Monthly Archives: September 2010

Is It Just Me, Or Is Audio Suddenly Louder?

I keep having to turn down my audiobooks all of a sudden, and even then they’re too loud. It’s gotten to the point where, when it’s just getting comfortable to listen to them, I’m suddenly at Volume 1 heading for Volume 0. Often, the same thing is happening with other audio stuff on the computer, etc.

Now, I know I’m not developing audio superpowers, and people’s hearing doesn’t get better as we get older. So I wonder what gives?

UPDATE: There was something weird going on with my computer. Apparently, instead of turning off one speaker signal when it turned on the headphones, it was pushing the speaker signal through my headphones in addition to my headphone signal. So it sounded twice as loud because it really was putting out twice as much sound. Weeeeeird.

Maybe the firmware in my mp3 player updated in some similar way. I’ll have to check the settings and such.

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Part of Why NFP Makes Women Happier

This Scientific American article is not at all work-safe and definitely not for little itty-bitty kids, and it’s certainly not designed to talk about natural family planning! But it’s very interesting and seems sound.

It’s about what the hormones in human semen (the stuff that isn’t sperm) is apparently capable of doing.

Sometimes it seems that a whole lot of human body features are designed to make us able to put up with each other, and to transform us physically into more social beings, more capable of conceiving and bearing children and keeping them safe. Of course, the other side of that coin is that sometimes the interaction of hormones and chemicals can overpower our better judgment. It’s not being paranoid to suggest that people respect the possible effects upon themselves and others of various bodily features. If people are all hip about living green and being “locavores”, surely respecting their bodies is even more important.

It sounds as if people will enjoy life more if they use their bodies’ attractive and bonding features the way they are intended to be used, and refrain from making promises with their bodies if they don’t intend to keep them. (Or from taking mood-altering, hormone-altering drugs if they clash with their very chromosomes.) Naturally, using such features are even more important for people who intend to marry and stay married. This information will potentially help people understand their bodies and grow in virtue at the same time.

Of course, what I expect to happen is that now somebody will try to market a drug version (not a drug company, but probably some skanky group), and that other disgusting consequences will ensue. But I also expect that married people will continue to have kids and be happy, despite all the self-destructive stuff the rest of the world may do. It’s the natural thing to do.

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You People Talk Funny

I just ran a Google search for “fits and cathooks”, and NOTHING SHOWED UP!

Doesn’t anybody else’s family say, “Aw, man, she was so upset, she was having fits and cathooks!” ?

Why not?!? C’mon, people!

And you know what you find if you look for “cathooks”? Nothing but hooks shaped like cats!

Well, if you delve far enough, it appears that “cathook” is a sailing term. It’s a hook attached to the cat-block, which was used to raise the anchor to the cat-head in the bow area. Why this might involve someone going into fits, I have no idea.

But someday, we will FIND OUT.

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Higher Up and Further In

Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M. — professor and scholar; the author of many solid, unpretentious books on prayer, mysticism, science (The Evidential Power of Beauty is all about science and elegance, IIRC), and the Divine Love; and the gentle, reedy-voiced, determinedly lyrical TV host of many a late night lecture show on EWTN — has passed away. Please pray for the repose of his soul, and ask for his prayers in return.

The great advantage of spending a great deal of time getting to know God while you’re alive, is that you’re already in practice when you come to die. You’ll never be caught by surprise when death comes, desperate to do makeup work and to get everything done that you meant to do. That’s very important, should death come suddenly or slowly. But of course, knowing God’s love more clearly will make life more full as well.

Sonitus Sanctus has links to podcast versions of many of Fr. Dubay’s series: one on Bedrock Basics of prayer life, one on transforming communities with the Gospel, Prayer Quest on the contemplative life, and a series each on St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross (who were focuses of his professional scholarship).

EWTN has most of these series available for download, as well as Saints: A Closer Look, and Contemplating. You can buy his TV series on DVD from them.

And I’m not kidding about the books. He must have put out a zillion of ’em. Deep Conversion and The Fire Within get a lot of praise especially. Ignatius Press has ’em in paper and e-book download.

UPDATE: Via Curt Jester, Ignatius Insight has the story of Fr. Dubay’s death. The Little Sisters of the Poor run nursing homes and take care of the elderly, among other ministries.

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The War Is Always Right On Top of You

I was just pondering why Miyazaki’s adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle didn’t work, and obviously most of it is “because Miyazaki imposed his WWII issues instead of going with the book’s”. But you know, it’s not just Miyazaki’s issues.

