Recent comments

  • Storm   18 years 5 weeks ago

    Heh, hard to imagine... Where I am it's quite clement for the season - as high as -10 today - but this morning it was -18 and frost was forming on the inside of my nostrils...%-)

  • Return of the Kevin   18 years 9 weeks ago

    Ewwwwwwww! My feet are twitching, just looking at that nasty creature. Where are my boots? Hey, I thought I saw a rolled-up newspaper somewhere....

    He looks like a pathogenic bacteria farm on legs. Pfoo.

  • Return of the Kevin   18 years 9 weeks ago
  • Return of the Kevin   18 years 9 weeks ago

    Go, Kevin, go! Go, Kevin! Go...away!

    (I hate those things. You have to stamp on them about 1000 times before they die!)

  • The Yule Cat   18 years 9 weeks ago

    Thanks Kristina and Aloysius.
    I'm glad to hear that there are others who want to preserve Yule traditions that have been squeezed out by the dominant western Christian+consumer culture. Let's fight the Christmas intertia.

    I've taken another Icelandic story this year: The Dance at Hruni:
    (Although it has a distinct lack of cats.)

  • The Yule Cat   18 years 10 weeks ago

    I just discovered the legend of the Yule Cat at, a site dedicated to celebrating the winter solstice. Like you, I found the English translation to be rather clunky. Yours is much better. I am working on my own version now. I don't read Icelandic, but I know folks who do (I'm in Minnesota, USA).

    I have found some citations that say the Yule Cat is used to scare lazy kids. I suppose that's sort of like saying that if you are not good, Santa will not bring you any presents. Though being chewed up by a big white cat certainly is a terrible fate. I prefer the interpretation implied in the poem's original translation, which you affirm--that the responsbility for clothing poor children should like with all of us.

    Merry Solstice!


  • "it corrupts the society that tolerates it"   18 years 10 weeks ago

    After fighting against the anti-torture amendment, Bush has finally been forced to concede.
    And, of course, Bush now touts the decision as a virtue:
    "make it clear to the world that this government does not torture and that we adhere to the international convention of torture, whether it be here at home or abroad."

    I wonder if Duncan Hunter (chairman of the House Armed Services Committee) has any clue how his stance appears to the world. By opposing the accord for lack of clearer protections for interrogators, isn't he making it clear to the world that the US has used torture, or intends to make use of torture? At least Bush had the sense to cave in and then spin the decision as a dollop of cream on the apple pie.

  • "it corrupts the society that tolerates it"   18 years 11 weeks ago

    P.S. The bill passed the Senate 90-9.

  • "it corrupts the society that tolerates it"   18 years 11 weeks ago

    This morning's NPR news: In the US Senate, yesterday, an amendment outlawing all forms of torture under any and all circumstance was attached to a funding bill. The Bush administration had previously declared its intention to veto the bill should the offending clause not be removed. But they will get to the bottom of the torture-in-Iraq issue to find out who's at fault...

  • Almost a month   18 years 11 weeks ago (our domain name registration service) has been having troubles.

    The computer that hosts the OEDILF is still up and running, but the servers that translate our domain name ( into the correct address for our host computer have problems.

    We'll just have to hope that Joker gets things ironed out soon.

  • Almost a month   18 years 11 weeks ago

    I am unable to log in at OEDILF site.
    aol says it possibly moved or is no longer in service?

  • Original Sin?   18 years 11 weeks ago

    This silly shit is so ingrained that every few years you read another calculation of the temperature of hell, figured out from Biblical "clues".

  • The Yule Cat   18 years 12 weeks ago

    Thank you so much for this new translation. Each year about this time I search in vain for new information about the Yule Cat, and each year sadly, an inexplicably, there is little to be found. One would think with all the cat-worshippers on the Internet, there would be more people interested in celebrating the festive feline of the North. Anyway, I was excited to read your poem, particularly since I saw immediately that it can be sung either to the tune of O Little Town of Bethlehem or It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, giving me some new and interesting options for Christmas Caroling. OK, I must go back to my spinning and knitting now. Thanks again, Virge!

  • "it corrupts the society that tolerates it"   18 years 14 weeks ago

    Not bad at all.
    Unfortunately, the issue is disgusting even as limerick.

  • "it corrupts the society that tolerates it"   18 years 14 weeks ago

    The president's thick as a brick
    And the VP's sadistically sick.
    So, if torture's okay
    And there's no other way,
    Let's apply the electrodes to Dick.

  • "it corrupts the society that tolerates it"   18 years 14 weeks ago

    Can you make a Limerick about Dick?

  • It may not be a quiet night   18 years 15 weeks ago

    I don't want a scratchingpost since they are so very ugly. Instead the cat seems to use the same armchair over and over, and I have sacrificed that. Once into the habit and all that...

  • Virge's Guestbook   18 years 17 weeks ago

    Hello, Virge. I wandered over here from OEDILF. Cool site. I'm at work so my time is limited to a short visit, but I'll come back when I can stroll rather than sprint.

