Friday, January 30, 2009

Augustine regarding Calvinism vs. Arminianism.

"Now, against the sacrilegious and impious darings of reason, we assert both that God knows all things before they come to pass, and that we do by our free will whatsoever we know and feel to be done by us only because we will it." - Augustine, City of God, V.9

Just wanted to put this in so I could locate it in the index.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Some ents wandering about in the fog.
California Meltdown Watch ...

The tax refund checks are officially not in the mail now. There is also a clearer statement regarding California's official insolvency date: At the end of February is when the credit line is expected to be exhausted.

Meanwhile, the California unions are salivating over a belief that they will get $10 billion in the "Economic Stimulus" package. From my point of view, what needs to be stimulated is school reform, but this kind of spending will do the exact opposite.

Finally, the Democrats always have sex on the brain, so $335 million was put into the bill for "STD Prevention". Don't STDs stimulate medical spending?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Congressional Budget Office analysis of the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009".

I am not going to read the whole text, but it is good to get one step beyond the media and read the CBO summary. A big chunk of the program is social welfare type payouts ranging from food stamps to scholarships and unemployment benefits. There is some provision for helping states with their deficits, but this would cover about half of California's problem. About $50 billion is included to keep America's dying government education system on life support.

On the tax side, there is a provision to extend an accelerated depreciation program. Overall, the lack of constructive thinking and innovation in this program is all pervasive. One way to get business going is to dump depreciation rules altogether, but that isn't going to happen. Another innovative move would be to modify the Davis-Bacon Act, which sets minimum levels for wages on government sponsored infrastructure projects, but that would offend the unions. Action to restrain runaway litigation would also be helpful, especially for health care, but again, nothing. If socialism is the way forward, we will certainly find out.
Cursed are the cynics ...

This article discusses the flip side of "The Audacity Or Hope", which is the vilification of cynicism. In terms of worldly things, I am certainly a pathological cynic:

"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. ...

... For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect - if that were possible." - Matthew 24:6-8; 24

At this point, America's new president is pretty much signed up to work some great signs and miracles, but even if these are possible, I expect no positive outcome. Yes, I am a cynic.

On the other hand, I am a hopeless optimist:

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." - Revelation 22:1-3

Indeed, hope is how I live, because only in salvation through Jesus is their true hope. This hope, however, isn't an audacious one. It is just a simple peaceful hope, as the uncertainty and storms of the world rage about. "Come, Lord Jesus".

Monday, January 26, 2009

大餅
I had the recipe for this somewhere. Need to try making it myself. This was part of our recent feast.
California Meltdown Watch ...

Today's television news gave a few new tidbits. The city of Oakland is running a $100 million deficit. If their police department gets shut down, we could look like Gaza was about two weeks ago.

The Governator has proposed taxing golf, which is causing a furor. There were other noises about one more week before the state runs out of money. California's state controller, John Chiang (Democrat), is someone who features in all this. He overruled the governor regarding reducing salaries to state employees, even though much of the rest of California's citizens are taking cuts. Instead, tax refunds will be delayed. In other words, it is better to renege on last year's payments than to make adjustments to the current year. This is a very good move if Chiang is to run for governor in the future, because he needs the support of the state employee unions.

The last tidbit is that Obama instructed the EPA to allow California to set its own, more severe emissions standards. This basically gives the enviro-marxists a tool to bludgeon the auto industry, which presumably is badly in need of some bludgeoning at the moment.
Japan introduces an economic stimulus program: Go home, be fruitful, and multiply.

This is in contrast to Nancy Pelosi's economic stimulus program: Go home, stimulate each other, but don't multiply.

UPDATE: It looks like Obama may throwing some cold water on Pelosi's concept of a stimulus.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

This view of the Washington Mall was taken one day before the inauguration, looking down from the Washington Monument. Mission High School arranged this field trip last May, long before the election. Tickets to various attractions were also purchased far in advance. Apparently the teacher who organized it, Mrs. Benton, has become a bit of a folk hero for managing to get her kids into the Washington Monument when everyone else couldn't. We always honor those with foresight.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!

