We Are Promises of Goodness

Jacob's ladder

Have you ever gotten stuck while reading a book? I don't mean "stuck" as in "unable to read another word"; I mean "stuck" as in "this paragraph has grabbed me and won't let go."While preparing to lead the formation group for my Lay Dominican chapter this year, I came across this odd little book, published in the 1950's, that identifies itself on the spine as My Way of Life by St. Thomas. The title page proclaims it as My Way of Life: Pocket Edition of St. Thomas, The Summa Simplified for … [Read more...]

Ngaio Marsh: Death in a White Tie


I’ve been re-reading Ngaio Marsh’s “Roderick Alleyn” mysteries in publication order; and one of my favorites so far in this read-through is Death in a White Tie, which is set in 1938 or thereabouts but still manages to evoke Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances.   You have the young debutantes, and the various balls and other events associated with their “coming out”; you have the ambitious mamas, on the look out for noble suitors for their young ladies; you have the fathers, stuffy or otherwise; y … [Read more...]

Today’s Aquinas: Do Humans and Animals Think in the Same Way?


Last week’s discussion of “nobler beings” predictably started a comment thread about the nature of intelligence and the intelligence of animals, with excursions on language and tool use.  Thomas believed (as did Aristotle before him) that human intelligence is qualitatively different than animal intelligence—that human beings are defined as being the kind of animal that reasons.  I might add that reason, to Thomas, encompassed more than logical argumentation.  Human reason encompasses three thing … [Read more...]

Gopher Tuna!

Gopher Tuna! Bring More Tuna! Statue of Big Dog with Fleas!I've posted this one before, but it's been that kind of a week, and I decided this would go down well. … [Read more...]

Paarfi of Roundwood on Errands

Printing Press

“This is the camp of Lord Adron?” said Khaavren.“None other,” said the Dragonlord.“Well, this camp is then just what I have been seeking, for I have an errand to His Highness that trembles with impatience and bites its lips with frustration at any delay; wherefore, good soldier, I ask that you let me by so that I and my errand can come to an understanding with each other. I am called Khaavren of Castlerock, and I have the honor to be Captain of His Majesty’s Imperial Guard, and it is on … [Read more...]

Second Look: Amazon Echo after One Week

Amazon Echo

Last week I posted my immediate reaction to Amazon's new "Echo" thingy*. (I use the word "thingy" advisedly, because I'm still not sure what to call it.) Here's a second look, after a week's experience.First, I like it very much as a music player. I've gotten used to listening to music over the speakers in my iMac or my iPad, and the Echo sounds much nicer. Plus, I'd forgotten how music sounds when it fills the room from a point some distance away from my ear. The voice commands work … [Read more...]

Learning Something New: Establishing a Bridgehead

The Explorer Sets Out

Over the last couple of days I’ve been looking through some of the books (and by “books” I mean books, with covers and paper pages) I’ve bought over the last ten years, in an attempt to bring some order to my bedroom and den.  I’ve been using Kindle for most of my fiction reading since the first Amazon Kindle, and so most of the books I’ve been looking at involve my various interests over that period.  I’ve acquired a lot of books about photography (a big interest in the 2005-2006 time frame), an … [Read more...]

Today’s Aquinas: Nobler Beings? Who says?


Last week a reader took issue with Thomas’ use of the term “nobler beings” as being a subjective judgement.  Here is the passage in question: Another consideration: among the various perfections of things, the chief are intellect and will. A sign of this is that they are found in the nobler beings. (Emphasis mine.)  The word “noble” is a fraught one in American usage.  We either associate it with altruistic self-sacrifice (as in “a noble act”) or with the whole European social scheme we left be … [Read more...]

They’ve Seen Him Out Dressed In My Clothes

Johnny Cash sings the best song about Original Sin I've ever heard: "The Beast in Me"."...the beast in me/That everybody knows/They've seen him out dressed in my clothes..."Yes, I rather suspect they have.The beast in me Is caged by frail and fragile bars Restless by day And by night rants and rages at the stars God help the beast in meThe beast in me Has had to learn to live with pain And how to shelter from the rain And in the twinkling of an eye Might have to be … [Read more...]