If on the great Journey of Life,
travel with thy equals or thy betters;
If there are none,
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I don't know whether my friend Anthony Herron crafted this himself or sourced it from elsewhere, but this article I got from him via email will surely interest students of language. A related work is Richard Lederer's widely distributed essay, "English is a Crazy Language," which can be viewed here. For "Poems on the Absurdities of English" go to this site.
An overview of strange words in English is a difficult one, as there is no firm standard whereby to judge if a word has entered the language (particularly with regard to foreign words and neologisms -- newly invented words) or departed the language through disuse.
For the purposes of this article, any word which has appeared in a recognized general English dictionary published in the 20th century or later is considered a candidate.
The dictionaries included as reference sources for this article are:
• OED - The Oxford English Dictionary (any post-1900 edition)
• WNID - Webster's New International Dictionary (any post-1900 edition)
• MWCD - Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (any post-1900 edition)
• OSPD - The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (any post-1900 edition)
• TMD - The Macquarie Dictionary (any post-1900 edition)
• RHUD - Random House Unabridged Dictionary (any post-1900 edition)
Most people are aware that the letter y can serve as both a consonant and a vowel. However, cwm (pronounced "koom", defined as a steep-walled hollow on a hillside) is a rare case of a word using w as a vowel, as is crwth (pronounced "krooth", a type of stringed instrument). Both words are in MWCD. They derive from the Welsh use of w as a vowel. The word cwm is commonly applied to Welsh place names; cwms of glacial origin are a common feature of Welsh geography.
Arguably, however, both these examples may belong in 'Words of Foreign Origin', as they are actual words in the Welsh language which have been absorbed in the local forms of English. See 'coombe' as the south-west English equivalent of 'cwm'.
The longest word without repeating any letters
"Uncopyrightable", with fifteen letters, is the longest word in English in which no letter is used more than once.
5 vowels in a row
There is only one common word in English that has five vowels in a row: "queueing".
6 consonants in a row
The word "knightsbridge" has six consonants in a row, as does "latchstring".
5 vowels in alphabetical order
There are several words that feature all five vowels in alphabetical order, including "facetious" and "abstemious".
Strange pairs or groups of words
EWE and YOU are a pair of words with identical pronunciations that have no letters in common. Another example is the pair, EYE and I. However such word pairs are often dependent on the accent of the speaker. For instance Americans might well believe that A and EH form such a pair whereas other English speakers might not.
The most notorious group of letters in the English language, ough, can be pronounced at least nine different ways.
"UFF" tough, enough
"OW" bough, slough
"OH" though, dough
"OR" thought Pronounced "AW" in American English
"UH" thorough Pronounced "OH" in American English
"UP" hiccough variant spelling of "hiccup", though the latter form is recommended in both British and US
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep - wake him.
He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise - follow him.
- Persian Proverb; see a slightly different version in Roy B. Zuck, The Speaker's Quote Book (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publicadtions, 1997); reprint, (Valenzuela City, MM: CLC, n.d.), p. 220.
[Sectarianism is] a narrowing down of the ground of acceptable Christian fellowship and cooperation due to a broadening of what is considered orthodox doctrine. It is therefore my (or my group's) refusing to allow for diversity in others and demanding conformity with all my views, as if my view (in full detail) alone had divine sanction. It is the notion that I, or my own specific group alone has a market on the truth, to the exclusion of others.
- Rex A. Koivisto, One Lord, One Faith: A Theology for Cross-Denominational Renewal (Wheaton, IL: BridgePoint, 1993), pp. 44-45
Language is not a neutral system of signs and symbols. Language is always partisan to the values, perspectives and rules of of those that wield power. Using a language means bending to its power.
- Timoteo D. Gener, "Every Filipino Christian a Theologian: A Way of Advancing Local Theology for the 21st Century," in John Suk, ed., Doing Theology in the Philippines (Manila: OMF Literature, Inc., 2005), p. 17.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
"Stability in the storm comes not from seeking a new message, but from understanding an old one. The most reliable anchor points are not recent discoveries, but are time-tested truths that have held their ground against the winds of change. Truths like:
My life is not futile.
My failures are not fatal.
My death is not final.
Attach your soul to these boulders and no wave is big enough to wash you under.
- Max Lucado, Six Hours One Friday: Anchoring to the Power of the Cross (Portland , OR: Multnomah Books, 1989), p. 174.
Last Friday, I received a three-set, six-volume commentary on the Bible as a gift from Eddie Cloer, general editor for the Truth for Today (TFT) Commentary and director of the Searcy, Arkansas-based TFT World Mission School (WMS). With all six hardcover books averaging 574 pages, each book costs $26.00.
