Categories
General

Pen Perils

If you know me, you know that I rarely outline or draft my writing beforehand. I (sort of) know how, but I never have, simply because I never saw the use. Why plan with such depth and detail when you can let yourself throw words on a page, then later remove the bad ones? But even if some authors have success with this sort of discovery writing, I’ve begun to realize how hard improvising a “discovery-written” piece can be when writing with, for example, pen and paper. As such, I’ve concluded that my pencils and computers have spoiled me by giving me the luxury of an eraser. And that luxury, since childhood, combined with either a bad elementary English education or a bad attention span, contributed to my worse “discovery writing” habit.

I’ll give you an example: when constructing any sentence, I start immediately – I tend to write down any phrases that come to my mind without much thought. This way, my plan for a sentence changes as I am writing it. But imagine this with a pen. You imagine me writing as if I had a pencil in hand, carelessly throwing phrases on paper. Then, when halfway through a particular sentence, I suddenly have a better idea for it’s structure, or even an idea for a witty remark, one that could bring the whole piece back from its gradual destination to the dustbin. But, all too soon, the pen’s ink marked its initial form permanently onto the page.

Within moments, I’m weighing a decision: I either cross out the problematic sentence or continue it. In one I make my page a little bit uglier, yet in the other I compromise an idea.

One day, though, because of this problem, I did something else: I tore out several pages to rewrite them with a pencil. That’s how bad they were. Writing with a pen, then, it seems to me, has become a game of compromises between me and my sentences. Until I learn what ‘outlining’ means, I may end up with another few notebooks full of cotton this summer. No, you won’t even see the books on the ground – gravity itself may struggle to keep the airy words firmly grounded. Fluffy, pretentious, and insincere writing diffuses and disintegrates into the air and moves nobody.

Categories
General

Vector Art & Puppy Linux

On March 13th, I decided to design a few more Elaboraet vector art pieces in Inkscape. I may never use them, but it sure was fun to make them.

Click on an image to see its full preview.

Yesterday, March 17th, I created a bunch of navy blue vector art wallpapers for my installation of Puppy Linux. Here is a slideshow with those wallpapers:

Click on an image to see its full preview.

My ‘Puppy Linux’ desktop as of March 17th, 2020.
Categories
General

Remembering Roger Scruton

Roger Scruton (1945-2020)

“For ordinary people, the materialist vision is rather seductive; they become obsessed by the vision of the human being as a merely physical object, a lump of flesh suspended between the two poles of pleasure and pain. And that reductive vision gives rise to all that is most repugnant in the culture that now agonizes us. Human beings are put on display as objects, deprived of their freedom and divested of their capacity for love, gift, sacrifice, and service. And many people spend their days gripped by images of this degradation, watching the physical destruction of fellow human beings in violent movies or their physical excitement in pornographic movies. These loveless images are tempting because they remove from the human condition all that is difficult and demanding, and all that makes life worthwhile—the love, commitment, sacrifice, and giving through which we cultivate our better natures and connect with the realm of sacred things. They are visions of hell and owe their charm to the ease with which we can embrace them, leaving all the difficulties of personal life behind.”

Roger Scruton in Sacred Truths in a Profane World on Renovatio Journal


Last week, after learning about the conservative philosopher Roger Scruton’s death on January 12th, I thought back to the time I first listened to him almost three years ago, in a video of a talk he had with the Islamic scholar Hamza Yusuf about the meanings of Conservatism.

In it, I noticed that Roger Scruton was a close friend to Islam, not the opposite as some presuppose, and quickly grew fond of his other talks and even a few of his books. His conservative and optimistic thought aligned closely with prominent Islamic virtues and ideas. In eloquent and beautiful writing, Scruton’s article, Sacred Truths in a Profane World, from which I quote above, discusses whether sacred truth can exist in a destructive modern era.

“We no longer believe in magic connections, and even the concept of human freedom begins to crumble and give way beneath the tide of debunking explanations. The face of the world gradually begins to cloud over: the sun no longer smiles; the birds cease to sing; the naiads vanish from the groves, while the wind in the long grass no longer whispers of God’s love for us. The enchanted world of our ancestors is replaced by a routine exhibition of causal connections. And the laws of motion that govern the universe begin to look like chains, by which we too are bound.”

