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Posts published by “taidoka”

Camp Nano April 2021, Day 3

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dakota skull small

Day 3, just under 600 words, still behind. A lot of today was spent on planning the scene.

Rough draftiness, with Dakota infiltrating a church using her magic tattoos:

My eyelids flickered as the orchid petals infiltrated the lock, a jumble of images and feelings flooding back to me as the interlocking parts of the stamen column felt the tumblers. It was hard to see and “see” at the same time, much less guide the—


I drew a careful breath, then turned my hand. The petals and sepals closed on the knob and turned it, softly, and I gingerly opened the doors. My vines and their floating leaves shifted as the heavy wood parted, but did not otherwise react: no security system had been triggered.

The church was spacious, almost cavernous … but not wholly dark. An eerie blue glow filtered in from the twin rows of stained glass, but the white light glinting off the rows of pews came from a pool of spotlights, pinioning before the altar a gleaming silver coffin.

“My friend,” came a quiet Asian voice. “You should not have come here.”

Instantly I whirled 270, twisting mana up in my body, murmuring shield just as I came face to face with … a priest? A typical, nay, stereotypical long-cassocked priest, stepping from a confessional, bearing an ornate pectoral cross and carrying a gun … no … a water pistol?

“Let this be a warning to you,” he said, and fired. “Begone!”

Writing every day.

-the Centaur


Day 088

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architect sketch

Quick Sharpie sketch of the friend from high school mentioned in the last blogpost. Image and name withheld as he is apparently not a public figure, but nonetheless [your name "greenville"] found them anyway. The sketch is ... okay. A little cartoony - the real person's jaw is a bit rounder.

Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 084

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hilbert sketch

Semi-quick sketch of David Hilbert. Face is a bit squnched to one side, and I could have put in more work on the wrinkles. But frankly, the original picture is dark enough under that hat that it's hard to interpret, and it's late and I'm tired, so I just went with it instead. More tomorrow.

hilbert picture

It’s been a long time since I’ve thrown a book …

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chuck that junk

Yeah, so that happened on my attempt to get some rest on my Sabbath day.

I'm not going to cite the book - I'm going to do the author the courtesy of re-reading the relevant passages to make sure I'm not misconstruing them, but I'm not going to wait to blog my reaction - but what caused me to throw this book, an analysis of the flaws of the scientific method, was this bit:

Imagine an experiment with two possible outcomes: the new theory (cough EINSTEIN) and the old one (cough NEWTON). Three instruments are set up. Two report numbers consistent with the new theory; the third one, missing parts, possibly configured improperly and producing noisy data, matches the old.

Wow! News flash: any responsible working scientist would say these results favored the new theory. In fact, if they were really experienced, they might have even thrown out the third instrument entirely - I've learned, based on red herrings from bad readings, that it's better not to look too closely at bad data.

What did the author say, however? Words to the effect: "The scientists ignored the results from the third instrument which disproved their theory and supported the original, and instead, pushing their agenda, wrote a paper claiming that the results of the experiment supported their idea."

Pushing an agenda? Wait, let me get this straight, Chester Chucklewhaite: we should throw out two results from well-functioning instruments that support theory A in favor of one result from an obviously messed-up instrument that support theory B - oh, hell, you're a relativity doubter, aren't you?


I'll go back to this later, after I've read a few more sections of E. T. Jaynes's Probability Theory: The Logic of Science as an antidote.

-the Centaur

P. S. I am not saying relativity is right or wrong, friend. I'm saying the responsible interpretation of those experimental results as described would be precisely the interpretation those scientists put forward - though, in all fairness to the author of this book, the scientist involved appears to have been a super jerk.

Day 076

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fuller sketch

Quick sketch of Reginald Fuller, using pencil roughs (started upside down to get the proportions, then rotated back to normal to fix the details, which was harder than expected; the first upside down one turned out to be more useful for me to see the features and relationships, but I only got it right once I put it right side up). Then a quick render with Sakura Pigma and Micron pens and a Sharpie.

Not ... altogether bad, though it could have used another pass.

fuller picture

He, also, looks so happy.

Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 074

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Suuuper quick sketch of E. T. Jaynes with minimal roughs and one big honking Sharpie, rescued from a bad shading attempt by tracing over my own drawing, and them I'm like, hey, I can leave the tracing paper over the original attempt and that gives me my grey layer. Didn't quite get the head tilt:

jaynes picture

Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 072

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xiao at golden gate

It's late and I'm tired and want to get to bed early, so here's a suuuper quick sketch of Xiao from f@nu fiku hanging out at a bridge of some kind. (She's up in the cables, goofing around over a vast drop, because she is insanely acrobatic and unafraid of heights, living as she does on a lighthouse cantilevered out over a sheer cliff face).

Drawing (well, sketching) every day.

-the Centaur

Day 071

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hofstadter sketch

What started to a quick sketch ended up with me pulling out all the stops so I didn't have to stay up to 4:30 in the morning. Roughed with a 2B pencil on Strathmore 9x12 Toned Tan, then inked with Sakura Micron pens, with shading and white highlights with Winsor-Newton Hard, Medium and White Charcoal plus a little 2B and final outlining with a Sakura Pigma brush pen. I like doing renderings on toned paper as you can go up to white and down to dark, giving you more ways to push the drawing. The face still is too wide, and is missing something, compared to the source image (credited to Maurizio Codogno):

[caption id="attachment_5096" align="alignnone" width="600"]hofstadter image Douglas Hofstadter in Bologna, Italy - 06 March 2002[/caption]

Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

The Bible as Primary Source

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josephus headshot

Growing up in the Bible Belt meant that many of my friends didn't just believe that the Bible was divinely inspired, they believed it was literally true and argued - sometimes, strongly argued - that accepting the Bible as the infallible Word of God was absolutely necessary for salvation.

There's a great Christian word for that point of view: idolatry.

Biblical idolatry, to be specific: worshipping the Bible instead of Jesus. As I said when I started this series, Christianity is about following Jesus (faith), away from your old life (repentance), and towards the kingdom of heaven (goodness), in the hope of salvation (only accomplished by his sacrifice and grace).

Placing the Bible, a book - a collection of books, in three different languages, by dozens of authors, over centuries, collated by a completely different group of people - as the center of your religion is placing an thing - a divinely inspired thing, perhaps, but a thing - in place of Jesus God, and distorts Christianity.

Treating the Bible like a fax from God gets you so caught up in the buzzing of the machinery that you miss the message. People I respect get lost mining the minutiae of the Bible, combing through their  Interlinear Bibles to construct their own elaborate castles in the air in favor of simply following Jesus.

But how do you get to know Jesus if you don't know the Bible? You don't, full stop. Yes, you can - and should - read the Apostle's Creed, which summarizes what Christians have learned about Jesus, as approved by the descendants of his own apostles - who have evolved into our modern bishops.

But for us today - and even when the Apostle's Creed reached essentially its current form, 700 years after Jesus died - we must rely on the Bible to tell us who Jesus was. While the Church has traditions about Jesus not recorded in the Bible, even the Church itself doesn't consider these very reliable.

So we're stuck with the Bible to get to know Jesus - which is as it should be, scientifically (if you include history in the "sciences," writ large, which I do) because the New Testament of the Bible is the only extended primary source material we have about Jesus's life.

Before we drill into that, here's a question: Do you believe George Washington cut down a cherry tree?

If so, shame on your primary school history teachers, because it very likely didn't happen. The cherry tree myth was invented 7 years after George Washington's death - and almost 70 years after the alleged incident - by an early biographer, who didn't even include it until the book's fifth edition.

That doesn't mean it didn't happen - but if it had happened, it probably would have been mentioned in the writings of Washington or people who knew him. But the story was first told after everyone who could verify it was dead, by a biographer out to show Washington's success was due to his "Great Virtues."

Historians prefer not to use that kind of second-hand evidence (though, if all else is lacking, they'll grit their teeth and soldier on). They prefer to use primary sources - documents and diaries, art and artifacts, recordings and records that were directly created in the time of study, preferably by the people involved.

Put another way, if you want to know what George Washington thought, you need to look at what he actually said and did. Speculating about what he might have thought or did can be interesting, but unless that speculation can be tied back to actual documents about Washington ... you're just making it up.

In the same vein, students of the "historical Jesus" hunted for writings about Him by His contemporaries, and found only a handful: a few references in the historians Josephus and Tacitus written around AD 90 and AD 115, and just possibly some in the Talmud, collected around 200 from older oral traditions.

All these recount narratives that are brief and generally second- or third-hand. These primary sources let us know that Jesus existed. But if you want to know more about Jesus's life - whether you're a historian or a Christian or both - and you're looking for primary sources, the Bible is it.

We don't need to imagine that the Bible is an infallible fax from God in order to recognize we need to treat its words with utmost respect. If you wanted to learn what George Washington wrote in his diary, you wouldn't make a new diary entry up, now would you? The same is true of the Bible.

There are hundreds of manuscripts of the Old Testament and thousands of the New Testament, with many discrepancies; but this is where we start. I prefer the New Oxford Annotated Bible, others prefer the Interlinear; to help interpret them, I use histories like Ehrman's and Anglican and Catholic catechisms.

Jesus is God. Jesus lived as a human being. The Bible was written by human beings who were met and moved by Him, and was preserved by people who were following in His example of reading and sharing the Scriptures. We don't need to deify the Book; we need to look through it to the God behind it.

-the Centaur

Pictured: a primary source, in this case a 1st-century bust alleged to be Josephus, a historian born shortly after Jesus died, and who wrote about him while Jesus's contemporaries were still living. Whoa. Timing-wise, that'd be like ... like a picture of me in my 60's, if I had written a biography of JFK.

Coming Home

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This week has been so bad I feel like I'm under spiritual attack. It was supposed to be a vacation, but both my cats got sick, I got sick myself, and I had to work in the middle of it. I feel like the protagonist of a Neil Gaiman story I read in M is For Magic where a black cat is protecting a home from supernatural assault.

But now both of my cats are coming home. Gabby, the gold guy above, comes home tonight after a serious asthma attack, and Loki is already home after a serious urinary tract blockage.

Here's hoping two cats and prayers put things back on track.

-the Centaur