7 Quick Takes (3/1/13)

7 Quick Takes (3/1/13) March 1, 2013

— 1 —

Sorry to have been absent!  I’ve had a few 15 hour days, since I’ve arrived at my new job at a very busy time and I’m still trying to find housing and put an end to my itinerant living.  There will definitely be a more usual schedule of posting starting Wednesday, but no guarantee til then.

Luckily, I’ve got something nice for you to pass the time with.  Scott/Yvain has the updated handbook for his Dungeons and Discourses game (and he’ll help put you in contact with skype or near-you players).  Here are my favorite spells/feats this time round:

TYPE: targeted, catholic
SPELL: Transforms the victim’s body to bread and their blood into wine, doing physical damage equal to your Virtue. Any enemy killed by this spell turns into high-quality edible supplies

TYPE: targeted, number theory
SPELL: Cast on yourself or another player. While the Sieve is in place, only attacks that deal a prime number amount of damage affect the target.

TYPE: physicist, summon, skeptical
SPELL: Summons an invisible dragon. For each action the dragon takes visible to anyone besides yourself, you must come up with an alternative (non-dragon based) explanation for how it could have conceivably occurred or else the dragon disappears, or lose W.

TYPE: targeted, noncumulative
SPELL: Cast on an enemy. Summons a parasitic violinist with 10 HP who attaches herself to the target. Each turn after the first, the violinist sucks 4 HP from the target, regardless of armor or other defenses. After ten turns, the violinist recovers her health and leaves the target, and the target gets +3 Virtue and (as a gift of gratitude) a Magic Violin, which allows one casting of the spell Senseless Violins. Alternately, the target may also kill the parasitic violinist before this point by dealing 10 damage, thus avoiding the HP loss. This costs the target -3 Virtue.

— 2 —

Even though I’m snowed under, I’m still tracking my usually hobbyhorses, and I found one quote in a football-concussions article very interesting:

The postinjury test is quick — it takes about six to eight minutes — and shares many elements with the baseline test to allow a comparison that might indicate a decline in function. Both include a section on the players’ concussion history and a 24-symptom checklist; players are asked to score themselves on a scale of 1 to 6 in categories like dizziness, confusion, irritability and sleep problems. Both note any abnormal pupil reaction or neck pain. There is a balance test and a concentration test, in which players, who are usually brought to the locker room to be evaluated, are asked to say the months of the year in reverse order, to recite a string of numbers backward and to remember a collection of words three times. Then they are asked to recall them again, without warning, at least five minutes later. The words and sequence of numbers may be changed from test to test, so players cannot memorize them from a previous test to mask concussion symptoms — a fact that has annoyed players, according to Dr. Margot Putukian, the director of athletic medicine at Princeton University Health Services and a member of the N.F.L.’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee.

Auuuughhhh! (That the players are disappointed to not be able to game the test, which of course reminds me of this previous discussion of what kind of damage people consider harm).

— 3 —

Also in Leah-fodder: the canon law analysis that shows that betting on the next Pope does not cause you to be excommunicated!  But, alas, civil law still keeps me from betting on Intrade.

— 4 —

In other unusual analysis of Papal conclave news: Bruce Schneier, the awesome security expert, gives his take on the security of the voting system used by the cardinals, with this interesting note:

There are also enormous social — religious, actually — disincentives to hacking the vote. The election takes place in a chapel and at an altar. The cardinals swear an oath as they are casting their ballot — further discouragement. The chalice and paten are the implements used to celebrate the Eucharist, the holiest act of the Catholic Church. And the scrutineers are explicitly exhorted not to form any sort of cabal or make any plans to sway the election, under pain of excommunication.

It makes me wonder what, if anything, is sufficiently sacred as part of civic ritual that incorporating it into the means of voting would have a large marginal effect on fraud. (I don’t think inscribing your vote using a quill made from a bald eagle’s feathers would work.)

— 5 —

If I’m trying to cover what you’re missing by me not blogging for a week, an interesting data visualization seems necessary.  Via Flowing Data, a map of where ‘missed connections’ on craigslist were most commonly found (and tragically lost) by state.

— 6 —

I’m working long hours at what is basically my dream job, but it’s not the only extraordinary job that exists. You could be working on the Mongoliad. According to an io9 piece by Mark Teppo, they do a lot of research:

For example: in the first volume of The Mongoliad, we had a fight between one of our knights and a samurai. This was the big opening set piece, the flashy “dance number,” if you will, that was meant to draw people in. It took us six months to write it. We wrote three complete drafts, and each time we discovered that we really didn’t know what we were doing. We had an extensive choreography session, from which I’ve got hours of video footage which are funny to look at now as we spend most of our time clustered around a laptop at one end of the practice hall, trying to see what our sword expert from Finland is trying to show us over a laggy Skype connection. We learned that stopping a naginata stroke with a sword blade was laughably foolish (and have high speed video capture demonstrating this lunacy), and we discovered that a 10,000 word sword fight is probably too long. Even for sword nerds.

