My Photo
Location: United States

Friday, January 31, 2014

Art and a poem

Watching a video about the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston and its new nautilus sculpture. The artist mentioned a poem, which I've posted below the video.

The Chambered Nautilus - Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main,—
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.

Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed,—
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!

Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.

Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:—

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

Some music ...

from The 4400

Thursday, January 30, 2014


- How to Build a Happier Brain. This article reminded me of Ignatian repetition

- read a 2011 sermon by Philip Pullman given at Oxford University's St. Mary's Church ... "Virtue, Faith and Curiosity" ... here

- New documents reveal inner workings of papal birth control commission

- a series of video lectures on the suppression and restoration of the Jesuits by John Padberg SJ for this 200th anniversary of the restoration

-Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges and learn about self-compassion here ....

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ichabod Crane and Aristotle on friendship

In the latest episode of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane, who's been resurrected into the present and tasked, along with police lieutenant Abbie Mills, with stopping the imminent apocalypse, finds a map of purgatory drawn by the late George Washington, which Ichabod uses to reunite with his dead wife, a witch, who's a prisoner of Moloch ... eek! ;)

Ichabod is helped by a sin eater played by Walter of Fringe ....

They find the map of purgatory in Washington's tomb ...

But before this, Ichabod has asked Abby for a new cell phone ...

She loans him her phone to try out and in doing so, he discovers through her Facebook updates that she has 500 friends ...

Ichabod: How is it you have 500 friends? I had only seven close companions. Four of them died, and those were good odds.

Abbie: We use the term 'friend' more loosely these days.

Ichabod: Aristotle would be most unimpressed.

This cracked me up because I have gone through most of my life since college telling myself that it's ok that I only have a few friends, based on Aristotle ;) ...

Aristotle makes it clear that the number of people with whom one can sustain the kind of relationship he calls a perfect friendship is quite small (IX.10). Even if one lived in a city populated entirely by perfectly virtuous citizens, the number with whom one could carry on a friendship of the perfect type would be at most a handful. For he thinks that this kind of friendship can exist only when one spends a great deal of time with the other person, participating in joint activities and engaging in mutually beneficial behavior; and one cannot cooperate on these close terms with every member of the political community. - link

I like this show!


- Just noticed this Thinking Faith review of Jesuit spiritual director William Barry's book, Praying the Truth: Deepening Your Friendship with God through Honest Prayer

- Silenced But Not Silent, These Priests Are Moving Right Along ... a post about Fr. John Dear, Fr. Tony Flannery, and Fr. Roy Bourgeois.

- Protesting Priests in Kiev--the full story

- Making Homophobia History, from Episcopal priest Susan Russell

- Andrew Brown on relics ... In our way we are all keepers of the pope's blood. Here's a bit of it ...

[N]othing could be more natural than keeping relics of the dead. We keep all kinds of family treasures, handwritten letters and other tokens of an absent presence. What's strange is keeping relics of dead people we never knew. ..... In the case of saints' blood, there is a particularly creepy connection. There are many examples of blood being collected from the sites of martyrdom, religious or otherwise. It seems a natural and profoundly primitive gesture to collect or use the blood of a fallen comrade as a way of binding the living to them. It works the other way round, too: in the Aeneid, blood is what the ghosts crave and what they demand before they will speak when the hero visits the underworld. What matters here is the connection of blood with personality and with a particular individuality. This is of course almost impossible to prove, and means that blood can also be associated with one of the most notorious fraudulent miracles, the annual liquefaction of the blood of St Gennaro in Naples.

All this is primitive, but we never outgrow it. I'm not sure we should. The roots of our reverence for relics go back to our earliest consciousness and are nourished there. In fact some of the best and most thoughtful discussions of relics, and of things as quasi-animate symbols, comes in children's literature, where the boundaries between living and non-living are permeable – in particular two stories about how love brings things to life: The Velveteen Rabbit, and Russell Hoban's The Mouse and His Child. The Mouse and His Child is a spectacularly dark and unhappy book. The more the toys who are its protagonists become alive, the more they suffer ...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger

At dotCommonweal - R.I.P. Pete Seeger. A song of his I like ...

"It is green."

Done now with Deep Space Nine ... the last episode had Vic singing The Way You Look Tonight.....

I'm also getting close to the end of STTNG - must find something else to rent soon. But anyway, in tonight's episode, Data meets Scotty and helps him find a real alcoholic beverage ...

This is a reference to an episode of the original series in which Scotty gets an alien drunk on something green :) ...

The church changing its mind

Listening to a BBC Radio 4 podcast - Last Rites for the Church of England? Andrew Brown asks if the Church of England has become fatally disconnected from society.

What Andrew Brown says about the C of R is also true for the Catholic Church, not just in the UK but in the US as well ... The English do still believe in God, almost as much as they did 40 years ago - what they no longer believe in is the Church of England ... new research has shown that there's a chasm which separates the attitudes and values of the national church organization from those of ordinary churchgoers. It's called the values gap.

There were a number of people on the show besides Brown, including Bishop Alan Wilson and Diarmaid MacCulloch. Some of the more conservative church guys on the show averred that the church of course couldn't change core beliefs just to fit in with what a majority of people believed, but as historian MacCulloch pointed out, the church has done so many times, usury being a good example.

Usury, the charging of interest on loans, was really verboten to the early Christian church and the medieval Catholic church, and yet today the Vatican actually runs its own international (and pretty corrupted) banking system. Why did this change come about? From Wikipedia ...

The First Council of Nicaea, in 325, forbade clergy from engaging in usury (canon 17). At the time, usury was interest of any kind, and the canon merely forbade the clergy to lend money on interest above 1 percent per month (12.7% APR). Later ecumenical councils applied this regulation to the laity. Lateran III decreed that persons who accepted interest on loans could receive neither the sacraments nor Christian burial. Pope Clement V made the belief in the right to usury a heresy in 1311, and abolished all secular legislation which allowed it. Pope Sixtus V condemned the practice of charging interest as "detestable to God and man, damned by the sacred canons and contrary to Christian charity." ....

