Daily Archives: December 20, 2011

A Miracle for Kateri

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (pronounced GAH-deh-lee Day-GAH-kwee-ta, but you can say it however you want) is truly the Cinderella of North American saints. Her father was Mohawk, her mother a Catholic Algonquian captive whom he married. But they both died of smallpox when she was four, along with her little brother; she survived scarred on the face and in the eyes, which made her very nearsighted. She was adopted by her uncles and aunts on her father’s side.

When she was about eleven, three Jesuits stayed the night at her uncle’s house, and she apparently got as much info on her childhood faith as she could. From then on, she apparently became determined to live as a virgin, despite the fact that she was coming up to a marriageable age and her aunts had a lot of matchmaking plans. As was common in many tribes, these ladies decided that working recalcitrant kids to the bone was the way to get obedience; but Kateri was as stubborn and unafraid of pain as her tribe was taught to be. (And to be fair to the Iroquois confederation, forced marriage wasn’t really something they did.) When she was 18, she was baptized by the local missions priest. Homelife got even more difficult, because she still refused to marry like a normal Mohawk. (And remember, she had high family connections and was a cheerful, skilled hard worker, which made her a very desirable wife despite her scars. So I’m sure men offered plenty to her family and her.)

Things were at an impasse, until Kateri decided to leave home and head to one of the Jesuit settlements of Catholic tribesmembers. There she found happiness, continuing to work hard but being able to take Catholic instruction, and live as a virgin without shame. After learning about asceticism and mortification as a path to sanctity (which would appeal to someone of traditional Native American background), she began to practice fairly extreme stuff. This was a big witness to her fellows, because bravery to withstand pain is a sign of spiritual power in a lot of religious traditions from that area. But given the crazy “boomtown” furtrading atmosphere and the constant wartime footing of the Iroquois confederation groups (because they were fighting everybody else to get all the fur trade with Europe for themselves), many Europeans who had a bad opinion of Native Americans’ moral capabilities were also impressed by Kateri’s holy (and strenuous) life. She achieved a depth of prayer and love that impressed others as being totally in union with God.

She died young, about 24 years old. (Not unusual in that rough time.) As soon as she died, eyewitnesses said that her smallpox scars vanished, and that her face shone with unusual loveliness and peace. She has been the object of popular local devotion from that day to this, although her second wave of popularity began in the late 1800′s as the Jesuit missions became a popular subject of study in Canada and the US. She has been taken to the hearts of people of all races and political views and denominations.

The oldest portrait of Kateri, by Fr. Chauchetiere, one of the Jesuits who knew her.

And now, the girl who survived smallpox has prayed for a boy to survive flesh-eating bacteria, and God has responded with a miracle, to show the world that His favor is upon this handmaid of His. The way is clear for her name to be raised to the altars.

Stay tuned. The canonization announcement will probably come out in the next few months. Then the canonization will probably take place in the US and/or Canada — since these days, the Pope is trying to spread the fun to people who can’t make it to Rome.

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MIT Decides It Likes Distance Money

MIT has long offered free use of course materials, and even courses, online. You just didn’t get credit for it.

In their newest venture, coming this spring, you still can take the courses for free and even take quizzes and such for free. But you will also be able to obtain certification of having taken and passed the course; and that’s the part that will cost you. There will be a clear distinction between this distance learning unit and actual MIT, but they mean their certification to be respected.

I think it’s a good idea. Why should the University of Phoenix get all the action? And why shouldn’t people have a way to get credit for all their hard work and learning?

(And if you didn’t learn well enough, why shouldn’t you be able to sweep that under the rug and move on? Science and engineering and math are hard classes, and MIT is harder. Just taking that level of college class and failing is probably a useful learning experience for many, since it’s hard to find a hard class in the US nowadays.)

Via Instapundit.

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When Research Gets a Little Too Decentralized

Instapundit links to a very sad citation study of English professors’ articles.

A lot of people write articles just to be publishing something. Of course they’re not going to be very useful, and of course it’s going to be harder to find useful articles in the mess. The lack of general Internet availability of scholarly articles in certain fields is probably also a factor.

Why hunt through journals you don’t read for the one possibly useful article, if 100 other articles on your subject of interest turn out to be useless and boring, or composed of equal helpings of incomprehensible verbiage and pap? And so, the bad drives out the good (or makes it hard to find).

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Dinosaur/Bird News!

What that weird enlarged claw was and is for.

Via View from the Porch.

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Vampire Prosecutor

A lawyer with a special sense for murder cases. :)

No, this isn’t some Dexter baddie vs. baddie. Prosecutor Min Tae-Yeon is a clean-cut serious guy who only drinks blood obtained legally from bloodbanks. (How the heck he gets that amount of blood is another question.) But despite possessing tons of vampiric powers and very few disadvantages, he primarily is interested in harnessing his abilities to track blood and death, so as to Fight Crime. And hunt down the serial killer who vampified him, and apparently killed his little sister. The catch is that, if he drinks enough of a dead person’s blood sample, he can sense something of their memories at death; but in return, he suffers their deathpangs.

(And of course, if he doesn’t keep himself under control, he’ll turn into an evil guy biting everybody. Amusingly, the sign of the vampire side taking over isn’t just fangs, but also his eyes turning blue!)

So this vampish Valjean gets himself put in charge of a joint police/prosecutor’s office X-Files squad, along with a policeman buddy, who knows something about his abilities and how he got that way. But his bosses also dump on the new group a crazy-haired intern who wants to share everything with his social media friends, and a very young and chatty female prosecutor. Fortunately, the newbies love the glamorous CSI aura too much to realize that they’ve been assigned to some kind of screw-up squad. But even they quickly notice the odd way that blood samples and the chain of evidence get treated in their unit!

Like Forever Knight or Angel, this is the kind of show where the main character rejects the glamor of evil and tries to make use of vampiric powers only for the sake of justice. Like a superhero, he is pitted by the writers against those in Korean society who are too powerful for ordinary cops to reach, usually. In the first episode, there are explicit parallels drawn between vampires and people able to have whatever they want through bribes and influence.

The problem is that a lot of his standard practices would count as evidence contamination in real life. This may become an issue later in the series, but nothing happens about it in the first episode.

So it looks like a pretty good fantasy/mystery show, it’s only 12 episodes long, and it just finished up last week. Check it out!

Be aware that there is A LOT of blood tossed around in this series, given the plot, and some episodes apparently involve people running around half-naked while getting murdered. Also, the first episode involves the murder of a child, so folks may not want to watch that.

Vampire Prosecutor with English subtitles.

PS: The end of the first episode features the vamp lawyer going clubbing, but the song played is “Camper”, a song in English about playing Call of Duty?! (The version on the show bleeped all the cussing that the YouTube version has.)

Of course comedy songs have their place, but whatever happened to elegant vampire hangouts?

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