Monday, November 30, 2015

How to keep your cool in a world gone mad

We have had an early cold snap so that the lake temperature has fallen much more quickly this year than last.  This morning was a nice frosty one with a few people using scrapers on their cars and one student I saw walking to school fell on some ice.  When the mile swim was done, my coolness wasn't just some external show like most hypocrites do.  No, it was truly a cool that reached down into my core and took hold of my soul.  Winter swimming is the way to go for those who want a quality cool rather than some imitation.

During the last few swims there was a mob from #BlackCootLivesMatter.  This is a rather proud group known for walking on water, as can be seen here.  They generally stay close by me while I swim and note all of my micro-aggressions.  The other major players in the lake are the #BlackCormorantsWantToBeLeftAlone group.  Anyway, the cold seems to have dissuaded them from being in the lake just before dawn, so I no longer have the companionship that I was enjoying earlier, even if it was from groups that exclude me.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

вот украина, не россия

A friend of mine introduced me to Duolingo.com, which is a free foreign language study program.  It would have been nice to have had this a few years back.  Unfortunately the languages I want to study, such as Greek, Hebrew or Ugaritic, aren't in the system.  Russian is in the system and the Cyrillic alphabet is one that I have wanted to learn for a while, so ...

I must say of all the systems I have struggled with for learning languages, this is the most efficient.  Like Pimsleur, the language is thrown at you with no explanation, but this can easily be found now on the internet. The bigger headache with Russian is dealing with the Cyrillic keyboard.  With the Duolingo system, you must type back Russian words from memory, which is quite a challenge.  My hope is to persist for a time to see if I can develop some ability to make sense at least of the pronunciation of Russian text.

My main gripe about Duolingo is that the interface seems directed at about a 3rd grade level.  I would prefer something a little more, well, it is hard to describe.  Perhaps a heads-up display with cross hairs?  As for the type of phrases, I would prefer something more trendy, such as

"Boris, did you enter the coordinates into the missile targeting system?"
"Will Dimitri talk?"
"Yes, Dimitri will talk.  That is why we gave him the wrong information."
"They get virgins, but we get vodka."

Monday, November 16, 2015

Flat Earth Revolutions

I should put in a link to this discussion with a young theology student, Ben, who wants to defend the idea that there really was a flat earth belief in the ancient world and that it wasn't just part of the same frenzy of academic malpractice kicked off by Washington Irving's hoax.  His basic method depends on interpretations of pieces of mythology that I had previously read, but had not seemed to me to be even discussing the shape of the earth, thus, I had not listed them in my collection of works discussing the flat earth.  I will thus direct someone who might follow my list of quotes to consider Ben's list, but I will not myself list them since none of his examples associate a shape to the earth, nor can we ascertain that anyone actually believed them to be discussing the shape of the earth, nor given that assumption do we know if they had other sources of opinion, thus, at best the arguments require many leaps of faith.

My main observation here is that modernists are infinitely resourceful in claiming that the Bible doesn't mean what it plainly seems to indicate by the language, while the mythological genre, being vastly less certain of meaning than the Bible, is to the contrary something for which modernists have no problem establishing certain meaning where I would not have even tried.

Our agreement is to stick to our original positions.  Ben to the belief that flat earthism was nearly universal due to primitive ignorance of science, so that the clear association of the flat earth belief by Aristotle to only three people, all of whom were scientific atheists, is totally unremarkable and irrelevant.  Me to the belief that anyone who spent significant time outside traveling before the invention of the street light would have considered the earth to be spherical, while only these three who boasted of scientific atheism were to be documented in all of history as being flat earthers.  Their belief system passed on to the hyper-gnostic, pseudo scientific Epicureans, where it became one of the most resilient belief systems of the classical world.  This "philosophy" was warmed over by David Hume in the 18th century, and - although not specifically believing in the flat earth - is today in total control of academia with its conceit of scientific enlightenment.  And one more irony, being that David Hume warmed over Epicureanism under the title of the polar opposite belief system, Skeptics which was a similar to the Academics.  Thus, today those who are gnostic Epicureans refer to themselves as agnostics, skeptics and academics.  It is all a complete mess.

The additional side to this is that Ben is quite respectful to academia.  I on the other hand view the brain of the brilliant academic as being the Devil's playground, just as Augustine had obsered.  What does puzzle me is how he plans to square worship of atheist academia above all with a theology degree, but that isn't my problem to worry about.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

POTUS: "... innocent civilians ..."

