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All the English You Will Ever Need

 

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The English language is constantly evolving, both the words we use and the rules that control the usage of those words.  Therefore, it is impossible to ever have a definitive grammar guide, or, if you will, a Complete Guide of American English.  And that’s our excuse.

 

 

Word of the Every So Often

December 14, 2018 

albedo:  (noun)  the light reflected off a surface, usually that of a planet or moon, measured on a scale of zero to one, zero being completely non-reflective (such as black), and one being completely reflective (such as a mirror).  Sir, we're going to have to ask you to put on your hat.  The albedo off of your head is disturbing the other fans.

 

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Word of the Every So Often

debauchery:  (noun)  excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures; orgy.  All the worshipers of Baucus joined in the debauchery, and a good time was had by all.

8:29 pm pdt 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Need a Hobby?

This morning I went to the Internet for some quick numbers.  I wanted to know how many Christian sects there are in the world.  This is the sort of thing you might need to know if you read a lot of students’ essays.  The number I first came across was 34,000. 

So I got to thinking about that number.  My mind wanders when I clean the house.  And the more I thought about it, the more I thought, wow!  That’s a lot of sects (which is a fun word to say).  So I decided to double check.  Like always, when I don’t document where I found something on the Internet, there isn’t a chance in hell of ever finding it again.  So I had to start from scratch. 

When verifying the numbers, I had to be really careful about what year something was published in.  I found one list from 2000 and another from 1980.  Fat lot of good those numbers are ever going to do me.

What I found, though, is that 34,000 is more than likely low.  Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge, bows out on listing all the denominations, claiming there are over 38,000, though admittedly, that some of those are a bit difficult to verify.  (List of Christian Denominations)   However, Fairchild (which sounds like a reliable name to me) reports that there are 41,000.  And then there was quite the lively discussion at the Ask Me Help Desk back in 2007.  The general consensus was between 38,000 and 39,000 different sects, but the real discussion centered around nobody’s knowing where those numbers originally came from.  (38,000 Christian) 

So I did the best I could with what I had.  I averaged them, including the unverified 34,000.  And I came up with 38,000, the same as Wikipedia.

But here’s the deal:  Nobody has apparently taken the time to list every possible Christian sect that might exist currently, or even in the past.  Of course, maybe they have and they’re not sharing it with anybody, the bastards.  But in either case, it works out the same.  We need a list!  We need somebody to take charge.  We need somebody to stand up and say, “I’ll do it!”  What better way to give your life meaning!  Of course, you’ll have to define just what a “sect” is, and you’ll probably have to draw the line somewhere.  I mean, do you count “Bob’s Sacred Church of the Divine Me,” even if more than one Bob attends?  But that’s a problem for you to decide.  But do tell us how you decide.  Not much point in doing it at all if you don’t.

And be advised:  There are forty five lines on a page set with default margins, using Times New Roman 12 point font.  If there are 38,000 sects, it would take 845 pages to list them all, assuming that only one religion was listed per line.  Just something to keep in mind before you hit “Print.”

 

Work Cited

“38,000 Christian Denominations in the World?”  28 June 2007.  Ask Me Help Desk.  29 June 2012.  http://www.askmehelpdesk.com/christianity/38-000-christian-denominations-world-105066.html

Fairchild, Mary.  “Christianity Today -- General Statistics and Facts of Christianity.”  2012.  About.com.  29 June 2012.  http://christianity.about.com/od/denominations/p/christiantoday.htm

“List of Christian Denominations.”  23 June 2012.  Wikipedia.  29 June 2012.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations

 

5:28 pm pdt 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Word of the Every So Often

ablution:  (noun)  the act of washing oneself; ceremonial cleansing.  After a night of debauchery, she sought ablution from the priest.

9:59 pm pdt 

Deep Thought of the Day:

How is it possible to describe something by saying it is indescribable? 

9:58 pm pdt 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Word of the Every So Often

paucity:  (adj.)  the presence of something only in small or insufficient amounts; scarcity.  The paucity of the meal made stopping at a drive-thru restaurant a unanimous decision.

8:47 am pdt 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Word of the Every So Often

instill:  (verb)  to introduce gradually; to put in place.  The warden instilled fear in the inmates.