The cleaning lady decided to show her appreciation by leaving a chicken in the refrigerator. After she left, my wife opened it to see the feet and head sticking out. EEEEEK!!! Now it is my job to cut the head and feet off.
This is per the list I first saw with Rummuser:

What is your occupation? Scientific/Engineering software developer?
What color are your socks right now? Socks? What socks?
What are you listening to right now? Computer fans.
Can you drive a stick shift? Yep.
Last person you spoke to on the phone? My son.
Do you like the person who you stole this quiz from? Yes, very much.
How old are you today? A year older than the same day last year.
Favorite drink? Coffeeholic.
Favorite sport to watch? Road rage. Actually, I don't watch sports.
Pets? None. Last ones I kept were garter snakes.
Favorite foods? Curries.
What's your favorite day of the week? All of them.
How do you vent anger? I don't really get angry.
What was your favorite toy as a child? Still a child ... my bicycle.
What is your favorite season? Spring.
Hugs of kisses? Kisses. Hershies Kisses.
Cherries or Blueberries? Cherries ... baked in a fresh pie, with ice cream on the side.
Do you want your friends to do this quiz? haven't considered this.
Who is the most likely to respond? to what?
Living arrangements? me, wife, and 2 kids.
When was the last time you cried? Can't be sure ...
What is on the floor of your closet? Computer parts.
Who is the friend you have had the longest that you hope takes this quiz? Not applicable.
What did you do last night? Bible study with friends.
Favorite smells? The forest after a rain.
What inspires you? Everything.
What are you afraid of? Taiwanese rotten tofu. "Fear the Lord your God" - Deuteronomy 6:13
Favorite dog breed? I use barking Rottweilers as my cell phone ringer.
How many states have you lived in? Lost count.
Favorite holiday? The one with my family.

Friday, January 23, 2009

How to "stimulate" the economy ...

Apparently the Democrats proposal is to spend several hundred million dollars on contraceptives - giving a new and innovative meaning to the term, "economic stimulus". The attempt to merge psychology with economic theory has paid off with the development of the new field of Freudian Economic theory.

UPDATE: Nancy Pelosi has certainly "stimulated" debate by advocating birth control to "stimulate" the economy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

California Meltdown Watch: Republicans to abandon principles again, while Democrats give nothing?

Certainly the Republicans aren't a minority party for nothing. The media insists that the only way to close the $42 billion deficit is to raise taxes. The entitlement groups that aren't prepared to give a penny, however, are the public sector unions, but not a word about this in the article. A lot of companies are trying to keep jobs and survive the recession by cutting salaries and/or benefits. With a union in place, this is impossible. One other article I read noted that the people taking most of the hits will be the poorest and those with disabilities who receive state assistance.

The article mentions that the Democrats are promising future spending caps in exchange for immediate tax increases from Republicans. Some Republicans seem to be wavering. Only a fool would agree to this bargain, but similar bargains in the past have always been agreed to by a handful of Republicans, which is why the state is in such a mess. If taxes go up, however, the California exodus will probably accelerate among well paid professionals.
Zooming in to get a better look at Michelle Obama's cute outfit.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pics of the inauguration. I am glad the security folk didn't mistake the lens for a bazooka.

Obama's Bible verse:

"When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me" - 1 Corinthians 13:11

vs.

"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things." - Inauguration speech.

A wonderful verse from the world's most favorite Bible chapter - 1 Corinthians 13 which is about love. Being a Bible student, this usage strikes me as full of irony. The first portion of 1 Corinthians deals with the erroneous notion that liberty = licentiousness, which is a foundational notion of modern legal theory. The Corinthian church had taken their liberty in Christ as an excuse to engage in all kinds of sexual immorality. Obama's backers include a large portion of religious types and others who have degenerated back into this mold.