[T]he Jews became an element in a vicious circle. The Christians, on the basis of the Biblical rulings, condemned interest-taking absolutely, and from 1179 those who practiced it were excommunicated. Catholic autocrats frequently imposed the harshest financial burdens on the Jews. The Jews reacted by engaging in the one business where Christian laws actually discriminated in their favor, and became identified with the hated trade of moneylending .... In England, the departing Crusaders were joined by crowds of debtors in the massacres of Jews at London and York in 1189–1190. In 1275, Edward I of England passed the Statute of Jewry which made usury illegal and linked it to blasphemy, in order to seize the assets of the violators. Scores of English Jews were arrested, 300 were hanged and their property went to the Crown. In 1290, all Jews were expelled from England, and allowed to take only what they could carry; the rest of their property became the Crown's. The usury was cited as the official reason for the Edict of Expulsion.

And then this, also from Wikipedia ...

Vix Pervenit: On Usury and Other Dishonest Profit was an encyclical, promulgated by Pope Benedict XIV on November 1, 1745, which condemned the practice of charging interest on loans as usury .... The Holy Office applied the encyclical to the whole of the Roman Catholic Church on July 29, 1836, during the reign of Pope Gregory XVI.

[... but ...]

By the 19th century, the debate over lending within the Catholic Church disappeared, as the provision of credit had become viewed as political economy issue rather than a theological one. In 1830, following the widespread acceptance of the Napoleonic code, which allowed interest, throughout Europe, with the approval of Pope Pius VIII, the Inquisition of Rome, distinguished the doctrine of usury from the practice of usury, decreeing that confessors should no longer disturb the latter ....

The Code of Canon Law, promulgated in 1917, allowed those responsible for the church's financial affairs at the parochial and diocesan levels to invest in interest-bearing securities "for the legal rate of interest (unless it is evident that the legal rate is exorbitant), or even for a higher rate, provided that there be a just and proportionate reason."

A specialist in Catholic social doctrine argues, circa 1994, that "the words 'bank' and 'banking' are almost nonexistent in the documents of modern Catholic social teaching. Perhaps because the medieval teaching was never formally retracted that money was unproductive and therefore money lending at interest was therefore immoral, yet the church itself became an active investor.... Or perhaps it was because the church was deeply involved in financial matters at the highest levels that it was in no position to criticise."

The Vatican Bank was founded by Pope Pius XII in June 1942.

Further reading ...

Medieval Sourcebook: Thomas Aquinas: On Usury, c. 1269-71

Change for the Church: Jews and Banking in Renaissance Italy

Monday, January 27, 2014

In Memory of Holocaust Victims

On this, the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of Holocaust Victims, I'd like to link to two of Dina's recent posts ... יום הזיכרון הבינלאומי לשואה and "Remembrance and Beyond".

Though I had a general knowledge of the history around this day, it wasn't until I started reading the novels of former UPI Middle East correspondent and novelist Daniel Silva a few years ago that I got a better understanding of what happened and what it meant. I've posted often here about books of his I've read and I do recommend them.

Let's never forget.

Squirrel Appreciation Day

My sister tells me I missed Squirrel Appreciation Day ... oh no! ;) ... so I thought I'd post some of the past photos I've taken of the squirrels in my yard ....

Sunday, January 26, 2014

From video games to Ignatian retreats

A post by Giles Fraser - Grand Theft Auto only gives the illusion of freedom. It's someone else's rules - about free will and the video game Grand Theft Auto. Here's a bit of it ...

[...] Set in some dystopian version of Los Angeles, the game is an "open world" environment, giving the player the impression of complete agency. Within the game, you can roam free, apparently doing what you want and when you want. Agency is the key word here, and central to the argument of Janet Murray's hugely influential book Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace published back in 1997.

Stories shape how we think and act. And the sorts of stories we tell ourselves are themselves shaped by the technical possibilities available. Just as Johannes Gutenberg and his printing press ushered in one sort of literary revolution, so too computer technology ushers in another. With computer games, one can actually step into the story and determine its course, immerse oneself in the narrative to the exclusion of all else. It feels more like life itself. The possibilities seem endless. The text doesn't control you, you control it. "You can do whatever you want in it, Dad," was my son's unsuccessful pitch.

Oh how Calvin would chuckle. He would love the illustrative potential of GTA. "Wake up!" I imagine him shouting. You are not creating this world. It has been created for you ...

You know that song I posted a few days ago - Sister Golden Hair by America? I noticed that another of their songs, A Horse With No Name, has a second lease on life due to the Grand Theft Auto game soundtrack .....

The idea of the effect of virtual activities upon us, whether they take place in some video game or instead in our imagination on an Ignatian retreat, is pretty interesting. I think ultimately we do freely choose the venue, but we cannot always foresee its transformative results.

JD Crossan on Paul

- Conversion of Saint Paul - Michelangelo Buonarroti

Yesterday was the feast of the Conversion of Paul, and today I saw a post, The Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe comes to Duke this week, at Professor Mark Goodacre's blog. The post is about a movie on Paul taking a collection of funds from Antioch to the church in Jerusalem (link). Mark wrote this about the movie in an earlier post ...

[...] The film itself is quite original. As regular readers will know, I am something of a consumer of documentaries about the New Testament, and I can't recall having seen anything quite like this. Its chief focus is on Paul's collection for the saints in Jerusalem. It tells the story of Paul's troubled relations with James, Peter and the other apostles in Jerusalem, and explains how he became fixated on what it calls his "polite bribe"

The film uses an unseen narrator and a unique animation style that somehow manages to capture the sense of this as another world. Orlando avoids usual documentary distractions of shots of present day Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, and so on. But most strikingly, the story is told primarily by means of multiple modern-day Biblical scholars.

Many of the top shots are there. They include documentary regulars like Bart Ehrman and Tom Wright, new documentary stars like Candida Moss, and many I have not seen before on film, Philip Esler, Douglas Campbell, Amy-Jill Levine. Orlando seems to get the best out of them all. Ben Witherington III appears often and is surprisingly amusing. Indeed, many of them appear relaxed and even humorous, perhaps because they all get a little more than the usual twenty second soundbites.

