Thursday, September 28, 2006
Courage Man informs us of the latest efforts to rorschach the term "family", in both Utah and Ontario.
Don't you just love lawyers?
I suspect the Utah case will get the frying pan, but Ontario suffers from a bad case of Swedenitis, so all bets are off with respect to my neighbors to the south.
[Image via this link.]
The same media mindset that reads Dark Age of Theocracy Now Descending into everything from intelligent design to the Pledge of Allegiance to Pat Robertson's leg press somehow manages to flip the switch from "Danger, Michael Newdow, Danger!" to "Siesta" when confronted by the baldly-stated beliefs of real theocrats.
Aren't you even a little curious? Just a little?
Helpful hint: it'll be too late to ask when you are strontium-laced air pollution drifting over the Atlantic.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Feels weird. Then again, the Wolverines have only played four games.
Here's a good article about Coach Carr's motivational style, which is surprisingly multimedia:
Safety Ryan Mundy said Carr showed the Wolverines clips from the movie "Cinderella Man" before the season, and a particular scene has inspired them.
"This one guy's trainer is like, 'What happened? You beat this guy easy last time.' And the boxer is like, 'He's not the same guy,'" Mundy recalled. "Going into (the Notre Dame) game, we were like, 'They better not treat us like the same team we were last year because we're not the same team.'"
[Thanks to Cacciaguida for the link.]
So read the signs posted in my dormitory at Hillsdale College, A.D. 1987.
The last time the Tigers made the playoffs.
Nineteen years ago. With some grim times since.
Now the Bengals are in again.
Pardon me if I just savor this one for awhile.
[Lest we forget, Frank Tanana was the finest junkballer in the history of baseball. The joke was that he heaved so many curve balls that by the time he uncorked his 85mph fastball, it looked like a laser. He is a fine Christian gentleman, to boot.]
"Talk among yourselves. I'll give you a topic: Homeschooling."
Reasons for, against, and "What? Never considered it."
Examples of straws that broke the camel's back either way. Good friends of ours put their kids back in public school this year for pretty decent reasons, so don't regard this as a strictly pro- zone. It isn't. And don't start bashing public schools and teachers in general. I have no patience for broad brushes. Specifics, fine. Generalities--not fine.
Yes, we went the "for" path, and Heather's been explaining the process over here.
I'll weigh in eventually, but I'm more curious to see if the reasons (and concerns) both ways jibe with mine.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Saturday, September 23, 2006
I did have yesterday off, so we decided to take the kids on their first visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Alas, it's still in the midst of a massive renovation/expansion, so much of the museum is closed off. But there's still plenty to gape at, including a real, dead mummy, which my children insisted on seeing, along with the Renaissance suits of armor, which the oldest two thought were cool beyond words. The rest of the place managed to hold their interest, too, and the new CafeDIA is great.
I also wanted to get to the Islamic art section (don't ask about the Byzantine, which is vanishingly small) to see the calligraphy, and was not disappointed. A copy of the Koran was quite beautiful, and it alone was worth the stop.
However, the description of the birth of Islam was certainly...uncontaminated by skepticism. The exhibit placard stated that Islam was born of the "divine revelations" given to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel. Muhammad is described as "the Prophet." This is all done without a single qualifier such as "Muslims believe" or "Islam teaches."
No, no such license is given to any other religion in the museum. Indeed, no other religion gets its own section--everything else is by region or timeframe: Ancient art, European, Southeast Asian, African, etc. Given the varied art (in both time and location) collected in the Islamic section (Persian, Turkish, Arabic--much of which is secular in orientation), one is left with questions.
Oh, and on a similar note, Rich Leonardi discovers that the folks at American Catholic are fawningly happy to play the same tune.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Hopefully you aren't as badly off as the poor BBCer who referred to "Manuel Paleologus II, Emperor of Byzantine," which was enough error in six words to give me the bends.
The last is easy, obviously. But the name order is another major screw up. It's Manuel II Paleologus because the first Manuel was from a different dynasty, the Comneni. That Manuel is properly referred to as Manuel I Comnenus. A little thing, but it betrays a rather serious problem: too few people in the West have even the faintest knowledge of the first Christian state, which both shielded Western Christendom and was responsible for the glorious civilization of the Christian East. It is an essential part of our patrimony, but it is a universal that Byzantium gets glossed over quickly. Which, considering it lasted approximately twelve centuries, is inexcusable.
Fortunately, dear reader, you've come to the right place, so long as you are willing to take the first step and admit you have a problem.
With that in mind, here are some book recommendations:
A History of the Byzantine State and Society by Warren Treadgold. At the risk of punnery, it is the gold standard of one volume histories. Yes, it appears to be doorstop thickness, but the 800 pages of actual history (the remainder is comprised of a valuable annotated bibliography, along with endnotes and an index) seems short by the time you finish. It covers religious issues with a deft touch (you'll have the Christological controversies nailed by the end of it), devotes essential space to economic issues and offers valuable windows on Byzantine literature. Well-written and willing to offer new interpretations, it is essential.
History of the Byzantine State by George Ostrogorsky. The standard before Treadgold, it's still valuable. Focuses more on political developments, but does so capably. Has the added bonus of still being in print.
Byzantine Art by Robin Cormack. From the Oxford History of Art series, this is an excellent survey of the various forms of Byzantine art and architecture.
The Glory of Byzantium. Another artistic survey, this one covers the period of 843-1261 (from the end of iconoclasm to the liberation of Constantinople from the rotten Latin Empire). Beautiful plates, and excellent introductory articles make it invaluable. If nothing else, it's one hell of a coffee table book.
Rulers of the Byzantine Empire. By Kibea, a Bulgarian publisher, it's a beautifully illustrated encyclopedia of the most significant figures to become Emperor. The translation is a little creaky in spots (e.g., uses "scientist"/"scientific" instead of "scholar/scholarly"), but is otherwise good.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Now that's something you don't hear every...decade.
But the Holy Father referred to a dialogue written by the great Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus in his speech at the University of Regensburg yesterday.
The last of the Paleologi were tragic figures in the classic sense, brave and gifted men who lacked the resources to ward off the inexorable doom that faced them and that culminated with the fall of Christendom's bulwark of Constantinople in 1453.
Manuel II (reigned 1391-1425) was probably the most gifted of them, being a man of letters as well as a brave and capable leader. It was Byzantium's great misfortune that he ruled about "one emperor too late" to save the Empire as a regional state (his father, John V, was at least partially responsible for two ruinous civil wars during his reign). He also holds the distinction of being the first Byzantine Emperor to visit the West (outside of Italy), engaging in a diplomatic tour to obtain assistance from such places as France and England.
Manuel II (right) with his son, John VIII.
[H/t to Bill Cork for the link.]
[Update: Oh, and yes, the Manuel II quote is remarkable. Especially when you consider that Benedict XVI is a careful thinker and speaker, and his full awareness of the probability of controversy by using it. I'm still mulling it, and will have more later. Thoughts are welcome, of course.]
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Buy this DVD, appropriately entitled 9/11. It started off as a documentary by two French brothers, Jules and Gedeon Naudet, who wanted to film the development of a "probie," or FDNY probationary fireman, from the academy to full time status. They lived and worked with Engine 8 Ladder 1 in Manhattan for several months, following the progress of Tony Benetatos, the probie, as he learned the ropes.
Engine 8 is seven blocks from the WTC site, and the cameras were rolling on the morning of 9/11.
It would have been a fine documentary without the epochal event, but it is a truly essential work now. It contains the only footage of the first attack, and of the command post in the North Tower (repeatedly punctuated by the horrible crash of bodies hitting the ground). Furthermore, records the collapse of both towers at point blank range (the first from inside the Tower). It also has the last footage of Fr. Judge while alive, and the firemen carrying off his body.
See it--the bravery of the FDNY shines throughout.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Friday, September 08, 2006
That would be the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, that is.
