In place of ethics, they have rules. Size functions for them as quality functions for us. What for us is honor and dishonor, for them is winning and losing.
Religion is not the same as ethics. Religion in its fanatic state may be a passion devoid of morality that will take any means to an end.
Harold Schechter, Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men [Bookshop, Amazon]
the American version of representative government assures that such qualities of intellect and ethics as might equip a man to lead a powerful nation responsibly are precisely the qualities that would prevent him from subjecting himself to the debasing performances of vote begging and delegate swapping. It is a truism of American politics that no man who can win an election deserves to.
Trevanian, Shibumi: A Novel
Selections from the Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt by Maulana Karenga, from University of Sankore Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“The primary aim of this volume is to provide a brief representative selection of ancient Egyptian sacred literature which can serve as a readable and enjoyable reference for those interested specifically in ancient Egyptian and African sacred literature in general whether sacred or secular. In this brief selection we read the earliest written record of the dawning of humanity’s structured consciousness concerning spirituality and ethics. And we find for the first time in human history the concepts of:
· Maat (truth, justice and rightness)
· Humans in the image of God
· Human Dignity
· Judgement after death
· Immortality of the soul
· Free will
· Human equality
· Social justice” — back cover
Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth by Gananath Obeyesekere.
Obeyesekere works through a project of “comparative structural interpretation” (354), using simplified and idealized models of the processes described by rebirth doctrines within and among various cultures. One of his goals is to demonstrate that reincarnation “eschatologies” are not unique to Indic religions, as is sometimes supposed. The societies that furnish Obeyesekere with ethnological data are Vedanta and Upanishadic Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism, West Africa, Trobriand, Northwest Coast Amerindians, Inuit, Tlingit, Kwakiutl, Classical Hellenism (as Pythagoreanism and Platonism), “Heterodox Islam” (as Druzes and Ismailism), and Bali. He omits the kabbalistic metempsychosis of mystical Judaism, as well as some Australian and Asian cultures of reincarnation, noting that he is especially interested in those who hold beliefs permitting cross-species rebirth of humans. This latter idea he ties to the notion of “species sentience” (his term) and relates structurally to vegetarianism, by means of an endoanthropophagy (cannibalism) taboo.
Obeyesekere distinguishes a “karmic eschatology” from the basic “rebirth eschatology” according to the presence of two features, which he groups under the process of “ethicization” of the reincarnation process. The first feature is a differentiation of post-mortem otherworld experiences based on the ethical status of the deceased. The second is the ethicization of rebirth per se, so that the ethical value of one life has the determinative effect on the identity and quality of the next life. (He notes that this latter feature correlates to a devaluation of animals, when compared to rebirth schemas that lack it.) Tied to this ethicization is the establishment of a salvation that lies outside the cycle of rebirth altogether. Obeyesekere also asserts a parallel process of “axiologization,” by which preexisting local values are conceptualized and universalized. While outlining his model of the “karmic eschatology,” he counters Western descriptions (or “inventions”) of Buddhism as essentially and originally “rational” (151 ff.).
Having constructed the model of Buddhist rebirth ideas, with reference to those of “small-scale societies,” Obeyesekere compares it to other cultures under his consideration. He also discusses instances of deviance from the model within Buddhism (e.g. 132), and variability within the other cultures. None are presented as static or uniform, but the structure(s) described by Obeyesekere serve(s) as a strange attractor around which the instances group themselves, according to “expectability” and its circumstantial thwarting. He emphasizes (e.g. 139) that “popular” features durably contradicting “pure” doctrines are as likely to be survivals from the religion’s first codification as they are to be “contaminations” from a subsequent, alien source.
He explains that his methodological goal is to demonstrate that while cultures as wholes may be “incommensurable,” comparison of important aspects or dimensions of culture can be undertaken productively. Although I found plenty of his more specific arguments questionable (often provocatively so), I think he succeeds on this most general plane of his ambition. [via]
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together …
- “Denmark starts meaty argument over animal slaughter” — Leo Benedictus, The Guardian UK’s Shortcuts Blog; from the we’ll-meet-the-meat dept.
