Monday, August 31, 2009

Thanks - March 2, 2000 - August 31, 2005

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the bitter ending of the great system I worked on, and so I again express my thanks to those who worked with me...

If you want more details, see here and here...

Incidentally, I ought to mention that people as far away as Sirius have been getting our cue-tones and CUSTOS packets, not to mention all sorts of spots, schedules and logs, since all our stuff has now gotten out over some nine light years of the galaxy. What a great thing. But then it's in the psalms: "their message goes out to all the earth".

And so does mine - thanks again...

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Real Subsidiarity

Some bloggers are asking about the "real" subsidiarity. Fortunately, I used Subsidiarity to design a system - which I built and supported and cared for and studied - a system comprised of both machinery and human workers, which ran for over five years and performed an important business function for a major company - and then wrote books about it. (I am sorry I have not yet found a publisher, but perhaps my mention of this issue will lead to that.) I have posted the introduction here, and I also have a fictional story which gives a more human insight into the project.

Subsidiarity is too important an issue to permit any degeneration into whining by some admirers of the branch of philosophy called "Catholic Social Teaching" - but the first thing necessary is to distinguish, once and for all, that the issue called "distributism" is not related to "Subsidiarity".

Subsidiarity is an organizational method - a meta-system, which applies to all forms of human and even mechanical (and mixed) organizations. Distributism is a perfection or desideratum regarding a matter of economics called "widespread ownership of the means of production". However, Subsidiarity has nothing to say about property. Subsidiarity applies to such diverse economic variants as communism, capitalism and even the property-less system of the angelic hierarchy - and, yes, to distributism.

Part of the problem arises because Subsidiarity (as presented in the social encyclicals) is very abstract - it has to be, since it is most general concept about the organization of a system - and so it feels to many like other complex abstractions - like (let us say) algebra. However, one cannot simply invoke "algebra" and expect "algebra" to solve a given word problem. The term "algebra" consists of detailed structures and rules and methods, and we apply them to each specific case in order to arrive at a solution.

The same is true with Subsidiarity - which is why the encyclicals can only take us so far. Not that I mean the encyclicals are "wrong"! The CRC "Handbook of Mathematics" gives the basic facts, and not the exemplars which assist a student. Moreover, the generalizations are so brilliant and so broadly stated that they can be a distraction when one begins to apply them to a complex case for the first time. One can learn more by applying them to simpler cases, and seeing how their power applies, how they are used, then work up to the larger, more complex cases.

I suggest that the interested reader attempt to design a system - a club, a social group, a portion of a business - relying on the concept of Subsidiarity, and then implement it in the real world. After watching it run for five years, night and day, and handling all its special cases, its successes and especially its failures, I think one will have a much greater insight into the issue.

Otherwise, it is an abstraction that sounds nice - and nothing more.

But that disdainful view is no longer possible - for I have myself done this. Subsidiarity works, is practical, is efficient, is effective. Subsidiarity applies to all systems, and they succeed to the extent Subsidiarity is applied - and they fail to the extent Subsidiarity is ignored.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cover Art for The Horrors in the Attic

I've managed to go over the draft, and cleaned up some of the typos and little glitches, and yes, the Art Department finally delivered something. It's fairly good, though I feel certain that most of it will be a mystery...

but then you don't want to learn the whole story just from the cover, do you?

Of course not!

Chesterton wrote a wonderful poem about that sad technique - perhaps you would like to enjoy that while you ponder what all those things mean.

"Commercial Candour"
by G. K. Chesterton

On the outside of a sensational novel is printed the statement:
The back of the cover will tell you the plot.

Our fathers to creed and tradition were tied,
They opened a book to see what was inside,
And of various methods they deemed not the worst
Was to find the first chapter and look at it first.
And so from the first to the second they passed,
Till in servile routine they arrived at the last.
But a literate age, unbenighted by creed,
Can find on two boards all it wishes to read;
For the front of the cover shows somebody shot
And the back of the cover will tell you the plot.

Between, that the book may be handily padded,
Some pages of mere printed matter are added,
Expanding the theme, which in case of great need
The curious reader might very well read
With the zest that is lent to a game worth the winning,
By knowing the end when you start the beginning;
While our barbarous sires, who would read every word
With a morbid desire to find out what occurred,
Went drearily drudging through Dickens and Scott.
But the back of the cover will tell you the plot.

