Sunday, May 31, 2009

Many Things Do Not Fly

"Do not be sad, many things do not fly: rocks, trees, sticks ... Spike."
For those of us who saw this 900 times when our sibs were growing up.


"Look out! Sharptooth!"

"Yup, yup, yup!"

Camp Snyder Quickie

Well, it's no secret that I don't love camping.

Actually I do like almost all of it except the whole sleeping in tents part. When I was young I could sleep literally anywhere, and on anything, including concrete. Of course it's a lot easier when you weigh less than 100 pounds and you're still growing.

Now that I'm old and busted, I can't stand sleeping on anything that is not a bed. That is, and not be stiff and sore to the point of uselessness afterward. For the amount of times I have fallen asleep on the couch after dinner, you'd think it was comfortable for me, but it's not -- part of it is that I know I'll wake up later because I'm not comfortable.

Anyway, Wynken had a camping trip to Camp Synder this weekend, so I was duty bound to go with the boy. The facilities are actually very impressive as you can see from the picture here. Everything a boy could love: a fort, a village, archery, pool, space port, pirate ship, dinosaur bone dig, a lake, firepits, rocks, sticks, and Spike -- whups, not Spike.

It also sports some permanent tents on raised platforms which I thought was really well done. Should be a blast for day camp. Wynken must have had a great time since he conked out cold when it was time for bed. Exhaustion is the true measure of a good time, eh?

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #7

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents:

They didn't teach me this in Sunday School.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Overheard In My House

This weekend Nod-girl said:
That's why you started out small: so you could grow up to be my handsome Daddy.
Aw. You get a gold star in my book!

Homebrew Plus 5 Weeks

Making beer is an ancient and time-honored art; beer provides sustenance for the fast and pleasure for the palette. Me and the Homebrews is a chronicle of a bunch of guys following in the footsteps of the great Abbey Monks and their brews. In their honor, we domestic monks chose a Belgian style Dubbel Ale; this potent brew weighs in at 8% ABV.


Waiting, waiting, waiting. I'll never get out of Casablanca. That's all that's left to do really, is wait. We should have siphoned the beer off into the secondary fermentation carboy, but that's more aesthetic than not: how cloudy should the beer be? Still haven't gotten that CO2 cylinder or additional One Step cleanser for the keg. One more week minimum. Waiting.

Note: to see all the entries in this series click on the homebrew label at the bottom of this post!

Overheard In My House

Of all the requests I get, some are more challenging than others:
"Can you boot the Internet for me?"
Sorry, you'll have to call Al Gore for that one ...

Abortionist Tiller Murdered

It's hard to say anything that hasn't already been said in so short a space of time, but it bears repeating anyway: murder is murder whether it's the baby or the abortionist who is killed.
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - A Kansas doctor reviled by anti-abortion groups for his work providing "late-term" abortions was shot and killed in his Wichita, Kansas, church on Sunday, and police said they captured the man responsible.
Other zealots will try to paint the pro-life movement as a whole with this tainted brush, but the killer of Tiller is no pro-life person and we want nothing to do with him. You cannot achieve a moral victory over those who would deny the basic right to life of all human beings by adopting their tactics.

WBN prays for mercy on the soul of the dead, and for the conversion of heart for the living.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Poll On The Best Detective

Let's try something new: a simple poll. See it in the upper left corner of the blog sidebar?

A simple question, four possible answers. Who's the best detective? Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, or Father Brown?

Go on, vote!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Who Not What: Respecting Persons

As I was walking in DC today, I saw a group of people having an argument. Looking to avoid trouble, I steered wide of them; but I couldn't help overhearing this phrase: "Look, you got a man, right?"

Verbal phrases are a little bit like fingerprints in that they reveal a little of who you are. The person asking if the lady in question if she "had a man" betrays a selfishly possessive attitude that treats others like objects or trophies, something to "have" or "possess".

It makes me a little sad.

Therefore, we should be mindful how we talk to each other, about each other, and most importantly the attitudes we hold about each other.

There's a Who there, not a What. And as the Whos say: a person's a person, no matter how small.

You Know It's Bad When France Won't Take You

Just because I'm feeling saucy, I thought I'd point out that the Church of Scientology is having a rather bad month.

First, they may get banned from France; now even Wikipedia is showing CoS the door. It's like they can't get any love.

Sure, anyone can bash a Catholic and get away with it; try bashing those Scientologists and you may mysteriously vanish, or get abducted by aliens, or something.

I, for one, welcome our new Alien overlords ...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Riddle Me This

UPDATE: Take the poll in the upper left sidebar. Vote for your favorite detective!

In a bake-off of great fictional detectives, who would win? I may have to watch them all to find out. Even If I can't draw any final conclusions, it'll still be time well spent. Who would you vote for:

Hercule Poirot

Sherlock Holmes

or Miss Marple?

US Ambassador To Vatican Supports The President

Shocking, I know. Everyone's talking about it.
[Michael Paulson] The White House tonight announced that President Obama is nominating Miguel H. Díaz (right), a Catholic theologian from Minnesota, as ambassador to the Holy See.

[Mark Silk] For starters, with Sotomayor this makes for a serious one-two punch with Latinos. It's very interesting that he's a theologian rather than your basic Catholic pol or lawyer type. He served on Obama's Catholic Advisory Board during the campaign, which puts him firmly in the Kmiec camp. This strikes me as the shrewdest of moves, and one that will cause no end of teeth-grinding on the Catholic right, including the likes of Archbishop Burke. But we await learned commentary from his co-religionists.

