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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

An answer and Sunday soap box

David McMahon has asked his readers to answer another question. I'm always interested in new topics to write about so I don't go on and on again about golf.
The question is: What's the most important thing you've ever lost

I lost my pitching wedge a couple of years ago and it has been really hard to find one I like. (Just kidding)

The one thing I lost and have never truly regained is my joy of teaching. Yes this year I could have retired and kept teaching mainly because it's nice to teach because I want to instead of have to, but for the last ten years the real joy of teaching has been lost. Maybe it was just my naiveté. It is the reason I switched schools over that summer.
One of the classes I was teaching that year was Social Psychology. I loved teaching this class. First it's a fascinating subject for both teacher and students, second it's an elective which lets you teach students that want to be there instead of have to be there (uhmm, sound familiar?) 
It was also the year of Columbine. Naturally this was the one class where we discussed the tragedy in detail. I repeatedly told all my students that after an incident like this not to do anything stupid because when something like this happens people in authority are going to overreact. Since when do students ever listen to their teachers?
There was a student in my class who had finished his finals and the day of the Senior assembly did something stupid a senior prank that resulted in the school being evacuated and all of us standing in a soccer field for two hours with news helicopters flying overhead. Two days later I was asked to sit in on a disciplinary hearing. I can't go into many details, but the administration told the student's mother, (btw student already had an academic scholarship, and was one of the top 5 students in grade point average); that he would not graduate and should take the GED.
To this day I feel the discipline that should have been meted out was not allowing him to walk the line at graduation. Students who are caught with guns and knives, who are the most ruthless sociopaths you'll ever encounter, that would kill you without blinking an eye have sat in my classes, and federal regulations won't allow the school to expel them because they are in Special Education. When I was teaching at a middle school a student set off a bottle rocket in the hall during passing period that fortunately didn't hit anyone, but could have severely injured someone if it had, wasn't even given a suspension.
I walked back to my room after the hearing wondering, "What the hell am I doing here?"
The student most likely took the GED, went on to college and it is all behind him, just a reminder perhaps of when he was younger and dumber. It still haunts me that I had to sit there and could say and do nothing when I wanted to ask that mother why she was at the meeting without an attorney, and give a royal piece of my mind to that administrator, but I knew the decision wasn't hers. The Superintendent issued this decision and the administrator was just as much window dressing as me. I still wonder why severe discipline is only for the regular kids and you can't do anything to the ones that really act up. I don't have to wonder why so many parents would rather home school or bankrupt themselves to put their kids into a private school.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fancy Dinner

Last June the church had a golf tournament and there were door prizes. I won a gift certificate to an upscale restaurant. I spent most of the rest of the summer out of town and the envelope with the gift certificate got buried under other papers. Doing taxes low and behold there's this gift certificate, and no expiration date, so today I made reservations. 
Grinnygranny and I just got back from our fancy dinner. Tonight was the first time I've had a waitperson get miffed right off the bat. When she asked for our drink order we passed on a $20 glass of wine (which I can't gag down anyway) and had water. She had her nose out of joint from then on. 
We ordered free range chicken, now I'm not a total clod. I've read how everyone raves about how much better free range is over the poor miserable birds they raise in factory farms. I'm sorry, chicken tastes like chicken. There is a real difference between eggs from chickens that are free range and the egg factory ones. Free Range egg yolks are nearly orange compared to the pale yellow you get in the store and have much more flavor. (We used to have neighbors with chickens when I was in elementary school and Mom would buy a dozen eggs from them every week.)
Anyway, the waitperson was apalled. We didn't order an appetizer or salad. There was a table of other diners (we recognized a couple of local Tee Vee anchor people) that did order salads. I'm sorry a small pile of raw spinach with salad dressing was not worth the price on the menu. The chicken did come on a mound of mashed potatoes and what they referred to as succotash. Which was yellow corn, bell peppers, carrots, and zucchini. Hey three food groups in one dish, who needs a salad? We ordered one dessert. I was even nice and tipped 20% as the bill was almost exactly the amount of the certificate, and overall for the price of the tip it was a decent meal. 
Well, we now know how the upper crust of the city dine. I guess if you're really into wine it's a nice place, and the food was good. It would have been better without the attitude. I get more than enough of that from my students I don't need to pay for it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Enjoying the time off

Had another pleasant round of golf yesterday, hope the weather stays this nice all week.
Bought a fancy stereo that records vinyl LP's and 45's on CD's. Starting to do lots of recording the few months -- it's going to take time to record the treasure trove that's been gathering dust for years.

 The first album I recorded was Art Garfunkel's Watermark. It's not available anywhere on CD or to download, and it has always been one of my favorite albums. It will be nice to listen to it again in the car or elsewhere.
The two record set 4 Seasons Story has been on its side in the entertainment center for so long that one edge was flattened. Two songs can't be recorded, one of them is Dawn, which is a shame, but the other 26 songs are coming out nice.
Grinnygranny should enjoy recording all her Elvis, and Barbra Streisand albums. She has around 50+ of Elvis that she hasn't listened to in some time as well as all her Partridge Family ones. Does this date us?
Way back when, we thought LP's were long playing, but when you have to stay close to the recorder to stop it and flip to the other side it's amazing how short they seem today, when you can record you computer or stereo to play for hours and even days at a time. It will record as one track for each side, if you want to have each song on a separate track you have to hit a split track button during the space between songs. Makes it kind of hard to multi-task.

I can answer the question everyone has about why old men have their pant tops practically up to their armpits. I just bought a nice jogging suit (on sale for a song) but the @#$%# pant legs are so long that if I don't want to trip I have to fold them up or pull the top up to my chin. Not everyone plays in the NBA!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday Soapbox

David McMahan at the Author blog asked this question and requested his viewers to answer it.

The Question: How deep is your faith?

