Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A gonzo whopper of a moral dilemma

What's a uterofascist to do in a situation like this?
"I was constantly put under pressure over the course of six months to carry out illegal abortions on two women but I refused," said Miss Kousar. "And so revenge was taken."

"The family came and harassed me but I never imagined they would do this," she said, weeping and shaking with shock.

The gang tied up the clinic's guard and then advanced on Miss Kousar's lodgings.

"They broke a panel in my bedroom door and unbolted it. One of them held a pistol to my head and threatened to kill me," she said. "Another held me down and then they took turns raping me."

You know, my money is that those people hold abortion so sacred that they'll be appalled at the rape but ultimately hold that anybody who stands in the way of feticide deserves whatever happens to her. Abortion trumps everything else.

Catholic Carnival for Carnival

Happy Catholic ushers us into Lent with Catholic Carnival LXVIII. Beads optional.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Confessions of a forty-day monk

With Lent about to drop upon us like an anvil on Wile E. Coyote, it seems like a good time to resurrect a column I wrote for a local Christian magazine a couple of years ago. Catholics will find it kind of a no-brainer; it was intended to explain Lent to Evangelical Protestants.

Hooray! It’s that time of year again! Time to mourn, repent, and deprive ourselves of lots of fun and goodies!

Sound weird? To a lot of Christians, it does. Most Evangelical churches don’t pay a lot of attention to the calendar anyway, except for Christmas, Easter, and Super Bowl Sunday. Lent is ranked right up there with Candlemas and Epiphany; a vaguely archaic practice that’s faded into one of the more harmless quirks of Catholicism. Before I started writing this, I asked some of the Protestants I know what they did about Lent; I was answered with a unanimous “Huh?”.

Like many Catholic practices, Lent is more widespread than most Westerners think. Besides liturgical churches like the Episcopalians and Lutherans (some of ‘em, anyway), all of the Traditional churches outside the Protestant spectrum observe it. In fact, if anything, the Catholic version of Lent is one of the least extreme ones. (Every year I’m glad I didn’t turn Orthodox, or Coptic. They have a Lenten regimen that makes ours look wimpy.)

During the forty days before Easter, Lent observers give up something they like. I usually give up TV (and movies, and most other forms of electronic entertainment). I’ve known others to give up chocolate, or the Internet (braver souls than I), or even broccoli. Anything that’s enjoyable and not a sin can be given up for Lent.

This strikes most Protestant Christians as pointless masochism. And if that’s as far as we go with it, it is. What Lent is supposed to be is a time of clearing away the things of the world so we can concentrate better on our spiritual lives.

It’s a funny thing about Lent. It starts in late February or early March (March 2, this year), which is not a notoriously joyous time of year anyway. The winter weather that looked so charming during the weeks leading up to Christmas now just looks dreary, and spring is little more than a distant dream. In the same way, Ash Wednesday (the opening act of Lent) is a reminder of the bleakness of our own souls without God’s mercy. Fasting through the day is a tummy-rumbling way to keep our eyes on Christ (and on the donuts some sadistic heathen had the gall to bring to the office). When the cross is drawn on our foreheads with ashes, it reminds us that our efforts at righteousness are nothing more than dirt. (And I find it prompts curious questions from people who see me going around all day with a smudge on my forehead. Excellent chance to share my faith while assuring everybody that yes, I do know how to wash my face, thank you.)

As Lent goes on, it gets harder and harder to stick to the routine. I start out with a sense of zeal, a desire to surrender everything for Christ. I attend church every morning (my parish schedules Mass an hour earlier so worshippers can still get to work on time), unplug the TV and set out a vigorous prayer timetable. Since one of the Catholic disciplines is abstaining from meat on Lenten Fridays (it used to be all year, but times have changed), I studiously search out fish and vegetarian recipes in the vain hope that the kids will eat the stuff. I’m on fire and ready to go! At least for about a week and a half.

Along about the second Friday, it starts to get old. When the alarm rings an hour earlier every morning, the bedsheets pull me back down like a bungee. I find myself about three days behind on the prayer schedule I swore I’d stick to. I can’t abide the taste of fish (especially given my cooking skills), and I start to suspect that tofu is a tool of Satan to torment the faithful. Once I even (I’m embarrassed to admit this) slipped into the tavern next door to my office to have a cup of coffee and watch some talk show I didn’t even enjoy. Lent becomes, frankly, a pain in the patoot.

Which is exactly what it’s supposed to be. It’s easy to proclaim my love for the Lord when there’s no hassle involved. The key to Lent is remembering. Remembering to walk past the TV the kids are watching without stopping to look. Remembering that it’s Friday – again. Remembering to pray even though I don’t really have time. Having to pay attention to the outward disciplines of Lent makes it easier to listen to the voice of God, and diverting my eyes from the good things I take for granted the rest of the year makes it necessary to focus them where they belong, on the Giver of good things.

