Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Bible oddities

September 3, 2009

Not too much time to post today, so I’ll leave you to ponder one of the many strange inexplicable stories from the Bible. This come from the book of Mark, chapter 14. Judas has just betrayed Jesus to a multitude sent by the chief priests, elders, and those totally bad-ass scribes. Jesus says basically, “Dude, you guys saw me everyday and could have taken me anytime. Why this way? Can’t we all just get along?”. O.K., he didn’t say the last part, but mentions something about the “scriptures need to be fulfilled”, although which ones exactly he doesn’t say. This does beg the question, if they knew who he was, as Jesus implies, why did they need Judas to identify him? I guess we need a plot device to heighten the drama. Immediately after this, we have verse 51 (my Revised Standard Version).

And a young man followed him with nothing but a linen cloth about his body; and they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

Ooookay. Until now, I don’t think we have ever heard about this young linen-clothed man, and we never hear about the young man, now sans linen cloth, again. So, there’s a story in there somewhere, just waiting for somebody to bring it to life.

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A prayer for South Carolina

September 1, 2009

Recently, in Columbia City, South Carolina, at the urging of possible mayoral candidate Tameika Isaac Devine, a resolution to open city council meetings with a prayer was unanimously passed with no discussion. It should go without saying that this totally violates the separation of church and state and thoughtlessly tramples over the sensibilities of those present who may not share the religious beliefs espoused in whatever magic words are incanted. Did I say thoughtlessly? No, Devine did put some thought into it.

Devine says she was surprised that City Council had not been starting its meetings with an invocation. “And I totally respect the whole separation of church and state,” she says.
But Devine says council members have an important job to do — the will of the people.

“And I think starting with an invocation gives you that importance and sets that tone,” she says. “But it’s definitely our desire to give voice to a diverse group.”

Although Devine does seem to have some dim glimmering that there is such a thing as separation of church and state, it is clear that she is pretty unclear on the concept. But to be fair, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and offer a prayer that can be used in the city council meetings that will reflect the diverse system of beliefs and non-beliefs of all humanity.


Dear God and Jesus Christ our Savior, we know you are a jealous God whose name is Jealous, so please forgive mention of all these other gods and give us your blessings anyway. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. O Allah, you are all great and merciful so we submit (and really we didn’t mean to pray to Jesus above, really). Lord Krishna, please aid us in our cosmic journey to put our city in harmony with the cosmos. Ganesha, please remove obstacles from the paths to reach our goals for our city. Lakshmi, please give us luck in our plans and make us beautiful and wealthy. Agni, we offer oblation, please don’t burn us. Vishnu, please help us create great plans, and Shiva, let us destroy old unworkable plans so we may begin anew. Great Spirit, help us in our hunt on this vision quest. Lord Buddha, help us make the city such that all our people can escape the endless cycle of suffering, perhaps by adding more light rail to ease traffic congestion. Jah, we promise to legalize ganja to let people engage in spiritual quests. Satan, thanks for getting us into that whole “Tree of Knowledge” thing; it’s working out pretty well. Athena, give us wisdom. Thor, please don’t strike us with lightning, and Loki, please don’t start causing mischief in our fair city. Blessed be the Goddess, by whichever name you know her, and may her blessings be bountiful upon us. We recognize the way of the Tao, which if can be named is not the eternal Tao. [insert appropriate incantations from other faiths, Judaism, Sikh, Bahai, Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc. etc. here]. Finally, we acknowledge that it is possible that none of these gods or goddesses exist so you should quit worrying and enjoy your life.

Now that this prayer is ended, it is the end of the day and time to go home.

On second thought, maybe a city council should just focus on doing the city’s business.

The Beck paradox

August 14, 2009

Unfortunately, I have not had very much time to put into watching actual news, let alone Faux News, but after my run and during stretches tonight I managed to see a little of the Colbert Report (caution, automatic audio there) which had an interesting clip of Glenn Beck. The whole Beck video can be found here.

