Friday, January 2, 2009

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock. In some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 26th, but in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o'clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.

The children assembled first, of course. School was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them; they tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke into boisterous play. And their talk was still of the classroom and the teacher, of books and reprimands.

Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones; Bobby and Harry Jones and Dickie Delacroix-- the villagers pronounced this name "Dellacroy"--eventually made a great pile of stones in one corner of the square and guarded it against the raids of the other boys. The girls stood aside, talking among themselves, looking over their shoulders at the boys. And the very small children rolled in the dust or clung to the hands of their older brothers or sisters.

Soon the men began to gather, surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes. They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed.

The women, wearing faded house dresses and sweaters, came shortly after their menfolk. They greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip as they went to join their husbands. Soon the women, standing by their husbands, began to call to their children, and the children came reluctantly, having to be called four or five times. Bobby Martin ducked under his mother's grasping hand and ran, laughing, back to the pile of stones. His father spoke up sharply, and Bobby came quickly and took his place between his father and his oldest brother.

The lottery was conducted--as were the square dances, the teenage club, the Halloween program--by Mr. Summers, who had time and energy to devote to civic activities. He was a round-faced, jovial man and he ran the coal business. And people were sorry for him because he had no children and his wife was a scold.

When he arrived in the square, carrying the black wooden box, there was a murmur of conversation among the villagers, and he waved and called. "Little late today, folks." The postmaster, Mr. Graves, followed him, carrying a three- legged stool, and the stool was put in the center of the square and Mr. Summers set the black box down on it. The villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool. And when Mr. Summers said, "Some of you fellows want to give me a hand?" there was a hesitation before two men, Mr. Martin and his oldest son, Baxter, came forward to hold the box steady on the stool while Mr. Summers stirred up the papers inside it.

The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born. Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box. There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here. Every year, after the lottery, Mr. Summers began talking again about a new box, but every year the subject was allowed to fade off without anything's being done.

The black box grew shabbier each year: by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained.

Mr. Martin and his oldest son, Baxter, held the black box securely on the stool until Mr. Summers had stirred the papers thoroughly with his hand. Because so much of the ritual had been forgotten or discarded, Mr. Summers had been successful in having slips of paper substituted for the chips of wood that had been used for generations. Chips of wood, Mr. Summers had argued, had all been very well when the village was tiny, but now that the population was more than three hundred and likely to keep on growing. It was necessary to use something that would fit more easily into the black box. The night before the lottery, Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves made up the slips of paper and put them in the box, and it was taken to the safe of Mr. Summers' coal company and locked up until Mr. Summers was ready to take it to the square the next morning. The rest of the year, the box was put way, sometimes one place, sometimes another. It had spent one year in Mr. Graves' barn and another year underfoot in the post office. And sometimes it was set on a shelf in the Martin grocery and left there.

There was a great deal of fussing to be done before Mr. Summers declared the lottery open. There were the lists to make up--of heads of families, heads of households in each family, members of each household in each family. There was the proper swearing-in of Mr. Summers by the postmaster, as the official of the lottery. At one time, some people remembered, there had been a recital of some sort, performed by the official of the lottery, a perfunctory, tuneless chant that had been rattled off duly each year. Some people believed that the official of the lottery used to stand just so when he said or sang it, others believed that he was supposed to walk among the people, but years and years ago this part of the ritual had been allowed to lapse. There had been, also, a ritual salute, which the official of the lottery had had to use in addressing each person who came up to draw from the box, but this had also changed with time, until now it was felt necessary only for the official to speak to each person approaching.

Mr. Summers was very good at all this. In his clean white shirt and blue jeans, with one hand resting carelessly on the black box, he seemed very proper and important as he talked interminably to Mr. Graves and the Martins.

Just as Mr. Summers finally left off talking and turned to the assembled villagers, Mrs. Hutchinson came hurriedly along the path to the square, her sweater thrown over her shoulders, and slid into place in the back of the crowd.

"Clean forgot what day it was," she said to Mrs. Delacroix, who stood next to her, and they both laughed softly. "Thought my old man was out back stacking wood," Mrs. Hutchinson went on, "I looked out the window and the kids was gone, and then I remembered it was the twenty-seventh and came a-running."

She dried her hands on her apron, and Mrs. Delacroix said, "You're in time, though. They're still talking away up there."

Mrs. Hutchinson craned her neck to see through the crowd and found her husband and children standing near the front. She tapped Mrs. Delacroix on the arm as a farewell and began to make her way through the crowd. The people separated good-humoredly to let her through. Two or three people said, in voices just loud enough to be heard across the crowd, "Here comes your Missus, Hutchinson," and "Bill, she made it after all." Mrs. Hutchinson reached her husband, and Mr. Summers, who had been waiting, said cheerfully: "Thought we were going to have to get on without you, Tessie." Mrs. Hutchinson said, grinning, "Wouldn't have me leave m'dishes in the sink, now, would you, Joe?," and soft laughter ran through the crowd as the people stirred back into position after Mrs. Hutchinson's arrival.

"Well, now." Mr. Summers said soberly, "guess we better get started, get this over with, so's we can get back to work. Anybody ain't here?"

"Dunbar," several people said. "Dunbar, Dunbar."

Mr. Summers consulted his list. "Clyde Dunbar," he said. "That's right. He's broke his leg, hasn't he? Who's drawing for him?"

"Me. I guess," a woman said, and Mr. Summers turned to look at her. "Wife draws for her husband." Mr. Summers said. "Don't you have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?" Although Mr. Summers and everyone else in the village knew the answer perfectly well, it was the business of the official of the lottery to ask such questions formally. Mr. Summers waited with an expression of polite interest while Mrs. Dunbar answered. "Horace's not but sixteen yet." Mrs. Dunbar said regretfully. "Guess I gotta fill in for the old man this year."

"Right," Mr. Summers said. He made a note on the list he was holding. Then he asked, "Watson boy drawing this year?"

A tall boy in the crowd raised his hand. "Here," he said. "I'm drawing for my mother and me." He blinked his eyes nervously and ducked his head as several voices in the crowd said things like "Good fellow, Jack," and "Glad to see your mother's got a man to do it."

"Well," Mr. Summers said, "guess that's everyone. Old Man Warner make it?"

"Here," a voice said, and Mr. Summers nodded.

A sudden hush fell on the crowd as Mr. Summers cleared his throat and looked at the list. "All ready?" he called. "Now, I'll read the names--heads of families first--and the men come up and take a paper out of the box. Keep the paper folded in your hand without looking at it until everyone has had a turn. Everything clear?"

