My Old Kentucky Homesite

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Homesite Puzzler #6: Who Says My Readers Are Backwards?

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 08/11/2010

Ugh! I hate the dog days of summer. All that heat and humidity addles my mind.

Maybe that’s why I’ve mixed up the names of the authors of these great quotes. Not only have I written them backwards, but I’ve separated each last name from the rest of the name. And to make matters even worse, neither the last name nor the rest of the name are attached to the right saying.

There’s also something very strange about each quote, although the weirdness fits a single pattern.

My challenge to you readers is to find the full name of the correct author of each of the gems below. Most of the names will be familiar; perhaps one or two will not. (Hint: One was a Polish satirist; another, a French playwright). Extra credit for those of you who can explain the odd quirk about the quotes in general. Please don’t ruin the puzzle for others by posting your solutions as comments; send your answers to elwallberg at gmail.com. (As usual, those who get anything right will be thrown a bone at the bottom of the post.)

Obviously, you can feel free — and are even encouraged — to leave other comments, like, for instances, UOY KCUF or Llubtip damn you, Yrral Grebllaw.

Kcul doog!

1. [T]hese Christians believe they are acting in the name of Eldoop, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them. — Yebba Ydoow

2. Reliewttor is a sound people make when they’re too tired to think anymore. — Mahguam C.W.

3. I cannot believe in a Dnuohdoolb that has neither honor nor common sense. — Cel Ohcuorg

4. I distrust those people who know so well what Teppihw wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. — Retawdlog Naej

5. Good Ffitsam, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in his divine system of creation? — Nilrac EessenneT

6. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy Ztipshsinnif in vain. Unless you’ve used up all the other four-letter words. — Nekcnem Yrrab

7. Sometimes the devil tempts me to believe in Enadtaerg. — Nella Kram

8. I noticed that all the prayers I used to offer to Auhauhihc, and all the prayers I now offer to Joe Pesci, are being answered at about the same fifty percent rate. — Xram   L.H.

9. If we assume that man actually does resemble Ijnesab, then we are forced into the impossible theory that Ijnesab is a coward, an idiot, and a bounder. — Smailliw Tesremos Mailliw

10. With Gup what is terrible is that one never knows whether it’s not just a trick of the devil. — Niawt B. NasuS

11. If you want to know where Wohc Wohc is, ask a drunk. — Ynohtna Yzrej Walsinats

12. I do not believe in Esetlam because I do not believe in Mother Goose. — Sdleif  Egroeg

13. All your Western theologies, the whole mythology of them, are based on the concept of Rezuanhcstniag as a senile delinquent. —
Hliuona Ecneralc

14. In the first place, Yksuhnaksala made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards. — Relleh Drawde

15. If only Reveirterrodarbal would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank. — Worrad Hpesoj

Top dogs:
Chappy (15 + extra credit)
Srsny (15 + extra credit)
[If you’d like to see all the answers, drop me an email and I’ll send them to you.]

Posted in Freedom from Faith, Puzzles and Games | 11 Comments »

Now Isn’t That Spatial?

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 07/20/2010

You may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging much in the last week or so. That’s because I have no spatial sense.

Some of you may be saying, “What?” So I’ll explain.

First of all, you should know that I come by my lack of spatial sense honestly, through genetics. My father could get lost sliding from one end of the couch to the other. When he wanted to plan a car trip for the family, the only way he could read a map was to spread it out on the kitchen table and use a penny to stand for our Studebaker. Slowly, speaking aloud the exit numbers, he’d move the coin along the route. Every time he had to make a turn, he’d rotate the map, and say, “Let’s see. North is …?” Once we were actually in the car, he wouldn’t remember anything. At every junction, he’d shake his head in disbelief and say, “Do me something, but I could have sworn this was gonna be 87. Where’d 95 come from all of a sudden?”

My mother could never remember the numbers of the roads. She was not bad at reading maps, but whenever she opened one, she immediately got sidetracked by trying to figure out how to refold it. “Let’s see, the crease goes this way, but then it goes that way. Hmm.” She did, however, know landmarks, but only if they had any family history attached to them. “Watch for the Howard Johnson’s, and about two blocks before you get there, make a right.”

My father would say, reasonably enough I always thought, “How can I make a right before the goddamned Howard Johnson’s if I can’t see it yet, f’Chrissake?”

