Friday, December 28, 2007

You might be Taliban if

You refine heroin for a living, but you have a moral objection to beer.

You own a $300 machine gun and $5,000 rocket launcher, but you can’t afford shoes.

You have more wives than teeth.

You think vests come in two styles: bullet-proof and suicide.

You’ve ever opened a can of falafel with a mortar round.

You’ve ever had your camel repossessed.

You can’t think of anyone you HAVEN’T declared Jihad against.

You consider television dangerous, but routinely carry ammunition in your robe.

You’ ve ever been asked, “Does this burka make my butt look too big?”

You’ve felt the urge to “rub her out” after seeing a woman’s exposed ankle.

You were amazed to discover that cell phones have uses other than setting off roadside bombs.

You’ve ever uttered the phrase, “I love what you’ve done with your cave.”

You wipe your butt with your bare left hand, but consider bacon “unclean”.

A tip of the Akubra to Father Joe.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away

On the night when we celebrate His greatest gift to us, Mike had his dad taken from him. He's had a rough time of it, and it sounds like he was well ready to go home, but it's still hard to lose your dad. At least now he's got a body that works as it should, and he gets to be with family he hasn't seen in a long time, as well in the presence of the Lord Himself.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

And Mike, we're praying for you.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Scrooge (1935)

I mentioned with an earlier movie that films like "It's a Wonderful Life" are so much a part of our cultural Christmas experience that it's hard to believe they ever weren't. "A Christmas Carol" goes even farther; it's almost as much a part of our cultural holiday canon as Santa Claus. The trinity of past, present and future, the theme of sin and redemption, the contrast between material and spiritual benefit... it all is soaked into our subconscious that it's hard to imagine a Christmas without some reference to it.

A quick run-down on IMDb shows 53 different versions on film, and I'm sure there are more. I remember seeing Henry Winkler do a good retelling of it in the 70s, and Bill Murray deserves a medal for "Scrooged". ("Staple the antlers on!") The 1935 Scrooge, though, is probably the best I've seen so far. It's a straightforward rendition, without comical characters and the winking inside jokes that you have to put in today because the story line is so familiar. It also doesn't get into Scrooge's childhood in an attempt to explain his loathesomeness. He's just a rotten person, that's all, without any excuse.

But the theme of repentance and change is stronger here because of that. There's no cute Tiny Tim at the end, saying "God bless us, every one," but Scrooge's change of heart is a complete 180. It sticks to the book about the way I remember reading it. The acting is a little heavy-handed, probably because the actors were stage-trained and talkies were still kind of new. But the intensity is unmatched.

This is far and away the best Christmas movie I'll be posting here. Do yourself a favor and see it. It's a straight-up, 200-proof Christmas Carol, the way Dickens would have wanted it done.

Are these really genes I want to share?

Actually, probably. My Reverend Auntie shared a story about my cousin, her Favorite Son (hereinafter referred to as "FS"). I haven't seen him in years, but this sounds like the Mike I remember:
I have a picture taped up on my wall of the FS and me, taken years ago when we were both much younger, for our church directory. He is long-haired and bespectacled, wearing a tattered jean jacket, a tie, and a black t-shirt with a slightly offensive slogan, his baseball cap on backwards, a maniacal grin on his face. I am long-haired myself, in a red dress, much thinner, beaming innocently, unaware of how this picture will turn out. As it was, we chose it for our directory picture because it was so much a depiction of who we were in those days. He must have been about 19 at the time and I was probably only 50 or so.

He was the ringleader of the youth group at our church and at the time, the church was in the middle of an all-church social action project which involved everyone in helping with a local agency for families in transition. The youth group was in charge of a drive to amass paper products for the agency.

One Sunday we were complacently listening to the announcements at the beginning of the service, when the rear doors swung open and through them marched a phalanx of black-clad young men, the FS at the point position. They reached the front of the church, swung around, legs planted wide, hands on hips. The FS, in his black leather trench coat, opened one side of his coat to reveal many paper products fastened inside.

"We need you to bring paper towels, disposable diapers, kleenex," he opened the other side of his coat; "also toilet paper, computer paper, all kinds of paper products for Family Tree". He closed his coat, put hands on hips, glared menacingly. "And ya better do it. Cuz if you don't.........I'm gonna date all your daughters!"

The paper drive was a great success.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A step in faith for a good cause

Wunderkraut and Frau Wunder are in the process of adopting a seriously adorable little girl from China, and they can use some help.
Our paper work was officially logged into the Chinese government on December 12 of that year. We expected to wait 9 to 10 months until we received our referral, but a month later the entire adoption system in China came to a dead stop due to internal government politics.

Our short wait grew to almost two years, but we are happy to announce that on December 5, 2007, we were notified that we had our referral and the very next day we saw our daughter for the first time. Feng Yun Man (soon to be Mei Elyse Talley) was born on March 18, 2007 and is currently in Fengxin Orphanage in the Jiangxi Provence, not far from Nanchang, China. (Try Google Earth) We expect to be traveling to China by mid January to bring Mei home to her new family.

The cost of foreign adoption is very high. When we started this whole process we did not have a single dollar, but we prayed and knew that the Lord would provide. And provide He did! In a very short time, the Lord blessed me with side work and the work just kept coming. It meant long nights and weekends, but it was worth the sacrifice.

We went from having no funds to having enough money to pay for the entire adoption plus some money towards the airfare. However, the two year delay caused us to have to resubmit parts of our paper work and that depleted the travel money.

Depending on the amount of advance notice, the total cost of the tickets will be between $2,000 and $4,000. We are asking you to prayerfully consider donating towards the cost of the airfare to China. We are also asking that you keep our family in your prayers, especially baby Mei.

Take a look at that little girl. Really, we want her in this country to help raise the average cuteness of American children. The need for money is a serious one, though, so if you can, please try and help them out. They've got a PayPal button up, as well as an address. I doubt if we'll be able to send any money ourselves, but we'll see what can be done.

If you can't give anything, at least pray hard. We'll certainly be doing that. If the Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills, He (and His people) can pony up for a couple of plane tickets.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Waiting for the lawsuit

This sort of thing must be silenced. Before you know it, we'll be overwhelmed by dangerous attitudes like peace on earth and goodwill toward men.
Someone is trying to spread a little Christmas cheer along New Jersey's Garden State Parkway.

The AP reports that just after Thanksgiving, two large glass ornaments mysteriously appeared on two large pine trees alongside the Parkway in New Jersey's Pinelands. Since then, five more decorations have popped up in the same house-free area.

Cry havoc! and let slip the dogs lawyers of Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Mrs. Calabash

I haven't actually seen The Great Rupert, but in the course of posting it I decided I have to as soon as I can get a little free time. It sure looks like a cute one. Certainly it can't be too bad, if it stars The Schnozzola.

Let me know what you think if you see even part of this!

Bless me, your honor...

Shouldn't it work the other way around?
A judge in southern Chile has sentenced a Catholic priest to recite psalms daily during three months as punishment for a traffic violation.

Judge Manuel Perez said he issued the unusual sentence after Father Jose Cornejo said he could not afford the 50,000-peso ($100) fine that would have been the regular sanction for illegal parking in the city of Puerto Montt.

"He will have to recite seven psalms from a book in the Old Testament," Judge Perez told the Santiago daily La Tercera.

He added, "This is not a sentence that just occurred to me."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


The Seattle Center Fun Forest will be closing.

I don't have a lot of positive memories of Seattle. I lived in the area through most of my teenage years, and I wasn't really very happy there. I was - and am - a small-town boy at heart, and I wanted more than anything to go back to Goldendale. But one of the things I didenjoy was taking the Metroid bus downtown and hanging out at the Pike Place Market and the Seattle Center. Even when I didn't have any pocket money (which was most of the time) I would take a book and sit and enjoy the atmosphere. Once in a while my folks would take us all to the Center, and buy ride tickets at the Fun Forest. (I didn't ride them myself; I can't even cope with a carousel for more than one ride.) It may not be my favorite part of the place, but it's an institution. Heck, my mom and dad were there at the World's Fair in '62, when it first opened.

