Wednesday, January 30, 2002
And of course Evangeline desperately needed a nap today, but wouldn't take one.Perhaps I should be a Hindu; at least the notion of karma would explain this whole thing.
Fine, if I speak Latin, I'll be sure to observe it. Otherwise, don't be ridiculous. It makes sentence structure too pain-in-the-neck and ruins the smooth flow of a thought.
The problem is that this assumes that many of the events in Revelation are not already fulfilled, as at least one school of thought claims. (Mr. 666 would be Nero Caesar, using a form of letters-for-numbers familiar to Jews of the day; Babylon was a codeword for Rome, as supported textually in one of Peter's epistles, and so on.) In this reading, it was a book written primarily to Christians experiencing persecution in the first century.
Another view is that Revelation is a recap of God's actions throughout biblical history when his people were persecuted, hence the parallels with writings by other prophets, major and minor, and various other O.T. Scriptures.
In either case, the verses of Revelation stand to support a belief in the supremacy of Christ and the triumph of his kingdom over adversity and affliction, no matter the source. So as I think we're all agreeing, the actual foretelling significance of the book is less important to our daily living than its revelation of Christ through apocalyptic imagery.
(It's rather ironic, isn't it, that "apokalypsis" means "unveiling," but many Christians view the book's meaning as veiled?)
I think the "apocalypse" of the book's title is the unveiling of our hope in Christ, within that book; i.e., the book's main themes are quite plain and evident.
Nearly everyone concedes that some of the events described in the book of Revelation have not yet been fulfilled, although I'm aware of one school of thought -- which I do not subscribe to, incidentally -- that holds that Revelation 19 refers to the triumph of Christianity over the paganism of Rome, with chapters 20-22 being the only unfulfilled prophecy. And those, of course, are waiting for the church to accomplish its purpose.
What better way to boost Easton's image than to enter the Guiness Book of World Records and bring in tourism? The city for each year had been erecting a large, hollow plastic peace candle in the middle of its traffic circle at the heart of town, over its war memorial. The mayor decided that by spending several thousands of dollars, he could get an even bigger candle, and beat the current record.
Getting into the Guiness book is no easy feat. It also requires money, and a lot of work, and as I said, the city had been low on cash for ages. He still managed to get it done.
The Guiness man came out, took one look at the candle, and said, "That's not real wax, is it? Doesn't count."The mayor, amazingly enough, was replaced at the next election.
The principal verses for the doctrine of the Rapture are in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, where the dead and the living meet Christ in the clouds; and in Matthew 24:36-41, where Jesus speaks about some being taken and others left. Of course, Jesus never says that believers are taken and unbelievers are left behind, nor does Paul give any timeframe in reference to the rest of his eschatology when the Parousia was to occur.
Historically, the doctrine of the Rapture is fairly recent, coming out of a revival in Scotland in the 19th century, making it just a decade or so older than the "We will usher in a reign of peace, and then Christ will come" teaching. The relative newness of such teachings, while by no means disproving them, does make them a *little* suspect, I think.In any event, it's a pretty silly doctrine to base (or wreck) one's whole life on. As you say, Christ is more concerned with what we do with the times we are given.
Saturday, January 26, 2002
In the second episode, Henry is transferred to Tokyo. Burns is given command of the unit, and proceeds to drive everyone crazy. He gives Radar a list of changes to post, and the dialogue goes like this:
Radar: They're not going to like this, sir.
Burns: I didn't join the Army to be liked, corporal. Radar: Yes sir. Well, you've certainly come to the right place, sir.
In truth, I had forgotten what a great actor Gary Burghoff is/was. Radar was so underplayed he honestly steals the scene from the others quite a lot.
By the time I started watching M*A*S*H, it was around 1980 or 1981, with the result that it was nearly over, and I was watching new (to me) episodes in syndication at the same time I was watching the actually new episodes.
It's only with the release of the series on videotape that I'm starting get a clearer sense of the early chronology and seeing some of the character interplay begin that bore fruit later on. Even in the first season there were signs of stress fracture in Hot Lips and Frank's relationship, though I never would have known that before.
To the best of my knowledge, the series finale is the only episode I haven't seen. Of course, I said that before we watched the entire first season straight through and I discovered three other episodes I had no recollection of.
