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Wasting Time

July 11th, 2016

Mine and Yours

I have something to do in 45 minutes, so I can’t really sit down and dig into my new responsibilities. So here I am.

I have been reading Thucydides. I thought I was going to start sooner, but I looked at the Columbia University Lit. Hum. syllabus and discovered I was supposed to read Euripides (The Bacchae) first.

I think I should have taken the midterm last week. I would have been ready for it, which is more than I can say about my last time through this stuff.

I don’t believe in stealing copyrighted stuff, so I always look for cheap paper copies of whatever I read, even if I read it first on Scrib’d or whatever. I read The Odyssey on Scrib’d, and I also ordered a real copy. It’s still in the plastic.

I ordered a copy of Euripides V from Amazon, and then I read an earlier version at the Open Library, which is a site that “lends” ebooks. It has some connection to the Internet Archive, but the Archive has its own borrowing site. You figure it out. I am too lazy to look. I have accounts at both sites. I hope they’re taking care of authors’ rights, but anyway, I do use them. I took a look at a couple of drink recipes from Trader Vic’s without buying paper copies of the book. I hope that’s morally acceptable.

“Bacchae” rhymes with “wacky,” and maybe that’s fitting. It means “bacchants.” “Bacchant” (also “bacchante”) is pronounced “buh-Can’t.” It means a lady who worships Bacchus, the Bieber-like Greek God of drunkenness and–I don’t know–being effeminate maybe.

Here is the idea. Bacchus comes down to–wow, I’ve forgotten already–is it Thebes? Yes. The Thebes in Greece. He claims he’s Zeus’s son. His family says he’s a random illegitimate sissy. His cousin, Pentheus, is given the throne of Thebes, and Bacchus is rejected, although he does go on to a successful run, playing millionaire Thurston Howell on Sixties TV.

People who worship Bacchus go crazy. They get really drunk and run around the woods, dancing and fornicating. Women are the main participants, and during their craziness, they provide sex for any man who asks. This is not considered sleazy or sinful; it’s considered pious. Go figure.

It’s a remarkable thing to read, because it’s like a perverse reflection of being led by the Holy Spirit.

When you’re led by the Holy Spirit, you’re out of sync with the rest of the world. Like the bacchants, you seem irrational to other people, but you’re under the influence of a spirit who knows what he’s doing. You will do things that seem ill-advised from people who don’t hear from him.

The bacchants were also out of step with other people. Unlike Spirit-led Christians, they lost their free will and good sense. They did strange things. The mother of Pentheus got together with a group of bacchants and tore him to pieces, removing his head and so on. She didn’t know he was her son. She wanted to find Pentheus and tell him how she had helped kill the unbeliever.

Bacchus was the son of the highest Greek God, by a mortal woman. Jesus was the son of the real high God, by a mortal woman. Bacchus was rejected. Jesus was rejected. Bacchus sent a spirit to control people who followed him, and they did strange things. Jesus sent a spirit to help people rise above Satan and the world, and under that spirit’s influence, we do things other people don’t understand.

Bacchus gave humanity wine, and the Greeks thought that was a great gift, because it got people drunk. Jesus gave people his blood, which was represented by wine. When the Holy Spirit fell on the Apostles, people thought they were drunk.

I have to wonder how much of this is coincidence. In the time of Euripides, Satan didn’t know about the crucifixion or the baptism with the Holy Spirit, but it seems like evil spirits pick up on things from time to time, getting little incomplete glimpses of the things God is up to.

Thucydides is interesting. His book is about the Peloponnesian Wars. The Peloponnese is the lower part of Greece, where Sparta is located. It’s actually a peninsula. Athens is on the mainland. The mainier mainland. Athens and Spart went at it, with other Greek city-states joining the fray.

The Athenians were led by a remarkable man named Pericles. He reminds me of Winston Churchill and George W. Bush. He was a solid wartime leader whose people turned on him once the consequences of their decision to follow him into battle became clear. People always want the omelette, and then they want the eggs back.

Pericles was a speaker, and he made some famous speeches before the Athenians. In the first, he urged them to go to war. He said something you would expect to come out of the mouth of an American Founding Father: “Make up your minds that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.”

Well, I got called away before the 45 minutes were up. But I’m back now. I’m making diet cookies.

To get back to Pericles, he showed me something interesting about Sparta: the Spartans were crazy to put their kids through 18 years or whatever of cruel boot camp.

If you’ve seen 300, you know that the Spartans sent their male children off to suffer miserably until they were old enough to join the army. This was after killing off all the ones that looked imperfect; the Spartans were extremely pro-choice. They left weak-looking babies to die in the wilderness.

In the movie, the Spartans are incredibly macho and tough. They’re like the SAS of Greeks. No one can fight as well as they can. Three hundred of them hold the huge Persian army off for days.

In real life, the flabby, hard-drinking Athenian queens kicked the snot out of them. They defeated the Spartans, proving you don’t really need to throw your life away to be an effective soldier.

American conservatives got really sweaty and pumped after 300 came out. We put “Molon labe” all over our blogs (even though King Leonidas of Sparta didn’t say that in the movie). Maybe we should have been excited about the wedding planners, figure skaters, and airline stewards of Athens.

