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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 13

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking. AI screwups corrected in brackets

For continuity, start with Part 1:

No narrating into the phone today. It’s too cold. A few days ago it was almost 80. Now it is in the mid-30’s, wet, and blowy. Today walking the dog I’ll must take in the lectures on the headphones and write them up later:

Lecture 25: the end of dynsasty XVIII

No children from the final 3 kings, big problem for continuity.

Horemhab is the last of three. A military general. He is the one who first integrated priests into the army—the first “chaplains?” He saw how powerful priests were with the people, figured ‘best get them on our side.’

That monotheistic king—Athenaten? He’s an embarrassment by now, and subsequent kings try to erase him. That’s why little is known about Tutankhamen other than his intact tomb—the only one that is intact.

The restoration stela at Karnak says that after Athenaten, the statues of the gods had  been melted down (even the one god Athenatem worshiped he said there would be no images of), weeds were growing in the temples, the military was no longer respected.

The images and the weeds—two scenarios that repeat whenever the faithful Israelite kings toss out the riffraff and restore Jehovah’s worship! Only here that is considered a bad thing, not a good thing.

Look, I’m going to chase this down someday. If Joseph can be connected with the Hyksos, Athenaten is not too far removed from him—is he Joseph apostasized? No, I don’t expect to find what the great men have missed. Still, you never know with great men. Sometimes they make assumptions that mess up all subsequent conclusions.

I wonder if Bob brings up and speculates about this later. There is an upcoming lecture about ‘Exodus—did it happen?’

Horemhab’s wife was named Mutnedjemet. It means “sweet mama!” A common name, Bob says, so it maybe isn’t Tutankhamen’s sister-in-law, as some Egyptologists think. 

Lecture 26: Mummification

Bob loves mummification. He has done one, you know. (I wonder on who?) People come to Egypt and they want to see two things: pyramids and mummies. Mummies are special, he says. A recognizable figure staring at you from thousands of years in the past.

Still, they weren’t much cared for until recently. Artifacts were, but it did not occur to the collectors that dead bodies should be. Now Bob Brier will try to retrace how dead ones were mummified.

Not easy, because no written instructions were kept. Just a relief he tells of somewhere that shows the mummified body up on two blocks, so you can wrap underneath with out disturbing it. “Like jacking up a car,” the professor from the Bronx states. 

He spends time on embalmers, that they in many ways like undertakers today—a family profession. They might have several being embalmed at the same time, and they had different options representing different expense levels!

Just like when I buried my Dad and I told the undertaker that JW’s (Dad was not one, but he would have agreed on this) view the body as a container. At death, the person no longer has any need of it. Therefore, cremation would do just fine.

He said he thought of bodies much the same way. Did it give him the creeps working alone at at night amidst bodies? He said sometimes at first, but the feeling quickly fades. (I’ll bet he doesn’t feast on horror shows, though.) 

This is the funeral director who let me sit is his vintage Cadillac, picked up from some Hollywood mogul. It had been in a few films.


How to do mummies was a trade secret, not written down, but for Herodotus, since he was going away, Bob says embalmers told him a lot. Like how they take the brain out—through the nose with a “sharp Ethiopian stone.” Bob figures obsidian.

Go to Part 14

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Mathematics and Everything: From Hannah Fry to Stephen Fry—Part 2

See Part 1 here.

You can always trust Albert Einstein to come up with good questions. You can trust him to dive into the scientific but not abandon the spiritual. You can’t trust everyone to do that but you can trust him. For example, he says:

“Here arise a puzzle that has disturbed scientists of all periods. How is it possible that mathematics, a product of human thought that is independent of experience, fits so excellently the objects of physical reality? Can human reason without experience discover by pre thinking properties of real things?”

Morris Kline answers. He is not dumb, but forgive me if I suggest that his huge oversimplification is: “What we have achieved by way of mathematical description and prediction amounts to the good luck of the man who finds a hundred-dollar bill while casually taking a walk.”

Replace the hundred dollar bill with a hundred trillion dollar bill and then maybe we can talk. My opening remark will be, “When was the last time you found a hundred trillion dollar bill?”

It’s like Douglas Adams (the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), who also isn’t dumb. In fact, he’s smart, just like Kline is. But, like Kline, he hugely oversimplifies it. Try oversimplifying a paragraph of his book, and he’d howl like a rhesus.

Adams addresses people who believe that God must exist because the world so fits our needs. He compares them to an intelligent puddle of water that fills a hole in the ground. The puddle is certain that the hole must have been designed specifically for it because it fits so well. The puddle exists under the sun until it has entirely evaporated.

Whoa! What a great illustration! All you need do for it to be perfect is find an intelligent puddle of water. It is as though these pillars of thought leadership just dissolve into mush when they try to explain away what any 5-year-old knows can’t be explained away.

Take this tweet from Richard Dawkins—no one sneers at God more than he: He quotes Einstein again, just like I did in opening this post: “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible,” the great one says. Dawkins adds: “But what is the alternative to comprehensible? What kind of a world would it be if it were incomprehensible? What would it look like?” He even invites his audience to “discuss” his moronic question.

My contribution was that it would look like this:


Careful, Tommy, careful. Remember, Dawkins (and Kline, and Adams) is a Great Man, and you are not. You really going to call him moronic? You really going to go the route of the one who doesn’t suffer fools gladly—and a fool is anyone who disagrees? Really?

Sigh...of course I am not. I am chastened. Dawkins has more Twitter followers than I do—and THAT probably is not only what the world would look like if it were incomprehensible, but the greatest proof that it is! Even so, sometimes a child with fewer followers than he must say: “The emperor has no clothes!”


Now, if I say that Hannah Fry’s doing a math show to make me mad, it must be conceded that math can make a person mad. It is not so directly transferable to reality as may at first glance appear—and in accounting for this, the renegades are emboldened to take shots at God.

Everyone knows that parallel lines never meet. They know that by looking down the railroad tracks. The rails may seem to converge, but it is just an illusion. So do you think that simple math (geometry) will come down on the side of illusion or sense? It comes down on the side of illusion! In real life, if you walk down a few hundred yards, you see they are still apart—they don’t touch. In geometry, they do!

Do a thought experiment Start in your head with two perpendicular lines; one is horizontal, and one is vertical. They cross. Call the point where they cross ‘P’. Grab hold of the vertical line just above the horizontal line and start to pivot it. What happens to ‘P’—that point of intersection? Doesn’t it move farther and farther down the horizontal line. At what point does it “jump off” to make the two lines parallel?

When I played this trick on guys in the workplace, some saw right away that the lines would never separate—designate a place of separation, and why can you not draw a straight line from the pivot point to a point just a bit further down from your separation point? Some guys walked away scratching their heads. Some got mad, as though I was messing with reality.

It’s like that other scenario of how in a race someone gaining can never pass the one in the lead, since he would first have to close half the distance, and he couldn’t do that until he had closed half that distance. And he couldn’t do that until he had closed half that distance, and so forth. It doesn’t end. The runner catching up can never pass. But go to the races and you will see that he does all the time.. So math can mess with your mind. It does screwy things.

