How to run indefinitely and breathe underwater in three easy steps

Disclaimer: I am neither a doctor nor a professional theologian, and all information is from Wikipedia. I’m not even Catholic.

Let’s assume you’re a distance runner or some other kind of endurance athlete, and also the Pope. Since low oxygen is the limiting factor on how long you can keep running—even if you’re Pope—increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood when it gets low will increase your endurance.

Here’s how.

Step zero: Become Pope.
Several people have accomplished this throughout history. It is therefore doable.

Step one: Water to wine.
As Pope, you get to abuse your power. One of the better-known possible miracles is turning water into wine. Nowhere in Catholic theology does it say that the Pope can do miracles at will, but come on. Just look at that hat.

As it happens, slightly under half your blood usefully carries oxygen. The rest is water. That’s what you’re going to turn into wine.

Warning: This will kill you. You’ll wind up with a BAC of five. Not 0.05. 5. It’ll depend on the wine, but we’re somewhere in the territory of “legally intoxicated, and multiply that by sixty.” Some lucky people have been known to survive a BAC of 1, but you’re way past that. So you’d better do the next step quickly.

Step two: Transubstantiate.

To do this, it is necessary and sufficient to say “this is my body, this is my blood.” The alcohol poisoning would kill you, of course, but it probably won’t kill you instantly. So you can squeak out a couple words and the wine goes away. This is where the good part happens.

The blood of Jesus is often described as “scarlet” or “crimson.” Those are both bright red colors, and bright red means highly oxygenated. Neither of those is applied to the relevant blood by the Bible, but scarlet is the official color according to the Catholic Church. So if it’s the Pope doing it, then by golly the blood is going to be oxygenated.

According to the best source in the world, if you run until you’re exhausted your blood may contain as little as 15% of its maximum oxygen. You just transubstantiated a bunch of fully oxygenated arterial blood already in your body. Adding more arterial blood won’t change the saturation of oxygen in your arteries much (that stays above 95% anyway), but it will in your veins. So, for purposes of numbers, all oxygen percentages from here on out refer to its saturation in venous blood. (To clarify, the percentage is relative to how much oxygen the blood can hold. It’s not saying that scarlet blood is literally made of 99% oxygen.)

The blood in your veins isn’t normally that oxygenated. Having just come from dropping the oxygen off where it needs to be, it’s typically down to 75% at rest. In your case, half your venous blood is even lower than that and the other half, which normally contains none because it’s water, is instead at 98-99% because it’s the scarlet blood of Christ.

Your venous blood is at 55% oxygen saturation, which isn’t great but it’s far better than before you did the miracle. Unfortunately, that’s still dangerously low over the long term. Luckily, there are still some tricks up your sleeve.

What you’re doing is called blood doping and is banned from most sporting events. Of course, usually people do this by giving themselves transfusions of their own blood so they can hold more oxygen on game day. Simply creating the blood has not yet been banned. Technically.

Doing this has some obvious problems. Your blood is half water for a reason, and if you’re turning that half into regular blood, and the quarter that’s still watery into blood, and the remaining eighth and so on, then you will 1) eventually run out, and not have any water left in your bloodstream to turn into oxygen-bearing blood, and 2) die. It’ll get thick and unwatery enough that your heart won’t be able to pump it. The trick we need is a miracle to turn blood back into water.

Surprisingly, this is never explicitly done by any Biblical prophet or, as far as I know, Catholic saint. But we can sort of infer that Moses did it: In Exodus 4, God gives him the at-will abilities (for purposes of proving he’s a prophet) to turn his staff into a snake and back, his hand leprous and back, and water into blood. There’s no “and back” stated, but, you know, parallelism. Therefore you the Pope, as Keeper of God’s Authority on Earth and Wearer of the Really Cool Hat, ought to be able to turn blood into water.

(You may ask why, if Moses could do the transformation both ways, we’re bothering with the wine step at all. The answer is that he had to pour it out to turn it to blood and you’re not in a position to pour out the water you want to transmogrify. Also I didn’t think of him in time. MOVING ON.)