— 7 —

And let me send you off with a cosplay compilation video found at Fashionably Geek, so the self-parodic nature of these Quick Takes is complete!


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  • TheRealAaron

    It seems like osmosis should cause Idaho and Washington to balance out, doesn’t it?

  • deiseach

    So – tired but happy? Good luck with finding accommodation!

    And now that we won’t all be excommunicated for betting on the next pope (and seeing as how you are an American Catholic who is eligible to enter unlike us foreigners), here’s a link to a “bet on the conclave and win stuff!” site, courtesy of The Ironic Catholic.

    The prize pool currently stands at a staggering $300 (unfortunately, you don’t get the prize in cool hard cash but in the form of signed books and DVDs, although there is a restaurant gift card).

  • Mike

    #1: “parasitic violinist”, love it. They really are parasites, aren’t they? If you really stop to think about it, LOL.
    #2: I wonder how much pressure is exerted on them to game the test? Are you a wimp if you don’t try?
    #3: My bet is that they’ll select a European. Asia is still too young; NA too American, which is apparently a problem; S America too Catholic, still; and things aren’t bad enough in Europe yet, to throw things over to an African. So I think the next Pope will be an Italian.
    #4: This is something secularists suck at; inculcating reverance is not their strong suit. Voting is a gift, a privelege many people will never have. It should be more meaningful, as you say, more sacred. I always vote and can’t understand people who don’t. I don’t like the Swedish model though which forces everyone to vote.
    #5: No surprise in Nevada or California, ha ha. But what’s with Georgia, is everyone stuck in traffic?
    #6: What? LOL
    #7: Can’t access at work.

    • Darren

      #4 – So, who are you voting for for Pope? How about for God?

      • Mike

        I’d pick Dolan or the young man from I think it’s Sierra Leone I think his name is Turkson or something like that. I think it’d be good too if they picked someone from the middle east. Now that would be something.

        For God I am voting for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Christian god. He exists, the others might but if they do they’re either angels or demons.

        • Darren

          Deliberately missing the point is… frustrating…

          • Mike

            I am slow, did I miss your point?

          • ACN

            You were being smarmy about secularists, democracy, voting etc and Darren was pointing out that somewhat hypocritially you’re actively participating in an organization that denies you the right/gift/whatever to vote for who’s in charge from the lowly earthly representative up to your celestial dictator.

          • Mike

            “celestial dictator” is rude. I don’t mind interacting but try to restrain yourself a bit. You are afterall on a Catholic blog and Leah has been a gracious host. I thought Darren was being honest not facetious.

            Well ok the RCC doesn’t deny me the right to vote for Pope because I never asked for it. I don’t think it’s there for me to ask for. Priests are called, promoted to Bishops and then to Cardinals and then they decide who should succeed St. Peter. They vote but only because it is effective in decidion making not because voting has any theological portent. And I wasn’t trying to be smarmy. I honestly believe that secularists (I used to be a very very good one, as in successful at it. It still comes easily to me, in fact I feel more at ease often with secular atheists than I do with funny Churchy people – what sucks is that I think the Churchies are right and the fun urban lefties wrong; BTW sometimes I wish it weren’t so, I had a pretty good hedonistic time; anyway…)suck at making things meaningful. That’s why even if atheism grows it will look increasingly strange to people and out of touch and cold and dreary and pessimistic and well mistaken.

          • Darren

            You: backhanding non-theists for failing to appreciate the “sacred gift” of voting

            Me: unsuccessfully attempting to prompt the realization that you subscribe to an autocratic religion and a totalitarian cosmos.

          • Mike

            “autocratic religion and a totalitarian cosmos” makes you sound stupid and I know you’re not stupid.

          • ACN

            I think describing your religion as autocratic is fair game if there is an autocrat. Is our problem lingual?I think of an autocrat as someone with supreme or unlimited power and/or authority. Your religion has a central figure with unlimited power and authority, God, an autocrat. So describing your religion as ‘autocratic’ seems fair.

          • Darren

            Mike said;

            “celestial dictator” is rude. I don’t mind interacting but try to restrain yourself a bit. You are afterall on a Catholic blog and Leah has been a gracious host. I thought Darren was being honest not facetious. “

            It’s an accurate term. You may love your dictator if you like, people often do. Millions loved their Papa Joe (Stalin) and made elaborate excuses for why the bad things weren’t his fault (but they were) and how lucky there were to have a strong leader who knew what was best for them. If you wish to take the term dictator as pejorative, then it is up to you to justify why it is OK for God to be one, because he clearly is (and many have done just this, the entire field of apologetics could be arguable classified as nothing but).

