Blawg Review #271

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Since July 5 is X-Day, this Blawg Review will reflect upon the Church of the SubGenius.TM

If you are already celebrating X-Day, congratulations. If you were unaware that today is X-Day, most likely this information was once in your possession but has been suppressed or erased from your mind because THEY don't want you to know it. If you did not know this information, you should assume that is the reason why. In fact, it more or less proves it.

X-Day is the main holiday of the Church of the SubGenius. What the F is that, you may be shouting at your computer screen, attracting looks of puzzlement? It is difficult to explain.

I.  The Church of the SubGenius

ObeyWikipedia describes the Church of the SubGenius as a group "often seen as a parody religion that satirizes [fundamentalist] religion, conspiracy theories, UFOs, and popular culture." Anyone can become an ordained minister of the church for $30, in exchange for which one is promised "Eternal Salvation or TRIPLE Your Money Back." The church is said (by church members, or "SubGenii") to have been founded by Dr. J.R. "Bob" Dobbs (pictured above) in the 1950s. "Bob" (the name always appears in quotes, as a "symbolic halo") is variously said to exist, or not exist, or something in-between. Those who speak for "Bob" described the church thusly in the Book of the SubGenius:

The Church Of The SubGenius is an order of Scoffers and Blasphemers, dedicated to Total Slack, delving into Mockery Science, Sadofuturistics, Megaphysics, Scatalography, Schizophreniatrics, Morealism, Sarcastrophy, Cynisacreligion, Apocolyptionomy, ESPectorationalism, Hypno-Pediatrics, Subliminalism, Satyriology, Disto-Utopianity, Sardonicology, Fascetiouism, Ridiculophagy, and Miscellatheistic Theology.

ObeyIn other words, it's sort of like Scientology but with more humor, less fraud, and an almost total lack of belief in itself. On the other hand, that may just be what they want you to think. The basic tenets of the Church were first set forth in what is now called "SubGenius Pamphlet #1" – it and Pamphlet #2 being sort of the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Book of the SubGenius. Pamphlet #1 revealed that "[t]he Church of the SubGenius is the ultimate secret order, the superior brain cult for those who 'know better' but who demand in the LUST for GRINS a spectacular, special-effects-laden belief system."

The Church tells one to seek out Slack, which is something like a cross between Nirvana (the place, not the band) and "mojo." It is sort of what it sounds like, but also not: Slack "isn't exactly laziness, but a kind of active sloth." All were born with Original Slack, but the Conspiracy has siphoned off most of it now, although They don't know what it is. The possession of Slack brings happiness, luck at the races, or just instant money, and will help you to lose weight and become more attractive overnight.

Madman or Jackass??  

The Conspiracy is even harder to define, probably because THEY are so busy covering THEIR tracks.  It is the sham U.S. government, the New World Order, maybe an Illuminatus or two, and also probably Alan Greenspan. "COMMUNISM SUCKS," says Pamphlet #2, "and Conspiracy-style 'Monopoly Capitalism' is a RUSE."

All will be revealed – probably a bit late – when the End Times are upon us:

REPENT!! The End Times are drawing near, the X-ists are about to land, the False Prophets will kiss their dinosaurian asses and this planet will be sold down the river as sure as Lee Harvey Oswald's clone cashed the Conspiracy's checks.

(1) Who are the X-ists and (2) when are the End Times? They are (1) aliens and (2) today.  Again with the Wikipedia:

An important SubGenius event occurred on July 5, 1998: X-Day. The Church had been predicting that on this day the world would be destroyed by invading alien armies known as the X-ists (which is short for "Men from Planet X"). Only the members of the Church of the SubGenius were expected to be saved from this SubGenius version of the apocalypse, by being carried away in the spaceships of the Sex-Goddesses. . . . [A]lthough that day and each subsequent July 5 has passed without evidence of an alien invasion, the faithful membership still gather for the "Rupture" at a campground in New York.

Indeed they do. If you are reading this after 7 AM Eastern time, then we can assume that the X-ists did not show up this time around, either, although they may have been delayed by traffic.

