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Michael Stuart Kelly

Human stupidity

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This is a bit long, but it is my favorite article on human stupidity.

It is posted here. This originally was part of a longer book published by The Mad Millers Publishers and is no longer available for purchase. Apparently it was a best seller in Italy. This extract is posted all over the internet. Professor Cipolla was much beloved and taught at Berkeley. He passed away in 2000, as given in his obituary.

Michael

THE BASIC LAWS OF HUMAN STUPIDITY

by Carlo M. Cipolla

illustrations by James Donnelly

THE FIRST BASIC LAW OF HUMAN STUPIDITY asserts without ambiguity that:

Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

At first, the statement sounds trivial, vague and horribly ungenerous. Closer scrutiny will however reveal its realistic veracity. No matter how high are one's estimates of human stupidity, one is repeatedly and recurrently startled by the fact that:

a) people whom one had once judged rational and intelligent turn out to be unashamedly stupid.

b) day after day, with unceasing monotony, one is harassed in one's activities by stupid individuals who appear suddenly and unexpectedly in the most inconvenient places and at the most improbable moments.

stupid01.gif

The First Basic Law prevents me from attributing a specific numerical value to the fraction of stupid people within the total population: any numerical estimate would turn out to be an underestimate. Thus in the following pages I will denote the fraction of stupid people within a population by the symbol å.

THE SECOND BASIC LAW

Cultural trends now fashionable in the West favour an egalitarian approach to life. People like to think of human beings as the output of a perfectly engineered mass production machine. Geneticists and sociologists especially go out of their way to prove, with an impressive apparatus of scientific data and formulations that all men are naturally equal and if some are more equal than others, this is attributable to nurture and not to nature. I take an exception to this general view. It is my firm conviction, supported by years of observation and experimentation, that men are not equal, that some are stupid and others are not, and that the difference is determined by nature and not by cultural forces or factors. One is stupid in the same way one is red-haired; one belongs to the stupid set as one belongs to a blood group. A stupid man is born a stupid man by an act of Providence. Although convinced that fraction of human beings are stupid and that they are so because of genetic traits, I am not a reactionary trying to reintroduce surreptitiously class or race discrimination. I firmly believe that stupidity is an indiscriminate privilege of all human groups and is uniformly distributed according to a constant proportion. This fact is scientifically expressed by the Second Basic Law which states that

The probability that a certain person will be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

In this regard, Nature seems indeed to have outdone herself. It is well known that Nature manages, rather mysteriously, to keep constant the relative frequency of certain natural phenomena. For instance, whether men proliferate at the Northern Pole or at the Equator, whether the matching couples are developed or underdeveloped, whether they are black, red, white or yellow the female to male ratio among the newly born is a constant, with a very slight prevalence of males. We do not know how Nature achieves this remarkable result but we know that in order to achieve it Nature must operate with large numbers. The most remarkable fact about the frequency of stupidity is that Nature succeeds in making this frequency equal to the probability quite independently from the size of the group.

stupid02.gif

Thus one finds the same percentage of stupid people whether one is considering very large groups or one is dealing with very small ones. No other set of observable phenomena offers such striking proof of the powers of Nature.

The evidence that education has nothing to do with the probability was provided by experiments carried on in a large number of universities all over the world. One may distinguish the composite population which constitutes a university in five major groups, namely the blue-collar workers, the white-collar employees, the students, the administrators and the professors.

Whenever I analyzed the blue-collar workers I found that the fraction å of them were stupid. As å value was higher than I expected (First Law), paying my tribute to fashion I thought at first that segregation, poverty, lack of education were to be blamed. But moving up the social ladder I found that the same ratio was prevalent among the white-collar employees and among the students. More impressive still were the results among the professors. Whether I considered a large university or a small college, a famous institution or an obscure one, I found that the same fraction å of the professors are stupid. So bewildered was I by the results, that I made a special point to extend my research to a specially selected group, to a real elite, the Nobel laureates. The result confirmed Nature's supreme powers: å fraction of the Nobel laureates are stupid.

This idea was hard to accept and digest but too many experimental results proved its fundamental veracity. The Second Basic Law is an iron law, and it does not admit exceptions. The Women's Liberation Movement will support the Second Basic Law as it shows that stupid individuals are proportionately as numerous among men as among women. The underdeveloped of the Third World will probably take solace at the Second Basic Law as they can find in it the proof that after all the developed are not so developed. Whether the Second Basic Law is liked or not, however, its implications are frightening: the Law implies that whether you move in distinguished circles or you take refuge among the head-hunters of Polynesia, whether you lock yourself into a monastery or decide to spend the rest of your life in the company of beautiful and lascivious women, you always have to face the same percentage of stupid people - which percentage (in accordance with the First Law) will always surpass your expectations.

THE THIRD (AND GOLDEN) BASIC LAW

The Third Basic Law assumes, although it does not state it explicitly, that human beings fall into four basic categories: the helpless, the intelligent, the bandit and the stupid. It will be easily recognized by the perspicacious reader that these four categories correspond to the four areas I, H, S, B, of the basic graph (see below).

stupidfig1.gif

If Tom takes an action and suffers a loss while producing a gain to Dick, Tom's mark will fall in field H: Tom acted helplessly. If Tom takes an action by which he makes a gain while yielding a gain also to Dick, Tom's mark will fall in area I: Tom acted intelligently. If Tom takes an action by which he makes a gain causing Dick a loss, Tom's mark will fall in area B: Tom acted as a bandit. Stupidity is related to area S and to all positions on axis Y below point O. As the Third Basic Law explicitly clarifies:

A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

When confronted for the first time with the Third Basic Law, rational people instinctively react with feelings of skepticism and incredulity. The fact is that reasonable people have difficulty in conceiving and understanding unreasonable behaviour. But let us abandon the lofty plane of theory and let us look pragmatically at our daily life. We all recollect occasions in which a fellow took an action which resulted in his gain and our loss: we had to deal with a bandit. We also recollect cases in which a fellow took an action which resulted in his loss and our gain: we had to deal with a helpless person. We can recollect cases in which a fellow took an action by which both parties gained: he was intelligent. Such cases do indeed occur. But upon thoughtful reflection you must admit that these are not the events which punctuate most frequently our daily life. Our daily life is mostly, made of cases in which we lose money and/or time and/or energy and/or appetite, cheerfulness and good health because of the improbable action of some preposterous creature who has nothing to gain and indeed gains nothing from causing us embarrassment, difficulties or harm. Nobody knows, understands or can possibly explain why that preposterous creature does what he does. In fact there is no explanation - or better there is only one explanation: the person in question is stupid.

FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION

Most people do not act consistently. Under certain circumstances a given person acts intelligently and under different circumstances the same person will act helplessly. The only important exception to the rule is represented by the stupid people who normally show a strong proclivity toward perfect consistency in all fields of human endeavours.

From all that proceeds, it does not follow that we can chart on the basic graph only stupid individuals. We can calculate for each person his weighted average position in the plane of figure 1 quite independently from his degree of inconsistency. A helpless person may occasionally behave intelligently and on occasion he may perform a bandit's action. But since the person in question is fundamentally helpless most of his action will have the characteristics of helplessness. Thus the overall weighted average position of all the actions of such a person will place him in the H quadrant of the basic graph.

