Jewish date: 13 Tishri 5770.
Today’s holiday: Holy Protection of the Theotokos (Greek Orthodox Christianity).
Worthy causes of the day: Give blood, please. I just got called asking for a donation of platelets, and I scheduled an appointment for the day after Simḥath Torah. If you can give blood, please do so and save a life. Also: “I SUPPORT A PUBLIC OPTION”, “Call them out: Tell Harry Reid to expose the Democrats who want to filibuster a public option”, “Send a message to your Senators (Support Senate clean energy legislation)”, and “Responsible Teen Sex-Education Programs”.
Progress on my sukkah: Furniture and an electric light have been installed. The decorations are going up today (YHWH willing). Also: see the Dry Bones cartoon “Sukkot (1994)”.
Topic 1: “Jimmy Carter’s Price Tag”. This article by Rav Shmuely Boteach argues that Jimmy Carter is not an anti-Semite. This may sound surprising, considering Carter’s one-sided criticism of Israel (e.g., Palestine Peace Not Apartheid). Rav Boteach argues that Carter is actually a “useful idiot” who takes the moral shortcut of assuming that in any conflict, the weaker of the two parties is always right (“underdogma”). Unless one’s moral system explicitly claims the weak are always right and the strong are always wrong—and I am not aware of any formally declared moral system which does—this is a fallacy. Morality is usually conceived of dealing with how one behaves, and there is nothing impossible or even unlikely about the strong doing good and the weak doing evil. Power simply makes it easier to do evil on a larger scale. However, the ability to do great evil does not always translate into doing great evil. In the Israeli-Arab War (in progress since the 1920s), if Israel has really been committing genocide as its detractors have claimed, it has been doing an unbelievably incompetent job of it. Israel has a larger population, a stronger military, a higher level of education, and more resources than the so-called “Palestinians”. Israel has repeatedly beaten off invading armies. If they really wanted to wipe out the “Palestinians”, who are more of a nuisance to Israeli society than an actual danger, they could have done so easily long ago. Instead, only a few thousand “Palestinians” (at most) have died at Israeli hands—out of a population of a few million. This puts the chances of a “Palestinian” being killed by Israelis in the neighborhood of 0.1%. This is completely inconsistent with genocide; it is completely consistent with Israel fighting a defensive war against the “Palestinians”.
Topic 2: “Israel: As Fanatical as Iran?”: This Honest Reporting report documents a variation on tu quoque (“Hey, Israel’s just as bad as Iran. Why aren’t you picking on them instead?”), a bizarre accusation involving chewing gun, and one-sidedness in the Goldstone Report.
Topic 3: They had another episode of Eastwick on television last night, “Reaping and Sewing”, and you must all now suffer along with me. I am kicking myself (figuratively) over not realizing before my last Eastwick post that the concept of working magic via wishes is very similar to the concept behind the monstrously stupid film and book The Secret, in which one is supposed to get whatever one thinks about (“the law of attraction”, which apparently does not work for me). In the world of Eastwick, however, Darryl claims that it really does work for Joanna. In this episode, Joanna continues her investigation of Darryl van Horne and strongly suspects that he has stolen the identity of a dead child; Darryl has certainly done something magical to cover up his true past, and it is not like Satan would have his own birth certificate or Social Security number. The rest of the theology and magic is pretty much the same as in the previous episode: premonitions, the ethics of controlling other people through magic, and unintended conjuring.
Time for me to move on to other things I have to do...