This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Gospel of Judas and Other Funuscripts

The always-linkable Washington Post has this story on the so-called "Gospel of Judas," an ancient manuscript of which was found in Egypt recently. Apparently, this is one of those Gospels that that early Christian church rejected out to halfcourt. Of course, the theological fun we have in 20th-21st century America is doubting the early Christian church and proclaiming things like the Gospel of Judas "coequal" with the real Gospels as we examine it for things that can be used to attack Christianity, no matter how lame. Just look at the Gospel of St. Thomas, which has been trumpeted over and over again despite that presence of a preteen Jesus zapping people with his eyes. But we think we've discovered some "hidden knowledge" that's been surpressed for years, and we go crazy for it. Just ask Dan Brown, who sleeps on a big pile of money.

According to the news article, the Gospel of Judas paints a sympathetic portrait of Judas. Gone is the greed and the betrayal, and in its place is following orders and self-sacrifice. Nevermind the fact that Judas couldn't have written it, and therefore he must have told someone about the time Jesus gave him all these secret orders and knowledge that nobody else knew about (think a Gnostic may have written this? Sheesh), and that makes this at least a secondhand story. This is part of the reason why the early church rejected it. But that won't stop people today from misusing it for their own sociopolitical ends, as this part of the article suggests:

Biblical scholars said the Gospel of Judas differs from the four New Testament Gospels in at least two important ways. First, it portrays Judas not as the betrayer of Jesus but as the most favored of his disciples, the only one who truly understood Jesus.

Some scholars suggested that view -- if it had been accepted -- might have lessened anti-Semitism over the centuries. "The story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas gave a moral and religious rationale to anti-Jewish sentiment, and that's what made it persistent and vicious," said Princeton University professor Elaine Pagels.

Yeah, because the Jews didn't clamor for his crucifixion or anything. So, if there was no betrayal, and the Sanhedrin just had Jesus grabbed of their own accord, anti-Semitism is reduced? The Jewish leaders weren't Jewish? Judas is the only Jew in the story? That doesn't make sense.

And even if Elaine Pagels' insane statement was true, would that be a reason to accept it? Truth is reduced to whatever causes the least amount of intolerance? That's Orwellian to the Nth degree, people. WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE RECOGNIZE THE SLIPPERY SLOPE DOWN WHICH WE ARE TRAVELLING? CAN ANYONE STOP US FROM DESTROYING EVERYTHING WE HOLD DEAR FOR THE SAKE OF POSTMODERN POLITICAL CAUSES?

Sorry about busting out the all-caps again. I really was shouting, in my head.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cavalcade of Blogs I: (Not Dick Cheney)

My blog consulting team, BlogConformists USA, has told me that titles are very important for driving up traffic. They told me that I should use hot-button keywords in my titles. Therefore, Dick Cheney makes an appearance. Look for Paris Hilton and whomever happens to die that day in my titles real soon.

Anyway, today is my first Cavalcade of Blogs, where I jump from blog to blog using Blogger's "next blog" feature. I start, of course, at This is Epth Nation. Where I go after that, only Blogger a subsidiary of Google knows. Ready? Now commences this tour of cyberland...

1) Antes escrever do que sair falando sem pensar...

So right off the bat they take me to a worthless page in a foreign language. Isn't the internet supposed to be like 98% english? Weren't busybodies with no real jobs complaining about that recently?
This blog appears to be written in thick spanglish, and has poorly drawn comics on it. I'm not sure if they're funny, because I can't understand them. There's also a poem (bad sign) and a picture of a cute girl brandishing a Jack Johnson product. I don't know what this means.

Upon further review, it's written in portuglish.

Sample Sentence: (translated from portugese) Cold in the belly to think that [tá] arriving... better not to think very [pra] not to give up...

Grade: F+

2) Ending One Second at a Time

A writer for the online comics outpost Broken Frontier has a blog where he just posts links to his posts on Broken Frontier. It does have a couple of cool pictures of old Marvel comic covers, though. The main thing to remember with this blog is that its nerd factor is about 100 and its boring factor is about 1000. That's out of 10, people. Only visit if you like comic books and discussion of obscure 80's cartoons nobody liked.

