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Trenz Pruca’s Observations: Rumination on the Long Generation.

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If when I was five years old and shook the hand and listened to the stories of someone who was the age that I am now, he would have been born during the Civil War. If he in turn, when he was five, shook the hand of another old man and listened to his stories, he might have learned that that man when he was young had shaken the hand of someone who knew Shakespeare at the height of his theatrical career. Two handshakes by old men represent a chain of history from Donald Trump to William Shakespeare.

Hmm——This may evidence that, as a species, we may have been devolving faster than we realize.

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Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week: “Logarithmic History: the history of the universe — from the Big Bang to the end of the year — day by day (https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/).

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In searching through the Blogosphere, I discovered a blog entitled “Logarithmic History: the history of the universe — from the Big Bang to the end of the year — day by day (https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/). The author attempts to compress the entire history of the universe using a logarithmic scale (you can read the “about” section of the blog to find out what he’s about). It is a fascinating adventure in history.

The first entry I came upon, I assume corresponding to November 4, the day on which I discovered it, contained an excerpt from Essays of Montaigne on Cannibals that I found fascinating. Here it is in its entirety.

Three of these men [Tupi Indians from Brazil], ignorant of the price they will pay someday … ignorant of the fact that of this intercourse will come their ruin … poor wretches …were at Rouen, at the time the late King Charles IX was there [in 1562]. The king talked to them for a long time; they were shown our ways, our splendor, the aspect of a fine city. After that, someone asked their opinion and wanted to know what they had found most amazing. They mentioned three things, of which I have forgotten the third, and I am very sorry for it; but I still remember two of them. They said that in the first place they thought it very strange that so many grown men, bearded, strong, and armed, who were around the king (it is likely that they were talking about the Swiss of his guard) should submit to obey a child, and that one of them was not chosen to command instead. Second (they have a way in their language of speaking of men as halves of one another), they had noticed that there were among us men full and gorged with all sorts of good things, and that their other halves were beggars at their doors, emaciated with hunger and poverty; and they thought it strange that these needy halves could endure such an injustice, and did not take the others by the throat, or set fire to their houses.

I had a very long talk with one of them. … When I asked him what profit he gained from his superior position among his people (for he was a captain, and our sailors called him king), he told me that it was to march foremost in war. … Did all his authority expire with the war? He said that this much remained, that when he visited the villages dependent on him, they made paths for him through the underbrush by which he might pass quite comfortably.

All this is not too bad — but what’s the use? They don’t wear breeches.

Do I Have Meaning if I Just Sit and Dream?

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While perusing the indefatigable economist Brad Delong’s blog (https://www.bradford-delong.com/), I came across a post by someone named John Bell. Delong, like me, is both fascinated and amused by modern physics. Many economists believe economics is or can be a science like physics. DeLong, himself, seems to revel whenever he discovers great physicists disagreeing over fundamental issues like economists do. But physicists, when they disagree, seem generally satisfied to grumble and return to their chalkboard and await the results of many arcane and expensive experiments to prove it one way or another. Economists who disagree on macroeconomics, however, generally stand gleefully by when their favored theory is adopted by some gullible government and millions die or are reduced to penury. DeLong, it stands to reason, also likes Science fiction novels.

Anyway, Bell, in the following post attempts to describe the nature of the disagreement between Einstein and Lorentz. The one finding no meaning to anything but things moving around — In other words if you are still you do not exist — like ghosts, I guess. Lorentz on the other hands seems to believe “aether” exists — in other words, ghosts exist. I can’t wait to see the results of the experiments.

I have also included the comments to Bell’s analysis by someone who goes by the nom de plume of “dilbert dogbert” and someone’s who calls himself “Graydon.”

John Bell: Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics:

“Einstein declares the notions ‘really resting’ and ‘really moving’ as meaningless. For him only the relative motion of two or more uniformly moving objects is real. Lorentz, on the other hand, preferred the view that there is indeed a state of real rest, defined by the ‘aether’, even though the laws of physics conspire to prevent us identifying it experimentally. The facts of physics do not oblige us to accept one philosophy rather than the other. And we need not accept Lorentz’s philosophy to accept a Lorentzian pedagogy…

