Monday, February 14, 2011

Still nothing

Sunny days are the worst for being depressed. You go outside, it's beautiful and feels great, but you're still sad. You feel like there's no excuse for being depressed on such a nice day and consequently feel worse about it. It's a vicious cycle.

Not that I want it to rain, though.

Friday, January 28, 2011


I'm back from China, blogging because I couldn't while I was there and because I have nothing else to do. So if you want to ask how I'm doing or how was China or how I'm settling back into the US, I'll just be brutally honest here to save you the trouble.

I'm fucking miserable. My time in China sucked. And I'm depressed now that I'm back in the States.

Now let me give a rushed, rambling half-sentence defense here for the China program and China in general and how it wasn't the culture or the country or the college program that was the problem and that it was all because I couldn't adapt etc etc. Right, now that that's out of the way, the bitching can begin. I hated being in China. I hated the feeling I had whenever I went out, knowing I had nowhere to go and nothing to do and anything we did as a program I had absolutely no interest in. I saw the Great Wall and the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven and all those places everyone wants to see and wants to know what it was like, and I had no fucking interest in any of it. Sure it had an impact at the time to be seeing these relics and historical monuments firsthand, and I'm sure I'm the envy of someone who longs to go to Asia themselves some day, but you know what? I could have been playing Half-Life 2. One video game strikes my interest more than the entire semester at PKU. I'm just that sort of person, I guess. It turns out I don't care for sightseeing. At all. It's just not interesting to me, and all the hours walking around looking for things to look at would have been better spent in front of a TV or a computer, playing games and watching videos.

Don't go abroad if you're lonesome and have social anxieties. You know what's worse than not being able to follow conversation through body language? Not being able to follow conversation because you can't understand what the fuck the other person is saying. My Chinese sucks. I'm still working on improving it and I plan on using it in future, but it was next to useless when I was in China. The only thing I could do through language was ensure I didn't starve to death. There was no way in hell I could carry a conversation entirely in Chinese. Are you kidding me? I couldn't even carry a conversation in English, what makes you think I'd be able to socialize with people in another language? The only people I could talk to were other international students, who all had far more interesting things to do with their time. My roommate was admittedly a nice guy, but I hated him. I couldn't stand to be around him. He wasn't aware of the differences between US and Chinese gamer culture so I couldn't even ask about where one buys games because I'm pretty sure everyone he knew pirated everything. What I'll always remember about him is the chewing. He chewed with his mouth open on everything, and nothing. There'd be nothing in his fucking mouth, and he'd still be making smacking noises. And there's no way I'd ask him to stop, because that's rude, you know? Yes I can be petty. I am extremely fucking petty. But you can shut your fucking mouth, at least when you're eating. You have every right to eat and act however you please, but I have every right to be pissed off and fume silently about it.

And now I'm back in the States... and there's nothing here for me. Some people who may or may not read this might be surprised to learn I don't really have any friends here, particularly surprised if you thought you were a friend. Everyone I know at school is an acquaintance at best. There's no one I hang out with or talk to on a regular basis, and very few of the people I do know have anything in common with me. In fact, if one were to have lots in common with me I'd probably be less likely to be their friend, because as should be obvious I'm not really the most friendly or agreeable person out there. I'd imagine that a perfect personality match for me would be a self-centered asshole with no social skills or anything of interest to say. Even other guys with esoteric hobbies and lack of social skills have far more redeeming qualities than I do.

I have no plans here. I don't know what I want to do with my life, professionally or otherwise. I don't have any networking skills, and I have no worthwhile experience or job prospects due to how fucking useless I am. I chose the wrong major. East Asian Studies is interesting but by no means a passion of mine. I should have gone into computers due to my interest in gaming, but I sucked when I first tried. And in case it's not obvious I have the tendency to give up on things. I even gave up on this blog for the longest time, repeatedly, and I plan on making a new blog in future which I am at present equally pessimistic about.

I guess this is where I should talk about the relationship topic. I feel awful having to talk about this, but it'd be worse if I kept dancing around the issue. Firstly I need to be honest and say that I'm not in a relationship anymore. Both me and Xiaohuan have gone over this a number of times and as confused as things may be, we both know we're not in love with one another. We might resume dating if nothing changes once we meet again, even though we probably shouldn't. But we're friends. I can't say "just friends" because that would belittle what we have. She's my best friend and my ex at the same time, and as noxious as that sounds to having healthy relationships, it's often the only thing keeping me going. I often wish I could be in love with her, and chances are good it's true with her as well. But we're not a good match when it comes down to it. We know we're not in love because we've been in love with others in the past. And we don't feel the same about each other. Lying about that would only make things worse in the end. We only have a few interests in common, and none of our passions overlap. I'm a politically-minded gamer, and she looks at life as more of an artist. We could put aside our differences but then we'd be lying about those things that matter to us. It would be more underlying tension than our relationship could bear. But we still understand each other, and that's what makes us stronger. And fuck you too if you want to say that's unhealthy or wrong. What would you have us do, stop talking to each other? We may not be in a relationship, but I'm not abandoning her. That's the opposite of what either of us want.