Essentially, he said that Obama has a “deep seat hatred for white people”. When confronted with the fact that Obama has actually put many Caucasians (or “white people”) on his staff, he replied that he wasn’t saying that that Obama “didn’t like white people”, but that he was still was clearly a racist. His evidence was that Obama attended Rev. Wright’s church (I would be prepared to call Obama delusional on this point, but that’s a different story). Oh, and calling the actions of a cop stupid for arresting a professor for behaving obnoxiously. I am not sure Beck understands the meaning of the word evidence.

This begs two questions.
1) Why is Glenn Beck still on the air?
2) Why would anyone hire Beck for any position requiring at least a high school diploma?

But then, this is television, and Faux News no less. So, probably the answer to 2) explains 1).

Dear Birthers

August 1, 2009

Was President Obama born in the United States?

Birth certificate from a real actual U.S. state

Birth certificate from a real actual U.S. state

Yes.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled Michael Jackson news.

Easter feasting

April 12, 2009

I had meant to get to get this posting out earlier today, but I got distracted running around to get stuff ready for a 20 mile beach run. An unexpectedly painful run it turns out. Seems my shoes have gotten flat, so it was not pretty. But, back and recovered, so here we go. This was just a few meandering and light thoughts on what are good items of consumption for Easter tomorrow.

As we look forward to celebrating Easter this year, it seems only right that the correct foods and drink should be chosen to celebrate the death and resurrection of mythical Osiris. Osiris (with attendant celebration), and in fact, many of the plethora of dead and resurrected gods originated in or were inspired from ancient Sumer and Egypt. As these are the places where, at the dawn of civilization, beer originated, it seems only fitting that beer figure prominently in the celebrations. In fact, many argue that beer made civilization possible.

Beyond beer, what else could there be? One well known resurrected god being Osiris, one can stick with traditional Egyptian food. It seems bread was pretty important. From this link:

The mainstay of Egyptian diets, aysh (bread) comes in several forms. The most common is a pita type made either with refined white flour called aysh shami, or with coarse, whole wheat, aysh baladi. Stuffed with any of several fillings, it becomes the Egyptian sandwich. Aysh shams is bread made from leavened dough allowed to rise in the sun, while plain aysh comes in long, skinny, French-style loaves.

Egypt’s remarkable records tell us that bread was made in more than thirty different shapes. They included the flat, round loaf now commonly called pita, still a staple food in Egypt. Sweetened doughs or cakes, treasured as food for the gods, were devised by combining honey, dates and other fruits, spices, and nuts with the dough, which was baked in the shapes of animals and birds. Since there was no sugar, honey was used as a sweetener by the rich, and poor people used dates and fruit juices.

Of course, along with liquid bread:

Beer was the national drink, made from the crops of barley. To improve the taste the Egyptians would add spices and it was usually stored in labeled clay jars.

One could also go for mummy shaped cakes. Or, of course, there’s always eggs and ham. More on all the fun death and resurrection stuff Sunday.

Osiris

Osiris

A galactic apology

April 2, 2009

As a final note for strange happenings on or around April 1, I should mention a paper recently uncovered on arxiv.org . Apparently, somebody has arranged a cluster of galaxies to spell out “We apologize for the inconvenience”. From the paper:

On the other hand, many would attribute a much deeper meaning
to the appearance of this cluster. Firstly, the occurrence of these
phenomena could potentially lend support to some of the more exotic
models for Dark Energy or modified gravity, if they are able to
predict such structures. More controversially, as most occurrences
of English sentences are considered to be the work of intelligent
beings, the existence of these messages might indicate intelligent
life beyond our own. The scale of the messages would require a
lifeform with abilities far beyond those currently possessed by humans,
and even beyond those which we could realistically expect
to acquire; implying the existence of an intelligent being with extraordinary
powers. Indeed, another appearance of exactly the same
message has been previously reported in the hotly debated work by
Adams (1985), where the text is interpreted as God’s final message
to His creation.

Would Somebody care to explain this?

