Sunday, 31 July 2016

To Break All Bodies

With Blaugust starting tomorrow, it seems appropriate to fall back on an old Leaflocker standard (read: I like it but it’s reader poison) and present the next part of the Up Goer God Book, the ongoing project of my good friend PsephologyKid to translate the King James Bible into the ten hundred most common words in the English language; for the lols. Since the original release of the first five chapters of the Book last year, Randall Munroe has made a considerably nicer word list that he used for his book Thing Explainer available, so I’ve done a little sprucing up to make chapter 6 TE-compatible.

As always, making the devotional cards for this has been a blast. I let the random number generator pick a verse for me to attempt to illustrate, and also just picked a couple manually because the random number generator just can’t be trusted to pick the best ones and I’m not under the Blaugust content pump just yet.

1 And it came to pass, when men began to have children on the face of the world, and daughters were formed by them,

2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were hot; and they took them wives of all which they wanted.
 3 And the god said, My mind will not always work with man, for that he also has body: yet his days will be an hundred and twenty years.
 4 There were big people in the world in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they formed children with them, the same became strong men which were of old, men well known.
 5 And God saw that the bad wants of man was great in the world, and that every idea of the thoughts of his heart was always bad.
 6 And it made the god sorry that he had made man on the world, and it made him sad at his heart.
 7 And the god said, I will kill man who I have made from the face of the world; both man, and animals, and the quietly moving thing, and the flying animals of the air; for it makes me sorry that I have made them.
 8 But "No are" was found good in the eyes of the god.
 9 These are the children of him: he was a just man and perfect in his children, and he walked with God.
 10 And he formed three sons, "Share Him", "Him", and "Jump Hairs".
 11 The world also was not good before God, and the world was filled with hurting each other.
 12 And God looked upon the world, and, check it out, it was not good; for all the bodies had broken his way upon the world.
 13 And God said to "No are", the end of all bodies is come before me; for the world is filled with hurting each other through them; and, check it out, I will kill them with the world.
 14 Make a water car of wood named like a ground breaking animal; rooms will you make in the water car, and will paint it within and without with black old dead tree water.
 15 And this is how big you will make it: The long side of the water car will be three hundred fingers to arm joins, the wide side of it five ten fingers to arm joins, and the tall side of it three ten fingers to arm joins.
 16 A window will you make to the water car, and in a fingers to arm joins will you finish it above; and the door of the water car will you set in the side there of; with lower, second, and third stories will you make it.

 17 And, check it out, I, even I, do bring a lot of waters upon the world, to break all bodies, where in is the breath of life, from under the place I like; and every thing that is in the world will die.
 18 But with you will I make my promise; and you will come into the water car, you, and your sons, and your wife, and your sons' wives with you.
 19 And of every living thing with bodies, two of every sort will you bring into the water car, to keep them living with you; they will be boy and girl.
 20 Of flying animals after their kind, and of food animals after their kind, of every quietly moving thing of the land after his kind, two of every sort will come to you, to keep them living.
 21 And take you to yourself of all food that is eaten, and you will bring it to yourself; and it will be for food for you, and for them.

 22 In this way did the water car man; following all that God told him to do, so did he.

See, you can turn almost anything into moderately acceptable blog content, it seems, it's easy! I’d love for you to join me over the next month joyful communal blogging. Pick a pace that you think might work and get typing. It’ll be fun, I promise. Catch you tomorrow for the beginning of Blaugust. Same bat time, same bat channel.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

You Must Get a Hold of Me

A quick look at my calendar confirms that the rumours are true, July is basically finished already, and that means that if I’m going to get back in form for the annual festival of frantic typing and fevered late-night web-trawling that is Blaugust it’s about time to dust off the old typewriter and get back on the blogging bandwagon for another year. I get the feeling that Blaugust is going to be a real struggle for me this time, but a boy has to try. Heck, it can hardly be worse than some of my lacklustre attempts over the years, can it?

What better way to begin the ride with a return to my long-running, oft-neglected attempt to read the Western Canon one little chunk at a time? At last count, each ‘week’ of this theoretical 7-year project has taken an average of just under three months, but here’s hoping that the next month or so can improve that average a little.

This Week:

The Odyssey of Homer

Well, Poseidon is really not the kind of guy that you want to piss off. And he’s definitely not the sort of guy that you want to be pissed off by one of your casual acquaintances, is he? I do think there’s an awful lot of irrelevant nonsense that could have been cut from these chapters if Homer had a decent editor. Odysseus so much time hanging out with pigs, trading stories with and telling lies to loyal retainers, Eumaeus well wonder if he’s completely lost all his marbles. #punachieved

Phaedo by Plato

So, we come to the end(?) of the Socratic dialogues. Meno was unintelligible, the Apology was grand comedy, and Philo featured some great arguments. How does Phaedo stack up? Well, in some ways it’s a bit of a summary of the greatest hits of the others. Socrates is less of a jerk, as he’s among friends, but he still a bit of a smarmy git, and some of the ways he argues, like the way that he dismisses the others’ similes as just similes but presents his own as facts, are just plain annoying. For me the strongest parts are the bits about the nature of death and the soul (most of it, I guess!).

