Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chartreuse, and Other Sacramentals...

So, yesterday was the Feast of St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusians. If you're more cinematically inclined than me, you'll probably know them best from that movie Into Great Silence. However, more importantly, they're known for making the liqueur Chartreuse. Despite 2 attempts to evict them from their motherhouse by ever-tolerant secular governmnets, and countless attempts to copy their secret recipe of 7 herbs and spices...I mean, 130 herbs, the Monks (and their product) remain a potent force in the Church. Please read more about it here...

Additionally, today is the Commemoration of the Victory at Lepanto, one of the largest naval battles in European (or world) history. Pitting the Holy League (not a Bowling club - that's the Holy Roman Empire, Venice, Genoa, and the Papacy...with some extras) against the Ottoman Turks, the battle was one that checked the progress of the Ottomans through Europe for decades. It was certainly a decisive moment in Church history, especially since the Pope (who, being a Saint, ought to know) credited the victory to Mary's intercession through the Holy Rosary. Now, prayer is mostly important not because it gets God to change His mind and get us what we want, but because it helps us to change our minds to conform to what He wants (through His grace). And yet, there have been times when God has chosen to vindicate the power of prayer through external signs, much like this one. God is capable of working signs and wonders, but (thankfully) He is not content at that. He will not rest until we rest in Him (Possibly over a bottle of Chartreuse, but no promises--I haven't seen any Cocktail menu from the Pearly Gates).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breaking Update!

The Worldwide Cataclysm commonly referred to as "The Great War"...

is officially over. We really showed Kaiser Bill the what-for!

Brought to you by Uneeda Biscuit.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What Planet Did this Come From?

I offer a triple to one of my favorite blogs, Awful Library books, for this[liturgical] find.

I'm not trying to wig this response, but I don't look clown-I mean down-on this book. Trying to making Christianity more palatable by referencing pop culture is a standard practice. Christmas? Happy Saturnarius! Easter? Spring Festival. All Souls Day? Creepy Celtic Stuff.

So, before my attempts at sarcasm devolve into a circus, let's remind ourselves of the person whose victims really need "clownseling":

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Here's some baaaaaaad news!

Apparently a good number of Insurance firms will discontinue offering child only insurance because Obamacare mandates they take on children with pre-existing conditions.

I sympathize with families in those straits, but it's the equivalent of selling a full warranty on a confirmed the same price as those responsible enough to have procure the coverage when they bought the vehicle. How many greedy tycoons are lining up to tap this expansive market?

I'm not here to chide families facing these difficult questions, but since when has having the Federal Government tell other people to do the impossible been a "Comprehensive Solution?"

When most people review this part of Obamacare, you'll probably hear little more than "geeee, isn't it great that they're finally getting health insurance?"

Baaaa...ut just because there's a buyer doesn't mean there's a seller. If these companies abandon the market, what have you accomplished? Beyond an equitable and universal absence of child coverage for both the well and the sick, that is.

And by the way, dictating the clearly impossible isn't generosity. Nor does it count as imagination (except in a B-Grade Sci-Fi Dystopia). It's either delusion at its best, or well crafted cynicism at its worst.

At least they might have helped a few people, isn't that worth it? You know, you might be right. Baaaut:

Most poor children with preexisting conditions already qualify for insurance through programs such as Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. And those who are not poor will be able to apply to new high-risk pools established by the law.

So, there's already a basic solution? What did we spend 18 months crafting...oh. Right.

But what do I know, I'm just a plebeian. I didn't organize communities or go to law school. So I'll go write back to grazing and paying my taxes, like a good citizen.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Fraptuous Day!

Today marks the beginning of the 10 Day Feast of San Gennaro! Southern Italians, rejoice (we'll let the rest of yous guys show up to).

One of the main reasons why I love Manhattan is (as I've said in a previous post) the street fairs. Mike Bloomberg (and many of my friends) criticize these events as redundant-after all, it's the same basic 20 stalls. However, Chesterton has a great response to this criticism in his book Orthodoxy:

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

So I try to rejoice in the monotony of the NY street fair (especially as a source of Italian Sausages and the Deep Fried Oreos). But there are other benefits:

1) It's a break in your typical lazy saturday.
2) It's a chance to remember that your Neighborhood is a community. Watching people share the streets as they amble up 4th Avenue is a fresh reminder that your day to day experience is not that of any other New Yorker, or even of the city itself.
3) Deep Fried Oreos (they deserve a second mention)!

