My Old Kentucky Homesite

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Please Pass the Sour Grapes, Henry

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 08/01/2010

I’d rather be right than be president.
Kentucky Senator Henry Clay

OK, the winners of the Lexington Herald-Leader  “The Best of Everything”  Readers’ Choice 2010 poll have been announced, and apparently I am not the most popular Local Media Personality (newspaper, TV. radio, blogger).  Nor am I the city’s most popular Pet Groomer, Cosmetic Surgeon, or Place to Worship.

No specific numbers were published, so, lacking evidence, we have to take the results on faith. The most popular media personality in Lexington is Leland Conway, who is — you’ll never believe this — a conservative radio commentator. The runners-up are a TV weatherman, and an early morning guy who claims he gets “to meet the greatest people on the earth: Kentuckians!”  (FYI: The exclamation point is his.)  Unfortunately, those people weren’t great enough to spell his last name correctly. It’s Cruse, not (as the newspaper editors wrote) Cruise. No relation to Tom or Carnival.

The poll is disappointing in other areas, too. Lexington is, happily, home to a number of decent all-day breakfast joints, but the readers’ favorite Place to Eat Breakfast/Brunch is that uniquely Bluegrass entity, the chain-restaurant Cracker Barrel (yuck). I guess the greatest people on the earth don’t necessarily enjoy gorging on one another’s pancakes.

There are dozens of local hamburger eateries here, too, some pretty good. But the second favorite Burger Joint is a national one, Wendy’s (also yuck).  Have you given up lite beer for low-end wine? You’ll probably be pleased to know that the second favorite Place to Buy Wine and Spirits is Kroger, an Ohio-based grocery chain.

I don’t really get it. Lexington is overrun with local boosters. Everywhere you go, you’ll hear about our basketball team, our horses, our bourbon, our coal, our god. Yet, when asked to choose their favorites in food, they ignore the local talent, and settle for bland national chains. Perhaps Lexingtonians don’t eat out because they’re too busy staying at home listening to right-wing radio and watching the latest news about rain.

That would seem to be the case, because the name of one of the finalists in Place for Patio Dining has a parenthetical next to it: “(NOW CLOSED).” I guess all the genteel Southern love , even from the greatest people on the earth, wasn’t sufficient to keep it from being affected by the recession. I’m pretty sure that our popular weatherman would blame the closure on meteorological phenomena. But I wonder how Leland Conway could conceivably turn it into Nancy Pelosi fault’s.

Posted in New to Kentucky, Random Rants, Useless Lists | 19 Comments »

The Presidents: A Not-so-scientific Ranking

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 07/04/2010

I’ve been indisposed for a while (see my next post). So I’m late acknowledging Independence Day, in celebration of which a very good friend of mine sent out this gallery of presidents, listed in order from best to worst. The scientifically derived rankings are explained in great journalistic detail by this article.

That list must be exactly right, because (1) the specific criteria are irrefutable; (2) of the 238 scholars mentioned, there’s not a single person whose name I could argue with; and (3) Siena College is well known as one of the world’s greatest institutions of learning. I’m a little surprised that they didn’t bump everyone down a place to make room for Jesus Christ at the top.

I decided it might be interesting if I did my own ranking, using my own set of scrupulously arrived at criteria. It wouldn’t be fair to my readers to ask them to wade through the entire set of names, but here are a few excerpts:

