Friday Tid-bit: Oddly Familiar

Meanwhile, back at the police department…

Officer Jamie Macbeth tried not to yawn. Only Corporal O’Brian could make attempted arson boring. “…But as you can see, the second attempt also failed to burn more than a six by six circle in the floor. Apparently someone found it before it could grow farther, and extinguished it.” The photo of the burned patch swooped off the screen, replaced by something that spun like the Tasmanian Devil in that cartoon before resolving into a ring of white powder. I wonder who was standing on top of the flame to make—sheepdip! That wasn’t a chemical extinguisher’s residue. That was a magical circle. “Now, about that string of car burglaries on the north side of town…” O’Brian droned on while Jamie’s mind went chasing off in a different direction.

Still distracted, he followed everyone else out once the briefing dragged to its usual conclusion. “Hey, Earth to Macbeth,” Officer Gustav Jenkins said from above Jamie’s head. Continue reading

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Creeds and Strength

Can a religion last long without a set of firm beliefs? At the moment, personal observation suggests that the answer is a firm “no.” There’s a lot of truth in the saw about “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

The topic has been on my mind because of some comparisons between congregation and denomination sizes in the local area. The congregations – even within a denomination – that are either holding their own or growing are those that have a firm core belief and that stick with it. “This, this, and this is what we believe and do. If you don’t agree, the Lord be with you and go in peace.” No, they don’t toss people out the door, but they are strict about following a certain core doctrine. Continue reading

As the Pages Turn…

Ok, I’ll wait for those of you of a Certain Age to stop having flashbacks to the opening credits of a certain soap opera.

Inservice already!?!

Yep, it’s that time of year. Students are hiding, parents are rubbing their hands with glee, or will once they recover from buying school supplies, and teachers are looking at the school IT specialist and wondering why the electronic gradebook had to be “updated and improved.” Continue reading

Two Blisters on the Continents: The Harz and the Black Hills

We tend to think of the middles of continents as dull, stable places. There’s a reason John McPhee’s essay about the Great Plains focuses on the term “Stable Interior Craton.” Nothing of great geologic excitement happens mid-continent. Neither does much of cultural excitement, either. When was the last time you heard wild breaking news of earth-shaking excitement from, oh, Dessau, Germany? Or Pierre, South Dakota? The vertical relief tends to be gradual with a few exceptions, and those exceptions promptly got turned into parks. No earthquakes add moments of interest. It’s all wheat fields, beet fields, and gently rolling land.

Looking east from the Hexentanzplatz at the edge of the Harz Mountains. Flaaaaaaaaaat.

Looking east from the Black Hills.

Until a lump appears.

Continue reading

Oddly Familiar: Sneaking Snake?

In which Lelia contemplates buying running shoes…

Arthur sent Lelia and Tay home at eight that evening. “Shoo. It’s quiet, and I can handle everything.”

“Good night, sir.” Lelia waited for Tay to get settled in his soft-sided carrier and picked up it and her handbag. The last days of September had seen summer roar back for one last gasp of sticky heat, and Lelia sighed a little as she strolled to the bus stop. The cool breeze felt good as it tickled her cheeks and made the hem of her skirt flutter. She didn’t necessarily want snow, but sixty-five was, in her estimation, a vast improvement over ninety-five. Especially now that she was paying her own utilities and laundry bills again. In fact, that reminded her. She needed to set up the sweater racks and do those two skirts and tights. And probably ought to stock up on her favorite wool-wash, too, in case she needed to do a jacket. Continue reading

Book Review: Making the Monster

Harkup, Kathryn. Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. (New York: Bloomsbury Sigma, 2018)

We all know Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s Monster: or The Modern Prometheus as 1) a Romantic argument against the Enlightenment, 2) proof that women invented science-fiction, 3) a feminist parable of the evils of men ignoring the need for emotion and love, 4)a powerful argument against overly-rational science, 5) the origins of several monster and mad-scientist tropes, 6) the origins of various movies and TV shows, 7) all of the above.

It is also a study in what science at the time thought was possible, and how it might have been achieved. Continue reading