March 09, 2003
Shall Moab Be A Derision? Why Not?

Tim Blair reports that the mayor of Moab, Utah, is upset because the Air Force has named its new 21,000-pound even-bigger-than-a-daisy-cutter bomb 'MOAB', for "massive ordnance air burst" bomb.

THE MAYOR OF MOAB, Utah, doesn't understand the first thing about marketing:

Mr Sakrison said: "We strongly believe that our town's name could be severely damaged by naming the bomb after Moab, thereby negating years and dollars spent in marketing and promoting our town."

Hey, Sakrison - your town is getting huge press worldwide, for free, thanks to that bomb. Apologise to the bomb!

Besides the fact that the bomb is not being named after the town, Mayor Sakrison seems to be unaware that 'Moab' and 'Moabites' already have quite a few negative connotations. The town in Utah is named after a Biblical nation, now the part of Jordan east of the southern half of the Dead Sea. Here is just a brief selection from what the Old Testament says about Moab and Moabites:

We have heard of the pride of Moab; he is very proud:
Even of his haughtiness, and his pride, and his wrath:
But his lies shall not be so.
Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab, every one shall howl.
    (Isaiah 16:6-7)

There shall be lamentation generally upon all the housetops of Moab, and in the streets thereof:
For I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure, saith the LORD.
They shall howl, saying, How is it broken down!
How hath Moab turned the back with shame!
So shall Moab be a derision and a dismaying to all them about him.
    (Jeremiah 48:38-39)

Moab shall howl over Nebo, and over Medeba:
On all their heads shall be baldness, and every beard cut off.
In their streets they shall gird themselves with sackcloth:
On the tops of their houses, and in their streets,
Every one shall howl, weeping abundantly.
    (Isaiah 15:2-3)

There are lots more unpleasant prophecies about Moab where those came from. Does Mayor Sakrison not know that? I would be surprised to see such ignorance of the Bible in small-town Utah. Or is he just pretending that the name 'Moab' had no negative connotations before the bomb came along? That may well work with most of the historically- and Biblically-illiterate younger generation, but some of us know better.

To make things worse, 'Moabit' (German for 'Moabite') was also the name of a Nazi prison. I don't know how it acquired the name, but Albrecht Haushofer wrote his 79 Moabite Sonnets there while awaiting execution.

All in all, a very large bomb is hardly the worst thing Moab, Utah has ever had associated with its name.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at March 09, 2003 04:10 PM

Ruth was a Moabitess.

Posted by: Diana on March 9, 2003 05:51 PM

I know. Perhaps I should have mentioned that. I gather from various notes and commentaries that that makes her something like the OT equivalent of the Good Samaritan: a virtuous member of an otherwise-despised group.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on March 9, 2003 05:54 PM

The only thing I want to know is whether citizens of the city of Moab call themselves "Moabites."

I truly hope they do.

Posted by: Dean Esmay on March 9, 2003 06:01 PM

Don't forget the Moabite "origin story" in the Bible. Supposedly, after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot's daughters thought that the whole world was ending and they and their father were the only people left. So they got him drunk and slept with him. Moab was the elder daughter's son. I don't think you could possibly get any more shameful Biblical association than that.

Posted by: Mac Thomason on March 9, 2003 06:50 PM

Over this past weekend I looked into the prospect of taking some CLEP examinations in order to bypass irrelevant courses.

I must say, from my research I have a whole new perspective and a freshly acquired respect for prior-deemed worthless and unproductive information.

This post reinforces such an alacrity.

Posted by: Nathan Barna on March 9, 2003 07:36 PM

Nathan Barna:

Please either (a) make an effort to communicate clearly with the average reader, or (b) go away. I don't know what CLEP stands for, and don't see why I should have to look it up. Just about every comment you have left on this site has at least one similar obscurity.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on March 9, 2003 08:00 PM

Dr. Weevil:

I am not sure how to react. I attempt to apply concepts in broadening the topic margin through the introduction of navigational cognizance with the adjacent possible, and the resistance has been unsatisfactory.

First, I am compared with Chomsky; then, I am called a blog troll; afterward, I am told that I don't have a point; and now, it is suggested that I either communicate clearly or leave.

