Friday, February 27, 2009

3 ’Adhar 5769: International Polar Bear Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Don't let the Pentagon whitewash the abuses at Guantánamo”, “Health care THIS YEAR”, and “Speak Out for Polar Bears and Other Imperiled Wildlife”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. More violation of freedom of religion: “RUSSIA: Governor orders church land grab” and “SERBIA: Religious freedom survey, February 2009”
  2. Richard Williamson tries to get out of his sticky situation, but fails: “Vatican: Bishop's apology for Holocaust denial not enough”. His problem is that he only apologized for causing distress but never recanted his Holocaust denial.
Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is the parody(?) One Velociraptor per Child (OVPC), a low-cost, connected velociraptor for the world's children's survival. Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

2 ’Adhar 5769: For Pete’s Sake Day/National Pistachio Day


Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. More governmental problems with freedom of religion: “Russian court upholds deportation of Chabad rabbi | Jewish News”, “Government blocks rebuilding of church in Orissa”, and “Shiite pilgrims clash with Saudi police in Medina”.
  2. Freedom of religion upheld despite governmental interference: “Malaysian government defeated by history: Christians have used the word 'Allah' for centuries”.
  3. Separation of church and state upheld: “High Court Rejects Religious Sect's Claim”.
Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is “The directed graph of stereotypical incomprehensibility”. It must be noted that all the languages which I speak or am working on now (English, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) are stereotypically considered incomprehensible according to speakers of other languages. Latin and Arabic, which are candidates for me to work on after I get Greek down, also make appearances. I must be a stickler for punishment... Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

1 ’Adhar 5769: Ro’sh Ḥodhesh/Ash Wednesday


Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. Things keep looking down for Richard Williamson: “Nazi row bishop leaves Argentina”. Argentina threw him out. Now maybe the Pope will get around to excommunicating him again...
  2. Another country decides to violate freedom of religion using pathetic legal excuses: “AZERBAIJAN: Literature censorship for export also?”
Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is The Gallery of Exploding Servers. Enjoy, share the weirdness, and happy new month.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

28 Shevaṭ 5769: Thinking Day/George Washington’s Birthday/Shrovetide


Worthy causes of the day: “Prescription for Change: Reform Health Care” and “Stop roads from ripping through prized forest land!”

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. Do you think the intersynagogue politics where you live are bad?  At worst, people at different synagogues will probably just hate each other and not speak to each other.  ‘Eruvin 60a notes that the people of Gedher (near the Kinnereth) hated the people of nearby town of Ḥammethan so much that they would come to violence, especially when drunk.  The situation today, bad as it is today in some places, is much preferable.
  2. More countries fail basic freedom of religion: “Evangelical church leaders detained in China” and “MALDIVES: Reform excludes freedom of religion or belief”.
  3. “Students 'do not know the Bible'”: This is a major problem, the focus of Stephen Prothero’s excellent book Religious Literacy. Ignorance of the basics of religion, regardless of what one believes, makes it difficult to discuss the topic meaningfully and understand those who know something about religion. (People in this situation may wish to start here.)
Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing, submitted by Barry, is “No nukes?”:
mahmoud ahmadinejad
Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

25 Shevaṭ 5769: Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day


Worthy cause of the day: “Save Sea Turtles from Reckless Fishing Practices”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:  “Anti-abortion measure says fertilized egg is human”: The title of the article gets it wrong. Nobody with any sense denies that a fertilized egg produced by a human man and woman is human and unless it dies or is destroyed, it is alive. The House in North Dakota has approved a bill proclaiming that a human fertilized egg has all the rights of a full-fledged human. Needless to say, this creates some very sticky legal problems, is in conflict with the legal right to an abortion, and (as previously noted) is in conflict with the Hebrew Bible.

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is “The Agreeable Cat”, which is the most creative way so far I have heard of dealing with end-user license agreements. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

24 Shevaṭ 5769: National Battery Day/Pluto Day


Worthy causes of the day: “President Obama: Who Will Go to the Congo?” and “There Is A Cost To Doing Nothing”.