“…Its special merit is to drive home the lesson that the laws of physics in any one reference frame account for all physical phenomena, including the observations of moving observers. And it is often simpler to work in a single frame, rather than to hurry after each moving object in turn. The difference of style is that instead of inferring the experience of moving observers from known and conjectured laws of physics, Einstein starts from the hypothesis that the laws will look the same to all observers in uniform motion. This permits a very concise and elegant formulation of the theory, as often happens when one big assumption can be made to cover several less big ones. There is no intention here to make any reservation whatever about the power and precision of Einstein’s approach. But in my opinion, there is also something to be said for taking students along the road made by Fitzgerald, Larmor, Lorentz, and Poincaré. The longer road sometimes gives more familiarity with the country…”

 

Comments

dilbert dogbert said:

Sitting here reading this blah blah blah while eating a couple of slices of pizza and drinking coffee and pondering ‘aether’.
Obviously ‘aether’ is just the mind of God. He hides his mind from mere mortals. Maybe someday a human touched by divine craziness will find the ‘aether’.

Graydon said in reply to dilbert dogbert:

Dark matter turns out to have a whole lot in common with aether as a concept.

I don’t think it’s going to give a fixed reference frame, and I’m highly agnostic about the direct detection of dark matter, but I do find the whole thing kinda funny.

 

Do I hear church bells and sniff the scent of incense?

Average Income Tax Rates and the Financial Health of the Nation.

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The graph that begins this post shows the effective tax rates on individual Americans by income percentile from 1960 through 2007. It does not include the Obama era American Taxpayer Relief Act which reduced the sharp decline in the effective tax rates for the 90th percentile and above incomes and continued the gradual reduction in taxes for the remainder of taxpayers begun in the Clinton administration and accelerated by Bush II. The Trump tax cut of 2017, substantially reduced the Average Effective Tax Rates for the top 90% if incomes to levels even lower than those of Bush II while providing none or at best a minuscule amount of tax relief for the rest of the taxpaying community.

What this all means is that during Republican Administrations taxes on the rich generally go down while for the remaining tax-payers they either go up slightly or remain mostly the same except for Bush II who provided a small reduction for the majority of taxpayers to go along with a substantial one for upper-income taxpayers.

The Democrats, on the other hand, generally try to raise taxes substantially on the wealthy while providing the remaining taxpayers a small reduction.

So what, one may ask.

Well, for one thing, it seems that shortly after the tax cuts on the wealthy the nation’s economy goes into a tailspin that has to be corrected by either raising the taxes of the wealthy (and other taxpayers) again or by transferring governmental tax receipts in order prop up the financial industry again.

For another, there seems to be a correlation between reducing the effective tax rates on higher income individuals and reductions in the nations real GDP growth rate.

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To pay for those “Upper-income tax cuts,” and the resulting economic slowdown, one must either use federal funds earmarked for other programs such as Social Security; or borrow more, risking higher interest rates on governmental debt payments that may squeeze out other expenditures (e.g.  national security): or raising the rates on the wealthy back to where they were. Democrats, of course, favor the last. I suspect the Republicans favor the first and neither favors the middle approach.

Why we risk the Nation’s welfare going back and forth on tax rates for the wealthy I will never understand other than it is perhaps the most intractable issue in politics historically: Who gets to pay for the government the nation needs and wants.

A Democrat Looks at His Party by Dean Acheson — an Accurate View in 1955 and Still Valid Today.

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I snagged the following from Brad Delong’s blog ( https://www.bradford-delong.com/. ) It is an article by Dean Acheson, FDR,s Secretary of State, about the nature of the Democratic Party. I have not included the section on Southern Democrats that I along with DeLong do not agree with and it irrelevant since that particular brand of Democrat has now become the solid base of the Republican Party. However, Acheson’s argument that more conservative )center-left if you will)  party members are necessary for the party to understand the needs and feelings of the entire electorate and succeed in winning elections where voters. have sectoral or local concerns.