As long as they're dismantling the Seattle Center, I have a suggestion for what they can do with the Space Noodle. It's long overdue, after all.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Romney Roundup

I know Mormons are kind of exotic critters to the east-coast media, but the sheer amount of bigotry that's getting published is really cheesing me off. Anti-Catholicism is sometimes called "the last acceptable prejudice," but that vitriol is minor compared to what passes for journalism when Mormons are involved.

First, the good.
You mean he's got a life outside of funny underwear and baptizing dead people? Who knew? One discouraging note is that if the WaPo is writing positively about a Republican, it means they think he hasn't got a chance. Still, at least it means one reporter has his head somewhere outside his lower digestive tract.

The bad.
Romney's a racist-cracker-ofay! So there!
A few of the more egregious quotes:
Whenever a proselytizing Mormon knocks on my Harlem door, I chase him away as brusquely as I would chase away a Klansman, or an evangelical Christian Republican, and for much the same reason.

I have zero tolerance for racial intolerance.

And I have zero tolerance for smarmy blockheads. Can't you just smell the crosses burning? (Actually, Mormons don't use crosses; maybe they'll have to burn spires or something.) I'd be interested to know if he's ever actually seen a Mormon ward's ethnic makeup. The LDS church is loaded with Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders. Probably a third of the church is non-white. Can his own church in Harlem (assuming he attends one) boast the same kind of diversity? I doubt you'd see a whole lot of white faces there. But that's different. Those aren't racially intolerant churches.
What exactly is the shelf life of God-inspired bigotry? Mitt Romney grew into adulthood under a Mormon doctrine instructing members that Negroes could not enter heaven or the priesthood because they were cursed by God, and inferior. Laying aside the Mormon hocus-pocus, Romney is no different in such racial conditioning than his comparable, evangelical white Christian, to say nothing of the secular crowd.

"Grew to adulthood?" Yes. He was 30 years old when the church declared that the priesthood was now open to black men. (Heaven was never closed to them to begin with, but the calumny sounds better that way, so let's just leave that in. Who'll ever know?) Is the charge that he could have changed the teaching, and didn't? How much influence does he think the average young man has over a church of millions? Or is Payne saying Romney should have left the church in order to pursue a more color-blind way to heaven? If so, it says something about Romney's loyalty and Payne's, respectively. Romney sticks to the church he's committed to, even if some of its tenets aren't to his liking. Payne seems to think it's better to switch gods according to who suits him best.

From there, Payne descends into some kind of incoherency about disparate drug law enforcement. Which is clearly instigated by the secret Mormon cabal controlling America's judicial system. Which is managed by... white men! That proves it! Romney's a racist!

And the ugly:
I don't think the bozo at Newsday really meant to suggest some shadowy Mormon Illuminati skulking about in preparation for the day when they rise up and subjugate America under their dread regime of decaf pop and green Jello. Elva Anderson knows it's coming, and wants to warn us all. She knows all about it, because she consulted Sandra Tanner, who is to the Mormons what Jack Chick is to the Catholics. Here's what Mrs. Anderson has to say:
Frankly, I don’t think I can count on Mr. Romney’s prayers to his god who is busy birthing spiritual babies on another planet — not while bin Laden is also busy birthing babies on our planet (12 to 24 physical children, according to Wikipedia) and countless spiritual progeny, all of whom hate us.

So, money or not, I’m going to have to say “no” to Mitt Romney. I’d rather count on the prayers of someone like Mike Huckabee; he prays to the same God the pilgrims prayed to. Money might move some conservative leaders, but it won’t move the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when the Philistines, Assyrians and Babylonians come after us with their nuclear warheads.

If Romney is elected to the presidency, God will turn His face away from America, and darkness will reign upon the earth. Because the real role of a president is to pray for the country, not to manage it.

Update later in the day: It just occurred to me that holding Romney responsible for the sort of lurid rumors Mrs. Anderson and Mr. Payne are spouting is equivalent to expecting Guiliani to justify his adherence to the faith of Maria Monk and Alberto Rivera. It's not even his religion they're finding him guilty by association with; it's a caricature.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

How to get away with sexual harassment

Glenn Sacks thinks this SNL sketch is an illustration of how subjective sexual harassment standards are; i.e., if she doesn't like it, it's harassment. Maybe so, but I'm not trying to make a statement here. I just think it's a hoot.

(My apologies to anyone in the mammarily-unchallenged community who took offense at the word "hoot.")

Friday, December 07, 2007

Your Friday Christmas Movie

I figure it's about time to put up another film, since Christmas is bearing down on us like a logging truck.

This one is only a Christmas movie by way of setting; the actual plot is only peripherally related. Then again, some of the films we most associate with the holidays are like that. "It's a Wonderful Life" is an obvious one; it's so firmly established in the American Christmas canon that we can't imagine it with a summertime setting. Every year, we see a romantic comedy or two that are set at Christmas just because that's a lucrative time for the release. I'm partial to 'While You Were Sleeping" as an example of that genre.

The theme that ties these together is a sense of hearth and home, an emphasis on families and togetherness. Real families, of course, get on each other's nerves during the holidays, but that, too, is taken for part of the fun. In Christmas movies, family is paramount. The holiday-family-schmaltz dynamic also makes for an ideal way to make a sentimental movie not come across hokey, especially with one like today's film du jour. There's also kind of a built-in deadline that establishes the film's timing, as the characters want everything to be perfect for Christmas.

Although "Son of the Navy" sounds like the sort of thing you call a man when you want to provoke him into a tavern brawl, it's actually a benign, even pollyanna film. The plot is a familiar one: a little orphan boy tries to wangle himself a family for Christmas, even if he has to create it himself. It's also got the familiar comic elements of mistaken identity, a bickering couple that you know will end up in love, and a cute dog. I don't know why this little boy didn't keep acting as an adult; his last credit seems to be a Dragnet episode when he was about 20. IMDb doesn't have any other biographical information and I can't find any Social Security death record for him, so he's probably alive out there somewhere at the venerable age of 80. (Martin Spellman, if you ever find yourself here on a Google search or something, drop a comment and tell us about yourself, would you?) Besides him, James Dunn and Jean Parker (who immediately afterward was the charming leading lady in the last film I posted) turn in a delightful performance as the sort of people who shouldn't be allowed in the same room together. It's a cute, light B movie, all in all; not pretentious, just sweet.

This film has one more poignant note that the makers couldn't have predicted. It was released in 1940, as the Depression was winding down and it looked as though everything would be all right at last. By the following Christmas, the whole world would have changed, and the Navy would be reeling from the attack at Pearl Harbor. (That was 66 years ago today, in fact.) But for that short time, we get to see a military man and his makeshift family with no bigger problems on their plate than their personal lives. Which is how it should be.

So pull up a chair, pour yourself a warm cup of something, put on your toasty socks, and enjoy:

(Leave a comment if you see this, and tell me what you thought.)

Update: I removed the Tourette's Syndrome Barbie because the sound was interfering. If anyone wants to see it, it's not hard to put back. I think it's pretty much run its course, though, as far as novelty.

No hurry. Finish your coffee break.

I think if I were a Lewis County Sheriff's deputy, I'd have a second cup and maybe even a doughnut before setting out on this rescue. When your county looks like this, you've got bigger things to worry about than these cretins.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

If Tetzel had had the Internet

This makes selling indulgences look like small potatoes. And I'll bet they've never had to give a refund to a dissatisfied customer.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

This is my life!

What we say and what they hear:
What I said:
Kiddo#1! Breakfast!
What Kiddo#1 heard:
We’ve been up for half an hour and have been busy setting the table. I asked what you wanted to eat. The coffee maker beeped and the toaster popped. Everyone is gathered in the kitchen but you, and we called you for breakfast, but it’s actually a clever trick to fool you. You can defeat our nefarious purpose by sitting on the couch continuing to read, and we’ll be powerless to defend against you!

What I said:
If you want a stuffed animal, go in your room and get it.
What Kiddo#3 heard:
I will never let you have a stuffed animal again in your life.