  • What trauma?   18 years 18 weeks ago

    Today Carl Zimmer posted an entry on The Loom about neurobiology and the concept of "self." In it he linked to this article
    from last year, which focuses on understanding moral decision-making. It's well worth reading (but bear in mind that Greene's research is really on the leading edge--a lot more hard work and heavy criticism will be required).

  • Feral Fascinations   18 years 18 weeks ago

    outeast: now that you mention it, yes, it does read well with that interpretation too. I guess it reflects an interpersonal pattern that is more common than I realised as I wrote.

  • Feral Fascinations   18 years 18 weeks ago

    Hmm, I read it as a cross-generational thing - the voice of a parent addressing (in his/her imagination) a child just starting to discover the lure and adventure of rebellion...

    Kinda liked that way of reading it, actually.

  • What trauma?   18 years 18 weeks ago

    To chime in, Judah, I personally think that any rigidly defined and reinforced standard of behaviour doesn't exist without external authority (a good example of where one does exist with extrnal authority is in the military services). Morality as you define it would be a subset of that. When morality is seen more as emergent behavour (like I think it is) something that's self policed from within (both within the individual and within a larger community) the standard is more flexible and vague.

    When looking at the world I find that to be the case. What's considered *good* in one part of the world might be considered *evil* in another, although evil is a very strong word and maybe not quite applicable. There are some moral absolutes that are universal pretty much everywhere though. Stuff like, taking anothers life is wrong. Causing excessive misery to others is wrong as well. These can easily be accounted for with Virges existence=good theory. I believe that this very basic sense of good and evil is meaningful even without external authority to validate it.

    Even then the excessive part in law no 2 (Causing excessive misery to others is wrong) is somewhat grey. For example where I was raised, hitting or spanking children is considered very wrong, only bad parents use corporal punishment. This is considered perfectly fine and maybe even desirable elsewhere in the world.

    I don't know if Im maybe talking across pruposes now but this is what I thought of reading through those comments.

  • What trauma?   18 years 18 weeks ago

    It struck me as I read your second-to-last post that I should have asked you what you understand by the term real meaning.
    Is real meaning something that can only come from outside our natural world, or can an intelligent being find or assign real meaning by observation and analysis?

    If you limit real meaning to something that must be externally derived, then you end up heading towards where Spinoza got to--that there is no "real" difference between good and evil. However, if you then argue that morality cannot have any real meaning without external authority, your argument is tautologous.

    Your last post clears up some of the confusion. You're looking for some abstract and binding standard on which one could base a system of ethics. The abstract and binding standard that I suggested as a possibility was "existence=good". If you accept this as a standard, and yet refuse to admit that it imposes any obligation upon you, then how is that different from accepting that there is a god who sets rules that you have no obligation to obey? If accepting an external authority obliges you to follow its moral code, then accepting an internally recognised abstract principle also obliges you to follow its moral code.

    I agree that it's harder to see the chain of logic connecting real-life decisions about behaviour back to such a very abstract principle, but that doesn't make the system devoid of meaning. It's just harder to understand and more likely to be interpreted differently by different people.

  • What trauma?   18 years 18 weeks ago

    Sorry, forgot to respond to the part about evolution:

    I think I can accept evolution, for argument's sake, at least. And I have no trouble seeing how empathy/morality would be a valuable development for the species. But that doesn't seem to address my point that usefulness, etc. does not mean that morality exists as an abstract and binding standard.

    PS-It occurs to me only now that perhaps we are talking at cross-purposes and this is all a matter of semantics. After all, the point I'm making seems to me to be patently obvious, and in your posts you don't seem to directly address it.

    I think that, while I'm talking about the "reality" of morality as an "abstract and binding standard", and saying that without some absolute authority it does not exist, you're talking about the "reality" of morality as something humans experience (as opposed to construct artificially), which is "good" on both an individual level (it makes you feel good) and on a species level (everyone does better if everyone follows the moral rules). You're perfectly fine with saying that on an abstract level it does not exist. Correct me if I'm wrong, please.

    PPS-Looking back at my previous comment, maybe I should clarify what I meant by a contradiction in terms. I just meant that 'from what you know of me' implies a conjecture from knowledge, while 'I prefer to think' implies a preference for one side, where there is a lack of knowledge to show which is correct.

  • What trauma?   18 years 18 weeks ago

    Sure, "because it makes you happy" is a good enough reason to behave morally. (One could argue that, ultimately, that's the only reason for doing anything, whether you're religious or not.) But it's a personal reason--if you want to call that an obligation, it's one you impose on yourself. I would argue that using this line of reasoning, you would not be justified in calling someone evil (implicitly saying that he has obligations that he isn't fulfilling) just because what makes him happy is murder, rape, and pillage.

    Of course, this is only an intellectual argument whether morality can have any real meaning without external authority--practically speaking, I would not expect you to have a less developed moral sense because you don't believe in a God. A conscience is part of us, whether you think it was implanted by God, Evolution, or anything else.

    'From what little you know of me, you prefer to think...' I believe this is a contradiction in terms.

    As for the personal question, forget it. I only asked out of curiosity; I was completely unsure of how you'd take it. There's no need to answer, believe me.