Daily Archives: October 7, 2010

“I bless this teddy bear in the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost.”

When I was a little kid, my cousin, who was an actual Catholic Arch Bishop (Archbishop of Anchorage) came over to the house one day, and I saw family elders approach him, one by one, genuflect and kiss his ring. Then one or two of my relatives brought him sacred objects for him to bless. One of the objects was the wooden cross that hung on our wall, similar to others hanging on Catholic walls in other Catholic homes, near the main entrance way to the house. It was hollow and included several items that would be used for the performance of either extreme unction (the “last rights”) or, if necessary, an exorcism. Two candles, some holy water, the instruction manuals for last rights and exorcism, etc.

Other sacred objects were brought to him as well (rosaries, a bottle of magic oil, etc.) and he blessed them all.
Continue reading “I bless this teddy bear in the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost.”

The meme of honourable death

The Anglo Boer War (in what is now South Africa from October 11th, 1899 to May 31st, 1902) was a turning point in European style military history. In previous centuries, infantry would operate in large blocks that would move forward, turn and open or close ranks, and winning an infantry engagement would involve getting your columns around the side or back of the enemy’s columns, or simply overrunning them head on. This worked in part because although everybody had a firearm of some kind, the firearms of the 18th century and in some areas well into the 19th century held one bullet, took time to reload, and were inaccurate, and since they tended to be inaccurate, the soldiers were generally not trained to shoot as well as they might. So, a rifle was really a spear (with a bayonet attached, of course) that also made a lot of noise and fired a few relatively useless bullets. Previously, a highly mobile well trained cavalry was effective under the right conditions because it consisted of swordsmen up on big and/or fast horses who could move quickly across the landscape and would wade into the enemy’s infantry slicing up the foot soldiers. The cavalry could not be stopped easily by the infantry because the infantry would shoot a relatively small number of relatively bogus bullets at the cavalry, knock a few guys off a few horses, then get ripped to shreds with the swords. The fact that the cavalry often consisted of members of the elite classes and the infantry consisted mainly of working class men made it all the more … Victorian.

~ A repost because history is still history ~
Continue reading The meme of honourable death

And the Nobel Prize for Literature goes to ….

… Mario Vargas Llosa.

From Wikipedia, we learn that his name is prounouced: “[Ë?maɾjo Ë?βarÉ£az Ë?Ê?osa]” Thank you very much Wikipedia, that was so xweÊ?ul.

Anyway, Vargas Llosa wrote La ciudad y los perros, La casa verde, 1965/1968), and the Conversación en la catedral.

Many of Vargas Llosa’s works are influenced by the writer’s perception of Peruvian society and his own experiences as a native Peruvian. Increasingly, however, he has expanded his range, and tackled themes that arise from other parts of the world. Another change over the course of his career has been a shift from a style and approach associated with literary modernism, to a sometimes playful postmodernism.*

Atlantic Storm Otto

It has been relatively quiet in the Atlantic for several days (for a hurricane season … there’s been plenty of storm and rain in the usual areas). Otto is the current, newly named storm, and, in the words of the folks at the Hurricane Prediction Center, Otto is “struggling.”

It is possible that Otto will reach hurricane strength over the next few days, but it will do so as it shoots northeast roughly towards France. That is all.