Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Daily Update

Weight: 225

Currently Reading (fiction): Sons and Lovers, DH Lawrence.

Currently Reading (non-fiction): Blue like Jazz, Donald Miller.

Currently Listening To: A classical piece on WEKU’s live webstream.

Rush Lyric of the Day: Half the world speaks with half a mind on what they say.

July 4th Update: Went to the in-laws’ house in Florence for July 4th yesterday. It was a beautiful July day, up until about 4 p.m., when it began pissing down with rain. But the food was good and it was nice hanging out with Melanie’s family for a while. Even nicer that I was able to leave as soon as I wanted! I took a bunch of pictures. And have discovered that I am becoming interested in photography as an artistic discipline. Which leads to the next entry....

Photography Update: Since I’ve started taking pictures of my garden, and more recently of Sparrows Down on Midsummer, I’m finding that I’m becoming interested in photography. I took a bunch of pictures yesterday at Sarah’s house of various things, trying to capture the family on the porch with the flowers and trees in view, and looking for "angles" to get good pictures. I ended up stopping on the way home and took some photos of a field of corn, and also of a big paint horse munching on grass by the fence at a nearby horse farm. I’m finding that I catch myself looking at something and thinking, "Oooh, that would make a good picture!" I’m starting to think I may want to get a nice camera with a telephoto lens and the whole deal. Currently, I’m just using my digital camera. I’ll upload some of the photos I took and post them here at a future date.

Food Update: Best to just leave this one empty today, considering my food consumption over the last few days. I will admit that it has included beer, barbecue pork ribs, and buffalo wings. I can practically feel the cholesterol and saturated fat emanating from my pores.

Today in History, July 5th:

1607 – Isaac Newton publishes his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which includes, among other things, his law of universal gravitation. Before the Theory of Gravity, everyone floated and could jump really, really high. That’s why track and field was so much more popular at the ancient Olympics than the snowboarding, curling, and baseball.

1830 – France invades Algeria.

1865 – William Booth founds The Salvation Army by standing on a street corner and begging for money. When no one gives him any, he gets an idea, waits until Christmas, dresses up like Santa Claus, rings a bell, and becomes a millionaire.

1937 – Hormel Foods Corporation throws some lips and assholes into a pot, blends them into a paste, cooks the paste in an oven, then talks a bunch of rednecks in eastern Kentucky into eating it, and thus invents Spam.

1950 – The Law of Return is enacted in Israel, allowing all Jews to immigrate to Israel if they so choose. Turns out to be a really bad idea.

1954 – Elvis Presley has his first recording session, recording Blue Moon of Kentucky, and effectively giving birth to rock n’ roll.

1962 – France says, "Why the hell did we invade this empty, useless desert 132 years ago?" and allows Algeria to have its independence.

1996 – Birth of Dolly the Sheep, the first cloned mammal. She had a long and successful career as a porn star, making such hits as "Farm Fun," "Lambskin," and "Pullin’ Wool," before her untimely death from AIDS in 2003.

2006 – Ken Lay orchestrates his own death, in order to avoid a prison sentence, paying for the massive media cover-up with the millions of dollars he made by stealing from investors.


Becca (Miriya) said...

Hmmm...I realize that pretty much all of today's "Today in History" entries have some elements of joking or sarcasm (more so than usual?), but still, I feel compelled to ask why you think Israel's Law of Return was (in 1950) or is (today) a "really bad idea"?
seems pretty good on covering history, controversies, pros and cons...

As an American Jew who strongly supports separation of religion and state, I'm much happier to be here in the U.S. (for all our faults & craziness) than to be tangling with the religious & political madness of Israel (with its faults and craziness). Given protection for myself and for the practice of my religion, I'd rather be here, in a state that's democratic tout court (even putting up with Conservatives who will argue it's Christian) than in a state that's "Jewish and democratic"--but being born here in the U.S., I have that luxury. Jews escaping postwar anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe or Russia, or fleeing post-colonial Arab lands, didn't. (On the latter, see

Everything has a history. (If not, the Law of Return surely would not have been formulated along the same lines as Hitler's Nuremberg laws, allowing in all those who could have been subject to anti-Jewish persecution: the 1970 amendment to the Law of Return clarifies that the rights it articulates "are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew.") And given that history, I'm not ready to say the Law of Return "turns out to be a really bad idea."

