L'shanah Tovah!

L'shanah tovahIt’s Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  Unlike the western new year celebration, the Hebrew new year is somewhat more solemn, although both feature (at least a little) introspection and resolutions for living a better life in the coming year.

Rosh Hashanah means “the head (or first) of the year.” It’s a traditional term, not found in scripture. The actual day, instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25, is Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar).

The common greeting “L’shanah tovah” means “for a good year,” and is a shortened version of “L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem” (or to women, “L’shanah tovah tikatevi v’taihatemi”),  which means “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

By the Jewish calendar, it has been 5776 years since God created the world.

There are several practices or rituals for this day – learn more here.

L’shanah Tovah!

'Floaters' – Not Dust After All

Those “floaty things” that are usually just off-center when you look at the sky or a blank wall – or the ceiling when you’re really bored in school. I always figured they were bits of dust too small to be irritating. The “holy grail” of floaters – at least for me – was to catch one right in the center of my vision, where I could keep it balanced and stare right at it.

Where were we? Oh yeah – it’s not dust. It’s not even on the outside of your eye. Watch:

What Happens When A Farmer De-Industrializes?

Cows and sheep grazing together at White Oak Pastures, Bluffton GA
Cows and sheep together at White Oak Pastures

At White Oak Pastures in Bluffton GA, they’ve returned to the practices of 150 years ago. No pesticides, antibiotics, or hormones, and grass instead of corn. Everyone’s happier — including the animals — and they still make money.

It’s a fascinating story – read it for yourself on their website.

I hope this catches on world-wide.

(Video from www.takepart.com)

I wonder if that’s real butter on the buns. 🙂

Did the US Army Distribute Smallpox Blankets to Indians?

Painting of a Mandan village by George Catlin, ca. 1833
Painting of a Mandan village by George Catlin, ca. 1833

At least one telling of the story has been determined to be false. And considering the source, that shouldn’t be surprising. Beginning in the early 90s, Ward Churchill told several versions of atrocities committed by the US Army at Fort Clark against the Mandan Indians in 1837.

You may remember that Churchill wrote an essay shortly after 9/11 asserting “the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers” deserved their “penalty.” Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado Boulder from 1990 to 2007, was fired for research misconduct. Some scholars believed that his firing was retaliation for the “little Eichmanns” comment, but his lawsuit to that effect was ultimately unsuccessful.

In an article, Did the US Army Distribute Smallpox Blankets to Indians? Fabrication and Falsification in Ward Churchill’s Genocide Rhetoric, Thomas Brown details how Churchill “habitually committed multiple counts of research misconduct.”

Brown, an assistant professor of sociology at Lamar University, summarizes it this way:

The “preponderance of evidence” standard of proof strongly indicates that Churchill fabricated events that never occurred—namely the U.S. Army’s alleged distribution of smallpox infested blankets to the Mandan Indians in 1837. The analysis additionally reveals that Churchill falsified sources to support his fabricated version of events, and also concealed evidence in his cited sources that actually disconfirms, rather than substantiates, his allegations of genocide.

The paper is long, but detailed. It’s worth the time, though, to learn that America’s history isn’t quite as bad as some want us to believe.

Read the article here, or download a PDF for printing.

In short, there is no evidence at all to support the key elements of Ward Churchill’s tale. There is no evidence that U.S. Army officers or doctors were anywhere in the vicinity in June 1837. There is no evidence that any blankets were shipped from a military smallpox infirmary in St. Louis. There is no evidence that anyone passed out infested blankets to Indians with genocidal intent. Ward Churchill has invented all of this.