Thursday, March 31, 2011

Judge orders no-fly zone for state of Wisconsin.

Reportedly the CIA has been sent in to help arm and organize opposition groups. President Obama gave a press conference where he said, "It is not our intention to overthrown Governor Walker. This is a humanitarian mission and it would be a violation of our values as Americans to stand aside and tolerate genocide." The US military has been authorized to use force to shoot down any right wing talk radio that is found on the air in the state. When asked about this, a spokesman for the governor's office said, "Have you been to northern Wisconsin in the Summer? We welcome a no-fly zone. Can they expand this operation to include a no-mosquito zone too?"
Confucius: Nature or Nurture? ... and why you are stubborn.

"The Master said, 'Men are close to one another by nature. They diverge as a result of repeated practice'" - Analects, XVII.2

"The Master said, 'It is only the most intelligent and the most stupid who are not susceptible to change.'" - Analects, XVII.3
Obama's Energy Independence Speech: The audacity of more of the same.

This had a good start as he mentioned supply and demand and the facts of economics. Having invoked capitalist theory to start, however, he jettisoned this framework 3 minutes into the 45 minute speech and everything became mandates, subsidies and picking & choosing technologies. There was a lot about mass transit which isn't economically viable in the US. The strategy of taking food from children and converting it to biofuel was also mentioned with Brazil being listed as an example.

What I really found ironic was that Obama said that his visit to Georgetown University was symbolic of the fact that the youth would need to be involved with this as achieving energy independence is a long term project. Georgetown doesn't have an engineering school. In fact the word "engineer" was only uttered once in the speech, while "scientist" and "physicist" were prominent. Are we going to win the future with litigation?

Beyond that, I think there are a large number of interwoven social, cultural and economic factors with the energy independence issues. As long as most of the elites think we are constitutionally obligated to lose the future in the social, cultural and economic areas, I don't see how we can think of winning the future technologically.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pondering Libya.

The figure from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations should tell us something of why certain poor countries are in an uproar. While I am generally supportive of humanitarian missions, I missed the part of the president's speech that discussed this issue.
It looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, therefore know thinking person would deem it to be a duck.

I just wanted to go on the record regarding the claim that the Biblical book, 2 Peter could not be written by Peter. One summary is here. This was inspired by a counter claim here. If I understand the arguments correctly, the book of 2 Peter is given its name because it begins with

"Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ ..."

Supposedly this proves that Simon Peter didn't write the letter. If I signed a letter with "Love, Looney", would that prove that I didn't write the letter? It wouldn't prove that I wrote it either.

There are other arguments. 2 Peter has the same themes as Jude and Jude quotes from the book of Enoch, and the book of Enoch is suspect. To be precise, however, we really don't know that Jude quotes from the book of Enoch, but rather that Jude quotes something that is also contained in the book of Enoch. There are other arguments based on the notion of "genre", but they don't make any sense to me. The real test must be something else, and this is the content.

An example starting with the book of Jude:

"For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." - Jude 1:4

Ooops! And isn't this a perfect characterization of many of today's mainline churches and seminaries? Are we going to dispute the prophecy?

And a sample from Peter:

"Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. " - 2 Peter 3:15-16

And in case you doubt the content above, consider an item from Paul:

"I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." - 1 Timothy 2:12

The argument against is that Paul's letters weren't considered scripture until the 2nd century, thus, Peter could not have written the above. That assertion, however, is undoubtedly false: Clement of Rome rants in the 1st century about the removal of the elders from office in Corinth, and the instructions on elders come from Paul's writings. Ah, but scholars have been disputing the authorship of 1 Timothy also. Now what would happen if we took the same criteria and started going through the dissertations of these scholars?

The fact is that there is no smoking gun here like a reference to Hadrian's Wall that would convincingly prove a 2nd century date for 2 Peter or Jude. Only speculation. Meanwhile, the content is entirely Christian and would undoubtedly offend any church teacher with corrupt motives, thus, it is unsurprising that the authorship would be disputed. Does that prove conclusively that Peter was the author of 2 Peter? No more than anything else can be proven in history. At some point you are going to have to place your faith in something, and I will choose to put my belief that Peter is the author. You simply can't read 2 Peter or Jude without recognizing that the authors are truly inspired by God.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Confucius: Regarding the need to use language eloquently and properly:

"The Master said, 'It is enough that the language one uses gets the point across.'" - Analects, XV.41

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Blown Away.

