Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Knowledge itself is power.

This is where Shakespeare belongs but like the Bible, I’ve skipped over him. Between those two sources one could write a piece similar to this that would be twice as long. So I’ll content myself with a single favorite quote.

Brevity is the soul of wit.
Shakespeare 1564 - 1616


An infinite God would not have stopped at a finite universe.
Giordano Bruno D. 1600


A statement, if he actually made it, that got him burned at the stake by one of those Popes with the heavenly names. (I think it was Clement VIII, although Bruno may have been arrested by Innocent IX). Giordano is one of my heroes. I really need to do serious research into his story; I may have a significant dollop of fiction about him in my brain packets. He was one of the most intelligent men who ever lived and John Crowley, the fantasy writer, writes about him about movingly. And I have a dream like connection with this as well. It goes like this: I was working on the Washington Post crossword and I came across a series of interrelated clues. “Romain de Tirtoff’s nom de peinture, which I translated as Tirtoff’s pen name, and “ [his] genre. Well I was able to work out the genre part using the verticals and it appeared to be “art deco” and the nom was apparently “Erte” which I sort of remembered, and Chris confirmed. Then the fun began. I went to the dictionary to double check and there was no entry for Art Deco, Tirtoff, Erte, deco, or anything even close. I tried two other dictionaries including the OED; nothing. I tried two encyclopedias; nothing. I tried two Art history books; nothing. Now for the strange part:

John Crowely has written several books with the premise that the world (the universe) is not fixed, but may, in an instant change. You may awaken one morning with memories of things that no longer exist, actually never existed in the accepted history of your world or conversely, awaken with “new” memories of things you somehow don’t believe that you believed them yesterday (it’s convoluted). You may have these memories as shared “hallucinations” with a few others, but there is no way to prove or disprove their existence. In Crowely’s book, when Giordano (AH HA! I SEE!) conceives the universe to be infinite; it becomes so. As I struggled with the “Erte/art deco” disappearance, I felt that a universe change had happened to me. I can of course deal more than nicely with the “disappearance” of French words in cross word puzzles; I could also deal nicely with the disappearance of French words in general, and even with the disappearance of France, it’s people, history, products (have you ever tried to clean a Cuisanart, or heard Click and Clack talk about Renault and Peugeot?), language, and culture (really, this is way too strong; but this IS a rant). But the disappearance of the words “art deco and Erte” out of all the other words that I recall bothers me.

Then I just “googled”it. There it all was, just like it had always been there. Tirtoff and Erte and art deco… So why couldn’t I find it yesterday?

If it disappears again and this essay doesn’t exist tomorrow; I'll know that Crowely’s premise is true. Or at least that I may have awakened one more time from a dream (what happens if you awaken more or fewer times than you’ve slept?). Now, if only France would fade.....

Now are the ancient times... Not those which we account ancient by computation backward from ourselves.
Cena di Cenere 1584


I like this because of the twist of perspective. Certainly the world is older now than it was long ago. So why does now seen “new”? Which way is time really “moving”? But what of the past? I recall a fiction where a time traveler went back, and of course he was struck by the ancientness of the great trees and the untrammeled wilderness, the undammed rivers and unexplored lands. They were all so much older than the works of man; they were part of the “ancient times”. Things were newer than now but seemed old.



Such truth as opposeth no man’s profit nor pleasure is to all men welcome.
Thomas Hobbs 1588 - 1679


Now this may be something new. The spirit of rebellion is nicely separated from the passion of the mob. So called revolutionaries that rabble rouse do so among their supporters; they preach to the choir. But stand up at an unsympathetic forum and state your case. That is very hard to do. I know, I’ve chickened out myself. I recall a public hearing about bear hunting regulations where one could offer written comments and/or speak. I wrote my comments for the record but the facilitator called my name for an oral presentation of what I’d written (I suspected that he’d made the “mistake” on purpose.) And I looked around for the guy that they called on just like everybody else, wondering why he didn’t get up and speak his piece. Live to fight another day, I say (“Discretion is the better part of valor.” - Shakespeare again). I’m not going to hang a “kick me” shingle out unless it counts for something. My written comments were going into the official record, regardless as to whether I spoke them out loud or not. Screw the facilitator if he wanted me to be recognized by the 90 % majority of bear hunters in the room. And even better, spoken during his trial for treason, John Brown:

