Has Visual Learning Damaged the Moral Landscape? (Answers from Victor Hugo and St. Thomas.)

August 19, 2017

TVI worry when a person gets all his news from watching TV. I worry that he loses the ability to distinguish between ideology, strategy, and tactics. I worry that he can’t tell the difference between motive and emotion. I worry that maybe he doesn’t even care. Everything becomes a matter of appearances. On TV truth is drowned out in a cacophony of competing voices and bad behavior. Read the rest of this entry »

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Baseball games are too long.

August 17, 2017

I’ve been watching Yankee baseball during my vacation. Marianne likes it too until she gets sleepy and has to go to bed. Night games start at 7:10 p.m. The games aren’t over until after 10:00 p.m. This is crazy! If the pitcher had to get the ball back to the catcher in 12 seconds, the games would be over before 9:30 p.m. If the batters got 3 balls and 2 strikes, the pitchers arms wouldn’t wear out so fast and the games would be over by like 9:00 p.m.

Also, I wouldn’t have to watch Aaron Judge take the first pitch for a strike, miss the second pitch, and work his way to a 3 and 2 count on 7 pitches, only to strike out. OK, once in a while he hits a ball from Yankee Stadium almost to Boston, and I like that.

But not enough to stay up all night watching the pitcher shake off pitches until the catcher forgets the signs. And then the catcher has to go out to the mound, and they can talk about the signs while covering their mouths. Then, when everybody is back in position, the batter steps out of the box to adjust his ankle guard and other parts. By this time the catcher has forgotten the signs again.

If the batters only got 3 balls and 2 strikes, they wouldn’t foul the ball back into the catcher’s mask so much. And catchers would remember things better.

Sermon for Fr. Herbert Sanderson’s Funeral

August 11, 2017

HSandersonA great Christian has died and we gather together to thank God for Herbert and his Witness. When I say Witness I mean something that is hard for many people to understand today.

Everybody knows a witness is someone who has seen something important. Later on, a witness might be summoned to a court of law to give testimony.

Whatever Herbert was doing, he was always giving testimony. It was just the way he was. Herbert Sanderson was a fine musician, a PhD clinical psychologist, a priest, a father, and a husband. And whatever he was doing at any given time, he was testifying. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Sports, Peirce Playground, and Norman “Coach” Anderson.

August 7, 2017
Chicago Softball

A “Chicago” 16 inch softball next to a regular baseball

Even though I tell people I grew up in New York City, the facts are a bit more complicated. I lived in Manhattan in various apartments near the East River between 23rd and 97th streets until I was nine years old. Then I went to live on the North side of Chicago for about four years. Then we moved back to New York City in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

I played a lot of sports when I was a kid. I played baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. But that only started when we moved to Chicago. In Manhattan everybody improvised. In the streets of New York in the late 1950s we played stickball with a small red rubber ball (a Spaldeen) and a broom handle for a bat. Kids roller skated with clamp-on skates with metal wheels. Dads made scooters out of 2 by 4s and orange crates, with skates nailed to the bottom.

Chicago was another world. Whatever you want to say about climate change, the truth is it was cold and windy all winter long in Chicago in the early 1960s. I was very embarrassed that I didn’t know how to ice-skate. I found an indoor rink away from my neighborhood where I could rent skates and teach myself how to skate.

We lived in an apartment on North Clark Street in the Edgewater section of Chicago. My first year I went to Peirce Public School. The playground at Peirce School is famous in the history of Chicago, and in all of North American speed skating. Almost all the Olympic speed skaters in the U.S. came out of skating clubs that have their origins traced to the Peirce Playground Skating Club. Starting in the late 1930s with the backing of the mayor, and city recreation money, a field-house was built and dedicated to after-school recreation activities. Read the rest of this entry »

My New Crayons

July 20, 2017

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On Amazon. $10 with Prime. Mines.

Crayola retires crayon colors?! Who knew?

July 20, 2017
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I have no idea what Mr. Twisty-Tie is up to.

I was listening to Bloomberg News and there was a report that Crayola had retired the color “Dandelion.” This news quite upset me. I thought the Crayola crayon colors were standard and never changed. Nobody consulted me about this!

I went on the Crayola website and found out that they’ve been doing this for years. At least they have a Hall of Fame for retired crayons. The website states that Dandelion was taken on a tour of all his favorite places before he was retired. So, it’s better than I thought.

But I did get to remembering that I was in awe (envious, I mean) of a couple of kids who had the box with the 48 (or was it 64?) crayons and a sharpener built into the side. All I ever had was the regular box of eight crayons.

So, then I went on Amazon and found a kit with 152 different crayons plus a sharpener for $10 (the packaging was beat-up, but otherwise fine). I bought that thing in a heartbeat! It’s amazing! It’s got a yellow plastic carrier with four compartments for the crayons, a central handle, and a slot with a really nice sharpener. And it has a Dandelion crayon too!

Childhood pain healed for $10? What a deal!

Mr. Twisty-Tie

July 15, 2017

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Mr. Twisty-Tie runs away!

Rules, Beliefs, and Thinking

July 14, 2017
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Mr. Twisty-Tie prays

I had one of those conversations the other day that made me scratch my head.

Here is my memory of the exchange. It’s a bit cleaned up to make it easier to read. But I promise, not changed very much. I’ll call the guy Jake.

Jake: I just found out the Catholic Church has finally agreed that gluten-free bread is OK for use in the church. Is it really that important we use bread and wine at Communion? Read the rest of this entry »

A Sermon on the Binding of Isaac

July 3, 2017

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The beginning of chapter 22 in The Book of Genesis is called by Jews the Akedah. We call it the Binding of Isaac. For a hundred years it has also been known as the Sacrifice of Isaac. But this isn’t right because Isaac was not sacrificed. The story is the subject of interest and study by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars. The Binding of Isaac is also of great interest to modern secular scholars.

There is a famous book by the literary critic Erich Auerbach called Mimesis. It is subtitled The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. In Mimesis Auerbach compares the Binding of Isaac story to Homer’s description of Odysseus’s scar in the epic poem The Odyssey.

The scar on the leg of Odysseus is disclosed pretty far into the story. How Odysseus got the scar is laid out in an intricate series of flashback narratives. Auerbach’s thesis was that Homer was writing entertaining fiction, but in the Bible the author of the Binding of Isaac was writing what he believed to be absolutely true about God.

The author of the Binding of Isaac set down an important story in the history of Israel. The Binding was a very well known story. It had to be included in the Book of Genesis. There was no way to avoid it. But how to tell the story?

The author believes that Abraham was a real person. He believes that God told Abraham to kill his son. The author believes that there is one God, and that one God is the God of the Hebrew people. How do you tell the story?

The story is told in 14 verses. 14 verses. This is totally different from the leisurely, fully developed, and completely explained soap opera of Homer’s epic tale.

14 verses. It’s a terrible story. Is the author just trying to get through it as fast as possible? What’s going on here? If you’re a Jew or a Christian how are you going to defend it? Read the rest of this entry »

Chairs: Shaping the back legs

June 17, 2017

The rear legs of a typical side chair have a backward curve near the floor. This keeps the chair from tipping over backward. The tops of the back legs are also angled backward so that the chair back is at a comfortable angle.

The wood for the back legs should be cut out from a board that has a compatible grain direction for the shape of a the leg. If the grain direction is wrong the leg will be prone to break and it will also look bad.

 

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Read the rest of this entry »