Step three: Blood to water.

Use this on two thirds of the blood in your body. After you’ve done the transubstantiation thing once, your blood is ¾ water where it’s supposed to be ½. This just resets it to normal thickness, but it doesn’t change the fact that you tripled the concentration of useful oxygen in your veins. You have now completed a cycle.

In order:

Regular blood: 50% water, 75% of venous oxygen capacity.
After running as long as you can: 50% water, ≥15% oxygen.
Water to wine: 50% wine, 15% oxygen.
Wine to blood (remember, blood is half water and half useful stuff): 25% water, 55% oxygen.
Blood to water: 50% water, 55% oxygen.

The other problem is that this amount of oxygen, while high enough that you’re not about to collapse, is low enough that over the long term you’d need medical intervention.

So you do another cycle: 50% wine, 55% oxygen saturation.
Wine to blood: 25% water, .5*55+.5*98.5=76.75% oxygen.
Two thirds of the blood to water: 50% water, about 75% oxygen.

That means if you run until a marathon runner would drop and then you do two cycles of this, you’ve got as much oxygen going to your muscles and organs and things as you would while sitting in an armchair. And there’s no reason you have to wait that long. You’ll get less extra oxygen per cycle if you do it more often, but you don’t exactly have a limit on how many times you can do it.

Let’s go to the extreme. If you do this continuously, you can replace breathing.

A given blood cell, if it’s going all the way down to your toes, can take 20 seconds to leave the heart and lungs and come back. Let’s give you ten, since most blood doesn’t have that far to go. If you completely replenish the oxygen every ten seconds, it will be every bit as effective as the usual situation with lungs and everything.

The only one of these that takes actual time is the transubstantiation step. You need to say “this is my body” and “this is my blood,” but the Church has placed no limit on how long you need to take to do that. Or in what language: If you’re underwater and don’t want to have to exhale, you could use any of various sign languages.

That would allow you to stay alive and active, without breathing, as long as you want to. Of course, there has to be a catch. The catch is blood type. You’re turning the wine in your bloodstream into blood, but it’s Jesus’ blood. According to the Catholic Church, Jesus’ blood type was AB. (Seriously! They have an opinion!) So if you have a different type, this will kill you.

Of course, you’d need the ability to perform miracles in the first place. And if you’re Pope, you’re probably surrounded by devout and vigilant people who would frown on the idea of using it to give yourself superpowers. You’d have to get away from the spotlight before going out to fight crime as Aquaman, and has anyone seen Benedict?


Long-distance teleportation is hard, you guys.

I was not expecting this to be this hard.

The question is: Given only teleportation and no other superpowers, can you reliably travel transcontinental distances without instantly dying?

The reason it’s hard is that the point you start from and the point you end at are not stationary relative to each other. The Earth is rotating on its axis. It’s also revolving around the sun and whirling around the galaxy and for all I know it’s disco dancing through the cosmic microwave background, but the rest of those aren’t relevant.

Here’s why the earth’s rotation is a problem, helpfully explained in comic form:

Little did Calvin know that if he ever invented teleportation his life would depend on this very thing.

The point toward the middle of the record is a point toward one of the poles, closer to the axis of rotation. The point on the edge is a point on the equator, away from the axis. They’re moving at different speeds. Say you’re in San Antonio, and you teleport to Mexico City. Well, Mexico City is moving seventy-eight miles per hour faster than San Antonio. The nearest wall rushes you at 80mph from the west, and I don’t like your chances. And that’s two cities that are pretty close together.

But that’s with cities that are basically on the same line north to south. If they’re not, then it’s both more complicated and way more dangerous. Places at different latitudes are moving at different speeds, but places at different longitudes are moving different directions.

Suppose this diagram represents the earth, with us looking down on it from above the North Pole. (This is in fact exactly what it represents.) The earth rotates counterclockwise around its axis, which is helpfully labeled A. There’s nothing at point C; don’t bother going there. It’s spinning counterclockwise: If you’re at point D then your current movement is directly left.

