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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Things

A short, basic question: Why do we never refer to our current president as Barack Obama Jr.? He seems never to have gone by that name.

Bursting of the new housing bubble: I thought that the market was recovering, but it turns out that the only recovery is occurring in one-percenter-land. What may stun you are the numbers:
Some of these cities aren’t exactly cheap places to buy a 1%-home. In San Francisco, the median price is already over $900,000. But the minimum 1%-home? $5.35 million, according to Redfin. You’ll need enough after-tax income – if you’re not plunking down the cash you got from selling your startup – to cough up a monthly mortgage payment of $21,300. LA is second in line with the minimum 1%-home setting you back $3.65 million, or a monthly mortgage payment of $14,600. That’s the minimum. On the upper end, only the sky is the limit...
The Belgian museum shooting. Four people -- two Israelis, a French woman, and a museum worker -- were killed by a gunman in a Jewish museum in Brussels. The killer (whose face is never clearly seen in surveillance footage) seemed very professional, very efficient; he knew what he was doing. Even people with an allergic reaction to conspiracy theories are asking: Was the shooter a hitman hired to do a job, or was he simply a nutcase?
The short version is that rather than an anti-Semitic attack on a Jewish institution in which the particular people killed are randomly chosen this may have been a targeted killing or assassination, possibly tied to the Israeli security services.
The victims were a couple in their 50s named Emmanuel and Mira Riva. From The Guardian:
Israeli media reports said the Rivas were accountants formerly in government service. Emmanuel Riva worked for an official agency called Nativ, which dealt with the emigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union. Mira Riva was employed by the prime minister's office – often a euphemism for the Mossad and Shin Bet secret services. Both had been posted to Israel's embassy in Berlin.
Among the many questions: Why a public assassination, in a museum? Why not attack them on the street or in a hotel room?

The Israeli media has been hard to interpret. Stories have hinted that this was a targeted killing, but we've had no direct statement to that effect. There is also the (to me) very suggestive fact that the killer ran out on foot and disappeared. I don't see how he could manage the trick without an accomplice driving a getaway car.

A disgusting story: Vehemently pro-Israeli writer Caroline Glick wants you to believe that the Pope acted in a rude manner during his trip to Israel. She blathers on about "Palestinian bloodlust and anti-Semitic depravity." The Palestinians, of course, are not motivated by any form of racism or bloodlust, but rather by the theft of their land and by decades of oppression -- the same factors that prompted the Native Americans to mount a just fight against my white ancestors. Finkelstein talks about this.

I was amused by this example of historical revisionism:
In one of his blander pronouncements during the papal visit, Netanyahu mentioned on Monday that Jesus spoke Hebrew. There was nothing incorrect about Netanyahu’s statement. Jesus was after all, an Israeli Jew.

But Francis couldn’t take the truth. So he indelicately interrupted his host, interjecting, “Aramaic.”

Netanyahu was probably flustered. True, at the time, educated Jews spoke and wrote in Aramaic. And Jesus was educated. But the language of the people was Hebrew. And Jesus preached to the people, in Hebrew.
Hilarious. Of course, the exact opposite was true. Aramaic was the lingua franca in Galilee; Hebrew, by that point, was primarily a liturgical language. The few untranslated examples of Jesus's words that we have are all in Aramaic. The extent of Jesus' education remains disputed.

In fact, the Pope's great "sin" seems to have been his meetings with Palestinian refugees. In Bethlehem, he ran into an interesting bit of graffiti:
When the pope drove by, he read “Apartheid Wall” and “Bethlehem is like the Warsaw Ghetto” on the twenty-four-foot-high cement panels that make up the wall. He got out, walked to the wall, leaned his face against it and prayed.
I bet that stung.

Existence and non-existence. Seamus Coogan is real. I want to assure you of that key fact.

Who the hell is Seamus Coogan? Well, he's a brilliant fellow in New Zealand who writes on intelligence matters and the JFK assassination. His wildest series of articles may be found here.

I mention Seamus because his existence was recently called into question by a philosophy professor named Jim Fetzer. Professor Fetzer has become a superstar in crankish circles, particularly among the 9/11 twoofers; as long-time readers know, I don't have a particularly high opinion of the guy. I once said that he's the kind of person who might believe you if you told him that Oreo cookies were imported from Mars.

Fetzer got into a disagreement with something Seamus wrote. (The actual point of disagreement probably wouldn't interest you.) In the heat of debate, he questioned Seamus' very existence.

