Friday, December 30, 2005

29 Kislew 5766/30 December 2005: Hanukkah, day 5


For shame: “Immigration bill outrages activists”.

Here’s something you don’t see every day: A Lubavitcher rabbi takes on psychics.

And now for today’s selection of religious fallacies. The names of Jewish and pseudo-Jewish movements and groups, as well as a corresponding section for Christian movements and groups, are highly likely to get spun off into a separate list. And I do realize a lot of what I claim is “politically incorrect”.

Names of Jewish and pseudo-Jewish movements and groups:
“Conservative Judaism” (Not actually conservative or Judaism.)
Haredhim” (Name means “those who tremble [before God]”, which is presumptive since they have no monopoly on trembling before God.)
Hasidhim” (Name means “pious”, which is presumptive since they have no monopoly on piety.)
“Jewish Revival” (Not really Judaism, and the “revival” is by doping it with Buddhism and Sufism)
“Jewish Science” (Not really Judaism or science.)
Masorti Judaism” (Masorti means “traditional”, but this movement is based on a violation of tradition. Not actually Judaism.)
“Messianic Judaism” (Actually Jewish-rite Christianity.)
Neture Qarta’” (Group of radically pacifist Haredhim. Name means “guardians of the city”, which is inappropriate since they want to give Israel to hostile Arabs, which is the reverse of guarding.)
“Modern Orthodox” (Not actually modern. Having favorable views of general knowledge has a very long tradition in Judaism, at least to the Second Temple Period.)
“Orthodox Judaism” (“Orthodox” means “right-believing”. Orthodox Judaism actually emphasizes correct practice over correct belief.)
“Progressive Judaism” (“Progressive” is a gloss to cover up heresy. Not actually Judaism.)
“Reconstructionist Judaism” (Makes it sound like they are putting something back together, even though they are gutting the religion and leaving nothing but a shell of culture. Not actually Judaism.)
“Reform Judaism” (“Reform” glosses over the fact that the “reforms” are in gross violation of the Jewish meta-rules for changing rules. Not actually Judaism.)
“Traditional Judaism” (Violates tradition by specifically allowing mixed seating in synagogue, despite all legitimate precedent being to the contrary. Not actually Judaism.)

Judaism (including heretical movements that do not properly qualify as such), by Jews:
“A girl becomes a bath miswah at 13.” (Reform Judaism)
“A Jew is anyone who believes in Judaism.”
“All innovation is forbidden.”
“Anything which is discontinued is automatically nullified.” (Zechariah Frankel)
“‘Bar miswah’ and ‘bath miswah’ refer to ceremonies.”
“Being a non-Orthodox or nonobservant Jew is just as good as being an Orthodox Jew.”
“Being lenient is a virtue.” • ESAOF: “Being strict is a virtue.”
“Blaming women for the ills of society is a virtue.”
“Eating something sweet on Ro’sh hashShanah causes one to have a sweet year.”
“Emphasizing one’s femininity is a virtue.”
Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas.” (Popular American misconception)
Hanukkah primarily celebrates one day’s worth of oil burning for eight days.”
“If you know the reason for a practice, you have no reason to perform it any longer.” (Reconstructionist Judaism)
“Ignorance is a virtue.” (Ignoramuses trying to get out of learning.)
“In the absence of a minyan, there is no point in praying in a synagogue.”
“Incompetence is a virtue.” (Incompetent trying to get out of improving himself.)
“It is OK to drive on Shabbath to go to synagogue.” (Non-Orthodox movements)
“Homosexuality is permissible.”
“It is permissible for a kohen to marry a divorcée.”
“It is permissible for a man and a woman who are not married to each other to dance together.” (Fiddler on the Roof, The Frisco Kid)
“It is permissible for a man and a woman to dance together in public.” (Fiddler on the Roof, The Frisco Kid)
“It is permissible for a woman whose husband died without even a single child to remarry without halisah.”
“Jews believe that Ezra is the Son of God.” (Qur’an 9)
“Judaism refers to any belief or religious practice subscribed to by Jews.”
“Modern Orthodox Judaism is more modern than other forms of Orthodox Judaism.”
“Non-Jews may be called up to read from the Torah.”
“Obliterating differences in practice or obligation between men and women is a virtue.”
“Prayer is a replacement for sacrifice and the synagogue a replacement for the Temple.”
“Praying with a minyan is more important than praying at the proper time.”
“Premarital sex is permissible.”
“Reform Judaism and the denominations descended from it (Conservative, Masorti, Traditional, Neologue, Reconstructionist, Humanistic) are Judaism.”
“Saying the qaddish is the only reason for going to synagogue.”
Shabbath ends at sunset, and it is permissible to ride a horse immediately afterwards.” (The Frisco Kid)
“The Hasidhim are an extremely Orthodox group.”
“The important thing about qiddush is to drink some of the wine/grape juice.”
“The Messiah will never come, and the Temple will never be rebuilt.”
“The order of the sedher is not important.”
“The qaddish is a prayer for the dead.”
“The tallith is a shawl and should be worn thusly.”
“The tefillah shel ro’sh should be worn off-center on the forehead, and the knot of the tefillah shel yadh should never be in contact with the tefillah shel yadh itself.”
“The Torah can be changed in any generation.”
“There is an Orthodox Jewish movement.”
“The Western Wall is Judaism’s holiest site.”
“We can rely on the Documentary Hypothesis.”
“We will never return to Israel.”
Yom Kippur ends at sunset, and it is permissible to eat immediately afterwards.” (Northern Exposure)

Judaism, by non-Jews:
“Food is kasher if a rabbi blesses it.” (Someone in Middleton High School between 1990-1994)
“Essene texts are binding on modern Jews.” (Idiot vegetarian)
“Jews have horns and tails.” (Christian anti-Semites)
“Jews kill gentile children and use their blood to make unleavened bread for Passover.” (Christian anti-Semites)
“The Holocaust never happened or was not as bad as claimed.” (Anti-Semites)
“The Jews are conspiring against the entire planet.” (Anti-Semites)
“The Jews are the cause of everything going wrong on the planet.” (Anti-Semites)
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are real.” (Anti-Semites)

Enjoy, and happy Hanukkah, and Shabbath shalom.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

28 Kislew 5766/29 December 2005: Hanukkah, day 4/Kwanzaa


Extreme menorah-lighting was off yesterday. Due to threats of thunderstorms, I lit inside. ☹

Rupert and the gang wish me to note the article “Kenya's Hippo, Tortoise Mark Year Together” and commend Mzee the Tortoise for his friendship with Owen the Hippopotamus.

And now for today’s selection of religious fallacies. I suspect many of those dealing with prayer are extremely widespread since lots of people complain about them.

Categorization of behavior:
Note: Some items in this section are overridden in specific religions.
“Absolute pacifism is good.”
“Animal sacrifice is bad.”
“Anything natural is good.” AKA “Anything artificial is bad.”
“Circumcision is wrong since God made the human body perfect just the way it is.”
“Conformity is a virtue.” • ESAOF: “Disconformity is a virtue.”
“Drinking alcohol is bad.”
“Eating meat is bad.” AKA “Vegetarianism is good.”
“Love is the same thing as sex.”
“Love is the same thing as submission.”
“Pleasure is bad.” • ESOAF: “Pleasure is good.”
“Self-deprivation is good.”
“Sex is evil.” • ESOAF: “Sex is good.”
“Spirituality in all its forms is good.”
“Support is the same thing as submission.”
“Tolerance is the same thing as acceptance.”

“It is a virtue to rush through prayers as fast at humanly possible (or even faster).” (Ignoramuses in synagogue)
“It is a virtue to say the beginning and ending of a prayer and to skip the middle.” (Ignoramuses in synagogue)
“It is acceptable behavior to chat during prayers or a sermon in a house of worship.” (Ignoramuses in synagogue)
“No one can hear me chatting during prayers or a sermon in a house of worship, or if they can, they are not disturbed by it.” (Ignoramuses in synagogue)
“Prayer itself causes things to happen.” (Popular American misconception)
“The point of prayer is to make things happen.” (Popular American misconception)
“When one prays, one really prays to oneself.”

