Jerry Reed Gives Us The Bird

So the other day I discovered that my wife Jane, the country music fan in the family, had nevertheless never heard Jerry Reed's song "The Bird"; and it occurred to me that you might not have either. While sitting in a bar, a fellow meets a guy with a bird that sings like Willie Nelson...and it goes on from there. Here it is, with Reed's trademark guitar fireworks and goofy lyrics. Even if you're not a country fan, you ought to give it a listen. … [Read more...]

Patrick O’Brian on Having Your Cake

Author Patrick O'Brian

Jack Aubrey sometimes misspeaks, and Stephen Maturin is always ready to help. Here, all hands are needed to get the Surprise ready for sea, and so Jack Aubrey has stopped all shore leave:‘May you not find the men grow wilful and discontented? May they not, with a united mind, rush violently from the ship?’‘They will not be pleased. But they know we must catch the monsoon with a well-found ship; and they know they are in the Navy – they have chosen their cake, and must lie on it.’ … [Read more...]

Should Luke Trust His Feelings?


I was watching Star Wars with my kids during our vacation last summer, and repeatedly heard Obi-Wan tell Luke to trust his feelings. I usually dismiss this as New Age claptrap; but this time I pondered it for a while: what does it mean, to trust your feelings? And is there a sense in which Luke truly ought to trust his feelings?It seems to me that the word "feelings" has at least three distinct meanings: emotions (which is what people usually mean, I think), sensory perceptions, and acts … [Read more...]

Review: H.M.S. Surprise, by Patrick O’Brian


Last week and the week before I reviewed the first two books in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series of sea stories, Master and Commander and Post Captain, two books I enjoy greatly, but which have pitfalls for the unwary reader. In those reviews I tried to highlight those pitfalls, and explain them; so that, being forearmed, as it were, readers who had tried O'Brian and failed to appreciate them might try, try again and make it through.H.M.S. Surprise, one of my favorite books of all … [Read more...]

CT 13: God Not A Genus

Not just any animals, these are puppies!

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the previous chapter, Thomas showed that God's essence can not be represented as a genus and a specific difference, and thus God is not a species within a genus.  Now he goes on to show that God isn't a genus, either.  It does not strike me as likely that He could be, mind you, but Thomas is always thorough.Let me note again: these terms, genus and spec … [Read more...]

The Enlightened Family: Why, It All Makes Sense!

Father and son

In paragraphs 52 and 53 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis talks about the light that faith shines upon the family; and it's a light of considerable brightness.In normal human terms, a family arises when a man and woman marry and have children. It's the natural social unit larger than an individual by which people support each other, and in which children are raised and educated. But the light of faith reveals so much more:The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the … [Read more...]

Sudo, Sudon’t: Decreasing the Cognitive Load


Last week I talked about the joys of using the "sudo" command to manage resources installed as "root" on Unix-like systems, and some of the unpleasant links you have to jump through in the name of security.The context of the discussion was ActiveTcl's "teapot", which is a repository of Tcl library packages available to all Tcl programmers on the machine. That's a very good thing; and it's because the teapot serves all users that it's installed in a central position that's owned by … [Read more...]

Remembering Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach

I don't really remember Dionne Warwick. Well, except that she sang a surprising number of songs I never ever think about, except that I recognize them immediately when I happen upon—or they come across my eclectic Pandora channel. When I think of the 1960's, I think rock'n'roll and hippies and psychedelia; but it was also the era of Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick, and their songs were very much in the air when I was small.Here's one I recently rediscovered; and gosh, can't she sing? ( … [Read more...]

How to Describe Characters

Monkey Typing

Magrat arrived at as near to a run as was possible in the queen outfit, which ought to have had castors. * * * * *Ponder said nothing. When you’re a cork in someone else’s stream of consciousness, all you can do is spin and bob in the eddies. * * * * *Granny Weatherwax seemed to generate a gyroscopic field—if you started out off-balance, she saw to it that you remained there. — Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies. … [Read more...]