I should finish with what I'm looking for: I have no fucking clue. I'm still obsessed with the idea of love, more so than is healthy, and I don't know what to do about it. Get a life? I'd still want to share it with someone. I felt love before and I want to know what it's like to have those feelings returned. I don't care if it was a superficial infatuation that never even approached friendship. I fell in love and it gave me some sense of hope or purpose, and the rejection was absolutely crushing. I could only dream what happiness on the same scale would feel like. Don't tell me it's nothing special if you've felt it before, especially not if you're in a happy relationship now. How could you say that about the love of your life? All I'm saying is I want to experience that too. Not that it's likely. Look at what I've written so far. Who could love such a hopeless wanker? Anyone who'd care to notice could see past the incredibly fake smile and weak friendliness and see this overbearing melancholy that they want no part of. And where am I to find someone who'd put meaning into my life? I've already mentioned how difficult I'd find people with any traits similar to mine, and that much self-loathing is worse than useless. So it'd have to be someone who not only shares all my interests and passions, but is also the exact opposite of my collective personality traits. And can you imagine what the odds of that happening are when my pettiness and none-too-special appearance come into play, so that both of us have to be attracted to each other at the same time? Get fucking real...

Well... I've basically outlined my path to failure and misery then, right? Wasn't that interesting? Aren't you glad you read this far to see how impossible I've made my own life? I'm sure it's all riveting stuff, but I don't expect any more than one person to read through this and still have a jot of respect for me in the slightest. Anything else would be nuts. I just needed to get this out there. Been on my mind ever since I got back.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Doodlemastery Bible School Part 3: False promises and exaggerated claims

Here it is at last, the product of all my postponed projects and procrastination. And we're only on Chapter 3 of Genesis. Gah... Some quick notes first.

It should be clear to readers which comments I make as legitimate logical and moral claims, and which are just me dicking around with wordplay, etc. If I'm being uber-literal, chances are it's just me poking fun at a confusing document and making inappropriate and lame references to things. However, do keep in mind that many self-proclaimed Christians interpret the Bible literally. So while I'm probably missing the richer literary significance and undertones of the book, I'm also pointing out its inadequacies as a moral guide.

And it's also poorly written.

Also keep in mind that I'm reading this as both a work of fiction and a list of purported historical accounts. Mostly fiction, since no historian would take this seriously and themselves be taken seriously by anyone other than backwards patriarchal conspiracy theorists. When I'm referring to the characters of the Bible, they are just that, characters, not actual people. Just like in The Passion of the Christ. So when I call God a dick, I mean God the character. If the biblical God were to be real, he would be a dick. A dick of infinite, incomprehensible magnitude.

Thank God he doesn't exist.


Oh! And we're in for a treat for this reading, since in this Bible (Douay-Rheims, for those of you who recall) Chapter 3's introductory lines tell us that the reading includes "the promise of a Redeemer". Oh, joy of joys! We're finally going to see how Jesus fits into this misogynistic jumbled cooked-up creation myth. I mean, this most holy creation account.

Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made... (Genesis 3:1)

As Ricky Gervais noted, "In my humble opinion, I think the snake was a mistake."

Really, what is the function of this snake if not to deceive people? Seeing as there's little good in deception during this (fictional) period of time, it seems the only thing this snake can do is be a bastard, since God created him to be a bastard. But then that would make God a bastard too, wouldn't it? Same goes for God creating psychopaths and the violently insane. If you ever get any high-minded ideas about free will and God's benevolence in creation, just remember there are people with neurological disorders that make it medically impossible to make morally good decisions.

Also note that this chapter never states that the serpent is actually the devil. It's heavily implied, I know, but then the punishment that follows for the serpent doesn't make much sense. This chapter also seems to suggest God made the devil a liar deliberately.

... And he said to the woman: Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?

And the woman answered him, saying:... (Genesis 3:1-2)

"Holy shit, a talking snake, what the fuck??" Kidding, she never seems to question the presence of a talking snake. Maybe it was like a Disney movie and all the other animals could talk? I don't know. But it doesn't seem to matter, since humans at this point appear to have the IQ of a cup of noodles.

By the way, I didn't add those italics. I don't know why they're in the goddamn Bible.

... Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat; and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die. (3:2-3)

Well why the hell put the tree there in the first place? What purpose is there in a tree that causes people to die? Or what point is there in arbitrarily punishing people for eating from a tree that's like any other? It's like having a door that's not broken, won't set off an alarm, doesn't lead to a prohibited area, and has no special designation, but still has a sign on it that says "Use Other Door". Just put a fucking wall there!

Consider the obvious fact that Adam and Eve - who, I remind you, represent all of the potential future for humanity - are dumb as bricks, since it's implied that they were just created a day or so ago. They don't even know what lying is, for Christ's sake. And as far as they can tell, each fruit is like every other, and there's no reason for them to think their beloved God would plant a tree there just to trap them into becoming mortal. So for a more apt moral comparison, it's like filling a baby bottle with arsenic and then warning an infant not to drink from that one bottle, which looks the same as the other bottles.

This doesn't bode well for God's reputation as the moral nexus of the universe.

And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death. (3:4)

"You shall walk the walk."

For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil. (3:5)

I hate to bring this up, but... knowing the difference between good and evil is a good thing. Ignorance isn't virtuous, especially not as far as moral discrepancy is concerned. If you're wearing a blissful smile on your face while you're maiming and killing people... that's fucked up. God's word doesn't really have any input on that. And if you think it does, I'd like to stay as far away from you as possible.

Knowledge = gladness.

And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: (3:6)

"Um... Eve, the... the fruit, you're supposed to go for the fruit. Don't look at the tree like that. Keep your eye on the prize, Eve. Honey? Hello?"

...and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband who did eat. (3:6)

So she didn't even have to bother tempting Adam, she just handed the fruit to him and he said "Yes, Dear". Didn't he know it was the forbidden fruit? If he didn't then he was suckered into damnation and God was wrong to judge him, and if he did know then he was a passive moron. Did God not create intelligence yet?

And the eyes of them both were opened: and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves aprons. (3:7)

Okay, Christians, Jews, seriously, stop trying to pass off your prudishness as part of human nature, or from some unseen moral source. Human bodies can be pleasing to the eye. Oftentimes people want sex. We're not all suddenly going to become sex offenders if we admit that sex, even casual sex, can be nice. It's part of who were are. Get used to it.

Come to think of it, Adam and Eve were butt-naked back when they were without sin. And once they knew they had sinned they became ashamed of their nudity. So doesn't this mean that we can only be free from Original Sin if we're naked and not ashamed of it? The message is clear: all Christians must become nudists upon being saved. It's the only way to be sure.

Also, where did they get the thread and know-how to sew those leaves together? And were they really wearing aprons? That means their backsides were completely exposed, butt cheeks flapping in the wind.

Gah. I need goggles to read this thing.

And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise. (3:8)

Oh, so God's voice was walking along in paradise. That makes perfect sense. What the fuck does that mean? Sure I'm being an anal literalist, but why don't you tell me what the correct interpretation is? Did God have a body that was walking? Did he say something? Did Adam and Eve just sense him? What could the writers possibly have been trying to say??

And yeah, I know that God is omnipresent and omniscient, so Adam and Eve are being idiots for trying to hide. But then how does God alarm people like that? Did he just say "OOGA BOOGA, I AM HERE, FLEE BEFORE MY GODLINESS"?

And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him, Where art thou?

And he said: I heard thy voice in paradise and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself. (3:9-10)

Clever dick, that God, asking where Adam was. Adam had not yet learned the first lesson of not being seen: not to stand up.

Gotta sympathize with Adam here, though. I know I'd be afraid if I was naked and out in the open. This is textbook psychology stuff.

And he said to him: And who hath told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat? (3:11)
"Shouldst"? Quick posthumous tip for Olde English writers: if you can't pronounce it, don't write it. Can you imagine trying to contract the negative form of that word? "Shouldstn't."

And Adam said: The woman, whom though gavest me to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (3:12)

Adam: the world's first rat.

And the Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this? And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I did eat. (3:13)

Well, the snake asserted something that wasn't true. He didn't really go to great lengths to conceal his intentions. I know it's supposed to be the first lie in the history of creation, but where's the lesson in that? Were the writers afraid that Jews/Christians were so gullible as to believe anything a talking animal tells them? Then again, we are talking about people who take a fair amount of bullshit based on faith. If skepticism were the actual lesson then we'd all be a lot better off. Critical thinking does a clayman good.

We're all claymen, remember? We didn't evolve from goo, you know. God crafted us from clay. So instead of being treated like animals, we're supposed to be treated like... dirt... yeah...

I think you may have heard this before.

And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle,... (3:14)

Good thing the snake isn't a cow.

...and beasts of the earth. (3:14)

Damn, spoke too soon.

Upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. (3:14)

I'm pretty sure snakes don't eat dirt, unless God is assuming snakes keep their mouths wide open as they crawl along the dirt. God is kind of dense, isn't he?

