Amoeba’s Lorica: Don’t Ever Challenge Worst

As Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba writes this, the news is full of the neverending story of COVID-19, how it’s killing people, and people’s spirits, and people’s jobs, and OMG are we ever going to be able to watch football again, and climate change and is this really what we have to do to fix it? Geez, all this has got to be the worst!

At the risk of calling up the shades of sinners whose principal sin was an over-expression of melanin in epidermal tissues, YFNA recommends, “Don’t ever challenge ‘worst’ …”


TEL ABIB, NEOBABYLONIAN EMPIRE, 592 BCE. The Judean priest Ezekiel, exiled from Jerusalem, walks along the banks of the Kebar irrigation canal, and argues with, um, lights in the sky.

EZEKIEL: “OK, cool show. Who or what are you, and how much did you pay Industrial Light and Magic for this?”

YAHWEH: “I am Yahweh, your God, the Lord of All.”

E: “All? Really? You mean all 200 of us, sitting here miserable by the waters of Babylon?”

Y: “Are you not forgetting the thousands of my subjects still in Jerusalem?”

E: “Why not? You have!”

Y: “No, they have forgotten me. have not forgotten them. Which they’re about to find out.”

E: (suddenly hopeful) “You’re going to rescue them?”

Y: “I’m going to wipe them out. I suppose that’s a way of rescuing them.”

E: (dejected again“Oy. Look, I’ve been trying to tell them that neither the Republican goons nor the Democratic mobs represent the true spirit of the … wait, what am I saying?!?

Y: (adjusts some sliders on the throne“Sorry. I keep telling IT to shorten the omniscience radius of this contraption. Yours is not the first mortal mind it’s messed with. You mean the pro-Babylonian and pro-Egyptian parties in Jerusalem, neither of whom are paying attention to me. Or you! I’m going to fix that. And I’m going to use you to show them how!”

E: “Lord, if you use me again it’ll be the end of me.”

Y: “Or I can just snuff you now. Want to dare me? Feeling lucky?”

E: “Not particularly. So much for anti-bullying programs in the schools.”

Y: (more fiddling with sliders“OK, here’s the deal. I’m going to show them what happens when the Babylonians find out that Zedekiah’s been lying to them, Zedekiah’s buddy Pharaoh bugs out, and that neither the Babylonian nor the Egyptian gods care a whit about Jerusalem, and now neither do I. You will show them what the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem is going to look like. And feel like.”

E: “Happy happy joy joy.”

Ezekiel’s daily food ration, about 600 calories (Daily Recommended Value 2000 -2500 calories)

Y: “Grab a few handfuls of beans, lentils, wheat, barley, and millet. Throw them all together in a jar.”

E: “How am I supposed to keep the rats and roaches and locusts out of the jar?”

Y: “Not my problem. Every day, measure out eight ounces (half a pound) of the mix, pound it out to make flour, and bake flatbread. You’re going to have to make it last all day, so don’t gobble it all at once.”

E: “Uh huh. And what am I supposed to do about my B vitamins?”

Y: (slams a slider“What part of snuff you now did you not understand?”

E: “Yessir. May I inquire how it is that I’m supposed to bake this alleged bread?”

Y: “Same way as you normally do. On a flat iron over an open fire. With human dung for fuel.”

E: (aghast) “You want me to cook my food in smmmfmfmmmmmfmmmmptui!”

Y: “Keep it clean, son of man.” (withdraws hand from E’s face, makes fist, pounds on slider panel with fist)

E: “That’s what I’m trying to do! Have you any idea how hard it is to keep yourself clean without toilet paper?!? And now you want me, not only to handle the stuff but to cook with it??”

Y: “It’s not like you’re going to get an electric range to do the cooking with.”

E: “A what?

Y: (to himself, shaking fist at slider panel“Finally!” (to Ezekiel) “OK, OK, you get to use dried cow dung for your cook fire. Maybe that will be enough to get your message across. And if it isn’t, and given the track record of you people I don’t expect it, may your Jerusalem friends be as lucky as you. But I’m afraid they’re going to wind up having to stockpile their outhouse droppings.”

E: “Ew.” (Y picks up lightning bolt, aims it at slider panel, thinks better of it, drops bolt.) “And what am I supposed to wash down this dry bread with?”

Ezekiel’s daily water ration (about 20 fluid ounces). Daily Recommended Value: between 75 and 100 ounces.

Y: “Water, of course. One-sixth of a hin.”

E: (considers briefly“One sixth of a … um, Lord?”

Y: “Yee – essssss?”

E: “Is this supposed to be dry wit?”

Y: “A warmup. We get through this, I’ll tell you about dry bones.”

E: “Deal. But, ah, speaking of getting through this, how long do you want me to do this stunt? A week?”

Y: “Fourteen months. And let’s talk about how you’re going to be tied down while you’re doing it.”

E:Ack! Couldn’t you just unleash a coronavirus plague on Jerusalem and get all this over with sooner and easier?”

Y: “I tried that in Hezekiah‘s time. Backfired, wiped out the Assyrians ins… What kind of plague?!?”

E:What what kind of plague?”

Y: “Never mind. Just get your stuff ready, so we can start your performance as soon as I get back. Which will be as soon as I can. But I’ve got some people to speak with first. Some technology angels of my acquaintance are going to come to know that am the Lord!”


Ezekiel chapter 4

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