Monthly Archives: March 2011

Hoping Really Hard This Is a Hoax.

Also trying to keep my gorge down.

There’s a company named Senomyx that has developed a way to “taste test” artificial flavors by isolating individual human taste receptors and seeing what sets off which receptors. Fine so far.

Unfortunately, it seems that they’re not just scraping cells off somebody’s tongue. They’re using aborted babies’ taste receptors. And you know, I don’t care how many generations of cell life you go back before you get to the actual baby. That’s just disgusting and loathsome and borderline cannibalistic, and I’m not sure I ever want to eat anything ever again.


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On Account of the Bishop?

Our buddy St. Beatus of Liebana (or one of his sources, anyway) is talking about the angels of the seven churches, and he seems to think that the “angels” (which grammar has being sent “to the church”, not being “of the church”) are actually a kenning for the bishops of the churches. (And since this would have been before bishops designated priests of separate parishes, and every Christian in town would have been going to the one Mass with the one Bishop, it makes sense to compare their teaching authority and place at the altar to an angel.) This isn’t an unusual interpretation (which shows I wasn’t paying enough attention, apparently).

Not from Beatus… but it also seems that in the olden days in synagogues, the rabbi guy was called “the angel” or “the overseer/bishop”, and the thing he wore over and around his head was often called a “veil”. This is consonant with Christian bishops (and later, priests), who cover their heads at various bits of Mass.

So if Paul tells women in the churches to cover their heads for the sake of the angels, it could be “as a sign of respect for the bishop, who has been sent to you as God’s apostle/ambassador to teach you”, or something along those lines. You would then extend this respect to priests, etc. It would probably be interesting to compare and contrast with what people learning from philosophers and other teachers did, or what women visiting the houses of authority figures did. But it makes a lot of sense to me.

However, the obvious problem is that it’s on account of “angels” in the plural, and that I don’t see anybody else arguing this. So probably I’m all wet. 🙂

My other thought is that since John says Christ gives us the “exousia” (power) to become children of God, and since the angels in Ezekiel and Revelation go around looking for people who have the sign of the Tau sheepmark on their heads, and since being baptized is sort of like being espoused anyway, maybe the “exousian” head covering thing was connected to Baptism.

But in context in 1 Corinthians, the thing seems to be a lot simpler, honestly. The head of the man is Christ and the head of the woman is a man, so men pray with their Christ-head uncovered because it gets them closer to God (even though that’s the opposite of Jewish tradition, because in Christ we hope to see God face to face), but women pray with their man-head covered because otherwise you’d be walking around like a nekkid dude before God. (Jewish tradition isn’t big on praying starkers, as far as I can tell.) And apparently, if you’re a woman with no husband or father or male authority, you do it on account of the bishops, who are like your dads. But again, this may be too simple, because it’s certainly not the way people seem to take it! Probably the simplest way to understand it is that Paul is just trying hard to explain why Christian women still are supposed to pray with head covered, like Jewish women, when Christian men don’t have to wear prayer shawls and head coverings anymore, and that the mystical explanation may just be harder to understand than a simple regulation.

Aeh, well, don’t really care except from a decorum POV, but it’s interesting to poke around these things.


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Fathers Indexed Alphabetically by Subject

There are more recent books which take a similar approach and probably have a broader selection. And which are in English instead of Latin. But this is still a very handy book, especially since Google actually seems to have managed to index it for search fairly well. (That’s how I found it, anyway.)

So, from Fr. Philippus a S. Jacobus, the series Sanctorum Patrum Bibliotheca Maxima Lugdunensis, published 1719. Here’s Volume I, which includes an alphabetical list of all the authors excerpted, a list of the subject headings found in Volume I (A-L), and then the subject headings and excerpts themselves. Here’s Volume II (M-Z). I think they refer back to the Fathers series printed in Lyons and edited by De La Bigne, but I don’t know for sure. Either way, it’s a neat way to find stuff on various subjects.

Alas, the abbot and bishop Drogo Laudunensis is not our friend St. Drogo, patron of coffee.

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Best Mispronunciation Ever!