The three sets are on "The Life of Christ" (© 2003)" "Acts" (© 2001), and "Revelation" (© 2002) all authored by David L. Roper, and all using the New American Standard Bible (NASB) as Scriptural text. Having been familiar with the writings of Roper mainly through the TFT's monthly periodical I have been receiving for some years now, it was no surprise for me to note the scholarlship and readability of the author's style as I thumbed through each book.
I especially liked Cloer's humble spirit expressed in his Preface to "Acts 1-14":
The author of a commentary does not intend for his comments on the sacred Word to be regarded as infallible; he knows that he is subject to mistakes as is everyone else. Consequently, we must admit at the start that perfection is beyond our reach. This commentary is not perfect, and no commentary ever will be.
Along this thought, I venture to say that like any other commentary on the Bible, the TFT series is not without bias for or against a particular theological discourse or religious tradition -- which determines both its strengths and weaknesses.
The TFTWMS belongs to a long line of religious tradition known in church history as "Restorationism," particularly that which has been advocated by the Churches of Christ, the conservative wing of the American-born and bred "Stone-Campbell Movement" (SCM). This is evident from some sections of the Commentaries where some doctrinal distinctives of the group are emphasized -- a capella music in Christian worship (see commentary on Rev. 5.8), the salvific nature of baptism (see discussion on Acts 2.38), and the weekly Communion (see notes on Acts 20.7). The "non-charismatic" (i.e. non-existence of the miraculous gifts today) bent of the mainstream Churches of Christ can also be easily detected throughout the commentary on Acts.
Avoiding the frustratingly literalistic and highly speculative hermeneutic of those who interpret the Book of Revelation with the Futurist and Historical approaches, David Roper helps the reader unveil some mysteries in this apocalyptic New Testament book using what he styles as "Select-Wisely" (i.e., eclectic) approach, which marries the Preterist and Symbolic views.
Taken altogether, the commentaries are a good read, especially for the heirs of the Stone-Campbell Movement.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
"Prejudice is an unreasoning and biased opinion formed on unjust grounds. It is an adverse and unfair judgment, sometimes hastily made, concerning an individual, a group, a race, a culture, a religion, an issue, usually formed without sufficient knowledge. It is also an attitude of hostility. Preconceptions are opinions formed prior to knowing the facts or without personal experience. (69)
Tragically, a person could be harboring prejudices and wrong preconceptions about anything without realizing it. Prejudice could also develop as one lives closely with a person or group of people... (70)
Sometimes, it's easy to think that our way is the only logical and proper way of doing things. This is being ethnocentric. Ethnocentricity is believing that one's own nation, culture, or group is intrinsically superior. We could become insensitive and start to impose our way on others, even backing it up with Scriptural texts! For instance, we cannot judge a native tribal lady as immodest, promiscuous and sinful, because she is only wearing a skirt made from the bark of a tree with nothing on top, which is their native costume. She is just as modest as the lady from our "modern civilization" who covers herself from the neck down to her knees...In Nepal, Dhal-Bhat (rice and lentil soup) is normally, but skillfully, eaten by using one's hand, not with the spoon-and-fork or bowl-and-chopsticks! Different but not wrong!" (71)
- Manzano, Jojo. 2002. Missions is for Every Church. Manila: OMF Literature.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Click here to know more about this historic event.
"Our analysis of the spectrum of positions on origins has indicated that clarity, despite its seductive attractions, is only to be had at the extremes. There is great clarity in the belief that God created the world in six days and then told us about it in Genesis. There is great clarity in the belief that everything is the result of mindless matter and blind chance. But how much truth lies in either of these positions? Science has established beyond a reasonable doubt that the world was not created in six days, but science has not established that there is no basis for believing that there might be a mind or purpose behind the universe. And surely human experience, which includes, of course, religious experience, testifies with competence that the world contains more than mindless matter and blind chance. Religion certainly cannot dispute the reality of both matter and chance, but it does suggest that the world has more in it than this.
Neither of the extreme positions at play in the origins debate is completely false in any simple sense. But, in their simplistic reductionism they surely lose much that is important...
Truth and clarity balance on the fulcrum of the mystery that lies at the heart of our existence... [T]his mystery should be embraced with humility -- not ridiculed by those with an overly optimistic view of science, nor wielded like a club by those who believe they have some sort of divine "shortcut" to the truth or privileged filters to remove error."
- Karl W. Giberson and Donald A. Yerxa, Species of Origins: America's Search for a Creation Story ( Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002), p. 240.
