Friday, February 29, 2008

Be aware of symbolism

Today I learned that the name of one of my favorite bands is also the name of a series of nuclear tests. This is just the sort of ambiguity that could lead to a lifetime of unexplained emnity or a swift kick to the private parts if misinterpreted in the wrong company.

Me - "I'm a big fan of Operation Ivy"
Pacific Islander - "Good thing I brought my gun today"


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Make a decision, any decision

A fascinating study at MIT about how people always want to keep their options open, even if the option has cost but no benefit. I'm sure you know a few people who are like this ordering in a diner. It pretty much describes me when trying to build a computer. I'm not going to tell you how long it took me to pick my latest motherboard, but let's just say that nations have risen and fallen in less time.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why God and IRC don't mix


*** Now talking in #christian
-Word_of_God- Welcome Abstruse to #christian I am a Bible Bot. For more info type: /msg Word_of_God !info
!kjv numbers 22:21
Numbers 22:21 -- And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. - (KJV)
*** SageRider sets mode: +b *!*
*** Word_of_God was kicked from #christian by SageRider (Please dont Swear)
I know I'm never going to be able to come back in this channel again after this, but damn was it worth it to see that...

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nice reflection on Sunday's reading from the Passionists

O Jesus,
Image of the invisible God,
Word made flesh,
tired stranger,
waiting in the noonday lull
at Jacob’s well.

Are we all
the woman with her waterjar,
bent on the chore of the moment,
angry memories in our bones,
our thirst for God
hidden in the business of the day?

Do you meet us gently too,
hardly recognized,
quietly leading our thoughts
towards the deeper waters,
where our souls find rest?

Probing too,
uncovering secrets
we would rather forget.
“Lord, you have probed me,
You know when I sit and when I stand,
You know my thoughts from afar.”

Is the woman,
sure and strong,
our reflection:
sure but unsure,
strong but so weak,
seeking but afraid to find
our Savior so close by?


Pro Life Fictions?

The film being reviewed was a stark Romanian film "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days," about how a pregnant woman and her friend try to get her an appointment with an illegal abortionist, who terminates the pregnancy, but also rapes them both. Hornaday's long Style review used the "consoling fictions" line:

Although every member of the ensemble cast delivers a tone-perfect performance, the movie belongs to Marinca, who conveys a welter of emotions -- sweetness, anger, shame -- with flawless conviction, often in wordless glance or gesture. American audiences who have been treated to such consoling fictions as "Knocked Up" and "Juno" in recent months here finally have an example of filmmaking that dares to be honest about the high stakes of women's reproductive lives.

Only pro-abortion movies are honest about the lives of women. Women who finish their pregnancies are somehow outside reality, at least at the cineplex. When Hornaday scorns the choose-life movies in the Weekend section, the copy is different:

When he shows the aftermath of the termination (the title refers to the pregnancy's term), the image is at once shocking and courageous, mournful and accusatory of the [anti-abortion communist] regime that made such extremes necessary. The movie stands in stark contrast to an American film culture in a thrall to such cutesy fictions as "Knocked Up" and "Juno." For a real doodle that can't be undid -- and one put in a very real and relevant historical context -- Mungiu has given us the right, real thing.

This is par for the course (coarse?) from Hornaday, who thought "The Passion of the Christ" was unreal (it was "troubling" to rely on the Gospels as history) and yet found "The Last Temptation of Christ" a "devout" masterpiece. A few months later, she found unmistakeable authenticity in the Christian-bashing flop satire "Saved!"

Truth is death, life is fiction?

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Saturday, February 23, 2008


Another link from Business Week. Proof that once again, 4D is hipper than thou.


STDs in B'more

My housemate told me last night that our neighborhood (Brooklyn in Baltimore) has the highest percentage of syphilis in the nation. I know our neighborhood has the highest rate of prostitution and child prostitution in Baltimore, so that would make sense. But still, the highest in the nation?? Well, I looked up rates of syphilis on the CDC website and found out that Baltimore does in fact have the highest percentage of Gonorrhea in the nation and the third highest for syphilis. Yay for Baltimore! Couple this with the fact that according to Business Week Magazine, Baltimore is also the most toxic city in America. Now I'm beginning to get a little depressed about where I live. I live in a city infamous for crime, drugs, STDs, and toxic waste sites.

Now I actually like my new hometown and am considering staying here, but I'm just a bit distressed about the situation its in, and if I stick around here, I may have to return to my activist college roots.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Chucn Norris v SOA

I find this way too funny.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Freshman Say the Darndest Things

One of the questions posed to a freshman physical science class was:"Explain what it means to say that the water molecule is a polar molecule."