So can you seize upon such things to throw out God? “Mathematics is the alphabet with which God has written the universe,” says Galileo, but since there are some strange letters in that alphabet, that means he didn’t write it. Can you go there? Why not do a Job instead?  “Look! These are the fringes of his ways, And what a whisper of a matter has been heard of him! But of his mighty thunder who can show an understanding?”  (Job 26:14)

The woman following Jesus thought it enough to touch his outer garment, and it did wonders for her when she did. She didn’t have to try the garment on herself. Why doesn’t that satisfy the scientists? Why can’t they just acquiesce to “My ways are higher than your ways?” (Isa 55:8-9)

Return to Einstein, and even my observation of him that he will delve into the scientific without junking the spiritual, ofthe developing field on quantum mechanics, he observed:

“Quantum mechanics is very worthy of respect. But an inner voice tells me that it is not the genuine article after all. The theory delivers much, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the Old One. I . . . am convinced that He does not play dice,”

Alas, Einstein caught Him playing dice!—the weirdness of quantum mechanics has proven true. But it didn’t stumble him. He didn’t say, “Well, I guess there isn’t any Old One.” He said (not literally) “Well, I guess Old One is older than I thought, and a cagier too.” I mean, who says he has to spell it all out for humans to understand readily. He’s God. He can do what he wants. “If I were hungry,” he says at Psalm 50:12, “I would not tell it to you.”

Exactly. Are humans going to help him out?

See Part 3.


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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 12

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking. AI screwups corrected in brackets

For continuity, start with Part 1:

Egypt 12, Lecture 23: the murder of Tutankhamen: a theory

What he next presents, he makes clear is his theory. Some agree, but it seems most disagree. This is like his theory of Athematem, the religious nut, attracting the flower children.

Why do I begin to equate Bob Brier to Maigret, who insisted upon stepping into the shoes of whatever murder victim, to get a feel for him, before arriving at a solution largely intuitive? 

Another discussion of how names mean something. I’ve let this pass many times before and remarked upon. I won’t go into it here. But like in the Bible, names are significant. Sometimes people change their name, to indicate new beliefs, often new gods they follow or wish to honor.

Johnson equals John’s son. Goldman equals man who works with or sells gold. It almost looks like the only people in history that use names just as a meaningless tag is our age. Historically they have not been that way.

Tutankhamen changes his name to Tutankhamen, to show that the old religion is coming back. No more monotheism of Athematem. He leaves the city in the desert, and comes back to thieves. [Thebes]

He was about 18 years old when he died. They can tell by molars, they can tell by bone ends, which become less Cine week [senewy] with age. They damaged the money [mummy] getting it out. At the time, before DNA knowledge, people didn’t realize the treasures that were mommies, [mummies] and weren’t as careful as they would be with gold objects.

Because his mommy [mummy] is the only one ever found intact in its tomb, they decided to leave it there. You can’t see it. It is within the sarcophagus. What is there is in the tomb as you go visit.

after Tutankhamen’s death, his widow is the sole survivor of royalty, no one left in the family. She writes the Hittite king.

They were enemies. But she says “they say you have a lot of sons. Send over one, and I will marry him andmake him king.” She ends her letter “I am afraid“. She says “never will I marry a servantOf mine.” It sounds like, Bob says, someone is forcing her to marry a commoner. Who would do that?

“That’s like the British writing to Hitler and saying “come on over “”

He presents all those discussion, not so much to say he is right, though of course he thinks he is, but his goal is to show how an Egyptologist forms a theory.

After checking it out, because he doesn’t believe it at first, the headache [Hittite] king sends a prince. The prince is murdered at the border. A government job, Bob says. This is only in the Hittite records, not Egyptian ones.

 He found the new berry [Newberry] ring in an antique with his shop. He didn’t have the money to buy it. He drew it. It showed Tutankhamen’s wife and Aye together. They were married. Was Aye the commoner Tutankhamen’s wife was afraid of? She disappears from history. Someone else bought the ring, so the question comes up:Did it even exist? It has never been heard of again.

Bob says: “it’s like a murder mystery only better!”


A similar ring was later found. They were married, yes. It is in the Berlin Museum. Bob went to see it. But on the phone the curator did not know about it. Bob asked to speak to another curator. He did know about it. It’s because east and west Germany had just been reunited, and two museums made into one.

I’ve got to admit, Bob’s theory holds together. That guy killed him, and married his widow. But he says it’s just a theory, you shouldn’t take it as fact. He is from the Bronx, though. Bear that in mind.

Wow! Bob plans to go there himself to the tomb and check it out. He wants to excavate the mommy [mummy] again. Now they have CAT scans. Maybe stomach contents will tell him stuff . Maybe he has done these things by now. Best to check it out.

Lecture 24–Medicine

No Bob Brier will do one of what he calls his side trips, this time into medicine. Last time I think it was obelisks, how to make one, how to transport one, how to set up one.

The physicians are connected with the priest. Serving at different temples.

Writing is obviously an important invention. But for some reason the Egyptians didn’t write an awful lot of things. Not mummification. Not how to make pyramids. But they did write down their medicine.

Play toll [Plato] says Egyptians invented writing, the God toss [Toth], and it was a terrible invention. “Good old Play-Doh?” [Plato}

He says “now men will have the appearance of knowledge, but not true knowledge“. So you don’t have to have it in your head anymore. You’ve got it on papyrus, so you don’t need to know it. Apparently that’s his thought.

So there is a tradition that really important things, you don’t write down. And Plato was a student of Socrates, who never wrote anything down.

Three guards, [gods] he discusses the mall [them all], were associated with healing. You went to the temple for your healing. “It was like the clinic”

“Egypt was famous for his positions [physicians]” There are Greek inscriptions of ones who say they came, they asked the guard [god] for help, and they were cured.

Some think that Egyptian’s were so good at Madison [medicine] because they practice mummification, and that’s how you learn anatomy.

Bob himself doesn’t buy it, though. The priest and the bombers [embalmers] were of different classes. The embalmers kind of more slowly [lowly], they smelled, they reeked of chemicals.

They took all organs out through about a 2 inch opening in the abdomen, so you don’t really see too much that way. You don’t learn too much of anatomy that way.

The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus. Three options given physicians  that they can say. One. This is an illness that I will treat. To. This is an illness with which I will contend. Three. This is an illness that I will not treat. Saved face for the physicians, Bob says. There were illnesses you were supposed to walk away from.

The Edwin Smith surgical papyrus has instructions for 48 types of injuries. It mostly deals with physical injuries, breaks and so forth, that you might encounter building huge pyramids, moving huge blocks.

Another papyrus outlines 800 medical treatments. Spells, poultices,

Magical spells for blindness.  For “when the gods made me see night during the day”

If you had a lame foot, wrap it in a deer skin. The deer is fleet of foot. Maybe wrapping it around your foot will make you fleet of foot like the deer.

So there were two approaches. One was clinical, and one was magical, when the calls [cause] wasn’t known.

