Sunday, June 4, 2017

Genocide In The Israeli/Arab Conflict

1. Introduction of the Issue

Over at Neal Godfrey's blog Godfrey continues to try and support his conclusion that there was/is/will be genocide in the Israeli Arab conflict Expulsion of the Palestinians: Insights into Yishuv’s Transfer Ideas in World War 2. His problem so far is that he continues to look for it in the wrong place. He keeps looking for it on the Israeli side but there are now more Palestinians in Israel than there were at the start of the conflict and while Israel had no reaction whatsoever to The Palestinian Museum the Museum has no exhibits because of internal Palestinian fighting.

Genocide is defined as follows:


"Genocide is intentional action to destroy a people (usually defined as an ethnicnationalracial, or religious group) in whole or in part. The hybrid word "genocide" is a combination of the Greek word gĂ©nos ("race, people") and the Latin suffix -cide ("act of killing").[1] The United Nations Genocide Convention, which was established in 1948, defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group".[2][3]
The term genocide was coined in a 1944 book;[4][5] it has been applied to the Holocaust," 
Note that included in the definition of "Genocide" is a religious group and that the term was created because of the genocide of Jews in the Holocaust of which the Palestinians and Arabs participated. Strangely Godfrey prohibits the combination of "Holocaust" and the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict because he thinks it creates unfair sympathy for Israel. On the other hand he is quick to combine "Genocide" and Palestinians (as supposed victims) even though the word was originally created to describe the genocide of the Jews (which was largely successful because of the effort of Palestinians/Arabs to prevent a Jewish State at the time).

Everyone, including Godfrey, would agree that there was Genocide against the Jews in all of the surrounding Arab countries:

Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries

Here we have the expected qualities of genocide, murder, persecution, intimidation, forcible eviction, theft of all property, desecration and removal of history. Contrast this to what Godfrey tries to manufacture as Genocide on the Israeli side, while Israel is attempting to defend itself against a repetition of genocide against Jews, one (not "the") Jewish leader, in preparation for war, writes that assuming the Jews survive genocide one option is to try and make agreements with surrounding Arab countries to transfer some Palestinians out of strategically vulnerable areas so as to make the next genocidal attempt against Israel less likely to be successful. Under such a plan the Palestinians and Arab countries would be compensated per any agreement. The proposed plan would remove Palestinians by force if necessary (see how easy that was Neil). Note that this was one idea by one Israeli leader and never official Israeli policy unlike every Palestinian political organization that has an explicit genocidal policy towards Israel. 

So we do have clear evidence of Genocide just outside of Israel, perpetrated by all of Israel's Arab neighbors. But do we have evidence of Genocide inside Israel itself?

2. Discussion

During the Israeli/Arab conflict it's generally agreed that Jordan was the least malicious of Israel's neighbors. During The War of Independence Jordan illegally captured East Jerusalem which under the UN Mandate was supposed to be an International City. Let's see how that worked out for Jews not just in East Jerusalem but everywhere:

Jordanian annexation of the West Bank:

1) The Jordanians immediately expelled all the Jewish residents of East Jerusalem.[14]

2) All but one of the 35 synagogues in the Old City were destroyed over the course of the next 19 years, either razed or used as stables and chicken coops.

3) Many other historic and religiously significant buildings were replaced by modern structures.[15][16] The ancient Jewish cemetery on Mount of Olives was desecrated, and the tombstones were used for construction, paving roads and lining latrines; the highway to the Intercontinental Hotel was built on top of the site.[17]

4) Tensions continued between Jordan and Israel through the early 1950s, with Palestinian guerrillas and Israeli commandos crossing the Green Line.

5) Tourists entering East Jerusalem had to present baptismal certificates or other proof they were not Jewish.[38] [39][40]

1) - 5) = The destruction of Judaism in East Jerusalem, East 
Jerusalem being the most important geographical area for 
Judaism at the time as well as the symbol of Judaism.

For those sitting on the Wall as to whether this is sufficient to
justify a label of Genocide, add in that Jordan then allowed
Palestinian terrorists to operate from East Jerusalem.

