Behind the Bible by Gary Michuta

A collection of his diocesan newspaper columns of Bible-illuminating facts. A bit pricey, but worth it for collecting a lot of useful and obscure info into one place. The columns are collected in order by Bible verse, rather than chronologically according to their appearance.

For example, there’s a nice column on Deut. 28:66, which, as part of a list of Covenant curses/consequences for breaking the Covenant, warns, “You shall see your life hanging before you.” Early Christians saw this as a hidden reference to the Crucifixion (which reversed Covenant curses and made them into blessings for humanity), and it was also used as a justification for icons of Christ and for crucifixes. (“They shall look upon Him Whom they had pierced” is another one for that.)

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Larry Connor on ISS Stay

Via WHIO-TV, Channel 7. Larry Connor’s experimental work on the ISS.

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St. Ambrose’s Sermon on His Brother’s Death

Ho-lee crud. What a sermon start.

“Most beloved brothers, we have brought my sacrificial victim — an undefiled victim — a victim pleasing to God: my lord and brother, Satyrus.”

Heh, just think if your bishop started a funeral homily like that. Barnburner!

And yes, if you were a bishop in the old days, you were totally justified in talking about the deceased as a saint, and honoring him as such. Because that was one of a bishop’s powers — to create a martyrology and name any people in his diocese who were saints.

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Roman Law Thing: Adsertor Libertatis

Under Roman law, if somebody free was unlawfully made a slave, a case for freeing him/her could be brought by an “adsertor libertatis.” This person didn’t have to be related to the wrongfully enslaved person in any way, or even know the guy/gal. In fact, such a case could be brought without the knowledge, or against the will, of the slave or supposed slave.

Unlike other people who took up cases, an adsertor libertatis could be a total scumbag with a horrible reputation. All that mattered was the case he presented, not his own record. It does seem that the adsertor had to put up some kind of money bond for the “slave” to appear for hearings, because the slave was effectively free from the time of filing until his case was proven or disproven. (!)

Under Constantine, the law even provided for sending a person of disputed status back to his home province, with a sign around his neck advertising that he needed an adsertor libertatis to take up his case.

If it was proved in court that the slave wasn’t one, the now-vindicated person received compensation money, a servus mulctatitius. If he died during the hearings, his heirs got it.

Unfortunately, if the unjustly enslaved person was a woman, and she had a child during her captivity, a separate case would have to be brought for the child.

Under Theodosius, anybody who had lived free for 20 years could defend himself. (I think this is related to the law that anybody who hadn’t seen his owner in 30 years received freedom by default.)

Under Justinian, no supposed slave needed an adsertor at all; he could argue his own case.

This seems like a great source of court drama for Roman stuff, although also of problems. (I never got through all of Turtledove’s “time traveler frees slaves in classical Rome” book, so I don’t know if the adsertor thing came up.)

On his coins, Vespasian portrayed himself as the “adsertor” for the entire Roman Empire. This followed previous emperors who had called themselves the empire’s “vindex,” avenger or vindicator.

Of course, the Law in the Bible called for the “go’el”, the avenger of blood or the kinsman-redeemer, to buy back any close kinsman who was enslaved for debt or other reasons, as part of his family duties. Jesus was seen as being the go’el for the entire human race.

So one could argue that He was also the ultimate Adsertor….

Anyhow, I had never heard of this Roman legal job before, and I thought it was pretty neat.

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I Have Reached the End of the Internet

Downhill Barbie jeep and Power Wheels racing.

The Motocross helmets make it safe. Sorta.

Feeling better, as the body ache has gone away, and the coughing and congestion is much less. I have now spent most of two days sleeping, though.

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Granny Mochi!

A 95-year-old Japanese lady makes bamboo leaf-wrapped mochi. From scratch.

You also get to see how to make red bean paste from the raw adzuki bean. Pretty cool.

