Thursday, January 31, 2008

24 Shevaṭ 5768: Escape Day/National Gorilla Day/Inspire Your Heart With the Arts Day

Greetings.

Cool thing of the day: The latest Project Gutenberg edition of The Lost Princess of Oz, which you can get with all the original illustrations.

Today’s news and commentary:In lieu of the usual daily weird thing, I present below (as part of work towards my book Divine Misconceptions) a review of the made-for-TV movie/miniseries Noah’s Ark below. Enjoy (or be scared) and share the weirdness.

Aaron



A review of Noah’s Ark
by Aaron Solomon Adelman

For dramatic effect, we have taken poetic license with some of the events of the mighty epic of Noah and the Flood.…
—Opening caption of Noah’s Ark

I thought The Ten Commandments: The Musical was bad. Well, it is. But now it has a new contender: Noah’s Ark. Noah’s Ark is a 1999 two-part made-for-TV movie starring Jon Voight in the title role and made by the same people who committed the frightening atrocity of creating a version of Alice in Wonderland which kept much of Lewis Carroll’s dialog intact yet was painful to watch. Noah’s Ark was likewise unpleasant, only with a lot more original dialog. The problem is not that the writer was completely ignorant of the subject material; he knew enough to be aware of Jewish oral traditions that the wife of Noaḥ (Noah) was Na‘amah and that sex was forbidden on the Ark, said prohibition being violated by Ḥam (Ham). Rather the writer blatantly, unabashedly rewrote the original material (Genesis 6:5-9:29), mixing in parts of the story of the destruction of Sedhom (Sodom) and ‘Amorah (Gomorra) (Genesis 18:17-19:38) and fabricating most of the movie. The result is a shell consisting of many of the elements of the original story, only filled with very different subplots, motivations, and behaviors. This might be partially forgivable if the result had been a good story on its own merits, particularly something theologically sound, but alas we are cursed with a lame story and lame theology, something neither dramatic nor poetic.

Characters in the film make a point to philosophize. This is good, since thinking is how people come up with good questions to ask and good answers. Unfortunately, the philosophizing is rather low-quality and often irrelevant. (E.g., supposing that humans would not need to wear clothes if they were covered with fur does nothing to advance the plot, and it is wrong anyway. The peddler’s philosophizing about money is pathetic.) At best, the answers are canned. This is tied into the fact that the writer’s understanding of morality and theology is poor. The biggest moral question in the film, one not even voiced explicitly by the characters, is why people do evil actions. And the answer, voiced by Loṭ (Lot)—or a rather a pale imitation of the original—is that evil is enjoyable, plain and simple. This answer has the advantage of being easy to understand and somewhat plausible. After all, sexual immorality is often very pleasurable. However, this answer does not explain a lot of evil. Does everyone who commits murder enjoy it? Do all thieves enjoy stealing? Does everyone who hurts another person feel pleasure? Indeed, those who perform evil in this film very much enjoy themselves; other possible motives for evil behavior, e.g., anger, greed, revenge, or desperation, get no play whatsoever, with only one exception (to be noted soon). Furthermore, evil-doers in this film feel little or no remorse, but in the real world people who do bad things (at least in the West) often feel guilt and try to rationalize their behavior. The psychological unrealism makes the characters seem more like cardboard cutouts than actual people. Indeed, the writer has to admit that his thesis of evil being pleasurable is not valid when it comes to human sacrifice. People do not try to sacrifice a girl to Molekh (Moloch) for the fun of it; they do it to appease the gods they believe in.

Theology fares no better, with both YHWH (the God of the Hebrew Bible) and the pagan deities being misunderstood. The writer has no idea that Molekh worship involved burning or singeing children (2 Kings 23:10, Jeremiah 32:35); there is no requirement of virginity ever mentioned. Molekh is even misidentified as a rain god. The pagan characters voice the blatantly stupid idea that a god could only be the god of one thing only, despite this view not reflecting actual traditional paganism. (Apparently the writer is trying to misrepresent multiple religions.)

