Either/Or, Both/And, This-then-That


I frequently read on one blog or another that Catholics aren't either/or, we're both/and. And this is true: not feasting OR fasting, but feasting AND fasting, each in its proper season. Not celibacy OR marriage, but celibacy for some AND marriage for others.I ran into another example or either/or thinking recently during an on-line discussion of the man who was shot for texting during a movie. I see two facts, here:A man was texting during a movie, which is rude; the light from the … [Read more...]

Word I Wish I’d Written: Self-Confidence

As she plunged down toward the forest roof in a long shallow dive she reflected that there was possibly something complimentary in the way Granny Weatherwax resolutely refused to consider other people’s problems. It implied that, in her considerable opinion, they were quite capable of sorting them out by themselves. Some kind of Change spell was probably in order. Magrat concentrated. Well, that seemed to work. Nothing in the sight of mortal man had in fact changed. What Magrat had achieved was a … [Read more...]

S’Mary’s World: The Knights Particular


The colony of S'Mary's World was originally established as a number of politically independent but economically interdependent settlements, all under the general guidance of the Prefecture. The system worked well in the earliest years of the Hard Times, when the colonists were reasonably united in purpose and the fight for survival necessarily took precedence over internecine squabbling. As agriculture was established and the next generation grew to maturity, eroding that unity, friction … [Read more...]

The Measure With Which You Measure

Poverty Rate

Apropos of Monday's post about Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics, Mike Flynn (science fiction writer and statistician) carries on with a related problem: the measure with which you measure. He looks at the U.S. poverty rate over the last 50 years: the percentage of the population that's living below the poverty line. We have data on the poverty rate going back to LBJ's war on poverty, which began fifty years ago.But what is that data, really? It's a measurement; and unless you know … [Read more...]

Strong Poison, by Dorothy Sayers

Dorothy Sayers' Peter Wimsey series takes an abrupt left turn with the fifth book, Strong Poison. Detective novelist Harriet Vane is on trial for the murder of her lover by arsenical poisoning. She had opportunity; they had been lovers. She had motive; she'd left him due to something he'd done. And she has know-how: she's just written a novel involving arsenical poisoning, and is known to have had possession of some arsenic. Lord Peter, on the other hand is not so sure. It might have been … [Read more...]

Crusader Cooties!

Seems that Tom McDonald's middle schooler brought home a handout about the Crusades, a topic about which Tom knows more than something. The handout had issues (and possibly the complete subscription). Tom gives it an outstanding fisking. If you're not wedded to the "evil crusaders/saintly Muslims" narrative (and you shouldn't be), you should give it a read. From my reading of history (which is not as extensive as Tom's) he's got it exactly right. … [Read more...]

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics


Every day we read statistics about everything under the sun: "Eating a bar of chocolate every day reduces your chance of dying of acute hydrophobia by 23%", or "People who are more than 20 pounds over weight are 90% more likely to die during cataract surgery." We see them, and if we like them we share them with our FaceBook friends and if we don't we harrumph and click on something else. We can't avoid them, because statistics is the killer tool for virtually all research involving human … [Read more...]

Divine Office, Part III: Fruit for Meditation

The Rosary is not just a prayer, it's a meditation on the life of Christ. Similarly, the Liturgy of the Hours is not just a set of prayers; it is also fruit for meditation.First, (as I seem to keep saying) the Divine Office is based around the Psalms. I hadn't really gotten to know the Psalms all that well before I started praying the Office; they are poetry (which is usually not to my taste) (which is a sad commentary on my taste), and poetry needs to be lived with. The Psalms speak of … [Read more...]

My Life with the Lord of the Rings


This was first posted in January of 2004.I first read The Lord of the Rings the summer I turned ten. My elder siblings had all read it, and I wanted to know what it was all about. I remember spending one entire afternoon and early evening sitting in a lawn chaise on our patio, continuing to read as the sun went down and it got darker and darker, because I was in a hurry to finish and find out what happened.Bang! That was it; The Lord of the Rings was officially my favorite book. And … [Read more...]