Now, if a typical New York City street fair is like a rowboat, San Gennaro is certainly a behemoth, a dreadnought, or maybe (perhaps) an Aircraft Carrier. It's the mother of all street fairs.

For what might be on the menu, check this out.

For a totally irrelevent article on a boy scout who tried to build a nuclear reactor in his backyard, here's this this item.

Buona festa!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Welcome Back!

I'm sorry I went AWOL this summer. Based on the suggestion of a wonderful friend of mine, I have decided to start this up again. Here's hoping it will come under better auspices...

This being the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, it is essential to note that for any sane person to believe that there's more than what meets the eye. Sticking to what the public saw, the story ended at Three O'clock on Good Friday. However, as Hamlet put it:

There are more things in heaven and hell, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophies...

And yet in this decadent age, we are often encouraged to think we're actually fully aware and in total control of anything we happen to dream. Knowledge is power, right?

Well, there are two books that seek to shake us from this false sense of comfort: Nature, and Scripture.

Scripture presents us the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not the god of philosophers (to steal Pascal's memorable line). God is, as the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, "a consuming fire!" Modern day Hebrews (who know what they're talking about) agree. Rabbi Abraham Heschel reminds anyone who will heed him:

A pious man is usually pictured as a sort of bookworm, a person who thrives among the pages of ancient tomes, and to whom life with its longing, sadness, and tensions, is but a footnot in a scholarly commentary on the Bible. The truth is that a religious man is like a salamander, that legendary animal that originates from a fire of myrtlewood kept burning for seven years. Religion is born of fire, of a flame, in which the dross of the mind and soul is melted away. Religion can only thrive on fire.

Nature does the very same thing, if we have eyes to see it. What kind of Botanist would have foreseen this? And which of them can marvel at it? (I think most, to keep your sanity in Botany...)

It is this sense of wonder that is essential to refute the dogmatic rationalist as well as the post modern skeptic. It is not a question of truth (though Truth can shake us out of this state of indolence and acedia) but of attitude. The spiritual anorexia of the skeptic and the gruel of the rationalist are only shown for what they truly are after a hearty feast of wonder.

This might sound unfair, as it asks the skeptic and rationalist to venture off their "turf" in order to sample something they've never seen before. But this is a false choice, as we've all been (and generally still are) children. We've all marveled at something, or (one hopes) many things.

This journey doesn't start with plunging into the calls for doing a bit of backtracking and leg work. It is progressive, and regressive, that we can really explore, with gratitude, all that has been provided for us-from the smallest iota to the highest heavens. From the briefest pause to the presage of Eternity. Per Omnia Saecula Saeculorum.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Any Condiment Company Worth its Salt...

would not consider this foolish venture. Don't think it'll get Mike Bloomberg off your back, because (being a control freak myself) it won't work.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Hey, rather than attempt to reflect, I will direct your attention to three items of considerable interest [to me]:

Can a tiger change its stripes? No, but Jupiter can...

Where do NRA lifers like to go for coffee? Starbucks!

How out of your way did you go last time you were lost? This guy can top it! So long, and thanks for all the krill...

Bon Appetit (sorry I had to order out though, for these tidbits)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Remembering the Alamo...

So, during a bit of down time this afternoon I had a chance to visit the Alamo (which incidentally means "Cottonwood" in Spanish. Being fluent, it was nothing I hadn't known already)

While I was there, I was struck by a plaque engraved with the final letter of the commanding officer, Col. Travis [emphasis added]:

To The People of Texas and
All Americans In The World --
February 24, 1836

Fellow citizens & compatriots --
I am beseiged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna -- I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man -- The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken -- I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls -- I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, & every thing dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch -- The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country --


William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. Comdt.

The visit to the Alamo was certainly an inspiring one, because it reminded me of the length the people of Texas went to preserve the liberties that only God could grant them (and no one could take away). Hundreds walled themselves within the old mission, knowing that their certain deaths (barring divine, or foreign, intervention) were necessary to spur other Texans into action. Interestingly, joining the Texans were Americans from the North, South, and West, along with Europeans from Wales, Britain, Ireland, and even Denmark (not to mention native Tejanos)!

