T P O

T   P   O
The Patient Ox (aka Hénock Gugsa)

G r e e t i n g s !

** TPO **
an irreligious blog
with egalitarian and individualist tendencies!


On the menu ... politics, music, poetry, and other good stuff.
There is humor, but there is blunt seriousness here as well!


Parfois, on parle français ici aussi. Soyez bienvenus!

Intelligent comments are always welcome!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Shadow - by Robert Louis Stevenson


 

 
R. L. Stevenson (1850-1894)

  My Shadow

by Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow--
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Fox News vs Scholar - by Slate


click to enlarge

Fox News vs. Scholar
[Fox News to Scholar: Why Would a Muslim Write a Book About Jesus?] *
===== /// =====
Slate.com (Daniel Politi)

     It’s got plenty of competition but this may just be the single most cringe-worthy, embarrassing interview on Fox News. At least in recent memory. Fox News anchor Lauren Green had religious scholar Reza Aslan on her FoxNews.com show Friday to talk about Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, his book that has been stirring up some online controversy recently.
     And right off the bat, Green gets to what is important: “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?”
     Aslan seemed a little flabbergasted: “Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim.” ....
========================================
Sample of reactions from Slate readers follows ...

Mr. Smith:
Doesn't Fox News have a single person on their staff who can read? 
Seriously, Fox. He uses the words “I was Muslim” on page three of the book. Did reading the first two pages exhaust you so much you couldn’t carry on?  The book opens with a 3-4 page "Author's Note", wherein Aslan lays explains he was "…raised Muslim in a motley family of lukewarm Muslims and exuberant atheists…”, and left religion and Islam behind when his family fled Iran after the revolution. He converted to Christianity when his family came to America in his early teens; “I burned with absolute devotion to my newfound faith”. 
He then talks about doubts that arose when he researched Jesus’ life to defend his new-found faith against those who pointed out some of the paradoxes of Christianity. So, rather than simply speaking louder to drown out the questions, he devoted the next 20 years of his life to RESEARCH (a concept entirely foreign to Fox News) to better answer the critics. 
His findings? 
“Today, I can confidently say that two decades of rigorous academic research into the origins of Christianity has made me a more genuinely committed disciple of Jesus of Nazareth than I was of Jesus Christ.”
Fox. Try reading books. BEFORE you burn them. By extension, that goes to Fox's defenders.
    feeblest.tinkerer:
    This. Freaking this people!
    SpoonsJTD:
    You get a like for quoting the line I use to do my halfway decent Sean Connery   
     impression. And it's a good post, that too.
        Mr. Smith:
        I wrote it with Sean Connery's voice in my head...
            DANIEL:
            Try it with Schwarzenegger's voice on a slow day.
            Reality_Jane:
            I'm so glad that was written with Connery's voice in mind. Otherwise,   
            I'm fairly sure I'm getting too far out there to belong anywhere anymore. (o;
----------------------------------------

El Presidente:
So did Jesus have any right to write a book about Moses? Only if Jesus was Jewish, then do Christians have the right to write about Jesus? Since Jesus was Jewish and not Christian. I'm confused about who can write books about whom.
    Brian Berke:
    Jesus was born Jewish but converted to Christianity.
        Promise:
        ? I hope you are joking.
        Not great, Bob!:
        I think he is.
        Brian Berke:
        Well, kind of. It's technically true since he started Christianity and all.
        Btomson:
        No, he died as a follower of the Jewish faith. He wasn't intending to start a new 
        religion, his followers did that after his death.
        SpoonsJTD:
        'Technically'
        You keep saying that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.
        Brian Berke:
        He died Jewish...then came back to life as a Christian. Technically.
        Sparks:
        What about when Jesus was in America, as set forth in "Jesus: The Mormon Years"  
        (or whatever the title was)?
        Promise:
        No, he didn't, Brian Berke. When [he] was alive he was Jewish. When he rose from 
        the grave and ascended into heaven, he was Jewish although I'd like to think at that 
        point he'd transcended labels.  
        Sparks, That time he was just trolling.
        Not great, Bob!:
        OK, so maybe he wasn't joking. What he's saying is still pretty funny, though.
    Btomson:
    That's a joke right?
    SpoonsJTD:
    He was a Baptist, obviously.
        Promise:
        Considering so many of the Baptists I know think they're the only ones who are 
        Christian. Seriously, somehow Catholics, the Orthodox churches, the Coptic and
        Ethiopian churches, and all of the mainline Protestants aren't Christians according to 
        most Baptists that I know! How's that for not knowing anything about the faith you 
        profess!
    Promise:
    Brian Berke, 
    No, he didn't. Christianity didn't actually start until well after he was around. If you want 
    to point at anyone, point at Saints Peter and Paul as the ones who started it. And even
    they didn't think of it as a new religion so much as a branch of Judaism.
        Brian Berke:
        All that stuff your saying seems true. I'm just running with this as people seem to be 
        up in arms over it.
    Promise:
    ? Jesus didn't write anything. Well, he might have, but it didn't survive.
        Mujokan:
        He wrote a book about Moses, but he was crucified by the New York Review of
        Books.

