Too soon? It wasn’t too soon for some.

August’s Worthy Cause is the amazing Claire House Children’s Hospice, as suggested by @HayAddict on Twitter. Visit their website to have your heart broken and your faith in humanity bolstered simultaneously. You can make direct donations here if you prefer.

Discussion (58)¬

  1. Joe Fogey says:

    Spot on.

  2. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Conspiracy theory coming up:
    What better way could there have been to ensure the latest Hollywood blockbuster gets free worldwide advertising?

  3. Hugh Doohan says:

    First class. Top marks for takling such a sensitive subject.

  4. Hugh Doohan says:

    First class. Top marks for tackling such a sensitive subject.

    Repeated for spelling and to get that bleedin’ gravatar to work!

  5. sgsax says:

    Now is a horrible and embarrassing time to be an American. I keep hoping millennial religious fervor will start dying down, but it just seems to be intensifying. And don’t get me started on the political climate.

  6. jerry w says:

    Once again J & M show the need for a new Olympic event, “Jumping To Conclusions”. In today’s competition it’s obvious that Jesus took the gold after Mo lost points for misplaying the anger card, which is often his strong suit.

  7. Brilliant once again. Hurricane Katrina wouldn’t have happened if they had prayer in schools. Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, said so.

  8. bay_dragon says:

    Hey sjsax. Not a good time to be Russian either!

  9. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    Protestors march down the street
    Something mindless, they loudly bleat
    These useless slobs
    Are propagandist’s knobs
    Suckers, tools, in one package, complete.

  10. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    A bit confusing that, D.H. The link suggests she’s commenting on the 9/11 (or 11/09, as we Brits would have it) terrorist attacks yet she’s actually talking about Hurricane Katrina. What hope of reading anything sane from people who can’t differentiate between terrorism and natural disasters. Unless of course they’re admitting that God is the ultimate terrorist. Any way round, she’s clearly as batshit-crazy as her dad.

  11. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Nassar, not bad at all. Just a minor point; you don’t really need the ‘s after propagandist.

  12. jerry w says:

    DH, I hope that people may realize some day that the Graham clan has caused as much, if not more, damage to the world as have the various Bush war criminal family members.

  13. Brother Daniel says:

    “If they had prayer in schools”. Of course, they *do* have prayer in schools. The notion that “prayer is not allowed in school” in the US is simply a lie, repeated over and over by those who want schools to be able to *impose* specific forms of religious expression on children.

  14. schkeb says:

    I would have guessed those signs were made by the Westboro Baptist Church…

  15. AofS, yeah. I was really just riffing on the “making God mad” thing.

  16. hotrats says:

    @Brother Daniel
    # “If they had prayer in schools”. Of course, they *do* have prayer in schools. The notion that “prayer is not allowed in school” in the US is simply a lie… #

    Or to put it another way, a simple truth – the schools themselves cannot indulge in any religious activity. The First Amendment of the US Constitution clearly states ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…’.

    Students of formal logic will spot that these two clauses set up conflicting rules; the first states that religion cannot be established – ie cannot be part of public organization, including a state school. The second more or less guarantees the freedom to pray where you please.

    After long wrangling, the Supreme Court ruled that to be constitutional under the first clause, any practice sponsored in a state school must 1. have a secular purpose, 2. neither advance nor inhibit religion, and 3. must not result in an excessive entanglement between government and religion.

    As to religious freedom, courts have ruled that prayer cannot be forbidden unless it can be shown to cause disruption, but the state also cannot require prayers to be said. So, anyone is allowed to pray in a state school in the US, as long as it is not officially sponsored by the school, and it does not disrupt other students from working. There are plenty of volunteer organizations ready to go into schools and make up the ‘indoctrination deficiency’ out of class hours.

    Given that, unlike the Founding Fathers, the overwhelming majority of Americans believe in God, Jesus and the Bible, there is a lot of prayer in schools. Private schools can pray all day if they want to, but the public school as an institution cannot take any part.

  17. phtasmagoria says:

    I’ve been sharing this comic with many. So helpful for when tough topics need to be simply adressed.

    I’ve seen Moses also appear, I was wondering if author might be having, or has had the Devil make an appearance.

