Saturday, 7 March 2009

Beware of your toast! - Religious images in everyday life


Great pictures from the Telegraph!
I reproduced the comments too.

"A grilled cheese sandwich that supposedly bore the image of the Virgin Mary was bought by, an online casino, for $28,000 on eBay in November 2004" (Telegraph)

It reminds me more of Marlene Dietrich...

" also bought a water-stained piece of plaster from a Pittsburgh man's bathroom that was said to look like Jesus Christ. Their winning bid on eBay was $1,999.99" (Telegraph)

Well, such a bathroom is indeed a blessing...

"The 'Nun Bun': a cinnamon bun that apparently bore the likeness of Mother Teresa, was made famous by the Bongo Java coffeehouse in Nashville, Tennessee. The bun was later stolen."


I would like to note that in all these cases, there was an institution to state the apparitions and make them famous. The casino did a good job earning money with it.

Here is "Allah" written in Arabic, and below is an aubergine with the word "Allah" clearly seen inside that "was exhibited in Jordan in April 2005." (Telegraph)

Actually the writing just looks more convincing to me: I can see the letters written there. Handwriting is different from one person to the other, so we are all used to reading differently shaped letters. A "real" handwriting is already quite symbolic, so I guess some lines can more easily look like real handwriting than... the face of a real person.

But, well, an aubergine...



  1. Ha, what shapes have I already seen just by looking up to the clouds........

  2. Yeah, clouds are great!

    But did you consider those shapes as holy apparitions ? :-)

  3. No, never. Are you serious about this?

    But our ancestors might have seen divine messages in clouds or lightnings, simply for the reason that they didn't know what was causing that theatre in the sky, except a god.

  4. Well, not only our ancestors I guess, because people bought that toast... :-)

    But yes, clouds are great!

  5. Geez, now I'll be on the lookout for dubious vague shapes that can earn me a mint on E-Bay. Thanks for the idea!
    (Don't expect a percentage, though. I never said I believed in sharing. I just sell religion, I don't "do" that addictive stuff myself. ;-)

    Marlene Dietrich, yes, totally! "Thou hast said!" [Matthew 26 : 64]
    And I feel that bathroom Christ looks more like Vincent Van Gogh.
    I had a teacher who looked a lot like Van Gogh. Well, except he still had both his ears...

    As for that aubergine, better I don't say what it reminds ME of. Islam isn't to be spoken of lightly where I live, and mine was not a very religious idea...
    Then again, several opponents of islam claim it's all about one thing: sex.

    I suppose it's like those "apparitions" images: depends on the angle at which you look at it. :-)

  6. People have this deep-seated need to believe in wonders in the world. An enchanted world full of Gods is so much more interesting and emotionally satisfying than one that is mere mechanism. And, there are wonderful things - beauty, awe, love, even the daily joys of a well-made meal or a favourite sweater - and they stimulate this desire for meaning and connection.

    But, all I ever see in my toast is bread, I'm afraid.

  7. Concerning pattern recognition:

    It's a well known fact (for scientists studying behaviour and cognitive abilities), that the decision algorithm of pattern recognition can be reasonably understood as based on the Bayes algorithm, which includes the a-posteriori probability of all possible results of the several possible decisions. For animals (non-human and human) this algorithm takes into account much more the possible "negative" outcomes than the "positive" ones - it is a survival mechanism created earlier during evolution.

    So, we "human animals" have the strong tendency as a heritage, that we see very easy some structure even if there is nothing - basically (as long as we don't know for sure what it is) it could be something dangerous, and then we have immediately to react in order to survive with higher probability ... and in all the cases where there is "nothing" but we see something, not much is lost. Of course, some adrenaline rush may happen and you may jump away or be ready to fight, but in the average it is much more dangerous, if you ignore some really dangerous situation. That's the survival mechanism.

