SailBlogs
Bookmark and Share

Profile
Who: Kimball Corson. Text and Photos not disclaimed or that are obviously not mine are copyright (c) Kimball Corson 2004-2013
Port: Lake Pleasant, AZ
View Complete Profile »
 
 
 
 
SailBlogs Friends
Trim 
 
The Great and Coming Islamic Civil War
Kimball Corson
05/05/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

ISIS or the Islamic State has its roots and theology grounded in the thinking behind al Qaeda. It is a fanatical form of Sunniism that adopts "the prophet method" which has everyone seek to emulate Mohammad in all things. It is a contentious belief system that looks vigilantly for apostasy in all nooks and crannies of daily life. Not only is denying the holiness of the Koran or Mohammad apostatic, but so are many other acts that can purge a Muslim from Islam and his head. These include, in certain cases, selling alcohol or drugs, wearing Western clothes or shaving one's beard, voting in an election, even for a Muslim candidate, and, here is the war mongering kicker -- being lax about calling other people apostates.

Being a Shiite, as most Iraqi Arabs and Iranians are, meets the standard, too. The Islamic State regards Shiism as innovation, and to innovate on the Koran is to deny its initial perfection, another form of apostasy. The punishment for apostasy is death (except for conquered Christians if they pay a tax). Some 200 million Arabs and Persians are Shiites and so all are marked for death. So too are any Muslims who elevate man-made law above Sharia by any means.

Following this takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people, primarily apostatic Shiites. It is actively organizing toward that end, filling the world with refugees. It has a holy agenda, once it consolidates and stabilizes its territories.These are the roots of the coming Muslim civil war where believers in different variations of Islam are targeted for death by the Islam State.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been the leader of the ISIS since May 2010,when he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, and delivered the Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in many generations. His self appointment has been accepted by the Muslim State, but not the Sunni Wahhabi nation of Saudi Arabia which is fighting the ISIS for control of the capital and country of Yemen.

The hope, of course, the ISIS will do itself in fighting with other non-ISIS Sunnis, but failing that, then with all the Shiite Arabs, Persians and others of the world. Big trouble is a foot in the Arab world and we had best stay out of it and keep most Muslims out of the US as trouble in the making. Here is why. In September, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the Islamic State's chief spokesman, called on Muslims in Western countries to find an infidel and "smash his head with a rock," poison him, run him over with a car, or "destroy his crops." Being Muslim is now enough. How do we know any will not follow this mandate? We are fools to guess or ask.

My Missing Friend, Ms. Plover
Kimball Corson
05/05/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

My friend, a nameless, female South Pacific Plover, has disappeared. I am accustomed to seeing her daily at one of her usual two contiguous places, but she has been missing since April 5th.

I think she may have started her migratory trip home. She will fly almost 6,000 miles back to the Summer highlands of Alaska to breed in the tundra with her life-long mate who does not accompany her on vacation.

Obviously, she doesn't fly straight through, but will take rest stops along the way. She probably targets to get there by mid-June. We don't know whether she can rest or sleep on open water.

Still, it is a hell of a feat for a small bird. And she does it twice a year -- up and back. I wonder how she navigates. She always comes back to her same winter residence, American Samoa, which is a tiny dot in a huge ocean. That is 12,000 miles a year of flying. Her expected life span is 15 years. So she probably does that for about 12 years or so or pushing 150,000 miles.

I'd like to see that yellow assed Big Bird on Sesame Street try that. She said he is an insult to birds everywhere.
My hat is off to this little bird. Here is an actual photograph of her I took. I am sorry I won't see her again.
_______

I miss seeing her each day and wonder how her great trip home is going. She left without even packing her bags or eating up for the trip.

The Republican Effort to Destroy the Economy
Kimball Corson
05/05/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

This Republican congress wants to eliminate the inheritance tax, which instead should be raised and made more progressive, thereby losing a quarter of a trillion dollars in revenue (a trillion, if the tax were done properly). It also wants to lower income taxes on the richest 5,500 Americans. Of course this means middle income taxpayers, program cuts and deficits (opposed by Republicans) will be needed to cover these revenue losses. Republicans think, based on their "trickle up" economics, this is a great program for the economy. They are currently blind and and more generally, flat-assed wrong.