Monday, January 21, 2008
"The Willowbank Consultation on Gospel and Culture, held in Bermuda in 1978, acknowledged that human beings are creatures of their culture, and that everything we think, say and do is conditioned by culture. Thus, the gospel has also been conditioned by history and the culture in which it was written. There is no such thing as a 'pure gospel,' that is, a free-floating Word somewhere that is not somehow incarnated in a human culture and language." - Melba Padilla Maggay, "Towards Contextualization from Within: Some Tools and Culture Themes," in John Suk, ed., Doing Theology in the Philippines (Manila: OMF Literature, Inc., 2005), p. 37.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Here are some inspirational quotes from the lips of "that old bloke" Burt Munro (Anthony Hopkins) in the unforgettable film, "The World's Fastest Indian."
"You know danger is the spice of life and you've got to take a risk every now and again... You know that's what makes life worthwhile."
"If you don't follow through your dreams, you might as well be a vegetable."
"If you don't go when you wanna go, when you do go you'll find you're gone."
The Fighter and His Critics
"It was Theodore Roosevelt who said... 'it's not the critic that counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena."
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008
“Good fiction… invites us like a shop with an ever-open door, where no clerk or saleslady will bother us while we poke around the corners and maybe even handle the merchandise, and we can always leave if nothing strikes our fancy, or return some other day for a closer look. Even so, we feel responsible for our choices or our purchases, and the good shopper will always spot the best offerings of the place. And usually, though not always, the shopkeeper knows what and where they are.
"…through fiction, we best make sense of our lives by stepping away from them – by momentarily becoming strangers unto ourselves, by exploring more interesting alternatives to what we already know or most likely would do, and, ultimately, by giving ourselves a new reason to hope and believe that life indeed follows a plot we can direct – if we only knew what it was.”
- Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr., The Knowing is in the Writing: Notes on the Practice of Fiction (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2006), pp. 10-11, 13
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
A festschrift in honor of Dr. June Prill-Brett, Professor Emeritus at UP Baguio, the volume collects nine essays by leading scholars in Cordillera/Indigenous Studies from the Philippines and abroad. The authors include Julius Mendoza and Lorelei Crisologo-Mendoza (University of the Philippines), Susan Russell (Northern Illinois University), Villia Jefremovas (Queen’s University ), B. Lynne Milgram (Ontario College of Art and Design), Deirdre McKay (Australian National University), Padmapani Perez (Leiden University), Dana Kim and A. Terry Rambo (Khon Kaen University), and Melanie Wiber (University of New Brunswick). Among the topics covered in their papers are alterity and cultural existence, feasts of merits in the Cordillera, ritual tradition and innovation, agricultural commercialization, women and microfinance, legal pluralism, ethnic representation, and social and ecological phenomena.
The editor, B.P Tapang, was Associate Professor of Economics at UP Baguio until his
retirement in 2005.
We hope that you will attend the Baguio launching of what we consider as one of the
most important contributions to Cordillera Studies in recent years.
Thank you and best regards.
Dean, College of Social Sciences
DELFIN TOLENTINO, JR.
Director, Cordillera Studies Center
Delfin Tolentino, Jr.
Director, Cordillera Studies Center
University of the Philippines Baguio
2600 Baguio City
telefax (6374-4425794)If mail sent to my institutional e-mail address bounces ack, please send your mail to email@example.com.
Monday, January 14, 2008
The radical dualism embodied in the “Gospel of Judas” has a good deal in common with the equally radical dualism embodied in the dispensationalist fundamentalism so popular in many parts of North America, and now expressed famously in the Left Behind novels. The main aim in both, after all, is to escape from this wicked world and go off to a different one, namely “heaven,” rather than (with the New Testament) to seek for God’s kingdom to come on earth as in heaven…
When applied in right-wing terms, this selective neo-Gnosticism can justify everything from the so-called “prosperity gospel” (if I am a faithful Christian, God will make me rich; I belong, after all, to his elite) to the idea that the American people possess a “manifest destiny” to bring order to the rest of the world…
Underneath both right and left, it is all the same religious belief, far more in tune with ancient Gnosticism than with classic Christianity: what matters is not the outward world, the wider community, or even the outward physical human being, but the supposed spark of true “identity” that lies within the individual.
- Nicholas Thomas Wright, Judas and the Gospel of Jesus: Have We Missed the Truth About Christianity? (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), p. 130-133.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
This time, it's a "Dr. Dele Roberts" who wrote me to say,
You have received this message in furtherance to a confidential communication received from our esteemed customer: Barr. Usman Bello (Senior Advocate of Nigeria)
He has instructed that the sum of US$100,000.00 be paid to you through our International Interswitch Automated Teller Machine Card (ATM). He informed us that the payment is for your assistance as a consultant in a previous business transaction which was later concluded successfully. This instruction must be carried out in accordance to the provisions and signed memorandum between the Central Bank of Nigeria and the customer
Although Barr. Usman Bello is presently on a long vacation with his family. He insisted that you must be contacted and notified immediately to confirm his email message to you last month, where he made this known to you personally. Therefore you will receive your ATM card from the Central Bank of Nigeria with a value of the sum of US$100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand United States Dollars only).
