Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sinko de Julio

Nobody can deny that Christianity has played some role in the history of the USA. From the first Thanksgiving to the socialist ideals of Jesus Christ, our culture today owes Christianity and the Bible some credit for our heritage. Even the KKK claims to be a truly Christian organization. However, much credit is distorted far from the true context.

Wingnuts think that you have to be a Christian to be patriotic, which is simply far from true. Following the more secular and socialist teachings of Jesus Christ (being charitable, loving one another, treating strangers with kindness) is what the men who founded this country had in mind.
Noah Webster was NOT a founding father. Neither were Charles Finney or a laundry list of other ass-backwards folks you might have heard about.

What some of our founding fathers did say FOLLOWS:

“If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.” - George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia (1789)

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.” - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr (1787)

"In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced, and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind.” - Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1771)

“Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.” - Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (1791)

Congress has no power to make any religious establishments.” - Roger Sherman, Congress (1789)

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack (1758)

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people build a wall of separation between Church & State." - Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Danbury Baptists (1802)

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine, The American Crisis No. V (1776)
Note: You can read Paine's whole pamphlet, where he expresses his atheistic beliefs, here.

“Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” - Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779)

"Christian establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects." - James Madison, letter to William Bradford, Jr. (1774)

"There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness." - George Washington, address to Congress (1790)

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." - James Madison, General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia (1785)

"Not in any sense..."

Saturday, June 20, 2015

It can make a person wonder...

I was driving past a strip mall - one of those diversity or "Pacific Islander" enclaves where a shoe store was having a "going out of business" sale.

One item advertised was a woman's shoe - size 12FFF.

Honey, that's not a shoe. That's a BARGE.

That shoe ain't hauling anything that would peak Cupid's interest.

You know, "Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss."

A 12FFF is a barge of freight on the way to the buffet!

Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some see beauty in WalMart!

It isn't Naru...

Just cut the SPAM!

Complete list at FORBES

Friday, June 19, 2015

Coffee entitlement...

2 days ago, I was in PEETs awaiting my Americano when a fellow, obviously speaking Hijazi on his cell phone, dropped and spilled his coffee.

Overcome with self-entitlement, he glared at the baristas - expecting them to immediately attend to his needs - and then looked at me.

I said: "Oy vey; what would Jesus say?"

One of the baristas got it and was frozen in place she so that she wouldn't burst out laughing (for the moment).

The fellow then waited his turn... for the clean-up, and the replacement.

My vote is with "None of the above."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What? Lost so many times?

Hebrew, as a modern language, is 3,000 younger than when historical "Hebrew" began - a conclusion that is by no means certain. For example, the Hebrew Selah remains a word of uncertain meaning.

The history of the Hebrew language is divided into four periods separated by 3 periods of darkness. The first period is called Biblical, Archaic, or Classical Hebrew. The Torah (Nomos) was written in this form of Hebrew. In the Torah, the language of the Hebrews is sometimes referred to as the "language of Canaan" (e.g. the Northern) or the "language of Judah (e.g. the Southern)." Biblical Hebrew had a relatively small vocabulary, with only two verb tenses (was, will be - without a present tense). This early period might have lasted until the 3rd century B.C.E. Then Hebrew was lost as a language. The united monarchy (e.g. David and Solomon) is also in question.

Hebrew didn't die in a day. As this Hebrew faded away, the people of the tribe of Jacob in the Levant began to speak Aramaic in Judah and Israel. Elsewhere, 'Jews' began to speak the local languages of the communities in which they lived.

The second period is called Mishnaic, or Rabbinic, Hebrew. Mishnaic Hebrew was never used as a spoken language, but it continued to be used for copying written documents. In particular, the Mishna, a collection of Jewish commentaries, was copied in this dialect of archaic Hebrew. This period lasted until about 200 CE. Then it was almost lost as a written language. Many words are still in doubt. Scholars debate the area ad nauseam.

The third period is called Medieval Hebrew and began in about the 6th century CE. Most of the words in Medieval Hebrew were borrowed from Greek, Spanish, Arabic and many other languages. Some words were formed by making use of older roots. Some were based on existing Hebrew vulgar words. Hebrew works were composed during this period, mainly in Spain and North Africa. This period lasted until about the 13th century CE. The Edict of Expulsion was an edict issued on 31 March 1492. Thus, Sephardic Jews who were descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain brought this dialect with them.

After Medieval Hebrew ended, the language was all but lost for about 600 years. Then came the Haskalah, or Enlightenment, a movement that emancipated Jews from their ghetto life. The Maskilim, the advocates of the Haskalah, saw Hebrew as the future of Jewish culture and looked down upon Yiddish, the Hebrew of the Jews of Eastern Europe. They went on to develop post-biblical Hebrew (e.g. not Yiddish) literature and the first Hebrew novel.

And this is where Eliezer Ben-Yehuda enters the picture to fill a void.

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda devoted his whole life to reviving a language that had not been spoken for thousands of years.

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, born Eliezer Yitzhak Perelman on January 7, 1858, in the Lithuanian village of Luzhky is the man behind Modern Hebrew. There was scattered use of an older form of Hebrew in novels and newspapers at the time of his birth. When Ben-Yehuda was young, he studied the Torah for his bar mitzvah . He was also introduced to Hebrew through classic novels, such as Robinson Crusoe, that had been translated into academic Hebrew. He was kicked out of his uncle's house for reading Robinson Crusoe. His uncle did not believe that Hebrew should be used for anything other than for religious learning and study.

