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1  Middle Earth / Gondor / MOVED: A conservative and a liberal contemplate less-than-optimal 2016 front-runners. on: April 30, 2016, 04:38:16 AM
This topic has been moved to Mordor.

http://lothlorien.sg/index.php?topic=801.0
2  Middle Earth / Numenor / 郭襄:十六那年,風陵渡口 on: May 30, 2015, 05:24:12 AM
郭襄:十六那年,風陵渡口



文/簡書 趙二狗本文系作者授權發布

郭襄。在搜狗輸入法下,打出這兩個字,只需要敲擊鍵盤八下,卻能柔軟地擊中許多人的心。


ONE

金庸的小說射鵰三部曲中,倚天和神鵰中間存留了將近80年間的時間空白,其中關係隱晦微妙。

中間到底發生了什麼事?兩部著作有哪些聯繫?除了朝代更迭,我想簡單地從幾個人物說起。

1、楊過將此玄鐵重劍送給了郭襄。襄陽城破前,郭靖、黃蓉夫婦請高明工匠熔之鑄成倚天劍、屠龍刀,並藏《九陰真經》、《降龍十八掌掌譜》、《武穆遺書》於其中。

2、襄陽城破,郭破虜身死,屠龍刀流入江湖,百年來爭奪不斷,郭襄則帶著倚天劍浪跡天涯。

3、郭襄在四十歲大徹大悟,出家為尼,創下峨嵋一派。她的徒弟是風陵師太,法號為郭襄所取,以紀念第一次在風陵渡口結識楊過。

4、南帝一燈大師的四位弟子漁樵耕讀,耕讀為武三通和朱子柳,武烈、武青嬰是武三通的後人,朱長齡和朱九真是朱子柳的後人,他們兩家組成朱武連環莊。在倚天裡面,兩家人可謂是卑鄙無恥,機關算盡反誤了唧唧性命。

5、黃衫女子——楊姐姐在倚天中出現過兩次,一次解救丐幫危機,一次教訓周芷若做人。留下一句,「鍾南山下,活死人墓,神鵰俠侶,絕跡江湖。」多方猜測是楊過與小龍女的後人。

6、《神鵰俠侶》的最後,尹克西與瀟湘子一起到少林寺盜得《九陽真經》後,將經書縫入隨身白猿腹中(後來張無忌掉下山崖,遇到的那隻)。看守經書的覺遠大師和張三丰師徒二人死死想追,但無果而終。後來覺遠大師圓寂之前背誦《九陽真經》,當時在場聽到的三個人是張君寶、郭襄和少林的無色禪師,此後百年間,武當、峨嵋和少林三派武功大進,遂成大家。

在此期間,郭靖和黃蓉的白首相依,以玄鐵重劍鑄造倚天劍和屠龍刀,並藏以絕世武學和武穆遺書。郭破虜子承父業,豪情萬丈,堅守襄陽,城破而身死。張三丰一生放蕩不羈,履歷險奇,楊過和小龍女的飄忽婉轉行蹤不定,倚天屠龍的輾轉流傳等等。

當然,在這缺失的八十年里,分量最重的就是,郭襄的一生沉浮。


TWO

郭襄出生在武林世家,名門之後。上有大姐郭芙,下有小弟破虜。從小天資聰穎,受到良好的教育。家庭壓力小,犯錯有大姐頂著。

因為有郭芙這個教育的失敗品擺在那裡,郭靖夫婦既不會對她溺愛,又不會疏於管教。

郭襄是在《神鵰俠侶》離結束還有四分之一時才出場,卻當仁不讓的成為了全書的第二女主角,甚至比女主角小龍女個性鮮活的多,故此給人印象好的多。

郭襄在十六歲那年就氣質非凡,頸掛一串明珠,身著淡綠衣衫。有了她娘的冰雪聰明淘氣機靈,也有了他爹的江湖正氣心地善良,真是集郭靖黃蓉的優點於一身。

全書也從悲痛中轉換為一個明快輕鬆的節奏,讀起來猶如春風拂面,可謂是神來一筆。

說到這兒,就不得不說說她姐姐郭芙。郭芙絕對是神鵰中最惹人嫌的角色,真的是把郭靖黃蓉的缺點給湊齊了,噁心指數遠超金輪法王、趙志敬、霍都之徒。

作為一個失敗典型,郭大小姐實在是比較成功!因為她並非大奸大惡之徒,做到這樣令人生厭的境界,確實得有一番功夫。

但是,全世界都喜歡的郭襄,偏偏她喜歡的楊過不能和她在一塊,最後一生未嫁,終老峨眉;

全世界都嫌棄的郭芙,偏偏前有大武小武獻殷勤,後有耶律齊的千恩百愛。

故事的一切來源於,十六歲那年,風陵渡口。

酒店裡面,郭襄與草莽英雄敞開心胸,把酒言歡,聽聞神鵰俠的事跡,心生愛慕。就和西山一窟鬼,來了一場說走就走的旅行,之後見到了神鵰大俠。

郭襄愛上楊過,與現在少女愛上大叔的愛情故事如出一轍。大叔積攢了年齡紅利,集閱歷、才華、資源於一身,可以說應有盡有。



楊過那時已經是處於一個男人的巔峰時期,名滿江湖。

更何況,他還痴情。

這就滿足了一個少女關於靈魂伴侶的所有想像。

楊過給了她三根金針,可以滿足她三個願望。

她想都不想就用了兩根,只為看楊過的面目和邀請楊過跟自己過生日。

在楊過揭下他面具的那一刻,她的青春也就由此定格。

倚天裡面也有類似的情節,就是張無忌答應滿足趙敏不違背江湖道義的三個要求。

同樣是三個願望,趙敏用它贏得了自己的愛情,郭襄卻沒有。

若是郭襄以此換取楊過的愛情,她就不是郭襄,楊過若是因此放棄小龍女,接受郭襄,他也不再是楊過。


THREE

倚天裡有一段:宋青書和滅絕師太拆招,被她在第五招上使一招「黑沼靈狐」,將宋青書的長劍震上了天空。

這一招是峨嵋派祖師郭襄為紀念當年楊過和她同到黑沼捕捉靈狐而創。

那一天,應該是她最快樂的時光之一。

楊過拉著小郭襄的手,在黑沼上滑行,就像在雪地里滑雪一樣。

然而,十六歲那年的煙花太美,燃盡了此後的二十四年的年華。

積攢了年齡紅利的大叔楊過拿出了應有的氣場,第一件賀禮,滅蒙古前鋒,砍下兩千隻耳朵;

第二件賀禮,燒蒙古糧草,送上絢爛煙花;第三件賀禮,除去丐幫姦細,承上打狗棒。

這三件禮物,只有楊過做的出來。

仔細一想楊康真是厲害,雖然武功際遇都沒有郭靖好,但是連同他兒子一塊把郭家弄得是「雞犬不寧」啊。

哪幾個姑娘能夠受到了這般大禮?哪怕是個男的,當場也得從了。

自此,小郭襄情根深重。

在蒙古軍營中,小郭襄有段獨白,碎碎念道:

可惜我遲生了二十年。倘若媽媽先生我,再生姊姊,我學會了師父的龍象般若功和無上瑜珈密乘,在全真教道觀外住了下來,自稱大龍女,小楊過在全真教中受師父欺侮,逃到我家裡,我收留了他教他武功,他慢慢的自會跟我好了。他再遇到小龍女,最多不過拉住她手,給她三枚金針,說道:小妹子,你很可愛,我心裡也挺喜歡你。不過我的心已屬大龍女了。請你莫怪!你有甚么事,拿一枚金針來,我一定給你辦到。

好像是童言無忌,好像是痴情無比。

有人說,郭襄愛的是那個大叔神鵰俠,而不是屌絲楊過。想想,似乎有點道理。

假如郭襄早生二十年,說不定就和郭芙一樣無比任性,也去砍掉楊過左臂。

假如郭襄早生二十年,說不定就和楊過青梅竹馬,在桃花島快樂一生。

但是,哪有那麼多的假如呢。


FOUR

在絕情谷,小郭襄用了第三根金針,求楊過不要輕生。

楊過這時苦等十六年未果,死意已決,縱身一躍。

郭襄幾乎想都沒想,隨他而去。

別人說郭襄僅僅是仰慕也好,年紀輕輕不成熟不理智也好。

我只知道,這種愛,無法歸類,沒有雜質。

我只知道,郭襄在戰亂中見到自己的」情敵「小龍女的時,她說:楊大嫂,你真美。

我們都知道,楊過和郭襄不能也不會在一塊,因為楊過等了十六年小龍女最後愛上一個小妹妹,他得被千萬的讀者問候祖宗十八代,還有郭襄爹媽那一關也不好過。

等等,於情於理,他們都不可能白頭偕老。

但是,我們內心似乎都有點希望,楊過和郭襄能夠在一塊。

因為,在郭襄的身上,我們都能看到那個對愛情無比執著的自己。

在神鵰俠侶的最後,楊過朗聲說道:「今番良晤,豪興不淺,他日江湖相逢,再當杯酒言歡。咱們就此別過。」說著袍袖一拂,攜著小龍女之手,與神鵰並肩下山。

其時明月在天,清風吹葉,樹巔烏鴉呀啊而鳴,郭襄再也忍耐不住,淚珠奪眶而出。

我本來想,金庸老先生也真是的,加一句「祝你幸福」不就能稍微高興一點收尾了。

轉念一想,誰又真能如此大度?該掉的眼淚,一顆都不能少。

相思相見知何日,此時此夜難為情。

那一年襄陽城破了,父母在那慘烈的最後一戰中離她而去,弟弟也死了,她徹底在世界上孑然一身。

有個人曾說過,小妹子,你爹媽都是當代大俠,人人都十分敬重,你有甚麼事,自也不用我來效勞。但世事多變,禍福難言。你若有不願跟你爹媽說的緩急之情,要甚麼幫手,儘管帶個訊來,我自會給你辦得妥妥貼貼。

這一句承諾,遠比行動重要的多。

所以,她始終也沒有去找他。

終南山古墓長閉,萬花坳花落無聲,絕情谷空山寂寂,風陵渡凝月冥冥。

終南山在陝西,風陵渡在山西,萬花坳疑在山西,絕情谷在湖北。

郭襄開始了浪跡天涯,在二十四年里去了無數次以上的四個地方,此間輾轉反側,不能忘懷。

小東邪郭襄也不負」邪」這個字。

想當年東邪黃島主帶著小黃蓉也不容易,一把屎一把尿的拉扯大。

你敢和他說,唉,你姑娘都這麼大了,你一個人也不容易,找個人續續弦吧。

看黃老邪不挑斷你的手筋腳筋。

但是他們的「邪」倒是正氣盎然,邪的痴情一生。

莫道相公痴,更有痴似相公者。


FIVE

這世上假如沒有辜負就好了,我喜歡你,而你也喜歡我。

四十歲那年,她在峨眉山底下,遇到一個說書人。

他說起一個很老的故事:有兩條魚,生活在大海里,某日,被海水衝到一個淺淺的水溝,只能相互把自己嘴裡的泡沫喂到對方嘴裡,這樣才能生存,這叫相濡以沫。

海水最終要漫上來,兩條魚即將分別,最終要回到屬於它們自己的天地,不去打擾彼此。這叫相忘於江湖。

郭襄聽完大笑而去,聽完痛哭一場。

峨嵋山上,白雲朵朵,煙燻霧繞。

君應有語,渺萬裏層雲,千山暮雪,隻影向誰去?

二十四年,少女的容顏已老,青絲也已經熬成白髮。

古佛清燈的歲月,從那一刻開始。

在倚天裡面,輕描淡寫的一句:

俞蓮舟道:「恩師(張三丰)與郭女俠在少室山下分手之後,此後沒再見過面。恩師說,郭女俠心中念念不忘於一個人,那便是在襄陽城外飛石擊死蒙古大汗的神鵰大俠楊過。郭女俠走遍天下,找不到楊大俠,在四十歲那年忽然大徹大悟,便出家為尼,後來開創了峨嵋一派。」

楊過給她開了個好頭,等了小龍女十六年,郭襄則用了二十四年,大徹大悟。

念念不忘,但是二十四年都找不到。真的找不到嗎?

