mildy amusing or bizarre


The last wolf that has roamed our island had been slain in Scotland a short time before the close of the reign of Charles the Second. But many breeds, now extinct, or rare, both of quadrupeds and birds, were still [in 1685] common. The fox, whose life is now, in many counties, held almost as sacred as that of a human being, was then considered as a mere nuisance (Macaulay’s ‘History of England’, chapter III, 2, published 1848).

In my quest for intellectually unchallenging reading matter, suitable for flushing one’s brain after a whole day’s thinking, I recently came upon Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels. For a science fiction novel (or probably for any modern novel), there was pleasingly little of sex and violence to mar my enjoyment of the plots, even though, ideologically, the books are of cause utterly unsound. I was quite amused by the author’s early 1940s enthusiasm about nuclear energy and faith in sociology. In the story, a central role is played by the science of psychohistory, defined by Wikipedia (is there any pop culture item without a Wikipedia entry?) as “a fictional science i[…] which combines history, sociology, etc., and mathematical statistics to make general predictions about the future behavior of very large groups of people”. The founder of this science uses it to predict with statistical probabilities the course of history and the incidence of crucial crises for a foundation established at the fringe of the galaxy over a course of 1000 years.

A helpful plot device, but somewhat risible, I thought. Something that people are actually trying to develop, according to Nature.

The people’s missal, 1961 edition, in my possession proudly states (by means of bold print) that, while particularly commemorating the Holy Mother of God, the Liturgy of the Octave Day of Christmas does in now way mention the beginning of civil society’s new year (if  this is an appropriate translation of ‘Beginn des neuen bürgerlichen Jahres’. In a spirit of aggiornamento, however, all masses (NO) of New Year’s Day to which I have been during the eight or nine years have managed not only to focus almost entirely on that aspect (or alternatively on it being World Peace Day of some sort), but also to exclude nearly every reference to it being, acually, the Solemnity of Our Lady, Mother of God). This includes the substitution of the collect by some prayer referring to the start of the new year, a custom so universal that it actually seems to be included in liturgical books of some sort.

January 1st is, however a holy day of obligation throughout Germany. I know this because only a short while ago I decided there must be a list of these somewhere on the internet, and there is indeed, even though I have never ever before come across it. I guess the majority even of well-catechised orthodox Catholics would not know which they are.

In the whole of Germany: Christmas Day, the Solemnity of Our Lady, Mother of God, the Ascension.

In some dioceses, generally in those where these days are public holidays, but also in some where they are not: the Epiphany, Corpus Christi, the Assumption, All Saints.

The Solemnities of St. Joseph, of Saints Peter and Paul, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception are no holy days of obligation.

Probably uniquely, however, the feast of St. Stephen, Monday in the Octave of Easter and Monday in the non-Octave of Pentecost are also holy days of obligation, by virtue of being public holidays, one assumes. I would therefore like to forward a motion of including the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker and that of St. Gregory the Great as well.

Last May, the surface of my street was ripped up, and its venerable (well, not that venerable, there were only fields here till the fifties) cobbles revealed. The surface was laid in one go by the most remarkable machine (German, of course). I spent a long time goggling from the balcony that day, first admiring the Amazing Machine and then enchanted  by the  Dance of the Yellow Baby Bulldozers that went on for some time in celebration afterwards.  And I’ve finally managed to get the photos off my phone and onto the ‘puter.

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from FB. Punchline in the comments .

A young family moved into a house next door to an empty plot. One day, a gang of building workers turned up to start building on the plot.

The young family’s 5-year-old daughter naturally took an interest in all the activity going on next door and started talking with the workers.

She hung around and eventually the builders, all with hearts of gold, more or less adopted the little girl as a sort of project mascot.

They chatted with her, let her sit with them while they had tea and lunch breaks, and gave her little jobs to do here and there to make her feel important.

They even gave the child her very own hard hat and gloves, which thrilled her immensely.

At the end of the first week, the smiling builders presented her with a pay envelope – containing two pounds in 10p coins.
The little girl took her ‘pay’ home to her mother who suggested that they take the money to the bank the next day to open a savings account.

At the bank, the female cashier was tickled pink listening to the little girl telling her about her ‘work’ on the building site and the fact she had a ‘pay packet’.

‘You must have worked very hard to earn all this’, said the cashier.

The little girl proudly replied, ‘Yes, I worked every day with Steve and Wayne and Mike. We’re building a big house.’

‘My goodness gracious,’ said the cashier, ‘And will you be working on the house again next week?’

The child thought for a moment. Then she said seriously:

Diary of a Catholic couple:

Him: I love you.

Her: I love you, too. But if you get me pregnant, I’ll stab you in the eye.

Him: I have two.

Simcha Fisher makes me laugh.


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