A Deafening Silence

Posted in Uncategorized on July 31, 2009 by thebaumer

“Honour Killings”, the Scourge of Radical Islam, and the Silence of its Moderates

Maybe I should just stop before I even start; weary to offend, eager to inform, my typing fingers are tied by political correctness yet limbered by social and moral responsibility.

One need not venture further than BBC.com, the front page of The Star or CNN without being overcome with disgust and repulsion at the insanity and lunacy that is Islamic Fundamentalism. Quick to label the most passive of critics as “Islamaphobic”, apologists of the last revelation of the One and True God assertively and systematically dismiss the labelling of their religion – inherently violent, xenophobic, racist and intolerant – as “misunderstandings” at best, “discrimination” and “persecution” at worst.

“Gaza Muslim bludgeons his daughter to death with an iron chain because she owned a cell phone”

“Spain: Muslim stabs his daughter 20 times in attempted honor killing”

“Canada Muslim family plotted for months to murder daughters and first wife in honor killing”

“Germany: Muslim stabs wife ‘in the name of the Koran'”

“Honor attack in UK: acid poured down lover’s throat”

“More Honor Killings In The West, Yet No Outrage?”

Outrageous?  Most definitely.  Deplorable?  Unquestionably.  Actionable?  Evidently not.

And that’s just July.

It is difficult to contemplate which is more obscene, the acts committed in the name of the “religion of peace”, or the steadfast silence of your everyday, law-abiding, otherwise innocent Muslims.

But innocence is a peculiar term.  How does one gauge innocence?  What line must one cross between victim and perpetrator?  Or, at the very least, complacent bystander?

Like it or not, Islam does not preach peace.  Just open up a Qur’an and scrutinize its otherwise benign poetry.  Women are objects whose value is mainly determined by her ability to rear children and shield herself from public view.  Jews are cast in a harsher light than 10 Mel Gibsons combined could ever hope to aspire to.  “Infidels”, or more accurately, anyone that is not Muslim, must either convert or die by the sword.

Where are all the angry moderate Muslims outspoken and outraged at the “confusion” that the population is experiencing regarding their religion?  Alas, their voices erupt in a thunderous silence.

There is no confusion here.  No misunderstanding.  No misrepresentation.  No Islamaphobia.

And don’t even get me started on that.

Like every other free-thinking, rational, reasonable human being that has aimed to call Islam what it is has already declared, a phobia is an irrational fear of something.  But there is nothing irrational about fearing this totalitarian, theocratic, misogynistic, racist, violent and bloodthirsty “religion” which would stop at nothing to see the entire world under the rule of sharia law.

It was only a few years ago I was in the car with my mother, as she lamented (in hindsight, quite aptly) the growing trend of Iranian stores in my old neighbourhood.

I was angered and quick to defend Canada’s “multiculturalism”, attacking her for her bigotry and xenophobia, declaring that I hoped she didn’t talk like that in front of my younger sister.

Oh, how naive I was…

No, not a solitary Canadian would be residing in the Americas if it weren’t for a boat or plane of their forefathers carrying them across the seas (unless, of course, you are one of the quickly forgotten, easily dismissed bunch that crossed the Bering Strait on foot).

But this isn’t about greeting people with open arms anymore.

We are at war.

And the enemy will stop at nothing until the dark shroud of Islamicism casts its iron fist through our cultural mosaic, shattering the freedoms that it shits all over, yet hides behind in order to preach its hate.

Stand tall, my fellow citizens of this planet.  Do not sit idly by while Islamicism destroys the values which we have defended to the death for centuries.

The Enlightenment will be looked upon as a smoke break by our grandchildren, a brief flirtation with reason and sensibility, only to be crushed by the fascism of the archaic desert god, and his followers in faith.

Xenophobia, Religion, and Israel

Posted in Uncategorized on July 30, 2009 by thebaumer

In case you didn’t know, there is no peace in the Middle East.  There hasn’t been for quite some time.

Whence began the cradle of civilization, also emerged the world’s three foremost monotheistic religions.  From Abraham sprouted Judaism.  From Jesus spawned Christianity.  From Mohamed birthed Islam.  And the world hasn’t been the same since.

