’20 A To Z Challenge – Q

My mind grinds fine, but exceeding slow.

The lesson for today is taken from the Second Book of Archon, Chapter II: Verse 6.  Words beginning with the letter Q, while a bit more plentiful than those with X, Y, or Z, are not thick on the ground.  The word of the day is

QUERN

a primitive, hand-operated mill for grinding grain.

The first time the wife and I went to Charleston, SC, we continued on past to visit the Middleton Plantation.  Yankee troops burned the original mansion down.  All that remains are the stone and concrete veranda, and the slaves’ quarters at one end.  These now comprise a small museum, and the living quarters of the current owners.

Still, the building is larger than many homes in upscale, gated communities.  I can only imagine how grand and epic the original structure must have been.  Included in the museum are three Faberge eggs – one complete, and two missing their internal hidden treasures.

The plantation sits beside a long stretch of slow, shallow, river.  The biggest cash crop was rice, but, up on the flats, cotton was grown as well, along with fruits and vegetables for sale, and to feed the residents.

Huge amounts of corn flour and corn meal were required to supply annual dietary needs.  The river could not be used to drive a mill, so dried corn was fed into small hand mills – querns – and ground down.  Adult and adolescent slaves were needed for other plantation tasks.  This job usually fell to Negro tweens.  A hardwood dowel handle was inserted into the upper mill half, and children spent ten or twelve hours a day – alternating arms, turning and turning and turning….

Not to downplay the evils of slave ownership, but poor white folks – and free Negroes in the North – used to face mind-numbing, and body breaking, drudgery to keep themselves alive and fed.  The modern motorized technology has replaced most of these types of onerous tasks, but has made many first-world citizens physically soft and weak.  To achieve what honest labor used to provide, it has been replaced by ‘The Gym.’  Run 5K on a treadmill – but don’t actually get anywhere.   😯

Book Review #23

more research into Christianity vs. Secularism. The author has more than 20 books about the New Testament. I just can’t believe that he points out all the mistakes and contradictions…. yet says that he still believes.

Christian Apologists insist that Atheists “rebel against God,” or “deny God,” or, “have something against God,” usually attached to a baseless claim that they do it so that they can ‘sin’.  This old Atheist – especially as I get older and older – certainly doesn’t.  My sinning days are long past.  Substitute the word unicorn, for God.  I don’t rebel against unicorns.  I don’t deny unicorns.  I don’t have something against unicorns.  I would love it if they actually existed.  I just don’t see any evidence for either.

Like most other Atheists that I know, as the specter of my imminent demise looms closer and closer, I would welcome the existence of a God, a Savior, Salvation, Heaven and Eternal Life.  In the futile hope of some proof, I sometimes seek the knowledge and opinions of experts.

The Book: Jesus Interrupted

The Author: Bart Ehrman

The review:  I start with an author whose name made me suspect that he was Jewish.  I thought that I might get a glimpse of the New Testament from the outside.  I was mistaken and disappointed.  Still, he attended three prestigious theological colleges, has degrees, and letters behind his name.  He should know something.  He has published over 20 books about different aspects of the New Testament.

He now teaches at a theological college.  He says that, almost without exception, each year’s new batch of students think they do – but really don’t – have any idea of what the Bible actually says.  He laid out a trail of over a hundred examples of Biblical errors, contradictions, misinterpretations, insertions, deletions, forgeries, books credited to Paul or the Apostles but actually written by someone else.

A couple of the forgeries made it into the Canon.  A few of the books which seem valid to researchers were left out.  The four Apostolic Gospels, and Paul’s writings, don’t agree with each other.  He admits that they were intentionally skewed (deceptive propaganda) to mislead different groups, to get them to join the movement.  Of the graduates who go on to become priests, preachers or ministers, he has never heard of one who teaches, or even mentions, any of this to their congregations.

As I was reading this book, I encountered a female Atheist blogger who was reading one of his other books.  She thought that he was, at least, an Agnostic.  In my book, he says that he is a non-denominational Christian.  He shows how modern Christian dogma and Orthodoxy came into being, just because the group centered in Rome – weren’t true and correct – just better organized and more powerful. 

