Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Health Care Fairy Tale

An explanation from Bob Herbert, posted in the Op-Ed of the New York Times:

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, less than 18 percent of the revenue will come from the tax itself. The rest of the $150 billion, more than 82 percent of it, will come from the income taxes paid by workers who have been given pay raises by employers who will have voluntarily handed over the money they saved by offering their employees less valuable health insurance plans.

Can you believe it?

And the entire nation had affordable health care, everyone had coverage, costs didn't rise, and people could choose to keep their current coverage if they wanted to. And everyone lived happily ever after.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Accidental Fraud

So, I made a student loan payment online and miss-typed the account number for my bank account. I didn't realize it and the payment of $235 cleared two weeks ago, but was never subtracted from my checking account. I called the company I paid and they claim they received the money. I called my bank and they said they have no pending payments. I went online and looked up the payment and realized I miss-typed the account number. So somebody paid my bill, but not me.

I spent an hour today trying to sort this out. The student loan company insists it needs to be resolved with my bank. (I called the student loan company three times.) So I called my bank, and after 45 minutes and talking to 6 different people, including several managers, they are insisting that they don't have an account by that number and I should resolve it with the student loan company.

I don't have time for this. I'm thinking of just keeping the $235.

Shouldn't the technology be better. I mean if the account number and name don't match up, how is it I was able to make a payment. What's to stop me from paying off my entire student loan right now with this mystery account?

Something is royally screwed up. I just don't want to get in trouble for fraud and stealing money.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Baltimore CPCs

It appears that crisis pregnancy centers in Baltimore are in crisis themselves. The Baltimore City Council is singling out these few agencies that provide distressed women with hope and options.

Pro-life leaders are vowing to fight a measure passed Nov. 23 by the Baltimore City Council that imposes new requirements on four pregnancy resource centers in the city.

The bill, approved in a 12-3 vote, requires pro-life pregnancy centers to post signs stating that they do not provide abortion or birth control.
This makes about as much sense as walking into a social worker's office and posting a sign that states they do not provide euthanasia.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Catholic Health Association & LCWR endorse Senate abortion compromise

Interestingly, in the New York Times today, a headline read "Catholic Health Group Backs Senate Abortion Compromise" but the headline on the New York Times website reads "Catholic Group Supports Senate on Abortion Aid." The second headline makes it sound as though Catholic groups are endorsing abortion funding, when really what they are endorsing is efforts to provide health care for the uninsured.

I found the theological discussion behind this interesting. I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that Catholic teaching states that one cannot support any evil, even if it is with the intention of supporting a seemingly greater good. For example, Catholic officials cannot advocate distribution of condoms in populations ridden with venereal disease, because it is an illicit form of birth control, even though condom use could arguably save many lives. So we cannot support a bill that even remotely supports abortion, even though that bill could save or at least improve millions of people's lives by providing health care to those without insurance.

Honestly, I find this confusing. From the way I understood it, federal funding of abortion seems very limited in the current bill, and can be eradicated on a state by state basis. That seems pretty good to me. But when I saw the second headline online, it made me reconsider. Does supporting this bill effectively support federal aid to abortion?

Isn't this all a moot point anyways? Don't our tax dollars already fund abortion? According to Planned Parenthood's 2007/2008 Annual Report, the "non-profit" agency received 349.6 million dollars from government grants and contracts. This is not to mention the billions of money funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As far as I'm concerned, our tax dollars are already bathed in blood.

I certainly don't support funding abortion, but I do support efforts toward a health care reform that affirms the dignity and value of each individual and regards health as a right, not a privilege. Of course the ideal and the messy reality, even that promised by the most optimistic of reformers, are far from congruent. But at least it appears a step in the right direction.

I'm still sorting all this out, so any comments on the topic are greatly appreciated.

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Lacking common sense


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The angel of the Lord declard unto Mary...

