Saturday salmagundi

• Headline: “Genius or clown? Paris show weighs Dali legacy” Without offering any evaluation of Salvador Dali himself, we should note that genius and clown are not mutually exclusive categories.

• Mark Evanier, of course, has a Larry Hagman story. It’s several stories, actually, and they’re all pretty good.

• Caitlin Desjardins offers a thoughtful reflection on a poem by Yehuda Amichai. Go read the whole thing, but here’s a tiny taste of the poem:

The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.

• “The Amazing TV Remote Dead Battery Trick.” This trick does not seem to work for a wireless mouse.

• Studies about religion that measure what respondents say about themselves are useful for telling us what respondents are likely to say about themselves.

• My new favorite DJ: DJ Focus. Wow.

A letter of note from the Attorney General of the State of Alabama.

• If decades of Scooby Doo have taught me anything, it is this: Tackle the ghost and take off its mask. (If only Hamlet had tried this.)

• “How to speak a fake Asian language,” with 10 examples.

• David Barton responds to marriage equality votes in four states, gets the outcomes wrong, surprises no one.

• Leah Libresco invites a dispute on grammar, hermeneutics and theology — or perhaps a dispute on grammar, hermeneutics, and theology — in a post about the Oxford comma in the Lord’s Prayer.

• And speaking of things in the AP Stylebook that some find infuriating, Nathaniel Frank says the Associated Press gets it wrong by banning the word “homophobia.”

• Ed Stetzer, who earlier was disappointed in his fellow evangelicals uncritical devotion to Fox News, has conducted some follow-up research to see if evangelicals learned any lessons from Fox’s epically misleading pre-election coverage:

Much to the surprise of many — and the dismay of some — the results don’t support the post-election conversation about Fox News losing its reputation among viewers. Quite the contrary. In fact, some evangelicals support Fox News even stronger now than they did before the election.

• Stetzer also had a good post this week about why lotteries are bad for the poor. There aren’t many points on which I’m wholly in agreement with the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, but this is one of them. Stetzer isn’t just a Southern Baptist, of course, he’s also a statistician, so he has two reasons to dislike state lotteries.

• New Hampshire’s state legislature is still too big.

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RIP Daniel Berrigan
Things I Have Learned Due to My Google News Alert for the Word 'Satanic'
Left Behind Classic Fridays, No. 79: 'Grace and greed'
Relitigating the Golden Rule
  • Andrew

    http://lesswrong.com/lw/lr/evaporative_cooling_of_group_beliefs/ discusses why failed prophecies can lead to more fervent beliefs.

    Quote: “In Festinger’s classic “When Prophecy Fails”, one of the cult members walked out the door immediately after the flying saucer failed to land. Who gets fed up and leaves first? An average cult member? Or a relatively more skeptical member, who previously might have been acting as a voice of moderation, a brake on the more fanatic members?

    After the members with the highest kinetic energy escape, the remaining discussions will be between the extreme fanatics on one end and the slightly less extreme fanatics on the other end, with the group consensus somewhere in the “middle”.”

  • Turcano

    It’s kind of odd that the concept of evaporative cooling has a place in sociology.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    • A letter of note from the Attorney General of the State of Alabama.

    That letter cracked me up :D

    Sometimes three short impolite words can say a helluva lot more than all the polite words out there. XD

  • Matri

    Even better: Notice the quotes around “Dr”.

  • Lori

    The really wonderful thing is that the quotes around “Dr” in the header and the greeting are at least as big a burn as the impolite body of the letter.

  • Tricksterson

    Ranks right up with “Nuts” as a reply to evil.

  • Jurgan

    I’m sure you’ve seen this, but Bill O’Reilly declared that Christianity is not, in fact, a religion: 
    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2012/12/01/15597368-this-week-in-god?pc=25&sp=25#discussion_navBill O’Reilly has thus proven that, to him, the point of Christianity is not faith, but tribalism. In order to defend the privileges, he’s willing to toss aside the faith and claim it’s something it isn’t. The idea that you can be a Christian without believing Christ was God is ridiculous. O’Reilly claims you can be a Christian simply by liking Christ’s philosophy. C.S. Lewis said that that was impossible because Jesus identified himself and the son of God, meaning if you didn’t believe him you had to believe he was either insane or a con man. Regardless, Christianity has a meaning, and it’s not just people say “this guy had some good ideas.” Back off, O’Reilly, and stop trying to redefine what we believe.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    O’Reilly actually thinks Christianity isn’t a religion? Is he TRYING to piss off something like 50%+ of the population of the US who lay claim to membership of a sect of that faith?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I imagine Bill feels pretty safe in the between those who technically agree with what he said (ie. “Other people have ‘religion’, what we have is THE TRUTH”), and those who will assume that he’s telling a useful lie in order to protect their privilege (ie. “You know and I know that it’s a religion, but we’ll all agree to say it’s not in order that we can pull and end-run around the first amendment”).

