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...]

Wishful Thinking vs. Prayer

It occurred to me after finishing this post that perhaps the individuals in question believe that affirmations actually change objective reality, as opposed to one's attitude. It seems that there are people who believe this.In my view, though, this is to confuse wishful thinking with prayer. Prayer—I'm speaking particularly of prayer of supplication—isn't simply a matter of warm positive thoughts, prayed with intensity, as though I can will something to happen without taking concrete act … [Read more...]

One Piece at a Time

Because I need a lift, and because Johnny Cash is always good, here's an unusual way to bring home a Cadillac: … [Read more...]

Meme Watch: Their Story vs. Your Story


I ran across this meme on Facebook a couple of times recently, and as so often I asked myself, "Well, OK, it's affirming; but is it true?"I've written elsewhere about the ambiguity inherent in aphorisms, and the same can apply to memes. Ms. Occelli meant something by it; the people who shared it on Facebook meant something by it; but as I've no context from any of them, I can't say how precisely or generally they understood it. All I can do is interpret it based on what it says. So, just … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: My Wife’s Room

I followed him out, along the hall, and into a room that one glance told me would suit my wife fine if I ever had a wife, which I probably wouldn’t because she would probably want that kind of room.— Rex Stout, The Final Deduction … [Read more...]

S’Mary’s World: St. Michael’s Old Peculiars

St. Michael's Old Peculiars is the name given by long custom to the Brothers of St. Michael, who form the bodyguard of the Archprefect of S'Mary's World. The Old Peculiars existed from the colony's earliest days; its initial members were drawn from the security force carried by the colony ship Our Lady of Loreto. (The reasons for the inclusion of such a large force on the Loreto are unclear from the historical record.)The name "Peculiars" derives from the force's legal status. During the … [Read more...]

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, by Dorothy Sayers

Old General Fentiman has a ticktock life. Every morning he rises and goes to the Bellona Club, where he sits in his particular chair by the fire—his chair not by purchase or reservation, but by long custom. And there he sits, nearly motionless, until it is time to return home that afternoon. Someone jokes that he could die right there in his chair, and it might be hours before anyone would notice.And then, of course, Colonel Marchbanks goes to speak to him, and he is, in fact, d … [Read more...]

Don’t Objectify Your Friends

Last week I wrote about Friendship Evangelism, a technique for evangelism that I was taught in college lo these many years ago, and that is still around. I was prompted by a wiki page on fifteen steps to persuade a Christian to become an atheist, a page I found kind of creepy; but my point wasn't to criticize the atheists involved, but to reflect that if I find it creepy when they do it, they probably find it creepy when we do it. I went on from there to talk about friendship evangelism and … [Read more...]

The Evolution of Spam

There was a time maybe ten years ago when most of the spam I got was pitching internet pornography. I didn't want any, but at least it was making an appeal to my worser self. Now I get spam for credit checks and political FUD, which don't appeal at all, in any way, no how. And people are making money doing this? … [Read more...]