1. Lincoln (penny, 5-dollar bill)
2. Washington (quarter, 1-dollar bill)
3. Thomas Jefferson (nickel, 2-dollar bill)
4. Tie: The Roosevelts (Teddy, Franklin, Eleanor, Fala)
5. Jesus Christ (Note: in the purely secular, nation-building sense, only)
6. The Eastern Media Elite (aka The Nattering Nabobs of Negativism)
7. Jackie Kennedy
8. Josiah Bartlet
9: Three-way tie: Alexander Hamilton (10-dollar bill), Benjamin Franklin (100-dollar bill), Al Gore (Nobel Prize, Academy Award)
15. James (“John”) K. (“L.”) Polk
16. Game called on account of rain: Grover Cleveland (1st time), Grover Cleveland (2nd time), Grover Cleveland Alexander (P, PHI-NL/CHI-NL/STL-NL., Lifetime ERA. 2.56)
17. Edith Wilson
18. Garfield
19. Snoopy
20. Phineas T. Barnum
21. No award that year
22. Elvis
34. Coca-Cola
35. Lexington native George Clooney
36. Tippecanoe
37. Tyler, too
38. General Motors
39. “Silent Cal” Coolidge
40. “Chatty Matty” van Buren
41. Tie: Mother Teresa, Michael Jackson
52. Chester, Al, an’ Arthur
53. Millard Fillmore East
54. Warren G. Hardly
55. The Andrews: Jackson and Johnson
56. The Andrews Sisters: Patty, Maxene, LaVerne, and Julie (Hits: “The Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Bugle Boy of Company B,” “Bei Mir Bist du Ein Spoonful von Sugar,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else but Do-Re-Mi”)
57. Ronald Reagan (post-Alzheimer’s)
58. Ronald Reagan (pre-Alzheimer’s)
68. Seventeen-way tie: All other presidents except for George W. Bush
69. Larry King
70. Dick Cheney, acting on behalf of Halliburton

Unlike Siena College, I haven’t included either Barack Obama (because he has served only about 18 months so far) and Sarah Palin (who hasn’t yet been elected).  I also didn’t rank Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, because I couldn’t decide which one should be 32nd and which 33rd.  Sorry.

Posted in It's History, Seriously Silly, Useless Lists | 14 Comments »

Hey, Look Who’s Just Like You and Me!

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 05/27/2010

Tribal mentality may be evolutionarily wired into our DNA. Humans — most of us, anyway — apparently have a longing to group ourselves into easily differentiated categories. Religion being one of those categories, it stands to reason that atheists would feel a common bond with one another.

With that in mind, I hereby list twenty famous people you may not have known were atheists. I assume you’ll feel proud about at least some of them.

  1. Harry Truman
  2. Mickey Mantle
  3. General William Tecumseh Sherman
  4. Queen Elizabeth I
  5. Daniel Boone
  6. Bob Kane (creator of Batman)
  7. Marilyn Monroe
  8. Zebulon Pike
  9. Johnny Weissmuller
  10. Ernest Lawrence Thayer (writer of “Casey at the Bat”)
  11. Pancho Villa
  12. Lucille Ball
  13. Ludwig von Beethoven
  14. Moe Howard (of the Three Stooges)
  15. Annie Oakley
  16. Otto von Bismarck
  17. Chief Justice John Marshall
  18. Jane Austen
  19. Cliff Edwards (“Ukulele Ike,” the voice of Jiminy Cricket)
  20. Amerigo Vespucci

That’s quite a collection of individuals, eh? And all of them shared our worldview!

Um … nope. First of all, atheism isn’t a worldview. It’s not a religion. It isn’t a tribal designation. It’s not an indication of any specific kinds of thought-processes. Hell, atheism, in and of itself, isn’t even an idea; it’s merely the rejection of a particularly stupid notion: theism.

But still, we’d like to feel some sense of kindred, whatever that means, with the twenty people named above. If nothing else, perhaps we can claim them as intellectual colleagues, right? Isn’t there something intangible about atheism that makes those of us who are faith-free look at one another with a glimmer of self-recognition? So tell the truth: You see those folks in a new light now, don’t you?

Well, you can turn off that bulb in your dim brain. Because I made that list up. I have no idea whether any of those famous men and women were atheists. But I doubt it.

I repeat: the only thing that atheists have in common is our rejection of a particularly stupid notion. If we need to organize to fight theocracy — and I, for one, think we must — then we ought not have false expectations of one another. None of us should ever make assumptions about what other atheists think or feel, what anyone else does or does not believe. Instead, we should probably just acknowledge that we’re held together by a very thin bond indeed, and keep our focus appropriately tight and rooted in the real world: Keep religion out of government.

[H/T to John Evo & vjack, both of whose linked posts started me on today’s rant.]

Posted in Freedom from Faith, Random Rants, Useless Lists | 41 Comments »

21 Worst Arguments for the Existence of God

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 04/22/2010

I’ve heard every one of these arguments, and so have you. These versions may be slightly exaggerated. But only slightly.

1. If there were no God, there would be no bible, because the writers of the bible were inspired by God. So if there’s a bible, there must be a God. There’s definitely a bible, because I saw a whole stack of them on sale at WalMart. So there must be a God at WalMart, too.

