World Domination Update
“Lost in Otter Space”
vol. VI, iss. v
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness”
Quote of the Moment: “The reason my violin always sounds out of
tune is because with a fretless instrument, the Doppler Effect causes the sound
to change between what I hear and what the audience hears.” — Lady Die
Secret Word of the Day: Tautology
Site of the Week: The Many Faces of Michael Jackson
Barbecue Sauce of the Month: Cactus Jack’s Tonsil-tinglin’ medium Acidic
In this issue:· Entertainmentality
· saint’s sermon
· Secrets of the Universe
· Ask Evil Matt
· Hedgehog Porn
Well, we’re exactly a year into the (official) War Against Terrorism, so it’s time to take stock of the situation and see where we stand in this vast morass.
The chief villain, Osama Bin Laden, is still , as is his Taliban henchman, former Afghan major domo Mullah Omar. Al Qaida is still in business, and its ability to stand up to The Great Satan all but unscathed continues to get it supporters and new recruits. Also, Baghdad is still a big bankroller behind the scenes, and Dubya’s plan to topple Saddam keeps hitting hard walls in that every time Bush makes an overt gesture to invade Iraq, Hussein simply sends another slew of suicide bombers into Israel to distract everyone from the Iraqi issue.
In other words, we haven’t really done squat except to look moderately incompetent and get a bunch of innocent bystanders killed. Granted, we managed to topple Afghanistan, but it was mostly Northern Alliance forces who did so, and I think this accounts for the majority of Taliban/Al Qaida forces slipping away.
Bush was actually correct (for once!) in calling this “a new kind of war,” in that taking on a fungible organization (as opposed to a sovereign nation with defined borders and government infrastructure) is a trying task at best. Still, I think most will agree: we had our best shot back in Tora Bora Afghanistan last December, and we blew it.
Although our armed forces are largely at fault en masse in that, Bush, as Commander in Chief, should bear the lion’s share of this Blame Game. I will be generous and grade his (military) performance as mediocre at best.
Of course, conspiracy theorists to the right of even my paranoid mind will—indeed are—saying that this was largely his plan all along. Not that I necessarily agree with that, but they do make a good case, even if they are confusing intention with end result. First, he learned a lesson from his dad: wrap a war up too quickly, and the attention-deficit masses quickly forget this and you can still lose re-election. More to the point, a protracted war helps set up a (Brain) Police State, robbing us of our Civil Rights, and conveniently distracting everyone from the economic mashuguna we’re in.
Bush’s Big Daddy actually bears the brunt of that blame burden, of course, as it was his administration ten years ago that did the most deregulation of Big Business, allowing them to cook books freely without the government looking over their shoulder. And, of course, we also have Bush Senior to thank for allowing Hussein to remain in power even after handing him his ass on a platter during Desert Storm, inheriting the problem we now face.
This just goes to show that incompetence is apparently a genetic trait.
...in other news...
The Latest from Waco
In mid August, President Bush held an economic summit in Waco designed to instill confidence in American investors as to the financial fiasco running amok among us.
Since our economy is close to a crash and burn, it seems fitting that GWB chose Waco for his summit.
Afterwards, Bush commented of his conference was “a good show.” This was certainly true: it was a good show. In fact, all it was was a show, designed to give the impression that he is doing something about the sorry state of affairs. And hopefully distract people from the fact that he and his V.P. have direct ties to several of the corporations crashing in book-cooking scandals.
Florida continues its electile
dysfunction with Primary Incompetence. Last time, it was elderlies confused
with punch-ballots; now they were befuddled by touch-sensitive screens.
Granted, a large chunk of the g.u.i. ballots didn’t
work anyway, but many of the voter aides weren’t trained properly in
using them, or just didn’t bother to show up at the polls to instruct the geritol
generation on complex instructions like “touch
the screen appropriately for who you want to vote for.” Still, Branch Floridians can at
least take comfort that Janet Reno lost her bid to become the gubernatorial
candidate for that state. Otherwise, it would have been Reno vs. Bush
on the ballot. Personally, if I hadn’t
already migrated to BadAss, Arizona, I would pack my bags and do so if presented
with a choice like that in November. reader feedback
Florida continues its electile dysfunction with Primary Incompetence. Last time, it was elderlies confused with punch-ballots; now they were befuddled by touch-sensitive screens. Granted, a large chunk of the g.u.i. ballots didn’t work anyway, but many of the voter aides weren’t trained properly in using them, or just didn’t bother to show up at the polls to instruct the geritol generation on complex instructions like “touch the screen appropriately for who you want to vote for.”
Still, Branch Floridians can at least take comfort that Janet Reno lost her bid to become the gubernatorial candidate for that state. Otherwise, it would have been Reno vs. Bush on the ballot. Personally, if I hadn’t already migrated to BadAss, Arizona, I would pack my bags and do so if presented with a choice like that in November.