Go to Part 13

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of April 19, 2021

Weekend Meeting:

That speaker today—a young man. He was a single teen when I last worked with him in Sunday PM service. He’d come with his parents for his Dad’s public talk

When he and his wife thought he’d be moving, prior to Covid, I ended up storing an array of drums in my attic that had been stored in his.

3 scriptures from the speaker in short order & my wife says she has used all of them in service in the past 2 weeks:

Showing favor to the lowly is lending to God

The foolish one pays attention to every word

Treat others as you would want to be treated.

The overall theme is Psalm 19:7–“The law of Jehovah is perfect, bringing back the soul. The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise.”

Watchtower Study: 

Someone cited the observation of how Mary’s participation in deep spiritual discussion with Jesus would have “shocked most Jewish men” of the time.

I remember working in a van with a group of five, and the sister driving knew how to mix 5 so everyone had equal turns with others, and I didn’t, yet she felt obliged that I should make those assignments. “Tell me what you want to do and I’ll bless it,” I said.

“A baptized son is not the head of his mother. (Eph. 6:1, 2)”

I remember the family that had done a work stint in Saudi Arabia describing the utter chaos, even delinquincy, that resulted when mothers were unable to discipline their teenage sons.

“With good intentions, an elder might think of himself as a fatherlike head...& reason that if a family head has the right to make rules to protect his family, an elder can make rules...” I’ve never heard it put that way, but I have seen it play out. A good point to set straight.

Faces blacked out on the Governing Body picture, because it’s not about them, someone said, but their assignment —illustrated by the world map overhead that was not blacked out. Well—I can recognize their profiles, though. These guys are all spottable days.

“Why should we respect the headship principle?” Contrast with the greater world, where everyone pushes to be head & the collective chaos that results, even though they be better educated, many of them.

“The article mention he [the husband] may well want to consult his wife before...” “May?!—he’d better!” says my wife—not to all on Zoom.

Midweek Meeting—Assigned Bible reading: Numbers 22-24

Finally Jehovah caused the donkey to speak: “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?...Am I not your donkey that you have ridden on all your life until today? Have I ever treated you this way before?” He has a point.

Someone said how there is free will, yet God “notices” when Balaam tries to act the way his will clearly is.

These are verses as though prophets almost come under a spell. I mean, Balaam doesn’t want to bless anyone. He wants to curse them. But his own words outmaneuver him each time.

It IS a little awkward getting the other person to read out loud. I always say it helps me to follow along.

Jade said she wasn’t about church, so maybe someone might thing a Bible verse wouldn’t wash. But she did say she was about promises.

Bandwidth problems! The internet crashes just before my wife’s student talk! It is restored, just in the nick of time—via someone else texting the conductor to wait a few seconds. Then turned to a hotspot.

When you are in prison, it is more about Jehovah helping you to keep positive outlook and find joy. The more we concentrate on what we had before, the more we suffer. The quicker we accept our new circumstances, the quicker our joy returns to us, along with the opportunity to make good use of the new circumstances.

Someone said the video is not meant to scare, but “it is just reality.”

“I heard how everyone came to meet you. I tried to imaging how cool it is to be loved, valued, and missed. For some, there is not enough of that in life. Take care of yourself, Dima.”

A sister with a checkered dress is sitting on a checkered cloth chair. It’s a good thing she is wearing a sweater to tell where one leaves off and the other begins.

“Do not put your trust in princes Nor in a son of man, who cannot bring salvation. His spirit goes out, he returns to the ground; On that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is the one who has the God of Jacob as his helper,” (psalm 146:3-4)

On the picture, someone says it is not one party vs another. It is all human government vs God’s Kingdom government.

What was the overall theme tonight? Wasn’t it that Jehohah’s will stands, despite opposition from —count em—Batak, Moab, Ammon, Nazi Germany, Russia, Egypt, Tyre—different examples appeared though the night.

A visitor recognized a few in the congregation. Big response when she did. Catching up on things before all in the breakout room. “How’s you mom?” “She died 5 years ago.”

The elderly sister whose grandson bought hives last year, which survived the winter, said—and I don’t think it was intentional—that “he’s buzzing all around here.”






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Taughannock Man, a Day at Taughannock Falls—With Special Guest Appearance by Bob Dylan

“It was a horrible, nasty, vicious piece of work,” hissed Andy Currant about Piltdown Man. But the reason it was horrible, nasty, and vicious is that it made his revered heroes look like fools. Had it been his enemies made to look foolish, he’d be singing its praises to this day, most likely. Scientists steeped in evolutionary thinking confirmed the prehistoric man was genuine. The fraud remained undetected for 40 years.

However, what is truly a horrible, nasty, and vicious piece of work is that nobody told me such dupes were to be found much closer to home—at nearby Cornell University. It took a trip to Taughannock Falls to break free from the blinders they’d all tried to fit me with. In 1879, local scientists, steeped in evolutionary thinking, had chipped a few small pieces loose from “Taughannock Man,” unearthed in by workmen widening a driveway, and had upon analysis declared the petrified man authentic. But it wasn’t authentic. It had been (literally) cooked up just weeks before in a local mechanic’s establishment, and was made of stone dust, eggs, minerals, iron filings and beef blood.

It had then been slipped in sideways though a tunnel. Tree limbs had been twisted about its neck, as though having grown there ages later. The dirt overhead, therefore, literally had been undisturbed for centuries, and this was among the circumstances that caused the Cornell experts to swoon that they, too, had discovered a prehistoric man—and right in their own back yard at that!


It took the cautious application of alcohol to uncover the ruse. Or maybe the incautious application of it. One of the local good ‘ol boys drank a little too much of it at the tavern and began boasting of how he and his chums had buried the stone giant just to fool the great men.

Fooling the great men does not appear to be the motivation, as it was with Piltdown Man in at least one of the several theories offered as to its creation. Taughannock Man was a straight-up publicity stunt, aimed to drum up business for the expanding Taughannock Hotel. That same year, its proprietor had hired a stuntman to tightrope-walk the adjacent gorge. It was a lavish hotel build next to lavish surroundings. Railroads dropped off visitors at the north and south ends of Cayuga Lake, steamboats took them to a landing point, and stagecoaches took them to the hotel, which—alas—burned to the ground in 1922. If there is one common feature of magnificent historical wood buildings, it is that they burn to the ground,

The main attraction of Taughannock State Park is Taughannock Falls. You can see it from the visitor center on the northern rim of the gorge (built upon the site of the old hotel—a display legend indicates the location of an excavated wall), but for best results, you hike the easy 3/4 mile trail up the gorge from the main park entrance. The cliff walls close in upon you from either side and in due course you are just before the falls and looking up, not down as you would be from the visitor center. The water drops 215 feet, making Taughonnock Falls the largest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. It drops further than Niagara Falls.



