Thursday, January 29, 2009

4 Shevaṭ 5769: Thomas Paine Day/National Puzzle Day


Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. More on the Richard Williamson scandal: Groups other than the Vatican have been taking action. (See “Holocaust-denying bishop banned in German city's churches”, “Rehabilitated bishop is silenced by sect”, and “Israel's chief rabbinate severs Vatican ties”.) The Vatican has done nothing but condemn Williamson’s Holocaust-denial, without taking the obvious step of excommunicating him again. (See “Pope Voices Support for Jews, Rejects Holocaust Denial” and “Pope tries to heal rift with Jews over Holocaust denier”.)
  2. “State religion”: Oklahoma’s legislature is considering a bill to erect a Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds. This dubious and pointless mixture of church and state is done in a highly transparent manner, as it is written:
    Ritze's bill contains a disclaimer that "placement of this monument shall not be construed to mean that the State of Oklahoma favors any particular religion or denomination thereof over others."

    That won't fool anyone, advocate or opponent of the bill. It clearly is intended to recognize tenets of the Christian Bible as being pre-eminent. And it is a slap in the face to citizens of religions other than Christian or Jewish who, while clearly in the minority, deserve the protection, not the tyranny, of the majority.
    I have no clue how this move is supposed to benefit anyone. It fails to improve the functioning of government in any way, it is unconstitutional, and it makes its opponents more hostile. Someone please tell the Oklahoma Supreme Court to squelch this nonsense before it wastes any more time and effort...
  3. And yet more attempts to suppress freedom of religion, now with extra lameness: “AZERBAIJAN: Unregistered worship 'illegal' - but under what law?” and “Kazakhstan launches attack on religion”.
  4. Even more self-promotion: 2009 Darwin Week in Charleston | February 08-15. See me on the 10th and find out why Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is bad propaganda.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is Little Richard and the Goosebumps’ “Gilligan’s Island/Stairway”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

3 Shevaṭ 5769: Rattle Snake Round-Up Day/National Kazoo Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Repower, Refuel, and Rebuild America” and “Urge Interior Secretary Salazar to Rescue the Polar Bear”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “Religious freedom at center of pot case”:  The religion in question is the Religion of Jesus Church, which claims they are religiously required to smoke marijuana.  It is claimed on their Web-site that hemp in mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an aromatic herb, on which justification they believe they are supposed to smoke it.  This is frankly a very pathetic sort of hermeneutics because hemp is not mentioned at all in the Hebrew Bible.  I am not clear what the plant they claim is hemp, qaneh-bosem, really is, but hemp is hardly likely.  The name does mean something like “reed of perfume”, but as any picture of cannabis will tell you, cannabis is not a reed.  Furthermore, even if qaneh-bosem were cannabis, it is still a great leap of interpretation to claim that just because a plant is used as part of sacrificial incense that it should be generally used for smoking.
  2. Self-promotion: 2009 Darwin Week in Charleston | February 08-15. Come and tell me everything I am saying is totally bogus—if you can.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, submitted by Barry, is “Polite Fiction”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2 Shevaṭ 5769: International Holocaust Remembrance Day


Worthy cause of the day: “RUSH TO JUDGMENT”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. The Richard Williamson scandal continues.  Both the Italian bishops’ conference and the Vatican have denounced the Holocaust-denying views of Williamson (see “Italy bishops denounce Holocaust denier” and “Vatican: Comments by Holocaust denier unacceptable”).  No word on Pope Benedict XVI re-excommunicating Williamson yet.  Meanwhile, Williamson himself seems to be increasingly nutty, as evidenced by this bizarre review of The Sound of Music, which is not only pro-Nazi, but also makes some interesting leaps of logic.  (Credit is due to J. L. Bell, who read about this in The Daily Dish.)
  2. “Tanzania witchdoctors flout ban”: The ban is on using organs from human albinos, procured by murdering people they were part of. Considering that magic only works in the form of psychological effects, this is an extremely high moral price to pay for a placebo. Shame on the witchdoctors, the murderers, and the clients of the witchdoctors!
  3. More self-promotion: 2009 Darwin Week in Charleston | February 08-15. I am on the panel on the 10th discussing Expelled. Bring your own rotten vegetables.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is Toy-A-Day. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Monday, January 26, 2009

