Friday, July 30, 2021

Details, details

The Cana Island Lighthouse is, as you would expect, a popular wedding site--but not so much recently. It seems that lightning preferred to strike the power and light poles rather than the lightning rod atop the lighthouse, and the park hasn't replaced the system. What's a DJ to do without power?

The causeway was only 8 inches underwater when we went, but they told us that last year's lake levels had it almost 3 feet deep. The tractor engine was high enough not to flood, but I could imagine that some long dresses in the hay wagon got wet.

Thursday, July 29, 2021


Top ten video game sequences, ten worst video game presentations, ten worst generals, ...

I'm sometimes curious about history-related evaluations--I figure I might learn something--but almost none of these sorts of things involve any action. Top ten home laptops--yes, we had to buy one recently. Best washing machines of 2021--maybe, if something else breaks. Top five vacation destinations--no, we don't have that kind of money. Ten most livable cities in the US--if you don't have to live there. (It turns out that livability is measured differently when you're on a fixed income.)

Even an interesting list leaves a bad aftertaste. The "worst ten" sorts feel a bit ghoulish, and even the "best five" judge their subjects on limited grounds and don't seem quite fair. Even Satan's chewing gum in Inferno doesn't seem perfectly just: Judas fits the bill, but I'll bet you could find better candidates for the honor than Brutus and Cassius.

Snippets from travel

"Lakeshore Baptist Church" shares a building with "Next Level Salon and Spa." Heavenly beauty care?

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Wisconsin Motorcycle Memorial Park

It's real--a one-acre park in Door County in Wisconsin. "The arched entrance to the Memorial Park welcomes you to the "Walkway of Remembrance", a path paved with tribute stones. This walk wraps around the court yard making a loop to represent the never ending circle of life." For some reason the walkway is square instead of round like a motorcycle wheel.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Pass it on

Overheard today: "As soon as I yell 'I'm mad about this!' and express myself, I move on and I'm not angry anymore."

"Conductor, when you receive a fare..." Or, "It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can ..."

Monday, July 26, 2021


Psalm 144:13-14 prays that our flocks multiply and our cattle bear without mishap or loss.

Since the psalmist is talking to God, why doesn’t he ask instead that new cattle appear like manna from heaven? For God, the one is no harder than the other. He made the world to work the way it does, and doesn’t seem to care to change it without good reason.

One thing does change in the psalm—the meaning of the fertility. It isn’t to be mere good luck—it would be a working-out of God’s love for the psalmist.

The fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, etc—appear as physical actions with supernatural meaning. Laziness isn’t patience, though when you’re standing in line they may look similar.

St Therese said it well—our goal shouldn’t be to do great things, but to do small things with great love (The one who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much.). Jesus said that anyone who gave a cup of cold water in His name would not lose his reward.

Meaning matters.

We are told that “God is love.” The converse isn’t always true—what we call love is usually, as Lewis emphasized in Till We Have Faces, so polluted by self-interest that it’s presumptuous to call it love at all. But perhaps I can say that insofar as it is right, and is love, then God is there—in a different way from His “ordinary” omnipresence.

This is not to say that we in ourselves have the power to make God incarnate in the world, but we have the opportunity to let His love become physical and bring Himself more deeply into creation.

To be clear, I take it that God, though "simple" in Himself, is present in the world in different ways—in Jesus, in the Lord’s Supper, through the Holy Spirit living in us, in our neighbor (the least of these), and of course in His omnipresence that even the philosophers recognize. I think that He is also present in our obedient acts of love.

I emphasize obedient, because we’re good at fooling ourselves. It’s the same kind of problem as “How do you worship God?” Worship somehow has to be commensurate with our nature—or we couldn’t do it. I can’t worship God the same way a star would if it could. Unfortunately all kinds of idolatries also seem to fit. The rules need to come from God.

They can be rules of action or renunciation. Fasting is a classic. It is a sacrifice and self-discipline, oriented to our need for God and understanding that the physical/mental world isn’t all there is. Some people fast for a while from the news, or from entertainments. In contrast, things like the ancient Syrian eremites who stood with outstretched arms day and night, or those Buddhist monks who starved themselves into mummies—these don’t pass the test. They point away from love in action, and imagine that the body itself is evil.

