Monday, August 27, 2018

Discussing a Documentary

In case you don't have time to watch the movie, or can't get your hands on a copy, the National Geographic documentary about the Gospel of Judas is pretty interesting.

Yes, National Geographic was a sponsor of the project, as if it turned out this was an authentic document, then kudos would accrue to the documentary makers.  For sure this whole operation would need to be memorialized using state of the art film techniques.  One doesn't mess with such heritage without making highly detailed records of the enterprise or project.

The two main puzzles were:  to decipher the badly decayed content of the recovered papyrus book, written in Coptic; to figure out where it came from exactly and how old it was.  Carbon dating was applied and an expedition to Egypt ended in caves with many traces of Coptic culture.  The dating put it around 280 A.D. with some decades plus or minus, suggesting it be treated much as the other so-called "Gnostic Gospels".

The film explains that "gnostic" was a put-down, a lot like "truther" and not a label self-applied, and that it was already a term of opprobrium by around 200 AD by which time Christianity had started to solidify, after taking many turns.

Bishop Irenaeus had railed against some Gospel of Judas way back then, but no one since had been able to snag a copy.  Leave it to some treasure hunter to get it on the black market, where it languished and almost turned to dust.

Judas was thoroughly demonized, yes, but more generally the Bible was being whittled down to Four Gospels with the others best forgotten.  But most especially oxymoronic would be any twisted "Gospel of Judas".  Revelation would be less confusing, in terms of making the Bible cohere.

Two often made points were echoed in this film.  (A) Jesus and his disciples were of course Jews and weren't really into questioning that and likewise (B) the Romans administered "justice" in that region so the irony of Rome's Christians later demonizing Jews for being Jesus killers seemed somewhat like a pot calling the kettle black (an English idiom meaning "who are you to call me that?").

I'd say "Mahayana Christianity" sees that humanity as a whole killed its own God when He came among them, a display of poor judgment which well explains why God, on previous occasions, took some pretty severe actions towards His creation.

Gnostics were to be disrespected for teaching the local God had indeed messed up, but that Jesus was pointing back to a greater God away from these unworthy humans, or something along those lines (considered heresy even today).

The narrower form of Christianity has taken on the mantle of "Chosen People" (us versus them) characteristic of those not thinking in terms of "humans on Planet Earth" (an Astrological conception).  Jewish shepherds were not schooled in esoterica with its cosmic vocabulary.  The older forms of Christianity also have less Greek metaphysics, or so I've been told.  The Coptic people I've hung out with were in Cairo.  But then Alexandria had the works of Euclid.  I guess my point is it took Christians a few centuries to get super educated, especially in light of their early persecution, by the Romans especially.

These last two paragraphs were me rambling.  The movie itself doesn't self indulge having bitten off a huge chunk. In addition to piecing the document together and determining its history, the film gets some character actors to tackle some really challenging plot lines that will be heavily scrutinized.  Agreeing to star in these sequences took some courage in case the film attracted the ire of some offended orthodoxy.

Fortunately, the seminaries have already done a good job of disseminating the historical and archeological approach.  The Gnostic Gospels had already carved out a space in consciousness, thanks in part to Carl Jung, who worked on saving this literary heritage.  I'm not a super expert on all the details but have done enough homework to feel some gratitude to all involved in salvaging such remnants from our human past.  So much ransacking goes on, or sometimes deliberate defacing on ideological grounds.  We want to respect new findings and update our narratives as creation continues to reveal itself, a process some might call God while others would prefer not to.

The two points I mentioned above were to counter the anti-Jew sentiments that were cultivated by those casting themselves as victims of Jewish globalism and/or loyalty to only themselves.  These patterns of thought already had Judas epitomizing Judaism, but in a bad way.  According to this rediscovered gospel, Jesus relied on Judas to turn him in and maybe save the others.  One may debate whether we're talking actual history, but it seems well established that the story of Jesus was taught with this plot twist at least in that one lineage.  Several other gospels were floating about, including those of Timothy, Phillip, Mary Magdalen and so on.  Again, the existence and intelligibility of said texts does not constitute a proof of facts.  These stories don't actually require fact checking to go global, we know that from many other storytelling traditions.

