Friday, September 4, 2015

Ovid, Fasti, Book 6, Lines 1-8

The Metamorphoses, a history of the world with an emphasis on the part played by the Greek gods, is generally considered to be Ovid's magnum opus. He's most famous either for that poem or for his love poetry. But some people think very highly of his Fasti, which goes through through the Roman calendar of festivals month by month and concentrates, more than does the Metamorphoses, on Rome's home-grown deities, and less on the Greek imports. Ovid completed half of the poem, going half of the way through the year. Here are the first lines of Book 6:

Hic quoque mensis habet dubias in nomine causas:
quae placeat, positis omnibus ipse leges.
facta canam; sed erunt qui me finxisse loquantur,
nullaque mortali numina visa putent.
est deus in nobis, agitante calescimus illo; 5
impetus hic sacrae semina mentis habet:
fas mihi praecipue voltus vidisse deorum,
vel quia sum vates, vel quia sacra cano.

(It's not certain whence came the name of the month of June. I'll list them all, choose the one you like. I'll sing the truth, but some will claim I'm lying and that no-one ever saw any gods. A god is in us. We're warmed when he stirs, and it's his impulse which inspires us. I'm allowed to see the faces of the god, whether it's because I'm a poet or because I sing of the sacred.)


I would not be doing my proper atheist duty if I failed to balance this rather sincere- and literal-seeming expression of theistic belief by mentioning that in Ars Amatoria Ovid wrote the much less literal-sounding

Expedit esse deos, et, ut expedit, esse putemus.

(It's conventient that there are gods, and since it's convenient, let's believe it.)


As for the Metamorphoses and the Fasti: it's more convenient to act as if the gods are real when they're your main subject. Whatever Ovid believed, I believe his poems are smashing.

With Kim Davis In Jail, The Couple Who Were Challenging Her Get Their Marriage License


On the left, that's Brian Mason, a deputy clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, giving James Yates and William Smith Jr their marriage license.

The New York Times reports. The Times also delivers Friday's Bizarro-World quote of the day, from Ms Davis' 4th husband:

"Just because five Supreme Court judges make a ruling, it’s not a law."

I can't top that, so I'm out.





Thursday, September 3, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: 'Kentucky clerk ordered to jail for refusing to issue gay marriage license'

A judge has ordered her jailed. The gay couple bringing suit against her has also said they'd like to see her fined.

Forgive me if this is a naive question, but why hasn't the woman been FIRED? Is it that hard to fire a government employee for breaking the law at work which they're supposed to be carrying out at work? Has she not been fired because the person who shoulg've fired her is also homophobic? doe that higher-up person also need to be fired?

Do the couple couple suing the clerk not WANT her to be fired? Do they want to compel her to follow the law instead?

Is she going to get a job with Fox News like that other person who's famous only for breaking the law, Oliver North?

PS: Some readers have explained to me that the clerk in question, Kim Davis, is an elected official. That explains a lot. More news: deputy clerks in Davis' office say that they will issue marriage licenses in accordance with the law. I've also learned that Davis, that staunch supporter of traditional family values, has been married 4 times.

A False-Alarm Anxiety About One Of My Favorite Facebook Groups

Over the past few days, it has seemed that one of my favorite Facebook groups has been almost entirely inactive.

But then I remembered: I block a lot of people. A LOT. No no, really: Lots and lots and scads and an amazing number of people.

Some Facebooks groups I've been in tend to generally try to discourage blocking of other group members. Others don't allow blocking at all.

And one particularly nightmarish group not only forbade all blocking but also required all members to answer all questions posed to them by other group members. In normal civilized society, even the parts of it which disallow blocking, one can end a long and fruitless argument by walking away and letting the other person have the last word. Usually, not answering can be understood and accepted as a answer.

There was simply no way I was going to last in that group.

So anyway, probably that group I like, which I mentioned at the beginning of this post, has been pretty lively over the past few days, with all of the people I like chattering away in threads under OP's posted by all of those New Atheists, fundamentalist Southern Baptists, Elisabeth-Foerster-Nietzscheans, anti-vaxxers and others who have joined the group recently, whose contributions I decided I did not wish to see, much less wishing to comment upon them.

I hope they're having fun. I'm pretty sure they are. I'm pretty sure the parts of the group I can see will liven up again eventually.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Chess Log: 1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 ♘f6 3. ♘xe5 ♘xe4 4. d4 c5 5. ♗d3 ♘xf2!

