Category Archives: general interest

true Christianity

 

 

The jurors had left the courtroom by the time Mr. Chauvin was handcuffed and led away, but when Mr. Mitchell saw video of him being taken into custody, he said he felt compassion for him. “He’s a human too,” he said.

“I almost broke down from that,” he said. “We decided his life. That’s tough. That’s tough to deal with. Even though it’s the right decision, it’s still tough.”

— “Derek Chauvin Juror: ‘We All Agreed at Some Point That It Was Too Much’; Brandon Mitchell, a basketball coach, says video of George Floyd’s death and prosecution medical expert witness were crucial evidence,” By Joe Barrett and Deena Winter, The Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2021

 

Brandon Mitchell was one of four blacks on the Chauvin trial jury.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

    April 2021

the music of languages

 

This morning.

Russian among the barbers and employees of the barber shop. Spanish, spoken rapidly and with a distinct “New York” accent, on the sidewalks.

Only in New York.

 

– Roger W. Smith

April 10, 2021 (my father’s birthday)

 

lunacy triumphant (or, who’s in charge?)

My wife, a consultant to mathematics teachers in training (and a former mathematics teacher herself), told me about something that one of her mentees told her today.

As my wife explained it to me, there is a core problem for high school mathematics students involving probability which is used as a teaching tool and will often be on standard exams. The problem is as follows: What are the probabilities of parents who have three children having 1 boy and 2 girls? 1 girl and 2 boys? 2 boys and 1 girl? 2 girls and 1 boy? 3 boys? 3 girls?

Or, as follows:

What is the probability that all three children in a family will be the same gender?
P(all female)= 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/8
P(all male ) = 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/8
P(all one gender) = P(all female) + P(all male) = 1/8 + 1/8 = 1/4

What is the probability that a three-child family is two girls and one boy?
Each possible birth order has P=1/8. That is, P(G,G,B)=P(G,B,G)=P(B,G,G)=1/8.
So, P(2G,1B)= 3/8 and P(1G,2B)= 3/8.

This allows us to write the overall gender probability distribution for families of three children as follows:
1/8 will be three girls
3/8 will be two girls and one boy
3/8 will be one girl and two boys
1/8 will be three boys
Adding it all up, we have 1/8 + 3/8 + 3/8 + 1/8 = 1 (100%)

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I vaguely remember doing such problems in high school math class. Didn’t Mendel do this with peas?

Well, guess what? My wife’s mentee informed her that this problem can NOT be taught any longer. A problem which refers to gender might be offensive to some students.

What’s next? How will biology be taught?

As a footnote of sorts, my wife told me that her mentee also told her that in a Spanish class in the school she is at — according to a student teacher the mentee knows — querulous students are voicing objections when nouns are assigned a gender: e.g., el mano. la mesa.

Who, I ask you, is in charge? Whom can we entrust with the wisdom and sense to instruct students?

Who is listening? Not to the students, but to the few people, educators in this case — it sometimes seems that they have all taken to the hills — who still have what used to be called common sense.

— Roger W. Smith

    March 2021

I never knew.

 

 

I love it when I learn something that should be obvious — something seemingly trivial, but not so, actually — that clears up a fundamental misunderstanding and enables one to see something in an entirely new way.

On CNN tonight, a commentator explained that “high crimes and misdemeanors” means crimes committed by individuals in positions of high office. Thus “high” does not modify “crimes,” which I always thought.

The way I always understood the phrase was — and it never quite made sense to me — that an elected official can be impeached for (1) “high crimes,” meaning very serious ones, perhaps treason or failing to faithfully execute the laws, plus (perhaps) serious crimes committed while in office, such as the usual worst felonies: murder, rape, kidnapping, etc.; or (2) “misdemeanors”: more petty crimes not befitting a public official or showing unfitness for office, such as cronyism or graft.

Wrong!

The adjective “high” modifies both “crimes” and “misdemeanors.” It is not meant to be fused with “crimes.” In context, “high” means committed by persons holding high office.

 

— Roger W. Smith

February 9, 2021

political invective

 

I am currently reading

The Literary Underground in the 1660s: Andrew Marvell, George Wither, Ralph Wallis, and the World of Restoration Satire and Pamphleteering

by Stephen Bardle

Oxford University Press, 2012

 

 

It is hard to follow the religious and political disputes of seventeenth century England: the time of the Civil Wars; the execution of Charles I … the time of Cromwell; persecuted dissenters such as John Bunyan and George Fox; the Restoration; retribution against regicides; disputes between religious sects.

Nevertheless, read these two scurrilous poems* and ask yourself, can anyone top our forebears for published invective?

*In Bardle, The Literary Underground in the 1660s, pp. 15-17.

