The New Jersey district court finds it necessary to specifically inform potential jurors that they are not permitted to show up for jury duty in nylon track suits. Ah, Jersey…
I’m not a big fan of people who try to argue you into believing in God. Despite a long history of really tortured attempts at a so-called ontological argument for God, which usually involve some sort of lame circular logic along the lines of “something perfect wouldn’t fail to exist, so God must exist,” logic cannot be used to prove God exists, let alone understand its full nature if it does. Hume’s argued that there’s no such thing as an a priori proof of the existence of anything.
Having said this, logic, restricted to proper domains, can still be used to make conclusions about what God cannot be. And that’s still fun, right? An example: God is not the San Diego Chicken. Proof: the San Diego Chicken was created by Ted Giannoulas, who was created by God. Something cannot create itself, thus God is not the San Diego Chicken. Quod est demonstratum. Along the same lines, here are a few more things I believe one can prove.
God is not:
- A Yankees fan.
- The kind of dude who would “choose” a group of people.
- At all disappointed that the Lakers lost.
- A man.
- A woman.
- Alanis Morrisette.
- Going to pay a lot for this muffler.
- Saying a word.
- Spelled with a ‘Z’.
- Wearing any pants.
- Responsible for your touchdown.
- Particularly concerned with helping you avoid suffering.
Proofs are left as an exercise to the reader. A hint: first prove the lemma that God is not human, proceeding similarly to the proof for the non-divinity of the San Diego Chicken. All else follows fairly trivially from that, except maybe 13, which requires group theory.
In the interest of giving fair time to all opinions, I’ve decided to step aside and table my regularly scheduled rabid wall-punching diatribe. Instead, today’s post has been guest written by a member of the Green Party in Cambridge, on the topic of how to give a proper media statement.
How to make a left-wing progressive media statement
by Sheila Baldwin-Cooper-Oscar-Meyer
Are you planning to attend a protest against a G7 convention? Going to picket outside of an oil company? Just planning to throw a brick through some deserving corporate window? If there’s any chance that you might be interviewed by a reporter, especially on camera, you should brush up on the following official advice for progressive media statements.
- Make sure your voice goes up—preferably a dissonant interval like a half-tone or a diminished fifth (“The Maria”)—at the end of every sentence. Otherwise, you’ll sound offensively declarative and patriarchal. Kind of like a Republican.
- Shrill monotone nasal intonation! I can’t emphasize this enough. A low, calm voice does NOT get the message across. You want to aim for something between a child’s whine and a cat being ingested in a jet engine. You know who have creepy-low, calm voices? Republicans.
- Use the word “shocked” or “outraged” at least five times. Per sentence. If you’re not shocked, you’re probably a Republican.
- Use the phrase “the current administration” in a smugly mocking toneÂ in every other sentence. Republicans!!!
Despite this advice, you may find yourself flustered in the heat of the moment. The best of us do (especially with all the great weed that one tends to find at a protest). If all else fails, chant something that rhymes. It will be hard, so fortunately the research and development wing of the progressive movement has discovered that “ho” and “go” rhyme, even if–and this is crucial–you put other words in between them. An example: “Hey hey, ho ho, lateral extraction drilling has got to go.” Does it mean anything? No. But did you actually learn anything about economics or environmental science while you were majoring in gender studies at Brown? Exactly. Stick to the playbook; it’s time tested by a generation who managed to dismantle an entire culture while higher than a roadie at an Allman Brothers concert.
And just remember: when all else fails, call somebody a “fascist”.
One of the nicest things about being a student in Boston is the $25 “BSO Student Card,” which lets you attend certain Thursday night performances of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for free. Of course, Thursday night is not the big night for the Boston intelligentsia to attend the symphony, and tickets for the cheap seats are actually cheap, even if you’re not a student. Thus, it’s fair to conjecture that you get a different crowd at the Thursday night performances, to put it politely, and it’s clear that many of us “far in the back” are not taking the experience as seriously as those paying $150 for the privilege. I fear that the musicians probably think of Thursday night as riff-raff night, and regard it as a rehearsal for the weekend’s benefactor show. If they don’t, they probably will from now on.
This week the orchestra played Edward Elgar’s “The Dream of Gerontius,” which is a huge piece for full chorus and orchestra with pipe organ. It is a setting of a poem of the same name, which deals with the death of a man and his transport beside his guardian angel to His final Judgement and on to Purgatory. (Too much capitalization there? Well, better safe than sorry, I say. The grammarian version of Pascal’s wager.)
