Category: Sundry
Posted by: seanmcox

Most people don't know this about me, yet, but I'm a nut about the history of stories. It all started when I read a copy of Grimm's fairy tales about 4 years ago. Many of the stories were very similar, or more commonly, shared and reworked elements. By the end, it felt like I was reading the same story over and over again. One story, in particular, was called "The Girl without Hands". At this point I was already interested in the symbolism in stories so while I was reading, I would sometimes go online to read commentaries on the stories. Anyhow, the commentary on "The Girl without Hands" was interesting, and took into account earlier versions of the story, which I found at the university library and read.

Anyhow, I'm always excited when I am able to recognize where a story came from. Like, how Bones, Psych, and House are all based on Sherlock Holmes.

A couple of months ago, I sat down with Ephraim and we watched "Phineas and Ferb: across the Second Dimension" and then, quite coincidentally, I then began my goal of watching all of the Sliders episodes. What I discovered was that the pilot episode of Sliders was basically the same story as "Phineas and Ferb: across the Second Dimension". In season 3, episode 27 (the 4th of the season) we have what is basically the story in Disney's "The Kid". Both episode's of sliders, interestingly enough, had the same writer.

Another story I've been seeing a lot of is Faust. I'd heard about Faust before, but I never really knew what the story was about until after I watched "Limitless", which I realized was related to the old deal-with-the-devil cycle of stories. ("Bedazzled" is another, more obvious, example, along with "Pinocchio".) Limitless, of course, was a tale intended as political commentary on the state of the economy. (It made a good point, but overall, I thought it contradicted itself in the end.)



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Category: Religion
Posted by: seanmcox

Some time ago I was reading through The Works of Philo. (I still am... it's a long read.) He'd talked a little bit in an earlier part of the book about the difference between a "husbandman" and someone who cultivates the ground. As he puts it:

The generality of men not understanding the nature of things, do also of necessity err with respect to the composition of names; ... For what man is there who is at all hasty in forming an opinion, who would not think that the being a husbandman (geoÁrgia), and the occupying one's self in cultivating the ground (heÁ geÁsergasia), were the same thing? And yet in real truth, not only are these things not the same, but they are even very much separated from one another, so as to be opposed to, and at variance with one another. Philo, "On Husbandry", I
It seemed to me at first that Philo might be splitting his hairs a little too fine. He had made this distinction in an earlier portion of the book, but in this chapter/book (On Husbandry), he really develops the idea. Anyhow, here is the distinction, as Philo puts it:
For a man without any skill may labour at taking care of the land; but if a man is called a husbandman, he, from his mere name, is believed to be no unskilful man, but a farmer of experience, inasmuch as his name (geoÁrgos) has been derived from agricultural skill (geoÁrgikeÁ techneÁ), of which he is the namesake. And besides all this, we must likewise consider this other point, that the tiller of the ground (ho geÁs ergateÁs) looks only to one end, namely, to his wages; for he is altogether a hireling, and has no care whatever to till the land well. But the husbandman (ho geoÁrgos) would be glad also to contribute something of his own, and to spend in addition some of his private resources for the sake of improving the soil, and of avoiding blame from those who understand the business; for his desire is to derive his revenues every year not from any other source, but from his agricultural labours, when they have been brought into a productive state. Philo, "On Husbandry", I

In other words, as the New Testament makes an explicit distinction between the shepherd and the hireling, we learn from Philo here that this distinction can also be found implicitly in the writings of Moses. And, in fact, he finds also the same distinction between a shepherd and a keeper of sheep.

We have now therefore explained, in what respect, the occupation of tilling the ground differs from husbandry, and a tiller of the ground from a husbandman. And we must now consider whether there are not some other species akin to these already mentioned, but which, through the common names borne by them and others, conceal the real difference which exists between them. At least there are two which we have discovered by investigation, concerning which we will say what is fitting, if it is in our power. Therefore, as we found a tiller of the earth and a husbandman, though there did not appear to be any difference between them (till we came to investigate the allegorical meaning concealed under each name), nevertheless very far removed from one another in fact, such also shall we find to be the case with a shepherd and a keeper of sheep. For the lawgiver sometimes speaks of the occupation of a shepherd, and sometimes of that of a keeper of sheep. And those who do not examine expressions with any excessive accuracy, will perhaps fancy that these two appellations are synonymous terms for the same employment. They are, however, in reality the names of things which are widely different in the meaning affixed to their concealed ideas. For if it is customary to give both the names of shepherd and keeper of sheep to those who have the management of flocks, still they do not give these names to that reason which is the superintendent of the flock of the soul; for a man who is but an indifferent manager of a flock is called a keeper of sheep, but a good and faithful one is called a shepherd... Philo, "On Husbandry", VI

So then, Philo expresses this theme as one that one might be able to find generally (though he only identifies the distinction made using two sets of symbols) in the writings of Moses.