The relationship between YHWH (not “the Lord” as the writer had Him referred to due to an apparent ignorance of Hebrew) and Noaḥ takes a severe beating, with YHWH being depicted as much more accessible to Noaḥ than attested in the original text, with an eerily inappropriate familiarity. YHWH becomes much more human in behavior and less transcendent, with the rain for the Flood being weeping and YHWH handing out miracles readily. He has insufficient foresight, not anticipating predictable problems (such as insufficient labor and the necessity of a prefabricated ark) in advance. He sends Noaḥ out to a mountain to tell him about the (misplaced) destruction of Sedhom and ‘Amorah, despite being just as easily able to do it while Noaḥ is at home. His idea of showing people His power is to kill them. This misinterpretation of a Supreme Deity abandons Noaḥ for a while to decide whether to destroy all of humanity, and when He decides to wipe out everyone, Noaḥ’s whistling and dancing changes His mind. How could a being with enough brain power to keep track of everything in the Universe not be able to spare enough to keep in contact with one single person while working on a problem? What sort of monster finds whistling and dancing in a manner oddly reminiscent of Fiddler on the Roof the only things meritorious enough to save humanity? This sort of moral triviality is not attested anywhere in the Hebrew Bible.

Further mistakes and annoyances:
  1. Blaming “scribbling scribes” for changing stories is a pathetic excuse for the writer changing the story deliberately himself.
  2. Anything not portrayable in a PG manner is watered down or omitted altogether. Casualties from the story of Noaḥ: the rampant violence for which YHWH decided to destroy humanity (Genesis 6:11-12), Noaḥ getting naked while drunk (Genesis 9:20), anything to explain that vicious curse afterwards (Genesis 9:25). Casualties from the story of Sedhom and ‘Amorah: Rampant immorality of the cities (Genesis 13:13, 18:20), attempted homosexual rape (Genesis 19:4-5), Loṭ out of desperation offering his daughters to the crowd trying to commit said attempted rape (Genesis 19:8), Loṭ’s desperation failing miserably (Genesis 19:9), Loṭ being drugged and raped by his own daughters, thereby having children with them (Genesis 19:31-38). All fighting in this film is also pathetic. Granted, this is a “family” film, but do keep in mind that the Hebrew Bible is not a PG text. YHWH has to deal with real people, who frequently do un-PG things. Inconsistently, showing people and animals on fire or drowning gets more play than showing what they did to deserve it.
  3. I do not believe that there is any volcanic activity in Israel.
  4. It is ’Avraham (Abraham) who bargains YHWH down to 10 righteous people being enough to save Sedhom and ‘Amorah from 50 (Genesis 18:23-33), not Noaḥ. ’Avraham also initiates the bargaining and does not go looking for 10 righteous people.
  5. Loṭ’s daughters and their husbands (Genesis 19:8, 19:12, 19:14-16, 19:30-38) are missing from the film. If they were trying to make Loṭ look really bad, they should have left in those two who raped him (Genesis 19:31-38) and not have him complain at all about it.
  6. Were there kites back then? And why are people fleeing danger bringing a kite and not pots, pans, and hats?
  7. The girlfriends of Shem, Ḥam, and Yefeth (Japheth) are given the anachronistic names Ruth, Esther, and Miriam. This fits since these extended courtships are themselves anachronistic and inaccurate. These women are supposed to be wives (Genesis 6:18, 7:7, 7:13, 8:16, 8:18).
  8. People suffering from drought in this movie look amazingly healthy. No one looks gaunt or dies of first.
  9. Noaḥ, Na‘amah, and their sons walk into a dangerous situation unarmed. This is truly stupid without any Divine assurance of safety in advance.
  10. That high priest’s outfit looks too Jewish for comfort. There is also a modern shofar (trumpet made from an animal horn, blown on Ro’sh hashShanah) depicted at Sedhom. I am insulted.
  11. The writer does not know that an “ark” is a box, not a boat, and the Hebrew word used exclusively for the Ark, tevah (Genesis 6:14-16, 6:18-19, 7:1, 7:7, 7:9, 7:13, 7:15, 7:17-18, 7:23, 8:1, 8:4, 8:6, 8:9-10, 8:13, 8:16, 8:19, 9:10, 9:18) supports this interpretation.
  12. “Hither and yon” and “creepers and crawlers” are pointless archaisms. For the record, archaic language in the Hebrew Bible is mostly confined to poetic passages.
  13. Why was Noaḥ getting intoxicated before the Flood? That is only supposed to happen after the Flood (Genesis 9:20).
  14. Isaiah 11:6 uses the metaphor of a wolf dwelling with a sheep to describe the Messianic era. It is not about a literal fox (wrong species anyway) lying down with a lamb on the Ark.
  15. Why are anyone besides Noaḥ and family surviving the Flood, in contradiction to Genesis 7:21-23? The peddler surviving is extraneous, and the pirates attacking the Ark works very badly with the Deus ex machina saving the day.
  16. The writer is unaware that anything that is not fastened to the ocean floor does not make a good marker buoy. He also has no clue what a mirage is.
  17. The madness on the Ark is really quite pointless and annoying, without any creativity.
  18. A horse being called “Pegasus” makes no sense, as there are no references to anyone knowing anything about Greek mythology in the Hebrew Bible. Then again, nothing makes much sense in this movie.
  19. The writer has no clue that:  (a) “Perfect” and “wrong” are mutually exclusive attributes and thus cannot be manifested simultaneously.  (b) “Perfect” is only a valid attribute in a mathematical sense and in poetry. No matter how good and wonderful a deity is, one can always imagine an even better and more wonderful deity. (And people do in fact do this. Many people today have abandoned traditional conceptions of deity for ones with lower standards and the purpose of making things go OK for us.) Examples for things other than deities are analogous. “Perfect” is therefore useless in theology because one can always legitimately claim that it has not been reached. As such, it cannot be validly be expected for anything which is supposed to actually exist.
  20. The delivery of all the materials to make a boat in Evan Almighty may be borrowed from Noah’s Ark.

