Just in time for Christmas...a meditation on "The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor" and the Meaning of Jesus.
Most of it is pure, unadulterated chaff, showing too much reverence to the Jesus-as-inspiring-myth lie and too little relevance to the Christmas season to be worth reading. If you want to know more about it, go here.
There is, however, one good line:
"It is in this universal call to self-surpassing that the radical appeal of Jesus can be found."
After all, if we want to remain what we are, we won't really want Jesus. (Which may explain why the "successful" people, with good habits and solid social and financial standing, are usually irreligious.) If we think we're messed up, and feel we can't fix ourselves, we're open to Jesus' invitation to follow Him.
But I fear I've wasted your time. Go read this stuff by G. K. Chesterton instead.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Just in time for Christmas...a meditation on "The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor" and the Meaning of Jesus.
You've already been reminded to "Keep Christ in Christmas." If you've read D.G.D. Davidson's blog, you've been reminded to "Keep Mass in Christmas."
So would it kill you if I told you to "Keep Satan in Christmas?"
Merry Christmas, all y'all!
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
But, being my lazy self, I have no thoughts about Advent. Instead, I have a song:
"Morning-room in Heaven"
Written by Oscar Wilde, Histor the Wise, and the Bonsai Story Generator
She is in the way, Shropshire is your sake.
By the whole question of a first-rate brand.
Bring me Algy, Algernon, I am sure.
Very nearly offering a large reward.
Just give my consent.
I allow you Jack.
I never think that is for Gwendolen.
First place girls never marry the present.
That will do, Lane, thank you. Yes, that business.
I was very good bread and butter, Jack.
Just give my consent.
I allow you Jack.
Really, if you want my cigarette case.
This cigarette case is no use of them?
They are ordered specially invented for that,
Gwendolen is perfectly delightful!
Just give my consent.
I allow you Jack.
All the lines are - were, actually - from the play The Importance of Being Ernest. I just put it into the generator, parsed the text, put it into stanzas....
Now I just need a tune. You can sing the verses to the tune of "Johnny B. Goode," but the chorus of this "song" and of "Johnny B. Goode" don't match up at all.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Some quotes - like this one - are just too exquisite to pass by. And so, taking a page out of G. K. Chesterton's book Tremendous Trifles, I will attempt to parody its style.
- There's a disappointing lack of Republicanism in the Democratic Party nowadays.
- Unfortunately, there's little sympathy for OU's football team among UT fans.
- Surfers, oddly enough, don't like to live in Nebraska.
- Saladin didn't actively support Richard the Lionheart's cause.
- Fish adamantly refuse to take part in marathons, despite a major publicity campaign aimed at getting "FINS ON THE ROAD!"
In more current news...
The Pope, for some reason, is "bypassing" Boston in his upcoming visit - point of fact, he's only going to New York and Washington, D.C. This, I suppose, proves beyond a doubt that Boston is now flyover country.
I think a lot of people are regretting the decision to let China have the Olympics. They're putting cell phone towers on Mount Everest, prohibiting Olympic athletes/attendees from having bibles...something tells me they'll next put a huge statue of Mao Zedong holding the Olympic Rings in Beijing. (By the way, the word "Beijing" is a blight on the eyes. Unlike "Peking" which had a tasteful clearness and lack of dots.)
Oh, and D.G.D. Davidson and I are doomed to MORTAL COMBAT!
On one side, the veteran of countless archaeological encounters and international Sharp Trowel Expert, on the other, a veteran of The Simplification with world-renowned prowess in blunt weaponry...
In the case of , um, this blog going dormant, I'll just say I don't much regret what I've done with my life (except the one time I used my sister's copy of Persuasion as tinder....and the time I ate Tabasco sauce straight....and some other things...)
Over and out.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
So I'll just fling some links at y'all.
From the InsideCatholic.com blog, a post on how looks matter in tasting wine. (Not in the sense of the wine having no visible grape skins in it.) A distressing line in the post: "Forty experts said [a particular wine] was worth drinking..." Now, I could say that a wine is or isn't worth buying, but isn't any unadulterated wine worth drinking?
From the same website, a column about Muslims, aesthetics, and the Blessed Sacrament.
Since our house doesn't have TV, the recent TV writers' strike hasn't affected me much- but I have read quite a bit about it. The best perspective on it that I have seen is here, on a post written before the strike actually began. I like the closing line of the post.
From Darwin Catholic, a post on the problem of evil. I have to admit, I don't really worry much about why God allows evil in the world, since from early childhood I have been taught that
1. Good things come from God, and
2. If something is bad, it's because mankind/the Devil messed it up.
My sister is preparing to resort to armed coercion to make me go to bed mow, so goodnight, everyone!
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Here's some stuff related to the '60s and/or Vietnam...
Another Sixties gun: the M21 sniper rifle,
Sixties pope: John XXIII, of sacred memory,
Sixties book: the classic Green Eggs and Ham,
Sixties music: Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son."
Monday, November 5, 2007
The worst thing is that this, in effect, is a 60 percent tax on BOOKS, effected by means of price controls.
Mark that: BOOKS ARE BEING TAXED.
Books are the things that separate civilization from barbarism. The things that keep us from having to spear our own food and cook it over brushfires. The things that, more commonly, give us a worthwhile thing to do at the doctor's office.
And they drive up the price!
Admittedly, there's relatively few books worth buying in any case (browse any bookstore and you'll see what I mean), but those that are are being unjustly taxed.
Makes me wonder: are there laws on reselling books in Germany?
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I'm going to be writing some college application essays this week...once I finish those, I'll be putting out an essay on A Bright Shining Lie, which is a huge nonfiction book without a hero, and return to my chattering.
Meanwhile, here's some stuff I've dredged up...
There once was a lady called Ayn Rand, who wrote huge novels championing "Objectivism" (a sort of atheistic libertarianism); I found this old review of her book Atlas Shrugged interesting. (I still can't believe any sane person would name a fictional character Midas Mulligan.)