1 Shevaṭ 5769: Spouse’s Day/Australia Day/Chinese New Year/Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day


Worthy cause of the day: “Tell Your Representative to Support the Omnibus Public Land Management Act”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. Last night on TV there was a made-for-TV movie called Loving Leah dealing with a little-discussed feature of Judaism, levirate marriage (yibbum).  The basic concept can be found in Deuteronomy 25:5-10, namely that if a married man dies childless, his brother should marry the widow in order to produce children.  If the brother does not want to marry his sister-in-law, he must undergo a degrading ceremony knows as ḥaliṣah, after which the widow is free to marry another man. The practice these days in the rare situation described is to perform ḥaliṣah (out of fear that levirate marriage may be consumated for anything other than the purest intents).  Loving Leah deals with a case where the brother and widow decide to contract levirate marriage, the brother out of respect to the deceased and the widow as a means of being able to escape her community and go to college.  (There is a Ḥaredhi-versus-Reform aspect to this story.)  Though starting out with no intention of the marriage being anything other than pro forma, the couple of course fall in love, thus making for a happy ending.

    Despite the fact that the reaction of any rabbinical court these days to anyone who wanted to be part of a levirate marriage would probably be to the tune of “Are you insane?”, I am not aware of anything they could do to really stop it.  On the other hand, the couple in the movie do not do initially the one thing I am aware of which makes it a done deal:  sexual intercourse.  As a whole, the movie is riddle with a strange mixture of awareness of the practice of Judaism with utter ignorance.  Alongside an awareness of washing cups, blowtorching ovens to kasher them, married women covering their hair, not using telephones on Shabbath, and not eating meat and dairy together are a paradoxical ignorance of not using non-kasher vessels for food, details of ṣeni‘uth, the constant practice of Torah study, any trace of ṭaharath hammishpaḥah, or what being observant means to an Orthodox Jew.  Intuition suggests whoever is responsible for this film was either peripherally familiar with Orthodox Judaism or that some aspects of Jewish practice fell victim to incompetence in development and production.
  2. More self-promotion: 2009 Darwin Week in Charleston | February 09-15. Come see me February 10 and tell me I completely misunderstand (what passes for) the theology of Ben Stein!
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is a non-serious article written by Barry some time ago, included below. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


It's everywhere now.  In homes and apartments across
the country, people are doing it. Teenagers do it to
impress their friends. It props up the egos of people
in their midlife crisises. People are putting
pictures of it on the Internet.

But what exactly is extreme gardening?

Extreme gardening is a form of indoor container
gardening where people try to grow the most outrageous
plants in the most outrageous places. People do it on
their own, or sometimes compete to do the most bizarre
gardening stunts imaginable. Some people grow
enormous plants inside their homes, such as Granny
Smith apple trees, saguaro cactuses, and in one case,
a redwood which grew through a skylight. Some let ivy
plants crawl up inside walls or kudzu over
refrigerators. There has been purposeful cultivation
of poisonous plants indoors such as foxglove and
belladonna. Others make topiary furniture, turn their
bathtubs into cranberry bogs, cultivate shitake
mushrooms under their dining-room tables, or set up
holly and prickly pears as deterrants to burglars. It
has become disturbingly popular. But is it safe?

"This is the most dangerous fad in recent memory,"
says Dr. Hieronymous Pickles of the University of
Pennsylvania. "Most people have no idea how dangerous
plants can be."

Dr. Pickles points to a number of incidents involving
plant-related injuries. Some of them are as simple as
people falling on cacti and thistles, or allergic
reactions to poison ivy. But there are a number of
incidents in which plants turn on their owners.

"Attacks on people by plants are disturbingly common,"
says Dr. Pickles.

The most common attacks are by spider plants, which,
when planted in hanging pots, can become quite
violent. "Most people don't realize that spider
plants are prone to vertigo," said Timothy Dork of the
Burpee Seed Company. "The slightest breeze can get
them dizzy, making them liable to take out their
frustrations on others. We have spent many years
trying to develop friendlier spider plants."

Fortunately there have been no fatalities caused by
spider plants. But other plants have caused serious
injury or death. Cabbage and its variants, such as
broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, are
extremely ill-tempered and liable to bite. Rose
bushes often get cranky if not kept properly pruned
and have been known to beat their owners with their
canes as they sleep. Even harmless-looking geraniums
and pansies have been known to have bad reactions to
powdery mildew and send their owners to the hospital.