Well, that's the job of a philosopher, right? To ask questions about Being and Nonbeing?

Being a dabbler in philosophy myself, I thought that the best way to resolve the conundrum was to write Seamus (with whom I occasionally correspond). I asked him if he does, in fact, exist.

He has always struck me as a straight shooter, and I have no doubt that if he did not exist, he would  have the decency to say so.

The long and the short of it is this: Seamus exists. He says so himself. So that's one philosophical problem which we may now consider settled.

On the other side of the JFK issue stands staunch Warren Commission defender John McAdams, a professor of political science of Marquette University. He's also a bigwig at the Heartland Institute, which posits the nuttiest conspiracy theory of all -- that 97% of climate scientists around the world are engaged in a scheme to "socialize" the planet.

Fetzer...McAdams...

Y'know, it's enough to make one lose one's faith in academia.
Comments:
A number of comments:
1. The language of Jesus was most likely Greek.http://www.ewtn.com/library/SCRIPTUR/LANGPAL.TXT
2. The problem with Native American lands is that individual land ownership was a European concept not known in Native American culture. Of course Spain did have land ownership and when we stole half of Mexico after the Mexican American War, we promised to recognize that ownership. Needless to say, we ignored that promise.
3. The idea that Israel stole Palestinian land is really a meaningless statement. Perhaps Yaacov Lozowick's analysis of the four maps is the appropriate response http://yaacovlozowick.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-maps-of-disappearing-palestine.html
4. Most importantly, I completely agree with you about Pope Francis. I read all the analysis on pro-Israeli blogs and think they completely miss the point. I read Elder of Ziyon on a regular basis and am ashamed to admit that I didn't take the time to leave a comment that the criticism of the Pope is completely misplaced. Pope Francis has been a friend of Israel and the Jews for the entirely of his life and to criticize him for being a conciliator rather than an advocate is just wrong. I don't see how an outright condemnation of Palestinian terrorism, which is what the pro-Israel bloggers want, would be at all helpful.
 
Don't be so eager for house prices to once again ascend beyond the reach of mortal man
 
small-j, I think you've mis-read the very text you source. Aramaic (or Syriac) was by far the most widespread common tongue.

It's true that we've been finding, in the general area of Galilee, lots of inscriptions in both Greek and Aramaic. But that makes sense. Greek was the common language in the area just outside of Judea, and there were a lot of non-Jews passing through to visit the cities Herod built, such as Ceasaria and Sepphoris.

So the likeliest scenario is that a number of people in that area -- especially merchants -- picked up some Greek in order to deal with travelers. But they spoke Aramaic at home. There are no stories of Jesus using Greek; "Talitha Cumi" is Aramaic. Scriptural readings were in Hebrew, and there are stories that Jesus read in the synagogues, so it seems likely that he learned some Hebrew.

Recent studies indicate that Indians did have the concept of land ownership but Europeans simply did not recognize Indian systems of law. Here's a good discussion...

http://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/1g8v2t/how_accurate_is_the_popular_us_perception_that/

I recall that Jim Loewen talks about this.

As for the meaninglessness of the idea that Palestinian land was stolen -- it sure means a lot to THEM!
 
Got to give credit to Bergoglio where it's due!

As for the Brussels job, this is from the Daily Mail:

"The attacker was seen jumping into an Audi after the shootings by a witness who made a note of the number plate. The car was stopped by police shortly afterwards."
 
That Jay Lehr guy of the Heartland Institute is a freakin clown:

"Meltdown just means that ... the temperature of the rods is higher than can be controlled... so they immediately install rods to bring the radioactive decay down to subcritical, But they have left over heat and residual radiation that has to be brought under control. It will happen naturally within a few days."

Yeah, sure. Insert control rods into a pool of molten uranium burning its way through the floor of the reactor vessel down into the earth. As a groundwater hydrologist he should at least understand some of the consequences of this contamination of the groundwater. What a shyster.

The notion that all these climate scientists in different countries working for different governments and universities have conspired to hide the truth is so ludicrous. Especially when a great way to advance in science is to show that the other guys have it all wrong.

"The idea that Israel stole Palestinian land is really a meaningless statement." Whoa! Tell that to the Palestinians who still hold the deed to their house and the key to the front door.
 
Taking such cheap shots at Jim Fetzer is way beneath your admirable, usual standard of accuracy and reason, Joe.

