Allow me, since it is the third day of our vacation, to relate to you a remarkable dream, which is connected with the history of our family. On the Commonwealth (De Republica) - The Dream of Scipio (Book VI) by Marcus Tullius Cicero

The Scipio clan was one of the most prestigious families in all of ancient Rome. A number of the patricians had served as consul over the few centuries of the Republic.

The reason why this dream is so connected with family history is due to the fact that Scipio Aemilianus’s grandfather, Scipio Africanus was the General who presided over Rome’s victory in the Second Punic War, in which the greatest military leaders in history, Hannibal of Carthage, was defeated.

Hannibal’s army, famous for their calvary Elephants.

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[Scipio] On the Commonwealth (De Republica) - The Dream of Scipio (Book VI) by Marcus Tullius Cicero

Scipio Aemilianus was a Roman Consul and General during the 2nd-century B.C. who died just a few decades before Cicero’s time. Although he made major moves in Spanish Gaul, and ended up being elected Consul before he was even at the required age, Scipio Aemilianus is inextricably linked to the destruction of Carthage.

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Analysis of DNA samples has shown that on the female line, the Ashkenazim are descended not from the Near East but from southern and western Europe DNA Research Sheds Light On Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews by Science Daily

As might be expected from the autosomal picture, Y-chromosome studies generally show the opposite trend to mtDNA (with a predominantly Near Eastern source) with the exception of the large fraction of European ancestry seen in Ashkenazi Levites. (Discussion, 5th paragraph)

In other words, while mitochondrial DNA (passed down by mothers) has shown a very deeply rooted European ancestry among Jews, Y-chromosome analysis (passed down by fathers) has shown comparable ancestral origins in the Levant. From here, this political question is further clouded by the power of science, i.e. what % of your DNA must you share with a group of people to constitute “origin”, and where do we draw the line as far as commonly occurring population shifts?

So no, the question has not been answered, but we can now confirm that there was a large-scale conversion of non-Jewish women to Judaism, possibly during the Hellenistic period of mass-proselytizing, which had previously been suggested by historian Shlomo Sand.

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A new article in the leading journal Nature Communications claims to have settled the question. DNA Research Sheds Light On Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews by Science Daily

Of course, this is pure sensationalism. As previously mentioned, the applicable scientific methods in finding a definitive answer to this debate are rapidly evolving at the moment, but can not provide a clear picture yet.

More importantly, a crucial piece within the discussion of this research was left out:

With sufficient resolution, a detailed genealogical history for every maternal lineage in the Ashkenazim is now within reach; in fact, it should soon be possible to reconstruct the outlines of the entire dispersal history of each community. (last paragraph)

Notice the implicit acknowledgment here that these results are tentative, and by no means should be taken as a definitive conclusion. The good news is that more is sure to come of future results.

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Are they principally descended from forbears who migrated from Palestine in the first century AD? Or were their ancestors Europeans who converted to Judaism? DNA Research Sheds Light On Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews by Science Daily

The hard science behind these questions is still very new. A more practical question to ask might be why these questions are at all significant, and how has it traditionally been looked at:

  • The significance of these questions is based primarily on the highly politicized question of whether Jews are a religious group or an ethnic group. More specifically, it rests on the opposing viewpoints of Jewish emancipation vs. assimilation.

This is an important distinction in the Jewish mythology, as the former would imply a strong nationalistic element within the Diaspora, and the yearning for a united Jewish nation. The latter would lend credence to the view that various Jewish populations left their homeland willingly over hundreds of years in search for better prospects, and assimilated into other societies accordingly.

As mainstream Jewish scholarship emerged after the Enlightenment, historian David Gans made use of historical dissemination in providing:

…householders like myself overburdened with everyday worries, with a tale to lighten their load.

This idea would later give rise to the classic Scholem/Kurzweil debate among modern Jewish scholars regarding whether or not historical veracity should be valued more than the nationalistic connection that may be nurtured by Jewish historiography, regardless of its relative accuracy.

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Until you generate cash, you must heed investors even when they are wrong. Cash Flow and Destiny by B Horowitz 2

For the most part, people don’t decide to up and create something simply because they need to make money. In fact, if an individual is really strapped for cash, it’s all the more likely that they won’t be starting up a business anytime soon, especially considering the measly 12% success rate for first-time entrepreneurs.

