Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, February 18, 2019

The brewing fight between the president and Congress will only strengthen the executive office. Even if a toned-down compromise is reached after a Supreme Court review, whatever the president would get out of it would be more power than he had clarified to him without the lawsuit. In the future, if Anti-Trumpists were to riot again as they have elsewhere, Trump may be able to take executive action against the riots—but having cried, "Wolf!" one too many times, the Left might have no powers left to stop him.

Building the national emergency declaration from components used by Obama serves two purposes. Firstly, and more obviously, are the optics. By opposing Trump's declaration, opponents would be opposing Obama. But, that is mere optics, no matter how much hypocrisy it may demonstrate. Secondly, and far more importantly, court orders that restrict Trump's declaration would need to tread carefully in dissent because any dissent against Trump could be used as a precedent to reverse or even take settlement-seeking action against Obama's executive work in the past. Suing Trump for this order could unwittingly become an attack against Obama from his own supporters.

Russianewsgategate is imploding quietly, as was entirely foreseeable—and social media giants along with it. With Google having shown Taiwanese military secrets to the world, heavy regulation could come faster than thought, but that's where matters in Asia and America meet in these Pacific times.

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Letters

New Respect for the Word of God


I used to proudly and unquestioningly hold to a particular standard of belief that I now find myself questioning.  Some will likely call me a heretic for this. Heck, back then, I would have called these questions heretical!

The reason for questioning is simple: I live in the 21stcentury, among a highly industrialized, aggressively secular global community. I don’t live among a first century community of farmers in a religiously-dominated culture, or among a bronze-age nomadic society. I marvel that I didn’t catch this sooner.  

And with this in mind, I’ve found myself concluding that “the most literal translation” of the Bible won’t actually be helpful to me. So I’ve abandoned my search for the most literal translation of the Scriptures for several reasons:

• The original texts of the Bible are full of stories, parables and metaphors: it wasn’t actually written for literal interpretation. Looking for “the most literal” translation strikes me as fundamentally contrary to the writing styles and methods of the Biblical authors.

• In order to have an effective, “literal”, word-for-word translation of the Bible, we need to have an equivalent English word – and ONLY one English word – for every Hebrew or Greek or Aramaic word of the original texts. And we aren’t even close to that. These languages are completely different from their roots up.

• Literal communication of agrarian metaphors and religious allusion don’t translate well (if at all) into the Information Age. The ideas are valuable, but we need to translate the metaphors, either during the translation to English, or during my reading of the English translation. Knowledge of grafting grapevines, for example, is not prevalent in my world.

• There really is at least a measure of truth behind the principle that as years go by, both the skills and the resources for Bible translation advance. Therefore, all else being equal, there is real reason to expect that more modern translations will ultimately capture the heart of the Scriptures better than earlier versions.

• I don’t actually need divine wisdom for dealing with slavery, temple prostitution, arranged marriages, leprosy, and other topics that the Bible did deal with literally. But there are principles that, if I consider them metaphorically, have application to my Facebook interactions and my driving habits.

• My other challenge is that I no longer am as interested in the (admittedly priceless) words of famous first-century (or much earlier!) followers of God. I’m actually more interested in hearing the Word of God Himself speaking to me through their words. [see John 1:1-2, Hebrews 4:12-13]

I still respect (and study and read) the NASB and NRSV and other word-for-word translations of the Bible. I value those translations, and I seriously respect their goals!

For the last 50 years or so, I’ve used my paper-and-ink Bibles very heavily, and worn them out regularly. So I’ve replaced my “primary” Bible pretty frequently. And curiously, I chose to get a different translation for my primary study & ministry Bible every few years. (My thinking back then was that I wanted to get past the mindset of the translators, and hear the heart of the authors behind the translation.) So I’ve avoided growing up loyal to any particular translation.

In recent years, there have appeared some fresh translations that are aspiring to translate the heart of the content, rather than to shoehorn an English word into being an equivalent for a Greek or Hebrew word that isn’t even part of our thinking in this century. As a result, these are fresher to my understanding and more accessible to my emotions than the shoehorned vocabulary of earlier versions (consider “adjure” or “husbandman” or “prick against the goads”).

I’ve been listeningto the Bible rather a lot recently, more than reading it (“Faith comes by hearing….”), and while I own audio versions of four different translations, I find myself most inspired, most provoked, most comforted by The Message Version. Not even a little bit of a “word-for-word” version, their goal was to communicate Scripture into the actual, everyday vernacular that we speak today. I think it succeeds wonderfully!

I chose it primarily to get out of the normal “religious” thinking that I’d grown up with listening to KJV and NIV preachers, and it’s worked for that purpose.