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is “James Bond-style jetpack powered by high-pressure water invented”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Monday, February 16, 2009

22 Shevaṭ 5769: Presidents Day


Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “Afghan court upholds sentences in Quran translation trial”: This will come off as rather extreme to most Westerners, though there is some logic to it. The offense in question is publication of a translation of the Qur’an into an Afghan language without also giving the original Arabic text as well. Every translation is an interpretation (unless produced by a computer, in which case it is a blind approximation), and an interpretation can be wrong. Indeed, since no two languages model the world in quite the same way, every translation is off, if only by a little. In the case of the Qur’an, which is about 1,400 years old, scholars claim it is not always clear anymore what Muḥammad meant. As such, a translation stands the risk of projecting meanings on the Qur’an which arguably are not present in the original text. Thus there is reason to be displeased with a translation, especially without the original text to compare with it. Do note, though, the fact that anyone needs a translation in Afghanistan indicates they are doing an inadequate job of teaching Qur’anic Arabic so that Muslims can read the Qur’an in the original language, thus saving them an unnecessary layer of interpretation.
  2. More religious intolerance: “Iran accuses Bahais of having ties with Israel”.
Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is something amusing which Emily sent to me, “Judas Asparagus”, included below. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Judas Asparagus
If you need a laugh today, then  this should do it! 
A child was asked to write a book report on the entire Bible. 
This is amazing and brought tears of laughter to my eyes. 
I wonder how often we take for granted that children understand  what we are teaching???
Through the eyes of a child:
The Children’s Bible in a Nutshell
In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas.  The Bible says, ‘The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that. 
Anyway, God said, ‘Give me a light!’ and someone did. 
Then God made the world.
He split the Adam and made Eve.  Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren’t embarrassed because mirrors hadn’t been invented yet. 
Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden.....Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn’t have cars.
Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.
Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.
One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham.  Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.
 After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast.  Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.
Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston.  Moses led the Israel Lights out of  Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh’s people.  These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable.

God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti.  Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don’t lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor’s stuff.
Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.
One of Moses’ best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies.  Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.
After Joshua came David.  He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot.  He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines.  My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn’t sound very wise to me.
After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets.  One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore. 
There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don’t have to worry about them.
After the Old Testament came the New Testament.  Jesus is the star of The New.  He was born  in  Bethlehem  in a barn.  (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, ‘Close the door! Were you born in a barn?’ It would be nice to say, ‘As a matter of fact, I was.’)
During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats.
Jesus also had twelve opossums.
The worst one was Judas Asparagus.  Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.
Jesus was a great man.  He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.
But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot.  Pilot didn’t stick up for Jesus.  He just washed his hands instead.
Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again.  He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum..  His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.
-------You must share this delightful story! --------

Sunday, February 15, 2009

21 Shevaṭ 5769: Susan B. Anthony Day


Worthy cause of the day: “Help Prevent a Non-native Wildlife Invasion!”

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “When cops are..”.
song chart meme graph
(Aren’t Venn diagrams fun?) Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

18 Shevaṭ 5769: Darwin Day/Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday


Worthy cause of the day: “Support a Truth & Reconciliation Commission”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. More violations of freedom of religion: “UZBEKISTAN: Unregistered Hare Krishna devotees and Protestants raided”, “BELARUS: Danes deported for praying in church”, “British Ban Dutch Lawmaker Over Anti-Islam Film”, “ARMENIA: Two years' imprisonment for organising sharing of faith?”
  2. “Tenn. church shooter pleads guilty, gets life”: The logic the shooter used to rationalize attacking people at a Unitarian church is rather bizarre, as it is written:
    "This was a hate crime," Adkisson wrote in the four-page suicide letter obtained by The Knoxville News Sentinel. "This was a symbolic killing. Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the House and Senate ... (and) everyone in the mainstream media. But these people were inaccessible to me.

    "I couldn't get to the generals and high-ranking officers of the Marxist movement so I went after the foot soldiers, the chicken (expletive) liberals that vote in these traitorous people."
    The premise that Democrats and the mainstream media are all Marxists and traitors is obviously delusional or at least based on very bad data. Notice that nowhere in the article is any real justification for killing anyone. The shooter was angry and decided to take out his frustrations on people he blamed for his troubles. Ironically, the shooter labeled his victims “un-American”, but what he did was disrespectful of freedom of belief, illegal, and immoral, i.e., very much against American ideals.
  3. “Arrests for Ugandan ritual murder”: Another example of why one always needs to be sure in advance that one’s premises are correct before doing anything irreversible and the danger of belief in witchcraft.
  4. “Holocaust denial is the least of it”: This is another take on the William Robinson scandal.
  5. “With political discrimination in the wake of pogroms, Orissa Christians cannot vote”: India has its own problems of religious intolerance.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “Steampunk Cake!” Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

17 Shevaṭ 5769: Be Electrific Day/National Inventor’s Day/Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Obama's pick for health care”, “Congress: Help Keep Families in Their Homes”, and “Sign the ACLU's Petition to Shut Down Guantanamo Bay”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “Catherine Martin Forges Ahead”: Muslims have to obey the rules of this country, just like everyone else.
  2. “Prayer proposal placed on school board agenda”: While I am all for prayer, is not having the school board pray together officially as a group a violation of the separation of church and state?
  3. The panel I participated in for “2009 Darwin Week in Charleston” was last night. My freshly-written review of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed appears below in lieu of a weird thing.
Today’s news and commentary:
And now, my review of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Enjoy (or be appalled at the movie) and share the weirdness.


