Friday, October 31, 2008

Tax Broke

18 And Done

The work marathon finally ended: after 18 days without a break.

What is this weekend thing? What will I do with it?
Mommy, who is this strange man?

Injustice wears some strange faces. Et tu, Brute?

Myths and Lies

It's stories like these, that prove the maxim: if you lie long and loud enough, people will believe you.

Pius XII was extolled by the Jewish community of his day. The revisionists have taken it upon themselves to say otherwise. The attack was written by ex-seminarians. The rebuttal was written by a RABBI. Therefore, I think it's enough to just quote Wikipedia. And yes, I actually read this book.

The Myth of Hitler's Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis is a book written by American historian Rabbi David G. Dalin and published in 2005.

Rabbi Dalin first documents how popes through history have defended the Jews, and refuted attacks like the blood libel.

Then he gets to the main part of the book: defending the reputation of the late Pope Pius XII by presenting extensive documentation culled from Church and State archives throughout Europe. Rabbi Dalin suggests that Yad Vashem should honor Pope Pius XII as a "Righteous Gentile", and documents that Pius was praised by all the leading Jews of his day for his role in saving more Jews than Schindler. Pius's admirers included Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog of Israel, Israeli Prime Ministers Golda Meir and Moshe Sharett, and Israel's first president Chaim Weizmann.

Dalin writes:

"anti-papal polemics of ex-seminarians like Garry Wills and John Cornwell (author of Hitler's Pope), of ex-priests like James Carroll, and or other lapsed or angry liberal Catholics exploit the tragedy of the Jewish people during the Holocaust to foster their own political agenda of forcing changes on the Catholic Church today."

UPDATE: CMR takes on the same subject.

All Hallows

Tomorrow is All Hallows (All Saints Day). That makes today All Hallows Eve -- Hallowe'en.

As has been typical in this country, the Holy Day has been commuted because it falls on Saturday (too close to Sunday). The problem with this is that commuted makes it sound like a prison or death sentence. "Whew! Glad that one got commuted!"

That is what makes for spiritual laziness. Yes, I'll admit that it is convenient. But has anyone noticed that the religious orders that are actually flourishing are the ones that make the most demands on its followers?

It's the same with lay people. People want to be challenged despite their laziness.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


First, I spent the entire Spring cleaning up the yard, killing all unwanted weeds and ugliness.

Then I threw my back out and couldn't do anything at all.

Next, I hired the neighbor's kid and paid a pretty penny to return my pride and joy to its pristine state while I was laid up.

Following, work went crazy and they thought we were in a non-volunteer Army, preventing any kind of yard work, including mowing the lawn.

Now -- the weeds -- they're back.


Why did God become Food?

Ever think about that? Think about just any party, any celebration, family event -- what is the one thing that ties them all together. They almost universally involve eating.

An omnipotent God, who could "turn" himself into literally anything chose ... bread.

Why? So we would eat it.

If you don't eat, you die. If you do eat the best food imaginable you ... live forever.

My girl, Blynken, will make her First Holy Communion in the Spring.

That's. Just. Awesome.

Do the Wegs

The bright spot in my otherwise crappy work month is, strangely enough, Wegmans. This is an awesome store: good prices, fresh produce, sumptuous dishes, easy prep stuff. I ziggied up there for lunch today and had a delectable meatloaf, sauteed green beans, and grilled zucchini and carrots.

When the going gets tough, reach for the comfort food.

And as if it couldn't get better, they just bagged a bunch of floor space in their huge wine department to devote to 700 types of beer. Not that low-brow stuff either, we're talking microbrews and internationals. I couldn't resist picking up some Allagash Grand Cru. I do have a fondness for that Belgian beer.


Ancient Palindromes III

Ok, you could have read the whole page yourself, but you gotta admit, a Sanskrit palindrome is pretty cool.

Palindromes of considerable complexity were experimented with in Sanskrit poetry. An example which has been called "the most complex and exquisite type of palindrome ever invented"[1], appears in the 19th canto of the 8th century epic poem śiśupāla-vadha by Magha. It yields the same text if read forwards, backwards, down, or up:

ra-sA-ha-vA vA-ha-sA-ra
(nA da vA da da vA da nA
ra sA ha vA vA ha sA ra
kA ya sA da da sA ya kA
sa kA ra nA nA ra kA sa)

(note: hyphen indicates same word). The up and down reading depends on re-reading the text back up again; the last four lines have been reversed above to clarify this property.