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I Hate Being Sick

I feel like crud. Fever, congested chest, sore throat, laryngitis, gunked up head, watery and sore eyes, body ache so that it’s hard to sleep — the whole schmole. Flu, maybe. So I’m in bed, and taking cold and flu meds and guaifenesin, and chicken soup, but so far I’m not getting much out of it yet.

The worst thing is that not only is it a weekend, it’s a funeral weekend. But obviously you can’t drag yourself to a funeral, or even drop in on a visitation, when you’re sick, any more than you can drag yourself into work. Nobody wants to share things that are contagious, and especially not when their resistance is low because of grief.

I might be able to watch the funeral Mass online. Maybe.

EWTN is celebrating a special Mass for St. Bernadette, as part of her relics’ tour of the US. (I gather that they had a special welcome service for the relics last night.)

I think I am going to take a shower, because I feel so cruddy. Maybe that will help the body ache.


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When Filkers Go Bad

Obviously anthropomorphic fandom has been having its turn in the barrel for a really long time, as the nice people who just liked drawing Disney’s Robin Hood-type characters got to watch their fandom turn into a fetish and then a haven for pedophiles. (And the petty criminal Robert “Beto” O’Rourke.)

Now it’s time for filk to feel public shame.

Now, we should have been publically shamed over not correctly identifying the ongoing abuse of children in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s household. (And good on Moira Greyland for living to adulthood, getting her own life, and getting the truth out.) But for whatever reason, filk was spared public obloquy.

But apparently the Wizard Rock movement from Harry Potter fandom has birthed its own Umbridge, who actually uses her own filk skills as part of her gig as a mini-Goebbels or mini-Pravda-ite.

Her name is Nina Jankowicz, and she used to be part of a singer/songwriter duo called The Moaning Myrtles (which even I had heard of, from outside the fandom). Jankowicz also performed solo as “Nina Myrtle.” They were doing comedy songs, which is fine. Here are their three albums on Bandcamp. You can also buy songs on Apple and Spotify.

In her adult life, she has been appointed head of the Disinformation Governance Board. And just look at that Umbridge smirk in her official portrait, as she gets ready to send people to the gulags. As a Russian/Eastern European studies type. Ugh. She previously advised the old, pro-Russian government of Ukraine, and then later announced that Hunter Biden’s laptop was totally untrue disinformation. (For her own sake, I hope she didn’t ever meet the child-prostitute-user Hunter Biden during his Ukraine gig; but honestly, the chances are good that she did in fact meet and know him. Biden circles are kinda tight.)

The really sad thing about her fannish past is that she’s not a bad singer and they’re not badly done songs. When people don’t have any art within them, you can say to yourself, “Oh, maybe this person just doesn’t have the cognitive ability to understand that she’s being evil.” But no.

This is someone who is going to unironically ruin the lives of young men and women, who are exactly like her old fannish friends, for opposing the official line with actual factual information. And we know that, because she has already unironically sung songs about what she thinks disinformation is.

She also thinks that if anybody doesn’t like her or her opinions, it’s because they’re sexist against her. (Not because her opinions are cray-cray or evil. No, of course not. Umbridge thought is righteous.)

Here’s some examples of the Moaning Myrtles’ work.

“And Then I Died” performs the remarkable feat of giving a dead victim of murder a “villain song” that makes her less sympathetic. There’s vulgar language for basically no reason, but of course it’s realistic for a junior high ghost to think it’s cool to swear, and Myrtle’s not the nicest ghost.

And Then I Died” lyrics video. Same song from MM appearance at Wizard Rock Festival.

“I Was There,” another song from ghost Myrtle’s POV.

“Sitting on the Toilet”: the trials of Myrtle’s love life, or death.

There are a ton of these on the YouTube channels “Julia Weinstein” and “WrockingGirl“, and even some nice song videos using clips from the films or background art. (Wrock = Wizard Rock.) There are also a few of Jankowicz’s “muggle songs” such as “Vacation for Free.”