“Being against abortion and for the death penalty is inconsistent since the first item is pro-life and the second is pro-death.” (Popular American misconception)
“The relevant question with regard to abortion is ‘When does life begin?’” (Popular American misconception)

Sexual preference:
“David and Jonathan were homosexual lovers.” (Cited in the name of a heretical synagogue)
“Having homosexual desires is determined purely by genetics.” (Militant homosexuals) • ESAOF: “Having homosexual desires is determined purely by choice.” (Militant haters of homosexuals)
“Love justifies homosexuality in all religions.” (Militant homosexuals)
“Prohibitions allegedly against homosexuality are really prohibitions against something else.” (Homosexual Christian preacher on the news in December 2005)
“Sexual preference is unchangeable.” (Militant homosexuals) • ESAOF: “Sexual preference is changeable at will.” (Militant haters of homosexuals)
“Since one has a particular sexual preference (heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, etc.), one has no choice but to practice it.” (Militant homosexuals)

Enjoy, and happy Hanukkah.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

27 Kislew 5766/28 December 2005: Hanukkah, day 3/Card Playing Day/Kwanzaa


The extreme menorah-lighting is going well. No problems with the oil thingies or anything like that. (Thank God!) The only thing thing wrong is that it’s rather cold around here at menorah-lighting time. I suspect that in future years I may end up having a bonfire going during the menorah-lighting, which would make it more practical as a group activity, possibly involving singing and roasting things. If anyone has any idea how to practically cook a latke on a stick, please let me know.

And now for today’s section of my list of religious fallacies. I suspect I am going to have to spin-off errors in logic and errors in facts into different lists.

What really matters:
“Being part of some elite group is all that really matters.” • ESAOF: “Being outside the elite group is all that really matters.” (ESAOF suggested by Another Nitpicker.)
“Belief is the only thing that matters.”
“Comfort is all that really matters.”
“Going to church/synagogue/mosque/etc. or performing some other specific ritual or moral activity at some regular interval is the only thing that matters.”
“Happiness is the only thing that matters.”
“Morality and good works are the only things that matter.”
“Religion is something priests/ministers/rabbis/imans/etc. do for me.” AKA “Religion is a spectator sport.”
“Rituals are the only things that matter.”
“Spirituality is the only thing that matters.”
“Supporting one’s house of worship, especially financially, is the only thing that matters.”
“When one is not at church/synagogue/mosque/etc. one can do anything one wants.”

Good and evil:
“Doing the wrong thing can be the right thing.”
“God does not want us to keep the rules he gave us to live by.”
“Polytheism is inherently more tolerant/moral/relevant/superior/etc. than monotheism.” (People who have an axe to grind with Christiantity, Judaism, or Islam) • ESAOF: “Monotheism inherently is more tolerant/moral/relevant/superior/etc. than polytheism.” (Monotheists with axes to grind; either of these views can be supported by selective examples of the goodness of one and the wickedness of the other. Both variants suggested by Another Nitpicker.)
“There is such a thing as objective good and evil.”

The human condition:
“A human being can be perfect.”
“I am perfect just the way I am.”
“I cannot possibly get any better.”

Theodicy (divine justice issues), real or alleged:
“If something bad happens to someone, obviously he/she has done something wrong. If something good happens to someone, obviously he/she has done something right.”
“The alleged victims in any dispute are always good and the alleged oppressors are always evil.” • “ESAOF: The alleged victims in any dispute must be evil and the alleged oppressers must really be good. (Otherwise, why would evil be allowed to win out over good?)” (ESAOF suggested by Another Nitpicker)

Categorization of people:
Given that “superiority” involves being inherently smarter, more knowledgeable, more intellectually honest, more right, better, more moral, wiser, correct, saner, or God-fearing; and that “inferiority” is the opposite, possibly including collaboration with or worship of one or more evil beings:
“Insiders are superior to outsiders.”
“It is moral to judge people in the absence of objective information.”
“Non-human animals are superior to humans.” (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
“Non-prophets can know who is going to Heaven and Hell based on their actions.”
“One class or caste is superior to another.”
“One race is superior to another.”
“One sex is superior to another.”
“Outsiders know the truth, only they are too stubborn or evil to admit it.”
“People in ancient times were superior to the people living today.” • ESAOF: “People today are superior to the people living in ancient times.”
“People of one sexual preference are superior to another.”
“People with sexually transmitted diseases are superior” • ESAOF “People with sexually transmitted diseases are inferior.”
“Religious people are superior to secularists.” • ESAOF: “Secularists are superior to religious people.”
“Technologically primitive people are superior to technologically advanced people.” • ESAOF: “Technologically advanced people are superior to technologically primitive people.”

Enjoy, and happy Hanukkah.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

26 Kislew 5766/27 December 2005: Hanukkah, day 2/National Fruitcake Day/Kawanzaa


And now the next section of my list of religious fallacies:

“One can be a special, foretold person (Messiah, Mahdi, etc.) without fulfilling all the requirements for being that special, foretold person.”
“The claims of one person to prophecy or godhood, without any corroborating evidence, can be relied upon.”
“Visions without corroboration are reliable.”

“Anything with the trappings of science is obviously correct.” • ESAOF: “Anything without the trappings of science is obviously correct.”
“Belief in evolution is tantamount to atheism.” (Creationists)
“Belief in science is purely a matter of faith.” (Creationists)
“Creationism/intellegent design is a scientifically valid theory.” (Creationists)
“Science is a religion.” (Creationists)
“The truth of scientific propositions may be judged according to their religious or moral implications.” (Creationists)

“God can violate logic and mathematics.”
“God is a social construct.”
“God is an abstraction.”
“God is the sum of all good.”
“God is the universe or the soul of the universe.” (Pantheism, panentheism)
“God’s purpose is to make things go fine for us.” (Popular American misconception)
“I am God.” (Pantheism)

Enjoy, and happy Hanukkah.


Monday, December 26, 2005

25 Kislew 5766/26 December 2005: Hanukkah, day 1/Boxing Day/Kawanzaa


Hanukkah celebrates primarily a victory of Judaism over assimilation into the Greek paganism prevalent in area during the Second Temple Period. Today, we are faced with the ironic attempt of many to assimilate Hanukkah into Christmas in the form of a “holiday season” and by adding features of Christmas (giving presents, home decoration, decorated trees, and even variations on Santa Claus) to Hanukkah. Since this syncretism is based on severe religious fallacies, I have decided that the weird things for Hanukkah will be sections from a growing list of religious fallacies I have started collecting. I suspect the entire list will eventually evolve into a book.

WARNING: This work makes no pretenses of being ecumenical, “politically correct”, or (in some cases) polite. Many of these fallacies reflect things that people do but no one says aloud because they would sound stupid doing so. If you recognize one of your own beliefs listed here, please protest only if you can back up why said belief is not fallacious with a rational argument.

NOTE: I have not written out yet why anything on my list is a fallacy, that being on my “to-do” list. If you want explanation of any fallacy sooner than “whenever”, please ask.

In compiling this list, I have discovered so far two meta-rules of religious fallacies:

Meta-rule of infinite diversity in infinite combinations: There is no proposition so imbecilic that absolutely no one will believe it, as it is written, “A simpleton will believe anything” (Proverbs 14:15).

Meta-rule of balanced stupidity: For many fallacies there is an equally stupid and opposite fallacy (ESAOF).

And now on to today’s section:

General religious epistemology:
“A proposition about reality can be true for one person and false for another.”
“A religion of which a critical tenet has been disproved can still be true.”
“Beliefs known to be invented and without rational justification can be assumed to be true.”
“Believing is the same thing as knowing.” AKA “Speculation is as reliable as evidence-based fact.”
“Blind faith is a virtue.”
“Contradictory propositions can be true.”
“Critical thinking should not be applied to religion.”
“What is commonly accepted/popular is obviously correct.” AKA “One billion people can’t be wrong.” • ESAOF: “What is commonly rejected/unpopular is obviously correct.”
“Whatever the authorities say is true is true.” • ESAOF: “Whatever the authorities say is false is true.”

“All religions are equally true.” (Bahá’ís, popular American misconception)
“All religions are the same.” AKA “It doesn’t matter which religion one believes in or practices.” AKA “Different religions are just different ways of worshipping the same god.” (Popular American misconception)
“All religions have the same values.”
“I belong to all religions.”
“It is OK to mix and match things from different religions without justification.”