The people had done it so many times that they only half listened to the directions: most of them were quiet, wetting their lips, not looking around. Then Mr. Summers raised one hand high and said, "Adams." A man disengaged himself from the crowd and came forward. "Hi Steve," Mr. Summers said, and Mr. Adams said "Hi Joe." They grinned at one another humorlessly and nervously. Then Mr. Adams reached into the black box and took out a folded paper. He held it firmly by one corner as he turned and went hastily back to his place in the crowd, where he stood a little apart from his family, not looking down at his hand.

"Allen," Mr. Summers said. "Anderson.... Bentham."

"Seems like there's no time at all between lotteries any more." Mrs. Delacroix said to Mrs. Graves in the back row.

"Seems like we got through with the last one only last week."

"Time sure goes fast." Mrs. Graves said.

"Clark.... Delacroix"

"There goes my old man." Mrs. Delacroix said. She held her breath while her husband went forward.

"Dunbar," Mr. Summers said, and Mrs. Dunbar went steadily to the box while one of the women said. "Go on, Janey," and another said, "There she goes."

"We're next." Mrs. Graves said. She watched while Mr. Graves came around from the side of the box, greeted Mr. Summers gravely and selected a slip of paper from the box. By now, all through the crowd there were men holding the small folded papers in their large hand, turning them over and over nervously. Mrs. Dunbar and her two sons stood together, Mrs. Dunbar holding the slip of paper.

"Harburt.... Hutchinson."

"Get up there, Bill," Mrs. Hutchinson said. And the people near her laughed.


"They do say," Mr. Adams said to Old Man Warner, who stood next to him, "that over in the north village they're talking of giving up the lottery."

Old Man Warner snorted. "Pack of crazy fools," he said. "Listening to the young folks, nothing's good enough for them. Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while.

Used to be a saying about 'Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.' First thing you know, we'd all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There's always been a lottery," he added petulantly. "Bad enough to see young Joe Summers up there joking with everybody."

"Some places have already quit lotteries," Mrs. Adams said.

"Nothing but trouble in that," Old Man Warner said stoutly. "Pack of young fools."

"Martin." And Bobby Martin watched his father go forward. "Overdyke.... Percy."

"I wish they'd hurry," Mrs. Dunbar said to her older son. "I wish they'd hurry."

"They're almost through," her son said.

"You get ready to run tell Dad," Mrs. Dunbar said.

Mr. Summers called his own name and then stepped forward precisely and selected
a slip from the box. Then he called, "Warner."

"Seventy-seventh year I been in the lottery," Old Man Warner said as he went through the crowd. "Seventy-seventh time."

"Watson." The tall boy came awkwardly through the crowd. Someone said, "Don't be
nervous, Jack," and Mr. Summers said, "Take your time, son."


After that, there was a long pause, a breathless pause, until Mr. Summers, holding his slip of paper in the air, said, "All right, fellows." For a minute, no one moved, and then all the slips of paper were opened. Suddenly, all the women began to speak at once, saying, "Who is it?," "Who's got it?," "Is it the Dunbars?," "Is it the Watsons?" Then the voices began to say, "It's Hutchinson. It's Bill," "Bill Hutchinson's got it."

"Go tell your father," Mrs. Dunbar said to her older son.

People began to look around to see the Hutchinsons. Bill Hutchinson was standing quiet, staring down at the paper in his hand. Suddenly, Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers: "You didn't give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn't fair!" "Be a good sport, Tessie." Mrs. Delacroix called, and Mrs. Graves said, "All of us took the same chance."

"Shut up, Tessie," Bill Hutchinson said.

"Well, everyone," Mr. Summers said, "that was done pretty fast, and now we've got to be hurrying a little more to get done in time." He consulted his next list. "Bill," he said, "you draw for the Hutchinson family. You got any other households in the Hutchinsons?"

"There's Don and Eva," Mrs. Hutchinson yelled. "Make them take their chance!"

"Daughters draw with their husbands' families, Tessie," Mr. Summers said gently. "You know that as well as anyone else."

"It wasn't fair," Tessie said.

"I guess not, Joe," Bill Hutchinson said regretfully. "My daughter draws with her husband's family; that's only fair. And I've got no other family except the kids."

"Then, as far as drawing for families is concerned, it's you," Mr. Summers said in explanation, "and as far as drawing for households is concerned, that's you, too. Right?"

"Right," Bill Hutchinson said.

"How many kids, Bill?" Mr. Summers asked formally.

"Three," Bill Hutchinson said. "There's Bill, Jr., and Nancy, and little Dave. And Tessie and me."

"All right, then," Mr. Summers said. "Harry, you got their tickets back?"

Mr. Graves nodded and held up the slips of paper. "Put them in the box, then," Mr. Summers directed. "Take Bill's and put it in."

"I think we ought to start over," Mrs. Hutchinson said, as quietly as she could.

"I tell you it wasn't fair. You didn't give him time enough to choose. Everybody saw that."

Mr. Graves had selected the five slips and put them in the box, and he dropped all the papers but those onto the ground, where the breeze caught them and lifted them off.

"Listen, everybody," Mrs. Hutchinson was saying to the people around her.

"Ready, Bill?" Mr. Summers asked, and Bill Hutchinson, with one quick glance around at his wife and children, nodded.

"Remember," Mr. Summers said, "take the slips and keep them folded until each person has taken one. Harry, you help little Dave." Mr. Graves took the hand of the little boy, who came willingly with him up to the box. "Take a paper out of the box, Davy," Mr. Summers said. Davy put his hand into the box and laughed.

"Take just one paper," Mr. Summers said. "Harry, you hold it for him." Mr. Graves took the child's hand and removed the folded paper from the tight fist and held it while little Dave stood next to him and looked up at him wonderingly.

"Nancy next," Mr. Summers said. Nancy was twelve, and her school friends breathed heavily as she went forward switching her skirt, and took a slip daintily from the box. "Bill, Jr.," Mr. Summers said, and Billy, his face red and his feet overlarge, nearly knocked the box over as he got a paper out. "Tessie," Mr. Summers said. She hesitated for a minute, looking around defiantly, and then set her lips and went up to the box. She snatched a paper out and held it behind her.

"Bill," Mr. Summers said, and Bill Hutchinson reached into the box and felt around, bringing his hand out at last with the slip of paper in it.

The crowd was quiet. A girl whispered, "I hope it's not Nancy," and the sound of the whisper reached the edges of the crowd.