In the opposite direction I hear: “love is Love.” No, it isn’t; it's not good enough without righteousness to orient it. Dante depicted this nicely.

The orthodox doctrine says that in the resurrection we will be not merely disembodied ghosts, but returned to a (repaired) physicality. We will be images of God in physical form and physical action.

Jesus called many to follow Him in special ways. But He told the Gaderene demoniac (who wanted to follow!) to go home and tell what great things God had done for him—go evangelize! “Take up your bed and go home.” “Go and sin no more.” “I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel! … Go”

Is the renunciate life better? Paul seemed to think so, but he was careful to admit that this was simply him speaking: wisely, since Jesus sent people home sometimes. How often we don't know, but there were only about 120 at Pentacost and He'd had thousands of followers.

It seems to me that making God’s love incarnate in the world through ordinary living is also a high calling.

Both require the power of God to fulfill.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Close, but...

Youngest Daughter observed that the verb "fash" seemed mirrored in the noun "fashion", but it turns out their etymologies differ. Evocative, none-the-less...

Monday, July 19, 2021

Rabbit tracking

I took to wondering about hinges. I've heard of leather hinges, which despite a certain lack of durability seem actually to have been used--within living memory--to hang doors. (Read the comments on that article.) What did the Romans use?

"Roman doors opened and closed on pivots connected to the top and bottom of the leaf. These pivots were inserted into bronze turning posts that were cut into the threshold". Doors, curtains, partitions and the like didn't survive, and even in Pompeii not much was left. But there's still quite a bit to learn about. One detail: "lower quality materials were preferred in the front of the house, in the areas most accessible to visitors and guests, while the finest materials were reserved (for) the areas surrounding the secluded back garden." Perhaps they didn't want the tax man to get too grand an idea of their wealth.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

So that you don't waste as much time as we did...

If you are missing a lightweight strap made partly with velcro, and it's not in any logical place, check the laundry. It might have stuck to your clothes.

11 rescued so far

Tracing a news story: Starting from the beginning: "A vessel build in Liberia named “NIKO IVENKA” has been dedicated and is prepared for full operation. The vessel was produced by a company called HYLAEA INCORPORATED." A second story explains why it was considered "Made in Liberia:" "The NIKO IVANKA was locally built by HYLAEA INC. in Marshall, Margibi County in four months...could address the deplorable road challenge being experienced in the Southeastern region."

Three years later, the cargo ship (not authorized to carry passengers) was in trouble: The vessel was advised on so many occasions not to sail, FrontPageAfrica gathered.

It started to sink: 11 rescued. The picture in that story suggests a calm evacuation (there'a a photographer there!), so I don't know why 15-17 should still be missing, unless they had reason to want to be not found, or they were never there to begin with.

Who to blame? "We are commissioning an investigation into how a vessel that was detained for failure to meet rudimentary safety requirements managed to get on the sea with passengers and cargo," Nagbe said.... "The vessel's owner, a Chinese national, was arrested on Sunday afternoon"

I don't expect reports about passenger count to be accurate--certainly not right away.

It isn't obvious where the name Hylaea came from, but the hint in an earlier paragraph suggests Hylaea Inc is a Chinese firm.

I didn't know Liberia had a shipyard. Neither, apparently, does Google.

According to UNCTaDStat Liberia had no significant ship-building in 2019. The 2019 report only mentions 2017--I can't find info for 2018. And when I look up a satellite map of Marshall, I don't see any obvious shipyard infrastructure.

The ship was "built in Liberia"--in specific in Marshall. That just doesn't look plausible (look at the map yourself). The claim could be a complete lie, of course. Or it might have been partly true--the ship might have been finished in Liberia (but who'd send an unfinished ship around the world?), or it might have been superficially refurbished there--redoing the pilot house, wiring, and the paint job on a worn-out tub. I'd guess the third option is the likeliest--a quick refurb of a junker and a big press release. OK, maybe not new wiring Building a freighter in four months seems a bit of a stretch for Liberia--even in a wartime economy in the US after optimizing for speed it took a month and a half--it had taken nearly a year when we started.

