7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.8)

1. The Dalston House. The Mom from The Cat in the Hat vs. the Man in the Yellow Hat. “I don’t have to outrun the bear …”

2. Ever since the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and Prop 8, the professional fundraisers of the religious right have been warning that Christians will soon be thrown in jail for being anti-gay. This is stupid on at least two levels: First, because not all Christians are anti-gay and, despite their assumptions and insinuations to the contrary, being anti-gay is not a necessary trait or a defining characteristic for Christians. And second because no one wants to throw them in jail, no one is threatening to throw them in jail, and no legal basis exists for anyone doing so.

The clearest piece of evidence for that latter point is the continuing freedom of the Rev. Fred Phelps. In 2011, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church have every legal right to continue their hateful, loathesome “ministry.”  And if Fred Phelps ain’t in jail for being anti-gay, then no one ever will be.

More recently, the White House responded to a series of online petitions calling for the president to officially designate Westboro Baptist as a “hate group.” The White House pointed out that the president isn’t in the business of designating hate groups — he doesn’t have the power to do so and isn’t inclined to try to change that, even in the extreme case of Westboro, whose behavior, the White House notes, is “reprehensible.”

“As a matter of practice, the federal government doesn’t maintain a list of hate groups,” the White House said. “That’s the prerogative of private organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center.”

That won’t stop the fundraisers of the religious right from continuing to insist that President Obama is about to designate them as hate groups, or from falsely claiming that their organizations have somehow already been listed as such.

3. When you find yourself praising Vladimir Putin as your ideal moral leader, you’re doing it wrong.

4. Since Friday’s Left Behind post here dealt both with the Two Witnesses and with a trip to Galilee, here are a couple of recent items of related interest. First is James McGrath’s discussion of Lee Harmon’s speculation as to a historical basis (or identity) for the witnesses in the book of Revelation. McGrath finds the idea interesting, but he’s not buying it. Check the post out, though, for a good example of how theologians go about considering such things (and for the awesomely awful “Bible prophecy” artwork of the fire-breathing witnesses). The second item is the news of a weird discovery beneath the waves of the Sea of Galilee:

Researchers stumbled upon a cone-shaped monument, approximately 230 feet in diameter, 39 feet high, and weighing an estimated 60,000 tons, while conducting a geophysical survey on the southern Sea of Galilee, reports Prof. Shmulik Marco of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences. The team also included TAU Profs. Zvi Ben-Avraham and Moshe Reshef, and TAU alumni Dr. Gideon Tibor of the Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute.

Initial findings indicate that the structure was built on dry land approximately 6,000 years ago, and later submerged under the water. Prof. Marco calls it an impressive feat, noting that the stones, which comprise the structure, were probably brought from more than a mile away and arranged according to a specific construction plan.

Dr. Yitzhak Paz of the Antiquities Authority and Ben-Gurion University says that the site, which was recently detailed in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, resembles early burial sites in Europe and was likely built in the early Bronze Age. He believes that there may be a connection to the nearby ancient city of Beit Yerah, the largest and most fortified city in the area.

That’s a cool piece of archaeological/historical news, but I’m also waiting to see what the End-Times enthusiasts and the “Bible prophecy scholars” will concoct in response to this story. I can see some Ken-Ham-types deciding this is a remnant of the Tower of Babel or evidence of Noah’s Flood. Or some enterprising huckster might decide it’s a kind of Asherah pole and start raising funds to have it torn down lest we risk incurring divine wrath. For folks like Tim LaHaye, John Hagee and Jack Van Impe, I’m sure this will be seen as yet another sign of the imminent End of the World, but how exactly they’ll go about spinning it as such I can’t guess.

5. On a related note about biblical study and the study of history, Paul at Disoriented. Reoriented has a nice overview of the very weak case for a historical interpretation of the story of Exodus (or, if you like, an overview of the very strong case against interpreting the story of Exodus as actual history). And Darrell Pursiful guides us through a discussion of some of the other, non-historical content in our King James Bibles — namely, the bits about unicorns, dragons, satyrs and onocentaurs.

6. From Brian McLaren:

Gregory of Nyssa said that sin is essentially a refusal to grow, and I think, in many ways, he is right. One narrative looks around and says that every day, in every way, the world is getting worse. Another narrative looks around and says that every day, in every way, the world is getting better. A wiser narrative might be — every day, and in every way, we are always negotiating between regression, stagnation, stability, and growth.

That’s why I would rather say that our strongest and best tradition is a willingness to learn, change, and grow. To be carefully and wisely progressive is — traditional in the best sense.