2. Somebody definitely loves me, because I feel loved. But everybody who knows me thinks I’m a creep. So there must be a God.

3.If you can imagine a God, there must be one, because your imagination really sucks.

4. Since every living thing changes, somebody must have set that change in motion. Obviously, that couldn’t have been you, because you don’t even change your socks when you need to. So it must have been God.

5. My gun-toting Christian neighbor says I’d better believe.

6. Everybody throughout history believed in a God. Except Hitler. Doesn’t that tell you something?

7. Since there’s no logic unless there’s a God, you can’t prove to me logically that there’s no God. Ergo, there IS a God. QED, WTF, & ROFLMAO.

8. The universe must have had a beginning. So it’s exactly like a story. Since a story has a writer, someone must have written the universe. Obviously, he had to have used a gigantic invisible pen, because computers weren’t invented yet.  Only God is strong enough to write legibly with that kind of pen.

9. You can’t desire something that doesn’t exist. I desired a shiny red Chevy pick-up that cost less than $500. Sure enough, I found one in an ad in the paper, even though it was dirty white and it didn’t have a working engine or any windows, and it still set me back 750 bucks. Therefore, God exists.

10. If there’s no God, how do you explain this voice in my head, huh? Did you ever think of that, you wacko atheists?

11. Everything has a cause. Nothing happens by accident. So somebody must have had a reason for creating the world. There are two possibilities who that somebody was: either God or an atheist. But by their own admission, all atheists say that they weren’t around when the world was created. So it must have been God.

12. You can’t have any ideas if you have no brain in your head. However, some ideas have been around for a very long time, maybe even 6,000 years. Clearly, no person’s brain is that old.  So who can be thinking all those ideas? Only God has a head that can last so long, although I think it would look much nicer if he trimmed his nose hairs.

13. How else can you explain the fact that there are exactly 60 seconds in a minute, and exactly sixty minutes in an hour, and exactly 6o hours in two and a half days, and exactly 60 days in two months (except for the weird ones like January, February, March, May, July, August, October, and December)? That didn’t happen just by accident.

14. Where would human morals come from if there was no God eager to torture us eternally for not believing in him?

15. Without a God, what a poor, pathetic, pointless place Kentucky would be.

16. According to your stupid theories, I would still be a monkey if there was no God. Obviously, I’m not a monkey. Right? Right?

17. Since Nature is perfect, it must be God’s creation. I thought of that today while I was fertilizing my begonias and spraying for aphids.

18. If I pray hard enough, my Entenmann’s Chocolate Donut will turn into Jesus’s body. (NOTE: Some Christian sects think that you can substitute a Hostess Sno Ball. But they’re wrong, because it makes no sense for Jesus to enter anything with coconut.) I know that Jesus’s body becomes one with my donut (although not necessarily with the hole), because I feel as if I’m in heaven with him every time I eat an ECD.  So if I pray sincerely before I eat one, I’ll go to heaven.  As long as I don’t chew.

19. If there weren’t a God to give humans a code of morality, we’d all be godless commie homosexual baby-killers. And, even worse, nobody would ever vacuum.

20. I think country music is beautiful, and so do most of my friends. But my wife left me, and my girlfriend died, and I can’t find a job, and I’m hooked on lite beer, and I’m in jail for serial littering, and the Wildcats lost the championship. So how come I can still tell that a song is beautiful when I hear it? Therefore, there must be a God who made little green apples.

21. A miracle can take place only if there’s a God. It’s a miracle that you’ve read this list. Need I say more?

Posted in Freedom from Faith, Useless Lists | 24 Comments »

Tiger Woods and Sarah Palin: What’s Going On?

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 04/09/2010

We oh-so-rational atheists are not supposed to just spout off about any old thing, particularly ideas for which we lack evidence. Still, most of us, if we’re being completely truthful, have to acknowledge that we do harbor a few beliefs that might not withstand scientific scrutiny.

A few years back, I wrote a confessional post in which I admitted to some notions that fall into the above category. I’m not going to repeat the items here – most of them were too dull to have been written even once – but I’ll include the first one to show the kind of thing I mean:

Despite all my protestations of tolerance, I really do, deep down, think that anyone who believes in a god is a moron.