“A law or select group of laws taken in isolation faithfully reflect that religion’s position on a relevant issue.” (People commenting on Judaism badly.)
“Inconvenient texts can be simply ignored.” (Idiot vegetarian)
“It is reasonable to cite part of a verse while ignoring the rest of it.” (Idiot vegetarian)
“It is reasonable to ignore the context of a verse.”
“Literal interpretation of scripture/tradition is a virtue.” (Creationists) • ESAOF: “Allegorical/metaphorical interpretation of scripture/tradition is a virtue.”
“Rules of one’s religion can be changed or dropped arbitrarily.” (Reform Judaism)
“Scholarship, especially intellectually honest scholarship, is unimportant for good religion.”
“Texts can be interpreted any way one wishes to.” (Idiot vegetarian)
“Texts can be interpreted correctly while ignoring the historical contexts in which they were composed or received.”
“The Hebrew Bible/New Testament/Qur’an/etc. can be honestly used to support any position.”
“Translations are as good as the original text.” (Christians who hold by the King James Bible only)

Enjoy, and happy Hanukkah.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

24 Kislew 5766/25 December 2005: National Pumpkin Pie Day/Christmas


Notice: Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, and I get to try out my brand-new windproof menorah outside.

Reminder: Enter The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week. All entries must be submitted before sundown (5:19 PM EST) to count!

Special bonus: A while back I heard about a song called “I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek” (lyrics here). This made me think about how it would be possible for a Dalek to be Christmassy in any way, shape, or form, since, as many of know, Daleks are war-mongering cyborgs from the famous British science-fiction show Doctor Who. This is the solution I reached:


The room is decorated for Christmas. Two boys and a girl, all in pajamas, are hiding behind a sofa, waiting for someone. Suddenly, a black box the size of a telephone booth materializes.

(abandoning their hiding place)
He's here! He's here!

The black box opens up, and out come a Dalek and a Cyberman. The Dalek is painted green, has silvery hemispheres on his skirt, and is wearing a Santa Claus hat. The Cyberman is wearing a rubber clown nose and a Santa Claus hat, and he is carrying a big sack filled with something.

Hello, children! I am Santa Dalek, and this is my assistant, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Cyberman.

Merry Christmas!


We have come bearing gifts for all the good human children on the planet Earth. Beverly, you have been very good this year, and thus you get—

(producing a doll from his sack)
A dolly!

(taking the doll from Rudolph)
Thank you, Santa Dalek and Rudolph.

You're welcome.

And you, Gilbert, have also been very good this year. Therefore you get—

(producing a toy truck from his sack)
A truck!

BOY #1
(taking the truck)
Thanks, guys!

You're welcome.

Troy, you have been bad this year; very, very bad. Therefore you will be—
(starts shooting laser beams)

The children start running away, screaming.


Today’s weird thing is what some consider the worst movie of all time, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. I have seen part of it being attacked on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and I can testify that it is ludicrously bad. Strangely enough, this monstrosity is public domain and available at the Internet Archive. This may be due to the people who made it disowning it completely. Enjoy.


Friday, December 23, 2005

22 Kislew 5766/23 December 2005: Festivus


Reminder: Enter The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

In honor of Festivus, today’s weird things are the Festivus article at Wikipedia and the Festivus Info Center. No doubt someone will send me a list of grievances. Enjoy.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

21 Kislew 5766/22 December: Winter Solstice


Stuff accumulating on my desktop:Reminder: Enter The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is the Bay Area Segway Enthusiasts Group, which plays Segway polo. (Go figure.) Enjoy.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

19 Kislew 5766/20 December 2005: Games Day


News cluttering up my desktop:Reminder: Enter The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is Animated Singing Santa Hack. (I cannot make something like this up.) Enjoy.


Monday, December 19, 2005

18 Kislew 5766/19 December 2005: Suess gone political


Reminder: Enter The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is Suess gone political. Enjoy.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

17 Kislew 5766/18 December 2005: Bake Cookies Day


Reminder: Enter The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is a movie review which was generously submitted to me by someone trying to save me effort, included below. Enjoy.


Many of you, no doubt, have seen the latest remake of King Kong, this time by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. This version, which is more closely based on the original than the last one, has gotten considerable praise from critics. In certain respects, the new film is an improvement over the old, with much better special effects and further development of the characters of Kong and Ann Darrow and the relationship between them. It also has some flaws which critics have pointed out, such as the extreme run time (over three hours), adding too much material before Skull Island is reached and too much extreme, ridiculous action once on Skull Island, not to mention the large number of redshirt deaths.

One problem the critics have not mentioned is the treatment of the Skull Islanders. In the original version, Skull Island was inhabited by people who were largely constituted of stereotypes of “primitive” people current at the time. Despite this, the depiction was not entirely negative. They were not initially hostile to Carl Denham’s party and were quite willing to negotiate a trade for Ann Darrow. This is not to say they were correct in regularly giving young women to Kong, but we must remember their situation. This was not a pointless ritual as in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” They had, after all, built a giant wall and still did not feel safe from the giant gorilla on the other side, quite likely with good reason. Faced with either giving the lonely ape the occasional companionship or likely gruesome death, under these circumstances many of us would opt to compromise our morals.

This is not the case with the new film. Instead of humans, Jackson imported a number of orcs from Lord of the Rings to inhabit Skull Island, and the effect was quite different. The orcs were disagreeable from the start, immediately killing a few redshirts and kidnapping Ann Darrow without offering even one, let alone six, women in trade. They were rude, nasty, dirty, had unattractive facial piercings, and the only one to talk was a wrinkled old woman who apparently lead the ceremony for giving her to Kong, and then it was only an untranslated monologue. Unlike the inhabitants in the original version, the orcs in the new version are a completely negative and unsympathetic portrayal. Rather than expand on the events in the original film and show human beings acting desparately to appease a force with which they are constantly threatened, Jackson instead turns them into even greater monsters. This was cruel and unwarranted.

Among the many references to the original film was in the Broadway presentation of Kong. In this version, a number of people dressed in constumes come out and dance in a purported reenactment of the sacrifice of Ann Darrow to Kong. The appearance of these dancers is like the Skull Islanders in the original, and the ceremony from the original is turned into a farce. The undercurrent here is that Jackson does not take their plight seriously and treats them as a joke. He has made us sympathize with a twenty-five-foot gorilla, but when it comes to his fellow human beings, the magic is mysteriously lacking.

K. K.

Friday, December 16, 2005

15 Kislew 5766/16 December 2005: National Chocolate Covered Anything Day


Epidemiologico-political update: “Cancer fears over sweetener in food” (Guess who is responsible for aspartame being on the market in the first place.)

Reminder: Enter The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is an unusual story, “Man catches baby flung from burning NY building”. Enjoy, and Shabbath shalom.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

14 Kislew 5766/15 December 2005: National Lemon Cupcake Day/Esperanto Day


Reminder: Enter The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird things are a bunch of things which are cluttering up my desktop.Enjoy.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Worthy cause of the day: Stop the Patriot Act


For today’s worthy cause, I present a petition: “ Stop the Patriot Act”. Please sign ASAP and tell Congress not to permit Bush and company to violate our constitutional rights under the false pretense of fighting terrorism. Thank you.


13 Kislew 5766/14 December 2005: Barry criticizes the new Narnia movie


Reminder: Enter the The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is a critical review of the new The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie written by Barry, included below. Barry brings a rather unique (and probably unintended) perspective to what the producers may have had in mind. Enjoy.


I know that the movie version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe just released is being highly touted by right-wing Christians and was even underwritten by a major campaign supporter of George W. Bush. However, I do feel it compelled to point out that under this allegedly wholesome and proper movie, there are some rather unsettling elements:

1) Lucy is an idiot. After going to Narnia the first time and it being made very clear that her presence there has put Tumnus in grave danger, she instead goes back and visits him again, as if Narnia was just a playground and it was no big deal. At the very least, Mr. Tumnus should suffer a nasty and irreversible death rather than the happy ending portrayed to properly drive home the point that stupidity like this kills, rather than sending such a mixed message as the movie does that somehow one can make up for revealing someone as a traitor to a repressive government.

2) The use of the name “Edmund” is lame. See the use of it in “King Lear”, from which others have also drawn for traitorous characters (e.g., Guiding Light). “Peter” is also obvious and lame in this context.

3) Edmund’s motivation at times seems strained. Why does he wait so long to do anything about the White Witch when it is clear to him that she’s the bad guy very early? And why would he run away to her if he clearly hasn’t delivered his siblings and she’s clearly the bad guy?

4) The costume designer has issues with breasts. Although the White Witch showed skin on her neck and shoulders, other parts that might have been seen were not. This alone was not terrily suspicious (it is, after all, a movie obstensibly aimed at children), but for much of the movie she wore an outfit that was shaped and padded to specifically hide the shape of her breasts. The only shot of them was a bit of cleavage viewed from above, and given the rest of the film, one gets the impression it was an accident. That women have breasts is generally obvious even with clothing, which usually provides some hint at the shape of the underlying structure. Going to great lengths to hide breasts, however, is pathological. This problem with adult femininity would be consistent with C. S. Lewis’ own mistreatment of Susan in later books over her maturing, and with the problem below it becomes extremely creepy.