This is a perfect example of how the government is acting to directly make the distribution of income much worse in the US and by so doing it is rendering the US economy ever more dysfunctional and debilitated, resulting in --

--relatively diminished aggregate demand,
--excess productive means,
--idled resources,
--growing un and under employment,
--greater domestic and off shore hoarding by the rich,
--a surplus of labor in the US, and
--the collapse of investment expenditure for want of demand,

all notwithstanding DZ's Horatio Alger prattle to the contrary. (A lifetime of hard work . . . skimming rents, hoarding, evading taxes and cheating other people.)The business community aka, the well-to-do, much too much lies and cheats to get its money, as the world outside of it clearly recognizes.) We are not in this worsening economic malaise for no reason

Obama should exercise his veto power and not be dissuaded from doing so. Otherwise, he is simply -- as he has been too often in the past -- complicit in the result. A Democratic president with huevos is needed from the 2016 elections. Wake up America. Don't be sheep led to the slaughter.

The Causes of the Financial Crisis
Kimball Corson
05/05/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

The Community Reinvestment Act, Fanny Mae, Freddy Mac, and the federal government played minimal roles in the financial crash.The government did not mandate the housing bubble as some claim. The government did, however, allow the financial crisis by removing financial regulations that had successfully prevented it earlier.

Greedy private mortgage brokers nationwide and their greedy private lenders caused the bubble for the most part when they discovered they could sell mortgage loans even to anything that breathed and moved, grabbing and splitting the huge up front mortgage fees, all after they discovered they could sell off those mortgages, many of which were dicey, ASAP to greedy investment bankers who created and hawked "low risk" (supposedly from diversification) Mortgage Backed Securities to others, including each other, smaller banks, pension funds and other financial institutions. The rating agencies and derivatives hugely helped this MBS effort. A pipeline was created. It crashed when the housing market crashed and created the financial crash and Great Recession.

The government did little of consequence except to, as usual, provide easy money and kill the earlier existing regulations. The FBI, after investigation, said it had never seen such massive fraud on a nationwide scale (by the mortgage brokers and their lenders) but the SEC blocked the FBI and Justice Department from acting by claiming exclusive jurisdiction and then never itself acting.

Too many don't understand this. The investment banks knew many of the loans they were were buying were largely suspect but thought by creating MBS's they could sell them off, with better mortgages and rating agency and derivatives help, as low risk investments by virtue of diversification. The risk models they were using said so. When the housing bubble popped, after being pumped up by so many loans, including no credit, low credit questionable mortgage loans, in the primary mortgage market, the ensuing financial crisis took out the entire private investment or shadow banking industry in America, that is, all investment banks that were not also lending institutions.

Primary lenders and their mortgage brokers were the real culprits. They wrote and sold the mortgages loans to buy the houses and pushed their prices up. The government and others, except for the investment banks had hugely less to do with it. The bubble was created in the primary mortgage market. Neither Fannie Mac, nor Freddy Mac (nor the CRA) was major player there either. Private lenders lacked any restrictions and did not enforce their own loan standards once they saw the fees they could share in and that they could quickly dump their loans. The problem was in the primary mortgage market which created the mortgage loans and fueled the housing bubble, not in the secondary mortgages market which thereafter bought, packaged and resold them, except for the investment banks and shadow banks and their activities, as noted.

There is much misunderstanding here and much confusion between the two markets.

A Troublesome Conflict
Kimball Corson
05/05/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Compassion is squarely pitted against self preservation or at least the European way of life. Rafts, in some cases literally, of illegal migrants from Somalia (Muslims, all), Africa and the war torn parts of the Muslim world are trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya and northern Africa and get into Southern Europe. While only a sea, the Med in a fit, can be as treacherous as any ocean. Stowed in vessels not up to the task, illegal migrants are dying in numbers trying to make the crossing to Europe and a better life. From Europe's point of view, a large wave of illegal immigrants is trying to lay siege to its geography and way of life. As Horace put it, those who cross seas, change their skies, but not their souls. Immigrants' luggage and their problems come with them.

For its part, and after considerable experience with an earlier Muslim influx, Europe is quietly electing to close its doors. It is reducing search and rescue operations in the eastern Med and telling humanitarian organizations which are protesting the loss of life from crossing attempts, that it will study the problem in the future. It is largely a stall and dodge. Expect more of it. Europe is eschewing compassion and electing self preservation of its way of life, in the face of a bare brown-footed, illiterate Muslim onslaught. But lives in some numbers are at stake.