Sample Sentence: My latest column for Broken Frontier details how the cancellation of the Blackwulf lead to my own hiatus from comic collecting.

Grade: D

3) Cap de Setmana X

Another Portugese blog (I'm not falling for that Spanish thing again), This blog seems obsessed with boring pictures and the letter "X." I am, for once, not kidding about this. There are pictures of natural X's occuring in tile patterns, for pete's sake. I wonder if the blog author's name is Xavier or something.

This blog is useless, made moreso by its lack of a real language. Ok, X is a cool letter, but come on.

Sample Sentence: Ja hi is penjats to the Rebost els X-Recursos that heu rebut cough els caps of moviment! (translated from Spanish. Looks like it's written in a language that Google doesn't know. Screw this blog.)

Grade: F-

4) Yeshiva World

Now we're talkin'. This blog is all about orthodox Judaism, with a special epmphasis on anti-semitism around the world. It's a Yeshiva World, we just live in it, apparently. The NYPD that we all thought were heros after 9/11 is getting on the Jews' case recently, cracking down on the Jews and their event that that nobody's heard of, called the "Boro Park Riots." Apparently, the NYPD hates Orthodox Jews. Very informative. Also features something called "Torah Yoga."

Sample Sentence: A vitriolic online discussion about building a school at Latteri Park shocked and angered city and Jewish leaders when Board of Education member Norman Tahan added his voice. Tahan, responding to a previous post on the Clifton forum, asked why observant Jewish residents outline a certain territory with a boundary, or eruv. "You mean they mark their territory like dogs?" he asked

Grade: B-

5) Album de Recordacoes (Please no not another one in Spanglish)

This rather pleasant little area of the internet had nothing but pictures of some skank and her life and loves. If you looks close, you might see lapdancing skinny Santa, which is muy desturbingo. There are other things here that might be considered obscene. Stay away, if you can.

Sample Sentence: A farewell of bachelor to fold... (translated from...Portugese this time)

Grade: D

6) -- NY IT Jobs.

While IT people in NYC need a place to help them find jobs (we know Dallas does), we here at Epth Nation hate commercial blogs of all kinds. This blog is affiliated with, and his nothing but postings of obscure NYC IT Jobs. You should see the generic technical BusinessSpeak on some of these. We need more than one sample sentence here.

Sample Sentences: "Specific tasks will include working with end-users to gather business requirements, preparing and presenting specifications, designing, developing, testing, and implementing relational, dimensional, and/or other analytical data structures and ETL processes."
"We integrate customized services, leverage expertise across industries and apply business knowledge to our clients' strategic goals. Aon helps clients anticipate how change intersects with opportunity."
"test analyst will be responsible for the planning, design and execution of test case for a lockbox remittance processing application."
"demonstrate the ability to technically lead complex application and/or database development initiatives, including the analysis and design of solutions with a specific emphasis on decision support systems and the data warehousing functionality used within the financial industry."

I could go on, but you and I both know that wouldn't help.

Grade: C (wish I could find one of these for Dallas...or (gasp) Milwaukee)

7) Online Christmas Lights Blog

Yes, that's right, it's my first spam blog. These are the people who made me require word verification for my comments. They have made the world a worse place. These people, in particular, are not trying at all. The blog appears to be written in a poorly worded way that's designed to hypnotize the reader into buying christmas lights. However, there is no link to purchase anything but ipods, which I feel obligated to point out would make rather expensive and non-functional christmas decorations.

Sample Sentence: Search the whole world for apple ipod nano without leaving one website apple ipod nano. We have shrunken down a world of secret on apple ipod nano for you in one location.COOLEST BLUE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Grade: F-

8) The Concept of Irony

A blog about a concept? How delicious! Or is it? I don't know, it's too ironic even for me. I don't understand it.

This is essentially a humor blog. After clicking on a bunch of the stuff to the left, I can't decide whether it's brilliant or stupid. I guess that's the irony. The author is Justin Kahn, a self-described "Adjunct professor of philosophy, humanities, and religious studies." He's written for McSweeney's, so he must be better than me. He is also in some sort of unspecified legal trouble that hovers over the blog like a cloud of acid.

