Friday’s Forum

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Stormy Dragon says:

    First time in airport since starting transition.

    Got picked out for extra groping by the anti-trans scanners. *glare*

  2. Bill Jempty says:

    I expect to see more of this in the future. Should AI ever write a dung beetle story, we’re doomed.

    From AP-
    Sports Illustrated is the latest media company damaged by an AI experiment gone wrong

    NEW YORK (AP) —

    Computer-generated writers … writing computer-generated stories?

    Sports Illustrated is the latest media company to see its reputation damaged by being less than forthcoming — if not outright dishonest — about who or what is writing its stories at the dawn of the artificial intelligence age.

    The once-powerful publication said it was firing a company that produced articles for its website written under the byline of authors who apparently don’t exist. But it denied a published report that stories themselves were written by an artificial intelligence tool.

    Earlier this year, experiments with AI went awry at both the Gannett newspaper chain and the CNET technology website. Many companies are testing the new technology at a time when human workers fear it could cost jobs. But the process is fraught in journalism, which builds and markets its values-based products around the notions of truth and transparency.

    While there’s nothing wrong in media companies experimenting with artificial intelligence, “the mistake is in trying to hide it, and in doing it poorly,” said Tom Rosenstiel, a University of Maryland professor who teaches journalism ethics.

    “If you want to be in the truth-telling business, which journalists claim they do, you shouldn’t tell lies,” Rosenstiel said. “A secret is a form of lying.”


    Sports Illustrated, now run as a website and once-monthly publication by the Arena Group, at one time was a weekly in the Time Inc. stable of magazines known for its sterling writing. “Its ambitions were grand,” said Jeff Jarvis, author of “Magazine,” a book he describes as an elegy for the industry.

    On Monday, the Futurism website reported that Sports Illustrated used stories for product reviews that had authors it could not identify. Futurism found a picture of one author listed, Drew Ortiz, on a website that sells AI-generated portraits.

    The magazine’s author profile said that “Drew has spent much of his life outdoors, and is excited to guide you through his never-ending list of the best products to keep you from falling to the perils of nature.”

    Upon questioning Sports Illustrated, Futurism said all of the authors with AI-generated portraits disappeared from the magazine’s website. No explanation was offered.

    Futurism quoted an unnamed person at the magazine who said artificial intelligence was used in the creation of some content as well — “no matter how much they say that it’s not.”

    Sports Illustrated said the articles in question were created by a third-party company, AdVon Commerce, which assured the magazine that they were written and edited by humans. AdVon had its writers use a pen name, “actions we don’t condone,” Sports Illustrated said.

    “We are removing the content while our internal investigation continues and have since ended the partnership,” the magazine said. A message to AdVon wasn’t immediately returned on Tuesday.

    In a statement, the Sports Illustrated Union said it was horrified by the Futurism story.

    “We demand answers and transparency from Arena group management about what exactly has been published under the SI name,” the union said. “We demand the company commit to adhering to basic journalistic standards, including not publishing computer-written stories by fake people.”

  3. Bill Jempty says:

    Come fly with me*…..

    From ABC

    Ask most people what the annual U.N. climate talks are and the likely answer will be: “Huh?” Ask those who do know and the answer may be: “Why should I care?”

    The negotiations, called Conference of Parties, are nearly two weeks long and in their 28th iteration in Dubai. Delegates use wonky terms like “NDCs” “1.5 degrees” and “loss and damage,” not exactly conversation starters at parties. Any final decision is non-binding, meaning countries can agree to something and then not follow through. And when tens of thousands of people travel to the event, a lot of greenhouse gas emissions are produced, which is contrary to the entire point of the conference.

    So why bother?

    Thousands of people flying to a conference on climate change Airplanes are huge emitters of C02 and there is such a thing as skype, facebook etc.

    Back in the 1970’s, my father used to ask why there is auto racing if we’re in a energy crisis.

    Reminder to me- The world is illogical.

    *- I must be in a music frame of mind right now. Yesterday I directly or indirectly referred to ‘A slow boat to China’ and ‘A hundred million miracles’ in my next ebook.

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Air travel accounts for about 1-3% (we’ll say 2!) of global emissions. I’m fine with global leaders criss-crossing the world every day if it means forging treaties that will actually result progress. Unfortunately…

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    What if all the anti-gay, homophobic rhetoric that has come from the Christian right over these past few decades was rooted in a mistranslation of the Bible?

    In the documentary, 1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture, researchers and scholars delve into the 1946 mistranslation of 1 Corinthians 6:9 and explore how it fuelled the Christian anti-gay movement that still thrives today.

    The film hinges its premise on the fact that the word “homosexual” appeared for the first time in the Bible in 1946, in an apparent mistranslation of the ancient Greek words malakoi – defined as someone effeminate who gives themselves up to a soft, decadent, lazy and indolent way of living – and arsenokoitai – a compound word that roughly translates to “male bed”. While people could take it to mean man bedding man, within the context of the time, scholars believed that arsenokoitai alluded more to abusive, predatory behavior and pederasty than it does homosexuality.

    The director and producer Sharon “Rocky” Roggio documents the journey of the Christian author Kathy Baldock and Ed Oxford, an advocate and gay man who grew up Southern Baptist, as they dug through archives at the Yale Sterling Memorial Library. There, they discovered correspondence between the head of the translation committee and a gay seminary student in which the committee head conceded with the student’s point about the mistranslation. In the next translation in 1971, the committee changed the translation from homosexual to “sexual perverts” – but by then the damage was done. Hundreds of millions of Bibles with the wrong translation had been published, and conservative religion and conservative politics soon banded together to push an anti-gay agenda.

    Not gonna weigh in on the specifics of whether or not 1 Corinthians 6:9 has been mistranslated or not (as so many other parts of the Bible have been) but 1946 is fairly recent in terms of history, so they should have had a wealth of materials and even a few witnesses to the 1971 “correction”.

    Either way, I’d like to learn more of Kathy Baldock’s and Ed Oxford’s stories.

    eta: as well as the filmmaker’s

  6. Scott says:

    I’ve been banging (along with a couple of other folks here) about the dangers of Christian Nationalism to our country and our American way of life. Tim Alberta has a book out and has been out and about on the book circuit.

    Most of you are isolated from this culture. I am not. The danger is there. Believe it.

    Here is one article from Politico that I recommend: The Bogus Historians Who Teach Evangelicals They Live in a Theocracy

    Hence the hero’s welcome Barton received when he rolled into FloodGate with his “American Restoration Tour.” Throughout his decades of public life — working for the Republican Party, becoming a darling of Fox News, advising politicians such as new House Speaker Mike Johnson, launching a small propaganda empire, carving out a niche as the American right’s chosen peddler of nostalgic alternative facts — Barton had never been shy about his ultimate aims. He is an avowed Christian nationalist who favors theocratic rule; moreover, he is a so-called Dominionist, someone who believes Christians should control not only the government but also the media, the education system, and other cultural institutions. Barton and his ilk are invested less in advancing individual policies than they are in reconceiving our system of self-government in its totality, claiming a historical mandate to rule society with biblical dogma just as the founders supposedly intended.

    Here is an interview I watched on CBS Sunday morning: White evangelicals, Trump, and a church in crisis

    It is 61/2 minutes. You should watch it.

