Monthly Archives: March 2012

Folktales of Japan, Ep 1

There were three stories, all pretty good. “The Old Man Who Made the Trees Blossom” was a little different version. Shiro the magical dog could talk, but he still got whacked by the bad neighbor (offscreen). There’s a lot of focus on Buddhist/Shinto prayer for the dead, too, so it’s not a minor part of the story. Also poop was involved. (A lot of Japanese folktales involve poop in the authentic versions. Earthy humor thing.)

About 8 minutes in, there was “The Man Who Bought Dreams.” It emphasized honesty as much as cleverness, and it was a nice peaceful story. Very funny visualization of dreaming, though!

Finally there was “The Rat Sutra,” which is a funny story of a conman outsmarting himself. There are some explanations, but it’s heavily, heavily Buddhist. Buddhist like the Pope is Catholic.

Adults will definitely enjoy these fairy tales and folktales. The animation style is fun and cute, and you’ll learn a lot about Japanese culture.

Kids probably would like this too, but it’s subtitled, so you’ll have to explain it to kids who are too young to read. (Possibly by telling your own version of the story, which is entirely true to all folktale traditions.)

Also, there’s probably no way on earth you’re going to get out of watching this particular episode without a big religious discussion, unless you’re Buddhist or something. Kids differ about this, though. I read a lot of mythology and stuff from when I was a tiny kid, but it didn’t have any power to convince me; I just thought it was more interesting stories and folkways. Other kids, not so much. You parents know your own kids best.

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Dirty Pool, Linguistics-Style

The tiny tribal language of Piraha has been the subject of a lot of controversy over the years. I’ve got no particular brief for the guy doing the research. He’s a controversial guy.

But apparently, his academic opponents went whining to the Brazilian government, falsely claiming the man made racist comments, and have gotten the guy banned from returning to the Piraha at all. That’s a pretty stunning blow against linguistics research.

Geoffrey Pullum has an essay about his colleague’s years of harassment by his fellow scholars.

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Real-Time Wind Map

This is pretty neat. It’s a wind map of the US.

Slashdot fills you in on this thing, including images saved from previous days.

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Patton’s G-Daughter from Regina Laudis Monastery on EWTN Today

I feel kinda bad about pointing out that Mother Margaret-Georgina Patton is Patton’s n/i/e/c/e (sorry, that’s “granddaughter”!) when what’s really important about her personally was that after her conversion to Catholicism and entrance into the Regina Laudis Benedictine monastery, she’s become a pretty big authority on a bunch of things. But for good or ill, this woman has her Patton relatives stamped all over her face and bearing, as well as her given name. And it is cool to have that contact with a history longer than last Tuesday.

Anyway, you don’t get to see the Regina Laudis sisters all over the tube, so it’s pretty special. The show is called EWTN On Location, which is a grab-all title for conferences elsewhere that EWTN records and airs. This one was the Holy Trinity Apostolate’s Lenten Conference from back on March 10, up in Sterling Heights, Michigan. They’ll be showing two talks from 9-11 AM, and another two talks from 1-2:30. I don’t know when Mother Patton will be on, but it looks like maybe in the afternoon. One of her compadres, Mother Olivia-Frances Arnold, was also there.

UPDATE: Mothers Patton and Arnold are on right now. The topic is “Cultivating Sacred Space as a Place of Martyrdom: A Monastic Witness.” Monasticism is supposed to be white martyrdom; they follow the primitive Benedictine observance, so there’s a lot of work and a very simple life. Mother Patton doesn’t look as Pattonesque in her habit as she did in pictures of her in work clothes doing farm stuff! So now I don’t feel so bad.

Her talk addressed her army family, as part of talk about how monastics have to come to terms with their spiritual genealogy. It talks about how she rebelled against her beloved family as a teenager and even protested against Vietnam while her dad was serving there, but eventually had to learn to accept and love these parts of herself again. She also learned that not only had her grandfather’s army liberated the abbey’s founder, but in that moment God had called her to found an abbey in America. She also had to learn the relationship of Benedictine spirituality to Roman army life, organized by watches and obedience. But she also found a lot of holiness in the vow of stability and the abbey’s relationship to its land. (Not surprising, since army brats move around a lot.)