Now, the more historically educated out there could point out the complications in the overall relationship between Texas and the rest of Mexico, especially the colonists' refusal to obey Mexican antislavery laws. However, I am reminded of Solzhenitsyn's famous remark:

"If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

As great and important as the fight for political liberty is, it pales in comparison to the freedom we can gain from virtue, which, like political rights and liberties, is rendered plausible only in light of the Uncreated Light. All the more reason to remember the Alamo, for they with all their failings they were not gods (or demigods) but, in the tender compassion of our God, they may yet be Saints (with their many sins washed away).

Interestingly, most of them were Catholic (being required to convert in order to move to Texas). The remains of Davy Crocket and Jim Bowie (pronounced Booey) are located in the back of the San Fernando Cathedral, which I saw with delight.

I think I'll leave you with the noble words of Davy Crockett:

You can all go to hell…I’m going to Texas.

Friday, April 30, 2010

NewSpeak isn't Found Solely on Airstrip One...

but is also setting up a booth at the Shanghai World Expo. Now, as an engineer, I'll be the first to admit that this looks awesome. However, when it comes to the rationale behind it:

The baby’s “mother” is Spanish film director, Isabel Coixet, who picked this theme both because of the passion China and Spain share for children, and as a way of showing that our actions have consequences on our children.[Italics added]

What kind of passion do China and Spain share regarding children? Let's look at the numbers, courtesy of the CIA World Factbook:

Population growth rate: 0.072% (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 193

Birth rate (per 1,000 population): 9.72 (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 198

Population growth rate: 0.655% (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 148

Birth rate (per 1,000 population): 14 (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 151

They certainly do have much in common, thanks especially to recent developments in Spain.

I am not trying to directly compare mandatory sterilizations and abortions with the "pro-choice" position. However, the bottom line is they spring from the same ethos, one that regards humans not as a gift but as an economic burden. Declining birthrates seem to challenge rather than confirm prosperity, however. So, in that light, Spain and China have all too much in common, particularly when it comes to dismissing opposition with Orwellian Double Speak.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Potent Quotables

Came across this article from the Guardian. If you know me well you'll know that the probability of quoting someone else's line approaches one as time approaches infinity. Here's my favorite snippet:

Me and my friends could have entire dialogues consisting of nothing but apposite quotes. And the thing is, it will still make sense as a proper conversation. These aren't just random lines blurted into the ether between us; the best one is identified and selected, completely fit for purpose, in a millisecond, by some super-computer of the mind.

Indeed, sometimes you don't even need a quote but just the suggestion of one. The other day I was chatting to someone on the phone and threw in a line which sounded like something from Predator, but wasn't – I had got the line wrong. But he was so in tune with the "language" of action movies that he replied back with a Predator quote; he still got the reference and replied to it.

And I find it interesting that quoting isn't recognised as being a large part of the modern demotic. I once got a reply from a literary agent, who'd read a novel I had written, in which she said the dialogue wasn't believable because the (Irish) characters at times spoke like they were in an American movie.

But that was the whole point. The dialogue was real, because that's how those people would speak: in between their formal and informal language, their local slang and Irish idioms, their Hiberno-English and Queen's English, would be a flood of quotes from (mainly) US movies and TV shows.

Has anyone out there seen any serious work dedicated to this? I can't say I have, and yet it seems to be the mainstay of many. Nor is it a modern phenomenon; today's paeans to popculture remind me, quite often, of the devotionals penned by the saints. Not in terms of quality, of course, but because both go to great lengths to reference authorities (be they spiritual or temporal).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gotta have my pops...

I don't mean to duck out on actually writing anything, but I think this is an interesting article from the man who (aptly) describes himself as "the world's smartest human being."

Though, I think I will add something that may whet your appetite. You may remember my post detailing the worst movie of all time, and I just felt the need to share that I will be attending Friday's installment of Tommy Wiseau's "Love is Blind" Tour. In case you don't feel like reading my previous post, Tommy is the genius behind this truly irreplaceable work.

Photos to follow.

EDIT: Error in embedding the link. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Canada on track to be the first country...

to implement the prime directive.

A double swing to my sister (or, as they say in my native spanish, "mi hermana") for digging this up.

Could you imagine? I guess after fighting the Gorn, Kirk should be able to handle some hand shaking and ribbon cutting...

What's next, getting Chekhov inaugurated as Putin's new

James Doohan endorsing a Whole Foods line of frozen haggis dinners, for the industrious scotsman and his hardworking housewife?

George Takei endorsing a high definition television?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Clogged in the Pipeline...a tribute to Deep Fried Oreos!

