Stephen Maturin on Losing at Chess

Chess men

Captain Jack Aubrey is on a mission in the Baltic, and accompanying him is a young Swedish officer named Jagiello. One evening after dinner, Stephen Maturin and Jagiello have occasion to play chess.‘What is that noise, like bears on the roof?’ asked Jagiello, breaking off.‘It is the launching of a boat. And from the howling of the mariners I collect that it will be some time before we see our dessert. What say you to a game of chess while we are waiting? It may be no conclusive test … [Read more...]

Notebook V2.2.0 Rises From The Dead

Notebook 2.1 splash

Many years ago (in 2005) I released a piece of software called Notebook v2.1.3. I'd been working on it for four or five years by that time. As to what it did...I assume everyone reading this knows what a Wiki is? Notebook was a kind of personal wiki, for use on your desktop or laptop computer. Or, if this helps, think of it as a precursor to something like EverNote, only without the cloud. We didn't have clouds in those days; we had to make our own rain.I went on to trying something … [Read more...]

CT 15: The Unicity of God

Individuals univocally called "dogs".

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.Now we begin to see the payoff from the dry metaphysics of the previous three chapters as Thomas proves that there is only one God.The conclusion is evident that there can be but one God. If there were many gods, they would be called by this name either equivocally or univocally.To use a word equivocally is simply to use it with multiple unrelated mean … [Read more...]

Becoming Family and Encouraging the Unnoticed

Family Tree

Last week Katrina Fernandez, my fellow Patheoso, issued this cry from the heart: Overlooked and Dismissed During the Synod, How Single Parents Continue to be Regarded in the Church.... As a single mom, she feels isolated and unnoticed at Church. Greater participation in parish activities isn't the answer; she doesn't have enough time for everything she needs to be doing now.This led to a discussion amongst us all as to how best to welcome and encourage single moms, and members of other … [Read more...]

An Apology to Weathervanes


I've often heard one politician or another described as a political weathervane: no matter which way the political winds blow, such a man turns with them. It's not intended to be a compliment; to be a weathervane is to opportunistic, wishy-washy, and unprincipled.But it strikes me that that's an insult to weathervanes. A good weathervane is a tool to tell the direction of the wind. And since the North wind comes from the north, a weathervane points not with the wind, but into the wind. … [Read more...]

Beautiful Code One Screen at a Time

As I wrote last week, the software's source code is the design; and that means it needs to be clear and easy to read; and that means it needs to be clear and easy to read at the lowest level, as it appears when you're looking at a bit of it on your screen.Here's an example, one routine from Quill's support library: # lshift listvar # # listvar - The name of a list variable # # Pops and returns the argument from the front # of the list stored in the variable.proc ::quill::lshift … [Read more...]

Marty Robbins: Old-Fashioned Cowboy Music

Until I started listening to Pandora I didn't appreciate the difference been "Country" music and "Western" music. I was a rock'n'roll kind of kid, and despised anything heard on "Country+Western" radio stations, and so I never picked up on the subtleties. My tastes have broadened as I've gotten older, though, and bit by bit Pandora's been chipping away at my prejudices. (I made the mistake of adding Johnny Horton as a seed to one of my Pandora stations, and after that, well....)One of the … [Read more...]

Jack Aubrey on Proper Table Manners at Sea

The beef is not impressed.

Captain Jack Aubrey of His Majesty's Navy has invited several officers and guests to dinner; but due to circumstances beyond his control he has no private stores, and they must eat what the crew eats.‘Perhaps you would be so kind as to cut up Mr Jagiello’s beef for him,’ said Jack to Mr Hyde, nodding at his guest’s bandaged hand.‘By all means, sir,’ cried the lieutenant, and he set to his laborious task. The beef had been to the West Indies and back, and now, in its raw state, it co … [Read more...]

Jim Morrison, #synod14, and Living Life on the Hedge

Hard to see through.

I remember hearing a radio documentary about Doors frontman Jim Morrison many years ago. One of his bandmates kept saying approvingly, "Jim was a guy who lived life on the edge." And he did; but it was the edge of a cliff, and eventually he fell over the edge and died young. And I wondered, "Why is living on the edge supposed to be a good thing?" Decades later, I'm still wondering.But last week's Synod on the Family discussions got me thinking. One of the themes of the Synod is the … [Read more...]