5) Mr. Tumnus, a “faun” (satyr), runs around the whole movie with neither shirt nor pants. Not only does this expose the characters to experiences of questionable value (I am sure Lucy would have gotten a great view of his goat genitalia), but he also provides eye candy for heterosexual females and homosexual males. Thus he may be seen as contributing to the delinquency of these groups (and how shameful it is to lure these people to see allegedly wholesome entertainment and potential remption through Christ, only to inflame their lusts and lead them to sin in their hearts and possibly elsewhere when they leave the theater), but it also suggests that, given men largely made the film, and they deliberately hid female breasts while flaunting a naked male body around onscreen, these men might be doing one heck of a lot of sublimating of desires contrary to their beliefs.

6) Aslan (pronounced as AHZ-lahn rather than the more suggestive ASS-lahn) has been absent from Narnia for one hundred years. If he is so good, why was he gone and why did he allow such awful things to happen in his absence? Overall, Aslan’s presence in the story is relatively small, his motivations are largely unclear, and compared to the children (or even the beavers) he is bland and boring. What is really so great about this lion?

7) There is no way that Peter could ever stand a chance against anyone in a swordfight who has had a hundred years more to practice.

8) Why are all the other creatures so powerless against the White Witch? Must everyone sit on their haunches and twiddle their paws until the prophecy says the time is right to correct injustice?

9) The sacrifice and resurrection of Aslan depends solely on circumstances peculiar to the story to occur; had Lewis not specically arranged for Edmund to betray the good guys and need to be sacrificed, for Aslan to allow himself to be exchanged for Edmund, and for the deep magic arranged in a specific, peculiar way, this sequence of events would not have been able to occur. In real life, someone trying to do what Aslan did would be suicide (cf. A Tale of Two Cities). Are children supposed to get the message that they must throw their lives away?

10) The story has some sexist elements. Susan and Lucy get treated relatively second-class compared to Aslan and Peter, and even screw-up Edmund gets a second chance he clearly does not deserve. The White Witch, of course, is quite evil (and, oddly, gives probably the best performance in the movie) though her motivations are never explained. Would anyone give the White Witch a chance to reform? Perhaps if we knew her better? Of course, if we truly were given a chance to understand her, would we necessarily view her as so evil?

11) There are arguably quasiracist elements in the story as well, with allegiances being divided up along species lines.

12) The story was extremely violent in parts and as nearly as graphic as The Lord of the Rings. In some cases the images were disturbing, such as one scene where a griffin is petrified by the White Witch in midair and, crashing, shatters. The sacrifice of Aslan was also pretty disturbing. One wonders what the parents hyping this movie would say about a video game with similar violent scenes but without the crypto-Christian content? Is killing okay so long as it is infidels who die? Whatever happened to the injunction to turn the other cheek?

13) If the animals in Narnia all talk and are intelligent beings like humans, what do the carnivores eat? If they eat other intelligent beings, wouldn’t that make them akin to murderers and cannibals?

14) Why does the professor side with Lucy? Lucy, after all, makes a fantastic claim which is contrary to experience and cannot provide evidence otherwise. Are we to accept ridiculous claims merely because they are made by family members?

15) Since when did Father Christmas/Santa Claus hand out weapons?

16) Short of Edmund’s ambivalence (necessary for Aslan to sacrifice himself), the characters are either all good or all evil, with no shades of gray. Needless to say, the world does not work this way, and it a poor model for anyone trying to understand people if they must shove them into only two categories. Edmund’s ambivalence at least in part depends on conflicting motivations, which makes him more interesting than his siblings, who are all largely dull characters.

Summary: Since when did simplistic pigeonholings of people, sexism, reckless endangerment of people’s lives, graphic violence, abandonment of people by a leader to suffer needlessly, fatalism, encouraging suicide, and repressed homosexuality make for wholesome family entertainment?

My commentary on the commentary: Concerning the possible paranoia in the Witch’s wardrobe and obliviousness with regard to the faun’s complete lack of a wardrobe: Perhaps the Witch, “knowing good and evil”, is uncomfortable with her sexuality and thus goes to great lengths to hide her body. Mr. Tumnus, however, is still in that state of innocence which Adam and Eve enjoyed before the Fall; as such, he finds nothing wrong with walking around naked, even though it makes clear to everyone (or at least ought to) he is a sexual being. Considering that Aslan, who is essentially Jesus, also walks around naked, C. S. Lewis is telling us that true holiness involves being completely comfortable with our sexuality and thus that public nudity is not only acceptable, but also ideal.

(On the other hand, perhaps on this point C. S. Lewis and the people who made this movie simply did not think things through...)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

12 Kislew 5766/13 December 2005


Reminder: Enter the The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird things are a bunch of items that have accumulated on my desktop.Enjoy.


Monday, December 12, 2005

11 Kislew 5766/12 December 2005: Nessie on the Net


Reminder: Enter the The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is Nessie on the Net! The Ultimate Loch Ness Monster Live Cam, Scotland. Yes, even a mythical lake monster can have a Web-site these days. Next thing you know, Bigfoot will be demanding equal Internet exposure. Enjoy.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

10 Kislew 5766/11 December 2005


Interesting things I ran across over Shabbath:
  • Ezekiel 18:23, ad-hoc translation: “‘Do I really desire the death of someone wicked?’ says ’Adhonay-YHWH. ‘Is it not in his repenting from his ways he will live?’” (It sounds better and less awkward in the original Hebrew.) The chapter is about the notion that children who do not follow the ways of their parents are not to be punished for their parents’ sins and that God prefers that sinners repent rather face divine punishment.
  • It is popularly noted that the Rambam (Maimonides) held that a man who is obligated to divorce his wife yet refuses to do so should be beaten by a court until he acquiesces. I finally ran across a citation of that ruling: Mishneh Torah, Hilkhoth Gerushin 2:16.
Reminder: Enter the The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is “Tape recording”, a puzzling article on red tape. Enjoy.


Friday, December 9, 2005

8 Kislew 5766/9 December 2005


My windproof menorah and oil thingies came yesterday! As long as it does not rain (please, God, let that not happen), I should be able to light outside this Hanukkah without worrying about the oil thingies going out and thus be better able to perform the miswah of publicizing the miracle.

Notable news: “Study links bake sales, weight problems”, “US unprepared for disaster, study finds”, and “Study Flunks State Science Standards”.

Reminder: Enter the The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is two somethings from Emily’s collection that were bundled together in one file, included below. Enjoy.


Art thou hungry?

God greets Mother Teresa at the Pearly Gates. "Art thou hungry, Mother Teresa?" asks God. "I could eat," Mother Teresa replies. So God opens a can of tuna and reaches for a chunk of rye bread, and they share it.

While eating this humble meal, Mother Teresa looks down into Hell and sees the inhabitants devouring huge steaks, lobsters, pheasants, pastries and fine wines. Curious, but deeply trusting, Mother Teresa remains quiet.

The next day God again invites Mother Teresa to join him for a meal. Again, it is tuna and rye bread. Once again looking down, Mother Teresa can see the denizens of Hell enjoying caviar, champagne, lamb, truffles and chocolates. Still Mother Teresa says nothing.

The following day, mealtime arrives, and another can of tuna is opened.

Mother Teresa can contain herself no longer. Meekly, she says: "God, I am grateful to be in heaven with you as a reward for the pious, obedient life I led. But here in Heaven all I get to eat is tuna and a piece of rye bread and in the Other Place they eat like emperors and kings! Forgive me, O God, but I just don't understand..."

God sighs. "Oy, let's be honest, Mother Teresa," God says. "For just two people, does it pay to cook?"

Gas Prices-Expensive?
You Think A Gallon Of Gas Is Expensive?

Makes one think, and puts things in perspective.

Diet Snapple 16 oz $1.29 $10.32 per gallon

Lipton Ice Tea 16 oz $1.19 $9.52 per gallon

Gatorade 20 oz $1.59 $10.17 per gallon

Ocean Spray 16 oz $1.25 $10.00 per gallon

Brake Fluid 12 oz $3.15 $33.60 per gallon

Vick's Nyquil 6 oz $8.35 $178.13 per gallon

Pepto Bismol 4 oz $3.85 $123.20 per gallon

Whiteout 7 oz $1.39 $25.42 per gallon

Scope 1.5 oz $0.99 $84.48 per gallon

And this is the REAL KICKER......

