Collecting stuff


I picked up a toy rock tumbler yesterday and then dropped by my friend Joanne’s to help her with her computer.


Interestingly she had a collection of polished rocks.

She also has a collection of antiquities that have religious content. I found this interesting on many levels.

They are artifacts from other times. That alone is fairly interesting.

But the hockey card collecting style is even more interesting. I see this as a way of learning about our mentors. I’m not on board with the idea that if you collect this stuff and pay lots of attention to it, you will receive favors from the deceased people that these items represent however.

I was curious where the money goes that is used to purchase this stuff. That could be a cool study.

Another thing I think would be extremely interesting would be DNA testing. Most of these items claim to have clothing from the person represented (or even their remains). It would be interesting to find out the authenticity.

If you tested two items from the same person, how often would the dna match? If you tested items from different people, how often would they match?


Musical question

I am wondering.

If you could ask 5 questions of a musical expert what would they be?

Questions about interpretation of a specific song or work?

Questions about motives or personalities of artists?


I couple of years ago I learned about the Antikythera mechanism. This thing really challenges our ideas about the types of machines that were made in the far past. It also makes us realize that the “fossil record” of our own societies stuff is very sparse. Imagine how sparse the fossil record of animals and humanoids must be!

Apparently things like clocks and watches are pretty recent so the Antikythera object is really out of place. Sometimes I wonder if it could have fallen into the shipwreck since the shipwreck.

Experts think this thing is for predicting eclipses and all that sort of thing. It makes sense. In fact it sort of looks like this thing to me:

One thing I’m really having a hard time with is how they made the gears.

I’m supposing it was made of bronze. Making accurate gears out of wood requires precise tools and a lot of skill. Metals require a whole other skill set.

I’m really stumped. Clearly there must be some elegant ways of making gears from metals that we don’t know about. Just like there are probably elegant ways of lifting blocks onto the great pyramids yet we don’t have any documentation on how it was done.

Any ideas how the bronze gears could have been made accurately? Any metal workers out there?

Shen Yun

shen yun

This is a great performance which is also a lesson in Chinese history! It’s a number of skits each representing an aspect or time of history.

There is a colorful screen and minimal props. It’s traditional Chinese dancing.

There is a blend of Western and Chinese instruments. A soprano and a couple of tenors. The last tenor was amazing.

The people interact with the projected screen. Often people would fly from the heavens on the screen. Just as they left the screen, the real people would appear at the vanishing point. Very well done effect. I really liked this effect. I’ve never seen it before but it makes you pay more attention to the screen which has a lot of symbolism and traditional scenes.

Screen grab...

I really liked the Plum Blossom scene.

Very entertaining.

Highly recommended.

How Christmas was made

Jesus was probably born in late September. Recall from the bible that Joseph and Mary were in town for the census (the famous Nativity scene). A census would generally be called right after harvest. People have money and resources to travel and it’s not too cold yet. Combination of census records and some logic, most thinkers put his birthday around Sept 29. I hedge later because they couldn’t find a place to stay so the town was already full.

The date is one thing, but there’s something more profound going on here. If a young man and pregnant women were turned away from the inn… and all government rule was based on force and violence… and personal conflict was for the most part resolved with violence… Then it’s time for new thinking. Clearly a brilliant philosopher/leader was needed in that time period.

New thinking was delivered and here’s a painting which I absolutely love which illustrates it (It shows a a notable story of Jesus preventing violence against a person): Christ and the Woman. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. I think it’s very enlightened thinking to move towards common sense and tolerance in place of rules. Rules always have context which may not match every opportunity to enforce them.

Jesus and the Women

I’m going to see the painting at the Gallery this Thursday. Let me know if you want to come!

Another dead ringer for an after harvest birth date was the shepherds having their flocks outdoors. December in that region at the time, animals were kept indoors. So that’s another good argument for late harvest.

December is more likely Mary’s birthday but that’s pretty vague. Consider that at the time of Christ (and still in many parts of the world), there was no emphasis on birthdays and age. Notable people are remembered for when they die. Not born, so there are no records or thought payed to when he was born. It’s unlikely that anybody at the time could tell you what year Jesus was born on by the time he was 20. They claim he got busy when he was 12. But the actual age was probably added later.

Of course some of the reports in the bible could be inaccurate because the Romans eventually pruned the books of the bible (see my youtube favorites and with translations and language localization, it’s all pretty vague anyways. 🙂 There are the occasional text that comes forward with new information: (can’t seem to find it in my youtube favorites but there is a video on a fascinating “rejected book”).

Western “Holiday Season” and gift giving is often a solstice driven thing but by celebrating Jesus’ birth during this time, its sort of a brilliant hijack. Peoples openness and generosity during Winter Solstice combined with the notion of child birth is a good recipe.

This is about 50% of the of the giving in this small household.

I think some people find it irritating that gift giving is over commercialized and devalues Christmas. Don’t fret. See it as a Solstice practice. I think it’s better if people recognize that the season is different for everyone rather than subscribing to all this “What Christmas is and isn’t” stuff. The term “X-mas” used to irritate me, but now I quite like it. I’m not fully subscribed to the solstice gift thing much though. Especially since many people and even some closer to me, it seems to be more about vanity. And isn’t it a little clumsy to be passing luxury gifts back and forth when there are poor people right in your own community who suffer economic hardship? Here’s a finer example of what do with extra resources at Christmas.

If you are looking for something different, I suggest grabbing some of your family and/or friends and go to Notre Dame or Saint Patrick’s Cathedral for about 11pm on a December 24th (TODAY!) (perhaps a few minutes before). It’s free and there is no reservation required. You can observe some of the rituals which I know you would enjoy. This is the original (theoretically) church from a few centuries after Christ but has not been subject to reform that took place during the protest (the time of Galileo, Newton, Pope Urbane VIII, Bernini the Sculptor).

I think anybody who’s into art/philosophy needs to see this meme in action.

What I mean is… even if you’re not “religious”…. go.

Please enjoy the “Holiday Season”!

Oh, and here’s something from my choir days (you may want to right click and save it to your desktop so it will play).