            So far as rude… well, this is Leah’s blog, not the Catholic Church’s blog, and she is free to call rude when she wishes, but not so long ago she said worse and she has yet to quite explain why _she_ was wrong _then_, so I suspect she may not rush to call ACN wrong now…

            Not facetious, but with an honest desire to provoke, not argument, but thought.

          • Darren

            Mike said;

            “autocratic religion and a totalitarian cosmos” makes you sound stupid and I know you’re not stupid.”

            Clearly I am missing something. The terms autocratic and totalitarian were carefully chosen… How do they sound ‘stupid’? Are they inaccurate as applied to the RCC or the God Jehovah? I think they are perfectly accurate.

            If _you_ take them to be pejorative (as I do), then I propose it is because you have a post-Enlightenment Modern Western view of Freedom and government by the consent of the governed (as do I) – but these concepts are opposed by the reality of your Faith…

            I will be happy to listen to how autocratic does not properly apply to the RCC and how a Theistic Cosmos is not Totalitarian…

          • Mike

            Ok, you guys clearly have an axe to grind, so grind away. But you’re also acting like trolls, no?

            Anyway all the best guys. Have a great weekend and talk soon.

    • ACN

      Care to elaborate on Asia being “too young”.

      • Mike

        As in the Church. It’s still growing. It’s very very strong and big in terms of numbers, I think there are now many many millions of Catholics in east Asia alone….ohhh, sorry I meant east Asia. Sorry. Or were you setting me up for a young earth thing? 🙂

        • ACN

          I just wasn’t clear on what you meant when you called a continent “too young”.

          • Mike

            Oh that’s just short hand or whatever. I am not a young earth guy ALTHOUGH believe it or not the INVENTOR of the 486 computer chip is! How weird is that! He’s now with AMD.

          • Darren

            Mike said;

            ”Ok fine you have no love BUT will you forward it to your liberal friends? Please do it for me if for nothing more than an interesting experiment in bias detection, I am serious, do it and report back. Please? I am serious, see what they say.”

            I don’t really have such friends anymore, but I will show it to my 13 y/o daughter, if you like, who sometimes thinks she might like to be a Buddhist.

            That is a pretty cool video, though; I now have an even lower opinion of the Llama than I did before, though I suspect on the pain, suffering, and death caused by a given religious leaders teachings scale, the Llama is probably pretty low on the pole.

            Not the same guy, but sounds a great deal like him, is this series, Three Minute Philosophy.

        • Darren

          Fair enough about Asia, if the RCC wanted to go “ethnic” (non-Italian), I am sure a proper Spaniard from South America without the taint of too much Populism could be found…

          For my $0.02, in light of the recent resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, I expect topic #1 in the conclave will be a candidate’s exposure to child rape (deciding _not_ to use a euphemism here, let’s call spades spades). No telling from the outside what a particular Cardinal’s exposure might be (how many saw O’Brien coming?), and certainly _no_sane_ organization would admit to taking a show of hands first thing Monday morning as to which Cardinals were actually closeted homosexuals and/or rapists, and for those Cardinals to kindly please recuse themselves from consideration…

          (Not saying that any _more_ of the Cardinals are; perhaps O’Brien was the last… then again, what are the odds on that… anyone care to do the statistics considering one offender, the likelihood of a second in the ~170 other members)

          • Mike

            Ouch, you are in a mood!

          • deiseach

            Regarding Cardinal O’Brien, he resigned over allegations of “inappropriate behaviour”. Four men (three who are currently priests and one who was a priest but left and is now married) said he behaved inappropriately or made advances or what could be construed as such to them thirty years ago. The youngest of the four was twenty at the time the alleged incident took place.

            So we are not talking about “child rape” or indeed any sex actually taking place (either heterosexual or homosexual), even if the allegations are true. Things are certainly bad enough without making them worse. At least accuse the guy of the right crime – rape of anyone is nothing to joke about, and the horrible abuse of children which members of my church have engaged in is hideous enough without adding in occasions when it did not take place.

          • Darren

            Must I quote myself?

            No different than vetting for a U.S. Supreme court justice, searching out skeletons in the closet.

            ”For my $0.02, in light of the recent resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, I expect topic #1 in the conclave will be a candidate’s exposure to child rape…”

            “Exposure”, not “how many are rapists”, but exposure to the ‘sex abuse scandal’. Cardinal Ratzinger, though never having done anything himself, had significant exposure due to the documented coverup, at his command, of child rape by priests. Whatever his merits as a pope, this was a constant feature of his papacy.