Go read the whole thing. This rates her a spot in my sidebar for sure.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A man who never jumped the shark

It looks like hepatitis and pulmonary fibrosis have done what gravity, fire and the Snake River canyon couldn't. Evel Knievel is dead at 69.

What y'all may not know is that Robert Craig Knievel got his start right here in Moses Lake in 1965, trying to jump over a box of rattlers. He missed that time, but I've talked with people who remember seeing him do practice jumps over a narrow spot in the lake, just down the road from my office.

He fueled a million boys' stupidity in the 70s, with his jumps and stunts. Boys will do dumb, dangerous things anyway, but he gave us a role model. We used to pretend to be him when we jumped our bikes and hurled ourselves off roofs and things like that, imagining ourselves going through flaming hoops in a gaudy star-spangled suit. Rumor had it that one pinky was the only bone he'd never broken. Nobody, but nobody, was cooler than Evel Knievel. Even the Fonz was only a pale imitation.

I'm really glad it was natural causes that got him in the end, and not a crash. He may be dead, but by gum, he went out undefeated.

Update: I just ran across this (completely at random, in fact), and it seems like a fitting way to remember Evel.

Today I am a geezer.

That's right. Four decades ago, I came into this world, the only one out of something like ten pregnancies that survived to birth. And vile little whelp that I was, I can't believe I survived to adulthood. (Every year, at 12:29 pm, I apologize to my mom.) My oldest child is now the same age her mother was when she had her, and only a little younger than I was. At that time, I honestly never gave a thought to being 40. Heck, I figured I was taking the long view by acknowledging that one day I'd turn 30. (Coincidentally, I spent my thirtieth birthday about fifteen feet away from where I am now. Same office, different workstation.)

I can't complain; my Lovely and Brilliant Wife is both 40 and pregnant, which I can't top. But I can sit and ponder my misspent youth, and listen to my birthday song.

Anyone who wants to can see a baby picture over at It Comes in Pints (scroll down to number four).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

And something for Ricki

Apparently there are people translating the Bible into LOLCat. I don't know whether to laugh, cry or watch out for lightening, but I know Ricki will find it amusing. With Advent upon us, Luke 2 seems a good place to check out the desecration:
Oh hai, Jesus iz bornd
1 'Roun dis tiyem, Caesar Augustus wuz like, "I can has cenzus?"
2 ('Coz while Quirinius was Teh Boz of Syria, is invisible census!)
3 And all teh doodz went home for teh saying, "I is heer!"
4 So Joseph went from Naz'reth to Judeeah to Bethlehemm whar David wuz bornededed, 'coz David wuz hiz graete-graete gran-daddie,
5 An Mary went wif him, 'coz she was gonna be married an she was preggerz.
6 When wuz time for teh baybee,
7 it wuz a boy, so he wuz wrapd in blanket like burrito an placd him in fud dish, cuz innkeeper wuz liek, no room here kthxbye!

Sheep-doodz n Angels
8 Then there wuz sheep-doods in teh field, an they wuz watchin teh sheep in teh dark. Iz vry vry boring. srsly.
9 An suddenly, visible angel! An glory! O noez!!
10 But teh angel sed, "is ok, you can has gud news for all teh doodz!
11 Todai in da city ov David, you can has sayvur! is Christ da Lord! w00t!
12 Is sign fer u, find da baybee wrapd like brrito in a big fud dish."
13 An suddenly, moar angelz! They sez, 14 "w00t to teh Ceiling Cat! An peace fer doodz he luffs! Kthxbai."
15 An when da angelz go invisible again, sheep-doodz sed, "sweet, nao we find teh brrito-baybee sayvur!"
16 So dey left da sheeps (sheeps r vry borng) and found Joe an Mary and da baybee in da fud dish.
17 An when dey saw it wuz baybee an not brrito, they told evrywun he wuz kewl,
18 An all teh doodz who herd were lyke, "neat-o brrito!"
19 An Mary wuz lyke, "o rly?"
20 Teh sheep-doodz sed, "Yay fer Ceiling Cat! Was not invisible brrito!"
21 On dai noomber ate, it wuz tiem 2 circumcize him (iz laik getting fixd) an they called him Jesus, 'coz teh angel sed it wuz a kewl name.

Somewhere, Linus must be shuddering.

A hymn for Kymn Kim

I went looking last week for the words to the hymn tune Hiraeth, as I thought Kim at the blog of the same name would be interested. I couldn't find it online anywhere, so I scanned a copy out of my gymanfa hymnal. It's not William Williams Pantycelyn's best, not by a long shot, but the tune by Protheroe certainly evokes its namesake emotion. (Ironically, I don't think Williams ever left Wales at all.)

Here it is, Kim. Enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Saving the planet, one death at a time

I've been having trouble coming up with an adequate response to this bit of eco-stupidity, which the worthy 'Fly brought to my attention. Fortunately, Lileks is able to express at least one aspect of my revulsion with it:
Disaster! She had the awful thing put away, and now she and her husband enjoy hiking and vacations . . . in other countries, accessed via jets. But: “We feel we can have one long-haul flight a year, as we are vegan and childless.” She expresses frustration that other people are unable to accept her decision. I suspect she means “my mum” by “other people,” and I suspect she confuses “acceptance” with “full-throated endorsement."

Of course I accept these people’s decisions not to have children. What am I supposed to do, break into their homes, duct-tape them together into the double-backed beast and play whacka-chicka 70s porn soundtracks until they’re in the mood? But “acceptance” is part of the usual recipe: first we must tolerate, which no decent person should have any problem doing. Then we are asked to accept, which for most means slump-shouldered acquiescence. Eventually it’s not the norm, but it’s standing alongside it on stage, nudging its way into the spotlight.

Be it understood, I don't care if this woman sterilizes herself. Heck, from a Planned-Parenthood-eugenics perspective, it might be for the best. What I have a problem with is the idea that abortion is the way to "save the planet."

If the trend catches on, eventually the commandment will be "Thou shalt not suffer a child to live." Instead of merely being a cynical cash cow for eugenicists, the Sacrament of Abortion might grow to be treated as exactly that. Currently, it's only treated as an unqualified good by the most loathesome uterofascists, while politicians who might otherwise disapprove of it still bow at its altar to keep the votes coming. But if the Global Warming Cult gets a strong foothold, mandatory (or at least socially-demanded) abortion will follow behind. Realistically, I don't expect anything that drastic, but it's a direction I don't want to see our culture even begin to lean toward.

The other concern is a little more behind-the-scenes - the idea that it should always be somebody else, somebody worthless, who has to be sacrificed for the common good. It's always couched in the highest of motives - in this case, the pursuit of a healthy environment - but the bottom line is twofold: (a) it's going to take some suffering, and (b) it's not going to be me that does it. Logically, the most effective means of lessening her "carbon footprint" would be for Toni to off herself. But that never crosses her mind. After all, what good is a healthy environment if I'm not there to enjoy it? Me, me, me.

So it can't be Toni or her sisters-in-folly who make that ultimate sacrifice. And it can't be her husband (or boyfriend or whatever); walking and hiking and going away for weekends aren't any fun alone. Still, somebody has to be eliminated, or carbon will batter the ecosystem with footprints like kids playing on the best sledding hill in town. Logically, it has to be the person who is of no use to her, either financially or socially or emotionally. Coincidentally, that's also the only person she can get rid of without legal repercussions; the law frowns on murdering strangers, but subsidizes this kind of eugenics. It enables her to feel like she's doing the earth some good (infinitesimal in fact, but impressive to the ego) without actually compromising her lifestyle. This is the kind of thinking that motivated the ancients to sacrifice their children to vengeful deities, that caused Germans to look away when their Jewish neighbors disappeared, that allows soi-disant men to slink away and abandon fourteen women to their deaths. It's cowardice and selfishness, combined with a smug self-righteous conviction that turns contemptible behavior into a badge of superiority. I can muster more respect for an Islamofascist suicide bomber than for a woman who kills the helpless to keep her lifestyle uncluttered, then has the nauseating gall to expect praise for her actions.

Personally, I'd exchange Toni in a heartbeat for the baby she had killed. At least that was an unknown quantity. With Toni, we know what sort of people we're dealing with, and it's not encouraging for the future.

