Archive for the ‘stuff’ Category

KJV Only

KJV Only (1930- ) is the belief that the King James or Authorized Version of the Bible (KJV/AV) is the only English translation that can be trusted. The key word is “only”. The KJV is not merely the “most” trustworthy English translation – but the “only” one! At least in this age.

Trying to separate the arguments that actual KJV Onlyists make from the straw man arguments of their opponents:

The argument goes like this, as I currently understand it:

  1. The Bible is the Word of God.
  2. God promised to preserve his word for each generation, not just for certain periods of history. For example, Psalm 12:6-7 says:

    “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”

  3. Therefore the Bible is what has been passed down through the ages. Not what can only be found in manuscripts lost for hundreds of years.
  4. Therefore the Majority Text, based on what the majority of manuscripts say, should be favoured. Not the Critical Text, which is based on the oldest manuscripts, a text that is constantly updated as lost manuscripts are discovered.
  5. The KJV translates the Textus Receptus, a Majority Text. Nearly all other current English Bibles – like the NIV, ESV, NRSV, NAB, TLB, etc – translate the Nestle-Aland/UBS (NU), a Critical Text.
  6. Therefore the KJV only is the word of God in English.

In short: the KJV is what has come down to us (in the English-speaking world) through the ages. Literally. Therefore it is what God has promised to preserve as his word.

The Critical Text currently leaves out Mark 16:9-20 (where Jesus rises from the dead and talks about snakes), John 7:53-8:11 (where Jesus saves an adulteress from stoning) and more than a dozen other verses, like Acts 8:37, and parts of dozens more, like Luke 4:4 (see my post on the ESV for more such verses). If you have memorized one of the affected verses of the King James, it can be pretty horrifying seeing it (or not seeing it) in a modern translation.

The Majority Text: the Textus Receptus (TR) is a Majority Text, but there are others, like the one used by the Eastern Orthodox Church. The two most notable non-majority readings in the KJV are 1 John 5:7-8 (the Johannine Comma) and, ironically, Revelation 22:19. These seem to be outright mistakes! I will do a separate post on the Johannine Comma.

Near, but no beer: The NKJV and the MEV also translate the Textus Receptus. But KJV Onlyists find fault with them too, based on their translation of words. That said, the NKJV does seem to be a gateway drug to KJV Onlyism (maybe because of its footnotes).

The future: KJV Onlyists seem to understand that a clearly better English translation might come along one of these centuries. But part of the KJV’s appeal is its age, archaic language, and fixed, unchanging text – useful qualities for any book that claims to offer the wisdom of the ages.

– Abagond, 2021.

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Salafists in Tunisia in 2012.

Salafism (by 1900) is a fundamentalist form of Sunni Islam. Some Salafists are Islamists (believing in political Islam), some are jihadists (believing in violent Islam), but most are quietists. What Salafists or Salafis all have in common is wanting to Make Islam Great Again by following the example of their namesake, al-salaf al-salih, the “pious forefathers” of the first 200 years or so of Islam. For jihadists that means bringing back the Caliphate, the Muslim empire.

Examples: Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, the Wahhabist rulers of Saudi Arabia. Maybe 6% of Egyptians.

Note: Salafists hardly have a monopoly on violence or protest. The Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood, for example, are not mainly Salafist. Most jihadists these days, though, do seem to be Salafists, but it is hardly a requirement. You can be Sufi and jihadist, for example.

Location: not just in Muslim-majority countries, but also in Western nations like the US, UK, and the Netherlands. And even in China – not just among the Hui, a Muslim ethnic group, but even among Han Chinese converts.

Follow the money: Saudi oil money is poured into Salafist mosques, madrasas (religious schools), and extremist groups.

Beliefs: Islam is corrupt and threatened by secularism. Muslims need to return to their roots, to go back to the Islam of the 800s: the Koran and the Sunna (the words and actions of Muhammad), and the example of:

Al-salaf al-salih (pious forefathers) include Muhammad and his Companions, their Successors, and the Successors of the Successors – roughly the years 622 to 855 AD (or 1 to 241 AH, up to the death of legal scholar Ahmad ibn Hanbal).