7. Want another seven things? Here’s Omid Safi offering “7 observations on North Carolina’s anti-democratic, anti-Muslim, anti-women legislation.” Appropriate reading for this, the 11th Moral Monday. (See also Ed Kilgore on North Carolina’s “Selective Fundamentalism“: “Having resolved to protect the Tar Heel State from the entirely imaginary threat of Islamic theocracy, the solons figured they’d show the world what home-grown theocracy looked like. …” )

"New post: http://www.patheos.com/blog... Your strength is devastating in the face of all these odds"

LBCF, No. 190: ‘Something happens’
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LBCF, No. 190: ‘Something happens’
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LBCF, No. 190: ‘Something happens’

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  • Anonymous kind of has a point. It DOES seem unusually restrained when the same President has (at least in some people’s eyes) far exceeded the bounds of reasonable Executive-power authority by justifying said actions on the basis of the War on Terror.

    Some of the actions of some of the “hate groups” so classified as such by the SPLC would, if the perps weren’t white as clouds, be considered clear-cut cases of domestic terrorism.

  • Look up “Extraordinary rendition”. It mostly happened under Bush – the famous case of Maher Arar (who is Canadian) where the USA winked and nudged at the Syrian authorities when they grabbed him, for example.

  • themunck

    Because Obama is the Antichrist, and therefore every enemy rolled into one. Hence he’s both a communist, a fascist, a secular humanist, an atheist and a Muslim extremist (or, as they call them, a Muslim).

  • It’s pure silly-assed ridiculous fantasy. Given that Muslims are ~1% of the US population there’s no way they could muster the popular votes to get even the civil-law portions of Sharia enacted, never mind the criminal law.

    Kind of ironic that the same jerks who whine about OMGSHARIA are more than happy to see countries like Singapore whap criminal offenders with bamboo canes and whine that the USA needs some of that good ol’ corporal punishment on the books again.

  • FearlessSon

    Oh, that will definitely get a legal challenge, which is exactly what the measure’s sponsors want. The reason they are ramping up stuff like this in so many states is because they are hoping to build up enough momentum that it gets taken to the Supreme Court, where they seek a legal overturn of Roe vs. Wade, which if done would allow them to make any sort of abortion-condemning bill they want in any state.

  • themunck

    Hmm…Question. If the measure passes, what will actually between then and the Supreme Court’s ruling? Will it be in effect, with those affected compensated later when it’s overturned?

  • themunck

    One could use the word “one” in place of you, although doing so does seem a tad…pretentious?

  • Alix

    Well, that, and for me, it’s often hard to tell how much time I actually spend on one painting, since I do other things during waking hours too and I don’t time myself. Someday I really ought to, but if I tell you that I make a certain painting in a week, we’re not talking spending even a consistent 40 hours or something on it.

    Jewelry’s easier for me to time, since I usually do a whole piece in one sitting, maybe two. It’s easier for me to remember that I only spent a few hours on that piece, or whatever.

    But yeah. I also run into the attitude a lot that it’s cost of materials + some profit, when really it should be all costs + labor + some profit.

  • Alix

    It also sometimes throws off the flow of a sentence, for me. But I’m weird. :/

  • Asha

    This sounds a lot like me. To this day I am fine by myself and being in a social situation without knowing when I can go back and recharge is exhausting. That I can strike up conversations with strangers, or actually go to a party without hyperventilating is a personal achievement. Oddly, I have little stage fright, because I usually have a script to follow on stage. But I take what I can get, and the entire process is exhausting.

  • Alix

    I believe it’d be in effect until/unless successfully challenged in a lower court, then if people keep appealing up the chain it goes to the Supreme. It’d have to go to, what, the state and circuit courts first? Or have I screwed up the chain?

  • Alix

    I could’ve written all that. I used to never order things over the phone – I have a hearing problem which compounds my introversion. My favorite restaurant became my favorite ’cause I called to place an order once and opened with an apology for stuttering and being hard of hearing, and the lady just replied with a cheerful “No problem! Let me know if you need me to slow down or walk you through something.”

    I actually just wigged out and ended up canceling my 4th of July family cookout because I could tell I was getting overstressed – I babysat the nephew the whole night before, and getting no decompression time meant there was no way in hell I’d’ve survived a party without blowing up spectacularly. Fortunately, my family’s mostly gotten to the point where they understand that – and I’ve finally gotten to the point where I don’t feel guilty about calling off social time when I need to.

  • Alix

    I was confused over the head-of-state thing specifically, but I’ll certainly look that up.

    Edit: Aha, I had heard of that case, just forgot the man’s name. (I am horrible with names.) Thanks for the reminder.