I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. (3:15)

Hey, go easy on the snake, man. He's only doing what he does best. If you had just given him some legs, spats, and a top hat, he could have been a great entertainer. That would have been much more fulfilling (and awesome) than the cunning you gave him.

Also note the first instance where God creates hostilities where none existed previously. God's love at work, ladies and gentlemen. Just imagine how much suffering could have been alleviated if we were still at peace with snakes. Anti-venom would be obsolete. God must be pushing antidotes for profit.

I'm talking about living life on peaceful terms with snakes. Sometimes I think this book will drive me out of my damn mind.

To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions. In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee. (3:16)

Welcome to Misogyny 101.

About making childbearing painful... Did Eve have a wider pelvis before the Fall, and God shrunk her down a couple sizes? It's like a magical hereditary corset. This would also suggest that C-sections are sinful. Won't all our mothers be thrilled to find out.

Just going to interject an idea of mine, as if it's not what I've already been doing. What would have happened if Adam and Eve didn't have any kids? What if they told God "No, go fuck yourself" and lived the rest of their lives and died childless. That'd put God's panties in a bunch. He went through all this effort to create a universe to set himself up as master of the human race (Why?), and then the first generation just dies out uneventfully. What would he have done? Would he just say "Well, that happened" and start all over again? Would he try creating more humans? What if he did and didn't tell us? That'd be quite a story, I think. God keeps trying to make mortals to rule over, and evolution by natural selection beats him to it. God sounds like the kind of guy who could try over and over for 4 billion years without getting anywhere.

And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife,... (3:17)

Ohhh, so Adam's mistake was listening to his wife! That explains it. Nope, can't see where anyone gets any ideas of patriarchy from the Bible.

I think Adam should have said "Hey come on! The writers didn't even give me a chance to make an argument!" I know I'd be pissed if I were a character in a book that was this poorly written as to skip over a critical piece of dialogue.

...and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. (3:17)

If hard labour in the field is supposed to be Man's curse, isn't smart agriculture cheating? Why did no one give any explanation once agriculture technology yielded massive surpluses? Shouldn't someone have said that we have to leave our fates up to God? But then, that'd mean a lot of theocrats going hungry. You see if it were a woman trying to use reproductive technology, then it's a different story. We can't have women making decisions about their own lives, there's a God to appease!

Speaking of women and agriculture, since men are supposed to suffer in the fields, what about when women till the earth alongside men? Does God get pissed?

Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. (3:18)

Herbs? Do we have to? Can't we stick to fruit and meat? Next thing you know, you'll be forbidding us from eating bacon. But God wouldn't do that. Nope. That would be mighty stupid.

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread til thou return to the earth,... (3:19)

"And in the sweat of thy back shalt thou eat beef, and in the sweat of thy pant leg shalt thou eat butter..."

...out of which thou wast taken, and into dust thou shalt return. (3:19)

See? We're all claymen. Or dustmen. Whatever.

And Adam called the name of his wife Eve: because she was the mother of all the living. (3:20)

So Eve didn't have a name at this point? Did Adam just call her "woman" up until then? It seems so, since he's said a grand total of two things in his entire existence so far.

And I presume she's mother of all living humans, rather than other animals. And not the dead, fuck 'em.

And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skins, and clothed them. (3:21)

It's good that they glanced over the part where God makes the animals come apart at the seams. I don't think we needed to see that.

And he said: Behold Adam is become as one of us, knowing good and evil: now, therefore, lest perhaps he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever. (3:22)

What? What?? Wait, what?! They hadn't eaten from the tree of life yet?! Why?? They were allowed to before, and you didn't mention it? God is a cheating, selfish bastard. That means humans don't die because of Original Sin, it's just because God is a prick who didn't let them eat from the Immortality Tree. Then why create the tree in the first place??

And as for the extremely abstract Christian claim that "us" in this passage refers to the Trinity (three persons in one god and all that nonsensical nonsense), keep in mind there are angels that God appears to talk with routinely, including the devil. Or maybe he's just a schizophrenic.

And the Lord God sent him out of the paradise of pleasure, to till the earth from which he was taken. (3:23)


And he cast out Adam; and placed before the paradise of pleasure Cherubims, and a flaming sword, turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. (3:24)

Isn't it great proof for the Bible that we can't find Eden anymore? It must be under a spell, like Hogwarts. If one can claim that Eden exists somewhere, then I'm going to find a magical means of breaking in. You'd think someone would try by now, or at least that they'd mention such attempts in the Bible. Can't you imagine it, people trying to break into Eden, The Great Escape style? Just imagine how many tunnels Adam and his descendants must have dug.