Sample Sentence: In what will certainly come as a let down to readers of this Blog, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of COI’s right to spell as Justin see fit; to not be consistently funny and make ridiculous and unnecessary references to James Joyce.

Grade: A-

9) One Way Jesus (as opposed to two-way)

The thing about some blogs is that it really does appear as though English is the author's second language even though they are native-born USA americans. Take this blog, for instance. The dude's shift key clearly doesn't work, because you won't fine a capitalized letter in the bunch. And even though it purports to be about Jesus, who is the One Way, there are only references to "Bert the Man" and his love life. This is a personal diary whose author has the morose overdrama of a 14-year-old girl. He seems to attend a military boarding school for pilots. Maybe, just maybe, he's insane. That's the only thing that would redeem this blog for me.

Sample Sentence: i just wanna declare that i will not know the friend of my friend through my friend. and most of the time i do not really wanna know friends that my friends know unless of course they are already my friends.

Grade: D

10) Neels-Club

Speaking of overdrama, we have this outpouring of art and life from a guy named Neels. He's got a crapload of clever little sayings and philosophical snippets that are just slightly less funny than Jeff Foxworthy's "you might be a redneck" joke series. Oh, I just noticed he's British. That would explain it. The less time spent on this blog, the better.

Sample Sentence: If it's true that we are here to help others,
then what exactly are the others here for?

Grade: C-

Thus ends the first Cavalcade of Blogs. The fact that I have the best blog in the world has never been clearer to me than right now. I hope we've all learned something from this.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Happy Incremental Day

It's 04/05/06, which means it's the annual Incremental Day (it goes from 4-5-6, get it?), the made-up holiday where we celebrate all the things in our lives that go in increments. Take some time out today and think about things that are progressing bit-by-bit, for example, the decline of Western Civilization or tonight's Lost episode.

Oh, and remember to wear blue.

Blogging Consultants

I've read a lot of "advice for bloggers" online, and it's all across the board. Most of it depends on what you're trying to accomplish, and who you're trying to reach. But it's always fun to see what advice is out there, at the very least just to mock it.

For example, has a whole army of bloggers, most of whom seem to be sporting bad moustaches. They have a section of blogs dedicated to understanding blogs and blogging. One moustachioed Canadian made observations about the 300 random blogs he visited. Another moustachioed dude of unknown nationality wrote about how advertisers might do better to concentrate on blogs that don't have 150,000 page views a day. This is all terribly boring, and this is just one of the billion sites dedicated to this topic. All these useless words are stored as binary information on a server somewhere. Should we be outraged about this? Where are the techno-environmentalists when you need them? Put down that Linux code and get over here!

So what do I bring to this blogging advice table, you may ask? Here's my advice to beginning bloggers, with a caveat: Only use this advice if you want me personally as an avid reader of your blog. I can't speak for anybody else, because it's against the law.


2) Never, ever, type in all caps. Makes you look like you're shouting.

3) In layout, less is more. Unless you want to attract and hold the attention of ADHD kids (which is a losing proposition, let me tell you), go simple and elegant, clearly labeling everything. I shouldn't have to search around your page, squinting for what I'm looking for. It helps greatly to have nothing blinking. The color of the words should be adequately contrasted to the color of the background, which should be a solid color and not just a grayed-out picture of someone's cat.

4) Only post things you're comfortable with everyone in the world reading, including your mom, boss, rommate, wife, grandpa, the Jews, etc. For example, I post things about Papa John's because I don't care if they fire me. My other job, I respect its privacy even though it sucks. If you want to be free to write anything you want, adopt a fake name -- it's free, and the internet is all about anonymity. Just ask this guy. Ok, don't ask him, but still.

5) Be interesting. Come at things from a fresh angle. Be original.