The latter part of Corinthians deals with those who misuse their god-given gifts. Certainly I have done this at times, and I suspect most have. My general feeling is that some of the worst offenders in this sin, however, are the academics of the ivory tower. God gave them a high IQ, and they use the IQ to deceive others and deny God. Obama also talked about "restoring science to its rightful place", which translated into English means putting those who proudly abuse their intellectual gifts in charge. The arsonists will be in charge of the fire department.

Once these errors are dealt with, the Apostle Paul then explains about love in 1 Corinthians 13. Most of us are quite happy to skip the 12 earlier chapters and get on with the loving.

As for putting childish ways behind, well, we shall see where Obama leads.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Inaugural Festivities Reaction:

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." - 1 Timothy 2:1-6

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hosanna in the Highest!

Tomorrow America crowns her new Messiah, based on the enthusiasm of the polls. There are a few nay sayers who think we are crowning a banana republic leader in the mold of Chavez in Venezuela or Ortega in Nicaragua. I have a suspicion that something in between will be the result, or something totally unexpected.

The main thing I observe is that the high-brow economic theories of the ultra-genius ivy league schools are continuing to run the show. They have rationalized endlessly so that we are pretty much back to a semi-Marxist notion that the most important part of the economy is the government, and the private sector is optional. After all, entrepreneurs frequently don't even have a college degree (Bill Gates?), so it is inconceivable that they could provide a path forward in this economy. As for those who complain that the current recession was the result of ivy league / government meddling, what do they know? They aren't even qualified to express an opinion, much less debate the issues. With that sarcasm out of the way, I am leaning more towards the banana republic model being the future for America, but there will be plenty of surprises on the way.

Update: I ran across this at Targuman.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Augustine, regarding allegorical interpretations of Genesis.

"On this account some allegorize all that concerns Paradise itself, where the first men, the parents of the human race, are, according to the truth of holy Scripture, recorded to have been; and they understand all its trees and fruit-bearing plants as virtues and habits of life, as if they had no existence in the external world, but were only so spoken of or related for the sake of spiritual meanings. As if there could not be a real terrestrial Paradise! ... (Augustine lists a number of interpretations which he doesn't have a problem with, but without asserting their truth) ... These and similar allegorical interpretations may be suitably put upon Paradise without giving offence to any one, while yet we believe the strict truth of the history, confirmed by its circumstantial narrative of facts." Augustine, City of God, XIII.21

Paradise here means the Garden of Eden. I have commented elsewhere on Philo's allegorical interpretations from 3 centuries earlier than Augustine. The translator, Marcus Dods, include this footnote regarding allegorical interpretations and Genesis:

"Those who wish to pursue this subject will find a pretty full collection of opinions in the learned commentary on Genesis by the Jesuit Pererius. Philo was, of course, the leading culprit, but Ambrose and other Church fathers went nearly as far. Augustine condmns the Seleucians for this among other heresies, that they denied a visible Paradise. - De Haeres, 59"

This Pererius appears to be Benedict Pererius from the 16th century.

In the passage of Augustine, he asserts both his knowledge of allegorical interpretations but not only affirms a historical interpretation, but a supremecy to the historical interpretation. As is clear from the footnote, this subject has been rehashed more than once over the last two thousand years. John Walton's more recent book linking the Garden of Eden to Ancient Mesopotania has resulted in one more rehash of the same topic. Certainly it is a bit different to have the allegorical link carved in stone and unknown to the early church fathers, but this really doesn't change anything. The book of Genesis already asserts that the story was known to prehistoric Mesopotania. That they would take the story, use it in temple design, and assign conflicting allegorical interpretations is in no way conflicting with what Augustine has already written.
A view from Petroglyph National Monument looking over Albuquerque towards Sandia Peak.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Augustine regarding the intellectuals ...

"So that, by following the straight path of sound doctrine, we escape, I know not what circuitous paths, discovered by deceiving and deceived sages. ..."