I have a strong faith. Right now I'm not all the thrilled with organized religion. To me a belief system should be intensely personal, not public. If you don't cram your system of faith down my throat I won't cram mine down yours. The blessings of living under the First Amendment's freedom of religion, and following the Golden Rule.
I grew up in Southern Baptist Churches, was Saved, Baptized and surrendered to full time service, graduated from a Southern Baptist University, and attended one year of Seminary. I've preached, led music, taught Sunday School, and been a royal pain in the ass to all my Sunday School teachers. Grinnygranny has worked for the state convention longer than I've been teaching. You would think that I would be more attuned to organized religion than my opening statement indicates, but starting with my divorce and being relegated to second class citizen status in the SBC I've noticed a huge disconnect between what the Bible teaches and the doctrines and dictates of those who speak in God's name particularly at the national level. 
The reason I still attend church is that in order to maintain and keep a personal faith there also has to be a communal sharing, caring and reinforcement of faith. I can't stand the music services since they have become mind numbing brainwashing on the Divine Right of Kings (it seems only Republican Presidents merit this allegorical distinction ), and I've had to bite my tongue most of the time the teacher or other members of the class bring up THE SECOND COMING. Only once in the last few years have I had a belly full of this clap trap and gave the poor teacher both barrels. He didn't know what hit him and it wasn't long before there was a new teacher. I've taken it much easier on the new guy, but he hasn't tried to bring up the Rapture and Tribulation while covering Christ's birth. There's not too many amillennialists left in the SBC. The Chosen Frozen Fundamentalists that have raped and pillaged the Seminaries and National Institutions the past thirty years have seen to that.
So I endure the music, overlook the childishness of interpreting literally books purposefully written symbolically (Daniel and Revelations), because Church is more than splitting theological hairs and listening to the preacher's sermon. It is the sharing and caring and support of those who meet together. When we go I lay aside the fact I'm a Democrat, gap theorist, and amillennialist, and meet as just a fellow believer who empathizes with those who are facing family illness and other problems and rejoice with those who are experiencing a time of God's blessing; just as they do the same for us.
It was a loving and wise pastor who helped put the pieces of my broken life together after my divorce, and such a pleasure when he performed the ceremony that united Grinnygranny and I together nearly thirty years ago. It was the church that helped reinforce the concept of right and wrong in our children as they were growing up. It was the empathy and prayers of our Sunday School class that have helped the last few years as Grinnygranny lost her father and I lost mine, as Penni has been fighting with her illness, and Mom would have had a much rougher time out there in Texas if it weren't for a Methodist Church helping her get to doctor's appointments, doing an estate sale next month so she can move back here, and a million other acts of kindness they have showered on her. Lest you get the impression we only go to church for what it can give, there is also the pleasure of doing acts of kindness for others over the years too. Praying with fellow classmates, taking food to those who lost loved ones, and other things we have done. It's a give/receive relationship that makes for a strong bond.
I'm reminded of a remark made by the teacher/professor who had the greatest impact on my life. The late Dr. J Iviloy Bishop in my Old Testament history class. "Belief in God gets you to Heaven, but you can only serve God by serving others." When the church serves the needs of its members it does God's work, when it acts as a police department enforcing moral or political conformity people tune it out and start thinking it has become obsolete. 

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Break

So far I'm enjoying my Spring Break. Got up early yesterday and played a round of golf, met Grinnygranny and Auntypesty at the mall and did some shopping. This morning we went out for breakfast and grocery shopping. Picked out a nice ham for Sunday.
I set the DVR to record all episodes of Becker. It was one of our favorite sit-coms and we haven't seen any episodes if some time. Last week the DVR recorded about ten episode (most are on in the middle of the night) so when we finally got home from shopping we watched most of them. Laughed our heads off. I taped them off on video for future viewing. Next weekend we should have plenty more to watch
A former fellow teacher e-mailed me this very interesting video, thought I would share it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Whacky day

  • Last day of classes before Spring Break. Activities decided to have our Spring sports Assembly that lasted an hour and forty-five minutes, and instead of spreading it out over the three classes (like usual) it all came out of 2nd period. So for teachers planning on giving a test in order to have a grade(s) for this week they were blessed with fifteen minutes of class time.

  • I was supposed to have an IEP meeting (special ed evaluation) for one of my students. One of the other teachers that was going to be there tripped and fell on the uneven sidewalk and smashed her face. She was bleeding badly and there was no first aide kit available. Paramedics took forever to get there, the only saving grace was that the student's parent was a medical technician and treated her with rough brown paper hand towels from the bathroom until the EMT's got there. Meeting was postponed.

  • This is the birth anniversary of Mr. Rogers. Can you spell W-o-r-k-m-a-n-'s C-o-m-p. and L-a-w-s-u-i-t. Last Friday I took my law class on a guided tour of the campus and had them point out all the tripping hazzards and other potential liability hazzards around the school. None of us picked out the uneven sidewalk squares. They kind of go unnoticed.

  • When I got into the classroom and turned on my computers to update before Spring Break, one of them has lost it's anti-virus software. It was on there a couple of days ago, but it's not there today -- technical support won't be able to do anything about it till we get back, which means I can't turn it on and use it possibley until next school year if even then.

  • When I turned on my laptop the external mouse wouldn't work. I had to turn it off and turn it on a couple of times. Finally working now. The joys of computers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Last Interview

When I started this dozen interviews I didn't think it would be quite the undertaking it turned into. For my various readers I hope it was educational and enlightening.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Born in Stuttgart and educated in Tübingen, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel devoted his life wholly to academic pursuits, teaching at Jena, Nuremberg, Heidelberg, and Berlin. His Wissenschaft der Logik (Science of Logic) (1812-1816) attributes the unfolding of concepts of reality in terms of the pattern of dialectical reasoning (thesis — antithesis — synthesis) that Hegel believed to be the only method of progress in human thought, and Die Encyclopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse (Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences) (1817) describes the application of this dialectic to all areas of human knowledge. Hegel's Naturrecht und Staatswissenschaft im Grundrisse and Gundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts (Philosophy of Right) (1820) provide an intellectual foundation for modern nationalism.
Hegel's absolute idealism is evident even in the early Phänomenologie des Geistes (Phenomenology of Mind) (1807). There Hegel criticized the traditional epistemological distinction of objective from subjective and offered his own dialectical account of the development of consciousness from individual sensation through social concern with ethics and politics to the pure consciousness of the World-Spirit in art, religion, and philosophy. The result is a comprehensive world-view that encompasses the historical development of civilization in all of its forms.
©1996-2006 Garth Kemerling.Last modified 9 August 2006.Questions, comments, and suggestions may be sent to: the Contact Page.
The our country is at a crossroads of philosophy in this election. Do our politician serve the People, or do the People serve our Politicians? The crossroad of Jefferson and Madison's "Piece of paper" as George W, Bush referred to it with disdain or the philosophy of Absolutism. Do we think in terms of conflict as suposed by Hegel's Dialectic, where there is no right or wrong, but winners and losers. Those that keep insisting that we "stay the course" in Iraq and Afghanistan until we "win" and that by winning everthing will be alright seem to live by the Dialectic and the concept of Absolutism -- absolute power. Frederick Clarkson sums up this philosopy with the title of his book: Eternal Hostility.
Questions: A) When you were writing Philosophy of Right, did you have any idea the impact it would have? B) Did you envision both National Socialism and Communism deriving from your thoughts? C) What do you think of the actions by those who follow your social system? D) Do you stand by your philosophy or would you change it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Interview 11

Eli Whitney

Eli Whitney (December 8, 1765January 8, 1825) was an American inventor. He is best known as the inventor of the cotton gin, and less well known for his introduction of interchangeable parts in the manufacture of firearms.
Cotton gin
The cotton gin is a mechanical device which removes the seeds from cotton, a process which, until the time of its invention, had been extremely labor-intensive. The cotton gin was a wooden drum stuck with hooks, which pulled the cotton fibers through a mesh. The cotton seeds would not fit through the mesh and fell outside. Whitney occasionally told a story where he was pondering an improved method of seeding the cotton and he was inspired by observing a cat attempting to pull a chicken through a fence, and could only pull through some of the feathers.
A single cotton gin could generate up to fifty-five pounds of cleaned cotton daily. This contributed to the economic development of the Southern states of the United States, a prime cotton growing area; some historians believe that this invention allowed for the African slavery system in the Southern United States to become more sustainable at a critical point in its development.
Interchangeable parts
Though Whitney is popularly credited with the invention of a musket that could be manufactured with interchangeable parts, the idea predated him and he never succeeded at it. The idea is credited to Jean Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval, a French artillerist, and credits for finally perfecting the "armory system," or American system of manufacturing, is given to Captain John H. Hall. In From the American System to Mass Production, historian David A. Hounshell described how de Gribeauval's idea propagated from France to the colonies via two routes: from Honoré Blanc through his friend Thomas Jefferson, and via Major Louis de Tousard, another French artillerist who was instrumental in establishing West Point, teaching the young officer corps of the Continental Army, and establishing the armories at Springfield and Harper's Ferry.
By the late 1790s, Whitney was on the verge of bankruptcy and cotton gin litigation had left him deeply in debt. The War Department issued contracts for the manufacture of 10,000 muskets. Whitney, who had never made a gun in his life, obtained a contract in January, 1798 to deliver ten to fifteen thousand muskets in 1800. He had not mentioned interchangeable parts at that time. Ten months later, Treasury Secretary Wolcott sent him a "foreign pamphlet on arms manufacturing techniques," possibly one of Honoré Blanc's reports, after which Whitney first began to talk about interchangeability. After spending most of 1799-1801 in cotton gin litigation, Whitney began promoting the idea of interchangeable parts, and even arranged a public demonstration of the concept in order to gain time. He did not deliver on the contract until 1809, but then spent the rest of his life publicizing the idea of interchangeability. (Hounshell, pp 30-32)
Whitney's defenders have claimed that he invented the American system of manufacturing -- the combination of power machinery, interchangeable parts, and division of labor that would underlie the nation's subsequent industrial revolution. [wikipedia]

Questions: A) Did you ever feel remorse for making slavery profitable in the South? B) Did you really get the idea of the cotton gin from watching a cat go after chickens through chicken wire or did you make that up? C) Did you ever give Blanc credit for giving you the idea of interchangeable parts? D) Are you proud of the American system of manufacturing that you started?

Interview 10

William Pitt (the Elder), Earl of Chatham (1708-1778)

Marjie Bloy Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore
[Home —> Political History —> Prime Ministers]

William Pitt. who served as Prime Minister from 30 July 1766 to 14 October 1768, was born on 15 November 1709, the second son and fourth of seven children of Robert Pitt and his wife Lady Harriet Villiers. The family was not aristocratic and the politicians in the family relied on connections and their own abilities to make their way in life. Between 1719 and 1726, Pitt was educated at Eton and then went up to Trinity College Oxford…
Pitt entered political life in 1735 when he was elected as MP… In 1737 he was appointed Groom of the Bedchamber to the Prince of Wales… In October 1744 he was bequeathed £10,000 by the Duchess of Marlborough for his opposition to Walpole. The money was well-received because Pitt was perpetually in debt.
In 1746 Pitt was appointed Paymaster General, a post which carried Cabinet status… Pitt married Hester Grenville, sister of Earl Temple and George Grenville. Hester was 23 years his junior. The couple had three sons and two daughters: William (Pitt the Younger) was their second son.
In 1756 the Seven Years' War broke out; Pitt was Secretary of State with sole charge of the direction of the war and foreign affairs. During the early years of the war, Britain suffered a number of reversals but late in 1758 the army began to make inroads into French control of Canada including the capture of Fort Duquesne which was renamed Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania… Pitt had fulfilled his promise to "save his country". He then wanted to press home Britain's advantage by declaring war on Spain before the Spanish had time to prepare for and declare war on Britain…. The new king, George III, and his advisers - particularly the Earl of Bute - were reluctant to extend the war. Pitt's position was made untenable and he resigned in 1761…
In January 1765, Sir William Pysent - a total stranger - left his Somerset estate of Burton Pysent to Pitt. The estate was worth about £40,000. In the same year the king made overtures to Pitt for the formation of a ministry. Pitt was in poor health and also was aware that he was the king's last resort for PM so he refused. Rockingham formed a short-lived ministry and in 1766 Pitt became PM in his own right but now elevated to the peerage as the Earl of Chatham. It was an unstable ministry for a variety of reasons:

  • Pitt became victim of his own success and tried to 'manage' the King, who saw his ministers as his servants and refused to be 'managed'
  • his peerage destroyed his image as 'the Great Commoner'
    he became arrogant, verging on megalomania
  • he was autocratic in Cabinet and over-rode Grafton, who ceased to take any interest in affairs
  • his ability was waning. Chatham had a mental breakdown in 1767 followed by a long illness during which he refused to see anyone
  • he was unable to control the Commons from the Lords

Townshend unilaterally reverted to Grenville's policy for America. He revived the financial demands on the colonies with the 1767 American Import Duties Act, often known as the Townshend Duties. During the Stamp Act crisis, the colonists had differentiated between internal and external taxation and Townshend made use of this in his policy. Townshend's taxes were 'external' and had the same aim as the Sugar Act: they were intended specifically to raise a revenue from America. He put small duties on lead, paint, glass, paper and tea, goods that were essential to the colonists. All had to be imported from Britain in British ships, and by taxing at source, evasion was impossible. The levying of these duties led to:

  • more cries of 'no taxation with representation'
  • riots and another non-importation agreement.