 

A Historical Document: Dean Acheson’s Lawyer’s Brief for the Mid-Twentieth Century Democratic Party: From Dean Acheson (1955): A Democrat Looks at His Party:

p. 23 ff: From the very beginning the Democratic Party has been broadly based… the party of the many… the urban worker; the backwoods merchant and banker; the small farmer… the large landowners of the South, who saw themselves as being milked by the commercial and financial magnates gathered under Hamilton’s banner; the newly arrived immigrants… the party of the underdog…. The many have an important and most relevant characteristic. They have many interests, many points of view, many purposes to accomplish, and a party which represents them will have their many interests, many points of view, and many purposes also. It is this multiplicity of interests which, I submit, is the principal clue in understanding the vitality and endurance of the Democratic Party…

The base of all three opponents [Federalist, Whig, and Republican] has been the interest of the economically powerful, of those who manage affairs…. The economic base and the principal interest of the Republican Party is business…. This business base of the Republican Party is stressed not in any spirit of criticism. The importance of business is an outstanding fact of American life. Its achievements have been phenomenal. It is altogether appropriate that one of the major parties should represent its interests and its points of view. It is stressed because here lies the significant difference between the parties, the single-interest party against the many-interest party, rather than in a supposed division of attitudes… conservative… against… liberal….

[…]

At the end of the [nineteenth] century there was a lesser, but serious missed opportunity for Democratic leadership in President Cleveland’s failure to grasp the significance of the Populist and labor unrest… and in his cautious and unimaginative approach to economic depression. The unrest… did not spring from a radical movement directed against the established order… or the constitutional system. It grew out of conditions increasingly distressing… on the farms and in the factories. Its purposes were the historic purposes of the Democratic party… to keep opportunity open, the opportunity not merely to rise from barefoot boy to President but for people to find in their accustomed environments useful, respected, and satisfying lives…. The conditions and popular response had many points of similarity to those of the 1930s.

Grover Cleveland… followed the right as he saw it… through a conservative and conventional cast of mind. The agitation seemed to him… a threat to law and order…. Coxey’s Army was met with a barrage of injunctions and… the Capitol police…. The Pullman strike was smashed by federal troops who kept the mails moving, the union leaders imprisoned, and the union crushed. And the financial panic was dealt with through the highly orthodox and [highly] compensated assistance of Mr. Morgan.

The underlying causes… were neither understood nor dealt with… an opportunity was missed…. If, to take one of them, the problems arising out of the concentration of industrial ownership had been tackled when they were still malleable and subject to effective treatment, we might have been spared some aches and pains that are still with us.

But with all this, Grover Cleveland holds an honored place…. When the Congress showed signs… of declaring war on Spain, Cleveland put an end to the business for the duration of his administration by saying… that, if the Congress did declare war, he would refuse to direct it as commander in chief….

[…]

[T]he Democratic Party is not an ideological party…. It represents too many interests to be neatly labeled or to be imprisoned…. It has to be pragramatic…. In the Democratic Party run two strong strands–conservatism and pragmatic experimentation…. [T]he difference between our parties has not been and is not between a party of property and one of proletarians, but between a party which centers on the dominant interests of the business community and a party of many interests, including property interests…. They believe in private property and want more and not less of it. This makes for conservatism.

American labor is now known throughout the world for its conservatism…. the whole stress on seniority grows out of this. Pension rights are property interests of impressive value…. [W]hen a particular kind of property descends in the hierarchy of importance, its owners more and more turn for the protection of their interests to the party of many interests. The owners of land–the farmers–are the most crucial…. Small businessmen, also, are apt to find concern for their problems and welfare lost in the party of business on a larger scale….

An Ethical Focus.

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While rummaging through the detritus of saved documents in my computer’s memory, I came across the following. I do not know when it was written or by who, but I thought I would share it here because it seems to be an eminently reasonable and ethical way to conduct one’s life.

 

ETHICAL FOCUS

Today’s Needs

Give me:
Shelter from the Elements
Food for Mind and Body
Love of Family and Friends

 

Today’s Goals

Let me:
Bring Peace where there is Strife
Be Gentle and Courteous.
Grieve for the Misfortunes of Others
Be Compassionate and Charitable.
Be Patient.
Do no harm.
Ask Forgiveness of those I have Harmed.
Forgive those who have harmed me.
Avoid Damage to the Circle of Life.
Restore where I can what has been Damaged or Harmed.
Help those who Need it
Not Disparage Others.
Be Steadfast in the Face of Criticism for Doing Right.
Be Kind to those who Disagree with me.
Be Humble whenever I may be Exalted.

 

Above all,

be fair to everyone.

History of New Testament translations for those interested in this sort of thing.

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While rummaging through forgotten posts I had saved, I came across the following. I do not know who wrote it, or for that matter why I kept it other than my interest in Biblical History.