Werner Von Braun’s rocket fandom friends at least had some kind of excuse of scientific/engineering naivete, for getting enmeshed in a system that oppressed and killed people. Jankowicz is jumping right in, happy as a clam.

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Japanese Beauty Treatments

If you don’t know about ASMR, it’s a two-pronged movement. The normal prong is “Listen to soft-spoken, boring talks, so that you can relax and/or go to sleep.” The odder prong is “Listen to people whispering, so that it hits your nerves weird and you feel allegedly pleasant ‘tingles.'”

I’ll have to take the tingling bit on faith, because I just find the whisper ASMR creepy and disturbing. (Somebody did an audiobook reading of The Hobbit entirely in a whisper, though, and honestly I might listen to that for fun, if it’s not the creepy French whisper guy.)

But ASMR Twix is a YouTube channel that found a motherlode of relaxing voices, in the Japanese mini-spa beauty industry. Hair towel baths, facial pinch massage, and all kinds of other beauty practices for women are performed by estheticians and cosmetologists who are trained to relax the stressed. So the two sisters behind ASMR Twix funded their trip to Japan by getting spa treatments on camera. (And if you happen to be going to Japan, they have discounts for the beauty spas shown on their channel.)

It’s also kinda nice for learning “polite” and “mature” tones of voice that have some dignity and business to them, from the portion of the video that shows the sales talk.

OTOH, the channel does demonstrate that most women’s beauty treatments, everywhere, are accompanied with a tad bit of alarm and shame along with the sales talk. Women do tend to do things more thoroughly if they associate danger and shame with not doing it… but the beauty industry is always hinting at worst case scenarios.

For example, there’s a scalp cleaning and hair treatment spa. They use a microscope camera to show women their hair roots. And then they try to embarrass them by showing them “dirt,” which of course is not necessarily dirt or anything dirty. For a Japanese woman, of course this would be intensely shaming, but even an American woman would find it gross.

But why? Who goes to get their hair washed (among other things) if the hair is completely clean? That would be bad for your hair, to use harsh oil-removing and dirt-removing chemicals on hair that isn’t oily or dirty. So of course there are going to be dust specks and particles on the scalp. (Assuming that the microscope camera is real, and that the screen is not just showing random pictures of other people’s scalps.)

All that said, the beauty treatments don’t seem to be harmful and do seem relaxing, although I’m sure they’re overpriced. (Pretty much everything in Tokyo is overpriced, though.)

Also, if you ever go to a hair, makeup, or nail place, and the salon person starts hinting that you might have a health problem, you probably want to listen. US stylists can’t really say too much, legally, about your health. because it could be construed as medical diagnosis; but nails and hair and skin do manifest symptoms of serious illnesses or malnutrition. And stylists are paid to be observant.

Btw — ASMR soft-spoken channels tend to start with “previews” taken from later in the video, so that listeners can determine whether or not the video will suit them. So expect at least three minutes of unexplained material at the start, and then you will suddenly be back at the chronological beginning.

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Cho Chang in Wade-Giles Romanization

If you look up the WWII Key to Wade-Giles Romanization booklet which was put out by the US government, the very first character listed under the Mandarin pronunciation “Cho” is the character that means “brilliant, profound, tall, standing up straight, outstanding.” Here is the character:

In Cantonese, the same character is pronounced as “churk” and is transliterated today as “Choek” or “Coek3”. And it is a popular female name, meaning “brilliant, profound.”

And yes, even though Pinyin was invented back in the day, it was still in use in the UK and America until the 1980’s, which was when Cho Chang’s parents would have been thinking of names for her. And if J.K. Rowling had any friends or acquaintances named Cho, or if she had read any books about Chinese girls named Cho, those books or friends would be even more likely to have been spelling their names according to Wade-Giles, or other older UK systems of romanization.

The current Pinyin transliteration is zhuo. And Zhuo is a popular girl’s name for Mandarin speakers. (With diacritical marks.) For example, there was a female Chinese weightlifter named Li Zhuo, as well as a female member of a gold medaling Chinese wheelchair curling squad named Yan Zhuo.

