Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Memorial of Saint Leo

The reading from the Memorial of Saint Leo the Great (Wisdom 7:22b-8:1).

For in [Wisdom] there is a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent and pure and most subtle.

For wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.

For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her.

For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.

Though she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets; for God loves nothing so much as the man who lives with wisdom.

For she is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior, for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail. She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and she orders all things well.

(Text from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Blogs by First Things writers

Edwards Peters' In the Light of the Law. Peter Berger's Religion and Other Curiosities. Leroy Huizenga's blog. Patrick Deneen's What I Saw in America.

Aquinas amongst the analytics

An interview with John Haldane, a Thomist analytic philosopher who talks about the link between metaphysics and religious faith and the perspective of St. Thomas Aquinas. HT: First Thoughts.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Why good grammar matters

Kyle Wiens describes why good grammar matters:
Applicants who don't think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren't important.
Hat tip: First Thoughts

Burke and Hobbes

George Weigel's article on Thomas Hobbes and Edmund Burke. His take:
In a Hobbesian world, the only actors of consequence are the state and the individual. In a Burkean world, the institutions of civil society—family, religious congregation, voluntary association, business, trade union and so forth—“mediate” between the individual and the state, and the just state takes care to provide an appropriate legal framework in which those civil-society institutions can flourish.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sports and the Meaning of Life

Came across these two articles about two people in big-time college sports who found (are trying to find) the meaning of life somewhere else: a woman soccer player at LSU and Urban Meyer.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Short story by Fitzgerald

Thank You for the Light by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The New Yorker, August 6, 2012. HT: First Thoughts.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Steel sculptures

I found the steel sculpture at the University of Florida (mentioned here); it is on the west side of Weil Hall not far from Florida Field and the O'Connell Center. I also happened to find a similar sculpture on the campus of the University of South Florida; it is near the engineering buildings. Here is a photo of that one:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Not on Facebook

Steve Baarendse has an article in Touchstone on his reasons for not being on Facebook. He is specifically addressing college students. After listing various shortcomings of Facebook, he asks,
How do we use social media responsibly, especially in view of our calling as students? Answering this will require great discernment. ... Let’s agree that the danger doesn’t necessarily lie in our tools, but in our lack of self-control, which can make us the slave of our tools. Just as we can overeat in the cafeteria, so we can over-consume in our use of technology.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Quantum Physics

In Does Quantum Physics Make it Easier to Believe in God? Stephen M. Barr states his answer:
Not in any direct way. That is, it doesn’t provide an argument for the existence of God. But it does so indirectly, by providing an argument against the philosophy called materialism (or “physicalism”), which is the main intellectual opponent of belief in God in today’s world.
Hat tip: First Thoughts.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Derecho

Article in the Washington Post about the derecho that hit on Friday, June 29, 2012; YouTube video of the radar loops; the Wikipedia entry; a tree at the corner of Crofton Parkway and Lang Drive, Crofton, Maryland:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Video on OR

Georgia Tech Professor David Goldsman's video about operations research. Hat tip: Punk Rock Operations Research.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Anointing of the Sick

Article about the purpose of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. The bottom line:
The fact that the sacrament is intended to provide “great confidence in the divine mercy” and help to “bear the trials and hardships of sickness” suggests one is dealing with a truly grave illness that at least potentially could lead to death, even if death does not occur.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Religious Liberty: The Origins

George Weigel on the Catholic origins of religious liberty, especially in the United States.
From Thomas Aquinas to Robert Bellarmine to the Anglican divine Richard Hooker; then from Hooker to John Locke to Thomas Jefferson: That’s one plausible intellectual roadmap to the Declaration and the First Amendment.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Joe Herrmann day (1982)

December 3, 1982, was officially Joe Herrmann Day in Dade City and San Antonio, Florida. For the rest of the story, see this copy of the article in the Pasco News.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Types of capitalism

Steven Pearlstein's article on capitalism highlights the following forms:
  • robber barons
  • corporate (managerial) capitalism
  • state capitalism
  • entrepreneurial capitalism
  • worker capitalism
  • shareholder capitalism
  • financial capitalism

Sunday, May 27, 2012


A meditation on joy by Daniel J. Heisey, with references to the "relatively obscure Apostolic Exhortation by Pope Paul VI, Gaudete in Domino (1975)." Heisey concludes
we do well to ponder the joy of doing one’s duty, whether a gold star is in the offing; the demanding joy of sacrifice, whether anyone notices; or the austere joy of a job well done, simply because anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Manufacturing zippers

Article about YKK, the "mysterious" Japanese company that dominates the zipper market. Their zippers are much better but only slightly more expensive. (This also appeared in The Washington Post.)

Friday, May 04, 2012

Academic busyness

First Thoughts post about how universities and colleges are very busy saving the world:
We must recommit to “citizenship” as a foundation of the academy and model citizenship by addressing the real problems of our state, national and global communities.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Skillful writing of an awful research paper

This editorial by Royce Murray at UNC is good advice to avoid. Rule 3 is particularly good:
Diagrams are worth a thousand words, so in the interest of writing a concise paper, omit all words that explain the diagram, including labels. Let the reader use his/her fertile imagination.
Hat tip: my colleague Elisabeth Smela, who posted a copy on the bulletin board outside her office.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Has greed swamped learning?

In his column in The Washington Post, Robert McCartney asks, "Has greed swamped learning as the top priority for America’s institutions of higher education?"

Monday, March 19, 2012

How Economics Shapes Science

An interview with Paula Stephan, the author of How Economics Shapes Science, which discusses the economic and other incentives of academic researchers. Among the items covered in the interview:
The evidence is overwhelming that in certain fields — especially in the biomedical sciences — we produce more Ph.D.s than there are research or teaching jobs. This imbalance is caused by the fact that principal investigators staff their labs with postdocs and graduate students, not permanent staff scientists. Faculty like the model: graduate students and postdocs have new, fresh ideas; they are also inexpensive and they are temporary. But unless the number of new jobs grows quickly enough to absorb the newly trained, (which it hasn’t for many years), this system of staffing produces many more Ph.D.s than the job market can absorb. That’s why I call it a pyramid scheme.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Guide to Journal Publication

According to the web site,
The purpose ... is to aggregate advice and best practices from accomplished engineering academics that will assist both doctoral students and junior faculty members achieve success in journal publication.
Hat tip: Alice Smith.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

State Roads in Florida

This map, from the Wikipedia page on "State Roads in Florida," explains the grid system for numbering the state roads in Florida. State Road 39 goes right through Plant City, and State Road 60 is a bit south of town.

No Need to Panic About Global Warming

An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, signed by sixteen scientists, about global warming and some possible motives of those who are alarmed:
Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Steel Sculpture

This "Steel Sculpture" was created 1986 by a University of Florida engineering professor for teaching structures. Over 100 other universities now have one also (see Photo from the UF Civil Engineering department web site. Where on the UF campus is this sculpture?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Reforming public schools

In the January, 2012, issue of First Things, Charles Glenn's article reviews the history of public schools and argues that a wide variety of schools is needed and "Parents should be free to choose the school their children attend without financial penalty."