"It's not the way it used to be," Old Man Warner said clearly. "People ain't the way they used to be."

"All right," Mr. Summers said. "Open the papers. Harry, you open little Dave's."

Mr. Graves opened the slip of paper and there was a general sigh through the crowd as he held it up and everyone could see that it was blank. Nancy and Bill, Jr., opened theirs at the same time, and both beamed and laughed, turning around to the crowd and holding their slips of paper above their heads.

"Tessie," Mr. Summers said. There was a pause, and then Mr. Summers looked at Bill Hutchinson, and Bill unfolded his paper and showed it. It was blank.

"It's Tessie," Mr. Summers said, and his voice was hushed. "Show us her paper, Bill."

Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand. It had a black spot on it, the black spot Mr. Summers had made the night before with the heavy pencil in the coal company office. Bill Hutchinson held it up, and there was a stir in the crowd.

"All right, folks." Mr. Summers said. "Let's finish quickly."

Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones. The pile of stones the boys had made earlier was ready; there were stones on the ground with the blowing scraps of paper that had come out of the box. Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands and turned to Mrs. Dunbar. "Come on," she said. "Hurry up."

Mr. Dunbar had small stones in both hands, and she said, gasping for breath, "I can't run at all. You'll have to go ahead and I'll catch up with you."

The children had stones already. And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles.

Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. "It isn't fair," she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head. Old Man Warner was saying, "Come on, come on, everyone." Steve Adams was in the front of the crowd of villagers, with Mrs. Graves beside him.

"It isn't fair, it isn't right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chatting with Moses, Vol. 2: Agnosticism & Revelation

Had some more fun with a rabbi over @ Once again, I've removed the rabbi's name for the sake of anonymity:

Me: In G-ds view, is it worse to be an atheist, agnostic or idol worshipper?

Rabbi: Welcome. I'll be with you in a moment...what's on your mind*

Rabbi: I really do not know

Rabbi: because ultimately each of those 3 are worshipping themselves

Me: I would assume that the worst would be to be an idol worshipper since it involves an act.

Me: How is agnosticism equivalent to worshiping one's self?

Rabbi: because they cannot bring themselves to worship a higher being that they claim they cannot understand

Rabbi: so they are worshipping themselves

Me: But to worship something means to hold it as a holy object or deity. Agnostics don't do that. They don't worship at all.

Me: Whereas idol worshipers do.

Rabbi: We are still connected. As I am currently chatting with 5 people please be patient.

Rabbi: yes they do worship, they worship what they think is their intellect

Me: But that's like saying a doctor (regardless of if he's frum or not) is worshiping himself if he's unsure as to how to perform a certain procedure. I don't understand the connection between uncertainty and self-worship.

Rabbi: uncertainty is a gimmick the agnostic uses, he cannot let go of himslef to believe, nothing to do with uncertainty

Warning : You have been inactive for 4 minutes. Unless there is a resumption of activity, in one minute you will be automatically disconnected from the AskMoses chat system.*

Me: Well, if the agnostic is not certain of any particular theology, what else is he besides "uncertain"? Perhaps this person has difficulty in believing something that he or she is unable to experience, be it physically or spiritually. What else is that person to do but be uncertain?

Me: In other words, I don't think that just because someone finds it difficult to believe in G-d, that they are automatically "caught up in themselves".

Rabbi: I have not forgotten about you. We are currently experiencing high volume of traffic, please continue to hold.*

Rabbi: that is an excuse. Agnostics go to the doctor and take medicine on pure faith, they have no idea if it will work or how it will work. An agnostic uses faith on a daily basis, just when it comes to G-d all of a sudden they don't know and can't go further

Me: What? I don't think there's even a comparison! The results of medicine can be proven in numbers and other statistics. The existence of G-d can not.

Rabbi: they maybe can be proven, but the patient has not studied these proofs

Me: But the doctor has. And the doctor can assure the patient that all will be well if he or she takes the medicine.

Rabbi: but the patient is still working on faith

Me: Yes, but it's not faith in some deity which can't be seen. It's faith/assurance in a doctor which can directly tell the patient the benefits of the medicine, person-to-person.

Rabbi: what difference does it make in what the faith is, it is still faith for that person

Me: But it's a different kind of faith. Faith in science isn't really faith. It's about probability. If I tell you there is a 99.999% chance that a certain medicine will help you, you'd probably take it if there is verifiable proof of this claim. G-d, on the other hand, doesn't work like that. No numbers are given. It's all on you. It's quite a burden. And many people aren't willing to take that blind step.

Me: I guess what the root of my question is this: How is an agnostic expected to find G-d if he or she is the kind of person who values rational thought over faith?

Rabbi: is history faith

Me: In certain ways, yes.

Me: At least the re-telling of history.

Rabbi: so you do not believe in history?

Rabbi: did George Washington exist

Me: I'm doubtful about certain parts of history.

Rabbi: how about Aristotle, did he exist

Me: I don't see why not.

Me: Sure.

Rabbi: why do you say he existed

Me: Because to my knowledge there are no respectable claims that he DIDN'T exist. The claims that he DID exist far outweigh any possible claims that he DIDN'T. Plus we have books written by him, books by others which quote him etc.

Rabbi: how do you know he wrote them, maybe they are a fraud

Me: Maybe they are. But most qualified historians would argue otherwise.

Rabbi: and what makes them qualified

Me: Knowledge of what is known of history, which has been passed down throughout the centuries.

Rabbi: and how is the Torah any different?

Me: Fair point. But then I would ask: How is the Qur'an any different?

Me: (And the Kur'an is more recent)

Me: *Qur'an/Kur'an however you spell it

Rabbi: I have no knowledge of the Koran and for all I know it may not be different, a totally irrelevant issue to what we are talking about

Me: It's not irrelevant. You're saying that the Torah was passed down through history and should thus be considered fact because of this. I would then put forward the instance of the Koran, or even the recent books of Scientology. I'm not debating whether or not these books existed, if that's what you're asking.

Me: An agnostic would say that the Torah is a part of history just as the Koran is; just as the story of Humpty Dumpty is etc.

Rabbi: I said nothing of the Torah being passed down, these are your views and you are trying to impose them on me

Me: Okay, okay. What then was your point in asking "How is the Torah any different?" Maybe I didn't understand your line of questioning...

Rabbi: BTW, how is Humpty Dumpty part of history

Me: Because it's folklore. It's a part of a culture.

Rabbi: last I checked folklore is NOT history

Me: Well, is the "blood libel" against the Jews part of history? Yes. Just because it's a made-up story doesn't mean it's not a part of history.