Had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends... every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.
John Brown 1800- 1859


Also by Hobbs (and I’d love to chat with Waterson about what Thomas Hobbs said that so inspired him to name his tiger Hobbs...):

No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worse of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Certainly short, probably somewhat solitary, if you consider any group less than a thousand to be small... But the rest? I believe that Hobbs is showing his adherence to the theory of “Original Stupidity”. I’ve read conflicting theories about our stoneage ancestors. It may be anti intuitive but Marvin Harris postulates that given low human population densities (less than one per square mile) hunter gatherer cultures have to “labor” less than two hours a day for their sustenance, every day, for their life times. It’s agriculture that increases population density and increases the work hours per day necessary for survival. And as civilization and technology increase so does the work day. Certainly, the average work week today supports the theory. All these labor saving devices and we work 45 to 50 hours a week to pay for them.

Am I working more hours today in order to pay someone else to do the things that I could do for myself, if only I didn’t have to work so much?
Me, 1985.


(Although I probably got the gist of this from The Whole Earth Catalog.

I think therefore I am.”
Renee Decartes 1596 - 1650


Now this may be meaningful in light of existential debates of reality. But it’s also something we took for granted both before and after the question of existence was raised. It’s one of those answers that isn’t necessary until the question is asked. Reminds me of the bureaucracy. There was always some dumb-dumb willing to ask for a “clarification” of some policy and it always resulted in the loss of any common sense, discriminating application of the rules. The “by the book” answer was always worse than what everyone had been applying, even the bosses. So even thSome people have missed out on the Anonymous Truisms: “Obtaining forgiveness is always easier than getting permission.” And “No good deed goes unpunished.” And where else should we put Murphy's Law (and corollaries) but right here:

What ever can go wrong, will go wrong.
Dropped bread lands butter side down.
The level of interest in a subject is proportional to it’s proximity to the corner of the map.
Weather channel talking heads can’t remember to stand in front of the Atlantic Ocean.


Old people like to give good advice as solace for no longer being able to provide bad examples.

Everyone complains of his memory, and no one complains of his judgment.

There is great skill in knowing how to conceal one’s skill.

Francois La Rochfoucauld 1613 - 1680

This is the inspiration for the “Columbo” program. And it really does work. Nothing puts a liar into a more dangerous position of hubris than to have him believe that he’s talking to an idiot. At DEQ we ran up against a politically powerful, millionaire businessman that believed that “we couldn’t find our own butts with both hands…” and that he could “squash us [our inspectors] like a bug”. When all was said and done, by allowing him to believe that he was right, resulted in the man using white out to cook his books for all the world to see. We gave him the confidence to be as much of a jerk as he wanted to be. He obliged. He may be a confident, politically powerful rich man, but he’s also a convicted felon (fraud through the US mail).
This is the inspiration for the “Columbo” program. And it really does work. Nothing puts a liar into a more dangerous position of hubris than to have him believe that he’s talking to an idiot. At DEQ we ran up against a politically powerful, millionaire businessman that believed that “we couldn’t find our own butts with both hands…” and that he could “squash us [our inspectors] like a bug”. When all was said and done, by allowing him to believe that he was right, resulted in the man using white out to cook his books for all the world to see. We gave him the confidence to be as much of a jerk as he wanted to be. He obliged. He may be a confident, politically powerful rich man, but he’s also a convicted felon (convicted of fraud through the US mail).