  18. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    D.H., is it really possible to make God mad? It’s as mad as a march hare according to the O.T. Vain, jealous, psychotic, schizophrenic, egotistical, psychopathic, murderous, racist, mysogenistic and utterly, totally mad.
    Maybe Mo’s sign should read “Don’t provoke the nutter”.

    Jerry, which would win a ‘batshit-crazy quote’ competition, Graham or Dubya?

  19. hotrats says:

    # There are plenty of volunteer organizations ready to go into schools and make up the ‘indoctrination deficiency’ out of class hours. #

    Er, no there aren’t. Sorry, mea culpa, etc.; only student volunteers can engage in religious activity on school premises.

  20. @hotrats. Thanks for clearing this up for me.

  21. AofS Yes, God is already plenty mad enough, except for the fact that he’s totally fictitious. But of course you knew that.

  22. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    D.H., I know that and you know that, but try telling that to the billions of nutters who don’t, can’t, or won’t.

  23. Innocent Bystander says:

    @Darwin Harmless, Whilst you may believe that God is totally fictitious, I’ve seen it reported in New Scientist (04 Aug 2012) that evangelists have been door-knocking with the Good News: “Did you know that even the scientists now acknowledge that there is a God – they found him in their Hadron Kaleidoscope?” So there you have it!

  24. jerry w says:


    Saying that “only student volunteers can engage in religious activity on school premises.” is like saying only politicians can run for office, you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. I think that you’ve totally missed the sub rosa base of financial input and material support from many non-students (i.e. parents and community “leaders”) that aid and abet those kids into doing these things with equal portions of guilt and cash.

  25. FreeFox says:

    @AoS & DH: “God is already plenty mad enough, except for the fact that he’s totally fictitious. But of course you knew that.”
    *wants to say something but then thinks better of it* Uh… never mind. ^_^

  26. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Come on now, you know you want to.

  27. rododdo says:

    I really do believe that much human behaviour is making God mad. My scriptural studies indicate to me that God is definitely not perfectly stable.

  28. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    For anybody wanting a team to cheer on at this Olympics, may I suggest you get behind the Federated States of Micronesia? The reasoning behind my suggestion is simply this; just as Great Britain is abbreviated to GBR, so the Micronesian team is shon as…FSM. A great time to be a Pastafarian!

  29. beechnut says:

    Brilliant cartoon, Author.


    Nassar, not bad at all. Just a minor point; you don’t really need the ‘s after propagandist.

    Yes, it’s a distinct improvement. At least the outlines of a Limerick can be slightly more than dimly discerned. And to cap this, I have to defend Nassar against your minor criticism. It’s common to use nouns attributively instead of the English genitive (possessive) case, but the implication can be somewhat general; in this case Nassar has, I think, chosen correctly: propagandist’s suggests the personal involvement, and the result here is very funny.

  30. hotrats says:

    it may look more limerickish, but it’s only because Nassar has gone from far too many syllables to not quite enough, asymptotically approaching the right count from both directions.

    @Nassar Ben Houdja:
    Nassar, dear heart, one last try, OK? For a limerick, the rhythm has to at least resemble:

    ta YA ta ta YA ta ta YA,
    ta YA ta ta YA ta ta YA,
    ta YA ta ta YA,
    ta YA ta ta YA,
    ta YA ta ta YA ta ta YA!

    Even if you get the syllable count right, there is more to metre than number totals. What makes it easy for native speakers, and damn tricky for others, is that the stress has to fall on the YA syllables, and it has to be the same emphasis the syllable normally has in the word.

    So you can say: ‘There WAS a young MAN from BomBAY’, but you can’t have ‘WorKING machinERY in ParIS’, even though the syllable count is right, because the stress falls in the wrong place in the words. Any dictionary will show where the stress is, and you can take it from there.

    This is not easy, and you certainly still have a long way to go, but while some here see you as a hoaxer or a lost cause, I think it is worth encouraging any potential poet.

    Get the rhythm in your head before you start organising the meaning, and it will be obvious what has to change. A good limerick is well worth the work, and it would be very rewarding for all concerned to see you start to appreciate the beauty of the structure, and produce a real one.