7:14 am pdt 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Spelling Matters!

Sunday when I was at the ballgame (watching the Dodgers whoop the Mariners), during the game they recognized various groups that were in attendance on the scoreboard.  One of those groups was "St. Alphonsis Alter Servers."  A common mistake, but on the jumbo-tron in front of over 20,000 fans... not good. 

9:33 am pdt 

Word of the Every So Often

wont:  (verb)  accustomed to.  She was wont not to use apostrophes, making those around her think she didn't know the difference between "wont" and "won't."

7:23 am pdt 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

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"If someone tells you to do something for money, tell them to go to hell."  Ray Bradbury, from a 2009 lecture.  

(Photo copied from the online version of the Seattle Times, June 7, 2012) 

9:51 am pdt 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Word of the Every So Often

pseudospeciation:  (adjective)  When fellow humans are considered a different species than you, and, really, since they are not the same species as you, what’s so wrong with killing them?  The process of pseudospeciation has allowed many a person to justify genocide.  (And remember:  it’s e before u unless after q)

8:09 am pdt 

The End of the World:  December 21, 2012

There are many who believe that the Mayans have predicted that the world will end on December 21, 2012.  They base this belief almost solely on the Mayan long calendar that ends on that date.  But then, most calendars do end, generally every year.  And, like the Mayan calendar, those endings mean nothing, other than it’s time to get a new calendar.  There is absolutely no reason to believe that Mayan calendar will be any more prophetic than my hummingbird calendar.

In understanding why preparing for the world to end this December is a bit pointless (aside from the obvious, unless, perhaps, you have a spaceship), the best place to start is with an understanding of how the Mayans viewed time.  The Mayans had three types of dating systems that they used concurrently, depending on their needs.  There was the divine calendar, the Tzolkin, which consisted of 20 day intervals that repeated every 260 days, used primarily for indicating good and bad luck days.  There was the civil or short calendar, the Haab, which lasted 52 years – what they consider the average life span and the only Mayan calendar that had a direct relation to the physical year as we know it – that was useful in keeping track of current dates.  And there was the long calendar that lasted... well, longer, and was useful in keeping track of those things that happened in the past as well as those things that might happen in the future.  (The Mayan Calendar)  It’s the long calendar that we’re concerned with.

The long calendar places the start of time over 5000 years ago.  Nobody truly knows why the Mayan calendar starts when it does, thousands of years before their actual civilization began, sometime in the corresponding Gregorian year of 3114 BCE.  (Why)  Of course, they didn’t call it 3114 BCE (but then, neither would anybody else at that time).  They called it zero (a term they developed independently from the rest of the world).  (Kaplan)  The best guess is that it had to start somewhere, and that was as good as any.

But where does it end?  Not December 21, 2012.  Sure, one of their long calendars ends there, but the Mayans had more than one long calendar.  In particular, there is the recently unearthed calendar that was found at the ancient site of Xultún.  This calendar, which was created around 814 CE, projects 7000 years into the future, or, roughly, the calendar will end 5000 years from now – plenty of time to stock up on survival gear.  But even so, the Mayans didn’t believe the earth would end then.  In fact, the entire purpose of projecting their calendars so far into the future was to show that the world would not end – ever.  “The Maya were looking for a guarantee that nothing would change.”  They saw the world in a profoundly different way than many of us do today.  (Saturno)

The Western World basically views time through an eschatological mind-set.  Eschatology is a branch of theology that is concerned with the end of humanity, in particular, how Christians view the end of the world and the judgment of all humankind that will follow.  (Eschatology)  We of the Western mind-set tend to see all creation as having a start manifested by a divine creator and a finish (a time of universal judgment), which is then generally followed by an eternity of either reward or punishment in which time no longer matters.  Others, such as the Mayans and most Eastern religions, however, see time as cyclic.  (Saturno)  Not only do many Eastern religions, such as Hinduism, not recognize a time when the world may have begun, they don’t believe it will ever end.  It is a never ending cycle of life.