I could pass for well-traveled

You Know Your States

You got 10/10 correct.

You've got a pretty good handle on US geography.
There's a good chance you've visited at least a dozen of the fifty states.

Actually, I've been to six as an adult, plus a couple of others when I was too young to remember it. But it wasn't a particularly difficult quiz for anyone passing familiar with the map of the US. A tip of the (Australian) hat to Cullen.

Of course there's no connection...

... between this and this. At least you wouldn't know it from the latter account. Pure coincidence.

So there, Serbs!

This makes "José can you see" sound pretty lame:
Football fan websites in Croatia want a medal for the British singer whose X-rated rendition of the country's national anthem apparently helped the team to beat England.

Opera singer Tony Henry mis-pronounced a key line in the national anthem before Wednesday's match and sang "my penis is a mountain" to the delight of the Croat players.

The anthem is written in the old Croat style. Instead of singing "Mila kuda si planina", which translates "You know my dear how we love your mountains", he sang "Mila kura si planina" - "My dear, my penis is a mountain".

Croatian players Vedran Corluka and Luka Modric were seen grinning at each other when they heard the mistake, and fans said it relaxed the team and helped them to their 3-2 victory.

Apparently, even the Croats say that's a pretty easy mistake to make. And unlike Roseanne, he didn't mangle it on purpose. In fact, it could even be taken as patriotic bragging. If you're a Croat, that is.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Beyond Tomorrow (1940)

This seems as good a time as any to put up another Christmas movie, now that I've gotten the hang of it and all. I won't be watching any movies this weekend, as tomorrow is the Apple Cup game (Go Cougs!) and the rest of the time will probably be spent setting up for Christmas. But for those who have some time this weekend, I've got a little gem.

Beyond Tomorrow is the sort of movie you simply don't see anymore. Three elderly bachelors who both live and do business together set up a little test to see what kind of people are walking outside their window. They each toss a wallet with ten dollars and a business card inside, and wait to see who returns the money. Naturally, it's a man and a woman, both single and lonely, and both at loose ends for the holiday. The bachelors invite them to Christmas dinner, and the result is what you'd expect, either in 1940 or today.

It all takes a different turn when (a) the three men are killed in a plane crash and (b) the young man finds himself being led astray by a woman of easy virtue. From here on out, it's chock-full of the sort of thing that Hollywood would roll its collective eyes at today, even for a hokey Christmas flick.

For starters, the theology is a bit clear-cut for a modern film, even though for people who take their religion seriously it's kind of facile. The afterlife is presented without self-consciousness or wisecracks. Good is good, and evil is evil, and there is forgiveness for the repentant. It's a morality tale, pure and simple. If you don't like moral absolutes, you won't get this one.

Besides that, the acting is really good for such a low-budgeter, and there's a nifty little background/subplot thing with two Russian servants, refugees with Romanov connections. Maria Ouspenskaya is the sort of treasure that belonged in a museum; to see her in this B-flick is like seeing Olivier in a soap commercial. So get the hankies out and skip the cliche repellant:

Leave your thoughts in the comments!

A darn shame

I don't care where you stand on illegal immigration, this guy is exactly the sort of citizen we want in this country. I hope someone at the State Department sees this story and works out some arrangement to keep him here.

Here's cause to give thanks

Toddler falls out of a third-story window and isn't hurt. I could so easily see one of mine doing this. It makes my stomach hurt just to think about it, even knowing the boy is all right.

Wish I'd seen this yesterday

Hope everyone had a gluttonous holiday!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cheesy Christmas movie!

I don't know if I'll get much chance to post anything over the holiday, but I found this atrocity at the Internet Archive. I haven't actually seen it myself, although I picked up the DVD at Dollar Tree several years ago, but someday I'll get time. From what I've heard, it may cause a stench to emanate from your monitor, so don't be alarmed.

I don't know if the code will work on all browsers, so this is kind of experimental. If it works, then amuse appall yourself with Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

Update the next day: I actually managed to sit through almost the first half-hour before wanting to chew my arm off to escape. It's pretty schlocky. Now that I know how to do it, though, I think I'll probably post a few more Christmas films from Archive during the Advent season. I have a soft spot for old films, and the Archive has hundreds that would have been on the ashheap of history were they not preserved there. Not exactly Oscar material, but some of them are enjoyable as long as you don't expect too much.

Busy as a one-legged man in a kickboxing match

If the posting has been sparse for the last few days, it's because the beginning of the holiday season is hell on wheels in the newspaper business. I'd apologize, but I'm not sure I have the energy. Got a bunch of things I'd like to post about if time allows, but it's not been very generous so far. Meanwhile, the people in my sidebar have been posting, and there's some good stuff.

You may or may not have noticed that I've added WordGirl to the sidebar. Like me, she's a left-footer by adoption. Her home-to-Rome story is worth reading, and I suspect I may even know the church she was involved with. Even aside from that, I would have linked her just because her sidebar proves she knows where to get good breakfast. But WG, I've been to both and the Hotcake House at Milwaukee and Powell is worlds better. Circulation is overrated.

Also, check out this week's Catholic Carnival. This is the absolute coolest theme I've ever seen on a carnival, bending Aquinas to the occasion. It begins thus:
ST II-II. Q. 190 A. 1

Whether the faithful should participate in the Catholic Blog Carnival

Objection 1. It would seem that none should partivipate in the Catholic Blog Carnival because nowhere in Sacred Scripture is Christ, who is our example and model for Christian living, shown to participate in a Catholic Blog Carnival.

Objection 2. Further, the Philosopher said, "All men desire to know", but some posts in the Catholic Blog Carnival are primarily for the purpose of entertainment, rather than education.

On the contrary, Cardinal Ruini said that blogs can be a means of "showing [the youth] the true Jesus.”

I answer that, as stated above, Christ is our model for Christian living. Did Christ not teach in the meadow, and mountain, as well as in the temple. The internet is the meadow and mountain of the third millenia.

Furthermore, it is impossible for the Catholic Carnival constitute man's happiness. For happiness is the perfect good, which lulls the appetite altogether; else it would not be the last end, if something yet remained to be desired. Now the object of the will, i.e. of man's appetite, is the universal good; just as the object of the intellect is the universal true. Hence it is evident that naught can lull man's will, save the universal good. This is to be found, not in any creature, but in God alone; because every creature has goodness by participation. Wherefore God alone can satisfy the will of man, according to the words of Psalm 102:5: "Who satisfieth thy desire with good things." Therefore God alone constitutes man's happiness, but the Catholic Blog Carnival and those who participate in it likewise participate in goodness.

Reply to objection 1. Had the internet existed at that time, it would be fitting for Christ to have participated in a Catholic Blog Carnival.

Reply to objection 2. While it is true that all men desire to know, it is fitting for posts to be of a recreational purpose. Sacred Spripture says, "He once more will he fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with rejoicing" Job 8:21.

Ite, carnivale est!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Prayer update

Julie fills us in with the latest on baby Lauren and her cancer:
She had an exam before her second round of chemo yesterday. The doctors had hoped that the tumor would at least stop growing. Well, it's not only stopped growing, it has shrunk by one third! It's now small enough that they can laser it without risking damage to the optic nerve. She still was given the second round of chemo, to treat the cancer cells that aren't affected by the heat of the laser, but the prognosis is very very good at this point. Thanks SO much for your prayers!

Let's see Richard Dawkins pull off something like this. If he can't, I'll assume he doesn't exist.

Praise God!

Liberty Dollar raid

Will somebody better versed in the law tell me what's illegal about this operation? When you get past the political talk, what it looks like to me is that they issued what are essentially promissory notes backed by their own supply of silver, and those can be used as a means of exchange with any other entity willing to accept them. They're not counterfeiting – there's no pretence that the stuff is issued by the Federal Reserve – and nobody is under any obligation to treat them as currency. If it's all voluntary, private and above-board, what business is it of the FBI? I don't understand.

Answers to the culture quiz

If anyone's still interested, I did some googling and rooted out the answers to this quiz from Monday. They're hidden below the original post.