By the time I arrive at Palm Sunday, a funny thing has happened. I’ve stopped muttering vague threats at the alarm clock. I’ve gotten used to the bean-and-rice burritos that have become a Friday staple. What looked at first like a long prison sentence has become more like a stay in a monastery. The noise and worry of everyday life has faded, and the Lord fills my thoughts even when I’m not concentrating specifically on Him. And spring seems to have sneaked up on me while I was busy watching God.

The whole thing comes to a head on Good Friday. It’s another fast day, and the liturgy that night is somber and sad. We have reached the depths of mourning with the death of the Lord. We go home without even the closing blessing, which leaves a feeling of something unfinished. And indeed, it is.

Saturday night, we return for Easter Vigil. It’s dark when we arrive, and the candles that are distributed are unlit. Then, from the back of the church, a light appears, moving slowly forward while the priest chants the Exultet, the opening words of the liturgy:

“This is the night when Jesus Christ
broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave...

“Rejoice, heavenly powers!
Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!”

This is it! This is what Lent has been leading up to. The grim doggedness of Lent vanishes like the darkness in the face of the light emanating from an open Tomb. Like sin being washed away, the joy of Christ’s resurrection washes over us, and we forget that we ever lacked anything.

Lent is the metamorphosis, not only of winter into spring, but of a carnally-distracted man into a spirit-filled one. When we empty ourselves of everything else, the Lord comes in to fill the gap. But being weak, I need the enforced emptying that Lent brings.

I think St. Ephraim of Edessa summed up Lent the best:

How many times have I promised, yet every time I failed to keep my word. But disregard this according to Thy grace.

Grant forgiveness, O Lord, send also strength. Convert me, that I might live in sanctity, according to Thy holy will...

I am unworthy to ask forgiveness for myself, O Lord, for many times have I promised to repent and proved myself a liar by not fulfilling my promise. Thou hast picked me up many times already, but every time I freely chose to fall again...

How shall I recount all the gifts of Thy grace, O Lord, that I the pitiful one have received? Yet I have reduced them all to nothing by my apathy – and I continue on in this manner. Thou has bestowed upon me thousands of gifts, yet miserable me, I offer in return things repulsive to Thee.

Yet Thou, O Lord, inasmuch as Thou containest a sea of longsuffering and an abyss of kindness, do not allow me to be felled as a fruitless fig tree; and do not let me be burned without having ripened on the field of life...

If the path that leads to life is strait and narrow, then how can I be vouchsafed such good things, I who live a life of luxury, indulging in my own pleasures and dissipation? But Thou, O Lord, my Saviour, Son of the true God, as Thou knowest and desirest it, by Thy grace alone, freely turn me away from the sin that abides in me and save me from ruin.

And He does.

Is this the next step for Washington?

I wondered what the fallout might be from Washington state's new bestiality law. I doubt we'll ever get to this point, but if we did, I'll bet the marriage rate would rise dramatically in my old stomping grounds of Klickitat County (motto: I only have eyes for ewe!).

Friday, February 24, 2006

Looks like Miller Time to me

I'm outta here. Have a great weekend, y'all!

Murder manual

Just in case South Dakota's abortion law holds up, Molly Saves the Day has step-by-step instructions for how to do a surgical abortion. Not for the weak of stomach or the strong of morals.

This is without a doubt the most loathesome thing I've ever read. I feel the need to shower after merely linking to it. Pray hard for South Dakota!

Time travel & Sunday obligation

Jimmy Akin fields a lot of questions, but this may be the weirdest:
1. Assume that a group of people who can time travel journey back to the Jurassic period. Among their number are some Catholics. Barring any other impediments (rampaging dinosaurs, etc.), are those Catholics still obliged to travel forward in time to attend Mass at some point?

Jimmy answers with a straight face.

Want more milk? Beat the cow!

Connecticut is vying to force Catholic hospital workers to excommunicate themselves.
The legislature's Public Health Committee is drafting a bill that would require all Connecticut hospitals, including the four Roman Catholic hospitals in the state, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.

In response to the proposal, the Connecticut Catholic Conference sent out an "action alert" on the Web recently, saying the proposed legislation threatens the religious freedom of Catholic hospitals in Connecticut.

Connecticut's Catholic hospitals have "provided the citizens of Connecticut with a high standard of care for decades," the alert reads. "These institutions should not be forced to violate their religious beliefs, especially those concerning the human dignity of every person, no matter at what stage of life."

I think the only solution if the bill passes is to close the hospitals. It's harsh, but if the State of Connecticut won't allow the Church to operate hospitals without violating its conscience, then the state doesn't want our hospitals very badly. Let them provide their own healthcare. Same with any other state that pulls a similar stunt.

The Catholic Church runs 581 hospitals in the US, and millions of non-Catholics have benefitted from them. The same religion that mandates caring for the sick also forbids abortion. You don't want us to uphold one principle, don't expect us to cater to you with the other.

Hat tip to Amy Welborn.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Real Men of Genius?