Anyway, here are some more unverifiable beliefs by which I live my life:

(1) There’s never anything on TV so important to watch that it’s worth cancelling or postponing any other activity.

(2) People who call you by name at the end of every sentence are always trying to sell you something.

(3) Weddings are a huge waste of money. Nobody ever enjoys them except the bride’s teenage female cousins.

(4) A world with Entenmann’s Chocolate Donuts is heaven enough for anybody.

(5) Doing the newspaper’s sudoku, Jumble, and crossword every day helps stave off senile dementia.

(6) Being a politician and being honest are mutually exclusive.

(7) Most Americans would embrace the most dictatorial political system if they thought it would lower their taxes and help them keep their crappy jobs.

(8) People who believe in a god always picture him as either a baby, a suffering misfit, Charlton Heston, or their father with a long, white beard.

(9) Kids need to have critical thinking abilities far more than they need to have self-esteem.

(10) Sex is fine in the afternoon and at night, but in the morning there’s nothing as good as a bowl of crunchy, sugary breakfast cereal.

(11) Sports stars and entertainers are not heroes.

(12) A twenty-something who says “WTF” in a face-to-face conversation is a fucking idiot.

(13) Unless you’re deluding yourself, it’s impossible to really like the taste of “lite” beer.

(14) The Pope is just an Ayatollah who speaks Italian.

(15) Some activities in life don’t need — and so shouldn’t have — an app.

(16) Driving, no matter how fast it’s done, is not a sport.

(17) Country music singers are not “artists.” Most of them are hardly even singers, f’Chrissake.

(18) No matter how creative it is, a billboard never made anybody change his or her mind about anything.

(19) A good post title will get you more hits on your Web site than interesting content.

(20) Nobody except those actually involved in the proceedings should give a rat’s ass who Tiger Woods or Sarah Palin screwed.

Readers, feel free to add any irrational beliefs that you may espouse.

Posted in Freedom from Faith, Google, Seriously Silly, Useless Lists | 16 Comments »

Two Dollars on Wallberg to Show Up

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 04/05/2010

Sorry I’m late. My wife and I had company this weekend, so I didn’t have much of a chance to get my dander up over the fact that the Lexington Herald-Leader wasted about half its pages on mumbo-jumbo stories about some holiday that nobody ever heard of. Instead, I spent the last few days partaking of Kentucky. Our party went for a scenic drive, took a tour of a bourbon distillery, and — of course — spent an afternoon watching thoroughbreds run fast while people in fancy outfits yelled at them.

I’m not much of a horse-player. However, since I found myself at the races during Holy Week, I decided I’d better follow the advice of a real gambler, my grandfather’s friend Blaise Pascalowitz.

You must wager. It is not optional. A day at the races is just a sunburn for nothing if you do not take a chance. (Also, don’t forget to treat yourself to some tootsie-frootsie ice cream.) Could you lose enough to keep you from buying a $5 racetrack beer? Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, some of your money and the rest of your money; and two things to stake, a picture of Andrew Jackson (who, believe me, was no raving beauty that you need to carry around his image in your pocket) and the assurance that you’ll have enough to purchase a watered-down Bud Light. You must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But what of your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that your horse will win. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all your money back plus maybe a few extra bucks if it was a longshot; if you lose, you kiss, what?, twenty dollars goodbye . Hell, it’s not like you’re gonna die before there’s another race.

The rest of Pascalowitz’s advice is meaningless, because he never won a dime in his life.

So I was torn. On the one hand, I could pick my ponies by using a highly mathematical system that involved adding up every number I could find on the racing form, dividing the total by the amount of dollars I’ve made since 1997, and factoring out my allergy to hay. On the other hand, I could just go with the time-tested Eeny Method. Or, if I had three hands, I could fold two of them in prayer, and leave my fate to the emptiness above.

Eventually, I decided to employ the HTSLMKH (pronounced Hotz Lemkhah, which might be Yiddish for “mazel tov”) Principle. Some scholars believe the far-fetched theory that the capitalized word is an acronym for “Hey, That Sounds Like My Kinda Horse.”

Regardless of etymology (and entomolgy, too, for those who are bugged by puns), I’m going to give all my readers a chance to experience for themselves the thrill of a genuine Kentucky racing day. Below, in alphabetical order, are listed four horses from each race I saw. One horse was the winner; two others were selected at random from among the non-winners; the fourth is the loser I bet on. The races were real, so it’s not fair Googling to find out the results.