After all of this, he says that he ignores all these inconvenient details, and believes in Christ as a Savior, because the underlying story is so uplifting.  He claims that he will not officially join a particular religion or Christian Denomination until he finds one which doesn’t harass or marginalize females or LGBTQ.  😯  Well, good luck with that.

Each year, when it comes time to teach why the Jews do not accept Jesus as the Messiah, he shows them how He does not fill the requirements in Hebrew religious law.  To them, Jesus was just an itinerant, apocalyptic rabbi, who claimed to speak for God.  He uses the analogy of how foolish it would be for Christians to accept the similar claims of David Koresh, of Waco’s Branch Davidian.  Each year, at least one student complains on their professor evaluation form, “I can’t believe that Ehrman believes that David Koresh is the Lord of the Universe.”  He finds it amusing.  I find it amusing that he does not see the irony.

As always, I had hoped to learn something new.  All I learned was to choose my reading more carefully.

’20 A To Z Challenge – L


What else do I need to say??! I’m not usually tongue-tied, although some people have suggested that it should be put in handcuffs…. Tongue-cuffs??…. I’ll check with the ‘Adult Store.’ They may have something really, fucking kinky.

LALOCHEZIA everyone! Shed the stress. 😈 If you make bail on the public profanity charge, stop back in a couple of days.
***

Adventures In Non-Sequitur Land

This is a framed copy of a reproduction of a Saturday Evening Post cover. It, and a mug with his name, –CYRIL – were all I got back from the nursing home, after my Father died. I don’t know where, or when, or how, he obtained it. I never saw it hanging in my parents’ little house.

Those who know me, know that I am Psmith. Dad was always a little distant, and self-centered. It pleases me to believe that the why that he obtained it, was because of me.

A year ago, when I wanted to attach it to my ‘I’ve Never Herd Of Smith’ post, I kept getting a message from WordPress – Error. Unable to upload image. There are two copies of this image, one taken with a camera, and the other with the scanner/printer. WordPress would accept neither. Recently – JUST BECAUSE – I tried again, and it slid smoothly into the Media file.   😳

DON’T TAKE THEIR WORD FOR IT

Dictionary

Pros

The crashed space contraction – was actually a weather balloon contraption.

This Texas joined has many options – Move your joint closer to that dictionary.

She one the homecoming queen title – That’s won title I’m impressed with.

From the prospective of the actor – he should have a bit more perspective.

Facepalm

They wear mink coats made of polar bear fur:facepalm:

I’ll make a help meet for him – A helpmate would have been a better idea.  This isn’t a dating site.

The ugly crowd finally disbursed. – Not unless they were paid to disperse.

The city had a wide away of amenities – Alwight, Elmer Fudd, just look at this array.

She has plead guilty – I plead that you use the word pled.

Companies that engage in development no they have a responsibility – They’re responsible to know the right word.

Overwhelms their soy-dullened senses – I would offer a zingy riposte to that, but I’m busy eating a “Beyond Meat”© burger…. and I just can’t seem to think of one.

His chariot-horses were poisend – Any desire to read his book was poisoned.

Australian writers of a radical bend – I bent over, and found the proper word.

They tried to recoop their expenses – put them back in a cage till tax-time.

The monster was bearing its great fangs – since it was born.  Now it is baring them.

It’s more comfortable without the extra seems – It seems that you should use seams.

He continues to pressure his passion in arts – No pressure, just look up pursue

Camoflauge Chic – Apparently the correct spelling was camouflaged.

New York Times
The President has not been seeing wearing a mask – the writer should be seen at an ESL class.

They weren’t sure what the reporter’s roll was – I believe it was rye, possibly pumpernickel

US racing violence leaves PM without words – I have one – Race!,  %&$#@

Amateurs

In the mean, politicians fixate on getting re-elected. – In the main, that is true.

I dear say that reduces the damage – I dare say that construction is wrong.

Any nation that was invited in time of war – I invite you to look up invaded.

If any descent was voiced – I dissent with that spelling

I had him paged as an anemic redneck – I had you pegged as illiterate.

