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Archive for September 12th, 2005

A Few More Hurricane Notes

Including surprising info about the global warming question. By the way, for a very vivid account of a really big hurricane, I recommend Isaac’s Storm, by Erik Larsen, about the Galveston hurricane of 1900. Although it wasn’t really a great idea to start it a few days before Hurricane Katrina. I had always assumed that no warning of hurricanes was possible then, but that’s only partly true. Obviously they couldn’t track them as we can now, but they weren’t totally in the dark, either: the science of meteorology was beginning to show results, there was a large network of scrupulous trained observers with good instruments, and the telegraph existed, including cables in the Gulf of Mexico which allowed–for instance–Cuban observers to report a storm instantly. Why none of this availed in Galveston is partly a story of human mistakes. One interesting sidelight for Catholics is that a Cuban priest apparently had a better track record than the U.S. Weather Bureau.

Note: I’m not providing, as is semi-customary on blogs, a link to the Amazon.com listing for this book. That makes it too easy for them.

Maclin Horton

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What’s That Noise?

Like a lot of people, I’ve done my share and more of griping about liturgical music of the Glory & Praise variety. But I’ve noticed over the past year or two that it wasn’t bothering me as much as it used to, and I realized that was because I was just ignoring it.

I think I reached a new stage in this development yesterday. I walked in to Mass a few minutes late, when the processional was still in progress, slipped into a pew, and stood there trying to collect my thoughts. I became aware that I was being slightly bothered by a noise of some kind, then realized with a shock that this "noise" was the processional hymn, one of the soupy G&P kind, sung to a clanking piano. No particular offense to the pianist: the piano is not my favorite instrument at best, and it nearly always sounds lost, tinny, and clanky when used as a simple accompaniment in church.

So. My mind has now adjusted to this music by dealing with it in much the same way that it would deal with, say, construction noises: trying to tune it out more or less automatically. This is pretty sad but I guess it’s better than fuming.

Maclin Horton

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