    On a higher semantic level of our mind we try to make sense of the structure we see suddenly somewhere, even it is nearly just some optical noise. Now, we are no more living in the jungle surrounded by wild beasts looking for a nice meal - so, the aspect of danger recedes much into the background, and just some surprise may remain, and because surprise gives spice, we started additionally to make a certain kind of game out of it ...

  8. Sam,
    Be afraid. Be very afraid.
    For you are right, it's all true! BWAHAHAHAHA!

    Basically, what you're saying is, that we see God [and the likes] everywhere because it's in our best interest to always be ready for a hasty escape.
    Makes perfect sense. They can't send me to Hell if they can't catch me! ;-)

    "Now, we are no more living in the jungle surrounded by wild beasts looking for a nice meal"
    Have you looked at your boss during work lunches lately? It IS a jungle out there...

  9. Thank you for all your comments! :-)

    I like Sam's and Neeraj's comments put together: I think they are about the same thing, well formulated, but described at different levels. We do look for meaning because it was absolutely needed for survival for long, (and probably is today too, on other levels, as Pascal points out), so our brain evolved to recognise patterns out of nowhere. But when we experience this pattern recognition, it is nowadays more about filling the world with meaning, with spirit. It makes us able to produce and understand art, beauty.

    And makes us also able to surrender to fears and beliefs imposed by institutions. These toast-examples made me wonder about the very interesting way how pattern-recognition, religious institution and downright greed got entangled in this story.

  10. By the way, what do you think, guys, about this "personal advertisement" of Kraxpelax? I was thinking of erasing it, (first comment I would erase!) because it is just advertisement, has nothing to do with the topic, and didn't communicate.

    Actually if he had had any polite sentence, ex: "Hello! I found your site interesting, would you like to visit mine?", it would be communication. This way, it is just spam...

  11. Pascal:
    Have you looked at your boss during work lunches lately? It IS a jungle out there...

    Neatly observed ;-) ... I'm a freelancer - so, during work lunches I have to look at myself, and I'm sure there IS somewhere a wild beast within me. Sometimes I hear it growl blood-hungrily ... so, any God/Devil/Demon/Beasts - be aware :-[

    We do look for meaning because it was absolutely needed for survival for long ... it is nowadays more about filling the world with meaning

    It is as ever in evolution: Out of some root (which is in turn based on not knowing anything for sure) an huge tree is growing more and more with many branches, layer over layer ... art, science, math, myth, religion, fantasy/imagination/hallucination, finding meaning in all their many forms, more or less synchronized with some triggering from "the world outside" and forming the worldview individually as well as in a certain society/culture/civilization. Forming in a selforganizing way, now "synergy" comes into play - there are many loops and feedbacks, inside as well as outside. Some researchers in the field of pattern recognition say (I don't know a quote at the moment), that about 90 % or more are from inside, and about 10 % triggered from outside. And, since it is deeply based on fear, we need desperately positive meanings/strong beliefs as a counterpart in order to make it bearable ...

    Enjoying life (the wild beast within me, as well as the cultured one and the jungle around with another nice beasts ...) I don't mean it in a negative way :-)

    About this "personal advertisement":
    I don't know his intention either ... hey Kraxpelax, if you look here again, could you please explain? (Being friendly I guess, he is in a way very shy or feeling isolated and tries to communicate/share, but doesn't know how ... maybe. Maybe it's just a kind of spam, but then I don't see any intention either. However, if that's a single incident, I would recommend to ignore it, because it ignores the discussion here, too, and I don't see his links as somehow "bad" ... I hope you have set a disclaimer somewhere that you are not responsible in any way for any link placed by any visitor of your blog.)

    Blog software:
    I'm still fighting with it - in Opera it still doesn't work to comment, but I can read, in Firefox often I have to make two single clicks to get one correct response (all possible scripts and cookies are switched on).

    Right now I have to make the comment procedure six or seven times till it hopefully works: Copy/paste my text into comment field, select profile, typing in my name, click on preview ... and all is gone and empty again, as if I had done nothing at all ... grrrrr (= wild beast;-) Yesterday night it has worked!