When I’m digging into the Greek & Hebrew, I still use the older, more traditional translations, particularly the NIV.

So you’re welcome to write me off as a heretic if you feel the need to. Keep in mind that “heretic” was a word invented during the Inquisition specifically to accuse those who [gasp!] thought independently of what the religious government told them to think. Yeah, I aspire to do that.

But you’re also welcome to join me in exploring the riches of the Word of God as He expresses Himself through the word of God.




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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, February 11, 2019

Trump fell a few dots shy of declaring all out war against China in his State of the Union address. He spoke kindly of China, then brought back Cold War era talk of "defeating Communism". He also said he wanted China to have to play by the same rules as Russia and the US where nuclear missiles are concerned. The Chinese won't like that because they genuinely believe they are better than everyone else.

China's ancient, recently best-kept-secret, aspiration of saturating the world with the "Han" bloodline is in full swing. The recent spotlight has been the Han migration that threatens to dilute and eventually eliminate Uyghurs from the Xinjiang Uyghur "autonomous region" in China—one of many "provinces under protest" that reject forced assimilation into China's bossy political ideology—an ideology Trump threatened in announcing his goal that China come down to the lowly level of having to play by the same rules as everyone else.

Then, there was military defense. Trump's speech was patriotic. He celebrated "American exceptionalism" and the US's role in helping save people in other countries from tyranny. Some call it a "messiah complex". Some call it "American charity". Whatever it was, Trump stirred the hearts of Americans to remember their roots of militarily helping those in need, announcing massive military investment, and reviving America's old war on Communism.

The US is already preparing for war with China—in the old fashioned, soft, "humble" way, according to its Christendom roots of Chivalry. Without the pomp and parade, China's imperialistic culture may not even notice. But, war drums are sounding on the horizon. Trump's trade talks are either an irritant or a stall tactic—probably both.

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Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, February 11, 2019

If the border wall dispute goes to a point of emergency, there would be implications. How deeply the administration and Congress will want to pursue those implications is a question to itself, with a likely answer of, "Not far." But, the implications will remain.

Declaring a national emergency at the border is basically a declaration of being invaded by a civilian army. Like any army, this army also has a purpose and a moral cause they think to be right and fair. What invading army doesn't? But, it would be an invading army of some kind or another because that's what Constitutional powers the president would need to use to declare the emergency: repel against invasion.

The Constitutional language here compels Congress to act. If Trump were to declare an emergency to deal with the border situation—then a Federal judge stopped him—that judge would be just as implicated as Congress.

The implication?—Conspiracy with the enemy.

If an invasion can be stopped, but won't be stopped by Congress or a judge, then they are conspirators with that invasion. This is because they are Constitutionally required to stop any force from invading, not only a deputized army sanctioned by a recognized state.

Trump might not be able to do much. Presidents can't impeach anyone and members of Congress don't answer for anything they do as elected officials to anyone except the electorate. He might be able to fire the Federal judge, but that won't achieve anything because another treacherous scoundrel is sure to pop up elsewhere.

But, the implication will be there. What to do about it will be left up to the voters.

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Columns

Live Statickly

An "-er" worldview always seeks to compare something to something else. If your goal is to be "better", no doubt everyone else will eventually think that you think you are better than everyone else—and the truth will be that you probably won't be.

With taxes and politics its "higher vs lower"; neither is attainable. "Lower" taxes isn't a number; it is a direction, not a destination, so, by definition, it can never succeed; same with "higher" taxes.

Rather than trying to be "more" or "less", just be you and your best. Choose clear goals, reach them, then choose another.

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Letters

Oftenly Pronoun… and I mean frequently!

I was talking with a random guy on the street, somewhere in Asia. English was clearly his second language, though my Mandarin clearly had no comparison to his English. He didn't speak Mandarin, though. Things got interesting when he used the word "oftenly".

"I skate oftenly," he said.

Oftenly...

Technically, oftenly is not usually a word, but technically it is, but technically it's the wrong word. The word he meant to use was "frequently". If he wanted to say that he skated from time to time, specifically times that are so frequent that they "occur oftenly" (proper usage because the verb occur is about time), it would have been proper to say, "I skate often."

What's the difference and who cares, anyway!?

English speakers love to argue about grammatical distinctions that clearly provide no further clarity—and may even be right—or even wrong and right differently—and to make such arguments about these clearly unclear differences about right and wrong usage differently, even though they have nothing to do with the difference between right and wrong. And, I still have no idea why.