Sorry to keep you waiting with bated breath, but I was in Boston last week, away from access to any of the amenities of the 21st century.

Seriously, the walk from my hotel to the nearest drug store was 15 minutes!

But, Boston was a beautiful town...from what little of it I was able to see. Turns out they have this place called McDonald's that sells a Krustyburger with Cheese, but they don't call it a Krustyburger with Cheese. Instead, they call it a "Quarter Pounder with Cheese." (!)

But I digress. After scarfing down far too many deep fried oreos on Saturday, I have resolved to provide you with a sweeping survey of this confection's venerable history.

It all goes back to the 1990's, when a Brooklynite came up with the idea of deep frying candy bars. This may have been influenced by the Deep Fried Mars bar, which is an ancient Scottish dessert that was introduced circa A.D. 1995. However, some sweetner scholars disagree, and propose a 4 source hypothesis to the problem.

What is known is that deep fried candy bars were sold at state fairs in the Midwest (where else?) starting in the late 90's. Within a year, this grew to include twinkies (as requested by Hostess). The introduction of deep frying frozen oreos has gone unrecorded (I guess those blessed enough to see this weren't wise enough to write it down). However, they have been a staple at New York City Fairs ever since, where I go through them like Bugs Bunny goes through carrots.

If you're in the market for anything deep fried, it is important to watch and verify that it is being prepared correctly. The whole point of deep frying an oreo, twinkie, or Mars bar is to remove the excess moisture. Meanwhile, the sugars will carmelize, and the whole confection should soften, but like any chemical reaction this takes time. If you see a vendor scooping the oreos out within a minute or two, ask him to put them back in. A crunchy deep fried oreo is only an overpriced ordinary oreo offering an outer envelope of oil. When it comes to deep frying a sandwich cookie, buyer beware.

And, this is why a deep fried oreo is amazing-it's soft, but not gooey. It's transformed, but still shares the essential properties of an untouched oreo.

If I were you, I would grab one while I can, because it looks as though street fairs might become a little less frequent in the Big Apple.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Erasing Boredom at Work...

So, after making numerous mystaeks at work today, eye decided to look into the history of Wite-Out. I was immediately disappointed, because it turns out that Wite-Out is a knock off of Liquid Paper. It’s like the Pepsi of publishing [rimshot]!

Liquid Paper was actually invented by Bette Nesmith Graham, who (as it happens) is the mother of one of the Monkees. I don’t remember which one, but does it really matter?

Anyway, it turns out Mrs. Graham was a typist with clumsy fingers. All the other correctives on the market blended with the black ink, so she started developing her own formula in the kitchen. Based on tempera paint, she bottled it in green containers (still the trademark color) and called it Mistake Out (later adapted as a signout by Ryan Seacrest).

Her frequent mistakes not only spurred her to invent the fluid—after being fired for a major clerical error, she was driven to market it for a living. The formula rejected by IBM, she sold it twenty years later to Gillette for millions.

So the next time you’re correcting a typo, or trying to get high in a Staples bathroom (not recommended), just remember you’re not the only one who’s made mistakes.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Vegetarian food...good?

With Lent winding down, I thought it would be interesting to do a post on the history of Falafel.

In case you didn't know, Falafel is mixture of chickpeas and/or fava beans. This mixture is ground up, mixed with spices, lumped into balls, and (as Moe Szyslak would say) "Deep fried to perfection." A relatively light snack, a typical pita sandwich weighs in at about 400 calories. It's also mostly protein and carbs, surprisingly enough.

I used to look down on falafel, but after trying the world famous Mamoun's (original location on MacDougal street) I haven't had enough of it.

Multiple stories circulate about the origins of falafel as a food. Some speculate it was introduced by Coptic Christians during their fast days, which would mean they ate it quite a bit. That's because more than half of the Coptic Calendar is devoted to fast days!

Others argue it originated in India, while still others contend that it was a dish that dates back to the Pharaohs.

Regardless, it's really good and certainly a cheap meal. In case you don't know, a cheap falafel dish ranges from $2.50 to $5, and it just got a bit cheaper. On St. Mark's, a new $2 joint opened up. It's not as good as Mamoun's, but it holds its own. With the right spin, it could be the Middle East's answer to Two Brothers!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In Case You Needed Another Reason to Ignore the Times...