Evian water 9 oz for $1.49 $21.19 per gallon

$21.19 FOR WATER!....and the buyers don't even know the source.

So, the next time you're at the pump, be glad your car doesn't run on Nyquil, or Scope, or Whiteout.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

7 Kislew 5766/8 December 2005


Reminder: Enter the The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Weird contest tie-in: Dune Fanfic Generator

Today’s weird thing is “NameVoyager”, which is an interesting way to show statistics on names. Enjoy.


Wednesday, December 7, 2005

6 Kislew 5766/7 December 2005: Pearl Harbour Remembrance Day


Reminder: Enter the The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

You may want to see something weird tangentially relevant to the contest.

Today’s weird thing is something sarcastic from Emily’s collection, included below. Enjoy.


New Element


The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by U.S. Government chemists. The element, tentatively named "ADMINISTRATIUM", has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have 1 neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons, and 111 assistant viceneutrons. This gives it an atomic mass of 312. These particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons. Since it has no electrons Administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with.

According to the discoverers, Dr. Wayne Hershey and Dr. Sparkle Wier, a minute amount of Administratium caused one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than a second. Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years, after which it does not actually decay but instead undergoes a reorganization in which assistant neutrons, vice neutrons, and assistant viceneutrons exchange places. Some studies have shown that the atomic mass actually increases after each reorganization.

Research at other laboratories indicates that Administratium occurs naturally in the atmosphere. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government agencies, large corporations, universities, and public school districts, and can usually be found in the newest, best appointed, and best maintained buildings. Scientists point out that Administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reaction where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how Administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

5 Kislew 5766/6 December 2005: National Gazpacho Day/Mitten Tree Day


Reminder: Enter the The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

In honor of National Gazpacho Day, today’s weird thing is “Me2, an episode of the weird science-fiction show Red Dwarf. Enjoy.


Monday, December 5, 2005

4 Kislew 5766/5 December 2005: “Hacking Billy Mouth Bass in Linux”


Political news: “Rationale for Vietnam faked in 1964, NSA historian wrote”, or “Gee, doesn’t that sound familiar?’

Reminder: Enter the The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is “Hacking Billy Mouth Bass in Linux”. (Go figure.) Enjoy.


Sunday, December 4, 2005

3 Kislew 5766/4 December 2005: Wear Brown Shoes Day


I am defying today’s holiday by wearing black shoes! Then again, I don't have any brown shoes...

Reminder: Enter the The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is “Glowing Flowers Touted As Floral 'Bling'”, which just happens to be sitting on my desktop. Enjoy.


Friday, December 2, 2005

1 Kislew 5766/2 December 2005: Ro'sh Hodhesh


Reminder: Enter the The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is something potentially useful from Emily’s collection. Enjoy, and Shabbath shalom.


Do you get lots of annoying calls from telemarketers?
Don't get upset about it! Use the opportunity to get a laugh!

1. If they want to loan you money, tell them you just filed for bankruptcy and you could sure use some money.

2. If they start out with, "How are you today?" say, "Why do you want to know?" Alternately, you can tell them, "I'm so glad you asked, because no one these days seems to care, and I have all these problems; my arthritis is acting up, my eyelashes are sore, my dog just died..." When they try to get to the sell, just keep talking about your problems.

3. If they say they're John Doe from XYZ Company, ask them to spell their name. Then ask them to spell the company name. Then ask them where it is located. Continue asking them personal questions or questions about their company for as long as necessary.

4. If they are selling a lawn service to make your grass grow better, tell them it grows to fast now and green is not your favorite color anyway.

5. Cry out in surprise, "Judy! Is that you? Oh my! Judy, how have you been?" Hopefully, this will give Judy a few brief moments of terror as she tries to figure out where she could know you from.

6. Say "No" over and over. Be sure to vary the sound of each one and keep a rhythmic tempo, even as they are trying to speak. This is most fun if you can do it until they hang up.

7. If MCI calls trying to get you to sign up for the Family and Friends Plan, reply, in as SINISTER a voice as you can, "I don't have any friends...would you be my friend?"

8. If the company cleans rugs, respond: "Can you get out blood? Can you get out GOAT blood? How about HUMAN blood?

9. After the telemarketer gives their spiel, ask him/her to marry you. When they get all flustered, tell them that you could not just give your credit card number to a complete stranger.

10. Tell the telemarketer that you work for the same company, they often can't sell to employees.

11. Answer the phone. As soon as you realize it is a telemarketer, set the receiver down, shout or scream "Oh No!" and then hang up.

12. Ask them to repeat everything they say, several times.

13. Tell them it is dinnertime, BUT ask if they would please hold. Put them on your speakerphone while you continue to eat at your leisure. Smack your food loudly and continue with your dinner conversation.

14. Tell the telemarketer you are on "home incarceration" and ask if they could bring you some food.

15. Ask them to fax the information to you, and make up a number.

16. Ask the telemarketer if they use the product they are trying to sell. If they do, ask for a complete report. If they don't, ask them why not since it is such a great product.

17. Insist that the caller is really your buddy Leon, playing a joke. "Come on Leon, cut it out! Seriously, Leon, how's your momma?" 

18. Tell them you are hard of hearing and that they need to speak up...louder...louder...louder...

19. Tell them to talk VERY SLOWLY, because you want to write EVERY WORD down. 

20. Tell them that you are busy and ask for their phone number so you can call them back. If they say that they don't give out their phone number or they don't take calls, then ask for the caller's personal phone number at home. If then they say that they don't like being called at home, quickly say "Bingo!" and hang up.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

29 Marheshwan 5766/1 December 2005: Rosa Parks Day


Worthy cause of the day: Congress Must Insist on a Plan to Get Out of Iraq in 2006.

Medical news: “The nose cells that may help the paralysed walk again” and “Should sinners be made to pay?”

Reminder: Enter the The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is Willy Puchner, which seems to deal a lot with fake penguins on tour. Enjoy.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

28 Marheshwan 5766/30 November 2005: Stay at Home Because You're Well Day


Cool thing of the day: The entire Aleppo Codex (כתר ארם־צובא) on-line. The Aleppo Codex is the best and most authoritative manuscript of the Hebrew Bible extant. (Well, most of it anyway; most of the Torah and part of Chronicles are missing.) These are page images, so there is no worrying about OCR or mistyping errors.

Political commentary: “Terrorists in suits and ties: Just because terrorists dress up as politicians and run for democratic office doesn't erase the fact they still are murderers”.

Reminder: Enter the The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest for a chance to win fame and glory, and to get to pick the weird thing of the day for a week.

Today’s weird thing is a list of handy hints from Emily’s collection. This is not humorous material, just thinking “outside the box”. Enjoy.


Go the Extra Yard
Jan's no knit-wit: "When knitting a sweater, after you put it together, run some extra yarn up along the inside of the seam lines. When washing, this will wash that yarn as well. Then if you need a repair in the future, the yarn you'll need will be there in the same exact color."

Stay Toned
If you're looking for a quick and easy reference note for tuning an instrument, just pick up the phone and use the dial tone. In the U.S., it's very close to the note "F" (if a little sharp). This is especially helpful for guitar players, who can use the tone to tune the "E" string at the first fret, then just tune the rest of the strings accordingly.

It's a Wrap
If you're in a pinch for gift wrap, head for the kitchen! Aluminum foil with an attractive ribbon or bow will have the receiver oohing and aahing over your gift-wrapping expertise. For more gift wrapping options, check out 2torial #0611, Giftwrap a Present.

Cutting-Edge Advice
Before cutting glass with a glass cutter, brush oil on your cut line. This way, you can score the glass without having to make your break right away. When you do make the break, put a wood pencil under the cut and push down gently on either side of the glass. Be sure to score the glass from edge to edge (don't start or stop in the middle), or you won't get a clean break.

A Sticker Situation
To create homemade stickers for kids, combine two parts white glue with one part white vinegar, apply it to the back of whatever you want and let it dry. When you're ready to use your new sticker, just moisten the back.

Picture Perfect
Small beanbags make great substitute tripods for all you amateur photographers. They mold themselves perfectly to uneven surfaces like rocks or tree branches—great when using the timer, as well as for low-light shots that require a steady hand.

Storing Paint
Putting a dot of the color on the lids of your paint bottles makes it easy to find the right one in a box of paints--or you could just store them upside down!

