Can you think of anything stupider to fight about?

Cross-posted from LiveJournal

Arguing about the nature of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If you’ve been touched by his noodly appendage, this is not supposed to happen.

An experience interacting with a rather un-Christian biblical apologist some time ago left me somewhat unsettled, and I wasn’t able to think about much else for a couple of days. The thing that unsettled me the most was that despite my best intentions, I felt myself being dragged into the fray.

Additional research on the internet has led me to a plethora of websites of every possible permutation.

  • Atheists vs. Apologists
  • Evangelicals vs. non-orthodox Christians
  • Muslims vs. Jews
  • Muslims vs. Christians
  • Jews vs. Gentiles
  • Secular humanists vs. Believers
  • Mormons vs. Atheists
  • Evangelicals vs. Mormons
  • Bible-believing Christians vs. Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Scientologists vs. Everybody
  • 7th-Day-Adventists vs. …

You get the picture. Choose one from column A, and one from Column B, and you’ll be able to find it out there.

Incredible amounts of time, effort, indignation, anger and outright hatred are being spent in attempts to prove, by logic, or reason, or scripture, or exegesis, or tradition, that which is virtually unprovable – hence the cartoon above, which I created more for my own benefit than anyone else’s. And it all comes down to the most basic of human addictions, the addiction to being right.

Of course, none of this is new. It’s only that the internet era gives us fingertip access to the full spectrum of human maladjustment and brings it into clearer focus. People have been killing each other for their differences, religious and otherwise, since the dawn of time [be careful, that link is a bit grim]- and since the same epoch, there have been those who have risen up against the madness.

I remember back in the late 60’s and early 70’s when Vietnam was in full swing, a popular bumper sticker read, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?”, and that led me to an odd thought. My own faith holds out that before Christ comes again, the earth has to be made ready for his coming. Part of this involves preaching the Gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, which is why almost everywhere you go, you see our young missionaries out spreading the word.

That’s well and good, but what’s the ultimate point of that Gospel? Imagine with me for a moment that the earth was divided into only two nations, Exegetia and Harmonia.

The Republic of Exegetia consisted of three billion people. 99% of those belonged to a single faith – the “correct” one, whatever that happened to look like. Other than that, things were pretty much the same way they are now.

In Harmonia, there were also three billion people, of all different persuasions, religious and secular – and it was not uncommon to find a mosque and a synagogue built next to each other, right across the street from a Hindu temple, an Anglican chapel, and a chapter of the Harmonian Humanist Society.
While not everyone was rich, there were no poor, because everyone believed in a society where everyone wins.
People didn’t covet one another’s goods.
People didn’t lie, or steal, or rob, or murder, or slander or persecute one another.
People lived simply, so that everyone could simply live.
People respected their environment, and did all they could to be good stewards of the only planet they had to live on.
People were kind, and loving, and charitable.
Lawyers and judges were out of work, because nobody wanted to sue anyone else.

If you were God, which nation would you want to walk with? “Wait, wait, God loves everyone, he’s not a respecter of persons!” Well, you’re right but you get my point, which is:

“In the end analysis, God cares less about which Church you belong to, or don’t, than how you’re treating your fellow man.”

This, then, is the Ecumenism that I support. It has nothing to do with the various faiths trying to become like one another. It has nothing to do with everyone joining the “First Church of Blah Unsalted Farina”. It has to do with each one of us, regardless of our walk in life, reaching out to every member of humanity and doing our best to create an entire planet where everyone wins, and helping every other member of our species to make it across the finish line.

Utopia won’t come cheap. Given human nature, there will always be poor folk, there will always be those who don’t obey the rules, there will always be illness, natural disasters and everything else that makes our world a challenge to live in. But what if we were to make it even halfway to that glorious goal? Wouldn’t that be better than maintaining the status quo?

The more time goes on, the more I become committed to bringing people to Christ (which is my particular walk) by raising the human condition, rather than worrying about what they wear, which scriptures they read or which direction they face to pray – or if they even pray at all. I may be the only book of scripture that some people ever read.

Just saying that could get me heaved out of my own faith by certain people.

