A Game With Books

Normblog has a game with books. You take the list, see which authors you have, and insert others for the ones you don’t have. You’re supposed to bold your inserts. I don’t know how to do that.

Normblog uses his own list of science fiction books. I’ll add my changes to the side.

1. Aldous Huxley
2. Douglas Adams
3. William Tenn 3. Gordon Dickson
4. Olaf Stapledon 4. Edgar Rice Burroughs
5. H.G. Wells
6. Gene Wolfe 6. Robert Heinlein
7. R.A. Lafferty 7. Arthur C. Clarke
8. John Sladek 8. Isaac Asimov
9. Cordwainer Smith
10. Walter Miller, Jr.

These are all old guys. What about some others?
1. Ray Bradbury
2. Larry Niven
3. Steven Barnes
4. Timothy Zahn
5. Anne McCaffrey
6. Elizabeth Moon
7. Orson Scott Card
8. David Weber
9. John Ringo
10. Christopher Stasheff

via Winds of Change


Have you ever heard the argument that “he was a good man,” meaning that makes him go to Heaven when he dies? I’ve heard it. But it’s not what the Bible says. It says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11:6).

Does that make the good man any less good? No. But you don’t get into Heaven based on your good deeds. You get into Heaven based on your faith.

Hammurabi’s Law

Chrenkoff on Jan. 11, 2005 has an extended essay on the laws of Hammurabi and the previous law system from which that was taken. The article is part of a series and is not by Chrenkoff, but by a guest blogger.

Includes taxes unpaid for three years by owner gives estate to the payee.
Also if a dam is not cared for and it breaks, the owner owes the people whose crops were damaged. He can be sold to repay the debt.

Useful stuff for my book.

In and of itself, Hammurabi’s code is a remarkable achievement – and it has attained a historical place of note since it was long thought to be the oldest legal code, created out of whole cloth at Babylon. Now that we are more fully aware of the older Sumerian legal codes and how they (especially Lipit-Ishtar’s code) were the direct predecessors of Hammurabi’s code, we can see Hammurabi’s code in a different light. While still a singular achievement, Hammurabi’s code is essentially the collected culmination of what was almost entirely Sumerian legal wisdom.

Even the form of Hammurabi’s code is identical to its Sumerian predecessors. It begins with a long and boastful prologue, contains a main body of individual laws, and concludes with a lengthy and flowery epilogue.

Like the Sumerian codes, it is clearly stated that the law code had a divine basis – that it responded to the divine justice of the gods and transcended the affairs of men. This is also evident on the stele upon which the code is engraved; at the top, above the text of the code, is a relief depicting Shamash, the Babylonian sun god, handing a scepter and a ring – the symbols of kingship – to Hammurabi. For both the Sumerians (Utu) and the Babylonians (Shamash), the sun god was the deity associated with justice – in his role as the “illuminator,” under whose light it was impossible to hide falsehood.

Hammurabi’s code also places a great deal of emphasis on precedent, both legal and social. By Hammurabi’s time, in Mesopotamia there had accumulated literally centuries of archived legal decisions and property deeds. In Babylon, as in the Sumerian city-states, contracts were used extensively and were formulated with great systematic care; agreements were written down, sworn to by the parties involved, signed by the parties and also by witnesses, then officially notarized and archived. Once again, these procedures are essentially identical to what is done today in similar circumstances. In court, claims were expected to be backed up by either written documents or witness testimony which was given under oath – or by both. And as in the Sumerian legal system, court decisions were written down, signed by the judges, and filed in the archives. As in a modern legal system, there was strong emphasis on the ubiquity of written documents and records; these written records were central to any legal proceedings.

It is also somewhat unfair that two statutes (of 282 total) in Hammurabi’s code have received undue attention and have caused a misunderstanding of the law codes of Mesopotamia:

196. If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out.

200. If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out.
It is these two items, commonly referred to as “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” which have had the unfortunate effect of implying that the basic tenor of justice in Hammurabi’s time (and, by implication, in Sumer in prior days) was very primitive, unsophisticated, vindictive, and direct – and allowing of no extenuating circumstances or subtlety. However, this is obviously an incorrect judgment; examined in their entirety, both Hammurabi’s code and its Sumerian predecessors are in fact very sophisticated, reflecting the high level of cultural and social development of the societies which created and maintained them.