“Oh, you know that Howard Johnson’s. The one where Larry asked for a peach cone and they gave him pistachio by mistake?”

“I don’t remember that. What did I have?”

“Chocolate.”

My father always had chocolate, wherever we went. He was not very adventurous when it came to ice cream. Or adventures either, for that matter. “Don’t give me any landmarks. Just tell me a number. Or a name, at least.”

“The Hutch. We’ll watch for a sign that says the Hutch. I think it might be near that gas station where we once stopped to pee.”

“Oh, f’cryinoutloud. We always stop to pee. Is that where the Hutch is?”

“No, that’s where the sign is.”

In any case, my parents had no spatial sense, and neither do I. Which is why it was probably a dumb move on my part to buy the Chessmaster program.

When the software arrived about two weeks ago, I was automatically ranked at 900, based on my answers to a few simple questions, most of which involved my willingness to let my name be floated around the Internet as a potential sucker for sales pitches. The evil Chessmaster then started throwing virtual opponents at me, and it wasn’t long before I whittled myself down to the high negatives.

In the process, I did manage to learn a few simple precepts. Develop your muscles before bishops. Fight for control of Lincoln Center. Never play with queens too early. That knight on the rim’s named Jim. Watch out for forks and skewers (although other cooking utensils are OK). I’ve even memorized a few common openings: the Wild-Indian Defense, the Sicilian Mafia, the “Illegal Immigrant” Lopez (first round up all your opponent’s suspicious-looking pieces, then ask questions), and of course, the French Chef (hit ’em with a cleaver, and bon appétit).

But I now sit comfortably at around –1000, and I’m playing computeroid children, some of whom don’t know the difference between a rook and a Lego.

Maybe if the kids I battle were labeled by religious affiliation, I’d have an easier time trying to defeat them. I’m sure that if they were classified as representatives of the dark forces, I could probably work myself into a rage — at least at their fictional god-and-pawn-pushing parents. Instead, I feel avuncular. I tell myself: What would it do to Cassie’s poor little simulated ego if I checkmated her? Not that I can, mind you.

So that’s why I haven’t been blogging much lately. To make the world a better place, I’ve been single-handedly battling the cyber-tots. We cannot let the robots win!

Umm … please don’t hide your king in your mouth, sweetheart.

Posted in Memoirs, Puzzles and Games | 15 Comments »

Homesite Puzzler #5: May I Have This St. Vitus Dance?

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 06/15/2010

Today is the feast day of St. Vitus, after whom uncontrollable dancing mania is named. So, to be fair, I decided to throw my readers’ minds into rhythmic spasms. But St. Vitus never constructed any great puzzles that I know of, except the one I played today: trying somehow to tie him into this post.

St. Vitus Dance is, allegedly, one symptom of mercury poisoning. Mercury poisoning was not uncommon among workers in the hat industry, who used mercurous nitrate to help turn fur into felt. Hence, the expression “mad as a hatter.” Aha!

Lewis Carroll, who created the Mad Hatter, loved setting little problems in logical deduction for his child-friends. I don’t see how any of today’s kids could conceivably solve any of those monsters, when they can’t even figure out that it’s impossible to earn a sports trophy just by showing up. So if any of you are children — and if you are, do your parents know you’re reading this? — you’ll probably be thoroughly confused by this puzzle. Hell, even most grown-ups would find it ridiculous. I do, even though I’m dancing as fast as I can.

Carroll’s Symbolic Logic Puzzles consisted of a number of if-then statements (but not always phrased quite so simply) that could be combined in proper sequence to form a logical deduction that was hilarious nonsense. I’ll give you a simple example, and an explanation of the deduction:

Propositions
1. No one really appreciates mustard unless he loves hot dogs.
2. Nobody who likes Sarah Palin has good taste.
3. If you love hot dogs, you have good taste.

Explanation
Let’s reduce the phrases to symbols:
Appreciates Mustard = M
Loves Hot Dogs = H
likes Sarah Palin = S
Has Good Taste = T

1. M —> H (If you really appreciate mustard, you love hot dogs.)
2. S —>~T (If you like Sarah Palin, you do not have good taste.)
3. H —> T (If you love hot dogs, you have good taste.)

Remember: The contrapositive of a true proposition is also true. A contrapositive is obtained by reversing the direction of the “implies” arrow, and negating both terms.
So if 2. S —> ~T is true, then
2a. T —> ~S is also true.