            And _I_ said “…resignation of Cardinal O’Brien…”, not “O’Brien is a rapist”.

            And as far as relevance? A major, conservative, Cardinal being accused of multiple instances of coercive homosexual “activities”, significant enough that he could not manage a quite fading away but a very public being shown the door one week before the biggest event on the Catholic decade?

            You didn’t buy that “inappropriate contact” BS when it came from Bill Clinton… what makes it kosher now?

          • Darren

            ”Ouch, you are in a mood!”

            Hey, you don’t like being reminded that you belong to a religion that enabled child rape and had official policies mandating _illegal_ obstruction of civil authority investigation into those rapes? Maybe you should talk to your leadership…

            Just saying…

          • Mike

            Darren, Atheist; spends most of his time talking about religion LOL! 🙂

            Me thinks thouest protesteth too much.

          • Mike

            ACN, Darren, check this out! It will blow your mind. 🙂


            PS Don’t forget to forward to all your Budhhism loving yuppie friends.

          • Child rape?

            I thought O’Brien was accused of sexual harrassment of adult seminarians. Could you give me a link to the child rape allegations?

          • Darren

            Four comments up, Adam G., read before posting next time…

          • Darren

            Mike said;

            ”Darren, Atheist; spends most of his time talking about religion LOL!”

            Fair enough.

            Perhaps it is due to my sincere belief that Catholic believers, and the world itself, are ill served by the autocratic structure of the Roman Catholic Church which, _IMO_, enables corruption and abuse.

            The story of Christ is a powerful one which resonates with a great many. For all that I believe it false, I would not take that comfort away from those who _freely_ choose it.

            However, I believe that Catholics would be better off, and the world a measurably better place, if the Roman Catholic Church was more like the Episcopal Church.

            To that purpose, you will note that not a single argument that I have made on this thread would have caused an Episcopalian a moments discomfort…

          • Darren

            Mike said;

            ”PS Don’t forget to forward to all your Budhhism loving yuppie friends.”

            No argument there; Buddhists can be just as bloodthirsty as Christians, Muslims, and Atheists. I have no love for the Llama…

          • Mike

            Ok fine you have no love BUT will you forward it to your liberal friends? Please do it for me if for nothing more than an interesting experiment in bias detection, I am serious, do it and report back. Please? I am serious, see what they say.

          • Darren

            Adam G. said;

            ” I thought O’Brien was accused of sexual harrassment of adult seminarians. Could you give me a link to the child rape allegations?”

            Yep, _only_ homosexual improprieties with adults. At least he wasn’t trying to marry them…

            But, powerful, conservative Cardinal, breaking story one week before the biggest event of the Catholic decade? And the Church’s investigative arm did not find this out and quietly move him into retirement, say for “health reasons”, years ago? That should make any Catholic nervous as to what other skeletons might be lurking. I would not want to go into a Supreme Court confirmation hearing with that level of uncertainty, if it were me.

            If I had a sample size of, say 170, and my very first test turned up positive?

          • Mike

            Yeah you’re right Darren, the RCC should discriminate against gays; the way they’ve accepted them inspite of their inclinations and appointed them to high office is so wrong, afterall Darren, you are right, gays are intolerable and should be excluded. You’re a very insightful critic. Darrent the tolerant for kicking gays out of high office, YES! Now that’s what I call left-wing diversity! Booyah!

          • Mike

            PSS Darren, what’s an Episcopalian? Is that a Star Trek reference or D&G? LOL. Oh, sorry, yes, they still exist, somewhere, don’t they? But they’re I think like 100% white anglo-saxon rich people. Hmmm…I wonder, are they closet racists? Hmmm…all white, all rich, are they the 1% O’s been harping about? Oh but they support gay sex, and on-demand abortion, oh well why didn’t you say so, yes of course, no they’re not racists they’re tolerant, compassionate, liberal, cosmopolitan, yes, I am sorry Darrent, you almost lost me there.

            You see what you’ve done to me, I was being so gracious to you.

          • deiseach

            Darren, actually yes, you must quote yourself. When you phrase a sentence “In the light of Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation, the topic will be a candidate’s exposure to child rape”, then you are making the connection “O’Brien + child rape”.

            If that is not what you intended to do, then you should either have (a) phrased it differently – say, “a candidate’s involvement in scandal” or “criminal accusations” or the like 0r (b) not mentioned O’Brien 0r (c) not mentioned sexual abuse.

            If I may repeat myself, Cardinal O’Brien stepped down over allegations of making passes at young men who were priests under his authority as bishop. I have no idea if these are true or not; even if they are, the accusations are not that he had sex with them, but that he attempted to initiate sexual contact.