The B-Movie Catechism discovers that my web-name of "Histor" isn't quite that original, and takes a look at the lottery system in the meantime. Furthermore, his post on costumes for Hallowe'en (or All Saints' Day, if you prefer the latter celebration as my family does) inspired me to come up with animal/creature costumes:
A FROG from Frogs, (sorry, folks, no pic)
A GIANT GILA MONSTER,
AN ALIEN FROM WAR OF THE WORLDS (dare you to try it!),
THE DEADLY MANTIS from the movie of the same name,
and of course GODZILLA.
As for me, I'm going to dress up as one of the Blues Brothers...
Anyone got a pork-pie hat they could lend me?
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I attended Saturday evening mass at a nearby parish, where for whatever reason the responsorial psalm resembled the song, "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie, The Old Grey Goose is Dead." Couple that with a communion hymn ("I Am The Bread of Life," to be exact) which completely lacks even the suggestion of poetry, and a Kyrie Eleison remniscent of a marching cadence, and you have a delightful instance of music getting in the way of mass.
After the mass, my dad asked, "Is there a patron saint of bad liturgical music?"
I don't think there is.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Mark Shea recently wrote an article about old predictions about the future, such as those collected on a blog called Paleo-Future. (Hat tip to Sci-Fi Catholic.)Of course, most of these predictions were wildly inaccurate, although some have come true. (I think here of a Renaissance woodcut that depicted the technology of Utopia, with submarines, "light projected great distances," fire that burns on water, and plants modified to bear larger and tastier fruit.)
Since I have nothing wise or illuminating to say about that, I'll just show you an old prophecy that I came across in the book Misguided Weapons, which quotes at length one Dr. Vannevar Bush.
Dr. Vannevar Bush was head of the Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II, which was in charge of everything American scientists did for the war effort, from the Manhattan Project to penicillin production. After the war - in September of 1949 to be exact, he wrote a book (Modern Arms and Free Men) on the nature of a future conflict. Of course, this could only refer to a confrontation with the Soviet Union, which by then had its own atomic bombs.
The most notable predictions:
- Future navies would operate only against enemy submarines, since they alone would be capable of strategic bombardment. Bombers, missiles, and land-based rockets would be useless because...
- Jet aircraft and anti-aircraft guns would make short work of any bomber before it got in range of any important target. Jets, however, would be incapable of dogfighting, since their velocity wide turning radii would leave them at the mercy of more maneuverable propeller aircraft. (Bush apparently believed that speed is a liability in a fighter aircraft.)
- As for missiles, their predictable flight paths would make them easy to shoot down.
- Rockets (i.e. ballistic missiles) would have a practical range of only 400 miles, and therefore only submarine-mounted rockets would be threats to the U.S. homeland.
- Even if rockets were capable of intercontinental flight, they would be impossible to guide, and would miss their targets by hundreds of miles - making them completely useless.
- The limited supply of uranium would make it "quite a few years" before the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. had enough bombs to wage an all-out nuclear war. (In 1951, the USSR had 25 bombs, while the U.S. had 438, 268 of which had been built after the Soviet bomb test.)
- No totalitarian regime would be capable of producing the sophisticated products which free countries like the U.S. were capable of. (Bush, however, does praise the Nazi-developed V-2, which required "great ingenuity and engineering skill," and which formed the basis for all subsequent rocket science.)
Now, this is the exact opposite of what Paleo-Future is about. Bush is prophesying that various forms of technology would not be used in the future: by 1959 all of his predictions were proved wrong. So spectacularly wrong, in fact, that the author of Misguided Weapons conjectures that Bush was deliberately making false predictions in order to confuse the Soviets. However, Bush may have in fact believed everything he said, in which case a scientist, with access to the most up-to-date information on military technology, and years of experience in military research, was flat-out wrong about everything he expressed an opinion on.
I think you know what that implies.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
If you watch movies, I'd suggest you go to this website. The reviews are really good, such as this one on Elizabeth: The Golden Age:
technically Protestantism might be a form of religious devotion too. But The
Golden Age carefully expunges anything like actual belief or religiosity from
its minimal portrayal of the faith affiliation of its heroine.
The problem with Elizabeth was that she devised a reasonable, temperate religion intended to please everyone, and killed everyone who was not pleased by it. She was proud as a peacock, excessively secretive (excusable, considering her decidedly tense and dangerous childhood), and somewhat dishonest.
I wonder how the filmmakers would portray the Nine Year's War, in which (to use a similar modern example) Elizabeth played Khrushchev to the O'Donnell and O'Neill clans' Hungarian freedom fighters.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
The SoV2 folks banned me! Apparently I'm a traditionalist extremely-medieval Republican Pharisee (all of which are quite true) so therefore I'm Not Church.
Therefore, I'm putting the "We Aren't Church" banner up to protect all those who Are Church from my site.
Incidentially, the folks at SoV2 don't like o's, i's and e's, preferring to substitute y in their place. Which, naturally, makes them the
Spyryt yf Vatycan II "Cathylyc" Fayth Cymmunyty.
Over and out!
If I can judge from the searches they use to get there, they're looking for:
st. thomas zombie (He's a good friend of mine...when he's not trying to bite my siblings. Zombies these days...)
costco leatherman charge (Umm....)
fu manchu stars (Which reminds me - The Honorable Manchu never did take up my challenge. Chicken!)
same score (Huh?)
islamic caliphate 2040 (Probably not.)
That, folks, is why you really come read Est Puzzlementem. Encourage people interested in the things above to visit this site!
UP DA BLOG!
Friday, October 5, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
(Dedicated to Cathy of Alex, who asked for it, and to a certain church in Waxahachie, TX....)
Starts the Offertory
Join in cacophony
Hastily the senses
Erect their best defenses...
Saints and angels
Stop their meditation
Poor souls quake at
This new irritation:
"Take those things away!
We were just trying to pray!
How are we supposed to raise our hearts to Him...
While list'ning to that Offertory Hymn?"
First off, I finished Moby Dick. 615 pages of stirring action, despondent meditation, fearsome omens, and boring blather about whales. Don't expect a review, other than these two points:
a)It could be abridged, and
b)It's a good book.