Ever since man stood erect and peered over the tallgrass, exercising his limited scope and senses to evade and ultimately dominate predators, the inherent territorialism that is human nature reared its ugly head.  From hunting in packs, to irrigation to the wheel, man has exponentially surpassed nature’s seemingly omnipotent grasp over the ecological and living balance.  What’s his has never been theirs, and the double helix will ensure that this axiom predominates both current and future interactions with the planet.  What once was a symbiotic relationship with nature, man has time and again managed to exceed and exploit this balance of life.

And then “God” spoke to Abraham and told him to slay his first born in what is perhaps the most vile and revolting test that the bible has in print.  “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son…” How such a despicable act of malevolence could be mustered by a universally hailed benevolent creator is a question scholars have pondered for millennia.

Lolz Ike, I is gonna cut you

And so it began, man, once accountable only to himself, his senses, and his biological imperative for self-preservation, now became subservient to to an invisible deity who took pride in smiting hordes of people (his alleged children), casting plagues of death and destruction, and officially establishing the notion of “the other”.

To imagine the conflict between monotheistic religions, which in actuality by definition share the same ultimate god, is to conjure up the image of a schoolyard debate between children.  “My religion is better than yours!”  “My god is truer and more righteous than yours!” “My god is the only god, and na na na boo boo, let’s spill blood to prove it!”

Fast forward to the crusades, to the inquisition, to the great pogroms of Europe, and we see the curse that is religion and its effects.

But to say that it’s all bad would be a declaration of ignorance and limited perception.  One can easily glance at a select few of the Ten Commandments, the teachings of Jesus, and the (ultimately contradictory) notions of brotherhood of Islam, and see that everyone kind of just means well.  But the road to hell, as it is said, is paved with good intentions.

Strife erupts like seething hot magma any time a fanatic aims to assert his religious superiority over another.  Sure, he means well, of course, but remember, you’re going to hell if you’re not a believer.

Much time is spent in both Christianity and Judaism fixated on the return of the Messiah.    The coming of the Messiah is said to be the end of old and beginning of new, a fresh start for humanity, the erasure of sin, and the dawn of a new era.  But if you read the scripture closely, the inherent contradiction between the seemingly mutually inclusive rapture leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth.

Jews wake up every morning hoping it will be the day that the Messiah returns to the land of Eretz Yisrael, but the entity in question will raise hell before the day is done.  Fundamentalist Christians support Israel with the same fervor that they do for the Holy Trinity, for it is believed that the biblical land of Israel must be intact, established, and inhabited by the “chosen people” of the Old Testament, the sons of Abraham, before the delightful preachings of the book of Revelations can come to fruition.  But what some like to gloss over is the fact that whilst it is the Jews that must be present in order for the Messiah to make an appearance, once he does, if the Jews don’t convert to Christianity, they’re going straight to hell.

This is going to be a bad day

Muslims and the Arab world have loathed Jews since antiquity.  Christians have tolerated Jews and been at an existential standoff with Muslims for over a thousand years.  And Jews have just been trying to sneak under the radar and hope that no one will try to kill them on any particular day.

Ever since the Jews were expelled from their biblical home by the Romans before the dawn of Christ, some have always tried to venture the journey back; and since the Spanish Inquisition of the late 15th century, this imperative has increased markedly.  But the Arabs whom have since inhabited those lands weren’t too pleased that their sworn enemy was hoping to come home for supper.

But the Holy Land is holy to everyone:  Jews, Muslims and Christians, alike.

A new beginning
A new beginning

And so in the late 19th century began the musings of one Theodore Herzl, credited with the concept of Zionism, or most simply, the re-establishment of the biblical land of Israel.  Despite what some white supremacists and Muslim fundamentalists would have you believe, it’s not just the Jews who have acquired wealth over the centuries; but it was incidentally the wealthier of said Jews whom began to legally purchase land from Arabs throughout the later part of the 19th, and first quarter of the 20th century.  And once again, despite what virulent anti-Antisemitism and varying propaganda would have you believe, the inhabitants of Palestine were more than gracious to accept cash money for their worthless land.  And by worthless, it is not meant in the sense of sentimentally void; it was barren, harsh, and borderline inhospitable land.  Some arabs left more freely than others.  Some stayed and vowed to fight to the bitter end.  And many, in fact, lived in harmony with their brothers of past.  Yes, brothers.  Both semitic people, Jews and Arabs emerged from the same blood, yet this fact is made fiction to fuel the mutual fear of the other.

