Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On Tattoos and Other Things

On Tattoos
My son Tomaso asked out of the blue, “How long have people been tattooing their bodies?” Having been born in an age when you learned early to bluff an answer to such questions since it took so long to get an authoritative answer, I opened mymouth to say something, but this time I knew that I had nothing. So I took the few seconds it takes to look it up on a search engine and found that the earliest known example is the iceman found in the Austrian Alps, about 3000 BCEThe wikipedia article went on to talk about tattooing in various religions, including Judaism:

"You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselvesI am the Lord." (Lev 19:28)
Actually, this confirmed an opinion that I had been forming in my head about tattooingOur body is a temple of God, and putting a tattoo on it is a bit of an offenceIt is like walking into the Wilmette Mashriq and spray-painting my own design on the wallGod made the temple,what right have I to start painting graffiti on it?

Anyway, it was then that I wondered what theWritings said about tattooing for Baha’isAgain, a second or two on a search engine turned up the answer, nothing, one way or another (look it up yourself) The House ruled that that means that no Baha’i law applies, for or againstCertainly, since tattooing is part of hundreds of cultures around the world, so it would be impolitic of a Baha’i to object to the custom. Still, to me the ruling of Moses still should hold weight, at least in our own conscience. 

To me, it is an offence to the principle of one God to be marking up His temple for anything but a very good reason — an example of an acceptable tattoo would be the medical kind, used as an aid to medication, as discussed in the Wikipedia article. Recall, that although tattooing is widespread among the world’s cultures, it is a lot less widespread among monotheistic cultures, including Jews and Muslims.
On this Bayan Font
As I write, I am formatting this in a font that turned up on this new Mini Mac called “al Bayan.” I do not know if it will survive the many permutations my text undergoes to get to you, but I suppose this was not made up by a Baha’i or Babi, since the word “bayan” in Arabic means something like reveal — what am I doing? Look it up in Wikipedia! Bayan means clarity or eloquence in Arabic, it means lady in Turkish, it is a drum, a newspaper, a political party, and, oh yes, a couple of books revealed by the Bab. 
On Cosmopolis Earth
As my Facebook friends all know, I finished my 6th draft of my book last week. Since then I have submitted the manuscript to a professional editor for review. Meantime, I am learning a new program, Scrivener, which is an outliner written by a writer for writers. It seems pretty good, it churned up my 50,000 word book pretty well, and can spit it out in any number of formats, from non-fiction manuscript to an ebook, all ready to be sold on Amazon. I will never give up on my antediluvian DOS dinosaur, Maxthink, written back in the 1980’s, but now I feel a little less antiquated. 

Ride in a Glider
My son Thomas recently joined Air Cadets, Canada’s largest youth organization, and got a ride in a glider. My wife Marie took the trouble of filming his first flight and putting it onto YouTube. She calls it: Let na větroni / A flight on a glider ( 
I filmed it too on my Flip camera, but as always I was too lazy to look over my footage, much less edit and post it.
Portrait of Silvie
Silvie and I have been amusing ourselves with dramatic readings of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.” For her, nothing is more fun than playing several roles as we go through the play. We did it with Macbeth last year. As I told her, several famous people, including Abe Lincoln, got their education mostly by studying carefully the works of the Bard. Anyway, I posted what I think is the best portrait of my daughter extant. It was taken by Marie, her mother, on a trampoline, a perfect black background with the dog Amber. It is at:  I used it as her Facebook portrait.
Two books read aloud
This summer I read aloud to my son Robinson Crusoe, and its spiritual sequel, Swiss Family Robinson. 

The latter book was a surprise. 

We think of environmental degradation as a recent thing, but I was shocked to see that humanity was virtually at war with the animal kingdom from way back. Every large animal they come across is killed, skinned, eaten, or otherwise used for their ends. The father in the story arms his boys to the teeth, and whenever they come upon a new, interesting animal, one of them inevitably up and shoots it. Being a pious pastor, he admonishes the boy, but condones it. 

Another thing that has changed since this was written in the 19th Century is the concern for children’s safety. One of his kids has trouble climbing a palm tree and instead of forbidding him, he shows him how to put on sharkskin chaps to grip the wood better. An amazing book, but not for the reasons it became popular back then.

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