irony

Theological Comedy

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 22 March 2015.Follow the bouncing ball. Damn. Where’d I put the ball?

Anyway, it’s pretty simple for being so complicated: The ultimate reality is called Mysterium for a reason. With me, so far? The word is “ineffable”, which means it cannot be properly expressed, which is also ironic given the number of people you might meet who have no idea what the word means. Well, okay. Almost ironic. Metaironic. Nevermindronic?

So here’s the deal: If it cannot be expressed, any expression thereof will necessarily be inadequate.

Easy enough?

Good.

A practical example: You have finite brain capacity and function. The whole of the Universe cannot fit inside your brain; you can neither witness nor calculate its entirety in any one moment.

Now stop to consider we might search out, should we be so inclined, centuries-old debates about the nature of a monotheistic godhead and whether “infinite” is inclusive enough to contain the whole of God. Think St. Augustine on crack.

An anecdotal example: An explanation of Heaven given me at a Jesuit high school had to do with our individual selves gathered ’round God’s throne in Heaven, singing hosannas throughout eternity. No, really, can you think of anything more boring?

Still, though, Zach Weiner offers a pretty good take on what would be heavenly.

The lesson, however, is this: In the end, by the totality of the godhead―to infinity, and beyond!―there is no experiential difference ‘twixt being one with God and simply being dead.

If you run it to earth, that’s what you find.

____________________

Weiner, Zach. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 22 March 2015.

Morbid Hilarity (King v. Burwell Throwback Mix)

That King v. Burwell has even made it to the Supreme Court becomes even more of a mystery; the cynicism of the case is plainly apparent; even Justice Scalia is reduced to cheap politicking.

Perhaps, then, we ought not be surprised at Ian Millhiser’s report for ThinkProgress, which runs under the lovely title, “The Lawyer Telling The Supreme Court To Gut Obamacare Explained Why He Should Lose In 2012”, should surprise nobody:

On Wednesday, a lawsuit seeking to defund much of the Affordable Care Act appeared to hit a roadblock when Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed concerns that the plaintiffs’ reading of the law is unconstitutional. Though Michael Carvin, the lead lawyer challenging the law, attempted to extract himself from this roadblock, he quickly ran into an entirely different obstacle — his own past writings.

Attorney Michael Carvin, who argued King v. Burwell before the Supreme Court of the United States, 3 March 2015, on behalf of plaintiffs hoping to overturn the Affordable Care Act, in an undated photo.  (Image credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)Carvin claims, in a case called King v. Burwell, that Obamacare should be read to deny tax credits that enable millions of Americans to afford health insurance in states that elected not to set up their own health exchange (under the Affordable Care Act, states have “flexibility” to decide whether to set up their own exchange or to allow the federal government to do so). During oral arguments on Wednesday, however, several justices raised concerns about the catastrophic damage Carvin’s reading of the law could inflict on those states’ insurance markets ....

.... Carvin tried to downplay the risk that consumers would simply stop buying plans in the law’s health exchanges if the tax credits were cut off, claiming that these consumers would still be attracted to exchange plans by the fact that the exchanges offer “one-stop shopping” for people looking to buy insurance. He also claimed that Congress wasn’t worried about the risk of death spirals if the tax credits get cut off. According to Carvin, “there’s not a scintilla of legislative history suggesting that without subsidies, there will be a death spiral.”

But Carvin himself sang a very different tune three years ago. Indeed, Wednesday was not the first time he’s stood in the well of the Supreme Courtroom and asked the justices to gut the Affordable Care Act. Carvin was also one of the lead attorneys in NFIB v. Sebelius, the first Supreme Court case attacking the law.

In a brief filed in NFIB, Carvin explained that “[w]ithout the subsidies driving demand within the exchanges, insurance companies would have absolutely no reason to offer their products through exchanges, where they are subject to far greater restrictions.” And, contrary to his more recent suggestion that Congress never envisioned any danger if the tax credits are cut off, Carvin wrote in 2012 that “the insurance exchanges cannot operate as intended by Congress absent those provisions.”

In a subsequent brief, Carvin elaborated that “the federal subsidies are the incentive to participate in the exchanges, and without those subsidies, there will be no mechanism to sustain the exchanges.” He also seemed to contradict his central claim that different states are treated differently depending on whether their exchange is operated by a state or the federal government. The Affordable Care Act, according to the Michael Carvin of 2012, “enables uniform and acceptable federal premium subsidies”.

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Black and White and Purple All Over

Now in Black and White!

Okay, the thing is that the slogans rotate, so not everyone gets this ironic moment. And it’s true, the whole thing about being in black and white is supposed to be taken in that humorous, conscious, passive-aggressive self-deprecation.

Still, though, Matt Tarpley went with shades of purple, and I’m guessing that’s today’s clue:

This week Mary Death goes to Japan! For real, I am in Japan right now buying all the things.

Also, there will be a special guest artist appearing for Friday’s strip. Eggciting! I have left a tiny clue as to which comic this artist comes from …

So, hey, play along. To the one, it’s a great strip in general, written and illustrated by a talented artist. To the other, I’m never right about these things, so come Friday you can appropriately razz me for being wrong about the clue.

____________________

Tarpley, Matt. “Japan!” Mary Death. 4 November 2014.

Irony

Don't ask me, I'm just the Speaker of the Fucking House

Irony can be toxic, even pestilent. To the one, we might note that there are so many things wrong with Richard Cowan’s story for Reuters, though chiefly we might wonder what the hell the article is trying to tell us.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Thursday expressed his dissatisfaction with a chronically high jobless rate and complained of a “very sick idea” that the unemployed would “rather just sit around.”

The top House Republican said there were a “record number of Americans stuck” and that government had an “obligation to help provide tools for them to use to bring them into the mainstream of American society.”

The U.S. unemployment rate was 6.1 percent in August, down from 10 percent in October 2009.

Boehner’s remarks were in response to a question following a speech he delivered to the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute in which he laid out broad ideas for improving the U.S. economy.

The question was about plans that have been offered by politicians ranging from Democratic President Barack Obama to Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to expand an earned-income tax credit for the poor.

And for Reuters’ part, the telling becomes even less articulate as we go. Then again, perhaps the problem lies with the Speaker; articulation has never been an emblem of his tenure.

Still, though, irony insists:

It’s official: The House is closing up shop until after the midterm elections.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office announced Thursday there will be no votes on Friday and said the four-day session originally scheduled to begin on Sept. 29 has been canceled, pending Senate approval of the continuing resolution that passed the House Wednesday.

That means lawmakers will be sprinting to the exits — and the quick trip to the airport — after the close of business Thursday.

(Eldridge)

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A Test, of Sorts

And very possibly true, at that.