Yo. As always, I dig the updates, but
have a couple of comments:
1) Isn't it Eisenhower on the dime, and not Roosevelt? That's why he's bald. Not that one's any better than the other...
2) I'm not sure I filled you in on this at the time, but when I was living in Athens, there was this lady who lived on a farm just outside of Conyers, GA (a suburb of Atlanta, just 50 miles from Athens) who claimed that the Virgin Mary visisted her on the 13th of each month, and gave her messages for the world. After a few months, literally thousands of people were trampling her farm on the 13th of each month, many of them having taken bus tours to get there, waiting to see the VM and hear the messages. Good journalist that I was, one 13th, I trekked down there to see everything for myself. It was quite a sight. Really, thousands of people in lawn chairs surrounding this little farm house, busses lined up and parked on the grass, everyone sweating in the August heat (I remember one hispanic family pouring cups of water on a baby that was suffering from the heat), nuns and priests everywhere. The vision lady stayed in her farm house with a few priests, and when she announced that the VM was near (a priest made this announcement over a loud speaker to the folks outside) they all started singing the 'Fatima Song' (a song about the Fatima 3 with what must have been 100 verses—it went on forever, but all I remember is the 'Fatima, Fatima' chorus). Finally, they all started looking up at the sun, and people called out that they could see the VM (or her presence anyways) coming earthward. Some people took pictures, and showed them to me: polaroids of the sun with weird rays (I tried explaining, as a photographer, that taking pictures of the sun without a filter results in streaks and spots, as most people know, but they were convinced the pics were of the VM). Finally, the Vision Lady made her announcement of what the VM had announced to her: a long, rambling speech about how the world is corrupt and people aren't taking care of each other, but they should for the end is near--your basic VM message, I would think. After a long day, I drove back to Athens, and counted at least 5 little roadside stands and shops that sold Virgin Mary memorabilia. I stopped at one and bought a 'VM in Conyers' pin--I think it's in our guest room. Anyhow, your article on the Fatima prophesies brought all these memories back. Incidentally, the Vision Lady announced about 6 months after I visited that the VM had told her she'd stop coming after the following month, so I'm guessing she gave up.
I double-checked, and yes, that is indeed FDR on the dime, not Ike, who is on pre-Susan B. Anthony dollar coins. FDR replaced Mercury in 1946, the year after he died. (FDR, not Mercury.) The choice of the dime for him was somewhat appropriate, as FDR initiated the “March of Dimes” to fight polio, the disease which crippled him. Coincidentally—or not—they stopped making dimes out of silver shortly thereafter; given the horror of FDR’s New Deal, it seemed fitting to change the metal to an essentially worthless one (a copper/nickel alloy) in his honor...
I remember Conyers, and La Flambeau and I actually did a drive-through there back in ’92 while on the way to root around Atlanta. Conyers has the highest Virgin Mary Visitation rate in America, and contemporary with our drive-thru, the current rage was a claim that Jesus’s face appeared in a bowl of spaghetti on a Pizza Hut billboard. Unfortunately, La Flambeau didn’t feel like driving around to find it.
In recent years, the Virgin Mary seemed to be spending quite a good deal of time in Bayside, New York, appearing regularly to housewife Veronica Leuken. Despite Mrs. Leuken’s espousal of an ultra-conservative Catholicism even more extreme than the infamous Archbishop Lefebvre, the Archdiocese of New York officially disavowed her experiences in 1986, saying they “lack authenticity.” Despite this, Mary continued to visit, and even be channeled in on request. Among oracles passed on via Mrs. Leuken are that God is greatly upset that the Catholic Mass is no longer in Latin (and is planning plagues if this is not rectified,) UFOs are actually demons who sexually molest children, and that AIDS was specifically engineered by Jesus himself as punishment for homosexuals (and as it is a Divine Virus, mankind will never find a cure for it.) Alas, Mrs. Leuken died in 1995, effectively stopping visitations, unless you wish to think of it as it is now Mrs. Leuken who is visiting the Virgin Mary instead of the other way around. Still, a handful of followers continue to maintain a website devoted to the subject.
Nice Update, as always. I was really surprised at your not ranting about the baseball all-star game, though. Seeing as how you hate sports, it was right up your alley. The game got called a tie because both sides were out of pitchers, and no one had the cajones to step up and say 'put me on the mound, coach!" The last pitcher, Padilla, threw a whopping 25 pitches, and then decided he was too tired to continue. I guess steroids don't increase endurance. The decision to call the game proof that it's not about fans any more.