Update: Ken points out quite rightly that I had the barefoot Beatle wrong. It was indeed the late Paul McCartney walking barefoot across the cover of Abbey Road. If anyone else catches a mistake in my answers, please feel free to mock me mercilessly.

I'd wear his medal

The Queen of the Pro-Life Bloggers links to a heart-stretching article on Dr. Jerome Lejeune in an Irish magazine:
Something very unusual happened at a Special Olympics for those with a learning disability. Two sprinters, both of them suffering from what is called Down’s Syndrome, raced side by side. One of them pulled away, then suddenly stumbled and fell. His companion stopped, lifted him up, massaged his knees, embraced him. Together they shared podium honours. Emotion swept the stands. Spectators had been given a lesson in love.

Down’s Syndrome participants focused on one particular spectator. They smothered him with embraces and kisses. They emblazoned him with their golds, silvers and bronzes. He was the man who had defended their dignity, given them a new name and identity, discredited ‘mongolism’ and ‘Down’s Syndrome’ with their racist connections. The former term came from the belief that their physical appearance denoted a link with the inhabitants of Mongolia. The latter term commemorated the mid-19th century Sir Langdon Down, apparently a believer in white racial superiortity, who described the handicap as “mongolian idiocy”.

Anyone who's ever known a Down's Syndrome child has seen human innocence. What they lack in intellectual capacity, they more than make up for in sheer goodness. I've known several, annd I can honestly say I've never seen one be deliberately unkind to anyone. The Special Olympics story is typical.
But for his defense of these children, Dr. Lejeune was excoriated by his colleagues who saw no monetary potential in them, and hence no reason for them to live. He was passed over for a Nobel Prize because he insisted on treating the incconvenient as human. But if the delightful Dawn is correct, he's up for canonization, which makes the silly thing in Stockholm look about as prestigious as an honorable mention in a grade-school talent show. You go, St. Jerome!

No man can serve two masters

And if that's not a Biblical mandate for celibate clergy, I don't know what is. Unless it's this, which illustrates what comes of trying to juggle God, wife and mammon. I can think of a lot of things I'd rather be than the judge who has to open this can of worms.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I have found me a new hero...

... and her name is Mona. She did what so many of us dream of doing.

H/T to CrimLaw.

Let's play "speed bump"!

I'll bet if the trucks in Olympia got a good, running start, we'd see just how committed these Gandhi-wannabe buffoons really are. Would they give their lives, in the same way as the soldiers – for whose deaths they're lobbying – are giving theirs for what they believe in? I'll bet they wouldn't.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

If he taketh it for Taco Bell, not bloody much, apparently.
Nine years ago, Winnie Shilson stopped a bullet for Taco Bell. Last Friday, the company that owns Minnesota's Taco Bell restaurants emptied the other barrel.

It fired her.

Shilson will be 64 next month, and her story may illustrate how a fast-food society treats workers, especially its most experienced ones. After 30 years working for Taco Bell and the chains that preceded it, Shilson was fired Friday as manager of the Edina Taco Bell, dismissed without severance pay or medical benefits.

"Not even a taco," says her husband, Doug. "They didn't give her a thing."

The whole revolting story is here. So much for hard work and dedication.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Attitude adjustment

I was reading through Kim's blogroll, and realized I hadn't looked in on CoffeeSwirls in quite some time. Apparently I've missed out. Doug offers a self-examination for where our priorities are that I failed miserably:
* Do you gain more excitement in finding your team to be 8-1 than you do in God?
* Do you find that your happiness rests upon your bank balance?
* Would you be appalled if (fill in the blank) were to assume the office of President of the United States?
* Do you ever bargain with God to cover up your own shortcomings?
* Are you ever shamed into silence when you know that somebody needs to hear the gospel?
* Do you neglect the gospel when you are trying to comfort a believer who is grieving?
* Can a broken down car affect your opinion of the quality of your life?
* Are you too earthly minded to be any heavenly good?

I plead "yes" to most of the above. Most everybody knows we've had a tough year financially, and I'm afraid I've let that get me in the bad habit of acting like a permanent citizen of earth, instead of a transient on his way to Australia Heaven. * My priorities are in the wrong place. Thanks to Doug for bringing it to my attention.

Crash and burn, fella!

This is unequivocally the absolute worst pick-up line I've ever seen. I have a great deal of trouble believing anyone actually spoke these words. (Language and vulgarity alert, obviously!)

An officer and a gentleman

Posting a comment on another blog earlier today, the nonsense letters for the verification read SRGTPOUL, which made me chuckle. Sergeant, indeed! He's patently one of the great generals in that army of venerable, departed writers who made the future what it is today.

(As a footnote, I have the issue of F&SF that's pictured on the Wikipedia page. Picked it up for a dime from a bookstore that was going out of business.)

I must be uncultured

I only got 13 of these, and I'm going to have to look a couple of those up to be sure. I'm especially embarrassed not to remember #2, as I think I have a copy of that strip at home. 6 and 8 are also going to cost me some sleep. I should know those, dagnabbit!

Let's see who can do better. Here's David Bayly's quiz for the truly cultured:
1. Tell, within a dozen, how many books P. G. Wodehouse wrote. Shoot, make it within thirty…

2. Name the song playing on the radio when Duke threw the grapefruit into the bathtub containing his Samoan attorney.

3. Fill in the blank, “I love the smell of _____________ in the morning.”

4. Tell what machine Toad fell in love with after being thrown from his caravan.

5. Name the Who’s original drummer.

6. Describe the procedure for trapping a heffalump.

7. Name the Black Panther Party member who went from exile in Cuba to preaching at Wheaton Bible Church before designing and selling codpiece-equipped pants.

8. Name the artist who played harmonica on Keith Green’s 1980 “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt” LP.

9. Tell who said, “The policeman isn’t there to create disorder. The policeman is there to preserve disorder.”

10. Name the movie: “Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room.”

11. Name the Beatle with the bare feet.

12. Name the now-dead newspaper columnist who often quoted his friend Slats Grobnik.

13. Tell what color and model car O.J. Simpson was being driven down the Santa Monica freeway in.

14. Name the Chicago Bears defensive tackle who scored a touchdown in Super Bowl XX.

15. Finish the sentence from "Cool Hand Luke": “What we have here is a failure to _____________ .”

16. Name the movie this line comes from: “It's just a flesh wound! Come back and I'll bite your kneecaps off!”

17. Name the song that ends with the drummer shouting, “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!"

18. Name the lead guitarist on the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

19. Name the Tom Wolfe book originally serialized in Rolling Stone magazine.

20. Name the television series modeled on the work of a New Yorker cartoonist.

Update: Answers are hidden below. David never did post them, so I googled, and found I was wrong on some of the ones I thought I knew. The ones I got right are bolded.)

1. Wikipedia says he wrote 96 books, although I don't know if that includes the plays and songs.

2. White Rabbit. I was sure this was a Doonesbury reference, but it's from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which I haven't read.

3. Napalm

4. A motor-car.

5. Doug Sandom. (I know, I thought it was Keith Moon, too.)

6. Dig a Very Big Pit and bait it with hunny.

7. Eldridge Cleaver

8. Bob Dylan.

9. Richard Daley, mayor of Chicago.

10. Dr. Strangelove.

11. John Lennon Paul McCartney.

12. Mike Royko

13. A white Ford Bronco.

14. William "The Refrigerator" Perry.

15. Communicate.

16. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (One commenter at the original Bayly post says the quote should be "legs" and not "kneecaps." IMDb verifies this.)

17.Helter Skelter. (And there's debate over whether it was Ringo or someone else.)

18. Eric Clapton.

19. The Bonfire of the Vanities.

20. The Addams Family. (Although a Bayly reader pointed out James Thurber had a short-lived TV show, too. If you knew that, you're smarter than I am.)

Sidebar changes and other cool stuff

I added a couple of things to the sidebar over the weekend that you probably haven't noticed, so I'd better crow about them. First is Strange Maps, which (as the name kind of indicates) features a new map every day. Sometimes it's a new perspective on the world, sometimes it's an old map with some interesting frature, but it's always cool beyond belief. I've been tapdancing through their archives, and it's like a happy hunting ground for a cartophile like me.

