Next year features an anomaly for American Jews – The first day of Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving, on 11/28/2013. I was curious how often this happens. It turns out that it has never happened before…and it will never happen again. 4 months ago
Thanksgiving is set as the fourth Thursday in November, meaning the latest it can be is 11/28. 11/28 is also the earliest Hanukkah can be. The Jewish calendar repeats on a 19 year cycle, and Thanksgiving repeats on a 7 year cycle. You would therefore expect them to coincide roughly every 19x7 = 133 years. Looking back, this is approximately correct – the last time it would have happened is 1861. However, Thanksgiving was only formally established by President Lincoln in 1863. So, it has never happened before. Why won’t it ever happen again?
The reason is because the Jewish calendar is very slowly getting out of sync with the solar calendar, at a rate of 4 days per 1000 years (not bad for a many centuries old calendar!) This means that while presently Hanukkah can be as early as 11/28, over the years the calendar will drift forward, such that the earliest Hanukkah can be is 11/29. The last time Hanukkah falls on 11/28 is 2146 (which happens to be a Monday). Therefore, 2013 is the only time Hanukkah will ever overlap with Thanksgiving. You can see the start date of Hanukkah as a function of time in the attached plots. In the long timescale plot, the drift forward is clear.
Of course, if the Jewish calendar is never modified in any way, then it will slowly move forward through the Gregorian calendar, until it loops all the way back to where it is now. So, Hanukkah will again fall on Thursday, 11/28…in the year 79,811.
A sad day for the future health of women in Michigan. 4 months ago
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate voted Wednesday to restrict and regulate abortion practices, including requiring a health professional to screen patients to ensure they aren’t being forced to end pregnancies.
The measures previously approved by the GOP-led House were approved by a 27-10 vote, mostly along party lines. The legislation returns to the House for its final review of changes before going to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
The bill package also enacts regulations related to the disposal of fetal remains. It additionally requires private medical offices to be licensed as freestanding surgical outpatient facilities if they perform at least 120 abortions annually and undergo annual state inspections.
Another key provision requires a physician to perform a mandatory physical examination before prescribing drugs that would cause a medically induced abortion, and prohibits the use of telemedicine, or a web-based camera for that exam.
The legislation drew a litany of failed amendments from Democratic Sen. Rebekah Warren, who described it as “dangerous and punitive.” Warren tried unsuccessfully to pass several other amendments – including a few she said were aimed at making a point about gender parity. One making the coercion language neutral so criminal penalties also could apply to someone forcing a woman to carry her pregnancy to its full term, another would have required a man seeking a vasectomy to be examined to see if the procedure was medically necessary to prevent death. Another would have required rectal exams before prescribing erectile dysfunction medicine.
“Women in Michigan, I hope you’re paying attention — today, the sky has fallen,” said Warren of Ann Arbor, who spent several years working for a nonprofit women’s reproductive health clinic. “This is a shameless back-door attempt to shut down women’s reproductive health clinics in the state.” 5 months ago