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.

She'd kill me

Although my Lovely and Brilliant Wife will be having a caesarian anyway, courtesy of our last (ten-and-a-half-pound breech) baby. I suppose there are people who would want to film it – in fact, there must be, as she was watching one on the Discovery Channel the other night – but it's a lot less likely than a normal birth.

I really don't understand why on earth anyone would want to aim a video camera at the business end while a childbirth is going on anyway. It's not one of those cuddly family moments you really want to include in your Christmas cards. More than anything, I think this cartoon kind of exemplifies the culture of crassness that has evolved around the Internet, the assumption that no matter what you're doing, somebody, somewhere, actually wants to see it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jerry Falwell was no fool

I didn't have anything against the man, but I often cringed when I thought of the things he said to the media. I kept wondering, "Does he have any idea how dumb he sounds? Apparently, he wasn't as clueless as I had always subconcicously assumed. That'll teach me to judge a man by sound bites.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Truth in wedding announcements

If they left the wedding invitations up to the groom's mother:

A/T to Wicked Thoughts.

Cradle Robber!

A 106-year-old man has married an 81-year-old woman in China.

Pan Xiting met his bride Chen Adi eight years ago and she has been taking care of him since then, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Their former spouses both died years ago.

"Now, we are a family and we will never separate from each other until death," the bridegroom was quoted as saying after the civil ceremony in the southeastern port city of Wenzhou.

This is more of a November-December romance, I guess. Or maybe into the following February.

Holding up their hands

Julie left an update on the baby girl with neuroblastoma in the comments:
Lauren is recovering from her first round of chemo. She goes again in 30 days for a check of the eye, another round of chemo, and a laser treatment. I know God is holding her in His hands.
Thanks for keeping her, mom Tammy and dad Andrew, in your prayers.

I was thinking of Lauren and her situation yesterday at Mass, because the Old Testament reading was from Exodus 17:
8: Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
9: And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10: So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11: And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12: But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

13: And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. [Emphasis mine, obviously. ]

That incident struck me as a perfect example of why Christians pray for people we don't know. Tammy and Andrew are obviously praying. I don't know their religion, but they're assuredly praying. (Even if they were atheists before, nobody whose child has cancer is going to refuse to pray on principle, I'll tell you what.) There's no way they can pray as hard as they want to; they're only human. So we, the Body of Christ, step in and hold up their arms, as it were. I don't know Lauren's family, but Julie does. I know Julie, at least within the limitations of the datawaves. Other people by now will have picked up this prayer request who know who I am but have never heard of Julie, much less Lauren's family, before. Last night I brought the prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in Moses Lake, Washington. Julie prayed in Houston, probably not in a Catholic sanctuary. Another Julie in Dallas goes through her blogroll looking for prayer requests, and may have picked this one up by the time you read this. (Update on Tuesday morning: she's got it here.) I know I have Protestant readers in Oregon, Alberta, and wherever Ricki is, among other places. And it extends beyond the Body: my Reverend Auntie, whose ideas of God are so radically heterodox as to no longer constitute Christianity, prays, and I think the real God hears her. I even know a couple of agnostics who would be praying if they were sure whom to address it to, and they're certainly backing us up as far as they can. They may not know God, but they know and love some of God's people.

We're from different communions, different places, and in some cases, even different religions altogether, but in one way or another, we're all lined up to hold up Tammy and Andrew's hands while they pray their hearts out for their baby. We'll probably never meet Lauren in the flesh, but that doesn't matter. She's still our concern to pray for, and God hears not only her parents, but the whole crowd of us supporting their praying hands. And when God's people support the hands of those who pray, neither neuroblastoma nor the Amalekites can defeat us.

Update October 17, 2010: Per Julie:
Lauren is doing GREAT! She has one glass eye -- that was the eye that had the first tumor (it was too late to save that eye) but thank God, they kept checking her other eye, and when a tumor developed in her good eye, they were able to control it with radiation and chemo, and saved her sight. She is very cute and a very happy child.

And via Julie, from Lauren's daddy:
We can always use the prayers, she is doing great, just got a new eye made last week and is as tenacious as a three year old can be. We go on friday to do another EUA (about every four months now, until she is around 5 to 6).

Do we have an incredible God, or what?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ya think?

"Duh" headline of the week:
"Not All Are Pleased at Plan to Offer Birth Control at Maine Middle School"

"Not all" includes, maybe, those reactionary godbags who prefer that their grade-school children not be made available for molestation?