No honesty allowed: a review of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
by Aaron Solomon Adelman
based on his notes for use in the panel examining this movie for Darwin Week 2009 at the College of Charleston

Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is the worst film to ever be passed off as a documentary which this commentator has ever seen. Given his strong belief in evolution, many might attribute this disgust for Expelled to the fact that it promotes creationism under the pseudonym of “intelligent design”. Far from it, actually. Being a creationist merely entails being wrong, and being wrong is neither a sin nor a crime. In fact, even if creationism were correct, Expelled would still be highly odious, and that is because of the overall strategy used to argue for creationism. The pattern contained in the list of offenses should be easily discerned by almost anyone.

NOTE: Due to a self-imposed deadline, not every offense is explored or referenced as completely as it might be, especially those concerning biology. See the bibliography for other reviews.
  • The form of the film is propaganda. A good film would stick to the facts and examine the arguments. In Expelled, there is much extraneous content, especially in the form of old footage presented in black and white, which serves no purpose but to dictate the mood. Stein also feels free to ridicule his opponents. (Shermer; Rennie; Rennie and Mirsky; Mirsky).
  • Intelligent design is portrayed as a freedom issue, with Stein championing the the right of academics to believe in, advocate, and do research based on intelligent design and the right of reporter to report on intelligent design positively. He completely ignores that freedom of speech does not mean that anything goes and that being free to say something does not make it actually correct (Rennie; Expelled Exposed: Why Expelled Flunks). In reality, there are always consequences. Freedom of speech works both ways: when one exercises freedom of speech, what one says may legitimately be subject to criticism, as everyone who hears also is equally entitled to free speech. Furthermore, while a political or legal right to free speech may exist, no one is under any obligation to believe what someone else says, to aid that person in their quest to communicate their ideas, or to treat them favorably afterwards. E.g., someone might step up on a soapbox and invoke free speech to advocate killing all the whales, but no one has to like such a person or give him/her a job afterwards, and the whale-hater is not exempt from protest from nature-lovers.
  • Stein presents several claims of persecution of those who support intelligent design. These are all irrelevant to the case of whether intelligent design is actually correct. Furthermore, the stories of all the “bad boys” have been debunked (Shermer; Rennie; Rennie and Mirsky; Expelled Exposed: Why Expelled Flunks).
  • Stein lies about evolutionists, portraying them all as contemptible people (Rennie; Expelled Exposed: Why Expelled Flunks). This is highly unlikely for any group not defined morally.
  • Stein lies about about the alleged controversy about evolution (Expelled Exposed: Why Expelled Flunks). Every competent scientist knows that the controversy does not exist in the scientific community, something which scientists interviewed in the film note. The controversy is actually a convenient fiction invented by creationists.
  • Stein lies about the nature of intelligent design, including falsely claiming that intelligent design is not religious, is not thinly disguised creationism, and is science. This is despite Stein maintaining an overall religious tone of a paranoid variety (Rennie).
  • Stein lies about and misunderstands evolution (Rennie; Expelled Exposed: Why Expelled Flunks).
  • Stein lies about and misunderstands how science works. He pushes the notion that science is inherently atheistic and that scientists are engaged in a huge conspiracy in which all must adhere to a party line or face severe consequences. (Shermer; Rennie and Mirsky; Expelled Exposed: Why Expelled Flunks)
  • Stein falsely equates evolution and atheism, pushing Richard Dawkins and his militant atheism movement as representative of science over Eugenie C. Scott and the belief that religion and science are compatible, bringing nothing in the way of proof for disregarding the latter. Stein denies that there are religious evolutionists, despite what Eugenie C. Scott tells him (Shermer; Rennie; Rennie and Mirsky; Expelled Exposed: Why Expelled Flunks). (A list of material on compatibility between science and religion can be found in Appendix 1.) Stein papers over this discrepancy very badly. When one creationist interviewee is confronted with the fact that Catholics and liberal Protestants accept evolution as a legitimate belief, he claims the reason for this is “they’ll side with anyone against the Fundamentalists”, essentially claiming that Catholicism and liberal Protestantism are not “real” religions. Stein makes the dubious claim that evolution leads to atheism, no belief in an afterlife, no belief in free will, and no meaning of life; the fact that one or a few may have gone down such a path says next to nothing about the scientific community in general. Stein advocates a false dichotomy with atheism, evolution, eugenics, dehumanization, Nazism, communism, and evil on one side and religion, intelligent design, morality, freedom, American values, science, and good on the other. (Expelled Exposed: Why Expelled Flunks)
  • Stein repeatedly misunderstands and distorts what scientists interviewed are claiming.
  • Stein uses four intelligent design philosophers as sources for purportedly accurate information on evolution. (Keep in mind that philosophy and science have effectively parted company. Not to mention philosophers commenting on science are working outside their own field.)
  • Stein attacks science proponents over fighting intelligent design in the courts, conveniently ignoring that intelligent design proponents have been acting illegally in such a way that science proponents have needed to resort to lawsuits.
  • Stein makes the false claim that Mein Kampf (Hitler) and Nazism are based on Darwin, with the false implication that Darwin is responsible for the Holocaust (Shermer; Rennie; Expelled Exposed: Why Expelled Flunks). This should be obviously wrong to anyone who has read both Mein Kampf and Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (Darwin, On the Origin of Species) and The Descent of Man (Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex). Hitler lays out material of a “Social Darwinist” nature in chapters 4, 10, and 11 of volume 1 and chapter 2 of volume 2 of Mein Kampf. For him, race is all-important and determines everything about the individual. He believes that humanity is divided into a number of distinct races which can be linearly ranked, and that any hybridization between races creates offspring of an intermediate character and inevitably leads to disaster. Hitler draws moral consequences from these supposed facts, insisting on race purity, no matter what the dictates of Christianity or any other religion are. In such a system, the best humanity can hope for is a constant struggle to avoid all humanity ending up as one mid-level race; there is no hope that humanity can ever end up better than the best that are alive now. This system cannot explain how the highest race (assumed to be Germans/Aryans) and the lowest race (assumed to be the Jews) could come into existence, as they could not have been created through hybridization. In fact, there is nothing in this system which could explain speciation. Darwin, on the other hand, has no concept of race or of ranking beings linearly. For him, the individual—or rather the range of variations between individuals is everything. Variation, combined with natural and sexual selection, is what drives the engine of evolution. This mechanism allows for change other than regression to the mean; new species may arise, and future generations make be better endowed than those alive now. Darwin also draws no moral conclusions from evolution; evolution for him is a description of how nature works, not a prescription of how we should live. It takes a huge stretch of the imagination to derive Hitler’s views from Darwin’s. What makes it even more incredible is that Mein Kampf makes a grand total of zero mentions of Darwin and zero mentions of evolution. Completely ignored is the long history of anti-Semitism which preceded the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859—incidents Darwin could not possibly be responsible for. In Appendix 2 the reader will find a very long list of such incidents; it could have been even longer, but it was largely limited to ones listed with specific dates. Anyone who knows anything about Jewish history knows that Christian Europe has a very long history of anti-Semitism, one which it is only now trying to come to terms with. The Holocaust really only differs from preceding anti-Semitic incidents in scale, not substance. Trying to pin the blame on Darwin when there are so many other clearer precedents makes no sense.
  • Stein takes material out of context. Many clips of those being interviewed taken in isolation might well be taken to mean something rather different than what Stein would have us believe they mean. Furthermore, Stein deceptively quotes Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man (Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, chapter V). The part Stein quotes:
    With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.
    The part Stein does not quote:
    The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature.
    By simple omission the meaning of the quote is morally inverted (Rennie and Mirsky; Mirsky)
  • Stein obtained some of his interviews via deception (Shermer; Rennie and Mirsky).
  • Stein used other people’s material without permission (Expelled Producers Accused of Copyright Infringement, ; Stein et al.).
In short, Expelled is filled with lies and half-truths, and lying and theft was used to create it. This is obviously intellectually improper; an argument based on a lie is worthless. Stein is also at risk of being sued for slander and copyright violation. But what is truly shocking is that Stein committed blatant transgressions of basic moral laws in Judaism, his professed religion, especially the prohibitions of moṣi’ shem ra‘ (lying) and lashon hara‘ (saying the truth in such a way as it can be interpreted wrongly, e.g., quoting out of context). The author of this review is under the impression that much of what Stein has done is generally regarded as morally offensive among non-Jews, too. If Darwin and evolution are so terrible, why does Stein not build a case on the facts? Why does he have to resort to dirty rhetorical tricks to make a case? If Stein cannot make a fair case for his accusations, why should anyone believe them at all?

Overall classification: Provocative pseudo-documentary.