I also added Hiraeth under "Prods." I don't know if Kim would really want to be on a Papist's blogroll, but the name of the blog was too good to pass up. In Welsh, hiraeth means "longing," in the sense of homesickness, but much more intense. It's a particularly apt Welsh term, because for the last hundred years or so, Wales' primary export has been Welshmen. Hiraeth is also an appropriate word to describe the Christian's longing for his true home. And personally, I'm kind of enjoying her quotation posts. I disagree with Spurgeon on a lot, but his rhetoric is a joy to read anyway. She's also got the wonderful idea of posting a note of thankfulness every day during November. That's something we all should be doing. Prayer should be more thanksgiving than whining about what we haven't got, yet I keep doing exactly that.

That set me off on a search for the words to the hymn "Hiraeth." Yes, there is such a hymn; I used to sing it at the Gymanfa Ganu. I've got it at home, but couldn't find it readily online. However, I did run across the Book of Common Prayer in Welsh, including translations of the morning and evening prayers my Lovely and Brilliant Wife prays in the Liturgy of the Hours every day. The English version is pretty enough, but I'm convinced that God would rather have written the Bible in Welsh, because no other language is beautiful enough to convey His majesty. I'll have to compare the Anglican and Catholic versions of the prayers and see how much is changed.

I also discovered a translation of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy (presumably the Chrysostom liturgy) into Welsh, in both PDF and MP3 formats. I'll download it as soon as I get home and have a listen. I'll bet it's incredible to hear.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day

There are more vets than I can thank in one post, and to try would be fatuous at best. I never served, mostly because the army wouldn't take me, but also because I was a typical 18-year-old with all the wrong attitudes. So I feel a little pompous trying to thank every vet I know in a single post.

But there's one I need to mention. My little brother Justin went into the Marine Corps straight out of high school. He was at Mogadishu, and in Bosnia, and other places where unfriendly strangers were shooting at him, and he didn't bitch about the president who sent him there or try to second-guess the reasons he was there. He'll probably never read this - I don't think he even knows I have a blog - but I'd like it on the record that I'm grateful for what he did, and I wish I had been as good a man after I graduated as he was. Thanks.

And more than anything, kiddo, thanks for making it back alive so my kids could know their uncle. They think the world of you.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Good-bye, Hank Thompson

Nobody else could have recorded songs like "The Squaws Along the Yukon" and "My Tears Have Washed 'I Love You' from the Blackboard of my Heart." Country music is the poorer for his loss. Have a six-pack to go, buddy.

That'll teach him

I'm sure there's a story behind this item I ran across in the police reports (not online), in The Greatest Newspaper in the Northwest™. This all the paper had:
Reporting party advised of his wife cutting the hose to his sleep apnea machine due to him staying out too late.

I'm due to go out of town tomorrow evening and hang with a couple of friends I haven't seen in years. If my Lovely and Brilliant Wife gives me a curfew, I think I'd better stick to it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Signs and Wonders

Chris Johnson channels Wuzzadem, with a quickie appearance by a couple of St. Blog's Parish's resident wise-elbows. This is absolutely hilarious, especially if you've been following the Anglican/Catholic/Unitarian-wannabe triangle. Put your beverage down before reading. Hat tip to Mark Shea.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Oh. Dear. Lord.

This is almost enough to make me violently ill.
It is time, in my belief, for Stacey Cowles to assume a position of leadership, to physically and dynamically lead us into the future as both end-users of journalism and journalists alike. This should not be done with tersely-worded statements of regret, pithy little acts of contrition really, but with all the power and authority vested in himself as the owner of Spokane's single biggest source of news journalism.

This is my formal call: in print or in the blogs, PLEASE, Stacey, meet us there, and assume control of all our combined positive energies and organize us all into a cohesive force, not just those who work tirelessly at the Spokesman, but an entire community of like-minded citizens. Traditional corporate thinking says that such a thing has never or cannot be done. I disagree. Send the call to the tribes of man, those in our community who are willing to say, "Here I am, Boss. Send me."

I'm not even talking about the abuse of the passage from Isaiah. Given Stacey Cowles' past conduct, I'd almost rather look for leadership from either of the two women below. Not quite, but almost. He's a slimy SOB, and Steve Smith is his faithful toady. If you think the owner and publisher of the Spokesman-Review is fit to lead a pack of jackals to a zebra carcass, ask Kevin Coe..

Hillary in a past life

Lord knows nobody's ever going to mistake me for a Hillary fan, but this is rather over the top. Which doesn't stop me from deriving a certain glee from the comparison.
We know that Shirley MacLaine, and other Hollywood types, believe in past lives. Reincarnation is, of course, a cornerstone belief of the Buddhist religion.

Is there evidence that Hillary Clinton has lived before? We know that the media won't press her on her beliefs. The mainstream media is perfectly willing to press Romney on his religion, and even ask him and his wife whether they engaged in premarital sex. But that sort of thing is off limits for Democrats (it should, of course, be off limits for Republicans too, but the mainstream media has no limit as to the areas in which Republicans are subject to smear, including outright encouragement of religious bigotry with regard to Romney).

Hooever, we don't have to invade the privacy of Senator Clinton. Whether she knows it or not, there is empirical evidence that she has lived before.

"One of the proudest and most cruel women on the face of the earth, and her whole history is a record of blood and deeds of horror." ...."the modern Messalina"; "a terrible woman...possessed by the lust of power and cruelty": so go the descriptions of a woman who came to power because of her former status as "first lady."

If you grant a little license to use "blood" in the figurative sense, do not the above descriptions fit Hillary Clinton? By many accounts, they do. Dick Morris, who knew Hillary Clinton well, would certainly recognize the above descriptions as applying to Hillary Clinton.

But the person being described is NOT Hillary Clinton. It is... And there's a little extra historical background here. Thank God (and I mean it literally) for a constitution that would make it impossible for Hillary to live out the same pattern, if she were so inclined.

All quiet on the Western Front

If I seem to be avoiding the blog, it's because I took a few days off work and we're having a housecleaning binge. I read from time to time, when I have to stop to breathe, but I probably won't be posting much this week.

However (speaking of the Western Front), I ran across this a few days ago, and it's cool indeed. It's the letters that Private Harry Lamin sent home from the First World War, blogged exactly 90 years after he sent them. As of last Tuesday, Harry was under heavy fire at the Battle of Passchendaele. Check thou it out.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

I guess it's just as well

Sometimes I get liberals and journalists reading here, and I'd hate to overwhelm them. :)

cash advance

A tip of the hat (and extension of the tongue) to my Reverend Auntie. Who, incidentally, is a retired junior-high school counselor. Where she's walked, Chuck Norris would fear to tread.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I'll bet the tithes are interesting

I think I'm going to be ill.
PA, Florida (CNN) -- Some Christian congregations, particularly in lower income, urban areas, are turning to an unlikely source for help -- the Church of Scientology.

Scientologists do not worship God, much less Jesus Christ. The church has seen plenty of controversy and critics consider it a cult. So why are observant Christians embracing some of its teachings?

Two pastors who spoke recently with CNN explained that when it comes to religion, they still preach the core beliefs of Christianity. But when it comes to practicing what they preach in a modern world, borrowing from Scientology helps.

The Rev. Charles Kennedy, of the Glorious Church of God in Christ, a Pentecostal church in Tampa, Florida, and the Rev. James McLaughlin, of the Wayman Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, are among the theological hybrids.

They say they are not scared off by programs with ties to a church that critics say has aggressive recruiting, secretive ways and rigid theology. As men of God rooted in Christian values, they do not see Scientology as a threat to their faith, but rather as a tool to augment it.

The congregation will please rise and sing "Just as a Clam, Without One Plea."

She's got a point

Several, in fact, neatly packed in a few short sentences. Kathy takes down Fred "Jesus loathes you, this I know" Phelps and his clan of dirty-eared inbreds, in her usual colorful fashion. She also has some choice words for others who could use a good whupping:
Leftists are so stupid they think these guys, with their 75 alleged members, are representative Christians. At least, that's what they tell themselves, so they can have something to bitch about and keep those Law & Order plots comin'.