3. Conclusion

In summary Neil Godfrey could end his desperate attempt to find evidence of Genocide in The Israeli/Arab conflict by simply looking everywhere except on the Israeli side. Seriously, Godfrey thinks he is helping the Palestinians by trying to demonize Israel and ignoring Palestinian/Arab evils. By doing this though he makes the Palestinians think that either he sees nothing evil in what they do or at least will tolerate it. Palestinian Terrorism though is the only reason Palestinians do not have their own State. They need constructive criticism and not just propaganda against Israel. By solely criticizing Israel you are hurting the Palestinians, not helping them, and your efforts will just blow up (so to speak) in your and their's face.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Figures Don't Lie But Liars Figure. A Proportionate Response to the Disproportionate Response Claim (Gaza)

1. Introduction of the Issue

Common Claim
It's often claimed that during The Gaza War (2014) Israel used "disproportionate force".  Bernie Sanders made this claim during an interview with Jake Tapper

The Numbers
Sanders mistakenly claimed in an interview a few weeks earlier that about 10,000 people were killed. The two main sources commonly used for casualties during the conflict are Israel and Hamas. Since everyone would agree that Hamas is a Terrorist Organization and therefore intentionally murders innocent women and children, the odds that they would also be willing to lie about the related casualties are proportionately greater than 2,125 to 73. Per Israel, 2,125 Palestinians died during the War and 72 Israelis and one foreigner died. 

What is the Right Question to Ask?
Supporters of the Palestinians tend to try and emphasize the disproportionate casualty statistics and avoid or at least minimize the overall context. This starts and ends with an answer, "Israel used disproportionate force," and misses something more important, the related starting question:

Was Israel justified in its response based on Israeli standards of justice?

Of course you could ask the question using other standards of justice but, as most people would first ask the question using their standard of justice, this article will only ask the question using Israel's standard.

2. Discussion

                      You're Making Things Up Again Bernie

What caused the Israeli response?
In order to answer the basic question of this article, the first question to ask is what caused the Israeli response. Per Wikipedia:
Between 4 and 6 July, a total of 62 rockets were fired from Gaza and the IAF attacked several targets in Gaza.[190][191][192] The following day, Hamas assumed formal responsibility for launching rocket attacks on Israel.[32] Hamas increased rocket attacks on Israel,[109] and by 7 July had fired 100 rockets from Gaza at Israeli territory;
Was Israel justified in making any response of force?
Per UN Resolution 3314 and therefore International Law:

Article 3
Any of the following acts, regardless of a declaration of war, shall, subject to and in accordance with the provisions of article 2, qualify as an act of aggression:
          (b) Bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State or the use of any weapons by a State against the territory of another State; 
 Clearly Hamas would meet the definition of "aggression" here. Beyond that, as Hamas was additionally targeting and murdering/injuring/terrifying civilians with this bombardment their actions would be considered by most, and especially Israel, to go beyond mere aggression, all the way to Terrorist Attacks. From Israel's standpoint then, a forceful response was justified.

In comparing the deaths on both sides what is a fair number to use for the Palestinians?

Per Israel 2,125 Palestinians died. Israel estimates 953 Palestinian civilians were killed. Since the 1,172 Palestinian soldiers who were killed were killed while supporting Terrorist Attacks against Israel, Israel would not include them in considering the extent of Israel's military response. Everyone would agree that some of the Palestinian civilians killed were killed by Hamas, either intentionally or accidentally. Fatah estimates that about 10% of the Palestinian deaths were intentionally killed by Hamas and let's guess that another 10% were unintentionally killed by Hamas. That would bring the Palestinian civilian deaths directly caused by Israel to about 762. Per Israel there were 73 Israeli deaths. Most were soldiers but since the soldiers were defending Israel against Terrorist Attacks Israel, by its standards, would be justified in including them in a comparison of fatalities. So the ratio here is about 10 to 1. 

How many casualties did the response PREVENT?
Before measuring how proportionate Israel's response was we need to consider how many Israeli deaths it may have prevented. In total the Israeli response stopped the Terrorist Attacks. Once the Terrorist Attacks stopped the Israeli response stopped. Most countries, including Israel, would accept a far higher ratio than 10 to 1 in order to stop ongoing Terrorist Attacks from a hostile State. 

We also need to consider the risk to Israel, even if relatively small, of the possibility of significantly more casualties. Hamas confessed/boasted that during the War it attempted to strike Israel's nuclear facility at Dimona HAMAS: WE ATTEMPTED TO HIT THE NUCLEAR REACTOR IN DIMONA .