A commenter at Fark.com has an idea for a Bud Light commercial. You know, the kind where they salute a "Real Man of Genius" like Underwear Inspector #12 or the pro wrestler wardrobe designer? This one salutes the Travis Frey, the guy I mentioned the other day who insisted on tying things down, as it were, in a contract with his wife. Warning: Vulgar phrasing alert!

Announcer: Today we salute YOU, Mr. Has-a-Sex-Contract-with-his-Wife Guy.

Announcer: Some men leave sex with their wife to chance, but not you, you have a notarized 47 page document explaining just how often you take the skin boat to tuna town.

Background guy: All aboard!!

So crack open a cold Bud Light, O drafter of the document that gets you derriere. You may not be romantic but we think you're brilliant!

Background guy: Happy Vaaalentine's Daaaay

Anheiser Bush, St. Louis Missouri

All eyes on South Dakota

Roe vs. the Human Race is about to be challenged for the first time since 1992. Watching closely for developments.

Already the uterofascists are getting their ducks in a Roe, shouting about how South Dakota is trying to punish women for having sex, control their private lives, endanger their health and lives, and tear them into pieces with vacuums or scald their skin off with salines. Eh? That's what happens to the baby? What's the baby got to do with it? Women's convenience and doctors' vacation homes are at stake here!

One thing we must not do is accuse the Supreme Court of partisanship if they do decide to strike down the law. As much as I'd love to see it – and 49 more – codified, the SCOTUS has legal angles to the decision that I wot not of, and if the court in its current cconservative constellation can't see its way clear to find the law constitutional, then I have to believe it's acting in accord with existing law. Judges, as I kept pointing out to anybody who would listen during the confirmation hearings, aren't free to pursue their moral convictions.

Pray for South Dakota! This could be our Lepanto.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Prince Charming

Okay, men are pigs. Granted. But this guy could take ribbons at the county fair. Seems he not only has very specific criteria in a wife, but he actually drew up a "Contract of Wifely Expectations" detailing her duties. Gives "tying the knot" a whole different connotation.
The document, a copy of which was obtained by TheSmokingGun.com, stipulated that Ruth Frey was to do "anything and everything" her husband wanted.

The contract required she be naked once the kids went to sleep, walk around the house in heels and shave her underarms, legs and pubic area every third day.

Under the heading of "My Time," Travis Frey stipulated his wife to "be subservient, submissive and totally obedient" and "to do what you are asked, when you are asked, how you are asked" and "perform any and all sexual acts."

Further, his wife was never to argue with him, complain about "anything to me or about me," raise her voice or "sigh, moan, bulk [sic] or otherwise show displeasure or unhappiness."

The contract also required his wife to pose for pictures 20 times a quarter, with Travis Frey selecting the positions.

Her wild and crazy hubby did offer his wife the chance to earn "good behavior days," provided she performed "everything with complete and total enthusiasm."

The GBDs, as he called them, could be used to "get out of" doing things.

Apparently she wasn't quite as good a little wifey as the contract stipulated, because he kidnapped and tied her up in retribution for taking their daughters to church (something which was not addressed in the text).

The whole contract is here. If you can handle it, it's mind-boggling. What I want to know is, what kind of woman marries a sick puppy like this? Obviously, she knew going in what kind of a perv he was. Yet she married him anyway, and even perpetuated his genes!

What was she thinking? "Gee, I don't think I'm really qualified to pick out my own knickers and decide for myself how large a patch of pubic hair I should leave. And more than anything, I want a man who schedules my nakedness. Sigh!"

H/T to Stephanie Logerot.

Update: Emily at It Comes in Pints? has a far, far better response than I could ever come up with. Steel yourself to the language and check it out.

Anesthesiologists refuse to carry out execution

I wonder if the pro-aborts who have been so vocally against conscience clauses will be howling to force these doctors back to the death chamber. Hey, if they weren't willing to kill, they shouldn't have become physicians, right?

Of all the blogs on all the servers in the world...

I walk into this one. Every morning, in fact. Today I'm glad I did, as she's got a plethora of links about the greatest movie ever made.

I'm a romantic at heart, despite maintaining the veneer of a cynical doofus. And like Miss C., I still get misty at Paul Henreid's Marseillaise. Get a few bourbons in me, and I'll recite Bogie's "wild finish" monologue better than he did. Personally, though, I'd have shot Major Strasser a lot earlier, just because he was a jerk.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Roll me over on the table, and do it again...

Probably the weirdest blog quiz I've taken yet. Not a leading question in the lot. Even the one about "Which die would you be" can lead to a surprise.

I am a d8

No use trying to fight it, you're an eight-sided die, a d8. A fine example of simple elegance, the d8 is one of the least appreciated types of dice, and is often neglected. You are known to be quiet and shy, outward traits that conceal viscous sarcasm and mean wit. You are very smart, yet wise enough to hide your intelligence the quicker they found out how smart you are, the sooner they'll put you to work, which is something you can do without. People call you dark and pessimistic, or moody and cynical. You find little point in arguing.