"... And that too which follows, is, I think, appropriate enough: 'The wicked walk in a circle;' not because their life is to recur by means of these circles which these philosophers imagine, but because the path in which their false doctrine now runs is circuitous." - Augustine, City of God, XII.13

The notion of sages (intellectuals, professors) both deceiving and being deceived is one that was passed to me by my father, who was also an intellectual and a professor. And so it goes with false doctrine, perpetually being packaged as fresh, new and true, when it is a rehash of earlier errors. When it isn't being pedaled as new, false doctrine claims to be the wisdom of the ancients, but then after a brief painful period, it too will be discarded for the same reason that the ancients discarded it.
Augustine regarding the long age notions ...

"As to those who are always asking why man ws not created during these countless ages of the infinitely extended past, and came into being so lately that, according to Scripture, less than 6000 years have elapsed since he began to be, I would reply to them regarding the creation of man, just as I replied regarding the origin of the world to those who will not believe that it is not eternal, but had a beginning, which even Plato himself most plainly declares, though some think his statement was not consistent with his real opinion. If it offends them that the time that has elapsed since the creation of man is so short, and his years so few according to our authorities, let them take this into consideration, that nothing that has a limit is long, and that all the ages to time being finite, are very little, or indeed nothing at all, when compared to the interminable eternity. ... " Augustine, City of God, XII.12

This discussion continues for a long while, as well as considering other notions from the Greeks. The Epicureans were the main source of the long ages and infinite worlds notion, along with the idea that life spontaneously arose through the random motion of atoms. Any student of Christian theology over the last two millenia would be familiar with those views, which is a primary reason for my accusation of mendacity against modern academia. When Darwin and the old earthers constructed their metanarrative and credited science without referencing the ancient Greeks, it was a bold stroke of total dishonesty. Academics had already given themselves over to the pre-Christian pagan beliefs, and nothing would have been accepted as science unless it confirmed those pagan views and contradicted the Bible.

Friday, January 16, 2009

California meltdown watch continued ...

The plan is to start delaying payments of $3.7 billion by 30 days. The impasse continues between Democrats who want more taxes and Republicans who want less spending. Fortunately the Republicans have held firm - for a change - so that things are heading for a catastrophe. Of course the steady march to collectivism and all encompassing government might come to a sudden halt, which would certainly be worth the catastrophe.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Divine Performing Arts presentation of Chinese dance ...

My wife went with a friend to see this in Cupertino. For Westerners, it is certainly a visual treat to see a professional Chinese dance company, but my Chinese consultants ranked this as a B or B+. What was missing from the advertisements is that this is basically a proselytizing campaign for Falun Gong. Certainly I can't protest about shows involving some proselytizing, but people should be up front about what they are inviting you to see, especially when there is a $50 per person ticket. Apparently a number of people expressed there annoyance by leaving during the intermission, so that the theater was considerably less full for the second half.

For those who don't know, Falun Gong is a Buddhist / new age / meditation chop suey that has become a rapidly expanding religion. According to the Wikipedia link, it was started in 1992 in mainland China. Based on our experiences working with Falun Gong colleagues, the adherents believe that medical ailments can be healed through their meditation practices and they believe that they never need to see a doctor. As a practical matter, placebos have a 30% effectiveness rate, so undoubtedly there is a tangible benefit to this religion in the absence of medical care - or in the US where medical care is increasingly unaffordable. A more interestinng problem is dealing with Falun Gong followers who do have medical insurance and are afflicted with a treatable ailment, such as a toothache. Sometimes a bit of gentle coercion is needed to get them into some treatment, but they certainly appreciate the help, even if they are precluded from admitting that it was effective.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Augustine regarding scientific dating methods ...

