Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beware of comedians mercilessly lampooning anti-Semites

Jerusalem, Dome of the RockImage via Wikipedia; remove Dome of the Rock and insert Temple here

Jewish date:  Jewish date:  18 Tammuz 5770 (Parashath Pineḥas).

Today’s holidays:  The Three Weeks (Judaism), First Martyrs of the Church of Rome (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. “Papa Doc” Duvalier (Church of the SubGenius).

NOTE:  There was no blogging yesterday due to the Fast of Tammuz, which begins the Three Weeks, a period of mourning for the destruction of the First and Second Temples and other tragedies in Jewish history.

Worthy causes of the day:  “Save dairy farms from big agribusiness”, “Alliance for Justice:  Tell Congress: Repair the Damage Caused by the Corporate Court”, and “Make Sale of Crush Videos Illegal Again!”.

Topic 1:  Today’s daily dose of anti-Semitism updates.  To start off, I will let the comedians at La’ṭmah lampoon current anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism in “The Three Terrors from Iran, Syria and Turkey -full Tribal Update” and “The Muslim War Council”:

Let’s face it:  comedians can say true things with impunity that many other people would hesitate say at all.  The Dry Bones cartoon “Immigrants (1990)” correctly notes the different attitudes of Israel on Jewish immigrants and Islamic countries on “Palestinian” immigrants; the former I, as a future immigrant to Israel, am grateful for, while the latter is beneath contempt and a complete betrayal of the notion that all Muslims are supposed to brothers and sisters.  “Bret Stephens on Shalom TV: Will Israel Survive?” presents a “liberal case” for Israel:

Mr. Stephens correctly notes that the values of Israeli society and government are in close agreement with liberal values, while the values are Islamic countries are contradictory to liberal values; it therefore makes no sense for liberals to back Islamic states.  “Telegraph Caught Recycling Gaza War Photo to Distort Today's Reality” documents using an old photograph as if it were applicable to the current situation, a form of quoting out of context.  Rav Shmuely Boteach presents “Response to Congressman Rothman Calling Pres. Obama the Best Friend Israeli Security has Ever Had” and “The World’s Oldest Hatred”, noting correctly that Obama is no friend of Israel (actually, to be fair, every US president since at least Jimmy Carter, has tried to get Israel to do stupid things in the name of “peace”) and that Israel-bashers tend to be insensitive to things wrong with other countries, such as Israel’s enemies.

On a brighter note:  “Dutch may use 'decoy Jews' to fight racism” discusses a new tactic in fighting anti-Semitic attacks in Holland.  Apparently not everything is looking hopeless.

Also:  Someone please prod me to get back to writing about Jesus for a change and not to concentrate too much on the Arab-Israeli War.  We are most likely going to be dealing with the Arab-Israeli War so long as our planet uses petroleum as fuel, and there is no way one man can comment on everything on this one topic.  Not to mention that there is material in Sanhedhrin 43a that presents a radically un-Christian picture of one “Yeshu hanNoṣri”, and there is some particularly un-Jewish and anti-Semitic material in the Gospel According to John which really needs to be discussed.

Topic 2:  More Islamic misbehavior:  “Pakistan's Karachi wracked by spate of killings” (as if killing those one disagreed with made one right), “Pakistan to monitor Google and Yahoo for 'blasphemy'” (as if censorship worked), “Ad aims to propagate true Islam” (as if positive advertising made up for news reporting all the horrible things done in the name of Islam, especially when they contradict the ads), “Ill. police revoke 1st Muslim chaplain's post” (the guy was linked to terrorists, absolutely the wrong sort of person to be in public service).

Related commentary:  “Jihad Denial Syndrome”.  Wishful thinking will never make Islam a religion of peace.  Only Muslims can actually make that happen.

Topic 3:  For today’s religious humor: “Adam and Apple”.  I am not quite sure what, if anything, this cartoon is meant to mean.


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Monday, June 28, 2010

More on Mort


Jewish date:  16 Tammuz 5770 (Parashath Pineḥas).

Today’s holidays:  Feast Day of Irenaeus (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Carlos Castaneda (Church of the SubGenius).

Worthy cause of the day:  BP is burning endangered sea turtles alive.