    Now, I try again, posting directly without preview ... doesn't work either, no captcha is showing up (only in a very mutilated way and not usable).

    => O.K. the blogger software people are actually again tinkering around with their scripts
    => FUBAR (look into internet abbreviations;-)
    => I'll try later to post.

    And I would like to have an email-notification about answers concerning comments or new threads, but I don't see any possibility without a Google account which I don't like to do :-(

  12. Addendum concerning erasing in your blog:

    The (nice) picture below "Make a wish", found in the internet (in German "Pusteblume", the final stage of a dandelion) has a copyright - do you have asked the copyright owner for a (written) permission to use it?

    If not, then it's a copyright infringement, and especially in Germany this is very dangerous: There are lawyers looking for this with bots in the net, and when they find something they send the webmaster an "Abmahnung" (I don't know the correct term in English), which means you have to pay something, sometimes a lot (depends on the lawyer how much he sets the "Streitwert" = "amount in controversy(?)" and additionally his charge for his job), even if they are not engaged by the owner and even if you have no commercial intention. This is an outcome of the special laws in Germany about competition behaviour on the marketplace, and there are notorious lawyers making a big business with that :-(

    It's ridiculous for situations like that, but actually a fact. So, if your blog is hosted in Germany (if not, you are lucky) and if you are thinking about erasing something in your blog it should rather be this picture ...

    Sometimes one can get really paranoid.


    Addendum concerning blog software:

    => for a short time I could comment with Opera (the comment before), but not with Firefox (just the contrary as it was some time ago),
    => right now I can comment neither with Opera nor with Firefox,
    => FUBAR again,
    => I'll try later to post ... a few minutes later:

    => right now I can comment with Opera, if I post directly without preview ...

    => I thought I could - a few seconds later it didn't work anymore ...
    => I'll try later again and again and ...
    => ... maybe I'm going crazy.

    (With bugtracking in Opera I have got the message, that there are 145 CSS bugs in the blog software concerning W3C conformity, 63 minor ones and 82 bigger ones ... really crazy. Are there morons at work? This new blog software version seems to be a so-called "banana software" - with no other blog software I have so many problems.)

  13. Did this Kraxpelax make other comments before? Or suddenly show up, out of the blue?
    My suggestion, Aniko : take a look at his blog(s) to make up an opinion, and leave a comment somewhere to recommend he uses a little more netiquette next time.
    Not sure if free blogs with no advertising would be actual spam [I haven't checked them yet], but can definitely be perceived as unsollicited promoting without so much as a word of introduction.
    P.S.: read my blog! You can access it by clicking on my profile's link, and then the blog's link, and... well, OK, it's a bit complicated. And it only leads to a page filled with my customary silly ramblings anyway. But if you have a lot of time to waste... ;-)

    "I hope you have set a disclaimer somewhere that you are not responsible in any way for any link placed by any visitor of your blog.)"
    And don't forget the one about not having endorsed every silly bit of nonsense commented by others!
    Then again, maybe *I* should put that disclaimer in all my comments. Much of that nonsense comes from yours truly. (Yours falsely? Naah! I'm really me... I think!)

    "FUBAR (look into internet abbreviations;-)"
    Don't need to. I once worked in Vegas as a fubartender. And I almost went professional at the Olympic parallel fubars.

    "And I would like to have an email-notification about answers concerning comments or new threads, but I don't see any possibility without a Google account which I don't like to do :-("
    I made one, solely used for my blog [which you may connect to]. Not much of a problem if you leave everything else out of it.
    And guess what? My user name for signing in is an e-mail address... a Yahoo! e-mail address! :-)

    Oh yeah, and visit my blog. I'm sure you'll manage to find the link some day.
    Bonus : if you travel to Lebanon as a tourist, and mention that my blog encouraged you to it, I'm hoping some day to perhaps receive commissions. With a LOT of luck. Want to buy placebo pills that will increase the size of your penis in your mind?
    I also have some cheap Rolexes...

