The tongue or the ear?

I was asking someone who reads the Bible voraciously whether Pentecost, from Acts 2 , where suddenly people start hearing the Gospel in their own language, is a miracle of the tongue or a miracle of the ear? He said it was the tongue, though he dismissed notion that people will just start spouting gibberish, as some religious folks portray the event in modern times.

As someone who has – once – been part of a service where people actually seemed to spontaneously start speaking in tongues, I nevertheless believe in the possibility of the miracle of the ear; that is, that people began comprehending as though the words were in their own language. Isn’t it true that sometimes, if we really listen, we can understand what would seem to be incomprehensible?

And did not the church, based on its understanding of Genesis 1, long believe that the sun went around the earth? It was heresy to think otherwise. Yet our greater understanding of the universe does not diminish the awesomeness of creation, however it came to be.

I’ve long believe that AN explanation, not necessarily THE explanation of the feeding of the 4000 or 5000 in the New Testament was based on the notion stone soup. Many people had a little of this, a little of that, but when they shared, it created a magnificent feast. And it was a miracle: the miracle of open hearts.

In the Acts 2 reading for Pentecost, it cites a reading from Joel about the “last days”. It’s pretty clear that the early Christians such as Paul took the scripture to mean that the Lord was coming back in their lifetimes. Evidently, it didn’t. Or maybe the Joel reading was a reference to the Holy Spirit that was promised after the resurrection of Jesus. By that measure, we’ve been in the “end times” for about 1980 years. If that’s true, we’d better hurry up and feed the hungry, etc., because the “end times” might be a little while longer.
YouTube video: Gay scientists have isolated the gene they believe makes people Christian.


W.W.C.T.G.Y.T.B.N.C.O.S.Y.A.O. Question

I think it was Mark Evanier who came up with the notion of the W.W.C.T.G.Y.T.B.N.C.O.S.Y.A.O. (the World Wide Conspiracy To Get You To Buy New Copies Of Stuff You Already Own). This is why I’m less than excited by the remastered Beatles music coming out 09/09/09.

I haven’t done this in a while, but last week, I went to the library, got five CDs and burned them. I’m totally unapologetic about it, too, because every single album I’ve not only purchased but still own in vinyl. Until I get around to buying one of those turntables that will convert vinyl to digital form – I saw one listed recently for a little over $100 – then I will keep at it.

So what is on my little foray this week?

Boston- Boston. Yes, THAT album with More than A Feeling, et al.
Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young – Deja Vu – with four writers, they worked hard to be equitable, with each getting two songs, Stills/Young getting one, and the other song a cover of Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock.
Devo- Q: Are We Not Men? A: We are Devo – features one of my all-time favorite covers, Satisfaction. Incidentally, I have a schlocky instrumental album of Devo songs, done by Devo.
The Guess Who- co-founded by Randy Bachman, who later founded Bachman-Turner Overdrive, it has some decent songs. But the one that most fascinated me when i first bought it was a song I did not know before, Hang On To Your Life, which ends with the stark parts of Psalm 22.
Neil Young – Harvest. I listened to this album a LOT in my college years.

I could only take out five at a time. So what was interesting to me was what I didn’t take this time:
Allman Brothers – Brothers and Sisters. I have a colleague who burns so much Allman music for me that I may have ODed on them.
John Lennon – Rock and Roll. I bought this album on December 9, 1980, the day after Lennon died; they were sold out of Double Fantasy by the time I got to the store (Just a song or strawberries) at lunchtime. This is an oddly unsatisfying album, one I didn’t listen to much at the time. Mayne I SHOULD revisit for that reason alone.
Pretenders – the first album. It was a double album with out takes and alternate versions; almost certainly for next time.
Van Halen – the ONLY Van Halen I’ve ever owned, which I probably got for Happy Trails.

Oh, the questions: how do you feel about buying things (DVD, CDs) that you already own (VCR tapes, LPs or cassettes)? Do you avoid them? Pick only the core stuff? Seek out compilations? (Most of my early CDs were greatest hits collections of artists I already owned heavily on vinyl, such as Billy Joel and Elton John.) Do you have a mechanism to convert to newer formats?

Torture and other fun topics

I suppose it oughtn’t to be necessary to say, but I’m against torture. Dick Cheney’s been rebuked. Not so incidentally, I recognize his right to speak; I was just hoping that he wouldn’t exercise it right away. Most Vice-Presidents (Nixon in 1960, Gore in 2000) GO AWAY for a while.

Jaquandor, in touting someone else’s disgust with some conservative talk show host’s ramblings about waterboarding, was rather eviscerating of (yawn) Hannity who was likewise braying that he’d undergo waterboarding and “he’d do it for the troops”, I thought, “OK, you blowhard. But let’s do it right. Let’s have someone grab you off the street, throw you into a van, blindfold you, and drive you to someplace you have no idea. Then let’s have them strip off your clothes, deprive you of food for days, not say a word to you except to tell you to stand up or lie down; let’s have them randomly beat you. And then let’s have them waterboard you. No cameras to record your bravado. No knowledge that after ten seconds it’ll all be over. Let’s have them waterboard you, over and over and over again, until you scream for no more. Sounds about right to me.

Meanwhile Greg talks about Charles Krauthammer, moral relativism and torture, which you should just go read.

But there was a concept in Greg’s piece that reminded me of a somewhat different situation. In October 1972, I had to go in front of my draft board in Binghamton to maintain my position that I was a conscious objector, which I had declared when I had registered for the draft about a year and a half earlier, and which I had to deal with because my draft number was so low – 2. One of the questions was what I would do if someone attacked my mother. I said I would defend her and protect her. Then, I was asked, would not going to fight a Hitler be a protecting my mother against attack? My response was that it is one think to respond to an immediate threat of an attack against my mother; it was far different to intentionally put myself in a position to to fight and kill people. Perhaps this is moral relativism too, but regardless, I was granted a c.o.; then because the draft law was winding down, I wasn’t drafted anyway, even for alternative service.

Here’s another blogpost that had an impact on me this week, by Thom Wade: I hate that rape is an acceptable metaphor for minor things. Among the examples, “Stop Raping My Childhood, George Lucas.” Thom links to other banal rants as well. It is SO obviously wrongheaded that Thom should not have had to comment.

Finally, a personal, somewhat painful recollection by SamuraiFrog about family and friends and rage and therapy. “Everyone tells you to just get over it and move on, stop living in the past. But living in the past isn’t the problem.” I related to it more than I can say; OK, more than I am willing to say.


Me as the Dewey Decimal System

pink white tulip

Ever thought of what you would be if you would be if catalogued as a non fiction book? Well here is how to find out. Answer a few questions and voila up it comes, your own Dewey Decimal section in the imaginary library of life. Go here.

Roger Green’s Dewey Decimal Section:

303 Social processes

Roger Green = 8575878554 = 857+587+855+4 = 2303

300 Social Sciences

Books on politics, economics, education and the law.

What it says about you:
You are good at understanding people and finding the systems that work for them. You like having established reasoning behind your decisions. You consider it very important for your friends to always have your back.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

giant pink hyacinth

Roger Green’s Dewey Decimal Section:

990 History of other areas

Roger Green’s birthday: 3/7/1953 = 37+1953 = 1990

900 History & Geography

Travel, biographies, ancient history, and histories of continents.

What it says about you:
You’re connected to your past and value the things that have happened to you. You’ve had some conflicted times in your life, but they’ve brought you to where you are today and you don’t ignore it.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at


Roger Green’s Dewey Decimal Section:

037 Encyclopedias in Slavic languages

000 Computer Science, Information & General Works

Encyclopedias, magazines, journals and books with quotations.

What it says about you:
You are very informative and up to date. You’re working on living in the here and now, not the past. You go through a lot of changes. When you make a decision you can be very sure of yourself, maybe even stubborn, but your friends appreciate your honesty and resolve.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

angelique tulip

Why is it that spammers can’t spell? “Madonna is a Moslim now!” was in my gmail spam box yesterday. Conversely, here’s an e-mail from our campus e-mail administrator I also got yesterday.

This morning, a colleague showed me an email message she had received extending an invitation to join, or log into, Twitter.

