From rick Thu Sep 29 19:16:53 2005
Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2005 19:16:53 -0700
Subject: Pascal's Wager and me
X-Mas: Bah humbug.
User-Agent: Mutt/1.5.6+20040907i

At the top of article <pwgVe.7612$e96.5058@trndny09>, which you crossposted across / alt.true-crime / [1], you wrote:

> That's very nice, but what do you presume to say to God when you
> stand before Him at the Final Judgement?

I will adopt Rick Moen's Strategy: "In the unlikely event of losing Pascal's Wager, I intend to saunter into Judgement Day with a bookshelf full of grievances, a flaming sword of my own devising, and a serious attitude problem." I'm guessing Ken will have a similar strategy.

I'm delighted to have given people ammunition in the eternal war against idiocy.

But the astonishing thing is that it was absolutely an offhand remark that I made one day in 1997 in — of all places — the Robert Jordan SF/fantasy newsgroup (rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan).[2]

That newsgroup was and almost certainly still is an amazingly literate and funny group of slightly cranky people[3], who use Robert Jordan's logorrhoeic epic fantasy series as an excuse to shoot the breeze on almost everything. Almost. We had the misfortune to suffer an invasion of "witness-bearing" envoys from the Jesus Christ Church of Latter-Day Saints — who had somehow taken it upon themselves to straighten us out about the Book of Mormon and their church's creative approach to American paleo-history.

Their entrance and quest were entertaining for about five minutes, but then they became repetitious, tedious, and insulting to everyone's intelligence. The regulars proceeded to have a field day taking apart their archeology, their logical consistency, and their theology.

I happened to be mopping them up over religious ethics, when I dropped the quoted sentence as an afterthought. (Mind you: I have no problem with people basing their ethics on religious principle. I object only when the outcome of that process is illogical, and especially if it is both that and morally reprehensible.)

And, to my amazement, that sentence was immediately quoted... well... just about everywhere, became the thing I was best known for, for at least the following five years — and keeps showing up. Go figure.

[1] "Crossposts from hell, #295 in a series."
[3] See, a modestly famous Usenet parody in which yr. humble author appears as a minor character.

Cheers,               Chip Salzenberg: "Usenet is not a right."
Rick Moen            Edward Vielmetti: "Usenet is a right, a left, a jab,                     and a sharp uppercut to the jaw.
                                        The postman hits!  You have new mail."