Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I'm personally against them, which makes me the overachiever type I guess.

The two surveys tested the impact of meetings on employees in two different contexts – at the end of a specific day and in general, by examining the number of meetings employees had in a typical week.

The study finds that for some individuals meetings function as interruptions and for others they are welcome events. The effects of meetings on worker well-being is "moderated" by three different factors – by whether jobs specifically require group work, by whether the meetings were efficiently run, and, perhaps critically, by where the worker falls on the personality scale of her/his "accomplishment striving."

"People differ on this accomplishment striving personality scale," Rogelberg explained. "In general, you can think of people who are high in accomplishment striving are those individuals who are very task-focused, who are very goal-focused, who have goals and objectives for the day that they want to get accomplished. People who have low accomplishment striving are not slackers, though -- they are just individuals with a much more flexible orientation to work and like to allow the agenda for the day to emerge much more naturally."

The study finds that people who are high in accomplishment striving are predictably and negatively impacted by meetings, particularly when they are frequent. Numerous short meetings have a greater impact on their well-being than a few long meetings taking the same amount of time.

Higher standards in Cali

When talking about efforts to stop the CA stem cell grant handouts:

In November, the judge refused to toss out the lawsuits, but said the taxpayer groups had a high legal hurdle to prove the voter-approved agency was "clearly, positively and unmistakably unconstitutional."

Unlike in the SCOTUS, where you need to prove that emanations of penumbrae of ambiguous parts of the Constitution suggest something to have it overturned. Awesome.

Mardi Gras!

I plan to party by eating some chicken. Woo-hoo. Everyone else?

Turning tides in France?

These first hints of new European steadfastness are in striking contrast to reactions (or the lack of them) only a short time ago. In Nov. 2003, for example, a young French Jewish DJ, Sébastien Selam, was approached by his Muslim neighbor, Adel Boumedienne, in their building's underground garage. Boumedienne slit Selam's throat, gouged out his eyes with a carving fork and then ran upstairs and told his mother, "I killed my Jew, I will go to paradise." In the two years before the murder, the Selam family had been repeatedly harassed by their neighbors for being Jewish.

As with the perpetrators of other attacks on French Jews in recent years, Boumedienne was clearly inspired by the most vicious anti-Semitism. Yet the case was barely commented on in the French media and there was no response of any significance from the French government.

The reaction this month to the murder of another young French Jew, Ilan Halimi, has been very different. After some initial dragging of feet and evasiveness, the authorities and the media have been altogether more resolute in recognizing the anti-Semitic aspects of the case.

Progress. Perhaps there is hope?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Do democracies go to war with one another?

Survey says yes. Lots and lots of times.

This is also the guy who reports on the evils of Wikipedia. I highly recommend giving his website a perusal every now and again.

Curt Jester comes up with best post of the year

Despite steady rumors that the Vatican would use Microsoft's Stained Glass Windows, the Pope instead announced at a special audience the selection of Red Hat Linux. The Vatican will release their own distro of Linux on April 4 the feast day of St. Isidore of Seville the proposed patron saint of computers, computer users, and computer programmer. The proposed number of servers will be set to 120 as established established by Pope Paul VI of venerated memory (c.f. Computatrum Ligamen)

Can't believe I didn't think of this. Read the rest of the post if anything it's event better than this excerpt.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Why can't they have their own school

It is an exchange that Mr. Shim considers a telling example of why the Kamehameha Schools, a highly rated private institution with campuses on three islands, must maintain its contentious policy of admitting only native Hawaiians. Otherwise, says Mr. Shim, president of the school's Association of Teachers and Parents, many disadvantaged Hawaiians will not get a decent education.

"We're not done serving our kids the way we need to, to serve the Hawaiian population," said Mr. Shim, a graduate whose daughter is a junior at the main Kapalama campus.

Mr. Shim and other Kamehameha supporters were heartened this week when a federal appeals court in San Francisco agreed to reconsider a ruling last August that declared the school's admissions policy in violation of a Reconstruction-era law, the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

Private money, private admissions, no? I don't have to invite anyone to my home if I'm a racist.

But not that strange

In case you wanted to know about how Canon Law applies to time travel, Jimmy Akin has you covered. Awesome.

How I know I'm strange

In a conversation today:

Me - "Well, if you have a woodshop in the house, then you can get some laborers. What does a munchkin weigh, like twenty pounds? That's how much a [stage weight] brick weighs."

Other - "Maybe when they're one they weigh twenty pounds."

Me - "So once they turn one you can press them into service. You, sit on this piece of wood!"

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Tear it!

Imagine a person who observes Sabbath, but it has no meaning to him — no taste. The only thing that keeps him doing it is guilt, or respect for the tradition, or simply habit. Without his understanding the meaning behind the observance, it will eventually stop sooner or later, in this generation or the next.

An experience I had working with a Jewish youth group describes how this translates down the line to the grandchildren. I was hired to try to rejuvenate interest for Judaism among the participants, and I thought a "Sabbath Experience" would be a great idea. So I presented my plan to one of the chapter presidents, a girl of about 16 or 17. She looked at me in total shock. "Sabbath!" she exclaimed incredulously. "Do you mean no tearing toilet paper?" This was the first thing that came to her mind. I said "Sabbath" and she thought "toilet paper." So in jest I said, "Yes! Haven't you ever tried that? For thousands of years Jews get together, put a roll of toilet paper on a table, sit around the table and chant, 'Don't tear it, don't tear it!'" She looked at me with an expression that said "Is this guy for real?" And then she said, "You know, I always wanted to ask a rabbi, 'are you allowed to flush on Sabbath?'" Imagine this is the question she always wanted to ask a rabbi.

