The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Friday, June 24, 2016

Upload #140 - poetry in motion

(Or is it "upload #138-b-2"? But that would be silly.)

I've been citing Rudolf Geyer as tr. "The Strophic Structure of the Koran" since the mid 2000s and, as you see, I'm not done with it. It happens that Geyer's essay had a structure of its own, if you will. His project shadows closely another work, by one David Heinrich Müller; Geyer really meant his work as Müller's supplement. Mainly Geyer was proving that, pace Müller, 20: exegetes like Zamakhshari had mentioned... the fact that certain suras are built for a specific strophe-system. Even if this mention was only implicit, by means of the "ruku"-sign. So anyway that explains why Geyer didn't look at other suras manifestly strophic, like sura 37 (so I had to do it): because Müller hadn't done it first. It has become clear that I needed to read Müller's book for myself.

Today I went looking for Müller, and found him. I have transcribed most of Google's badly-rendered PDF to German, and translated some of that German into English... locally, for now.

I admit that in places, Müller's original take wasn't helpful. If you're going to study sura 51 then you're forgiven if you just read Geyer. So all I've done with "Provision from God" is expand the reference.

But in other places I'm kicking myself I hadn't found Müller earlier. He did a lot more with sura 69, so that's "Blasting the Caliph" overhauled... again. Also the two German scholars' treatment of sura 44 is the mirror image to their sura 51: Geyer's paragraph is wholly useless and Müller is he who gives us that sura's structure. That's "Smoke".


APPENDIX: On Müller and Geyer, Devin Stewart shared some thoughts in November 2013.

posted by Zimri on 21:25 | link | 0 comments

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Upload #139 - something Allah won't like

Finished reading that Noeldeke article. What a chore that was! And the ending part with all those loanwords, Arthur Jeffery and others have rendered wholly obsolete. But hey. At least I've learnt a thing or two from the first part.

Noeldeke has spawned some more footnotes for "Islamic Ethics", "Provision is from God", and "Against Jihad". Can't have people think I've been taking credit for another's work; either that or I'm just so insecure that I'll footnote any darn thing.

Here's the good news: I think I can draw sura 40 (further) into the Chain. Namely it's not just 39 > 40, it's 39 > 16 > 9 > 61 > 40. I've known about the 40 / 61 parallels for a long time but, thanks to Noeldeke, I can claim a direction.


posted by Zimri on 19:18 | link | 0 comments

Associative pairing symbols should be symmetric

Two years ago, the "equality" meme started up, with "marriage equality" being the big buzzword. The social-justice entrepreneurs sent out a lot of purple squares with yellow equal-signs (=) on them; they were on lots of cars, especially on models worth more than my car. Not so much now, but they were there then. Some of us dissident-righters were thinking of posting UNequal-signs (≠). The guy who thought that up didn't get the angle right on the crossout, so the idea had to go through a bit of a "Q A" process first. But now I'm wondering - why should it matter?

Math symbols are those in which A * B means "A [blah] B". To take arithmetic as an example, A + B is the same as B + A, and A x B = B x A. Such relations are called associative. The "Greater Than" / "Less Than" pair is different; A > B is clearly opposite from A < B. It matters what side of what symbol you're on.

You'll note that the plus (+) symbol here hints at associativity in that it is symmetric across the vertical axis. The equal symbol is similar. "Greater Than" / "Less Than" hints at non-associativity.

It'd be nice if the mathematicians had thought of this when they developed the minus sign (-). It's not associative. Neither is the divide sign, but I don't think anyone even uses that anymore; for my part since getting into computers I've always used the fraction sign (/).

Anyway, the not-equal sign represents one of the associative processes: if A ≠ B, then B ≠ A. The symbol should be symmetric and, failing that, it shouldn't matter where the strikethrough leans.

posted by Zimri on 17:19 | link | 0 comments

AC update

Since no-one was asking how my Thursday is going: the air-conditioning unit here is completely boned, I believe the technical term is, so on Tuesday they're coming back here to install a new one.

posted by Zimri on 12:56 | link | 0 comments

The palatinate in Jones County

I missed my usual Juneteenth rounds of (anti-)Reconstruction / -Union posts, but here - better late than never - I'll discuss a movie about the so-called Free State in northern Mississippi. The screenplay looks like a dog. The truth is more interesting.