The Rules: For each race, write the letter of the horse you believe was the winner, followed by the letter of the nag you think stole my two bucks. You earn a point for each animal identified correctly. The person with the score that comes closest to 20 will earn eternal salvation or a leftover Peep, whichever lasts longer.

Race 1: (A) Nacho Man, (B) Speed Demon, (C) Weekend Wildcat, (D) Wetzel
Race 2: (A) Despite the Odds, (B) Hull, (C) Southern Exchange, (D) Taqarub
Race 3: (A) Flying Warrior, (B) Mr. Realistic, (C) Straight Talk, (D) W.W. Lady’s Man
Race 4: (A) Intercoastal, (B) Motown Shuffle, (C) Old Man Buck, (D) Runaway Banjo
Race 5: (A) Harpoon Hattie, (B) Heaven’s Grace, (C) Hit It Rich, (D) Wicked Ravnina
Race 6: (A) Argue, (B) Kantstopdancin, (C) Sheza Sweet Lemon, (D) Smarty’s Dream
Race 7: (A) Gypsy Baby, (B) Magic Broomstick, (C) Paradise Bound, (D) Tempo Approved
Race 8: (A) Fish, (B) Flight, (C) Krypton, (D) Sporty
Race 9: (A) King Ledley, (B) Lost Aptitude, (C) Nordic Truce, (D) Strike the Tiger
Race 10: (A) Dignified Air, (B) Everybody Lies, (C ) Lady Etienne, (D) Laura’s Cat Tales

I’ll add my commentary below when entries start to arrive.

[And they’re off. Evo broke wind sharply as first out of the starting gate. Srsny pulled ahead on the inside track. GoingLikeSixty went like eighty-divided-by-twenty to keep pace at the rear. SI rose quickly and looked for a hole, but he couldn’t find one. Chappy thought she hadn’t a prayer, but she collared the rest of the flock, and soon lorded it over the leader. Des scoped out a good spot for himself, but turned in a borderline performance.]

Posted in Holidays, New to Kentucky, Useless Lists | 17 Comments »

The Ten Commandments (World Version)

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/26/2010

According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Ten Commandments apply to everyone. I decided to see if that was the case, by creating a true World Version.

My method was simple:

First, I visited Google Translate, which can now transit comfortably between 51 languages (or tungumálum as the Icelanders say).

Next, I dropped in the New Revised Standard Version of the  Ten Commandments (Exodus, 20:2-17). Those among you who are mathematically inclined, may notice that there are actually twelve commandments, but what’s an extra commandment or two among friends?

1. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

2. Do not have any other gods before me.

3. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

4. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

5. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

6. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

7. Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

8. You shall not murder.

9. You shall not commit adultery.

10. You shall not steal.

11. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

12. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Then, I proceeded to translate the text from English to Afrikaans, from Afrikaans to Albanian, Albanian to Arabic, Arabic to Belarusian, and so on, alphabetically from language to language, until I reached the last one, Yiddish. I must admit that it was tough going there in spots (e.g., from Chinese to Croatian,  from Greek to Hebrew to Hindi, from Korean to Latvian, and from Ukrainian to Vietnamese to Welsh). But God loves all His children, doesn’t hE, and hIs glorious message is meant for all people to share, no matter what ridiculous language they happen to speak, and regardless of whether or not they refer to HiM in caps.

Finally, I had Google translate the result back into English (better known as Английски to you Bulgarians). You may wonder why the original twelve items have become slightly discombobulated, but you must have faith, for gOD works in mysterious ways.  I’m afraid, however, that those untrained in multi-lingual Biblical exegesis may not be able to understand some of the finer points of this historically significant, beautifully poetic, and morally imperative text. So I have included my scholarly notes to help elucidate some of the meanings.

1. Select slave labor camp somewhat Egypt.
LW: 1. Choosing a slave labor camp is somewhat like watching Little Egypt perform.

2 and God.
LW: Give me two of those [pastries(?)] and may God forgive you.

Alcohol is not Mentioned in the air in the 3rd cave.
LW: Thou shalt not mention alcohol aloud on the number three subway train.