Secondly, a long while back Cathy of Alex (as she calls herself) asked for a parody to "Music of the Night." I have finally written it, and it's going up on the next post.
Finally, from the Sci-Fi Catholic...
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you don't let your son watch Star Wars: he becomes a history/literature geek. (Not that I mind not having watched Star Wars...)
Monday, October 1, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
How can you get better than that?
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Alright folks, basic tips:
1. Anything that isn't a zombie is human, and retains human dignity.
2. Zombies are to be killed as aggressors against the innocent, but are not culpable for their actions.
3. Zombies that are no longer animated are to receive the respect due to the bodies of the dead.
4. Recommended weapons: shotguns (loaded with Foster slugs or buckshot), rifles of .308 caliber or larger, pistols of .44 caliber or larger, anti-tank weapons of all sorts, Molotov Cocktails, hand grenades, large cars. Preferred weapon: the FLAMETHROWER!
5. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER SHOULD YOU LET ANYONE GET WITHIN BITING DISTANCE OF YOURSELF. MAKE THIS CLEAR TO ALL FAMILY MEMBERS, PASTORS, COLLEAGUES, ETC., IMMEDIATELY!
Survive - and don't be bitten.
Thus Spaketh Histor at 22:57
"Today, law enforcement in Orem has enshrined itself as the laughing stock of our country by prosecuting a 70-year-old great-grandmother...
...for not watering her lawn."
Drag out the principle of subsidarity, and we discover that whether one waters his lawn or not is a question best answered at the family level, or at most the neighborhood level. Certainly not the city level.
If I had my way, watering lawns would be discouraged in polite society. (I mean watering them with water. Don't be crude.)
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The gist of it: two people meet each other online, complain about their lousy marriages, fall in love, then discover they're married to each other.
The most remarkable quote is:
Adnan, 32, said: "I still find it hard to believe that Sweetie, who wrote such
wonderful things, is actually the same woman I married and who has not said a
nice word to me for years."
Technically speaking, she has been saying these nice words to you for years.
If it weren't for the fact that this all is ending in a divorce, I would find the whole incident extremely funny.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Including a somewhat infamous "American Government" book from A Beka!
It favors Prohibition, something which I do not happen to favor. (I don't even favor this Prohibition.) Here's a choice quote from page 169 of this gem (American Government in Christian Perspective, 2nd edition, 1997, A Beka Books, Pensacola, FL.)
"During the Prohibition Era (1920-1933), God blessed the nation in many ways."
I shall name some things from the Prohibition era.
Winnie the Pooh
the Tommy Gun
Mickey Mouse cartoons
Draw your own conclusions.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Oh, and did I mention I am Poet Laureate of England?
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Here's my fisk of the whole thing.
Globalization is turning out to be both a curse and a blessing:
How ironic that you say on the anniversary of September 11th.
During times of limitless communication, everything seems possible -- but nothing is stable. Whether they want to or not, people are swept away by the current of change.
I learned that when I was 15. Or maybe even earlier.
The search for orientation in this world is immense and many people look to religion for support and answers.
Bah humbug. I knew that when I was seven.
Seriously, the reason folks look to religion for support and answers is that religion is the only thing that gives us answers to certain questions, such as "What must I do to be happy?"
Be it the pope, who is celebrated like a pop star in the West,
BXVI is my homie!
or Islamist groups that are finding more followers in the Arab world,
Come ON! Tell us something about the Islamist groups other than that they're growing - we already knew that!
religion is once again an issue.
This is where knowing history would help.
Religion was an issue during the 1980's (see "Poland," "Iran,") and during the Vietnam War (see "Buddhist-Catholic Relations in Vietnam"),to name only two examples.
It gives them spiritual strength.
Undefined pronouns - "it" may be "religion" or "an issue," and "them" refers to a plural verb approximately four clauses away.
But religion is also a power that feeds conflicts and is abused for political interests.
I can name two other powers that feed conflicts and are abused for political interests. (Hint: one has to do with economics, the other with biology.)
What does this return to religion mean in times of globalization?
It means you won't be able to ignore the fact that the vast majority of the world has religious beliefs.
In features, interviews and analyses, Deutsche Welle tries to find answers in this dossier. Please click on the links below to join the search.
"Deutsche Welle tries to find answers....join the search." Sounds like Deutsche Welle is a character from a police drama.
What (you might wonder) possesses me to post this on the sixth anniversary of September 11th?
Well, because the attacks were motivated by religion (specifically, Islam - although a long-suppressed grudge against the West had a great deal to do with it as well). And, if this article means anything, it means that the editors of DW know little about religion, and therefore can hardly be much help in explaining what we have to do to prevent this from happening again.
At least they didn't ask us to convert to Islam. And they didn't use the word "Inquisition," to the great delight of the Sucrose Inquisition.
Monday, September 10, 2007
"...Osama Bin Laden has urged the American people to embrace Islam in order to stop the war in Iraq."
Well, there's this thing called "democracy," Mr. bin Laden. If we really wanted to leave Iraq, we would have voted for people who promised to get us out.
I shall respond to this with a very Christian deed - namely, eating a sausage.
(From the Shrine of the Holy Whapping.)
Thus Spaketh Histor at 07:16
Sunday, September 9, 2007
except for a rosary, a handkerchief, and some GI Joe guns.
Thus Spaketh Histor at 20:19
Thursday, September 6, 2007
"Part of the trick, too, is recognizing the continuities between pagan and modern habits and learning to call them by their traditional names."
An interesting post on First Things about (as the quote implies) the similarities between modern and pagan culture.
Here's a few modern habits with traditional names:
Consulting a psychic - Consulting the oracle.
Reading one's horoscope - taking the auspices.
Come up with more.
Today I listened to Johnny Cash's song "I Hung My Head." Incredible, tragic song. Not to mention that the accompanying bass is perfectly suited to the lyrics.