Damian Thompson has provided a link to the one person the Media didn't ask about Fr. Lawrence Murphy (who has gained infamy as of late), and certainly should have.

Cackle...this certainly vindicates my decision to ignore all those subscription ads for the Times...

But, far more importantly, Fr. Thomas Brundage understands the scourge of pedophilia far better than any modern secular humanist could...and not only from first hand encounters with abusers. His Boss (Who also happens to be our Boss) warned us as much. Something about millstones and the sea...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Unsustainable Generosity...

is hardly generosity at all!

One of my fondest memories of working at Scout Camp was "Helicopter Day", which was an annual celebration at the camp. No, the BSA does not own (or rent) a helicopter. Instead, the TMR Scout Reservation would receive a visit from multimillionaire Jack Rudin (disclosure: the man also gave me a scholarship). One hot August day each summer, Jack Rudin would land his helicopter on the sports field, and made quite a show of it. He had all right to do since he subsidized the camps so heavily.

Even more memorable to me, however, were his visits to the trading post. If you were lucky enough to be near the canteen when Jack Rudin showed up, you would be treated to anything (anything!) you wanted. He would buy out the entire inventory!

Now, it certainly was a nice thing to do, but nothing is stopping any of us from doing the same. If you scrimped and saved, you could afford to blow $1,000 on chips and soda for the boys. But therein lies the difference. Jack Rudin probably earned as much interest in the five minutes he spent in the store as he spent, whereas we are not so fortunate.

I am reminded of this given the recent sighting of an animal thought extinct in our country for, say, about 220 years. The recently passed monstrosity might sound like a good idea. Why, it could even be a great idea (in execution). But the bottom line is the plan is unsustainable. There's nothing to pay for it, and we're running out of breathing space. No one who voted for this plan seriously expects the tax hikes and medicare cuts to happen, for if they did they would not have timed them for 2014. Truman famously remarked that "the buck stops here", but our President is under the delusion that he can let the next guy settle it (alas, actually solving problems is not his forté).

It could be said that previous Presidents had the same problem, and I agree. To an extent, there's a time when something can't be resolved, and a change of house (or the balance of power) is needed to get it done. But this is the beginning of year two. November 2012 is a long way off...

But even more arresting is how vehemently the President (and his party) deny any criticism of the bill (now, cough, a law). Unlike Jack Rudin, who accurately sized up risks and rewards for his own profit, President Obama and his party don't have to worry about the money they're spending. In the end, it isn't their checking accounts on the line.

But it would be uncharitable of me to imply that our President doesn't have anything in common with successful businessmen-there was one billionaire who made a splash using other people's money. And he did a great job of it, too...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Can you believe this?

Because I can.

We have seen the future...and it is high-larious.

Who bankrolls these abominations?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Follow the Bouncing Ball...

A history of Karaoke

Since the dawn of man, people have loved to sing. However, up until the industrial revolution most music was folk music. Melodies were simpler, lyrics straightforward, and everyone (or at least most) could join in.

Ironically, the rise of modern music certainly put an damper on impromptu singing. Attempts to imitate modern songs without accompaniment are generally not pleasant to hear. If you disagree, sing any top 40 song (A capella) on your next subway ride at the top of your longs. If you're still alive afterward, I'll still say "Told you so." Modern music, instead of being accessible and repeatable, emphasizes individual style and inflection. This makes imitation more prone to disaster, which (as we all know) is great for true Karaoke.

But, anyway, the first mass medium for singing popular music was actually the singalong. On American TV in the early to mid sixties, there was apparently a show called "Sing along with Mitch." I have no clue who Mitch was (I don't much care) but he must have been a hit to eke it out for five years.

The same mass music media that displaced local folk music was used to create karaoke. The first "Karaoke machine" consisted of a cassette player, along with recordings of an unaccompanied live band. This originated in the Philippines, but really made a splash in Kobe, Japan.

Urban legend has it that the band failed to show up for their engagement at a nondescript sake bar, so the manager asked if anyone there would like to sing. The rest is history- karaoke spread throughout Japan. Interestingly enough, the purported inventor of the first karaoke machine, Daisuke Inoue, never thought to patent the device. A filipino by the name of Roberto del Rosario ended up cashing in. From Japan, karaoke spread throughout the west by the 1990's.

And now, just a few comments concerning "Kah-ray-oh-kay." I would argue that everyone is good at karaoke (provided they know the words) because it's not about style or proficiency, but the confidence that really wins over a crowd.