Besides the Park display legend, I found two other sources telling of the Taughannock Man hoax. One is a bland nostalgic piece from the Ithaca Times, gently chuckling at the outrageous old days that could never happen again because we are so much smarter. The other, from, leaves open the possibility that it could happen all over again because we are just as dumb as we have always been. The bland piece even seeks to cushion the great men from Cornell University, saying their analysis yielded “decidedly mixed results.” But the fingerlakes piece and the park legend both say that they swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

We are just as likely to fall for such pranks again—not the same ones, for we have been forewarned, and it will take a while for that forewarning to wear off—but different ones that we have not been (lately) forewarned against. Pride will blind us. Greed will blind us. Ideology will blind us. Some of today’s realities are yesterday’s conspiracy theories. Are we really to believe that none of today’s conspiracy theories will become tomorrow’s realities?

Gullibility is old and its not going away. Bob Brier, the Egyptologist, tells how pharaohs never recorded their defeats (so, of course, no one else dared to do so either). They only recorded their victories. He relates the exploits of one pharaoh who recorded victory after glorious victory! each one closer to his home base (because he was retreating).

With regard to the evolution theory, the Jehovah’s Witness organization appears to have no problem with “micro-evolution.” It is macro they choke on. Of course, they do not champion either, since that is neither their specialty nor mission, but micro, which is not all that different from animal husbandry, the stuff of what Darwin observed on the island, they can let stand without throwing stones at. It is the “kinds” of Genesis. They even invited Michael Behe over to talk shop.

Taughannock Man, along with the more famous Piltdown Man, is clearly macro. Piltdown is rightly more famous, because with it there was no town drunk to spill the beans within weeks, and the great men were fooled for forty years. However, in an effort to save face, they have declared that they were not fooled at all, they were not that dumb, that they smelled a rat almost from the beginning.

If so, this makes it worse. It replace gullible with fraud, for they said nothing about it. Moreover, it is contemptuous fraud, the sort that resorts to when reporting on Jehovah’s Witnesses, when whatever reporting they present takes place amidst of backdrop of religious crazies doing truly crazy, bizarre, pugilistic, cultish things that have nothing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses, as anyone who knows the slightest bit about them will instantly attest. (chapter 13 of this work)  In the case of the evolutionist fraudsters, it is: “Tell the dummies anything you must to keep them on board—who cares if it is true or not.”

Thus it becomes necessary, as it so often is with me, to bring in Bob Dylan with what started as a joke. Explaining a metaphor to Evo-Ann that any child would instantly understand, it reached the point of my posting a tree fallen across the road with the comment that it was blocking “Evolution Row.”


Sometimes something gets in your head and you knock it around a bit and come up with more. “Evolution Row” is actually not a bad interpretation of the song “Desolation Row.” Take this portion:

At midnight all the agents and the superhuman crew

Come out and round up everyone that knows more than they do

Then they bring them to the factory where the heart-attack machine

Is strapped across their shoulders and then the kerosene

Is brought down from the castles by insurance men who go

Check to see that nobody is escaping to Desolation Row.

Anyone familiar with the Bible, as Dylan is—he did a stint as a born-again Christian; listen to Slow Train Coming, for example, and you’ll see he is thoroughly familiar with scripture—will know who is “all the agents and the superhuman crew.”

At the darkest time, they round up everyone “who knows more than they do.” Well, nobody knows more than does the “superhuman crew,” so it must be a reference to those who think that they they know more than others, who think that are very smart indeed, and that take great pleasure in parading their knowledge before everyone else, quick to disparage anyone in their path, ones who don’t suffer fools gladly—and a fool is anyone who disagrees with them.

Despite their self-heralded knowledge, they are “rounded up” and processed, as though in a “factory.” The knowledge that they take such pride in is nevertheless death-dealing, like a “heart attack machine strapped across their shoulders,” with “kerosene” thrown in for good measure. 

Despite their knowledge being death-dealing—settling for a few dozen years lifespan at best and then eternal blackness—nobody must escape this tripe. “Insurance men” see to it. Nobody will escape from Evolution Row. (Dylan actually wrote “to Desolation Row,” not “from Desolation Row,” but it was probably a typo and I will set him straight when I see him next.) Let us not forget that the evolution teaching (in its full measure—not counting the intelligent design variety) is desolation to the Bible based hope of living forever on a paradise earth.

No, I don’t really think Dylan had that in mind. Other stanzas don’t so readily lend themselves to that interpretation. But it’s not a bad interpretation all the same. Dylan often writes in a stream of consciousness and doesn’t necessarily have any underlying message. It’s like decrypting Kafka. The tone is distinct, but the underlying words can be taken any number of ways. He is not inclined to pose as a great man with deep underlying meanings he is cryptically recording for all of humanity if they can but prove their worth by unraveling the message. Naw. He describes himself more like a modern Aaron, who throws stuff into the fire and “out came this calf.” (Exodus 32:24)

To see the Taughannock Giant, if your interest is peaked, you might think you could find it somewhere within Cornell, since it plays a part in that university’s history, even if an inglorious one. However, they red-facededly want nothing to do with it. The baked giant can be seen at the History Center of Tompkins County. Docents there probably retrieved it from Cornell’s dumpster.

******  The bookstore


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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 9

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking. AI screwups corrected in brackets

For continuity, start with Part 1:

Queen heavy [Hatshepsut—I’ll render it right from now on] . 12 years old, royal blood. The one who married her, Todd most the second, [Thutmosis II—I’ll do this right as well, and even the other names] reigns as king for 20 years. Then talk most third [Thutmosis III—sorry] rains. [reigns]

Eventually, Hatshepsut herself begins to rain [reign] not as queen, but as king. Where’s [Wears] the false beard of authority, the hieroglyphic on her to him [tomb] reveals. Tied the beard on with chin straps.

The tallest obelisk still standing in Egypt, go to car next [Karnak] temple to see them. Hatshepsut  has them in hieroglyphic on her tomb. They weighed 250 tons. Transported by 27 barges on the Nile, quarried and S one.

The Pharaoh was always associated with Forrest [Horus], the falcon God. Hatshepsut was the female falcon. Ruled as a king, but did not hide that she was a woman.

Did Hatshepsut usurp the throne from her stepson?

The theory goes that she did, and upon her death, the stepson ruled again, became very great, and in anger he raised [erased] her name from her own tomb, substituting he, his father, and his brother.

Bob Hatshepsut doesn’t buy the theory. Had her name was a raced, [erased] but not till 20 years after the stepson began raining. [reigning] Maybe they just wanted to erase traces of a woman raining. [reigning]

Send bought [Senemut] appears, after Hatshepsut becomes a widow. Very close, were they lovers? A successful commoner, with many titles, overweight, which was a good thing in Egypt, Bob says. It means you could eat.

A pornographic relief suggest that people were talking, the workmen on break from sun, in another cool tomb, produce a porn drawing of the two carrying on. Bob describes it. Will I, on this family blog? No

Look on the kings list and you will not findHatshepsut. All traces of her erased. Maybe to cover up that one of the kings was a woman?

End of lecture 17 on Hatshepsut. Start lecture 18, on obelisk.

Obelisk comes from the Greek word for meat skewer! That’s how it gets its name.