-----------------------------------------

eisenhower:
Stupid interview, but Aslan should have expected backlash since he (or his publisher) called Jesus a zealot - an obviously apt description, but one with pejorative connotation.
    Mujokan:
    This is called being outraged all the way to the bank.
    Amira Rules:
    Zealot was a political "party" active during Jesus' time. So it's a term of art here.
    eisenhower:
    I know, it is an apt description, but it has pejorative connotations since the typical use is 
    as an insult. I'm sure the publishers knew this.
    Trebuchet:
    Not really. Maybe in your circles.
    Amira Rules:
    I agree that Slate readers might be more likely to buy the book if they thought it was an 
    insult.
----------------------------------------

feeblest.tinkerer:
Aren't really super evangelical Christians kinda proud of the "zealot" title, pejorative or not?
    Trebuchet:
    When I was training to be an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, we had a prayer where we 
     pledged to be the "Zealots of Jesus Christ"It was not a pejorative in any way or form.
    Amira Rules:
    I doubt evangelical Christians enjoy being insulting more than the next person.
        Codge:
        Begging your pardon, in my experience they LOVE being insulting...
   
----------------------------------------

Bulltorch:
I like it when he talks really slowly to her... This is how every interviewee needs to respond 
to every foxnews interviewer all the time....
    DANIEL:
    Unless they have a box of crayons handy, then they can draw simple stick figures.

----------------------------------------

Fundog:
Top 3 Funniest Online Videos Ever - 
1. Sad Cat Diaries
2. Aslan Has Lauren Green For Lunch
3. Honey Badger Don't Care
    Ralph w:
    Let me put the severity in context for you. How would you feel if a cat wrote about a 
    book about you, Fundog? Not so funny now, huh!
        Jesus Christ:
        I would soooooooooo love it if a cat wrote a book about me. That would be hilarious.
       You know, God really is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.
        Promise:
        Based on my cats' behavior, they wouldn't write a book about you because you are 
        not food, a litter-box, a toy, or a bed. Now, if you fed them yummy treats and played 
        with them, then they might show a minor interest in you for about 5 minutes.
        Ryan Cox:
        Meow is the winter of our discontent....


/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

* Source: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/07/28/video_fox_news_lauren_green_asks_reza_aslan_why_muslim_would_be
_interested.html?wpisrc=newsletter_jcr:content



Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pet Demographics – Trends & Possible Truths ... - by Robert M. Thorson


