Monthly Archives: December 2014


I took a break from my perpetual cheapitude and bought the Kindle edition of Scott Hahn’s new book, Joy to the World: How Christ’s Coming Changed Everything (And Still Does).

And guess what!

Roger Pearse’s translated edition of Eusebius’ Gospel Problems and Solutions, was a footnote/endnote in Chapter 2! (Although Hahn must’ve been in a hurry, and didn’t list all the translators… oooooops. But he was recommending the book and not quoting, so it’s not an error, per se.)

Hahn’s a good writer and I love his book. (Highly recommended, as always.) But the pleasure of finding that footnote and letting Roger know was more than any money I could possibly spend.

A nice ending for 2014, for those few of us who share the crazy life of being indie patristics scholars, publishers, and translators.

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Movie Musical Marathon on GetTV

If you have one of the syndicated GetTV stations in your area, they’re running movie musicals (well, really “musical reviews”) all day today on New Year’s Eve. They’ve got one on right now from WWII, called Reveille with Beverly (1943). It’s a story about a young woman who works at the local hospital acting as a disc jockey for the wounded soldiers staying there. Ann Miller plays the protagonist and has really nice 40’s hair.

(Yeah, yeah, it must be time for a haircut when I start looking at movies for hair ideas.)

Anyway, it had an awesome filmed version of “Cow Cow Boogie,” among many other videos of musical awesomeness by the original bands. You should watch it!

UPDATE: It’s over now. What a great movie! Kind of a dust in the eyes ending, but in a sweet way. Now they’re starting Castle in the Air, supposedly a UK movie about a haunted castle in Scotland. But the program notes were confused. This is actually the OTHER 1952 movie called Castle in the Air which is a movie musical set in real life on the Columbia Studios lot (and including huge amounts of in-studio jokes about making movies, and the various non-acting jobs on the lot). This same movie is also called Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder. It’s a cute movie, but I usually only catch the end of it.

(And btw, there’s another wartime job – women deejays. All of a sudden after the war, no women deejays, even though everybody acknowledged that men liked women doing the job. You don’t see women deejays again until maybe the 1970’s. Did women in the audience not like the idea of “sexy/sweetheart women deejays” once their men were home? Did the idea of women deejays turn into women as talk show and variety show hosts instead, like Dinah Shore and Ruth Lyons?)

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Learn Chinese Culture from Amazon Prime Video!

There are a LOT of Asian films on Amazon Prime Video right now, and you could stay busy for years.

But there is also some kind of Chinese documentary series available about people who are famous in both Chinese literature and history. This could help a lot when you’re trying to follow a kung fu movie or understand when it takes place. I’m sure it’s meant as a sort of Cliffs Notes for students.

Amusingly, the documentary series is called in translation, “Well-Known Cultural Literates of China.”

The one I first came across is about good old Cao Cao (aka Tsao Tsao in the older transliteration). This guy is the hardworking, clever baddie in Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Chinese opera, and is legendarily known for breaking at least seven Confucian rules of family duty, either out of duty to his country or blind ambition. (This is known in Hughart as “the Seven Sacrileges of Tsao Tsao.”) OTOH, in real life he may or may not have been bad; but he certainly did have his good side in either case. (Even in Three Kingdoms, this is true.) He apparently did write good poetry.

Communist China has long been trying to reform his bad reputation, based on perceived similarities between Cao Cao and Mao. Obviously Mao Zedong was an epic villain who had literally millions executed and even more people killed by his incompetent policies; so even a villainous Cao Cao looks pretty good next to Mao.

(I just want to know who to root for in operas and anime. So determining the villain in a history I don’t know much about, and the primary sources of which I can’t read, is not all that important to me! Still, it’s good to know that there is a debate.)

This documentary is sort of a low budget version of a History Channel-type production. It came out in 2007. Subtitles are in English, with the translation generally okay but sometimes confusing. Audio is in Chinese. (Mandarin? Cantonese? I have no clue.) There are a fair number of Chinese academics interviewed on the show, many of whom get very excited at times about the good parts. (One guy has an awesome model of a medieval Chinese warship on his bookshelf.) The documentary includes readings (in appropriate historical places) of a few pieces of Cao Cao’s poetry. This is pretty cool, because I’ve read a lot about 4 character lines and Tang Dynasty poetry, but I’ve never heard it read by anybody.

The documentary also includes Cao Cao’s second and third sons by his second wife, who were also fairly famous historical figures and poets. (They’re collectively called “The Three Caos.” Which sounds in English like a barnyard, whether you pronounce the family name correctly or incorrectly….) One became Emperor of the country of Wei, but wasn’t very nice to his brothers. The other became a genteel prisoner for life, but wrote great poetry for the ages. Both died in early middle age.

I enjoyed it, although I wish Amazon Video would stream a little faster. (Generally the best way to watch Amazon Video is to download it onto a tablet, and then watch it online or offline. Offline puts a 48 hour-7 days time limit into play, however.) It really could have used more maps of where the towns were/are.

I don’t know if this documentary series is propagandized or reasonably factual, but it is probably worth watching. I’m the kind of person who wants to know at least a little about other countries’ history and literature (or at least I hate feeling totally ignorant!), so this is about my speed.


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“Jerusalem Tea”

My brother was away from wifi and called me to ask me for a quick search engine run. He’d seen something on sale called “Jerusalem tea,” and my parents thought it sounded like it must be marijuana.

Well, it’s apparently one of many names for “epazote,” a plant that is mostly found in Mexico but which has close relatives in Asia and Europe. (No relation whatsoever to cannabis. Its Latin name is “Dysphania ambroisioides.”) It’s a green, leafy medicinal plant that allegedly acts as a sort of “natural Bean-o,” or at least helps with gas. So it’s often used in Mexican cooking to help with black bean digestion, while also adding a little bit of extra flavor (“sweet and mild,” they say) as well as nutrition. (It’s greens.) You can also use it as an herbal tea. But you probably want to cook it first, or get the tea water really hot — because apparently it tastes like creosote if you eat it raw. (Although obviously tastes differ, and I’ve never tasted it to know.)

In other news, the seeds do kill hookworms and other parasites, but that’s by eating mass quantities; and it’s dangerous.


The seeds, stem, and roots have a lot more of the turpentine-y tasting compounds, and it would be embarrassing to get sick (or die, which is barely possible) from eating large quantities of something nasty. Of course, if you eat enough to choke a cow, it can be poisonous. So just use the leaves; and use them as a spice, not a salad.

Apparently the smell of the raw leaves is also kinda different. The name “epazote” means “skunk-excretions.” So yeah, use it as a cooked spice.

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How to Do a Good Pumpkin Soup

Well, yes, you need chicken broth. And lots of meat and veggies are good. And yes, you need lots of spicy spices unless you’re making a sweet pudding instead of soup.

But you know what really goes well as an ingredient for a pumpkin soup?

Barbecue sauce. A nice sweet, spicy barbecue sauce. It doesn’t change the orange color much, but it makes a BIG difference in flavorfulness.

(Possibly you could just use vinegar and sugar to do something similar, but a tomato barbecue sauce really does seem to make a difference.)


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“I Am the Very Model of a Biblical Philologist”

Okay, you gotta watch this one!


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Boring Cars with Boring Paint Jobs

An article about boring cars.

Fortunately, today I saw a sportscar painted RACING GREEN. It was more a primary color racing green than a British racing green, but it looked pretty sweet. The magwheels were also green, except for the one which had been scraped up and was temporarily silver in places.

A new paintjob has to be cheaper than a new car, and it would also help you find your car in the parking lot. So there is some practicality.

Since today’s cars don’t have much shape to them, a paintjob designed the right way might make a boring car look pretty cool, by adding the illusion of shape.

And then, there’s always the great tradition of painted vans and painted Russian cars, which can now be achieved by using that vinyl photo-wrap stuff instead of actual paint. That way, you don’t have to sand down the car first, it’s cheaper, and yet it lasts 4-5 years. If you change your mind, you can pull the wrap back off, and everything on your car is the same as it was before. The only downside is that you would want to hand-wash your car while it’s wrapped – but I imagine dirt wouldn’t cling as tightly to vinyl. (And in fact, there are clear vehicle wraps that are just there to protect people’s paint from sun and weather.)