Seriously though, there needs to be more to religious observance than "tradition", as this article points out. Once people loose respect for God, it won't be long before they don't really see the point in doing what He says. Always a bit of a sore point between me and the "secular Jewish" types, in that I don't really see the point in being proud of being Jewish if it's not God's setup, so to speak. I mean, I don't really care if in a thousand years, there are no more Italians, or Egyptians, or whatever. There are certainly no more Greeks, in what that word meant in the classical period, nor are there any eastern Celts, as far as I know, and if a people is just an accident of history, no reason to get worked up, no?

Soviet speaches

FIFTY years ago today, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave a "secret speech" at the 20th Communist Party Congress that changed both his country and the world. By denouncing Stalin, whose God-like status had helped to legitimize Communism in the Soviet Bloc, Khrushchev began a process of unraveling it that culminated in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. This great deed deserves to be celebrated on its anniversary.

But it is also a good time to ponder this question: What are we to think of a leader whose great deeds do not bring about the consequences intended? It is a question worth consideration by all leaders — particularly Khrushchev's current heir, Vladimir Putin, who has tried to bring his nation into the 21st century by wielding the autocratic hand of a 19th-century czar.

After all, Khrushchev sought to save Communism, not to destroy it. By cleansing it of the Stalinist stain, he wanted to re-legitimize it in the eyes of people not just in the Soviet sphere but around the globe. Yet within weeks after the secret speech, at Communist Party meetings called to discuss it, criticism of Stalin rippled way beyond Khrushchev's, including indictments not just of Stalin himself but of the Soviet system that spawned him. Others sprang to Stalin's defense, especially in his native Georgia, where at least 20 pro-Stalin demonstrators were killed in clashes with the police.

In Eastern Europe, the unintended consequences of Khrushchev's speech were even more shattering. A huge strike in the Polish city of Poznan in June was put down at a cost of at least 53 dead and hundreds wounded. Then, of course, the revolution in Hungary in October was smashed by Soviet forces, leaving more than 20,000 Hungarians dead.

It's always impressive what a few misplaced words can do, or a few misplaced people for that matter. Though in a certain sense none of us can really "fix" anything, or do anything, in another very real sense all of our actions are of tremendous importance, because of the effect they have on those around us, and I think that that's the more Christian perspective.

Wow. I just tied an article on Khrushchev to Christian piety. Clearly I need more sleep. But the point remains, I think.

Abortion not linked to decrease in maternal death rate

In fact, quite the opposite. Unless someone's going to make the argument that with the backwards medical practices in the US, compared to those in the great nation of Poland, US maternity death rates would be even higher if not for the most liberal abortion laws in the world.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Time is Drawing Nigh

It's that time of year again! The time when we must work doubly hard to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord... (Great) Lent!

I've been reading a little about the subject and I have realized that us Novus Ordo Catholics have really chickened out of the whole fasting and abstinence thing... only increasing our gluttony and attachment to all things pleasurable and worldly.

Speaking of all things pleasurable and worldly it is also time for a related clebration that conisdes with Great Lent... Carnaval/Mardi Gras. When we are supposed to "get it out of our system" before we buckle down to atone, kinda like a world wide bachelor party with the same results. Now, most people who clebrate the excess and nakedness of Carnaval don't even fast afterward. How ironic.

Which makes, IMHO, the way we handle lent even more deplorable. We should not binge then purge in order to affirm our dependence on the grace of God. Our bretheren in the East don't have any sort of Mardi Gras tradition. In fact they start preparing for Great Lent by abstaining from meat a week in advance on Meatfare Sunday. We in the west, do it the other way around. To make things worse look at the chart at how many fasts we have lost in the NO-

Before receiving the Eucharist (the "Eucharistic Fast")

Traditional: nothing but water and medicines for three hours. The even older practice is to fast for 12 hours.

1983 Code: nothing but water and medicines for 1 hour

All Fridays

Traditional: Abstain. American Catholics have a dispensation, from Pope Pius XII, to refrain from abstinence on the Friday following Thanksgiving Thursday.

1983 Code: To abstain is the universal law. Check with your local Bishops to learn what you are bound to.

Advent Embertide

Traditional: Abstain and Fast

Novus Ordo: abolished

Vigil of Christmas

Traditional: Abstain and Fast.

Novus Ordo: abolished

Ash Wednesday

Traditional: Abstain and Fast

1983 Code: Abstain and Fast

Lenten Embertide

Traditional: Abstain and Fast

Novus Ordo: abolished

All days of Lent but Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and 1st Class Feasts

Traditional: Partially Abstain and Fast

Novus Ordo: abolished

Fridays and Saturdays of Lent

Traditional: Abstain and fast
1983 Code: Abstain, even if you don't abstain on all other Fridays

Good Friday

Traditional: Abstain and Fast
1983 Code: Abstain and Fast

Holy Saturday

Traditional: Abstain and Fast until the noon (after the Vigil Mass, to be more precise, which nowadays is most often at night)

Novus Ordo: abolished

Vigil of the Pentecost

Traditional: Abstain and Fast

Novus Ordo: abolished

Whit Embertide

Traditional: Abstain and Fast

Novus Ordo: abolished

Michaelmas Embertide

Traditional: Abstain and Fast

Novus Ordo: abolished

Isn't that sad? The Christians of the East however fast throughout the year before all major feasts. It makes sense, to fast to feast. So let us keep this in mind.

And let us not complain when we have given up Chocolate for Lent. Eastern Catholics have already done that for centuries (by abstaining from dairy).

Coup in the Philippines?

Lifted from Little Green Footballs

But nothing at the Times.

ABC has something here.

Of course, I don't like President Arroyo very much. Squach for First Citizen anyone?


Vatican, Feb. 22 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) encouraged the study of the Latin language during his public audience on February 22.

At the conclusion of his prepared remarks, the Pope followed his usual pattern by greeting different groups that were in attendance at the Wednesday audience. Switching into Latin-- a language which, he noted, is not generally used in these sessions-- the Pontiff welcomed the faculty of the Classics department in Rome's Salesian University.

"My predecessors rightly encouraged the study of that great language," the Pope said, noting that mastery of Latin helps students to attain "a better understanding of the sound doctrine" found in classical sources. He said that the study of Latin should be encouraged for "as many people as possible."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Discrimination against atheists?