我覺得,應該是那句,相見不如懷念吧。

金庸里大情大悲的橋段很多,若論最微妙、最隱晦同時也最讓人感嘆的,莫過於倚天第二十七章。滅絕師太告訴張無忌,郭襄祖師的徒兒叫做風陵師太。初讀不以為意,再思之,如有牛毛細針刺入心中,隱隱小痛,卻移不走,撫不平。

郭襄此生已削髮為尼,按道理已經是大徹大悟,不該有世俗之戀。

我想了好久才明白,原來大徹大悟不是將一切拋諸腦後,而是能夠拿得起放得下,拿捏自如,舉重若輕。

我忽然想到趙敏在張無忌婚禮上說的那句:我偏要勉強。

我想,郭襄也是這般倔強的一個女孩,用自己的一生去愛了不可能相愛的一個人。

所謂勉強,該是勉而不強。不是所有的愛戀,都要以戀愛收場。

風陵渡口初相遇,一見楊過誤終身。大概如此。

郭襄雖然單戀,雖然終身不嫁,但依然是幸福的。

因為,世界上有種幸福,不是有人把你捧在手心愛你,而是有人值得你全心全意地去愛。

附上一首小詩(轉自網絡),以此作結。

我走過山時,山不說話,

我路過海時,海不說話,

小毛驢滴滴答答,

倚天劍伴我走天涯。

大家都說我因為愛著楊過大俠,

才在峨嵋山上出了家,

其實我只是愛上了峨嵋山上的雲和霞,

像極了十六歲那年的煙花。


智囊團達人
3  Middle Earth / Grand Hall / Re: Making murder respectable on: December 12, 2014, 11:27:41 AM
There are already too many murder games. Maybe try a large scale war game?

I doubt the human race will survive another large scale "war game". Tongue
4  Middle Earth / Mordor / Death By Utopia on: November 03, 2014, 11:02:26 PM
Death By Utopia

In the late 20th Century, John B. Calhoun decided to make Utopia; it started with rats. In 1947 he began to watch a colony of Norway rats, over 28 months he noticed something, in that time the population could have increased to 50,000 rats, but instead it never rose above 200. Then he noticed that the colony split into smaller groups of 12 at most. He continued to study rats up until 1954. Then in 1958, he made his first lab.

He bought the second floor of a barn, and there he made his office and lab. For four years he had Universe 1, a large room hosting rats and mice alike. It was split into four spacious pens connected by ramps, each filled with rats. The thronging mass of rodents produced an odour so strong that unaccustomed visitors took several minutes until they could breathe normally. In 1963 he produced his most famous creation, Universe 1. The worlds first mouse mortality-inhibiting-environment.

2.7 metres square with 1.4m high walls. The ‘Universe’ was surrounded by 16 tunnels leading to food, water and burrows. No predators, no scarcity, the mice would have to be blind to not see the utopia around them. At least it began as Utopia. Four breeding pairs of mice were introduced into Universe 1. After 104 days they adjusted to the new world and the population began to grow, doubling every 55 days. By day 315 the population reached 620. Then is stopped. The population grew much more slowly as the mice came against the limit of space, their only limiting frontier.

Society broke. Young were expelled before they had been properly weaned and were arbitrarily attacked by excessive aggressive male mice. Females became more aggressive, non-dominant males became passive, not retaliating to attacks. The last healthy birth came on the 600th day. Then there were no new mice. Then there were none.

The purpose of the experiment for Calhoun was to examine a pressing problem, overpopulation. In the post-war 1940′s the world population was rising extremely quickly and in the 1970′s this continued. The question was, what happens next? So he tested it, and tested again. Just 9 years later, in 1972, he produced Universe 25, similar in design but so precise as to keep the temperature at a constant 20 degrees. No matter how he adjusted the ‘Universe’ the results were consistent, the mice moved from perfect to appalling.

After day 600, the male mice just stopped defending their territory, listless mice congregated in the centres of the Universe. These gangs would burst into pointless and sporadic violence. Females stopped reproducing and even started attacking their own young. Mortality rose phenomenally. Roaming mice either attacked or attempted to mount others, irrespective of relation or gender, cannibalism and other acts of depravity consumed them. These were the feral ones. Then there were the ‘beautiful ones.’

The ‘beautiful ones’ withdrew themselves ever so quietly, removing themselves from the sick society. Solitary pursuits began to define them; eating, drinking and grooming among others. No scars on their back or hairs out-of-place, these mice behaved like a separate race. They saw the world through their narrow scopes, as they tossed, turned and tried to cope.

In the end the population sank, even when it was back down to a tolerable level none of the mice changed back. The change was irreversible, the mice were different now. The secluded females could still bear offspring and the beautiful ones had the capacity to help produce them yet it never came. This tipping over into irreversible societal collapse came to be known as ‘The Behavioral Sink.’ John Calhoun called it the first death. Death of the mind and soul, leading eventually to the second death, of the physical form. What he meant was that after the first death, the mice were no longer mice and could never be so again.

In a time where people worried about the dangers of people gathering in cities it confirmed their worst fears. The paper, when published, was a massive hit as papers go, it fed into the public consciousness and seemed to match up with the worst of the worries. In 1973, the same year in which the paper was published, the film Soylent Green was released. It depicted a future, an overcrowded world where the population could only survive on Soylent Green, a food handout from the government. The source it turns out, was the more than plentiful supply of human corpses. This change, this innovation was reflected in his experiments. From the cannibalism to the behaviour in desperate mice, John Calhoun noticed that some mice, feral though they were, had to innovate to survive, they became creative.

This purpose of the experiments was not to portend some imminent doom for humanity, in fact Calhoun was trying to be positive. He wanted to change cities, his remedy to the behavioural sink was creativity. By changing society and changing how we designed our cities we could avoid becoming mired, stagnant, and eventually, dead as a dormouse. Over 100 Universes were designed after he published the paper in 1973, these ones designed with the aim of promoting creativity and reducing stagnation.

The fact that nearly everyone who read his research used it to draw out doom caused John Calhoun to become distraught. They missed his point, but still he pressed on. Regardless of what was said, there was science to do. He and others promoted space colonies as a way of advancing human societies and he convinced others to change the way they thought of cities. Bringing in the idea that the places in which people lived could affect their lives in the way they were designed.

For the first time in history, over 50% of the world population exists within cities, and they are safer than ever before, due in part to the ideas drawn from John B. Calhoun and his pungent rodents. His 1973 paper has been classed as one of the 40 most influential psychology papers of all time, and with good reason, it may have indirectly saved thousands of lives.
5  Middle Earth / Silicon Glen / Re: WIFE and HUSBAND on: September 15, 2014, 09:06:49 AM
It's been a long time since anyone posted anything that's on topic in this forum.

Welcome. Smiley
6  Middle Earth / Inn of the Prancing Pony / Re: Rochester Park on: May 09, 2014, 02:29:35 PM
 Shake Head  A certain mod package needs to be installed before you can do that.

And I didn't install it because I would prefer not to have video embedded in a post.
7  Middle Earth / Gondor / Re: Do you believe in UFO? on: November 12, 2012, 07:33:27 AM
Don't think this forum can help you much. It's been pretty dead.

However, you might want to check up the "Ancient Alien" series of documentaries on Discovery Channel for this topic.
8  Middle Earth / Grand Hall / Re: The liberal case against gay marriage on: September 28, 2012, 10:46:13 AM
Homosexuality: What's Choice Got to Do With it?
- by Jim Goad
  February 06, 2012


The Pink Mafia's tirelessly active activists recently upbraided former Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon for insisting that her switch from a heterosexual lifestyle to a lesbian one was a matter of personal choice.

Previously, Nixon had spent 15 years with a man. She even popped out two of his bambinos. But she recently got engaged to her longtime lesbian partner. In an interview published in late January, she told The New York Times:



Quote
I understand that for many people it's not, but for me it's a choice, and you don't get to define my gayness for me
9  Middle Earth / Mordor / Re: Behind Singapore Inc. on: August 25, 2012, 07:44:45 AM
(Part II): 'Gov't must rethink delivery of public services'
By Jeanette Tan | Yahoo! Newsroom
10  Middle Earth / Mordor / Behind Singapore Inc. on: August 25, 2012, 07:38:20 AM
(Part I): The growing class of 'working poor'
By Jeanette Tan | Yahoo! Newsroom
11  Beyond Middle Earth / Rosslyn Chapel / Gay Is Not the New Black on: July 22, 2012, 06:49:42 AM
Gay Is Not the New Black
Voddie Baucham|10:00 PM CT

Voddie Baucham is the pastor of preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, and a Council member for The Gospel Coalition.


It's hard to deny that homosexual marriage appears to be a foregone conclusion in America. This is a frightening prospect not only for those of us who understand marriage to be a testimony of the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church, but also for all who value the family and its contribution to the well-being of society and human thriving. And while it's difficult to watch a coordinated, well-funded, well-connected propaganda strategy undermine thousands of years of human history, it's especially disconcerting to witness the use of the civil rights struggle as the vehicle for the strategy.

The idea that same-sex "marriage" is the next leg in the civil rights race is ubiquitous. One of the clearest examples of the conflation of homosexual "marriage" and civil rights is Michael Gross's article in The Advocate, in which he coins the now-popular phrase "Gay is the new black."1 Gross is not alone in his conflation of the two issues, however. At a 2005 banquet, Julian Bond, former head of the NAACP, said, "Sexual disposition parallels race. I was born this way. I have no choice. I wouldn't change it if I could. Sexuality is unchangeable."2

Nor is this kind of thinking exclusive to the political left. When asked by GQ magazine if he thought homosexuality was a choice, Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, replied:


Quote
Oh, no. I don't think I've ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there's a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can't simply say, oh, like, "Tomorrow morning I'm gonna stop being gay." It's like saying, "Tomorrow morning I'm gonna stop being black."3

Even the California Supreme Court bought in to this line of reasoning. In a February 2008 decision they reasoned:

Quote
Furthermore, in contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual's sexual orientation---like a person's race or gender---does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.4 (emphasis added)

The California Supreme Court, like Gross, would have us believe that the homosexual struggle for a redefinition of marriage puts them in the same category as my ancestors. However, they would rather you didn't take a closer look, lest you see how flimsy the comparison turns out to be.


Unidentifiable Minority

The first problem with the idea of conflating "sexual orientation" and race is the fact that homosexuality is undetectable apart from self-identification. Determining whether or not a person is black, Native American, or female usually involves no more than visual verification. However, should doubt remain, blood tests, genetics, or a quick trip up the family tree would suffice. Not so with homosexuality. There is no evidence that can confirm or deny a person's claims regarding sexual orientation.5

Moreover, the homosexual community itself has made this identification even more complicated in an effort to distance itself from those whose same-sex behavior they find undesirable. The Jerry Sandusky case is a prime example. Sandusky is accused of molesting numerous young boys during and after his tenure at Penn State. However, try placing the label "homosexual" on his activities and the backlash will be swift and unequivocal. "Pedophiles are not homosexuals!" is the consistent refrain coming from the homosexual community, media, academia, and the psychological/medical establishment.6

Hence, it seems same-sex attraction alone isn't enough to identify a person as a homosexual. And what about LUGS7 in college, or same-sex relationships in prison? Are these people homosexual? How about men who are extremely effeminate but prefer women, or those who once were practicing homosexuals but have since come out of the lifestyle (i.e., 1 Cor. 6:9-11)? In short, it's impossible to identify who is or is not a homosexual. As a result, how do we know to whom the civil rights in question should be attributed? Should a man who isn't a homosexual (assuming we could determine such a thing) but tries to enter a same-sex union be treated the same as a woman who isn't Native American but tries to claim it to win sympathy, or casino rights, or votes?

But this isn't the only problem with the civil rights angle.



Unalterable Definition

An additional problem with the "gay is the new black" argument is the complete disconnect between same-sex "marriage" and anti-miscegenation laws. First, there is a categorical disconnect. Miscegenation literally means "the interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types." Ironically, the fact that homosexuals cannot "interbreed" shines a spotlight on the problem inherent in their logic. How can forbidding people who actually have the ability to interbreed be the same thing as acknowledging the fact that two people categorically lack that ability?8

Second, there is a definitional disconnect. The very definition of marriage eliminates the possibility of including same-sex couples. The word marriage has a long and well-recorded history; it means "the union of a man and a woman." Even in cultures that practice polygamy, the definition involves a man and several women. Therefore, while anti-miscegenation laws denied people a legitimate right, the same cannot be said concerning the denial of marriage to same-sex couples; one cannot be denied a right to something that doesn't exist.

It should be noted that the right to marry is one of the most frequently denied rights we have. People who are already married, 12-year-olds, and people who are too closely related are just a few categories of people routinely and/or categorically denied the right to marry. Hence, the charge that it is wrong to deny any person a "fundamental right" rings hollow. There has always been, and, by necessity, will always be discrimination in marriage laws.

Third, there is a historical disconnect. As early as the time of Moses, recorded history is replete with interracial marriages. In our own history, the marriage of John Rolfe and Pocahontas in the 17th century,9 along with the fact that anti-miscegenation laws were usually limited only to the intermarrying of certain "races" of people (i.e., black and white), stands as historical evidence of the legal and logical inconsistency of such laws. Thus, unlike same-sex "marriage" advocates, those fighting for the right to intermarry in the civil rights era had history on their side.

Fourth, there is a legal disconnect. One thing that seems to escape most people in this debate is the fact that homosexuals have never been denied the right to marry. They simply haven't had the right to redefine marriage. But don't take my word for it; listen to the Iowa Supreme Court in their decision in favor of same-sex "marriage": "It is true the marriage statute does not expressly prohibit gay and lesbian persons from marrying; it does, however, require that if they marry, it must be to someone of the opposite sex."

There it is: not only in black and white, but in a legal decision. Homosexuals haven't been deprived of any right. How, then, do those on the side of same-sex marriage continue to make the claim that this is a civil rights issue? The key is in the next paragraph:


Quote
[The] right of a gay or lesbian person under the marriage statute to enter into a civil marriage only with a person of the opposite sex is no right at all. Under such a law, gay or lesbian individuals cannot simultaneously fulfill their deeply felt need for a committed personal relationship, as influenced by their sexual orientation, and gain the civil status and attendant benefits granted by the statute.

I feel the need to remind the reader that this is a legal decision, since phrases like "gay or lesbian individuals cannot simultaneously fulfill their deeply felt need for a committed personal relationship" tend to sound out of place in such a document. Further, this is asinine logic. For example, following this line of reasoning, one could argue, "I have the right to join the military, but I am a pacifist. Therefore, I don't really have the right (since it would be repulsive to me). Therefore, we need to establish a pacifist branch of the military so that I can fulfill both my desire to join, and my desire not to fight."

However, this reasoning is critically important in order to make the next leap in logic. "[A] gay or lesbian person can only gain the same rights under the statute as a heterosexual person by negating the very trait that defines gay and lesbian people as a class---their sexual orientation."



Unsustainable Precedent

Perhaps the most damning aspect of the civil rights argument is logical unsustainability. If sexual orientation/identity is the basis for (1) classification as a minority group, and (2) legal grounds for the redefinition of marriage, then what's to stop the "bisexual" from fighting for the ability to marry a man and a woman simultaneously since his "orientation" is, by definition, directed toward both sexes?10 What about the member of NAMBLA whose orientation is toward young boys?11 Where do we stop, and on what basis?

Homosexual advocates are loath to answer this question. In fact, they are adept at avoiding it (and are rarely pressed on the point). However, the further legal implications of court decisions about same-sex marriage are inevitable. Nowhere is this clearer than in Lawrence v. Texas, a decision that struck down anti-sodomy laws. In the majority decision, Justice Kennedy cited his 1992 opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey:


Quote
These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.12

I have no legal training, and I recognize the limits of my ability to fully evaluate the implications of such a decision. However, I do take notice when Justice Scalia responds to this assertion by stating:

Quote
I have never heard of a law that attempted to restrict one's "right to define" certain concepts; and if the passage calls into question the government's power to regulate actions based on one's self-defined "concept of existence, etc.," it is the passage that ate the rule of law.13 (emphasis added)

It is very important for those of us who oppose the idea of same-sex "marriage" to do so not because we wish to preserve our version of the American Dream, but because we view marriage as a living, breathing picture of the relationship between Christ and his church (Eph. 5:22ff), and because we know that God has designed the family in a particular way. While the design of the family promotes human thriving (Gen 1:27-28), the testimony points people to their only hope in this life and the next. As a result, silence on this issue is not an option.

Unfortunately (and quite ironically), many Christians have been bullied into silence by the mere threat of censure from the homosexual lobby. "Oppose us and you're no better than Gov. Wallace, Hitler, and those homophobes who killed Matthew Shepard!" is their not-so-subtle refrain. Consequently, we spend so much time trying to prove we're not hate-filled murderers that we fail to recognize that the Emperor has no clothes. There is no legal, logical, moral, biblical, or historical reason to support same-sex "marriage." In fact, there are myriad reasons not to support it. I've only provided a few.


---

1 Michael Joseph Gross, "Gay is the New Black," The Advocate, November 16, 2008 (available online at http://www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail_ektid65744.asp).

2 Ertha Melzer, "NAACP chair says 'gay rights are civil rights,'" Washington Blade, April 8, 2005. It should also be noted that the NAACP recently endorsed same-sex marriage (http://graftedthemovie.blogspot.com/p/watch-grafted.html)---significant since the organization exists for the "Advancement of 'Colored' People."

3 Micheal Steele interview in "The Reconstructionist," by Lisa Paulo, GQ (March 2009), available at http://www.gq.com/blogs/the-q/2009/03/-the-reconstructionist-michael-steele.html.

4 http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/archive/S147999.PDF

5 Even if brain studies, twin studies, etc., provided conclusive links (which they do not), one would still be left with the fact that while blackness and maleness are attributes one cannot deny, homosexual behavior is not. Thus, even if there were a genetic connection, it would be insufficient to propel sexual orientation into the same category as race or sex.

6 http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201111170008

7 The term "Lesbian Until Graduation" refers to young women who participate in lesbian relationships only during the duration of their college life.

8 It is important to note that this is a categorical distinction, and not a determination based on fertility. Otherwise, the same could be said about men and women beyond child-bearing years, or those with defects preventing conception.

9 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/pocahontas-marries-john-rolfe. Though it is commonly thought that Pocahontas married John Smith, it was actually English tobacco farmer John Rolfe whom she married on April 5, 1614, in Jamestown, Virginia.

10 See Elizabeth Emens's February 2003 Chicago Law School White paper, MONOGAMY'S LAW: COMPULSORY MONOGAMY AND POLYAMOROUS EXISTENCE, available at http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/58-monogamy.pdf.

11 North American Man/Boy Love Association. Their motto is "Eight is Too Late." http://www.nambla.org

12 Justice Kennedy Majority Opinion, "John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner, Petitioners V. Texas " in 539 U. S. (2003), ed. Supreme Court of the United States (2003).

13 Antonin Scalia Dissenting Opinion, "John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner, Petitioners V. Texas " in 539 U. S. (2003), ed. Supreme Court of the United States (2003)
12  Beyond Middle Earth / Rosslyn Chapel / The Truth About Tithing on: July 13, 2012, 12:27:23 AM
The Truth About Tithing

The Truth About Tithing—Old Testament Perspective
-By George Potkonyak
(Some Scripture quotes are abbreviated to save space, and are taken from the NKJ version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson Inc. Emphases in CAPITALS are mine.)

A. INTRODUCTION

Glory to God! Ever since an early edition of this article appeared on the web pages of a few of those truth-hungry, God-fearing brothers and sisters, I have received numerous messages from the 'ordinary' believers and from some ministers of the gospel, which kept giving me a new Strength each time I felt like quitting. As I write these words, four years after being expelled from my church for the intention to publish the matter on tithing, I am in the midst of a situation where, it appears, the whole hell has come out to stop me. I nearly succumbed in face of a heavy price that I am most likely going to pay. But God has shown me in a dream that I might indeed be asked for a sacrifice, not because the devil won, but because it is the way God wants it for His glory - and I am ready to accept.

Lately, I've been getting comments from brothers and sisters who claim that they are being set free from the curse of 'tithing doctrine' to which they were subject before they learned the truth from the Word of God, guided by this article. THIS gives me an extra strength to go on!

Significantly, I have yet to receive a single comment pointing to errors in what I have written. It is not to say that there are no errors, however the silence of the critics speaks louder than any words.

Why this edition? Firstly, to add this introduction. Secondly, there are some new insights that I have gained since last edition - or rather, some additional facts. Thirdly, I'll try to reduce the number of cynical remarks I made towards the present-day teaching and teachers.

Again, I will not be contesting the issue of whether the tithing law is valid for the NT church or not. I will give its true definition as it comes from the Word of God. Whether it is used as a law or as a guide (the OT 'shadow' of the NT real thing), it us up to each believer to decide on.

1. TITHING ACCORDING TO GOD

1.1 Paraphrase of God's Commandments on Tithing to the Israelites


One tenth of all your income is Mine, and it is holy unto Me. (Ref. Lev.27:30) Therefore, I, as the rightful Owner of the 10% of your every pay cheque, command you the following:

a) Take the tenth portion of your pay cheque, which is Mine, go and have fun. Spend it on you and your family, for whatever your heart desires.(Ref. Deu.12:5-7; Deu.12:10-12; Deu.12:17-18; Deu.14:22-26)

b) However, do not forget those whom I have called into My ministry and those who are poor: take 10% of your every THIRD pay check and do not spend it on yourself and your family, but rather give it to them. (Ref. Deu.12:19; Deu.14:27-29; Deu.26:12-13)

c) Remember: one tenth of your income is My holy tithe, and you MUST

NOT use it for ANY unclean thing, that is, for ANYTHING, but for what I have commanded you. (Ref. Deu.26: 14)

Observe the above commandments so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God, and I will bless you and I will prosper you in everything that you do. (Ref. Deu.14:23; Deu.14:29)

In other words, God said: "Throw in a party - and I'll pay the bill. However, do not forget those whom I have called into my ministry, and those who are less fortunate than you - and I will bless you."

1.2. God's Commandments on Tithing

The above is a paraphrase of the Old Testament law of tithing, and if anyone believes that tithing law or the tithing principle applies to the New Testament church - this is it.

In order to understand it better, it is necessary to go in detail through the teaching of the Old Testament, as stated by the apostle Paul:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

At the time of writing the above epistle, apostle Paul had in mind only what we know now as the Old Testament. For the sake of clarity, it will be necessary to go through some minute detail, so as not to leave any room for speculation.

The following verses are most often quoted by those who teach on tithing:

Mal 3:8-12 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.

The key to understanding of what God is talking about here is in the verse preceding the above quotation:

Mal.3:7 "Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from MY ORDINANCES and have not kept them..." Where are these ordinances found? In the Bible, of course.

Deu.12:17-19 (God's commandment to the Israelites) "You may not eat within your gates the TITHE of your grain or your new wine... But YOU MUST EAT THEM before the Lord your God... you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God..."

Deu.14:22-23 (God's commandment to the Israelites) "You shall truly tithe all the increase... year by year. And YOU SHALL EAT before the Lord your God... the TITHE of your grain and your new wine... that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always."

Deu.14:24-26 (God's commandment to the Israelites) "But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the TITHE... then you shall exchange it for money. And YOU SHALL SPEND THAT MONEY for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; YOU SHALL EAT there before the Lord your God and you shall rejoice, YOU AND YOUR HOUSEHOLD."

The above quotes are COMMANDMENTS OF GOD concerning tithing: He instructed the Israelites to EAT THEIR TITHES before the Lord, rejoicing. We have to bear in mind that these commandments were given to Moses, to pass them on to the Israelites, while they were still in the wilderness, and they were to be observed after the Israelites crossed the Jordan river and possessed the promised land (Ref. Deu.12:5-9).

The Israelites were supposed to take their tithes to the appointed place and EAT THEM there before the Lord, rejoicing, TOGETHER with their family, their servants and their local Levite - in other words, to have some fun.

One thing is important to remember here: the Israelites DID NOT LEAVE ANY PORTION OF TITHES at the appointed place - the tithes were supposed to be consumed in an atmosphere of celebration, sharing, and communion with God.

1.3. The Nature and the Selection of Tithes

Lev.27:30 (God's commandment to the Israelites) "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's. IT IS HOLY TO THE LORD."

Lev.27:32-33 (God's commandment to the Israelites) "And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be HOLY TO THE LORD. He shall not inquire whether it is GOOD OR BAD..."

Firstly, there were several types of tithes, according to the source of Israelites' income: the tithes from the land (seed and fruit) and the tithes from the domestic animals (flock and herd). In other words, God expected His people to set aside one tenth of ALL "increase" (income).

The second point worth remembering is the fact that tithe was SELECTED AT RANDOM, "whether it is good or bad".

The third and a very important point is: the tithes were HOLY TO THE LORD. What does this mean? It simply means that they were to be used ACCORDING TO GOD'S INSTRUCTION and not for any other purpose, no matter how 'godly' that purpose may appear.

1.4. The "Year of Tithing"

Deu.14:27-29 (God's commandment to the Israelites) "You shall not forsake the Levite... at the end of EVERY THIRD YEAR you shall BRING THE TITHE of your produce of THAT YEAR and store it up WITHIN YOUR GATES. And the LEVITE, and the FATHERLESS and the WIDOW... may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may BLESS YOU in all the work of your hand which you do."

As you can see, God has not forgotten those whom He has called into His ministry, He has allocated them a just portion - on average, about ONE THIRD OF 10% of an ordinary Israelite's income. The Israelites were to leave one tenth of their income of every THIRD year "within your gates" (this is the storehouse!) from which the Levites and those in need were to get their food. This "storehouse" is mentioned in Malachi 3, and mind you, it was to be accessed not only by the Levites, but by the poor as well.

Levites were allocated cities within each tribal land ("within your gates") in which they were to live with their families and, apart from houses, they were allocated "pasture land". This pasture land was a part of the storehouse in which the tithes were deposited: some of the tithes were in the form of grain, seed, wine, oil and other farm produce, and some were actually live domestic animals, rather than killed meat. These animals which were received as a tithe were to be pastured till they were taken and killed for food, either by the Levites, or by those in need. Therefore, the storehouse mentioned in Malachi 3 is not the place of worship, but rather a place within each tribal land, easily accessible to the local Levites, the poor and the strangers on their journey.

God mentions the third year - "the year of tithing" again:

Deu.26:12 (God's commandment to the Israelites) "When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase IN THE THIRD YEAR - THE YEAR OF TITHING - and have given it to the LEVITE, the STRANGER, the FATHERLESS and the WIDOW, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled..."

THIS is the portion of the tithes that is actually GIVEN AWAY by the Israelites - one tenth of their income of every THIRD year, not of every year - and this portion is not taken to the place of worship, but to one of the storehouses within the tribal land.

Deu 26:13-14 "...then you shall say before the Lord your God: 'I have removed the holy tithes from my house, and have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, ACCORDING TO ALL YOUR COMMANDMENTS which You have commanded me... nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use... I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done ACCORDING TO ALL THAT YOU HAVE COMMANDED ME."

1.5. Alternative Interpretations

There is a teaching which claims that God instituted three tithes:

a) 10% every year for the believers themselves,
b) 10% every third year for the Levites and the poor, and
c) a full 10% every year for the Levites.

There is NO SUCH COMMANDMENT in the Bible which requires that Israelites

give away 10% of their income of every year to the Levites. The text that could possibly be wrongly interpreted as the 'third tithe' is found in:

Numbers 18:21 (God speaking to Aaron) "Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel..."

The above is clearly not a commandment. It is just a statement by God to Aaron, which is often presented as God's commandment. God's way of giving commandments in the OT was through Moses and He normally made it clear that it was a commandment. Besides, when you read those verses in Deuteronomy, it is clear that a portion of tithes is consumed by the Israelites themselves, and some, by those in need, therefore, ALL tithes were not be given to the Levites.

The word translated as "all" in the above verse is a Hebrew word that sounds like "kol" and may mean "of all", as in the passage where God commanded Israelites what to eat and what not to eat when He said something like "... you shall eat all [kol] the fish...", (eg.Lev.11:9) meaning "...you shall eat OF ALL the fish...". So, what "of all" the tithes may mean? If we look at Lev.27 from verse 30 on, we will find that God talks about tithes of the land (grain and fruit) and tithes of herd and flock. "Of all the tithes", therefore means, the Levites were to receive their portion from every kind of Israelites' income.

I must say it again: God NEVER issued a commandment that directs the Israelites to give 10% of their income of every year to the Levites, therefore, based on the law of tithing, there is no equivalent principle for the believers today to give 10% of their income to the church.

Another false interpretation is that the tithes which Israelites were supposed to use for the feast, are actually given to the Levites at the place of worship, except that only a small portion is consumed by the Israelites as a token in response to God's commandment. This is clearly a wrong interpretation. Firstly, there is not a single word in the Bible that might even suggest this. Secondly, it does not make sense: if the Levites were to get this portion, they would have to travel to the place of worship (most probably together with their Israelite neighbours who are carrying the tithes), only to take the tithes over from the Israelites, and to carry them back to near from where they originally came.

1.6. There is only one tithe - the four proofs

Proof No. 1

Here is, so to speak, mathematical proof: If we check Numbers, chapters 1-3, we will find that there were approximately 30 to 33 Israelites to one Levite. Now, assume 32 Israelites with an 'increase' of 100 sheep a year each. If each Israelite would give his tithe of 10 sheep to the Levite, the Levite's total income would be 320 sheep, of which he would have to give a tithe of 32 sheep to the priests, as per Num.18:26. Each Israelite would be left with 90 sheep out of his 'increase'. Let's assume, that was what was needed to feed an average family for a year. On the other hand, each Levite would end up with 288 sheep. If we add the tithe of every third year, the year of tithing, the balance in favour of the Levite would swing even further.

What would the Levite do with all these sheep? If he would use the whole lot to feed his family, the tribe of Levy would become extinct in few generations: they would be dying from overeating at a much higher rate than the rest of Israelites. The second possibility would be that there were so many poor people and strangers, who would consume about two-thirds of tithes, that is, God planned that two-thirds of tithes belong to the poor and strangers.

The third possibility could be that the Levite would consume about 90 sheep, give some to the poor, and be left with a healthy surplus. This surplus sheep would breed and very soon the Levites would have income of their own. By continuing with collection of tithes, they would very soon run out of the pasture land and would be forced to exchange some flock for land. Continuing with this practice for fifty years would probably result in Levites owning all the land in Israel! And then the Jubilee year would come and they would have to return the land to their original owners – back to square one! Would this make sense?

And, of course, there is a fourth possibility: the Levites would consume as much of the tithes as they needed, give some to the poor and the strangers, and sell the rest, get the money into their hands and go and proselyte (evangelise) the world. A real possibility, however, the Word of God makes no mention of it. Besides, if it were the case, with all the surplus tithes, by the time Jesus came, the whole world would have been turned to Judaism! The conclusion is obvious: Tithes were not supposed to be used to proselyte (evangelise) the world.

Now imagine, as I concluded from the Scripture, that Israelites give 10% of their income to the Levites every third year only. 32 Israelites with an annual increase of 100 sheep each, would have 300 sheep of increase each in three years. Each one would give 10 sheep (a tithe of the third year) to the Levite, and be left with 290 sheep (for three years) as his increase. The Levite would receive 320 sheep, of which he would have to give his tithe of 32 sheep to the priests, and be left with 288 sheep as his after-tithe income over three years - nearly an EXACT number with which each Israelite would be left. THIS does make sense - this is the principle of equality!

One may conclude that the Levite would be left with less than the above figures suggest, because he is to allow the strangers and the poor to partake in the tithes. We must remember that the other two years, while the Israelites are using their tithes for the celebration, they are to invite their local Levites to the feasts, thus making up for the shortfall.

Proof No. 2

Let's assume for a moment that we really have three tithes: when we look back to Leviticus 27 we will find that the tithe from the flock and herd was selected by counting every tenth animal that passes under the rod. Assume an Israelite with 1,000 head of sheep as his increase. If he is to select the 'first' tithe, according to God's commandment he will count every tenth one that passes under the rod and take 100 of them aside, and be left with 900 animals only. Now, how is he going to select the 'second' tithe? If he obeys God's commandment on the method of selection, and again selects every tenth one that passes under the rod, he will select only 90 animals, and this is not one tenth of his increase, therefore it is not a tithe. It is even worse with the 'third' tithe: he will take only 81 animals. So, if one is to dig in more than once to take a tithe from his income, he will default either on the commandment on the selection of the tithes or on the very amount: the tithe will no longer be one tenth, therefore, not a tithe at all. And, mind you, the tithes are holy, therefore, have to be handled EXACTLY as commanded by God!

Proof No. 3

Deu.26:12 (God's commandment to the Israelites) "When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in THE THIRD YEAR - the year of tithing - and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates AND BE FILLED..."

It is quite clear from the above that the tithe of the third year – the year of tithing is quite sufficient to FULLY provide for the Levites AND the poor AND the stranger. It is not only the food, but all the other stuff that an Israelite would produce (wool, fur, skin etc...) was subject to tithing, thus providing Levites and the poor with ALL they need for living. Mind you, they had their own houses, and the strangers are lodged by the locals for the duration of their stay.

Proof No. 4

It is well known fact that the devil imitates everything that God does or says, by twisting it to his liking in such a way that the feeble-minded believers are mislead and believe that it is of God. When it comes to tithing, he did the same. I read a 'tithing doctrine' taught by the spiritualists (witches). The teaching is IDENTICAL to the one many churches that 'believe in tithing' teach: Leave 10% of all your income in the place where you receive your 'spiritual food'. Devil didn't have to twist the Word of God, it's been already done for him by the church - he couldn't have done a better job himself! He was even more merciful than\ some of the churches: he left out the 'offerings besides'. Sorry, if some get offended by this statement - I meant no offence.

In conclusion: there is no such thing as the 'second' or the 'third' tithe - period.

There is only one tithe - 10% of the Israelite's income - which he spends on feasting, fellowship and celebration with his family two years out of three, and gives it to the Levites and the poor every third year.



2. THE LAW AND THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW

2.1. The Law


Deu. 12:32 "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it: you shall not add to it nor take away from it."

Here is the essence of the Law: Do it EXACTLY as commanded, or else...

Deu. 27:26 "Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law..." [see also Deu. 28:58-68]

I don't think there is a need to comment on the above verses; they speak clearly, without a need for anybody's interpretation. I'd like to mention another verse, and I'll leave it there.

Deu. 27:19 "Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless and widow."

When talking about tithing, anyone who collects tithes and does not give of them to those in need, better be aware of this verse.

2.2. The Spirit of the Law

So far I have presented, so to speak, the letter of the Law concerning tithing. As we can see, God has instituted tithing, not as a burden to His people, but rather as a blessing: "...that it may go well with you and your children after you forever..." [Deu.12:28]; "...that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always..." [Deu.14:23]; "...that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do." [Deu.14:29].

However, there is one condition: that we do it according to His commandments, not according to some other definition.

Apart from the above promises of God to those who obey His commandments, what else can we see in the ordinances concerning tithing? What is the spirit of the Law of tithing?

First of all, it is obedience to God: there is no need to elaborate on this any further. The second important point is that, through tithing, Israelites expressed their thankfulness to God Who provided for them all those earthly goods that they needed to sustain their lives. Tithe was a token of that appreciation.

The third and important point is that tithing was a vehicle of sharing. This sharing was demonstrated at two levels. Firstly, sharing between the Israelites who received their inheritance from God (the life sustaining land) and those who did not posses such inheritance, the Levites, the strangers and the poor. If we examine the figures, the number of Israelites versus the number of Levites and the percentage that the Israelites were to give to the Levites (one third of 10%) we will find that each would end up with an equal share. This is the principle that was observed in the distribution of manna: one who gathered much had nothing left over and the one who gathered little had no lack.

The second level of sharing was the community sharing, where people would come together with their families and neighbours and share in the atmosphere of joy and celebration before the Lord.

It is worth observing that tithing was not a vehicle to 'build the kingdom' or to 'save the souls' or to support some other 'godly' project.


3. ABRAHAM'S 'TITHING PRINCIPLE'

Before I address the New Testament I'd like to briefly mention an Old Testament passage very often mentioned in connection with tithing.

We all know that Abraham gave to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God, "tithes of all" (Gen.14:20). Many proponents of tithing are using this verse to 'prove' tithing is valid (as some 'eternal principle') for the church today, because Abraham, the father of our faith, established the principle. So, let's examine the 'Abraham's tithing principle'.

1. Abraham gave 10% to the priest. (Ref. Gen.14:20)
Comment: so far, so good.

2. Abraham gave from the spoils he repossessed from the enemy kings. (Ref. Gen.14:20-23; Heb.7:4)
Comment: This fact has been mostly ignored by those preaching the 'Abraham's principle'.

3. Abraham gave the remaining 90% to those to whom the goods belonged in the first place. (Ref. Gen.14:23)
Comment: as in 2 above.

4. Abraham gave only once in his lifetime (as far as the Bible recorded).
Comment: as in 2 above.

5. Abraham had not touched his own property or income (he was exceedingly wealthy).
Comment: as in 2 above.

It appears to me that proponents of the 'Abraham's principle' are very selective: they adopt one out of five points from Abraham's example on tithing - or possibly two out of six, if we add the 'principle' that Melchizedek, after receiving tithes, did not appear to be accountable to anyone on the use of the tithes.


4. THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH

Since the purpose of this article is not to discuss the issue of whether tithing is valid for the NT church, but rather to expound the OT doctrine of tithing, only a brief mention of some of the NT teaching will made.

4.1. Sharing with the Saints in Need

2 Cor.8:13-15: "For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an EQUALITY, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack - that there may be equality. As it is written: 'He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack'".

In 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 apostle Paul is talking about sharing among the Christians: if one group of them is in need, the others who are better off should help them out. He is referring to a particular point in time when a famine came over the land of Judea, as prophesied by the prophet Agabus (Ref. Acts 11:28). So the people from Achaia and Macedonia collected their donations and sent them to Jerusalem church for the distribution among the saints who were affected by the famine.

These chapters are very often used as an example of giving to the church for the 'building of the kingdom', however, it is incorrect.

2 Cor.9:9 "As it is written: 'He has dispersed abroad, He has given TO THE POOR; His righteousness endures forever'."

2 Cor.9:12 "For the administration of this service not only supplies the NEEDS OF THE SAINTS, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God".

It is in connection with this GIVING TO THOSE IN NEED that Paul wrote:

2 Cor.9:6-7 "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver".

4.2. Support of those in the Ministry

It is in 1 Corinthians, chapter 9, where apostle Paul argues the case that those who are called to preach the gospel ought to live by the gospel.

1 Cor.9:14 "Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel".

He was probably referring to the words of Jesus when He was sending His disciples out to preach the Kingdom: He commanded them not to take any money with them, and to rely for their provision on those to whom they were sent to preach.

Luke 10:7 "And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the labourer is worthy of his wages..."

Apostle Paul refers to the Old Testament in order to support his argument that those who sow spiritual things should reap the material things (v.11) but he never mentions tithing.

Jesus mentioned tithing only once (Mat.23:23, Luke 11:42) where He approved of it. It must be born in mind that He referred to the Jews, and that at that time, the New Testament was not in force as yet. On the other hand, apostle Paul, even when writing about the support of those who are called to preach the gospel (the New Testament 'Levites' - so to speak), does not mention tithing. Admittedly, he does call on to the Old Testament (1 Cor.9:Cool but in verse 9 he refers to something other than the law of tithing.

So, my advise remains: if you believe that tithing is valid for the New Testament church - go for it. I have shown you from the Word of God what tithing is. If you believe that the New Testament giving is the matter of the heart - go for it. In absence of the clear leading by the Holy Spirit, you may use the law of tithing as a guide when setting up your level of giving for the support of those who minister to you spiritually, and to those who are in need, without neglecting some fun with your own family.


5. GIVING TO THE POOR

I examined hundreds of references in the Bible in order to find to which kind of giving God gives most prominence. One does not have to be a skilled statistician to quickly conclude that God speaks about giving to the needy more often than about all other giving put together. And He stated, in the OT and the NT that the poor will always be among us.

Deu.15:11 (God speaking) "For the poor will NEVER cease from the land..."

Mark.14:7 (Jesus speaking) "For you have the poor with you ALWAYS, and whenever you wish, you may do them good..."

Now, let's see first what the OT says about giving to the poor.

Ps.41:1 "Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble."

Prov.19:17 "He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given."

Prov.22:19 "He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor."

What is the Bible teaching us? Those who give to the poor can expect only blessing; not from those to whom they give, but from God Himself. Even if the needy do not happen to be in your denomination, or your country, or even if he is your enemy, do not let it worry you.

Prov.25:21-22 "If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you."

Now, let's consider some more Bible teaching on giving (or lack of it) to the poor:

Prov.28:27 "He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses."

Prov.21:13 "Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard."

The above two verses are worthy of a long hard look. Now, Malachi 3 makes sense: God was telling the Israelites they were cursed because they robbed Him, by not following HIS ORDINANCES and not having food in His storehouse. In Deuteronomy chapters 14 and 26 He speaks specifically of the portion of the tithes that goes to the storehouse, not only to feed the Levites but also the poor. So, part of the tithes given by the believers belongs to the poor.

Here is another verse that will clearly demonstrate what God thinks about those who don't allow the poor their portion:

Deu.27:19 "Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow."

The following verse is very interesting:

Prov.22:16 "He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty."

Who is the one who robs the poor? If someone is poor there is nothing to rob him of - you may say. Not so! Poor have their inheritance from God: they stand side-by-side with the Levite to get THEIR portion from the storehouse where TITHES are stored. So, whoever denies them access to that "storehouse", he is oppressing the poor. And what is his destiny? He will come to poverty, says the Lord.

We all know about God's judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah, and think of the "sodomites" as the cause of this judgement. But, let's see what the Word says about it.

Eze.16:49 "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; NEITHER DID SHE STRENGTHEN THE HAND OF THE POOR AND NEEDY."

Another passage from the OT is worth mention in connection with taking care of the poor and needy.

Isa.58:6-12 Is this not the fast that I have chosen:... Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him... then your light will break forth like the morning... your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call and the Lord shall answer...

Right here is the "formula" to get God's attention to our prayers. We don't have to starve ourselves for days on end, expecting God's pity and His answer to our prayers. His method is much easier and His burden much lighter.

Now, let's see what the New Testament teaches on this subject. I would not think that the God of the New Testament is less concerned with the well-being of the poor, than the God of the Old Testament - He is one and the same God, He changes not!

Mat.19:21 (Jesus speaking) "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give TO THE POOR, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (also Mark 10:21 and Luke 18:22)

Luke 12:33-34 (Jesus speaking) "Sell what you have and GIVE ALMS [to the poor]; provide yourselves a treasure in heaven... for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

One may say that Jesus contradicts Himself with the statement that the costly perfume which Mary used to anoint Him should not be sold and given to the poor, but rather used to anoint Him for His burial (Mark14:3-9).

There is no contradiction here: Jesus was about to be buried on that particular occasion - and to never be buried again!

Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatian church, recalls the commission given to him and Barnabas by the elders and apostles in Jerusalem when they were sent out to preach to the Gentiles.

Gal.2:10 "They desired ONLY that we should remember the poor, THE VERY THING which I also was eager to do."

Jesus' parable in Matthew 25 deserves careful consideration. He talks about two groups of people being judged: those on the right (the sheep) were those who took care of the poor and those on the left (the goats) were those who ignored the poor. What happened to those on the left? They were thrown into the lake of fire! Who were they? The unbelievers ("the world")? We should consider it carefully. Jesus said that the world was already judged, therefore there is no need for it to come for the judgement. Consider Matthew 25:44, they (the "goats") said, "Lord, when did we see You hungry..?". They addressed Him as the "Lord". Were they really "the world"?


6. CHURCH EXPENSES

Lev.24:1-2 "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: "Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to make the lamps burn continually."

The above commandment to the Israelites is a clear indication that God expected them to meet some running costs of the place of worship. He mentioned oil only. What were the other expenses? I cannot think of any except the wood for the fire on the altar of burnt offering. Offerings themselves, came from the Israelites as per commandments relating to the offerings.

Neh.10:34 "We cast lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for bringing the wood offering into the house of our God.."

We see here how Nehemiah and the elders solved the problem of the wood supply. It was a matter of putting in some work required to cut and bring the wood in. All of the people participated in the "draw", including the Levites and the priests.

Neh.10:32 "Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God..."

Nehemiah and the elders decided to meet the running cost of the temple

In a prescribed manner - each family giving a flat rate. Please note: one-third of a shekel (of silver) is not much by any standard. They were very modest.

So, according to the word of God, the church running costs should be met by the believers according to the decision of the elders, with everybody participating.

Should the church finances be separated into two funds: one for the support of those in the ministry and the help to the poor, and one for covering the running costs of the church? According to the Old Testament: Yes. The tithes were holy to the Lord and were not to be profaned in any way. When it comes to the New Testament it is not so clear, for there was no mention of the church running costs.


7. CHURCH BUILDING

7.1. The Tabernacle


Ex.25:1 "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering'."

As we know, God commanded Moses to build Him a tent (tabernacle) and He gave detailed plans to Moses. How were the Israelites to meet the building costs? They were on their way from slavery - they would not be expected to have much to give. But as we read on, we find the Israelites, not only met the needs, but had to be told to stop giving, for there was too much in the offering (Ex.36:5-7). I would like to make a couple of observations here:

a. If the giving is truly to God's purpose, His people are willing to give even above the requirements, and

b) If the giving is for God's purpose, leaders will acknowledge when the requirements have been met, and ask God's people to stop bringing more.

Ex.35:21 "Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord's offering for work of the tabernacle of the meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments."

Where did all these riches come from? If we read Ex.11:2-3 we will see that God planned the whole thing perfectly Himself. He told the Israelites, while still in Egypt, to go to their Egyptian neighbours and ask for gold and silver. God gave them favour in the eyes of the Egyptians. What I am driving at is this: It was God's idea to build, He gave the plan and He organised the funding, the source of funds being the people outside of His kingdom, ie. the unbelievers.

7.2. The First Temple

1 Chr.29:2-3 (king David speaking) "Now for the house of my God I have prepared with all my might... I have given... my own special treasure of gold and silver..."

We know king David's desire to build the temple, but the Bible does not say whether this desire was inspired by God or not. It does say though that God provided the building plan (1Chr.28:12, 19), thus approving the idea. And where did the funds come from? In the above verse we see that king David provided a large portion of the funds and we know where these riches came from: from the conquest of the ungodly nations in the promised land. In king David's own words:

1Chr.29:16 "O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own..."

1Chr.29:6 "Then the leaders... the captains... the officers... offered willingly."

1Chr.29:9 "Then the people rejoiced..."

The nobles and the rich of the land followed the example of their king.

And what did the people do? They rejoiced! When it came to the actual building work, who did it?

2Chr.1:17-18 "Then Solomon numbered all the aliens who were in the land... and he made... them bearers of the burden... stonecutters."

As we know, the aliens were the slaves made up of the population of conquered nations. No ordinary Israelite was asked to bear this burden.

The only time the Israelites were asked to do something, was when they were sent to Tyre to bring the cedar wood, and I believe they were paid for that work. The slaves could not be sent out of the land for fear they would not return.

What do we see in the above example? God provided the building plans (it

was His project) and He made sure that the resources were available, coming mainly from the "outsiders".

7.3. The Second Temple

Ezra 1:1-4 "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia... [king] made proclamation... 'He [God] has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem...' ."

Again, it was God's idea or rather, it was His commandment to build. Ezra 1:6-7; 2:67-68; 3:7 talks about king Cyrus giving "articles of the house of the Lord" and offerings of the leaders of Israel and the free will offerings of the people. Where did the resources for the building of the temple come from? Again, mainly from the "outsiders"!

When it comes to the building of the places of worship, there is no direct "perpetual" commandment in the OT and not even an example of any building project in the NT. So, what is my advice?

If there is a clear indication that it is God's idea to build a place of worship, you will find that (most of) the finances will come from those outside of the church. That will be a clear indication that it is God's plan. Then, if need be, get involved! Otherwise, think twice before you subscribe to any building fund. Why? I have seen some extravagant spending on church buildings that border on lunacy. People were drained of their resources so they were unable to meet other expectations toward their God. And a big question is: to whom do the buildings belong? The church? What happens when the "church" folds, as is so often the case???

Please, do not misunderstand me. If it is economically more sound to build than to rent, fine. Let the elders and the financial experts work out what is the best solution and if it is to build, then build. But, to be fair to each contributor, in case he/she decides to leave the church, let each one who contributes hold shares in the building ownership.

If the decision is, that it is better to build, once the church occupies its own building, it would be fair to advise the believers that the church running costs have been reduced (remember: it was an economical decision to build) so that they can adjust their level of contribution to the church's running costs.


8. MONEY CHANGERS

Luke 19:45-46 Then He [Jesus] went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, "It is written, 'My house is a house of prayer' and you have made it a 'den of thieves' ".

I have heard and read numerous examples where so-called ministers of the Word teach the most stupid and most ridiculous 'giving principles' which, astonishingly, many, even 'the elect' believers, fall for. As we have seen from the Biblical teaching on the subject of tithing and giving, there is definitely a blessing for the giver - God ordained it so. But also, if a believer is not careful with his giving, he will end up with curses rather than with blessings, or at best, with wasted money.

It is the ignorance of the people of God that causes excesses in the church, as much as false teaching. If believers would pay more attention to the Biblical truth, there would be less room for these 'teachers' to propagate their self-centered 'doctrines'.

Some, so-called Christian ministries have accumulated great wealth, not by preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, but by teaching the 'prosperity doctrine'. There are books and circular letters written on how to get 'prosperous' and, of course, each ending with an invitation to give to that particular ministry, which will in turn pray for you, and you will get blessed. They talk about 'faith', about 'mixing giving with prayers', about 'agreeing' on your wish, about all kinds of superstition and witchcraft, which many believers fall for.

Most commonly used technique by some unscrupulous 'teachers' is to quote an isolated event from the Bible and then turn it into a 'principle' which we, if we are 'godly', should follow. These 'principles' have as much weight as the 'principle' that if a man grows long hair he will posses a supernatural strength as Samson did. There is only one principle that we have to bear in mind:

Deu.28:1-2 "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe CAREFULLY all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, BECAUSE YOU OBSERVE THE VOICE OF THE LORD YOUR GOD."

John 14:15 (Jesus speaking) "If you love Me, keep My commandments."

John 15:7 (Jesus speaking) "If you abide in Me, AND MY WORDS abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you."

John 15:10 (Jesus speaking) "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love."

An often quoted example is the account of the prophet Elijah and the poor widow whose son was raised from the dead, supposedly, as a result of her giving to the man of God. So, if you give to the 'man of God' you may expect a miracle in your life. Few of them mention that, in that particular instance, God actually commanded the widow to give food to the prophet, so she did, she obeyed God's specific instruction; therefore, the principle is: "Obey God's commandment", rather than "give to (any who claim to be) the man of God".

1 Kings 17:8-9 "Then the word of the Lord came to him [Elijah], saying, 'Arise, go to Zarephat, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I HAVE COMMANDED a widow there to provide for you' ".

I will quote here a couple of passages from the early church fathers' writings, who lived and ministered just after the departure of the last of the original apostles. The quotes are from Didache (Teaching of the Apostles).

Didache 11:6 And when he departeth let the apostle receive nothing save bread, until he findeth shelter; but if he ask money, he is a false prophet.

Didache 11:12 And whosoever shall say in the Spirit, Give me silver or anything else, ye shall not listen to him; but if he tell you to give on behalf of others that are in want, let no man judge him.

Is this to say that there should not be mention of giving in the church? No! On the contrary, the truth about giving should be taught as any other truth - no more, no less, and ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF GOD.

I need to mention here a teaching that is taking place in the church lately: the teaching on the 'Spirit of Poverty'. I personally haven't been exposed to it and haven't read any of the books that deal with that subject. However, knowing them by their fruits, I can guess what is the main thrust of the teaching: give and keep giving (to the church) - that's the only way to be kept safe from the 'spirit of poverty'. I am also sure that the 'evidence' of the existence of this 'spirit' is not the complaints of those 'afflicted' by it, but rather it is a circumstantial evidence gathered from the level of collection by the church's fund raising programs.

I understand that all churches are not well off financially, yet it should not be an excuse for the preachers to resort to dishonest teaching in order to get extra funds. Can you imagine a person in a secular job resorting to a dishonest method for getting some extra money to feed his family? He would end up on the wrong side of the law and, in all probability, in jail. Yet, in our Christian world, it appears that dishonest gain is OK, as long as it is used for the 'advancement of the kingdom of God'. I believe that an offering to God gained in a dishonest way is considered unclean and an abomination and not acceptable to Him.

With Him, the end does not justify the means.

I hope, dear brother or sister that you learned something valuable from this message.

May God bless you all.

Copyright:
It is expected from every sincere believer, who reads this message, if he or she agrees with its contents, to pass it on to whomever possible. It would be also appreciated, if any objections, disagreements or questions are directed to the author.

George Potkonyak
PO Box W123
West Pennant Hills, NSW 2125
Australia
Phone: 61 2 9875 3014
E-mail: potkony@ar.com.au
13  Middle Earth / Orthanc / Fuck you, Apple: You've gone too far on: July 10, 2012, 09:00:18 AM
Fuck you, Apple: You've gone too far
- Eric Ravenscraft  Jul 4, 2012

I would like to preface this bit of rambling with a disclaimer: broad strokes, I like Apple. As a company. I also like Microsoft. And Google. These three companies, together, represent some of the finest innovation I've ever witnessed. The three of them, as a whole, are beacons of what progress should be. They all have their missteps and they all have their problems, but they never stop. Each of them is responsible for this amazing future that we live in today.

But Apple? Your unrelenting assault on anything that you perceive as being derivative of your baby has gone beyond acceptable. You have moved past being the underdog, being the troubled artist, the downtrodden genius. As a company, as an identity, you are now the spoiled rich kid that got told to share. And just like that spoiled brat, you've raised a fuss that is entirely disproportional even to your imagined wrong, much less reality.

For those who haven't heard, the Galaxy Nexus is a phone that was available for sale in the US that is built by Samsung, but designed in tandem with Google. The purpose of the device is to be a model, a symbol of what Android is and could be, straight from the heart of Google. And it would take all of 5 seconds holding one to tell that it is not an iPhone.

I say that this device "was" available because at the moment, it isn't anymore. Because of a lawsuit with Apple. A lawsuit over a few patents. I don't care to go over the details. The short version is, Apple found a few tiny things that Android does the same way iPhones do them. Ergo, they are infringing Apple's patents. Ergo, the Galaxy Nexus is an illegal device. Ergo, Google murders babies and should be wiped off the earth.

This is shit. This is complete and utter horseshit. Google is currently in the process of hurrying out an OTA update to fix the issue so the device is no longer infringing Apple's patents. This means that, among other things, avoiding the infringement is trivially easy to do. If Apple really only wanted Google to not infringe its patents, this could be sorted out easily without banning devices.

It could also be sorted out with money. Apple has refused to substitute damages in exchange for injunctions because it feels it has that right. This, too, is borne of the feces of farm animals. Apple has no interest in peace here. Apple wants to end Android. Apple wants to prevent as many Android devices from being sold to end consumers as possible, and accomplishing this by being better isn't enough, it seems.

The argument could (and will) be made, by the way, that if it's trivially easy to avoid infringing a patent, why didn't Google just do this in the first place? It's simple: because making mobile devices requires, necessarily, hundreds of thousands of little features that may or may not infringe on someone's patents somewhere. Whether it be standards-related like Nokia's recent claims, or just a clever idea that someone had and didn't realize someone else's product already does. This further raises the questions of whether such patents should even be legal, but that's beside the point. The point is that what these companies are arguing over is less like intellectual property theft and more like arguing over which one of them exceeded the speed limit by a single mile per hour. It is virtually impossible to drive a vehicle at exactly the speed limit 100% of the time. Leeway is granted to drivers who can't maintain a perfectly OCD adherence to the law. This same sort of leeway is not being granted to the players in the mobile industry. Instead, the law is being used in the way closest to the letter and furthest from the spirit, in a chess game that is more about market share dominance than it is fair competition.

I want a nice phone. That is all I want. And both Google and Apple (as well as all the OEMs) work incredibly hard to grant my wish. In exchange, of course, for my money. Which I will happily surrender. This is the deal we consumers make with companies: you make a product I like and I will give you money for it. However, wonderfully, at the end of the day, I have a choice: if I don't like a product, I can choose not to spend money on it.

Apple would have none of that. Apple wants to believe that Android, as a whole, is a rip off in every way of iOS. Despite the litany of differences, despite the veritable cornucopia of essays and comments and blog posts and books, oh the books, written to the contrary. Despite the fact that the most uninformed, mentally slow observer to hold an iPhone and a Galaxy Nexus in their hands could tell that they are very different devices.

If Apple wanted peace, we would have peace now. The opportunity has been presented, on more than one occasion, to settle these relatively minor disputes with money. Apple does not want money. Apple wants bans. Apple has succeeded in getting bans. This maneuver would almost make sense if Apple were still the underdog. Apple wanting to halt the sales of a big bad company "stealing" its ideas would be reasonable if Apple weren't the richest fucking company in the god damn world. Seriously. No one has as much money as Apple. No one has Apple's power. No one has the reach Apple does.

When Windows came out, Apple's fear was rational. Comparatively few people knew about Apple, and even fewer could afford their products. If Windows could copy the basic idea of the Mac's GUI wholesale and face zero repercussions, it would not be impossible to imagine Apple being wiped from the face of the earth (and in fact it nearly was). However, that is not the case anymore. Apple does not face extinction or irrelevance if it loses this new patent war. It faces only an equal. A fair fight. A competitor of a caliber to rival its own.

This is why Apple wants bans. This is why Apple won't settle its disputes. This is why Apple sues manufacturers because you can tap a phone number or because scrolling locks into a certain axis, yet will rip off the idea of a pull-down notification shade wholesale. It's not because Apple lacks the clarity to realize it also borrows features and ideas from other OSes. It's because Apple truly believes, in the minds of its leadership, that Android is a pale shadow of itself and deserves to be removed from the earth by any means necessary. These patents are not the ends, they're the means.

And it's disgusting. I want to use Android. I love Android. I can't get enough of Android. I respect iPhones and I'd like to see what happens with Windows Phone, but at the end of the day, Android is my platform of choice. And after six versions of iOS, it is ridiculous to believe that I, an informed consumer with high demands of my mobile device, could be satisfied by something that is little more than a rebranded knock-off of an Apple device.

This is my choice, Apple. I will make it no matter what you do. I could care less if you're bitter about what may or may not have happened in a board room, or if you truly believe your product is better. I want to make my own choice about what device and OS I use and you are doing nothing but getting in the way. You don't get to make this decision for me. You don't get to decide that customers shouldn't have access to Android. This mentality is precisely the sort of reason I don't use iOS devices to begin with. On iOS, if I want to run an application that wasn't directly approved by Apple, I need to jailbreak my device which voids my warranty. If I want to run an application that wasn't directly approved by Google, and even if I ignore that the Play Store is not policed, I can check one setting to enable third-party apps and voila. The internet is my oyster. This is something I treasure. It's also a key difference between Android's approach and iOS's.

But you would have that option taken away from me, Apple. And that's not okay. I really don't care if you want to hang on to control of your ecosystem. Some people prefer it and I'm all for that. Choice is great. Personal freedom is great. But the day you start telling me what devices I can and can't have, that is the day we start to have a serious problem. If you had just settled for some money, if you had tried to make peace with Google, or any of the OEMs, we would be in a different place. But today I was told that I am not allowed to buy a Galaxy Nexus if I want to because Apple said no.

So, I say again: Fuck you, Apple.
14  Middle Earth / Mordor / Why Elites Fail on: June 22, 2012, 03:49:30 AM
Why Elites Fail

This article is adapted from Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, © 2012 by Christopher Hayes and published by Crown Publishers, a division of Random House Inc.

In 1990, at the age of 11, I stood in a line of sixth graders outside an imposing converted armory on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, nervously anticipating a test that would change my life. I was hoping to gain entrance to Hunter College High School, a public magnet school that runs from grades seven through twelve and admits students from all five boroughs. Each year, between 3,000 and 4,000 students citywide score high enough on their fifth-grade standardized tests to qualify to take Hunter’s entrance exam in the sixth grade; ultimately, only 185 will be offered admission. (About forty-five students, all from Manhattan, test into Hunter Elementary School in the first grade and automatically gain entrance to the high school.)

I was one of the lucky ones who made it through, and my experience there transformed me. It was at Hunter that I absorbed the open-minded, self-assured cosmopolitanism that is the guiding ethos of the current American ruling class. What animates the school is a collective delight in the talent and energy of its students and a general feeling of earned superiority. In 1982 a Hunter alumnus profiled the school in a New York magazine article called “The Joyful Elite” and identified its “most singular trait” as the “exuberantly smug loyalty of its students.”

That loyalty emanates from the deeply held conviction that Hunter embodies the meritocratic ideal as much as any institution in the country. Unlike elite colleges, which use all kinds of subjective measures—recommendations, résumés, writing samples, parental legacies and interviews—in deciding who gains admittance, entrance to Hunter rests on a single “objective” measure: one three-hour test. If you clear the bar, you’re in; if not, you’re out. There are no legacy admissions, and there are no strings to pull for the well-connected. If Michael Bloomberg’s daughter took the test and didn’t pass, she wouldn’t get in. There are only a handful of institutions left in the country about which this can be said.

Because it is public and free, the school pulls kids from all over the city, many of whom are first-generation Americans, the children of immigrant strivers from Korea, Russia and Pakistan. Half the students have at least one parent born outside the United States. For all these reasons Hunter is, in its own imagination, a place where anyone with drive and brains can be catapulted from the anonymity of working-class outer-borough neighborhoods to the inner sanctum of the American elite. “I came from a family where nobody went to college. We lived up in Washington Heights. We had no money,” says Jennifer Raab, who as president of CUNY’s Hunter College oversees the high school as well. “It was incredibly empowering.” When she surveys the student body, “it gets me very sappy about the American dream. It really can come true. These kids are getting an education that is unparalleled, and it’s not about where they come from or who they are.”

But the problem with my alma mater is that over time, the mechanisms of meritocracy have broken down. In 1995, when I was a student at Hunter, the student body was 12 percent black and 6 percent Hispanic. Not coincidentally, there was no test-prep industry for the Hunter entrance exam. That’s no longer the case. Now, so-called cram schools like Elite Academy in Queens can charge thousands of dollars for after-school and weekend courses where sixth graders memorize vocabulary words and learn advanced math. Meanwhile, in the wealthier precincts of Manhattan, parents can hire $90-an-hour private tutors for one-on-one sessions with their children.

By 2009, Hunter’s demographics were radically different—just 3 percent black and 1 percent Hispanic, according to the New York Times. With the rise of a sophisticated and expensive test-preparation industry, the means of selecting entrants to Hunter has grown less independent of the social and economic hierarchies in New York at large. The pyramid of merit has come to mirror the pyramid of wealth and cultural capital.

How and why does this happen? I think the best answer comes from the work of a social theorist named Robert Michels, who was occupied with a somewhat parallel problem in the early years of the last century. Born to a wealthy German family, Michels came to adopt the radical socialist politics then sweeping through much of Europe. At first, he joined the Social Democratic Party, but he ultimately came to view it as too bureaucratic to achieve its stated aims. “Our workers’ organization has become an end in itself,” Michels declared, “a machine which is perfected for its own sake and not for the tasks which it could have performed.”

Michels then drifted toward the syndicalists, who eschewed parliamentary elections in favor of mass labor solidarity, general strikes and resistance to the dictatorship of the kaiser. But even among the more militant factions of the German left, Michels encountered the same bureaucratic pathologies that had soured him on the SDP. In his classic book Political Parties, he wondered why the parties of the left, so ideologically committed to democracy and participation, were as oligarchic in their functioning as the self-consciously elitist and aristocratic parties of the right.

Michels’s grim conclusion was that it was impossible for any party, no matter its belief system, to bring about democracy in practice. Oligarchy was inevitable. For any kind of institution with a democratic base to consolidate the legitimacy it needs to exist, it must have an organization that delegates tasks. The rank and file will not have the time, energy, wherewithal or inclination to participate in the many, often minute decisions necessary to keep the institution functioning. In fact, effectiveness, Michels argues convincingly, requires that these tasks be delegated to a small group of people with enough power to make decisions of consequence for the entire membership. Over time, this bureaucracy becomes a kind of permanent, full-time cadre of leadership. “Without wishing it,” Michels says, there grows up a great “gulf which divides the leaders from the masses.” The leaders now control the tools with which to manipulate the opinion of the masses and subvert the organization’s democratic process. “Thus the leaders, who were at first no more than the executive organs of the collective, will soon emancipate themselves from the mass and become independent of its control.”

All this flows inexorably from the nature of organization itself, Michels concludes, and he calls it “The Iron Law of Oligarchy”: “It is organization which gives birth to the dominion of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organization says oligarchy.”

The dynamic Michels identifies applies, in an analogous way, to our own cherished system of meritocracy. In order for it to live up to its ideals, a meritocracy must comply with two principles. The first is the Principle of Difference, which holds that there is vast differentiation among people in their ability and that we should embrace this natural hierarchy and set ourselves the challenge of matching the hardest-working and most talented to the most difficult, important and remunerative tasks.

The second is the Principle of Mobility. Over time, there must be some continuous, competitive selection process that ensures performance is rewarded and failure punished. That is, the delegation of duties cannot simply be made once and then fixed in place over a career or between generations. People must be able to rise and fall along with their accomplishments and failures. When a slugger loses his swing, he should be benched; when a trader loses money, his bonus should be cut. At the broader social level, we hope that the talented children of the poor will ascend to positions of power and prestige while the mediocre sons of the wealthy will not be charged with life-and-death decisions. Over time, in other words, society will have mechanisms that act as a sort of pump, constantly ensuring that the talented and hard-working are propelled upward, while the mediocre trickle downward.

But this ideal, appealing as it may be, runs up against the reality of what I’ll call the Iron Law of Meritocracy. The Iron Law of Meritocracy states that eventually the inequality produced by a meritocratic system will grow large enough to subvert the mechanisms of mobility. Unequal outcomes make equal opportunity impossible. The Principle of Difference will come to overwhelm the Principle of Mobility. Those who are able to climb up the ladder will find ways to pull it up after them, or to selectively lower it down to allow their friends, allies and kin to scramble up. In other words: “Who says meritocracy says oligarchy.”

Consider, for example, the next “meritocracy” that graduates of Hunter encounter. American universities are the central institution of the modern meritocracy, and yet, as Daniel Golden documents in his devastating book The Price of Admission, atop the ostensibly meritocratic architecture of SATs and high school grades is built an entire tower of preference and subsidy for the privileged:


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At least one third of the students at elite universities, and at least half at liberal arts colleges, are flagged for preferential treatment in the admissions process. While minorities make up 10 to 15 percent of a typical student body, affluent whites dominate other preferred groups: recruited athletes (10 to 25 percent of students); alumni children, also known as “legacies” (10 to 25 percent); development cases (2 to 5 percent); children of celebrities and politicians (1 to 2 percent); and children of faculty members (1 to 3 percent).

This doesn’t even count the advantages that wealthy children have in terms of private tutors, test prep, and access to expensive private high schools and college counselors. All together, this layered system of preferences for the children of the privileged amounts to, in Golden’s words, “affirmative action for rich white people.” It is not so much the meritocracy as idealized and celebrated but rather the ancient practice of “elites mastering the art of perpetuating themselves.”

A pure functioning meritocracy would produce a society with growing inequality, but that inequality would come along with a correlated increase in social mobility. As the educational system and business world got better and better at finding inherent merit wherever it lay, you would see the bright kids of the poor boosted to the upper echelons of society, with the untalented progeny of the best and brightest relegated to the bottom of the social pyramid where they belong.

But the Iron Law of Meritocracy makes a different prediction: that societies ordered around the meritocratic ideal will produce inequality without the attendant mobility. Indeed, over time, a society will become more unequal and less mobile as those who ascend its heights create means of preserving and defending their privilege and find ways to pass it on across generations. And this, as it turns out, is a pretty spot-on description of the trajectory of the American economy since the mid-1970s.

* * *

The sharp, continuous rise in inequality is one of the most studied and acknowledged features of the American political economy in the post-Carter age. Paul Krugman calls it “The Great Divergence,” and the economist Emmanuel Saez, who has done the most pioneering work on measuring the phenomenon, has written: “The top 1% income share has increased dramatically in recent decades and reached levels which had not been seen…since before the Great Depression.”

One of the most distinctive aspects of the rise in American inequality over the past three decades is just how concentrated the gains are at the very top. The farther up the income scale you go, the better people are doing: the top 10 percent have done well, but they’ve been outpaced by the top 1 percent, who in turn have seen slower gains than the top 0.1 percent, all of whom have been beaten by the top 0.01 percent. Adjusted for inflation, the top 0.1 percent saw their average annual income rise from just over $1 million in 1974 to $7.1 million in 2007. And things were even better for the top 0.01 percent, who saw their average annual income explode from less than $4 million to $35 million, nearly a ninefold increase.

It is not simply that the rich are getting richer, though that’s certainly true. It is that a smaller and smaller group of über-rich are able to capture a larger and larger share of the fruits of the economy. America now features more inequality than any other industrialized democracy. In its peer group are countries like Argentina and other Latin American nations that once stood as iconic examples of the ways in which the absence of a large middle class presented a roadblock to development and good governance.

So: income inequality has been growing. What about mobility? While it’s much harder to measure, there’s a growing body of evidence that, at the same time income inequality has been growing at an unprecedented rate, social mobility has been declining. In a 2012 speech, Alan Krueger, chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, coined the term “The Gatsby Curve” to refer to a chart showing that over the past three decades, “as inequality has increased…year-to-year or generation-to-generation economic mobility has decreased.”

The most comprehensive attempt at divining the long-term trends in social mobility over several generations is presented in “Intergenerational Economic Mobility in the US, 1940 to 2000,” a complex paper by economists Daniel Aaronson and Bhashkar Mazumder of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. After a series of maneuvers that qualify as statistical pyrotechnics, they conclude that “mobility increased from 1950 to 1980 but has declined sharply since 1980. The recent decline in mobility is only partially explained by education.”

Another pair of economists, from the Boston Federal Reserve, analyzed household income data to measure mobility over a period of three decades rather than intergenerational mobility. They found that in the 1970s, 36 percent of families stayed in the same income decile; in the 1980s, that figure was 37 percent; and in the 1990s, it was 40 percent. In other words, over time, a larger share of families were staying within their class through the duration of their lives.

This is evidence that the Iron Law of Meritocracy is, in fact, exerting itself on our social order. And we might ask what a society that has been corrupted entirely by the Iron Law of Meritocracy would look like. It would be a society with extremely high and rising inequality yet little circulation of elites. A society in which the pillar institutions were populated and presided over by a group of hyper-educated, ambitious overachievers who enjoyed tremendous monetary rewards as well as unparalleled political power and prestige, and yet who managed to insulate themselves from sanction, competition and accountability; a group of people who could more or less rest assured that now that they have achieved their status, now that they have scaled to the top of the pyramid, they, their peers and their progeny will stay there.

Such a ruling class would have all the competitive ferocity inculcated by the ceaseless jockeying within the institutions that produce meritocratic elites, but face no actual sanctions for failing at their duties or succumbing to the temptations of corruption. It would reflexively protect its worst members; it would operate with a wide gulf between performance and reward; and it would be shot through with corruption, rule-breaking and self-dealing, as those on top pursued the outsized rewards promised for superstars. In the same way the bailouts combined the worst aspects of capitalism and socialism, such a social order would fuse the worst aspects of meritocracy and bureaucracy.

It would, in other words, look a lot like the American elite in the first years of the twenty-first century.

* * *

Of all the status obsessions that preoccupy our elites, none is quite so prominent as the obsession with smartness. Intelligence is the core value of the meritocracy, one that stretches back to the early years of standardized testing, when the modern-day SAT descended from early IQ tests. To call a member of the elite “brilliant” is to pay that person the highest compliment.

Intelligence is a vitally necessary characteristic for those with powerful positions. But it isn’t just a celebration of smartness that characterizes the culture of meritocracy. It’s something more pernicious: a Cult of Smartness in which intelligence is the chief virtue, along with a conviction that smartness is rankable and that the hierarchy of intelligence, like the hierarchy of wealth, never plateaus. In a society as stratified as our own, this is a seductive conclusion to reach. Since there are people who make $500,000, $5 million and $5 billion all within the same elite, perhaps there are leaps equal to such orders of magnitude in cognitive ability as well.

In Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street, anthropologist Karen Ho shows how the obsession with smartness produces “a meritocratic feedback loop,” in which bankers’ growing influence itself becomes further evidence that they are, in fact, “the smartest.” According to one Morgan Stanley analyst Ho interviewed, those being recruited by the firm “are typically told they will be working with ‘the brightest people in the world. These are the greatest minds of the century.’” Robert Hopkins, a vice president of mergers and acquisitions at Lehman Brothers, tells her of those who inhabit Wall Street: “We are talking about the smartest people in the world. We are! They are the smartest people in the world.”

And just as one would suspect, given the fractal nature of inequality at the top, hovering above those who work at big Wall Street firms is an entire world of hedge-fund hotshots, who see themselves as far smarter than the grunts on Wall Street. “There’s 100 percent no question that most people on Wall Street, even if they have nice credentials, are generally developmentally disabled,” a hedge-fund analyst I’ll call Eli told me, only somewhat jokingly, one night over dinner. Hedge funds, according to Eli and his colleagues, are the real deal; the innermost of inner rings. “I was surrounded my whole life by people who took intelligence very seriously,” Eli told me. “I went to good schools, I worked at places surrounded by smart people. And until now I’ve never been at a place that prides itself on having the smartest people and where it’s actually true.”

That confidence, of course, projects outward, and from it emanates the authority that the financial sector as a whole enjoyed (and in certain circles still enjoys). “At the end of the day,” Eli says with a laugh, “America does what Wall Street tells it to do. And whether that’s because Wall Street knows best, whether Wall Street is intelligently self-dealing, or whether it has no idea and talks out of its ass, that is the culture in America.”

This is the Cult of Smartness at its most pernicious: listen to Wall Street—they’ve got the smartest minds on the planet.

While smartness is necessary for competent elites, it is far from sufficient: wisdom, judgment, empathy and ethical rigor are all as important, even if those traits are far less valued. Indeed, extreme intelligence without these qualities can be extremely destructive. But empathy does not impress the same way smartness does. Smartness dazzles and mesmerizes. More important, it intimidates. When a group of powerful people get together to make a group decision, conflict and argumentation ensue, and more often than not the decision that emerges is that which is articulated most forcefully by those parties perceived to be the “smartest.”

It is under these conditions that destructive intelligence flourishes. Behind many of the Bush administration’s most disastrous and destructive decisions was one man: David Addington, counsel and then chief of staff to Dick Cheney. Addington was called “Cheney’s Cheney” and “the most powerful man you’ve never heard of.” A former Bush White House lawyer told The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer that the administration’s legal framework for the “war on terror”—from indefinite detention, to torture, to rejection of the 1949 Geneva Accords, to denial of habeas corpus—was “all Addington.”

Addington’s defining trait, as portrayed in numerous profiles, is his hard-edged, ideologically focused intelligence. “The boy seemed terribly, terribly bright,” Addington’s high school history teacher told Mayer. “He was scornful of anyone who said anything that was naïve, or less than bright. His sneers were almost palpable.” A US News and World Report profile of Addington observed that “his capacity to absorb complex information is legendary.” Co-workers referred to him as “extremely smart” and “sublimely brilliant.”

What emerges in these accounts is a figure who used his dazzling recall, razor-sharp logical ability and copious knowledge to implacably push administration policy in a rogue direction. Because he knew the law so well, he was able to make legal arguments that, executed by anyone else, would have been regarded as insane. He would edit briefs so that they always reflected a maximalist interpretation of presidential power, and his sheer ferocity and analytic horsepower enabled him to steamroll anyone who raised objections. Pentagon lawyer Richard Schiffrin described Addington’s posture in a meeting just after 9/11 to Mayer this way: “He’d sit, listen, and then say, ‘No, that’s not right.’… He didn’t recognize the wisdom of the other lawyers. He was always right. He didn’t listen. He knew the answers.”

This is a potent articulation of the dark emotional roots of the Cult of Smartness: the desire to differentiate and dominate that the meritocracy encourages. Ironically, in seeking to stand apart, the Cult of Smartness can kill independent thought by subtly training people to defer to others whom one should “take seriously.”

* * *

But fractal inequality doesn’t just produce errors of judgment like those we saw during the run-up to Iraq; it also creates a system of incentives that produces an insidious form of corruption. This corruption isn’t the obvious quid pro quo of the Gilded Age—there are precious few cases of politicians taking satchels of cash in exchange for votes. What’s far more common is what Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig calls “institutional corruption,” in which an institution develops an “improper dependency,” one that “conflicts with the dependence intended.”

This kind of corruption is everywhere you look. Consider a doctor who receives gifts and honorariums from a prescription drug company. The doctor insists plausibly that this has no effect on his medical decisions, which remain independent and guided by his training, instincts and the best available data. And he is not lying or being disingenuous when he says this: he absolutely believes it to be the case. But we know from a series of studies that there is a strong correlation between gifts from pharmaceutical companies and doctors’ willingness to prescribe their drugs.

This basic dynamic infects some of our most important institutions. Key to facilitating both the monumental housing bubble and its collapse was the ratings agencies’ habit of giving even extremely leveraged, toxic securities a triple-A rating. The institutional purpose of the rating agencies (and their market purpose as well) is to add value for investors by using their expertise to make judgments about the creditworthiness of securities. Originally, the agencies made their money from the investors themselves, who paid subscription fees in exchange for access to their ratings. But over time the largest agencies shifted to a model in which the banks and financial entities issuing the securities would pay the agencies for a rating. Obviously, these new clients wanted the highest rating possible and often would bring pressure to bear on the agencies to make sure they secured the needed triple A. And so the ratings agencies developed an improper dependence on their clients, one that pulled them away from fulfilling their original institutional purpose of serving investors. They became corrupt, and the result was trillions of dollars in supposedly triple-A securities that became worthless once the housing bubble burst.

We see a similar destructive example of this dynamic at work in two groups we entrusted to guard the public interest when it comes to the economy: federal regulators and elite economists. In a paper about the financial crisis, Rob Johnson and Thomas Ferguson tracked the salary trends for those working in finance and those in the federal agencies tasked with regulating them and found a striking divergence between the two. The authors note:


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At some point after incomes in the financial sector took off, lifetime earnings of the regulated far outstripped what any regulator could ever hope to earn. Rising economic inequality was translating into a crippling institutional weakness in regulatory structure. Not surprisingly, as one former member of a U.S. regulatory agency expressed it to us, regulatory agencies turned into barely disguised employment agencies, as staff increasingly focused on making themselves attractive hires to the firms they were supposed to be regulating.[/size]

In his film Inside Job, Charles Ferguson documents the insidious ways in which consulting fees and moonlighting gigs with financial companies created systematic conflicts of interest for some of the nation’s most prominent economists. Ferguson’s film parades through a number of the most admired names in the field, from Larry Summers to Martin Feldstein to Frederic Mishkin, who all had lucrative sidelines working for business interests with stakes in their academic work. Mishkin even took $124,000 from the Iceland Chamber of Commerce to write a paper endorsing the country’s economic model, just a few years before it collapsed.

What we are left with is the confusion that arises from an ambiguity of roles: are our regulators attempting to rein in the excesses of those they regulate, or are they auditioning for a lucrative future job? Are economists who publish papers praising financial deregulation giving us an honest assessment of the facts and trends, or courting extremely lucrative consulting fees from banks?

In her book Shadow Elite, about the new global ruling class, Janine Wedel recalls visiting Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall and finding the elites she met there—those at the center of building the new capitalist societies—toting an array of business cards that represented their various roles: one for their job as a member of parliament, another for the start-up business they were running (which was making its money off government contracts), and yet another for the NGO on the board of which they sat. Wedel writes that those “who adapted to the new environment with the most agility and creativity, who tried out novel ways of operating and got away with them, and sometimes were the most ethically challenged, were most rewarded with influence.”

This has an eerie resonance with our predicament. We can never be sure just which other business cards are in the pocket of the pundit, politician or professor. We can’t be sure, in short, just who our elites are working for.

But we suspect it is not us.

Editor's Note: Always wanted to pick Chris’s brain? Readers are invited to submit their most incisive questions on this article and his book in the comment section below or to email them to comments@thenation.com. Our editor and publisher, Katrina vanden Heuvel, will ask a few of the best when she joins Chris at The New School on Thursday, June 14th for a conversation on the new American elite and how we can bring about change. We’ll post a live stream of the event and, of course, readers in New York are encouraged to join us!

15  Middle Earth / Silicon Glen / CORPORATE DIRECTIVE NUMBER 88-570471 on: May 19, 2012, 11:02:30 PM
In order to increase the security of all company computing facilities, and to avoid the possibility of unauthorized use of these facilities, new rules are being put into effect concerning the selection of passwords. All users of computing facilities are instructed to change their passwords to conform to these rules immediately.

RULES FOR THE SELECTION OF PASSWORDS:

1. A password must be at least six characters long, and must not contain two occurrences of a character in a row, or a sequence of two or more characters from the alphabet in forward or reverse order. Example: HGQQXP is an invalid password. GFEDCB is an invalid password.

2. A password may not contain two or more letters in the same position as any previous password. Example: If a previous password was GKPWTZ, then NRPWHS would be invalid because PW occurs in the same position in both passwords.

3. A password may not contain the name of a month or an abbreviation for a month. Example: MARCHBC is an invalid password. VWMARBC is an invalid password.

4. A password may not contain the numeric representation of a month. Therefore, a password containing any number except zero is invalid. Example: WKBH3LG is invalid because it contains the numeric representation for the month of March.

5. A password may not contain any words from any language. Thus, a password may not contain the letters A, or I, or sequences such as AT, ME, or TO because these are all words.

6. A password may not contain sequences of two or more characters which are adjacent to each other on a keyboard in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal direction. Example: QWERTY is an invalid password. GHNLWT is an invalid password because G and H are horizontally adjacent to each other. HUKWVM is an invalid password because H and U are diagonally adjacent to each other.

7. A password may not contain the name of a person, place, or thing. Example: JOHNBOY is an invalid password.

Because of the complexity of the password selection rules, there is actually only one password which passes all the tests. To make the selection of this password simpler for the user, it will be distributed to all supervisors. All users are instructed to obtain this password from his or her supervisor and begin using it immediately.
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