Wednesday, August 31, 2005


I am almost done with the book "Snow" which is set in the middle of a struggle between the Islamists and secularists in Turkey. One of the things that really struck me about this book is that it portrays how a society can be polarized where you have to choose sides and where people make up their mind about an idealized position and then are forced by society to adhere to this non-realistic position. Example: if you decide that you are a Democrat, you also by default are forced to be non-religious, because if you are religious, you have to be against Democrats.

All in all, it is a good book, although it is written in a very interesting style. I can't quite put my finger on it. Part of it is that it reads like 19th century Russian novels by Tolstoy and Chechov. Part of it seems to be a cultural difference between East and West where things feel unnatural to me, although they may seem totally normal to a Turk.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Intelligent Design?

I was going to write a post about my problems with Intelligent Design, but The New Republic beat me to it.

I would like to add a couple of my own observations. Religious Jews seem to think that teaching ID in public schools is a wonderful thing. I think it is a horribly dangerous change. It is clear that the majority of ID support comes from Christian fundamentalists. Once the line is broken, we will once again have a situation where Christian dogma will be promulgated at the expense of others. This actually won't affect the religious jews that send their kids to private religious schools, but for the majority of the Jewish population who do it will be a heck of a situation to be in. As someone who had to sing Christmas carols in a Chicago public school since the teachers thought there'd be no harm in getting all the kids into the Christmas spirit, I can tell you it is a lousy place to be in.

For those who say that ID is not just a front for fundamentalist Christians, perhaps they would enjoy Forbidden Archaelogy, a nice text debunking evolution by a couple of Hindu mystics. Why not, their theories are just as good as anyone else's, right?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Twilight Zone Judaism

Lately, very bizarre things have been happening to me. Coincidences which seem beyond explanation by probability alone. It freaks me out because I am at my core a rational person. However, at my deeper core, somewhere in the lower brain, just under the medulla oblongata, I am a superstitious coward.

The weird part is that this duality presents itself in Judaism that is all around me. On the one hand, we are enjoined to not believe in magic, witchcraft, evil spirits, etc... On the other hand, Orthodox Judaism, especially the Black Hatter/Chasidic flavors are rife with all this stuff.

So I am thinking about setting up a website; a clearinghouse for people that want to submit seemingly supernatural events that occurred in their life. I am talking about really freaky stuff, not just something that seemed far fetched. They would have to post detailed accounts.

Here's the catch - how do you know they are telling the truth? That is the crux of the dilemma. One giant prisoner's dilemma.