We're violating their civil rights? How? Is it that atheists can't marry other atheists? Or maybe because atheists have to marry other atheists? I don't get it.


The name says it all, an excellent resource.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


A hint of common sense! Hark!

Cardinal Angelo Sodano (bio - news), speaking to reporters at a reception in Rome on Monday evening, avoided any specific reference to the Danish cartoons which have been a focal point of anger in the Islamic world. But the implications of his statements were evident.

Christians should not claim a "freedom to offend," the cardinal said. But others should not claim "the freedom to destroy us."

Cardinal Sodano said that governments have an important role to play in "defending the reciprocity" that should exist on questions of religious freedom. He suggested that the topic of religious liberty for minority groups should be brought up in negotiations with Islamic countries.

In other words, if people are going to burn down buildings when they get upset, they should figure that their buildings are going to get burned down when they kill people. Or something like that.

A map of the Orthodox Jewish world

Bringing up, of course, the interesting point that the idea of orthodoxy is, in some sense, foreign to Judaism.

New Cardinals!

Sadly I am once again not on the list. During the Merton Lecture, George Weigel mentioned that he was supporting Mary Ann Glendon for Cardinal but apparently that hasn't happened yet either.

Three of the new cardinals will be members of the Roman Curia:
Archbishop William Levada, the American prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pope's own successor in that role.
Archbishop Franc Rodé, the Slovenian prefect of the Congregation for Religious
Archbishop Agostino Vallini, the Italian prefect of the supreme tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

Nine of the new cardinals will be heads of major archdioceses, most of them traditionally considered "cardinalatial sees." They are:
Archbishop Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy
Archbishop Antonio Canizares Llovera of Toledo, Spain
Archbishop Nicolas Cheong-Jin-Suk of Seoul, South Korea
Archbishop Stanislas Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, the longtime personal secretary to Pope John Paul II
Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston, US
Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux, France, the president of the French episcopal conference
Archbishop Gaudencio B. Rosales on Manila, the Philippines
Archbishop Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino of Caracas, Venezuela
Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun of Hong Kong, China

Finally the Pope selected three clerics who are not now acting as bishops, who will receive the red hat in recognition for their years of service to the Church. All three are over the age of 80, and thus will never participate in a papal conclave. They are:
Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, the archpriest of the Roman basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls, a veteran Vatican diplomat and member of a noted Italian family.
Archbishop Peter Poreku Dery, the retired Archbishop of Tamale, Ghana, who is 87.
Father Albert Vanhoye, the French Jesuit who was rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institue and secretary to the Pontifical Biblical Commision.

There are no major surprises on the Pope's list of new cardinals. The selection of Bishop Zen, while not unexpected, is a strong statement of support for a prelate who has been outspoken in his criticism of Chinese restrictions on religious freedom. The choice of Archbishop O'Malley will raise some eyebrows in light of the turmoil that has afflicted his Boston archdiocese. On other hand the selection of Archbishops Levada, Rodé, and Dziwisz had been considered near-certainties.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

How not to design a database

There are flat files. Then there are relational databases. Don't confuse the two, especially not with XML.

This gentleman's comment was perhaps the best:

I swear to god, I made a joke about doing just this very thing on Slashdot today.

My joke was arguably worse, though, as the "data" took the form of serialized objects instead of xml fragments.

From the French connection

A music service that tells you what music you'll like. Oddly addictive. But I'll probably regret them having data on me later in life.

<job interview>
Interviewer: So, it says hear that you listed to KMFDM. Is that true?
Me: No sir, what would give you that idea.
Interviewer: Well, this data says that you found it excellent.
</job interview>

Could get ugly.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Why go to confession?

Because we're a bunch of sinners, that's why!

Despite all this, however, I do not think I can say that the world is evil and that it is useless to do good. On the contrary, I am convinced that good exists and is much greater than evil, that life is beautiful and that to live correctly for love and with love is really worthwhile.

The profound reason that leads me to think this way is the experience of God's mercy that I feel in myself and that I see shine in so many humble people: It is an experience that I have lived many times, both giving forgiveness as minister of the Church, as well as receiving it. I have been going to confession regularly for years, several times a month, and with the joy of doing so.

The joy stems from feeling myself loved in a new way by God, every time that his forgiveness reaches me through the priest who gives it to me in his name. It is the joy I have seen often on the face of those coming to Confession: not the futile sense of relief of the one who has "emptied the sack" (Confession is not a psychological relief or a consoling meeting, at least not primarily), but the peace of feeling well "within" oneself, touched in the heart by a love that cures, that comes from above and transforms us.

Religion from evolution?

Hector ran across an intereting a book review in the Times, about Dennett's investigation of the "scientific" origins of religions, and the various . . . shall we say intereting theories that abound there. The basis of his work is that if we figure out the history of religion, people will realize it's nothing special and so it can be ignored. To this Mr. Wieseltier responds:

It will be plain that Dennett's approach to religion is contrived to evade religion's substance. He thinks that an inquiry into belief is made superfluous by an inquiry into the belief in belief. This is a very revealing mistake. You cannot disprove a belief unless you disprove its content. If you believe that you can disprove it any other way, by describing its origins or by describing its consequences, then you do not believe in reason. In this profound sense, Dennett does not believe in reason. He will be outraged to hear this, since he regards himself as a giant of rationalism. But the reason he imputes to the human creatures depicted in his book is merely a creaturely reason.

Bully! <- Note that this is an interjectal use, not an appositive use.

More stress, less men

In 2005, he made a similar observation when he looked at data collected in California after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The birth cohort, born four to five months after the attacks, had fewer males.

This was an observation, he said, that corresponds with what biologists know about stress, pregnancy and sex ratios.

Researchers have long known that males tend to be weaker than females, as fetuses, embryos, children and adults. Indeed, it's not until people reach their 90s that men start outliving females, Catalano said.

