Daily Update: Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Yom Hashoah2 and Bernadette Soubirous

Last night at sunset began Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today is also the Optional Memorial of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, Religious (died 1879).

On Yom HaShoah most Jewish communities hold a solemn ceremony, but there is no institutionalized ritual accepted by all Jews for this day. Lighting memorial candles and reciting the Kaddish (the prayer for the departed) are common. Ceremonies and services are held at schools, military bases and by other public and community organizations. At 10:00 am on Yom HaShoah, sirens are sounded throughout Israel for two minutes. During this time people cease from action and stand at attention; cars stop and drivers emerge from them, even on the highways; and the whole country comes to a standstill as people pay silent tribute to the dead. Today’s Saint was born in 1844 at Lourdes, Hautes-Pyrénées, France. She was the oldest of six children in a very poor family and was hired out as a servant from age 12 to 14. On February 11, 1858, around the time of her first Communion, she was out gathering firewood and bones with her sister and a friend at the grotto of Massabielle outside Lourdes when she had an experience that completely changed her life and the town of Lourdes where she had lived. It was on this day that Bernadette claimed she had the first of 18 visions of what she termed “a small young lady” (ua petita damisela (Classical) or uo petito damizelo (Mistralian)) standing in a niche in the rock. Her sister and her friend stated that they had seen nothing. On her next visit, she said that the “beautiful lady” asked her to return to the grotto every day for fifteen days. At first her mother was embarrassed by the attention, and tried to forbid her daughter from going to the grotto. The supposed apparition did not identify herself until the seventeenth vision, although the townspeople who believed she was telling the truth assumed she saw the Virgin Mary. Bernadette never claimed it to be Mary, calling what she saw simply “Aquerò” (“that one”). Bernadette described the lady as wearing a white veil, a blue girdle, and with a golden rose on each foot; she also held a rosary of pearls. After the apparitions ceased, she moved into a house with the Sisters of Nevers at Lourdes where she lived, worked, and learned to read and write. The sisters cared for the sick and indigent, and at age 22 they admitted Bernadette into their order since she was both. Always sick herself, and often mistreated by her superiors (who assumed she must be vainglorious about the apparitions), she died with a prayer for Mary’s aid on her lips. She is the Patron Saint of Lourdes, France, of shepherds and shepherdesses, and of people ridiculed for their faith, and her aid is invoked against poverty and bodily illness.

Before I woke up at 9:00 am, Richard gathered up the trash and put the trash can out on the curb. I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, continued with the Weekly Computer Maintenance, continued with my laundry, and read the morning papers while eating my breakfast toast. I then finished my laundry, and started ironing my Casino pants, apron, and shirts.

At 1:00 pm I headed out into town; my first stop was the bank, where I cashed a check. At the Hit-n-Run I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing, and at Wal-Mart I purchased my salad supplies.

When I arrived back home at 2:00 pm, Richard had already gone to bed for the day. I finished the Weekly Computer Maintenance, did some Advance Daily Update Drafts for my weblog, finished ironing my Casino pants, apron, and shirts, and made my lunch salads for tomorrow and Sunday. At 4:30 pm I watched Jeopardy!, then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update. When I finish with the computer, I will start the Weekly Virus Scan going before I go to bed.

We have no Saints to honor tomorrow, so we will instead note that on tomorrow’s date in 1961 was the failed uprising against Fidel Castro’s Cuba known as the Bay of Pigs. Richard and I will return to the casino for the start of our work week, and on my breaks I will start reading The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman on my Nook. In the afternoon after lunch I will try to get caught up on some stuff. Our #2 ranked LSU Baseball team will be playing the first game of an away three-game series with Georgia tomorrow evening.

Our Parting Quote on this Thursday afternoon comes to us from Edward N. Lorenz, American mathematician and meteorologist. Born in 1917 in West Hartford, Connecticut, he studied mathematics at both Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. From 1942 until 1946 he served as a weather forecaster for the United States Army Air Corps. After his return from the war he decided to study meteorology and earned a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1943 and a doctoral degree from the same institution in 1948. He then joined the staff of the Meteorological Department at MIT in 1948. During the 1950s Lorenz became skeptical of the appropriateness of the linear statistical models in meteorology, as most atmospheric phenomena involved in weather forecasting were non-linear. While researching this issue he became a an assistant professor at MIT in 1955 and was promoted to full professor in 1962. His work culminated in the publication of his 1963 paper Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, and with it, the foundation of Chaos Theory. The publication of Lorenz’s paper in 1963 did not immediately attract attention beyond his own field. In 1972 he gave a paper (for which he had not decided on a title) at the 139th meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and, according to Lorenz, his talk was billed as “Predictability: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”. By the mid-1970s, with the rise of similar work by Bernard Mandelbrot and others, the term, “butterfly effect” had become a subject of debate which seemed to affect a wide range of academic disciplines, and Lorenz’s paper began to be cited regularly. Late in his career, he found himself an unexpectedly fashionable figure within the academy. Lorenz was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1975, became head of the Meteorological Department at MIT in 1977 (a post he held until 1981), and in 1983 he shared the $50,000 Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, established to recognize fields not eligible for Nobel Prizes. In 1987 he became Emeritus Professor of Meteorology at MIT. In 1991 he received the Kyoto Prize for earth and planetary sciences. He was an avid outdoorsman, who enjoyed hiking, climbing, and cross-country skiing. Lorenz kept up with these pursuits until very late in his life, and managed to continue most of his regular activities until only a few weeks before his death (died 2008): “We should not be too quick to conclude that we have all the information needed for one purpose or another when we have records, even if lengthy ones, of only a few variables.”

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