“In most European countries, including the UK, the slaughter of an animal is considered humane only if it is stunned before having its throat cut. Muslim and Jewish rules, however, require an animal to be fully alive, healthy, and intact before being killed, and this is often interpreted to mean it must be conscious. Many Muslims and Jews insist the swift technique of ritual slaughter prevents the animal from suffering. But animal welfare activists and their supporters beg to differ. … This is far from the first flare-up over ritual slaughter.”
- Hermetic Library fellow Sam Webster quoted by The Wild Hunt, via tweet [also]; from the party-foul dept.
“A libation without a prayer is just a spilled drink.”
- Crystal Blanton quoted by The Wild Hunt, via tweet; from the inconvenient-truth dept.
“We sacrifice humans every day.”
- “Will Arizona Go the Anti-Gay Way of Uganda?” — Jay Michaelson, The Jewish Daily Forward; from the freedom-fries dept.
“‘Religious Freedom’ used to be a shield, not a sword.”
- “The ‘Religious Liberty’ Campaign May Be Backfiring For Conservatives” — Ed Kilgore, Talking Points Memo’s Cafe; from the spare-tire-and-a-muffin-top-to-go dept.
“On many fronts in the culture wars, the momentum has usually been possessed by those who can best identify themselves with the ambivalent attitudes of a mushy middle ‘swing vote'”
- “Lawsuit: Calif. Christian missions tortured mentally disabled with Bible ‘punishments’” — David Edwards, Raw Story; from the agape-has-left-the-building dept.
“Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has filed a lawsuit against two unlicensed Christian mission homes for effectively torturing mentally disabled people if they refused to attend religious services, and forcing them to live in filthy conditions.”
- “Zambia: Why Homosexuality Should Not Be Legalised in Zambia (part 4)” [no link because it’s heinous] — Charles Kachikoti, Times of Zambia via allAfrica.com; from the what-is-this-i-don’t-even dept.
“[Reason #]17. Law and Order
The mentality of homosexuals is anti-family and anti-marriage, which mindset is opposed to law and order.
Aleister Crowley (October 12, 1875 — December 1, 1947), the father of modern day Satanism, who massively promoted Satan-worship internationally, and notably so among world music stars, spoke against family and promoted homosexuality.
The mentality of his followers is therefore anti-family and anti-marriage.”
- “Witch hunting | Victims of superstition” — Ashwaq Masoodi, Livemint.com; from the she’s-got-huge-tracts-of-land dept.
“These are women who are unsupported, either because they are single or widows. It is primarily connected to land. It happens with women who are economically well-off or self-sustaining.”
- “The Last of Us” — Frank Swain, Futures Exchange; so-logically-if-she-weighs-the-same-as-a-duck-she’s-made-of-wood dept.
“They kept the [last Great Auk] tied up for three days until an ominous storm arose. Believing the bird was a witch responsible for their predicament, the men clubbed it to death.”
- How Belief In Hell Directly Benefits The Elite — Matt Staggs, Disinformation; from the but-thinking-makes-it-so dept.
“Just thinking about Hell makes people ill and out of sorts, and they don’t even have to think that it’s real. It’s worse for the true believers: Individual belief in what the researchers referred to as ‘supernatural malevolence’ (Coming soon to pay-per-view!) was associated with bad coping skills, low self-esteem and poor health resiliency.”
“Hell isn’t just a religious idea, it’s a meme; an especially toxic one that we might be primed to believe in from birth — especially if you believe those studies that suggest we’re hardwired to believe in god. Hell is such a virulent, deadly little mind-virus that even secular minds have trouble fighting it off. And it seems that there’s a vested interest in keeping it strong.”
- The Race to Save Mali’s Priceless Artifacts — Joshua Hammer, Smithsonian Magazine; from the operation-serapeion dept.
“When jihadists overran Timbuktu last year, residents mounted a secret operation to evacuate the town’s irreplaceable medieval manuscripts.”
- “The Helgo Treasure: A Viking Age Buddha” — IrishArchaeology.ie; from the a-buddhist-a-copt-and-a-catholic-walk-into-a-viking-bar dept.