II.  Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Slack

Some have theorized that lawyers of the younger generation retain significantly more of their Original Slack than their harder-working, deluded predecessors, a debate that Idealawg weighed in on by citing to a Wisconsin Lawyer article on Generational Conflict in the Legal Profession. (Hint: the conflict is that THEY want YOU to work more.) Who will speak up for the budding young SubGenii?  Well, the eilers law group will, though the Conspiracy has tried to handicap it by stealing the capital letters in its name.  In the post "In Defense of the Slackoisie," eiler asks you to cut the Slackers a break. "Let's be clear," he writes, "many, dare I say most, of these so-called [S]lackers are doing their best trying to eke out a living the best that they can, using the resources that they have available . . . . [A]re these people lazy? Sure, a very small handful are, but most are working hard to get what they can out of their degree, their dreams, and their situations." The underlying fallacy there, however, is the assumption that Slack is necessarily a bad thing. There is a time for work, and a time for Slack, and the problem with modern life is not by any means an overabundance of Slack.

Indeed, Slack is necessary to sustain life. Fool in the Forest recently reflected on seven years of blogging and called it a "fool's errand," apparently because millions have not (yet) visited. And yet, the Slack abides: "Though the pace has slackened, I am still having just enough fun at this to carry on into the foreseeable." Assuming there is any "foreseeable" after X-Day, this is an important lesson: we carry on with blogging (and otherwise) because of Fun, not statistics; and Fun requires at least some Slack. (Another post there discusses the Fool's ancestor, Col. James Wallace, who 147 years ago this week was minding his own business at Gettysburg when some guys rudely tried to kill him.)

It's the Conspiracy that measures you by numbers, and if you optimize for numbers rather than maximizing Slack you are falling into its trap. Contemplate this at Real Lawyers Have Blogs, which quoted Seth Godin and Scott Greenfield (at Simple Justice) on why worrying too much about "optimizing" a blog for search engine results is misguided: "At some point," said Godin, "you realize you're spending your best energy on optimization, not on creation." Greenfield agreed: "Creating something worth reading . . . requires thought. This makes people's head hurt.  Nobody likes a hurting head." And yet it is worth doing. Remember the words of Pamphlet #2: "Sometimes communication must be made more difficult and irritating than necessary, in order to convey certain dangerous complexities."  It is to be expected that some number of Normals will avoid this.

Rap GeniusThe recent economic troubles have actually increased Slack to some degree, as some associates have managed to turn "deferral" into something positive. Above the Law reports that one has created a website called Rap Genius, which translates rap lyrics for the slang-challenged. ("Bob" would approve, although He instantly comprehends slang of any kind.) ATL also posted this picture of the Rap Genius himself, which clearly shows coded SubGenius messages: the carrot represents the Pipe of "Bob," as does the position of his right hand. The left hand forms a "zero," which is the number of hours Rap Genius will have to bill this year.)

III.  The Conspiracy 

Evidence of the Conspiracy is everywhere, for those who choose to see. Indeed, the writers of Popehat admitted that they are part of a socialist conspiracy to drive traffic to their site. But Socialism and Palinism alike are masks for the true Conspiracy, which has persecuted SubGenii for possibly thousands of years. Ann Althouse recently harkened back to those early days:

I was riffing on the idea . . . that primitive man perceived the entire environment as imbued with spirit and . . . there had to have been individuals in early human times who saw how to amass power by making it seem as though they could influence or appease whatever spirit or spirits made things — such as weather — happen in the world. This led — can you see how? — to a discussion of Al Gore.

Certainly the Founding Fathers, many of whom were Freemasons and/or members of the Illuminati, and at least one of whom easily could have dunked a basketball, were part of the Conspiracy. It was widely reported last week that Thomas Jefferson originally wrote "subjects" when he was drafting the Declaration of Independence, but then smudged it out with his hand and wrote "citizens" instead. "A Freudian slip," some called this, and although that's not what "Freudian slip" means I still accept it as proof of Jefferson's secret membership in a tyrannical cabal. (The same draft shows hand-written corrections by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, proving that everybody's work can use some editing.) Also looking back to that time was Eric Turkewitz, who celebrated July 2 as "Jury Celebration Day," picking that day because it is the one on which the "Continental Congress voted to liberate the Colonies from the Crown." Or at least that's what They told the rest of us.