In the wake of World War II, after six million Jews had been systematically identified, herded, starved, beaten, tortured and murdered, the patriotic Jewish inhabitants of Palestine vowed for it to never happen again.  After the British up and left after establishing a bi-state solution, but unable to maintain the peace between the feuding families, Israel formally declared its independence on May 19th 1948.  And boy, did those Arabs not like that one little bit.  Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq invaded the new state from all sides, garnering fervent military support from Arab sympathizers Morocco, Sudan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.  After a year of brutal and merciless fighting, a cease-fire was reached.  But that wasn’t the end of the argument.

Wikipedia’s account of the events put it succinctly:  “Arab countries over the years refused to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, and Arab nationalists led by Nasser called for the destruction of the state. Syria, and Jordan massed troops close to Israeli borders, expelled UN peacekeepers and blocked Israel’s access to the Red Sea. Israel saw these actions as a casus belli for a pre-preemptive strike that launched the Six-Day War, Israel achieved a decisive victory in which it captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights.

Sticks and stones will break your bones, but Tomahawk missles will fuck up your shit.
Sticks and stones will break your bones, but Tomahawk missles will fuck up your shit.

Religion has been in bed with politics since their first drunken hookup a couple thousand years ago, and the United States, fervently implementing its policy of containment against the Soviet Union, infused Israel with economic and military support, being its only democratic ally in the region of arab states deeply vulnerable to the influential sphere of Communist expansionism.

And so Israel became stronger and stronger, the arabs became angrier and angrier, and a poor, marginialized, seemingly forgotten few were caught in between: the arab Palestinians who still presided.

The inherent nature of Zionism is exclusionary and extreme.  If you’re not Jewish, you’re just not invited to the party, and consequently hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were left to knock on doors and hope for admission.  But once again, don’t let the propaganda fool you:  as much as the arab states would have virulently argued for the plight of the Palestinian people, no Arab nation would allow these woeful souls across their own borders.  Unwanted by all, desperation grabbed the people by the throat and forced them into violent and controversial acts of self-preservation.  Israeli domestic policy is abhorrent to anyone with any semblance of morality and compassion, as it ironically seeks to segregate and starve the Palestinian people much in the same way as the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 did to the Jews of Germany.

Here we are today, each side screaming “you started it!” atop the shrills of air raid sirens and thunderous roars of artillery and bombs, irrevocably entrenched in an existential conflict that has no conceivable end.  One side sends suicide bombers into cafes, the other erects a massive wall to keep the other out.  One blockades port cities preventing food and energy, the other fires rockets indiscriminately and haphazardly across kilometers of desert.  One dies, a hundred more are slaughtered collaterally by gunships and rocketfire.  And so the dance of death and destruction spins and staggers day by day, with the question of “who started it?” becoming increasingly moot.


Why?  Because of religion, of course.  Because of territorialism.  Because of xenophobia.  Because of blind fear and hatred.  Just because.

Maybe, after all, what we really do need is a swift and tidy apocalypse to wipe the slate clean.  Only in this version the four horsemen carry machineguns, and the archangels rain nuclear fire.

Why can’t we just get along?  Well, it wouldn’t be humanity if we did, now would it?

Ban Professors of Israeli Studies, Says CUPE’s Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee

Posted in Uncategorized on July 30, 2009 by thebaumer

Idiocy Reigns Supreme

Amidst hellfire missiles, mortar strikes, and ground incursions, on the 3rd day of open hostilities between Israel and terrorist organization Hamas, the Islamic University in Gaza was targeted by Israeli bombings; a science building  was blown to smithereens.  Despite what propagandists and fact falsifiers may have you believe, the university and incidentally the science building is a known support column for the Hamas militant incumbent power. Many top Hamas officials graduated from there.