6) Whatever you do, don't use word you made up (and is actually an inside joke that only one or two other people know the full meaning of) in the title of your blog. That just confuses the reader, and kills traffic. People who do this should be made into scapegoats and paraded before all the good people of the town in chains. Chains.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Jesus Papers

I feel like I have to mention The Jesus Papers, the new book by one of the guys who is suing The Da Vinci Code's Dan Brown for copyright infringment. You're not going to get this kind of news analysis anywhere else: It's a load of crap. Of course, I'm biased because I'm a Christian. But am I really more biased than an author who knows he can make money off the Da Vinci Code craze, and is releasing a book to coincide with his own lawsuit and the release of Da Vinci on paperback?

Memo to those who want to make money right now: Nevermind the scholarship, just put a conspiracy theory about Jesus in a book and sell it.

Memo to those who like truth: Read the epilogue of Anne Rice's Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt as a starting point, and then actually do some intelligent investigation yourself. Don't settle for hard-boiled stories of unfalsifiable conspiracy or bad scholarship that jumps to conclusions based on faulty assumptions.

Jesus is asking: Who do you say that I am? Answer carefully.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Quick Slaps 2 -- Short Delivery Tale

I walked up to the house and heard the unmistakable sound of mariachi music coming from the driveway. It was dark, but I managed to make out several people sitting in lawn chairs and leaning against the garage. The music was coming from the stereo of a large van. None of the people acknowledged me, or even seemed to notice I was there.

Getting no love from the people outside, I walked to the door. As I got there, this approx. 12-year-old fat kid walked past me saying, "23-23?" After a second, I realized this fat kid ws referring to the price of the order, $23.23. I told him yes, and he disappeared around the corner and was swallowed up by the mariachi music.

It was about this time that the Mexican children began walking out of the house. There must have been at least 25 of them, in line, walking through the door and onto the front yard. A couple of them went next door and banged on the door, a couple got into an SUV that drove up, but the vast majority of them were loitering around me like burn-outs at a skate park. Only one of them spoke to me, which was kind of refreshing. He said, "Better ingredients, better pizza," which of course is Papa Johns' unfalsifiable slogan. I guess one smart aleck out of 25 isn't a bad ratio.

The fat kid re-materialized three minutes later with a 100 dollar bill in his hand, which I didn't have change for. He went back into mariachi land. After three more minutes, he came back and told me that's all they had. I told him I was sorry but I just couldn't do anything with that, and I left. We never heard from them again.

The moral of this story? Nobody takes $100 bills*, unless you're buying at least $80 worth of stuff. Nobody even takes fifties -- and 100 is twice that. You might as well just write "100" on a small piece of notebook paper and carry it around, because that would just as useful for you. Also, rejected hot wings are hard to eat in the car, so you should wait until you get back to Papa John's to eat them, or at least make sure you have napkins in the glove compartment.

* Side note: Every once in a while, we'll get a customer who is absolutely pissed that drivers don't carry change for a 100 dollar bill. The manager will have to explain that it's store policy that drivers can only carry 20 bucks with them on the road. What the manager should really say is this: Carrying 100 dollar bills it up there with having white powder on your nose or carrying a crowbar in the "looking suspicious" department, and expecting a total stranger to carry 80 bucks to your house is even more suspicious than that. Just write us a bouncy check like everybody else.

Monday Quick Slaps 1 -- Target Brand 20oz Bottle-compatible Drink Mixes

One of my wife's students was seen pouring a strange substance into a water bottle, and the question was asked of him, "Hey! Boy! What the heck is that strange substance?"
He claimed that it wasn't anabolic steroids or platelet strengthener, but rather Target-brand drink mix. He said, "you just pour it into the water bottle, and it be tasty all of a sudden." His loose grasp of the english language notwithstanding, he had a point. The "Peach Iced Tea" flavor was wonderful, so try it people. And you want to know the best part? It has 0 calories, which is ?###### percent less than leading soft drinks, even the really soft ones.

Let it be known that Epth Nation is available to endorse Target 20oz-Bottle-Compatible Drink Mix anytime Target wants it to. For right now, I will mention that "Crystal Light" also makes this type of thing, but it's more expensive and it turns my lips red (or at least the strawberry flavor does). This is socially embarassing and generally not worth it.