I was impressed by the way that the film manages to weave a story that scholars know well into a narrative that would be comprehensible and compelling to those with no knowledge of the field. It's certainly something I would enjoy using in the classroom, but I suspect that those who will enjoy it most will be those who are unaccustomed to reflecting critically on Paul's biography ...

Here's JD Crossan on Paul and the movie ...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The T word

Still watching Deep Space Nine and now political economics has become clear to me .... Republicans are ideologically Ferengi ;) In tonight's episode, a friend tells Quark about recent socioeconomic reforms taking place on the Ferengi home world ...

Pope Francis and Isaac Asimov

Pope Francis spoke to an Italian women's group today about women's roles in the church and society. Here's a bit of what he said ...

[...] In a special way the Apostolic Letter of Blessed John Paul II Mulieres dignitatem from 1988 should be mentioned, on the dignity and vocation of the woman, a document which, in line with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, recognized the moral force of the woman and her spiritual force .... I, too, have recalled the indispensable role of the woman in society, in particular with her sensitivity and intuition for the other, the weak and the defenseless ....

I’ve voiced hope that the spaces for a feminine presence that’s more capillary and incisive in the Church will be enlarged .... The gifts of delicacy, of a special sensibility and tenderness, which are a richness of the feminine spirit, represent only a genuine force for the life of the family, for the irradiation of a clime of serenity and harmony, but a reality without which the human vocation would be unrealizable.

If in the world of work and in the public sphere it’s important to have a more incisive role for the feminine genius, that role also remains essential in the ambit of the family, which for us Christians is not simply a private place, but the “domestic Church” whose health and prosperity are a prerequisite for the health and prosperity of the Church and of society itself. The presence of the women in the domestic ambit thus shows itself to be more necessary than ever, for the transmission solid moral principles to future generations and for the transmission of the faith itself ....

The gender stereotyping continues ... women and their special genius, their sensitivity, their intuition, their moral force, their delicacy, and their tenderness. I don't dispute that some women have these qualities, but I'm sure those qualities are just as extant in some men.

And what kind of "capillary and incisive" roles will there be for women in the church when the positions of deacon, priest, bishop, cardinal, and pope are disallowed? It seems obvious that even these nebulous roles the pope speaks of are subordinate in his mind to the domestic roles women hold.

The pope's belief in "women's intuition" reminded me of a story by Isaac Asimov ... Feminine Intuition ... in which a robot is programmed with women's intuition in order to help analyze astronomical data at an observatory. The robot is accidentally destroyed before its data can be downloaded, and the company that created it must call upon its former director, a woman, to help .... She solves the problem using her own version of feminine intuition - a combination of careful information gathering and astute psychological reasoning. The title of the story is thus highly ironic.

Meanwhile, in another Church, they celebrate the 70th ordination anniversary of Florence Li Tim-Oi, the first woman priest of the Anglican Communion.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Alejandro García-Rivera and personhood

Reading Artificial intelligence and de las Casas: A 1492 resonance by Alejandro García-Rivera. It's about intelligence or personhood tests - one from the 16th century, the Valladolid debate, and more modern ones like the Turing Test and Searle's Chinese Room (I wrote about these tests here).

The Valladolid debate, held in Spain, was about whether Native Americans in the New World were intelligent enough to be "people" and thus not slave material. Speaking for the Native Americans was Bishop (and Dominican) Bartolomé de las Casas. He's often viewed as a wonderful guy for this, but it should be mentioned that he was in favor of the slavery of African natives (the Transatlantic slave trade.). Representing the Spanish monarchy in the debate (pro-slavery) was another Dominican, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda. Here's a bit from Professor García-Rivera's article ...

[...] Gines de SepGlveda argued:

*** [I]f you know the customs and nature of the two peoples [Spaniards and Native Americans], that with perfect right the Spaniards rule over these barbarians of the New World and the adjacent islands, who in wisdom, intelligence, virtue, and humanitus are as inferior to the Spaniards as infants to adults and women to men. There is as much difference between them as there is between cruel, wild peoples and the most merciful of peoples, between the most monstrously intemperate peoples and those who are temperate and moderate in their pleasures, that, is to say, between apes and men. (Seplilveda [1550] 1892) ***

De las Casas took a different tack. By concentrating on the Amerindian’s willingness and receptivity to the gospel, de las Casas aimed to show that such receptivity was also a mark of intelligence. Thus, he countered:

*** [W]hatever I say about the faith of the Indians I have seen with my own eyes, not only in one place or one nation but in very many. They honor the holy sacraments of the [Roman] Catholic Church and receive them with a great indication of piety. If they cannot be helped by the sacraments because of a lack of priests, these sincere people grow pale, lament, grieve and weep. Again, at the time ofdeath you may see in them a wonderful concern about their salvation and their soul-a clear sign of eternal predestination that is characteristic of Christians. (de las Casas [1550] 1988). ***

According to the Wikipedia page on the debate, neither side really won and there was no actual change in the treatment of the natives of the New World.

Professor García-Rivera goes on to describe the Turing test and Searle's Chinese Room thought experiment, which deal with the differences between human thinking and artificial intelligence - he sees the Turing test as being just about straight intelligence, while the Chinese Room scenario is about meaning ...

First, if we were able to create artificially intelligent machines, we would have to recognize that such intelligence is tied to meaning. Where there is intelligence, there is also meaning. We ought to realize that intelligent beings, be they machines or human, are also meaningful beings and not natural slaves. Secondly, we would have to recognize that an artificially intelligent machine would be more of an “other” than an “us.” As such, a Turing test would not be enough to test for the sentience of a machine. Turing tests test for "us-ness,” not for “otherness.” Without a test for “otherness,” it might be possible to create an artificially intelligent machine without knowing it and then inadvertently take its life or its freedom.