  • Jurgan

    He said “it’s not an organized religion, it’s a philosophy.”  His argument was that, if you agree with Jesus’s teachings about how to live, you’re a Christian even if you don’t believe he was the Son of God.  Of course, once you do that you strip it of a lot of its meaning.  The irony, of course, is that in trying to defend Christians’ trivial privileges, he ends up watering the religion down so far that it loses all meaning.

  • Worthless Beast

    I don’t really understand this, either.  I mean, I can see it from a “pure language” perspective.  Someone “likes Christ’s philosophy,” so they want to call themselves “Christian,”…  but, frankly, I’d think that if such a person (“essentially atheist but likes the pretty philosophy”) would get a lot fewer angry looks from people whom they actually share more of a worldview with if they simply said “I like the philosophy, but am not actually a believer and am actually one of you.”  It would dispell a lot of confusion, I think, if atheists/pantheists/deists/other minorities were just honest about who they are instead of calling themselves something for window-dressing.

    I mean, I actually *am* a superstitious idiot (albiet one that hasn’t’ darkened the door of a church in years and isn’t big on things like Hell or blaming hurricanes on gays and all of the other things people think when they hear the word “Christian” these days) – and for those reasons, I’m basically loathe to call myself that word.  Why take on baggage you don’t actually have to?

    Like someone else said, it’s probably just O’Reily hedging his bets… or somemthing. It reminds me of “Adjacent To This Complete Breakfast.”

  • Lunch Meat

    His argument was that, if you agree with Jesus’s teachings about how to live, you’re a Christian even if you don’t believe he was the Son of God.  Of course, once you do that you strip it of a lot of its meaning.  The irony, of course, is that in trying to defend Christians’ trivial privileges, he ends up watering the religion down so far that it loses all meaning.

    I’m going to take a slightly different tack here. I think it’s possible to agree with the things Jesus said about how to live and believe they are the right thing to do, without accepting attributions of divinity or miraculous powers, and I think that such philosophy would certainly have meaning. The problem is that if there was a society whose foundation really was explicitly and specifically Christian principles–based on those things that Jesus actually said–it would not look anything like the USA.

    It would not honor or reward its rich. It would give away its excess wealth to other nations in need. It would not make war or respond to aggression with violence. Citizens who gained power and corrupted the nation or caused it to sin would be cut off and cast away, but other wrongdoers would be forgiven unconditionally. It would take no care for the future. It would give no thought to ceremony, ritual, sacredness or purity. Such a society would be completely unrecognizable to anyone currently residing in the USA, and would be completely abhorrent to Bill O’Reilly.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    Thomas Jefferson basically held this view about Jesus Christ.   He even published the Jefferson Bible, in which he deleted all supernatural references (the virgin birth, the miracles, the resurrection from the dead, etc.), leaving behind mostly Jesus’s moral and ethical teachings.  His view was also held by most of the era’s deists.

  • Tricksterson

    To be fair, such a society would be unrecognizable to anyone, present or past, residing on the planet.

  • AnonymousSam

    I have to agree with you; as a way of establishing common ground with Christians, I have sometimes said that I try to live as a follower of Jesus regardless of whether or not I believe in the Christ. Detailing exactly what my interpretation of the Christ’s ideals are tends to cause the conversation to go south pretty quickly as the person gives me a disgusted look and says “Jesus ain’t never said nothin’ like that!”

  • stardreamer42

     Not only that, but the people who followed that philosophy would not properly be described as Christians. The core truth of Christianity is faith in the divinity of Jesus; if you discard that, there’s no religion left.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    The irony, of course, is that in trying to defend Christians’ trivial
    privileges, he ends up watering the religion down so far that it loses
    all meaning.

    It only “loses all meaning” if you assume that his audience considers Christianity to have some meaning other than “Way to preserve certain privileges unto myself and those like me.”  For people like Bill, the privilege *is the whole of the point*.