It's also been shown that more male fetuses and embryos are spontaneously aborted than females. This becomes particularly apparent after six weeks of gestation.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

For Sunday

Thus says the LORD:
Remember not the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the desert I make a way,
in the wasteland, rivers.
The people I formed for myself,
that they might announce my praise.
Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob,
for you grew weary of me, O Israel.
You burdened me with your sins,
and wearied me with your crimes.
It is I, I, who wipe out,
for my own sake, your offenses;
your sins I remember no more.

Give thanks to God for his mercy.

Capitalism in the Dock

NEW YORK, FEB. 18, 2006 (Zenit.org).- After the collapse of communism and the adoption of free-market policies by just about all countries and political parties, market capitalism should be triumphant. But recent books highlight the shortcomings of the free markets.

In "The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism" (Yale University Press), John Bogle analyzes what he considers to be crucial failings in the financial markets. Bogle, former chief executive of the Vanguard mutual fund group, wants the system to be run in the interests of the shareholders and owners, rather than the managers.

Bogle argues that the last couple of decades have seen serious erosion in the conduct and values of business leaders, investment bankers and money managers. A staunch defender of capitalism and free markets, Bogle nevertheless laments the excessive attention given to stock market prices, instead of the intrinsic values of corporations.


Found 5 gigs of files on my hard drive, apparently I set up IIS's ftp server when I was doing some file recovery for a friend and left it wide open. Sure enough, in november someone found it and started dumping files on there. There don't seem to have been any compromises beyond the public directory, but I'm looking into the extent of the hack and making sure there aren't any nasties living on my machine, and also why the firewall didn't stop it (probably because I allowed it to happen).

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Maybe there's something to France after all

The Mission considered demands for marriage to be made available to same-sex couples, and was of the view that it "is not possible to think about marriage separately from filiation: the two questions are closely connected, in that marriage is organized around the child." Said the report: " Marriage is not merely the contractual recognition of the love between a couple; it is a framework that imposes rights and duties, and that is designed to provide for the care and harmonious development of the child. Foreign examples demonstrate this: countries that have made marriage available to same-sex couples have all, simultaneously or subsequently, authorized adoption by those couples and developed systems for assisted procreation or surrogate gestation, to enable those couples to have children." The report stated: "It would in fact be incoherent, if couples were regarded as equal, to remove the prohibition on marriage and preserve it for filiation."

Downright sensible. My question is, how come if you say this in the US you get accused of violating the seperation of Church and State, but it flies in France?

User's guide to the Bible

Brief summary: Read it, the important parts read more, the really important parts memorize. And don't do dumb stuff.

Clot Risk for Birth-Control Patch Is Found to Be Double That of Pill

A new study shows that women using the Ortho Evra birth-control patch have double the risk of developing blood clots compared with those who take the birth-control pill, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday.

Last year an investigation by The Associated Press, citing federal death and injury reports, found higher rates of blood clots in women using the patch.

The first study found no increased risk of clots. But the interim results from the second study suggested a twofold increase in the risk of venous thromboembolic events, or clots in the legs and lungs, in women using the patch, Ortho said.

At a briefing on Friday, Dr. Daniel Shames, director of the division of reproductive and urological drug products at the F.D.A., said the risk of a nonfatal blood clot was about one per year in 10,000 women not using a contraceptive. For those using a hormonal contraceptive like the patch or pill, the risk rises to 3 to 5 per 10,000, Dr. Shames said. Source: NY Times

Well, 3-5 in 10,000 isn't a lot right? But when you consider how many women are on the patch the numbers quickly add up, and all this for a drug usually used for non-medical purposes. The following is from a law firm that is prosecuting Ortho-Evra the developers of the patch:

Blood clots in the lungs were seen in two women given ORTHO EVRA in clinical trials conducted before the drug was approved and in addition to many similar cases in women after the drug was marketed. The FDA has logged 9,116 reports of adverse reactions to the ORTHO EVRA birth control patch in a 17-month period, whereas Ortho Tri-Cyclen, a birth control pill, only generated 1,237 adverse reports in a six year period.

With 9.9 million prescriptions the numbers of women with extreme complications leading death are just starting to receive media exposure. In July 2005, a young, healthy married mother of two children experienced shortness of breath and died the next day. Source.

Hmmmm... maybe I'm glad I didn't participate in the Columbia U. medical study to get paid to wear the patch.

Friday, February 17, 2006

For those following the erosion of British free speach

The original language of the British religious hatred legislation was draconian, making it a crime to use words or to behave in a way "threatening, insulting or abusive to religious groups." The most enthusiastic backers of the law were, to no one's surprise, the radical Islamist imams and other troublemakers. Mr. Blair's government insisted that no one would be unreasonably molested by the authorities — the usual "reassurance" of bureaucrats — but given the sensitivities of the radical Muslims, prudent Englishmen for whom the stalking of Salman Rushdie is a current affair were not reassured.

Mr. Blair then offered legislation to make "glorification" of terrorism a crime, without saying, exactly, what "glorification" might be. British anger is growing in the wake of demonstrations in central London, when Muslims waved placards demanding beheadings and other unpleasant things for anyone replicating the infamous Danish cartoons, and the "glorification" legislation was a sop to that anger.

Posted at Columbia

Is this ironic or what? When depicted as people who bomb and kill, the Muslim response is to run around screaming, "We will bomb you and kill you for that remark!"

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Something to chew on.

John Milton predicted, "When language in common use in any country becomes irregular and depraved, it is followed by their ruin and degradation."

Academic standards in Cali

Unfortunately, I tend to agree with the author that if you have a 3.84, you can probably learn enough English to pass a state test, and if you can't you probably don't have any business being a nurse in an environment where English is the language.