Your speed is based on your latitude: at the equator it’s about 1080 miles per hour, where I am in Los Angeles it’s about 895, at the North or South Pole it’s zero. So if you’re at point D, you’re moving to the left very fast. If you then teleport to point B, you’re still moving to the left very fast. You smash into the earth instantly and die.

The obvious solution is to teleport to the point precisely ninety degrees east of you. For instance, from B to D on that diagram (Just pretend they’re ninety degrees apart.) Then the direction you’re currently traveling in is straight up. You go up, eventually gravity turns you around, and you come back down into the middle of the Atlantic. Bring a parachute and a life raft. Or, if you’re Indiana Jones, just a life raft.

This doesn’t work. Partly because the very fast speeds in question are in fact faster than the speed of sound. You’re not surviving that. More importantly, even if you do use that trick, it just cancels out the momentum you already had. It doesn’t get you moving in the direction Point D already is. Stopping only helps if you’re aiming for one of the poles; you need to match the speed and direction of your destination.

OK, next obvious solution (spoiler: this one doesn’t work either). You can try to get to the point 180 degrees across from you like this: Teleport 90º east, as before. You fly up. When gravity remembers to pull you back, you start falling. Note that, if you started at the bottom of the circle, you are now on the far right, and “falling” means falling left. At some point before you hit the ground, teleport straight up and keep falling. You speed up, gaining 22 miles per hour each second. (I’m starting to regret not using metric for this post.) Eventually you’re moving at the right speed. Since you’re already going in the right direction, you can now safely teleport to your destination. (This can get you to one of two points: The farthest point on Earth from where you started, or the point that corresponds to that one but on the other side of the equator.)

Except that it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because of one of the most annoying things in the history of physics, air resistance. Human terminal velocity is around 120 mph, and you can’t get much faster than that while falling through air on earth. Depending on where you want to go, you might need to be moving several times that.

So you do it from higher up, outside Earth’s atmosphere. On the bright side, there’s no air. It won’t interfere with your attempts to speed up. On the less bright side, there’s no air. If you know enough to not hold your breath, you’ll survive with no permanent damage for up to ten uncomfortable seconds. But by fifteen you’ll lose consciousness, presumably lose your ability to teleport, and then die. So let’s keep it under ten seconds of vacuum exposure.

Unfortunately, this can’t work. Earth’s gravity can give you 22 miles per hour extra speed for each second you spend in freefall, but you only have ten seconds. Say you’re falling at 120 miles per hour the regular way, then get another 220 from doing that insanely dangerous thing for ten seconds. That’s still not fast enough. If you’re aiming for somewhere equatorial, you need to be able to reach 1080 mph.

The problem here is that Earth’s gravity can’t accelerate you enough. (And no, you don’t get to bring rockets with you.) So, it’s time for another obvious solution: Teleport to Jupiter! This involves some major headaches, because it turns out that your departure and destination cities are not actually in the same orbit as Jupiter. So now we actually do have to think about position relative to the sun as well as position relative to Earth’s axis.

The plan is the same as before: Teleport to a specific point above Jupiter. Spend up to ten seconds letting its gravity pull you toward the planet. This will never take more than ten seconds thanks to Jupiter’s gravity; exactly how long it takes depends on how close to Earth’s equator your destination is. Pick the point above the planet in such a way that the line from where you are toward Jupiter is the vector that will, in a few seconds, make your velocity match the velocity of your destination. Once you’re going at the right speed in the right direction, teleport to where you want to go. You’re travelling at insane speeds, your destination is travelling at insane speeds, and if you did the math right then you’ll match up perfectly.

We can’t always do this. Earth and Jupiter are moving at up to 100,000 mph relative to each other depending on the time of year, and it would really suck if you forgot about that and burned up in its atmosphere. In order to avoid complicated math, let’s say you only do it when Earth and Jupiter are moving along parallel lines. This happens about twenty-two times every twelve years.

