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Posts Tagged ‘Bible

“Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish”*…

 

… and sometimes, it turns out, the reverse is true:

About 20 per cent of the United States population (60 million out of 300 million people) are non-native speakers of English. Speaking multiple languages has advantages – for example, you get to talk to people from different cultures. But being a non-native or second-language (L2) speaker also has its challenges. In addition to often feeling self-conscious about their accents, L2 speakers can be viewed by native speakers as less intelligent, and less trustworthy.

Thus it might come as a surprise that, in 1980, Henry Kissinger (the former US secretary of state and a non-native English speaker, originally from Germany) told Arianna Huffington (the Greek immigrant and entrepreneur/writer who would eventually start The Huffington Post) not to worry about [her] accent, ‘because you can never, in American public life, underestimate the advantages of complete and total incomprehensibility’…

We can think of the errors in non-native English as a noisier language model than a native-speaker model. Listeners expect more errors and are therefore more likely to think that L2 speakers mean something sensible when they say something implausible. But if a native speaker says something nonsensical, listeners are more likely to take them literally, because they know their language model has less noise. Kissinger was advising Huffington that, given her accent, listeners would likely give her the benefit of the doubt…

An MIT cognitive scientist explains “The unexpected benefits of getting lost in translation.”

* Euripides, The Bacchae

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As we filter signal from noise, we might recall that it was on this date in 1535 that The Bible, that is the Holy Scripture of the Old and New Testament, faithfully translated into English— better known as the Coverdale Bible— came off the press in Antwerp.  Prepared by Myles Coverdale, it was the first complete Modern English translation of the Bible (not just the Old Testament or New Testament), and the first complete printed translation into English (using William Tyndale‘s New Testament work together with Coverdale’s own translations from the Latin Vulgate or German text).

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Written by LW

October 4, 2017 at 1:01 am

“I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way”*…

 

Michelangelo Caetani’s “Cross Section of Hell,” an illustration of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and part of Cornell University’s P.J. Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography (“more than 800 maps intended primarily to influence opinions or beliefs – to send a message – rather than to communicate geographic information”).

An enlargeable version of the Cross Section is here; browse the full collection here.

* Robert Frost

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As we ruminate on repentance, we might note that today is the Feast Day of  Lucifer– more properly, of St. Lucifer of Caligari.  At least, it’s his feast day in Sardinia, where he’s venerated.  Lucifer, who was a 4th century bishop fierce in his opposition to Arianism, is considered by some elsewhere to have been a stalwart (if minor) defender of the orthodoxy; but by more to have been an obnoxious fanatic.

“Lucifer” was in use at the time as a translation of the the Hebrew word, transliterated Hêlêl or Heylel (pron. as HAY-lale), which means “shining one, light-bearer.”  It had been rendered in Greek as ἑωσφόρος (heōsphoros), a name, literally “bringer of dawn,” for the morning star.  The name “Lucifer” was introduced in St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, roughly contemporaneously with St. Lucifer.  The conflation of “Lucifer” with “Satan” came later.

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Written by LW

May 20, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Every day sees humanity more victorious in the struggle with space and time”*…

 

Contact: A hundred years before iconic figures like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs permeated our lives, 60 years before Marshall McLuhan proclaimed media to be “the extensions of man,” an Irish-Italian inventor laid the foundation of the communication explosion of the 21st century. Guglielmo Marconi was arguably the first truly global figure in modern communication. Not only was he the first to communicate globally, he was the first to think globally about communication. Marconi may not have been the greatest inventor of his time, but more than anyone else, he brought about a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.

Today’s globally networked media and communication system has its origins in the 19th century, when, for the first time, messages were sent electronically across great distances. The telegraph, the telephone, and radio were the obvious precursors of the Internet, iPods, and mobile phones. What made the link from then to now was the development of wireless communication. Marconi was the first to develop and perfect a practical system for wireless, using the recently-discovered “air waves” that make up the electromagnetic spectrum…

An excerpt from Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World by Marc Raboy. Oxford University Press.  Via “How Marconi Gave Us the Wireless World.”

* Guglielmo Marconi

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As we tweak the dial, we might recall that, thanks to a handwritten note by illustrator Heinrich Cremer, we know that the final binding of the Gutenberg Bible took place on this date in 1456.

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Written by LW

August 24, 2016 at 1:01 am

“ANT: model to cite in front of a spendthrift”*…

 

We tend to think of ants, and other social insects such as bees and termites, as busy little workers, but it turns out some of them may actually be quite lazy.

A study (paywall) conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona observed five colonies of Temnothorax rugatulus—a common ant species found across western Canada and the United States—and tracked their movements for three random days over a three weeks. Before they began their observations, they painted certain ants so they could track their individual activities. The team recorded five-minute videos of the colonies at four-hour intervals, and categorized the type of work they were doing at a given time.

They were surprised to find that almost half of the ants were actually fairly inactive throughout the day. While their counterparts busied themselves with nest-building or foraging, these ants were “effectively ‘specializing’ on inactivity,” according to the paper…

More at “Scientists say many worker ants are actually super lazy.”  See also, “News: Ants Don’t Actually Work that Hard.”