Was Hamas indirectly responsible for some Palestinian casualties directly caused by Israel?
It's generally agreed that Hamas was by:

1. Deliberately launching some rockets from/near civilian buildings.

2. Ordering the general Gazan population not to move to safer areas.

                     The Hamasgous still rules the wasteland

3. Conclusion

In summary a fair consideration of the fatalities to include on each side indicates about a 10 to 1 ratio. From Israel's standpoint this ratio would be within the bounds of a proportionate response due to the following key considerations:

1. The Israeli response was caused by Terrorist attacks.

2. The Israeli response was limited to what was necessary to stop the Terrorist attacks. 

3. The possibility existed of significantly greater Israeli casualties if the Terrorist attacks were not stopped.

4. Hamas was also responsible for some Palestinian fatalities. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

You Might Be An Antisemite

1. You Might Be A Redneck

2. You hate all Israeli Jews and all Jews who support Israel but you love all other Jews (the ones who hate Israeli Jews and Jews who support Israel).

3. You think the Holocaust should never be remembered for the purpose of supporting Israel but should always be remembered for the purpose of making comparisons between Israel and Nazis.

4. You are interested/fascinated with what there is/might be about Jews that has traditionally made them victims yet you have no interest in what there is/might be about Muslims/Christians that made Jews victims.

5. You think that Judaism has negatively influenced Israel but Islam has not necessarily negatively influenced the surrounding Muslim countries. 

6. You have an endless fascination with the argument that Israel is guilty of genocide even though there are now more Arabs in Israel than there were 70 years ago and the only reason the launch of the Palestinian museum of history was unsuccessful was because of internal Palestinian disagreements and no interest in the actual genocide of all Jewish communities in the surrounding Arab countries during the same time period.

7. You think there is never a context for Israeli security measures but always a context for Palestinian terrorism.

8. You think that plotting by The Grand Mufti with Adolf Hitler against the Jews is irrelevant to the current Israeli/Arab conflict but any mention that the current Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas wrote his Thesis on Holocaust Denial  The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism is verboten.

9. Your favorite sources for criticism of Israel are Israelis/Jews but you would never ever use a Palestinian/Muslim source such as the son of the founder of Hamas  Mosab Hassan Yousef to criticize Palestinians.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Son Control - Mark's 2nd Amendment. Was "son of God" Added Later to Mark 1:1? The Greek Patristic Evidence.


1. Introduction of the Issue

Bible Reading
Mark 1:1 either reads as follows or uses alternative words with about the same meaning in all English Bibles that I am aware of:

BibleGateway Mark 1:1 NRSV 
"The beginning of the good news[a] of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.[b]"

There is Textual Criticism evidence for an alternative reading: 
"The beginning of the good news[a] of Jesus Christ"
with the difference being the omission of "the Son of God".

Greek Patristic Evidence
A key area of evidence for the Alternative is the early Greek Patristic evidence. Patristic evidence is normally an important category of External evidence except when there is relatively little of it. For the issue at hand though, we have early Patristic evidence in quantity. Patristic evidence is also relatively weightier for the Gospel of Mark than for other Gospels as Mark is relatively poorly attested by early Manuscript evidence compared to the other Gospels.

2. Discussion

Tatian c. 170

Considering Tatian as witness here:

"Tatian the Assyrian[1][2][3][4] (c. 120–180 AD) was an Assyrian early Christian writer and theologian of the 2nd century.

Tatian's most influential work is the Diatessaron, a Biblical paraphrase, or "harmony", of the four gospels that became the standard text of the four gospels in the Syriac-speaking churches until the 5th-century, when it gave way to the four separate gospels in the Peshitta version.[5]"

his related witness is the Diatessaron

"The Diatessaron (c 160–175) is the most prominent Gospel harmony created by Tatian, an early Christian apologist and ascetic.[1] Tatian combined the four gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—into a single narrative.

Tatian's harmony follows the gospels closely in terms of text but puts the text in a new, different sequence. The four gospels differ from one another; like other harmonies, the Diatessaron resolves contradictions. It also omits both the contradictory genealogies in Matthew and Luke. In order to fit all the canonical material in, Tatian created his own narrative sequence, which is different from both the synoptic sequence and John's sequence. Tatian omitted duplicated text, especially among the synoptics. The harmony does not include Jesus' encounter with the adulteress (John 7:53–8:11), a passage that is generally considered to be a late addition to the Gospel of John,[2] with the Diatessaron itself often used as an early textual witness to support this. No significant text was added.[3]

Only 56 verses in the canonical Gospels do not have a counterpart in the Diatessaron, mostly the genealogies and the Pericope Adulterae. The final work is about 72% the length of the four gospels put together (McFall, 1994).

