For a Limited Time Only—3 Barbs for that Speaker You Love to Tease

For a limited time only I have removed copyright protection on 3 playful retorts toward that speaker you love to tease:

  1. “When I hear you speak, I marvel at the wisdom of God’s organization in cutting public talks from 45 minutes to 30.”
  2. “Brother, if we ever have to give a hard-hitting message of doom, I think I would be very scared to do that. But if I had practice it might help. Can I announce it when you are scheduled to give the public talk?
  3. If, for whatever reason, turnout is noticeably light, say to that brother, “Do the friends think that you are giving the talk today?”

Now, remember. This is like spice. Don’t cover the plate with it. I don’t know what it is with guys. Once in a while it is women, but it is nearly always guys who crack non-stop (and usually corny corny corny) jokes. I think it is almost a nervous habit. These are generally very nice people, but, I mean, enough already!

Also don’t use it on anyone insecure in his speaking. Don’t use it on anyone you don’t know very well. And don’t be too cavalier about the power of a put-down, however much in jest. But with those preceding caveats—go for it.

Remember, the purpose of humor is to make the medicine go down. It is not to make you popular. If that happens, it is a by-product. And it is unpredictable—with some it will make you a pariah.

 

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Don’t Ask Me to Interpret the Watchtower Artwork

Don’t ask me to interpret the artwork. I’m not good at those type of things. From a prior Watchtower study:

A brother commented on the pictures during a Watchtower study.

He said they portrayed a brother getting strong counsel from two elders, after which he pondered it, after which he met with one of those elders at the cafe (no hard feelings), after which he was busy in the ministry with the same elder!

But a sister saw it differently.

A brother was asking for spiritual help from two elders (maybe he was a chicken in field service), then he thought over their advice, then one of those elders encouraged him further at the cafe, then he was happily working in the ministry with that elder!

"These pictures are open to many interpretations," the study conductor observed.

His observation emboldened me to offer my take:

Brothers were meeting as a threesome as a gesture to the trinity, then one of them pondered that symbolism, then he met one of those elders at the cafe where they discussed this year's prospects for the eternally dismal (but lately revived) Buffalo Bills, then he worked in service with that elder's twin brother, who had flown in the night prior from Boise, Idaho.

After my comment there was a pause.

For several minutes.

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Pruning Thats and Hads and Finding the Value of True Friends

I had decided that I would go through my manuscript and that I would take out excess ‘thats’. Can there be excess thats? I decided that that was the case.

What should be the criteria in taking out ‘thats’? I decided that that criteria should be if it reads funny or not. But when you use the ‘find’ function of Word to uncover all the thats, you discover that that task is not so easy. There are over 2000 of them! Sometimes they look funny. Sometimes they don’t.

Moreover, you find the anchor of your own judgment doesn’t hold as fast as you thought that it would. Sometimes a that looks funny, but after 200 thats, your head begins to hurt and you begin passing thats that you suspect were used in the very same way as thats that you have already sent to the that bin. But that is just a suspicion. The thats you have sent to the that bin are no longer there—you handled that problem, so that that comparison is impossible to make!

Moreover, your friends chime in with help that you suspect is not helpful. Don’t be so hasty, they say. Why, what about this sentence? "I think that that 'that' that that student wrote on the chalkboard was wrong." Nothing wrong with that, is there? Don’t be such a word-nazi.

Well, maybe I was rash and exclusionary in taking out some thats. That is my problem, but I also feel that that problem will not be solved easily since the pruned thats are gone.

Forget the thats! You can’t solve it—move on to another word. Such as had. But I began to discover the true worth of friends when one of them pointed to how had had had had had had had had had had had would work in a sentence. “No way!” I said, but I was wrong. She found it in Wikipedia and if something is in Wikipedia you know it is correct!

The sentence refers to two students, James and John, who are required by an English test to describe a man who had suffered from a cold in the past. John writes "The man had a cold", which the teacher marks incorrect, while James writes the correct "The man had had a cold". Since James's answer was right, it had had a better effect on the teacher.