The question that should be on all of our minds at this point is this: Where is the "promise of a Redeemer"? That's right! Abso-fucking-lutely nowhere. God just said "You fucked up, grab your shit and get the fuck out." The real point of this chapter is this: Don't piss off your boss.

This is supposed to be the epic story that is the prelude to the salvation of mankind. Let that sink in when doing further biblical readings. I expect better storytelling from The Office than I do here. This tale is flat, unsympathetic, and with no meaningful metaphors. Why this story? Why this creation story? There are better ways to communicate the Fall of Mankind than eating a piece of fucking fruit. Literally interpreted, the story sucks. Figuratively interpreted, the story blows.

So do you understand now why God needed to send his beloved Son to bloody himself for our own good? I don't. But hey, we're just reading it from beginning to end, so that we're always thinking in context, right? At some point it'll all make sense, right?

After all, we've just started page 4. Only 1,228 pages to go...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back at school, at work...

And feeling more at home too. Really, you have no idea how much better it is to be here rather than at "home" in New Jersey. Finally I'm free from being regularly subjected to the hateful ramblings of the likes of Rimbaugh and Herr Ratzinger. Well, free to torture myself with them when I choose to anyway. I'm kind of a masochist like that.

So now I'm back with my Xiaohuan (big woot for that ^_^ <3), with my social life (whatever social life that is), with greater productivity in both school and work, with my games and my gaming circles, with my own room and mini-fridge, and with an all-around better selection of foods. Me and Xiaohuan already made a chocolate cake. You can't get that kind of goodness on your own at home. Not if you're me, anyway.

But just as importantly for the few desperate souls who waste time reading my blog, I'm back with my Douay-Rheims Bible. Oh yes. Doodlemastery Bible School classes will resume on Sunday, if not sooner. We have a lot of catching up to do, after all. We're going to up the pace with this, so get ready for some more poor English translations and nonsensical interpretations of God's good word. We're really going for it this time.

Just a quick note about my writing style. I've noted how lately my posts tend toward angry rants, going on about the idiocy of certain facets of culture, particularly religion. Well there'll be more sideswipes and deconstructions of religion in general and fundamentalism in particular, but more in the style of my prior posts where I was a more calm, sarcastic bastard. I liked that tone of voice better, to be honest. I don't pull off the enraged lunatic feel very well. So less lamentations and more wry quips are in store for any who give a shit.

All this and more on Doodlemastery.

But wait! There's more!

(There's no more for right now, that's all I could think of.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Because I know no better

Maybe now I ought to write how I feel at the moment.

I wish I knew more about how you feel. About him, about me, about life. But that knowledge would only be a means to me, not an end. I'm not especially jealous, and I shouldn't be, considering everything I put you through. I want to know so that I can understand better and try to help you get through it. I just hate seeing you suffer. That's partly what happened when I first said I'd change and try harder. It had to be rammed into my skull, but I realized the extent to which you were suffering because of my obliviousness.

And now I see you suffering because of old wounds and continuing uncertainty. And I'm afraid because I don't know what to do when it's too much for you to bear. I wish I could ease your burden, make it easier to get through the day. But sometimes I'm just not sure what to do. I'm trying, and I'm going to try as hard as I can this semester. If all goes as planned there should be a lot of great memories at the end of it. I just hope it will be enough for you to go on, that maybe it'll lift your spirits and give you more confidence in finding your own happiness in life. To be a part of that would be a great honor for me. It would be a part of my own happiness.

I know the heartbreak you felt and the memories you bear are far worse than anything I've ever had to experience, but to some degree I understand. That's why I want you to know that I'm here. I'll try to understand what's tearing you up inside, and share the pain just to let you know you're not alone. You're not. As long as we're together I'll be here for you. Talk to me if you need to. Let me know what I need to do. Don't shy away from telling the truth. All that matters is that we get through it as best as we can, and enjoy what we have along the way.

You said I like you because I think you're the person you pretend to be. That's not true. I like you for you. I don't expect you to be sunny all the time, but when you're not I want you to know I'm here, and I'll listen and support you as best as I can. And as for the pretending: You remember Nyu? She's the girl Lucy said she'd be if she never had horns. But to some degree that's who she really was, when the voice of her instincts didn't have control over her. Do you really want to be cute and cheerful? I think you are, when the world allows you to be. But you're stronger than that, strong enough to be cheerful in spite of the world. I don't think being angry often makes that cheerfulness any less genuine. Everyone has more than one dimension to them, and happiness is another dimension in your life too. I want to help you be who you want to be. It takes strength to be cute ;)

And you are cute in spite of your troubles, Xiaohuan.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

No Bible review, but a general review of biblical things

Yeah, big disappointment, but as soon as I get back to that copy of the Bible I have on campus I'll resume tearing it apart (metaphorically) starting from Chapter 3 of Genesis. In case you've forgotten I ever did that sort of thing, here's Part 1 and here's Part 2. I might, might do Part 3 next week, but that's unlikely. So the week after, definitely.

