Monthly Archives: April 2014

Babies as Fuel: BC and Oregon’s Moloch Connection

There’s no nice way to put this.

Remember the NHS hospitals in the UK that were burning human tissue bits for heating fuel? And that included aborted and miscarried babies, or even babies who’d died in the hospital after birth? And that any grieving parents were lied to, and told they’d been cremated? (To their credit, the NHS heads halted these practices as soon as the documentary about it was released.)

Well, it turns out that up in Canada, British Columbia’s Health Ministry has the same “clean and green” policy. But they don’t have an on-site Moloch furnace, so they ship their medical waste (including amputated limbs and dead baby bits) to the US, to Covanta Marion’s trashburning facility in Oregon. In lieu of money, they were paid in power — but of course, the actual dead-baby-electricity goes to the power grid shared by the US and Canada. And apparently, the BC health people are not bothered about it, either, or worried that it’s probably illegal in both countries to transport dead bodies over the border as waste.

However, the Marion County Board of Commissioners (Covanta Marion is run jointly by a company and the county) claims that they were “outraged and disgusted” to learn that it was being used as a human remains disposal facility. They thought it was just little bits of tissue from samples, not huge hunks of human flesh and bone and organs. So they’ve stopped accepting all BC medical waste. Meanwhile, the Covanta company claims that they didn’t know what was in the BC medical waste either, they were “shocked” to find out, and that they’re not going to accept any medical waste at all until this is cleared up. The medical waste was boxed and brought to the US by a company called Stericycle, which has refused to comment.

Oregon state law does permit all unborn fetuses to be considered medical waste, but Marion County’s commissioners say they sure as heck don’t. Canadian law doesn’t permit using human bodies of any kind for fuel, and the Oregon folks feel that they were being used by BC officials to evade Canadian law.

Via the MCJ.

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World’s Geekiest Patristics Paper

Doctor Who in the New Jerusalem: Time Travel, Incarnation and Recapitulation in Victorinus of Poetovio’s In Apocalypsin, by Zachary Esterson, Cardiff.

Alas, all that is currently available is an abstract.

Basically, Tichonius/Tyconius and all his followers (like Victorinus) like to talk a lot about the Bible’s use of recapitulation and various other forms of time-shifted narration, particularly in prophecies. The Book of Revelation is constantly going backwards and forwards from future history back to Jesus, or the whole span of salvation history, or Satan’s fall, or to Ezekiel and Daniel. There’s also a lot of stuff about how things said about one time can apply to all Christian times, or even to all times among the people of God. And there’s a lot of recapping, and there’s a lot of showing how church history repeats itself.

I assume that the abstract focuses on Victorinus and Origen because Victorinus is a lot more complete than any Tyconius fragment or reconstruction….

So anyway, it’s a lot more exciting to talk about time travel than to talk about recapping and cutting back to previous bits that are about to be recapped yet again, or talking about the same thing in different places, or different things in the same place. A clever idea for memorably presenting Victorinus’ teachings on Bible interpretation.

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Allan Drury EBOOKS!

Thanks to Baen Books, you can now buy a $7.99 ebook of Allan Drury’s greatest novel of American politics, Advise and Consent. Based on real events in the Senate during WWII, but timeshifted into the Fifties, this is the story of men and women who love America, work hard for her, but have very different ideas about her. How far can a president go in pursuit of his goals? How far can the Legislative Branch push back? Is it fair for people to consider your past when you’re considered for a job in the present? And what do you do if you are blackmailed about your deepest secrets?

Advise and Consent. It’s been unobtainium for years! If you’ve never read it, read it now.

Here it is at Baen, and here it is on Amazon. You might also keep an eye out for the acclaimed movie. Drury’s nonfiction book Senate Diary lets you know the true-life version; though of course those people are not the same people as in the novel, and don’t live in the same world.

Keep an eye out for further ebooks. Advise and Consent is the first of a long series about these characters. It turns into sf and alternate worlds along the way, even without deserting the world of political fiction, so Baen isn’t cheating on its basic mission!

If you would like some standalone fun, Baen also has Decision (his big Supreme Court novel) and Mark Coffin, U.S.S. (a novel about a junior US senator). Those ebooks haven’t been posted on Amazon yet. They’re also $7.99. Not superduper classics, but Drury novels are always fun and interesting reads. (Here’s Decision on Amazon, and here’s Mark Coffin, U.S.S. on Amazon.)

