Cartoon: Is Marriage A Magic Wand?

If you enjoy these cartoons, please support them on my Patreon. A $1 pledge really matters.


Panel 1
This panel shows a reporter standing in a back yard, taking notes in a little pad, as a woman in a lawn chair speaks to him.

WOMAN: Marriage wasn’t a magic wand that got me out of poverty. I worked really hard, and I lucked into a good job. I didn’t get married until after all that.

Panel 2
The same reporter, now standing in an academic office (we can tell it’s academic because there’s a bookcase in the background). A woman wearing glasses and holding up some papers is talking to him.

WOMAN 2: As a social scientist, I know marriage isn’t a magic wand. Evidence shows that what matters most is having a full-time job, and that’s not always under people’s control.

Panel 3
The same reporter is talking to a man wearing a suit and tie; they’re standing in front of an office building in a city.
MAN: At our think tank, we don’t have real-world experience, or the best evidence. But we do have a simple narrative that blames poverty on single mothers.

Panel 4
This panel only shows a newspaper’s front page. The newspaper, which is called “Daily Opiate,” has a big headline, a sub headline, and a photo of the man from panel 3, with a pull-quote next to the photo.
PHOTO PULL-QUOTE: “It’s just common sense!”

Posted in Uncategorized | 40 Comments  

Cartoon: Medicare For All Is Idealistic But Unrealistic

If you enjoy these cartoons, please support them on my Patreon. A $1 pledge really matters.


This cartoon has nine panels.

Panel 1
A woman in a business casual outfit – she’s a politician – is speaking directly to the viewer, looking cheerful. We’ll call her “Dem.”

DEM: “Medicare for all” is idealistic, but unrealistic. We Democrats need to compromise, because that’s how policy gets done.

Panel 2
The same woman, now looking serious, gestures towards a small table. On the table is a HUGE stack of paper.

DEM: Take the “Affordable Care Act.” It’s not everything Democrats wanted for health care.

Panel 3
The shot shows the woman, now partly hidden behind the huge stack of papers, continuing to speak.
DEM: We worked hard to get many players to the table. The ACA incorporates Republican ideas, insurance company ideas, doctors’ ideas…

Panel 4
The woman continues speaking cheerily.
DEM: And because the ACA has so many compromises, it’s something everyone can live with.

Panel 5
A balding man in a suit and tie, smiling and carrying a bomb with a lit fuse, walks into the panel. The woman gestures towards him without really looking at him, still looking cheery.
DEM: Because we compromised, in time our Republican colleagues will work with us to make the ACA better.

Panel 6
The man, still smiling, tosses the bomb at the huge stack of paper. The woman looks startled.

Panel 7
The panel shows a huge “BOOOM” sound effect.

Panel 8
The woman stands, eyes hugely wide, staring out at the viewer, while tiny bits of paper rain down around her. The balding man walks off the panel.

Panel 9
The woman talks directly to the viewer again. She looks messy, and there’s a hunk of paper in her hair, and her eyes are still huge, but she’s trying to smile again.
DEM: Um… As I was saying, “Medicare For All” is idealistic but not realistic.

Tiny Kicker Panel At Bottom Of Cartoon
Dem talks to a protester who is carrying a “Medicare For All” sign.
DEM: Why can’t you be realistic?
PROTESTOR: Look who’s talking!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Elections and politics, Health Care and Related Issues | 11 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Melting Butter Edition