Really. For sure.

In the meantime, I have to comment on that particular bit of literature and its impact on humanity. No, not the Necronomicon, that'd be too interesting. Maybe you've heard of this new movie The Book of Eli, the story of a man on a quest in a post-apocalyptic world, at odds with a despotic villain who knows of the power Eli has, with the hope of humanity hanging in the balance. I'm going to ruin this for you: it's a Bible. The guy owns a King James Bible, supposedly the only one left in existence. Yeah, because in the future suddenly the most stubborn faith America's ever known is totally abandoned because... the plot demands it. And where the hell did all the Bibles go? Isn't it supposed to be the most published book in existence? And isn't this a "Christian nation"? Really, do they expect us to buy this? America's population is far more religious than just about any other first world country, and you notice ours isn't doing quite as well in terms of economic stability, equality, freedom, democracy, health, happiness... okay, you get the idea. So yeah, we're least likely to survive Armageddon, but whoever's left is bound to be reinterpreting the Bible to explain why the end of the world isn't quite the end of the world.

After all, you can reinterpret the Bible to explain the earthquake in Haiti, because absolutely everything must be explained from a biblical perspective if you own a Bible and can't get your nose out of it. Yeah, as far as I can tell most of the news coverage of the earthquake is decidedly secular, but some of our religious residents feel the need to comment on how this fits into their particular worldview. Which is perfectly alright, as long as I have the chance to logically dismantle their arguments. For instance, I've been personally (repeatedly) confronted with the interpretation of the Haitian people as being "good people" because of their religious conviction. I don't doubt that they're good people - whatever the hell that's supposed to mean - but I don't much fancy folks being defined by their beliefs. I don't deem people to be "good" just because they're atheists, just that they have more realistic religious views than theists. It has no more moral bearing on people than if they preferred stuffing to potatoes. Hearing about Haitians singing hymns amidst the rubble in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake does not exactly warm my heart, regardless of comparisons to the Whos of Whoville.

Did that sound inappropriate to you? Sounded that way to me when I first heard it, spoken as if it were bemusedly insightful. For Christ's sake, their capital city is in ruins. Cute little tidbits about their deeply-held convictions have no place in serious conversations, especially not at a time like this.

I gotta get out of Jersey.

But leaving the state will not save me from the ramblings of Pat Robertson. If you haven't heard his latest babbling nonsense about Haiti, you've been missing all the good television. He's claiming that the Haitians did a deal with the devil back when they were slaves rebelling against "Napoleon the Third or whatever". I love the way he quotes the devil himself. "Okay, it's a deal." Apparently the devil is a used car salesman. That's a decidedly shortsighted deal on the part of the Haitian slaves, don't you think? "Oh yeah, he's the master of lies, but he's also the master of great savings." Okay, what exactly did the devil do to help the Haitians get freed? Near as I can tell the Haitian rebels did a fine job of defeating the French on their own. Could it be that Napoleon (the Third or whatever) had no interest in maintaining his American territories? Nooo, I'm sure it was our awesome Americanness that made him sell the Louisiana territory to the United States. And how exactly does a deal with the devil entail economic poverty and political instability? I'm pretty sure those events that led to Haiti's sufferings unfolded by themselves without some magic imp with a pitchfork egging people on.

This brings up another interesting problem with the whole "deal with the devil" idea. What does the devil get out of it? Haiti is in ruins and suffers continuously and... then what? What good does that do the foul deceiver? Okay, Dick Cheney probably has some interests in human suffering, but what about Satan? What benefit or profit is there in this deal? Power? I'm pretty sure the devil would have all the power he could want. Hell, if direct possession of a human being's body is within his power, what isn't? God doesn't seem to care about keeping him in check that much. Sure, the guy in the sky saves a soul here and there, but that's just for PR (which is doing remarkably well, I might add). Once you're on this earth, you're in Hades territory. All the holy water and biblical babbling in the world can't keep cancer at bay, so what good does it do against the devil? So if the deal isn't for power, what else could a supernatural entity want? Just watching human suffering? Hell, I can do that for free. I could watch myself watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to do that. Or does the devil want souls? If he wants the souls, I think he can get them himself. For fuck's sake, if he can possess a person, why doesn't he just make the guy curse God's name and kill himself? I have to doubt God would really care whether a person intends to do what he does. It's the action and not the intent, you know what I mean? If not, then I'm sure God would be perfectly alright with two people of the same gender being sexually involved with each other, right?