Update: Turns out Diaz is a consultant to Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. Big win for social-justice, common-ground Catholics.

It doesn't really matter what Conservatives think, Obama was going to tap someone who was a) Catholic and b) a big Obama supporter. Hence you get someone who is a consultant to Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and was on Obama's Catholic Advisory Board.

Easy math.

Ambassadorships are rewards for faithful supporters of political figures; everybody knows that. Hopefully the guy appointed to the task has some affinity/interest to the area that he is appointed to, since he's in country to smooth the way for US interests and needs to draw on that connection to help him do that.

So yeah, it'd be nice if the US Ambassador to the Vatican was 100% in line with Church teaching and so and so forth, but he's not the Vatican's Ambassador, he's the President's. Things act accordingly to their nature.

Larry The Bus Driver

I just learned the name of the guy who has been driving me home from work for the last three months: Larry.

The reason I didn't know his name before is that he is "just the bus driver". You ride the Metro train and the guy (who you never see) is just "the Metro guy"; you ride the bus and the guy who drives it is "just the bus driver". You don't think about it much. Oh, sure, when he gets home he's Ralph Kramden to somebody, but to you he's "just the bus driver".

But recently, thanks to St. Anthony and to playing country music backwards, I found my lost cell phone and got my Metro money back. Larry helped me do that: he found it, turned it in, and then wrote down the number of the place that I could go get it. He didn't have to go out of his way to do it; the 6:40 pm bus driver sure couldn't be bothered, but Larry did. Larry keeps his bus clean, provides tissues for the riders, drives smoothly, and is always courteous yet professional. The 640P guy is surly, bad tempered, drives all herky-jerky so you wanna puke, takes the corners really aggressively, and practically throws you off the bus at the end of the line.

So I appreciate Larry. I even called in to his supervisor to give him props. When you see a guy doing his job with dignity and doing it well -- that's a witness to others.

Yeah, Larry's all right by me -- and that has nothing to do with the fact that he said I looked like James Bond today (but it didn't hurt). :-)

Captain Caveman Intro

Because it's fun to remember bad TV.


The Vatican is trying to get the hang of this Internet-thingy at, a nexus of the Vatican You Tube Channel, Facebook, iPhone App, and WikiCath.

Eh, guys, it's just not there yet ...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ablative Of Insert Blank

Latin is funny sometimes.

It has the distinct advantage of being a dead language (high school students take note -- no verbal requirements!). The age old schoolboy ditty runs: Latin is a dead language / as dead as it can be / First it killed the Romans / and now it's killing me!

Second year Latin is nothing more or less than reading Ceasar. Veni, vidi, vici, etc. Do you know what dear General Julius spent all his time actually doing? Killing people. It's a living, I guess. As a funny consequence, Latin has as many verbs for killing people in interesting and gruesome ways as the proverbial Inuits have words for snow.

Latin also requires that you conjugate verbs and decline nouns, which is a fancy way of saying your grammar has to match in case, number, and gender. After the obvious noun-verb-pronoun thing, Latin also sports the "everything else case" which is called ablative.
The Latin ablative case (ablativus) has at least fifteen documented uses; although some classicists[who?] have stated that there are additional unique uses. Generalizing their function, however, ablatives modify or limit nouns by ideas of where (place), when (time), how (manner), etc. Hence, the case is sometimes also called the adverbial case; this can be quite literal, as phrases in the ablative can be translated as adverbs. E.g. magnā (cum) celeritāte, literally "with great speed", may also be translated "very quickly."
In practice it is used with prepositional phrases, but covers all other contingencies. These contingencies have some funny names like:
  • Ablative of Place
  • Ablative of Separation
  • Ablative of Instrument
  • Ablative of Manner
  • Ablative of Time
  • Ablative of Absolute
  • Ablative of Attendant Circumstances
  • Ablative of Accompaniment
  • Ablative of Personal Agent
I was sure that my high school Latin teacher was making this stuff up. She was one of those crazy cat ladies, so we were convinced her grasp on reality was a bit slippery. It was memorable, however. So what do you get when you combine the bloodlust of Ceasar with the love of made up grammar rules? Ablatives of insert-blank: when in doubt, throw in an ablative of make-something-up and 5 out of 6 times you were right! Some of these ablatives she swore were true made me suspicious, however; see for yourself.
  • Ablative of Disembowling (With a Rusty Implement)
  • Ablative of Taking Someone's Head Off With A Pike
  • Ablative of a Slow and Agonizing Death
  • Ablative of 5-to-10 Years With Time Off For Good Behavior
  • Ablative of Destruction
  • Ablative of Being a Demi-god
  • Ablative of the Stink of Blood
  • Ablative of Taking Someone Else's Woman
  • Ablative of Going To War
  • Ablative of Possession Is Nine Tenths of the Law
So, hey, if you're ever stuck on what to do in life, remember this: implement your ablative.

A Techie In Sheep's Clothing

For the first time in over 10 years in my professional career my primary platform that I do all my work on is an operating system that I have no control over. Stuck in a Windows-only world without administrator access, with secure policies that I have helped push on others for years.

(Sigh.) O, Linux, Where Art Thou?

I may have to root my own laptop just to remember what it feels like.

But hey, I've got a rubber stamp and a paycheck, so who's complaining?

