You are currently browsing the daily archive for October 3, 2011.

Today I received in the mail an invitation to join the American Chemical Society.   The invitation came with all sorts of reasons why I should accept the offer:  Access to Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly magazine; networking conferences and symposia; access to grants and scholarships; and even my very own poster of the periodic table of the elements if I join right now!

I am mighty puzzled as to how I ever wound up on a mailing list like this one, considering my last direct experience with chemistry involved the successful lobbying of my college organic prof to allow me to withdraw from the course rayther than fail it.

The only link I can think of is the fact that Mrs. R teaches science at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method and perhaps the ACS people somehow got hold of her name.  But that still doesn’t explain why mail would come addressed specifically to me at my office, instead of to the port-swiller residence or her school.

As Mr. James Taranto would say, “The Lonely Lives of Scientists.”

Uh, oh.  A Frog plot to do away with Greenwich?

Party conference delegates traditionally need a distraction, something to take their minds off the most contentious matters. And the Tories have been given one by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. This organisation doesn’t seek, as you might think from its title, to outlaw bendy bananas or impose a universal standard of sausage, but to do something altogether more sinister: to redefine time.

Not content with using the rotation of the earth, it wants to base the official calculation on an atomic pulse. Out goes Greenwich Mean Time. In comes something emanating – wouldn’t you know it? – from Paris. “We want to decouple the world’s time-keeping from its link to the rotation of the earth,” says a spokesman for the bureau.

Call me paranoid, but I detect French fingerprints all over this proposal. Atomic, you see: we all know how the French love their nuclear power. And then it is so rational, so scientific. That’s the French for you; never happier than starting from first principles.

“Reminds one of the worst excesses of the French revolution, and I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?”

Rev. Longenecker on one of my pet gripes, the awfulness of modern church architecture:

The basic outline is a rectangle with a large outer courtyard for the people, an inner courtyard for the clergy, and a Holy of Holies where God’s presence was focused. For 2,000 years, the vast majority of churches — whether Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, neo-classical, or a combination of the above — were built in this same, simple, three-chambered fashion. These Christian churches conveyed a sense of direction from the entry, through the great west door, up the central aisle to the sanctuary with its altar, and finally up to the tabernacle — the Holy of Holies and the presence of Christ. These Christian churches not only conveyed in architecture the linear view of salvation history, but they also evoked the hierarchical sense of the church. As you moved forward, you also moved further up and further in.

All of this is lost in the modern tepee, circus-tent sort of church. Tradition was trashed, and innovation was in. Every new church had to express the latest trend, or be the vehicle for some architect or poorly trained parish priest to “express himself,” or some new idea or enthusiasm.

Read the rest.

As dearly as I love my own parish, the fact of the matter is that the church was built in the mid-50’s and resembles nothing so much as an over-sized Jupiter II.   (“Non sum dignus, Will Robinson!”)  I often fantasize about razing it to the ground and starting over with something more orthodox.  I’ve every reason to believe that Fr. McA and Fr. S feel the same way, and that if it weren’t for the problem of finding the readies, they’d have done so a long time ago.   Actually, since this kind of architecture goes hand in glove with the “gathering the people of God for a fellowship meal” theology pushed at RFEC, which itself is a handsome, dignified  building, perhaps I could arrange a swap.

For those of you interested in how ol’ Robbo got on in dealing with his progeny in the absence of his better half over the weekend, a few highlights:

♦  The eldest gel and I finished up her school-project diorama of the battle between the Monitor and Merrimack on Saturday, and I must say that it turned out very nicely.  Inhaling all those paint and glue fumes took me straight back to my own misspent yoot, in which I spent hours and hours putting together model airplanes.  However, I don’t recall getting such big headaches back then.

♦  The youngest gel is doing a winter swim program that involved an all-day clinic yesterday.  When I went to drop her off, the staff made me sign a waiver.  “What’s a waiver, Daddy?” the gel asked.  “It’s a piece of paper that says if you get killed, the program isn’t responsible.  So try not to drown or anything,” I replied.  This provoked a look of horror on the face of the woman behind us.  Some people have no sense of humor.