Anyway, the conference topic was “The Christian Vocation: The Call to Martyrdom.” There were talks on “White Martyrdom” (ie, asceticism and other ways to imitate martyrs if people aren’t killing you), “The Life and Spirituality of St. Francis de Sales,” and whatever the other speakers wanted to talk about.


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Vatican Social Justice Guys Write Nice Stuff about Businesspeople

The Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace don’t have this up on their website yet, but several sites are linking to the PDF provided in the meantime. So follow the link below and check out “The Vocation of the Christian Business Leader.” Just like any other kind of work, it’s a path to holiness if you do it right. That’s been Church teaching for a long time, but a lot of people haven’t heard it in the last forty years or so. Better late than never!

Via the National Review.

Amusingly enough, the PDF is set up in much the style of a tasteful business seminar packet, right down to the stock art and the sepia tones. There’s even an executive summary at the beginning, and a discernment question worksheet at the end. So I think somebody on staff has gone to a lot of these things. (Here’s to you, admin staffer!)

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Anime-Style Ad for Disney in Japan

Over at Crunchyroll.

Ah, Disney. Always in favor of a total Disney lifestyle….

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Congratulations, Fr. Fox!!!

Fr. Martin Fox is going to be the new Director of Priestly Formation!

This makes him the priest version of the adult education boss, or the in-service trainer guy at a workplace. His job is to arrange activities and classes that will help our diocese’s priests grow both in their professional skills and knowledge, and to help them work on their holiness. (Obviously, if you’re doing more of what God wants, obviously you’ll be more effective from God’s point of view. And nobody else’s point of view counts.) So retreats for holiness, and classes for knowliness. 🙂

He’s a very smart cookie and a good organizer, so this is right up his alley.

The sad thing is that this means Fr. Fox is being reassigned somewhere else. His two parishes in Piqua sounded like they were doing very well, but I’ve never been able to run up there and see them in action. Maybe we can do that before July 1, when all the priests change assignments, if they’ve been chosen to do so.

The happy thing is that, since Fr. Fox is not shy about being friendly to traditional Catholic stuff, it seems to send a signal that Archbishop Schnurr likes traditional stuff fine.

Via Over the Rhine and Into the Tiber!


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Copygrab Struck Down in Court!

For years and years, big companies have used crazy lawyers and bad automated software to search out, and take down for “copyright infringement,” individually created videos that had not even a pinch of anyone else’s materials included.

This week in Australia, an artist got justice — and monetary damages — for a takedown of his video trailer for his art film about New York. This is nice work, as it hits the company making the takedown claims instead of any kind of middleman.

Also, although it does set a precedent, it’s not a matter of a big media company. Rather, his New York camerawoman was claiming copyright to the footage, and of course it’s as nasty a trick to try a New York case in Australia as the other way around.

Also, although the Australian press release claims it’s back up, it’s not (at least in the US).

Via Slashdot.

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Dawn Eden on St. Ignatius Loyola as PTSD-affected Soldier

And as Mark Shea notes, there’s one of Eden’s patented headline puns.

Anyway, Dawn Eden points out that yes, Loyola’s amazingly focused energy and purpose didn’t just come out of a conversion experience, or even from reading a rousing bio of his namesake, St. Ignatius the martyr. It also came from combat, being a POW, and having his leg nearly cut off.

(Similarly, St. Francis wasn’t just some rich kid who decided to be a merry minstrel hippie for God; he too fought in war and spent time as a medieval POW. There are a ton of saints who came out of various eras’ warfare and trauma.)

It’s related to her new book My Peace I Give You, which is about some of the ways saints have dealt with trauma. It’s a book aimed at people who were victims of sexual abuse of various kinds.

I haven’t been keeping up with Dawn Eden, so I didn’t realize that her blog was back in action. She has some nice videos of her spring break trip to Rome.