I even asked my friend whether in his country they liked to argue about nothing as much as English speakers did. Absolutely not! It was almost as comical for him to observe me deliberating with myself about the difference between "often" and "oftenly" as it is for a Brit to watch Monte Python banter about British nothingness—notwithstanding that it is most entertaining to watch the Brit be entertained by the bantering banterer, but I digress.

How should we ever know that we ought use the -ly suffixed adverb "frequently" and the non-suffixed "often" interchangeably in the same sentence? It all comes down to English style guide preferences.

In typical, classroom, American English, words like "tomorrow" and "yesterday" are considered adverbs. This may seem strange—and I do think it is strange indeed. Usually, adverbs describe manner or the way in which a verb is acted out.

Consider "eating". "I eat quickly." This makes sense with the adverb "quickly" as the eating is done in a quick manner. But, if I will eat "tomorrow", is the manner in which I will eat described with any more clarity? Does the word "tomorrow" really behave like an adverb?

As with "tomorrow", even if I eat multiple times everyday, "often" just doesn't seem to describe the manner of eating as much it describes the days and times when I eat; but "frequenly" does describe some of the manner. And, that brings me to Cambridge.

Cambridge has a different take than Amercia's 20th century classroom; "yesterday" and "tomorrow" are not adverbs—they are pronouns.

From the English style viewpoint of Cambridge, words like "tomorrow" don't tell one ounce about the manner and speed with which a verb is acted out. Rather, "tomorrow" represents a day as much as "me" represents myself, Jesse Steele, the writer of this ridiculously multi-topicked article with a grammatically incorrect title.

Now, I must add my own two cents about understanding grammar. By "tomorrow" being a pronoun, saying, "I will eat tomorrow," doesn't mean that I plan to eat the actual day of Thursday should I happen to be speaking on a Wednesday. In this "case", the pronoun "tomorrow" would have the "Locative Case" usage of "place in time", but that is a discussion—and an argument in favor—of grammatical noun case applicability to English. And, though I don't want to keep digressing, if using the Cambridge style, it does help to clarify the usage of "tomorrow" by identifying its functional "noun case" and while classifying it as a "modifier noun". If that doesn't make sense, that's okay, it's only two cents.

Where was I?—tomorrow!

If we view "tomorrow" and "yesterday" and words of the like as pronouns that represent days, then we would easily know that "often" is also a pronoun for time—whether time of day or any given day or month, year, et cetera. And, we already know that pronouns do not receive the adverbial suffix, -ly. "Often" should be considered a pronoun, just as "tomorrow", "today", "yesterday", and "everyday" for that matter.

Now I'm wondering, with the Cambridge style, if I were to describe an activity whose manner is best described as done in a "tomorrow" -like manner, would I say that I, "do it tomorrowly."? I think the best answer would be, if you can't save an adverb's life, it's more merciful to kill it quickly. After all, in any well-described writing, adverbs would be a redundancy, which is another argument in favor of Cambridge—"tomorrow" isn't an adverb, so there's nothing wrong with using it. But, I digress yet again.

In conclusion, we understand that the Cambridge style for English usage helps us to clear up this "often" problem. Proper usage is, "I skate frequently and often," because "frequently" is an adverb while "often", like "tomorrow", is a pronoun.

Needless to say, my friend was quite amused at the remarkable time English speakers have with which to dedicate concern about use of language. But, it is likely that he will "frequently and often" use the word "often" properly and correctly in the future. Thank you Cambridge.

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Columns

Higher Picture

The bigger picture trumps most problems. If you're having trouble, think big. But, there is a picture even higher than the "big picture" we often think of.

God is constantly and proactively transforming Earth into something amazing. The more we focus our efforts on "amazing transformation", the more worthwhile any of our efforts will be. This is true of nations, families, businesses, and everything between.

When a society perseverates on an inbred, self-focused culture, business, religion, or entertainment, health and economics decay. But, macro to individual, when we escalate foundational transformation at our core being, life abounds in uncountable magnitude.

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, February 4, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVh1X4BXxhQ

The PDT Symphony Asian Mad Scientist Theorem is hard at work—that history unfolds as if a mythical mad scientist has finished societal experimentation on North Korea and has now decided to implement the same principles in China, this time with a seemingly faster canter toward communist calamity. Rather than nukes, China makes noises of sinking US aircraft carriers and invading Taiwan.

The theorem is not truth, but it helps to accurately anticipate how history will unfold, and anticipate it has. It foretold that the mythical "miracle of China" would be exposed for the myth it always was.

The so-called "China miracle" seduced too many. There was no miracle happening inside China. There was no invention, no innovation, no new ideas. Even China's socioeconomic framework was reverse-engineered from Russian Marxism. Now, government requires itself to be the head of even religion; an Atheist government wants to define the truth for a religion that believes in a God that the government does not. How can that not be a course for calamity?

