Saturday, June 11, 2005

Anyways, to finish a thought about the 12 tribes of Israel

In Genesis, the twelve tribes of Israel are listed as descendents of the twelve sons of Jacob. More over, these sons are the offspring of Jacob's four wives.
Leah bore Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.
Bilhah bore Dan and Naphtali.
Zilpah bore Gad and Asher.
Rachel bore Joseph and Benjamin.
Additionally, Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, who's descendants are treated as their own tribes.

Now do the math
Leah bore 6 sons. Bilah bore 2 sons. Zilpah bore 2 sons. Rachel bore 2 sons. Joseph (son of Rachel) bore two sons, and he himself doesn't count. 6+2+2+2-2-1=13, not 12. Yet, even throughout the bible, Israel is often said to be the made up of 12 tribes.

Even more contradictions come from different texts in the bible from different periods.
At Deuteronomy 33, leaders of all the tribes of Israel are said to be present at a gathering to receive their tribe's blessing. The odd thing is that the tribe of Simeon isn't listed. Were they snubbed? Unlikely. Such a snubbing would be listed with reasons for condemnation. In fact, even more strange, Joseph is listed right along with his two sons as though a separate tribe from them.

There's also missing reference to a tribe in 1 Kings 11 in the prophecy regarding the brake up of the nation of Israel.

Song of Deborah
However, the biggest glaring contradiction comes from the Song of Deborah in Judges 5. "This may be the oldest textual fragment preserved in the Bible, dating to about the twelfth or eleventh century B.C....," says Gary Greenberg in his book 101 Myths of the Bible (of which most, but not all, of this blog entry is derived). The Song of Deborah records Deborah's efforts to rally the tribes of Israel against the Canaanites. It lists the tribes that heeded the call and the tribes that didn't. The names of the Israelite tribes listed in the Song of Deborah are substantially different from the traditional 12 (or 13) tribes of Israel. Gilead, Machir, Meroz are included, but Simeon, Levi, Judah, Manasseh, and Gad are not mentioned. Take a quick glance above to see who are the mothers of these missing tribes. That is an interesting nuance.

Mr. Greenberg states,"Because this is one of the oldest textual passages in the Bible, the inclusion and omission of names provides solid clues about the emergence of Israel and any connections to the sons of Jacob." Additionally, "The absence of these five tribes from Deborah's list strongly suggests that they had not yet come into existence as political entities until later and that their namesakes had no earlier existence as sons of Jacob."

Excuses, excuses
Growing up in a Christian Fundamentalist home, one thing always excused away was the inconsistencies in the number and names of the tribes of Israel. Is it 12 or 13? I count 13, but we always would say it's 12. Then, when it came time to read the Song of Deborah, the contradiction of names and number was waved off with something like "the extra tribes mentioned were actually other peoples in the area that decided to help Israel." Of course, there's no support for that statement anywhere in the bible. It was pulled out of the air by someone hundreds of years ago and has been passed along as a quick way to prevent people from questioning the contradiction; which could lead to questioning the idea of taking the Bible literally. (Oh, the horror of it all!) Also, the ridiculous excuse doesn't explain why so many of the traditional Israelite tribes are missing from the list.

The stories surrounding each of the tribes of Israel were written long after the events listed. These stories were written as metaphors for each tribe's place in Israel. As tribes disappeared, their stories where lost, or changed to suit the newer tribes. Each tribe needed its own story in order to have a place in the Israelite nation. This political story telling was a tradition that has its origins in Egypt. The Israelite priests and leadership carried on the traditional after they were expelled from Egypt as a way to legitimately establish new political/religious structures in the new land. It is likely many of these first priests and leaders had similar positions in Egypt before their expulsion. In fact, the name of Moses himself is a clue as to the real origin of many of the stories in the Bible. More on that some other time. Hint: Hyksos.

There's always a tomorrow...