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Folktales of Japan – new Spring anime series coming soon on Crunchyroll

For those of you who like some cultural folktale fun, there’s a new Japanese folktale series starting this Saturday, on TV Tokyo and Crunchyroll. In English, it’s going to be called Folktales of Japan. In Japan, it’s Furusato Saisei Nihon no Mukashi Banashi, which means something like Hometown Reunion: Japan’s Long Ago Chat. (“Mukashi, mukashi” means something like “Long, long ago,” and it’s one of the traditional ways to start a Japanese story.)

Anyway, it’s apparently supposed to be a standard issue anime adaptation of classic Japanese folktales and fairy tales. The main difference is that they intend to include stories collected from the part of Japan hardest hit by the tsunami, both to cheer up people from that area and educate Japanese from other parts of the country about this part of their culture. However, we are also guaranteed a dose of the good old Japanese standards, like “Momotaro” (the boy found in a peach), “The Bamboo Cutter and the Moon Princess,” and so forth. (A lot of Japanese fairy tales feature childless couples who receive mysterious children, just like in our “Tom Thumb” or Russia’s “Snow Maiden” stories.)

The first episode is supposed to be “The Old Man Who Made Withered Trees Blossom,” though, and that features wicked neighbors who kill an old couple’s smart little dog. The wicked neighbor is punished in the end and the smart little dog still helps his master even when dead, like Cinderella’s mom’s grave being the source of her fairy tale dresses in Grimm’s Fairy Tales. But there’s no denying that this is a bit edgy for the really little kids.

There’s some suggestion that on TV, Shiro the dog may just be stolen instead of killed, and that the old couple is shown as being helped by some kind of fairy instead of the spirit of their dog. But the episode isn’t out yet, so I don’t know. So you’ll probably want to wait and watch the episode before making any decisions.

The show’s not going to disappear off Crunchyroll in a day, either, so you can pick just the episodes you find suitable. Some of the stories you might be able to find ahead of time in your local library or online.

A lot of the stories mentioned are included in The Japanese Fairy Book, by Yei Theodora Ozaki, 1903. Illustrations by Kakuzo Fujiyama. (This is the same lady who was married to the Japanese mayor who sent us all those cherry blossoms in DC.) Audio version at Librivox.

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The Pope’s Havana Homily on Freedom and Truth

My cable and Internet was out for about sixteen hours the other night and day, so I didn’t see the Pope’s Havana Mass to be able to discuss it. So here’s a post (with a news video) from The American Catholic. Here’s the English text at, with video of the homily.

I guess it wasn’t enough to reconcile the Babalu Blog crowd, but it certainly didn’t seem to be anything particularly gladdening to a dictator’s heart. Nor was it mealymouthed about proclaiming liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof.

A theologian with patristic/medieval training, bringing up the three young men in the fiery furnace while standing in an oppressed nation, has already chosen the nuclear option. But it went on from there. He preached freedom and truth. He compared Castro’s Cuba to Pontius Pilate’s cruel and weak governorship, right before Holy Week. He preached up, down, sideways, and backward, to the faithful and to the oppressors. He laid it all out very plainly, in his most easy to understand style.

I honestly don’t know what more you could ask for. This seems like the kind of homily that would set off medieval riots, for goodness’ sake. No wonder Castro’s forces are cracking down so hard now.

(Of course, the thing that really made the Babalu crowd angry was that the Pope met with Castro and Chavez. But being the Vicar of Christ means meeting with a lot of horrible murderers with big wallets or countries of their own, just like being a priest means that you have to spend a lot of time trying to fish for souls among the scum of the earth. Castro and Chavez are evil sheep, but they are humans and even got baptized once. You can’t be Peter and expect Jesus to be happy if you don’t at least make an effort to hook the piranha fish back into Peter’s boat before they die.)

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A Patristic Meme’s Discussion of Copyright

The little angel and little devil on the protagonist’s shoulders discuss Game of Thrones availability. (Via Walking the Path of Madness.)

