A Piano Player

Vonnegut is possibly the most monotonous of excellent authors. He has one topic–modern mass society–and but one statement to make on it, “there’s only one rule I know of, babies, goddamnit, you’ve got to be kind”.

Player Piano is no exception to this rule. Vonnegut gives one of his most impressionable tales of modern society, largely because of its disturbing prescience. Silicon chips have replace vacuum tubes, but the slow and steady trend of humans replacing themselves with machines continues; our desire for new for newness sake continues unabated.

Though Vonnegut is often styled as absurdist, Piano Player is a modern fairy tale. Like every fairy tale it takes the stories men use to explain the world, whether they be fairies or scientific progress, and follows their logic to the end. Piano Player takes at face value the arguments of politicians, economists, city planners and tech entrepreneurs the world over. With characteristic wit and subterfuge, Vonnegut brings up the uneasy underpinnings of these thinkers: that man is little more than a series of “if-then” statements, a compilation of various regular laws and tendencies.  In doing so, Vonnegut asks if perhaps the push for material progress as such and understanding entails has pushed out our humanity.   Piano Player makes no effort to prove the pushers of progress wrong—it takes the more disturbing tact of asking whether they have the right.

On Keeping Our Kids Catholic: The Indispensable Minimum

This is just the thing. Speaking from my experience, the ones who wander are generally the ones who were given all milk one waynor another. Either Bonhoeffer’s “cheap grace” or a dogmatic fundamentalism with inane answers to worldly challenges to the faith.

God-Haunted Lunatic

I’ve found that being a parent is about
learning to embrace your inner hypocrite.
~ Tom Kenny

The word is out from Rod Dreher that “Catholicism is failing in America.” Dreher looked at an interpretation of the recent Pew Research Center report on American religiosity, and he paints a pretty bleak picture. Roman Catholics are already falling behind Evangelicals in terms of conversion and member retention, and within a generation or two we’ll be a sorry minority. “If current trends continue,” Dreher writes, “Catholicism would come very close to collapsing in this country.”

young-adults-praying-montageWhat to do? To the ramparts! Look at the Evangelicals – they’re winning! So, we need more programs! More marketing! More jazzy youth meetings and young adult encounters. Guitar Masses and drums – or no-guitar, no-drum Masses, depending on focus group results. “Become all things to all men,” as Paul modeled, and then some! More internet! More…

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Is It Time to Hunker Down?

Lets all move to Chile. The Randian Objectivists have a valley over there they tried to start a colony on before things went predictably Randian.

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

As Ireland votes overwhelmingly for same sex marriage and the rest of the Western world,The Benedict Option it seems, can’t wait to follow their example, is it time to throw in the towel in the cultural slugfest?

As radical Islam advances giving us nightmares and as the economic “recovery” looks increasingly shaky is it time to hunker down?

Over at The Week Damon Linker analyzes what Rod Dreher calls “The Benedict Option”.

This is the idea that the church will follow the pattern of St Benedict. To understand what this means we have to understand the social conditions in Benedict’s day.

It was the end of the fifth century. The once mighty Roman Empire was collapsing. Economic decline was forcing a retreat of the Roman armies across the empire. Famine and plague decimated the population. Moral decay ate away at the family and robbed the population of…

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UAV Coaxial Copter Uses Unique Drive Mechanism


Personal UAV’s are becoming ubiquitous these days, but there is still much room for improvement. Researchers at [Modlab] understand this, and they’ve come up with a very unique method of controlling pitch, yaw, and roll for a coaxial ‘copter using only the two drive motors.

In order to control all of these variables with only two motors, you generally need a mechanism that adjusts the pitch of the propeller blades. Usually this is done by mounting a couple of tiny servos to the ‘copter. The servos are hooked up to the propellers with mechanical linkages so the pitch of the propellers can be adjusted on the fly. This works fine but it’s costly, complicated, and adds weight to the vehicle.

[Modlab’s] system does away with the linkages and extra servos. They are able to control the pitch of their propellers using just the two drive motors. The propellers are connected to the motors…

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