Quacks and jugglers

Etymological dictionaries can be uncannily prescient. While many people scoff at the idea of prophecy, I’m less certain: there appears to be a prophetic element in etymology itself:


The following is part of the actual etymology of the word “trump”. I have highlighted notable words in red:

‘”fabricate, devise” 1690s, from trump “deceive, cheat” (1510s), from Middle English trumpen (late 14c.), from Old French tromper “to deceive” of uncertain origin. Apparently from se tromper de “to mock” from Old French tromper “to blow a trumpet.” Brachet explains this as “to play the horn, alluding to quacks and mountebanks, who attracted the public by blowing a horn, and then cheated them into buying …” The Hindley Old French dictionary has baillier la trompe “blow the trumpet” as “act the fool“‘.

This etymological game lead to my exploring the word “mountback” cited above. Again, the prescience of words:

‘mountebank (n.)”a doctor that mounts a bench in the market, and boasts his infallible remedies and cures“. [Johnson], 1570s, from Italian montambanco, contraction of monta in bancoquack, juggler” literally “mount on bench” (to be seen by crowd), from monta, imperative of montare “to mount” (see mount (v.)) + banco, variant of banca “bench” (see bank (n.2)). Figurative and extended senses from 1580s.

That last sentence I highlighted simply because since the 1580’s we need no longer understand these words literally; there are those who figuratively mount their political soapboxes to boast of their infallible remedies for society’s perceived ills. They continue to fabricate, devise, deceive, cheat and mock us. With what naivety we respond to their “horn blowing”, their strident calls to buy their shabby panaceas, their toxic snake oil.

The theft of what is sacred

Martin Heidegger: Labor and Time

“If you agree that money is a substitute for time and energy, then you would also probably agree that what you sell to your employer are your “time” and “effort”. Verily, if your boss had enough time and energy to effectively manage all the affairs of the business, she or he would not need you to work for her or him. Time is expressive of a sacred aspect of your existence, in the sense that time, according to philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), is a precondition of your possibilities in life – and your life and your possibilities do not last forever here in this world. In this regard, how much does your “time” – as a measure and significance of your “being” in the world – matter to you? Your time is your treasure, and the sacrilege (from Latin sacrilegium, “theft of what is sacred”) of your time is extinction of your possibilities, of your life, of your being in the world.

“Heidegger, in his book Being and Time, considers the question: Are you “authentic”? (The word “authentic” is derived from the Greek word authentēs, meaning “author”.) In other words, are you the author of your own “time” and “being”? If you, as an employee, are alienated from your own work products, work activities, and your own being at work, you will feel a sense of inauthenticity or not belonging to the workplace – because your time at work does not belong to you and does not serve your own being, but the employer’s – who makes profit (plus the surplus) while you make only an hourly wage(without the surplus). Is your precious time worth the hourly wage you receive? Some would argue that your salary or hourly wage is a measure of how much you respect yourself, let alone how much respect your employer holds for you. How much does your employer pay you per hour? Is your existence, your short time being in this world, worth that much? Or, does the finitude of your existence and possibilities make your time infinite in value, and above all, in significance? Think about it! This is not to imply to hold resentment toward your employer, but to be conscious of your own state of “being”, not letting it go “unfelt”.

“If your workplace becomes an encagement(imprisonment) of your time, hence of your possibilities of being in the world, who is to blame? Heidegger would advise us not to be too quick to judge! And, he would insist that: a culture which confuses “being” with “having” and “time” with what is “now” – a culture which is obsessed with accumulation of entities (i.e., consumer goods) which conclusively define the culture’s spirit, orientation, values, and aspirations – is one that should alarm us. In other words, our culture, along with its fostered labor conditions, expresses the impoverishment of our ontological interest in our own existence and time.”


Tonight I hold my dog in my arms

Tonight I hold my dog in my arms and suddenly am aware that like so many canine companions before him, the time will come when his body gives in, when death finally takes him from me. Of course he could outlive me; in either case the problem of evil is there for me, as real as his life itself.

“The problem of evil only exists for those who believe in God. This is a God who is held to be both unlimited in power and in benevolence/love.”

– https://philosvids.wordpress.com/category/attributes-of-god/


The Presence of God at Auschwitz

The Presence of God at Auschwitz: Theological Reflections on the Work of Melissa Raphael

“Drawing on women’s experiences of the Holocaust, particularly women’s caring for and establishing relationships with one another, Melissa Raphael views such acts of non-violent resistance as reflecting the image of God. She maintains that God was not absent, silent, or responsible for the death of six million Jews, but rather was present as Shekhinah: a medieval, mystical, female image of the divine who goes into exile and suffers with the Jewish people. Raphael’s critique is not of God but of patriarchal models of divinity. This essay critically reflects upon the methods and sources Raphael uses in constructing her theology of presence. While sharing her belief in the importance of gender, it questions her selective use of women’s writings; her equation of femaleness with compassion and love to the exclusion of law and commandment; and the image of Shekhinah within Raphael’s feminist theological revision.”


I have not read this book, but the following review has put it on my priority-read list:

“Bile. Not worth the pixel light of my tablet. Absolute Bile. No coherence and never touches on the true issue.”

If her treatment of the subject gets one lonely star, then I confess I’m intrigued. I was attracted to the title because of parallels I see with Christian Theopaschitism, itself the subject of derision. Perhaps the denigration of the book is related to the dismissal of the Shekhinah. I’ll dig deeper and let you know.

Earth is somewhere here



The Hubble telescope image above shows just one tiny section of our universe. It is dense with galaxies of which our own, the Milky Way, is but one insignificant dot. At this scale of course no planets are visible – even a pinprick is too massive in size to describe the scales involved.

Consider this: our galaxy (randomly select one galaxy from the picture as an example) contains some 100 billion planets.


There are in excess of 100 billion galaxies in the universe and this number is likely to increase to about 200 billion as telescope technology in space improves. (Livio, Space.com).

If one planet were to disappear, like, for example, our own, will it make any difference?

Watch the video: http://bit.ly/2kcfliC


See: http://www.space.com/25203-spiral-galaxy-spills-guts-hubble-photo.html

Image source: Dosis Astronomica


Animal Farm (revisited)

Who gives a damn about ethics, anyway?


Scientists Spawn Human-Pig ‘Chimeras’

“California scientists have engineered human-pig hybrids, injecting human stem cells into pig embryos to develop for a trimester in surrogate sows. The goal is to create pigs with a few human cells, paving the way for animals to grow specific human organs for transplants.”

We forget that Frankenstein was not originally the name of the monster itself, but of the mad scientist who created the enslaved creature.

“the subject ( the making of monsters) is one that has deeper connections to our plight as human beings. If anything, Frankenstein is a symbol for the ‘hidden’ hideous crimes against humanity by those that are most definitely ‘soulless’.

What man inflicts on his fellow humans and on animals is the work of a Dr Frankenstein. Vivisection, the harvesting of organs and blood from caged anumals, experimentation: when the Nazis and Japanese  committed these atrocities during WW2 it was labelled criminal. Today, scientists pursue their dark arts with impunity. But what does that say about our humanity?