“Undoubtedly the most extraordinary find discovered during the excavations at Helgo was a small, bronze Buddha. This devotional figure dates from circa the 6th century AD … probably arrived in Helgo via Swedish merchants whose eastern trade routes were concentrated along Russian rivers such as the Volga.”
“The Helgo crozier is probably of Irish origin and would have formed part of a bishop’s staff. Dating from circa the 8th century AD, it was most likely stolen during a Viking raid on Ireland and brought back to Helgo as booty.”
“… a bronze ladle whose origins lie in North Africa, probably in the vicinity of modern-day Egypt. Decorated in small punch-marks, which define a Tree-of-Life symbol, the ladle was most likely used in ceremonies associated with the early Coptic church.”
- “When the Old Gods Died: A Note on Ragnarok and Evaporating Histories” — Jeremy D Johnson, Reality Sandwich; from the a-new-heaven-and-a-new-earth dept.
“Yes, let’s build that Earth. Cast out the old gods and apocalyptic imaginaries as we work to build a new Earth, so desperately and agonizingly waiting, not for the passive, but for those ready to be born.”
- “New documents prove U.S. Army actively targeted leftist protesters, group says” — Scott Kaufman, Raw Story; from the every-breath-you-take dept.
“New records obtained by the Defending Dissent Foundation prove that the United States Army used a multi-agency spy network to gather intelligence on nonviolent, antiwar protesters and to disseminate their findings to both the FBI and local police departments.”
- “How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations” — Glenn Greewald, The Intercept; from the secret-agent-johannes-dee-007 dept.
“Using online techniques to make something happen in the real or cyber world”
- “Mapping Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters” — Marc A Smith et al., Pew Research Internet Project; from the a-place-for-everything-everything-in-its-place dept.
“Conversations on Twitter create networks with identifiable contours as people reply to and mention one another in their tweets. These conversational structures differ, depending on the subject and the people driving the conversation. Six structures are regularly observed: divided, unified, fragmented, clustered, and inward and outward hub and spoke structures. These are created as individuals choose whom to reply to or mention in their Twitter messages and the structures tell a story about the nature of the conversation.”
- “Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories” — David Comberg; from the e-stands-for-electricity dept;
- “The Shapes of Stories, a Kurt Vonnegut Infographic” — Maya Eilam; in-hoc-figura-vinces dept.
- Atlas of Management Thinking by Edward de Bono, described on the Edward de Bono website; in the can-you-draw-me-a-picture dept.
“Verbal descriptions of complex management situations are necessarily lodged in the left side of the brain. In order for us to be able to use the right side of the brain we need a repertoire of non-verbal images. That is precisely what this book sets out to provide. The images provided by drawings in this book enrich the perceptual map of the executive. The images allow him to add some right-brain thinking to his usual left-brain thinking. This makes it easier for the executive to recognise situations in a flash instead of having to build them up piecemeal.”
- “The Higgs Boson re-explained” — Jorge Cham, PHD Comics; from the hello-i-mass-be-going dept.
“Without the Higgs Field, there would be no mass terms in the equations … and everything you know would disappear in a split second.”
- “Is the Universe a Simulation?” — Edward Frenkel, The New York Times’ Gray Matter; from the faith-trust-and-pixie-dust dept.
“What kinds of things are mathematical entities and theorems, that they are knowable in this way? Do they exist somewhere, a set of immaterial objects in the enchanted gardens of the Platonic world, waiting to be discovered? Or are they mere creations of the human mind?
This question has divided thinkers for centuries. It seems spooky to suggest that mathematical entities actually exist in and of themselves. But if math is only a product of the human imagination, how do we all end up agreeing on exactly the same math? Some might argue that mathematical entities are like chess pieces, elaborate fictions in a game invented by humans. But unlike chess, mathematics is indispensable to scientific theories describing our universe. And yet there are many mathematical concepts — from esoteric numerical systems to infinite-dimensional spaces — that we don’t currently find in the world around us. In what sense do they exist?”