In the early Church, the gospels at first circulated independently, with Matthew the most popular.[4] The Diatessaron is notable evidence for the authority already enjoyed by the four gospels by the mid-2nd century.[5] Twenty years after Tatian's harmony, Irenaeus expressly proclaimed the authoritative character of the four gospels. The Diatessaron became a standard text of the gospels in some Syriac-speaking churches down to the 5th century, when it gave way to the four separate Gospels,[5] in the Peshitta version.[6]"

The text of the Diatessaron

and regarding the offending verse here:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

It is nowhere to be found in the Diatessaron. We have the following reasons to think this is evidence that Mark 1:1 either outright did not exist at this time or was recognized by Tatian as likely not original:

  1. Tatian used almost all of "Mark".
  2. There is no clear reason for Tatian to exorcise 1:1.
  3. It would be natural for Tatian to start his Gospel with it as his theology is that Jesus started as son of God.
  4. The Diatessaron likewise does not have the start of "Matthew" or "Luke" again suggesting that either they outright did not exist at this time or were recognized by Tatian as likely not original. If "Matthew" and "Luke" had beginnings added (which their primary source "Mark" did not have) than that is evidence that "Mark" did too.
  5. Elliott argues (well) that all of 1:1-3 is unoriginal J.K. Elliott "Mark 1:1-3–A later addition to the Gospel?" NTS 46 (2000) 584-8


Now, getting all the way back to the specific question of this article, if there is evidence that Mark 1:1 is not original, is that evidence that the "son of god" in 1:1 is an addition?

As Kenneth Mars said in the classic ''Young Frankenstein'' "of gorse" in an absolute sense. In a relative sense though if all of 1:1 is an addition is that evidence that "son of God" is a even later addition to the prior addition of 1:1?

I think so as general evidence of editing in the neighborhood is evidence of specific editing there and specifically general addition evidence is specifically evidence of specific addition editing.

Thus I will add Tatian as evidence for addition and note the coordination with the other evidence as there is no quality evidence that "son of God" even existed in Tatian's time.  


Irenaeus c. 190

Against Heresies (Book III, Chapter 11)

"8. The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in Esaias the prophet,"

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet,"

The only significant difference being "the son of God". Irenaeus explicitly says "son of God" twice in his related discussion and a major theme is the generation of Jesus. It seems reMarkable to me that he would invoke the offending phrase in his discussion but not in his quote.

Irenaeus' context here is a general one. He is claiming support from the individual Gospels for his conclusion that there should be exactly four Gospels. Strangely, his mystical, indirect argument is exactly the type he accuses his opponents of. 


Origen c. 240

Origen Commentary on John Book I.14

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

followed by:

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way.
The voice of one crying m the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight."

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight;"

The only difference is "the son of God" and this is for 3 verses.

Origen's context is that the Christian Bible is a continuation of the Jewish Bible.

Origen Commentary on John Book 6.14

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send My messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight."

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight;"

The only difference is "the son of God" and this is for 3 verses.

Origen's context is that he is trying to harmonize the Gospels.

Origen Contra Celsus BOOK II. CHAP. IV

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
as it is written in the prophet Isaiah, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee"

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way."

The only difference is "the son of God" for 2 verses.

Origen's context is that the Christian Bible states that it is connected to the Jewish Bible. 


Serapion c. 350

Per the two main authors here on opposite sides, Head, contra "son of God", and Wasserman, pro "son of God", there is agreement that Serapion is a Contra. Per Michael Kok, Serapion, with evidence similar to Origen, quotes Mark 1:1-2 twice without "the son of God" in Against the Manichees (which exists only in the Greek) 25 & 37. 


Basil c. 363

Against Eunomius (Book II) 15 (Page 150)

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as is written in Isaiah the prophet: a voice of one crying out [Mk 1.1]"

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness"
Wasserman points out that the omission of the second half of verse 2 is support for the omission of "the son of God" in verse 1. But again, the cumulative absence of Patristic quotation of "son of God" here suggests the more likely explanation that it did not exist/was not accepted as original at this time. Also note here that Basil's context is the timing of "the son of God" so it would be reMarkable for him to exorcise it from his related quote. 