  14. BTW, Aniko, what exactly does your blog's name mean? (If it means anything at all.) I'm especially puzzled about this Gado-Gado business. Sounds like some evil robot out of a Grendizer episode.

    You tell me yours, and I'll tell you mine. ;-)

  15. Pascal,

    The evil robot theory sounds quite nice... I should keep that.
    Otherwise gado-gado is an indonesian dish, with mixed vegetables, fried egg, krupuk and other ingredients. It also means, by extension, a mixture of different kinds of things.

    But I already grew accustomed to this meaning. I prefer the robot.

    I think in Indonesia I bought a watch with "Rolex" written on it for... 1,5 dollars. I thought it would not work more than two days, but I needed to have a watch to look serious, so I bought it.

    It worked for two years. And then I should have probably changed the battery.

    Pascal, how do you put a counter on your blog?

  16. Neeraj,

    I do feel you are becoming crazy fighting with technology... Please, stay with us!!! :-)

    I used a yahoo account to create this blog. But actually I made a new one just for this blog, so that all the comments one gets on the mail don't fill up the personal account.

    Well, I am happy my blog is not hosted in Germany ! :-) (Hope so... :-) Thanks for the information...

    I loved this:

    Pascal: Have you looked at your boss during work lunches lately? It IS a jungle out there...

    Neeraj: Neatly observed ;-) ... I'm a freelancer - so, during work lunches I have to look at myself, and I'm sure there IS somewhere a wild beast within me.

    For pattern recognition, I remember 40% coming from inside loops, for a course on visual perception. But anyway, it is a lot!!!

    Thought, if you stumble on a reference, send it to me.

    My thesis subject... More details later.
    For now: Transmission of ritual knowledge in Bali, Indonesia. Anthropology

  17. "Otherwise gado-gado is an indonesian dish"
    Oh, much like French ratatouille, then.
    In the Foreign Legion, and probably all of the French army, the food is called "le rata", a likely slang abbreviation of "ratatouille". To suggest that no historical maven ever found out this stuff's exact recipe!
    Also, in Arabic "makhlootah" is the name of a recipe of mixed vegetables (cooked, unlike tabbooleh), that's also used to designate "stuff all mixed together". I wonder if every culture has such a "gastronaming"?...

    "It worked for two years. And then I should have probably changed the battery."
    Or bought a new one, might cost you even less than the battery. :-)

    "how do you put a counter on your blog?"
    Ah, a relevant question!
    I have Eolake to thank for it. (Which reminds me, I'm not sure I ever thunk him.) He didn't even give me advice at all. I just clicked on the link with the counter (hint: it's the one saying "Free Counter"), and found the site which offers you a wide range of free counter styles and options. Then all you have to do is copy the HTML code received at the bottom of your blog template. Or elsewhere, it doesn't matter. I know how you women love moving the furniture around. ;-)

    Oh, and a promise is a promise. Decrypting P-04 Referent then.
    If I were the author of Harry Potter, my blog would probably be called "Muggle in Beirut". P-04 is the Sigma Classification code for our here dimensional realm, in the optic of many Earths in parallel universes with more or less diverging histories... and sometimes physical laws! "Referent" simply means that "somebody", who for now will remain unnamed, has chosen me to tell his story, which happens in P-01, the first dimensional plane to be inventoried. There's a whole theory on the P-xx planes, not to mention the S-xx and I-xx planes, but it's still under construction.
    Another simplified explanation could be, that I'm having fun describing myself with the words of a fiction that I haven't even published yet.
    More like a fiction series. And a big one. :-)
    You'll love discovering the picturesque culture of YĆ¼ghuristan, the Land of Many Languages. "Somewhere in scenic Asia. Helmet not included, don't lose sight of the guide."

  18. Hi Pascal,

    I do like ratatouille, but gado-gado is fresh, not cooked, that is quite a difference. In ratatouille, all is cooked, so it kind of blends into one shapeless mixture.

