Monthly Archives: August 2010

Bread Alcohol Levels

Uh oh. It turns out that tiny amounts of ethanol produced by bread yeast will register on a breathalyzer as alcohol. So if you have a tiny drink and a huge amount of bread and butter, maybe you have a problem.

It also turns out that you really don’t want to feed large quantities of active dough and sourdough to dogs who are sensitive to ethanol, because they can get alcohol poisoning! Well… there’s a reason the Sumerian bread goddess also was worshipped as the inventor of beer, but this is bizarre all the same.

Via Instapundit.

There’s also a problem with breathalyzer tests if you’ve been around gasoline and absorbed it through your skin, if you’re diabetic, or if you’ve been fasting or dieting enough to produce bad acetone breath.

But even better, a person with a yeast infection or other conditions can find himself suffering from “auto brewery syndrome”, making him legally drunk without ever taking a drink at all!

DUI Blog also has an interesting post on the string of implications that California prosecutors want to use to prove a DUI-related death is a murder, instead of being a traditional “doing stupid things you shouldn’t” type of manslaughter. Which seems a bit much, given that California isn’t lacking in murder-type murders.

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RIP, Jack Horkheimer

Jack Horkheimer, who kept many people informed on current sky events with his extremely short “Star Hustler” and “Star Gazer” TV segments, died on Friday at the age of 72, according to the magazine Sky and Telescope. (Via Slashdot.)

Episode 1708, his last, will air on the first of September and feature the Summer Triangle. The next month of shows will be filmed by another staffer from the Miami planetarium he ran; what happens after that is up in the air.

Mr. Horkheimer will be missed. I hope his show, and his impact on astronomy education, will continue. One commenter on Slashdot recalled:

Back in the mid-80s our local PBS affiliate ran it before signing off during the weekends. It was one of the few things that made any childhood fear of the dark immediately dissipate. I’m not sure if it was because he was so enthusiastic or the sweet, gentle music or a presentation that was instantly accessible and all inclusive.

I can remember one night he was talking about Venus and that you could see it with a pair of binoculars and if you didn’t have any, just use a pair of toilet paper tubes. I rushed to the bathroom, ripped two tubes out, dashed to the yard and *GASP* saw it! It was one of those moments that I’ll never forget. Thanks, Jack.

That is what education is all about: showing that the world is comprehensible, pointing out its wonders, telling you how to see them for yourself, and helping you to remember experience and incorporate it into your mind.

There is a reason why Martianus Capella, and the medieval universities, named astronomy one of the Seven Liberal Arts, which were also the seven key prerequisites to studying theology and the Bible. As St. Gregory Thaumaturgus described the practice in his panegyric farewell speech for his teacher, Origen:

“….he also took in hand that humble capacity of mind of our amazement at the magnitude, the wonder, and the magnificent and absolutely wise construction of the world, and in our marvelling in a reasonless way and being overpowered with fear, and in our not knowing what conclusion to draw, like the irrational creatures. He aroused and corrected that by other studies in natural science… he filled our minds with a rational instead of an irrational wonder at the sacred economy of the universe, and the blameless constitution of all things. This is that sublime and heavenly study which is taught by natural philosophy— a science most attractive to all.

“And…[by] astronomy, whose course is on high… he lifted us up to the things that are highest above us; while he made heaven passable to us by the help of each of these sciences, as though they were ladders reaching the skies.”

Astronomy magazine points in their blog to their 2006 profile of Horkheimer. This quotes Horkheimer as saying, with characteristic whimsy, about all astronomy media: “These are all bricks in the cosmic yellow brick road that leads to cosmic Oz — which is an understanding of who and where you are in time and space… I can’t completely comprehend the universe, but I can comprehend a portion of it. That’s what I find so magnificent, that I’m part of the universe that I’m contemplating.”

Foley Arthur Horkheimer was born in 1938. According to the Portage Daily Register in Wisconsin, his father, a successful businessman and local politician, encouraged him to play sports despite constant pain from his lungs (probably in the hope that his son would outgrow his respiratory troubles through exercise, like Teddy Roosevelt). Unfortunately, this treatment only caused the man to feel that he was a constant disappointment to his father. His family tried all sorts of other therapies for his illness, including having him bombarded with radiation. All this got him was radiation sickness.

He graduated in 1956 from Campion Jesuit High School, a Jesuit-run boarding school in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin. He became a professional jazz musician on piano and jazz organ, touring under the names “Horky” and “Jack Foley”. He apparently had a fair amount of success, but ultimately was unsatisfied; bronchiecstasis, a congenital lung disease, continued to dog him, and he had spiritual troubles connected to his illness. He tried studying to become a priest, and then took some pre-med at Purdue. Moving to dreams of becoming a playwright, he graduated from Purdue with a degree in drama. Meanwhile, he always maintained a strong interest in amateur stargazing, which had been planted in him by his grandfather in summers on his farm.

