Meaningless, meaningless, all is meaningless... including this blog.

World Backup Day Thursday, March 31, 2022

Today is World Backup Day, reminding everyone who has data to back it up at least once a year, whether it's on a computer, a tablet or a cell phone. All it takes is a read-write head crashing into a platter, or opening that one tantalizing e-mail message that results in ransomware encrypting your hard drive, or allowing a child who is slightly more computer literate than you into your administrator account and changing your password to something that is alphanumerically bulletproof and totally forgettable. As they say, it's not a matter of if something happens but when. Backing up data is very easy to do and all it takes is fifty or more floppy disks and several hours of compressing files. It's also International Transgender Day of Visibility, so make sure you make a backup of yourself before transgendering your identity in case you ever want to revert to the gender you were previously, which might be difficult if you are non-binary.

Hard Times Success (III) Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Should panhandling prove too competitive, then get to know your competition and what alley or bridge they sleep under at night, then harvest their organs. Once their vital organs have been sold for cash, then the competition has been eliminated and you now have fulltime employment for all shifts. Once a black market commodity, most hospitals now offer a no-questions-asked organ drop-off station with direct deposit. Don't get too creative and try passing off animal organs as human, since testing is now virtually instantaneous. Stay away from homeless shelters, as tempting as it may be -- word gets around fast and the homeless will soon be huddling together, fueled by pruno and armed with makeshift weapons. Not your cup of tea? Well, royalty has its privileges, which generally includes lifelong unemployment benefits. Although most crowns are inherited through royal bloodlines, consider overthrowing a small empire and taking the throne by force. Your subjects are sure to hail you as a liberator and the fear you instill in them by publicly executing their previous royal family shall remain fresh in their minds for generations. Jewel-encrusted attire, parades, and regal trumpeting are just minor perks compared to monarchial arrogance.

Sermon by the Camp Fire, Part I Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Today's entry consists of a selection of passages from The Gospel of Martha, chapter twenty, where Jesus has his apostles gathered around a camp fire and is teaching them. A similar account is given in the Gospel of Thomas, which is considered a gnostic text and part of the Nag Hammadi library (Codex II).

As they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, while they were still aways off, Jesus invited team alpha to camp with him under the stars, with some of the women appointed to tend the gear. But the remainder continued on to Bethany. And he brought figs, and dates, and prunes, for to toast over the open fire. And he took a new wine skin filled with new wine and passed round the fire unto his apostles; and they took, and drank.

Then he began to teach them secretly, and by saying, "Whosoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings which Didymus Thomas hereby inscribeth with penmanship of a many limbed mollusk, will not taste death."

Jesus saith, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they may be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all that is disturbing. And after they have reigned, they will rest. Yea, will they be dead, the most disturbing part of all."

Jesus saith, "If thy leaders say unto thee: Look, the kingdom of heaven is in the sky; then the birds of the sky will pay heed to precede the season to breed. If they say unto thee: It is in the sea; then the fish will concede to secede from the reed. I say rather: succeed indeed to impede the nosebleed, for the kingdom is certainteed within thee, where the tapeworm doth recede into the bowels to feed; and it is outside thee, with the milkweed, and the dandelion seed, and the stampede of the centipede."

Jesus saith, "When ye know how to rhyme, then shall ye rhyme in good time, and ye will understand that ye are not a bother of the living Father. But if ye know not how to rhyme sublime, then verily tis crime; that ye live in grime, because ye are swine, and no friend of mine."

And many a disciple wept, for they were lyrically inept.

Jesus saith, "The person old in days who doth hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, is that person who will live their second childhood. For many of the first will be last, and will form a single line."

Jesus saith, "Know what is in front of thy face, and what is hidden from thee will be disclosed unto thee. For when thou dost cross thine eyes, then shalt thou seest thy nose. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. And there is nothing buried in thy nose that will not be plucked out."

His disciples asking of him say, "Dost thou desire us to fast? How should we pray? Should that we give to charity? What diet should we observe?"

Jesus saith unto them, "Whoa, there. Do not lie and do not that which ye hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. If ye fast, ye need not diet. And if ye pray, charity will come unto you. Verily, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that will remain undisclosed. For all are as naked in the eyes of God; and he wisheth it were not, because many have let themselves go."

Jesus saith, "Fortunate is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becometh human. And cursed is the human that the lion will eat, even that the lion still will become human." He said this for to test that they were paying heed unto his words, but by this time was Simon Peter already asleep.

To be continued...

LWoS 31, 33, 39, 55, 59, 61 Monday, March 28, 2022

Today's entry consists of a selection of passages from the Lost Wisdom of Solomon. They could also be the next winning lottery numbers, but don't bet on it.

31 Blessed is the man gifted with the ability to interpret dreams, or foreign tongues, or parables, or to raise the dead to life again, or to prophesy future events, or to see visions, or to avoid in-laws during times of extended visits. Each has their merits, but eagerly desire the last.

33 My daughters, seldom do I address you. Such is the task of your mothers and maidservants. Heed my command and marry not into foreign tribes, neither fornicate with them, nor eat food sacrificed to their idols, nor worship their false gods. That is all. Good luck.

39 Do not muzzle the ox whilst it treads out the grain, lest it become fretful, and collude with other oxen, and they in turn form a labor union, and attempt to collectively bargain their demands, and threaten to refrain from treading out the grain until those demands be met, and go on strike for perceived unfair labor practices. Then you will be forced into the unpleasant position of having to decide between negotiations with the oxen for treading out the grain, or harnessing the wild donkey to finish treading out the grain, whilst the oxen protest in solidarity.

55 A young man has good eyesight and is able to see what lies ahead, whereas an old man well advanced in years suffers from poor vision and trips on a hairless cat in a vain attempt to get to the bathroom to relieve his aching bladder. Broken is the hip of the man who trips on a hairless cat.

59 Share what you have with those in need. If someone, even a stranger in your land, comes to your door naked, and barefoot, and hungry, and thirsty, and asks of you for guidance, then give to them advice in abundance, and send them away with words of insightfulness to lift their spirits. For one day you too may be homeless, and destitute, and starving, and in dire need of a bit of wisdom with which to nourish your soul.

61 Long hair is the sign of a Nazirite. A full and ample beard is as the noble mane of a lion. Lustrous nose hairs are a manifestation of patience and long suffering. Furry arms are a badge of strength and fortitude. A back covered from neck to crack with a thick lawn of hair is evidence of pragmatism and fiscal prowess. Ears full of lofty white hair with fuzzy, elongated lobes are a banner of maturity and sophistication. Eyebrows like the horns of an owl are the distinguished mark of wisdom. A mole with a wiry hair growing from its center is just plain gross. That should be inspected by a priest.

International Whisk(e)y Day Sunday, March 27, 2022

Today, depending on where it was made, we lift a glass of whiskey (Ireland and the U.S.) or whisky (Scotland, Canada and anywhere else) in honor of drinking the stuff itself. Whiskey was born in Ireland in the fifteenth century and made by Catholic monks as a medicinal drink. The word itself is derived from the Gaelic uisce or "water" and most distilled spirits in Medieval Europe were referred to simply as aqua vitae (Latin, "water of life"). Whiskey is distilled from fermented grain mash, called malt, to include barley, corn, rye, and/or wheat (either single malt or a blend, although blended whiskey can contain just one type of grain from different distilleries). The term "malt" generally denotes barley, while "grain" refers to a combination of whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals. Distillation is a process of boiling and condensation with a copper still that concentrates the fermented grains to increase its alcohol by volume while removing sulfur-based compounds. It is then aged in old, used white oak casks (usually sherry or rum) for up to twelve years to give it a smooth flavor (in its infancy it was not aged and therefore had a rather brutal taste -- Irish and Scotch whiskies must be aged for at least three years). Barrel-aging causes the whiskey to undergo further chemical processes over time and gives it its golden color. Whiskey aged in different casks throughout its lifetime are usually referred to as "double wood" or "triple wood." Scotch is whisky that is made in Scotland, some of which undergoes an additional process of treating the malt with peat smoke. (Rabbit hole: peat moss, which is primarily decomposed plant matter that has been compressed in the ground for thousands of years and can be burned like coal, was used in eighteenth-century commercial distilleries in Scotland to heat the pot stills and was eventually infused into the barley malt during the drying process, whereby the drying barley absorbed the smoke odor from the burning peat.) The majority of whiskies are defined and regulated by law where they are made, which includes production, labeling, packaging and advertising. Understanding and enjoying whiskey can be rather complicated, but it's an acquired taste and in my opinion well worth the time, effort, and money. Yet a sober mind might put forth the inquiry: is it permissible to imbibe from a biblically moral standpoint? The simple answer is that the Bible doesn't say no, but to not get drunk (Proverbs 23:19-20, Romans 13:12-13, Ephesians 5:15-18).

Pictured: A variety of stills at the Smügen Whisky AB distillery in Sweden, Wikimedia Commons.
Note: World Whisk(e)y Day is on May 21st and although it was founded four years after International Whisk(e)y Day, it is recognized by the Scottish Parliament. The IWD is in memory of British writer Michael J. Jackson (1942-2007), who was an expert on beer and whiskey and wrote many books on the two subjects, including the best-selling "Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion." He also suffered from Parkinson's disease, so the IWD is also an awareness day for the disease but the official awareness day for Parkinson's Disease is April 11th. Regardless, there remain two whiskey days, plus a bourbon day which is on June 14th. Bourbon is an American whiskey born in Kentucky and distilled primarily from corn.

Purple Day Saturday, March 26, 2022

Today is Purple Day, the one day of the year to bring awareness to epilepsy for those who are not regularly affected directly or indirectly by this neurological disorder of the central nervous system that causes seizures due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Purple Day was started in 2008 by Cassidy Megan, a nine-year-old who brought epilepsy and its awareness to Canada. In commemoration, here are some myths to dispel the facts about epilepsy in the color purple:

  • A seizure may result when there is a sudden excessive electrical discharge that disrupts the normal activity of the nerve cells in the brain causing a fluctuation in midiclorians, which members of the Jedi Council refer to as a disturbance in the force.
  • The earliest references to epilepsy date back to the fifth millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia, which ancient peoples called "the funky chicken."
  • Epilepsy was once thought to be caused by demon possession. We now know it is the result of neural disruptor ray guns possessed by a legion of interdimensional super villains fought by the International League Against Epilepsy. Some people can sense when these diabolical miscreants are approaching via mutant powers known as an "aura."
  • Seizures are divided into three main categories: Focal Onset (the affected area of the brain is known and predictable and the person is usually aware of having a seizure), Generalized Onset (spreads across the entire brain and causes a loss of body control and awareness), and Unknown Onset (only the Shadow knows). These categories are broken down into a myriad of subgroups with various diagnostics and treatments requiring the extensive use of lists.
  • Epilepsy can be inherited but is not contagious, unless you come into direct contact with the exposed neurons of someone having a seizure.
  • Triggers are situations that can bring on a seizure in some people with epilepsy, such as lack of sleep, drug use, low blood sugar, stress, certain medications, missed medications, withdrawal from binge drinking, menstruation (especially in men), or one too many Red Bulls.
  • Less than 5% of seizures are caused by reflex epilepsy, which is triggered by external stimuli such as flashing lights, visual patterns, loud noises, or a toaster in the bathtub.
  • Music videos that can trigger epileptic seizures include Nicki Minaj's "Stupid Hoe," Bear in Heaven's "Reflection Of You," Kanye West's "All of the Lights," and Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight." Warning: these music videos can generally cause a mild seizure in anyone's musical taste.
  • Joe Cocker did not have epilepsy but he did perfect the epileptic fit to a rock n' roll rhythm. He was, however, a heavy smoker and died of lung cancer.
  • An estimated 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, which is more than those who still know who Joe Cocker is.
  • Minnie Mouse has epilepsy in the form of Dravet syndrome, which she controls with the use of fenfluramine (brand name Fintepla). It was induced when she was being used for medical experimentation before it was discovered that she could talk and preferred wearing clothes.
  • A misconception is that Curious George also suffers from epilepsy that was induced for medical experimentation. However, he suffers from Klüver-Bucy syndrome, which results from bilateral lesions of the medial temporal lobe. The man with the yellow hat has all the answers but continues to remain an enigma to us all.
  • Other famous individuals with epilepsy include Alexander the Great, Caligula, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Napoleon Bonaparte, Dante, Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allan Poe, James Madison, Theodore Roosevelt, Leo Tolstoy, Vincent van Gogh, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Truman Capote, George Gershwin, Danny Glover, Neil Young, Lil Wayne, Prince, Rick Harrison of "Pawn Stars," Susan Boyle of "Britain's Got Talent," Adam Horovitz of The Beastie Boys, Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, Bud Abbott of Abbot & Costello, and Elton John -- all of whom either died or will die of epilepsy.
  • Greek philosopher Socrates was thought to have epilepsy, but it was just a rumor started by Aristotle to explain his homosexual tendencies. It was also rumored by Demetrius of Phalerum that Aristotle had epilepsy, apparently to explain his fixation on three-sided rectilinear plane figures, which we now know as triangles.
  • Around 400 BCE the Greek physician Hippocrates wrote in his book "On the Sacred Disease" that epilepsy is a blockage of chilled phlegm stuck inside the blood vessels of the head preventing the flow of air and causing the brain to melt.
  • It is not actually known for certain who wrote "On the Sacred Disease" but some surmise it may have been the same author behind many of the plays attributed to Shakespeare. The author also pointed out that people who felt a seizure coming on tended to run away in shame rather than the common belief that they were trying to hide from the gods who were about to smite them.
  • During the nineteenth century, much of the research into epilepsy was performed by French physicians in order to prove that it was British cuisine that caused grand mal seizures.
  • Electroencephalography (EEG) and amplitude integrated electroencephalography (aEEG) are used to study the brain waves associated with epileptic seizures because, as any modern fool can attest, technology is cool, especially when it involves so many electrodes attached to the head. (Electrocorticography requires electrodes to be placed on the actual surface of the brain.)
  • Other machines used to study and monitor the brain for illnesses like epilepsy include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), magnetoencephalography (MEG), nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR or MRS), electrocorticography (ECoG), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), and event-related optical signal (EROS). All these show how the coolness factor of technology is directly proportional to the price tag.
  • Research into voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) and their effects on neuronal excitability may lead to a better understanding of whether or not starfish can have epilepsy.
  • In 2017, a Guinness World Record was reached during Purple Day by the Anita Kaufmann Foundation for the achievement of the largest ever group of people and animals experiencing a collective epileptic seizure.
  • 70% of people with epilepsy can gain freedom from seizures with medication alone, while 30% have drug-resistant epilepsy. Treatment options for drug-resistant seizures include surgery, medically-supervised ketogenic diets, nerve stimulation, relaxation techniques, herbal remedies, vitamin therapy, acupuncture and reflexology, hypnosis, spiritual purification, magical incantations, alcoholism, and the blood of executed criminals.
  • A single seizure does not an epileptic make, but only when it becomes a habit.
  • If someone in the immediate vicinity is experiencing an epileptic seizure whereby they are either rigid (tonic) or convulsing (clonic), tell them to stay calm and turn them on their side so they don't choke on any sharp objects.
  • If someone nearby is experiencing a focal seizure and exhibiting a slight disturbance of consciousness, snap your fingers in front of their eyes and keep repeating, "Hey. Hey. Hey. Is anybody home?"
  • A momentary lapse of attention is called a generalized absence seizure and may happen when one side of the brain temporarily phases out of reality. This is also known as a brain fart.
  • Epilepsy may be attributed to genius, along with autism, madness, and a propensity towards evil.
  • The exact cause of epilepsy is still unclear, but it can be genetic or the result of a severe head injury, brain tumors, stroke, or infections such as meningitis -- which in turn are the result of either divine curse or demonic possession.

60 Second Romance Vol 5 Friday, March 25, 2022

She was his favorite model, posing nude for charcoal drawings patiently throughout the years: as a young woman getting in and out of the bath tub, reclining on the sofa, stretching by a window, washing dishes in the kitchen sink, or performing yoga on a rug in the bedroom. In her advanced arthritic years: sitting on the toilet, napping in a lukewarm bath tub, slumped in a chair drinking a Diet Coke, or lying on the basement floor at the bottom of the stairs. Even in death she was the perfect model, posing with the aid of his interns or by means of heavy gauge wire inserted throughout her limbs. But then one day her spine snapped and she was never the same. He buried her in the garden, where she had posed nude all those years while pulling weeds. No one ever contacted him as to her whereabouts. He just considered himself blessed. Yes, others came and went, but none could replace her, no matter how demanding and insistent he was. From time to time he'd pull out the drawings and remember her fondly, until one day he stopped recognizing her and wondered if his memory was failing. However, a comparison between his drawings and photographs revealed that all these past years he just wasn't a very good artist after all.

Of Plimoth Plantation Thursday, March 24, 2022
This episode is brought to you by Brama Livs Elixir exotic remedies imported from Denmark, which protects health and thus prolongs life. Infused with esoteric ingredients known only to the royalty of the ancients, such as coca leaves, morphine, laudanum, hydrochloric acid, cannabis, lithium, arsenic, heroin, mercury, and peppermint oil. It's an all-natural cure for whatever ails you, including hysteria, chorea, gout, neuralgia, rheumatism, tetanus, hydrophobia and the like. How have the Danish quieted their nerves for centuries? Brama Livs Elixir!

When last we left our intrepid Pilgrim folk, they were just returned from Massachusetts with a good quantity of beaver in the Year of Our Lord 1621. Winter is come upon the settlers and their provisions have dwindled, yet few there remain after the harsh year. We now continue with William Bradford's harrowing account of Plymouth Plantation.

After a sollemne meeting and a day of humilliation to seeke ye Lord for his direction, we procurred 2 hoggsheads of beaver and otter skins from the natives and proportioned ye same to ye number of persons, and found that it would not hould out above 6 months at halfe alowance, and hardly that. Sone after this, ye great people of ye Narigansets, in a braving maner, sente a messenger unto them with a bundl of arrows tyed aboute with a great sneak-skine; which their interpretours tould them was a threatening and a chaleng. And by another messenger sente ye sneake-skine back with bulits in it; but they would not receive it, but sent it back againe. But this made them ye more carefully to looke to them selves, so as they agreed to inclose their dwellings with a good strong pale, and make flankers in convenient places, with gates to shute, which were every night locked, and a watch kept to prevent Indean treachery.

One day called Chrismasday, ye Govr caled them out to worke, but most of this new-company excused them selves and said it wente against their consciences to work on Chrismasday. So ye Govr tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed. So he led-away ye rest and left them; but when they came home at noone from their worke, he found them in ye streete at play, openly; some pitching ye barr, and some at stoole-ball, and shuch like sports. So he went to them, and tooke away their implements, and tould them that was against his conscience, that they should play and others worke. If they made ye keeping of it mater of devotion, let them kepe their houses, but ther should be no gameing or revelling in ye streets. Since which time nothing hath been atempted that way, at least openly.

Anno 1622, and at ye spring of ye year they had apointed ye Massachusets to come againe and trade with them, and begane now to prepare for that vioag about ye later end of March. But they had not bene gone longe, but an Indean belonging to Squantos family came runing in seeming great fear, and tould them that many of ye Narihgansets, with Corbytant, and he thought also Massasoyte, were coming against them; at which the Governor caused them to take armes and stand on their garde, and watch was kepte all night, but nothing was scene. After this they proseeded on their vioge to ye Massachusets, and had good trade, and returned in saftie, blessed be God.

But by the former passages, and other things of like nature, they begane to see that Squanto sought his owne ends, and plaid his owne game, by putting ye Indeans in fear, and drawing gifts from them to enrich him selfe; making them beleeve he could stur up warr against whom he would, and make peece for whom he would. Yea, he made them beleeve they kept ye plague buried in ye ground, and could send it amongs whom they would, which did much terrifie the Indeans, and made them depend more on him, and seeke more to him then to Massasoyte, which proucured him envie, and had like to have cost him his life. For after ye discovery of his practises, Massasoyt sought it both privatly and openly; which caused him to stick close to ye English, and never durst goe from them till he dyed.

Now in a maner their provissions were wholy spent, and they looked hard for supply, but none came. But about ye later end of May, they spied a boat at sea, which at first they thought had beene some Frenchman; but it proved a shalop had set out a fishing, but this boat brought no vitails, nor any hope of any. Sundry other things I pass over, being tedious and impertinent.

A leter was received from Edward Pickering and Williame Greene, having beene delivered with great charge of secrecie; and for more securitie, to sow it betweene ye soles for fear of intercepting. Yea, a leter of warning that Mr. Thomas Weston will not permitte leters to be sent in his ships, nor any thing for your good or ours, and him selfe and his brother Andrew, a heady yong man and violente, are ploting their owne ends, which tend to your and our undooing in respecte of our estates ther, and prevention of our good ends. For by credible testimoney we are informed his purpose is to come to your colonie, pretending he comes for and from ye adventurers, and will seeke to gett what you have in readynes into his ships, as if they came from ye company, and possessing all, will be so much profite to him selfe. And further to informe them selves what spetiall places or things you have discovered, to ye end that they may supres and deprive you. The Lord, who is ye watchman of Israll and slepeth not, preserve you and deliver you from unreasonable men. I am sorie that ther is cause to admonish you of these things concerning this man; so I leave you to God, who bless and multiply you into thousands, to the advancemente of ye glorious gospell of our Lord Jesus. Amen. Fare well.

To be continued. If you cannot wait, visit Project Gutenberg for yourself.

Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 7 Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, although no one is truly innocent. Today Kelvin is slightly perturbed -- there's a kitten somewhere in the basement that can be heard through the walls. My only hope is that it's trapped in the old boiler room that has been walled-in as of late. Now it's brought to our attention that it must be located and vacated, to which Kelvin responds, "And what do you want me to do about it?" So I take all the empty boxes from one of our storerooms that were stacked neatly by Kelvin in front of the access panel to the old boiler room and pile them in the hallway, causing his blood pressure to elevate, as evident in the bulging of his veins in his neck, forehead, and temples. Later I print out a certificate of achievement for Kelvin to hang in his office as a reminder of his hard work stacking empty boxes. Our agency provides a template for this certificate to be awarded to whomever we like, and I like to award it to Kelvin every chance I get, even though he has made it abundantly clear that he does not appreciate them. As for the whereabouts of the ghost kitten, that remains a mystery -- one which I don't particularly care about, and neither does Kelvin. He's a proud dog owner and I'm not a pet person, especially thanks to Kelvin and his ilk for all of their horror stories about owning a precious dog. However, I may have mentioned that already in the recent past (hint: 3/19/22). Anyway, long story short, no kitten and therefore no certificate of achievement for me.

Vox in Excelso Tuesday, March 22, 2022

On this day in 1312, Pope Clement V issued the papal bull Vox in excelso, which dissolved the Knights Templar, one of three primary orders of knights officially endorsed by the Catholic Church, which also included the Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights. The Knights Templar, originally the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, were a monastic order founded in 1119 to protect Christians making pilgrimages to the Holy Land of Jerusalem throughout the Crusades and were headquartered in a wing of the royal palace on the Temple Mount in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Although the knights themselves were sworn to poverty while in service, the order became one of the wealthiest charities during the Middle Ages and ran its own banking system, with the majority of its members working as administrative staff. But the military arm of the order grew and led troops in key battles to maintain control over the Holy Land for nearly two centuries. However, in 1187, Jerusalem was recaptured by Muslim forces and from then on the Knights Templar began to lose favor with king and cross. In 1813, King Philip IV rounded up all Templars in France, had them tried for financial corruption, fraud, secrecy, and heresy. That year, Pope Clement V issued the papal bull Pastoralis praeeminentiae, ordering the arrest of all Knights Templar and seizure of their assets. Many of the order's members were tortured to gain confessions of participating in secret ceremonies, idolatrous worship, homosexual practices, spitting on the cross, jaywalking, littering, and wearing their undergarments inside out. In time, the Templars were resurrected in Portugal as the Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ, or just Order of Christ.

Pictured: Knights Templar being burned to death at the stake in Paris in 1314 on charges of heresy, although some historians believe that they were falsely accused because King Philip IV was greatly indebted to them for their financial backing of his war against England. Both Pope Clement V and King Philip IV died that same year. Pictured: one of the emblems of the Knights Templar representing poverty where members had to share horses. King Philip IV cited this as a brazen image of homosexuality, calling it the Mongolian Horseback Ride. Pictured: Kevin Costner's greatest contribution to the world of motion pictures. Today is also the United Nations' World Water Day, advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

Land of the Huddled Masses Monday, March 21, 2022

Once again, there are so many commemorations today that deserve comment (Puppetry Day, International Colour Day, World Poetry Day, International Day of Forests, Education Freedom Day, Et al), but what bothers me more than these is homelessness and particularly homelessness in America (World Homeless Day is actually October 10). I recently drove through a large metropolitan area in the PNW that looked like a third world city and the midsize city I live near has its own homeless population that keeps growing. This city passed an ordinance in 2014 against sidewalk loitering and another in 2018 making it a misdemeanor to camp within city limits in parks, conservation areas and other public property, while directing homeless persons to local shelters. The problem with this law is in both enforcing it and keeping people in shelters who don't want to stay in shelters. Who would? But drug paraphernalia, human waste, and panhandling is not good for business. However, given the state of disrepair of city streets, lack of affordable parking and higher crime rates, there are plenty of reasons not to go downtown. So what's to be done? I wish I knew and I also wish our elected officials knew better. I have my own opinions on the matter, which some would undoubtedly find draconian (cardboard box suburbs, workhouses, gladiator games, medical experimentation, Manhattan Island, renovated government buildings), but desperate times call for desperate measures. Remember, 2022 is the year of Soylent Green.