And this is not, by any means, the first time you've done this.

(It smells like there are some personal issues clouding your judgement, doesn't it?)

So please state on what specific points do you so vehemently disagree with the man's prodigious research, scholarship and conclusions regarding the major "conspiracies" of the past 50 years?
 
"Especially when a great way to advance in science is to show that the other guys have it all wrong."

That is absolutely not the way that most scientists advance in their careers. Opinion is controlled from top down by means of the journals and the way they function in the patronage system. Science is similar to any other 'professional' sphere of capitalist society in how opinion is controlled.

Edward Bernays's short book Propaganda (1928) still explains the basics of this in a very clear and powerful way.

Think for yourself and you'll never get anywhere in science. Even most of those scientists who do accomplish something genuinely new will have worked at what Thomas Kuhn in his Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) calls solving puzzles, namely the application of existing constructs (and I would say ideology) to problems where it was unclear how they might fit.

The climate has always changed - often quite fast - and always will.

Look at string theory. Scientists are still being trained to believe false rubbish which the movement of galaxies shows is obviously wrong. But no matter. They continue the nuthouse search for 'dark matter' which supposedly comprises most of the universe although nobody's ever detected any.

(PS When I quote Kuhn, that doesn't mean I'm a fan. He said a lot that was useful about how changes occur in scientific thought - there's no doubt about that - but his overall orientation was highly suspicious. I have long wondered whether he may have been fronting for the SJs, as Teilhard de Chardin was. The SJs have been important players in both evolutionary biology and astrophysics. As yet, I haven't worked out why!

But whatever the SJ links may or may not have been, it wouldn't surprise me if Kuhn had a close relationship with the kooks called Steinerites - as Rachel Carson, author of the very influential Silent Spring (also 1962) did.

Anybody who is not a fanatical believer in climate change should take a look at the Carson-Steinerite connection and also where the Steinerite green connections take you, including backwards from 1962. This is not the place for me to write about that topic at great length. Most people who have heard of Rachel Carson are unaware of the Steinerite link.

As for anyone reading this who harbours any positive feelings about the Steinerites, please read up on Himmler and Darré.

People should be very very careful indeed about the climate change ideology.

Interestingly in Britain there is a link between Steinerism and climate change greenwash which goes through the "transition towns" network.

Transition...sustainability...resilience - loaded words.

At least these cultist bastards aren't quite as capable of combating their enemies as the fucking Scientologists are. Yet.)
 
Anon, I never spoke to Fetzer. Observing him from afar, as it were, I simply decided that he's the kind of fool who makes the legitimate JFK researchers seem foolish.

So let's leave him to the Alex Jones crowd. Let's leave him to...well, to the kind of people who offer anonymous comments even though there are prominently-displayed rules which clearly state that the writers are supposed to sign with a name or nick.
 
Large J Joseph,

I read the article you suggested and I think I should have said that Native Americans didn't have a registry system of land ownership. The article said that the Native American system was communal ownership with individual usufruct. But that was only certain tribes and surely the nomadic tribes, of which there were quite a few, didn't even have that. As to the language question, I have just found out that the Babylonian Talmud is, in substantial part, Aramaic while the Jerusalem Talmud is in Hebrew. If I recall correctly, the Jerusalem Talmud was codified, about 300 years before the Babylonian, around 200 of the common era. Lastly, as to Palestinian land, if a person has determined that Israel is bad, then of course facts are irrelevant. However, the facts are that Palestinian historically meant Jews. The Palestinian Post became the Jerusalem Post. Surely some indiginous Arabs lost land in 1948 and that is truly unfortunate. Some were thrown out of their homes, but others voluntarily left. How many of each is still being argued. Benny Morris, I believe, has the best analysis and even he seems to sense that there is some uncertainty there. As to Palestinian land after 1948, Gaza is not claimed by Israel and the West Bank was part of Jordan until the 1967 and Jordan years ago relinguished any claim to it. The indiginous population considered themselves Jordanian or Syrian, depending on where they lived. Between 1948 and 1967there could have been a state of Palestine if that was anybody's desire and there is nothing Israel could have done about it.The real problem is that we in the west believe in the Aristotilian idea of the Golden Mean. Compromise is part of our culture. The Arab/Persian culture is one of win-lose. The notion of compromise seems foreign to them. I just don't think there will be any resolution until Israel can find somebody who is willing to negotiate in good faith with the idea of getting a resolution rather than seeking to win.
 
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