You are a teacher.

I assumed you knew what CLEP was.

I'm sorry.

As for the other comments of mine that you find ambiguous, are you that narrow-minded that if someone doesn't acknowledge your bullshit at face-value then that person suddenly is condescending?

You're the one with "pedantry" in your page title.

Posted by: Nathan Barna on March 9, 2003 09:04 PM

If anyone is wondering, Nathan Barna is now banned from this site for adding rudeness to his customary incoherence. Not that he wasn't already rather rude, using phrases like "Disclosure Project" and "Q1 stage of gestation" without explanation and expecting us all to do a Google search to figure out what he meant.

By the way, Google tells me that CLEP stands for "College-Level Examination Program". Since I teach middle school, I seldom have to worry about the college level. Getting my kids into the right high schools suffices.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on March 9, 2003 09:31 PM

Jesus. I guess this is what happens when they teach those aliens in Area 51 a little English and then give them net access.

Posted by: David Perron on March 9, 2003 09:49 PM


Not that you could actually ban me no matter how hard you try... I will respect your unwarranted disposition, however.


Gosh, your sense of humor has got to be worth a mint! Did you come up with that all by yourself, Davey? How precious.

Posted by: Nathan Barna on March 9, 2003 10:23 PM

Any further messages from Nathan Barna will be deleted.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on March 9, 2003 10:41 PM

Aw, I found Nathan rather funny: are you sure it wasn't Prof. Irwin Corey in virtual disguise?

Yes, that's about what it was. Moab was an awful place; Naomi was renamed "Mara" because her life was so bitter there; but she picked up this pearl among women in Moab. Which goes to show....

Posted by: Diana on March 10, 2003 12:00 AM

I was looking forward to asking him what the heck he meant by `alacrity' because what I thought the word meant sure doesn't fit.

But anyway. George R. Stewart in A Concise Dictionary of American Place-Names says that Moab in Utah is ``probably from Paiute mo-hapa, `mosquito-water'.''

Posted by: Anton Sherwood on March 10, 2003 01:23 AM

Amazing that all this comes from the same guy that said "My interests and evolution are at the Q1 stage of gestation; however, I do know facts and/or ideas shouldn't be ignored and generalizations are a death sentence." As if anything other than generalization has flowed from this true source of all wisdom.

Hint: quit trying to use the big words. It's not working for you. Also dispense with the amateur psychoanalysis. Consider the possibility that we disagree with you and question you not because we're mentally ill (did you really accuse me of being schizophrenic?) or emotionally unstable, but because we have considered what little actual content you offered and concluded that you couldn't be more wrong. It's not a crime to be wrong. But you will have to suffer some ridicule if you're going to proffer up ZPE as the cure-all for energy needs.

Aside: I haven't really examined ZPE because there's just not much out there to examine. But the idea that a lot of free energy is out there for public consumption is just silly. Energy is useless. Getting work from energy; that's something that would be of interest. You can't do work with ZPE because there's no lower state for that energy to transition to.

Doc, if you're interested in ridding yourself of this pest, ask Andrea Harris what tactics might be effective. If you've got his IP, an email to the abuse address might do the trick.

Posted by: David Perron on March 10, 2003 11:36 AM

This is a comment I left at Blogblaster:

I was employed in the uranium mining industry in Hanksville, Utah and I can say with some confidence that many of the folks there would be ok with naming the bomb after their town. Thus, I propose that the DoD rename that ordnance "Hot And Nasty Kiloton Sized Vermin Incinerating Low Level Exorciser."

Posted by: brandc on March 10, 2003 11:51 AM

Oh, bring back the troll! I almost managed to work out what language it was using (I narrowed it down to an obscure dialect of Frisian) but then the doc killed it off. I wish to apply my ingratitude for his alacrity.

Posted by: Murti Bing on March 10, 2003 12:03 PM

Heard a good one on the radio...


Posted by: Laurence Simon on March 11, 2003 11:59 AM

One possibility about the town's name--it's quite possible that in the Book of Mormon, the name "Moab" is recycled and used in some much less negative way. The BoM has a lot of misused Biblical names, and a lot of fake Hebrew-sounding "Bible-y" names (like Moroni or Nehi, or, for that matter, Mormon).