But perhaps the plants causing the most injuries are
fruit-bearing vines such as cucumbers and squash.
Pumpkins especially have gotten a bad reputation.
Dangling their vines out windows, they have been known
to grab children and pets and eat them. They've also
been known to aggressively use their fruits as
weapons. In Cincinnati, two people suffered
concussions after being smacked on the head by an
acorn squash. There have been instances of vines
shoving their zucchinis down peoples throats,
suffocating them, in Seattle and New York. And in New
Orleans, a cucumber plant attacked several drunks and
tried to knock them into the path of an oncoming

The situation is made worse by some extreme gardeners
encouraging this behavior. All across the country,
police have been reporting an ever-increasing number
of organized aloe fights. Some flower shops now
advertise the visciousness of their petunias and
suggest sending them as a "revenge bouquet." But
perhaps most disturbing are reports that strains of
Big Max and Dill's Atlantic Giant pumpkins now exist
which drop their massive fruits on people's heads.

"The law has not kept up with what gardeners are
doing," says Dr. Pickles. "If we don't do something
soon, we could well be overrun by these dangerous plants."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

29 Ṭeveth 5769: Opposite Day/A Room of One’s Own Day/Burns Night/International Kitchen Garden Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Help Ensure a Lasting Future for Wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies”, “Save the Arctic's Marine Ecosystems”, “Free Choice Brings Better Wages for Women: Tell Congress!”, and “The new Administration is listening - ask President Obama to protect wilderness!”

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “Pope lifts 4 excommunications”: As it is written:
    Pope Benedict XVI has lifted the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops as part of his efforts to bring the Society of St. Pius X, which opposed some of the Second Vatican Council's changes, back into the Roman Catholic Church.

    The four bishops — two Frenchmen, a Briton and an Argentine — were excommunicated 20 years ago after they were consecrated by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without papal consent, a move the Vatican declared an act of schism, incurring automatic excommunication.
    The Pope making peace among Catholics is nice, but there is a catch. As it is written:
    However, the lifting of the excommunications sparked outrage among Jewish groups because one of the four rehabilitated bishops is being investigated for Holocaust denial in Germany, where it is a crime. Some of the words by Bishop Richard Williamson were shown on Swedish state TV last week, including: "I think that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews died in Nazi concentration camps, but none of them in gas chambers."
    Add this to the Pope permitting use of a version of the Latin Mass asking for the conversion of the Jews to Catholicism, and the Pope is making a case that the era of warm Jewish-Catholic relations is over. This would be a good time for the Pope to excommunicate Williamson specifically for Holocaust denial and edit asking for conversion of the Jews out of the Latin Mass.
  2. “TAJIKISTAN: Islamic school of thought banned”: I feel ambivalent about this. I have little sympathy for Salafiyya or any other orthodox form of Islam, given the hostility of Islam to practitioners of all other religions who do not kowtow to Muslims and Muḥammad’s complete failure to justify why anyone should follow him, thus making following him very dangerous (theologically and otherwise) for people to follow him. On the other hand, the Tajik government is taking part of the post-Soviet tendency of squelching the practice of all unofficial or all religions; it is not just the Salafis that are being oppressed.
  3. More self-promotion: 2009 Darwin Week in Charleston | February 09-15. Come and heckle me when the panel I am on analyzes Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, suggested by Mom, is Barack-In-The-Box | Barack Obama Jack in the Box Collectible Toy. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Friday, January 23, 2009

27 Ṭeveth 5769: Measure Your Feet Day/National Handwriting Day/Buy Nothing Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Urge Interior Secretary Salazar to Rescue the Polar Bear”, “Tell President Obama, "Thank you!"”, and “Pandas' Existence Threatened by Global Warming”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. Even more countries have no clue when it comes to freedom of religion: “Eritrea: Christian Deaths Mount In Prisons”, “TAJIKISTAN: 'No rights to organise prayers'”, and “Christian monastery in Turkey fights to keep land”.
  2. Some people have no clue when it comes to separation of church and state: “ACLU to sue Twin Cities charter school that caters to Muslims”.
  3. And some people have no clue that when it comes to freedom of speech: “Islam film Dutch MP to be charged”. One may not like or approve of Geert Wilders’s Fitna, but all he really did is disapprove of the Qur’an, something covered under freedom of religion.
  4. Self-promotion which will be going on for another two weeks: 2009 Darwin Week in Charleston | February 09-15.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is the Klingon Keyboard. Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

26 Ṭeveth 5769: National Blonde Brownie Day/Answer Your Cat’s Question Day


Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. Even more countries fail at freedom of religion: “Jehovah's Witnesses members detained in western Azerbaijan” and “RUSSIA: Banned "extremist" religious literature – who's next?”
  2. “Busy people grab a dose of God on the go”: This The One-Minute Bible concept worries me. While I am all for fitting religious study into one’s schedule, even at odd times, being able to fit in only a single minute a day is a sign of an overloaded schedule and bad prioritizing. Would it be too difficult to fit in 15 minutes?
  3. I am pleased to announce that I will be participating in Darwin Week at the College of Charleston.  On February 10, I will be part of a panel discussing Ben Stein’s alleged documentary Expelled:  No Intelligence Allowed.  Expelled is pure propaganda for the “intelligent design” movement, and we will be dissecting its claims.  My role is to focus on the religious aspects of the film.  People who want some idea in advance what is wrong with Expelled are advised to visit Expelled Exposed: Why Expelled Flunks, which covers the bases.  I am planning on taking my religious commentary in directions not covered on this site or in any review I have read.  Everyone is invited to attend, including anyone wishing to give me critical commentary on my commentary on Expelled.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, submitted by Barry, is “Kitteh of teh Opera”.
funny pictures
Enjoy and share the weirdness with the cat you love.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

25 Ṭeveth 5769: National Hugging Day/Granola Bar Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Thank President Obama” and “President Obama / We're Ready For Reform”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. More countries having trouble with the concept of freedom of religion: “Members of U.S. Congress Press for Religious Freedom in China”, “Kazakhstan: Tougher Religion Law Under Constitutional Review”, “Iranian media report Baha'i missionary arrests”, and “Christian killed in northern Iraqi city”.
  2. “As atheists roll out London ads, believers unruffled”: This business about atheistic bus ads takes a turn Richard Dawkins did not expect: Some Christians, rather than getting angry, look upon them as an opportunity to get people to think about what they actually believe.
  3. “Man refuses to drive 'No God' bus”: Meanwhile, at least one bus driver agrees with me that the idea of there being no god is bleak and dreadful, regardless of whether it is true or not. Atheist Hanne Stinson shows no understanding of why anyone might feel this way. The moral of this incident: it is not enough to tell people that something is great; tell them why it is great.
  4. “'Islam' bus ads draw criticism”: As it is written:
    Fifty of Broward County's 290-bus fleet have been rolling for the past several weeks with a message that might seem more oblique than inflammatory. Black letters on a white backdrop proclaim, ``ISLAM: The Way of Life of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.''
    As far as I know, this is a genuine Muslim belief. However, it is also one that naturally draws criticism, as it is what one might call “claim-jumping”, trying to claim that figures of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament were actually Muslims. As such, it is to be expected that Jews and Christians would find such ads offensive, and they are entitled to be offended. After all, there is no political right to freedom to force others to accept one’s beliefs or freedom from criticism. It is also notable that historical and archaeological evidence is on the side of Jews and Christians. Open up any issue of Biblical Archaeology Review or any decent book on Biblical archaeology. You will notice the abundance of Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish artifacts in Israel and the severe lack of Arabic/Islamic artifacts from any time before the Arabs started their jihad post-Muḥammad. The spat over whether supporters or critics of the ads are shilling for terrorists is a two-way ad hominem.
  5. “Vatican says Jewish prayer complaints excessive”: Exactly how does the Vatican expect Jews not to consider a prayer asking for the conversion of the Jews to Christianity offensive? The Vatican can either hold that it is OK for Jews to be Jews or hold that Jews should all convert to Catholicism, hopefully being as respectful as possible in their disagreement with Jews on this theological issue. Trying to hold by both views simultaneously is not consistent and thus does not go over well.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “Dalek Crochet Pattern”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

24 Ṭeveth 5769: Inauguration Day (US)/Basketball Day


Today’s news and commentary:Whereas today is Inauguration Day, I hereby declare that today’s weird thing is one of the strangest leaders the United States has ever had, Emperor Norton. Therefore, go forth and enjoy this site and share the weirdness.