  • *throws flower-seed confetti*

    (this stuff: http://www.nikoniko.nl/throw–grow-confetti/ )

  • Alix

    Obama seems to have a strong line between foreign policy (apparently including any aspect of national security) and domestic, and is willing to be much more hardline with the former when it comes to those overreaches of power. I don’t agree with where he’s drawn those lines or the thought process that leads to being okay with doing these things internationally, but I can actually sort of see how someone would think it’s okay/necessary to do things in a foreign policy/national security sense that would be absolutely unthinkable domestically.

    I don’t agree, but I can see it.

  • Alix

    That stuff looks awesome.

  • Alix

    I hold out hope that eventually, the jojos of the world will be seen as the sick joke they are, and everyone will point and laugh, and that will be the extent of their power.

  • So you figure that marrying for money should be outlawed? What kind of tests would you propose to implement for anyone engaged to a rich mogul, heiress, etc. to prove that they’re marrying for love?

  • dpolicar

    Hope is good; I endorse hope.

    I don’t really see a path for getting there in the general case.

    That said, I do see a path for families with different combinations of genders becoming sufficiently “normal” that the jojoes of the world will switch their public attention to devaluing other families with less public support (those with different numbers of adults, for example).

  • P J Evans

    And their idea of what law should be is straight out of Leviticus … and identical to their idea of sharia law. Only the labels are different.

  • FearlessSon

    That is why my girlfriend has the former apprentice she employs as an office manager do the pricing on her stuff for her. She might make notes about how long it took, or a minimum value, or whatnot for adjustment but she worries she is too close to her own work to evaluate what a reasonable customer might pay for it.

  • Lori

    Congratulations! I hope that you have a wonderful day and many, many more happy years together.

  • My Asatru friend tells me that weregild started as a way to stop the cycle of vengeance-killing.

    I think that the problem with trying to implement a weregild system now is that the modern rate of income inequality would have been unimaginable to our medieval ancestors. Poor people, even if they scrimp and save for decades, will still never be able to make the kind of money that some billionaires gain every minute.

  • GDwarf

    The juxtaposition of item 2 with the symbol of the seven samurai makes me think of Kikuchiyo’s big speech from that movie. Drop the second half of it* and you’ve got an excellent commentary on things:

    “They pose as saints but are full of lies! If they smell a battle, they
    hunt the defeated! They’re nothing but stingy, greedy, blubbering, foxy,
    and mean! God damn it all!”

    *Of course, the speech is made by the second half, where he turns the whole thing around, but in this case the villagers made themselves that way; there were no samurai to drive them down that path.

  • Alix

    Weregild also often existed alongside legal revenge killings/executions, so I don’t think it ever fully supplanted them, but yeah, basically.

    Well, except income inequality has always existed (peasants vs. lords, for example), which is part of how folks could game the system, though I take your point. Modern weregild would almost work better as a percent-of-income thing. I do think the biggest problem is that we wouldn’t find it punitive enough. Not for the big crimes. We like our rapists and murderers to suffer.

  • EllieMurasaki

    We like our rapists […] to suffer.


  • Alix

    Point taken.

    Amended: in theory, we like our rapists and murderers to suffer. But we also like to define “rape” really, really narrowly so “good boys” don’t get hit with that label.

  • Alix

    My point rephrased a bit differently: the problem with switching over to a weregild-style system would be that we’d think a fine was too light a sentence, especially coupled with no prison time. We want people convicted of violent crimes off the streets or killed, not just literally paying for their crimes and then rejoining society. It’d take a massive sea change in our thinking on justice, retribution, and worth, among other things, to switch to a compensatory system.

    Not to mention that I know quite a few victims of violent crime who’d consider receiving only a fine, even a hefty one, from their assailant a slap in the face. Which is down to socialization (mostly), and would be hard to change.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And once we’ve got someone to blame for a murder, we don’t much care whether they actually did it.

  • According to The Trouble With Billionaires*, although we think of the financial difference between peasant and king as being a huge one, it barely registers by modern standards.

    As far as old-fashioned punishments go, I’ve heard that certain kinds of public shaming (having the perp give a detailed apology to the assembled community or walk around with a sandwich board) can be effective.

    Perhaps that, along with a rehabilitative approach, would be a better modern solution.

    * http://www.amazon.ca/Trouble-Billionaires-Linda-Mcquaig-2011/dp/B00D81ZEIG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1373330304&sr=8-2&keywords=trouble+with+billionaires

  • Alix

    True. Which on the whole I consider a major point in favor of compensatory justice over retributive justice – even a hefty fine leaves the convicted criminal alive, and it’s a bit easier to correct a wrongful conviction in that kind of scenario than one where a person’s dead, or has been kept out of society for many years.

  • Lori

    Oddly, I have little stage fright, because I usually have a script to follow on stage.