The Appalachian side of the Deep South was never much on board with "the planters' war, the rednecks' fight". (Same, really, with the Irish in the North.) Some hillfolk fought for their State because it was, well, home. Many others decided not to bother; West Virginia was the outcome of one such mutiny. Northern Alabama and - especially - east Tennessee ("Franklin", some call it) almost went the same way; probably would have, if the west of Tennessee had held out for longer.

I was interested, so I looked up the King of Jones, one Newton Knight. Best the story goes, when the Late Unpleasantness started up, our man signed up for the war and he got a fight; then at some point he decided, screw this for a lark, and ran away back home. The CSA's army alerted Mississippi's authorities, who duly came after him. Knight ran some calculations in his head, and figured that if he held out until the Union won then he'd be pardoned. There were other guys with him, and the surrounding county of Jones was getting pretty tired of The Losing Cause. By the time Reconstruction came 'round, he and his made a go of racial integration. It almost-sortof worked.

My first instinct on reading the story is that the man was an opportunist and a liar. But then I figured, pretty much everyone who has become a folk-hero was an opportunist and a liar - look at Ethan Allen and, yes, at Nathaniel Bedford Forrest (Forrest, by the way, recanted his own legend). Why should it be different on the Union side.

Tell the truth, the main part of Knight's biography that I didn't like was the part he impregnated his own wife's daughter. But since liberals don't care if Woody Allen did this too, I have to concede points for consistency...

posted by Zimri on 12:44 | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Aristotle's Politics in Byzantium

A used-book-store in Longmont had a translation of Aristotle's Politics. I found this on the shelf - I didn't buy it. The book's introduction mentioned the transmission of the text. Roger Pearse is looking into classical Greek texts that didn't make it to the modern day. This looks like it was almost one of them.

Cicero used some Aristotelian work in his political oeuvre, including some lost to us, but not this one. When the Syrians were translating Greek works of political-philosophy into their language and into Arabic - and they translated great swathes of that - they didn't bother with this one. And nobody in mediaeval (Latin) Europe cared.

Until the famous reactionary authors of pre-/early-Renaissance Italy: Thomas Aquinas, Dante Alighieri, and Marsilius of Padua. They cared. A lot.

Back to the translation, its author said nothing about Byzantine use of this book. I suspect that the Late Roman Empire cared the most for it.

posted by Zimri on 21:07 | link | 0 comments

Upload #138c - clothing bones with flesh

Tomorrow is AC day, but luckily today I don't need it. Hooray for variable Middle American weather...

I've been going through Theodor Noeldeke's "On the Language of the Koran", in Which Koran? - which I've long noted is not the best of the Ibn Warraq collections. Here Ibn Warraq had translated an earlier translation (to French), which although still valuable does leave one wondering about some of the translation-decisions. I'd looked at this long hadith in 2012 but couldn't find anything there of use at the time.

Today... matters are better. (Maybe I'm just smarter?) So I have uploaded new links 22+32 > 23 for "Ararat Tax", 22+39 > 35 for "Islamic Ethics", and 22 > 40 for "Reformer from Pharaoh's Family". (And 30 > 39 for "Interceding with God" but, meh.) "Blasting the Caliph" has a 69 > 52 in the footnote, referring to the Syriacism kâhin for priest; Noeldeke offers still more for that sura, and when I was cross-checking that with Arthur Jeffery's big book of loanwords I ran across kursi for throne which "Solomon's Revenge" can use.

I still want to untangle 23, 39, and 40 from the great rope of sura. I didn't get that today. But, on the bright side, I hadn't known about these sequences above, either - now, I do. They have all been implicit in the threads I've been weaving, and it's nice to make them explicit.


posted by Zimri on 20:31 | link | 0 comments

Caught in the open

If George Martin is reading Vox Day then he's just received some pointers in how to run the Battle Of The Bastards in his upcoming books. (Or, Neil Gaiman has...)

According to those who know military tactics, or even run a D&D game, last Sunday's episode only works if you assume that Jon Snow has learnt nothing from his headstrong teenage years, and that Ramsay Bolton can't be arsed to post a watch. You also have to assume that nobody (except maybe Littlefinger) knows what to do with cavalry.

If you boost Bolton's IQ just that little bit, he sets that watch and sees the new cavalry foe riding toward him. Assuming Bolton doesn't immediately turn tail, the decisive clash would then be a set of cavalry skirmishes from a distance at which point, the first army to lose too many horsies is left out in the open with a vulnerable supply-train. Either way Bolton still does have to lose, for plot reasons, but he's more at home in the North right now; so he'll make a slow tactical withdrawal back to Winterfell - or to the Dreadfort, whichever.

It is even possible that Martin already had envisaged this. HBO's screenwriters scrunched it into one big stupid noisy battle because screenwriters.

Either way, as far as the storyline goes Jon Snow is pretty damn weak. The Watch should have burned his body.

posted by Zimri on 17:23 | link | 0 comments

Monday, June 20, 2016

Upload #138b - rhyme and reason

Air-conditioning here is to get fixed Thursday. Today it has been relatively cool - in the 80s, up here in this study. But I expect the next few nights to be hellish. So this is the last chance I'll have to do any work up here for awhile. Fortunately - I'm done with the last weekend's notes.

It was Rudolf Geyer's turn at the wheel so, I've reconfigured the sura 51 project and the sura 69 project to reflect their means of composition (as para-rajaz). Those would be "Provision" and "Blasting the Caliph" respectively. I've also overhauled "The Book of Nathan" in light of Abu Hatim's witness to the Walid anecdote. Lastly I have dredged up "The Jami of al-Hakam" (remember that?) and applied a few classical-era concepts I've learnt since first writing that thing.

UPDATE 9:05 PM - Also found some old references to the 16/43 link, in my first pass through these two suras back in spring 2003. Back then I thought 16>43 which I don't now. And I found more references to 16/35, where I'd thought 16>35... on this much, I haven't changed my mind. So I have updated "Plots" and "Islamic Ethics" again. Oh and I forgot a footnote in "Scripture of the Women" so that's where it should be now.

I have this uncomfortable feeling that my failure in 2003 to figure out suras 16 and 43 induced me to avoid both until this year. I suppose I just wasn't ready.


posted by Zimri on 20:05 | link | 0 comments

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Upload #138 - remembering Jacob

I took a trip up to Estes Park today with my laptop and my worn-out copy of What the Koran Really Says. Goal: to reread Jakob Barth's article on Qur'anic emendations, and to apply it to the essays on hand here.

Nothing really new was found, but I marked some places for improvement to several essays. Now I'm here in my overheated house with no AC. I've been able to fix six essays so far: "Defending Jesus", "Plots against the Qurra", "Islamic Ethics", "Ararat Tax", "Solomon's Revenge", and "Reformer from Pharaoh's Family".

9:55 PM - since the main projects no longer support 66 > 21, that side-project "Prophet's Excuse" has taken on a "fix" as well. A more grudging one.


posted by Zimri on 21:03 | link | 0 comments

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A warning to terrorists

Let this morning's Latin motto be inscribed high upon this blog: C A V E A T. With that, let us discuss Thomas Mair.

I am not here to mourn his target, the treasonous MP Jo Cox; as so many government and media outlets are making a show thereof this week, including ostensible "conservatives" and "patriots". I also concede that Cox did deserve a public punishment, although I personally would not have recommended the punishment she got. (Cox had many enablers on her path.) But her punishment - let us say, a day in the stocks - should have been delivered by the legal authorities of the United Kingdom.

The whole point of Tianming is that one is selected for rule when one is worthy. If you're playing Judge Dredd on your own time, that's not you.

As to what we as private subjects do in the meantime, in the many cases where the Crown punish the righteous and promote the traitor: each such case should be set before the public as an injustice. And then we should move on to other cases. That is all a subject of the Crown can do, and therefore all he should do.

posted by Zimri on 08:46 | link | 0 comments

Too good to be true

Meet Walter Fritz, forger. And meet his dupe, Karen King.

The good news (heh) for secular NT scholarship is that Fritz's pseudepigraphon "The gospel of Jesus's wife" didn't get anywhere. King announced it in a conference and only the popular media bothered with it thence. And as Roger Pearse points out the whole affair has served as a cautionary tale; I'd add, as a learning exercise for those involved in unmasking the fraud. It'll help those involved when they return to more ancient pseudepigrapha.

As a less happy example of forgery, defined as such as have wasted scholars' time, I give you Morton Smith's homosexualist fan-fiction "Secret Gospel of Mark"...

In my experience as interested amateur, when truly revolutionary documents are found, they're found in public spaces or in secure archaeological contexts (Sana 1 and Qumran, respectively). If fragmentary - like The Gospel Of Walter - they're also published as boring articles in reputable journals - unlike TGOW - which most people will gloss over (Egerton Papyrus 2).

The last point I'd discuss here is who in Islamic scholarship is most at risk of being a forger's target, his mark, his whale. This is a warning to those who are open to the discovery of saj'-style Quranic-Arabic compositions, and who have published work to that effect. That's pretty much the same as telling the world you're leaving your River Oaks home for vacation despite that your burglar alarm doesn't work.

posted by Zimri on 08:22 | link | 0 comments

Monday, June 13, 2016

Cowardice has consequences

The word "surveillance" was not mentioned yesterday by the two men with the highest Republican delegate counts. The Left has today been banning people who say it. Yes, these are related.

When the Right-most candidates don't mention a thing, the Left takes this as tacit acknowledgement it's still Hate-Speech. Hate-Speech, to the Left, is not under Constitutional protections for free speech.

posted by Zimri on 17:20 | link | 0 comments

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Playstation 2 emulation with a Dualshock 3 pad

I have accumulated two Playstation gaming devices in this house: the PS2 I brought from Houston, and a PS3 gifted to me for housewarming in 2011. When I got the PS3, the PS2 games wouldn't play on it. So I was stuck. I never won any of the PS2 games I bought... kind of a waste. (In PS3 I at least got through the first Uncharted.)

Over the last two days I got the hankering to play God of War. I learnt there WAS a way... with an emulator, I can use this very PC. I might even be able to use a Playstation controller pad joystick thingie. I have two of those here, one for each PS. The PS2 controller wasn't able to plug into anything here but the PS3 controller has a USB cable; so I wondered about setting the one up with another.

First step was to install an emulator with the unwieldy title PCXS2, for Windows 64. Also needed was to rip the BIOS from the old PS2, which is a PITA, but needs to be done for legal reasons...

Next (rather, this can be done concurrently) the Dualshock 3 set of drivers - I went with ScpToolkit. This is to get Windows to read Sony's pad and to treat it - "wrap" it - as a Microsoft controller. I knew ScpToolkit worked when I pushed the fat button and the X-Box windows popped up.

(You will also need 7-zip, to unzip whatever .7z files appear along the way.)

Now to hook them up. This part is what I did today. Some manual steps are needed: C:\Program Files\Nefarius Software Solutions\ScpToolkit\LilyPad\LilyPad-Scp-r5875.dll has to go to C:\Program Files (x86)\PCSX2 1.4.0\Plugins; C:\Program Files\Nefarius Software Solutions\ScpToolkit\XInput\x64\XInput1_3.dll has to go to the root C:\Program Files (x86)\PCSX2 1.4.0.

Then set up the correct Lilypad. By trial and (mostly) error, I got:

Then, the configure screen:

The feedback I have for the PCXS2QIA devs is, there were a LOT of system crashes on my way here.

Anyway, what's important is to see "bindings" on Pad 1. XInput is the way to go, even if it's claiming not to be Xbox 360. That was why we needed a wrapper, folks!

To get God of War (or whatever) working, I recommend ripping the DVD onto your machine. CDVD -> ISO selector. If straight from the DVD, the emulator is just going to pick up the ".img" file from the DVD and treat it like the whole application. That will, er, not work. I used ImgBurn which can be had for free.

Next step, to tweak the graphix, for a more PCish experience: basically I followed Jethwani. I went with 1920 x 1080, 33% slow-motion adjust, took the "preset" off to reduce EE cyclerate and do mild VU cycle stealing. Also took Interlacing off the GSdx9 plugin emulator.

UPDATE 6/13: to beat the button-mash minigames, not least the first big hydra boss: set the controller onto a flat and stable surface, and use your index finger and not your thumb. Then pound that damn thing up and down like Kate Upton was growling encouragement at you to do it.

posted by Zimri on 18:55 | link | 0 comments

Politically-active Muslims kill

Omar Mir Seddique Mateen (good Sunni name) was born in America of Afghan parents. He registered as a Democrat. Last night Mateen shot a lot of teh ghey in Orlando.

Some local imam is out now blaming "mass shootings" and calling for gun control common-sense gun laws, whatever. Basically guns should be banned for everyone the imam doesn't trust, which means you dear reader.

Incidentally God's destruction of the "people of Lot" is told in suras 7, 11, 15, 26, 27, 29, 51, and 54. That is often - as in, obsessively often. Contrast that to how many times the Qur'an mentions Muhammad himself by name. By the way I also noticed last night that sura 43 rewrites the Exodus story such that Pharaoh's whole race deserved to drown because their lords insulted a prophet. The suras have a lot of this Eliminationist Rhetoric, to coin a phrase.

In as much as the present Islamic canon encourages its adherents to get involved in politics, and as long as non-Muslim countries tolerate a Muslim presence: some Muslim citizens are going to do politics the way the Ku Klux Klan did it. And the imams and the Democrat politicians are going to leverage this the way the 1870s-era Democrat Party leveraged Redemption.

UPDATE 12:30 PM - Ask the Imam.

UPDATE 6/24 - Gay? Nay.

posted by Zimri on 08:47 | link | 0 comments

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Upload #137 - everything must go

That chart I'd drafted last night pointed out sura 39 as a floater. So I needed to look at "Interceding with God" again. My records don't turn up much on that sura, so more research is needed there. I woke up early today, when it is cooler; so I'm physically *able* to do this...

My records turned up, instead, some correlations between suras 3, 5, 10, 13, 39, and 70. In the old days I'd just have thrown a tangle like this into a well a dark hole. But earlier this year we have set sura 70 in the chain, and further we've placed sura 5 before sura 22. So why not revisit sura 5's relationship with those others? This affected "The Musallûn" as well.

I found another tangle o'er 13/35/39; but since I'm sure enough of 13>39>35 anyway, I decided just to go for it and stick that in "Islamic Ethics".

8:15 PM: I added some material to "Defending Jesus", to make it less of a placeholder. Also "Provision" because I suspect sura 51 may have used sura 27 now.


posted by Zimri on 08:51 | link | 0 comments

Friday, June 10, 2016

The end of spring wrapup post

My brain doesn't work well in the summers. That's the year when I first noticed that my bursts of activity were winter-spring affairs. Ever since 2010, in May/June or so I wind things up (April/May, it was in Houston). I did a wrapup in 2011. So, here we go for 2016.

This year, the stars of the show were the projects on suras 16 and 43; they're the ones which put caps on suras 23 and 39 before, and on 9 and 35 after. I did important updates to the 35 and 39 projects, as well. And of course this was the season of translating Paul Casanova. Less happily, some crow entered the menu: sura 61 was removed from the 690s and exiled beyond sura 9.

That wrapup five years ago culminated in what I was then calling "the Homiletic Chain": 41 > 28 > 32 > 35 > 46 > 38. The next season was all about suras 25 and 26, which set 41 > 25 > 26 > 27 > 28. That expansion allowed for House of War (41, 25 in its last parts). Later I pushed out Throne of Glass (27, 28, 32).

We are left with 32 > 35; we also had some orphaned suras, like 23. This year I've done a new gathering: 32 > 70 > 23 > 43 > 16 > 35. On the minus side I am much less certain of 38. 21 and 40, also, remain enigmatic to me. 39 now floats between 28 and 16, which isn't much better than when I'd "pinned" it between 22 and 35.

Not yet sure what can be made of this new chain. Three of the relevant projects are brand sparkling new. I'll work on that when the weather cools off.

posted by Zimri on 22:27 | link | 0 comments


Guillaume Dye delivers another argument against Catherine Pennacchio I cannot endorse:

The author then proposes a new hypothesis, in my opinion unconvincing, that Ar. ǧalā’ (Q 59:3) come from Heb. gōlā, gālūt, "exile" (p. 64-65). She recognizes that the GLW / Y root, "cut, reveal, separate, emigrate", is common in Semitic. Why then say that it is a "semantic borrowing on Heb. gōlā" (p. 65)? A semantic loan (Lehnbedeutung) is a way of borrowing - however it is a sense that the Arabic root already possesses. Certainly the concept of gōlā is central to Judaism (albeit the Christian homiletic genre did not ignore the concept), but this does not mean that if the Arabic term ǧalā’ means, in the Koran, the exile of the Jews, then it must be of Hebrew origin.

