Tuesday, December 6, 2016

London - Mesilla Park - Rome

December 6, 2016 The Memorial of St. Nicholas Peace and Good, This past week I travelled back across the Atlantic to attend a meeting of the three definitories (councils) of the three provinces in the Mid-West and California. I was just an interested spectator at this meeting as the friars spoke about how they could collaborate in their ministries and other activities. There was a very good spirit at the meeting which was the first of what we hope will be a continuous dialogue. The three definitories then met individually, and I was able to attend a part of each of the meetings for different reasons. The meetings took place at Mesilla Park, New Mexico. This is about a half hour west of El Paso, and we have a very nice retreat house there where the friars are always incredibly hospitable. Friday I flew back to Europe, arriving on Saturday, two days before my luggage. It actually arrived a couple of hours after me, but the local company that was supposed to deliver it was very remiss in getting it to me. They called three times, morning, afternoon and evening, each time giving an expected arrival time. I will be here in Rome now until Christmas day (with a probably two day trip up to Geneva to take care of some business). This is a good chance to catch up with my jet lag. I finished some books: Berlin Nights by Nick Paumgarten This is a troubling travel article on a visit to the night life in what used to be East Berlin. It gives the word decadence a new meaning. The music heard at the clubs visited is mostly techno rock, but it is not the music that attracts the crowds that visit the clubs. It is sex and drugs and drink, etc. It speaks of a society that has lost all sense of its values and lives to be entertained (but in a sad, confused manner). The Sages by Charles Morris This is an account of three famous financiers: George Soros, Warren Buffett and Paul Voelker. The first two were investors and the last was the head of the FED during a period of inflation which his policies gradually broke. Soros is famous for his international investments which include currency trading (and possibly manipulation) while Buffett is famous for investing in companies which he trusts (and his tendency to treat the companies with respect and not use them for his own profit). The book gives a short biography of each figure and an overview of his financial strategies. It is quite informative. Big Russ and Me by Tim Russert This is a bit of a biography of the father of Tim Russert, big Russ, who taught Tim Russert many of the values that led him to be a tremendous success on the Sunday morning press interview programs. Russert was known as a fundamentally decent man who was always well prepared for his interviews. He would ask the tough questions, but in a respectful way. An added plus to this book is that he is from Buffalo, my home town. He referred to many of the places and foods which I knew growing up. This is a warm and wise presentation. Tabula Rasa by Ruth Downie This is a volume in the Medicus series. They speak about a doctor in one of the Roman legions who is stationed in Britain and is married to a native Britain named Tillie. They are called upon to investigate various mysteries. In this case, one of the doctor’s assistants disappears. In the meantime, a British child sees someone burying a person in the construction project that would become Hadrian’s Wall in northern Britain. Finally, a native child disappears and the locals blame the Romans for the kidnapping. The action is well written, the dialog quite good, and the Medicus and his wife are likeable. I recommend this series of anyone who wants to get a sense of life in the Roman legions. The Peanut Puzzle by Jerome Groopman This is a study of the cause of food allergies in small children. The common wisdom had been that it was better not to expose very small children to possibly allergic elements (milk, peanuts, etc.) until the child has developed his/her immunity at around six months old. Now the current seems to be heading in the opposite direction – that it is better that the child be exposed early so that the child might develop a normal reaction to these allergens. Furthermore, studies have been conducted on how to desensitize children who are allergic. Scientists have found that eating cooked foods that have the allergens tends to change the form of the allergens sufficiently that the child might not have a reaction. Then, if the child continues to eat those cooked allergens, that child might very well develop the ability to digest normally even uncooked forms of the same allergen. Our Body the ecosystem by Virginia Hughes This is an essay which concerns experiments done on the bacteria that grow upon the skin of people with asthma and eczema. They are trying to figure out whether the make-up of those suffering more or less matches that of those who do not. Furthermore, they want to know if the make-up changes when someone is about to suffer from an attack of the disease. They do this all by taking small tissue samples and checking for a particular gene marker on the DNA to see which bacteria are present. Hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


Post a Comment