I’ll take my chances.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

BYTE Magazine: The April Fool Articles

Cross-posted from Livejournal

It was traditional for BYTE magazine to include one bogus article in their “What’s New” section each year in the April edition. Here are two years’ worth that I archived in my “what the Hell” file. They’re interesting not only because of the gag, but to see what was actually considered new in those years. Ah, history… see if you can spot the bogus articles.


1981
1982

It’s interesting to walk down memory lane and see how far technology has come for real in the last 4 decades.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

In praise of the writers

I’m just coming down from a rather intense Blue Bloods high, after having binged Season 4 on Netflix. Not exactly sure what prompted me to start watching this one, but it hooked me right away… perhaps it was Tom Selleck, whom I have long adored as an actor, or perhaps it’s because at heart and always I’m a New York City boy.

Commissioner Frank Reagan, played by Tom Selleck

Mr. Selleck, as usual, plays an excruciatingly ethical character. He seems to ooze goodness, even when his rôles portray very human (with all the warts) individuals. And the lines he delivers leave one breathlessly hoping that there really are people like Commissioner Frank Reagan out there.

But those lines… well, they aren’t really his. He takes them from the script, and makes them his own, and follows the director’s guidance, and delivers them with incredible grace and stolidity and aplomb, much like Patrick Stewart does as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but they were written by someone else. Or several someones. And it is not lost on me that an incredible speech or soliloquy delivered by Mr. Selleck or Sir Patrick are lines from the minds of people who only get a single line of text as credit for each episode. People in the background, whose faces we never see, but people who deserve just as much praise as those in front of the camera.

Picard’s line, “The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity” probably came from Brannon Braga, Rick Berman, or Ronald Moore. The incredible soliloquy by Soren in the TNG episode, “The Outcast,” was likely written by Jeri Taylor, who also wrote “The Drumhead.” Melinda M. Snodgrass examined in excruciating detail the issues of what defines a human being as a free agent or property. And unless there’s some unrevealed ad-libbing in Blue Bloods, every amazing thing that Frank Reagan says (along with all the other recurring characters) came from the pen of a writer.

Now, forgive me for waxing a bit scriptural here, but in the New Testament book of Matthew we read,

“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”

(Matthew 7:17)

Good fountains don’t bring forth bitter water. Bad human beings don’t write the amazing kinds of things one hears in TV dramas like this. Someone who is not dedicated to the cause of humanity clawing itself out of the mud and reaching for the stars can’t write like this.

In the end, the outstanding quality of a show like Blue Bloods, or the Next Generation, or Fringe depends on everything coming together – producers, directors, writers, actors, cameramen, editors, sound technicians, stunt people, special effects people… the whole ball of wax. It’s seldom that you get everything clicking just right. But it’s usually the thoughts behind the show that provide the biggest takeaway, and for those feelings that we are left with we have the writers to thank.

Hats off!

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Speech *I* Wish a President would give.

On the 8th of October, 2003, some time subsequent to the Desert Storm operation a veteran named Dennis Chapman posted this. It circulated widely on the Internet after that, in various forms as is not uncommon, people feeling the need to edit or improve things according to their own whims. It is the earliest known occurrence I can find, and I have no reason to suppose that Mr. Chapman was not the original author.