Good call. The 1961 All-Star game was declared a tie in the 9th inning due to rain, which I can see, but ending it in a stalemate as they did merely because they didn’t have any players with stamina is, as you say, just plain dumb, and yet another proof that Sports are Bullshit. Then again, the nearly-averted strike proved that, as if more proof were needed at this point, and I think its safe to say that the main reason the players caved was the realization of the degree of outrage among the fans. With a median income of a million apiece, the average player earns in one year more than any of us will see in a lifetime, yet they still didn’t think they made enough. I was delighted at the negative backlash at this, for finally some fans began to open their eyes to the con going on. Alas, with games under way again, the fans have re-greased their butts and bent over once more...
I think you're right about the Gemstone File being a brain tumor by-product. The "liver" motif is a bit much. Besides, where are the fava beans and nice chianti?
I agree. But perhaps we now know what the Black Sabbath song ‘Zero the Hero’ is really about: “Never ever gonna get down there, with the heroes sitting by the river with the magic in their music as they eat raw liver.”
As Evil Matt once opined, “Chop that rock a little more, guys, you’re not quite there yet.”
Barbecue Sauce with a Bang?!?
Smith & Wesson is now making their own barbecue sauce.
Yeah, I wouldn’t have believed it either, but here’s part of an actual article from the August 2nd Arizona Republic.
So far, saint and I have been unable to track any down to try some, but if we can (and it’s any good,) we’ll be sure to post it on the “Barbecue Sauce of the Month” section at the top of the next Update.
Makes ya wonder what varieties they have — like instead of Hickory Smoke, it’s Gunsmoke. Or they could also put in some of that “bean-o” stuff in (the liquid that prevents farting from eating beans) and call it “the silencer.”
I also wonder if there’s a seven day waiting period before you can buy some. And what about a background check?
“Sorry, son, but we can’t let you have this. Our records show you really burned some ribs at a cookout back in 1997...”
Countdown to the Second Coming
Bruddah Max passed this my way: a “rapture watch” that helps you to count down the time until the Christ’s return.
You’ll notice the absence of 1 through 12 markers for tracking specific time; I guess this is in keeping with Matthew 24:36’s “No man knows the hour...”Available in men’s and women’s styles; lemmings can click here to get one.
It’s no secret to Branch Floridians that the Brain Police have been behind the “entertainment” industry since its inception. Hell, who do you think started it? I see the Orwell approach here—Big Brother also ran the Underground, so of course the Brain Police would get in on the ground floor to determine what passes for entertainment among the masses. The proof of the pudding is the low quality of the crap that gets churned out. Unfortunately, most people still gulp down that wretched pudding and even ask for a second serving.
Now normally I would avoid a rant on this subject as being too “obvious,” but time and again I keep meeting people (non-B.F.ers, of course) who haven’t put two and two together yet. Even then, the few marginally enlightened gentiles who have an inkling of the con being fostered on them mistakenly dismiss the bilge being passed off as merely corporate greed.
Not so! The Brain Police have cunningly, calculatedly crafted that as camouflage to conceal their real agenda: the numbing of your mind.
Specifically, their goals are the castration of the creative element and (especially) the reduction of the average attention span. The end results of such a pogrom are obvious: with no creativity, people become complacent and are unable to think of unorthodox ways to overthrow or reform the system. With no attention span, these same lemmings quickly forget how bad the bullshit being dumped on them really is.
The three most obvious examples of this conspiracy are television, movies, and music.
I’ll specifically skip books, by the way, even though I as a writer feel especially qualified to comment on it. However, I will make two generalized comments that should suffice to prove my point. First, because of the B.P. activity in movies and television, people just don’t read any more. It’s that attention span thing I mentioned: most books take at least a couple of days to get through, which the attention-deficit lemmings seem increasingly unwilling to invest: why read for a couple of days when a movie accomplishes the same thing in a few hours? Worse in that aspect, books require some imagination on the part of the reader. No matter how much description is written by the author, it is still up to the reader to form a mental image of those words. Different readers get different things out of this, but visual products (movies and television) remove that personal experience by forcing the director’s vision upon us. Second, the “popular” books today are pulp crap designed for minimal mental stimulation. Fortunately we no longer have Oprah around to pummel us with her opinion on what “good” literature is (that is, after someone has explained the book to her) but even then, here’s a revealing fact. A relatively recent survey asked a fairly broad spectrum of the American population “what book has had the most influence on your life?” Not surprisingly, The Bible won hands down, but the second and third were the horrific monstrosities Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, both by my “literary” arch nemesis Ayn Rand. Number Four, by the way, was Dianetics by hack sci-fi writer turned self-help guru L. Ron Hubbard.
Good, let’s analyze the “popular” stuff.