Over the next ten years, Chatham appeared from time to time in parliament to support or attack the government, depending on its policies. He tried desperately to avert open conflict with the American colonies but each time he failed to get his own way he retired to the country, ill. On 7 April 1778 he attended the House of Lords for a debate on the situation in the colonies with the intention of opposing the Duke of Richmond's motion to give the colonies their independence. He spoke against Richmond, who responded. When Chatham rose again to reply, he opened his mouth, clutched his chest and collapsed on the Duke of Portland. Chatham was carried from the House of Lords and taken to Hayes where he died on 11 May 1778. He was 69 years old.

Questions: A) Would America still be a part of the British Empire had George III not forced you out of office in 1761? B) Would the American Revolution never have happened if Parliament had listened to you between 1761 anc 1765? C) Knowing that the power in Parliament is in Commons, why did you want a peerage? D) After Lexington and Concorde it took the colonies over a year to declare Independance, with your health failing, could anyone else have healed the breach?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Interview 9

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey

Cardinal, Archbishop of York, b. at Ipswitch, the usually accepted date, 1471, being probably three or four years too early; d. at Leicester Abbey, 29 November, 1530. His father, Robert Wulcy (or Wolsey), was a man of substance, owning property in Ipswich, but it is not known that he was a butcher as commonly reported. The cardinal himself always wrote his name as "Wulcy". He was educated at Oxford, where he took his degree at the age of fifteen, winning the title "the boy bachelor". About 1497 he was elected fellow of Magdalen, and after becoming M. A. was appointed master of the adjoining school. [Catholic Encyclapedia]
Instead of going into a lot of details on Cardinal Wolsey I thought I would summarize my college paper on him. My premise on Wolsey was that most people get caught up in all his accomplishments, and they were many, but what makes Wolsey important in World History is really his failures. The crossroads England and Europe faced concerning the Reformation and Henry VIII's troubles with siring an heir still have ripple effects today.
Wolsey's three failures were: 1. Becoming Pope. He came close, but the French pulled their support at the last minute. Had he been Pope Henry would most likely have received his annulment and England would have stayed Catholic. 2. Henry being elected Holy Roman Emperor. Diplomatically Wolsey nearly pulled this off, but Carlos I of Spain wins the election to become Charles V, the man who then surrounds the Pope's castle and pressures the Church into not granting the annulment. 3 Obtaining the annulment.
All other accomplishments by Wolsey are negated by these three failures. If he had succeeded in any one of these endeavors England stays Catholic, and who knows what would have happened at that point. English Civil War would have happened in a different way, Mary I would not have had to burn so many people at the stake, there would have been no Glorious Revolution, no English Bill of Rights, and perhaps no American Constitution and Bill of Rights. England might have respected the Pope's wishes and never colonized North America. Idle speculation perhaps, but just think of the possibilies had Wolsey obtained any one of these objectives.
Questions: A) Had you been elected Pope, would you have cleaned up the excesses that caused Luther's break with the Church? B) How differently would you have dealt with Henry had he been elected Holy Roman Emperor and you were Pope? C) Once you were equals would you have fought with him or helped him? D) The big Queston, the one all historians still scratch their heads over, why didn't you use your power of Papal Legate A La Terre to grant Henry's annulment when he asked for it instead of going through all the rigamarole that led to England' break with the Church and your downfall?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Soapbox

I hit a hot button with Isaac Newton. "Thank you," he said with a smile on his face, bowing in gratitude.
Today I thought I'd explore a couple of posts on Scott Horton's No Comment blog. He interviews Gary Wills the author of numberous books exploring the historical and contectual meaning of the Bible. A simplified version of what I was taught at Southwesstern Baptist Theological Seminary (back before the Philistines raped and plundered that institution) was called Form Study, there was a German name for it, but I don't want to misspell it and look foolish.
I'm going to post Wills' translation of John 1 -14, and then NASV for comparison. A few of the questions and answers follow.

At the origin was the Word,
And the Word faced God,
And the Word was God;
This faced God at the origin.
Through Him all things came to exist,
And without him nothing that exists existed.
What existed in him was vivifying,
And the vivification was a light to men,
And the light shone into the darkness,
And the darkness did not cope with it.
He was in the universe,
And through Him the universe existed
Yet the universe did not recognize Him.
He came to his chosen ones,
Yet His chosen did not welcome him.
But to all those who did welcome him
He gave the privilege of being God’s offspring.
And the Word became human fleshAnd bivouacked with us.
And we have seen his splendor,
A splendor of God’s only Son,
Supreme in favor and fidelity.
Since of his supremacy
We all have our share,
Favor answering favor.
–John 1:1-14 (ca. 90 CE)(English transl. Garry Wills, following Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John)

In the Beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
11 He came to His own, and those who were his own did not receive Him.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to bcome childre of God, even to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Wills is a leading expert on the Greek of the Christian scriptures, and he has put his skills as a textual analyst to work in a series of penetrating studies of sacred texts: ‘What Jesus Meant,’ ‘What Paul Meant,’ and the last in the series, and the subject of this interview, ‘What the Gospels Meant.’

