Monthly Archives: April 2012

Gryson’s New Critical Edition of Beatus

1. Yay for Ohiolink! It’s here! Both volumes! They seem pretty sturdily bound, so I won’t be afraid to photocopy whatever’s needed. Gryson includes more in the way of section numbers and sentence numbers, so that it will be easier for people to quote Beatus and find quotes from him. This is a Good Thing.

2. Forewords with all kinds of manuscript discussion: French. They take up about a quarter of the first volume, so I’m sure there’s a lot of meaty information. The table of contents is at the back of Volume 2, as is the European style. There’s also a table of scriptural citations, another of non-scripture quotes, and another of the illustration pages.

3. Beatus text: in the original Latin. Critical apparatus: tons more of it.

4. Footnotes for quoted sources: at the very bottom of the page, and in Latin. Unfortunately, the way they’re set up typographically, the footnotes are very difficult to parse out at a glance. Maybe I’ll get used to the format, but right now I’m having difficulties. (Possibly it’s the house style or a French format.)

5. Illustrations seem to be all black and white reproductions, unless there are color plates I’m not seeing. They are nice, but rather small. In the case of diagrams and tables, they are too small to make out, which doesn’t seem useful.

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Mandrake Fruit!

The Cloisters’ garden blog has a nifty picture of a mandrake and its unripe fruit, and the mandrake in bloom earlier.

(As you may recall from Genesis, Rachel was very fond of mandrakes, and Leah used to her bargaining advantage some mandrake fruits that her kids found.)

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The Archeology of Medieval Sinusitis

If you have really, really bad sinus problems, it changes your maxillary sinus bones.

So yes, there are medieval sinusitis archeology studies.

“Chronic maxillary sinusitis in medieval Sigtuna, Sweden”.

“Maxillary sinusitis in Medieval Chichester, England”.

“Comparative study of the prevalence of maxillary sinusitis in later medieval urban and rural populations in Northern England

So if you have sinus problems, now you know your ancestors survived sinus long enough to reproduce…. 🙂

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Why I’ll Never Be a Professional Apologist

Apparently when people try to claim that Jesus was somehow still alive after being crucified and having His heart speared, and you point out that not only was he dead, but as dead as a package of meat in the supermarket (given that whole “blood and water” thing) — it offends people.

I’m not really sure how somebody flirting with Docetism can be offended by that. But I guess that’s the whole point of all the Docetist-type heresies. People would rather believe that Jesus faked His death or never had a body or somehow managed to escape suffocation and bleeding to death through hibernation. They don’t want to believe in Christ dead on the Cross. They want the befores and afters, because they are prettier. They don’t want the scene inbetween, even though that’s the crux of matters.

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Lyrid Meteor Shower and Pony Royal Wedding Finale!

Pretty good weekend stuff, folks.

Lyra explains the Lyrid meteor shower.

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Allegedly Based on a True Story….

There’s a lot of bronies in the military. Here’s the fanfic version of something that may or may not have happened to one of them. You do hear stories like this going around, but no definite names and dates. The guy who wrote it isn’t anybody it happened to, or even anybody in the military, though.

So in this case, it’s “fanfic” in the seldom-used meaning of “fiction about fans.”

“The Pony in My Pocket”

As always, I make no guarantees or recommendations about the rest of the fanfic world, or other stories on its host site — just this particular story.

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Ah, the Internet’s great moments of ecumenical dialogue….

I just ran across a page written by some flavor of Orthodox (Greek, Russian, who knows?) which was decrying Marian apparitions. Mostly because such things only ever happened in the West, and they were connected with “Latin” pious practices, which obviously meant they were crap. (Especially if you take the most doubtful and unapproved apparitions as typical, and ignore the well-established ones.) Well, except for the Zeitoun apparitions, which were probably okay because they were seen by Copts… except that nope, the pagan practices of Egypt obviously must have raised their heads, and it was really some kind of Isis thing, because they weren’t Orthodox. (And pointing out that people who see apparitions usually see saints and Jesus as well as Mary — well, that doesn’t count, because it doesn’t fit the author’s thesis.)

All throughout the Bible, people run into apparition-like phenomena. In the New Testament, probably the most influential examples are the linked stories of St. Stephen, seeing Jesus, and St. Paul’s conversion, hearing Jesus. We also have the vision or visit of heaven by St Paul, and St. John’s Apocalypse. I trust nobody’s going to argue that those are unbiblical Western delusions of seeing pagan gods….

Those sorts of experiences did not end with St. John. From the very earliest period, we have the Shepherd of Hermas, for example. Every so often, either a single person or a group of people would have some kind of vision, either brief or long, either singly or repeated. It wasn’t common; it wasn’t uncommon. Most churches of early Christians have some such story attached to their history.

The Orthodox don’t seem to have ditched the story that the Emperor Constantine saw a vision of the Cross, and was told “In this sign you will conquer.” I trust nobody’s claiming that was a vision of the pagan god of axles and angles?

Now, anybody who has read the history of the later Roman Empire knows that plenty of people in the heyday of Constantinople saw Mary, as well as other saints, warrior angels, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and it wouldn’t surprise me if somebody had visions of the Father dwelling in unapproachable light. A lot of times, Byzantine apparitions happened while they were traipsing some wonderworking icon around in a procession. There was tons of this stuff; it wasn’t obscure.

Now, you could argue that mass pilgrimages and excitement about Marian apparitions, and other apparitions, is new and relatively modern. But stuff like Our Lady of the Pillar and St. James of Compostela, and similar Eastern pilgrimage sites, would tend to argue against that.

So an Orthodox guy saying Marian apparitions are all a Western and recent phenomenon is profoundly silly, ahistorical, and insulting to his own Eastern traditions. But no, it’s more important to try and keep Orthodox people away from Western Latin cooties than to understand Orthodoxy. (Though of course, it’s also possible that the author was some kind of Protestant convert to orthodoxy, and was influenced by anti-Marian rhetoric from his old church.)

I suppose the thing to do is to go comb through stuff and find records of Eastern and very early apparitions, so Orthodox folks won’t be left ignorant that this stuff is part of their Christian heritage too.


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Seven Years of Blessing

Forgot it was the 7th anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, gloriously reigning. Here’s Fr. Z’s post. The news clip features possibly the best translation ever of “Habemus papam” — “We got us a pope!”

Of course, what I remember of that day is not just watching pope coverage. I was mostly busy being sick as a dog, with occasional bouts of trying to offer it up. I finally got most of it out and fell asleep about an hour before the election, and woke up again not long after the first excitement. I’m pretty sure I did see the announcement live, and get the blessing. (I would’ve anyway, because the TV stayed on while I slept. Goodness knows how I slept through all the bells, but I sleep through a lot.) So yeah, I watched it mostly on replay, but it made me outstandingly happy all the same.

Over the last couple years before the election, I had gradually figured out that the usual US media view of Cardinal Ratzinger was unfair. (As my dad said recently, when rereading a Fr. Greeley novel with the usual late Nineties anti-CDF ranting, “He didn’t like Cardinal Ratzinger much, did he? Didn’t think he was going to be his boss, I guess.”) But I didn’t start reading his books until maybe a few months before John-Paul II died. The books were amazing, and so I wasn’t surprised by Ratzinger’s amazing homily at JPII’s funeral. But though I didn’t count him out entirely, I was pretty sure the cardinals would elect somebody younger. Wrong.

I had missed pretty much all the previous election coverage for JPI and II, or it had all happened just before I started reading the newspapers every day. I vaguely remembered seeing the JPII news when I got home from school, I think. But I was really young back then. Seeing a new pope elected made me feel young again, in a weird way, or perhaps timeless. Remembrance of mortality was all around us, of course, but the Church is always young and growing. We all felt that, I think. The cardinals standing in the windows grinning felt it. It is the power of Peter’s office, for his successors to strengthen the brethren both in their going and coming.

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Japanese Catholics Strike Back!

The Japanese love literary references, and tend to make points with them. For obvious reasons (ie, not being well-read in Japanese), they tend to go right over the heads of Western fans of Japanese culture.

There’s a very nifty, very pointed one in Japan’s 1948 Catholic hymnal.

Back in the 1700’s, the poet Motoori Norinaga wrote a famous patriotic waka poem, which was infamously referenced by the kamikaze pilot unit names. The poem used two poetic names for Japan: Shikishima (the outspread islands) and Yamato (mountain gate). It went like this:

Yamato heart —
If anybody asks about it —
In the rising sun, fragrant
Are the mountain-cherry blossoms.

There’s two ways to take this. Norinaga really loved cherry blossoms, and wrote hundreds of poems about them. He loved their ephemeralism, also. But there was also a poetic tradition of comparing fallen soldiers to fallen cherry petals, and the WWII Japanese nationalists loved taking it that way. So the kamikaze interpretation is like taking a patriotic poem about apple pie and autumn leaves, and turning it into a poem about how it’s sweet to go splat in a suicide dive for your country.

So the 1948 Catholic hymnal struck back with a hymn to the Japanese martyrs, which started with the verse:

Yamato spirit —
The bloom shines
In the Kingdom of God!

The rest is a lot too difficult for me, but it’s all about how the martyrs that were killed by the Japanese government really died for the salvation of Japan. Very cool.

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Kids on the Slope: Catholic Anime Content!

