Friday, September 30, 2011

The latest trends in moral thought

Kill a newborn - no problem. Just a slightly delayed abortion after all.

Want to eat french fries? Slow down there.

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Blogging considered harmful

I am afraid that for personal ethical reasons I am not prepared to co-operate – I believe that blogging as currently manifested should be made a serious criminal office . . .

Ah yes, those people publishing their opinions, what a danger to society. We should ban newspapers and political organizations too, nothing good comes of stirring up the pot.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

L'Shanah Tovah!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The universe is really big

Check out the atlas.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Who's the job creator?

Correct answer: Me!

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Monday, September 19, 2011


Today I declare war on dubious uses of words. The most common issue I see is with the word "nonplussed", which in fact means bewildered but which people use to mean, I guess, "not plussed", except that plussed is not a word, alas.

Exhibit A:

They're super messy. Sauce ends up on your hands, your face, and very often your friend's couch. As a host, you want to order wings but you know your friends have the dexterity and cleanliness of a kindergartner. This typically doesn't go over well with your already nonplussed Significant Other.

I declare this war for two reasons.

Firstly, I think it is important for words to have meanings, so that we can have discussions.

Secondly, every time I try to parse a sentence with "nonplussed" in it, it takes me about a minute to try to figure out what in the world the author means. For example, here I was wondering why the spouse was bewildered.

On a side note, Wikipedia says that the word refute is now of disputed usage. I have never heard it mean anything other than to "deny with reasoned argument", but apparently now it just means to disagree with someone? What nonsense. We already have a word that means that - "disagree".

Now we must ask if this war is a just war. Well, there are a bunch of traditional criteria for jus ad bellum.

Just cause - Certainly met. We can't have language disintegrating on us.

Proper authority - degree from a prestigious institution, know a few English majors. Close enough.

Right intention - For sure.

Reasonable prospect of success - debatable, but I think if we publicly shame people who do stuff like this, treat them like cigarette smokers (no incorrect usages of nonplussed allowed within 25 feet of this building!) we can win.

Proportionality - In my opinion, quite proportional.

Last resort - I've tried gentle correction, but it just doesn't work! I'm at wit's end here.

So I extend this invitation to all those who love freedom and being able to understand what other people are saying. Remember you're either with me or against me.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hipster Troll God

A fine Internet meme.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Railroads and "Do Not Hump"

Dear Cecil:

Whilst driving around recently a friend and I got stuck at a railroad crossing waiting for a freight train to go by. To pass the time, we began speculating on the meaning of a sign we saw on some of the cars saying DO NOT HUMP. We conjectured that this might be some sort of safe-sex campaign organized by the railroads in the wake of the AIDS crisis, but eventually rejected the idea. So we put it to you, Cecil — what is the meaning of this odd instruction?

— Gene W., Dallas

Sad to say, I knew exactly what it meant before I read the article.

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Monday, September 05, 2011

Historical Jesus vs. Real Jesus

In The Five Gospels the Jesus Seminar warns against looking for a comfortable Jesus. That is sound advice. What I have tried to demonstrate in this book, however, is that the truly uncomfortable Jesus, the genuinely “countercultural” Jesus, is not the one reconstructed according to the ethos of contemporary academics-whether it is Crossan’s politically correct revolutionary Jesus or Borg’s charismatic-founder Jesus or any of the others-but the one inscribed in the canonical Gospels. The Jesus who truly challenges this age, as every age, is the one who suffers in obedience to God and calls others to such suffering service in behalf of humanity. This is the Jesus that classical Christianity has always proclaimed; this is an understanding of discipleship to which classical Christianity has always held.

- The Real Jesus, epilogue, by Luke Timothy Johnson

Earlier this summer I praised Bord for his book Jesus. I found some of Borg's explanations for the Gospel accounts to be surprisingly fresh, startling, and insightful. However Borg, as do others of the Jesus Seminar, play down Jesus' divinity. He doesn't come right out and say that the resurrection didn't happen, but he does describe the resurrection in terms of an "experience" more than an event, one that was perhaps more psychological in nature than physical. Borg downplays the importance of the Gospel of John, again true to his Jesus Seminar affiliation. Members of the Jesus Seminar tend to think John inauthentic to the "historical Jesus."

Johnson in The Real Jesus, provides a wonderful rebuttal to the weaker points of Borg and other Jesus Seminar writers. Johnson points out that the "historical Socrates" is not the real Socrates, no more is the quest for the "historical Jesus" going to lead us to the real Jesus. Johnson favors working with the canon to uncover who Jesus really is, rather than throwing out Gospels or epistles that don't seem to jive with the historians' preconception of who Jesus is. Johnson argues that our best way to learn about Christ is through the writings of his first followers and the early church. Johnson recognizes the diversity of perspectives in the canon, but rather than finding them a problem, accepts that the early Christians accepted the plurality, and so should we. Instead of focusing on minute differences and discounting one Gospel or the other, Johnson focuses on what he calls the "pattern of Messiahship" the big themes and major teachings of who Jesus is and his message that are present in all four Gospels.

The first half of the book is a bit of a diatribe against the Jesus Seminar folks, and Johnson doesn't really come into his own ideas until the second half, but it is worth reading through the whole thing to fully appreciate both sides of the "historical Jesus" versus "real Jesus" argument.
Sadly Borg and the Jesus Seminar camp are excellent at marketing themselves, and so Jesus was a New York Times bestseller, whereas The Real Jesus is not a well known book. If you only have time for one, read The Real Jesus. Besides, it's shorter!

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Sage advice

Mating starts with the male and female locating and identifying each other using a mixture of pheromones and vibrational communication. Once they have satisfied the other that they are of opposite sex and of the correct species, mating can commence.

The best part about this is that it is good advice for most species.

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How to tie a tie like a great old one

A great use for ties that may have been cast into the outer void.

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