In fact, all three branches of the U.S. "Government" have long been up to secret Conspiracy business. Balkinization recently pointed out that, according to the rationale in McDonald v. Chicago, Congress incorporated the entire Bill of Rights through the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1870 without telling anybody. Either that, or the Supreme Court just reached out unnecessarily to decide a constitutional question, and that can't be right. Speaking of right, Tom Goldstein at SCOTUSBlog says that "everything you read about the Supreme Court is wrong" because the Supreme Court is not as far right as people say. But if everything you read about the Supreme Court is wrong, does that include the thing about everything you read about the Supreme Court being wrong? And if it does, does that mean everything you read about the Supreme Court is right, or only that at least one thing you read about the Supreme Court is not wrong? And what does it mean that somebody at the Volokh CONSPIRACY thinks he is right about that?

At least some of the members of the Supreme Court are big on original intent, and Mark Graber, at Quoth the Raven, considered this week whether that doctrine means that it must be constitutional to punish witches. For even more original original intent, READ "The Early Popular Culture of Amazement" at the Law and Magic Blog. In 1584, Reginald Scot argued that witchcraft trials were bogus; yea, even did he mock those who BELIEVED THE LIES:

For they are abused, as are manie beholders of jugglers, which suppose they doo miraculouslie, that which is doone by slight and subtiltie. But in this matter of witchcrafts and conjurations, if men would rather trust their owne eies, than old wives tales and lies, I dare undertake this matter would soone be at a perfect point; as being easier to be perceived than juggling.

How many jugglers and other Purveyors of Slack were burned at the stake because of a misbegotten belief that Daemons and Familiars carried Ye Balls from hand to hand, the world may never know.

Jugglers of Osiris
And what of the New World Order? Is it really "new," or just wearing a different mask? And is that mask a good one or one of those crappy plastic Halloween masks with the messed-up eyeholes and the elastic that goes around the back but always breaks? Experts disagree, but at least different people put on the mask from time to time. IntLawGrrls note that the G-20 ruling cabal currently includes four women (they're the ones in the group picture not wearing black). Amongst those of the Old Guard who (allegedly) moved on: Robert Byrd, America's longest-serving and most Shakespeare-quoting Senator. Instapundit linked to a post on "Robert Byrd and the Privileges of Aristocracy," which remarked upon the NAACP's description of Byrd's life as reflecting "the transformative power of this nation"; specifically, its ability to transform him from an Exalted Cyclops of the Klan (and filibusterer of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) into a Senator to whom the NAACP was willing to wave farewell. Well, everybody makes mistakes, and at least if you are a Democrat, said Instapundit, you may actually be forgiven for whoppers like those. Exeunt Byrd, enter Byrd's clone, soon to be decanted appointed to serve out the remainder of his term.

As in all things, meet the new Boss, same as the old Boss. Hey! Here's a fun topic to spring on your inlaws at dinner: "How many Americans are currently targeted for assassination?"

Oswald Was a Clone
They'll think it's a trick question and answer "none," but the joke's on them: could be "dozens," says Gregg Greenwald. Greenwald, who is always conveniently pointing out Uncomfortable Truths for the rest of us to turn away from, this time notes that at least three U.S. citizens are on an assassination list and maybe lots more. He quoted Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan as saying this:

If a person is a U.S. citizen, and he is on the battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq trying to attack our troops, he will face the full brunt of the U.S. military response . . . . If an American person or citizen is in a Yemen or in a Pakistan or in Somalia or another place, and they are trying to carry out attacks against U.S. interests, they also will face the full brunt of a U.S. response. And it can take many forms.

Like capture and trial? Yes, could be . . . . Or bombs. As Greenwald points out, nobody "disputes the right to kill someone on an actual battlefield during war without due process," but if the President can designate the entire world as an actual battlefield, like "in a Yemen . . . or another place," and kill you there without any due process at all, then might we perhaps be so bold as to lodge a formal objection? Don't bother to write Barack Obama, or whatever Entity has replaced the man who once said he rejected "the Bush Administration's claim that the President has plenary authority under the Constitution to detain U.S. citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants." Well, to be fair: he did say "detain," not "blow up."

And while we're being picky about terms, "assassination" sounds so . . . assassiny.  How about "justifiable targeted killing"? "Whether one begins with a law enforcement model or a war model in mind," say the authors of a book reviewed at the Legal Theory Blog, "the ultimate contours of justifiable targeted killings are very similar under either paradigm." More generally, we have "preventive coercive measures," said to be "an increasingly common feature of the legal landscape," though they present the risk of "false positives," which is when you find out you preventively coerced the wrong guy.