There's always a tomorrow today.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Bible Myth #63

Genesis 49:1-2, 28 states that the twelve tribes of Israel descend from the patriarche Jacob's twelve sons. As stated in 101 Myths of the Bible , "Jacob's twelve sons were the mythological founders of various political groups that merged into the House of Israel."
...just got busy...finish this line of thought later.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Trees and Hair

Seattle has so many trees packed into its city, the only way to add more trees is have the homes built in the trees as tree houses.
Stereotype alert: Do all of the local Seattle residents have bad hair? Even people with styled hair go out of their way to make it messy. What gives?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


How would I describe Seattle? Well, from my frame of reference, it is kinda a cross between San Francisco and Monterey, with trees EVERYWHERE. My g/f and I got there in the afternoon on Sat this weekend. The plan was to get there in the morning, but our flight was delayed. We had a good room (with a great bathroom) at the Grand Hyatt in the downtown area. This put us in walking distance of everything. We did a little shopping after settling in. Then we had a relaxing sunset dinner cruise around the harbor and inlet areas. Although the food pretty much sucked, the expereince was still very enjoyable.
We slept in hella late on Sunday. Lost half a day. Oh well. We started off by hopping on the monorail which took us to the Space Needle. It wasn't as tall as I thought it would be. We had a lovely and fun brunch in the revolving rest'rant at the top. I had my g/f place a penny on the rim to see if it would still be there when we rotated back around. Being the brat she is, she put the penny tail side up to give bad luck to anyone who tried to take it. When it came around again, I flipped it head side up to reverse her curse intent, but she said it didn't count. lol
That evening, we had dinner at Ototo, which is kinda a hip sushi rest'rant. It had good food in good portions, though I'd recommend avoiding the sake based cocktails.
Monday morning, we headed down to the Pike Street Festival. All kinds of local arts and craft were available. We watched the fish throwing antics of the famous fish market down there. The only question I had was, "Who would by so much fish at once?" cuz they sold the fish whole, and the fish they sold whole were BIG. Well, luck for us, someone did buy one of the fish, giving us a wonderous, yet brief, display of their throwing and catching abilities. We later checked out the Science Fiction Museum and part of the rock-and-roll museum near the Space Needle.
When checking in for our flight home, I discovered I had purchased first class return tickets. Nice surprise for myself. We literally had the worse seats on the flight to Seattle (next to the engines in the last row). We literally had the best seats on the return flight, complete with cushioned leather seating, breadsticks and a tasty dip, and whole cans of soda.
My thought upon returning home is that I could imagine living in Seattle.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I'm a happy camper

I got a promotion last week. Yeah me. Only draw back is that my job title now officially has the word "engineer" in it. Oh well. lol

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Acting Style Star Wars Prequel Trilogy

America has been so over exposed to traditional Hollywood style method acting and other "realistic acting" styles, we've come to consider any other form of acting as bad. Also, movies that fall outside the traditional Hollywood way to make movies tend to be either jeered or at least under appreciated. The Star Wars prequel Trilogy stands somewhere in the middle. The style of these movies today is considered very Hollywood in the action, filming techniques, etc. However, when the first Star Wars movie was released, it was anything but Hollywood. Hollywood has since adopted the original Star Wars style for its own science-fiction films. Before this point, the classic style of the old 1930's films had long vanished, and there wasn't enough interest in making sci-fi's to form a genre with footing in Hollywood. So, even though the original Star Wars movies were groundbreaking, the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy films today are very Hollywoodish by today's standards; except for its acting style.

There are several forms of acting. Each is used to tell a story for which it is best suited. "Realistic acting" (Method Acting, and also variations of Stanislavski Acting), have dominated Hollywood since the 1950's.  In particular, Method Acting best tells strong emotional character driven stories. Unfortunately, such styles are used for almost every movie these days. These acting styles do not fit many types of stories. But, us Americans are so accustomed to them, we are adverse to any other acting styles.
There's a quote from George Lucas about the acting style of the Prequel Trilogy: "It's not deliberately camp. I made the film[s] in a 1930s style. It's based on a Saturday matinee serial from the 1930s, so the acting style is very 30s, very theatrical, very old-fashioned. Method acting came in in the 1950s and is very predominant today. I prefer to use the old style. People take it different ways, depending on their sophistication."[001]
Taken in context of filmmaking, without regard for American prejudice, the acting in the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy is very good. The formal acting style (derived from theatrical or stage acting) is used very effectively. It allows the story to be told through a balance between dialog, plot, and character development, rather than being over-driven by character development as in the case of many Hollywood movies of any genre.