Emperor Aaron I of this blog

Sunday, January 18, 2009

22 Ṭeveth 5769: Jazz Day/Pooh Day


Worthy causes of the day: “ Protect the Arctic from Industrial Fishing”, “Keep Loaded Guns Out of Our National Parks”, and “Support the Unplanned Pregnancy Prevention Bill”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “"No God" bus ads banned in Italian city”: As it is written:
    Italian atheists have lost a bid to run "no God" advertisements on city buses after strong opposition from conservative political parties, a member of the group said on Saturday.
    The ads reading "The bad news is that God doesn't exist. The good news is that you don't need him" were to have been put on buses in the northern city of Genoa, home to the Catholic cardinal who is head of the Italian Bishops Conference.
    My (sarcastic) comment on the ad text: No God? ARGH! All life is totally meaningless! There’s no afterlife, and all life is going to end in dismal oblivion! What a horrible, horrible situation! How the gezornenblat are we going to handle something so terrible?  How can we possibly not need a god to get us out of such a situation?

    Major rule: One person’s good news is another person’s bad news.  Also:  Bus ads are too short to make convincing arguments.
  2. A very different sort of bad idea: “Lithuanian firm hires witch to hunt debt dodgers”: You know, I would be willing to do nothing useful to collect debts for half of what the witch is charging...
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “Abby Normal? Nope: Psychiatrist knits anatomically correct brain”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

19 Ṭeveth 5769: Hat Day/Personal Firewall Day/Humanitarian Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Tell Congress to Make Green Jobs a Stimulus Priority”, “Welcome back your members of Congress (Tell them we can’t fix our economy if we don’t fix health care)”, and “Tell the Senate: Support equal pay for women.”

Please also note President Elect Obama’s Citizen's Briefing Book, where people can submit their ideas for better government and weigh in on other people’s ideas.

And since today is Personal Firewall Day, please remember to make sure your firewall is on to keep viruses and other malware out. In Mac OS X 10.4, you can activate your firewall from the Sharing preference pane. Under Mac OS X 10.5, the firewall can be activated from the Security preference pane. If you use a different operating system or need further help, please contact your local technical support person or E-mail me.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. Recently I watched Inherit the Wind (1960 version), a dramatization of the Scopes Trial. I have to look into how historically accurate the movie and original play are at some point, but in the meantime, I would like to note something that keeps bugging me. The Christian creationists are depicted as singing “Old Time Religion”, claiming that since “that old time religion” was good enough for several Biblical figures, it is good enough for them. The part that bugs me is that all the people mentioned (Jonah, David, the Hebrew children) are Jews from the Hebrew Bible. If Judaism is good enough for them, why are they Christians?
  2. “China to celebrate Dalai Lama's exit from Tibet with a public holiday”: Yeah, like this is really going to convince anyone that the Dalai Lama is a horrible person. If we had special generally recognized punctuation for sarcasm, that last sentence would have had at least three sarcasm marks after it.
  3. “Yangon, dictatorship closes Christian and Muslim houses of prayer”, “KYRGYZSTAN: President's signing of restrictive Religion Law condemned”, and “UZBEKISTAN: Children and parents threatened for attending places of worship”: Three governments show they have no respect for freedom of religion.
  4. “Protests erupt over Maoist appointments at Nepal temple”: This is what happens when anyone tries to dictate someone else’s religion to them: they refuse to accept it.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is The MegaPenny Project. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

18 Ṭeveth 5769: National Dress Up Your Pet Day/Bald Eagle Day/National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day/International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction


Worthy cause of the day: “When will it end?”

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:  These days in the United States, there is a commonly voiced view that religion is based on “faith”—specifically blind faith, which is belief without resort to reasoning and evidence.  The more I learn, the more I find this view is wrong.  Historically it is impossible to claim that the major Western religions have held that one should blindly believe in the existence of the One God.  After all, if blind faith is such a great thing, why have so many invested time and effort into creating proofs of the existence of God?  Why would anyone have bothered to try to bolster their beliefs with reasoning and evidence?  This has been going on since at least as far back as Aristotle.  Regardless of whether one agrees with the proofs or not, this is not the way of people who hold by blind faith.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is the bizarre sentence “James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