Mythic Past: Fundamentalists, whether Muslim, Christian or Jew, see themselves as returning to a Mythic Past. But their stripped-down, strict, literalist, purist form of religion probably never was. They are not “stuck in the past” – they are trying to recreate it! But their understanding of religion was rare before 1900. Fundamentalism seems to be a reaction to modernity and secularism.

  • for: sharia law, the veil, beards, long white robes.
  • against: Shias, Sufis, Coptic Christians, interest payments, alcohol, religious innovations.
  • maybe: terrorism – some condemn it, others practise it.

The three main kinds of Salafists:

  1. activists – believe in protest and politics to effect change. Kuwait, Egypt and Tunisia have Salafist politicians. Their big thing is sharia law. The political compromises needed to get anything done, though, can make them look like sell-outs. The Arab Spring of 2011 was their shining moment. After that failed, some activists became:
  2. jihadists – believe in holy war to bring back the Caliphate. The ISIS Caliphate of 2014-17 in Iraq and Syria was their shining moment. Trying to make a comeback in Afghanistan.
  3. quietists – leave it in God’s hands, not those of hotheads. They feel vindicated by the failure of ISIS and the Arab Spring. They favour preaching and religious education. And obeying the government no matter how crooked or tyrannical. Yet disgust with government seems to be part of what drives Salafism.

Most Salafists are quietists, but, almost by definition, they are not the ones who make the news.

– Abagond, 2021.

Sources: The Week (2019); Brookings (2016); The Economist (2015); Open Democracy (2012); “Encyclopedia of Islam” (2009) by Juan E. Campo.

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punctuation: a brief history

Trajan’s Column, 117 AD.

Punctuation through the years (using the same English text):

117 AD: The Roman alphabet had been invented (except for J, U and W), but not spaces between words:


The Library of Alexandria in the -200s had invented the counterpart to our comma, colon and period (full stop), but it did not catch on. Public speaking mattered way more than reading or writing. No one expected reading to be easy.



400s: The Roman Empire had been taken over by a cult based on a holy book – the Bible. Reading mattered. And paper was now much smoother – made of parchment not papyrus. Letters became smaller, more rounded, easier to read. And two bits of punctuation start to catch on: the space to show the end of a sentence or verse, and a raised dot, an early colon (shown here as a modern colon):

Andiesusansuueredhimsaying:itisuurittenthatmanshallnotliveby breadalonebutbyeueryuuordofgod


600s: The space ( ) is invented by Irish and Scottish monks. What geniuses! Reading was no longer a game of WordSearch:

And iesus ansuuered him saying: it is uuritten that man shall not live by bread alone but by euery uuord of god


800s: The period (.) starts to become common:

And iesus ansuuered him saying: it is uuritten that man shall not live by bread alone but by euery uuord of god.





1300s: Arabic numerals: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

1400s: upper and lower-case letters (not just large letters at the beginning of sentences or paragraphs), the letter w, and exclamation marks!

And Iesus answered him saying: it is written that man shall not live by bread alone but by euery word of God.

1500s: Commas (,), semicolons (;), colons (:) and periods (.) to show pauses of increasing length, not syntax or grammar. And capitalization to show quoted text. This is just how they are used in the King James Bible to this day (thus its strange use of colons and semicolons).

And Iesus answered him, saying, It is written, that man shall not liue by bread alone, but by euery word of God.

Also: the apostrophe (‘) to show that letters have been dropped: can’t, couldn’t.

1600s: Question mark (?). And italics, a typeface invented by Aldus Manutius in 1500, now regularly used to show emphasis.

1700s: Now j’s and v’s appear as letters separate from i and u:

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.


  • an apostrophe (‘) to show possessive s: “Seward’s folly”, etc.
  • And the dollar sign ($) by the 1770s.


1900s: Quotation marks (“) go back to the late 1600s, but do not begin to appear in Bibles till the middle 1900s:

And Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'”

By 1927 there were already air quotes.

By 1955, “10%” becomes more common than “10 per cent” or “10 percent”.