And there is the conflict. Is Europe wrong? What should it do? Who is to bear the expense? Aren't the decisions of Muslim migrants their own responsibility? What role here should compassion play? What of Europe's earlier bad experiences with Muslim immigrants. Is being Muslim becoming synonymous with being a large or small problem? Is the phrase "a good Muslim" becoming oxymoronic?

My personal solution is spend the money on SAR to save lives, but then ship them back to Africa and not let them into Europe. Other parts of the world similar to, but safer than where they came from, are not war torn and habitable.Think of the expense as a collateral cost of doing business or living the way the Europeans do. The expense is not really that large. This balances a measure of compassion with significant protection of Europe's way of life. Europe still has its hands full with the last wave of Muslim migrants.

Tid Bits
Kimball Corson
05/05/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Tid-Bits
Spreading a small dollop of jelly evenly over the ungreased porous surface of an unbuttered, toasted English muffin is basically a math problem. With jelly of a designated viscosity, the trick is to spread the dollop quickly enough so as to have it not fill up the craters near the start and have you run out jelly before reaching the other side. Too fast and there is left over jelly on the other side. A tough problem to start the day.
______

If there were a God, and if he/she/it wanted to persuade the world there was indeed a God and a heaven, I think she should fill the skies worldwide for a half an hour or so with selected excepts at volume of Stowoski's transcriptions of Bach for full orchestra.(The idea of an orchestra came after Bach.) No biblical or Koranic tale or verses could match that. Think of it as musically modulated and orchestrated thunder. I'd buy a ticket for the show, and if I had never heard of Bach or listened to his music, I might even become a believer.

How the Rich Take from the Poor
Kimball Corson
05/05/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

There is the notion among the rich that they are wholly self made and so everything that lands in their hands is theirs, forever and ever. This premise is patently false. The rich take from the poor, their parents and anyone else they can get from. Getting is their principal business.

If the earth were suddenly laid barren of all they do not hold title to, how could they continue to get their riches or use their existing riches? They couldn't. There would be no roads, no fire protection, no police protection, no employees, publicly educated or not, no markets -- nothing. In effect, they would lose everything they need to make more money and what they have would be lost and useless.They refuse to recognize this interdependence and its value.

Roads, infrastructure, public education, police and fire protection have all been paid for by the middle class for the most part. (That they are now less able to do so because of their new relative poverty imposed on them is why our infrastructure is in such shambles). The rich would have nothing but useless paper. The rich have a huge debt to the middle class they refuse to recognize and now they want to cut taxes on themselves in disavowal of this debt and out of greed.

But it is worse than that, much worse. They have used the aggregate Federal Tax Code to effect further net transfers from the middle class to themselves in large quantities. Our pretax income distribution is bad enough, but after taxes, subsidies and transfers, our income distribution is much worse, indeed, the worst in the civilized world. Subsidies to the rich -- in the form of direct subsidies (to oil, to agriculture and to many other businesses in many forms), monopolistic advantages, special exclusive privileges, exclusive rights and advantages and the like are through the roof and worth trillions. Just direct subsidies massively dwarf all public welfare to the poor and much else. We simply don't hear about this problem 1) because Republican rhetoric flies so strongly in the oppose direction to distract, 2) because no one looks at the numbers, and 3) because too few are capable of understanding.

Another huge set of transfers from the middle class to the rich are 1) the gift by the government to them of the banking franchise without charge or fee. This isn't included in the Tax Code transfers. This privilege set is humongous and as big as the profits of our entire banking system. There is no reason it cannot be charged for, to reimburse the middle class. The same is true of 2) the gift of the airways and frequency spectrum for all radio, TV and commercial uses. Gifts all to the rich and wealthy with no charge or reimburse to to the middle class worth peanuts. Again, the dollars involved here are through the roof. These two alone are in the trillions.

Then of course there is the Fed which works hard to depress interest rates and push the value of assets held by the rich up much higher to make them yet richer, but this isn't a transfer from the middle class. It is simply another way the government helps the rich but not the middle class and poor. It is truly a government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich. America is been left out of the shuffle.