Television. When it comes to the death of the attention span, this one-eyed monster has had more influence than anything else. Television has been raising our kids since the ’50s, and we increasingly see the negative effects. Based on the predictable pattern of the typical t.v. show, we now have a society that expects everything (including “real life”) to have a tidy wrap-up with a happy ending in a span of thirty to sixty minutes—the lengths of the average shows. How’s that for “cultural programming”? The overwhelming majority of shows out there are clichéd and predictable, tautological variations on one of maybe four themes, and the only reason I can see for their popularity is the painful lack of any alternative programming that offers up meaningful content. Pink Floyd said it best: “I got thirteen channels of shit on the t.v. to choose from.” The increasing popularity of “reality shows” can only be the death knell of the creative process. These shows are perfect network fodder: dirt cheap to produce, and no scripts are required—just get some mismatched idiots in an enclosed environment, and (in theory) the show writes itself.
I actually have a neat idea for a reality show: “MacGyver Island” (hosted by Richard Dean Anderson, of course.) Contestants are put on a remote island with nothing but a Swiss army knife, some bubble gum, and a map of the currents; they have to build a contraption (with no less than ten moving parts) to get off the island first. Or they can also sabotage each others efforts. But back to shade...
Even among “educational” programming we have a drastic lack of education. The worst offender in this respect is the (alleged) History Channel. Much of what is on there is thinly-disguised militaristic propaganda; a recent show on “Modern Marvels” was merely Defense Department advertisement for how cool the M-1 Abrams tank is. Even then, that network should be more appropriately called The World War II Channel, as documentaries on various facets of that admittedly major period of the 20th century comprise the bulk of its programming.
saint’s second aside
Although I again I agree with shade here, I kind of like the History Channel, though I am tired of the jingoistic military propaganda that makes up the majority of its programming. Still, I have come to an unorthodox conclusion about World War 2 from all this. From all the shows I’ve seen, there’s literally a ton of propaganda footage of Hitler at meetings and rallies, plus various lackeys polishing his boots or such. Basically trivial stuff, and it’s all on film. The vast quantity of this film suggests that there was a huge camera corps documenting all this, plus developing, cataloguing, and archiving it. At least a battalion’s worth of men. These people could have been of much more use on the front line rather than filming Goebbels having breakfast. But I digress, so again back to shade...
The increasing popularity of commercials clinches the conspiracy. I actually know people (hello, Sisbooomba!) that actually talk over the program but shut up to watch the ads! Ads are designed to sell you things, so ultimately viewers are “buying” into this consumeristic mentality, all the while being limited to a focus of fewer than thirty seconds. Ads are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from music videos, but that’s getting ahead of myself—see below in the music rant.
Movies. Here we truly see the death of the creative element. Most movies these days are either sequels or cannibalizations (ie: remakes) of previous ideas, usually a t.v. show that no one watched or books that no one read. There’s very little originality coming out of Hollywood these days. Even “good” films suffer from this: although A Beautiful Mind was an excellent movie, it was not “original” but a true story (a biography of schizophrenic Nobel-laureate John Nash.) Although it had good content, it was technically nothing new. Movies today (hell, for the past 20 years) have become vehicles for special effects and mindless violence, with very little to challenge the viewer and provoke them to think for themselves. There is a very subtle effect behind all this: don’t expect the unexpected, but get used to redundancy. The outcome is that people are afraid to try new things, but stick with the comfort of the familiar.
If one force is phuqing up society these days, it’s music, for here we have the
synthesis of the previous two problems: short attention span and lack of
creativity. I tend to think of 1993 as the Year Music Died, as that was
when Frank Zappa passed on. I have heard very little originality since
then, and almost none of that has been good. Hell, I’ve heard very little originality since the mid
’80s, but the ’90s are when things went truly down-hill, with Nirvana and Soul Coughing being
the last “new” sounds to come along. Here in the 21st
are mired in a marsh of redundancy and uninspired bilge. If I could sum up
the death of modern music in one word, it would be “rap.” In a
has ruined music. Hip Hop dominates music; it’s the second-most
popular form out there, and much of the rest is crossover incorporating hip-hop
elements. I’m hesitant to even call it “music,” as “structured noise” seems
more appropriate. There is very little creativity in it: they don’t even
write the tunes, but instead steal (aka “sample”) someone else’s composition
and merely babble over it. The stolen music is monotonously looped in a
one-measure pattern. With that attention-deficit thing, I can only assume
that if anything went on for more than one measure, the listeners would get confused
and think a new song had started. There are no instruments in rap, with
the exception of the deejay doing scratching (with someone else’s records, of
course,) so creativity is truly plunged to its nadir here. The only thing
worse than the music is the accompanying lifestyle. I find it amusingly
ironic that in order for rich suburban white boys to look like they come from
the hip hop ’hood they have to spend several hundred dollars at Urban Outfitters.
All the bravado bullshit baggage that accompanies it is pretension at its highest.
Look at Eminem, flashing gang signs and going “Yo! Whuzzup homey?!?” I’d
like to put him in Cabrini Green or Harlem Avenue at 3 in the morning and see
how far that gets him. And don’t even get me started on Ebonics.