Heliopolis, Helio, son, polis, city, is the same as the biblical On. The most obelisk ever in that city, today there is but one. And one more, if you count the one of heavy, which is wild

Here Bob defines electrons, [electrum] used in the obelisk. I read it so often in the Bible. Not quite knowing what it is, it is a mixture of gold and silver.

Now Bob  Brier will discuss how to quarry and erect and obelisk. Start with granite. Aswan granite, at Egypt’s southern border.

How big were they? And unfinished one atS one [atd Aswan] weighs over 1000 tons. As big as two jumbo jets

Pounding out the obelisk, with dolomite balls, keep dropping them and they eventually chip away, it is a job probably reserved for prisoners, Bob Brier says. He’s pretty sure no one wanted the job.

Bob has used these balls. Hard work. Your lungs were filled with granite dust. And then swinging them sideways to pound out caves, so as to separate the obelisk from the earth.

Put on rollers roll to barges float them down the Nile. I don’t know. I suppose, but it’s a lot of work. No Egyptian records of this, by the way. No papyri. It is all the speculation of later historians.

After slanting it on a ramp, tie ropes to the top and pull it with “lots of guys“ to get it upright.

Now I recall the objections to theories of building the pyramids. They mostly revolve around physics, moving that much mass. Ramps supposedly would crumble under the weight. ...1/2

Nor could that weight be pushed up ramps by sheer manpower. No matter how many guys. Don’t know if Bob will come back to this topic. Maybe he has already dealt with it...2/2

Trivia question: what city in the world has more obelisks than any other? Rome. 13. Augustus moved two obelisks from Heliopolis in 10 BC.

What holds them in place? Gravity alone, Bob Brier says.

Paris has an obelisk, a gift, give it an 1830. England has two, in London, in 1877. One of them was lost at sea. Another vessel came along and claimed that, then negotiated its return. 

Bob says if he could make a feature movie, it would be the one of the obelisk coming to New York. After London got theirs, New York said they needed one too. William Vanderbilt paid for it. “Go orange [Gorringe] was a really cool guy“ says Bob Breir of the one put in charge of transport. Tons of obstacles, And he overcame them all.

Gorringe bought a transport ship cheap from the bank robbed [bankrupted] Egyptian post office, opened it up, rolled the obelisk onboard over cannonballs, contended with alcoholic Yugoslav crew.

Sailed to New York. Refused to pay outrageous landing they demanded, landed at 96 street. Transported the obelisk to Central Park, made just a block all day. Bob Brier wishes he was a kid at that time, to see it.

Bob says you should go to New York and see it in Central Park. It’s right behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gorringe wrote a book about his exploits. Should I seek it out?

Bob thanks I will list [obelisks] are just as great achievement as the pyramids, but in a different way.


Go to Part 10

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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 11

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking. AI screwups corrected in brackets

For continuity, start with Part 1:

Note: I began to regret subecting followers to so many AI butchered tweets. They’re not tweets anymore. They are dictated into the Notes app instead, and packaged later for the blog.

Akhenaten, the sun [son] never mentioned who becomes king, overturns the military the role of the feral [pharaoh], and religion. Egypt is the most conservative country in the history of the world. You weren’t supposed to change anything.

He is at first Amenhotep IV, named after his dad. He hasn’t changed his name yet

Year five he changes his name to, Akhenaten.

He says, there is only one God, the Atem. The first instance of monotheism. Moses is yet far off in the future. Shaking things up in Egypt, Bob says, all the nations were polytheistic. So had Egypt always been.

When the kids see Athenaten’s huge statues, 18 feet high, in the Cairo museum, they almost always say: what’s wrong with him? It is as though he is deformed somehow, Bob says.

Going into a Egyptian temple is a spiritual experience, Bob says. The floor ramps up, the ceiling ramps down, so you get the feeling you are going into a sacred area. Then the most holy, where the gods are stored.

But with Athenatem’s temple, it is different. Open areas.

Think if you are a priest of another god. You are shut down. Major disruption of society. Bob says. What does that recall about Artimus of the Ephesians?

People could not have been happy, Bob says. Think about the old people, how difficult it is for them to change.

Athenatem builds a new capital, 200 miles to the north of thieves. [Thebes] “It’s not unlike Brigham Young leading the Mormons“.

He thinks the people that moved with him were “like the communes of the 1960s.” People who really didn’t fit in, who had no stake in the status quo. Athenatem moved because his radical one-god was too radical for society, so we had to build his new city in the barren desert.

It’s one theory. Bob likes it. It’s his. Whenever Egyptologist get together, he says the burning question is among them: whatever  to Athenatem? What’s the deal with him?

It was a cult, Bob says. “But think of it, the cult leader was the feral [pharaoh]!“ He can’t possibly know this. It’s just speculation with him. But he says it with conviction. And it makes sense to hear him tell it.

His city means: ‘the horizon of the solar disc.’

Athenatem gives his own “sermon on the mount“ at his holy city. He says: the Atem showed me this place. It’s difficult to get there, Bob says, there are fundamentalists everywhere, as if taking for granted that they are a nuisance.

Athenatem also decrees that there will be no images of the sun disc god. Bob has been to a hotel in the area. When he looked out his window, he says he saw the same site that Athenatem‘s hieroglyphs says the ancient King Saul [saw]. He’s as excited as a kid to tell this.

Egyptologist aren’t even sure there was a belief in the afterlife during this period. Bob says “I wish I had a Charlton Heston voice“ as he recites one of Athenatem‘s  palms “the him to the bottom”. [pslams, the hymn to the Aten] He wrote some pretty good poems of devotion.

The sun disc is an abstract god. He is a god of all the peoples not just the Egyptian’s, all of them. Bob says it was even a religion of loveAnd Vikings [love and likens] Athenatem to a flower child. Look, I’m going to say it. Does this somehow tie in with the God of the Bible? Are they somehow confused with each other here?

There are complaints. Letters of complaint to Athenatem. Egypt is no longer respected, send the army. Which complaints Athenatem seems to ignore, as though he doesn’t really care about the material things. Then he dies in his 17th year. No record of his death, just nothing recorded afterwards.

Some people view him as a loser. Bob Brier doesn’t view him that way. The Egyptians are all his children. He loves them all.

Lecture 22. The discovery of Tutenthamen’s tomb. Most archaeologist would agree that he is the son of Athenatem. This lecture will be about how one goes about discovering at home.[a tomb]

Since chipping a tomb out of one of the walls of the valley of the Kings would leave a lot of limestone chips that workmen wouldn’t want to carry far because they were so heavy, one archaeologist figured if you see large piles of chips, a tomb cannot be far away. Tombs have been discovered that way. 

There is graffiti painted on the dorms [tombs] from ancient Greek tourists. One message says: “I was here and I wasn’t impressed“.

I think Bob Brier is the only Great Courses instructor I have heard, or there’s not many of them, who never refers to “his students.“ It’s usually innocent when they do that, but they can smack of being pretentious, as in “I have students, but you don’t.” Bob never does that.He does say “guys” all the time, I have never heard anyone use that word more. Can you tell he is from the Bronx?

