Posts Tagged ‘Humor’

Introducing Kanye Wilson

September 15, 2009

So much to write about these days, but unfortunately too little time in which to write it. So, at the risk of giving too much attention to people who do not deserve it, I’d like to make a very quick proposal for a new comedic musical duo. Based on events I’ve heard about over the last few days, I’d like to see combined the musical stylings, uncontainable ego, and microphone swiping antics, of Kanye West with the unfettered and uninformed outbursts of Rep. Joe “You lie!” Wilson.

Think of it! The merged talents would provide background noise music for any occasion, from inconsequential award shows to presidential addresses. This duo would be untouchable, meaning probably nobody would touch it. I can imagine:

I see the emotion in your eyes, that you, try not to show*
— You lie! You lie! —

The audience gamut would be covered, from, what is in Kenye’s mind, the voice of a generation, to the voice of stark raving right wing lunatics. Well, to be fair, Wilson may not be totally stark raving, but they do seem to have found his voice. I suspect that was calculated. Also, to be fair, contrary to the sentiment expressed during his short temper tantrum, he has voted for providing taxpayer money for healthcare for illegal immigrants in the past, which Bill HR 3200 (the bill in question) will not do.

* From West’s song “Addiction”. Not being my style, I’m not that familiar with his material, but tried to find something vaguely health care related, for what it’s worth.

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.

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.

A big hole in the ground

August 28, 2009
Pot of gold at at Grand Canyon

Pot of gold at at Grand Canyon

It was sort of a last minute thing, but we just spent a few days in the Grand Canyon from which we’re now back. A magnificent site. Besides the size, of course, one gets the impression of age. This is an ancient place. The Colorado river has worn away rock over millions of years to open up this expanse. The exposed rocks and formations are themselves ancient. We have near the bottom a group of layers called the Tonto group which consists of Tapeats sandstone (beach sand deposited around 550 million years ago), Bright Angel shale (calm water sediment from 540 million years ago), and Mauv limestone (sea sediment from 530 million years ago). Fossils from these layers include jellyfish, trilobites (some of which we saw in some of the exhibits, unfortunately the memory card on the camera was full), and others. Near the top is the Kaibab formation, which are old sea sediments from around 250 million years ago. Fossils here include trilobites, sponges, brachiopods, etc. In between there are deposits from swamps, flood plains, ancient rivers, etc. A snapshot of earth’s ancient history.

The corroborative techniques of radiometric dating, fossil layers, and other techniques all point to the same answers for the ancient ages. What about the canyon itself? How old is it?

As late as last year, a report pointed to a strong possibility that the canyon may have formed, or at least started forming, 55 million years ago. From the article:

The team believes an ancestral Grand Canyon developed in its eastern section about 55 million years ago, later linking with other segments that had evolved separately. “It’s a complicated picture because different segments of the canyon appear to have evolved at different times and subsequently were integrated,” Flowers said.

The ancient sandstone in the canyon walls contains grains of a phosphate mineral known as apatite — hosting trace amounts of the radioactive elements uranium and thorium — which expel helium atoms as they decay, she said. An abundance of the three elements, paired with temperature information from Earth’s interior, provided the team a clock of sorts to calculate when the apatite grains were embedded in rock a mile deep — the approximate depth of the canyon today — and when they cooled as they neared Earth’s surface as a result of erosion.

Apatite samples from the bottom of the Upper Granite Gorge region of the Grand Canyon yield similar dates as samples collected on the nearby plateau, said Caltech’s Wernicke. “Because both canyon and plateau samples resided at nearly the same depth beneath the Earth’s surface 55 million years ago, a canyon of about the same dimensions of today may have existed at least that far back, and possibly as far back as the time of dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago.”

Of course, some literal fundamentalist Creationists would like people to accept their hypothesis, if it could be called that, that the canyon was formed during Noah’s flood where it rained 40 days and more water that exists on our entire planet covered it for a period of time. So that instead of 55 million years towards which the evidence points, they would like to advance the idea that the canyon was formed in about a year, I guess. So here’s what I suggest to Creationists to test their ideas. Since the time scale suggested is so short, this should be easy. Scale model. Get some limestone (We’ll only deal with the top Kaibab layer here, to give a starting point) of some thickness, and perhaps combined with shale as well. Put on top of it the appropriately scaled volume of water. Allow it to drain for an appropriately scaled amount of time. This will probably 2 weeks to a month, depending on how much limestone you have and I’m too lazy to work out the numbers. It will be up to you to convince scientists that the appropriate amounts of rock, water, and time were chosen. See if you make a small canyon. I eagerly await your results.

Of course, I suppose also for literal fundamentalists, the well known optical laws of refraction and reflection (see here or here) did not exist before Noah’s flood.

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.