Sunday, July 31, 2005

Today's reading

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
Come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.

Hunger in the world always scares me a little. For some reason, it seems worse when I think that the real food comes from above.


I've got a metric buttload (as opposed to an imperial arseload) of gadgetry and computers in my home, providing various services to my family and our guests. Mail, multiple webservers, multiple webcams, monitoring services, web-enabled printers, MP3 servers, networking devices, and so on. Unfortunately, none of these devices are Rendezvous-enabled by default. Consumer devices that are rendezvous-enabled are just now starting to hit the market, and there are still very few of them.

Official Shotgun Rules

No thanks to Doomed0!



Section I The Basic Rules

Article 1: In order to call Shotgun, the caller must pronounce the word "Shotgun" as long as the driver verifies the call.

Article 2: Shotgun may only be called if all occupants of the vehicle are outside and directly on the way to the said vehicle.

Article 3: Early calls are strictly prohibited. Shotgun may only be called while walking toward the vehicle and only applies to the drive immediately forthcoming.

Shotgun can never be called while inside a vehicle or still technically on the way to the first location. For example, one can not get out of a vehicle and call Shotgun for the return journey.

Article 4: The driver has final say in all ties and disputes. The driver has the right to suspend or remove all shotgun privileges from one or more persons.

Researcher Confirms Abortion Drug Causes Rare Infection Killing Women

Providence, RI ( -- A Brown University researcher says the abortion drug RU 486 causes rare bacterial infections in women that are not usually seen anywhere else. An article scheduled to appear in the September issue of The Annals of Pharmacotherapy confirms the drug is responsible for the women's deaths.

During a pill-induced abortion, women take a two-part drug process.

The first drug, mifepristone, works by blocking the effects of progesterone, shutting off nutrition to the placenta and the developing baby. The second drug, misoprostol, is a cancer drug that is misused to cause contractions and expel the deceased unborn child.

Professor Ralph P. Miech, MD, Ph.D. writes that the antiprogesterone effects of mifepristone also cause changes in the cervix that allow C. sordellii, a common vaginal bacteria, to enter the cervical canal.

"C. sordellii thrives in this low-oxygen environment and derives nutrition from the decaying fetal tissue," Miech explains. Meanwhile, mifepristone produces other hormonal effects, known as antiglucocorticoid actions.

Dr. Miech proposes two models showing how those hormonal effects prevent the woman's immune system from fighting off the bacteria and, in fact, may help it spread. That combination can result in a septic shock -- the kind that killed the women taking the Mifeprix abortion pills.

A little on the Feminists for Life

Who are so much in the news as of late what with Robert's wife and all.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


I was searching on for a book on the most excellent NUnit testing framework when I came up with a lovely book with nude pictures of the French National Rubgy Team. Umm.

This si why I usually use

Episcopal lawsuits

A little canonical action to keep things interesting.

BOSTON (Reuters) - Nine U.S. Episcopal bishops plan to sue the bishop of Connecticut in religious court, a church spokesman said on Thursday, over the bishop's support for the church's first openly gay bishop.

Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith has suspended one priest and threatened five others who object to his support of Rev. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. The priests had asked to be put under the leadership of another bishop, a step the church says it cannot take.

Now Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan and eight others from mostly Southern and Midwestern states say they are preparing a suit charging Smith with "conduct unbecoming of a bishop" of the Episcopal Church.

"We are all praying for a peaceful resolution to this," said Frank Peter, a spokesman for Duncan.

In 2003 Smith voted in favor of Robinson's ordination, which has greatly divided the 77-million-member worldwide Anglican Church. He also has approved of the blessing of same-sex unions.

"We would prefer to find some way other than this deepening battle, but we refuse to allow this recent aggression to go unchecked or unchallenged," the nine clerics wrote in an open letter to Smith.

Bishops from Kansas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Texas and South Carolina signed the letter. They pledged to raise legal and financial support for the six Connecticut parishes at the center of the dispute.

In a letter posted on his Web site, Smith said the demands of the six priests to be placed under the authority of a different bishop "far exceed ... what the Church can offer."

Going against thousands of years of Christian tradition, going against dogma, and lying to the Lambeth Conference, that ECUSA can do. But priests being under the authority of a bishop besides the local ordinary . . . well clearly that's bizarre and unacceptable.

I'm confused.

Thanks to CWNews for the link.

Though this is also a time for a bit of reflection

It is always best to pray for those who have swerved from the path, rather than to grow angry. After all, we all screw up at some time in our lives. We may be screwing up right now. There's no way to "know" what's in someone's heart. Which is why it's always best to leave the hellfire and damnation up to God, and concentrate on more productive things, I think.

I hope Frist and co. get voted out of office so fast they won't know what hit them

I have little to no sympathy. Nor for Mrs. Regan. Nor for Hatch. Nor for Specter.

I swear, if Guliani runs as the Republican candidate, I'm going to vote for myself for President.

Friday, July 29, 2005

More info on the situation b/t the Vatican and Israel

The Vatican statement accused Israeli officials of deliberately distorting the historical record. The statement concluded with a blunt statement: "Affirmations that run counter to historical truth can advantage only those who seek to foment animosity and conflict, and certainly do not serve to improve the situation." The dispute between Israel and the Holy See began when the Israeli foreign ministry lashed out at Pope Benedict for not including Israel when he mentioned England, Egypt, Turkey, and Iraq as countries where suicide bombers had recently struck. The Israeli statement charged that the Pope had deliberately omitted mention of a bombing in Netanya 10 days earlier. Vatican officials at first brushed that accusation aside, pointing out that the Pope had merely mentioned the most recent attacks, and his blanket condemnation of all terrorist acts was clearly intended to cover the attack at Netanya as well.

The controversy flared further, however, when Nimrod Barkan, the Israeli minister for inter-religious affairs, told reporters that his government had frequently complained about the alleged failure of Pope John Paul II (bio - news) to speak out against Palestinian terrorism.

In its July 28 rebuttal, the Holy See replied that "John Paul II's declarations condemning all forms of terrorism, and condemning single acts of terrorism committed against Israel, were numerous and public." The statement was accompanied by a listing of some of the statements that Pope John Paul had made, between 1979 and 2005. It is "sad and surprising" that Israeli officials would not acknowledge the Pope's clear stance, the Vatican said.

The July 28 statement from the Holy See observed that in some cases, the Vatican felt unable to issue a public condemnation of terrorist strike on Israel because they "were sometimes followed by immediate Israeli reactions not always compatible with the norms of international law. It would, consequently, have been impossible to condemn the former and remain silent on the latter."

Showing unmistakable resentment of the Israeli effort to influence public statements from the Vatican, the July 28 statement added: "Just as the Israeli government understandably does not allow its pronouncements to be dictated by others, neither can the Holy See accept lessons and directives from any other authority concerning the orientation and contents of its own declarations." The strident and unexpected charges issued by the Israeli foreign ministry have caused serious damage to diplomatic ties between the Holy See and Israel. Some analysts, notably including the AsiaNews service, have suggested that the Israeli government deliberately launched a media offensive against the Pope in order to provide an excuse for the failure to conclude talks leading to a juridical-financial pact.

Irish Jews

An interesting something to look at, if you're confused, like myself.

So what is so bad about Roberts?

It's been a few weeks, and we still don't know exactly what John Roberts — if that is his real name — was doing when Roe v. Wade was decided. Working quietly in a college classroom? Playing pinball at the student union? Sitting in a darkened dorm mapping out escape routes for abortion clinic bombers? We just ... don't ... know.

Oh, sure: We've heard from the people who say they know him; we've heard about his charm and intelligence. (Like that means anything! Hitler was intelligent!) We've heard from both sides of the aisles about his temperament, rigorous sense of fairness and devotion to the Constitution. But other than that, and his previous extensive confirmation hearings, what do we know? NOTHING.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Muslim that LGF likes

Oh my. This is an intense article.

Save energy

Far better to save than to waste, and far cheaper too. Even my school does it, by switching to their generators when ConEd asks them to, which nets them sizable discounts, since ConEd can avoid having to design for a higher peak system capacity.

Male Unchastity

Sorry I haven't had the time to blog disquisitions lately. The new baby and the dissertation have swallowed up every last moment of my time, and that of my wife.

But those who know me may have heard my spiel on how the unchastity of straight men is to blame for the subsequent public acceptance of the perversions of feminism and homosexuality. Male unchastity preceded, and enabled, the legitimation of these initially niche vices. Eve tells me it is a thesis that has already been forwarded several times by various contemporary authors.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A little about Pelagius

One of my least favorite heretics. Unlike, say, Rambam? I donno.