And the old tub didn't hold up very well. (I can't figure out which "cargo ship" it might be here--maybe it's too late)

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Who told them this was a good idea?

A Lego gun? It's a Glock encased with panels that look like Lego blocks. Lego has demanded that they cease, and as of today they have (having sold fewer than 20). Naturally the news stories play up the notion that kids will think it a toy and shoot themselves, etc, etc. The sheriff's office is only quoted as calling it "concerning," though I imagine they could elaborate at length if the WaPo allowed it.

It isn't a useful tool. Imagine trying to get that snaggy thing out of a holster. It's a grownup's toy. And it looks like a kid's toy. Some will be stolen, of course. So now: You're a cop, and a suspect teenager turns and points this thing at you. Choose quick--is it real?

I gather there's a federal law to keep toy guns from looking real--so kids don't accidentally spook people and get shot. This is the opposite--but the same sort of idea applies.

Spiritual "concierge"

A quick duck-duck-going will find you plenty of kings and queens who had a personal confessor. They undoubtedly had great need for one.(*) Some of them took their jobs quite seriously, and prescribed penances that our era finds startling--and those kings and queens did as bidden.

I suspect there are no significant penances in the world of "spritual concierges", who handle crystals, sage burning, "full moon intention ceremony," and other services to residents of these condos. My church doesn't go in for exorcisms much, but since I can't afford to live in one of these places anyway it doesn't matter.

I remember arriving in the Paris airport way early, and seeing signs for a room for religious use and meditation. I was pleasantly surprised, and eventually found the tiny pair of rooms. At that hour they were empty of people and full of Muslim literature, and showed little wear. It didn't look comfortable, and suggested unhappy possibilities about travelers.


But many a king on a first-class throne,
If he wants to call his crown his own,
Must manage somehow to get through
More dirty work than ever I do,

Sunday, July 11, 2021


"So all his manhood's strength and pride One sickly dream had swept aside."

AVI has been thinking about the effect of the abstraction of social media on children. First thoughts, "Is development missing something?", and Grim's thoughts on disembodied sex. Perhaps the physical environment isn't that attractive.

Puberty is confusing enough when there are clear sex roles ("What do I say?"), but without them, and with the understanding that there's no reason not to have sex--isn't the pressure and confusion going to be even higher? We have little lectures now and then about "your right to say no" but I don't think those make much headway against fashion.

If I try to imagine myself as a teen girl (it takes some doing, obviously), I think I can see the interest in declaring for a new gender variety that can turn off the pressure, and for hanging out electronically.

For a boy, maybe porn is a big deal. Real people don't seem to act much like the porn actors. If the boy is young enough, will he recognize himself in the male actors in the ubiquitous porn, or will the action seem alien and arbitrary? "If that's what a man wants and I don't, maybe I'm something different." Even boys can be put off by the expectation for sex. And some find the physical environment hostile--because they don't quite fit or because ideological parents or other kin disdain boys, or some such. I'd guess the pressure is worse for girls, but I can imagine boys getting confused too.

Clearly this confusion is new--suicide rates are up, not down with greater acceptance of "gender diversity." If this was something that had haunted humanity since forever, and only our wonderful enlightenment had discovered the truth, you'd expect the reverse.

Sumptuary Laws

Althouse posted on a NYT article, highlighting a comment: "I believe all National Parks should be closed to visitors unless they have been invited. There should be a selection process..."

Some people aren't worthy of being in the parks, or the royal forest. They are, though not in so many words, considered low class.

A very similar air accompanies the calls to live more densely and abandon the use of cars, and to avoid using energy. The exhorters typically don't set the rest of us an example--they're a different class.