Knowledge, memory, dreams, and reality

Knowledge is power.
Francis Bacon 1561 - 1626
This is where Shakespeare belongs but like the Bible, I’ve skipped over him. Between those two sources one could write a piece similar to this that would be twice as long. So I’ll content myself with a single favorite quote.

Brevity is the soul of wit.
Shakespeare 1564 - 1616


An infinite God would not have stopped at a finite universe.
Giordano Bruno D. 1600

A statement, if he actually made it, that got him burned at the stake by one of those Popes with the heavenly names. (I think it was Clement VIII, although Bruno may have been arrested by Innocent IX. The "trial" took seven years [Bruno was of course in the slammer the whole time]). Giordano is one of my heroes. I really need to do serious research into his story; I may have a significant dollop of fiction about him in my brain packets. He was one of the most intelligent men who ever lived and John Crowley, the fantasy writer, has written about him movingly. And I have a dream-like connection with Crowley's books (The Aegypt Cycle) as well. It goes like this: I was working on the Washington Post crossword and I came across a series of interrelated clues. “Romain de Tirtoff’s nom de peinture, which I translated as Tirtoff’s pen name, and “ [his] genre. Well I was able to work out the genre part using the verticals and it appeared to be “art deco” and the nom was apparently “Erte” which I sort of remembered, and Chris confirmed. Then the fun began. I went to the dictionary to double check and there was no entry for Art Deco, Tirtoff, Erte, deco, or anything even close. I tried two other dictionaries including the OED; nothing. I tried two encyclopedias; nothing. I tried two Art history books; nothing. Now for the strange part:

John Crowely has written several books with the premise that the world (the universe) is not fixed, but may, in an instant change. You may awaken one morning with memories of things that no longer exist, actually never existed in the accepted history of your world or conversely, awaken with “new” memories of things you somehow don’t believe that you believed yesterday (it’s convoluted). You may have these memories as shared “hallucinations” with a few other people, but there is no way to prove or disprove their existence. In Crowely’s book, when Giordano (AH HA! I SEE!) conceives the universe to be infinite; it becomes so. As I struggled with the “Erte/art deco” disappearance, I felt that a universe change had happened to me. I can of course deal more than nicely with the “disappearance” of French words in cross word puzzles; I could also deal nicely with the disappearance of French words in general, and even with the disappearance of France, it’s people, history, products (have you ever tried to clean a Cuisanart, or heard Click and Clack talk about Renault and Peugeot?), language, and culture (really, that's way too strong; but it's MY rant). But the disappearance of the words “art deco and Erte” out of all the other words that I recall bothers me.

Then I just “googled”it. There it all was, just like it had always been there. Tirtoff and Erte and art deco… So why couldn’t I find it yesterday?

If it disappears again and this essay doesn’t exist tomorrow; I'll know that Crowely’s premise is true. Or at least that I may have awakened one more time from a dream (what happens if you awaken more or fewer times than you’ve slept?). Now, if only France would fade.....

Now are the ancient times... Not those which we account ancient by computation backward from ourselves.
Cena di Cenere 1584


I like this because of the twist of perspective. Certainly the world is older now than it was long ago. So why does now seen “new”? Which way is time really “moving”? But what of the past? I recall a fiction where a time traveler went back, and of course he was struck by the ancientness of the great trees and the untrammeled wilderness, the undammed rivers and unexplored lands. They were all so much older than the works of man; they were part of the “ancient times”. Things were newer than now but seemed old.


