Saturday salmagundi

• The yearbook staff at Buzzfeed have a nice collection of “The 45 Most Powerful Images of 2012.”

• UPS is really, really good at delivering packages to businesses. And UPS can be really, really awful at delivering packages to residences.

• I’m linking to this, because the Slacktivixen would never link to it herself.

• And for the record, I did not propose to my wife. I said yes when she proposed to me.

The thing I love about America is that it’s full of, you know, PEOPLE.

• It’s time for someone to #askpontifex whether he approves of the Panetta-Burns Plan.

• Wherein we learn that anti-Muslim activist and former general Jerry Boykin, vice president of the Family Research Council, has never read the Communist Manifesto.

• Terry Jones is a jackass, a bigot, and a reckless fool. He should be denounced, condemned, ridiculed, shunned and excommunicated. But he should not be sentenced to death. Civil blasphemy laws are always, themselves, blasphemous. Always.

• “Barack the Destroyer”: Your periodic reminder that Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association is a big ol’ racist, and proud of it.

• And here’s your periodic reminder that the New Hampshire state legislature is too big.

• Headline: “Australian scientists develop coconut-tasting pineapple.” Next project for the Department of Agriculture in Queensland: Developing health food for people who are into champagne.

• The problem here is that Sister Kathy Sherman’s singing is too gently sweet and the folkie arrangement of her song too mild and pleasant to really convey the words. Those lyrics — “Rise up, sisters, rise up … with holy fire in our eyes” should scare the pants off of the all-male hierarchy, but this gentle rendition isn’t scary enough. Somebody needs to rock this song and turn it into an angry “Missionary-Man”-era-Annie-Lennox type anthem.

• Survey: A year after changes in liturgy, 7 in 10 Catholics like the new translation. Maybe, but I still heard a lot of “And alsth your spirit” at the last Catholic service I attended.

• And speaking of Catholic terminology, I’ve used “sister” and “nun” interchangeably. That’s wrong. All nuns are sisters, but most sisters aren’t nuns. OK, then.

• That’s from a “canon lawyer.” Romans 13:10 is 15 words long. Canon law is much, much longer. Therein lies the problem.

• Here is more evidence of that problem: “In the United States, some bishops have withdrawn funding or support for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, an annual collection that funds anti-poverty programs, many of them with little or no direct connection to the church.”

Lying about vaccination is the opposite of pro-life.

• I didn’t pile on when Two and a Half Men co-star Angus T. Jones had an awkward spiritual awakening this week. He’s 19, give him room. I was disappointed, though, to hear the show’s creators confirm that his character is the “half” in the show’s title. I thought it referred to Charlie Sheen’s character, which was the one artistic touch I had found to admire in the show.

• Given my own tendency to screw this up, I was amused to read this in an article on copyediting and constitutions: “There is even an ‘it’s’ where ‘its’ is called for – see Article I, Section 10.”

And here it is:

No state shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection laws: and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.

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  • • UPS is really, really good at delivering packages to businesses. And UPS can be really, really awful at delivering packages to residences.

    Oh, God. UPS is especially a bugbear for Canadians when they order stuff from the USA. (>_<)

  • Jessica_R

    Your friendly neighborhood reminder that our Heifer International page is still going, $115 so far! You guys are great. 

  • GDwarf

    Whenever I order packages from Amazon there’s about a 1 in 5 chance that it’ll be sent with UPS, instead of Canada Post. Whenever that happens it always takes them about three more days to actually get the package here (Canada Post has, more than once, gotten packages to me the next day. When I ordered them at 7PM. I’m not even very close to Amazon’s closest warehouse) and found it takes them longer to update their tracking information. Other than that, I’ve never had either them do the “no one home, even when you’re there”.

  • Carstonio

    How dare Fred slam Jones, who’s not only a respected member of the British comedy community but also a published scholar of medieval history, helping to debunk myths about both Chaucer and barbarians…

    …uh, never mind.

    (Seriously, between Sarah Palin and Rev. Jones, is American fundamentalism deliberately trying to defame Monty Python? Consider this post an apology to the Pythons on behalf of the US.)

  • hidden_urchin

    Huh, I must just be lucky. The drivers would have an excuse at my place too considering that I have to put chairs up against the low windows to keep the dog from breaking out when someone comes to the door.

    I do wonder, though, what their incentive to not deliver might be. It seems self defeating.

