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Monday, 30 March 2009

"Woman with sister woman?"

Katharine L. Aller was an American poetess who flourished in the 1940's. She composed this hymn in 1944 to the tune TOULON:

God of a universe within whose bounds
Thy vast creation moves in ordered space;
Sons of a nation born of faith and wounds,
We seek from Thee our true appointed place.

Within Thy purpose, through the ages’ span,
We would discern our country’s destined role:
In all our councils, man with brother man,
We would obey the law of love’s control.

By all the grief man’s strife with man entails,
By all the woe that stalks oppression’s train,
By Thy great sacrifice which still prevails,
Free us from lust for all unworthy gain.

So shall we deal in justice like to Thine;
So shall the love of mercy light our land,
Marking the footprints of the Love Divine,
Where we walk humbly, guided by Thy hand.

Lead us into the light that shines from Thee
For all mankind; for ne’er shall it fulfill
Its pure effulgence till all men are free,
Free through the truth which is th’ eternal will.

©1945 by The Hymn Society of America.

Now, note that while Katharine is obviously a woman, she identifies the corporate entity of which she is a part indifferently as Sons, man with brother man, all mankind, and all men. Yet she is obviously under no delusions that by using such language, she is excluding most of the population, including herself, from the prayer.

But even if the author were a man, only one of these labels would be considered acceptable in these last days, when "Bring Me Men," the opening words of Sam W. Foss' poem The Coming American had to be expunged from a stone arch overlooking the Air Force Academy's parade grounds just to avoid offending the weaker sex. But Katharine Aller--to say nothing of Sam Foss--would be at a loss to account for this removal. And ironically, it was the modern female performer Lamya who finally set Foss' words to music, incorporating its opening lines into the lyrics of her song, "Empires," without altering the gender:

Bring me men to match my mountains,
Bring me men to match my plains;
Men with empires in their purpose
And new eras in their brains.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Hold on to your gold!

Well, I'm back with another scam that will probably replace all the hits I'm missing from corey.
A few months ago, when the price of gold reached an all-time high--in nominal terms, but certainly not in material terms--I sent away for an offer from I received back an envelope in which I could send unwanted gold jewelry to be appraised. Before I parted with my 14k wedding ring, though, I wondered how much it would really be worth. I went to all the trouble to weigh it and it came out to about 5 grams, or one and a third troy ounces; at $1000 an ounce, that came to $133. Since my ring was 58% gold, I figured $70 would be a reasonable melt value. But gold4cash had its expenses, too, so I figured they'd probably only offer me about half that; maybe only a third.

But I wanted to be sure. So I decided to call them and ask what they were paying per ounce of gold, before I went and sent in my ring. It turns out that they won't answer such questions, "unless we can see it." Ha! The truth is, I would have been lucky to have gotten more than a dollar for my ring, but they didn't want me to know that until they had it in their possession. Because, as in the case of all such scams, their 'free return policy' has enough fine print to make it virtually worthless. Here is a first-hand account of how the scam is perpetrated.

Well, the good news is, cash4gold won't be able to put endless charges on your credit card. But once they have your gold, it's gone. So send for the free envelope if you must. Send it back if you must. But please, don't put anything in it that you think is worth more than the postage you're saving by using their envelope.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The TNIV and Evil Sight

The Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) of the International Bible Society (IBS) came out with the New International Version (NIV--NT only) in 1973. By 1978 the whole Bible was published in a new edition, and revised again in 1984. Subsequent to that, the CBT tested the waters with the NIrV and the gender-neutral NIV before declaring that all future revisions would be confined to a "new translation," to be called the TNIV, and that the 1984 NIV would stay in print unrevised as long as there was a market for it. Rupert Murdoch's Harper-Collins publishing house retains retail distribution rights in the US to all English Bibles translated by the CBT. Meanwhile, IBS translations have been done in Spanish and Portuguese under the NVI brand name.

What provoked my earlier run of posts on the TNIV was the CBT's claim that it was translated into more accurate English than had been the NIV (and, of course, the KJV). The pinnacle of this claim was its use of gender-neutral inclusive language. I have shown this claim to be a farce. Language in the TNIV is not neutral, but neutered.

What has provoked this recent run of posts on the TNIV is the CBT's claim to express the Word of God in the language of today's young person--one who supposedly cannot understand the now-archaic language of earlier versions. I have shown this claim to be a joke as far as the Old Testament portions of the TNIV are concerned. Other than the global change from generic masculine to inclusive language, the NIV was left pretty much untouched, archaic language and all.

A prime example has come to view, which is the extremely archaic phrase, "evil in his sight." This idiom is an excellent example of the sort of archaic ecclesiastical language that the NIV itself was to have long since put to rest. But look where it pops up, unchanged, in the TNIV (only relevant portions of the following verses are shown):

Numbers 32:13
The LORD's anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone.