Take the quiz at dicepool.com

"Viscous sarcasm"? Is that thick, squishy and kind of oily?

And check out the rationale behind the whole thing:
This survey is completely scientific. Despite the mind-boggling complexity of mankind, the billions of distinctly different personalities found on Earth can easily be divided into seven simple categories that correspond to the five Platonic solids, a pseudo polyhedron, and whatever the hell a d100 is. The results of this quiz should be considered not only meaningful but also infallible, and pertinent to your success as a fully realized individual. If you feel the results of this examination do not match your perceived personality, you should take whatever drastic measures are needed to cram your superego back into proper alignment, as described by the quiz results.

And if you believe that, we have some really great critical-hit insurance to sell you.

A tip of the octohedronal hat to Scott at Magic Statistics, who I'll bet was a D&D-er back when it was still fun.

Ah, the smell of fatwa in the morning!

Sitcoms guaranteed to cheese off terrorists.

Check out more here. Long load, but worth it. A/T to Ken at It Comes in Pints?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

New blog!

Well, sorta new. I'd never seen it before. Mormon2Catholic is especially interesting to me, because of the part Mormons played in my conversion, and also because I live in a heavily Mormon area of the Northwest, and despite the theology, I've developed a lot of respect for them.

Thanks to Julie for steering me to this.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Here's a thought to take into the weekend with you. I think I'll go home now and be really, really nice to my wife. Really nice.

A cross-legged, cringing H/T to Miss Cellania, on whose good side I fully intend to stay.

What made me pro-life

I've gone and gotten myself into another abortion discussion over at Pandagon. (Why do I do that? Why? Am I really such a masochist? Wouldn't it just be easier to smash my testicles with a hammer a few times?) It seems to me to be a good time to relate the incident that convinced me that abortion was wrong.

It's not for religious reasons. It really isn't. My Lovely and Brilliant Wife and I refrain from contraception because we're Catholic. That's our business, and our call to make. I don't care if anybody else does or not (although people who contracept and call themselves practicing Catholics annoy me through hypocrisy.) I'm well aware of Catholic teaching on abortion, but my reasons are rooted in something that happened before I joined the Church.

Nine years ago, one of my co-workers had a baby prematurely. Very prematurely. The little boy was born about four months early, and he weighed a little over a pound. I don't recall how long he was in the hospital in Spokane, but it was for several months. What I found incongruous was that an abortion at that stage of his development would have been legal in all 50 states, but instead, enormous amounts of money and effort were expended to keep him alive. The sole difference between him and an abortable fetus was that his mother wanted him to live. The law considered him human only because she did.

To place one individual's human rights at the sole discretion of another individual is to make human rights meaningless. The blather about "potential persons" and "a parasitic clump of cells" is window dressing. The fact is that either that little boy's life was extremely valuable, to the point of some really impressive work on the part of the medical staff at the hospital, or it was worthless and he belonged in the dumpster. To make that a "woman's choice" is to say that all life is equally worthless unless a woman validates it. It's simply not a matter of women's rights vs. men's, and anybody who tries to frame it that way is merely not willing to admit that there are some things that nobody is entitled to do. Placing the acquisition of human rights at birth is arbitrary, as my co-worker's child demonstrates.

And if anybody's interested, the boy is now a healthy, active, bright and larger-than-average eight-year-old. I call him "Thud."

Update: I finally gave up on the discussion at Pandagon. My flimsy logic couldn't stand up to well-reasoned discourse like this:
I prefer viciously mocking him, calling him a liar, an idiot, and a fucktard.


Hully gee! I guess yuh got me there!

A tale of two tales

Take a look at this story about a government scandal and tell me what's missing. Give up? Compare it to this story about another government scandal.

It's seldom that you get to see this happen so blatantly. Party affiliation is mentioned in the first paragraph or two if it's a Republican, farther down if it's a Democrat. In the Times story, it wasn't mentioned at all; I had to go elsewhere to find out that Al Rossellini, Judy Nicastro, Heidi Wills and Jim Compton were all Democrats (although the city council posts are technically nonpartisan). The Times doesn't think it's important enough to mention.

The lesson is clear. Bribe both Republicans and Democrats, it's a Republican scandal. Buy Democrats only, it's all cool.

H/T to Washington State Political Report for both stories.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

No! A thousand times, no!

Michael Jackson's singing of Papal poetry turned out to be a rumor. God grant that this turns out to be hooey as well.

Protestant readers, please refrain from "Whore of Babylon" jokes on this one. I'm way ahead of you. I don't know who would be worthy to play Blessed Teresa, but surely there's somebody more appropriate than Paris Hilton.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"A wretched play in one very short act"

A student at the University of Oregon (Go, Ducks!) has penned a one-act play in response to the hordes of talking vaginae forcing their way onto college campuses everywhere. I'm not going to quote from it, lest I besieged with inappropriate Google searches, but it's a hoot. Read it if you dare. Warning: Language alert!