  7. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The mistranslation of the early writings that became the Bible has been going on since even before Christ. Two books that I’ve read are:

    God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible by Adam Nicolson

    and Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman

    Then there are the writings that were completely excluded:

    The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels

    But who needs scholarship went it goes against your preexisting beliefs and conceptions.

  8. MWLib says:

    All three books are great reading and quite informative. Infallible word of God, not so much.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:
  10. Beth says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    In the “early” days of my transition my partner and I were still negotiating how our lives would work and if we’re were going to stay together. We decided we would take a weekend trip to Vegas and I would present as female the whole time. So we drove to MN to drop off the kids with her parents and we’re going to fly out of St. Paul.

    At this point I was too chicken to wear my full outfit to and from MN (and I wasn’t quite out to her parents). I did however wear a light bralette. Well, they set the pervert scanner to male and my bra triggered an anomaly. The world’s oldest TSA agent toddered up to check me out. Think 900 year old MN grandpa, heavy accent, everything.

    When he got up to me he was like “uh, sir, there’s an anomaly on your shoulder.” In an early preview of my life goal of making it someone else’s problem, I lifted up my shirt and proudly exclaimed “that’s my bra!” Friends, that man turned bright red and died for a moment. He ended up just stammering and waiving me through.

    All in all that ended up being a great trip and a couple of months later I started on HRT. Marriage is strong as ever. The only downside was on the way back my MIL saw my bra and that started her descent into despising me. You know, I turned her daughter gay or some shit.

  11. Kathy says:

    The Bible is a miraculous book, No matter what it actually says, people find their biases and prejudices in it.

    As to morality, it does contain some useful lessons. However, it also contains lots of contradictions. This is natural. Rather than a book, it’s a collection of writings by different authors at different times under varying social mores and moral paradigms. Of course it’s rife with contradictions.

    Imagine you collected selected writings of American historians, philosophers, politicians, diplomats, business leaders, teachers, academics, scientists, etc. in a span from the 1650s to the 1880s. You would not expect a coherent, uniform moral code to emerge from this.

  12. steve says:

    Scott- That is my background and my family is deeply involved though I have joined my wife in becoming Episcopalian. (Music sucks but good otherwise.) This has been going on for a long time, Trump just being a more extreme example. If you have not, I would suggest reading David Kuo’s book Tempting Faith. He goes into detail how the Bush admin used evangelical leaders, often doing stuff that was illegal since the media largely ignored religion.

    It is a major concern of mine. When you think your politics is blessed, maybe even dictated, by God there are no limits on how radical you can behave to support that politics. I guess even as a teen I was already causing trouble asking why some of what was deemed as sin was not in the Bible but seemed like we were just taking things we didnt like and calling them sins, so maybe I was destined to leave the fold. Unlike Alberta I think it has materially affected my faith.


  13. Neil Hudelson says:

    Israel Knew Hamas’s Attack Plan More Than a Year Ago

    Israeli officials obtained Hamas’s battle plan for the Oct. 7 terrorist attack more than a year before it happened, documents, emails and interviews show. But Israeli military and intelligence officials dismissed the plan as aspirational, considering it too difficult for Hamas to carry out.

    The approximately 40-page document, which the Israeli authorities code-named “Jericho Wall,” outlined, point by point, exactly the kind of devastating invasion that led to the deaths of about 1,200 people.

    The translated document, which was reviewed by The New York Times, did not set a date for the attack, but described a methodical assault designed to overwhelm the fortifications around the Gaza Strip, take over Israeli cities and storm key military bases, including a division headquarters.

    Hamas followed the blueprint with shocking precision. The document called for a barrage of rockets at the outset of the attack, drones to knock out the security cameras and automated machine guns along the border, and gunmen to pour into Israel en masse in paragliders, on motorcycles and on foot — all of which happened on Oct. 7.

    The plan also included details about the location and size of Israeli military forces, communication hubs and other sensitive information, raising questions about how Hamas gathered its intelligence and whether there were leaks inside the Israeli security establishment.

    Gift-link above.

  14. Grumpy realist says:

    @Bill Jempty: I think I ran into another use of AI-generated writings yesterday—a headhunter trying to get me to sign up with her providing me with a sample executive summary of my abilities and a suggested resume.

    Needless to say, both were complete crap. Made me wonder—how in the heck are you expecting me to sign up for your services when you obviously haven’t even double-checked the stuff you’re expecting to lure me in with?

  15. Mister Bluster says:

    Sandra Day O’Conner has died.

  16. Scott says:


    since the media largely ignored religion

    I think the media is largely afraid of touching religion. They are bullied by the religionists (for want of a better term) and don’t know how to write or respond.

    As for music, I tend to be conservative (I’m also Episcopalian (the compromise between my Presbyterianism and wife’s Catholicism). Generally (grossly generally), I find older hymn’s lyrics to be about “us and community” and contemporary hymns about “me” as in “Jesus shine your light on ME!” Which is so American.

  17. Kingdaddy says:

    Here’s more from Tim Alberta, via Lawyers, Guns, and Money, about why Trumpism is a cult among many evangelicals.

    Bart Ehrman is excellent, as is Elaine Pagels. A couple of other books and authors I’d recommend, Biblical scholarship that evangelicals and fundamentalists might benefit from reading:

    Bruce Bawer, Stealing Jesus. Describes how fundamentalism came out of some very recent books more than the Bible itself.
    Bruce Chilton, Rabbi Jesus. Explores the Jewish roots of the New Testament stories. John Dominick Crossan is also good on putting the New Testament into an historical context.
    Karen Armstrong, The Battle For God. A fascinating exploration of fundamentalism in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

    Actually, I’d recommend these books and authors to anyone interested in the roots of Christianity (including fascinating topics like the multiple Christianities in the early days, the evolution of the texts, etc. etc.), the origins of variants like modern fundamentalism, and the degree to which many people’s concept of a Christianity based strictly on the Bible is actually interpretation piled on interpretation piled on more interpretations.

  18. DaveD says:
  19. Jen says:

    @Neil Hudelson: I saw that last evening when the news broke. I’m astonished that the plans were dismissed as aspirational. That is/was a huge blunder on the part of Israeli intelligence, military, and leadership.

    ETA: You can almost see that colonel tapping the female analyst on the head, telling her not to worry, can’t you? Turns out, she was right. UGH.

  20. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    When he was no longer able to live at home, O’Connor’s husband was institutionalized with Alzheimer’s, where he fell in love with a fellow patient. He no longer recognized Sandra nor their kids. Sandra was said to be happy that his final years were happy.

  21. DaveD says:
  22. Steve says:

    The Hamas plans were deemed aspirational but they were really opportunistic. Once the IDF was largely deployed to the West Bank they had their opportunity.


  23. Bill Jempty says:


    I saw that last evening when the news broke. I’m astonished that the plans were dismissed as aspirational. That is/was a huge blunder on the part of Israeli intelligence, military, and leadership.

    ETA: You can almost see that colonel tapping the female analyst on the head, telling her not to worry, can’t you? Turns out, she was right. UGH.

    What happened in Israel reminds me of the movie World War Z. A really bad movie*.

    Anyway, Israel erects a wall around Jerusalem because they heard early intelligence about the zombies. Intelligence didn’t believe it but went by what they called the 10th man theory instead.