In the same vein, it's essential for the crowd to be positive and inviting to every person who works up the nerve to step up to the mike. Whether a first timer or a semi professional, it takes guts (and cajones) to sing in public. Any good faith effort deserves at least some applause. That's how you can tell a good crowd from a bad one-if they're only there for themselves, you can tell pretty quickly by their ambivalence to 'strangers.'

I was inspired to write about this becasue I am going karaokeying in a few hours, and look forward to a pleasant evening.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Only in America...

Could we sell our patrimony for a bunch of red stuff. (Gen 25:30)

So, the fortune 500 list came out, and the world's richest man is no longer the guy you curse out every time you see the blue screen of death.

That's right...the richest man in the world is from...Mexico.

That's great, you could say. Maybe the Mexican dream is more like the American dream than I thought. But, even a cursory glance at the article indicates that Mr. Slim is the son of Lebanese immigrants. He started "fundraising" early in life, and worked his way to the top. Wonderful. In fact, Thomas Sowell has written on this sociological phenomenon. Lebanese, Jews, and Armenians tend to be relegate themselves as a merchant class in whatever society accepts them (and their enterprise). This perseverance flowers, through hard work, into wealth. Unfortunately, yet another thing all three groups have in common is occasional persecution and harassment from the local "native" population.

My bone to pick is that while it is well and good for other nations to generate wealth, it should be America's focus to encourage such prosperity. Granted, it needs limits and checks. But ultimately, the payroll from Mr. Slim's many corporations is organizing far many more communities than any Harvard Law Graduates I know. Also, these communities tend to be more sustainable...but I'm not far left. Sustainability isn't my primary concern.

If that wasn't negative enough, here's some great news from up North.

I say, after beating them in the medal count, go for it Canada. If the Great White North can't dominate the winter olympics, at least they can dominate the Economic Freedom Index.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

And now a shameless plug for...

Rogaine replacements.


But seriously, I just wanted to let you all know about a great internet radio station that I've been involved in.

These guys are not afraid to ask the questions, or pull the punches. I've had the honor of joining them on the air, and usually do every week. I expect to be on tomorrow night too.

The format is...well...whatever is in the news (and on their minds). The language is a bit more like Howard Stern than NPR, but (as you can probably tell) I'm not much of an NPR fan anyway.

So, I hope you check it out...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Human Goat Hybrid Found in China?

I just found this story to be interesting.

I'm sure they can find a doctor willing to nip the second one in the bud, gratis. If not, her family should spearhead the effort to be able to flip the bill. (Sorry, I couldn't resist)

I'm just worried it could be another case of this...

After all, China is graduating scientists and engineers at a remarkable rate!

However, some critical analysis is even poking holes in that argument.

What is great is that China and India are on the way up, and millions (like this woman) will be better off as a result. However, there is no need to romanticize or idealize their progress.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Because of the beautiful weather...

I thought it might be a good idea to write about why the sky is blue (reminded by some helpful notes from wikipedia).

As you may be aware, sunlight is composed of the entire band of the spectrum. That includes x-rays, gamma rays, ultra-violet (the cause of tanning and sunburn), visible light, microwaves (mmm....microwave), infrared, and radio waves. The earth's atmosphere and magnetosphere help us avoid deadly x-rays and gamma rays, while the ozone layer helps cut down on the amount of ultraviolet radiation.

Now, the other thing to know about the spectrum is that each component (visible light, ultraviolet, etc.) is differentiated from the others by its wavelength (N.B.: Wavelength is measured in meters; it is more like "height" or "width" than it is an abstract quality). In the visible spectrum, red has the longest wavelength while violet has the shortest. The astute reader may notice that infra-red is the region adjacent to red on the spectrum, while ultraviolet bounds visible light on the "violet" end of the spectrum.

Because blue light has a wavelength that is half as much as red, the scattering approximation indicates that it will scatter 16(!) times more readily. This approximation can be used because the vast majority of the atmosphere (nitrogen and oxygen) has a diameter that is of a similar size to the wavelength of blue light.

Think of it like hurdles in the olympics. If a person is running down the field, would a 3 inch hurdle be any difficulty to jump over? Of course not, unless he trips over it. A tall jumper with a small obstacle is analogous to red light being scattered by nitrogen and oxygen. Because of the huge wavelength of the redlight, it isn't really affected by minute particles that are half the size.

