05th of April, 2014

I have been surprised by a noteworthy article by one Pat Buchanan. I didn’t know that I should care what he says, but since he is apparently a patriotic American and also a man who has realised a certain geo-political truth, I have found that link worth recording.

29th of March, 2014

From Karachi Cop, which I happened to watch:

The city is awash with weapons.
Not true. Only the Taliban and their like are armed. Note carefully the later reference to “armed gangs,” which inevitably show up when guns are for goons. Guns-are-for-goons is what gun control means. If the locals could shoot them—’cause they know them—they would have cleared their own city. I think mass-arming is a seriously under-used tool for achieving public security. You should see what happened to crime in general, and gun crime in particular, after London was disarmed. Same thing that happened in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles after they were disarmed. They see it is fine when they want to attack a neighbouring country (then they arm everyone, not worrying about the inexistent danger of everyone turning guns on everybody else), but not when attacking an internal enemy like organised crime and rape. —Then the strategy of citizen soldiers is taboo, and instead they try to disarm the lawless by passing laws of total disarmament.

Foff, modern world! Foff!

By the way, if you think they can somehow choke the arms supply of the Taliban, you need to see this to believe it:
Insane. Crazy world. You can’t stop the gun; it is here to stay. Arm the innocents and give them a chance to fight back.

28th of March, 2014

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Allah? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

20th of March, 2014

Roman Catholicism: on that day, paganism will condemn Islam in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

20th of March, 2014

The Church is blessed. Nobody has a Saviour this beautiful.

05th of February, 2014

I have some love for The Kora Jazz Trio, mainly because I ain’t never seen a Mandingo smack the piano with such profuse love for the game. But they prefer to identify themselves by the kora, and you sometimes do not understand why, as their music can often be suspiciously light on the kora. (I mean, in comparison with Ballaké Cissoko, for instance, who doesn’t call himself “Crazy Kora Soloist”.) But then a song like Dadiou happens. Taken off their second studio album, Part Two, it is an unbelievable work of improvisory kora jazz on a level that is scarcely imaginable. This kind of song marks a boundary on a genre, even a discipline. It’s that extreme in both beauty and daring. This kind of thing is why they are undeniably worthy of their name. This song is even better than Chan-chan; yes.
10th of January, 2014

One of the things I have to do this year is design a lectionary. At present, I expect to use some computer programs to distribute elements of the readings—or the readings themselves—and to build it exclusively around the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation. At present I would like to point out that I have just discovered the Girardian Lectionary, whose introduction I like. I always waved René Girard in the face of atheists during debates, and it is good to have Girard geeks expand the tradition within the safe borders of a sound Christology. It may even be that René Girard is the ultimate philosopher of our generation, like John Calvin was for his age, or Aquinas, or Augustine, or Plato, or Aristotle, or greater.

10th of January, 2014
"The Muslims knocked on our door and asked us: 'Do you have any guns?" she told me. "We said no, but they took my son out and they shot him. They shot all of our sons, one by one."
From the BBC. I doubt there will be a genocide, of course, but it is becoming a question of when-where, not if-whatever.
09th of December, 2013
That number by Paul Wilbur, Kadosh, if it could be spun around and re-sang by Yasmin Levy with the relevant elements of the Idan Raichel Project in the back …
08th of December, 2013
This is from Al-Jazeera, so cum grano salis on the spin and the reason for it:

But the questions remain, even as Mandela misses yet another quick genocide:
  1. For how much longer will Africans in particular buy the bullshit about citizen disarmament? It may take the World longer to recover from the lie, but Africans may recover sooner, because they are too close to reality. On the other hand, they don’t have the guns on hand.
  2. For how much longer will the crazed violence at the centre of Islam be genuinely discussed? It’s not as though death cults or war religions are a rare feature of humanity. Let’s leave aside that the Qur’an is considered sacred, and just discuss the phenomenon it inspired as we would if its occurrence were a mere hypothesis.
  3. When will Christians be granted a country and a state that is explicitly Christian, the way Muslims have Islamic states?
  4. Is martyrdom all that a Christian can offer in the face of this state of play in the World? Is it always a good thing for a man to bear arms in favour of his highest ideal, unless that ideal happens to be Christianity (or suicidal pacifism)?