graphics by Henock  (click to enlarge)
Pet Demographics – Trends & Possible Truths
~~~~~~~ // ~~~~~~~
“Connecticut’s Not Going For The Dogs”
By Robert M. Thorson * - The Hartford Courant / Opinion (7/24/2013)

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one in the world who doesn't own a dog. So let me set the record straight. I'm normal.

According to the best data available, Connecticut ranks 49th out of 50 states in terms of dog ownership, with only 28.3 percent of households owning a dog in 2011. And the trend is down. In 2006, the last year comparable data were available, our state ranked higher, at 47th with an ownership rate of 28.9 percent.

These facts and quotes come from a recent compendium titled "U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook (2012)," published by the American Veterinary Medical Association to ensure best practices. Founded in 1863, the association represents more than 84,000 veterinarians and acts as a "collective voice for its membership and for the profession." The report was based on a survey of more than 50,000 U.S. households.

In no state does a majority of households own a dog, not even top-ranked Arkansas with 47.9 percent. Ranking dead last among states is Massachusetts, with only 23.6 percent of households owning dogs. The District of Columbia is even lower, with only 13.1 percent of households owning a dog.

Being curious about these numbers, I compared the statistics for dog ownership to the statistics for educational attainment reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. I discovered that Arkansas ranks dead last in terms of educational attainment when measured by the percentage of population with a graduate degree. Only 6.1 percent met the criteria in 2009, the last year for which I could find data. The top-ranked state was Massachusetts, with 16.4 percent. In the District of Columbia, a whopping 28.0 percent of the population had an advanced degree.

These, of course, are statewide averages. There are plenty of dog-owning professionals in the most rural parts of Arkansas, and plenty of non-dog-owning high school dropouts walking the urbanized banks of the Charles River by Harvard and MIT in Cambridge, Mass.

Nevertheless, the correlation between dog ownership and lack of advanced degrees is nearly perfect. Of course everyone knows that correlation and causality are not the same. Darkness doesn't cause sleep any more than dog ownership limits your education, and vice versa. Not being a statistician, social scientist, veterinarian or pet owner, and not wishing to infuriate my readers, I'll disqualify myself from attempting the obvious explanation.

Cats are even more popular than dogs. In top-ranked Vermont, 49.5 percent households own one or more. Dead last is Utah at 24.6 percent. Utah, of course, is a red state: Republican across the board, based on voter registration, the 2012 presidential election, the present governor, the majority of the upper and lower houses, the senior and junior U.S. senators, and the U.S. House delegation. Vermont is a blue state: Democratic across the board, except for Bernie Sanders, the nation's only independent socialist senator.

As before, correlation and causality are not the same. But I can't help speculating that if the cats could vote, we would all be living in a socialist country. And if dogs could vote, they would abolish student loans for graduate school. What does this say about households with both cats and dogs?

The notion of dogs and cats voting isn't that far-fetched because most pets are adults, and more than six out of 10 pet owners "considered their pets to be family members." This fact, reported by the AMVA on the website devoted to the sourcebook, raises the disarming conclusion that these owners must also believe that it's OK to buy and sell members of their family. I see no way around this logic. Do the math. If A=B and B=C, then A=C.

Some owners must also feel OK about lending their family members to help strangers. Consider the now-popular University of Connecticut library program that lends 20 to 25 "stress dogs" to students during final exams week each semester to help relieve their anxiety. This clearly works for some human students. But at what ethical cost to the other species?
_________________________________


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Eight Qualities of Cultured People - by Anton Chekhov


Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

Eight Qualities of Cultured People
by Anton Chekhov *
~~~~~~~~ **** ~~~~~~~~

    1.    They respect human personality, and therefore they are always kind, gentle, polite, and ready to give in to others. They do not make a row because of a hammer or a lost piece of india-rubber; if they live with anyone they do not regard it as a favour and, going away, they do not say “nobody can live with you.” They forgive noise and cold and dried-up meat and witticisms and the presence of strangers in their homes.

2.    They have sympathy not for beggars and cats alone. Their heart aches for what the eye does not see…. They sit up at night in order to help P…., to pay for brothers at the University, and to buy clothes for their mother.

3.    They respect the property of others, and therefore pay their debts.

4.    They are sincere, and dread lying like fire. They don’t lie even in small things. A lie is insulting to the listener and puts him in a lower position in the eyes of the speaker. They do not pose, they behave in the street as they do at home, they do not show off before their humbler comrades. They are not given to babbling and forcing their uninvited confidences on others. Out of respect for other people’s ears they more often keep silent than talk.

5.    They do not disparage themselves to rouse compassion. They do not play on the strings of other people’s hearts so that they may sigh and make much of them. They do not say “I am misunderstood,” or “I have become second-rate,” because all this is striving after cheap effect, is vulgar, stale, false….

6.    They have no shallow vanity. They do not care for such false diamonds as knowing celebrities, shaking hands with the drunken P., [Translator's Note: Probably Palmin, a minor poet.] listening to the raptures of a stray spectator in a picture show, being renowned in the taverns…. If they do a pennyworth they do not strut about as though they had done a hundred roubles’ worth, and do not brag of having the entry where others are not admitted…. The truly talented always keep in obscurity among the crowd, as far as possible from advertisement…. Even Krylov has said that an empty barrel echoes more loudly than a full one.

7.    If they have a talent they respect it. They sacrifice to it rest, women, wine, vanity…. They are proud of their talent…. Besides, they are fastidious.

8.    They develop the aesthetic feeling in themselves. They cannot go to sleep in their clothes, see cracks full of bugs on the walls, breathe bad air, walk on a floor that has been spat upon, cook their meals over an oil stove. They seek as far as possible to restrain and ennoble the sexual instinct…. What they want in a woman is not a bed-fellow … They do not ask for the cleverness which shows itself in continual lying. They want especially, if they are artists, freshness, elegance, humanity, the capacity for motherhood…. They do not swill vodka at all hours of the day and night, do not sniff at cupboards, for they are not pigs and know they are not. They drink only when they are free, on occasion…. For they want mens sana in corpore sano [a healthy mind in a healthy body].