The above is Leonardo DaVinci's rendering of The Annunciation, perhaps one of the most painted Biblical moments in iconography. Much ink has been spilled in analyzing this single moment in history, and much paint carefully layered in capturing it. Advent and Christmas are good times in the liturgical year to pause and contemplate such works of art. One of my favorites is the triptych of the Annunciation known as the Merode Altarpiece, part of the Cloister's permanent collection. It was painted by the Netherlandish painter Robert Campin, or at least by his associates.
This is also a good time of year to turn our spiritual reading, lectio divina, and prayers, to the theme of the Incarnation. One of my favorite prayers, is the Angelus. This prayer was traditionally said three times a day and accompanied by the tolling of bells at 6 am, noon, and 6 pm. It can be traced back to the Middle Ages, but like the Rosary and other popular prayers, it did not appear suddenly in Church history, but rather has evolved organically over time. With certitude we know it was being said in Franciscan orders in Italy as early as the thirteenth century, but originally as an accompaniment to compline. In the writings of St. Bonaventure there is reference made to the tolling of bells and the prayer of three Hail Marys at compline. Also in Franciscan texts is it noted that the laity in the area were included in this prayer.

Later monastic directives include instructions for the ringing of the bell and the thrice recitation of Hail Marys at lauds. Tracing the evolution to the addition of three Hail Marys to midday prayer is difficult, but it was definitely being practiced in some religious orders as a year-round tradition by the sixteenth century. The accompanying versicles and responses seem to be a later addition, but still dating back as early as the seventeenth century.

While the Angelus may seem a prayer of the past, it is alive and well for many Catholics, and I believe, is on the rise. There are some parts of the world that never totally abandoned the Angelus. The tolling of bells at 6 am, noon, and 6pm, is still done in many parishes. I first encountered the Angelus as a college student at Sarah Lawrence. I would sometimes go to noon mass at the local church, St. Joseph's in Bronxville. There, at noon, the church bells ring and the parishioners faithfully recite the Angelus. I did not know this prayer and had to look up the text online so that I could join in. I quickly memorized it and it became one of my favorites. To my delight, when I lived in Oakland, CA, I met other young adults who knew and enjoyed this prayer. Finally, I have encountered many religious who still recite it, such as the Franciscans of the Renewal, the Sisters of Life, the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist, the Sisters of the Resurrection, and the Sisters Minor of Mary Immaculate. These orders preserve this tradition and do a good job of spreading the practice to the laity.

Any internet search will reveal the text of the prayers. The English version can be found at I would like to include in the post the original Latin, and a French translation.


Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae.
- Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto
Ave Maria, gratia plena...

Ecce ancilla Domini.
- Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.
Ave Maria, gratia plena...

Et Verbum caro factum est,
- Et habitavit in nobis.
Ave Maria, gratia plena...

V/ Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix,
R/ Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut qui, Angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus, per Passionem ejus et Crucem, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.


L'Ange du Seigneur annonça à Marie...
-Et et elle conçut du Saint-Esprit.
Je vous salue, Marie...

Voici la servante du Seigneur,
-Qu'il me soit fait selon votre parole.
Je vous salue, Marie...

Et le Verbe s'est fair chair,
-Et il a habité parmi nous.
Je vous salue, Marie...

V/ Priez pour nous, sainte Mère de Dieu,
R/ Afin que nous soyons dignes des promesses de Jésus-Christ.

Daignez, Seigneur, répandre votre grâce sure nos âmes, afin qu'ayant connus, par l'annonce de l'Ange, l'incarnation du Christ votre Fils, nous soyions conduits par sa Passion et par sa Croix, à la gloire de sa résurrection. Par le même Jésus-Christ Notre Seigneur. Amen.

Sources for the informatino for this post include the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia, courtesy of and Jean Fournée's Histoire de L'Angelus.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Monday, December 21, 2009


Has anyone seen the other three people who have posting rights on this blog? Completely MIA.