I wonder at how apparent this theme was to those who were closer to the language and time-period.

But the providence of God is the principal and almost the only cause that the divisions of the soul are not left entirely without any governor, and that they have met with a blameless and in all respects good shepherd. Philo, "On Husbandry", XII


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Category: Sundry
Posted by: seanmcox

When Cassey asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, I had just been thinking about what I wanted to do after I finished reading The Book of Mormon in French. I've been trying to do some language study each day during my commute to work, and I've been trying to combine that with my scripture study.

One thing I learned while reading the Book of Mormon in French, is that Isaiah still reads like Isaiah, even in a foreign language. Even though I normally have no trouble with Isaiah in English, I found that I could easily tell I was reading Isaiah by the fact that I had to keep my French dictionary handy. Usually I just keep it in my bag and maybe pull it out once or twice a chapter. By I had to look up a word practically every other verse or more whenever I found myself getting into a citation of Isaiah.

Anyhow, I just recently finished reading through Alma, and thought it was time to start planning for the eventual end of the book. I still have a small matter of months before I finish, but the follow-up plan could require some preparation.

Since starting the routine I've really only been through the Book of Mormon in Portuguese (as a refresher), and of course, I'm most of the way through the French translation. I chose French partially because I thought it might help me with Egyptology, and partially because I knew it wouldn't be extremely difficult. (It's just another simple romance language like Spanish or Portuguese. Latin... not simple; I've never gotten very good, but having learned Portuguese helps.) To follow up French, an obvious thought might be German. I'm also interested in Hebrew, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, Latin, Tagalag, or maybe Samoan. (Not to mention Old English, Middle Egyptian, or Mayan, which I don't think I could find much material for of the right nature.) In the end, however, I chose Coptic, which is obscure, but is descended from Middle Egyptian, which I know a little about and hope to know more about. It also has plenty of standard Christian writings available.

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09/04: Guess What...

Category: Family
Posted by: seanmcox
Chicken Butt! Go to the blog entry...

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Category: Government
Posted by: seanmcox
My voter guide is ready for March 8th. Are you? We have 14 candidates for city council in Norwalk, California, and I've been doing research for months. I expect to add lots more information between now and election day. (I'm a little behind.) One thing I can say for sure is, a difficult race now seems pretty easy to decide. I know who I'm going to vote for. Do you?

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Category: Religion
Posted by: seanmcox

While working on The Glyph Project recently, I came across this word jˁb, which is an Ancient Egyptian verb meaning "to unite". While making improvements to the page, I noticed that the word had been used in one of the phrase entries in the project, but I determined that the usage was more likely ˁb. Actually, the verb which is listed as ˁb, I expect, is actually the same word at a different point in the evolution of the language, or under the influence of a lazy scribe, or regional dialect. Those weak consonants had a tendency to disappear or become forgotten.

Anyhow, the interesting thing that I noticed was that ˁb is also a noun referring to a horn. This immediately struck me as familiar and relating to a prophecy about Ephraim. In particular, Deuteronomy 33:17 which reads:

His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.

Note: The word we have here as unicorn, here, was, in Hebrew, referring to a wild ox.

So this verse is part of a prophecy regarding Joseph, and is here more particularly referring to his sons Ephraim and Manasseh, how are likened to the two horns of an ox. The thing that jumps out at me is that, at least in Egyptian, we have some interesting wordplay potential. Further interesting to me, is that since the verb "to unite" is often given a determinative of a horn, the Egyptian's very clearly connected the concept of horns and gathering. (I'm wondering if the horns reminded them of pitchforks or something, or if there's some behavior they were familiar with that I'm just not seeing.)