Cyril Jerusalem c. 370

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, &c.: John came baptising in the wilderness"
Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness"
Cyril gives part of the missing text early on (1):
"For the voice is heard of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord" 

He adds (2): 

"Make straight the way of the Lord" 

So the only part of the start of "Mark" he is missing besides "son of God" is the prophetic prediction. 

Part of his argument (11): 

"If the Son of God was baptized" 

Why not quote that if it's in the text. He's making a treatise out of a few verses. 

And, as the Brits says, the cruncher (14): 

"Jesus Christ was the Son of God, yet He preached not the Gospel before His Baptism. If the Master Himself followed the right time in due order, ought we, His servants, to venture out of order? From that time Jesus began to preach[5], when the Holy Spirit had descended upon Him in a bodily shape, like a dove[6]; not that Jesus might see Him first, for He knew Him even before He came in a bodily shape, but that John, who was baptizing Him, might behold Him. For I, saith he, knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, He said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending and abiding on Him,that is He[7]. If thou too hast unfeigned piety, the Holy Ghost cometh down on thee also, and a Father's voice sounds over thee from on high--not, "This is My Son," but, "This has now been made My son;" for the "is" belongs to Him alone, because In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God[8]. To Him belongs the "is," since He is always the Son of God: but to thee "has now been made:" since thou hast not the sonship by nature, but receivest it by adoption. He eternally "is;" but thou receivest the grace by advancement." 

Cyril's point/apology here is that the Synoptics appear to show Jesus as becoming son of God at baptism. Cyril's spin is that it is only from the standpoint of the witness that Jesus became son of God at the baptism. Jesus was "son of God" before the baptism (ala "John") and he (Jesus) knew/knows/will know it. Being able to quote "Mark" as saying "son of God" before the baptism is exactly what he would have wanted and done had it been there, same as his fellow Patristics.

Epiphanius c. 378

Panarion Section 51 (Page 26)
"The beginning of the Gospel, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, A voice of one crying in the wilderness."
Compare to the Text:
"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness"
So Epiphanius has exorcised "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way" and "Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Epiphanius says the northodox are using "Mark" to support their position (page 31):
""Look" they said here is a second Gospel too with an account of Christ, and nowhere does it say that his generation is heavenly. Instead they said, "the spirit descended upon him in the Jordan and a voice, "this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.""
If the text had said "son of God" at 1:1 than Epiphanius likely would have used it since he would consider it evidence from "Mark" that Jesus was the son of God before the baptism. He discusses the related text of the Gospels in detail looking for any support so the context indicates it was not there. Professor Ehrman briefly mentions the issue in TOCoS but doesn't going into the timing. Consider that at the time Epiphanius writes about the issue the only known extant Greek support is Vaticanus (coordination).
Epiphanius has provided us with the motive to add "son of God" and contemporary to him is when the extant Greek evidence for it starts. 

Asterius c. 385

Per Wasserman:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as is written in the prophets:
Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet"
Here Wasserman confesses that this is simply a quote of the Short. While he is in a confessional mood, Wasserman further confesses that Asterius is commenting on the heading of Psalm 9 and specifically the "son" in it and making/creating a connection to Mark 1:2 with Jesus supposedly the end of the Law in the Jewish bible and the start of a new era as witnessed by "Mark". Therefore, the context of Asterius indicates it was not there to use. 

Severian c. 390

Per Wasserman:
Cites a compiler of the relevant manuscripts that says 12 are Short and 2 are Long. Based on quantity, Severian is than Short and this is then direct evidence of change from Short to Long.

3. Conclusion

Critical (good) Textual Criticism usually decides textual criticism issues based on The Difficult Reading Principle combined with a minimum of other textual criticism evidence. Here the Difficult Reading Principle clearly favors "Son of God" as addition as that is what orthodox Christianity would strongly prefer. The Patristic External evidence category is always important and here it is even more important than usual as there is only one papyri witness (which supports omission). Prior to the fifth century we have nine Greek Patristic witnesses above who support addition and no Greek witnesses who support original until Cyril of Alexandria early 5th century. Thus the Difficult Reading Principle combined with the dominant Patristic witness for addition, which easily meets the minimum additional evidence requirement, clearly supports "Son of God" as addition.



Monday, August 1, 2016

The William Of Oz

The William Of Oz
Madelein Albright as Dorothy
Richard Rubin as the Scarecrow
William Cohen as the Lion
Alan Greenspan as the Tin Man
Bill Clinton as the Wizard
Special guest appearance by Leona Helmsley as the Good Witch Of
The North.
Bill Clinton wardrobe provided by Hyundi Motors, Ltd.