Rabbi: the blood libel is not folklore, and the libels were not based on fact, but they still happened

Me: Correct. But the story that Jews would kill a Christian boy to make Matzah (absolutely bizarre and unfounded) existed. And that was the basis for the libels.

Me: Thus making it a PART of history.

Rabbi: correct, and so what

Rabbi: so you had a few anti-semites making up a story

Me: Couldn't the same be said about the nonsensical book of scientology?

Me: ...or Islam? ...or Christianity?

Me: And with this following of logic, the agnostic has a justifiable claim to believe that Judaism may be dubious as well.

Rabbi: no comparison whatsoever

Rabbi: may I ask you how many people allegedly saw jc resurrected?

Me: I know very little about Christianity. I don't know.

Rabbi: 5

Rabbi: allegedly claimed to have seen this

Me: Okay. What's your point?

Rabbi: how many people heard the revelation that started the mormon religion?

Me: 1, I believe.

Rabbi: correct, Smith was the only one

Me: Okay...

Rabbi: how many people saw the revelation at Mt. Sinai?

Me: Good point, and my friend countered that with this: How many people saw Abraham go on the mountain to kill Isaac and NOT Ishmael (or vice versa)?

Me: In other words, how can we prove that the Muslim claim is wrong and the Torah's claim is correct

Me: There's no way, really.

Rabbi: I am not talking about Abraham and it makes no difference to what I am saying

Me: I think it does, but okay..... The whole nation of Israel saw the revelation @ Mt. Sinai.

Rabbi: how is it relevant, please

Me: Because the Torah could say that ____ saw this. But another book can say that ____ saw that. I use the example of Isaac & Ishmael because it's a conflicting opinion between the Torah and the Koran. One says Avraham binded Isaac. The other says Avraham binded Ishmael. The lay person would find difficulty is laying claim to one over the other.

Rabbi: Judaism is not based on Abraham taking Isaac or Ishmael, it is based on the revelation at Mt. Sinai

Me: Fine. But the notion of conflicting stories between the Torah and Koran comes up, meaning that if one is proven to be true, the other holy book is thus rendered false and made-up.

Me: So suppose the Abraham/Ishmael story is somehow proven to be true, then that means the Torah is false.

Rabbi: how do you propose to prove something that happened over 3000 years ago, either way

Me: I don't! Not at all! But a lay person (not bound to either Judaism or Islam) judging between the two stories can come to the conclusion that since there are conflicting narratives which alter the religion itself, AT LEAST ONE of these religions is automatically false (by process of elimination).

Me: 2+2 = 4 & 2 = 2=5 can not both be true.

Me: * 2+2 = 4 and 2+2 = 5

Rabbi: but the Abraham story is not the basis of Judaism, so it is not relevant

Me: But if there's even ONE story in the Torah which is untrue, that essentially renders it completely false since it comes from G-d and should thus be "perfect".

Me: This applies to any other presumed holy book which "comes from G-d" be it the New Testament, the Koran etc.

Rabbi: you are fixating on this and it has nothing to do with the revelation at Mt, Sinai

Me: Okay. What's the point you're trying to prove regarding the revelation @ Mt. Sinai

Rabbi: I asked you about that event and you throw in this side issue that cannot be proven one way or the other

Rabbi: that it was an event witnessed by three million people

Me: That's my point!

Me: Neither can the revelation!

Rabbi: you are changing your tune now

Me: Neither Akeidat Yitzchak NOR the revelation can be proven.

Me: Wouldn't you agree?

Rabbi: before you said, "good point"

Rabbi: now it is not a "good point"?

Rabbi: you changed your mind pretty quickly here

Me: No, it's still a good point.

Me: But it leads to my connection with the Akeidah.

Me: Whether it's an entire nation or 0 people, neither story can be proven true.

Rabbi: so how do you compare an event witnessed by 3 million people to the Akeidah which had 2 people

Me: Because neither of the two can be proven to be true.

Rabbi: so where is the "good point"?

Me: The good point is that, like I said, whether it's an entire nation of 3 million people or 2 people... the story can still not be proven to be true.

Rabbi: you have an amazing ability to twist words to mean whatever works for you at the time

Me: Okay, okay, let's back up for a second.

Rabbi: Aristotle was seen by how many people?

Rabbi: but you have no problem BELIEVING he existed, or at least that is what you said before

Rabbi: of course you can now show me that is really not what you meant before

Me: It's not a question of belief in the same sense that it would be with an invisible deity.

Rabbi: so I will be patient and wait to hear your new interpratation of Aristotle

Rabbi: did Aristotle exist?

Rabbi: yes, no , maybe or "I don't know", which one is your answer?

Me: I don't have a new interpretation of Aristotle. Generally speaking, there's one solid belief that Aristotle existed. Theology on the other hand, has thousands if not millions of different opinions.

Me: I don't see the connection you're trying to make.

Rabbi: of course you don't, because you do not want to, but I will perservere, if you want me to

Rabbi: did Aristotle exist?

Me: Sure. If you've got the time.

Rabbi: Aristotle, yes, no, maybe? Which one?

Me: I rely on the proof that he did. So I would say "Yes".

Rabbi: and the proof is based on a number of people seeing him, correct?

Rabbi: plus things that he allegedly wrote and people claiming that he indeed wrote them

Me: Correct.

Rabbi: correct?

Me: Yes.

Rabbi: so, let's say that 10,000 people saw our friend Aristotle, I have no idea of a real number, but let's use that number, that is for you (and me) pretty good proof that he was real?

Me: It's not necessarily the number of people who saw him that's of importance.

Rabbi: so what is important?

Me: For instance: If 0 people see a hermit who lives alone in the woods, does this mean the hermit does not exist?

Me: Quality/Quantity. I think that what is important is the quality of proof.

Rabbi: zero people does not prove or disprove, how does that help our friend Aristotle?

Rabbi: and what proof do we have for Aristotle?

Rabbi: quality wise?

Me: Sculptures. Writings by himself and others. New ideas attributed only to him.

Rabbi: and why could not a small group of people get together and perpetrate a hoax and he really never existed?

Me: Technically they could have.

Rabbi: OK, so why do you believe that it is not a hoax?

Me: That's where you get into conspiracy theory region, and most would label you crazy.

Rabbi: many people have labeled me crazy, I can handle that :)

Me: Ha!

Me: Okay, but then the same could be said about 9/11 and so on...

Me: It's a very marginal opinion.

Me: Another example: There are still people who believe that the earth is flat.

