28 Comments

  1. The joke is old and simply that after leaving Egypt the Israelites were “lost” in the wilderness for 40 years. (They actually spent most of their time hanging out at Kadesh Barnea.) Presumably his leadership was “beyond reproach” because it came from God, but that didn’t stop them from objecting to his leadership. See the whole #GoldenCalfIncident

  2. I was wondering if Moses was considered also the civic or “government” leader (and thereby, the one who should be finding the right path). Or if that was more in the hands of Aaron and Joshua.

  3. @Mitch4 Want a “real” answer? (That is, from a biblical and rabbinic scholar. Doesn’t make it “true.”) According to Torah, Moses was THE leader so long as he was alive. Then it was supposed to be Joshua and so on. (Of course, as Judges shows it didn’t work so well.) Aaron and his descendants were to manage the proper worship of God, but even then Moses was “in charge” as God’s anointed prophet.

  4. deety: They were forced to wander in the desert for 40 years because of disobedience to God. The specific inciting incident for the 40 years was when God wanted them to enter the promised land and attack a city. They sent 12 spies ahead, and after the spies scouted out the land for 40 days, 10 of the spies reported back that the people of the land were too strong, and that their conquest could not succeed. Only 2 spies dissented, and the Jews agreed with the 10 doubting spies. God was angry, and said that they would have to wander the desert for 40 years (to mirror the 40 days of scouting) before entering the promised land, and that of those currently living, only the the 2 dissenting spies (Joshua and Caleb) would live to enter.

    Coincidentally, I just recently read this story to my daughter, and she objected, “shouldn’t God say only ‘Joshua, Caleb, and Moses’ would live to enter? Moses also supported the attack.” I pointed out that Moses couldn’t enter because of another incident where Moses didn’t bring water from a rock in the manner instructed, and she pointed out that that incident happens after the 12 spies, so God should still say “Joshua, Caleb, and Moses” in the 12 spies story. Not sure what the explanation for that is.

  5. I dunno. Its a joke if it seems like a joke.

    And so we are supposed to admire Moses as a historic and religious figure and assume when we think of him we think of him in a positive light. … But he wandered in the desert for 40 years so he must have had a terrible sense of direction and that’s seeing him in a negative light contradicting that he was an admirable historic and religious figure. And that irreverence seems funny and like a joke.

    ….. until…. one actually thinks about it and realizes it’s just a basic and objective observation.

    Anyway… does one always think about a joke when the see a panel gag in the paper and give it now more than two seconds of time? Or is ones first impression a chuckle at the irreverence.

    Well, in this case I did the second….

    So it’s a joke because it seemed like a joke.

    But, lord knows, I’ve been really annoyed at “jokes” that don’t stand up to scrutiny. (Every single Wumo panel, for example….) and this one doesn’t stand up so if you want to critique it as such your point is certainly valid.

    But on the third hand, That’s the intended joke. No question of that. If it’s not actually an acceptable joke, then…..”Cartoonists publishes supposed joke that does not qualify as a joke”. It happens.

  6. “and she pointed out that that incident happens after”

    God’s presentient. The bible’s version of “A wizard did it”.

  7. I was the editor who classified this as “evident-enough intention but it isn’t a good joke.”

    I agree that irreverence can be funny, and that plot holes that only appear after you think about the joke for a little longer can be OK. For me, the problem is that the cartoon sets up a contrast that doesn’t even work on first impression. Moses wasn’t known for great leadership skills, and the wandering in the desert had nothing to do with being lost. And those objections appear on my first impression, rather than as a “oh, wait, but. . . ” So that rather than finding it funny, and later coming up with objections, I’m initially puzzled, and then have to reverse engineer what false assumptions must lie behind the joke.

  8. Also there’s the idea of people in the past doing things in present day contexts. …. such as evaluating peoples job performances

    …. except is that really such an anachronistic activity.

    It’s just not a good joke.

  9. Winter Wallaby, I think Biblical scholars who actually know the story know that but I imagine the popular image isn’t as such.

