Review: ESV Thinline Bible (Genuine Leather, Black)

No; I did not die back a month ago, but I am still experiencing severe health problems. I donated my old NASB bible to the hospital. Relying on my old translation posts (prefer ESV or NABRE), I bought the bestselling ESV Bible off of Amazon.

The translation is of 2016 vintage. Words of Jesus are colored in red; the book is printed in China (my old NASB bible was printed in the United States). Overall, I rate my new Bible four stars (the red lettering appears purple, the bookmark is insufficiently thin, and the pages are too thin). The translation makes some bold, but good decisions (e.g., Mark 15:28 is excluded from the main text entirely and relegated to the footnotes). The footnotes seem more cramped than in my old NASB- there are more of them, but there’s also less space for them. Sadly, references to the deity are not capitalized. Page corners are rounded (yes!!!) to avoid the constant corner-folding problems I had with my old NASB. The outside of the pages is also covered with some kind of fake gilting (which is a turn-off for me) -perhaps a way to test the wear of the pages. The maps are full-color and accurate. The words “GENUINE LEATHER” and the ISBN are imprinted in gold lettering on the back. The front cover is completely blank. The spine contains “Holy Bible”, the ESV logo, “English Standard Version”, and the Crossway logo. Overall, I am quite satisfied with my purchase.

Edit three days later: the text being organized into paragraphs better than verses is a good choice, and something I noticed just now. The gold dust on the page edges is a serious bug; I had to flip through every single page to make the pages not stick together, and the fake gold dust got in my lungs and on my fingers in the process.

Three Industrial Revolutions

There were three industrial revolutions. All peaked in invention in the 60s-80s, and there will likely be a fourth one in the 21st century.

The first was based on coal, rail, steamboats, etc. This was the era of the beginning of modern economic growth and the “rise of the West” over the rest”. The peak of it all was the peak of Anglo-American population concentration around rail lines, ports, and coal fields during the later 1920s.

The second was based on petroleum and power lines and was fundamentally equalizing. It resulted in the rise of the Second World and the various Middle Income countries (Japan, Mexico, the U.S. South, Puerto Rico, South Italy, etc.). South Korea, India, China, etc. were latecomers, but were still part of the same process.

The third was that in communications and computer technologies and primarily benefited Africa and Silicon Valley.

WWII took place between the peak of the first (thus Germany being poorer than Britain and Britain being Europe’s leading economy), but on the cusp of the spread of the fruits of the second (thus the growing importance of the automobile, electricity, and the aeroplane). The fall of the USSR took place after the maturation of the second and in the late phase of the third. We are undergoing the spread of the fruits of the third.

On the Future of the Chinese Economy

Scott Sumner, a generally smart, insightful, and well-read economist who has frequently visited China, has a Chinese wife and half-Chinese daughter, and claims to have predicted the rise of China in 1980 (though has shown no pics of this amazing feat) claims China will catch up to the GDP (PPP) per capita level of the former Axis powers. I thoroughly dispute this assertion.

Unlike Sumner, who sees modern-day Communist-ruled China as simply a Westward extension of the East Asian miracle, I view China as a corrupt, though fairly economically successful, descendant of Communist administration. I see its economic institutions to be somewhat less advanced than those of Russia today, although I, like Sumner, recognize the high intelligence of the Chinese people.

Today, the highest GDP per capita (PPP) in the post-Communist world (excluding Germany) is in the Czech Republic and Slovenia-two democratic countries with strong capitalist institutions bordering advanced Germanic democracies formed by the U.S. and Britain out of the ashes of the Third Reich. Communist China does not, cannot, and will not have institutions as good as this, at least, for another half-century, or until Communist China reunifies with Nationalist China. Neither the Czech Republic nor Slovenia has a GDP (PPP) per capita even 87% of that of Italy, the poorest Axis country, despite the fact that Italy has been in a depression since 2011. As no post-Communist country has ever surpassed any Axis power in GDP per capita (PPP), despite a quarter century’s worth of catch-up opportunities, with some countries starting from a much higher base than Communist China, there is no reason whatsoever to expect Communist China to surpass any Axis power in GDP per capita (PPP) terms any time soon, even a quarter century from now. There is also no reason to expect Communist China to surpass Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, or Estonia in GDP per capita (PPP) terms any time soon, even with a democratic government.