Gonzalez argued that some students know the material, but fail because of "test anxiety." To the extent that is true, these kids don't stand a chance in real life. How can they survive a job interview? Or athletic competition? Gonzalez says one of his students wants to be a firefighter. That student will have to pass tests to become a firefighter — or should cities dump firefighter tests, too, in the hope that recruits won't be too anxious when a fire alarm sounds?

A plaintiff in his suit is Liliana Valenzuela, who has a 3.84 grade-point average and is 12th in her senior class of 413 students. She passed the math test the first time, but has failed the English test, Gonzalez said, because she came here from Mexico four years ago.

"I want to go to college and become a registered nurse," Liliana wrote in a statement. "But this exam is unfair. I really want to wear my cap and gown, and I don't know what to do to make my dream a reality."

I know what she can do: Study harder.

Getting a legal loophole around the exit exam will not make this young lady educated or help make her dream to be a nurse come true. If she cannot pass the exit exam, how can she survive college?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

In the pipeline

Evangelium Vitae - so I have some idea of what I'm talking about when it comes to big issues.

Safety tool of the day

For all you Firefox users out there, it's a tool that blocks all Javascript by default, and lets you turn it on on a site by site basis. Very cool.

Of course, since I use Opera, I don't have these problems. . .

Research confirms common sense

A number of studies conclude that pornography is demeaning to women and harms adults who consume it. Now we are learning about the harm pornography does to children who are exposed to it at an early age. Even accidental exposure to explicit sexual images can warp a child’s view of sexuality and taint relationships well into adulthood.

According to a survey of divorce lawyers, pornography is a factor in almost 2 of 3 divorces. Many of the marriages may have been doomed from the start because of a damaged view of sexuality formed as a child. Daniel Weiss of Focus on the Family Action says children accept the reality that they are presented with.

"This possibly violent, very degrading image or depiction of sexuality becomes the normal depiction of sexuality in the child’s mind."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

We missed a great holiday yesterday!

Tu B'Shvat, of course!

In the Midwest U.S.A. where I grew up, Tu B'Shvat was an anomaly. It always came in the wrong season, in the midst of winter, often with freezing sleet and icy snow. It was a long-distance holiday whose purpose was to remind us that we were on the wrong continent, in the wrong country; that far away in the Land of Israel, spring was on its way; the sap was rising in the trees; and G-d was blessing the produce of His Land for the next agricultural year. Tu B'Shvat reminded us that our calendar, our laws, our lives were intrinsically bound up with His Land, not with the place where we happened to live.

I find this interesting, in that Christians are always supposed to think about the fact that they're also on the wrong continent, and in the wrong country, since their abode is the Kindgom of Heaven, e.g.

Qui vitam sine termino, Nobis donet in patria.


The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Hector's quote of the day

Hector (5:00:35 AM): The Sound of Music = "Hegel with songs"

What he was doing up at that time, I may never know.

Keeping Time

Here are some good links I wanted to share for keeping track of the Catholic liturgical calendar.

In the Latin rite: http://www.easterbrooks.com/personal/calendar/index.html
(Squach originally pointed that one out to me on this blog, but here's a reminder.)

In the Eastern rite (specifically the Byzantine tradition): http://www.catholic-forum.com/members/popestleo/dailyprayer.html

And if you swap facts about saints like trading cards, then you might also be interested in a complete list of all the daily saints: http://www.catholic.org/saints/sofd.php

Lots of inspiration, information, and good links on all the above sites. Also, you may want to check out this article on St. Valentine.

Monday, February 13, 2006

CJ has a scoop on a new exorcism document

For the Spirit of Vatican II, no less.

The Bestowal of the Office. The candidates now come up to the bishop, and each touches the book and the actual documents of Vatican II which he presents to them, saying:

Receive, and commit to memory the documents of Vatican II, and have the power to lay your hands upon those possessed by a modern spirit and another gospel, be they baptized or catechumens.

Yeah, the SSPX reconciliation stuff was all rumor

Apparently SSPX is still having trouble reconciling the ideas of "Catholic" and "Pope", prefering to keep to their own strange doctrines while still professing loyalty to the Pope, those who don't think he's the Antichrist that is.

I don't see how they think they're particularly different than, say, Luther, really. He didn't think he was starting a "new" Church. Henry VIII certainly didn't think he was starting a new Church, just taking control of the part of the Church in his country. These guys aren't saying there shouldn't be a Pope, or that the Catholic Church isn't one. They're just saying everyone's Catholics, but some are more Catholic than others. The Pope, apparently, is on the lesser side of the equation.

I Come Bearing Gifts

Call me a dorkus magnus, but I got something-

That's the commonly used words at Ecce Homo. I love how abortion is mentione as often as catholic.

I also have some other things-

2 buttons-

And as a segue I'll discuss something that has been bothering some of the bloggers lately- confrontation. Please if you have bad news, get over it and get it out of the way. Don't ignore us, stop being a namby pamby yeller pansy, and say if you can or cannot do what we request. Because if not, you'll be recieving this image in your inbox-

(a slightly digitally altered Balrog spewing out an atomic bomb. It's even bigger on file.)

Squach would have made this rant if it weren't the fact that he's secretly pacifist.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

From the Sperl front

Spoken like a true German:

"I will say nothing against the course of my existence. But at bottom it
has been nothing but pain and burden, and I can affirm that during the
whole of my 75 years, I have not had four weeks of genuine well-being. It
is but the perpetual rolling of a rock that must be raised up again

Goethe, 1824, as quoted by William James in _Varieties of Religious

In response to wishes for a long life, Luther responded
"Madam, rather than live forty years more, I would give up my chance of

Maybe this explains a lot.

I can really relate to Luther, disturbingly. I think that makes me a heretic.

Church sponsored gambling?

Speaking of my parish... The above link is to the weekly parish bulletin (in .PDF - big file.)

I was rather shocked to see a notice for the "annual summer raffle" for $10,000. Whoa! That's a lot of money! They are selling 275 tickets at $100 each. First prize gets $10,000, second prize is $1,000, and third through fifth place prizes receive $500 each.

