Weighed in the balance

… and found wanting. A memo from the Host of Heaven to the White House.


For Urgent Delivery

FROM: The Entire Heavenly Host

TO:     Bush, Rove, Hastert & Co.

COPY: Elmer Gantry wannabees

SUBJ: Next Tuesday


Hat tips: The Prophet Daniel, Mynheer Rembrandt van Rijn

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

10 thoughts on “Weighed in the balance”

  1. I don't get it. Is the image real Hebrew or an English simulcrum that I'm not seeing? If Hebrew, what does it say?

  2. You have to read the links he tipped his hat to. The translation is:
    God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; your kingdom is given to the Medes and Persians.

  3. Let us sincerely hope. If there's one thing we've learned about God by now, though, it's that he has a perverted sense of humor.

  4. Mark, you been hangin' with John Kerry and got his foot-in-mouth disease? Do you REALLY want to have a Republican proclaim that a prominent Democratic blogger has suggested that this country should be conquered by the Iranians, the modern day descendents of the Medes and Persians?
    I know what you meant, and agree with you, but I know what HE meant to, as did anyone with sense. It didn't stop the Republican smear machine.

  5. Jim, no matter what you say you can't stop the Republican smear machine.
    It continues "as night into day"–only the other way around.

  6. True, Doretta, but you can at least try to keep from feeding it. (Why did I suddenly get a picture of the Great Architect from one of the Seventh Doctor's Adventures?)

  7. Gloria:
    When I first saw the painting, I had the same reaction you did; it looks like Hebrew, but it doesn't make any sense. To decode it, you need to read each word top down, starting from the right: מְנֵא מְנֵא, תְּקֵל וּפַרְסִין
    The words themselves (Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin) are also apparently nonsense, though Rembrandt copies them correctly from the Book of Daniel.
    Naturally, the Talmudists and Kabbalists have had a field day with this inscription:
    My inexpert belief (which may or may not reflect something an expert once told me) is that the words themselves are nonsense, which explains why Belshazzar's courtiers and scribes couldn't make any sense out of them. The obvious inference is that they are readings from some system of divination, known to Daniel but not to the Babylonians or to the Chaldeans working for them. The most likely candidate would seem to be the Urim and Thummim, which had something to do with the reflection of light from the gems on the breastplate worn by the Kohan Gadol (high priest), about which next-to-nothing is known.
    On this interpretation, Daniel acts like someone doing a Tarot reading, first calling out the symbols and then interpreting them: "eight of wands, six of swords, five of cups, the Hanged Man reversed: I'm afraid you won't be alive this time next year."
    Note that the sequence of symbols is "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Pharsin." The "U" is a connective particle meaning "and."

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