  1. Amia Srinivasan · Does anyone have the right to sex? · London Review of Books
    A long read, but interesting. “The question, then, is how to dwell in the ambivalent place where we acknowledge that no one is obligated to desire anyone else, that no one has a right to be desired, but also that who is desired and who isn’t is a political question, a question usually answered by more general patterns of domination and exclusion.”
  2. The Media Must Stop Taking ‘Incel’ Agitprop Seriously
    “The proposition that sex is ‘unequally distributed,’ which is taken for granted in all of these chin-stroking arguments, is a highly contestable claim. Being outside of hegemonic beauty norms does not inherently deny you love or sex; your place in that hierarchy instead shapes other things untethered to your actual sex life.”
  3. It’s 2018, and people are suddenly screaming at each other about 85-year-old comic strip character Nancy
    The new “Nancy” – or at least, the strips that currently exist to be read – seems fresh and funny. I hope she can keep it up.
  4. State of Conflict: How a tiny protest at the U. of Nebraska turned into a proxy war for the future of campus politics
    Excellent, nuanced, a bit long.
  5. McInnes, Molyneux, and 4chan: Investigating pathways to the alt-right | Southern Poverty Law Center
    Basically they just compiled some numbers from a thread on an alt-right board about how people found the alt-right. They say something that strikes me as very foolish right at the start – “Respondents recount a transformation that takes place almost entirely online,” which seems like something that might be meaningful, but might also be just because the only people in their “sample” are people who participate in online communities – but there’s some interesting stuff here, too.
  6. Upstate NY farmer says ICE officers stormed his farm without a warrant, cuffed him, threw his phone |
  7. CIA Discrimination Against Disabled Officers Is Hurting the U.S.
  8. Why Is Charles Murray Odious? | Current Affairs
    Lots of stuff here I hadn’t know, from his teenage cross-burning (he says he had no idea it could be taken as racist) to his theory that virtually no Black musicians have made notable contributions to culture.
  9. For Survivors of Prison Rape, Saying ‘Me Too’ Isn’t an Option – Rewire.News
    Content warning for descriptions of rape.
  10. Emailed exchanged between Ezra Klein and Sam Harris
    A bit of a train wreck, but fascinating anyhow. As Harris comments, “Judging from the response to this post on social media, my decision to publish these emails appears to have backfired.” This exchange of emails eventually led to a podcast debate, which you can read and/or listen to here.
  11. The Woman Who Accidentally Started the Incel Movement
    “I can’t uninvent this word, nor restrict it to the nicer people who need it.”
  12. How White American Terrorists Are Radicalized – Pacific Standard
    “When hundreds of ‘lone wolves’ are reading the same websites, talking to each other, consuming the same stories, picking up easily accessible weapons, and killing the same targets, they have become a pack.”
  13. She Tried To Report On Climate Change. Sinclair Told Her To Be More “Balanced.”
  14. Trump to cancel TPS protections for Hondurans who’ve lived in US for decades – Vox
    All these folks are in the US legally.
  15. Teenager’s Prom Dress Stirs Furor in U.S. — but Not in China – The New York Times
    Definitely one of those “I’m embarrassed for the left” moments. But also an example of how the internet makes us worse off by turning what should have been a controversy for the school paper, into a national story involving tens of thousands of people criticizing a random teen for her prom dress.
  16. ICE held an American man in custody for 1,273 days. He’s not the only one who had to prove his citizenship
    The Obama administration deserves a great deal of blame for this.
  17. Sexual Assaults in Immigration Detention Centers Rarely Get Investigated, Group Charges
    Content warning, obviously.
  18. DNA blunder creates phantom serial killer | The Independent
    “The only clues that “The Woman Without a Face” left behind at 40 different crime scenes were DNA traces. These were collected on cotton swabs, supplied to the police in a number of European countries. Now police investigators have established that in all probability the DNA had not been left by their quarry but by a woman working for the German medical company supplying the swabs…”
  19. How the Border Patrol Faked Statistics Showing a 73 Percent Rise in Assaults Against Agents
    “Tomsheck said that during his more than three decades of police work, he has never heard of any law enforcement agency multiplying assaulted officers by the perpetrators and the weapons. When I asked Franklin Zimring, a criminologist at the University of California, Berkeley and author of When Police Kill, if he’d ever heard of such a method, he burst out laughing.”