            (a) if you wish to make the point that someone should not violate or attempt to violate his vow of celibacy or be sexually active outside of marriage, I agree with you.
            (b) if you wish to make the point that a person in a position of authority should not abuse his position to extort either by threats or inducements favours from those under his supervision or control, I agree with you.
            (c) If you wish to make the point that unchastity is sinful, I also agree with you.
            (d) If you are trying to make the correlation between persons over the age of consent having same-sex intercourse and paedophilia or rape of children, I believe there are many people who are quite willing to make the sharp distinction between being a homosexual and being sexually attracted to minors. I suggest you be careful where you make that link, however, as many parts of the Internet are quite wild.

            I fear, though, that you are trying to say – and why not come out and say it forthrightly? – that all the cardinals are involved in, or aware of, or agreeing to, cover-ups of widespread instances of sexual abuse of minors (not sex between people of the same gender and over the age of consent, and not even sex with a person legally a minor but an adolescent, but sex with children aged thirteen or younger). I disagree with that. I also imagine – though correct me if I am wrong – that you disagree with the rules of morality regarding the ends and purposes of sex as held and taught by the Catholic Church, and that any stick will do to beat the dog if it serves your end.

            Which leads me to conclude (e) you wish to accuse the cardinal-electors and indeed the wider clergy of being hypocrites; they preach chastity to the rest of us and engage in sexual sin themselves. Doubtless some may do so; I have no access to their confessions or innermost thoughts. And yes, that is hypocrisy: falsely teaching that X is wrong when you are doing X yourself.

            So the solution is – well, if I take your point correctly, the solution is “to keep the government out of our bedrooms”, or in other words, stop saying that such-and-such is a sin. May I ask if it is still all right to preach that adultery is a sin? or should the next pope re-write the Ten Commandments to drop the ones about “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife”? After all, if we are to accept that divorce is just another facet of modern life, and that people engage in sex before and outside of marriage, some people do have affairs with neighbours, divorce their spouses and marry their lovers. It would be wrong of us to make them feel bad about this, since so many priests are having sex themselves!

            Just like it would be wrong of us to make thieves feel bad, when so many accountants/solicitors/judges are swindlers and defraud their clients of the funds entrusted to them!

            Or you know – we could all keep the vows we make. Would that not be better?

          • Darren


            Well, poop. Given that I have yet to see you cry wolf, I take the criticism quite seriously. Also, little to none of what came across to you was what I intended. Rereading my post, and follow ups, I have to ascribe this to, well, gross sloppiness on my part.

            My desire was not to beat the Church with the sex abuse stick, I had quite another point to make; a point which I failed in conveying. I also managed to prod a nerve, and cause distress where that was not my purpose – for that I apologize.

            The point(s) I was ¬_trying_ to make:

            When considering a candidate for the next pope, each Cardinal will have varying exposures to a variety of potentially embarrassing issues. By embarrassing, I mean politically, not necessarily legally or morally. For example, if one were to put up Darren as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice candidate, one very significant disadvantage, other than my complete lack of judicial experience, is my publicly acknowledged Atheism. I would face a steep challenge, thought certainly my atheism is not “bad”, except politically.

            So, any potential pope will have varying levels of exposure to potentially embarrassing issues: AIDS, Secular Politics, Nation of Origin, gay marriage stance, and association with the priest sex abuse scandal (there, see, playing nice and using the approved US media euphemism).

            I had _assumed_ that no Cardinals would actually have sex abuse of their own to answer for; these are men who have been vetted for many years, and presumably their closets would have been thoroughly plumbed. I had assumed, if exposure was found, that it would be more on the administrative level, as in Cardinal Ratzinger’s role in squelching investigations, transferring offenders, etc. Again, these are men who have had decades of administrative duties, some of those duties will have exposed them to knowing, or potentially knowing, or being directly involved, others would not.

            Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation was a shock to me. Here was a man with a closet apparently unplumbed, who had relatively minor (by my standard) sex issues, but by the Church’s own standards a rather big deal. Had not the Catholic Church been scrupulously investigating, digging, searching for the smallest skeletons and quietly moving those Cardinals out of the way for the past several years? Apparently not!

            Thus, my assessment that:
            1. Given the grief that Cardinal Ratzinger’s administrative exposure was a constant thorn in his side and the side of the Church; and
            2. Given the O’Brien ‘bombshell’, that the first order of business will be a furious scouring of the candidate cardinals backgrounds for _any_ shred of sexual impropriety.

            Well, this was what I was _attempting_ to convey.

            So far as the rest of your post, though I respect your opinions and the time you have spent writing them, few apply to me. I could care less about hypocrisy. I could care less how many priests are having how much sex and with what genders, provided they are of age and uncoerced.

