Daily Update: Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Guardian Angels (The Guardian Angel, Pietro da Cortona) and Banned Books Week 2015

Today is the First Friday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Memorial of the Guardian Angels. And Banned Book Week continues.

The First Friday of each month is dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Turning to today’s Memorial, belief in the reality of angels, their mission as messengers of God, and man’s interaction with them, goes back to the earliest times. The concept of each soul having a personal guardian angel is also an ancient one, and a concept long accepted by the Church. The feast celebrating the angels who helped bring us to God began in many local calendars centuries ago, and was widely known by the 16th century. Pope Paul V placed a feast venerating the angels on the general calendar on September 27, 1608. Ferdinand of Austria requested that it be extended to all areas in the Holy Roman Empire. Initially placed after the feast of Michael the Archangel, it was seen as a kind of supplement to that date. Pope Clement X (died 1676) changed the date of the feast to its present date of October 2nd and elevated the status of the Feast, while Pope Leo XIII further elevated the status of the Feast in 1883. Saint John XXIII, Pope, wrote a Meditation for the Feast of the Guardian Angels, which read, in part: “We must remember how admirable was the intention of divine Providence in entrusting to the angels the mission of watching over all mankind, and over individual human beings, lest they should fall victims to the grave dangers which they encounter.” The Guardian Angels are the Patron Saints of Spanish police officers. And Banned Books Week continues, so go read Justine by the Marquis de Sade today!

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Once we clocked in, Richard was on Pai Gow (he did switch places with the dealer on Mini Baccarat late in the shift, because she was falling asleep), and I was on Mississippi Stud. I did talk to the Assistant Shift Manager about my vacation, but they cannot fix anything until the Scheduler does the schedule, which will be in about two weeks.

On our way home I continued reading The Mauritius Command by Patrick O’Brian, and nearly finished reading it. Once home I read the morning Paper and ate my lunch salad. I then took a nap, which lasted for the rest of the day, so I did not do any First Friday Devotions, and I did not do my Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the First Saturday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Optional Memorial of Saint Théodore Guérin, Virgin (died 1856). Tomorrow is also the anniversary of when Hurricane Lili made landfall in Louisiana in 2002 (not that I was here to experience it). And Banned Books Week ends tomorrow. On my breaks at work I will do my Daily Update via WordPress for Android. In the afternoon I will go to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. And at 6:00 pm our #9 ranked LSU Tigers will play a home game with the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

Our Parting Quote on this First Friday afternoon comes to us from Abraham Nemeth, American mathematician and inventor. Born in 1918 in New York City, he was raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in a large family of Hungarian Jewish immigrants who spoke Yiddish. He was blind from birth from a combination of macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. Nemeth attended public schools at first but did most of his primary and secondary education at the Jewish Guild for the Blind school in Yonkers, New York. His undergraduate studies were at Brooklyn College where he studied psychology; he did not major in mathematics on the advice of his academic advisors He earned a Master of Arts degree in Psychology from Columbia University. However, tired of what he felt were unfulfilling jobs at agencies of the blind, and with the encouragement of his first wife Florence, he decided to continue his education in mathematics. Nemeth taught part-time at various colleges in New York. Though his employers were sometimes reluctant to hire him knowing that he was blind, his reputation grew as it became apparent that he was a capable mathematician and teacher. Nemeth distinguished himself from many other blind people by being able to write visual print letters and mathematical symbols on paper and blackboards just like sighted people, a skill he learned as a child. Nemeth said that this skill allowed him to succeed in mathematics, during an era without much technology, during which even Braille was difficult to use in mathematics. During the 1950s he moved to Detroit, Michigan to accept a position at the University of Detroit working with Keith Rosenberg, where he remained for 30 years. As the coursework became more advanced, Nemeth found that he needed a braille code that would more effectively handle the kinds of math and science material he was tackling. Ultimately, he developed the Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation, which was published in 1952. The Nemeth Code has gone through four revisions since its initial development, and continues to be widely used today. Nemeth is also responsible for the rules of MathSpeak, a system for orally communicating mathematical text. In the course of his studies, Nemeth found that he needed to make use of sighted readers to read otherwise inaccessible math texts and other materials. Likewise, he needed a method for dictating his math work and other materials for transcription into print. The conventions Nemeth developed for efficiently reading mathematical text out loud have evolved into MathSpeak. During the late 1960s he studied computer science and began the university’s program in that subject. He retired from the University of Detroit in 1985. Nemeth was instrumental in the development of Unified English Braille (UEB) from 1991 to at least 2001, though he eventually parted ways with others developing that code, and instead worked on a parallel effort called the Universal Braille System (sometimes abbreviated as NUBS with his name appended to the front). As of 2012, UEB was officially adopted by BANA as the standard for literary braille, but Nemeth Code was also fully retained as an optional official coding system. Work on NUBS may continue, or it might be merged into a future rules-update to the official Nemeth Code (the most recent official rules-update to Nemeth Code was in 2013). Nemeth was still working on the Nemeth code when he died. Nemeth had been active in the Jewish community since childhood, and since his retirement from academic mathematics he had been transcribing Hebrew prayer books into Braille. Nemeth was an active member of the National Federation of the Blind. He wrote several short stories and made speeches for the NFB about his life as a blind mathematician. On February 11, 2006, Nemeth suffered a massive heart attack, but recovered and was well enough to attend the July 2006 NFB convention and accept the 2006 Louis Braille award which the organization gave him. On July 9, 2009, he was honored by the NFB as a co-recipient of the Dr. Jacob Bolotin award (died 2013): “Now I want you to know that in recent years I have read two obituaries of myself. The first time when my brother passed away I was very well known at the Jewish Braille Institute and my sister called them to inform them of my brother’s death. My brother’s name was Aaron. And the busy secretary wrote down A. Nemeth died. The following month my obituary appeared in the Jewish Prayer Review. I was very flattered…So next time was about two years ago. No, four years ago. My wife died in March of the year 2000. And somebody mistook her death for my death and published an obituary for me in the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness that is published by the American Foundation for the Blind. They had to publish a retraction and labels for the libraries. So anyway I was very pleased with both obituaries.”

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