homes

You didn’t see that one coming, did you?

Here’s the story behind this week’s strip.


Discussion (44)¬

  1. Reid Malenfant says:

    Oy Vey!

  2. Robert says:

    I thought the loos had to face towards Mecca, not away. Back in the 1970s my wife worked for Oxfam. They had installed a lot of loos in a muslim country to help fight a cholera outbreak. They couldn’t work out why they were not used. It turned out they faced the wrong way.

  3. GordonWillis says:

    So, the council of Hackney has met-oh
    With the Wholly Right wing tête-à-tête-oh,
    And decreed, “Well, it’s God,
    So your taxes, poor sod,
    Will not build homes for all, but a ghetto”.

  4. Alfie Noakes says:

    “It is worrying that Hackney Council has gone to such lengths to appease the highly specific and complex demands of a religious community. Why should religious affiliation give anyone greater entitlement to demand larger homes with more rooms and more kitchen storage?

    For the sake of efficient public spending, and the sake of social cohesion, social housing should be built according to universal standards of safety, comfort and value for money. Religious considerations, which ultimately lead to increased segregation, should not be a factor.”

    Couldn’t agree more.

    “Sorry, I believe in the flying spaghetti monster, so I simply must have built-in wardrobes”.

  5. Someone says:

    “Adam Khan Architects, which is responsible for the design of the new development”
    KHAAAAAAN!

    …ahem.

  6. John Cowan says:

    As a non-Jewish American, I have absolutely no ax to grind here, but these features seem a reasonable accommodation to the people who are actually expected to occupy them. If 40% of people on the waiting list for public housing were wheelchair users, I’d expect to find a building with elevators and ramps and without stairs.

  7. Anonymous says:

    John Cowan – disability is not a choice.

  8. HaggisForBrains says:

    Oops again! Two comments in moderation by failing to sign in properly. Coffee now ordered.

  9. Suffolk Blue says:

    *Alfie Noakes* – Does the Church of the Flying Spaghetti monster have its own special calendar, like Islam and some Orthodox Christian groups?

    That it has its own special colander goes without saying, of course.

  10. Vittal says:

    @John Cowan & @anon – “disability is not a choice”, but I think it’s fair to say for many people, neither is religion. In socially isolating religions, the family and enclosed social life of the religion may be all someone has known for their entire lifetime. Choosing another religion is not as simple as choosing a new pair of shoes or what to wear. Some of the children in these communities may have had highly restrictive educations, leaving them almost unable to work outside the community (poor English language skills; no experience of dealing with non-believers; no science/maths skills; etc.).

    Looking at it as a form of enforced disability may indeed be the most humane way to deal with it.

    The NYTimes had an article about the difficulties of leaving and rebuilding a life after religion: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/30/magazine/the-high-price-of-leaving-ultra-orthodox-life.html

  11. GordonWillis says:

    @ John Cowan.

    these features seem a reasonable accommodation to the people who are actually expected to occupy them

    Expected by whom? How many tax-payers have been consulted? When you are spending someone else’s money, and money which is required by law and which people are therefore forced to pay, does it not matter whether any old council can decide to do what they please with your money and bugger your expectations as a citizen of a democratic state?

    If 40% of people on the waiting list for public housing were wheelchair users, I’d expect to find a building with elevators and ramps and without stairs

    Disabled people have no choice in their situation, and are part of the reason why we tax-payers are paying for a welfare state, which you, as an American, know nothing about. Religious reasons for this or that are just so many new and foreign additions which no one in this country even knew about, let alone were expected to pay for, when the welfare state was established. The demands which these new things imply cannot simply be imposed on the tax-paying public, but must be debated in the public forum and in Parliament, as befits a democratic state.

  12. GordonWillis says:

    @ John Cowan (again)

    If 40% of people on the waiting list for public housing were wheelchair users, I’d expect to find a building with elevators and ramps and without stairs

    So you would build a home without stairs for the sake of the 40% who can’t use them, ignoring the 60% who can? Why not also build homes (with my money and without my permission) for religious minorities and ignore the many other people in the borough who need places to live?

  13. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    Toilets on the wall facing east
    Are a solution , to say the least
    muslims prey face down
    In toilet stalls they will drown
    Resulting in muslim numbers decreased.

  14. Walter says:

    RE: Loo direction

    If the direction is reversed it still point to Mecca. The world is roughly spherical after all. No Problem.