    Jerusalem is destroyed in the end because too loud a singing brings the zombies and they form a pyramid. As I said a really bad movie. Don’t get me started on the film crash in the film, how it started, how it ended and how two people walked away from it, a recent do it yourself amputee and somebody just impaled.

    *- World War Z was only rated pg13 , if it had graphic violence aka people getting even I would have avoided it. Wished I did. You can tell I don’t have a taste for zombie films.

  24. de stijl says:

    I was up fairly early this morning and decided to clean the kitchen. No real reason, it wasn’t particularly unclean. I just started on one countertop and continued on. A way to kill time.

    I noticed two bits of kitchen equipment I never use, but are built in.

    1. The insinkerator, the Dispose-All. (Both are absolutely great fucking words, btw.) The thingy inside one my sinks intended to grind and liquefy organic food waste.

    I never use that. Why would I? I get garbage pick-up every Monday. What’s the point?

    Twice a year or so I dump a tray of ice cubes and a cut up lemon into it to clean it out. It’s shockingly loud once you turn it on. Does anyone actually use their insinkerator for its intended purpose? Why?

    2. Dishwasher.

    In six years I have never used my dishwasher. Not even once. In fact, I don’t even know if it works or not. It’s Schroedinger’s dishwasher!

    I live alone. I clean up after myself. I sort of forget it exists and I own it. I use my dishwasher as storage for my stock pot and other infrequently used kitchen crap. I use it as a cupboard, basically.

    Dish washing by hand works perfectly fine.

  25. Bill Jempty says:

    George Santos has been expelled. What’s he going to do now, become a used car salesman or a talking head?

  26. Modulo Myself says:


    I’d recommend Emmanuel Carrere’s The Kingdom. It deals with what Judaism was like in the Roman Empire between Jesus’ crucifixion and the destruction of the second temple. The book is also about Luke researching and learning about Jesus’ life.

    Carrere is 100% on the Jesus was a real person side of the debate. He says that some of the stories in the Gospels are true in the same way that amateur porn is true: it happened and was not scripted. Whereas others are like real porn: they’re scripted and with pros and utterly untrue.

  27. Jen says:

    @de stijl:

    Does anyone actually use their insinkerator for its intended purpose? Why?

    We had a disposal in our last house. I used it, because getting rid of some dish detritus that way keeps the garbage from stinking up too quickly. Alas, my husband has an annoying habit of chucking his teaspoons in the sink, which would inevitably end up in the disposal. Almost all of our teaspoons bear the marks of being chomped on by the disposal.

    Dish washing by hand works perfectly fine.

    I cook, my husband does the dishes. He prefers to do them by hand. I insist on the dishwasher for a few things: large loads (the way he washes dishes is to have a running stream of water–for a lot of dishes, this is wasteful and uses more water than running the dishwasher would), and for sanitizing things (literally anything that touches raw poultry, with the exception of my knives, goes in the dishwasher).

  28. Neil Hudelson says:

    @de stijl:

    Oh yes, all the time I use my dispose-all. It’s far more environmentally friendly than tossing your organic waste into a fairly anaerobic plastic bag environment. (Composting is even better, which I do, but not for every single bit of food). It also helps guarantee that my outdoor trash bin’s odor doesn’t knock me over when it’s the day before trash pickup and some food waste has been in there for a week+. At the very least it’s used daily after rinsing out the sink post-cleanup, catching whatever tiny bits of food were left.

    Love my insinkerator!

    Dishwashing by hand works fine, emphasis on “fine.” It uses way more water, doesn’t get them as clean, and takes longer. But it works fine.

  29. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    My understanding is that historical consensus is that Jesus of Nazareth was likely a real person. His divinity, of course, is not a matter of historical record. But, he was likely a real person.

  30. de stijl says:


    Is 61/2 minutes 30.5 minutes?

  31. Kingdaddy says:

    @Modulo Myself: Many thanks for the recommendation!

  32. Modulo Myself says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    There’s little contemporary evidence that he existed, fwiw. One scholar said that was strange in a world as literate as the eastern Roman Empire. I think there’s a more radical take that Jesus was an actual philosophical concept of a neo-Platonic cult who ended up being reinterpreted as a human being after Paul.

  33. de stijl says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Best analogy ever!

  34. Rick DeMent says:

    Anyone know off hand how Santos will be replaced in the NY district? I’m kid of surprised they did it especially if the governor can appoint a replacement. Do they have to do a special election?

    Also … anything written by Karen Armstrong is good in my opinion. The “History of God” is a great read.

  35. Mister Bluster says:


    I did not know this.
    Another dimension of love.

  36. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    My take is simpler: messianic cult leaders were a dime a dozen at the turn of that millenia. Why make one up when you can grab any random dead cult leader and have a much stronger backstory, and a prebuilt following?

    It also raises questions of process. What is more likely, a cult is formed around nothing and no one, realizes that’s a big weakness, and then creates a fictional person to be the progenitor of their beliefs? Or, cult existed because the cult leader made the cult, cult leader dies, cult evolves into widespread religion. It’s a not exactly an uncommon occurrence! I arrived at that theory through debate with a friend, the type of friend who is like me–will argue just for the sake of arguing.

    “Jesus was invented by the council of Nicea!”

    “Oh, ok. Why was there a council of Nicea?”

    “Jesus’s cult had grown too large with too many diverging stories.”

    “Jesus’s cult? He does exist?”

    “No, c’mon dude, I clearly mean the cult that created him. It grew too large, and its leaders had to get their stories straight.”

    “How did that cult form?”

    “Like most cults probably.”

    “Pretend I dont’ know how cults form, what was the likely process?”

    “I dunno, they started following some dude and latched onto his beliefs.”

    “So really your contention is that there was a creator of Christianity somewhere at sometime, he just couldn’t have been named Jesus of Nazareth? Would this argument go away if we called him Kevin?”

    “I–…dude, you’re just being difficult now.”

  37. KM says:

    Why is contrast so disgusting? In fact, why are meds bitter and disgusting at all unless there’s a legit reason for it?

    I know some chemistry cannot be overcome but come on, it’s almost 2024. There has to be something you can put in medication that won’t cause adverse reactions and makes things not taste like ass or bitter garbage water. Taste aversion is a strong biological motivator so you’d think that making meds not be nasty would be a great way to ensure compliance!

  38. EddieInCA says:

    @Jen: @Neil Hudelson:

    Zero Dark Thirty all over again. The USA could have killed Bin Laden much sooner if they had listened to the 5-1 inch woman who kept telling them, “He’s there. Right there. RIGHT FUCKING THERE!!” But they ignored her until they couldn’t.

  39. MarkedMan says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    George Santos has been expelled. What’s he going to do now

    Well, it won’t be long until he is making license plates…

  40. Mister Bluster says:

    Santos: “It’s all theater.”

    He’s so far off Broadway he’s not even a high school play.

  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: I have Misquoting Jesus on a bookshelf somewhere around here, good book. Had not heard of the other 2. Thanx for the tip.

  42. Daryl says:

    @Bill Jempty:
    Over 100 R’s voted to expel Santos, who has 23 charges against him, but still support Trump who has 91 charges against him.
    MAGAt’s are morons.