A movie mode would be nice to show how the trees are blowing.
















This is where I stopped and turned around heading up to Mission Peak. The top isn't too far away, but this kind of storm means that there is no chance to stand up on the summit. Instead you sort of roll cross like a tumble weed blown along in a gale.


Confucius: Returning good for evil ...

"Someone said,

'Repay an injury with a good turn'

What do you think of this saying?

The Master said, 'What, then, do you repay a good turn with? You repay an injury with straightness, but you repay a good turn with a good turn.'" - Analects, XIV.34

A footnote says that this comes from the Tao Te Ching of Laozi. I wasn't able to locate this, but it does seem like something plausible. There are several things in it that almost sounds Christian, but then there is a severe defect: Christianity has some things that appear as paradoxes, but only from an earthly perspective - not God's heavenly perspective. The Tao Te Ching praises paradoxes as an end in themselves so that A and not-A are enumerated in long lists. It is also frequently proclaimed that the way to achieve A is to pursue not-A. Confucius certainly is not of this sort, so his response to the saying probably should be taken as an attempt to make a correction.
US Department of Justice: Suing America with taxpayer funds on behalf of the Hajj?

For those who don't know, the Hajj is the pilgrimage to mecca that Muslims are encouraged to do at least once during their life time. A million or so people do this each year.

A brief synopsis of the court case our government is pursuing is here. Mona Charen fills in a number of additional details.

Checking with Dr. Wiki, the Hajj only takes 5 days.

This reminds me of the schizoid nature of our current policies which try to convert youth to the religion of Depravityism on the one hand, but then promote the exact opposite extreme religion - Islam - at the same time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Book Barn. The happiest place on earth. Maybe not the happiest, but it was a treat.

































































Sunday, March 20, 2011

80th Birthday.

This party was on Friday for my father. What should an 80 year old do to celebrate his birthday?

He had a job interview. A few months ago he was laid off from another company that was downsizing. I should also note that he has no need to work. This brings up a lot of disconcerting questions, like why I am bothering with my retirement when my father considers it a disgrace to retire. Can a good son contemplate retirement?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Confucius: Judge not ...

"The Master said, 'Do not concern yourself with matters of government unless they are the responsibility of your office.' Tzeng Tzu commented, 'The gentleman does not allow his thoughts to go beyond his office.'" - Analects, XIV.26

"Tzu-kung was given to grading people. The Master said, 'How superior Tzu is! For my part I have no time for such things.'" - XIV.29

I am surprised again with the similarity of the famous instruction from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." - Matthew 7:1-2

Looking at the two passages, they are similar in the command and intention: We should avoid judging, but in fact we must judge to some extent. Caution is required, and hopefully we will not judge beyond the obligations of our position.

The difference that jumps out is the reason for avoiding judging. Confucius says he doesn't have time. Yeah, right. Jesus explains that we will be judged as we have judged, which is quite scary.

Fast forwarding to today, I am thinking of our populist democracy where we are encouraged to make knee-jerk judgments about everything based on the flimsiest of hearsay. Can this be reconciled with either Confucius or Christianity? The other thing I wonder about is whether someone who has never attempted to make a judgment can suddenly make proper judgments when they are put into an office where such decisions are mandatory.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Gregory of Tours: The Death Penalty and double standards.

"About this time Saint Martin's church was broken into by thieves. ... King Chilperic heard of this and he ordered the malefactors to be bound and brought before him. I was afraid that these men might be put to death because of the very Saint who while he was on earth had so often begged for the life of condemned criminals: so I sent a letter to the King beseeching him not to have them executed, and saying the we, who must make the charge, proposed not to do so. He accepted what I said and spared their lives. The stolen goods had been scattered, but he had them collected together with great care and ordered them to be restored to the church." - History of the Franks, VI.10

What raises an eyebrow here is the paragraph that Gregory has decided to include next regarding Theodore the Bishop of Marseilles:

"The clergy of Marseilles plotted with Dynamius to have Theodore expelled from his diocese. When he was on his way to King Childebert, he was detained on the order of King Guntram, and the ex-Governor Jovinus with him. The clergy of Marseilles were delighted when they heard this news, for if their Bishop was apprehended, he would no doubt be sent into exile, and things had come to such a pass that he would never return to the city. They took command off the church houses, drew up an inventory of the plate, broke open the chests, pillaged the strong-rooms and made free with all church property, just as if the Bishop were already dead. They levelled a great number of criminal charges against Theodore, but, with the help of Jesus Christ, these were later proved false." - VI.11

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Confucius explains the Laffer Curve.