Deuteronomy 9:18
Then once again I fell prostrate before the LORD for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water, because of all the sin you had committed, doing what was evil in the LORD's sight and so arousing his anger.

Deuteronomy 31:29
"In days to come, disaster will fall on you because you will do evil in the sight of the LORD and arouse his anger by what your hands have made."

1 Chronicles 21:7
This command was also evil in the sight of God; so he punished Israel.

Nehemiah 9:28
"But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight."

Psalm 51:4
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.

Isaiah 65:12
"You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me."

Isaiah 66:4
"They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me."

Jeremiah 18:10
and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

Jeremiah 32:30
"The people of Israel and Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth," declares the LORD.

In most of the OT passages where some form of this idiom is found, the NIV had "evil in his eyes," which the TNIV left unchanged. The one is even more archaic than the other, being found in Wycliffe's editions of the 14th century. But what is fascinating about this is that the NIV and TNIV tend to have "eyes" where the KJV has "eyes," and "sight" where it has "sight." This despite assurances from the CBT that the NIV was a completely new translation, not a revision of the KJV--and that the TNIV gives a dynamic meaning to the text, not a literal equivalent--the Hebrew word being the same in either case!

It is becoming clear that today's Bible translators don't like to go to all the work of coming up with a new translation of the entire Hebrew/Aramaic Old Testament, and prefer to confine their creative energies to the Greek of the New. Thus the TNIV pretty much follows the NIV, which pretty much follows the KJV, whose partial switch to "sight" from "eyes" can be traced back to the Geneva Bible-- a switch, never brought to completion in the TNIV, from the usage of the Coverdale Bible, which in much of the OT portion, like Wycliffe's editions, was based on the Vulgate of Jerome.

Here we are reminded of that immortal poem by Sam Walter Foss:

One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.

Since then three hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day,
By a lone dog that passed that way.
And then a wise bell-wether sheep,
Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep;

And drew the flock behind him too,
As good bell-wethers always do.
And from that day, o'er hill and glade.
Through those old woods a path was made.

And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about;
And uttered words of righteous wrath,
Because 'twas such a crooked path.

But still they followed - do not laugh -
The first migrations of that calf.
And through this winding wood-way stalked,
Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane,
that bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load,

Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half,
They trod the footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;
And this, before men were aware,
A city's crowded thoroughfare;

And soon the central street was this,
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half,
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout*,
Followed the zigzag calf about;
And o'er his crooked journey went,
The traffic of a continent.

A hundred thousand men were led,
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;
For thus such reverence is lent,
To well-established precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach,
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind,
Along the calf-paths of the mind;
And work away from sun to sun,
To do what other men have done.

They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.

They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move.
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!

Ah! many things this tale might teach -
But I am not ordained to preach.

*Archaic: a company or band of people; horde

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Phone rates down, paper costs up: How computing has changed since 1969

The White Man doesn't typically comment on the big news of the day, but I can't pass up an opportunity to highlight how things have changed in the 28 years since I first laid eyes on a personal computer.

This was the situation then:

Even at weekend rates, it cost $10 to keep the phone line open for the time it took to download the daily newspaper--text-only, of course. But a hard copy of the paper cost only a quarter. So who was going to pay 40 times as much for today's news, minus all the black-and-white photos?

This is the situation now:

Every major newspaper, and virtually all minor ones if they're owned by a nationwide chain, has a free online edition. At the most you have to register to get the day's news, and there's no lack of places to go to see not only full-color photos, but usually video coverage as well. You can even go one better and watch the same raw feed that the newsrooms used to get by teletype and facsimile machine. Your cost? A broadband connection to the internet, with unlimited download time, costs as much as a monthly phone bill, minus the long distance. And long distance is practically free. Even downloading the paper at 1¢ a minute for two hours would cost you less than the weekend edition in hard copy.

The result? Major newspapers are going out of print, and probably half of them will be gone within 5 years.

In between these 2 extremes are 28 years of changes in the way people get their news. These changes were totally foreseeable 50 years ago, except that instead of talking into a 2-way TV on his wrist, Dick Tracy now downloads Youtube content onto a web-capable IPOD that he carries in his pocket.

Here's another prediction of how the internet will change our lives, circa 1969:

Alas, in 1969, the home computer was not yet--although that was the year the Internet was invented, so the prophets could have been a bit more accurate, especially had they foreseen that computing would move beyond its dependence upon a printer for output.

So--what trends can we see now that should alert us to changes coming in the near future?

Friday, 20 March 2009

Religious Test for Office Revisited

In an earlier post, I invoked the clause "religious test of office" in reference to the editorial policies of a scientific journal. Of course, the original application of the phrase was to the Test Acts enacted by the British Parliament in the aftermath of The Gunpowder Plot, the 17th century version of 9/11. Since Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were all Catholics, it was thought that eliminating Catholics from public office would help to protect the country from terrorists.