Horton: By putting the Gospels in the setting of the communities in which they arose, aren’t you stripping away the mysteries? How do you cope with this criticism?
Wills: Since I believe in the divinity of Jesus, there is no way I can reduce the mystery of that fact. To look at the history and nature of the gospels does not do so. To present ignorance of the history as a mystery to be revered is an exercise in false religiosity. As Augustine said, God wants us to use our reason in reading Scripture; otherwise he would not have given us reason in the first place.
Horton: You have presented the view, based largely on textual analysis, that the original texts present a view of women that is far more accepting of them and their role in the church than later evolved in the established churches, which you term “misogynistic.” Can you give some examples of this? How do the church hierarchies cope with scholarship that undermines their views about the role of women?
Wills: Recent Popes have defended the subordinate position of women in religious activity by saying that Jesus did not ordain women as priests. But neither did he ordain any men as priests. There are no priests in the letters of Paul or the gospels. Paul never calls himself, or Timothy, or any of those he writes to, priests. He does call a number of women his “co-workers,” the term for his fellow evangelists. He says there were women prophets, and one woman, Julia, was an apostolos (”apostle”), his own highest title.
Horton: The opening verses of John must be among the most powerful and poetic words of Christian scripture. You tell us that this text is likely a “hymn” and that it has been edited to serve as a preface to a text that begins with the story of John the Baptist. Can you explain the basis for this interpretation?
Wills: Raymond Brown’s analysis of the opening of John’s gospel is brilliant. He points out that the poetic structure is broken by prose inserts, connecting the hymn with the treatment of John the Baptists that follows it. He concludes that the gospel most likely began with the Baptist material (as Mark’s does), but that these connective sections were added when the poem was placed at the outset of the gospel.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Interview 8

Newton, Sir Isaac (1642-1727),
mathematician and physicist, one of the foremost scientific intellects of all time. Born at Woolsthorpe, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, where he attended school, he entered Cambridge University in 1661; he was elected a Fellow of Trinity College in 1667, and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in 1669. He remained at the university, lecturing in most years, until 1696. Of these Cambridge years, in which Newton was at the height of his creative power, he singled out 1665-1666 (spent largely in Lincolnshire because of plague in Cambridge) as "the prime of my age for invention". During two to three years of intense mental effort he prepared Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) commonly known as the Principia, although this was not published until 1687.As a firm opponent of the attempt by King James II to make the universities into Catholic institutions, Newton was elected Member of Parliament for the University of Cambridge to the Convention Parliament of 1689, and sat again in 1701-1702. Meanwhile, in 1696 he had moved to London as Warden of the Royal Mint. He became Master of the Mint in 1699, an office he retained to his death. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1671, and in 1703 he became President, being annually re-elected for the rest of his life. His major work, Opticks, appeared the next year; he was knighted in Cambridge in 1705.
As Newtonian science became increasingly accepted on the Continent, and especially after a general peace was restored in 1714, following the War of the Spanish Succession, Newton became the most highly esteemed natural philosopher in Europe. His last decades were passed in revising his major works, polishing his studies of ancient history, and defending himself against critics, as well as carrying out his official duties. Newton was modest, diffident, and a man of simple tastes. He was angered by criticism or opposition, and harboured resentment; he was harsh towards enemies but generous to friends. In government, and at the Royal Society, he proved an able administrator. He never married and lived modestly, but was buried with great pomp in Westminster Abbey.
Contributed By: Alfred Rupert Hall
"Sir Isaac Newton" Microsoft® Encarta®. Copyright © 1998 Microsoft Corporation.

For the Scientific Revolution, when again Europe was at a crossroads, I chose someone who encompassed just about all the different aspects of science. His works in mathematics and astronomy (optics and gravity) are perhaps best known, but he also dabbled in chemestry, history, theology, and philosophy.

Questions: A) Since all of modern technology is based on Calculus, what do you think the modern world has done of your science? B) Could you clear up the controversy between you and Leibniz over who first came up with the concept of Calculus? C) As a man of strong faith, do you think more should be done today to reconcile differences between science and theology? D) Now settle for all time, did the apple hit you on the head or did you just see if fall?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Interview 7


Raphael Sanzio, was born on April 6, 1483. He was born in the town of Urbino, Italy, where he lived until age 11. After his father died, Raphael went to the town of Perugia to be an apprentice of the painter Pietro Perugino. Raphael picked up the usage of shade and light with Perugino, One example is the brilliant The Marriage of the Virgin created while Perugino’s apprentice. Even then, Raphael had a great understanding of depth and perspective; although the background stands out, you can still notice the people in the foreground without being distracted. These people are shown having emotions instead of being motionless; some characters are making very noticeable actions and a lot of movement, making the people appear realistic.
In 1504, Raphael moved to Florence, where he studied Michelangelo’s use of anatomy and Leonardo da Vinci’s use of light and shadow. Raphael's Madonnas, portrayed Mary as a loving, caring human woman. Many other artists before Raphael portrayed Mary as an angelic-like woman that did not look too much like a human woman…
The School of Athens is arguably Raphael’s most famous piece. It includes his use of depth and perspective and the action and interaction of the people. The School of Athen's setting is not a school. It is actually a gathering of philosophers and scientists.
The center pair is Plato and Aristotle, and each character’s side represents a type of philosophy. On Plato’s side, philosophers are wondering about the mysteries of the world. On Aristotle’s side are philosophers and scientists concerned about nature and mankind.
Baldassare Castiglione is possibly Raphael’s most famous portrait. The subject shown is posing in the sort of way that Leonardo’s Mona Lisa subject posed; it influenced such painters as Titian and Rembrandt.
Raphael died of a fever on his 37th birthday by his unfinished painting, The Transfiguration, located in the Vatican. His best pupil, Giulio Romano, finished the painting. [wikipedia -- with a great deal of editing by this blogger. Whoever wrote this piece for them may know art, but not how to write coherently.]

The Renaissance was another crossroads for Europe lingustically, artistically, architecturally, financially and intellectually. When you think of the Renaissance, though, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Baccacio or Guerte don't come to mind. Instead most people think of statues like Michealangelo's David, or Leonardo's Last Supper.
For every party there has to be a party pooper, and Florence had a real piece of work in a guy named Savonarola. He gained power and had many masterpieces burned in the town square in what he called "The Bonfire of the Vanities", eventually he pissed off the Pope and was burned himself. But what Wikipedia left out of it's bio was that many works of Rafael were burned up because they were too secular including nudes. After this bonfire Rafael only painted religious themes and never returned to secular works.

Questions: A) How did you feel seeing so many of your paintings being burned? B) Did you feel vinicated when Savonarola was executed? C) Once Savonarola was dead and the Medici's were back in power, why did you not recreate them? D) Even in your own time everyone recognized The School of Athens as a Masterpiece, why did you forsake secular themes for the rest of your life?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Interview 6 (half way there)

All of Europe faced a crossroads with the Reformation. I chose as a person to be interviewed a lesser known reformer, but one that had tremendous impact then and even today.