The Speech We Wish a President Would Give
My Fellow Americans: As you all know, the defeat of the Iraq regime has been completed.
Since congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete.
This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq. This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning.
Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries which have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short. The United Kingdom , Spain , Bulgaria , Australia , and Poland are some of the countries listed there.
The other list contains everyone not on the first list. Most of the world’s nations are on that list. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening.
Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war.
The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world Hellholes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption.
Need help with a famine ? Wrestling with an epidemic? Call France.
In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home . On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the earth.
Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize? Try France, or maybe China .
I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France, Germany, and Russia . Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. Bon chance, mes amis.
I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid parking tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed. I don’t care about whatever treaty pertains to this. You creeps have tens of thousands of unpaid tickets. Pay those tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world. I love New York.
A special note to our neighbors. Canada is on List 2. Since we are likely to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change.
Mexico is also on List 2 President Fox and his entire corrupt government really need an attitude adjustment. I will have a couple extra tank and infantry divisions sitting around. Guess where I am going to put ’em? Yep, border security.
Oh, by the way, the United States is abrogating the NAFTA treaty – starting now.
We are tired of the one-way highway. Immediately, we’ll be drilling for oil in Alaska – which will take care of this country’s oil needs for decades to come. If you’re an environmentalist who opposes this decision, I refer you to List 2 above: pick a country and move there. They care.
It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens. Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, “darn tootin.”
Nearly a century of trying to help folks live a decent life around the world has only earned us the undying enmity of just about everyone on the planet. It is time to eliminate hunger in America It is time to eliminate homelessness in America . To the nations on List 1, a final thought. Thank you guys. We owe you and we won’t forget.
To the nations on List 2, a final thought: You might want to learn to speak Arabic.
God bless America . Thank you and good night.
If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier.


Dennis Chapman

15 years ago I was still smarting from the insult of the 9/11 attacks, and on more days than not my gut instinct was to agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Chapman’s sentiments. I think had 45 been running for president in 2004 using this fictitious letter as a campaign platform, I might have (to my discomfort now) pulled the lever for a straight GOP ticket with great enthusiasm. So it’s not like I don’t have a sense of what 45’s base is feeling, and why they support him so doggedly.

Fortunately for my conscience, in 2007 I began a journey into a different space, thanks to some amazing seminars produced by Klemmer and Associates. People finish these leadership training experiences with many different takeaways, depending on their own particular biases and preconceptions, and which ones they are willing to look at. For me, the bottom line was that mankind consists of “one village,” and without each other we cannot maximize our potential as human beings. I landed on the concept of R. Buckminster Fuller’s “World Game” (hence the title of this blog), which goes like this:

“Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

R. Buckminster Fuller

There were other important lessons as well, but this one ended up informing what’s left of my life, and made me realize that the “Yeah Baby ‘Murica First” philosophy was incompatible with my heart and soul.

As a result of thinking long and hard about what kind of America I believe in, and how I would like to see it led, I have crafted the speech that I wish an American president would give.

My Fellow Americans,

It is a privilege to address you this evening. To begin with, it will not be surprising to any of you if I say we are still living through one of the most challenging political, economic, and social periods that our nation has faced. But before anything else is said, it needs to be acknowledged that we are Americans, that we have survived difficult times before, and that as a nation and as a people we will survive this time in our history and emerge the stronger for having done so.

As eloquently pointed out by President Lincoln, the founders of our nation envisioned a republic where all people would be free and equal. While their vision did not fully encompass people of color or women, subsequent modifications to our Constitution, along with various decisions by the Supreme Court, rectified most of those time-relative cultural oversights. With the exception of certain fanatical or misguided groups, and despite the fact that there is still work to be done, the vast majority of Americans support the concept of a nation where every person is equal in the eyes of the law and has an equal chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sadly, today’s reality does not live up to those founding principles, and it is my intention to devote the next four years rectifying that and other underlying problems which are holding our nation back from achieving its full potential.

The first group of people I would like to address is my colleagues in the press. You have been warmly invited to cover this address with open arms, and it is my intention that this state of affairs will continue. The relationship of the office of the President with the Fourth Estate has never been an easy one, and while I cannot promise that this administration will be the media’s darling, I can promise one thing: you will never be lied to by me or my spokespeople. In the interest of national security, there may be questions we cannot answer, and if that is the case, we will say so directly. But I and those in my administration are determined to make you our allies in building an America that works for everyone, with no one left out. Journalism is driven by money, money comes from advertising, and sensationalism sells ads. I don’t expect to change the rubric of your profession in a brief four years (or eight, if that happens to be the will of the American people) – but I ask you for an agreement of honor. I expect you to shine the harsh light of reason into every dark corner of this government, and to act as Amerca’s watchdogs. If there is malfeasance, or corruption, or injustice, I expect you to uncover it – and this administration will be your partners in doing that. In exchange, I ask that you make your coverage fair and balanced, and as devoid of sensationalism, partisanship, and outright falsehood as possible; your training as journalists has prepared you to do this, and I expect nothing less. If I, as president, have something to say to the nation, you will be notified by a televised address or by the time-tested channel of a press conference – and not by some social media platform.