Habemus SCOTUS

Today, President Obama announced his nominee for the Supreme Court Of The United States: a Latina woman. Anyone who is surprised please raise your hand. No takers? Didn't think so.
WASHINGTON – Reaching for history, President Barack Obama on Tuesday chose federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court, championing her as a compassionate, seasoned jurist whose against-the-odds life journey affirms the American dream.
It is as yawn-inducing as it was predictable. The criteria these days are for something "historic" rather than good or great. Is she good or great? I honestly don't know, but the usual bloodletting is under way.

Overheard In My House

Nod-girl: I want to go to art school. Mary wanted to go to art school and she just kept asking until she got to go.
Me: Mary who?
Nod-girl: Mary, the mother of Jesus. I don't know any other Mary.
Me: Really? Where did you hear that?
Nod-girl: Rapunzel.

[Editor's note: It doesn't have to make sense, it's just stuff they say ...]

Red Bull Reporters On Crack

More stupidity from the science-as-reporting crowd: Red Bull has cocaine!

BERLIN (AP) — Six German states have told retailers to stop selling Red Bull Cola energy drinks after a test found a trace amount of cocaine.

This despite the immediate statement from Germany's Federal Institute for Risk Assessment declaring it OK.

Germany's Federal Institute for Risk Assessment said Monday that the cocaine level was too low to pose a health risk. It planned to produce a more detailed report Wednesday.

This kind of reporting / overreaction is mild when compared to the median. Aptly illustrated by Jorge Cham over at

Monday, May 25, 2009

Christopher West Corrects Nightline Editors

Recently Christopher West, a Catholic educator, author, lecturer, and faculty member of the Theology of the Body Institute was featured on Nightline. And the criticisms have come raining in from all quarters, somewhat unjustly. But this is a case of editorial skew. Based on the meida report, I thought "this guy is a raving sex lunatic giving Catholics a bad name". Doing my own homework, I find the opposite to be the case.

Several editorial comments which have also been picked up by other news outlets have led to misleading statements which seem to paint West as a radical Catholic sex therapist / preacher who equates Pope John Paul II and Hugh Hefner's approach to sexuality.
[] Regarding the connection between John Paul II and Hugh Hefner, Christopher often points out the interesting historical “coincidence” of the work of these two profoundly influential men. In the early 1950s, as Hefner was founding Playboy magazine, Karol Wojtyla began to lecture and write about the need for Christians to experience a redemption of their bodies and sexuality. In their respective work, both Hefner and John Paul II responded to a puritanical /Manichean approach to sexuality, but they offered completely different solutions to the problem. This is the historical "connection" of which Christopher spoke in the Nightline interview. ABC latched onto this point, but they failed to provide the larger context Christopher offered in his extended interview with Nightline’s correspondent. This lack of proper context has led some to misinterpret Christopher’s remarks as somehow endorsing Hefner’s views.

The point Christopher made—but which wasn’t included in the Nightline piece—was that, as Catholics, we agree with Hugh Hefner’s diagnosis of the disease (i.e., a puritanical rejection of the body and sexuality is utterly contrary to Catholic faith), but we radically disagree with his cure.
This kind of misunderstanding is almost inevitable given the culture's 5 second attention span and the media's desire for shocking headlines and scandalous stories. The plain fact of the matter is that context is everything. If you take a complex subject and thousand pages of instruction and try to distill it down to a sound bite, you're bound to come away with a distorted view.

WBN has covered the topic of media selective hearing before, and it seems like it applies now.
West: The Song of Songs presents an unabashed biblical celebration of the chaste love of a husband and wife, including multiple references to the intimacies of "tasting" the goodness of the other. Let my lover come to his garden and eat its choice fruits. Songs Ch 4

Media: Did he just say "oral sex"?

Experience The Stations

SpiritJuice has been among the forefront of Catholics in the digital age using the New Media to bring the faith to young people everywhere. They are hip, relevant, and real.

One of their latest projects promoted is Experience the Stations which looks promising.

Experience the Stations is a High Grade Mulitmedia Event that has been occurring every Lent for the past six years. It is a modern look at the traditional Catholic prayer, the Stations of the Cross. It consists of Video Clips, Secular Music, Testimonies from Youth, Live Special Effects and More.


Now why is it if a guy offers to buy his wife a power drill for her birthday, he's derided as an insensitive clod, but if his wife offers to buy him that boxed set of movies she wants to see for Father's Day, then that's ok? Just sayin'.

Uh, gee, dunno. Hey, what's this movie about?

Nub Needed Duct Taping

Supposedly somewhere in a small town in Texas there is still a law on the books dating from the rough and tumble frontier days that states a valid defense for shooting someone is "he needed shooting".

That's my kind of justice: I'm sorry, your honor, he needed shooting. Case dismissed! That's the logic I'm using to justify the idea that the toddlers need duct taping. If you have now or have ever had a toddler you know what I'm talking about. Blink and they're gone; constantly in motion to find the most dangerous item in the house, the most precarious situation, or the loudest activity.

Nub is turning four years old, and he's come a long way from the premature infant with the congestive heart failure, the immature lungs, the open heart surgery, and the delayed everything. He is now a running, grasping, climbing, and roughhousing toddler. Open door? Gone. Baby gate? I can climb now, Dad. Put out of reach on the counter? I've got reach. The only thing he hasn't got is an "off" switch.

So what do you get for a toddler who's into everything? My vote is duct tape.

Really, it's for their own good. It's strong, so they can't break it like toys. It's shiny so they are really mesmerized by its looks. It's sticky -- what kid doesn't like sticky? C'mon, if it's good enough to fix the lunar rover, it's good enough for my kids! Plus, this way you always know where your toddlers are, and you know they're safe. That's good parenting, right?

