Radio Silence In 3, 2, 1…

Tomorrow begins my first bout of traveling abroad. I will be going to the Netherlands, followed by a trip up to northern Germany. There is a 95% chance that I will not have any opportunity to write a blog post while I am gone.

This means that if you’re really desperate to read my writings, check the archives and look for some classics.

When will I be back? The 4th of Ju-anuary*.

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Miscellaneous Linux Notes

1)  I have learned about taarich today.  It tells me the date.  Today is 5 Tevet, 5767, if you didn’t know already.

2)  I have set up my computer to kind of work with Hebrew typing, which is extra-cool.  I got the idea from this forum post.  Here is the command:  setxkbmap -option grp:switch,grp:shift_toggle,grp_led:scroll us,il

3)  !אני לומד עורית טוב מאוד

4)  It took me roughly 4 minutes to type out #3 due to the fact that the key positions are totally wacky.  Why put the equivalent to “m” at “n” and the equivalent of “n” at “b” and the equivalent to “v” and “b” at neither “b” nor “v”?  I blame the Jews.  To see why I am kvetching, look at the keyboard here.

5)  Firefox still sucks.

Miscellaneous Notes

– I have not been outside my house in 2 1/2 days.
– During this time, I decided not to shave.  This means that yes, I had a Drei Tage Bart.
– This is now gone because I hate facial hair on me.
– I will have to leave my house today, even though I fear that nothing will be open.  Stupid Christian holidays…  Maybe one of the Turkish shops is open today; we shall see.
– My next non-obligatory Internets reading will be this.

Ranking Joshua’s Conquests, Part 1

I am in the process of reading the Book of Joshua, which is really freaking sweet. There’s none of this “And Zanzibar, the son of Hebron the son of Zeke the son of Morty the son of … of the tribe of Judah did count and there were nineteen thousand and seven hundred and twenty and four men of the tribe. And Mortimer the son of…” stuff in there. No, sir-ee, this is the action side: the conquest of Eretz Yisrael and smacking down the Canaanites. Now, before I begin, let me talk about genocide for a moment. Y’see, kids, genocide’s not very cool, and the only places in which total genocide was legally practiced (as far as I am aware) was within the borders of Eretz Yisrael, and the reason for it is that the Canaanites were so repulsive that they had spoiled the holy land. Folks in Egypt and Babylon, for example, were at least as bad as those in Canaan, as noted by how Abraham and Isaac both had to pretend that their wives were their sisters so as to not be murdered. But there was never any call for genocide among the Egyptians or Babylonians. In addition, there were three conditions which a Canaanite kingdom faced:
1) Evacuate Eretz Yisrael and thereby not be harmed (as once they left, they were no longer a special enemy and their moral perversions were relatively unimportant)
2) Keep the 7 laws of Noach, pay taxes, and perform national service. The 7 laws of Noach aren’t exactly too harsh, and though “national service” is kind of vague and fuzzy, it was hardly out of line with contemporary practices.
3) Face total war and get slaughtered. That was also not exactly unheard of at the time.

So basically, I’m trying to make genocide acceptable in this one case because it was a one-time situation. So if the people of Equador wish to declare total war on Latvia and kill every man, woman, child, and animal, I’m saying that this is not very cool.

So now for the rankings.

Jericho – This is G-d showing all of His angry and vengeful might. The Hebrews circle the city once a day for six days, and then six times on the seventh, and bam! the wall comes down and a slaughter is had by all. Joshua also kept the promise to protect Rahab and her family and levels an extra-cool curse on the city. All in all, this is what combat should be about. A+ (due to the miracle)

Ai, first battle – But alas, there is a problem. Achan, jerkstore of Carmi, son of blah, blah, blah, stole some consecrated goods from Jericho. Because of this, the Israelites get powned by the forces of Ai. Furthermore, Joshua just sends out a contingent rather than being the man with the plan. 36 people died, although the commentary states that it is possible that one guy who was worth 36 judges died, so there’s a 35-man discrepancy here, but that’s what you get for trying to use the prophets as a factual history book. D-