The best existing parallel to China today is not Taiwan, Japan, or South Korea, but Belaroos’. Like China, Belarus today is a dictatorial industrial country which frequently uses protectionist policies and restrictions on foreign investment while developing its manufacturing exports to the First World. Of course, China, due to its people’s higher natural intelligence and work ethic, as well as its higher urban productivity (which is probably the most important factor here) can probably surpass Belarus’s GDP per capita (PPP) within fifteen years, despite the huge gap between Chinese and Belorussians in working full-time for an employer. And the best existing economic parallel to China twenty or thirty years from now is unlikely to be Germany, Austria, or Finland, but is more likely to be Russia- a large, post-Communist Great Power with a machine-style political system with real elections, but no real political choices. To those who say “but is not Russia simply a fossil fuel exporter” I reply “but what would it be doing if it weren’t”? Does Russia have no auto industry? No tech talent? No agriculture? No ability to develop high-value-added services? And is Russian economic success no less worthy than Chilean economic success, as these two have pretty much the same natural resource rents as a percentage of GDP, as well as a similar GDP per capita?

And while it is, indeed, true that China likely has higher urban productivity than Russia, as China’s GDP per capita is more than half of Russia’s, what will happen when the rural population is all sucked up into urban apartments, which I expect to happen within the next thirty years? At that point, due to lack of Chinese w

The Power of Evil

Sometimes, I am impressed by the power and the banality of evil. Look, for example. at the President of the United States. He gloats about his destruction of nations before the press*, he openly admits his use of the Islamic State to overthrow an Iraqi Prime Minister with, in early June 2014, the approval of over 75% of the population of those parts of Iraq under the rule of the Iraqi government in July 2014. And, yet, not even Fox News dares say what needs to be said. The United States is the Great Satan, and Obama is its head. There is no doubt the Great Satan has no good intents. He has no plans to overthrow Assad, nor the Islamic State, but, rather, desires to maintain them both in a predeliberated perpetual struggle of planned chaos. He had plenty of opportunity to accomplish the dream of a Syria ruled by so-called “moderate” rebels. Syrian rebels breached Islamic State defenses in Raqqa twice over the course of 2014, once in January and once later that year. They also held most of Deir ez-Zor as late as July 2014. Yet, the Great Satan decided it was not to his liking that they be free of his control, so he removed them from the lands of the Euphrates, step by step.

Today, the Great Satan indiscriminately supplies Syrian rebels of every stripe with anti-tank weapons, ostensibly to fight the Islamic State. But the Islamic State does not have tanks. The Syrian government does. There is no doubt that any serious attempt at peace in Syria and Iraq is an abhorrence to the Great Satan, who desires nothing more than those countries be kept in a perpetual state of conflict. The Russian airstrike campaign’s hope, no matter how faint or fleeting, to bring a lasting peace to Syria

Yet, no matter how bad the Great Satan is, his lackey manages to openly express even more evil. The regime in Ankara demands the gateways to the Islamic State be kept open; that Syrian Kurdistan not be re-united as one, with the regions the Kurds lost over the course of 2014 from Carchemish to

Syria should never have de-mined the border with Turkey. Never trust the West.

No doubt Israel stands behind all this. Though the mover winding the Islamic State is the nation of the Turks, and the nation is the Great Satan, all this fundamentally happens in a Zionist context. Likud rules Congress; were it to challenge even a jot of

Certainly, George W. Bush was no saint. But it is clear that his campaigns worked; by January 20, 2009, he replaced the Taliban with a corrupt open anocracy, as well as a near-totalitarian dictatorship with a clearly popular elected anocratic government with the potential, however weak, for the creation of stability throughout Iraq.

As an end note to these remarks on the Syro-Iraqi war I note the surprising effectiveness of the Syrian Kurds, the complicity of the Kurds in Erbil, and the amazing phenomenon of regime-Kurdish cooperation in Hasakah and Qamishli. There was also this in Shaddadeh, too, before the area was captured by IS. When the Islamic State threatened Qamishli, regime soldiers defended it. When IS forces threatened Hasakah, it was Kurdish forces who fought to keep it secular. Despite common goals Arabization campaigns Such cooperation must be the cornerstone fo

Stalin and Kim Jong Il

I must not end this exploration of the power of evil among the powers of this Earth without examining the curious resuscitation of neo-Nazism among the Christie Nazi.

