Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Adeste, fideles,

laeti triumphantes;
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte Regem angelorum.

Venite adoremus, venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus, Dominum!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Veni veni, Emmanuel

captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exsilio,
privatus Dei Filio.

Gaude! Gaude!
nascetur pro te, Israel!

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
shall come to thee, O Israel!

Tonight our cousin Aaron, his wife Kara and their new baby Dana are staying here, on their way from Houston to visit family in Michigan. Dana is still tiny, and a mind-bogglingly cute pugilist:

After a day and a half of driving, she was completely obliging to my entire family, who hardly let Aaron or Kara have her all day. She even tolerated my clumsy cradling (with sister Katie standing watch to make sure I don't lose her):

Friday, December 22, 2006

Veni, veni, Rex Gentium,

veni, Redemptor omnium,
ut salvas tuos famulos
peccati sibi conscios.

Gaude! Gaude!
nascetur pro te, Israel.

O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven's peace.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Veni, veni O Oriens,

solare nos adveniens,
noctis depelle nebulas,
dirasque mortis tenebras.

Gaude! Gaude!
nascetur pro te, Israel.

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadow put to flight.

Speaking of YouTube:

‘Twas brillig, and the 30S-ribosome did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy was mRNA, that colored message unit array…


Words alone cannot describe this video. I mean, by the end I was expecting an Amino Acid to be locked inside a giant Wicker Man.

Thanks to Joel, who claims that the T-Factor (dressed, of course, like Christopher Lee) was his high school physics teacher…

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Veni, Clavis Davidica,

regna reclude caelica,
fac iter tutum superum,
et claude vias inferum.

Gaude! Gaude!
nascetur pro te, Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heav'nly home,
make safe the way that leads on high,
that we no more have cause to sigh.

Safe and sound and sleepy in St. Louis. I have to admit that my sister and I just binged on YouTube, since neither of us can manage streaming video on our respective coasts. I also have to admit that, while the song by itself is forgettable, this OK Go treadmill video is brilliant:

I also have to admit that in the last several days, I've consumed the entire archive of Sam and Fuzzy, a serial comic with a twisted Bill Watterson vibe.

I... I have poor impulse control.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Veni, O Iesse virgula,

ex hostis tuos ungula,
de spectu tuos tartari
educ et antro barathri.

Gaude! Gaude!
nacetur pro te, Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
from ev'ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict'ry o'er the grave.

My students' final was held in Haas Pavilion, the basketball arena. I thought that meant there were classrooms tucked away, but no, it meant that 300 students were doing linear algebra on the basketball court, with over a thousand empty seats watching from above. I barely resisted the urge to grab the microphone Dr. V was using and say:


Oh wait. Come to think of it, I actually succumbed to that temptation. No, seriously. Check that one off my list.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Veni, veni, Adonai,

qui populo in Sinai
legem dedisti vertice
in maiestate gloriae.

Gaude! Gaude!
nascetur pro te Israel!

O come, o come, Thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe.

I am the worst grad student ever. I now live in an 8x8 pile of clutter, in which I fail to make progress on the project I hoped to have done weeks ago, and now hope to finish in St. Louis. God has been trying to teach me either discipline or humility. If it's the latter, He has had a bit of success.

P.S. I do know that the original "O Antiphons" predate the hymn settings by about 800 years. But I love the chant version, and I'm sticking with it here.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Veni, O Sapientia,

quae hic disponis omnia,
veni, viam prudentiae
ut doceas et gloriae.

Gaude! Gaude!
nascetur pro te Israel!

O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Note to self:

Yes, it's true that it's better to drink the higher-proof stuff first, and beer later; there are biological reasons behind the "beer before liquor/liquor before beer" ditty. However, that does not imply that I was obligated to follow up that last scotch with that last pint of PBR. That was drunk-logic speaking.

Well, I'm fine. Just a bit disappointed in my liver. Or perhaps my brain. But the birthday, in its entirety, was a thing of beauty.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006



So I am three and twenty today. It will be quite a day; I plan on going to morning Mass, visiting Caelius and Alice in San Francisco, then there's a house dinner (plus Justine), and I'll wind up at a bar with the other mathematicians. This whole week has been a gauntlet of fun, and it looks to continue as such.

And I just want to say, wow, there are a lot of great comments on the "why can't we be gods" point, though I have an issue with the following

Claim: God is uncreated Being; we are created beings. This has the strong point of being true, but it doesn't help much as an objection to Mormon theology since they simply deny that God is uncreated. Ditto for the "we depend on God for our very being" argument, since they believe He depends on another for His very being.

(I know, I know, we could then trace the Uncaused Cause argument back further, apply Zorn's Lemma if we're mathematicians, and conclude that there is some uncreated God behind any such schema of created gods. But I don't know whether that's the most fruitful path in argumentation.)

The notion of aseity has a lot going for it, though I wonder whether we could demonstrate the absolute necessity of God (rather than just His necessity for this universe) in actual argument with such a Moroni's Advocate.

Well, that's all for tonight!

P.S: In fact, that wasn't all for tonight. It's almost 2 and I really need to sleep now, but I had to link to Zippy's most recent post. He clarifies what is meant by the 'object' of a moral act in a way that illuminates many things in Catholic moral philosophy for me. To oversimplify the distinction he drew: X is the object of my act if I personally did X. I can be morally responsible for X in other cases, for example if I hire someone to do X. But in that case the object of my act isn't X, but 'hiring someone to do X'.

If that doesn't seem right to you (and it didn't at first to me), I encourage you to read through the fruitful comment section on the post.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception! (No, not the Annunciation. It's a Catholic thing, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, free from original sin as is fitting for the mother of the Lord.)

I'm raising my head out of the miasma of semester-end stress (all fully deserved, dear Reader; I've been procrastinating on this mathematical paper for months) to say that I really have not much to say, not on an intellectual level at least. Personally, God continues to bless me far beyond my deserts.

But in the realm of ideas, despite all my readings of Socrates, it has taken me until this year to truly acknowledge that I know nothing. I admire the brilliant points made by the men and women whose blogs I visit, but I can't help but feel that I have precious little to contribute. Believe me, my pretentious arrogance continues unabated in person, but in print when I have time to reflect, I feel rather abashed about my attempts to articulate quite anything.

So I rather solicit ideas from you on something that stumped me- or rather, I should say, that I know but found myself entirely unable to explain. Recently I had the occasion (on a flight with a stop in Salt Lake City) for a genuinely interesting religious conversation with a Mormon. I tried, but utterly failed, to explain why it would be metaphysically impossible for a creature to become a god, as the Mormons believe the best souls will. (More precisely, if I were to 'become' the Creator of a universe and not simply a sub-creator, making from what already is, that entity would not be me, however much it resembled me.) I said a bunch of things about how creaturedom is essential to our nature, but my interlocutor was unsatisfied with the attempt, and so was I. What do you say?