Classification: Two-part made-for-TV “family” movie which no one with taste who actually loves their family would show them.

Overall rating: D+ (it could have been even less watchable with the right effort, so let’s just thank YHWH that it wasn’t).

Theological rating: F (for grievous misrepresentation of Scripture and obvious incompetence).

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

23 Shevaṭ 5768: Inane Answering Machine Day

Hello. You have reached the “Weird thing of the day” blog. Aaron cannot come to the blog right now. Here are today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing has been contributed by guest ranter Malcolm NC-17 and is included below. Enjoy and share the weirdness.



Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: An Elaborate Setup for Human-Robot Sex


In the wasteland left by the current writer’s strike, folks will watch anything that isn’t a rerun. Lo and behold, into this empty desert proudly strides a robot monster from the future out to kill your time and sell you worthless crap.


This is Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a continuation of the first two Terminator movies. Thankfully this pretends the atrocious Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines did not happen and picks up after the first two movies. Those of you who spent four hours of you lives more productively than watching these movies will be confused as they give only brief and haphazard information about what happened before the series. Some tidbits you should know:

  • In the future, the machines do a mass genocide using nuclear weapons and take over. The surviving humans resist, lead by John Connor.
  • In the two previous movies the machines sent back “terminators,” killer machines which look like people, to kill Sarah Connor (John’s mother) and John himself. They failed.
  • Sarah and John have tinkered with events which, in turn, should have kept the machines from taking over. Nevertheless, despite the fact that they should never take over, the future evil machines somehow keep on existing anyway and send back terminators to alter the past in their favor. Go figure.
  • If you travel through time, you will show up at your destination naked.

In the series, John is befriended by Cameron (named after James Cameron, ha ha, not) Phillips, who is weird and turns out to be terminator sent from the future to protect John. Which is all well and good, because there’s one badass evil terminator also from the future who is also out to kill him. Cameron outsmarts everyone by using a hidden time machine to take the Connors forward eight years where no one is looking for them. And so they keep on the run, trying to stay ahead of everyone possibly looking for them.


Let’s be clear, this isn’t a half-baked atrocity like Sci-Fi channel’s Flash Gordon. There is some attempt to be halfway weighty and the setup allows for them to introduce serious ethical problems and character development. The series is closer kin then to the same channel’s Battlestar Galactica remake in this way, and they could get into nasty dilemmas in the manner of Philip K. Dick (Paycheck, Minority Report).


The annoying part is what they’re going to do with Cameron. Unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger but more like Kristanna Loken, Cameron looks like a pretty girl roughly John’s age. And Cameron has been awkward and inconsistent in acting like a human being, and she’s going to be in constant contact with the Connors. It doesn’t take a genius to see where this is going. She’s going to have to learn how to act like a person, of the value of human life, of emotions, etc. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing except it’s been done already. Back in 1883 Carlo Collodi did it in The Adventures of Pinocchio and we’ve seen it a lot ever since. It was the central obsession of Lt. Commander Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation and reached pathological proportions in Bicentennial Man. They are constantly kept together by circumstances which will make outside relationships difficult and he’s already seen her naked. Once her feelings and his hormones kick in, is there any doubt what they’re going to do? Cameron, killer robot from the future, geisha for a horny teenager.