  • Madhabmatics

     “Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship with god. Totes different” is pretty old, O’reilly is just the latest to get on the bandwagon.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     If “liking Jesus’ ideas” were all it took to be  a Christian, then I’d count despite being an atheist.   Which I don’t think I need to explain is a really, really weird situation to be in, not to mention anything that puts me 1 degree closer to Bill O’Reilly makes me feel the urge to projectile vomit.

    —–

    Also that letter from the Attorney General of Alabama – Friggin’ priceless.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I have to wonder if what Bill O’Reilly is getting at is that if Christianity is not technically a religion, then it cannot be in violation of the Establishment Clause, and therefor the government can allow whatever sectarian favoritism it wants.  After all, if it is not genuinely a “sect” then it is just “being an upstanding citizen”, and therefor can be incentivized and favored freely.  

    Much in the same way some have said that Islam is not a “real” religion for the opposite reason, so it can be freely disenfranchised and discriminated against without conflicting with the establishment clause.  

    Perhaps I am extrapolating a little too much about O’Reilly’s agenda here, but he describes a mentality does seem to be what enables the kind of thinking that any of the described above is okay.  

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I have to wonder if what Bill O’Reilly is getting at is that if Christianity is not technically a religion, then it cannot be in violation of the Establishment Clause, and therefor the government can allow whatever sectarian favoritism it wants.  After all, if it is not genuinely a “sect” then it is just “being an upstanding citizen”, and therefor can be incentivized and favored freely.  

    Much in the same way some have said that Islam is not a “real” religion for the opposite reason, so it can be freely disenfranchised and discriminated against without conflicting with the establishment clause.  

    Perhaps I am extrapolating a little too much about O’Reilly’s agenda here, but he describes a mentality does seem to be what enables the kind of thinking that any of the described above is okay.  

  • Jurgan

    Oh, that’s definitely his point.  Similarly, people have said Christmas trees and even manger scenes on public land are not violations of the Establishment Clause because they no longer have religious significance through overuse.  I’ve also heard it said that “In God We Trust” is acceptable on money because it’s been overused to the point where it’s basically a catch-phrase with no religious meaning.  In all of these, the people are removing religion from their religious traditions because they care more about winning the fight than maintaining the true meaning.  Yet they accuse others of wanting to “take the Christ out of Christmas.”

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

     I’ve also heard it said that “In God We Trust” is acceptable on money because it’s been overused to the point where it’s basically a catch-phrase with no religious meaning.

    Actually, it was the Supreme Court itself that declared that “In God We Trust” no longer carries any religious connotation when printed on currency.  Similar to how product brand names can become generic and lose their trademark if the come to be associated with the class of product rather than the specific product itself in the public eye, they declared that “In God We Trust” on currency was not in violation of the Establishment Clause since it had been on the money so long it no longer had any significant religious element to it.  It was just something printed on money and carried no implicit endorsement by the government anymore.  

    It is now meaningless.  

    Unfortunately, I have heard the argument giving by some people (who clearly have not done their research) that its presence on our currency is “proof” that our country is a Christian nation, along with “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Why else would the Founders have put it on the money and the pledges, right?  [/sarcasm]  Nevermind that both the “In God We Trust” and “under God” were added to their respective things much later than when they were first created.  

    Maybe the whole reason for inserting such “harmless” things like that is precisely so ill-informed people can use those same phrases to convince themselves to stay ill-informed… 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Actually, it was the Supreme Court itself that declared that “In God We Trust” no longer carries any religious connotation when printed on currency.

    What a load of twaddle. Pure sophistry!

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/09/One_dollar_bill_with_In_God_We_Trust_marked_out.jpg

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     In the interest of accuracy, it really should say “THIS IS YOUR GOD” on our money.

  • Tricksterson

    “Christianity Buddhism is not an organized religion…it’s a philosophy”

    There, Mr. O’Reilly, fixed it for you.

    Answering something else in that same article, when did God join the oil lobby?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    If decades of Scooby Doo have taught me anything, it is this: Tackle the ghost and take off its mask. (If only Hamlet had tried this.)

    Yes. He should have. My scheme blinded them all, as if by fog / But for these medd’ling kids and this their dog.

    “The Amazing TV Remote Dead Battery Trick.” This trick does not seem to work for a wireless mouse.

    But despite the author’s ending comment, I’ve had it work for a goldfish once.

  • Carstonio

     Anyone notice that every Scooby Doo episode is a rewrite of The Hound of the Baskervilles?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Anyone notice that every Scooby Doo episode is a rewrite of The Hound of the Baskervilles?