So you see, officer, they needed duct taping.

Oh, well, Happy Birthday Nub!

Homebrew Plus 4 weeks

Making beer is an ancient and time-honored art; beer provides sustenance for the fast and pleasure for the palette. Me and the Homebrews is a chronicle of a bunch of guys following in the footsteps of the great Abbey Monks and their brews. In their honor, we domestic monks chose a Belgian style Dubbel Ale; this potent brew weighs in at 8% ABV.


A point of clarification. That is really all that is going on with the beer -- clarifying. It is settling and aging, the flavors are mellowing. Fermentation of sugars into alcohol have slowed to the point of stopping. For the Dubbel it is optional to siphon the beer off into a secondary fermentation carboy. This gives us one last chance to leave the sludge known as cold break behind to give our beer a beautiful body.

Note: to see all the entries in this series click on the homebrew label at the bottom of this post!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival #6

This week on Sunday Snippets WBN presents something cosmic, something national, and something local.
  • As the Hubble scientists peer back to the moment of creation, WBN gives a preview of what they might find
  • Obama announces a divorce from Catholics
  • This is what happens when you play country music backwards


Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day: We Salute You

With gratitude for those brave men and women who have given the final measure of devotion to their country.
The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation's gratitude—the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

General Orders No. 11, Grand Army of the Republic Headquarters.

The Cool Pool

Just about every kid out there loves the pool. Today, our pool opened and the day was hot. Perfect combination. After getting a bunch of chores and errands done, Mrs. Nod headed off to the pool with Wynken, Blynken, and Nod-girl while I stayed home with the toddlers and their naps.

So why didn't I go? Other than logistical difficulties with two toddlers who are hell-bent for leather to drown themselves, and other than the fact that they love it more than I do*, I was perfectly content not to go, because I know something that the Nodlings don't: the water is freakin' cold still.

There haven't been enough hot days yet for that giant mass of cold water to warm up appreciably. Wait a month, then it'll be great. Plus, being the very first day, the chlorine levels have to be intolerably high -- I'll wait to see their puffy little red eyes in church tomorrow.

* The phrase "love it more than I do" reminds me of one of my favorite childhood books called More Spaghetti, I say! by Rita Golden Gelman in which Minnie can't stop eating spaghetti.
"I love it. I love it. I love it. I do."
More than me?

"More than you."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Irreconcilable Differences

Some people are satisfied with fair sounding words, others are more concerned with substance.

The President said in his speech at Notre Dame that despite all his fair sounding words, there is no middle ground. There is only middle ground if somebody gives up their position. The fact that the opposing views are "irreconcilable" in his words means that there is nothing that can be reconciled and therefore no touted "middle ground".

Proponents and opponents, take note.

He did say that we should speak nicely about each other, though. Big deal.

KANSAS CITY, Missouri, May 21, 2009 ( - Although the University of Notre Dame has defended its invitation of President Obama for the sake of dialogue on abortion, Obama's own remark Sunday that the opposing views were "irreconcilable" brought dialogue to a "screeching halt," said Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO.

"I think the message of the day was this - that the President of Notre Dame said that they had invited the President of the United States and decided to honor him for the sake of dialogue," said Bishop Finn in an interview with the diocesan newspaper the Catholic Key earlier this week.

"The President got up and said that the differences that we have on abortion - namely the Catholic Church's staunch opposition to abortion and his staunch support of abortion were 'irreconcilable,'" he continued. "And at that moment, it would seem to me that the dialogue came to a screeching halt.

"Father Jenkins' expressed desire for dialogue, whether it was well-founded or justified, at that point got thrown back in his face. The President shut the door on dialogue by saying that there was not going to be any change in his position on abortion and he understood that there was not going to be any change in the Church's position on abortion.

"I am glad that Mr. Obama was so clear."

Throwing Money Around

Do you know what you get when you play country music backwards? You get your house back, you get your truck back, you get your dog back ...

That's how the old joke goes, anyway.

Do you know what you get when you throw your Metro pass around? Stranded.

It's not been a stellar week, but it hasn't been dull. Both cell phone and Metro pass have gone missing. The pass fell out of my shirt pocket (dumb place to keep it) sometime between getting to work and trying to go home. I had already walked the two blocks to the station, down the escalator, up to the turnstile, reached into my pocket ... and it was empty.

Retracing my steps at that hour ensured that I would miss the connector bus home, but since I had just put $100 on the card, I figured it was worth it. I asked the guard at the desk if anyone had turned in a lost fare card, and miraculously they did! Returning to the station, I swiped the card: it read $25.

It wasn't mine.

By the time I returned the card the next day, I discovered it had been deactivated. I didn't know they could do that. I called the house to let them know I'd been delayed, and caught the last bus home. Next morning I noticed that my cell phone was now missing as well. Aargh. And yes, I called it: it's off.

There has been a little ray of sunshine, however. Since I still had my receipt from charging up my fare card, the nice people at Metro were able to cancel the lost card and transfer the balance to a new card.

If I could just find my cell phone, all would be well.

Now, where did I put that country music?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Homebrew Plus 3 Weeks

Making beer is an ancient and time-honored art; beer provides sustenance for the fast and pleasure for the palette. Me and the Homebrews is a chronicle of a bunch of guys following in the footsteps of the great Abbey Monks and their brews. In their honor, we domestic monks chose a Belgian style Dubbel Ale; this potent brew weighs in at 8% ABV.