Anyway, I assume a lot of this stuff is old news to the Bible hounds among us, and to the archeologists, some anthropologists.  The literature since this movie must have grown considerably in the meantime.  We have also enjoyed many breakthroughs in getting to know the ancient Mayans.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Wanderers 2018.8.21

I haven't been chronicling Wanderers meetups at all frequently, in contrast to ages past. They're always datelined in that same titular format, so feel free to search, should you find intact infrastructure.

Our practice as Wanderers is to practice "open session" wherein the conversation wanders and no one is obligated to stick to the topic, as there's no topic per se.  We sometimes take a vacation and turn the evening over to a leader, a presenter, thinking of ourselves as good guinea pigs, but then we go back to earning our name and reputation, as those with no fixed agenda, just a coffee fund.

The more formal story of our beginning is Terry Bristol, President of ISEPP, needed a stable of trusted conversationalists should a big wig come to town, meaning a top science & engineering practitioner and/or writer-journalist on the book selling circuit.  The cast was eclectic to say the least, with the guest often staying at the Heathman, then lecturing in one of Portland's swankest venues, either at the Schnitzer (old school theater palace) or the Christian church one door down (pews, gallery, organ), on the Park Blocks.

So say Jane Goodall shows up.  Everyone would like to meet her, but rather than mob the poor creature (actually quite self possessed), Terry could have a party, serve refreshments, and the Wanderers could instantly create the suave / sophisticated surroundings such a celebrity would have come to expect.  We were the proverbial intelligent laypeople, not peers perhaps, but from neighboring walks of life.

Tonight we practiced yammering about (a) the big bang (did it have a center) (b) whether any good could come of our grave circumstances (c) near death experiences, such as almost-drownings (d) paranormal phenomena (e) the non-existence, or existence, of extraterrestrials and why we haven't detected them yet (no one present argued that we had, but each meeting is a random function of who happens to show up).  We had some jokes and puns.  We were a sampling of genders and generations, I won't claim random.

I want to mention in particular that Peter Sloterdijk came up and we debated the pronunciation of his name.  Francher has been delving into his most recent writings whereas I'm still stuck in the trilogy, Bubbles, Globes and Foams.  We are not of any special religious denomination and I would say we're mostly a haven for those who don't espouse any mainstream religion, or religion at all, but with numerous exceptions of course (we're riddled with true believers of one kind or another). 

Francher and I are especially fans of Buckminster Fuller, whom Sloterdijk writes about quite a bit.  I'm also into the Wittgenstein stuff.  Larry knew the Trimtab meme. Later I posted to Facebook, in the spirit of what I'd said then:
When I look back in history it's like Alexander Bell (telephone, "kites"), container shipping, the internet (more than just Al Gore)... i.e. I don't place my hopes & dreams [tm] in the hands of prima donna actor-lawyers who claim DC as their Hollywood-like universal studios (many well-known backdrops). They're entertainment, at best a simulation, but these days sing off key. My focus is on the artifacts, like the cars and trucks. Highways. Bridges.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Bizmos in 2018

By this time in our narrative, the "bizmo" (business mobile) is a well-established genre of van or bus, mostly peddled as a luxury item.

I'm not saying I'm yet able to head for the garage and download my favorite dashboards and stuff, but we're getting there.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Red Books

I've gone from Alan Watts (influential in my early reading career) to James Hillman (likewise influential), talking about Youtube. Great to get audio trax from these guys. I'd been doing silent reading.

The Hillman kick got me to this lecture by Becca S. Tarnas, Ph.D. (a self-confessed Elvynchyk).  She's talking about similarities between J.R.R. Tolkien's imagery and that of Carl Jung, in their respective books with red covers.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Delta versus Lambda Calc: Weighing Options

What's Next?

I stumbled on this old fragment of storyboard this morning and decided to explain it again, adding a link to a related Youtube (8 mins). The picture corresponds to a high school student looking at the math tracks branching out ahead of her or him, and wondering whether to slant to the delta side, or to the lambda side.

The delta side stands for Calculus and is the only pre-college track as far as many are concerned. You may have some stubs, like statistics and business math, that point in some other direction, but the college admin folks are pre-geared to like calculus. Professors don't want to do all the heavy lifting and you need calculus to prove yourself educated, further up the line. I have another calculus book on order from Amazon as we speak. I used to teach it myself, at the high school level.

