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'
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.
Truetom strode into the room and slapped his Bible down on the bar. All heads turned at the sharp retort. All male heads, that is. All female heads had already swung around at his first appearance, smitten instantly by his pure animal virility.
“What will it be, mister?” asked the bartender uneasily, fidgeting in the presence of an indefinable yet unquestionable authority. “Milk,” Truetom replied and he said no more, so that the bartender began to wonder.
Presently it came to him: “Say, aren’t you Truetom, the world-famous door to door preacher?” Truetom looked up coolly. “What’s it to you?” he said. “Nothing, mister, really – I meant no offence. Here – let me pour myself a milk, too. In fact – HEY! EVERYBODY! TRUETOM IS HERE! MILK FOR EVERYBODY! A TOAST TO TRUETOM!”
“Is there anything about me that says ‘milktoast’ to you?” Truetom scowled, and milk ran out from the terrified man’s mouth. “I’m with the true religion and I NEVER MILKTOAST! PAGANS DID THAT!"
“Sure, Mister, whatever you say,” stammered the bartender.
Truetom impaled him with a gaze. “It’s about time you understood a few things. “I’m TrueTom. I have a corporate agenda. I’m not afraid to play by the rules and I do what I’m told. Don’t tell me what to do because I’ll do it right away and sometimes a man doesn’t want what he’s asked for. You got that?” and the bartender murmured something incoherent as he wet himself.
“I’d advise you not to try to find out,” Truetom stared her down. Undeterred, the brazen hussy placed her hand on his inner thigh and slowly moved it – not in the direction of his rugged boots. In a flash, Truetom whirled about and decked her with a single punch. Then he calmly resumed sipping his milk as she lay face down on the filthy floor.
When he was done he put down his glass and picked up his Bible. “I have a scripture for all you scum,” he said. "It's found at John 8:15. 'You judge according to the flesh. I do not judge any man at all.'"
“Look, Truetom, we don’t want no trouble. I’ve got my own religion and I never talk about religion and politics anyhow – anything that matters I don’t come near – and I….” Truetom grabbed him by the neck and rammed his head into another verse he’d just looked up. “a slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all, qualified to teach, showing restraint when wronged.” – 2 Timothy 2:24
At length he put his Bible in its holster and turned. “Alright, I’m coming out!” Truetom hollered out the door to the townspeople amidst the pouring rain. “Don’t nobody raise no objections, or ‘viewpoints!’ If anybody raises an objection or viewpoint, I’ll preach to him AND I’ll preach to his wife AND I’ll preach to his kids. Don’t go cutting up no more wrong deeds or I’ll be back!”
He rode slowly out of town – dead center through the middle of the street, and nobody raised a word of reply.
The other day in Madrid, a bull leapt from the ring into the stands. It gored a few, trampled a few, fell on a few. Altogether, 40 were hurt, only a few seriously. Sure scared the wits out of them all, though. Now....you know the way American TV is: they ran the scene as a loop so that you saw it, not once, but several times. And then the evening news did the same, and the commentaries, and the talk shows, and probably the morning news next day, in case anyone had missed it. In short...if Americans were anywhere that day, they saw the charging bull and the fleeing people.
And......let's be honest. It was hard not to root for the bull. Not to imply that we're happy about the injured people. No. You know me better than that. I didn't say anyone rooted against the people. It's just that they rooted for the bull. These folks had come to see the bull taunted, tormented, tortured, and killed. But the tables were turned! It didn't turn out that way. Well, actually it did...the bull was put to death....but not before he had claimed a few for himself.
