Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Mark Frauenfelder @ Boing Boing
Story on Cobb County Creationism Case

Gary Peare sez: "I have a modest proposal regarding the following story:"

A federal trial began today in Atlanta over evolution disclaimers in Cobb County schools. A group of parents backed by the ACLU argue that the disclaimers in science biology textbooks are a government endorsement of religion.
"The county put stickers with the following text into the books:"
This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.
"So here's my proposal. Let's allow the religious right to paste their stickers in all the biology texts they want so long as they affix the following text to each and every one of their Bibles:"

"This book contains material on Judeo-Christian theology. Judeo-Christian theology offers insight into the origin and meaning of life and is the basis for several of the world's great religions. But it does not encompass the full range of religious beliefs held sacred by members of our diverse American society. Moreover, this material is based on ancient texts, and significant errors may have been introduced through subsequent translations and omissions. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."


It has always puzzled me that educated people can actually not believe in evolution. What percentage of the US does not believe in evolution? Are the belief in evolution and faith in God mutually exclusive?

It's been a great experience meeting all of the vibrant people of Tel Aviv and visiting the holy city of Jerusalem. Special thanks to Yossi Vardi for his incredible hospitality. It looks like I must have caught some some sort of throat infection on the plane when I was weakened by the influenza shot. Since I have no fever or flu-like symptoms, my doctor doesn't think it's too bad or contagious, but I have a nasty cough. I wish I wasn't sick or I would be on the beach right now. I am not looking forward to the long flight back. Coughing Asians aren't usually very welcome on planes, although it's better than during the height of the SARS fright. I'm going to keep my cough syrup close.

Anyway, see you later Israel and thanks for all the falafel!

I was just on a panel with Yossi Vardi, the founding investor in ICQ.

Yossi Vardi
There are three big brands that we have created which are well known enough to have approximately 20 million or so links on Google. They are The Bible, Jesus Christ and ICQ. The first one took 3500 years, the second one 2000 years and ICQ only 8 years as of next week. As you can see, they all spread virally.

Thanks to Yossi Vardi, we got one of the best tour guides around, Yossi Kalmanovich. I joined Lance Johnson who flew in that morning. Yossi is a professional tour guide and you could tell. His explanations were very thorough and balanced considering he was a very passionate and proud Jewish man. We first went to the roof of the University where we could see all of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Then we went to Mount Olive where he pointed out the primary places and described the Muslim, Jewish and Christian stories. There were a variety of towers by different Christians who believed that the ascension of Christ happened in different places. The rock where Abraham took Isaac is also the place where Mohammed ascends and a stones throw away from where some Christians believe Jesus was crucified. After the bird's eye view of all of the huge variety of churches and mosques including the Mormon University and the Russian Orthodox Church, we went down inside the old part of Jerusalem. We wandered through the bazaars. People were not eating because of Ramadan, but the bazaar was bustling with activity as people stocked up on food for after Ramadan. There was a Muslim quarter, Greek Orthodox quarter, a Armenian Orthodox quarter, a variety of Orthodox Jewish... A huge variety of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish sects were represented and it was an almost unbelievable display of highly religious people mingling and sharing their holy places in what appeared to be a friendly and mutually respectful way. We visited a Church built on where some people believe Christ was crucified. There was supposed to have been an earthquake and a crack in the rock when he was crucified. The church shows a rock which had been cracked. I had never heard this before, but at the bottom of the crack, there is a rock that some believe is the skull of Adam and that Adam and Eve were also buried here. Another thing that I heard that I had not heard before was that the reason the year starts January 1 and not on the birthday of Jesus, December 25 was because Jewish boys are only officially considered alive after they are circumcised 8 days after birth. It was quite an overload of information and Yossi's ability to describe all of the various versions of each of the stories of the major religious and the intertwined nature of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian stories gave me a new appreciation for the extreme similarity and yet the ultimately unreconcilable difference between the three major monotheistic religions.

Yossi also explained the history of the various rulers of Jerusalem and what they built and tore down and why. You can see the difference in the layers of stones of temples that had been built upon temples. The graves of the Jewish waiting for the Messiah as well as the Muslim graves along the front of entrance of the main Temple area almost look like strategic military positions waiting for the return of their respective prophets. So much history and importance compressed into one small place. I'm sure it's not puzzling to people of these faiths, but to someone like me, I kept asking myself... why here?

We also visited the WWII museum, the Western Wall (the holiest place for Jewish), and got to see the West Bank wall, which looked as ominous as I had imagined. It wasn't a continuous wall, but for people who had to now travel over 10 kilometers to go around it, it certainly must feel like quite an obstruction.

I noticed that the "liberal" (I don't know if that is the correct term) people here are banning products made in the West Bank and Gaza to protest the Israeli settlements there.

I am going to Jerusalem this morning. As someone who is mostly non-religious and Shinto if anything, the notion of so many religions can sharing the same holy place is very difficult for me to understand. Hopefully, I will understand it better after visiting.