Story background :
Three new cabinet members who are all (unbeknownst
to them) searching for the same thing begin their journey to Washington
to start their new careers.

Albright :
How will we ever find our way to Washington?

Rubin :
Look, there are some twenty dollar bills over there.

Cohen :
And off in the distance, I think I see some small unmarked bills.
Albright :
(Cupping her hand over her eyes)
And way over yonder, I think I see
some stock certificates for the Indonesian National Oil Company.
(As she scoops up the twentys)
Follow the fund raising trail!

Rubin :
(As he scoops up the small unmarked bills)
Follow the fundraising trail!

All :
Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the fundraising trail!

As our heroes make their way to Washington they all begin singing:

"We're off to see the Wizard, the wonderful William of Oz,
If ever there was a Wizard of Oz, the William of Oz is the one,
Despite the scandals, coverups and screwups,
his approval rating keeps going up and up,
Because, because, because, because, because,
because of the wonderful things he says,
Ha ha ha ha!
We're off to see the Wizard, the wonderful William of Oz."

Albright :
What is that white stuff falling from the sky? Is it snow?

Rubin :
It's not melting. Maybe its Manna.

Cohen :
No, look, (grabs one out of the air) they're faxes. It's from
Clinton. All of the information that we need for our cabinet
positions. They must have dropped them from Air Force 1.

Everyone gathers up all the faxes as they continue to follow the fund raising trail.

Albright : (Reading through the faxes)
There's hardly anything here about
diplomacy, it just talks about how to handle lobbyists.

Rubin :
I don't see anything about fiscal policy, only what to say to

Cohen :
There's absolutely nothing here about defense needs, only a

As the new cabinet members make their way through the Enchanted
Press Forest they begin chanting:

Lobbyists and taxpayers and budgets, oh my!
Lobbyists and taxpayers and budgets, oh my!
Lobbyists and taxpayers and budgets, oh my!

Finally, they arrive at the Emerald White House and meet the President.

Albright :
Mr. President, I just want to tell you what an honor it is for me
and my friends here to be serving in your my cabinet.

Bubba :
Excuse me everyone. Mr. President, Boris Yeltson is on Line 1.

Clinton :
What does he want, another loan?

Bubba :
No sir. He wants you to grant the McDonalds in Moscow a
liquor license.

Clinton :
Tell him I'll call him back.

Bubba :
Yes Mr. President.

Albright :
Mr. President, I was wondering if you could do me a favor. I
want to be Jewish again. Can you send me to Israel first?

Clinton :
Are you crazy? You're already scheduled to go to Cairo,
Amman and Damascus next year. After your little surprise
revelation, how am I suppose to make it up to the Arabs,
appoint Yassir Arafat to the Supreme Court. (Scratches his
chin and arches his eyebrow) Hmmm, I wonder what Arafat
thinks about sitting Presidents being sued? Bubba, make a
note to call Arafat.

Bubba :
Yes Mr. President. Mr. President, Fidel Castro is on Line 2,
he says he wants to talk peace.

Clinton :
Tell him to call me back in thirty years.

Bubba :
Yes Mr. President.

Clinton :
Now listen up everyone. Ya'll being here is my favor to you.
So now it's payback time. Go out into the world and make me
look good.

Bubba :
Mr. President, Buffy is on line 1.

Clinton :
I'll take it on the secure line in the bomb shelter. Now get
going everyone.

Albright is outside the Emerald White House crying and being consoled
by Rubin and Cohen.

Albright :
I'll never get to be Jewish again.

Suddenly, there is a large puff of smoke accompanied by the distinct smell
of Matzoh Ball soup. Appearing out of nowhere is a middle aged women
dressed in standard fairy godmother attire except for the apron and fuzzy slippers.
Albright :
Who are you?

Helmsley :
I'm the Good Witch Of The North.

Albright :
The Good Witch Of North? You look like Golda Meir.

Helmsley :
And you look like Claudia Schiffer? Listen, I'm right in the
middle of an intense scrabble game with the Wicked Witch
Of The West. I'm about to lay down "quixotic" with the x
on triple word score, so let's make this quick. What do you

Albright :
I want to be Jewish again. Purim's coming. I want to dress
up as Esther, bake Hamentashens and take a ritual Mikvah.

Helmsley :
Would you settle for two out of three?

Rubin :

I want to be Jewish again too.