This is a seriously stacked deck where the government aids the rich mostly at the expense of the middle class and poor. Again, only ignorance keeps us from understanding these matters. It is the modern day gift of the commons to the rich all over again, at the expense of everyone else. And we are surprised the distribution of income is skewing to the point of destroying our economy for want of aggregate demand and from excessive hoarding. How stupid can we get?

The middle class has been fucked by the federal government.working in collusion with the rich, and those in the middle class are now seriously hurting for it along with the economy. The mega bucks spent by the rich on lobbyists are not for nothing. And yet there are still those with blinders on who claim they are self made rich and all they can lay hands on is theirs forever and ever. A real Alice in Wonderland fantasy we let them indulge in.

Excuses, Excuses
Kimball Corson
05/05/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

I found a good reason to get my ass in gear, do my boat work and get on my way to Fiji rather than rely on my phony excuses justifying my slough. (I actually did some boat work today and have more planned for tomorrow.) The excuse is I am living near a geologic hot spot on the edge of a tectonic plate.

The hot spot is where the great Pacific tectonic plate moving west tears in half as it collides with the great Australian plate. The south half of the Pacific plate dives deeper under water to go under the Australian plate and forms the great Tongan trench along its edge which is some six miles deep. The other half of the Pacific plate, with Samoa, American Samoa and other nearby smaller islands perched precariously on its edge, goes over the Australian plate and keeps on heading west toward China at the rate of three inches a year, taking us with it.

At the tear point once directly under us, there is a geologic hotspot that keeps on spitting up new volcanic islands in a sting out to the east out behind us as the Pacific plate moves on further west. Samoa, a mere ten miles away to the west of us, is about a million years older than American Samoa here to the east. American Samoa is just the heavily vegetated month of a volcanic crater that last showed activity about 100 years ago. It rises up about a half a mile high at its highest point, but that is just the tip of the mountain which then goes another 3 miles or so down under water. So don't wiggle your toes and expect to touch bottom a half mile off shore away from the reefs. These are not the waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast where some parts of the Great Georgia Banks are under 15 feet deep.

New islands keep forming at the hot spot. One new island is forming there now, about 40 miles to the east of American Samoa. But it will probably be another two hundred years before this volcano breaks the surface. Subsurface volcanic action is building up this new island quickly. In 2005, it was 1800 feet below the surface and growing up quickly, in geologic terms. New islands will keep popping up behind us to the east at the same hot spot, as the string of islands already formed continues to move westward to China and spread out along the plate's edge.

Now tell me that is not a good excuse to get moving.

On Being a Traitor to My Class
Kimball Corson
05/05/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

So I have been called by several over the years. This note explains why.

My father was most unusual in that was he both comfortable and very facile in both the Latin and Anglo cultures and worlds. After an Ivy league education, he worked his way up in Latin America after WWI to become the senior vice president of sales for Standard Oil for all of Latin America south of the US border. (Yes, they use gasoline down there too.) After that, he became a senior US diplomat in charge of US AID programs in a series of Latin countries while at the same time working, beginning earlier, as an FBI field agent and later a CIA agent. Rarely are active agents such high ranking diplomats (ranked immediately below the Ambassador in the American colony).

Thereafter, he became the senior vice president of finance for one of Mexico's Fortune top 20 companies, the only American among the senior officers of all of Mexico's Fortune 500 companies at the time. Both he and my mother, who was a Professor of Literature at a Mexican university, had highly developed sensibilities regarding Mexico Antiguo and its history and traditions, much preferring the friendships, graciousness and humor of high born Latin culture.

They enjoyed money, but their hearts were not in it and they preferred good company, gracious living, travel and other things more. To them, money was a lubricant in life; not an engine. I came along at the end of my father's work for Standard Oil and spent several years growing up and traveling in Latin America while he was a diplomat working for US AID. I saw firsthand and understood the poverty in this world and what he was trying to do about it.

After putting the three boys from his fist marriage through Williams College, which he thought was a colossal waste of money, my father tossed my brother and I to the wind, telling my mother, we were healthy, smart and ambitious and we would get out of life exactly what we wanted. But we had to decide. He was correct, as she later conceded. We both quickly pursued good educations. My brother studied international business, languages and finance and followed in our father's footsteps. I studied mathematics and economics, then law and finally developed a general love of ideas. A law practice was slipped in there and it proved quite remunerative. But money, nor much about its trappings per se, never captured my fancy. Ideas intrigued me more.