The direct connections to the (only partially-recovered) Lipit-Ishtar code are quite evident. The first paragraph of the Hammurabi prologue is rather florid, and like its predecessors invokes divine favor for the promulgation of the code:

When Anu the Sublime, King of the Annunaki, and Bel, the lord of Heaven and earth, who decreed the fate of the land, assigned to Marduk, the over-ruling son of Ea, God of righteousness, dominion over earthly man, and made him great among the Igigi, they called Babylon by his illustrious name, made it great on earth, and founded an everlasting kingdom in it, whose foundations are laid so solidly as those of heaven and earth; then Anu and Bel called me by name, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash, and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.
Providing a strong indication of the direct lineage of Hammurabi’s code, it is interesting to compare this opening paragraph with that of Lipit-Ishtar’s code:

When the great An, the father of the gods, (and) Enlil, the king of all the lands, the lord who determines ordinances, had… to Ninisinna, the daughter of An, the… for her… (and) the rejoicing… for her bright forehead; when they had given her the kingship of Sumer (and) Akkad (and) a favorable reign in her (city) Isin, the… established by An; when An (and) Enlil had called Lipit-Ishtar… Lipit-Ishtar, the wise shepherd, whose name has been pronounced by Nunamnir… to the princeship of the land in order to establish justice in the land, to banish complaints, to turn back enmity (and) rebellion by force of arms, (and) to bring well-being to the Sumerians…
Certain passages of these two paragraphs are so similar that it seems likely that not only was Lipit-Ishtar’s code known to Hammurabi and his advisors – the Lipit-Ishtar code was probably “on the table” during the authoring of Hammurabi’s code. Likewise, both codes conclude with long and windy epilogues which recapitulate the intent of the codes. From Hammurabi’s code,

Laws of justice which the Hammurabi, the wise king, established. A righteous law, and pious statute did he teach the land. Hammurabi, the protecting king am I.
The stated intent is similar to the opening of the epilogue of Lipit-Ishtar’s code:

Verily, in accordance with the true word of Utu, I caused Sumer and Akkad to hold to true justice.
The words are slightly different, yet the embodied intentions are identical.

While (unfortunately) very few of the specific statutes in the Lipit-Ishtar code have been recovered, two rather specific items regarding property damage appear almost identically in both codes. For example, from Hammurabi’s code,

59. If any man, without the knowledge of the owner of a garden, fell a tree in a garden he shall pay half a mina in money.
In Lipit-Ishtar’s code,

If a man cut down a tree in the garden of another man, he shall pay one-half mina of silver.
Similarly, in Hammurabi’s code,

248. If anyone hire an ox, and break off a horn, or cut off its tail, or hurt its muzzle, he shall pay one-fourth of its value in money.
This item is virtually identical to a similar provision in the Lipit-Ishtar code:

If a man rented an ox and broke its horn, he shall pay one-fourth of its price.
This is another indication that Hammurabi’s code was derived substantially from Lipit-Ishtar’s code, and was thus able to address the same sorts of concerns in a nearly-identical society. It is also a testament to the effectiveness of these law codes that they were re-used widely in this fashion; they obviously were regarded as a worthwhile foundation of the societies of Mesopotamia.

The difficult concept of “adverse possession” of private property appears in both codes in a nearly identical manner. From Hammurabi’s code,

30. If a chieftain or a man leave his house, garden, and field and hires it out, and some one else takes possession of his house, garden, and field and uses it for three years: if the first owner return and claims his house, garden, and field, it shall not be given to him, but he who has taken possession of it and used it shall continue to use it.
The provision in the Lipit-Ishtar code is nearly identical:

If the master of an estate or the mistress of an estate has defaulted on the tax of the estate and a stranger has borne it, for three years the owner may not be evicted. Afterward, the man who bore the tax of the estate shall possess that estate, and the prior owner of the estate shall not raise any claim.
These provisions (and the situations they describe) are nearly identical, right down to the use of a “three year” stipulation of as-yet unknown origin.