Theological rating: F

Appendix 1: Resources on compatibility between science and religion:
  • Expelled Exposed (Expelled Exposed: Why Expelled Flunks), which also covers all manner of things wrong with Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
  • Finding Darwin’s God (Miller)
  • Hertz’s Ḥummash (Hertz 194-95)
  • Not in Our Classrooms (Scott and Branch)
  • Science, Evolution, and Creationism ( 29-32)
  • The Clergy Letter Project (The Clergy Letter Project)

Appendix 2: Anti-Semitism before On the Origin of Species (Darwin, On the Origin of Species ):

  • Egypt (see Exodus)
  • ‘Amaleq (see Exodus)
  • Bashan and Midhyan (see Deuteronomy)
  • Philistines (see Judges and Samuel)
  • Destruction of the First Temple and the Babylonian Exile (see Kings and Chronicles)
  • Zoroastrians (see Esther)
  • Syrian Greeks (see Maccabees)
  • New Testament (Carroll)
  • 70: Destruction of the Second Temple (Ben-Sasson 303)
  • 135-138: Hadrianic persecutions (Ben-Sasson 335)
  • 455-485: Persecution of Jews in Persia under the reign of Yazdigar III and Piruz (Ben-Sasson 380)
  • 470: Jewish scholars in Persia, including Huna’ bar Mar Zuṭra’, imprisoned and executed (Ben-Sasson 380)
  • 502: R. Ḥaninah and Mar Zuṭra’ crucified in Maḥoza’, Babylon (Ben-Sasson 380)
  • 610-632: Qur’an (Warraq 214-18, 28-29)
  • 627: Massacre of the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza by Muḥammad (Warraq 78, 217)
  • 628: Reduction of the Jews of Khaybar to dhimmitude by Muḥammad (Warraq 217)
  • 629: Byzantine emperor Heraclius orders expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem (Ben-Sasson 363)
  • 640: Expulsion of Jews and Christians from the Hijaz by Umar (Warraq 217)
  • 643: Amr conquers Tripoli and enslaves all Jewish and Christian women and children (Warraq 231)
  • 717-720: The Pact of Umar (Warraq 230)
  • 930: Anti-Semitic attacks, murders, and forced conversions in Otranto, Italy (Ben-Sasson 412)
  • 1007: Persecutions of Jews in France (Ben-Sasson 412)
  • c. 1008: Al-Ḥakim B’amr Allah, Fatimid caliph of Egypt, imposes humiliating laws upon Jews (Ben-Sasson 406)
  • 1010: Hundreds of Jews in Spain massacred (Warraq 228)
  • 1012: Expulsion of Jews from Mainz (Ben-Sasson 412)
  • 1013: Hundreds of Jews in Spain massacred (Warraq 228)
  • 1016: Jews expelled from Kairouan, Tunisia (Warraq 228)
  • 1033: ≥ 6,000 Jews in Fez, Morocco massacred (Warraq 228)
  • 1066: Anti-Semitic riots in Granada (Ben-Sasson 405; Warraq 228, 36)
  • 1096: First Crusade massacres (Ben-Sasson 413-14)
  • 1099: Massacre of the Jews of Jerusalem by the Crusaders (Ben-Sasson 414)
  • 1145: Jews forced to convert to Islam or leave Tunis (Warraq 228)
  • 1165: Jews of Yemen forced to choose between conversion to Islam and death (Warraq 227)
  • 1171: Martyrs in Blois, France burnt at the stake (Ben-Sasson 420)
  • 1178: Jews of Yemen forced to choose between conversion to Islam and death (Warraq 227)
  • 1190: Anti-semitic riots in York, England (Ben-Sasson 420)
  • 1198: Jews of Yemen forced to choose between conversion to Islam and death (Warraq 227)
  • 1232: Massacre of the Jews of Marrakesh (Warraq 228)
  • 1235: Blood libel in Fulda (Ben-Sasson 482)
  • 1243: First recorded libel of a Jew desecrating a host (Ben-Sasson 483)
  • 1250: Charge of ritual murder in Saragossa, Spain (Ben-Sasson 488)
  • 1255: Blood libel in Lincoln (Ben-Sasson 482)
  • 1286: Blood libel in Munich (Ben-Sasson 482)
  • 1288-1294: Devastation of the Jewish communities of southern Italy (Ben-Sasson 465)
  • 1290: Expulsion of the Jews from England (Ben-Sasson 475)
  • 1290-1293: Devastation of the Jewish communities of Napels (Ben-Sasson 465)
  • 1291: Jews of Tabriz forced to convert to Islam (Warraq 227)
  • 1298: Host desecration libel in Roettigen (Ben-Sasson 486)
  • 1298-1348: Anti-Semitic libels, false charges, riots, and massacres throughout Germany (Ben-Sasson 486)
  • 1306: Expulsion of Jews in France (Ben-Sasson 465)
  • 1318: Jews of Tabriz forced to convert to Islam (Warraq 227)
  • 1333: Jews of Baghdad forced to convert to Islam (Warraq 227)
  • 1344: Jews of Baghdad forced to convert to Islam (Warraq 227)
  • 1348-1349: Anti-Semitic massacres due to blaming the Black Death on the Jews (Ben-Sasson 465)
  • 1387: The Canterbury Tales, including The Prioress’ Tale, which is about a blood libel (Ben-Sasson 482-83)
  • 1391: Anti-Semitic riots in Spain (Ben-Sasson 569)
  • 1407: Anti-Semitic riots in Poland (Ben-Sasson 580)
  • 1412: King John II of Spain orders ghettoization of Jews and Muslims (Ben-Sasson 584-85)
  • 1453: Ritual murder libel in Breslau (Ben-Sasson 580)
  • 1475: Ritual murder libel in Trent (Ben-Sasson 580)
  • 1491: “The Holy Child of La Guardia” blood- and host-desecration-libel (Ben-Sasson 590)
  • 1492: Expulsion of the Jews from Spain (Ben-Sasson 570)
  • 1494: Anti-Semitic riots in Cracow (Ben-Sasson 581)
  • 1495: Expulsion of Jews from Lithuania (Ben-Sasson 582-83)
  • 1497: Forced conversion of Jews in Portugal (Ben-Sasson 631)
  • 1498: Expulsion of Jews from Nuremberg, Germany (Ben-Sasson 576)
  • 1516: Ghettoization of the Jews of Venice (Ben-Sasson 639)
  • 1519: Expulsion of Jews from Regensburg (Ben-Sasson 578)
  • 1543: Publication of On the Jews and Their Lies by Martin Luther, with proto-Nazi content (Ben-Sasson 650)
  • 1555-1556: Anti-Semitic persecutions in Italy by Pope Paul IV (Ben-Sasson 657, 67-69)
  • 1617: Jews of Persia persecuted and forcibly converted to Islam (Warraq 227)
  • 1622: Jews of Persia persecuted and forcibly converted to Islam (Warraq 227)
  • 1648-1649: Massacres of 1948-1649 at the time of the Cossack Revolt in Poland (Ben-Sasson 656-57)
  • 1653-1666: Jews of Persia forcibly converted to Islam by Shah Abbas II (Warraq 227)
  • 1670: Expulsion of Jews from Vienna (Ben-Sasson 755)
  • 1700: Publication of the anti-Semitic book Judaism Exposed by Johann Eisenmenger
  • 1734: Haidamak Cossacks capture several small eastern Polish towns and murder and rob Jews and Poles
  • 1740s-1750s: Nearly annual anti-Semitic riots in eastern Poland (Ben-Sasson 752)
  • 1744-1745: Expulsion of Jews from Prague (Ben-Sasson 755)
  • 1750: Haidamak Cossacks capture several small eastern Polish towns and murder and rob Jews and Poles
  • 1768: Thousands of Jews killed by marauding Haidamak Cossacks in eastern Poland
  • 1770-1786: Expulsion of Jews from Jedda (Warraq 237)
  • 1790: Jews of Tetuan, Morocco massacred (Warraq 237)
  • 1807: Attempted expulsion of Jews from outside of the Pale of Settlement in Russia (Ben-Sasson 758)
  • 1808: Napoleon’s “Infamous Decree”, interfering with Jewish communities and religion (Ben-Sasson 762)
  • 1815: Publication of the anti-Semitic pamphlet The Mirror of the Jews (Ben-Sasson 804)
  • 1819: Anti-Semitic riots in Germany (Ben-Sasson 804)
  • 1828: Jews of Baghdad massacred (Warraq 237)
  • 1833: Publication of the anti-Semitic book On the Attitude of the Jews Toward the Christian States (Ben-Sasson 805)
  • 1834: Attacks on the Jews of Safed (Warraq 237)
  • 1839: Jews of Persia suffer forced conversions to Islam and massacres (Warraq 227, 37)
  • 1840: Damascus blood libel (Ben-Sasson 847; Warraq 237)
  • 1843: Publication of the anti-Semitic book On the Jewish Question by Bruno Bauer (Ben-Sasson 806)
  • 1845: Publication of the anti-Semitic book The Jews, Monarchs of the Age (Ben-Sasson 872)
  • 1847: Publication of the anti-Semitic book The Attitude of the Christian State Towards Deism and Judaism (Ben-Sasson 805)