Menno Simons1496 - 1561
Menno Simons is the most notable leader of the "Radical" Reformation.
Born to dairy farmers in Witmarsum, Holland, Menno distinguished himself as a Latin scholar throughout his schooling. Equipped thereby to read scripture for himself (there were no vernacular translations at this time), he nonetheless did not become acquainted with the bible until two years after his ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood. His seven-year pastoral ministry found him performing customary parish tasks, as well as achieving extraordinary feats of drinking and card-playing!
Little-by-little doubts as to the truth of transubstantiation dismantled the theology he had held since childhood. A German preacher lent him a book that stated believers' baptism alone to be found in the New Testament. When a Dutch tailor, Sicke Freerks, was beheaded because he had been re-baptized as an adult, Menno wondered what could be so important about baptism. Having ransacked the teaching of the Magisterial Reformers on infant baptism, he concluded there were no grounds at all for it. Baptism, he believed now, represented everything about one's understanding of the faith, the nature of discipleship, and the Christian community's fate before the world.
Frustrated in his attempts at a gospel-renovation of the Church of Rome, the Spirit-infused man departed in 1536. Dutch sympathizers asked him to be their shepherd -- whereupon he was re-baptized (hence the term "anabaptist", "ana" being Greek for "again") and re-ordained. For the next 25 years he (like Luther before him) lived with a price on his head. While Luther at least could exercise a ministry in a friendly political environment, Menno's ministry had to be clandestine on account of political hostility. He and his people were harassed by Roman and Reformed authorities alike.
Mennonites maintain that the New Testament does not permit Christians to kill other humans under any circumstances. Amazingly, Menno himself died of natural causes at age 66, badly disabled by arthritis. [wikipedia]

Question: A) How hard a decision was it for you to break from the Catholic Church? B) Why did "Believer's Baptism" become so important to you? C) How hard was it for you and your followers to live by a non-violent, pacifism tenet? D) What do you think of the Amish/Mennonite split that has occured in the U.S. today?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday Soapbox

I will continue posting on the twelve people I would like to interview on Monday. All my research is on the computer at school, and though its only a couple of blocks away and I could retrieve it I think I'll wait. Give me hours and hours of doing nothing but watching students take tests and it's either think deep philosophical thoughts or let your mind go blank. With all due respect to one of my interviewees, I'm not into nothingness.

Of all the posts I've written in some time the one that seems to have generated the most interest is the one on Freud's tripartite persnona (superego, ego, id). When I visited Micheal Prescott's blog this week he also had a post on egoism that generated well over 40 comments (nice to have that many readers who acutally leave comments), but then he's more of a mainstream author than this humble blogger.
I only mentioned the Freud's use of those three words in order to fully explain the definition of the IDIOT as that word is used as a synonym for stupid. The definition I used I learned from reading Thieves in High Places by Jim Hightower. An early victim of Karl Rove's scorched earth political policy.

Since the tripartite persona (a phrase mentioned by a commenter from my fair city) has generated such interest I have pondered it in my mind for the last few days. The following (if anyone is still reading my stilted prose) are my thoughts.

The power of three:
In the post on Buddha it mentioned that he lived a life of luxury, then of privation and he came to the conclusion that the middle path was the way to enlightenment (my summation). The stoics in Greco-Roman philosophy called it "The Golden Mean" Starting with Zeno and encompassing a slave Epictetus and the Emperor Marcus Aurelius the emphasis was on avoiding pleasure in order to reduce pain. Maybe they suffered from too many hangovers after all that wine drinking?
Christianity, by way of post exile Judaism developed the concept of Spirit, Soul and Flesh. So really in essence Freud just put in his psychological gobledygook what just about everyone else for thousands of years have already known. I've even read that psychologists are trying to digitize the concept of evil. At what point does a person get so caught up in his (pleasure, flesh, id, pick a term) and his or her actions become so damaging to others that it becomes evil. Maybe that's the weakness of the dual concept of Zoroastrianism and Judaic-Christian-Muslam thought. There's only Good and Evil, without a ballancing word or thought. There Ahura-Mazda or Ahriman, God or Satan. Would Christ as intercessor and forgiveness act as the ballancing agent? I think as Christian perhaps Jews and Muslims would find a similar ballancing agent as well (food for further thought) Are there any Zoroastrians left alive or has Der Decider's Crusade in Iraq wiped them all out?

Leaving Philosophy -- More of Bruce's specialty than mine. I turn to history for an explanation.
At the rood of the tripartive persona is culture and civilization. A hermit living alone in a cave can't be either good or bad, righteous or evil, civilized or barbarian. He is by necessity living only for himself, but harming no one else. The above mentioned concepts only apply once there is a grouping of people. Humans as a whole don't do well as solitary individuals, we are by nature social animals and we view as good or bad what one persons actions have on the others around him (it's stilted to be politically correct here, I'm a man and am going to refer to the generic person in the masculine pronoun to fuss over this is to miss the point of the discussion).
Hunter gatherers live by one set of natural laws. Their existence depended on taking what they could find, and by protecting their territory from other groups of people as strongly as we would protect our refrigerator from a stranger that wonders in and starts grabbing the food in it. If you look at the taboos or laws developed in nomadic and semi-nomadic cultures placed in the context of their existence the laws make sense. Most of the early law givers like Hammurabi and Moses had very harsh penalties for the least littl infraction. Being lazy and drunk -- death, Playing around with another man's wife -- death, murder -- death. Nomadic people have a bare existence style of living -- anyone not pulling their weight, but eating more than they were contributing could make everyone starve to death. Starting a blood feud over a woman or a brawl that got out of hand could result in killings for generations (the Jews and Arabs are still at it). What is amazing though in looking at different nomadic societies each tribe faced with the same circumstance still behave differently. In exploring the Pacific Europeans found some islanders friendly and open to trade and others fierce and deadly. What makes one group of people open to outsiders and others become cannibals and head hunters? Did the cannibals think of themselves and evil?
The Spanish pat themselves on the back for stopping the indigenous population of Mexico and Peru from human sacrifice while killing off millions with disease and enslavement. But in their mind the Aztecs and Incas got the better bargain -- eternal life by becoming Christian.

