How to Describe Characters

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...]

The Family that Mines Together, Dines Together

The Village of Maryland

So my youngest (who is ten) came to me on Sunday afternoon and said, "Daddy? Will you play a Minecraft LAN game with me?" She loves playing Minecraft, and building outrageous pink and gold structures, but sometimes she wants company.Now, Minecraft is designed to be multiplayer, but in our house it's generally played single-player because we've never managed to get it to play reliably on our LAN. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. This particular day it didn't, and after about … [Read more...]

Review: Post Captain, by Patrick O’Brian


Post Captain is the second volume of Patrick O'Brian's well-known Aubrey/Maturin series; and as with my review of Master and Commander I'm writing this with an eye to those who have tried to read O'Brian and have failed. Most fail in the first book, for reasons I noted last week; but some last to the second, and here again the failure is understandable.Do not get me wrong: Post Captain is not a bad book; I've read it with enjoyment a number of times, most recently this past week. But it's … [Read more...]

CT 12: God Not Contained Under Any Genus

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the previous chapter, Thomas shows that God's essence is simply existence itself, ipsum esse, a point he'd been working up to for some chapters.  In this chapter and several that follow, he's concerned to prove some corollaries, and to situate God within certain traditional metaphysical categories—or, more accurately, to show that He is a special case, and the … [Read more...]

The Terrible Contradiction of Staffing

In Chapter 4 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis notes that the story of faith isn't simply the story of a journey; it's also the story of the building of a city, a place where all can live together in peace:In presenting the story of the patriarchs and the righteous men and women of the Old Testament, the Letter to the Hebrews highlights an essential aspect of their faith. That faith is not only presented as a journey, but also as a process of building, the preparing of a place in which human … [Read more...]

Do You Sudo? Or, Increasing the Cognitive Load

One of Quill's functions is that it lets you list the third-party libraries you need, and it goes out and fetches them for you. It fetches them from ActiveState's "teapot repository", using a program called "teacup" which is delivered with ActiveTcl. And therein lies the problem.When you install ActiveTcl, it naturally wants to be installed for all users on the machine. On Windows you just need "admin" privileges, and then there's no problem. (And if you're a working programmer, and … [Read more...]

Dance to the Tune of Elsie Marley!

I have met at least two folk songs that speak in their lyrics of dancing "to the tune of Elsie Marley": the song "Byker Hill", which I blogged some while back, and Steeleye Span's "Harvest of the Moon":So my son asked at breakfast today whether I'd ever heard the tune of Elsie Marley, and did it have words? Youtube is your friend; and it turns out that it does:Di' ye ken Elsie Marley, honey The wife that sells the barley,honey She lost her pocket and all her money A-back o' … [Read more...]

Black Tuesday is on Thursday This Year

world trade center cross

Thirteen years ago, terrorist zealots killed over 3,000 people on U.S. soil. Today, their spiritual and philosophical heirs are engaging in genocide across large parts of what used to be Iraq and Syria.I don't pretend to know what America's appropriate response to ISIS should be. We could move troops in and stop it for now; but I'm not at all confident that a similar phenomenon wouldn't recur shortly after we (inevitably) pulled our troops out again.We've heard a variety of Muslim … [Read more...]

Nom Nom Nominalism

Every once in a while, on more philosophically inclined blogs, I read about the evils of nominalism; and since it has a bearing on the Aquinas series I'm posting on Mondays I thought I'd say a few things about it.According to Thomas and Aristotle, every being has an essence, what it is: a cat, a dog, a rock, a flower, a human being. Thomas and Aristotle agree with Plato that these essences are universals: all cats are cats because they share the single essence "being a cat". However, … [Read more...]