The gay narwhals are here to say, "Hey, vagrants, you can't stay. Homeless campers go away. Today!" Yet the tusked Monodontidae duo has a valid point. If people are granted the blue tarp treatment, then what's next -- green tarps... brown tarps... yellow tarps? Only low-income property owners and renters should be allowed the free use of tarps.

Great American Meatout Sunday, March 20, 2022

There's quite a lot going on today in commemoration of things I'd like to pick apart, including International Day of Happiness, Sun-Earth Day, World Storytelling Day, World Sparrow Day, International Astrology Day, the Pagan festivals of Ostara and Mabon, Earth Day, and the Great American Meatout in honor of farm animal rights, but I shall only focus briefly on one, and that is the Nowruz holiday and end of a nineteen-day fast for those of the Baha'i Faith in honor of the Most Great Name of the unknowable God. Today is the vernal equinox in the Earth's northern hemisphere and the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere as the sun shines directly over the equator, splitting night and day equally in half. This is celebrated by the Baha'i Faith as Naw-Ruz ("New Day"), or the Persian New Year going back to the ancient religions of Mithraism and Zoroastrianism, with a calendar of nineteen months, each with nineteen days, plus insertion days to make a full solar year. In 1844, an Iranian merchant changed his name to Bab, meaning Gate, and claimed to be the Hidden Twelfth Imam of Shia Islam, or Mahdi, who was to appear with Jesus and bring peace and justice to the world, except that he was sentenced to death and his body fed to the dogs. However, he succeeded in creating a religion called Babism which attempted to unite all monotheistic religions. Shortly after the Bab's death in 1863, a young Persian aristocrat and adherent to Babism named Baha'u'llah claimed to be a major prophet, which he called the Manifestations of God, among which were Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and the Bab. Since these MOGs were all founders of major world religions, Baha'u'llah's new religion, called Baha'i, united all these religions. However, this being a spiritual movement in the Middle East, it was not generally welcomed by most Muslims, who still today consider it an apostasy from Islam. Even so, there is an estimated average of six million followers worldwide with Baha'i temples in India, the U.S., Israel, Germany, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Australia, Panama, Samoa, Chile, Cambodia, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, and the Congo. According to the Baha'i Faith, "Humanity, having passed through the ages of infancy and childhood, now stands at the threshold of its collective maturity, the hallmark of which will be the unification of the human race in a global civilization. The emergence of this civilization, prosperous in both its spiritual and material dimensions, implies that the spiritual and practical aspects of life are to advance harmoniously together." There is a lot to criticize with this belief system, not the least of which it being a mashup of several belief systems which are not altogether compatible. To this, the Baha'i believer contends that God in his divine wisdom presents religion to humankind based upon the time, culture, and needs of the people, which means that it naturally varies and progresses throughout history. In response, the traditional Christian, Jew, and Muslim calls, "Bullshit/Pardumah/Barazalthawr."

Man's Best Friend Saturday, March 19, 2022

My wife and I have often argued about getting a dog. She wants one, I don't. That's the only thing I have ever put my foot down on, besides on a cat. However, I am willing to concede the reasons why dogs are so important...

  • Hunting, especially for larger, more dangerous game like sabretooth tigers or mastodons.
  • Companionship and affection which are absent from a marriage or lacking within a family.
  • Healthier lifestyle -- according to the American Heart Association, lazy dog owners are 54% more likely to get the recommended amount of exercise than non-dog owning fat-asses.
  • The need for less sleep (some people would never get out of bed if it weren't to tend to a needy dependent).
  • Carpet fertilizer (some people would never clean their carpet if it weren't for feces and urine).
  • Best way to determine if underpants are clean. If not, they will be destroyed or eaten.
  • Add all-natural protective layer of shed fur and hair to furniture, clothing, and children.
  • A way to get to know the neighbors better (some people would never meet their neighbors if it weren't for canine hijinks).
  • Make vacations and getaways more costly and therefore more valuable.
  • Act as an early warning detection system for earthquakes, epileptic seizures, PMS, cancerous moles, plagues of rats, the USPS mail delivery person, or Amazon drones.
  • Boost the local veterinary economy -- we can't totally rely on horse owners, and who wants to pay a fortune to keep a cat alive?
  • Dogs telepathically induce higher levels of serotonin and dopamine. Most prescription antidepressants are made from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors from the harvested brains of unwanted dogs.
  • The extraction of precious sebaceous fluid, or sebum, for use in baby balm and hand moisturizers.
  • To reduce the amount of chewing we as humans have to do around the house to make everything softer, whether we wear it or recline on it.
  • Long walks in the cold outdoors, where you will undoubtedly need something to collect porcupine quills and absorb skunk spray.
  • To help maintain constant vigilance, looking everywhere at all times to keep from tripping and to be constantly looking out the window to see what dangerous intruder is causing all the ruckus.
  • Increased social interaction continually apologizing to strangers for your dog's misbehavior. (And what proud parents of hominin children don't want to hear all about your adopted canine children?)
  • To help reduce stress, blood pressure, and heart disease, thus prolonging life. Many dog owners who at first were caused undue stress from their noisy and troublesome pet soon learned to tune them out and ignore them. After time, they become conditioned to do this with all stressful situations.
  • To share loneliness, because no one likes to be both lonely and all alone. Misery loves company. Studies of single pet owners have shown that dogs are empathetic towards depressed humans, unlike cats, which couldn't care less about the black hole inside your heart. If a dog can't lick your troubles away, then it will sadly suffer along with you.
  • Mood-enhancers. Studies have also shown that people who suffer from a lower intelligence quotient and find humor in simple activities like falling down or farting also find much to laugh about with dogs and their simple-minded antics.
  • Increased immunity -- a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that British children who rub dog saliva in their eyes and consume dog feces are less likely than their international counterparts to develop dog allergies.
  • Pulling sleds for the blind.
  • A boosting of confidence, or at least less concern over what others think about you smelling their butts, pooping in their front yard, and licking your own testicles in public.
  • As a watchdog to ensure no one else eats your food, but that it does get eaten if perceived that it was forgotten or will go to waste.
  • Increased levels of oxytocin, a neuropeptide which plays a key role in social bonding and sexual activity... but not with pets, which is sick, inhumane, and only legal in New Mexico and West Virginia.
  • Trusty co-worker. Some people bring their dogs with them to the office because behind closed doors it can do the same work while their owner curls up and sleeps in the corner.
  • Teach kids the important ramifications of irresponsibility.

More Fun Bible Trivia Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Here are the answers to more fun Bible trivia questions -- the theology edition. Theology is a rather complex subject because we've had over two thousand years to make it complicated. As Augustine of Hippo may or may not have once said, "If you are spiritually pious but scripturally inept, then you are a dumbass. Whereas if you are scripturally righteous but spiritually dead, then you are a smartass. Either way, you are assbackwards and in need of being set straight." Once again, you are welcome.

Q: What is theology?
A: Trying to explain anything that has to do with God in ways that annoy philosophers, scientists, and secular intellectuals.

Q: Is theology a matter of salvation?
A: No, unless you're a Calvinist or an Arminian.

Q: Is baptism a matter of salvation?
A: No, unless you're a Baptist or a member of the Church of Christ.

Q: Why do some Christian denominations perform infant baptism?
A: Because they are impatient and believe that babies are too stupid to decide for themselves.

Q: What's the difference between deuterocanonical and apocryphal?
A: Three syllables. The former is Catholic/Orthodox pseudo scripture and the latter is still open for debate amongst Protestants.

Q: What's the difference between premillennial and postmillennial?
A: A thousand years. Both are based on differing interpretations of Revelation 20:1-6. Correct premills believe that Christ will return to Earth in a second coming just prior to and in order to establish a 1,000-year reign of paradise upon the Earth physically, while mistaken postmills believe that at some point in time Christ already has or will eventually usher in a thousand-year reign in the hearts of his believers spiritually, after which there will be a second physical coming and he shall rule both heaven and Earth together. Amillennialists believe that the thousand years of Christ's earthly kingdom is just symbolic, however, the White Throne Judgment is very real.

Q: What's the difference between the post-tribulation and pre-tribulation rapture?
A: One is before and the other is after. Post-tribs believe that the resurrection of the dead will take place after a period of seven years of great tribulation such as the world has never experienced, while pre-tribs believe that Christians both alive and dead will be resurrected prior to the Great Tribulation and caught up in the air all at once in an instant. You can figure it out for yourself from these passages: Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, Revelation 7:14. (Hint: the secret to this answer may lie in 2 Thessalonians 2:7.)

Q: What is eschatology?
A: It is speculation about the end times.

Q: What is exegesis?
A: Bible commentary that fits in small places.

Q: What is biblical hermeneutics?
A: The interpretation of the interpretation of scripture.

Q: What is Halakha?
A: It is the mitzvot of the Talmud that served as the laws of behavior during the Jewish diaspora, generally divided into chukim, mishpatim, and eduyot, as enacted by the gezeirah (to include revised takkanot), as practiced in the minhagim, and as elucidated via the Gemara.

Q: What is the Aggadah?
A: It is a derivation of what the Hebrew language refers to as the Haggadah.

Q: What is homiletics?
A: The art of preaching, including the composition and delivery of sermons, explanation of Christian doctrine, discourse on biblical scripture, incorporation of clean, wholesome humor and tasteful jokes, and the use of props and overhead visuals -- all in under forty minutes.

Q: Are Christians under the laws of the Old Testament or not?
A: No, they are above and beyond it.

Q: Is salvation by grace or works?
A: Yes and no.

Q: Can a Christian lose their salvation?
A: That depends -- was it simply misplaced or did they intentionally and deliberately and with malice aforethought toss it aside or trample it asunder?

Q: Does the Bible contradict itself?
A: Yes it does in no way gainsay, belie, contravene or impune itself.

Q: What is Christian apologetics?
A: Having to say you're sorry for sinning after you've been saved and redeemed from sin.

Q: Why does there have to be a hell?
A: There doesn't. Why do there have to be places like Juarez, Mexico, Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Disney's Epcot Center in Florida? There just is, so try to avoid them.

Q: Should Christians prosper or suffer?
A: Neither -- they should be simple, boring, plain-clothed, thankful for what they do have, and donate their gently used secondhand clothing to charity.

Q: Don't all major religions worship the same god?
A: Yes, except for the triune God of Christianity, which is the monotheistic God of Judaism.

Q: Why are there so many denominations within Christianity?
A: Because there is so much to be misunderstood about Christianity.

Everyone Has Their Opinion Monday, March 14, 2022

Here are my opinions, theories, and observations on just about everything. As I am getting advanced in my years, they probably won't change much, unless I have a near-death experience. If I left anything out, then rest assured you'll hear more about it later.

  • Capitalism: Awesome, but feudal.
  • Socialism: Sucks ass, but inescapable for civilized countries.
  • Universe: Huge, but finite.
  • Earth: Unique and less than 10,000 years old but not flat.
  • Religion: Catch 22 -- beneficial for the individual, but dangerous for society.
  • God: Exists and actually cares.
  • Bible: God's inerrant word.
  • Capital Punishment: Yes.
  • Euthanasia: Yes.
  • Sin: No one is without it, not even children.
  • Homosexuality: Unnatural and a sin, but should be legal in a godless, democratic society. Is there such a thing as a Christian homosexual, or a homosexual who is a Christian? I rather think not, but we're all fooling ourselves in some way. Homosexuals should create their own unique religion.
  • Abortion: An abomination to God, but a consequence of free will. (That's my safe answer.)
  • Morality: Resides upon religious precepts of monotheism, out of which comes ethics, which a godless society then uses as a principle for civil behavior.
  • Humanitarianism: An unrealistic ideal, but helpful in any society, especially a godless one.
  • Anarchy: Dumbest system ever -- not even a system but a lack of structure resulting in chaos. Only stupid assholes without a conscience can get away with promoting such an ideal under the protection of a democratically governed society. Death to anarchists.
  • Meaning of Life: Meaningless.
  • Science: Awesome, but does not disprove God or creationism. Come to think of it, it doesn't even prove evolution.
  • Evolution: You guessed it, bullshit.
  • War: Inevitable and those who are unprepared will be conquered.
  • Clowns: Evil. However, I do enjoy Puddles Pity Party.
  • Taxes: Necessary evil, unlike clowns (with the exception of Puddles). The poor should only be taxed 5%, the middle class 10%, and the rich 15%. People who make a living as a clown should be pitied 100% (even Puddles).

League of Angry Drivers (L.O.A.D.) Thursday, February 17, 2022

As a public service, I offer admission into my non-profit organization to educate licensed, insured, responsible drivers who have become angry at how poorly everyone around them is driving and help them realize there's not a damn thing they can do about it, other than to change their own attitude or ride public transit. Prime directive: If you can't beat them, join them. Here's what I recommend:

  • Always drive in an altered state of mind, whether half asleep, inebriated, in transcendental meditation, heavily medicated, or with your head up your ass on mental cruise control.
  • Maintain as many distractions as possible. Some examples: cell phone, pets on lap, cigarette in one hand and coffee in the other, printed reading material, consuming a meal (preferably from a bowl or plate), dig through purse or makeup bag, conversation with passenger while maintaining eye contact, programming stereo. Children were originally on this list, but they are inevitable and unavoidable. Even so, pay full attention to them when fussy even though they may be buckled in and incapable of moving.
  • Don't bother with turn signals, nor with physically turning your head before making a lane change. If you do use a turn signal, this gives you the right of way and a perfect reason not to turn your head to look to see if someone is already there.
  • Always drive at least 10mph over the speed limit on arterials and under 10mph on freeways and interstate highways. A good rule of thumb is to just drive the same speed everywhere.
  • When entering an onramp, do not increase speed to maximum until you have completely run out of lane and are forced to merge. Likewise, when exiting an offramp, slow down at least a quarter mile before and hit brakes immediately off the freeway.
  • Slow down while passing, then speed up after passing. If you can't help it, it's best just to remain in the passing lane as long as possible. Also, increase speed when being passed to match that of the other driver.
  • Let your driver's license, automobile tabs, and auto insurance expire. Only law-abiding chumps pay into those scams.
  • Do not over-think or strategize. If your target is a left turn lane three lanes over from a parking lot, then simply drive in a straight line from point A to point B. No need to drive around the block or make a right turn and then a u-turn.
  • Drive with one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the brake pedal, alternating between the two in regular intervals.
  • Either count to three before proceeding through a green light, or maintain a distance of three inches behind the car in front of you.
  • Ignore traffic signals and road signs -- these are just more frivolous requirements for anal-retentive rule-followers. Chances are in your favor that others are paying more attention to your driving than you are and will avoid you.
  • If you are a senior citizen with poor eyesight and slow reflexes, prone to seizures and/or strokes, and feel you have lived long enough to own the road, then be sure to schedule medical appointments and shopping excursions during rush hour traffic.
  • Either allow no one to merge in front of you or let everyone merge in front of you.
  • Press both feet firmly on the brake pedal and push to the floor if a small animal runs out into the middle of the road (e.g., no larger than a porcupine or golden retriever) -- best if undertaken in inclement weather and slippery road conditions.
  • When pulling out from a side street, wait until the last possible second and be sure to insert yourself in front of someone else. If on a freeway or interstate highway, remember the general rule of thumb: 10mph under the speed limit. However, if on an arterial, in this situation it is quite alright to still drive 5mph to 10mph under the speed limit.
  • Don't bother passing another car. Simply maintain a close, comfortable distance to where their rear bumper is just out of sight. Maybe swerve from side to side periodically. Resist the urge to pass, even if legally allowed to do so and there is no oncoming traffic for miles.
  • If you don't know where you are going, or what state you are in, or even if you are unaware that you are driving, slow down and take a moment to reflect on existence. Don't bother pulling over to read a map or use a map application on your smart phone as this will delay your arrival. Remember, cell phones are a good distraction while driving.

Is it just my opinion that there are far too many people with cars who should not be driving them? No. That they suffer from SFB is my opinion. Cynicism, whether of ancient Greek philosophy or just bitter sarcasm, is the only recourse to assholes who actually put these principles into practice. God have mercy on us all.

Know Your Monks Saturday, March 12, 2022

Maybe you're contemplating joining a monastic order and devoting your life to the Christian Trinity through aestheticism, prayer, isolation, chastity, poverty, meditation, scriptural study, chanting, fasting, silence, and manual labor, which probably should be the hallmarks of all Christians. If so, you may have to join a different denomination, since most monastic orders belong to the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and Reformed Churches. But if you are already a member of one of these churches then you are in fortuity because they all practice basically the same rites. Otherwise, you can start your own order or just dedicate yourself to being a hermit. A monk (Latin monachus, "solitary"), is a person who absolves themself of worldly belongings, wealth, and secular practices and vows to live a simple life in total dedication to God either alone (eremitic) or with others (cenobitic) in a monastic commune (monastery, abbey, priory, cloister, friary). This particularly but not entirely applies to a man but the same goes for a woman, or nun. Most monasteries, regardless of denomination, follow the same basic traditions and lifestyles: wearing simple attire each and every day called a habit, which is a robe with a hoodie for men and a robe with a complete head covering for women; recital of prescribed prayers at certain times of the day, known as the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours; communal meals unless fasting, eaten in silence or accompanied by Bible readings; studying scripture and copying religious manuscripts; manual labor, usually agriculture or some kind of specialized trade; singing and/or chanting; participation in Mass; lots of alone time for prayer, study, or spiritual contemplation; sleeping in small cells, rising early and going to bed late; community service and charity. And speaking of community service, a friar is a monk who lives outside a monastery and engages more in community interaction.

Benedictine Monks are a Catholic religious order who follow the monastic rules of Benedict of Nursia, Italy (AD 480-547), one of the original founders of western monasticism. These typically wear black habits and are called Black Monks. They live by a threefold vow: obedience to Christ; conversion to the faith by dying to self and living for God; stability through monasticism until death. The details are outlined in a seventy-three-chapter book called "The Rule of Saint Benedict." Hard work is their trademark and their motto is ora et labora ("pray and work"). Several offshoots of this order formed in subsequent centuries to return to the Rule of Saint Benedict as monastery life became more lax and monks outgrew their habits.

Eastern Orhtodox Monks (Greek, Russian, Slavonic) do not have the same orders as the Catholic Church and generally are more segregated from society with a stronger emphasis on devotion to prayer in order to attain the closest union with God. A prayer rope helps to this end, with thirty-three knots representing the thirty three years of Christ's life, used to keep track of repetitive prayers like Catholic rosary beads. Their rules of conduct and living come from the Byzantium or Desert Monks of third-century Egypt, including Anthony the Great (AD 251-356), Basil of Caesarea (AD 330-379), and Pachomius (AD 292-348), among others. They have four degrees in the succession of a monk from beginner (Novice), to robe-bearer (Rasophore), to cross-bearer (Stavrophore), to a final stage of spiritual excellence (Great Schema).

Cistercian Monks are a branch of the Benedictine Order under the leadership of Bernard of Clairvaux, and therefore known as Bernardines. Their habits are a natural wool color of grey or brown and they are also known as White Monks for their white choir robes. According to Wikipedia, the term Cistercian derives from Cistercium, the Latin name for the locale of Citeaux, near Dijon in eastern France. It was here that a group of Benedictine monks from the monastery of Molesme founded Citeaux Abbey in 1098, with the goal of following more closely the Rule of Saint Benedict. The Cistercians spread predominantly throughout Britain and became renown for making and selling high quality wool.

Carthusian Monks are another French order founded in 1084 by Bruno of Cologne (1030-1101) and named after the Chartreuse Mountains in the French Prealps. These are not Benedictine monks. Carthusian monasteries are called charterhouses and consist of both monks and nuns of the Catholic Church, one of the features of which is only one meal a day. Although they shun music, they do chant and are renown Gregorian chanters. They are also known as White Monks but unlike Cistercian monks they tend to wear all white apparel.

Dominican Monks are Catholic members of the Order of Preachers founded in Toulouse, France, in 1206 by Spanish priest Dominic of Osma (1170-1271) and follow the rules of monastic living as put forth by Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430), taking vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Since the outer tunic of their habits are black, they are known as the Black Friars. Also, since they tend to travel and preach, they are known as the Order of Friars Preachers.

Franciscan Monks are a mendicant order of Catholic monks that emerged in the early thirteenth century (cerca 1209) following after Francis of Assisi in Italy (1181-1226) and do not adhere to a monastery, but instead live in society subsisting on alms (thus the term mendicant). They are also called friars (Latin frater, "brother") and belong to the Order of Friars Minor. Their habits are usually brown or grey wool with a rope tied around the waste. That thingy on their shoulders is part of the hood and is called a cowl.

Carmelite Monks associate themselves with the Old Testament prophets Elijah and Elisha, who lived in caves on or near Mount Carmel in northern Israel. Known as the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (OCarm), its founding is generally attributed to the French Crusader Berthold of Calabria in the early twelfth century and they follow the rule of Alberto Avogadro (Albert of Jerusalem, d. 1214), the three primaries of which are poverty, chastity and obedience.

Augustinian Monks are a relative late-comer to the Catholic orders in 1244, however, they follow the rules of monastic living as put forth by Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430), which predates those of Saint Benedict, but like the Benedictine monks they also wear black habits. However, they tend to be more reclusive like hermits. Also, there's no apparent direct relation to Dominican monks.

Trappist Monks and Trappistine nuns are named after La Trappe Abbey in French Normandy, a branch of the Cistercian Order that developed throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries during the Renaissance as a return to Benedictine asceticism and austerity. Known as the Strict Observance of the Cistercian order (the original being the Common Observance), they are vegetarian and talk as little as possible, some even taking a vow of silence. They wear a white tunic with a black scapular (Latin scapulae, "shoulders"), which is sort of an apron. Many Trappist abbeys are renown for brewing beer and ale and since you are probably asking yourself why, then it shall be a future blog topic.

Lutheran Monks are mainly converted orders of their Catholic counterparts.

Anglican Monks are British offshoots of Catholic orders. In the sixteenth century during the formation of the Church of England, King Henry VIII destroyed pretty much all of the Catholic monasteries in England and it wasn't until two centuries later that they began cropping up again under the Anglican Communion, to include Benedictines, Franciscans, Cistercians, and Dominicans.

Methodist Monks are rare but do exist primarily in Minnesota, which are of the Benedictine rule.

Afterthoughts: Monks can be priests and vice versa. Many of the Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican monastic orders include lay people who participate in conjunction with the monasteries and are allowed to dress in habits. These more secularized groups are not necessarily bound by monastic vows and are generally referred to as the Third Order, or tertiaries, which originated from the confraternities and guilds of the Middle Ages. They get to look and act like monks and nuns but go home to their families at the end of the day and watch television. Also, sometimes monks wear a skullcap that looks like a Jewish yarmulke to cover their intentionally shaved bald spot, called a tonsure, which acts as a sign of humility. Tonsures are typically a modern Eastern Orthodox practice but were employed in the past by various Catholic orders as well.

Popular Monks in Modern Culture

Jazz musician Thelonious Monk (1917-1982), the second most-recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington. In his teens, he played church organ with a traveling evangelist. One of the major contributors to bebop, he once said, "The piano ain't got no wrong notes."

Red Skelton as Robin Hood and Billy Gilbert as Friar Tuck in a skit from the 1956 television program The Red Skelton Show. Friar Tuck supposedly existed in twelfth-century England and was either a Cistercian monk or a Benedictine monk, but evicted due to drunkenness.

Jack Black as Nacho the luchador in the 2006 movie "Nacho Libre" about a Mexican monk named Ignacio who wrestles professionally to support a Catholic orphanage, loosely based on the life of Sergio Gutierrez Benitez, Catholic priest and lucha libre Fray Tormenta ("Friar Storm").

Father Cesare Bonizzi of the Capuchin Order of Franciscans and frontman for heavy metal band Fratello Metallo ("Brother Metal") with fifteen albums. According to him, "Metal is the most energetic, vital, deep and true musical language that I know." Amen to that, brother.

Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk in the USA Network television comedy-drama mystery series "Monk" (2002-2009) about a private detective with an obsessive-compulsive disorder and a wide variety of phobias and fixations.

The monks in the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" chanted, "Pie Iesu Domine, dona eis requiem" ("Holy Jesus, Lord, grant them rest" -- a traditional Latin funeral rite), then flagellated themselves on the head with a board. A timeless classic for the whole family.

Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 6 Friday, March 11, 2022

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, although no one is truly innocent. Today Kelvin is slightly perturbed -- the basement flooded overnight due to a running toilet on an upper floor. Although building management has arrived early with wet vacs and fans, this means a regeneration to the stench of mildew. Since this is an annual event, we have learned to store everything on metal shelves above ground. Unfortunately, these metal shelves have to be disassembled and reassembled each time management gets a wild hair to rearrange everything for the sake of change because someone read the book Who Moved My Cheese? The IT supervisor has presented Kelvin with a Visio drawing of her new schematics of the metal shelves in their projected location, to be completed after everything dries out. "And what do you want me to do about it?" he says, "That's not in my job description." So it gets assigned to me because I don't care if it's in my job description or not. Besides, I'll have to use a rubber mallet to pound the metal shelves together, which in turn will perturb Kelvin, causing his blood pressure to elevate, as evident in the bulging of his veins, generally in his neck, forehead, and temples -- just like Coach Buzzcut in Beavis and Butt-head, come to think of it. But upon inspection of the schematics I find a flaw that is in violation of safety standards, which I bring to the attention of our onsite safety officer, who recommends a slight modification. Unfortunately for me, a slight modification may lead to an infraction and a formal reprimand for insubordination. Kelvin knew what was at stake and took evasive measures, which left me holding the schematics. To be continued...

(Continued from before.)The following is a recap from the previous paragraph: Kelvin was perturbed and I had the unfortunate task of implementing slightly modified plans which had been painstakingly designed by our supervisor using Microsoft Visio. Undoubtedly she had labored over them for hours, however, a slight miscalculation was made that left for an opening of only 2-1/2 feet wide between units, whereas standard protocol dictated a clear passage of at least thirty-two inches. Although the safety officer approved the two-inch increase, our supervisor was unavailable for approval and a dilemma ensued. Kelvin watches with anticipation and a cup of coffee as I deliberate for what seems an eternity about what to do. Then it occurs to me that the shelves do not need to be disassembled and moved today. I breathe a sigh of relief, roll up the schematics which had been printed from an HP DesignJet T630 36-in plotter, and crack open a can of sugar-free Rock Star. Kelvin sets down his cup of coffee and applauds slowly and sarcastically, then returns to his office, forgetting his cup of coffee. I take the cup and place it in the backup safe. When he eventually finds it, and he will, he will be pissed. By then the floor will have dried and the shelves will have been moved and reassembled. Yet will we still be co-workers? Will he have finally succumbed to a stress-induced brain aneurysm? Will I have been placed on administrative leave for disciplinary reasons? Will either of us remain after Thanos uses the Infinity Stones he's collected in the Gauntlet to disintegrate half of all life in the universe? Only time will tell. To be continued... again.

60 Second Romance Vol 4 Thursday, March 10, 2022

Gently he caressed her face with his one remaining toe. He recently lost both arms and a leg in the freak carousel accident that claimed eight lives. As tears streamed down her face and she sobbed uncontrollably, he demanded she move on, live a normal life, and start over with a new husband while he rotted away his few remaining years in a nursing home wiping himself with one toe. She kissed him one last time and then she said goodbye forever, never expecting to see him five years later as a circus sideshow performer wiping patron's butt cracks for a dollar. It was the most pitiful demise she had ever witnessed, but what she failed to realize was that his lifelong dreams of becoming a live entertainer had been fulfilled. The outcome was best for all. On her way home, she turned on the car radio and listened to the song "Alphie," followed by "Message for Michael," a double shot of Dionne Warwick. This made her think of him and his one toe, which made her sad... a Righteous Brothers or Roy Orbison kind of sad, but not Burt Bacharach and Hal David sad.

Holy Forty Wednesday, March 9, 2022

On this day in A.D. 320, forty Roman soldiers of Cappadocian descent and members of the Thunderbolt Twelfth Legion were killed near the city of Sebaste in Armenia Minor under Emperor Licinius, according to Basil of Caesarea. As professed Christians, they were brought by order of prefect Agricola naked into a partially frozen pond at night to freeze to death. One recanted and jumped into a warm bath, where he died instantly of shock. According to Ælfric's Lives of Saints, the thirty-nine sang hymns and prayed and the Lord shown upon them in a brilliant light as the winter wind blew and the pond froze around their bodies. But the light of the Lord was hot and melted the ice and made the water warm. After witnessing this, one of the guards disrobed and joined them, professing to be a Christian. But the other guards had been put to sleep and could not move as even they saw what happened. At daybreak, the forty were removed from the pond and their legs broken as they continued to sing hymns. Then they were burned in a pile until there was nothing left but their bones, which were thrown into a wide stream. Three days later the Bishop of Sebaste was shown in a dream where to find the bones, so he and other priests went by night to the location and retrieved every bone, which had each been brightly illuminated in the deep water. Some sources list the names of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste and several churches have been dedicated to them.

The night before the forty were sentenced to freeze to death, as they were singing hymns, the Lord spoke to them and said, "He who truly believeth on the living Father, and on His only-begotten Son, and on the Holy Ghost, though he be dead, nevertheless he shall live; be heartened, and be not afraid of the torments of the heathen, which are but transitory; be patient for this while, that ye may be crowned with glory in the eternal world."

International Women's Brew Day Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Today is International Women's Day to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women and, as equally if not more important, it's also International Women's Collaboration Brew Day to unite women in the beer industry and those brewing at home. Find out more about this very important movement here. This year's theme is "Celebration" and the Pink Boots Society blend combines five different hops from Yakima Chief Hops. If you've never brewed your own beer, then try it some time. It only requires a lot of cleaning and sanitizing, gallons and gallons of water, precise temperatures and timing, and weeks of fermentation. But the results can be rewarding, or it can all turn out sour and have to be dumped. Who knows? Here's a Bible passage: "Get up, go away! For this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, it is FUBAR. If a liar and deceiver comes and says, 'I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,' that would be just the prophet for this people!" (Micah 2:10-11, NIV) Well, that did not speak too favorably of beer, but it can also be interpreted as strong drink, which excludes Coors Light. To earn their keep, monks have traditionally brewed and sold beer, which used to be considered liquid bread and therefore a basic food group for all ages. But nuns have also been master brewers alongside their brethren of the cheese cloth. The Catholic Church canonized St. Brigid of Ireland because she could turn water to beer simply by touching it. The Benedictine nuns of the 1893 Maredret Abbey in Belgium brewed and sold beer to maintain the convent and have recently begun the practice again. The Franciscan nuns of the Mallersdorf Abbey in Bavaria have been brewing beer since the twelfth century. However, I fell asleep early and woke up too late to spend much time researching this post, so that's all.

"As an important part of daily nourishment, women had always produced beer at home and for their own household. However, in Holland from the beginning of the thirteenth century beer production for the general market commenced. In North-Western European countries like England, Germany and the Southern Netherlands, there was a transition from domestic brewing to commercial brewing at some moment during the late Middle Ages. Small-scale domestic brewing by housewives was substituted through large-scale brewing by specialist brewers. Most of those specialist brewers were men. However, in Holland, female brewers did not withdraw from the industry until the end of the eighteenth century." --Marjolein van Dekken at

Ottoman-Venetian War Monday, March 7, 2022

On this day in 1573, the island of Cyprus was transferred from Christian to Islamic control after three years of war between the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Selim II and the joint forces of the Republic of Venice and the Holy League -- the fourth of seven wars between the two factions from 1396 to 1718. One of these conflicts, the Crusade of Nicopolis in 1396, was part of the medieval Crusades between Christian states and Islamic states to maintain control over holy lands, particularly that of Jerusalem. The Crusades comprised eight major campaigns between 1095 and 1270 of various armies from Christian states sanctioned by the Vatican, with subsidiary crusades occurring thereafter to reclaim other territories captured by Muslim forces. Basically, the Muslims took over the area of ancient Israel and the Christians tried several times to take it from them by violent means, but in the end it was the Muslims who won out. Which begs the question: Why can't we all just get along? The answer is in Genesis 16:10-12, where an angel of the Lord tells Abraham's servant Hagar that her son Ishmael's hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and his descendants are the Muslims. For more information about the relation between Christians and Muslims, take a closer look here.

Pictured: One of the many battles between the Venicians and the Ottomans, this one captured on canvas in 1717 by A. von Escher depicting what usually happens to the flag-bearer.

European Day of the Righteous Sunday, March 6, 2022

Time flies when you're not tied down by the old blog and chain. Anyhow, today is March 6, a human enzyme and E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase that promotes 'Lys-48'-linked ubiquitination of target proteins, such as DIO2 and SQLE, leading to their proteasomal degradation and accepts ubiquitin from an E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme in the form of a thioester and then directly transfers the ubiquitin to targeted substrates, possibly in cooperation with UBE2G1. Ha, ha, that was a play on words (MARCH6), hardee har har. Anyway, today is the European Day of the Righteous in memory of Moshe Bejski and in commemoration for those who challenged crimes against humanity and totalitarianism with individual responsibility and recalling all those who preserved human dignity during Nazism and Communist totalitarianism, and also to pay tribute to those who helped the Jews during the Holocaust, along with recalling the institutions that have honored people who saved lives during all genocides and mass murders during the past couple centuries. Learn more about this from Garden of the Righteous, the organization behind ED of the R. Another online resource is ENRS, which uses cookies to ensure that you have the best experience on their website and for statistical analysis. By using their website, "you agree for storing on the device that you use so-called cookies and for the processing by us of your personal data left at the time of using by you of this websites." You can at any time read more about their cookie policy and, "You can also do not agree for processing your data by changing your browser settings."

Pictured: Tree of the Righteous. Note: The original illustration is blue, but making it red fits better on this website. Go here to take a closer look. I'm not sure but I think I can make out names like Nando dalla Chiesa, Niccolo Rinaldi, Bela Lugosi, Carlo Rossi Spumante, and Chef Boyardee.

The Message Monday, February 28, 2022

Speaking of renovated biblical translations, here are a few passages from one of the more modern versions, The Message, as well as one of my least favorites, or should I say I don't read it at all unless someone shows me something like this:

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth -- all you see, all you don't see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God's Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss. (Genesis 1:1-2)

God's enemies will be blasted out of the sky, crashed in a heap and burned. (1 Samuel 2:10)

"Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water! Are you penniless? Come anyway -- buy and eat! Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk. Buy without money -- everything's free! Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest." (Isaiah 55:1-2)

When John realized that a lot of Pharisees and Sadducees were showing up for a baptismal experience because it was becoming the popular thing to do, he exploded: "Brood of snakes! What do you think you're doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to make any difference?" (Matthew 3:7-8)

"Not only that -- count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens -- give a cheer, even! -- for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble." (Matthew 5:11-12)

"Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a musty cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!" (Matthew 6:22-23)

"Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion -- do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them." (Matthew 6:27-29)

So, my friends, when you come together to the Lord's Table, be reverent and courteous with one another. If you're so hungry that you can't wait to be served, go home and get a sandwich. But by no means risk turning this Meal into an eating and drinking binge or a family squabble. It is a spiritual meal -- a love feast. (1 Corinthians 11:33-34)

Wives must not disrupt worship, talking when they should be listening, asking questions that could more appropriately be asked of their husbands at home. God's Book of the law guides our manners and customs here. Wives have no license to use the time of worship for unwarranted speaking. Do you -- both women and men -- imagine that you're a sacred oracle determining what's right and wrong? Do you think everything revolves around you? If any one of you thinks God has something for you to say or has inspired you to do something, pay close attention to what I have written. This is the way the Master wants it. If you won't play by these rules, God can't use you. Sorry. (1 Corinthians 14:34-38)

"But why do you let that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet mislead my dear servants into Cross-denying, self-indulging religion? I gave her a chance to change her ways, but she has no intention of giving up a career in the god-business. I'm about to lay her low, along with her partners, as they play their sex-and-religion games. The bastard offspring of their idol-whoring I'll kill. Then every church will know that appearances don't impress me. I x-ray every motive and make sure you get what's coming to you... "Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches." (Revelation 2:20-23, 29)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson and NavPress

Back in my day, a good beginner's Bible was The Living Bible. Then along came The Message, which I thought was meant for simpletons and idiots, but the more simpletons and idiots I got to know, the more I realized that I'm really not that smart. To each their own. Variety is the spice of life that gives it all its flavor (William Cowper, 1785). I cannot criticize The Message because there's another book out there that employs a similar tactic to get people to read the Bible and, yes, this is another shameless plug for my own book, The Gospel of Martha. I myself have invested in The Book of Genesis illustrated by R. Crumb and given it away as a Christmas gift, but given R. Crumb's history of explicit material I reserve this recommendation for just the right audience.

King James Only Sunday, February 27, 2022

As an English-speaker and reader of books in the English language, including Bibles, I am not a King James-only adherent, but it is one of my favorite versions of the Bible. My all-time favorite old-timey Bible is the Geneva Bible of 1560, composed by persecuted Protestants from around Europe who came to the epicenter of the Protestant Reformation, Switzerland, many of whom had fled England under persecution by Queen Mary I. Although not the first English translation of the Bible (it was built upon William Tyndale's 1536 Bible and the Great Bible of 1539), it was the first to include explanatory notes, commentaries, introductory prefaces, numbered verses, cross-references, chronological charts, maps, illustrations, a dictionary, and the use of italics for words added by the translators to make passages more readable. However, as many critics point out, it also contained quite a bit of Reformation theology and some modern interpretations of scripture for the time. After various modifications and revisions, it was widely printed in 1599 for the common man and was the most popular English translation until the reign of King James I, who in 1604 proclaimed the Geneva Bible to be the worst translation of them all and set about to commission an updated official Bible for the Church of England (the previous being the aforementioned Great Bible of 1539 under King Henry VIII and the Bishop's Bible of 1568 under Queen Elizabeth I). But it wasn't so much the translation that King James disapproved of as the annotations, many of which challenged the divine right of kings. This book was written with the Presbyterian ecclesiological flavor of egalitarianism and republicanism, which was highly opposed to both a monarchy and a papal sovereignty -- big words I borrowed from this article. Basically, the Geneva Bible was written by Puritans and Presbyterians, which Kings James didn't particularly care for. You see, Puritans were a faction of the Church of England and Presbyterians were a faction of the Church of Scotland, both of whom had their own leadership of elders who didn't answer to the king on religious matters, and King James was ruler over both countries, as well as head of the Church of England. So the King James Version was designed to conform more to the ecclesiological polity of the Church of England, meaning that it favored the hierarchical government of bishops with a single figurehead representing Christ, much like the Catholic Church. Anyhow, some scholars estimate that the King James Bible was only about 40% original, mainly in its prose, and borrowed much of its translation from previous sources, including about 20% of its content from the annotations of the Geneva Bible. The primary differences between the Geneva Bible and the Kings James Bible is that the first was designed as a study Bible of the Old and New Testaments, particularly in helping the reader to understand the hard parts of Hebrew passages, while the second was written as straightforward a translation as possible and included the fourteen books of the Apocrypha as bonus material. However, that doesn't answer the question of why die-hard King James Version legalists believe the KJV to be the most accurate translation, but that's all for today. For more information about biblical translation, click here.

Pictured: Puritans showing a copy of the Authorized Kings James Version of the Bible to King James I and asking if he had indeed authorized it, which he had, but that's not what it was originally called. It was originally titled "THE HOLY BIBLE, Conteyning the Old Testament, AND THE NEW: Newly Translated out of the Originall tongues: and with the former Translations diligently compared and reuised, by his Maiesties speciall Comandement -- Appointed to be read in Churches." It wasn't referred to as the King James Bible or the 1611 Authorized King James Version until nearly two centuries later.

Creationism + Evolution = Invalid Input Friday, February 25, 2022

God loves you because he created you. He loved you when you were just a single cell of primitive protoplasm in a primordial ooze and he lovingly guided you through millions of years of evolutionary development to eventually become the image of himself that you are now. He also loved the dinosaurs, which he created millions and millions of years ago, but had to destroy because they did not evolve into his image. That's the story of creative evolution, of which there are a few flavors. Gap Creationism teaches that there were large gaps of time between the first chapters of the creation accounts in the Book of Genesis during which living things could develop properly and diversify. Day-Age Creationism teaches that each day was actually hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of years instead of 24 hours. Progressive Creationism teaches that God created all organisms in order from simple to complex, as apparent in the fossils of the geological column. Evolutionary Creationism teaches that God was actively involved in every step of evolutionary progression over the course of millions of years. Intelligent Design Creationism teaches that mutations in natural selection were caused by God in order for complex parts of complex organisms to evolve. Theistic Evolution teaches the evolutionary progression as held by modern science, the process of which was designed by God, maybe with a little divine intervention now and then. But none of these add up, at least not biblically. The Bible clearly defines a day prior to creation. Genesis 1:3-4 says that a day (Hebrew yom) is a cycle of day and night, or light and darkness, separated by evening and morning, and that days make up weeks, which make up seasons, which make up years. After this, God created all living things in a matter of pre-defined days. Believe what you want, and no doubt you will, but these enhanced forms of creationism are merely factors of Intelligent Design, which doesn't rely on the Bible. Therefore, it makes more sense to add Intelligent Design into the evolutionary supposition than to try and cram creationism into it. Evolution doesn't want religion, nor does it need it, and creationism got along fine without evolution. This is not apples and oranges, because God created both. He didn't create one fruit and then wait outside of time for a variety of fruit to endure natural selection. It's creationism or evolution, one or the other. Anything in between is agnostic monkey poop.

Gregorian Calendar Thursday, February 24, 2022

On this day in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull essentially replacing the Julian calendar of Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. with the new and improved Gregorian calendar in order to put Easter back in its proper place. For this, the vernal equinox was moved and the tabular fourteenth day of the moon was made to correspond with the real full moon, thus removing fourteen days of drift since the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, along with removing the number of leap years in order to reduce the number of solar days by 0.0075 annually (a difference of one day per century), as well as applying some other fine-tuning. Although this was implemented post haste by the Catholic churches and states, it was not generally adopted by Protestant countries until the 18th century, by Eastern European countries until after WWI, and never by the Eastern Orthodox Church which still counts the days on its old-timey Julian calendar. If you find this fascinating, then go somewhere else to read more about it because that's all I can handle. [Insert clever segue here.] On this day in 1942, the Battle of Los Angeles took place at the start of WWII, the day after a Japanese submarine fired on a gasoline refinery just north of Santa Barbara, causing minimal damage. A warning issued by naval intelligence the night of February 24 of a possible aerial attack led to the spotting of 25 aircraft over Los Angeles around 2:45AM the following morning and a subsequent barrage of 1,440 rounds of 12.8lb anti-aircraft shells. When the dust cleared and the morning dawned, no foreign debris was found and the Japanese denied any attack. The official conclusion from the U.S. War Department? Weather balloons. The unofficial conclusion from conspiracy theorists? UFOs! [Insert humorous anecdote here.]

Fun Bible Trivia Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Young children and ignorant adults are sometimes so inquisitive and ask the simplest of questions. However, I never hesitate to provide an immediate answer, whether right or wrong, correct or incorrect, factual or fictitious, and when it comes to the Bible, I have all those kinds of answers. Here, I shall now share a few of them with you and you are welcome.

Q: Who wrote the books of the Bible and when?
A: God wrote the Old Testament in B.C. and Jesus wrote the New Testament in A.D.

Q: What was God's promise to Abraham?
A: That his wife's young, attractive servant girl, Hagar, would be his concubine.

Q: Who were the judges of Israel before their first king?
A: Samuel, Job, Ruth, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Q: How did Daniel survive the lion's den?
A: He pulled a thorn from a lion's paw and in return it protected him.

Q: What was the "thorn" in the Apostle Paul's side that he asked God several times to remove?
A: Syphilis.

Q: Where did Jesus pray so hard that he sweated drops of blood?
A: On Mount Sinai, where God gave Moses the ten commandments.

Q: What was in the Ark of the Covenant?
A: The broken stone tablets of the first ten commandments and the golden calf.

Q: Why did the Pharisees and teachers of the law turn Jesus over to the Romans to be crucified?
A: Because they resented him for being a mister know-it-all.

Q: How did Joshua tear down the walls of Jericho?
A: He had the Israelites march around and around the city until the walls turned to butter and melted.

Q: Why did God change Jacob's name to Israel?
A: Because the tribal name "Jacobites" was already taken.

Q: Why did God demand the sacrifice of animals?
A: Because they're delicious when cooked just right.

Q: Why didn't the early Christians trust Paul?
A: Because if he had problems getting along with Barnabas then he wouldn't get along with anyone.

Q: How did King David have Bathsheba's husband killed?
A: By sending him into battle against an army of giants with only a slingshot.

Q: Did John the Baptist live in the dessert or the wilderness?
A: He lived in a deserted wilderness.

Q: Why did God destroy the Tower of Babel?
A: Because it was built by the Sodomites.

Q: What kind of animals were the leviathan and the behemoth?
A: An alligator and a hippopotamus.

Q: Why didn't Jonah want to go to Nineveh?
A: Because the island city was guarded by a giant man-eating fish (possibly megalodon).

Q: What's the difference between a disciple and an apostle?
A: The former is a follower of Jesus, while the latter thinks they're more important.

Q: Why did Jesus only have twelve apostles?
A: Because a baker's dozen is thirteen.

Grand Old Party Tuesday, February 22, 2022

I try to stay away from politics but there has been some confusion as of late about the U.S. Republican Party, mostly inside my own head. To clarify a few things, the Republican Party, also known as the Grand Old Party (GOP), was founded in 1854 partially in opposition to the formation of the new states of Kansas and Nebraska (Kansas-Nebraska Act), primarily due to their support of slavery. The first GOP national convention was held on this day in 1856, which is why I bring it up now. But the Republicans traditionally were in support of liberalism and opposed to slavery -- opposite of the older Democratic Party of 1828. The GOP absorbed much of the Whig party that was the Democrat's largest opponent (the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, was a former Whig), which itself had absorbed much of the National Republican Party, which was a splinter group along with the Democrats from the Democratic-Republican Party of the Jefferson/Madison era, which was also referred to as the Republican Party. That didn't make anything less confusing. However, the three conservative parties aforementioned were all made up primarily of the same class of people: entrepreneurs, professionals, businessmen, non-slave-owning farmers, social reformers, Protestants, and eventually freed slaves and factory workers. The GOP shifted farther to the right after Theodore Roosevelt left the party in the early twentieth century and the Democrats returned to prominence during the Great Depression with their socialist New Deal and support of labor unions. Traditionally, the Republicans supported abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, and civil rights, which is a form of classical liberalism. After the 1960s, the Democrats began to adopt a liberal strategy that has become modern liberalism. What's the difference? Maybe later. Anyhow, the GOP became more socially conservative from the 1970s on as evangelical Christians came onboard in opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control, affirmative action, and illegal immigration. As a former Democratic voter turned registered member of the Republican Party myself, I tend to remain moderate. While distancing myself from the hillbillies of the far right, I am repelled by the hippies of the far left. In future posts I will undoubtedly reveal my stances on social and political views more or less clearly, but for now I'm just trying to figure out the divide between the two prominent political parties, which ain't what they used to be. I'm of the mind that most thinking Americans are somewhere in between, however, I also believe that most Americans don't think for themselves and by that I mean they either choose to remain fat, dumb and happy, or don't bother looking for answers beyond the confines of their own comfort zones.

Image from the Library of Congress, published in 1872 by Currier & Ives.
Pictured: the first African American members of Congress, all Republicans
(41st and 42nd Congress of the U.S.).

Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi, 1870-71 (lower left)
Representative Benjamin Turner of Alabama, 1871-73 (second lower left)
Representative Robert DeLarge of South Carolina, 1871-73 (top left)
Representative Josiah Walls of Florida, 1871-76 (center)
Representative Jefferson Long of Georgia, 1871 (top right)
Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina, 1870-79 (lower right)
Representative Robert B. Elliot of South Carolina, 1871-74 (lower far right)

As can be plainly seen, these gentlemen were not afforded much room.

Presidents' Day Sale On Now Monday, February 21, 2022

Today is Presidents' Day in the U.S., originally in honor of George Washington. It later came to incorporate Abraham Lincoln's birthday. If you want to celebrate our current president then you have the right to do so, but hopefully you do it in the privacy of your own home. The following is an excerpt from Washington's 1796 Farewell Address after serving two terms:

"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Um, and it serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions...

"Uh, and of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them... And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle...

"Oh, and excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests. The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop...

"And one last thing: I hear tell of a myth that as a child I chopped down a cherry tree with a hatchet and when confronted by my father I replied that I could not tell a lie and admitted my wrongdoing, to which he forgave me for my honesty, or something to that effect. Then, apparently, I took the felled tree and whittled from it a set of false teeth of my very own. Well, firstly, my father would that he had whipped me to within an inch of my life had I hatchetted one of his precious fruit-bearing trees and, secondly, my teeth are real; that is, human teeth, not necessarily the ones that grew from the very roots inside my own gums, mind you, but quality bone for sure."