So what does that leave us with? There's not really any other reason why a demigod - in effect if not in name would be interested in freeing some slaves in return for making their descendants miserable. Ohhh it's because he's EVIL, right? That's the hallmark of bad writing, in my opinion. So he has no personal reasons for doing what he does, he just does it, because... the plot demands it. Great. We're right back where we started. Basically we've restated what Socrates said way back in the dialogue Euthyphro, that there's really no way to serve anyone with godlike powers.

Can you hear me in the back, Herr Holiness?

So what does all this have to do with the Bible? An excellent question. How many objections to these issues would include anything to do with the Bible? I've heard the complaint that the view Pat Robertson presents on his show is not a biblical one, but I have to point out that the Bible has no one single perspective, and any perspectives in there are bound to be ones that no living human being still retains without believing themselves to be a biblical character. Have you read the Bible lately? Man, I try to get through it from beginning to end and I'm already sidetracked on the third chapter by the monumental quantities of stupid that precede it. There's a lot of things in that there Bible that most self-proclaimed Christians tend to ignore, for reasons fairly obvious. So, who's biblical now? I'm guessing sociopaths and inbred mountain folk. Doesn't that give you so much confidence, knowing our leaders are such pillars of virtue with a biblical perspective on life?

My whole point with this is that the Bible is really irrelevant. Totally and completely, with the exception of a few nutters. Even Christian fundamentalism is a religion that's only about one hundred years old, part of a revival movement in the Western world concerned totally with contemporary issues that matter only to social conservatives: sexually promiscuity and deviance, irreverence, and questioning the way the world works. It's just very handy that the writers of the Bible were as ignorant and bigoted as the leaders of the conservative movement.

The Bible's not a guide you see, it's a reference.

And as for the Bible's impact on people who have never read it before: if they're impressed, it's because they want to ignore all the awful bits in favor of the more "Christian" parts. If there was only one Bible left on earth, its contents would not remake the world. There's far more important ideas to preserve, and human beings are far more important than any of those ideas. That makes the people of Haiti worth more than all the Bibles on earth, so what good would "turning to faith" (as if they didn't have enough) do for them now? When a nation is in a state of ruin and people are in despair, belief in oneself and in other human beings does far more than anything contained in any one tome.

If only someone could tell the makers of The Book of Eli that. It'd save a whole lot of moviegoers money.

Please welcome our next sucker!

Game Show Network seems to be the only worthwhile television for the time being, and that's even taking into account the coverage of the earthquake in Haiti. If I want reliable news, I'll go to the BBC. In the meantime I'll watch mind-bogglingly stupid contestants make fools of themselves on unmemorable game shows.

These shows are idiotic by design, and quite obviously so. The prime example is Deal or No Deal, a show where nothing substantial happens and greed overwhelms what little sense these contestants have. Oh god... having Greed flashbacks... Chuck Woolery... No! Agh! Get away from me!

Where was I? Ah! Deal or No Deal, the show where 26 samples of eye candy present the player with 26 cases labeled with meaningless numbers that you can pick in any order without affecting the outcome of the game in any way. Each case contains an amount of money (okay, a tile with the number of the prize money on it) ranging from one cent to $1 million, and the contestant gets to choose one, since choice is the foundation of American life. Once you do the math and acknowledge the logic behind the design of the game, it becomes clear that your choice of a case does not affect your odds of winning for or against you. Which nicely sums up the impact of your case choices for the remainder of the show. The game proceeds with the contestant choosing and opening the remaining 25 cases, eliminating the hope that their case contains any of the revealed amounts. In other words, once you choose your case, if you open the case with $1 million, you know for a fact that you've lost the top prize. Isn't this a nice game? It tells you in advance that you're a loser the moment you started. Most game shows will bullshit contestants into thinking they can win more money than they'll earn in their whole lives, even though it's made perfectly clear from the moment of their introduction that all contestants are hand-picked for their blithering idiocy. For entertainment value, you see. Folks at home want to feel smart by comparison.

Despite this, many contestants on Deal or No Deal proclaim with very obnoxious attitudes that their case is indeed the million dollar case. Nooo, you don't know that, and you can't know that. You hope it's the million dollar case, but what you know is that odds are 25 out of 26 that you don't have it. In fact, your odds of having the million dollars are as good as your odds of choosing the penny. And even if you choose the right case, you have to play all the way to the end, eliminating alternate prizes until you decide to risk everything just to see if you got it out of sheer blind luck. In other words, there's no intelligent way to play this game. But chances are, if you're on the set, you're too stupid to know that. And it's great to watch. It appeals to the sadomasochist in all of us.