To our military, and our police forces, and our first responders, I have only this to say: I honor you for your service, for your sacrifices, and for your daily willingness to put yourselves in harm’s way for the safety and security of our nation and our allies – and I want nothing more than to build a nation where your services will be seldom, if ever, needed. You belong with your families, and it’s my job to make sure you can spend as much time with them as humanly possible.

To the nations of the world, I offer the hand of friendship. There have been some serious bumps along the way, but the past is written and unchangeable. What we have is now, and tomorrow. If you will work with me in building a world of safety and prosperity for the almost 8 billion sojourners on our spaceship Earth, you will find me a willing and eager partner. If you oppose the general welfare of humanity, you are likely to find me a formidable and immovable opponent.

Of my colleagues in Congress, I ask this: send me legislation to sign that builds our nation, that makes it stronger, that is designed to benefit everyone – not just the privileged few – and that extends beyond our borders in areas of diplomacy, of science, of health, and of the environment. I will work with you to this end, but I will not support unfairness, or cruelty, or selfishness, or dishonesty. If you truly work for the benefit of humanity, we will be able to make sensible progress together.

To the people of America, I say this: I was elected by a democratic process, and I will never forget that I represent the hopes and dreams of everyone in this nation – the ones who voted for me and the ones who didn’t. In past years and after past elections, I have heard a similar refrain from both parties, to the extent that “We won, and you people (the opposition) are now irrelevant.” That is not an America that I support. Whether you believe in me or my party’s platform is irrelevant – but you are not. However you would like to see it happen, I know that what you mostly desire in life is health, safety, security, and opportunity for yourself and your children. It may be that we have different approaches, but I want those things for you – for all of you – and will work to see that you get more of them than you have now.

If you have a spiritual walk, then join with me in saying God Bless America. If you turn to the wisdom of humanity for your strength, then may your efforts to build a humane and peaceful country bear as much fruit as you can make happen with your efforts.

My fellow citizens, I thank you. May you prosper in all that you do.

As a point of practicality, I have disabled comments for this post. Like it if you wish, I always appreciate knowing if people resonate with my thoughts. Or don’t, if you disagree. But this is not reddit or YouTube, and not a place for debate – if you have other thoughts, the best place for those will be your own blog.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Memories of Lagoon

Cross-posted to WordPress, 2-16-2019, updated

In the summer of 1969, when I came out to Utah from New York, my first job was working at Lagoon, Utah’s No. 1 amusement park. As a child, I had visited Lagoon many times beginning in the 50s when I would come to Utah to visit my mother’s family there.

Lagoon’s Official Website
Lagoon at Wikipedia
The Lagoon History Project

Still going strong, the park is small but homey, and although it gets more expensive every year, they do make improvements all the time, and it’s got some really fun rides. I had a season pass in 2011 before I moved back East so I could go with the my granddaughters as often as opportunity allowed.


A post on another forum about Coney Island got me going down memory lane, especially when I saw this picture of Coney Island’s “Human Roulette Wheel” from 1908.

Library of Congress

I can’t count the number of times I got flung off of Lagoon’s Roulette Wheel, suffering skin burns along the way… and I don’t think anyone ever sued lagoon for so much as a broken arm – people knew what risks were in those days, and lawyers were fewer.

Lagoon’s Roulette Wheel by the Giant Slides

The Fun House and the Haunted Shack were, without question, my favorite locations. Both as a child, from the late 50’s onward, and then as an employee one summer in 1969.

Fun house main entryway, top of the giant slides visible.

In the Fun House, the first challenge was getting in. The entrance was a mystery room, with several doors. One held a witch – not especially frightening, unless you’re 7 – and I don’t recall what was in the others, but the one you wanted, of course, was the broom closet – and you had to push the false back wall to get out.