 

When Cuckoo Presbyter first rob’d the Nest
Of th’ Harmless Dove, the smaller birds addrest
Themselves to it, and having learnt by rote,
Found ’twas a harsh, rigid and untun’d Note.
But yet complied, while rub’d with Cuckoos mange,
They took their Conscience-liberty to range;
So they divide the spoyl, and their lewd itch
Fell scratching of the RUMP (in English) Britch;
Whose blasts the Cuckoo’d borrowed Feathers ruggled,
But since Halcyon, both together shuffled.
No Cuckoo now, but Pyebald Sir Jolhn Daw;
Do you kaw me, and Ile you likewise Kaw.

— Anon., A Dialogue between the Two Giants in Guildhall** (London, 1661, pp. 5-6

 

**The allegory (A Dialogue) relates Presbyterian control over the Church — the dove –­ during the Revolution, but also implies anti-monarchical principles, since by representing chem as a ‘cuckoo’, the Presbyterians are associated with attacking the oak of the royal family. (Bardle, pg. 16)

 

 

Tis News to me, that, creatures of their frame,
To any purpose, should repeat my name,
Since, probably, they do not know their own,
But, are the greatest Block-heads in the Town,
Except it be those foolish Pamphleteers
That, use to write such Dialogues as theirs;
(Or, base Invectives tending to th’increase
Of Discord, by the breach of civil peace)

— George Wither, Joco-Serio. Strange News of a Discourse, Between Two dead Giants*** (London, 1661), pg. 3

 

***Wither’s reply to A Dialogue between the Two Giants in Guildhall — entitled Joco-Serio. Strange News of a Discourse, Between Two dead Giants, expressed in an Epigram, to one Inquisitive for News (1661) — highlights the uncomfortable position the writers of A Dialogue had created for themselves. By attacking Wither in a popular, polemical style, the authors of A Dialogue had inadvertently made themselves vulnerable to the common Anglican Royalist argument that linked the disputations of the public sphere with civil strife. (Bardle, pg. 17)

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

    January 2021

new vocabulary IV

 

 

 

new vocabulary words – December 2020

 

 

See attached downloadable Word document, above. It is my ongoing “diary” of words looked up during the past year. It shows that new vocabulary is acquired solely by READING.

 

— Roger W. Smith

   December 2020

 

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See also my posts:

 

new vocabulary III

https://rogersgleanings.com/2019/11/17/new-vocabulary/

 

vocabulary redux

https://rogersgleanings.com/2018/02/10/vocabulary-redux/

Meister Eckhart’s “golden rule”

 

 

You must love all men equally, respect and regard them equally, and whatever happens to another, whether good or bad, must be the same as if it happened to you.

— Meister Eckhart, “in hoc apparuit caritas dei in nobis, quoniam filium suum unigenitum misit deus in mundum ut vivamus per eum” (1 John 4:9); Predigt Dreizehn (Sermon Thirteen) (a); in The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart, translated by Maurice O’C. Walshe (New York: Crossroad, 2009), pg. 105

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   October 2020

 

 

Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra

Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra in front of Yankee Stadium, 1956

This photograph from yesterday’s New York Times spoke to me.

A great photo. It took me back. To my boyhood days. When the Yankees had such a great team, when New York was the capital of the baseball world; and yet, I hated the Yankees (while admiring them); they always won; my Red Sox always finished third or lower.

Back to the 1950s and my parents’ generation. There was a confidence about that generation and a sense that things were as they should be. That hard work and ambition would bring success. It was a time of rising prosperity and social cohesion (from the perspective, at least, of my world, environment). Of course, I wasn’t looking at things analytically then. I was in the fifth grade.

Mostly I remember this time not from the vantage point of myself, or not entirely so, but from that of my parents and their generation, and what wonderful people they were. I miss them and their times. And, by the way, New York City in the 1950’s was at its zenith, an exciting, livable (and affordable) place. I have read about it.  My friend Bill Dalzell told me so.

— Roger W. Smith

   October 2020

Found! A “worthy successor” to Mayor Shinn.

 

 

 

Mayor Shinn (Paul Ford in “The Music Man”)

 

 

“You know, the thing about the Voting Rights Act it’s, you know ? there’s a lot of different things you can look at it as, you know, who’s it going to help? What direction do we need to go with it? I think it’s important that everything we do we keep secure. We keep an eye on it. It’s run by our government. And it’s run to the, to the point that we, it’s got structure to it. It’s like education. I mean, it’s got to have structure. Now for some reason, we look at things to change, to think we’re gonna make it better, but we better do a lot of work on it before we make a change.”

— former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, responding to a question from a caller about his support for the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020

 

Tuberville, a Republican, is running against Alabama Democratic Senator Doug Jones for election to the US Senate. He was asked his view on the Voting Rights Act during a Zoom meeting with the Birmingham Rotary Club on September 1, 2020.

 

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The Music Man is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The story takes place in River City, Iowa.

The town’s Mayor, George Shinn (played by Paul Ford in an unforgettable performance in the movie version), is a pompous local politician given to making rambling speeches that go nowhere.

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

   September 2020