Here, I have to counter that in the post-Biblical milieu, the Jews were first to make religious jargon of the bare word gōlā. Again I have to say that the Aramaic-speaking mediators (if any) did little more here than to transcribe what they had from their Jewish sources.

It does look like Pennacchio should have scaled back her ambitions for her thesis. Perhaps she should have delivered a shorter supplement to Geiger, Torrey, and Jeffery in a journal somewhere; the Journal of Semitic Studies would surely have shown an interest. Still, in what parts of Dye's response I'm confident enough in Semitic philology to gauge - Pennachio seems to come out ahead, with just a few more words of argument needed in support.

posted by Zimri on 17:23 | link | 0 comments

Li'l Joey fell down the well again

Guillaume Dye is reviewing Catherine Pennacchio, Les emprunts à l'hébreu et au judéo-araméen dans le Coran. He doesn't like it.

For the bias into which the A. falls repeatedly, I translate footnote 3:

Just one example (p. 170): ǧubb, "well" (Q 12:10, 15). The author notes that the parallel passage in the Bible (Genesis 37:24) employs bôr, "pit" where the Peshitta and the Targum have gubbâ, "cistern, well", and where Zimmern sees in ǧubb a old loan from Aramaic. Yet she provides (without giving any argument) "that there are many opportunities by which this use [of ǧubb] comes from the Targum."

But why the Targum, and not, for example, the Syriac literature? Perhaps, I am tempted to assume, because the author believes that the sources of sura 12 are to be found in the Jewish literature, or in the exchanges between Muhammad and Jews of Medina - even while the closest parallels are with the Syriac - cf. Joseph Witztum, "Joseph Among the Ishmaelites. Q 12 in Light of Syriac Sources" in Gabriel Said Reynolds (ed.), New Perspectives on the Qur'an. The Qur'ān in Its Historical Context 2 (London: Routledge, 2011), 423-446.

In fact, gôb / gubbâ is attested in almost all the varieties of Aramaic - Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon Project (CAL) (, sv. gwb, gwb', accessed 26/12/2014 - and we know also Akkadian gubbu, Ugaritic gb, Hebrew geb, Geez gǝbb - Wolf Leslau, Comparative Dictionary of Ge'ez (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1991), 176. The hypothesis of a Semitic common root is plausible. Note that the CAL and the Leslau - two more very valuable tools - are, inexplicably, ignored by the author.

I must rate this particular critique as weak, and I say this as one who accepts Witztum that a non-Jew reliant upon anti-Jewish Syriac sources composed sura 12.

Dye is correct that gbb is pan-Semitic - or may as well be. I know of no Aramaisms in Ugaritic. And even if it were a borrowing, then it likely became Hebrew before this part of Genesis entered the Torah.

In Genesis 37:24 the Israelites, for an oubliette, tossed Joseph into a bôr that expressly could not serve as a gôb. (Joseph is the North's patriarch, not the Jews'.) We all agree the composer already knew the word gôb. True, the verse hints - to some - that maybe water should have been there. But this is just a storyteller's move: to hint that Joseph could not survive in that hole, and even to imply that his brothers were considering his murder by thirst. So there was no well in the original. The Qur'an must have cast its bucket into some other source.

That source's move to making of that a "well", by elaborating on that offhand comment of no-water, isn't a translation. It is a midrash (one that is not found everywhere). And there is nothing specifically Christian about this particular midrash. It needn't even have been done in Aramaic. It may well first have been done in Hebrew.

To sum up, that's pourquoi le Targum: as far as any of us know, the Targum got to this midrash first. True, the Qur'an could have got it by way of the Peshitta. But we can't assume that for this pericope alone. We would need evidence of a more exactly Christian mediator. Witztum gives us that; Dye, here, really doesn't.

posted by Zimri on 17:06 | link | 0 comments

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