When Westboro and Bush are both gone, what will liberals whine about then?

If America was the violent nation liberals think it is, Fred Phelps would have been shot in the head 10 years ago. After he'd killed a bunch of people. Didn't happen. If you think an asshole with a dumb picket sign is the biggest threat to your country, you either have a pretty lucky country or a pretty weenie brain.

Phelps is a jackoff, and the progressives who use him as a stick to beat Christianity at large are only slightly better. I don't see much difference between "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for dead soldiers", and the vitriol at or Kos. Can we sue them now?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A success story

Once in a while I wander by The Policeman's Blog, although it's been a while, since I thought PC Copperfield had stopped blogging when he wrote a book and decamped for Canada. Apparently he's been joined by a co-blogger calling himself PC Bill Sykes. This caught my eye, probably because I have a little boy called Dai, too.
A long time ago, I came across a lad called Dai. He was the smelliest junkie-beggar I’d ever seen. His hair was matted and filthy, he sported a massive, unkempt beard that looked like birds lived in it and he never, ever washed his clothes. I had no idea how old he was when I first saw him, but if you’d pushed me I’d have said in his mid 40s.

He used to hang around the shops by us, begging off people who were almost as poor as him. But he was polite, softly-spoken and basically honest, and I felt sorry for him. All the same, I warned him to knock the begging on the head. I saw him again the same week, and gave him a sterner warning. The following week I saw him twice more in the same spot and this time I left him in no doubt as to where this was going. ‘Look, Dai,’ I said. ‘If I see you begging here again you’ll be arrested.’

Next Monday, there he was. I arrested him. I locked him up again on the Wednesday of that week. And the week after. And twice the week after that. He was always the same. Lilting Welsh accent, no trouble, always told you where the sharps were (a main point of etiquette between drug users and those searching them).

Over the months, his condition deteriorated.

One day, after I’d locked him up yet again, we had a bit of a heart-to-heart. ‘You do know you're going to die on these streets if you don’t sort yourself out?’ I said. ‘That's no way to go, is it?’

He’d always resisted small talk, unlike many professional victims who can’t wait to unload their tales of woe. But now he started telling me his story.

He had moved to the city because of a girl. She was beautiful but she had a secret; she liked to play with needles. He joined in, and for a while things were great. The fun soon turned sour, though, and she kicked him out. With nowhere to live, he ended up in a hostel. Being from a small town, and shy, he found himself bullied and robbed almost daily by the other residents.

By now, his drug use had got much worse. He started living rough. Old warehouses, empty terraces, park benches, begging for the money to buy mean little bags of gear from the rat-faced local dealers.

‘I never thought I'd end up in this state,’ he said. ‘But I just can't face going home. I don't want my mam to see me like this. Plus, here I got my methadone script sorted… I’d have to wait for it back home.’ Like I said, he was honest.

‘Look,’ I said. ‘Why don’t I give your mum a call? You can’t go on like this, can you?’

He agreed. I called his mother. She was thrilled to the point of tears that I’d rung. She’d not heard from Dai for two or three years, and had feared he might be dead. She was desperate to see him – literally – and she told me how much his young brother missed him, too.

He wasn’t ready to talk to her just yet, so I kept up the calls, reassuring him that his family didn’t care about his problems, they just wanted to see him and help him sort them out. I also spoke to a housing association and drug workers back where his mum lived, and arranged for them to take him on when he returned home.

Eventually, he got himself on a train back to Wales and that was the last I heard of him.

Until a year or so later.

A Christmas card arrived at the nick. Inside it was a photograph of a lad in his 20s, clean-shaven, sitting near a Christmas tree with a big grin on. It was Dai. He had a job, a girlfriend, and a flat, he said. He was off the gear and had radically reduced his methadone.

His mother added a little note. She said we had given her best present any mother could get. We had given her back the child she thought she had lost. Most of the coppers in my nick had locked him up at some point or other. That card did the rounds. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Once in a while, there's a happy ending.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Corporate America is sorry if anbody actually respected Jesus

Gary Randall at Faith and Freedom Network fisks Miller's half-assed apology for the inexcusable:
Earlier this month, we made you aware of the poster which replaces Christ and His disciples with homosexuals. It was used to promote the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco.

Concerned Women for America first expressed concern and criticism of the poster, then others joined in condemning the act.

Within twenty-four hours, the Miller Brewing Company asked to have their logo removed. Now, they are making public apologies.

However, there are some interesting comments that came from this fiasco.

Nehl Horton, Miller Senior Vice President said after being called on it, "We apologize to everyone who we offended."

Translation: Please don't stop buying our products.

Andy Copper, board president of the Folsom Street event said after Miller got called on their participation in the event, "Miller was never afforded the opportunity to review our fair poster before it was printed and distributed."

Translation: Don't take this out on Miller, they are our friends and we want their money next year.

Copper, again, "I would like to apologize to anyone who felt that the image was disrespectful to their religious beliefs."

Translation: We had no idea that more than one hundred million Americans really felt strongly about Christianity and it's leader, Jesus.

Copper, one more time. "No malicious intent was intended."

Translation: We didn't think anyone held anything sacred.

Nancy Pelosi said, "I do not believe that Christianity has been harmed by the Folsom Street Fair advertising."

Translation: We didn't think you all would get that upset. Let's just forget about it and move on.

Schwarzenegger said, "No comment."

Translation: Just vote for me, but don't get me involved with this thing. Besides, I like girls.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said in their printed program, "To all organizers and attendees of the Folsom Street Fair, their families, friends, colleagues and visitors from home and around the world, have a great day and enjoy this wonderful and exciting event."

Translation: I've sold my soul for my job. I love my job.

The shortest scripture verse in the Bible comes to mind. "Jesus wept."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Look on the bright side...

... at least it wasn't Michael Jackson.
LOS ANGELES - Kinky photos of a half-naked Britney Spears perched on a priest's lap and leaning seductively against a church confessional sparked outrage among Catholic leaders.

At least one said the saucy snapshots, which grace the singer's thumping new dance album, "Blackout," are a "bottom of the barrel" stunt from a girl who really could use some quality time spent repenting sins in a wooden cubicle.

"This is all the puzzle pieces coming together. This girl is crashing," said Bill Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic League. "She's not even allowed to bring up her own kids because she's not responsible enough. Now we see she can't even entertain."

That kind of cheap shot is why I have trouble respecting Bill Donohue. Yeah, her pictures are offensive. They tap into the last acceptable prejudice, and defame thousands of good men who stick to their vows of celibacy by implying that they're all seccretly coveting little chippies with short skirts and shorter vocabularies. It's obnoxious, and I hope the album bombs. But leave her kids out of it.

Happy birthday!

It seems a little weird to be posting about Reformation Day, but Tim Challies' invitation set me to thinking. What, exactly, can a Catholic say about the Reformation? After all, it was a rebellion against the Catholic Church. We were, at least in the popular eye, on the losing side of it. And yet, I'm not all that sure either of those is really true.

No event in the history of western Christendom gets people as worked up as the Protestant Reformation. Catholics think of it as a tragedy, when whole countries departed the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church into schism, if not outright apostasy. Protestants treat it almost as the real founding of Christianity, as seminal as the First Vision is to Mormons. Both of them make a bigger deal out of it, I think, than is necessary.

It's not as though there was any shortage of heresies and schisms before Luther nailed his thoughts to the door. The Great Schism of 1054 leaps to mind. The Monophysites were still around, and are going strong today. The Nestorians are still there, too, albeit in lesser numbers. In the west, there had been the Albigenses and the Waldenses. All of them had split off from the mother Church, and some of them had stayed that way. (And that so many of those survived belies the myth that the Catholic church exercised total dominance and destroyed all dissenters. The Albigenses were wiped out militarily, but all the others were mostly left alone. And if you read what-all the Albigenses believed and did, I don't think anyone missed them when they were gone.)