With the two planets moving in the same direction, or in directly opposite directions, you just have to pick the time of day when that direction is the vector you want. (Or, once again, the exact opposite direction.) Then you teleport directly in front of or directly behind Jupiter, get the velocity to match your target city, and there you go. Because “teleport interplanetary distances instantaneously and use a gas giant’s gravity to change your velocity at 10g for a few seconds in hard vacuum before teleporting back to the planet you started from” is totally a reasonable thing.

Cleanliness is next to COOKIE!

A Facebook friend of mine posted a question about whether, under the Levitical law, Cookie Monster would be considered a clean or unclean animal. This is a surprisingly arguable question.

Both sides agree that it is highly unlikely that there is a specific exception for Cookie Monster one way or the other. Aside from the exceptions, the general rule in Leviticus 11:3 is that an animal is usually clean if it both chews the cud and has cloven hooves.

Start with the part about the divided hooves. This is a difficult question due to the fact that Cookie Monster is in fact a puppet. The most common portrayals of the mythical beast have no legs at all, so we may have to make a guess about the biology of the animal itself.

Since Sesame Street doesn’t answer this important theological question, there are other options. Consider another creature from the same source:

See those hooves? They can’t get more divided than that. And if the great and powerful wizard Frank created such a being once, it’s reasonable to suppose that the same applies to Cookie Monster. Not certain, but at least reasonable.

Here the opposing side may interject that that’s not a fair assumption. This is serious business, and we don’t want to hazard an answer based on a guess. Besides, simply from looking at any of the Cookie Monster toys that have been sold it is obvious that at least some people think the species has feet, not divided hooves. But those toys are apocryphal, and their canonicity is disputed. The short answer is that we don’t know whether Cookie Monster has hooves, but there is a factual answer even if we don’t know it. It could reasonably go either way.

The other requirement refers to how a creature chews its food. Whether Cookie Monster’s method of eating cookies counts as chewing a cud is a subject of intense debate among theologians. The phrase used in most contemporary English translations of Leviticus is “chews the cud,” which is far too specific. While Cookie Monster’s method of eating does not fit the strict definition as used by modern biologists, we don’t really care about the current definition.

In fact, mentioning a cud at all is a bit of a mistranslation. Cud-chewing is what ruminants do, where they swallow their food, regurgitate it back into their mouths, chew some more, and swallow it again into their nuclear-powered adamantium extra stomach. That is not what cookie monsters do. But it’s not what rabbits do either, and Leviticus 11:6 clearly states that rabbits count.

According to the people who argue about this kind of thing, one of the Hebrew words in question is “ma‘alat,” meaning “chew.” In the Hebrew, it’s a participle form of the word ” ‘alah,” an extremely broadly used word meaning “to bring up.” (Allegedly, anyway, I don’t know Hebrew and this is coming from people with a vested interest in Cookie Monster being considered clean under this verse.) Supposedly ” ‘alah” is used in pretty much any context: Raise a sword, raise a child, flood a river, even carry a box horizontally.

The other word is “gerah,” meaning something along the lines of a thing that has been chewed.  Literally it means something that scrapes the throat, which clearly does happen when Cookie Monster eats a cookie. This word never appears in any other context, so there isn’t a lot of information on it. But it’s clear that a cow chewing and swallowing, then unswallowing and chewing some more would definitely fit this description, hence the cud translation.

The standard argument is that rabbits count as cud-chewers for the purposes of the book of Leviticus because they engage in a disgusting-to-humans process most politely referred to as—pardon my Greek—caecotrophy. Eating the same matter twice is apparently enough to satisfy the requirement of “bringing up the thing that has been chewed.”

And if that’s a small enough stretch to be reasonable, then Cookie Monster definitely counts as well. The proof is seen in this documentary footage of a wild cookie monster’s mastication process. Almost every crumb of what gets chewed gets brought up, thereby ending any debate.