The stanza translates as:

[That army], which relished battle (rasAhavA) contained allies who brought low the bodes and gaits of their various striving enemies (sakAranAnArakAsakAyasAdadasAyakA), and in it the cries of the best of mounts contended with musical instruments (vAhasAranAdavAdadavAdanA).

Ancient Palindromes II

Another Latin palindrome,
"In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni"

"We go wandering at night and are consumed by fire", meaning moths at a campfire.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ancient Palindromes

I thought this very cool: Byzantine Greeks often inscribed the palindrome "Wash the sins, not face alone" on baptismal fonts.

Modern: Νίψον ανομήματα μη μόναν όψιν
Nipson anomēmata mē monan opsin

(note: ps is the single Greek letter psi (Ψ))

Overheard In My House

"You'll have to do a pony dance."

This is apparently a mash-up of "dog-and-pony show" and "song-and-dance".

But, hey, it makes me laugh!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Insert Blank

It's time for everybody's favorite diversion: Insert _____! (blank)

Where we take the potty-mouth expressions we "used" to say, and baptize them into something a bit more acceptable.

That way, people won't look at us askance who know we're Catholic and supposed to be acting like it.

Today's expression is: "Oh _____!"

Oh my goodness!
Oh my stars and garters! (the Beast from X-Men comic fame)
Oh nuts!
Oh no!

It's just for fun, try it!

Beer Madness

It happened back in March, along with that other madness which is basketball, but for the beer aficionado, can there be anything more satisfying than Beer Madness?

This is one of those things that I read about last year and forgot about this year until just now while I was enjoying a Magic Hat #9 (with a hint of apricot don't-you-know). I don't think I've agreed with the judges on the "winner", but it is fun to follow along.

It's also a way to get introduced to a number of really good micro-brews that you may not have had the opportunity to try. This year's winner was Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown, from Silver Spring, MD.
A smooth and refreshing beer loaded with flavor. Specialty malts balanced with just the right amount of cascade hops give it a roasted taste and beautiful brown color. This drinkable brown ale easily rivals an expensive import.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Deeply Divided

This is a subject that I'd like to explore later, when I actually have a moment to breathe.

We constantly hear the lament (usually in an election year) that the American people are "deeply divided" on social issues. We also hear in the same breath how we, the American people, just want someone to come along and "unite" us. Only then will the clouds part, the birds sing, and America regain her rightful place as the unchallenged leader on the world stage, economically, militarily, and morally.

My question is, why is being divided a bad thing, per se?

This is an indication that something is:
1) important enough to be both energizing and polarizing
2) a sign that something is deeply, radically wrong in our culture
3) the outcome depends on just who cares more

Being divided is a kind of societal pain, and pain is the body's natural mechanism to tell us that SOMETHING IS WRONG. Rather than seek a way to ignore or anesthetize the pain, the important thing is doing something to address the root cause. Pain is not bad by itself, it is a signpost to the real malady.

Mrs. Nod pointed out to me a long time ago, that having the debate is half the point. (Isn't public spirited debate a quintessential American value?) In India, for example, abortion is no longer a topic of public debate, it is simply accepted as a normal means of (post)contraception, as bland as having a tooth filling. A former co-worker of Mrs. Nod (originally from India) was simply puzzled by our preoccupation with the subject.

So, let's be divided for now: talk and debate. When the root cause of our society's pain has been addressed, the division that causes us so much angst will magically disappear.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cold Stone Birthday

Yes, it's birthday season again.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today I stole away from work so we could celebrate with dear old Dad.

After a yummy dinner of Floating Tacos and some Octoberfest, we washed it all down with some Cold Stone Creamery cakes.

I recommend the Mmmmmmint Chip and Midnight Delight!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

13 and counting

That's 13 straight days of work with 12 hour days and no relief in sight ...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's Fall and Things Are Turning

I love fall leaves. Don't you?

It's nice to be in an area where you can see the seasons change.

UPDATE: Don't forget to turn your clocks back NEXT Sunday (Nov 2)!!

Mrs. Nod reminds me that I'm calendar impaired!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Variations on a Theme

I gave up swearing shortly after college, but it can be a challenge sometimes to come up with an "appropriate expression" that used to be filled with a four-letter variety.

But since practice makes perfect, and since I like language anyway, I'm gonna ask you to "fill in the blank" with a new-and-improved expression.

This week's expression is: "Holy _____!"

  • Holy Joseph! (the one I've retrained myself to say)
  • Holy Moses!
  • Holy frijoles!
  • Holy cow!
  • Holy rusted metal, Batman!

