Reality Check in Housewares

Yeah, you try coming up with a different title for each one. These are gonna be a little random.
  • So remember when Brit Hume got into all that trouble for saying Tiger Woods might want to turn to Christianity for redemption? Yeah, well, at the very least, Woods might want to turn to a branch of Buddhism that accepts the Mahayana sutras—unlike the Theravada he appears to practice, the Mahayana (and Vajrayana) do claim to offer redemption. Lord Amitabha Tathagata, anyone?

    Far less excusable, frankly, are all those people who said Buddhism isn't about redemption because, quote, "it doesn't believe in sin." Huh. Really? So then what are the ten hells for? What is it called if you don't refrain from harming, taking that which isn't given, sexual misconduct, false speech, or intoxicants which interfere with mindfulness? What about if you kill your mother, father, or an arhat, harm a bodhisattva, or introduce division into the body of the Sangha?

    Yes, of course, Buddhism doesn't have a concept of sin as "wrong because it breaks a divine command". But then, neither does Christianity—see Summa Theologica, Prima Secundae partis, Q. 106. But apparently it's not common knowledge that Christianity's understanding of sin is a complete, radical departure from the Jewish one?

    Of course, most of the "Buddhism" on offer in the West isn't Buddhism at all, it's Fox Zen.

  • My sister had an interesting point, RE: the debate on the religion of the Founding Fathers. Namely, Jefferson can't have been a Deist, since Deists didn't start their letters with "In Christ". He was just what we'd call a Liberal Christian.

    Actually the only Deist founder was Ben "Turkey instead of Bald Eagle" Franklin, and Payne was the only atheist.

    I think it would be really fun to get an atheist to agree that America was based on Enlightenment principles as exemplified by Rousseau, rather than Christian principles. Once they agree, see, you ask them to tear up their voter card—Rousseau considered atheists incapable of discharging the duties of a citizen. So did Voltaire.

  • Tycho Brahe (an atheist who probably puts the lie to Rousseau and Voltaire's theory there) makes occasional reference to some dude's Geek Hierarchy, but the hierarchy is fundamentally conceptually flawed. See, it's based on the concept "Consider Themselves Less Geeky Than". But this is the dark work of Thesauruses, Devil's Catechisms as I call them—there are differences between the synonyms for nerd. For instance, Lord of the Rings fans are generally held much geekier than Star Wars fans—Huttese takes up about four pages, know how many Sindarin takes?—but, as long as they don't cosplay, they're considered much less dorky.

  • So I may, myself, have been wrong for many years, when I said Navajo was the hardest language ever, having as it does the hard parts of Chinese, Zulu, and Basque—and the phonics of Klingon. No literally, it has tone, verbs inflected according to which of over a dozen classes their subject goes in, and it's ergative; Klingon has the sound-palette of Tlingit, which is distantly related to Navajo and has the same sounds.

    But I may have been wrong, because I just took a look at Tibetan. And damn. Not only is it ergative, verbs are divided into "volitional" and "non-volitional", and it has three classes each for its copula and existential expletive. And then there's the spelling—it'd be like if we still spelled our language gelice hit wer Eald Englisc, but still pronounced it exactly like we do.

    It might still be slightly easier than Navajo, though, but only because I know Japanese; stuff in Tibetan that'll give you a headache if it's the first time you meet it, like the way relative constructions work (or are worked around, actually, since it hasn't really got them) is old hat to me. That's not the case for Navajo.

    In case you were wondering, I was using Tibetan grammar for a language in a more by-the-book D&D setting I'm coming up with, for the elves (in my fantasy book elves can't talk, remember). The language also has the phonics of Hungarian—I don't know, maybe I just enjoy pain.

  • It's weird to me how people who hate Glenn Beck don't seem to know what they should hate him for. Make no mistake; I consider him a contemptible, vapid ideologue who's doing more than anyone else to help the right wing become complacent and self-satisfied in unthinking conformity to an illusory worldview. In other words I hate him for being too damn much like America's left.

    But people always attack him for being "angry"! Angry? Delusional I'll give you, a bit tinfoilly behatted even, but all his raving is diluted with healthy doses of self-deprecation and comedy and flat-out schtick. You can hate him for his ideas and his bad arguments—pretty much the ab auctoritate right down the line, coupled with a child's faith in his particular brand of liberalism that makes David Brin look iconoclastic (yes, Brin, it's just a different brand of liberalism)—but his presentation is pretty much irreproachable. That's actually why I don't like him; he makes his crappy ideas too much fun.

    Then again the same people who say that about Beck think O'Reilly is right-wing. He's to the left of Dennis Miller on everything but social issues, kids.

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