"Duke Ai ask Yu Juo, 'The harvest is bad, and I have not sufficient to cover expenditure. What should I do?'

Yu Juo answered, 'What about taxing the people one part in ten?'

'I do not have sufficient as it is when I tax them two parts in ten. How could I possibly tax them one part in ten?'

'When the people have sufficient, who is there to share your insufficiency? When the people have insufficient, who is there to share your sufficiency?'" - Analects, XII.9

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Confucius: The Almost Golden Rule.

"Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire." - Analects, XII.2

The Golden Rule of the Bible is almost identical, but posed as a 'do' rather than a 'do not':

"Do to others as you would have them do to you." - Luke 6:31

C.S. Lewis mentioned this, I believe in Mere Christianity. A 'do' puts more of a moral obligation on someone than a 'do not'. Context is also fun to look at now that I have both passages side by side. The next thing Confucius says is this:

"In this way you will be free from ill will whether in a state or in a noble family."

The context of the Luke passage is enemies:

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. ..."

It is an exercise for the reader to prove that the two contexts are the same. Again, however, there is a difference. Confucius promises that those who follow his rule will be "free from ill will". The Bible contains no such promise. Instead, it is guaranteed that some will hate us on account of the good:

"Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you." - 1 John 3:13

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gregory of Tours: The Pope puts his authority into effect.

I am half way through Gregory's history. This is the second mention of the Pope and the first where he actually does something:

"The people revolted against the Bishops Salonius and Sagittarius. ... They were no sooner raised to the episcopate than their new power went to their heads: with a sort of insane fury they began to disgrace themselves in peculation, physical assaults, murders, adultery and every crime in the calendar. ... The bishops met, with the aged Saint Nicetius in their number, and they heard the case. They found Salonius and Sagittarius clearly guilty of the charge laid against them, and they ordered the two to be deposed from their bishoprics as a consequence of their criminal behaviour. ... They appeared before Pope John III and put forward the plea that they had been dismissed with no reasonable cause given. ... The Pope sent a letter to King Guntram, ordering them to be restored to their former positions." - History of the Franks, V.20

After this, things continue downhill for this pair of bishops as their behavior just gets worse and worse. With stories like that, it is a wonder that the Reformation didn't start a thousand years earlier.
Gregory of Tours: Something praiseworthy.

"As I have told you in Book IV, the people chose Tiberius as Caesar, a capable man, strong in body and in mind, full of charity and dedicated to the care of the needy. He distributed among the poor much of the treasure which Justin had amassed, and the Empress frequently rebuked him for reducing the state to bankruptcy. ... 'As long as the poor receive alms and those whom we capture(!) are ransomed,' Tiberius would answer, 'our treasury will never be empty. This is the great treasure, as our Lord explained: "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not brake through nor steal"'" - History of the Franks, V.19.

The ! is due to the wording being opposite in sense to the passage. The pattern was to ransom those who were captured by the barbarians, not the other way around.
Gregory of Tours: Context when considering the Jewish expulsion.

"When Alboin went off to Italy, Lothar and Sigibert settled the Swabians and other peoples in the territory which he left vacant. In the lifetime of Sigibert the Saxons who had gone with Alboin came back again and attacked these new arrivals, for they were determined to drive them out of their own land and destroy them. ... (peace offers proposed by Swabians) ... The Saxons would not accept even this offer, for they were determined to do battle. They began to quarrel among themselves about how they should share out the women-folk and whatever else they might capture after the annihilation of the Swabians, whom they already looked upon as dead men. God in His compassion, which is the source of all justice, decided otherwise about them." - History of the Franks, V.15.

As we consider the ill-treatment of the Jews at this time, it is important to keep in mind the fact that we are talking about Germanic tribes whose custom was to emigrate en mass, attack a new area, kill all the men, grab all the beautiful women, and sell the rest into slavery or simply kill them. They then settled into the property of those they had destroyed. Christianity brought a slow, civilizing change into the picture. This was the custom of various peoples all over Europe and Asia.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gregory of Tours: The Bad and the Ugly.