Posted in Link farms | 101 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Insects Up Close Edition

  1. “Given my way, we wouldn’t talk about toxic masculinity, we’d talk about toxic masculinisation.” Thread by Ally Fogg.
  2. A record 4.5 percent of U.S. adults identify as LGBT, Gallup estimates
    The change is driven by millennials, 8% of whom identify as lgbt.
  3. Poor people die younger in the U.S. That skews American politics. – The Washington Post
  4. Inside the ‘free speech’ debate that rocked a Wisconsin campus, with ripples across the country | PBS NewsHour
    Ben Shapiro had to endure a protest for ten minutes, so the Wisconsin legislature passed a new law ambiguously outlawing dissent at speeches.
  5. The black truths of Jordan Peterson – Dreamflesh
    This lengthy article, by “Gyrus,” is the most interesting critique of Peterson I’ve read.
  6. Meta-analysis of field experiments shows no change in racial discrimination in hiring over time | PNAS
    “We find no change in the levels of discrimination against African Americans since 1989, although we do find some indication of declining discrimination against Latinos.”
  7. Judge Persky recall: Brock Turner trial may get voters to evict a judge – Vox
    This is an interesting article, pointing out that there are progressive reasons to be against (as well as for) this recall.
  8. How copyright law hides work like Zora Neale Hurston’s new book from the public – The Washington Post
    This is a very commonplace form of censorship that people largely forget about.
  9. Miss America scrapped the swimsuit competition. As a former Miss America winner, I say good riddance. – Vox
  10. Why Innocent People Plead Guilty | by Jed S. Rakoff | The New York Review of Books
    Years old, and lengthy, but very good. Written by a current judge and former prosecutor.
  11. What The Kanye Controversy Can Teach Us About Black Voters
    “The reactions to Kanye West’s noisy rightward lurch perfectly illustrated some important, particular dynamics about black voting behavior — why a country with so many black conservatives continues to have so few black Republicans.”
  12. Real ambition on global warming: what it would look like – Vox
  13. Why Democrats can’t win the ‘respect’ of Trump voters – The Washington Post
    “This is a game they cannot win, so they have to stop playing. Know at the outset that no matter what you say or do, Republicans will cry that you’re disrespecting good heartland voters.”
  14. The Marshmallow Test: What Does It Really Measure? – The Atlantic
    “The failed replication of the marshmallow test does more than just debunk the earlier notion; it suggests other possible explanations for why poorer kids would be less motivated to wait for that second marshmallow. For them, daily life holds fewer guarantees.”
  15. Federal judge accused ICE of making up evidence to prove that Dreamer was “gang-affiliated.”
    ICE agents repeatedly lied to a court – but, other than this one stern talking-to from a judge, they will face no repercussions at all.
  16. Migrant Caravan Detainees Claim Serious Mistreatment In Jail
    No one should be treated like this, period. But it’s worth noting that it’s perfectly legal for migrants to come to the US border to request asylum, as some of these folks did.
  17. The Cast For Prisoner Voting Rights
    “Mass incarceration robs prisoners of political power, and transfers that power to their jailers. This means that jailers have a vested interest in mass incarceration.”
  18. Private Florida schools receiving taxpayer dollars are teaching humans lived with dinosaurs — and slavery wasn’t so bad
  19. I’ve Written About Cultural Appropriation For 10 Years. Here’s What I Got Wrong.
  20. Black Like Them
    Interesting New Yorker article from Martin Gladwell, written in 1996, discusses issues of discrimination and the relative success of Jamaican immigrants.
  21. The Secret of West Indian Success, from the academic journal Society, by Suzanne Model (pdf link).
    One thing I find particularly interesting is that internal migrants – that is, Black Americans who moved from one part of America to another – have better economic outcomes than Black Americans on average, similar to the experience of West Indian immigrants to America.
  22. Anthony Bourdain took responsibility for toxic masculinity and called out his friends – Vox
  23. What Options Did an Accused Witch Have in Salem? – History of Massachusetts Blog
    Interestingly, only those who denied guilt ended up being executed. But pleading guilty had its own costs.
  24. The myth about smart black kids and “acting white” that won’t die – Vox
  25. Police Are Mislabeling Anti-LGBTQ and Other Crimes as anti-Heterosexual hate crimes — ProPublica
    Sometimes it’s as simple as accidentally marking the wrong checkbox.