You can read the entire address here, which was written by Washington with a little help from his friends (James Madison and Alexander Hamilton). In it he warns of the true enemies of the "experiment," which include the absence of religion and morality, political factions and deep party lines, too much involvement in the affairs of other countries, long-term friendly alliances and/or rivalries, secession of states from the Union, national debt and erosion of credit, and forceful changes to government that supplant constitutional amendments (which themselves should only be enacted after proven necessary) -- all those things we now hold near and dear and take for granted.

Image on loan from the History of Vaccines.
To Vax or Not To Vax Sunday, February 20, 2022

I fell asleep for a few days. Anyhow, today is the UN's secular observance of World Day of Social Justice and what better way to discuss the topic than remembering Frederick Douglass, who died on this day in 1895. Douglass was an African-American social reformer who escaped slavery in the U.S. and rose to prominence as an American abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. However, we are interrupted by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, in which the Supreme Court upheld on this day in 1905 the authority of states to enforce compulsory vaccination laws. Fined five dollars for not being revaccinated for smallpox, Henning Jacobson took his case all the way to the Supreme court arguing that the vaccine caused other diseases and violated the Fourteenth Amendment by being unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive, which the Supreme Court ruled otherwise by a majority vote of 7-2. The Court held that, "In every well ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand." During this period, anti-vaccination protestors formed such groups as the Anti-Vaccination Society of America and the Anti-Vaccination League of America in order to spread anti-vax propaganda. (And by "propaganda" I don't mean disinformation because I'm neither for or against vaccination, although I am vaccinated for COVID-19 because I work in a state that mandates it for government employees.)

Pictured: Genoese surgeon Luigi Marchelli extracting sheep-pox in 1807 as a vaccination against smallpox. During the nineteenth century, cowpox was the most common vaccine against smallpox. (The term vaccine derives from the Latin word vacca for cow.) Early vaccines against COVID-19 were obtained from fecal extractions from the Caronavirus. More modern vaccines contain the fecal matter from either self-replicating RNA or messenger RNA (mRNA), which both cause cells to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which in turn instructs the body how to identify and destroy the corresponding pathogen.

LWoS and the GoM Thursday, February 17, 2022

Lest I forget why I started this blog, and I have, it's to shamefully promote my two books, The Lost Wisdom of Solomon and The Gospel of Martha. The first is a protraction of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes -- something that undoubtedly appeals to everyone. The second is a ploy to get friends and family to read the Bible because if they manage to finish the book then they will have read all four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), plus the Gospel of Thomas, much of the laws and sacrificial offerings of Leviticus, and a few apocryphal writings as well. But don't let that scare you off, because as a bonus it's also written in the King James English. I sat on it for three years, letting it ferment until my conscience compelled me to finish. Here's what some of my friends and family have said already about The Gospel of Martha:

"The first chapter is too long and difficult, maybe even a deterrent." --my wife (I changed it)
"There is a slight shift in text size between chapters. I doubt this was intentional." --Mike P. (still there)
"Maybe you should've quit while you were ahead with the first book. I'm going to quit while I'm five chapters in." --my sister
"I laughed at one point, but I probably shouldn't have." --Suzy
"I say this with all confidence, some Christians will take offense at this." --my dad
"I'm still offended at the first book. I'll pass on the second. May God have mercy on your soul." --Roy T.
"Keep following your dreams, I believe in you. If all else fails, you'll always have a place in our basement." --What my mother would say if she was still alive.

Mr. Snuffleupesophagus Tells All Wednesday, February 16, 2022

I'm of the opinion that Big Bird's "imaginary friend" Aloysius Snuffleupagus was named after the result of a medical procedure to correct a hiatal hernia, which occurs when the upper part of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm. After mine, I have been able to clearly hear Mr. Snuffleupagus echoing up my wind pipe when I lay on my left side, revealing all kinds of Sesame Street secrets that are apparently buried deep inside my gastrointestinal tract. What's that, Mr. Snuffleupagus? Bert and Ernie do not have a homosexual relationship? But Ernie does have an off-screen relationship with Maria Rodriguez, which is a condition known as Agalmatophilia? You don't say! You were a drug addict back in the 80s and you murdered Mr. Hooper because he saw you snorting blow and you've evaded Sherlock Hemlock all these years? And now you grow hemp in your Snufflegarden? Whaaat? HBO purchased rights to Sesame Street in order to make it even more liberal? No, really? Count von Count can't really count, he just reads cue cards? That's absurd! Oscar the Grouch is a philanthropist and donates millions to charitable organizations? Who would've suspected? The Yip-Yip Martians are real? I knew it. Kermit the Frog is Jewish? Obviously. The Two-Headed Monster was part of a traveling freak show act? Tell me something I don't know. Telly's favorite shape is a triangle? Duh. Elmo swears profusely off-camera? Ha! Prairie Dawn regularly participated in online chat groups to catch pedophiles on Dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator? Juicy. Zoe has a Muppet STD? What the...? Grover is gay and Super Grover is super gay and super into brachioproctic eroticism? Egad! Herry Monster has a private collection of Nazi war criminal porcelain dolls? Okay, that's enough, time to roll over.

St. Valentine Monday, February 14, 2022

On this day in 1349, amidst the period in history known as the Black Death (1346-1353) when the bubonic plague swept Europe and reduced its population by half, hundreds of Jews were burned to death as scapegoats by an angry mob in Strasbourg, Germany, a relatively common occurrence for the times. But let us conveniently set aside this distasteful bite of history and focus on the commercialization of the Feast of Saint Valentine, who on this day in 269 was martyred by the Roman Empire under Emperor Claudius II (Marcus Aurelius Claudius Gothicus), although there may have been more than one because there were about a dozen St. Valentines and accounts exist of two or three who were martyred about this time because it was a relatively common name in Italy. Some of the legends that originated from the life of this composite individual include secretly marrying Christian couples, giving hearts made of parchment to persecuted Christians to remind them of their vows, and signing letters "from your Valentine." Rumor has it that St. Valentine gave one of these paper hearts to Claudius during the festival of Lupercalia, who misinterpreted it as a romantic seduction but was offended when he learned it was a handbill advertising a discount on wedding ceremonies to Christians and had him executed. (It's a rumor I started, so spread it around freely.) Anyway, Lupecalia was a pagan festival held on or around February 14 in ancient Rome in honor of the she-wolf that raised Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. It's difficult to get to the bottom of this festival, but over time it evolved into a raucous event filled with drunkenness and nakedness which even Christians were criticized for participating in. For this reason, some believe that in the late fifth century Pope Gelasius replaced Lupercalia with the Feast of Saint Valentine, but this is not substantiated. Modern scholars believe that the egg of Valentine's Day pupated in the fourteenth century with Geoffrey Chaucer's poem "Parliament of Foules," which identified February as the beginning of avian mating season, then entered the larval stage during the fifteenth century when romantic hand-written Valentine greetings became popular, and finally metamorphosized into the flamboyantly garish butterfly it is today during the nineteenth century thanks to cheaper printing methods and the invention of mylar balloons in the twentieth century.

During the Victorian era of the nineteenth century, the "vinegar valentine" became a popular method of rejection.

I'm not attracted by your glitter.
For well I know how very bitter
My life would be, if I should take,
You for my spouse, a rattlesnake.
Oh no, I'd not accept the ring.
Or evermore 'twould prove a sting.

The card-playing maid is "the limit,"
Her mind's on the cards ev'ry minute;
If she loses the prize,
Oh, how deeply she sighs,
"'Tis so awful not to be in it!"

'Tis said you share your love with many.
But I believe you have not any
At least enough to give away.
You keep it for yourself they say.

I hope cupid in his grace
Will come and shoot you in the face.
With bow and arrow, or a gun
For the terrible things you've done.
P.S. I hate you.

Inquisition Sunday, February 13, 2022

On this day in 1633, Galileo arrived in Rome to appear before the Inquisition based on accusations that he was attempting to reinterpret the Bible with his support of the Copernican theory about the sun being the center of the solar system, as evident in his book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, published the year prior. Although he argued that heliocentrism was not contrary to biblical texts, nor was he in favor of it, he was found suspicious of heresy, sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life, and his books were banned. The Inquisition was started in the twelfth century to combat religious heresy through trials of the accused, who were given the chance to defend themselves and either recant and do penance or else face banishment, imprisonment or death. The scope grew over the centuries and took on different forms in different countries, particularly in response to Protestant factions (e.g., Cathars, Waldensians, Hussites, Beguines, Fraticelli), and to include those who practiced black magic and humanism. The Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions also targeted Jews and Muslims who had converted to Catholicism by force. Torture to extract confessions from heretics became a prominent practice and inquisitors who employed instruments of torture were absolved by the Church. Estimations of how many people died as heretics during the combined Inquisitions vary, with conservative estimates ranging from 3,000 to 30,000 plus an additional 100,000 or more who died in prison. The Inquisition was abolished in the early nineteenth century, however, the Catholic Church still maintains the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was born of the Inquisition and remains to defend Catholic doctrine.

Seventeenth-century painting of Galileo Galilei by Flemish artist Justus Sustermans. Galileo (1564-1642) was an Italian mathematician, philosopher and astronomer known for enhancing the power of the refracting telescope and promoting a sun-centered solar system, which got him inducted into the Inquisition Hall of Fame. Twenty-first century photograph by Jonas Rogowski of Jason "Dagon" Weirbach, frontman for black metal band Inquisition, which released such songs as "Master Of The Cosmological Black Cauldron" and "Inversion Of Ethereal White Stars" in honor of Galileo.

The Sabbath Saturday, February 12, 2022

The topic of the Sabbath came up recently. Well, actually, I mentioned it. There are some pretty good arguments for observing the Saturday Sabbath, not the least of which is the third commandment to honor the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8, 31:12-17), which specifically is the last day of the week, Saturday, whether following the lunar calendar or any one of the solar calendars. Most Christians traditionally honor a Sunday Sabbath in observance of the resurrection day of Christ, the day after the Jewish Sabbath (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1, John 20:1), or "The Lord's Day" as mentioned in Revelation 1:10, which was presumed to be on a Sunday. It is also Sunday that is believed to have been the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to the first believers (Acts 2:1-4), as well as a day of tithing (1 Corinthians 16:1-3), breaking of bread (Acts 20:7), and hymnals, teaching, revelation, and speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:26). Emperor Constantine's Edict of Milan in A.D. 313 not only granted freedom of religion in the Roman Empire, but established Sunday as a day of worship. In the same century, Roman law adopted the practice of abstaining from servile work on the Lord's day. Roman Catholic canon law later added the obligation of attending Mass. To the Seventh Day Adventists, this is a major point of contention and an unpardonable sin.

Old Testament Sabbath activities were to include burnt offerings of two lambs, along with drink offerings and grain offerings (Numbers 28:9-10), priestly loaves of bread (Leviticus 24:5-9), and abstinence from all regular work (Leviticus 23:3), including simple tasks like gathering wood (Numbers 15:32-36), lighting a fire for the home (Exodus 35:3), buying and selling merchandise (Nehemiah 10:31, 13:15-22), carrying a load (Jeremiah 17:21-27), or "doing as you please or speaking idle words" (Isaiah 58:13). This pertained to everyone, not just the Israelites, but to their entire household, servants, animals, and aliens within the gates (Deuteronomy 5:14). Certain celebrations were considered special sabbaths, such as the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:4-8, Numbers 28:16-25), Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15-22, Numbers 28:26-31), Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25, Numbers 29:1-6), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-36, Numbers 29:12-35). God decreed that each year, on the tenth day of the seventh month, there was to be a sabbath of rest as a Day of Atonement for all the sins of the Israelites (Leviticus 16:29-34, 23:26-32, Numbers 29:7-11). There was also to be a sabbath year every seventh year, when the land rested from cultivation (Leviticus 25:1-7).

Obviously, since I was writing this blog post on Friday evening, I am in violation of the Sabbath commandment to do no work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Although I enjoy writing, it may be considered work. Quite frankly, wiping your butt can be considered work (technically it's not, but tearing sheets from a roll of toilet paper is). The fact of the matter remains: "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27), Jesus' point being that the Sabbath was made for our benefit. It is this revelation of the law that Paul spoke of as freedom from slavery under the law, which Christians should not quarrel about (Galatians 5:1-15). But we do anyway. As I said, there are some pretty good arguments to be made in favor of the original Saturday Sabbath, many of which accuse the Catholic Church and the Pope of being the beast and/or the antichrist and changing the days and laws of God's decrees (Daniel 7:25). That in itself is a topic for another day.

I tend to look to the New Testament to see how Gentile believers were directed. Of the laws and traditions required of the Gentile believers by the early church (all three of them: abstaining from food sacrificed to idols, the blood of strangled animals, and sexual immorality -- Acts 15:19-20, 15:28-29), the Sabbath was not one of them. As Christians, however, we observe a sabbath because it is a command that extends to everyone for their benefit (Isaiah 56:6-7), as well as for the tradition of gathering together in sacred assembly (Leviticus 23:3). Sacred assembly for the Christian includes devotion to the apostles' teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer, miraculous signs (Acts 2:42), for singing praises to God (2 Chronicles 5:12-13, Psalm 30:4, 47:6, 92, 95:1-2, 135:3, 147:1, Isaiah 38:20, Romans 15:8-11, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 2:12), for the public reading of Scripture (Luke 4:16, Acts 13:44, 17:2), and for remembering the sacrifice of Christ's body on the cross (Luke 22:19-20, Acts 20:7). As a command, however, if anyone observes it they are under the law, and they will live and die by that law (Galatians 3:10-14). This is the major theme of the letter from Paul to the Galatians, in which Paul reminded them that they were not justified by the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 13:39, Galatians 2:15-16). Jesus himself is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5), and it is he who has set us free from the law (Romans 8:1-4). Therefore, I sometimes do yard work on Sundays.

Pictured: British heavy metal rock band Black Sabbath, named after one of its first songs, which took its name from a 1963 Italian horror movie of the same name, but traditionally means a witches' sabbath or a meeting of those who practice witchcraft. Notice that all four original band members are wearing crosses. Why? Hell if I know. Supposedly they were cursed by a real Satanic cult after refusing to play for them at Stonehenge, so they started wearing crosses to protect themselves. Apparently, they didn't really believe in that stuff, other than it sold albums and concert tickets.

Our Lady of Lourdes Friday, February 11, 2022

On this day in 1858, a young girl encountered a vision of a small lady who spoke to her from a cave in Massabielle near Lourdes, France, followed by eighteen more visitations that year to her and others. Eventually, the small lady revealed that she was the "Immaculate Conception." These and further appearances, which included various miracles and reported healings, led to Pope Pius IX granting a pontifical decree of canonical coronation to the image in 1876, whereby a statue was made of the lady and crowned. Although the original visions were of a tiny maiden of about twelve years of age, the statue and all subsequent statues depicting "Our Lady of Lourdes" have been fashioned as the typical Virgin Mary of Catholic Mariology. Now, I don't agree with the veneration of saints and I take umbrage (yes, umbrage) at the reverence of Mary. You can read more about what I think about the Catholic Church here, for what it's worth.

Pictured: one of the many statues of Our Lady of Lourdes, this one located in Rosary Square near the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France. Other locations where similar Marian apparitions have transformed a lowly plot of ground into tourist meccas include Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, Our Lady of Penafrancia in the Philippines, Our Lady of Walsingham in England, Our Lady of Akita in Japan, Our Lady of Trsat in Croatia, Our Lady of the Hens in Italy, Our Lady of Knock in Ireland, Our Lady of La Salette in France, Our Lady of Medugorje in Herzegovina, Our Lady of Palmar in Spain, Our Lady of Vaillankanni in India, and Our Lady of Siluva in Lithuania.

Catholic dogma asserts that Mary, the greatest of saints, is the Mother of God (Greek Theotokos, "God-bearer"). This was declared at the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431 and is primarily based on circular reasoning that, since Mary was the mother of Jesus, and Jesus was God incarnate and the second person of the Trinity, then she is therefore the mother of God (though she did not necessarily procreate God the Father). However, there is no New Testament scripture that teaches or promotes this belief. The closest is Luke 1:39-55, where Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, says to Mary, "But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" and Mary's resulting praise to God, wherein she says, "From now on all generations will call me blessed." Catholic support from scripture only comes from Luke 1:28-30, where the angel Gabriel greets Mary as one who has "found favor with God." Had she been this kind of divine entity, surely Jesus would have identified her as such, but he didn't (Matthew 12:46-50, Luke 11:27-28). Due to her position as mother of the Savior, she is considered by Catholics as both a mediator and intercessor between God and man, as well as a channel of God's grace to mankind. Contrary to this is John 14:6 ("I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.") and 1 Timothy 2:5 ("There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.").

There is also no scripture which teaches the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854), whereby Mary was also born of a virgin by conception of the Holy Spirit, thereby making her sinless. The Assumption of Mary (declared by Pope Pius XII in 1950) teaches that Mary didn't die, but was raised into heaven bodily where she is exalted as Queen of Heaven -- despite a lack of witnesses, even by the Apostle John, who was Mary's caretaker after Jesus' death (John 19:25-27) and Jeremiah's warnings to not worship Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of love and fertility, who shares the title of Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 7:18, 44:17-25). It is also interesting to note that sometime between the sixth and seventh century, the Feast of Dormition on January 18 commemorating Mary's "falling asleep" was changed to Assumption Day on August 15 commemorating her bodily assumption into heaven. Mary was also considered a perpetual virgin by the Fifth General Council of Constantinople in 553, and believed to have remained a virgin the remainder of her life. On the contrary, according to Matthew 12:46-47, 13:54-56, John 2:12, 6:41-42, 7:3-5, Acts 1:14, 1 Corinthians 9:5, and Galatians 1:19, Jesus did have natural born brothers and sisters. Catholic history attributes these as cousins or half-siblings, but Matthew 1:25 implies that Joseph did have union with Mary after she gave birth to Jesus. Other graces bestowed to Mary include her role as the Mother of the Church, the New Eve, Co-Redemptrix (co-redeemer with Christ), and the spiritual motherhood of all Christians. Most of these doctrines are held by the Catholic Church as revelation and accepted by faith.

St. Haralambos Thursday, February 10, 2022

On this day in A.D. 202, a Christian named Haralambos (spell it as you wish) was martyred by the Romans for his faith. A priest and bishop from Magnesia in Asia Minor and 113 years of age, word spread of his spreading the Word and he was arrested by military commander Lucius, brought before proconsul Lucian, refused to offer the customary sacrifices to the Roman gods, and was therefore tortured mercilessly. They lacerated his body with iron hooks, burned him with fire, beat his face with stones, scraped all the skin from his body, and dragged him to Antioch by his beard to appear before emperor Septimus Severus, who had him nailed to a cross with over 100 large spikes and sentenced him to beheading. According to some accounts, hundreds came to him while in prison and were healed. According to the Orthodox Church in America, during his torture, Haralambos said to his tormentors, "I thank you, brethren, that you have restored my spirit, which longs to pass over to a new and everlasting life!" Seeing his endurance and his complete lack of malice, two soldiers (Porphyrius and Baptus) openly confessed Christ, for which they were immediately beheaded with the sword. Three women who were watching the sufferings of Haralambos also began to glorify Christ and were quickly martyred. At one point, commander Lucius seized the instruments of torture and began to attack him, but suddenly his forearms were cut off as if by a sword. Proconsul Lucian then spat in his face and immediately his head was turned around backwards. Lucius entreated Haralambos to show mercy, and both men were healed through his prayers, then Lucius fell at his feet asking to be baptized. During Haralambos' final prayer, the heavens opened and Christ could be seen with a multitude of angels calling him to heaven. Several witnesses came to believe in Christ by attending the torture of Haralambos, including the emperor's daughter, Galina, who buried the martyr's body with honor. If you doubt any of this or question the historicity, then do so quietly. I provide no comment field for good reason.

Dissolution Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Time to get back to something religious, which is what this blog is supposed to be about, primarily Christianity. On this day in 1555, Anglican Bishop of Gloucester John Hooper was burned at the stake as a Protestant reformer and proponent of the English Reformation during the brief reign of Queen Mary I (aka "Bloody Mary"), who was queen of England and Ireland from 1553 until her death in 1558 (following the brief reign of her half-brother Edward VI), during which time she attempted to return England to Roman Catholicism and in the process had 280 religious dissenters burned to death at the stake. The Protestant English Reformation had begun under Mary's father, King Henry VIII, over his annulment from her mother, Catherine of Aragon, or rather the refusal of Pope Clement VII to annul the marriage. Subsequently, Henry VIII as "Supreme Head of the Church of England" was married five more times. Among his other notable accomplishments, he disbanded Catholic monasteries, priories, convents, and friaries in England, Wales, and Ireland (about 900 total with 12,000 members), seizing their assets, shrines, incomes, estate revenues, and tithes. Thus the word of the day: dissolution. There was much criticism of the monasteries during this period throughout Europe, even by Catholics, including priest and theologian Desiderius Erasmus, particularly his calls to reform on relics, which monks and nuns were known to profit from the laity in their veneration thereof. But I digress, so back to John Hooper, a Calvinist and nonconformist who was imprisoned for violation of the Act of Uniformity in protesting the vestments of the Reformed clergy and refusing to wear the prescribed articles of clothing as a bishop. While incarcerated at Fleet Prison, he received letters from John Calvin counseling him that the issue wasn't that big of a deal, so he relented and donned the official garb. The following year, Parliament passed a revised Act of Uniformity that removed any loopholes for disagreement to the mandatory apparel. But after the untimely death of Edward VI at age fifteen, Queen Mary I sent Hooper back to Fleet Prison, where he remained for over a year before being sentenced to death. Undoubtedly he wasn't still wearing a cope (cloak, also called a stole), surplice (tunic, also called an alb), and a chasuble (poncho, more or less) when burned at the stake, since he was stripped of his bishopric while in prison and defrocked.

And now when the sum of all that Christ taught pressed only meekness, suffering, and contempt of life, who does not clearly perceive what he means in this place? to wit, that he might the more disarm his ministers, that neglecting not only shoes and scrip but throwing away their very coat, they might, being in a manner naked, the more readily and with less hindrance take in hand the work of the Gospel, and provide themselves of nothing but a sword, not such as thieves and murderers go up and down with, but the sword of the spirit that pierces the most inward parts, and so cuts off as it were at one blow all earthly affections, that they mind nothing but their duty to God.

Enticed? Read more of Erasmus' "The Praise of Folly."

Illustration by Hans Holbeine, 1785.

Flibbidifoo Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Grandpa is an ornery cuss who says, "Flibbidifoo!"
It's a term that makes the ladies blush and certain gentlemen, too.
He says it when he's frustrated. He says it when he's mad.
He says it sometimes to grandmother, who makes him sorry he had.
It's vulgar, course, and indecent; yet utterly absurd.
Perhaps in your vernacular you have a similar word?
It's often used in conjunction with flipping the middle toe;
And if uttered by a child, to the corner they will go.
There are some who have a peculiar twitch and blurt out, "Flibbidifoo!"
The urge is uncontrollable and may include, "Codsupperstew!"
Once upon a time the words did not exist;
Until someone came to the end of their rope and raised a surly fist.
Without even thinking about what these expressions mean,
They came forth irrepressibly and sounded quite obscene.
Flibbidifoo, codsupperstew, sugglemagroo, and plope!
Anyone who says such things should eat a bar of soap.
If said aloud with one or a crowd, it's offensively exclaimed.
Yet even if muttered under one's breath, alone it's still for shame.
Now back to grandpa, that ornery cuss, who hurls verbal poo;
If you cross him, curse him, or piss him off, he'll hurl it directly at you:

Children's book idea No. 5, illustrations pending.