One girl wrote, "A water molecule is a polar molecule because polar
molecules are made of ice. The H2O can be frozen in to (sic) polar
molecules. It all depends on the temperature."

Courtesy of Mr. Mason

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Office files may be hard to parse

But that doesn't mean Microsoft is evil. It just means that Microsoft wrote them for a very different world and has been forced to keep them going to avoid chaos in the business world.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Pill and The Water

ST. JOHN, New Brunswick, February 18, 2008 ( - A study by Dr. Karen Kidd, of the University of New Brunswick and the Canadian Rivers Institute, found that estrogen from birth control pills flooding into the water system through sewage adversely affects fish populations.

The researchers added estrogen to an experimental lake at a level commonly found in the treated wastewater from cities with about 200,000 people. The researchers discovered that one consequence is that exposed male fish become feminized, producing a protein normally found in females. Chronic exposure to estrogen led to the near extinction of the lake's fathead minnow population, as well as significant declines in larger fish, such as pearl dace and lake trout.

Sed Contra, before he took his blog down, had written about this and found a fascinating interview where one of the people running a similar study basically recommended that nothing be done about it, because fixing anything would affect people's sex lives. It's a good article to keep in mind the next time someone tells you a hydro or nuclear power plant is killing the fishies - looks like this here pill kills more fishies than a lot of power plants.

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Too many saints!

Just kidding. You can never have too many saints. But you can have too many people clogging up the canonization process.

Another problem, he added, has been the willingness of some dioceses to open causes without "a serious and rigorous verification of the fame of sanctity or martyrdom." He stressed that a cause should not begin unless the candidate is already "held to be a saint or martyr by a considerable number of faithful."

Which isn't good for anyone involved.


Monday, February 18, 2008

I always learn something new on Presidents' Day

This is Congress job description as mandated by Section Eight of the United States Consitution “Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” This is their job and they need to be in full compliance with it and tell the President NO when he wants to cut taxes.

Tax cuts are illegal and an act of treason!!!!

I hadn't realized that tax cuts were unconstitutional. That must be in the same part of the Constitution where they talk about the right to procure abortions.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Kosovo Declares Its Independence From Serbia

Yeah I saw guys driving around the Bronx with Albanian flags honking their horns so I figured Kosovo had made its move.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

What's for dinner

So there's a deer hunt on in NJ because they're becomming something of a public nuisance. Here are some comments in the Times and my responses.

But to Carol Rivielle, a retired schoolteacher who has been fighting plans for the cull for eight years, it is “a barbaric slaughter of our animals.” Mrs. Rivielle’s 135-member group, Save Our Wildlife, has protested twice at the reservation since January as “a voice for the deer that have no voice,” she said. “It is sickening, the thought of these beautiful deer being hunted down in this way.”

The thought may be sickening, but the taste is so delicious that I'm willing to overlook the thought. I'm sure the people in the soup kitchens dining on venison don't mind too much either.

Instead of killing animals, Mrs. Rivielle said, the county should install more roadside reflectors to deter deer and try experimental contraception that will soon be on the market. But Mr. DiVincenzo said that road reflectors were unreliable, and that the county had tried to trap and transfer deer but “they died on the way, and that was very inhumane.” As for deer contraception, he said, it is too expensive and “doesn’t work here because this is an uncontrolled, free-ranging population.”

Contraceptives? For deer? Say what? I'm not really sure that a team of scientists running around trying to get deer to essentially promise to use condoms every time is really going to do much. I just thought about this idea again and my brain hurt even more. And again.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Catholics Have Stopped Caring about Teachings on Marriage

There are, I know, many Catholic couples in the US who are faithfully living out their vocations, deeply devoted to each other and to their children. (It seems appropriate to wish them all a Happy Valentine's Day!) But their love does not show through the cold statistics assembled by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University in a report made public this week. The report, based on interviews with adult Catholics, shows a widespread indifference to the Church's teachings on marriage.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hey! You took my Kidney!

In recent years, many Indian cities - like Chennai in southern India - have become hubs of a murky business in kidney transplants, despite a 1994 nationwide ban on human organ sales (the Transplant of Human Organ Act states only relatives of patients can donate kidneys).

An influx of patients, mainly foreigners, seeking the transplants, has made the illicit market a lucrative business. Some analysts say the business thrives for the same reasons that have made India a top destination for medical tourism: low cost and qualified doctors. In fact, medical tourism is expected to reach $2.2 billion by 2012, according to government estimates.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

O God come to my assistance...