I Hung My Head
- sung by Johnny Cash
Early one morning,
With time to kill
I borrowed Jebb's rifle
And sat on a hill
I saw a lone rider
Crossing the plain
I drew a bead on him
To practice my aim
My brother's rifle
Went off in my hand,
A shot rang out
Across the land
The horse, he kept running
The rider was dead
I hung my head
I hung my head
I set off running
To wake from the dream
My brother's rifle
Went into the Sheen
I kept on running
Into the south lands
That's where they found me
My head in my hands
The sheriff he asked me
Why had I run
And then it came to me
Just what I had done
And all for no reason
Just one piece of lead
I hung my head
I hung my head
Here in the court house
The whole town was there
I see the judge
High up in the chair
Explain to the court room
What went through you mind
And we'll ask the jury
What verdict they find
I felt the power
Of death over life
I orphaned his children
I widowed his wife
I begged their forgiveness
I wish I was dead
I hung my head
I hung my head
I hung my head
I hung my head
Early one morning
With time to kill
I see the gallows
Up on a hill
And out in the distance
A trick of the brain
I see a lone rider
Crossing the plain
And he'd come to fetch me
To see what they'd done
And we'd ride together
To kingdom come
I prayed for God's mercy
For soon I'd be dead
I hung my head
I hung my head
I hung my head
I hung my head
Dark and disturbing, but a great song.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Even we are never this hypocritical!
We may be cruel, we may stick squashes into the garbage disposal, we may torment sheep and Monty Python characters, but we've never applied a double standard to the celebration of the Mass!
- The Sucrose Inquisition
I'm kind of amused how some guy in Washington, D.C. is so certain that "The idea that the average African is looking to cause a split over homosexuality is ridiculous." Has he spent a significant amount of time with average Africans?
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I finished 11th grade today!
Now all I have to do is start 12th grade and I'll be done with high school! Once done, I'll do college, and then maybe graduate school, and....oh well. The main thing is that I have finished 11th grade!
This goes out to Seton Home Study School:
Sunday, September 2, 2007
THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI
by Pierre Boulle
(Rating: 4 stars; objectionable material in book: a main character is alcoholic, considerable and diverse violence, censored obscenities and uncensored racial slurs.)
(Important note: the book ends differently from the film The Bridge on the River Kwai.)
“...the combination of individual characteristics which contributed to Colonel Nicholson’s personality (sense of duty, observance of ritual, obsession with discipline, and love of the job well done)...could not be better described than by the single word snobbery.”
The story begins with the British Army Colonel Nicholson’s battalion in captivity in Siam, forced to build a railroad bridge over the Kwai River which separates Malaysia from the rest of Asia. The Japanese need it built within six months so they can continue advancing into the continent. Colonel Saito, the Japanese commander of the project, is overwhelmed by the task. He drinks heavily and abuses the prisoners to relieve his frustration. He thus comes into conflict with Nicholson, who insists upon Saito obeying the Geneva conventions. Nicholson's men take advantage of the conflict to sabotage the construction as much as possible.
Nicholson has no power over Saito, but is a far stronger man. (It's hard to win a battle of wills if you're a alcoholic, I suppose.) Even after vicious beatings, underfeeding, and solitary confinement, Nicholson demands Saito respect his battalion’s rights as POWs. Eventually Saito caves in, and lets Nicholson direct his soldiers’ work. In response, he stops the sabotage and makes his men build the bridge right, making it a masterpiece of its time and place (and more useful to the Japanese – a fact Colonel Nicholson doesn’t mind in the least).
Meanwhile, a three-man sabotage team from the British “Plastics and Destruction Co., Ltd.” (based on "Force 136," the Southeast Asian branch of the British Special Operation Executive) heads out to destroy this bridge. They find the bridge and prepare explosive charges, which they will set off on the day the bridge is opened to traffic. The charges are placed on the piles of the bridge, slightly below water level. The saboteurs put their least experienced member, a young engineer named Joyce, in charge of detonating the main charge. Joyce, who spent his adult life trying to redesign a bridge girder so it would use less metal, loses his mind and becomes obsessed with “DESTRUCTION.”
And then the River Kwai’s water level goes down a couple feet, exposing the charges to view.
MY OPINIONS ON THE BOOK
The Bridge Over the River Kwai is best at suspense. (Which is why my plot synopsis is left incomplete.) The ending of the story is perfectly consistent with the book yet unforeseeable. It is also rather disturbing.
However, the two main characters, Col. Nicholson and Joyce, are a little unbelievable. I doubt there are that many colonels who would switch allegiance, aid in the downfall of their nation’s forces, and deliberately thwart said nation’s military, simply because of their devotion to duty and good workmanship, and I would expect Joyce had something in his life more important than redesigning a bridge girder, something which would have kept him from losing his mind.
Anyway, both Nicholson and Joyce lose their minds, and instead devote themselves to their work – Nicholson to building a good bridge, Joyce to blowing up the bridge. In Joyce’s case it’s a reaction to a feeling of futility (who wants to spend his life redesigning one single kind of bridge girder?) and in Nicholson’s case it’s a desire to make a name for himself. Neither have any other purpose to their work. And therefore they both end badly.
To borrow an idea from EegahInc...
I will end this with a quote from the Catechism.
The sign of man's familiarity with God is that God places him in the garden. There he lives "to till it and keep it". Work is not yet a burden, but rather the collaboration of man and woman with God in perfecting the visible creation.
Follow that and you won't suffer Nicholson's fate. Or Joyce's.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Saturday: H.L. Crawdad will (finally) give that essay on The Bridge over the River Kwai. (Yes, it's another of those whoops-I-way-missed-my-deadline essays!)
After that: A Bright Shining Lie, by Neil Sheehan. Exclusive review!
And after that....(drum roll)
Heart of Darkness!
Of course, I'm not sure what it's about yet, but....
Sunday, July 29, 2007
"Pyscotic Reaction," by the band Count Five.
It's odd. These guys are wearing clothes I usually reserve for national holidays, weddings, and funerals - to sing rock music.
For the curious, "Pyschotic Reaction" seems to have been the only hit this band had. It's bad luck to have a band member named Mouse, I suppose.
Or SUBTLY SATIRICAL COMMENT UPON AMERICAN CULINARY VALUES?
