US Bank and “Have a Blessed Day”

The Anchoress considers the intersection between Christianity and business courtesy, with reference to the US Bank lawsuit about “Have a blessed day.”

In medieval Ireland, it was an offense punished by a fine if any craftsman or -woman did not pray for a blessing from God for the completed work. The first person who saw the work was also expected to bless it.

(Possibly because it was then suspected that one might have cursed it. Or possibly because a lot of solemn Irish imprecatory cursing happened in the workplace, and one needed to offset that.)

Moving aside the point, it turns out that there’s another brehon law/mystery series out there besides Peter Tremayne’s early early medieval Sister Fidelma; this one is set in the 16th century in the twilight of the Gaelic law system. Mara, Brehon of the Burren stars in a series of over ten books. The first book, My Lady Judge, is $2.99 on the Kindle.

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I Was Not Told There Would Be a Test

Our dear St. Beatus of Liebana, who has hitherto been quoting mostly the Fathers and the Scriptures, has apparently decided to branch out more in his reading as he approaches the last fourth of his Commentary on the Apocalypse.

He is throwing in the odd quote from Virgil and Seneca. Quotes that nooooooobody else caught, and which I am only catching because you look at them, and you look where you’ve marked the quotes with colored marker and where the page is unmarked, and you see there are unmarked bits that look like quotes, and you run them through the search engine and they are.

He is also cramming more subtle Bible quotes into his sentences, and the critical editions haven’t been catching that, either.

It is very nifty, but it is also very scary to be the only one noticing this stuff. And what if he’s quoting lost sources? There are some bits that definitely seem like quotes but don’t produce any search results.

On the bright side, computational linguistic analysis of texts is getting more sophisticated.

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Sooooo Close to Finishing Book 3 of Beatus

And if it weren’t for all those meddlesome quotes, I’d be done now!

Heh, actually I don’t mind, as finding lost quotes makes me feel useful and clever. Or at least good at bending search engines to my will. :)

On the first-pass translation side, I’m up to Book 8. So you can see that editing doesn’t go superspeed around here.

Also, I made a nice pork loin yesterday. I roasted it in my crockpot with Korean bulgogi sauce, and so it is sweet and very spicy! I also made rice to go with it this week, and then used up the extra sauce in the crockpot on some veggies. So I am feeling very efficient!

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Award-Winning Monster

1. It was revealed the other day that Marion Zimmer Bradley was not just an enabler of Walter Breen, her second husband the pedophile, but that she was a pedophile herself. She apparently raped children of both sexes, as did her husband. Her daughter also revealed that Bradley occasionally beat her up, partially drowned her, choked her, etc., as well as raping her and her brothers, foster-children, child visitors, etc. So basically a cozy little Berkeley house full of rape and torture. Since a fair number of Bradley’s friends were in and out of the house at all hours, one can doubt that they all knew nothing about it, although there was also a lot of drug use, which was awfully convenient. Here’s what was known when Breen was finally sent to prison, from the case records.

But both Breen and Bradley are dead, and only one of them died in prison; and frankly, that’s lucky for them because they should have been strung up. There aren’t that many husband and wife rape teams out there, but it does happen every so often. Still, this is a case for the true crime books. An extremely creepy case.

2. This week, there was placed on the Internet the sf-history-famous but never-before-available 1963 letter explaining why some of Berkeley fandom wanted Bradley’s husband out of local fandom, before she even married him (and brought her twelve-year-old son along as a handy victim). It revealed that heck yeah, there was plenty known against Breen in 1963, and certainly enough to call the cops on him. Furthermore, it revealed that among a wide variety of well-known fans of the day who were sent the letter, none of them called the cops, although they did sign off on the agreement to ban Breen from a big convention. Other signatories from across the country may or may not have known the extent of what was known against him. I knew a couple of them in their later years, and I hope to hell they didn’t know it all, because it sucks away a lot of my respect for them if they did.

As a gutpunch, I knew (as an acquaintance) at least one of the people who received the original letter. He is dead now, which is a good thing, because what kind of freaking spineless child-sacrificing moron DOESN’T CALL THE COPS!??

Fandom has not served its children well. There is no way to make this crap up to the victims, except perhaps by ceasing to obscure the matter.

3. My mom says there was a story about this on the national news this morning, during one of the morning shows, but apparently the story is invisible to search engines. Google News only shows news stories about it in Italian. Somebody must have one heck of a lawyer.

4. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley is routinely assigned in classes. Do not do this.

5. A few of the authors who were published in Bradley anthologies have recently announced that they have donated the amount of their earnings to charities that aid victims of child rape. This seems like a good idea.

Janni Lee Simner

(Tiny aside:

(For years, there’s been a story going around about “a fan” who sued Bradley, or who cruelly dared to negotiate with Bradley, when Bradley wanted to use big chunks of the fan’s invented fanfic backstory for a new Darkover novel. It turns out that “a fan” was Jean Lamb, who was already a published fiction and non-fiction writer at the time, and who just asked her agent to iron out some clear terms. (It was Bradley who freaked out. As you would expect from a violent pedophile, she had pretty serious control issues, and this was apparently well-known among people who knew her personally.) So basically, Bradley told a lot of self-serving lies even in business matters, and a lot of her fans were willing to go along with her view of things, even in business matters.)

6. Sales of Bradley books do not benefit any of the Bradley children. All royalties go to a trust which benefits Elisabeth Waters, who was Bradley’s live-in secretary/other. She knew a great deal about all this crap, judging by her deposition. So yeah, probably best not to fund her.

