Things Which I Do Not Know: Tri


There is an odd correlation in the Early Middle Ages which I have been waiting for years to hear.

The date I learned for King Arthur was 500 to 550 AD. Close dating in the Middle Ages is fantasy. Shortly after the exodus of the Roman Legions and about the time Angles and Saxons were arriving from what is today Denmark.

Beowulf is dated to the early 500’s by reference to historical persons in the poem. 521 AD is an important estimate.

Vortigern was the name of the British war leader who invited in the Angles and Saxons from the Jutland Peninsula to help fight off the Scots and Picts. This is where they got their legitimacy for being in Britain.

Vortigern was the reported name of a predecessor of Arthur whence he derived his authority.

Beowulf was not the hero’s name. Beowulf was a kenning for bear: The Wolf of Bees. Like referring to the sea as the whales’ road or Washington as the graveyard of innocence.

Arthur was not the King’s name. He was referred as such by Latin writing monks. Arthur is derived from the Latin for bear. Or perhaps Brythonic.

Both are associated with dragons. The red and green dragons of Arthur and the Dragon which Beowulf killed.

Arthur had a named sword. Obviously. Beowulf had a named sword: Hrunting.

They both stared out as youths and later became Kings.

These correlations impress me, but I have never read them. Perhaps this is saved for higher level classes. But I wonder. It is odd that the English have two heros without names from the same time.

Who are ours?


A Mistake on Jeopardy


I smiled at a mistake today on Jeopardy.

The writing on the wall in Daniel is said to be in Aramaic rather than Hebrew. It read “Mene mene tekel parsin” rather than “mene mene tekel upharsin.” Measured, measured, weighed, divided.

This is notable because it is a pun; Those who would divide – parsin – the empire were parse – Persians. They would soon conquer those who had dispersed the Jews.

Sombody, rather someone, had a sense of humor.


Of Course It Is For The Children


Kagehiru writes:

What’s the best way to trial a service designed to monitor what people are saying and
thinking outside of a particular environment? Why, disguise it as a means to protect
children, of course!

Of course it’s for ‘the Children.’ A basic rule of tyranny is never do anything in your own interest: The greed and hunger for power become too apparent.

Kings used to call on divine right: ‘God mean’s for me to rule in is name or I wouldn’t have been born King. Do what God says. Follow me.’

Karl Marx demanded atheism so Socialists said, ‘Historical Determinism makes inevitable what I want. Whatever that is. Don’t struggle’

Since we no longer have real kings and Marxists are licking their wounds, those who want to nail the jello of society to the wall and make us all quiet and predictable need a new god. We love our children. ‘That’ll do.’ So they say, ‘If you love your Children you must do what’s right. Of course, We are the one’s who understand what is right.’

Perhaps this is why the atheistic portion of the Left keeps trying to tell us what Christianity says. ‘Christ wouldn’t own a – insert hated device here – so you should not either. [Psst don’t even look at Luke 22:36. Psalm 144 doesn’t exist.] Sit quietly and accept whatever we say. Remember “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” Jesus wouldn’t throw the bankers out of the Temple of society, would he?’

They suborn a God that competes with their ideology. Did you ever notice that those who push sin taxes – fat, cigarette, 20 oz drinks, sugar, carbon – never seem to believe in Biblical sins? I am fairly sure cigarettes and slurpees were never named as sins in the Bible. And Deuteronomy seemed at one time to have covered everything. I am sure lying to congress and bearing false witness were not sins because their intentions were sooo awesome.



I am peeved at modern superstition.

I hate CE/BCE dating. It is exactly the same as AD/BC except for greater pretense. Partly I dislike the misuse of words to define an in-group and an out-group. Mostly I dislike the superstition which seems to say, ’I am dating from an event, but I will not admit what date it is.’ I don’t care if you date from The founding of the City. From the creation of the Earth. Years since the Yellow Emperor. Since fleeing from the city of the holy meteorite. Or the first self-sustaining atomic pile. I don’t mind Lincoln counting from the signing of a piece of parchment. I greatly mind the cowardly inability to admit what you are counting from.

We also have things that an educated person is required to believe and things we are required to mock. They are sometimes the same thing. Feminists tell us that sexual identity is a social construct and that men must be coerced to behave in an enlightened manner. Children are to be raised with gender neutral toys and ideas and thus bring about an enlightened age. OK. But we are also taught that homosexuals are hard-wired to be that way. That social conditioning of their sexual identity is futile and cruel. I don’t have much social stake in either belief, but they clash. Oh, the dissonance. Those who speak of cisgender assumptions can have two contradictory thoughts in one sentence.[Is not ‘cisgender’ just very bad Latin for ‘normal’?]

Intelligent Design is derided as a supernatural belief that an unnamed source has and is guiding the path of the Earth. I can separate faith from rational analysis. But a few years ago Francis Crick – remember he had a little to do with DNA and genetics – got in trouble for stating that isolated population of humans would not have any way to evolve toward a convergent IQ, or strength, or anything else. The screech at his statement was nothing more than a demand for an Intelligent Design belief towards equality. How else could humanity in widely separate regions miraculously evolve to identical IQ’s, virtues, esthetics, and everything else except melanin concentration?