For those interested, this was sung at the summer program I went to.
The Sucrose Inquisition is inquiring into the identity of the singer, the squash, and the cheeseburger. This video somehow awakened their latent suspicion.
Which Saint Are You?
Can't get any better than that!
Dare you, Raulito!
UPDATE: HE DID IT! AND HE DID GET ST. JOAN OF ARC! AAAAAGH!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
So now you'll know what to do.
On a related note, here are some important quotations from my summer trip:
"Can I have your earring again?"
"Can a dog be happy?"
"I know that I do not know that I know that I don't know."
(Two of these originated with your good author. Guess which one didn't.)
Monday, July 23, 2007
In the sixth century, Justinian accomplished the brief recovery of the empire’s old territory in the east, in Africa, and in the west. His victories, however, were hard won over the course of decades, and they came at a great cost in human life, not to mention taxation. Paradoxically, Justinian’s military successes probably contributed to the empire’s subsequent decline. The conquered lands were hardly secure, and many were lost in the years after his death. During his reign there was a great flowering of Byzantine culture, whose monuments remain in Istanbul (e.g., Hagia Sophia) and Ravenna. His reconstitution of Roman law, the so-called Justinian Code, is still the basis of civil law in some modern states. Justinian is venerated as a saint in the Orthodox Church.
Justinian was okay, but his wife - Theodora - had, ahem, religious problems: she conspired to make the infamous Liberius pope so he could teach Monophysitism. He didn't.
(Theodora was, by all accounts, a petite woman. A very bad sign.)
I'd rather be the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. Far cooler guy.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I'm having fun this summer, doing a traditional thing - summer school!
Can't go into detail, but this should give you an idea:
An exaggeration, of course...
UPDATE: I had to remove the original clip because of language, so I posted this one. Unfortunately, it's a commercial for a video game. Fortunately, it reflects my experience more accurately.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
...with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Since I won't be posting tomorrow, I figured I mind as well put this up. I was about to give a little dissertation on patriotism, but lo and behold! the Catechism of the Catholic Church reared its head.
Read the whole article - it places patriotism in its larger context, namely in the Fourth Commandment. After all, it is accurate to call our country "fatherland," even when describing the country in feminine terms.
ARTICLE 4 - THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT
We should sing patriotic songs tomorrow in church.
And speaking of which, I never thought of "America the Beautiful" as being inappropriate for church. But a "Catholic Anarchist" thinks of it as being so. Wonder why?
H.L. believes we should sing this, despite my crack that he apparently lives in 1969. (He's quite the fortunate son himself, as am I.)
Thus Spaketh Histor at 18:13
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Apparently families are not as great an environmental strain as some claim they are.
Of course, in 15 or 20 years they will be using more energy, but maybe some of the Global Nativists will have died off by then.
Thus Spaketh Histor at 19:22
Thursday, June 28, 2007
"The Bridge over the River Kwai" shall be reviewed in a few days. Stay tuned.
The main conflict does not center on race.
Someone gets stabbed to death.
One of the main characters is an engineer; he worked at reducing the weight of a certain sort of steel girder.
Plastic explosive is a major plot device.
Meanwhile, here's what H.L. and Histor are listening to. (Featuring Grizzly Adams on washboard!)
Thus Spaketh Histor at 19:54
I love coffee. So, thank God, did Pope Clement VIII.
Speaking of which, I read that Sufi mystics would try to get high on coffee. The more fool them - I know what happens when you drink too much coffee, and it's not pleasant, let alone desirable.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I am willing to use any excuse to load myself with champagne.
Seriously, I wonder (a) if my rather cynical interpretation of the situation has been disproved by this, or (b)whether this means some high-profile schismatics are about to return to the Church or yield a point to the Magisterium.
I have only been to one Tridentine Mass in my life, coincidentially the wedding mass of the Former Babysitter. I have but one complaint - it was hard to hear the priest even when he was speaking out loud.
I kind of like the idea of Novus Ordo for ordinary Masses and Tridentine for extraordinary. Especially if (a)they use 20 or 30 servers who belt out the responses and (b)lots of incense.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Guess what I was listening to as I wrote on the Monroe Doctrine and the causes of the Civil War?
(sung by Edwin Starr)
what is it good for?
Say it again
'Cos it means destruction
Of innocent lives
War means tears
To thousands of mothers how
When their sons go off to fight
And lose their lives
It ain't nothing but a heartbreak
Friend only to the undertaker
It's an enemy of all mankind
the thought of war blows my mind
war has caused unrest within the younger generation (what a sentence for a pop song!)
WHO WANTS TO DIE?
It ain't nothing but a heartbreaker
it got one friend that's the undertaker
War has shattered
Many young men's dreams
made him disabled, bitter, and mean
life is much too short and precious
to spend fighting wars these days
war can't give life, it can only take it away
It ain't nothing but a heartbreaker
Friend only to the undertaker
We've got no place for it today (and still it persists....)
They say we must fight to keep our freedom
But Lord knows there's just got to be a better way
War-Good God, yall
Give it to me, yeah
What is it good for?
(Notes: I really liked the lead-in drum roll! More seriously, this songs, although very good in what it's against, has nothing about what it's for. That's where it messes up. I believe that all organizations based on opposition will fail eventually.)
I shall respond.
Five favorite Latin Hymns:
- Adoro te Devote
- Alma Redemptoris Mater
- Salve Regina
- Tantum Ergo
- Pange Lingua (yes, it's cheating....)
Five favorite English hymns:
("In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" is a hymn, right? Just kidding...)
- Amazing Grace
- Hail, Holy Queen
- Ye Sons and Daughters
- Table of Plenty (easy to parody)
- One Bread, One Body (same as above)
Can't think of anyone to tag. Maybe I should go to bed.
Author: Frank Herbert
A science-fiction novel; first published in 1965.
(Rating: 5 Stars; objectionable material in book: use of drugs, sexual themes including homosexuality, extensive violence, pyschology that conflicts with Catholic teaching)
It's Muhammad with laser guns! Seriously, even I couldn't escape the conclusion that Dune is based upon the emergence of Islam. However, instead of the Angel Gabriel, however, a series of supernatural coincidences, skillfully-planned military campaigns, and daring deeds makes the son of a duke, Paul Atriedes, leader of a fierce, tough band of desert men, the Fremen, sworn to spread their religion across the galaxy and turn mankind upside down (or spill its collective guts). The story is enhanced by lots of drug abuse and combat.
CHATTERING ABOUT THE BOOK
A little detail on Frank Herbert. He published this book in 1963, about the time LSD and similar hallucinogens were discovered and began to be produced. He also used them.
This accounts for the major role that "melange" and various other drugs have in the story. The purpose of these drugs is to get into the subconscious, non-rational core of mankind; Paul's success in doing so gives him the power to see into the future, although not completely.
Paul, as you may have guessed, is not a very pious sort. He is driven by a "terrible purpose" of unknown origin, not by anything resembling love of God. Yet this "terrible purpose" seems to have godlike control over the events of this world; past, present, and future. Over the course of the book, it becomes obvious that most of the major characters were unconsciously preparing for the "messiah." Despite this unseen influence, Paul gets to choose what he does; up to the very end he knows he can be killed and defeated. Free will, of course, is necessary in any story, especially fantasies like Dune; without free will, most stories would be dull as instruction manuals.
One thing that impressed me about Dune was its "world-building." It may seem unbelievable, but swords and laser guns coexist in Dune. Herbert pulls this off by inventing "shields," a kind of force-field that, when shot with a laser, destroys both the shield-wearer and the laser-wielder in a nuclear reaction. The shields only let slow-moving substances pass through; it is therefore necessary to gradually pass a blade through this invisible wall to kill your enemy. This explanation also gives Herbert an opportunity to describe some very interesting sword fights.
With all the other cool gadgets and talents featured in the book, Herbert gives a more-or-less believable explanation, and remains consistent. The organizations of Dune, such as the feudal government and the Bene Genesserit (an all-female combination of the KGB, a pyschological institute, and an order of nuns) are also developed well.
(A parenthesis: Unlike a certain, larger fantasy, known for its huge appendices, Dune has only 40 pages of explanatory material at the back; however, only the glossary is actually necessary for enjoying the book. In fairness, the unnamed fantasy doesn't require you to read the appendices either. I strongly recommend reading the glossary first, referring to it when necessary, then reading the other appendices once you feel like it.)
However, I have to say my favorite part of Dune is the villain, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. A very fat, disturbingly homosexual, subtly wise, and Machiavellian man, the Baron is a perfect embodiment of evil, and an interesting character to boot. His interactions with his two nephews and advisors are tense and disturbingly revealing of the Baron's true character. Best of all, he suffers a grimly humorous demise, which I naturally will not spoil by describing.
Unfortunately, the dialogue - especially that of the 'good' characters - tends to have annoying pyschological talk, necessary to the plot but grating to the mind. Herbert also feels the need to add some damned awful free verse to the book - again, the verse makes sense in the plot line but rubs me the wrong way.
(Another parenthesis: Herbert refers to a drug-music combination called "semuta," a sort of super-sedative that creates "sustained ecstasy." This drug-music idea, oddly enough, always reminds me of Jefferson Airplane.)
It's a weird book in many ways, and has reams of morally repugnant events scattered throughout. However, the plot is both exciting and believable, and the main antagonist is an especially interesting character, thus making Dune a very enjoyable book. If you are into science fiction or like to read long fantasies, I definitely recommend Dune.
H. L. Crawdad is a freelance columnist whose articles have appeared in the Mobile Register, the Houston Chronicle, The San Antonio-Express-News and other newspapers throughout the Southern US. He has 1 wife and approximately 59 children, all of whom have moved out. In May of 2007, he received the Mudball Award, given by the Library of Congress to honor talent among crustacean writers, for his short story "The Shell of an Idea." This essay was never before published, and is copyrighted ©2007, H. L. Crawdad & Works.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Remember that a CERTAIN PERSON once said he would review Dune, The Bridge over the River Kwai, and Heart of Darkness for your enjoyment and enlightenment? Well, that guy hasn't done it, so I'll do it. It's about time, you know. Dune is already coming down the chute, and with luck the other two will come down soon.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
I feel like invading the whole Middle East.
More practically, it might not hurt to offer refugee visas to any Iraqi Christians who might want it - America is a 99 percent terrorist-free nation.
but first a recap.
I spent the whole of last week doing school. Well, except for Friday. That day, the Former Babysitter got married, and I was invited. It was a good wedding, the groom was a good man, and there was plenty of dancing at the reception afterwards.
Anyhow, the explanation. I'm behind in school. Way behind in school. Therefore, I'm only going to post on weekends, and then only if I can. It's all a matter of prioritizing (i.e. deciding what will help me make money in the long run; blogging is more a game than a profession.
Another thing I have to do is read some of the books that actually are on my "To Read" list at the side. I'll hopefully get some of those read now.
This state of affairs shall last until July 8th, when a cataclysmic change in my lifestyle shall (temporarily) occur. A change which, hopefully, will increase the amount of time I have for blogging.
Saturday, June 9, 2007
I got this "Vietnam Special Forces Weapons Set" on Friday. From top to bottom: 2 'Claymore' antipersonnel mines, a M16/M203 grenade launcher combination; a Remington 870 shotgun; an AK47; a machete; an M79 grenade launcher; a silenced M1911; an Uzi submachine gun; four 'baseball' grenades; two strips of shotgun shells.
Below, Pfc "Stonyface" Roberts poses with them.
Friday, June 8, 2007
''Bush is trying now to fool Pope Benedict XVI,'' Castro wrote. He predicted that during his visit to the Vatican this week Bush would tell the pontiff, ''The Iraq war doesn't exist, it hasn't cost a cent, there's not a single drop of blood. And hundreds of thousands of innocent people have not died in a shameful exchange for petroleum and gas.''
Yeah. Like Benedict would believe that. Like Bush would think it worth his while.