Sharpening Scissors
Scissors gone dull? Simply cut sandpaper with them to sharpen.

Penny Ruler
Need to make a small measurement, but don't have a ruler handy? A U.S. penny is exactly 3/4" wide.

Sawing Wood
Here's a clever one from LearnLetter member Maurine Franklin: "Need to saw a small piece of wood, but don't have someone to hold down the opposite end? Place it under the toilet seat, press down on the lid with a knee and saw away. Does the job quickly (and it's funny, too!)."

Magnetic Pictures
What to do with old school pictures, pictures too small to fit in frames, or pictures with lots of uninteresting background space? Glue them onto old magnets or new magnets attached to a small piece of cardboard to create a delightful new picture for your fridge.

Hammer And Fork
Don't want to hit your fingers with the hammer? Use a fork to hold the nail in position. Just place it between the tines.

Measure Your Thumbs
On a related note: many handypersons take the trouble to measure both their thumbs and their little fingers, so that they always have a measuring rule "at hand." Measure the space they occupy when pressed against a surface (not the width of your nails). Then you can estimate lengths by leapfrogging one digit over another.

Rejuvenating Masking Tape
"If you have a roll of masking tape that's dried up and won't unroll, simply put it in the microwave on a damp rag and zap it (no more than a minute or so). It'll be good as new!"

Sticky Price Tags
From Deb K.: "It was always frustrating for me when I'd buy a gift and, before wrapping, try to remove the stuck-on price tag. If the packaging is a smooth, shiny surface, you can get that junk off with lighter fluid. Just a little on a paper towel, combined with a little elbow grease will clean your package right up and make it presentable."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

27 Marheshwan 5766/29 November 2005: Square Dance Day


Barry and I have been batting around an idea for an exercise in group micro-fan-fiction recently, and we believe we have it to a stage where we can unleash it on the World. Therefore, allow me to present

The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest

In the universe of the Dune novels, there are a large number of fantastic (in the sense of fantasy) religions, many of which joined together in creating the mother of all syncretisms, the Orange Catholic Bible. From the information given in the Wikipedia article on the Orange Catholic Bible, one has to wonder what sort of religions did not make the cut. Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to invent such religions.

  1. Every entry must consist of a fantastic religion that does not exist in the Dune universe but which ought to be in there. Fantastic religions may be 1) syncretisms of pre-existing religions, 2) derivatives of pre-existing religions which are taken in interesting directions, or 3) something more or less original.

    Examples of Dune syncretisms: The Buddislamic Christian Church of Sikun, The Hasidic Lutheran Dynasty, Tenri Kyo Science in the Galaxy.

    Examples of Dune derivative religions: The Calvinistic Genetical Determinant Elect Body, Incorporated; The Jesuitical Evolutionist Church of Chardin; Tenth-Day Adventist Church of Rapide.

    Examples of Dune original religions: Belt Hypostatical Program, The Ray Space Worshippers, The Universal Pantheist Religion.

  2. There is no limit on the number or type of religions or ideologies that may be packed together into a syncretism.

    Examples of extreme syncretism: The Mormon Sikh Rastafarian Masonic Temple, The Raëlian Urantislamic Order, Zenshinto Satanic Church of Subgenius.

    Examples of syncretism with non-religious ideologies: The First Church of Lenin, Philosopher; The Anabaptist Humanist Church; The Church of the Twelve Steps.

  3. The source religions may be as general or specific as one likes.

    Example for extreme generality for a potential source religion: Theism.

    Example for extreme specificity for a potential source religion: Scientific-Rationalist, Vilna Ga’on rite, Orthodox Pharisaic Judaism with inclinations towards transcendent monotheism, resumption of animal sacrifice sooner rather than later, and rejection of practices with possible origin in demon-worship.

  4. Any and all real religions and other ideologies, whether currently practiced, extinct, or parodies (e.g., The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster), are not eligible, so please do not submit Sikhism on the basis that it is essentially Hindo-Islam. However, you may syncretize or create derivatives of canonical Dune religions if you wish (e.g., Reform Zensunnism, which permits worship of earthworms).

  5. Uncreative variations, such as The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of Alpha Centauri, and downright derogatory entries, such as The Society for the Worship of Aaron’s Moronic Blog, have no chance of winning. The point of this contest is creative fun, not mindless repetition or senseless cruelty.

  6. Optionally, you may include a brief summary of your fantastic religion.

    Example summary:
    Elvislamic Jihad
    Declaration of faith: “There is no god but Allah, and the King is His prophet.”
    Rites: Elvis impersonation.
    Liturgy: The music of Elvis Presley, especially his religious songs.
    Practices: Pilgrimage to Graceland, making holy war by use of music.
    Ultimate goal: To obliterate all “un-Elvislamic” forms of music and bring the entire music industry under the control of the Dar al-Elvislam and its leader, the Sheikh al-Elvislam.
    Scriptural quote: King of Kings 9:22-23: There may come unto you those who do not see the wisdom of the King. And thou shalt say verily unto them, “You ain’t nothing but a hound-dog”.

    Summaries are recommended when the source religions/ideologies are obscure and for totally original religions.

  7. Fantastic parody religions are permitted.

  8. All entries must be received via E-mail before the first day of Hanukkah (sundown, 25 December 2005). Entries received as comments on the blog will not be accepted. In the event of too many entries to handle, the judges may end acceptance of entries earlier.

  9. There will be no limit on the number of entries anyone may make, though it should be noted that a few good entries will be appreciated a lot more than zillions of bad ones.

  10. Aaron and anyone he decides and convinces to join his Judging Committee will announce a winner on the last day of Hanukkah (2 January 2006). Judges, of course, are not eligible to enter this contest.

  11. The winner shall get to choose (within reason) the weird thing of the day for a week.
Judging criteria:
  1. Humor: Humorous entries will be appreciated more than non-humorous ones. Extra points if one or more judges end up rolling on the floor laughing.

  2. Paradox: Paradoxical entries, especially deeply paradoxical ones, will be appreciated more than non-paradoxical ones.

  3. Insight: Entries which display insight into what the religions/ideologies being syncretized have in common will be appreciated more than non-insightful ones.

  4. Originality: Entries which are blatantly obvious based on Frank Herbert’s originals will not be appreciated (e.g., Baptismal Cosmotheists of Vulcan). Syncretisms with interesting combinations of traits will be greatly appreciated.

  5. If the judges like it, it’s good. If they don’t like it, it’s bad.
Tell your friends about the contest! Spread the news!

Disclaimer: This contest is not associated in any way, shape, or form with Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. We don’t have any money, so there is no point in suing us.

Moving right along, today’s weird thing is something from Emily’s collection, included below. Enjoy.


Work VS. Prison!

IN PRISON you spend the majority of your time in an 8X10 cell.
AT WORK you spend most of your time in a 6X8 cubicle.

IN PRISON you get three meals a day (free).
AT WORK you only get a break for one meal and you have to pay for it yourself.

IN PRISON you get time off for good behavior.
AT WORK you get rewarded for good behavior with more WORK.

IN PRISON a guard locks and unlocks the doors for you.
AT WORK you must carry around a security card and unlock all the doors yourself.

IN PRISON you can watch TV and play games.
AT WORK you get fired for watching TV and playing games.

IN PRISON you get your own toilet.
AT WORK you have to share.

IN PRISON they allow your family and friends to visit.
AT WORK you can not even speak to your family and friends.

IN PRISON all expenses are paid by taxpayers with no work at all.
AT WORK you get to pay all the expenses to go to work and then they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for the prisoners.

IN PRISON you spend most of your life looking through the bars from the inside wanting to get out.
AT WORK you spend most of your time wanting to get out and go inside bars.

Monday, November 28, 2005

26 Marheshwan 5766/28 November 2005


Today’s weird thing is the Wikipedia article “Placeholder name”. Enjoy.


26 Marheshwan 5766 (evening)/27 November 2005: “Defend yourself against the coming robot rebellion”


I went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire today, so you can blame the delay on He Who Must Not Be Named. The credits contained the sentence “NO DRAGONS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS FILM.” (Go figure.)

Today’s weird thing is “Defend yourself against the coming robot rebellion”. Enjoy.