2000s: emojis – on the Internet but not (yet in 2021) in books or formal writing.

– Abagond, 2021.

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Islamic State, Khorasan Province (2015- ) is also known in English as:

  • ISIS-K (CNN, NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, ABC News, Yahoo, Democracy Now, President Biden).
  • ISKP (Economist, Guardian, Aljazeera).
  • IS-K (BBC, CSIS).
  • ISIL-KP  (Wikipedia, UN).

By whatever name, it is the branch of the Islamic State or ISIS in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. They are the ones who bombed the Kabul airport last week (on August 26th 2021), killing up to 170.

In 2017 when President Trump dropped the Mother of all Bombs in Afghanistan, it was dropped on ISIS-K.

Khorasan: They call the region Khorasan, the name it had during the glory days of the Caliphate (Muslim empire) that they want to bring back. The name also calls to mind the words of the Prophet Muhammad:

“If you see the black banners coming from Khurasan, join that army, even if you have to crawl over ice; no power will be able to stop them. And they will finally reach Baitul Maqdis [Jerusalem], where they will erect their flags.”

Size: 1,000 to 10,000, made up of Afghans, Arabs, Pakistanis, and others. As ISIS lost ground in Iraq and Syria, some of its fighters joined the Khorasan branch. So have some of the more extreme members of the Taliban. ISIS-K recruits veteran jihadists and alienated Muslim youth in the cities. From 2015 to 2020, the US killed many of their leaders and kept their numbers in check.

Tactics: Bombings mainly, even suicide bombings. Assassination and kidnapping too. Aims to create doubt and uncertainty about the government and other fighting forces.

Targets: police, military, government, journalists, aid workers, Shia Muslim schoolgirls, even maternity wards. Mainly in eastern Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan, India and (so far unsuccessfully) Europe.

Enemies: Taliban, Shia Muslims, the West.

  • It wants Afghanistan as a beach head for the Caliphate. The Taliban, who took it over in 2021, are not jihadists but “filthy nationalists” who sold out to (= made peace with) the West in “posh hotels” in Doha, Qatar. The Taliban outnumbers ISIS-K by at least 7 to 1. But in the past ISIS-K was mainly kept in check by US air power. If the Taliban asks the US for help, it will be a propaganda victory for ISIS-K.
  • Their terrorist attack in Europe in 2018 was thwarted.
  • It wants to lift “the Black Banner above Jerusalem and the White House”.

Funding: ISIS, and presumably smuggling: they are based in Nangarhar, near where drugs and people are smuggled in and out of Pakistan.

Ideology: Salafist and jihadist: They want to fight a holy war to restore the Muslim world to its glory days of the Caliphate in the 600s, militarily and spiritually. The appeal is to a Mythic Past: Make Islam Great Again. They want to return to the old-old-time religion, which they imagine as fundamentalist, strict and pure. In fact, fundamentalism was rare before 1900. Sees the Taliban as too soft on Shia Muslims, but ISIS-K’s strict sharia laws do not seem to win hearts and minds among mom-and-pop Afghans.

– Abagond, 2021.

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“The Underground Railroad” (2021) is a 10-part television show on Amazon Prime directed by Barry Jenkins, based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Colson Whitehead. The book won a Pulitzer Prize, the highest literary prize in the US. Jenkins himself won an Oscar for “Moonlight” (2016).

I felt bludgeoned. And after I read the book, I felt cheated. It is beautifully filmed, though. Even terror-stricken, ragged slaves in flight look like a work of art. But the book is way better.

Our story: Cora (Thuso Mbedu), a slave woman in Georgia in the 1850s, runs away and takes the Undergroud Railroad, which in this alternate-universe US is an actual railroad that runs under the ground. Each state she goes through is itself an alternate-universe US:

  • Georgia – as in US history
  • South Carolina – technology replaces slavery, White people are nice to Black people, but there is a dark underside.
  • North Carolina – taken over by a religious cult that has ethnically cleansed the state of Black people.
  • Tennessee – a land of ashes and plague, divine poetic justice for the Trail of Tears that ran right through it.
  • Indiana – freedom! Blacks are told to pull themselves up by their  bootstraps – until they do!