Anyway, before I stray too far
off topic, I’d like to close with an anecdote that epitomizes the death of creativity
in modern music. Obviously, there is some good, original music
out there, but almost none of it reaches the masses. A kindred spirit
(Scott Fiend) plays bass in a local band in Phoenix, and was recently in a “Battle
of the Bands” to get a record deal with a local label. At the end, he
was told that his band had the most talent, but there sound was a little
too original: the guy wanted something cookie-cuttered in a recognizable
format that could be handed to a radio station with “here, play this in your
With a mentality like that, it’s
no wonder that people have become conditioned to expect only the expected.
In that spirit, I am reminded of
a line from the Unibomber
Manifesto, which I appreciate but dare not endorse:
Anyway, before I stray too far off topic, I’d like to close with an anecdote that epitomizes the death of creativity in modern music. Obviously, there is some good, original music out there, but almost none of it reaches the masses. A kindred spirit (Scott Fiend) plays bass in a local band in Phoenix, and was recently in a “Battle of the Bands” to get a record deal with a local label. At the end, he was told that his band had the most talent, but there sound was a little too original: the guy wanted something cookie-cuttered in a recognizable format that could be handed to a radio station with “here, play this in your ‘rock’ segment.”
With a mentality like that, it’s no wonder that people have become conditioned to expect only the expected.
In that spirit, I am reminded of a line from the Unibomber Manifesto, which I appreciate but dare not endorse:
The mass media are mostly under the control of large organizations that are integrated into the system. Anyone who has a little money can have something printed, or can distribute it on the Internet or in some such way, but what he has to say will be swamped by the vast volume of material put out by the media, hence it will have no practical effect. To make an impression on society with words is therefore almost impossible for most individuals and small groups. Take us (FC) for example. If we had never done anything violent and had submitted the present writings to a publisher, they probably would not have been accepted. If they had been accepted and published, they probably would not have attracted many readers, because it's more fun to watch the entertainment put out by the media than to read a sober essay. Even if these writings had had many readers, most of these readers would soon have forgotten what they had read as their minds were flooded by the mass of material to which the media expose them. In order to get our message before the public with some chance of making a lasting impression, we've had to kill people.
by (well, duh!)
1) Context Check
With little argument, the Ten Commandments are the most well known and influential corpus of laws on Earth. Three of the major religions in the world (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) all acknowledge the import and influence of the Commandments, and (ideally) do their dandiest to uphold and follow them.
Technically, the Ten are a part of a broader spectrum: there are actually 716 Commandments, spread (with much redundancy) across Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Aside from the Ten famous ones, there are some other well-known Commandments, such as don’t eat pork (Leviticus 11:7) and circumcise your sons (Leviticus 12:3); plus some downright obscure ones: don’t interbreed cattle (Leviticus 19:19) and menstruating women are impure and thus must be separated from the community (Leviticus 15:19-24).
While most people focus on the Top Ten, the New Testament says that all the Laws are important, and if you break one you’ve broken them all. (James 2:10 — Intrigued readers are referred to my sermon on this.) Still, there is little argument that even if all 716 Commandments are important, the most important among them are the first Ten. And with good reason. I don’t think anyone would deny that if everybody actually followed just these Ten Laws, the world would be a better place.
Unfortunately that’s not the case anyway, but even among people who do strive to uphold them, there seems to be a lot of leeway in interpretation over just what those 10 Laws mean. An obvious example is the Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11, essentially “keep the Sabbath.”) Although there is no question that the Sabbath is Saturday, most Christians observe it on Sunday, thus brazenly violating it. A slightly more obscure semantical example of this is the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13) The problem here is just what the Hebrew word (retzach) means. By way of comparison, in English there are over a dozen words expressing distinct modes of “killing”: suicide, euthanasia, and execution are all types of killing, but are vastly different in nuance. So too with retzach. In modern Hebrew, retzach means “murder,” but unfortunately “murder,” like “insanity,” is more of a legal term than a social one whose meaning even in a courtroom can get fuzzy. God obviously had no problem with Hebrews killing certain people: David killed Goliath, Samson killed a thousand Philistines, etc. All these people enjoyed God’s blessing even after killing. Also, many of those 716 commandments themselves carry the death penalty if they are broken: adultery (Leviticus 20:10), working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2) etc. all require transgressors to be stoned to death. So I suggest that the better translation of retzach is “kill without The Lord’s approval” —obviously not a literal translation, but that seems to be the spirit of it. Unfortunately, many people think they have the Lord’s approval when they go commit what is otherwise considered homicide; this applies to Christian fundamentalists who blow up abortion clinics and Islamic extremists who crash jumbo jets into World Trade Centers. Others, such as the Amish, hedge their bet by striving not to kill anyone, regardless of circumstances.