Such truth as opposeth no man’s profit nor pleasure is to all men welcome.
Thomas Hobbs 1588 - 1679


Now this may be something new. The spirit of rebellion is nicely separated from the passion of the mob. So called revolutionaries that rabble rouse do so among their supporters; they preach to the choir. But stand up at an unsympathetic forum and state your case. That is very hard to do. I know, I’ve chickened out myself. I recall a public hearing about bear hunting regulations where one could offer written comments and/or speak. I wrote my comments for the record but the facilitator called my name for an oral presentation of what I’d written (I suspected that he’d made the “mistake” on purpose.) And I looked around for the guy that they called on just like everybody else, wondering why he didn’t get up and speak his piece. Live to fight another day, I say (“Discretion is the better part of valor.” - Shakespeare again). I’m not going to hang a “kick me” shingle out unless it counts for something. My written comments were going into the official record, regardless as to whether I spoke them out loud or not. Screw the facilitator if he wanted me to be recognized by the 90 % majority of bear hunters in the room. Also by Hobbs (and I’d love to chat with Waterson about what Thomas Hobbs said that so inspired him to name the tiger Hobbs...):

No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worse of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Certainly short, probably somewhat solitary, if you consider any group less than a thousand to be small... But the rest? I believe that Hobbs is showing his adherence to the theory of “Original Stupidity”. I’ve read conflicting theories about our stoneage ancestors. It may be anti intuitive but Marvin Harris postulates that given low human population densities (less than one per square mile) hunter gatherer cultures have to “labor” less than two hours a day for their sustenance, every day, for their life times. It’s agriculture that increases population density and increases the work hours per day necessary for survival. And as civilization and technology increase so does the work day. Certainly, the average work week today supports the theory. All these labor saving devices and we work 45 to 50 hours a week to pay for them.

Am I working more hours today in order to pay someone else to do the things that I could do for myself, if only I didn’t have to work so much?
Me, 1985.


(Although I probably got the gist of this from The Whole Earth Catalog). And I quit my job in 1996 and started doing everything for myself. Of all the "professionals" that I've ever hired to do work for me in my home, I have only had one of two that did as good of a job as I would have done for myself. In house building, the nastiest (but maybe the most important) job is waterproofing the basement. Most builders will hire a high school kid who doesn't give a rat's ass about what kind of job he does to do this task. So the 3 million dollar home has a leaky basement that cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix. Or maybe can't be fixed untill after damage to valuable property has been done. That's one reason we need so much insurance. If more folks were more assiduous (or just honest enough to accept responsibility for their work) we wouldn't need half the insurance or half the lawyers.

I think therefore I am.”
Renee Decartes 1596 - 1650


Now this may be meaningful in light of existential debates of reality. But it’s also something we took for granted both before and after the question of existence was raised. It’s one of those answers that isn’t necessary until the question is asked. Reminds me of the bureaucracy. There was always some dumb-dumb willing to ask for a “clarification” of some policy and it always resulted in the loss of any common sense, discriminating application of the rules. The “by the book” answer was always worse than what everyone had been applying, even the bosses. Some people have missed out on the Anonymous Truisms: “Obtaining forgiveness is always easier than getting permission.” And “No good deed goes unpunished.” And where else should we put Murphy's Law (and corollaries) but right here:

What ever can go wrong, will go wrong.
Dropped bread lands butter side down.
The level of interest in a subject is proportional to it’s proximity to the corner of the map.
Weather channel talking heads can’t remember to stand in front of the Atlantic Ocean.


Old people like to give good advice as solace for no longer being able to provide bad examples.
Francois La Rochfoucauld 1613 - 1680
Everyone complains of his memory, and no one complains of his judgment.

There is great skill in knowing how to conceal one’s skill.


This is the inspiration for the “Columbo” program. And it really does work. Nothing puts a liar into a more dangerous position of hubris than to have him believe that he’s talking to an idiot. At DEQ we ran up against a politically powerful, millionaire businessman that believed that “we couldn’t find our own butts with both hands…” and that he could “squash us [our inspectors] like a bug”. When all was said and done, by allowing him to believe that he was right, we got to catch him using white out to cook his books for all the world to see. We gave him the confidence to be as much of a jerk as he wanted to be. He obliged. He may be a confident, politically powerful rich man, but he’s also a convicted felon (fraud through the US mail). His connections with the Governor didn't help in the end.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Moving on to adages from the 16th century

You get what you pay for.
Gabriel Biel D. 1495


I guess that this is a corollary to Publius Syrus’ “Everything is worth what someone will pay for it.” (See also my blog: Pundits) But the change in perspective really does make a difference. Publius sort of justifies collectors’ mania, while Biel admonishes us to stay away from junk (that’s my take on it).