What makes the Protestant Reformation different? Well, more than anything, I think it's because it happened to us. Not personally, but in our backyard, and it still affects us today. The schism following Chalcedon is only a matter for history books in America; the Protestant schism is still very much in evidence here. (I suppose the situation is the opposite in Egypt, but maybe not. Churches being oppressed by Islam don't have a lot of time to fight between themselves.) It also coincided with the advent of the printing press, which made it much more a commoners' revolt. Literacy spread quickly with the cheap availability of books, which made the ordinary man more of an ecclesiastical force than he had been.

But the main difference is that the Protestant Reformation wasn't all about doctrine. Yes, that's right. It was less doctrinal than any other schism had been except the East-West split in 1054. The Reformation was as much a political struggle as a religious one, and really, I don't think doctrine would have entered into it had Luther's attempted reforms been more quickly implemented. Trouble was, nobody listened to him. It didn't help that the pope was attempting to unite European leaders to fend off Muslim armies, which took a lot of precedence over some German backwater. But because he went unheard, Luther had to get louder and more offensive, claiming that the Church didn't have any real authority over him anyway. If one of his assertions was shown to be contrary to scripture, he simply edited scripture. The Council of Trent eventually vindicated him on a lot of things, but by that time the damage was done.

It's hard to blame Luther. Simony and political intrigue were as much a part of Church life in his part of Germany as the sacraments. Priests were ill-trained, bishoprics were bought and sold, and the piety and gullibility of ordinary people were being played on by sharks like Tetzel. Luther was, I think, an honest man who really grieved for the Church he loved, as children will grieve for an alcoholic mother. If you look at his writings, he started out expressing devotion to the Church and to the pope; it was only as his cries for reform went unheeded that he headed off into heresy and eventual schism.

I rather believe that had the Church done the necessary housecleaning in Saxony, today St. Martin of Wittenberg would be called a Doctor of the Church and ranked alongside Aquinas and Augustine. (If nothing else, his hymns should have gotten him canonized.) Since it didn't happen that way, we have his legacy to deal with, and it's a dilly.

After he established the precedent of schism based on individual interpretation, others began to imitate him: Calvin, Zwingli, Menno, Servetus. And over in England, Horny Henry made use of the new doctrines to tell the pope where to get off. (It's not a coincidence that Ann Boleyn had strong Lutheran leanings.) Widespread discussion of theology was a good thing, overall, but one side effect was that one schism begat another. Hundreds of years later, Charles Taze Russell would discover that the Bible didn't really mean what everyone had been saying it meant, and would retranslate to suit. John Calvin's ideas on predestination would eventually lead to Fred Phelps and David Koresh. Both Reformers would be appalled to have spawned such things, but once the bottle is opened, it's mighty hard to stuff the genie back in.

So far, so bad. But the legacy of Luther doesn't stop at disaster. As a result of his actions at Wittenberg Cathedral, the Church was forced to make some major changes. The Council of Trent is maligned by Protestants because it didn't affirm their view of justification, but what it did do was root out the simony and corruption that had brought the schism on in the first place. Seminaries were established, liturgy was made uniform, and strict rules were put in place to prevent the sale of Church offices and benefits. (The full documentation of the Council is here. It's usually quoted badly out of context; oddly enough, the apologists that use it as a bludgeon against Catholics seem never to have read it.)

The ongoing conflict has also acted as a spur to both sides of the debate. I'm sure most Protestants would deny it, but the existence of the Catholic Church establishes a standard for Christian tradition that Protestants adhere to. Interpretations of scripture on issues like the Trinity and the Incarnation are by default the ones established by the Catholic Church before the Reformation, and it's the New Testament canon laid out at Hippo, Carthage and Trent that is still used today. Protestant churches that have liturgical worship use variations on the Roman Mass. Even in contemporary issues like abortion and homosexuality, when proof-texts for both sides get thrown around, it's the ancient tradition of the Church that's the fallback position. Protestants don't like to think of those standards as Catholic ones, but they learned 'em from us.

At the same time, the Catholic Church has been forced by the existence of other sects to keep its own house in order. We don't sell indulgences, we don't have popes begetting children, and we don't have priests making up dogmas because they don't know for certain what's official and what's not. Our parochial schools were until recently a jewel among educational systems; they were originally founded because the public schools taught a default Protestantism. (Today, Protestant Christian schools are founded to keep kids from being spoon-fed secularism. So it goes.) We fight on the same side in a culture that increasingly despises Christ no matter what church His followers belong to. Protestants are finding themselves more and more aligning with Catholics where they can, as their own denominations abandon orthodoxy bit by bit. All this makes us hold ourselves accountable, where we might not if we were the only game in town.

As Pope Benedict has pointed out on several occasions, ours is a Mother Church with a number of daughters. Those daughters, after a tumultuous beginning, have grown up to be strong, beautiful and a credit to their mother. Like grown children, they may not be a mirror of the parent, but they also have virtues that their parent is lacking. Where we are sometimes complacent in our traditions, they are vibrant and enthusiastic. Where we lapse into cultural Christianity, they stress study and scholarship. In the past those virtues and lacks were reversed; they may be again someday. We'll always be different, but always from the same root.

We may mourn for their departure, but on this 490th birthday of the eldest daughter, let's also honor them for what they've become. Not children to be spanked, but peers to be loved and respected. Daughters in origin, perhaps, but sisters in fact.

Happy birthday. You've done Mom proud.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What's wrong with this picture?

Never mind the part about her being in her undies; that's actually irrelevant. You'll have to click on it to see it bigger to get it. I didn't want it too big here, because it might give onlookers the wrong impression.

I didn't get it either; I had to look at the answer. That's here, where my Lovely and Brilliant Wife stumbled on it. Don't peek until you absolutely give up; you'll kick yourself. (Update: I took a look at the comments on the linked post, and it's a lot cruder than I want to direct anyone to. So the answer is hidden below.)
She has six fingers on her hand.

Friday, October 26, 2007



If Ricki hadn't recently confessed to a love for this LOLCATS phenomenon, I wouldn't have the faintest idea what this was all about. My oldest daughter never reads this blog (she's heard quite enough opinions out of Dad in her time, thank you), but this is exactly her humor. She's the only one of my kids, I think, that's ever read any Lovecraft. Not that she'd actually LOL or anything; she's more the turn-up-one-corner-of-the-mouth-ever-so-slightly type.

Thanks, Cullen! I needed this.

Update: Here's another one I just had to put up:

A mother's day in three minutes

Dani passed this on to her e-mail list of moms last week, and was kind enough to include me. I'm not constructed as a mom, true, but I served as a makeshift one for some years, and dang if this doesn't sound familiar. It's a hoot.

Dani actually sent a link to Don Godman's post (H/TBUH), but I just had to steal it and put it up here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

He hasn't been screwed enough?

Okay, I'm all in favor of a divorced father paying his due support. I pay mine without bellyaching (at least not too much), and I don't have a lot of sympathy for guys who dodge it. But this poor schlub has been in prison for 18 years for a crime he didn't commit. Is it really necessary to nail him this hard as soon as he walks out the prison door?
Dwayne Allen Dail, 39, was cleared in August of the 1987 rape of a 12-year-old Goldsboro girl. The girl identified him as her attacker, and hair found at the scene was similar to his. DNA evidence found on a fragment of the girl's nightgown years after the trial proved Dail wasn't involved in the attack, however.

Gov. Mike Easley pardoned Dail two weeks ago, making him eligible to receive $360,000 from the state – $20,000 for each year he spent in prison.

Dail, who now lives in Florida, was served Tuesday with a lawsuit by Lorraine Michaels, the mother of his son, who is seeking back child support. The suit does not specify how much money she wants, as is normal in North Carolina, but asks a "reasonable sum for the care and maintenance of the minor child" for the years Dail was in prison.

"Since his release, Mr. Dail has not indicated any intention to provide support to Ms. Michaels," Michaels' attorney, Sarah Heekin, said in a statement. "In order to fully protect my client’s statutory rights, it was necessary to file an action for child support prior to the minor’s eighteenth birthday."

Dail said he was devastated by the suit. He said his son recently moved to Florida to live with him.

That last sentence makes me wonder if there's an alienation thread in all this as well: Mama's irritated because the boy wants to live with his father. Beats me; I don't know these people. But it seems to me that even an angry ex could cut this guy a little slack.