“The sentence is easier to understand with added punctuation and emphasis: James, while John had had “had”, had had “had had”; “had had” had had a better effect of the teacher

I had just about decided to replace all 100,000 words of my manuscript with “hads” and be done with it, when someone else said, “Look, just get Grammarly, will you?” I had heard of it before, had had that app recommended to me, had that I only listened. It integrates quickly into Word and promptly begins a search and destroy mission for thats, hads, and God knows what else. You make a few corrections before you notice that it is not only picking on your words, but it is picking on the words of those you have quoted. It is even picking on words published, even if those published words are in the Bible!

You muddle through as best you can, for it does save a lot of time, after you note that it flags areas of possible concern—it doesn’t pretend to say they are all wrong. It just wants you to look them over, like I was already doing with thats and hads to see if they look funny.

The next day I launch Word once more and a message appears: “Word detected an issue with ‘Grammarly.’ It caused Word to start slowly.”

Yeah, well it didn’t cause Word to freeze up, did it? something which happens at the drop of a pin, and once it does there is no recourse but a hard reboot, and it takes 5 minutes to get back to where you were! I have tried to troubleshoot that fine problem for the longest time, to no success. Holding my breath, optimism, and watching my language when those strategies fail,  is what I have so far found be the best strategy. But that is a whole different post.

I see there are some proposed fixes to the Grammarly problems that has caused Word to open slowly. I ponder my options.

A. Eliminate Grammarly

B. Eliminate Word

C. Eliminate your laptop

D. Eliminate your pretentious manuscript. What made you think anyone was going to read it anyway?

Oh, and I actually did find a useful tool for ‘thats’. Check it here, if that is an issue for you.

 

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The Power of a Joke—Soviet Times and Now

Russians under communism used to blow off steam with jokes—thousands of jokes against the regime, against the shortage of goods, against the secret police—says Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, narrating his History of Eastern Europe course for the Great Courses teaching company.

“A man stops by the office of the secret police for help in locating his parrot. They chase him away—they have more important things to do—but as the man leaves he lays great stress on how if the parrot is found, they must not think that its political opinions are his.”

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Decades later, Paul Goble keeps up with current jokes: A man formally applies to the government for a position in the Inquisition. He is told he is either 1000 years too late or 3 years too early”—this is a joke that will resonate with Jehovah’s Witnesses who are officially classified as “extremist”—a designation shared only with ISIS.

Some of the old Russian jokes (the Russian term is ‘anekdoti’) are timeless:

What’s the difference between capitalism and communism? Capitalism is man’s exploitation of man but communism is the exact opposite!

The joke is versatile enough that it can be applied to any contrasting forms of government, much as Betty McClure was able to redeem a (possible) ethnic jokes simply by applying it to her circuit overseer husband:

Dave comes from a town so backward that it’s greatest tragedy was the time the town library burned to the ground. Both books were destroyed! One wasn’t even colored in yet!

Versatility is a good thing. Maybe the Russian joke itself from Ecclesiastes 8:9, the verse of how “man has dominated man to his harm.” It is attribute of human rule itself, and can be fit to any specific type, recalculating only the new winners and losers. All human governments drop the ball. Usually it is a bowling ball. As people contemplate the vulnerability of their right and left toes, thus is decided their politics.

Professor Liulevicius goes on to state: “Scholars are still debating whether such jokes undermined the whole system by mocking it or whether on the contrary they stabilized the system by allowing people to vent some of their frustrations without ever openly challenging the regime. There’s no consensus on this,” and then he goes on to explore “the power of a joke.”

I’d say the power of a joke is that of a double-edged sword. Almost like the Word itself, it “is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints from the marrow, and is able to discern thoughts.” (Hebrews 4:12)

A concluding chapter of Tom Irregardless and Me reads thus: “If we have poked some fun at Tom Irregardless, Oscar Oxgoad, and Tom Pearlsandswine, it is to establish the greater picture that God uses people like them to accomplish feats that their higher-ups, though they have far more education, can only dream of. There’s not much that God can do with independent people, and proud ones stop him dead in his tracks. With humble ones, conscious of their spiritual need, he can do a lot.

