• “Was it possible there was a civilization on Mars thousands of years ago?” That was Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s question for poor Ken Farley, a scientist with NASA’s Mars rover program, who was testifying before Congress yesterday. Rohrabacher, who has served in Congress since 1989, has a master’s degree from USC. Oh, man, wonder if he’ll ever know.
• Rosalind C. Hughes says that “American flag-worship” looks a lot like idolatry. True. Because that’s what it is.
And the Pledge of Allegiance is also the creepiest ritual imaginable. No form of love — including patriotism — should ever be that creepy.
“Good night, Daddy, I love you.”
“Hold on a minute, honey. If you really love me, you’ll stand, place your hand over your heart, and recite the loyalty oath to me that I’ve forced you to memorize.”
Only the creepiest of creepy creeps would ever think that was a good thing.
• “The escapade, however, left Pasqua with a bad case of tonsillitis. He feared that murdering Michael Malloy was going to be the death of him.” Turns out it was.
A terrific tale, terrifically told: “Malloy the Invincible.”
• Talent scout for TLC is sitting in his office when Toby Willis shows up. “It’s a family act,” Willis says, and he brings in his wife and 12 homeschooled children. “We sing and dance and preach the right-wing gospel of White Jesus and, well, we should probably just show you …”
[fast-forward 20 minutes later] “… the Aristocrats!”
• Speaking of classic jokes proper, here’s Ken Levine providing a basic introduction to the “Rule of Threes” in comedy. It’s anapestic, like a rimshot. Levine says this formula dates back to prehistory and “cave-man comics.” I believe it. Consider Jesus’ parables: “So there’s this priest, and this Levite, and this Samaritan …” Just doesn’t work without the Levite. Rule of threes.• Charismanews says Revelation 6:8 proves that a large sunspot observed in 2017 indicates the Rapture and the Great Tribulation are imminent. Does Charisma’s millionaire publisher, Steve Strang, really believe this nonsense, or is he just cynically exploiting his gullible readers? Which of those two possibilities is more damning?
Two centuries before Strang’s media empire of bonkers false prophets and charlatans, there was pamphleteering phenom Nimrod Hughes. After the Great Comet of 1811, Hughes either freaked out or cashed-in with a “prophecy” of apocalyptic destruction set for June 4, 1812. Cynical con-artist or demonstrably wrong true believer? Can we ever know? Does it ever matter?
• Christian Nightmares brings us, in its entirety, the 1982 Olive’s Film Production, Rock: It’s Your Decision. It’s so utterly 1982 that you could almost mistake it for season 2 of Stranger Things, except it’s even stranger and more upside-down than that.
The film is a saddening bore, but it’s a notable artifact in the history of fake news, [im-]moral panics, Satanic baby-killers and liars for Jesus. It was produced by Dan and Steve Peters of the Zion Christian Life Center in St. Paul. The other Peters brother, Jim, features in the history of the infamous Procter & Gamble Satanism rumor. As Robert Skvarla writes for Atlas Obscura, Jim Peters boosted the (laughably false) rumor in 1980 by claiming “to have found a copy of the P&G logo in a book by British occultist E.A. Wallis Budge called Amulets and Superstitions.”
Were the Peters brothers true believers in this nonsense or simply predatory grifters who realized there was money to be made peddling it to eager rubes? The line between those two explanations isn’t always clear-cut. Those selling such false witness and those buying it have one thing in common: They want it to be true.
• Have to end with this, of course, so let’s use this melancholy but lovely rendition by Aurora: