The Long View 2005-02-25: The Devil, Babble, & Chant

Mary's Crown of Stars

Mary's Crown of Stars

John has an interesting aside here about the official languages of the EU. With Brexit, the number will in theory drop by one, but in practice, English is already the language all of the European countries have in common with each other.

The Devil, Babble, & Chant

As the cost rises of caring for the increasing elderly population, we can expect to see more headlines like this: Justices Accept Oregon Case Weighing Assisted Suicide. That's the case in which the federal government claims that Oregon's assisted-suicide law violates federal drug-control rules, because suicide is not a federally approved use of controlled drugs.

I think the medicalization of suicide is a poor notion, but the State of Oregon is clearly right here: the states define acceptable medical practice, if for no other reason than that there is no detailed body of federal regulation to do so. John Ashcroft's Justice Department did no one any good by pursuing an argument so obviously doomed to fail. In various oblique ways, the impending decision against the federal government will aid the medical euthanasia lobby in the coming renewed effort to extend the Griswald-Roe-Casey autonomy right to include suicide.

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So how many oceans do we have in this solar system now? We can count three of the four Galilean moons, with varying degrees of confidence, and maybe Titan, though the ocean there seems to be made of lighter-fluid and fairy dust and it disappears whenever you try to take its picture. If lots of frozen water will do, then maybe we have to add another one:

A frozen sea, surviving as blocks of pack ice, may lie just beneath the surface of Mars, suggest observations from Europe's Mars Express spacecraft. The sea is just 5° north of the Martian equator...This evidence suggests the plates are not just imprints left by ice that has now completely vanished. Crater counts indicate the age of the plates is about 5 million years.

I am starting to think that we have just been unlucky about where we have been looking on Mars. One of these days, a rover might look around a rock and see an endothermic petunia.

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Meanwhile, extraordinary variety persists on Earth.

The European Union has been operating in 20 official languages since ten new member states joined the legislative body last year...EU institutions currently require around 2,000 written-text translators. They also need 80 interpreters per language per day, half of which operate at the European Parliament.

Note that this translation enterprise is twice as big as that of the UN, which makes do with just six official languages. And as a matter of fact, the EU really runs on English, French, and German. The idea seems to be that the EU has to accommodate all those minor languages because it is not staffed by diplomats, who would be appointed because of their language skills, but by politicians, who are there because someone elected them.

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Peggy Noonan has provided a bit more evidence for the spread of the Second Religiousness, this time in the public statements of Senator Hillary Clinton of New York State:

Forget her prepared speeches, put aside her moderate statements on Iraq and abortion. This is how you know she's running for president in 2008. Ten days ago a reporter interviewed her in the halls of the Senate (another kind of cloister) and asked if she planned to run for president. She did not say, "I'm too busy serving the people of New York to think about the future." She did not say, "Oh, I already have a heckuva lot on my plate." She said, "I have more than I can say grace over right now."

Do prayers have a maximum reference capacity? Now that's a theological toughie.

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My own religion-related activities as limited by my intelligence, as I discovered when I tried to upgrade the page on my website that promotes a local Latin Mass. Since we do mostly Gregorian Chant, I decided to include a sample on the page, so I went the monk's mouth, the Abbey of Solesmes. There were lots of chant samples there, and a disclaimer assured me that no rights attached to the files. Fine. I would just insert one of those RealPlayer files into my page as background.

Those of you who have already encountered RealPlayer and its wicked ways are already laughing.

In contrast, I have nothing but praise for NCH Swift Sound. They provide a menu of free audio recording and editing tools, which are just appetizers for the serious software. That's more than I need, but anyone who works with audio should take a look.

In any case, I did manage an update to my Latin Chant page. One of these days, I should read a book about programming.

Copyright © 2005 by John J. Reilly

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