            Nor do I begrudge you the right to believe what you will, nor the further right to advocate for that belief in the public square, nor the right to put your ideas up to dispute with the ideas of others (i.e. calling “X” a sin).

            I am a very realpolitik person, and as much as I may personally dislike dishonesty and hypocrisy, I am sufficiently versed in the evolutionary history of the human mind that lies and hypocrisy neither surprise nor offend me.

            Anyways, I regret failing to make my point originally. I further regret upsetting you, and others of like mind, for no good reason.

          • Darren

            Mike said;

            ”Yeah you’re right Darren, the RCC should discriminate against gays; the way they’ve accepted them inspite of their inclinations and appointed them to high office is so wrong…”

            OK, this is not the RCC being inclusive and promoting gay members to high office, here. This is a (IMO) closeted homosexual who has done his best (I assume) to keep it under wraps, and apparently has done a good enough job to keep it hidden until a week before the conclave.

            Again, and no surprise, I could care less that Cardinal O’Brien hankers for a bit of man lovin’. I could get huffy and rail at his hypocrisy, but I actually feel pity for him. Poor guy, had things been a little different, perhaps if he had been brought up in the Episcopal church (or, being the UK, Anglican), then maybe he could have lived his life, ministered to his flock, and been in a happy relationship with some other man-love-hankerin gent, probably in a nice little house in a fashionable neighborhood. Instead, he has lived his whole life ashamed of himself, and now he is the object of scandal and shame.

            Yeah, I feel more pity than anything else.

    • deiseach

      Re: #2, there probably is a lot of pressure, even if it’s not overt. But like all sports – if you fail the test, you can’t play, and if you can’t play, you’re replaced, and if you lose your place, you may not get it back again.

      And if your college scholarship or chance of getting onto the first team or chance of a transfer to a big-name club depends on you playing week after week and showing your wares, then losing a place is a big deal for young men who may feel, or be made to feel, that “You got a knock on the head, you weren’t knocked out, it happens all the time, it’s no big deal” and that this makes them a failure or marks them out as the most dreaded of all terms in sports – “injury-prone”. Which means coaches/managers write you off as more trouble than you’re worth, and that’s your career over.

      • Mike

        It’s a fine line. But hey if you grew up poor would you pass up a $1,000,000 contract? I wouldn’t and I didn’t even grow up poor. Money is oh so tempting, especially when you get a small morsel of it. It makes you more frugal, economical and yeah also greedier.

        I wonder if there as many concussions in rugby where they don’t wear helmets. This principle applies also to contraception. Darren, ACN, leave me alone :). But apparently 10 years of the most well funded tolerant publicly supported effort to decrease the rate of HIV infection in England has resulted in the highest rate of infection ever, so just goes to show what condoms without behaviour modification amounts to.

        • Darren

          Actually, I think you are absolutely correct (on the helmet part).

          I suspect if they took off their _faceguards_, there would be a lot fewer concussions. Put them in open faced hockey helmets and see the game change.

          There are documented studies (short on time to look them up this morning) showing that seatbelts and airbags result in riskier driving, so the comparison does hold.

          • MountainTiger

            I’m extremely skeptical of changes in safety equipment producing major changes in how football players play. The root of the head injury problem is that offenses have 4 chances to gain 10 yards before the defense gets the ball back. This is where big hits come from, as tacklers and ballcarriers both have an incentive to fight for small gains. The inside runs that involve 300+ lb men throwing themselves into dozens of collisions per game are also encouraged by this structure. Modern safety equipment developed because fractured skulls, broken noses, and other immediately traumatic head injuries were common results from these conditions without helmets and facemasks. If not having a helmet didn’t protect players then, when most were smaller and slower, I doubt that it would protect them now.

          • Darren

            Ouch! Thanks for deflating my baseless assumptions. 😉

          • MountainTiger

            I don’t think it was entirely baseless; after all, other sports with a lot of contact get by with much less protective gear. Unfortunately, football adopted that gear for a reason.

          • Darren

            Mountain Tiger said;

            ”I don’t think it was entirely baseless; after all, other sports with a lot of contact get by with much less protective gear. Unfortunately, football adopted that gear for a reason.”

            Well, based upon my distant recollections of being a (not particularly good) high school footballer and my own tendency to view my helmeted head as a nigh-invulnerable battering ram.

    • Theodore Seeber

      My favorite is an African, Peter Turkson. Which is why he will not be Pope.

  • Erin

    Re:#4 – I read an article a few months back (can’t remember where, of course), in which subjects were tested on cheating – groups were incentivized and disincentivized in various ways, having plants in the room model easy cheating methods, cash rewards for higher scores, etc – and the dominant deterrents were explicit instructions toward and expectations of honesty, delivered by the organizers, as well as spoken/written oaths to be truthful and honest pledged by the participants.