"They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed. And, not to spend many words in exposing the baselessness of these documents, in which so many thousands of years are accounted for, nor in proving that their authorities are totally inadequate, let me cite only that letter which Alexander the Great wrote to his mother Olympias, giving her the narrative he had from an Egyptian priest, which he had extracted from their sacred archives, and which gave an account of kingdoms mentioned also by the Greek historians. In this letter of Alexander's a term of upwards of 5000 years is assigned to the kingdom of Assyria; which in the Greek history only 1300 years are reckoned from the reign of Bel himself, whom both Greek and Egyptian agree in counting the first king of Assyria. Then to the empire of the Persians and Macedonians this Egyptian assigned more than 8000 years, counting to the time of Alexander, to whom he was speaking; while among the Greeks, 485 years are assigned to the Macedonians down to the death of Alexander, and to the Persians 233 years, reckoning to the termination of his conquests. Thus, these give a much smaller number of years than the Egyptians; and indeed, though multiplied three time, the Greek chronology would still be shorter. ... Further, if this letter of Alexander, which has become so famous, differs widely in the matter of chronology from the probable credible account, how much less can we believe these documents which, though full of fabulous and fictitious antiquities, they would fain oppose to the authority of our well-known and divine books, which predicted that the whole world would believe them, and which the whole world accordingly has believed; which proved, too, that it had truly narrated past events by its prediction of future events, which have so exactly come to pass!" - Augustine, City of God, XII.10.

This reminds me of my trip up the Bristle Cone Pine forest to look at the exhibit of radioactive decay calibrations using tree rings from ancient logs. The decay curve on display had multiple peaks and valleys, along with explanations about why things weren’t nearly as simple as just lining up tree rings from ancient trees: Local disease, changing conditions, … The only sensible conclusion is that carbon dating is a bunch of hooey when dating before about 2,000BC. Since Augustine’s time, no continuous history before 3,000BC can be verified through the history of a civilization, but I suppose people are free to stamp whatever date they want onto an archeological site without a written history.

Anyway, there is much, much more regarding Augustine, the six days of creation, and the erroneous notion that there is safety in numbers when peers review each other and agree on truth.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

'One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the Lord, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."

Then the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Looney? He is a bit screwy and messed up, but usually fears God and sometimes tries to do what is right."

"Does Looney fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his cars run and his computers connect throughout the LAN. But stretch forth your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.' ... - The Gospel according to Looney, stolen from Job 1:6-11

This is certainly a fictitious conversation, but sometimes I wonder if some variation hasn't occurred in Heaven. Would I stand up to such a test as Job did? Or perhaps I would be as compromising as always. What is true is that the Lord has blessed me beyond reason, and for this I will give thanks. Should it all be taken away, I will still give thanks because I was able to enjoy it for a while. May the name of the Lord be praised.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Augustine regarding literal interpretation - per Bunc's earlier note:

"I should seem tedious were I to recount all the ancient miracles, which were wrought in attestation of God's promises which He made to Abraham thousands of years ago, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. For who can but marvel that Abraham's barren wife should have given birth to a son at an age when not even a prolific woman could bear children; or, again, that when Abraham sacrificed, a flame from heaven should have run between the divided parts; ... and that his nephew Lot should have been rescued from Sodom by the angels as the fire was just descending, while his wife, who looked back as she went, and was immediately turned into salt, stood as a sacred beacon warning us that no one who is being saved should long for what he is leaving? ..." - Augustine, City of God, X.8

This continues on for awhile, but it is clear that Augustine takes the miracles at face value, while also noting the symbolic meaning as in the case of Lot's wife. What we see here isn't any different from most conservative evangelical views today.

"As for those miracles which history ascribes to the gods of the heathen - I do not refer to those prodigies which at intervals happen from some unknown physical causes, and which are arranged and appointed by Divine Providence, such as monstrous births, and unusual meteorological phenomena, whether startling only, or also injurious, ... but I refer to these prodigies which manifestly enough are wrought by their (demons) power and force, as , that the household gods which Aeneas carried from Troy in his flight moved from place to place; ..." Augustine, City of God, X.16

This distinguishes Augustine a bit in that he accepts the stories of miracles from the non-Christians also, although sometimes attributing them to natural phenomena which have been mistaken. Overall, we see that Augustine's viewpoint was considerably less superstitious than the pagans, while not denying miracles and literal interpretation at the same time. This outlook seems to me to be essentially identical with that of the modern fundamentalist or conservative evangelical hightech researcher.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Coleman (Republican) vs. Franken (Democrat) for Minnesota's senate seat ...