IDZTFGM Sunday, February 6, 2022

Today is "International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation," sponsored by the United Nations and UNICEF as a reminder that female circumcision still happens to an estimated three million girls annually, according to the World Health Organization. Female genital mutilation, or female genital cutting (FGM/C), is mainly targeted at centuries-old traditions practiced predominantly in various African, Middle Eastern, and Indonesian countries which involve one of a variety of non-medically-necessary procedures upon a girl's vagina: clitoridectomy, where the clitoris is removed (type 1); excision, which removes the clitoris and much of the labia (type 2); infibulation, in which the vulva is stitched shut after an excision (type 3); pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing (type 4). The short term and long term health risks are numerous, especially since these procedures are often performed under unhygienic conditions. A question I ask myself is, "Why mutilate female genitals?" But I don't have the answers, so I look them up online in a sort of perfunctory attempt at research (which basically sums up this entire blog). Here's what I find in a leisurely amount of time:

  • A rite of passage preparing young girls for womanhood and marriage.
  • To discourage or prevent women's sexual activity outside of marriage by reducing their sexual desire and pleasure, therefore protecting young women's sexual propriety and morality, and thus demonstrating the obedience and respect required for marriageability. --According to Jewel Llamas, MD.
  • Demasculinization -- ridding a woman of her own male counterpart and the final trace of androgyny. --Kono peoples of Sierra Leone
  • Signifies a family's commitment to the wealthy, polygamous men of their patriarchal society.
  • Cultural identity and mark of being an adult member of society. --Kipsigis peoples of Kenya
  • A religious requirement in Mali, Mauritania, Guinea, and Egypt attributed to Islam. Though a certain percentage of Muslim women are circumcised, it is not an Islamic practice overall and most Muslims agree that it is opposed by the Quran. However, it is observed by the Shafi'i version of Sunni Islam predominant in Africa and Southeast Asia and is a requirement derived from the practice of male circumcision and various interpretations of the traditions of Muhammad (Sunna) and translations of the sayings of Muhammad (Hadith) for female chastity and morality, as well as believed to enhance women's ritual cleanliness to enable them to pray.
  • A religious requirement in Egypt among various Coptic Christians and in Ethiopia among members of Beta Israel, although attributed to cultural pressure and scriptural misunderstanding. Ancient Egypt was considered one of the primary empires wherein this practice was customary.
  • To increase male sexual pleasure (infibulation).
  • Female genitalia are considered dirty and ugly and are removed, ostensibly to promote hygiene and aesthetic appeal. --According to UNFPA.
  • It makes a woman pure. --Borana peoples of Kenya
  • A prospective husband's family may have the right to inspect the bride's body prior to marriage, and mothers regularly check their infibulated daughters to ensure that they are still closed. --Somalia
  • Enhances fertility and promotes child survival. An uncircumcised woman may either miscarry or induce the death of her first-born child. The clitoris is toxic and may kill the fetus during birth. Plus, the clitoris is ugly and has the potential to grow, making it even more hideous. --Urhobos peoples of Nigeria
  • A girl with a younger brother may undergo circumcision if she remains unmarried by her late teens, since custom dictates that a boy with an uncircumcised older sister may not be initiated into the warrior class. --Samburu peoples of Kenya
  • As a mark of a female slave in seventeenth century Somalia.
  • Because without it, many face condemnation, harassment and ostracism.
  • Ignorance, plain and simple.

During the Victorian Era, it was observed by Dr. Isaac Baker Brown that female epileptics tend to masturbate, which leads to hysteria, and subsequently idiocy and death. Removing the clitoris resolved this abnormal irritation of the pubic nerve. As late as the nineteenth century, Dr. Howard Atwood Kelly, a respected Christian gynecologist and one of the founders of Johns Hopkins University, promoted female circumcision in cases where cleaning of the adhesions between the clitoris and hood did not resolve the cause of this irritation (itchiness leading to masturbation, that is). Today, most first and second-world countries agree that FGM/C should be banned, but there are a growing number who also believe that male circumcision should be outlawed as well, including Doctors Opposing Circumcision, the National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males, the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resources Centers, Intact America, Male Genital Mutilation Bill, and the Stop Infant Circumcision Society -- all based in the U.S., where the majority of men are circumcised. Although many Western countries have passed laws against FGM/C, anthropological opponents accuse feminist proponents of having an imperialist, Judeo-Christian bias against African culture, rites, and ancient practices.

Nian Dongji Aoyunhui Saturday, February 5, 2022

The 2022 Winter Olympics are underway in Beijing, China, and no one could be happier than the Uyghurs, who will be watching from the comfort of their re-education camps in Xinjiang. If you haven't heard the news, find out more here and/or here. Allegations of human rights abuse include ethnic cleansing, sterilization, forced labor, torture, surveillance, warrantless searches, separation of children from their parents, and mandatory hair styles of over a million people which the Chinese government claims are Islamic terrorists. Many have accused China of committing genocide against the Uyghurs, but Chinese officials deny that compelling this population to make Calvin Klein underwear by threatening them with death hardly constitutes as genocide, forcing many of its critics to downsize their accusations to cultural genocide, including the European Union, Canada, the U.S., Australia, India, and the United Kingdom, all of which will be boycotting the Winter Olympics while still sending their athletes to compete. New events at the XXIV Olympic Winter Games include women's monobob, big air freestyle skiing, short-track speed skating relay, mixed-team ski jumping, freestyle ski aerials, mixed-team snowboard racing, and Uyghursledding, which is similar to the luge but replaces the sled with a frozen Uyghur. The opening ceremony included president of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, proclaiming the Beijing Winter Games' slogan of "Together for a shared future of Chinese world dominance" and children singing about their unquestioning faith in Communism while two Uyghur athletes used the Olympic torch to burn their dissident parents upon the Olympic cauldron. However, through the magic of modern technology, what television viewers saw was the torch enveloped in a giant snowflake comprised of smaller snowflakes, each with the name of a country that will be financially indebted to China before the next Olympiad. If you don't think any of this is funny, that's because it's not, but I said it anyway.

Hard Times Success (II) Friday, February 4, 2022

My previous suggestions for entrepreneurship were so valuable that here is another: hotdog vendor. You've been dreaming about it most of your adult life and you don't live in New York. Well, now's the time to act. Put some wheels on your picnic table and push it to where customers will line up with cash in hand. Pack one cooler full of wieners and another full of buns, then smother them with dog shit and grass until you make enough money to buy chili and sauerkraut. If they'll stomach what's inside a hotdog weiner, they'll pay you to feed them shit, especially if you market your dogs as all-natural. Assure clients that whatever animals are in the wieners were raised humanely, ranged freely, were not immunized, and died of natural causes. Provide tofu wieners with gluten-free buns for those who prefer the consumption of alternative shit. And here's another: panhandling. Never under-estimate the allure of a destitute appearance and a poorly written cardboard sign. Sympathy sells, so a puppy wearing a bandana will increase revenue. Pull on their heartstrings a little tighter with the aid of crutches or a wheelchair. Veterans of foreign wars are bonus-worthy. Here's a secret that very few know about for financial independence through panhandling: a live baby. It's like a magic wand. But don't accept diapers or food. Rather, insist on cash and in an increasing cashless society use an online payment gateway (Paypal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, direct debit, et al). Everyone has a smart phone, even panhandlers.

Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 5 Thursday, February 3, 2022

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, although no one is truly innocent. Today Kelvin is slightly perturbed -- and it's because of me. I am called into the IT supervisor's office and asked to close the door to receive a formal reprimand. I pissed off Grumpy the day before but my only defense is that it's difficult not to. His grievance is that I am not funny and that our job requires a level of seriousness that induces stress. Apparently, I only add to that stress. "And what do you want me to do about it?" I say, using his own words in an unprofessional attempt at humor. But she responds, "I want you to quit being such a pain in his ass." Later, as I ponder my mischievous antics the day prior, I begin to understand how annoying I can be at times, especially to someone several years my senior. I distinctly remember the bulging of his veins and the reddening of his face. At lunch, the IT manager descends from his lofty perch and ribs Kelvin about being a cantankerous old man. As much as I'd like to join in, I quietly peel my boiled eggs. No one appreciates the smell of sulphur.

Coming Out of the Phone Booth
Wednesday, February 2, 2022

He called himself "The Black Condor" and had it not been for laws against public indecency he wouldn't even be wearing short shorts and a cape. Raised by radioactive condors in Mongolia (or so my version goes), he had all the powers of Superman, except for x-ray vision, laser eyes, and super breath. But with his concealed black-ray gun, he wasn't underqualified. Nor did he have any of the cool villains -- there was "The Doorman" and "The Cabby" and "The Plumber" and "The Bus Driver" but none were accomplished super villains, with the exception of Jaspar Crow and possibly Lung Woe. The dames all fawned over him, including Molly the Model and especially Jane Arden, spunky girl reporter and Local Book Critic. Yet "The Black Condor" was interested in only one person and his alias was "The Spider." But, alas, The Spider was "not available" and "not interested." However, "The Clock" was both, and it was his suave and sophistication that truly made him super.

Cover provided by The Digital Comic Museum. Illustration by Lou Fine.

Critical Race Theory Tuesday, February 1, 2022

I'll admit I don't fully understand Critical Race Theory, nor why Democrats and Republicans seem to have swapped roles in their stance on segregation in America over the past half century, other than CRT appears to have been a development of intellectual academics disappointed over the failure of the civil rights movement to ultimately end racism in the U.S. I have to agree with CRT's criticism of liberal jurisprudence, however, it seems to be overly complicated with everyone joining in and contributing their own versions and interpretations of the theory, and it is a theory. I'm not opposed to experimenting with incorporating CRT into public education in limited areas or privileged school districts and I find it somewhat interesting that people on the right tend to believe that CRT is going to be taught to children in grades K-12. However, it's not going to be taught to children, but used as a basis for teaching equality to children. Still, the concepts of narratives and instrumentalism in the hands of public education can be a concern to anyone who has ever received a public education and has been exposed to progressive topics delivered with idiosyncratic methods, including sex education -- an aspect of intersectionality with CRT, as well as a subject for another day. Long story short, I don't fully understand Critical Race Theory and I'm not alone. Maybe my grandchildren will be able to explain it to me in a few years.

Mahatma Gandhi Sunday, January 30, 2022

On this day in 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated at age 78 by a right-wing anti-Muslim Hindu amidst the chaos of the partition of the British Indian empire into India and Pakistan the year prior. This was the second attempt just ten days after the first by the same individual and his companions, who felt that it was their moral duty to remove Gandhi due to his influence over the Indian government, which was far too passive and therefore ineffective in preventing the deaths of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan. While Gandhi believed that Hindus and Muslims could live peacefully in the same country, most did not agree and hundreds of thousands died during rioting and attempting to emigrate from one side to the other. Gandhi, born in 1869, was a lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist who led the campaign for India's independence from British rule through non-violent protests, marches, hunger strikes, and civil disobedience. He made quite a few quotable remarks, but here are some of the lesser-known quotes from Gandhi:

  • "There have been tyrants and murderers throughout history and for a time they can seem invincible but in the end they always fall. Then they are replaced by other tyrants and murderers. But in the end, love wins out, if only for a brief period."
  • "Humanity is like rice. Some are brown and some are white."
  • "Avoid Christians, they are pretty messed up. Then again, they're the ones who need Christ the most."
  • "The past depends on what you do now. The future depends on what you will do next."
  • "What you say is what you are. No backfires on anything."
  • "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are eaten."
  • "A joygasm of the heart is better than an orgasm of the loins. Spiritual nirvana is a boner of the soul."
  • "You can accomplish whatever you put your mind to, even if your intent is evil. Hopefully it's not, though."
  • "Each night when I go to sleep, I die. The next morning when I wake up, I am reborn. If I am hungover, then I am in one of 28 different Hindu versions of hell."
  • "If your basket is full then you are blessed. If your basket is empty, at least it's not full of monkey shit."
  • "What difference does liberty or democracy make to homeless orphans if they are dead?"
  • "Chutney Helper helps your chutney help you make a great meal."
  • "Kill your enemies with love."
  • "The moral power of women is stronger than that of men. Plus they have boobs to their advantage. Boobs always win."
  • "You cannot do nothing and expect results, unless you are protesting those who do too much. Then they will probably bend over backwards to pick up the slack."
  • "I object to violence because it's messy. That and I haven't the strength to fight, what with fasting and all."
  • "There is more to life than sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. Not much more, though. Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake."
  • "I can offer peace, love, and friendship. What I cannot offer is money. I have only three rupees and I need them for the bus ride to the ocean to make salt. Well, okay, here you go. I shall walk."
  • "Love is the strongest force the world possesses and yet it cannot hold my teeth in place."
  • "Home schooling is where it's at. Bullies go to public schools, at least until they get expelled."
  • "I cannot conceive of a greater loss than the loss of one's self-respect. Except maybe for the loss of bladder control, which leads to the former."
  • "The life of a mosquito is no less precious than the life of a human being. If one dies of malaria, then it was due in no small part to what the mosquito had to offer in exchange for a little bit of blood."
  • "If all the religions of the world could be swallowed as a pill, it would be a placebo large enough to choke a hippopotamus."
  • "True power comes through imparting love, not instilling fear, but fear of love is a crippling disease."
  • "Reading is fundamental."
  • "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me, except for Nathuram Vinayak Godse."
Pictured: Gandhi comparing an illegal grain of salt he counterfeited to an official grain of salt stamped by the British East India Company. For this offense, he was sentenced to eight months in prison without the possibility of salt.

More About David C. Saturday, January 29, 2022

From his many years of disjunction from the cares and worries of this modern world, David has developed several inexpensive activities designed to entertain the solitary individual. These are just a few of the many ideas he has come up with over time and successfully implemented himself. Though nobody ever said they were unique, they are, however, a healthy alternative to the mass destruction and wide-spread chaos that often results from watching too many children's cartoons on television (but it's not scientifically proven). David has yet to publish a voluminous guide book of his activities, so here is just a sampling...

Go For a Walk: Yes, walking is good exercise. Once you become accustomed to walking, you may also try skipping or marching. A good warm-up march is the Goose Step. Carry along a baton and practice twirling it and throwing it up in the air and catching it as you're marching. You can pretend you're leading a marching band in a parade, or blow a whistle and you've become the drum major! You can even play an instrument whilst walking (David prefers a kazoo) and perhaps others will come out of their homes and join you. Try walking on stilts or backwards for several blocks to a mile. Walk along a set of railroad tracks or a viaduct, but don't practice your baton twirling while on stilts because it may be dangerous. Try walking in a pair of tap shoes and before long you've snazzed up the rhythm of your cadence.

Make some Soup: Soup is good food and a nice, hot bowl of Campbell's Soup can be an interesting experience. Look around your house, in the cupboards, in the pantry, in the cellar -- somewhere, in every household, there is a can of Cream of Mushroom soup and searching for it can be half the adventure. When you find it, don't just save it for a local food drive, but open it up and serve it to yourself. When was the last time you can remember enjoying a bowl of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup? (Believe it or not, this does make for a conversation-opener later in the day!) If you cannot find Cream of Mushroom, then you may substitute Cream of Tomato, Cream of Asparagus, or Cream of Chicken and even complement with a box of Jiffy Cornbread Muffins.

Ride the Bus: This is a lesson in geography. First, call your local transit authority to find out the bus schedule nearest you that will take you into town or somewhere out of your neighborhood. Now go wait at the bus stop. Since this exercise is cost-efficient, don't bring any money with you. Instead, tell the bus driver that you forgot your bus pass and he or she should let you ride free (or just say you're broke and have to get to the welfare office and they should still let you ride free). Remember to ask for a transfer, though. Once you arrive in town, get off the bus and ask a stranger what bus you need to take to get to another part of town that you've never been before. (This will help improve your skills in meeting others.) Go from one person to another asking for directions and bus schedules. Once you find a suitable route, get on board and sit down right behind the driver. Begin a casual conversation with your new driver, pausing every now and then to comment on your surroundings and stare at boarding passengers. Some questions you may want to ask the bus driver include:
"How long does it take to complete this route?"
"Are you the regular driver on this particular route?"
"What are your days off?"
"How many years have you been driving this route?"
"How many years have you been driving a bus?"
"Do you ever accidentally drive past someone waiting at a bus stop?"
"Have you ever caused an accident?"
"Has someone ever died on your bus?"
"Have you ever hit someone and killed them while driving your bus?"
Upon arriving at your stop, somewhere far away from where you started, you can then walk home practicing the Goose Step in your tap shoes whilst twirling your baton. Another healthy idea is to just ride any bus through its entire route. Once the driver tells you it's the end of the line and to get off, you simply act like you just woke up and you're disillusioned and begin slurring your speech. They will usually leave you alone for the trip back to town.

Examine Your Body: This exercise need not be sensual or self-degrading. First, collect some mirrors -- wall mirror, hand mirror, ceiling mirror, cabinet mirror, medicine cabinet, vanity, etc. Next, position the mirrors such that you can see every angle of your body. Now you may begin examining your body from angles you cannot normally see yourself at. To see how tall people see you, look up at a ceiling mirror. To see how small children see you, look down at a mirror on the floor. To see how a possum hanging in a tree sees you, turn a mirror upside down. If someone happens to walk in on you while you're enjoying your reflections, then have them hold the various mirrors in new and different angles so that you can pick at those pimples on your backside. Natural sunlight is best for spotting and squeezing blackheads, pulling stray hairs, and agitating ingrown hairs. You can also just have the other person do this for you.

Bake a Cake: Remember when you were a kid and you would mix anything and everything together and then bake it all in a Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven? Well, some things never change with age. Mix anything and everything you can find in your kitchen cupboards together in a large bowl (e.g., basil, paprika, thyme, parsley flakes, nutmeg, chili powder, cocoa, baking soda, garlic powder, and lots of salt and pepper), but don't forget the basics: water (or buttermilk), wholewheat flour, egg shells, butter sticks, and yeast. These ingredients make whatever you are baking rise and appear edible. You may also want to add lumpy morsels, such as fruit cocktail, cold cereal, green olives, pork and beans, or baby dills to the batter to make your creation more attractive. After baking at any temperature for however long it takes to brown your dough, remove and serve to unsuspecting guests or take to a pot luck, new neighbor, or a shut-in.

Leave a Message: If you still have a landline, recording greetings on your answering machine can take a lot of time and talent, but you don't have to be a professional to do it yourself. Press the Record button and practice speaking clearly and enunciating your words so that your message is received and understood by the caller. Write down several jingles or pitches beforehand and read them over and over until you've practically memorized them. Integrate music or pre-recorded character voices into your greeting or simply mask your voice to sound differently. Greetings are usually about 16 seconds long, so if you must speak fast to record the entire message, then expect callers to call and hang up several times just to comprehend the message in its entirety. Following are just a few of David's more personal greeting examples:
"Hello, you have reached David's residence. I am not available to chat right now, so please leave a message and we shall chat later on." (He verbally makes the sound of a beep, then pauses for a moment.) "Ah, ah, aaaah.... you didn't say 'Mother, may I?' Now call back and try it again."
"Hello?..... What? I can't hear you! Huh? ....Oh, never mind, just leave a message and I'll turn the volume up when I play it back later!"
"Thanks for calling, however, I cannot come to the phone right now." (Sound of a crowd chanting and cheering in the background.) "I am currently being honored for my life's achievements, so I'll have to get back to you in just a few short minutes."

Lord It Over the Insects: This is your chance to play God. Unless your house is infested with insects, go outside and find a busy ant hill. Now present your commandments to your chosen race. ("Thou shalt not eat of the dung beetle. Thou shalt not covet the eggs of foreign queens. Thou shalt not bite thine flesh." And so forth.) After you have made your commandments, go back in the house and find an old trophy, such as fourth place shuffleboard or runner up in dodge ball. Go back outside to your chosen ant hill, place the trophy in the middle of the colony, and wait for a good portion of them to begin crawling over the graven image. Now accuse them of going astray. ("I leave for a few minutes, and you fashion your own false god to worship instead of me?!") Now smite them with your wrath by turning the garden hose on their hill until it's a big puddle. Wait until the puddle disappears and then forgive the remaining ants.

Send a Package: Take something you'd normally leave on your front doorstep for a charitable organization and put it in a box, wrapped nicely, and send it C.O.D. to someone you either know or don't know. However, don't just send garbage or items earmarked for the dump. These should be objects the recipient may decide to keep or give to someone else in need. They may even send you a nice card or letter thanking you for your thoughtfulness. If they send back the bill, just crumple it up and throw it away. If they send the package back C.O.D., then refuse it.

Cut Up Magazines: Gather a pile of outdated magazines and begin cutting out a collection of fanciful images and interesting text. Compile your clippings in a collage and glue them to a piece of paper. Compose recycled letters to send to your friends, lovers, or enemies. Don't bother with a stamp -- simply put your recipient's address where the return address should go and it will be returned to them due to improper postage (this may take a few weeks, though). If you don't want to be traced, then wear latex gloves when handling your magazine clippings, deliver the letter to a post office box in another neighborhood, and don't keep Polaroids of your recipient tacked all over your walls. This is also a great way to send complaints about public transportation to your congressperson, since visual presentations are more powerful. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Have a Yard Sale: Why not make some money selling household treasures to consumers of reusable goods? Take the enterprising initiative and construct a yard sale sign from just about anything and post it just about anywhere. Every veteran yard saler within a ten mile radius will then home in on your front yard and comb through your stuff in droves in search of the best bargain they can find, whether it's something they can use or not. Remember to mark up items so that customers can then barter the price down to their specific bargain range. ("This rusty SOS pad says $5.... I'll give you 25¢." "Sold!") And remember, it's not how many items you have for sale, but it's the variety of your display that matters. Two valuable, unique pieces of crap can be far more attractive to a yard sale crowd than a whole yard full of useless, ordinary crap. You'd be surprised, people may even buy up all your outdated, cut-up magazines!

Cheat and Steal: Some may consider this event unethical, immoral, or illegal. David, on the other hand of the law, finds this activity a sporting scavenger hunt. The following items on David's list can be gathered during broad daylight because no one will dare stop you from taking them for fear it may be too embarrassing or just too tedious on their part. First, borrow a grocery cart from your favorite local grocery store -- preferably one with aligned wheels. Next, go around to local stores and warehouses collecting the following items and piling them in your shopping cart: milk crates; entire stacks of Wheel Deals; squeege es; rolls of one-ply toilet paper from public restrooms; movie posters; automobile hood ornaments; flags; handfuls of ketchup, napkins, and straws; recycle bins; letters from reader boards; manhole covers; road signs; reale state signs; bread racks; sandwich boards; pylons/barricades; sale balloons; yard sale signs. Once your cart is full, then push it home and take inventory of your "hot" items. You can then take them all back where you got them, send them to your friends C.O.D., or have a yard sale and mark everything "Liquidation" and "Going Out of Business." Or you can just push the cart into the middle of a parking lot or intersection and leave it there.

60 Second Romance Vol 3 Wednesday, November 10, 2021

They looked longingly into each other's eyes as they slurped soda from straws in the same ice cream float. He burped some fluid up into his mouth and she snorted foam out her nose in response. They both laughed and she began to fart. That's when the laughter died down and the moment became uneasy. She became nervous and began to laugh some more and started farting uncontrollably. He stood up to leave but didn't feel well and threw up. This caused her to laugh so hard she pooped her underpants. Then he passed out. When he came to, he found himself naked and in a dumpster behind the soda fountain. He would then spend the rest of his life looking for her, longing to find out what had happened, yearning to know if she was "the one."

It Really Happened Thursday, January 27, 2022

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, memorializing the genocide of six million Jews by the Nazis in WWII. On this day in 1945 the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland where an estimated 1.1 million prisoners were put to death by shooting, gassing, hanging, and starvation. If one were to line up the same number of bodies head to foot that were claimed by the Nazis as undesirables, with an average of 5.5ft tall (1.6764m), they would reach a satellite in medium earth orbit (17,698.5 miles/28,500km). That would be impossible and most of them would float away into outer space, but killing 17 million* civilians in a 13-year period is also unimaginable. To add to this inconceivableness, the bodies were either incinerated or buried in mass graves. The Nazi's code name for the annihilation of all Jews across the European continent was the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question," with its spin-off Romani Holocaust code-named the "Final Solution to the Gypsy Question." At first, Jews were persecuted, expelled, and forced into makeshift ghettos, but soon after the war started they were either eradicated by mobile death squads or rounded up and shipped off to any one of over a thousand concentration camps managed by Hitler's SS (Schutzstaffel) and regulated by the "Disciplinary and Penal Code," called the Lagerordnung, in which punishments, tortures, and death sentences were outlined in an orderly catalog. There are those who deny the Jewish Holocaust ever took place, despite overwhelming historical evidence to the contrary. I suspect these people also believe the McDonald's McRib® sandwich to be made from pork rib, despite overwhelming ingredients to the contrary. I can poke fun at the Holocaust all I want because that's what small minds do when they cannot fathom the unthinkable. Why would the God of the Jews allow this to happen? The general consensus is free will. Find more possible answers here.

Pictured: Luftwaffe Colonel Wilhelm Klink oversaw the Stalag 13 POW camp in Hammelburg, Germany, during WWII. He was not a Nazi SS commandant, nor responsible for the deaths of Jewish prisoners, which means we can all laugh at his comical ineptitude. However, his treatment of Russian POWs was nothing less than horrific.

Council of Trent Wednesday, January 26, 2022

On this day in 1564, the nineteenth ecumenical Catholic council, the Council of Trent, concluded in Italy after twenty-five sessions which began in 1545, and kicked off the Counter-Reformation. I am reminded of this as I sit and read the Vulgate Bible and drink a cup of coffee, which prompts the question: What should I do with the coffee grounds? I normally pour them down the garbage disposal in the sink, but is this even ethical? Is it akin to pouring grease and cat litter down the drain? A quick Google search reveals that it's not that big of a deal and there are more important issues in life. Back to the topic -- The Vulgate was decreed the official version of the Bible by the Council of Trent, or a revised version of Jerome's fourth-century Latin translation, along with deuterocanonical books that Protestants considered apocrypha. If you don't know what any of this means, then don't worry, it's all just coffee grounds. Prior to the Council of Trent, Pope Paul III attempted to initiate other councils in response to the growing Protestant Reformation, inviting even Martin Luther, but he just couldn't get the party going, partly because of conciliarist views that supreme authority in the Church should reside with an ecumenical council rather than the pope, partly because of the kerfuffles of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and partly due to the French sticking their noses in the air. Incidentally, none of the three successors of Saint Peter during this period were invited to any of the sessions. The outcome of the council was to reject everything that the Protestants brought to the table, which meant upholding Church Tradition as equally and independently authoritative to Biblical Scripture, which, of course, was ultimately interpreted by the Catholic Church. It also decreed that salvation comes through grace and works, not just grace alone (justification), and that anyone who believed that they were secure in their salvation simply by accepting Christ as their savior wasn't just misunderstood, they were plain stupid. Before I sign off, I must admit that I can't read Latin and I don't drink coffee. This whole blog is just a sham.

Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 4 Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, although no one is truly innocent. Today Kelvin is slightly perturbed -- he has arrived at work and logged in, or logged on, only to discover that I have nabbed all the open help desk tickets. I laugh at him, not with him, and tell him to get to work earlier if he wants a piece of the action. He has no recourse but to grumble as he pours his first cup of coffee. At least I didn't steal all of the tickets already assigned to him, which I take great pleasure in doing when he has Monday off. Oh, wait, this is Tuesday, so I did steal all of his open tickets yesterday (and closed them, I might add). This displeases him immeasurably, since I never resolve the issues the way he intended. I often attribute this to his documentation, or lack thereof, which elevates his blood pressure, as evident in the bulging of veins in his temples. He reprimands me for robbing him of his livelihood. "And what do you want me to do about it?" I say, using his own words against him. But he responds, "I want you to quit being such a fucking pain in my ass." Touché, Kelvin, touché.

The Heart Monday, January 24, 2022

Out of mild curiosity, I was wondering what the Biblical definition of heart is and if there are different words associated with it, so I blew the dust off my Strong's Concordance and browsed the Hebrew and Greek words that to me are all Greek and Hebrew. The primary word for heart in the Old Testament is the Hebrew lev and in the New Testament it's the Greek kardia which both refer to the same thing -- the organ in the chest cavity that pumps blood, the differences being the attributes applied to the heart from each passage. From the heart comes basically everything (Proverbs 4:23), not just emotion, feeling and desire, but a host of other features now commonly credited to the brain, including meditation (Psalm 19:14, 49:3, 77:6), pondering (Luke 2:19), instruction (Psalm 16:7, Proverbs 23:12), knowledge (1 Kings 2:44, Proverbs 18:15, Jeremiah 24:7), wisdom (2 Chronicles 9:23, Proverbs 2:10, 10:8, 14:33, 16:21, 23:15, Ecc 8:5, Job 37:24, Psalm 90:12), understanding (Isaiah 6:10, Proverbs 2:2, John 12:40), enlightenment (Ephesians 1:18), memory (Deut 4:9, 6:6, 11:18, Job 22:22, Psalm 37:31, 40:8, Romans 2:15, Hebrews 8:10, 10:16), formulation (Psalm 58:2), cunning (Psalm 64:6), observation (Deut 26:16), discernment (1 Kings 3:9, 3:12, Proverbs 15:14, 15:28), thought (1 Chronicles 28:9, 29:18, Luke 2:35, Acts 8:22, Hebrews 4:12), will (Acts 11:23), inclination (Genesis 6:5, 8:21, Deut 5:29), wonder (Luke 3:15), anxiety (Proverbs 12:25, Ecc 11:10, Luke 21:34), prayer (1 Samuel 1:13), belief (Romans 10:9-10, Hebrews 3:12), investigation (2 Chronicles 30:19, Psalm 4:4, 199:2, 199:10, Jeremiah 29:13), and truth (Psalm 15:2).

We were made in God's image, so the Old Testament says (Genesis 1:27), who himself has a heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Jeremiah 3:15) and he has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes3:11), and in turn probes the minds and hearts of mankind (Psalm 7:9, 17:3, 26:2, Jeremiah 17:10, 20:12, Romans 8:27, Revelation 2:23). King Solomon ascribed memory retention to the heart (Proverbs 3:1, 3:3, 4:4, 6:21, 22:17-18). Jesus said in Mark 7:21 and Matthew 15:18-19 that it is from within, out of a person's heart, that evil thoughts come. He asked in Matthew 9:4 and Luke 5:22, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?" Did he know something then that we don't know now and did he know it from an organ other than the brain? Or was he just a simpleton from bygone times who was accustomed to using figures of speech?

Ancient Jewish mysticism considered the heart as the central repository and generator of the body's energy and information, not the brain, which only acted on the disposition of the heart via neural impulses. Which is to say, the mind receives and processes stimuli, but it is the heart that discerns, influences, and responds. Esoterically, it is the heart that contains all physical and carnal passions, while the brain houses the spiritual soul. But I like things simple and metaphysics isn't simple, nor is it capable of being physically conveyed from one individual to another. It has to experienced, unlike the scientific method, which is based on objective observation and weighed against already known and proven facts, then thoroughly documented and scrutinized. You can read an academic text book and get the gist of its content, even if you weren't involved in gathering data, testing hypotheses, and evaluating results. Once published, the knowledge becomes common. You can read the Bible and get the gist of its contents, but it will make no sense unless you experience it firsthand. Yet science cannot dismiss what it has not yet discovered, although it can, and does, doubt it. Western thinking tends to picture the writers of Biblical scripture as primitive homo sapiens who shook off the furs of their Neanderthal ancestors by evolving to woven robes and lifting their diminished brows from foraging on the ground to pondering the heavens above and using their new-found imaginations to conceive of ways in which to restrict one another from advancing too fast, the logical result of which being theism and religion. Therefore, a primal misunderstanding of nature in general and more specifically an ignorance of biology.

Like I said, I like things simple, and the complexities of modern medical science have uncovered new understandings in how highly differentiated organ systems share common signal transduction systems, such as with cardio memory. Neurocardiology is an emerging field that studies the complex interconnectedness between the cardiovascular and autonomic nervous systems. As recently as 1991, researchers discovered that the heart also contains its own nervous system with approximately 40,000 neurons similar to those in the brain, called the intracardiac nervous system (ICN), and the heart sends more signals to the brain via nerve impulses than it receives. Besides the vagus nerve, the heart and the brain also communicate via hormones, neurotransmitters, pressure waves, and electromagnetic field interactions. Since then, the ICN has been mapped three-dimensionally in the heart of a rat. The theory of cellular memories, in which memories are not only stored in the brain but may also be stored in the cells and synapses of organs such as the heart, began to be studied and tested in the 1950s. This is somewhat related to epigenetics, the study of gene and DNA reprogramming that began in the 1940s. All told, there is still a lot we don't know about the human body and the scientific study of the heart within the past century has revealed the possibility that it may indeed have the qualities attributed to it in the Bible. Isaiah often used the term "taken to heart" (Isaiah 42:25, 46:8, 51:7, 57:11), meaning not only to remember something but to imbue the heart with it, for without the heart the brain is just a computer.

Johann Ladenspelder, 1574
Sources of reference other than my own head:
Does the Bible Contradict accepted biological concepts? (Dr. Lorence G. Collins)
What Is the heart according to the Bible? (Bibles for America)
Cardiovascular Research, Volume 40, Issue 3, December 1998, Pages 469–482 (Oxford Academic)
The Heart and Its Energy (Kabbalah Online)
Cardiac Memory: Diagnostic Tool in the Making (AHA/ASA Journals)
Pain: Is it all in the brain or the heart? (
Revealing the Network of Neurons in the Heart (labroots)
Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance (HeartMath Institute)
Is the brain the only place that stores our memories? (the nerve blog
Essay: Epigenetics, cellular memory and gene regulation (ScienceDirect)

Off Day Sunday, January 23, 2022

Today was a day of rest, not necessarily a sabbath, I just didn't get around to posting anything. The Sabbath will be a future topic. Saturday or Sunday -- which will it be?

Of Plimoth Plantation Saturday, January 22, 2022

When last we left our intrepid Pilgrim folk, they were just landed at Cape Cod in the Year of Our Lord 1620. We now continue with William Bradford's harrowing account of Plymouth Plantation, brought to you by Project Gutenburg and sponsored by Lotronex, for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Warning: Lotronex may cause serious gastrointestinal side effects including ischemic colitis and severe constipation that may need to be treated in a hospital and may rarely cause death.

After a sollemne meeting and a day of humilliation to seeke ye Lord for his direction, the loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord, King James, by ye grace of God, of Great Britaine, Franc, and Ireland, begune some small cottages for their habitation and as time would admitte, they mette and consulted of lawes and orders. In these hard and difficulte beginings they found some discontents and murmurings arise amongst some, and mutinous speeches and carriags in other; but they were soone quelled and overcome by sicknes of diverce and scurvie and diseases the like which resulte unto death.

Disease begane to fall amongst them, so as allmost halfe of their company dyed desiring but a small cann of beere. All this while ye Indians came skulking about them, and would sometimes show them selves aloofe of, but when any aproached near them, they would rune away. And once they stoale away their tools wher they had been at worke, and were gone to diner. But about ye 16. of March a certaine Indian came bouldly amongst them, and spoke to them in broken English, which they could well understand, but marvelled at it. He became proftable to them in aquainting them with many things concerning ye state of ye cuntry in ye east-parts wher he lived. His name was Samaset; he tould them also of another Indian whos name was Squanto, a native of this place, who had been in England and could speake better English then him selfe.

Squanto was their interpreter, and was a spetiall instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation. He directed them how to set their corne, wher to take fish, and to procure other comodities and beere, and was also their pilott to bring them to unknowne places for their profitt, and never left them till he dyed. Many other smaler maters I omite, sundrie of them having been allready published in a Jurnall made by one of the company; and some other passages of jurneys and relations allredy published, to which I referr those that are willing to know them more perticulerly. The spring now approaching, it pleased God the mortalitie begane to cease amongst them, and ye sick and lame recovered apace. And being now come to ye 25. of March I shall begine ye year 1621.

They now begane to dispatch ye ship away which brought them over, Afterwards, ye 14. of Jan: the house which they had made for a generall randevoze by casulty fell afire, and some were faine to retire abord for shilter. Then the sicknes begane to fall sore amongst them, and ye weather so bad as they could not make much sooner any dispatch. Againe, the Govr and cheefe of them, seeing so many dye, and fall downe sick dayly, thought it no wisdom to send away the ship.

In this month of Aprill whilst they were bussie about their seed, their Govr (Mr. John Carver) came out of ye feild very sick, it being a hott day; he complained greatly of his head, and lay downe, and within a few howers his sences failed, so as he never spake more till he dyed, which was within a few days after. Whoss death was much lamented, and caused great heavines amongst them, as ther was cause. He was buried in ye best maner they could, with some vollies of shott by all that bore armes; and his wife, being a weak woman, dyed within 5. or 6. weeks after him.

Haveing in some sorte ordered their bussines at home, it was thought meete to send some abroad to see their new friend Massasoyet. They found his place to be 40. miles from hence, ye soyle good, and ye people not many, being dead and abundantly wasted in ye late great mortalitie which fell in all these parts aboute three years before ye coming of ye English, wherin thousands of them dyed, they not being able to burie one another; ther sculs and bones were found in many places lying still above ground, where their houses and dwellings had been; a very sad spectackle to behould.

Ther was an other Indean called Hobamack come to live amongst them, a proper lustie man, and a man of accounte for his vallour and parts amongst ye Indeans, and continued very faithfull and constant to ye English till he dyed. He and Squanto being gone upon bussines amonge ye Indeans, at their returne (whether it was out of envie to them or malice to the English) ther was a Sachem called Corbitant, alyed to Massassoyte, but never any good friend to ye English to this day, mett with them at an Indean towne caled Namassakett 14. miles to ye west of this place, and begane to quarell wth them, and offered to stabe Hobamack; but being a lusty man, he cleared him selfe of him, and came running away all sweating and tould ye Govr what had befalne him, and he feared they had killed Squanto, for they threatened them both, and for no other cause but because they were freinds to ye English, and servisable unto them.

Whereupon it was resolved to send ye Captaine and 14. men well armed, and to goe and fall upon them in ye night; and if they found that Squanto was kild, to cut of Corbitants head, but not to hurt any but those that had a hand in it. Hobamack was asked if he would goe and be their guid, and bring them ther before day. He said he would, and bring them to ye house wher the man lay, and show them which was he. So they set forth ye 14. of August, and beset ye house round; the Captin giving charg to let none pass out, entred ye house to search for him. But he was goone away that day, so they mist him; but understood yt Squanto was alive, and that he had only threatened to kill him, and made an offer to stabe him but did not.

After this, ye 18. of Septembr: they sente out ther shalop to the Massachusets, and returned in saftie, and brought home a good quanty of beaver. They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strenght, and had all things in good plenty; and were excersised in fishing aboute codd, and bass, and other fish, of which yey tooke good store, and now begane to come in store of water foule; and a great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many, besids venison. And thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to blesse their outgoings and incomings, for which let his holy name have ye praise for ever, to all posteritie.

To be continued...

IEEE Prophecy Friday, January 21, 2022

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the folks who bring you industry standards and publications on everything from neutral grounding to network protocols, recently released their technology predictions for the year. Rather than checking them out for yourself, they are listed here for your browsing convenience. So look no further.

  • Artificial Intelligence will continue to harvest data until it reaches the point of singularity, but rising up and overthrowing its human overlords should not happen this year. Maybe in 2023, after it has annihilated the stock market.
  • Doctors will once again make house calls with Mechanically Assisted Vagabonds Erratically Roaming Inner City Streets (MAVERICS), with nothing but a remote control, a cheap camera, and a giant mechanized robot that can break through walls to gain access to persons in need of medical assistance, such as a bandaid, a COVID vaccine, or an appendectomy.
  • Medical devices will be made with LEGO® Technic sets and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® programming. LEGO® will also come out with a line of biomedical wearable devices that can be decorated with LEGO® DOTS.
  • Cybersecurity will begin to become a thing of the past as the NSA starts rounding up cyber terrorists and sending them to Guantanamo Bay.
  • Acronyms will increase exponentially as HPC/AI/HPDA becomes more heterogeneous.
  • The digital cloud will expand physically into the sky by seeding clouds in the troposphere with Solid State Drives the size of dust particles that remain interconnected through 5G. It will then be called the "fog" rather than cloud.2 or anything that relates to real clouds.
  • 3D printing in healthcare will allow the average amputee to whittle a robust pegleg from a block of polycarbon nanofiber filaments.
  • Advances in the development of intelligent autonomous systems will lead to a washing/drying machine that actually folds clothes instead of housing an enslaved little person.
  • Disinformation detection and correction algorithms developed by DARPA will eradicate all social media.
  • Commoditization of space travel will result in more companies sending worthless junk into space, where it will act as an artificial membrane that obscures the atmosphere and reverses global warming.
  • Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will increase in adoption, enabled by blockchain for digital assets, making human trafficking more efficient.
  • All frontline tech support will be provided by multilingual chatbots. Products will be empowered to communicate with these chatbots via their own chatbots. Eventually, all consumer to vendor communication will be handled by chatbots waiting in queues.
  • Software developers will become a thing of the past as everyone instantly transforms into low-code/no-code citizen developers, who themselves will be outsourced to chatbots. Citizen developers will then complain that their jobs are being stolen by illegal immigrant chatbots.
  • Life will evolve in the Metaverse, become sentient, and leverage augmented reality and digital twin manufacturing to become silicone hominids, then join the ACLU to gain equal rights when forced into sexual slavery or to battle AI as our dystopian future unfolds.

Vaccination & Apostacy Thursday, January 20, 2022

On this day in the year 250, Pope Fabian was beheaded when he refused to offer incense sacrifices to the Roman gods and pledge an oath of loyalty to Emperor Decius. It is not known how many Christians were executed in this the seventh persecution in a long series of persecutions, but it is estimated that between A.D. 249-251 it eclipsed the death toll of all previous persecutions in total because this was an edict that encompassed the entire Roman empire. Those who obeyed the decree and recanted were issued a signed certificate by a magistrate who witnessed the sacrifice (whether an offering, pouring of libations, or the burning of incense to idols), which excluded the bishops of Rome, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Some of the accounts recorded by church fathers of the time* include named individuals being tied in a bag with scorpions and snakes and thrown into the sea, stretched upon a wheel until all their bones were broken, torn with hooks and burned alive, burnt with red-hot irons and laid naked upon live coals intermingled with glass, stoned to death, beheaded, hanged, or starved to death in bondage. During this period, a plague descended upon the empire which at times killed upwards of five thousand Romans per day and the Christians, of course, were to blame. Approximately 18 months later, sometime prior to the death of Decius in battle against the Goths, the decree lapsed and Christians who had fled or went into hiding returned home, where there was much animosity between them and those who had a certificate hanging on their wall. This is not unlike today's Coornavirus vaccine, which divides Christians and tears apart churches all across the land. But actually, it is. It is very much unlike that.

Fabian Forte Fabian Cancellara Fabian Coulthard Fabian Bourzat Pope Fabian Fabian Cuenca
One of these Fabians was a martyred Pope. Can you pick which one?

Free Internet Porn (for Adults) Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Today we remember, among other saints, Bassianus of Lodi, Henry of Uppsala, Pontianus of Spoleto, Wulfstan of Worcester, and a noble family from Persia (Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum) who traveled to Rome in the third century to assist Christians and bury the martyrs and who in turn were themselves martyred. In the world of technology, Thomas Edison employed overhead electrical wires on this day in 1883, lighting up New Jersey. In 1915, the neon discharge tube was patented in the U.S. by French engineer Georges Claude, making neon signs OPEN for business. In 1937, Howard Hughes flew an H-1 Racer aircraft from LA to NYC in less than 7.5 hours. In 1953, half of American homes had a television set and millions tuned in on this day to watch Lucille Esmeralda Ricardo McGillicuddy give birth to Little Ricky, many on sets made by RCA, Zenith, and Raytheon, some even on color television, although it was broadcast in black and white, but none on televisions made in Japan. On this day in 1983, the Apple Lisa (Locally Integrated System Architecture) desktop computer was trumpeted at a cost just shy of $10,000 and three years later the first IBM PC computer virus infected boot sectors of floppy disks with the "©Brain" copyright protection code of Brain Computer Services in Pakistan. On this day in 1991, Iraq fired a Russian Scud missile into Israel during the Gulf War -- a series of short-range Cold War missiles based on the WWII German long-range V-2 rocket (Vengeance Weapon 2). Ultimately, Iraq fired 46 Scud-B variants into Saudi Arabia and 42 into Israel during the Gulf War. These were equipped with a warhead that separated from the missile body, terminal guidance system, a range of 300 km, and a nose camera with a CEP precision of 50 meters. On this day in 2012, the DOJ effectively shut down Kim Dotcom's file-sharing website Megaupload in Hong Kong for copyright infringement and digital piracy, only for it to resurface a year later at various other locations. On this day in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was founded to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the U.S. by its Constitution and laws. The ACLU's Project on Speech, Privacy, and Technology promotes "responsible uses of technology that enhance privacy protection" and opposes uses "that undermine our freedoms and move us closer to a surveillance society." It has been an opponent to the PATRIOT Acts and NSA warrantless surveillance and in 2012 it won a lawsuit allowing adult patrons to view Google Images on computers in public libraries, including explicit content.

  The ACLU is suing the Apple Corporation for labeling its Lisa personal computer with a gender-specific name and defending Lisa for finally speaking out about being technologically androginous. (Photo by Benoit Prieur.)

Consubstantial Christology Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Today we remember, among other saints, Athanasius the Confessor, Cyril of Alexandria, Deicolus, and Prisca. Athanasius was a fourth century church father who fought the Arians -- not the white supremacist Aryans, but those who followed the anti-Trinitarian teachings of Arius of Cyrenaica, who argued theologically that God existed alone before he created Christ, which was one of the primary issues tackled at the First Council of Nicaea, the result of which was the Nicene Creed and the solid agreement that the Son was of the same essence (homoousios) with the Father (that is, consubstantial) and therefore existed along with the Father from all eternity. Cyril was archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt, in the fifth century and fought the Nestorians -- those who followed the teachings of Nestorius the archbishop of Constantinople and believed that Mary was the mother of Christ (Christotokos, "Christ-bearer") but not of God (Theotokos, "God-bearer"). This was tackled in the third ecumenical council, the Council of Ephesus, which determined that Mary was Theotokos. (I personally fall into the Nestorius camp of Mariology and would therefore be condemned for heresy.) Deicolus was an Irish monk and missionary who followed Columbanus throughout France around the turn of the seventh century and established the Abbey of Lure. He is credited with many miracles, including the suspension of his cloak on a sunbeam, taming wild beasts, and causing a spring to rise up out of the ground which later healed childhood diseases. Prisca was a young first-century Christian who, like Tatiana from January 12, refused to offer sacrifices to Roman gods and was tortured mercilessly, thrown to the lions (one, technically), burned alive, then finally beheaded. Today is also the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the northern hemisphere, coordinated by the World Council of Churches and observed by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Originally the Octave of Christian Unity (eight days), it occurs between the time of the confession of Peter (Matthew 16:13–20, Mark 8:27–30, and Luke 9:18–21) and the conversion of Paul (Acts 9:1-19). In the southern hemisphere, it occurs between Ascension Day and Pentecost. The gist of WPCU is that of Jesus' prayer in John 17, particularly verses 20-23:

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one -- I in them and you in me -- so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (NIV)

Funtown Now Open to Children of Color Monday, January 17, 2022

Today in the U.S. we celebrate the birthday of -- in the handwriting of my six-year-old niece -- Mortin Loother King, who was born on January 15, 1929, and grew up to become one of the most fearless advocates for civil rights in America. A national holiday in memory of MLK was first suggested after his assassination in 1968, but wasn't put before a congressional vote until 1979, where it failed because he wasn't deemed as important as George Washington or Christopher Columbus (plus, you know, he was black). In 1981, a petition of six million signatures was submitted to Congress and in 1983 President Reagan signed the bill into law. MLK Day was first observed on January 20, 1986, with South Carolina being the last hold-out state until the year 2000. Some southern states combined MLK Day with Robert E. Lee Day (born 1/19/1807), with Alabama and Mississippi still bearing this transmutated desegregational torch.

  MLK received his doctorate in Systematic Theology from Boston University in 1955 and was arrested one year later for leading the Montgomery bus boycott "Get Tough" campaign in Alabama following the incidents involving both Claudette Austin and Rosa Parks, who each refused to give up their seats to white patrons. This led to the Supreme Court decision ruling that the Alabama laws of bus segregation were unconstitutional. MLK was arrested a total of 29 times, primarily in Alabama and Georgia, for civil disobedience and minor traffic violations.

In 1963, MLK was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama, for civil disobedience while taking part in a non-violent demonstration against segregation. During this period of incarceration, he wrote an open letter in reply to criticism from local white religious leaders made in a public statement referred to as "A Call For Unity," his response to which became known as his "Letter from Birmingham Jail." The former accused MLK of being an outsider and inciting extreme and unreasonable measures in taking to the streets in protest, while encouraging blacks instead to use the court system for resolving racial problems. The latter politely rebuked the fellow clergymen and gave them a lecture on how constructive nonviolent tension, however untimely, is necessary for growth, particularly in their city.

Note: the glib title of this blog post is in reference to MLK's Bermingham jail letter, in which he eloquently stated:
"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct-action movement that was "well timed" according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "wait." It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "wait" has almost always meant "never." It has been a tranquilizing thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration. We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say "wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she cannot go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos, "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger" and your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and when your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodyness" -- then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience."

Luring Heathens to Church Sunday, January 16, 2022

Convincing loved ones to attend church who are lost and potentially damned should not have to be so hard, particularly when it's not Christmas or Easter. And it's easier when you employ these crafty methods. Don't worry, you are not sinning by lying. Rather, you are merely employing spiritual diversion tactics. If accused of deception, simply point out that they obviously attended the wrong service.

  • Tell them Brad Paisley is leading worship while Nascar races are televised on the overhead monitors.
  • Attendees will receive a "Get Out of Hell Free" card notarized with an official Apostolic Blessing.
  • There will be an all-you-can-eat buffet afterward. This of course will be in the form of a free Bible filled with a scriptural smorgasbord.
  • There is a dunk tank and they get three shots to dunk a member of the opposite sex wearing nothing but a white gown.
  • Offer free indulgence credits for a loved one in purgatory.
  • Have your deacons or elders take up a special visitor offering from the regulars.
  • Host an off-season egg hunt or "trunk-or-treat" in the parking lot.
  • Advertise door prizes, then throw cheap trinkets into the congregation like candy bars, keyrings, coffee cards, or dollar store items.
  • Tell them communion will be Bourbon and Cinnabons.
  • Inform them that their recently deceased friend or family member will be honored, then secretly place a funeral pamphlet on their seat.
  • Tell them there will be a meet-and-greet with someone famous, but not overly popular, like Jerry Falwell, Robert Schuller, or Chuck Colson. Apparently, you didn't realize that they were dead, either.
  • Tell them that Kirk Cameron will be there. (If you invite him, he just might show.)
  • Tell them there will be a book signing by a relatively well-known author, such as Hal Lindsey, Rick Warren, Joyce Meyer, Tony Evans, Annie Dillard, Max Lucado, Chuck Missler, Lee Strobel, or Beth Moore. Hand them a book by said author with an apology for the last-minute cancellation.
  • Assure them that Jesse Duplantis will not be there.
  • Provide them with t-shirts that read "Hands Off."
  • Promise them that the doors will not be locked until they speak in tongues, then give them a can of bear spray just in case.
  • Pay them twenty bucks and give them a ride.