- “An Introduction to Landscape Theology” — David Titterington, Reality Sandwich; from the my-hair-the-trees-of-eternity dept.
“What is objective and universal may be called transpersonal, or ‘archetypal,’ in the Jungian sense; it is that more-than-human place we share with others, that ‘earthly ground of rock and soil that we share with the other animals and the plants’ (Abram 1996: 281). Merleau-Ponty: ‘My body is made of the same flesh as the world.’ Therefore, if we wish to look for the ‘real archetypes,’ we may want to pay attention to landscapes and their elements.”
- Sleep’s Hidden Histories — Benjamin Reiss. Los Angeles Review of Books [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from between-a-sleep-and-a-sleep the dept.
“Things that we do or experience in private, things we might expect to read about in novels or talk about in therapy, have now generated a hidden-histories boomlet. The best of these works not only make the familiar strange, but they make us think differently about history and its intimate relation to our own lives.”
“Sleep, on the other hand, assassinates the person who might think about it. It’s not just that it’s a stretch to imagine how our sleep connects us to other times and places; it’s that we’re not even there when it happens. Dreaming is a possible exception, since it’s sometimes recoverable by our waking selves — which is part of why dreaming has a much longer historiography than the other 85 percent of the sleep cycle. But the other aspects of the sleeping self — characterized by non-productivity, maddening lumpishness, and obliviousness — are about as unavailable to us as is being born or dying.”
- “The Church of the Paranormal” — Shannon Fischer, Pacific Standard [HT William Thirteen]; from the i-want-to-believe dept.
“Don’t be shy. Depending on your poll of choice, anywhere from a third to nearly half of you either believe in ghosts or are pretty sure you do. And if not ghosts, then aliens, mediums, or astrology, for which belief has either held steady or risen over the last couple of decades. More than two-thirds of Americans hold at least one paranormal—unsanctioned by religion—belief, according to the Baylor Religion Survey. That’s more than voted in the 2012 presidential election.”
- Arnold Toynbee quoted at “Roadmap to an unstoppable strategy” — Stephanie Van Hook; from the i-love-it-when-a-plan-comes-together dept.
“Apathy can only be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an idea that takes the imagination by storm; and second, a concrete, intelligible plan for putting that idea into action.”
- “The War on Reason” — Paul Bloom, The Atlantic [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from the let-me-hear-your-body-talk dept.
“In a contemporary, and often unacknowledged, rebooting of Freud, many psychologists have concluded from such findings that unconscious associations and attitudes hold powerful sway over our lives—and that conscious choice is largely superfluous. ‘It is not clear,’ the Baylor College neuroscientist David Eagleman writes, ‘how much the conscious you—as opposed to the genetic and neural you—gets to do any deciding at all.'”
- “Does Reading Actually Change The Brain?” — Carol Clark of Emory University, Futurity [HT Disinformation]; from the i-can-go-twice-as-high dept.
“‘The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,’ Berns says. ‘We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.’
The neural changes were not just immediate reactions, Berns says, since they persisted the morning after the readings, and for the five days after the participants completed the novel.”
- “The new theory that could explain crime and violence in America” — Scott C Johnson; from the taking-over-the-family-business dept.
“When the analysis was complete, Meaney saw an intriguing pattern. For the most part, the brains of suicide victims had similar receptor levels to those of people who had died in accidents. But in the samples from victims of childhood abuse, receptor levels were lower — just as with the rats. When he homed in on the cause of the difference, things got even more interesting. Meaney discovered that the gene for the receptor was covered by a chemical blanket that effectively silenced it — exactly the same silencing mechanism as seen in the rats that suffered poor maternal care.
The implication was significant: an abusive childhood might turn the volume down on this vital stress-response gene, leaving the abused vulnerable to stress, and perhaps suicidal impulses, later in life.”
- “Your Ancestors, Your Fate” — Gregory Clark, The New York Times’ Opinion Pages; from the upstairs-downstairs dept.
“The notion of genetic transmission of ‘social competence’ … may unsettle us. But studies … support this view.”
- “Jim Jarmusch: how the film world’s maverick stayed true to his roots” — Jonathan Romney, The Observer; from the if-you-look-like-you-could-be-then-you-are dept.