"After the death of Silvester, the people of Langres once again petitioned for a bishop, and they were given Pappolus, who had been Archdeacon of Autun. I have heard it said that his behavior in Langres was extremely bad, but I will not record his evil deeds, for I do not wish to appear to be a denigrator of my fellow churchmen." - History of the Franks, V.5

Christianity is having a rough start in France. The Franks were a Germanic tribe who had been illiterate, so I am wondering how much of the issue was simply ignorance regarding Christianity mixed with enthusiasm. My impression overall is that there were more bad bishops than good ones. At this point, almost all the bishops are appointed by popular acclaim, so perhaps the bad result is what caused them to gradually relinquish this authority to the pope. In any case, it is a matter of serious lamenting for both Gregory and us is that those who are to lead Christianity often prove to be such bad examples.

Another point has a sad conflict with the Jews triggered by a Jewish convert to Christianity:

"Born again in God through the sacrament of baptism, he walked in procession in a white gown, in company with the other newly-baptized people who were similarly robed in white. As the populace was processing through the city gate, one of the Jews, no doubt put up to this by the Devil, tipped some rancid oil on the head of this new convert. The people were so infuriated by this that they wanted to stone the offender, butt the Bishop would not let them do so. On the blessed day on whcih our Lord ascended in glory into heaven after the redemption of man, while psalms were being sung and the Bishop was processing from the cathedral to one of the local churches, the crowd following him attacked the Jewish synagogue, destroyed it down to its very foundations and leveled it to the ground." - The History of the Franks, V.11.

Eventually the Jewish population was given the choice of conversion or expulsion and reportedly chose conversion. It is something to wish would not have happened, yet enthusiasm that isn't backed by maturity can cause such behavior in a variety of contexts.
Confucius vs. P.E.T.A.

"Under a black jacket, he wore lambskin; under an undyed jacket, he wore fawnskin; under a yellow jacket, he wore fox fur.

His informal fur coat was long but with a short right sleeve.

He invariably had a night robe which was half as long again as he was tall.

Their fur being thick, pelts of the fox and the badger were used as rugs." - Analects, X.6

Still trying to determine whether or not Confucius was a member of the NRA.
Confucius regarding useless blog commenters.

"The Master said, 'Hui is no help to me at all. He is pleased with everything I say.'" - Analects, XI.4

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gregory of Tours (538-594AD): Omens.

One of the main distinctions between later Christian views and earlier Pagan ones centered around omens. Bede (672-735AD) doesn't have much of this in his history of the English. Here are some sample from Gregory:

"Before the great plague which ravaged Auvergne prodigies terrified the people of that region in the same yaw. On a number of occasions there or four great shining lights appeared round the sun ..." - History of the Franks, IV.31

"In that year lightning was observed to flicker across the sky, just as we saw it before lothar's death." IV.50.
Gregory of Tours: Onward Christian Soldiers?

Gregory's History of the Franks has descriptions of military campaigns one after another complete with the horrors and consequences, yet rarely passes judgment on anything. The following note is an exception.

"Two brothers called Salonius and Sagittarius, both of them Bishops, fought in this battle. Instead of seeking protection in the heavenly Cross, they were armed with the helmet and breastplate of this secular world and, what is worse, they are said to have killed many men with their own hands." - History of the Franks, IV.42

Then there were the civil wars:

"A dispute now began between the two Kings Guntram and Sigibert. King Guntram called a council in Paris of all the bishops in his realm, to decide which of them was in the right. The two Kings, however, refused to listen to the bishops' advice and as a result of their sinful behavior this civil war grew more and more bitter." - IV.47

Things then went crazy ...

"He continued to advance with his troops and invaded the Limousin, the district of Cahors and other territories near by, all of which he ravaged and sacked. He burned the churches, stole their holy vessels, killed the clergy, emptied the monasteries of monks, raped the nuns in their convents and caused devastation everywhere. There was even more weeping in the churches at this period than there had been at the time of Diocletian's persecution." - IV.47

In the end, there is a lament from the year 574:

"The older folk listened with all their heart to the Lord's bishops and had great reverence for them; nowadays they not only do not listen, but they persecute instead. Their forefathers endowed the monasteries and churches; the sons tear them to pieces and demolish them." - IV.48

How could Christianity survive another generation?
Confucius regarding formula 1 racing:

"A man from a village in Ta Hsiang said, 'Great indeed is Confucius! He has wide learning but has not made a name for himself in any field.' The Master, on hearing of this, said, to his disciples, 'What should I make myself proficient in? In driving? Or in archery? I think I would prefer driving'" - Analects, IX.1

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Economist: Father Bagehot discusses the difference between "no faith" and "no religion". Too bad he didn't go into more detail. From what he is saying, the Anglican Church (an oxymoron?) cured him of religion - at least of a particular form - but several years of living in China cured him of disbelief and atheism.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

One Thousand and One Nights: Trying to proclaim emancipation ...