The Test Act of 1673 required the following oath of all public officials:

"I, __, do declare that I do believe that there is not any transubstantion in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, or in the elements of the bread and wine, at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsovever."

The oath was later greatly embellished in hopes of catching all superstitious Catholics in addition to just the honest ones. But no one could ever figure out an oath that would suffice to entrap the Catholics who were both good at lying about their deeply held beliefs, and not afraid of any penalty for doing so. And so The Test fell out of favor.

But The Religious Test for office still works to exclude from public office those who are openly opposed the the State Religion, as well as those who refuse to take the Oath of Loyalty for any reason whatsoever.

So, The Test of Office has now been reduced to how one responds when asked "The Question" in a media interview.

As reported in Little Green Footballs, Phil Plait recently had this to say about Canadian Science Minister Gary Goodyear's refusal to answer The Question in a religiously appropriate matter:

"Religion is irrelevant only if it doesn’t affect the job."

Of course. And nobody wants a heretic running the state church. But in America, where LGF is published, the Constitution doesn't allow for a state church, or the federal persecution of heretics. And in pursuit of that end, it specifically disallows any a religious test for public office:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
--Article VI Section 3

The problem is, a no-religious-test-for-office policy only works in a secular government, with secular goals. Once a government takes on a religious nature, with doctrinal objectives, protection from heretical thinking becomes paramount. The fact that Charles Johnson and so many others find it anathema to appoint any scientist to head the Science Ministry who questions Darwinian Orthodoxy proves that the idea of a secular government has failed. The Founding Fathers of the American Republic, who attributed to "Their Creator" the very rights they sought to protect in its Founding Documents, would not be able to pass the religious test for public office that Charles Johnson proposes: You Can't Have Any Religious Beliefs That Affect Your Job--Especially Beliefs That Darwin May Have Had It All Wrong.

Were it not for the religious beliefs of America's Founding Fathers--beliefs that affected how they drew up the Charter by which American Jurisprudence would be regulated in perpetuity--there would be no First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . . .

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

A Thought for the Penny

In this blog post I predicted "the demise of the penny coming by the end of a second Obama administration." This is an inevitable result of the demonetization of the dollar, which took place from 1933 to 1971. The only question is, how soon will it happen? Even before Obama was elected, it became clear that he intended to print his way out of this credit crisis, and that spells bad news for the penny.

Well, as it turns out the idea is already starting to take hold. This blog reports on a city that has already tried to abolish it--I don't know how well they've done, but as the entry points out, pennies are no longer legal tender at tollbooths.

Stand by. Right now copper is pretty cheap in terms of dollars, but once that disparity is rectified, the penny is a goner. And it will probably happen overnight.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Revving up the killing machine

Figure This one out. Research funding which was provided by President Bush has been cut off by President Obama. Research funding cut off by President Bush has been funded by President Obama. Guess which one saves lives, and which one kills?

ETA: This appears to have been somewhat of a misunderstanding. For a full explanation, see this video:

Saturday, 14 March 2009

The TNIV and God's sword in the heavens

My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens;
see, it descends in judgment on Edom,
the people I have totally destroyed.

So reads the NIV at Isaiah 34:5. And the TNIV? It reads the same. For comparison, here is the reading of the KJV, the version the NIV was meant to replace.

For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.

Notice several things here. The impetus behind the NIV was that the language of the KJV was so quaint and antiquated that no one could be expected to take it seriously. The impetus behind the TNIV was that the NIV needed to speak the language of today's young people. But how will the phrase "My sword has drunk its fill" come across to the young person of today as anything but hopelessly antiquated? And that's being generous; how can a sword 'drink'? Or for that matter, what damage will it be able to do even in Edom, if God has already totally destroyed the people there?

Well, that's poetic language, they say. Yes, but whose poetic language? The Hebrew says nothing about 'drinking its fill'. How much does a sword have to drink to be full, anyway?

Here is a literal translation of the Hebrew Masoretic text:

For soaked in the heavens was My sword, Lo, on Edom it come[s] down, On the people of My curse for judgment. --Young's

This Hebrew word can be understood to mean 'bathed','soaked', 'filled', or 'got drunk'. So they are only stretching the rules a little bit to combine two different meanings. But there's a major problem with any of these meanings: On WHAT in heaven is God's sword getting sloshed? Heaven is not a place of judgment. But aha, here is what the Syriac version reads at this verse:

For my sword shall be sharpened in heaven; behold, it shall come down upon the Edomites and upon a people that is condemned in judgment. --Lamsa

Well, now, that makes a whole lot more sense. Actually even Lamsa was stretching things a bit here, as the word tithgalli just means 'drawn'. The whole point of the verse is that God is getting out His sword in heaven, and actually wielding it in Edom. And that's how it would make sense to today's young person, who may have never owned or even used a sword, but certainly knows the difference between drawing and drinking.