Israel's Catholics on Pius XII

We understand the cry "he did not do enough" as a cry of deep pain coming from the sense of betrayal among the Jewish people at the time of their trial. The world indeed did not do enough as it is an undeniable fact that six million members of the Jewish people were murdered. Ultimately, there can be no "enough" in the attempt to confront a tragedy of the dimensions of the Shoah! We hear the cry of the Jewish people and we feel their pain. In the light of the Shoah, the question is asked: "Could the Pope have done more?" The question is both legitimate and understandable, however, perhaps there is no human answer to this question. Only God can know whether he indeed did everything that he could do. We are witnesses to the historical research regarding the diplomatic efforts of the Pope to end the war and the terror against the Jewish people. We are witnesses to the many stories about the instructions the Pope gave to open churches and monasteries in order to give refuge to the Jews who were fleeing, to provide them with false documents and to smuggle them out of the dangerous areas. We must commemorate the role of men and women in the Church, heroic "righteous among the nations", who saw themselves under the authority of the Pope and who were active in Italy and other European countries in helping Jews hide and flee. In some cases they paid for this help with their lives.

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Learning is always violent

An 8-year old Massachusetts boy was sent home from school when he drew a picture of a crucified Christ. The 2nd-grade student was disciplined for a “violent drawing.”

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Can't argue with that

I wanted to thank everyone for reading this blog over the years. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Your support has been and is greatly appreciated. Without readers and friends, a blog is pretty much someone talking to themselves by using a keyboard.



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Brandy and Cloth

We must bear in mind that our soul is wrapped up in weak flesh, as in a cloth, not moistened with brandy, but with something a thousand times more inflammable -- with the passion of lust. If we bring our soul too near the fire of sinful occasions, it will immediately take fire. The very presence, the very sight, of that person for whom passion is felt, has a fascinating power. A moment's conversation, a single word, a look, a gesture, casts a spark of impure fire into the innocent soul; and that fire is soon fanned into a fierce flame that may never be extinguished.

A Sinner's Return To God, Fr. Michael Mueller, p.13. TAN

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Monday, December 14, 2009

International Backup Awareness Day

Yes, even the bigs of the world forget to back up their data sometimes, and then they get bitten in the buttocks.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Respect for law fail

Instead of seeking permission before making the CDs, the recording industry puts these songs on a pending list with songs with approval and payment pending. This practice started in the late 1980s, when Canadian copyright law changed. This list has grown exponentially since, now containing over 300000 songs - and for each of those songs, the industry has automatically admitted infringement (else they wouldn't be on the list).

. . .

And here comes that sweet, sweet taste of irony, a taste sprinkled in fairy dust and brought to you by pretty pixies riding on pink unicorns: the recording industry successfully argued in Canada that pirates have to pay 20000 USD per infringement, which means that the potential liability exceeds 60 billion USD. "These numbers may sound outrageous, yet they are based on the same rules that led the recording industry to claim a single file sharer is liable for millions in damages," says Michael Geist, Internet Law columnist at The Star.

I believe the correct response at this point is NICE.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Council of Jamnia never existed?

Guess I've been working off of bad data.

The idea that there was a council in Yavneh/Jamnia, where a school of Halakha (Jewish religious law) existed, was only officially formulated by German historian Heinrich Graetz in 1871 based on what he thought was clues within the Mishna and the Talmud. This idea became popular for a while, but came increasingly into question from the 1960's onwards. In particular, later scholars noted that none of Graetz's sources actually mentioned books that had been withdrawn from a canon, and questioned the whole premise that the discussions of the rabbis were about canonicity at all. So, no, Luther did not have the luxury of claiming the authority of a rabbinic council - he simply moved the Deuterocanon in another section simply because they were absent in Hebrew Bibles.

Though given that I only thought about it to explain to people why it didn't matter, I guess it's not much of a loss.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Mark Shea's tin cup rattle

He has quite a good blog. Do send some money over if you happen to have it.

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