H/T to Jim Romanesko.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Homo on the Range

Rejected titles for Flaming Saddles Brokeback Mountain (courtesy of the exquisitely twisted minds at It Comes in Pints?):
Prances With Wolves
The Pleasure Of The Sierra, Padre
Butch Assidy And The Bundance Kid
Paint Your Fag On
How The West Was Hung
He Wore A Yellow Ribbon
Doc's Holiday With Billy The Kid
Destry Rides Again... And Again
Don't Mess With Tex's Ass
Home On The Ranger
Little Bathhouse On The Prairie
The Good, The Bad, And The Fabulous

(Note: I edited out the more vulgar ones, believe it or not. The complete list is here.)

NEA to fund "Queer Mohammed" poster

No, not really. But I'm glad it was Mike Adams who suggested it and not me.
This new painting will help the NEA avoid any accusations of state sponsorship of religion by insulting some religion other than Christianity. In the past, you’ve supported the “Piss Christ” and the “Elephant Dung Mary.” Now, I’m asking you to fund the “Queer Muhammad.”

For this painting, I want the artist to put the Prophet Muhammad in a pink bathrobe. I also want him holding a little toy poodle. Finally, I would like you to feature him reading a copy of “Playgirl” magazine. If you want to get daring, you can also feature him French-kissing Salmon Rushdie. Or better yet, feature him French-kissing Jacques Chirac.

I'm awfuly glad I'm not Mike's insurance agent right now.

Just think of it as a very late-term abortion

If she had done this a year earlier, it would have been subsidized with your tax dollars, and you would have been a bigoted godbag if you questioned the rightness of her actions. When are the deathhawks at Pandagon going to come to the defense of this poor oppressed woman exercising her feminist right to choose?

My butcher knife, my choice!

Why Lincoln stopped blogging

Classic! Don't stop reading comments until you get to the end.

President Cheeseburger takes stand against obesity

No comment from the decidedly zaftig Monica Lewinsky, but Hillary "Dude, where's my flesh?" Clinton is standing firmly behind her husband. So he can block out the sun and she won't dissolve into a pile of dust.

The ex-President is right. We need to stop this rapidly-expanding problem now. Before another generation of overweight kids grows up into fat chicks.

Friday, February 10, 2006

I guess they know where to find me

The government concluded its "Cyber Storm" wargame Friday, its biggest-ever exercise to test how it would respond to devastating attacks over the Internet from anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and bloggers.


Participants confirmed parts of the worldwide simulation challenged government officials and industry executives to respond to deliberate misinformation campaigns and activist calls by Internet bloggers, online diarists whose "Web logs" include political rantings and musings about current events.

The rest of the article is about responses to serious mayhem that hackers can inflict on computer syystems, but the reference to bloggers made me nervous. One man's "misinformation campaigns and activist calls" are another man's freely expressed opinions and political participation. True, I don't slap this administration arouund all that much; I think they're probably doing the best they can. but with the strong chance that we'll have a Kleptocrat in the White House next, coupled with the Left's distaste for free speech in the Blogosphere and on the radio, I wonder how much of what's said on conservative blogs will suddenly become a "security threat" if this becomes a precedent. Remember the rants and venom that were directed at talk radio during the Clinton years? The Blogosphere is populated by more conservatives than liberals, just as the airwaves were, because it's harder for political correctness to be enforced here than in the MSM.

I wouldn't want blogging to become prima facie evidence of subversion, either now for lefties or in three years for conservatives. Free speech, as we've seen in the hooraw over the Danish cartoons, is like pregnancy: you can't do it halfway. Either the Internet is free or it's not. And I'll call for action or disseminate information any time I damn well please. If you don't like it, shut me down now.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Husband sentenced to six months for sex with wife

Okay, it's actually for having sex with her before they were married, because she was underage. And I can agree with that. But I can't help noticing the irony that if she had had an abortion, Planned Parenthood would have covered up for him. But because they let the baby live, and (gasp!) got married, there's nobody to speak up for him. Except his wife.

The sentencing story isn't up yet, but the background is here.

"Curious George" author found dead

Police are seeking a tall man in a yellow cowboy hat and a small, attention-deficited simian.

What's the Arabic word for...

..."abysmally stupid"?

Sick! You people are sick!

Shame on you for making me spray coffee all over myself!

The Dysfunctional Family Circus

In other news, Bil Keane burned down an embassy, declaring a jihad against all cartoon-defacing infidels. Not.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Just thought I should mention...

Today is my Lovely and Brilliant Wife's birthday. How old is she? That's a very good question. If there are no further questions, class is dismissed.

Stop over and wish her a happy birthday!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Memes on Monday

First, the one that Christine tagged me with, along with an abject apology for putting it off so long:

Five questions to ask when you arrive in Heaven:
1. Mosquitos? What in [eternal perdition] were You thinking?
2. What did You put in the appendix for, and why didn't You ever put it to any use? Or did You and we just never noticed?
3. What ever happened to the Woodstock baby?
4. Did I get here by means of predestination or free will? Not that I'm complaining, mind You. I just wondered.
5. Why circumcision? Was there a symbolic reason, or do You just have a really weird sense of humor?