You sick bastard

You think that's artistic? Wait till I find you in a dark alley and show you what I think is art.

Heartbreaking, infuriating story here. A/T to A Welsh View.

Water needed for New Hope Farms

I know Atlanta's in worse shape right now, but it sure would be nice if this place got the well it needs, too.
New Hope Farms, a 29-year-old home for 18 developmentally disabled adults at Goldendale, is in a crisis. It needs $85,000 to complete its new water system or it'll have to close.

The farm was founded in 1978 when a farmer and an idealist got together, the farmer donating 40 acres and the idealist bringing the first few men to live on the farm and raise turkeys.

The farm no longer raises pigs, rabbits or turkeys. Instead, backers say, it "grows love."

Full story here.

I remember when New Hope Farms actually was a working farm, as the people who ran it went to our church in town. My grandmother was one of the early volunteers; she used to spend several days at a whack living with the "kids" out there. I don't know how many places like New Hope are out there, but when you hear the horror stories about some of the institutions the developmentally disabled have had to live in, you can really appreciate the good ones. It'd be a shame if they had to close down for lack of water.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Oh, my word.

I don't even have the words to comment on this. Just read, and be aghast.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Prayers needed

For little Lauren, who's nine months old, and has already lost one eye to neuroblastoma. The cancer's too big to laser, so her doctors are putting her through chemo today and tomorrow to try and save the other eye. Ready, kneel, pray!

Happy birthday, Ollie!

I was going to post this tomorrow, but I'd forgotten about the time zone thing. The oldest denizen of the blogosphere turned 108 years old today. It's kind of staggering to realize that this lady was born when the internal combustion engine was still a novelty and man had yet to leave the ground. And today she's blogging.

Wow. Blog on.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Forever young

Ken will call me a ghoul again, and he's welcome to. I see these because the first thing I do when I get to the office is usually to poke through the AP wire, and it includes a roundup of the day's obituaries. This was one I really didn't want to see. Deborah Kerr now travels in elephants.

I know, I'm supposed to think of Deborah Kerr as the schoolteacher in The King and I, and she certainly was wonderful in that. I'm embarrassed to admit I haven't ever seen From Here to Eternity, and although we watch An Affair to Remember (right before Sleepless in Seattle) every New Year's Eve, I actually liked the original Love Affair better.

My favorite memory of her is in an obscure British film called I See a Dark Stranger, which I recorded years ago off some TV station and still dig out once in a while to re-enjoy. It's set during World War II, and Deborah played a "little slip of a girleen" from the west of Ireland who tries to join the IRA, finds she's about twenty years out of date, and instead winds up spying for the Germans. The film was okay in and of itself, but it would have been just another late-night British relic except for her. She took a rather generic role and made the young lady into the sort of beautiful, innocently sexy, and self-contradictory creature that so many girls that age really are. When she turned up her nose at Trevor Howard, you could see her looking at him out the corner of her eye. When she declaimed her principles (mostly an inchoate hatred of Cromwell), she sounded just like a thousand other young women who throw themselves so passionately into their causes, never dreaming that they're not alone in them. She wasn't a part in a script, she was a real girl, and the kind that makes you tear your hair out and champ at the bit by turns. She might as well have been sitting next to me, rather than on screen, she was so thoroughly real. I was smitten with her by the third scene.

No matter how much time passed, I don't think she ever lost that inner colleen. A couple of weeks ago I watched Reunion at Fairborough, a TV move from the 80s where she played a grandmother who's reunited with her wartime American lover (Robert Mitchum, playing Robert Mitchum). Not only did she sparkle as much in her 60s as she had in her 20s, but her character's granddaughter could have passed for Bridie Quilty in Stranger. Not in appearance, but in passionate, naive fire. The fire never faded, nor even smoldered. Time might have passed, but she never aged. She always sparkled with every line.

More than any better-known character of hers, I'll miss that beautiful, aggravating little Irish girl, I think. That's how I'll always remember Deborah Kerr. Young, fiery, impossible, and utterly wonderful.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

So long, farewell...

... auf wiedersehen, goodbye.

Back in the paper again

A column I wrote appeared in Monday's edition of the Greatest Newspaper in the Northwest™. The "My Turn" feature is a rotating thing among the editorial staff. I used to do those regularly, the only non-reporter in the place who did, but with one thing and another I've been on hiatus for several years. In fact, the last time I did one, the paper didn't have a functioning website. I've kind of missed getting to write those, although blogging fills the need to some extent. There's an ego thing involved, too; being stopped on the sidewalk by people who enjoyed something I wrote. It's a small town, so that happens. (Alas, the editor trimmed some of the funny stuff out for space. The original was better but too long.)