My initial knee jerk reaction to this phrase was something like, "Ha!  He clearly is not knowing his Christian theology, since there are none who are innocent".  It can only be that we are innocent with respect to crime A, but not that we are innocent on any absolute scale, unless you are a leftwing politician.

But then my Greek language syntax class lecture just offered up Romans 3:23 -

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Which in Greek is:

"πάντες γὰρ ἥμαρτον καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ"

The verb for sin is "ἥμαρτον", which they have kindly pointed out is in the Aorist tense:

"The aorist is used here, leaving the action in some sense undefined.  However, it is an equally true statement that: "all sin" (present-customary) and "all have sinned" (perfect-past action with continuing results). Therefore, the choice of the aorist by Paul was used to emphasize one aspect or possibly to say less (or to stress the fact of humanity's sinfulness) than the present or perfect would have done.  However, any of these three tenses could have been used to describe the human condition.  an author's portrayal is thus selective at times and simply brings out the aspect that he wants to emphasize at the time rather than giving the full-orbed reality of the event."

Clearly I must have sinned since I have 90 pages of this to go through this weekend, along with the lecture and the homework.

So where are we?  Perhaps I should stop before I make too many more mistakes.

Monday, November 09, 2015

In Racism We Trust?

Periodically I make a hopeless attempt to process the apparent explosion of racism and condemnation of racism that is going on.  Part of this is just gathering data, but I can't help doing a little preliminary processing:

1. There is the recent frantic efforts to get rid of the Confederate flag as if it meant the same thing to African Americans as the Swastika did for Jews.  As a northerner who grew up in the south, I am somewhat mystified.  It wasn't my flag, but I had not viewed it as a symbol of oppression.  What is peculiar about this exercise is that the screaming is coming from the left, who don't seem to know that the Confederate flag was the flag of the Democratic party.  Isn't that a bit like the neo-NAZIs suddenly taking offense at the Swastika?  I am all for repentance and forgiveness, but this has a certain surreal character that I can't quite grasp.

2. Then there is the resignation of the president of the University of Missouri who doesn't seem to be able to bring the little racist incidents to a stop.  Now being a Christian, I certainly believe that "all men are CREATED equal", but Christian beliefs are unconstitutional, especially in a state school, so I would be reluctant to condemn a non-Christian for violating Christian teaching with his racism.  We must also note that these days every student at the school knows that every man, women, transgendered, queer, polygendered, xenogendered, ... did not EVOLVE equal" - no matter what the vice chancellor for diversity, inclusion and equity says - so maybe someone can explain to me what the secular principle is that is being violated?  In fact the students know these things because it is mandated by the government that all children be taught these things.  OK, so there is a law against racism, which we should certainly obey, but the law is in direct conflict with the teachings of the university regarding the origin of humanity/huwomanity so it will likely have no more force than marijuana laws, which are likewise in direct conflict with other university teachings.

There are more such things I could note, but will stop here.  As I said, my Christian theology compels me to examine myself periodically for any racist tendencies, even if they are merely in my thoughts, and eliminate them.  America, however, is not a Christian nation, nor do I understand the principles that it appears and/or claims to be following.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Swimmer's Itch

It is that time again.  Swimmer's Itch is due to a parasite that lives in lakes.  It is initially in snails, but then the snail releases the parasites which float towards the surface and then latch onto waterfowl, of which loons are a member of the targeted class.  The parasite then infects the bird, which eventually release more into the water which then seek out snails to infect and the process is complete.

What I have noticed is that most of the year these little critters aren't active.  Either the water is too warm or it is too cool, so I had no problem all summer.  In the fall, however, the water temperature is dropping so the month of November is when these little guys get busy again.  Water temperature now is probably in the mid-60's.  I got myself about 20 bites the last time I went swimming.  If I apply sunscreen over much of my body, the number of bites is greatly reduced.  Thus, I will probably reduce swimming for a few weeks and add the sun screen.  Each bite will be a bit like a mosquito bite in lasting two or three days and being a bit itchy.  Thankfully my body isn't reacting to them as badly as it did a few years ago, although I have by far the strongest reaction to these bites among those who swim with me.  For now, I am looking forward to the water temperature dropping to the 50's, since they will be too busy shivering to bother with biting loons.