words


On a wall in Constanta, a city in Romania, on the coast of the Black Sea.

ma gandesc

For those who weren’t there (and the photo isn’t great and it had been raining), it reads:
Mă gândesc la tine în multe feluri foarte des.

For those who don’t speak Romanian, it means:
I think of you in many ways very often.

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Occasionally I read statements that get my attention. Recently one of these statements that caught my eye was about Joab, the commander of King David’s army. When David asked Joab and his sub-commanders to number the men of eligible fighting age in Israel, Joab didn’t want to: he objects to David’s command on the basis that it would bring guilt on Israel (1 Chronicles 21:3). 1 Chronicles 21:6 adds that Joab found David’s command abhorrent. Given Joab’s character, I found this curious.

There was no problem with a census as such: the Law allowed for them, provided the numbered people paid half-a-sanctuary-shekel tax. However (more…)

There is a theory that language affects and even determines the way we see the world: people would speak of a Greek mind (worldview), which sought to categorize everything, or that a Hebrew mind had a unique view of time. From what I understand, this theory is no longer believed to be true. I don’t know what the current theory is, and I don’t care enough to look it up. My guess at the answer is that it’s the converse: our view of the world affects our language. People saw the world in such-and-such a way, and had to find or invent the words to communicate their ideas. This affected how their descendants, literal and ideological, saw the world.

Isn’t it rather that our knowledge and imagination, not our language, limit our worldview?
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“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

I. “If you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them.”
Someone said “Homophobia doesn’t mean you’re afraid of homosexual people. It just means you’re an asshole.” Opposing a belief by insulting the people who hold it doesn’t gain us any points; it alienates people. Nor does it make us seem tolerant or compassionate but it does show that we don’t care about what’s true, only about preserving our beliefs.

William Shirer, journalist and author of Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, noted that even the most sane and level-headed person can succumb to ridiculous beliefs and propaganda if they are cut off from external influences and different opinions – and, I must add, cutting themselves off from different opinions by refusing to consider them. If you like to think of yourself as rational, objective, and tolerant, answer the following question: what would convince you to change your belief? It isn’t a comfortable question, but it will show what your belief is based on.

How we react to opposition shows what kind of person we are. Jesus of Nazareth, Martin Luther King, Mohandas Gandhi and many others were murdered by their opponents. What about the person who called his/her opponents “assholes”: how do you think that person would treat you if you disagreed with them?
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Normal blogging will resume as soon as possible.

Until then…

Why hire an editor?

Why hire an editor?

Whatever you think of ursine armament, no one doesn’t like witty wordplay. Although no one doesn’t not like unnecessarily convoluted syntax, except people trying to evade responsibility.

Hebrew: an ancient language in which God spoke. How do you desecrate such a language? How about this..?

When the unholy meets the holy.

When the unholy meets the holy.

I’m a fan of knowledge, learning, and education. We should learn not just facts but also how to think critically: how to evaluate evidence to find the correct, or best, answer. I said this to someone years ago and they replied that people already know how to think. I mostly disagree with this. Everyone can think logically (“I’m hungry, so I need to eat”; “If I speed, then I might get a ticket”) but not everyone thinks critically. You’d hope that “logical” and “critical” would be synonyms, but it isn’t so. There is semantic overlap: critical thinking requires logical thinking, but logical thinking isn’t always critical thinking. You can use logic to critique a point of view you don’t agree with, but critical thinking uses logic to critique all points of view. Even those who can think critically don’t always do it, because they might let their bias, prejudice, or emotions get in the way.

I believe it was George Bernard Shaw who quipped, “Most people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” This is true especially in institutions where dogma replaces rationalism and empiricism. I’m speaking, of course, about universities. (more…)

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