"When this is done, go down with me to the slave market and sell me as thou boughtest me to whoso will buy me with my blemish; but thou shalt not manumit me, for I have no handicraft whereby to gain my living; and this my demand is a matter of law which the doctors have laid down in the Chapter of Emancipation." - Tale of Ghanim bin Ayyub

For students of America's end of slavery, this little tidbit should be of interest. It seems that it was not permissible to free a slave unless the slave had a skill that could provide him a livelihood. Besides the talk of slavery, this story also features a trio of eunuchs.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

One Thousand and One Nights:

"Quoth Shahrazad:--It hath reached me, O auspicious King of intelligence penetrating, that there was, amongst the Kings of Bassorah, a King who loved the poor and needy and cherished his lieges, and gave of his wealth to all who believed in Mohammed (whom Allah bless and assain!), and he was even as one of the poets described him, 'A King who when hosts of the foe invade, Receives them with lance-lunge and sabre-sway; Writes his name on bosoms in thin red lines, And scatters the horsemen in wild dismay.'" - Nur Al-Din Ali and Anis Al-Jalis.

Having finished listening to Aristotle's Politics during my commute, I started listening to Categories. This gave me a quick headache so I decided to switch to something a little lighter to listen to. How about some fiction?

Checking a bit on the net, this particular translation by Burton gets some criticism for his liberties. Keeping that in mind, I will note a few things to this story. First, it is all about the super wealthy, so the underclasses don't figure much. The poor are mentioned in the above passage, but the first thing that jumps out is that the poor don't merit charity unless they are Muslims. There is much talk of slaves and the young lady Anis Al-Jalis is one of them, although one for whom a lot of money has been invested:

"Her market-value stands at ten thousand dinars, but her owner swears that this sum will not cover the cost of the chickens she hath eaten, the wine she hath drunken and the dresses of honour bestowed upon her instructor: for she hath learned calligraphy and syntax and etymology; the commentaries of the Koran; the principles of law and religion; the canons of medicine, and the calendar and the art of playing on musical instruments."

Before I execute someone, I think I should wait until tomorrow to find out about the fate of this couple.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Confucius ... struggling with humility.

"The Master said, '... When you have offended against Heaven, there is nowhere you can turn to in your prayers.'" - Analects, Book III.13

The Bible gives us something different:

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." - Psalm 51:17

or

"'This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.'" Isaiah 66:2

To which Confucius replies:

"The Master said, 'Quietly to store up knowledge in my mind, to learn without flagging, to teach without growing weary, these present me with no difficulties'" - Analects, Book VII.2

But maybe I missed something in translation ...
Aristotle: Politics Book VII ... Regarding R-rated movies, internet porn and marrying famous football players.

First, note that children are bad from birth:

"And as the body is prior in order of generation to the soul, so the irrational is prior to the rational. The proof is that anger and wishing and desire are implanted in children from their very birth, but reason and understanding are developed as they grow older."

and the core of the teaching:

"Indeed, there is nothing which the legislator should be more careful to drive away than indecency of speech; for the light utterance of shameful words leads soon to shameful actions. The young especially should never be allowed to repeat or hear anything of the sort. A freeman who is found saying or doing what is forbidden, if he be too young as yet to have the privilege of reclining at the public tables, should be disgraced and beaten, and an elder person degraded as his slavish conduct deserves. And since we do not allow improper language, clearly we should also banish pictures or speeches from the stage which are indecent. Let the rulers take care that there be no image or picture representing unseemly actions, ..."

Yes, the government is to enforce this ban on public indecency. As noted earlier, the education is to be taken over entirely by the government in the systems proposed by Plato and Aristotle, although they disagree on much else. Lest we think all this to be some perfect good, I will direct the attention towards 1 Maccabees where the Greek education came into direct conflict with Judaism.

As for marrying a professional athlete:

"The constitution of an athlete is not suited to the life of a citizen, or to health, or to the procreation of children, any more than the valetudinarian or exhausted constitution, but one which is in a mean between them. A man's constitution should be inured to labor, but not to labor which is excessive or of one sort only, such as is practiced by athletes; he should be capable of all the actions of a freeman. These remarks apply equally to both parents."