Anyone have their own favorite modern superstition?

On The Way Writing Works


One of the more mind-boggling moments of school was when I was told the basic job of the CIA was to publish a newspaper. The name changes over the years, And the circulation ranges from the hundreds to one. Some people claim that at times nobody reads it. To a kid raised on James Bond and John le Carré this was a sacrilege. No spies? Microfilm? Secret weapons? Of course it makes perfect sense. Intelligence, in this sense, is just information. And it has to be delivered to the general officers and government leaders who are to use it. However much derring-do, skill, brilliance, or wisdom is used to learn the secret data, it makes no difference unless the people who can make the decisions get it.

This makes one of the most important jobs writing reports. That sounds just sooo boring. But you can easily see a long-winded article about troop movements that is impossible to read. It did no good. All the courage and wit was wasted. A writer who can engagingly impart the intelligence is more valuable than gold. Actually. The temptations are also obvious when seen from this angle. “If I slant the news just a little I can manipulate the President into my way of thinking.” The curse of the puppet master. The danger of hubris is shocking. Of course if one slants the news then there is no credibility, and the whole system becomes worthless. How does such an organization regain its credibility? There must be astounding stories – tragedies and comedies both – but I know of no way I will ever learn of them. A sad wisdom I have achieved, Johnathan, is just how many interesting things there are around me of which I shall never even be aware.

This also brings to mind how many great writers used to work in intelligence. Perhaps they learned to write there. Ian Fleming, Roald Dahl, John Le Carré, Christopher Marlowe, Graham Greene. Do I know mostly British names because they are more open? Or because American names are suppressed in America? Or different culture? It also lends credence to the stories of intelligence officers using newspapers as covers. They have developed most of the skills already. After leaving MI-6 but before he was known as a traitor Kim Philby worked as a reporter.

Oddly, Intelligence, newspapers, and private investigations are almost the same job. Somebody uncovers what is happening and gives the information in the form of a written report to whoever pays for it. The real difference is who buys the information and who far one is willing to go to get it. Newspapers shouldn’t break laws because they have no immunity and publish what they have learned. Governments deal in life and death matters. Many people will do unspeakable things for their government if they believe they are protecting that which they love. And they are protected by their government from their actions. But what happens when their government proves untrustworthy. And eventually all governments let you down. They are always changing, only sometimes for the better. Private investigators straddle the line. It may depend on their client. Their actions may not become public and so be more liable to skirt the law. Of course the Pinkerton Detective Agency ran part of Union Intelligence around the time of the Civil War.

So I suppose I am encouraging you to write. It is a skill that proves valuable. It is also less common than you may suppose and becoming less common. I have heard several people who should know tell me that the only way to learn is to write. Even then you throw away your first book.

Happy birthday, Johnathan,

Your Uncle David

Science, Real and Otherwise

I believe in science. It simply works. In the last three and a half centuries math and science have been so successful in changing our world that its language has been adopted widely. To hilarious results.

If a discipline calls itelf a science, it isn’t. Calculus is real. Physics is science. Chemistry is science. Geology is a real science. Earth Sciences is Geology without the math and science. Political science isn’t science; it’s opinion. Christian science isn’t science. Meteorology is science. Climate science is politics. Applied Science is real and valuable, but it’s not science – it’s engineering. Scientology, arggh. The Sweet Science is neither science nor sweet.

Similarly scientists don’t call themselves such. I know hydrogeologists, biologists, chemists, physicists and engineers. Calling yourself a scientist is like calling yourself a genius; you don’t mind being called one, but one is concieted to call one’s self a scientist. If I call myself a physicist, I say I’ve studied Physics. If I say I am a Scientist, I’m saying I know EVERYTHING.

the Twelve Tables

Miss Amanda Bullis

Dear Amanda,

You are at an age where you will soon be hearing of the social contract. I thought you might like a copy of a few. Oddly enough your ancestors on your father’s side started having written ones a century before Jean Jacques Rousseau introduced the concept to continental currency. Of course that is nothing. On your Mother’s side the concept goes back well over two millennia. Rousseau would have it that the contract and its rewards are not defined and are subject to the general will of society. The English knew better. They learned from the Romans. If a contract exists it must be written and have a meaning that endures. And it must have the same meaning for all people. Else why have a contract? Not to mention a written one.

Do you know of the Twelve Tables? The Romans had two classes: The Patricians and the Plebeians. The Patricians insisted that the laws were sacred. Too sacred to be viewed by the unenlightened. The priests were in charge of the laws. Oddly enough, all the priests – Flamens – were of the upper class; the Patricians. The uneducated would just be confused by the laws anyway. [ Rather like the USA since the 1940’s. Our modern dictum is that the Constitution means whatever the Supreme Court says it does. Regardless of the words.] The poorer Plebeians got fed up with this state and conducted something between a general strike and a civil war. They demanded the laws be posted in public. What the histories so carefully do not say is that the laws did not exist. Note well, this sad truth is indicated by the formation of committees to write the laws rather than the exposing of the supposedly sacred and extant laws. They studied famous, successful codes of law. Especially Greek ones. They were written up in twelve tables and placed in public.

So think of this as your copy of the twelve tables. Words which men and women died to purchase. View them well.

Happy Birthday,