Insects Up Close – Album on Imgur

Posted in Link farms | Leave a comment  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Helicopter Bug Edition

  1. Why it’s as hard to escape an echo chamber as it is to flee a cult | Aeon Essays
    “Where an epistemic bubble merely omits contrary views, an echo chamber brings its members to actively distrust outsiders. … They are not irrational, but systematically misinformed about where to place their trust.”
  2. Why I’m suing for my right to flip off the president – The Washington Post
  3. Evaluating the One-in-Five Statistic: Women’s Risk of Sexual Assault While in College: The Journal of Sex Research: Vol 54, No 4-5
    This 2017 article, while focused on the 1-in-5 statistic, is also a useful summary of much of the current state of sexual assault prevalence research.
  4. Revisiting “The Breakfast Club” in the Age of #MeToo, by Molly Ringwald | The New Yorker
    “How are we meant to feel about art that we both love and oppose? What if we are in the unusual position of having helped create it?”
  5. A new law intended to curb sex trafficking threatens the future of the internet as we know it
  6. SESTA Is Already Having Devastating Impacts on Sex Workers—Just Like They Predicted – Rewire.News
  7. Why Open-Plan Offices Don’t Work (And Some Alternatives That Do) | ArchDaily
  8. Jordan Peterson Resource Page | Noah Berlatsky on Patreon
    A list of links to various articles critiquing Peterson’s output.
  9. How Women See How Male Authors See Them | The New Yorker
    “Whit Reynolds ripped open a Pandora’s box of secondary sex characteristics when she challenged her Twitter followers to ‘describe yourself like a male author would.'”
  10. How the Quakers became unlikely economic innovators by inventing the price tag
    This is a three-minute video from Planet Money.
  11. What I learned about masculinity behind bars in Texas | Aeon EssaysContent warning for abuse, imprisonment, and self-harm. “When US media paints portraits of prisons, they always focus on the gangs, the violence, the rape and the racism. All of that is there, to be sure, but those events exist as lightening-like fissures in the slow cyclone of fatigued tedium.”
  12. For Trans Women, Beauty Standards Are an Impossible Balancing Act | Allure
  13. Fossil fuel supply: why it’s time to think seriously about cutting it off – Vox
  14. MuckRock’s guided tour of lesser-known DEA patches • MuckRock
    My jaw literally dropped. (And I’m using the word “literally” to mean “literally,” not “figuratively.”)
  15. The Case For Prisoner Voting Rights
  16. Publication Selection Bias in Minimum‐Wage Research? A Meta‐Regression Analysis
    Apparently there’s a publication selection bias in favor of studies which find the minimum wage raises unemployment.
  17. How to Stop Reliving Embarrassing Memories
    An interesting, but lengthy, article about the (still up in the air) science behind “cringe attacks.” Interestingly, the only people who don’t have this happen to them, are people who literally never forget anything.
  18. The photo on top shows three of the creations of Noah Deledda, who carves these sculptures out of soda cans with his bare hands. Here’s an animated gif showing his process.

Posted in Link farms | 138 Comments  

A PSA About Male Survivors of Sexual Trauma from 1in6

I think it speaks for itself. 1in6 is an organization worth knowing about in this regard. So is MaleSurvivor.

Posted in Rape, intimate violence, & related issues, sexual assault | 22 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Kingfisher Pisher Edition