    I do like to eat ratatouille, but wouldn't have named my blog that way. Gado-gado is a fresh mixture where you can clearly see the different crispy parts.

    For the counter, I tried to paste it in the html code, but didn't work...

  19. Ah, so gado-gado IS more like lebanese tabbooleh. Interesting.
    Some day I'll blog the recipe. It's a very relevant bit of Lebanese culture.

    As for inserting the counter's code, Blogger has recently changed its customization layout (and, apparently, gotten amnesiac on my humble list of followers), so it's gotten a bit more complicated. But I do believe it's still feasible.

    I suppose what you tried to do, was click on "Add a Gadget" and then the HTML/JavaScript option? That's what I would've done today too.
    When I added my own counter, I could add text + HTML directly, so I don't know about the new fancy-shmancy. It IS real annoyingly complicated now, and I can no more post animated GIFs without them being converted into static PNGs. Yo, guys, if it ain't broken, don't fix it! ):-P

    Maybe the best you can do is e-mail Blogger directly. Or, I think they have a "Blogger blog for bloggers", it's possible that the issue has already been addressed there and that with a lot of browsing you'll find an answer.
    If your connection is faster than my medieval dial-up. (20 minutes to download a 4MB YouTube video, sheesh!) Sorry I can't do more to help you.
    Bonne chance.

  20. Nuke the whales

  21. Aniko:
    I do feel you are becoming crazy fighting with technology...

    Well, it was a bit theatrical / deliberately exaggerated, so ...

    Please, stay with us!!! :-)

    ... don't worry - I will ;-)

    I was just very much wondering about all the problems I have especially with this blog software. And it's really a "webdesigners masterpiece" to produce so many CSS bugs as I have found with Opera bugtracking ... probably the software is optimized for MS Internet Explorer, and all Webdesigners I know damn this browser and its arbitrary behaviour, especially the older versions, but they have to support it, because it's still the most used one:-(

    Anyone else having similar problems like me?
    For pattern recognition, I remember 40% coming from inside loops, for a course on visual perception. But anyway, it is a lot!!!

    Thought, if you stumble on a reference, send it to me.

    I really don't remember where I have heard or read the 90%/10%-estimation, but I doubt very much all these quantitative estimations - because how to measure it, what comes from outside and what from inside? I think it's rather a rough and preliminary feeling expressed in a number ...

    fubartender - Olympic parallel fubars ...?

    Hmm, I don't know what these are, and I don't find any explanation in several dictionaries ... so right now I'm too stupid to get the joke ;-( (I suppose there is one.)

    ... a Google account which I don't like to do ... the problem for me is not to make a Google account, the problem is that I don't trust Google anymore - Google lives from collecting and combining/networking as many data as possible, and meanwhile it has nearly a monopoly ... there are so many possibilities of misuse, so that I try to avoid Google as much as possible.

    I defend my privacy as a basic right, not only in the web (which doesn't mean that I have to hide something or that I don't like to share). It's one of the basic rights in the German constitution, which was created after WW 2 in order to avoid any fascism in the future ... but recently these rights seem to be eliminated more and more, out of fear mainly about terrorism (maybe using it as excuse) or out of lust for power, or both. Or maybe out of some another selforganizing stupidity.

    Instead I use, which uses Google as searching engine, but without tracing you by means of a kind of proxy. Or I use a meta search engine like, which doesn't collect or store any data from you. And whenever I want to avoid any censorship while surfing in the net, I use a VPN tunnel like :-)

    O.k., so far for now ... good night!

    (BTW it doesn't work in Opera anymore - now I try Firefox ...;-)

  22. Thanks Pascal, well, maybe I won't count my visitors for now!

    Neeraj, so interesting, these hideaway strategies....
    Blogger is Google too. Many people move here because it just works really well. I didn't think of it as a huge data centralization, but seems to be!
    Thanks for the informations.