1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 ♘f6 3. ♘xe5 ♘xe4 4. d4 c5 5. ♗d3 ♘xf2! 6. ♔xf2 ♕h4 7. g3 ♕xd4 8. ♔f1 ♕xe5 9. ♘c3 d6 10. ♗f4 ♕f6 11. ♘d5! ♕xb2? [11. ...♕d8] 12. ♘c7! ♔d7 13. ♘xa8 ♘c6 14. ♗f5 ♔d8 15. ♖b1 ♕xa2 16. ♖a1 ♕c4 17. ♗d3 ♕e6 18. ♕e2 ♕xe2 19. ♗xe2 ♗d7 20. ♖d1 ♔c8 21. ♗xd6 ♗xd6 22. ♖xd6 ♖d8 23. ♗g4 ♗xg4 24. ♖xd8 ♔xd8 25. h3 ♗e6 26. ♔f2 ♔c8 27. ♖d1 ♔b8 28. g4 ♔xa8 29. ♔f3 ♘d4 30. ♔e4 ♘xc2?? 31. ♖d8! 1-0 {Black resigns}

I played White. 3. [...♘xe4] is not considered the best line by MCO-13, which favors 3. [...d6]. 4. d4 took us out of the book entirely.

Black was rated 100 points higher than I, and played like it, keeping me off-balance for most of the game with a steady, aggressive attack. Perhaps Black felt a little over-confident, leading to the decisive blunder of 30. [...]♘xc2??. Moving either the a or b Pawn instead, or 30. [...]f5+, might have wrapped things up for all practical purposes.

Calisthenics With & Without Weights

I was doing some "head & shoulders, knees & toes" calisthenics just now. I didn't really feel them: that is to say, I am not yet so fat & flabby, at 6-3 and 290-something, that a dozen quick reps were enough to make me breathe hard or to make any muscles sore.

Then I thought: how about with weights? So I did a dozen reps with a 1 lb weight in each hand. Made an effort to go fast. Still can't really say I felt anything.

Then I did 2 dozen fast reps with a 5 lb weight in each hand. I felt that: my heart and breathing rates were increased for a couple of minutes afterwards, and although it wouldn't really be accurate to say that I'm sore, I can feel a couple of the individual muscles in my back. Not unpleasantly. Just feels like they got a little bit of a workout. Pleasant, actually. I woke those muscles up, and they're glad to be here.

I am not going to try to do "head & shoulders, knees & toes" with 30 lbs in each hand. Not today, anyway.

New Atheists Are Always Fighting Fundies, Even When There Are No Fundies Around

A quotes some verses from the Bible praising love and kindness and little birdies and puppydawgs.

B mocks A by posting a meme showing someone reading a Bible verse about being sure to beat your slaves, or slaying someone for eating shrimp, and thinking, "God is awesome!"

A says, I was talking above love and puppydawgs, not slaves, and not capital punishment for shellfish eaters! I don't even believe in God! What's wrong with you?

What's wrong with them, A, is that they are New Atheists. (I'm an atheist, but not a New Atheist. I'm a Steven Bollinger Can Haz Nobel Atheist.) New Atheists are constantly arguing with literalist fundamentalists, the people who say that every word of the Bible (usually the King James Bible) is the perfect eternal word of almighty Gawd. New Atheists argue with those fundamentalists all the time, whether there are any around or not.

That's what's wrong with them. Mention the Bible, and they accuse you of advocating the slaying of people who eat shrimp. For them, fundamentalists are always around -- in their heads. A lot of them were raised by fundies and are clearly still traumatized by that, but after they escaped the fundamentalist frying pan they leaped right into the New Atheist fire and started distorting things, and seeing who can outdo whom in -- well: zealotry. There's no other name for it.

Now, most fundies are homophobic, and most of the general population side with the New Atheists in opposing the homophobia of the fundies. Where the distortion of the New Atheists come in is how they are always ragging on the Bible verses about things like keeping your slaves in line and beating your daughters and killing the eaters of shellfish and touchers of pigskin, as if slavery and killing people for touching pigskin were still widespread problems.

Where "progressive" theologians tend to distort things is in the other direction: trying to make it sound as if NO people EVER persecuted gay men and lesbians, or owned slaves and beat them, on the authority of the Bible, when clearly, both of those were majority Jewish and Christian positions for a long, long time, and when it's equally clear that most of the cultures which became Christian had previously been non-homophobic.

It'd be nice if it were so clear that it didn't need to be said that quoting a passage from the Bible doesn't mean that you're either a fundie or a "progressive" theologian or any other kind of Christian or practicing Jew or a New Atheist either. Yeah, it'd be nice if people didn't go off like hand grenades of absurdity as soon as anybody mentioned certain things.

(I'm not sure how seriously the seafood injunctions were ever taken -- I mean, I know that to this day many Jews and some Christians follow a kosher diet. What I'm talking about is, I don't know exactly how severely people were ever punished for violating kosher dietary rules. You'll have to ask an historian of Judaism or Christianity about that. In other words -- don't ask a New Atheist. They're about as un-expert and little interested in historical investigation as the fundies in their childhoods and in their heads.)

So in conclusion: feel free to think for yourself and like or dislike this or that part of the Bible as if it were actually just another book, despite all those crazy fundies and New Atheists.

PS: Another thing that's wrong with New Atheists recently is that they're really over-doing it with the memes. But to be fair, they're hardly the only ones.