  15. Anonymous, I have mixed feelings on this issue. On the one hand, pandering to religious nonsense such as making elevators not require activation just makes me growl, especially if it costs money. (Religious people sure can figure out and codify ways to complicate their lives, eh.) On the other hand, John Cowan makes a good point and for many of the true believers I have met their beliefs don’t seem to be a choice. At least they don’t think they have a choice, and of course that means they don’t.

    I couldn’t make the choice to be a Hasidic Jew, or even a mild Christian. I could pretend, but that’s not the same thing. I suspect that many of the Hasidim do not see any choice in their beliefs.

    Having said that, I really detest the culture of the ultra-orthodox Jews. Mostly it is the strict gender segregation that disgusts me, as if women have very potent cooties that must be avoided. I wouldn’t give them an inch of consideration. Of course this attitude is not likely to help them, or solve the social problems they cause.

    Before anybody jumps on me for antisemitism, let me say that I am not against Jews at all. Happy to know them. Happy to work with them. Admire many aspects of their culture, especially the respect for learning and intellectualism. I’d even be happy to see my sister marry one. But when they start complaining because there’s a woman sitting on the bus with them, they can go and pound sand.

  16. HaggisForBrains says:

    DH – The anonymous post was me, by mistake. I tried to admit it, but my second comment, still not showing at time of posting this, used my real name instead of HFB. Brain not fully engaged after a postprandial snooze. It’s an age thing.

    Compared to disability, any religion is definitely a choice. Period.

    I might add, for the benefit of John Cowan and other USians, our local authority Building Standards Departments already require all new building to have disabled access built in from the planning stage.

  17. TerryFarrell says:

    Couldn’t they solve the elevator issue by putting an Eruv around the building. I’m not Jewish but if it works for Jews in New York City to maintain the sabbath when they are going about their business it would seem like they could use it to assuage their conscience when it comes to pushing a button.”

  18. Sharman Martin says:

    “Re: Loo direction
    If the direction is reversed it still point to Mecca. The world is roughly spherical after all.”

    Walter: But the Quran indicates that the earth is flat and “spread out like a carpet”. (15:19, 20:53, 43:10, 50:7). The Quran claims to be the perfectly preserved word of Allah, therefore you are mistaken and toilet position is crucial. ;o)

  19. John Fargo says:

    “Looking at it as a form of enforced disability may indeed be the most humane way to deal with it.”

    Disability implies a condition that is permanent while socially enforced religion can be overcome. It would be better if society viewed religion as a mental disorder in need of counseling and, in extreme cases, medication.

  20. Anonymous says:

    @John Cowan and @Darwin Harmless: Speaking as an American Jew (and atheist, and ex-Canadian), the kinds of accommodations these Haredi are getting are extreme. Imagine that they didn’t get them. What do you think would happen? The fact is, many more of them would work at remunerative jobs. They’re not stupid, they’re very intelligent and able; but they’ll take advantage of a system that caters to them.

    My parents were secular Jews of the Conservative sect (i.e.traditional, but not dogmatic). When they came to Canada from Europe post-Holocaust, they started working after medical issues were dealt with. Never got welfare. Put two sons through university, despite never having had more than grades 5 (father) and grade 7 (mother) themselves.

    The Haredi cause the same problem in Israel, where they collect welfare and will not serve in the military. I’m not at all against Jews, I love Jews and I am of that tribe, but the Haredi are parasites.

  21. Laripu says:

    @John Cowan and @Darwin Harmless: Speaking as an American Jew (and atheist, and ex-Canadian), the kinds of accommodations these Haredi are getting are extreme. Imagine that they didn’t get them. What do you think would happen? The fact is, many more of them would work at remunerative jobs. They’re not stupid, they’re very intelligent and able; but they’ll take advantage of a system that caters to them.

    My parents were secular Jews of the Conservative sect (i.e.traditional, but not dogmatic). When they came to Canada from Europe post-Holocaust, they started working immediately after medical issues were dealt with. Never got welfare. Eventually bought a small house. Put two sons through university, despite never having had more than grades 5 (father) and grade 7 (mother) themselves.

    The Haredi cause the same problem in Israel, where they collect welfare and will not serve in the military. I’m not at all against Jews, I love Jews and I am and will forever be of that tribe, but the Haredi are parasites.

  22. Walter says:

    harman Martin says:
    November 8, 2017 at 10:00 pm
    “Re: Loo direction
    If the direction is reversed it still point to Mecca. The world is roughly spherical after all.”
    Walter: But the Quran indicates that the earth is flat and “spread out like a carpet”. (15:19, 20:53, 43:10, 50:7). The Quran claims to be the perfectly preserved word of Allah, therefore you are mistaken and toilet position is crucial. ;o)

    Sorry, I was applying reason to religion a fundamental error.