The fact that it is possible to place on the graph individuals instead of their actions allows some digression about the frequency of the bandit and stupid types.

The perfect bandit is one who, with his actions, causes to other individuals losses equal to his gains. The crudest type of banditry is theft. A person who robs you of 100 pounds without causing you an extra loss or harm is a perfect bandit: you lose 100 pounds, he gains 100 pounds. In the basic graph the perfect bandits would appear on a 45-degree diagonal line that divides the area B into two perfectly symmetrical sub-areas (line OM of figure 2).

stupidfig2.gif

However the "perfect" bandits are relatively few. The line OM divides the area B into two sub-areas, B1, and B2, and by far the largest majority of the bandits falls somewhere in one of these two sub-areas.

The bandits who fall in area B1 are those individuals whose actions yield to them profits which are larger than the losses they cause to other people. All bandits who are entitled to a position in area B1 are bandits with overtones of intelligence and as they get closer to the right side of the X axis they share more and more the characteristics of the intelligent person.

Unfortunately the individuals entitled to a position in the B1 area are not very numerous. Most bandits actually fall in area B2. The individuals who fall in this area are those whose actions yield to them gains inferior to the losses inflicted to other people. If someone kills you in order to rob you of fifty pounds or if he murders you in order to spend a weekend with your wife at Monte Carlo, we can be sure that he is not a perfect bandit. Even by using his values to measure his gains (but still using your values to measure your losses) he falls in the B2 area very close to the border of sheer stupidity. Generals who cause vast destruction and innumerable casualties in return for a promotion or a medal fall in the same area.

The frequency distribution of the stupid people is totally different from that of the bandit. While bandits are mostly scattered over an area stupid people are heavily concentrated along one line, specifically on the Y axis below point O. The reason for this is that by far the majority of stupid people are basically and unwaveringly stupid - in other words they perseveringly insist in causing harm and losses to other people without deriving any gain, whether positive or negative.

There are however people who by their improbable actions not only cause damages to other people but in addition hurt themselves. They are a sort of super-stupid who, in our system of accounting, will appear somewhere in the area S to the left of the Y axis.

THE POWER OF STUPIDITY

It is not difficult to understand how social, political and institutional power enhances the damaging potential of a stupid person. But one still has to explain and understand what essentially it is that makes a stupid person dangerous to other people - in other words what constitutes the power of stupidity.

Essentially stupid people are dangerous and damaging because reasonable people find it difficult to imagine and understand unreasonable behaviour. An intelligent person may understand the logic of a bandit. The bandit's actions follow a pattern of rationality: nasty rationality, if you like, but still rationality. The bandit wants a plus on his account. Since he is not intelligent enough to devise ways of obtaining the plus as well as providing you with a plus, he will produce his plus by causing a minus to appear on your account. All this is bad, but it is rational and if you are rational you can predict it. You can foresee a bandit's actions, his nasty manoeuvres and ugly aspirations and often can build up your defenses.

With a stupid person all this is absolutely impossible as explained by the Third Basic Law. A stupid creature will harass you for no reason, for no advantage, without any plan or scheme and at the most improbable times and places. You have no rational way of telling if and when and how and why the stupid creature attacks. When confronted with a stupid individual you are completely at his mercy. Because the stupid person's actions do not conform to the rules of rationality, it follows that:

a) one is generally caught by surprise by the attack; b) even when one becomes aware of the attack, one cannot organize a rational defense, because the attack itself lacks any rational structure.

The fact that the activity and movements of a stupid creature are absolutely erratic and irrational not only makes defense problematic but it also makes any counter-attack extremely difficult - like trying to shoot at an object which is capable of the most improbable and unimaginable movements. This is what both Dickens and Schiller had in mind when the former stated that "with stupidity and sound digestion man may front much" and the latter wrote that "against stupidity the very Gods fight in vain."

THE FOURTH BASIC LAW

That helpless people, namely those who in our accounting system fall into the H area, do not normally recognize how dangerous stupid people are, is not at all surprising. Their failure is just another expression of their helplessness. The truly amazing fact, however, is that also intelligent people and bandits often fail to recognize the power to damage inherent in stupidity. It is extremely difficult to explain why this should happen and one can only remark that when confronted with stupid individuals often intelligent men as well as bandits make the mistake of indulging in feelings of self-complacency and contemptuousness instead of immediately secreting adequate quantities of adrenaline and building up defenses.

One is tempted to believe that a stupid man will only do harm to himself but this is confusing stupidity with helplessness. On occasion one is tempted to associate oneself with a stupid individual in order to use him for one's own schemes. Such a manoeuvre cannot but have disastrous effects because a) it is based on a complete misunderstanding of the essential nature of stupidity and b) it gives the stupid person added scope for the exercise of his gifts. One may hope to outmanoeuvre the stupid and, up to a point, one may actually do so. But because of the erratic behaviour of the stupid, one cannot foresee all the stupid's actions and reactions and before long one will be pulverized by the unpredictable moves of the stupid partner.

This is clearly summarized in the Fourth Basic Law which states that:

Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

Through centuries and millennia, in public as in private life, countless individuals have failed to take account of the Fourth Basic Law and the failure has caused mankind incalculable losses.

THE FIFTH BASIC LAW

Instead of considering the welfare of the individual let us consider the welfare of the society, regarded in this context as the algebraic sum of the individual conditions. A full understanding of the Fifth Basic Law is essential to the analysis. It may be parenthetically added here that of the Five Basic Laws, the Fifth is certainly the best known and its corollary is quoted very frequently. The Fifth Basic Law states that:

A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

The corollary of the Law is that:

A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit.

The result of the action of a perfect bandit (the person who falls on line OM of figure 2) is purely and simply a transfer of wealth and/or welfare. After the action of a perfect bandit, the bandit has a plus on his account which plus is exactly equivalent to the minus he has caused to another person. The society as a whole is neither better nor worse off. If all members of a society were perfect bandits the society would remain stagnant but there would be no major disaster. The whole business would amount to massive transfers of wealth and welfare in favour of those who would take action. If all members of the society would take action in regular turns, not only the society as a whole but also individuals would find themselves in a perfectly steady state of no change.

When stupid people are at work, the story is totally different. Stupid people cause losses to other people with no counterpart of gains on their own account. Thus the society as a whole is impoverished. The system of accounting which finds expression in the basic graphs shows that while all actions of individuals falling to the right of the line POM (see fig. 3) add to the welfare of a society; although in different degrees, the actions of all individuals falling to the left of the same line POM cause a deterioration.

stupidfig3.gif

In other words the helpless with overtones of intelligence (area H1), the bandits with overtones of intelligence (area B1) and above all the intelligent (area I) all contribute, though in different degrees, to accrue to the welfare of a society. On the other hand the bandits with overtones of stupidity (area B2) and the helpless with overtones of stupidity (area H1) manage to add losses to those caused by stupid people thus enhancing the nefarious destructive power of the latter group.