So you can see, even if the Commandments are literally set in stone, followers strive—often at absurd lengths—to find wiggle room within the words to best fit their needs or agendas.
And probably the most brazen case of this is the .
You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down and serve them, for I YHWH your God am a jealous God.
Oversimplified, this has passed down in Sunday School as “Thou shalt not worship idols.”
Unfortunately, that’s the problem: people only know the oversimplified version of this (if they even know it at all) and are unfamiliar with the actual wording here. Because of that, this is probably the most broken Commandment there is.
Some quick semantics: “graven image” refers to a stone statue carving (as in “engraved”), but the concept is expanded in Ex. 20:23 to include gold and silver idols of gods—which are “molten.” Although not specifically mentioned to my knowledge, idols constructed in other mediums of the day (iron, wood, clay) would have fallen under the same forbidden category, and doubtless modern items (plastic, rubber, play-doh) would, too. It is curious to notice that drawings and paintings of are not mentioned. Whether these were exempt, or would have been considered part of the broader spectrum of verboten is, well, sketchy, though I suspect if they were okay, there would be a comment saying so. Idols of animals etc. are prohibited in Deut. 4:16-18, 23, 28. Here it gets a bit murky: although not specifically stated, most interpret this with an implication: the understanding that these are not to be worshiped; apparently it’s okay to make a small statue of your favorite cat as a memento, just don’t bow down to it. However, that interpretation is just that: an opinion. Several extreme sects of Islam take it at face value, and even include photographs on their banned list.
Where almost everyone falls astray in following this commandment is a failure to realize that the injunction prohibits idols to “false” gods AND the “real” one! Consider the wording:
You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above...
God is in Heaven, of course. So are angels. So are the saints. And so is Jesus.
However, look around: graven images of all of the above abound. This is both true in the modern world, and the ancient one. Let’s do a quick historical survey.
Ironically, the Jews themselves broke this law with the design of the very vessel that carried the Commandments: the Ark of the Covenant. Per Ex. 25:18-20, on the lid of the Ark were two golden Cherubs facing each other, with wings outspread so the tips touched. Again: angels (of which Cherubim are included as a sub-set) are in heaven, yet here is a molten image of them. The most obvious rebuttal to this would be that if God had a problem with it, he would have done something about it! The outstretched wingspan was literally considered to be God’s throne: it was assumed that The Lord would sit there atop the cherubs while the Ark was in the Holy of Holies in either the Tent of Meeting or later in the Temple of Jerusalem (see Ex. 25:22 and Numbers 7:89.) This feature became known as “the Mercy Seat” due to Martin Luther’s German translation of the applicable passage. Again, we must wonder at the making of golden images of the Heavenly Host in light that this is specifically prohibited. Of course, it was not the Mercy Seat that was worshiped, but Who was understood to have sat upon it, and if YHWH were displeased with this, He wouldn’t have assumed that as His throne.
Christians continue the tradition of making images of things in Heaven, despite the blatant ban on this practice. Behind the altar of every Catholic Church is a crucifix with a suffering Jesus nailed to it. Again, Jesus is in Heaven, if the Bible is to be believed, so this is a violation of the Commandment. Protestants, incidentally, usually have a barren cross as a backdrop, preferring to emphasize the risen Christ as opposed to the suffering. But lest ye think I merely pick on Catholics, lets look at other Christian denominations. Atop the highest spire of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City is a golden statue of the angel Moroni. Making images of angels, of course, is specifically singled out in the Exodus passage. Greek Orthodox churches are filled with statues and icons of not only angels but various saints and other Heavenly Host.
This saint veneration, especially in iconic form, is perhaps the greatest violation of the Second Commandment. The practice is largely limited to Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy, though a few other, smaller denominations (eg: Armenian Orthodoxy) practice it as well. Let’s look at it for a second.
There was a time when almost every Catholic motorist had either a little medallion or plastic statue of Saint Christopher in his car, believing that since Christopher had been appointed ‘patron saint of travelers’ that this would protect them from motorway harm. Many would even pray to Saint Christopher to protect their cars. Granted, Christopher (as of 1969) is no longer a saint, when the Catholic Church was forced to admit that not only was the story absurd, but blatantly plagiarized from a pre-BC Slavic myth. Still, there are other examples. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest bout of hiccups (70 years!) was cured with a prayer to Saint Jude (patron of hopeless causes.)
The immediate reply given by practitioners of this is that it is not the saint who performs the miracle (safe travel, hiccup cure, etc) but Jesus; saints are merely the intermediary. But if that’s the case, then why pray to the saint or carry an idol of him/her in the first place?
The second reply to this is that it is not an idol per sé but a metaphorical representation of that person. This too falls through as bullshit when we realize that ancient idols were also understood to be metaphors for the gods they represented. There were some notable exceptions to this, but on the whole, each village’s idol of Ba’al (for instance) was made by the local village craftsman; it did not appear miraculously nor did it in itself perform tangible miracles. It was understood that this was a metaphor, in the same way present-day icons and such are metaphors for the objects in Heaven.
This is idolatry, pure and simple. Strictly speaking, anyone with a necklace cross with Jesus on it around their neck is an idolater, as they have an image of something in Heaven.
Feel free to comment.
Secrets of the Universe
If you’re like me, then you love overly-complicated crap. Your favorite cars are German (they use twenty intricately interconnected parts where two cogs will do), your favorite author is Faulkner (who writes four paragraphs even though one sentence conveys the same sentiment), and your favorite musician is Yngwie Malmstein (this Swedish Meatball has what Evil Matt describes as “diarrhea of the fingers”: squeezing thirty superfluous notes in when one will suffice.)
If that’s the case, then your idol, like mine, is that soopah geeenius, Wile E. Coyote.
With me so far? Good: here’s something you’ll appreciate.
Bugs suck; especially the biting/stinging kind, right? Some serve a purpose; bees are cool (even if they won’t stop buzzing) but others, like wasps, hornets, and especially yellowjackets are a step short of evil. So what’s a man do?
Well, you could be a lemming and simply go get a bug bomb or a can or Raid... but where’s the fun in that??? Too easy.
You will need...
a piece of fish
something to attach the string to the fish (ie: a hook)
water to fill the above item
some soap or detergent
Now, here’s the plan...
1) fill the bucket with water
2) add a fair amount of detergent to the water
3) suspend the fish above the bucket via the hook and string
You need to make sure you do this up-wind from the nest. Also, get the Hell away from it once it’s in motion.
Wasps, Hornets, and especially yellowjackets seem to love fish. Go figure. Anyway, they will smell the fish, and zip right to it, thinking “dinner is served!”
Yellowjackets are greedy little guys, and will always carve off more than they can carry back to the nest. Said slab of fish will always fall down, because its too heavy to fly back to the nest with.
Normally, the ’jackets would simply carve a smaller piece, eventually whittling it down to something they can carry... but unfortunately (for them) there is a bucket of water directly beneath the fish.
Water is bug bane anyway, but this has detergent in it, which will cause all items hitting it to promptly sink to the bottom. They will be unable to escape, and drown.
Done properly, you have an excellent chance of taking out the entire nest this way.
(This tip was passed on by FallenFire a few years ago. If you use this, it is requested that you pay him one pound of flax as royalties.)
Due to popular demand, an archive of Secrets of the Universe has been created.
Ask Evil Matt
The Evil One fields your queries, as channeled by Sister Ob’dewlla ‘X’.
Q: I am wondering if the person asking about the last word in the English Language was referring to the last word that was INTRODUCED to the English language? What would that be, hmmmm??
A: Interesting perspective, but the question was originally asked verbally by DK to shade as part of a conversation on the subject; shade’s guess was that it was “zygote” but he decided to Ask Evil Matt to be sure. Anyway, per shade, the context of the question was specific: what’s the last word in the Dictionary. As for your variant, I do not think there is a way to tell what the last word introduced was, as evolving slang changes that on an almost daily basis.
Q: hey there evilmatt,
a quick question
who lit the fuse for the big bang?
A: “Science” has yet to definitively answer that question, though a popular theory floating around is that the Big Bang was caused by the final collapse of the previous Universe on itself. In other words, we are in a repeating, infinite cycles, and although our current universe is expanding out, it will eventually contract back in, and when all that mass converges on itself it will “Big Bang” out again. Still, this is just a theory; remember, we’ve known about the Big Bang for less than 100 years, so study in Cosmology is still comparatively infantile. Ask me again in a few hundred years, when we have more information.
Still, saint, with his penchant for mixing Science with Scripture, alternatively offers this answer to your specifically-worded question of “who lit the fuse” — God, when he said “let there be light.” (Genesis 1:3.)
A: Machu Pichu certainly did exist; its ruins were discovered in 1911 by Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham, and can be visited to this day. Hidden high (8,000+ feet) atop a mountain in the Andes of southern Peru, “Machu Pichu” means “Old Peak” in the Quechua dialect. It was built ca. 1470AD by Incan ruler Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui as either a royal estate or possibly a religious monastery; it also served as an astronomical observatory. The mini-city is estimated to have had a population of about 1,200 — most of which was decimated by smallpox brought by the Conquistadors in 1527. Pizarro and his marauding hoard never actually saw the city, though they were vaguely aware of it. Legends of Machu Pichu were frequently confused with those of Coronado, the fabled Incan city of solid gold. I suspect this is what you were thinking of when you asked the question. Scholars and archaeologists are in general agreement that Coronado was a legend started as misinformation/bullshit by the Incas to get the Conquistadors to go away, though a few hopeful treasure hunters continue to scour Chile and Peru in search of it.