The wild village folk in earth's earliest prime
Could often sit still for an hour at a time
And hear a blind beggar, nor did the tale pall
Because Hector must fight before Hector could fall:
Nor was Scheherazade required, at the worst,
To tell her tales backwards and finish them first;
And the minstrels who sang about battle and banners
Found the rude camp-fire crowd had some notion of manners.
Till Forster (who pelted the people like crooks,
The Irish with buckshot, the English with books),
Established the great educational scheme
Of compulsory schooling, that glorious theme.
Some learnt how to read, and the others forgot,
And the back of the cover will tell you the plot.

O Genius of Business! O marvellous brain,
Come in place of the priests and the warriors to reign!
O Will to Get On that makes everything go -
O Hustle! O Pep! O Publicity! O!
Shall I spend three-and-sixpence to purchase the book,
Which we all can pick up on the bookstall and look?
Well, it may appear strange, but I think I shall not,
For the back of the cover will tell you the plot.

[GKC CW10:429-30]

Saturday, August 15, 2009

For the Assumption: the Gutenberg Festival 2007 Raffle

Happy Solemnity of the Assumption!

For your reading delight today, I present the very famous list from the 2007 Gutenberg Festival. Recall that, as Chesterton said, "The greatest of poems is an inventory." [Orthodoxy CW1:267] For more details about the raffle, please consult my saga, The Three Relics.
--Dr. Thursday

Special thanks to Andrew Poole and Chris Hagen and the other workers at Loome Theological Booksellers for their help. Note: some of these books may actually be available from Loome; check their catalog for details. Do NOT expect this listing to be accurate!

* * * * * * *

Bastian Bux and Brian Leary, co-chairmen of
The Fifth Annual Gutenberg Festival
Thursday July 12 - Saturday July 14, 2007
A Raffle
for the Benefit of
The Quayment Hospital

Single ticket price is $20.00.

Drawing to be held Saturday evening at 7:30

This leaflet courtesy The Quayment Morning News.

Quayment is America's Book Town. Your support of the Festival and the Raffle helps us continue this grand tradition! Purchase your raffle tickets at any Quayment bookstore, at the Town Hall, or any Quayment bank. Ticket sales close Saturday at 5 PM!

*** The Big Prizes ***

(1) Donated by Alexandria's (specializing in very old books)

Please note: In June 2007 Alexandria sold her stock to Bastian's, just before it was struck by arson. Recovery operations are underway. Mr. Bastian Bux has the delight to present as the chief prize, a SIGNED copy of a very early edition of

CARROLL, LEWIS. [DODGSON, CHARLES LUTWIDGE] Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. London: Macmillan and Co., 1867. 8vo. 42 wood-engraved illustrations after John Tenniel. Skillfully rebound with original gilt cloth covers and spine mounted. From the fourth printing (with "eight thousand" on title-page), author's presentation copy. Inscribed copies of Alice are rare and this copy is particularly early - inscribed in black ink before Dodgson received his supply of purple ink in October 1870.

NOTE: AS-IS. Strong odor of smoke. You may request to inspect this volume at Bastian's.

Estimated retail value: $3,900

(2) Donated by Leary's (the classic American used bookstore)

Long famous for its bookstore in Philadelphia, Leary's is America's choice for unusual and rare early American volumes.

Brian Leary, manager, presents:

YOUNG, JOHN RUSSELL (Editor). Memorial History of the City of Philadelphia From Its First Settlement to the Year 1895. Volumes I & II. New York: New York History Company, 1895. Complete in two volumes. Volume I: Narrative and Critical History, 1681-1895, by Howard M. Jenkins. Volume II: Special and Biographical, by George O. Seilhamer. 4to, [xxxii + 568pp] + [(9) + 484pp]. Each volume includes a tissue-guarded frontispiece as well as numerous plates, maps, portraits, figures, and facsimiles of original documents. Newly rebound in black buckram with gilt-stamped titles to spines. Text is crisp and unmarked.

Estimated retail value: $300

(3) Donated by The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth gives access to the twin worlds of science and engineering and of arts and literature. Both classical and modern books of all sorts are to be found here.

The Soffia brothers present:

Unknown as we go to press.

(4) Donated by Bastian's, formerly known as Coriander's (specializing in fiction, fantasy, mystery)

Bastian's is the anchor store of the south side, at the corner of Third and Penn, just south of the town square.

Bastian Bux presents:

CARROLL, LEWIS. Sylvie and Bruno. With Forty-Six Illustrations by Harry Furniss. London: Macmillan and Co., 1889. 8vo (7"x5"), xxiii + 400pp. Late 19th century red morocco binding, gilt tooled, raised bands, all edges gilt (a magnificent binding in near mint condition). Original cloth spine and covers pasted-down at rear on free endpapers.

Estimated retail value: $600

(5) Donated by Bremerton's Books

Bremerton's is the perfect Englishman's bookstore. Tea is served every afternoon at four.

CARPENTER, JOHN; WHITINGTON, RICHARD; RILEY, HENRY THOMAS (Translator). Liber Albus: The White Book of the City of London. [SIGNED BINDING]. London: Richard Griffin and Company, 1861. First edition. Compiled A.D. 1419 by John Carpenter, Common Clerk, and Richard Whitington, Mayor. Translated from the Original Latin and Anglo-Norman by Henry Thomas Riley. Thick oblong 8vo, xii + 660pp. Bound by Leighton and Hodge in full morocco leather with five raised bands, gilt stamped title to spine, and decorative blind tooled borders to boards. Page edges stained red. Marbled endpapers. Title page printed in red & black. A beautiful copy, in excellent condition. Binding is firm and square; text is immaculate.

Estimated retail value: $250

(6) Donated by Mifflin's, also known as The Haunted Bookshop

The "Parnassus" of Roger and Helen Mifflin, once a travelling book-wagon, and formerly of Brooklyn, now makes its home in Quayment. Smokers are welcome here! Let Roger prescribe your next book. He has what you need.

The Mifflins present:

The Lorsch Gospels. New York: George Braziller, [1967]. 678/1000. A facsimile of a magnificent manuscript from the Carolingian era. After centuries of separation, the four parts which comprise the Lorsch Gospels were united in Coronation Hall of the Holy Roman Empire in Aachen, Germany, on the occasion of the 1965 exhibition of the Council of Europe "Charlemagne: His Achievements and Influence". The cooperation of the respective owners made it possible to photograph the entire manuscript and the ivory covers during the exhibition, so that uniform conditions, necessary for fine reproduction, were obtained. Thus a foundation was laid for the reconstruction of the manuscript in this facsimile edition, which must now serve in place of a unified whole. Folio (36 x 27cm). Bound in quarter vellum over red cloth. Very Good condition. There is also a small insert which serves as an introduction. 4to, 23pp. Bound in grey wrappers. Near Fine condition.

Estimated retail value: $250

(7) Donated by Alarums and Excursions, specializing in scripts of plays and movies and all English literature.

Alarums and Excursions presents:

WILLIAMS, FREDERICK S. Our Iron Roads: Their History, Construction, and Social Influences. London: Ingram, Cooke, and Co., 1852. Examines the impact of the locomotive on Great Britain and other countries around the world. 8vo (8"x5"), xii + 390pp. + 2 plates and numerous illustrations.

Estimated retail value: $200

(8) Donated by The Gamut - music, scores, and a variety of media

The Gamut has a diverse selection of media, ranging from rare scores and practice manuals to CDs, DVDs, and more antiquated forms of recording. Use our listening booths to check out your selections!

The Gamut presents:

PALESTRINA; MOZART; ET AL. Ten Magnificats, for 4 and 5 Voices, by various Composers, suited to the different Seasons of the Ecclesiastical Year. Separate Vocal Parts. London: Burns and Lambert, Music and Piano Repository, c. 1860. Musical notation for tenor with leaves of varying length, with 12 extra pages of vocal music by Mendelssohn bound in. 4to, engraved title-page + 26pp. + 12pp. Bound in 19th century half calf over pebbled cloth.

Estimated retail value: $200

(9) Donated by Readers Anonymous - a motley collection for the anonymous reader!