    * Scooby Doo rips off dog mask in frustration, revealing Sherlock Holmes *

    “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for that meddling Carstonio!”

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GUFZNDXKK6JQGEIGV7VGXFUDKE c2t2

    I wonder how they vetted people for the ‘ghost in the elevator’ prank. As a few comments at the link pointed out, my reaction woul be “EEEEEEEK ” while hitting it as hard as I can!!!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I wonder how they vetted people for the ‘ghost in the elevator’ prank. As a few comments at the link pointed out, my reaction woul be “EEEEEEEK ” whilehitting it as hard as I can!!!

    I would be worried about her turning me into a puddle of crimson liquid.  Not that anyone could stop her… 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Cule/100001621659800 Michael Cule

    Three things to say but it’s late at night and I am slightly drunk as it’s the first weekend in December and the thirtieth anniversary of Brian, Caroline and Roger’s party which has been, as far as I am concerned, the core of much of my enjoyment of British SF fandom in that time and therefore, as I say,  the following may be a little incoherent…. Anyway, three things to say.

    1) It does too work on mice. Meeses. Whatever the plural of those peculiar devices is. Although given that the the designation ‘mouse’ was (I believe) given to them because of their long tails attached to the computer the term seems inaccurate for radio mice which are the ones that need batteries.
    2) The thing about the lottery is that one is buying hope. It may be false hope but that’s better than no hope. The fact that there is no better hope for large numbers of people is another issue and not to be solved by doing away with the lottery but by creating real hope. 
    3) God Bless Larry Hagman! He may have destroyed his liver by drink but at least he managed to be a gentleman!
    4) Bugger the Oxford comma! And the Oxford University Press who apparantly are the ones promoting the bloody unnecssary thing.

    Four! There are four things I meant to….

    I think it’s time I went to bed….

  • EllieMurasaki

    Bugger the Oxford comma! And the Oxford University Press who apparantly are the ones promoting the bloody unnecssary thing.

    I’d like to thank my parents, Mother Teresa and God.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke
  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Similarly, this cartoon:  http://weknowawesome.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/320244_2180612969314_1666632006_2113915_1390055775_n.jpg

  • Tricksterson

    Couldn’t we just invite the strippers?

  • stardreamer42

     We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.

  • EllieMurasaki

    How does that sentence make sense, Oxford comma or no? Mine makes sense with the Oxford comma, if one assumes that ‘I’ is a Christian who finds zir parents supportive and Mother Teresa inspirational. Yours…yes, it illustrates the need for the Oxford comma excellently, but beyond that, huh?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I think it’s less “the sentence makes sense” and more “the sentence can have two meanings depending on if you have the comma in or not”. Are you inviting the strippers and JFK and and Stalin, or are you inviting two strippers whose stage names are “JFK” and “Stalin”? I can’t tell you which scenario would be more kickass though, but I’d like to spend a weekend with the kind of person who regularly needs to employ that sentence while making plans. 

  • AnonymousSam

    Saw Life of Pi today, would recommend it. Interesting mixture of Islam, Christianity and Hinduism in the perspective. Have contemplation to do regarding the implication that God incarnated Jesus for us to empathize with in shared suffering.

  • MikeJ

    Frank gets it wrong on homophobia. I think that for the most part, a psychologist won’t diagnose you with arachnophobia unless your fear of spiders interferes with your daily life.  Very few people have clinical arachnophobia, while a much larger number just don’t like spiders.

    The proper term for 90% of anti-gay activists is “asshole”.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    On the other hand, I know a number of non-asshole homophobes.

    That is, I know people who have an irrational aversive reaction to homosexuality. The very idea disgusts them on a level they don’t understand and can’t seem to do anything about.

    OTOH, they don’t believe that their aversion expresses any deep moral truths, they don’t think the law ought to reflect their aversion, they don’t think politics ought to take their aversion into account. They aren’t particularly assholes. They just have this reaction.

    I’m perfectly OK with calling them homophobes rather than assholes.

  • Makabit

    I know a gentleman who will tell you that he is deeply disturbed by thinking about two men making love to each other. It grosses him out. He reports that he has the same response to thinking about eye surgery being performed, and he’s not suggesting that they should stop doing that on his account. He just goes on not thinking about either gay sex or eye surgery, and voting and arguing for marriage equality whenever he gets a chance.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Right, exactly! I like the eye surgery analogy; I am hereby stealing it. :-)

  • Jurgan

    I admit, I have that reaction to transpeople.  I don’t think they’re immoral and I think they should have all the rights cispeople do, but the idea weirds me out, and I have trouble understanding them.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     (nods) I did for many years as well.

    Out of curiosity, how many do you know personally? I found that my attitude changed surprisingly quickly when I finally got to know a few in real life, and I suspect that’s a pretty common pattern.

  • Tricksterson

    Had a friend/coworker who while being a born again Christian was also what I’ll call a clinical homphobe.  I say the latter because he admitted his view of GLBTs was irrational and said it had nothing to do with his religious beliefs.  Of course he also thinks he’s an elf and his nickname in his congregation was “Annoying” because he asked too many questions and was an OEC in a YEC congregation.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I buy lottery tickets. It’s $10 a week, so it’s not much, but it’s really the only vice I have.

  • Paul Durant

    I’m going to agree with the comment posted in response to that lottery article: this paternalistic “poor people are far too stupid to manage their own lives so we need to protect them from themselves” attitude is incredibly condescending and insulting.

    The poor spend a higher percentage of their income on lottery tickets than the rich. This is because they have less income, lottery tickets do not have elastic demand, so the inelastic expense of them will represent a larger proportion of the poor’s income than the rich’s.

    When it comes to the lottery, people get it in their heads that the poor are being duped by it, heartlessly preyed on, that the lottery is their only hope for escaping poverty. And I’m sure there are some people who think the lottery is a smart investment and the best way out of poverty, but probably less than the number of people who think that a Nigerian prince is going to transfer them millions of dollars. There is no meaningful evidence that this accounts for a statistically significant portion of lottery players.

    Why do we have to make this narrative of the sainted and helpless poor who only ever make decisions we see as sub-optimal because they’re tricked and preyed on? Much hay was made of the study that said families making under $13K a year spend an average 2-3% of their income (falsely reported on some websites as 9%, but it isn’t) on lottery tickets, and how horrible that was and how they had been tricked and blah blah blah. That’s six bucks a week. That’s a couple soft drinks and candy bars. 

    The lottery is an entertainment expense. It’s a ticket to a group make-believe activity about how you’re going to spend your squillions of dollars, it’s a hope you can get up and yet feel no pain at all from having it let down. Do you think white-collar middle class offices get everyone to pitch in and buy tickets in a big pool because they think it’s their only way out? Of course not, they do it because it’s fun! 

    Not everything done by people below the poverty line has to be driven by sainted suffering and morally pure helplessness. Why can’t poor people spend six bucks a week on something fun without having more well-off people bloviating about how this could only be due to their ignorance and hopelessness fostered on them by the cruel ruling class? 

    Do you REALLY think the actual things that are actual evidence of injustice against the poor aren’t enough, so that you gotta be condescending dicks about them to gussy up another cause to point to?

  • Carstonio

     I might appreciate the “lotteries hurt the poor” argument if it were actually being made by poor people. I oppose state lotteries in principle, even though most of the participants I know aren’t poor. Numbers games have very low odds, and lotteries represent political cowardice by legislators too timid to raise taxes. I have nothing against people who find them entertaining even while I don’t – for me it would amount to raising my hopes and then crushing them.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Numbers games have very low odds, and lotteries represent political cowardice by legislators too timid to raise taxes.

    I think this is more the crux of the matter. It’s not that the lottery is preying on a helpless pitiful subpopulation who can’t control their wallets, poor dears; it’s that state-run lotteries are generally substitutes for taxes, takes that, given that buying habits are not unaffected by the promise at a chance to rocket out of poverty, falls disproportionately upon the poor.

    It’s not a very strong argument, because  unlike other regressive taxes, the lottery is optional. And to the extent that it’s not guaranteed that the poor will buy more tickets than the well-off, its regressiveness is optional too. Weak or not, though, it’s still a valid argument, and not one that boils down to “save the poor from themselves” or “the poor shouldn’t have nice things,” so maybe let’s not accuse everyone who opposes lotteries of being jerks.

  • Jurgan

    Yeah, I have to agree with this.  I don’t think regularly spending on lottery tickets is a good idea, but I don’t really think it’s the government’s job to protect people from themselves.  And if people are going to be wasting their money, why not channel it to government that might use it for good purposes (education lotteries, for example)?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     It does seem like the “We must protect poor people from the lottery!” is pretty similar to “We must protect poor people from being tempted to spend their meager funds on alcohol, candy, microwave ovens and nylons!” — the major difference being that there’s an (unfounded) assumption that people who buy lottery tickets think they are going to get rich.