At the age of 26, in 1964, he moved down to Miami for his health. Like many Catholics caught up in the turmoil of the 1960’s and the post-conciliar weirdness, he said that “I had dumped my strict Jesuit Catholicism by that time and I needed a substitute.” He visited the planetarium at night and had a moment of spiritual transformation. “I was in awe of the cosmos… I looked at the stars and found a kind of existentialism. I believe we are all part of the cosmos.” (He would later express this phase of his spiritual life in the 1972 planetarium show “Child of the Universe”, inspired by that favorite poem for Seventies wall decor, “Desiderata”.)

The Miami Museum of Science needed planetarium volunteers, and wanted somebody to write up some new planetarium shows. Suddenly, a stargazer had an outlet for his interest in science drama. He invented a whole new format for the Miami planetarium, “astrodocudramas with live star shows and music”. By 1967, he was working there full time, and in 1973, he was made planetarium director. Various local news and childrens’ shows had him on as a science commenter, which eventually led to an offer of a few PBS shows about astronomy. He asked in return that they help him develop his 5 minute short segment series, and the rest is history.

But from its debut in 1976 until the time his show went national in 1985, Horkheimer’s persona was apparently more poetic and formal; Astronomy magazine compares his older style of delivery to John Stossel. It was the national PBS folks who insisted that he be more urgent and funny, an entertainer instead of a presenter. He stated in one newspaper profile that he truly hated the character for the first two years; and that although he came to like it, it was a part he played and not anything based on himself. Apparently he seldom broke character in public, because he wanted to keep up the excitement over astronomy; but it was a sacrificial act, not a natural one.

From the beginning, Horkheimer also insisted on doing the show as part of his planetarium duties. He never made a dime off the series. (After his father died in 1974, he was apparently left reasonably well off… but still, few people would have done that.) All proceeds from video sales went back into the show’s production budget, which allowed PBS to distribute it for free.

Meanwhile, he fought colon cancer successfully, and it took until 2010 for his lung disease to kill him, though his gravestone has been waiting for him in Randolph, Wisconsin for many years, on a plot next to his mother and father’s graves.

Horkheimer offered up his gravestone’s epitaph in his online bio:

“‘Keep Looking Up’ was my life’s admonition.
I can do little else in my present position.”

Horkheimer once told the Miami Herald that one of the cornerstones of his spiritual life was a late-night radio rabbi he overheard defining prayer as focusing primarily on the wonder of God’s creative power. “When he said that, the stars became three-dimensional. I saw the heavens in 3-D. I suddenly realized, this mystery that I cannot fathom, this isn’t a loss, this is an incredible gain.”

I’m sure that, like all of us, he had his sins and serious failings. But it is my prayer that, like the wise men who followed a star and found the Lord Himself waiting, Jack Horkheimer has been welcomed into the house of His Creator, who is also the Redeemer of His Creation. If his work helped you, it would behoove you to remember his soul in your prayers as well.

Goodbye, Mr. Horkheimer. Pray for us to keep looking up.

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UPDATE: In accordance with the first comment, I’ve changed some info. As always, thank you very kindly for correcting my facts!

(I don’t think it’s just some Murphy’s Law of Google, that people find you only when you mess up. I think I overused a surname again. Bad habit, in an age of search engines.)

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A Medieval Latin dictionary that’s online

It’s an old French/Latin dictionary (or rather, glossary) in 10 volumes by Du Cange. It’s on Google Books , but the version at the Sorbonne is in a form that’s a lot easier to use and search.

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Sts. Nunilo and Alodia, according to St. Eulogius of Cordoba

I’m going to keep going with the story of St. Sabigotho et al from Memoriale Sanctorum, but it may take me awhile. Please be patient with me.

Meanwhile, Fr. Z mentioned Sts. Nunilo and Alodia over at his blog, so I ended up translating their very short chapter in Memoriale Sanctorum. (This will be a repost of that.) They were from the modern day Adahuesca, Huesca, Aragon in Spain. This was part of the Emirate of Cordoba, so it was more of the same persecution in a different town.

Here’s part one of the chapter in St. Eulogius, translated by me for lack of a better source. I’ve left out the first part of the chapter, where he apologizes for ending the book before, when all these other martyrdoms were coming up.

Memoriale Sanctorum, by St. Eulogius of Cordoba.
Book Two, Chapter Seven: Nunilo and Alodia, virgins and martyrs.

….

2. Therefore, as reported by the consecrated and venerated fatherly care of Venerius, bishop of Compluti (Alcala), we learn in the city of Osca (Huesca) near the town of Barbitanum, there were two virgin sisters (of whom one was called Nunilo and the other Alodia) born indeed to a Gentile [Muslim] father but a Christian mother. After the death of the impious father, they could not stop their mother from entering into a second Gentile marriage, nor could they hold freely to the faith of Christ, opposed by the stiff-necked paganism of the man who won their mother.

However, already the souls of the girls were watered from Christ’s kind fountain. Spurning the maternal marriage, they were warmed again by their most faithful maternal aunt’s encouragement. Immediately, the holy infancy of Christ the Lord begins to stick to them faithfully, and the paternal rite is forgotten — restoring the religion of the Crucified to their very young and sanctified minds, to keep them whole.

