February 25, 2009

A toast to Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian penitential season of Lent, which occurs during the 40 days before Easter. Actually, there are 46 days, but the Sundays don't technically count.

The traditional religious ceremonies for this day involve the imposition of ashes on the foreheads while the priest intones "Dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return." Some would say it's kind of a downer as religious holidays go, but it works for me. Whenever I have the chance, I try to attend services on that day.

In the old days, Lent was a time of fasting. Even today, many people will either do something extra or give something up for this period.

During my more religiously observant periods, I've actually done crazy things, like giving up all consumption of alcoholic beverages for the whole season. (This was partly for religious reasons, but mostly to make sure I could.)

I found I could do it without much problem--in fact the practice helped me understand why "lento" is a Spanish word for slow--but it had the curious side effect of making me lose all interest in religion.

Since my interest in religious matters is at a scandalously low level at present, I have decided not to imperil my immortal soul by abstention. So tonight, I plan to raise a glass to my old friend Lent.


FIRESIDE CHAT? Here's the text of President Obama's speech and one reaction to it.

THE EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES (OR THE LACK THEREOF). Here's an item on rethinking the meaning of wealth.

BAD JOB. This article discusses the right wing war against unions.

ALMOST THERE. Here's the latest on the Massey Energy/Don Blankenship/Brent Benjamin case now before the US Supreme Court.

COOPERATION WORKS, at least in (game) theory. If you're interested in this topic search "game theory" in this blog's archives for an earlier series.

URGENT LIZARD TAIL UPDATE here. Sneak preview: some can somersault.


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