All this suggests some reflection on the performance of societies. According to the Second Basic Law, the fraction of stupid people is a constant å which is not affected by time, space, race, class or any other socio- cultural or historical variable. It would be a profound mistake to believe the number of stupid people in a declining society is greater than in a developing society. Both such societies are plagued by the same percentage of stupid people. The difference between the two societies is that in the society which performs poorly:

a) the stupid members of the society are allowed by the other members to become more active and take more actions; b) there is a change in the composition of the non-stupid section with a relative decline of populations of areas I, H1 and B1 and a proportionate increase of populations H2 and B2.

This theoretical presumption is abundantly confirmed by an exhaustive analysis of historical cases. In fact the historical analysis allows us to reformulate the theoretical conclusions in a more factual way and with more realistic detail.

Whether one considers classical, or medieval, or modern or contemporary times one is impressed by the fact that any country moving uphill has its unavoidable å fraction of stupid people. However the country moving uphill also has an unusually high fraction of intelligent people who manage to keep the å fraction at bay and at the same time produce enough gains for themselves and the other members of the community to make progress a certainty.

In a country which is moving downhill, the fraction of stupid people is still equal to å; however in the remaining population one notices among those in power an alarming proliferation of the bandits with overtones of stupidity (sub-area B1 of quadrant B in figure 3) and among those not in power an equally alarming growth in the number of helpless individuals (area H in basic graph, fig.1). Such change in the composition of the non-stupid population inevitably strengthens the destructive power of the å fraction and makes decline a certainty. And the country goes to Hell.

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Due to recent events, this humorous article seems even more pertinent than ever. Especially the definition of a stupid person:

A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

Michael

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Stupid is the basis of the Darwin Awards.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Darn Mike. You are really mining the past. I started reading the first post, came across Barbara Branden's letter and thought someone had taken over her account. But then I saw the date.

Peter Principle     

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If you think about it everybody's stupid, for even a genius hasn't time not to be. He's too busy being a genius.

--Brant

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7 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

If you think about it everybody's stupid, for even a genius hasn't time not to be. He's too busy being a genius.

--Brant

A better way of putting that is that everyone,  even our most brilliant geniuses has intellectual limits.  Which stands to reason.  There is just so much information that can be stored  in three pounds of brain jelly-goo   and we are all subject to fatigue.   Ordinary folks just have fewer brilliant moments than geniuses.

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Baal wrote: A better way of putting that is that everyone, even our most brilliant geniuses has intellectual limits. end quote

A good article or book could be written about how very intelligent innovators were so wrong about other things. I remember being overwhelmed by the genius of Carl Sagan but then I read his thoughts about freedom and socialism, and thought socialist Carl had become demented and was no longer using the scientific method. Unfortunately, even smart brains are compartmentalized. Their brains wobble between truly stupid, Ok, sort of smart, and ingenious!

So why don’t scientific geniuses utilize the scientific method in other aspects of their lives? Odd human behavior, say what, Watson? I know the argument that people who get government grants to continue their work, “toe the line” as with Human Caused Global Warming, so that the money keeps flowing but too many of them are like Victor on The Young and The Restless. They are brilliant about everything in their field of success but terrible about politics or their personal lives.

And that is why much of the fiction of Star Trek was so refreshing to Objectivists. I think we Objectivists try to live good personal lives through reason. I know I do.

Peter    

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3 hours ago, Peter said:

Baal wrote: A better way of putting that is that everyone, even our most brilliant geniuses has intellectual limits. end quote

A good article or book could be written about how very intelligent innovators were so wrong about other things. I remember being overwhelmed by the genius of Carl Sagan but then I read his thoughts about freedom and socialism, and thought socialist Carl had become demented and was no longer using the scientific method. Unfortunately, even smart brains are compartmentalized. Their brains wobble between truly stupid, Ok, sort of smart, and ingenious!

So why don’t scientific geniuses utilize the scientific method in other aspects of their lives? Odd human behavior, say what, Watson? I know the argument that people who get government grants to continue their work, “toe the line” as with Human Caused Global Warming, so that the money keeps flowing but too many of them are like Victor on The Young and The Restless. They are brilliant about everything in their field of success but terrible about politics or their personal lives.

And that is why much of the fiction of Star Trek was so refreshing to Objectivists. I think we Objectivists try to live good personal lives through reason. I know I do.

Peter    

In my younger days I was a blazing hot applied math whiz wunderkind  but I was socially oblivious.  After much remedial work over the decades I sill miss out on some social subtleties.  I also miss out on artistic matters.  Not all parts of my mental wetworks function at the same level. So I am in no way surprised that advanced scientific and mathematical thinkers can be as dumb as a bag of rocks  on matters social and political. 

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Bob wrote: After much remedial work over the decades I still miss out on some social subtleties. end quote

When you are face to face with a person they expect YOU to be there, not off on a cloud, day dreaming or fumbling for words, and for you to answer their questions without pausing to edit them. If you do not respond quickly you can seem evasive, retarded, or just socially inept like a gawky teenager.

In a way, writing on the internet, is a way of speaking without being limited in social skills. You can think about your responses and edit them. You can add friendly sounding words and phrases. You can change your obscure (to some) “internet handle,” from Ba’al to Bob. In a way I usually call you Ba’al instead of your name Bob to point this out to you, though to little effect.

Do you relate to dogs, cats, or a parrot, pet and feed them, talk to them, and have them like you? Do you read fiction? That would be a way to pick up reader friendly ways of writing. Though I wonder if Jane Austen was “hard to reach.” One of her quotes in “Remind Magazine,” is “I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.” And she also wrote, “Selfishness must always be forgiven, you know, because there is no hope of a cure.”

One more Jane Austen quote. “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us.” She obviously thought about her social skills.

Peter  

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The topic, “Human Stupidity”? I watched a few seconds of golf matches as I passed through the room and they showed the highlights and recap, and I was impressed how the golfers who just made a great shot reacted. Smiles. Clenched fist raised high. A few hoots. A high five with the caddy.

Contrast that to the little girl dances we see at pro football games when the runner scores. Could anyone demonstrate stupidity and lack of taste, any better?

Peter, who will rarely “do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight.”   

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More humor from the June Reader’s Digest. Ariana Grande: The 25 year old pop singer had the name of her new album ”7 Rings” tattooed in Japanese on her left palm. But because the translation was long and it would have been far too painful to tattoo all those characters, Grande edited out a few. As a result, she will forever sport the word shichirin, which translates to “barbeque grill.” 

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I was doing a search for evolutionary psychology and found the flowing, oops, I mean I found the following. What feels good, is good for you, and for your species~ hooray! But what about aggressive gay dudes like Kevin Spacey? The guillotine? Peter

Reported on Fox News back in 2001. News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences evolutionary-psychology Subj: [evol-psych] Orgasm offers health benefits - Comforting Climax Date: 2/15/01 9:28:56 PM Pacific Standard Time. Comforting Climax. Orgasm offers health benefits by Adam Pasick. Orgasms leave us feeling flushed, euphoric and happily exhausted. And like so many other things that feel good, they may also actually be good for us. Orgasms can actually deliver health benefits that long outlast the sexual afterglow, according to experts, who say the intense sexual experience might do everything from lower your blood pressure to reduce the risk of cancer in women. Orgasms are also a series of pleasurable muscular contractions, releasing pent-up tension and stimulating the brain's pleasure center.