Socrates is also pretty hilarious in this one. His friends are all weepy and worried about the future, and he’s cracking some great lines: “And in what way shall we bury you?” “In any way that you like; but you must get hold of me, and take care that I do not run away from you.”
What a card he must have been.

There’s some other great lines in there too, and of course there’s final words of the greatest Western philosopher. Classic. Overall, I don’t think “the one with the chicken” was as good as Philo or the Apology, but it’s totally worth the read for the interesting insights into the way that the Greeks saw the world, and also just to finish off the story with a bang.

Elements by Euclid
Book I

I don’t think I’m going to enjoy reading Euclid very much, which is a little bit of a pity, because if I keep up with the project he and I are going to be acquaintances for quite a while. Quite possibly just becoming a little bit more familiar with how the whole thing is set out is going to make my life easier. Reading it with the guide open as well is pretty handy, as I often want to check the processes of my own modern mathematical brain, and it seems to provide a helpful hand for that. Still, this is the first distinctly different work on the list, a mathematical treatise is definitely not a Socratic dialogue, and I admit to finding the idea pretty interesting in theory, even if the practice leaves me a bit cold so far.

There are a lot of familiar words here, and for good reason, the Declaration is a moving piece of writing. Much of its power comes from the fact that it just seems so reasoned and deliberate, so divorced from the political discourse of today that it just makes you yearn for some real statesmen. Sadly, I feel some of its power is diluted by including in the list of grievances acts committed during the war in the document that was supposed to be listing reasons for the war, but I suppose this is a minor quibble about what is otherwise a scintillating historical document. Definitely worthy of canon status.

Next Week:

For those that don’t recall, we’re following along with the reading list provided here, a few years behind (but the project looks to be abandoned, so we’re actually catching up extremely slowly). I take the weekly readings from this list and subtract from and add to them based on a combination of my secret spreadsheet, special sauce, and weekly enthusiasm level.

This weeks readings were to include the US Articles of Confederation, which is in the Great Books (unsurprisingly, the project was unapologetically focused on Usonian studies) but I’ve cut these since almost no-one else thinks they’re important to read. From the Gateway series, I’ve also cut a letter by George Washington that looks pretty unimportant, as well as something minor from John Stuart Mill, we’ll be getting plenty of him later in the project so I don’t feel particularly compelled to jump right in now. On the other side of the ledger, we have the return of Les Mis and the advent of a little more modern sci-fi.

The Odyssey of Homer
#gbww #fiction #greek
Books XVII-XX (48 pages)

I think the chances are about 50/50 that Odysseus actually gets around to doing anything in the next four chapters. There’s suitors to investigate and a wife to carefully avoid, after all, plus he has to make room to tell some more unnecessary pork pies, because he’s Odysseus and that’s just how he rolls. And gosh doesn’t Athena just love him for it?

Of Friendship by Francis Bacon
#new #ggb #reallyshort #philosophy #english
 (2 pages)

When was the last time we dipped into Bacon? I don’t remember being particularly impressed last time, but let’s see if Friendship makes for a better topic for Bacon to really get his snout into than whatever unmemorable thing we did last time. This quickie represents our only philosophy for the week, so I hope that it is at least vaguely philosophical.

Elements by Euclid
#gbww  #mathematics #greek
Book II (21 pages)

After the joy of last week discovering some of the properties of lines and circles, I bet you’re all just gagging to experience the wonders of Euler’s geometric algebra. Sounds thrilling, I know. All this maths reminds me of first-year high school, and while the memories are generally positive, I don’t feel like I want to dwell on them.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
#not_gbww #fiction #french
Book Five, Chapters I to IV (16 pages) 

When we last dug into Les Mis, Fantine had been forced to leave her daughter behind with some generally horrible people in order to be able to work enough to put food on the table. I expect in the next chapters the actual sad stuff starts, and it’s unlikely to let up for a while. Such a cheerful book, this one.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#new #not_gbww #fiction #english
Chapters 1-3 (36 pages)

Since we needed to fill a few more pages this week and I felt the duel need for something a little more modern and something I could easily get my hands on in paper form, we’re also starting up another novel that is on many lists of the most important books but that I personally have never found very interesting. Let’s find out if not having to study the thing for classes makes it any more enjoyable. It is also available online, though, so just because you don’t have a paper copy like I do doesn’t mean that you’re excused your reading homework.

On that note, please do feel free to join in on the fun by reading along with some selection of this week’s texts if you’ve half an inclination. It’s always good to have company and someone to force me to really think about things instead of just skimming over the good stuff.

Speaking of company, it’d be great to have some fellows along the mad little Blaugust road, too. If you’re interested in joining in, all you have to do is make a plan to post something, anything, during the calendar month of August. Challenge yourself, explore the possibilities. I’ll be hoping to aim for daily posts again, but weekly would be fine too, aim high and fall gloriously short if you have to, it’s more fun that way. Let me know in the comments so that I know to look out for your stuff.