Their only out from this would be to write against the cliché. What if they make Cameron the anti-Data and she actively fights becoming more human? She might learn to act human in public but become disdainful when just around the Connors and drive them both crazy. Perhaps she might even become distressed and be driven to self-destruction? What if she notes the horrible things humans do and seriously questions if there’s any benefit to becoming more human? She might even be conflicted, secretly longing to be one way and publicly trying to be another for any of a number of plausible reasons.


Or maybe she’s incapable of real emotion. John could fall in love with her, but what happens when she can’t love him? If she’s supposed to protect him, how will she react if being around hurts him? Would she conclude that she has to pretend around him for as long as she’s around, or would she let him down early so he would not suffer so much later? Or maybe she might be conflicted over his future relationships, being obligated to see to his needs in the present but knowing he will have an important relationship in the future this might screw up. And so on.


I could go into Sarah’s probable reactions, which range from being violently opposed to her son loving a robot wearing a meat suit to being disgustingly pragmatic about his sexual outlets. And then Cameron could be interested in Sarah, Cameron could get into odd conflicts over a new form of persuasion she discovers, and other possibilities with a little too much potential for humor for such a grim program. But we know Cameron and John will fall in love, Sarah will initially be opposed but eventually relent.


There are numerous possibilities beyond simply “robot learns humanity,” and if they have any sense they will fully exploit them for as much angst and drama as they can wring from them. I hope, but, almost as certainly as the Connors can’t wipe out the threat of killer robots from the future as this would end the series, I doubt they will take the real opportunities they set up.


Maybe we’ll get lucky and find a few interesting organs among the pieces of meat wrapped around Cameron. Then at least the resulting child will be an interesting change from the expected.


—Malcolm NC-17




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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

22 Shevaṭ 5768: National Puzzle Day/Freethinker’s Day

Greetings.

Divine misconception of the day: poor understanding of truth noted in “Surveys Find Americans Tolerant Of Religious Beliefs”. Truth, in reality, is purely objective. Whether it be scientific truth, mathematical truth, of the truth of propositions within an artificial system, there are such things as “right” and “wrong”. What the article notes is that Americans tend to eschew the notions of “right” and “wrong”. Such a view is elegantly formulated in the Principa Discordia, the most prominent text of Discordianism:
 With our concept making apparatus called "mind" we look at reality
through the ideas-about-reality which our cultures give us. The
ideas-about-reality are mistakenly labeled "reality" and unenlightened
people are forever perplexed by the fact that other people, especially other
cultures, see "reality" differently. It is only the ideas-about-reality
which differ. Real (capital-T True) reality is a level deeper that is the
level of concept.

We look at the world through windows on which have been drawn grids
(concepts). Different philosophies use different grids. A culture is a group
of people with rather similar grids. Through a window we view chaos, and
relate it to the points on our grid, and thereby understand it. The ORDER is
in the GRID. That is the Aneristic Principle.

Western philosophy is traditionally concerned with contrasting one
grid with another grid, and amending grids in hopes of finding a perfect one
that will account for all reality and will, hence, (say unenlightened
westerners) be True. This is illusory; it is what we Erisians call the
ANERISTIC ILLUSION. Some grids can be more useful than others, some more
beautiful than others, some more pleasant than others, etc., but none can be
more True than any other.

DISORDER is simply unrelated information viewed through some
particular grid. But, like "relation", no-relation is a concept. Male, like
female, is an idea about sex. To say that male-ness is "absence of
female-ness", or vice versa, is a matter of definition and metaphysically
arbitrary. The artificial concept of no-relation is the ERISTIC PRINCIPLE.

The belief that "order is true" and disorder is false or somehow
wrong, is the Aneristic Illusion. To say the same of disorder, is the
ERISTIC ILLUSION.

The point is that (little-t) truth is a matter of definition
relative to the grid one is using at the moment, and that (capital-T)
Truth, metaphysical reality, is irrelevant to grids entirely. Pick a grid,
and through it some chaos appears ordered and some appears disordered. Pick
another grid, and the same chaos will appear differently ordered and
disordered.