    • Mike

      The spoiled brats didn’t need the money obviously! Just kidding.

    • Mike

      We are pre-disposed by the law written on the heart to think more about the morality of a thing than its physical short term benefits.

      • That’s a big claim, and seems to be demonstrably untrue- students still cheat, accountants still commit fraud, bankers still shaft their customers, and people are still much more rude when hiding behind anonymity (be it the internet or the windshield of a car) than they ever would be in person. I think a more accurate view of reality would be that people are generally rationally self-interested, but are also conditioned by society and evolutionary biology toward positive group behavior.

        Invoking goodwill as a reason not to cheat- having students sign oaths, asking them nicely not too, etc.- plays on our psychological predispositions as social animals. Your theory as you’ve stated it here- “We are pre-disposed by the law written on the heart to think more about the morality of a thing than its physical short term benefits” – would seem to predict that our behavior is independent of admonitions by authority figures.

        • grok87

          @ Jake & Mike
          I’m not sure that Jake (atheist) and Mike (Catholic) are saying such radically different things here. Mike is calling it the “law of God, written on our hearts” and Jake “conditioning by evolutionary biology toward positive group behavior.”- if you are are a Christian who believes in evolution then i think you say, “yes” to both statements…

          Back to Erin’s original article citation, I also read a study- I think it was on like 5 year olds left in alone in a room with cookies and they had to promise not to eat the cookies. They were left alone for like 10 minutes or something like that. The research found that the ones that resisted temptation the best were the ones who were able to distract themselves away from the cookies, drawing, singing, running around the room, etc.

          I’m probably going to draw more out of this study on 5 year olds than is justified, but to me I think the point is, conversion and following Christ is a life-long process that needs constant prayer, reading and worship. We need to fill up our thoughts and hearts with these things. Otherwise we revert to our fallen state of selfishness and badness. To use a scientific analogy, if our bodies did not constantly keep up a certain “internal pressure”- i.e. if we had a vacuum inside us, then we would be crushed by the air pressure all around us..

          As St. Ambrose puts it in today’s office of readings:
          “Let us take refuge from this world. You can do this in spirit, even if you are kept here in the body. You can at the same time be here and present to the Lord. Your soul must hold fast to him, you must follow after him in your thoughts, you must tread his ways by faith, not in outward show. You must take refuge in him. He is your refuge and your strength. David addresses him in these words: I fled to you for refuge, and I was not disappointed.”

  • grok87

    Thanks for #4 very interesting. I liked these parts:
    “Second, small and simple elections are easier to secure. This kind of process works to elect a pope or a club president, but quickly becomes unwieldy for a large-scale election. The only way manual systems could work for a larger group would be through a pyramid-like mechanism, with small groups reporting their manually obtained results up the chain to more central tabulating authorities.

    And third: When an election process is left to develop over the course of a couple of thousand years, you end up with something surprisingly good.”

    • Skittle

      “The only way manual systems could work for a larger group would be through a pyramid-like mechanism, with small groups reporting their manually obtained results up the chain to more central tabulating authorities.”

      Come to the UK: this is how we do all our elections.

      • grok87

        sounds like you could teach us a thing or two…

  • Re #1

    Very amusing, but I have a lot of quibbles. The biggest is the treatment of money:
    “Value on Sophia is generally exchanged in the form of benthamite coins; each contains about
    a gram of benthamite, a mysterious substance made of pure utility.”

    Money is not based on use value; it is entirely exchange value! Argg!

  • Totally different tangent: Loved the i09 piece! I didn’t realize the writers were taking accuracy that far, but it’s really neat considering how much fantasy there is in movies and novels. Not fantasy as in a category of fiction, but fantasy as in weapons functioning in totally impossible ways and being wielded in ways that would get you killed in the real world! I wonder if they’ll start staging battles between full-sized armies so they can get that right…. 😉

  • Cam

    “This costs the target -3 virtue”

    Well I guess dungeons and dragons is set in a medievel, primitive world, isn’t it.

  • Dan

    Being a D&D 3.5E fanboy, I love the Dungeons and Discourse idea. Would it be possible to see an implemented “Hesychasm” … and perhaps “John Duns Scotus’ Univocal Synergy” or “Aristotle’s Formal Rebuke” (or maybe those aren’t humorous enough).

    • Dan

      Another quick question, would it be possible to multiclass as an apologist/metaphysician?

  • Darren

    File under Neat (and non-contentious):

    I love glimpses behind the scene. Here is a short article about the tailors who make the official ‘Pope garb’.

    Tailors to the Pope

    I especially enjoyed the discussion of their having to provide multiple copies, in different sizes, as there is no knowing the size of the future pope prior to the Conclave.