Most of the story is cat-and-mouse between Cora and a cartoonishly evil slave catcher, Ridgeway.

A White-friendly adaptation: When you read the book you can see what Jenkins cut out. For example: almost anything Cora had to say about the US, the Declaration of Independence, God, or the Bible. She saw Blacks as a stolen people on stolen land – that does not come across in the film at all.  Nearly all references to Native Americans are stripped out. So too what Cora had to say about being behind glass as part of a museum exhibit (pictured above). Ridgeway’s childhood merits a whole episode, with additional material added by Jenkins, while Cora’s childhood is reduced to flashbacks. Even the New Yorker noticed!

The Silent Suffering Hero beautifully film – as in “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018), so this story too is structured as a beautifully-filmed suffering hero who says little. So much so that Cora is dumbed down and is pretty much made into an overgrown abused child. Much of the film comes down to the feelings of fear and sadness shown by her face and shoulders. It is not clear to me whether Jenkins knows the difference between empathy and pity.

My favourite scene comes in Indiana when she lives on a farm with other free Blacks. Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” plays. She and her man Royal are about to make love. She was so happy it broke my heart because I knew Jenkins was about to sweep it all away. Brutally. And so he did.

Black trauma porn? Jenkins says he makes his films for Black people, to tell them, “We can make it. We have made it. Don’t give up!” Light at the end of the tunnel – in this story, literally.

– Abagond, 2021.

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Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman?


Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

– Sojourner Truth, 1851.

Source: National Park Service.

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The Underground Railroad

Click to enlarge. (Via the National Park Service)

The Underground Railroad (c. 1830-61) was a network of safe houses in the US that helped runaway slaves. At its height in the 1850s it helped them reach Canada, Mexico, Haiti, Jamaica, the Seminoles in Florida, the Great Dismal Swamp – wherever the writ of the US government did not run. Because it was a secret network, no one knows how many people it freed, but it seems to have been at least tens of thousands.

Sadly, there were no actual railroads that ran underground! Even New York City’s subway did not start becoming sub till 1904. It was just a way of talking about it. And so it had conductors, like Harriet Tubman, passengers, parcels, stations, stationmasters, agents, lines, etc. Sometimes you would take an actual railroad as part of the journey, but it would be above ground.

The journey could take days, weeks or months. On foot you might make only 100 miles (160 km) a week. Or less, if you had to hide out in the woods or a swamp for a long time. Or lay low at a safe house till it was safe to move on to the next one.

Passengers: these tended to be men in their 20s from border states – slave states like Kentucky and Maryland that bordered free states. And not just border states, but mainly the northern counties and big cities of those states. Women were mostly unmarried or travelled with their children. While nearly all slaves wanted to be free (there were exceptions), most were pushed into running away by cruel physical abuse or the threat of being sold. Some men left their wives and children behind and remarried. Others tried to get them to freedom, sometimes even returning South to do it.

Quakers ran many of the safe houses. Unlike most White Christians, they were dead-set against slavery.

Vigilance committees were the masterminds of the railroad. They raised money, put you up in a safe house, bought tickets, sent telegrams, gave directions, made sure someone other than the police or a slave catcher would meet you at the next destination, etc.

Sewing societies sewed clothes for runaways so that they did not look like slaves! Women also sewed things to raise money through anti-slavery bazaars.

Fugitive slave narratives – some abolitionists thought that helping runaways took too much time, attention and money away from the real fight: bringing down the system of slavery! Why help thousands when you can help millions? But the stories of flesh-and-blood runaways mattered. They countered Southern propaganda about its slaves being “the happiest and best cared for laboring population in the world” (Richmond Whig, 1857).

History: There have always been people willing to help desperate runaway slaves, especially when brought face-to-face with one. But they did not start working together as a network till the 1830s. With the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the US government made it a crime to help runaways and was helping slave owners to catch slaves! It meant that reaching a “free” state was no longer enough – to be truly free you had to leave the US.

– Abagond, 2021.

