Monday, December 25, 2023

Hospital for the Soul on Christmas Day Peppered with rivers due to unseasonal rains


The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” 

–Lois Lowry

ven Chung (Tax Attorney, Los Angeles), Was Jesus Born In Bethlehem For Tax Reasons?:

Chapter 2 of the Gospel of Luke states that Caesar Augustus issued a decree that the world should be taxed based on their ancestral lineage. So Joseph and Mary traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem because Joseph was descended from King David. There, Mary gave birth to Jesus in a manger.

This implies that Jesus was born in Bethlehem for tax purposes. But is this accurate?

The word tax was used only in the King James Bible. ... Modern versions of the Bible state that instead of a tax, Caesar Augustus either decreed a census of the Roman world (New International Version), everyone must be “enrolled” (American Standard Version), or that everyone must be registered (English Standard Version). While these suggest that Caesar Augustus wanted to count the number of his subjects, information from a census was also used for tax purposes at the time.

A number of modern scholars claim that the census — formally known as the Census of Quirinius — took place in 6 CE which is around 10 years after the historically accepted birth year of Jesus. Most have acknowledged that Luke could have been wrong; others have provided explanations for the discrepancy.

Assuming a census existed at the time of Jesus’s birth, how would it help with taxation? The Roman Empire’s tax revenue mainly came from property taxes, poll taxes, tribute from conquered lands, and various sales taxes and duties from ships. There was a wealth tax of 1% (3% during war) on the value of all assets. There was an income tax, but that was only imposed on government monopolies, not individuals.

It is not clear as to what information had to be disclosed in the census. If only the bare minimum was needed, then the census was probably useful for poll tax purposes while a thorough disclosure of financial information suggests it would be used for income or wealth taxes. Places with high population density or high levels of commerce could be studied further by the government to determine whether additional taxes are appropriate. ...

So was Jesus born in Bethlehem for tax purposes? It depends on where your own research takes you

“We Can Make Our Lives Sublime”: Jaroslav Pelikan and a Lifetime of Learning

Hospitals for the Soul

                         (By Jaroslav Pelikan)

       Thank you for this ``Living Legend'' Award: I promise to 
     take it out and look at it whenever I get a sudden attack of 
     humility. Seriously, though, even someone to whom humility 
     does not come easily would have to be humbled today by the 
     names of all these others who are being honored here--and 
     then of those who are not! And if I ask myself the even more 
     humbling question why it is I who have been asked to speak in 
     the name of these men and women who are becoming my new 
     colleagues, my first thought is that I seem to be the only 
     one among those present whose last name puts him into the 
     same class with Big Bird. (Big Bird's cousin Larry Bird, who 
     is also a Living Legend, was unavoidably detained, and as a 
     sometime Hoosier I with his Pacers well in the playoffs.) Or 
     is the explanation simply that I am, at least as much as 
     anyone here, the offspring of the library? Or perhaps it is 
     that all my life I have been studying various languages, 
     which, while only a small fraction of those represented by 
     the collections of the Library of Congress, do manage to 
     include the ancestral tongues of several of my classmates, as 
     well as ``the universal language'' played so eloquently by 
     Maestro Isaac Stern or by my dear friend Yo-Yo Ma.