  23. Hello there! Thanks for your visit. I very much appreciate your mnost tasteful images, that caught my eyes instantly.

    I have a few words to say about so called "spam" and "personal messages".

    What about commercials and an mass medial adevertisement by Big Capitalk? Do you ask for this intrusion into your private sphere? I think not.

    If they really have something to offer, fine. If you have, fine.

    But I don't thinnk we should apply different standards to Big Capital and tiny tiny little man. Because if we do, this means Right = Money.

    Thank you again.

    - Yours, sincerely,
    Peter Ingestad, Sweden

  24. Thanks for your visit too, Peter! :-)

    Well, I don't think that anybody (big corporation or tiny person) has the right to intrude.

    I see a blog like a table where people can chat while having a cup or tea or coffee. If somebody comes and starts talking about himself / herself without saying hello, it is kind of rude. If one joins the conversation, or says hello, and then starts talking about himself/ herself, it is nice. I had the feeling you did the first version, but as now you wrote a nice answer, the communication is established. :-)

    Anyway, I am a beginner blogger, I may not be right in my judgments. Thanks for your comment and keep up the good work ! :-)

  25. Aniko:
    Well, I don't think that anybody (big corporation or tiny person) has the right to intrude ...

    ... which brings me right back to the basic right of privacy I've mentioned above and the possible misuse of data collectors in order to intrude it, out of very different reasons.

    I think it's not bad (at least now) to use a service like Google Blogger, but additionally to use further services frome the same hoster like Google Mail and others has already a big potential for misuse (of course a big potential for "good" use of networking is also there). Anyway, one has to be aware of possible dangers.

    Concerning VPNs (= Virtual Private Networks) I see mainly three criteria how to choose a VPN hoster:
    - encrypted SSL connection,
    - located in a land without "Vorratsdatenspeicherung" (as Monsieur Beep noticed: Germans love looong words:-),
    - trustworthy hoster respecting your privacy.

    Fulfilling this and out of my own experience I can recommend, that's why I mentioned this hoster (I know him personally having met him on a conference). BTW he offers his service in German, English and Arabic. Of course I think, there are many other VPN hoster with probably good service, too, but I don't know them.

    Generally I see as a big issue at least for the next few years: Millions of computers are out there, and there are so many users surfing in the net "with blue eyes" as if it would be all nice and safe - but the internet is a mirror of our society, and there are a lot of people with criminal energy on the way (including some politicians) ... so, one HAS to learn to navigate safely through this virtual world and to know the traps - sometimes it feels like moving in a fast growing jungle of a new unknown kind (=> learn to recognize the new patterns of the beasts there => so it's not totally OT here!).

    I try to be up to date, but there is always something new to learn, because the speed of development is very high and will IMO still accelerate. Just think a few years back and see what's new since then. (Maybe I'll start giving individual lessons about maintaining/using a PC and surfing in the net ...;-)

    Blog software:
    I think I've finally found out how to comment here using Opera or Firefox. As I have described earlier: Copy/paste my text into comment field, select profile, typing in my name, click on preview ... and all is gone and empty again, as if I had done nothing at all ... and then - tadaaaa! - I have simply to click on the browsers "Refresh site"-button, and it's all there. Strange that I have to do so, but I think it comes frome the many CSS bugs. Well, it was a nice fight:-)

  26. Today I spotted in Mom's kitchen a half of a red cabbage which displays what looks quite like a menorah with 9 branches. I'm genuinely thinking of posting it on e-bay.
    The other half has become a salad, so this is a unique piece. Hurry-hurry, people, place your bids!

  27. Dear Pascal,

    Be quick !
    You should take a picture. And, well, I don't predict anything financially overwhelming: cabbage is mostly ephemeral. It rots quite quickly.

    I advise you to choose other vegetables, next time. Or better: you should eat toast and MacDonalds fries.
    As I see now you acquired a sharp eye, I am sure you will find other divine manifestations.