  31. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Beechnut, I disagree. Nassar has written ‘These useless slobs / are propagandist’s knobs’, which doesn’t make sense at all, unless one adds the or a before propagandist’s.

  32. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Hotrats, don’t be so quick to assume that Nassar is a non-native speaker of English. A look back at some of his posts suggests he has somewhat more than a nodding acquaintance with the language. Take a look, for example, at this;
    “Nassar Ben Houdja says:
    July 13, 2010 at 9:35 pm
    Science – follow the money, the scientific community has learned much from the almsgivers, now with the worthy assistance of international finance… behold, carbon credits, the science is settled, so say the carpet baggers and shills, all problems solved at reasonable rates. Sales final, no refunds. Climactic performance may vary according to location”
    or this;
    “Nassar Ben Houdja says:
    October 23, 2010 at 2:58 pm
    Seeing as how the atheists don’t believe in all sorts of things, perhaps they be so kind as to organize and get a holiday in honour of their vacuousness? There are several expressions used on the street that with a bit of work, could become “vacuous cards”, might as well make money exploiting lack of faith too”
    Still think he struggles with English?

  33. FreeFox says:

    @AoS: Hmm… nah… some other time… hope you’re having a blast of a summer. ^_^

  34. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    FreeFox, I’d be having more of a blast if we were actuallly having a summer.
    I have to say, you’re being unusually taciturn of late. Everything OK?

  35. hotrats says:

    Yes, I do – reading the lines you quoted, I wonder what I’m missing that you approve of – ‘struggling with English’ sums it up for me. Using obsolete terms like almsgivers, worthy, behold, carpet baggers (needs a hyphen), shills, vacuousness (should be vacuity) etc. – if NBH is a native English speaker, he does a blinding line in fake Indian English.

    I know Nassar’s secret grasp of English one of your pet theories, but it’s 1) a pointless imposture if it only produces unreadable limericks, and 2) not borne out by the evidence – in the first quote the lack of verbs turns everything into slogans, and in the second ‘Perhaps they be so kind as to organize and get a holiday’ looks much more like transliteration than clever construction.

  36. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Hotrats, as I see it he does a terrible line in ‘fake Indian’ (a terrible fakir?), but when he forgets to downplay his linguistic abilities he comes out with perfectly composed English, correct possessive apostrophes and everything;

    Nassar Ben Houdja says:
    August 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm
    Dick Dawkin’s fundamentalism requires a great deal of lubricant to minimize the friction between it and reality. Atheists are so cute when they try to evangelize.

    The last time I pointed out his apparent improvement in his composition the quality suddenly dipped back into poor pidgin English; I’ve a feeling it may do so again. If only Nassar would cease flaunting his modesty by not replying to our questions, and settle the matter once and for all.

  37. hotrats says:

    Even a blind pig will find the occasional acorn (I notice you are having to go back 2 years in pursuit of your thesis) and you have still to explain why NBH goes to such lengths to sound pompous, confused and not at all funny; this is no ‘sex the street like dogs’ satire.

    He seems to have some issues with the ethos of the site, as emerged a few weeks ago with his taunt against open-minded atheists, which makes me wonder why he is such a regular contributor – perhaps he protecting his belief from mockery, too squeamish to do other than sit on the sidelines and snipe; as you point out, he never answers questions (or puts the poetry advice into practice).

    And, with all due respect to a fellow UPOTWA member, his apostrophization would only be correct if the surname were ‘Dawkin’. It should be _Dawkins’_ – there is an ‘s’ at the end of the name, so the apostrophe (as well as an optional extra ‘s’) has to follow it; In Jesus’ Name (just an example, not a benediction).

  38. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I’m not really having to go back two years, I just hit the ‘Random Comic’ button a few times to find the examples I gave. I’ve no idea of Nassars motives in his contributions here (here’s a thought; he may just enjoy it), why his opinions see-saw, or why he shows an understanding of something one week then appears ignorant of it the next; I just think that he’s more than just a bad poet with a loose grasp of English.
    And yes, I was wrong about the Dawkins’ apostrophe, but mis-placed or erroneous apostrophes are things that most of us are prone to occasionally.