  • We Must Dissent

    I hate UPS. I just had a package I ordered returned to sender because even after signing the form they left allowing them to just leave it on my porch, they just kept putting forms on my door saying they could not leave the package without my signature.

  • I’ve mentioned this before. I talked with someone from New Hampshire about the size of their legislature. He explained that it’s not a bug but a feature: the legislature is meant to be too big for anyone to actually make a name for themselves and become a career politician 

  • I think it’s sheer laziness. Like it or not, some workers really don’t want to actually do more than go through the motions and get paid for it, and it’s clear this routine of pretend-to-deliver-and-then-skedaddle is to avoid being identified and thus, fired.

  • Eminnith

    Is that article about best Panetta Burns tweets supposed to have the tweets? I don’t see any?

  • Madhabmatics

    That Boykins quote is the funniest thing I’ve read all day, he sounds like a child. “You meanies keep saying that Obama supports private ownership of the means of production and isn’t a dialectical materialist BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT MARXISM IS. MARXISM IS WHATEVER OBAMA IS DOING NOW”

  • Madhabmatics

     Also I love that everyone and their brother thinks the Muslim Brotherhood secretly has agents throughout the entire US, in every rural town and country state. Yeah, those dude’s that couldn’t even be populist enough to mollify Egypt sure do have their tendrils all up in here.

  • I tried to look at all the Most Powerful Images of 2012, but halfway through I got something in my eye … 

  • Lori

    There’s under the main article and about the comments. The first one is:

    #panettaburns creates a strategic cash reserve, which will hold up to $15 trillion to be released in moments of national crisis”

  • “That’s from a “canon lawyer.” Romans 13:10 is 15 words long. Canon law is much, much longer. Therein lies the problem.”
    So, are we saying that having Deuteronomy and Leviticus in our Bibles is a problem? Was God foolish to elaborate on the law? 

  • And how much of the “law” is even relevant to today?

    Dietary laws cease to have meaning when food quality standards are now high enough we can avoid a lot of the problems that used to come from consuming the meat of some animals.

    Fabrics-mixing laws cease to have meaning when we can now create clothing that is comfortable and easy to wear with all manner of synthetics as well as natural fibers.

    Laws regarding the “uncleanness” of human secretions, particularly the menstrual and (sex-organ) genital, no longer have meaning when we understand the basis on which they occur and we have reliable clothes-cleaning apparatus, as well as reliable and safe water supplies.

  • Between the dietary restrictions and homosexuality thing, I’d say Leviticus is pretty much a blight on human civilization. 

    Gays are frequently nice people save for this lesbian manager I had once…and even she didn’t quite rise to the level of ‘abomination’. Besides,  any god who would ban bacon is just flat-out evil. 

  • … there is no indication that the Dietary Laws were because of health problems or that fabric mixsing laws were for the purpose of comfort or that the laws regarding the “uncleaness” of human secrections had anything to do with health/sanitation “cleaniness” – it was a ritual uncleaninless meaning that they couldn’t worship in the temple, not that they physically dirty.

    It’s relevance depends on how you define relevant. It is 100% relevant to the degree that laws reveal the heart/priorities/values of the Law giver. God hasn’t changed at all and the reason why he gave those laws are still 100% relevant – they show us his heart! His laws are not arbitrary and while we may not know why exactly each one was given, we can know for a lot of them and know God better by knowing his laws.

    Returning to the OP – they are also relevant to the extent that by elaborating on the Decalogue they help us understand the fullest extent of that law. They model for us what it means to improvise and apply God’s general commands (such as “love one another” or “do not murder”) in specific situations (“I am harvesting my crops / People use and sleep on my roof”). Looking at gleaning laws teaches us how to apply “love your neighbor” during the harvest and looking at parapet laws teach us how to apply “do not murder” when it comes to dangerous parts of your property.  Now, I’m not a farmer nor am I a home owner, but by looking at these elaborations on the law I pick up skills in application for the thousands of situations I find myself in that are not described in the Bible. 

    So much of the rest of the Bible is based on it – 1,2 Kings correspond to Deuteronmy almost chapter to chapter, countless Psalms  describe how wonderful the law is and why it is lovely. the prophets explain why the exile happened by refrencing the law, the books of the law are constantly quoted in the New Testament, James exhorts his readers to look into the perfect law of liberty to be reminded of the glorious people they were created to be, etc. Considering the law irrelevant makes so much of the rest of the Bible inaccessible. 