*Let us use our heads to analyze the relevant passage:

The Best Arguments for Jesus’s Historicity and Ahistoricity

Arguments for ahistoricity:

Leadups for Plausibility/Excuses:

The concept of a ‘Dying Anointed One’ is not unique. Daniel 9:26 explicitly states the anointed One will be cut off.  (see a Carrier post for a further examination of this concept

There is no certain evidence of a mention of Jesus in any account not influenced by the Gospel tradition (which originated, at latest, c. 70 AD). Tacitus, writing some years after that date, may well have been influenced by the historicist tradition.

Actual arguments:

The use of the Septuagint to write the life of Jesus, even in Mark.

The ‘silence of Paul‘.

The reliance of visions in Paul’s narration of the life of Jesus (Galatians 1:11, 1 Cor 11:23).

Arguments for historicity:


The story

Actual Arguments:

Paul seems to view Jesus as temporarily being an earthly character.

Three LMLK Maps: A Review And Some Conclusions

Above: A combination of my first three lmlk maps. Blue is HBRN, Orange is ZYF, Yellow is SWKH, Green is MMST, Maroon are those with eroded or unpublished inscriptions.

It is clear that the contents of the lmlk-marked jars belonged to the king before they were given (or sold) to whomever they were given to.

Assyrian vassal economy centralizing reforms

The only cities with over two early lmlk handles found during their excavations outside of the zone negatively affected by Sennacherib’s campaign are Gibeon, Mizpah, and Jerusalem (Ramat Rahel does not count).

Guarantees of and Correlates of GDP Per Capita

About a year ago, I made an Excel file with information on how countries’ capitals’ distance from the equator related with those countries’ GDP per capita (PPP) as of 2012:
This may have errors, but I don’t know of any. As you can see, the Equator contains countries both rich and poor. However, the further North you go, the fewer poor countries one finds. By the time one has gotten to Iceland (the northernmost country in this chart), no poor countries are left. Why is this so?

Equation for calculating Roman army size based off the Notitia




Commentary on Genesis 1

Thesis: Since the scriptures had already been codified during the Maccabean period, the Persian period being an unlikely age for their origination, it seems likely the primary part of the Old Testament, from Genesis to 2 Kings, had been codified in the exile, by c. 540 BC, with earlier, late monarchic scrolls being used as sources, as suggests Walter Mattfeld. Of course, it is quite unlikely the Primary History was composed any time before 722 BC, when Judah was merely struggling for survival, and far from attempting to develop a coherent sense of national identity. Such an identity could only have been molded during the days of Hezekiah or the Exile. It is quite impossible that any Middle Bronze oral tradition might preserve accurately anything of the supposed Patriarchs, or that a coherent, codified monotheism existed before the days of the Monarchies. Let us then begin with the commentary.

Commentary on Genesis 1

1-”In the beginning”-i.e., in the beginning of worldly history, supposed heavenly earlier events being too fanciful and in too numerous editions to record.

“God”-that is, Elohim, which, by the late stage the text was composed, had become a mere title for YHWH, who was apparently thought to be the only god in existence. This is definitely a sign of a post-722 BC, but apparently pre-Hasmonean, train of thought.

“created the heavens and the earth”-The author is here describing a logical precursor to the next verse; that the heavens, that is, the vast expanse of space, must exist before anything in it, including light. The listener/reader is not intended to see these, but, rather, merely know that they are there.

2-“The earth was formless and void”-Somewhat reminiscent of the primordial ocean of the Sumerians. Jeremiah 4:23, dating to the days of Nabopolassar, parodies this verse, showing this narrative was existent in the days of Josiah. In v. 6 of this chapter, the earth is explicitly stated to have been covered entirely with water (and, seemingly, nothing else) during this phase.

“And darkness was over the face of the deep”-Making it more clear that the earth was invisible to any viewers, and that the waters of the ocean and sky were united in a great ocean. Other, later Judahite texts of the late 7th-early 6th Cs BC (and Iranian texts of the Early Persian period) state the earth is circular, and has ends. This might imply the later Judahites thought the early earth was very much like a dish, situated upon pillars, as stated in the Book of Job.

“and the spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters”-Apparently added to add some eventfulness to the narrative, and to give a picture of the relationship between God and the primordial Earth.

3- “Then God said”-Apparently written to emphasize the power of God, being able to create by commanding the universe by the spoken word


“’Let there be light’; and there was light”-That is, anything but blackness, the thing which allows to see. The light is implied in v. 3 of this chapter to have been mixed with the darkness, and have been a substance, like water or coal.

4-“God saw the light was good”-That is, God could make a value judgment that light was suitable to his goals, which do not seem to have reasons behind their existence.