A final striking similarity between the two codes is the provision in both for the very abstract legal concept of “tort” – the requirement for compensation when someone’s incompetent actions cause harm or damage (usually to property), even though there is no criminal intent. In Hammurabi’s code this involves irrigation water running amok and damaging the crops and fields of others:

53. If anyone be too lazy to keep his dam in proper condition, and does not so keep it; if then the dam break and all the fields be flooded, then shall he in whose dam the break occurred be sold for money, and the money shall replace the corn which he has caused to be ruined.
A provision in Lipit-Ishtar’s code embodies the same idea, although it is applied to a different situation:

If adjacent to the house of a man the bare ground of another man has been neglected and the owner of the house has said to the owner of the bare ground, “Because your ground has been neglected someone may break into my house; strengthen your house,” and this agreement has been confirmed by him, the owner of the bare ground shall restore to the owner of the house any of his property that is lost.
While these two provisions are not specifically identical, they both address the same abstract legal concept.

This leads back again to how we can view Hammurabi’s code. It is indeed an achievement in its own right. However, it also serves as the best extant summary of the collected wisdom of numerous centuries of Mesopotamian (chiefly Sumerian) experience with the practical issues involved in the rule of law. Hammurabi’s code presently provides the only method of illuminating the details of a number of very complex and surprisingly “modern” legal ideas which were well-known to the Sumerians; these concepts will be considered in Part VII.

Question for the Nurse

I’ve forgotten this already, even though I meant to ask.

Does the “mask” coloration from the use of birth control pills go away when you quit using them?

R said that my face had changed color, but I thought it was just the make-up I was wearing. But then I was looking at a black and white photo in which the mask is very evident. When I looked at my face in the mirror, it didn’t appear to be there. Hmm.

Cholesterol and Cinnamon

I was reading back through my old health and looks posts and found this entry which cites a Reuter’s article, now in the archives and so not available, that says that having a quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon a day can drop cholesterol levels 30 points in a month.

Since I was toying with writing a post on high cholesterol, that made me smile.

R got his blood tests in and I opened them and read them. His cholesterol is 303. That’s a pretty high number. Especially since his HDL’s (happy cholesterols) are low, 40. So he’s in the bad range all the way around.

I asked the nurse about it, because I’ve been sufficiently freaked out about it. She said that often high cholesterol is related to low thyroid. (Not for me.) They are hoping that R taking thyroid will lower his cholesterol all by itself. That’s a great idea. If he ever gets to take the thyroid medicine. He’s tried 2x and both times his heart rate has accelerated. Maybe they should have told him to wait two weeks, like they told me to wait with the testosterone. I’m sure they have some rationale; I just don’t know what it was.

R wants to try the thyroid medicine first to see what it does.

His bestfriend wants to do an ultrasound on his neck to see if he has any plaque build-up.

Honestly, the whole thing scares me. Now I know how the Diva felt when she realized how many heart problems there were in her family. Her immediate family now eats extremely clean.

R says if the armour thyroid doesn’t help and it doesn’t lower through exercise and diet, that he will think about medicine like Lipitor. He also said if he has plaque build-up he will have to go on Ornish’s vegan diet, since it’s the only one that has been shown to reduce plaque.

I hope there is not any plaque build-up.

I want R to be around for a long time. How’s he going to keep me on my toes if he’s not here? Right now, of course, it’s just high cholesterol. We’ll have to wait to find out the other stuff.


An American gets a bit truthful with a roomful of European colleagues who are laughing at how “dumb” Bush was to send an aircraft carrier to a disaster area. The only other non-laugher was a Hindi who lost family in the disaster. Varifrank’s response was amazing.

I found it via Instapundit.

Note: When I went back to find this, I couldn’t. I found it via something else, so I want to quote it here, even though it is very long. If I can figure out why the link didn’t work, I will remove it.

Today, I was “Unprofessional”…

Over the past 6 weeks, I’ve been deeply enmeshed in one of those “go live at the end of the year” projects that we in the IT industry have learned to love. The kind where managers assume that since no one is working, why that would be the perfect time to go live!

Of course, it means that your doing complex work at the point of maximum distraction with many many holidays and no staff.

This year we had a major distraction, and I’m bothered that I described it that way.