    Now, on a totally unrelated subject, I know that I give Americans some stick occasionally (!) but I believe in giving credit where it’s due so here goes: Congratulations to NASA and to all involved in getting Curiosity safely onto Mars; you have my deepest respect!
    Now please find some evidence of life up (down? across?) there; preferably current life, but I’d settle for a fossilised bacteria- or virus-type lifeform, or even chemical signatures of past life stored in the rocks.

  39. hotrats says:

    re. NBH, OK, his motivations aside, you have the floor; do explain your intruiging hypothesis – just how much more is he than he appears, and if it is all some sort of act, what’s the payoff? I’m reminded of a Clive James ‘Footlights’ story: ‘The audience thought it was a brilliant impersonation of someone who had forgotten a terrible script. The fact gradually percolated that the script really was terrible, and he had, indeed, forgotten it.’

    re. Yanks, Amen to that, wonderful effort, and might we hope to discover that life is simply a property of liquid water left long enough to its own devices, as some have long suspected, rather than anything sublime or miraculous?

  40. theGreatFuzzy says:

    The Curiosity landing was marvelous (money well spent, unlike us lot blowing four times that amount on a few sports days). Only one down side, there was life on Mars, it was a cat. You can see its tail sticking out from under a wheel in one of the thumbnails, that’s if they haven’t taken it down yet.

  41. FreeFox says:

    @hotrats: You wouldn’t say that water routinely giving birth to self-replicating, self-organizing life would be pretty sublime and miraculous? ^_^

  42. HaggisForBrains says:

    Sublime – yes; miraculous – no!

  43. FreeFox says:

    @HfB: Depends on whether you use it in the “literally caused by a supernatural agency” meaning of miraculour or as synonym of “marvelous, wonderful, wondrous, amazing, or unbelievable”. ^_^

  44. HaggisForBrains says:

    @FF – Forgive me, I have a personal dislike of the words “miracle” and “miraculous”, born largely from their use (mainly by the tabloid press) in connection with medical achievements which have actually been produced by hard-working and talented surgeons and researchers. Whilst I accept that it can be a synonym for all these other words, given your previous posts I assumed that you were using it in a supernatural sense. If not, why not choose from the excellent selection of synonyms you yourself have suggested :-). Anyway, I do hope that Curiosity does find evidence of previous (or better still current) life on Mars. If it does, I look forward to hearing biblical or koranic interpretations of it. Should be fun.

  45. FreeFox says:

    @HfB: *counts to ten* if you read the post from hotrats I was responding to it will become apparent why I picked those two words and no other possible synonym. And if you actually read any of my previous posts you should have stumbled onto the fact I have never ever in my life promoted any supernaturalism.
    And while I totally agree that it would be beyond awesome (though sadly unlikely) if Curiosity found evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars, how stupid bible (or koran) thumpers react to it would be one of the least relevant things about it. Seriously, are you actually so “you are wrong nya-ya-nya-ya-ya” fixated that that would be the prize in this?
    *takes a deep breath* I apologize if this sounds offensive or flame-wary, but I guess I just keep expecting rational behaviour from otherwise smart and supposedly sceptical people and keep encountering the same “I can’t listen to you because I keep hearing the sound of my own prejudices” stuff that you expect from religious wingnuts…
    …also today I had to admit to myself that the boy I’ve been dating for the past couple of months while unspeakably cute and so well meaning will never be able to have any kind of mature relationship with me and it’s breaking my heart and I had to vent my disappointment on someone.
    *wanders off in search for massive amounts of raki and hopefully a good lay*
    (AoS: Yes, that is the main explanation for the tacit turn.)

  46. Brother Daniel says:

    Even without a careful look at the context, it seems to me that the word “routinely” in the phrase “water routinely giving birth” would immediately exclude an interpretation in which anything “supernatural” is being suggested.

    (In case it’s not clear, I’m taking FF’s side versus HfB’s accusation of pushing supernaturalism.)