Once inside, you would walk into the challenge area, which included the rotating barrels; I was so thrilled when I was finally big enough to pin myself in the barrel like Leonardo’s “Vitruvian Man” and be carried all the way around. Other courses included boards that swung up and down like a wooden wave pattern… a meshed bridge… a set of boards that shimmied back and forth like a huge pair of skis, among others… and everywhere throughout the fun house were the air jets, operated by a human who sat in an observation booth above the front entrance, watching for cute girls in skirts to step over the airholes. Psshhhttt EEK!! A maze after these items would drop you off in the back of the fun house close to the giant slides.

The rotating drums

There, you’d pick up your canvas slide, with a pocket in front for your feet, and climb the stairs to the launch platforms – there was one midway up, and one all the way at the top. You were admonished to sit with your legs straight, and off you’d go. There was never any limit to how long you could stay.

The Giant Slides
Loading area at the top of the slides

At the bottom of the slide, you’d find the Roulette Wheel – a big pink disk with a yellow center, which is where you wanted to be if you didn’t want to get flung off. I think there were more injuries from people rushing to get that center spot than ever happened while being ejected. People would sit on the wheel with their backs to the center, brace themselves with their feet, and wait for the ride to start. Invariably everyone was hurled off except one or two in the middle. The outside of the platter area was surrounded with a large, padded rim. (This was Lagoon’s version of the “Roulette Wheel” shown above).

Then there was the “whirlpool”. This was a large wooden drum – different from the washtub with the drop-out floor – that would effectively allow you to stand at about a 45-degree angle if you could fight the centripetal force. This ride was one of the first ones to go that I recall.

Lagoon’s “Whirlpool”

Interestingly enough, there were probably countless chipped teeth, friction burns, broken arms, split lips, and a dozen other injuries on a regular basis… and for decades nobody sued, and the fun just kept on happening. We can thank the zeal of the legal eagles, hungry for billable hours, for litigating us out of such wholesome entertaintment today.

[Edit: An article in the Deseret News of May 4, 1957, describes the attractions in the Fun House thus:

   “Opening of a new fun house, the first to be build in the United States in 28 years, will be one of the main attractions at the pre-season opening of Lagoon this weekend.     Built at a cost of more than $100,000 to meet the requests of thousands for a fun house to replace the one that burned in the 1953 fire at the resort, it was designed by Ranch S. Kimball, president and general manager of Lagoon.     Fifty-foot-high slides are among features of the modern building. There are slides of lesser heights for the more cautious.     Another device of special interest is the Whirlpool, a new circular device which revolves at a terrific speed.     Other of the 40 features within the fun house include: a skating floor, shuffleboard, crash bumper, lily pads in a tank of water, Sahara Desert, a rolling log, twisters, teeter boards, electric air valves, a moving floor, a whistle trap, roller inclines, a dog-house crawl-through, a jail, revolving barrels, the roulette wheel, tilted room, ocean waves, the camel back, and a new cage maze, which is a maze to amaze anyone.     An eight-piece animated monkey band perched above the entrance will greet customers. A balcony, featuring special seating for spectators, has been built to permit a general view of the entire fun house.]

I was tickled that my memory of the Whirlpool was not faulty, and this article reminded me of a number of features that I had forgotten about – the rolling log, the roller incline, the twister floor, the lily pads, and several others.

The “Haunted Shack” has been described in other places, but I loved it. A walk-through “dark ride”, it sat above a cotton candy shop, and the year I worked there, a buddy of mine who was responsible for that attraction took me up into the attic where you could watch the people go through the mazes. The haunted shack included a mirror maze, which, when it was kept clean, was pretty challenging to get out of.

The Haunted Shack was featured at the Lagoon History Project. It was one of my favorite attractions, and I was sad when it was finally removed to make room for the Carousel and other attractions.

The year I worked at lagoon, what was formerly the Penny Arcade had been converted into a skating rink. That’s where I spent most of my break time and free time if I ever came back on a day off. It didn’t last long, but it was a great place. I do recall seeing the first Pong game there. At that time, the rides were ticket-based… I recall you could get into the Lagoon Opera House for only two tickets, and watch silent movies in an air-conditioned environment. They were always making announcements over the PA system in this deep, growly voice that told people about the attractions they were trying to promote. That was also a popular place to take breaks on hot days.