If I understand him correctly, Professor García-Rivera seems to be saying that validation of others as persons requires more than an evaluation of intelligence, that the ultimate touchstone of personhood should not necessarily be complete conformance to human criteria. I agree.This all brings me to a couple of fictional personhood tests ...

One of these was the trial in an episode of Star Trek to decide if Commander Data, an android, was a "person" or not. Data was of course very intelligent but what made him a person was not this alone - any computer seems intelligent if it's well programmed - it was the meaning, different though it may have been from human meaning, that he was able to give to his lived experience. As Captain Picard, who defended Data's rights, realized, it was all about slavery ...

The other test was the Voight-Kampff test from Blade Runner (and Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) which was used to tell the difference between human beings and replicants. The test didn't measure intelligence - replicants were perhaps even more intelligent than humans - but it measured empathy, and specifically empathy for animals .... this wasn't so obvious in the film, but the book shows a world where real animals are almost completely extinct and where every person longs to experience the companionship of an animal, even if it's only an electric sheep. The replicants had no detectable empathy, and yet this scene from the movie shows a kind of personhood that, while different than ours, was still recognizable. That's visible in this scene in which a replicant unexpectedly saves Deckard's life and then speaks so eloquently to him of his own impending death ...

So many links ...

so little time. First, a poem :) ...

- Unit of Measure - Sandra Beasley

All can be measured by the standard of the capybara.
Everyone is lesser than or greater than the capybara.
Everything is taller or shorter than the capybara.
Everything is mistaken for a Brazilian dance craze
more or less frequently than the capybara.
Everyone eats greater or fewer watermelons
than the capybara. Everyone eats more or less bark.
Everyone barks more than or less than the capybara,
who also whistles, clicks, grunts, and emits what is known
as his alarm squeal. Everyone is more or less alarmed
than a capybara, who—because his back legs
are longer than his front legs—feels like
he is going downhill at all times.
Everyone is more or less a master of grasses
than the capybara. Or going by the scientific name,
more or less Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris—
or, going by the Greek translation, more or less
water hog. Everyone is more or less
of a fish than the capybara, defined as the outermost realm
of fishdom by the 16th-century Catholic Church.
Everyone is eaten more or less often for Lent than
the capybara. Shredded, spiced, and served over plantains,
everything tastes more or less like pork
than the capybara. Before you decide that you are
greater than or lesser than a capybara, consider
that while the Brazilian capybara breeds only once a year,
the Venezuelan variety mates continuously.
Consider the last time you mated continuously.
Consider the year of your childhood when you had
exactly as many teeth as the capybara—
twenty—and all yours fell out, and all his
kept growing. Consider how his skin stretches
in only one direction. Accept that you are stretchier
than the capybara. Accept that you have foolishly
distributed your eyes, ears, and nostrils
all over your face. Accept that now you will never be able
to sleep underwater. Accept that the fish
will never gather to your capybara body offering
their soft, finned love. One of us, they say, one of us,
but they will not say it to you.

- There's a post about Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ at Thinking Faith. I don't know a lot about him, but when I do think of him, one thing comes to mind: the Piltdown Man hoax in which he was involved. Here's a past article on that ... Deceiver, joker or innocent? Teilhard de Chardin and Piltdown Man by J. Francis Thackeray, originally published in Antiquity.

- Cardinal George revises history ... spinning the forced release of clergy sex abuse documentation

- Yay! Another cardinal has taken the CDF's Müller (and his infamous talk on marriage) down a peg ...

The leading member of the Council of Cardinals (C8) has sharply criticised the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal-designate Gerhard Müller. In several recent statements Cardinal-designate Müller has ruled out any revision of church rules barring divorced and civilly remarried Catholics from the sacraments.

Asked about this in an interview with the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, a Honduran, said: “He’s a German, one has to say, and above all he’s a German theology professor, so in his mentality there’s only truth and falsehood. But I say, my brother, the world isn’t like this, and you should be a little flexible when you hear other voices. That means not just listening and then saying no.” ...

- I'm looking forward to seeing the new BBC tv series, The Musketeers. I've read all the Dumas books and have seen most of the movies. The Catholic Herald is upset because the series is being mean to Cardinal Richelieu ... Sorry BBC, Cardinal Richelieu was not a beard-stroking evil genius. I think they may actually be right in a way .... Richelieu was the villain of the stories by Dumas (Dumas didn't like the Jesuits either) but in real life, Richelieu was, as one of my history teachers used to say, the best king France never had. Here's a trailer for the show ...

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Heard this yesterday while shopping :) ...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

At my house

Strange photo of the day from my living room. I think I'll call it "afternoon sunlight on cat furniture" ;) ...

What I saw today

- A Bigger Grand Canyon, Hockney

Jesuit John Coleman writes about an exhibit of David Hockney's work at the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park ... Learning to See Differently

- Opinions About Abortion Haven't Changed Since Roe v. Wade ... Most Americans are deeply conflicted about abortion. One survey found that a significant number of Americans identify simultaneously as pro-life and pro-choice.

- Much at stake for Francis in Vatican sex abuse moves ... Despite Pope Francis' heartfelt expressions of lament over priest sex abuse last week, the Geneva hearing suggests to date he does not understand the full magnitude of the related sex abuse issues, or, if he does, is yet unwilling or incapable of responding to it. I so want Francis to succeed in his multiple reform efforts it is heartbreaking to think he might miss the ball on clergy sex abuse – and cover-up. (With the emphasis here on “cover-up.)

- From The Atlantic .... The New Aaron Swartz Documentary at Sundance. Here's a trailer for the film ...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Prayer and DS9

I'm still watching Deep Space Nine and I've come to an episode I've always remembered since I first saw it years ago - It's Only a Paper Moon. In this episode, Nog, a young Ferengi Star Fleet officer who's just lost hid leg in battle, is so disturbed by his injury that he tales to living in a holosuite program with a 50s Las Vegas casino lunge singer, Vic Fontaine (James Darren). Here we see Nog hanging out with Vic, as he slowly recovers (and Vic sings It's Only a Paper Moon) ...

