Shortish bits: flies, loathing, maths, and surely it can get worse

Organized religion is bullshit. Un-organized religion is the same except without the flies.

* * *

Misogyny will offend almost any sensible person; universal misanthropy aggravates almost no-one.

Then again misogyny implies something erroneous, namely the superiority of the other sex, while misanthropy, universal loathing of all man- and womankind, is something that’s easy to defend.

Oh well.

* * *

Your mathematician-speak for today: “M’enfin?! Diantre! Fichtre!“; which I think translates to “What the…?! Dash it! Oh, really!”; was encountered in a French-language Java demo of C.a.R. Metal, which despite the name is not an operatic heavy metal band, but a useful-looking piece of dynamic geometry software.

The Java example here under the section “03_mandel.zir” is a nice visualization of what Jonathan Coulton meant when he sang:

If the series of Z’s should always stay
Close to Z and never trend away
That point is in the Mandelbrot set.

* * *

Okay, unpleasant sick scenario warning for this one.

Here are four ways to die that are more horrible and painful (I’m guessing here, I admit) than crucifixion.

1) Being flayed alive, and then locked away somewhere.

2) Having ten cubic centimeters of your flesh, no more and no less, cut away every six hours.

3) and 4) Stephen King’s Survivor Type and Metallica’s One. Both are too horrible to repeat here; though it is debatable if the former is something you could use as a punishment. (Then again, see Clark Ashton Smith’s The Isle of the Torturers for a particularly evil perversion of hope of survival.)

Note that there are no science fictional and/or magical examples in those above; that’s well duh since obviously any half-imaginative conception of Hell or a reasonable simulation would be a million times worse than anything that a few Romans with hammers and nails could come up with. (For more examples of all kinds of horrors, more than you ever want to know, see TVTropes for And I Must Scream. You might want to place a paper bag next to your monitor first, for grabbing it and breathing heavily into it every few minutes. That occasionally helps.)

I’m just saying this because I think the people who for obvious theological reasons say crucifixion is the most horrible way to go a) haven’t considered all the alternatives, and are letting sloppy superlatives distort what they say and think, and b) given that the fellow walked away three days later and, as far as I understand theology, is not exhibiting any serious signs of trauma, are anyway on the same point on the scale of horrible deaths as a pretty scary movie is on the scale of mortal frights.

Not that I think crucifixion is a piece of cake (and how’s that for understatement?), or that I wish the Bible had an appendix on “What else they did to Jesus”, but once you think about it (and why yes some of us have brains that work that way) a crucifixion’s nothing particularly big when done to an omnipotent God.

Oh, and the “not exhibiting any serious signs of trauma” bit? One could probably write an eerily plausible story where a) Jesus was God incarnate, b) Jesus was crucified and died, and c) He came back wrong. Thus the subsequent death-and-suffering obsessions of Christianity and all horrors caused by Abrahamic religions, crusades, witch-hunts and the like, are explained as influences of an imperfectly resurrected and hence mad God. If one really wanted to milk the idea, one could introduce an Intrepid Group of Heroes whose purpose was to heal the world through — depending on your level of perversity, and how much you’d want to dangle the possible outcomes — either healing, replacing, banishing or killing the poor Being. The setting could be modern (“Mr. Atheist, I have good news and bad news. The good is God is just as horrible as you have said. The bad is He really exists, and we need your LHC to do something about that.”), or only a few decades after the crucifixion, when the post-Resurrection visits become more scary than sacred. (Some very creative theology would be necessary to make the story go anywhere.)

If you want to know — and I guess after the paragraphs above a change of subject is welcome — this bit came up not through natural inclination but through how much moaning about “the worst way to die” is placed between matter-of-fact mentions of flaying in Newman and Byrne’s Wandering Christian; and sometimes you want to make the idea go away so much that you’re willing to try exorcism through spitting it out to the blog.

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