The old sumptuary laws were nominally for our own good, to cut down on 'keeping up with the Jones'" spending spirals, keep the balance of trade under control, and to inspire proper humility, but something always showed through: "declare our utter detestation and dislike that men or women of mean condition, educations, and callings should take upon them the garb of gentlemen, by the wearing of gold or silver lace, or buttons,"

The attitude still shows.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Dog parallels

During conversation after dinner, our birthday guest mentioned that border collies were highly intelligent, but if not given adequate training and stimulation, would become destructive. Naturally this reminded me of college students. "Due to their demanding personalities and need for mental stimulation and exercise, many border collies develop problematic behaviors in households that are not able to provide for their needs. They are infamous for chewing holes in walls and furniture, and destructive scraping and hole digging, due to boredom." The parallels seemed obvious.

A more detailed explanation of what makes border collies tick suggests that this isn't perfectly comparable, though.

With friends like this

Some years ago I was asked to lead a study based on The Prayer of Jabez. I firmly declined.

It reminded me strongly of the apocryphal (I hope) sermon based on Genesis 27:11.

While looking for options for a new study (so far no consensus from the group), I scanned a catalog of Christian books and teaching aids, and found... Do I need to comment on this?

The Heart That Grew Three Sizes -- DVD Curriculum Rediscover the gift of Advent this year by looking at a familiar holiday classic through the lens of faith! In this 4-session study based on Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rawle explores Christian themes including the growth of the Grinch's heart, why Christmas saved him, and how the things we despise can sometimes change our lives.

The catalog also offers some other pop-studies "The 40-Day Sugar Fast", some mediocre-sounding studies, a number of renowned commentaries and other tools, and a number of studies that are actually good. Curiously enough, the catalog omits quite a few of the Christian classics. Possibly they feel they can't compete with CCEL.

I'm not saying that secular works can't point to Christ. One key step in my journey to Christ was reading a secular poem by Lewis Carroll. But seriously--is it honest to make 4 lessons of this?

Friday, July 09, 2021


I was once tapped to do a Bible study on Ecclesiastes. I'm rather fond of the book. Peggy Lee singing "Is That All There Is?" would be a perfect intro -- if 4 minutes weren't forever opening a Sunday School class. The "break out the booze" might have raised a few eyebrows, but if the peice had been shorter I'd have used it.

It's fun--you can read the book three different ways: purely secular, God's around somewhere, and from a New Testament perspective. But even in the New Testament era, sometimes Ecclesiastes-days come.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

What's of value in the end

Tarnished beauty under silver hair
Bloodless wrinkles framing dimming eyes
Golden conversations lost in haze
Whispered random words and unsaid "Why?"s

The book is closed.
The gifts are spent.
And grateful friends recall:
Her gifts bought us blessing

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Inventing liberty

Donald Sensing reran his post on "How Jesus invented individual liberty." If you haven't read that, do. He highlights how radically different Jesus' demands stood against the honor/shame culture of the land. Even those who want to overturn their Western culture take it for granted. We shouldn't.

Monday, July 05, 2021

Ancestral memory?

When you recline in a recliner chair, the foot rest unfolds up to form a rest for you, and the sides which protected the seat parts jut out below it. From your point of view this is a comfortable foot rest, but from below this makes a little cave just right for a small enough dog to curl up in.

Sunday, July 04, 2021

More travel notes

You are never 100% involved in someone else's life, and the tributes at the funeral will hold some surprises, from people who were part of her life but not yours. Not bad surprises; more of "I wish I could have been there too."

Sometimes family you haven't seen in years have a great deal to talk about.

OTOH, one sometimes finds great opportunity to hold one's tongue. (They mean well.)

Dogs can be remarkably patient wrt toddlers pulling on their noses.

Billboards sometimes seem to assume that you've watched TV. When I see "Live mas" I think "Dead weight," but that's probably not the meaning. (A famous taco chain)

At first I thought the hotel had invested in heated toilet seats, and wondered how that worked in such inexpensive-looking plastic fixtures. It turned out they had some plumbing problems with their hot and cold water tanks--and the latter wasn't working at all. Hot water everywhere.

Cell phones are easily portable, and also easily lose-able.