Word I Wish I’d Written: Sweaters

It really was an awful garment, that pullover. It had a queasy zigzag pattern, in many strange, unhappy colors. It looked like something knitted as a present by a colorblind aunt, the sort of thing you wouldn’t dare throw away in case the garbage collectors laughed at you and kicked your trash cans over.— Terry Pratchett, Thud!Now that's an awful sweater! … [Read more...]

The Long and the Short of Infinite Regressions

One of my favorite philosophy bloggers is James Chastek at Just Thomism. I find his posts more challenging than Ed Feser's (one of my other favorites); Feser's usually going out of his to explain Thomism (and Scholastic philosophy in general) to those outside the tradition, while Chastek's posts are more usually reflections or even meditations on something he's been pondering. As such they take longer to read and appreciate, and far too often I don't make the attempt. I've long thought that I … [Read more...]

Review: Killing Rommel, by Steven Pressfield

Field Marshall Rommel

Most of Steven Pressfield's war novels take place in the distant past; Killing Rommel takes place more recently, in the North African desert during the World War II British campaign against the Germans.  Germany's Afrika Korps was commanded by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the "Desert Fox"; a highly decorated veteran of World War I, Rommel was one of the most skilled commanders on either side of the war, and defeating him took the combined efforts of General George S. Patton, Field Marshall Mo … [Read more...]

CT 3.4: The End of the Causal Chain

In which we see what's at the end of the causal chain. Continuing my look at Chapter 3 of the Compendium Theologiae. The complete series is here.In the previous posts on this chapter, we saw that when Thomas uses examples, he's illustrating a principle, not offering evidence for it; that even obsolete science had some sense to it, and can still be useful as an illustration; and that there are two kinds of causal chains. In one kind of causal chain we have a sequence of "movers", each of … [Read more...]

Lumen Fidei: When Practice and Theory Don’t Match

Angry man with knife

There's an old joke that's not really a joke: Q: What's the difference between theory and practice? A: In theory, there's no difference; and in practice there is.This is actually the best description of the difference between theory and practice that I've seen, and it gets to the heart of it. Theory is clean, pure, and ideal; practice is real, messy, and human. Practice can approach theory in the best of us...and then, there's the rest of us.Last week, I wrote that Christian truth is … [Read more...]

A Voyage to Mars, by Sea-Plane

In December of 2004, scientists from the Hawaii Underwater Research Lab discovered the sunken hulk of a seaplane called the Marshall Mars, one of six giant seaplanes built for the U.S. Navy by the Martin Corporation during World War II. After Pearl Harbor, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser responded to fears of Japanese submarines preying on American shipping by suggesting that his shipyards turn out a fleet of flying boats. He eventually teamed up with Howard Hughes to build the Spruce Goose. The … [Read more...]

The Power of Primary Sources


There's a neat guest post at Sarah Hoyt's blog about the importance to budding writers of reading primary sources in other eras and places: it expands your horizons. She says,An aspiring writer ought to read history. Lots of it. Even if — perhaps especially if — he intends to write SF or fantasy and build societies of his own. And the most important thing he should read is primary source, which is to say, stuff that was actually written at the time. Jane’s letter to her Aunt Hortensia. Esm … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Chess

Vimes had never got on with any game much more complex than darts. Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could’ve been a republic in a dozen moves.— Terry Pratchett, Thud!Sam Vimes is the commander of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch; he comes from a long line of "coppers", an … [Read more...]

Levon Helm and the Dixie Hummingbirds: When I Go Away

A few years before his death, Levon Helm of The Band recorded an album called Electric Dirt; and on that album he sang a surprisingly upbeat song about dying called "When I Go Away". I fell in love with it the first time I heard it:For his sake, I hope he was indeed "bound for glory" when he went away.More recently, I've been hearing another version of the song by an all-male gospel group called the Dixie Hummingbirds. There's no very good video of it on YouTube; the only one I … [Read more...]