Rabbi: but why is it marginal, how does something go from being marginal to being mainstream

Me: That's a difficult question to answer.

Me: Proof, I suppose. The more proof you have for something, the more support you have for your claim.

Rabbi: how do you have more proof

Me: Well suppose you have hearsay/word of mouth of something... That's not enough. But if you locate a document or sculpture of something, that proof has more validity and credibility.

Me: Levels of proof, I suppose.

Rabbi: really does not take away from the conspiracy theory, does it

Rabbi: ultimately you say if it sounds plausible and you have no great reason not to believe that it is true, it is probably true

Me: In other words, if I tell you that Mr. X said "such and such" You might believe me. But if I bring you a video of him saying it, you have more proof.

Rabbi: videos definitely help, but we had no videos back then

Me: Maybe G-d should have waited a few more years... ;D

Rabbi: plus today banks will not accept attached documents in an email but they will acceopt that document as a fax, one is easier to forge than the other

Rabbi: wouldn't have much free will then, but that is another discussion that we are not going there now

Me: Okay.

Rabbi: as it is very late

Me: Am I keeping you?

Rabbi: so, ultimately, things that happened a long time ago are hard to prove

Rabbi: yes?

Me: Is it too late?

Rabbi: but if they sound plausable and we have no reason to think there is a hoax going on, then we tend to believe, yes?

Me: Sure.

Me: There still might be a doubt in the back of your mind, but you push it aside.

Rabbi: I am filling in for another scholar for the last 3 hours, so yes, it is late. Soon I will conk out, sorry

Rabbi: correct

Rabbi: so, all I am saying is that the more people that witness an event the more likely I am to believe that that event happened

Rabbi: John Smith is one guy, I am skeptical

Rabbi: the 5 apostles, only 5, I am skeptical

Me: But none of those people ever spoke to you.

Me: The 3 million.

Rabbi: teh Koran, no clue as I have no knowledge about it

Rabbi: none of the people who saw Aristotle spoke to me either and I will take a wild guess and say that they did not speak to you either

Me: True, but we have documents from the people around them. The 3 million Jews who witnessed the revelation left nothing behind.

Rabbi: last I checked, the Torah scroll looks like a document to me

Me: Yes, but it wasn't written by the 3 million Jews.

Rabbi: imagine the following scenario

Rabbi: you are at a rally. There are 20 people that showed up.

Rabbi: The next day the paper says that there were 2000 people, you say, wait a minute, that is a lie

Rabbi: they can't get away with such a brazen lie

Rabbi: the Jews were at Mt, Sinai and they told there children and grandchildren the same story

Me: Well, technically they can.

Rabbi: otherwise we have an amazingly big conspiracy that has never been carried out by any other group

Me: Can you prove it was 3 million and not 30?

Rabbi: every religion known to man has started with a handful or less of people claiming a revelation, Judaism is the ONLY one which has the 3 million people claim

Rabbi: prove, sure, the same way I prove Aristotle

Rabbi: and it is now midnight and I am actually beyond tired, and I can prove that by collapsing now, but you cannot see me collapse, so I hope you believe me

Rabbi: COme again, but I really need to go now

Rabbi: sorry

Me: Heh. Maybe I'll come back another time and we can pick this up.

Me: Sleep well!

Rabbi: it was interesting chatting with you, even though it does not seem that I got anywhere

Me: It's still nice to be able to talk to someone about these things. Few people could bare dealing with so many questions without giving up within 10 minutes.

Me: ;D

Rabbi: w ehave been doing this for 100 minutes

Rabbi: come again

Rabbi: take care

Me: Thanks.

* automated/computer response

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chatting with Moses, Vol. 1: Voting & Democracy

Had some fun tonight with a rabbi over @ I've removed the rabbi's name for the sake of anonymity; anyways, check it out:

Me: Who should I vote for? Barack Obama or John McCain?

Rabbi: Welcome. Please type your question and I will respond shortly.*

Rabbi: How do you know that I am the right person to ask?

Me: Halachically speaking, that is. Politics aside.

Rabbi: The shulchan aruch says nothing about it

Me: Clearly. But based on the knowledge gained from studying the Torah and other sources, which of the two are the "better" choice. Who would Moses vote for? ;D

Rabbi: Moses didn't believe in democracy

Me: That's true. I've once been told by a rabbi that in fact, democracy is incompatible with the Torah to begin with.

Me: So does that mean that frum Jews shouldn't vote? I believe the Pirkei Avot also mention straying from government, correct?

Rabbi: We don't give voting advice here one way or the other

Me: I'm not really asking for advice. Strictly based on the blueprint set forth by halachah of various sources, is it preferable that we disassociate ourselves with government and/or voting, or should we in fact get involved (by voting, supporting candidates etc.)?

Rabbi: We are still connected. As I am currently chatting with 5 people please be patient.*

Rabbi: I have not forgotten about you. We are currently experiencing high volume of traffic, please continue to hold.*

Rabbi: I will not give opinions on this matter

Warning : You have been inactive for 4 minutes. Unless there is a resumption of activity, in one minute you will be automatically disconnected from the AskMoses chat system.*

Me: But I thought you said that Moses opposed (or "didn't believe in") democracy. So that would lead me to believe that we should oppose it too. Right?

Rabbi: I just made a statement it wasn't meant to direct you on your voting

Me: Fine. So forget voting, then. On the issue of democracy: is it true that it is incompatible with the way in which the Torah and other scholars teach us to structure our lives as a community

Me: ?

Rabbi: In some ways yes

Me: How do we reconcile this conflict?

Rabbi: We don't have a choice in the matter

Me: What do you mean? Even Yisroel is ruled as a democracy, and that's supposed to be our homeland. Would it be too far-fetched for frum Jews in Yisroel to demand the abolishment of democracy in the homeland?

Me: Surely we have a choice in THAT matter: Israel.

Rabbi: I really don't want to continue this conversation

Me: I understand it's an uncomfortable topic of discussion, but wouldn't you admit that it's a fair question to be asking? The fact that no one is willing to answer these questions (I've asked other Rebbeim as well) is very unnerving...

Me: Hello?