  43. MarkedMan says:

    This is from a few days ago, but that Elon Musk interview is just astounding. He comes across as an angry and petulant teen, inches away from either storming into his room and slamming the door or throwing himself on the floor and having a tantrum. But I keep coming back to the self destruction inherent in this specific inability to exercise even a modicum of self control. He specifically calls out Bob Iger! (CEO of Disney). By name and with him present in the audience! Imagine how that conversation is now going to go in a thousand other boardrooms: “As your ad agency, we recommend going all in on Twitter!”, “Wait, the company whose CEO denigrates you publicly if you decide not to renew, and calls CEO’s like me out by name? So, yes, you are fired.”

    And Linda Yaccarino! I said a couple of months ago that if she didn’t resign her reputation would be irretrievably trashed. I think that moment has arrived. The fact that she didn’t quit yesterday says she’s a lightweight and not to be taken seriously.

  44. just nutha says:

    @DaveD: Cue one of our pro-IDF people noting that only killing X% of the civilian population is a heck of a way to run an indiscriminate warfare process and charging the authors with being surrender monkeys.

  45. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    There’s little contemporary evidence that he existed, fwiw. One scholar said that was strange in a world as literate as the eastern Roman Empire.

    There’s little contemporary* evidence that any individual messianic cult leader existed back then, yet history tells us that Judea at the turn of the millennia was rife with messianic cults. Almost all of them were small potatoes and would not have attracted the attention of many contemporary historians. Tacitus and Josephus, however, did write about a cult leader from Nazerath named Jesus who was executed by the Romans under Pontius Pilate for rabble rousing (or whatever term they used).

    Similarly, despite Elizabethan England being awash in artists, no contemporary likeness of Shakespeare exists. The three, and only three, sources we have all portray clearly different people, none of which are necessarily Billy. History is weird.

    *It should be noted that ‘contemporary’ accounts back then were often not written down until many decades had passed after the events in question, especially when it came to Judaic history. Oral traditions still abounded.

  46. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Neil Hudelson: That’s such a great example of a kind of discourse/argument that we see in politics all the time. “Jesus didn’t exist!” is a claim that is meant to be a catchphrase denial of the validity of Christian religious belief. It isn’t really meant to be a claim about particular facts, but it’s wearing the costume of a particular literal fact.

    I feel like I’ve had the conversation you’ve described several times, just on different topics.

  47. Michael Cain says:

    @Rick DeMent: Representatives must be replaced by election. Whether that will be at the next general election, or if there will be a special election, varies by state. In NY’s case there will be a special election within 90 days or so.

  48. Bill Jempty says:


    Well, it won’t be long until he is making license plates…

    Oh I forgot this organization is hiring.

    Assassination and Espionage
    *Preference given to former quiz masters, disc jockeys, used car salesman, TV repairmen,
    and politicians.

    One last thing before I go.

    KAOS is a Delaware Corporation* and an equal opportunity employer. You’ll be joining an excellent bunch of guys!

    But will they want Santos?

    *- The Chief told 86 it was for tax purposes.

  49. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    is a claim that is meant to be a catchphrase denial of the validity of Christian religious belief.

    I think at one point that may have been the case, but I don’t know if that’s the case anymore. The debates I read on the internet, have in real life, and some of the contemporary books written on the subject recently (Azlan’s “Zealot,” Bart Ehrman’s “Did Jesus Exist?” etc) are engaged in a conversation over historicity, not divinity or validity of Christian beliefs.

  50. Modulo Myself says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I mean, there’s just little contemporary evidence that Jesus existed except texts written about him long after he ascended to heaven and that’s why there is actual doubt. Paul never met him. The Gospels were written almost 50 years later, and they lack any sort of intentionality. And reconciling early Christianity (where everyone is still kinda Jewish) with the Catholic Church isn’t possible without the Roman Empire, Constantine, and power, none of which the Jesus in the Gospels is particularly into.

    With Shakespeare, we have works authored by a William Shakespeare and performed at the Globe. You have to invent a secretive conspiracy to say that Shakespeare didn’t exist. With Jesus, you don’t. It’s just human error and longing which could have tied together some actual myths and stories from Judea along with a few real things that happened/were said by a few people all kinda alike and then the fictions of some fanatics and there you have it–the stories that circulated about ‘Jesus’ which became the Gospels.

  51. MarkedMan says:

    There was an article about internal Israel politics a couple of days ago that go me thinking. I can’t find a link now, but it was basically talking about how the opposition might make a real push against Netanyahu over his releasing hundreds of millions of additional shekels to the settlers and Hasidic community, apparently in violation of the agreement that created the current united government. But it got me thinking: does the opposition even want Netanyahu out? Right now, it’s his war, it’s his fault. And while virtually the entire country is united in bombing the shit out of Gaza from afar, eventually there needs to be a ground assault, with all the concomitant dead and wounded Israeli soldiers, prisoners, hostages, etc. Wouldn’t it be better for the opposition if that sat on Netanyahu’s shoulders too? I mean, while the Israeli army is like ours in that it is primarily volunteer, it’s unlike ours in that its frontline troops are as likely to be middle aged men and women with deep roots in the community as it is to be 18 year olds fresh out of boot camp.

    Israel is at a turning point and if this thing about “Military Chat GPT” choosing the bombing targets pans out, there are going to be a lot of angry supporters in the US and the rest of the world, the Very Serious People who were assuring us that the reason the Israelis needed to aerial bomb this hospital or that university despite the loss of thousands of civilian lives was because the they had incontrovertible evidence that Hamas was embedded in the middle of it all. If that evidence turns out to be “Hey Alexa, who should I bomb?” you will see a hell of a lot more reluctance to publicly give the Israelis the benefit of the doubt.

  52. just nutha says:

    @de stijl: I liked my insinkerator. It was very convenient to be able to peel and trim vegetables into the sink rather than on to newspaper (what we did in my childhood). And the argument that the dishwasher uses less water than hand-washing dishes seems credible to me. Fortunately, we live in America so using vast quantities of otherwise potable water washing dishes isn’t that much of an issue.

    Having said these things, I don’t particularly miss either appliance.

  53. de stijl says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I use one plate repeatedly. One glass. One set of silverware. Not actual silver, it’s stainless steel, but you get the picture.

    If I were to use my dishwasher to clean up after myself, that would be entirely impractical. It would be like running one day’s clothes through a washing machine and dryer cycle three times a day.

    I’m going to use that dish and those same silverware pieces again roughly 4 to 6 hours from now. Daily. From now until death.

    Were I to run my dishwasher it would be to clean one plate, one knife, one fork, one spoon, one glass, one spatula. Three times a day. That would be insane.

    Plus, I don’t even know if the thing actually works.

    I own exactly four plates. Six, if you count the plastic ones. I use one. Three have never been used and sit in a cupboard collecting dust. I own four sets of silverware / utensils. Three sets sit in a drawer collecting dust.

    A dishwasher, to me, is entirely superfluous. It exists as an infrequently used storage compartment.

  54. just nutha says:

    @Daryl: Santos is a gay?/pseudo gay? huckster with no national following hence the difference in acceptance level.

  55. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Well, nobody would be writing or reading books about this argument if it didn’t have some greater meaning, right?

    I recall how impressed I was by how well the novel The Name of the Rose described how a minor theological point – did Jesus own any property? – had major political/social ramifications, even while some of those engaged in that debate didn’t realize how it pertained, and saw it only as an intellectual exercise.

    By the way, I’m with you on this. How could this person not exist? Sure, they made up stories about him after the fact, but there had to be someone to make up the stories about. Honestly, I think it’s likely that John the Baptist existed, too.