Now the story of Howard Carter, who found Tutenthamen‘s tomb. Son of a painter who used to paint pets for rich people. And Howard came along as a boy. One rich client was an Egyptologist and sent Howard to Egypt as a good artist who, because he was low class, Wouldn’t demand much, but would do good work.  He rolls [rose] in the ranks, he caught a tomb thief, but he later was fired when he backed up an Egyptian guard who said no to some drunken French tourist. The PR people wanted him to lean on the guard to apologize to the drunken French. He said no. They fired him. 

A super rich British tourist, recovering from an auto accident, the first one in history, Bob says, developed a passion for Egyptology.


He hires Howard, then existing barely by selling paintings of pyramids.

After some years excavating, he wants to give up. Howard urges him to give him one more year, he finds the tomb in that year. Does it remind you of the vinedresser asking to dig around and put manure for just one more season before the master rips out the grapes?

Didn’t work for the vinedresser, but it did for Howard.

Then he went on to tell this illustration: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the vinedresser, ‘Here it is three years that I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, but have found none. Cut it down! Why really should it keep the ground useless?’  In reply he said to him, ‘Master, let it alone also this year, until I dig around it and put on manure;  and if then it produces fruit in the future, [well and good]; but if not, you shall cut it down. (Luke 13: 6-9)

He excavated the tomb in 1922, the inner burial chamber in 1923. He found coffins. The inner coffin made of pure gold. 250 pounds.

But he was known to say “Tutankhamen has eluded me.” He found the mummy, Thousands of objects, no expense spared,but no papyrus as to who Tutankhamen was, where he came from. To this day, Egyptologist debate his lineage.

Go to Part 12

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of April 12, 2021

Okay, we shall soon start with the witticisms that since the circuit overseer was with us last week but as moved on to the next congregation....

that means today’s Watchtower Study directed towards wives will be full-strength one hour, whereas last week’s directed towards husbands was diluted by half to give the CO time to speak.

That’s okay, because the men don’t need it anyway.

But pity the poor congregation with the circuit overseer this week! Vital counsel for the women will be cut in half! Whereas completely unnecessary counsel for the men was applied full strength the previous week.

And—let us give credit to David, (and maybe make it hot for him with his wife) that, whereas ‘mental,’ as in ‘mental turmoil’ starts with MEN, ‘maladies’ starts with MA (who are always women) AND ‘LADIES.’


Weekend Meeting:

Oh dear. The public speaker opened his talk by not unmuting himself.

Who is the 2nd oldest person in the Bible? Is is Jerrod? Or did the speaker just happen to mention him next in the examples that started with Methusaleh?

Caught my wife multi-tasking. It is not only me. She just dashed off a Get Well card to the 30-year-old sister who just had her tonsils removed. I had mine out long before then. But I guess you don’t have it done unless need be. What are those things for anyway? Illness-control?

It is a very competent public talk, given by a respected workhorse in the circuit. But it is also the old of Matthew 13:52: “Every public instructor, when taught respecting the kingdom of the heavens, is like a man ... who brings out of his treasure store things new and old.”

“While you throw all your anxiety on him” The speaker identifies this very as “very easy to say, very difficult to do.” My wife reminds me that he lost his son to death a few years ago. “The things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting.”

Watchtower Study:

My wife just messed me up on the song, singing not the words that are there but the words that used to be there. “That woman you gave me....”

Whoa! My wife gave the very first comment and it was an implicit endorsement of ME. Now, aren’t I ashamed of myself for saying how she messed up my singing?

The elderly sister who, if anyone did, had a perfect marriage before her husband dies, just commented on the paragraph of how there is no perfect marriage because the two partners are imperfect.

Now the paragraph of Marisol, from the United States, who says “women were constantly told that they must be equal to men in everything.” Next the one of a developing nation, who says women a treated very much as second-class citizens.

It gets worse. One sister, the vet, tells of how in some lands female babies are aborted. In another, since they are thought to arouse “evil thoughts in men,” they must cover up head to toe, so “it gets pretty extreme,” she says.

Oh no! My wife took a bite from her unfinished breakfast in the background, with back to Zoom audience. She forgot the video always watches. It looks like I am making her take a time-out.

One sister quotes the saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff” as a way of dealing with issues in a marriage.

Submissiveness is a tough sell, yet the Bible recommends it for women (the focus of today) but also men, also cong members in general, also elders, also Jesus. Much emphasis on how ones “choose” to be submissive. They could choose otherwise, but they don’t.

“My goal is to forgive freely, as Jehovah does,” someone says.

Comment made on Proverbs 31 and how the household is “her household.” Micromanaging men on a power trip more often than not simply mess things up.

The brother who likes to explain things just commented.

Uh oh. Now the paragraph about Abigail, whose husband Nabal was a “good-for-nothing man.” Just what DO you do with a good-for-nothing man?

Oh no! A sister just mentioned how Nabel was a “Calebite”—it’s in the footnote. But she pronounced it more like ‘celebate’ and in her nervousness she jumbled it, my wife did a double-take, because it sounded a little like “sonuvab*tch!”

And the thing is, barring the crude word, that would have been a very accurate comment!

“What can wives learn from Abigail’s example?” is the paragraph 18 question. Will anyone say, “See if you can get David not to kill your worthless husband.”

One brother came pretty close, saying what his wife had said to him, but not the whole congregation. He said it himself: “That God rewarded her by having her no-good husband die.”

“Not looking for any unscriptural solutions,” the serious-minded Watchtower conductor adds.

In the breakout rooms after the meeting, one sister says how she might go fishing today since she still have minnows. It is a beautiful sunny day. Several have commented on the birds just outside their windows.

Now talk in the breakout room turns to how and where to get a fishing license. “Do seniors get a break?” the retired brother says. For crying out loud, it only cost $23!

Midweek Meeting: Bible Reading: Numbers 20-21

You know, I’ve never thought of this but...Moses did lose his life on account of the people. Jesus did lose his life on account of the people. Jesus is the ‘greater Moses’

Okay, okay, so Jesus didn’t pop off at the mouth, Still, what Moses did wasn’t THATbad.

If the circuit overseer gives a great talk and you say afterwards, “Great talk!” he will murmur something modest about how it is not really he, but Jehovah. He will do this even though he is perfectly capable, after all these years, of giving a great talk whether Jehovah ...1/2

is around or not. So how does it play, then, when the man Moses takes full credit for what no human in 1000 years would be able to do?...(Numbers 20:12)...2/2

Someone related how Moses’ sister Miriam died, yet there is no indication that the Israelites gave a hoot—they just kept bellyaching about their problems—and maybe if they had, Moses wouldn’t have lit into them as he later did. (Numbers 20: 1-12) #midweekmeetings

“Good job!” said my wife, after one student was counseled and didn’t get an automatic ‘G’ “I’d beat him up if he said that to me,” I answered her. (It was just for her sake. I wouldn’t really)

Another Zoom householder breathless with appreciative excitement at the prospect of another Bible discussion, just like they are in real life.

‘How can I control my temper?’ is the theme. For some reason the speaker cannot unmute and must switch devises with his wife, to sounds of audio feedback. That he kept his cool means an automatic G in my eyes—I don’t care what the counselor says.