ANNOUNCEMENT:  I have now scheduled a pilot trip to Israel for the second half of August.  My plans for immigrating to Israel are progressing (thank YHWH), and I hope to report on religion over there.  Now I have to do further work on the details of the trip and ultimate immigration…

Topic 1:  More on Mort (The Discworld Series, book 4), and I cannot believe I overlooked this.  As Mort takes over Death’s duties and Death’s attributes, he becomes “more real”.  He becomes more solid and less susceptible to influence.  He even can notice the interface between the two realities in Sto Lat, while everyone else is oblivious to it.  This may reflect a limit to the power of belief in the Discworld.  While belief can reshape reality, it seems to have no power over Death.  No one so far has believed their way to immortality in the sense of their material body remaining intact and functioning; the best they have done is to become ghosts.  Death is fated to be the last being in existence, and being the final fate of everything, no matter what, it is arguably “more real” than anything else.

Topic 2:  For today’s religious humor: “Basement Cat”:
funny pictures of cats with captions


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Friday, June 25, 2010

Theological review of Mort and Sourcery (The Discworld Series, books 4 and 5)


Jewish date:  13 Tammuz 5770 (Parashath Balaq).

Today’s holidays:  Friday of the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Ed Gein (Church of the SubGenius).

Topic 1:  Mort and Sourcery (The Discworld Series, books 4 and 5) by Terry Pratchett.


Mort is the more overtly religious of the two books, building upon the character of Death and his domain.  (And because much of what happens in this book is connected with Death, this is going to be a long, nontrivial review.)  Death’s domain is elaborated beyond parts of a building which Rincewind and Twoflower saw to include a surrounding area including a garden, moors, and mountains, only all in black.  Death created his domain, and it did not come out quite right.  Everything is only an imitation of the real thing, e.g., the mountains are fuzzy up close.  Even the time of Death’s domain is fake, as Death’s adopted daughter Ysabell has remained 16 for 35 years there, and his servant Albert has remained something like 91 for about 2,000 years.  The job of Death is also elaborated on.  There is an hourglass for everyone on the Discworld, and when the sand in the hourglass runs out, their soul needs to be removed with a special scythe.  (Keep in mind that the Death of Discworld is essentially the Grim Reaper, though the classic Grim Reaper does not ride around on a horse named “Binky”.)

In this book, Death takes on an apprentice by the name of Mort, who in his teens and something of a bookworm.  Ysabell correctly notes it makes no sense for Death to have an apprentice; it is not as if Death is going to die and need a replacement.  Nevertheless, Death trains Mort in his job of collecting the souls anyway, and there are strong hints that Mort is meant to also keep Ysabell company.  (She has Death, Albert, and some horses for company, no one particularly like her, so she is very lonely.)

Mort has moral qualms about his new job.  He is horrified to learn that when one dies, one experiences what one expects will happen to him/her.  E.g., if one believes one will go to Heaven, one goes to Heaven.  If one believes one will be reincarnated, one is reincarnated.  And if one believes one will go to Hell—well, you get the picture.  Mort decries this as unfair.  Though considering the power of belief on the Discworld (though not our own world), this does make sense.  And hold on to the notion of belief creating reality, because we will be dealing with it again in a moment.

Also problematic to Mort is how death is parceled out.  Death knows whose souls to take by reading the Nodes (or something like that) and checking hourglasses.  Who lives and dies is handed down from the Discworld gods, and whether anyone actually deserves to die apparently does not figure into it.  And this causes trouble for Mort.  When he is sent to collect the soul of Princess Keli of Sto Lat, he collects the soul of her would-be assassin instead.  In doing so, he splits reality in two.  In most of the Discworld, Keli is dead and the evil Duke has succeeded to the throne; but in Sto Lat, Keli still lives—sort of.