Me: Alright..... well, shavua tov........... ;-|

* automated/computer response

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Applying Then to Now: 'Chicago 10' (A Film Review)

I'm an 80's baby. I can't reminisce over the passion and energy of my parent's generation; I can only revel in its mythical aura, retrospectively, somewhat enviously. Activating the youth and mobilizing a movement, the luminary rebels and anti-war rabble-rousers of decades past took to the streets, literally, to demand their rights and actualize a new wave of young visionaries to carry the flag. To many people my age, this seems like ancient history. Too often has my generation been labeled "complacent", "egotistical" or overly "cynical." Truth be told, however, these critiques aren't too much of a stretch. But the way in which our society is built, this cynicism and complacency has clearly been facilitated by the constant bombardment of celebrity gossip, steroid controversies and other nonsensical, trivial tripe - all while masking the real issues, such as health care, education, the economy and the dreadful black hole that is the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our "authorities" have done nothing to stir up the youth, and the few leaders who have expressed interest in carrying on this mission, have gained little to no traction from both the media and the people. In the words of Black Thought from The Roots:

When the leaders is posers, we needing some soldiers
'Why? (What's Goin' On?)'

This weekend, I went out to the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles to check out 'Chicago 10', a documentary about the Chicago Seven (also known as the Chicago Eight ... confusing, I know), a collective of protest leaders who were charged with conspiracy and other trumped up allegations. The group comprised of the following activists: Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, Rennie Davis, David Dellinger, Lee Weiner, John Froines and Bobby Seale. The film does a masterful job of contrasting nearly forty-year-old footage of speeches, marches, protests and other important scenes, with the notable court room scenarios and hysterics that took place during the actual trial. The scenes in the court room are animated, as there is no video recorded footage of the actual hearing(s). Panning in and out of the court room, director Brett Morgen shows how real it truly was out on the streets. Footage of nightstick-wielding police officers hammering away at peaceful protesters is a tough sight to see. The image of an elderly woman chanting "We Shall Overcome" while getting shoved into the back of a police van will make you cringe and make you internally recite those three famous words from N.W.A.

Viewed from a historical perspective, the film captures that raw energy and emotion that burned so bright roughly four decades ago. To many, it seems like this flame has long been extinguished. But the director and music department made a wise choice in selecting their soundtrack. Archival video of Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin and the other leaders delivering their passionate orations over the guitar riffs and chants of Rage Against the Machine, for instance, make the experience feel contemporary and very real for this moment. In fact, a climactic moment of the film, for me at least, involved a very significant protest scene with an equally fitting audio backdrop. The image of scores of people stomping through the streets and parks of Chicago, blended with the anthemic rallying of Eminem's 'Mosh' felt so palpable. So real... So now... The director's choice of including the famous "Fuck Bush" felt quite suitable, to say the least. ;-D

The film takes you to a far-out place in the past, while keeping you comfortable with the fun animation technology and provocative soundscapes of the present. The message of the film is very powerful and reminds me of that great Patti Smith song: "People have the power!" Like the Black Thought quote that was mentioned above, it's evident that it all comes down to the people. Only we have the ability to change and shape our destiny. Gandhi once said: "We must become the change we want to see in the world." Borrowing from this philosophy, Barack Obama recently exclaimed: "We are the ones we've been waiting for!"

The message of hope, the message of change... it's real.

It's real... if you want it.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Message from Fidel Castro [February 18th, 2008]

Comandante Fidel Castro issued a statement today, resigning himself from office, yet retaining his revolutionary force and "reflections." He posted his message on Cuba's leading newspaper, Granma, today. Here is the article from the website, translated in English:

Dear compatriots:

Last Friday, February 15, I promised you that in my next reflection I would deal with an issue of interest to many compatriots. Thus, this now is rather a message.

Fidel Castro RuzThe moment has come to nominate and elect the State Council, its President, its Vice-Presidents and Secretary.

For many years I have occupied the honorable position of President. On February 15, 1976 the Socialist Constitution was approved with the free, direct and secret vote of over 95% of the people with the right to cast a vote. The first National Assembly was established on December 2nd that same year; this elected the State Council and its presidency. Before that, I had been a Prime Minister for almost 18 years. I always had the necessary prerogatives to carry forward the revolutionary work with the support of the overwhelming majority of the people.

There were those overseas who, aware of my critical health condition, thought that my provisional resignation, on July 31, 2006, to the position of President of the State Council, which I left to First Vice-President Raul Castro Ruz, was final. But Raul, who is also minister of the Armed Forces on account of his own personal merits, and the other comrades of the Party and State leadership were unwilling to consider me out of public life despite my unstable health condition.

It was an uncomfortable situation for me vis-à-vis an adversary which had done everything possible to get rid of me, and I felt reluctant to comply.

Later, in my necessary retreat, I was able to recover the full command of my mind as well as the possibility for much reading and meditation. I had enough physical strength to write for many hours, which I shared with the corresponding rehabilitation and recovery programs. Basic common sense indicated that such activity was within my reach. On the other hand, when referring to my health I was extremely careful to avoid raising expectations since I felt that an adverse ending would bring traumatic news to our people in the midst of the battle. Thus, my first duty was to prepare our people both politically and psychologically for my absence after so many years of struggle. I kept saying that my recovery "was not without risks."

My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath. That’s all I can offer.

To my dearest compatriots, who have recently honored me so much by electing me a member of the Parliament where so many agreements should be adopted of utmost importance to the destiny of our Revolution, I am saying that I will neither aspire to nor accept, I repeat, I will neither aspire to nor accept the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chief.

In short letters addressed to Randy Alonso, Director of the Round Table National TV Program, --letters which at my request were made public-- I discreetly introduced elements of this message I am writing today, when not even the addressee of such letters was aware of my intention. I trusted Randy, whom I knew very well from his days as a student of Journalism. In those days I met almost on a weekly basis with the main representatives of the University students from the provinces at the library of the large house in Kohly where they lived. Today, the entire country is an immense University.

Following are some paragraphs chosen from the letter addressed to Randy on December 17, 2007:

"I strongly believe that the answers to the current problems facing Cuban society, which has, as an average, a twelfth grade of education, almost a million university graduates, and a real possibility for all its citizens to become educated without their being in any way discriminated against, require more variables for each concrete problem than those contained in a chess game. We cannot ignore one single detail; this is not an easy path to take, if the intelligence of a human being in a revolutionary society is to prevail over instinct.

"My elemental duty is not to cling to positions, much less to stand in the way of younger persons, but rather to contribute my own experience and ideas whose modest value comes from the exceptional era that I had the privilege of living in.

"Like Niemeyer, I believe that one has to be consistent right up to the end."

Letter from January 8, 2008:

"…I am a firm supporter of the united vote (a principle that preserves the unknown merits), which allowed us to avoid the tendency to copy what came to us from countries of the former socialist bloc, including the portrait of the one candidate, as singular as his solidarity towards Cuba. I deeply respect that first attempt at building socialism, thanks to which we were able to continue along the path we had chosen."

