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...]

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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...]

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Today’s Aquinas: Nobler Beings? Who says?

ThomasAquinas

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...]

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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...]

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First Look: Amazon Echo, or Alexa Tells You All About It

Amazon Echo

So in a fit of madness I pre-ordered an Amazon Echo when they were announced a couple of months ago, and it arrived on my doorstep this afternoon. I say a fit of madness because I'm not usually an early-adopter; but I was in a susceptible mood and it seemed like it might be cool, maybe, possibly, perhaps, a little.My first reaction, having spent fifteen minutes or so with it—this thing is pretty darn nifty.So what it is it? Well, that's it over there to the right. It's a black c … [Read more...]

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Living on a Prayer Trigger

Archer

St. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing.  Just what that means is not entirely clear; opinions range from continuously (literally, every waking moment) to continually, on a very regular basis.  In the Eastern tradition, for example, it's a recognize devotion to say the Jesus prayer under your breath as continuously as possible.Me, I come down somewhere in the middle.  As I related few months ago, I have a regular daily prayer schedule as a Lay Dominican, so I certainly do pray co … [Read more...]

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Ngaio Marsh: Vintage Murder

Ngaio_Marsh_by_Henry_Herbert_Clifford_ca_1935,_crop

Ngaio Marsh’s first novel, A Man Lay Dead, is a competent, entertaining mystery, and already quite distinct in tone from the work of Marsh’s contemporaries; yet, as I noted last week, it’s still lacking that which makes Marsh’s novels so special.  By Vintage Murder, the fifth “Roderick Alleyn” novel*, Marsh has quite hit her stride and her skill is in full force.I chose this one because it is the first in which Inspector Alleyn is shorn of his regular support, and in particular of his “Watson … [Read more...]

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Today’s Aquinas: With God, Knowing is Doing

ThomasAquinas

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.If you've been paying attention then Thomas' next move should be unsurprising.  First, Thomas showed that God is simply One.  Then he showed that God has intellect; and that His intellect is the same as Himself: we approach some small understanding of God by considering His intellect as a distinct thing, but God is without part: He is all One.  Lastly, Thomas has … [Read more...]

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Chris Barber: The Ballad of the Liver Bird?

The "Liver Bird"? Really? What on earth is that?What it is, is a song from from a 1964 Lionel Bart musical called Maggie May, about a Liverpool streetwalker and her sailor boyfriend. The "Ballad of the Liver Bird" serves as the overture and the finale. I glanced at the song list and didn't recognize any of the titles except "Maggie, Maggie May", which it turns out is not the song of the same name by Rod Stewart, but is rather a folk tune. You might have heard the Beatles sing it as … [Read more...]

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