  23. PrimalVirtue says:

    Looks like they omitted to provide a high wall for communal head banging and a parking area for armoured bulldozers to allow future illicit expansion into surrounding areas.

  24. Abhijeet says:

    @Vittal Thanks for the link to the NYT article. I’ve really never realized how liberal my upbringing was, as compared to these people. Just one more of the many evils of religion – not being allowed to break free of it.

  25. jb says:

    “I’m not at all against Jews, I love Jews and I am and will forever be of that tribe, but the Haredi are parasites.”

    I’m not Jewish, but the Jews I know, without exception, despise the Hasids.

  26. two cents' worth says:

    Will the new houses be made available only to Haredi Jews? If not, I see no problem–any otherwise eligible family with more than the typical number of family members will be happy to have such housing available. (For example, I know a Christian family whose members are refugees from Congo. The family includes 2 parents and 5 children. Finding housing in our neighborhood for such a large family was a challenge!)

    As for the constantly running elevators, if the Eruv is not an option, is there no other way to enable the Haredis to use the elevator on the Sabbath without breaking their religious laws? For example, what if the elevator had an exterior electronic eye and an interior weight sensor? On most days, the elevator would pay attention to the elevator summoning buttons and the floor selection buttons. On the Sabbath, it would move to a floor and open its doors when someone came into the range of the exterior electric eye on that floor. Then the elevator would start by going up or down, depending on whether the ground floor or the top floor was closest. (If they are the same distance away, the elevator would go up first.) As long as the weight sensor indicated that the elevator had a passenger, it would keep moving, stopping at each floor and opening its doors. Once the weight sensor indicated that the elevator was empty, it would stop moving. If necessary, the electronic eye and weight sensor could be officially declared to be Gentile, and therefore allowed to work on the Sabbath.

    On the topic of disability, not all disabilities are permanent. I might be using a wheelchair now due to a temporary problem, but be able to walk again once I have recovered from my illness or injury.

  27. Bob Hutton says:

    I have huge respect for the Jews but most of them do not accept that Jesus is the Son of God and, therefore, are going to Hell.

  28. Felix Magister says:

    Are the accommodations actually costing the public much additional money?


    If a large minority of the public really liked pink wallpaper, or something, I would be in favor of springing to decorate a few houses with pink wallpaper, just to increase the sum total enjoyment of life among the people living in the houses. To what extent is this a problem?

  29. Laripu says:

    @Bob Hutton, you’re mistaken. There is no hell. There’s only Montreal in winter. And I came from there. Go punish yourself.

  30. Laripu says:

    @jb wrote: “I’m not Jewish, but the Jews I know, without exception, despise the Hasids.”

    That’s because the great majority of Jews live their lives like the great majority of people, with minor ritual differences (as in kosher food choices, and what gets religiously celebrated, and when). But they work, serve, etc.

    The Hasids, or Haredi, or whatever you want to call them, try to take advantage of the countries in which they live, even Israel, as though their privilege was merited.

    They can live in whatever house they want to in a free society. Worship any way the want to. But the house ought not be paid for by tax payers. Let the Hasids work like I do.

    They have extra expenses, according to the religion: kosher meat costs more, multiple sets of dishes must be bought and stored, various religious articles cost money. But I have no desire to pay for those with taxes, any more than I want to pay for a cross hanging in someone’s house, or a prayer mat. The hasids can work.

    That isn’t universal, but the exceptions prove my point. As an example: where I once worked in Montreal, I knew (and still know) a Hasid working as a software engineer. He’s been there since the 70s, and still working and respected. He uses normal company-granted vacation days to get time off on Jewish holidays. That man is not a parasite. I respect him and still speak to and email him. (And he knows I’m an atheist.)

  31. Dr John the Wipper says:

    I recently found this, and decided to share it:

    Religion started when the first con man met the first fool.

  32. Deimos says:

    So you need a dividable big kitchen to keep kosher and lots of room for many offspring hmmmm.
    Surely that also makes them excellent for traditional Mormon and Catholic families, not to mention several other “cultures” who have lots of kids.
    What a wonderful multi culture that would make, can I suggest we call the first community “armageddon” or possibly “megido”

  33. ac says:

    Bob Hutton, no he’s not, if you read the words of “god” written in Arabic: 9:30, 9:31, 4:171 (search for the translations). It’s your book against Mo’s. It’s he said, no, he said. And his one is *newer.* That’s the ugliness of the religions in which the believers feel the right to be superior to everybody else. Wars guaranteed. The “chosen ones” and stuff. And Joseph Smith’s book is of course even newer. And HE read it from his hat (he really claimed that). And he also had more wives.