    This kind of reminds me of the “joke” about why they don’t make airplanes out of black box material, or why if you are cruising at just under the speed of light you can’t just step on the gas and thrust you over the speed of light. I’ve had people insist on braying those observations as the wittiest and funniest observations and when it was explained how they were simply ignorant of all issues they just repeated them louder figuring we just didn’t get it.

  10. The answer to why they don’t build airplanes out of black box material, is of course, “Because freeway overpasses aren’t high enough”.

  11. In that vein, I remember an art teacher I had who read something in a news magazine about or attributed to a “Dr. Geiger”, and she just thought it was the most hilarious thing that this guy has the name of that device you use for measuring radioactivity; that it probably was the guy who invented that device and so it makes perfect sense that it was named after him never entered her head or diminished her hilarity at the thought of a “Dr. Geiger”…

    (I don’t actually know if this Dr. Geiger had any relation to the Geiger counter, but it seemed like such an obvious possibility that I was totally unable to see any humor in the news blurb, or share in the hilarity, and indeed, I confess to a lessening of my respect and possibly a reaction akin to “Philistine!”)

  12. At one time I was convinced that the Avoirdupois scale of weight could not be named for a person, since the term was “obviously” a constructed word meaning “to have weight”. Then I was told that “pois” meant “peas” and “weight” would have been “poids” so my etymological just-so-story was hogwash, and it was named for a person. And on the third hand I learned that at the time the word entered English, the French for “weight” had not gotten that “d” and was still “pois” , and the just-so story was largely correct!

  13. The step-on-the-gas idea sounds good to me. I usually make one apple pie at a time, but today I’m going to make two, so I will just double the recipe: two bottom crusts, two cans of apple pie filling, two top crusts, bake at 700 degrees for two hours.

  14. I’ve never heard the “step-on-the-gas” joke, and it weird to me that someone would think that was clever or funny. It’s pretty obvious that the whole reason the “speed of light is the maximum speed” is interesting and surprising, is that you naively wouldn’t think that there would be a maximum speed. Naively, you would expect that you could always just step on the gas and add another km/hr to your speed. So “why can’t you do that?” is an obvious and reasonable question, but it’s strange to think that it’s a novel observation, or a joke.

  15. When there was such a thing as “efficiency experts”, one of the jokes digging against them was that they wanted to produce babies more quickly by getting three women pregnant for three months.

  16. There’s a wonderful construction, with math just a bit past my practical limit but still readable for me, where you use the projection to a plane (resembling one of the Escher prints with birds more and more crowded as you approach the outside of a disc) equivalent to one of the classic non-Euclidean geometries , I think Lobachevskian. Anyway, under this transformation , the formulas for additional velocity, reflecting the “contraction” in Euclidean/Cartesian terms, is actually LINEAR in the transformation space notation! So the step-on-the-gas approach would work, within this transformed space.

  17. So when the angel gets really close to the edge of the circle, why doesn’t it just fly a little faster and right off the edge? It’s an angel; it can do anything.

  18. Okay, it wasn’t a so much a “joke” as a serious argument that my student really thought was clever and was enough to counter any argument of a limit. Thing was he repeated it and hoped it be an end-all and when I, as was my duty, to explain how an increase gas has diminishing returns and their a limit, being the type of student with the sense of humor he had, though going into pantimime of leaning back in his car and revving the throttle and making motions of head-banging to the music blaring out of the car speakers ought to make it obvious how clever he was. The less I laughed the more he acted and performed.

  19. When making an apple pie with purchased can filling – one needs two cans to actually file the pie shell – unless one has found a pie shell to buy that is for an 8 inch pie. Guess who forgot this when we purchased pie shells and a can of apple filling to make a pie for Christmas? The chocolate cake (from mix) with frosting (from can) was pretty good instead and as of 2 nights ago – finished.

    I am a actually multiple blue ribbon baker for various versions of angel food cake (at the Long Island Fair) – some of which were recipes I developed myself, but I am trying NOT to have to wash every pan, bowl, plate, pot etc. EVERY day while stuck in the house, especially since our dishwasher is only usable for storage.

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