If you know you’re going to want all three Drurys and you also want some sf, check out this month’s Wordfire Press Bundle for only $37.94. Beside the Drurys, you’ll also get some Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, and Kevin Anderson. Not my favorite writers personally, but obviously all very solid.

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Latin Vulgate Magically Turned into KJV by Louisiana Politician

Okay, so it’s probably both noble and misguided to name the Jean Prevel Bible held by the Louisiana State Museum as Louisiana’s “official state book.”

But then, the same guy who came up with the original idea, LA state Rep. Carmody, decided to change it so that any King James Version Bible would also count as Louisiana’s official state book.

The Jean Prevel edition of the Bible is a Latin Vulgate with Glossa Ordinaria notes based on the Venice 1495 edition printed by Albert D’ Castello, and text based on the best available Clementine “amended” versions of St. Jerome’s Vulgate and the Old Latin bits. It is French, brought from the old country, and represents Louisiana’s French Catholic heritage.

The KJV is a Protestant translation of the Bible into English that specifically rejects the traditional Jerome bits and the Clementine versions of the wording, translation, and glosses.

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Vinegar as a Reviving Drink

For some reason, this year I’ve heard a lot of people meditating on the Passion who thought that offering Jesus “sour wine,” or “vinegar,” was a cruel mockery.

Actually, in the old days, and to this day, vinegar was seen as something that revived and strengthened you. The smell of vinegar-soaked cloths was how you would wake up someone fainting. Here in Ohio, farmers drank “sprouse,” which elsewhere is called “shrub”* or “switchel,” vinegar mixed with sweet juice, as something to drink in the heat of the day. In the Middle East, it’s popular to drink “sekanjabin,” vinegar mixed with sugar syrup in various flavors (and closely related to the ancient Greek “oxymel”).

And Roman soldiers, being tough and cheap, drank sour wine, or the sour wine with health additives against scurvy that was called “posca.” It was seen as bad for discipline to let men on duty drink real wine, or worse, good wine! The Greek health drink called “oxymel” was honey wine, and thus no good for soldiers. But honeyed sour wine was okay, and became standard camp fare. Mixing vinegar with doubtful water supplies made it reasonably safe to drink, and vinegar and sugar both have a tendency to kill microorganisms (although I’m sure a lot of camp cooks spent a lot of time boiling water).

Now it’s possible that the reviving vinegar was offered to an obviously dying man as a joke. But sour wine was nothing worse or different than what the soldiers were drinking themselves; they probably offered it out of their own supplies for the long, hot duty day. Sour wine with hyssop mixed in it, or worse, with gall mixed in it, would not be my flavor choices. But they were pretty normal for Roman soldiers. They also liked mixing it with lots of coriander seeds (that’d be the seed form of cilantro, for those of you playing the home game).

Also, you could drink a fair amount of a sugar or vinegar-based drink without getting sick from it, whereas cold water with no additives has to be drunk slowly in summer to avoid making yourself sick. Vinegar-based drinks were essentially the sports drinks of yesteryear.

Also, most forms of vinegar were kosher for Passover, so there’s that.

* “Shrub” comes from the same Arabic word as “sherbet.” It’s just the root word for “drink”: sh r b.

An interesting reminiscence about a lady sitting around a table with her Iranian family, using sekanjabin as a dip for lettuce! Also includes some nice sekanjabin drink recipes, and a bit in the comments about Pakistani sikanjabeen with salt and pepper!

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Anime Stuff I’m Watching

Here’s some shows I may be following this anime season. They’re mostly on Crunchyroll.com.

Btw, I gather that Nadia: Secret of Blue Water is airing on Hulu. If you like steampunk on the ocean, this is a must-see from the late 80’s-early 90’s.

The File of Young Kindaichi Returns: Mystery! Adventure! Intrigue! Teenage detectives! What more can you want on Saturday morning?

Captain Earth: A boy is destined to drive a mecha and defend the Earth. Yawn. Except this time, the familiar story is being told in a stylish, mysterious way that promises a lot of new excitement. The characters seem very real and involving, and it’s beautifully drawn.

Chaika: The Coffin Princess: In the year 1604 in an alternate world, a short Russian girl princess/wizard wanders the world with her magical giant gun, strapped on her back in a coffin-shaped case. She finds help from brother and sister saboteurs-for-hire. The first ep features a terrifying fight with a crazy unicorn.

