Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"It's Fun Just Being" Popcorn by The Colonel #100 of 100

Who cannot be heartened that scientific study of moon rocks has given fresh support to the Giant Impact Hypothesis of Moon formation? When we were little, another alluringly named theory was still in the running: Captured Wanderer.

When we first saw the South American saying, “Statistics are poetry,” our reaction was, “We had no idea that South Americans had such a love of statistics.” Eventually the sad truth sank in, and recently we came across an English expression of similar gist: “If Galileo had said in verse that the world moved, the inquisition might have let him alone.” (Thomas Hardy, novelist and poet [1840-1928])

“Sophia” (var. “Sofia”) is a beautiful name. It means “wisdom” and is one of the titles of Jesus in Eastern Orthodoxy, embodying an identification of Jesus with the Wisdom who danced before God on the surface of the waters at creation.

The “Hagia Sophia” was the basilica of the Patriarch of Constantinople when the Eastern Roman Empire still lived, and Constantinople was its capital. Today the Hagia Sophia is a museum. The words mean “Holy Wisdom,” and the basilica is named after Jesus under that title. In a way, it’s like “Xavier” in that it’s a personal name made from a title (“Savior”) given to Jesus.

In the pagan world, “Cynthia” worked the same way: because of her birthplace on Mount Cynthus on Delos, Artemis -- twin sister of Apollo -- was called "Cynthia," i.e., "[she] of Cynthus." So a modern “Cynthia” (nickname “Cindy”) is named after Artemis under one of her epithets.

That kinda kicks the can down the road, though, because it makes one ask, "So what does 'Cynthus' (Greek 'Kunthos') mean?" Darned if we know.

“I go after fakery and fascism wherever I find it. I used to find it on the right, and I went after it there. The right didn’t like it. But you can’t trust fakery and fascism; it won't stay put. It moved over to the left. I started going after it there, and guess what? The left didn't like it, either.” --Al Capp, cartoonist ("Li'l Abner")

One of the greatest comebacks ever was Benjamin Disraeli’s response to an anti-Semitic taunt in Parliament:  “Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the Right Honorable gentlemen were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.” In our unverified recollection, that zinger had something in it about running naked in the forest painted blue, but maybe that was Hunter Thompson.

Sometimes Disraeli’s observations were so dry they could evaporate an ocean: “You will find as you grow older that courage is the rarest of all qualities to be found in public life.”

David Lloyd George (1863-1945) was another British statesman who knew how to put words together: “Some plans must be carried out in one big step. Nothing is more dangerous than to try to leap a chasm in two small jumps.”

And: “The finest eloquence is that which gets things done; the worst is that which delays them.”

Which brings to mind the saying, “When Cicero spoke, his hearers said, ‘How well he speaks!’ When Demosthenes spoke, they said, ‘Let us march!’”

Disraeli and, for all we know, Demosthenes, would have blessed Secretary of State Dean Rusk’s question to Charles de Gaulle when de Gaulle withdrew France from the common NATO military command and ordered that all American soldiers must leave France immediately: “Does your order include the bodies of American soldiers in France’s cemeteries?”

If universal vegetarianism would stop global warming cold by reducing to insignificance the number of methane-producing bovines on the planet, why listen to any proponent of carbon taxes or bans on fossil fuels who is a carnivore? A vegetarian diet isn't so bad; once your body adapts to it, the flatulence abates. The downside to a veggie-only diet is that it’s so healthful, you'll definitely outlive your money.

“In nothing does man, with his grand notions of heaven and charity, show forth his innate, low-bred, wild animalism more clearly than in his treatment of his brother beasts. From the shepherd with his lambs to the red-handed hunter, it is the same; no recognition of rights -- only murder in one form or another.” -John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914). A human who commits murder displays “animalism”? Surely this is a case where Homer nodded, since the logic is that animals are murderers. If so, what’s so bad about killing them? We often speak wildly in times of high emotion, and what brings out more intense emotion than mass murder? Or was Stalin correct that one death is a tragedy, but a million deaths is a statistic?

Thanks for the opportunity to serve you 100 helpings of Popcorn. Thanks to the elite few who took the time and trouble to comment, to our Eye colleagues, especially Karen Swartz, even though she kept censoring out the profanity, and to The Colonel's Lady, our best critic and everybody's best tree and garden consultant.

Aaronic apopemptic: "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace."


Anonymous said...

And there was a void. Thank you, Colonel. For the before the void.

Brian Stewart said...

The Colonel's bons mots were the Lay's potato chips of popcorn, and they will be sorely miss'd.

Elizabeth Bobrick said...

What? WHAAAAAT? No more Popcorn? I look away from the Eye for a few days and this is what happens? This last column was a gem. I especially enjoyed Mr. Disraeli's and Mr. Rusk's comebacks.

Esteemed Colonel, accept my thanks for the many times you have informed and entertained your readers.

I appreciate as well the occasional opportunities you have given me to share trivia about ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. (This activity is also known as 'showing off.') Take your question re: the meaning of Cynthus, for example. The twins Apollo and Artemis were born on Mt. Cynthos on the island of Delos. Hence their epithets Cynthia and Cynthios. As it happens, neither of these epithets are used often in Greek literature. I can't tell you much about their frequency in Latin literature, which I've forgotten, or never knew.

And now, because of your departure, I will know even less. Many thanks for the 100 chances to learn and laugh.

ever yr. humble servant,
Elizabeth Bobrick

Anonymous said...

Cynthia and Cynthios? Reminds me of my sister's kids I call Denise and Denephew.

Karen Swartz said...

R$e%d&a*c@t#e$d ... you will be missed. ~Karen