Women and the Stability of Christianity

The Tiger in the Academy,” by Tim Safford, Christianity Today, April 2006, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/004/33.70.html (from The Korea Liberator).

The last part of a war, sometimes called “Stage 3,” or “Phase IV,”or “Stability,” operatons, is essentially the feminization of war. The last stage of war is in some ways un-war, because instead of killing what was you build what will be. This final portion is the pay-off for a take-over operation. The difference between killing and building is the difference between the Leviathan and the SysAdmin, A-Z Ruleset and the Reverse Domino Theory, the Soldier and the Warrior, the Panzer and the Soldat, man and woman.

christianity alpha_chi_ro_omega_md

I earlier wrote about this in the context of Christianity as a 4GW Movement. Now a great example of it from the University of California:

“This generation of Asians is the most blessed of all Asians in history,” says pastor David Hsu of the West Houston Chinese Church. “The opportunity to learn, to interact, to have freedom is unparalleled. They have unprecedented opportunities and material blessings. But you either become a channel of blessing, or it will be taken away from you and given to others.”

Asian campus fellowships have unique opportunities for evangelism. The close community draws in non-Christian Asians, who are not likely to find a comparable sense of belonging anywhere on campus. Rarely is another Asian group so large and friendly. Christians so dominate the Korean American student world that one Stanford student posted a lengthy online lament. As a non-Christian, he said, he stood a much-diminished chance of finding a Korean wife. “The challenge for Asian Americans in an ethnic fellowship is to use it as a base for evangelism,” Tokunaga says, “not just to stick with people they are comfortable with.”

Want to invent a new religion? Exploit the core competencies of men and women and save the souls of humanity. Or at least, spread your memes.

Quality, a tdaxp series

The tdaxp feature, Jeusism-Paulism, combined three posts into a coherent series of articles. This spurred discussion on the original thoughts, and made it easier for new visitors to the website to read about the “4th Generation” or “Netwar” aspects of the earlier Christians.

If that treatment is good enough for God, it’s good enough for Quality

Photo Courtesy Despair.com

This series, Quality, combines five previous posts into an extended discussion about the definitions of a thing: what makes a thing good, and what makes a thing a thing. These two questions are really one, and the most direct inspiration for the answer is Robert Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality, particularly his works Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila.

Quality, a tdaxp series, has five parts.

formerly Zen and the Art of Semantic Eurovision Networks
Beauty, which melts our hearts, is a representation of Quality.

formerly Friction (and other things) in Politics
Melting is a consequence of heat, which is caused by friction of two qualitative objects.

formerly The Frictional Sea
Melting produces liquids, which eventually form the great ocean of reality.

Inlets, Lakes, and Streams
formerly Interpretivism as Context
We divide the global ocean into smaller bodies of world, pretending they are separate things, so we can understand them.

The Magic Cloud
formerly Globalization is Water: The Magic Cloud
The watery substance of our world is not ice, because it is everywhere reconstructing.

Reviews for the posts in Quality, a tdaxp series:

“truly bizarre and equally brilliant… probably the best display of horizontal thinking in a blog I’ve ever seen… I had to go lie down with a Corona Extra after reading it.”
Thomas Barnett

“Amazing work… It couldn’t get any clearer than this… Thumbs up!!”
– Matthew Cachia

Bill Rice

“Amazing. Simply amazing.”
– Robin Sadovsky

“Holy cats !!!”
Mark Safranski

“Very enjoyable… 100%”
UNL Political Science Professor

Begin reading the first part, “Beauty.”

Perspectives and Peers 8, Interview with Mark Safranski

Note: This is a selection from Perspectives and Peers, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

Mark Safranski is a trained historian, mentioned in Blueprint for Action and other books. He’s also a close blogfriend of tdaxp, running the phenominal ZenPundit. On top of all of that he is a professional educator, and agreed to be interviewed for this project.

Thanks Mark!

The interview was conducted through electronic mail in three waves. Pay special attention to his comments on multiple perspectives and peer interactions, which are the questions that form the backbone of this paper. For ease of reading, my words are in bold and the subject’s are in italics

Wave 1

Background: I work with 13-15 year olds from a generally economically advantaged area in the wealthiest county in Illinois. While the students fall all along the traditional Bell Curve the aggregate mean I.Q. would be closer to 110 than 100 and approximately 20 % would have I.Q.’s in at least the superior range. As for myself, I have years of experience administering programs for At-Risk as well as Gifted students and have worked as a consultant and presenter on matters of curriculum and teaching methodology

To what degree to adolescents you interact with possess formal operations?
Probably less than 10 % of my students begin the year in the stage of formal operations in the sense of solid, regular and frequent demonstration of logical thinking and abstract conceptualization. Another 25-30 % can demonstrate these abilities intermittently but without any real consistency but can make relatively quick mental leaps from single concrete examples in a structured, teacher-modeled format to a generalized abstract principle. The numerical majority are concrete thinkers and a minority on the low end of mental ability and or emotional maturity show sporadic signs of preoperational stage thought.