Cohen :
Me too.

Albright :
We all want to be Jewish again, but we've forgotten how.

Helmsley :
You have all forgotten how to be Jewish, but Judaism has
not forgotten you. It still lives in your hearts and your deeds.
Just close your eyes, put your hands on your hearts and say
three times, "there's no place like homeland, there's no
place like homeland, there's no place like homeland."

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Strange Chapter Of Dr. Jewkyll And Mr. Hymn - Day 2

Dearest Diary, this morning I re-read Isaiah Chapter 53 as planned to see if I would start to develop tendencies towards Christian beliefs. Reading Chapter 53 by itself I can almost understand why some Christians think it supports the idea of vicarious atonement although I think a better explanation is that it is merely saying that a person or persons who can maintain good morals and ethics in the face of persecution set a good example for others. Again, when I looked at the surrounding chapters it's clear to me that Chapter 53 describes the nation of Israel and any theme of vicarious atonement in 53 is not supported by the rest of Isaiah. I did not have the rest of the Tanakh available for comparison. Still, I remain curious as to why the Christians consider Chapter 53 to be such good evidence for the truth of Christianity so I've decided to remove Chapter 53 from Isaiah for tomorrow's reading and put the rest of Isaiah in my safety deposit box along with the rest of the Tanakh. No significant unusual behaviour noted although tonight I actually lost to my computer at chess at level 13 in 40 moves. I'm sure this is just a temporary setback. Also, while flipping channels this evening I noticed a show called World Federation Wrestling which looked God-awful. I complained to my cable company that I never ordered this show but they assured me that I've always had it since I've had cable. Strange that I've never noticed it before. 

Once again, I accidentally saw Donald Drumph tonight. Idiot. He may have some small point to make on immigration I suppose. I find him really annoying but maybe he is entertaining.

Sincerely, Dr. Henry Jewkyll

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

John Heller's Catechism-22 (Book review of Walter McCrone's Judgment Day for the Shroud of Turin)

Judgment Day for the Shroud of Turin by Walter C. Mccrone (Author)

"In order to get a supernatural explanation out of the "Shroud", one must be Scientist. But if someone gets a supernatural explanation out of the "Shroud", then one is not Scientist. But in order to..."

*Walter, I'm glad to see that my work was not in vain and that the Pursuit of Truth has finally overtaken perceived truth. The title alone, "Judgment Day For The Shroud Of Turin", is worth the price of the book (30 pieces of silver). The fact that Heller's book, arguing for the authenticity of the Shroud has long since fossilized in the Apologist's Hall Of Fame and gone out of print while your book remains popular kind of says it all.*

The beauty of the book is that while McCrone puts the "Shroud" under the microscope, in a typology which ironically is so crucial to many Church doctrines, McCrone at the same time puts the faith of a Church which believes its leader is infallible but couldn't even tell you if it was going to rain tomorrow under the microscope as well. So, in addition to presenting overwhelming and then some evidence that the "Shroud" is really a shroud the book becomes a wonderful illustration of the nature of Apologetics. Ignore/deny superior tests for supporting conclusions and create/cling to inferior tests supporting assumptions thus placing the usual scientific process backwards (isn't this evidence of Satan?).

If McCrone is guilty of anything it was baiting the Church into thinking that he was exactly the type of scientist wanted by the Church, top credentials but sympathetic to the cause of the Church and determined to prove the Shroud authentic. In his initial letters to Father Rinaldi, offering his services to research the Shroud, McCrone titled his letters, "Authentication Of The Turin Shroud" and wrote, "The provenance for the Shroud is known dependably for more than 600 years with considerable evidence extending this date back to the time of Christ...The protection of this information through proper channels must remain uppermost in our minds...I sincerely hope we may be able to work on this most interesting project and hope that we will be able to obtain data supporting the conclusion that this linen was indeed the one used as Christ's Shroud after the cruxifixion."