(Btw, here’s an article about dislike of the color green in NASCAR circles. Some regional groups of Irish people traditionally see green as a color that belongs to the Sidhe, and therefore unlucky for humans in clothing and some other categories. I don’t know if that’s where the NASCAR superstition comes from, but there are lots of Scots and Irish people in NASCAR country. Anyway, here’s more about NASCAR superstitions.)


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Yes, This World Has Everything

There’s a very old-fashioned, very famous Italian liqueur made of… rhubarb. (Well, actually Chinese rhubarb, which has an earthier taste. So it kinda tastes like Chinese medicine, apparently.)

Rabarbaro Zucca Amaro Liqueur was created in 1845. King Victor Emanuele liked it in cocktails as a sort of bitters (“amaro”). Besides rhubarb root, it includes cardamom seeds, China fruit, bitter orange peel and other secret herb ingredients. 16% alcohol.

The funny thing is that I really like the taste of most of these “medicinal” liqueurs and liquors, because I like a lot of herbs. OTOH, I really hate a lot of the stuff other people like (ie, those disgusting shots/cocktails that a lot of people are into). So I would probably like this rhubarb thing, especially since I have a mad passion for cardamom. The bitter-orange rind is the only thing that sounds a bit nasty.

What I don’t like much is any kind of quinine flavor, as in tonic water. Maybe now that I’m older I’ll like it more, and it is healthy for you. But bleh!

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Dear Loving Family

If we are supposed to be keeping mum about certain subjects around certain family members, and said subjects are the obvious conversation topics because they are the family news about myself, please instruct me about this before I make holiday phone calls to other members of the family who live further away.

Seriously, you know perfectly well that your priorities are not my priorities, and I don’t have any clue what you think should be kept secret – especially when it’s something that isn’t any secret as far as I’m concerned.

Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for me to handle information security for myself? Isn’t it my own business whom I tell about my own personal joys and sorrows?

If you know this about me (which you just said you did), please brief me if you’ve decided that I should be keeping normal conversation topics a deep dark secret. If you don’t brief me, don’t expect me to read your minds. If I don’t read your minds, there’s no point having a meltdown afterward.

PS. After your meltdown, I decided it was probably better not to tell you that the family member with hearing problems was hearing me perfectly well today.

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The Grinches Trying to Destroy Beavercreek

Pretty much all the perpetual protesting at the Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart has not been done by people from the Dayton area or by relatives of the deceased, John Crawford. The same thing is true for the people who trashed Beavercreek’s police station, blocked ambulance traffic, tried to intimidate jurors at the county courthouse in Xenia, and have now moved to the nearby Mall at Fairfield Commons in an attempt to stop mall customers from being able to get around on Christmas Eve.

All this has largely been done by one group, which calls itself the Ohio Student Association. Who are they?

Well, here is their entry on As of 2009, they had assets in excess of 50 MILLION DOLLARS. Their income is somewhere between $100,000 – $500,000 a year, and they don’t bother to do their IRS paperwork.

But they also don’t have an actual office address on file; they last gave the IRS a 2009 address in care of one Marc V. Conte, at an off-campus house near Ohio State. So probably nobody from the organization lives there anymore.

The organization claims in this press release to be a trade union for university students in Ohio, and to have formed in 2012 (So how did they file tax forms in 2009?). However, they don’t seem to do anything at all for university students, except for running a couple tuition hike protests in Spring of 2014. Rather, they seem to spend all their time going to protests for various leftist causes instead of going to classes. Currently they seem to be focusing on black issues, but most of the protesters seem to be white hipsters with BMWs bought by their parents.

Searching for their website was remarkably difficult. News articles appear much more than the organization itself, and a 2012 website appears to have been allowed to die. But finally, I found their website and Facebook addresses — in an article by The Socialist Worker.


So here’s their website, which is colored red for entirely patriotic reasons. They want you to give them a lot of money, so that they can continue to have their dupes skip class and be arrested as a work/study job.

Here’s their Facebook page, where they show their dupes trying to look fierce and obnoxious. In hipster black and white, of course. As usual with this sort of picture, the proportion of black people in the officially staged picture is far in excess of the proportion of actual black people who show up at protests versus rich white kids. (Because most black kids at college want to graduate, not get arrested. Nor do they think they can afford to waste study time driving to other cities every weekend.)