At exactly 3 weeks post-brew, the Homebrew Dubbel specific gravity stands at 1.012 (at 72 degrees) which is the same as last week. Did the sample taste better than last week or was that my imagination? It still has 3 weeks to go by the book. I'm guessing primary fermentation is complete; it may be time to siphon it off to the secondary carboy. Time to think about CO2 as well.

Hubble, Hubble

Astronauts finished repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope today.

It was a tricky operation since the Hubble was never meant to be serviced in space. At one point when a stuck bolt on a handrail couldn't be loosened by hand or by tools, the astronauts just yanked the thing off by brute force.

Careful, don't puncture that suit.

Launched in 1990, the Hubble needed to be repaired in space a first time to correct a defect that gave it blurry vision. After that, the famed telescope has been sending back glorious images of stars and galaxies that had never been seen before or with this clarity.

Because of the curious relationship between the speed of light and the unimaginable vastness of space, the farther away the Hubble peers, the farther back in time it can see. Scientists are giddy with the prospect of seeing back to near the beginning of the universe.

First Hubble saw the "Pillars of Creation".
Next was the "Crown of Thorns"After that? I wonder if they won't see God Himself waving at them. Hello. I've been waiting for you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bumper Sticker Of The Day

Seen on a dump truck:
Most accidents can be avoided
Forget the alibi

Notre Shame

This is the obligatory post about the Notre Dame scandal honoring Obama with a degree. My thoughts:
  1. It's a shameful display of disobedience reflecting badly on Notre Dame
  2. Everybody knows it
  3. Everything else is just words, words, words
  4. It's not about politics, but about religion
  5. It's nobody's business but the Catholics
For more and better reading, start with Man With Black Hat.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival #5

This week's Sunday Snippets at WBN asks:

  1. Should the government get to dictate your health care if you're a heretic or a loon?
  2. Why is Hillary Clinton suddenly turned cheerleader for people of conscience?


Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Whose Kids Are They?

Here is a strange case of a 13 year old teenager, Daniel Hauser, from Minnesota who has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. His parents have opted not to treat him with chemotherapy, but rather with "alternative" medicines and nutritional supplements. Child protection workers accused Daniel's parents of medical neglect and a judge in Minnesota has ruled that the parents MUST seek conventional treatment for their ailing son.

The story ought to stop here, if only to protest the intrusive nature of this government action. Since when does the government have the right to direct parents of children to take a particular course of medical action? Especially if it's expensive, painful, and with serious side effects? What if that course is morally objectionable? Are children wards of the State and parents only incidental caretakers, whose wishes, conscience, or religion may be discarded at the State's whim?
[Washington Times] "I feel it's a blow to families," [the lawyer] said. "It marginalizes the decisions that parents face every day in regard to their children's medical care. It really affirms the role that big government is better at making our decisions for us."
Now, the story ought to stop here, but it doesn't -- and it only gets weirder. So what about the parents' rights to raise their children as they see fit? What about religious rights -- aren't these worth protecting as well?
Daniel's parents have been supporting what they say is their son's decision to treat the disease with nutritional supplements and other alternative treatments favored by the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians. She also testified that Daniel is a medicine man and elder in the Nemenhah Band.
I don't agree with his parents' decision to seek to cure lymphoma this way, but I do support their right to be wrong. Morally, I think this is disastrous; somebody who is not the State needs to smack some sense into them. Legally, I think they are within their rights.

Now here is the fly in the ointment and the point where I get off the train:
The Hausers have eight children. Mrs. Hauser told the New Ulm Journal newspaper that the family's Catholicism and adherence to the Nemenhah Band are not in conflict, and that she has used natural remedies to treat illnesses.
Ok, in one fell swoop the Hausers just made Catholics, people with large families, and seekers of natural remedies look like crazy whack jobs all lumped together. Oh, and the part where Mrs. Hauser said her son is not in any medical danger -- yeah, that part does make you crazy.

Seeking natural remedies to treat illnesses isn't a bad thing by itself. Even using traditional American Indian remedies isn't a bad thing by itself. Endangering your children IS a bad thing at all times. Saying that belonging to another religion, say, by being a medicine man and elder in the Nemenhah Band is, in fact, in conflict with the Catholic religion. The Nemenhah Band is "an Educational Auxiliary of The Oklevueha Native American Church of Sanpete" and membership is by spiritual adoption only.
"Membership is only by Spiritual Adoption. It is also the only way the Nemenhah Seminary can accept you into the program and designate you a Medicine Man or Medicine Woman."
The effort to blend Catholicism and the Nemenhah Band is called syncretism and it is a type of heresy.
The effort to unite different doctrines and practices, especially in religion. Syncretism is also applied to [...] the attempts made of combining the best elements of different theological schools.
It's syncretism when Tony Blair does it, it's syncretism when Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo does it, and it's syncretism when Colleen Hauser does it along with her impressionable 13 year old son Daniel.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Oh Yeah

Family confession + pizza + ice cream = all right!

'Nuff said.

What did you do with your Saturday?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Left Hanging

That title has all kinds of unintended connotations doesn't it?

Nancy Pelosi has a serious case of foot-in-mouth disease over her latest kerfuffle. (And yes, I just wanted to use the word kerfuffle like everybody else.)
[Politico] Rebuffed by the Democratic head of the CIA and left hanging by a Democratic White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backpedaled Friday on her claims that the CIA lied to her about water-boarding.
Looks like she may have over-reached this time. Oops. Jackals will eat their own when there's no more prey left.

