Still in holiday mode, so here’s a trimmed-down resurrection from 2009. See you all next year!

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Discussion (41)¬

  1. Eske Rahn says:

    “be be rewarded”->”to be rewarded”

  2. Can one request dried cranberries instead?

  3. rjc says:

    It does not specify sex or species

  4. Shaughn says:

    Soft fruits, i.e. figs, are often metaphorical for adult female genitals. Can we be sure raisin is not a metaphor for very young girls genitals? Keeping Mo and his childbride Aisha in mind…

  5. Eske Rahn says:

    @Shaughn, though this might be true, a more logic use of the fruit-term as a metaphor would be for an old maid than for a young ‘barely ripe’ one.

  6. zachw says:

    At this time of year should be paired with this other “mistranslation” oldie:


  7. Jesus F Iscariot says:

    Moses feels neglected. Again. No reference to grapejews.

  8. E.A. Blair says:

    Another scriptural mistranslation I’ve been made aware of is that the Aramaic word “gamla” can mean either “camel” or “rope”. It makes much more sense if the metaphor about rich people is compared to threading a needle with a rope.

  9. Jveeds says:

    Good point, E.A B.: The Greek words ‘kamêlos (κάμηλος, camel) and ‘kamilos’ (rope or cable) were undoubtedly confused as Jesus’ purported words were glommed into the synoptic gospels. The supposed workaround of a narrow gate in Jerusalem has been pretty thoroughly debunked. However, I thought I heard somewhere that there might have been such a gate in Syria…but can’t find the source for this–which is probably a myth as well, but if anyone has info, please advise.

  10. Jveeds says:

    Following up on my previous comment about “Eye of a Needle,” I looked in my files and found a note to myself: “According to some reputable sources, there is indeed an ancient ‘Eye of the (a) needle’ gate…but it used to be in Damascus and was a side gate alongside the main gate of the “street called straight.” Being a side gate it was not intended for passage by animals especially camels carrying side loads.” Unfortunately, I didn’t cite my own source for my notes…so the query is still open 🙂

  11. Laripu says:

    Jveeds, here’s what a Google search turned up: http://www.biblicalhebrew.com/nt/camelneedle.htm

    You can find many photos of that opening on-line.

    But never mind the technicalities of the metaphor; the meaning was clear. If this was actually said, it meant that rich people aren’t good enough for the biblical conception of heaven.

    What would Jesus have conceived of as rich, by the standards of his culture? My guess is that by those standards, nearly everyone in the developed world would be seen as blindingly rich, except possibly homeless people. What riches even ordinary people have! Car, television, cell phone, adequate food, drink, clothing, shelter, compared to the culture of the 1st century Middle East.

    So if someone believes the metaphor, they should believe that we’re ALL going to hell.

    But there is no hell. There is only Montréal in winter.

  12. paradoctor says:

    Seventy-Two White Raisins
    an Underfable

    Once upon a time a young Jihadi appeared at the gates of Paradise, from out of a sudden burst of smoke. The Jinn guarding the gates welcomed the defender of the faith, and into the Jihadi’s hand – still streaming smoke – the Jinn pressed his reward; six dozen white raisins. The Jinn said, with a smile, “They are as pure as they are white!”

    The Jihadi replied, “Seventy-two _white raisins?_ But the Imam promised me seventy-two _virgins!”_

    The Jinn said, with a frown, “That passage was mistranslated. And just what kind of an establishment do you think we are running here, young man?”

    Moral: Beware the fine print.

  13. paradoctor says:

    Laripu: So we’re all going to Montréal in winter? But you forget about Texas in summer.

  14. Laripu says:

    Paradoctor, I’m of the opinion that if you want something done that was once considered mythological, then you have to do it yourself. For example, Daedalus and Icarus gave way to modern aviation.

    So I think we’re going to make our own hell. It may seem to start with from nuclear war. But before that, endocrine disruption from plastics pollution will begin to cause a population drop that inhibits commerce. Plus climate change. Then huge population shifts due to refugees and migrants, a result of nuclear war and climate change… which we will welcome due to the population drop. And then bemoan the consequent changes in culture.

    My only question is: how long before this happens?

    For the soundtrack, I suggest Tonio K’s song “The Funky Western Civilization”. https://toniok.com/track/138320/the-funky-western-civilization

  15. Vittal says:

    It’s hard (pun intended) to believe an actual grown person wrote-up the justification for belief in the whole 72 virgins schtick https://wikiislam.github.io/wiki/72_virgins.html

    It’s the kind of stuff that a fourteen year-old would write – eternal erections and girls with big boobs, appetizing vaginas and transparent legs (I kid you not).

    If you believe this guff and decide to blow yourself up off the back of it, you’re definitely a few grapes short of a bunch.

  16. Postdoggerel says:

    Military Medical Doctor.
    Soldier, I see you have stated religious reasons for not taking the Covid Vaccine. You obviously had at least 9 mandatory vaccines when you signed up and more depending on where you’ve been deployed. Tell me, when did you have your Come to Jesus moment?

  17. Solo Hands says:

    I wish a Happy New Year to everyone. May 2022, and all the years to come, be far, far better for all of you than were the two preceding it and may you all be happy, well and safe.

    This is the kind of thing Man can achieve when not squabbling over the minutiae of millennia-old, utterly irrelevant legalisms and whose daddy can beat up all of the others.

    Summer, 2022, we’ll see the very first stars in all of the universe.

    Take care and stay warm.


  18. Solo Hands says:

    Okay, so, did anyone spot the deliberate blooper that is fodder for this year’s gag reel?

    Mouse-over the image, left-click for a slightly larger version. 🙂

  19. Rrr says:

    HandSolo, now that you point it out I can see an anomaly of the static background, but I fail to catch the gag. Underdeveloped sense of humour on my part. Must be.

  20. Donal Feran says:

    To all you other J&M fans:


  21. M27Holts says:

    Lets discuss LOTR instead, far more likely to be true than anything in the quran…

  22. Solo Hands says:

    “Legends Of The Rangers” was boring, derivative and utterly stupid.

    “Never surrender, never retreat” is an idiotic, suicidal mantra for any armed force and shaming someone for preserving the ships and lives of his men is one of the daftest plot-lines in all of literature. It is also a policy humans should never agree to.

    Retreat is sometimes incredibly clever and surrender should always be an honourable option.

    That floaty girl “punching” the enemy ships is almost as silly as not getting vaccinated and dying out of spite.

    Or, M27, did you mean the other “LOTR”? If so, I will never understand why a relay of eagles could not have taken a couple of Halflings close to Mordor, close enough that they only had a day’s easy walk to the secret, hidden entrance. The birds could have flown during dawn, dusk and cloudy skies to hamper detection, could have flown low and could have flown in flocks so their riders weren’t obvious.

    That would have shortened the trilogy to slightly smaller than “The Hobbit”.

    Which would have been neat. 🙂

    Rrr, above the first post in the APoD series last year linked to the wrong page. I humorously converted the error of omission – my not altering the copied URL – into a “That’s one for the Gag Reel” jest, as actors are seen to do in the extras on collections of serialised TV programs published on DVD’s. It was an epically weak attempt at humour but I was tired.

    The second comment has a static background with a moving streak of light that was the JWST travelling to its L2 home. This is likely to be the last time humans will ever see it. Probably.

    The telescope is a beautiful thing and a truly legendary achievement, even should it go slightly wrong in one of the hundreds of steps it needs to accomplish before it can get to work. I never thought she would fly and I hope to live long enough to see her images.

    I’m slightly sad, though, that we don’t have a working “space-truck” fleet that could carry mechanics up there to fix any issues and to refuel her in 2030.

    Though we do have some time to build some.

  23. M27Holts says:

    One ring to rule them all.
    One ring to find them.
    One ring to bring them all,
    And in the darkness bind them….

  24. Laripu says:

    Regarding the raisins/virgins debate… this website gives details of the virgins and explains why the raisins idea is false:

    What interested me is the word used for the virgins, houri. I looked at this site:
    which says “Arabic: حورية,‎ also ḥūr or ḥūrīyah”.

    It made me wonder whether it could be an etymological root of the English word whore, which is sometimes pronounced “hoor”. (I heard that pronunciation as a child.) Beside the similar sound, theyv have related meanings.

    While not far-fetched, it appears that this is incorrect. Roots of whore go back at least as far as proto-Germanic, which predates Islam by hundreds of years. It’s also unlikely that ancient northern Europeans would have had much to do with Aramaic-speaking Levantine people.

    So there: houri are not whores and whores are not houri.
    But we need a successful etymology to start the year.

    So: apparently the Americanism “poontang” came from the French word “putain” in the early part of the last century.

    And now I’m “guidoune” with this topic.

  25. James R. Baerg says:

    Solo Hands:
    In that image I see a bunch of suspicious lines & curves made up of the background stars. So I think there is some hidden image, but I can’t make out what it is supposed to be.