The Maccabeans at first didn’t fight on the Sabbath, so the Hellenists attacked them on a Sabbath and butchered a thousand of them. These proto-Maccabeans wouldn’t even throw a stone on the Sabbath. Soon enough, the fighters decided to fight on Sabbaths, and they got the victories they were hoping for.

Now I see in the Epistle to the Hebrews that all along God was not about the Sabbath itself, but about a rest from justification by works. It is in Christ that the Sabbath is fulfilled, and all who are in Christ fulfill the Sabbath in Him. For all the Law, something similar happens, such that a true Sabbath is achieved by faith in Christ, “for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.” The Maccabean fighters, in having faith in God, tapped into this same faith we have, and their faith was reckoned to them as righteousness. I wonder how a legalist would reconcile the miracles the Maccabeans had—that God heard them on the field of battle and then in the Temple—with the fact that they didn’t keep Sabbath. If it seems too similar to John 9:24, you see where I am headed.

Maybe Christian pacifism has been turned into an excuse for apathy. It has been used to give us a hard law, a yoke that enslaves us yet again. I think the new reformation should be about this issue. Maybe Christianity is made invalid by having power. Maybe the Cross cannot be allowed the power to execute, lest it profane the symbol. But the truth is that, in light of the reality of the militancy of Islam, those who have a long-term thinking for Christendom (perhaps I should say “the New Christendom”, since I am not even talking about Europe here) should perhaps realise that we have been given the hard choices of insisting on an explicitly (perhaps even constitutionally) Christian country/nation-state the way the Jews have their own, or being incapable of offering an alternative to martyrdom for the many people who are actually in danger of death because they happen to be Christians.

07th of December, 2013
I recently complained about how I was still being faced with TeX to do typesetting. But I have since come to learn of the features in CSS3, for paged media. I’ve already tested out the ones that I now know to be available in CSS2, but I am hoping to rely on a CSS3 renderer that supports paged media well. (These days browsers are ahead of the specs, so … yeah.) In fact I have had fun finding out about things like PrinceXML and their features.
It is an interesting experience, when you start towards a translation of the Bible. In my case, I have had to create lots of throw-away scripts (in Ruby), generating data analyses on my sources. Where other people use textual critical tools (NA28, for instance), I am instead considering the original already settled and I build translation tools and aids around that original. You will soon be thanking God I am not a KJV-only type.

For starters, when you do not have a committee of Bible scholars—let’s say you are Tyndale, or Luther—and you have to make a translation of the Bible, you have to rely on inspiration by the Holy Spirit to keep your Bible true. That is why these men of old who copied manuscripts and did translations were simple yeomen, but they got us our Bible perfectly intact, from goat-herds writing on vellum, via prisoners writing on parchment and revolutionaries pressing on paper, to geeks programming Ruby.

When you do not have a committee, you need the Holy Spirit. And the methods of the Spirit are generally more interesting and wild—like the wind, “you hear it blow here and there, but you know not where it comes from or where it goes.”
So it is in that way that I find myself building these tools. The most-important, one a small database I generated from the sources, is a list of the words that occur in the Bible, with their codes for the Strong’s Concordance, sorted by the number of times they are used (commonest-first), and all the references to them, by verse. No wonder it is 1.4MB in size (a whole floppy disk).

In working on the translation, I have already come to a few conclusions about modern Bible translation.
First, focus on Koine Greek. This is simply because now one doesn’t need to know two ancient languages (Koine Greek and Hebrew) in order to be a scholar of the whole Bible. For today you find that if one specialises in Koine Greek, such a one is generally lost from the Old Testament. Or if one specialises in Hebrew, such a one is also generally lost from the New Testament. This is completely unnecessary, given that authoritative and relevant Koine Greek translations of the Old Testament exist. The problem is that they are considered inferior to the Hebrew-language Old Testaments, even by Christians.