Though Keli is still breathing, eating, and moving about, everyone around her is in a state of confusion; left to themselves, they feel that someone important is dead and will act on it, and they will even act unaware of Keli’s existence, but they are not completely oblivious to her.  Keli consults the 20-year-old wizard Igneous Cutwell, who is probably the only one around who is not oblivious to her, and he is able to divine through the Discworld equivalent of tarot cards and I Ching her situation.  Refusing to simply live with being dead (so to speak), Keli charges Cutwell with the office of Royal Recognizer; his duty is to fix things so that everyone recognizes her as alive.  Knowing the power of belief, Cutwell unleashes a propaganda campaign, with images of Keli everywhere, hoping that by convincing people he can stabilize the local reality with Keli as being alive.  Only his success is mixed, and the bubble of local reality is shrinking.  Keli thus charges Cutwell with the task of officially crowning her queen before the bubble collapses completely, even though he has to highly abbreviate the ceremony, including forcing the half-blind high priest to rush through sacrificing an elephant to do so.  (And the elephant only gets a flesh wound on the trunk and escapes, so rest assured that no elephants were killed in the telling of this story.)

Mort has his own problems.  He has a crush on Keli and wants to save her, but Death has disappeared and someone needs to do his job—and Mort dares not not do “the Duty”.  (Ysabell and Albert would never let him.)  His solution to the moral dilemma is to do the Duty with Ysabell’s help and hope he can reach Sto Lat in time to do anything to save Keli.  In doing the Duty, Mort increasingly takes aspects of Death upon himself, in some aspect actually becoming Death.  Mort and Ysabell do arrive before the bubble collapse.  They try to stabilize the bubble through belief, appointing Cutwell a priest and having him crown Keli, but to no avail.  In the end, all four of them escape to Death’s domain on Binky.

In the meantime, Albert (previously the great wizard Alberto Malich) returns to Unseen University and terrifies the wizards there into helping him perform the Rite of AshkEnte, which summons Death away from his new job as a chef(!) and back to his actual job.  Death, being the magically reified personification of death, came into existence when the first living thing came into existence, and he will exist until no one is left and there is nothing else to do but (so to speak) to put the chairs up on the tables and turn out the lights.  This is a grim future for the Grim Reaper, and thus he hoped to escape it—or at least get a vacation from it—through becoming more human.  (One may quibble about whether being the last being left alive or dying earlier is better; this is arguably just a matter of taste.  But despair at the idea is quite understandable.)

Death, when he returns to his domain, is, of course, angry.  Thus he and Mort fight in the (very large) room full of hourglasses.  Every time an hourglass breaks, someone dies; Ysabell, Keli, and Cutwell thus work hard to save whatever hourglasses they can from being smashed.  Death gloats that Mort cannot win; even the Discworld gods are subject to him.  (And in this respect the Discworld gods are clearly of a very inferior sort of deity.  Discworld theology seems to be designed for humor, not to necessarily reflect any particular real religion.)  And the sand in Mort’s hourglass is running out.  Death regrets that he must kill Mort, but Mort claims he understands.  And then, as the last grain of sand in Mort’s hourglass runs out, there is a surprise twist in the plot:  Death turns the hourglass upside-down. And this makes sense:  if he is above the gods, then has to answer to no one for tampering with reality.  If he wants Mort to continue to live, Mort will continue to live, because no one can stop him.

Tampering with reality is not limited to Mort continuing to live.  Keli’s fate is also altered so that she lives—and the gods agree to this, being reportedly sentimental and just—though she must now unite the Sto region as the Duke was originally supposed to do.  (The Duke died when his hourglass was broken in the fight between Death and Mort, so he is no longer a threat.)  Mort and Ysabell also have their fate changed; they leave Death’s domain, get married, and become the Duke and Duchess of Sto Helit.  In short:  while there is fate on the Discworld, it is not immutable.

It also turns out the attempt to alter reality, independently of Death or the gods, was somewhat successful.  Death gives Mort and Ysabell a “pearl of reality” formed by the attempt.  This may become a full-fledged universe at some point.