I got a very positive e-mail on it this morning from my former editor (now managing editor at the Sequim Gazette), and that really made my week more than anything else. Her standards are high, and she doesn't compliment anyone's writing lightly. (A side note: she also took the picture that's with the column, back in 1999 when she was a mere reporter and I was the cut-and-paste guy.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Denial is a perfectly valid response

I'll be 40 sooner than I like to admit, so conversations like this are becoming more commonplace:

I prefer to assume that the muzak in the grocery store is getting more current all the time.

What's wrong with this story?

A clipping from the AP story about last week's school shooting:
The student gunman, Asa Coon, opened fire last Wednesday. The shooting victims — two students and two teachers — survived.

Coon was holding two revolvers and wearing an angry look when he burst into class, wounded teacher Michael Grassie recalled. "Now what have you got to say to me?" the teenager asked him. Coon waived off a student and shot Grassie, the teacher said.

"I remember the expression on Asa's face," Grassie said Monday. "Anger, total anger. Real hatred. It's something I haven't seen on a 14-year-old's face before."

Gunman? At 14 years old? Where have we heard that before?

Good night, Mama Carlson

Carol Bruce, WKRP's crusty crone, has died at 87. I never noticed it before, but she must have been something in middle school – her son Arthur Carlson was born when she was 12.

Interestingly, the IMDB page for WKRP doesn't list a first name for the character of Mama Carlson. Does anyone know if it was ever mentioned?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Nice going, Madam Speaker

You were so eager to show up the president that you've pushed America to the edge of a war with an erstwhile ally, a war that we would almost certainly not win. And naturally, you'll do everything in your power to stab those in the back who would try to repair your damage. All the while, blaming it on the administration.

I don't say this lightly, but you're a traitor. Maybe not in a strict legal sense, but you have sold out your country no less than Lord Haw-Haw or Tokyo Rose. Not to mention the Kurds that you've consigned to the slaughter (not that that matters; they're too dirty and brown to be worth your consideration). Congratulations, Ms. Pelosi.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Off we go, into the wild blue weekend

I had to toss this up this before I left, though.

I rather expect to see Ricki come up with some LOL caption to attach to it.

Diolch yn fawr i Nic.

Looks like their plan worked

I never had any doubt that the resolution on the Armenian genocide was a calculated move to cheese off Turkey and lose us support in the Middle East. Let's be honest: it was a genocide. Everyone knew it was a genocide, except the Turks, who foam at the mouth when the subject is brought up. Congress could have passed a hundred resolutions like this a long time ago, or better yet, acknowledged that it was so bleedin' obvious that it didn't need a congressional resolution. Do they pass resolutions declaring that water is wet?

No, the only reason it was brought up now is that Nancy Pelosi wanted to cut the administration off at the knees, and it didn't matter how much long-term damage was done to the country's interests. I'm not so simplistic as to believe that all Democrats hate America; our political scene a lot more complicated than that. But this congress certainly hates the Bush administration enough not to care what they do to America in the process of harming the presidency. Between playing footsie with Syria and deliberately alienating our ally simply because it's our ally, Nancy Pelosi is demonstrating why she must never, never be allowed in a position of power that will affect foreign policy.

Congratulations, Madam Speaker. I'm sure the soldiers who will die, and the Kurds who will almost certainly be massacred the minute we turn our back, are all comforted that at least you helped make the remaining months of Bush's presidency harder on him. Bully for you.

Maybe a hundred years from now, we can pass a resolution declaring that the destruction of the Kurds was a genocide too. That'll make it all better.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Well, that's comforting!

How will I die?
Your Result: You will be murdered.

This doesn't guarantee pain and suffering, but it will be at the hands of another. Perhaps the vile deeds of a past life will attribute to this horrific demise. Do not fear murder. There is a rare epiphany that comes from this type of death. You will see it in the last moments.

You will die from a terminal illness.
You will die in your sleep.
You will die in a car accident.
You will die while having sex.
You will die in a nuclear holocaust.
You will die of boredom.
You will die while saving someone's life.
How will I die?
Create a Quiz

A tip of the Akubra to Ricki.

She's not pointing at your belt buckle, fella.

A dose of humility, photographed in a men's room in Holland.

Akubra tip to A Welsh View.

