Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From St. Michael to Lepanto

Saturday September 29 is the feast of St. Michael - and the day to begin a novena for the Defeat of the Powers of Darkness. It will end on the feast of the Holy Rosary, October 7. Please join us in praying the rosary for the defeat of evil which besets us personally, our families, our societies, our countries, our world.

Our foes are mighty - they are powerful and wicked, and they hate us.

But we have allies who are more than a match for them.

Therefore, let us repeat, in a sort of gentle yet high-tech passicaglia, those wonderful words recorded by St. Luke, of Gabriel to Mary - the words which she answered with humility, remembering that it was from her answer to them that "the Word was made flesh - and dwelt among us."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Books you (and every member of "XYZ") ought to read

For quite a long time I spent a large amount of energy being involved with an organization I shall here misidentify as "XYZ" - a certain social organization based upon good and virtuous principles and, though secular, having more than the usual helping of sound philosophy and even Christian virtues.

Recently I met four other members of "XYZ" - themselves intelligent, alert, and curious to know more, as I hope I am. We spent a pleasant lengthy lunchtime reviewing some ancient history, some very esoteric bits of American history, some long-vanished practices of "Institutes of Higher Learning" and so forth. Of course it also involved that very common and very funny human action known as eating, and as an aside it is amazing how much fascinating talk enriches the meal... more on that another time.

While we ate, among other things, I called their attention to some little-known books which I had read some time ago, and which I am convinced anyone with intelligence, especially anyone belonging to "XYZ", ought to read - and re-read, and contemplate. They do not readily link one with the other, though all three allude to "Institutes of Higher Learning" either directly, abstractly, or imaginarily. Each has its own curious powers, and will provide enlightenment and maybe even regenerate a degree of enthusiasm. Fortunately all three are available out here in the e-cosmos...

1. By John Henry Newman: The Idea of a University

2. By Walter Havighurst: The Miami Years

3. By George Fitch: At Good Old Siwash

There are, of course, many others; the idea of selecting books for a library is complex, and in many ways open-ended. But this will make a start.

Well, no. I also have to include this one, even though it does not really talk about "institutes of higher learning" it IS a form of higher learning itself: The Consolation of Philosophy. Another time I may suggest some more for your consideration, but at least you now have a good starting point.

Friday, September 07, 2012

The Legend of Lance the Bird

(Reposted from 2005, in memory of a great thing now vanished into history.)

The Legend of Lance the Bird

In memory of the species
Lancenidifactor retefrangens
- the net-breaking big-dish nest-builder -
that built a nest in our satellite dish...

The legend lives on
From the field-techs on down
Of the place owned by Harold Fitzgerald.
The inserters they say
Will make the spots play
While the cue-tones remain unimperilled.

In a corporate park
In the light or the dark
In the farmlands just east of West Chester
There's a small high-tech firm
Nothing more than a worm
To a bird that they call "big-dish-nester."

This place you will find
An unusual kind
Doesn't make DNA or steel girders,
The commercials you see
On your cable TV
Are played back on their own ad-inserters.

To do this they send
To each cable headend
The commercials wove in MPEG flannel,
A scheduling list
By which they insist
On the spot and the time and the channel.

A signal they get
Makes ads play on your set
The cue-tones that start things in motion -
All sent with a swish
By a satellite dish
Out in back of their place in East Goshen.

The signal comes then
And the ads play (it's ever so thrilling)
Then there's just one more bump
The logs go back through PUMP
And the whole thing is ready for billing.

And spots they will make
To sell wood or cake,
Take photos of cars and of houses,
The time in a box,
Crawling weather and stocks,
Birthdays wishes for friends or for spouses.

By night and by day,
Close attention they pay
If something goes wrong or is needed:
When red comes they dialed
Thus "who watches the watcher?" is heeded!

So they sell Land Rovers
At the CHESes and DOVErs
And the plaque-on-the-wall-singing-fishes;
And things were quite well
Till the day I must tell
When that bird came to nest in their dishes!

This bird was a pest -
Just building a nest
At the transmitter dish's main focus:
No one could foresee
That this fowl thing would be
The straw in the blockage that broke us!

They saw it fly past,
Now slower, now fast,
Carrying straw that's so meager
It piled sticks and twine
On the satellite line...
Soon the signal began to get weaker.

CNN missed a cue,
Then Headline missed too
Then Ferry and Pump stopped their sending -
The control room guy said,
"Hey - the whole field is red!"
(Could it be all the systems were ending?)

Nextels tore the air:
"Beep-beep: hey, Pete, you there?"
Joe P. Ann and Scott were alerted...
They hung up some owls,
Brought in cats with their howls,
But the bird still remained undiverted.

Then "Control-room-guy Joe"
Interrupted: "I know!
'Hey bird, come out of your bower -
That dish is your tomb!'"
To the transmitter room
He ran - and he turned up the power!

So the whole gang did feast,
(No, no, not on roast beast)
But on microwave-turkey-like dinner;
All the field-techs and ops
Said, "Hey Joe, you're the tops -
Of the dish-game you sure are the winner!"

Now Traffic with CAM
Builds a schedule in RAM
Stargate puts it on HOME then for sending.
Starburst follows Pump's wish
Through Gilat to the dish
Ferry takes to the engines unending.

Tapes piled high in lots
Are converted to spots
(When VidLib is down it's impeded.)
Then Pump will extend
A multicast send
So the spots will get out where they're needed.

And Cue 2 and Cue 1
Also add to the fun
UDP (tripled to avoid botching)
And the engines send back
(Through HOME runs the track)
UDP also makes lights for watching.

But those ads must be bought:
Logs to Stargate are brought...
With billing comes payday and resting;
And no one will doubt
That our signal goes out
If the dish is still kept free from nesting.

The legend lives on
From the field-techs on down
Of the place owned by Harold Fitzgerald.
All birds, stay away!
'Cause the cook's in today...
Thus the cue-tones remain unimperilled...

Nov/Dec 2000