“Even by Christians,” because the Septuagint (the Greek-language Old Testament) is what is quoted in the entirely-Greek-language New Testament. More-interestingly, some parts of the Hebrew-language Old Testament—Messianic prophecies, to be precise—are at serious variance with the parallel parts in the Greek-language Old Testament. It turns out that, due to textual criticism, manuscript archæology (the Dead Sea Scrolls), and historical witness, we now know the Greek-language Old Testament (i.e., the Septuagint) to be truer to the original sources. As a result, you find that quotations of the Old Testament, when found in the New Testament, they read differently from the common Old Testament (Hebrew-language), but true to the Septuagint. Therefore, by witness of the infallible New Testament as well, the Septuagint is an accurate Old Testament. The Masoretic Text on which is based the common Hebrew-language Old Testament is at least 600 years younger than the New Testament, unlike the Septuagint which is from about 200 years before Christ.

We have settled the question of the Old Testament, and we have found that one need not know more than just Koine Greek to do the most fruitful Bible scholarship from the original sources.
But this exposes an interesting fact: an inspired translation can become the authoritative copy of the Bible. Philo considered the translators of the Septuagint to have been prophets, and it was at the time accepted that the translators had been divinely inspired. Stories of scholarly miracles surrounded this translation, the Septuagint. We know that the Septuagint is an inspired translation.

Another poorly-understood inspired translation is the King James Version. God was preparing a new Koine Greek (which is English), a language that would be spoken by the majority of the educated World, to be the international language. And he chose a Bible in that language, and inspired it. This is the King James Version. Therefore it is not idly that other languages, having come into contact with Christianity and desired to have a Bible, have been able to copy from an inspired translation without need to learn the Greek. The first Luganda Bible was a translation from the King James Version, and this is the case for many other translations. I do not endorse the KJV-only movement, but on this fundamental issue I agree with them.

One interesting upside of this widespread nature of the KJV is that it was used in the most-beautiful of the Protestant reformations—the Scottish Reformation—and also that it got to be read in full by many people everywhere. It excelled in particular by favouring the Majority Text for the New Testament, so that we know the upper limits of the inspired glosses that can be in the New Testament. In 1894, a version of the Textus Receptus was prepared by Frederick Scrivener, as a back-port from the KJV. This TR1894 is the inspired Greek sources of the New Testament. (Scrivener was such a poor tool to use for generating the inspired text of the KJV, because as a person his flesh was too weak for this job, but with the Holy Spirit that is another story.) The thing that is inspired about the KJV, which is read by everyone and preserved in the TR1894, is that it is the upper limit to glosses on the New Testament. Glosses of meaning in the New Testament, as preserved by KJV/TR1894 can be borrowed arbitrarily. But if they are glosses, we have to know what they are glosses of. We have to know the minimum, if the TR1894 is the maximum.

The critical work done by the earthen vessels to produce the Westcott-Hort version of the New Testament resulted in the minimum of the New Testament. This is why they worked with the overbearing assumption that the more-accurate version of the New Testament would be the smaller version. This is not true, of course, since some ancients may have paraphrased liberally, or copied out only certain chunks of the New Testament. Nevertheless, the search was not for the ultimate New Testament, but rather the minimum version of it. So we know that the New Testament is found somewhere between Westcott-Hort on the lower side, and TR1894 on the upper side.

Now since Westcott-Hort there have been versions of Nestlé-Aland, which are trying to find a new minimum. Perhaps they or someone else will find it. Nevertheless, until a prophet shows up and points it out to us (and it may well be NA27), we have only Westcott-Hort as the inspired minumum.
Now the only assuredly worthwhile critical work is such as will establish a source from the between Westcott-Hort and TR1894.
My translation is initially based on the Westcott-Hort, and as time goes on, we will borrow christological glosses from the TR1894. The TR1894 will be bracketed in along the Westcott-Hort, where necessary. The result would be a new “critical” work, and a new inspired version.

By now you may have noticed that we have a Greek-language Old Testament that is inspired (the Septuagint, in particular the Codices Alexandrinus, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus) and a Greek-language New Testament that is inspired (Westcott-Hort/TR1894). So Bible scholars only need learn the Koine Greek, and they will be scholars able to bring forth treasures from both the Old and the New, and be able to bring forth a translation from those two sources. This is what I am doing.