Palin's First 100 Days

A slick little piece of parody over at VDH's Private Papers is President Palin's First 100 Days. (h/t Subvet). Give it a read -- nobody likes a perpetual glum face, so you might as well laugh.

This one's my favorite:
A “dragon lady in heels” is what President Palin is, according to the NYT’s Frank Rich. “Don’t fall for this pageant nice-girl stuff. Our former beauty queen is a ward hack. Look at her nominations. Can’t Palin find anyone who has paid his taxes — or do they simply ignore that stuff in no-tax Alaska? Does ‘No more lobbyists’ mean ‘More lobbyists than ever’? Her chief performance overseer doesn’t perform too well herself — and, like Daschle, Geithner, and the rest, skips out on her taxes. When Palin brags about fiscal sobriety, it really means record deficits. In Sarahland, not wanting to take over banks and car companies translates into, ‘She already has.’ Highest ethical standards equates to ‘There are none.’ Calling herself the VA president means she’s just told vets to use their own health insurance.”

Carry On: The Irony Is Thick

Matthew over at Creative Minority Report tips us off that for the first time since 1995 more Americans describe themselves as "pro-life" vs. "pro-choice" (51% -42%) according to a Gallup poll. While it's still up in the air what the exact definition of "pro-life" means in the context of this poll, it's still an encouraging trend. Matthew concludes:
So don't stop talking about it, blogging about it, and trying to convince people. We're winning. It's going to be a long battle. But one we must win.
Now contrast that with this little bit of cheerleading from the unlikeliest of sources ... Hillary Clinton.
NEW YORK (AP) - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged college graduates on Wednesday to resist the temptation to disengage from world affairs, saying to do so would "cede the field to those whose ideologies are absolutely anathema to people of conscience and faith all over the world."
The irony is thick. This is the same woman who lavished praise on racist and eugenicist Margaret Sanger for giving birth to what became Planned Parenthood (pun intended), and who is helping to export abortion as the primary tool of our foreign policy in the world.

These are words that can and should be turned around and used against those who would wipe out what's left of the foundations of our society. So for once I'll agree with Hillary. We should not "cede the field" to those ideologies that are "anathema to people of conscience and faith".

Somebody just needs to instruct her what those ideologies actually are.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Curds And Whey

What can match the tasty goodness of a truly good beer? Could it be cheese?

Life is definitely better with cheese. Only the lactose intolerant would say otherwise, and we wouldn't want to be intolerant would we?

The old nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet features a girl eating curds and whey. What the heck are curds and whey anyhow? If you've ever seen cottage cheese, those are curds; the juice is whey.
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.
Here is a picture of Mozzarella curds and whey from Apparently, you can make your own Mozzarella cheese in about 30 minutes with cold milk and a little citric acid. Could this be the new food obsession?

Most other cheeses are made on the order of weeks, months, or even years. I'm not sure we have the patience for that. Wegmans, here I come.

Run Over By The Healthcare Train

Today the AP reported that Nancy Pelosi of Dems & PelosiCo(tm) promised to bring a health care reform bill to the floor by August.
President Barack Obama went on TV for a third straight day to push for passage of health care legislation he hopes will extend coverage to 50 million uninsured people. Standing at his side at the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi renewed a promise to bring legislation to the House floor by August.

"We've got to get it done this year," Obama said. "We don't have any excuses; the stars are aligned."

The developments underscored a quickening drive toward health care overhaul legislation in Congress.

Obama has asked the health insurers, doctors, hospitals and others who brought the much-ballyhooed — but vague — $2 trillion cost-saving idea to the White House earlier this week to produce specifics by June 1.
Once again the political Babelfish gets to translate: WOO-WOO! You hear that sound? That's a train a-comin'! You 'bout to get railroaded!!

What's the rush? Obama and Pelosi both know that people are starting to suffer from bail-out fatigue. The desire to overhaul everything in sight while racking up mind-numbing deficits is starting to wear on the American psyche. People simply cannot sustain a heightened sense of urgency over a long period of time; their emotions simply give way.

Americans should be extremely wary of anything of that scale that "must" be done "right now". Things that are rushed to be done are usually things that are done badly or shouldn't have been done at all. As much as everyone likes to gripe and complain about Congress being a model of inefficiency, there's a very good democratic principle involved in letting it be so. Debate is healthy, so that all sides get aired. Checks and balances are good for democracies; no one party or person should be able to ride roughshod over the other -- that's how despotism starts.

Caps Hockey Season Screeches To A Halt

It was one of the most heralded games of the 2009 NHL playoffs: Game 7 of the Washington Capitals vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins, featuring the battle of the superstars, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. It's an endurance game and the best team wins.

Game 7 was full of drama: Gonchar played, Varlamov got benched, both superstars scored goals. But in the end, it wasn't even close. Pittsburgh put the smackdown on the resurgent Capitals, winning by a decisive 6-2.

The Captials will be full of recriminations, explanations, self-searching. Lots of words will get said, but in the end there's only one word for it: choke.

Don't worry guys, I'll be back next year with jersey on.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hamlet Flosses

Because I appreciate Amy Walker's sense of humor.

With Days Like These...

