Category Archives: Religion

Early version of Google

This was the early version of Google. Using these humble wooden drawers, generations of scholars and researchers, desperate students and cunning spies, despairing parents and fanatical bibliophiles, and every other shape and size of reader delved into the depth and breadth of human understanding.

Something worth considering: Google contains only a fraction of the knowledge once cataloged by card catalogs. Technology has digitized and indexed only that which is easy to digitize and index; most journal articles, newspaper articles, books, scientific papers, notebooks and other written material are still confined to physical forms, and unknown to Internet search engines.

How I miss card catalogs.

The humble card catalog was the early version of Google. These wooden drawers held the wonder's of the world's past and the future of the universe.

The humble card catalog was the early version of Google. These wooden drawers held the wonder’s of the world’s past and the future of the universe.

Football colours of our public schools

This framed poster was in a restaurant in Silver Spring. Aside from being yellowed with age, and reflecting the curious British tendency for the superfluous “u,” the poster is also intriguing for the locale: the restaurant is part of a French Canadian-owned chain.

Football colours of our public schools.

Football colours of our public schools.

Adam the First

Genesis states that man was formed from dust of the ground, and this first man, Adam, went on with Eve to populate the Earth. This happened before 4000 BC, according to Bishop James Ussher (1581-1656), who precisely dated the creation of everything as occurring the night before Sunday, October 23, 4004 BC.

Modern cosmological evidence puts the date of the universe a bit earlier, roughly 13.75 billion years ago, give or take a few decades. Presumably the first human came after this, though the exact date depends on how you define “first human.”

But this large placard, in Howard County, Maryland, suggests Adam the First dates back to sometime before 1668. This opens up the intriguing possibility that Adam is younger than Bishop Ussher, which would certainly be a surprise to the Bishop.

Adam the First

Adam the First.

Shades of Twilight and vampires

When you awake to find Post-It notes on the refrigerator, kitchen cabinets, kitchen table, and various doors that say this:

No food until blood is drawn

No food until blood is drawn. Is the vampire apocalypse imminent? (iPhone photo by Lawrence I. Charters)

can there be any doubt about a forthcoming vampire apocalypse?

Though I do admit that the methodology of the prophecy is unique. There were no angels on high, no frenzied visions by a virgin stomping grapes in the hot sun, no sense of having your body and mind occupied by a supernatural presence. None of that.

Vampires apparently use Post-It notes. It makes you wonder if they also tweet.

Newt Gingrich’s campaign book

In mid December, Newt Gingrich made a pledge which read, in part:

“I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.”

I’m guessing Gingrich hopes no one knows how to look stuff up on the Web. Search for the definition of “chutzpah,” and you’ll find his photo.

But, rather than be simply critical, I will offer this helpful suggestion: his campaign should have a book on this theme. I’m nominating this book, discovered at a Giant supermarket. Note the subtitle.


Newt Gingrich

Messiah Sing-Along: The Libretto

When we decided to go to the sing-along at the Kennedy Center, we had no idea how many people would show up. Nor did we realize how excited they would be to participate, how well accomplished they were as singers, how well versed they were in the music…

Everyone, it seemed, had a well-worn copy of the libretto. So we bought a copy, too.

Libretto to Handel's Messiah

Libretto to Handel's Messiah

Sing-along Messiah at the Kennedy Center

On a cold winter’s night, a band of 2,500 crazed individuals lined up at the Kennedy Center for free tickets to the annual Messiah sing-along. Between the wind whipping in from the Potomac and the poor light, it was an interesting test of stamina, fortitude, imagination (what to do during the lengthy wait) and tunefulness; many in the crowd practiced singing from Handel’s lengthy libretto, or singing a wide number of other pieces from an equally wide number of genres. Others engaged in the usual DC-area gossip (“Do you have any job openings at your agency?” “That tax bill will be dead on arrival.” “Do you know of any inexpensive apartments in Georgetown?” “That last novel had a particularly Stygian cast to it.”), wondered where they could get something to eat, or played with their smart phones.

Once in the building, there was another wait as the line crept slowly to the gentleman dispensing tickets, then yet another wait as the crowd milled about the lobby prior to the doors opening. Fortunately, all the tickets, while free, had assigned seating, so there was no mad scramble but, rather, an ordered incoming tide filling the concert hall.

Then: two hours of Baroque music featuring the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, three conductors, and the Metropolitan Chorus, the Fort Washington Community Corus, the Northern Virginia Chorale, the NVCC Annandale Chorale, and the Prince George’s Choral Society, plus the 2,500 somewhat chilled holders of free tickets.