“The word ‘hipster’ invariably crops up in discussions about American film-maker Jim Jarmusch, not least because he looks the part. He is tall, lean, often wears shades and has a famous shock of hair that started turning silvery grey in his teens; his basso drawl completes the uncanny resemblance to a certain Hollywood great, which inspired Jarmusch to found a jokey secret society, The Sons of Lee Marvin.”
- “The Song of the Land: Bioregional Animism” — Sarah Anne Lawless; from the lay-of-the-land dept.
“It is hard to care deeply about something without any personal knowledge of it. Walking this road can start as simply as purchasing a regional field guide and going for a lot of walks with it, photographing and recording what you find. It can be as fun as taking an identification and foraging course with knowledgeable locals who will teach you ethics and proper stewardship as well to make sure you don’t damage or destroy the natural resources you’re learning to identify and use. Go camping, go travelling, go exploring, go on adventures in your bioregion. Walk the trails, canoe the lakes, explore the beach, climb the trees…
When you’re surrounded by nature, sit still, watch and listen.”
- Teju Cole, via tweet; from the thank-you-no-thank-you dept.
“You don’t decide to be a prophet. It happens to you, ruining your life, comforting distant people you’ve never met who may never thank you.”
- Jenna Lilla, via tweet; from the i-roam-around-around-around dept.
“The heroes are usually wanderers … a symbol of longing, of the restless urge which never finds its object of nostalgia for the lost mother.”
- “Magic and Your Lizard Brain: The Mind Tricks Behind Conjuring Ghosts” — Elizabeth Harper, Atlas Obscura; from the i-make-the-blue-cars-go-away dept.
“Your lizard brain is so reliably persistent that knowing how the trick is done doesn’t stop the effect from working.”
- “Why Is Academic Writing So Academic?” — Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from the sesquipedalian-tergiversation dept.
“Academic prose is, ideally, impersonal, written by one disinterested mind for other equally disinterested minds. But, because it’s intended for a very small audience of hyper-knowledgable, mutually acquainted specialists, it’s actually among the most personal writing there is. If journalists sound friendly, that’s because they’re writing for strangers. With academics, it’s the reverse.”
- “PantheaCon and the Growing Significance of Conventions as Spiritual Pilgrimage” — Crystal Blanton, The Wild Hunt; from the i-want-to-go-to-there dept;
“Nikki Jardin states ‘A spiritual pilgrimage is a physical journey toward a place of sacred or religious significance.’ This definition fits with how many Pagans, Wiccans, and Polytheists have come to revere Pagan conventions and festivals: As yearly spiritual pilgrimages for transcendent and communal enlightenment.”
- “Sheep reproduction is beautiful.” — Sunshine and Bunnies!
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together …
A volvelle, with tattwa tides and astrological aspects, made by a Whare Ra temple member [via]
- “Shroud of Turin: Could Ancient Earthquake Explain Face of Jesus?” — Megan Gannon, livescience; from the but-was-it-nocturnal dept.
“Now, a study claims neutron emissions from an ancient earthquake that rocked Jerusalem could have created the iconic image, as well as messed up the radiocarbon levels that later suggested the shroud was a medieval forgery. But other scientists say this newly proposed premise leaves some major questions unanswered.”
- shota-purinsu, a Tumblr comment; from the you’re-my-medicine-open-up-and-let-me-in dept.
“Jesus also affirms the homosexual relationship between the Roman Centurion and his ‘slave’. The particular Greek word used to refer to this special slave was ‘pais’. Greek language studies and contexts show that a ‘pais’ was a male love slave. Regular slaves were called ‘dolos’. The Centurion makes this distinction clearly when he asks Jesus to heal his slave (pais), and then to prove his status he tells Jesus that his slaves (dolos) go when he tells them to. But this slave (pais) was special. He was the Centurion’s lover.
Hearing this, Jesus was so amazed he says he had not found ANYONE ELSE who had such great faith. He then blesses the Centurion and heals his male lover.”