  26. Mockingbird says:

    The Guardian, Bla Bla Bla .. .. .. ??? Have a great 2022 all you bastards. 🙂

  27. jb says:

    The thing that bugs me about the Eagles is that Tolkien could easily have waved his hands and come up with some reason why they couldn’t be used to take the Ring to Mordor, and that would have been that. But he just didn’t seem to have noticed the plot hole. (I understand that this bothered him later, but by then it was too late to do anything about it).

  28. Blub says:

    @Laripu “What would Jesus have conceived of as rich, by the standards of his culture? My guess is that by those standards, nearly everyone in the developed world would be seen as blindingly rich, except possibly homeless people. What riches even ordinary people have! Car, television, cell phone, adequate food, drink, clothing, shelter, compared to the culture of the 1st century Middle East.

    So if someone believes the metaphor, they should believe that we’re ALL going to hell.”

    I think it makes more sense to look at what properties might go along with the richness. The argument that it must be pure non relative material possession level and that thanks to tech level now many could be called richer and thus fall under it, is kinda flimsy. Not that it matters.

  29. M27Holts says:

    Has been said before but had the bible or quran had the periodic table printed in it, it may have been the work of an extra-terrestial intelligence. However, its a product of it’s time and has no place as a book to base one’s life by in the 21st century…

  30. Solo Hands says:

    James, the aforementioned APoD image has a little white line near the centre. This line moves a little upwards and to the left, ending just under what looks to my pareidolia like a jewellery box of faint, distant stars. This is the flying telescope going home, or, more accurately, to its office where it will do good works. Try spotting it between the super-bright yellowish star [which probably has a name or catalogue number as it is so visible but the image isn’t annotated and I can’t be bothered to look for one] near the bottom and the “Y”-shaped asterism above that one.

    It is sort of like the “marching ants” dotted lines once used in MSWord documents only slightly larger and a tiny bit more expensive.

    I think they should have chosen a more inspirational and international name but it’s their puppy so they can name it what they like.

    jb, perhaps Prof. Tolkien didn’t consider transport by air because, when he was forming his strategic and logistical senses air transport was relatively new and uncommon? He was, after all, born a very, very long time ago when the worlds were new and shiny. Or maybe he simply wanted to tell a very good story? It is essentially the Superman issue. When you have a creature so powerful as Kal-El, how con conflicts arise and persist long enough to make interesting tales? Gods from the machinery are, to authors, bloody nuisances.

    As many have noted about the benevolence of Jehovah. [Oh, cute, that was a brilliant chain of segues back to the topic. 🙂 ]

    A being smart enough to create neutrinos could have created a thinking, feeling, fully conscious species that vastly preferred to do “good”, to help its fellows, to improve the Human Condition, to make the world better than to grift and thieve and peculate and torture and do harm. One is no more complex than the other and neither would necessarily need to infringe on “free will”. If its pet people can be born with an in-built liking for food then they can also be born with built-in empathy, compassion and the urge to help. Hell, even dogs are imbued with an urge to help and they were only created by humans.

    Jehovah seems to have been a bloody inept designer. Or malevolent. Or non-existent.

    I prefer to live as though the last is true.

    Others, of course, have a different view. 🙂

    But one does sometimes wonder why the R.C.C. didn’t go with some deity such as Oglaf’s Sithrak. He makes sense. He’s nasty but he at least is consistent, logical and predictable. I like Sithrak.

    Oh, Oglaf is a website that is often not safe to be viewed at Work.

    Happy New Year, everyone.

  31. Solo Hands says:

    Blub and Laripu, anyone mildly educated, meaning literate in at least their local languages and in Latin and perhaps Greek, living in the First Century, A.D., would not have recognised many of our tools and toys astools and toys. An iPhone, until activated and used, would look like a shiny slab of stone, an automobile would look like a small hut, perhaps and things like digital clocks and the multi-purpose radio devices containing them might not be recognisable as anything from their milieu.

    True, the amount of food in our fridges and cupboards would possibly surprise many of those people, especially when they discovered that it was all for one person’s consumption but pots of dried noodles would need a little bit of explaining though canned goods may be seen as a wonderful example of our magics.

    What they would make of a 36-inch TV, or the remote zapper magically attached to it by invisible leashes, is something I would be very interested in seeing. Us calling it an “adjustable window” could help but telling them that it shows a series of “paintings” plastered onto a silvery disc some years ago that can now be displayed as a moving image would be rather difficult to explain.

    Radio would be worse. Live TV would be more worse. The Internet’s endless supply of cats in boxes would possibly provoke interesting reactions.

    Our machinery, such as cordless drills, electric cookers, vacuum cleaners, roombas and even door-locks might take a bit of explaining, too.

