Word of the day: Selah

January 22nd, 2017 by Roger Darlington

According to the relevant Wikipedia page, Selah is a word used 74 times in the Hebrew Bible – 71 times in the Psalms and three times in Habakkuk. The meaning of the word is not known, but it is probably either a liturgico-musical mark or an instruction on the reading of the text, something like “stop and listen.” It can also be interpreted as a form of underlining in preparation for the next paragraph.

At least some of the Psalms were sung accompanied by musical instruments and there are references to this in many chapters. Thirty-one of the thirty-nine psalms with the caption “To the choir-master” include the word selah. So Selah may indicate a break in the song whose purpose is similar to that of Amen (Hebrew: “so be it”) in that it stresses the truth and importance of the preceding passage. Alternatively, selah may mean “forever,” as it does in some places in the liturgy (notably the second to last blessing of the Amidah. Still another interpretation claims that selah comes from the primary Hebrew root word salah which means “to hang,” and by implication to measure (weigh).

I came across this word for the first time when I bought the new CD by Emili Sande called “Long Live The Angels” and found that the opening track is called ‘Selah’. You can read the words here.

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I don’t want to be pedantic about the presidency of Donald J Trump but …

January 21st, 2017 by Roger Darlington

… the media is wrong when it describes him as the 45th President of the United States.

The first United States President was George Washington, who served from 1789-1797, so that the current President Donald Trump is the 44th to hold the office. However, there have been 45 presidencies. Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th President and therefore was the only US president to serve two non-consecutive terms (1885-1889 and 1893-1897) and to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents.

If you want to know more about the election, duties and powers of the US president, check out my guide here.

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On the day of President Trump’s inauguration, let’s remind ourselves how many votes he and Clinton won

January 20th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

Ii stayed up all night on the day of the US presidential election. By the morning, it was clear that Donald Trump had won a clear majority in the Electoral College, while Hillary Clinton had narrowly won more actual votes nationwide.

Over the days and weeks that follwed, the difference in the votes polled by the two candidates grew and grew. What are the final, official figures?

Trump took 62,979,636 636 votes, while Clinton secured 65,844,610 votes – a difference of  2,864,974 votes. So, in the end, almost 3 million more Americans supported Clinton rather than Trump.

Trump has declared that, if there had not been the Electoral College, he would have campaigned in a different way, allocating more resources to states with larger populations. But, of course, exactly the same is true for Clinton.

We cannot know the result of an election which from the start would have been determined by a simple nationwide majority and anyway this is not going to happen because there is inadequate support for the necessary constitutional change. What we do know is Trump and his agenda do not command the support of a majority of the American electorate and he would be wise to govern with that in mind, trying to craft some common ground between his supporters and opponents.

Some chance …

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What is the greatest threat to the world from a Trump Presidency? It might just be his denial of climate change

January 19th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

“Trump is the president that corporate luddites have dreamed of: the man who will let them squeeze every last cent from their oil and coal reserves before they become worthless.

They need him because science, technology and people’s demands for a safe and stable world have left them stranded. There is no fair fight that they can win, so their last hope lies with a government that will rig the competition.

To this end, Trump has appointed to his cabinet some of those responsible for a universal crime: inflicted not on particular nations or groups, but on everyone.”

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Word of the day: xenodochial

January 17th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

Somebody has just used this word in a communication to me. Apparently, xenodochial is an adjective describing something – such as a person, place or software application — that is friendly to strangers. “Xenos” is a Greek word for “strangers” and, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, xenodochial means “hospitable.”

All this makes me wonder whether the use of the word xenodochial is in itself, anti-xenodochial. Maybe Donald Trump will tweet about this one day. But, then again, maybe not. However, I would rather he tweeted about the English language than on the intelligence community or nuclear weapons or the Russians or immigration – or almost anything else.

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How long can a Trump presidency last?

January 11th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

The latest allegations about connections between Russia and Trump and his associates, if substantiated, are deeply worrying and come after a whole slew of concerns about conflicts of interests, character defects, political nominations, and flip-flopping policy announcement (often simply via Twitter). It is not just those who opposed the Trump candidacy who are worried; many independent observers – including American diplomats, military and intelligence personnel, campaign and pressure groups, and much of the media – are deeply concerned and rightly so.

The American political system is famous for its sophisticated mechanism of ‘checks and balances’ but, over the coming weeks, months, and maybe years, it is likely to be tested as never before.  A series of constitutional crises seems inevitable and a resignation or impeachment by President Trump would hardly be a surprise. This is a terrible situation, not just for Americans, but for the world. We are all watching with bated breath …

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Meryl Streep trumps her previous performances

January 9th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

I have been a huge fan of Meryl Streep as an actress and a person since her role in “The Deer Hunter”. At the Gold Globe Awards, she spoke with characteristic grace and passion:

Posted in Cultural issues | Comments (1)

A review of the Taiwanese film “The Assassin”

January 8th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

This work won the Best Director award at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, but what did I think of it? You can read my review here.

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How to think critically

January 7th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

Once again, I have just given permission for the use of my advice on how to think critically to the Maritime Advanced Warfighting School of the US Naval War College who will issue it to course students as a handout.  If the advice is good enough for the American military, you might like to take a look here.

Posted in My life & thoughts | Comments (1)

A review of the new sci-fi movie “Passengers”

January 6th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

Guys, how would you like to be all alone with Jennifer Lawrence? Girls, how would you like to be all alone with Chris Pratt? The next best thing is to see the film “Passengers” which is absolutely carried by Pratt and Lawrence. You can read my review here.

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