- Bosch’s “600-years-old butt song” — Amelia, chaoscontrolled123 [HT The Appendix]; from the then-a-band-of-demons-joined-in dept.
“Luke and I were looking at Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights and discovered, much to our amusement, music written upon the posterior of one of the many tortured denizens … I decided to transcribe it”
- Neoliberalism’s War Against the Radical Imagination — Henry Giroux, Tikkun; from the perhaps-a-lunatic-was-simply-a-minority-of-one dept.
“Democracy loses its character as a disruptive element, a force of dissent, an insurrectional call for responsible change, and degenerates into an assault on the radical imagination, reconfigures itself as a force for bleaching all ethical and moral considerations, and thrives in a state of exception, which in reality is a state of permanent war.”
- “OC’s Favorite Occultist Musician Writes a Song About Gun Violence. Strange? Yes.” — Joel Beers, OC Weekly, with Lon Milo DuQuette; from the it’s-all-I-think-about-dolls-and-guns dept.
“He says that those people who passionately believe that a disarmed populace under tyrannical rule is a problem have a well-taken point. But that notion, ‘still comes from a consciousness platform of fear,’ he says. ‘And if that is the focus of your life, you’re missing out on a great deal. It’s not that there’s nothing to be afraid of, but if that’s going to be the primary focus of your life, you’ve already surrendered. And if fear is the reason you want to arm yourself, you’re probably the last person who needs to be armed for all of our safety.'”
- “No One Cares About Your Damn Religion” — Larry Womack, Huffington Post’s The Blog; from the when-I-use-a-word-it-means-just-what-I-choose-it-to-mean dept.
“Was the Christian God cool with slavery? Slave owners sure thought so — and had plenty of Biblical canon to support it. Abolitionists disagreed. Did God want women to vote? Not according to anti-suffragists. Suffragists were convinced otherwise. If society continues this descent into level-headed compassion, fifty years from now people will be claiming that God is pro-fur and factory farming. When one cannot defend a belief in the current context, moving the framework back a few thousand years and putting the blame on God is a pretty good fallback strategy.
I know, I know. There’s only one God and he is not at all ambiguous: he agrees with you. It’s all right there in the Bible or whatever holy book you believe in, as you have decided to interpret it. It’s perfectly clear, right?”
- “Camels Had No Business in Genesis” — John Noble Wilford, The New York Times; from the heffalumps-and-woozles dept.
“The archaeologists, Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen, used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the last third of the 10th century B.C. — centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible. Some bones in deeper sediments, they said, probably belonged to wild camels that people hunted for their meat. Dr. Sapir-Hen could identify a domesticated animal by signs in leg bones that it had carried heavy loads.”
- “Beyond Naturalism: On Ronald Dworkin” — Michael Rosen, The Nation; from the trouble-in-the-forest dept.
“In short, while materialism encourages that characteristically modern form of political collectivism in which sacrifices that bring about the greater good are taken to be morally imperative, at the same time it leads to a world of individuals who have a sense of their own absolute uniqueness and importance—if only to themselves. The attempt to find a standpoint that can integrate this radical individualism with the claims of the common good is the great underlying ethical and political problem of modern life. It also gives a framing perspective to Ronald Dworkin’s marvelous little book, Religion without God, and helps explain how a brilliant young lawyer like Dworkin should have ended up pondering issues of theology.”
- “The Conservative Crusade For Christian Sharia Law” — Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast; from the it’s-only-hypocrisy-when-someone-else-does-it dept.
“And in the past few years, we have seen pro-life Christian groups successfully lobby State legislatures to restrict access to abortions. They have also raised religious, not public policy, objections to the government funding birth control.
But here’s the alarming thing: These views are no longer the fringe of American politics. They are increasingly becoming mainstream conservative fare.”
- “Bible Passages that Could Get You Killed” — Candida Moss, The Daily Beast; from the stunt-driver-closed-track dept.
“Where Coots is different is that he was just following the Bible as he interpreted it. Coots was just reading the Bible literally. It’s something that many Americans do on a daily basis. But God’s Holy Word is more dangerous than you’d think.”
- Flea, via tweet.