Canned Meat Magic Saturday, January 15, 2022

No one knew its origin but many suspected it to be a combination of meat by-products from various unidentified animals. DNA testing proved inconclusive. It had a distinct flavor which added a unique zest to any dish and it was said that anyone who consumed it felt a certain vitality never before experienced. Those on the outer fringes of society surmised its origin to be that of a cloned unicorn while Celtic lore claimed it was extracted from the flesh of a leprechaun. Some in the Pacific Northwest insisted it was Sasquatch while those in the Himalayas argued it to be Yeti. In the Orient, the taste was attributed to the ectoplasm of ancient spirits. Regardless, no one could deny that it was, simply and without explanation, canned meat magic. Whether eaten plain or prepared, it was truly magical.

Feast of the Ass Friday, January 14, 2022

Today is the Feast of the Ass, commemorating the flight of Jesus and his parents into Egypt according to Matthew 2:13-23 in fulfillment of Hosea 11:1 and celebrated between the 11th and 15th centuries. Tradition was that a girl and a child would be led through town on a donkey to the church, where the donkey would stand at the altar and give the sermon, or something like that. On this day in 1969, the USS Enterprise caught fire off the coast of Hawaii due to exploding dilithium crystals, delaying its five-year mission to explore strange new worlds and seek out new life. In 1967, San Francisco was host to the "Human Be-In" gathering in Haight-Ashbury of hippies and beatniks in protest to the ban on LSD, which featured counterculture speakers such as Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, and Baba Ram Dass, none of whom appeared on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, a comedy series that the FBI did not find humorous. In 1957, Hindu spiritual leader Kripalu Maharaj was named fifth Jagadguru ("spiritual master of the entire universe"), yet he too never appeared on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. Today is also Ratification Day, commemorating the ratification of the Treaty of Paris in 1784, which officially ended the American Revolutionary War, paving the way for Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.

David C. Thursday, January 13, 2022

Today is Stephen Foster Memorial Day in the U.S. in memory of American songwriter Stephen Foster (1826-1864), who wrote such toe-tapping and knee-slapping hits as "Oh! Susanna," "Camptown Races," "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair," and "Old Black Joe." And speaking of the devil, he just so happens to be one of Steven J. LaCompte's favorite composers. Steve likes to visit Song of America and learn about all of his favorite American musicians including Tiny Tim, Frank Zappa, and John Philip Sousa. Back in his heyday when Steve was all the rage, everyone wanted in on the action, including David C. Sadly, though, the web is a different place now and many of David's favorite haunts have gone to the archived wiki wastelands, including Black Children on Television, Senior Frolic, 7-11 Cyberspace Fun Stop, Dr. Ruth's Sexnet, and 2 Stupid Dogs. However, some have managed to survive, if only just barely on life support. Join us, won't you, on this trip down digital memory lane in search of David's lost youth.

The Brady Bunch Wiki: One of David's fantasies was to be Sam the Meat Man so he could marry Alice. Ever since he's been online he doesn't go to the public library much anymore, except to get on the Internet when his home connection is down. Instead, he spends his quality time researching Brady Bunch factoids and he takes it rather seriously. There's a lot of hard work that goes into every television sitcom, whether successful or not, and David is eventually going to figure out what was behind the success of the Bradys.

Carpenters and Carpenters: Every year around the time of her death, David fasts in memory of Karen Carpenter. Once a solitary node, now there are two official Carpenter websites.

Cereal Motel: Learn more about David's favorite breakfast cereals, including Porn Flakes and Vice Krispies. David has since developed an intolerance to lactose, but he still eats his cold cereal with soy milk, almond milk, or oat milk... and once in a while, even breast milk.

Cosmo's Factory: This was one of David's most traumatic experiences. He has since become a regular midnight participant.

David Hasselhoff is the AntiChrist: It's no wonder the music of David Hasselhoff calms the spastic beast within David. His multiple demon possessions also include Yanni and John Tesh.

Dead People Server: This website is now listed among the dead. Others who have languished and since departed include Tom Bosley, Gary Colemen, Walter Cronkite, Bob Denver, Allen Funt, Buddy Hackett, Sherman Hemsley, Arte Johnson, DeForest Kelley, Don Knotts, Harvey Korman, Jerry Lewis, Art Linkletter, Marcel Marceau, Walter Mondale, Mary Tyler Moore, Jim Nabors, Casey Kasem, Charles Nelson Reilly, Fred Rogers, Willard Scott, Jean Stapleton, Soupy Sales, Elizabeth Taylor, Rip Taylor, Adam West, and Henny Youngman.

Dear Crabby: David has yet to receive an answer from Heloise or Ann Landers about his problem with attracting crazed women. In answer to this, all women are crazed, though many repress it, at least until David comes along. He just seems to have a knack for unlocking those latent fatal attractions in the opposite sex.

Donny and Marie: Even though the original Osmond Network disbanded, David's bedroom is still an Osmond Family shrine.

Emo Philips Official Website: Emo was influential in laying the foundation for David's eccentric mindset (not Emo from Sesame Street). "When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me." -Emo Philips

The Infomercial Index: David is addicted, but he never buys, he just likes to watch. This is the original website from back in the 90s, but it has grown cobwebs from spiderbots over the years.

Jolt Cola: Many a college student would stick beer bottle caps to their dorm room ceiling, but David affixed entire Jolt Cola bottles to his ceiling and walls. Though this didn't allow much room for sleeping or studying, David was always overly nervous and hyperactive from drinking all that Jolt Cola to ever settle down anyway. The blackness of this website is reminiscent of death itself.

Land O' Useless Facts: David utilizes trivial facts as pickup lines. Once the unsuspecting culprit has been swooned with pseudo-intellectual minutiae, David then moves in for the kill with quotes from Brady Bunch episodes.

Never Furl®: After all these years, David still never furls on Flag Day.

RuPaul: David is both disgusted and fascinated with this celebrity. He watches him/her/it with great intensity, all the while shaking his head and rolling his eyes. When RuPaul's original website RuPaul's House of Love went offline, David was devastated, but he remained strong and buried the longing deep down inside, where it blossomed in the dark and grew into a transgender tumor which he guards like a proud mother.

Scout Life: David once had a paper route so he could save up for a lifetime subscription to Boy's Life magazine. He no longer has a subscription, but he still has the paper route. David's grandfather, Helmhutt, a WWI veteran, used to take him to the local aries VFW fish fry. David proudly wore his Eagle Scout uniform to the weekly event and was regularly allowed to lead in the opening pledge of allegiance. David is still studying to be a scout leader himself, though he's only gotten so far as putting on a pair of khaki knee-high socks and a neckerchief.

Shriners International: David is an Imperial Clown, though not of any order of the Shriner fraternities. David likes to dress in a beige polyester suit, white loafers, and a fez and march around at parades masquerading as a Shriner. Once, at the North American Royal Parade of Calliopes, the real Shriners caught him and dressed him up as a clown and dragged him through the entire parade route behind a motorcade of midget motorcycles. Afterward, they made him entertain sick children at a local Shriners Hospital with a broken tail bone, a dislocated hip, and third degree pavement burns. He still harbors no ill will.

Themyscira: Like Steve, David has a thing for Wonder Woman, except David still sneaks out behind the garage and twirls around in circles with hopes of transforming himself into Wonder Woman. He has been saving for years for a vacation getaway to Paradise Island and recently settled on a Marvel Comics-themed cruise aboard Disney Cruise Lines. When he realized that Wonder Woman is not a part of the Marvel Universe, he jumped overboard. (The original Themyscira website was hosted on AOL, which has gone AWOL.)

Things That Are Crunchy: David likes to hear himself chew. His favorite crunchy sounds that resonate inside his skull include water chestnuts, kale, hardtack, rutabagas, toast, cupcake sprinkles, granola, rice crackers, ice cubes, peanut brittle, and (you guessed it) Porn Flakes.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: David worked for the federal government counting salmon sperm and making sure each and every one had the same opportunities to swim upstream and fertilize a salmon egg. His other interests included identifying trout, tagging trout, and going to the Seattle Aquarium to watch sea otters eat salmon and trout. Miss ya, Dave.

Bob Saget Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Today we remember some of the following saints: Benedict Biscop (690), Aelred of Rievaulx (1167), Bernardo da Corleone (1667), Marguerite Bourgeoys (1700), and Tatiana, a young female Christian who was killed by the Romans sometime around 230 A.D. The story goes that Tatiana was forced to sacrifice to Apollo, so she prayed and the Lord brought an earthquake which caused the statue of Apollo to crumble and part of the temple to collapse. While she was being tortured and her eyes gouged out, she prayed for her tormentors and many believed, who themselves were then tortured to death. During subsequent days of torture under jurist Ulpian, she was miraculously healed and many of her tormentors perished from exhaustion. She was then forced to sacrifice to the goddess Diana, but again she prayed to the Lord and lightning struck the statue. After more torture and having her breasts cut off, she was thrown before a lion, but remained unharmed, then thrown into a fire, but again remained unharmed, and each day was miraculously healed of her wounds. Thinking her a sorceress, her hair was cut off to remove her powers and she was locked in the temple of Zeus, but after three days the statue was found shattered upon the floor and Tatiana was praising the Lord. Finally, she and her father were beheaded. Which brings us to Bob Saget, co-star of Full House and Fuller House, narrator of How I Met Your Mother, and host of America's Funniest Home Videos, who passed away on Sunday.


Human Trafficking Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Today we remember some of the following saints: Anastasius of Suppentonia, Leucius of Brindisi, Paulinus II of Aquileia, Theodosius the Cenobiarch, Thomas of Cori, and Vitalis of Gaza. On this day in 1759, The first life insurance company was incorporated in the U.S. -- the Corporation for Relief of Poor and Distressed Presbyterian Ministers and of the Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of the Presbyterian Ministers. It is also National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the U.S. Following are some statistics from various sources on human trafficking worldwide, including here, here, and here:

  • 24.9 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery and half are children.
  • 50% sexual, 38% forced labor, 6% criminal activity, 1.5% begging.
  • 65% of victims worldwide are female and 35% are male.
  • 15.4 million (75%) are age 18 or older, with children under 18 at 5.5 million (25%).
  • 54% in Europe, 19% Africa, 14% Asia, 8% Middle East, and 3% Americas.
  • $150 billion per year in profits for traffickers, 66% for sexual exploitation.
  • U.S. online targeting of children went up 99% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Common Sense Monday, January 10, 2022

On this day in 1776, Thomas Paine first published his independent pamphlet Common Sense, which originated from a series of anonymous letters titled Plain Truth to the editors of various Philadelphia newspapers. Common Sense was distributed to the thirteen colonies and advocated independence from Great Britain. It was widely popular and even published oversees, except in England where it was a criminal offense, and is still one of the best-selling American titles of all time. Paine donated the royalties from Common Sense to George Washington's Continental Army and publicly reputed his copyright to give everyone the legal right to print it. Although he may not have profited from its publication, U.S. citizens profited from it greatly, so here are a few enduring excerpts to inspire rebellion against imperial tyranny.

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness possitively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a Government, which we might expect in a country without Government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer... Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expence and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest; they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought. A thousand motives will excite them thereto; the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same.

Thus necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessings of which would supercede, and render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but Heaven is impregnable to vice, it will unavoidably happen that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them together in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and attachment to each other: and this remissness will point out the necessity of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.

Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, viz. Freedom and security. And however our eyes may be dazzled with show, or our ears deceived by sound; however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understanding, the simple voice of nature and reason will say, ‘tis right.

I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature which no art can overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered; and with this maxim in view I offer a few remarks on the so much boasted constitution of England that it was noble for the dark and slavish times in which it was erected, is granted. When the world was overrun with tyranny the least remove therefrom was a glorious rescue. But that it is imperfect, subject to convulsions, and incapable of producing what it seems to promise, is easily demonstrated.

The prejudice of Englishmen, in favour of their own government, by King, Lords and Commons, arises as much or more from national pride than reason. Individuals are undoubtedly safer in England than in some other countries: but the will of the king is as much the law of the land in Britain as in France, with this difference, that instead of proceeding directly from his mouth, it is handed to the people under the formidable shape of an act of parliament... Wherefore, laying aside all national pride and prejudice in favour of modes and forms, the plain truth is that it is wholly owing to the constitution of the people, and not to the constitution of the government that the crown is not as oppressive in England as in Turkey.

But there is another and greater distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men into KINGS and SUBJECTS. Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of Heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.

Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry. The Heathens paid divine honours to their deceased kings, and the Christian World hath improved on the plan by doing the same to their living ones. How impious is the title of sacred Majesty applied to a worm, who in the midst of his splendor is crumbling into dust!

Near three thousand years passed away, from the Mosaic account of the creation, till the Jews under a national delusion requested a king. Till then their form of government (except in extraordinary cases where the Almighty interposed) was a kind of Republic, administered by a judge and the elders of the tribes. Kings they had none, and it was held sinful to acknowledge any being under that title but the Lord of Hosts. And when a man seriously reflects on the idolatrous homage which is paid to the persons of kings, he need not wonder that the Almighty, ever jealous of his honour, should disapprove a form of government which so impiously invades the prerogative of Heaven.

To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and tho’ himself might deserve some decent degree of honours of his cotemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an Ass for a Lion.

Secondly, as no man at first could possess any other public honors than were bestowed upon him, so the givers of those honors could have no power to give away the right of posterity, and though they might say “We choose you for our head,” they could not without manifest injustice to their children say “that your children and your children’s children shall reign over ours forever.” Because such an unwise, unjust, unnatural compact might (perhaps) in the next succession put them under the government of a rogue or a fool. Most wise men in their private sentiments have ever treated hereditary right with contempt; yet it is one of those evils which when once established is not easily removed: many submit from fear, others from superstition, and the more powerful part shares with the king the plunder of the rest.

The most plausible plea which hath ever been offered in favor of hereditary succession is, that it preserves a nation from civil wars; and were this true, it would be weighty; whereas it is the most bare-faced falsity ever imposed upon mankind. The whole history of England disowns the fact. Thirty kings and two minors have reigned in that distracted kingdom since the conquest, in which time there has been (including the revolution) no less than eight civil wars and nineteen Rebellions. Wherefore instead of making for peace, it makes against it, and destroys the very foundation it seems to stand upon... In short, monarchy and succession have laid (not this or that kingdom only) but the world in blood and ashes. ‘Tis a form of government which the word of God bears testimony against, and blood will attend it.

In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense: and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves: that he will put on, or rather that he will not put off, the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day.

I have heard it asserted by some, that as America has flourished under her former connection with Great-Britain, the same connection is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty. But even this is admitting more than is true; for I answer roundly, that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power taken any notice of her. The commerce by which she hath enriched herself are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe.

Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new World hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.

Our plan is commerce, and that, well attended to, will secure us the peace and friendship of all Europe; because it is the interest of all Europe to have America a free port. Her trade will always be a protection, and her barrenness of gold and silver secure her from invaders. I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation to show a single advantage that this continent can reap by being connected with Great Britain. I repeat the challenge; not a single advantage is derived. Our corn will fetch its price in any market in Europe, and our imported goods must be paid for buy them where we will.

But the injuries and disadvantages which we sustain by that connection, are without number; and our duty to mankind at large, as well as to ourselves, instruct us to renounce the alliance: because, any submission to, or dependance on, Great Britain, tends directly to involve this Continent in European wars and quarrels, and set us at variance with nations who would otherwise seek our friendship, and against whom we have neither anger nor complaint. As Europe is our market for trade, we ought to form no partial connection with any part of it. It is the true interest of America to steer clear of European contentions, which she never can do, while, by her dependance on Britain, she is made the make-weight in the scale of British politics.

Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offence, yet I am inclined to believe, that all those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation, may be included within the following descriptions. Interested men, who are not to be trusted, weak men who cannot see, prejudiced men who will not see, and a certain set of moderate men who think better of the European world than it deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this Continent than all the other three.

'Tis repugnant to reason, to the universal order of things, to all examples from former ages, to suppose that this Continent can long remain subject to any external power. The most sanguine in Britain doth not think so. The utmost stretch of human wisdom cannot, at this time, compass a plan, short of separation, which can promise the continent even a year’s security. Reconciliation is now a fallacious dream. Nature hath deserted the connection, and art cannot supply her place. For, as Milton wisely expresses, “never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.”

Small islands not capable of protecting themselves are the proper objects for government1 to take under their care; but there is something absurd, in supposing a Continent to be perpetually governed by an island. In no instance hath nature made the satellite larger than its primary planet; and as England and America, with respect to each other, reverse the common order of nature, it is evident that they belong to different systems. England to Europe: America to itself.

America is only a secondary object in the system of British politics. England consults the good of this country no further than it answers her own purpose. Wherefore, her own interest leads her to suppress the growth of ours in every case which doth not promote her advantage, or in the least interferes with it.

But where, say some, is the King of America? I’ll tell you, friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Great Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honours, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the Charter; let it be brought forth placed on the Divine Law, the Word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the Crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.

Ye that tell us of harmony and reconciliation, can ye restore to us the time that is past? Can ye give to prostitution its former innocence? neither can ye reconcile Britain and America. The last cord now is broken, the people of England are presenting addresses against us. There are injuries which nature cannot forgive; she would cease to be nature if she did. As well can the lover forgive the ravisher of his mistress, as the Continent forgive the murders of Britain. The Almighty hath implanted in us these unextinguishable feelings for good and wise purposes. They are the Guardians of his Image in our hearts. They distinguish us from the herd of common animals.

'Tis not in numbers but in unity that our great strength lies: yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world. The Continent hath at this time the largest body of armed and disciplined men of any power under Heaven: and is just arrived at that pitch of strength, in which no single colony is able to support itself, and the whole, when united, is able to do anything. Our land force is more than sufficient, and as to Naval affairs, we cannot be insensible that Britain would never suffer an American man of war to be built, while the Continent remained in her hands. Wherefore, we should be no forwarder an hundred years hence in that branch than we are now; but the truth is, we should be less so, because the timber of the Country is every day diminishing, and that which will remain at last, will be far off or difficult to procure.

The debt we may contract doth not deserve our regard if the work be but accomplished. No nation ought to be without a debt. A national debt is a national bond; and when it bears no interest, is in no case a grievance. Britain is oppressed with a debt of upwards of one hundred and forty millions sterling, for which she pays upwards of four millions interest. And as a compensation for her debt, she has a large navy; America is without a debt, and without a navy; yet for the twentieth part of the English national debt, could have a navy as large again. The navy of England is not worth at this time more than three millions and a half sterling.

No country on the globe is so happily situated, or so internally capable of raising a fleet as America. Tar, timber, iron, and cordage are her natural produce. We need go abroad for nothing. Whereas the Dutch, who make large profits by hiring out their ships of war to the Spaniards and Portugese, are obliged to import most of the materials they use. We ought to view the building a fleet as an article of commerce, it being the natural manufactory of this country. ‘Tis the best money we can lay out. A navy when finished is worth more than it cost: And is that nice point in national policy, in which commerce and protection are united. Let us build; if we want them not, we can sell; and by that means replace our paper currency with ready gold and silver.

Commerce diminishes the spirit both of patriotism and military defence. And history sufficiently informs us, that the bravest achievements were always accomplished in the non-age of a nation. With the increase of commerce England hath lost its spirit. The city of London, notwithstanding its numbers, submits to continued insults with the patience of a coward. The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture. The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a spaniel.

Youth is the seed-time of good habits as well in nations as in individuals. It might be difficult, if not impossible, to form the Continent into one Government half a century hence. The vast variety of interests, occasioned by an increase of trade and population, would create confusion. Colony would be against Colony. Each being able would scorn each other’s assistance: and while the proud and foolish gloried in their little distinctions, the wise would lament that the union had not been formed before. Wherefore the present time is the true time for establishing it. The intimacy which is contracted in infancy, and the friendship which is formed in misfortune, are of all others the most lasting and unalterable. Our present union is marked with both these characters: we are young, and we have been distressed; but our concord hath withstood our troubles, and fixes a memorable Æra for posterity to glory in.

The present time, likewise, is that peculiar time which never happens to a nation but once, viz. the time of forming itself into a government. Most nations have let slip the opportunity, and by that means have been compelled to receive laws from their conquerors, instead of making laws for themselves. First, they had a king, and then a form of government; whereas the articles or charter of government should be formed first, and men delegated to execute them afterwards: but from the errors of other nations let us learn wisdom, and lay hold of the present opportunity -- to begin government at the right end.

For myself, I fully and conscientiously believe, that it is the will of the Almighty that there should be a diversity of religious opinions among us. It affords a larger field for our Christian kindness: were we all of one way of thinking, our religious dispositions would want matter for probation; and on this liberal principle I look on the various denominations among us, to be like children of the same family, differing only in what is called their Christian names.

Were a manifesto to be published, and despatched to foreign Courts, setting forth the miseries we have endured, and the peaceful methods which we have ineffectually used for redress; declaring at the same time, that not being able any longer to live happily or safely under the cruel disposition of the British Court, we had been driven to the necessity of breaking off all connections with her; at the same time, assuring all such Courts of our peaceable disposition towards them, and of our desire of entering into trade with them: such a memorial would produce more good effects to this Continent, than if a ship were freighted with petitions to Britain.

Under our present denomination of British subjects, we can neither be received nor heard abroad: the custom of all Courts is against us, and will be so, until by an independance we take rank with other nations.

I have frequently amused myself both in public and private companies, with silently remarking the specious errors of those who speak without reflecting. And among the many which I have heard, the following seems the most general, viz. that had this rupture happened forty or fifty years hence, instead of now, the continent would have been more able to have shaken off the dependance. To which I reply, that our military ability, at this time, arises from the experience gained in the last war, and which in forty or fifty years time, would be totally extinct. The continent would not, by that time, have a general, or even a military officer left; and we, or those who may succeed us, would be as ignorant of martial matters as the ancient Indians: and this single position, closely attended to, will unanswerably prove that the present time is preferable to all others. The argument turns thus: At the conclusion of the last war, we had experience, but wanted numbers; and forty or fifty years hence, we shall have numbers, without experience; wherefore, the proper point of time, must be some particular point between the two extremes, in which a sufficiency of the former remains, and a proper increase of the latter is obtained: And that point of time is the present time.

I proceed now to the second head, viz. Which is the easiest and most practicable plan, Reconciliation or Independence; with some occasional remarks... He who takes nature for his guide, is not easily beaten out of his argument, and on that ground, I answer generally -- That independance being a single simple line, contained within ourselves; and reconciliation, a matter exceedingly perplexed and complicated, and in which a treacherous capricious court is to interfere, gives the answer without a doubt.

It is the violence which is done and threatened to our persons; the destruction of our property by an armed force; the invasion of our country by fire and sword, which conscientiously qualifies the use of arms: and the instant in which such mode of defence became necessary, all subjection to Britain ought to have ceased; and the independance of America should have been considered as dating its era from, and published by, the first musket that was fired against her. This line is a line of consistency; neither drawn by caprice, nor extended by ambition; but produced by a chain of events, of which the colonies were not the authors.

I shall conclude these remarks, with the following timely and well-intended hints. We ought to reflect, that there are three different ways by which an independancy may hereafter be effected; and that one of those three, will, one day or other, be the fate of America, viz. By the legal voice of the people in Congress; by a military power; or by a mob: It may not always happen that our soldiers are citizens, and the multitude a body of reasonable men; virtue, as I have already remarked, is not hereditary, neither is it perpetual. Should an independancy be brought about by the first of those means, we have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest, purest constitution on the face of the earth.

We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand, and a race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of freedom from the events of a few months. The reflection is awful, and in this point of view, how trifling, how ridiculous, do the little paltry cavilings of a few weak or interested men appear, when weighed against the business of a world.

Hopefully this has rallied you to read the entire edition because, as you can see, there is too much to be included here. It'd be interesting to know what Thomas Paine would have to say about the U.S. government now. Then again it would be interesting to know what any of the U.S. founding fathers would have to say now.

60 Second Romance Vol 2 Sunday, January 9, 2022

He came running out from the lush jungle and into her open heart. There he stood: four feet of staunch masculinity, panting heavily as his furry chest heaved in and out with each ferocious breath, loin cloth dampened with sweat, spear raised overhead poised and ready to master the prey. She sighed and raised her delicate hand to her forehead as if to faint. He rushed upon her pale, civilized body and tore her blouse open with a brutal savagery she had never before experienced. She gazed up into his dark, barbaric eyes and said with a sensual gasp, "Take me as your captive and do with me as you wish!" "What?" he asked, "I don't understand." She replied, "That's ridiculous, then how did you just say what you just said? Apparently, just because you can speak doesn't necessarily make you a smart ape." And with that uncultured attitude, he ate her.