Posted by: Andrew Solovay on March 11, 2003 06:37 PM

I truly do not understand what all the fuss is about. Clearly the most profound negative influence on humanity has been the practice and enforcement of religion, whichever flavor you prefer. It has caused the misery and death of countless millions and is the root cause of suffering across the world at this very moment. And for nothing more than what some schmuck said he 'believes' in. Well I believe that people who need a God in order to know how to behave themselves in the company of others are people who should not be in the company of others in the first place.
MOAB, the piece of ordnance, is innocence incarnate. It does not mince words, it does not understate its intention, it does not hide its purpose. It is a pure device. Certainly, its design is to kill but so is that of a great many other devices, many of which created by people purporting to believe in a God of love. I think there is a distinct hint of hypochrisy in any religion that requires you to confirm to its doctrine even if it means the Defenders Of The Faith will kill you to make you comply.

Now send me email telling me god is good.

Posted by: Igor on March 12, 2003 08:17 AM

The BBC story I read mentioned that the town
depends on tourism, "collapse of its mining industry".

They conveniently forget what they were mining:
uranium. Not that anyone would associate that
with bombs, or anything.

Posted by: bud on March 12, 2003 08:13 PM

This bomb helps maintain the freedom in which so many people take for granted. Support these things because men and women all over the world are supporting you.

Posted by: Joe on March 12, 2003 09:53 PM

A quick response to an earlier question: I used to live in Moab, and yes, we do call ourselves Moabites. I hadn't actually ever thought about why it was "ites" rather than "ers" or "ians," but there I have it.

Posted by: Nell on March 12, 2003 10:51 PM


Nehi = soda pop ; )

I hope this does not seem rude, though my tone may be strong to some.

"Mormon's" in Utah named cities after Bible names just like other Christians all over America and the world have for centuries.

Moab appears in the Book of Mormon once and it is a quote by Nephi from Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet honored by Nephi with suggestions like "And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. For I will liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him."

If some consider Nephi or Mormon's of today as pretenders to Christianity when they testify of Christ, consider Paul's suggestion in Philippians 1:18 - "What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."

Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of ancient prophecy whether by Isaiah, Nephi or all the prophets. I am no pretender in my declaration of Christ as Redeemer of mankind and Son of God.

Yes, God is good, Igor, despite the abuses that occur vainly in His name. God answered the patient prayers (even of Mormon's) by miraculously returning Elizabeth Smart to her faithful family yesterday even though her apparent abductor claimed to be some kind of prophet. I acknowledge God for His mercy. That witness is reaching around the globe faster than the sun. We live in a day if miracles, but we take the credit.
You know I speak the truth even though you may choose to argue against truth.

Choose to be kind even in disagreements. Read the Bible. Read the Book of Mormon. They draw our hearts to God.


Posted by: small Defender on March 13, 2003 04:13 AM

D'oh! Yes, I meant "Nephi", or "Lehi". I sorta munged the two together.

Aside from that, sorry about my tone. But still,

'"Mormons" in Utah named cities after Bible names just like other Christians all over America and the world have for centuries.'

...yeah, but it's one thing to name a town "Salem" or "Carmel"; "Moab" is something else altogether. To my mind, it's about the same difference as between naming your son "Joseph", and naming him "Pontius Pilate"...

Posted by: Andrew Solovay on March 13, 2003 07:18 PM


I agree that Moab was not the best choice in names but ...

Babylon was still chosen by New York, Nevada and Illinois.

Sodom was still chosen by New York, Connecticut, West Virginia, Ohio and Maine.

Gomorrah seems to have been avoided if my search was thorough enough.

Perhaps these cities were named by local rivals rather than the good folk that lived there.

Indeed both the names Christian and Mormon were first derisive and made popular by the early enemies of those groups.

If my tone was inappropriate, I appologize, too. No real harm done I hope.


Posted by: small Defender on March 17, 2003 10:50 PM

City names? Hell, Michigan.

Posted by: db on March 18, 2003 05:05 AM

Perronville, Michigan. Colder than Hell. MUCH colder.

Posted by: David Perron on March 19, 2003 12:10 PM