What is the Middle Path, the Golden Mean, the soul? What defines the difference between altruism and hedonism?
Every culture or society defines their own, yet there is still within all of us regardless of culture, society or history a concept of light and dark, right and wrong, good and evil. I think of that line being the suffering of others.
Is it right for the CEO of a corporation that just lost 70 million dollars in the last year to pocket 25 million dollars in salary while laying off thousands of workers?
Is it right for the people of this country to pay three Trillion dollars over the next one hundred or more years, and ruining or costing the lives of millions of people to win a war, when the leaders haven't defined the word win?
Has our country fallen into the deepest darkest pit of depravity when the Attorney General refuses to admit that torture is torture, and the President vetoes a bill making the military and CIA abide by their own manuals?
Where is the SOUL that should be ballancing (remember our concept of checks and ballances) these behaviors?

I see America's soul being fought out in this election.
John McCain sold his soul to evil when he advised Bush to veto the anti-torture bill. How bankrupt has the man become who was himself once a victim of torture to now embrace it. Stockholm syndrome does not apply. It is his overwhelming desire to become President and that the only way he thinks he can do it is to embrace the barbarians in the Republican Party's ultraconservative thinktanks. I see no Spirit or altruism in the Republicans -- their Bible has become Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, an oath that all her disciples should take: "I swear by my life and my love of it -- that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine."
Hedonism and anarchy defined in a nutshell. "I've got mine baby because I've got the biggest gun, or lawyer, or judge --you're on your own don't bother me."
And how can those that want to plaster John 3:16 all over the airwaves support this anti-sacrificial philosophy by pointing to the person who made the ultimate sacrifice?
They can't even get the oath fully realized because how can you fight a war to enrich Daddy Warbucks without asking others to sacrifice and die for it? How can those CEO's make their millions without putting half their labor force out of work?
They don't see themselves as evil any more than the Pacific Island Head Hunters, but the world is no longer isolated and has the luxury of allowing cultures or political parties to prove thier virilty by the suffering of others.

With all the fighting between Obama and Clinton they represent the path out of the anarchy and destruction caused when Der Decider let slip the dogs of war. (my apologies to Shakespear), but that won't be enough. Congress needs 60 seats to be filibuster proof. When I see the long lines of voters and read that in a recent poll Dubbya's approval rating is down to 17% I see the SOUL of America reassurting itself. We The People are coming around, but it will have to be in such great numbers to offset the Thieves who stop at nothing to steal elections.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Interview 5 oops out of order

Socrates (469 - 399 BC)

In his use of critical reasoning, by his unwavering commitment to truth, and through the vivid example of his own life, fifth-century Athenian Socrates set the standard for all subsequent Western philosophy. Having served with some distinction as a soldier at Delium and Amphipolis during the Peloponnesian War, Socrates dabbled in the political turmoil that consumed Athens after the War, then retired from active life to work as a stonemason and to raise his children with his wife, Xanthippe. After inheriting a modest fortune from his father, the sculptor Sophroniscus, Socrates used his marginal financial independence as an opportunity to give full-time attention to inventing the practice of philosophical dialogue.
For the rest of his life, Socrates devoted himself to free-wheeling discussion with the aristocratic young citizens of Athens, insistently questioning their unwarranted confidence in the truth of popular opinions, even though he often offered them no clear alternative teaching. Their parents, however, were often displeased with his influence on their offspring, and his earlier association with opponents of the democratic regime had already made him a controversial political figure. Although the amnesty of 405 forestalled direct prosecution for his political activities, an Athenian jury found other charges—corrupting the youth and interfering with the religion of the city—upon which to convict Socrates, and they sentenced him to death in 399 B.C.E. Accepting this outcome with remarkable grace, Socrates drank hemlock and died in the company of his friends and disciples.
Questions: A) Do you approve of the Socratic method as it is practised today? B) Do you think the charges you were convicted of were just? C) Why didn't you fight harder in your defense?
D) How does it feel to be considered the Father of Western Civilization?

Interview 4

St. Barnabas [no picture available]
Barnabas (originally Joseph), styled an Apostle in Holy Scripture, b. of Jewish parents in the Island of Cyprus about the beginning of the Christian Era. Acts (4:36-37) favours the opinion that he was converted to Christianity shortly after Pentecost (about A.D. 29 or 30) and immediately sold his property and devoted the proceeds to the Church. The Apostles, probably because of his success as a preacher, surnamed him Barnabas, a name then interpreted as meaning "son of exhortation" or "consolation".
Paul the Apostle, made his first visit (dated variously from A.D. 33 to 38) to Jerusalem after his conversion, Barnabas stood sponsor for him and had him received by the Apostles, as the Acts relate (9:27), Paul went to his house at Tarsus to live in obscurity for some years, while Barnabas appears to have remained at Jerusalem. The event that brought them together again and opened to both the door to their lifework was an indirect result of Saul's own persecution. In the dispersion that followed Stephen's death, some Disciples from Cyprus and Cyrene, obscure men, inaugurated the real mission of the Christian Church by preaching to the Gentiles. They met with great success among the Greeks at Antioch in Syria, reports of which coming o the ears of the Apostles, Barnabas was sent thither by them to investigate the work of his countrymen. He saw in the conversions effected the fruit of God's grace and, though a Jew, heartily welcomed these first Gentile converts. His mind was opened at once to the possibility of this immense field. It is a proof how deeply impressed Barnabas had been by Paul that he thought of him immediately for this work, set out without delay for distant Tarsus, and persuaded Paul to go to Antioch and begin the work of preaching. Despite opposition and persecution, Paul and Barnabas made many converts on this journey and returned by the same route to Perge.
Paul and Barnabas decided to revisit their missions. Barnabas wished to take John Mark along once more, but on account of the previous defection Paul objected. A sharp contention ensuing, the Apostles agreed to separate. Barnabas sailed with John Mark to Cyprus, while Paul took Silas and revisited the churches of Asia Minor. Little is known of the subsequent career of Barnabas. [Catholic Encyclopedia]

Questions: A) How hard was it for you to see Paul surpass you in leadership of the early Church?
B) What would have happened if you had not split off from Paul on the second missionary journey? C) Did you write the book of Hebrews?