If you go to church enough, I’m sure you’ve heard some doozies of oral typos. I know I have. The sad thing is, they usually happen to the people who really really practice hard beforehand. The people who really don’t know what they’re saying — they just tend to stumble over their tongues a bit.

But this week, we had a masterwork.

The Gospel reading was about the Samaritan woman, in a town of Samaria.

What came out was, “He came to a town of Samurai….”


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St. Gregory the Great — Analyst of People

I got a lot of respect for the people knowledge of St. Gregory the Great when I read his book Pastoral Care, but here’s another example of his shrewdness from a translation of his Job commentary, Moralia in Job. (It was quoted in Beatus’ Revelation commentary.) This one explains a lot about the methods of Maciel and other cultish, hypocritical spiritual teachers:

….After the manner of the sacred speech, we call preaching the words of life, “to sow”. And the Prophet says, “Blessed are ye that sow upon all waters.” [Isaiah 32:20] Of course, he saw preachers who handed down the words of life like celestial bread grains to the people far and wide, “sow over all waters”. But to “eat” is to be filled with good works’. As the Lord says: “My food is to do the will of Him that sent me.” [John 4:34]

Therefore, if the things that [the preacher] announced, he forbore to do, he says, “Let me sow, and let another eat” [Job 31:8], as if he said openly, ‘What my mouth speaks, not I but another will do.’ Of course the preacher who is out of harmony with the behavior [preached] by his voice, goes hungry while sowing what another eats; since, when by crooked conduct he is made empty of the uprightness of the words of life, he is not fed by his seed.

And because often the disciples hear good things in vain, when those things are destroyed through the examples of actions in the master’s life, it is rightly joined with “And let my offspring be rooted out.” For the offspring of teachers is rooted out when those who are born by his word are killed by his example; forthose he begets by watchful tongue, he kills by negligence of life…

From which, when they live reprehensibly and are unable to make disciples of praiseworthy life, they generally try to attract others’ [disciples] to themselves; so that in men’s judgments they may excuse the evil they do by showing themselves to have good followers, and cover up their deadly negligence by the life of their subordinates.

That’s from Book 21, Chapter 10 (the bit about Job 31:8).

We often see this today, where cults and nasty groups often do seem to cherrypick nice, hardworking people, so that other people will see the good followers and assume that the leaders can’t be all that bad. Whereas really it’s a wolf using a flock of nice docile sheep to cover what he’s doing, hiding himself among his prey. Or, less obviously evil, you get someone covering up his own lacks by getting a bunch of people better than himself and urging them on with big talk, so they won’t notice he’s not doing anything but talking.

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Useful Pouch

As a gamer and a former member of the SCA, naturally I have been brainwashed to think that it’s a good idea to keep things in a drawstring pouch, possibly hanging said pouch off my belt. Since the only problem with my Sansa Clip+ mp3 player is that I don’t have a good case to keep it in, I was happy to discover that my local drugstore carried microfiber pouches like this, designed for keeping your glasses in.

The idea is that the glasses are cleaned off by the microfiber interior. This also works perfectly well for an mp3 player screen, or indeed for a cellphone or any other small gadget you want to keep clean and unscratched.
There are pouches like this which are supposed to be specially designed for various electronic devices; but if you buy at the drugstore, it’ll probably be a lot cheaper.

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Relic Spotting!

Hey, hey! 60 Minutes is interviewing Archbishop Dolan of NY, and they showed the archbishops’ mausoleum in the crypt under St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And guess who I saw right in the wall with them!

The body of Venerable Pierre Toussaint! Awesome!

His body’s been there since 1990, but it’s the first picture I’ve seen of the crypt or his place in it.


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Translation Fun

I have started another blog to run my translation of St. Beatus of Liebana’s Commentary on the Apocalypse. Right now, Beatus is pretty much all a transcription (with some simplification of the vocabulary, and a few additions from other Fathers or Beatus himself) of St. Apringius of Beja’s commentary. There will be more goodies and differences later, as Beatus’ book starts to break new ground. (You also get to experience my l33t Latin skillz, which will be a punishment to medievalists for not translating this themselves.)