“Even when people are rude, there’s usually an explanation,” the speaker says. “Yeah—like they’re jerks,” I tell my wife. He may even have shortened his talk to make up for the blown time—a real mark of a pro, if so.

“I embarrassed my wife tonight...I knew in my heart she was right.” Confessions of a bellyacher. “Rotten words are as disgusting as rotten food.”

Standing up to peer pressure.” “Kind of like being a puppet with your friends pulling the strings. I love these whiteboards. Sometimes at the door I would play the one on being social network smart. I’ve never had one young person not watch to the end.

Whoa! One part conductor has a blue background. Virtual or real—dunno. What I do know is that last week it was the pipes and washer/dryer in his basement.

“What lessons can we learn from Israel’s dealings with the Philistines? Jehovah’s modern-day people have faced opposition from some of the most powerful nations ever to dominate mankind...1/2

the enemies of pure worship may at times seem to prevail” Yeah, I can think of an example right now....2/2

Someone else—wasn’t me—mentioned ‘Operation North’—the 1949 deportation of almost 10K Russian JWs to Siberia. Quoted from the article. Even went over the 30 second limit!

“Should these events cause us to give in to fear or to lose faith? No! Jehovah will preserve his loyal people.” Matthew 10:28-31 quoted: “And do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, fear him who can destroy both soul and body ...1/2

in in Gehenna. Two sparrows sell for a coin of small value, do they not? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. So have no fear; you are worth more than many sparrows.”...2/2

One sister chimes in with Joel 3:4: “Also, what do you have against me, O Tyre and Siʹdon and all the regions of Phi·lisʹti·a? Are you repaying me for something? If you are repaying me, I will swiftly, speedily bring your repayment on your heads.”

“My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them everlasting life, and they will by no means ever be destroyed, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is something greater than all other things, ...1/2

and no one can snatch them out of the hand of the Father,” says Jesus at John 10_27-29)...2/2


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Mathematics and Everything—From Hannah Fry to Stephen Fry—Part 1

I see one of those mathematics shows trying to make me mad is coming up on PBS. Subject: Is math discovered? Or is it invented? The show is hosted by Hannah Fry. It is entitled: Magic Numbers. “Look hard enough at anything, mathematics is lying beneath,” she says. “Is math all in our heads, invented? Or is it an eternal physical reality, something existing out there, waiting to be discovered.”

Now, can a guy be forgiven for thinking that a dumb question? E=mc2, for example. Why should it be that way? Why should it be writable in such a simple way? Why shouldn’t it be a hopeless hodgepodge? I mean, just try writing the formula for this:


Mathematics is the alphabet with which God has written the universe,” said Galileo. Duh. It all reduces to usually very compact math.

But along come others to say that mathematics is not discovered at all. It is invented. The learned one fuss and fret, tossing away one measure that doesn’t work after another, till they finally find something that does work to describe something. You mean that there were a few thousand wanna-be Galileos describing gravity in all sorts of harebrained ways, until the master himself came along and found a way to reduce it all to a few letters and numbers?

Something about this “dissident” (which is now the mainstream) view reminds me of Larry King telling how it was with 7-Up. The soft drink was wildly successful—but only after the inventor flopped with 1-Up, 2-Up, 3-Up, 4-Up, 5-Up, and 6-Up..

So I’m in the mood to be surly. All I can say is that Paul Halpern had better stay on the right side of this. He may. He is a scientist, which is fine. He doesn’t extend it (so far as I know) to scientist-philosopher-cheerleader-atheist, which is not so fine. I am embarrassed to say I have not yet read his Synchronicity (which title implies he is not in the latter category), but I mean to. It’s on the list.

I did start to review his 2019 book, The Universe Speaks in Numbers, only it turned out to be not his book. It was from Graham Farmelo! Paul let me tweet on for quite some time before he said, “Um, you know, you’ve got the wrong guy. Graham’s a good writer, but he’s not me.” I was following them both on Twitter and I got them mixed up!

I had also almost reviewed Morris Kline’s 1985 book Mathematics and the Search for Knowledge. Alas, both reviews are still on the drawing board, and may never get off it (unless they do so right now. Alas, I can no longer find my Farmelo notes—it drives me nuts!) Kline offers gems like: “The work of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and most eighteenth-century mathematicians was...a religious quest. The search for the mathematical laws of nature was an act of devolution that would reveal the glory and grandeur of His handiwork.”

It works for me. But it wasn’t until the second, or maybe even third, reading, that I realized Kline himself doesn’t buy that view. He sides with the inventors, not the discoverers! Is that what is called “confirmation bias” that I had not noticed it before?

“Each discovery of a law of nature was hailed as evidence of God’s brilliance rather that that of the investigator,” he writes, and I should have noticed in the phrasing that Kline seems to think it wrong that it should be that way. Newton, Galileo, Kepler, and others took for granted that it was right to credit God’s brilliance rather than their own. Is it a mark of moderns that they want the credit?

Regarding a contribution of Faraday, Kline writes, “It may be too much to expect that . . . the function sine x should serve. Yet nature never ceases to accommodate itself to man’s mathematics.” Is it only me who draws the parallel of the would-be tourist who envisions paradisiac scenes of Tahiti, then goes and finds such a place, and says, “nature never ceases to accommodate itself to man’s daydreaming!” I mean, what is wrong with people? He saw Tahiti on the brochures—then he went and discovered it.

Kline elaborates: “If math is discovered, not invented, then it must exist somewhere. Where? Would not the plain answer be in the mind of God a la Galileo—god wrote the universe in the language of mathematics. But what if one does not believe in God?”

Well, I would say in that event that nature has provided a fine reason to reconsider, but if you don’t want to believe in God, you don’t want to believe in God. Kline is not so easily dissuaded.

Kline says: “Whereas until around 1850, mathematical order and harmony were believed to be inherent in the design of the universe and mathematicians strove to uncover that design, the newer view, forced on mathematicians by their own creations, is that they are the legislators who decide what the laws of the universe should be. They impose whatever plan or order succeeds in describing restricted classes of phenomena that for inexplicable reasons continue to obey the laws.”

Nah, I don’t buy it. But you might buy it if you think the “inexplicable reasons” is just “one of those things” and it doesn’t otherwise get under your skin.

“Does this last fact mean that there is an ultimate law and order that mathematicians approximate more and more successfully? There is no answer to this, but at the very least, faith in mathematical design had to be replaced by doubt,” Kline says. Is it, “There is no answer to that?” Or is it, “There is no answer that I accept to that?”

Ultimately, is it not other factors, not mathematical at all, that determine whether that “doubt” becomes “conviction?”

“Yet what of the calamities of nature-earthquakes, meteorites striking the Earth, volcanoes, plagues-the unanswered questions of cosmogony, and our ignorance of what lies beyond our ken in our own galaxy, to say nothing of other problems facing humanity, do these not deny any likelihood of ultimate order?” Note that having or not having an answer to the problem of suffering and evil influences one’s assessment of the power of mathematics. The “other problems facing humanity”—problems that he has no answer for—bother Kline. And the only reason earthquakes, meteorites striking earth, and volcanoes registers on his scale is that they cause additional “problems facing humanity.” So it all boils down to: Why is there suffering and evil?