So far, I have come to where I have generated the tools for such a scholarly work. The dictionaries of the Greek and English, the frequency counts of the words, and the linking of every word to the verse where it occurs.
The first result of this will probably be the Koine English version of the Bible that I promised. I have got to the point where I can generate an entire Bible with the Greek words replaced by Strong’s Concordance code along with the classification of the word from the original. That intermediate language is important, because any dictionary can be keyed to Strong’s Concordance, and then an algorithm forces a 1:1 correspondence between the words of one language and the words of the Greek original. Since this is an automated process, the words would almost certainly not be of a normal human language, since they would have been mechanically and mathematically generated with the goal of being a more-understandable perfect equal of a dead language. It would be a mathematical Koine English. Hopefully, the version I would release as the Koine English version would be more-natural, but that is just a hope.

Bonus: In Koine Greek, you cannot say the above sentence “Hopefully … but that is just a hope.” The word often translated as “hope” in the New Testament—it is impossible that such “hope” can disappoint. It is more-appropriate to use the English word “expectation”, which is why Paul says “Now hope does not disappoint.” In Koine English, we still may use the word “hope” (such that in the mathematical version, the past tense turns out to be “hope’d”, as in hoped), the meaning of “hope” would have to be found in the rest of the writings, because it would have been used consistently only where that word was used in the document, rather than based on what our society understands by “hope.” So you see, we find that it would be an intelligible language whose meaning is otherwise entirely worked out from the Scriptures themselves, based on the context of other occurrences of a particular word. This is both how we learn any language and also how W.V.O. Quine realised The Indeterminacy of Translation[1]. Now putting a word in context doesn’t have to be difficult; usually for a fruitful hermeneutic, you only need to show that the Spirit used the same word, whatever the word, in two different places, in order to legitimately link them.

Now, the true problem with this scheme is that too many people are unaware of how the Spirit works, in spite of John 3. They expect that inspired translation is only done by scholars who have a visible halo on their MacBooks. Inspired translation is not done by humans, but by God. When the Holy Spirit inspires a translation, it can be a farmer doing the task, and it will still be inspired. —And inspired documents are important not for how perfect they are in the eyes of the humans, but for how perfect they are in the eyes of God. The Bible itself, after all, is a prophecy of how the Word became flesh; “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” Those who toss themselves wholly onto the Scriptures will find that they are walking on 70,000 fathoms of water. It is hard to explain, but when we observe the hand of the Holy Spirit in a translation—when we respect the work of the infallible God as He has been pleased to do it through fallible men, and we recognise the priceless treasure in these jars of clay—this faith is counted for us a righteousness, and God honours our faith in His word.

Therefore this our faith in the inspiredness of our version, down to the word frequency and character placement, is rewarded by God in terms of Him keeping the promises that He provided in the text we have so reverently been guardians of, and also by making fruitful the mystical study of the text characteristics (such as word frequency, placement, ambiguity, semantic tension, and other masorah in the text) to reward those who have loved His word above other things. When a document is inspired by God, as is our Bible, nothing is by accident. As a result, even the “accidents” and “errors” are all well-intended. I warned you; you have to be a fideist for this. Certainly we have no text with which to “correct” the Septuagint, because it is more-ancient than any other text we have.

The selection of what source text to use will similarly have to be based on faith, and can progress on internal counsel, even as the professionals ask why we didn’t set up a large committee to achieve this end. We know that alone with God we are greater than the entire World. “Greater is His who is in you, than the devil that is in the World,” even though “we know that the whole World lies under the sway of the Evil One.” God will not have to wait for university degrees. “I will remove them and destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will hide.” —By the way, that quote in 1 Corinthians 1 is perfectly in agreement with the Septuagint versions, both the NETS of Prof. Pietersma and Brenton’s more-available translation, even though the Masoretic Text reflects later divergences on such prophecies. (The Masoretic bears a history of the theological strife between Jews and Christians, being a representative of the Jewish emendations. The Septuagint predates Christians.)

The first task I see before me today is to bring the chapter and verse numbering of the Septuagint into sync with the Protestant Bible.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Indeterminacy_of_translation&oldid=583561840
06th of December, 2013

Tomora - Ballaké Sissoko
I have had Ballaké Sissoko’s album Tomora for a long time, but today I appreciate much more the subtleness of the title track. Ballaké is generally much better at the delicate pieces than the obvious other, Toumani Diabaté.

On the one hand, the Muslims are killing the Christians who preceded them.
On the other hand, Christians are banning Islam. The Christians are being gentle, I say. I want Angolan citizenship!
24th of November, 2013

These are brilliant rings from Vanessa Australia, eh?