    C'mon, give me some more ... !
  • Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Overheard In My House

    "You're really up against a creek!"
    "Whups! My bag!"

    (Wiping tears of laughter from eyes) I love her so!

    Btw, I stole this meme from a better blogger here.

    Minor Victories

    Things to be grateful for: today I played racquetball for the first time since September and I didn't get hurt.

    Man, endorphins feel good.

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Strain the Gnat, Swallow the Camel

    A bunch of people are running around saying, "Look how Catholic Obama is, he is for the poor, for social justice and against war. His policies will make our economy better." (maybe, maybe not)

    And so what if it does? It's a matter of proportions. Those things are certainly desirable and generally consistent with Catholic social teaching.

    But if you slam the door on discussion and put all hope of stopping the wholesale slaughter of millions (read, so-called "Freedom of Choice Act") beyond reach, then what good is it? We'll be crowing about how nice our new car is, while wading in the blood of innocents. Talk about straining out the gnat while swallowing the camel (Mt 23:24). We will have focused on the lesser good while ignoring the greater good.

    What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his immortal soul?

    Many are thinking: we will save the economy now, do some Catholic social justice good now, and we can always return to the nasty issue of fighting intrinsic evils later. There's always time for that later ... isn't there?

    Don't bet on it.

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    What do you find at The Brickskeller of course.

    Happy Birthday Shoe!

    Overheard In My House

    (bitter) Hey, only 5 more days until the work-weekend!

    Nub's got glasses

    Funny, I've worn glasses my whole life, never worn contacts, but being farsighted, don't use them unless I'm working on the computer or doing copious reading. My kids didn't even know I had them until I came home from work one day with them.

    Now, Nub's got glasses, and it looks weird to me. I always knew that at least some of my kids would wear glasses, but nine years later I'm a bit unprepared.

    Sigh. Whose vanity is worse -- theirs or mine? I think we all know the answer.

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Intolerance via tolerance

    My workplace makes a big deal about "respecting everyone's religion or non-religion" and so makes little accommodation for any.

    Several times I have had to work weekends, and it's always a battle to get time off for church. In light of this article, I thought it timely.

    Is it possible to be so "tolerant" that you end up being intolerant? Discuss.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Absolution To Go

    In a kind of follow-up on my series on "faith-to-go" (yes two posts does make a series), I give you

    This mall-based ministry is managed by the Capuchin Franciscans, and promoted by the Diocese of Colorado Springs, the Colorado Knights of Columbus, and the Capuchin Province of Mid-America.

    The back story is that I was in Colorado Springs on some business, and had an hour or two to kill before my flight out. I went to the Mall to find a drugstore to buy some aspirin for the perennial headache I get when near the Mile High state, when I stumbled on this storefront.

    So I walk in all friendly, "Hey, what is this, exactly?". A 900 year old Cappuchin walks out of his office and says, "Can I help you?" in an equally 900 year old voice. So I find out that they have a whole chapel for prayer (with tabernacle -- yeah!), spiritual guidance, faith inquiry, vocation discernment, parish and catholic charities referrals. Best of all, they have Mass twice a day ... and Confession!

    "Er, hey, I have this plane to catch in an hour ... can I get a Confession to go?". The very nice Capuchin very nicely obliges, although I thought he was going to fall asleep while giving me the absolution. LOL!

    Not only that, but the secretary gives me two aspirin! Take two and call me the next time you're in town.

    How cool is that? Absolution to go at the mall.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Tech Break: Xen PVFB and SELinux exploit

    One of the things I like to follow is technology and the continuing arms race between developers and exploiters. One of the hottest things right now in the security world is Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux) originally conceived by NSA. The next hottest thing in IT is virtualization. When the two collide, things like this happen ...

    I know this is Greek to most of you, but hey, it's an occupational hazard.

    Invisible Things Lab is proud to present:

    "Adventures with a certain Xen vulnerability (in the PVFB backend)"


    Rafal Wojtczuk



    Xen 3.2.0, DomU (an ordinary virtual machine, paravirtualized),
    Dom0 (privileged administrative domain) running on FC8 with NX,
    ASLR and SELinux enabled, The Evil Hacker, and a certain vulnerability
    in the Frame Buffer backend.


    The Evil Hacker escapes from DomU and gets into Dom0. Using clever
    ret-into-libc technique he succeeds with his attack on x86 architecture,
    despite the NX and ASLR deployed in Dom0 OS (Fedora Core 8). The Evil
    Hacker is also not discouraged by the fact that the target
    OS has SELinux protection enabled - he demonstrates how the particular
    SELinux policy for Xen, used by default on FC8, can be bypassed.
    Ultimately he gets full root access in Dom0. Rafal also discusses
    variation of the exploitation on x86_64 architecture - he partially
    succeeds, but his x64 exploit doesn't work in certain circumstances.


    Curious individuals can get the full paper here:

    Results summary
    • A reliable exploit for x86 32 has been written and demonstrated. The exploit works in the default Fedora 8 configuration, bypassing NX, ASLR and SELinux protections.
    • The author has not yet found a way to exploit the title vulnerability on x86 64 architecture in the default Fedora 8 configuration. However, if the qemu-dm binary is not prelinked, exploitation is possible.

    Joe Knows Socialism

    It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that "income redistribution" is akin to Socialism. That's not the American Dream; the American Dream is closer to the Protestant Work Ethic: work hard and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

    Plumber Joe Wuzelbacher confronts Obama about his tax plan:

    Run on over to IBD to explore the link between Obama's philosophies and Socialism / agitprop. And with the Republican Bush administration buying into banks, we are one slippery slope away from having an economy unlike any our Founding Fathers has ever seen.

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    Who You Got?

    Nothing speaks as powerfully for a movement as the type of converts it is able to make. The ability to move hearts and minds over a sustained period is usually a testimony to the potency and veracity of the arguments.

    Put more simply, you can fool people in the short term, but the truth always comes out.

    This is particularly striking when it comes to abortion. The radical abortion on demand agenda is being pushed on the American people by a surprisingly small but vocal minority.

    I decided to embark upon a small scope research project to see which philosophy had more or better converts (as distinct from adherents or proponents); people who started out in one camp and ended up in the other.

    My research was definitely unscientific but very telling all the same: Google "pro-life convert" vs. "pro-choice convert" and look at the top 50 or so hits.

    The results were overwhelming for the "pro-life" camp vs 1 girl for the "pro-choice" side whose rationale was "I started having sex".

    Notables on the pro-life convert camp:

    Washington DC, Oct 1, 2008 / 02:48 am (CNA).- Pro-life leader Dr. Alveda King, niece of civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., recently discussed her past experiences seeking services from a Planned Parenthood clinic in an interview. Saying the organization gave her “bad advice, bad counsel” and lied about her abortion, she called for taxpayer funding to be pulled from Planned Parenthood.

    Speaking to Cybercast News Service, Dr. King described how she had two abortions and then later a miscarriage in the early 1970s, years before she joined the pro-life movement.


    One is Dr. Bernard Nathanson, whose 1979 book "Aborting America" was a revealing glimpse at a man whom at that point had taken a few steps on a journey which culminated in a full turnabout on abortion.

    Once the operator of the largest abortion mill in the world, Nathanson eventually became a pro-life stalwart and creator of the immensely powerful video, "The Silent Scream."

    Pro-life convert Dr Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (N.A.R.A.L.), has admitted that abortion advocates consistently lied about maternal deaths from illegal U.S. abortions.

    He worked with Betty Friedan and others for the legalization of abortion in the United States. Their efforts essentially succeeded with the Roe v Wade decision. He was also for a time the director of the Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health (CRASH), New York's largest abortion clinic. Nathanson has written that he was responsible for over 75,000 abortions throughout his pro-choice career.

    The development of ultrasound, however, in the 1970s led him to reconsider his views on abortion. He is now a staunch supporter of the pro-life movement. In 1984, he made the documentary The Silent Scream which showed an abortion from the perspective of ultrasound. His second documentary Eclipse of Reason dealt with late-term abortions. He has also stated that the numbers he once cited for NARAL concerning the number of deaths linked to illegal abortions were "false figures".[2]

    He has written the books Aborting America and The Hand of God. Although he grew up Jewish, he described himself as a "Jewish Atheist"[2] and later converted to Catholicism in 1996 through the efforts of a member of Opus Dei. Before that conversion, he had been divorced three times.


    More recently, Norma McCorvey--the "Jane Roe" of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision--has embraced the cause of life.

    Norma Leah McCorvey (née Nelson born September 22, 1947, in Simmesport, Louisiana) is best known as the legal pseudonym "Jane Roe" in the landmark Roe v. Wade lawsuit in 1973. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that abortion is a Constitutional right, overturning individual states' laws against abortion. Years later she recanted her support of abortion.[1]

    At a signing of I Am Roe, in 1994, McCorvey was confronted by pro-life activist Flip Benham.[citation needed] Within a year, McCorvey converted to Christianity. She was baptized on August 8, 1995, by Benham in a Dallas backyard swimming pool, which event was filmed for national television. Two days later she announced that she had become an advocate of the pro-life movement (specifically, "Operation Rescue"), campaigning to make abortion illegal.

    In 1998, she released a statement that affirmed her entrance into the Roman Catholic Church, and she has been confirmed into the church as a full member.[5] She has also stated that she is no longer a lesbian.[6] On August 17, 1998 She was received into the Catholic Church by Fr. Frank Pavone, the International Director of Priests for Life and Fr. Edward Robinson in Dallas, TX.


    She is the renowned author of "Who Broke the Baby?" one of the two books that turned me (and no doubt countless others) from an instinctive pro-lifer into pro-life activist.

    That author is Jean Garton, the founder and president emeritus of the Lutherans for Life, and a friend of many, many years. To be honest I hadn't thought of Jean's story for years until I discovered the fall 2007 edition of Lutheran Woman's Quarterly on my desk under a stack of papers.

    In "A Celebration of Life," Jean recounts her life and how she and her husband (and three children) struggled when her husband decided to become a Concordia Seminary student… at age 40. "

    "I joined an activist group seeking to promote abortion-on-demand," she writes. "I spent six months studying the abortion issue from numerous perspectives in an attempt to find confirmation that abortion, as its advocates claimed, helps women, doesn't take a human life, and is a choice God allows us to make."

    How did she "come out the other end of that exhaustive research"? "[W]ith a changed heart and mind and with a commitment to be a voice in defense of the unseen, unheard, unborn child."


    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    Black Walnuts

    We visited the historical Walney house in Eleanor C. Lawrence park this weekend for a nature walk. The 700 acre Walney property has been farmed from the 18th through early 20th century. The front lawn of the property has at least a dozen Black Walnut trees.

    The fruit of the Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) is the size of a small, green apple. It is somewhat heavy to boot, and since the fruit ripens and falls in October, it can give you a nasty crack on the noggin if you are unwary. The wood is hard, yet easily worked, and therefore much prized.

    A number of the boys played with the fruits; I opened one to find the nut inside, and now I have walnut juice stains on my hands that won't come off. I thought that whole "walnut stain" thing was just a color you found at the paint or hardware store.

    Wikipedia says:
    The extraction of the kernel from the fruit of the Black Walnut is difficult. The shell is covered by a thick husk that exudes a dark, staining, strong-smelling juice. The juice will often be a yellow brown at first, and then rapidly assume a deep black-green color upon exposure to the air. The black walnut’s husks are known to leave durable, hard to remove stains on hands and clothing.
    Yeah, no kidding.
    Black walnut drupes contain juglone (5-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone), plumbagin (yellow quinone pigments), and tannin.

    The brownish-black dye was used by early settlers to dye hair. Extracts of the outer soft part of the drupe are still used as a natural dye for handicrafts. The tannins present in walnuts act as a mordant aiding the dyeing process; usable as a dark ink or wood stain.

    Tuesday, October 7, 2008

    Things That Go Bump In The Night

    Yeah, but it's not what you think.

    It was my plane flight. Thunderstorms. Strong turbulence -- bad enough that the flight attendants had to strap in. We had to circle Denver for an extra 40 minutes, descended, ascended, re-descended, and then had to sit on the tarmac.

    I'm not particularly prone to motion sickness, but it was dicey enough that the people to my right and left looked positively green. I almost lost my lunch; the lady across the aisle actually did.


    By comparison, today was great (nothing special happened - yay!)

    Saturday, October 4, 2008


    That's it. No fanfare. No earth-shattering news. No disturbances.

    It's. Just. Friday.


    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    Fairfax Complaints

    Who to call when someone's gotta be called:

    Submitting a complaint online:

    NOTE THE IMPORTANT LINK on the left side menu: “Submit a Complaint” More complaints may get faster results (not to mention the cost of our taxpayers money to having to have the police, fire and ambulance trucks come out…).

    Zoning Ordinance – General Regulations on Dwelling units

    Go to to read the full article.

    Other Helpful Links

    · How to see who owns what in any Fairfax County neighborhood – including sale history, lot map, etc:

    CONTACT: Zoning Enforcement Branch Dept. of Planning and Zoning 703-324-1300

    · Who do to call for assistance?:

    And the one I'm gunning for: Parking Restrictions - expired/no license plates
    FFX Police Non-emergency 703-691-2131


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