Of far-reaching influence upon the further progress of Pelagianism was the friendship which Pelagius contracted in Rome with Caelestius, a lawyer of noble (probably Italian) descent. A eunuch by birth, but endowed with no mean talents, Caelestius had been won over to asceticism by his enthusiasm for the monastic life, and in the capacity of a lay-monk he endeavoured to convert the practical maxims learnt from Pelagius, into theoretical principles, which successfully propagated in Rome. St. Augustine, while charging Pelagius with mysteriousness, mendacity, and shrewdness, calls Caelestius (De peccat. orig., xv) not only "incredibly loquacious", but also open-hearted, obstinate, and free in social intercourse. Even if their secret or open intrigues did not escape notice, still the two friends were not molested by the official Roman circles. But matters changed when in 411 they left the hospitable soil of the metropolis, which had been sacked by Alaric (410), and set sail for North Africa. When they landed on the coast near Hippo, Augustine, the bishop of that city, was absent, being fully occupied in settling the Donatist disputes in Africa. Later, he met Pelagius in Carthage several times, without, however, coming into closer contact with him. After a brief sojourn in North Africa, Pelagius travelled on to Palestine, while Caelestius tried to have himself made a presbyter in Carthage. But this plan was frustrated by the deacon Paulinus of Milan, who submitted to the bishop, Aurelius, a memorial in which six theses of Caelestius -- perhaps literal extracts from his lost work "Contra traducem peccati" -- were branded as heretical. These theses ran as follows:

Even if Adam had not sinned, he would have died.
Adam's sin harmed only himself, not the human race.
Children just born are in the same state as Adam before his fall.
The whole human race neither dies through Adam's sin or death, nor rises again through the resurrection of Christ.
The (Mosaic Law) is as good a guide to heaven as the Gospel.
Even before the advent of Christ there were men who were without sin.

Reorg at the Vatican

Pope Benedict, who has spoken in the past about the need for greater efficiency in the Roman Curia, has made several modest changes in the operation of Vatican offices. For example, he has given the Congregation for Bishops the oversight for appointment of bishops in Eastern Europe; that function had been held by the Secretariat of State since the time of Pope Pius XII, who saw the need for careful diplomatic scrutiny of episcopal appointments in the Soviet bloc during the years of the Communist regime.

There is considerable speculation in Rome that the Pope will undertake more sweeping changes in the Roman Curia, with several proposals for reorganization already under discussion. The most persistent reports suggest that several pontifical councils might be combined into one office, and perhaps raised to the status of a congregation.

I suggest they use Microsoft Visio to map it out.

RNAi and the Purple Petuna

I saw this on Nova and went crazy. It was way cool.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - AsiaNews has learnt that the unprecedented personal attack on Pope Benedict XVI launched by Israel's Foreign Ministry on Monday 25 July was meant as a smokescreen for the Ministry's decision to abandon the negotiations with the Holy See planned for the same day. These negotiations, explicitly mandated by Israel's 1993 Fundamental Agreement with the Holy See - the international treaty that is the "magna charta" of all relations between the Jewish State and the Catholic Church - have the purpose of achieving a new treaty to confirm the Church's centuries' old tax exemptions and property rights, which have been eroded by the State since its establishment. The negotiations began officially on 11 March 1999. However, in recent years Israel has been reluctant even to meet the Holy See to negotiate, and on 28 August 2003, the Israeli delegation abandoned the negotiations altogether, and only came back to the table a year later in response to pressure from the Church and the Government of the United States. After agreeing to very few meetings in 2005, Israel agreed to meet on 19 July, only to cancel the meeting at the last moment, and have it transferred to 25 July. Apparently Israeli officials feared the consequences of cancelling this meeting too at the very last moment, so they contrived to find fault with the papal Angelus address to cover up their non-compliance with their treaty obligation to negotiate with the Holy See.

Recently Vatican officials have spoken openly of Israel's persistent failure to comply with any of its treaty obligations vis-a-vis the Holy See. Neither the 1993 Fundamental Agreement nor the1997 "Legal Personality Agreement" has been made into Israeli law, and last year the Government officially informed Israel's Supreme Court that it did not regard itself bound by the Fundamental Agreement at all. In spite of the protests from the Holy See, this position has not changed

Turns out using vaccines made from fetal tissue is bad

Who woulda thunk?

The new instructions from the Vatican provide strong support for parents and doctors who resist the use of vaccines that are based on fetal remains. Such vaccines are commonly used today in the US to inoculate patients-- usually children-- against diseases such as measles, mumps, chicken pox, rubella, smallpox, rabies, polio, and hepatitis A. In some cases the vaccines developed from fetal tissues are the only products available to patients seeking protection from the disease.

In a careful analysis of the moral issues involved in the use of vaccines developed from fetal tissues, the Pontifical Academy for Life concludes that pharmaceutical companies have a grave moral obligation to provide vaccines that do not use fetal remains.

Cool Yahoo widgets!

RAM hogs, but now Wintel can compete with OS X in this area.

Pope begs God: stop terrorists

Valle d'Aosta, Jul. 25 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) invoked God's protection to "block the murderous hand" of terrorists, during his Sunday audience on July 24.

After leading the Angelus, in the second Sunday audience held during his vacation in the Italian Alps, the Pope remarked that "these days of serenity and repose have been disrupted by the tragic news of the execrable terrorist attacks" in England, Egypt, Turkey, and Iraq. He offered his prayers and sympathies for the victims of those struck by "gestures that offend both God and man," and appealed to God to stop the terrorists.

Pope Benedict has repeatedly condemned terrorism, while arguing that the phenomenon reflects "not a conflict between civilizations but just small fanatical groups." He has insisted that terrorists represent only a small and extreme portion of the world's Muslims, and suggested that dialogue with responsible Islamic leaders could help to discourage such radicalism.

Toward that end, the Pontiff has scheduled a meeting with Muslim leaders in Cologne, to take place during his visit to the German city for World Youth Day in August. Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters that the meeting was not listed on the original schedule for the papal visit, but was added later "when it was clear that the Pope wanted it." Pope Benedict has observed that the meeting could serve as a signal to Muslims generally of the desire for peaceful discussion: "an invitation to abandon terrorism."

On July 10, in his first public audience after the July 7 bombings in London, the Pope appealed to terrorists "in God's name, stop!" In a telegraphed message of condolence, he referred to the attacks as "barbarous." This weekend the Pope sent similar messages of condolence to the victims of fresh terrorist attacks in Egypt, Turkey, and Iraq.

The Pope's Sunday audience on July 24 was held in Valle d'Aosta, where he is enjoying his summer vacation. He will leave the Alpine resort on July 28, to spend the remainder of the summer at the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Is the Pope an anti-Semite?

Yeah, and I'm pro-Mafia b/c I don't condemn them on this blog.

Valle d'Aosta, Jul. 25 ( - The Vatican has reacted sharply to a verbal attack on Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) launched by the Israeli foreign ministry.

In a harsh public statement released on July 25, the Israeli government expressed outrage that the Pope had not explicitly included Israel among the countries he listed as recent victims of terrorism. The Pope, during his public audience the previous day, had condemned all terrorism, but particularly mentioned the "execrable terrorist attacks" that had occurred in recent days in England, Egypt, Turkey, and Iraq.

The Israeli government statement charged that the Pontiff had deliberately failed to mention a suicide bombing in Israel on July 12-- an omission which, the foreign ministry said, "cries out to the heavens." The Pope's statement, the Israeli ministry continued, placed a "moral stain" on Church leadership, by "granting legitimacy to terrorist attacks on Jews."

(An analysis by the AsiaNews service characterized the Israeli government statement as an "unprecedentedly crude and violent" personal on the Pontiff. The AsiaNews report said that the foreign ministry appeared to have issued the statement in haste, and the Hebrew text was marred by errors in spelling and punctuation.) Responding to the Israeli complaint later in the day on Monday, papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls emphasized that the Pope condemned all forms of terrorism, and the suicide bombing that killed 5 Israelis in the town of Netanya on July 12 would certainly be included in that "general and unreserved" condemnation. Navarro-Valls noted that the Pope, during his Angelus remarks, had "referred expressly to the attacks "of these days," and listed only the most recent incidents. The bombing in Netanya took place 12 days before the Pope's audience, whereas the terrorist attacks on England, Egypt, Turkey, and Iraq has occurred within the past 72 hours.

"It is surprising that someone would have wanted to distort the Pope's intention," the director of the Vatican press office observed.

Navarro-Valls told reporters that the apostolic nuncio had already spoken with officials at the Israeli foreign ministry about the Pope's remarks. In its public statement released earlier in the day, the Israeli government said that it had summoned the nuncio to lodge a formal protest of the papal statement.

Later in the day, Israeli foreign minister adopted a more conciliatory statement, saying that he thought the Pope's failure to include Israel on his list of recent terror victims was "mistake and not a deliberate omission."

Windows Avalon is in beta

Oh baby. I am installing this thing.