I disagree with the writer’s conclusion that the Bible that has come down to us after all its many translations is essentially the same as it was when it was originally written. There have been too many analyses of the various translations demonstrating that not to be the case. Also,  often the translations reflect the various theological views of the translators at the time. Nevertheless. the writer does give an apparently competent and thankfully brief history of the various translations that may be of interest to those, like me, who enjoy researching this sort of thing.

 

26 Intro, Archeology, & Dating the Bible
How do we know when the Bible was actually written?

Introduction

There is a hidden treasure referenced in many of our oldest writings. Fragments of history, poetry, songs, laws, stories, letters, and revelations… This combination of ancient documents spanning almost 1500 years, contains the clues to finding an incredible discovery… an unimaginable treasure. Not mere silver, gold, and precious jewels, but something far greater, something that even lasts beyond the grave… an eternal treasure.

Dating the Bible – Part 1

How do we determine when old documents were originally written?
The text tells us when it was written.
Events and people described in the text.
Other ancient texts that reference the author or text (in either support or opposition).
Author is mentioned in the text and gives us a timeframe.
Based on other artifacts found with or around the documents.

* VIDEO CLIP 1 – Dead Sea Scrolls Video 1

Dating the Bible – Part 2

Old Testament – Written between about 1400 BC and 400 BC
Oldest existing copies:
Hebrew manuscripts from about 200 BC and 100 BC (Dead Sea Scrolls)
Leningrad Codex (oldest complete Hebrew Bible) from about AD 1008
Greek Versions from about 250 BC (Septuagint – translated to Greek in Alexandria)
Near Complete Greek Versions:
a. Codex Vaticanus (325 A.D.)—This manuscript has been in the Vatican Library since it was established in 1448.
b. Codex Sinaiticus (350 A.D.)—This manuscript was discovered in 1844 in a monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai and is now in the British Museum.
c. Codex Alexandrinus (400 A.D.)—This manuscript was given to England’s King Charles I in 1628 by the Patriarch of Constantinople who had obtained it from Alexandria, Egypt. It is now in the British Museum.

New Testament – Written between about AD 40 and AD 95 of the First Century
Oldest existing copies:
Gospel of John from AD 120 (around 25 years after his death)
50+ Incomplete Scrolls from around AD 200
Latin Vulgate – Oldest complete copy of the entire Bible in AD 400 (translated by Jerome)
Hundreds of scroll fragments within the caves of Qumran from around AD 100

Written Process for Ancient Texts

1. The books of the Old Testament and the earliest copies of the New Testament books were laboriously copied by hand from one papyrus or leather scroll to another by scribes who were carefully trained in copying methods to ensure that there were no additions or omissions. About the 2nd century A.D., they began folding sheets of papyrus (made from a plant) or vellum (made from animal skins) in half and stitching them into a book called a codex.

2. So zealous for accuracy were the Jewish scribes that any scroll that contained errors was destroyed, rather than just corrected. Also, any scroll that became heavily worn or damaged from use was destroyed and replaced with a new copy. As a result, very few really old copies of Old Testament books have survived to the present day. Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 in caves near Qumran, Palestine, no copies of Old Testament books produced prior to the time of Christ were known to exist.

3. We know that the Jewish copyists were extremely good at their job, because of the following:
a. The Dead Sea Scrolls included scrolls of every book of the Old Testament except Esther, all copied prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., many of them dating from the first and second centuries B.C. The most important of these scrolls was a leather scroll of the complete book of Isaiah which has been dated 100 to 200 B.C., hundreds of years older than any copy of Isaiah previously found! It had rested in the cave undisturbed for more than 2000 years. This copy varied from the generally accepted text of Isaiah only insignificantly. In other words. the book of Isaiah remains essentially unchanged after more than 2000 years!!

b. As the Hebrew people (and later the Christians) became scattered throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean basin, families of manuscript copies developed. The text of particular books would be copied for hundreds of years by people who had little or no contact with one another. Comparison of manuscripts produced over many centuries from different geographical areas shows that the manuscripts are remarkably identical, with only very minor variations.

c. Scholars have pinpointed the copyist errors in the New Testament and have found them to be insignificant, not affecting a single important fact, doctrine, or rule of faith. Eminent Greek scholar F. J. A. Hort wrote, “Apart from insignificant variations of grammar or spelling, not more than one thousandth part of the whole New Testament is affected by differences of reading.”