Obligatory Bleat of Distress: Not sure why you’d want to watch a dramatization of a fantasy version of the Wars of the Roses, especially since (unlike the real wars) it’s so boring that the writer had to throw in tons of nonsensical sex and violence. I’m a fast reader and determined, and I barely managed to get through Book 1 without killing anyone. Spending an afternoon in that world was too much. And yet some people love the books and the TV series. Incomprehensible.

Anyway, the angel/devil on shoulder meme really does go back to the days of the early Christians, and is closely connected to the “Two Cities” idea from Tyconius. The Church is the City of God and is opposed by the “City” of the devil — the wheat and the tares growing together in the same field. So the Church has good Christians and bad ones, and Christians themselves may act like wheat sometimes and like tares at other times. This tied together with the idea that all humans have a guardian angel (as seen in Jesus’ comment about the little ones’ angels and in Peter’s escape from prison). So it suggested that many people, perhaps all, have a sort of personal “guardian devil” also.

This is a little depressing for religious art nowadays to portray (also, it’s not doctrine, just a theory that used to be popular), but for comedy it’s a great idea!


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Local News Should Not Have Cliffhangers

Okay, I’m annoyed.

There was a statewide tornado drill this morning at 9:50, to “increase tornado awareness.” Unfortunately, they didn’t do a good job of telling people it was coming, and my cable and telephone were out this morning.

So when I heard a tornado siren go off this morning, in the middle of a clear blue sky, I was Not Happy. However, I did have the local radio on, and they didn’t have any tornado warning, so after a good long while, I figured it was just some stupid drill and didn’t sprint for the basement. And sure enough, it was a drill. There wasn’t any reason for it, because in this town we have the old Civil Defense noon siren testing on the first day of every month. So I was Not Happy.

My cable came back on a few minutes later, and I was just watching the noon local news report on the statewide tornado drill. The reporter was all SHOCKED! and HORRIFIED! that Xenia didn’t participate.

(Okay, stupid out of town reporter chick. You deal with all the PTSD attacks when they set off Xenia tornado sirens at a random time as a “drill”. You deal with all the frantic residents first, and all the angry residents afterward. Seriously, feel free to get the heck out of Dodge, if you haven’t bothered to learn the facts of life after having a news job here for more than a year!)

So at the end of the report, the anchorman says that on the evening news, there will be a statement from the Xenia city administration about why they didn’t participate. But they’re just going to say the SAME THING they say every year, which is basically that the rest of the state doesn’t have PTSD attacks when they hear the tornado siren, and that Xenia has as much tornado awareness as it could possibly need.

But instead, they are going to have a cliffhanger, so that any morons out there who don’t know the facts of Xenia life will think badly of the town’s tornado awareness.

I expect better of this particular local news station, so I suspect it’s all the stupid reporter chick’s idea. But in that case, it’s a bad idea, and they shouldn’t have let her do it.


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On the Bright Side….

I just found a couple of St. Augustine quotations that were stuck into St. Isidore, and all courtesy of that silly Golden Compass guy and an old book of the Fathers that’s not the ANF one. So that’s working out.

It’s actually kind of weird, though. You do this long enough, and you start to figure out what’s probably a quotation.

But on the less bright side, I’m disagreeably surprised. Neither La Throop’s translation, nor the expensive Cambridge University Press one, nor even the venerable Migne’s Latin edition, includes the footnotes for this. And yet it’s a famous quote, given that it even got socked into the Catechism and comes from Augustine’s big book o’ psalm “enarrationes”. Izzy was obviously working with Augie in hand, too, because a few paragraphs later, he comes in with another quote from just a few lines further down, and he uses the same psalm quotes that Augie was using.

Argh. Argh. Argh. Argh. Argh. Scholar people don’t love me.

And you know what this means? It means I’m going to have to go back and look up more quotes, because obviously you just can’t depend on anybody. I like to be useful to the world, but there is no way an unschooled person like myself should be finding all these lacunae. People have been careless.

Argh. Argh. Argh. Argh. Argh.

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