The Central Bank of Nigeria will issue the ATM card in your name as beneficiary. I have sent in the statutory application in your favor to the Accounts Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Please find attached an ATM ID FORM for your endorsement.
I expect to receive the endorsed form from you as soon as possible to facilitate issuance of the ATM card accordingly.
The details contained in this email correspondence are strictly confidential.
Your cooperation is required.
Dr. Dele Roberts
Director Foreign Operations
Central Bank of Nigeria
Upon reading it, I immediately knew the whole thing was a scam because the name has appeared in the list of various anti-scam websites, and the content of the letter also bore striking similarities with other mails received by a lot of people all over the world (see more of these Nigerian scam letters here). Besides, I don't remember ever doing any consultancy work with a barrister named Bello.
When I did not reply to his message, he sent a follow up email to which I replied finally, having decided to play his game so I could use his mails to expose him in my blog haha.
To convince me that he was for real, he attached a scanned image of an ATM card bearing my name as it appears here. As expected, he informed me that I would need to send him 500 USD for the "insurance fee." I wrote back and told him:
I had thought the ATM Card was a gift. I'm sorry but I don't have that amount of money. You see, right now I have difficulty making both ends meet and I can't even send even 10 dollars to anyone.
Then last night, he called me up through my mobile phone. And yes, he surely sounded like the good Nigerian students in some universities here whom I got the chance to chat with. As the reception on my phone was not good, I couldn't quite make out much of what he said. I managed to catch his offer to give me a "30% discount" though. I am to remedy 350USD and send to him ASAP via Western Union. Tell you what, I said, what if you send me the ATM Card first so that when I get to withdraw my money, I'll refund all your expenses? His voice rose a bit and he said something about the difficulty of processing some documents, etc. I told him there is no way I could raise the said amount and suggested that he email me again regarding the transaction's additional details. Soon enough, I got this new mail from him:
To: scott saboy firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Jan 12, 2008 5:58 AM
Subject: Re: URGENT..... DELIVERY OF YOUR ATM CARD
I understand your situation as explained.
But my advise to you as a friend is that sending the US$350 is the surest way that will lead you to buy milk and other food items for your kid for the rest of their lives.
The value of the ATM CARD is US$100,000 and with proper investment, I do not think you need to work for the rest of your life.
Just think about this and try raising the money through a loan or anything so that the ATM CARD will be sent to you immediately and before the end if this week your life will never remain the same again.
Do your best and do not let this opportunity pass you by.
Dr. Dele Roberts
Hmm... He's such a smooth con-artist, isn't he? And he really thought that I, a"third-world ignoramus nincompoop," had really fallen prey to his wiles!
But with this post, there is no doubt as to who is laughing.
On a more serious note, though, I think this scamming business over the internet is a good subject of study under the rubric of Cultural Studies.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
if your security rests in the church,
if we see restoration as reproducing carbon copies of “the first-century” blueprint,
if we feel that we have already completed the restoration task,
if we believe our salvation rests on the accuracy with which we duplicate the blueprint;
then we will see no reason for change. In fact, we will actually fear change, lest it put our souls at risk.
Tragically, in some quarters, the views just outlined are bedrock assumptions. This is one reason good theology must precede strategy.
But, on the other hand,
if we see Jesus himself as the blueprint for all people in all times,
if we view the restoration as restoring men and women to Christ,
then, rather than fearing change, we will eagerly pursue any change that glorifies him more authentically and more effectively restores people to him. And we will more clearly understand what must and must not be changed.
Clinging to a past church model or method, however, wonderful it may have been in its heyday, is not a sign of faithfulness. Rather, faithfulness to Jesus’ mission requires us to explore every possible model for “doing church” and to continually come up with new methods to restore people to God.
- Lynn Anderson, Navigating the Winds of Change: How to Manage Change in the Church (West Monroe, LA: Howard Publishing, Inc., 1994), pp. 64-65.
Countless Christians have found comfort in Horatio G. Spafford's "It is Well with My Soul." Although I've already read Kenneth Osbeck's notes on the tragic circumstances surrounding the composition of this song, I found additional insights in Al Maxey's recent online article on this inspiring hymn.
Highly Recommended: Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace:366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1990; reprint, Manila: Back to the Bible, 2000), p. 202.