One could easily speculate (as I’m sure Israeli tacticians did) that the science centre may have been responsible for researching, orchestrating, or funding the development of weapons that could be used against Israel.  But let’s assume for the moment that it bore no direct responsibility in the contribution to, or exacerbation of, Hamas’ steadfast and zealous vendetta against Israel.  Let’s even go so far as to say that the bombing was not only systematic, but perhaps malicious and completely unnecessary in Israel’s quest to suppress and destroy Hamas’ capacity for launching missiles into Israel.  Let’s just chalk it up to military strategists with a hard-on for destruction.  Let’s assume all that, because this would be the worst case scenario in terms of public perception of Israel’s proclaimed entirely reactionary and proportionate response to Hamas’ rocket fire.

Enter Sid Ryan, president of CUPE Ontario, who, having gained notoriety for his endorsement and instigation of the 2006 boycott against Israel for its “apartheid-like policies” towards Palestinians, is now back at the wheel, drunk as shit, and looking to crash his 1987 Chevy Bigot into bystanders, babies, buses and the remotest semblance of reason.


His latest egestion of idiocy reads as follows: “In response to an appeal from the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, we are ready to say Israeli academics should not be on our campuses unless they explicitly condemn the university bombing and the assault on Gaza in general.”  I’m sorry, but there are so many things wrong with this quotation that the entire Age of Enlightenment could be cast into shadow by even briefly considering the aforementioned statement to bear anything close to logic or reason.

Let’s give Mr. Ryan the benefit of the doubt, for the moment, and presume to believe that he truly has solely the (entirely legitimate) plight of the Palestinian people at heart, his motives are pure, and his ignorance unintentional.  But wait – ban professors?  For what?

“Unbalanced, unfair and unhelpful.” These were the words of Len Rudner, regional director of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) in Ontario.  “Once again Sid Ryan is jumping before thinking. I think it’s ironic individuals who speak about freedom of speech jump to the opportunity to take that freedom away from other individuals.”  Huzzah.

The resolution purportedly aims to uphold the integrity and, “quality of education by preventing Israeli academics from professing biased views.”  Right.

Many assumptions are taking place here.

Firstly, it is assumed that all professors of Israeli studies are right-wing, ardent zionist nationalists that mix gunpowder in with their oatmeal and drink the blood of Palestinian babies.

Secondly, it is assumed that any or all time is being spent on professing biased and skewed “truths” of the 60-year-old issue.

Thirdly, it is assumed that there is some sort of sinister, diabolical, inherently malevolent motive for exercising their freedom of speech in order to profess in such a manner.

So here’s the fundamental question:  What does the highly controversial Israeli domestic and foreign policy have anything remotely to do with Canadian professors?  Why should anyone, in a position of power and influence, be forcedto condone or condemn actions carried out by a sovereign nation in another hemisphere?  Why should these professors say anything at all, let alone condemn the actions of a nation acting in its own interests and completely detached from the teaching and education of its history?

We might as well ban all Chinese food restaurants and force its employees into internment camps.  Chinese restaurants are littered with reminders of Chinese culture and tradition, and Communist China’s human rights track record is abominable – so let’s draw a causal relationship between the two, and enact a worldwide boycott of all Chinese food until the Communist government cleans up its act.

Any reasonable person realizes that this makes no sense whatsoever; sadly, the CUPE does not employ reasonable or rational people.

At the end of the day, however, this is really all just a bunch of plastic sabre-rattling.  The National Post asserts that, “if the resolution receives majority support, it will be on the agenda at CUPE Ontario’s conference in May, when more than 1,000 would be expected to vote. Should it pass that point, the union would then ask the province’s schools to respect the prohibition.”  Well whoop-dee-doo.  After all this hooplah and beating-the-shit-out-of the Golden Retriever fast asleep on the living room floor, the union will ask pretty please, with sugar on top, to ban professors from freely speaking in a forum of education and research.

In the meantime, I’m going to picket in front of a Persian Rug store and demand all their inventory be burned unless Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad ceases his nuclear program.  Because one thing clearly has everything to do with the other.

Divine Scripture, Divine Comedy

Posted in Uncategorized on July 30, 2009 by thebaumer

“The god of the desert”

I may not have mentioned or implied it, but I’m an atheist.

Or, perhaps more accurately, as YouTube veteran Pat Condell declared, a “fundamental agnostic”.