15 Ṭeveth 5769: International Thank You Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Reject Admiral Blair for Director of National Intelligence because of East Timor massacres”, “Obama's plan under attack”, “Drop Opposition to Arms Trade Treaty”, “Help Wildlife Affected by Global Warming”, and “Open Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research”. I would also like to encourage everyone who can to give blood. (I did on Thursday.) The Red Cross is suffering from a shortage this time of year and can use every pint it can get. Remember: giving blood may be a pain in the arm, but it is a much easier and safer way to save a life than running into a burning building. Give blood and be a hero.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “Big old lobster avoids date with NYC dinner plate” and “PETA: Spearfish school should be called Sea Kitten”: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have some strange priorities. That first article discusses PETA’s efforts to save a lobster. I have to wonder why they do not put their efforts into saving creatures on the mental level which are slaughtered in large numbers by humans with impunity: insects. Why lobsters should be more worthy of saving than cockroaches, ants, and termites is beyond me. That second article notes an attempt by PETA to get people to refer to fish as “sea kittens” in a blatant propaganda move to make people eat less fish, trying to transfer feelings about one animal to another. This does not really address the question about whether it is moral to eat either kittens or fish. I find the idea of eating locusts repugnant, despite the fact that my religion actually permits it, because I have been raised in a culture in which insects are normally not considered food; despite this learned disgust, I have no reason to impugn the righteousness of those who do eat locusts. Similarly, feelings of disgust or sentimentality have no place in discussing the question whether it is moral to eat any living organism unless one bases one’s moral system on disgust or sentimentality. Note also that if this propaganda stunt actually works (which is doubtful), one has to ask why it could not potentially backfire, with people transferring their feelings about fish to kittens and feeling indifferent about their suffering, death, and consumption.
  2. “Voodoo priests pray for Israel-Palestinian peace”: I appreciate Voodoo priests wanting the Israeli-Arab War to end and their hatred of all war. However, I am not clear that they actually understand what the situation actually is. As it is written:
    "All wars, which we deplore, have their origin for the most part in religious misunderstandings," said Dah Aligbonon.
    First of all, I am not clear on whether this is true of war in general; if anyone with expertise in history is reading this, please fill me in. Secondly, I do not believe religious misunderstanding is the cause of the Arab-Israeli War. Israel is part of the war because it has no choice; it has to either defend itself or be destroyed. Lack of understanding Islam probably contribute to certain political blunders, but they are not the cause of the war. The Arab involvement in the war has nothing to do with Arabs misunderstanding Judaism. Even if Arabs in general displayed any real understanding of what Judaism is, that would make no difference, and that is because this war is about how the Arabs understand Islam. According to Islam, everyone is supposed to either be a Muslim or kowtow to Muslims. The State of Israel is an abomination to Islam because according to Islam, non-Muslims are not supposed to have dominion anywhere, certainly not without acknowledging the supremacy of Islam; thus Israel’s continued existence as an independent non-Muslim state in the heart of the Muslim world is a source of dishonor to serious Muslims. It is not merely lack of understanding Judaism that is irrelevant to the Arabs, but even the fact that Israelis are mostly Jews is irrelevant.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “How to Start Your Own Country”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Friday, January 9, 2009

13 Ṭeveth 5769: National Static Electricity Day


Worthy cause of the day: “Help put global warming at the top of the agenda for the Obama Administration”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “Nepal's Maoist rulers rile Hindus”: I have to side with the Hindus on this one: it makes no sense for atheists to meddle in the running of a Hindu temple.
  2. “Woman suspected of witchcraft burned alive”: General rule: Before you kill anyone, make sure they are actually guilty of something worthy of death!/ The consequences of not being sure can be catastrophic.
  3. “US Says Kyrgyz Law Would Restrict Religious Freedom”: Apparently arbitrary government restrictions on religion is epidemic in the former Soviet Union. Kyrgyzstan is getting into the act.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is the Random Recipe Generator, which may be useful for anyone insufficiently creative to create an original disaster in the kitchen. Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

12 Ṭeveth 5769: Postal Day/Show and Tell Day at Work/World Literacy Day/National Clean-off-your-desk Day


Worthy cause of the day: “Take Action for Green Jobs and Wildlife”.

