Sunday, June 03, 2007


And I Thought Mice Were a Problem ...

In the course of my reading of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, I discovered that he has raised a serious problem which needs immediate empiric investigation. (Please excuse the language in the following, which I would usually not allow on my blog, but the nature of it is such that it may shed light on the empiric question and, in any case, since it comes from a self-described Christian, it's obvious that my sense of propriety is overly sensitive.)

Dawkins cites to a letter received by the Freedom from Religion Foundation:

Hello, cheese-eating scumbags. Their are way more of us Christians than you losers. Their is NO separation of church and state and you heathens will lose . . .
Then Dawkins lays out the urgent empiric question:

What is it with cheese? American friends have suggested to me a connection with the notoriously liberal state of Wisconsin - home of the FFRF and centre of the dairy industry - but surely there must be more to it than that? And how about those French 'cheese-eating surrender-monkeys'? What is the semiotic iconography of cheese?
Investigation of this matter may go a long way towards easing tensions, not only between theists and atheists, but between America and the rest of the world. If we can identify the offending cheese or cheeses and institute both an education program to reduce cheese discrimination in certain segments of society and also seek to prevent needless cheese offense on the other, we may open a new era of mutual understanding the world over. Please feel free to submit your research proposal here ... in triplicate.

And please! Think twice before you cut the cheese!

I'm constantly (well, that's a BIG exaggeration, really) surprised that I have only ever seen "Nordic cheese cutters" (osthyvel) is Sweden (see These are a wonderful invention. Instead of using a knife and getting cheese slices that are unevenly thick, this gizmo ensures constant cheese thickness. Problem is that you can only use it on certain types of cheeses. They can't be too crumbly. They can't be too soft. But boy, with the right type of cheese, they're wonderful to use.

My hypothesis: countries that tend to eat evenly sliced cheese generally have a more intelligent, happy and non-obese population.

Eat that!
I remember my family having one of those when I was a kid, though I can't remember a single instance when we used it. (Why bother when the only cheese-like stuff you bought came in individually-wrapped slices?) It must have come with a cheese board that my parents bought in a spasm of sophistication or were given as a gift.

But boy! If they can potentially make such a difference in Americans, the rest of the world might think of taking up a collection ...

By the way, is "cutting the cheese" a euphemism that has not made it outside the U.S.?
By the way, is "cutting the cheese" a euphemism that has not made it outside the U.S.?

I must admit that I'd never heard the expression until just now. Had to look up the meaning. So, according to this New Zealand resident Swede, the expression has not made it outside the US. My english wife agrees.
And people think blogging is a waste of time! See, we've both learned something new! ;-)
I think this can all be traced back to a mistranslation of ancient religious texts by early scholars. Our Lord and Saviour was really Cheesus of Nazareth. Of all religious figures from history he is truly The Big Cheese and if you don't believe in him and wind up in hell then all I can say is 'hard cheese'.
Do I really get to be the first to remind us of this classic?

Spectator I: I think it was "Blessed are the cheesemakers".
Mrs. Gregory: Aha, what's so special about the cheesemakers?
Gregory: Well, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.
Do I really get to be the first to remind us of this classic?

Well, suuuuure! If you wanna go and start quoting sacred scripture ...

Waddaya think we all are, lumberjacks?
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