How old are the Bible manuscripts and versions?

1. Old Testament—The oldest known Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament were among the Dead Sea Scrolls and dated 100 to 200 B.C. The oldest complete Hebrew Bible is the Leningrad Codex from about 1008 AD in Cairo. The oldest Greek version of the Old Testament is the Septuagint, translated into Greek by Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt about 250 B.C. The oldest nearly complete copies of the Old Testament in Greek are:
a. Codex Vaticanus (325 A.D.)—This manuscript has been in the Vatican Library since it was established in 1448.
b. Codex Sinaiticus (350 A.D.)—This manuscript was discovered in 1844 in a monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai and is now in the British Museum.
c. Codex Alexandrinus (400 A.D.)—This manuscript was given to England’s King Charles I in 1628 by the Patriarch of Constantinople who had obtained it from Alexandria, Egypt. It is now in the British Museum.

2. New Testament—The earliest known manuscript fragment of the New Testament (from the Gospel of John) dates from about 120 A.D.—no more than 25 years after the death of the Apostle John. About 50 other fragments are dated less than 200 years from the date of their original writing.

3. The oldest nearly complete version of the Bible in Latin is the Latin Vulgate(400 A.D.)—The scholar Jerome translated the Bible into Latin about 400 A.D. and it became the Bible of the Roman Catholic Church for more than 1000 years.
How does the age and quantity of Bible manuscripts compare to other ancient writings?

1. Compared to the amount of other ancient writings in existence, the Bible has more manuscript evidence supporting its reliability and accuracy of translation than all other classical writings combined. In particular, the New Testament manuscripts also stand apart from other ancient literature in regard to their close proximity to the time of original composition.
a. Caesar’s Gallic War (written 58 to 50 B.C.)—There are only ten good copies, and the oldest was made 900 years later than the original!

b. The Roman History by Livy (59 B.C.-17 A.D.)—Only 35 of the 142 volumes in this history still exist, in a total of 20 manuscripts. The oldest is from the 4th century A.D.

c. The Histories of Tacitus (100 A.D.)—Of the 14 volumes, only four and ahalf have survived. Of the 16 volumes of his Annals, only 10 survive. These come down to us in only one manuscript each, one from the 9th century A.D. and the other from the 11th century A.D. —700 to 900 vears after they were written!

d. The History of Thucydides (460-400 B.C.)—Only eight manuscripts survive, the oldest about 900 A.D., except for a few papyrus scraps from the 1st century A.D. The complete manuscripts are from 1300 years after they were written!

e. The Plays of William Shakespeare —In every one of Shakespeare’s 37 plays, there are probably a hundred passages still in dispute as to their original text, a large portion of which materially affect the meaning of the passages in which they occur. (Not so, the New Testament, written 1500 years before Shakespeare was born!)
2. Eminent scholar F. F. Bruce wrote, “If we compare the present state of the New Testament text with that of any other ancient writing, we must . . . declare it to be marvelously correct. Such has been the care with which the New Testament has been copied—a care which has doubtless grown out of a true reverence for its holy words —such has been the providence of God in preserving for His Church in each and every age a competently exact text of the Scriptures, that . . . the New Testament (is) unrivaled among ancient writings in the purity of its text as actually transmitted and kept in use. . . . The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning. And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.”

Other Old Documents

Other Old Documents

Author

Book

Date Written

Earliest Copies

Time Gap

No. of Copies

Homer

Iliad

800 BC

C. 400 BC

400 years

643

Herodotus

History

480-425 BC

C. 900 AD

1350 years

8

Thucydides

History

460-400 BC

900 AD

1300 years

8

Plato

400 BC

900 AD

1300 years

8

Demosthenes

300 BC

900 AD

1300 years

7

Caesar

Gallic Wars

100-44 BC

900 AD

1000 years

10

Livy

History of Rome

59-17 AD

4th Century (Partial), Mostly 10th Century

400 years

1000 years

1 partial

19 copies

Tacitus

Annals

100 AD

1100 AD

1000 years

20

Pliny Secundus

Natural History

61-113 AD

850 AD

750 years

7

New Testament

50-100 AD

114 Fragments 200 (Books)    250 (Most NT)    325 (Complete NT)    

50 years   100 years 150 years  225 years

5366

Our countries oldest document…
Declaration of Independence – 1776 (it resides in the National Archives today)

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