Sources: mainly “Gateway to Freedom” (2015) by Eric Foner.

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Khorasan (خراسان)

Khorasan (200s- ) or Khurasan, also known as خراسان in Arabic and Persian, 烏萇國 or Wūcháng in Chinese, is a historical region of Central Asia. It takes in Tajikistan, most of Afghanistan, half of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and north-eastern Iran. In Persian it means “The Land of the Sun”, meaning the east where the sun rises, and was long the name of the eastern-most part of the Persian and then Arab Empires.

Maps: The name  appears on maps of both the original Caliphate (the Arab Empire), and of ISIS’s proposed future Caliphate:

The name made the news this week after a grisly bombing at the Kabul airport where thousands are trying to flee Afghanistan after its fall to the Taliban. The bombing was claimed by ISIS-K or ISKP: Islamic State, Khorasan Province.

Osama bin Laden also called the place Khorasan. In 1996 he announced he had found:

“a safe base … in the high Hindu Kush mountains in Khorasan.”

According to Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization:

“Jihadists deny the legitimacy of most modern nation states; they prefer using historical terms, typically the ones that were used during the time of the great Caliphates (which is obviously what they want to go back to).”

But it is way more than just that:

The prophecy: The Prophet Muhammad in the Hadith says of the end times:

“If you see the black banners coming from Khurasan, join that army, even if you have to crawl over ice; no power will be able to stop them. And they will finally reach Baitul Maqdis [Jerusalem], where they will erect their flags.”

Some dispute that he actually said that, but pious Muslims presumably believe it.

The Black Flags of Khorasan: in chronological order:

  • The Abbasids, who took over the Arab Empire from the Arabs in 132 AH (750 AD), began in Khorasan – with black flags.
  • The mujahideen who fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s flew black flags.
  • Al Qaeda started in Afghanistan with a black flag.
  • Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon Bomber, had on his YouTube playlist “The Emergence of Prophecy: The Black Flags of Khorasan”.
  • ISIS has a black flag.

And no doubt there have been others. The thing becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

The Taliban uses a white flag and does not have clear designs of uniting the Muslim world in a new Caliphate as the Arab Empire did of old.

ISKP or ISIS-K sees the Taliban as namby-pamby even if the Taliban is, for now, the much stronger fighting force.

A bit of history, etc: Khorasan in time broke away from the Arab Empire and was independent from 821 to 999. Later it fell under Ghaznavid, Seljuq, and then Khwarezm-Shah rule. Genghis Khan took it over in 1200, Tamerlane in 1383. Marco Polo travelled there in 1271, Ibn Batuta in 1333 – when Herat (now in western Afghanistan) was its main city. The Silk Road ran right through Khorasan.

  • poets:  Omar Khayyam (1048-1131), Rumi (1207-1273), and Navoi (1441-1501).
  • non-poets: Avicenna, al-Khwarizmi (father of algebra).
  • languages: Persian, Kurdish and Turkish languages,
  • religion: Sunni Islam.
  • cities: Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, Samarkhand, Mashhad, Merv, Nishapur, Balkh, and Bukhara.

– Abagond, 2021.

Sources: Google Images and my last free articles at Time, Washington Post, Encyclopedia Britannica.

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New Testament manuscripts

Papyrus 64, aka the Magdalen papyrus.

Disclaimer: I am not a Bible scholar. I have not even been to Bible school. This post merely presents my current understanding. A work in progress!

There are well over 5,000 manuscripts of the New Testament, handwritten copies of the whole New Testament or just parts (or sometimes just ragged bits of a page), made between roughly the year 100 and 1500.

The Critical Text is the scholarly reconstruction of what the original New Testament must have been, a best guess based on comparing thousands of manuscripts. The latest, greatest reconstruction, as I write this, is the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland that came out in 2012.

Text type: The thousands of manuscripts can be arranged into a vast family tree, showing who copied who. The main branches are called text types. There are three main ones:

  • Byzantine: from Antioch by way of Constantinople. This seems to be a mix of yet older text types.
  • Alexandrian: from Egypt, mainly Alexandria. Alexandrian texts tend to have more polished Greek.
  • Western: from Rome and other points west. Not many of these since the West mainly used Latin translations, not the original Greek. Also, Western texts tend to throw in explanatory verses that were not part of the original.