The theology in Sourcery is more subtle.  The eighth son of an eighth son on the Discworld is a wizard.  Wizards are supposed to be celibate, and the reason for this having nothing to do with sex being bad for magic.  (Which may be good news for such implied pairings as Simon with Esk and Cutwell with Keli, should they figure this out.)  Rather, the eighth son of a wizard is a sourcerer.  Sourcery is a much more basic and powerful sort of magic than wizardry or witchcraft.  And we find out just why wizards did whatever they could to prevent the second coming of sourcery when outcast wizard Ipslore the Red marries and has eight sons, the eighth, Coin, naturally being a sourcerer.  Soon after Coin’s birth, Death comes for Ipslore—as he comes personally for all wizards—but Ipslore escapes Death temporarily by transferring his essence to his octiron staff.  Ipslore intends to instruct Coin from within the staff and make it that Coin will become Archchancellor of Unseen University and “show the world its true destiny, and there will be no magic greater than his.”  Death objects to predestination; there must be a way out of this fate somehow.  (Remember that in the previous book the judgement was that fate is not perfectly predestined, so Pratchett is being consistent.)  Ipslore reluctantly agrees.

Ten years later, Coin comes marching in to Unseen University with powers beyond anything that wizards have.  He takes over and subjugates and destroys anyone who stands in his way.  He is so powerful that he takes over Ankh-Morpork and magically renovates the entire city.  Furthermore, he wants to become Archchancellor.  Soon ambient magic levels rise sharply.  Every wizard becomes much more powerful.  Great towers start going up, and the wizards in the towers start fighting each other, wreaking enormous destruction.  Coin even dares to imprison the Discworld gods in a pearl of reality.  With the gods gone, the Four Horsemen of the Apocralypse gather together at a bar, and the Ice Giants decide the end of the world has come and start riding their herds of glaciers over everything they can.  Everything seems grim.

There is a complication to Coin’s plans.  To properly become Archchancellor, one needs the official Archchancellor’s hat.  The hat, which has absorbed something of the magic and personality of its previous owners, calls out to be stolen by Ankh-Morpork’s greatest thief:  Conina, daughter of Cohen the Barbarian, would-be hairdresser, and plausibly inspiration for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena, Warrior Princess.  Conina not only steals the hat, but soon teams up (more or less) with the massively incompetent wizard Rincewind to get the hat to far-away Al Khali and away from Coin.  After some adventuring, they get to Al Khali, where the Seriph Creosote throws Rincewind in a snake pit and Conina in his harem.  In the snake pit Rincewind finds (unsurprisingly) a snake and Nijel the Destroyer.  Nijel is a barbarian hero-wannabe who is only slightly more skilled at being a barbarian hero than Rincewind is at being a wizard.  Conina’s experience in the harem is a parody of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, with Creosote trying to get Conina to tell him a story.  (Sorry, not the stuff one expects to happen in a harem.)  Creosote also has a tendency to (try to) flatter women in poetic language which sounds like something from Song of Songs or The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam; Conina, who is frequently on the receiving end of the compliments, finds this annoying.  Also out of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights are a magic lamp (with an incredibly useless genie) and a flying carpet.  FYI:  make sure your flying carpet is right-side-up before using it; otherwise you will have to order it to go down in order to make it go up.  But I digress.

The Apocralypse does not come, not in the least because Conina, Nijel, and Creosote steal the horses of Pestilence, Famine, and War, leaving them stranded at the bar since Death does not want all four of them riding on Binky.  Conina and Nijel face off against the Ice Giants and their glaciers.  They do not really think that they have any chance of winning, but rather Nijel believes (despite all evidence to the contrary) that he really is a barbarian hero, and a real barbarian hero would never back down from a fight, no matter how hopeless it seems.  Their fight with the frozen foe never comes (though they do get a beautiful moment together), because of the actions of an even more unlikely hero:  Rincewind.  (I don’t make this silliness up.  I just comment on it.)  Rincewind, arriving at Unseen University on the flying carpet.  Rincewind attacks the octiron staff, managing to drive a wedge between the spirit of Ipslore and Coin and toss himself and Coin into the Dungeon Dimensions.  Death finally manages to collect Ipslore’s soul.  In the Dungeon Dimensions, Rincewind manages to send back Coin with the pearl of reality containing the gods, who put an end to the terror of the Ice Giants once released.  (Major rule of theology:  no one messes with the gods and gets away with it.)

Coin, realizing he is too powerful for the Discworld, leaves for a universe of his own creation.  Rincewind remains trapped in the Dungeon Dimensions, but I strongly doubt that Pratchett would allow such a great character to remain there indefinitely.

Next up:  The Wyrd Sisters (The Discworld Series, book 6).