On sale, Pop-Tards – on a sign printed by Re-Tard

She treated him with distain – getting the lipstick off his collar.  I have disdain for her.

Undo credence is given to tradition – but undue attention is not given to the correct word.

Your boyfriend seen nice – He also seemed to speak English.

People who rock up to you when you’re busy – should just walk away.

When religion grabs the leavers of political power – It’s time to lever it back out, and leave.

Policed said they would canvas the building – Threw a tarp over it so that so that English teachers could canvass it.

This harps back to a time – When we said that it harks back.

Working with medal to produce something – Put the pedal to the metal.

The Universe was created it if nothing – A Universe of confusion was created out of that construction.

A kid nailed a two by floor in a tree – My Dad called it a two by twice.

It was the Law of Unattended Consequences – You should have intended to attend English class.

All I had to do was right them down – All that’s left is to write the right word.

Except the one recanting the tale – Recant that spelling, and go with recounting.

We were weakly church attenders, and I alter-served – But would have done better, at home with a textbook.

Gotta love those threats of eternal tournament – That misusage is a torment to me.

Flash Fiction #234

Negotiation

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

VROOM! VROOM!

I’m not a very good bargainer, but I really wanted that second-hand Toyota Supra!  Like cars from my youth – only better.  Something I could feel as I piloted it, not computer-ridden, and self-driving.

Not midlife-crisis-red, it had a four-speed stick-shift, and was painted Electric BlueTravis McGee would approve.*

He was asking $18,000.

I offered $12,000 – book-value.

Standard transmission is rarer – $17,000

I’m stealing from my son’s inheritance – $13,000

It’s got four brand-new tires – $16,000

My credit card is melting. – $14,000

My wife is expecting our first. – $15,000!

Radar-detectors are illegal.  I must be careful.

***

* Author John D. MacDonald invented a Miami-based character named Travis McGee. To support himself, he specialized in finding and returning items that were not precisely ‘legally’ lost, because they may not have been exactly legally owned in the first place – all for a 50% cut.  In novels written between 1964 and 1984, he drove a 1939 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, which someone had Frankensteined into a pickup truck, and painted Electric Blue.

***

Join the Friday Fictioneers.  Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

friday-fictioneers-badge-web

Book Review #22

Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven

Mark Twain, making fun of Christians’ beliefs about heaven. 

The book: Captain Stormfield’s Visit To Heaven

The author: Mark Twain = Samuel Langhorne Clemens

The review: This is a short story written by Mark Twain, about 1868. It was not published until 1909 – 41 years later – because it was thought to insult all the Good Christians.

The story follows Captain Elias Stormfield on his decades-long cosmic journey to Heaven; his accidental misplacement after racing a comet; his short-lived interest in singing and playing the harp (generated by his preconceptions of heaven); and the general obsession of souls with the celebrities of Heaven such as Adam, Moses, and Elijah, who according to Twain become as distant to most people in Heaven as living celebrities are on Earth (an early parody of celebrity culture). Twain uses this story to show his view that the common conception of Heaven is ludicrous, and points out the incongruities of such beliefs with his characteristic adroit usage of hyperbole.

Much of the story’s description is given by the character Sandy McWilliams, a cranberry farmer who is very experienced in the ways of Heaven. Sandy gives Stormfield, a newcomer, the description in the form of a conversational question-and-answer session. The Heaven described by him is similar to the conventional Christian Heaven, but includes a larger version of all the locations on Earth, as well as of everywhere in the universe (which mention of, albeit as a backdrop, is the last science fiction element).

All sentient life-forms travel to Heaven, often through interplanetary or interstellar space, and land at a particular gate (which are without number), which is reserved for people from that originating planet. Each newcomer must then give his name and planet of origin to a gatekeeper, who sends him in to Heaven.

Once inside, the person spends eternity living as it thinks fit, usually according to its true (sometimes undiscovered) talent. According to one of the characters, a cobbler who “has the soul of a poet in him won’t have to make shoes here,” implying that he would instead turn to poetry and achieve perfection in it.