Reality is the original Rorschach.
This world-view essentially makes every point-of-view equally legitimate; whatever one wants to believe is considered equally true One can claim that the Moon is made of green cheese with the same confidence as embracing general relativity. Or your neighbor may claim that you stole $50,000,000,000 from him/her, assured that the evidence to the contrary does not matter; after all, the point-of-view that you did steal that huge amount of money is just as good as the one that says you did not. Adopting such a view is a denial of any means whatsoever at finding truth; indeed “seeking” makes no sense in such a context, as it is denied that there is actual truth to be sought. Why anyone would adopt such a reality-denying point of view? Perhaps it is a pathology of tolerance, of which we have a long tradition in the USA. Toleration is trying to get along with other people, regardless of what they believe and do. The pathology would be assuming that what other people believe and do is just as right as anything anyone believes and does. This idea is not tenable, as it ignores that on some issues someone has to be right (e.g., given some definition of what a god is, either no god exists or at least one god exists). Furthermore, what is wrong with the notion of “wrong” anyway?  For a scientist or a mathematician, being wrong is something you expect to happen to you.  One expects that sooner or later (probably sooner), something one hypothesizes will turn out not to be correct—and that is OK.  Finding out one is wrong shows one that one needs to search in a different direction for truth.  It most certainly does not make one a bad scientist or a bad mathematician.  Similarly, what is wrong about believing that someone believes something factually incorrect?  I myself know many people who believe things which I believe or know are wrong, and what of it?  These people are not idiots or evil.  We can even discuss our different belief systems with respect for each other, maybe even learn something from each other.  This is what tolerance is supposed to be about:  not abandoning notions of “right” and “wrong”, but rather respecting differences in belief.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is the drop bear. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Monday, January 28, 2008

21 Shevaṭ 5768: National Kazoo Day/Rattle Snake Round-Up Day/Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary, some of which Barry is responsible for:Today’s weird thing is the “Dead People Server”. Enjoy and share the weirdness with the kazoo-playing, bubble wrap-popping rattlesnake in your life.

Aaron

Friday, January 25, 2008

18 Shevaṭ 5768: Burns Night/Opposite Day/Winter-een-mas

Greetings.

Worthy cause of the day: “Tell the Top Reporters to Stop Ignoring the Top Issue”. Please sign and tell reporters to pay more attention to global warming in the presidential election. Thank you.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is Old Computers - rare, vintage, and obsolete computers, which will amaze you on just how far personal computers have come in the past 38 years. (And I fully expect my grandchildren not to believe that my first computer had 4 MB of RAM, a 512×348 black-and-white screen, no internal hard drive, and ran at a sluggish 8 MHz. They probably will not believe that I grew up without direct brain-computer interfaces either.) Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.

Aaron

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

16 Shevaṭ 5768: Measure Your Feet Day/National Handwriting Day

Greetings.

Worthy cause of the day: “A Progressive Economy”. Please sign and tell your Congresspeople that the wealthy do not need yet another tax cut.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is The Kafka Project, dedicated to the celebrated weird author Franz Kafka. Enjoy and share the weirdness with anyone who upon waking up from anxious dreams has discovered that in bed he has been changed into a monstrous verminous bug.

Aaron

PS: If you have no clue what the joke is, please see the opening sentence of The Metamorphosis.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

15 Shevaṭ 5768: Jewish New Year for Plants/National Blonde Brownie Day/Answer Your Cat’s Question Day

Greetings.

Divine misconception of the day: “Force strong for new Jedi church”. I have no clue what these people are thinking. Star Wars is unabashed fiction. Religions are supposed to be the truth, so using pure fiction as the basis for a religion is not valid. There is not even a hint in this article of these Jedi realists giving any proof that the Force is real. The reader may take it as obvious that lightsabers do not exist. Scarily, the UK Church of the Jedi is not the only example of a fictional religion making the jump to real religion; Bokononism, Matrixism, Thelema, the Church of All Worlds, the Cthulhu Mythos, and Orange Catholicism have made the jump to various degrees. Similarly, some religions started as excuses (Reformed Druids) or jokes (Discordianism), only to end up as serious. Fair to say none of these are any more valid.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is Su Blackwell’s book-cut sculpture. Enjoy, share the weirdness, and happy new years.