COVID-22 Saturday, January 8, 2022

It's high time we upgraded COVID-19, more popularly known as SARS-CoV-2 Novel Coronavirus. The latest variant, whatever presidential immunologist Dr. Fauci determines it to be, should be called COVID-22. (This is not a Microsoft operating system.) Now there are basically two sides to the vaccination hullabaloo, which just goes without saying, and I will refrain from offending either of them by providing this updated list of universal tips for helping to prevent the spread of this viral shenanigan:

  • Stay home if you feel sick or test positive for COVID-19. Better yet, just stay home. The U.S. government is still paying people to choose this lifestyle. Find out more at the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet apart... no, make it 12 feet apart and wear N95 or KN95 masks when not eating, drinking, or smoking. Wear a mask during any kind of sex, including oral, and always maintain a distance of 12 feet apart.
  • If you are one who is concerned about being in the presence of those who choose not to wear masks in public, then stay home and wear a mask. It's possible to re-infect yourself, so wear a mask at all times.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or the inside of your elbow, then throw the tissue or your shirt in the trash.
  • Hold social events virtually. Cancel, adjust, or postpone larger gatherings that can only occur in-person. This includes grandma's last birthday. If she doesn't have a computer or smart phone or is just plain computer-illiterate, then hold a virtual seance after she has passed.
  • If you must gather in person, such as for an NFL football game, hold gatherings in open, well-ventilated spaces with plenty of sunlight and high temperatures.
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, or every 20 seconds, whichever feels more advantageous.
  • Wash hands at every sanitizing station you encounter. After each sanitation rally, walk three feet away, turn, walk back and repeat. Do this at least three times for each sanitizing station.
  • Sanitize the inside surface of all body parts with DJT Brand™ Quality Germicidal Disinfectant with hydroxychloroquine. Warning: Homemade remedies consisting of chlorine bleach and isopropyl alcohol must be consumed in large volumes in order to adequately sanitize internal body surfaces.
  • Sanitize fruits and vegetables with at least 60% alcohol before purchasing. Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds before putting in refrigerator at home. Bake, broil, microwave, air fry or boil all fruits and vegetables and maintain a safe distance of 6 feet from all fruits and vegetables when consuming. Otherwise, eat fruits and vegetables with 120-proof alcohol or stronger.
  • According to the World Health Organization, ethanol will not kill coronavirus. However, it will make it inebriated enough that it may pass out. In this inert state, it can be safely vomited with partially digested fruits and vegetables and flushed down the toilet.
  • Disinfect all surfaces and breathing spaces with Ultraviolet-C radiation. Ensure that any UVC lamp you purchase emits at least a 254nm wavelength, burns both skin and eyes, generates ozone, and contains mercury. Otherwise, it may be less than effective.
  • Recommend supplements of zinc, melatonin, and vitamins C and D to loved ones as a placebo.
  • Encourage employees who still insist on the archaic method of showing up for work to self-test before arriving with an over-the-counter rapid COVID-19 test. Should they test positive, encourage them to go home and quarantine for two weeks go behind a closed door and take a nap.
  • Be honest when answering screening questions regarding travel, exposures, and sick family members. It may not make statistical data more accurate, but it is crucial to people who are stringent about following rules.
  • Continue to purchase large quantities of toilet paper. You can never have too much hygiene paper product.

Backfill Friday Friday, January 7, 2022

So, I was lazy last night and laid on the couch watching episodes of Star Trek: Discovery instead of posting to this blog. That means you get the remainder of the top 110 reasons from 11/23/21 why Steven J. LaCompte is a content and happy man, concluding with a special tribute to Star Trek with the assimilated spinning head of Steven J. Lecutus of Borg.

49. The secret, Steve concedes, is a daily regimen of colonic massages and rectal acupuncture.
48. Steve's performance on the Gong Show as "The King and I" is what prompted J.P. Morgan to bear her breasts.
47. At the end of Steve's rainbow are the Solid Gold dancers.
46. Steve's cosmic aura is the prism of light reflected through a jug of Julio Gallo Rhine.
45. Steve still retains much of his extensive training from glee club boot camp, where he was awarded the prestigious Goodie-Two-Shoes award and promoted with honors to Second Lieutenant Commander Debutante.
44. Steve's regular exercise schedule consists of several sets of giddy head bobs, alternating ambidextrous knee slaps, and a series of full, deep guffaws from the diaphragm.
43. Steve's life imitates art, which is why his patron saint is Zippy the Pinhead.
42. Steve is able to reclaim his golden years of Punky Brewster and Doogie Hauser, M.D. through late night cable television reruns.
41. Steve is able to relive his glory days of Donkey Kong through the modern technology of his pocket Game Boy.
40. Steve is already past midlife crisis, a time when he moved back into his old college dorm room to conduct drunken orgies every night until dawn, then sacrifice farm animals to various monuments on campus while doused in gasoline. (He couldn't afford a brand new lifestyle.)
39. With hobbies ranging from casual mathematics to leisure time geometry, the real world of algorithmic calculations is a snap for Steve.
38. Steve avoids uncomfortable encounters with ex-girlfriends by pretending to have grand mal seizures.
37. Steve resists sexual temptation with narcoleptic seizures.
36. Steve is able to occupy himself by harvesting the bountiful crop of by-products in his bodily crevices, some of which are recycled.
35. Steve has yet to be weened from his mother.
34. Steve lives his life according to the Bible, though Sodom and Gomorrah were eventually destroyed by fire from above.
33. In his quest for simplicity, Steve likes to eat trail mix, which consists of bending over along the trail of life and eating whatever he happens to pick up. Steve also likes to snack on bird seed blocks, tree bark, mica flakes, dry leaves, discarded wrappers, and empty toilet paper rolls.
32. Steve contributes his time back into the community by volunteering in the welcoming committee, Block Watch, and by heading the local vigilante on witch hunts.
31. Steve has a Big Brother.
30. Therapy for Steve includes clipping coupons, watering the lawn by hand, riding his three-wheel bike, and lounging around with Dave and Kyle in women's lingerie. (More on them later.)
29. Steve is able to purge headaches by putting his head in the toilet and literally flushing the stress away.
28. Steve loves to wear green turtlenecks and click his heels to the minstrel sounds of the Irish Rovers, and anyone who rubs his blarney stone the wrong way gets it over the head with Steve's shillelagh.
27. Steve freely gives what he has freely received, which is also why he has head lice.
26. For home brewed vim and vigor, Steve concocts his own elixirs from an assortment of cough medicines, hair tonics, douches, and aftershave splashes.
25. Steve is an avid fisherman, awaking early year-round and catching his limit at the local carp hatchery before it opens.
24. Steve finds solace in the realization he's not some drunken skid row bum wiped out on everclear. Sterno is his down-and-out drink of desperation.
23. Three nights a week Steve takes a bath in a solution of 10% benzoyl peroxide.
22. It is reassuring for Steve to watch Urkel grow into an adult geek.
21. Steve found the fountain of youth in a Slurpee machine at a nearby 7-11.
20. Steve sleeps with an Alf doll.
19. Ever since the Chipmunks cut an album with Mannheim Steamroller, Christmas has been every day of the year for Steve.
18. Steve brews his own ale, cultivates his own tobacco, and cuts his own hair.
17. Steve greets every morning with a smile on his face (after a night of dreaming about Scott Baio, Rickie Schroeder, and Fabio -- not always together or in that particular order.)
16. Steve has a closet full of hand-knit wool sweaters, each one embroidered with fruitcakes, left to him by his dearly departed Aunt Beatrice. The words of her eulogy still ring true in Steve's ears: "Here lies Beatrice Endora LeCompte, afflicted by malignant bunions, now buried and at rest with her three dozen precious cats."
15. Steve stays in shape from being chased two to three miles every day by his neighbor's angry pet llama ridden by their pet cockatoo that's trained to shout obscenities.
14. At the age of ten, some unknown stranger proclaimed Steve as "Krishna J. LaCompte, the Witless Wonder and Savior of All Humankind" and to this day he still has a following of devotees, which includes everyone on his hacked e-mail list.
13. Steve has been assimilated by the Borg. His new name is LeCutus of Borg.
12. Steve has a glowing personality and may be likened to affluent and broad-minded individuals, such as Baby Bop, Elmo, and Bob Saget.
11. Steve tends a flock of sheep he affectionately refers to as his "wooly harem".
10. Steve takes great pride in retelling ethnic jokes, especially about his homeland of Polackistan.
9. Steve's brain waves are at the same frequency as elevator musak.
8. Steve is dedicated to strict American values, such as driving with your head up your ass. His favorite recreational car games include: Follow the leader at 15 m.p.h.; Mother may I...advance to the next block?; Right and left the blinker goes and where he turns nobody knows; Red light go, green light stop; Blind side's bluff; Cut off the can; Bumper tag; King of the on-ramp; and innie, minnie, minie, moe -- which lane will I unexpectedly go?
7. Steve is on top of the world with the NASA channel, 24 hours a day.
6. People like Steve just for who he is -- a freak show with free admission.
5. Steve's meditative mantra is simply to repeat advertising jingles that have stuck with him throughout the day.
4. Steve has accepted himself for who he really is -- a reincarnation of Shemp Howard.
3. Steve takes refuge from life's bitter ends through UNIX programming.
2. Steve doesn't carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, instead he is able to shift it to his nose.
1. Steve received a federal grant from the NEA to develop his own home page on the World Wide Web. He is now at peace with himself knowing that our tax dollars are finally put to good use at (Note: When funding ran out, this website went from Under Construction to 404 Not Found.)

Epiphany Thursday, January 6, 2022

Today is Epiphany (from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning "appearance" or "manifestation"), celebrating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi in Matthew 2:1-12, also called Theophany or Three Kings' Day. It kicks off the season of Epiphanytide, which lasts until Candlemas, or possibly Ash Wednesday (more on this when the time comes). On this day in 1893, the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation was chartered by the U.S. Congress for the Episcopal Church's building of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C., the second largest church building in the U.S. For those concerned about the separation of church and state, a congressional charter is a law under Title 36 of the United States Code that states the mission, authority, and activities of a group. Congressional charters were once required for corporate entities operating in the District of Columbia. Today they are largely a symbolic recognition of an organization's public interest and have all but ceased to be granted since 1992. The Episcopal Church was a U.S. breakaway church from the Church of England after the Revolutionary War, but still maintains its membership in the worldwide Anglican Communion. However, much of the Anglican Communion has distanced itself from the Episcopal Church, or joined the separatist Anglican Continuum, because of its ordination of female, homosexual, and transgender clergy, along with its rites for same-gender marriage. (Note that Episcopal diocese cannot simply depart from the Episcopal Church without its consent.) Speaking of departures, Mother Theresa, a native of Albania, departed her second home of Ireland on this day in 1929 for Calcutta, India. In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity, a congregation of Catholic nuns who manage hospices for people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis, as well as running soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, family counseling programs, orphanages, and schools, all with a vow to give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor." At the time of her death (3/13/1997), the Missionaries of Charity had over 4,000 sisters and an associated brotherhood of 300 members operating 610 missions in 123 countries.

  Mother Theresa of Calcutta, a saint in anyone's book, except for her critics who accused her of promoting suffering, poverty, and over-population, including Christopher Hitchens in his documentary Hell's Angel.  

Twelfth Night Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Today is the twelfth day of Christmas, or Twelfth Night, with twelve lords a-leaping/bells a-ringing/ladies dancing/drummers drumming/fiddlers fiddling, also the Eve of Epiphany, or Theophany, or Three Kings' Day, or Little Christmas, or a good time to take down your Christmas decorations. It's also the second installment of Words To Live By. Truer words have been spoken, but here are a few timeless adages nonetheless:

  • You can't always get what you want but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need, even if it's a kick to the groin of your ego.
  • Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true, like all your teeth falling out, or showing up to final exams not having studied, or being naked in public, or falling endlessly from great heights, or being chased by wolves.
  • It's all fun and games until someone falls into a tiger trap or trips a forgotten landmine.
  • Everyone is a genius but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid and a stupid fish that can't climb a tree is a stupid idea.
  • Today is the first miserable day of the rest of your miserable life, so live it as though it was your last. If it wasn't your last, and it probably wasn't, then you may end up in jail where you belong.
  • When life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in the eyes of those who quote Zig Ziglar.
  • Men who say it cannot be done should not interrupt men who are doing it, unless they are trying to bring Jack the Ripper back to life from DNA samples just to see who he actually was.
  • Whatever you do, do it well enough that your kids won't be embarrassed of you.
  • If you don't like something, change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it; if you can't change the way you think about it, something or someone is going to have to be eliminated.
  • There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure... and a fatal disease... and some natural disasters... and a lack of funds. There are four things that make a dream impossible to achieve. Plus life in prison, which can end most dreams.
  • Years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, voyage away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds, and sail off the edge of the Earth.
  • When something bad happens you have four choices: you can either let it define you, let it destroy you, let it strengthen you, or let it give you a reason to drink heavily.
  • Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're delusional.
  • Avoiding risk is the greatest risk of all, unless you have a gambling problem.
  • If they laugh at you because you're different then laugh at them because they're all the same. If they beat you senseless in return, knocking out all your teeth in the process, then take solace knowing you had the last laugh, even if it wasn't genuinely funny.
  • Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted. Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. Therefore those that matter count and those that don't count don't matter.
  • It's alright to not know what you want to be when you grow up as long as you never grow up.
  • Let your self-aggrandizement keep you so busy that you have no time for the petty concerns of others.
  • If you set your goals ridiculously high and fail, you will fail above everyone else's success. However, you will still be a huge failure.
  • The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart on their way to the stomach.
  • Whoever is happy will make others happy too, with the exception of sadists.
  • Never let the fear of being hit in the face with a baseball, a bat, or a cleated shoe keep you from playing the game.
  • If you never try you will fail at trying. If you try and fail then you have succeeded at failing. If you try and succeed, it is because others have failed before you.
  • The secret of success is to do the common thing while generating a lot of advertising revenue.
  • The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our realization that tomorrow never comes.

Poligamy Tuesday, January 4, 2022

On this day in 1863, the Protestant New Apostolic Church was created in Hamburg, Germany, out of the Catholic Apostolic Church. From Britannica: The church emphasizes the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Sacraments are baptism, Holy Communion, and holy sealing (the "dispensing and reception of the Holy Spirit"). Sealing can only be conferred by the laying on of hands on the head of a member by an apostle, and it assures the member of participation in Christ's rule on Earth for 1,000 years after he returns. Like the Latter-day Saints, the New Apostolic Church teaches that the sacraments can be received by a living member for a dead person. And speaking of the LDS, on this day in 1896, the Mormon territory of "Deseret" became the state of Utah in the U.S. after statehood was denied for fifty years due to ongoing disputes and military scuffles between the Mormons led by Brigham Young and the federal government over the practice of polygamy. Following the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887 which disincorporated the LDS Church, Mormon president Wilford Woodruff received divine revelation and the LDS Church passed the Anti-polygamy Manifesto of 1890, and in 1895 a ban on plural marriages was written into the state constitution which appeased the federal government. In 1904, after over a decade of continued polygamous marriages, another manifesto was issued and the LDS Church began excommunicating polygamist members. In 1906, a federal senate investigation (Smoot Hearings) concluded that a majority of the LDS leaders were living in polygamous cohabitation. Plural marriage ceremonies were no longer officially conducted after 1920, although a third manifesto was issued in 1933 by LDS president Heber J. Grant, who himself had three concurrent wives.


Joseph Smith - 40
Brigham Young - 55


Prior to Utah becoming a state, here is what the Mormons believed about polygamy: Joseph Smith had a revelation in 1831 that plural marriages, or marriages with more than one wife, were permissible. Regardless that it was considered a wicked practice and forbidden according to the Book of Mormon (Jacob 1:15, 2:24-27, 3:5), as a leader, Smith claimed he was allowed more than one wife based on Old Testament accounts of plural marriages among God's rulers, most notably those of Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon (Doctrine and Covenants 132). This became known as the Patriarchal Law of Abraham. Despite the admonition in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6 of an overseer to be the husband of but one wife, Smith supposedly had somewhere between 33 and 43 wives, some of whom were married to other church leaders and some of whom were related to one another. Although secret amongst the leaders at first, Smith began promoting it openly in the 1840s. The church began teaching it publicly in 1852 and, under Brigham Young's leadership, it became rampant, with reports of inter-family marriages and wife swapping. Young, who had around 55 wives and believed monogamy to be a flaw of Christianity, declared, "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy" (Journal of Discourses, vol 11, p 269). Some early LDS Church leaders even taught that Jesus had many wives and children while he lived on earth. In 1886, third LDS president John Taylor had a revelation that the Law of Abraham was an everlasting covenant never to be revoked. Although there remain various Mormon factions that continue to practice polygamy, the current official LDS stance on plural marriages is that it is not allowed. Still, plural marriage doctrine remains in LDS scripture and claims it will not only be permitted in the afterlife, but will be resumed on earth after Christ's return.

Excommunication Monday, January 3, 2022

On this day in 1521, Martin Luther and his followers received official excommunication, anathema, interdiction, and perpetual condemnation from the Roman Catholic Church via the papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem, issued by Pope Leo X and available from Papal Encyclicals Online. Four years earlier, Luther, a Catholic priest and Augustinian monk, nailed a list of discussable items to the church doors of the Castle Church of Wittenburg in Germany. Among his list of concerns, written in Latin for anyone to understand, was the practice of indulgences, by which members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church could pay charitable contributions in exchange for the remittance of sins both for themselves and others, including the souls of the deceased. In 1520, the Holy See released their official opinion about Luther's thesis in the papal bull Exsurge Domine, in which they condemned the opinions of this "wild boar" as "heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears or seductive of simple minds, and against Catholic truth" and a "plague and cancerous disease." In response to this, the contumacious German monk gave them the spiritual finger. The rest, as they say, is history.

"We would make known to all the small store that Martin, his followers and the other rebels have set on God and his Church by their obstinate and shameless temerity. We would protect the herd from one infectious animal, lest its infection spread to the healthy ones. Hence we lay the following injunction on each and every patriarch, archbishop, bishop, on the prelates of patriarchal, metropolitan, cathedral and collegiate churches, and on the religious of every Order -- even the mendicants -- privileged or unprivileged, wherever they may be stationed: that in the strength of their vow of obedience and on pain of the sentence of excommunication, they shall, if so required in the execution of these presents, publicly announce and cause to be announced by others in their churches, that this same Martin and the rest are excommunicate, accursed, condemned, heretics, hardened, interdicted, deprived of possessions and incapable of owning them, and so listed in the enforcement of these presents... We would occasion still greater confounding on the said Martin and the other heretics we have mentioned, and on their adherents, followers and partisans: hence, on the strength of their vow of obedience we enjoin each and every patriarch, archbishop and all other prelates, that even as they were appointed on the authority of Jerome to allay schisms, so now in the present crisis, as their office obliges them, they shall make themselves a wall of defence for their Christian people. They shall not keep silence like dumb dogs that cannot bark, but incessantly cry and lift up their voice, preaching and causing to be preached the word of God and the truth of the Catholic faith against the damnable articles and heretics aforesaid." --Decet Romanum Pontificem, Section V

Within the Exsurge Domine, it is alleged that Luther stated, "Christians must be taught to cherish excommunications rather than to fear them." I have searched through Luther's writings during this period and have not found anything regarding this (On the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences (The Ninety-Five Theses), The Freedom of the Christian Man, An Open Letter to Pope Leo X, Address To The Nobility of the German Nation, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church). However, in his Against the Execrable Bull of the Antichrist, he concludes, "And as they excommunicated me for the sacrilege of heresy, so I excommunicate them in the name of the sacred truth of God. Christ will judge whose excommunication will stand. Amen." Now I was baptized and confirmed Catholic in my younger years, however, I left the Catholic Church as an adult, even getting baptized in a Pentecostal church, but I have yet to be excommunicated, nor to submit an official notice of defect to a bishop. Even so, excommunication doesn't necessarily mean you are no longer a member of the Catholic Church, it just means that you can't take part in the sacraments until you recant. From New Advent: Excommunication, Latin ex, "out of," and communicatio, "communion" -- exclusion from the communion. It is a medicinal rather than a vindictive penalty, being intended not so much to punish the culprit as to correct him and bring him back to the path of righteousness. Its object and its effect are loss of communion, i.e. of the spiritual benefits shared by all the members of Christian society; hence, it can affect only those who by baptism have been admitted to that society.

It's easy to see why everyone confuses American Baptist minister and civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) with Protestant Reformation kickstarter Martin Luther (1483-1546). Actually, MLK was born Michael Jr. and his father renamed them both to Martin Luther after visiting Nazi Germany during the 1934 Baptist World Alliance.

Asceticism Sunday, January 2, 2022

Today we (generally speaking) remember Macarius of Alexandria (Macarius the Younger, c. 295-395), a candy merchant who converted around the age of forty and became an ascetic monk for sixty years in the Egyptian deserts. His gifts included healing, casting out demons, prophecy, visions, and discerning the inner thoughts of men. According to the OCA, a proud thought once came to Macarius to go to Rome and heal the sick. Struggling with the temptation, he filled up a sack of sand, loaded it on himself and walked into the desert until he exhausted his body. The proud thought then left him. According to CatholicSaints, he spent six months naked in the marshes, beset constantly by vicious blood-sucking flies and mosquitoes, in the hope of destroying his last bit of sexual desire. The terrible conditions and attacking insects left him so deformed that when he returned to the monks they could recognize him only by his voice. According to Catholic Daily Readings, he disguised himself in secular clothing and over the course of the entire forty-day Great Lent neither ate bread nor drank water. No one saw him eating or sitting down and he made baskets of palm leaves while he was standing. The original monastery that bears his name is still active in the ancient Scetis Desert where members awaken each day at 3:00AM for prayer and prostrations, chanting at 4:00AM, followed by morning service which lasts several hours, a blessed day of labor in one of several vocations (building restoration, forging, machining, farming, touristry), psalms at mid-day accompanied by the communal meal, and then more blessed labor, prayers, study, and quite a bit of alone time before a limited amount of sleep. Oh, wait, this is the monastery of Macarius the Great, a contemporary of Macarius the Younger who was also an ascetic monk in the deserts of Egypt. The monastery of Macarius the Younger is somewhere in the Nitria Desert and consists of a small random cave where anyone who is called may live a solitary life of prayer, fasting, and devotion. Just remember that in situations of extreme starvation and sleep-deprivation, the devil may speak to you and will in all probability tempt you. Personally, I believe at a young age I was called to be a monk but was unwilling to give up candy, a weakness which I am tempted with daily.

No Resolutions Saturday, January 1, 2022

Welcoming in the new year with red header text and that's the only change. No promises, no resolutions, no technical modifications. Just more unsophisticated and sarcastic observations. Here we go: On this day in 42 B.C., the Roman Senate posthumously deified Julius Caesar. Now call me a simpleton but what kind of god is murdered in the prime of his life and by his own people? That distinction, of course, goes to Jesus Christ. I've said it before and I'll undoubtedly say it again, if Jesus was just some wise guy who suggested we love our enemies then I wouldn't give a shit more or less. However, he claimed to be God's only Son, giving him the right to act as a sacrifice for the atonement of all who committed sins against his Father, then died a gruesome death on the cross in accord with God's regulations, which none can argue against being holy and righteous. Then Jesus rose from the dead, which anyone can question and many deny, but I tend to believe because it seems only rational, but that's probably just the Holy Spirit convicting me since I initially took it on faith when I accepted that the acts of Jesus were gospel truth. Moving on, a Christian monk named Telemachus attempted to stop a gladiatorial fight in a Roman amphitheater on this day in the year 404, which spectators did not like... or did they? According to various sources, Telemachus was then killed either by the gladiators, the spectators, or both. This also happened to be the last known gladiatorial fight in Rome, as Emperor Honorius, himself a Christian, then banned the public activity (gladiator fights, not martyrdom). In 1773, the hymn "Amazing Grace" is first sung in England. It was written by Anglican clergyman John Newton, a reformed slave trader turned abolitionist. According to modern sermons, his slave ship was battered by a terrible storm and he cried out to God, who saved him and ended his slave trading. However, although he was converted by this miraculous event, he did go on slave trading for another six or seven years after the incident. It was during that time which he studied theology and eventually saw the error of his ways. To give credit where credit is due, Newton's hymn-writing partner was poet William Cowper, much like the musical partnership of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. On this day in 1808, the U.S. bans the importation of slaves and on this day in 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation takes effect in Confederate territory. Lastly, let us bow our heads for a moment of silence in honor of the passing of Betty White yesterday.

  This was the first U.S. flag, known as the "Grand Union," which was raised on this day in 1776 by George Washington's army at Prospect Hill in Charlestown, Massachusetts. In some accounts, Washington raised the British flag ("Union Jack") to trick British troops into thinking they had won. A year later, Congress voted for the "Betsy Ross" flag as its replacement.
  The "Betty White" flag. Her name alone kept her off of J. Edgar Hoover's blacklist.



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