At that time, the employee kitchen was this dingy little place on the back of the East side of the midway, but hey, that’s where we could get lunch, and it seemed fine.

I worked the games. I was most often stationed in the Shooting Gallery (machine guns with bb’s, and you had to shoot a red star completely out of a sheet of paper to win a prize). It was much, much harder than it looked – even the tiniest scrap of red would disqualify you from winning a prize – but again, not impossible. Located just south of the Fun House, that’s where I was stationed when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon – people were taking rotating shifts that day to watch the landing and EVA’s, and there were TV’s set up all over the park. I recall running to the Fascination room to watch the event during a break.

A Fascination Parlor

Parenthetically, Fascination was where I always spent the most time (and money) when I went to the park as a kid – when I wasn’t on the rides, that is.

Basically a bingo game with rubber balls, the attraction for me was the fact that when you won, you’d get these coupons that were worth multiple tickets at the prize redemption center. And if the traveling red light lit up on your machine when you won, the prizes were doubled, I think. I recall winning quite often, and it was exciting to play. Oh, the thrill of winning with five reds…

Tip-em-over, where the point was to get 5 lead milk bottles completely tipped over, and yes, some of them were much heavier than others – we’d put a weighted one or two on the bottom if we were facing some Lou Ferrigno type, or put a heavy one on top if it was a cute girl that we wanted to win. You could say that that particular game was gaffed, but never in such a way that it made it impossible to win. We were instructed to keep our “payout” hovering at about 30% of what we took in, which are a lot better odds than you bet in Vegas or at your average traveling carny. Flukey ball – where you had to bounce a whiffle ball off a character’s nose and into a bucket – was straightforward and just difficult to do, but not impossible – there were no gimmicks there – and the water pistol shooting gallery was a great attraction on hot days.

I recall we’d send annoying kids down to the other end of the park for a “sky hook” or a “counter stretcher”. Everyone knew the gag, so the poor wights would be sent from one end of the park to the other until they got tired.

The redemption center was fun for kids. You pretty much had to have a zillion tickets to get anything worthwhile, but there was always something that you could get with just a few. And there were some very tempting things there, tempting enough to keep the kids playing Skee-Ball or Fascination until their (or their parents’) money ran out.

The Terroride has always been a central attraction at Lagoon, it was located right next to the original Fun House (I have written about that ride elsewhere.)

Terroride exterior
The Terroride original mural

Lagoon was a marvelous place to visit, and a good place to work, for a teenager. After that summer I moved on to bigger and better things, but I won’t forget my experiences there. Robert E. Freed and my mom went to school together, and I knew his family well – it was a tragic loss when he passed away far too early.

Ranch Kimball and Robert Freed inspect the “new” popcorn cart at Lagoon.
This newspaper ad would have been after 1969 when the Lagoon Opera House opened. More vintage Lagoon ads can be seen here.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Benevolent Dictatorships

Cross-posted from Livejournal.

Caveat: Secular Humanists may want to skip this post.

A strip from Schlock Mercenary brought me up short. One doesn’t usually hear people extol the virtues of dictatorship in public, at least not if they’re worried about their political future.

While the country could use people in office with the acumen and common sense that Howard Tayler displays, tragically he seems occupied with being a cartoonist and is thus subject to the scorn of nations on a regular basis. One more batch of scathing, vitriolic emails from disgruntled readers shouldn’t make much difference.

Fortunately, to balance the equation, there are those whose understanding surpasses that of the unwashed masses:

B. Kliban, as seen by B. Kliban

But back to my thesis: It would be good to live under a just, enlightened and moral ruler who afforded his subjects their agency. This sounds only like a contradiction in terms because there have been so few examples of this kind of leadership in human history.