BARNUM, P.T. The Life of P.T. Barnum. Written by Himself. New York: Redfield, 1855. First edition. First editon of the author's first book. 12mo, viii + pp. 9-404 + (4) pp. publisher's advertisements. Frontispiece portrait of the author and numerous other black & white engravings throughout the text. Newly rebound in blue cloth with marbled paper-covered boards and gilt title to spine. In very good plus condition, with small library stamp to copyright page.

Estimated retail value: $100

(10) Donated by World Books - specializing in foreign and international texts

Tired of the same old English? Perhaps you'd like to read Homer or Virgil or Dante or Don Quixote in the original... you can find them here, and many other books from around the world!

World Books presents:

An Atlas of Ten Select Maps of Ancient Geography, both Sacred and Profane; with a Chronological Chart of Universal History and Biography. Being Intended as an Accompaniment to Mayo's Ancient Geography and History. Calculated for the Use of Seminaries, &c. Philadelphia: John P. Watson, 1814. 4to (27 x 32cm). Bound in contemporary marbled boards with new cloth on spine for reinforcement. Previous owner's inscription on preliminary, "Manton Eastburn", former Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts (1843-1872). Small library stamp on title-page. Boards rubbed. This is a selection of ten hand-colored maps of the ancient world. The maps are: Terra Veteribus Nota, Romanum Imperium, Oriens Tabula, Graecia Antiqua, Italia Antiqua, Places Recorded in the Five Books of Moses &c. (3 maps in 1), The Land of Moriah or Jerusalem and the Adjacent Country, The State of Nations at the Christian Aera, and a Chronological Chart of Universal History and Biography (also hand-colored). All the maps are single-page except for the Romanum Imperium and the Chronological Chart, which are double-page.

Estimated retail value: $500

(11) Donated by The Lab Shelf

The Lab Shelf is your source for science, technology, engineering, mathematics and technical reference works. We have a large stock of journals from all branches of science.

The Lab Shelf presents:

DARWIN, CHARLES (1809-1882). The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, including an Autobiographical Chapter. Edited by his son, Francis Darwin. London: John Murray, 1887. First Edition. 8vo, 3 volumes. Illustrated. Bound in publisher's green cloth, wrinkling to spine of volume three, hinges tender on volume three, rear hinge cracked on volume one. Good condition.

Estimated retail value: $400

(12) Donated by Driftwood

Located next to Harry's Pier, Quayment's famous seafood restaurant and pub, Driftwood has a large collection of books about the sea and sailing. If you want books that will give you the sea spray far inland, Americana, local works, colonial or antique guides, Driftwood is the place you'll find it. Stop in and see what the tide washed up this week! We also carry a full line of sailing charts.

Driftwood presents:

JONES, GEORGE. Observations on the Zodiacal Light, from April 2, 1853, to April 22, 1855, Made Chiefly on Board The United States Steam-Frigate Mississippi, During her Late Cruise in Eastern Seas, and her Voyage Homeward: with Conclusions from the Data Thus Obtained. [United States Japan Expedition, Volume 3]. Washington: A.O.P. Nicholson, 1856. First edition. Large 4to, xliv + 704pp. Illustrated with 352 woodcut astronomical charts. Bound in light brown half-leather over marbled boards. In very good condition. Binding is firm and straight; contents are crisp, clean, and bright. Withdrawn from a college library, with minimal markings. Discoloration to front endpapers. Mild wear to joints and corners. A very nice copy overall.

Estimated retail value: $200

(13) Donated by Weaver's Books

The only major bookstore on the north side of our bay, housed in the former "Psephic Church of God" high on the north hill, Weaver's has some of the most unusual and rare books even in a town bursting with rare and unusual books. Ride the free Quayment shuttle and see - it's well worth the visit - don't miss the splendid view! Past Gutenberg Festival chairman Phil Weaver is the present owner, fourth in the line of the Weaver family owners of the bookstore. His daughter Mary is the store manager.