Hannah’s Fry’s kin, fellow Brit Stephen Fry, comedian, is also obsessed with this question. Only they are not kin, but upon doing an online search, I found I was not the only person to speculate they were. Nah, there’s no relation, the fact-check site told me—they don’t even follow each other on social media. But they both in a roundabout way (Fry, through her fellow mathematician Kline) settle into the same question: Why would a supposed God of love permit evil and suffering?

Stephen Fry does more than “settle into” it. He rams it headlong, like one of those horned animals ramming his fellow on Nature just to prove ‘Who’s the man?’ He rams it so forcefully that he triggers violation of the since-repealed Irish Blasphemy law. He figures (not unreasonably) that if an answer exists to evil and suffering, the self-proclaimed experts of the clergy will have it. Since they merely issue such pablum as “God works in mysterious ways,” he erupts into fury.

“Why should I respect a mean-spirited, capricious, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain?....Bone cancer in children, what’s that about? How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. . . . Because the god who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish.”

I develop this topic at some length in the “Fake News” chapter of I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses —Searching for the Why. After all, “Why so Much Suffering?” is a chapter title of their basic Bible teaching book, and has been dealt with in more or less identical words throughout the Witnesses’ history. But the Witnesses stand for the “wisdom that cries out in the street” of Proverbs 1:20. “Hogwash!” the world thinkers are inclined to say. “It cries out from the quadrangles. Only ignoramuses are to be found in the street,”

See Part 2

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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 10

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking. AI screwups corrected in brackets

For continuity, start with Part 1:

Peace was not a virtual [virtue] in Egypt, says Bob Brier, war wars [was]. You were supposed to send an army into faraway places, conquer, and take back to Egypt everything that “wasn’t nailed down.”

King Tuthmosis III, was he off in military training while his stepmom ruled? That’s what Brier thanks [thinks], but other Egyptologist think he was just shoved aside, maybe jailed, while his mom ruled.

Now comes a discussion of the military. The chariot required three types of ward [wood], yes [ash] or something flyable [pliable] for the wheels, somethings heavy for the axle, like oak.

They broke a lot. It means traveling are made [armies] needed lots of carpenters. One guy driving on a platform, the other guy shooting from the platform. “High maintenance vehicles” Bob Brier calls them. I love that verse of Jehovah taking the wheels off the chariots as told in Exodus. Ha. As

The king would ride right up front, calling the shots. Year two of Todd Moss soul rain, [Tuthmosis’ reign] he leads into Megiddo, in Syrian Palestine. Is this the material [Megiddo] of the Bible? I think so.

Three routes into Megiddo. Two are flat and open. One is in a valley. Against common wisdom and military strategy, Tuthmosis takes the valley. He surprises the enemy, who expected him to take another way, and routes [routs] them completely.

However, distracted by taking spoil, the defeated army gets away “Because the men plundered, we had two siege this city for seven months,” the record reads.

The hut is covered, so when guys on the top are throwing down rocks, it won’t hit those under the hut. So Bob describes the rudimentary tank that Egyptian’s invented, guys underneath the hut carrying battering rams, tanked pushed or pulled by guys. (or animals?)

For the next 18 years, he marches forth to Syria every year. Why?

It is their religion that causes a constant state of war. Egyptians did not colonize. You did not want to die outside of Egypt, where you would have no one to embalm you, not be buried in sacred soil, and so would lose your chance at immortality. No one wanted to live outside Egypt.

So you conquer, tell them to send tribute. Send so much of this, so much gold, so much of that. But you’ve been gone for a year. They forget. So you have to go back, “beat them up,” and remind them.

Bob Brier is from New York, he says. So that means he knows nothing about flowers. But when Tuthmosis returns from Syria he has the flowers he’s seen painted on the walls at Karnak temple. They’re not very good drawings, Egyptologists tell Bob, who wouldn’t know otherwise.

So was he an amateur botanist?

Now a discussion of Tuthmosis,burial in the valley of the Kings. Found high up along the far boundary, after tombs of Tuth 1, II, and Queen Hapshepsut. For the first time. I begin to think it would be neat to visit that valley of the Kings.

He is “the greatest feral [pharaoh] who ever lead an army, by far“. “And they had some great ones,“ says Bob as though telling of his favorite children. You can visit Tuthmosis’ tomb, a metal walkway takes you to the entrance, because the stone steps were chiseled away, probably to protect the tomb from grave robbers.

Lecture 20 begins. The fabulous 18th dynasty rolls on. “It just gets better,” says Bob Brier. Two really good ferrules [pharoahs], and one incredible one, follow Tuthmosis III.

Four kings in a row, each reigning about 30 years. A sure sign of stability.

Big bureaucracy in Egypt, Bob says “not unlike Washington DC”. “Guys keeping track of things, guys checking on each other.” All the taxes had to be kept track of. Bob is from the Bronx. They are all “guys” to him.

Two capitals. Thebes as the religious center, and 500 miles to the north, Memphis is the administrative center.

Amenhotep III invents the first telegrams. Commemorative scarabs. One presents his commoner wife Tiye, and says you’d better respect her. Another tells of his hunting prowess. Bagged 56 bowls [bulls] in a day.

He has a name for the boat he has built his wife Tiye. It is “The Atem Gleams. A trivia question to remember for a future lecture, Bob Brier says.

Amenhotep is a builder. He builds Thebes, or Luxor, is responsible for its modern skyline, Bob says. It is the first time I’ve heard of the Luxor Temple. Luxor is one of the cheaper hotels in the game Acquire. I used to love that game. I still do enjoy it, but there are not many who play. It’s been superseded by other games, Scrabble of course, but these days also Splendor, which is shorter, and less potentially frustrating.


And Acquire has an odd attribute—that you can think your playing well right up to the end, only to find you’ve lost. Conversely, you may think you are losing, only to find you have won. But with that caveat, it still is fun.

Amenhotep settles in Thebes. His predecessors had been in Memphis. Is he getting religious in his older years. Or likes the warmer climate for this old bones. “People go to Florida,” Bob says. Maybe Amemhotep did the same.

Amenhotep III takes his 2nd son (the first died) with Great Wife Tiye as “coregent.” Bob Brier has seen mummy with its teeth. They are so bad he thinks the guy must have been in constant pain,maybe even sedated & needed a co-regent to hold down the fort.

This second son, who wasn’t supposed to be king, “turns Egypt upside down.”

And just now—as this story is being written—comes the discovery of ancient Luxor. Said to be the biggest news since Tutankhamen’s tomb.

(Inspired by Bob, I broke out the Acquire game board the other day—I hadn’t played it in years. My opponent hadn’t played it in even longer. I am happy to report that I won. Luxor was a hotel chain in which I held majority share. I merged it into Tower, in which I also held majority share.)


Go to Part 11

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