Orangtuaku not God, 3 and version 4 and 4 Spirit that you want only the 1000 sentensing children is everything.
LW: The orangutan is not God. And it’s also not software versions 3 and 4.1 and 4.2 (Windows Spirit). If you want the best version, pick up 1000, which parses sentences better than any other. But everything is childish, anyway, no matter what word processor you use.

October 5 for the elderly to use.
LW: October 5th is a day set aside for the elderly to use computers.

6 Do not forget the world champion. I believe that God six days seven days. Make Saturday and education of children and care, not one putrinia, but the foreign vorkers.
LW: 6. Do not forget who the world champions are (NOTE: Currently, the New Yawk Yankees). I believe that God played either Game 6 or Game 7. Make Saturday a day of education and care for children, but don’t spend even one “putrinia” on foreign workers with German accents.

7 Mediterranean world in six days, many Saturday.
LW: 7. The Mediterranean world can be traversed in six days, which should include many Saturdays.

7, and my lord, my mother, God.
LW: (again) 7. My boss = my mother = God.

8 no many.
LW: Eight is not many, but it’s enough.

No Relationship 9.
LW: Thou shalt not have sexual relations with nine people.

LW: I’m God, and I can skip number 10 if I want to.

Aixekaras B, Animal 11.
LW: Aixekaras B. is an animal!!

12 cattle berasumsi and asinnod, or Neighbors jealous neighbor or Spouse, for example, can not operate, or if there are civil servants.
LW: 12. Thou shalt not keep company with cattle, Mr. Berasumsi, and someone asinine – or the neighbors will be jealous. By the way, your neighbor and your spouse are setting some example, huh?  Their sexual organs may seem to be out of commission, but it’s only because there are civil servants in the area.

The world would be a much better place if all humanity followed these few precepts. So please see that you do. (Yes, you too, Aixekaras!)

[Addendum: Yes, readers, you may feel free to suggest the posting of this World Version at the courthouse or government office of your choice.]

Posted in Freedom from Faith, Seriously Silly, Useless Lists | 25 Comments »

No Bushes Were Burned in the Making of This Post

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/14/2010

Today, the Lexington Herald-Leader ran a story about a federal appeals court decision allowing Grayson County to re-post the Ten Commandments in its courthouse.

According to the LHL online edition, as of the time I began to write this post, seven comments about the decision have been published on the Web site, although only six are viewable. Of those six, the boos run five to one against the yays.

Here’s the sole response, complete and unedited, of the one who applauds the decision:

GOOD If the ACLU is for it- I usually oppose their position.

My  comment bemoaning the decision is the longest (you could have guessed that, right?), although it still falls within the e-rag’s character-count strictures.

There are a number of different versions of the Ten Commandments. The Old Testament prints two different lists, one in Exodus (20:3-27), one in Deuteronomy (5:6-21). Modern religions have conflicting versions, based on their own interpretations and translations. Jews, Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, and various Protestant sects do not agree on the specific wording.

Worse, the first two (or three, depending on your own particular version) “commandments” have to do with worshipping the Judeo-Christian deity, as opposed to other deities or no deities. So it’s clearly a sectarian propaganda piece, with little, if any, historical or educational value.

The Ten Commandments has no place in a courthouse, at least in America. In countries controlled by religious fanatics like the Taliban, a comparable document would, of course, be displayed proudly.

It’s always important, I think, to reinforce the idea that theocratic bullies are essentially the same the world over, regardless of their specific beliefs. When they get god-crazed enough, they kill people in the name of heavenly justice. That’s what happened with Scott Roeder, who gunned down Dr. George Tiller in cold blood. It’s what happened with the Grand Inquisitors and the Fort Hood shooter and the Salem Witch Hunters. It’s what happened with the 9/11 bombers and with the Hebrews who massacred the Midianites. It even happened, as Pat Robertson claims,  to the Big Bully himself, who allegedly killed perhaps 50,000 Haitians because of their “pact with the devil.”

The Ten Commandments is the religious equivalent of a gateway drug.

Posted in First Amendment, Freedom from Faith, Useless Lists | 17 Comments »

Is There a Colonel in the House?

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/06/2010

Take a few minutes to try to figure this one out before reading any further.

What do Ann-Margret, Hunter S. Thompson, and Winston Churchill have in common?

The answer is: They’re all Kentucky Colonels.