A 'modern' country elects a guy who thinks a mammoth nuclear reaction is God.
What happens when the Sun stops reacting? Will there be no God?
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Excerpt from Act II, A Man for All Seasons.
CROMWELL: We'll do whatever's necessary. The King's a man of
conscience...if the King destroys a man, that's proof to the King that it must
have been a bad man, the kind of man a man of conscience ought to
The Vatican gets solar power.
Of course, it's probably motivated by strictly economic motives. With which I have no problem. I'd prefer less of my donations to the Vatican to go to electric bills and more to go to worthwhile projects like feeding the poor and commissioning some decent musicians for new hymnals.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Coffee, in my opinion, should have a maximum of three ingredients: coffee, sugar, and cream. Yet I'd pay extra on coffee to get Internet access, so you know where I stand on this particular subject.
I don't live in South Dallas, if you're wondering.
"When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants 28 to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, 'They will respect my son.' "
Whether or not your bishop and priests are intelligent, prudent, or holy, you have to respect them. No garden-hosing, no sticking uncalled-for statues on the altar, and no misuse of the Eucharist - it's just not moral.
Maybe I'm carrying my "uncanny valley" hysteria to an extreme.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Anyone who has some bug spray they haven't any use for?
Or something like that.
You're a Gila Monster!
While you like to wear bright and discordant clothing to warn people
that you can be dangerous when provoked, most people merely take it to mean you have
terrible fashion sense. You try not to care what they think, as you'd rather be on
your own, looking around at bugs and rodents. Yes, you're a bit eccentric, though you
really resent some of the names you've come to be known by. While many folks don't
look for you at all, kids expect to see you at the airport.
Take the Animal Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
Hat tip: Raulito.
You must admit, Raulito, that reptiles are dead sexy.
If you want to study childhood, examine a child. Don't program a robot to mimic a child - it will invariably influence your research, and badly.
Personally, I'd hate to spend an hour in the same room as that....robot.
In fairness, idiot logos probably got their start over here in the USA.
Yet, HOW COULD SOMEBODY INCORPORATE HEAVILY STYLIZED MAPS OF VIETNAM AND AUSTRALIA INTO AN OLYMPICS LOGO - AND TAKE IT SERIOUSLY??????!???!!!!!
Hat tip to Mr. Milne (snicker).
And happy Queen's Birthday/Bank Holiday to you English folks!
When I wasn't studying for the SAT, guess what I was doing...;)
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Think, "Frank Poole."
"...seemingly bottomless pit in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, known to be at
least 925 feet deep..."
Why is "the Mexican state of Tamaulipas" in the middle of the sea, anyway? Do they have really bad government surveyors, maybe?
"...Europa, a moon of Jupiter thought to contain liquid water beneath miles of
ice — and possibly complex forms of life..."
Obviously, if there are aliens beneath the ice, they were put there so we could find them, maybe bring them home and breed them as pets or livestock. And then have them attack us in a postapocalyptic world - oh, never mind.
Read more here.
It's incredible how positive they make eight place sound. Then again, these folks invented the phrase "advancing in a retrograde motion," so I'm not surprised.
In fairness, their job is not to win races, so I shouldn't be mean to them.
Friday, May 11, 2007
The Catholic presence in America was negligible until 1830. Yet we have a half-dozen saints.
Brazil was majority-Catholic since 1700 or thereabouts....and it's only had its first saint canonized.
I ascribe it to geography. The nearer you are to Rome, the more likely you are to be canonized, and Brazil is further from Rome than the USA is, at least in practice (easier to go through the North Atlantic than the doldrums, even now.)
Seriously, technology shouldn't be all work and no play.
I personally prefer flesh-and-blood dogs, though.
I guess the others were just in for the ride?
Seriously, the NYT mind as well hear this: in a totally unfamiliar culture half a planet away, many Muslims find the teaching that Christian society must die to be an excellent application of Islam. Perhaps they're wrong to think so, but WHO CARES? They're our enemies by choice.
And: who would say "Religion guided many Inquisitors in persecution of Spanish conversos plot?"
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Today (da-da-DUM!) I had to study the history of Texas. (The lesson plan recommends, of all things, The Alamo with John Wayne as an "accurate depiction" of its namesake. Maybe I should rent it.)
Oddly, the text mentioned a story about Sam Houston I had never heard before. After San Jacinto, Santa Anna originally refused to sign a document acknowledging Texas as an independent republic. Apparently Houston told Santa Anna:
"General, in one minute, either your signature or your brains will be on this
Apparently, Houston made him an offer an offer he couldn't refuse.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
At the Yuma Test Grounds in Arizona, the autonomous robot, 5 feet long and
modeled on a stick-insect, strutted out for a live-fire test and worked
beautifully, he says. Every time it found a mine, blew it up and lost a limb, it
picked itself up and readjusted to move forward on its remaining legs,
continuing to clear a path through the minefield. Finally it was down to one
leg. Still, it pulled itself forward. Tilden was ecstatic. The machine was
working splendidly. The human in command of the exercise, however -- an Army
colonel -- blew a fuse. The colonel ordered the test stopped.
Why? asked Tilden. What's wrong?
The colonel just could not stand the pathos of watching the burned, scarred and crippled machine drag itself forward on its last leg.
This test, he charged, was inhumane.
The emotional relationship of man and robot is, I think, rooted in a deep-seated tendency to see personality in non-personal things - trees, wind, streams, etc.
As long as robots aren't considered as human, to be pampered - or tortured - at will, I'm fine.
Concerning the Global Hawk remarks in the article.....
Meet Colette and Grumpy Jim.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Fortunately, they are this stuck-up.
I'm waiting for someone to look at the Middle East and decide "Hey, when do we get to stop recieving attacks from the Imperialist/Jewish/Crusader forces and maybe conquer something?"
It will be a while, but eventually it will come, I am certain...
...as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a big car and failing to reuse plastic bags, says a report to be published today by a green think tank."
Notice the mention of cars.
I have noticed that in comic strips, Web surveys, and other such outlets, environmental "misdemeanors" are standard examples of vice. This bothers me, not for scientific reasons.