Topic 2:  About a weeks worth of commentary on anti-Semitism (and I will lay off of this topic when the anti-Semites learn to shut up and stop blaming the Jews for everything wrong with the world):  1) The Dry Bones cartoons “Media Attention”, “Piracy”, and “Independent Women - the Dry Bones Blog”.  (Enjoy the irony.)  2) From HonestReporting:  “Behind Bars: Photo Bias Breaks Out of Gaza”, “Will the Media Remember Gilad Shalit?”, and “Scenes From the World's Biggest Concentration Camp”.  3) Assorted other people getting mad:  “An open letter to President Obama from Jon Voight - Washington Times”, “Geert Wilders: Change Jordan's name to Palestine” (which works historically, since Mandatory Palestine started off including what is now Jordan), “Weathering the approaching storm”, and “Joyce Kaufman. The 7 Reasons to Support Israel.”:

Topic 3:  Arguably creeping Islamization here in the United States, and yes, this is definitely against the Constitution:  “Dearborn Police: Defending Islam against the Constitution”:

Topic 4:  For today’s religious humor: “The battle between good and evil.”:
funny pictures of cats with captions

Peace and Shabbath shalom.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

A big backlog of stuff

Jerusalem, Dome of the rock, in the background...Image of where I am working towards going via Wikipedia

Jewish date:  8 Tammuz 5770 (Parashath Balaq).

Today’s holidays:  Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Joseph Smith (Church of the SubGenius), Litha - Sommer Solstice (Wicca).

Note:  The big gap in postings is largely due to me attending an ‘Aliyyah Absorption Information Expo last week.  This is also the reason I have not yet written a review of Mort (The Discworld Series, book 4) while having finished reading Sourcery (The Discworld Series, book 5).  Expect the next Discworld review to be for at least two books at the same time.  On this past trip, I have also acquired a copy of the first season of Serughim, an Israeli show which deals with a group of Dathi Le’umi (religous Zionist/Modern Orthodox) singles in Jerusalem.  The point of getting this set of DVDs is to work on my understanding of spoken Hebrew (Israeli radio is too fast for someone unused to rapid Hebrew speech), but there is enough going on religiously in the episodes I have already watched that I expect to eventually be writing episode-by-episode reviews.

Also:  Since I have a huge backlog, expect this post to be very short on commentary.

Topic 1:  Updates on anti-Semitism:  “CBC National Corrects Gaza Infant Mortality Rate Error”, “Gaza Flotilla: The Battle for Public Opinion Continues”, “SUCCESS! - Yahoo Reunites Jerusalem”, “Best Seller”, “Their Problem”, “Bowen: My Critics Are "Enemies of Impartiality"”, “SUCCESS: BBC Apologises for Al-Dura Inaccuracy”, “Israel Bashers Bash the Beeb”, “HRC Rebuts Mayor's Diatribe in Journal de Montreal”, “Guardian Israel Obsession Reaches New Heights: Flotilla Stats”, “When concept trumps reality?”, “Cairo court rules on Egyptians married to Israeli women”, and (in a different vein) “The Never-Ending Lynching of Sholom Rubashkin” and (the very worthwhile read as it exposes some serious hypocrisy) “A modest proposal for solving the kosher slaughter problem”.

Topic 2:  Other Islam-related things going on:  “BP, Kaddafi, and Britain’s Oil Comeuppance”, “Eurological Problem (2007)”, “Turkish Tomorrow?”, “Barcelona will ban use of face-covering Islamic veil in city buildings”, “Deafening silence from Left as Iranians protest”, “Islamic Sharia Law to Be Banned in Oklahoma”, “World Cup 2010: Somali football fans executed for watching matches” (I cannot make this up, and I do not understand it), “Appeal for Afghan Christians, sentenced to death for their faith”, “Target killing count continues to rise”, “Surge for Dutch anti-Islam Freedom Party”, “Ahmadis press for protection”, “Egyptian Couple Shot by Muslim Extremists Undaunted in Ministry”, “The killing of a Christian businessman in Kirkuk rekindles fear among Christians”, “Muslims Order Christians to Leave Village in Pakistan”, “Prisoners convert to Islam for jail perks” (definitely the wrong reason to convert), and “Chain e-mail claims Muslims will be a majority in U.S. in 20 years”.