[Image above, from here]

* Gustave Flaubert, Dictionary of Accepted Ideas

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As we learn by example, we might recall that it was on this date in 4004 BCE that the Universe was created… as per calculations by Archbishop James Ussher in the mid-17th century.

When Clarence Darrow prepared his famous examination of William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes trial [see here], he chose to focus primarily on a chronology of Biblical events prepared by a seventeenth-century Irish bishop, James Ussher. American fundamentalists in 1925 found—and generally accepted as accurate—Ussher’s careful calculation of dates, going all the way back to Creation, in the margins of their family Bibles.  (In fact, until the 1970s, the Bibles placed in nearly every hotel room by the Gideon Society carried his chronology.)  The King James Version of the Bible introduced into evidence by the prosecution in Dayton contained Ussher’s famous chronology, and Bryan more than once would be forced to resort to the bishop’s dates as he tried to respond to Darrow’s questions.

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Ussher

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Written by LW

October 23, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Some people have a way with words, and other people…oh, uh, not have way”*…

 

A few times each decade, the number of acceptable Scrabble words grows. Some sixty-five hundred new words—“lolz,” “shizzle,” and “blech” among them—will officially enter one of the two major competitive Scrabble lexicons on September 1st of this year. The grumbling that results when a word list lengthens is not so much about the inclusion of obscene or offensive words—though a cleaned-up list was controversially published in 1996, after someone protested the inclusion of “jew” as a verb. Instead, it is more about the growing divide between two Scrabble communities: North America and everywhere else…

The history of everyone’s favorite word game– and an explanation of the controversy roiling it today– at “The battle over Scrabble’s dictionaries.”

* Steve Martin

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As we reach for a triple-letter double-word combo, we might recall that, while February 23rd, 1455 is the traditionally-given date of the publication of the Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed from movable type, the first evidence-based date is this date in 1456: the copy in the Bibliothèque nationale de France contains a note from the binder establishing the time of its publication.

(The Jikji— the world’s oldest known extant movable metal type printed book– was published in Korea in 1377.  Bi Sheng created the first known moveable type– out of wood– in China in 1040.)

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Written by LW

August 24, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people”*…

 

If Marx is right, then Tim Holman is doing his bit to fight back: the site pictured above in just one of the myriad one can find at Tim’s The Useless Web.

* Karl Marx

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As we ponder, then pivot from pointlessness, we might recall that it was on this date in 1536 that William Tyndale was strangled then burned at the stake for heresy in Antwerp.  An English scholar and leading Protestant reformer, Tyndale effectively replaced Wycliffe’s Old English translation of the Bible with a vernacular version in what we now call Early Modern English (as also used, for instance, by Shakespeare). Tyndale’s translation was first English Bible to take advantage of the printing press, and first of the new English Bibles of the Reformation.  Consequently, when it first went on sale in London, authorities gathered up all the copies they could find and burned them. But after England went Protestant, it received official approval and ultimately became the basis of the King James Version.

Ironically, Tyndale incurred Henry VII’s wrath after the King’s “conversion” to Protestantism, by writing a pamphlet decrying Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon.  Tyndale moved to Europe, where he continued to advocate Protestant reform, ultimately running afoul of the Holy Roman Empire, which sentenced him to his death.

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Written by LW

October 6, 2014 at 1:01 am

“And he made the holy anointing oil, and the pure incense of sweet spices, according to the work of the apothecary”*…

 

“The Anointing of David,” from the Paris Psalter, 10th century (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris).

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The Bible includes various plants that are used often and deemed holy. Some of these plants are psychedelic while others have medical qualities. Both the new and old testament mention the use of these plants in religious purpose. Jesus used shamanic techniques to help establish a stable religion in the name of God.

Holy Anointing Oil

Leviticus 10:6 And Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his sons, “Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the people. But let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord has kindled.7 You shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses. John 12:3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Exodus 29:7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head and anoint him.

Holy Anointing Oil according to the bible
Pure myrrh, 500 shekels (about 6 kg)
Sweet cinnamon, 250 shekels (about 3 kg)
Calamus, 250 shekels (about 3 kg)
Cassia, 500 shekels (about 6 kg)
Olive oil, one hin (3.7 Liters)

The holy anointing oil is a potent psychedelic extract. The 18 kg of plant material that is extracted into 3.7 liters of olive oil yields a potent essential oil. The holy anointing oil is essentially an anxiolytic-hallucinogen…

For more on how Holy Anointing Oil works, and for a run-down of other hallucinogens in the Holy Book, see “Psychoactive Plants in the Bible.”

* Exodus 37:29

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As we study the Scriptures more closely, we might recall that it was on this date in 1582 that Britain’s second-best-known magician, the necromancer Edward Kelley, first met the best-known: the  mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee.

While Dee’s most important legacy was his rich series of contributions to the development of modern science (and his coining of the word “Brittannia” and the phrase “British Empire”), Dee might also be remembered as the man who, while trading on his fame as a sage, served abroad as a spy for the Queen– and signed his reports “007”…  thus inspiring Ian Fleming’s trade-naming of James Bond.

Dee and Kelley

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Written by LW

March 10, 2014 at 1:01 am

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