  1. A New Reality? The Far Right’s Use of Cyberharassment against Academics | AAUP
    A dryly written, fascinating first-hand account.
  2. In 2016, a 10-year-old boy got decapitated while riding a Schlitterbahn water slide in Kansas City.
    Some jaw-dropping quotes from the indictment.
  3. How Trump favored Texas over Puerto Rico – POLITICO
    “Nine days after the respective hurricanes, FEMA had approved $141.8 million in individual assistance to Harvey victims, versus just $6.2 million for Maria victims.”
  4. The case for disarming America’s police force — Quartz
    “…an estimated one-third of Iceland residents own guns, making the country 15th worldwide in gun ownership per capita. Nonetheless, police in Iceland routinely patrol unarmed.”
  5. Norman Mailer Was Never Violent Towards Women, With Notably Rare Exceptions – Lawyers, Guns & Money
  6. Sex Workers Explain Why Congress’ Online Sex-Trafficking Bill Is Bulls**t
  7. As a sex historian, this is what I want you to know about the buying and selling of sex – iNews
    “I can categorically tell you that no attempt to abolish either the selling or buying of sex in the whole of human history has been effective. Not one.”
  8. Group That Opposes Sex Work Gave Money to Prosecutors’ Offices — and Got Stings Against Johns in Return
    This is troubling, to say the least – prosecutors have no business accepting money from private organizations. The organization bought not only stings, but the ability to make editorial changes to the prosecutors’ public statements.
  9. “…colleges and universities have four main revenue streams: state appropriations, research funding, gifts and endowments, and student tuition. The first three come with serious restrictions regarding their use. Generally speaking, state appropriations can only be used for educational expenses, research funding is largely spent on specific research projects, and endowments go toward the pet projects of wealthy donors. Only student tuition can be used for anything university administrators want…
  10. The five kinds of reactions to the ‘Roseanne’ reboot, across the political spectrum – The Washington Post
    I watched the first two episodes, and enjoyed them – it really did feel a lot like the original show, but also acknowledged how much the characters have aged. Roseanne Barr as a celebrity is an awful awful person, but she and her collaborators are nonetheless good at making this sitcom.
  11. The conspiracy theory behind a curious Roseanne Barr tweet, explained – The Washington Post
  12. Roseanne: ABC is about to announce Season 2 of reboot – Mar. 30, 2018
  13. Man freed after wrongful conviction, only to be taken into custody by immigration authorities – Chicago Tribune
    To be clear, the only reason he had lost his legal residence status is that he was convicted of a felony.
  14. Stephon Clark police shooting in Sacramento: autopsy released – Vox
    Surprisingly, I haven’t seen many people even attempt to argue that Clark is to blame for his own death. I really think it’s time to think about not allowing most cops to carry guns on duty, instead leaving guns to an elite group that goes through significant extra training and is only called in when guns are clearly necessary.
  15. The unwelcome revival of ‘race science’ | News | The Guardian
  16. A Spark Of Hope For Climate Change Reality : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR
    14 GOP House members – out of 238 – have joined a caucus to try to mitigate climate change. That’s 6%. Yay?
  17. “I finally compiled all my sources in one place and wrote some pre-made replies so now transphobes have the ability to shut the fuck up even more readily available to them.”
    Here’s the document; here’s their twitter.
  18. After 6 Years And 720,000 Attempts, Photographer Finally Takes Perfect Shot Of Kingfisher | Bored Panda

Posted in Link farms | 3 Comments  

A Blood Libel Against Muslims? It’s Not as Far Fetched as You Might Think

This woodcut, made in 1493 by Hartmann Schedel, depicts the so-called martyrdom of Simon of Trent, a boy whom the Jews of Trent were accused of murdering in 1475 so that they could use his blood during their Passover seder.

The blood libel, the myth that Jews ritually sacrifice and use the blood of Christian children as part of our religious practice, has been one of the most consistent tropes of antisemitism since the earliest known accusation was lodged in 1144 against the Jews of Norwich, England. Indeed, the staying power of this patently absurd notion has been remarkable. Even in the 21st century, when you’d think people would know better, blood libel accusations have been used to dehumanize Jews and justify violence against us, most recently—at least according to Wikipedia—on August 22, 2014, when Sheik Bassam Ammoush, a former Jordanian ambassador to Iran and a member of the Jordanian Senate, gave a sermon on the official Jordanian TV channel in which he said the following:

In Gaza we are dealing with the enemies of Allah, who believe that the matzos that they bake on their holidays must be kneaded with blood. When the Jews were in the diaspora, they would murder children in England, in Europe, and in America. They would slaughter them and use their blood to make their matzos…They believe that they are God’s chosen people. They believe that the killing of any human being is a form of worship and a means to draw near their god.