Mushi-shi (continuation of the original series) If you like Japanese folklore and a setting in a slightly alternate present, this is your show. The mushi-shi is a sort of monster (mushi) wrangler who deals with supernatural problems. In the first episode, we learn about how much mushi love good sake. (Unfortunately I’ve never seen the original series, but hope to fix that.)

Fairy Tail Season 2: The continuing adventure of an all-mage guild in a world full of mages with strange powers. This year, we’re apparently heading up towards another apocalyptic war with/of dragons, and the guildmembers raised by dragons are obviously a bit perturbed about this….

Baby Steps: The tennis adventures of a grind with no life, who’s never played sports or had hobbies… until now. Actually very good at showing the mindset of over-preparers, especially the way people assume they’re “just smart” when often their real quality is insane perseverance at learning what’s hard for them. Obviously there is something to be said for this quality in athletics.

Rowdy Sumo Wrestler Matsutaro: The retro 1950’s/1960’s adventure of the strongest man in Japan — basically, John Henry as a slacker. He doesn’t even bother to graduate from school despite advanced years, works a bit on the side, and terrifies everybody he runs across while also helping an old man he likes. But his mother can’t support him and all his siblings forever. So he apparently finds a career as a sumo wrestler sometime after the first crazy episode, but will have to learn to take sumo seriously in order to win the love of his crush, the beautiful schoolteacher Minami. Features a gorgeous enka song duet for the opening themesong.

The World Is Still Beautiful: A teenage island princess with rain powers is to be married off to an Alexander-analog who’s conquered most of the world, in willing exchange for her tiny country’s continued sovereignty. But the princess was overly optimistic about her welcome and has sent her faithful retainers home, the Alexander-analog is barely pubescent, the emperor’s advisors want the princess dead, and the Sun Kingdom doesn’t really have much rain for the princess to have power over. However, she also has the gift of making friends, so maybe it will work out.

No Game, No Life: The adventures of a brother and sister team who never go to school, sleep as little as possible, and use games to hold off the problems of life. But they’re really good at games — so good that another world’s god comes to fetch them to his world where all status is controlled by playing games for stakes agreed by the players. Suddenly these nobody kids are on course to take over another world… and they have no desire to ever go home. A surprisingly dark show, for what’s admittedly wish-fulfillment fantasy.

Continuing from last season:

Yowamushi Pedal: The roadrace cycling adventures of a geek who’s always biked a lot for utilitarian reasons but didn’t think of it as a sport. Until now.

Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time — comedy shorts about a schoolgirl who sits at the desk next to a boy who does crazy stuff. Just barely plausible stuff. It will make you feel that you wasted your time in school by being so uncreative… and whether the show’s artists were up to stuff like this.

There’s probably more stuff. Basically, I tend to watch some shows in batches or marathons, and other shows one-by-one.

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Murder Ballads Down by the River

One of the most popular themes of the murder ballad (English, Scottish, American, folk, bluegrass, blues) is that of the man who takes the girl who loves him for a walk down by the river, and kills her. There are various circumstances and reasons, but the river is where you do it. Instant body disposal, you see.

The last couple weeks in Dayton, there’s been a case of the disappearance of a woman and her little boy that’s been in the news. Last week, her body was found down by the river, and yesterday, they released the information that she’d been shot in the head. Her boyfriend was a felon, and the police went to talk to him; he fled and then shot himself. There’s a second girlfriend around, who apparently helped drain the woman’s account of money. The little boy hasn’t been found, but is presumed dead. You have to wonder if they were holding her son hostage to make her keep her mouth shut and give them access to her bank account.

Down by the river, just a little walk.

I’m pretty sure that this woman was (very briefly) one of my coworkers last summer, before she got a better job and left, and I got another job and left. If this was the same person I’m thinking of, she seemed like a very levelheaded young woman, not the sort to get caught up with a criminal. But of course plenty of people leave their problems at home and don’t bring them to the job. Her bakery coworkers also thought highly of her, when they spoke to reporters while she was still missing. They knew something was wrong when she missed a shift, because she was always on time, ever since she got the job last summer.

They’re still looking for the body of little Zaden. Please pray for the success of the searchers, and for the souls of everybody caught up in this sad little ballad.

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