I honestly don’t know, and I don’t really care to know.  But I’m not arrogant enough to presume to tell you with utmost certainty that there isn’t.  I have better things to do than to emphasize time and again that the burden of proof is on the believer, not vice versa.

This is where atheists get a bad rap; they proclaim with unfettered confidence that there is no God.  They don’t typically waste their breath detailing the lunacy of worshiping Zeus or Apollo or Ra; rather, it is the “god of the desert”; the Abrahamic god that spawned the three dominant and only monotheistic religions that we know today: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  This is the god that atheists outright deny, for it seems almost redundant and anachronistic to debate the existence of Zeus, Isis, Thor, or Apollo.

Try not to breathe, god my disapprove
Try not to breathe, god my disapprove

The thing is, I don’t feel it’s productive to argue with creationists, orthodox Jews, or fundamentalist Muslims about the existence of god, or what typically reverts to a debate of cosmology/evolution versus creation.  If someone holds a conviction so strong and dear that they look forward to the next life more than their next day, you’re not going to dissuade them through intellectual and logical debate.

And don’t bother mentioning that the first Christian gospels detailing the life of Jesus weren’t written until decades after Christ’s supposed jaunt across the pond, alcoholic alchemy, or resurrection and ascension.  In fact, the only complete forms of the gospels can be dated back, at most, to the 4th century C.E.

And you’d be wasting your breath reminding them that if a man was in fact setting off magnificent fireworks displays of miracles, bringing people back from the dead and curing cancer, someone would have noticed.

But that’s the thing.  No one did.

Not one solitary contemporary scholar in the entire region, from Athens to Rome to Jerusalem and back, ever even heard of the guy.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  They may not have heard about Jesus the man, but they’d heard the story before.

Numerous pagan religions had told a virtually identical tall tale:  a miraculous virgin birth.  It is worth noting that the following pagan gods arrived via virgin stork:  Mithras, Isis, Romulus, Perseus, Danae, Melanippe, and Auge, to name a few.  But it didn’t stop there.  Some of the aforementioned characters also performed miracles.  And walked on water.  And turned water into wine.  And died.  And were resurrected.  And ascended into heaven.

But I digress from my main point.

Genesis states that man was created in god’s image.  The absolute miracle of the human body, in all its perfection, magnificently and intelligently designed by an omnipotent creator.

This is what fundamentalists ram down my throat.  How grateful I should be for being granted the grande honour of occupying this corporeal creation.  But this is where scriptural dogma turns into shameless apologism.

“What about all the evil in the world?” you may ponder.

“What about all the death, destruction, and mayhem?”

“What about the earthquakes, the floods, and the typhoons?”

“What about the murder, the carnage, the genocide?”

Well, they just happen to have an all-encompassing non-answer for you:  “It’s all part of God’s plan,” or my personal favourite, “God works in mysterious ways.”

It’s funny, but for such a perfect manifestation of himself, god has done a pretty shitty job getting the damn gears to stop jamming.  But it’s all a mystery, right?

I don’t think it was too mysterious for my father as the cancer slowly ate him up from the inside, over the course of four torturous years.  I think it was pretty obvious.

I don’t think it was a mystery to him as multitudes of malignant masterpieces were excised from his body, whether through the blessed scalpel or miraculous chemical stew pumped through his veins.

I don’t think it was a mystery to him as he hugged his three year-old daughter for the last time.  There was nothing enigmatic or magnificent or divinely beautiful about that.

“But you can’t have good without evil, light without dark, pleasure without suffering,” they emptily repeat ad nauseam, ad infinitum, ad self-flagellatum.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Don’t go on to tell me how perfect and wonderful we are as god’s creations, yet run for the hills when someone calls bullshit.

I don’t need to suspend disbelief to realize that the god you claim to be your creator, your lord, your saviour, simply does not exist in the conniving,  convoluted and contradictory sense that you simultaneously accept and reject, quote-mining the bible for convenient truths yet ignoring the xenophobia, racism, matricide, patricide, fratricide, homicide, genocide and miscelaneous crimes against humanity – all, mind you, in the name of your almighty.