But eventually Nog is forced to leave the holosuite and he tries to explain to Vic why he doesn't want to ...

* * *

NOG: Don't you get it? I can't go out there.

VIC: Why not?

NOG: I'm scared, okay? I'm scared. When the war began, I wasn't happy or anything, but I was eager. I wanted to test myself. I wanted to prove I had what it took to be a soldier. And I saw a lot of combat. I saw a lot of people get hurt. I saw a lot of people die, but I didn't think anything was going to happen to me. And then suddenly Doctor Bashir is telling me he has to cut my leg off. I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. If I can get shot, if I can lose my leg, anything could happen to me, Vic. I could die tomorrow. I don't know if I'm ready to face that. If I stay here, at least I know what the future is going to be like.

VIC: You stay here, you're going to die. Not all at once, but little by little. Eventually you'll become as hollow as I am.

NOG: You don't seem hollow to me.

VIC: Compared to you, I'm hollow as a snare drum. Look, kid, I don't know what's going to happen to you out there. All I can tell you is that you've got to play the cards life deals you. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but at least you're in the game.

* * *

The reason I mentioned prayer in the title is because so often my prayers are a recitation of Nog's concerns ..... "I don't want to do this anymore. Bad stuff keeps happening to everyone, including me, and there's no way to stop it. I'm scared. I just want it to all go away." I'm still waiting to see if God has any advice more helpful than Vic;s to Nog.

Interview: Richard Leonard SJ

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ursula K Le Guin on Embassytown

My latest book from the library is Embassytown by China Miéville. Here's the blurb from ...

In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak. Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language. When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties: to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak—but which speaks through her, whether she likes it or not.

I'm just at the beginning of the book and so far it's a bit hard to understand but I'll persevere (this is the third book of Miéville's I've tried - the first was The City & the City, which I liked, and the second was Kraken, which I didn't like as much).

Ursula K Le Guin did a review of the book for The Guardian. Here's just the beginning of it ...

Some authors fill a novel with futuristic scenery and jargon and then strenuously, even stertorously, deny that it's science fiction. No, no, they don't write that nasty stuff, never touch it. They write literature. Though curiously familiar with the tropes and conventions of the despised genre, they so blithely ignore the meaning of terms, they reinvent the wheel with such cries of self-admiration, that their endeavours seem a doomed effort to prove that one can write a novel without learning how. China Miéville knows what kind of novel he's writing, calls it by its name, science fiction, and exhibits all the virtues that make it an intensely interesting form of literature ...

More links

- Memory in plants

- “Downton Abbey’s” right-wing worldview: Benevolent rich people caring for servants

- The Vatican and the 400 defrocked priests ... Anatomy of a now-you-see-it, now-you-don't Vatican denial

- Two posts from Verdict: The Fortieth Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and 2013: The Year in Review for Child Sex Abuse Victims’ Access to Justice

Saturday, January 18, 2014


- Alfred the Great's bones may have been found.

- OK, this isn't a link exactly but I want to share ;) I've been leaving out dry food for the homeless Mr. Scruffy cat. The dish is under a window and a few nights ago when looking out I saw a possum eating the food, and tonight there was a skunk ... eek!

- Court takes up whether buffer zone excessively limits free speech. The story is about whether free speech is daunted by a buffer zone protecting those who wish to enter a women's clinic from pro-life protestors. This made me think of a past documentary film, Lake of Fire. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3.5 stars in his review.

- Catholic Church Slammed At UN Over Sex-Abuse Handling ... and The Tablet asks, What difference will the Vatican's grilling at the UN make?

- a couple of old articles I saw recently that touch on the subject of divorce/annulment and leaving the priesthood ... Surely Rome can do better by former Jesuit James Ewens, and Pope Francis should consider the church's outdated annulment process by Fr. Peter Daly

Friday, January 17, 2014

Rowan Williams on Teresa of Avila

Rowan Williams talks about Teresa of Avila in an interview posted here. He wrote a book on her in 1991 and knows some obscure info about her, like that ... she had a brother who was fighting with the Spanish forces in the New World, who sent her potatoes as a present on occasion. :)

I read one of her books years ago, Interior Castle, so I found what he had to say really interesting. He also talks a little about John of the Cross as well. Here's just a bit of the interview ...

KJM: This question comes with the benefit of hindsight because, of course, both were very marginalised and the majority of people at the time would not have come into contact with their spirituality. But mysticism is not something often mentioned in the way people talk about mainstream religion today. I wonder whether mystical experience is still possible, or whether we have pathologised the transcendental to the extent that a Teresa or a John could not express themselves at all in these days and be taken seriously?

RW: That’s quite a complicated question, really. People have certainly tried to pathologise Teresa, in particular, and she undoubtedly had some very strange experiences. At the same time, people do still have these experiences and are sometimes very frightened of talking about them, because they don’t want to be thought insane or disturbed. People look with a mixture of suspicion, respect and envy at those who claim some sort of connection with the transcendent, and don’t quite know what to do with it. There are two problems, I think, in our modern discourse about mysticism. One—I hinted at this, I suppose, in the book—is to identify mysticism with a whole succession of odd experiences; whereas I think that for Teresa, and certainly for John, the really stomach-churning, dramatic and bizarre experiences are just your entry into another level. It’s not that you go on having stomach-churning, bizarre experiences and mystical ecstasy right up to the end. The whole point is to get you to another kind of normality, almost. So the mistake now is often to see mysticism as just about ecstasy. People look at Bernini’s famous statue and think that’s mysticism, whereas Teresa, I think, would have taken a very dim view indeed of that statue, very dim. “That’s precisely not the point: of course I had these extraordinary experiences, and I wished at the time I wasn’t having them, but eventually what it permitted me to do was to wash the dishes mindfully and prayerfully.” She more or less says that ....

The photo at the top is of Paz Vega as Teresa

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Keith Ward on the soul

I've been thinking about death, possible life after death, and what bits of us need to continue after death for us to still be us. Here's a lecture by Anglican priest and philosophy professor Keith Ward on the soul. He mentions Lobsang Rampa, who I read when I was a teen :) ....