Phil Weaver presents:

The Septuagint Old Testament in Greek and Latin: E palaia diatheke kata tous ebdomekonta. Vetus Testamentum græcum juxta septuaginta interpretes, ex auctoritate Sixti Quinti Pontificis Maximi editum juxta exemplar originale vaticanum... Cum latina translatione, animadversionibus, et complementis ex aliis manuscriptis cura et studio J.N. Jager... Editio DD. De Quelen, Archiepiscopo Parisiensi dicata. [Complete in 2 volumes]. Parisiis: Editore Ambrosio Firmin Didot, 1855. Two 4to volumes. Bound in quarter leather with marbled boards. Marbled endpapers. Four raised bands and gilding to spines. Corners bumped, light rubbing to boards. Library stamps to half-title pages. Text in excellent condition.

Estimated retail value: $250

* * * * * * *

As we go to press, there are at least twenty lesser prizes, including a five-day double-room gift certificate for next year's Festival from the Quayment Hotel, several $100 gift certificates useful at any Quayment bookstore, and gift certificates for Ray's Family Restaurant, Harry's Pier, and Shelly's.

Be sure to check Saturday's edition of the Quayment Morning News for the final list of prizes!

Please note: Ticket sales will close Saturday at 5PM - so buy your tickets early!

The drawing will be held at the bandstand in the town square on Saturday at 7:30 PM.

* * * * * * *

Note from Dr. Thursday: the editions of the list which were published after Wednesday contained this additional information on the offerings from "The Phantom Tollbooth":

CARBONELLI, GIOVANNI. Sulle fonti storiche della chimica e dell'alchimia in Italia. Tratte dallo spoglio dei manoscritti delle biblioteche con speciale reguardo ai Codici 74 di Pavio e 1166 Laurenziano. Opera corredata di 242 reproduzioni fotografiche e due tavole fuori testo. Rome: Istituto Nazionale Medico Farmacologico, 1925. First edition. A comprehensive and well-illustrated study of the alchemical manuscripts stored in the Italian libraries. Folio, xxii + 212pp. + index. The text is accompanied by 242 illustrations, mostly facsimiles of various manuscripts. Bound in original quarter parchment with boards; titles printed in red & black. In very good condition. Binding and hinges are intact and firm. Foxing to top edge of frontispiece and title-page, otherwise very clean, unmarked, contents. No signs of prior ownership. Light scuffing and soiling to boards, otherwise a lovely copy. Very scarce.

Estimated retail value: $400

WESTWOOD, JOHN OBADIAH (1805-1893). Palæographia Sacra Pictoria: Being a Series of Illustrations of the Ancient Versions of the Bible, Copied from Illuminated Manuscripts, Executed between the Fourth and Sixteenth Centuries. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1845. Includes reproductions from Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, Coptic, and Western European manuscripts. Small folio (33 x 27.5cm), xvii + (3) + 84pp + 50 colored plates. Bound in half red morocco with marbled boards. Five raised bands, with gilt title to spine. Upper hinge cracked, though binding is holding well. Boards rubbed, particularly at bottom edges. Overall good condition.

Estimated retail value: $700

Monday, August 10, 2009

English Imperatives

In my quest for various bits of lore, I had obtained a copy of the first "Boy Scout Handbook" called Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell (1908). It seems to contain a far larger and more extensive array of skills than the modern derivatives, but I do not mean that as a criticism. Indeed, many points are similar, and even in our high-tech day there are uses for knowing how to survive in the wilds, tie knots, or render first aid - but far more important is the lesson of chivalry - the idea of living on'es life as a gentleman who is always prepared. It is a very interesting book, and whether one is a scout or not, it can be of benefit and also of delight.

One of the splendid details is the little note on "Our King" (recall that scouting was invented in England!) Here is just a portion:
The word Empire comes from an old Roman word "Imperium" which means "well-ordered-rule". And the title Emperor or ruler of the Empire comes from the Roman word "Imperator". ... Imperator comes from two Roman words, "Im" and "Parere" which together mean "To prepare for" - that is BE PREPARED. An Emperor is one who has to be prepared to face any difficulty or danger that may threaten the country. Scouts have in the same way to BE PREPARED to help their country in any difficulty or danger ...
[RB-P Scouting For Boys 334]

I did check this etymology, and it is correct: the Latin word impero (I command) comes from in + paro (I prepare, make ready, provide, furnish, equip).... Of course I then wondered about what Chesterton would have to say. No, not about Scouting, or about Baden-Powell (perhaps another time we might investigate that) - but about this word. Certainly he had several comments to make about "Empire" - but that I also defer. (You might see the Kipling chapter in Heretics for a starting point.)