    But one of the most magical things we have, I think, is that millions of us do absolutely no work at all yet have all of these things, including a safe, warm home and an income adequate to our needs. There are millions of pensioned-off people who can, should they choose, contribute nothing to the City yet who are fed, comforted, even pampered.

    Together with free-at-point-of-use universal healthcare that can actually help with diseases and disorders, active, happy pensioners might seem like an amazing wealth.

    Some of us live far better than their kings. Healthier, happier, more connected to our worlds and with access to more knowledge than they had in all of their Libraries.

    That is the result of inheriting from the previous generations and building upon it. We have several millennia of accumulated wealth and knowledge making our lives far, far better and richer than anything ever seen on the planet.

    And, if Civilisation continues, it will get better.

    We truly live in a Golden Age.

    Happy New Year to everyone.
    .Yes, I do know that many do not have my level of wealth, health-care and comforts but we are getting there, all it would take is some political will and a bit of effort. We have the treasure, all we need do is to spread it about a bit. We all know how to do what needs done but those with the means just refuse to do it.

    We have, numerically, more desperate poor than Rome ever did in her Empire but we are able to make their lives better.

    If we want to.

    Many of us, too many of us, do not.

  32. Postdoggerel says:

    Author, can you make it so iPhone safari users can access random J&Ms?

  33. Troubleshooter says:

    Ahhh, raisins. More dry(ed) humor!

  34. Donn says:

    It may sound ridiculous, but those Mohammedan raisins were probably a lot tastier than the raisins you can get today. Raisins were commonly dried Muscat grapes, until ca. 100 years ago the seedless Thompson started to take over.

    Muscats are indisputably far more delicious, but you either have to chew up the seeds, or deal with the mess when the producer extracts the seeds prior to drying. In the US, the latter was commonly available into the ’80s – one of the boxed options contained a block of sticky, delicious Muscat raisins – but today no such thing is available on the shelves in the US; the situation may be better in Australia.

    We may be wealthier counted in cellular phones, but counted in tasty raisins, poorer.

  35. M27Holts says:

    I am fond of prunes with my muesli. I also like my assortment of state of the art power tools. I like doing DIY and am about to start on my man-cave upgrade project…I don’t think that god will speak to me via the noise that a powerful hammer-drill makes as it effortlessly punches holes in bricks and concrete….but you never know…

  36. jb says:

    We may be wealthier counted in cellular phones, but counted in tasty raisins, poorer.

    A long time ago I read C. S. Lewis’s Prelandra trilogy, which was the usual Christian apologetics, but also pretty good as science fiction. The third novel features the Arthurian wizard Merlin as a character, and one of the things that stuck with me from the novel was Merlin’s admiration for some aspects of the modern world and his disdain for others. In particular, at one point he says something to the effect of “you eat dry, tasteless meat off of plates fit for kings.”

  37. OtterBe says:

    The James Webb Space Telescope has deployed and tensioned its sun shade: woot!
    Kudos to the hundreds/thousands of people who designed it, produced the components, and assembled it. Seriously: I work at a high-end mechanical-trades company, but even we sometimes do Friday@2:30pm work. You know: ‘ain’t pretty, but that should work’ stuff. There wasn’t any room for that here.

    Hell, just the thought of depending on 170+ motors and respective sensors ( especially on a weight-critical mission! ) gives me the willies: in my world, between 1 and 3 of those motors would have been bad out of the box or failed within weeks.

    Good job, humans!

  38. Alex says:

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, Gandalf realised his mistake just as he was pulled off the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, and tried to tell the rest of the Fellowship: “Fly you fools!”

  39. Solo Hands says:

    OtterBe, on the Hubble-II, it really does not matter if the motors fail within weeks, they are only needed for a few minutes each. It does matter that they weren’t bad out of the box, and by the grace of thousands of engineers, scientists, draughtsmen, manufacturers and others none were, but now the things have all been done they can fail as failurely as they desire. Probably no one will ever notice.

    The JWST is impressive. It is wondrous. It is beautiful and I’m all teary-eyed at its success.

    They did good!

    I honestly never thought it would get this far. I’m happy to have been proven so wrong. 🙂

  40. Rrr says:

    Solo, an old friend of mine was involved in the launch of a scientific satellite many years ago. By inspiration or some fluke, he decided to check status the night before and it turned out a lot of soldering had come loose in transport and had to be re-done even though everything had been meticulously vetted before. If he had not, the whole project would have been a big dud as soon as liftoff.

    As it is, I believe it is still functional and delivering data.

    An overabundance of caution can pay off!


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