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I'm still having trouble with my internet connection and had to hook up the old computer today for a speed test. While there I saw a few past photos I'd taken on the desktop ...

Here's one of a hollyhock ...

And one of the blue jay ...

And here's one of Kermit napping by the window ...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Some books ...

from the library sitting on my table and waiting to be read ...

- Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. From Wikipedia ...

Child 44 is a thriller novel by British writer Tom Rob Smith, and features disgraced MGB Agent Leo Demidov, who investigates a series of gruesome child murders in Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. The novel is based on the crimes of Andrei Chikatilo, also known as the Rostov Ripper, who was convicted of and executed for 52 murders in the Soviet Union. In addition to highlighting the problem of Soviet-era criminality in a state where "there is no crime", the novel also explores the paranoia of the age, the education system, the secret police apparatus, orphanages, homosexuality in the USSR, and mental hospitals. The book is the first part of a trilogy ....

- The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz. Here's a bit from a review in The Guardian ...

The game, once more, is afoot. The world's greatest private consulting detective returns to solve another case .... Holmes is dead. Watson, elderly and alone – "Two marriages, three children, seven grandchildren, a successful career in medicine and the Order of Merit" – sets out to recount one of their early adventures together, on a case so monstrous and shocking he has had to consign his written account to his solicitors' vaults for 100 years. To us, the readers of the future, he bequeaths "one last portrait of Sherlock Holmes". Is the portrait accurate? Is this the Holmes we know and love?

It's 1890. We ascend the 17 steps up to the first floor of 221B Baker Street. All is as we might expect. The usual cast assemble. Mrs Hudson is there with a plate of scones. Wiggins and the Baker Street irregulars make a welcome appearance, as do rat-faced Inspector Lestrade and Mycroft ("He is still alive, by the way. When I last heard, he had been knighted and was the chancellor of a well-known university"). Moriarty ("'I am a mathematician, Dr Watson … I am also what you would doubtless term a criminal'"). Poor Mary, Watson's ailing wife. Outside, fog and hansom cabs. Inside, Holmes, with his Strad and his 7% solution ....

- Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Jesuit Greg Boyle. He discusses his book in this video (part 1) ...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Early Edition

My latest science fiction DVD journey back in time is to Early Edition, a 2000 tv series ...

Set in the city of Chicago, Illinois, it follows the adventures of a man who mysteriously receives each Chicago Sun-Times newspaper [Roger Ebert made a cameo appearance in one of the episodes] the day before it is actually published, and who uses this knowledge to prevent terrible events every day .... the series starred actor Kyle Chandler as Gary Hobson, and featured many real Chicago locations over the course of the series' run.

Light entertainment but I like it so far. The main character was the opposite of all the make characters in the series I watched before this, Top of the Lake ... as a homeless guy to whom he gives change says, "You're a nice man." There's a blind character in the show who I found interesting too, and a mysterious cat as well ...

Here's the beginning of the pilot episode ...

Feast of The Baptism of the Lord

- Jesus of Nazareth

This scene from the above mentioned movie always seems kind of sad or forboding to me ...

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I've been having troubles with my internet connection and email too so sorry if I've missed anything I should have responded to.

- I'm wondering about Pope Francis' commitment to sex abuse accountability, given that the Vatican refuses to extradite Polish archbishop accused of child sex abuse

- Saw a post by Marilyn McCord Adams about praying when you are angry at God. It's written in response to another post about clergy sex abuse and prayer, but I think it works for anyone who finds it hard to pray because of the bad things that have happened to them.

- Speaking of Marxism and the Pope, I saw this post by Anglican priest and philosophy professor Steven Shakespeare today ... Welcome to my Crisis; or, Marx, Labour and Religion. For those interested, here are some other things by him ... Speak to us of prayers ... Why Humans Need Animals ... Sermon from 2009 Annual Service: Durham Cathedral, Saturday 26th September 2009 ... and I've posted about his book, Radical Orthodoxy: A Critical Introduction, and about his book, The Inclusive God: Reclaiming Theology for an Inclusive Church .... and posted these videos by him ...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Top of the Lake

My latest DVD rental - Top of the Lake ... a 2013 television miniseries written by Jane Campion .... Filmed and set in New Zealand, the drama series follows a detective (Elisabeth Moss) investigating the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old girl.

You can read a review of it at the Jesuit Post , and a very different one at The New York Times - Pregnant Girl Vanishes, and Story Lines Fork. The show won some awards, in part, I think, because it was perceived as unflinching in its portrayal of human frailty ... sex abuse, rape, domestic violence, drug-dealing, murder ... sociopathy abounds.

It's because of the show's representation of human nature that I don't want to watch the rest of the series. It's hard enough to make it through each day without the reinforcement of my darkest belief - that people are intrinsically broken beyond repair. No surprise, then, that I'd rather watch a series about an emotionless android ...

Thursday, January 09, 2014


Read about why they do this at Not Exactly Rocket Science

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

John Dear SJ is leaving the Jesuits

Update: a more recent post on this here

I was very sad to see that peace activist Fr. John Dear has been dismissed from the Jesuit order. He writes about it here - Leaving the Jesuits after 32 years. There's a follow-up story at NCR: John Dear, Jesuit known for peace witness, dismissed from order. Another NCR post on this is Jesuits made a mistake in letting John Dear go. And there's this from US Catholic: Jesuits dismiss peace activist John Dear from Society. Here's a bit from the US Catholic post ...

[...] If Dear's account is accurate--and I have no reason to doubt him--it reflects a general contraction in U.S. religious life that focuses more on a congregation's institutional ministries than on the individual ministries of members. Numbers are too few, and many communities are counting on the fact that their institutional ministries will funnel new members into their ranks. That was my experience in my own brief time in religious life back in the mid-1990s. But it is too bad that at least a "tithe" of a community's members can't be free to be the prophets the church so desperately needs. Dear's no-compromise attitude to miltary service is a necessary voice in the wildnerness in our culture of military glorification, especially in a country that dumps hundreds of billions each year into the military. Sure, Dear is irritating and alienating sometimes, especially to Catholics who make their livings in the military--and so was Isaiah and Jeremiah and John the Baptist--and for that matter, Jesus himself ...