And I reiterated in that letter that "…I never forget that ‘all of the world’s glory fits in a kernel of corn."

Therefore, it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer. This I say devoid of all drama.

Fortunately, our Revolution can still count on cadres from the old guard and others who were very young in the early stages of the process. Some were very young, almost children, when they joined the fight on the mountains and later they have given glory to the country with their heroic performance and their internationalist missions. They have the authority and the experience to guarantee the replacement. There is also the intermediate generation which learned together with us the basics of the complex and almost unattainable art of organizing and leading a revolution.

The path will always be difficult and require from everyone’s intelligent effort. I distrust the seemingly easy path of apologetics or its antithesis the self-flagellation. We should always be prepared for the worst variable. The principle of being as prudent in success as steady in adversity cannot be forgotten. The adversary to be defeated is extremely strong; however, we have been able to keep it at bay for half a century.

This is not my farewell to you. My only wish is to fight as a soldier in the battle of ideas. I shall continue to write under the heading of ‘Reflections by comrade Fidel.’ It will be just another weapon you can count on. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I shall be careful.


Fidel Castro Ruz

February 18, 2008

5:30 p.m.




Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Art of Flip-Flopping

Flip-flopping! We've heard all about it in the political world. It's a humorous word, a fun title to throw around. "Such and such is a flip-flopper." "Oh, he flip-flopped on such and such issue." In an era where politicians are more meticulous than ever to say the right thing, or better yet, not say the wrong thing, charges of flip-flopping arise both left and right. John Kerry was criticized as a flip-flopper back in the 2004 elections for his position(s) on the war in Iraq (or Afghanistan? Sorry... I get 'em mixed up sometimes...)

But I've noticed something particularly prevalent or noteworthy in the way in which Democrats and Republicans have flip-flopped. Let's take two textbook flip-floppers from both sides of the political spectrum. On the left, we've got war veteran John Kerry. On the right, we've got Olympics-saver (shudder) and apparent business mastermind (though he blew millions on his futile campaign) Mitt Romney, a.k.a. "Mittens" (© Rachel Maddow). As we're told, John Kerry flip-flopped on the war, arguably our generation's most trying and important decision. First completely for it, Kerry's support for the war began to dwindle, paralleling the sentiments felt by much of the American public. He soon took a stance against the war, blaming president bush (that's right, I don't capitalize his name) for deceiving the people of this country into a war that should have never been authorized in the first place. Kerry made a strategic mistake and was visibly sorry for his blunder. By most accounts, it was this apparent sign of weakness which led the country to once again support the man - who brought us into this senseless war in the first place - to a second term in the White House! What a shame! I've been grieving ever since...

On the other corner of the ring, we've got a guy like Mitt Romney who has flip-flopped on nearly every possible issue: from abortion and gay rights, to stem cell research and gun laws. You name it, Mitt Romney has disclosed varying opinions and beliefs on nearly every topic that's up for debate. What I've drawn from this is a distinct difference between the way(s) in which Democrats and Republicans flip-flop. While Kerry flipped on a strategic issue (the pressing urgency of the war), Mitt flipped on moral issues. (For more Romney flip-flops, check out

Examine the following scenario to understand where I'm coming from here: Suppose I were to tell you that such-and-such attacked our country and we were going to respond. You would probably support that, right? Pretty straightforward. Now what if I were to tell you (after some time, of course) that in fact the information I once disclosed to you was proven to be false. You would rethink the war strategy and further examine the reason(s) for initially preparing an attack on a country which now, with proper evidence, has been wiped clean of being the original "culprit." Inevitably, this would mean that you'd be backing down from your original position on the conflict. Pretty simple and straightforward, right? Not every one has the foresight to be able to determine from the get-go that the planning of the war was faulty and that there in fact was no need to initiate what would later on be seen as a violation of everything that this country stands for. Only few individuals and great leaders such as Barack Obama possess this powerful quality (one of the several reasons why I support him for his 2008 run for the White House).

Now in this demonstration, picture yourself being either pro or anti-gay rights, pro or anti-gun rights, whatever. Pick any social/moral issues you'd like and make a decision. Now imagine holding the opposing sides of all of those arguments. Pretty difficult, right? I mean, to me, it's a bit of a big deal if you can flip-flop on a moral issue over night, just like that. To me, it's resembles proof and a sign of a flimsy and unstructured moral compass: a recipe for disaster. But as we've seen, this is exactly what the Republicans are able to do with ease. For a Democrat, holding true to one's moral and ethical virtues is just that: a virtuous quality and an emblem of patriotism. To Republicans, morality has been proven to be purely debatable, interchangeable, and over all simply up in the air. Republican embarrassments like Mark Foley and Larry Craig are proof of the moral hypocrisy/ies which continue to spring forth from the GOP. These are the same people who praise Jesus with the same tongues used to bash gays or other victims of GOP mayhem. What would Jesus think of all of this? I posit that Jesus would show utmost love and outreach for our gay brothers and sisters rather than shunning them, and even worse: vilifying them! What would Jesus think about torture? What would Jesus think about the innocent Iraqi civilians who are raped and murdered daily in this global farce for "Democracy in the Middle East." The question is inevitable: What Would Jesus Do? Personally, I think he'd get down on his knees and weep for humanity.

This country's right-wing political ideology is possessed by the stranglehold of the religious right, many of whom are Evangelical Christians. These people preach the words of Jesus, yet apparently rarely seem to understand the great Jewish carpenter's basic principles. Jesus' Sermon of the Mount says: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Have Republicans EVER followed this advice? Perhaps. Perhaps only in the competitive and grueling dog-eat-dog world of business. I digress.

The point I'm trying to make is that I've noticed the ease by which Republicans are able to completely flip on moral issues. I write this post only hours after John McCain flipped on one of the issues which I originally applauded him for. As Crooks & Liars recently pointed out/featured, John McCain, the poised candidate for the Republicans in November, is pandering to his base by falling back on all his previous opposition to torture. You know, this is the guy who was himself tortured during the war which proclaimed him a POW and national hero. Differing himself from other Republicans, here was a man who not only stood up for his moral belief that torture was not something America should subject itself to doing. Here was a man who actually EXPERIENCED torture for five years as a prisoner of war. Of all the topics which he could have possibly flip-flopped on, torture sure as hell shouldn't have been one of them. But the Republicans never cease to amaze us, huh? Torture, the brutish violation and abomination of human rights. Torture, which McCain was subjected to for five years of his life. Such a pressing and dire issue like torture is somehow STILL a position which can easily be thrown around.