Aaron

Monday, January 21, 2008

14 Shevaṭ 5768: National Hugging Day/Granola Bar Day/Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Greetings.

Divine misconception of the day: “Government renames Islamic terrorism as 'anti-Islamic activity' to woo Muslims”. One of the most common logical fallacies I have encountered is redefinition—changing the meanings of words from their accepted meanings, frequently deceptively or delusionally—and deciding to call Islamic terrorism is one of the most blatant perpetrations of this fallacy for two reasons, which due to how disgusted I feel about this grievous metatransgression are written deliberately in capital letters: 1) THE GUILTY PARTY IS REDEFINING SOMEONE ELSE’S RELIGION. There is no regard being paid to what Islamic tradition has to say about terrorism whatsoever, no scholarship, just reference to anonymous "Muslims in the UK and across the world”. These people being used as a source could be anyone—clergy, laypeople, even the nonreligious and outright apostates. They could be ignorant as to what Islam has to say on terrorism or lying for all we know. (Ever hear of taqiyya? Lying in the name of Islam is well-documented.) Islam in any historical sense of the term is defined by the Qur’an and Hadith, and thus any proper determination of what is and is not Islam must refer back to these. Rather the UK government is saying “Some Muslims say something we like, therefore it is necessarily what Islam holds.” This is conclusion-jumping, and it is forbidden according to the rules of logic. For comparison: the fact that individual Catholics approve of divorce and abortion does not mean that Catholicism approves of divorce or abortion, and it is not legitimate for secular or non-Catholic institutions to insist that Catholicism approves of divorce and abortion, and it is ridiculous for such institutions to expect Catholics will follow through in approving and practicing divorce and abortion.  2)  THE GUILTY PARTY IS DELIBERATELY OBSCURING THE FACT THAT WHAT THEY ARE TRYING TO WORK AGAINST IS TERRORISM.  “Activity” is a very general term.  Practically anything that people do is an “activity”.  The UK government is not working against Muslims trying to do anything whatsoever.  There are trying to stop the much more specific set of actions referred to as “terrorism”.  The resulting term, “un-Islamic activities”, is about as badly chosen for what the UK government is trying to stop as possible.  Ask yourself what any normal person is going to think when they see the term “un-Islamic activities”.  The answer is going to be in terms of “eating pork”, “not fasting during Ramadan”, and “criticizing Muhammad”—things which it is none of the business for any government to stop anywhere freedom of religion is guaranteed.  They are not going to think of terrorism, which is the government’s duty to stop anywhere life and liberty of are guaranteed.  (Do note that a lot of the terrorism committed today is done by Muslims in the name of Islam.)  Frankly, the UK government is just sowing confusion and making themselves look stupid.

Today’s news and commentary, some of which Barry is responsible for:Today’s weird thing is some odd wallpaper. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Sunday, January 20, 2008

13 Shevaṭ 5768: Basketball Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary, much of which Barry is responsible for:Today’s weird thing is the tongue-in-cheek Church of Google. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

9 Shevaṭ 5768: National Nothing Day/Appreciate a Dragon Day

Greetings.

Worthy cause of the day: “Ask the candidates about the climate crisis”. Please sign and get the presidential candidates to talk about this important issue.

Divine misconception of the day: “Huckabee: Amend Constitution to be in 'God's standards'”. Let us put aside the fact that this proposal is unlikely to go anywhere, as it goes flat out against the long-standing practice in this country of secular democracy (secular in the sense that no religion is supposed to be given an advantage over any other). The major question that must be asked about Huckabee’s proposal is what God’s standards are. Huckabee is not a prophet; as such, direct communication with any deity of standards can be ruled out. That means Huckabee has to rely on a tradition and interpretation, and this is where things get hairy. Huckabee is a Baptist, which if I remember correctly are a group which has attempted to restore original New Testament Christianity; this implies a break with Protestant tradition. Protestantism is itself a break with Catholic tradition. Catholic tradition is a continuation of early Christian tradition, which unambiguously broke with Jewish tradition at the First Council of Nicaea and had developed into various shades of questionable belief and heresy before then. (Note that the Gospels are not complimentary of Jews, especially the Pharisees, back to whom Orthodox Jews trace a documented, uninterrupted chain of tradition. Whatever the original form of the Gospels, the versions that have come down to us are not continuations of Jewish tradition; they are rather a rejection of it.) Huckabee therefore has multiple breaks with any continuous line of tradition between himself and primordial Christianity and Second Temple Judaism. He is therefore relying on interpretation rather than an actual tradition (in the original sense of something handed down). Some quick searches on the Internet did not find any evidence of Huckabee knowing Hebrew or Greek, so he is most likely interpreting the Hebrew Bible and New Testament through a layer of translation—a bad idea for anyone trying to know the precise meaning of a text since one has to rely on someone else’s interpretation. Huckabee is handicapped as an interpreter of Biblical texts; he is not the best person to be rewriting the Constitution in line with the standards of the God of Israel or Jesus of Nazareth.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “Lanthanum Quits Periodic Table Of Elements”. Enjoy and share the weirdness with the dragon you appreciate.

