Monthly Archives: August 2014

Black People and K-Pop

In many inner cities, there’s a lot of resentment between Korean-Americans and black Americans.

OTOH, there is a decades-old black fanbase for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Thai martial arts, animation, and musical groups. Black martial arts films and groups like the Wu-Tang Clan are evidence of this.

So although individual black people who are fans of anime, K-drama, and K-pop are not super-common, it is common for there to be such people around – probably about as common as white and Asian fans are among white and Asian people.

So here’s somebody doing a story about it.

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And This Is Why I Don’t Watch the New Doctor Who.

Brickmuppet describes the latest travesty exhibited under the name of a once-good show. It seems that the Doctor now claims to hate all soldiers, refuses to choose them as companions because they are just horrible people, and basically is in favor of leaving people to die. Again.

First off, it’s stupid. The Doctor loves soldiers, sailors, et al, and of course the Brigadier and the UNIT guys were some of his closest human friends. He tangled with their protocols and command priorities, but he never disliked them as people or their profession as a principle. Even in the crappy novels, he had multiple soldiers as Companions, and of course Lt. Harry Sullivan traveled with the Doctor.

Of course, in recent years the Idiots in Charge have done their best to retcon this out of existence: killing most of UNIT, deciding that the UK government had always been running Torchwood to try to kill the Doctor, killing UNIT personnel and replacing them with alien impostors, etc. But it’s still ridiculous. Also treasonous and suicidal, in time of war — and in a time when UK welfare-supported terrorists are slaughtering and raping the innocent, at home and abroad.

I don’t blame the actors. I blame the writers.

Since most of the writers (particularly Paul Cornell) who made the old Doctor Who novel series putrid* also work on the new series, this is not a surprise to anybody. (It also allows you to see the recycling of novel plots in the new series, much of which is also the direct responsibility of Paul Cornell. Of course, when you can persuade Neil Gaiman that it’s a good idea to recycle other people’s old Doctor Who novel plots, and then people give an award to it, I guess you can’t blame it all on Cornell.)

Anyhow, the creepy pogrom-against-the-unworthy thing? It constantly recurs in the new series, but it started very early in the novel series. I can’t remember the exact novel, and apparently it’s not something worthy of being remembered on the fan sites… but there was a pre-9/11 novel where a NY skyscraper was about to be destroyed. The writer opined that the Doctor would not only refuse to rescue a poor immigrant night shift _cleaning woman_ from a NY skyscraper about to be blown up by terrorists – because she hadn’t been proactive enough in fighting corporate crime, that being the natural business of cleaning women who don’t really speak English – but that he would take the time to scold her first, because people need to be scolded as you leave them to die a horrible death.

* Not every novel was putrid and morally offensive, but they usually managed at least 30-50% putrid in any given year. Naturally some of the other novels were stupid or blah, but at least they had good intentions. The remainder would be amazingly good, which would tempt you to go on buying novels even after you learned the score. This was similar to what was going on with Pocket Books Star Trek novels at the time, which went from being about 80% awesome to 10% awesome in the course of a couple years in the 1990’s.


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My New Bede Translation Is Live


On the Valiant Woman (De muliere forti) by the Venerable Bede. Translated by M.S. O’Brien. (That’s me.)

This classic early medieval commentary on Proverbs 31:10-31 is both a Bible study and a call to action in our everyday lives. If Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is His Bride, what can we learn about her from the Valiant Woman, the ideal businesswoman and wife? As part of Christ and His Church, how do we take the initiative is using our talents for other people’s good?

The book includes the respect for women which is typical of Bede’s writing. (For example, he composed his commentary On the Song of Habakkuk for a religious sister, and the obvious affection found in the section of his Ecclesiastical History dedicated to St. Aethelthryth (Audrey) which goes to the point of including a poem about her.)

Only a few years after the pagan English of his region had been converted to Christianity, the Venerable Bede became the greatest Scripture scholar and historian of his day, as well as writing about astronomy, music, mathematics, grammar, theology, poetry, and anything else that needed a textbook and creating Old English translations of various books of the Bible. His works were influential all over Europe, and he is counted as one of the early Church Fathers and a Doctor of the Church.

