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The ticking of the proverbial nuclear clock in Iran has already delivered a blow, not to the physical land of Israel, but to its spirit and moral standing. The threat of Tehran is dire, to be sure, but that imminent potential—which is ironically entering its 10th year of existence, has diminished Israel’s vision and foresight. Jewish politicians talk about Iran as if it were simply another dark, hopeless, and eternally hostile place. Whereas Jews have more reasons than most people to be committed to the notion of remembering, Israel’s leaders all seem to be afflicted with amnesia when it comes to Iran. Hundreds of years ago, it was Persia that gave sanctuary to Jewish refugees fleeing the Promised Land after the fall of the First Temple. It was this historic displacement that moved Cyrus the Great to invent the famed cylinder, the first prototype for the international declaration of human rights. And if history is hard to keep in the forefront of the consciousness, then there are the myths we, Jews, celebrate about ancient Persia. The festival of Purim, for instance, narrates the tale of Persia’s King Achashverosh who was philo-semitic enough to choose a Jew as his queen and sacrifice an anti-semitic court advisor in favor of his beloved wife’s uncle. –“Under the Veil,” Roya Hakakian, World Affairs
Do you know what [Guy Fieri's] Minute to Win It reminds me of? This may surprise you, but this game show has religion written all over it. The word ‘religion’ literally means ‘to bind back’ – or in other words, to return to bondage. Religion is a bunch of silly rules and games made by people who look and sound like the impressive clergyman in The Princess Bride –“Mawwiage! Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today.” Can you hear them? “Religion! Religion is what bwings us togethew today.” Do you want a million dollar relationship with God? Then bind yourself back by going to church, eating this, but don’t eat that, pray this way but not that way, and most importantly remember that salvation is a prize you have to earn by contorting your soul until you are spiritually beat down. That’s why Jesus hated religion. That’s why He came to earth and lived a perfect life, completed all the requirements, and won the prize on our behalf. He offers – not religion – but relationship. As someone once said: All religions say “DO,” but true Christianity says “DONE.” –Minute to Pray It,” Lane Palmer, The Christian Post
One day on the streets of Alexandria, Egypt in the year 415 or 416, a mob of Christian zealots led by Peter the Lector accosted a woman’s carriage, dragged her from it and into a church, where they stripped her and beat her to death with roofing tiles. They then tore her body apart and burned it. Who was this woman and what was her crime? Hypatia was one of the last great thinkers of ancient Alexandria and one of the first women to study and teach mathematics, astronomy and philosophy. Though she is remembered more for her violent death, her dramatic life is a fascinating lens through which we may view the plight of science in an era of religious and sectarian conflict. –“Hypatia, Ancient Alexandria’s Great Female Scholar,” Sarah Zielinski, Smithsonian
Only Pittsburgh still loves Mr. Rogers and other tales of the slow death of culture:
you too can be an “Executive Temp” (pay commensurate);
what if wars of global domination and mass slaughter were fought on Facebook?
Trudy Lieberman reports on the failed promise of the Affordable Care Act, Sarah A. Topol explores Ukraine’s struggle for a national identity, Dave Madden spends a week in Hollywood’s toughest comedy club, and more
Number of insect fragments allowed by the FDA in a standard jar of peanut butter:
It emerged that, in trying to count her rings, marine geologists had accidentally killed a 507-year-old clam named Ming.
A resident of Chalk Level Township in Missouri discovered the bodies of three dogs packed inside dog-food bags.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”