The lambda side stands for Functional Programming (Scheme, Clojure...) but underneath that, for Lambda Calc in particular, as distinct from Delta Calc i.e. delta calculus (the one we learn in high school).  Lambda Calc, one might say, is the basis of computer science. We have instructions, or functions, and inputs, or arguments.  We think a lot about getting our syntax fine-tuned to actually "run" (execute operationally).  Lambda Calc is pretty much synonymous with Computer Science.

What happened in the late 1900s, after the rise of computing and computer power, kicked off by Alan Turing and others, was a greater need for Lambda Calculus and a requirement that Delta Calculus share the road more.  That's why high schoolers would later have more choices, as to how to proceed with their math education.  They could choose to emphasize computer science over delta calc, and still get a lot of delta calc in the process.  Operational mathematics is not devoid of Newton's Method for example.  Computers do calculus all the time, even as discrete math devices.

In some ways, the whole dichotomy is an illusion, much like wave versus particle.  You have different tools for different needs.  It's not either / or.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Green Screen

The "green screen" bizmo is one that drives around doing interviews, podcasts, other reconnoissance. Sometimes it's more convenient to actually go to a place and visit interlocutors close to home -- their home -- versus flying them to Burbank or whatever.

A green screener may do solo-casting from the mobile studio as well.  The bus or van is well stocked with video editing equipment.  The nearest truck stop may provide the uplink station.  Not every such van is like a TV news van with live satellite back to headquarters.

The connotation around bizmos is they're not passive observer speculator journalist mobiles, who "get the story" and then move on.  Some bizmos may be of that type, but their tendency is to network and followup.

Not that any specific community is obligated to host any given caravan.  That's where the dispatchers come in, and the control rooms (see other blogs).  Today we see a lot of interventionist control rooms thinking they know how to "cure" various global ailments.  They're way ahead of the science, acting on pure superstition a lot of the time.

My recent trip through the Warm Springs reservation and to the Madras area (Cascadia), to one of the "spy camp" XRL spots, was by Torture Taxi (the Nissan), and was not a green screen adventure.  Smith Rock was really behind me, and I really did feed the alpacas.

If you're going fully for the illusion, then you don't really need a bizmo at all, do everything in studio.

The caravans plus innocent bystanders with cell cameras, create more points to omni-triangulate, meaning the believability of the operation will get a boost.  Spoofers won't be as good at authentication, most of the time.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Central Oregon

Metolius Headwaters

Thanks to my having family in this neck of the woods, I get one of those inside track experiences where I don't have to spend a lot to enjoy a wealth of experiences.

Eagle Crossing on the Warms Springs reservation is a great intersection of cultures.  The TV is tuned to news and the CBS morning show, with the N8V cook owner the main audience. His wife took our order and their daughter cashed us out.

Today we visited the place where the Metolius river emerges from underground.  No one really knows its route under the Cascades.  Once it emerges, it runs for about twelve miles to a lake, through forest populated by camp grounds and "summer cabins" (many have been turned into more than just cabins).  We picnicked along the shore, then drove into Sisters for music by Tony Lompa, who remembered me from last time.

Tomorrow we'll be listening to Steve's radio show on KPOV, and probably talking to Steve himself. 

I drove the girls to the alpaca farm just a mile down the road on highway 97.  Then we visited Smith Rock.  These are ritual stops for us.

I'll be adding pictures when home in Portland.

I'm meditating on how people seem to want it both ways:  we acknowledge a deeply non-rational side the motivates human affairs, and then try to give a role to rationality.

Clearly engineering based on awareness of generalized principles gives us more ways to act out our collective craziness, for better and/or for worse.

In the media, crazy meets crazy and tries to sort itself out.  That's called history or culture or something along those lines.

Tony Lompa

Thursday, August 02, 2018

World Game

Carol and I are thankful to have granddaughter / daughter Tara in Portland for a week's visit.  I picked her up at PDX last night.  We met at the baggage carousel.

I'm taking a breather after an arduous week teaching class.  Tomorrow we have plans to leave town for a bit (some of us do).