Many manuscripts are a mix thereof.

The history goes roughly like this:

  • 100-400: Alexandria is the biggest city of Greek-speaking Christendom. It produces the most manuscripts.
  • 400-1500: Constantinople is biggest city of Greek-speaking Christendom. It produces the most manuscripts.
  • 1500s: Western scholars (Erasmus, Stephanus and Beza) reconstruct the Greek New Testament based on available manuscripts, which are nearly all Byzantine texts of the past 500 years or so. This reconstruction is called the Textus Receptus.
  • 1600s: The King James or Authorized Version (KJV/AV) of the Bible translates the Textus Receptus.
  • 1800s: Western scholars find older manuscripts, especially in Egypt, thanks to its dry climate. Scholars Wescott and Hort favour the older readings of the Alexandrian texts in their reconstruction, which comes out in 1881. Jesus no longer rises from the dead at the end of Mark (Mark 16:9-20), nor does he save a woman caught in adultery from stoning (John 7:53-8:11). Among other things.
  • 1900s: Most new Catholic and Protestant translations into English are based on Westcott and Hort or the newer, more up-to-date Nestle-Aland reconstruction. Eastern Orthodox translations favour the Byzantine text.

So, by 2016, the Lord’s Prayer in Luke (Luke 11:2-4) gets cut back from this in the King James (using Jesus Seminar style colouring to make them easier to compare):

Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins;
for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.

To this in the ESV:

Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.

– Abagond, 2021.

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Aaliyah: Rock the Boat


She shot this video in the Bahamas. On the way back to the US, the plane crashed, killing her and eight others, August 25th 2001. Twenty years ago today.

Resquiescat in pace.

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Boy, you know
You make me float
Boy, you really get me high
I feel like I’m on dope
‘Cause you, you
Serve me on a regular
Boy, beat the tide
Let’s stroke
Before he drifted me deeper
Now he really holds me close
Lets take this over boy, now
I want you to

Rock the boat
Rock the boat
Rock the boat
Rock the boat
Work the middle
Work the middle
Work the middle
Work the middle
Change positions
Do positions
Do positions
Do positions
Stroke it for me
Stroke it for me
Stroke it for me
Stroke it for me

Ooh, baby
I love you stroke
‘Cause you, ’cause you
Get me where I’m going
I ain’t trying to get revoked
‘Cause I believe, I believe
You know just
What you doing, now
Baby, now we can coast
Let’s don’t give in a hurry
That’s too slow
Go ahead and put
That thang in overdrive


Stroke it for me
Hmm, stroke it baby
Stroke it baby
Hmm, work it baby
Work it baby
Ooh, stroke it
There is something
I want you to do

I want you to use yourself
Like you never
Ever used it before
Now explore my body
Until you reach the shore
You’ll be calling
Calling for me

[Chorus x 2]

Rock the boat
Rock the boat
Rock the boat
Rock the boat

Source: Songfacts

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From Acts 8 from the ESV website in 2021. Notice that Acts 8:37 is missing.

The English Standard Version (2001- ) or ESV is a literal, conservative Protestant translation of the Bible. It is the latest in a long line of translations that go all the way back to Tyndale and the King James or Authorized Version (KJV/AV). As of June 2021, the ESV is the third best selling Bible in the US. Only the KJV and NIV outsell it.

Sample text: Matthew 5:44 from the Sermon on the Mount:

KJV: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

ESV: But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Always up-to-date: Every five years or so they come out with a new update to match changes in English and the latest in Bible scholarship. It was updated in 2007, 2011, and 2016.

Versions: It is aimed at Evangelical Protestants, but there are also Catholic and Anglican versions (both with the Apocrypha). The Augustine Bible is the Catholic version, used by churches in the UK and India. Even the Gideons, who put Bibles in hotel rooms, have their own version (they changed some 50 verses).