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Category: Sundry
Posted by: seanmcox

Each year, neat things happen, and important things are written. Here are some important writings from 2010 (or 2009) that I have gotten around to reading this year and which you might consider for yourself.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

A solid victory for the Freedom of Speech, but hotly contested in the political arena, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is certainly one of the most important things to come out of this year. As I have told many, McCain-Feingold has been an irritant to me and was one of the primary reasons that I didn't vote for McCain, and even left the Republican Party (I'm currently an Independent, and no, I didn't vote for Obama). The main opinion has weaknesses, but the conclusion is solid. I couldn't concur more with Justice Thomas's opinion. The dissent of Justice Stevens struck a raw nerve. His dissent does a good job of exposing some weaknesses in the arguments of the majority, but he simultaneously expresses the very essence of what conservatives fear from government, and spends much of his 90 pages knocking down juvenile mischaracterizations of the majority position. It's 183 pages, but don't let that scare you off. After all, they use a large font. (Update: The opinion isn't on the Supreme Court website anymore. The currently linked version is formatted across multiple HTML pages and uses a different font. I don't know what the page count would be anymore.)

Salt Lake City City Code - 2009-63 and 2009-64 (Ch. 10.04 and 10.05)

These ordinances made the news due to the support they received from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They're anti-discrimination ordinances focused on gender identity and sexuality discrimination. I thought them worth looking at as examples of what exactly it might take to do anti-discrimination right. I think they were worth the review.

The Utah Compact

The Utah Compact was mentioned in the Newsroom of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during 2010. The Church officially supports the principles of the compact, and since immigration is such a big issue, I thought I would check it out. It's a tiny document. My initial impression is that I can't disagree with any of the points made, but that said I really think it misses some important points. This may be useful for addressing a general anti-immigrant sentiment, and maybe there is one in Utah, but my experience has not brought me into contact with a general anti-immigrant sentiment. The one thing that I think is useful here is the law enforcement section, because I believe the state/federal role in immigration is not fully appreciated in many quarters. (See: Harold P. Sturgeon v. William J. Bratton et al., Break the Cycle et al., Interveners and Respondents for more information.) However illegal immigration and the influx of people of ill will is what I think generally concerns people, and I don't think The Utah Compact, with all its hype, really does much to address these real issues. To me, it comes across as accurate in principle, but somewhat one-sided.



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Category: Technical
Posted by: seanmcox

As of the beginning of last month, Twitter removed support for their simple authentication mechanism, so I was forced to carry out my plans to upgrade to implement OAuth for authentication. Fortunately, Twitter linked to some helpful examples. Nevertheless, even with a library to help me along, it was fairly painful. (Part of that might have been due to the fact that I had a cold for the first part of the work, and a flu for the rest.)

Nevertheless, my auto-tweeting, and my site-integrated tweeting are now both functional. Hoorah!



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Category: Government
Posted by: seanmcox

After my experience with my last voter guide, I decided to create a wiki and, as of today, I am announcing that the wiki is here and ready with a good number of my recommendations. I plan to keep updating it as we get closer to the election, so if I haven't posted much on a topic now, come back and take a look later. Also feel free to participate in talk pages if you have any feedback, comments, or questions, or alternatively, you can comment here. (I'm pretty vigilant against spam, however, so I warn you to be relevant and coherent lest I mistake your comment for a disguised site promotion. I also insist on civility.)

The views expressed are typically mine, but I plan to accept help from some quarters. I strive not have a neutral point of view. That is, I strive to have an opinion, and I will keep studying the issues and updating content until I have enough information to form an opinion. However, until election day, this is a work in progress, and I may not decide some very difficult issues until very close to that day. Most issues, however, that are covered, have been decided at this point, and I'm doing my best to find time to add my thoughts and citations.



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Category: The Shtick
Posted by: seanmcox

Back in February, we lost our laptop to a tragic toddler and milk accident. We lost a lot of things, and we have restored almost all that we could. One item I was anxious to restore was some of my Image Editor work.

Anyhow, last night, I was finally able to get things back in order. After one failed attempt to find a good Java decompiler, I sat down a couple of nights ago and quickly found one that was promising. It even integrated right into eclipse.

The long and short of it is, The Shtick Image Editor is back in production.



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