  • Ben-Sasson, H. H., ed. A History of the Jewish People. Tel Aviv: Dvir Publishing House, 1969. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Univerisity Press, 1976.
  • Carroll, James. Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews: A History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
  • The Clergy Letter Project. Available: 2009-02-03.
  • Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. 2nd. 1874. Available: 2009-02-03.
  • ---. On the Origin of Species. 6th. 1859. Available:
  • Expelled Exposed: Why Expelled Flunks. 2008. National Center for Science Education. Available: 2009-02-03.
  • Expelled Producers Accused of Copyright Infringement. 2008. Available: 2008-04-10.
  • Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. 2008. DVD. Logan Craft, et al., 2008-04-10.
  • Hertz, J. H., ed. The Pentateuch and Haftorahs: Hebrew Text, English Translation and Commentary. London: Defus d'universitah Oxford, 1929-1936. 2nd ed. London: Soncino Press, 1961.
  • Hitler, Adolph. Mein Kampf. 1933. Available: 2007-04-01.
  • Medicine, National Academy of Sciences and Institute of. Science, Evolution, and Creationism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2008.
  • Miller, Kenneth R. Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution. New York: Cliff Street Books, 1999. Perennial ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
  • Mirsky, Steve. Never You Mine: Ben Stein's Selective Quoting of Darwin. 2008. Available: 2008-04-18.
  • Rennie, John. Ben Stein's Expelled: No Integrity Displayed. 2008. Available: 2008-04-10.
  • Rennie, John, and Steve Mirsky. Six Things in Expelled That Ben Stein Doesn't Want You to Know... 2008. Available: 2008-04-16.
  • Scott, Eugenie C., and Glenn Branch, eds. Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools. 1st ed. Boston: Beacon Press, 2006.
  • Shermer, Michael. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed--Ben Stein Launches a Science-Free Attack on Darwin. 2008. Available: 2008-04-10.
  • Stein, Lisa, et al. News Bytes of the Week--Imagine There's No Evolution: Yoko Says Oh No to Expelled. 2008. Available: 2008-06-08.
  • Warraq, Ibn. Why I Am Not a Muslim. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