Compared to the RSV, which it updates, it gets rid of the all the thee’s and thou’s (which the RSV used when addressing God) and made the language more gender neutral. It keeps the sexism of the original Greek and Hebrew text, but gets rid of the needless sexism that the RSV translators added.

Compared to the NIV, the ESV is more literal. That makes it better for Bible study and learning verses, but harder to read and understand. The NIV is also aimed at Evangelical Protestants.

Compared to the KJV, its language and scholarship are way more up-to-date while trying to keep to the same literary level as the KJV, the same sort of sound when read out loud in church. It preserves Tyndale’s phrasing, like “Man shall not live by bread alone”. But it is different enough that it is hard to follow along in an extended passage if your church uses the KJV or NKJV.

Not only has the English language changed in the past 400 years, so has the number of manuscripts that have been discovered. The KJV was based on maybe 25 manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. The ESV and NIV are based on over 5,000, some way older than anything the KJV used. That has led to:

Missing verses: From the point of view of KJV enthusiasts, the ESV has dropped more than a dozen verses and parts of dozens more. Among them:

  • Bracketed verses: Mark 16:9-20, John 7:53-8:11.
  • Missing verses:
    • Matthew 12:47, 17:21, 18:11, 23:14,
    • Mark 7:16, 9:44, 9:46, 11:26, 15:28
    • Luke 17:36, 23:17,
    • John 5:4
    • Acts 8:37, 15:34, 24:7, 28:29
    • Romans 16:24.
  • Parts of verses missing:
    • Matthew 5:44, 6:13, 19:9, 26:45,
    • Mark 9:29, 9:49, 10:24, 13:33
    • Luke 4:4, 4;8, 9:55, 11:2, 11:4, 11:11,
    • John 5:3, 7:8,
    • Acts 24:6, 24:8,
    • Romans 8:1,
    • 1 Corinthians 11:24,
    • Colossians 1:14.

Why: These do not always appear in the oldest manuscripts, so scholars and most modern Protestant and Catholic translations drop them. Sometimes they appear in the footnotes, sometimes not. “Modern” means since 1881.

The Gideon Bible restored these.

ESV enthusiasts say that none of these verses affect core Christian doctrines.

– Abagond, 2021.

See also:


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How to write like Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov wrote 468 books and became one of the three greatest science fiction writers of the late 1900s. His best-known book is probably “I, Robot” (1950). On the other hand, few of his books have made the jump to second editions and are now slowly disappearing from libraries as I write this in the 2020s.

Some tips based on his own advice as well as observations made by me and others:

  1. Write every day. Whether you feel like it or not. He did not believe in writer’s block. After all, his father ran a candy store in Brooklyn and never suffered from “shopkeeper’s block”. Asimov got up at 6am and worked from 10am till 8 or 10pm, Sunday to Saturday – about 80 hours a week. But he did more than simply write: he was his own secretary, typist, proofreader, research assistant, literary agent, and did most of the work of an editor. But even so, he still produced about 1,800 published words a day.
  2. Avoid distractions. His window in Manhattan faced a brick wall.
  3. Get plenty of sleep. When he sat down to write, the words just flowed. He thinks that is partly because his mind did most of the work subconsciously. What others might call a muse.
  4. Be your own typist. Something he had in common with Tolkien.
  5. Write in a clear, simple, informal style. Use short words and short sentences. Do not try for literary effects. Being clear matters way more. This was a huge reason he could write so much. That and his workaholism. Therefore:
  6. Do not listen to critics. Instead: Do you.
  7. Write what interests you.
  8. Write more than one thing at a time. He worked on three to nine books at a time. That way if he hit a brick wall with one, he could move on to another one.
  9. No outlines. Instead think out the beginning and end and let the middle take care of itself.
  10. Know your English: spelling, grammar, vocabulary. They are the tools of the trade. “Someone who can’t use a saw and hammer doesn’t turn out stately furniture.”
  11. Read, read, read! Asimov recommends Dickens, Twain, and Wodehouse. Read writers you admire. “Read them, and others, but with attention. They represent your schoolroom. Observe what they do and try to figure out why they do it. It’s no use other people explaining it to you; until you see it for yourself and it becomes part of you, nothing will help.”
  12. Practice, practice, practice! There are parts of writing you can only learn by doing.
  13. Be patient. It takes time to be good enough to be published. But to get there you have to slog through all the rejections first. Do not give up! If you are meant to be a published writer (not everyone is) you will get there sooner or later. But:
  14. Do not quit your day job! Most writers, unfortunately, do make enough to live on. Even for Asimov it took 20 years (!!!) from the first story he sold till he quit his day job.