    Me too. I have very little fear of public speaking. I have some nerves and worry about whether I’m going to do well, but I’m not afraid of the “standing up in front of people” part. As you say, there’s a script to follow. Usually a literal script, but also a social script and that means that I know what to expect and can prepare for it. There’s also almost always a fixed end point. I know I have to be “on” for X amount of time and then it’s done. So, no problem.

    A cocktail party is a whole other thing. I’d rather give a speech to a 500 people than go to a cocktail party with 20 strangers.

  • Alix

    Yeah. My point wasn’t that income inequality’s not worse (…who seriously needs that much money? Really now) but that that kind of problem with weregild has actually always been there, if not to the extent it would be today. There’d certainly have to be mechanisms in place to prevent the extremely wealthy from being able to just commit crimes and pay without blinking.

    ‘Course, we kind of have that problem already.

    And there’d also have to be safeguards that prevent people from getting valued differently under the law, which is why I think weregild should be tied to the perp’s income/wealth, not the victim.

    Public shaming – again, there’d have to be safeguards and checks, but that’s true of anything. Any system can be abused. It just really seems to me that things like shaming, weregild, etc. are better than retributive systems because, well, you can’t exactly bring back a dead person if you make a mistake.

    The thing that worries me about shaming is psychological trauma. I … wouldn’t want it to turn into state-sanctioned public bullying, y’know?

  • Alix

    Also, I will have to read that book. *adds to ginormous TBR list*

  • Lori

    If it passes and the governor signs it then it would be in effect unless or until a court grants a stay. So, probably not long, but any amount of time > 0 is too much.

  • Asha

    I agree. I’ve had friends who couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to spend the night with her, or other friends who couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to invite her over for the night. It wasn’t that I didn’t like those people, it was that I needed the quiet and time to decompress.

    If the party is small, with people I know (or, well, drunk enough and telling me they want to have a stew party because it will keep me warm in the winter, over and over again) then I can handle those, even enjoy them. If it is with strangers and they refuse to tell me how I am going to get home (or when the party will be over) then I’m miserable.

  • THey think it because they’re the ones trying to implement it. Only under a different name.

    What they can’t stand isn’t “someone’s trying to enact a harsh, theocratic legal system that runs counter to the protections of freedom and human rights enshrined in the constitution.” It’s the competition

  • MaryKaye

    I know someone who bought a plush stuffed Cthulhu for his two-year-old nephew, who loved it–its name is “Mr. Squid-Man.” (I have one too; it is indeed cute and huggable, in a squid-like sort of way.)

  • Alix

    Oh, that sounds adorable.

    Along similar but non-Lovecraft lines, I have a Black Death plushie. My nephew seems convinced that it’s an odd kind of banana.

  • MaryKaye

    Truth be known, my husband married me for money. The marriage proposal (me to him) went like this:

    “You know, if you married me my health insurance would cover you.”

    “Hm. [long pause] Okay.”

    We’ve been married for 21 years now. But of course it’s an *ongoing* financial incentive!

  • Trixie_Belden

    That’s wonderful news, Emcee3! Congratulations to you both!

  • Alix

    …It just dawned on me that my brain keeps fritzing on “decadent” because I only ever really hear people using that word in relation to desserts. It makes parsing that particular complaint … tricky. And induces the pavlovian response of strongly desiring chocolate cake.

  • Hexep

    One could indeed. I am well behind that.

  • MarkTemporis

    Restricting one’s hate to a specific ethnic group or sexual preference is blasphemy against the Anti-Life and against Darkseid! One’s hate must be UNIVERSAL! ALL HAIL DARKSEID!

    …pardon me, was I raving? I…do that sometimes….sorry.

  • Space Marine Becka

    Though after their conviction there were a lot of people exulting that they were going to find out “what rape was like” in prison. It made my blood run cold. Nobody deserves to be raped – not even rapists.

  • Turcano

    The thing is that, if I remember correctly, accepting weregild was never mandatory; you could always get your pound of flesh instead.

  • Daniel

    I have a plush High Priest Not To Be Described. I’d tell you what it’s like but… it’s a bit difficult. Suffice to say it’s an unusual colour.

    I would like to see an animated series like Muppet Babies about The Kittens of Ulthar. Obviously made by the Herbert West Animation Studios.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Since the lord technically owned the land, tools, etc used by the peasants (just allowing them to use it in exchange for a share of the profits), income inequality between a serf and his/her baron was arguably *infinite*.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    That is indeed awesome.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    That kinda annoys me. ‘Decadent’ describing a desert makes no sense, since it means corrupt, destructive, or falling. Sorta like ‘indulgence’ being used to mean ‘pleasure’ when it really means ‘forgiveness/pardon’.