So why a traitor, I've been asked. Much has to do with my innate sense of fairness, which was furthered by both my parents in a very understated but powerful way, down to my father's very work. I was also subconsciously very affected by the poverty I saw around me in Latin America. Finally, much has also had to do with my training in economics. And much of that, in turn, has to do with where I got most of that education and training - at The University of Chicago‚Äč, the intellectual munitions plant which develops, uses and rationalizes economics to protect the interests of the wealthy. I learned first-hand and up close how it was done and why. Given my background and world sense, it was a major eye-opener that impacted me profoundly, both academically and intellectually, but it also repulsed me in a way at the same time.

Then there are my impressions of those with money, including those in the great law and other firms of America. Those born to and comfortable with wealth and its trappings, casually and without apology, are often genuinely pleasant and somewhat gracious and generous, but too many others are painfully nouveau riche or love money for its own sake or seek money as a holy grail, end-all-be-all. I have found these types simply insufferable.

So too are displays of money and wealth as indicia of success, a specialty of some major law firms, accounting firms, investment banks and other larger companies. After the large law firm I was with grew and prospered, we remodeled in dazzling fashion. The design was in light oak (or "early orange crate" as one partner put it) and done by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation with impressive appointments, views and unusual space utilizations. It won a national Architectural Digest award, but like the other trappings of wealth I had experienced, including indeed my own three-storied home of four years in Ecuador, which is now an international bank (my bedroom is the secretarial pool), it made me a bit uneasy, if not at times actually uncomfortable. It was a sign that we had so much just for display or show while others less fortunate struggled to eat and it bothered me implicitly at a subconscious level. It still does, as do too many with money I have described.

Finally, in my mind, sheer disgust attends the fawning solicitation of subordinates seeking prospering favors as they interact at the edge of business, with the very rich and powerful. Phony and solicitous are not the words for it. The knowing smirks, the light elbow nudges or nods, and the punctuation of speech by nervous, forced laughter are universal, from the hallways of great law firms, to those of investment banks, the great cabols of Korea, the major keiretsus in Japan and to the corridors adjacent to the board rooms of major US corporations. The phrase "squirmin' vermin" comes to mind. Patronizing in the extreme. A gross distortion of humanity for the sake of money. It is pathetic.

I have been around the wealthy of all types. I have heard and sifted through all the arguments raised by all in defense of money and wealth. I find none very persuasive, with only unquenchable insecurity coming in most understandably. But all this recalls the observation that money is not the engine; only a lubricant. Money for whom and what is always the question? In pursuit of what? You cannot take it with you. As Harry Johnson, an economist of renown and one of my teachers, taught me, "The rational man who cares for no one but himself dies clutching the last penny of the last payment on his funeral service."

So you can't take it with you. The factor then liberalizing me with age is the further notion that life is too short. Much too brief to make a fuss about having money. Much we think that is important isn't. Keeping people from hurting now is the only matter of real importance. Further, as we come to understand the earth is figuratively shrinking and that we are so much more alike than our varied appearances would imply, the realization dawns that, "We are all in this same small boat together." And only for a brief time. So what then can fairly justify too much different treatment among us? Intelligence? But doesn't good intelligence properly applied eventually reach these same conclusions? What can justify outcomes that are too disparate? Welfare economics does not. It reaches these same conclusions, once shorn of its carefully narrowed applications. Moral philosophy likewise affords no leg up for great disparate wealth. Other rational thought generally is not much help either. So what is? Only two discernible elements occur to me: uncontrollable insecurity and other irrational pathologies.

These are the reasons I retired early, turned traitor to my class, and took off to the sail around the world. While I have not in fact done much about my developed sentiments, my excuse is it has taken me considerable time to sort them out, given the countervailing pressures that have been on me. But I have worked my way there eventually and in what I think to be a rather considered way. I simply need another life time to do better.

The Larger Cause of the Financial Crisis
Kimball Corson
04/26/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

The Community Reinvestment Act, Fanny Mae, Freddy Mac, and the federal government played minimal roles in the financial crash.The government did not mandate the housing bubble as some claim. The government did, however, allow the financial crisis by removing financial regulations that had successfully prevented it earlier.