  56. Bill Jempty says:

    A dishwasher, to me, is entirely superfluous.

    An amusing family tale of mine from around 1974 or 1975 when my family was still living in New York.

    We got our first dishwasher. My younger brother*, was going to answer some forms that came with the machine such as have had a a dishwasher before. George was going to write Yes and forty-two or forty-three years old. Our mother wasn’t amused.

    Then after Mom loaded the dishwasher for the first time, we watched it run. My youth- watching dish washers and harness horses run.

    *- George and I have never gotten along. If he liked something I’d keep my distance from it. He was a NY Giants football fan, liked Benny Hill, Professional Wrestling and the rock group Kiss. Enough said?

  57. Bill Jempty says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I recall how impressed I was by how well the novel The Name of the Rose

    I tried reading that novel once and found it heavier going than Moby Dick or any post The Spy who came in from the Cold novel of John La carre. I didn’t finish TNOTR.

  58. just nutha says:

    @Jay L Gischer: The nature of religious hegemony is fascinating to me. I don’t believe in lots of religions–way more in number than the ones with which I share beliefs–yet I feel no need to discredit the validity of any of them. Hmmm…

  59. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    The Gospels were written almost 50 years later

    The early ones. Some were written even later. The thing is, though, that’s not evidence that they are ahistorical. A 50 year gap between events and the recording of the events was not exactly uncommon at that time, even expected. That was my point about oral traditions with Judaic scholars at the time. I think you are assuming we have a far more complete historical record of Roman times than we do. With Tacitus, considered one of the greatest Roman historians (and, should be noted, wrote about Jesus contra your point), only portions of two of his works survive to this day; many of the accounts we have from Roman historians are just fragments of their whole work, or have been completely lost.

    It should be noted that what I’m saying is not fringe–the historicity of a person named Jesus of Nazareth is accepted by nearly all scholars on the subject. Mythical Jesus is considered the fringe belief.

    My point re: Shakespeare was not to try to say that Shakespeare didnt’ exist, or that we could infer he didn’t because of the lack fo portraits, but rather to point out that judging a historical record by the amount of mentions in remaining histories centuries or millennia after the people in question exists can lead to a lot of false notions of how complete a historical record we have.

  60. CSK says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    Santos will be replaced by special election.

  61. Modulo Myself says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Yeah, I think he existed too. Jesus was a marginal and unusual figure who doesn’t make a lot of sense even within myth. He’s some poor uneducated guy roaming around Galilee and saying incredible things in a state of slight confusion who ends up disappointing many people with his predictions.

    So if you believe he existed you are basically he’s too true for fiction. Whereas the resurrection seems easily like a fiction. (The X-Men came back from the dead about a 100 times, I think.) It’s less true than the guy who embraced lepers and prostitutes. But there’s doubt about the historical Jesus because being too true for fiction is not that great of a scholarly argument.

  62. Bill Jempty says:


    Santos will be replaced by special election.

    That’s normal except if you watched The West Wing. Show was set in alternate for that reason, plus Vermont bordering Ontario, and L-1-1011 jets still being built in the late 1990s.

  63. just nutha says:

    @Bill Jempty: I hadn’t finished Foucault’s Pendulum so reading TNOTR never registered on my radar at all. I did like some of Eco’s essays on semiotics though.

  64. de stijl says:


    Keep on being you, becoming you. Don’t let crap like that dishearten you.

    One time TSA pegged my shoulder bag as a possible explosive device. A chemical sniffer pinged it as possibly nefarious.

    I was a cigarette smoker at the time, pack a day plus. I lived in a small one bedroom apartment. I was unbeknowst basically hot-boxing my messenger bag with a crap ton of outcast tobacco smoke. The sniffer read that as PDX or something.

    One burly dude backed me into a corner kinda menacingly. Three folks were waving wands over it and conferring. Dudes, it’s a messenger bag. It contains one laptop, three pens, and a legal pad. Maybe a forgotten receipt from a few years back. It’s not an explosive device! I pinky swear!

    They were alerted by technology that had a false positive. It was a very tense and intimidating 10 minutes or so. And I’m white, male, straight, and American born.

    The situation was very tense and uncool. They stopped conferring. One lady walked up and said “Please proceed, sir.”

    I picked up my bag and walked on to my gate.

  65. Beth says:

    @de stijl:

    I love my insinkerator. I shovel all organic food waste down it. EVERYTHING. Run the water and grind away. I’d prefer to compost but I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that I am not allowed to compost. As for the dishwasher, there are four of us and we are constantly out of bowls and spoons. It’s a constant battle with my ADHD demon to keep the dishwasher moving. The biggest problem for me is that I have to regularly clean both the disposal and the dishwasher or they both stink to high hell.


    So, I’m guilty of letting the insinkerator occasionally snacking on spoons. The bigger fight my partner and I had was our idiot cat suddenly decided he would eat wet food. My partner feeds the little moron and for some reason she would just toss the cans and lids into the sink. I was in the process of telling her to knock that off when I turned it on and heard the awful squeal of sheering metal. In response she turned it off (not disconnected, no no no, just off) and stuck her hand in there and rooted around for all the little pieces. I almost fainted, I couldn’t handle it. She was like, “what, I solved the problem.” Sometimes she’s very Dude.

    @de stijl:

    Thanks. Lol, at my core I’m a brat. I only have two ways of dealing with authority, absolutely freeze or get bratty. “oh, you want to try and exert authority over me? good luck, make me!” I just start saying weird things, flirting, being annoying. Whatever it takes to make authority uncomfortable.

  66. Gustopher says:


    If that evidence turns out to be “Hey Alexa, who should I bomb?” you will see a hell of a lot more reluctance to publicly give the Israelis the benefit of the doubt.

    Most people made up their minds based on emotions long ago, and aren’t going to let facts get in the way.

  67. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    What’s he going to do now…

    Serve time

  68. MarkedMan says:

    @Modulo Myself: My understanding is that despite us having voluminous Roman records, virtually anything Jesus related that we would have expected to be documented comes up empty. For example, there is no record of a census in the time around Jesus birth. And from Wiki, I find this

    The only two events of this historical Jesus subject to “almost universal assent” are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate (who officiated 26–36 AD).[16].[5][6][7][8][note 4]

    But what is the evidence for these?

    The criterion of embarrassment has been used to argue for the historicity of the baptism of Jesus, shown here in The Baptism of Christ by Juan Fernández Navarrete.

    American biblical scholar and Catholic priest John P. Meier maintained that the early Christian Church would not have invented the painful death of their leader.[17] A similar “criterion of embarrassment” is used to argue in favor of the historicity of the baptism of Jesus,[18][19][2] given that John baptised for the remission of sins, although Jesus was viewed as without sin and this positioned John above Jesus.

    Seems pretty lame to me.

  69. Gustopher says:

    @Bill Jempty: I assume Santos will file for unemployment. It’s the first thing anyone should do when they lose a job. If you pay into the system, you should absolutely use it.

    Is being expelled by a vote of your coworkers after an ethics investigation being “fired for cause”?

    The most eye catching allegations are of misuse of campaign funds, so it’s not even related to his job performance. He showed up on time, voted his terrible votes, etc. I think he has a plausible case if his former employers try to contest his unemployment claims.

  70. de stijl says:


    Mom, it’s not a phase! I’m edgy and emo for life!