In predicting the end of time based on the Mayan calendar, we are attempting to apply our world view – how we see the world, in particular, how we view the passing of time on a grand scale – to how others saw the world, in particular, how they conceived time.  It’s a bit like measuring air pressure with a ruler.  It can be done... sort of, but we’re really missing the point.

Of course, there are those – the Mormons – who believe the Mayans could have been influenced by early Christian thought.  True, the Mormons believe that one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel – the Nephites – migrated to the new world in the sixth century before the birth of Christ and would eventually be visited there by Christ himself before he returned to heaven.  (Madsen)  And it is also true that the Mayan civilization came into existence after the Nephites supposedly came to the New World.  The Mayans existed from approximately 250 CE to 900 CE.  (O’Neill)  Therefore, it is possible that the Mayans were influenced by these early Christians.

However, the historical evidence that any ancient Jewish tribes ever came to the New World is highly debatable, to say the least.  As well, the evidence does not point to the Mayans ever adopting any Christian or Jewish beliefs.  In particular, the Mayans did not believe in a single god, but rather worshiped over 160 different deities, and a huge part of their beliefs involved human sacrifices.  (Ancient Mayan History Highlights)  True, Jewish religion also included human sacrifices (note Genesis 22, for instance), but there is no evidence that the Jews waged wars solely for a supply of victims to sacrifice to their god, and the sacrifice of Jesus supposedly eliminated the need for any further sacrifices. 

What it comes down to is that humans want to be assured of the future, whether it’s knowing when all life as we know it will end, or the assurance that all life as we know it will continue on forever.   And we’re willing to believe anything – be it the stars, ancient religious texts, the tossing of chicken bones, or especially numerology.  Contrary to all evidence, many people throughout the world – and throughout time – have put a lot of weight into numerology, the idea that random arrangements of numbers actually mean something.  (Numerology)  And this is especially true when it comes to dates.  Perhaps it is the belief that if, just possibly, we can discern a pattern, then we can predict the future.  And if we can predict the future, perhaps we can change it.  And if we can change it, then maybe, once again contrary to all evidence, we can cheat death (or at least be prepared for it).  If you know that the flood is coming, then you can be on higher ground.

But the idea that the Mayans actually predicted the end of the world some 2000 years ago is just plain silly, especially since everybody knows the world won’t end until 10:22 p.m. on Friday, February 22, 2222.  (2222)


Work Cited

2222:  The Zombie Apocalypse.  2012.  Brooklyn Publishers.  31 May 2012.  http://www.brookpub.com/default.aspx?pg=sd&st=2222%3a+THE+ZOMBIE+APOCALYPSE&p=2281

“Ancient Mayan History Highlights:  Religious Beliefs.”  2002.  Mayan History Home Page.  31 May 2012.  http://www.oneworldjourneys.com/jaguar/mayan_history/index.html

“Eschatology.”  2012.  Merriam-Webster.  31 May 2012.  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eschatology

Kaplan, Robert.  “What is the origin of zero? How did we indicate nothingness before zero?”  16 Jan. 2007.  Scientific American.  31 May 2012.  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-is-the-origin-of-zer

Madsen, Ann N., and Barnard N. Madsen.  “Judah Through the Centuries.”  Jan. 1982.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  31 May 2012.  http://www.lds.org/ensign/1982/01/judah-through-the-centuries?lang=eng

“The Mayan Calendar.”  2008.  Calendars Through the Ages.  31 May 2012.  http://www.webexhibits.org/calendars/calendar-mayan.html

“Numerology.”  2012.  The Skeptic’s Dictionary.  31 May 2012.  http://www.skepdic.com/numology.html

O’Neill, Dan.  “2012 Mayan Calendar ‘Doomsday’ Date Might be Wrong.”  18 Oct. 2010.  Discovery News.  31 May 2012.  http://news.discovery.com/space/the-2012-mayan-calendar-doomsday-date-might-be-wrong.html

Saturno, William.  “A rare set of 1,200-year-old Maya murals offers a glimpse into an ancient mind-set.”  June 2012.  National Geographic.  31 May 2012.  http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/06/explorers-journal

“Why did the Maya begin their calendar on August 13, 3114 B.C?”  2012.  Yahoo! Answers.  31 May 2012.  http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120425091043AATeiUG

 

8:07 am pdt 


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