Rather, I will just give one small excerpt of GKC where he mentions "the imperative" in the grammatical sense - a very humorous excerpt which curiously touches on the larger matters of one's country:
I wish to ask for advice. I ask for it in an illustrated paper which does not generally print correspondence because, like most people asking advice, I ask for it in the hope of not getting it. But I wish somebody would tell me, through any medium, what I ought to do with a certain class of statements which have bothered me since my boyhood. I refer to the sort of statement that can only mean one of two things - a truth which is a truism and a paradox which is a lie. I adore a truism. I can bring myself to endure a paradox. My difficulty begins when all the intermediary steps are removed, and I cannot tell whether the man means too much or too little.

The best rough representation of the thing I speak of may be found in many slang phrases. Thus, suppose some friend of mine (say, the Vicar) says to me on some stormy and dangerous occasion (say, the Church Congress), "Keep your hair on." This use of the imperative may be considered illogical at either extreme of interpretation. If it be held to mean, "Do not, at this moment, forcibly remove the whole of your hair from your head," the advice is superfluous. No such proceeding has formed any part of my plans. If, on the other hand, it be held to mean that I have entered into a positive agreement between Paul Pentecost Potter (hereinafter called the Vicar), of the one part, and Gilbert Keith Chesterton (hereinafter called the Hair-Restorer), of the other part, that no hair of the said Gilbert Keith Chesterton shall fall out till he is ninety-two - then the advice is again superfluous, for it would be practically impossible to enforce the fulfilment of the contract. And it is difficult to see what "Keep your hair on" (considered as an exact or legal phrase) could mean, except one of these two extremes. As a piece of popular poetry, of course, I admire and applaud the sentiment. But the people who use the phrases I deplore know nothing about popular poetry. I will take two examples on two opposite sides - that is, so far as there are still any opposite sides. I want to know what people mean when they say "My country, right or wrong." It was held, I believe, to be a bold sentiment. It seems to me a curiously timid sentiment, for the man who uttered it had not the courage to finish the sentence. If he had finished the sentence, it must have ended in blank platitude or paralysing lunacy. It must mean either "If my country is being ruined, I will try to save her," which is as plain and good as grass - and about as much of a bold avowal in ethics as grass is a new specimen in botany; or, if it does not mean that, it must mean, "If my country is trying to ruin herself, I will assist her to do so, " which is common treason, for which a man ought to be shot. I cannot see anything else, between these two extremes, that the phrase can mean.
[GKC ILN Sept 6 1913 CW29:548-9]

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Draft of The Three Relics completed!

Great news - I have just completed a draft of the concluding portion of my fantasy novel, The Three Relics!

This is the "saga" about the famous Weaver's Bookstore in Quayment, and the Weaver triplets, and three curious book-related relics, and the Evil Powers and the Forces of Light... (oh boy!) It's all very Chestertonian, and full of all the things I really like. I think you'll like it too. I have previously announced the first two components, and have now finished the collection:

1. The Black Hole in the Basement
2. The Creatures Who Live in the Walls
3. The Horrors in the Attic
*** additional detail suppressed for security reasons ***
and I must not forget the prequel, The Wreck of the Phosploion.

I am now revising the draft, and hope to compel our art department to produce a map and perhaps at least a cover picture if not some additional illustrations. They have not done ANY more for the other parts, as they have been quite lazy - I do not understand this work ethic. Why should they relax while the writer is going through such difficult labours? Oy vey.

One of the more delightful bits is the book raffle held at the Gutenberg Festival - as we know from Uncle Gilbert, "The greatest of poems is an inventory." [Orthodoxy CW1:267] I think you will enjoy learning about the great bookstores of Quayment and see their offerings... I hope to post it shortly.

Unfortunately it will not be available in electronic form, at least not in the near future, so until I find a publisher you will simply have to "wait in joyful hope"...

If, on the other hand, you find you cannot be patient, you can buy the insanely overpriced originals from Loome - search for author "Thursday".