Grafedia is the New Grafitti

Grafedia. A town in Italy? No. A new catchy dot-com? Nope. Some new form of sexually transmitted disease? Hardly. Give up you say? I came across the term once while reading an article in the paper. It was one of those many that I read when I read the paper, which is really hardly ever. But what caught my eye was that I had seen what they article was talking about. Grafedia, in essence is graffiti. Yep, you heard me, G-R-A-F-F-I-T-I. Grafedia is hyperlinked text, written by hand onto physical surfaces and linking to rich media content - images, video, sound files, and so forth.

Now You Can Get the BVM on Your iPod!

A Meditation on Mosquitos

Humans make things for a purpose, and so we only put things in whatever we make that serve the purpose. Form follows function, after all. But God doesn't create for a purpose. There isn't any function to creation. Think back to Genesis. Does it give any reason for God to create? The only motive is the goodness of creation (and the "very goodness" of humans). Or consider Revelation 4:11: "Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created." The phrase "by thy will" has the sense in Greek of "for thy pleasure", as indeed the King James version translates it. God creates for his own will, his own delight. Or Psalm 104:26: "There go the ships, and Leviathan which thou didst form to sport in it." Creation is play.

Today is the Feast of St. James the Greater and St. Christopher

St. James, known as the Greater, in order to distinguish him from the other Apostle St. James, our Lord's cousin, was St. John's brother. With Peter and John he was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration, as later he was also of the agony in the garden. He was beheaded in Jerusalem in 42 or 43 on the orders of Herod Agrippa. Since the ninth century Spain has claimed the honour of possessing his relics, though it must be said that actual proof is far less in evidence than the devotion of the faithful. The pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella in the Middle Ages attracted immense crowds; after the pilgrimage to Rome or the Holy Land, it was the most famous and the most frequented pilgrimage in Christendom. The pilgrim paths to Compostella form a network over Europe; they are dotted with pilgrims' hospices and chapels, some of which still exist. St. James is mentioned in the Roman Canon of the Mass.

The link also contains recipes for cookies and string beans appropriate to the feast day.

Today is also the culmination of El Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgramage to Santiago, Galicia in Spain.

And it is the feast day of St. Christopher, protector of travelers. My icon of him saved my posterior when I got rear ended last night.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

What's the most important database system in the world?

No, not Oracle. Nor SQL Server. Not even DB2. It's IMS, the nonrelational database IBM came out with in the late 1960s. At present it's managing about 15 billion gigs of data for just about anyone of import. I suppose it's used because it's rediculously fast compared to a relational database due to the fact that you don't tell the server what you want, you tell the server what to give you.

I think. They didn't talk about it in my class. Revisionists bums.

This article, on the other hand, I don't get

Mr. Pearl spells out the chilling ramifications: "In other words, belief in basic tenets of faith provides an immutable protection from charges of apostasy." Even what Mr. Pearl calls "anti-Islamic behavior," including "the advocacy of mass murder in the name of religion, cannot remove that protection," he writes. "Bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the murderers of Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg will remain bona fide members of the Muslim faith, as long as they do not explicitly renounce it."

Well in any religion without a central authority, you'll have the same problem. It's not like it's a Muslim thing. And of course even in religions with a central authority that speaks authoritatively on a subject, everyone still ignores it for the most part and talks about the brave people standint up to it. Sigh.

Welcome to Sunday

Today I visit a Byzantine Catholic church. I can only hope they let me survive, the Eparchy of Passaic gets me nervous.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Mark Shea has given us a status report

Once he starts blogging again, I think the world will be a safer place.

Lewis and Clark's latrine


More than 200 years ago, before Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set off on their historic journey seeking a land route to the Pacific, they spent considerable time consulting with numerous experts, including a mathematician, an astronomer and a botanist.

Another of those experts was renowned physician Dr. Benjamin Rush, who gave the explorers 1,300 doses of a laxative known as Dr. Rush's Pills that were to be taken to ease any number of ailments. These pills were so strong that users called them "thunderclappers" or "thunderbolts."

While the effectiveness of those pills in curing illness may be questionable, there is no doubt they are the source of the only scientific documentation of a campsite set up by the intrepid explorers. That's because the pills were comprised principally of mercury, a toxic element that does not decompose.

So when vapor analysis verified the presence of mercury here — a location where mercury should not be found — authorities believed they had located the site of a latrine.

A Mountain of Monks!

In the theme of learning more about our Eastern Orthodox bretheren I've posted the official English site of Mt. Athos, a monastic republic on a peninsula in Greece. I know that they're out there working hard ad maiorem dei gloriam, but it seems like a great place to vacation to me. Sun, ocean, olive trees, monastic life... what else could one want? Throw in some spanakopita and I'm good to go.

The Low Down on Eastern Orthodoxy

As explained by former Dean of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary. Catholics can agree to disagree on his take on papal infalibility.

Friday, July 22, 2005

So lower rates of AIDS means that the solution is ineffective

The Youth Coalition's report also claims that the "ABC" method used in Uganda has been ineffective and even detrimental. The report states that "unsound national and donor driven policies, such as the Abstinence - Be faithful - Use Condoms when necessary (ABC) approach have heavily contributed to the impact of HIV/AIDS among young people." However, Uganda's ABC strategy is almost universally viewed as the single largest success in reducing HIV infections, from 18 percent in 1992 to 5 percent by 2001.

The two reports demonstrate a renewed strategy of pushing for abortion rights on behalf of young people. Other pro-abortion groups, such as the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), have recently released similar publications. For instance, a recent AGI study on adolescents, defined as "between the ages of 10 and 19," in Malawi suggests that abortion should be legalized, as "[m]ost abortions are performed under unsafe conditions because abortion is illegal... except to save a woman's life."

St. Anne Beheadded in Queens

A man with a history of psychiatric problems shot and critically injured two police officers outside a church where he had fired at a statue of the Virgin Mary early Sunday, police said.

Today is the Feast of Mary Magdalene

Hooray for Magdalena. Here's New Advent's 411 on her.

Mary Magdalene is a follower of Jesus--symbolic of all of us who strive to follow him. Her moment of great joy at the resurrection of Jesus is tempered by a command to spread the news, not unlike the experience of the transfiguration for the apostles was tempered by the command to go back down the mountain.
- Michael Dubruiel

Good Golly Miss Molly! A Dilbert Gilbert Comic!

Ben Hatke does it again. Genius.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Educational problems

And crisis, I suppose you could add.

"Nationally, only about two-thirds of all students - and only half of all blacks, Latinos and Native Americans - who enter ninth grade graduate with regular diplomas four years later."

In much of the nation, especially in urban and rural areas, the picture is even more dismal. In New York City, just 18 percent of all students graduate with a Regents diploma, which is the diploma generally required for admission to a four-year college. Only 9.4 percent of African-American students get a Regents diploma.

Over all, the United States has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the industrialized world, which can't be comforting news in the ferociously competitive environment of an increasingly globalized economy.

"It's terrifying to know that half of the kids of color in the United States drop out of high school, and that only one in five is prepared for college," said Tom Vander Ark of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is making a big effort to boost high school graduation rates and the number of graduates who are prepared for college.

Weirdest programming language ever

It's called Brainf**k and it has 8 valid characters that can show up in a program. This makes assembly code look like Visual Basic.

Moraltiy of banks?

Banks have little incentive to reform the system as long as merchants are the ones who really foot the bill for credit card fraud. "One thing you don't mention and the public is not aware of is that the reason the card companies aren't notifying consumers -- unless fraud occurs -- is that as long as those cards are in circulation the card companies are making a fortune," an online merchant wrote me. "If the card is used fraudulently the one that pays for it is the merchant who accepts the card. He has the money yanked out of his bank account along with a chargeback fee of anywhere between $25 to $40. Plus he has lost his merchandise, shipping fees and the percentage he pays to the card company for the sale. So they do not have any incentive to do anything about it. If the card companies had to eat these costs themselves, they would move pretty quickly to rectify the situation. Remember, when the merchant accepts the card he has been informed that the card and the sale are good. We need for the government to step in and get some kind of control over them. The merchant should not be penalized when he has been told that the card is good when all the time the card company already knows the information has been stolen."

I don't know why I want to work for these people.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

NYTimes on Roberts

Of course, anyone who would think of questioning abortion fits into their "right wing whackjob" category. I wonder who they'd consider a liberal?

Corporate Loyalty

I still feel some. OK a lot. But I don't know why. I guess it's because I want to offer up my work in a religious sense, so it comes naturally?

Dear Bob ...

Someone who reports to me has a hobby, and makes it clear that he would rather be doing that full-time than IT. He displays his works, and in a low-key but not invisible way solicits business from others in the company.

He's not being dishonest or neglectful of his duties. But it still bothers me. Is this my problem--or his? Whatever happened to good old loyalty and dedication? Or at least discretion?

- Starting to boil

Dear Starting ...

Just my opinion: It isn't a problem at all.

From your account, the employee is delivering to your expectations and is at least on a par with his peers. He isn't using company equipment or more than neglible amounts of time for his side-business (if he's soliciting from other employees it isn't just a hobby). "Low key" solicitation sounds like he isn't distracting other employees from their work either - it fits into the normal day-to-day chatter.