    This list could go on – I think we shortchange ourselves so much when we neuter God’s law. We don’t include them in the Bible simply as a historical curiosity.

  • The difference between Sisters and Nuns is pretty much the same as that between Friars and Monks I think. ( )

    Nuns and monks are cloistered contemplatives while Sisters and Friars, while they live communally, still get out in the world.

    And, of course, as the article rightly points out sometimes exceptions are made (sometimes for individual necessity – sick nun –  and sometimes because its the right thing to do – as at Assisi).

  • Aiwhelan

     Hmmm. I thought “friar” specifically refered to Franciscans. I think “in the world” they’re called Brothers if they aren’t Franciscan.

  • Content Note: Rape Culture, Extreme Misogyny,  Body Shaming.

    20 T-Shirts That Say “I REALLY Hate Women” from Spencer’s Gifts:

    All listed, of course, in the “humour” section. Utterly vile, the lot of them.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    And how much of the “law” is even relevant to today?

    ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.  And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God.

    ‘You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.

    ‘You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning. You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

    ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.  You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

    ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.  You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    And how much of the “law” is even relevant to today?

     ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.

  • mirabilis

    Franciscans are friars, but so are the other active mendicant orders (Dominicans, Augustinians, etc). It is indeed a question of cloister versus working in the community. “Brother” is the proper title for Franciscan friars as well. (English friar is from French frere–brother).

  • rrhersh

    I am joining the pile-on of UPS.  I used to live in an apartment.  It was virtually impossible to get a package delivered by UPS.  They would leave the little notes, but they simply refused to leave the package by the door, even if I signed the permission. slip.  My door was in a secluded area visible to only three other apartments, and I knew my neighbors and had no concerns about their stealing my package.  When I would call customer service they seemed surprised that I wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of driving many miles to their distribution center.  On the other hand, I never had the least bit of trouble with USPS.  They routinely left packages at my door, with no difficulty resulting.  On the rare occasions when I had to go to them, their distribution center, aka “post office,” is conveniently located here in my local town.  It got to the point where I would refuse to order anything from any vendor that didn’t give me the option to ship USPS.

    Then I bought a house about a quarter mile away from my old apartment, in the same subdivision.  Suddenly UPS is my friend!  They happily leave packages at my door, without even bothering with the little slip first.  The funny thing is this means the box is sitting out in the open on my front stoop, visible to anyone walking down the street and open to the elements.  Objectively, it is a far worse place to leave a package than my old apartment door.  Not that I have any problems:  it is a good neighborhood, and I know many of my neighbors.

    I have the same USPS mail carrier as before.  This is some ten years now.  He knows my kids.  He is unflustered by odd names on letters:  my wife did not take my name when we married, nor did I take hers.  But they sometimes get intermingled on mail.  Furthermore, my street has an “east” and a “west” side, with duplicated house numbers.  I often get mail with this bit incomplete or simply wrong.  It almost always gets correctly delivered anyway.  A few times a year I get mail for the guy down the street, or he gets mine.   That’s OK:  it gives us an excuse to visit and chat. 

    UPS is terrific for business packages.  This clearly is what it sees as its main business.  Unfortunately it chooses to also be in the home delivery business, but is unwilling to devote any serious effort into providing a consistent product.  The upshot is that any business that ships directly to customers should have a USPS option.   Undoubtedly using just UPS is more convenient for you, but you are losing potential customers without even knowing it.

    Finally, we have the “post office sucks” meme.  This might have been valid at one point.  My recollection as a kid was the losing stuff in the mail and packages arriving months later was a legitimate concern.  Whatever problems UPS might have had at one time, they have solved them.  At this point the meme is at best lazy, and often the both lazy and stupid meme that the post office is guvmint, so therefore must suck, the evidence of our lying eyes notwithstanding.

  • Cathy W

    I’ve heard quite the opposite: that UPS sets an unrealistic schedule. Given the odds of nobody being home, delivering the sorry-we-missed-you note is much faster than wrangling the package out of the truck, putting the note up anyways, and then wrangling the package back into the truck, so the driver gets to catch up and avoid discipline. I’m still slightly boggled by the stories I’ve heard of the driver not actually delivering the package when they can see as they pull up that somebody’s home, though.

  • Either way, UPS is doing a disservice to residential customers. Either its employees do not want to make the effort for sheer laziness or for sheer impsssibility of scheduling.

    If their employees are not even going to make a good faith effort to deliver anything, why even drive out to someone’s place only to just lackadaisically ignore the person about to rush out and flag you down?

    “Three rights instead of a left to optimize fuel usage b/c waiting at intersections” – hah. What’s even MORE environmentally irresponsible is not doing their jobs properly and wasting gas driving a truck going through the motions.

  • Cathy W

    I have to agree with you there.

  • P J Evans

    One apartment building I lived at stopped accepting packages at its office so they wouldn’t have be be responsible for anything that happened to them. (One manager would leave the office for long periods of time with the office completely open. People had stuff disappear.)
    So I rented a box from a mailbox place. They get the packages, I sign their list if it needs my signature.

  • Water_Bear

    And that heart apparently doesn’t have a lot of room for gays or slaves, going by that logic. You can have omnibenevolence or you can have Leviticus, but you can’t have both. There really is quite a bit of “historical curiosity” in the bible, and very little of that is compatible with the idea of an all-loving all-powerful deity, so one of them has got to go.

    Also, if there’s a rule which the rule-maker can’t be bothered to explain, which doesn’t seem to serve any possible purpose, and which they abruptly change as soon as it becomes an obstacle to getting new members, that’s pretty close to the exact definition of arbitrary. The cleanliness laws don’t make any kind of sense, especially since there’s no reason why a god so offended by bacon or menstruation would even make pigs or menstrual cycles in the first place.

  • I was thinking of the various ritualistic components of the Levitical laws, but point taken.

  • Albanaeon

     Hmm…  You have a bizarre definition of “arbitrary” you know.

    Making rules and not giving the reasons why is a pretty good working definition of “arbitrary.”  Particularly when after they are closely examined, still don’t make sense, such as the multiple fabric cloth, or shellfish or gay or bats being birds or rabbits that chew the cud.

    A close examination of “God’s Rulebook” tends to reveal a culture that was trying to define itself as distinct from its neighbors with a lot of cultural pressure on it.  Ooooorr that the creator of the entire universe is a backwards petty tyrant that barely understands the basic mechanics of his own creation.

  • That Other Jean

     It’s good of the wearers of those disgusting tee shirts to spend their own money to give the rest of us an “I am a complete asshat” early warning system, though.

  • Well, it’s only anecdotal, but UPS has never left packages sitting in the foyer of my 24-unit apartment building like Fed Ex, they have never claimed a package was delivered while it was still sitting on the floor of one of their trucks like the USPS, their tracking service doesn’t take 24 – 36 hours to update, and they are the only parcel service whose trucks I ever see at my apartment complex doing deliveries after 6 PM.

  • Ryan North graphed out FedEx’s package delivery attempts a few months ago. 

    (P.S. I always feel SO awkward when I post anything here in comments – I’m a frequent lurker but I almost never say anything because I just don’t have a whole lot to contribute. So, um, hi?) 

  • Dash1

     So we need to keep our eyes peeled for an up-and-coming Tea Party Congressman named Cleese Chapman?

  • Dash1


    It’s relevance depends on how you define relevant. It is 100% relevant
    to the degree that laws reveal the heart/priorities/values of the Law
    giver. God hasn’t changed at all and the reason why he gave those laws
    are still 100% relevant – they show us his heart! His laws are not
    arbitrary and while we may not know why exactly each one was given, we
    can know for a lot of them and know God better by knowing his laws.

    So you’re saying that Christians need to avoid shellfish and can’t wear clothing made of blended fabrics and can’t do any work on Saturday. OK, I’m aware that there are some Christians who obey some of these laws. It is interesting to encounter one of them.

  • stardreamer42

     Around here, we refer to Fedex Ground as “Fedex Drop-And-Run”. They will deliver the package, but most of the time they’ll just leave it on the doorstep without even ringing the bell. I guess that beats not delivering it at all — but my opinion might be different if our neighborhood was one in which a package sitting on the doorstep was likely to be stolen.

  • stardreamer42

    And yet your profile picture shows you clean-shaven. How dare you neuter God’s law this way?

  • Lori

    That was pretty much my reaction when I saw them. There’s something to be said for asshats announcing themselves so the rest of us don’t waste time or energy trying to figure them out.

  • Madhabmatics

     being awkward is hip + cool

  • How I am defining relevant is something close to “significant and instructive, but not binding.” I am saying that the God who gave those laws hasn’t changed, but the circumstances have. I am not an Israelite living in a theocracy. As a gentile brought into God’s plan of redemption by the new covenant I am not subject to those laws in the same way that ancient Israelite were, but that does not make them irrelevant to me – because God is still God.

    What/how I eat is important to God and I am to eat to his glory, but I can eat bacon and shellfish. What I wear matters to God and dressing myself should draw my attention to living as God wants me to live, but I can wear mixed fabrics. The way I schedule my time and if I have rhythms of work and rest matter greatly to God and I must use my week and particular days of rest to worship God and trust him with my work load, but I can make that day of rest any day of the week.

    We don’t just toss out the books of the Bible that God gave to the Israelites when they were to be a church-state-nexus and pretend like they don’t matter, but we recognize that God’s plan has grown to include people from all nations, tribes, and tongues. 

  • The profile picture cuts off my chin – there’s a pretty hefty goatee going on under there!
    I am not ignoring God’s law in that way, though, because I’m not an Israelite, but I know that my God hasn’t changed – therefore – I know that  how I keep my appearance does matter to God as an opportunity to worship him and is an opportunity to remind myself and others that I am not my own. God being interested in my hygiene is a daily reminder that holiness/cleaniness is woven into the warp and woof of life and that all of my little choices reflect the state of my heart.

  • The Bible is pretty clear that menstruation is not offensive to God. What is offensive to God is to pretend like we are brains on a stick. Reading Leviticus makes it clear that uncleanliness does not equal sin/guilt. It equals humanness and God is very interested in us being whole persons – people with all kinds of fluids and life cycles and goals. 
    The cleanliness laws are woven into the warp and woof of daily life so that Israelites  didn’t go about their days as if all of their choices didn’t matter or as if worship is this thing that we do once a week in the Temple but the rest of our weeks are for other things. 

    The Bible is also pretty clear that God is not offended by pigs ether – in the New Testament we see God telling Peter “Don’t call anything I’ve made clean unclean!”  Yet, God did ask the church-state-nexus that was Israel to be different than their neighbors and to have diets that reflected their “set-apartness” as a nation. That doesn’t mean that God hates bacon (thank God!).

  • As a singer, what gripes me about the new liturgy (secondary to the translation issues; I’ve a friend who can go on at great length about places where the new wording uses “man” where the Latin word is not actually gendered) is the lack of new musical arrangements that are above the level of “tolerable”.

    And even more so, the attempts to retrofit the new words into the old songs do not work. Stanford had its Early Holiday Liturgy last night (we have a midnight Advent Mass so we can do something special while classes are in session) and the Gloria we pull out for special events (big brass/strings/organ composition) has all the measures where you used to be able to stop and think about the previous phrase and breathe filled in with text instead. It’s clunky.

  • P J Evans

     In some areas, UPS delivers for the USPS, too.

  • USPS can still suck. To get to the mailrooms for my condo complex, you’ve got to take an elevator to the basement, and you need a key. Last month our mail carrier lost his key and didn’t report it, he just stopped delivering until people noticed and made a fuss.

  • Carstonio

    Reading the comments for the Slate piece on marriage proposals, many people misinterpreted Marcotte as slamming all instances of men proposing to women, and this interpretation sounds unnecessarily defensive at best. What’s sexist is having a norm of one gender doing the proposing. The custom likely originated during a time when women were the property of either fathers or husbands, which explains the still occasional practice of the prospective groom asking the bride’s father. 

  • In that case I am SET.

  • Lori

    That’s not the USPS sucking, that one mail carrier sucking (combined with what sounds like a less than optimal building design). If there’s a pattern of mail carriers who are, for whatever reason, unable to deliver mail simply blowing off the deliveries until someone raises a fuss then it’s safe to say that the USPS has a problem. That’s the situation with the UPS complaints. It’s not one delivery person, it’s lots of them and that points to a systemic issue. 

  • The thing about UPS (and my local driver is pretty good, he knows how late I work and tends to come after that if he can) is that the bottom line is: You, the person getting the package? You are not their customer. They as a company don’t care about you. If the shipper keeps on using them, they aren’t going to change.