See? Absolute proof.

Capes and Masks

“Way I see it, having a local team of superheroes is like having a sports team.  Everyone’s rooting for them, they make for great media that isn’t about wars or the water crisis or whatever, there’s merchandising and tourists… all good shit that the local government loves.” —Lisa Wilbourne, aka Tattletale, Worm.

Unfortunately, that’s not remotely close to true. A typical world with superheroes has property damage is in the high billions, and offscreen civilian deaths are way too high. It’s worse off than if there were no superheroes at all.

That’s really too bad, so let’s see if we can construct an exception. A situation where it might actually be to the city’s benefit to have capes and masks running around wreaking (controlled amounts of) havoc. It won’t be much better than regular Earth, but it won’t be worse.

You’ve got what Tattletale calls full-contact cops and robbers, where people dress up in costumes and run around throwing superpowers at each other. The heroes get to say they’re doing it to protect the public, the villains say they’re in it for the money, but really they’re all just playing for fun.

If people get seriously injured, it’s not fun. So everyone on both sides goes out of their way to avoid hurting people. The guy with the power to disintegrate organic matter by pointing at it doesn’t go into crimefighting. And definitely not crime. He’d get arrested and charged with lots and lots of murder. He goes into medicine instead and zaps people’s cancers or something.

The powers that get used by the people in masks are more oriented toward containing their opponents, or defeating them in any relatively harmless way. If Mythos messes with Relentless’ perception of time during a fight, everybody’s OK with it as long as she puts it back afterward. There are also people with powers like explosions and lasers, but nothing that can’t be set to stun gets used in a fight.

As you might expect, since people are running around (or flying as the case may be) and hitting each other, injuries do happen. No deaths or anything classified as catastrophic, but there are a lot of concussions. This is recognized to be a problem, but the average fan doesn’t really care.

A typical cape fight looks nothing like a crime in progress and more like an improvised stage production. A villain group announces that they’re going to, say, rob a particular bank that weekend. On Sunday the bank is closed and there has been plenty of notice for bystanders to get out of the way—except of course for the people who bought tickets. At the prearranged time, the villains arrive and pose dramatically for the cameras before walking toward the front door. The heroes drop from the sky and start the fight.

If the bad guys fight their way in, they break into the vault and get out with as much as they can carry. It’s all covered by the bank’s villain insurance, along with any property damage. If the heroes win, the villains get captured and left shouting phrases like “Curses! Foiled again!” until the actual police arrive. There usually aren’t charges pressed, because everyone knows it’s all part of the game. The bank was never actually in any danger of losing anything, and the endorsement deals are good for business. In any case, everything is back to the status quo pretty quickly.

The villains are obviously playing along. If they really wanted to rob the bank, they could just not tell people ahead of time. But then it’d be treated as a crime instead of a sport, and nobody wants that. Besides, they’d lose all their fans.

Obviously, this wouldn’t be able to work without a powerful industry backing it up. That’s where the money comes in.
There are the ticket sales, and people might pay through the nose for that, but you can only fit so many people around the site of a bank robbery. It’s not like superheroing takes place in a baseball stadium. The real money comes from merchandising. If people will buy a T-shirt that looks like Peyton Manning’s jersey, they’ll buy one that looks like Enforcer’s costume. They’d do it for golf if that were the sport that everyone cared about, and I guarantee superheroes are at least as interesting as football players. From selling things with their logo on it, the National Supers League could probably bring in, oh, at a random guess let’s say $2.1 billion per year.

Ticket revenue is pretty much negligible next to that, and advertising will be less than it is for current sports. There may be just as many people watching it, but when superheroes fight supervillains it’s not exactly a predictable length with scheduled commercial breaks.* Call it a billion and a half in advertising.

Selling the rights to televise the matches could bring in another three billion dollars, and I’d imagine there’s a lot to be made from movie deals as well. The Avengers made a lot of money, it would have made a lot more if they could have marketed it as “based on a true story,” and that means more money for the superhero teams.