Nitrogen's diameter is approximately equal to the length of blue light, however. Think of (amateur) runners trying to clear a six foot wall. All the athletes unable to make the hurdle would be bunched up in front of the wall, and are just like the blue light that is deflected by gas particles.

Now, it just so happens that violet light scatters even more readily than blue light. But the reason that isn't obvious on a beautiful day like today is that the human eye doesn't pick up violet (or "purple") so easily. Low concentrations of violet blend in easily with the blue sky to be basically invisible. One of the reasons violet was the color of royalty was because high concentrations of the color were required to make dye of a sufficient intensity.

If the atmosphere scatters blue light throughout the dome of the sky, why are sunsets red?

There is more air separating a viewer from the sun during sunrise and sunset because the sun is so low in the sky. Most of the blue light has been scattered as it passed through the atmosphere to the point that red and orange dominate during dawn and dusk. These have scattered throughout the sky for the same reason blue dominates a spring afternoon-however, dust (and not nitrogen) acts as the scattering medium. Thus, a high level of pollution makes the scene even more vibrant. You could say a beautiful sunset will take your breath away.

Hope this satisfies your curiosity, but if not, there's always this guy:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Just in Case...

You're a dehydrated vampire stuck in the south seas, coconut water is a decent substitute for IV fluid. Read all about it here.

What I wonder is how was this determined? Who was the pioneer of coconut transfusions (soon to be re-dubbed "coco-fusions")? Whoever he was should take his place with Harvey, Galen, and Hippocrates as a pioneer in the field.

On a lighter note:

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Room - Public Screening

I have the good fortune of living three blocks away from Village East Cinemas. A former Yiddish theater, its also known for running mediocre films.

One exception is its monthly screening of Tommy Wiseau's The Room. An independent project shot on a 6 million dollar budget (including advertising), its quality matches Manos, Hands of Fate, a Mystery Science Theater 3000 mainstay made by a fertilizer salesman with $19,000 to burn. Both are incredibly hilarious, and worth a viewing (if you're willing to waste the time).

But back on point, Village East Cinemas is the central hub for Room devotees. Graced with lukewarm acting, stilted dialogue, and a myriad of continuity issues (both in plot and filming), it has developed a whole litany of little traditions much like Rocky Horror.

While I first saw the movie a decade ago [Dec. 31, 2009], I was somehow able to remember enough of it to follow along during the public screening. And I was glad I did-imagine hundreds of people screaming at long since washed up actors while they try to remind you that "Johnny is his best friend" for the 6th time.

Just to whet your appetite (or convince you that this film isn't for you), here's one of the best scenes.

I don't care what they say, I sympathize with Johnny more than any Na'vi...


Today marks my first attempt to actually communicate with the wide world through use of the internet. I don't want to overstate the significance of this post, or of this blog, but I just thought it would be a good idea to lay out just what I mean by Three Double Swings.

While trying to think of a name for this blog (probably the biggest hurdle for me, because I invest much significance in names-both for people and things), I was inspired (perhaps literally, who knows?) to use this name.

My first reason for the name was that I wanted something that sounded kind of low key, but also catchy.

Secondly, and most importantly, I hope this blog gives glory to God. This is not intended to be a religious blog (though I do intend to remark on matters of Faith). However, it would be foolish that a believer fail to acknowledge both the first cause (ultimate source) and final cause (ultimate goal) of his efforts. And that is, as I said above, God's glory. If you think that means that I'm planning to talk about God all the time, you're wrong, for as St. Irenaeus put it: "Man fully alive is the glory of God!" And while we ultimately need God to be happy, I would argue that He encourages-no, requires-us to use, enjoy, and reflect on His creation. That's why most of my posts will be utterly random, and (hopefully) of wider interest.

This second point is reflected by the title, which refers to the number of swings of the thurible given to show the highest honor towards God. In this image, God is being incensed in the person of the Priest. The Eucharist, the Crucifix, and the Gospel are all honored in the same manner-by three double swings. It's similar to "hip hip, hooray" (x3), but is much more dignified.

And, finally, the idea of adhering to a rubric of three double swings connotes a degree of thoroughness that I hope to capture here, copying Him who did all things well (Mk 7:37). This sense of accomplishment is not pursued out of pride, but out of earnestness for the task and hand and out of regard for those who attempt to benefit from it.

Now that the heavy stuff is out of the way,
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."