Now we can construct a simple string:
M —> H
H —> T
T —> ~S

Assuming that all propositions are true, the deduction is:
If you really appreciate mustard, then you don’t like Sarah Palin.
Or it’s contrapositive: If you like Sarah Palin, then you really don’t appreciate mustard.

Here’s the puzzle. Your job is to assume (obviously, for purposes of this game only) that all the following propositions are true. Then, come up with the final deduction. To be fair to everyone who might want to try this, DO NOT put your answer in a comment. Instead, send it to elwallberg at gmail.com. (As usual, those who arrive at the correct solution will get credit at the bottom of the post.) Of course, you can feel free to leave other types of comments, like “Who the hell is Lewis Carroll?” or “I hate hot dogs unless they’re kosher,” or “Screw you, Wallberg.”

1. Everyone who’s hooked on Chocolate Cheerios loves sweet crunchy things.
2. If you thrive on nonsense, you recite “Jabberwocky” constantly.
3) Unless you long for expensive toys, you’re not a kid at heart.
4) A true Christian loves Jesus.
5) If you’re not hooked on Chocolate Cheerios, you’re a mighty sad person.
6) You must watch a lot of TV commercials, if you long for expensive toys.
7) Love Jesus, and you shall have focus in your life.
8) If you’re not a kid at heart, you don’t love sweet crunchy things.
9) All those who are mighty sad persons have been abandoned by God.
10) Only those who thrive on nonsense watch a lot of TV commercials.
11) If you’ve got focus in your life, you don’t recite “Jabberwocky” constantly.

Happy St. Vitus dancing, all you mad readers out there.

Champion Deducers:
Philly Chief
Hemant Mehta
Mutzali

[If you’d like to see the step-by-step solution, drop me an email and I’ll send it to you.]

Posted in Puzzles and Games | 10 Comments »

Homesite Puzzler #4: Stop the Invasion

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 04/28/2010

Armexizonicana.

Notice the Mexican hiding illegally in Arizona? It’s a damned good thing that the Grand Canyon State passed legislation allowing the police to question anyone who looks like he or she might not belong there. We can never be too careful when it comes to protecting our women and children — and jobs — from those dark-skinned terrorists eager to destroy our way of life. I mean: History shows that only Republican elected officials can prevent (1) our country from being attacked physically and (2) our economic system from collapsing.

Some folks here in Kentucky are, of course, eager to jump on that xenophobic bandwagon. You can probably make up a reasonable facsimile of the story that ran in today’s local rag, but if you must read it, you’ll find it here.

Anyway, apparently there are huge numbers of “undesirable” people from the Americas hiding here in … um … America. So your job today is to stop the invasion by finding the Latin American or Caribbean Islander lurking menacingly somewhere in one of our beautiful, pure states.

Instructions
For each item, list the state and its immigrant. For example: your answer to the sample above should have read: Arizona/Mexican. As usual, send your answers privately to me at elwallberg@gmail.com, so that all readers can play without having to see the solutions in front of them. At the bottom of this page, each participant will receive credit for the total number of correct answers he or she sends. (Do feel free to leave your thoughts on this topic in the comment thread accompanying the post.)

1. Cocunnebacticunt
2. Haihatwaiaini
3. Gaurakatensamalans
4. Dromhiondeisiclandan
5. Venevnezaueldana
6. Ecoukaladohoremana
7. Jamismasisicsipanpi
8. Mitobachigognanian
9. Mairnditinaiquanias
10. Tenanersgesentiene
11. Susourinthacarmolinera
12. Guteayaxnesase
13. Bwayrombinudang
14. Nokrittithtidakoatna
15. Wurisuconguasyinan

Please take part in the hunt; the nation needs you. F’Chrissake, no true patriot would want to live in a place called

16. Nekewntyucakwkeyr

Solvers (with number correct):
Chappy (16)
Linwood (16)
Des (16)
[If you’d like to know the solutions, send me an email and I’ll respond with a list of correct answers.]

Posted in Playing Politics, Puzzles and Games | 17 Comments »

Pseudo-cuckoo

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 04/21/2010



Posted in Puzzles and Games | 15 Comments »

God Exists: the Sudokulogical Proof

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/19/2010

My friend Desertscope solved a math problem on his blog today. I have absolutely no clue about how his formulas work, or even what the problem was, exactly. However, he definitely either proved his hypothesis or he didn’t.