China gained its money, not from its own human ingenuity—since the Confucian education culture purges all ingenuity inclinations. No, the money came from Americans who would drive half a dollar's distance in gasoline to save a nickel—thinking that this made sense. It didn't make sense, it didn't save cents, but it did make dollars for China. But, now, those dollars are all gone—the dollars China believed in, and the dollars that made Western saps believe in China. The "miracle" was never from China, but from the United States' innovative, free-thinking, God-fearing economy.

China continues to grab for power—not because it feels powerful. While its economy and international respect have taken a nosedive, China is all the more adamant about "reclaiming" what is China's ostensibly by rite. The looming invasion of Taiwan won't happen because China believes it is economically strong enough to win, but that reclaiming Taiwan would solve all other problems to make China economically strong again. China believes China is a poor nation only because it hasn't yet "retaken" more control of more lands, such as Taiwan—an island that the Communist Party never once controlled.

Even King Belshazzar feared the writing on the wall without understanding it. But, Western saps didn't fear the writing written in their own economic language. Now, three Canadians are shocked and caught off guard. They should have known better than to put themselves in such peril during our dangerous times. So should the coupon clippers in America's consumer base have known better. So should the American companies about to watch their investments get "appropriated" have known better.

And, China should have known such a trade war was coming. Lack of reciprocity started the Opium Wars. China should have researched America's history books for the phrase "Indian giver", which often described America's government much more than it described America's Natives. China should have known that American consumers would respond in wrath when their jobs had been exported from their homes and imported into a country that prohibits free speech and religion. China should have known that a trade war was in the making from the first day that American manufacturers outsourced their labor to the Chinese.

But, the Americans never told China because the Americans were too consumed with their own consumerism.

The obvious has been ignored. Now, the inevitable results are playing out. Whatever course history takes, the results must run their course, but we know it won't be pretty, not for a while anyway. But, of all the things it never was, it was always foreseeable to those who wanted to look at what was right in front of them.

It takes two to start a war, so everyone should have known the war that was starting because everyone was starting it long, long ago.

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Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, February 4, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJQpZaP7OcY

Apple can crackdown on Google and Facebook, but America can't crack down on it's own private property and protection for citizens?

This week, the president's State of the Union Address will convene on schedule. The guest list is said to be interesting, though at press time, the president had not yet announced his guests. The regular speech is one way of fulfilling a Constitutional requirement that the president:

...shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

The normal way of fulfilling this Constitutional requirement (the speech) was under threat by the government shutdown. That shutdown ended with a temporary budget, while Congressional Republicans proved that they saw "shutdown" as the strategy, while Congressional Democrats and President Trump—each in their own way—proved the shutdown as an unintended consequence of their "wall" or "anti-wall" strategy. Now, the State of the Union is confirmed on the calendar. The interesting parts won't be about the wall as much as they will be about China.

China—the one thing that could unite all sides of American debates. Beware the peace of a nation in need of an enemy to unify them, for that peace may be shortlived.

Hot on the Capitol Hill agenda is Obama's DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The argument basically goes that young trees can be transplanted, but once they have grown, re-transplanting them again can kill them. Children are innocent and—though beneficiaries of the free economy, free speech, and freedom of America's wonderful and ought-to-be-sought socioeconomic system—children would not be at-fault for receiving the great benefit of America's growing greatness. So, why punish the children? That's the argument in DACA's defense.

One example that isn't used enough to defend DACA is the Back-to-Africa movement, of the 1800s, which sought to return Black Americans to Africa. The idea was absurd, demonstrating no knowledge of international life and culture. Though an injustice, forcing a reversal after history has moved on only makes the injustice worse. DACA was such an injustice and the way forward cannot be explained in, shall we say, "black and white".

From the Conservative perspective, the best solution to DACA claimants (the children in question) is to punish the perpetrators, not the children. In other words, punish the parents. The following course would do just that: Any illegally entered parents must report themselves and prepare for deportation or, with a clean criminal record, be given 30 days to prepare for a speedy and unconditional return to their home country. Then, children wishing to claim DACA status must meet minimum age and circumstantial requirements that prove returning to a life in their family's country would cause a lower-quality life, such as not knowing the language or already having developed American credentials, must not have citizenship with that nation, and be banned from any dual citizenship with that nation for ten years.

This would cut off the parents from their children. If they wanted their children to be American because of America's greatness, this would give them that at a price worth paying. For anyone who thinks the price is not worth paying, the DACA benefits would not be necessary. Let the people choose themselves and let America be a place of immigrants willing to pay the price of freedom that never comes free.