Very nice.

15th of November, 2013
Typesetting must be very difficult stuff to do right, because when you run a check on the ‘Net today, you find the same software we endured decades ago. MacTex is more than 2 gigabytes; I don’t download that only to suffer with it. The troff derivatives are only for weird people, as they always were.
The easy typesetting is HTML, but that doesn’t really print well. Maybe we should just endure that and keep using HTML.

05th of November, 2013
We will open this one with Slavic bluntness.

Rude Russians:

Irate Iranians:

‘Eckling Economists:
Note: That man, Paul Krugman, is a Nobel-winning defendant of the current market-worshipping economic system. If economics is the dismal science, he’s the superlative among the orthodox dismal scientists. In this argument, for instance, he pretends that the yen’s current fate would still have been good if it had been the reserve currency of the World. He doesn’t note that Japan’s currency is on a dollar standard, which is why it has 1 trillion of them, just behind China. The rules cannot be moved back and forth like that. No wonder he never saw the Great Recession coming. The court priests apparently don’t know of the peasants’ hunger. See how he is now encouraging putting problems off “a decade or two,” which they will probably do. Or so I hope. Clever Boomers have made the pre-Millennials fight their wars against the Chinese and then pay their debts to the Chinese. If I were sixty in America, I’d support it too!

It seems the Pacific peoples can start re-learning an ancient omen that warned of earthquakes. Before yesterday’s earthquake and tsunami at Fukushima, there had been some ominous stuff … Those are Shinto omens, and every culture has its omens. I’m sure the Native Americans, if they were around, would have understood the “moose die-off disorder”. Every tradition has its own spin.

Arrogant Arabs:

Only their enemies say such things, of course. The funny thing, though, is that America could recover and gain another few decades. I think it got worse than this in the ‘70s, and they came back. I see no fuel queues this time.
Nevertheless, there is a sickness unto death, and perhaps a few cases of force majeure to toss the whole thing into the dump.

In the meantime, I have just installed the new Mac OS X Mavericks.

I think I like it already. Notice how their list of “advanced technologies” are just … a smart way to scrape the bottom. In the past, they just doubled disk size and bragged, or made the processor faster and bragged. Now … These are how it came to be that the Romans were insisting on their welfare payments (the famous “bread and circus” dole) while the empire was in a headlong dive. Collapse doesn’t seem to make Miley Cyrus any less interesting to us.
26th of October, 2013
Is this strike of truckers in America an effect, ultimately, of peak oil? And if it is, doesn’t this represent the breakdown of the most-crucial thing to Americans—diesel trucks—while the iPhones are still getting charged up?
26th of October, 2013
Apparent we are now calling the 1990s “the Naughty Nineties”. Cool name; I hadn’t had of it before.
When Apple had to brag about the coolest new technologies in the latest desktop operating system, the tagline was “OS X Mavericks is more than powerful. It’s power smart.”
Right. Because, of course, the biggest problem Apple—any technology company—faces right now is how to fit more in what we have.

If you see the page, the list of the technologies, you will see what I mean. “Timer Coalescing” where in a previous profligate age they would have let the new processor fight with that. After all, “timer coalescing” is a very old concept in kernels (and an extreme of how bad that concept can be is with the Linux OOMKiller, for instance. Same thing.)

“App Nap,” to throttle your applications. This is also not new, of course, but now it is relevant—even worth bragging about on the page that AAPL labels as “advance features”. You should also note that in the HD features, they faced the same problem (power) and solved it differently (better processor). It seems that with graphics we have not yet reached where we will be tracking eyeballs and only rendering what is being looked at. What do I mean? I mean this:

“Safari Power Saver,” to “watch-not-waste-not”, where the web browser—where most computer life is lived these days—essentially disables the things on the sides of the pages, in the hope of saving energy. (Again, this is as bad an idea as the OOMKiller was, because they are the same concept. Still, a collapsing society doesn’t get its pick of things.)

“Compressed Memory” which compresses the files you no longer access. Fine solution, clear flag of a subtly-progressing case of diminishing returns. Back then, they would have released a laptop with an order of magnitude more disk space. But limits are limits.