Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction, Library Edition

Fact: There are libraries in the world today that have security bats living inside of them. That’s right, bats! Why? Because bats eat book-damaging bugs. During the day, these bats sleep; but at night, they become an army of vengeance upon these pesky insects.  The only downside is the clean-up in the morning (but in my opinion, no upside can make up for that downside). Fact: The oldest library in the world dates from the 7th century BC. It was established in Ninevah (now modern-day Iraq) by Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria (668–c.630 BC), and housed over 30,000 cuneiform tablets.  Not a fact: The oldest librarian in the world dates from 7 to 9 pm on weekends. Fact: Overdue books bring in big bucks.  In 2016, the San Jose Public Library reported collecting $6.8 million in delinquent fees. Apparently, 39% of its members were guilty of not returning their books on

How They Did It

Okay, before we go any farther, we all need to practice our detective voice. Here are three lines from the great movie/book, The Maltese Falcon. Once you can say each one of these lines with the proper snarl, then you are ready to read the rest of the post. We will start off with an easy one. Sam Spade says to Effie, his secretary: “You’re a good man, sister.”  Sam Spade says to the tough guy, Joel Cairo (played by Peter Lorre): “When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it.” And last, as the police are carting away the bad guys, the chief detective asks Spade what that black statue of a falcon is and Spade sums it all up with this great line: “The stuff that dreams are made of.” Okay, having now graduated from detective school, we are ready for today’s mystery. We walk into a room,

Mark’s Gospel Is for Failures

I read a story this week about a guy who, when he was quite young, received some life-changing wisdom from his father. His father said, “Knowledge is power,” and then attributed those words to Francis Bacon. But the boy heard his father saying, “Knowledge is power. France is bacon.” For years afterwards, he struggled to figure out what the expression, “France is bacon,” meant and how those two sentences were connected. In high school, he once asked his teacher what this quote meant; and she went on and on for ten minutes explaining how knowledge was power, but stopped short of clarifying how France is bacon. Frustrated with her avoiding his true question, he cut to the chase, threw up his hands, and asked, “France is Bacon?” And she said, “Yes. Francis Bacon.” For the next decade, whenever someone said the famous line, “Knowledge is power,” he would always “finish”

Faster than You Can Cook Asparagus

Apparently, I know more Latin than I think. At least that’s what a website told me (“Mental Floss”). It listed off a bunch of English words and said they all were all Latin loanwords: words like memo, alibi, agenda, veto, alias, versus, etc. (i.e., all very common and very popular “English” words that I know and use often). And yes, “i.e.” and “etc.” are also Latin loanwords (or are they loan abbreviations?). And the following phrases are also all Latin (that’s right, in this post we are broadcasting “all Latin, all the time”): phrases like alma mater ("nourishing mother"), bona fide (“in good faith”), alter ego (“other self”) and vice versa (“position turned”). But not all is bright in Latin land. We also have a very sad Latin expression, barba non facit philosophum ("a beard does not make a philosopher”), which is very upsetting because I really want my beard to make it so! Here’s Point 1: A lot of people feel that

The Difference that Matthew Makes, Part 2

Let me give you some advice. It’s even good advice. First, from Henry David Thoreau: “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” That’s good advice. And now, from Fran Lebowitz: “Think before you speak. Read before you think.” Now, that is better advice! And third, from Saint Thomas Aquinas (the philosopher, not the high school): “Beware of the person of one book.” Now, that is the best advice yet! No wonder they name high schools after him! Ask anyone and they will tell you, it would be so much easier if we only had ONE gospel (“one gospel to rule them all; one gospel to combine them”). Why? Because four gospels give us headaches. Case in point, the cleansing of the temple. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus cleanses the temple on the Monday of Holy Week. On Friday of

The Difference that Matthew Makes

There was that old, old commercial for Life cereal. Two boys are staring at this bowl of unknown slop. One pushes it in front of the other. He pushes it back. Neither one wants to try it because they were told it was good for them, and they know that any cereal that is good for you tastes horrible. Finally, one of the kids comes up with a sure-fired test to find out how bad the cereal tastes. They slide the bowl over to Mikey who hates everything but, apparently, will try anything. Mikey digs in. The boys are ready for him to spew it out of his mouth in disgust but, instead, he scoops up a second spoonful! “He likes it! Mikey likes it!” Who knew tasting soggy cereal could be so rewarding! Here’s my confession (as if you didn’t know already): I love this stuff. I love thinking

The Difference that Luke Makes

P.J. O’Rourke once said, “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” I have several books that fit this description (and maybe even a few that serve that purpose!). One of my favorite books that I will never read cover-to-cover is called, Synopsis of the Four Gospels. Now, it is a great book, and I am very happy I have it (you can have it, too! Amazon has it for only $113.85; tell them Dane sent you!). Here’s what is so good about it. It divides all the stories found in all four gospels into 367 separate accounts and then puts them in order (from introductions to ascension). Then it places all the parallel accounts next to each other so you can see how each gospel compares to the other three (graphically comparing words, sentence structure and verb tenses). And if

Go to Top