Anyway, Apringius is pretty interesting all by his lonesome. (I found a copy of the 1991 Latin/Spanish edition of Apringius, so as to know what’s Apringius and what’s not. I haven’t finished checking some of my earlier posts against Apringius, unfortunately.)

Beatus alternates between quoting a passage (which he calls a “historia”, meaning in this case “account” or even “scene”), and providing the explanation (“explanatio”) for the individual verses. In the Beatus manuscripts, each historia is illustrated. On the historia posts on my blog, I link those Beatus mss illuminations which happen to be online (a pretty good number). So it should be very handy for people who want to consult Beatus for religious purposes or just to study art history.

Oh, and my convention is that Revelation passages are bolded, other Scripture passages are italicized, and every other quote is just in quotes. I should probably have the same words in red that the manuscripts do, because that would be cool, but I don’t want to guess because I haven’t seen any actual facsimiles of whole manuscripts.

So if you want to read some medieval/patristic Bible commentary or look at purty pictures, head on over to St. Beatus of Liebana’s Bloggentary, over at

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Royal Irish Regimental Mascot News

Insert embarrassing noises responding to extreme cuteness here.

Finn comes from Driftcot in Cambridgeshire.

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Spring Anime Guesstimates

The spring anime previews are out, and once again it looks like a mixture of blah, bleh, noheckno, and Cool!

Ao no Exorcist not only looks like an interesting dark fantasy show, but goes for the Catholic card. 15 year old Okamura Rin is always getting into fights, but otherwise lives a pretty normal life in a house for orphaned kids. But then the kids’ legal guardian, Fr. Fujimoto Shirou, is killed while doing an exorcism — shortly after being forced to reveal that Rin is actually a half-human son of Satan. (Cue that old anti-demon Marvel Comic title from the 1970’s — SON OF SATAN!) He takes this as a sort of career counseling, and joins up with a multi-faith group of demon-fighting knights. (Presumably because they don’t have minor seminaries anymore.) It’s apparently one of those shows that switches off between school comedy and drama or horror. I’ll watch at least a few episodes if it comes my way.

Hyouge Mono is apparently a somewhat humorous slice of life story about a historical figure, a samurai interested in the tea ceremony and not so much in normal samurai status games. It’s set in the Warring States period of Japanese history, and features Sen no Rikyuu himself as a mentor.

Sket Dance is a show about, basically, a Japanese school’s non-tech help-desk club. Most Japanese schools apparently have such a “club”, which is supposed to help out on school maintenance and be around for kids to report building structural problems to them; they are pretty much considered unfun and uncool. The Sket Dance manga imagined kids in such a club repurposing themselves to help fellow students with all their problems.

Steins Gate: time-travel show. Tons of paradoxes.

Showa Monogatari: The story of a typical Japanese family in 1964, the year Japan hosted the Olympics. Basically The Wonder Years, except early enough not to include hippies.

Hanasaku Iroha: Another slice of life story, this one about contemporary kids working their first summer jobs at an old-fashioned Japanese inn. (The kind with tatami mats, sliding screens, etc.) I’m a sucker for all this yamato super-Japanese stuff, as long as it doesn’t come with super-subservience and so forth.

Tiger and Bunny: Superheroes with corporate logos, fighting for justice and trying to collect the most good-deed points per year. It’s Sunrise, so it might be good.

Oh, and there’s going to be an educational anime on NHK for business people, all about a high school girl’s baseball team that accidentally gets a Peter Drucker book on management instead of a book on baseball. Team productivity stories ensue. (To teach you all about Drucker’s theories, of course.) Either it will be cute and informative or it will be unintentionally hilarious, so I see no downside here.

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Hope You Had a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I took off from work, because the weather was supposed to be good today and because I was feeling fried. Didn’t really get out to hear any music, though. I did take my parents out to lunch; and we ate Irish food and drank Irish beer and talked, which was nice. I also took a nice walk out in the afternoon sun; it got up to something like 65. Very pleasant. Almost hot, with the sun shining!