Ammoush’s concluding assertion, that Jews believe we draw near to god through the killing of other human beings, bears a striking resemblance to what Laurent Murawiec says about what he calls “contemporary Islamic terrorism” in his book, The Mind of Jihad:

Gruesome murder and gory infliction of pain are lionized and proffered as models, as exemplary actions pleasing Allah and opening the gates of paradise. The highest religious authorities sanction or condone it, government authorities approve and organize it, intellectuals and the media praise them. From one end of the Muslim world to the other, similar reports abound. (21)

The Mind of Jihad purports to be an intellectual examination of quote contemporary Islamic terrorism unquote. Even in the above, very short passage, however, which conflates the ideology behind such terrorism with the ideological entirety of “the Muslim world,” Murawiec’s flawed assumptions are prominently on display. These assumptions, evident throughout the book, led at least one serious reviewer to call the volume racist.

Nonetheless, precisely because Murawiec’s thinking seems to parallel the logic of blood libel accusations brought against Jews, it’s worth looking a little more closely at what he says. “Islamic terror,” he writes, for example, “in its use of human sacrifice [by which he means things like the beheadings committed by ISIS], has strayed farther and farther away from…the prohibition [of that kind of practice] enshrined in the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Horeb.” As a result—and note the conflation of “Islamic terrorism” with the entirety of Islam—”Islamic practice or, in a way, contemporary Islam [has been reshaped]” (20-21).

Contemporary Islam, in other words, at least according to Murawiec, has become the antithesis of Judaism and Christianity, religions which, if only through their prohibition of human sacrifice, value the inherent humanity of all people. The origin of this transformation, Murawiec argues, can be traced to a moment of literal bloodthirst in November 1971, when Jordan’s Prime Minister Wasfi al-Tell was assassinated by members of the Palestinian group known as Black September. This was how Time magazine, in its December 13th issue, reported the incident that Murawiec finds so significant, “Before security forces could drag him away, one of the assassins knelt beside Tell’s body and sucked up some blood. ‘I drank until my thirst was quenched,’ he said later in a statement to Egyptian police” (Time, “Rancorous Road to Peace,” 45).

It does not matter to Murawiec that Black September was a secular and nationalist organization, not a religious one, or that the assassination was in direct retaliation for al-Tell’s alleged torture and execution of Fatah commander Abu Ali Iyad in the aftermath of the military conflict fought between the PLO and Jordan in September of 1970. Murawiec, in other words, does not even consider the possibility that the assassin’s literal bloodlust was specific and personal and had nothing to do with “pleasing Allah and opening the gates of paradise.” For Murawiec, the moment that assassin drank his victim’s blood is the moment that “the idolization of blood, the veneration of savagery, the cult of killing, the worship of death” become “[i]nseparable from contemporary Islamic terrorism,” reshaping what it means to be a Muslim today into the antithesis of what it means to be a human being (21).

Murawiec, of course, does not put it quite so bluntly, but the people who rely on his ideas certainly do. One of those is our former National Security Advisor, Lt. General Michael T. Flynn, who, in a book called Field of Fight, refers to al-Tell’s assassination, quotes Murawiec, and then writes these three sentences:

Do you want to be ruled by men who eagerly drink the blood of their dying enemies? Such questions are almost never asked. Yet if you read the publicly available ISIS documents on their intentions, there’s no doubt that they are dead set on taking us over and drinking our blood. (158)

The publicly available document to which Flynn refers here—as far as I’ve been able to tell there is only one—is a video posted online in 2014, in which a self-proclaimed ISIS militant declares that “we are a people who love drinking blood.” That lone video, however, especially in the absence of any concrete evidence that the soldiers of ISIS are in fact drinking the blood of their enemies, hardly qualifies as a declaration of an ISIS-wide practice. Nor does it qualify as anything even remotely resembling a religious justification. Indeed, given that there is no concrete evidence to the contrary, it’s hard not to see this militant’s reference to drinking blood as anything other than propagandistic hyperbole. That Flynn would take it literally speaks to how deeply-seated and all-encompassing his hatred of Muslims actually is.