I was wondering where in the Scriptures the opening prayer for the Liturgy of the Hours came from and found the above little web page. Quite interesting! As usual in the Catholic Church, the roots for such little traditions run quite deep.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Everyone's first VI session

Polygamy comes to Canada and the UK

Let the good times roll!

In Britain, however, the rules directly allow claims for multiple wives, after a year long government review of the system. Ministers admit that they have no "exact record" of how many such arrangements are active in Britain or how much money the payouts will ultimately cost the government. A Muslim man with the maximum of four spouses permitted under Islamic law could receive £10,000 a year in income support alone.

The new rules state: "Where there is a valid polygamous marriage the claimant and one spouse will be paid the couple rate (£92.80). The amount payable for each additional spouse is presently £33.65." The decision comes after a year of review and applies if the multiple marriages occurred out of the country in jurisdictions where such arrangements are legal.

Hey ladies, if anyone wants to live in the UK and get paid, get a few friends together. This is so much better than the gay marriage apartment scam I had going with W.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

A spot of good liturgical news

A group associated with SSPX has agreed to accept the new Latin missal revisions so recently released.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Hornet's Nest

How a scientist researching fetal pain and infant pain reacted to a paper from another researcher:

What about a fetus that draws back at the touch of a scalpel? Rosen says that, at least early on, this movement is a reflex, like a leg that jerks when tapped by a doctor’s rubber mallet. Likewise, the release of stress hormones doesn’t necessarily indicate the experience of pain; stress hormones are also elevated, for example, in the bodies of brain-dead patients during organ harvesting. In order for pain to be felt, he maintains, the pain signal must be able to travel from receptors located all over the body, to the spinal cord, up through the brain’s thalamus and finally into the cerebral cortex.

. . .

Sunny Anand reacted strongly, even angrily, to the article’s conclusions. Rosen and his colleagues have “stuck their hands into a hornet’s nest,” Anand said at the time. “This is going to inflame a lot of scientists who are very, very concerned and are far more knowledgeable in this area than the authors appear to be. This is not the last word — definitely not.”

What's kind of scary is this little bit:

Twenty-five years ago, when Kanwaljeet Anand was a medical resident in a neonatal intensive care unit, his tiny patients, many of them preterm infants, were often wheeled out of the ward and into an operating room. He soon learned what to expect on their return. The babies came back in terrible shape: their skin was gray, their breathing shallow, their pulses weak. Anand spent hours stabilizing their vital signs, increasing their oxygen supply and administering insulin to balance their blood sugar.

“What’s going on in there to make these babies so stressed?” Anand wondered. Breaking with hospital practice, he wrangled permission to follow his patients into the O.R. “That’s when I discovered that the babies were not getting anesthesia,” he recalled recently. Infants undergoing major surgery were receiving only a paralytic to keep them still. . . . Doctors were convinced that newborns’ nervous systems were too immature to sense pain, and that the dangers of anesthesia exceeded any potential benefits.

Newborns can't sense pain? I'm rather . . . surprised that this was, or is, a common medical belief. A good thing to keep in mind - Doctors are humans and are not all knowing or all seeing. Often their thoughts get caught up in the nature of their work, like the police chief or prosecutor who believes a suspect is guilty despite having no evidence:

Mr. Tankleff was convicted of the murders by a Suffolk County jury in 1990, largely on the basis of an incomplete confession, written out for him by detectives, which he repudiated almost immediately and never signed. The confession was elicited in a lengthy interrogation during which detectives tricked him, they later admitted: They told him that his father — who was in a coma for a month after being attacked but who never awakened before he died — had regained consciousness and identified him as his attacker.

James McCready, the Suffolk detective who led the interrogation, said during the trial that such tactics were not uncommon because all criminal suspects have one trait in common: “They all lie.”

All suspects lie. Not that even all criminals lie, but anyone suspected by anyone of violating a law must be lying. That may be a useful tool to analyze a case, but to really believe that it's true. . . not so smart.

Kind of like believing that newborns don't feel pain because, well, we don't use anesthesia, so obviously they're not feeling pain. Otherwise we'd use anesthesia, right?

Mmm. Wrong.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

And Everyone Thought I Was Making This Up

Some couples move in together rather quickly just because a lease has run out. Some can’t decide who moves where because neither wants to give up a good deal on an apartment. Others make the leap and marry because they fear that a co-op board will reject them if they are just living together. And there are people who rule out potential partners simply because of where they live. 

Fabulous apartments at equally fabulous prices are so hard to come by in New York that the possession of one, or lack thereof, can easily tip the balance in a relationship. While major life changes like marriage and children influence real estate decisions in all parts of the country, the scarcity of New York real estate bargains actually seems to cause life changes, or at least push them along.