On Christmas Day, a disaster visited the human race. Hundreds of thousands of people, quietly living their lives on the edge of the sea were killed. They were killed, not by suicide bombers or suitcase nukes or crazed men hijacking planes into buildings. They were killed with simple seawater. Those that were killed werent just simple minded fools who wandered lemming like out into the unusually low tide, only to be mowed down by the sudden flood. They were people enjoying the sights from the second story of a hotel when the ocean rose up to engulf them. The horror of it all hasnt even begun to sink in to most of us.

There is a tendancy in the western world to overlook the disasters of the third world. Unless it involves us “white folks”, the press of the western world does not seem to care or think that we do. In this disaster, one example of disgusting western depravity could be found in the many press outlets that made big news out of a “supermodel” who was (gasp!!!) harmed in the disaster. Imagine if someone on September 12th had published a report that Zsa Zsa gabor and her poodle were put out by the lack of cabs in Manhattan. It made me sick to my stomach to see this item on the news.

Today, The Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that 5,000 Americans could not be accounted for, Sweden also announced roughly the same figure for their citizens.

Now we care. And shame on us all.

Today, during an afternoon conference that wrapped up my project of the last 18 months, one of my Euro collegues tossed this little turd out to no one in particular:

” See, this is why George Bush is so dumb, theres a disaster in the world and he sends an Aircraft Carrier…”

After which he and many of my Euro collegues laughed out loud.

and then they looked at me. I wasn’t laughing, and neither was my Hindi friend sitting next to me, who has lost family in the disaster.

I’m afraid I was “unprofessional”, I let it loose –

“Hmmm, let’s see, what would be the ideal ship to send to a disaster, now what kind of ship would we want?

Something with its own inexhuastible power supply?

Something that can produce 900,000 gallons of fresh water a day from sea water?

Something with its own airfield? So that after producing the fresh water, it could help distribute it?

Something with 4 hospitals and lots of open space for emergency supplies?

Something with a global communications facility to make the coordination of disaster relief in the region easier?

Well “Franz”, us peasants in America call that kind of ship an “Aircraft Carrier”. We have 12 of them. How many do you have? Oh that’s right, NONE. Lucky for you and the rest of the world, we are the kind of people who share. Even with people we dont like. In fact, if memory serves,once upon a time we peasants spent a ton of money and lives rescuing people who we had once tried to kill and who tried to kill us.

Do you know who those people were? that’s right Franz, Europeans.

Theres is a French Aircraft carrier? where is it? Right where it belongs! In France of course! Oh why should the French Navy dirty their uniforms helping people on the other side of the globe. How Simplesse…

The day an American has to move a European out of the way to help in some part of the world it will be a great day in the world, you sniggering little f**knob…”

The room fell silent. My hindi friend then said quietly to the Euros:

“Can you let your hatred of George Bush end for just one minute? There are people dying! And what are your countries doing? Amazon.com has helped more than France has. You all have a role to play in the world, why can’t you see that? Thank God for the US Navy, they dont have to come and help, but they are. They helped you once and you should all thank God they did. They didnt have to, and no one but them would have done so. I’m ashamed of you all…”

He left the room, shaking and in tears. The frustration of being on the other side of the globe, unable to do anything to assist and faced with people who could not set aside their asininity long enough to reach out and help was too much for him to bear. I just shook my head and left. The Euros stood speechless.

Later in the breakroom, one of the laughing Euros caught me and extended his hand in an apology. I asked him where he was from, he said “a town outside of Berlin”. He is a young man, in his early 20’s.

I asked him if he knew of a man named Gail Halvorsen.

He said no.

I said “that’s a shame” and walked away to find my Hindi friend.

BBC News Misses the US

I noticed yesterday that the BBC managed to have huge articles on the tsunami disaster relief without mentioning the US. They did have to say our helicopters were there, but they didn’t state they were ours. They spent a lot of time mentioning what the UN was doing, which seems to have been having meetings.

Powerline mentioned it today in an article on the “missing navy.”

The Last Whale

It’s not that Star Trek movie you saw years ago. It’s real. A certain type of whale appears to be the last of its kind.

“For the last 12 years, a single solitary whale whose vocalizations match no known living species has been tracked across the Northeast Pacific. Its wanderings match no known migratory patterns of any living whale species. Its vocalizations have also subtly deepened over the years, indicating that the whale is maturing and ageing. And, during the entire 12 year span that it has been tracked, it has been calling out for contact from others of its own kind.

