Conceived above a saloon, delivered into this world by a masked man identified by his heavily sedated mother as Captain Video, raised by a kindly West Virginian woman, a mild-mannered former reporter with modest delusions of grandeur and no tolerance of idiots and the intellectually dishonest.

network solutions made me a child pornographer!
The sordid details...


Requiem for a fictional Scotsman

Oh my God! They killed Library!! Those bastards!!!

Elegy to a Mostly Maine Coon

It's a Hap-Hap-Happy Day

A Pittsburgher in the Really Big City

Da Burg Annat

I Have Issues

Yeah, yeah, I'm inspired

At least the rivers freeze in Pittsburgh

He knows if yinz is a jagoff

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KGB, CIA linked

The Carbolic Smoke Ball
Superb satire, and based in Pittsburgh!

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

"No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
Article VI, U.S. Constitution

Geek of the Week, 7/16/2000

Geek of the Week

Cruel Site of the Day, 7/15/2000

Cruel Site of the Day (7/15/2000)


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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Jesus was a Virgo, and you're all observing Pagan rituals.
(Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

No one knows on what day Jesus Christ was born. From the biblical description, most historians believe that his birth probably occurred in September, approximately six months after Passover. One thing they agree on is that it is very unlikely that Jesus was born in December, since the bible records shepherds tending their sheep in the fields on that night. This is quite unlikely to have happened during a cold Judean winter. So why do we celebrate Christ's birthday as Christmas, on December the 25th?

The answer lies in the pagan origins of Christmas. In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast.

In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated many years before the birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture. In January, they observed the Kalends of January, which represented the triumph of life over death. This whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The festival season was marked by much merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors. From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born.

In northern Europe, many other traditions that we now consider part of Christian worship were begun long before the participants had ever heard of Christ. The pagans of northern Europe celebrated the their own winter solstice, known as Yule. Yule was symbolic of the birth of the pagan Sun God, Mithras, and was observed on the shortest day of the year. As the Sun God grew and matured, the days became longer and warmer. It was customary to light a candle to encourage Mithras, and the sun, to reappear next year.

Huge Yule logs were burned in honor of the sun. The word Yule itself means "wheel," the wheel being a pagan symbol for the sun. Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant, and the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began as a fertility ritual. Hollyberries were thought to be a food of the gods.

The tree is the one symbol that unites almost all the northern European winter solstices. Live evergreen trees were often brought into homes during the harsh winters as a reminder to inhabitants that soon their crops would grow again. Evergreen boughs were sometimes carried as totems of good luck and were often present at weddings, representing fertility. The Druids used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshipping huge trees.

In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ's birth would be celebrated on December 25. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion went down a bit easier, with the people knowing that their feasts would not be taken away from them.

Christmas (Christ-Mass) as we know it today, most historians agree, began in Germany, though Catholics and Lutherans still disagree about which church celebrated it first. The earliest record of an evergreen being decorated in a Christian celebration was in 1521 in the Alsace region of Germany. A prominent Lutheran minister of the day cried blasphemy: "Better that they should look to the true tree of life, Christ."

The controversy continues even today in some fundamentalist sects.

(From here, via Grace McGarvey on alt.quotations.)

(Incidentally, acccording to this site and several others, Jesus and I share the same birthday. That somehow makes that date -September 11- a bit less onerous.)

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Critical assessment of the day

My prim and proper retired schoolteacher mother's succint, insightful observation re: Oprah Winfrey's appearance on The Late Show last night:

"Letterman sucked her ass."

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Conversation of the day.

From Overheard in Pittsburgh:

Co-Worker 1: I'm on new anti-depressants so I can't drink.
Co-Worker 2: Oh, that sucks.
Co-Worker 1: Well, I guess I can drink, but I'll just get drunk faster.
Co-Worker 2: Oh, that's cool.
Co-Worker 1: Yeah, and it makes me more likely to have seizures, but that's OK because I like the taste of wallet...

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Sending limbo into limbo

An international theological commission will advise Pope Benedict to eliminate the teaching about limbo from the Catholic catechism, Reuters reports.

The Catholic church maintains that babies who die before they can be baptized are condemned to limbo because they deserve neither heaven nor hell.

There is no truth to the rumor the commission will, in exchange for a generous contribution from Warner Bros and DC Comics (whose film Superman Returns debuts next summer), recommend to the Pontiff that unbaptized infants should instead be sent to the Phantom Zone.

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Forget about science, Pat...

(From Brad Templeton)

Washington, DC: The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) issued a stern warning today to Televangelist Pat Robertson. Robertson had recently condemned the citizens of Dover, PA to the wrath of God for not voting in a school board that would teach Intelligent Design in classes.