16 Shevaṭ 5769: Umbrella Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Tell EPA: Act Now on Global Warming Pollution”, “”, “Tell the Obama Administration to maintain protections for gray wolves”, and “This is Your Last Chance: Tell Your Representative to Support the Omnibus Public Land Management Act”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. Today is when I participate in 2009 Darwin Week in Charleston. I can be heckled at 7:00 in the Physician’s Auditorium at the College of Charleston when I participate in a panel discussing Ben Stein’s creationist pseudo-documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Everyone is welcome to attend. I plan to turn my notes on Expelled into a proper review tomorrow. In the meantime, I recommend PBS’s “Intelligent Design on Trial”.
  2. More countries embarrass themselves on the religious freedom front: “KAZAKHSTAN: Media intolerance 'has one source: the KNB secret police'” and “Saudi Arabia says only mosques allowed”.
  3. “Foster mother struck off for letting Muslim girl convert to Christianity”: I am shocked this happened in the United Kingdom. Does anyone really think a 16-year-old is incapable of deciding what religion she wants to believe in and practice? Does anyone really think anyone can be forced to believe in one religion and not believe in another? What business of the government is it deciding these matters? And why should the foster parent in this case be penalized at all?
  4. More on the Richard Williamson scandal: “Argentine seminary ousts Williamson as its leader”, “Holocaust-denying bishop loses court battle”, and “The pope must condemn the Jew-haters in the Church”.
  5. An interesting approach: “A monk's life... but just until Monday”.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “CNN”.
funny pictures of cats with captions
Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Monday, February 9, 2009

15 Shevaṭ 5769: Jewish New Year for Trees/Read in the Bathtub Day/Toothache Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Support Stem Cell Research and Help Kids”, “Limit Salaries at All Banks Taking Taxpayer Dollars”, and “Extend the Statute Of Limitations on Bush and Cheney's Wiretapping and War Crimes”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. Things seem to be getting worse for Richard Williamson: “Holocaust-denying bishop Richard Williamson removed from seminary post”. The Vatican has been under pressure to distance itself from Williamson’s Holocaust-denying views, and now Williamson is under pressure to recant.
  2. Self-promotion: 2009 Darwin Week in Charleston | February 08-15. We are only one day away from the panel dealing with Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, submitted by Emily, is “All Dogs Go to Heaven”. Yes, it’s a hoax wandering the Internet, but the exchange is amusing. Enjoy, share the weirdness, and happy new year.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

11 Shevaṭ 5769: Weatherman’s Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Bring Gilad Shalit Home” and “Urge the Obama Administration to Protect Whales from Bush's Final Salvo”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. More countries receive failing grades when it comes to freedom of religion: “KAZAKHSTAN: 'This is a highly dangerous precedent'”,“Anti-conversion bill: minorities fear restrictions on religious freedom”, and “Indonesia: Sharia-Based Laws Creep Into Half Of Provinces”.
  2. “Animal advocacy group's peace plan: 'Give Peas a Chance'”: This is about trying to promote peace between the “Palestinians” and Israel through promoting less violence towards animals. Frankly I would like to see some (or any) research indicating that consumption of meat causes violence towards humans. I suppose one could make an argument that people who kill their own meat might be desensitized towards violence, but does not apply to most of us.
  3. “Call for pope to step down over Holocaust denier” and “Vatican Demands Holocaust Denier Publicly Recant”: Pope Benedict XVI keeps getting deeper in trouble and starts to crumble on Richard Williamson.
  4. “Congo children branded as witches, abducted: U.N.”: Labeling someone as a witch does not make it so. One needs evidence!
  5. 2009 Darwin Week in Charleston | February 08-15: Be there on the 10th and give me every reason to think what I am saying is wrong!
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “Parental IQ versus Child’s Age”.
song chart memes
I remember something about Samuel Clemens saying something very akin to this. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