Watching the TV loop, wasn't it a bit like those revenge shows people love to watch, where the hero is pushed, shoved, framed, bullied, run over, his family molested, attacked, stomped upon....how can anyone endure such atrocities? but then finally, his nasty tormentor gets what's coming to him, in a blood-pumping mother-of-all fights during which he absorbs blow after blow, knifethrust after knifethrust, javelin piercings, bazookas blasts, gunshot after gunshot (whereas anyone else promptly falls with a single shot fired in their general direction) till he....YES!! staggers and crashes to the ground. Whew!! Our hero's exhausted! He turns his back....why would he not?.. ...and consoles the remains of his long-suffering family, and begins to......OMIGOSH!!!!.....the bad guy's getting up again!!! How is that possible??!! He's creeping up on tiptoe with a crowbar!!!! Our hero suspects nothing! He's not even looking! Turn around, you idiot!! His foe cocks for the final blow!!! I can't watch!! (well...maybe a little) but then KA-BLAMO!!!!....YES!! The cowering woman summons all her unsuspected strength and fires one last fatal shot through his head, splattering brains everywhere; he staggers backward and topples over the balcony, falling 40 floors and landing in a packed pool of piranhas, who devour him alive, turning the water bright red, all to the sounds of his agonized screams! YEAH!!!! THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!!!!
But, back to the.....huh?....what do'ya mean 'lover of violence?' The bad guy got what was coming to him, didn't he?
As I say, back to the bullfight.
As a general rule, a rampaging bull at a social gathering would be cause for concern. You'd hope no one got hurt. It takes only one crucial fact....in this case, that the purpose of this gathering was to see the bull tormented and slaughtered .... to turn all our normal sensibilities upon their head. And a thousand years from now, when bullfights are ancient and forgotten history, so that no one could ever imagine such an cruel purpose to any gathering, one might, missing that key fact, find it absolutely barbaric that anyone could root for the murderous bull. Everything turns on one key fact, which may or may not be evident.
All of which is introduction to the account where Elisha calls down evil upon taunting children, whereupon bears come out of the woods and devour them.
And he proceeded to go up from there to Bethel. As he was going up on the way, there were small boys that came out from the city and began to jeer him and that kept saying to him: “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” Finally he turned behind him and saw them and called down evil upon them in the name of Jehovah. Then two she-bears came out from the woods and went tearing to pieces forty-two children of their number. (2 Kings 2:23-24)
Let's face it; it's hard to put a happy face on that one. About the best you can do is assign that week's Bible review to a bald brother, who will tap his own shiny dome and pass himself off as one of a protected species, courtesy of 2nd Kings. But might there be some key fact that, just like the missing ingredient in Madrid, might make all the difference if we but knew what it was? It seems a notion worth pursuing.
For this account is from 3000 years ago. And I remember, for example, just 50 years ago, my mother might holler “I'll kill you for that!” if I....oh...say....ate the frosting off her newly baked cake. Americans my age will remember those five words were once a harmless expression you might use on a mischievous child. They might, in some cases, be practically an expression of endearment. The words, in most contexts, were not to be taken literally. Wasn't the accused kid of Twelve Angry Men found “not guilty” when one juror observed just that fact? Today, however, using those words will land you in deep trouble with the child protective people, the hate speech people, and God knows who else. Those oft uttered words of a half century ago are absolutely taboo today (though the deed has become commonplace).
If such a cultural shift can happen in a mere 50 years, what might happen in 3000 years? We think of the small boys of 2nd Kings in terms of kids of today and feel Elisha should count himself lucky they didn't attack him with baseball bats, so that to create such a fuss over mere words is just plain unseamly. But might there have been a societal norm of the day that declared certain conduct absolutely off-limits? Some norm known by one and all, drilled into the innermost fiber of everyone's being, so that a knowing violation would be shockingly unspeakable? A norm that equated mocking a prophet of God to mocking God himself, at a time when God was central everyone's being? It's a plausible notion to me. To you?
To be sure, such a notion flies in the face of the modern-day concept of “human rights,” but isn't there something a little grandiose about that concept? I admit, I'm naturally suspicious of any point-of-view originating in the modern-day, lest it be a manifestation of Proverbs 30:12: “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes but that has not been washed from its own excrement,” but even with that said, I distrust the concept. I prefer to speak of the “golden rule,” which embraces all that is noble about “human rights,” while discarding all that is pretentious.