I've had clients with employees who ran whole businesses from their desks, giving their side-businesses priority over their work responsibilities. That's a real issue and must be dealt with. Your situation is different. Don't let it aggravate you. Because ...

... what happened to loyalty and dedication is that corporate America stopped rewarding them, and stopped all pretense of showing them toward employees. It took a long time, but employees finally figured out that continuing to act loyally and with dedication themselves is a sucker move, unless their employer demonstrates, tangibly, that it isn't in the mainstream and still values these traits.

An employee who keeps something else going on the side to hedge his or her bets isn't being disloyal or undedicated. The word, I think, is "smart."

If you don't like this approach to the workplace, that's okay. If you want to do something about it, that's okay too - it's part of what leadership is about. Don't frame this up as a values issue, though.

Just change the employee's work environment so it engages more of his attention.

- Bob

Some Canadians think the government should run religion

What a "liberal" attitude.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Are thin clients the way of the future?

I think so.

The Windows XP-based thin clients will cost less than Windows XP Professional Edition, but offer the same management features and availability of a broad array of hardware drivers. The operating systems are being designed to run on low-end PCs that could be used for simple tasks such as data entry and as a way to access server-based applications, these people said.

Microsoft (Profile, Products, Articles) is developing the two releases under the "Eiger," and "Mönch" codenames, after two mountains in the Swiss Alps, said Microsoft enthusiast Steven Bink, who publishes the Microsoft news Web site and runs IT Solutions BV, an IT consultancy company in Amsterdam.

Microsoft told select partners about its thin client plans in January, said Brian Madden, a Washington, D.C.-based independent technology analyst and author of several books on thin-client computing.

"The motivation for Microsoft is to get a true managed Windows platform on as many desktops as they can. Once they realized that this thin-client model is here to stay, they figured they might as well make an offering that can support SMS, WSUS, et cetera, to encourage as many people as possible to use these products," Madden said in an interview via e-mail.

What's up in South America?

Can someone fill me in here?

Caracas, Venezuela, Jul. 19 (CNA/ - Recent comments by Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, a Venezuelan native and president emeritus of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See in Rome, regarding the lack of democracy in Venezuela have provoked a rash of insults from President Hugo Chavez.

In an interview with the daily El Universal , Cardinal Castillo Lara noted, "There is no democracy or rule of law here. What we have is just the appearance of democracy" with "laws against the Constitution approved by a weak majority."

He said the country was living under a dictatorship and that "since he came to power, Chavez began to try to divide the Church's hierarchy, between the bishops and the priests, by giving favors to some, but only some, under the table, while denying them to others. Only he has failed in his attempt, because all of the bishops, I repeat, all of them, are united in the same thinking. In the way we express ourselves there may be diversity, but together we are all in agreement."

Chavez responded to the interview by calling the cardinal an "outlaw" and "immoral." The 82-year-old cardinal said the president's comments "are not a response to anything concrete, he's just venting. They don't bother me at all, because you have to look at the person who is saying such things. And of course I would be offended if a respectable person were to say those things to me. But in this case, I don't pay any attention to him."

I didn't like Chavez very much reading about him, this isn't helping.

Maybe I should take a vacation . . .

Valle d'Aosta, Jul. 18 ( - Vacation time has become almost a "necessity" because of the pace of modern life, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) remarked on Sunday, July 17.

The Holy Father, who is spending his own vacation in the Valle d'Aosta region of the Italian Alps, made one of the few scheduled public appearances of his summer break, to lead the Angelus and speak briefly with the faithful who gathered around the chalet where he is staying in the town of Les Combes.

His own vacation, the Pope reflected, is "a truly providential gift of God" after the busy first 90 days of his pontificate. He added that he was also sustained by the memory of Pope John Paul II (bio - news), "whose memory is still alive in the stupendous mountains of Valle d'Aosta," where the late Pope regularly vacationed.

The Pope said that for all people, a vacation offers time for "prayer, reading, and meditation on the profound meaning of life." This is enhanced, he said, by "the serene environment of one's own family and loved ones." A vacation break, he aid, "is almost a requirement, to be able to restore body and spirit, especially for city dwellers, where the often frenetic lifestyle leaves little time for silence, reflection or the soothing contact with nature."

Best Email ever

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Resin Professional 3.0.10 (built Mon, 20 Dec 2004 01:19:28 PST)

Monday, July 18, 2005

On why not to buy a Dell

All I can say is this is why I stay away from Dell support like the plague.

Iconographic Wallpaper!

Because everyone wants a fearsome Archangel on their desktop.

And Deo Gratias for a special intention.

The father of C# speeks

Geekdom listens.

NY Medicaid

What a wonderful state we live in.

It has drawn dentists like Dr. Dolly Rosen, who within 12 months somehow built the state's biggest Medicaid dental practice out of a Brooklyn storefront, where she claimed to have performed as many as 991 procedures a day in 2003. After The New York Times discovered her extraordinary billings through a computer analysis and questioned the state about them, Dr. Rosen and two associates were indicted on charges of stealing more than $1 million from the program.

It has drawn van services, intended as medical transportation for patients who cannot walk unaided, that regularly picked up scores of people who walked quite easily when a reporter was watching nearby. In cooperation with medical offices that order these services, the ambulettes typically cost the taxpayers more than $50 a round trip, adding up to $200 million a year. In some cases, the rides that the state paid for may never have taken place.

School officials around the state have enrolled tens of thousands of low-income students in speech therapy without the required evaluation, garnering more than $1 billion in questionable Medicaid payments for their districts. One Buffalo school official sent 4,434 students into speech therapy in a single day without talking to them or reviewing their records, according to federal investigators.

Yup. Good use of government cash.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

More on the Abstinence party thing

cannot begin to recount how many young women (and some older ones too) have come into my ER for suicidal ideation because they had an abortion.

Don't anyone dare be so naive and stupid as to tell me that abortion is an easy and painless choice. None of the ladies I assessed were happy about the choice they made. They came with emotional damage, infections, hemorrhaging, and overwhelming self-loathing and anger.

Anyone care to guess the last time I had a patient who was suicidal, suffered from sepsis, or was bleeding to death out of her vagina because she practiced abstinence?

Still waiting... anyone?

That's right. Never.

So don't presume to spout pro-abortion and anti-abstinence bullsh*t in my immediate vicinity. I've met enough human wreckage courtesy of NARAL and Planned Parenthood to have developed an overwhelming desire to smack the everlovin' s**t out of these people for what they've done to so many women.

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

The Gospel readings, from the past two days

Were of particularly great beauty, IMHO. On Saturday, for the non-Carmel reading, there was Mt 12:14-21, including a quote of Isaiah:

Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved in whom I delight;
I shall place my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not contend or cry out,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory.
And in his name the Gentiles will hope.

And today, of course, we had the Parable of the Mustard Seed. Too often, we get too caught up in imaginary worlds, and not caught up enough in the Gospel and its beautiful depiction of reality.

Quick poll: Who has or hasn't read the four Gospels?

Do pregnant women worry too much?

Yet, when I was several months pregnant and told a woman who I was interviewing for a story that I had no hyperemesis gravidarum, she lowered her voice and said, “Oh, please tell me you were maybe a little queasy a few times.” She was suggesting there was something wrong if I wasn’t sick!

So I did what any sane person would do: I lied to get her off my back. I just wanted her to stop freaking me out. The minute I hung up the phone I started calling recently pregnant friends and Googling “morning sickness” and “hyperemesis gravidarum.” After some Medline research and a few phone conversations, I learned that roughly half of pregnant women have some morning sickness and half don’t. In some cultures, a word for the condition doesn’t even exist.

So either I was a displaced native of the Republic of Seychelles or I was just one of those 50 percent who didn’t get sick. The point is there was nothing wrong with me just because I didn’t have morning sickness — but I spent a couple of sleepless nights worrying about it.

Me thinks perhaps . . .

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I will briefly note a page of Christian symbols, however

Since our beloved James from England has been looking for them for his upcomming marriage.


I announce a day of blogsilence.

Friday, July 15, 2005

What is it about college

That makes you want to eat the most bizarre foods at the most inconvenient times? The world may never know. Maybe it has something to do with rebellion?

Abortion regrets


"What we need is a EULA credit card," wrote one reader. "Instead of the name of your bank or your favorite sports team, the front of this custom credit card could be printed with nearly-microscopic legalese -- a personal EULA. The agreement would state that its terms take full effect whenever an entity or an agent of that entity accepted the card -- or its associated card number -- as payment." What the EULA terms be? "How about disclaiming and disavowing all the odious restrictions found in most common EULAs, and creating a binding contract that the entity is responsible for safeguarding your private data and is forbidden from sharing it with others? ... At least for starters. Oh, and retaining the right to sue for whatever you personally feel merits a court case, in whichever jurisdiction you choose."

