Sunday, August 24, 2008

All for the money!

For some reason I found this hilarious:

Meanwhile, the vaccines’ proponents are moving to the next frontier: older women and boys. Merck recently applied for approval to market the vaccine to women 26 to 45 and is conducting studies on vaccinating boys, who can get genital warts from HPV.

One rationale for inoculating boys is that entire populations should be vaccinated to achieve what is called herd immunity. But critics ask whether it is worth conducting a campaign on the scale of the one used against polio to eliminate a generally harmless virus.

Said Dr. Raffle, the British cervical cancer specialist: “Oh, dear. If we give it to boys, then all pretense of scientific worth and cost analysis goes out the window.”

But at least it's good for the drug companies.

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More than bread

For all those who like to do homework on Sundays:

When the Jewish people finally entered the Land of Israel and settled it, the manna stopped falling. Real bread was now necessary for the existence of the nation and of its individual members. This proved to be and continues to be one of the supreme tests of national and individual Jewish life — how does one retain a sense of spirituality while toiling to acquire bread to live on?

Providing time for the study of Torah, performing mitzvos (religious duties) and granting priority to true Jewish values in our lives helps us answer this difficult question. Sabbath and the holidays also provide us with an escape from pursuing bread alone and allow us to refocus our attention on our Creator-created relationship.

It is not for naught that the rabbis insisted that our speech and even our thoughts on Sabbath and the holidays not deal with the bread of daily toil and struggle. Instead we are to treat the food of Sabbath as though it were of heavenly origin.

I think there's a lesson to be learned here.

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Free software on a firmer legal basis

In a ruling Wednesday, the federal appeals court in Washington said that just because a software programmer gave his work away did not mean it could not be protected.

The decision legitimizes the use of commercial contracts for the distribution of computer software and digital artistic works for the public good. The court ruling also bolsters the open-source movement by easing the concerns of large organizations about relying on free software from hobbyists and hackers who have freely contributed time and energy without pay.



Friday, August 22, 2008

Beyond Good, Evil, and Education

I was drinking coffee recently as I finished up a bit of "Thus Spoke Zarathustra". Coming up for air, I asked a philisophically minded friend his opinion of the work. His response was something along the lines of "You believe in God, so you will find it depressing and not worth your time, so don't read it."

I disagree with his analysis. While it's true that I'm not going to turn out to be a big Nietzsche fan anytime soon, I think it's important to engage the great thinkers of the world, especially when they disagree with you. It breeds a better understanding of others and hopefully a better understanding of self. Hopefully. It is not unknown for someone to read a book and go a bit crazy with their newfound knowledge. I am happy to report that I was able to negotiate the novel with no loss of life.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Because you can never have too many Rosaries

I have recently discovered the joys of hand-made Rosaries on Etsy.

A former spiritual director from my beloved Church in Oakland in directing me to pray the Rosary daily taught me that it was helpful to have a very beautiful Rosary with a nice feel to it, something that is a delight to touch and behold and you instinctively clutch. I thought his advice slightly silly at first, because isn't what's in your heart more important that what's in your hands when you pray? I heeded his advice however. I only had a very simple Rosary with small beads. It is a treasure to me because it was the same one I had since first communion and I had used it throughout childhood and still have it and treasure it. But I thought, perhaps it's time for an upgrade, since I was getting more serious about my Rosaries. So I went to Sagrada on Telegraph, which was in walking distance of my apartment. There I found a beautiful blue crystal Rosary, which had Marian medals as the Our Father beads. I immediately loved it and rushed to take it back to St. Margaret Mary's and have Fr. Wiener bless it. Since then it has been one of my primary Rosaries. But I have found keeping multiple Rosaries helpful. I keep one in room by my bed, one in the Chapel downstairs (I live in a convent of sorts), one in my car, one in my purse. I received a Rosary upon entering Operation TEACH and have in this past year acquired several more. One day I went to Church without a Rosary and a church-lady felt the need to press a Rosary that smells of roses into my hands. I went on a youth pilgrimage in downtown Baltimore on the eve of Palm Sunday and received a beautiful Rosary from the Knights of Columbus and had it blessed by the new Archbishop O'Brien.

I know some people simply count their Hail Marys on their fingers, and indeed there is something to be said for that. I however, have found having beautiful beads a helpful aide to the devotion. If there is something worthy of fine craftsmanship and art it is surely the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sometimes just holding a Rosary directs my thoughts Christ-ward and begins an unconscious praying.

So I am all in favor of beautiful Rosaries. If you want the recommendation of some good sellers on Etsy, just ask and I'll pass on some names. And if you want a Rosary, just ask, and I'll send one your way. :-)

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Protecting the Divine Name

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, announced the new Vatican "directives on the use of 'the name of God' in the sacred liturgy" in an Aug. 8 letter to his fellow bishops.

. . .

Kelly Dobbs-Mickus, senior editor at GIA Publications, told CNS Aug. 11 that the policy, which dates to 1986, was based not on Vatican directives but on sensitivity to concerns among observant Jews about pronouncing the name of God. As an example, she cited Heinrich Schutz's "Thanks Be to Yahweh," which appears in a GIA hymnal under the title "Thanks Be to God."

Bishop Serratelli said the Vatican decision also would provide "an opportunity to offer catechesis for the faithful as an encouragement to show reverence for the name of God in daily life, emphasizing the power of language as an act of devotion and worship."

Sounds like a win win win situation. Jews are happy, bad music goes away, people become more reverent.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dancing around the world

It's pretty funny. Really.


Apparently I missed WYD

Good thing the speaches are online.

But what of our social environment? Are we equally alert to the signs of turning our back on the moral structure with which God has endowed humanity (cf. 2007 World Day of Peace Message, 8)? Do we recognize that the innate dignity of every individual rests on his or her deepest identity - as image of the Creator - and therefore that human rights are universal, based on the natural law, and not something dependent upon negotiation or patronage, let alone compromise? And so we are led to reflect on what place the poor and the elderly, immigrants and the voiceless, have in our societies. How can it be that domestic violence torments so many mothers and children? How can it be that the most wondrous and sacred human space – the womb – has become a place of unutterable violence?


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A little bit on the importance of "ritual"

Those who scoff the Law of Moses (Jewish or Gentile) say, “Does G-d really care whether you ….(eat the flesh of a cow or the flesh of a pig, turn a light on on the Sabbath or not, eat leavened or unleavened bread on Passover etc. etc.) These questions, or rather, this challenge to the validity of Jewish piety, is proposed even by religious Gentiles, even deeply religious Gentiles. The Jewish answer, of course, is that G-d cares very much whether we fulfill or do not fulfill the external acts He commanded in the Law of Moses.

An interesting little piece that explains why, for example, eating meat on Friday leads to . . . well I was about to type something rather vulgar here, but then my blog would be NSFW. How about we say, it leads to a marked decrease in prayer and piety.

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