Julian May’s Saga of the Pliocene Exile is a collection of four books: The Many Colored Land, The Golden Torc, The Non-Born King, and The Adversary.  It was first published back in the 1980’s; I remember reading positive reviews of it in Analog Science Fiction and thinking it sounded rather uninteresting. The reviews, as I remember them, conveyed something like this to me: A hundred years or so in our future, a French physicist named Guderian has invented a time machine that only works… Read more

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here. Thomas has shown that God has a divine will, and that His will is the same as His intellect.  His next move is more of the same: Hence it is also clear that the divine will is the very act of willing in God. As has been pointed out, God’s will is identical with the good willed by Him. But this would be impossible if… Read more

Last week I posted that video of misheard lyrics to “O Fortuna”, from Carl Orff’s playful (and occasionally disturbing) music set to poems and lyrics written by medieval monks who were no better than they should be. The “Gopher Tuna” video uses a fairly standard interpretation of “O Fortuna”; but back in the early ’80’s Ray Manzarek, keyboard player for The Doors, recorded his own arrangement of the entire Carmina Burana on modern instruments. The vocals are traditional, but the… Read more

She was fifty and tall for a Frenchwoman. Her figure was impressive, her hair rigidly groomed, her dress admirable. She had the air of being encased in a transparent, closely-fitting film that covered her head as well as her clothes and permitted no disturbance of her surface. Her voice had edge. She used the faultless diction and balanced phraseology of the foreigner who has perfect command but no love of the English language. — Ngaio Marsh, Swing, Brother, Swing The… Read more

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… Read more

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… Read more

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 things, the Three Acts of the Mind. First,… Read more

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

“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… Read more

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… Read more

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