This church-sponsored fundraiser doesn't strike me as very Christian. It doesn't seem to be in the spirit of charity. They are encouraging people not to give freely but to buy a ticket in the hopes of winning something for themselves. With stakes that high who wouldn't be tempted. Hell, I'm even tempted. That money could really help me with my student debt and with odds of 1 in 275, those are much better odds than the lottery.

Isn't a raffle just another form of gambling? Sure half the money goes to a good cause, but if the church needs funds they should just ask for it.

Frankly I'm a little disgusted with the whole thing. My town (or village I should say) is a very wealthy place, so perhaps $100 raffle tickets don't mean much to most parishioners. I've bought into raffles for causes before, usually at $5 a ticket or so, and never thought of it as gambling, but with the stakes so high in this case it makes me see it in a different light.

I look back on the past raffles I've bought into and to be honest I was usually more motivated by the hopes of winning the prize or money than by the cause it was for. That's why people have raffles, because they successfully tap into our selfishness. (At least for many of us, there are always those good souls who have given back the proceeds they've won, or are only motivated by charity.) That's fine I suppose for secular causes, like the March of Dimes, but the church as an institution that isntructs people in morals has to hold itself to higher standards and shouldn't be sponsoring activities that encourage vice.

I'm interested in some discussion on this. Should churches sponsor raffles? Am I being too worried over something petty? I wonder if I should talk to my pastor about my concerns or if it's not worth bringing up. Please let me know what you think.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

I was wondering about the history of this title for my local parish and as usual New Advent and the Catholic Encyclopedia came through for me:

The picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour is painted on wood, with background of gold. It is Byzantine in style and is supposed to have been painted in the thirteenth century. It represents the Mother of God holding the Divine Child while the Archangels Michael and Gabriel present before Him the instruments of His Passion. Over the figures in the picture are some Greek letters which form the abbreviated words Mother of God, Jesus Christ, Archangel Michael, and Archangel Gabriel respectively. It was brought to Rome towards the end of the fifteenth century by a pious merchant, who, dying there, ordered by his will that the picture should be exposed in a church for public veneration. It was exposed in the church of San Matteo, Via Merulana, between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. Crowds flocked to this church, and for nearly three hundred years many graces were obtained through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. The picture was then popularly called the Madonna di San Matteo. The church was served for a time by the Hermits of St. Augustine, who had sheltered their Irish brethren in their distress. These Augustinians were still in charge when the French invaded Rome (1812) and destroyed the church. The picture disappeared; it remained hidden and neglected for over forty years, but a series of providential circumstances between 1863 and 1865 led to its discovery in an oratory of the Augustinian Fathers at Santa Maria in Posterula.

The pope, Pius IX, who as a boy had prayed before the picture in San Matteo, became interested in the discovery and in a letter dated 11 Dec., 1865 to Father General Mauron, C.SS.R., ordered that Our Lady of Perpetual Succour should be again publicly venerated in Via Merulana, and this time at the new church of St. Alphonsus. The ruins of San Matteo were in the grounds of the Redemptorist Convent. This was but the first favour of the Holy Father towards the picture. He approved of the solemn translation of the picture (26 April, 1866), and its coronation by the Vatican Chapter (23 June, 1867). He fixed the feast as duplex secundae classis, on the Sunday before the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, and by a decree dated May, 1876, approved of a special office and Mass for the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. This favour later on was also granted to others. Learning that the devotion to Our Lady under this title had spread far and wide, Pius IX raised a confraternity of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and St. Alphonsus, which had been erected in Rome, to the rank of an arch-confraternity and enriched it with many privileges and indulgences. He was amongst the first to visit the picture in its new home, and his name is the first in the register of the arch-confraternity. Two thousand three hundred facsimiles of the Holy Picture have been sent from St. Alphonsus's church in Rome to every part of the world. At the present day not only altars, but churches and dioceses (e.g. in England, Leeds and Middlesborough; in the United States, Savannah) are dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. In some places, as in the United States, the title has been translated Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Notice how a sandal is falling off one of the feet of the Christ child.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Time for Confession

It always breaks my heart when someone's looking to confess but they can't find a priest willing to hear it. It seems to me that the best parishes are those with the most frequent confession, but that's a very anecdotally supported statement. However, there's something about it that seems very Christlike . . .

An interesting article for the Times

Within the Muslim world, the cartoon imbroglio has given ammunition to the two entrenched forces for censorship — namely, authoritarian regimes and their Islamic fundamentalist opposition. Both would prefer to silence their critics. By evincing outrage over the Danish cartoons, authoritarian regimes seek to divert attention from their own manifold failures and to bolster their religious credentials against the Islamists who seek to unseat them.

Ironies abound. Saudi Arabia leads the protests, yet is systematically destroying its Islamic heritage. The Wahhabis who dominate Saudi Arabia do not believe in honoring Islam's holy men and women or the Prophet Muhammad (they've proscribed the celebration of his birthday). Driven by sectarian zeal, the Saudi authorities have razed and dug up virtually every site in Mecca and Medina linked to Muhammad, members of his family and his companions.

Where I was today

A conference, offered by Princeton Prolife, featuring the Susan B. Anthony List, about grassroots political pro-life activism. Intense. We were also blessed by a special guest appearance by Prof. Robert George, who gave a portion of his Merton Lecture speach.

Friday, February 10, 2006

There are good Dominicans, and bad Dominicans . . .

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, February 7, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A prominent Dominican has written a review praising the gay cowboy film Brokeback Mountain as “an engrossing story, a plea for tolerance, and a sad, emotional film that will touch anyone who has ever been in love.”

Fr. Tom Condon, OP, student master for St. Martin de Porres Province of the Dominicans, writes about the propaganda-laden film with a strangely tender voice, given that it openly portrays sex between cowboys as beautiful and precious. His praise for the film flies directly in the face of Catholic teaching that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered" and "under no circumstances can they be approved."