During the November election, Coleman original won by about a thousand votes, but this lead dwindled to 215 votes by the time the results were finalized due to discoveries in Democrat majority precincts. After a lot of legal haggling, the recount produced a result with Franken up by 225 votes. Fair and square right? You wouldn't know this from the news article, but the political talk shows indicated that there are now 25 precincts where the number of votes cast exceeds the number of registered voters. It was implied, but not stated clearly, that all of the anomalous precints were Democrat ones. Combine that with the fact that Democrats generally vote in lower percentages than Republicans, and you can get the picture. One speculation is that batches of ballots were run through counting machines more than once. Another is that copies of disputed ballots were made, but not marked "copy". The recount process doesn't check for these, but the legal challenge can go through in more detail. Certainly this isn't good for American Democracy.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Augustine endorses the Lemurs?

"He (Apuleius) says, indeed, that the souls of men are demons, and that men become Lares if they are good, Lemures or Larvae if they are bad, and Manes if it is uncertain whether they deserve well or ill. Who does not see at a glance that this is a mere whirpool sucking men to moral destruction? ..." - Augustine, City of God, IX.11

Not sure what to make of all of this. Perhaps Livingsword can clarify ...
Augustine regarding pagan worship styles:

"Wherefore if with temple, priest, and sacrifice which are due to the true God, any element of the world be worshiped, or any created spirit, even though not impure and evil, that worship is still evil, not because the things are evil by which the worship is performed, but because those things ought only to be used in the worship of Him to whom alone such worship and service are due. But if any one insist that he worships the one true God - that is, the Creator of every soul and of every body - with stupid and monstrous idols, with human victims, with putting a wreath on the male organ, with the wages of unchastity, with the cutting of limbs, with emasculation, with the consecration of effeminates, with impure and obscene plays, ... It is, indeed, manifest how these pagans worship - that is, how shamefully and criminally they worship; but their history testified that those same confessedly based and foul rites were rendered in obedience to the demands of the gods, who exacted them with terrible severity." - Augustine, City of God, VII.27.

In this translation, "effeminates" means homosexuals. Augustine returns to the theme of pagan worship many times, and explains that the reason pagan worship had been forbidden was the vile practices which they performed, especially immoral sex acts and castration. Needless to say, this isn't the story that I learned in school.

If Augustine were to somehow provide us a critique of today's practices, he would certainly note that whereas in his day pagan deities were invoked to compel the most shameful and irrational practices, today we invoke "reason" to promote similar or even greater levels of depravity. In Roman times, gay parades would be done to celebrate a deity who had various adulterous and GLBT relations, along with incest and bestiality. Today, we have publicly endorsed gay pride events. This article mentions "consecration of effiminates". Today, we have "gay marriage". What was once "human victims" is now abortion. what was once "impure and obscene plays" is now government mandated access to pornography.

Having noted this, I still haven't run across anything that would correspond to the modernist "just war theory" that has been attributed to Augustine, although there was considerable discussion of war in the first few books of The City Of God. What doesn't surprise me, however, is that the modernists theologians would credit their moral theories of war to Augustine, while completely ignoring what Augustine has to say about "effiminates" and the religious practices of the pagans.
Mission San Jose High School in the news again.

A school with multiple students getting a 2400 on the SAT every year is clearly a sign of a mental disorder. Drugs, gangs and violence, which are missing at MSJHS, are viewed as the normal and healthy alternative. Certainly there are a lot of family problems and stressed out students, but I don't think the government is the solution.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

This picture is from the little village of Chimayo. There are several of these in New Mexico that seem to invite visitors back to an earlier time of peace, quiet, sleepy dogs and Clint Eastwood. It just isn't right to drive in, poke around for a few minutes, snap some pictures and leave. Sadly time won't wait and we must move on. We must continue following the High Road to Taos.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Looking down into the Rio Grande Gorge.
Rent Subsidy Programs and the city of Antioch.