For life itself doesn't seem to afford much respect for “human rights.” In his day, Ronald Reagan was arguably the most influential person alive. Ten years later, a victim of Alzheimer’s, he didn't know who he was. If nature itself discards us so easily...if we can so readily and unpredictably fall victim to loathsome disease or frightful accident....well....where is nature's respect for our “rights?”
Not to mention that, if you go speaking of “rights,” it almost seems that you ought to be able to do something about it if such rights are violated. While that may sometimes happen, we all know that, as often as not in the worldwide scheme of things, people's rights are violated with impunity. So how are they rights? Better to apply the golden rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matt 7:12) It conveys all the kindness of “rights,” but sidesteps what doesn't fit. It does, however, imply humility, and ours is an age where people like to “stand proud,” so “human rights” is the terminology that sticks.
Anyway, I advance my theory in case I myself may someday be assigned a commentary of 2 Kings 2:23-24. I'll have to say something, and I won't be able to play it for laughs, like the bald brothers do; I have a full head of hair. Though.....sigh....it is thinning. Maybe when the time comes, the whole point will be moot.
Oh, very well!
What can one say? Most of Jehovah's Witnesses will love it. As for everyone else.....well, I just don't know.
Mrs. Sheepandgoats and I blew into Ithaca just as the whole city was about to “stand up for peace.” Of course, we didn’t know they were going to do that. We’d just come down to catch the tail end of the three day music festival. But we hadn’t been in town more than half an hour before some counterculture type person urged us to get to Stewart Park where, at 3 PM, folks would congeal into a giant peace sign. They planned to photograph it from the air and submit it to the Guinness World Record organization. Instead, we risked being seen as warmongers and stayed in the Village Court section, where a cajun band called Bayou Road Krewewas playing.
For a quick mini-excursion, you can’t go wrong traipsing down to Ithaca. My wife and I do it a lot. Just 90 miles southeast of our Rochester home, Ithaca is a college town. SUNY (State University of New York) at Ithaca perches high on the hill to the south and Cornell University straddles the eastern one. The city proper is crammed on a shelf at the foot of Cayuga Lake, but it doesn’t really fit, so it flows up into the surrounding hills, climbing as if ivy. Up there, the streets…commendably gridlike on the shelf…throw off all restraint and writhe here, there, and every confusing where. Descending one of those hills on a snowy day is no job for an atheist.
Four or five creeks cascade from the heights into Cayuga Lake. “Ithaca is Gorges” say t-shirts and bumper stickers. It’s true. Gorges cut deep into the earth right through the heart of the city - two of them pass through Cornell itself. Students bustle on campus above while, two hundred feet down, others hike the gorge as if in a different world. Within ten miles of the city can be found over one hundred waterfalls…I’ve heard some say as high as 150 (Mrs Sheepandgoats and myself strive to find them all).….and some of them are truly spectacular. The local earth museum highlights the fossils and sedimentary layers thus exposed. Try visiting sometime, as I have, with Tom Pearlsandswine. Hear him muttering throughout about the “wiles of Satan,” and challenging museum staff at every exhibit. You’ll want to bury your own head in that sediment.
So alluring is Ithaca that some graduate from the colleges and stay put. They obtain four year or six year degrees, then they hole up in some commune on the hills growing organic food. Or work at the local bookstore. Or start an earth-friendly “green” business. According to this webmaster, Ithaca’s been called "One of America's Most Enlightened Communities" and one of "The Top 10 Places to Drop Out of Society." Perhaps the two titles aren’t as mutually exclusive as they at first appear.