Their website reveals that the Ohio Student Association is actually run not by university students, but by a 501c(3) organization called the Ohio Organizing Collaborative which was formed in 2007. Here’s their website and their Facebook page. Basically it’s a collaboration of labor union money, leftist churches for bodies, and any other useful idiots on hand (like college students who don’t want to go to class).

On the bright side, it doesn’t appear to be wholly owned and operated by the Communists over at ANSWER, which explains why their signs don’t have that mass-produced ANSWER look. (Although they do have that “I look like every other allegedly handpainted banner on a sheet” look, which leads me to believe that there’s a downloadable stencil somewhere for “#BLACKLIVESMATTER.”)

Oddly enough, my brother who listens to NPR and does local politics was totally unaware of the whole “trashing the police station, destroying public art made by little kids, and blocking ambulances” thing. He’s the one who’s going to have to pay for the repairs to the police station with his taxes, and yet he was totally kept unaware.

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Merry Christmas!

“He was on earth, so that you may be in the stars. He had no other place in the inn, so that you may have many mansions in the heavens.”

St. Ambrose, Exposition of the Gospel of Luke, 2, 41.

Found at Fr. Z’s Blog!

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A Cute Cosplay Music Video

Found via Pixy Misa.

The more I think about it, the more I think that all the “fake fan” stupidity is really quite similar to the way many gamers reacted to the large wave of new gamers who played LARPs like Vampire: the Masquerade.

In many cases, the newbies were an entirely different breed of cat. Many gaming groups had a few folks who were more theatrical, just like fandom had plenty of costumers here and there. (The masquerade has been the central feature of most sf cons since the Sixties.) But the old school wasn’t quite sure how to teach them when they came in overwhelming numbers, or how to make them feel welcome, or how not to get crowded out by the newbies. There were similar paradigm shifts at the rise of the Trekkies in organized fandom, or when Star Wars first came out.

So yeah, a few years have passed now; and fandom and gaming have both started to get used to the excesses and quirks of cosplayers showing up en masse. (And vice versa.) Since cosplayers really need conventions and physical presence to enjoy their hobbies to the full, I suspect they will become more and more influential. This is only fair, since they’ve proved to be a big shot in the arm for organized fandom.

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Salon Says: Yes Doesn’t Mean Yes

And the most famous Yes in Christian history doesn’t mean Yes, either. Just in time for Christmas, a piece of anti-Christian idiotarianism.

Not linking to Salon, but linking to a story about people hitting back at their story:

“Soulless Salon”

Here’s something to lower your blood pressure. A little.

Get Religion links to another story about that beautiful Mary art exhibit. Also a video.

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Spider Robinson’s The Free Lunch

As with that of many authors, Spider Robinson’s August 2001 book, The Free Lunch, sank without a trace, overwhelmed by the great change in American priorities after 9/11. I had never even heard of it.

Well, honestly, you’re not missing much. I’m sorry to say that, because Robinson is a charming, moving, and clever writer when at his best.

The Free Lunch should be a charming cozy sf mystery along the lines of Dream Park, or an sf technothriller along the lines of Oath of Fealty. Instead, it’s just confused.

1. Very little happens. There is some nice worldbuilding, but very little is ever done with it. I was honestly expecting the book to detail every section of the park and make use of them in scenes, but we actually only “see” a couple of them, for about five seconds.

2. This is interrupted by one good action scene, and one incredibly nasty bit where the author decides to have the villains torture the protagonist. Not much actual damage is done in the event (although a finger is injured), but it includes the villains threatening the kid’s privates.

He’s a little kid. I don’t care who you are, you don’t torture little kids in a “charming” or “cozy” story, or even in a technothriller. If you do that in a story, it immediately becomes a very dark horror story.

3. The villains are defeated, but the big villain essentially goes unpunished. Only a henchman suffers. I don’t know if there was a sequel planned or what, but I don’t think that counts as a real ending.

4. There’s a secret in the book that ends up being revealed, but it’s so big that it ends up adding nothing to the book, and we don’t see it actually do anything. So basically, there’s an essay about how cool it is.

5. Meh. Basically a first draft instead of a book.

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