It turns out (in episode 2) that two of the native Kyushu characters in Kids on the Slope are also Catholics. The women wear chapel veils in the early Sixties and they have a Lourdes grotto outside church. Sentaro wears a rosary around his neck in the classic Hispanic style of old-school Japanese Catholics, but Ritsuko has been taught the Irish/modern idea that rosaries aren’t to be worn around the neck. Nice documentation of culture clash! Also, check out the stained glass with the classic four-petal “cross” flower motif, which was invented and used by the Hidden Christians.

Anybody think Sentaro’s discerning a vocation? There’s something about the way he cut off Ritsuko from telling his business, and then they introduced a love interest for him…. I mean, not to be paranoid and don’t quote me, but I bet we’re going to have conflict between potential vocations here. If he were a singer, I’d be more certain; but a drummer’s a bit unusual. Maybe he wants to be a monk or a friar? A jazz drummer seems kinda Franciscan.

The hymn they sing in Kids on the Slope during the church scene, but it’s to the tune of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Apparently there’s a famous secular folksong set to this tune by its author, Daisui Sugitani, called “Hoshi no Yo” (Stars of Night), but there’s also a hymn translation that’s wildly popular at Western-style Japanese weddings, “Itsu Ku Shimi Fu Kaki”. Here are the lyrics, ,and that seems to be what they’re singing.

Related/unrelated content:

In Japan, March 17 is celebrated as the Feast of the Discovery of the Japanese Christians.

Japanese Catholic hymn: “Watashi wa Hukkutushi”, plus a setting of the Ordinary for a Japanese Mass in the vernacular. Both composed by Saburo Takada.

MIDI tunes and .gifs of a couple of Japanese hymnals, by the same person who does the Roma Eterna hymn website. 1966 hymnal. 1966 and 1948 hymnals (scroll down).

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Whooping Cough Vaccine Wears Off Kids Too Fast

Seems most of those California kids who caught whooping cough actually were vaccinated.

Now, obviously this doesn’t mean it’s smart to leave kids unvaccinated. But you can’t have a full-fledged disease breakout with the tiny percentage of kids whose parents don’t vaccinate by choice, which is why I was puzzled before. (For those unfamiliar with the vagaries of US health care… Vaccines fall under public health, so there’s nobody who doesn’t get vaccinated for money reasons. Most counties provide a lot of vaccination opportunities, or require kids to be vaccinated to enter their programs.)

So it was good to find out that whooping cough vaccine in general weakens in pre-teens, or at least that it did so in the batches received years ago by this age group of kids in California. But it’s scary, because this means we may have a massive whooping cough problem in the next few years.


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Your Daily Dose of Erol Otus, D and D Illustrator Extraordinaire

Erol Otus is one of those artists with a peculiar genius for drawing the odd, the eerie, the otherworldly, and the grotesque. Things that would irritate me no end in other artists (that weird drippy Seventies style of line, for instance, and his hallucinogenic color schemes) were perfectly fitting for his style, and could not be imagined any other way. His peculiar talents were put to good use by TSR back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and are forever associated with the good ol’ days of Dungeons and Dragons, not to mention other games.

Here’s a brand spanking new illustration he’s just done for the upcoming publication of Dwimmermount, a mega-dungeon campaign by the old school DM and Grognardia blogger, James Maliszewski.

Man, that is some kind of creepy. Exactly the kind of hazard a dungeon party both does and doesn’t want to run into, behind some hidden door in some dark corridor in the heart of a Swiss-cheesed mountain.

It makes my imagination feel like it’s taken some vitamins.

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Sarah Hoyt on Mixing Tobacco Use with Alcohol

Ah, the things we don’t know that other people don’t think need to be said.

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The Steak Is a Lie

Why there ain’t no such thing as Kobe beef or wagyu beef in this country, but there is such a thing as customers getting scammed.

Via Ace of Spades.

I’d feel happy about this, except that Obama was eating a lot of fake “Kobe” beef with my good money.

To a certain extent, I sympathize with the traditional American use of food names as somewhat generic. If somebody says you’re drinking champagne, of course it’s not from Champagne unless it’s labeled as French champagne. Budweiser from the US doesn’t have to be Budweiser from Prague. I’m not going to give up Parmesan cheese just because it’s not Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Also, EU food regulations have often acted to strangle several regional food traditions about how to make X food, in favor of the one region that did a lot of paperwork and spent money. There are huge numbers of sausage varieties in Europe that the EU food regulations have attempted to make illegal, for example. I hate to think what they’d do to Cincinnati bratwurst if they had a chance, much less the Wisconsin kind. And it would be horrible to declare there was only one legal variety of chili.

But OTOH, it’s pretty clear that people are paying the big bucks to get a specific style of beef from specific cattle from Kobe, and they’re not getting that. It’s a scam.

UPDATE: Okay, maybe it’s not a scam so much as incomplete info needing better marketing….

Read the comments – Foxfier has many useful things to say.


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