  47. HaggisForBrains says:

    OK Guys, Mea Culpa. I stand by my original post “Sublime – yes; miraculous – no!”, but apologise for attributing the miraculous bit to you, FreeFox. As I said, I prefer not to use that word at all, but accept that you were simply quoting. And Brother Daniel, I had not intended to accuse FF of “pushing supernaturalism”, although I seem to have detected a leaning towards a religious attitude of sorts in previous posts. If I have misunderstood you in this , FF, I apologise. Your position is clearly complex, and I’m still trying to understand it.

    To be honest, my one-liner was simply an attempt to make a point about the use of the word “miraculous”, and I seem to have been drawn into something deeper.

    how stupid bible (or koran) thumpers react to it would be one of the least relevant things about it. Seriously, are you actually so “you are wrong nya-ya-nya-ya-ya” fixated that that would be the prize in this?


    No, I am really interested to hear what interpretation would be put on such a discovery. It would certainly open up new areas of discussion. It would not be the prize, not by a long chalk, but it would be interesting, and would no doubt provide Author with some material, which is after all why we are visiting this site in the first place

    OK I’ve apologised, and so have you, and I’m genuinely sorry that your relationship is not working out. Good luck with your plan in the last sentence.

  48. FreeFox says:

    *very hung over and hurting inside and out* um… yeah… sorry… what where we saying?

    I don’t think the discovery of extraterrestrial life would actually provide anything useful to any religious debate, no more than the existance of non-human life already does provide. Some would embrace it as also divine, others as more of the stuff provided by God for for us to use, and for a few centuries a few nutcases would refuse to believe any evidence that it existed at all. But that isn’t really different from what it would mean to secular people: Some would want to conserve and portect it, some would want to exploit it, and some would think it part of some conspiracy.
    That is because life already exists, and life already exists outside of us, so for the question of its meaning to us, there is no difference in life existing on the next pasture, on another continent, or another planet. It would only change our technical knowledge of how it works and how it appears out of non-living, non-self-organizing matter and energy. Which is huge, but has little to no spiritual meaning, no more than the discovery of some new elementary particle has. Quantum mechanics allows us to build better mobile phones, but not to lead more fulfilling lives.
    Which is why, yes, HaggisForBrains, I am indeed “leaning towards a religious attitude of sorts”, but I really do not believe in anything supernatural. The entire idea of the supernatural is just a childish misunderstanding of what religion is there for. It is trying to use it to give answers we do not have. It’s as has been pointed out in this and other forums often enough completely delusional.
    Religious teaches nothing about how the world works. It can only teach about how it works for us.

  49. hotrats says:

    # …also today I had to admit to myself that the boy I’ve been dating for the past couple of months while unspeakably cute and so well meaning will never be able to have any kind of mature relationship with me and it’s breaking my heart and I had to vent my disappointment on someone.
    *wanders off in search for massive amounts of raki and hopefully a good lay* #

    If you are looking for a mature relationship, why are you offering your heart to unspeakably cute, well meaning boys? To quote the timeless wisdom of the Arabs, you can’t buy a camel in a donkey market.

  50. FreeFox says:

    What is that supposed to mean?

  51. hotrats says:

    It means that you are looking for a mature relationship in an arena where it is pretty much guaranteed that you will never find one. As long as you pursue cute boys, you are the one making a mature relationship impossible. If that is what your heart is set on, don’t waste it on immature cuties who will neither appreciate the offer nor meaningfully reciprocate; look for a mature person.

  52. FreeFox says:

    @hotrats: What exactly is it that guarantees the immaturity in that theory of yours – the cuteness or the boyness?
    You see, the problem I have is that blokes my age are immature because they are my age. And blokes your age that want to date me are immature, because they are blokes your age that want to date someone my age. Don’t hate me cos I’m beautiful *and* wise beyond my years…
    (Actually I’m not beautiful at all but crippled, tattooed and scarred all over. Just wise beyond my years. And yes, there might be some connection between the two, if wisdom is the result of experience and experience the word for knowledge we have acquired only after we would have really needed it.) ^_^

