7 things @ 9 o’clock (10.9)

1. Best wishes to Paul Lewis, who was just named as the Pentagon’s envoy charged with shutting down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

2. At Jesus Creed, RJS considers the prose epilogue to the book of Job as discussed by two very different commentaries. She raises — but doesn’t address — the question of whether the “conundrums” and “puzzles” of this ending are because it was a later addition, tacked on to the original “to make sense of the senseless.” I think it probably was (although I think it makes better sense without the coda). But here’s another possible explanation: Maybe it’s a Huckleberry Finn-type situation. Writing transcendent literature is hard. Mark Twain was able to do it for the first two-thirds of Huckleberry Finn before things took an unfortunate slide at the end. Maybe the author of Job was able to keep it up for 41 chapters, but not for all 42.

My local Target is offering a free bottle of ketchup with the purchase of a package of hot dogs. Why would anyone do this? That’s like offering a free glass of orange juice with the purchase of a tube of toothpaste. Is it because people might be serving French fries with their hot dogs, and the ketchup is for the fries? Please tell me the ketchup is supposed to be for the fries.

3. Somewhat related: Justice Antonin Scalia is correct to suggest that many Christians do believe in “the Devil” and a personal, literal, historical Satan. Justice Scalia, alas, needs to brush up on his Bible. “In the Gospels,” Scalia said, “the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot.” Satan had nothing to do with the possession of the Gadarene swine. If you’re going to proclaim your belief in a literal Satan while lecturing those of us who don’t believe that, at least get the details right.

4. I can think of several Jane Jacobs-ish reasons why having 25 local religious congregations participate in “prayer walks” through Cincinnati might have some positive effects on crime in that city. None of those reasons, however, would involve or require the efficacy of their prayers. Getting residents out and engaged, and having a sense of ownership and stake in their community is all good for the city and for the Cincinnati Police Department. They should be encouraging volunteers and urging everyone to participate in their own way. But the Freedom From Religion Foundation is right: the city shouldn’t be sponsoring or funding prayer. I commend these churches for caring about their city and volunteering, but this sort of thing shouldn’t be organized by the police.

Similarly, I like the idea of a chaplaincy ministry for crime victims. Crime scenes are a place, like hospitals, where people who are hurting might benefit from the counsel, comfort and consolation that a trained chaplain can provide. But the kernel of a good idea there seems to have been twisted beyond recognition by this unholy mess of a program in Montgomery, Alabama — where instead of churches sending out chaplains, the city has hired, and paid for, evangelists.

5. Here is Pope Francis on the duty of those in government:

You can’t govern without loving the people and without humility! And every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: ‘Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path.’ If you don’t ask those questions, your governance will not be good. The man or woman who governs – who loves his people is a humble man or woman.

And here are U.S. bishops William “Ham Sandwich” Lori and Sean O’Malley:

As Congress considers a Continuing Resolution and a debt ceiling bill in the days to come, we reaffirm the vital importance of incorporating the policy of this bill into such “must-pass” legislation.

In other words: Exempt all religious Taco Bell owners from contraception coverage or else shut down the government and default on U.S. payments. Using Francis’ two questions, these destructive clowns are 0-for-2.

6.35 Classy Slang Terms for Naughty Bits From the Last 600 Years.” To master a new word, of course, you need to use it in a sentence. As in: Don’t be such a Mr. Peaslin, bishop Lori, and stop obsessing over the political conquest of Mrs. Fubbs’ parlor.

7. I didn’t like the idea of a Carrie remake. I didn’t think it was likely to improve on Brian De Palma’s 1976 original, or that it was necessary to try. But regardless of what the new version is like, this hidden-camera publicity stunt for it is pretty terrific:

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  • carnackiArdent

    Possibly – Wiktionary gives the Polish word for child as being neuter in gender, so if the Polish neuter pronoun doesn’t have the dehumanizing connotations “it” does in English it’s not out of the question.

    Which of course doesn’t make the actual sentiment of his message any less repellent.

  • Lori

    I hate both the taste & the smell. Juniper and I are just not compatible things.

  • David S.

    There was a Supreme Court case about it; that basically and correctly said that no law defining kosher could be religiously neutral, especially given the disagreements on how that word is used among different groups of Jews.

    There are organizations that license their trademark for us on foods they’re certified as kosher, and their trademark is protected by law, and I figure they’re as safe (once you know what to look for) as asking the government to get involved.

  • David S.