Greedy private mortgage brokers nationwide and their greedy private lenders caused the bubble for the most part when they discovered they could sell mortgage loans even to anything that breathed and moved, grabbing and splitting the huge up front mortgage fees, all after they discovered they could sell off those mortgages, many of which were dicey, ASAP to greedy investment bankers who created and hawked "low risk" (supposedly from diversification) Mortgage Backed Securities to others, including each other, smaller banks, pension funds and other financial institutions. The rating agencies and derivatives hugely helped this MBS effort. A pipeline was created. It crashed when the housing market crashed and created the financial crash and Great Recession.

The government did little of consequence except to, as usual, provide easy money and kill the earlier existing regulations. The FBI, after investigation, said it had never seen such massive fraud on a nationwide scale (by the mortgage brokers and their lenders) but the SEC blocked the FBI and Justice Department from acting by claiming exclusive jurisdiction and then never itself acting.At one point, before the plug was pulled, the FBI had over 250 agents investigating the sub-prime mortgage sector alone.

Too many don't understand this. The investment banks knew many of the loans they were were buying were largely suspect but thought by creating MBS's they could sell them off, with better mortgages and rating agency and derivatives help, as low risk investments by virtue of diversification. The risk models they were using said so. When the housing bubble popped, after being pumped up by so many loans, including no credit, low credit questionable mortgage loans, in the primary mortgage market, the ensuing financial crisis took out the entire private investment or shadow banking industry in America, that is, all investment banks that were not also lending institutions.

Primary lenders and their mortgage brokers were the real culprits. They wrote and sold the mortgages loans to buy the houses and pushed their prices up. The government and others, except for the investment banks had hugely less to do with it. The bubble was created in the primary mortgage market. Neither Fannie Mac, nor Freddy Mac (nor the CRA) was major player there either. Private lenders lacked any restrictions and did not enforce their own loan standards once they saw the fees they could share in and that they could quickly dump their loans.

The problem was in the primary mortgage market which created the mortgage loans and fueled the housing bubble, not in the secondary mortgages market which thereafter bought, packaged and resold them, except for the investment banks and shadow banks and their activities, as noted.

There is much misunderstanding here and much confusion between the two markets.

The Massive Redistribution of Income That Has Occurred
Kimball Corson
04/25/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Here is the second chart to that post

On Reading the Koran (Again)
Kimball Corson
03/10/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

It is truly hard to charitably read the Koran. Too much odious and offensive text and too much shabby history has to be edited out or ignored for a kindly, peaceful interpretation of Islam. As bad, the Koran's text could not pass muster in a decent freshman composition course. In almost every material regard, it is highly repetitive and its sentence and paragraph structure, even in the better translations, is awkward at best.

The Satanic verses notion centers around these facts as determined by historiography. In the early days, when his followers were very few and persecuted, and Mohammad was struggling, he paid overt alligence to and arguably worshiped the three pagan and feminine deities of the day, the Godesses of Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat whom he agreed were alongside Allah: The Arabian goddesses are mentioned in Sura an-Najm (Star) 53:19-22:

Now tell me about Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat,
The third one, another goddess.
What! For you [the Godesses] the males and for him [Allah] the females!
That indeed is an unfair division.

The statement that Allah was involved with female goddesses was in clear violation of the Old Testament declaration and mandate that there is one God, only one God and one shall worship no other Gods. Violation of this mandate, under Old Testament law, was punishable by death.

When the inhabitants of Mecca heard Muhammad's confess the importance of the ancient goddesses inside the Ka'aba, they immediately revoked their ban on him. Some followers who believed in the Goddesses had immigrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) before Mohammad confessed his alligence to them. They started to return home after hearing of Muhammad's confession and his acceptance in Mecca. However, later they were shocked to hear that Muhammad had retracted his confession and admitted that he had fallen prey to the whispering of Satan. In Sura Hajj (Pilgrimage) 22:52-53, Muhammad confesses his mistake, alleging that all prophets were tempted by Satan who inspires them with demonic verses, as if they were actually revealed by God.

The Koran -- which is generally claimed to be divinely inspired by God -- itself thereby admits to Satanic verses. Exactly which they are beyond the initial quote is unclear, but the idea of contamination once raised and confirmed cannot be set aside. It holds sway. Early Koranic scholars agree on this history and problem. As his following grew, Mohammad later reverted to the only one God theory and implicitly abandoned belief in the three early feminine deities. Salmon Rushdie by no means invented or discovered the satanic verses in his novel of that name.