Monday’s strip immediately put me in mind of the words of an ancient American prophet-king named Mosiah:

“Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.” (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 29:13)

In the secular environment, this model fails on all levels, because the concepts of justice and morality are relative, and impossible to pin down with any certainty. In the regular (i.e. the opposite of secular) environment, the most obvious parallel is the millennial rule of Christ as Theocrat/King. Outside of that, a just and moral dictator would have to be following an absolute standard of justice and morality, based on absolute fairness – which could only happen if the ruler were in regular contact with Divinity, hence, a prophet as well as a king. No ordinary mortal could pull it off.

From “Fiddler on the Roof”:

What’s wrong with being rich? It’s no reason to marry.
Money’s the world’s curse. May the Lord smite me with it, and may I never recover!

I’m with that. May God smite the nations of the world with such rulers.

When disingenuous websites become funny… and a bit of Italian history.


Disclaimer: I do my best to keep this blog family-friendly, but this post delves into a couple of things that might be not suitable for young kids.

There are websites out there that will do anything for clicks. When you find one of these out there, the content is generally worth less than the electrons used to display them.

(Unless, of course, your electricity provider is Central Maine Power, and then you might be talking about some real money, but that’s a different conversation.)

Every now and then, though, that drive for clicks and eyeballs on ads results in a bit of humor. And in this case the journey was interesting as well. So bear with me.

At the Carnevale di Viareggio in Tuscany, one of the 1st-Class floats featured 45 as the God Emperor from Warhammer 40K. My first clue to this gem showed up at reddit:

If you want the entire video this screen cap came from, you can view it here.

And I wanted to post this elsewhere, with a simple heading, because I was so delighted with this exquisite rendering of The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Currently Disgracing the Oval Office:

Having lived in Naples for a good amount of time, one sees things like this frequently – the “W” is short for “viva,” or “long live” or “hooray for” or some similar sentiment. There is a corresponding symbol for “Down with,” which looks like this:

Down with Galateo

But as I was working to find suitable examples, I began to wonder about the origin of these two symbols, and it turns out they arose during the time of Giuseppe Verdi. And if you’ve ever lived in Italy, you know that everything is political. From Wikipedia:

The growth of the “identification of Verdi’s music with Italian nationalist politics” perhaps began in the 1840s… It was not until 1859 in Naples, and only then spreading throughout Italy, that the slogan “Viva Verdi” was used as an acronym for Viva Vittorio Emanuele RDItalia (Viva Victor Emmanuel King of Italy)… After Italy was unified in 1861, many of Verdi’s early operas were increasingly re-interpreted as Risorgimento works with hidden Revolutionary messages that perhaps had not been originally intended by either the composer or his librettists.

So that “double V” for “Viva Verdi” came to symbolize “Viva” or “Up with,” and by analogy, an inverted VV, or M, became “Down with.”

Now that we know that, I can take you on the detour. It took me a while to get to that explanation, but while I was looking, I stumbled across this image:

W la Figa

I had never encountered this, but I had a sneaking suspicion I knew more or less what it meant. And I was right. You can see WLF all over photos and uniforms and stickers and hats relating to race car driver Valentino Rossi, and it stands for “Long Live Pussy.” Hey, I didn’t write it. La Figa, by the way, derives from a very ancient sign, “The fig,” which was common in Rome and other places:

Manu Fica –
It doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to see this as representing female body parts.

So while I was researching that, I got a hit on Google from a page called “Names.org” that purports to provide origins for names. And while it may do that to a certain extent for legitimate names, such as my own, it does it mostly by randomly scraping content from the Internet, resulting in an unreliable hodgepodge of unedited information. For your gratuitous enjoyment, the meaning of the name “Wlafiga:”

I highly doubt they’ll publish the origins and meaning that I suggested.

Now, just to make absolutely certain that in some language somewhere “Wlafiga” was not a real name, I asked Names.org for the origin of “Bjørkmœð,” a nonsense string of phonemes that I created out of whole cloth. Here’s what I got:

Robotically-generated nonsense.

So if you want a laugh, go over to Names.org and search out your own, or make something up and see what you get. But the takeaway here is, never rely on a single website to provide you with accurate information – dig deep, and then dig deeper.

W the Internet!

The Old Wolf has spoken.