August 29th, 2009



  • 08:12 What is with that song where the guy has a BBQ stained shirt when meeting a girl? Can't he at least wear a clean shirt when cruising? #
  • 08:16 @eehouls That line about lobbyists preferring govt health care doesn't even make sense. They're the ones who represent CORPORATE interests! #
  • 08:21 @oz_diggs What about Terrybubble? Have you drawn him yet? #
  • 08:22 @JaredofMo Will her kid's name be Audrey II? #
  • 08:23 RT @eehouls RT @palafo Gawker is unhappy with lack of nasty trolls on Twitter. #
  • 08:25 @JaredofMo Not evil, just undesirable. #
  • 08:31 @3x1minus1 I used to have the Super Mario Bros. 2 theme as my ringtone. I miss those days. #
  • 08:31 @Clamanity Wolverine? #
  • 08:32 @bclevinger Well, it's not really that easy to see your own ass. #
  • 08:37 @comicgoodness What, kissing her brother wasn't ENOUGH incest for Leia? #
  • 08:40 @michaelianblack They call them "Jubilee" because they're 49 years old. #
  • 08:42 @JaredofMo I'd like to hear another one about artwork, like the one you did for "Ozma." #
  • 12:28 @JaredofMo I'll do it, if we can organize it properly. And I have the book that we're discussing, of course. {g} #
  • 12:36 @Clamanity Does he cut fabric with his adamantium claws? #
  • 12:37 @comicgoodness Did S
    ean Hannity come up with that comic? #
  • 12:45 I think people are only still talking about Chippaquiddick because they like saying the name. #
  • 12:46 I have no need of boycotting Whole Foods, because I never shopped there anyway. #
  • 12:51 Beth says Reading Rainbow is being canceled. #
  • 13:34 Even if I were a theist, I'm not sure I'd be okay with people using "God" as a proper name. God is what he DOES, not who he IS. #
  • 20:10 @InBloomers The Easter Bunny's proper name is Nicholas. Or am I thinking of Santa Claus? #
  • 20:24 @comicgoodness Harvey Kent? Was he a relative of Superman's? #
  • 20:49 Link: Court Throws Out Ban on Snake Oil Salesman - Great, it looks like we’ll be seeing this douchebag on TV... #
  • 20:53 Hey, let's all pirate Orrin Hatch's eulogy for Ted Kennedy! #
  • 20:59 Did they just say the piano player's first name is Fetus? #
  • 21:39 Photo: A pink fairy armadillo #
  • 22:18 Why does Taylor Swif
    t count as a country singer? #
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Catholic Block

We watched two episodes of Bullshit! tonight, one on stress and the other on the Vatican. The stress episode didn't really have too much to say that hasn't been said before, but it DID make fun of aromatherapy. Basically, the main idea was that stress can be useful sometimes, and trying to eliminate it makes no sense. In my college health class, the professor talked about eustress and distress, which, loosely speaking, are "good" and "bad" kinds of stress. I was thinking that Penn and Teller might bring this up, but they didn't.

The Vatican episode brought up several points, but they focused a good deal on an Italian comedian who was threatened with jail time for claiming that the Pope would be going to Hell. The case was thrown out, but the Vatican had to make a show of power. Really, living in a country where Catholicism has pretty much always been a minority religion, with a common belief throughout our history being that Catholics are traitors to the country because they're more loyal to the Pope, I'm somewhat inclined to go easy on the papists. But when I hear about something like the ban on condoms, the resistance to the decriminalization of homosexuality in some countries, or the cover-up of sexual abuse by priests, I remember that there's still a fair amount of nastiness in the Vatican's practices. I'm not too surprised to hear that the current Pope is regressive in his thoughts and policies. I mean, this is a guy whose first speech after being appointed Head Pontiff espoused absolute morality, and who later attacked the Harry Potter books. And people think this guy is infallible? Well, when you get right down to it, they probably really don't. Not only did the idea of papal infallibility not become official church policy until 1870, but if Benedict were to suddenly have an epiphany and say, "Hey, I don't think condoms and gay marriage are that bad after all!", do you really think the powers behind the throne would accept this? That's one reason why I don't believe in infallibility. Anyone can make mistakes, especially if they're relying more on dogma than on evidence. Of course, like all religious denominations, Catholicism has its pros and cons. They're rather behind on homosexuality and birth control, but they're more willing to accept evolution than the fundamentalists, and that's at least a step in the right direction. As usual, the important thing is to examine each issue separately, and not accept anything wholesale, even if it DOES come from a man of God.

I can tell you, it's a Herculean task

Amazing strength is a common trait among the semi-divine, but the most famous mythological strong man is, of course, Hercules. And for some reason, he's pretty much always called "Hercules" in our culture, even when the other mythological figures are referred to by their Greek names. Technically speaking, Herakles is the son of Zeus, and Hercules is the son of Jupiter. The figure of Herakles came to Rome by way of the Etruscans, who referred to the hero as "Hercle." The cult of Hercules was popular throughout the Roman world, and Wikipedia suggests that images of the demigod might have inspired the Buddhist Nio statues of East Asia.

I'm sure everyone knows the tales of Hercules, if only from Disney movies or campy Sunday afternoon television, so I won't bother recapping the story of his birth and labors in full. I will, however, mention some of the odder and more interesting aspects of the vast mythology that developed around the son of Zeus.

  • In his youth, he was struck by his music teacher Linus for his inattention, and inadvertently killed Linus with his own, I mean, lyre.
  • I've mentioned this before, but how Herakles, in a fit of Hera-inspired madness, killed the children he'd had with his first wife, Megara of Thebes, bears repeating.
  • On his way to retrieve the cattle of the three-bodied giant Geryon, he engaged in a bit of Paul Bunyan style terraforming, building pillars along the sides of the Strait of Gibraltar. These are still known as the Pillars of Hercules, and I believe I've seen suggestions that a version of Hercules was the main god worshipped in the lost Iberian city of Tartessos. The same journey involved Herakles trying to shoot the Sun with an arrow, the boldness of which act so impressed Helios that the god gave the strong man the disc of the Sun to use as a boat.
  • He was forced to cross-dress while serving as a domestic servant to Omphale of Lydia. As with his Labors, this was the result of a murder brought on by madness, this time of his friend Iphitus of Oechalia.
  • According to Diodorus Siculus, he established the first Olympic Games, but most other accounts contradict this.
  • The man did a fair amount of wrestling, with opponents including Antaeus of Libya and the sons of Proteus. He even wrestled Death himself (known as Thanatos to the Greeks) in order to restore his friend Admetus' wife Alcestis to life. Maybe the beating he took from Herakles is the reason Death stuck to chess after that. {g}
  • He aided the Olympians in driving off an attack by giants. For some reason, the gods needed a mortal to assist them in repelling the invasion.
  • He killed a sea monster sent by Poseidon to attack Troy, only to sack the city himself and hold Podarces (later known as Priam) for ransom when Podarces' father Laomedon refused to give Herakles the reward he had originally promised.
  • The Troy McClure movie The Erotic Adventures of Hercules (by way of The Simpsons, natch) wasn't really as far-fetched as it might seem at first glance, as one story told of Herakles is that he had sex with and impregnated all fifty daughters of King Thespius of Thespiae in one night, with the rulers of Sparta and Macedon tracing their ancestry back to this affair.
  • One adventure in which he did not prevail was a drinking contest with Dionysus.

The semi-divine hero's life was ended by a cloak woven by his last wife Deianeira and laced with hydra venom by a vengeful centaur, but he was granted a place in Olympus and a marriage to Zeus's daughter Hebe in his afterlife.