To what degree do you witness the emergence of formal operations in adolescents?
To a considerable degree over the course of a year – with the caveat here that I am regularly, intentionally and systematically trying to elicit these behaviors with cognitive exercises to an extent that is most likely atypical.

Roughly, in an average year, I would guess that my top two cognitive categories increase by about half to as much as double. The concrete thinkers as a group decreases though the very lowest group probably changes very little, if at all.

Is flow (being “lost” in work) or metacognition (being aware of one’s thoughts) more common when students are practicing rationality?
In my experience, I would say that metacognition is an activity that has to be taught formally to this age group as a form of self-monitoring awareness so “ rationality” as I understand you to be using the term is something that would be practiced here. At least initially, as I have also observed that students who understand the concept of “metacognition” and have tried conscious monitoring will then almost immediately recognize or relate to intuitive metacognitive experiences like “ fingertip feeling” or “ tip of the tongue” feeling.

“ Flow” is another matter and it relates to the critical issue of attention. Adolescents put in any kind of a sizable group are very vulnerable to distraction – both extrinsically and intrinsically – which is an obstacle to having meaningful cognitive experiences that we like to describe as “ learning”. The absorbed, almost zen-like state of “ flow” is something that most adolescents drift into unintentionally unless they are quite practiced at some activity like playing a musical instrument and have honed their powers of concentration.

In general, do adolescents attain formal operations and rationality faster in peer-to-peer or “mentoring” style situations?
For the majority of students in this age group I would say “mentoring” is far and away more efficient – with the proviso that the “ mentoring” involves meaningful, focused, interaction and not an adult talking at a room of disconnected adolescents.

Emotional and social concerns and insecurities are such primal drivers here as to make peer-to-peer situations counterproductive unless they have been highly structured with objectives that are both understood by the students and for which they are motivated to accomplish. If that is the case then peer to peer is a useful learning technique and method of positive reinforcement.

A minority of students, usually the most able but not always, who are intrinsically driven by intellectual curiosity can, if grouped together, have some very productive experiences without (or because of the lack of) a formal structure as they make their way to a common goal.

Do formal operations seem to kick in faster, slower, or at about the same time as rationality in adolescents you interact with?
As you have defined rationality that would, on average, be faster than fully entering the stage of formal operations.

Formal operations is more complex and it lumps together some activities that take place in different regions of the brain (granting the emphasis in the prefrontal cortex) and with aggregate mean differences between genders. If you have ever watched middle school students struggle with algebraic formulas or analyzing scenarios using Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development you see that multiple variables, sequential causation and like aspects of complex problem solving are something that most of them succeed in doing in short bursts.

Wave 2

Are those fractions (less than 10%, and 25-30%) typical of the student population where you are at?
Past years (5-10 years ago) were better. As the population has expanded we have seen regression toward the mean in action in terms of IQ as well as a culturally based decline in reading skills, study skills, positive parental involvement and so on. Abilities can be latent but if not tapped they look the same as if they didn’t exist – hard to disentangle these factors from anecdotal observation alone and truly well done longitudinal studies are rare.

Dr. Von is running one in several Evanston Il. School districts through Northwestern U. that is in ( I believe) its fifth year but the data won’t be in until the test group graduates High school ( he started with – if I recall) impoverished, at-Risk, 3rd graders).

“Do adolescents you interact with practice, on purpose, formal operations, or that style of thinking?
Autonomously, without prompting from me ? Yes, but more rarely. Generally a high level of motivation the factor in triggering it – either deep interest in figuring something out or competitiveness with a peer to prove them wrong.

Could a student by “flowing” and metacognitive simultaneously?
While I can think of past or current students who I suspect are or were capable of doing so I am not able to provide an example ( hard to discern spontaneous metacognition from visual observation alone. That would have to flow from a verbal interaction which time constraints and peer pressure will frequently inhibit).

Regarding the attainment of formal operations, does presentation of more different perspectives (that would provoke more disagreement) or more similar perspectives (that would allow more refined disagreement) seem to help more? Does the same hold true for the attainment of formal operations?
If you wish to inculcate critical thinking and dismantle egocentricity in young adolescents in relatively short periods of time, forcing them to utilize multiple perspectives is invaluable. There are many ways to do this – scenarios from Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development, Counterfactuals, exercises from Edward De Bono, Socratic Method, Optical Illusions – since novelty is a key a key “ hook” with adolescents you are best off not overusing one particular method.

In my humble opinion, multiple perspectives should be the cornerstone of secondary teaching methodology and should definitely be used as part of the Arts ( Art, Music, PE, Drama) in intermediate elementary education because the tangible, hands-on, participatory, kinesthetic aspect is an accessible bridge to higher levels of thinking for younger children who may not have developed their verbal reasoning sufficiently.

Wave 3

Do you ever witness movement form formal operations to pre-formal operations?
In the sense of regression, a student who has attained the formal operations stage and then moving backwards, no. Students in transition and showing behavior in both concrete and formal operations stages as they move to formal operations, yes, all the time.

In general, do students who attain the same level of formal operations seem to have practiced the same amount? In the same way?
No, individual differences seem to rule and there are often disparities even between the capacity for logical reasoning and comprehension of abstractions in the same student. I’d say that of the two, logical reasoning is more readily attainable and also ” teachable” for young adolescents.

Perspectives and Peers, a tdaxp series:
Perspectives and Peers 1. Introduction
Perspectives and Peers 2. Books Assigned in Class
Perspectives and Peers 3. Articles Assigned in Class
Perspectives and Peers 4. Other Articles
Perspectives and Peers 5. Interview with the Subject
Perspectives and Peers 6. Conclusion
Perspectives and Peers 7. Bibliography
Perspectives and Peers 8. Interview with Mark Safranski

Historic Tianjin

While Tianjan, like Beijing, is primarily a new history, hints of its history are everywhere.


Beijing’s history is of a Chinese past, from the Ming City and Great Walls to Tea Town, but Tianjin looks to the world. Tianjin was a city that several concessionary areas to the European powers, and evidence of that is still clear. Some houses just scream “Europe”

but other structures and clues, such as Sino-European artwork, are more subtle…

A scene from the Bronx?

There is a very similar building, in a very similar state, just a few blocks from my residence in Lincoln, Nebraska.

On the train (really, Tianjin’s metro) to the port and the Soviet ACC Kiev, the lives of farmers. Seeing men and women work the field with no automation was a shock, no matter how much I have seen on television of otherwise read.

Not everything historical is well kept. This building to the fight with the Eight Power Alliance during the Boxer Rebellion was clearly last cared for in the 1980s. Seriously, elsewhere there’s a series of pictures which stop in the mid 1980s.

Defense technology from different eras.

This fort once overlooked the ocean, but the deadly haze plus land reclamation means it’s far from the ocean and even the Ocean River is barely visible.

Tianjin, a tdaxp series.

Heavenly Ford: City of Beauty

Tianjin, like most Chinese cities, is composed of two characters. Jin is “ford,” and Tian is “Heaven” or “Sky” (as in The Heavenly Temple / Tiantan, The Heavenly Peace Gate / Tiananmen, etc). I previously wrote about the un-modern characteristic of using the same word for “Heaven” and “Sky”, but here the problem is more prosaic: does Tianjin mean “Heavenly Ford” or “Sky Ford”?

Because (to my ears) “heavenly” seems more sublime than “sky,” for this post on the beauty of Tianjin I’ll describe the art in the Heavenly Ford.


Of course, much wasn’t photographed, or the pictures just didn’t come out. There are two super-towers in the city (at least — the haze makes it difficult to see too far), and Tianjin University (formerly Beiyang, or “Northern Peace” University) at night is intoxicating. Likewise, the grandeur of the Sino-Romantic painting on the ceiling of Tianjin Railroad Station (which connects directly to Beijing Railroad Station) must be seen in person to be truly loved.

Yet these images are the best I could do for my blog. While much more polluted than Beijing, Tianjin could easily be more beautiful. It is a city of parks, and rivers, and eye-pleasing artwork. I would give my props to the City Fathers of Tianjin, but like Beijing Tianjin is controlled directly by the central government. So my props to whatever bureaucrats are running the place, whoever they may be.

Outside the Railway Station, the first clue that art is big in the City of the Heavenly Ford

Statues that initially looked Greek greeted commuters on a major roadway

Across one of the many lakes of Tianjin University. Tianjin’s campus compares favorably to Peking U‘s

The Ocean is indescribably polluted, as was hinted at the Soviet ACC Kiev, but the donkey was neat!

Gigantic drummers greet conventioners and soccer fans. The Convention Center visible in the background certainly is newer than Beijing‘s.

More of the holy woman

Naked children may be a fetish for Chinese artists, but certainly not for parents. I’ve never seen a Chinese child that was not fully clothed.

In a place that reminded me of Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, sculptures are child-size too. (Tianjin’s art is far better than Chicago’s, but the influence is obvious.)

Beyond the strawberry, the waterfall.

Tianjin, a tdaxp series.

Cruisin’ with the People’s Liberation Army Navy

The Soviet Aircraft Carrier Kiev, first of the Kiev Class and former mistress of the Black Sea Fleet, is now an amusement park in Tianjin.


Let the cruise begin!

The Kiev in the not-so-far distance. The choking, lethal haze of Tianjin gives the illusion of distance to everything.