How can you not write this in view of Jesus’ words that the high-brow do not get the sense of the scriptures because their own vanity gets in the way? At that time Jesus said in response: ‘I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children.” That’s who responds in the main to the Christian message: “young children.” If you present them as though Rhodes Scholars, people visit the Kingdom Hall and discover in no time at all that they’re not—so why not present them with all the foibles that young children have as well as all that is appealing?

Then, too, regarding the power of a joke, there is the Alfred P Doolittle factor: “They’re always throwing goodness at you, but with a little bit of luck a man can duck.” Humor lets you duck when you have to. Let’s face it—in any organized arrangement there will be things that don’t go your way. “Why on earth don’t they do it this way?” you’ll say, as they do it that way to thunderous applause—and use of judicious humor bails you out as a relief valve.

Of course, you can also use humor to savage things, and this I do, too—with the blade pointed the proper way, of course. Vic Vomodog—watch out! Once you laugh at something, will you ever look at it again in the same way? “I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one,” wrote Voltaire. “Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it.”

....

For years, a man has been saving up in order to buy a new car. One day the party official summons him to say that his patience, hard work, and loyalty have been rewarded—he has worked his way up the list and he can now expect his car in but 10 years time. The man asks the party official if he knows on what day 10 years out his car will arrive, to which the official consults his records and tells him. The man then asks if it will come in the morning or afternoon, and at that the official frowns. “What kind of a question is that?” he demands.

“It’s just that I hope it arrives in the afternoon,” the man says, “because the plumber is coming that morning.”

 

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Amazing New Parchment Brings to Life Details of Exodus 8!

They are wicked smart over there at the Whitepebble Biblical Institute. Dumb people need not apply. Try hard to hide that fact as Wilhelm Whitepebble scrutinizes your job application, because he doesn’t miss much.

A normal day finds him at his desk, elbow-deep in ancient manuscripts, dislodging secrets from them that they yield to no one else. But once in a while he smells a rat. He suspects that verses are missing, just as his great great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather did with the Book of Mark—it simply ends too abruptly—and wrote a squirrelly little conclusion himself involving handling snakes and drinking poison.

The current passage that Whitepebble finds curiously incomplete is that of the eighth chapter of Exodus, in which Moses calls forth frogs to plague the land of Egypt and then the magic-practicing priests do the same. “Something is missing,” Wilhelm furrows his brow, “but what?”

Whenever Whitepebble is hot on the scent, he goes out to the dry dessert where parchments are preserved for thousands of years. Sure enough, after poking around a bit, he found one—and it does indeed offer a fascinating footnote to the historical record. It introduces a character found in no other Bible verse—Samthesham Sfinx.

Here is the passage of Exodus 8:1-8 , now revealed as incomplete, that first caught Wilhelm Whitepebble’s attention:

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.

“[vs 5] And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. [vs 6]And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. [vs 7] But the magic practice ing prests did so with their enchantments, and [also] brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. [vs 8] Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do.”

Scholars, especially the scholars that are not fussy, are much enthused with Whitepebble’s new find, and it is currently housed in the central museum of some little town whose name I forget, where it has been dubbed the whitepebble hogwaticulus manuscript. Manifestly, it calls for a new numbering system, as it extends both the present verse 6 and 7, and makes them of unwieldy length:

“vs 5] And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. [vs 6]And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt.

Now, there was dwelling in the land of Egypt a crude man named Samthesham Sfinx, a man harsh in his ways, and uncouth, who was nevertheless a man who put trust in the gods of Egypt. As the frogs came into his house, covering all that was his, and from the kitchen his wife started to let him hear about it, he said, “Not a problem. Don’t we have magic-practicing priests? They’ll get rid of them.”

[vs 7] And then magic practicing priests did likewise with their enchantments, and also brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. Sam, who had been looking forward to their exodus, found that the frogs had doubled in his home, and his wife shrieked something fierce. And so Sam, earthly man that he was, said to Moses and the magic-practicing priests, “Hey, anytime you guys want to take your pissing contest elsewhere, that will be perfectly fine by me!”

[vs 8] Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do.”

You have to see this amazing parchment, which reveals that rank and file Egyptians of that time entertained an ‘enough-is-enough’ policy regarding frogs. Shoot me a text should you decide to go visit, and I’ll rummage through my notes. I’m pretty sure I’ve still retained where the place is, assuming that my wife hasn’t thrown it away during one of her housecleaning expeditions. It may even be in my glove box. She usually misses that.

