Friday, January 21, 2011

first mover advantage.

you don't get that in scissors paper stone; and elsewhere, you don't get to learn from mistakes. Of course, maybe learning just means more information, interpreted and maybe a contributor to your downfall. So, that's tricky. But first movers don't always win. In fact, 2nd movers are often in excellent positions. Sure, the 1st mover will force you into limited options and your favourite move - a move that you're very good at and have a 90% chance of winning - may not be available. But then it's not available for good won't win this time. So by going 2nd, you avoid that. Great. Simple enough.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

new word of tonight:

solfège [sɔl.fɛʒ] where ɛ is like "air" w/o the r-sound.

a teaching method of applying a certain syllable to a certain musical note on a scale.
That is to say, teaching someone to do the "do re mi fa so la ti do!!!" (well in most modern western contexts anyway)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

maybe read?

lord of the flies.
the golden compass.
dead souls.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Some interesting new findings...

Canaan was part of Egypt around 1500-1200 BC, supposedly the time the Exodus and Joshua leading the Israelites into the promised land. (Exodus 480 years before Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 6:1) and estimated about 1447BC)

Red Sea is a mistranslation from the Hebrew word "Yum Suph" which should have been translated as the "sea of reeds", possibly a lake but not necessarily the big Red Sea.

Egyptian population at time of Exodus is about 3-6 million. If 600,000 Israelite men were in the Exodus, then a reasonable population of the Exodus might be 2 million? (maybe more since mortality rates should be high and there should be a lot more children than adults). That takes a large chunk out of Egypt. Apparently no Egyptian records of incidents like the plagues preceding the Exodus, and no record of any mass exodus out of any people.

J-E-D-P Documentary Hypothesis. Lots of variants of it now too.

Should learn how to read stuff and figure out the date. One technique is see what they get correct up until. For example, the gospel of Mark is dated around 70AD because it seems to know about imineint trouble but doesn't know specifics, whereas the gospel of Luke knows more specifics. And that is based on the belief that Mark preceded Luke (and that Luke is derived in part from Mark).

Sunday, April 18, 2010


observed properties

intonation seems same as speaker's native language.

most common vowels - [i] and [a]

common consonant? - [sh]

much smaller phoneme inventory than most (and native) languages.

lots of repetition.

use of "exotic sounds" that are known (consciously or not) to speaker - eg. changing bunched [r] to tap [r].


apparently no concrete evidence. testimonials are available, but they are often by people likely with a bias.

of god/of the devil?

glossolalia not limited to christianity. present in voodoo and other parts of the world. sounds are similar?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Nicodemus (John, chapter 3)

On Pg 154-155 of Jesus Interrupted, Bart Ehrman discusses how the story of Nicodemus in John chapter 3 is likely to be untrue because it doesn't fit the context. In the English translation that we are familiar with, Jesus says that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again, where upon my NIV version has a footnote saying it Or born from above. Ignoring the footnote, the continuation of the story is simple. Nicodemus doesn't understand how one can be born again and Jesus gives a reply about bring born of water and the Spirit. In our common Protestant interpretation, this refers to baptism - of water and of the Holy Spirit. Under a charismatic Christian belief, I'd suspect this means both a water baptism and a baptism of the Holy Spirit in the speaking of tongues sense are necessary. Under other interpretations, perhaps just one baptism is enough, for example whereby a water baptism also brings the Spirit upon you, or where a baptism of the Holy Spirit negates the need for less abstract and probably more superficial baptism by water.

Either way, Nicodemus doesn't seem to understand. Jesus doesn't clarify his statements but seems to go on with further abstractions. This is not uncommon in Gospel texts and as a reader, I would typically have ignored this since such incidents of listeners not understand Jesus and Jesus not putting it in simpler terms is all over the place.

Let's look at the footnote. Why is born again footnoted to also be born from above? Apparently, again and from above have the same Greek word. This makes sense therefore if the manuscript of John was written in Greek. Approaching it from a less speculative angle, we can just do research into the gospel of John and find out if it, or at least the piece(s) used to construct the story of Nicodemus was in Greek. RESEARCH POINT. Now, say this account was written in Greek, why then is the interpretation of again chosen over from above? Simple, because the response of Nicodemus (verse 4) is "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!".

Ehrman provides a different interpretation of the story: Jesus spoke in Greek and meant to say from above. Nicodemus misinterprets the word as again leading to his questions about how someone can be born when old. Jesus then clarifies that he meant from above, in my opinion it being telling from verse 6 flesh gives birth to flesh, but the spirit gives birth to spirit. Ehrman says this is how the story was meant to be read, and claims that the story is likely untrue because Jesus was likely to have been speaking Aramaic, not Greek, thus making this conversation impossible.

Before we jump the gun and accuse Ehrman of cyclic argumentation (though this interpretation is probably not original to Ehrman, RESEARCH POINT), let's have a brief review. The text we derive this story from is written in Greek. What implications does this have? Seemingly irrelevant, this may point to the text not being written by the disciple John. John is supposed to be uneducated and only the elite were literate during the time. Did John learn Greek later and compose this gospel? I remember reading that this is unlikely because the Gospels actually seem to have literary structure and concepts such as recurring themes. John is arguably not going to be concerned with learning Greek but more concerned with spreading Christianity. Perhaps he learned Greek nonetheless in order to compose a written account. Once again, RESEARCH POINT.

Let's review something else. Say this event did take place and likely in Aramaic. Then so far things make sense with the ambiguity only arising when the author of the text recorded the story in Greek. The ambiguity is unimportant as the story makes original sense when again is taken instead of from above. But, before we get ahead of ourselves, what does Jesus' response in verse 5-9 mean? Is it, as I typically had read it, just an unrelated abstract response from Jesus to Nicodemus' failure to comprehend? Instead of hastily discrediting Ehrman's interpretation, this response seems to make sense if Jesus had said from above earlier rather than again. Try reading verses 5-9 as if Jesus had said from above, and try reading it as if Jesus had said again. Also, the words at the end of verse 7 would take either from above or again respectively. Too easy? Seems like again is slightly better because we can interpret "...born of water and the Spirit" as referring to baptism. But, let's take another step back and review. How do we know Jesus meant baptism? Was baptism in water ever mentioned as being "born of water" prior? Was baptism of the Holy Spirit ever mentioned before?

So in this mess of different potential interpretations, the decision to choose again or from above is crucial. If I choose the interpretation of again, then verses 5-9 are just another regular oddity in Jesus' way of conversing. If I choose from above, then either Jesus did not speak it in Greek which makes no sense of verse 6, or Jesus did speak it in Greek which makes the story probably not a real incident.

I have to conclude that Ehrman needs to give more evidence for his interpretation in order to tilt the tables in his favor. On the other hand, I must remain aware that I am making coherent sense of the story by interpreting verses 5-9 in light of modern church teachings and theologies which I am only assuming were valid modes of thought during the time of the story. In other words, yet another RESEARCH POINT.

Monday, February 15, 2010

some side effects of a world without god:

Endless science possibilities (?)
If you are a Christian, you can probably rely on time travel never actually being possible...or stem cell research that makes eternal life...or invincibility. Or, for that matter, on sudden global nuclear annihilation...or a worldwide lack of resources and food, well this could be assumed too.

Endless science!?!??!!
Scary! Imagine if suddenly you don't know how the universe is going to end. Crap.
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