Seasonal goodies

by Eszter Hargittai on March 31, 2004

Since we’re on the topic of peeps, bunnies and bilbies, let’s not forget the seasonal reason for oranges. Is that confusing? Then you should take a look at a humanist feminist modern-version Haggadah for Passover. My referral logs from last year tell me that there are definitely others out there who seek such a text so I was happy to make one available. To elaborate, humanist means that there is no mention of a higher power and feminist refers to the inclusion of the orange on the Seder plate. It’s a modern version Haggadah because it does not only refer to events from thousands of years ago but also makes reference to the Holocaust and hardships of today. The plagues are not frogs and wild beasts but hunger and war. In general, it’s a more inclusive text. To spice things up a bit, you can also plan to have a chocolate seder plate for dessert. The first night of Passover this year falls on Monday, April 5th.

Michael Bérubé asks the important questions about the eschatological, best-selling Left Behind series.

First of all, what does the Book of Revelations say about fundamentalist-Christian pulp-fiction writers who are trying to complete their Revelations-based book series before they’re raptured into heaven? Does Scripture itself predict whether novels about the Final Days will be published during the Final Days? Do they arrive in bookstores just after the seven-eyed, seven-horned Lamb opens the first of the seven seals (6:1), or do we have to wait until the appearance of the seven-headed, ten-horned dragon (12:3)? Second, when Christ returns, will He hang out for a while– maybe even serving as an editorial consultant on the remaining “Left Behind” books– before initiating the series of events leading to the Apocalypse, or will He just be all about the Apocalypse?

I must admit that there is a certain prima facie plausibility to the idea that the popularity of these books is a sign of the end times, in some sense. (We’re in the Kali yuga, you know, where the bull of Truth is standing on only one leg.) This reminds me of a good friend whose mother, a devout Catholic, wrote a Christian thriller of this sort. In it, people on a plane about to crash confront their mortality and faith. My friend’s mom modelled the doomed atheist figure on him.

Bunnies vs bilbies

by John Q on March 31, 2004

Following up Belle’s post, In Australia, as Easter approaches, the big question is: Bunny or Bilby? To give as fair and balanced a presentation as possible of the main issues, the rabbit is a voracious alien pest[1] marketed in chocolate form by greedy multinationals, while the bilby is an appealing, and endangered, native marsupial made available for Easter celebration by public spirited Australians, helping to raise both awareness and much-needed funds. We report, you decide.

fn1. Matched only by the fox


by Belle Waring on March 31, 2004

Now that Easter is coming, it’s time to focus on what matters: Marshmallow Peeps. This special, nauseating American food product may be a more worthless candy than the apparently styrofoam-based Circus Peanuts. Nah, Peeps are #2; the Circus Peanuts are the worst. But did you know you can pay top dollar for gourmet passion-fruit flavored Peeps in NYC? Or that with a little Martha-like craftiness you can decorate an entire office with Peeps? Here’s my special fun-filled Peeps trick: put a marshmallow Peep in the microwave (on a plate) and set for one minute. It’s a flaming orgy of sadistic Peeps-destruction! Mel Gibson’s got nothing on me (though I doubt the edifying spectacle will cause anyone to confess to murder.)

Psephological Concussion

by Henry Farrell on March 31, 2004

One of the better indicators of statistical significance is the so-called “interocular trauma test.” It’s only satisfied when you have results that are so glaringly obvious that they hit you between the eyes. “Nasi Lemak,” a barely anonymous political scientist, uses data on Bush’s approval ratings to come up with “two graphs”: that pass this test with flying colours. Of course, trends can change over time, but there sure looks to be something important happening here …