♦  Speaking of senses of humor, the communion anthem at RFEC yesterday was an excerpt from a Vespers by Mozart that had an uncanny resemblance to the Don G./Leporello serenade from Don Giovanni.  One doesn’t catch ol’ Gangrl recycling material like that very often.

♦  Speaking of recycling, I begin more and more to imagine Sisyphus not forever rolling a giant boulder up a hill, but instead carrying a giant laundry basket.  Or, more accurately, trying to get a herd of cats to carry said laundry baskets.  And brain-damaged cats at that.  Honestly, when one says, “And do you really think your clothes magically pick themselves up, wash and dry themselves, and then put themselves away neatly?” only to be met with shrugged shoulders and a mumbled, “I dunno….,”  one is tempted, in the words of H.L. Mencken, to spit upon one’s hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats.

♦  Same thing goes for dishes.  And there is no good answer to the question, “Why did I find a plate in your bed?”

♦  Waa, waa, waa, I know.  I was chatting with a couple of moms apres church and mentioned how drained I was feeling.  Like Rodney Dangerfield, I didn’t get no respect.

♦  Saturday evening movie night at the port-swiller residence featured Fantasia, which I hadn’t seen probably since I was about eight years old or so.  It was, shall we say, of decidedly mixed entertainment value.  On the one hand, it was nice to see the penny drop when I pointed out to the gels that the conductor, Leopold Stokowski, was the fellah being made fun of in that Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs pretends to be a conductor in order to kybosh the singer he’s been feuding with.  (I can’t remember the name of it – it’s not “What’s Opera, Doc?” but another one.)  On the other hand, what Stokowski and his orchestra did to the musick was appallingly bad.  Really appallingly bad, both in technique and interpretation.   Did nobody have time to practice?  Then again, while the hippo ballerinas in the “Dance of the Hours” were (rightly) received with gales of laughter, the “abstract” animation of the Bach Toccata and Fugue in D-minor was (also rightly) an utter flop.  And during Stravinsky’s tedious “Rites of Spring,” the failure of the narrative about the dinosaurs dying out to mention anything about asteroid strikes was met with scorn and indignation that was hardly mitigated by my telling the gels the movie had been made sixty years ago and long before anybody had come up with that theory.   For me, however, the oddest bit was the treatment of Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony.  (This also provoked indignation, because while the narrator specifically stated that the cartoon was of classical Greek mythology, the gels pointed out that a number of the gods portrayed were identified by their Roman names, Bacchus in particular.  Yes, I am raising a trio of nerds.)  At any rate, I couldn’t help noticing that the lady centaurs, at least from the waist up, looked like something one would find on the nose of a B-17 or a trucker’s mudflaps, but were surrounded by coot widdle chewubs wiff fat, naked bottoms.   The juxtaposition of the two was…..disturbing.

At any rate, Mrs. R duly reappeared to relieve the garrison, cavalry-like, early last evening, so all is once more right with the world.

UPDATE:  Here you go:

Interesting how when adults rise up in revolt, you get the Tea Party, while when hipster-doofus college kids do it, you get the same-ol-same-ol incoherent, warmed-over, 60’s street scene bull-hockey.

I must say that I find the difference between the two to be a thing of  beauty.

Greetings, my fellow port-swillers!

Those of you who reside in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast will know that this September was a very monsoon-like month, with seemingly endless warm, muggy and rainy days.

Feeling that I was getting just a bit too moldy from all teh wet, I spoke to God about this over the weekend, saying, “Oh, Lord, couldn’t we have a change in the weather?  I haven’t been able to mow the lawn in about three weeks.”

And God said, “Okay,” and made it about twenty degrees cooler.

Not exactly what I had in mind viz backlogged yardwork, but as a matter of fact, rain and fog with a temperature in the mid-40’s has always been ol’ Robbo’s very favorite kind of weather.  (I think it must be my Scots ancestry.)  So while it’s still too wet to cut the grass, at least I can enjoy myself.

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