  71. Beth says:

    I’d just like to say that I’m halfway to winning that political tontine. WOOO! [fires gun into the air].

    Seriously though, anyone know if the top of their heads what the balance of power is, I think they are down to like 3, with maybe some open seats? that sound about right? My ADHD demon says we’re not doing work today and he thinks that’s work.

  72. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Okay, this seems like better proof to me than the “criterion of embarassment”:

    Another account of Jesus appears in Annals of Imperial Rome, a first-century history of the Roman Empire written around 116 A.D. by the Roman senator and historian Tacitus. In chronicling the burning of Rome in 64 A.D., Tacitus mentions that Emperor Nero falsely blamed “the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius.”

    “When Tacitus wrote history, if he considered the information not entirely reliable, he normally wrote some indication of that for his readers,” Mykytiuk says in vouching for the historical value of the passage. “There is no such indication of potential error in the passage that mentions Christus.”

    And another:

    The first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who according to Ehrman “is far and away our best source of information about first-century Palestine,” twice mentions Jesus in Jewish Antiquities, his massive 20-volume history of the Jewish people that was written around 93 A.D.

    Thought to have been born a few years after the crucifixion of Jesus around 37 A.D., Josephus was a well-connected aristocrat and military leader in Palestine who served as a commander in Galilee during the first Jewish Revolt against Rome between 66 and 70 A.D. Although Josephus was not a follower of Jesus, “he was around when the early church was getting started, so he knew people who had seen and heard Jesus,” Mykytiuk says.

    In one passage of Jewish Antiquities that recounts an unlawful execution, Josephus identifies the victim, James, as the “brother of Jesus-who-is-called-Messiah.” While few scholars doubt the short account’s authenticity, says Mykytiuk, more debate surrounds Josephus’s lengthier passage about Jesus, known as the “Testimonium Flavianum,” which describes a man “who did surprising deeds” and was condemned to be crucified by Pilate. Mykytiuk agrees with most scholars that Christian scribes modified portions of the passage but did not insert it wholesale into the text.

  73. Bill Jempty says:

    Did you hear about the priest who back in time. He sees a man leading a donkey with an expectant mother on it.

    Priest says to Man: Are you Joseph?
    Man: Yes
    Priest says to Woman:Is your name Mary and you’re going to have a baby?
    Priest to both Joseph and Mary?: You’re going to name your child Jesus?”
    Man and Woman: Are you crazy, who do you think we are, Puerto Rican?”

    When me and the wife got married, one of our sponsors was Uncle Jess, short for Jesus.

  74. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    I need a re-do

    [Interior. Suburban house. Furnished and kitted out as middle class.]

    Camera sweep into POV shot of teen screaming at mother. Mid argument, in media res cold open.

    “It’s not a phase, mom!”

    Hard door slam. Teen, boy or girl? Doesn’t matter. Teen walks to vanity / dresser and sits down [thump!] Side chatter from the writer’s room “Why is there a chair in front of the dresser? That makes no fucking sense. Have you even met a teenager in real life, you hack? Have you ever seen an actual bedroom people live in? This is stupid. I’m done!”

    Ignores meta stuff.

    Teen sits down on the convenient chair directly in front of a conveniently placed mirror and confronts themselves hard. Eyeballs ablaze with passion.

    “I’m edgy and emo!” Raises fist and shakes it slightly, but meaningfully. Think Judd Nelson type here.

  75. Grumpy realist says:

    @KM: usually things like that are to keep inquisitive kids from chowing down the lot. The more obnoxious the medicine, the less likely lil’ Johnny will have gulped down multiple pills.

  76. Kingdaddy says:
  77. Scott says:

    @Kingdaddy: Money (in this case, oil) is the root of all evil.

  78. Grumpy realist says:

    @Bill Jempty: Interestingly enough I haven’t noticed that much difference between a French edition and an Italian edition of Foucault’s pendulum. Most works of literature I like to read in the original because of quirks with the translation. But Foucault’s Pendulum (ed. French) really does come off as being just the same as the (ed. Italian). Either that says something about Eco’s writings or says something about French vs. Italian.

    (I’m still looking for an Italian edition of Eco’s short article columns. He uses Italian puns enough that the English edition really misses a lot.)

  79. de stijl says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    I read The Name Of The Rose with no problem. Umberto Eco can be dense and impenetrable at times, but I found that book pretty straightforward.

    I learned about the Cathars and what is considered heresy.

    I was kinda raised somewhat sorta Lutheran, but I never really paid any of that stuff much attention. It was a thing I was obligated to do. No offense to religious folk, it’s just not my deal. I dipped out quick as I could, and quietly. No need to offend or confront my believing relatives. Just quietly noped out.

    Even went to see the movie. Not bad. An okay visual retelling of the book. It didn’t entirely suck. Christian Slater was badly miscast.

  80. Jay L Gischer says:

    I really don’t know what to think of this: The Red State Brain Drain Isn’t Coming. It’s Happening Right Now..

    It kinda makes sense, and yet it fits the categories of “things I want to believe” so that engages a certain skeptical muscle. Also, it’s a trend story, which also has me suspicious.

    I also wonder, if this is accurate, and professionals are leaving red states, what is the endgame? Is there a process that will restore a better equilibrium? Or are we just going to see a long, long, slow decline in life quality in states like Oklahoma. (But houses are cheap there!).

  81. JohnSF says:

    The Gnostic Gospels are fascinating, but are problematic as historical documents of events, as opposed to interpretations and opinions.
    They took the highly (heretically) Judaic slant of early Christianity, and filtered it through the Hellenic/Syriac traditions of neo-Platonism, dualism, and magical/mystical esotericism.
    They are very interesting; but drove the both the early Judeo-Christians, and mainstream “Pauline” Christians, up the wall due to their tendency to create elaborate mythological and allegorical constructs on insecure foundations.

    As can be seen by the one example of the kind that sidled into the canonical New Testament: the Revelations of St John.
    Which quite a few early churchmen, not to mention Luther, were rather dubious about.

    “.. it makes me consider it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic.”

  82. JohnSF says:


    “Music sucks but good otherwise.”

    I don’t know about US Episcopalians, but in the UK it’s generally conceded the Anglicans (the UK variant) have the best tunes.
    Having (mainly) dodged the post-Vatican II Catholic swing to “sing-along-with-guitar” horror. 🙂
    If you can access it, check out BBC Radio 3 “Choral Evensong” sometime.
    Even agnostic me finds it generally pleasing on aesthetic and traditionalist grounds.

  83. just nutha says:

    @JohnSF: And yet, it’s the undisputed star of the show for Fundies*, 7th-day Adventists, and some groups of evangelicals. Again, hmmmm…

    *I’ve belonged to more than 2 congregations that did extensive–as in months long–sermon/lesson series on The Revelation of St. John and been invited to countless week-long Adventist Church events.–At least one a year, and many years since I got my own mail address at 22.

  84. de stijl says:

    After the death of Shane MacGowan yesterday, I’ve listened to about 12 hours of songs from The Pogues.

    MacGowan was distinctly off-hand about death and mortality. Passively cynical. He knew it always ends with death. Celebrated hope, but knew it was doomed. Marble-mouth slatternly drunkard.

    My younger self was right in marking them high on the list of shit you should listen to. And not just because a magazine writer told me I ought to. By my own sense and taste.

    My favorite remains Thousands Are Sailing. That’s a nearly perect song…

  85. de stijl says:


    Heck, half of Bach’s output is church music.

    Well, not half, but a goodly portion.

  86. Kathy says:

    So, I got my new phone.

    It’s a Samsung, as rumor had it. It seems ok now. It has 64GB storage, plus 32 on an SD card I bought like three phones ago (ie much more storage than I’ll ever use). According to the phone’s own stats, 2.2GB RAM, which strikes me as odd. I assume it’s 3 (still odd), but some is used up.

    I’ll see if this one can manage Waze and Audible/Everand/podcast at the same time.

    Then there’s the matter of deleting the bloatware, apps I won’t use (I’ve dealt with Fakebook and the other Meta stuff, except Whatsapp), apps I’ve no idea what they even are, then download apps I need. I’m worried in particular about the bank apps.

    One thing, when I tried charging it with the generic charger, which has charged phones for the last seven years, it wouldn’t charge. It did only when I used the included charger, regardless of cable. I don’t mind keeping it at work, I’ve an older Samsung charger at home. But I’m worried it won’t charge with the car’s charger, or the power bank. I depend on those for trips.

  87. JohnSF says:

    @Modulo Myself:
    Thing is, that a quite soon after the possible events, there is quite definitely a rather large “Jewish Christian” community in various places around Roman Judea, and Jerusalem in particular, and also evidence of a split into “Judaising” and “gentilising” (= Paul + others less recorded) groups based on degrees of adherence to established Jewish law.
    This rather indicates there was a recent historical basis for them to get upset with each other about.
    There is little reason for the Roman or Hellenistic ruling class to have much attention to what was, at first sight, just another Judaic splinter group (see Pharisees, Zealots, Essenes, etc). Not to mention the “semi-Judaic” groups who have since faded out: Samaritans, Idumaeans, etc.
    Who seem to have spread also among the Jewish and semi-Jewish pre-expulsion diaspora.

    It was only the post-Pauline rejection of much of the Jewish law (in particular, IMO, circumcision and kashrut) that really enabled the take-off of Christianity in the Empire (and largely in the Hellenized urban parts)

    It was only after that social evolution that the Romans had much cause to pay serious attention to the phenomenon.

  88. just nutha says:

    @de stijl: Half may well be right. A fair number of the fugues are service music rather than concert music in the practical sense.

  89. JohnSF says:

    @just nutha:
    A comment from an Anglican cleric of my acquaintance:

    “Revelations is the best argument for not having a vernacular Bible”

    He was being ironic, being an an Anglican 🙂
    (Same gentleman also tended to refer to US Evangelicals as “both heretics and lunatics” LOL)

    But it’s interesting that the Orthodox rather deprecate Revelations, Zwingli thought it “not of the Bible”, and some “Eastern Christians” have never regarded it as canonical.
    I suspect Thomas Aquinas could have eyerolled enough to power a gigawatt-scale generator when it comes to some modern Christians.

  90. Roger says:

    As long as we’re recommending books, I’d add The End of White Christian America for a look at how the demographic changes in America have exacerbated evangelical fears (though I think the author was a little overly aggressive in his projections for how change would occur) and Jesus and John Wayne for the history at how the teachings of Jesus got exchanged for the ethos of the Duke in the evangelical right.

  91. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:
    “Christian” music is one of my interests.
    It’s at the core of the “old Western Canon” IMO.

    As you say, Bach, who wrote for both Protestant and Catholic usages.
    And too many other composers to even begin to list.
    Almost every one of the “greats” has done a mass or requiem.
    And then there’s the pre-18th century stuff.
    Byzantine and Gregorian chant; Hildegard; Machaut; Byrd; Tallis; etc etc
    And a modern personal favourite: Faure.

    And I have a fond memory of hearing the monks of Solesmes evensong one summer evening thirty years ago.

  92. JohnSF says:

    I’d be inclined to be a bit cautious about journalists interpretations of the use of AI re. IDF operations.
    I’ve been told by persons with reasons to know that UK uses “AI”, as loosely defined, to identify and track potential “hostiles”.
    More accurately, it’s using pattern-recognition algorithms to filter possible actionable information out of vast masses of “noise”.
    Almost certainly, the IDF are using similar approaches to try to fix and target Hamas commanders.

    If they are not using humans to evaluate the AI data, then they are idiots.
    On the whole the IDF, as opposed to the Israeli governments of late, are not idiots.

    Given a constrained capacity to hit evaluated targets, handing it over to a robotic process would be bug-fuck nuts.

  93. JohnSF says:

    I wonder, if the UK govt is awake (a big question, given the idiocy of the Conservatives) whether sending HMS Prince of Wales and whatever else can be scraped together (RN readiness assets: *sobs*) on a friendly visit to Georgetown might be a good idea.

  94. Kathy says:

    Fine day to be stuck under Hell Week loads….

    There are many reasons why Christianity ascended in the Roman world. As noted already, it took time doing so. One reason was the cultural climate, where mystery cults proliferated. There was some search for spirituality, too, that the Roman state religion didn’t quite provide. Then, too, it wasn’t unheard fo for the Jewish god, Jehovah, to be worshiped by other pagans, either alone or in syncretism with other gods.

    Consider how many people in the Roman empire were poor and dispossessed, how many were powerless and dominated by others. Christianity would appeal to them, a lot. In particular to the more spiritual ones, seeing as they’d be rewarded in the afterlife.

    When Christianity began to spread, Roman elites largely dismissed it as “a religion for women and slaves.” Take them at their word. Still, this does not explain how it became popular with the army, and then with the nobility and the emperor.

  95. JohnSF says:

    Other international news:
    Sudan continues to go to hell in a hand-basket.
    And, no, this is not something you can shrug and ignore.
    The Emiratis, and the Russians, and the jihadis, are in the mix; and increasingly the entire Sahel is “in play”.
    As the French are inclined, absent wider support, to say “so long, and thanks for all the fish”.
    See also events in Guinea-Bissau.
    Try to ignore it, and it will bite you in the ass eventually.

  96. JohnSF says:

    OTOH, good news?
    The regime in Burma (I refuse to use Myanmar, because reasons) seems to be on the back foot.
    It rather looks like the junta was expecting China to help secure the frontiers; but ignored how much they had annoyed Beijing by permitting internet “scam factories” targeting China to operate in the frontier zones.
    Also pissing off almost every other country in south-east Asia.

  97. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Or are we just going to see a long, long, slow decline in life quality in states like Oklahoma.

    Just got to say that that “long, long, slow decline in life quality in states like Oklahoma,” Arkansas, and Misery has been happening for at least the past 2o-30, maybe 40 years.

  98. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: I started my long slog away from the “Biblical” fundamentalism I was raised with (and the kinder and gentler evangelicalism I tried in early adulthood) as Ralph Reed started convincing pastors and church leaders that “we really CAN run this place if we work at it.” Even as a relentlessly homophobic teenager who would have approved of running the country via “God’s Laws,” I still knew that it wasn’t a path that the country would be able to take because even in my youth, I realized that “Biblical Christianity” was a minority position. You can’t force people to be good (well, I suppose you can if your approach is draconian enough…) and it doesn’t address the issues of redemption/salvation/grace/separation from God/whatever anyway.

