The Boy who Cried Rapture!

The Boy who Cried Rapture!

With it being almost a week since ol’ Harold Camping’s rapture prophesy proved erroneous… again. He has since come out to admit that he did not configure his rapture deadline “as accurately as I could have.” Still he rallied a few short days after his worldwide rapture prophesy failed, revised his Bible math once again and is sure that the end of the world will now come about October 21st of this year.

Now the last time that Harold got this wrong, he at least left us alone for a good 15 years, before singing that same old song. Personally I would have appreciated the same courtesy this time around. I think if you are going to break the socially accepted standard (that I just made up) of one failed end of the world prophesy per lifetime then there should be at least a 15 year hush period before giving it another go.

When his first end of the world failure happened in 1994 Harold told Steve Gill Radio, “It’s a learning curve, like with anything, the first time someone rode a bicycle if it didn’t have training wheels they’d fell over. And you have to get more experience.” Oh well that clears things right up, thanks Har… wait, what the hell does that even mean?

When asked by The Independent (UK) why his May 21st prophesy was different than his 1994 prophesy he said, “At that time there was a lot of the Bible I had not really researched very carefully…But now, we’ve had the chance to do just an enormous amount of additional study and God has given us outstanding proofs that it really is going to happen.” Is it just me or does anyone else find mildly amusing that a Bible scholar would choose to use the excuse of ‘not studying the bible enough’ for why his end of the world deadline failed to bring the end of the world… absolutely priceless.

Even while I’m writing this I’m trying to decide why I’m giving this whole thing not just one but two separate Smirks. I do find it a little fascinating, not the rapture bit, but the unwarranted credibility that people have been so willing to give this man’s claim, especially after being wrong, twice, soon to be three times! The only thing that I can guess is that the power of advertising is much stronger than I ever imagined it was. Although having 55 radio stations to push your opinions probably helped a bit.

It kind of reminds me of that kid in grade school that promises he did his math homework and gets called to the front of the class to work the problem on the board. He works the problem and gets it wrong, so he does it again, same outcome. All the while keeps lying to the class, reassuring everyone that, “I did my homework. I know this.” Eventually it’s obvious he has no clue what the answer is or even how to get the answer, but he doesn’t care because he loves the attention he gets standing in front of everyone while making random guesses claiming it is the right answer each time. “The answer is 21, I mean 9, no 13, I mean 47, I mean 5.” Well, you get the idea.

In the end though, this whole event left me a little melancholy. This old man’s opinion, which he peddled as unshakable truth, motivated so many people to act in heartbreaking ways. Some people believed this man so assuredly that they quit their jobs, spent their life savings and/or maxed out their credit cards to warn others about the undeniable end. Then you have others who were so afraid by his end of the world propaganda that they attempted suicide, some even succeeded.

Harold’s response to this was, “I don’t have any responsibility. I can’t take responsibility for anybody’s life. I’m only teaching the Bible.” Now I have a number of friends that are Christian and according to them the Bible does teach a good deal about loving for and caring for your fellow human, which does bring up the question. Has Harold actually read the book that he claims to be a scholar on? Only he can answer that, but based on this track record for using it to predict the end, he’s not a very good reader. It would seem he struggles a great deal with reading comprehension.

I guess for me, the message of today’s Smirk is don’t spend your life waiting for a reward in an afterlife that may or may not happen. You are alive now, live the life you know you have. Make today and everyday worth living, because in the end it’s not about how you might live, it’s about how lived.

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: saying oops, chalkboard, and Pinocchio.

© Richard Timothy 2011

Ding! Bring out your Raptured!

Ding! Bring out your Raptured!

Today’s Smirk was unavoidable thanks to Harold Camping, a somewhat religious 89 year old guy who has been prophesying on his 55 radio stations and on some 2000 billboards across America that “The End”, you know the big one, the final farewell, the day the heavenly escalator is finally completed, the joyride to the stars, the day the Earth said “bugger it”, and the eternal blue light special will begin this Saturday, May 21st in Jerusalem starting at sundown. What I find so entertaining about this whole thing is that this is Harold’s second attempt at insighting the “Rapture.”