First five people I'd like to see in Heaven:
(Assuming they're there, which is a stretch in some cases. Also excluding family, most of whom I'd also like to see.)
1. Robert Heinlein
2. Jerry Garcia
3. The Hee Haw girls (You just about have to be a Married... with Children fan to appreciate this one.)
4. C. S. Lewis
5. The guy who designed the engine compartment of my wife's car. (Actually, I'd really, really like to be his purgatory. Does that count?)

Okay, now my Lovely and Brilliant Wife's meme from Friday:

My good quirks:
I compliment women compulsively and gratuitously.
I can spell almost anything on demand, which is useful in a newsroom.
I have a passion for singing Welsh hymns – in Welsh.
I can flip through a stack of paper and count the sheets faster than your eyes can follow. (That one was useful when I had a printshop.)
I kick butt at Trivial Pursuit. Or at least I used to, back when I could find opponents.

My bad quirks:
I'm too willing to accept the status quo. I'm not so much lazy as inert. A body at rest, and all that...
I tend to rabbit on about whatever my favorite subject is at the time.
I nod and smile at my wife when she thinks I'm listening.
I procrastinate filling out forms. Any kind of forms.
I can't watch an old movie on video without filling the whole room in on every bit of trivia about each actor. Makes it hard to hear the actual dialogue.

My food quirks:
Two-thirds of what I cook is either meant to be wrapped in a tortilla or spooned over rice. Nobody ever called me imaginative in the kitchen.
I can only cook feijoada in amounts that would feed the entire population of Rio de Janeiro. But dang, is it good until you get tired of the leftovers!
I miss the days when shrimp was a standard option for pizza.
I refuse to allow beans to be even in the same room where my chili is cooking.
I measure a Mexican restaurant's quality almost entirely by its Camarones a la Diabla.

My sleep quirks:
I snore like a Studebaker in need of a valve job. I cover up by complaining about Christina's snoring.
I like to finish the day with an episode of Married... with Children. Two, if Christina is already asleep and can't stop me.
It's been a good ten years since I've owned a mattress that my feet don't hang off the end of.
In the dark ages before I got married, the entire bed would be covered with books except a thin strip where my body went.
I hit the snooze button every seven minutes for about an hour and a half before I get up.

I think most everybody has been tagged with these by now, but I'll inflict 'em anyway on Doug, Scott, The Den, and whichever of the Bayly brothers is willing to give it a whack. Pick one meme or both, as you like.

A view from the other side of the clinic counter

I'm not going to change my stance on abortion; it's wrong, period. It should be outlawed, it should be eradicated, and alternatives should be found that don't require anybody to die.

However, I realized after reading this blog that no matter how much I may pontificate on the Internet, there is still a human face to it. There are two victims to every abortion. When it's over, one of them is dead, and one is wounded. Read the stories and see if you don't hurt for women who don't see any other way out.


Salve regina, mater funkosae recordiae

As if there weren't enough pedophile Catholic jokes going around, now this. Maybe that whole Vatican copyright thing wasn't such a bad idea after all.

You mean besides my ex?

I love this book. I've been meaning to get a copy of my own. H/T to Really Random Musings.

Being sucked dry by leeches isn't so bad.
You will be sucked dry by a leech. I'd stay away

from swimming holes, and stick to good old

cement. Even if it does hurt like hell when

your toe scrapes the bottom.

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
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I can't add anything to this.
A morning in the life of our newest Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito

6:45: Awoke, had a cup of coffee, looked over a couple of briefs

7:17: Took his morning “porcelain constitutional”

7:53: Called his temporary clerk; citing “inherent authority” granted the Executive under the Constitution, demanded work begin on compiling a database on “non-traditional uteri”—defined by Justice Alito as “those potential gestational chambers that are used for purposes that do not include GOD’S MANDATE that we ‘be fruitful and multiply.’” This includes such abominations as the introduction into the giddyslit of synthetic or organic objects that have the potential to do grievous damage to future conception(s), such as gourds or roughened beads.

8:17: Prank phonecall to Cameron Diaz in which he identified himself as “the Patriarchy Police” and informed her that, now that rape has been legalized, she would need to leave Tuesdays and Thursdays open between 11am and 2 pm (with a working lunch, which would “likely consist of strawberries, whipped cream, honey, or flavored gels").

8:24: Called his car service; readied his briefcase (Saltines, Ativan, legal pads, coat hangers, 9mm Glock), and gave his wife a wholesome missionary kiss.

8:30: Off to bring fascism and theocracy back where it belongs. Because remember: you can’t spell “THIS IS GOD’S LAND, AND THE HEATHENS SHALL LEARN TO TREMBLE AND GENUFLECT BEFORE THE LAWS OF THE LORD” without “USA."*

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Groundhogs, bullies, lawyers and children, Part Two

If you haven't read Part One, you need to read it first for background. Really. A lot of this won't make sense if you don't.