My hypothesis is much clearer. I can prove mathematically that God exists.

We all know that if God exists, he’s in a constant battle against Satan. God wins, except in those cases in which he doesn’t. Since God works in mysterious ways, and Satan works in plain ol’ ordinary ways, we can assume that — if God does, in fact, exist — the percentage of battles won by Satan would be minuscule. Let’s call it 10-50%, which actually inflates Satan’s chances by approximately a zillion cases. (But, then, that poor devil needs all the help he can get, and what does an overly generous exponent cost us in the grand scheme of things?)

Now, everyone knows that Satan’s favorite number is the very bad 666. All other numbers are good numbers, favored by God. Are you with me so far?

If God exists, then, in a random selection of three numbers, Satan’s favorite number would appear approximately only 10-50% (or less) times.

It so happens that if you take the digits 1 through 9 and fill each of three places with any of those digits, selected at random, you have 9 places x 9 places x 9 places, or 729 potential different three-digit numbers. Thus, your random chance of selecting any specific three-digit number, let’s say 666, would be 1 out of 729.

Stay focused, please. Because I will now astound you.

I’ve done, literally, thousands and thousands of Sudoku puzzles in my lifetime. I was doing those puzzle before they were even called “Sudoku,” back when they were referred to as “Number Place” (not to be confused with “Word Search” or “personal”) problems. In every Sudoku puzzle, there are 81 digits, which can be read as nine rows of nine digits or nine columns of nine digits. Obviously, they can be arranged into umpteen consecutive three-digit numbers.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that I’ve solved four Sudoku puzzles a day for at least the last 40 years. Leaving leap years out of the equation (because I don’t approve of adding an extra day to February, when the weather’s always so nasty), we get 4 x 365 x 40 = 58,400. I’m going to give God the benefit of my doubt here, so let’s reduce the number of digits in each puzzle to a mere three, not eighty-one. (Voila! We’ve saved ourselves the trouble of writing “umpteen” as a denominator.)  So: Dividing 58,400 by 729, we arrive at approximately 80.109738. I’m going to call that figure a nice round 80, because I rarely do .109738th of a puzzle.

So, if each puzzle yields exactly one three-digit solution, then — assuming that I haven’t lied about the number of puzzles I’ve done in the last forty years — by the laws of probability, I should have seen the consecutive numbers 666 somewhere in the vicinity of 80 times, give or take a degree or two of latitude.

But I’ve never seen that consecutive combination in a Sudoku puzzle! Therefore, I conclude that Satan’s evil number is definitely not appearing with its statistical probability, which, being 1 out of 729 possibilities, is somewhat higher than “never.” So why doesn’t it show up now and then? There’s only one reasonable answer: God keeps it from winning the battle over the other 728 godly combinations. (Except, perhaps, only once out of every 10-50 times. Or, to be more mathematically precise: You should live so long.)

Therefore, as any theist can tell you, God exists.

Posted in Freedom from Faith, Puzzles and Games, Seriously Silly | 13 Comments »

Homesite Puzzler #3: Famous Kentuckians

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/05/2010

I complain a lot about my new home state, but we do have our share of famous folks. Why, just this morning, right under the banner on the local rag’s front page, was a boxed picture of an odd-looking movie character. In big letters were printed the words: Johnny in “Wonderland;” the caption below them read As the Mad Hatter, Kentucky native Depp goes the weird route again.

As far as I’m concerned, if he’d truly taken the “weird route,” he would have wound up back in Lexington. But perhaps there’s no room here.

In any case, that blatant example of boosterism got me thinking about other famous Kentuckians. And my love of Lewis Carroll got me thinking about puzzles. So what could be more natural than to combine those two ideas.

Therefore: Each item below is a clue to the identity of a famous person who lived in the Bluegrass State. When read as a sentence (or sentences), the words give a hint, although sometimes only a vague one. But each item also contains, in anagrammed form, the name of the person sought. The letters of the anagram always appear as consecutive complete words, although you may have to ignore some punctuation. Parenthetical information is included only to show each person’s Kentucky tie, and does not contain any anagrams.

[NOTE: Since I’d like to give a chance to as many readers as possible, I’m asking solvers not to include your answers in your comments. Instead, email your solutions to elwallberg@gmail.com. I’ll list the names of all those who get any of the anagrams right, along with the number of correct answers they’ve sent. The reader with the highest number wins a lovely photograph of Johnny Depp, cut from today’s LHL, and personally autographed (by me, not him). In case of a tie, each winner will receive a piece of the picture. (Hey, I’ve only got one).]