Although Ben-Yehuda is best-known for reviving/inventing the Modern Hebrew language, he was also one of the first Zionists interested in making a homeland (Zion) for Jews. He had this idea twenty years before the well-known Zionist, Theodor Herzl. Ben-Yehuda felt that you couldn't have a Hebrew homeland without a Hebrew language, nor a Hebrew language without a Hebrew homeland.

Ben-Yehuda moved to Palestine. He would not allow any other language to be spoken in his house. When Eliezer and Deborah, his first wife, began having children, they stopped their children's exposure to any language other than Hebrew.

He founded and edited a weekly Hebrew newspaper called Ha-Tzvi, the Deer. Each week, he would add one new Hebrew vocabulary word. This was a word that he was either introducing or re-introducing to the world. He would then leave it up to the local people to use that word. If they did use it, it would then become part of their vernacular. Ha-Tzvi had a substantial readership that greatly appreciated this and supported the newspaper.

There were also a large number of people who opposed the newspaper. So, many of these people gathered to have the newspaper banned by the government. And many times the newspaper actually got banned. But Ben-Yehuda was able - through legal means - to restart the newspaper on several occasions. Other times restarting the paper was just an act of defiance.

Ben-Yehuda is best known for the Modern Hebrew dictionary that he created. The purpose of this dictionary was to compile all the Hebrew words that he collected or invented. Thus, the words would become accessible to scholars and other people. Ben-Yehuda's methodology for his dictionary was to go back and see if the word existed. He would search through books to try to find "lost words." Ben-Yehuda would also look to neighboring languages, borrow words that were alike in sound and form, and modify them into Hebrew. These languages were Arabic, Assyrian, Egyptian, Ethiopian and Coptic. He also searched for Canaanite and Moabite languages, which were closest to Hebrew, but nowhere to be found.

Where Ben-Yehuda could not find a Hebrew word, he would create the word. For instance, no specific word in Hebrew exists for the English word "dictionary." Jews referred to a dictionary as sefer millim, which literally means "book of words." So, Eliezer used the Hebrew word, millah, as a base and created the word, millon. Another example is the word for "journal" or "newspaper." Michtav-et, meaning "a letter of the time", was the only suitable word. But Ben-Yehuda didn't think it was sufficient. He created the word itton. But there were also some words that Ben-Yehuda created that resembled their European parents. For instance, in ancients times, there was no word for a flying machine. But as time went on, people who spoke English called it an "airplane" and people who spoke French called it an "avion." Ben-Yehuda used the Hebrew base aveer, added "on", and formed the word aveeron. Although aveeron is a Hebrew word, it does sound like airplane and avion.

Eliezer wandered from city to city searching for words while Hemda, his second wife, searched for the money to support him. Eliezer would look through books, in libraries, in different cities, and in countries for new words for his Hebrew dictionary. Although referred to as a dictionary, Ben-Yehuda's dictionary consisted of: the Hebrew word; the translation into French, German, and English; references in Arabic, Assyrian, Aramaic, Greek and Latin; synonyms, antonyms, origins, explanation of construction, comparison words in other Semitic languages, the changes it might have undergone; its known nuances, shades, forms, inflections and uses; and examples of its uses. The finished dictionary took 50 years to create and became sixteen volumes.

Ben Yehuda influenced the pronunciation of Hebrew. He felt that if he was reviving a language, he should have everyone pronouncing the Modern Hebrew words in the same way. Ben-Yehuda favored Sephardic pronunciation over the Ashkenazic. Ashkenazi Hebrew resembles an Eastern dialect of Syriac while Sephardi Hebrew resembles the Western (e.g. Eastern Syriac Peshitta v. Western Syriac Peshito). Speakers of modern Hebrew are most likely speaking with the Sephardic or western pronunciation.

The Turks had control of Palestine during this time, as part of the Ottoman Empire. They opposed Ben-Yehuda's ideas, so they banned Jewish immigration into Palestine. Ben-Yehuda felt that Jews should have a right to migrate to their "Promised Land."

There was religious opposition. Many Orthodox Jews did not agree with Ben-Yehuda's ideas. They didn't think that it was "kosher" to introduce Hebrew into secular use. They didn't want biblical Hebrew being used for everyday life because it would transform the sacred into the profane.

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda died in 1922. Many people were already speaking his Hebrew and using it in their everyday life. It was Ben-Yehuda who both revived spoken Hebrew and modernized Hebrew.

Modern Hebrew is the only spoken language created from a written language. The pronunciation is a modification of that used by the Sephardic Jews rather than that of Ashkenazic Jews. Modern Hebrew is written from right to left with 22 consonants. Word roots usually consist of 3 consonants, to which vowels and other consonants are added to create different parts of speech and modulate the meaning. In 1913, Hebrew became the language of instruction in Jewish schools in Palestine. And in 1948, with the establishment of the state of Israel, Hebrew became the official state language.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

It's not about being RIGHT...

It's about being honest.

Do I honestly believe ____________________ ?


I honestly THINK that there is evidence to support the theory that this 'consciousness' is a simulation. In centuries past, René Descartes though that the world we perceive through our senses could be an elaborate hoax.

Hypothetically, could religions (e.g. belief systems) overcome reasoning (e.g. thinking)?

I think not. And, since there is no SELF, what I think matters to no one - not even me!

And I think running this simulation - and millions like it - will show that reasoning will prevail (except in some extreme instances).

And those extremes are just a small - but necessary - part of the current simulation (of 'reality'). In other simulations, they could be enhanced - or eliminated - to growingly predictable outcomes. They, like we, are unnecessary except as terms of interest in the equation.

Great thinkers were aware of this 3,000 years ago. Great believers were not aware - being submerged In their own dungeons of belief.

Even the complete and upper destruction of the biosphere may be a simulation exercise in the power of denial.

Wait, and see.