Part of the amusement-park/museum was a “war is bad” exhibit, which nevertheless contained examples of heroism, including…

… American exploits in the Second World War.

The Map room showed the continent of Africa and her lesser-known twin continent, Africa 2.

A portion of a world map, with Greenland mysteriously unlabeled.

The Kiev in more fearsome days

English translations were mostly good, some with errors…

… that were occasionally fixed.

The deck of the helicarrier.

“Happy Everyday” wishes the sign, as one gazes up the hellish ruins of what was once a coast.

Can you see Tianjin? Of course not. Even though you are in Tianjin.

The broken beech, closer-up.

“Happy Everyday” and a murdered ocean.

A fearsome ship threatens to spread…

… Nestle chocolate ice-cream and Coca-Cola throughout the world. Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

A once formidable ship…

… gazes blindly into the absent sky.

I was too hard on Al Gore. Because of Global Warming, the Pacific Ocean now extents to Tiananmen Square. Sorry, Al.

Tianjin, a tdaxp series.

Bloggers Win! Congratulations AppleInsider, Powerpage, and EFF!

Apple dealt loss in Apple v. Does trade secret case,” by Ryan Paul, Ars Technica, 27 May 2006, http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060527-6933.html.

I love my iPod, and I’d love a MacBook, but I love freedom more.

bloggers are entitled to free speech

A California appeals court judge has ruled in favor of a petition filed by the EFF that frustrates Apple’s attempt to force rumor sites AppleInsider and Powerpage to reveal their sources. In 2004, web site AppleInsider published an “exclusive” account of a new Apple product alleged to be in development, a breakout box for GarageBand dubbed Asteroid (presumably because it allowed you to rock. Rimshot!).

The ruling concludes that trade secrets do not categorically transcend freedom of the press, that there is no relevant legal distinction between journalistic blogging and journalism with regards to the shield law, and that Apple’s attempt to subpoena the e-mail service provider of one of the sites was a violation of the federal Stored Communications Act.

Congratulations to AppleInsider and PowerPage, which both appear to be fine blogs.

tdaxp supports the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

A Beautiful Country Person in Beautiful Beijing

The last two days in Beijing have been clear. Actually clear. Yesterday I didn’t even wear my mask in traffic. The breathability of the air has been amazing.

The above picture should be astonishing for any Beijinger because clouds are visible, even far away ones. The sky is often absent, and the smog often robs Zhonggua Beijing of her beauty.

The gorgeousness of these last few days has not just been beautiful, it’s been healthy too. The physical weakness I succumbed to in Tianjin is largely gone (I’m back to operating as I did in the first few days of my trip now — which isn’t great, but is at least only good).

We went with a hitherto-unmet portion to the “countryside” (which reminded me of the SD 11 and 41st Street intersection in Sioux Falls), and saw some really beautiful sites. The courtyard of the restaurant, shown below, is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in the Central State. I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of the golf course or the McMansions, which loomed nearby, and my shots of the vineyard just didn’t come out. Nor was there a chance to photograph the shepherds on bicycle with their flock.

A quick note on the name of this post. My learning of Mao’s “reformed” “screw you” Chinese characters is mostly helped but sometimes frustrated by an earlier study of Japanese Chinese Characters. When the Japanese decided which symbol to use for American, they chose Rice-Country-Person. Happily, China long ago chose a more pleasing form: Beautiful-Country-Person. Thanks China!

All in all, these last days have been fantastic. And now, without further ado, the rest of the photos:


Sky! Clouds! In real life, I could easily see through the windows of the top tower on the hill, which is part of Hundred Looks Hill (Baiwangshan).

Why so little pollution? Part of the reason was a constant day of rain before, which flushed the sky of its carbon. Also to thank were strong winds, sending someone else the poison of this town and granting me a view of Chinese kites!


An advertisement for Pyongyang Haedanghwa.

A Ford dealership under a blue sky. Only the construction cranes tell you that you’re in Peking.

Sky! Color! Lack of Haze!

120 degrees to the right of the previous shot. A building has just been bulldozed to put more of those apartments.

Later in the day, the courtyard of our restaurant.

Looking down from the balcony.

Another balcony shot. This place is gorgeous.

Friendly staff let us into this unused portion of the restaurant. It was bliss.

Looking down from the secret balcony.

Chinese roofs till the horizon. Each one appeared to have a courtyard similar to ours.

The neighboring courtyard. Unlike our play one, it’s being used to grow a vegetable garden.

More houses. This is taken through a fan in the clubhouse. The golf course is beyond the farthest trees.


The same shot, with a slight change in camera orientation.

Walking back down from the secret clubhouse. Even the more function parts of the restaurant were magical.

Leaving after a delicious meal of country-style chicken broth, the dying coals of the barbecue grill.