Interview 3

Marcus Porcius Catō Uticensis (95 – 46 BC), known as Cato the Younger (Cato Minor) to distinguish him from his great-grandfather (Cato the Elder) was a politician and statesman in the late Roman Repuclic, and a follower of the Stoic philosophy. He is remembered for his legendary stubbornness and tenacity (especially in his lengthy conflict with Gaius Julius Caesar), as well as his immunity to bribes, his moral integrity, and his famous distaste for the ubiquitous corruption of the period.
Cato is remembered as a Stoic philosopher and one of the most active paladins of the Republic. His high moral standards and incorruptible virtue gained him praise even from his political enemies. After Cato's death, both pro- and anti-Cato treatises appeared; amongst them Cicero wrote a panegyric, entitled Cato, to which Caesar (who never forgave him for all the obstructions) answered with his Anti-Cato. Cicero's pamphlet has not survived, but some of its contents may be inferred from Plutarch's Life of Cato, which also repeats many of the stories that Caesar put forward in his Anti-Cato. (Wikipewdia)
Questions: A) Why were you so blind to the damage your stubborness caused all of Rome? B) How could you and the Optimates have been so deaf to the cries of misery from the population of Rome you policies created? C) How could a defender of The Republic refuse to compromise when that's the very nature of representative government? D) When you finally committed suicide did you feel any remorse for all the lives lost and property destroyed because you could not permit Caesar to have a triumph? E) Can you look back now and see all the destruction done throughout history by those who followed Caesar's footsteps?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Interview 2

Interview 2: The Buddha

When Siddhartha Gautama was born, a seer predicted that he would either become a great king or he would save humanity. Fearing that his son would not follow in his footsteps, his father raised Siddhartha in a wealthy and pleasure-filled palace in order to shield his son from any experience of human misery or suffering. This, however, was a futile project, and when Siddhartha saw four sights: a sick man, a poor man, a beggar, and a corpse, he was filled with infinite sorrow for the suffering that humanity has to undergo. After seeing these four things, Siddhartha then dedicated himself to finding a way to end human suffering. He abandoned his former way of life, including his wife and family, and dedicated himself to a life of extreme asceticism. So harsh was this way of life that he grew thin enough that he could feel his hands if he placed one on the small of his back and the other on his stomach. In this state of wretched concentration, in heroic but futile self-denial, he overheard a teacher speaking of music. If the strings on the instrument are set too tight, then the instrument will not play harmoniously. If the strings are set too loose, the instrument will not produce music. Only the middle way, not too tight and not too loose, will produce harmonious music. This chance conversation changed his life overnight. The goal was not to live a completely worldly life, nor was it to live a life in complete denial of the physical body, but to live in a Middle Way. The way out of suffering was through concentration, and since the mind was connected to the body, denying the body would hamper concentration, just as overindulgence would distract one from concentration. [Wikipedia]

Questions: A) If you had been born into poverty, then become rich and found yourself in a pleasure filled palace, would you have been as easily influenced by the music teacher?
B) You had the choice of being great in your lifetime or influencing the world for all time. Why did you choose the eternal over the immediate? C) What would you think of our technological age? D) How would you evaluate Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Interview 1

Interview 1
I came across a Meme on Michael Manning’s blog on the 12 people you would like to interview. I thought about limiting it to 12 people, but for a historian that’s really kind of difficult. So I limited it to one category and chose 12 people within that category. My category was: People or societies that faced a pathway choice and how that has affected the rest of history.I don’t think they will all fit on one posting. One at a time would be easier on the reading public.

1. Mo Tzu (470-391 B.C.) [no picture available] is a curious figure among the early giants of Chinese thought. Unlike most of the other names he is associated with (Confucius, Lao Tzu, Mencius, Chuang Tzu, etc.), Mo Tzu, born Mo Ti, seems to have been of low birth, possibly the son of a slave. He was a thoroughgoing eccentric, as famous for his dress and manners as his thought. His direct legacy, Moism, died out fairly quickly; in spite of this, his thought is enormously influential for all Chinese thought to follow. He despised Confucians with a passion, regarding them as uptight, egotistical, pretentious, upper class, and characterized by a mindless devotion to empty rituals. Despite this animosity, Mo Tzu shared with Confucius an overwhelming concern with government; his life was literally spent moving from feudal court to feudal court trying to talk some ruler into living by his philosophical teachings.
Unlike Confucius, Mo Tzu did not shy away from talking about religion and heaven. At the heart of his thinking was the belief that all human beings were fundamentally equal in the eyes of heaven; differences between human beings, such as status, wealth, or position, were artificial and man-made distinctions. The equality of humans before heaven mandated an overriding ethical principle for people to that human beings suffer.
“Humane men are concerned about providing benefits to the world and eliminating its calamities. . . . When we come to ask about the causes of the calamities (war, poverty, etc.) that people suffer, from what do these calamities arise? Do they arise from people loving others and benefiting others? Certainly not. We should say that they arise from people hating and injuring others. If we should classify one by one all those who hate and injure others, will we find that they are partial or universal in their love? Certainly, we'll find them partial in their love. Therefore, partial love is the cause of all the human calamities in the world. Partial love is wrong.” [Wikipedia]

My questions to Mo Tzu would be: A) Are you surprised that your teachings would still have such an impact on China even though Confucianism, became the official philosophy?B) Do you think the teachings of Christ mirror much of what you taught, and could that be why Christianity has always found such fertile soil in China? C) Do you approve of the premise of American government that all men are created equal and that everyone should have equal opportunity? D) What correlations do you see in current American society with the Chinese society of your day? E) Or do you see a better correlation to China under Communism? F) Did Mao's teaching mirror yours more closely than Christ's?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Received my second royalty check from my publisher yesterday. A pittance to be sure against the expenses so far in marketing and travel to promote Optimus, but it is reassuring that somewhere out there people are actually buying it and hopefully reading it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Testing week

This week decides my school's fate for the next few years. No Child Left Behind consequences may take effect next year if we don't make AYP (don't ask me what that stands for, who can keep up with government alphabet soup?). Nobody has mentioned what those consequences will be other than more teacher training. Which is what the students that can't make proficiency really need -- staying home while teachers get lectured on how terrible we are.
Students that don't make proficiency will have to take remediation classes instead of electives. In order to accomodate this we've had the debate over the A/B roll over or 4 X 4 block schedules. With a faculty of 200 teachers the vote was 43 -- A/B, 41 -- 4 x 4. I could dropkick all the stupid teachers that didn't vote across the Rio Grande river right now. I've already posted the difference between the two schedules so I won't rehash that. With my electoral luck lately George W. Bush just might get elected to a third term of office. (I've noticed a few international bloggers checking out this site, and may not be aware of our increasingly meaningless Constitutional guidelines, the last thought above is hyperbole.)