Namely, it's the tendency to make unimportant choices equal to important choices. Driving a large car may bring the earth to destruction. Evil. Abandoning your wife and children so you can drive a small car - ah, not too bad, most folks do it, it's understandable, yadayadayada...
Personally, I view environmentalists of this streak as global nativists. In other words, they percieve increased population primarily as a threat to their pampered way of life (and if American/European life isn't pampered, you may refer to me as Molly henceforth). Therefore, they try and stop population growth in order to keep a status quo, environmentally and otherwise.
The problem is, population growth is objectively good. Let nobody tell you different. It is only a problem when population grows faster than food/work supply. And in that case, the problem is not with the population but with the lack of provenance for them.
And one quote, with my rebuttal:
"The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet
would be to have one less child."
I reply: Curse the planet, spare the child.
Of course, this reminds me of military historian John Keegan's observation that war is primarily a male activity.
Interestingly enough, he describes getting lost as a learning opportunity.
As Screwtape (and others) said long ago, by letting someone fail, you can open them to further improvement.
Dad had applied cartography in mind. Screwtape was thinking of morality. And I just want to remember all the exits.
A note from the same trip: Dad had Glenn Miller music playing, and mentioned that it was probably the last music many World War II soldiers heard before their deaths.
I responded that they had it better than soldiers in Vietnam.
For the uninitiated, Jeeves is the prototype of English butlers in literature. The main character of many P.G. Wodehouse novels, Jeeves serves Bertie Wooster, a featherbrained young squire whose life is filled by periodic social meddling.
The stories are good. Try them.
I say this because the quote in the Roman Sacristan's post sounds very Jeeves-like.
*Two points: some things are meant to be impressive (like Saturn's rings, for instance), and not being impressed by them shows a lack of sensitivity (although that's not a sin); and supernature (i.e. angels, God) are impressive by being superior in nature, whether we are impressed or not.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Put another way, The Brain is yet NEARER to taking over the world!
H. John Poole.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, Jihadists - primarily at the behest of Iran, although others are in the game as well - are starting a long, drawn-out campaign to regain control of these areas in the name of Allah. By using cheap, marginally trained suicide fighters, they save the lives of skilled instructors/commanders; by targeting the local government, they render America and its plans for the two nations unpopular; by avoiding the full impact of American firepower, they give the illusion of defeat when they really have won.
Or so H. John Poole claimed in 2005, when this book was published. I would say most of his claims seem to have been true, going on my newspaper-based knowledge of the subject. He does support his positions - mainly by quoting news articles and reports on Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the thesis of his book - that the U.S. should retrain its soldiers to fight primarily "guerilla" wars - is probably most important.
Since World War II, the U.S. has become master of "conventional" warfare, where two clearly defined armies get together and pound each other to pieces. As a result, it developed most of its technology to deal with tanks, large masses of soldiers, and aircraft (particularly that of the Soviet Union). However, most of its enemies (the ones it has fought actual battles against) fight "unconventional" warfare. By having a loosely organized military network; using lots of ambushes, infiltration of enemy camps, and attacks with explosives; and keeping as similar as possible to civilians; they often break the laws of war but usually win. Usually what happens is that the side with the bigger guns, bombs, and tanks loses, simply because they couldn't convince the enemy to stop fighting.
The main problems with "unconventional" warfare is that it's encourages chaos and is very gory for the winning side. Thus, it's usually used by people without political authority (the Viet Cong, for instance) and by people with some ideology judged more important than life itself (Communism is a good example). The main advantage is that it's cheap - bombs and RPGs are far cheaper than the aircraft and tanks they destroy.
On one hand, I expect this form of war to go away, since sooner or later its practicioners will want to conquer something instead of 'liberate' themselves from attacks they couldn't stop. On the other hand, why do something complex and expensive when everyone already knows how to defeat it?
Of course, this leaves the question about the U.S. armed forces unanswered. I would say "yes, we should modify our tactics for small wars, like the one in Iraq." After all, we aren't at present fighting anyone near our class, and if they did, they would be too afraid of our using nukes to get much of anywhere.
Did I mention that this book will bore the skull off anyone who isn't really into military science, like me?
Overall score: 4 Stars (I like it, but doubt anyone else will)
Nick Milne asks: why are religious debates always "Pinky Vs. The Brain" - like matchups?
Note one key line in his post:
"The trend in question is that of media institutions sponsoring "debates" on religious matters..."
Note the "media." It is pretty well-known that newsmen tend to be leftist, as do atheists. It is also well-known that human nature makes us slant the field - as far as possible - in favor of our side. And if only one group is sponsoring a debate, they can easily invite only those whom they expect will work well. Not very virtuous, but it happens.
Then again, most influential religious personages in America just aren't all that smart to begin with. Primarily because they usually are 'better living through theological fast food' types. Not to say that all American religious leaders are dumb, or that all the dumb ones are Protestants. But American Protestantism isn't known for encouraging heavy reliance on reason. Catholicism, I would say, is a better choice for the born sophist (me!) to protect him from himself.
This is where I'm glad of our current Pope - theology is not an easy intellectual pursuit, even if you don't believe it, and his ponderings are definitely high-grade. Closer to home, I'm not so confident. I can't name a bishop with the rhetorical smarts to out-talk Hitchens.
But I hope those bishops use the excuse: "Oh, I'd happily debate, but I'm too busy doing God's work and keeping my diocese from going belly-up."
As to the existence of God.........well, Voltaire was right when he said we'd have to invent a God if He didn't exist. Our nature is to believe in God - at least some overarching authority to which all men (theoretically) must yield, which dominates the universe - and the universality of religion proves it (almost the whole world's population believes in a God, and intellectuals are generally split on this). The only real question is to find what sort of God exists, and what He wants. That, at least, is my theory.
As an aside, if I thought God didn't exist, life would be hell within my neighborhood (until I got shot, that is). Hitchens is probably a more virtuous man than I, seeing as he's not been shot yet.
Saturday, May 5, 2007
Feeding time for the kittens, none of whose names I know.