    The *real* assumption behind moral outrage at the lottery is the same as the assumption behind moral outrage at alcohol, at cell phones, and probably if you went back a bit, at movie theaters or bear-baiting: that poor people are stupid and will spend their money unwisely if given the choice of spending money in small amounts on something enjoyable.  Significant numbers of people don’t play the lottery because tey think they have a realistic chance of winning. They play it because it is a few dollars worth of fun to spend the day *pretending* they have a realistic chance of winning.

    And while we’re on the subject, people who watch professional wrestling don’t think it’s a real sport any more than people who watch Power Rangers think it’s a documentary.

    (All that said, I do find something morally unsavory about lotteries insofar as they serve as government revenue streams. The same sort of discomfort I get about hidden traffic cameras or funding healthcare through cigarette taxes or any other sort of sin tax)

  • Tricksterson

    I agree with you with two caveats:  1: I oppose bear baiting  (as well as lethal bullfighting and cockfighting) because it’s cruel to the animals.  I added “lethal” to the bullfighting because there are forms of it that don’t harm the animal.  These I don’t have a problem with. 

    2:  You would be surprised how many people still think professional wrestling is real.  I have confronted them with the fact that the WWE, formerly WWF has outright said it’s fake (in order to avoid regulation) only to be told “Yeah but it’s still real.” Literally told  that.

  • Paul Durant

    You would be surprised how many people still think professional wrestling is real.  I have confronted them with the fact that the WWE, formerly WWF has outright said it’s fake (in order to avoid regulation) only to be told “Yeah but it’s still real.”

    It’s real in the sense that these dudes are really athletes really doing difficult and impressive physical stunts. Wrestling is fake in the sense that the outcomes are predetermined and the wrestlers are cooperating to put on a show. Wrestling is real in that the Undertaker really did throw Mick Foley through the Spanish announcer’s table. 

    I would guess most people who watch wrestling aren’t all super up on the insider lingo and smart to every trick in the biz, but they know this isn’t an actual record of real factual events (the use of cameras for backstage segments and pre-taped segments makes it really, really hard not to notice this), and they don’t particularly care.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I have confronted them with the fact that the WWE, formerly WWF has outright said it’s fake (in order to avoid regulation) only to be told “Yeah but it’s still real.” Literally told  that.

    To be fair, they have a grain of a point buried in there.  Real competetive wrestling has never been very popular as a spectator sport because, unlike things like boxing, the match is decided one way or another within a couple of minutes at most.  Such a short-term show rarely keeps the crowds entertained for long.  Entertainment wrestling though is designed to keep the crowds entertained by deliberately drawing out the match to give the crowd some back-and-forth to get excited about.  The winners and losers are pre-determined, most of the match is rehearsed and choreographed  and everything is tarted up with gimmicks and deliberate melodrama.  

    However, where the “real” does come into play is that the wrestlers themselves have a lot of physical training to do to still participate (even if the participation is not strictly competitive) and there is no way to get out of a certain amount of actual pain being inflicted.  The performers may not be deliberately trying to hurt each other seriously, but the ability to take a beating is a requirement for the job, and injury is real risk they take.  Mick Foley in particular is famous for his ability to accept punishment, and has several injuries due to it (some missing teeth, dislocated joints, a torn ear, etc.)

    As a result, even if someone knows it is fake, there is a certain “real” tension present in watching a match.  At least that is my understanding of it, not being a wrestling fan myself.  

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Pro Wrestling is essentially a fusion of a highly stylized form of ritual dance and a vaudeville-style show. When you get down to it, the fact that it’s got continuing storylines and is targeted toward a blue-collar audience is really what separates it from something like Cirque du Soleil.

  • Tricksterson

    I think of it as ballet for men who don’t like ballet.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Combined with a soap opera for men who don’t like soaps. 

    ETA: Not that there aren’t women who enjoy it, as well.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    As I mentioned in the last comment, I am not a fan of professional wrestling, but what I do know about it is because I am a fan of Mick Foley.  It helps that he writes children’s books and runs a rape-relief charity.  

    Besides, just watch his excellent reporting while on The Daily Show.  Wow!  :D

  • Carstonio

     As someone who has seen Cirque shows, I can see your point, although I think the difference is deeper than that. Pro wresting appeals to a specific collection of US tribalisms, and the blue-collar aspect is certainly a particular spin on it, but those tribalisms can be found at all income levels. I think of this collection as the truck-nuts mentality.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Spare me your self-righteousness and spleen. Your carping is misidirected.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    My husband sands the contact points on battery operated devices with fine grit sandpaper before giving up on the batteries. I suspect spinning the batteries in place gets rid of any slight corrosion that interferes with the batteries making contact.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    What I really don’t get is the way some people hid their faces from the “ghost”.  I think my instinct would be to press my back against the wall and not let her out of my sight.