Another reader suggested much the same idea, but she felt the terms could be kept relatively short and sweet. "The principle thing you would want to negate is the mandatory arbitration clause, so you would just need a short statement to the effect that you retrain the right to sue," the reader wrote. "That, and perhaps a statement that any later modifications to the agreement must be approved in a writing by both parties."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

This is the kind of office I want

Private offices with doors that close were absolutely required and not open to negotiation.

Programmers need lots of power outlets. They should be able to plug new gizmos in at desk height without crawling on the floor.

We need to be able to rewire any data lines (phone, LAN, cable TV, alarms, etc.) easily without opening any walls, ever.

It should be possible to do pair programming.

When you're working with a monitor all day, you need to rest your eyes by looking at something far away, so monitors should not be up against walls.

The office should be a hang out: a pleasant place to spend time. If you're meeting your friends for dinner after work you should want to meet at the office. As Philip Greenspun bluntly puts it: "Your business success will depend on the extent to which programmers essentially live at your office. For this to be a common choice, your office had better be nicer than the average programmer's home. There are two ways to achieve this result. One is to hire programmers who live in extremely shabby apartments. The other is to create a nice office."

Quote of the Decade

O.O. says, "When the French got done naming things like tampons and douches, that's when they started doing political philosophy."

In a commemeration of the 10th aniversary of W95's release to manufacturing

We come across the interesting story of the logic behind Hearts' AI. And how it doesn't cheat.

For some reason which I suspect is deeper than I'd care to admit, I'm always afraid that computers are cheating when we play. Even when I write the program.

I had to change the template to fix that for the moment

It's too bad all of Blogger's templates SUCK. I'll have to try to fix the old one.

Does anyone know what's wrong with my template?

Rashi online!

Now this is some hot stuff.

I can sense my purchase of Artscroll books going down :-). Only website I know that closes for Shabbat.

Is B16 against Harrius Potter?

In March 2003, a month after the English press throughout the world falsely proclaimed that Pope John Paul II (bio - news) approved of Harry Potter, the man who was to become his successor sent a letter to a Gabriele Kuby outlining his agreement with her opposition to J.K. Rowling's offerings.

As the sixth issue of Rowling's Harry Potter series-- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- is about to be released, the news that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger expressed serious reservations about the novels is now finally being revealed to the English-speaking world still under the impression the Vatican approves the Potter novels.

In a letter dated March 7, 2003 Cardinal Ratzinger thanked Kuby for her "instructive" book Harry Potter - gut oder böse (Harry Potter- good or evil?), in which Kuby says the Potter books corrupt the hearts of the young, preventing them from developing a properly ordered sense of good and evil, thus harming their relationship with God while that relationship is still in its infancy.

These be fighting words.

Tolerance is, of course, still the word of the day

In November 2004, 57 percent of Oregon voters decided that traditional marriage was important enough to protect it in their constitution. Now some state lawmakers want to undermine the will of the people and force same-sex marriage onto Oregonians.

SB 1000 has already passed in the Senate, and if it is approved by the House, it would give homosexual couples the same legal status and benefits of married couples.

But that's not all this bill would do. It also adds sexual orientation to the state's discrimination laws, placing sexual orientation alongside race and religion.

In closed meetings, the Senate Rules Committee, along with other legislators and the ACLU, drafted SB 1000 to assert that churches, religious organizations and religious institutions cannot discriminate against homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender persons and cross-dressers when hiring to positions which the state will determine are not "closely connected with or related to the primary purposes of the church."

According to Stronger Families of Oregon, "In the final review, religious institutions and their representatives were excluded from participating in the work session process considering these amendments."

Despite consistent vitriolic rhetoric from the ACLU towards keeping church and state separate, this bill gives the state the authority to decide which positions in your church are essential and therefore exempt from hiring homosexuals, bisexuals and cross-dressers.

A hidden economic impact for all businesses is that they would have to bestow the same benefits given to married couples to same sex couples as well. This bill effectively creates new "classes" of specially-protected people solely based on behavioral choices, and as has been seen in other states, the economic costs to the state in discrimination lawsuits is huge.

This attempt by the Oregon Legislature to legalize civil unions is a slap in the face to Oregon citizens who voted in November to protect traditional marriage.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Lots of respect

With the unblushing Lady Liberty looking on from the corner of the page, NARAL Pro-Choice America declares, "Throw your hands up and say it loud: Screw Abstinence!!"

This is the press release I have sitting on my desk. What a confusing message. On one hand, Lady Liberty is sitting as the American symbol of freedom and protection while the people in Washington state are being jolted with a Howard Dean-ish scream to "screw abstinence." What does one have to do with the other? Perhaps only that everyone is free to make choices regarding their sexual health. True, but are all choices good?

This event-from-another-planet is being marketed as the "Screw Abstinence Party." The invitation tells the invitee to, "Let them know you keep it real when it comes to your sexual health and decision making." It goes on to feature specific aspects including, "Toys in Babeland: Seattle's sleaze-free, sex positive purveyors of adult toys offer tips on sexy safer sex." It's clearly billed as an event for 21-and-over, but is also designed to support comprehensive sex education in public schools -- for high school students and younger.

Yeah, this is nonoffensive and not pushing a moral agenda.

Cardinal Schornborn has something to say

EVER since 1996, when Pope John Paul II said that evolution (a term he did not define) was "more than just a hypothesis," defenders of neo-Darwinian dogma have often invoked the supposed acceptance - or at least acquiescence - of the Roman Catholic Church when they defend their theory as somehow compatible with Christian faith.
Forum: Op-Ed Contributors

But this is not true. The Catholic Church, while leaving to science many details about the history of life on earth, proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things.

Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.

Consider the real teaching of our beloved John Paul. While his rather vague and unimportant 1996 letter about evolution is always and everywhere cited, we see no one discussing these comments from a 1985 general audience that represents his robust teaching on nature:

"All the observations concerning the development of life lead to a similar conclusion. The evolution of living beings, of which science seeks to determine the stages and to discern the mechanism, presents an internal finality which arouses admiration. This finality which directs beings in a direction for which they are not responsible or in charge, obliges one to suppose a Mind which is its inventor, its creator."

He went on: "To all these indications of the existence of God the Creator, some oppose the power of chance or of the proper mechanisms of matter. To speak of chance for a universe which presents such a complex organization in its elements and such marvelous finality in its life would be equivalent to giving up the search for an explanation of the world as it appears to us. In fact, this would be equivalent to admitting effects without a cause. It would be to abdicate human intelligence, which would thus refuse to think and to seek a solution for its problems."

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Vatican cautioned Philippine bishops on partisan politics

Manila, Jul. 12 ( - The Catholic bishops of the Philippines reportedly backed off plans to call for the resignation of the country's president after receiving a stern admonition from Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news).

At the conclusion of a 3-day meeting in Manila, the Filipino bishops have issued a statement calling for a peaceful resolution of the country's latest political crisis. But the bishops' statement stopped short of endorsing calls for the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The bishops' statement had been heavily anticipated in the Philippines, where Catholics account for 85 percent of the population, and Church leaders have exercised considerable influence during recent political upheavals-- most notably with the "People Power" uprising that forced the resignation of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

President Arroyo has faced mounting pressure for her resignation, as charges of election fraud have given new impetus to complaints about her corruption and economic mismanagement by the government under her leadership. On Friday, as the nation awaited the bishops' statement, former President Corazon Aquino joined 10 members of the current presidential cabinet in calling upon Arroyo to step down.

Because Aquino is close to the Catholic hierarchy, many observers saw her public stance as an indication that the bishops would also call for Arroyo's resignation, perhaps providing the final push that forced her to relinquish her office.

But the statement released by the bishops' conference contained no such call. "We do not demand her resignation," the bishops said. They added, however: "Yet neither do we encourage her simply to dismiss such a call."

More Catholics on the way

London, Jul. 12 ( - The General Synod of the Church of England last night voted to remove the restrictions on women bishops from church law.

It is now possible that women could be ordained as bishops for the Church of England within the next 10 years. Women have already been ordained as bishops for the Episcopal Church in the US.

However, more traditional Anglicans fear the move could split a church which is already rocked by the ordination of gay men and the blessing of same-sex unions. They also fear this will be an obstacle to further unity with Rome.

Proposing the motion, Southwark’s Bishop Tom Butler, the Bishop of Southwark, told the Synod: "Because we are part of the apostolic church we may ordain for ministry those whom we discern God to call. He continued: 'The Church of England, catholic and reformed, has before acted prophetically for the wider Church-- the vernacular liturgy, married clergy, have all been pioneered by our Church and have proved to be a blessing to other communions also. The same I believe will be true of women's orders which we are pioneering."

But Bishop John Hind of Chichester warned that the move could be divisive. He described the motion as a "premature and a dangerous precedent". He added: "Whatever today's outcome, our own fellowship will be further strained and ecumenical relations compromised. We are in a lose-lose situation."