"Orgasm releases endorphins, the mind's natural mood relaxers and enhancers," said sex expert Mark Gorkin. "More important, it helps you feel connected to someone beyond yourself. It's the moment of serenity, of letting go."

British researchers tossed around the idea of starting a public health campaign encouraging people to have more orgasms, along the lines of "five a day" ads for fruits and vegetables, but conceded five sexual climaxes a day might be a bit ambitious.

Ooh, Oxytocin. Part of the flood of neurological responses is a hormone called oxytocin. Released during orgasm, it builds intimacy -- and studies indicate it could do a lot more.

Orgasms could help ward off cancer in non-childbearing women, according to Dr. Timothy Murrell of the University of Adelaide, Australia, who speculates oxytocin helps cleanse the breast of carcinogenic cells. "Oxytocin levels have been shown to rise with orgasm in women and in men," he wrote in the journal Breast Cancer Research Treatment.

A group of Italian researchers has also found oxytocin "inhibits the proliferation of breast cancer cells in vitro" and suggests "it may be possible to inhibit breast cancer growth using oxytocin." They also found blood pressure levels drop when oxytocin acts on the system. Tell that to your doctor! The hormone is present in both the brain and in the bloodstream, and also plays a key role in breast feeding and sexual behavior, according to Dr. Rebecca Turner of the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center. Stimulation of the breasts, in both men and women, causes the brain to send a signal for the pituitary gland to release oxytocin.

The happy, mellow feeling afterwards -- and the need for a nap – can also be credited to oxytocin. The post-O glow is at once intense and relaxing, said Anna, an investment banker from France. "You're really aware of everywhere your bodies are touching and you feel like you don't ever want to move -- and then you fall asleep!" The health effects of this mysterious hormone on men have not been as thoroughly investigated, possibly because oxytocin was originally studied in terms of breast feeding. But never fear, fellas: Orgasms seem to be plenty good for men's health, too. A study of 918 men in the British Medical Journal found those with "high orgasmic frequency" had a 50 percent lower risk of death than their orgasm-deficient counterparts. So it's a matter of life or death ... kind of. This might not work as a way to coax your partner into bed, though.

'There are no scientific data that would suggest orgasm is either good or bad for the prostate; it's a tough thing to study' -- Dr. Ian Thompson. The study controlled for various factors like income and profession, and concluded "sexual activity seems to have a protective effect on men's health." Some doctors have speculated orgasms are good for the prostate: since the walnut-shaped organ is a conduit for sperm and seminal fluid, it makes sense that using the plumbing is good for the pipes. However, that theory is unsupported by hard evidence, according to urologist Dr. Ian Thompson of the University of Texas-San Antonio. "Anybody who says they know the answer is wrong," he said. "There are no scientific data that would suggest orgasm is either good or bad for the prostate -- it's a tough thing to study," because it's often unclear whether an unhealthy prostate is causing fewer orgasms, or the other way around.

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Time for a rant. What do the Maori people of New Zealand and penitentiary inmates have in common? I was watching The Price is Right today and two of the finalists had bad arm tattoos. It used to be mostly drunken sailors that got tattoos. But then celebrities like Cher got a tattoo on their butts so their sex partners could stare at it. Tattoo-ers look like foolish, self-absorbed morons, who were drunk, on drugs, (or drunk and on drugs) when they permanently defaced and scarred their bodies. Sometimes the sicko’s get tattoos to cover other offending tattoos resulting in dirty looking or badly burned body parts, as seen on The Price Is Right today. Gang members get tattoos on their necks and faces but other drugged up people, especially in California, get neck and face tattoos. So what price do you pay to get a tattoo? Gasps of disgust? What a tattoo’er does is make onlookers wonder about the sanity or drug use of the person they are looking at, for the rest of their lives.  Peter    

Dangers of tattoos are more than just skin deep by Darwin Malicdem. Many people consider getting a tattoo to express their ideas or tell something about them or what they like or love. Estimates show that four in every 10 millennials, ages 18 to 29, have a tattoo. The same figure was also found in older generations, with 40 percent of the Gen X, ages 40 to 54, with one or more tattoos, CNN reported Monday. Some people have their inks on usually visible skin, like neck and arms, while others prefer it hidden under clothing. However, there are other things that people may not know are hiding in their skin after getting a tattoo. Health experts said inks can trigger allergic reactions, which could lead to minor and even serious complications. 

“You're introducing a foreign body via the skin and there are risks,” Shawn Kwatra, an assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said. “Sometimes your body can react in many ways you may have never thought about.”

Allergic reactions may occur immediately or take weeks to even decades after getting a tattoo, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The negative effects of tattoos may depend on the color of the ink used. People report mild side effects, such as redness, swelling or an itch, on arts with red ink. However, there have been reports that red ink caused serious allergic reaction, including blisters, scaly patches and watery discharge paired with serious pain, flushing or hives, troubled breathing or racing heart. The use of yellow ink can also lead to unwanted effects. It can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, which can be irritating. 

With the wrong ink, people can also get neurodermatitis. This condition causes the whole tattoo to bubble up and become like “thick, leathery skin." If you have the gene for psoriasis, you should rethink your dream to immortalize your dog on your skin. Dermatologists said that tattoos could trigger the development of the disease. Unfortunately, there is no available method or tools that could help people predict if they would have an allergic reaction to tattoos. Dermatologists only recommend getting a very small test tattoo to see how the skin would respond to the ink. 

"You may be completely normal, completely healthy, but there could be something about the red pigment that your body just does not like," Crystal Aguh, an assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said. "If you've never been exposed to it before there would be no way for you to know before getting the tattoo."

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Let me try my hand at script writing for “The Honeymooners, an old 1950’s, American TV show starring Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, and Joyce Randolph.

Ralph, New York City bus driver yelling through the window to the upstairs apartment: Norton! Forget the coronavirus. You’ve gotta go back to work. The sewers are backing up.

New York sewer worker, Ed Norton: Hey Ralph. You’re the bus driver. Youse go back to work. Old people can’t walk back and forth to work or to the market. Mayor De Blasio needs you! 

Alice Kramden standing next to her husband: Ralph. You are staying home.

Trixie Norton from the upstairs apartment window: Ed, you are staying home too.

Ed: Maybe you are right Trixie. Maybe you can catch the coronavirus from crap. Peter

And now back to “real life.” I went to the dump the other day and the attendant seemed ill as I may have mentioned. Can exposure to lesser viruses give you some immunity from the coronavirus? My unscientific brain thought so. Peter

Best REAL lines from “The Honeymooners.”

Your mambo days are over! You want to wiggle? Wiggle over to the stove, and get my supper! — Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Norton Moves In  mambo Supper

Ralph Kramden, you just lost your membership card to the human race! — Ed Norton (Art Carney), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Easter Hats human race

Acting young ain't what keeps you young, but if you have some memories—some good memories—of when you were young, that's what keeps you young. — Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason),

Like we say in the sewer, 'time and tide wait for no man'. — Ed Norton (Art Carney), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Ralph Kramden, Inc. Sewer Time and Tide

Ralph Kramden: Norton, let's face it, I'm a man with big ideas, and sooner or later, one of those ideas is going to catch on. And when they do, I'm going to be a big shot. And do you know what happens to people who become big shots?   Ed Norton: Yeah, they forget their relatives.