“I like myths. I put a lot of credence in them.”
- Disputed quotes attributed to Albert Einstein, Wikipedia [HT The Kill Van Kulls].
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
- “Bruise, Trash, Write” — Lilith Saintcrow.
“I am not so sure. But I know I won. Every word I wrote is burned into me, flesh and blood and breath. By throwing them away, I made them even more mine, something nobody could take away even if they killed me, secrets hidden inside me, in the only places I had left.
Now I write other stories. Between the bars, I catch glimpses of those things. Exorcism is an ongoing process.”
- Giordano Bruno quoted in “Giordano Bruno: Divinity Reveals Herself in all Things” — Donald Donato, In puris naturalibus.
“Divinity reveals herself in all things. Everything has Divinity latent within itself. For she enfolds and imparts herself even unto the smallest beings, and from the smallest beings, according to their capacity. Without her presence nothing would have being, because she is the essence of the existence of the first unto the last being.”
- “After 400 Years, Mathematicians Find A New Class Of Shapes” — Higher Perspective [HT Reality Sandwich].
“The work of the Greek polymath Plato has kept millions of people busy for millennia. A few among them have been mathematicians who have obsessed about Platonic solids, a class of geometric forms that are highly regular and are commonly found in nature.
Since Plato’s work, two other classes of equilateral convex polyhedra, as the collective of these shapes are called, have been found: Archimedean solids (including truncated icosahedron) and Kepler solids (including rhombic polyhedra). Nearly 400 years after the last class was described, researchers claim that they may have now invented a new, fourth class, which they call Goldberg polyhedra. Also, they believe that their rules show that an infinite number of such classes could exist.”
- “Wikipedia-size maths proof too big for humans to check” — Jacob Aron, New Scientist; from the now-i-am-the-master dept.
“If no human can check a proof of a theorem, does it really count as mathematics? That’s the intriguing question raised by the latest computer-assisted proof. It is as large as the entire content of Wikipedia, making it unlikely that will ever be checked by a human being.
‘It might be that somehow we have hit statements which are essentially non-human mathematics,’ says Alexei Lisitsa of the University of Liverpool, UK, who came up with the proof together with colleague Boris Konev.”
- “Math Explains Likely Long Shots, Miracles and Winning the Lottery” — David J Hand, Scientific American; from the a-glitch-in-the-matrix dept.
“A set of mathematical laws that I call the Improbability Principle tells us that we should not be surprised by coincidences. In fact, we should expect coincidences to happen. One of the key strands of the principle is the law of truly large numbers. This law says that given enough opportunities, we should expect a specified event to happen, no matter how unlikely it may be at each opportunity. Sometimes, though, when there are really many opportunities, it can look as if there are only relatively few. This misperception leads us to grossly underestimate the probability of an event: we think something is incredibly unlikely, when it’s actually very likely, perhaps almost certain.”
- “Vitruvian Man Had a Hernia” — Laura Crothers, Slate; from the not-so-perfect-after-all-eh-mister-man dept.
“Throughout history, anatomical illustrations have been made using the recently deceased as models, and many of Leonardo’s sketches were no exception. Ashrafian says that the man who served as Leonardo’s model for his illustration of human perfection probably had a hernia. If the model was a corpse, the hernia may have been what killed him. If he was a live model, he may ultimately have died from its complications.”
- Mold destroys 600,000 library books — Ellie Papadakis, The Maneater; from the tolle-lege dept.
“The MU Libraries have more than 3 million books in their collections, and they ran out of space to store those books years ago.
Recently it was discovered that 600,000 books, approximately 20 percent of MU’s entire collection, were covered in mold. The damaged books were being stored in an underground cavern north of Interstate 70. The cavern, Sub Terra, is run by an independent company.
The books in storage were lesser-used books that the libraries did not have room for in their open stacks. Some of the stored texts were published prior to the Civil War.
Library administrators will not be able to save all 600,000 texts because there is not enough money in library funds to do so.”
- “Canadian libricide” — Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing; from the where-is-your-science-now dept.
