Saturday, April 29, 2017

Revenge Is a Dish Best Not Chewed -- The Colonel Carries On #82

by Manape of the Canapes

Epigraph: "Everything comes to those who wait, or at least everything left behind by those who hustle." --I.M.J. Saying

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin

What was Franklin talking about? He was writing to the Penn family about their offer to pay a lump sum toward defense of the Pennsylvania colony from Indian attacks if the Pennsylvania legislature would acknowledge that it had no power to tax lands of the Penn family in Pennsylvania. The "essential liberty" in question was the power of the legislature to provide (by taxes if necessary) for collective security, and the "temporary safety" was the lump sum of money the Penns were offering.

So when anti-surveillance advocates use the saying to mean that the populace shouldn't give up their rights to privacy to obtain supposed national security, they are giving it nearly the opposite of the meaning Franklin intended.

Another saying, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," does not appear in that exact form in the in any translation of the Bible. The thought is common enough, as in Matthew 7:12 of the Authorised Version (what Americans call the King James Version): "Therefore in all things whatsoever you would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."

The three Abrahamic religions have different takes on the "inspiration" of scripture. In Judaism, there are gradations of  scriptural inspiration, Torah the highest, the Prophets next, and the Writings third. In Christianity, the notions of inspiration differ along a spectrum, but each notion applies uniformly to the entirety of the corpus. I don't know where Islam stands on the "inspiration" of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, but since Christians and Jews are called "People of the Book" and given higher rank in Islamic society than  pagans, I conclude that Islam puts a positive value on the "Book." Islam reveres Jesus, but like Judaism, thinks Christians made blasphemously too much of him.

"Inspired" is probably not a term a Muslim would use to describe the Koran, which is understood as a record of the oral "Recitations" by the Prophet Mohammed of what Allah prompted him to say. There is even a "pre-existence Koranology" by which the Koran is said to have existed in heaven until the time Allah caused the Prophet to bring it to earth by reciting it aloud.

That high Koranology makes the Koran less comparable to the Bible and more comparable to the Christian idea of the Word of God, who was with God "in the beginning," and who in the fullness of time God sent into "the world." Christians identify the "Word of God" in this sense with Jesus of Nazareth.

And now for some poetry:

can be
the magic
which you say
you want, but only
if you

stand willing

to pull 
that rug out

from under

your own
feet, daily.

--"To Myself," by Bill Knott

The question, "What is the quality of care in America's largest mental health care facilities?" must reflect the fact that we are talking about the nation's jails and prisons.

President Donald J. Trump has invited me to join his advisory panel. The invitation letter included a membership card. The offer is tempting, as I have some advice I would like to give him.

"In the absence of ambiguity, there is no occasion for interpretation." --judicial maxim. One sense of the word "interpretation," however, is "stating the meaning of," so the word "interpretation" sometimes needs interpretation. If you were just now casting about for an example of irony, Bob's your uncle. That's British for "there you go," same as "Fanny's your aunt."

I know you have long wondered what the name of the late Zambian president Mobuto Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga's name means. As a belated Arbor Day gift to you, dear reader, I looked it up, so here goes: "The all-powerful rooster who, because of his endurance and his inflexible will to win, goes from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake." 

Sometimes current events are so stunning that the journalist's Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? become What? What? What? What? Though I am not generally a kind person, I will, in the warm afterglow of Arbor Day, spare you examples.

In ancient times, Jerry Rubin used to tell student crowds, "If you want to be a revolutionary, you have to kill your parents! You have to kill your mother and father!" This gave pause to his listeners who didn't already have paws.

"The idea that huge tax cuts will gin up the economy so much that everything will balance out is a beloved fairy tale." --Gail Collins

Robot locker room looks and smells clean.
Robots are tidy.

It's so nice, say it twice.

A surly farewell.

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