    I also claim that if you don’t accept my Flying Spaghetti Monster God, the gospel of which is even *newer,* you’ll surely be tortured after the death forever and ever, just like every “loving” god does it.

  34. Alex says:

    Walter:

    There are only two points on a sphere for which all great circles through those points also include a particular point, and those two points are the particular point and the point directly opposite it.

    At all other points, there are only two directions you can head to get to the particular point.

  35. Son of Glenner says:

    ac: you refer to Joseph Smith’s book.

    The name “Smith”, one of the commonest surnames in the English-speaking world, is of course of occupational origin. “Smiths” manufactured things.

    A blacksmith manufactured horseshoes and ploughshares, a coppersmith manufactured kettles and pans, a goldsmith manufactured wedding rings and watch chains.

    But Joseph Smith outdid them all – he manufactured an entire religion.

  36. ac says:

    Son of Glenner, Yes. But, as I’ve mentioned, some centuries before Joseph Smith, Mo also manufactured a religion, and managed to make it much more bloody. Interestingly, the Mormons received a revelation in 1978 instructing them to reverse the racial restriction policy, they adjusted to the modern sensibilities:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_people_and_Mormonism#Racial_discrimination_after_1978_revelation

    Sadly, fixing Mo’s religion is not going to be that easy.

  37. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I’ve been reading up on the Eruv, and the more I read the more I’m convinced that the Haredi aren’t really overly devout if they spend so much time trying to find loopholes in its laws. In fact, they must see their god as an idiot and themselves as far cleverer and able to run rings around it.

    Another example is that it is forbidden for unclean beasts to touch the soil of Israel, yet there are pig farms there to cater for the non-Jewish population. How? The farms are built on raised platforms, putting the swine above the ground and therefore not on the hallowed soil.

  38. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Bob Hutton says:
    November 9, 2017 at 8:15 pm
    I have huge respect for the Jews but most of them do not accept that Jesus is the Son of God and, therefore, are going to Hell.

    Considering that the prophesised Jewish Messiah was to be a mere human rather than the son of God, and not the coming saviour of all mankind but a warrior to lead the Jews to victory against their Roman oppressors, it’s hardly surprising that the Jews reject your blue-eyed wonnder-boy.

    Further, if you are one of those sick fucks who get a thrill out of the sadistic concept of Hell, you need to have a good long word with yourself.

  39. Dr John the Wipper says:

    AoS:
    And it goes one step further:
    The meat of those animals (whose species should NEVER be mentioned) is sold as “pink chicken”, and then may be consumed.
    A propos; something similar in islam: my daughter told me about one of her colleagues, a not-so-devout, but self-professed true moslem. When buying some food which might contain haram stuff, he askes somebody to read the preparation advise without mentioning the ingredients. So, he does not KNOW it not to be halal, so, he can eat it…

  40. HelenaHandbasket says:

    Vitall raises a very important point. The liberal ideal of a sort of frictionless decision maker (sister to the economist’s perfect interest maximiser) runs up against the buffers when we consider children raised in religious ommunities. But it goes deeper than that. We are all of us to some extent in a Truman show where we “accept the reality we are presented with” (until we watch Alex Jones, become awoke and start drinking that lovely brain tonic that he advertises of course!)

  41. HelenaHandbasket says:

    Acolyte of Sagan. If you think that Jews finding loopholes isnt devout then, with all due resepct, you havent spent much time around orthodox Jews! I was married to one for twenty years and the Passover festival consists largely of ritualised loophole finding and nit picking. Think I’m joking? Lots of the readings round the Pesach dinner table consist of exegetical readings of one rabbi or another disagreeing with one another over how many plagues the Egyptians had or ought to have had and all the young males at the dinner take on the roles of disputants (Wise son, thick son, simple son etc) with specified arguments to bat back and forth. It goes on for hours. Days in fact.

  42. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Helena, I haven’t spent as much time around Orthodox Jews as you, but enough to know that if all lawyers were of that ilk then every case would be never-ending!

  43. HelenaHandbasket says:

    AofS. I think never ending cases is a dream of lawyers everywhere?

  44. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    True, Helena, but fortunately they only have the dream and not the talent.

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