Want to hear something interesting about Pericles? He had the Athenians hide behind a wall during the war. He also wanted to fix it so you had to have two Athenian parents in order to be a citizen of Athens. Do you realize what this means? He wasn’t the Greek George Bush. He was the Greek Donald Trump.

Pericles, it seems, was brilliant, even though his plans didn’t always work. Thucydides was no moron, either. He understood how smart Pericles was, and he paid him this compliment: he said he led the people instead of being led by them. That’s true wisdom. Most of our politicans are followers, not leaders. Obama is the biggest sheep in the universe. Somehow a man who lived 2500 years ago knew how important it was for a leader to lead, and we don’t know it now. How can that be? How can you not know something you knew in 475 B.C.?

Leadership is a huge part of Christianity. You’re supposed to be the head, not the tail. The head doesn’t follow the tail. When your buddies are getting tattoos, using drugs, and doing yoga, you shouldn’t go along just so they’ll love you. You should set an example and do what’s right.

You’re wondering what diet cookies are.

In 2009, after a fast, I suddenly found that God had given me control over what I ate. I didn’t feel compelled to stuff myself. I lost weight. That blessing didn’t go away, but I damaged it. One night I decided to order all-you-can-eat ribs with a friend of mine, and since then, things haven’t been quite as good as they were in 2009. I guess I followed instead of leading.

Recently, God brought the self-control back. That’s great, but it comes with little challenges. One is that I tend to eat too little at breakfast. I can tell when I need more food, because I start to feel crabby, and I don’t concentrate well. Like Betty White in the Snickers commercial.

I bought a bag of Oreos the other day, and I found them very useful. When I needed food, I grabbed a couple of Oreos, and they fixed the problem. Without small, handy, calorie-filled items around, I would be likely to eat something that’s too big.

I ran out of Oreos, and I was going to get more, but then I remembered my own cookies. I make fantastic oatmeal raisin cookies. It’s not a big brag. All homemade cookies are phenomenal compared to bag cookies, as long as you don’t use vegetable oil or shortening.

Today I made a pile of oatmeal cookies, and I’ll keep them around so I don’t keel over at 3 p.m. every day. The big problem is that they may be too good. If they’re too good, it will be very hard to control my consumption, even with the help I have.

They really are good. I know they’re good, because I love them, and ordinarily I don’t like oatmeal cookies.

I guess I’m going to have to get back to work on accounting. Either that, or I’ll have no choice but to get into the differences between rolled and ground ball screws.

7 Responses to “Wasting Time”

  1. Sharkman Says:

    You’re torturing yourself reading ancient Greek texts. A commendable way of self-abuse, I must say.

    The project I have had in mind for about five years is to create a HARD-COPY Bible that is 17″ x 11″, which presents the Old and New Testaments concurrently in order from left to right:

    Aramaic, then Biblical Greek, then Latin Vulgate, then Hebrew (might be covered by Aramaic and therefore expendable), then English, then annotations.

    Of course I realize this has been partially done on the internet, and having a hard copy is really just tree murder most foul [sniff], but something about this reading format on a form that can be physically touched and studied intrigues me greatly and I am willing to put the time in to complete it.

    As I say, “one man’s self-abuse is another man’s legacy.”

  2. Juan Paxety Says:

    Recipe?

  3. Steve H. Says:

    The Lit. Hum. reading is largely a backhanded way of expressing my contempt for liberal arts scholars. I still can’t believe they get the same respect mathematicians and engineers get. It will probably cost me about a hundred bucks for all the books for the course, and I guarantee you, I am learning as much or more than the poor kids paying Columbia a million dollars per semester.

    Today I took a break and watched a few minutes of Good Will Hunting, in which Mr. Hunting took down a snotty college kid and told him one day he would realize he spent $150,000 on an education he could have gotten for $1.50 in late fees at a public library. In fields like history and English, that’s no exaggeration, and with the Internet, you can throw in many more challenging fields.

    As for the cookies, it’s really simple. Golden raisins are best, but the dark ones will work, too. You bake them at 350-375 for 12-15 minutes. If they’re too mushy at 350, try 375 next time.

    You just mix everything except the oats, flour, and raisins in a big bowl. Then stir the dry things in. Plop little ping pong-ball-sized globs onto a cookie sheet a couple of inches apart.

    INGREDIENTS

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 ¼ cups old fashioned oats
    1 cup light brown sugar, packed tightly
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    ½ teaspoon baking soda
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon baking powder
    ½ stick butter
    ½ cup golden raisins – brown ones are okay
    pinch ground nutmeg – less than an eighth of a teaspoon

  4. Ruth H Says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I need to make some oatmeal cookies. I see this has only 1/2 stick of butter. That is the diet part, I see.
    I think I made some very similar once but I don’t keep track of which time I do what with cookies. Plus I usually add about 1/2 cup flax seed, no raisins but pecan pieces instead. Raisins have a lot of sugar I do not need, but I do need the fiber from the oatmeal and flax seed.

  5. Steve H. Says:

    That will kind of kill the recipe, but I hope it works out.

  6. Andy-in-Japan Says:

    Sure, the cousin got the throne. But he got to voice Mr. Magoo. And who remembers the name of the cousin now? 🙂

  7. Steve H. Says:

    Right. You always have to take the long view.