1. Did his farmer folks predict that this kid would grow up to espouse such a cagy creed?
(Born in Beverly, raised in Hopkinsville)

2. Was he a rabbi, priest, lama, imam? Duh! Although not a religious leader , he was very active in the Boxer Rebellion.
(Born in Louisville)

3. Yes, he might archly yen to reside in the White House, but he claimed he didn’t want to be president.
(Lived in Lexington)

4. Although she may look like the lamest hen, oh! she’s the only one with her own roost among the chickens.
(Born in Winchester)

5. His legends don’t mention whether he wore any robe in Vinegaroon.
(Born in Mason County)

6. If ye’re gay movie fans, does his “cool” engorge ye?
(Born in Lexington)

7. My dearie yawns when watching the news.
(Born in Glasgow, raised in Louisville)

8. The good ol’ boy in redneck jeans drives off with this guy’s flag.
(Born in Christian County)

9. Even the loudest drunk cannot air ire the way she did.
(Born in Garrard County)

10. This rare bird was bound on “a hajj,” muse-inspired, all over America.
(Ran a business in Louisville)

11. Some people thought he could even track ions!
(Born in Madison County)

12. He gave carefully selected information to a nosy town.
(Born in Berea)

13. Do your eardrums get tonally rent when you listen to her?
(Born near Paintsville)

14. Us Brooklyn boys can cut down doze giants even wit’out a sabre or an epee. See, we’re winning!
(Born in Meade County)

15. Many writers whose talents were barrener went porn, but this guy wrote a novel fit for a king.
(Born in Guthrie)

Solvers (with number correct):
The Chaplain (9)
Yunshui (1)
Srsny (7)
DJ Spin Dragon (15)
The winner, obviously, is DJ Spin Dragon.
[If you’d like to know the solutions, send me an email and I’ll respond with a list of correct answers.]

Posted in New to Kentucky, Puzzles and Games | 15 Comments »

Homesite Puzzler #2: Presidents Day Quiz

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 02/11/2010

Nowadays, our elected officials miss no opportunity to spout pieties. It would be a secular miracle, indeed, to find an American politician who had anything negative to say about religion. This situation was not always so, however.

Monday is Presidents Day (and please note that there is no apostrophe anywhere in the holiday’s name). I know I’m four days early with this puzzler, but I want to give you a big head start on your celebrations. I do this as a holiday gift to my readers because you’ll all probably be too busy over the weekend honoring our historic leaders in the traditional American way: by trading pictures of them for sale items at the mall.

Also, you may need a little time to work your way through this quiz on American Presidents and their ideas about religion. Those of you who actually know something about our country’s history may be able to use their knowledge to figure out many of the answers. But I’m confident that, even if you ‘ve seen some of these questions before, you won’t get 100%. Hell, I didn’t — and I created this goddamned quiz.

Give yourself 5 points for every item you get right. [Note: You can find the correct answers appended as the first comment to this post. But no peeking!)

1. Who said:

I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe.

A. Grover Cleveland
B. Franklin Pierce
C. William Howard Taft
D. Rutherford B. Hayes

2. Which two presidents are quoted here?

[O]f course like every other man of intelligence and education I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised.

Well, it’s a theory, it is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science and is not yet believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was believed. But if it was going to be taught in the schools, then I think that also the biblical theory of creation, which is not a theory, but the biblical story of creation, should also be taught.

A. Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Bush
B. Woodrow Wilson and Ronald Reagan
C. John F. Kennedy and George H. W. Bush
D. Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter

3. George W. Bush said:

I, in the state of Texas, had heard a lot of discussion about a faith-based initiative eroding the important bridge between church and state.

Two of our previous leaders knew the difference between a bridge and a wall. Which presidents said:

Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church and the private school supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate.

Whatever one’s religion in his private life may be, for the officeholder, nothing takes precedence over his oath to uphold the Constitution and all its parts — including the First Amendment and the strict separation of church and state.

A. Ulysses S. Grant and John F. Kennedy
B. William McKinley and Bill Clinton
C. Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt
D. James Garfield and Calvin Coolidge

4. Which presidents could have had the following debate?

We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.

The Christian god is a three-headed monster; cruel, vengeful, and capricious … One only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites.