Monday, July 11, 2005

Vatican's in the black this year


Vatican, Jul. 11 ( - The Holy See showed a positive budget balance of 3.08 million euros ($3.71 million) for the fiscal year 2004. That figure represents a dramatic improvement over the previous year's totals, which showed a deficit of 9.56 million euros ($11.54 million).

The Vatican budget figures, made public at a press conference in Rome on July 11, also showed a 5.37-million euro surplus for the operations of the Vatican City-State.

Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, who heads the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs for the Holy See, said that the Vatican had enjoyed its first budget surplus in three years because of a rise in the European economy-- particularly in the value of the euro against the American dollar-- and some timely real-estate sales. He reported that the surplus would be used to ease some chronic shortfalls in certain areas of Church operations.

Quote from the Cringe this week

Small Change: Microsoft and IBM have buried the hatchet over a lawsuit
filed back in the Jurassic period over alleged discriminatory pricing,
overcharging, and OS/2. Big Blue's haul from the settlement was $775
million, plus a coupon worth $75 million at its local Microsoft store. I
understand Gates was planning to pay the settlement out of his own pocket
but he didn't have anything that small.

So. So. Funny to me.

Senatorial Combat

Here are the good bits:

Sen. Santorum: My wife and I had babies together. That's the way we do things in our family.

Sen. Boxer: Your wife gave birth. I gave birth. I can tell you, I know when the baby was born.

Sen. Santorum: Good! All I am asking you is, once the baby leaves the mother's birth canal and is through the vaginal orifice and is in the hands of the obstetrician, you would agree that you cannot abort, kill the baby?

Sen. Boxer: I would say when the baby is born, the baby is born, and would then have every right of every other human being living in this country. And I don't know why this would even be a question, to be honest with you.

Sen. Santorum: Because we are talking about a situation here where the baby is almost born. So I ask the question of the senator from California, if the baby was born except for the baby's foot, if the baby's foot was inside the mother but the rest of the baby was outside, could that baby be killed?

Sen. Boxer: The baby is born when the baby is born. That is the answer to the question.

Sen. Santorum: I am asking you to define for me what that is.

Sen. Boxer: I don't think anybody but the senator from Pennsylvania has a question with it. I have never been troubled by this question. You give birth to a baby. The baby is there, and it is born. That is my answer to the question.

dot dot dot

Sen. Santorum: But, again, what you are suggesting is if the baby's toe is inside the mother, you can, in fact, kill that baby.

Sen. Boxer: Absolutely not.

Sen. Santorum: OK. So if the baby's toe is in, you can't kill the baby. How about if the baby's foot is in?

Sen. Boxer: You are the one who is making these statements.

Sen. Santorum: We are trying to draw a line here.

Sen. Boxer: I am not answering these questions! I am not answering these questions!

Van Gogh Trial Starts Today

The man charged doesn't seem to be taking the proceedings serriously.

Here's the Economist's article on the Trial

And a link to the 60 minutes segment I saw last night.

Amy Welborn Reminds us that Today is the Feast of St. Benedict

Celebrate with a free slurpie.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

OO finds a real gem

Lastly, a new item I missed before: In Florida, "Marjorie Nighbert, an 83-year-old Florida stroke victim who had actually asked her nursing home care-givers for a 'little something to eat' and a drink of water. Yet a Florida judge ruled she was not "competent" to make such a request for food, and was starved and dehydrated to death with the full agreement of her family.

It's not about people's right to "die with dignity". It's about the young's right to kill the old, just as they already have the right to kill those not yet born.

Abu Mazen Says...

The Vatican is against bombing

Saturday, July 09, 2005

So what's on the agenda for the synod in October?

Lots of good stuff.

The working document is divided into four sections, of two chapters apiece, and a conclusion. The main sections focus on: the Eucharist in today's world, the teachings of the Church, the Eucharist in the life of the Church, and the Eucharist in the mission of the Church. The instrumentum laboris was prepared in the basis of suggestions from the world's Episcopal conferences, the Eastern Catholic churches, leaders of religious communities, and Vatican officials. The document is now being circulated so that the 250 prelates taking part in the October discussions can be fully prepared. The instrument laboris is available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish, and Portugese as well as Latin.

I'm looking for the Latin.

In a free society, the press is not above the law

Oh, but what about lawyers, psychiatrists and the like? Aren't they exempt from some laws? Aren't they allowed to keep confidences? Yes and no. Lawyers and doctors are not permitted to enable a crime. Period. If a client tells his lawyer, "I'm going to murder so-and-so," the lawyer cannot be a party to it and must do everything he can to prevent it. Moreover, any such conversation is not privileged. The confusion here is that when I tell my shrink my friend Todd is a CIA agent, no harm has been done.

When I tell a reporter and the next day it's in Newsweek, real harm has been done.

But don't tell that to the sanctimonious priesthood of the fourth estate. Just this week NPR's Daniel Schorr flatly whined that the only reason journalists don't "enjoy a first amendment privilege to protect their sources" the way doctors and lawyers can protect the confidentiality of their patients and clients is that the ungrateful American public doesn't value a free press as much as it values the services of doctors and lawyers.

This is sanctimonious hooey, and we shouldn't let the press — which has an enormous, gigantic, colossal mother-of-all-conflicts-of-interest — get away with asserting such things unchallenged. The elite press wants laws which codify their holy status in our culture, and the reporting and commentary reflects that. Forget liberal and conservative, this is the First Among Equals of media bias.


"Madison" has become the second most popular name for baby girls in America.

I risk insulting huge numbers of new parents here, so I want to tread delicately: I know you love your sweet little baby daughter, and want only the best for her, and I am sure you had your reasons for giving her an idiot name.

Thanks to a new federal baby-name database that goes back past 1900, it is actually possible to track the provenance and popularity of the name Madison. From this source, one can see that Madison has historical roots, as do many popular names. Mary, for example, was the name of the mother of the Christian deity; David was a wise and compassionate king. Madison was the name of a mermaid played by Daryl Hannah in the 1984 movie "Splash." Her real name was an ear-piercing squeal, so she selected a new name from a street sign in midtown Manhattan.

That's it. The numbers make it clear there is no other derivation. Before the 1980s, the name Madison was not among the thousand most popular names in America.

Since then it has quickly risen, like a gas bubble in a septic tank, until it is now number two, right after Emily. (Interestingly, Hannah is now the third most common girl's name.) What's wrong with Madison? If you don't already know, then I'm not sure that what follows will make any sense to you, but I'll try.

Madison is symptomatic of something I call the "Elantra" phenomenon, after the appalling marketing-driven trend among automakers to name their cars pleasing sounds that have no meaning. Increasingly, people are no longer naming children for their ancestors or heroes or even favorite actors or athletes — names with some sense of history or reverence or accomplishment — and are choosing trendy names that to them seem hip or creative. No one real ever had a first name of Madison. The naming process has become not a celebration of love for another, or of good lives well lived — but a celebration of . . . oneself.

And so it is that in the last 10 years, cutesy misspellings have become highly popular. Today, Skylar is the 144th most popular female name, waaaay more common than, say, Susan (475th), Barbara (560th) or Katharine (821st). Also more popular than Katharine are Shyanne (586th) and Destinee (495th) and my favorite, coming in at number 618, Nyah. (There is no indication of how many people chose this as both first and middle name.) Among boys, Alexzander, spelled that way, is more popular than Fred.

Cain and Abel through Edison

Hot ecumenical visit!

Vatican, Jul. 07 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) may travel to Istanbul for an ecumenical summit with Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople.

Ireland's Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who spoke privately with the Pontiff on July 7, revealed that possibility to reporters after his visit to the Vatican. Ahern-- who had spoken with the Pope about the possibility of traveling to Ireland-- disclosed that the Holy Father had discussed pending plans for two trips abroad: his visit to Cologne, Germany, for World Youth Day festivities in August; and a possible trip to Turkey later.

Ahern said that Pope Benedict had mentioned two previous occasions when Roman Pontiffs had traveled abroad to meet with Orthodox leaders: the historic encounter between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem in 1963, and the trip by Pope John Paul II (bio - news) in 1979, in the early months of his pontificate, to meet with Patriarch Dimitrios I in Istanbul.

Patriarch Bartholomew I-- who is recognized as the "first among equals" in the leadership of the Orthodox world-- has traveled to Rome on several occasions. His most recent visit came in the context of another dramatic ecumenical gesture in November 2004, when Pope John Paul II turned over the relics of Sts. John Chrysostom and Gregory Nazianzen to the Ecumenical Patriarch. The relics of those saints-- both doctors of the Church, and predecessors to Patriarch Bartholomew as bishops of Constantinople-- had been held by the Vatican for centuries.

Are they judges or legislators?

You don't ask judges how they are going to rule on cases that haven't come before them yet, because they're not supposed to know. But that point is lost on some.