Sports training ain't what it used to be

We may revel in schadenfreude over the tabloid antics of today's athlete-celebrities, but that's nothing compared to our grandparents' day:
If the world of sport - or our way of watching it - changed irrevocably at the very time of my birth, there happened, too, one glorious final fling for sport's old order. I was precisely one week old 70 October 11s ago (the very day, as it happens, that Mrs Cissie Charlton of Ashington gave birth to bonny babe, Robert) when an England cricket team, led by Hampshire's Lord Tennyson, embarked for India. They won the series but Fleet Street never so much as whispered that, during it, they enjoyed hunting panther, tiger and elephant, that at Patiala the Maharajah gave the team the run of his 300-strong harem, and that on the very eve of the state match against Madras (according to Arthur Wellard's memoir) "the local Maharajah challenged us to an all-night drinking contest - whisky, brandy, gin, the lot. George [Pope] and I dropped out after midnight, but Joe [Hardstaff] matched the Prince glass for glass, drink for drink, till past 5am when Joe collapsed and we had to carry him home as good as dead." Next day, Hardstaff scored 213 (c Gopalan b Parthasarathi) in five hours, 24 fours, and, says Wisden, "never appeared in any trouble".[Emphasis mine]

H/T to Kendal King Pin, who noted that it sounds like Wellard was channeling Harry Flashman. Anyone for whom Flashy comes quickly to mind is my kind of people.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

You call that a taco?

I had no idea that Taco Bell had the sheer gall to operate stores in Mexico.
Some of the names have been changed to protect the sacred: the hard-shelled items sold as "tacos" in the U.S. have been renamed "tacostadas." This made-up word is a play on "tostada," which for Mexicans is a hard, fried disk of cornmeal that is always served flat, with toppings.

But while Mexicans eagerly buy many American brands, the taco holds a place of honour in the national cuisine. Mexicans eat them everywhere, anytime of day, buying them from basket-toting street vendors in the morning or slathering them in salsa at brightly lit taquerias to wrap up a night on the town.

Taco Bell has taken pains to say that it's not trying to masquerade as a Mexican tradition.

"One look alone is enough to tell that Taco Bell is not a 'taqueria'," the company said in a half-page newspaper ad. "It is a new fast-food alternative that does not pretend to be Mexican food."

It's still a mixed message for Mexicans like Marco Fragoso, a 39-year-old office worker sitting down for lunch at a traditional taqueria in Mexico City, because the U.S. chain uses traditional Mexican names for its burritos, gorditas, and chalupas.

"They're not tacos," Fragoso said. "They're folded tostadas. They're very ugly."

Am I the only one who thinks this is like opening Olive Garden in Milan, or Long John Silver's in London? Don't get me wrong; I actually like Taco Bell's food. (I'm a sucker for the steak baja gordita.) And in some parts of the US, I guess it's what passes for Mexican food. But to call it that in Mexico requires a uniquely Gringo kind of arrogance.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sidebar changes

I was looking over an old post from about a year ago, and noticed that although Pastor Dave at Postings from Prairie Hill had commented, I had neglected to add him to my blogroll. I'm sorry to have forgotten him, because he's got some good things to say. Dave pastors an Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Texas, is a fourth-generation PK, and has a rather new-looking baby. Now that he's been added, I expect to check in with him frequently.

And on a sadder note, I have to take off Villainous Company, as Cassandra has retired. I'm going to miss her. May God bless her in whatever she tackles next, as she does it with pungent humor and graceful speech.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Putting God in a box

Or on a movie screen, or in a mold, or whatever. Ricki hits so many nails on the head here that I don't even know where to begin.

Some of the things Ricki brings up here are the ones that make overtly-practicing Christians about as popular as Amway salesmen to the rest of the world. Yes, I know, Christianity isn't about being popular with the world, but is it necessary to deliberately cultivate annoying habits? If we're going to be hated for Christ's sake (and I hope at least some people do), then it should be for virtue, not for asininity.

Ricki doesn't like to get all verbose about her faith, so she doesn't post like this very often. Which is exactly in keeping with the post's attitude. I wish I were good about living Christianity without speaking, in a St. Francis "if necessary use words" sort of way.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Monica Lewinsky endorses the GOP

I won't put the picture of the campaign button up myself, but you can see it here. Safe for work, but bawdy.

This is why I love Moses Lake

Remember the family that suffered a tragic fire on Saturday? All that remain now are the mother and a 1-year-old baby; two chidren died in the fire, and the father died trying to save them. Well, there's no way to bring them back, but the neighbors didn't abandon the survivors, either. So far, folks in town have set up two donation accounts at local banks, collected contributions of clothes and toys, loaned the family a storage unit for what little they have left, and donated a duplex, rent-free, for them to live in while they get back on their feet!