Even though a lot of anime and manga artists have relatives that lived out in the country, and that rural life is part of their psyches, there’s definitely a feeling that war always happens right in your face. There’s not the English “and then the children were sent to the country to get out of the blitz” or even “we live in a remote rural area, so we only heard about the war or saw battles from a distance”. A plane always crashes right in the middle of the remote village, or the children are taken hostage by the enemy, or something.

Admittedly, Japan did suffer tons of bombing, but so did plenty of other countries. But really really rural Japan isn’t usually given a voice in anime. It’s grandmothers who live in the country; or it’s peasants in the remote samurai past, or possibly ninjas. Or the WWII Japanese country people are being used as experimental subjects by Unit 731, of course.

It’s possible that this is some kind of shame thing, that the country people didn’t get bombed and just got to quietly starve to death as the city people came and took all their crops and then all their seeds; or survived only because they hid food, in the traditional way of oppressed Japanese country people.

But yeah, that’s what Miyazaki really didn’t want. Jones had a subtle feeling of the scariness of war, by keeping it far off but within sight. Miyazaki spends ten minutes putting you through a bombing raid of his own devising, totally unbalancing the plot — as if the English never wrote books about being caught in bombing raids. But the war is always right on top of you, in his stories, and there could be no exceptions.

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That “Tantei Opera Milky Holmes” Show?

Argh. The cuteness, it cuts me to the bone!

The girls are:

Sherlock Sherringford (who has pink hair and a magical winged magnifying glass, fer Pete’s sake)
Nero Yuzurizaki (and no, she ain’t chubby)
Hercule Barton (yes, a girl version of Poirot, and may God not strike us down)
Cordelia Glauca (who is pretty much totally unfeminist in char design; P.D. James is going to hurt somebody)

The villains are also cute. I don’t know who “The Rat” or “Stone River” is parodying, but “Twenty” is obviously The Man of Twenty Faces from Kogoro Akechi’s adventures. The female, blue-haired, bosom-exposing Arsene is poor Lupin’s female version. Kobayashi Opera is of course modeled after Kogorou Akechi’s adopted son Kobayashi, the head of the Boys’ Detective Club. (So he’s their kid boss.) There’s a Zenigata in this thing somewhere, according to the credits, which of course points to the real life Japanese policeman and Lupin’s cartoon nemesis, a Hasegawa named after the fictional head of the samurai police Hasegawa Heizo, and a Touyama named after another real life Japanese detective Touyama Kagemoto.

Apparently the storyline is that, in the future, everybody’s got magic and that this leads to many more master criminals and master detectives, and all of them are magical. Yeah, that’s the ticket. And the kid detective agency is their after-school job, because all of them go to school at the Holmes Detective Gakuen.

This is either going to be a laugh riot, or I’m going to want to hurt somebody. Oh, man.

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New French Anime: Valerian and Laureline

The Japanese actually took the word “anime” from the French, so all French cartoons are anime. But this one is a French/Japanese co-production, so it’s anime twice over! 🙂 It’s actually not new, because it came out in 2005. (But it’s new to me.) The English dubbing was apparently done by Australians or English people, and it’s also known as Time Jam: Valerian and Laureline.

This one’s a time/space travel show. You know it’s French because in AD 2417, some guy is smoking in Mission Control. 🙂 Anyway, in the future, the time patrol guys are supposed to observe the prime directive. And of course, Midshipman Valerian is sorely tested when confronted with a medieval babe, the eponymous Laureline. (Especially since it’s a French show!) But he remains staunch and true — until all of a sudden, he’s not in any position to object to prime directive violations, and Laureline starts going at the prime directive violations herself. So when they get back, things are a little bit weird….

Normally, you’d hear me objecting to the female protagonist’s name. But Lorelind, -lina, -line, or variants thereof, is actually a plausible Frankish or Norman name.

I’m not sure if this is a bug or an intentional clue….

I have a few questions about the outfit of the Norman/Norse villain, whether Frankish jongleurs really dressed and acted just like jongleurs of the 1200’s, whether northern French musicians even had such a thing as a lute or double drone bagpipes at such an early date, use of the phrase “true love” when that was part of the Courtly Love Movement centuries later, use of the word “chivalrous”, and so on. I know most of the viewership really doesn’t care, but in a time travel show, this sort of thing raises real questions. If they’re all time travelers together or the timeline was already altered, then no prime directive problem, right? And geez, they wrote this in France, where courtly love stuff really is important literary history that any educated person should know! And the castle is a really advanced type of castle, even though this is Normandy in 912. And the Norman dude has vast numbers of guardsmen who use Welsh longbows and halberds. And large numbers of large siege weapons, all light enough to be hauled after fugitives as part of a chase. In 912. Just because they want to draw Norman guy as a Viking. Sigh.

Yet another show you can watch legally and for free on Crunchyroll.

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