Topic 3:  For today’s religious humor, which deals with a commonly voiced paranoia:  “Consequences Of Gay Marriage”.  I do not support gay marriage, but this graph gets it right as to what would happen if homosexual marriage were allowed.


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Sunday, June 13, 2010

“Just a theory” does not mean what many people think it does


Jewish date:  1 Tammuz 5770 (Parashath Ḥuqqath).

Today’s holidays:  Ro’sh Ḥodhesh (Judaism), Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Annie Sprinkle (Church of the SubGenius), Feast Day of Ludovicus Rex Bavariae (Thelema).

Worthy causes of the day:  “Tell Boehner: No BP Bailout”, “Take Action: Support ECEA - Hold Big Oil Accountable!”, “A victory for the Clean Air Act... for now.”, “JCRC-NY State Dept Petition:  Urge State Dept to Investigate Flotilla Passengers”, “Make Alzheimer's a National Priority! - The Petition Site”, and “Take Action: Urge your Senators to support the Appalachia Restoration Act | Rainforest Action Network”.

Topic 0:  I have finished Mort (book 4 of the Discworld Series) by Terry Pratchett.  Now I have to get around to writing a review, which is going to be an interesting challenge since I am going to have a busy week…

Topic 1:  Updates on the latest anti-Semitism:  “Yahoo Divides Jerusalem” discusses Yahoo! trying to enforce an artificial distinction between East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem which only exists as part of a jihad tactic.  “Reuters' Double Exposure” discusses propaganda photograph which has little relation to reality.  And then there are two videos:

Your humble blogger also would like to note “Hamas rejects Israel-approved snack foods for Gaza”, which is absurdly petty; these people are very lucky that Israel does not close the border completely and forbid letting anything whatever getting through.

Topic 2:  “Russia Church wants end to Darwin school monopoly”.  The Russian Orthodox Church wants creationism taught in Russian public schools alongside evolution.  Needless to say, this is a bad idea since evolution is correct and creationism is wrong.  Revealing is this rationalization:
"Darwin's theory remains a theory. This means it should be taught to children as one of several theories, but children should know of other theories too."
“Just a theory” is a common misunderstanding often voiced by creationists.  “Theory” colloquially means what “hypothesis” means an explanation, whether or not it has any real support or is particularly coherent.  To scientists, a “theory” is not a mere hypothesis; a “theory” has evidence to back it up, and it is self-consistent.  E.g., the Theory of General Relativity is not a mere hypothesis; it has been backed with multiple lines of evidence and has technological applications, such as GPS.  Likewise the Theory of Evolution, which is also known to be a fact.

Topic 3:  For today’s religious humor: “good solz go to celing cat”:
Humorous Pictures
Peace and happy new month.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Biased cropping and Helen Thomas’s bigotry


Jewish date:  26 Siwan 5770 (Parashath Qoraḥ).

Today’s holidays:  Tuesday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Iggy Pop (Church of the SubGenius).

Topic 1:  More on recent anti-Semitism, dealing with the Mavi Marmara incident:  “Special Analysis: Fauxtography - Reuters Caught Again” deals with the photographic equivalent of quoting out of context:  biased cropping.  “"Go Back to Auschwitz": A Message From the Flotilla” deals with the flotilla’s blatantly anti-Semitic communications to the Israeli Navy and that there were known terrorists on board. Reporter Helen Thomas’s historically ignorant comments that Jews should leave Israel, which resulted in her extremely quick and extremely just firing, are discussed in “Helen Thomas: Israelis "Go Back to Poland"” and “Helen Thomas and Open Season on Israel”.  The latter notes the contemporary context of Jewish anti-Semitism and Jewish tolerance of anti-Semitism.

Topic 2:  Just some reminders that religious persecution is not limited to a single part or even a few parts of this planet:  “RUSSIA: Dagestan's controls on Islamic education” and “Religious leaders launch tirade against Ahmedis”.

Topic 3:  For today’s religious humor: “shun!!1! shun the non believer!”:
This is actually a Charlie the Unicorn reference, but the sentiment does occur in real religious behavior.