Although generating revenue is rarely the ultimate goal for a young tech entrepreneur, there’s no way to get past the fact that you need capital to grow. The point here isn’t that entrepreneurs must kiss ass in order to succeed, or even that cash is, above all and always, king. The real wisdom here lays in the idea that:

To succeed on your own terms, you must find that balance between your entrepreneurial freedom and the patience of your investors.

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-- the origin of Europe's Ashkenazi Jews. DNA Research Sheds Light On Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews by Science Daily

“Ashkenazi Jews” is a descriptive term for contemporary Jews who descended from the Jewish population that was extremely prevalent throughout Europe, from the middle ages up until WWII; Ashkenazi literally means German/Germanic. At their peak, this distinct Jewish population made up about 92% of all Jews, while they are now believed to constitute anywhere from 74-85% of Jews. Half of the current Jewish population in Israel is identified as Ashkenazi.

Although they were traditionally defined by their shared religious practices, the Yiddish language, and reproductive isolation, modern day migration patterns have blurred the lines significantly. For the most part, any Jew with ancestral roots in Europe is usually described as an Ashkenazi Jew.

This is where the debate arises: Are Ashkenazi Jews primarily European converts, or an isolated population of Jews who migrated from the Levant?

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The young science of archaeogenetics has been used to settle a long-standing controversy DNA Research Sheds Light On Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews by Science Daily

Although this is science, not politics, it is unrealistic to believe that the two disciplines don’t interact in some way, depending on the individual who wields them. In the world of archaeogenetics, few topics are more politically charged than that of Jewish origin.

There are a few reasons for this:

  • Judaism is much more than just a faith-based religion, as its origins are tribal in nature. This means that up until the first century, one could not become a member of the Jewish tribe through faith alone; that ancestral line (traditionally patrilineal) had to be present as well.
  • Because of this ancestral connection, it would follow that Jews, primarily identified by their religion, could also be characterized as an ethnic group. However, the characteristics that once would have supported this idea are not as apparent in contemporary times.
  • Despite the fact that this ancestral lineage and shared tribal culture has been “watered down” over hundreds of years of Jewish diaspora, it was still the explicit reasoning behind the Zionist movement.
  • In response to the Zionist movement, many Jews and non-Jews began the reactionary anti-Zionist movement. Shlomo Sand, professor of history at Tel Aviv University, summed up a few of the logical fallacies, as he sees them, behind Zionism in his book, The Invention of the Jewish People.

With the incredible advancement of genetic studies over the last decade, the science is finally to able back-up, or debunk, some of the long-standing claims about Judaism as an ethnic identity. None-the-less, there’s not a whole lot of room for facts in the political arena, so the debate is likely to continue.

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Would be something that bothered you. Jimmy Kimmel Interview Pt. 1 by Kanye West (Ft. Jimmy Kimmel)

In the grand scheme of things, this was a comedian making a joke. Although it showed insensitivity towards Kanye’s situation and ignorance as far as his past history, we don’t like comedians for their sensitivity; they are social critics first and foremost, which leaves little room for sympathy.

Although ‘Ye probably overreacted, it was not at all surprising given his history, and is actually pretty understandable. This is a man whose admitted arrogance has led him to be lambasted by the media for having a “god complex”, and made him the target of every talentless journalist (read: hack blogger), who continues to refer to him as a psuedo-intellectual.

Kanye’s passionate personality often fuels these fires, and not all the criticism he receives is unfair, but Kimmel should have known that poking fun of a man in a vulnerable state would result in this exact situation.

Below: One of the many deleted tweets from the now infamous KW vs. JK twitter rant.

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There always have been some who opposed the American system, and preferred socialism or some form of statism (communism or fascism). Attack of American Free Enterprise System by Lew Powell Jr.

Just to set the record straight, true “laissez-faire” capitalism has never existed in the industrialized world. The U.S. government has a long history of state capitalism, as defined by “a regime of highly concentrated private ownership, subsidized and protected by government.”

This high concentration of wealth allows corporations to privatize profits, while socializing the losses. In fact, this phenomenon of “socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor” was first pointed out in the early 1960’s. Today it rings true more than ever.

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