Book VIII goes into detail on the public education system including the need for gymnastics and music.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Aristotle: Politics Book VII notes.

Some notes on priests:

"Of the classes enumerated there remain only the priests, and the manner in which their office is to be regulated is obvious. No husbandman or mechanic should be appointed to it; for the Gods should receive honor from the citizens only. Now since the body of the citizen is divided into two classes, the warriors and the councillors and it is beseeming that the worship of the Gods should be duly performed, and also a rest provided in their service for those who from age have given up active life, to the old men of these two classes should be assigned the duties of the priesthood."

"But in speaking of the magistrates we must not forget another section of the citizens, viz., the priests, for whom public tables should likewise be provided in their proper place near the temples."

It is all a bit peculiar to me.

Regarding the office of elder:

"It remains therefore that both functions should be entrusted by the ideal constitution to the same persons, not, however, at the same time, but in the order prescribed by nature, who has given to young men strength and to older men wisdom. Such a distribution of duties will be expedient and also just, and is founded upon a principle of conformity to merit."

As has been noted by Plato, the end stage of Democracy goes through a stage where idolatry of equality runs amok and the young become equal to the old in wisdom. We are currently going through another one of these historical blips, where the slogan "Don't trust anyone over thirty" has been embraced quite generally by the old and young alike.

And who should qualify as a citizen:

"Now, since we are here speaking of the best form of government, i.e., that under which the state will be most happy (and happiness, as has been already said, cannot exist without virtue), it clearly follows that in the state which is best governed and possesses men who are just absolutely, and not merely relatively to the principle of the constitution, the citizens must not lead the life of mechanics or tradesmen, for such a life is ignoble, and inimical to virtue. Neither must they be husbandmen, since leisure is necessary both for the development of virtue and the performance of political duties."

I won't agree with this, but only note that the topic has been given far more consideration by Aristotle than by any one I have heard on this matter.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Saturday, March 05, 2011

More Bull for the Blog.

Confucius: Regarding journeys to Mordor.

"The Master said, 'While your parents are alive, you should not go too far afield in your travels. If you do, your whereabouts should always be known.'" - Analects, IV.19

I am sure my parents will attest that I have always obeyed this rule.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Gregory of Tours (538AD-594): How to really, really humiliate a rival king.

"... This was the reason why Clovis now attacked him in his wrath. He hemmed Chararic in by some stratagem and made him prisoner. Chararic and his son were both bound and then Clovis had their hair cut short. He ordered Chararic to be ordained as a priest and he made his son a deacon. Chararic objected to this humiliation and burst into tears." - History of the Franks, II.41.

It was a brutal age.
Aristotle: Advice on keeping the nation healthy by enforcing separation of church and state.

"Another set of officers is concerned with the maintenance of religion priests and guardians see to the preservation and repair of the temples of the Gods and to other matters of religion. One office of this sort may be enough in small places, but in larger ones there are a great many besides the priesthood; for example, superintendents of public worship, guardians of shrines, treasurers of the sacred revenues. Nearly connected with these there are also the officers appointed for the performance of the public sacrifices, except any which the law assigns to the priests; such sacrifices derive their dignity from the public hearth of the city. They are sometimes called archons, sometimes kings, and sometimes prytanes." - Politics, Book VI.

In this portion of Politics, Aristotle is enumerating the various mandatory offices of a state.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Aristotle: The Theory of Relativity ... of Justice.

"Democracy, for example, arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal. Oligarchy is based on the notion that those who are unequal in one respect are in all respects unequal; being unequal, that is, in property, they suppose themselves to be unequal absolutely. The democrats think that as they are equal they ought to be equal in all things; while the oligarchs, under the idea that they are unequal, claim too much, which is one form of inequality. All these forms of government have a kind of justice, but, tried by an absolute standard, they are faulty; and, therefore, both parties, whenever their share in the government does not accord with their preconceived ideas, stir up revolution." - Politics, Book V.

This stands out as the second sensible comment regarding justice and equality that I have heard in the last few decades outside of the Bible. The other came from Anselm with a remark that an action can simultaneously be both just and unjust.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Aristotle: Regarding Democracy.

"In our original discussion about governments we divided them into three true forms: kingly rule, aristocracy, and constitutional government, and three corresponding perversions- tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy." - Politics, Book IV.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Blasphemy Laws. If we are going to do a climb of K2, we should look at easy ways to reduce the chances of fatalities before hand.
From the Better Late Than Never Department: Libya removed from UN Human Rights Council.