This book also appears as the final section of De Proverbia Salomonis (On the Proverbs of Solomon), a commentary on the entire Book of Proverbs which has never been translated into English.

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Translating Pop to Shakespeare

Demonstrating that it’s not the idea, it’s what you do with it.

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Sisters Vs. Selling Sex

The Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries, both vowed religious sisters and their associates out in the world, are fighting prostitution in the Philippines by visiting the brothels and the streets.

Here’s a case where it really, really helps to wear habits. They aren’t elaborate, they aren’t expensive-looking, but they do make their mission and identity absolutely clear.

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Post St. Augustine’s Day Post

Actually, I ended up celebrating St. Augustine’s Day by finishing the editing of the bibliography and footnotes for my next translation, St. Bede’s On the Valiant Woman. This is the standalone section (about Prov. 31:10-31) of his Book of Proverbs commentary. It was probably written first, and there were a fair number of manuscript versions of it. The Glossa Ordinaria notes for the Bible at times drew heavily from it, and it was quoted as authoritative by a lot of later guys. It was also a prime source of readings in the old Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours, especially for St. Mary Magdalene’s feast, and for the feasts of holy women who were married.

This was supposed to be an easy little project. It was supposed to come out last year, with only about two weeks’ work. Unfortunately, it turned out that the Hurst critical edition didn’t really dig deep into finding either Scriptural citations or quotes from the Fathers that were being referenced. Obviously it’s a lot easier overall to find those quotes nowadays, what with the magic of search engines; but it’s a lot of work all the same. Also, Hurst found a fair number of Scripture and Fathers quotes that zipped right by me, so I definitely appreciate his work! Both Beatus and Bede throw in some secular Latin quotes from the poets, too. Not super-often, mind you, but a bit more often than past critical editions gave them credit for.

Anyway, Bede’s not nearly as intricate in his quoting as Beatus of Liebana, but it’s still pretty noticeable that he does quote. We know that his own handwritten manuscripts included citations of his quotes in the side margins, and apparently he asked people to copy these. If they had just done as he asked back then, we’d have a lot easier time today!

My basic policy was to look at the interesting phrases and run a search (sometimes but not always including grammatical variants, like versions in different case or number), then record any pre-Bede results as footnotes. If it turned out to be a common Latin idiom or apparently original to Bede, fine. If it looked like a deliberate quote, I wrote it down. I’m sure this sort of search process will eventually be standardized and automated, probably assisted by the sort of “authorial voice” analysis programs that are being worked on now. But even my crude process did produce some pretty decently plausible results! I hope it will help scholars.

So now On the Valiant Woman (including a fair number of St. Augustine quotes) has been uploaded to the KDP Kindle publishing site, and it’s “in review,” getting checked by Amazon ebook distribution folks. With any luck, it’ll be out later today.

Re: pricing, I’m experimenting. Amazon wants me to raise my prices, but I also have the mighty power of running sales. So we’ll see.

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Happy St. Brian’s Day!

Today is the feastday of St. Brian Arrowsmith, martyr. During the horrible persecutions of Queen Elizabeth I, he managed to work among English Catholics for 15 years. When he was finally caught and went to prison, he was unexpectedly released by King James I and expelled from England. So he got his strength back, joined the Jesuits, and returned for five more years’ work before he was caught again and executed.

He’s better known by his Confirmation name, as St. Edmund Arrowsmith. He preferred that name, so normally I’d say “go with it.” But I’ve seen people doubting before whether Brian really was a proper Christian name, so here you go! His parents were Catholics, they gave him a perfectly reasonable Christian name at his Baptism, and now it’s the name of a martyr. Good stuff all around.

Another martyr with roots in the North of England was Blessed Brian Lacey. Betrayed by his own brother, he was tortured and martyred just for encouraging his fellow Catholics and for helping and hiding priests.

Of course, Brian also applies from the martyrs of the clan of the ui Bhriain (O’Brian or O’Brien).

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