Veritas at Columbia

Of course, I being the cynical that I am, was most amused by Mara Richard's comment about being hit over the head by Christianity, apparently this happened when speakers talked about God.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Conception Day?

Yesterday I realized that my birthday was in exactly nine months. That got me thinking, "Hey I'm twenty-three years-old today!" If life starts at the moment of conception then shouldn't we start counting age from that point? Okay so most people don't want to think of their conception because it is hard to separate that from the act of sex. But I think it's cool. We should all celebrate conception days, just as we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8. It wouldn't have to be the actual day of conception, that could get complicated with premature babies and whatnot. Picking a day nine months before your birthday would just be symbolic more than anything. I think it's a neat idea to promote a pro-life culture. For small children you wouldn't have to explain the ins-and-outs of sex (pun intended ^_^). You could just tell children that today is the day that God created them. Birthdays unfortunately have the tendency to become too materialistic anyways. A celebration of conception helps to bring the focus back to God's gift of life.

My poor children, they are going to have the most bizarre upbringing.

So many Pontifical Universities, so little time . . .

In the year 2006 I resolve to:

Find out who I got that STD from.

Get your resolution here

A Reason to Celebrate

HARTLEY BAY, British Columbia, Feb. 4 — In this sodden land of glacier-cut fjords and giant moss-draped cedars, a myth is told by the Gitga'at people to explain the presence of black bears with a rare recessive gene that makes them white as snow.

The Raven deity swooped down on the land at the end of an ice age and decided that one out of every 10 black bears born from that moment on would be bleached as "spirit bears." It was to be a reminder to future generations that the world must be kept pristine.

On Tuesday, an improbable assemblage of officials from the provincial government, coastal Native Canadian nations, logging companies and environmental groups will announce an agreement that they say will accomplish that mission in the home of the spirit bear, an area that is also the world's largest remaining intact temperate coastal rain forest.

A wilderness of close to five million acres, almost the size of New Jersey, in what is commonly called the Great Bear Rain Forest or the Amazon of the North will be kept off limits to loggers in an agreement that the disparate parties describe as a crossroads in their relations.

Scientists say the agreement should preserve not only the few hundred spirit bears and other black bears, but also one of the highest concentrations of grizzly bears in North America as well as unique subspecies of goshawks, coastal wolves, Sitka blacktail deer and mountain goats.

I'm thinking of going to visit after I graduate. Anyone want to camp out with some bears with me?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Recovery CD scam?

"I had to pay HP for system recovery CDs because I wanted to reload everything when my computer was malfunctioning," one reader wrote. "My computer is over four years old, so of course it is no longer under warranty. I could not get the computer to recognize the recovery CDs that HP sent me, so I had to call the HP tech number again. Now HP wants to charge me $45 to tell me how to make the recovery CDs they sent me work. They said this happens a lot with these CDs."

This is why I prefer to install my own OS.

A Jewish view of Catholic morality

Hector sent me this fascinating article. And it is indeed weird.

Don't get me wrong. The Catholics had caveats, and the Jews had ambiguities. But caveats and ambiguities are different things. The Catholics were clear about what was moral and what wasn't. The Jews were fuzzy. The best part of the show was George's cross-examination of Krauthammer on the definitions of "creature" and "human." It was like Socrates trying to carve up a bowl of chicken soup. Periodically, Kass waded into the fray to say on the one hand this, on the other hand that. The original ban on funding of destructive embryo research "wasn't written at Sinai," he joked. "And even the things that were written at Sinai are" - he groped for a rabbinical exit - "under review."

I guess I don't really understand how to be a moral actor in a world in which everything is always under review. Certainties, based on reason, are the way I think about things. Perhaps the idea I'm going at is best summed up here:

He admires Catholics for their faith in reason - "the faith required to live with the consequences of their conclusions," even when intuition screams the other way. "You have to have a ridiculous faith in reason to let your child die rather than use an embryo to save them," he says, staring at the table.

The Catholic view, it seems, requires feelings to be subservient to thinking. I'm guessing that this isn't too common outside of the Church.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

East meets beast

Thanks to TWA for this reminder of the chaos affecting the Greeks. This is, I think, an area of no little interest to some readers.

Christians in Syria have declined from 30% of the population to under 10%.

The Lebanese constitution specifically states that the President must be a Maronite Catholic. In Lebanon, however, formerly a majority Christian nation, Christians now make up less than 30% of the population.

In recent years, Coptic Christians (13% of the Egyptian population) who trace their origins to Saint Mark, have been fleeing Egypt in the face of persecution.

In all the discussions we’ve heard lately about personal liberty, religious tolerance, the democratization of the Middle East, and a “place at the table” for all the various Islamic sects, has anyone in the United States government, the news media, or either political party ever shown one whit of concern for these people? In our pursuit of peace with Islam, they seem to have become non-persons, unworthy of mention in polite company, let alone of protection as members of the human race. Even the Evangelical community seems far more interested in trying to plant new churches in the Islamic world than in keeping the ones that have been there for 2,000 years from being wiped out.

Imposing your religion?

Unlike most people I know in journalism, I am a pro-lifer. When accused of this unpardonable heresy after years of being categorized as a nonreligious liberal, I quote a letter in the Feb. 18, 1990, Journal of the American Medical Association by a North Carolina physician, Dr. Joel Hylton:

"Who can deny that the fetus is alive and is a separate entity? Its humanity also cannot be questioned scientifically. It is certainly of no other species. That it is dependent on another makes it qualitatively no different from countless other humans outside the womb. It strikes me that to argue one may take an innocent life to preserve the quality of life of another is cold ..."

As a reporter, I usually am able to understand why people with whom I disagree, think and act the way they do; but I am at a loss to understand how an abortionist finds his daily vocation in deliberately, brutally ending a human life.