On special occasions a procession of the greatest people in history is formed; on the occasion of Stormfield’s arrival, this includes Buddha, William Shakespeare, Homer, Mohammed, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah plus several otherwise unknown people whose talents far exceeded those of the world’s pivotal figures, but who were never famous on Earth.

As Stormfield proceeds through Heaven he learns that the conventional image of angels as winged, white-robed figures bearing haloes, harps, and palm leaves is a mere illusion generated for the benefit of humans, who mistake “figurative language” for accurate description (the wings are part of their uniforms, and not functionally wings); that all of Heaven’s denizens choose their ages, thus aligning themselves with the time of life at which they were most content; that anything desired is awarded to its seeker, if it does not violate any prohibition; that the prohibitions themselves are different from those envisioned on Earth; that each of the Earth-like regions of Heaven includes every human being who has ever lived on it; that families are not always together forever, because of decisions made by those who have died first; that white-skinned people are a minority in Heaven; that kings are not kings in Heaven (Charles II is a comedian while Henry VI has a religious book-stand), etc.

Making fun of slavery was one thing, but making fun of people’s cherished Christian beliefs was something else entirely. This book never did well, and even many Twain aficionados are not aware of it.

 

’20 A To Z Challenge – D

A To Z ChallengeLetter D

Death

I am the God of Hellfire and in this episode of the A to Z Challenge, I bring you

D’EATH

(deeth)
This little-known English word is almost as uncommon as the imported surname. The D’eath family originally lived in the town of Ath in Belgium. There it would have been rendered D’Ath, or De Ath, meaning from Ath. It was also occasionally an occupational name for a gatherer or seller of kindling. In this case, the name is derived from the Middle English word dethe, which in turn is derived from the Old English word dyth, which means fuel or tinder.

Families with the name D’eath might know where it came from and what it meant. The word’s other reference is to the rather sketchy occupation, whose bundles of firewood sticks known as faggots, have deteriorated into a modern insult for homosexuals. To the superstitious, this, and its similarity to the word ‘death,’ make them uneasy when they encounter it.

Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey DSO is the fictional protagonist in a series of detective novels and short stories by Dorothy L. Sayers (and their continuation by Jill Paton Walsh ). A dilettante who solves mysteries for his own amusement, Wimsey is an archetype for the British gentleman detective.

In one book, the hero investigates a suspicious fatality at a company doing sensitive government work. He poses as the man’s replacement, under the name Peter D’eath, telling the manager that he hopes it will startle the guilty party into somehow revealing himself. It was an amusing but needless literary device, because the author goes on to show that it was a prank of a mail-room teen with a slingshot – an English ‘catapult’ – which caused the man to fall down a flight of stairs.

What’d You Say?

Hearing Aid

I went to the doctor’s the other day, and told her I have hearing problems.
She said, “Can you describe the symptoms?”
I said, “Homer’s a big fat guy, and Marge has tall blue hair.”

I just saw a burglar kicking his own door in.
I asked, “What are you doing?”
He said, “Working from home.

Mother’s Day commercials – diamonds on sale for $3000
Father’s Day commercials – Target men’s shorts on sale for $11.00

It’s been a strange sort of day. First I found a hatful of money, then I was chased by some weirdo with a guitar.

I was late for work today, because I got drunk last night, and set my calculator for $5.30.

OMG, I’m rich! Silver in the hair, gold in the teeth, crystals in the kidneys, sugar in the blood, lead in the butt, iron in the arteries, and an inexhaustible supply of natural gas.

I can’t remember how to write 1, 1000, 51, 6, and 500 in Roman numerals.
I’M LIVID

A man went into the library, and asked for a book on Probability.
The librarian replied, “Possibly it’s on that shelf over there.”

I went on a job interview the other day.
The interviewer said, “It says on your resume that you are a man of mystery.”
I replied, “That’s correct.”
He asked, “Would you care to elaborate?”
I said, “No.”

Of course I should clean my windows. But privacy is important too.

Somebody once said to me, “Archon, You’re too pretentious.” I think that it was Jean Paul Sartre – or it could have been the Dalai Lama, I forget.