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 28, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2oZOCSuIp8

The West ramped up rhetoric against China this past week. Even George "Socialist" Soros trashed the Chinese government, yet tried to court favor with the Chinese people. Such an attempt aims to divide government and people. Opinion pieces from renowned news outlets openly accuse China of aggression. We did not see such a harsh tone from the mainstream press in the West even one year ago. Today, it's becoming commonplace to bash China.

The US sent two Naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait this week. Now, the US is preparing extradition of the Huawei executive currently in Canadian custody. With threats of turning the tariffs back on, it should be more apparent that the US never planned to grant China any of its ambitions in the first place. Not only has the US been playing China like a flute, the Chinese haven't known—or have they?

Everyone seems to be biding time, both the US and China. China's main focus has been readying government and military. The US focus seems to have been public sentiment against China. Perhaps both sides have been playing each other, but the US has been making a play of its own—that we can see.

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Columns

Go Time

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc4DY3d7CyA

It never feels like the "right time" to step out onto the field. Every athlete wishes for more preparation. Every coach longs for "one more practice". Good athletes may know that they are ready, but it indicates overconfidence for one to hope to not be more ready than one is.

When it's showtime, show.

Wars aren't won and businesses aren't built by people who are ready; they are won and built by people who aren't ready, but who take on the odds anyway.

If you have a choice, prepare. But, when the time calls your name, get in the game.

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Encore of Revival: America, January 28, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCdSTuVq2Z8

American deadlock trudges on. Trump promised a wall and he won't back down. Democrats won't back down either. Both show solidarity with their respective platforms. The only group that seems to favor backing down is Congressional Republicans, who want Trump to get this over with any way possible. For the compromising Republicans on Capitol Hill, Trump's refusal to sign a "wallless budget" isn't a "wall" strategy as much as it is a "shut down" strategy. Trump and Congressional Democrats see it differently.

Keep watch; it just might be Jared Kushner who saves the day.

The term "free speech" has taken a new meaning. While speech has kept less and less freedom from the tech bosses, the monetary cost of speaking out has essentially become free. With speech becoming more and more "financially free", the media industry can't find a way to stay solvent.

Newspapers and local news broadcasters seek collective ways to work against the tech giants, but they only rearrange their immediate problems with no long-term solutions in sight. The dwindling news industry is attacking "free" platforms of semi-free speech: social media. That's the clue of where news & information will head in the future.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 21, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O64jVjaO7cs

The US government shutdown is stalling Beijing's action against Taiwan. With the US slightly less-able to respond and prepare, Beijing has an opportunity to bide time and grow its military. No doubt, Beijing will see advantage and seize opportunity.

At the same time, the US has zero intent of appeasing Beijing's hopes for Taiwan. Whatever signals the US sends elsewhere and otherwise, the US government shows no respect for China and China shows a slow learning curve on understanding just how little respect it has thus.

The evermore desperate fight inside Taiwan continues. Taiwanese rally around their defiant president. Taiwan's government is reaching for any friends it can find anywhere in the world, while policing dissidents and sources of pro-Chinese opinion within its borders. No doubt, Taiwan is headed for what Winston Churchill said of Great Britain, "this was their finest hour." Though history has not written the end of that hour, the time is fast approaching.

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Encore of Revival: America, January 21, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TF_HXLTO2hA

Trump has transformed America's view of a "government shutdown" to a point where it could very well become a campaign promise in future elections. Not only did the shutdown become a "non-event", it's actually kind of nice to not have government messing with everything. If Congressional Democrats allow the shutdown to please Reagan Republican Americans much longer, political debates may even include strategy for how to keep the government closed for longer amounts of time.

It's difficult for Americans to sympathize with the purported "horror" of a government shutdown when the lives of hard-working Americans—who work in the private sector—continue their daily lives with little to no interruption. IRS agents being out of work won't be seen by Americans as a bad thing. If America's "tax collectors" hoped to get back to work sooner, they probably should have followed Biblical advice—to keep out of trouble by keeping their mouths shut. You'd think "IRS agents not working" should have been kept a State secret.

While those who depend on taxpayer dollars to fund their livelihood will be angry that the milk has run dry, the shutdown won't come close to affecting enough Americans to make a shutdown less popular in the future. In fact, the shutdown should prove to make America stronger on three levels: as a warning to government employees that the private sector is less likely to be destabilized by politics, that government and socialist -created "jobs" will eventually have the same problems in America as in North Korea, and that Americans will have to learn how to make due when government isn't operating in its greatest glory.

Look on the bright side. If America knows how to function without as much government, we will all get through tougher times with more colors flying.

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