Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Good evening Mr. & Mrs. Catholic, and all you other Christians at sea, welcome to another edition of the Newsreel. Despite all the budget cuts around the globe, some scientists are still securing grants to conduct studies. Let’s take a look at a few, why don’t we.

You Only Live Twice

DATELINE: LONDON - According to a semi-serious study published in the British Medical Journal, “James Bond's famous catchphrase ‘shaken, not stirred’ may have stemmed from his inability to stir his drinks due to an alcohol-induced tremor affecting his hands.” Basing their assumptions on Bond’s alcohol consumption in Fleming’s original novels, the researchers determined that 007 drank more than four times the recommended limit of alcohol and probably had the shakes because of it. “We have shown that Bond's alcohol intake is of sufficiently high frequency and duration to cause such cerebellar damage,’ the researchers said. ‘He was unlikely to be able to stir his drinks, even if he would have wanted to.” We suppose that’s just another reason the Catechism suggests we cultivate the virtue of temperance to help us “avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine.” After all, we wouldn’t want a vice to cause us to develop the shakes right as we’re trying to disarm that nuclear warhead in the depths of Fort Knox.

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DATELINE: QUEENSLAND – By comparing the demographics of the survivors of the Titanic and the Lusitania, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology have determined that “the time people have during survival situations might affect whether they behave selfishly or socially.” According to the study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, male passengers who had a longer time to consider their impending doom tended to act more chivalrously and in line with social expectations, whereas those who had little time to think things over seemed to follow an every man for himself course of action. As the article explains it, “when facing danger, a person's brain creates a surge of adrenaline, helping them to react quickly. This fight-or-flight reflex may last a few minutes. Not until the immediate threat has passed or the brain hormones stabilize do higher-order thoughts, such as social considerations, come back into play.” From a Catholic standpoint this seems reasonable, as the Church, following Aquinas, recognizes self preservation as a fundamental good. The Catechism notes that “love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder.” But quoting the Gospel of John, it also reminds us that “greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” In short, while the men who abandoned ship on the Lusitania shouldn’t be judged too harshly, those who remained on the Titanic so women and children might live are to be praised.

Look Who's Talking Now

DATELINE: THE INTERNET – A massive online survey of 39 people indicates that humans may use the same aural clues to determine the emotional states of babies as they do that of dogs. According to the results, “shorter calls—whether human or dog—were regarded as more emotionally positive than longer calls; and higher pitched samples were rated as more emotionally intense than lower pitched sounds for both species.” Why bother testing the obvious, you might ask? Well, “by following these same simple rules, they conclude, it may be possible to develop easily recognized artificial emotions in social robots.” Yes, it looks like scientists are already doing their best to find a way to make Spike Jonze’s Her a reality. You can read the reviews by Sr. Helena & Catholic Skywalker to find out why that might not be such a great idea.

And on that cryptic note, we’ll leave you, as always, with the immortal words of the great Les Nessman. Good evening, and may the good news be yours.

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