As a scientist McCrone should have known before he started his testing that the Shroud was 14th century as he was familiar with the extant letters from the Bishops of Lyons (yes, "Lyons") to the then Pope stating that the creator of the Shroud had confessed that it was a painting (this fact more than any other illustrates the absurdness of the necessity to even test the Shroud for authenticity as the situation is that we have second and third hand evidence that the "Shroud" is a fraud while we have no hand or even foot evidence that there even was a burial shroud of Jesus). Even the supporters of the "Shroud" generally agree that these letters are authentic but they claim that they refer to some other burial Shroud of Jesus near Lyons at the same time (ignore/deny). McCrone had also studied the results of testing by the 1973 Italian Commission, the first group of Scientists, hand picked by the Church, to test the Shroud whose results strongly implied that the Shroud was a 14th century painting. Aside from the conclusive evidence that McCrone found indicating the Shroud was a fraud the Church and Christian scientists involved in the study of the Shroud also came to hate McCrone because they felt that his initial portrayal of being sympathetic to the Church was a false appearance to induce the Church to use him and hid his true belief that the Shroud was a fraud and he wanted to prove that it was to feed his ego and build his reputation as a great scientist.

The bulk of the book consists of McCrone explaining the necessity, procedures, analysis and conclusions of scientific testing of the Shroud in terms easily understandable to the non-scientist and this is where McCrone excels as in addition to superior scientific skills he displays supreme communication skills as a teacher as well. McCrone proves through the use of state of the art microscopic technology that the Shroud image consists almost entirely of paint pigments popular in the 14th century. While generally conceding that there is some paint pigment on the Shroud, supporters of the Shroud deny that the image is a painting because there is no evidence of brushstrokes when examined microscopically. To answer this objection McCrone demonstrated that if the paint was sufficiently diluted in a water base there would be no detectable brushstrokes. McCrone recreated shrouds using the same paint materials used on the Shroud and reported that there were no visible brushstrokes on the recreations and that under the microscope the particles were identical between the recreations and the Shroud and challenged any Shroud supporter to try and tell the difference (a challenge which is still untaken). McCrone next demonstrated that there is no actual blood in the "blood" image areas of the Shroud. Dried blood under the microscope is always black but the blood areas of the Shroud were red. Chemical analysis of the blood image areas also indicated that they lacked major chemical components of blood such as potassium. Shroud supporters, such as Heller, conclude that the blood image areas are blood because they contain some chemical components of blood such as calcium and iron but they ignore that paint pigments also contain calcium and iron. When asked to explain why the usual tests for the presence of blood fail here, such as black color and existence of potassium, they explain that the explanation is some unknown process (ignore/deny).

These then were the two significant conclusions of McCrone, the image is a painting and there is no evidence of blood. McCrone wrote up the results of his testing in articles for peer reviewed and accredited scientific journals and his results are largely accepted by the scientific community at large. McCrone also deals with claims of Shroud supporters who are then forced to rely on inferior issues to support their beliefs. Regarding the common supporter claim that the "Shroud" is a perfect negative image McCrone points out that the hair and blood images of the Shroud are positive, not negative images. The other popular supporter claim is that the Shroud contains a collection of pollens which support a journey from the Middle East, to Turkey and then to Europe. McCrone notes that his examination of the Shroud indicated that the majority of these pollens were concentrated in one extremely limited area of the Shroud and recognizing that he is not a pollen expert provides a special section in his book detailing the report of a pollen expert who has serious doubts as to the credibility of the Scientist (Frei) who reported the pollen findings. McCrone builds such a strong case for the Shroud being a 14th century painting that when McCrone reports towards the end of his book the results of carbon dating showing a 14th century date (surprise) it's actually anti-climactic.

McCrone also describes his impressive credentials, tools and talent for such a project and is quite merciful in describing the lack of corresponding qualifications of his Christian "scientist" opponents instead limiting himself to objectively describing their limited qualifications and use of inferior equipment. John Jackson for instance, perhaps McCrone's biggest critic, had the main qualification for studying the Shroud of being a captain in the U.S. Air Force. Generally, the Christian scientists supporting the Shroud have not had peer reviewed articles published in accredited scientific journals.

McCrone's reward for his work was to be ostracized and shunned by the Church and fellow Christian scientists who in addition to obviously not liking his results were incensed that unlike some predecessors who had similar findings McCrone had the courage to make POSITIVE conclusions ("The Shroud is a 14th century painting") rather than play the Church's game and avoid positive conclusions indicating the Shroud was not authentic ("I did not find evidence that the Shroud is from the 1st century").

In the face of this persecution McCrone displays a timely and welcome sense of humor during his book giving appropriate placed applicable quotes such as Ambrose Bierce's "Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel."

*Walter: Did you ever know you are my hero? You are the cleaning solution beneath my microscope slide. By golly, you and your microscope were right all along. You've convinced me and I hope your book will convince others. With best wishes and keep up the good work.*

Sincerely and free at last, Galileo