Usual disclaimer: The opinions on this blog are mine. They have nothing to do with my employer or its parent company. Please don't dooce me.

So here we have a screwed-up, angry, heavily armed 14-year-old. He does something horrible, something that can't be undone. What to do?

Well, there are a couple of ways we can handle it. We can throw the book at him, make sure he pays for his crime as heavily as can be done. Or we can put him in for treatment and rehabilitation.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not opposed to punitive sentencing for criminals. Nor do I have an all-consuming faith in the efficacy of therapy and counseling. I tend to think a lot of counseling is hooey. Forgiveness isn't the issue here, either; forgiveness is between individuals, not between an individual and the state. To be honest, my gut-level response to somebody walking into a school and offing two kids and a teacher would be to start shopping for rope.

But the choice in Barry Loukaitis' case wasn't so cut-and-dried. Barry was 14, not even in high school yet. As a minor, he wasn't subject to the throw-the-book/get-a-rope option. In a juvenile facility, he would have received psychological treatment and probably been released when he was 21 (assuming it was safe). So what was the logical thing to do? Make him not a minor.

Now this is where my voice begins to rise. I was then and continue to be absolutely and utterly bumfuzzled by this move. The prosecutor, faced with common sense on one hand, and a justifiably angry community on the other, took the coward's way out and charged Barry as an adult. (He also tried to keep the trial in Grant County, where it was guaranteed impossible to find an impartial jury. He failed in that one, and it was moved to Seattle. Media exposure may produce a bias, but not as much as being related to a victim.) Adult charges meant adult penalties. He couldn't be executed – and I heard rumblings of anger even over that – but he could be locked away in an adult prison for life with no possibility of parole. Ever.

I'm not a lawyer. I don't even play one on the Internet. So the legal niceties may be beyond my scope of knowledge. But the moral one is obvious: In what alternate reality is a 14-year-old boy an adult? How can that be? How?!?

There's a reason that societies have laws as to when the age of majority is reached. Children simply don't possess the mental capacity to think through the corollary or long-term effects of their actions. If you eat lots of candy at once, you'll get a tummyache. But that will be after the candy is consumed, so the kid doesn't think about it until it becomes unavoidable. Even farther out of mind are things like cavities and nutritional balance. Kids live in the immediate, and learn to think ahead slowly as they grow up.

This is why a minor can't vote, or buy alcohol, or join the Army, or consent to sex, or even sign a legal contract. At 14, a kid has some mature judgment, but not near as much as he'll have in four more years. Until they turn 18, their parents are responsible for their actions as well as their well-being. Kids don't have adult privileges, and they don't face adult responsibilities. Our juvenile court system is designed, rather than merely punishing kids who break laws, to straighten them out before they become adults. When they reach 18, their records are cleared, because you can no more hold someone responsible at an adult level for the window he broke at 10 than you can for the milk he spilled at three.

Of course, the 18-year mark poses a risk of being used as a get-out-of-jail-free card. In theory, it would be possible to rob a bank at the age of 17 years and 364 days and still be considered a juvenile. So there's some leeway in the law for charging offenders who are capable of of mature judgment but slightly shy of majority.

I asked rhetorically earlier in what world it would be possible to declare a 14-year-old an adult, simply because it's convenient to do so. The answer alas, is the world we now live in. In the ten years since Barry Loukaitis was declared an adult, the trend has been to lower the age of adulthood further and further. Words like "child," "juvenile," and "too young" simply mean less and less.

This is a world in which pre-teen girls are encouraged to shop at Victoria's Secret to advertise their sexual nubility and prep them for exploitation. A world in which pubescent boys and girls are expected to treat blowjobs as equivalent to hugs. A world in which a soi-disant "health care organization" advertises sex to kids too young to have it legally, and then covers up for the perverts who molest them. A world in which children as young as 10 or 12 are brainwashed and twisted into machines to kill, rape and mutilate. A world in which childhood has meaning only so long as adults do not use the children as tools for their own gratification.

Am I equating a prosecuting attorney with a kiddy-diddler who vacations in Bangkok? No, I'm not. The pervert is gratifying his own twisted desires. The lawyer was faced with a choice either to do what was right or to keep his career. He chose the latter, and was able to convince a judge that it was legal. It could be argued that he was simply doing his job. But they both did their part to make childhood revocable at an adult's will.

So as it stands, Barry is in prison at Clallam Bay, and will be until he dies. He will never drive a car. He will never drink a beer. He will never marry or have children. All the things that he might have done when he grew up are impossible now, because his childhood lasted only as long as his trial. Yes, it's true that the kids he killed won't grow up either. I'm certainly not lacking in sympathy for his victims' families. But treating him justly wouldn't have brought them back anymore than railroading him did. And his victims aren't suffering any more, but he is. Because being a child doesn't really count anymore. Not really.

