Ringing in the New Year


This is the whole of the article from NewsCore:

A police officer is facing termination after having noisy sex in a church tower above a packed congregation attending New Year’s Day morning mass.

Father Nikalaus Maier was preaching to early morning churchgoers when noises from the belltower interrupted him.

He telephoned the police when the lovers came down looking sheepish and scurried swiftly out the door, buttoning their clothes as they left.

A church official said: “My wife sat in the back near the vestry and called me to tell me about the grunts and groans that disturbed the sermon. It was scandalous.”

The police officer faces almost certain dismissal.

Write your own punch line.

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Nazi grinches


Oh, those evil Nazis. I mean, to the one, it’s hardly surprising. To the other, The Independent‘s tale of a very Reich Christmas is still fascinating.

Holiday postcard, 1914

The Nazis were not the first Germans to screw with Christmas, as this 1914 holiday postcard shows.

Sixty-five years after Germans celebrated the last Christmas of the Third Reich, a new exhibition at Cologne’s National Socialism Documentation Centre offers, for the first time, an insight into the elaborate propaganda methods devised by the Nazis in their campaign to take the Christ out of Christmas.

The exhibition contains selected items from a vast private collection of Nazi Christmas memorabilia, including swastika and Nazi SS tree decorations, Aryan department store catalogues featuring presents for boys – toy Nazi tanks, fighter planes and machine guns – and music for carols that have been stripped of their Christian content.

“The baby Jesus was Jewish. This was both a problem and a provocation for the Nazis,” explained Judith Breuer, who organised the exhibition using the items she and her mother collected at flea markets over 30 years. “The most popular Christian festival of the year did not fit in with their racist ideology. They had to react and they did so by trying to make it less Christian.”

The regime’s exploitation of Christmas began almost as soon as the Nazis took power in 1933. Party ideologists wrote scores of papers claiming that the festival’s Christian element was a manipulative attempt by the church to capitalise on what were really old Germanic traditions. Christmas Eve, they argued, had nothing to do with Christ but was the date of the winter solstice – the Nordic Yuletide that was “the holy night in which the sun was reborn”.

The swastika, they claimed, was an ancient symbol of the sun that represented the struggle of the Great German Reich. Father Christmas had nothing to do with the bearded figure in a red robe who looked like a bishop: the Nazis reinvented him as the Germanic Norse god Odin, who, according to legend, rode about the earth on a white horse to announce the coming of the winter solstice. Propaganda posters in the exhibition show the “Christmas or Solstice man” as a hippie-like individual on a white charger sporting a thick grey beard, slouch hat and a sack full of gifts.

But the star that traditionally crowns the Christmas tree presented an almost insurmountable problem. “Either it was the six-pointed star of David, which was Jewish, or it was the five-pointed star of the Bolshevik Soviet Union,” said Mrs Breuer. “And both of them were anathema to the regime.” So the Nazis replaced the star with swastikas, Germanic “sun wheels” and the Nordic “sig runes” used by the regime’s fanatical Waffen SS as their insignia.

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Minions of Cthulhu?


Two words suffice: Giant scorpion

Science Daily broke the news:

The discovery of a giant fossilised claw from an ancient sea scorpion indicates that when alive it would have been about two and a half meters long, much taller than the average man ….

…. The claw is from a sea scorpion (eurypterid) Jaekelopterus rhenaniae that lived between 460 and 255 million years ago. It is 46 centimetres long, indicating that the sea scorpion to which it belonged was around 2.5 metres (8 feet) long — almost half a metre longer than previous estimates for these arthropods and the largest one ever to have evolved.

Eurypterids are believed to be the extinct aquatic ancestors of scorpions and possibly all arachnids.

Some geologists believe that giant arthropods evolved due to higher levels of oxygen in the atmosphere in the past. Others, that they evolved in an ‘arms race’ alongside their likely prey, the early armoured fish.

Heh. “Arms race”. Forty-six centimeters. A scorpion with a claw a foot and a half long. The quote of the day actually comes from Dr. Simon Braddy, of the University of Bristol: “We have known for some time that the fossil record yields monster millipedes, super-sized scorpions, colossal cockroaches, and jumbo dragonflies, but we never realised, until now, just how big some of these ancient creepy-crawlies were.”

Oh, gee, you think? You didn’t realize?

Actually, what is even more disturbing is the notion of a scientist using the phrase “super-sized”. If I want super-size, I’ll go up the street and get a crappy slab of dead cow at McDonald’s. (And what the hell are you putting in the burgers these days to make them taste so damnably rancid?)

But what ever happened to perfectly wonderful words like enormous or gargantuan? Oh, you felt like alliterating? Why not scary? You know, like “… monster millipedes, scary freakin’ scorpions, colossal cockroaches …”?

Because what’s really scary about this thing is that the previous estimate for these things was around six feet long. Makes me feel a hell of a lot better. You?

Just remember this thing next time you’re out for lobster.

I wonder what Lovecraft would say? Oh. Right.

Dear Science goes to Germany


Jonathan Golob, over at Dear Science, posted an interesting consideration of his recent trip to Europe. To be honest, almost any excerpt I could possibly give you is insufficient. “Seattle’s Only Scientist” discusses a recent trip abroad, some of the things he saw, and the significance thereof.

The policy reflects underlying conflict in the Germany constitution, between requirements to respect human life and the independence of science. This duality is reflected in North Rhine Westphalia Stem Cell Network’s structure, combining both scientists and ethicists together in a cohesive program. As one of the local scientists delicately put it, “concerns over the lingering consequences of Nationalism-Socialism cause conservatism on the use of human tissues in research.” Slowly, the policy is liberalizing.

Really. It’s that interesting. Even more so, if you think the above is boring, obscure, or unnecessary.