The subject line was “Your friend invited you to twitter.” The From: address was “invitations@twitter[dot]com.”

The web (html) version of the message used many attractive and professionally looking visual elements to lend authenticity to the invitation.

Finally, the message came with an attachment, a zip file containing an .exe file masquerading as a .pdf file! This file has been confirmed as malicious. Currently, only 20% of anti-virus vendors correctly identify the file as malware.

All unsolicited email messages containing invitations to click on a link or an attachment should be considered suspicious and threatening unless you can independently confirm the identity and authenticity of the message with the sender.

Flowers, and pictures of same, plus the Memorial Day columbine, are from the garden of my friend the Hoffinator, who was feeling under the weather yesterday.


S is for Swearing

There’s a podcast called Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. She recently talked about Swear Words in Text. It’s interesting, as usual. One of the things I learned – or relearned, having heard it years ago, but forgotten – is that the use of a string of characters used to represent cursing – e.g. @#$%&! – is called a grawlix.

I’ve had long-running debates over the use of curse words, sometimes even with myself. On the one hand is the influence of the late comedian George Carlin, who when describing the NSFW seven words you can’t say on television. Why word A but not word B? Word C is bad but only in context. “There are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are 7 you can’t say on television. What a ratio that is! 399,993…to 7. They must really be baaaad.”

On the other side, I’ve long been convinced that the indiscriminate use of cursing diminishes its efficacy. A couple personal tales:

About 20 years ago, I was tired and hanging out at my then-girlfriend’s house when she came back with some mutual friends. One of them told a joke I thought was offensive; it involved a Jamaican and his organ, and I don’t mean musical instrument. I didn’t say anything initially, but eventually, it bugged me so much that I said something to the teller of the tale. She immediately apologized. But her friend said, dismissively, “Oh, you don’t have a sense of humor.” To her, I yelled, “F*** you!”

[An alternative definition of grawlix is to “directly replace some letters in the swear word with asterisks. So instead of just typing random symbols, you replace a swear word with something like f***. That method usually leaves enough information so people can work out what the word is meant to be, but the offensive word isn’t actually typed.” You DO know what I said, don’t you?]

I’m telling this two-decades-old story to one of my work colleagues recently. I deliver the punchline and I thought her teeth would fall out. In the nearly two years she’s know me, she had never heard me use that word before. Which, I suppose, is the point: overuse of curse words makes them lose their efficacy.

At left: from Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter – Guilty Pleasures – would this be more effective without the grawlix? Some think so, but I do not.

This is not to say that I never swear. Nine years ago this week, I stepped on a nail that went through my sneaker. I am quite certain that a few expletives were uttered.

There was a period in my twenties where I used words that weren’t curses in American English, such as bloody and bollocks, but fortunately, that passed.

I guess I DO rail against the “everyone talks that way” mantra that seemed to be popular in some circles as some sort of justification of what seems to me to be lazy speaking and writing. I was reminded in the current Entertainment Weekly magazine that the rapper Eminen literally cursed out Will Smith for NOT using expletives, which I just thought was wrongheaded.

Oh, and there’s a five-year-old in my house who I DON’T curse in front of. I’ve been told, “She’ll hear it eventually anyway”; that is both true and irrelevant. I’m the parent; I’m modeling, dammit, er, darn it.

There’s a friend of mine, a good church-going fellow, who used to curse when he played racquetball, usually at himself; he called himself a MFCS. I’ve noticed since he stopped doing that recently, he plays better. Coincidence? Maybe.

Here’s a song Daddy Could Swear by Gladys Knight and the Pips Totally safe for work.

I have this friend I’ve known for about 50 years who uses on particular curse SO effectively, I have to laugh. The word starts with A and has seven letters. Speaking of which, that’s the title of this song by Beck. It is the juxtaposition of the musicality of the tune with the word which makes it oddly fascinating. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover this song on the She’s the One Soundtrack.

And, as I’ve noted, sometimes swearing IS appropriate. Go to the Arthur at AmeriNZ blog and click on the NSFW video there about homophobia. Not only might one say the language is justified, again the sweetness of the tune tends to be a fascinating counterpoint to the word.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial