Review: Going Postal


So last night I finished reading Terry Pratchett's Going Postal to my wife and kids. Going Postal is in an odd category: it's a full-fledge novel that I have only ever read aloud. I read it to Jane when it was first released, and now to Jane and my kids. Jane and I loved it on the first reading, and I'm glad to say that it held up on the second reading.In fact, I might go so far as to say that Going Postal is one of Pratchett's best, and it's certainly one of my favorites, in part because … [Read more...]

CT 7: The Everlasting Existence of God

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.When I first read Chapter 7 of the Compendium, I rather thought that Thomas was repeating himself. In Chapter 3 he showed that God exists; in Chapter 5, he showed that God is eternal. Here in Chapter 7, he's showing that God exists "always". Hasn't he already done that?I think the key is the distinction between the words eternal and always. As I argued in … [Read more...]

Lumen Fidei: Claiming the Community


In paragraph 45 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis makes a point about the Profession of Faith that I hadn't previously considered: the Creed isn't simply a statement of abstract belief, to which we give assent. In it, we are making claims about God and claims about our relationship to Him and to other Christians; and we are truly claiming a place in that community:The creed does not only involve giving one’s assent to a body of abstract truths; rather, when it is recited the whole of life is d … [Read more...]

Adventures in Clojure: Nearly Constant Data


As I noted last week, the Clojure way is to keep immutable (unchanging) data separate from the mutable data. Thus, you keep the network of rooms distinct from the data structure that indicates where the player and other things are at the present time. The latter changes while the game runs, and the former doesn't.At least, that's the theory. As I showed a couple of weeks ago, you can define the world map as a single, immutable data structure, and never change it thereafter. But there are … [Read more...]

My, My, This Here Anakin Guy…

We were on vacation last week, and during the week the kids managed to watch all six movies in the Star Wars saga. (It was that kind of vacation.) The best part of the whole film fest was this video, from the extras disk: "Star Wars: The Saga Begins", by Weird Al Yankovic. (Full disclosure: I own the vinyl of Weird Al's first album. I was given it by my best friend's mom out of a clear blue sky when I was in high school, because it seemed like my kind of thing.)And having played … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: On Murder

“You mean you knew there was going to be a murder before it even happened?” Ribaud said in disbelief. “Didn’t somebody do something?”“Son, around here, you always know about a murder ahead of time,” Parry replied calmly. He drained the rest of his soda in a great swallow. “That don’t mean it’s healthy to mix in another man’s quarrel.”— David Drake, Night & Demons … [Read more...]

Active Contemplation—Wait, What?

Dripping Shower Head

I've sometimes thought that Dominican contemplation is very active contemplation, because Dominicans are active contemplatives.Religious orders are often described as being "active," working in the world, or "contemplative", praying behind walls. Dominicans, by contrast, are said to be "active contemplatives", embracing the activity of preaching, where preaching flows from contemplation. Somewhere (I cannot find it at the moment) I read that St. Thomas Aquinas looked at the merits of the … [Read more...]

Review: Night and Demons, by David Drake


Night and Demons is a collection of some of David Drake's short stories. Each story has a brief introduction by the author, and though this is nowhere made explicit I gather from them that this is a collection of Drake's early work. Whether that was the intent or no, it's certainly a showcase of Drake's influences, from H.P Lovecraft to Robert Howard to Fritz Leiber to L. Sprague de Camp to Manly Wade Wellman—and that list should give you a good notion of what you're likely to find h … [Read more...]

Signs That You’re Not With It

That moment when you discover that there was more than one cup of coffee left in the pot because the excess is spreading across the counter and burning your fingers.I usually write my Thomas Aquinas pieces a couple of days in advance, but between family vacation and catching a cold it didn't happen. (Really, the vacation would have been sufficient. The cold is just gravy.) I hope to do better by next Monday. … [Read more...]