Unfortunately, I was so tired in the morning that I didn’t get out to Mass (and I missed noon Mass because I was taking out my parents). And then I napped some more in the late afternoon/early evening. I didn’t get any of my projects done, although my body did seem to appreciate the rest. So yeah, this was pretty much a total holiday.

Unfortunately, it turned out after lunch that it had also been a bad news day. My little brother’s rescue horse has been pretty healthy since all the initial health problems caused by neglect were solved. But he’s had a pretty fair number of hoof problems since then, for various reasons, and he was a pretty sick horse for some months this summer/fall. Now things have apparently come to a head; he’s gotten laminitis in one hoof (aka founder), probably thanks to previously undiagnosed Cushing’s disease (which apparently is fairly common in dogs and horses). This isn’t a death sentence, necessarily; horses can be rehabilitated from founder and go on to live healthy lives. But it’s pretty scary, nonetheless, and my little brother is pretty sad about it.

Anyway, if you want to listen to some more Irish music after today, the “Sounds of the Season” cable music channel has a very good mix this year, and will probably keep playing Irish music till the end of this month (if previous years are a guide). You can also listen to it online at

I’m going to bed now.

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Jerry Pournelle Says Don’t Panic.

Jerry Pournelle summary of the Fukushima story, as seen by people who know nukes.

MIT summary of news
, as also seen by people who know nukes.

It seems that a lot of Japanese who bought stuff up in the same way Americans hit stores when snow is coming, are now bringing the extra stuff to donation stations or passing it out among their neighbors.

Japanese disaster planners are feeling a bit embarrassed at the moment, because they had assumed that emergency workers would be able to rustle up food for people by… GRABBING STUFF OUT OF ABANDONED HOUSES’ FREEZERS AND PANTRIES and bringing it back to the shelters! (Welcome to the East, where your stuff is everybody’s stuff under certain conditions!) Anyway, there are obviously no houses, or no houses with undestroyed food in them, in many areas, which is why those millions of company-donated servings of Cup-O-Ramen were suddenly all needed when the government didn’t think they would be. Now distribution is more a problem than donation, because of course plenty of people have jumped in, over there, but the roads and the rivers and seas are not in real good condition at the moment. But I expect that people won’t go hungry, although they may be eating cold ramen in a lot of cases.

Emergency scrounge planning. Seriously, that is hilarious. 🙂

The rolling blackouts are apparently being held off in most of the country by a push for voluntary energy conservation by people lucky enough to have fared okay in the quake and tsunami. TEPCO started it in their area, but then the geeks took over, dubbing it Operation Yashima. So far, so good.

Steven Den Beste found this nice drawing somewhere. It’s dedicated to the current US military assistance to the Japanese Army’s amazing efforts in the tsunami areas.

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Pre-Vatican II People Weren’t Ignorant

Again and again, you used to hear Catholic speakers imply that, before Vatican II, all was darkness and ignorance and lack of schooling, and… oh, no… they expected you to remember things you were taught. Horrors.

I swear to you, there is nothing I’ve ever found out about Bible stuff, in my reading, that I’ve mentioned to my mom, that she didn’t already know from her Catholic schooling. Seriously. You have to get super-abstruse for her to even have to search around in her memory, but even then, one of her nun teachers mentioned it at some point. It is flippin’ scary.

Which is to say that, yes, I’m reading Part 2 of Jesus of Nazareth. Not super-abstruse, but full of insightful points that nobody ever made to me before! I’m stopping to let it percolate.

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Female Baby Name Idea

“Peristera” is NT/Koine Greek for “dove”. (As in “the Holy Spirit descended like a dove”.) It’s even a noun of feminine gender, so you won’t have nitpickers like me making annoying comments.

The only disadvantage is that it also means pigeon (a female pigeon), it being a broad sort of word, and modern Greeks usually do mean pigeon when they use it. But it’s pretty and it’s in the Bible, and there are already Greek women who have that name.

So unless you know a lot of sarcastic Greek people with a vendetta against “flying rats”, I think you’re safe. 🙂

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