It’s true! Harold’s first attempt at predicting the end of the world was back in 1994. He was even kind enough to put in print. His book “Are You Ready?” was filled with the methods he used to add up numbers in the Bible to decrypt the versed book and proclaimed to all that the world would end in September of 1994. After this unraptured event came and passed, the only thing I can think of is that ol’ Harold went back to work and realized that he either A) missed a decimal point, or B) forgot to carry over the remainder and add it to the final number. Bible math must be hard.

This does bring up one key question though, what is the limit on “End of the World” predictions for one individual? Personally, I’m perfectly fine with incorporating the “everybody gets just one” rule, but any more than that and, well, ol’ Harold is now the boy who cried “The End”. What’s surprising to me is how seriously he is being taken by so many people for someone who has already got it wrong once before.

For those of you who don’t know (and I just so happen to be one of those people) the term rapture, when used as a verb, is (according to some millenarian teachings) the first stage of the second coming of Christ, where he will transport all his believers from earth to heaven. As a noun however, it just means a feeling of intense pleasure, which I think is something we can all agree would be wonderful to have in our lives on a daily basis. In looking back at the verb approach to the word I’ve got to say it would seem that the true warning for tomorrow goes out to all the sky divers around the world, watch out for floating people on your way down. Could you imagine getting all raptured up, heading to heaven and then next thing you know you are plummeting to the earth because sky diver ended up nailing you on his way down. Talk about a bummer.

I’d like to point out that along with ol’ Harold’s two End of the World forecasts, that brings my Google search for “failed end of the world prophecies” up to around 232, although I’m sure there’s more out there somewhere. At a quick glance it looks like the year 2000 is the winner so far with a whopping 15 failed end of the world prophecies. Oh Y2K you were such a kidder.

I think the important thing to remember about this whole thing is that if you do have friends or family that are all caught up in this latest end of the world fad, remember the brilliant concept that was so clearly expressed in the Bambi all those years ago, “If you can’t say something nice… don’t say nothing at all.” This is similar to the concept of treating people the way you would like to be treated. When you make an ass of yourself, you don’t appreciate having it rubbed in your face, try to remember that before you call to gloat that they are still here come Sunday. If you must call, just let them know that you’re glad they are still around. However, if the rapture ready person was a complete ass to you, well then they treated you the way they wanted to be treated and I really see no harm in rubbing it in a little.

All this rapture talk does bring up one last question though… do you think if someone was getting all raptured up floating away on their way up and yell out, “So long and thanks for all the fish,” would that be like letting the air out of your rapture flotation device and return them to earth for being a smart ass? Yes, here at Smirk I am willing to ask those difficult rapture questions that everyone wonders about, but are afraid to ask.

Any thoughts? Oh, and see you all Monday!

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: the rapture, the is near, and be nice.

© Richard Timothy 2011

What the F#$%!… Ahhh, that’s Better.

What the F#$%!… Ahhh, that’s Better.

My first experience with partaking in the crass entertainment of the verbal art know as profanity was, like most people I know, a parroted response that I had picked up from spending time with adults. My education in profanity is most apparent from the years I spent visiting my grandparents. My grandmother had a gift for dropping things in the kitchen and then cursing under her breath as the dropped item clanged, crashed, or shattered on the floor. When my brother and I would hear these words our eyes would grow in “she said a swear” surprise and then we would start to giggle, which seems to be the standard when for people who choose not partake in profanity. Every time I swear around my non-swearing friends, family, strangers… the random religion peddler that knocks on my door, they always giggle when I include profanity in my conversations with them, which let’s face it, only encourages me to swear more around them… and Smirk.

Swearing or not swearing is usually a choice. Some reject it on grounds of being offensive, which never made much sense to me since the most offensive things I’ve ever heard in my life had no profanity in them what so ever. Other people embrace profanity and make it apart of their everyday vocabulary. There are however some situations where swearing becomes more reactionary than choice.

For example, the first time I said shit was a result of me hitting my thumb with a hammer. The pain shot to my brain and my brain responded by making me yell “shit” very loudly without consulting me first to see if I was ok with that. The fact that I had sworn so proficiently and with no effort on my part was more surprising to me than the pain from smashing my thumb… at least for a while.

Likewise, I have heard stories were a fair amount of colorful metaphors are loudly flung at every person in the delivery room from the lady in the metal stirrups in the middle of the room. Granted most of these words are directed toward the man that had assisted in getting her is this current situation, but I’ve also been told that anyone who says “breathe” to the expectant mother is usually met with insinuations that they belong to the canine family, are of the female persuasion, and had better “shut it.” Turns out there is probably a good chance that none of that profanity was intended to be hurtful, quite the opposite actually, at least according to a new study I read about in Time this past week, profanity reduces pain.

Richard Stephens, a psychologist at Keele University in England, published a study where he took 67 students and had them stick their hands in cold water; bloody cold water at that. Just for the record these students were volunteers as opposed to having Stephens randomly kidnapping students and having them place their hands in cold water while they slept, which I think produces entirely different results… and a court hearing. During this exercise they students would chant a non-swear word while their hand was immersed in the cold water. They would pull their hand out of the water once the pain got too much for them to handle.

During round two, after their fingers and hands had returned to their normal temperature, the students were asked to say a profanity of their choice over and over again while their hand was immerged the cold water. The result, the students said the pain was less and on an average the students endured the cold 40 seconds longer than they did when they were not swearing.

What words of wisdom did Stephens offer after he had completed his study? “I would advise people, if they hurt themselves, to swear.”

So the next time you get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, or get a midnight snack, or for whatever reason and you accidentally stub your toe in the dark, follow the example of Ralphie of A Christmas Story fame and just say it:

“Oooh fuuudge! Only I didn’t say “Fudge.” I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the ‘F-dash-dash-dash’ word!”

It may not be polite, or “civilized speech,” or the type of language a good person should use, but it will help you feel better, damn it.

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: swear words, hitting hand with hammer, and hand in ice water.

© Richard Timothy 2011

Disney and the Dark Side

Disney and the Dark Side

I don’t know about you, but when I think Disney, the first thing that always comes to mind… “Jedi training”. Ok fine, truth is I’ve never connected Jedi’s to Disney in my entire life… that is until yesterday. I came across a little news blurb about an event that happened at the Jedi Training Academy at Disneyland (Tomorrowland) that was just, well, so strong in the force that I couldn’t help but Smirk about it.

So apparently this Jedi Training Academy is a live-action show where volunteers, kids ages 4 to 12, are randomly selected from the audience to become Padawans, aka Jedi’s in training, aka the little ones who have yet to take off the training wheels from their “force” filled bicycle of life. To those Star Wars purists who may feel a twinge of rage as the complete and utter blatant disregard for true Padawan selection, just remember it’s for the kids and it is Disney, so it will never be a true representation of reality… especially when that reality is completely made up.

The audience selected Padawans are taken on stage where they don the Padawan dirt colored robe and begin to train with a “Jedi Master”. As an audience member, aka the kids not selected to go on stage or the parents to the kid either not selected to go on stage or to one of the kids on stage, you get to sit and watch the little people in their brown robes recite the sacred Jedi Oath.

But wait! That’s not all! You also get to stare in amazement as these kids are trained by a “true” Jedi Master in “ancient battle techniques” using their light sabers. Ok, now I’ll admit watching a bunch of little kids run around on stage trying to whack the other Padawans on stage is a plastic light saber just reeks of comedic value… like the four year olds at a dance recital, there is not telling what the outcome will be, but you know you are going to laugh.

So after the getting geared up, after the Oath, and after the light saber training finally comes the conflict, a disturbance in the force. Followed by a cameo by the man in black himself… no, the other man in black, not the original man in black. I just can’t imagine a bunch of 4 to 12 year olds getting all that excited about seeing a Johnny Cash look alike, although for the record I’m pretty sure he could have beaten Vader down. Anyway, so Darth shows up leading a bunch of Stormtroopers.

This beings the climax of the show, where one of the newly Oathed and Trained Padawans gets the honor of facing off with the Lord or the Dark Side. Sounds a little daunting doesn’t it? Well earlier this year as the battle was reaching its peak; a young aspiring Padawan Sariah Gallego was selected to battle Darth Vader on the stage in front of everyone. She walked straight up to the intimidating Dark Lord and as they stood face to face, the faithful Padawan dropped to one knee and pledged her allegiance to the Dark Lord. (There is also a video of this exchange available, click here.)

According to the news blurb the young and now former Padawan was then promptly escorted off stage. I can only hope she kept yelling, “Die you rebel scum!” as she was pulled off stage. Ah, there is nothing like placing an unscripted child into a controlled Disney environment to give you a nice refreshing splash of reality. Personally, I think the force is really rather strong with that one.

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: Jedi Training Academy, kneeling before Darth Vader, and Fairy Vader.

© Richard Timothy 2011

Remembering Al

Remembering Al

With today being the 56th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s passing I thought it might be nice to dedicate today’s Smirk to the man with the crazy hair.

I get that Al was one of the most, if not the most, brilliant mind in the 20th century, but for some reason whenever I think of him, the first place I go is the image of him sticking out his tongue at the camera.

I mean sure eventually I get to the E=MC2 persona, but it always takes a little time. I’ve even watched a documentary about the man and was surprised at how obsessed he became with his work. So much so that his health started to suffer as a result, which, in my opinion, lead to this little know mathematical gem of his:

W/E = (S) : ( + CH
Work over everything equals sickness, times a sad face, plus crazy hair.

Even though his scientist friends laughed at this new formula, he knew it was true. He had lived it after all. It was during this recovery that Al discovered the importance of balance in one’s life. Work is important, but for longevity and peace of mind you have to make sure to take time for yourself and take time to laugh with life. This new philosophy resulted in the invention of an entirely new system of math for the purpose of creating the following formula:

[~~OK~~] ([~~/\~~]) = xK\~~~~ + 1 : ) [~~/\~~]*
A man in water, times a shark in water equals a dead man under water, plus one happy face shark in water.
*A special thank you to my Facebook friend Paula Caddick for educating me on the basics behind this formula.

And even though those last two equations are not to be taken a factual statements, it does not change the importance on their message or the sure brilliance of the made up math involved. Still, apart from being a genius Al is still a source of many truly grand and Smirk inspiring quotes. Here are ten of my favorites:

  • “There are two ways to live your life – one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”
  • “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”
  • “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.”
  • “If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.”
  • “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
  • “The life of the individual has meaning only insofar as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful. Life is sacred, that is to say, it is the supreme value, to which all other values are subordinate.”
  • “People do not grow old no matter how long we live. We never cease to stand like curious children before the great Mystery into which we were born.”
  • “I am content in my later years. I have kept my good humor and take neither myself nor the next person seriously.”
  • “Time is what prevents everything from happening at once.”

There are a number of Einstein photos available on the net, so to finish off this ode to Al I thought I’d give my own personal interpretation for some of my favorite Einstein photos:

Little know fact, this photo of Einstein riding a bike was the inspiration for Queen’s hit single “Bicycle Race.”

This photo of Einstein pointing at what I assume is a reporter who has a question for him seems to perfectly capture the following made up quote, “One more intentionally misleading statement out of you Mr. Rupert Murdoch and someone is gonna get the hurt real bad.”

(I was going to go with a “full my finger quote”, but that’s just too easy.)

In this photo of Al giggling profusely, what the photographer failed to miss was the puppy licking Al’s bare toes.

So on this day of remembrance, let me just say thanks Al, not just for all that science stuff, but for keeping us laughing for the 56 years since you experienced life’s greatest mystery. Here’s to you, cheers!

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: Albert Einstein and puppy licking toes.

© Richard Timothy 2011

Iceland’s Volcano of Sin Awareness… Who Knew?

Iceland’s Volcano of Sin Awareness… Who Knew?

I recently had one of my new Australian friends (thanks Heather) send me a link to a news article from the World News Australia. It was the headline that got me smiling right from the beginning. Headlines are tricky in that regard. Some headlines cause you to pause and reflect, and go into the piece with a certain reverence or concern for the people affect in the story. Other headlines make you turn the page to look for something else that is a touch more interesting to read. Some headlines make you smile because of the comical or feel good story you are about to read through. And then there are some that make you smile, because they are so ludicrous that you can’t help but smile and think to yourself, “Here we go again!” The heading “Ash cloud ‘sign that Britons must repent’ says candidate” is definitely one of those last types of headlines.

Ah yes the age old self proclaimed prophetic mandate of calling others to repentance. If I had to wrap this whole topic up in my own headline I think it would read something like this:

Blogger proclaims ‘candidate who said an ash cloud is a sign that Britons must repent is a sign that the candidate must repent!’

Apparently, an ash cloud billowed out of Iceland’s Mount Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which closed British air space for almost a week. So clearly the first thing I want to know is… how the hell do you say Eyjafjallajokull? And second, where can I get a tee shirt that has the name Mount Eyjafjallajokull printed on it, because that is by far the most impressive, fascinating, entertaining, and fabulous name for a volcano… EVER!

The problem I have with this whole thing is it’s a personal interpretation that has been around just as long as the idea of gods has been around. Plus, as far as signs from a god go, it’s so ambiguous. It’s a perfectly natural aspect of Earthly functionality. I usually call this type of nature activity an Earth fart. Plus, in this case, this event has been happening repeatedly for a very long time. Documented cases of this volcano erupting have occurred in 920, 1612, 1821, 1823, and twice in 2010. I wonder if Britons have had to repent every time it’s happens. So maybe John, our friendly neighborhood Christian People Alliance candidate, is only following tradition by telling anyone who will listen to repent. I mean, scientifically it seems like a rather common action for a volcano, especially that one. Still it would appear that there are some that think it’s the result of some obscure smoke signal from their god informing the world that every Briton needs to repent.

I’m not trying to be rude, but I would like to point out to the Christian People Alliance candidates and like minded folk everywhere, Mount Eyjafjallajokull is not now, nor has it ever been a “volcano of sin awareness.” It’s just an old volcano that ate some bad magma and has had a case of the windy puffs the past few months. By pointing this out to everyone and making such a big deal about it you are only embarrassing the volcano, and yourselves. Please leave Mount Eyjafjallajokull alone. It needs some to rest so it can get feeling better. Thank you.

This whole concept is like watching a video of a baby sneezing and then having the audacity to publically proclaim that the sneeze is a message from god informing the world that the all of the head statues on Easter Island need to repent for making those faces at the ocean for all these years. There is no relation between the two, and it really just doesn’t make any sense. Now, if the parents of the baby had named the baby Squiggy, then I can see calling the parents to repentance, but that’s about it.

Nature is not a warning sign from any religious icon, even if you chose nature as your god. If you live in a place on this planet that has a tornado 5 out of 7 days a week, every week of the year, and your house gets destroyed by a tornado, the nature god is not telling you to repent and plant more rhubarb in her honor. I would dare venture that to me, from a common sense approach, it only means that you live in a place where there are tornados 5 out of 7 days a week, every week of the year.

Here’s my thought about people telling other people they need to repent… they, meaning the tellers are probably the ones that need to do a little repenting. The thing is, if you are not a supporter of a repentance culture and someone belonging to that culture tries having a “repent sinner” conversation with you, it’s a lot like asking a bear if they would like bless the food before they eat you. It’s an incredibly irrelevant conversation.

If you think you should be the one to tell others to repent, can I recommend you take some time off, start looking at your own life and make a few changes to yourself? Leave everyone else alone until you are ready to have a respectful conversation with other people. When people try to inflict repentance on others, it has a tendency to come across as a rather judgmental thing to do, and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard people say that there is a story somewhere about someone saying something about how people should not be judgmental. Then again that might just be me making a judgment call.

What are your thoughts?

Source Images:
World News Australia and Google Images, key words: Eyjafjallajökull, repent sign, and do not judge.