Some other famous KC’s are or were

  • Omar Bradley (whose Kentucky rank was a demotion from his national one),
  • both Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (“happy Mammoth Cave Park Long Loop trails to you”),
  • Pope John Paul II (His Colonelness),
  • Muhammad Ali (“float like an admiral, sting like an army ant”),
  • Tiger Woods (who prefers privates), and
  • Mae West (“Why don’t you come up and see my bourbon some time?”).

What got me thinking today about Kentucky Colonels was, of course, my previous post. Harland Sanders was probably the most famous K(F)C of all.

But my thoughts didn’t spring only from my recent writing. Ever since I moved to Kentucky in October, wise-ass friends have been asking me, “When are you going to become a Colonel?”

I’m not big on honorifics. Even “Mr.” is too formal for my taste. When people call me “Mr. Wallberg,” my first thought is that they’re talking to my father. My second thought is that they’re nuts, because my father has been dead for more than thirty years.

But “Colonel” is different, because – outside of its actual military use – it’s hilarious. How can anyone take seriously a title associated primarily with a person who fried chicken for a living?

And that’s why I’d like to be a Kentucky Colonel. The comic value would be enormous. If I were a Kentucky Colonel, I could probably get laughs from humor that’s even more lame than my usual drivel. “Colonel” would surely come in handy on those occasions when the only joke I can think of is the one about the twelve-inch pianist. And apparently, I’m not the only comedian who has thought of that, because Betty White, the Smothers Brothers, and Phyllis Diller are all famous KC’s.

So why didn’t I ever try to become a New Yawk Colonel? Well, in order to be a Colonel in New Yawk, you actually have to be a colonel. Obviously, that’s not the case here in Kentucky, where Barry Manilow, Marie Osmond, and Bob Barker have all been named “Colonel.” The only use they’d be to the real military is if someone were needed to smile the enemy to death.

Anyway, today I visited the official Web site of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. I figured I could just fill out a form. “Yes, please make me a Kentucky Colonel, and rush me my official string tie.” But it turns out that “[t]o obtain a Kentucky Colonel Commission, an applicant must be recommended by an individual who holds a Colonel Commission.”

Uh-oh. I guess I’ll have to try getting a recommendation. Naturally, I flipped around the site to find a list of Colonels I knew. True to the state’s educational standards, the roster is alphabetized in order of first names. It’s like iTunes, except that the only song available is “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Anyway, I’m putting out the call to Johnny Depp, Jeff Foxworthy, Whoopi Goldberg, and Ashley Judd. (Sorry, but old sorting habits die hard.) And, of course, I’d be grateful to any veteran chicken-fryer who might want to recommend me.

In the meantime, readers of this corn are encouraged to call me Kernel.

Posted in New to Kentucky, Useless Lists | 7 Comments »

The Best of the Aughts

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 12/27/2009

It’s only December 27, but I’m already totally bored by the endless end-of-decade lists of ten best whatevers. In my opinion, nothing has been any good since 1959. Except maybe for (1) a bottle of 1982 Cos d’Estournel I bought in 1988, (2) Philip Roth’s “Zuckerman” series, (3) the Beatles from Rubber Soul to Sergeant Pepper’s, (4) the ubiquity of Sudoku, and (5) the Bitty Schram seasons of Monk.

I’ll bet you’re glutted on these ridiculous lists, too. But the blogger’s oath requires it, so I apologize in advance that you’ll have to suffer through this.

Ten Best Whatevers of the Aughts

  1. Decade only ten years long.
  2. Beano sometimes works.
  3. Possible to avoid watching American Idol if you don’t care to have any conversations with friends, relatives, casual aquaintances, or strangers.
  4. Terrorists prevented by Bush Administration from hiding in my refrigerator. Proof: from 2001-2008, no terrorists found hiding in my refrigerator.
  5. The French still make at least 265 kinds of cheese, 243 of which have been found hiding in my refrigerator.
  6. Squeaky Fromme oiled before release from prison in 2009.
  7. Rock ‘n’ roll continues to be here to stay.
  8. Obama first president in 16 years to speak without Southern accent.
  9. Useful word “octomom” no longer limited to female cephalopods.
  10. Bank bailouts shared equally by all indigent Americans, rather than being charged solely to my wife and me.

Readers, feel free to add any items to this list.

Posted in Useless Lists | 2 Comments »