"We'd like to say to the good Reverend Robertson: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to Science, you just rejected it from your life," AAAS said on its daily television show broadcast from Washington, the 3.14159 Club.

"And don't wonder why it hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. We're not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just pushed science out of your life. And if that's the case, don't ask for its help because it might not be there," they said. "In particular, you won't have a phone to call the ambulance, and it won't exist even if you could call it. And even if the doctor lived next door and you could call her, she would only bleed you and put smelly poultices on your forehead to balance your humours. And she would be a guy."

"Actually, we're just kidding," the AAAS later corrected. "Science works whether you believe in it or not. That's what's really cool about it," they said.

"What they said," indicated Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in an independent statement.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's all in the context...


Not Funny:

Bush's closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush's first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President's religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that "God put me here" to deal with the war on terror. The President's belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that "he's the man," the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reelection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.
Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker


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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thought of the day

The federal government has difficulty managing the nation's oil supply because petroleum deposits are scattered throughout the world, but all the dipsticks are in Washington.

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The 52nd City*

Differences you notice between Chicago and Pittsburgh:

The Chicago Sun-Times revealed the second city's Hired Truck program annually funnels $40 million of no-bid business to political cronies and organized crime figures.

KDKA-TV's intrepid investigative reporter, Marty Griffin, continues his scathing revelations of wrongdoing at the Port Authority, uncovering a dastardly misuse of public funds: a Port Authority tow truck driver using his company vehicle "like a private limo," to take someone to work downtown via the East Busway!

The Port Authority can sue our Marty, but, by God, they can't intimidate him.

Marty nailed PAT earlier this month by wandering around the Harmar garage, unchallenged, in the middle of the night. He was tipped off by an unnamed Port Authority employee who apparently was sufficiently enraged by the security gaffe to call Marty but, curiously, not the management of the transit agency. The fact that the transit union was in contentious contract negotiations with PAT at the time the story aired was mere chance, of course. Marty certainly wouldn't allow himself to be duped into running a story created to embarrass PAT management, conveniently scheduled to coincide both with a looming transit strike and the beginning of the November ratings sweeps.

In his bio on KDKA's website, Marty claims he has no favorite story: "I love them all. I mean that. I have a non-stop hunger for the big story."

And, apparently, a congenital inability to detect one.

Good thing Marty's from the hometown. I suspect Chicago won't be calling anytime soon.

(*Pittsburgh's current approximate population ranking among U.S. cities.)

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Get Your Fresh Despair®!

This just in... new stuff (and a few classics) from the cynic's friend and savior, Despair, Inc.:

When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteorite hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death by meteor.
When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteorite hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death by meteor.

A company that will go to the ends of the Earth for its people will find it can hire them for about 10% of the cost of Americans.

Because you've given so much of yourself to the Company that you don't have anything left we can use.

Leaders are like eagles. We don't have either of them here.

Sometimes the best solution to morale problems is just to fire all of the unhappy people.

It's over, man. Let her go.

If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.

I used to post these all over my cube at the office in Chicago. Which is probably one of the reasons I'm now working in my basement in Pittsburgh.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Verizon suckage: The Recursive Plunge

So I call Verizon to complain about my horrific experience with their web site, and after bouncing through lots of voice mail menus, I get a busy signal and a recording that tells me they're too preoccupied helping others to answer my call, and suggest I go to their web site for help. The web site that says 412 is not a Pennsylvania area code, and, therefore, won't let me access their online help information, which is why I'm calling their customer support telephone line, which is busy, and which suggests I look at the help information on their web site...

There needs to be another ring in Hell for the inventor of automated telephone call queueing systems.

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Quote of the Day

Whoever said "grandmas are moms with lots of frosting" obviously never licked one.
-The Covert Comic

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Can you tell?

It's Monday.
(photo by "True Bavarian")

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Copyright © 1987-2024 by Kevin G. Barkes
All rights reserved.
Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The e-mail address is now something other than saga. used to be until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up and adopting created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the domain name in 1993, and had since that time used as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that was no longer but rather which is longer than and more letters to type than and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than but actually just as functional as I sent e-mails from the address to just about everybody I knew who had used in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that no longer is the they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...


Crystal Methodist

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

I am a professional. Do not try this at home.

I canna change the laws of physics

As a matter of fact, I *am* the boss of you.
(as a matter of fact, i AM the boss of you.)

Truly great madness cannot be achieved without signficant intelligence

I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Left wing liberal nut job

Flies spread disease. Keep yours zipped.

Eff the ineffable, scrute the inscrutable.

If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.

If evolution is just a theory, why am I surrounded by monkeys?

Nutrition makes me puke

Feral Geek

eat wisely

Dyslexics have more fnu!

It's here!

Eff and Scrute

440 pages, over 11,000 quotations!

Eff the Ineffable, Scrute the Inscrutable

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