    One Judy Blume book had a scene where a little girl (with narrative approval) was told you just shouldn’t put jelly on your mashed potatoes. It wasn’t until I was much older until I asked myself why the hell not? (I can see arguments about the amount of sugar jelly has, but that’s different then it’s just not done–I can’t remember the exact phrasing.)

  • David S.

    I’ve tried that, but whatever I ordered tended to get eaten that night. My personal pizza heresy is microwaving it or reheating it; you eat it fresh or you eat it cold.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    And, full circle, there’s an Encyclopedia Brown book where he exposes Bugs Meany’s involvment in a crime by noting that Bugs had put the mustard ON TOP of the saurkraut, which NO ONE WOULD EVER DO, thus proving the hot dog is a decoy.

  • David S.

    Encyclopedia Brown could be pretty bad at times. I occasionally pick one up now and end up just picking nits at most of the solutions.

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

    Another mystery depends on something chinese restaurants no longer universally do – i.e. some now place a knife and fork at the table instead of you needing to ask for one.

    Yet another depends on gender roles as they were conceived in the 1960s: “The woman sits this way so she can see and be seen; the man sits the other way.”

    Still others are probably bound to be vanquished by social and/or technological changes.

  • Lorehead

    Actually, no, we were both misremembering. The second circuit ruled in May 2012 that New York’s Kosher Protection Act of 2004 is constitutional, and the case hasn’t reached the Supreme Court.

  • Chloe P. H. Lewis

    I only just learned that if reheated in a oven or toaster oven *upside down* it’s delicious. Crunchy crust! Warm gooey insides! (I’m in a thin-crust town.)

  • David S.

    I was misremembering that it was the Supreme Court, but https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_laws_regarding_Kashrut gives links to various cases over the years that have been decided different ways. New York’s Kosher laws were ruled unconstitutional in 2002, and the case you mention is about their second attempt, where New York no longer tries to define Kosher, instead forcing people to label kosher foods and identify the certifying authority.

  • Lorehead

    I must have been thinking of the 2002 law, then.

  • David S.

    I liked the one in his 5 Minute Mysteries, originally published in 1972 and republished in 2002, where the mystery depends on the way the phone system works … in systems that were archaic in 1972. (Naturally when republishing in 2002, nobody thought that saying “old part of town” no longer implied “pre-1970s phone system”.)

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

    I remember that! One of the mysteries depended on the fact that in a 1940s-era phone system only the originator of the call could terminate it.

    (which I always thought was a little dumb. Wouldn’t someone at the receiving end be able to physically terminate the connection by unplugging the wire and then getting the local operator to reset something?)

  • tricksterson


    Also I eat my dogs plain, so there.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    How would the local operator know to reset something? You wouldn’t be able to call her, because your circuit would be engaged.

    One day in 2007, my dad butt-dialed me and kept me on the line for three hours until his battery went dead. I discovered that on my entirely modern phone system, the receiver could not forcibly terminate the call.

  • stardreamer42
  • lowtechcyclist

    Gotta admit, I’ve never understood the obsession some people have about the evils of putting ketchup on a hot dog.

    It hardly matters whether they’re right or wrong in their arguments. The underlying problem is that this is a hot dog we’re talking about here, not lobster or filet mignon.

    Getting snobby about the right way to eat a hot dog is just one step above getting snobby about what is OK and what is not OK to put on a bologna sandwich, or the right way to eat potted meat food product. Which is to say, one step above mindbogglingly ridiculous.

  • dpolicar

    I look at it the other way around. Given that people are going to enthusiastically condemn one another over morally irrelevant and largely insignificant attributes, I would much rather they do so over things that feel morally irrelevant and insignificant, like hot dog condiments, rather than over things like religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political ideology, skin color, gender, etc. etc. etc.

    The latter would be equally ridiculous, if it weren’t for all the real people getting hurt.

    I used to feel this way about sports teams, until I realized how many people are injured over sports team rivalries. So maybe hot dog condiments are better.

  • Daniel

    Would it not make an excellent basis for a comic? Like Hellboy but hammier? Demon possessed pigs kicking arse around the world, the leader a Hannibal type, cigar chomping boar leading his rag tag bunch of damned pig renegades into various scrapes and skirmishes. Then in a few years Christopher Nolan can suck all the fun out of it and tell us what it’d be like to live in the real world if anthropomorphic pigs were real. It would be very serious. And lucrative.

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

    assuming there’s more than one phone line in the entire world… ;)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam