Kinisi 13







Found in translation

Now on the sixth day:
bulls eight, rams two

– Numbers 29:29
Everett Fox translation

Sounds like a National Football League forecast, apart from the improbability of the score itself. Besides, it’s set for a Saturday, not Sunday.

Still I was amused when that line popped out at me from the page.

Now, for a little perspective, here’s how Robert Alter renders the text:

And on the sixth day eight bulls, two rams, and fourteen unblemished yearling lambs.

It’s all part of a series of proscribed daily sacrificial burnt offerings.

Any Chicago or Los Angeles fans out there?

At last, an end to a vexing online shopping experience

Today, a month and eight days after I placed a kitchen-goods online order during a Cyber-Monday sale, I finally have closure on a Christmas present that was never shipped, much less delivered. It was supposed to be here December 9, a date that kept getting pushed back to January 20, as it last stood.

Desperately, when I realized the said item wasn’t going to arrive in time for the gift exchange, contrary to promises, I found other presents to wrap and place under the tree for my beloved. But that didn’t resolve the suspense of the tangled order. Nobody could or would do anything to come through for me, not even cancel the order. I hate feeling helpless. Or, for that matter, idiotic. I was told to stay calm, it would be here on time. Except, of course, it wasn’t.

Now, thanks to a vigilant customer service supervisor who followed up at the end of December on a long call I had made shortly before Christmas, the order is now cancelled. Whew! Inhale deeply. I’m no longer hanging in limbo. The email of confirmation arrived today.

It wasn’t easy. We all hate fighting bureaucracies, whether they’re capitalist corporations or governmental agencies.

From other interactions regarding the order, I have the feeling the supervisor was swimming upstream through company policy to finally arrive at a solution, and for that I’m appreciative. Perhaps she was able to identify a breakdown in the bigger system and get something fixed. These actions reflect the kind of dedication that deserves promotion. I’ll always root for the underdog.

In many ways, this was a no-win situation. Who knows how much they spent processing the order or parrying my calls and emails, the ones before she emailed me out of the blue, noting that she had been checking her records and saw that nothing had happened yet. I asked (again) that the order be cancelled, and two days later she came through. All in all, it probably adds up to as much as I would have spent on the product and negatively impacted on the bottom line. Admittedly, I’m now unlikely to ever again buy from the company. At least not until she winds up as CEO.

Still, it’s reassuring to know somebody cared and knows what it means to be doing the real job.


That’s ten times ten equals one hundred, more or less Roman style.

Assuming the empire had an equals sign or even multiplication.

How did they ever do math?

Especially since they didn’t have a zero, which seems to have come into its own, as a number, around the 5th century C.E. in India and worked its way into Europe via the Italian mathematician Fibonacci (aka Leonardo of Pisa) around the year 1200. That’s the background on what’s considered a full zero, the average of minus one and one.

Before that, the written orb was just a placeholder, like a punctuation mark or the zeros in the Arabic numeral 100. That placeholder usage likely started in Babylon between 400 and 300 B.C.E.

To thicken the plot, an awareness of full zero also originated from scratch in Mayan culture of the New World around the first centuries C.E.

Which is a roundabout way of pointing out that when it came to the radical mathematical concept of nothing (or less), the Romans came up empty.

There wasn’t even a Year Zero, back then. Our current dating system goes from 1 B.C.E. to 1 C.E. That’s why this year technically isn’t the beginning of a new decade, but the final year of one.

Not that we ever were taught any sense of the wonder of all that, back in our math classes. The closest we ever came was the mystifying concept of multiplying anything by zero and watching it disappear.

So back to that XXX = C in the title. I can’t help thinking it looks somehow obscene. Like graffiti.

How about you?

Joyously, then

From a wonderful book by Czeslaw Milosz, poet: “To find my home in one sentence, concise, as if hammered in metal. Not to enchant anybody. Not to earn a lasting name in posterity. An unnamed need for order, for rhythm, for form, which three words are opposed to chaos and nothingness.” And, he quotes from Renee le Senne: “For me the principal proof of the existence of God is the joy I experience any time I think that God is.” Quoting from Milosz: “To wait for faith in order to pray is to put the cart before the horse. Our way leads from the physical to the spiritual.” And himself: “My friend Father J.S. did not believe in God. But he believed God, the revelation of God, and he always stressed the difference.”