Other other worthy cause of the day: “Tell Congress: Ban Shark Finning”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:  This has me annoyed:   “The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center's Great American Think-Off.”  Every year they choose a question for people to submit answers to, and then the writers of the two best submissions get to debate the question live.   This year’s question is one that defies logic:   “Is It Ever Wrong to do the Right Thing?”  The answer is conclusively “no”, and here is why:

Given any moral, ethical, or legal system, let us define:

1) An action which is meritorious or obligatory is considered right.

2) An action which is forbidden is considered wrong.

Notice that “right” and “wrong” are two mutually exclusive categories; they do no overlap.  Because they do not overlap, it is impossible for the right thing to be the wrong thing.   QED.

I am well aware that actions may be morally/ethically/legally neutral, in which case such actions are neither right nor wrong.  How moral/ethical/legal an action is may fall on a continuum between purely right and purely wrong, but there is no difficulty so long each action has one and only one moral/ethical/legal status.  Some actions may have a status which is contingent on context, e.g., returning lost property is generally the right thing, but not when said property is a sharp knife and the owner a psychopathic killer.  There may also be doubt as to whether an action is right or wrong, especially if the consequences of the action are unclear.  In some cases, there may be no desirable outcome, only a choice between different undesirable outcomes, making finding the right action an exercise in finding the least undesirable action.  But in no case do “right” and “wrong” actually overlap.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, submitted by Barry, is a list of clichés. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

11 Ṭeveth 5769: I’m Not Going To Take It Anymore Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Tell Congress: Support equal pay for women”, “Bush: Take Responsibility for the Financial Crisis”, and “Send a Soldier a Smile”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “In a quiet church rebellion, Massachusetts parishioners keep the faith”: I admire the dedication of these Catholic parishioners trying to keep their favored church from being closed down and sold. It is not everyone who is willing to take part in a scheme to occupy a building nonstop, four years on.
  2. “NAGORNO-KARABAKH: Repressive new Religion Law signed”: Yet another state in the former Soviet Union, the internationally unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, is getting into the act in interfering with freedom of religion. Shame on the government!
  3. “Church of England pens prayer for the redundant”
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “Snow Dalek”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

10 Ṭeveth 5769: Fast of Ṭeveth/World Asthma Day/World Day for War Orphans/Three Kings Day


Worthy causes of the day: “Take Action: Preserve the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument” and “Pass the Obama jobs and recovery plan NOW!”.

Today’s news and commentary:Because this is a fast day, specifically remembering Nevukhadhneṣṣar’s siege of Jerusalem (Qiṣṣur Shulḥan ‘Arukh 121:3; may YHWH save us from anything like that happening ever again!), there is no weird thing today. If you are fasting, may it be an easy fast.


Monday, January 5, 2009

9 Ṭeveth 5769: National Thank God It’s Monday! Day/World Habitat Day


Worthy cause of the day: “Advocate for Microfinance at the 2009 World Economic Forum”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions: “BELARUS: Four Catholic priests and three nuns banned”: Yet another Former Soviet Union country stomps on freedom of religion under the cover of pathetic excuses.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is what may be the strangest Star Trek fanfic ever, “Roadrunner”. Enjoy, share the weirdness, live long, and prosper.


Friday, January 2, 2009

6 Ṭeveth 5769: Happy Mew Year for Cats Day


Worthy cause of the day: “Stop Bush's Cuts to the Endangered Species Act”.

Today’s news and commentary:It seems like everyone gets annoyed at their computer at some time, and many of us yell at them.  (I am guilty of this myself.)  One might think yelling at a computer would be a harmless way of blowing off steam, but today’s weird thing, “Shouting in the Datacenter”, suggests otherwise.

Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

5 Ṭeveth 5769: Gregorian New Year/Kwanzaa


Worthy cause of the day: “Stop Female Genital Cutting”.

I am finding myself wondering what the Gregorian/Catholic New Year actually celebrates, if anything.  The only explanation I have ever heard is that it celebrates the circumcision of Jesus of Nazareth.  (If Jesus really had been born on December 25, then his circumcision, having to be on the eighth day, would have to be on January 1.)  If anyone has a better explanation, please let me know.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is Turn Your Name Into a Face. This site allows you to take any name and transmute it into a face that will almost inevitably look nothing in particularly like the person whose name was input. E.g., this is what this site produced in response to my name, “Aaron Solomon Adelman”:

Go figure. Enjoy and share the weirdness.