Flynn had to resign as National Security Adviser almost as soon as he was appointed, and so the potential for his ideas to have an obvious and immediate national impact is much diminished; and—as far as I can tell—the same is more or less true for Murawiec’s book, which has been pretty thoroughly discredited. Nonetheless, the fact that the ideas are out there means that they are available for someone to use, and it’s here that the history of the origin of the blood libel against Jews offers an important, and perhaps cautionary, point of reference. Continue reading

Posted in Anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia | 6 Comments  

Some Photos From My Israel Trip

Hey folks! More photos from my trip to Israel. Some of these have already been posted on Twitter, but most of them I’m posting for the first time.

Jerusalem. I don’t understand why I find the sight of mountainside cityscapes so immensely satisfying.

In Tsfat, a tiny man took a stroll atop my head. Truly a magical city.

Seriously, though, Tsfat was beautiful.

Billboard in Tsfat.

In an archeological dig at Biet Gurvron. We dug into the dirt, looked for artifacts, hauled the dirt out in buckets, and sieved the dirt looking for more artifacts. I feel sure that this will be the only time in my life the phrase “please pass me the pickaxe” will pass my lips.

Me with a pottery shard I found. The shard (along with many others) was categorized according to the room it was found in; now the real archeologists will wash it and see if it has any usefulness for their project.

I’ve met a LOT of authors on this Israel trip. Including these four: Dr. Chaim Peri (with the mustache), Shmuel Yilma, Goldy Moldavsky, and Meir Shalev.

(Okay, in three of those four cases, I didn’t “meet” them so much as “I got to hear them speak in a small room.” But I can honestly say I’ve met Goldy and she’s awesome.)

In Jerusalem, our group got to visit an archeological site that isn’t yet open to the general public. (PJ Media knows people!) Up above is an artist’s rendition of what the site looked like over 2000 years ago.

And here I am, actually on that ancient road, which is still being dug out. Which was cool, but not the coolest part.

After that, we walked through the 2000+ year-old water drainage tunnel! We walked three quarters of a mile through this tunnel, most of it narrow enough so that my shoulders brushed the sides, sometimes so narrow that I had to take off my backpack and turn sideways to proceed. Our guide to this dig (who was not our usual guide) didn’t warn us that we’d be going through this tunnel, nor how long it would be, so walking through it felt extra surreal and thrilling.

The drainage tunnel came out by the foundations of the Western Wall. Because these stones were never intended to be seen, they’re not nicely finished like the stones of the Wall above the ground are. (We also visited the Wall in the usual place later that day. The area where men get to visit the Wall was much larger, and hence much less crowded, than the area where the women get to visit the wall).

In your face, Paris and Manhattan!

In an Orthodox quarter of Jerusalem. Our guide described this wall as “Facebook for the Ultra Orthodox community.”


Possibly the most exciting moment of the trip: We visited the lab where experts work to preserve the Dead Sea Scrolls. This lab is not open to the public, so we were very lucky to be able to visit. This is an actual Dead Sea scroll we saw, not a reproduction. It’s sewn between two pieces of specially-made cloth – the sewing only touching the cloth around the scroll, not the scroll itself – so it can be held in place without any damaging residue.

The Hebrew on this scroll, which was written somewhere around 400 BCE, was legible to the folks in our group who are fluent in Hebrew.

A bottle of cleaning fluid in the lab. I can only assume this product is made from ground-up tiny magical creatures.

Posted in Mind-blowing Miscellania and other Neat Stuff | Comments Off  

Giant Faces On Storefronts In Jerusalem

Yesterday was a great day in Jersusalem. I visited the Wall, but in an unexpected place; visited an archeological dig that’s not open to the public (!); and got very lost in the old city. I’ll be posting more details and photos of that as I have time.

I also spent some time wandering shops at and near Shuk Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem yesterday. I especially enjoyed the number of gigantic faces painted on stores, often on the security awnings that were pulled down when the stores were closed. So here’s a few of those:

Continue reading

Posted in Mind-blowing Miscellania and other Neat Stuff | Comments Off