The fans, meanwhile, enjoy being able to follow their favorite franchises.  There are rumors that Captain Anvil might leave the Defenders and move to a different city? Well if that happens, you’ll have to start rooting for the villains over there! He’s supposed to be on our team! It’s hard to imagine a sport that’s better designed for rivalries than this one.

There’d also be all kinds of non-fight-based events. If the fans have been arguing over whether Atalanta could outrun Speedster over a long enough distance, organizing a race means free publicity for both heroes and a great advertising opportunity for the NSL. But the main events are always the classic heroes-vs-villains match-ups.

You might not like the idea of a giant entertainment industry built around watching people hit each other. But a lot of people enjoy watching it, and there aren’t all that many people being hurt and they aren’t being hurt that badly, so it’s fine. Right? Anyway, if you’re in favor of the continued existence of football you should probably consider these superhero fights a good thing for the same reasons. You can’t tell me it wouldn’t be entertaining.

*Usually it’s over more quickly than a normal sporting event. With some exceptions. When Vortex dueled Chronomancer, they both got mistaken for statues of themselves. Eight hours in, Chronomancer won with the first punch, and those two have avoided each other ever since.

Lazy again

I didn’t do any blog writing this week, because of reasons. The good news is I’ve got a growing list of blog posts to get around to, the bad news is a decreasing amount of free time. Probably no post next week either. Anyway, here’s the obligatory list of some things I think are cool.

This calculus teacher got his students excited about math in a clever way. Yay math! And yay educators! They calculated the size of the dating pool as a function of age to find when it’s largest. Apparently the answer is 42. Also he links to Hyperbole and a Half, which automatically makes him cooler.

I bragged about this on Facebook and Twitter, so I should probably post it.
All even perfect numbers are of the form p(p+1)/2, where p is a Mersenne prime. So p=2^k-1 for some k. Therefore, for any even perfect number there is a positive integer k such that
That implies that each even perfect number is more than twice the size of the previous one.
Replace k with k+1, you get 2^(2k+1)-2^k. That’s the smallest possible size of the next biggest perfect number.
Doubling a perfect number gives 2^(2k)-2^k, which is smaller than that. So every even perfect number is more than double the previous one. The sum of two numbers must be less than double the larger one, so perfect plus perfect equals not perfect. I call it Galinda’s Theorem. (This proof might not work in the unlikely event that odd perfect numbers exist, but Galinda would deny being odd anyway.)

The puns over here are much less forced than that. This is a chart of what words mean to non-philosophers and philosophers. It’s only funny if you’ve heard some of the words, but you’re probably familiar with “logic” and “utilitarianism” and some of the others.

Cleverness is fun to read about, so click here and read a fairy tale in which the protagonist wins through application of knowledge of economics.

Paul Ebert was, by all the hilariously one-sided accounts I’ve read, a pretty sucky dude. Little things like threatening to have witnesses killed unless they testify falsely to convict someone else of murder. But the other, much funnier, thing I want to mention is that he once won an election against a ham sandwich.

Good news: Using the word “whom” is apparently considered attractive. As a part of the pro-”whom” lobby, I hope this leads to more people using it correctly. Bad news: It’s considered attractive even if it isn’t used correctly.
The linked post is uncomfortably misogynist and its statistics are subpar. They say it doesn’t matter if the pronoun is used correctly or not, but I’d bet the effect is larger if it’s used correctly. I doubt there are people who actively prefer the word to be misused, and I know there are people who prefer it being used correctly.

”Human” is an incredibly specific word that narrows down the space of all possible people by a lot. It always annoyed me how a typical human uses “everybody” to mean “a typical human.” So I enjoyed this tumblr conversation about how humans are totally terrifying from points of view that don’t start from the assumption that humans are normal. The third text block is especially good.