Similarly, there are at least 12 Mandarin family names which were listed in the WWII booklet as being transliterated as Chang or Ch’ang. Most of them are now Romanized as Zhang, although Pinyin does put a few of them down as Chang. (Also leaving out a bunch of diacritical marks.) Apparently the usual Chinese character chosen for her surname by fans is one meaning “free, unhindered,” but the Chinese translations of the book seem to have picked the surname common to General Zhang Fei and the director Zhang Yimou, which means “firm, tightened, strong.” (They also transliterated her name as Qiu, autumn.)

Various people have pointed out that they know Mandarin speakers whose parents named them Zhuo/Cho, and Hakka speakers whose names are compounds like Cholan with the English usename Cho.

So basically, everybody online who said that Cho Chang has a Korean name, or two surnames, and that Rowling did not do her research, is wrong. They just weren’t looking up the correct sources. If they’d looked up Zhuo and Zhang, their results would have been different. But that would have required thought and effort, instead of kneejerk assumptions.

It also turns out that there’s a Mandarin phrase, “chou chang,” which means “depressed, melancholy.” Which does suit the character.

Ten points to Rowling….


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Am I Missing Something?

Dilougos, in 1 Tim. 3:8, literally means “doubletalker”.

But people keep translating it as “double-tongued.” Why? Whyyyy?

The guy who translated it as “two-faced” is at least translating the meaning.


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Spy X Family

It was apparently an adorable manga, and now it’s an adorable anime.

The premise is that a secret agent is sent on a long term mission to infiltrate the parent gatherings at a prestigious school. The problem is that he needs a kid who can pass the entrance exams, and a female agent who can pretend to be the kid’s mom.

Also, he doesn’t realize that the kid he picked out from the orphanage has a rather unique background….

The young woman picked to be the mom has an even more interesting backstory, which I won’t spoil. But how she gets together with the secret agent is both heartwarming and hilarious.

So basically, this is Scarecrow and Mrs. King if the kids had been more involved; but with even more wholesome family plotting, and a little bit of science fiction mixed into the alternate world.

The art style is really nice. The animators have taken the “mid-20th century” and “19th century Eastern Europe good parts,” and created an alternate world full of cool and charming details.

There was a similar manga earlier, where all three people in the family were secret agents for the same organization, but it wasn’t nearly as good as this story. Also, the stakes are much higher and funnier, since the entire situation is dangerous and everyone is working at cross-purposes.

Check it out on Crunchyroll.

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Thirty Pieces of Silver = Wergild for a Slave

An interesting coin guy article on Judas’ thirty pieces of silver.

The interesting comparison is that Mary of Bethany’s nard was worth 300 Roman denarii, but Judas sold out Jesus for only 30. Even if the priests’ silver coins had more silver content, he really made a bad deal. He couldn’t have done it for the money.

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Sorta Neat, Sorta Boring

I’ve been listening to a 2018 Sequentia album, and I should be finding it exciting. They worked together with musicologists to present songs that had an unusual kind of musical notation, and thus had not been sung for over a thousand years despite sitting in Cambridge’s libraries. And some of the songs are settings of Boethius’ poems from The Consolation of Philosophy, so it should be patristics and literature fun, too.

But… arrrrrgh. I can’t even make out what they’re singing. And the way they sing is soooooo….

Well, it’s musical. And liquid. And it’s eminently suited to falling asleep.

I’m sure they are working hard on whatever their musical performance theory is. But. I’m not feeling it.

Maybe it’s more dynamic in person. But I’m not feeling it.

It makes me feel like I need to pick up the songs, shake them, and see if they work better. Because honestly, I don’t think the Latin lyrics are boring. A lot of them are very striking. Boethius was a heck of a poet, for a politician or philosopher.

Argh argh argh argh. I just want this to be cooler.

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