The beginning of “The Dream…” is a somber orchestral prelude, setting the mood using perhaps the quietest tone in which I’ve ever heard an orchestra play. (For the first time I’ve seen, the concert notes are printed with the admonition “Please turn the page quietly.”) The hall is hushed, and this beautiful string adagio begins to wax quietly, creating a hallowed, church-like atmosphere. But it does not last long, this being Bingo night at Symphony Hall. An older gentleman in the balcony starts to go into a comical, high-pitched coughing fit that sounds like an asthmatic cat being repeatedly gut punched. They are probably looking frantically for this guy in whatever ICU he wandered out of. Going out in public was probably a poor call, but he clearly has a health problem and can surely be forgiven, if not lauded for his thematic complement to the subject matter. Jesu, Maria–I am near to death, And Thou art calling me; I know it now, sings the tenor. But there are others for whom Judgement will not be so kind…
I’m no peacenik, and my best guess at the truth is that war is sometimes a neccesary evil forced upon a nation by outside circumstance. If North Korea, for example, ever got ICBMs, I’d probably support the idea that maybe we should do something about it besides worry. Having said that, I’m a bit skeptical of the current set of ads running for the Army.
The target of the current ads are the clearly the parents of young men, a tell that the Army is running into problems recruiting young turks to fight over the objections of their parents. The central idea of the ads is that the Army will give them discipline, a sense of honor, and an inner strength, all things a parent wants to see in their children–the tagline is “You made them strong, we’ll make them Army Strong.” And I have no doubt that Army training makes one a better person. The problem is, sometimes Army Strong is led into battle by Yale Stupid, and then you get Army Dead, all for a reason nobody really understands.
How the hell is it that we can’t advertise erectile dysfunction pills on the TV without fifteen seconds of disclaimers about the possibility of sore eyelids, but the Army can advertise for a job that involves getting shot at, and they’re not required to put a single line of 8 point Helvetica at the bottom of the screen pointing out that your results may vary? I’d like to see the announcer have to rattle off something at the end like “Army Strong is not to be taken while pregnent or nursing. It may affect your ability to operate a motor vehicle, or anything else for that matter. Army Strong may get you killed in the event a demagogue fools congress into a poorly conceived war. Please consult a physician before joining, or if an election lasts longer than four weeks.”
I have a lot of gratitude to the men who volunteer to fight for us, people who are made of tougher stuff than I, so I mean no disrespect to them by saying this. In fact, I say this because I don’t think we show them much respect by using glib Madison Avenue tactics to entice them to serve, or by calling upon their service so cheaply.
Last night I left a long computation running on my Microsft Windows Vista machine at work. When I came in the next day, I found my computer restarted. It was just happily sitting there, blank faced, waiting innocently for me to do something as if nothing had happened. A little too innocently, if you ask me.
“Where would you like to go today?” the little imp asked me, clearly trying to sound a little more helpful than usual.
“I’d like to continue going where the bloody hell I was going last night!” I said. “Why did you think I left you running that incredibly long computation? Remember my thesis that we were both working on? Remember that? What happened to that, Vista? Look at me when I’m talking to you!”
“Ohh, thaaaaat… Well, it was Tuesday, when Microsoft fixes a few of my bu… features, so I installed them and took the liberty of restarting your machine. It’s all for your safety. Remember when you agreed to the default recommended setting of automatically installing updates? Hey look at this pretty translucent window effect! Did you notice that? I totally didn’t notice that until now. That’s just…” it’s voice trailed off and it smiled meekly, avoiding eye contact.
“Yes, I remember very well turning on automatic updates, Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise Edition,” I sternly replied. (I tend to use its full name when I’m angry.) “But I don’t remember agreeing to have my computer restart itself without my permission at four in the morning, especially in the middle of a computation!”
“Safety is Vista’s number one priority. We can’t have your computer getting viruses, now can we?”
“Of course not,” I coldly responded, “a virus might cause me to lose work.”
Silence from the machine.
Kids, I know we’ve made losing 5 hours worth of thesis simulations sound like fun, but in real life losing valuable work is no laughing matter. Microsoft products are out there, and their shoddy engineering and poorly concieved design causes millions of hours of lost productivity every year. If you feel you’ve been the victim of poor operating system engineering, help is available. Just call 1-800-MY-APPLE and tell the nice lady where Vista touched you. In the meanwhile, here’s how to turn off automatic restarts.