Active Contemplation—Wait, What?

Dripping Shower Head

I've sometimes thought that Dominican contemplation is very active contemplation, because Dominicans are active contemplatives.Religious orders are often described as being "active," working in the world, or "contemplative", praying behind walls. Dominicans, by contrast, are said to be "active contemplatives", embracing the activity of preaching, where preaching flows from contemplation. Somewhere (I cannot find it at the moment) I read that St. Thomas Aquinas looked at the merits of the … [Read more...]

Review: Night and Demons, by David Drake


Night and Demons is a collection of some of David Drake's short stories. Each story has a brief introduction by the author, and though this is nowhere made explicit I gather from them that this is a collection of Drake's early work. Whether that was the intent or no, it's certainly a showcase of Drake's influences, from H.P Lovecraft to Robert Howard to Fritz Leiber to L. Sprague de Camp to Manly Wade Wellman—and that list should give you a good notion of what you're likely to find h … [Read more...]

Signs That You’re Not With It

Coffee splash

That moment when you discover that there was more than one cup of coffee left in the pot because the excess is spreading across the counter and burning your fingers.I usually write my Thomas Aquinas pieces a couple of days in advance, but between family vacation and catching a cold it didn't happen. (Really, the vacation would have been sufficient. The cold is just gravy.) I hope to do better by next Monday.____ photo credit: dongga BS via photopin cc … [Read more...]

Lumen Fidei: The Gift of Baptism

Baptism of Christ

 In chapter 3 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis is talking about the role of the sacraments in the life of faith. In paragraphs 41 through 43, he talks specifically about the sacrament of baptism, and makes several salient points.First, baptism is a communal thing: it is how the faith is passed on: Baptism makes us see, then, that faith is not the achievement of isolated individuals; it is not an act which someone can perform on his own, but rather something which must be received by … [Read more...]

Adventures in Clojure: Saving the Day


See the previous installment here.It's a big part of the philosophy of Clojure programming that you keep mutable state (data that can change) separate from immutable state (data that cannot change). There are a number of good reasons for doing this; the one that the Clojure books usually trot out is that it makes supporting concurrency easier because you don't need to synchronize reads and writes to data that never changes.Concurrency isn't all that important to a single-user text … [Read more...]

Bertie Fit the Battle of Jericho!


Because I enjoyed it so much last week, here's another track from Hugh Laurie's album Let Them Talk: "The Battle of Jericho". Give it a little bit; it starts slow and then builds. … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Cat Maintenance

Monkey Typing

After we do the washing-up, I get to spend the rest of the evening reading FAQs on cat maintenance on the web. It takes about half an hour to come to the unwelcome realization that they’re almost as complex as home-brew gaming PCs, and have even more failure modes. (When your gaming PC malfunctions it doesn’t stealthily dump core in your shoes.)— Charles Stross, The Rhesus ChartBob Howard, computer geek, comes to terms with owning a cat. … [Read more...]

Poodle Skirts

Poodle Skirt

I once knew a lady who house-trained poodles for poodle skirts. It's a harder job than you might think, house-training a dog who's going to be hanging on to a skirt for dear life at sock hops and the like, but she was good at it. She took her poodles to competitions and won many prizes.In the end, though, her career ended in sadness. She'd been training a truly promising poodle, almost completely flat from side-to-side, with excellent gripping skills and perfect bladder control, a poodle … [Read more...]

Review: The Rhesus Chart, by Charles Stross


The Rhesus Chart, Charles Stross' latest outing in "The Laundry Files", came out on the 1st of July, and I'd devoured it by midnight on the 3rd.Here's the background, if you're not a hopeless computer/Lovecraft geek. Bob Howard, once a budding British maths student, is now an employee of a shadowy British secret service office called "The Laundry", whose task it is to preserve the British public from having their minds and other body parts devoured by Lovecraftian horrors from other … [Read more...]