And, best for last, someone needs to call in the Magratheans. I’ve always wondered if this was possible, and apparently it is not only possible but awesome…. You can have habitable Earthlike planets in the shape of a donut! Differing strengths of gravity based on where on the surface you are. Incredibly high mountains and awesome moons. This person even calculated the seasons and weather, and yes; those are cool too. Sunrises and sunsets happen much faster and more often. And the effect that we call the Northern Lights happens over a much wider area. I want to move there.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

I know, this is out of date, but it’s not like I was thinking about Valentine’s Day before it happened.

Once a year, every year, the secularists mobilize against our sacred holidays. You’ll see red heart shapes, chocolates being sold in stores, and Cupids with their arrows. Harmless? Maybe. Maybe not. Because whatever people are celebrating, it isn’t St. Valentine.

St. Valentine’s Day celebrates the heroic and sacrificial actions of St. Valentine, who was imprisoned for his faith and responded by miraculously healing the daughter of his captor. Such displays of forgiveness and love are nowhere to be found in the modern celebration. Everything the holiday is really about has been all but forgotten. We need to put St. Valentine back in St. Valentine’s Day!

Instead of celebrating Christian agape love, the world has replaced it with eros. Eros himself makes frequent appearances, in the form of his Romanized counterpart Cupid. Any time we try to celebrate St. Valentine, it gets decried as “offensive” and “establishing a religion,” but the atheists get to put up posters of the pagan gods they worship and nobody thinks twice. By wanting to get rid of the “St.” in “St. Valentine’s Day,” secularists are really trying to get rid of the saints.

What the secularists are really celebrating is the Roman festival of Lupercalia. They admit this every time they say that we Christians stole the holiday from them. They use this to justify censoring the “St.” out of the name. As ADF president Alan Sears, a staunch defender of the holiday as it was supposed to be, wrote, “Frankly, it’s ridiculous that Americans have to think twice about whether it’s okay to wish someone a happy St. Valentine’s Day. Thanks to the ACLU and its allies, St. Valentine’s Day isn’t what it used to be. It’s time to repair the damage that such organizations have done to America’s favorite holiday.”

After dozens of lawsuits, display replacements, and corporate decisions, it seems like hardly anyone even mentions St. Valentine. It’s all commercialization and a watered-down holiday. If it even counts as “holy” anymore. Luckily, our salvation doesn’t depend on the beliefs of our neighbors.

Secular liberals say they’re just protecting the constitutional rights of non-Christians who don’t want to see or hear about St. Valentine. But what about the constitutional rights of millions of Americans who simply want to celebrate their traditional holiday—without insulting anyone else but also without having to hide behind closed doors?

Look at how much money and effort liberals put into advertising the secular version of the holiday. Why would anyone try so hard to stop Christians from enjoying their faith? It seems very defensive. It’s as though they’re not entirely sure of their position unless they can find a significant number who will agree with them. Their insecurities aside, there are plenty of people who worship the atheistic polytheist holiday. So why can’t we find more who celebrate the real one? Most non-Christians have no idea who St. Valentine even is. The Catholics deny that the holiday is even about him, even though that’s his name right there in the title. Those of us who faithfully insist on keeping St. Valentine’s Day about St. Valentine are looked down on almost as much as the people who say you can’t end a sentence with a preposition.

You might be thinking I’m overreacting. Many liberal Christians think that. They think it’s no big deal, that people can celebrate the holiday however they want. They think there’s no risk to the holy day’s existence. They’re wrong. After decades of this, who even remembers Saint Valentine? The holiday has already been utterly destroyed.

The world insists on its inclusive, neutral celebrations. We’re considered divisive for daring to hold a saint-centered St. Valentine’s Day, and it’s simply expected that this holiday is merely banal. St. Valentine represents radical willingness to love one’s enemies and follow God whether it be to miracles or execution. The holiday is about so much more than the shallow love portrayed in culture, is it any wonder that mentioning St. Valentine makes people uncomfortable?

The message of St. Valentine’s Day is that we need to follow God? That’s offensive! He confirms that we don’t rule the universe. We are not in control of everything. We are dependent. How un-American! This is why atheists go to such lengths to drown out the true meaning of the holiday. And they are winning.