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No Need to Read Anything Into this Post. Good Luck if You Do. It is Just Me Playing

Call me Ishmael. For many years I sailed onboard the Pequod with the crazed Captain Rookoo in his maniacal search for Moby Geddon.

"Captain, whale sighting dead ahead!" seawoman Anna shouted out. "Maybe you're wrong!" Rookoo muttered and shoved her so violently that she toppled overboard, petticoats all aflutter.

"Captain Rookoo," seaman Gabworthy stated. "My calculations indicate a 78% probability of the while whale's proximity within 23 cubits. Of course, accuracy is necessary, but if you triumverate the trifecta intersect, the conclusion is justified. Look, if you will, at page 673 of 'Nautical Nocturnal Habits of Northern Hemisphere Mammals' that I brought from my private library, which along with others, explains why the entire ship lists six degrees. It clearly indicates (see chart) that...."

"Gag this fellow, and get him out of my sight!" roared Rookoo.

Moby Geddon breached and the consequent splash soaked every square inch of the vessel. "Captain!" seaman Dorsal shouted, "I sense the whale is near!" "Liar!" Rookoo shouted. "Throw him in irons below!"

"I'll handle that gladly sir, hehehehe." seaman Sreck responded.

Moby Geddon breached again and this time its tail caught the stern of the Pequod and spun it like a pinwheel. "Captain!" seaman Whitepebble cried, "Surely the whale is near!"

"Throw him to the sharks for calling me Shirly!" Rookoo bellowed. "I'll have respect here, do you hear?!"

"Now hear this, you scurvy dogs! I have a great job offer in Port Pogo, the best I've ever had, and I mean to get there straightaway. Don't cross me, or I'll have you walk the plank like I did seaman French and Kiss long ago!"


~~~***~~~



Perched high up in the mainsail crowsnest of the good ship PequodRedux, crewman Jack gazed at the horizon.

”Look sharp, up there,” First Mate Rookoo bellowed, “but not too sharp! I’m enjoying the best meal I ever had down here in the Pogo galley. Don’t screw it up!”

“Belay that order!” Captain Dorsal roared. “Keep on the watch up there! The dreaded pirate ship TerribleA is in these waters, trying to catch us with our pants down!”

”Yeah, whatever,” crewman Jack replied, as he removed his pants on account of the blistering heat. “This ‘keep on the watch’ stuff can be overdone. I’ll spot the TerribleA when its bow crashes through the deck and pinches my toes!”


~~~***~~~



“Aye, look ye sharp up there, Jack, for the approaching ship TerribleA! She’s out there! Oh yes, she’s out there!” ordered Captain Dorsal.

“But I forgot what I was supposed to do,” whined Jack.

”Very well, me lad. I’ll send Second Mate Gabworthy up there to give you some pointers about what to look out for.”

“NO! NOT HIM! I REMEMBER HOW TO DO IT. I WAS JUST FUNNING. I DIDN’T MEAN...” screamed Jack in a panic.

But it was too late. Second Mate Gabworthy joined him aloft, with his reassuring manner, he having sailed in the old days with Captain French and Captain Mustard. Aye, Gabworthy was his usual pithy self when he put his arm around the inexperienced sailor, and gave him some reminders, which ran pages and pages and pages.

Whale

 

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'How Did We Do?' Everyone Wants to Know

"HOW DID WE DO?"
 
You know, you did real good. Real good! You held out your hand, I put money in it, and you took it. You even smiled at me and said "Have a nice day!". When I got home I looked in the bag and what I bought was right there where it should have been. So I rate you very highly, indeed.
 
Please send me some more surveys so I can expound upon this transaction, because it was a good one. The rest of life can wait. It's just buying crap from other parties, anyway, who may not do as good as you.
 