Deep down, the poseurs don't believe a word of it, and I can prove it.
How? Because they are still travelling around the country whining about it and brainfarting into the ether that is the internet, getting self-published and doing. nothing. else.
People who truly believed this crap would do something more, like, oh, I don't know--at a minimum, stop paying their taxes, perhaps? Hell, our Founding Fathers formed armed militias over trade duties and these clowns can't bestir themselves into passive resistance.
After all, they are claiming this government is a dictatorial regime that has butchered its own citizenry to further imperialist ambitions across the globe.
You'd think that might merit something more than pseudo-intellectual posturing and twee missives about fascism.
I mean, it would if they believed the bullshit they were shoveling.
There has actually been some discussion among those who call themselves Michigan fans about whom they should be rooting for in the clash between Ohio State and Texas on Saturday.
It's simple. The only mindset for a true Wolverine fan is this:
If Hell fielded a college football team and it was playing Ohio State on Saturday, you still root against the Buckeyes.
Don't give me any of this "Big 10(11) solidarity" crap. We're not talking about Purdue here, you idiot. This is OSU.
Any further questions?
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Five years ago at 2:14pm, Madeleine Rochelle Price came into the world. All 8 pounds, 12 ounces and 22 inches of her.
Boy, was she was reluctant and angry. She was an induced birth and not at all happy about being evicted.
In fact, she was so out of sorts that they had to use what is essentially a vacuum to "coax" her out. This left her with a rather grim conehead that had vanished before she left the hospital.
I didn't get to hold her for quite a while--Heather did, but then after I "cut the cord" (think of those tawdry canned "hunting" expeditions and you're close to the level of participation on Dad's part) she was taken for the apgar and bilirubin checks, her eyewash and Vitamin K shot. I remember becoming very irritated and defensive about that process--"Hey, that's my daughter--step it up, can't you see she's crying?"
Sometime in the next hour, I was able to hold her, and the enormity slowly began to set in.
You are responsible for this little being.
It wasn't a panic attack, but by the time we were putting her in the car seat to leave the hospital, I began to wonder if the world is nuts.
We've never done anything like this before! We haven't been trained! Good Lord, you're the experts--why are you handing her over to us?!
That faded with time, and the competence began to develop.
Then her milestones began to fly past like the highway dashes you see in your headlights. So many that only a sampling is possible:
The first time Heather left her alone under Daddy's supervision--during which I was treated to a full 45 minutes of full-throated, unconsolable screaming. After which, she flopped against me and went to sleep.
Her first smile--right into the mirror after a bath.
Her first laugh--responding to a somewhat vulgar, if alliterative, reference to nursing as I carried her to Heather. I even turned it into a song, which got bigger giggles.
Her first taste of solid food--hummus. Not bad, she seemed to say. Probably explains why the quart containers from Costco last about 36 hours.
Her first steps, across our family room floor.
Her tentative reaction to the fact she had a brother, a look that said "You brought him home?"
Her first phony crying fit, which followed me reprimanding her for misbehavior of one sort. Forced boo-hoos repeatedly punctuated by not-so-sneaky looks up at me to see if I was still paying attention. My email to Heather on that one was titled "Manipulative little snot."
First word--"mama," of course. But also the first time she asked for "Daddy."
Now it's "Dad," which always makes me a little wistful.
Her defense of our dog after Dad berates the hound for some infraction.
Her insisting on getting Mom and Dad's toothbrushes ready.
Her Danny Phantom crush.
Her memorizing the Salve Regina.
Her joy at learning to read.
So many milestones, photos, achievements.
But the short of it is, every day I'm thankful for having her in our lives, however daunting the responsibility remains.
Happy birthday, Sprout.
Courtesy of S.M. Stirling:
Which five fictional characters would you like to meet?
3. John Christian Falkenberg.
4. Ford Prefect.
5. James Tiberius Kirk.
John Carter, Warlord of Mars.
Han Solo (the one who fired first).
Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.
[Update. Tag: Suffers from Elkhornitis, James, Mike, Trot's (blog something, or I'm going to talk about what a big Dokken fan you were), and Lee Anne.]
So I'm going off to the store/
For some Gravy Train
It's...distressing what currents can run through a pop-culture-smelted brain.
If none of the above italicized reference/paraphrase makes the slightest sense to you--count yourself fortunate.
I dread going senile--I'm sure I'll regale the nursing home staff and other inmates 24/7 with commercial jingles, movie one-liners, Monty Python sketches, song lyrics and other obscure references--think Dennis Miller meets Rain Man meets Aunt Bethany from Christmas Vacation [$toP mE bFour I sUb-reFErEnCE @gAiN]. Well, at least until they stuff the pillow over my face. Probably with the blessing of my HMO and a court order, no doubt.
Yes, it's been a long day--why do you ask?
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Monday, September 04, 2006
Yes, the Jehovah's Witnesses knocked on our door this morning. I quickly relieved Heather of point defense duty and spent the better part of twenty minutes with them. Actually, they were the ones to end the conversation, if that means anything.
Nice folks--as Peter Kreeft says in another context: "They are our patients, not our enemies."
So I was pleasant--in demeanor, at least. I was prepping to mow the lawn and had yet to shower. In fact, I suspect I looked like Jon Kruk after a week of deer camp. I just hope I didn't smell like him.
For the most part, I listened, interested in getting a feel for their approach. It bounced around a lot, from scripture to unconnected scripture. From Hebrews to First Peter to the Psalms to Genesis. Quite the dizzying tour. It presumed some kind of Christian background, however stunted and unwatered--in fact, I don't see how it would make the least dent on a non-Christian. As a result, there is a welcome reverence for the Bible (their dubious translation, natch, though none of those verses came into play) and it's the only argument presented--apart from reading the signs of the times. Indeed, apocalyptic themes predominated--"it's never been this bad" being the general tenor of the presentation.
Naturally, based on the JW worldview, it all started with the First World War and now manifests itself in such varegated phenomena as pedophilia.
He tried to get me to sign on to the concept that the Bible is the sole means by which we can judge the times. Now let me nip a sola scriptura firestorm in the bud right now--he wasn't limiting it to revelatory truth. He was arguing that it was the sole frame of reference--period. Philosophy, history, etc. had to be shunted aside, with the sole exception being the history of the last century as read through the prism of the Witnesses. That's sola nostra, not sola scriptura. It also made not the slightest positive impression.
Anyway, it ended after twenty minutes or so, and apparently they will be back. [Said without an Austrian accent.]
Now, I know there's a split of opinion on engaging the Witnesses--whether the door should be politely closed or not. If you are comfortable with it, engage--but don't drop prooftext bombs on them from the start. Listen and try not to arch your eyebrow too much.
If nothing else, you have engaged in delaying tactics worthy of Fabius and have kept them from speaking to someone else more likely to be roped in.
Yesterday, I stumbled across an Animal Planet special about a probably-extinct giant reptile called the megalania. Topping out at twenty feet long and upwards of half a ton in weight, the megalania's bite injected a toxic bacteria into its victims which caused them to expire of blood poisoning in the unlikely event the prey managed to escape. It is believed that the creature could see into the infrared spectrum and hunted by heat signature.
The megalania has the distinction of being the largest reptile to coexist with man, and the aboriginal settlers had the misfortune of being the humans who ran into this fearsome predator. The aboriginal oral histories preserve accounts of the beast.
But the megalania proved to be even more unfortunate, meeting a much deadlier foe. Fast, strong and largely unaffected by the humans' primitive weaponry, the aboriginal settlers realized there was no way to stand toe-to-toe with the reptile. After losing people to the megalania, the aboriginals quickly adapted. Recognizing that lizards are slower in the morning, they scouted the general section of the grasslands where the creature lived and broke out their weapon of mass destruction: Fire.
Staking out that area in the early morning, the settlers set fire to the region. By the time the megalania roused itself sufficiently to the danger, it was barbeque.