  • Darren

    Awfully quite…

    How about a _friendly_, “Who do you like for Pope?”

    I’m rather fond of Cardinal Sean O’Malley:

    1. A Boston Irish Catholic named O’Malley? Who doesn’t love that (not me);

    2. If Ratzinger was the grumpy grandpa, O’Malley is the grandpa that lets you steal a sip of his Jameson’s and soda while you are watching the game after Thanksgiving dinner;

    3. Capuchin brown robes – and with the beard? If only he could train birds to perch on his shoulder I might even convert.

    OK, those are the fluffy things that Darren finds endearing, for some substance

    1. He has good Latin American and developing nation ‘cred’;

    2. Has taken a very hard line on the sex abuse mess – that would send a nice message;

    3. Pro-life, but on other issues he appears to have a pretty realistic view of how to actually make the Catholic Church _more_ relevant in the surrounding culture (IMO – re. his attending the funeral of Ted Kennedy).

    I only hope he keeps the robes and the name, Pope O’Malley the First sounds pretty good…

  • Here’s a link to help feed one of your hobby horses. Sorry to leave it here, but I don’t have anywhere else to send it: http://www.medpagetoday.com/Neurology/HeadTrauma/37724

  • grok

    Since Darren is complaining that it is too quiet…
    And while we are selfishly waiting for Leah to stop living her life and post…
    Today’s OT reading is speaking to me:
    Reading 1 Hos 14:2-10 T
    Thus says the LORD:
    Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt.
    Take with you words, and return to the LORD; Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity,
    and receive what is good, that we may render as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.
    Assyria will not save us, nor shall we have horses to mount;
    for in you the orphan finds compassion.”

    So my 2 year old Macbook Pro Hard Drive crashed last night (without provocation.) And like an idiot I had last backed it up about 22 months ago! D’oh! Requesting prayers for God to guide the hands of the Genius Bar technicians at the Apple Store!

    Still, it is not the end of the world. It is good to be reminded to let things go. To not make a god out of the works of our hands…

    • ACN

      I hope that if you’ve got data at risk of being lost, that it’s recovered without too much trouble.

      But PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let this be the impetus to put into place a coherent back-up plan. I’ve seen too many people lose data and it just sucks so much :(. Especially when the data is irreplaceable memories like photos or videos of children or dead family members. I’d highly recommend a service like CrashPlan to supplement scheduled/regular use of Apple’s Time Machine.

      • Grok87

        Thanks ACN,
        I will definitely check Crashplan out.

        • grok87

          All is well. The apple guys transferred everything to a new hard disk. I have backed it up now.
          thank you Lord for answered prayers!

  • Montague

    But wait! If it’s inverse communion, then your opponent’s body will retain a human ACCIDENT while becoming in ESSENCE or nature Bread and Wine. Or am I being overly literal about the game 😛

    • Skittle

      No no no, it’s inverse Communion, so it takes on the accidents of bread and wine while still remaining, in substance, human. In a real and mystical way, the person remains, but they now appear to be bread and wine to all the senses.

  • Bill S

    “Reading 1 Hos 14:2-10 T
    Thus says the LORD:
    Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt.
    Take with you words, and return to the LORD; Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity,
    and receive what is good, that we may render as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.
    Assyria will not save us, nor shall we have horses to mount;”

    You do know that this was all written to get the people of that time to rally under one nation with one god and that it has very little application in the modern world. Don’t you?

    • grok87

      @Bill S,
      Sounds like you know something about the history of that time. I think that’s great. You’re inspiring me to read up on it.
      I guess when reading the Bible that is always the question- how much of it is a specific message relevant only for the people of that time? And how much of it is the timeless voice of the Holy Spirit calling us to deeper communion with God?
      As Paul says in Romans (Ch 15)
      “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

  • Bill S

    “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

    Some people interpret this statement as indicating that the Bible is the Word of God. And some even take the Bible literally, although the Church does not. I think that we can always draw inspiration from stories. But we shouldn’t read things into the Bible that are not there.

  • grok87

    Habemus Papam!
    Cardinal Bergoglio ‘Pope Francis’ from Argentina

    • jenesaispas

      It’s exciting. 😀

  • Technically, the citation of the Pio-Benedictine canon law is incorrect. The 1983 CIC abrogates the 1917 CIC in its entirety (which is why women don’t have to follow the Pio-Benedictine head-coverings norms). Of course, in the same clause, the 1983 CIC *also* abrogates all forms of canon law prior to the 1917 CIC.

    Would’ve made this comment on his website but he didn’t have comments.

    As a fun aside: the Code of Canon Law is abbreviated CIC for “Codex Iuris Canonici”.