Of course, I haven't seen it, but plenty of people have ruined it for me by telling me about the chicken that wouldn't stop making noise while Hawkeye and the others were trying to hide from the North Koreans. Rather like the time I was working in the newsroom and someone said, "You know, I had no idea that he [Bruce Willis' character in The Sixth Sense] was a ghost." Gee, thanks, Vic.
Friday, January 25, 2002
The first: Plug up extant mouse holes with steel wool. The mice will eat through the steel wool to get back into the house, and in the process swallow tiny bits of steel that will slice their insides to ribbons.
The second: Leave out bait -- ground up cereal or something similar -- thoroughly mixed with cement powder. The mouse eats both, and in the course of the next day, begins to experience severe abdominal pains as its intestines turn to concrete.
Those, I think, match the criterion "diabolical."
Also cruel and unusual punishment: Catch the mice in a cage and read them "Jane Eyre" until they begin to commit suicide, one after the other. This one has the drawback that if the mice don't die, they might team up to plot your destruction.
Another possibility: Acquire an atom bomb, connect it to a circuit that prevents the bomb from detonating as long as it remains intact. Coat the circuit with peanut butter. The ensuing explosion will end your mouse problem for some time.
Lastly, might I suggest an important first step? Don't let geneticists make the mice smarter.
Monday, January 21, 2002
Sunday, January 20, 2002
Admittedly, one poster in particular has it right: A lot of us don't like Elmo because he wasn't on the show when we were kids and we don't want to accept that the show has evolved over the past 30 years. Some of the Elmo routines I've seen are quite good, though I'm afraid many of the Elmo videos are tedious. That, at least, is due more to the quality of the writing rather than Elmo himself. (One of the comments might have been correct in its comment that the genius of Sesame Street died, or at least took a serious beating, with the death of Jim Henson.)
The Onion had an unforgettable infographic on "The NEW Sesame Street." It includes changes like "More of that f****** Elmo's 'Elmo like this!' and 'Elmo like that!'" and my own favorite, "In sensitive segment, Bob, Susan, and Maria explain why change is good to distraught 30-year-old viewers."
Friday, January 18, 2002
Sandy barks at pretty much anything and anyone outside. Since we live inside the city limits, not far from a university, and with a sidewalk fewer than 15 feet from our front door, she gets provoked into barking quite a lot.
A Chien melange by pedigree, she looks like a cross between a Siberian husky and a German shepherd, and has a tremendously loud bark, with the result that she can be very intimidating to people who don't know what a friendly pooch she is. This is all very good since we bought her as a burglar deterrent, but it does get annoying when the kids are taking their naps.
I should add that another nice thing about Sandy is that she puts some teeth into our "Beware of Dog" sign.
Wednesday, January 16, 2002
I did think the condition of the building and our equipment was subpar. The news department was using the ATEC system, a fairly antiquated system that predates PCs. No joke. From what I remember, it was installed back in the 1970s when The Washington Post bought the newspaper. The physical appearance of the building on the inside wasn't much better, which gets demoralizing after a while.
I also thought the newspaper did too much to make advertisers happy and didn't engage in enough hardline journalism. That unfortunately seems to be par for the course these days for many newspapers, but it shouldn't be.
Overall, I would say the newspaper is one in decline, despite the often tremendous things accomplished by staff like Joe Dee, Mark Perkiss and various other reporters.
My biggest problem, though, was my own doing: I took a job as a copy editor, which took me a step further from the reasons I had become a journalist in the first place. No writing, no meeting the people on the street, no giving a voice to the little guy. (I know some people disagree with me on this one, but I think it's an admirable goal for a jorunalist to leave the world a better place than the way he found it; while it can lead to other problems when your perspective gets skewed, it's the heart and the motivation that matter most.)
Monday, January 14, 2002
- Everyone responsible for the XFL or its predecessor, the USFL
- Bill Gates
- Michael Eisner
- People who like Cheez Whiz
- People who think plastic flamingos make nice lawn ornaments
- Britney Spears
- The contemporary Christian recording industry (a few individual artists, like Mike Card, will be granted immunity owing to their talent, integrity and legitimacy, but I expect most artists and recording executives will be enjoying the snow for a long time)
- Advertising writers who create commercials that don't say a thing about what they're trying to sell you
- New Jersey
That way, if a parent picks a name that already is in use, the computer will spot the overuse and suggest an alternative, viz., "We're sorry, but that name is already in use. Can we suggest Dave3124?"
