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Sharpening the saw at Yale

There is more to life than what I know, and certainly my powers of observation, while above average, do not bring n all that they could in any situation. Have to sharpen the mind from other sources. The OpenCourseWare that many of the larger colleges in the country are participating in , definitely helps when I want to add something larger to my experience than a blog post or a book.

I've been gonig through the Old Testement course I took from Yale that I did a few months ago, which is what this brought this subject up today. There are several other places on the web. Some of them are only text courses, and some offer more than others. I've listen some of the better ones below.

I am continuing my search for tools for research and visual understanding software, I came across Visual Understanding Environment which came up as being connected in some way to the OpenCourseWare organization.

The Visual Understanding Environment (VUE) is an Open Source project based at Tufts University. The VUE project is focused on creating flexible tools for managing and integrating digital resources in support of teaching, learning and research. VUE provides a flexible visual environment for structuring, presenting, and sharing digital information. ( List of Features)

Short List of OpenCourseWare Publishers

Open Yale Courses

OpenCourseWare Notre Dame

MIT OpenCourse Ware

Open Course Web Casts UC Berkeley

Stanford Open Courses

Harvard At Home

Sofia Course Gallery

JHSPH OpenCourseWare

OpenLearn -- Seems to be mostly text

OpenCourseWare Consortium

What is really fun... and perhaps telling

I took a quick break here to eat some lunch, and jumped on to YouTube (obviously). Instead of my normal delving into the world of Anime madness, I looked up some lectures, book readings and authors who talk about writing Fantasy and Science Fiction. I find it comforting that most “made” writers freely talk about the insanity and force of will involved in novel writing.

What I found first, however, were several short “instructional” videos by people how “teach” fantasy and fiction writing – and then I found William Gibson. The contrast between those who teach and those who do, is seriously stunning.

This isn't really the slight it may appear to be on the surface against those who teach. Not at all, really. Gibson, King, Butler, Ryn, Miller, and most of the major writers who have altered the world, or simply amused a major portion of us, have one thing in common, and that is … someone taught them. While the nights of staring at the computer screen, under siege by the voices who say “you are stupid” and “your ideas suck”, and “are you ever going to take grammar seriously?” have to be gotten through, and no teacher ill ever help you through those moments (in fact their voices will probably be the loudest), we still need them.

… if for nothing else, but to have someone else's voice in our head, reminding us through their presence alone that we aren't quite crazy yet, we still have the slip of a shadow of time to get it done... before they come for us.

William Gibson - Spook Country

This guy is very much a hero of mine. When I read his book Neuromancer (years ago), it opened an amazing world of words, and action and story telling which no other writer before (or since ... to be honest) has been close to, and while my style of writing is nothing like his, it is his vision-art which illumed my darkness, birthing shadows... in screams and blood, and night... just like most births.

... very much a hero of mine.

Maybe politics is better

It is amazing to me the weirdness which is instantly brought into any discussion of religion, belief or spirituality. At this moment I'm not talking about anyone who has posted an email to me, or left a comment. What caught my eye, and prompted this post is an Ad in the strip on the side, which suggested that you could learn how to jump into the dimension of God, and go visit him.

As far as I know, jumping into other dimensions is not required to talk or visit with God. So save your money (and his too), and don't click on that ad (and if he offers you grape drink, run).

Thoughts about Asherah – God's Girl Friend

I found a copy of Time Magazine on the train yesterday coming back into downtown. Normally I don't read such dribble, but it had a tempting article titled Decoding God's Changing Moods, by Robert Wright, who I've never heard of, but that doesn't mean anything.

Anyway, the article was fairly interesting, and then about half way through, he brings up the topic of Asherah, using the term Mistress in context to God.

Now, I do( and did) remember the Asherah pole, but never put the name with a Goddess and after all, why should I? The Hebrews don't have a Goddess... right?

Well, it looks like, after doing quite a bit of research, that this may not be the whole case. I will say at this point however, she is not a Goddess as we would first think of a Goddess, and the impression I got, from all that I read, was that she is more or less an angel, and … apparently a very powerful one.

My selfish interests aside I was also looking for a good topic to test drive my Basket Notes program, to see if it would stand up to the heavy research I do while I'm preparing to write. I found that between Basket and FreeMind, I may have found a good enough tool set to replace my MindMap (MindJet) program using Ubuntu.

Here's the page I put together without having to think much... which is a very important feature when researching, because if I have to constantly think about the program I'm using to take notes and file away references, then I'm not thinking about the subject I'm researching.

Since I'm merely approaching this subject as a fiction writer, I'm not tied down by the weight and strain of challenges to the righteousness of the biblical beliefs of others. I'm not even sure at this point how this little lady would fit into any of my current story-lines, and it is very possible that she won't. However, it is always nice to meet another of God's mystery ladies.


Something I came up with with, which I can't find any other reference to (thought I am sure someone has written something on this correlation) is the matching up of Asherah (Queen of Heaven) and the female persona of Wisdom in Proverbs.

The mention of the Pillars, the rebuke, the "door of her house", the bread, the wine... in fact most of what she says in this area, is very clearly a calling of Asherah, or at the very least, using Asherah's firm imagery to illuminate Wisdom as a persona.

I copy quite a bit in here, because there is quite a bit to see about this "woman" in Solomon's mind. Chapter 8:22-31 is absolutely amazing when we juxtapose Asherah and Wisdom.

What is clear here as well, is that Wisdom/Asherah doesn't see herself, in these lines, as anything except a tool for God to use, however, she is also very clear, regarding what happens to those who do not use her.

Prov 1:20 Wisdom cries outside; she utters her voice in the streets;


Chapter 8
1 Does not wisdom call? And does not understanding put forth her voice?
2 She stands in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the path.
3 She cries in the gates, before the entrance of the city, at the doors.
4 To you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
5 O simple ones understand wisdom; and, fools, be of an understanding heart.
6 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is hateful to my lips.
8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; nothing twisted or perverse is in them.
9 They are all plain to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge.
10 Receive my instruction and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

12 I, wisdom, dwell with sense, and find out knowledge of discretions.
13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the wicked mouth.
14 Counsel and sound wisdom are Mine; I am understanding; I have strength.
15 By Me kings reign and princes decree justice.
16 Princes rule by Me, and nobles, all the judges of the earth.
17 I love those who love Me; and those who seek Me early shall find Me.
18 Riches and honor are with Me; enduring riches and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and what I give is better than choice silver.
20 I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment;
21 I may cause those who love Me to inherit riches; and I will fill their treasuries.

22 The LORD possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. 23 I was anointed from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth ever was. 24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no springs heavy with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I travailed; 26 before He had made the earth, or the fields or the highest part of the dust of the world. 27 When He prepared the heavens, I was there; when He set a circle upon the face of the deep; 28 when He set the clouds above; when He made the strong fountains of the deep; 29 when He gave to the sea its limit that the waters should not pass His command; when He appointed the foundations of the earth; 30 and I was a workman at His side; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; 31 rejoicing in the world, His earth; and My delight was with the sons of men.

32 And now listen to Me, O sons; for blessed are those who keep My ways.
33 Hear instruction, and be wise, and do not refuse it.
34 Blessed is the man who hears Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors.
35 For whoever finds Me finds life, and shall obtain favor from the LORD.
36 But he who sins against Me wrongs his own soul; all who hate Me love death.

Prov 9:1 Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars:
2 She has killed her beasts; she has mingled her wine; she has also furnished her table.
3 She has sent forth her maidens: she cries upon the highest places of the city,
4 Whoso is simple, let him turn in here: as for him that wants understanding, she says to him,
5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.
6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
7 He that reproves a scorner gets to himself shame: and he that rebukes a wicked man gets himself a blot.
8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate you: rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
11 For by me your days shall be multiplied, and the years of your life shall be increased.
12 If you be wise, you shall be wise for yourself: but if you scorn, you alone shall bear it.
13 A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knows nothing.
14 For she sits at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,
15 To call passengers who go right on their ways:
16 Whoso is simple, let him turn in here: and as for him that wants understanding, she says to him,
17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.
18 But he knows not that the dead are there; and that her guest are in the depths of hell.

So useful its frightening...

Google Docs and OpenOffice

It is rather rare that a writer gets a new tool that is more than simply a distraction from doing things he should be doing... like ... writing. However, this one is amazing, and if you work as a writer, or if you are a student, take the time to check this out.

I use OpenOffice, instead of hampering tools like Microsoft Word (which cost a fortune and don't do what I want them to). Now, you can open your gDoc documents from inside OpenOffice, and you can save your OpenOffice documents to gDoc, so that no matter where you are, or what you are doing, your material, assignment, blog post, or chapter, will be safely in the Cloud, as well as on your computer.

Open Office

The Extension you will need for Connection

Google Docs

There is nothing worse than losing that inspiration you had at lunch, and only remembering later, that you “had” a good idea.

GTP and ME and Chess

You: Give me an annotation of the following game, noting and highlighting tactics, positioning, shifts in momentum and their causes, as we...