I too used to have a prejudice in favor of "realistic acting". However, the Prequel Trilogy has opened my mind to other forms, not just of acting, but filmmaking in general. I now not only understand Non-hollywood films, I can enjoy them as much as I enjoy Hollywood films. I don't believe I'm alone. I think the Prequel Trilogy is, in part, responsible for the growth of the independent film industry since the 1990's. Thank you George Lucas.


I was in Fresno for my friend's graduation from Fresno State. Afterwards we had a bbq and fairly busy house party. It was a fun, long day. :) The drive was over two hours to get to Fresno. Today, I headed up to my folks place. They live about 1.5 hours from my place, so I'm still debating whether to head home tonight or tomorrow morning.

I did check out the Chocolate Festival in Oakdale today. Kinda lame. Hersey's Chocolate sponsers this thang cuz I guess they used to have a factory there or sumfin. Anyways, the festival doesn't have a whole lot to do with Chocolate, dispite its name.

::que Star Wars theme::

I got in line early for the digital showing of Revenge of the Sith at
Century 22. Big, bold and almost brilliant. I had a lot of fun at the
theater before and during the movie. I really enjoyed it. I felt the
handling of the Emperor and yoda was a little cartoonish, but the movie was
good over all. There was a lot of plot in this movie...kinda feels Lucas
should have made the prequel trilogy on the story of episode 3 alone.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

What a mess

The bible has many authors, most of which are not recongized by modern religion. For example, the first five bible books, or Torah have four or five sources. These sources are often called J, E, P and D. There may be a fifth source as well. There is also evidence of significant redaction from any number of additional sources. I’m not going into detail on this. It’s just important to know this because the Torah is presented as though is it one continuous and harmonious inspired work detailing the history of the world and the Israelite peoples. It turns out that it is made up of several competing set documents that were meshed together long after the original texts were written. When one starts to identify the sources of each section of the Torah, one finds just how poorly the sources have been combined. Very often, there are direct contradictions between sections of the various sources, even within the same story.
Personally, I believe the four sources themselves have many other sources from which they were derived. The sense I get is that each tribe in the Israel nation had its own set of stories to give itself legitimacy, serving as metaphors for their place in the region. In fact, I believe they were intentional written as metaphors, and never were meant to be taken literally. When all of Israel was finally conquered by an outside power, there appeared to be an effort to assembly a unified history of the Hebrew peoples, maybe to find hope or meaning in their new role as a conquered people. Since most of their other tribes of Israel had already vanished by this time, this assemblage (which became the Torah) mostly reflects stories of the last surviving tribes and priestly establishments.
Given this view, it is possible that Israel was never one nation. It appears that it was an alliance of different nations that changed through time. Fact is the bible has several different lists of the tribes of Israel. These lists vary substantially. It wasn’t until King David established his empire that all these various nations become one country. At that time, the fluid alliance formalized under one central power. If I remember correctly, the list of tribes doesn’t change after this period.
The further implication is that the peoples that made up the Israel alliance where originally polytheistic, with each tribe choosing which gods to represent them. The struggle between Baalist and Yahwehist survives in the bible because Yahwehist (the winners) got to write the final versions of that part of Israel’s history. They used the struggle and defeat of the Baalist to justify their position. However, Yahweh himself is a composite of 3 other gods, prolly combined to unify the religion, link up the various tribal stories and expand the priestly orders. Some early images of Yahweh (before he was declared an invisible god) show him as a lion with legs as serpent bodies. Hmm, there is an underlining serpent story to the earliest parts of the Torah. God used serpents to punish his people. Then Moses made a statue of a serpent for people to seek salvation from the serpents. It’s possible that story was created in order to explain away evidence of early serpent worship by Israelite ancestors. What other gods disappeared from Israelite history at the hands of the victorious Yahwehist?
So, both gods and peoples vanish from Israelite history. The victors wrote stories justifying their conquests. Later generations took these stories as fact, combining them into the Torah. They also informally attributed the Torah to Moses. The informal credit to Moses as the writer later became fact by tradition, and the Torah become undeniable truth. And there stands the foundation of three great religions.
Reference: 101 Myths of the Bible

Friday, May 13, 2005

Fighting the Future, One Square Root at a time

Find the square root for Y
Stage One:
1. Determine the largest squared whole number less than Y.
2. Use the square root of the largest squared whole number to be the first part of the answer. Place this number to the left of the decimal place within the answer.
3. Find the difference of Y and the squared whole number.