Aaron

Friday, January 11, 2008

4 Shevaṭ 5768: National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day/International Thank You Day/Cuckoo Dancing Week/“Designated Hitter” Day

Greetings.

Worthy cause of the day: “24 Helicopters, that's all”. I am not holding my breath, but it does not hurt to try.

Today’s news and commentary, some of which Barry is responsible for:Today’s weird thing is something silly from Emily’s collection, included below. Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.

Aaron



Two robins were sitting in a tree. “I’m really
hungry,” said the first one.

“Me, too,” said the second. “Let’s fly down and find
some lunch.”

They flew down to the ground and found a nice plot of
newly plowed ground that was just full of worms. They
ate and ate and ate until they could eat no more.

“I’m so full I don’t think I can fly back up into the
tree,” said the first one.

“Me neither. Let’s just lay back here and bask in the
warm sun,” said the second.

“O.K.,” said the first. So they plopped down, basking
in the sun.

No sooner than they had fallen asleep, when a big fat
tom cat snuck up and gobbled them up. As the cat sat
washing his face after his meal, he thought ...


Ready?...



Are you sure?



This is a real groaner.



Don’t say I didn’t warn you.




“I just love baskin’ robins.”

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

2 Shevaṭ 5768: National Static Electricity Day/Islamic New Year

Greetings.

Worthy cause of the day: “Paper ballots for the 2008 election”. Please sign and demand that all voting be verifiable!

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is a poem from Emily’s collection, included below. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron



We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes;
but the plural of ox became oxen not oxes.

One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice;
yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?

If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet,
and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
and the plural of cat is cats, and not cose.

We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
but though we say mother, we never say methren.

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
but imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.

One has to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house
can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out
and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

1 Shevaṭ 5768: Ro’sh Ḥodhesh/World Literacy Day/Postal Day/Show and Tell Day at Work

Greetings.

Worthy cause of the day: “Paper ballots for the 2008 election”. Please sign and tell Congress to say “no” to tampering-prone voting machines!

Useful site of the day: Stop Political Phone Calls

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is the artwork of Chris Gilmour, which is made out of cardboard. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Monday, January 7, 2008

29 Ṭeveth 5768: Old Rock Day/National Thank God Its Monday Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:For better or worse (probably worse), election season is upon us. Today’s weird things are the sites of an unconventional third party candidate: “Cthulhu For President: The Dawning of a New Era” and “The Elder Party”. Enjoy (or be scared) and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

23 Ṭeveth 5768: Gregorian New Year’s Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is something weird from Emily’s collection which is apparently marriage advice from kids. WARNING: I make no guarantees about the accuracy or wisdom of said advice. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron



HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHOM TO MARRY?

You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
*Alan, age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with.
*Kirsten, age 10


WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?

Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
*Camille, age 10

No age is good to get married at. You got to be a fool to get married.
*Freddie, age 6


HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
*Derrick, age 8


WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?

Both don’t want any more kids.
*Lori, age 8


WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?

Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
*Lynnette, age 8

On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
*Martin, age 10


WHAT WOULD YOU DO ON A FIRST DATE THAT WAS TURNING SOUR?

I’d run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns.
*Craig, age 9


WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?

When they’re rich.
*Pam, age 7

The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn’t want to mess with that.
*Curt, age 7

The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It’s the right thing to do.
*Howard, age 8


IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?

I don’t know which is better, but I’ll tell you one thing. I’m never going to have sex with my wife. I don’t want to be all grossed out.
*Theodore, age 8

It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
*Anita, age 9


HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN’T GET MARRIED?

There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn’t there?
*Kelvin, age 8



“And the #1 Favorite is...”

HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?

Tell your wife that she looks pretty even if she looks like a truck.
*Ricky, age 10