    (And my heart was set on Garis because he was hurting and scared and courageous enough to want to face it, because he worked to free himself from the shackles of his family and religion and society and when he met me set out to walk a stony road and chose me as his companion and pathfinder and witness, because he dared to show me everything about himself he was afraid everyone would have to hate and he blindly trusted me to be there for him and catch him when he stumbled, and I fucking was, he walked the fucking way, and now that he got to the point where he can hold his head high and no longer hurts and no longer fears to be himself he has no use for a guide to the darkness any longer, because he has passed through, and he is ready for the lights and the parties and the superficial delights, to dance in the ballroom under the lights, where I have no place and no name and he can go and be a happy carefree gay twen, and I am proud of him beyond belief, but I still remain in the darkness and alone. Would you all please get over your bloody prejudices. Life is more complicated than an episode of Happy Endings.)

  53. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Jeez, I feel for you, FreeFox. Not feel ‘sorry’, just feel, as I would for any friend going through dark times.

  54. HaggisForBrains says:

    FreeFox – I feel your pain, and hope that sharing it has helped even a little. Sometimes life sucks, but I’m sure from what I’ve seen here that you have the strength to survive.

  55. hotrats says:

    An Asian proverb comes to mind; ‘Use a thorn to remove a thorn, then throw both thorns away.’

    I wasn’t taliking about age – I never mentioned it in my post: maturity is age-related but not age-dependant. It seems self-evident that you can only have the ‘mature’ relationship you want, however you define that, with a ‘mature’ person, using exactly the same definition.

    One of the ironies of engaging with another person’s emotional dysfunction is that one must accept that almost by definiton, reciprocal love cannot be a possibility with that person. Unfortunate, but inevitable.

    The consensus among those with experience in this field, is that the kindest and least painful path (for both parties) is to remove the demands of love from the list of potential misunderstandings, and simply act as the conduit and catalyst for their growing into a person capable of love on their terms, regardless of yours.

    That you were able to fill this transformational role for him is entirely to your credit, and reflects your own growth and compassion. The sanity of the world quite literally depends on reaching out to others in this way, but you cannot entertain expectations; the process has to be its own reward.

    As you have discovered, there is transference from the person being helped, to the helper, making the helper inescapably associated with the former life. The personal component of the original dialogue, and any mutual attachment, has to be progressively transcended as emotional health returns. This applies equally to professional therapists and philanthropic amateurs.

    Be content with the pride you have for the person you helped create, and the fact that you have shown lovable qualities to the world, whether they impress him or not. Any love you had for him in his former state will only serve to pull him back, if only in your own head, to the personality he needed to escape.

    Ask yourself – are you more in the darkness, or any more alone, than you were when you met him? Your distress has my sympathy, but would you really have preferred him to have stayed attached to you, at the expense of his own growth and happiness?

  56. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    ‘Siggy’ Hotrats, re Nassar; I don’t have a specific theory (I thought I’d already said that above when I wrote ” I’ve no idea of Nassars motives in his contributions here …why his opinions see-saw, or why he shows an understanding of something one week then appears ignorant of it the next;”, so I can’t really answer your question, or take the floor you so graciously offered. All I was saying was that there’s something about his posts (call it a ‘feeling’..I’m psychic, you know 🙂 ) that makes me think he’s having a laugh. Maybe his posts aren’t as bad as they should be; one gets the feeling that he’s ‘holding back’, maybe just for comic effect. Think Les Dawson at the piano!

  57. FreeFox says:

    @hotrats: I think I understand all that. And I wouldn’t dream of holding him back. (Except in those Little Mermaid fantasies in which I murder him in his sleep and whoever he’ll give his heart to, of course…) But unfortunately I cannot chose who I fall for, I never set out to do it, it just happened. And I don’t even regret it. But yes, when someone leaves you at the terminator and disappears into the light, the darkness around you is all the darker for it.
    From the point of view of the thorn it doesn’t really matter much whether you had been the prick or the useful tool when you’re discarded just the same.

    @AoS & HfB: Thanks.

  58. englishforyou says:

    @ Acolyte of Sagan, beechnut …
    “Are propagandist’s knobs”

    No one seems to have thought of the alternative: Propogantists’ (plural possessive). It is, in my view, the path of least resistance.

    I am not “back”, too much on the go. Would love to pick up where I left off months ago, but time waits for no one.



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