A. George W. Bush and James Madison
B. Jimmy Carter and Thomas Jefferson
C. George H. W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln
D. Ronald Reagan and John Adams

5. Who said:

I have seldom met an intelligent person whose views were not narrowed and distorted by religion.

A. James Buchanan
B. Franklin Pierce
C. Herbert Hoover
D. Martin Van Buren

6. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and The American Crisis were arguably the most important writings of the Revolutionary War period. Yet, two presidents disagreed about Paine’s heritage. Which presidents referred to him in the following ways:

[He] needs no monument made with hands; he has erected a monument in the hearts of all lovers of liberty.

… that filthy little atheist

A. Thomas Jefferson and Richard Nixon
B. James Monroe and Ronald Reagan
C. James Madison and Harry Truman
D. Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt

7. What president said the following, and what was the occasion?

In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future.

A. George W. Bush on the funding of faith-based initiatives
B. Abraham Lincoln on the words “In God We Trust” being engraved on coins
C. James K. Polk on the spread of Protestantism as a result of our “manifest destiny”
D. Dwight D. Eisenhower on “Under God” being added to the Pledge of Allegiance

8. Who said:

I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.

A. George W. Bush
B. Franklin D. Roosevelt
C. George H. W. Bush
D. Theodore Roosevelt

9. Which president once told reporters:

I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life.

A. Barack Obama
B. Bill Clinton
C. Jimmy Carter
D. Richard Nixon

10. Which president’s attitude about religion is expressed by:

Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect.

A. John Quincy Adams
B. James Monroe
C. Warren G. Harding
D. James Madison

11. Who said:

I am tolerant of all creeds. Yet if any sect suffered itself to be used for political objects I would meet it by political opposition. In my view church and state should be separate, not only in form, but fact. Religion and politics should not be mingled.

A. John Quincy Adams
B. Millard Fillmore
C. Franklin Pierce
D. Martin Van Buren

12. Which two presidents might have had this debate about morality:

The truth is, politics and morality are inseparable. And as morality’s foundation is religion, religion and politics are necessarily related. We need religion as a guide. We need it because we are imperfect.

Twenty times in the course of my late reading, I have been upon the point of breaking out: This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!

A. George H. W. Bush and James Madison
B. Herbert Hoover and Thomas Jefferson
C. Ronald Reagan and John Adams
D. Lyndon B. Johnson and Abraham Lincoln

13. Which little-known president is responsible for the following amazing quote?

The United States has adventured upon a great and noble experiment, which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent — that of total separation of Church and State. No religious establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgment. The offices of the Government are open alike to all. No tithes are levied to support an established Hierarchy, nor is the fallible judgment of man set up as the sure and infallible creed of faith. The Mohammedan, if he will to come among us would have the privilege guaranteed to him by the Constitution to worship according to the Koran; and the East Indian might erect a shrine to Brahma if it so pleased him. Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political institutions… The Hebrew persecuted and down trodden in other regions takes up his abode among us with none to make him afraid… and the Aegis of the government is over him to defend and protect him. Such is the great experiment which we have tried, and such are the happy fruits which have resulted from it; our system of free government would be imperfect without it.

A. John Tyler
B. Chester Alan Arthur
C. James K. Polk
D. Benjamin Harrison

14. Which two presidents of two different parties could have agreed on these ideas?

No matter what other personal desires or crises we have faced, I’ve never forgotten that this is the time to celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus, and the impact of this event on the history of the world.

It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow.

A. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton
B. Warren G. Harding and Woodrow Wilson
C. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover
D. Jimmy Carter and Calvin Coolidge

15. Who said:

Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither justice nor freedom can be permanently maintained. Its interests are intrusted to the States and the voluntary action of the people. Whatever help the nation can justly afford should be generously given to aid the States in supporting common schools; but it would be unjust to our people and dangerous to our institutions to apply any portion of the revenues of the nation or of the States to the support of sectarian schools. The separation of Church and State in everything relating to taxation should be absolute.

A. Andrew Johnson
B. Rutherford B. Hayes
C. William McKinley
D. James A. Garfield

16. Which two presidents could have had this discussion about education?

I believe God did create the world. And I think we’re finding out more and more and more as to how it actually happened.

There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious faith.