It's strange that Fr. Dear could be a Jesuit for over thirty years and that few of his fellow Jesuits have made any comment on his leaving the order .... I've seen nothing from either James Martin SJ or Thomas Reese SJ, who usually tackle Jesuit issues in the news. America Magazine does have a news bite on this from the Catholic News Service but it contains no commentary or new information. But two Jesuits, George Murphy SJ and Edward Glynn SJ, *did* comment on the situation in the above mentioned NCR article ...

[...] Jesuit Fr. George Murphy, who as the rector of the order's community in Berkeley, Calif., from 1985 to 1991 oversaw Dear while he attended the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, said he thought Dear was "a fine man."

"I think he was a little impulsive and I suspect he's still got a bit of that of him -- but he's just got a keen sense of justice and a desire for peace in the world," said Murphy, who recalled attending a protest with Dear in San Francisco in 1989 following the killing of several Jesuits by U.S.-trained soldiers at the order's Central American University in El Salvador.

"I know he's had trouble with superiors at different points in his life," said Murphy, the director of spiritual formation at Jesuit-run Santa Clara University. "And I suspect he always will. He's the kind of guy that I would like to give leeway to."

Jesuit Fr. Edward Glynn, who oversaw Dear as provincial of the Maryland province from 1990 to 1996, said while he was not privy to the conversations leading to the priest's dismissal by his successor as provincial, he had the "highest respect" for Dear.

Glynn recalled a visit from Dear when Dear was considering joining a protest at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C., in 1993.

Called a Plowshares action, one of a series against nuclear weapons taken by Catholic activists in the last three decades in reference to the biblical exhortation found to turn swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, the action saw Dear and three others symbolically hammer on a U.S. fighter jet before being arrested.

"He came to see me, and I went through the whole thing with him -- he has to live with the consequences, is he willing to spend time in jail, and what could happen to you in jail -- and he was willing, so I gave him permission to do it," Glynn said.

"Of course, I was thinking in the back of my head that after we have our first nuclear war, we're going to say, 'Where were we when John Dear and all these people were objecting to nuclear weapons?' " he said. "But John did what Jesuits should do -- he got permission, approval from me -- and then I visited him in jail." ...

I like Fr. Dear - I've mentioned articles by him on the blog before (John Dear SJ on being a vegetarian) and I've read a couple of his books: Living Peace: A Spirituality of Contemplation and Action and The Questions of Jesus: Challenging Ourselves to Discover Life's Great Answers. I have to wonder if he's getting a fair shake.

Here's one of his talks - - he tells some good jokes ;) ....

And here's a bit from his book, The Questions of Jesus, on "Who touched my clothes?" (Luke 8:45 / Mark 5:30). It's a little long, but I think it's worth the read ...

* * * * * *

Who Touched Me? (p. 66)

There was a woman who had been hemorrhaging for a dozen years. Doctors had been no help; in fact, they had made her condition worse. She had spent all her money on remedies, to no avail. As a result, the woman was declared unclean by society. When Jesus passed by on some important business with a wealthy synagogue official, and the crowd presses in on him, the woman comes up behind him and touches the tassel hanging from his cloak. "If I just touch him," she thinks, "I will be cured."

Instantly, the woman knows she has been cured. But she does not expect what happens next. Jesus stops in his tracks, turns around, and asks, "Who touched me? Who has touched my clothes?"

"You see how the crowd is pressing upon you," his disciples point out, "yet you ask 'Who touched me?' Everyone's touching you!" But Jesus feels the power go out from him. "Who touched me?" he asks, looking around.

The woman is caught. She hoped to be healed anonymously, without interrupting Jesus, without causing a scene, without anyone finding out. She knows she is an "unclean woman", ostracized by righteous holy men. If Jesus knows she has touched him, he might yell at her, like every other man, for making him unclean too.

But it's too late. The woman has broken the law and must face the consequences. So she approaches Jesus "in fear and trembling, falls down before him, and tells the whole truth."

What happens next is as astonishing as the miraculous cure. Jesus looks at the woman and, rather than scolding her, he affirms her, loves her, and gives her back her dignity. "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."

Jesus feels the power go out of him, but he does not want to be a magician. Rather, he desires a personal relationship with each one of us, with every human being who ever lived. He is not some magic impersonal god, a healing machine. He is a human being who wants to look us in the eye, love us, and be loved by us. He wants to know us as his daughters and sons. He wants to save each one of us individually, with his own personal touch, so that we might live with him intimately in peace forever.

Jesus practiced what Dorothy Day called gospel personalism. In light of his radical personalism, his question makes sense. In asking "Who touched me?" he wants to know who is close to him, who wants him, who is being healed by him. Over time, Jesus turns away from the crowds and moves closer toward each one of us individually, calling each of us by name, announcing that we are his friends. He is learning the hard lesson that crowds can quickly turn into mobs, and mobs can cause riots. Here, in this moment, Jesus sees that the crowd will eventually turn on him and shout out "Crucify him, crucify him!" So, aware of his own impending death, he looks for the touch of faith, hope, and love from us. He looks for our individual response, and he intends to heal and save us, one person at a time.

Jesus' question leads us to ask some of our own: Have I ever touched Jesus? Do I want to touch him with the same determination as the woman with the hemorrhage? Dare I touch Jesus, risk having him find out, and turn toward me in my brokenness and weakness? Do I want Jesus to know that I touched him? Am I willing to enter that intimate relationship with him that he desires with me?

At some point, each one of us has touched Jesus. Mother Teresa says we touch Jesus in the poor and the homeless. Martin Luther King Jr. says we touch Jesus in the struggle for justice and racial equality. Philip Berrigan says we touch Jesus in the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. Don Helder Camara says we touch Jesus in every act of compassion. Mahatma Gandhi says we touch Jesus in the life of nonviolence. Thomas Merton says we touch Jesus in our contemplative prayer and solitude. Dorothy Day says we touch Jesus when we welcome and house the homeless. Oscar Romero says we touch Jesus when we liberate the oppressed. Henri Nouwen says we touch Jesus in one another whenever we recognize each other as a beloved daughter or son of God.