No one is so old that he may not live another year, nor so young that he cannot die today.
Fernando de Rojas 1465 - 1538


Another corollary; Publius again, “Everyday should be passed as if it were to be our last.” But again there’s a spin to it. In a way it’s a bit more hopeful and fateful at the same time. And it doesn’t tell you how to live your days, it just reminds that you’re making choices whether you know it or not. This next one’s a surprise:

He remains a fool his whole life long who loves not women, wine, and song.
Martin Luther 1483 - 1546


Again, I know there are lots more he said while confronting the hypocrisy of the Church that I should know about. I’m sure there are some real zingers in the 49 Theses, but as far as quotes go it’s a good eyebrow raiser. Besides, I’ve had my say about Religion.

Wisdom entereth not into a malicious mind, and science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul.”
Francois Rabelais 1494 - 1553

Is this a precursor to the backlash to the renaissance/scientific/industrial revolution? I wonder when Mr. Rabelais said this? I need to get out my timeline of events, especially those scientific discoveries that so shook up liberal arts and religion. Let’s see, Copernicus published on his deathbed in 1543, so that’s a possibility; Galileo did his penance in the 1600’s; Kepler published in 1609, so they’re too late. Or maybe Francois was talking about something entirely different. When we quote folks from 400 years ago, sometimes their definitions of words were so different that we don’t get it at all. What did Rabelais think “science” was? He may have meant something completely different from what I think it is. By the way, Rabelais used the ancient “Save your breath for your porridge.” From Solon (about Hesiod). Anyway, there’s less ambiguity in the other quotes I recorded in his name:

We will take the good will for the deed.
Looking like one pea does to another.
Plain as the nose on a man’s face.

And I love this one:

And thereby hangs a tale.


While across the English Channel his contemporary, John Heywood 1497 - 1580, was using these aphorisms:

Haste maketh waste.
Look ere ye leap.
While the sun shineth make hay.
The tide tarrieth for no man.
Hold their noses to a grindstone.
Two heads are better than one.
All is well that ends well.
Beggars should not be choosers.
Rob Peter to pay Paul.
[Edward the VI appropriated funds from the lands of St. Peter to pay for repairs to the cathedral of St. Paul.]
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
A hair of the dog that bit us.
There’s no fool like an old fool.

A penny for your thoughts.
Many hands make light work.
The more the merrier.
An ill wind that blows no man good.
Hit the nail on the head.


I guess these are all clich├ęs, so they must be Internal Truisms. I suspect that Heywood was a compiler. I’ve found a few of these from earlier forms but many seem to be “new”. I believe that many are the result of the oral tradition that prevailed during all those years when literacy went into the tank. So maybe “There’s no new thing under the sun.” isn’t true after all. The 16th century was the renaissance, the end of the “Dark Ages”. Sometime during the previous 1000 years people apparently embraced some new “truisms”.

The souls of emperors and cobblers are cast in the same mold... The same reason that makes us wrangle with a neighbor causes a war betwixt princes.
Michel de Montaigne 1533 - 1592


A little folly is desirable in him that will not be guilty of stupidity.

Man is certainly mad; he cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making Gods by the dozens.

This last can be read in two lights. Humility that we can’t make a worm but God can... Or, hubris that we create the Gods. Without context I don’t know which he meant. I don’t care. I like them both.

