Monthly Archives: April 2010

“Without fear, we must set sail on the digital sea…”

“… with the same passion that has governed the Ship of the Church for two thousand years.”

The pope made a good speech this week, to one of those think-tanky conferences about using computers for good and not for evil. I guess, if you get the Italian bishops to sponsor these things, you get a better class of celebrity speaker. 🙂

Anyway, the pope basically encouraged Christians to act like it when they’re on the computer (“living in the digital world with a believer’s heart”), and for everybody to acknowledge each other’s worth as human beings, avoiding “the many forms of degradation and humiliation” that mistreat “the intimacy of the person” and make people into “objects of exchange and consumption”. He encouraged us not to forget “to look each other in the face”, figuratively speaking, and “to give attention to people and their spiritual needs”.

He also encouraged everyone to fight “the decline of the critical spirit” (although that’s not a problem in some places in this world!), and to resist “truth reduced to a game of opinions”, or OTOH, conformity and homogenization.

Except in a much more inspirational way.

I haven’t seen the full text anywhere yet. I’ll look around and post a link.

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Cantored This Morning

Everything went well at the 8 AM Mass, except a couple blips. Very nice and prayerful morning.

Then I sang with the choir at the 9:30. All went well again — until the coffee from first thing this morning finally lost its power. All of a sudden, I was so sleepy I could barely keep my eyelids open.

After Mass, I replenished my coffee supply. But after I got home, I napped for four hours straight. I’m still desperately sleepy. But this is a lot better than the other day, so I’ll take it. 🙂

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The Dr Who Writers Hate Me Now

“The Beast Below” was an episode which, in many ways, had its heart in the right place. The problem was that it threw its brain away to get there. When you can think of three or four better courses of action than the Doctor does, while the scene is still on television, it isn’t a good sign. Doctor Who is supposed to be about cutting through logical fallacies, at least in part.

I also rather resent the continuation of “all you viewers are so stupid that we writers have to come right out and explain parallels to the situation of the main character, while hitting you over the head repeatedly with them”. That’s subtle compared with Russell T. Davies, but that’s not saying much. And don’t say you have to do it because it’s a kids’ show. Kids enjoy a bit of subtlety as much as anyone.

Yes… I have now gotten enough sleep to stop feeling zoned out and punch drunk, and my inner critic has come back with a vengeance.

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Historical Link: Amy Welborn’s Blog Back in April 2005

I meant to post this back last week.

But since Typepad’s new commenting system has disappeared Amy’s postings and the extensive, historically interesting comments, I’m glad to see that at least some of the comments are still available on Internet Archive.

So here’s April 2005, for your reference.

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Zoned Out

This whole week, I’ve been stressed, tired out, and dealing with several unexpected events at work and at home. A big long-term project has fallen through. I’ve also learned some very sad news about a member of a friend’s family, and the complications of that.

But this week, I’ve just been zoned out a lot. Or at least, my emotions have been. I’ll have bits of crushing sadness for no good reason, now and then, but the rest of the time… I don’t really have much emotion at all. It’s like all that stuff is behind a wall of zoning out. (I’ve been very forgetful, too. So maybe my emotions and certain kinds of memory are tied together?) I can’t even keep my mind on what’s happened, half the time.

I must be coming down with something. Or it’s a hormone thing. My allergies and sinus don’t work this way. Usually I’m more emo when I’ve been having trouble sleeping, so I don’t get it at all. I don’t think it’s positive. I mean, sure it’s handy to be able to function, but I feel like I’m only half here.

While we’re on the topic of zoning out, I’ve seen it theorized recently that certain politicians, businessmen, et al have been studying those books on the pickup artist version of quick and dirty neurolinguistic programming. I have to admit, some of those guys’ idea of rhetoric and speech technique does look like they’ve watched one too many episodes of The Mentalist or some used car showcase.

Apparently, the trick is to get people bored into submission while simultaneously throwing out a lot of strong image-words and gestures that “tie” positive things to you… sorta like hypnosis, but a tad more subtle. Of course, you have to talk like some kind of hustler or medicine show guy to do it. But if your audience watches you through the whole thing, the idea is that they won’t be in any position to criticize you anymore….


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Anne Grimes: Collector of Ohio Folk Music

About a zillion years ago, I discovered an old album of folk music from Ohio. It was called Ohio State Ballads, by some lady named Anne Grimes (which I had found in a university library several years previously, transcribed, and learned by heart). It never even occurred to me that Grimes might still be alive and kicking, much less that she was running around collecting more Ohio folk music. She must have lived a pretty interesting life, since she worked as a song collector, singer and musician, and vocal coach, had a good marriage, and raised five kids.

There’s a good quote from her obit: “”Everybody thinks you find folk music in the hills; you don’t — it’s in people’s heads.”

Well, it seems that she passed away in 2004, but she still had one more book in her. It will be coming out this June.

Ohio State Ballads is available from the Smithsonian’s Folkways label. I’m not sure what to say about it, since it’s such an old companion in my life. It’s not a conventionally pretty album of a conventionally skilled musician, to the extent that it’s almost a field recording. (Not that she didn’t have a well-trained voice or good dulcimer skills, because those show up on certain tracks.) But “authentic” was apparently the sound she was aiming for.

But this album’s sound does have a lot of power and interest; and this remastered version of the album has a clarity that the older versions of the album had lost. I’m very fond of “Logan’s Lament”, “St. Clair’s Lament”, the fun foxhunting song “Portsmouth Fellows” (which I need to inflict on my little brother, since he’s been doing foxhunting with the local group of riders), and a ton of others.

You can download the cover and liner notes for free from the Smithsonian site. Besides being a charming whiff of the late fifties, you might find the Ohio history info handy.

You can buy or download the album on all the usual sites, too.

If you want to dig deeper, the standard source is Mary O. Eddy’s Ballads and Songs from Ohio, from back in the thirties. Pearl Nye collected Ohio canalboat songs, which were collected into a book I’ve never seen called Scenes and Songs of the Ohio-Erie Canal. Anne Salt has a sheet music book called Buckeye Heritage, that also focuses on Ohio history. Underground Railroad, Civil War, and Shaker songs are all important to Ohio’s musical life, but you have to look around to find them. I’ve got another Ohio sheet music songbook, but I can’t find it just now, so I can’t tell you the title.

Here’s someone singing a funny song from Eddy, “Common Bill”. She apparently collected it up in Perrysville, and it was then reprinted in Carl Sandburg’s anthology An American Songbag. (Of which I have heard much, but never so much as seen a copy. Unless that’s it in the YouTube video.) You see this song referenced in some stories from the Fifties. (But what kills me is how familiar the singer sounds when he talks. I don’t think I know anybody from Montreal, but it’s uncanny how much he sounds like somebody I do know.)

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Everybody Has Weird Home Remedies

The Chinese say that for a runny nose, you should drink ginger and scallion/soy broth soup. (You know, like miso but with stuff in it.) Hot and sour soup is also popular.

Apparently, some Japanese swear by “tamagozake” when they feel a cold coming on. That’s an egg (tamago) and some sugar, beaten and then added to hot sake that you have cooking on your stove.

Substitute the sake with whiskey, and get rid of the egg, and it’s what my parents swore by. But… actually, the medieval medicinal drink “caudle” just dumped egg yolks and spices into wine or ale (usually with bread or starch of some kind, but not always). So I guess home remedies sometimes are where east meets west.


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