After all, what's the point in ruling the world if you can't be petty every now and then?I think I also will institute a fine on parents who give their child a perfectly acceptable name only to always call the child by a derivative of that name, and then complain when the child refuses to go by the proper name. Such is the situation with my wife, whose birth name was "Anastasha" She has never been called "Anastasha" in her life -- not by anyone left alive, anyway -- and when we married, she had her married name set as "Natasha," since that's what she's always been called.
Upon reflection, I think I'll also have to mandate penalties on parents who don't consider the ramifications of initials when they name their children. Quick example: A friend of mine has a foster son named Christian Antonio Jones. Take his first two initials and his last name, and he could start signing things C.A. Jones. Very bad in areas with large Hispanic populations.
Addendum: There will be a $1,000 cash stipend awarded to people who name their children after adverbs, in honor of our trusted minister, Respectfully Brian P. If there is a new global currency, the payout will be one thousand of those units.
Friday, January 11, 2002
And yet a nine-headed hydra must be easy compared to some of the monsters the Greeks came up with. Remember Typhon? He was one of the creatures who opposed Zeus when the gods overthrew the Titans. If I remember correctly, he had 100 heads, and some of his siblings had even more.
I wonder how the heads reached an agreement. Did they argue back and forth like the three-headed knight in "Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail," was it a simple majority rules, or did each head control a different part of the body?
Then there was hundred-eyed Argus. I can only imagine the headaches he got with that many eyes. And can you imagine what would happen if he were cross-eyed or some of his eyes got glaucoma? His optometrist must have loved sending *him* bills.(I would wager he was available to watch Io for Hera because he never had a girlfriend. After all, would you want to date someone who poked you in the eye every time they hugged you?)
Apartment-, condo- and townhouse-dwellers will be permitted to settle for window planters, but I expect the landlord or owners association to maintain regular gardens for everyone to enjoy. Perhaps sharecropping arrangements could be worked out. Actually, they will be, on penalty of having to watch Ralph Bakshi's 1978 "Lord of the Rings" movie until the situation is remedied.
Businesses with spacious, sprawling lawns will have to lease part of their land to local farmers and agricultural co-ops, and will have to have their landscaping done by someone who knows how to do it in a way that helps to recreate the natural ecology that was present before the developers came in and built everything.
Moreover, all gardens and farms will have to be kept in strict adherence to the principles of organic gardening. No pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Everything will be done through natural means, to rekindle humanity's ties to the earth, to keep the soil healthy and vibrant, to reduce the incidence of chemical pollution in the waterways and food chain, and to give farmer's co-ops lots of business.
The air will be fresher, the produce better-tasting, and all this fine real estate will not be wasted on foolish grass. A much larger portion of it will be put into fighting hunger and helping people stretch their paychecks further, since their grocery bills will drop.
All this shall be done when I rule the world.Addendum: I suppose when I rule the world I might allow farmers to cultivate cannabis, but it would have to be the nonmarijuana variety, since marijuana addles people's wits and makes them look and act like morons and has few merits.
Regular cannabis -- the kind that gives people severe headaches when they smoke it -- has many useful qualities. It is good for the soil, provides a cheaper and sturdier paper than wood fiber, can provide a healthy cooking oil when its seeds are pressed, and can even be made into clothing. And if you don't want to use it for any of those things, you can always compost it and help it aid the soil that way.
Unfortunately, both strains of cannabis belong to the same species. The difference lies in the cultivation, but both strains are outlawed under existing federal law. (Similar problems exist with the opium poppy, which actually produces a rather beautiful flower, but not worth risking having the authorities seize your property.) Leave it to the potheads to ruin a perfectly good plant.
Tuesday, January 08, 2002
Saturday, January 05, 2002
I suspect the reason for my disquiet over Raknison is that he is a bear who wants to a human, when Pullman is merely using the bears as a representation of one Icelandic race or another in a pagan state that is crossing over to Christendom for political reasons, as surely was the case for some courts as the Catholic Church expanded into predominantly pagan areas in Northern Europe.