Friday, November 25, 2005

23 Marheshwan 5766/25 November 2005: This post courtesy of the Purple Oyster of Doom


Today’s weird thing (because my random weird thing chooser isn’t giving me good choices, and because I feel like it) is the Invisible Pink Unicorn, one of the two major parodies of theism I am aware of, the other being Flying Spaghetti Monsterism (AKA Pastafarianism), which was mentioned yesterday. Unlike Pastafarianism, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorn has the logical difficulty that the Invisible Pink Unicorn is both invisible and pink. This highlights the bizarre idea that some people have that God can violate logic and mathematics. The Invisible Pink Unicorn as a parody suffers from a major weakness of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, namely that she is made of matter. If any atheists are reading this, please rethink your parodies of theism and come up with something that properly makes fun of transcendent theism (i.e., the notion that God is not part of our universe), panentheism (the notion that God permeates our universe, perhaps akin to a deified version of the defunct concept of the universal ether), or pantheism (the notion that God is everything that exists or at least the “soul of the world”). Parody of the notion that the self is identical to God (a perplexing notion that some people hold by) would also be welcome, e.g., “Have you gotten in touch with your own Invisible Pink Unicornness?” In the meantime, enjoy the silliness about pizza and the Purple Oyster of Doom, and Shabbath shalom.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving supplement


I just found out about some educational material at the Urban Legends Reference Pages: “Beliefs About Thanksgiving” and “The Big Sleep”. Less educational material is “Let's Talk Turkey” and “Black Friday”.

Also, for some reason, I am taking to call chickens “Cornish game turkeys”. Go figure.


22 Marheshwan 5766/24 November 2005: Thanksgiving/Use Even If Seal Is Broken Day


Useful site of the day: “IVR Cheat Sheet to Find a Human”.

Political blundering: “Bush Rewrites History To Criticize His Antiwar Critics”.

Today’s weird thing is an open letter from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is one of the more interesting parody religions out there, the point of which is to make a point about creationism. There is a rather annoying faction of (mostly) Christians who interpret the first 11 chapters of Genesis in an absurdly literal manner (that contradicts what is known about biology, geology, astronomy, cosmology, etc.) and wish to impose this belief on everyone else, specifically by having it taught in the public schools under the name “intelligent design”, falsely claiming this belief is legitimate science. Flying Spaghetti Monsterists (AKA Pastafarians) parody creationism by claiming that the universe was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster by waving his noodly appendage. Pastafarians claim that since Flying Spaghetti Monsterism is backed by just as much evidence as creationism/“intelligent design”, it deserves just as much classroom time. (That the writer of the open letter does not seem to understand transcendent theism is another matter.) Enjoy, and happy Turkey Day.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

20 Marheshwan 5766/22 November 2005: Start Your Own Country Day


In honor of Start Your Own Country Day, I hereby declare this blog to be a sovereign and independent state.

Today’s weird thing is “Outsourcing to the Heartland”, a welcome twist on the bane of many Americans. Enjoy.

Aaron, Emperor of Weird thing of the day

Sunday, November 20, 2005

18 Marheshwan 5766/20 November 2005


Today’s weird thing is something from Emily’s collection, included below. Enjoy.


* It is hard to understand how a cemetery raised its burial cost and blamed it on the cost of living.

* Just remember...if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

* We are born naked, wet, and hungry. Then things get worse.

* The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.

* It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end to end, someone would be stupid enough to try and pass them.

* Laughing stock - cattle with a sense of humor.

* You can't have everything, where would you put it?

* Latest survey shows that 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the world's population.

* If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.

* Eat right. Stay fit. Die anyway.

* The things that come to those that wait may be the things left by those who got there first.

* Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat drinking beer all day.

* Flashlight: A case for holding dead batteries.

* Shin: A device for finding furniture in the dark.

* As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in public schools.

* When you're swimming in the creek, and an eel bites your cheek, that's a moray!

* A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

* It was recently discovered that research causes cancer in rats.

* The only cure for insomnia is to get more sleep.

* Everybody lies, but it doesn't matter since nobody listens.

* I wished the buck stopped here, as I could use a few.

* I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.

* When you go into court you are putting yourself in the hands of 12 people that weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.

* Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

15 Marheshwan 5765/17 November 2005: Yerov`am ben Nevat Day


Today is a holiday instituted by Yerov‘am ben Nevat, the first king of the 10 northern tribes after the split of Israel away from Judah. His story is told in 1 Kings 11:26-14:20, with today’s holiday mentioned in 1 Kings 12:25-33, where he set up two golden calves for people to worship, thereby syncretizing Judaism with Canaanite paganism. In (dis)honor of this irrational (and prophetically condemned) combination, today’s weird thing is the Wikipedia article on the likewise irrational Orange Catholic Bible, the mother of all fictional syncretisms. This has been mentioned previously as something I unintentionally “contributed” to. Now I have contributed more material which Barry and I created a while back, and we have added more identifications of source material. As a bonus, I am including below commentary I have written which has not been incorporated into the Wikipedia article. Enjoy or be scared or something.


Commentary on the Orange Catholic Bible:

The Orange Catholic Bible (OCB) of Frank Herbert’s Dune universe presents one major problem: What was the Commission of Ecumenical Translators (CET) thinking? Combining several different religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, the Bahá’í religion, Jainism, Voodoo, Tenrikyo, Deism, Taoism, Shintoism, Unitarianism, and quite likely a few others) into one coherent belief system with a single set of scriptures with commentaries and a single liturgical manual is not trivial. The easy part is imagining how they condensed the original scriptures, just by removing repeated material. There is a lot of overlap among Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; among Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles; and among the Gospels. Stories in the Qur’an which also appear in the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament could also be eliminated. Furthermore, all the material used could be edited to fit a single coherent belief system. The hard part is how they decided on that single belief system.

One thing that is clear is that in the Dune universe syncretism, belief in more than one belief system simultaneously, is common. Just a quick look at the list makes this obvious, considering the presence of Buddho-Islam, Christo-Islam, Hindo-Islam, Buddho-Christianity, Hindo-Christianity, Buddho-Islamo-Christianity, Buddho-Islamo-Jainism, Judeo-Christianity, Judeo-Islam, Jaino-Buddhism, Buddho-Shinto-Christianity, combinations of various branches of Christianity, and possibly a few others. Some of these combinations are not problematic. For example, Ortho-Catholicism is credible, as there are today Christians who perform Eastern Orthodox rites but are allied with Rome, and the ultimate result of efforts started by Pope John Paul II to make peace between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches might credibly be a united Ortho-Catholic Church. There is also the possibility of borrowing some features of a religion but not others, such as in the case of non-Muslim Sufis and non-Buddhist practitioners of Zen. But some of these combinations are blatantly illogical, and the major question is how they were arrived at. They are probably not cases of simple borrowing, as Judaism and Islam prohibit borrowing from other religions, much less outright religious syncretism. More likely not only is syncretism in the Dune universe rampant, but also unorthodox and ignorant religious thinking.

In an orthodox religion, one strives to follow the traditions handed down and stay within the bounds of tradition. But in an unorthodox religion, tradition is respected or discarded according to whim. Likewise, people ignorant of their own religion can easily fall into error because they do not know it well enough to respect its boundaries properly. In such a mental environment, which shows little respect for rules of evidence and objective truth, the most bizarre syncretisms can arise. For example, these have allowed throughout Jewish history such travesties of Judeo-Protestantism (“Reform Judaism”), Judeo-Neo-Paganism, Judeo-Buddhism (“Zen Judaism”), Buddho-Sufi Judaism (“Jewish Renewal”), Judeo-Atheism (“Reconstructionist Judaism”), Judeo-Secular Humanism (“Secular Humanist Judaism”), and even the abominable Judeo-Canaanite paganism. Early on Christianity broke with Judaism by oddly rejecting the notion that one has to keep the Law and allowing for adoption of non-Jewish practices and ideas. Islam started as an ignorant mystic’s personal syncretism of Judaism and Christianity with ideas borrowed from Zoroastrianism and Arabian paganism. And so on to the point where this essay could get much longer than it is.

It is probably in such an environment that many of the religions that sent delegates to the CET were formed. It is clear that the religion that receives the most attention in the Dune series, the blatantly syncretic Zensunni religion of the Fremen, has strayed far from its Islamic roots. It is not a mere fusion of Zen Buddhism and Sunni Islam; somewhere in its history, maybe even before there was a Zensunni religion and the Fremen were still part of the Third Islamic Movement, it unburdened itself of Sunni theology and practice. Gone is the worship of an immaterial god, the pilgrimage to Mecca, the paranoia about women, the oppression of unbelievers, and the need to wage a constant war against all who will not submit to their rule. Indeed, they do not refer back to the Qur’an at all. Zensunnis feel no guilt at worshipping the sandworm, and they eagerly adopt the false religions founded by Alia and Leto II. Considering that the Bene Gesserit as a standard tactic create false religions to serve their purposes, there is clearly in the Dune universe a sufficient supply of people not willing to think sensibly about what they believe to make this worthwhile. Objective truth has no place in such a religious landscape.