There are some good people in this town, and I'm proud to call them my neighbors.


I missed this when SondraK posted it last month, but it was so perfect I just had to dredge it up. I hope my Californian wife will forgive me.
Do you know what happened this week back in 1850?

California became a state on September 9, 1850.

The State had no electricity. The State had no money. Almost everyone spoke Spanish. There were gunfights in the streets.  Basically, it was just like California today, except the women had real [breasts] and the men didn’t hold hands.

Happy birthday to the state that makes America the weirdly wonderful place it is!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

We have a winner loser!

The Mother of the Year award goes to... the envelope please... Wendy Cook of Saratoga Springs, New York, for not only prostituting herself with her kids in the back of the car, but snorting cocaine off her nursing baby's tummy!

If anyone can top this one, I'm not sure I want to know about it. A/T to Obscure Store and Reading Room.

Ya, y'betcha!

People who try to outstubborn a squarehead have only themselves to blame for what follows. (Did I mention that my mother's family is Norwegian?)
Edith Macefield is stubborn. Man, is she stubborn.

That's what her mother told her when she was a little girl back in the 1920s. It's a characteristic that has followed her all her life. Now that unrelenting stubbornness has won the 86-year-old woman admirers throughout Ballard.

Macefield refused to sell her little old house where she has lived since 1966 to developers, forcing them to build an entire five-story project, which includes a grocery store, fitness club and parking garage, around her. (Emphasis mine.)

She was offered $1 million to leave. She turned it down flat.

For those who aren't fortunate enough to live in the Northwest, Ballard is a Scandinavian enclave in the north part of Seattle. It started out as its own town and was absorbed sometime in the last century, but when I was a teenager I used to take the bus up there and just hang around, soaking up the Norseness. I've known old ladies like her, and my money's on Mrs. Macefield. Yu betcha.

Monday, October 01, 2007

This is how a man dies

I only knew him slightly, but I'm proud to see that he did exactly as a husband and father should. Rest easy, Danny. Your family will be well cared for.

I wish I were dumber

I seldom read the Internet Monk without learning things that I had no idea I didn't know. This is what I mean by that:
Now I live in a part of the county where ignorance of every sort is widespread. The dropout rate is almost 30%. Running any kind of school here is a battle. And most of the ministers and Christians in this area are untaught, or at the most, self-taught. Comparatively speaking, pastoral ignorance of various kinds is common.

My friend Walter is a local pastor. He’s never attended Bible school, much less college. He’s not much of a reader. He’s too busy in his bi-vocational ministry just trying to make ends meet and do what his job, family and church need of him to be a scholar. Some of Walter’s sermons are difficult for me to listen to. They are delivered in mountain style and they are, frankly, hard to understand. Mostly, Walter takes a well known character or story and applies some principle from the scripture to the day to day experiences of his congregation...

Of course, those who are more educated in the doctrines of the Christian faith will tell me that there is much wrong with Walter’s ministry. He needs to know many, many things and preach them faithfully. His congregation will be strengthened by doctrinal soundness in way they won’t be through Biblical stories and their lessons. His ignorance ought to be repaired and his ministry improved. I’ll not argue with that, but I will tell you another Walter story.

One thing I didn’t tell you is that two years ago, I was in the hospital with my dying mom, and I needed a pastor. At the time, I didn’t have one. I guess I could have called any number of the ministers that I know. Actually, having been the minister in the hospital before, I was fairly certain of what would happen, and while I wouldn’t have been ungrateful, it wasn’t that important to me.

Walter happened to be in the hospital that day, visiting members of his congregation and the wider community, as was his habit. He found me, my wife and my dying mom in the ER.

Walter stayed with me all day. He found a doctor who would let my mother stay in our hospital and pass there, instead of flying her to Lexington. He helped me talk to the doctors about the course of treatment mom and I had agreed on. He prayed for me. He was a pastor to me. He was Christ to me.

Never once did Walter attempt a theological justification of the ways of God. He never got out the Bible. (Nothing wrong if he’d chosen to, of course.) He was the Bible for me that day. He put flesh and blood on God and hung out with me. He thought for me when I couldn’t think clearly. He knew my heart and he helped me listen to my heart at a very confusing moment. He treated me with love and dignity that brought joy into one of the worst days of my life.