When we touch Jesus, he turns around and asks us to identify ourselves, tell him our stories, and get to know him. He heals us - but he wants more. He needs our companionship, our presence, our love. He wants to be our brother, our companion, our friend.

The gospel invites us to tell him, as did the heroic woman, when we touch him, how he is healing us, and who we are. If we dare, we will not be disappointed.

* * * * * * *

Monday, January 06, 2014

Oh no

- the not Mr. Scruffy, napping in warmer weather

It's been very cold here and last night the cat I've been thinking of as my neighbor's cat, Mr. Scruffy, spent a lot of time meowing outside. Today I visited my neighbor to ask if he was ok and it turns out there *is* no Mr. Scruffy - her two black cars are both female, and she said the male cat has no owner. I so don't want a cat! I guess that sounds mean, but it's hard to take care of a pet when you can't see them very well and can't drive them to the vet. When I adopted my other cats, my mom still lived here and helped me do the things I couldn't see well enough to do alone. And then there's the cost - the first thing my sister said when I told her about him was, "You can't afford a pet!" Oh well, I put a little dry food outside for him ... maybe that will be enough :(

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Sleepy Hollow & the Book of Revelation

I've been watching episodes online of the tv series Sleepy Hollow ...

a "modern-day retelling" of the 1820 short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving .... In 1781, Ichabod Crane, a soldier in the Colonial Army, on a mission for General George Washington, and caught up in a battle, beheads the Hessian soldier, the Headless Horseman, as the Horseman kills him. Now, in modern day Sleepy Hollow, New York, Ichabod rises from his grave, after the Headless Horseman (revealed to be Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) is summoned back from his watery grave by an unknown party.

The show is mostly light entertainment, religious horror in genre, but one thing that's interesting is that the main characters use the Book of Revelation to help them figure out how to stop an imminent apocalypse. When I was a teen I glanced at Revelation and what I saw was too creepy for me to want to read any further, but watching Sleepy Hollow has made me interested again.

- a detail from the Ghent Altarpiece

There are now so many good resources for those who want to learn more! Duke NT scholar Mark Goodacre has a helpful page at his NT Gateway. Johannine literature scholar Felix Just SJ has a great page: The Book of Revelation, Apocalyptic Literature, and Millennial Movements. And The Text This Week has a lot of great links. Here's a basic intro from St John's College, Nottingham ....

Saturday, January 04, 2014


- Dream of Three Wise Men

From this weekend's pray-as-you-go podcast ... Christe Lux Mundi, bt the Taizé Community ....

Last night I dreamt about the Pope

:) This isn't so surprising, I guess - I often dream of people I've been thinking about. But anyway, my dream ...

I worked in a large building filled with lots of people, and Francis also worked there and was our boss, though I'd never met him. One night, I went outside on my break and I took along a comic book that belonged to the pope to read. It was sealed in a plastic sleeve - must have been a collector's item - and as I was about to look at it, he came by with some other people and went into the building. Eek - he noticed I had his comic book! I went inside and in a large common room, Francis was going around to everyone, giving them a page of paper. He gave me one too and then moved on. I scrutinized the page - I was worried he had given me a pink slip - but it was instead a combination of a check and an invitation to an upcoming party. He came back into my area and I gathered my courage to approach him and give him back his book. I said, "Sorry that I borrowed it without asking first. I took good care of it - I used to collect comics myself when I was a kid." He just nodded, but then a bunch of reporters came up to him and asked him why he was throwing a party. He reached down (he was quite tall) and gently rested his hand on my head and smiled at me, saying, to my surprise, "It was her idea."

Then I woke up. Strange! :)

Friday, January 03, 2014


- An article in The New Yorker about the movie, Her, chatbots, and the Turing test ... The Samantha Test. I have an old related post - The Turing test and the Chinese Room

- From astronomer and Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno ... Looking for the Star, or Coming to Adore?

- The latest in the continuing argument between the German Bishops, who want to allow divorced/remarried Catholics to take communion, and various others who don't ... Meisner ‘clarifies’ Francis’s views on divorced and remarried ... Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne has insisted that the Pope’s position on communion for remarried divorcees is firmly against allowing it, despite the fact that German-speaking bishops are at odds on the question and those advocating reform have claimed the support of Pope Francis ...

I had mentioned earlier the disagreement between Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith, Gerhard Müller, and Archbishop of Munich, Reinhard Marx, on this subject .. the latest from Müller: Müller dismisses diocese of Freiburg’s proposal on remarried Catholics. The latest from Marx: “Müller cannot stop discussions” relating to remarried divorcees.

It's curious to watch this argument over communion for divorced and remarried people. The guys who are against it - Müller, et al - must know they've lost the battle for Catholic hearts and minds on the issue of divorce. I'd guess now the power to punish is all they have left.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

It's science fiction day

Or so I've been told :) ... link.

Sadly, the latest sci fi movie I watched, The Wolverine, was disappointing. I do like Hugh Jackman, and Hiroyuki Sanada (Dogen) was in it too, but the storyline was pretty weak. One interesting bit though was when Logan (Jackman) and his friend seek to hide out in a love hotel in Tokyo. Here the proprietor offers them a choice of themed rooms: Dungeon, Nurse's Office, or Mission to Mars ;) ...

I haven't been able to get into the last couple of books I've tried either ... Forty Signs of Rain and The Last Werewolf. So I've caved and am reading another Star Trek novel by David Mack.

Strange too because I'm also watching Star Trek reruns from the library. Tonight's episode - Time's Arrow - has a funny/sad scene: it has been discovered that Data the android will die on a trip he makes back into the past. The crew of the ship is disturbed by this news, but Data is relieved to learn he is, like his friends, mortal after all ...

Science fiction :)