Herding Cats

April 1, 2009

From Slashdot, I’ve learned about a new book coming out all about mastering the cat command in Unix and Unix-like systems. This seems as fun as the tac bash shell command (well, I have on at least one or two occasions used tac before, for some strange reason or another). For the Unix uninitiated, cat is a command that simply prints a file on screen. For example, if you have a file called, someinterestingfile.txt, you would type “cat someinterestingfile.txt” to see the whole thing flash by. If it is too big, you could type “cat someinterestingfile.txt | more” or more simply, “more –or less– someinterestingfile.txt”. So why does cat need its own book? From the cat link:

O’Reilly Net: Isn’t mastering cat supposed to be quite easy? Does it really necessitates its own book?

Shlomi Fish: Hell no! Mastering cat is not easy at all. In fact, mastering cat is almost as difficult as herding cats.

For example, one case where I found that people truly underestimate the power of cat is in the prefixing a line example. You can do that with:

echo “This would be the first line” | cat – myfile.txt > myfile.txt.new
mv -f myfile.txt.new myfile.txt

But people do not realize that and instead opted to use sed, awk, or even perl (!). It can be taken further, of course. If the prefix is already in its own file, you can simply use cat prefix.txt myfile.txt

Of course, if you want to append the same text to both the start and the end of a file, you can’t do that with cat – myfile.txt -. It simply doesn’t work that way. So, I end up explaining a lot about UNIX pipeline concepts in the book.

I’m looking forward to his next book on echo.

On a completely unrelated note, Happy April 1st everybody!

The usefulness of religion

March 31, 2009

Yup. That’s about right.

A great pyramid scam

March 15, 2009

After getting home this Saturday night, I popped on the ol’ television out of curiosity. The History Channel had a show on “Ancient Astronauts”. So, I thought this ought to be amusing for a few minutes. You could cut the credulity with a knife.

Apparently, the pyramid is an amazing structure. How could lowly humans possibly come up with it? Why are these mysterious pyramid shapes found throughout the world? It would seem that the narrators of this fine enlightening show had not gotten around yet to considering the possibility that a pyramid structure is, in fact, the most stable large structure, at least in a place with gravity (which most spots on the Earth have), that could be built with technology possessed by ancient peoples. This is discussed in more detail here. How they were built is not a mystery either, as discussed here.

The most hilarious bit though, was what was said immediately prior to my changing the channel (I just couldn’t take any more entertainment). Apparently, two of the pyramids have the same perimeter. How, some strangely unimaginative person queried, could this possibly be done? Clearly, the implication is that ancient Egyptians were utterly incapable of either working from a set design or even measuring the perimeter of the pyramid to figure out what to make the perimeter of the next one and plan accordingly. Amazing. By this logic, 747 jets are designed and built by extraterrestrials, along with cars, and cookie cutter houses. It was immediately after this I figured I should see what else was on.

Do they really think humans were so incapable of figuring anything out, even back in the days of the ancient Egyptians? Why is it that every time somebody can’t figure out how something was done, or sees some fanciful drawings, extraterrestrials are immediately invoked by some? Now, if they found a clear extraterrestrial skeleton (or its equivalent) in a pyramid, or some piece of alien technology clearly not of human origin, then we’d have something. Until then, give our a species a little credit, eh? We’re not perfect and are still learning, but we’ve always been pretty good problem solvers.

Happy Pi Day!

March 14, 2009
Pie Are Round!

Pie Are Squared!

A very Happy Pi day for everyone. Of course, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, \pi, has a long and fascinating history, as can also be found here and here. It allows us to easily do useful things with angles, and hence phases for describing waves and much more.

One of the many formulae for computing \pi (as can be found at Wolfram) is:

\pi = 2\sum_{n=0}^{\infty}\frac{n!}{(2n + 1)!!}

Besides being a very cool formula, that was also an excuse to dip my toes into Latex again. It’s been quite a few years since playing with for publishing, so it feels good to have it here on the WordPress blogging engine.

Getting back to \pi, it seems only fitting that this ancient and venerable number have its own day to be remembered. It also seems only right that this day be 3.14. It also seems only fitting that its day be celebrating by eating, what else, pie! Having illustrated one of the formulae for obtaining \pi, I direct your attention to what could appear to be a most excellent way to obtain pie. The Quantum Pontiff has posted a pie recipe which incredibly includes 2 of the major food groups, chocolate and bacon. Being an experimentalist swayed by primarily by evidence, it seems these experimental results will need to be reproduced.