...I pondered this as went though my daily routine in the bathroom. My routine completed, I returned to my computer, only to find a new email. "How did we do?" inquired Ace Toilet.
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Weather Then and Tomorrow

Has it always been that way, with bad weather dominating the news? I borrowed Paul’s time machine again - he’s always tinkering with something - and zipped back fifty years. A snowstorm had blanketed the country. I turned on the TV news, expecting to see reporters standing in snowdrifts, pointing to smash-ups on the roads. Nothing! Not until 35 minutes into the program: “We now break to our weather reporter, Sergeant Garrett. Sergeant, what can you tell us?” “It’s winter,” Sargent said, “suck it up! From Frozentusch, Iowa, back to you, Walter.’”

What barbarians! I hopped in the machine and headed home, but when I hit 2014, I got stuck in a snowdrift. I got out to push. All the networks were there. They rushed over. One reporter fell on her keister.

“Whoa! It’s really slick out there! Here’s a man stuck in a time machine! What do you have to say to America, sir”

“Whoa, it’s really slick out here!” I said. “And cold!”

Reporters helped me break free my time machine and gave me a push-start, but I slid right past my exit into year 2038. It appeared that covering snowstorms had brought such good ratings that television news had expanded their coverage to nightfalls.

“All across the country, Americans are coping with encroaching darkness! We now break to our correspondent General Garrett, in Blackentusch, Iowa. General, what can you tell us?”

“Thanks, Charlie. Well, it’s really something out here since the sun went down. I can’t see my hand in front of my face! It’s really very dangerous.”

‘Thanks, General. Now we’ll go to the Federal Bureau of Aggravation.”

“Every day we warn people, and every day there are some who wait till the last minute! You must make sure that you have light bulbs in all lamps and that all lamps are plugged in!”

“Thanks, General. Excellent reporting as always. Good advice. This is potentially very serious and it’s easy to forget that during daytime. But scientists tell us that the sun will absolutely go down tonight – this is not something you want to play games with!”

From 'No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash'

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Contributor of the Day

Ha! Scott Adams tweeted for ideas for his strip and added he would use a submitted one in an upcoming comic.
 
I tweeted: "Maybe play with the idea of the mission statement being written by someone who was binge-watching Mission Impossible. Hmm. Like: ‘If you are caught or killed by this product, our company will disavow any knowledge of your actions’"
 
He gave it a like. Let's see if it appears as a cartoon.
 
Who doesn't love Dilbert?
 
To another tweet suggesting a play on "our employees are our most valuable asset," I added a quote from 'Tom Irregardless and Me': "He knows it is all hogwash. He knows one can go from 'most valuable asset' to 'person non-grata' in a heartbeat. But the newbie from the hills drinks it all in and thinks his new boss is his best friend in the whole wide world."
 
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/686882
 
The line as written refers to Phillip Brumley, Bethel attorney who was plucked from regular Bethel work and put through law school. He said it altered his personality to the extent that his wife said he was like a different person. I sympathized with the remark, but then speculated that maybe it was just him. Maybe he was like the new employee that must sit through interminable drivel about how "our employees are our greatest assets" and then I continued with the bit that I tweeted to Scott's contributor. Pointy-haired_Boss
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The Ducks Have all Lined Up

Move over, signs of the last days. I have discovered a new one that trumps them all.

Kurt, whose status as American Indian is legendary, who absolutely loves 'Indian' jokes and so attracts them by the bushelfull, who coins his own 'Indian' words, grunting 'Squeet,' which means 'Let's go eat,'

Who, in his working days had co-workers addressing him: "Hey, you crazy Indian!"...they were not Witnesses, though Witnesses would do it too, because he was a little 'crazy'...at Walmart, he despaired of getting waited upon, so he lay down on his back on the floor. This sent the place into a panic and everyone raised the cry: "Sir, are you okay?"

"I'm fine," he would reply. "I'm just laying right here until someone helps me."

Kurt, who absolutely loved the joke: "White man speaks with forked tongue." and the answer: "Yeth, I do, but I don't fink ith ferry nithe of you to make ffun of me for it,"

Kurt.....KURT HAS NO INDIAN BLOOD IN HIM!!!!!!"

He took one of those DNA tests and got the verdict. It says he is mostly of Scandanavian descent. - Lapland or thereabouts, I would guess.

New system can come any time, now. The ducks have all lined up, let by the Scandavian duck.

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