Stage Two:
1. Multiple the difference by 100, designated as A.
2. Multiple the answer so far by 2 (without the decimal point), designated as B.
3. Multiple B by 10.
4. Give C one of the following values: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9
5. Find D where (B+C)*C equals the greatest value less than A.
6. C becomes the next digit right of the decimal in the answer.
7. Find the difference between of A and D.
8. Repeat Stage Two until the answer reaches the desired number of digits after the decimal.


PDF File: Example to find the square root of 3

(Sorry, I had to make it a PDF file because html isn't good at showing math equations and I didn't want to scan in my chicken scratch writing. Free Acrobat Reader is a must, but if you don't already have it, go here to get it:

Now, is anyone ever going to use this? Hey, if anyone has seen this method in print, please let me know.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Preface to Square Root

Back when I was in high school, I learned something that isn’t known by very many people. I learned the method to manually find a square root in a way that is similar to long division. This method allows you to find each decimal place with certainty. You can solve to as many places after the decimal point as you want.
I've never found this long method in print anywhere. I’ve found other simpler methods to finding a square root, but they usually involve closing in on the square root by continuously rerunning the same method. You are never left with a perfect answer because you can never be sure if the successive decimal places are correct. I’m also not sure which method is used by calculators (on which we all depend for square roots these days, which is the beginning of Asimov’s vision for our world coming true, but that’s a future blog entry).
I have no clue why this long method works. But, in a very small effort to fight the future, I’m going to show the method here, soon.

UPDATE: Here's the link to the long method of finding square roots:

Saturday, May 07, 2005

We're returning to where we were.

More than a few years ago, I noticed something weird about how I speak. I realized that I use the word them as a nongender singular objective pronoun instead of him/her (which over specifies gender, when gender either didn't matter or wasn't known to me. Even more weird, I actually often use the contraction 'em to differentiate it from the common plural use of the word them.
At first I thought I was a bit weird. Then I noticed other people use the word them in this way. It's not overly common, but it's out there. Like, "if a stranger comes up next to you in a car, don't get in the car with them no matter what." An english major might tell you that statement is mixing up the subject, but it really is an attempt to apply them in the singular form.
The nice thing about the word 'em is that it is much quicker and easier to say than the artificial sounding P.C. term him/her. I also use themself as the nongender version of him/herself.
Since my realization about this word 'em, I use it intentional instead of him/her except in formal documents. Another thing I've noticed is that I do not use any replacement of he/she. Maybe it's be sounds ignorant to say "They is walking this way." :)
Ok, so is there any takers on helping me start the revolution to get rid of the word him/her? :)

Ok, so thinking about this got me thinking about the complexity of the English language. When I was younger, I used to think that French was strange, with it's unpronounced letters and odd contractions. Of course, English gets many of its habits from French, but it took me a long time to put two and two together. Then one day, I realized that English has just as strange unpronounced letters and even more weird contractions. I'm mean, trying telling a nonenglish speaker that thorough is pronounced "thir-o". Or worse, the same letters that are silence in thorough make the F sound in rough. What the hell? LOL
Along this thought, a phrase popped into my head that I thought would be particularly hard for nonenglish speakers, both in spelling and pronunciation. "We're returning to where we were." We're, where and were. They look pretty much the same, and sound pretty similar, but still distinct. Imagine a french speaker trying to say that three times fast. I think we're, where and were is worse than they're, their and there because at least these have the same pronunciation.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Crenelatory Critique

I’ve noticed that fantasy movies tend to have crenellations with way too many merlons and embrasures. In fact, I’ve seen merlons placed at the tip of a king’s donjon! Now how are a king's men supposed handle that? This display of diminutive crenels has got to stop! If this continues, I just know we’ll soon see exposed penetralias, and draughty keeps in the open streets! And then where will we be?

crenellation, merlon, embrasure, donjon, penetralia, draughty, & keep