  99. MarkedMan says:


    I’d be inclined to be a bit cautious about journalists interpretations of the use of AI re. IDF operations.


  100. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF (in re: @just nutha): A measured response was something that I really didn’t foresee coming on this point. Thanks for elevating the acrimonious vituperation tone of the conversation on this issue (even if it turns out to be only just this once).

  101. steve says:

    JohnSF- I really love the Christmas music. The descants in the Davids Wilcocks arrangements are spine chilling. The opening part of Once In Royal Davids City from Kings and Trinity with the boy choirs combined with the amazing acoustics are awesome. Hope to see it in person before I die. We have gone to a number of Evensong services with the best one being the one we saw in San Francisco. That said, the stuff they sing during a normal service is not good in my estimation. We never sing the good stuff like Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing or It Is Well With My Soul.


  102. Beth says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The majority of people I deal with leaving IL are going to TX or FL. The smarter ones generally seemed resigned to it and are leaving for work related reasons. The idiots tell me to my face that they are going for more “freedom”. I just nod my head. The really dumb ones that piss me off get a very polite, bloodless lecture one how there “freedom” doesn’t apply to people like me.

    I tend to feel bad for moving to FL or AZ. They’re doomed. Between the seawater about to make Saudi Arabia look fertile (and above water) and the teachers fleeing, FL is gonna get a hard crash. I hope Ken Griffen loses his ass and Pritzker sends a dinghy to pick him up. AZ is just going to melt away. TX will probably make through by making as many people as possible suffer.

  103. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Acrimonious Vituperationus is definitely my Roman alternative identity. 😉

  104. JohnSF says:

    Family Christmas tradition: watching “Carols from Kings” on Christmas Eve.
    Dunno if you can access it overseas; but if you can, you might like it.

  105. Kathy says:

    Ah, Xlon has come up with a new language. I’ll call it Ecksish, in honor of his favorite letter.

    He says here, about attracting ads from small and medium-sized business, “Small and medium businesses are a very significant engine that we have definitely underplayed for a long time,”.

    Translated to English it means, “We’re going to hold a fire sale to lure smaller fry to give us money.”

    Further, “It [was] always part of the plan – now we will go even further with it.”

    Which means, “We would have gotten to them eventually, but really we’d hoped to increase ad sales by making the platform more toxic.”

    And the last: “I will certainly not pander” to big advertisers and warned them that they would be held responsible for any collapse of X.

    Translation: I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for these meddlesome advertisers!

    Gotta hand it to Xlon when it comes to plutocratic newspeak. In contrast to Adolph, inventor of trumpish, Xlon’s Ecksish does work for full sentences, even whole paragraphs. Quite a feat.

  106. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @de stijl:

    One time TSA pegged my shoulder bag as a possible explosive device. A chemical sniffer pinged it as possibly nefarious.

    Someday I’ll tell you about the time security insisted my ostomy bag was a nefarious device. Oh wait it was!


    Whatever it takes to make authority uncomfortable.

    Hence my taste in ties as demonstrated earlier this week.

  107. JohnSF says:

    Where are the Tleilaxu Face Dancers when you really need them?

  108. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    In some ways, the history of the modern Anglican Church, and of England for that matter, is being forced, often kicking and screaming, to give up the delusion of compulsion of faith.
    A process ongoing from 1660 to say 1944?
    The funny thing being, most Anglicans now consider the end of compulsion to have been a benefit.
    OTOH, I was educated in a State Anglican primary school.
    It is still the Church Established.
    And Anglican Bishops still sit in the House of Lords.
    (And, as an agnostic, long may they do so, especially as it really embarrasses them, LOL)

  109. JohnSF says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:
    Speaking of ties, earlier this week our idiot Conservative PM tried urgently to pick a fight with the PM of Greece re Elgin Marbles (google and regret) IMO because he was trying to curry favour with the idiot-Right media,
    Also, possibly because he’s a thin-skinned tetchy twit.
    Anyhoo, His Maj rocks up wearing a tie of amusing design.
    One of the most obvious “FY, you fool” gestures by a British monarch to a PM in recent history.

  110. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Also a GREAT band name, IMHO

  111. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    Uh, yeah, and I thought I was a luddite. Guess he’s trying to out-luddite me. What does he do for an encore?

  112. JohnSF says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:
    It’s a good thing I’m not the monarch.
    My rule would be harsh, yet unfair.
    Tyranny moderated only by apathy and sloth. 😉

  113. de stijl says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    The best band name I ever came up with was Free Beer. Possibly all caps FREE BEER with an exclamation point.

    Put an ad in the alt-weekly. Friday night at the Half Time Rec has FREE BEER! from 10 til closing time.

    It’s not technically misleading.

    Half of the people would be very pissed off that the bar charged full price for beer, but think of the gate receipts! Wrangle a percentage of the door money you’d be raking in the big bucks. Sipping champagne for breakfast.

  114. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    So you’d be the Regency Redux?

  115. DrDaveT says:

    @Grumpy realist:

    Either that says something about Eco’s writings or says something about French vs. Italian.

    Or about the quality of the translator. William Weaver, who translated Eco’s works* into English, is legendary among translators for the quality of his product.

    *Also those of Italo Calvino.

  116. Kathy says:

    You know there’s something wrong, but not with what, when you’re still working at 11:30 pm and you’re wondering whether it would be ok to leave before midnight.

    Well, how’s this for a misleading headline: South Korea launches first military spy satellite

    It is a South Korean spy satellite and it was launched. But not by South Korea. Xlon’x XpaceX managed the launch.

    When I saw the headline, I thought “I didn’t know South Korea had launch capabilities.” apparently they do not.

    And here, Adolph just saved his worthless life.

    Had any judge accepted his argument, then what Biden should do is have Adolph killed. Why not? He’d be presidentially immune from prosecution for the rest of his natural life. And had another of Adolph’s moron arguments been accepted by a court, The Adolph Spawn wouldn’t even have been able to sue for wrongful death.

    Well, I think it’s close enough to midnight now…

  117. de stijl says:


    Translation seems like damn hard work to me.

    You are basically rewriting the whole book line by line. The author intended this feeling this sentiment in the original text using specific usage and language and I now need to capture that in a new language. Translations are reinterpretation.

    The original was densely evocative and playful. Poetic. Native language readers get the full impact. Translation readers get the gist. You are missing out on a great portion of the intent.

    No real way to correct that. It just happens and we have to cope.

    Being a translater of fiction must be a wicked hard job where you second-guess yourself continually.

  118. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    What kind of music does FREE BEER! play?

    I’m thinking crap covers of 80s hair metal.

  119. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    Translation seems like damn hard work to me.

    Douglas Hofstadter wrote an incredibly self-indulgent but nevertheless fascinating tome on the subject of translation. It’s called Le Ton Beau de Marot. It features dozens of different translations of a specific poem by Marot, and many other excursions and discourses. The one that boggled me the most was when someone took the novel La Disparition, which was originally written in French without using the letter ‘e’ (!), and translated it into English (A Void) — also without using the letter ‘e’.

  120. JohnSF says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:
    Prinny for the winny!

    TBF to the Prince Regent, by that point the monarch, or his fat stand-in, was becoming a bit of a spare wheel in terms of real executive power; arguably had been since the death of William III.
    Definitely after the George I.
    Certainly Walpole as PM stood for little nonsense from the Crown or Court.