10 Shevaṭ 5769: World Cancer Day/International Dadaism Month/National Girls and Women In Sports Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Urge Gov. Perdue to Support Clemency for Troy Davis” and “Economic Recovery Package- Solar Stimulus”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “Nurse suspended for prayer offer”: Thus is it written:
    A Christian nurse from Weston-super-Mare has been suspended for offering to pray for a patient's recovery.

    Community nurse Caroline Petrie, 45, says she asked an elderly woman patient during a home visit if she wanted her to say a prayer for her.

    The patient complained to the health trust about Mrs Petrie who follows the Baptist faith.

    She was suspended, without pay, on 17 December and will find out the outcome of her disciplinary meeting next week.
    I have trouble understanding what the complaint is about in the first place. Firstly, if someone offers to pray for you to get well, it is a sign they he/she cares about you and wants to do something extra to help. This is doubly so when the person is already doing what he/she can physically to make you feel better. At the very least, praying for someone can help make him/her feel cared for and thus make him/her feel better. Secondly, the nurse dropped the matter when the patient refused, thus eliminating any concern of lack of respect for the patient’s personal feelings or beliefs. Thirdly, reportedly the patient claimed not to be offended but was concerned that others might be. Now, given the lack of anyone actually being offended, what is the fuss about in the first place?
  2. Self-promotion: 2009 Darwin Week in Charleston | February 08-15. I have about eight pages of notes already so as to be ready for hecklers.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, submitted by Barry, is “Types of Movies”.
song chart memes

Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Monday, February 2, 2009

8 Shevaṭ 5769: Frozen Food/Groundhog Day/World Wetlands Day


Worthy cause of the day: “Help Our Economy by Helping National Parks”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. Count on some countries to have no clue when it comes to freedom of religion: “KAZAKHSTAN: The court hearing which never was?”, “Egypt: Christians Sent To Prison After Brutal Police Raid”
  2. “Critics point to flaws in pope's governing style”: Homing in on why the Richard Williamson debacle is occurring. So far, no sign of Pope Benedict XVI getting around to excommunicating Williamson afresh.
  3. More self-promotion: 2009 Darwin Week in Charleston | February 08-15. I have done the research. You may be surprised at the length of some relevant lists I have drawn up. Ben Stein is in big trouble.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is the cartoon “Security”.

Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

7 Shevaṭ 5769: Hula in the Coola Day/Robinson Crusoe Day

Hi. You have reached Aaron’s blog, Weird thing of the day. Some of the wording used today is unusual because he started writing it on Friday, which was Inane Answering Machine Day, but did not have the time to finish it, and he does not feel like rewriting it from scratch today. Aaron is not available right now, but he has left a number of interesting items below, and if you leave a comment below, he’ll be happy to get back to you later.

Today’s worthy causes are: “Tell Your Senators to Support Pay Equality Today”, “Improving the Economy and Environment Go Hand in Hand”, “Take All Tax Cuts Out Of Economic Stimulus Package”, and “ Another officer attacked Grant before he was killed”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions are:
  1. More countries failing basic freedom of religion: “Egypt: Judge Tells Of Desire To Kill Christian”, “Saudi Arabia: Authorities Arrest Christian Convert”, and “Report: Myanmar's Chin people persecuted”
  2. “Neo-Nazi tags wrong building”, in which a Neo-Nazi demonstrates he does not understand that “Messianic Judaism” is actually Jewish-rite Christianity.
  3. Further spars in the Richard Williamson controversy: “Priest in Italy defends Holocaust-denier”, “Jewish Leader Calls Off Talks With Church in Holocaust-Denier Row”, and “Britain's Catholic bishops denounce anti-Semitism”.
  4. Self-promotion: “2009 Darwin Week in Charleston | February 08-15”. Note: Bring your own rotten vegetables when coming to see Aaron attack Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed; they will not be provided for you.
Today’s news and commentary are:Today’s weird thing is “Student Bloopers”. Regardless of the origins of some of these bloopers, they are still amusing. Enjoy and share the weirdness.