that it has more stamp collectors than good writers. (Citation needed; I can’t find the original quote.)


For many months the Hebrew word for “messiah” in the English Wikipedia was spelled terribly wrong. The correct vocalized spelling is מָשִׁיחַ, which looks very logical to anyone who has intermediate understanding of Hebrew morphology. But the Wikipedia article Messiah had this atrocious spelling since 2008-12-24: מֹשִׁיַּח and before that, since 2008-02-08, it was even more monstrous: מָׁשִיַח. Before 2008-02-08 it was correctly written מָשִׁיחַ, and when some user changed it, possibly in good faith, nobody noticed.

From the article Messiah it was copied to an even more important article: Jesus. From both of them it was copied to many websites by people who don’t know Hebrew, but probably like foreign alphabets. Try this Google search: “מֹשִׁיַּח” -site:wikipedia.org. You can find there, for example the San Antonio Hard Rock Church. Say hello to Pastor Roland Gloria! WTF.

R’ Aviner vs. the Academia

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner in an interview to NRG-Judaism: “Render to the Academia the things that are Academia’s, and to Yeshiva the things that are Yeshiva’s“.

It strongly reminded me of Matthew 22:21 / Mark 12:17 / Luke 20:25.

Sanity check: Jews don’t recognize the New Testament as holy scripture, and that’s when they are polite. R’ Aviner is one of the unofficial spiritual leaders of the “National Religious” movement, and even though he is a bit controversial inside his own milieu, he is not suspected of Christianity.

But then, in modern Hebrew there’s a common expression מלח הארץ – “salt of the earth”. I looked for its origin and the oldest that i could find was Matthew 5:13.

Grapes of Wrath 2007

Winograd committee (standard!) which investigated the Second Lebanon War published its first official report today.

It is generating a lot media attention, but i wanted to point out two little things.

First – Retired Justice Eliyahu Winograd is the head of the committee. Winograd means grape in Russian. Thought you’d like to know.

Second – i like epigraphs and opening phrases. Great opening phrases, such as “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (which is probably an incorrect translation, but who cares), “On the twelfth of June, 1812, the forces of Western Europe crossed the Russian frontier and war began, that is, an event took place opposed to human reason and to human nature”, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”, “Perl is a language for getting your job done”.

The Winograd report doesn’t have a great opening line.

But it does have an epigraph: “Weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country” (Jeremiah 22:10). And the explanation: “This report is dedicated to the memory of beautiful flowers, the soldiers of IDF, that were cut down before their time in the second Lebanon war. They left after them a crying mother, a worrying father, a sad brother and a baby”.

The epigraph is taken out of context. The verse is incomplete. The full verse is “Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.”

As far as i understand the passage in the Bible refers to captive people. It is related to the war, because it started after soldiers were captured; but the explanation to the epigraph refers to soldiers who died in the war itself.

Israeli judges usually seem to write very good Hebrew in their reports and verdicts. I think that they slipped a little this time.


Time to get Biblical again. Jonah 1:

4 But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.
5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

I forgive everyone everything. I don’t hold grudges and i don’t worry about trouble. Either i can do something about it or i can go to sleep.