Time out of mind.
Within a stone’s throw.
Split his sides laughing.
No limit but the sky.
All his eggs in one basket.
Too much of a good thing.
Thank you for nothing.
Fore warned; fore armed.
Honesty’s the best policy
Cervantes 1547 - 1616


These are so mater of fact, so much a part of modern speech. And there are many many more. I started Don Quixote a while back, I guess I’ll have to finish it some day. A whole bunch of people must have read it. Cervantes was an astute chronicler of the speech of his day. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I can’t find this last adage in Bartlett’s. Now that’s a surprise. Everybody’s heard it. Who said it? Or at least who wrote it down first?

Moments of wit survive the monuments of power.
Francis Bacon 1561 - 1626

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I tried not to get into the church but...

A plurality must not be asserted without necessity.
William Ockham 1300 - 1348

This is usually paraphrased as “Use the simplest explanation that suffices.” And it puts those religious debates (and the ones to come later about angels and pinheads) into nice perspective. Most folks today not only don’t understand this (especially in a debate) but they couldn’t tease the meaning out of the original form of the statement to save their hides. It has to do with that adherence to a belief in OS: Original Stupidity”, a widespread belief explained in Robert Graves’ White Goddess. In this book he does an admirable job of illustrating how pernicious the belief in “OS” is and how poorly we are served by our a priori acceptance (even subconsciously) of it. This quote is a little long but it makes the point well:


"The early Welsh and Irish historians are also generally regarded as liars because their ancient records are dated to uncomfortably early times and do not square either with conventional Biblical dates or with the obstinate theory that until Roman times the inhabitants of all the British Isles were howling savages who had no native art or literature at all and painted themselves blue. The Picts and Britons certainly tattooed themselves, as the Dacians, Thracians and Mosynoechians did, with pictorial devices. That they used woad for the purpose is a proof of advanced culture, for the extraction of blue dye from the woad-plant, which the ancient Irish also practiced, is an extremely complicated process; the blue colour perhaps sanctified them to the Goddess Anu. I do not mean that these records have not undergone a great deal of careless, pious, or dishonest editing at every stage of religious development; but at least they seem to be as trustworthy as the corresponding Greek records, and rather more trustworthy than the Hebrew - if only because ancient Ireland suffered less from wars than Greece or Palestine. To dismiss the Irish and Welsh as incoherent children has one great advantage: it frees the historian of any obligation to add Old Goidelic and Old Welsh to his multifarious other duties.

In modern civilization almost the only place where a scholar can study at ease is a University. But at a University one has to be very careful indeed not to get out of step with one's colleagues and especially not to publish any heterodox theories. Orthodox opinions are in general based on a theory of political and moral expediency, originally refined under Olympianism, which is the largest single gift of Paganism to Christianity; and not only to Christianity. Twenty years ago when I [Graves, about 1928] was Professor of English Literature at the Royal Egyptian University of Cairo, my colleague the blind Professor of Arabic Literature was imprudent enough to suggest in one of his lectures that the Koran contained certain pre-Mohammedan metrical compositions. This was blasphemy and a good excuse for his examination-flunking students to go on strike. So the Rector called him to task and he was faced with the alternatives of losing his job and recantation. He recanted. In American Universities of the Bible Belt the same sort of thing often happens: some incautious junior professor suggests that perhaps the Whale didn't actually swallow Jonah and supports his view by quoting the opinions of eminent natural historians. He leaves at the end of the University year, if not before. In England the case is not quite so bad, but bad enough. Sir James Frazer was able to keep his beautiful rooms at Trinity College, Cambridge, until his death by carefully and methodically sailing all around his dangerous subject, as if charting the coastline of a forbidden island without actually committing himself to a declaration that it existed.” - Robert Graves, The White Goddess

If you’re feeling smug about freedom of speech and the rest of the Bill of Rights in America, then I encourage you to visit the record of the Scopes Trial in Dayton Tennesee. For a humorous take on those proceedings go to:

www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scopes/menk.htm.