 But of all languages, there is a special place reserved in 
     my mind and heart for Greek, the language of Plato and 
     Sophocles and Sappho (whom Plato called ``the Tenth Muse'')--
     and the language of the New Testament and of the ``Four 
     Cappadocians'' (Basil of Caesarea, his brother Gregory of 
     Nyssa, their sister Macrina, and Gregory of Nazianzus). So 
     let me turn, as I do so often, to the pleasures of Greek. For 
     in Book One of a work appropriately entitled Bibliotheke 
     [Library], the Hellenistic historian Diodorus Siculus reports 
     that the inscription on the Library of Alexandria read: 
     Pysches iatreion, ``Hospital for the soul''--a profound and 
     brilliant metaphor, even in a language justly celebrated for 
     its metaphors.
       The library is a hospital for the soul because it is here 
     that the soul can find instruments for diagnosis. Those men 
     and women, physicians of the soul, who have thought deeply 
     and spoken movingly about the illnesses that plague us all 
     have put their case studies permanently on deposit here. It 
     is here in the library that Thomas Jefferson traces so many 
     ailments to the dreadful affliction of not holding together 
     ``an honest heart'' and ``a knowing head''; here in the 
     library that George Eliot devastatingly portrays in 
     Middlemarch, my favorite English novel, the pedant who, she 
     says, ``dreams footnotes'' and who lurks in the soul of every 
     scholar (present company excepted, of course!); here in the 
     library that, in my favorite novel of all, the Grand 
     Inquisitor propounds again the three questions in which ``are 
     united all the unresolved contradictions of human nature'', 
     here in the library that Gibbons, celebrated in the Great 
     Hall, carries out an autopsy on ``the natural and inevitable 
     effect of immoderate greatness'' that bears implications for 
     every other empire, also for the American empire; here in the 
     library that Immanuel Kant probes ``the radical evil that 
     corrupts all maxims,'' making the worse appear the better 
     reason; and here in the library that Beatrice, in her 
     quiet but solemn voice, warns us that all our actions 
     carry consequences regardless of our station, evade them 
     though we may for a very long time. And because, in the 
     deathless words of that celebrated scholar and philosopher 
     Professor Pogo of Okefenokee Swamp (whose sayings are also 
     preserved here in the library), ``We got problems we ain't 
     even used yet,'' men and women in generations yet to come 
     will keep turning here for diagnosis and help. But they 
     will be able to do so only if we in this generation have 
     the foresight and the commitment that Joseph had in Egypt, 
     to store up during the fat years what will be needed 
     during the lean years.
       It is likewise to the library that the soul can turn for 
     healing, in the collective memory of the human race. Even for 
     the healing of the soul in a special sense, the writers of 
     the New Testament, in trying to find the most towering and 
     luminous metaphor of all to cope with the miracle and the 
     mystery of what had happened to them, turned to the miracle 
     and the mystery of language: ``In the beginning was the 
     Word.'' But by that metaphor they were in fact attaching 
     themselves to the far more comprehensive tradition of what 
     Pedro Lain Entralgo has called ``the therapy of the word in 
     Classical Antiquity,'' the ancient and yet universal 
     recognition that if the diseases of the human mind and spirit 
     are to be cured, they need to be (as we still say) addressed, 
     that means, spoken to, as they are by biography and 
     autobiography and hagiography from many traditions and 
     diverse cultures, including even our own past, as those can 
     be found in the library and only there. Corny though the 
     cynical may find it, these lives do indeed still
       . . . remind us,
       We can make our lives sublime.
       But increasingly we are beginning to recognize that both 
     diagnosis and healing can be vastly more successful if we 
     have been using the resources of the hospital and the health 
     care system all along for prevention, which is why the 
     library must be, as we say nowadays, a ``research hospital'' 
     and a ``teaching hospital.'' Having spent a scholarly 
     lifetime learning and admonishing that there is a fundamental 
     distinction between knowledge and wisdom, I find myself today 
     stressing the even more fundamental, and even more elusive, 
     distinction between knowledge and information. The library 
     functions as a hospital for the soul by teaching us both of 
     those distinctions, making available enormous stores of 
     information, resources of knowledge, and, to those who have 
     the willingness and patience to learn, treasures of wisdom. 
     (Konrad Adenauer once said that he planned to ask the 
     Almighty, ``Why is it, after putting such limitations on 
     human intelligence, that You did not put similar ones on 
     human stupidity?'') As the chroniclers and commentators and 
     critics of all those traditions, scholars dependent on the 
     library, by introducing us to our grandfathers and more 
     recently to our long lost grandmothers, can help us to 
     bequeath these riches to our grandchildren. For in words of 
     Edmund Burke, who still speaks in the library, it can be 
     defined as ``a partnership in all science; a partnership in 
     all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all 
     perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be 
     obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not 
     only between those who are living, but between those who are 
     living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.''
       On that particular program for universal health care, my 
     old friend, Mr. Librarian of Congress--and (at least for 
     today) Dr. Surgeon General of the Hospital for the Soul--
     everyone would, I hope, have to agree, even in an election 
     year. It was, I firmly believe, providential that exactly 200 
     years ago today, in this city where there would eventually be 
     so many fiefdoms and kingdoms and dukedoms and monuments, the 
     Congress was inspired to found this monumental institution, 
     of which Shakespeare has Prospero say prophetically, ``My 
     library was dukedom large enough.'' For as all the other 
     dukedoms have risen and fallen, the Library of Congress has 
     stood as a monument and a ``hospital for the soul,'' pointing 
     to the life of the mind as the antidote to the twin poisons 
     of political tyranny and moral anarchy.
       Whenever people ask me, after more than half a century of 
     historical research, reflection, and writing (my Three R's), 
     what are the lessons of the past, I apologize that I can't 
     come up with very many. But there is one, which those of you 
     who know me will not be surprised to learn I find stated most 
     profoundly by Goethe's Faust; and it speaks of the library:
       ``Was du ererbt von deinen Vatern hast, Erwirb' es, um es 
     zu besitzen.''
       [What you have as heritage, now take as task; For only thus 
     will you make it your own.]

What people searched for in 2023.

Christmas celebration around the world 🌎 …

How much do male teachers matter?

This is all for Finland:

We evaluate equity-efficiency trade-offs from admissions quotas by examining effects on output once beneficiaries start producing in the relevant industry. In particular, we document the impact of abolishing a 40% quota for male primary school teachers on their pupils’ long-run outcomes. The quota had advantaged academically lower-scoring male university applicants, and its removal cut the share of men among new teachers by half. We combine this reform with the timing of union-mandated teacher retirements to isolate quasi-random variation in the local share of male quota teachers. Using comprehensive register data, we find that pupils exposed to a higher share of male quota teachers during primary school transition more smoothly to post-compulsory education and have higher educational attainment and labor force attachment at age 25. Pupils of both genders benefit similarly from exposure to male quota teachers. Evidence suggests that the quota improved the allocation of talent by mending imperfections in the unconstrained selection process.

That is from a recent paper by Ursina Schaede and Ville Mankki, via Thomas B.