My father was an old-fashioned provider. He hunted with a bow and arrow. There was never a problem till he got to the canned goods section of the supermarket.

When my wife starts to sing I always go out and do some garden work so our neighbors can see there’s no domestic violence going on.

An old Irish farmer’s dog is missing, and he’s inconsolable.
His wife says, “You should put an ad in the paper.”
Two weeks later, there’s still no sign of the dog.
“What did you put in the paper?” she asks.
“Here boy!” he replies.

Why isn’t the military accepting karate pros?
Because when they salute they might kill themselves.

I am coughing and my nose is plugged.
Internet diagnosis: I am 26 weeks pregnant!

A glass of Nutella has about 9870 calories. But I don’t care. I never eat the glass anyway.

Web site login: Sorry, your password 257EeffQ@# is not secure enough.
Cash machine login 1234: Here’s your 1000 dollars.

Waiter? I’m sorry, but I cannot eat all this. Would you be so kind and pack it for me? To take away?
But sir, this is a buffet.
Pack it up I said!

My dog used to chase people on a bike a lot. It got so bad, finally I had to take his bike away.

“You know how it is in life. One door closes – that means another door opens…”
“Yeah, very nice, but you either fix that or I’m expecting a serious discount on that car!”

My ex-wife still misses me. But her aim is steadily improving.

I Googled “how to start a wildfire”.
I got 48,000 matches.

 

Book Review #21

Once upon a time, a man purchased a book. It was

A Brief History of Time

The book: A Brief History Of Time

The Author: Stephen Hawking

The Review:
Through luck, and association with a particular social group, the man who purchased the book, later got to actually meet the great man, Stephen Hawking himself. He informed him that he had bought and read the book. Largely through Hawking’s handler, the man who guided his wheelchair and who had learned to interpret his minuscule movements, he was asked what he thought of the book.

He replied that he had not understood a word of it. Well…. He got words like a, to, at, the, and, but the rest were over his head like an umbrella. Hawking was surprisingly pleased by this, because it proved that the man had actually read it, even if he didn’t get it.

I tried to get a copy of this book from the library thirty years ago, when it was first published, but it was too popular, and I finally gave up. Recently I thought I’d have another go at it. Hawking’s writing style is pleasantly clear and easy. He claimed that he wanted to provide this information for the ordinary person. Your ‘Ordinary Person’ may vary. MAGA-hat-wearing Trump supporters won’t be forming book clubs to discuss it, nor will it be a hot topic at truck stops.

Even though I’m retired, I’ve kept up my dues to the United Nerds International Union. I was a good halfway through this small (214 page) book before I had to start checking terms and concepts. After the body of the book, Hawking included 2-3 page bios on the likes of Einstein, Galileo, and Newton, to show how their works and discoveries have provided the foundation for modern understanding of the universe.

For a book on time, Hawking spent the first several chapters discussing/explaining matter. Matter and Time are interwoven. You can’t have time without matter. When I was born, scientists had only recently discovered that molecules were made up of atoms. The Second World War brought us the A-Bomb – the atom bomb. A few years later, the thermonuclear hydrogen H-Bomb was produced. These showed that the atoms could be torn apart, and jammed together, made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

More powerful and delicate devices, like the CERN Collider, have shown that even these tiny building blocks are made of even tinier bits. Like strange little trouble-making Gremlins, they have names like quarks, muons, pions, mesons, leptons, tachyons, baryons, gravitons, and bosons. While they are too small to reflect light, fun-loving physicists label them as red, blue and green, and insist that they have ‘spin,’ based on how they react with each other, and reality.

Hawking eventually got around to explaining time – how it (so far) only flows in one direction, from past to future. He showed how it is subjective, and is influenced by mass, and speed of travel. I’ve run into most of these terms and concepts before, but it was nice to see them laid out so completely and clearly.

Ordinarily, with a book so nicely written and presented, I’d be recommending it, but not this one. For most of you, your only concern with time is that you arrive at work before the boss gets grumpy about your ETA. If Hawking’s successors are successful at using black holes to reverse the flow of time, you’ll never have to worry about that again.