Indeed, the city of God and the city of this world are mixed up at the present time. But not for all time.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Good advice on monetary support of the Church

I always find that giving away money, whether in payment or charity, is one of the hardest things that I do. Now, of course, it shouldn't be like that, but I've lived a pretty materialistic (not the philosophy) life for a long time and it's difficult for me to place high value on affairs of the Spirit, rather than affairs of the moolah.

I suspect, however, that it'll be a long time before I'm really ready to give up stuff. Sigh.

Protect your identity

Be careful what password you choose. Someone else might just guess it. Unpredictability is key, and we usually choose passwords that follow some pretty simple rules.


Despite warnings on its own Web site about making unauthorized copies, the Motion (Overview, Articles, Company) Picture Association of America apparently did just that to a film called “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” a documentary about how the MPAA rates movies (which itself garnered the too-naughty-for-nice-folks rating of NC-17). The association claims the filmmaker was stalking members of its ratings board, so it made a digital copy and locked it away for legal reasons. Uh huh. I hear that MPAA officials have agreed to not distribute the film as a BitTorrent (Overview, Articles, Company) file, but they were unwilling to give up the eye patch and the peg leg.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Locker room chaos

Apparently a woman was sueing a local hockey association in Canada for the right of her daughter to use the same locker room as the guys, because having two locker rooms is discriminatory.

As a male, of course, I applaud any move to have more nude women around. As a Catholic, however, I feel that there's something fishy about the whole thing. I mean . . . I don't even know. It's just odd.

Haywire computer


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Jimmy Akin B16 Update

The head of the Jesuits has resigned, as has the auxiliary bishop of Detroit known for his homophilia. Coincidence? Or heads rolling?

What's going on in the King family?

And I don't mean the piddling $5,000. That's a small symptom of the larger malady. I refer you to the King family's 1993 lawsuit against USA Today for reprinting the "I Have A Dream" speech and their subsequent licensing of King's image and voice for use in television commercials, one of which placed him between Homer Simpson and Kermit the Frog. Then there's the attempt to sell his personal papers for $20 million. Perhaps most galling was the family's demand to be paid to allow construction of a King monument on the Washington Mall.

Yes, it's all legal. But if Dr. King's life taught us nothing else, it taught us that legality and morality are not necessarily the same.

I don't mind the King family making money. But not at all costs, and certainly, not at the cost of Martin Luther King's dignity. Granted, dignity is subjective and you might draw the line in a different place than I. But I suspect most of us would agree that when a martyr, minister and American hero becomes a TV character hawking cell phones with Homer Simpson, that line has been well and truly crossed.

Don't these things go into the public domain at some point?

Besides, how can you need rights to make a statue of a public figure? Weird.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Some lovely terrorism in the Philippines

Manila, Feb. 03 (AsiaNews) - A cold-blooded massacre of Christians in the Philippines, believed to be the work of Muslim terrorists, has raised fears of a full-scale religious conflict in the region around Mindanao, the AsiaNews service reports.

Gunmen broke into a farm in the small town of Patikul and killed six people, including a 9-month-old baby girl, after first having asked if they were Christians. Five others were wounded in the attack.

The gunmen were believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf organization, a Muslim extremist group with links to al Qaida. Muslim terrorists have been active in the region around Mindanao.

[For a more detailed report see the AsiaNews web site.]

A little gem from Andrew

PARIS, Feb. 2 — An international dispute over European newspaper cartoons deemed blasphemous by some Muslims gained momentum today as gunmen threatened the European Union offices in the Gaza Strip and more European papers pointedly published the drawings as an affirmation of their freedom of speech.

Hmm I think next time some Muslim political leader says that Jesus didn't die on the cross I'm going to take over the Saudi embassy or something, for blasphemy against Christ. I'm quite sure that would be interesting.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

And now for something completely different

I've been spending time here lately, i.e. the Columbia gym, due to a looming gym requirement to graduate. I feel a little better, and I can go up a lot more flights of stairs without passing out, which is I think the mark of a fit geek. However, I must admit that my eating habits do not easily adjust to a weight-loss program. Of course, it's been a grand total of two weeks.

Point being, a little exercise makes for a better Squach, or so I hope.

Quo Zed est?

Zed has had an article in the queue for a few days that looks good, but no posts. Perhaps there's been a death in the alphabet?

Vatican and SSPX in talks?

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos (bio - news), who is president of the Ecclesia Dei commission established by Pope John Paul II (bio - news) to coordinate the Vatican's pastoral outreach to Catholic traditionalists, has declined to comment recently on talks with the SSPX. However, an informed Vatican source has confirmed, in talks with the I Media news agency, that the Vatican will soon hold an important meeting to discuss a plan "the eventual reconciliation of the Church with the SSPX." That disclosure seems to match the Il Giornale report regarding the February 13 meeting.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the SSPX, has recently given indications that substantial progress has been made in the latest negotiations with Rome. "The discussions have been lengthy, but there have probably been the most fruitful that we have had to date," he told reporters at a press conference in Paris on January 13. The SSPX leader said that the talks were aimed toward the "regularization" of the status of the traditionalist group.

However, this puts their catholicity in doubt:

The SSPX leader explained his reluctance to accept a quick reconciliation. "If we sign today," he disclosed, "not all of our faithful would follow us." A hard-line faction within the SSPX, led by Bishop Richard Williamson, has indicated that it is likely to oppose any reconciliation with the Holy See.

Faithful to the Church, ummm perhaps not.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

When you and a direct report are chums

The hard life of the manager who becomes friends with his reports. Work v. Family.

Congressional Letter Calls on NIH to Address Abortion, Depression Link

Apparently the right-wing bastion of New Zealand found that abortion and poor mental health correlate well. The NIH probably isn't too interested in doing research on the subject, would be my guess.


The fact that polls have consistently demonstrated Canadians are split down the middle on the issue, seem to have been lost on Bailey as she writes, "It would also be a costly and perhaps fruitless attempt to redefine marriage as the sole domain of one man, one woman - a fight that would only shine a spotlight on the party's most extreme social conservatives."

Redefine marriage . . . weird.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?