 

Ralph: Yessir, this is the time I'm gonna get my pot of gold.    Alice: Just go for the gold, you've already got the pot.  — Alice Kramden (Audrey Meadows), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Alice's Aunt Ethel pot of goldFat-Shaming

 

Ralph: For the last time, Alice, I'm telling you, I'm going for the $99,000 question.  Alice: For the last time, Ralph, I'll be very happy if you win the 600 bucks. Ralph: $600? Peanuts, peanuts! What am I gonna do with peanuts? Alice: Eat 'em, like any other elephant. — Alice Kramden (Audrey Meadows), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Alice's Aunt Ethel Fat-Shaming

Ed Norton: Hey, Ralph, what's the normal temperature, around 98, ain't it?
Ralph Kramden: 98.6.  Ed Norton: What would you say a bad temperature is? Ralph Kramden: Hundred and two, 103. What is it, Norton? What is my temperature? [Norton becomes shocked as he examines the thermometer; Ralph gets impatient] Ralph Kramden: WHAT'S MY TEMPERATURE, NORTON?  Ed Norton: [crying out] A HUNDRED AND ELEVEN! Ralph Kramden: A hundred and eleven? Ed Norton: Why'd it have to be you? Prime of life!
— Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Anniversary Gift TemperatureThermometerFever

Ralph: What's the matter? Aren't you up on current events? Don't you read the papers? Don't you read comic books? That's the trouble with you; you don't know the latest developments. Alice: I don't know the latest developments? Who is it that lets your pants out every other day?

 

Ralph: What do you know about fishing? When have you ever caught anything? Alice: Fifteen years ago. I caught 300 pounds of blubber. — Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Glow Worm Cleaning FishingFat-Shaming

 

Ralph: You're the type of person that would bend way over to pick up a penny on the sidewalk. I wouldn't.   Alice: You couldn't. — Alice Kramden (Audrey Meadows), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Christmas Party CheapFat-Shaming

 

You're a riot, Alice. You're a regular riot. Hope they like those jokes on the moon, 'cause that's where you're goin'. — Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Christmas Party RiotMoonThreats

 

Alice Kramden: Now you listen to me, Ralph. My mother is coming here and you're going to be nice to her. Ralph Kramden: Be nice to her? That's impossible! We don't get along. We're enemies, natural enemies. Like a boa constrictor and a mongoose. She hates me, Alice! Alice Kramden: Ralph, Mother doesn't hate you, that's your imagination. Ralph Kramden: My imagination? I suppose it was my imagination the day we were married and she went around telling that joke about me! Alice Kramden: What joke? Ralph Kramden: You remember, you remember the joke she went around tellin' everyone about me! Alice Kramden: No I don't remember, what joke? Ralph Kramden: Oh, yes, you do. She ran around the reception tellin' everybody 'I'm not losing a daughter, I'm gaining a ton.' — Alice Kramden (Audrey Meadows), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Six Months To Live Mother in Lawnatural enemies

 

Dear Mom, I just thought I'd write and tell you this. A mother-in-law is the most criticized, the most misunderstood and the most defenseless of all women. The average woman must be clever enough to know when to speak, but a mother-in-law must know when to keep silent. She must be very wise; wise enough sometimes to withhold advice, although she knows the answer to the problem. A mother-in-law must sit on the fence between her own child and the child by marriage, and somehow she must keep a balance. She must lean backwards until her spine aches, or else she is accused of being partial, and she isn't permitted the luxury of hurt feelings or tears. If a person could put themselves in their mother-in-law's place, weigh her in the balance, and be completely fair, they'd nominate her for the Presidency of the United States, and she'd be the first woman to make it. — Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Six Months To Live Mother in LawTolerancePatienceUS President

 

Ralph Kramden: Name one thing that could possibly be worse than my mother-in-law coming.
Ed Norton: My mother-in-law coming! Boy, compared to her coming, the invasion of locusts was a boon to mankind! Ralph Kramden: Don't start, Norton. Don't try to compare your mother-in-law with my mother-in-law, 'cause you got a lose. It's no match.
— Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Six Months To Live CompetitionMother in Law

 

Ralph Kramden: Nobody's one hundred percent, Alice. Alice Kramden: You are. You've been wrong every time! — Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Six Months To Live insults

 

Ralph Kramden: We spend $200, we make $2000 and the profit is 1800. We can't lose. Ed Norton: Can't lose, huh? That's what you said when you bought the parking lot next to where they were building up the movie house there. You said, 'People going to the movies got to have a place to park their car.' Ralph Kramden: How did I know they were building a drive-in theater? — Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), The Honeymooners, Season 1: Pickles

 

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I know I have pasted this “religious thread” before but it is funny and we all deserve a chuckle. Peter

From: William Dwyer To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Ask Laura Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2001 08:34:01 -0800. Laura Schlessinger, who is an Orthodox Jew, has said that homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned in any circumstance.

The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura, which was posted on the Internet: Dear Dr. Laura: Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to follow them.

1) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9).  The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them.  Should I smite them?

2) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7.  In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24).  The problem is, how do I tell?  I have tried asking, but most women take offence.

4) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians.  Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

5) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.  Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

6) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

7) Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight.  I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some room for negotiation here?

8) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27.  How should they die?

9) I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them?  (Lev.24:10-16)  Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws?  (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging. Your devoted disciple and adoring fan, Craig

From: "Jeff Olson" To: "atlantis" Subject: ATL: Dialogues with God Date: Wed, 2 May 2001 13:47:49 -0700. I took Debbie's suggestion about arguing with God directly, and fortunately, owing perhaps to His omnipotence, He was able to spare time from His busy schedule to meet with me personally and discuss some of my concerns....

I found God sitting in my backyard, drinking a beer. At first I thought He was a biker, since He was wearing a leather vest, blue jeans, and motorcycle boots -- but the "Mother Mary" tattoo and the thick, salt-n-pepper beard gave Him away. (God, by the way, apparently drinks Keystone Lite, which I don't take necessarily as a good sign. But perhaps He was just trying to avoid hurting my feelings by not drinking an expensive imported beer, since He knows my drinking budget is rather limited. Either that, or Keystone Lite has some cosmic significance that I'm not privy to.)

In any event, God said He'd seen the back gate open, and had just mosied in and made Himself to home while His "Hog" was being repaired. He said He hoped I didn't mind, which I thought was kind of funny, since I'd called for Him and all. And I did wonder about His use of swine metaphor, but decided not to waste time with trivial questions and get right to the point.

"When You told Moses to stone a man to death for working on the Sabbath, was this a good thing to do simply because You ordered it? Or did the act have goodness in itself?"

God leaned back in my lawn chair, pursing His lips reflectively. "Well, man, I think you gotta try to understand everything as a whole, you know? Things were a whole lot different back then, if you catch my drift."

"Are You saying that morality is historically relative, or perhaps time-sensitive?"