It has received no answer. Nor will it ever.”

For more information, including where you can hear it and what the tones are, go to The Loneliest Mystery of the Deep (Science).

New Species

BBC: Nov. 23
Some 13,000 new marine species have been discovered in the past year by an international survey project

Tsunami Interesting Read

Chrenkoff has some great stuff on the tsunami, in terms of disastrous quotes, info, aid, etc. January 10 and backwards.

Note: This isn’t a fun fact, nor is it US. Not quizzes and info. Not really life, which I am thinking about collapsing. I wonder which category it should be in.

How to Blog

Evangelical Outpost has a great series of blogs, as noted in Hugh Hewitt’s new book .

I’ve discussed blogging before and really, I use this as a commonplace book. It’s an old American tradition of recording what and when or where something was said that caught your attention and you might want to remember someday.

Then you won’t be leading a discussion and have to say “that scientist guy in his 80s who decided there has to be an intelligent design behind the world” because you don’t remember where you read the dang thing.

If you’re interested in what I’m interested in, it’ll be fun for you. Otherwise, it’s a bit of a waste.

Review: On Basilisk Station

On Basilisk Station begins the story of Honor Harrington, whose tale can be traced through multiple books. Honor Harrington is a member of the Royal Manticoran Navy, the space navy that is. In fact, she is one of their best and brightest, although in this book she is a low ranking officer who has been exiled to an end-of-career station because she couldn’t make a new weapon work better than it was able to in exercises.

When she arrives, her whole crew is sulking and her immediate superior decides to hand her total responsibility for a situation that calls for five ships, while she only has one. Honor Harrington, however, does not know the meaning of the expression “can’t” and she insists on carrying out her orders. This must-be-done attitude whips her crew into shape and sends them scurrying all over the system to cover their responsibilities without a full complement of ships.

Despite the handicap, they do such a great job that they discover a problem no one knew about. A BIG problem. With one ship and more work than five ships could do, how will they solve the problem? Only Honor knows. And I’m not telling.

Note: This review was written in 1999 for a soon-to-be defunct website.

Books I’ve Read: 8-13

This post gives books 1-7 that I’ve read. I’ve read some more since then.

A Short History of the Early Church by Harry R. Boer is a good short reference to the early church. The weird thing is the Greek philosophy in the book, which says that God can’t suffer. Apparently this guy thinks the Greek gods weren’t god? Don’t know. It’s possible the elite believed one thing and the general people another. The stuff that I knew about was accurate in the book.

Christine Wenger’s The Cowboy Way is a romance book I read. I expected it to be a continuation of another book, but it wasn’t. I have a theory on that and romance books. I’ll get back to that later.

Judy Duarte wrote Hailey’s Hero which I’ve also read. I liked it, but not enough to read it again.

I also read A Father, Again by Mary J. Forbes. It’s a very sweet story.

I also read Forgotten Son by Linda Warren. It’s a continuation of a story, but it’s been a long time since the last one. And it set up the next one, but that one’s probably going to be a long time coming.

Right now I am finishing a book I have re-read many, many times. At least 10. It’s by David Weber. On Basilisk Station is the first in the Honor Harrington series which has made Weber a best selling author. I recommended the book to my son and thought I should re-read it to check and make sure he could read it. It’s better this time, even though I know what’s coming. I actually remember when I first bought the book. I’d read it in the bookstore and decided to buy it. I got the book and read it at home. Then I called the publisher. Chapter 27, the pivotal chapter, the most heart-stopping, throat full chapter, was missing from my book. They sent me another and I sent this one back. –So if you read it before and thought it was missing something, maybe it was.

That’s one history book, one sci fi, and four romance novels. They’re fast reads, and easy. Sometimes I get in the mood for happy endings and romance novels always provide that. You can’t count on that with sci fi. Don’t look to Greg Bear or David Feintuch to give you happy endings.

Geography Saves Lives

With the help of a ten year old who paid attention in class. Tilly Smith told the grown-ups what it meant when the water washed away from their Phuket, Thailand resort. Because she did, 100 people, who didn’t recognize the phenomenon, were saved.