An eclectic bunch….some of them. Generally quite pleasant, though you can’t be one who clucks his tongue at unusual characters. Opening day parade for the music festival consisted of “an automotive ballet composed of a procession of Volvos in synchronized driving formation. A group of burly He-Men toting chainsaws as if they were trombones…..A distinct absence of Odd Fellows, but no shortage of weirdos,” according to the Ithaca Journal. I’m told by the local congregation that these folks tend not to be real receptive to the Bible’s message, perceiving it as a ploy to restrict their freedom. I once worked with a young woman whose divorced father turned up years later as a nudist in Ithaca. So I’m not so sure I want to run down to Stewart Park and make a giant peace sign with them. Besides, what would Winged Migration Man (WMM) say? Were any of his old buddies among those who called the peace sign the "footprint of the American chicken?"
WMM is the retired fellow who spent 24 years on a nuclear submarine (see comment section) keeping the world safe, he maintains, by deterring Soviet attack. It sounds plausible enough to me. And if he plays the “Neville Chamberlain” card, I will absolutely acquiesce to him. Mr. Chamberlain was the British Prime Minister…there were several like him… who “stood for peace” just prior to WWII. He reached agreement after agreement with the tyrannical Nazis, each of which was broken, yet each time he was lauded to the heavens as a great peacemaker. But history judges him harshly. Had he and his peers stood up to Hitler early on, tens of millions might not have died. Unfortunately, hawks tend to see Hitler everywhere, and are ever ready to strike. Many say the current President is like that. Only in hindsight do we know which concerns were appropriate and which were overrated.
Besides, an aerial peace sign strikes me as a frivolous gesture…..appropriate for a music festival, okay - but for a serious political statement? What if it had rained that day instead of the picture perfect weather that was really had? Would even half of the participants have shown up? You must understand that I come from a people (Jehovah’s Witnesses) that have stood for peace when it cost them their freedom and, in some cases, their lives. Over 10,000 Witnesses were incarcerated in Nazi Germany for their neutral stand during the 1930‘s and 1940‘s. In the United States, 4300 were jailed for refusing military service. To this day, our draft-age people in certain countries are routinely incarcerated for their peaceful stand. So having seen people really stand for peace, I don't read too much into a human peace sign on a sunny day of leisure.
About 6000 people assembledfor the big sign. It will be a record if Guinness accepts it, since they’ve not yet kept track of peace signs. An organizer enthused that "we're not going to trash any weapons because of this, but if everybody has the same idea in their mind, that they are coming together in peace and unity, then there's a community started." Um….yeah….I guess....whatever that means.
Actually, there is one circumstance in which I gladly would have taken part. If I could have driven down with a busload of my friendsfrom the home. It would have been a win-win for all. My friends would have had a ball…..they’d each have gotten a peace sticker. Since about half are in wheelchairs, they'd take up more space when seen from above, a plus for the organizers. Civilians could easily be drafted to wheel them around, especially in Ithaca. And if Carolyn decided to indulge in her favorite ranch dressing and milk beverage, or if Jackie ate her peace sticker, no one would bat an eyelash. They’d chalk it all up to our beautiful diversity.
Wolfgang Kusserow, a 20 year old German executed by the Nazis for refusing to go to war, made this answer to the military tribunal:
“I was brought up as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to God’s Word contained in the Holy Scriptures. The greatest and most holy law he gave mankind is: ‘You shall love your God above all else and your neighbor as yourself.’ Other commandments read: ‘You must not kill.’ Did our Creator have all this written down for the trees?”
So, we enter round 49.
That’s right, Don. And there’s Tom Sheepandgoats hobbling out of his corner.
You know, Jim, I can’t help thinking how this is a far different Sheepandgoats that we saw at the fight’s beginning.
Sure is, Don. He’s not at all so cocky. Even his trainer, Tom Wheatandweeds, looks a little glum.
Ya think he underestimated Moristotle, Jim?
Well, it could be, Don. I mean, Sheepandgoats is several years younger, so he may have just figured the older guy would tire out. He may not have bothered to train.
That certainly could be, Jim. But I really have to hand it to Moristotle. He’s quick. He’s fast. Kinda reminds me of another fighter long ago who said you could turn the lights off and he’d be in bed before the room was dark.