"Yeah, uh, right. It's like certain ways a doing things just stop working, and something different takes its place. Like now I ride a hog instead of a chariot, you know?"

On that note, I saw the opportunity to ask the question I'd always wanted to ask the King of Kings. "Then who is responsible for all the evil and suffering in the world? You or humankind?"

God took a long sip of beer, and nodded thoughtfully. "Well, me and boys have caused *some* of the suffering, man, I'll give you that--"

"By 'boys' I take it you mean 'angels'?"

"I meant 'Angels,' of course. They aren't exactly boys, that's for damn sure." He let out a guttural laugh. "But, you know, it's like my ma used to say--"

"You mean, Mother Mary?"

 Uh, right. Hey, how did you know?" Then He traced my gaze to His tattoo, and chuckled. "Oh, yeah. Anyways, my mom always said that you got free will, you know, and each man's free to make his own decisions in life. So if you fuck up, it's you own damn fault, is what I'm sayin'."

 "But if You created man, aren't you in some sense responsible for the qualities that lead him to certain actions, irrespective of free will?"

 Now God gave me a kind of odd, impatient look at that point, as though I'd done something to earn His disfavor. He lowered his beer, and crushed the can noisily in one ham-sized hand.

 "Look, son," He grumbled finally, "I'm not here to give you all the answers. I'm just here waiting for my ride to get fixed. But them's questions you gotta work out on your own, you know, though personally I think it's probably a waste of time to even look at it 'cause you're not going to understand it anyway."

 I lowered my head humbly, and then the loud, concussive rumble of an approaching motorcycle echoed back into the yard.

 "Hey, that's my ride, partner." God stood up stiffly, tossing the beer can in the grass. "Anyhow, nice talkin' to ya. Good luck with all them questions."

 I followed God out to the gate, literally shaking with a sense of impending revelation. I suddenly realized that asking God to solve all our problems and answer all our questions is wrong, and that He, in His divine omniscience, was telling me that I had to solve those mysteries myself, to exercise my free will, and to take responsibility for my own life.

 I thought then that this God is one helluva being, despite being ugly as hell and reeking of cheap beer.

 But as I watched from the gate, and God positioned his corpulent form on the back seat of a motorcycle, presumably driven by one of his special angels, I realized that my eyes had been opened to at least one holy mystery -- and that at least one prevalent rumor about his Divinity was true. God, apparently, *does* ride a Harley. Jeff

 From: "Laura J. Rift" To: "Atlantis" <atlantis Subject: ATL: And the two shall become one...   Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2001 11:58:51 -0700

 Hi folks. An interesting tidbit courtesy of The Los Angeles Times in an article on stem cell research. I have known for a long time that a young embryo could divide and develop into two or more separate organisms, but apparently according to The Times, two embryos can merge to become one embryo before the backbone of the embryos involved begin developing around 14 days after conception.

 Interesting. Now if a young embryo is a separate, distinct individual person, a "soul" to use Debbie's term, what happens when the two "souls" merge to become one? Does one lose its identity to the other, in other words, lose its life? Or do the two "souls" exist within the one body? Perhaps a schizophrenic with more than one "personality" is really more than one person, has a embryonic self within that has as many rights as he does. Perhaps as a result, people with multiple personalities should be given the right to vote more than once, legally ride in the car pool lanes, etc.

 Or perhaps there's a third possibility. Maybe the two souls die and a third soul is created at the moment of merger, just as a "soul" is created when the sperm and egg merge. Maybe The Good Lord ( and I use the term "good" very loosely) is not content to simply murder millions of helpless unmerged embryo "souls" before they've even implanted, but decides He needs to get more bang out of his butchery buck. Create two souls, annihilate them both through merger into one, and then if the mood suits him butcher the third as well, either before implantation or after. Three for the price of one. Oh, the Good Lord does work in mysterious ways. Hallelujah! Laura

 From: RogerEBissell To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Speaking of "Passover"... (was Psychology of Religion) Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2001 21:47:06 EDT

 Dear List Members: We have been discussing whether or not there is some strong, inherent tendency in religion to  occasionally/often devolve into advocacy/support of the kind of bloody conflicts and barbarism seen during the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and invasion of Latin America, the second World War, and the attack on the WTC and Pentagon -- to name a few.

 Debbie Clark has stated that such acts or processes are not actually a result of the essence of religion but, instead, a ~perversion~ of religion, which preaches love and peace. God/Allah/Whoever does not believe in terror and butchery, and those who commit such in His/Her name are twisting religion in the direction of evil.

 Yet, Debbie doesn't address some of the....morally questionable.... acts of the very God that such evildoers are supposedly blaspheming with their violent deeds. Ironically, Debbie reminded me of one of the most pertinent such acts in this comment of hers:

  > I don't have a bible in front of me at the moment and  rarely read it anymore so my memory is rusty -- but I think in the book of Acts, the apostle Paul is admonishing the church members about what their conduct should be when they come together to eat the Passover, i.e. the bread and wine symbolizing the body of Christ (commonly referred to as communion by Catholics and Protestants, but as originally established, it was an annual event at Passover as instituted by Christ, not a weekly event).  He said something to them along the lines of, "What?  Don't you have homes to eat in?" and the reason he said that, to my understanding, is because they were not being reverent during the Passover ceremony and understanding the meaning of it.  The purpose of it was not for the sensual pleasure of eating or to nourish the physical body -- those are things which everyone does in the course of normal physical lives.  But eating the bread and wine at Passover, which Christ instituted as symbols of his body, i.e. taking the place of the lamb that previously was slaughtered and eaten at Passover, was something that was supposed to have spiritual meaning, not done for the purpose of sensual pleasure or nourishment of the body.  Get it?

 Ah, yes, the Passover! Does anyone ~not~ know the original context of this celebration? The Hebrews were in captivity in Egypt, and the Pharaoh refused Moses' demands that they be allowed to leave, so God "visited" various plagues and....misfortunes....upon the Egyptians, in an attempt to get Pharaoh to change his mind. The ultimate "act of God" was the killing by "the angel of the Lord" (or some such flunky) of all firstborn sons of the Egyptian families -- the Hebrew firstborn children being "passed over", because their folks had been warned to smear lamb's blood over their doorway (a signal agreed upon in advance by Moses and God).

 Now, doesn't this suggest to anyone that the Ultimate Terrorist in history was not just religion, but the very Object of Religion? Not only the Jews, but also the Christians ~and~ the Muslims accept this as part of their religious history and heritage. It's OK for Big G to carry out such butchery of THE INNOCENT, but ~not~ OK for Muslim Fundamentalists? At least the freaking MF's are consistent.

 There seems also to be a huge papering over of the massive amount of genocide that the Hebrews carried out in their long process of taking over the "Promised Land" after leaving Egypt. I once did the arithmetic and found that the total number ~said~ to have been slain by the Hebrews in those campaigns totalled about SIX MILLION. Sound familiar? This ain't Nostradamus, folks; it's the good old King James, Torah, and Koran -- and God OK'd it (hell, he ~cheered them on~).