And because they were very strong in the bands of birth, and they gleamed with the highest excellences and torches of love, their ways of life could not be hidden from the city; they conducted themselves with such sweet-smelling and shining manners of holy faith. Accordingly, they already had achieved youthful adolescence’s flower, and the rumor of their holiness filled nearly the whole province. And all were astounded by the beauty of double roses leaping forth from thornbushes.

Hence the jealous old enemy would hurl pain at their members; while through terrors from their governor, it was hatefully decided that they could be transformed. While they were sealed beforehand for marriage to the eternal spouse, he is sure they can be separated from the prize through hard deaths’ hastening; he brings it to the sacred virgins.

Therefore, he pushes the pursuit of the holy virgins’ case upon his satellite, the prefect of the city, who immediately directs his gaze to set upon them. Trying to allure them with the vain promise of bribes and plenty of similar things, he urges the famous young women to marriage, if by this their souls would be called away from Christ’s religion and returned to their own natal one, by all means; in addition, he would enrich them with a flow of much wealth.

However, if they disregarded the decree of the governor with a more obstinate spirit, on their final day they would be sentenced to being tortured with torments, then be terminated by a guard’s sword.

To which the blessed virgins, constant and intrepid, roused by the Holy Spirit, said in one confession of faith, “O Governor, in the same way, we order you to turn to God’s piety! Which holy piety, in viewing things by His Light, made us aware that nobody can be wealthier than Christ, nobody can be happier than a faithful Christian woman. Through whom do the just live? Through whom has the power of the saints conquered? Without Him, life is nothing; without Him, death thrives forever. To abide in Him and live in Him is true comfort. To back away from Him is eternal ruin.

“By no means will we abandon partnership with Him while we are in this life, because believing our integrity is from Him, we look forward to someday being admitted into marriage with Him. For you bestow things that perish, of which you speak to entice us. We scorn them, considering them as nothing when one thinks about it; because we were aware that everything under the sun is vanity. Nor are we disturbed by the threat of punishment, which we recognize to be powerful in the short term. Indeed, death itself, which you put forward as the ultimate terror, we long for with the most welcoming love; for through it, we trust to ascend into heaven without delay, to approach Christ, and to be held fast in his embraces, never to be torn apart.”

The governor turning from which steadfastness of faith and courage of declaration, he committed them each separately to certain foolish little women provided with expertise in profane rites to be instructed; and about whatever terrors she can, not alternately but rather whichever they had supported faithfully in the discussion, she warns.

However, the foolish little women, receiving the virgins of Christ into sacrilegious worship, every day set forth the poisonous dogma to them; but unsleeping care from Heaven also restores them with manna, from the stinking bowl of sewer they were given to drink. The foolish little women were worn out with empty labor.

But the foolish little women having reported back to the governor about their stubbornness, the virgins after a few days were led into the forum, set up as a public show, and confessing Christ and standing firm in faith in the face of the enemy, they fell under a sword stroke on the eleventh day before the Kalends of November—and went above the air.

About their bodies, however, which had fallen, left behind — they were watched with the greatest eagerness by the soldiers, lest the Christians secretly steal them away, in order to protect them and hide them. Nevertheless, those virginal cadavers were carried off to a place in which, better hidden than the deep heathen trenches, they are buried; signs and miracles flash out; and where they display to the people the merited consolation of glory, the influence of virtue so faithful. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for an age of ages. Amen.

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So Let It Be Written, So Let It Be Said

I have decided that I will no longer allow myself to be called a “cradle Catholic”.

However, you may call me an incunabulum or incunable. :)

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Yet Another Gift from Culinary Nuns

I keep running across them. So you could probably do a whole cookbook of famous dishes invented by nuns. Pictures of the dish, pictures of the habit at the time, pictures of the convent where it was invented (if it still exists), talk about the order’s aims and spirituality… it’d make money!

Here’s a patriotic, seasonal dish famous in Mexico: chile en nogada, a dish in the colors of the Mexican flag, which was devised in 1821 in honor of a visit by President Iturbide.

Yes, Regency fans, this means it’s an authentic Regency-era banquet dish. You can stick the recipe inside your Lobscouse and Spotted Dog cookbook.

The same bunch of nuns from Puebla apparently invented mole sauce also.

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The Skills Demanded of a Priest Are Many

I’d like to thank my old pastor, whose family lives on my parents’ street, for not running over my parents’ dog this morning when she ran out into the road all of a sudden, right in front of his car. I’d also like to thank the parishioners who got together the money to give him a new car, when he left our parish after 21 years or so, and whoever his brakes mechanic is. Sheeeeeesh, what a way to start the day.

She hasn’t been pulling her leash out of people’s hands for a long while now, which is good because she’s not a puppy anymore. No, this was something else. My parents were getting some stuff out of the garage, and she somehow managed to go through the door from the house into the garage. So then she went out the open garage door and went racing all around the surrounding yards. She knows how to come when called; but she was having too much fun to obey. So she went romping across the road watching my parents instead of her surroundings, and nearly got herself killed and my poor old pastor traumatized.

I keep telling my mom that they’ve got to do some serious obedience training with this dog (since she’s a lot flightier than the other dogs we’ve had) and possibly even seek help from a professional trainer. This may finally have convinced them. I hope.

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