Then again more recently there is the text book ado in Kansas back in 2005. Apparently, things have gotten slightly better since. Most of the secondary biology teachers in Kansas have real degrees from real Universities where science isn’t vetted by religious fundamentalist. Maybe there needs to be an “*” appended to the diplomas of students from “Christian” schools (including some State schools). What we see is that this battle will never be won. It will be restarted every few years in different places over and over again. Some folks just don’t see what’s wrong with living in a Theocracy as long as it’s THEIR religion that’s in charge. They believe that the Bill of Rights are for them and everyone who agrees with them, not for THOSE people.

I include this next here again for another reason. Historians decry the general ignorance of history and the lack of historical perspective in modern culture, so even if we believe that:

Those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it.
George Santayna


Quoting this conveniently neglects to focus on the editing, censorship and downright falsification of the record that is what we call History. What little we think we know about history is only an echo of what the most powerful people wanted everybody to believe. A tremendous amount of propaganda exists, and we don’t even recognize it when we see it (try to imagine the "news" in a totalitarian state like North Korea). And the Internet is the biggest repository of bullshit that ever existed. The only good news is that most of the “editing” of its info/misinformation isn’t systematically done by the powerful with their agendas ascendant... So we go from 1348 to 1928 to 2000:

The most important tool of the future will be an active bullshit filter. Over every computer terminal should be mounted the words: data are not information, information is not knowledge, and knowledge is not wisdom.
Sherri S. Tepper

We live in an age where you can shop for “experts” that match your prejudices as easily as you order lunch. Well, choice is good, but choice among the ignorant isn’t good for much. I said that! And if you’re looking for bran flakes in the grocery aisle, it’s much harder to find them if they are mixed in with 500 different kinds of cocoa puffs all in garish boxes that tell you more about Madison Avenue than about what’s in the cereal (bells and whistles and smoke and mirrors). H. G. Wells was charitable enough to suggest that even the disputes of impossible dogma by the Trinitarians et al, served to foment debate, thought, information dissemination and educational opportunity. And it seems to be a fact that the Kansas Board of Education flap has served to energize the side of reason; they’re way ahead of Kentucky and Oklahoma. Unfortunately so much of the truth of the simple gospels was submerged that I don’t think the various “Churches” have ever recovered even a fraction of what Jesus said. I think that the Christian church started out 95% power/politics to 5% spirituality, and now it’s devolved to 99% to 1%. After all, the red letters (direct quotes of Jesus) in my Bible comprise only about 40 pages of 700 or so words each. And then the Church spin doctors stepped in... Speaking of the Church...


The Church says that the earth is flat, but I know that it is round for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the Church.
Magellan 1480 - 1521


You certainly can’t find much of Jesus Christ in the Popes that followed. I can never decide which is my favorite hypocrisy, whether it’s Paul’s position on slavery, the selling of indulgences, burning heretics (like Giordono Bruno who had the courage to suggest that God had created an infinite universe - by the way, even though the church recognizes that Giordono was absolutely correct, the cardinal that burned Bruno, Robert Bellarmine, is now a Saint - go figure), the Pope that sold the Crusading children into slavery, or a fallible Pope declaring himself to be infallible in 1870 (Pope Pius the IX, at the First Vatican Council. Was that an ironic name for this Pope? I don’t know how venial he may have been; I don’t care, I’m tired of reading about hypocrites. At the very least, unlike the present Pope, he probably didn’t canonize very many black people (strange how things change and all those people and babies in hell or limbo get moved around a few centuries too late for their families to appreciate). He has started doing this, somehow, with no comment on the policies of the last 200 Popes. It's very popular now, but very spiritual and not political at all. Just like poaching the Anglicans.... Deep breath; I’ll see if I can get more positive here...

Hard is the heart that loveth nought in May.
Chaucer 1343 - 1400


That’s better... I know that I’ve missed most of Chaucer. Our “Advanced Academic” group in high school wasn’t assigned him. In order to get to those “advanced” things we did, a certain part of the in-basket was just skipped over. This leaves me something for my old age.