Then of course there was Mohammad's pedophilia, which is only pedophilia by present day standards. The practice of having young wives was common among many clans and tribes during the era. His last wife was six or seven when betrothed to Muhammad and nine or ten when the marriage was consummated.

More importantly, more than one historian and scholar has concluded Mohammad was mercilessness towards the Jews and claims he had no aversion to politically expedient assassinations, was disposed to breaking promises when he found it advantageous, engaged in retaliation towards those who mocked him and was cruel and ruthless in dealing with his enemies generally.

As a prophet, in these regards, Jesus has not been understood to be so problematic.

The Quest for the Historical Jesus
Kimball Corson
03/10/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

The quest attempted to answer the question of what was Jesus like as a person. Since the 18th century, it has proceeded in three waves or historical eras, each with its own new historical approaches and criteria, to the point where now scholars concede defeat and argue there are so many irreconcilable views about the personality of Jesus that we cannot know him. The question scholars now face is did the historical Jesus ever even exist. More than a few now believe he did not.

Christian writings and those referring to them abound, saying Jesus was a real person and telling us about him and his miraculous deeds, but Christians are notorious for their fabrications and making things up. The Nicene creed reflects that by pressing credulity beyond its breaking point.. Most importantly, the secular evidence, while itself generally somewhat scant on many subjects, leaves the question hanging by the barest thread to preclude the conclusion there was no historical person of Jesus. However, even that position arises in the context of a more general understanding that much Christian documentary evidence is fraudulent or are forgeries. These issues are the framework of this note.

Christian literature on Jesus is not to be relied upon. This is so for two reasons First, Christians take as true whatever they believe based on faith. Secondly, Christians are well known to cheat when dealing with the written word; Here are salient examples:

1. There is no reference to the Trinity in the Bible. For a time, people understood there was a single reference, but the Church now concedes what scholars have argued which is that a bit of marginalia was "mistakenly" incorporated into the text by an early Christian Scribner.

2. Doubting Thomas was not a doubter at all. The argument was created to have John become a gospel instead of the Book of Thomas which said intercession by clergy and Saints was not necessary to communicate with God. Elaine Paigles at Princeton argues the gospels are much more integrated and coherent when read with Thomas replacing John.

3. Mary Magdalene was not a woman of questionable background and repute at all, as the Church now concedes. She was a wealthy, well educated and smart woman who early Christian patriarchs did not want to recognize as a disciple.

4. The reference to Jesus in Josephus' (30-100 c) secular History of the Jews has been shown to be a fabrication, in whole or in part, probably by Catholic bishop Eusebius of Caesarea in the 4th century.

Aside from Christians writings and those referring to them, there is no mention in any secular writings of Jesus at all, save the tampered with and questioned one in Josephus' History written c. 94. This is notwithstanding the large crowds Jesus is said to have attracted, the miracles he is said to have performed in front of those crowds, his attack on the money changers in the Temple of Jerusalem and his public crucifixion, after his exchange with Pontius Pilate and his carrying of his cross through the streets.

There is nothing in any other Jewish writings either. Nothing is cited in the extant works of Justin Martyr, Theophilus Antiochenus, Melito of Sardis, Minucius Felix, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Julius Africanus, Pseudo-Justin, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Methodius, or Lactantius. No Roman records during Pontius Pilate's terms as governor of Judaea contain anything. Nothing in any other known secular writings either. There is only the questioned paragraph in Josephus, the Testimonium Flavianum (TF) which reads:

Antiquities 18.3.3. "Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day."

There is huge debate in the scholarly and lay literature about the authenticity of this paragraph allegedly included by Josephus. The arguments pro and con are numerous. Opinion on the authenticity of this passage, as surveyed by Louis H. Feldman among scholars who authored the relevant literature from 1937 to 1980 in "Josephus and Modern Scholarship," found that 4 scholars regarded the Testimonium Flavianum as genuine, 6 as mostly genuine, 20 accept it with some tampering by Christians, 9 with much tampering, and 13 regard it as being totally a fabrication. The included bias is that most such scholars are themselves Christian or strongly oriented to that faith.Non-Christians rarely become scholars in this area or concern themselves with this matter.