Such was life on July 4, 2010, as the True SubGenii awaited the coming End Times and the ships that would carry them away to a Dimension of INFINITE SLACK. As long as they had paid their thirty bucks in advance.

IV.  Signs of the End Times

THE END OF THE WORLD will happen sooner or laterTrue, the End Times have been predicted before, but this year may be the real deal.

Also at the Volokh CONSPIRACY, the head conspirator notes that a federal court has struck down Pennsylvania's ban on corporate names that contain "Blasphemy, Profane Cursing or Swearing or [Words] That Profane the Lord's Name." This affirmed the plaintiff's right to name his company "I Choose Hell Productions LLC." The Church of the SubGenius would almost certainly APPLAUD this decision, because Scoffery and Blasphemery are almost as important to it as Overcapitalization. And yet, does it not signal that the End Times are NEAR?

For those who are not convinced, an even clearer sign of the Apocalypse was revealed to Ken at Popehat, who one day found across his path a gigantic Bra, placed there by a Power or Powers unknown for Its or Their own inscrutable reasons. Verily, his Mind was BLOWN by the otherworldly lingerie. "It looked not real at all," he wrote, "an image of a bra blown up and carelessly pasted upon our reality." The titanic, Cyclopean nature of the Bra conjured up visions of Lovecraftian horrors. "If there be giants," quoth he, "what thing is great or terrible enough to make a giant doff its bra in the bushes along the courthouse in a dusty town?" What indeed.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world . . .

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely a film version of "Atlas Shrugged" is at hand.

Atlas Shrugged! Hardly are those words out when I see at Legal Blog Watch that the cameras have started rolling on a movie version of that hilarious farce about the collapse of society after its leaders and only productive citizens form their own secret community, in which, like the children of Lake Wobegon, everyone can be above average. This is reportedly the first of a trilogy, although for now it is a unalogy for which no big stars have signed up. (Who is John Galt? Some guy who was on "One Tree Hill," it turns out.) "Everybody is saying," said the producer, who is also the CEO of an exercise-equipment company, "'how can you shoot this movie without a star? We're shooting it because it's a good movie with great characters." Also, he would have lost the film rights if he didn't get started. Sadly, we will probably have to keep waiting to learn the answer to the question: When the elite form their own secret community, who will clean the toilets? (Don't call any of the people who worked on the Exxon Valdez cleanup; most of them are now dead, having enjoyed an average life expectancy of 51 years.  And don't set up your community on the Gulf Coast, elites.)

In Conclusion

By the time you read this, you will probably know, one way or the other, if the X-ists have come. If not, it is not too late to look to the High Unpredictables of the Church of the SubGenius for pancultural deprogramming and resynchronization, and not just so you can put down your iPhone for five minutes. Avoid False Prophets, cultivate appropriate Slack, and, in the meantime, maintain connections with those few who may save your sanity!

Learn, perhaps, from Cicero, ancient lawyer and orator who taught long ago that real connections between people are among the most valuable things that lawyers can possess.  (The most valuable thing: a head, which Cicero lost after pissing off Marc Antony.  Well, technically, he didn't lose it, somebody took it and put it up in the Forum.) No less an authority than John Adams said that "[a]ll the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher united than Cicero," which shows both the influence of Cicero on the Founders and the importance of keeping all your parts united.  And yet Cicero, notwithstanding all the time he spent lawyering, maintained sufficient Slack to go around engaging in Dialogues on the importance of the Rule of Law:

Marcus:   If a state wants something for the want of which it is reckoned no state at all, must not that something be something good?

Quintus:  A very great good.

Marcus:  And if a state has no law, is it not for that reason to be reckoned no state at all?

Quintus:  We must needs say so.

Marcus:  We must therefore reckon law among the very best things.

Quintus:  I entirely agree with you.

Granted, Quintus was a huge suck-up, but he happened to be right on that one.


Blawg Review has information about next week's post, and instructions on how to get your posts reviewed in upcoming issues. (Note: most of the pictures and many of the concepts above are, somewhat ironically, the INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY of the SubGenius Foundation, Inc.)