Put the Saint Back in Valentine’s Day!

Hey everyone! I invented a new word! It’s called “plagiarism.”
In this post, I used a lot of unattributed quotes from War on Christmas people. For honesty purposes, those links are here, here, and here. I think that’s all of them.
In about nine or ten months I might show this to that site, as an example of “what might happen to Christmas.” Just for fun, to see if it gets taken seriously.

Calvin! Hobbes! Scrabble!

The first thing to note about this is that it’s impossible.

The total point value of the tiles in a Scrabble set is 187. For the maximum possible score when making this play, assume that he completed six words of fifteen letters. Then he’s getting points from ninety tiles, for a maximum of 177 points before  multipliers.

For a score of 957, the average tile would have to be counted 5.4 times, meaning about 54 points for a Z or a Q, or 5 or 6 for a vowel. The specific six letters he placed  are all doubled (from the double word score) and used twice (because they’re each in a different word as well). So each of those letters counts at least three times. The specific letter on the double word score box counts four times, and if one of the Z,Q,F,M,G,B is on a double or triple letter score then it counts six or nine times. But there are no other bonuses. So the maximum mathematically possible score from placing six consecutive letters one of which is on a double word score is 9*(10) + 4*(10) + 3*(8+8+5+5) + 1*(5+4+… you know what, this is way less than 957.

Far be it from me to suggest that Calvin was cheating. They must have been using a different ruleset. There’s a commonly used house rule that if you lengthen a word, you get any bonuses from any letter in that word. (As opposed to just the bonuses underneath the letters you played.) This rule is wrong and messes up the game, but a lot of people play with it and it does allow for Calvin’s score.

Here’s a possible board configuration immediately before his turn. (You might want to refer at a blank board to see where the bonus squares are.)

If it helps, the first word played was "Leo."

The words played on Calvin’s turn are:

Antibionicities: You know how, if you have multiple bionic limbs you might say you have more than one bionicity? This is the opposite of that. Also, three triple word scores. (1+1+1+2+3+1+1+1+1+3+1+2+1+1+1)*3*3*3=567 points.

Qasidah: Before the Q, this was a food. With the Q, it’s a type of lyric poetry. (10+1+1+1+2+1+4)*2*2=80 points.

Unflakelikely: In a manner not resembling a flake. (1+1+4+1+1+10+1+1+1+5+1+1+8)*2*2=144 points.

Nonglistening: Only capable of hearing things that don’t include the letter G. Wait, that was something else. (1+1+1+2+3+1+1+1+3+1+1+1+2)*2*2=76 points.

Tom: The cat, not the name. Neither Calvin nor I would ever stoop so low as to use a proper noun. (1+1+3)*2 = 10 points.

Pize: This word is really cool. The actual definition is just “a pox or a pest,” but it was primarily used as a curse word. Kind of like “A pox on Insert Thing Here,” but more obscure and archaic. Oh, and as a verb it means to strike someone. 3+0+10+3=16 points.

Zqfmgb: A worm found in New Guinea. (10+10+4+3+2+3)*2=64 points.

(And yes elemental symbols count. And “Ec” counts just as much as com or org, thank you very much. And “nn” counts because Unix programs aren’t proper nouns. And so on and so forth.)

64+567+80+144+76+16+10=957 points.

Hobbes apparently played a word with “all the Xes and Js,” which is weird because a Scrabble set only contains one of each. From this I conclude that they played with tiles from more than just the one set. That happened to my family’s set years ago, so it’s not like that’s impossible. Also there is no X or J on this board outside of the word for female former judges. And I did hold myself to the regulation number of blanks.

(Also: nucleoplasm, be, zygomorphic. It should be possible that they were all played for the right number of points given the rules as I stated them.)

It is very likely that I made at least one mistake. If anyone finds one, I’ll make the correction and sing the Very Sorry Song in your honor. And by “sing” I mean “post, over a text-only medium.”