Yes, Antioch is again the site of a crusade, but this one is in California. Antioch was a quiet, middle class suburb of the Bay Area. The US government apparently decided that it would be beneficial to society to resettle some of the urban poor families into this little enclave using tax payer monies to pay rents. Correlated with this is a big increase in the crime and culture conflicts as noisy parties intrude on the sleep of those who need to get up and work in the morning. With the Bay Area's dwindling police resources, the only way to effectively target crime is to direct police towards the most likely sources, which means a disproportionate emphasis on those who recently arrived and don't share the same cultural values. Unfortunately for those who love peace and quiet, the police have focused their attentions on those who are mostly black and/or poor, hence, the city is being sued for racial discrimination and various other crimes against humanity for trying to preserve civilization.

My local Bay Area suburb of Fremont has had similar increases which was the subject of our recent elections. This does leave me wondering how many subsidized renters there are in Fremont.

The dilemma thus remains: On the one hand, we would like to help the poor and protect them from crime. On the other hand, we don't want to continue forcing American civilization down to a lowest common denominator in the name of helping the poor and preserving rights.
Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino.

Curiosity finally got the best of me and I had to take the gang to visit an Indian Casino. This is one of the biggest in Northern New Mexico and is on the Pojoaque Indian Reservation next to where we were staying at Rancho Jacona. In terms of size, it can't be compared to the Las Vegas monsters and would be more like a small one for Reno. There were two restaurants, one of which was beyond my pay scale for evaluating. Then there was a "Heritage Center" which we went looking for, walked through, and were still looking for!

The first thing I noted was that the Pojoaque tribe was a pueblo based, farming one in this high desert / mountain area. Buffalo, however, are primarily known for being in the plains and chased by nomadic Indians. Something wasn't computing before I even got past the sign.

In the tradition of Herodotus, I am fascinated with different cultures and like to learn something about them. The Indian Casino certainly isn't the place for this. Unfortunately, I am still not sure where one would learn about Indian culture. Even at the Taos Pueblo, most of what was for sale seemed to have been brought in from elsewhere. Cheap Mexican imports flood the stores, along with some Indian ones - from India.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Augustine regarding January.

"Who, then, is Janus, with whom Varro commences? He is the world. Certainly a very brief and unambiguous reply. Why, then, do they say that the beginnings of things pertain to him, but the ends to another whom they call Terminus? For they say that two months have been dedicated to these two gods, with reference to beginnings and ends - January to Janus, and February to Terminus - over and above those ten months which commence with March and end with December. ..." Augustine, City of God, VII.7

I wasn't aware that January was named after a Roman God, Janus, which was a god of beginnings. February is linked to another God, Terminus, but the link is a bit more complex than January-Janus. In this section of The City Of God, Augustine is discussing Janus who is supposed to be one of the greatest of Roman gods. Janus is both the world and the god of beginnings because all things come from the world in the Roman view. After reading many Roman historians, I felt I had a passable background on the beginning of this book, but moving into the middle portions was overwhelming with all the references to Roman and Greek religious and philosophical traditions. It seems that one could spend a life time studying Augustine's writings.

Regarding the above Roman notion of one god for beginnings, Janus, and one god for endings, Terminus, it does shed a different light on how a certain passage in the Bible would have been received: "'Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." - Revelation 22:12-13. This verse is with regard to Jesus. Janus was believed to control beginnings but Jesus is the beginning in Revelation.
Welcome to Rancho Jacona. My kids chose a farm half way between Santa Fe and Los Alamos to hang out for the few days of our holiday. I highly recommend this. We were able to cook our own food half the time and not go through the usual divisive and traumatic experience of selecting a restaurant. The staff was friendly, the eggs were fresh, and it was a peaceful place to enjoy the holidays.