The importance of the TF is understood by all because it is key to the accepted existence of a historical Jesus. Otherwise, the FT would be of no great concern or moment. The scholars involved understand Christians writings are not to be relied upon as fact. The TF is the lone answer to the question of what other non-Christian reference is there to Jesus in antiquity.

The broad consensus of Christian scholarship is the TF is totally or partially fraudulent. In 1995, it was also discovered that the TF closely parallels very similar language in Luke which was written before c. 62.

The central point here is the very existence of the historical Jesus hangs by a very tenuous and the barest of threads, once Christian and Christian referenced literature are excluded. John the Baptist and James the Just are mentioned, with little question, in Josephus' History. However, absent the TF, the argument Jesus never existed is quite strong. One scholar, Dr. Richard Carrier, a key figure in the Jesus Project, a noted scholar, an atheist and a recognized master of new historiographical and statistical techniques, concludes that "With the evidence we have, the probability Jesus existed is somewhere between 1 in 12,500 and 1 in 3".

Alternatively, if he did exist, Jesus was likely a minor and largely self proclaimed personage of no real consequence upon whom Christians fabricated their Christ and faith. As possible, he was a composite of several minor persons of the era. The will to believe is strong. These are the strongest likelihoods, in my view, especially when I consider that Christian eschatology in the Church today relies on little more than the idea that some person died, was resurrected and ascended into heaven. Christology has replaced the personage of Jesus in Saul's provision of this superstructure.

The Treatment of Women as War Booty in Antiquity
Kimball Corson
03/10/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

What follows is a comparison of Israelite (Old Testament) treatment (I) vs. Muslim treatment (M). Either way, it was no day at the beach for women captured. Neither culture has currently, centrally and squarely repudiated these ancient ways. The Islamic State clearly follows them, at its best.

COMPARISON

A. Deuteronomy 21:10-14: "When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her."

B. Muslim position disjointedly dispersed within Koran and the Hadithes but comparatively explained below:

1M) Muslims were allowed to take female captives / slaves.
1I) Israelites were allowed to take female captives / slaves.

2M) Muslim men had to wait until the female had her first period, then they could rape the female slaves - a right recognized in Islam because the slave was the man's property.
2I) Israelite men had to wait an entire month before they could marry the woman. The idea was to let her mourn her losses in peace.

3M) Muslim men did not have to marry the slave in order to have sex with her.
3I) Israelite men had to marry the slave in order to have sex with her. This marriage gave the woman full rights as a free woman. In the event of a divorce, she had complete freedom.

4M) Muslim men could use the slave for sex, then later sell her to another owner who could use her for sex, and so on.
4I) Israelite men could not sell the woman they married as a slave.

5M) Muslim men had the option, but was not obligated to marry or free her. He was not obligated to change her status of slave.
5I) Israelite men "purified" their prospective wives as cleansed from slavery's status.

It mattered not whether the woman, prior to capture, had a husband, dead or alive under either system. Note that the Israelite position slips away from the idea as women as chattel. Deuteronomy became oral tradition around 1406 BC, at the end of the forty years of wandering endured by the nation of Israel. The Koran was revealed over 23 years in Muhammad's life, 610 to 633 ce. Progressivism is not a hallmark of Muslim thinking. It is more primitive, but came much later.

____

Where should we think the phrase "booty call" came from?

Catholics and the Court
Kimball Corson
03/06/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Catholics comprise 25 percent of the US population yet are 67 percent of our Supreme Court justices. The conservative majority of five is all Catholic. Yet not a single law school of any catholic university ranks in the top 25 American law schools. That said, most of the Catholic justices are of better law schools, however.

I have often said, I could go into America's top ten most populous cities and after six months in each choose 18 lawyers (enough to create two supreme courts) each of whom is legally more knowledgeable and astute than all but the Jewish Justices on our own Court.

Our justices are by and large as bad as they are primarily because they are too often chosen 1) for their politics and 2) their predictability. Conservative Catholics fill that bill well for conservative presidents, unfortunately. Liberal justices are less predictable, but liberal still. Top scholars argue Supreme Court justices too rarely decide cases according to the applicable law, but often decide cases according to their political predispositions and then rationalize their decisions with such law as their clerks can paste together.

We certainly do not have the best and the brightest on our Court.

 

Powered by SailBlogs