There was a young lady from Bright
Who could travel faster than light
She set off one day
In a relative way,
And returned the previous night

This book is different – a niche market. Unless the checkout clerk down at Geeks R Us knows you by name, I suggest giving it a pass. Don’t pass up the chance to read my next post. It will be available in no time at all.

2019 List Of Books Read

Take Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,, stir well, blame it on Shakespeare, and claim you read it all, last year.

In no particular order:

Abaddon's Gate

One of the big books that ‘The Expanse’ TV series is based on. They broadcast one book per year, so I have to read two, to get ahead of the story arc, and stay ahead.

 

A Brief History of Time

It’s been available for several years, so I thought that I would educate myself. It’s not Dr. Seuss level, but Hawking does a good job of making a complex theory comprehensible to non-mathematicians.

 

alien-earth

Possibly only ever published as a pulp fiction, not paperback, I didn’t have a copy of this, along with my other Hamilton books. I found this, perhaps inadvertently attached to another article that I was researching..

 

Ballistic

A men’s’ action/adventure book, good for passing time in retirement. This is the third in a series. The first was terrible. The second was so-so. The story arc is improving. If I hadn’t already bought this one, I might never have.

Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven

Mark Twain, making fun of Christians’ beliefs about heaven. I’ll post a book-review later.

 

Chromosome 6

Like John Grisham’s work, Robin Cook’s is also dense. I read Coma, and liked it, but this one took me a while to struggle through.

 

Cibola Burn

This is the second of the Expanse books that I read last year. The next TV series became available on December 18/19, but I’m saving it till summer.

 

Duty And Honor

Tom Clancy’s ghost keeps pumping these out, and I keep reading them.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness of Crowds

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds

I’ve already done a book-review on this one. Interesting enough, but too old to be relevant.

 

Fledgling

Fun but formulaic Science Fiction. The daughter of a University professor grows up with enhanced cognitive powers.

Galileo Goes to Jail, And Other Myths

Gilileo Goes To Jail

Research into Christianity vs. Secularism.

 

Jesus Interrupted

more research into Christianity vs. Secularism. The author has more than 20 books about the New Testament. I just can’t believe that he points out all the mistakes and contradictions…. yet says that he still believes.

 

Magic Stars

One of two I that I read, that are the last in this series. Magic in Atlanta. I’ve already started on another series by the same authors, Magic in Red Deer, Texas.

 

Monster Hunter Memoirs Saints

One well-known author butted into another’s series, and wrote two books. It took the first as much time and effort to edit them, and assure that they fit in the canon, as if he’d written them himself. The other title is Sinners, which I’ll read this year.

No Middle Name

A collection of Jack Reacher short stories.

 

Origin

Dan Brown’s latest – unless he’s released another one while I was publishing this list.

 

Paradox Bound

This author likes to play with alternate timelines & realities.

 

People Named Smith

It wasn’t as interesting as I’d hoped – but then, perhaps people named Smith just aren’t interesting.

 

Recruit

A story about space marines. The blurb sounded good, but the book was Young Adult – nothing wrong, just nothing right.

Redshirts

A book about how the original Star Trek was real…. or was it??!

 

Small Magics

The last in this sword and werewolves series – unless the rabid fans convince the author couple to write another. They are quite prolific, with four concurrent series, and a couple of stand-alones.

 

The Bone Labyrinth

Not “Great Literature,” but a great time passer.

The Midnight Line

I’m reading these faster than Lee Child can write them. I will regret when the series ends. There are still two more ahead of me.

 

The Psychology Of Time Travel

Science Fiction and time travel from a woman’s point of view. More suspense than action, but interesting.

 

True Faith And Allegiance

I started this in Dec. but the need to read and return that next big Expanse book to the library in Jan. means that I’m just finishing it now.

Why Are You Atheists So Angry

Yet more Christians vs. Atheists research. Christian Apologists can be so irritating – unintentionally amusing and interesting – but irritating.

Even if you don’t have the time/energy to list all the books you read last year, do you have any specials that you’d like to mention?