Walter showed me that day that if you are going to measure life by how it’s lived, and not by how people talk about what they believe, he knows a lot more about God than I do. He’s not read anywhere close to the books that I’ve read and he doesn’t have my vocabulary or degrees. He has the the book that matters, and its author, in him. Compared to Walter’s embodiment of Jesus, I’m stupid...

Walter has a life full of Jesus. How did Walter get so full of Jesus? By wanting him there and keeping the doors and windows open for Jesus. Not by learning the outline, the answers and the powerpoint version and stopping there. My version of Jesus often looks a lot like an essay question I’d write. Walter’s Jesus - his rough, unpolished and ignorant version of Jesus - is the real deal, at least when it counts.

Remember that Jesus was a teacher, but he never dismissed class. Life was his classroom, because he refused to isolate truth into compartments. He had no intention of producing a disciple who was an expert in theology but useless in a hospital ER. He had no plan to allow the specializations we use to excuse ourselves from what it really means to be a Christian. Carrying the Cross and Washing Feet weren’t talks. They were your life.

And if you’re smart enough to improve on that, you’re too smart. Dumb up, brother.

I'm not theologically knowledgable, not by a long shot. But I'm a long way from Walter, too. I think I know which one God prefers, and given the choice, I know which I'd rather be.

That's my boy!

At least, I can't find anyone else to blame him on. Our mailman is a mail-woman, and there wasn't time to switch him at the hospital. Besides, he looks too much like the other kids.

My one consolation is that either (a) there will be some really, really fun grandchildren coming out of all this, or (b) that he'll become a priest and those particular genes can be stopped in one generation. I didn't know how much I meant this post when I put it up.

I'm a little late with this...

... but congratulations to Bitterroot and Mrs. Who!

May all the morning sickness, weird cravings and visits from Messrs. Braxton and Hicks be rewarded in spades!

With friends like these...

There's nothing like a little paranoid conspiracy-whispering to make Christian morality seem looney.
MAPUTO, Mozambique - The head of the Catholic church in Mozambique said on Wednesday he believed some European-made condoms were deliberately tainted with the HIV/AIDS virus to kill African people.

“I know of two countries in Europe who are making condoms with (the) virus on purpose, they want to finish with African people as part of their program to colonize the continent,” Archbishop Francisco Chimoio told Reuters.

“If we are not careful we will finish in one century.

He goes on to say that the anti-AIDS drugs being sent from the West are intentionally increasing the spread of the disease as well. I'm not sure which to be more upset at: the idea that a bishop in my church really thinks we Westerners are such callous bastards or that he's giving the rubbermongers ammunition to pooh-pooh ouur teachings on contraception and sexual morality.

Gee, Grandma, what big teeth you have!

So this morning I flipped over to Photoshop Phriday to see what I had missed last week, and what should be the first picture I saw:

The better to embark you on a life of exploitation, depression and breast cancer, my dear!

Supreme Court bans prescription drug coverage for employees

Of course, it won't read that way in the papers.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday declined to enter a church-state dispute over whether some religious organizations can be forced to pay for workers' birth-control health insurance benefits, a growing trend in the states.

The court let stand a New York court ruling upholding a state law that forces religious-based social service agencies to subsidize contraceptives as part of prescription drug coverage they offer employees.

Catholic Charities and other religious groups argued New York's law violates their First Amendment right to practice their religion because it forces them to violate religious teachings that regard contraception as sinful.

When are our robed masters going to figure out that no mattter how many laws are passed, the government cannot change religious tenets? You can see how much success the Chinese have had. What did they think, Catholic Charities was suddenly going to sit up and say, "Aha! God was wrong and the state of New York is so much smarter!" (It's not just New York, either; 22 other states have similar laws, including The People's Republic of Seattle and Vicinity Washington.) If churches can't offer coverage without sinning, they just won't be able to offer coverage. It's that simple.

Naturally, the next step will be to eliminate that option as well, and force the charities to close, so they can say, "Look what a bunch of hypocrites those people are, refusing to feed the hungry or house the homeless!" Of course, I don't see the backers of these laws stepping up to the plate to do the dirty work of charity. High-blown rhetoric is one thing, but actually consorting with the needy isn't in their job description.

The next paragraph is the money quote, with the real reason for the law:
"If the state can compel church entities to subsidize contraceptives in violation of their religious beliefs, it can compel them to subsidize abortions as well," the groups said in urging the court to take their case. "And if it can compel church entities to subsidize abortions, it can require hospitals owned by churches to provide them."

Bingo! (As we Catholics like to say.) Once again, "Choice" means doing as you're damn well told.