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Monday, June 7, 2010

Ṣiṣith, tekheleth, and free speech


Jewish date:  25 Siwan 5770 (Parashath Qoraḥ).

Today’s holidays:  Monday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Edtors’ Day (Church of the SubGenius), Feast Day of Carl Kellner (Thelema).

A set of tzitzit with blue techelet threadImage via Wikipedia
Topic 1:  Another translation error in the King James Version (KJV):  In Numbers 15:37-41 is the commandment of ṣiṣith, which are macramé tassels put on the corners of four-cornered garments.  The people who created the KJV were apparently not familiar with Jewish practice, since they translate ṣiṣith as “fringe” and is under the impression they are supposed to be on the borders of garments, not the corners.  Furthermore, the ṣiṣith are supposed to contain a string dyed with tekheleth, a specific blue dye produced by murex snails.  The KJV, following the Septuagint, translates this as “a ribband of blue”.  The moral of all this:  it pays to know the original language of religious texts.

FYI:  I actually wear ṣiṣith with tekheleth every single day.  The Torah was not given to be ignored.

Topic 2:  “16-yr old "Daniel" confronts lion's den of haters to stand for the honor of Israel”:

This is a video about a protest following the Mavi Marmara incident which I have been kveching about lately.  The student with the Israeli flag going up against a mob of hostile, anti-Semitic protestors has not only got guts, but he has the epistemology right.  The fact that there are more anti-Semites attacking Israel than just him does not make them right, and the fact that they probably want to hurt him does not make them right either.  Furthermore, he has his civil rights right, too.  In the United States there is the civil right of free speech, even to say things no one else agrees with, and this lone pro-Israel protestor is exercising them even in the face of hostility.

Topic 3:  For today’s religious humor at the expense of the Free Gaza Movement: “Top Ten Signs The Cruise You are On is a Flotilla” and “Top 10 Flotilla Dating Profile Headlines”.


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Friday, June 4, 2010

FLOTILLA: We Con the World

The Free Gaza Movement LogoImage of the justly lampooned Free Gaza Movement via Wikipedia

Jewish date:  22 Siwan 5770 (Parashath Naso’).

This is a special edition of Divine Misconceptions.  Harold just forwarded me a video on the Mavi Marmara incident which lampoons the Free Gaza Movement for showing them for what they are.  Behold this video from La’ṭmah:

This video is by its nature very cruel and very deserved.  I strongly encourage everyone to pass it to others in the interests of making it go viral.

Peace and Shabbath shalom.

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If you thought I could let the Mavi Marmara incident drop, forget it


Jewish date:  22 Siwan 5770 (Parashath Shelaḥ).

Today’s holidays:  Friday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Werner Klemperer (Church of the SubGenius).

Worthy causes of the day:  “Support Israel In Gaza Flotilla Incident Petition”, “Take Action: Letter to Vice President Biden | Save Darfur”, “End Corporate Control of Our Food Supply - The Petition Site”.

Topic 1:  Considering the current diplomatic row over Israel actively working to keep the Free Gaza “peace activists” who are actually anti-Semitic jihadists out of Gaza, there is no way I can simply let the Mavi Marmara incident drop.  (I am working on something on Jesus as depicted in the Talmudh, but you will have to wait a while until it is ready.)  Itai Epstein, Director of Amnesty International in Israel, looks like an idiot in “Amnesty: Gaza is Still Under Israeli Occupation” by having his views subjected to logic and having the contradictions therein exposed.  (E.g., if Israel is an occupying power and thus is responsible for the people of Gaza, should they not be obligated to act against the terrorist group Ḥamas?)  “While Israel attacked Flotilla, Hamas raided Gaza NGOs” has a title which speaks for itself about hypocrisy.  “Behind the Headlines: The Israeli humanitarian lifeline to Gaza” discusses how much aid actually reaches Gaza.  “"Suicide Activists on the Gaza Flotilla" (” discusses biased reporting which blatant contradicts evidence.

Wheelchairs as well as weapons found on board aid ships” discusses what was found on the Mavi Marmara.  “An Assault on Israel, Cloaked in Peace -” discusses the incident in terms of what the evidence shows and in terms of jihad.