Groundhogs, bullies, lawyers and children, Part One

Usual disclaimer: The opinions on this blog are mine. They have nothing to do with my employer or its parent company. Please don't dooce me.

We do Groundhog Day a little differently in Moses Lake. In this town, the groundhog hole is over by Frontier Middle School. The groundhog sticks his head out, and if he doesn't get blasted with a high-powered rifle into little woodchuck McNuggets, we know spring is on the way.

Ten years ago today, 14-year-old Barry Loukaitis walked late into his algebra class at Frontier Junior High in downtown Moses Lake. He was wearing a trenchcoat, cowboy boots, and enough personal armament to make a Green Beret feel overprepared. When he came into the classroom, instead of a note excusing his tardiness, he distributed lead. Within seconds, two kids and the teacher were dead, another kid was winged, and he had taken the rest hostage. Another teacher get himself into the room under Barry's watchful eye, talking soothingly to him and offering himself in exchange for the other kids. Barry wanted to put the muzzle of the rifle in the teacher's mouth as security, but had to settle for pointing it at him. Without so much as a twitch of warning, the teacher jumped him, shoved the gun aside and wrestled him to the ground. The rest of the kids were unharmed, the teacher was a hero, and Barry was on his way to a jail cell. Class dismissed.

This much everybody knows. Moses Lake was famous, at least until Columbine bumped it off the front page three years later. A town that had yet to get Internet service was on the cutting edge of a trend that would echo through the 90s: the site of the first school-shooting-rampage. Welcome to Moses Lake. Don't forget your Kevlar.

Those of us who still lived here after the news crews had moved on saw it from a little different angle. When the sirens started blaring outside Frontier, my 7-year-old daughter was across the street, delivering business cards from my printshop. Barry's parents owned a sandwich shop a few blocks away; they were a regular customer as well. (Wharf Rat really liked delivering their menus, because they gave her free candy bars as a tip.) It was (and mostly still is) the sort of place where I didn't feel worried about letting a little girl have the freedom of downtown.

Everybody in town knew somebody who was involved. My first boss at the paper was the uncle of the girl who was wounded. Our current editor's little sister was in the classroom. When it's in your backyard, the national news stories are just the tip of the iceberg.

There are no happy endings in something like this. Barry was charged as an adult, and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. His parents, already on the rocks, divorced and left town. The teacher who saved all those kids' lives is now the principal at the local Catholic school. Eventually bigger and uglier school shootings came to pass, and the media moved on. The phrase "going Frontier" became a local version of "going postal."

Barry Loukaitis has become a poster child for the tough-on-crime crowd that want to lock up juvenile psychopaths and throw away the key. And that's how Barry's case was handled. The community came together, not for justice, but for revenge. Which is where my opinions sometimes get me into trouble.

He was a screwed-up kid, to be sure, but not a psychopath. He knew right from wrong. He knew, for example, that bigger kids beating up and humiliating a smaller one is wrong. Barry was assaulted, called names, swirlied, wedgied and (so I've heard) even held down in the school locker room and urinated on. Combined with the troubles he had at home, he simply reached a point where he couldn't take any more, and he snapped in a huge way.

Let him scoff who has never been in junior high. I remember, in seventh grade, being beaten, called "idiot" and "faggot", and held up for public ridicule. And that was just the teachers. My classmates (most of whom had gotten their growth before I did) went for more exotic torments, like tickling me until I wet myself, or holding my nose and force-feeding me garbage. The pinnacle of fun, for them, was something called poling. That's where you get one big kid on either side of the victim, pick him up by his limbs, and ram his genitals into a goalpost. After a couple of impacts, you learn to twist so as to take the blow in a buttock. Believe me, you learn.

I used to daydream about something much like what Barry did. Praise God I didn't have access to the kind of guns Barry did, or you'd have been seeing me on the news fifteen years earlier. By high school, I was habitually carrying a six-inch knife in the lining of my coat. Word got around, and I was left alone. Never had to do anything with it, although it was a near thing a couple of times. A couple of years ago, I ran into the worst of the teachers, now retired, the one whose favorite epithets had been "faggot" and "useless." Even twenty years later, it was literally all I could do to keep from jumping on the man and pounding him into the intensive care unit. He didn't remember me.

That's it for Part One. Part Two deals with the part of the story that really burns my butt (and may get me in trouble).

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Working frantically

Sorry to everybody who had to miss their daily fix. I've been up to my kiester in alligators all day. So y'all won't feel totally abandoned, I thought I'd post a link to this year's Catholic Blog Award nominations.

On a totally unrelated note, did I mention that I've only been blogging since last April, which means I qualify as a new blog? Not that I would ever do something so crass as dropping hints. No sir. Awards mean nothing to me; I'm perfectly content blogging in obscurity.

Sure would be a nice logo to be able to put in the sidebar, though. I think it would match my color scheme perfectly. I mention that strictly in passing, of course. Um-hmm. Wouldn't want anybody to think otherwise. Nope.