– Abagond, 2021.

Sources: especially Google Images, Dr Patricia Farrell, Jente Ottenburghs, New York Times archive, “Hints” (1979) by Isaac Asimov.

See also:


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Run to Jesus


The song begins at about the 5:56 minute mark.

Run to Jesus, shun the danger
I don’t expect to stay much longer here

This is the song that gave Frederick Douglass the idea to become a runaway slave:

“‘Run to Jesus’ … was a favorite air, and had a double meaning. In the lips of some, it meant the expectation of a speedy summons to a world of spirits; but, in the lips of our company, it simply meant, a speedy pilgrimage toward a free state, and deliverance from all the evils and dangers of slavery.”

Many religious songs that Black people sang in slave times had double meanings like that.

The famous version of this song (meaning the one White cultural leaders in New York knew) was sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, but I cound not find it on YouTube, not even by the present-day Jubilee Singers.

See also:


Run to Jesus, shun the danger
I don’t expect to stay much longer here
Run to Jesus, shun the danger
I don’t expect to stay much longer here

He will be our dearest friend
And will help us to the end
I don’t expect to stay much longer here

Run to Jesus, shun the danger
I don’t expect to stay much longer here

Oh I thought i heard ‘em say
There were lions in the way
I don’t expect to say much longer here

Run to Jesus, shun the danger
I don’t expect to stay much longer here

Many mansions there will be
One for you and one for me
I don’t expect to stay much longer here

Run to Jesus, shun the danger
I don’t expect to stay much longer here
Run to Jesus, shun the danger
I don’t expect to stay much longer here

Source: Andrew Calhoun, “My Bondage and Freedom” (1855) by Frederick Douglass.

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The Slaveholder’s Bible

Carrying out God’s will, circa 1840. Via Fine Art America.

The Bible is a long book, but fortunately only two passages matter and override all the rest:

1. The Curse of Ham (Genesis 9:18-27):

18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. 19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread. 20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. 24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

The descendants of Ham have long since overspread Africa. It is God’s will that Africans be “the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water” (Deuteronomy 29:11), the slaves of non-Africans forever and ever. A race cursed by God.

2. Obedience of slaves (Ephesians 6:5-8):

5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Verse 6: “the will of God”!

God’s plan for Africans: No less an authority than Stephen Elliott, Episcopal Bishop of Georgia (from 1841 to 1866), says that slavery brings Christ to Africans as part of God’s Providential plan:

“For nearly a hundred years the English and American Churches have been striving to civilize and Christianize Western Africa, and with what result? … thousands, nay, I may say millions … have learned the way to Heaven and who have been made to know their Savior through the means of African slavery!”

Millions of Africans in the US were:

“learning the very best lessons for a semi-barbarous people – lessons of self-control, of obedience, of perseverance, of adaptation of means to ends; learning, above all, where their weakness lies, and how they may acquire strength for the battle of life.  …  their condition … is the best relation they can, for the present, be made to occupy.”

Frederick Douglass himself was asked again and again in England in 1846:

“Douglass, are you not afraid of injuring the cause of Christ? You do not desire to do so, we know; but are you not undermining religion?”

– Abagond, 2021.

Sources: King James Bible; “The Great Stain” (2018) by Noel Rae by way of TIME; “An Appeal to the British People” (1846), a speech by Fredeick Douglass.

See also:


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If you are White, only the “I Have a Dream” (1963) speech matters, and not even all of that, but just this one sentence:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I  used to think there was more, but after careful study I found out that this is all there is for True White people.


– Abagond, 2021.

See also:

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