Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Serendippling Kipling

Well, I was going to go find "McAndrew's Hymn" by Kipling and quote the engineer stuff in that in honor of Jimmy Doohan's passing, but in the process I found a Canadian engineering order instead! The mark of it is an Iron Ring, made of cold iron.

Kipling was asked to write up a ceremony for it. This was of course like catnip for him. Interestingly, he apparently decided to avoid the whole oath/affirmation thing by calling it an 'obligation'.

So if you ever see a Canadian engineer wearing an iron ring, you'll know he or she went through the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer and promised this:

The Obligation

I _____, in the presence of these my betters and my equals in my Calling, bind myself upon my Honour and Cold Iron, that, to the best of my knowledge and power, I will not henceforward suffer or pass, or be privy to the passing of, Bad Workmanship or Faulty Material in aught that concerns my works before mankind as an engineer, or in my dealings with my own Soul before my Maker.

My Time I will not refuse; my Thought I will not grudge; my Care I will not deny towards the honour, use, stability and perfection of any works to which I may be called to set my hand.

My Fair Wages for that work I will openly take. My Reputation in my Calling I will honourably guard; but I will in no way go about to compass or wrest judgement or gratification from any one with whom I may deal. And further, I will early and warily strive my uttermost against professional jealousy and the belittling of my working-colleagues in any field of their labour.

For my assured failures and derelictions I ask pardon beforehand of my betters and my equals in my Calling here assembled, praying that in the hour of my temptations, weakness and weariness, the memory of this my Obligation and of the company before whom it was entered into, may return to me to aid, comfort and restrain.

Upon Honour and Cold Iron, God helping me, these things I purpose to abide.

Excellent stuff, ne? You can learn more about these folks at> This page has a good picture of the ring but repeats an apparently prevalent urban legend that the rings are made from the metal of the collapsed Quebec Bridge.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Meanwhile, in Real News

Hurricane Emily is looking pretty scary. I'm praying for folks down there, believe me.

Harry Potter Roundup

Harry Potter came out this weekend. I enjoyed it, and I'm eager to read the next book. But of course many fans are disappointed because events did not go to their liking. This lessens the enjoyment for the rest of us.

But what really distressed me this weekend were the discussions by Catholics who think that if fantasy novels have witches and wizards in them, they must be evil. Or draw people toward evil. Or have a chance of drawing people toward evil, or at least toward neopaganism and the occult. Or maybe they wouldn't draw anyone toward evil at all, but Christians should avoid them anyway just out of a general sense of fitness.

In other news, Jesus announced that since there are alcoholics in the world, he'd been dead wrong in choosing to change water into wine for his first miracle, even though there were only two people with drinking problems in attendance, they hadn't had a relapse in years, and his mom had posted relatives to make sure they did what they'd promised and kept off the sauce.

After that, the subject broadened to "Dungeons and Dragons is evil and occultic". I got sick of this one back in the eighties. It's just not true.

Why do people hate imagination so much?

I realize this isn't exactly oppression compared to all the other bad things going on in the world. But it just goes on and on, never stopping. I'm sick of it.

I'd better stay out of the comment boxes for a while.