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True Adventure

I just ran across this PDF file about a Korean missionary sister who passed away a few years back. It’s a remarkable story of guts, Korean family values, forgiveness of enemies, and living through some of the worst parts of history without whining or letting fear paralyze you.

Go meet Sr. Juliana Che!

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Awards, and Betraying SF’s Inner Reader

“This is YOUR magazine. Only by knowing what kind of stories you like can we continue to please you. Fill out this coupon or copy it on a sheet of paper and mail it to AMAZING STORIES, 53 Park Place, New York City.”

– Readers’ Vote of Preference ballot, Amazing Stories, Vol. 1 No. 7, October 1926

From the letter column “Discussions,” Amazing Stories, Vol. 1 No. 10, January 1927:

“Some time ago I read one of your issues and was greatly surprised to find such reading matter as is published in your magazine. Mr. Jules Verne’s story was one of the best. He is a very promising writer. You also have several other good stories in the October issue.”

– E. H., Indianapolis, Ind.
[Verne had been dead for many years, so the editor printed this as inadvertently funny but suppressed the reader name.]

“”I have always been an avid reader of pseudo-scientific stories, or, as you term them, scientifiction — a very good descriptive word, by the way, — and I have waited for years for something like this to appear.

“One gets loaded up on the western tales, and silly twaddle, as typified by the “sex” magazines; and a magazine such as AMAZING STORIES, with the unique, the bizarre — is a relief.

“I have, however, a fault to find with AMAZING STORIES. I can’t understand why you reprint any of the Verne stories. I have, for one, never liked them. They are dry, and to my mind, poorly written.

“The “Hackensaw” stories were ordinary, as were the “Fosdick” tales. I didn’t care for them, personally, nor for Poe’s stories.

“”The Moon Hoax” was — rotten! It does not belong in your magazine, if you intend to live up to “Scientifiction.”

“Stories by England, Wells, Serviss, by writers who can, and do, combine scientific facts and well-written fiction into an interesting and gripping tale, are what I want, and it is, I understand, your aim to give us that. If you do this, there is no reason why circulation will not increase to warrant the issue twice a month….”

– Harry V. Spurling, Elgin, Ill.

“….many of your authors are very amateurish in the use of words, and short on facts, as in the case of Mr. Windsor in “Station X.” … If my criticism seems harsh, forgive it on the grounds that I am interested in the welfare of AMAZING STORIES, and hope to see them truly great, and not in the class of cheap fiction.”

– Prof. Jack E. Edwards, San Francisco, Calif.

The whole reason sf has awards is that the sf magazines used to encourage reader comment and criticism on their choice of stories. The simple voting coupon quickly was overtaken by letter columns full of “letters of comment” including addresses, which then became fandom’s first method of finding friends who shared an interest in “scientifiction.” Many magazines (and later, fanzines) pooled the votes for the year and announced which stories were the year’s or the issue’s reader favorites. All the sf awards grew out of this.

The criteria for these awards were all about reader interest and enjoyment, not about the names on the masthead, or their sex and ethnicity.

From the letter column “Discussions,” Amazing Stories, Vol. 8, No. 12, April 1934:

“I have just finished reading “The Second Deluge” published in your last Quarterly issue of your superb magazine, and I can’t refrain myself from instantly writing to you, before I read the whole magazine.

“This story, to my liking, is the best I ever read of fiction in either English or Spanish languages. I would like to get acquainted with more of Prof. Garrett P. Serviss’ productions…

“The Second Deluge” is worth the money I paid for it fifty times over, and the entertainment I had from its reading is unequaled, although I had to stay up late at nights, unwilling to discontinue….”

– Rafael Villegas, P. O. Box 1419, San Jose, Costa Rica, C. A.

“I must tell you that I find Discussions so very interesting that it is the first thing I turn to when reading the magazine. It is almost like a story, showing us, who can read between the lines, the psychology of the people who write therein.

“…No matter how absorbing planetary stories may be, they do get boring when there are too many. Thus, it is not asking too much to give us psychology readers “a break” and print more stories like the “Pellucid Horror,” “Master of Dreams,” and the “Lost Language.”

– Miss Rea Ash, 1001 East 167th Street, New York City, N. Y.

“….As for the stories, well I’m not throwing any bricks because almost all of the stories you have published so far, have been in my estimation excellent, each in its own way. Although the kinds which I prefer above all are the ones dealing with time-space traveling, the past or future and about the different planets of the universe.

“And now, Mr. Editor, I’d like a word or two with some of our readers. I wish many of your who throw bricks so lavishly at some poor author would stop to think that even though he can’t please everybody, after all he is only human, and a flower or two and some words of encouragement would do far more good than a ton of bricks….”

– Miss E. M. C. Poppe, Box 727, W. Brownsville, Pa.

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Kitten Rescued from Tornado Debris by Meteorologist

When you get the meteorologist out of the studio and make him do location shots, sometimes he notices things that other newspeople don’t.

This one had a nose for mews.

Also, this tornado gives new meaning to “airmail.”

The Cedarville tornado left a track five miles long; but it was almost entirely through farmland, and no crop damage was done because the farmers haven’t started planting yet. The Dobbins family lost their house and barn, and another family lost a house; but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.

Cedarville is a very rural area except for a small old evangelical Protestant religious college. South Charleston (the town where the airmail landed) is also pretty darned rural, albeit it has more Catholic people. They had their own serious tornado at one point.

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