As Sowell notes:

It is one thing to be willing to sacrifice income in order to serve your country, it is something else to have a lifetime reputation for integrity, honesty, and dignity destroyed by noisy and shameless politicians playing to the gallery of special interests.

"All questions are legitimate," declared Senator Charles Schumer, one of the most shameless of them all. "What is your view on Roe v. Wade? What is your view on gay marriage? They are going to try to get away with the idea that we're not going to know their views. But that's not going to work this time."

"You cannot ask a judge to prejudge a specific matter," was the very different view of Senator Jeff Sessions, a former judge himself.

And as AfterAbortion has noted:

"When pro-life groups criticized Reagan's nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor, who was chosen for her sex, not her ideology, Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH) thundered: 'I believe there is something basically un-American about saying that a person should or should not be confirmed for the Supreme Court ... based on somebody's view that they are wrong on one issue.' Sen. [Ted] Kennedy [Democrat-MA] agreed, complaining: 'it is even more offensive to suggest that a potential justice must pass the litmus test of any single-issue group.'"

Friday, July 08, 2005

So freedom to choose covers killing children, but not gaining weight


I wish I could get $100 million when I get fired

Why are there so many safe deposit boxes in Chinatown?

Apparently it's a cultural thing, and a rather fascinating one at that. But my favorite quote is this:

"Saving isn't just for a rainy day - when you see your entire life as a rainy day," he added.

Now that's the story of my life. Especially given the weather today in NY.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Let us pray

For those in London.


US Protests Exclusion of Pro-Life Groups from UN Conference

The Friday Fax has learned that the acting US Ambassador to the United Nations has sent a letter of complaint to the President of the UN General Assembly over the exclusion of conservative NGOs from recent consultations with the UN General Assembly. Sources who have seen the letter say that Ambassador Anne Patterson expresses the US government's strong concerns about a lack of diversity in the consultations since left wing NGOs seem to have been handpicked to make speeches to the General Assembly as Member States prepare for the upcoming Millennium Development Summit.

GA President Jean Ping of Gabon selected the task force that picked over 200 NGOs to take part in "informal interactive hearings" with the General Assembly in preparation for September's Millennium Summit +5. The hearings took place on June 23-24, 2005. The chosen NGOs were able to present their concerns and suggestions regarding the Summit in speeches and open dialogue with countries. Their suggestions were also officially presented to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who attended the final session of the hearings. Because NGOs will not be able to participate in the actual Summit+5, this was the only opportunity for NGOs to have formal input into the Summit's outcome.

What Member States heard from the handpicked leftwing NGOs was numerous speeches calling for the new Millennium Development Goals to include "reproductive health" and "reproductive rights", UN code words for abortion on demand. Not a single NGO voice of dissent was allowed.

The task force created by Ping to choose the participants consisted primarily of 10 lobby groups, including the radical feminist group Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), which recently condemned "right-wing forces everywhere" for "invok[ing] culture and religion to deny women's rights," including "reproductive health and rights."

The task force failed to select any pro-family, pro-life groups for participation in the hearings, although several such groups, including C-FAM, had applied. However, the task force chose as participants several radical pro-abortion lobbyists such as International Planned Parenthood Federation, National Youth Network for Reproductive Rights, and Family Care International.

The exclusion of pro-family, pro-life groups at the informal hearings has raised particular concern because the hearings were the first such event held at the UN, and appear to be the UN's new favored format for NGO involvement at the UN. Unless future task forces operate in a more unbiased manner, pro-family, pro-life organizations could continue to be systematically blocked from having an impact on UN debates.

The President of the General Assembly has not yet commented on the US complaint.

Copyright 2005 - C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute).

Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.

How to yell at your boss

A useful skill when people think they know more than they do about a technology.

When you get rid of straight marriage, why not have gay marriage?

Madrid, Jul. 06 (CNA/ - Bishop Jose Sanchez Gonzalez of Siguenza-Guadalajara, Spain, said this week that opposition to same-sex marriage is not tantamount to discrimination against homosexuals, but rather the favoring of the institutions of marriage and the family.

In a statement, Bishop Sanchez Gonzalez clarified that same-sex couples are not denied marriage because they are homosexuals, "but rather because they are two men or two women and not a man and a woman."

Marriage, he said, is "the life-long union in love and fidelity of a man and a woman, open to the transmission of life and the raising of children." Therefore, "only a man and a woman can have the right to contract marriage," unless some legitimate impediment exists.

The bishop explained that homosexuals have "the perfect right, and they are correct to do so, to demand the same treatment that others get in as much as their dignity and fundamental rights are concerned and to fight against any discrimination in this respect." Nevertheless, "they cannot demand that the nature of things be changed, such as with the case of marriage or the right to adopt minors."

Likewise, he recalled that legislators must respect the institution of marriage because of its precedence over the state. The bishop also expressed his hope that the pro-family demonstrations of June 18 will have a lasting impact on the country.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

How to answer interview questions

Dear Bob ...

Many years ago, way back in 1971, I was asked a seemingly appropriate (at the time) interview question and I was stumped for an answer.

The interviewer asked me 'What is your weakest point?'. As I sat there thinking, he eventually moved on.

About 10 years later, I was talking to the head of a government lab where I worked as a contractor. As we talked about jobs, I asked him that same question, and he was also at a loss for an easy answer. Since he was about 30 years older and much more job-experienced than I was when I faced the same question, I felt slightly vindicated.

- Challenged in the interview

Dear Challenged ...

How presidential of both of you: You'll recall the infamous press conference in which George W. Bush, asked what his worst mistake had been, couldn't think of any, even though everyone knows he was responsible for trading away Sammy Sosa.

This is a similar kind of question - one of those interview questions whose only point is to find out if the interviewee has anticipated it and thought of an answer. It is, in short, a disqualifying question - one where your goal is to move on as quickly as possible without raising any red flags.

The right way to answer this question is to present a clear weakness in a way that reflects a more important strength. For example: "I tend to forget the small items I promise to take care of. That's why I'm religious about putting every one of them in my PDA immediately."

You're honest about a weakness, make it clear you're both aware of it and have taken steps to address it, and leave no obvious opening for long discussion.

It's the right way to handle a question whose best possible outcome is to leave you unscathed. The only way to achieve that outcome is to prepare for the more obvious (and popular) disqualifying questions in advance.

- Bob

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I thought being a priest meant believing in God

HUNDREDS of Church of England clergy doubt the existence of God and fewer than two thirds believe in miracles, a study out today says.

The report, published on the eve of the General Synod, refers to “very fragile faultlines along which the Church of England could be torn apart”. Congregations are much more conservative than most of the comparatively liberal clergy preaching to them.

The report says that if committed Anglicans are clear about one thing it is the existence of God: 97 per cent have no hesitation in affirming His existence. Yet, it contyinues, one in 33 clerics doubts the existence of God. If reflected throughout the Church’s 9,000 clergy the finding would mean that nearly 300 Church of England clergy are uncertain that God exists.

Something to view in IE

Courtesy of Mr. Lorenzo


"We are a city that wraps its arms around you," Mr. Doctoroff told the I.O.C. members.

Did he really have to bring up the crime?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Which reminds me, the Pope will be going to a synagogue soon

Cologne, Jul. 05 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) will visit a synagogue in Cologne when he travels to the German city for World Youth Day in August.

Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne confirmed that the Pope has accepted an invitation from a local Jewish community, and will attend a service at which the Psalms will be read in Hebrew. The exact date for the Pope's visit has not been announced, but Pope Benedict will be in Germany from August 18 to 21. The full schedule for the papal trip will be unveiled by both the Vatican and the World Youth Day organizers in Germany, in mid-July.

Answering reporters' questions about the Pope's plans, Cardinal Meisner said that the visit to the Jewish community will be a valuable symbolic reminder that Jews and Christians are brothers and sisters, and that the hatred that marked the Holocaust "must not be repeated."

Cardinal Meisner, speaking to the press on July 5, said that the Pope's trip must be understood as a visit to Cologne, to meet with the Catholic youth of the world, rather than a state visit to Germany. However, he acknowledged, since he is the first German Pontiff in over 500 years, the visit by Benedict XVI will be a major event for all of Germany. Moreover, the cardinal continued, the World Youth Day celebrations in a German city, combined with the visit by a German Pope, will have substantial symbolic impact. He reminded the media that in 1997, when he announced that Cologne would host the 2005 World Youth Day, Pope John Paul II (bio - news) had said that it was appropriate to have a German city host the event "at the start of the 21st century," after "the catastrophe of World War II." The event should mark "a vast positive movement" in the heart of Europe, he said. Cardinal Meisner also recalled the words of a German political leader who suggested that the election of Pope Benedict XVI was a "final absolution" for Germany, indicating that the ravages of the war and the Holocaust are over.