I pray that Binyamin Nethanyahu not cave in to international pressure and stop any further alleged “peace activist” ships from reaching Gaza.

Topic 2:  “Jews worldwide share genetic ties”.  If you wondered, the idea that Eastern European Jews are mostly descended from the Khazars is dead.

Topic 3:  For today’s religious humor:  the Faustian “Basement Cat’s Minion traded his soul”:
funny pictures of cats with captions



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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why should anyone hate terrorists committing an act of war?


Jewish date:  20 Siwan 5770 (Parashath Shelaḥ).

Today’s holidays:  Feast Day of Marcellinus and Peter (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Marquis de Sade/Yell “Fudge” at North American Cobras Day (Church of the SubGenius).

Worthy cause of the day:  “Take Action: Tell Your U.S. Senators: Senate Leadership Must Act!

The naval ensign of IsraelImage of the naval ensign of the good guys via Wikipedia
Topic 1:  By now you have almost certainly heard of the “peace activists” (a euphemism if there ever was one) who tried breaking the Israel naval blockade of Gaza, were consequently boarded, attacked Israeli soldiers with life-threatening force, and thus the Israelis to save their own lives killed nine or ten of the “activists”.  Anti-Semites are having a field day, because by ignoring such basic facts as the people of Gaza voted a terrorist organization hell-bent on destroying Israel into power (thus making supporting Gaza at all very morally questionable in many moral systems) and that one does not need sophisticated weapons to kill (something which chimpanzees know and take advantage of), they can spin tales of what rotten people the Israelis allegedly are.  “Special Alert: Flotilla Battle Unleashes Anti-Israel Wave” discusses what really happened on that ship, including aspirations to Islamic martyrdom.  Rav Shmuley Boteach discusses the anti-Semitic hypocrisy in “The Provocative ‘Peace’ Flotilla that Ended in Tragedy”.  “Liveblogging the Free Gaza Media War” and “Liveblogging the Free Gaza Media War: June 2” discuss coverage of the media fallout as it occurs; I strongly recommend the latter, as it contains revealing cartoons and video.  One of the cartoons, the one by Michael Ramirez, was also independently sent to me by Harold.

Topic 2:  More religious oppression:  “TURKMENISTAN: Jailed conscientious objectors punished again”. “RUSSIA: Dagestan's controls on Islamic literature”, and “RUSSIA: Dagestan's Sufi monopoly”.

Topic 3:  For today’s religious humor:  “Lucifer cat”:
Humorous Pictures


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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Humanism is now officially a religion!


Jewish date:  19 Siwan 5770 (Parashath Shelaḥ).

Today’s holidays:  Feast Day of Justin (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Daniel Boone (Church of the SubGenius).

Worthy causes of the day:  “Too extreme even for FOX.”, “Take Action: Take action for human rights!”, “Demand transparency in Wall Street reform negotiations.”, “Working Families » Take Action!”, “PETITION TO CONGRESS: Save Net Neutrality! | Progressive Change Campaign Committee”, “Repower America | Tell BP: Spill the Truth!”, and “Tell EPA: Take away BP's billions in federal contracts”.

Pardon me if this seems abbreviated, but Blogger malfunctioned, and I had to redo a lot of this.

Topic 1:  “Humanists join Hertfordshire Police chaplaincy team”.  Humanism is now effectively a religion, at least in the United Kingdom.  Non-religions do not have chaplains.

Topic 2:  More religious persecution:  “Egyptian Convert Endures Life at a Standstill – on the Run”, “Muslim Youths in Nigeria Destroy Church Buildings, Pastor’s Home”, “Second Wave of Deportations Hits Foreign Christians in Morocco”, and “Nigeria: 6 dead in religion-fueled violence in Jos”.  So much for Islam being the “religion of peace”.

Topic 3:  “How Islamists Came to Dominate European Islam” discusses how Europe and the USA got into the habit of trying to ally themselves to Islamists.  Needless to say, this approach has never worked.

Topic 4:  For today’s religious humor: “DEMON KITTEN FOUNDZ GAITWAY 2 NETHERWURLDZ”:
I had no idea the netherworld could be reached through a hole in a dashboard…


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