The CBT, who thought nothing of following the Syriac over the Hebrew elsewhere, missed out on a major opportunity to improve this portion of the NIV text. Apparently they don't expect today's young person to actually read the whole book of Isaiah.

Well, all of The White Man's young adults have read through not just the book of Isaiah, but the whole Bible--just not in any iteration of the NIV.

Added on March 20, 2009

Rather than make a new post, I thought I'd add another example of what inspired that last sentence:

Isaiah 37: 29 NIV=TNIV
Because you rage against me
and because your insolence has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
and I will make you return
by the way you came.

Now, everybody knows that today's young person does not wear hooks in his nose, or bits in his mouth. But though he may very well wear a stud in both places, that's not what this verse is talking about, and the CBT knows it. It's referring to two different ways of controlling cattle: either a ring through the nose, or a bit in the mouth, in either case attached to a lead so as to guide the animal where the driver, not the animal, wants it to go. Both are still used in the Mideast in much the same way they were in Isaiah's day.

So why the mention of 'hook'? One leads a stubborn bull by a ring firmly attached to his nose, not a hook that could come back out. And despite its assurances to the contrary, the CBT did not bother to put the whole NIV book of Isaiah into a language that would relate to today's young person. Instead, they did what every Bible translator since Tyndale has done: took an existing translation (in this case, obviously the KJV), and changed it to make it more marketable. But in the case of the word 'hook', their latest attempt is farther from reaching the young person of the day than was the very first English Bible, six hundred years ago:

therfor Y schal sette a ryng in thi nosethirlis, and a bridil in thi lippis

Young people in 1395 could certainly relate to the use of rings and bridles on stubborn beasts of burden. Today's young people however, reading the TNIV, are probaly more likely to think of facial piercings.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A Constitutionally Ineligible President?

Check this out--

A man is sworn in as president, while controversy swirls about his eligibility.

Was he born in a British colony? Even if not, doesn't the fact that his father was a British subject at the time of his birth make him a dual citizen?

The President not only refuses to release his birth certificate, he suppresses investigation into his past and destroys some of his own personal records.

Eventually, the controversy dies down and he is accepted as de facto president, despite lingering doubts.

Am I speaking of Barack Obama II in 2009? Well, not particularly.

I'm speaking of Chester A. Arthur in 1881.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Foreign Service Workers of the world, UNTIE!

The US Secretary of State, who occasionally gets referred to as Mrs. Clinton, although that is not now nor ever has been her legal name, has goofed big time.

In an effort to show the Obama administration's desire for Change, she presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a "reset button" that may have passed OSHA inspection, but didn't pass muster with the Russian press. Why? Well, in an attempt to express the idea of 'reset' in both languages, the gag included what was thought to be the right Russian word. Apparently, like Templeton the Rat, they went looking for a good word and found one on a circuit breaker in the American Embassy, because the word actually means 'overload.'

Five Hundred Russian Linguists trained at the Defense Language Institute, and they never consulted a one of them for the correct rendering. And they didn't even write it in Cyrillic characters!

Yeah, we got Change, all right.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Child killer prosecuted in Florida

A few weeks ago I reported on the unusual case in Florida where The legislature initiated prosecution of a homicide.

It evoked the following comment by 'sjc' which I give here in italics, with my own comments interspersed.
Actually you probably don't see this elsewhere because it isn't true. Notice the article ONLY references its own website for more info. Notice too that the facts don't make sense

This is rather sobering that sjc would still, as of March 6th, think this was a made up story, when it now being followed by:

The South Florida Times
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel
The Miami New Times
Buffalo News
The Tallahassee Democrat
Just to name some American news outlets.

It's made international news as well, with articles in
Diario Las Americas
ACI Prensa

O Globo

Avortiment IVG



Dagelijk Sesstandaar

To name a few.

Suspect claim: The doctor only showed up after the baby was born
Abortions are NOT performed that late in pregnancy. There is 0 chance that she was there for a legal abortion and the baby was born.

Fact: abortions are performed at all stages of pregnancy, from several hours after conception to the moment of birth.

This sounds to me like yet another made up story with no other purpose than to sicken people and give them an incorrect view of what actually goes on in the world.

But it isn't.

There is probably no news here at all. If this really happened, and the police were at all involved, it would be ALL OVER the news.

Yes, it should be, but that was the whole point of me posting it. Sooner or later it will get picked up by everybody else, should the case result in a conviction for Second Degree Murder.

This one doesn't pass the stink test at all.

Hmm. . . and it was even covered a whole month ago by the Huffington Post!

I rest my case. Thanks, sjc, for your comment. I hope you take the time to closely examine my response.