  • Lori

    From Mark Evanier’s Larry Hagman stories:

    There may be other stories about him that paint him as another kind of
    guy but this is my Larry Hagman story and I’m sticking to it.  

    I don’t know it for a fact, but I’m guessing that there aren’t stories that paint him as another kind of guy. He was married the same woman since the mid-1950s, which is rare enough anywhere and is the next thing to a unicorn siting in Hollywood. She has Alzheimer’s now, but they were together until she became ill enough to require full time professional care.

    When he passed both Linda Grey and Patrick Duffy were at the hospital with him, along with his children & grandchildren. The three of them remained such close friends since filming the original Dallas that they were family. If you can stay married (by all accounts happily) that long and be that close to people with whom you worked that many hours, in the midst of the kind of craziness that Dallas’ popularity created then I think it’s a safe bet that you’re a decent human being.

  • Jessica_R

    I didn’t know that about his costars, I’m a complete sucker for casts who are and remain friends in real life. 

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I’ve seen the “Christianity is not a religion” line many times, but never as an argument that it is a philosophy and atheists are really Christians! The idea is typically to elevate Christianity above and therefore give it special status among all other religions. One common form is “Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship.” Another goes, “Religion is man seeking God; Christianity is God seeking man.”

    This version (taken from christinyou.net) is completely antithetical to what O’Reilly appears to be saying:

    Jesus did not say, “Just remember my teaching.” Jesus said, “I AM the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). “I AM the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). He did not say, “I will show you the way; I will teach you the truth; I will give you the life.”

    I think Fearless Son is completely right. Putting the quote in context, O’Reilly is clearly attempting to circumvent the Establishment Clause: “It is a fact that Christianity is not a religion, it is a philosophy. If the government was saying that the Methodist religion deserves a special place in the public square, I would be on your side.”

  • Jessica_R

    Okay, here we go, The Slacktivist Community Heifer International page, http://teamheifer.heifer.org/slacktivites 

    I did not set a goal because every bit counts and is appreciated like gangbusters. And you have no idea how hard it was not to call our team The Fightin’ Pigs. Next year maybe. 

  • GDwarf

    I’m a big fan of the Oxford comma, it really does make sentences much clearer.

    What I don’t understand (and actively dislike) is the “rule” that one cannot start a sentence with a conjunction. Written language should follow the way people speak, and people start sentences with conjunctions all the time.

    Happily, apparently various authorities are now saying that, despite this rule commonly being taught in schools, it has no basis in actual English usage and can be ignored.

  • Jurgan

    And the nonsense rule that a preposition is something you should never end a sentence with.  As Winston Churchill said, this is an affectation up with which I will not put.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Honestly, I like where the rule against ending sentences on prepositions is at. I realize that even so, there are many cases it should be broken on. But one thing I have noticed over the years is that a lot of inexperienced writers will stray into patterns where they seemingly end every other sentence with one, not even realizing what they’re using those extra words for. In fact, sometimes they just seem to be tossing prepositions at the end of sentences for flavoring and could simply omit the word they ended their sentence with. I once read some long story where the most common lines of dialogue were “Where is he at?” and “Where are you going to?”, and every time it was like the dialog had just played a tin note and made me wonder how long I’d have to keep reading it until.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    As Winston Churchill said, this is an affectation up with which I will not put.

    I’ll never forgive him for that one.  And the people who help spread it….  “Up” is not generally a preposition, you fool!  (Meaning Churchill, not you, Jurgan.)  And certainly not in this case, where it’s clearly an adverb.

  • Jurgan

    How is it not a preposition?  Doesn’t it indicate position?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Reconstruct the clause as a sentence.  “I will not put up with [this].”  “With” is the preposition; if “up” were, then what’s its prepositional object?  And, adverbs do indicate position among other things, so, yeah.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I always thought he was rephrasing to avoid saying ‘this is a thing I will not put up with’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Yes, but the standard way to rephrase would be to reintroduce the implied relative pronoun, so you get “this is a thing with which I will not put up,” since as I said, “up” isn’t a preposition here.  His “up with which” is just a rhetorical strawman that he demolishes to make a point against a rule which existed only in his imagination.