Some days you can see it coming:
  • Monday: breathe fire and brimstone at post-weekend kids
  • Tuesday: attempt to pass 4th and 2nd grade homework simultaneously
  • Wednesday: take wife out to dinner
  • Thursday: cram as much as possible into workday
  • Friday: fall asleep on couch
  • Saturday: take family to Confession to "start over"
  • Sunday: enjoy Lord's Day

Capitals Tie Series

There will be a Game 7!

In a dramatic overtime period, the Washington Capitals have tied the NHL conference semifinals with the Pittsburgh Penguins. With the exception of Game 4, the games have been tight. Game 6 has been the highest scoring game in the Caps-Pens semifinals.

National Hockey League's biggest stars will face off one more time at Washington's Verizon Center on Wednesday to see who will be one of the final four teams to go to the Conference Finals. Will it be Ovie or Crosby? 

On one hand, it won't matter because this is some of the most exciting playoff hockey you'll ever see; this is the match-up that everyone wanted to see; THIS is our Stanley Cup playoff.  

On the other hand, LET'S GO CAPS!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival #4

This week's Sunday Snippet at WBN: People Are Amazing and Preacher, Preacher.


Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Preacher, Preacher

Today we had a traveling guest preacher at Mass.

He crept out from behind the sacristy, hunched and plodding. Laboriously, he used the altar to steady himself as he genuflected towards the tabernacle. I felt a pang of pity for him as he carefully mounted the step to the lectern, took a deep breath ... and proceeded to dance and shout like a carnival barker.

His hands shot heavenward, he waved and gyrated, his voice swelled and fell like 15 foot ocean waves. This guy was amazing. For a moment I wondered if I was in a Catholic church; with amusement I thought this might be tame in some Protestant churches.

He was very engaging and passionate; he was offering an invitation. Just what was he inviting us to, what was the great pitch? Money? Missions? Service?

Nope. He invited us to spend one hour in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament here at our own eucharistic chapel. Said it would change our lives, give us joy, and draw us close to God.

Know what? I believe him.

Nod-girl Sacked Out

Nod-girl tried so hard to have a good time with her siblings, cousins, and family members at the Mother's Day brunch. She soldiered on bravely most of the day, in between doses of Tylenol and Ibuprofen.

But the ear infection finally got the best of her. When you give a kid ice cream and they just can't enjoy it ... yeah, that's bad. We gave her one more dose of medicine and she took herself off to bed while it was still daylight and just sacked out.

Poor girl.

Rain Mothers Happy Mothers

In the grand tradition of our family, I'd like to wish everyone "Rain Mothers Happy Mothers or shine all the time day!".

That's what the plastic plate my brother made in 4th grade said for Mother's Day when we were growing up. Half of it was blue and half was yellow and there was a big black line drawn down the center; the words were hand written and the plate was colored in with pictures using some kind of magic shrinky-dink technology.

Everyone who looked at it read it the same way -- the blue side read: Rain Mothers Happy Mothers; the yellow side read: or shine all the time day! The way it was drawn made you read one side then the other. Once it was explained that we were supposed to read across normally, we got a good laugh out of it.

To this day, it's our favorite Mother's Day greeting.

Rainor shine
Mothersall the time
Happy Mother'sDay!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

People Are Amazing

Sit down and buy someone a drink, make appropriate interested noises, and within 20 minutes you have their life story. People want to talk; people want to be heard and understood.

Amazing really; truly fascinating -- what we really find the most engaging is ... ourselves. We're built to share, to communicate. It takes some damage to knock that out of someone, whether by violence, neglect, or betrayal. Sad, that.

In the beginning it was not so.
The LORD God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him." Gen 2:18
Adam said,
This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called 'woman,' for out of 'her man' this one has been taken." Gen 2:23

Note To Self

If you had the opportunity to put RFID chips on your kids, would you? Maybe straight up GPS would be better.

Kids are fast; blink and they're gone.

Me, I still think duct tape can solve most problems. ;-)

Homebrew Plus Two Weeks

Making beer is an ancient and time-honored art; beer provides sustenance for the fast and pleasure for the palette. Me and the Homebrews is a chronicle of a bunch of guys following in the footsteps of the great Abbey Monks and their brews. In their honor, we domestic monks chose a Belgian style Dubbel Ale; this potent brew weighs in at 8% ABV.


At exactly 2 weeks post-brew, the Homebrew Dubbel specific gravity stands at 1.012 which is on pace to peak at an 8.5% ABV -- a perfect Dubbel. Right now it tastes like a watery beer that has been watered a second time. Not tasty, but lots better than raw wort. It gives a hint what the final product will taste like.

4 weeks to go.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Errands and Nodlings

Sometimes you just gotta make the best use of the time that is given to you.

Nod-girl and I got to spend a little quality father-daughter time together because she needed to be picked up from Daisies, groceries needed to be bought at Costco, and I was working a quarter mile from the school.

She gave a little squeal of joy when she saw me pull up to get her instead of her mom. "Daddy!" I would have done a lap around the parking lot and pulled up again, if I thought I could get the same reaction twice.

I decided that we should grab a slice of pizza together and buy the supplies for our upcoming Mother's Day brunch. She had a grand time skipping around the store while I filled the basket. It was all stuff that just needed to be done, but when you've got 5 nodlings and a limited amount of free time, any one-on-one time can be that "special" time together.

Color Me Green

I visited a site this week that had just constructed its first "green" building, which is to say: eco-friendly. There were lots of interesting factoids about the building from the "green" carpet glue (which didn't work), to the flywheel driven UPS devices in the data center, to the heat reclamation design.