Oh, but there's more. Our host is Howie Mandel, a former comedian if you can believe it, and given his performances on the show, I find the "former" part highly plausible. Every so often the contestant must stop choosing cases so that Howie can pretend to talk into a ringing remote control, supposedly linked us with the "Banker", a man we can only see in silhouette in a booth overlooking the set. I'm sorry, but the Banker is not at all an effective villain, even for a game show, so stop acting like he's the biggest ass in the world. It has no impact on the show and he's not memorable at all. Although that lack of memorability does explain why they made Darth Vader the guest banker in a special Star Wars-themed episode...

Excuse me, a little part of me just died right there.

The Banker - who acts nothing at all like the respectable moneyholder all Monopoly players are familiar with - makes the contestant cash offers based on their odds of getting a better prize. The object of this is partly to tempt the players to stop, but mostly to expose them for the greedy fucks they are and later to taunt them mercilessly when they knock out all the big prizes and the offers drop. It is at the moment that an offer is made that a contestant can either say "Deal" and push the Deal button to accept the prize offered, or "No Deal" and close the plastic casing on the button to continue playing a mindless game of press-your-luck. Wait, no... Press Your Luck... Peter Tamarkin... Come on come on, Big Bucks Big Bucks Big Bucks, no Whammy no Whammy STOP!

Ack... I'm a very sad person...

So over the course of watching this show so many times, I and some members of my family have devised numerous ways to rob the show of any of its intended entertainment value.

1) Get rid of the cases. My father for once made a very wise observation: The cases choices are meaningless, so this game is essentially just offers with people declining them thinking they can somehow get something better. So if that's all the gameplay there is, then just get rid of the cases and the models and don't let the contestants choose any numbers at all. You could run this game with any random number generator. In fact, you don't even need a host or a Banker. That'd be quite the game show, wouldn't it? Just a contestant and a laptop, and a leering audience which finally gets to see just how much this game really amounts to on a personal level. The laptop assigns the contestant with a random unknown prize, then it eliminates prizes all on its own, only showing the results with the calculated offers for the contestant to say "Deal" or "No Deal" - represented in this case with the retro Interweb key placement of "Y" or "N". Basically the game will look like this:

Round one:

$18,000 - Y/N?

Round two:

$35,000 - Y/N?

Round three:

$22,000; You may no longer win $1,000,000 or $750,000 or $500,000 - Y/N?

Etc, etc. Reviting, isn't it?

2) Accept the first offer. When a contestant accepts an offer, they're asked what their hypothetical next choices of cases would have been if they continued to play, and the resulting offers are also displayed simply to mock them, before their own case is finally opened to reveal whether they made a "good" or "bad" Deal. Like it matters. So what if the contestant accepts the very first offer they get at the beginning of the game? For one, the audience and host would be baffled as something like that has never happened before and never will, since greed (not the show of the same name... >_<) is the driving force behind the whole show. The pointless involvement of a few of the contestant's family on the side will never have started. And best of all, all of the remaining cases would have to be opened one at a time. All of them. That's 19 cases after the first round to open. That's at least a half dozen hypothetical offers to blaze through. It would be the most pointless and tedious game ending of all, and I'd love every second of it.

3) Go with your case; play all the way through the cases without hesitation. This was my idea, and consequently my favorite. The best way to do this is to show how meaningless the order of case choice is, by choosing the cases in order. Your case is number 1, your next choices of eliminated cases will be 2, 3, 4, 5, etc, until the final two cases are your case 1 and the other case 26. The only way to thoroughly mock the game by playing in this way is to not even consider any of the offers. As soon as Howie raises the plastic casing around the Deal button, you have to slam it back down without giving any time to the offer or even for Howie to say "Deal or No Deal?" (I only recently saw someone do this after the first round. A contestant actually chose the cases based on random draws from a bag of numbered ping pong balls, and then when the first offer came up she closed the case before Howie could ask if she wanted to take the offer. I doubt I'll ever see how that show ends.)

So much of this game show is padding based on case selection and offers that you have to blow right past all of it and continue choosing the cases in order, despite all reason or force-fed tension. Since family members are asked to stand on the sidelines and cheer the contestant on, the family must also adopt this mindless mentality in order to shut Howie up and get the game over with. Contestant and family must all approach this without any hint of involvement or emotion (especially not humor, since cracking a smile ruins the dry feel of the joke being played on the show). Attempts at small talk should be met with direct monosyllabic responses (yes, no, etc), the face should be completely blank with the body giving no indication of disposition whatsoever, and whenever Howie tries to make the contestant or the family members stop and consider their odds of winning, all should give the direct and unthinking response of "Play the game, Howie." The facade must be complete, even for commercial breaks. The contestant should just stand there without saying a word until the game resumes and then they proceed selecting the cases in order and immediately declining all offers.

It would be a monumentally stupid occasion for all of television history. And I would bask in that moment of glory when pointless, mindless, boring game shows like that get contestants who treat the game in the same way.

All this is an excellent reason to move to Japan immediately.