  • Ross Thompson

    I’ll never forgive him for that one.*  And the people who help spread it….  “Up” is not generally a preposition, you fool!  (Meaning Churchill, not you, Jurgan.)  And certainly not in this case, where it’s clearly an adverb.

    “… with which I will not put up” is no less clumsy than the construction he used; had he used it, it would have made exactly the same point.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I believe the original construction is “which I shall not put up with.”

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    On the subject of the Oxford comma we don’t use it in the UK (The Oxford Press not withstanding). Listing commas represent and so using it before and is effectively saying and and. And you can’t hear an Oxford comma so any list that needs one to not look silly will still sound silly if read out loud. (For the doxology the answer is indeed in the Latin – “The Kingdom and the Power and the Glory”).

    On the subject of imploded cults – as the writer points out all groups are subject to this problem. It’s part of why US politics lurched so far to the right from a European perspective (and  here I mean the democrats not just the republicans) and why you have such an unusual view of what constitites left. (I refer of course to McCarthyism – when you repress all true left wing views slightly right of centre becomes left).

    But of course even groups we agree with can indulge in this behaviour and it’s always a thing to be considered because this ideological drift can lead even sensible groups to gradually become  extreme if they start ejecting voices of dissent. (Which is not to say you shouldn’t eject abusive trolls but that you should think long and hard about it before you do).

  • Carstonio

    Mad magazine once joked that people who claim to watch pro wrestling for the laughs also claim to read Playboy for the articles. I found out not long ago that tween boys make up a large percentage of the entertainment’s fans. I’m troubled by that, because in the two times I’ve viewed it, I saw much pandering to racism, sexism, xenophobia and anti-intellectualism. It looked like it was training boys to be fans of Fox News.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Why is it any worse to question lotteries than to question any other institution run by rich people that poorer people largely participate in? Should we not wonder about redlining and food deserts and other situations that seem designed by SOMEONE to part largely poorer people from their cash or other things of value?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not sure what you mean by redlining, but I’m just as vehemently against food deserts and predatory lending and so forth as I am against the lottery.
    I think people who are against the lottery but not against food deserts and predatory lending either aren’t aware of the scope of the influence and effects of food deserts and predatory lending or are looking for another reason to blame the poor for being poor. The people hurt by the lottery are the people who choose to buy the tickets. The people hurt by food deserts and predatory lending, they don’t have much of a choice in the matter, so putting blame where it’s due would mean blaming people who aren’t poor.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redlining

    originally coined to refer to the practices of banks to refuse mortgages for certain neighborhoods, usually with the intent of stratifying property ownership along racial lines.

  • WalterC

     I don’t think there’s anything wrong with condemning lotteries, but I would say that food deserts and redlining are significantly harder to avoid than lotteries, which, after all, you can simply choose not to purchase. With redlining or food deserts, you would have to have some sort of prescient awareness of the internal workings of the entire financial sector of your community (more for the first one) and be able and willing to uproot your entire family to stand a chance of getting away from them. With lottery tickets, you can buy one if you want or save your money/buy something else if you don’t, and it doesn’t require any extra effort or knowledge on your part.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    And you can’t hear an Oxford comma so any list that needs one to not look silly will still sound silly if read out loud.

    I pronounce the Oxford comma sometimes, depending on the sentence and depending on the context. Usually I pronounce it for the same reason I put it in in the first place: that extra pause helps differentiate the last two items so they are not mistaken for a unit. See the “Mother Teresa and God” example posted above.

    I don’t think it sounds silly at all to pronounce a necessary Oxford comma.

  • GDwarf

    And you can’t hear an Oxford comma so any list that needs one to not look silly will still sound silly if read out loud.

    I always pronounce them. Perhaps this is a dialect thing.

  • http://semperfiona.livejournal.com Semperfiona

    There are no prepositions in the sentence in the first place. “Put up with” is a transitive phrasal verb meaning “tolerate”. Any separation of its component parts makes the sentence into nonsense. (Which, if Churchill actually made the possibly-apocryphal remark, would have been the point.)

    “Put up with” doesn’t mean anything related to “put”, nor anything related to “put up”, which is itself another transitive phrasal verb meaning either “preserve” (eg “Mom put up some beans for the winter”) or “restore to its proper location” (eg “Dad put up the clean laundry”) .

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think the point being made by the anecdote is that trying to contort English to fit certain arbitrary-sounding rules can make it look like quite the mishmash. (^_^)b


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