“Back in 2012, when Canada’s Harper government announced that it would close down national archive sites around the country, they promised that anything that was discarded or sold would be digitized first. But only an insignificant fraction of the archives got scanned, and much of it was simply sent to landfill or burned.”
- John Griogair Bell, Hermetic Library, via tweet.
“We should always fear the fate of our libraries, historically proven and currently demonstrated”
- The Report — Hugh Howey, Author Earnings.
“It’s no great secret that the world of publishing is changing. What is a secret is how much.”
- “The Secret History of the Venus of Willendorf” — Alexander Binsteiner, Past Horizons.
“Microscopic investigations on the world famous statuette from the Gravettian period (30,000 to 22,000 years ago) carried out at the Natural History Museum in Vienna revealed three incredible insights, and when taken together tell a secret story of this Palaeolithic figurine and her creators.
· The limestone from which the 11cm high Venus had been carved, comes almost certainly from the region around the Moravian city of Brno 136km to the northeast of Willendorf.
· The source of the flint blades discovered with the figure was North Moravia, a further 150km to the north.
· The Venus had once been completely painted with red ochre, and given the ritualistic associations of this material meant that the figure was more than likely a cultic object.”
- “Feeding Spirits and Bones” — Sarah Anne Lawless.
“Old Man and Old Woman settled their ancient bones back into the remnants of creatures native to their wild domain, no doubt having missed their shrine and the once regular offerings to be found there. The Moon’s candle was restored to its place above breasts and belly carved from stone, surrounded by offerings. She eats beeswax greedily like blood offerings, leaving nothing behind. A candle lit to welcome the spirits back with sweetest incense burned and fresh water poured to sate their hunger. The spirits sigh happily, the new house sighs like a person with a once empty belly filled. Even breathing feels easier now with the altar and all its spirits in their proper place of reverence.”
- Poem by Sulpicia quoted in “Valentine’s Day: Ancient Festival Of Sexual Frenzy” — Donna Henes, Huffington Post’s The Blog.
“At last love has come. I would be more ashamed
to hide it in cloth than leave it naked.
I prayed to the Muse and won. Venus dropped him
in my arms, doing for me what she
had promised. Let my joy be told, let those
who have none tell it in a story.
Personally, I would never send off words
in sealed tablets for none to read.
I delight in sinning and hate to compose a mask
for gossip. We met. We are both worthy.”
- T Thorn Coyle, via tweet.
“Happy Lupercalia! Blessed Full Moon! (If you see half naked boys running w goatskin whips, you may wish to stay out of their way. Or not.)”
- Eliphas Levi quoted by T Thorn Coyle, via tweet.
“It is necessary to DARE what must be attempted.”
- “Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People: Narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, and sadistic.” — Chris Mooney, Slate.
“The research, conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and two colleagues, sought to directly investigate whether people who engage in trolling are characterized by personality traits that fall in the so-called Dark Tetrad: Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others).
It is hard to underplay the results: The study found correlations, sometimes quite significant, between these traits and trolling behavior. What’s more, it also found a relationship between all Dark Tetrad traits (except for narcissism) and the overall time that an individual spent, per day, commenting on the Internet.”
- Colleen Fenley, via facebook comment.
“disagree, awful poster… delete”
- John Griogair Bell, via tweet.
“If you’re going to cover your eyes and plug your ears, at least have the courtesy and self-awareness to also shut your mouth.”
- “Chèvres en équilibre” [HT Bryan Fuller]; from the let-the-goat-come-to-you dept.
“But the fact is with us that the ideals of the Masonic Order are making a wide appeal to the best instincts of large numbers of men and that the Order has imperceptibly become the greatest social institution in the Empire. Its principles of faith and ethics are simple, and of virtually universal acceptance. Providing means for the expression of universal fraternity under a common Divine Fatherhood and of a common loyalty to the headship and established government of the State, it leaves room for divergences of private belief and view upon matters upon which unity is impracticable and perhaps undesirable. It is utterly clean of politics and political intrigue, but nevertheless has unconsciously become a real, though unobtrusive, asset of political value, both in stabilizing the social fabric and tending to foster international amity.” [via]