A. Richard Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson
B. John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman
C. George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter
D. Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan

17. Which two presidents had the following different ideas about religious sensitivity?

The Jews, I find are very, very selfish. They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as D[isplaced] P[ersons] as long as the Jews get special treatment. Yet when they have power, physical, financial, or political, neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the underdog.

If they are good workmen, they may be of Asia, Africa, or Europe. They may be Mohometans, Jews or Christians of any Sect, or they may be Atheists.

A. Harry Truman and George Washington
B. Franklin D. Roosevelt and James Monroe
C. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Grover Cleveland
D. Richard M. Nixon and Theodore Roosevelt

18. These two presidents would be horrified at all the faith talk in the present-day political arena. Who are they?

Voters … make up their minds for many diverse reasons, good and bad. To submit the candidates to a religious test is unfair enough — to apply it to the voters is divisive, degrading and wholly unwarranted.

If there is one thing for which we stand in this country, it is for complete religious freedom, and it is an emphatic negation of this right to cross-examine a man on his religion before being willing to support him for office.

A. William Howard Taft and William McKinley
B. John F. Kennedy and Theodore Roosevelt
C. Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman
D. Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln

19. The country lucked out when neither of these two religious nuts were elected. What two losing candidates said:

If we have to give up either religion or education, we should give up education.

I believe that the purpose of life is to glorify God.

A. Charles Evans Hughes and Alfred E. Smith
B. Alf Landon and Barry Goldwater
C. William Jennings Bryan and Al Gore
D. Bob Dole and George McGovern

20. Who said:

We have the most religious freedom of any country in the world, including the freedom not to believe.

A. Richard M. Nixon
B. Lyndon B. Johnson
C. Barack Obama
D. Bill Clinton

[For these and many other great quotes, I highly recommend that you read 2000 Years of Disbelief by James A. Haught and The Quotable Atheist by Jack Huberman — or simply visit Positive Atheism.]

Posted in Freedom from Faith, Holidays, It's History, Playing Politics, Puzzles and Games | 16 Comments »

Homesite Puzzler #1: My Old Kentucky Poem

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/07/2010

Sitting in the emotional chill of this cold, snowy Kentucky night, I was moved to write an epic about my spiritual journey from New Yawk to Lexington. But I’m no poet. So I’ve stolen lines from others, and cobbled them into the following (very) free verse.

My challenge to readers is: For each numbered line, can you identify its author and the work from which it’s taken?  I will post and update results at the bottom of this page, giving credit to those who have gotten correct answers. Partial points will be rewarded for identifying only an author but not a work, or vice versa.

[Note: To give everyone a chance, please limit yourself to no more than three identifications per comment – although you may post multiple comments.]

Lines Lifted on Thinking of New Yawk during a Snowy Kentucky Evening

1. The great big city’s a wondrous toy.
2. I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan island, and bathed in the waters around it,
3. Turning and turning in the widening gyre
4. when the world is puddle-wonderful;
5. Flung roses, roses, riotously with the throng
6. Who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,
7. Through caverns measureless to man;
8. And sang to a small guitar,
9. To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells,
10. the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick.

11. Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
12. I’d like to teach the world to sing.

13. But that’s all shove be’ind me – long ago an’ fur away.
14. The head must bow and the back will have to bend.
15. This is the forest primeval:
16. You can hear dear Mother Nature murmuring low
17. Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
18. Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies,
19. Never know nothing, and never know much.
20. The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
21. Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything,
22. For they’d none of ’em be missed – they’d none of ’em be missed!

23. But I have promises to keep.
24. No man is an island, entire of itself,
25. Who never to himself hath said,
26. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light;
27. Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
28. And don’t look back – something might be gaining on you.”

[Correct Answers: 1. Srsny; 2. Srsny 3. Yunshui; 4. Linwood (author), Srsny (work); 5. Kirk M; 6. Srsny; 7. Yunshui; 8. Linwood; 9. Srsny; 10. Kirk M; 11. Srsny; 12. Evie; 13. Kirk M; 14. Kirk M; 15. Srsny; 16. Srsny; 17. Srsny; 18. Linwood; 19. Kirk M; 20. Linwood; 21. Linwood; 22. Yunshui; 23. Linwood (author only); 24. Evie (author), Yunshui (work) Godless Randall (special mention); 25. Srsny; 26. Evie; 27. Kirk M 28. Kirk & Srsny (and a special mention for each)]

Posted in From Bad to Verse, New to Kentucky, Puzzles and Games | 44 Comments »