Why pagan gods rule

Wole Soyinka on the Nigerian underwear bomber:

"The Muslim Abdulmutallab believed in his own, alien deity, and yet, another deity - Ogun - protected his fellow travelers. In this case, the indigenous deity that Abdulmutallab carried inside him - Ogun, the god of wayfarers - thwarted his plan. The young man's suppressed deity came out."

Here, he chuckled wisely and added: "It's a poetic conceit, but I love it."

For Purim

Not quite Purim Torah, but definitely in that spirit. Which 20th century Orthodox Jewish sect did Moses belong to? The Torah, as this video demonstrates, makes the answer indisputably clear.

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Oh dear

You know you've been cursing the dog a little too freely when you say "idiot of a lummox", and he comes bounding up with his tail wagging hopefully.


Here's a summary of belief in God in the US, produced by the Pew Research Center:

The fact that belief in God in general is a lot higher in the US, I can understand. But that 21% of atheists believe in God? 21 % of atheists???
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To soothe tired eyes...

...a few minutes of beauty

I must say the author's managed to compile an excellent selection, and do a wonderful job of morphing. It's interesting to see how ideas of what features are "beautiful" have changed over the years, and yet how much they've stayed the same. Dare I hope for a brief lecture from Professor Kalogjera...?

A petition

This is an uncharacteristically serious post from me, but the academic in me is rather irritated by all this.

There've been reports in academic newspapers that Her Majesty's Government is planning to cut the British Library's annual budget by 7%. This will be an utter disaster for the Library, who are likely to have to start charging readers for admission, cut their opening hours, and severely curtail or possibly even close the Colindale Newspaper Library.

If you are a resident or citizen of the UK, and would like to register your opposition to these cuts, there is now a petition on the PM's website:

The present Government actually pays attention to popular petitions, so do circulate this as widely as you can.

Those filthy rich Norwegians

From the BBC:

"A Norwegian artwork featuring thousands of pounds worth of banknotes glued to a canvas has been stolen from the Oslo gallery where it was on show. The artwork, entitled Relative Value, was made up of 100,000 notes of 1,000 kroner (£83; 124 euros) each, belonging to the artist, Jan Christensen... He said he found it puzzling that someone might wish to risk jail for relatively small amount of money, and is unsure as to what type of person would have stolen his art."

Right... so 100,000 notes of 1,000 NOK is a total of 100 million NOK. That's £ 8,300,000 or €12,400,000. A "relatively small amount of money."

"Relative Value", indeed!