This leads straight back to the CET. The CET was formed in the wake of the Butlerian Jihad, a religious war against computers and robots which lasted two generations and took more human lives than any previous war in history. The original purpose of the CET was ecumenical discussion in order to avert further jihads. What they did instead was attempt to remove the cause of religious war by claiming that no religion was the one true religion, but instead that there had been a continuing revelation throughout human history. Thus they compiled the Orange Catholic Bible from previous religious texts, condensing them and editing them to fit a single mould. In short, they committed an act of pious fraud. Telling is that the CET’s betrayal of truth set off anti-ecumenical riots which killed tens of millions of people. Indeed, all but 14 of the delegates to the CET either recanted or were lynched by their own congregants. Whatever one believes, anyone with any sense knows that one cannot make something up and then expect it to be true. Unfortunately, there were many who instead accepted the Orange Catholic Bible, and so this heresy lived on to influence the events depicted in Frank Herbert’s Dune novels.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

13 Marheshwan 5766/15 November 2005: National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day


Scary book of the day: Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis by Bat Ye’or. I finished this book over Shabbath, and it explains a lot about the way the European Union collectively behaves. The premise is basically that in exchange for oil and cheap labor from the Arab world as well as create an alliance that rivals the USA for power, Europe’s politicians have agreed to turn a blind eye to anything evil the Islamic countries do, submit their countries to Islamization, and oppose the USA and Israel. Essentially, Europe has become a dhimmi superstate. I would also like to note that according to the book Christianity among some people in Europe is being effectively syncretized with Islam via glorification of the the jihad against Israel and promotion of anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism. Jesus would definitely be appalled.

Today’s weird thing is something from Emily’s collection, included below. Enjoy.


The 14 Laws of Cat Physics

1. Law of Cat Inertia: A cat will remain at rest unless acted upon by some outside force, such as the opening of a can of cat food.
2. Law of Cat Thermodynamics: Heat flows from a warmer body to a cooler body, except in the case of a cat, in which all heat flows to the cat.
3. Law of Cat Stretching: A cat will stretch to a distance and time directly proportional to the length of the nap just taken.
4. Law of Cat Sleeping: All cats must sleep in people beds and in a position that is as uncomfortable for humans as possible.
5. Law of Resistance: A cat's resistance varies in direct proportion to a human's desire for it to do something.
6. Law of Energy Conservation: Cats know that energy can be neither created nor destroyed and will, therefore, use as little energy as possible.
7. Law of Pill Rejection: Any pill given to a cat will be rejected at the speed of a bullet.
8. Law of Refrigerator Observation: By watching the refrigerator door long enough, the cat can will a human to come along, open the door, and take out something worthy of eating.
9. Law of the Scratching Post: A cat will reject formal cat scratching posts in favor of the most expensive piece of furniture in the house.
10. Law of Cat Magnetism: Clothing attracts cat hair in direct proportion in how dark it is.
11. Law of Doors: Cats don't allow closed doors in any room, Once you've opened a door, it's not necessary for them to use it. Instead, they like to stand halfway in and out and think about several things while the wind, rain, cold air, or bugs come into the house.
12. Law of Hair-Balls: If you have to throw up a hair-ball, get to a chair quickly. If you cannot manage in time, get to an Oriental rug. If there is not an Oriental rug, shag carpet will do.
13. Law of Attraction: Those humans that are allergic to cats, do not like cats, or are afraid of cats have the most interest to a cat and are the first laps to be sat in.
14. Law of Humans: Humans have 3 primary functions: feed us, play with us and give us attention, and clean the litter box. It is important to maintain one's arrogance so that the humans know who is master of the house. Humans need to know the basic rules. Start by teaching them early, be consistent, and you'll have a smooth running household.

Monday, November 14, 2005

12 Marheshwan 5766/14 November 2005: Helpful hints


Today’s weird thing is a list of helpful hints from Emily’s collection, included below. This is not humorous material, just things which are not intuitive. (Not to mention that Safari is acting strangely uncooperative with some sites lately, so you get a random selection of stuff stored directly on my computer.) I have not verified if any of this works, so be forewarned. Enjoy.


1) Flies or bees bothering you? Spray them with hairspray and they will take a quick dive.

2) Sealed envelope - Put in the freezer for a few hours, then slide a knife under the flap. The envelope can then be resealed. (hmmmmmm...)

3) Use empty toilet paper roll to store appliance cords. It keeps them neat and you can write on the roll what appliance it belongs to.

4) For icy door steps in freezing temperatures: get warm water and put Dawn dishwashing liquid in it. Pour it all over the steps. They won't refreeze. (wish I had known this for the last 40 years!)

5) Crayon marks on walls? This worked wonderfully! A damp rag, dipped in baking soda. Comes off with little effort (elbow grease that is!).

6) Permanent marker on appliances/counter tops (like store receipt BLUE!) rubbing alcohol on paper towel.

7) Whenever I purchase a box of S.O.S pads, I immediately take a pair of scissors and cut each pad into halves. After years of having to throw away rusted and unused and smelly pads, I finally decided that this would be much more economical. And now a box of S.O.S pads last me indefinitely! In fact, I have noticed that the scissors get sharpened this way!

8) Opening brand new jars can be a feat in itself. Well, I have found a way to make it the easiest thing to do. Instead of banging a jar of jam, pickles, etc., with a knife until it loosens up, I simply reach into the drawer and pull out the handy nutcracker. It adjusts to the size of the jar and I simply give it a good twist and off pops the lid!

9) Blood stains on clothes? Not to worry! Just pour a little hydrogen peroxide on a cloth and proceed to wipe off every drop of blood. Works every time! Now, where to put the body?

10) Use vertical strokes when washing windows outside and horizontal for inside windows. This way you can tell which side has the streaks. Straight vinegar will get outside windows really clean. Don't wash windows on a sunny day. They will dry too quickly and will probably streak.

11) Spray a bit of perfume on the light bulb in any room to create a lovely light scent in each room when the light is turned on. Place fabric softener sheets in dresser drawers and your clothes will smell freshly washed for weeks to come. You can also do this with towels and linen

12) Candles will last a lot longer if placed in the freezer for at least 3 hours prior to burning.

13) To clean artificial flowers, pour some salt into a paper bag and add the flowers. Shake vigorously as the salt will absorb all the dust and dirt and leave your artificial flowers looking like new! Works like a charm!

14) To easily remove burnt on food from your skillet, simply add a drop or two of dish soap and enough water to cover bottom of pan, and bring to a boil on stovetop.

15) Spray your TUPPERWARE with nonstick cooking spray before pouring in tomato based sauces and there won't be any stains.

16) When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead and there won't be any white mess on the outside of the cake.

17) Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.

18) When boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the corn's natural sweetness.

19) Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.

20) Don't throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.

21). To get rid of itch from mosquito bites, try applying soap on the area and you will experience instant relief.

22) Ants, ants, ants everywhere... Well, they are said to never cross a chalk line. So get your chalk out and draw a line on the floor or wherever ants tend to march. See for yourself.

23) Use air-freshener to clean mirrors. It does a good job and better still, leaves a lovely smell to the shine.

24) When you get a splinter, reach for the scotch tape before resorting to tweezers or a needle. Simply put the scotch tape over the splinter, then pull it off. Scotch tape removes most splinters painlessly and easily.

25) Now look what you can do with Alka Seltzer. Clean a toilet. Drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets, wait twenty minutes, brush and flush. The citric acid and effervescent action clean vitreous china.

26) Clean a vase. To remove a stain from the bottom of a glass vase or cruet, fill with water and drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets.

27) Polish jewelry. Drop two Alka Seltzer tablets into a glass of water and immerse the jewelry for two minutes. Clean a thermos bottle. Fill the bottle with water, drop in four Alka Seltzer tablets, and let soak for an hour (or longer, if necessary).

28) Unclog a drain. Clear the sink drain by dropping three Alka Seltzer tablets down the drain followed by a cup of Heinz White Vinegar. Wait a few minutes, then run the hot water.

29) Do your friends a favor. Pass this timely (and some not-so-timely) information on to a friend! I just did.