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* Source: "Letters of Anton Chekhov to His Family and Friends" - www.brainpickings.org  

La merveilleuse Angèle Dubeau - by TPO


Angèle Dubeau ( 1962 - )

La merveilleuse Angèle Dubeau
===== // =====




Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Discovering Guile in People - by TPO




Discovering Guile in People
====== ### ======
By TPO

In the normal course of our daily lives, it is very natural and even sound to expect the good and the unselfish in people, especially those with whom we have a considerable degree of contact. We take for granted that we will find forthrightness and honesty because these character traits need to be there for smooth, viable human relationships. Thus, it is rather a shocking revelation when guile and untruthfullness surface and manifest themselves unexpectedly. Such discovery can only be described as a lightening bolt of betrayal.

The best way to understand what guile  means may be by asking what it is not.
What does ‘no guile’ mean?

       In wikianswers.com, the answer is given thus: 
To be without guile is to be free of deceit, cunning, hypocrisy, and dishonesty in thought or action. To beguile is to deceive or lead astray, as Lucifer beguiled Eve in the Garden of Eden. A person without guile is a person of innocence, honest intent, and pure motives, whose life reflects the simple practice of conforming his daily actions to principles of integrity.

To further understand ‘guile’, imagine the following scenario if you please ....

     At work, you are suddenly required to answer for an event (an incident) that happened four or five years ago. You know and you are assured by your manager(s) that there was never any issue of negligence or incompetence on your part in the way you handled the matter at the time. Now, however, a new angle of controversy with legal implications has sprouted regarding that same incident. Interestingly, it appears that it is everybody’s contention that this may be a  lost cause, a fiasco. Still, an imposition is made on you to give a legal deposition regarding your part in the matter. You cooperate and undergo this ordeal all the while feeling resentful that you have essentially been thrown under the bus by your manager. This sentiment was especially reinforced by the lack of preparatory support to you from the callously indifferent bosses. Thankfully, the ordeal is now over for you, and you want to close the book on it and purge everything from your memory.
     
     A few weeks later, one of those same self-serving bosses calls you on the phone to ask you about how it all went for you ... because it now appears it is his turn to make a deposition. It should be noted that he is one of those hands-off types who basically knows little or nothing about the detail intricacies of the work you do. It seems his modus operandi has now caught up with him and put him in an untenable situation. So, now he needs your help. You are initially sympathetic to his plight and are not averse to help out.  But then, not too far into your conversation with him, you discover that he has, all along, been getting all types of informational support and backup from several corners. It then dawns on you that he is not really tapping you for assistance in the matter. He has not been truthful and forthcoming in his reasons for talking to you ... and he, no doubt, did not mean to disclose that he had gotten more support than you. So, his guile causes you to suspect that maybe his motive is to try and remove any focus on himself by surreptitiously fishing for scapegoats. You already know, from past experience, that this person has never had your best interest at heart. You know that he is a self-serving type. But still, the discovery of guile in his character at this point is totally unexpected.

     You immediately terminate your conversation with the manager by telling him that you really do not have anything more to add to his knowledge, and that you do not wish to further rehash your recent unpleasant experience. The manager is now obviously upset with you because he slams the phone on your ear without even a cursory thanks for your time or effort.

So now what? Who is the littler person in this episode? But even more crucial, what is the life lesson here? Truly, it cannot be anything but this: Momentous revelations and/or awakenings can and do occur at the most unexpected times in our lives.

We should always have an ear to the ground and be alert especially to betrayals and deceit. After all, it is a jungle out there!

Cary Grant - "Charade"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Monday, July 22, 2013

The Birds - by William Blake


The Loving BirdsWilliam Blake 
 
 
 
******************************
 
The Birds
---------
William Blake (1757-1827)

He. Where thou dwellest, in what grove,
Tell me Fair One, tell me Love;
Where thou thy charming nest dost build,
O thou pride of every field!

She. Yonder stands a lonely tree,
There I live and mourn for thee;
Morning drinks my silent tear,
And evening winds my sorrow bear.

He. O thou summer's harmony,
I have liv'd and mourn'd for thee;
Each day I mourn along the wood,
And night hath heard my sorrows loud.

She. Dost thou truly long for me?
And am I thus sweet to thee?
Sorrow now is at an end,
O my Lover and my Friend!

He. Come, on wings of joy we'll fly
To where my bower hangs on high;
Come, and make thy calm retreat
Among green leaves and blossoms sweet.