The battle of Achan – Joshua, after getting the snot kicked out of him, now decides to pray and atone, and as part of the atoning, there’s a stoning followed by a burning followed by a second stoning. That’s some overkill there; save it for the Canaanites, eh? C

Ai, second battle – In this battle, Joshua uses some extra-powerful tactics. He sends an army to the rear of the city and has them waiting for an ambush. Joshua, meanwhile, takes a small force and attempts to feign a direct assault. His troops are “beaten back” by the forces of Ai, and as this happens, the rear guard snaps in and conquers the city. The forces of Ai, apparently not leaving appropriate reserves in the city itself, get trapped in a pincers action and annihilated. The real beauty of this strategy is the feigned retreat. This was a Hannibal specialty, but in an ancient army, it was almost impossible to pull off. The reason is that once people start falling back, there’s a tendency for them to keep going, as they have neither the discipline nor the desire to be the last man standing. So there is a Prisoner’s Dilemma situation here that only highly trained soldiers can overcome. Joshua’s did so, and thus I get them an A-

Gibeonites – This just sucked. Joshua and the judges all got fooled bad. The Girgashites escaped to Africa because they did not want to face the Hebrews. The Gibeonites at first were willing to fight, but then changed their minds, and they tricked Joshua and the judges into allowing them to live. They did so because they believed that there was a time limit attached to the demand that they migrate, surrender, or die. D+

Gibeon – This battle saw Joshua’s army face off against 5 Amorite kings as Joshua had to save Gibeon from distruction. The battle took place on Friday afternoon, and Joshua wanted it to end before sundown, so he commanded the sun and the moon to stop. This shows how hardcore Joshua is: he doesn’t ask G-d to stop the sun and the moon; rather, he stops them himself. Not even James Earl Jones or Samuel L. Jackson could do that. During the battle, G-d chips in by crushing the Amorites with hailstones. A+

Makkedah, Cave – After the Amorite kings retreated, they holed up in a cave in Makkedah. Joshua got word and had the cave sealed by his men while the rest fought the Amorite forces. The Hebrews won and they took the kings out of the cave and killed all of them. Joshua himself did the killing and subsequent hanging. Because the battle itself was so weak, I cannot give it a good grade, but the fact that Joshua did his own dirty work means that he still earns a C+ here.

Makkedah, City – This king was killed in battle and the city utterly destroyed. C

Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Eglon, Hebron, Debir – All of these follow the same path: go to city, kill all inhabitants, kill king in battle. Kind of boring at this point, really, considering what’s happened already. C-

First Draft Almost Done

The first draft of my paper is almost done.  I haven’t yet come up with a snazzy title but I did pretty much everything I expected to do.  I am roughly a quarter of the way through my bibliography and will finish that up tonight.  Then I’ll just let this paper sit for a few days, and when I come back, I’ll give it a thorough go-over.  After this, I will put it up on the Interwebs for people to steal from and not cite me because they’re a bunch of jerks and I’m going to ram a garden hose where it shouldn’t go because of this.

For Want Of A Book

I have started writing my seminar paper on terrorism, which I will make available to anybody who wants it after I complete the paper.  Unfortunately, I realized quite late that I need a little bit of an FA Hayek book:  Law, Legislation, and Liberty Volume 2.  I want to talk about his notion of the tribal society (as opposed to Popper’s closed society idea, which is slightly different) but, sadly, I did not bring my LLL collection with me this year.  Why not?  I’m a shmuck, that’s why.  And there are no libraries around which will be open before the break ends, so basically, I am screwed on that.  I’ll have to do some work on the paper on January 8th and 9th, but fortunately, it should only be about half a page or so, and I already know what I want to say; it’s just a matter of fitting in a quotation and couple of citations.

In the meantime, I have come down with a weak case of The Sick.   This is my excuse for not posting so much yesterday…


It is about time that people will allow me to keep my banana from getting bruised.  I’m sick of unsightly bruises and discoloration brought about by lack of care.

Tony, meanwhile, is on the phone buying these by the dozen, in the off chance that he will need to protect his banana from bruising.

And I feel bad on the inside for having engaged in such a puerile joke.  Now I’m going to go and make jokes about the Crimean War.  Oh, you silly brigade, you don’t have to charge uphill!