Archive for August, 2010

Woman Scorned

Not many people are aware that Eve was not the first mate to Adam.

First Adam got jiggy with the various beasts, birds, and other living things that Yahweh paraded before him. As Robert Graves and Raphael Patai record in Hebrew Myths:

When they passed before him in pairs, male and female, Adam—being already like a twenty-year-old man—felt jealous of their loves, and though he tried copulating with each female in turn, found no satisfaction in the act. He therefore cried: “Every creature but I has a proper mate!”, and prayed God would remedy this injustice.

Yahweh then presented Adam with Lilith, a human female. A being run up from the same sort of dust from which Adam was created. Rather than yanked from Adam’s own flesh as a rib, as was, later, Eve.

Adam, however, proved a boor, and Lilith left him. Graves and Patai recount what happened:

Adam and Lilith never found peace together; for when he wished to lie with her, she took offence at the recumbent posture he demanded. “Why must I lie beneath you?” she asked. “I also was made from dust, and am therefore your equal.” Because Adam tried to compel her obedience by force, Lilith, in a rage, uttered the magic name of God, rose into the air and left him.

As Lilith was not around or involved when Adam and Eve consumed the forbidden fruit, she was not subject to the penalties inflicted by Yahweh upon the rest of the human race: death, the pain of labor, enmity between wo/man and nature. Some say Lilith lives to this day in the Edomite Desert, among satyrs, pelicans, owls, ostriches, arrow-snakes, and unicorns.


“We Protect The Taliban”

The Wikileaks release of classified documents involving the War on Terra in Afghanistan contained no surprises for anyone who has attentively followed Operation Enduring Fiefdom. Among the non-surprises: that the government of Pakistan, America’s putative ally in the War on Terra, has in fact ignored, enabled, or actively assisted the Taliban, throughout the latter’s nine-year fight against the United States.

Last Sunday, the New York Times printed one of the more provocative stories yet involving this Pakistani-Taliban relationship.

It involves the capture in January of Abdul Ghani Baradar, identified as one of those ubiquitous “number two” most-wanteds, in this case “number two” to Taliban chieftain Mullah Muhammed Omar.

Throughout the War on Terra, it has generally been the “number twos”—of which there seem to be an unlimited supply—who get snatched or snuffed . . . never, it seems, any “number ones.”

In any event, number-two Baradar’s capture was at the time heralded as a model of US-Pakistani cooperation, as well as the usual “breakthrough” in the crusade against Wrong People.

Now, however, we learn that Baradar’s capture was engineered by Pakistan, and its purpose was to shut down peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Talks from which Pakistan had been excluded. And which it feared might in some way benefit its bete noire, India.

Around the same time, Pakistan also rolled up some 23 Taliban leaders inside its own borders, people whom the Pakistani government had been protecting for years. Because they too had the temerity and effrontery to consider ending the conflict, without first consulting Pakistan.

“We picked up Baradar and the others because they were trying to make a deal without us,” said a Pakistani security official, who, like numerous people interviewed about the operation, spoke anonymously because of the delicacy of relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States. “We protect the Taliban. They are dependent on us. We are not going to allow them to make a deal with [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai and the Indians.”



What’s Good: Moonbows

I like it when I stumble upon a form of magic that I never even knew existed.

That’s what happened Thursday, as I desultorily flipped through A Book About A Thousand Things, the 1946 magpie’s-nest from George Stimpson that addresses such burning questions as “how do bees hum?” and “does fright cause the guinea fowl’s flesh to turn blue?”

And therein I learned that there is such a thing as a “moonbow.”

Rainbows by moonlight, known as moonbows, are unusual but not rare phenomena. Aristotle referred to lunar bows about twenty-two hundred years ago, and they are well known to scientists, although they are not often observed, chiefly because of the faintness of the light at night. Only under exceptional conditions can the colors of a moonbow be seen. Lunar rainbows are most likely to occur after showers on nights when the moon is bright but not too high in the heavens. Similar lunar bows are periodically visible in the spray of certain waterfalls, such as the Cumberland Falls about eighteen miles southwest of Corbin, Kentucky.

That’s a Cumberland Falls moonbow, of the harvest kind, up yonder. More moonbows beyond the “furthur.”


Simplemente Roja

Extraordinary Cruelty And Evil

A federal district court has ruled for the first time that the 1994 Congressional statute known as “the Torture Act” is constitutional. This statute, 18 USC §2340-2340A, provides that the United States may prosecute those who have tortured human beings outside the confines of the United States, so long as the accused is a US national, or found within the US. The Torture Act was approved by Congress following the adoption by the United States of the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture.

The defendant in this case, Charles McArthur Emmanuel, more familiarly known as “Chuckie Taylor,” is the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who is himself currently on trial before an in-ternational war-crimes tribunal in the Hague. Emmanuel had argued that Congress im-permissibly exceeded its authority in approving the Torture Act. But in its 87-page decision in US v. Belfast II, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit told Emmanuel to blow it out his kiester.

“The United States,” the panel held, “validly adopted the CAT pursuant to the President’s Article II treaty-making authority, and it was well within Congress’s power under the Necessary and Proper Clause to criminalize both torture, as defined by the Torture Act, and conspiracy to commit torture.”

That the Torture Act has been ruled constitutional is not good news for those BushCo War On Terra-era US government agents and contractors currently under investigation by the extraordinarily tight-lipped special prosecutor John Durham. Because the Act would apply to them, too.


Why I Haven’t Posted Here Much Of Late

Tell Mama

Science People at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Child Emotion Lab have determined that a phone conversation with Mom can release in young girls as much of the calming and caressing chemical oxytocin as actual physical motherly love.

Sixty-one girls aged 7 to 12 were placed in a stressful situation: solve math problems in front of strangers; deliver an impromptu speech. After, some were allowed to hug their mothers, others were only able to talk to their mothers on the phone, while still others were compelled to watch March of the Penguins, which apparently put many of them to sleep.

The results? Oxytocin levels rose almost exactly as much in the girls who were comforted in person, as in the girls who’d been calmed via phone.

Oxytocin has been found to promote such qualities as generosity and empathy. It is believed that the chemical evolved to allow human beings to surmount their natural wariness of one another long enough to come into the close physical contact necessary to mate and thereby procreate. Without the stuff, apparently, we wouldn’t even be here.


When I Worked

August 2010
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