Simply amazing... Am I the only one who sees it like this? I hope not. Kerry flip-flopped on the strategies and logistics of a war which was initiated by an administration which has lied to us for years. Republicans like Romney and McCain on the other hand, take folks like Kerry to task, yet feel free to jump all over the place over moral issues. If you ask me, that's completely illogical and doesn't add/stand up to a sliver of normalcy. When will they learn?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tupac Shakur: 'Words of Wisdom'

One of my favorite poems by Tupac Shakur. It's a song with two verses and plenty of great political adlibs. Here are just the verses:

This is for the masses, the lower classes
Ones you left out
Jobs were givin', better livin'
But we were kept out
Made to feel inferior, but we're superior
Break the chains in our brains that made us fear yah
Pledge allegiance to a flag that neglects us
Honor a man that refuse to respect us
'Emancipation Proclamation'? Please!
Nigga just said that to save the nation
These are lies that we all accepted
Say no to drugs but the government's keep it
Runnin' through our community, killing the unity
The war on drugs is a war on you and me
And yet they say this is the Home of the Free
You ask me? It's all about hypocrisy
The constitution? Yo, it don't apply to me
And Lady Liberty? Stupid bitch lied to me
This made me stronger, no one's gonna like what I'm bumpin'
But it's wrong to keep someone from learning something
So get up, it's time to start nation building
I'm fed up, we gotta start teaching children
That they can be all that they wanna to be
There's much more to life than just poverty

Amerikkka, Amerikkka, Ameri K K Ka

Words of Wisdom
Based upon the strength of a nation
Conquer the enemy armed with education
Protect yourself, reach for what you wanna do
Know thy self, teach by what we've been through
Armed with the knowledge of the place we've been
No one will ever oppress this race again
No Malcolm X in my history text, why is that?
'Cause he tried to educate and liberate all Blacks
Why is Martin Luther King in my book each week?
He told Blacks if they get smacked, turn the other cheek
I don't get it, so many questions run through my mind
I get sweated, they act like asking questions' a crime
But forget it, 'cause one day I'm gonna prove them wrong
Now every brother had to smother on the welfare line
The American Dream, though it seems like it's attainable
They're pulling your sleeve, don't believe, 'cause it'll strangle yah
Pulling the life of your brain, I can't explain
Beg as you can obtain from which you came
You swear to your mother that you're living in equality
Forgetting your brother that's living her apology
Thought they had us beat when they took our kids
But the battle ain't over till the Black man sings
Words of Wisdom
The battle ain't over till the Black man sings
Words of Wisdom

...Amerikkka's Nightmare...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Robert Wexler Confronts Condi Rice

As reported on Crooks & Liars (gotta love 'em), Florida Rep. Robert Wexler took Condoleezza Rice (a.k.a. A Bitch Supreme a.k.a. Auntie Tom) to task for the Bush administration's bullshit that led us to war. He grilled her...

Meanwhile, Roger Clemens and steroids gets more media coverage...

America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?

Herbie Hancock on Tavis Smiley [February 13, 2008]

MP3 @

'Jaweh and Allah Battle' by Allen Ginsberg

Another great Ginsberg poem:
Jaweh with Atom Bomb
Allah cuts throat of Infidels
Jaweh’s armies beat down neighbouring tribes
Will Red Sea waters close & drown th’armies of Allah?

Israel’s tribes worshipping the Golden Calf
Moses broke the Tablets of Law.

Zalmon Schacter Lubovitcher Rebbe what you say
Stone Commandments broken on the ground
Sufi Sam whaddya say
Shall Prophet’s companions dance circled
round Synagogue while Jews doven bearded electric?

Both Gods Terrible! Awful Jaweh Allah!
Both hook-nosed-gods, circumcised.
Jaweh Allah which unreal?
Which stronger Illusion?
Which stronger Army?
Which gives most frightening command?
What God maintain egohood in Eden? Which be Nameless?
Which enter Abyss of Light?
Worlds of Gods, jealous Warriors, Humans, Animals & Flowers,
Hungry Ghosts, even Hell Beings all die,
Snake cock and pig eat each other’s tails and perish
All Jews all Moslems’ll die All Israelis all Arabs
Cairo’s angry millions Jerusalem’s multitudes
suffer Death’s dream Armies in battle!
Yea let Tribes wander to tin camps at cold Europe’s walls?
Yea let the Million sit in the desert shantytowns with tin cups?
I’m a Jew cries Allah! Buddha circumcised!
Snake sneaking an apple to Eden -
Alien, Wanderer, Caller of the Great Call!
What Prophet born on this ground
bound me Eternal to Palestine
circled by Armies tanks, droning bomber motors,
radar electronic computers?
What Mind directed Stern Gang Irgun Al Fatah
Black September?
Meyer Lanksy? Nixon Shah? Gangster? Premier? King?
one-eyed General Dayan?
Golda Meir and Kissinger bound me with Arms?
Buchenwald sent me here! Vietnam sent me here!
Mylai sent me here!
Lidice sent me here!
My mother sent me here!
circumcised, my father had a coffee shop in Jerusalem
One day the soldiers came and told me to walk down road
my hands up
walk away leave my house business forever!
The Israelis sent me here!
Solomon’s Temple the Pyramids & Sphinx sent me here!
Abraham will take me to his bosom!
Mohammed will guide me to Paradise!
Christ sent me here to be crucified!
Buddha will wipe out and destroy the world.
The New York Times and Cairo Editorialist Heykal sent me here!
Commentary and Palestine Review sent me here!
The International Zionist Conspiracy sent me here!
Syrian Politicians sent me here! Heroic Pan-Arab
Nationalists sent me here!
They’re sending Armies to my side -
The Americans & Russians are sending bombing planes tanks
Chinese Egyptians Syrians help me battle for my righteous
house my Soul’s dirt Spirit’s Nation body’s
boundaries & Self’s territory my
Zionist homeland my Palestine inheritance
The Capitalist Communist & Third World Peoples’
Republics Dictatorships Police States Socialisms and Democracies
are all sending Deadly Weapons to our aid!
We shall triumph over the Enemy!
Maintain our Separate Identity! Proud
History evermore!
Defend our own bodies here this Holy Land! This hill
Golgotha never forget, never relinquish
inhabit thru Eternity
under Allah Christ Yaweh forever one God
Shema Yisroel Adonoi Eluhenu Adonoi Echad!
La ilah illa’ Allah hu!