Addressing the McGill Business Conference on Sustainability, Mr. Suzuki implored a packed audience of 600 to help Canada balance its economic and ecological interests, and pointed to environmental dangers such as the tarsands in Alberta. Toward the end of the extemporaneous speech, he said that, "we can no longer tolerate what's going on in Ottawa and Edmonton" and then encouraged attendees to hold politicians accountable for what he called an "intergenerational crime" of dismissing the evidence of climate change.

"What I would challenge you to do is to put a lot of effort into trying to see whether there's a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail because what they're doing is a criminal act," said Mr. Suzuki, who then received vigorous applause.

If you can't convince people of your ideas, throw them in jail. It's empowering.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Archbishop Chaput on freedom of religion and gov't funding

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Latin changes

ROME — Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday issued a replacement for a contentious Good Friday prayer in Latin, removing language that many Jewish groups found offensive but still calling for the Jews’ conversion.

However, representatives of Jewish groups as well as traditionalist Catholics quickly condemned the new prayer, though for different reasons. Jewish groups said it was still offensive, and traditionalists said they preferred the version that was replaced.

. . .

Rabbi Rosen, while saying he was pleased that language he found offensive was removed, objected to the new prayer because it specified that Jews should find redemption specifically in Christ. He noted that the standard Mass, issued after the liberalizations of the Second Vatican Council, also contained a prayer for the Jews’ “redemption” but did not specifically invoke Christ, stressing rather God’s original covenant with Jews.

It's unfortunate that Rabbi Rosen is objecting to the very crux of what redemption is. Obviously he honestly think that there is such a thing as redemption outside of Christ. I mean, he's Jewish. Good so far. But he also seems to honestly think that the Church can think the same.

Here he misses a few important points.

Firstly, if you're Catholic, Christ is God. It doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense to object to the prayer invoking Christ but be ok with the one invoking God because to the Church this is in some ways an equivalent statement. I mean, not in the strongest sense of the word "is", but without getting into a serious discussion on Christology I think we can casually invoke some sort of equivalence here.

Secondly, I think that this excerpt from the second section of Dominus Iesus is relevant.

In this regard, John Paul II has explicitly declared: “To introduce any sort of separation between the Word and Jesus Christ is contrary to the Christian faith... Jesus is the Incarnate Word — a single and indivisible person... Christ is none other than Jesus of Nazareth; he is the Word of God made man for the salvation of all... In the process of discovering and appreciating the manifold gifts — especially the spiritual treasures — that God has bestowed on every people, we cannot separate those gifts from Jesus Christ, who is at the centre of God's plan of salvation”.31

It is likewise contrary to the Catholic faith to introduce a separation between the salvific action of the Word as such and that of the Word made man. With the incarnation, all the salvific actions of the Word of God are always done in unity with the human nature that he has assumed for the salvation of all people. The one subject which operates in the two natures, human and divine, is the single person of the Word.

Thirdly, I'm not sure invoking Vatican II will buy much. I'm not in a mood to go and put together a post on the topic, but Vatican II certainly said that missionary activity is mandatory, and I don't recall any exceptions. If anyone can produce a link otherwise I shall post it here.

At least Rabbi Rosen's position is more put together than SSPX's.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Book Binding

A new hobby for the lenten season.

A start to Lent

Another picture that our Lord loves to use is that of the shepherd who goes out to look for the sheep that is lost (Mt 18:12ff). So long as we imagine that it is we who have to look for God, then we must often lose heart. But is the other way about: he is looking for us. And so we can afford to recognise that very often we are not looking for God; far from it, we are in full flight from him, in high rebellion against him. And he knows that and has taken it into account. He has followed us into our own darnkess; there where we thought finally to escape him, we run straight into his arms.

Prayer: Living with God, by Simon Tugwell. P. 52. Amazon

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Coulter's for Hillary over McCain

This is almost enough to make me want to vote for McCain not knowing anything else about anyone.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008


For anyone who wants to learn to samba between now and say... tomorrow. Happy Mardi Gras/Carnaval/Carnival! Get silly!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Jesus V. Chuck Norris

Apparently Chuck Norris actually beat him in search volume for about a month. Amazing.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Catholic view on Romney?

Good Romney?

Bad Romney?

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Reasons why Opera hasn't won the browser wars

I guess I never noticed that it wasn't the same as IE or Firefox because I never really used those browsers.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Atomic Anne

Or, why France has a productive nuclear power industry and what we can do about it.

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