Ha ha, sure enough Don. But let’s look at Sheepandgoats now. He’s circling warily. A little jab, there. Moristotle backs away. Whoa! Moristotle takes a swing. This time Sheepandgoats ducks. Still more eying. Wait! It looks like Sheepandgoats may have spotted an opening! He’s moving in. HE TAKES A VICIOUS SWING!!!
Richard Dawkins can be likened to a turd salesman carrying on as if he’s peddling diamonds!
I mean, shouldn't you look at it that way? What is this “In not many years we'll both be dead?…” What kind of a downer is that? As opposed to living forever on a paradise earth?
Look, I guess I can understand how a person can lose faith and become atheist. There’s plenty of things about life that might push us in that direction. But what I can’t understand is how one can be happy about it, almost gleeful, even evangelistic, and present their view as if it were diamonds.
The atheists of a few generation’s ago, the one’s that came early in the last century, were mournful. They knew giving up on the hopes of persons from time immemorial was a true loss. An unavoidable loss, maybe, but a loss all the same. I truly don’t understand how Dawkins and crew can endeavor to turn it into a triumph.
It’s like finding yourself sentenced to death row. In real life, people are unhappy to be there, but the atheists grin ear to ear about it and invite others to join them as if they’re enjoying the most pleasant party.
A most unusual tactic, Jim. Let’s see how Moristotle responds to that.
I agree, Don. It’s either a brilliant maneuver or a desperate ploy. And sure enough. Look! Moristotle is shaking his head.
That’s right, Jim. But it’s not clear yet what shaking his head signifies.
One thing for sure, Don. If Moristotle keeps on charging, then I expect that very soon Sheepandgoats will be hollering “this man ain’t human!” just like Sam McVey did years ago to Sheepandgoats’ uncle!
Ha! This afforded me much pleasure. Thanks for the good creative effort! And I much enjoyed your post on Joe Jennette.
The unitalicized part of your comment suffers greatly by comparison with the creative-writing part, however.
No, Tom, people should not look at Dawkins the way you suggest. Your misrepresentation of what is going on is breathtaking. As is your failure to understand that your opting to fantasize about eternal life in Eden on Earth is to indulge in wistful pipe-dreaming. Religious belief as opiate.
I don't see any atheists grinning ear to ear, Tom. And you don't either. If you have that picture in your mind, your imagination constructed it there.
Maybe it makes you feel better, but I prefer to take things straight, the way they are, even if they aren't so rosy. Hence (for example), the tragic sense I got from the movie "When Nietzsche Wept."
Maybe you proposed the red herring about grinning atheists by way of imitating Joe Jennette's telling the kids to look at the birdy, so you can attempt to tickle me (or kayo me) while I'm distracted?
Whoa! Don, can you believe it?! This Moristotle is incredible! That was a solid blow in the kisser Sheepandgoats landed, and it didn’t phase him a bit!
Yeh, Jim, I agree, he’s pretty tough. But it really wasn’t that solid of a hit, though.
What are you talking about, big fella. Sheepandgoats nailed him! I mean, what a great point! Imagine, calling Dawkins a turd salesman!
Glad you thought so, Jim. Me, I don’t think so. If Sheepandgoats can’t come up with better stuff than that, he shouldn’t even be in the ring!
I have to respectfully disagree, you fathead! I’ve never seen him in better form. Landing blow after blow! How Moristotle can stand up to such punishment is beyond me.
He stands up to it, you superstitious moron, because he has reason and science on his side.
You gotta be kidding me! You’re not buying this reason and science worship, too, are you? I see sports casting schools sure aren’t what they used to be!
They’re good enough so that a guy sees through ridiculous arguments. And I’m getting pretty tired of your adolescent sermonizing, you pious buffoon.
Now see here, you shortsighted, faithless, can't see the forest for the trees lout……..
Watch your mouth, you ignorant jackass. Unless you want to take this out in the parking lot and I'll teach you what "survival of the fittest" is!
That's fine with me, loudmouth! I'll knock your faithless head around so much you'll learn a new meaning of "turn the other cheek!"