 

Categories
Articles

Betelgeuse, Alnitak, and Aldebaran


Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse (pronounced in America as if it were written “beetle juice,” and in other English countries as “betel-JUZ”) is a very bright variable star visible in our night sky.

Its name “Betelgeuse” is a derivation (Latinization) of its original Arabic name, Ibt al-Jauzā, meaning “The Armpit of Orion.”

Ibt al-Jauzā

Details

  • Right Ascension: about 4h 35m 55s.
  • Declination: about +16° 30′ 33″.
  • Absolute / Apparent Magnitude: -6 / 0.0-1.3

Nomenclature

“The name of Betelgeuse has nothing to do with beetles, beetroot, or juice. Like many or most of our star-names, it comes from an Arabic phrase that got progressively corrupted by European writers who passed it on to each other. Richard Hinckley Allen in his classic book on Star Names (1899, reprinted by Dover in 1963) confidently gives the original as Ibt al Jauzah, “Armpit of the Central One,” and then gives a string of those European variations – Bed Elgueze, Beit Algueze, Bet El-geuze, Beteigeuze, Betelguese, Betelgueze, Betelgeux, Beldengeuse, Bectelgeuze, Bedalgeuze, and Ied Algueuze.”

from Universal Workshop

Recent News

betelgeuse-fading.jpg
The recent dimming of Betelgeuse. Image from the NYTimes.

Betelgeuse is a variable star: its magnitude ranges from 0 to about 1.3 within a specific interval of time. However, since late 2019, Betelgeuse has been dimming far lower than ever recorded before. The diagram above, from an article published on New York Times, shows the recent decrease in the magnitude of the red giant. Astronomers speculate that this dimming is a sign that the star is reaching its last stage in its evolution. See stellar evolution on Wikipedia.

The magnitude of a star, put simply, is a numerical measure of its brightness. As the measure becomes lower, the star is brighter: a -2 is brighter than a -1, a 1 brighter than a 2, and so on. Apparent magnitude is a measure of how bright a star is as it appears in the sky on Earth. Absolute magnitude is distance-adjusted.

Alnitak

Alnitak is one of the three stars in Orion’s Belt. In Arabic, Alnitak (pronounced an-Nitāq) translates to “The Girdle,” or “The Belt,” probably because it is a part of the Belt.

an-Nitāq.

Details

  • Right Ascension: 5h 40m 45s
  • Declination: -01° 56′ 34″
  • Absolute / Apparent Magnitude: -5.26 / 1.77

Nomenclature

In addition to its Arabic name an-Nitāq, the Wikipedia lists a few more Arabic terms for the star.

“Arabic terms include Al Nijād, ‘the Belt’, Al Nasak, ‘the Line’, Al Alkāt, ‘the Golden Grains or Nuts’ and, in modern Arabic, Al Mīzān al Haqq: ‘the Accurate Scale Beam.’

slightly modified from its Wikipedia page.

Note on Pronunciations

In Arabic, when certain letters follow an article like Al, you do not literally say Al and then Nitāq, as its transliterated name would suggest. In this case, you pronounce the Al as if it were An, because an N follows the Al. So, an-Nitāq. The same ruling applies, of course, to other Arabic stars with the same conditions. Alnilam becomes an-Nilam, and so on. This does not apply to names like Ibt Al-Jauza, where the Al and the J do not join sounds, and this applies too for M.

Aldebaran

Aldebaran is a bright star in the Taurus constellation, often depicted as a bull. Unsurprisingly, Taurus is Latin for ‘bull.’ The name Aldebaran is Arabic for “The Follower.”

Details

  • Right Ascension: 4h 35m 55s
  • Declination: +16° 30′ 33″
  • Absolute / Apparent Magnitude: about -0.641 / -2.095

Concluding Thoughts

Aldebaran compared to our Sun. Image from its Wikipedia page.

Medieval Arabian and Middle Eastern astronomy’s influence on the West shows itself almost everywhere we look. Whether we study the historical precedence of our number system, our stars, or even the foundations of Western medicine, we see great streaks of Arabic, Middle Eastern and Islamic influence.

Did you find a mistake? Tell us in the Comments Section below.