Pope John Paul II will also be remembered powerfully during the events in Cologne, the cardinal continued. He recalled that after visiting the ailing Pontiff in Gemelli Hospital on March 2, he had voiced the hope that John Paul II would be able to come to Cologne, even if he was unable to speak, because "his mere presence would say more than words." Cardinal Meisner recalled that the Pope had replied, "I will come." The cardinal said he now has no doubt that the deceased Pope will be with the World Youth Day participants in spirit. So, he concluded, there will be two Popes attending the events: "one above and one here below."

Cardinal Meisner said that interest in the World Youth Day celebration is now beginning to peak, with thousands of people registering to attend. At least 80,000 German families have prepared to welcome visitors for the celebration, he said. And while organizers had originally hoped for 4,000 priests and 200 bishops to participate, they are now expecting 7,000 priests and 400 bishops.

A little bit of history

About the flag of Venice. I saw the saying "Pax tibi Marce evangilista meus" in a kosher restraunt today and just had to figure out where it came from.

And to go with the politics, a little on hope

By the formal object of hope we understand the motive or motives which lead us to entertain a confident expectation of a happy issue to our efforts in the matter of eternal salvation notwithstanding the difficulties which beset our path.

It seems to me that the key point here is that hope isn't something that you place in some sort of social system, but in salvation. Everyone has, I think, a tendency to place their hope in the false messiahs of political figures, thinking that it's really important that so and so does this or that. After all,

Eph:6:12: For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. (DRV)

Prayer, the conversion of hearts, that seems much more important to me.

Civil Allegiance and Catholicism

A little food for thought in light of July 4th.

By civil allegiance is meant the duty of loyalty and obedience which a person owes to the State of which he is a citizen. The word allegiance is a derivative of liege, free, and historically it signifies the service which a free man owed to his liege lord. In the matter in hand its meaning is wider, it is used to signify the duty which a citizen owes to the state of which he is a subject.

That duty, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, rests on nature itself and the sanctions of religion. As nature and religion prescribe to children dutiful conduct towards the parents who brought them into the world, so nature and religion impose on citizens certain obligations towards their country and its rulers. These obligations may be reduced to those of patriotism and obedience. Patriotism requires that the citizen should have a reasonable esteem and love for his country. He should take an interest in his country's history, he should know how to value her institutions, and he should be prepared to sacrifice himself for her welfare. In his country's need it is not only a noble thing, but it is a sacred duty to lay down one's life for the safety of the commonwealth. Love for his country will lead the citizen to show honour and respect to its rulers. They represent the State, and are entrusted by God with power to rule it for the common good. The citizen's chief duty is to obey the just laws of his country. To be able to distinguish what laws of the civil authority are just and obligatory, it will be advisable to lay down the principles of Catholic theology respecting the nature, subject-matter, and limits of the obedience which citizens owe to the State. To understand these we must know something of the mutual relations between Church and State.

Monday, July 04, 2005

My latest project

I think that, given a set of inputs, I'll be able to generate PDFs of Liturgy of the Hours for every day of the year. My tools: XML, XSLT, POF, SQL Server, Perl, Visual Studio. My theory: The liturgical year pivots on Easter and Christmas. Given those two days, I can calculate a list of feasts, and using the rules of precedence, figure out which feast or feasts ends up mapping to each day. Then output XML, transform it, print it, and you're golden.

It's got a shot.

Origins of the SCOTUS chaos

Confirmation hearings for nominees to the high court only make matters worse, for the would-be justices are forced to sit before the cameras, under oath, as senators ask them questions they cannot ethically answer, on how they would vote on cases that might come before them. This process began not in the early Republic but in the battle over Jim Crow. In the 1950's, the Southern Democrats who controlled the Senate Judiciary Committee decided to require every nominee to appear in person in order to grill them about Brown v. Board of Education. Before Brown, it was almost unheard-of for a nominee to testify. When the Dixiecrats changed the rules, the liberal position was that inquiries about such matters as judicial philosophy posed a threat to the independence of the judiciary.

The left of that era was correct. The spectacle we have made of confirmation hearings reinforces the public notion that the justices exist to decide cases the way political movements want them to. Liberals think the right started it, and conservatives think the left started it, but the important question is not who started it but who is going to stop it.

Of course, the author does seem to think that there is respect for the Court at present.

June gives us the Time's take on B16

I'm not too impressed.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Everything you ever wanted to know about roaming profiles

The reading for today

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."


It is so easy to fall into arrogance. So easy to imagine that you are "irreplacable". For me, it is a constant struggle to remind myself that I don't really count for that much in the grand scheme of things while also realizing that my actions do, in fact, have eternal consequences. It is a difficult balancing act.


Via Larry Osterman's recent series on concurrency, I ran across an older post from Raymond Chen on why you shouldn't use reserved fields in internal Windows data structures.

About ten years ago, when I was working on the QuickTime team at Apple, we got a report from a beta tester about some third-party application that was completely broken with the new version of QuickTime. Several hours of debugging in MacsBug later, I discovered that the problem came from that application using a reserved field in the heap data structures. In that version of QuickTime, we had included a patch to the memory manager to work around a problem in older OS versions. That patch needed to use the reserved field, which obviously conflicted with the third party app's use of that field.

When I sent the vendor an email about this, the response came back: "But you can't use that field; it's reserved!"

Umm ... yes.

Totaling the damage

So, my computer is slowly achieving operating status. The sum total of the damage, due to my obsessive backups, seems to be limited to the list of blogs that I read. So if you can think of any, email me! I just added a bunch of computer ones too . . .

More seriously, however.

I experienced catastrophic hard drive failure and lost about a half-day of spending records and a list of blogs I read. I have the feeling that most people wouldn't be quite so lucky, mostly because most people don't do quite so much backing up. If you want to lose data, don't back up. If you want to keep your data safe, do back up.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Akin layin' down the law

Or, why you don't want to mess with the man.

What I just finished reading

Monsignor Luigi Giussani has moved the hearts of the faithful for 50 years through the movement "Communion and Liberation." Now his simple, and profound book,"The Psalms," will prove an invaluable resource for people seeking to be fed from the spiritual wisdom of Monsignor Giussani. As he reminds us in the preface "we can understand Christian experience only with difficulty if we are unwilling to relive the history of the people of Israel, in all its aspects and in all its drama." This book will be a great help for Christians rediscovering the Liturgy of the Hours, and the Psalms, which are the heart of that Liturgy.

The late founder of Communion and Liberation gives us a rather brilliant look at the Christian live through the songs of David and company. It's cheap to buy, but deep in it's content. Squach seal of approval.

What I did today

You should do it too! It's good for your soul.

All that stuff in the Mass about Blood and whatnot.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Tensions at the Rog Mahol

os Angeles, Jul. 01 ( - A prominent American pro-life leader has called for the resignation of Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, after an incident in which young pro-life activists were threatened with arrest when they sought to enter the Los Angeles cathedral.

The young people, participants in the American Life League's Crusade for the Defense of our Catholic Church, were planning to attend the inauguration ceremonies for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaralgosa, a Catholic who favors legal abortion. The demonstrators were gathering at the cathedral, wearing shirts that red: "You can't be Catholic and pro-abortion." But they were denied entry by cathedral ushers, and threatened with arrest when they pressed their argument to be admitted. (Eventually the Los Angeles city police intervened to defuse the confrontation, and the young demonstrators were allowed into the cathedral.)

"It is an outrage that an event honoring a pro-abortion Catholic public figure that openly supports the killing of the preborn would occur at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral," said Judie Brown, the president of the American Life League. "It is even more shameful that Cardinal Mahony and others would attempt to censor faithful Catholic students from proclaiming the truth."

"American Life League calls for the immediate resignation of Cardinal Roger Mahony in light of his continued defiance of Church teaching," said Brown.

Does Sharon need a vote?

n light of recent events Prime Minister Sharon must heed the calls to hold national elections. Failure to do so makes a mockery of Israel's parliamentary system.

In a humiliating defeat for the Prime Minister, the Knesset recently carried three consecutive motions of no confidence against the Government. Whilst technically not amounting to the requisite majority to compel Sharon to step down, Knesset Speaker, Ruby Rivlin, himself a Likud member, publicly urged him to do so and hold elections.

The nation is now poised at a critical turning point. We have been repeatedly misled and fed half truths. Yet the Prime Minister still stubbornly refuses to hold a serious discourse on his controversial policies or take counsel from his colleagues. At issue are not the merits of ruling over Palestinians or retaining isolated settlements. That debate ended some time ago and the majority of Israelis now share a broad consensus that their ultimate objective must be to separate themselves from the Palestinians. Nor is the Gaza disengagement the central issue.

At the heart of the matter are the nation's strategic and national security goals, concerning which a wide range of respected Israelis encompassing every shade of the political spectrum - including the far left - warn that Sharon's current policies will culminate in a disaster of historic proportions.

To loud applause, beatification inquiry opens for John Paul II

This is, I have to say, rather intense.

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