 Of course, I don't believe the above-described fairy tales for a moment. But Judeo-Christians and Muslims ~do~, or ~say~ they do, and Debbie seems to be among the many, many folks who conveniently....forget?.... more than a little of the..."ruling style"....of the Supreme Being they claim to worship.

 Rand really said all that needed to be said about the nature of the diabolical union of faith and force in her "For the New Intellectual" characterizations of the Witch Doctor and Atilla, and her Ford Hall Forum lecture "Faith and Force: Destroyers of the Modern World." And all that needs to be ~done~ about the most recent incarnation of this union is to meet it with overwhelming force, grab it firmly by the throat, and choke it to a much-deserved death -- which I fervently hope GWB et al are able to do. Roast in hell, Osama & Company, roast in hell.

 Be grateful that this post was written by the ~mellow~ Roger Bissell. No ad hominems (that I can detect). Just terminal weariness for apologetics for religion and its supposed essence of love and peace. Best regards to all, Roger Bissell

 JAHANNEM, OUTER DARKNESS-The hijackers who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon expressed confusion and surprise Monday to find themselves in the lowest plane of Na'ar, Islam's Hell.

 "I was promised I would spend eternity in Paradise, being fed honeyed cakes by 67 virgins in a tree-lined garden, if only I would fly the airplane into one of the Twin Towers," said Mohammed Atta, one of the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11, between attempts to vomit up the wasps, hornets, and live coals infesting his stomach. "But instead, I am fed the boiling feces of traitors by malicious, laughing Ifrit. Is this to be my reward for destroying the enemies of my faith?"

 The rest of Atta's words turned to raw-throated shrieks, as a tusked, asp-tongued demon burst his eyeballs and drank the fluid that ran down his face.

 According to Hell sources, the 19 eternally damned terrorists have struggled to understand why they have been subjected to soul-withering, infernal torture ever since their Sept. 11 arrival.

 "There was a tumultuous conflagration of burning steel and fuel at our gates, and from it stepped forth these hijackers, the blessed name of the Lord already turning to molten brass on their accursed lips," said Iblis The Thrice-Damned, the cacodemon charged with conscripting new arrivals into the ranks of the forgotten. "Indeed, I do not know what they were expecting, but they certainly didn't seem prepared to be skewered from eye socket to bunghole and then placed on a spit so that their flesh could be roasted by the searing gale of flatus which issues forth from the haunches of Asmoday."

 "Which is strange when you consider the evil with which they ended their lives and those of so many others," added Iblis, absentmindedly twisting the limbs of hijacker Abdul Aziz Alomari into unspeakably obscene shapes.

 "I was told that these Americans were enemies of the one true religion, and that Heaven would be my reward for my noble sacrifice," said Alomari, moments before his jaw was sheared away by faceless homunculi. "But now I am forced to suckle from the 16 poisoned leathern teats of Gophahmet, Whore of Betrayal, until I burst from an unwholesome engorgement of curdled bile. This must be some sort of terrible mistake."

 Exacerbating the terrorists' tortures, which include being hollowed out and used as prophylactics by thorn-cocked Gulbuth The Rampant, is the fact that they will be forced to endure such suffering in sight of the Paradise they were expecting.

 "It might actually be the most painful thing we can do, to show these murderers the untold pleasures that would have awaited them in Paradise, if only they had lived pious lives," said Praxitas, Duke of Those Willingly Led Astray. "I mean, it's tough enough being forced through a wire screen by the callused palms of Halcorym and then having your entrails wound onto a stick and fed to the toothless, foul-breathed swine of Gehenna. But to endure that while watching the righteous drink from a river of wine? That can't be fun."

 Underworld officials said they have not yet decided on a permanent punishment for the terrorists.

 "Eventually, we'll settle on an eternal and unending task for them," said Lord Androalphus, High Praetor of Excruciations. "But for now, everyone down here wants a crack at them. The legions of fang-wombed hags will take their pleasure on their shattered carcasses for most of this afternoon. Tomorrow, their flesh will be melted from their bones like wax in the burning embrace of the Mother of Cowards. The day after that, they'll be sodomized by the Fallen and their bowels shredded by a demonic ejaculate of burning sand. Then, on Sunday, Satan gets them all day. I can't even imagine what he's got cooked up for them."

 NEW YORK—Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other, Monday.  

Above: God.  "Look, I don't know, maybe I haven't made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again," said the Lord, His divine face betraying visible emotion during a press conference near the site of the fallen Twin Towers. "Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don't. And to be honest, I'm really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand."

 U.S. Vows To Defeat Whoever It Is We're At War With » American Life Turns Into Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie » Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell » Not Knowing What Else To Do, Woman Bakes American-Flag Cake » Point-Counterpoint: America's Response » Talking To Your Child About The WTC Attack » On TV Tonight »

Worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, God said His name has been invoked countless times over the centuries as a reason to kill in what He called "an unending cycle of violence."

 "I don't care how holy somebody claims to be," God said. "If a person tells you it's My will that they kill someone, they're wrong. Got it? I don't care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else's, ever again."

The press conference came as a surprise to humankind, as God rarely intervenes in earthly affairs. As a matter of longstanding policy, He has traditionally left the task of interpreting His message and divine will to clerics, rabbis, priests, imams, and Biblical scholars. Theologians and laymen alike have been given the task of pondering His ineffable mysteries, deciding for themselves what to do as a matter of faith. His decision to manifest on the material plane was motivated by the deep sense of shock, outrage, and sorrow He felt over the Sept. 11 violence carried out in His name, and over its dire potential ramifications around the globe.

"I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you'd get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important," said God, called Yahweh and Allah respectively in the Judaic and Muslim traditions. "I guess I figured I'd left no real room for confusion after putting it in a four-word sentence with one-syllable words, on the tablets I gave to Moses. How much more clear can I get?"

"But somehow, it all gets twisted around and, next thing you know, somebody's spouting off some nonsense about, 'God says I have to kill this guy, God wants me to kill that guy, it's God's will,'" God continued. "It's not God's will, all right? News flash: 'God's will' equals 'Don't murder people.'"

Worse yet, many of the worst violators claim that their actions are justified by passages in the Bible, Torah, and Qur'an.

"To be honest, there's some contradictory stuff in there, okay?" God said. "So I can see how it could be pretty misleading. I admit it—My bad. I did My best to inspire them, but a lot of imperfect human agents have misinterpreted My message over the millennia. Frankly, much of the material that got in there is dogmatic, doctrinal bullshit. I turn My head for a second and, suddenly, all this stuff about homosexuality gets into Leviticus, and everybody thinks it's God's will to kill gays. It absolutely drives Me up the wall."

God praised the overwhelming majority of His Muslim followers as "wonderful, pious people," calling the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks rare exceptions.

"This whole medieval concept of the jihad, or holy war, had all but vanished from the Muslim world in, like, the 10th century, and with good reason," God said. "There's no such thing as a holy war, only unholy ones. The vast majority of Muslims in this world reject the murderous actions of these radical extremists, just like the vast majority of Christians in America are pissed off over those two bigots on The 700 Club."