In conclusion, if you wish to subject yourself to a magazine which has no opt-out period and an automatic subscription renewal upon your mortal expiration, by all means, that is your prerogative.  But please keep your ideas to yourself, out of our schools, out of our politics, and out of our secular society.

I don’t need a vengeful, jealous, arrogant, spiteful, murderous god to tell me where to get my morals from.

Because the “god of the desert” has no place in modern times.  He’s too busy lamenting having not finished off all the Philistine women and children in cities that doubted his legitimacy, thousands of years ago.

I Hope the Pope Gets AIDS

Posted in Uncategorized on July 30, 2009 by thebaumer

I’m HIV positive he’s a healthy candidate

Well, it’s Friday night, and in honour of the Sabbath, I shall go on a rant.

While the Pope currently embarks on a “peaceful” mission to the strife-ridden Middle East, I’d like to step back several weeks and discuss some of my previously unaddressed scathing criticisms of religious dogma.

Pope Benedict XVI just can’t seem to pry himself away from controversy, no matter how many asinine-suppression pills he gorfs down at breakfast.


Do you remember when you were a little kid, and your mommy told you explicitly, “don’t take a cookie from the jar!”?

Of course you do.

And what did you do?  You took it.

Of course you did.

People, especially children, take great pleasure in defiance, as it can be very empowering.  How else are you going to know how much your mom loves those crystal figurines until you smash a few and find out?

Enter sex.

Contrary to much religious doctrine, humanity is a hugely sexual species – in fact, that’s how we reproduce.  Sexually.  But don’t try telling that to the United States’ Department of Education.  Instead of embracing the inherent tendency of adolescents to explore their experimental and curious impulses, the official policy, instead, is to not only endorse abstinence, but to preach it virtually exclusively.

That’s right, folks; the vast majority of the effort is placed on demonizing the horizontal polka, rather than telling kids that if they happen to act  human, they should do so safely (i.e. through condoms, spermicide etc.)

And gee golly Kimmy Sue, guess what there then happens? They go and do it anyway.  But since there hasn’t been any relevant education in preventative measures, it seems that “Catholic Schoolgirl” syndrome is on the rise, along with teen pregnancy, and the tent in Jimmy’s pants.

Enter Africa.

Here we have millions of impoverished people desperately seeking to shake loose the shackles of colonialism, overthrow the ruthless dictators left in its place, and find some semblance of progressive humanity that much of the Western world enjoys.

But the problem is that people are dying by the thousands, by a pesky little thing known as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and its angry offspring, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

Africans from all walks of life, from the Algerian sub-Saharan, to the rape capital of the world, Johannesburg, South Africa, are dropping like flies because they can’t seem to suppress the continent-wide pandemic.


A big reason?  Christian dogma.

Sure, not all of it is bad, if you filter out all the contradictions, terrible advice, and lunacy…but then I guess you’re not really left with much once you put the red marker down.

But here we have the Pope, the spokesman appointed by God, but elected by men, declaring that abstinence is the true path to Jesus, and giving into our dirty, sinful, disgusting nature will give Jesus a hernia, or worse.

The incessant campaign is ridden with misinformation and disinformation, oftentimes claiming that condoms outright don’t work, or even more ludicrously, that they exacerbate the spread of AIDS.

Yeah, that’s right, they’re telling people that using domes will give them AIDS.

And praise the lord, they’re listening, in droves.

I think the Catholic Church was onto something in 1992 when they made the timely concession that Galileo may have, in actuality, been telling the truth when he asserted the Earth was not the centre of the Universe.


It’s about time society takes off its collective blindfold and kicks its malevolent addiction to faith and scripture.

I mean, most of us know now that it’s not demons that cause infections and disease, but bacteria and viruses.

The Church has done so much rewriting, apologizing, and backpedaling over the last 15 centuries that maybe we should realize that it’s not the word of a god, but the words of men; men whom eventually discovered pasteurization, atomic theory, and genetics.

Men that should endorse the use of condoms, in defiance of ignorance,  because it’s the humane thing to do.

But when was the last time religion advocated humanity?  I think we lost track of things killing each other in the name of our lord.

Peace be upon you.  Shalom Aleichem.  And As-Salamu Alaykum.

Although, I kinda think that those words have lost every last bit of their meaning.