Scott said...

Well, my meaning, of course, was the ongoing tension that the influx of Jews returning to their native land has caused with the Arabs who have lived in that region for centuries. That, of course, really didn't have anything to do with the Law of Return, as Israel was already a country by then and could do what it wanted with its immigration laws. My comment was, indeed, merely sarcastic.

However, unlike most Americans, I am not all that sympathetic with Israel in the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. In no way do I support the terroristic actions of the Palestinians over the years, but neither do I support the warlike and oppressive actions of the Israelis.

I wasn't around in 1947, and I honestly haven't studied all the intricacies of the creation of Israel around that time. I realize the world was attempting to solve the problem of the millions of Jews displaced after World War II. Unfortunately, their solution has (quite predictably) created decades of hatred, tension, death, and destruction. Hardly a viable "solution," particularly if you are a Palestinian, but very much typical of the Judeo-Christian West, doing what suits their own purposes, even at the expense of eastern and Arabic cultures. I wonder, had it been Native Americans that had been the displaced victims of the Holocaust, if they would have been given their own country in the middle of Manhattan, Los Angeles, or Washington D.C., to the detriment of the existing cultural structures there.

Regardless of "who was there first," the Arabs in the Middle East have occupied Palestine for over a thousand years. By the same standards zoologists use to determine "native" species of a continent, that would practically make Arabs "native" to Palestine and the Middle East.

My point is, I don't blame the Palestinians for being angry at having a world organization restrict their borders, take away their sovreignty in certain areas, and give it to another group of people. I don't condone most of their tactics, but I do empathize with their anger at what has happened over the last 5 decades. And when one considers their cultural background and the centuries-old tension between Arabs and Jews, the result of the creation of Israel in the 1940's is not at all surprising.

Becca (Miriya) said...

"I wasn't around in 1947"--well, obviously, neither was I!

But seriously: I think there's a great deal more going on here than bad behavior by the "Judeo-Christian West" (keeping in mind that approx. 10% of the Arab population of pre-1948 Palestine was Christian, and that non-Judeo-Christian and non-Western nations like India and Iran were on part of the UNSCOP decision-making process). The conflict is political, not cultural; post-colonial, not revolutionary. Perhaps we'd all be better off if the UNSCOP minority opinion of a federated one-state solution (with constituent Jewish and Arab states within it) had won out...but it didn't. Or if a sovereign Jewish state had been created somewhere other than on this particularly volatile stretch of land...but it wasn't.

There's an interesting timeline on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (for the PBS documentary Promises) at --which, for controversial/disputed events, gives both a Palestinian perspective (in green) and an Israeli perspective (in blue).

Don't feel compelled to be contrarian because you think "most Americans" are "sympathetic with Israel" (kidding...partly)--or because there's some mighty unreflective anti-Israel sentiment on the left (just as there some mighty unreflective pro-Israel sentiment on the right...along with unreflective pro-Arab sentiment from other segments of the right [e.g. old-school oil-industry types]).

There's a big difference between objecting to particular governmental policies of a state (be it Israel or the U.S.) on the one hand & objecting to the existence of that state on the other. And, of course, between having sympathy/empathy for a particular situation or problem and thinking that this empathy then explains or excuses any action taken (by Israelis or by Palestinians).

As for the "centuries-old tension between Arabs and Jews"--Jews did much better under the (Arab) Muslim caliphate in Spain than under the Christians. I'd say the rise of nationalism (19th-/20th-C.) has much more relevance here than religious track record: there's much more Jewish blood to lay at the feet of Christians in those many centuries, thanks to crusades, pogroms, etc. ... and it's the rhetoric of Christian anti-Semitism that was capitalized on by the Nazis so effectively.
( is interesting on same)

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