What I found most hilarious was the "green" bathrooms. They actually have signs over the toilets instructing you to pull up for #1 (liquids) and down for #2 (solid waste). In other words, in order to be green, it's up for yellow and down for brown.

Now if I just had a Crayola box, I'd have fit right in.

Monday, May 4, 2009

That's Some Potent Whiskey

[Telegraph via Slashdot] "Industry experts claim the market for vintage whiskey has been flooded with fakes that purport to be several hundred years old but instead contain worthless spirit made just a few years ago. Now researchers at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit have developed a method that can pinpoint the date a whiskey was made by detecting traces of radioactive particles created by nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s. '

"It is easy to tell if whiskey is fake as if it has been produced since the middle of the twentieth century, it has a very distinctive signature," says Dr. Tom Higham, deputy director of the facility. Nuclear bomb testing in the 1950s saw levels of carbon-14 in the atmosphere rise around the world so the amount of isotope absorbed by living organisms since this time has been artificially elevated.
Gives a whole new meaning to the idea of the whiskey "bloom", doesn't it?

Born Of Hope: Trailer

Similar to the people who brought you the excellently executed fan film The Hunt For Gollum, now witness the story of the Dunadain, featuring the father and mother of Aragorn, in Born of Hope.

From the looks of the trailer, this may be an even better story than the Hunt For Gollum. It is certainly more ambitious -- a full hour vs. 40 minutes, and an original story inspired by two paragraphs in Tolkein's footnotes.


A scattered people, the descendents of storied sea kings of the ancient West, struggle to survive in a lonely wilderness as a dark force relentlessly bends its will toward their destruction. Yet amidst these valiant, desperate people, hope remains. A royal house endures unbroken from father to son.

Beth Aynsley as Gilraen & Christopher Dane as Arathorn, the mother and father of Aragorn

This hour long original drama is set in the time before the War of the Ring and tells the story of the Dúnedain, the Rangers of the North, before the return of the King. Inspired by only a couple of paragraphs written by Tolkien in the appendices of the Lord of the Rings we follow Arathorn and Gilraen, the parents of Aragorn, from their first meeting through a turbulent time in their people's history.

UPDATE: TwelveMile writes: Thanks for posting, but I'd like to clear up something: Born of Hope is not created by the same folks who did The Hunt for Gollum, even though some team members worked on both films. Born of Hope has a different director, writer and producer.

Thanks TwelveMile.

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival #3

This week's Sunday Snippet at WBN features a Blynken First Communion. (What else?)


Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Blynken Makes First Holy Communion

The day was beautiful, the rain held off until Sunday. All the smartly dressed boys in their Sunday best suits filed by, paired with little girls in their dresses of brightest white.

Two by two they came, like the rescued animals from Noah's Ark, to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. In a way, you could say it was a Eucharistic procession.

My girl Blynken made her first Holy Communion on Saturday. Isn't she stunning? Her Aunt K*Lo did a fabulous job with her hair; the veil was interwoven so it wouldn't come out under any circumstances. Blynken was so enamored with her hair that she wanted to sleep in it (along with 4,000 bobby pins) and cried when we had to take it down.

In a venerable tradition (started by Mrs. Nod just now), she wore her mother's Confirmation cross around her neck, a Eucharistic pin on her dress, little white gloves to her wrists, and a beaming smile upon her face.

What a blessing to know our Lord in this intimate way: body, blood, soul, and divinity. Blynken wore her dress again to Sunday Mass and it was awesome to see Father look her in the eyes and give her that tiny little bit of extra attention and reverence in recieving the Eucharist.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Swine Flu

It's out there and spreading; they say there's no way to stop it going pandemic.

The stupidest thing is how they're trying to re-brand the disease from "swine flu" to 2009 A(H1N1). This is some politically correct nonsense to bail out the pork industry because people are too ignorant to figure out you can't get the flu from eating pork.

Someone tried to tell me it's not swine flu once a human gets it -- it's human flu. Duh, it's called swine flu because its genetic markers are predominantly from swine: initial reports pegged it at 4 parts swine, 1 part human, 1 part avian. Oh, and it originated in Mexico, hence Mexican swine flu. Some people are smart enough to disassociate the disease with Mexicans and pork. Others are more worried about a disease's PR.

Vice President Biden recently made some ill-considered remarks advising people not to get on planes and metros and other confined places (which was immediately retracted).

I know they're trying not to spark a panic and mass hysteria over this, but you gotta ask yourself: Crazy Joe talking or does the Veep know something?

Primary Fermentation

The Homebrews' Belgian Dubbel is now Brew+1 week; most of the active foaming and out-gassing has settled down. Primary fermentation will be complete at Brew+2 weeks, maybe less.

Right now it has the color of peanut butter, a kind of murky light brown color. Not too appetizing yet, but we still have the secondary fermentation stage to go; I don't expect the color to change much, but I do think it will clarify a bit.

The beer needs a good name like all good homebrew. Suggestions in the combox, please.


Tomorrow is Blynken's big day: her First Communion.

Aunt K*Lo is sleeping over so she can do Blynken's hair tomorrow (these girls go all out!). Don't tell the environmental police, but we accidentally left the veil steaming for 45 minutes by running the shower in the bathroom. Oops. Our bad. That water bill is gonna hurt.

Me, I got the burgers and dogs ready to go with a side of taquitos, fruits and vegetables, shrimp ring, and white cake. Camera is charged, prayers have been said, confessions have been made. What's not to like?

Chance of rain tommorrow which may be the only downside. Here's hoping.


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