Q: Where does the word CANNIBAL come from?
A: Anglicized version of the Spanish, canibal, itself a variant of Caribal, the Spanish name for the Arawak tribe of the West Indies. Conquistadors believed the Arawaks ate human flesh—I have found no evidence that this is actually true—and the term eventually became a catch-all describing anyone who practiced the act.
Q: so, johnny cash was never in prison? it was all media lies? how did u find the truth?
A: Cash was in jail (not prison) for three days in 1965 when he was caught at the Mexican border smuggling speed in his guitar case; otherwise the incident resulted in a suspended sentence and a stiff fine. The idea that “Folsom Prison Blues” is autobiographical is a popular legend, but untrue. However, if you have proof to the contrary, please submit it and I will humbly print an errata.
Q: What can you tell me about the Doppler Effect?
A: Named for its discoverer (Christian Doppler) in 1842, the Doppler Effect is the shift in frequency of a sound particle in relation to a moving object. Example: the pitch of a car horn from a car in the other lane as it passes by: it seems to rise as it approaches and drop as it moves further away. The actual formula is this:
where:f ´ = the perceived frequency
f0 = the actual frequency
v = the speed of the medium (usually 750 mph, the speed of sound)
vo = the relative speed of the observer/receiver
vs = the relative speed of the source
± = whether the source is moving toward (+) or away from (-) the observer
Variations of this apply to particles and waves other than sound. Probably the most celebrated example is the Doppler Shift, where objects moving at the speed of light cause things ahead of them to appear blue and objects behind to appear red. So obviously the Effect works with any wave, such as light, though it has its most practical application to sound. A sonic boom is caused by the Doppler Effect.
Now, being Evil Matt, I happen to know why you are asking this (Lady Di’s “Quote of the Moment” about violin tuning.) Whether the source is fretless or not is irrelevant. All that matters for the Doppler Effect to alter perceived tuning is that one (or both) sources are in motion. In this case, she is essentially stationary on a stage, and the audience is stationary at their seats. Even if she were moving around on stage, her violin has a pickup mic, so the source is effectively the p.a. soundspeaker. I can thus say that her tuning difficulties are more a result of Guinness Extra Stout than the Doppler Effect.
But you already knew that, didn’t you...
Q: What is taurine?
A: A beta amino acid (C2H7No3S) usually produced in bile. It increases mental alertness, which is why it is a popular additive in such “energy drinks” like Red Bull or Liquid X. Cats can actually die from a deficiency in taurine.
Q: Know anything about jackalopes? I saw a tourist trap store in Sky Harbor that was selling stuffed jackalope dolls, and they even had a pic of one. It said they were a hybrid of rabbits and antelope grown as food in the 1800s but some got loose. How can a rabbit be crossed with an antelope?
A: Variants on the jackalope myth actually go back to pre-BC southeast Asia. However, it is just that: a legend, albeit one that taxonomists and other biology types have adopted with seemingly straight-faced mirth, in the same spirit that Branch Floridians insist you can travel time with a spinning cat and piece of buttered toast. Douglas, Wyoming claims to be the “home of the jackalope” and you can even get jackalope hunting licenses there, dated effective June 31st. Most of the picture “evidence” is cleverly-constructed using Photoshop. In all fairness, however, there is a condition among cottontail rabbits known as Shope’s Palinoma, essentially a tic-borne virus that causes tumors on the skull that look suspiciously like small pointy horns that often reach five inches in length. The few “authentic” pictures of jackalopes are invariably of poor bunnies stricken with this.
Got a question? .
The Hedgehog Corner
By Harriet the Hedgehog
Tell your cousin congratulations on the Japanese commercial gig. But tell him to be careful; it's only a short scuttle from the sponge ad to Hedgehog porn! (Did he call the sponge in the morning?)
The good Reverend is apparently unaware of the burgeoning Adult Film Industry among the hedgehog community. Notable “quill flicks” include:
Hedgie does Dallas
The Hedgehog in Miss Jones
Quilligula (directed by Hog Guccioni)
John Wayne Bobbhog — Uncut
Behind the Green Burrow
The Story of H
Ride my Hog all night long
On all fours
Lady Hedgehogersly’s Lovers
Hedgemaster 8 — Hog Wild in Amsterdam
Sex on the Hedge
Jenna Loves Hedgehog
The Hedgehogging of Savanah
The Happy Hedgehog in D.C.
Where the Hedgehogs Aren’t
The Hog Hedges Both Ways
The Hedgehog of Ecstacy
Amateur Hedgehogs #48 — Toledo
It should also be remembered that one of the most famous porn stars in the human community, Ron Jeremy, is affectionately called The Hedgehog.
Trust no one
and Always keep your lighter handy!
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