Continued God, "Read the book: 'Allah is kind, Allah is beautiful, Allah is merciful.' It goes on and on that way, page after page. But, no, some assholes have to come along and revive this stupid holy-war crap just to further their own hateful agenda. So now, everybody thinks Muslims are all murderous barbarians. Thanks, Taliban: 1,000 years of pan-Islamic cultural progress down the drain."

God stressed that His remarks were not directed exclusively at Islamic extremists, but rather at anyone whose ideological zealotry overrides his or her ability to comprehend the core message of all world religions.

"I don't care what faith you are, everybody's been making this same mistake since the dawn of time," God said. "The Muslims massacre the Hindus, the Hindus massacre the Muslims. The Buddhists, everybody massacres the Buddhists. The Jews, don't even get me started on the hardline, right-wing, Meir Kahane-loving Israeli nationalists, man. And the Christians? You people believe in a Messiah who says, 'Turn the other cheek,' but you've been killing everybody you can get your hands on since the Crusades."

Growing increasingly wrathful, God continued: "Can't you people see? What are you, morons? There are a ton of different religious traditions out there, and different cultures worship Me in different ways. But the basic message is always the same: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism... every religious belief system under the sun, they all say you're supposed to love your neighbors, folks! It's not that hard a concept to grasp."

"Why would you think I'd want anything else? Humans don't need religion or God as an excuse to kill each other—you've been doing that without any help from Me since you were freaking apes!" God said. "The whole point of believing in God is to have a higher standard of behavior. How obvious can you get?"

"I'm talking to all of you, here!" continued God, His voice rising to a shout. "Do you hear Me? I don't want you to kill anybody. I'm against it, across the board. How many times do I have to say it? Don't kill each other anymore—ever! I'm fucking serious!"

Upon completing His outburst, God fell silent, standing quietly at the podium for several moments. Then, witnesses reported, God's shoulders began to shake, and He wept.

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis"  Subject: ATL: Re: Christian Pacifism? Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 12:29:06 -0500 Debbie Clark wrote: "I am not resorting to any tactics at all; I'm simply being honest in saying that I don't participate in mainstream Christianity and it does nothing whatsoever for my soul.  And it is not because I am trying to insulate myself anyway because I really am a terrible Christian myself. But I don't justify my shortcomings by saying that it's okay to do these things; I regard them as human failings, not as the example of Christ."

It's good to know that you don't plan on resorting to the tactic of, "But that's not *true* Christianity, which consists only in what I happen to believe." This will assure a fair contest between you and Laura, should she decide to meet your challenge. My apologies if I misunderstood your intentions.

Debbie wrote: "You seem to be trying to criticize me for choosing an individualist path as a Christian and I don't see what your point is in doing so. Christianity is ultimately a personal relationship between a person and Christ and what the collective does has no bearing on it."

This was not my objection at all. My concern -- based not only on your recent posts but also on what you have said in the past -- is that you might wish to exclude from the ranks of Christendom all those who interpret the teaching of Jesus differently than you do. The view you express here is identical to the core doctrine of the Reformation, especially as found in the writings of Martin Luther. But Luther, after defending the "Christian liberty" of every believer to interpret Scripture according to his own inner light, went on to call for the burning of Jewish synagogues and putting Catholics and other heretics (especially Anabaptists) to death. And, of course, he cited scripture to defend all of his recommendations (as did John Calvin).

Btw, you keep referring to the teachings of Jesus. But what about Paul and other New Testament writers? Or, for that matter, what about the Old Testament, which was written long before Jesus emerged from the womb of the Virgin Mary? Do these writings enjoy a canonical status in your belief system? Or do you restrict yourself to the four Gospels, which were based on oral traditions and written after the death of Jesus?

For example, how do you as an anarchist deal with the following passage from Romans 13 (NIV):

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities....The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves?...t is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing."

Do Paul's admonitions carry any less weight than if Jesus had said the same thing?  Do you believe that "the authorities that exist," such as the Roman Empire in Paul's day and the current Taliban regime in Afghanistan -- "have been established by God" and are "God's servants"? And do you follow Paul's precepts in your daily life?

I wrote: "Okay, so give us some examples of what a modern history of authentic Christianity would include? For example, as I asked before, would it include the Reformation? Or would you also "have to first do an exhaustive study" of the Reformation before you can answer this question?"

And Debbie replied: "Can you simply accept that I can't answer that question because I don't know?"

I am not so much interested in a specific answer as I am in what *criteria* you would use to make this judgment. Suppose you were to read everything that Martin Luther ever wrote. What standards would you then bring to bear in determining whether or not Luther was an authentic Christian? Since you must have some idea in your own mind why *you* qualify as a "Christian," it should not be very difficult to apply that standard, if only in a hypothetical way, to other people who also claim to be Christians.

I wrote: "Lastly, if you would care to propose definitions of "Christian" and "Christianity," I for one would like to see them. Traditionally, the definition of "Christian" has been a person who believes that Jesus is the Christ (i.e., messiah or savior)."

And Debbie replied: "Satan himself believes that much."

Exactly, and I poked some fun at this paradox in my last book.

Debbie continued: "It is less messy to simply say that there are different types of Christianity, some which are biblically-based and some which are not."

*All* versions of Christianity claim to be "biblically based" -- so what you appear to be saying is that you disagree with the biblical interpretation of other Christian sects. I have no problem with this, since, in this case at least, you seem to admit that other sects still qualify as authentic types of Christianity, however much they may differ from your personal interpretation of the Bible. That, for me, was the key question, and you have answered it. Thank you.

Btw, you have also answered, if unintentionally, my earlier questions about Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin. Ghs

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Darwin Award Candidate Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 21:10:46 -0600 The following story is surely an example of natural selection at work. Ghs

ARKANSAS CITY (AP) -- A Little Rock woman was killed yesterday after leaping through her moving car's sun roof during an incident best described as "a mistaken rapture" by dozens of eye witnesses. Thirteen other people were injured after a twenty-car pile-up resulted from people trying to avoid hitting the woman who was apparently convinced that the rapture was occurring when she saw twelve people floating up into the air, and then passed a man on the side of the road who she claimed was Jesus.

"She started screaming "He's back, He's back" and climbed right out of the sunroof and jumped off the roof of the car," said Everett Williams, husband of 28-year-old Georgann Williams who was pronounced dead at the scene. "I was slowing down but she wouldn't wait till I stopped," Williams said.

She thought the rapture was happening and was convinced that Jesus was gonna lift her up into the sky," he went on to say. "This is the strangest thing I've seen since I've been on the force," said Paul Madison, first officer on the scene. Madison questioned the man who looked like Jesus and discovered that he was dressed up as Jesus and was on his way to a toga costume party when the tarp covering the bed of his pickup truck came loose and released twelve blow up sex dolls filled with helium which floated up into the air.

Ernie Jenkins, 32, of Fort Smith, who's been told by several of his friends that he looks like Jesus, pulled over and lifted his arms into the air in frustration, and said, "Come back here," just as the Williams' car passed him, and Mrs. Williams was sure that it was Jesus lifting people up into the sky as they passed by him, according to her husband, who says his wife loved Jesus more than anything else.

When asked for comments about the twelve sex dolls, Jenkins replied "This is all just too weird for me. I never expected anything like this to happen."

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