Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #11

WBN presents this week's Sunday Snippets: A Family Affair.

It's been a relatively low-key week; although the world raged around us, we've been focused within.

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

Kids say the darndest things.
Nod-girl: Dad, do you remember when you almost got your car towed? I was afraid you were going to lose your children, and they would be lost.
Huh? Wuzzat? [shrug]

Friday, June 26, 2009

Brother, Can You Spare A Clue?

Walking in DC for the last several days, as I pass by McPherson Square, I see strange sights.

It started out pretty normally, just traffic cops directing traffic -- although there isn't a thing wrong with the traffic lights.

The next time I pass by there is an addition snaking around all four sides of the square: some kind of multi-colored bundle of cables. Maybe they are re-timing the lights ... take a picture with the camera phone, think about it later.

Next day I pass by and the cables are still there, but now there's also some kind of mobile crane. I've seen VDOT use these before to fix the traffic lights; yeah, they're fixing the lights, that must be it. I'm so smart ...

Coming back again, I see they've added a new mobile crane. Wait, is that a spotlight on top of the crane? You don't use spotlights for traffic; something's screwy here. Rushing off ...

A-ha! Now I remember where I've seen those lights: in the theater. You have lecos and frenels; shouldn't there be colored gels with that? Oh, yes here they are: gels.

Wait, if these are theater gels, there must be some kind of show about to happen. It's large and outside, it's in the Square. Didn't I hear something about filming going on near the Key Bridge? I wonder ... yes! Lookee here on that unit!

But this isn't the Key Bridge, this is McPherson Square. But the lights aren't pointed into the Square they are pointing out. So what is worth filming that is at the other end of the Square? Uh, oh yeah -- that.

Still haven't found out what movie it's going to be, but it's been fun to think about for five minutes a day. It is unfolding like a serial mystery. Watson, a clue!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Scanning Headlines

Sometimes you can get a better story by just reading the headlines.

Case in point:
Death or taxes: your choice.

A Time To Die

Today's headlines are just chock full of sad news. Cultural icons Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcette have both died.

Michael Jackson was pronounced dead at 3:15 pm today in Los Angeles, CA. Emergency workers found the singer/dancer in full cardiac arrest at a rented home where he was practicing for another career comeback. If ever there were an unhappy child, Michael is probably the poster boy for that. Jackson was 50 years old. Let us hope that the "King of Pop" made his peace with the King of the Ages before he went.

Meanwhile, Farrah Fawcette, actress and 70's sex symbol has lost her battle with cancer, dying at the age of 62. A Roman Catholic, Farrah was given Last Rites shortly before her death. We pray that this Charlie's Angel will be rejoicing with the angels in Heaven.

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, 20 will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him. Hebrews 9:27-28

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Schadenfreude In Sanford Affair

South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford, admitted to having a year long affair with an Argentine woman, despite being married with four children.

The Governor's week long disappearance was originally attributed by staffers as "hiking the Appalachian Trail" to clear his head after losing the fight to oppose taking Federal stimulus funds. His wife said she didn't know where he was, however. Turns out, she knew about it for the last 5 months and they were effectively separated.

This makes Sanford a grade-A, number one Yahoo with oatmeal for brains. Not only was the State left without governance, but also --and most importantly -- HE HAD FOUR KIDS. You don't DO that to kids; screwing up your own life is one thing, screwing up theirs is unconscionable. Oh, yeah, and now he'll never be President: big deal.

So now he's being lambasted in the media, and rightly so. However, after the surging waves of our indignation have passed, it is worth pointing out the shallowness of his opposition.
[Washington Post] State Sen. John C. Land III (D), South Carolina's longest-serving lawmaker, said Sanford "is done politically," because in the past he has been "holier than thou."
Note the phrase. Sanford is "done" politically, not because he made a mistake, not because he got caught, not because he left the State ungoverned, not because his judgement is suspect, but because he was "holier than thou". That's called envy -- or at least schadenfreude: taking delight in the misfortunes of others.

Sen. Land is taking delight in his rival's destruction; perhaps more to the point, in the destruction of what Sanford stands for: family, religion, fiscal austerity, moral authority. Yes, Sanford has done a good job of discrediting himself, but others should not revel in it.

I asked why there seemed to be a disproportionate number of Republican politicos in recent times with fidelity issues. The response was that the numbers were probably equal, but that there was a disproportionate reporting on Republicans vs. Democrats. For better or worse, Republican social conservatives have positioned themselves as the party of traditional morality and ethics. The liberal wing of the Democrats eschew traditional morality, but they are the first to yell "hypocrite" and rub social conservatives' noses in it when they stumble.

So if you have moral standards in political life, you'll be skewered with them if you fail to live up to them even once, but if you profess none, then all things are tolerated?


The Americans just handed undefeated Spain their heads in the only sport that has global currency: futbol -- or soccer to you and me.
BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa — The United States stunned top-ranked Spain 2-0 Thursday night on goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, advancing to the Confederations Cup final with one of the Americans' biggest soccer victories.

Now they will play defending champion Brazil or host South Africa on Sunday in its first-ever men's final at a FIFA competition.
In international circles, this is huge. Americans generally suck at soccer on the world stage. And since Spain hadn't been defeated in 35 straight matches, our chances were pretty slim. A 2-0 shutout is pretty definitive in competitive soccer.

Lucky? Maybe. Time will tell. In the meantime, it doesn't hurt to gloat just a tiny bit.


Doin' A Jig

A jigsaw puzzle that is.

Wynken, Mrs. Nod, and I spent a quiet evening putting together a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

Blynken and Nod-girl are having a sleepover at Outpost 2, and Nub and Nib were early to bed. It was almost like vacation.

No, we didn't finish, and no I don't care. I just like to do them from time to time without a lot of fuss.

"Remember when we were single? We did jigsaw puzzles together." I asked Mrs. Nod. And then I laughed because I realized that by "single" I meant when we were married but didn't have any children yet.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kodachrome Goodbye

Man, I just learned on the same day that Ed McMahon died and Kodak is discontinuing its iconic Kodachrome film.

All good things must come to an end, I suppose.

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's a farewell song.

Yogi Is Coming

I feel it in my bones: the coming.

Or, I just looked on the calendar. The annual trip to Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park. A family fun recreational center that won't break the bank.

Not too far away, but just enough. A little like camping, a little like a resort. Mini golf, pools, log cabins, green spaces, happy faces.

Dinosaur bones, ice cream cones; camp fires and tall tales. Yeah, that's us.

Smaller Government Means More Walking

I refuse to complain greatly; maybe a little grumble, but then I realized that in a way, I asked for it.

I'm no big fan of tax and spend government, whether Federal or State. So when I learned that they are eliminating my leg of the bus line that takes me to the Metro, I felt ... inconvenienced.

Sure, I'll have to drive in farther in order to grab a bus or a train, but I'd rather have that than a bunch of new taxes to keep me in the style to which I've become accustomed. It's inconvenient, not earth-shattering.

Everyone and every local government is feeling the pinch from the recession; fortunately our local county government chose to cut back on some services than bleed us dry -- the same thing you and I are doing in our families to get by in lean times.

Whaddaya know? The theory works.

Red Line Metro Pile Up Kills 9

By now you've heard of it: the deadliest Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) accident ever.

A head-on ramming of one Red Line train into the back of another has killed 9 people and sent 70 more to the hospital in varying levels of injury. The accident happened near the Fort Totten station.

[Miami Herald] Jeter said the trains run in automatic mode during rush hour, and have sensors that should keep them from getting closer than 1,200 feet from each other.

Investigators, who are still in the early stages of their inquiry, said Tuesday that the operator of the striking train, who died in the crash, likely applied the emergency brake, but they cautioned against drawing early conclusions on what caused the crash. Also under scrutiny are the train's signaling system and potential human error.

Passengers on the striking train said it stopped momentarily before the Fort Totten station in Northeast Washington. Then, the train began to move forward at a moderate speed on a curved track before plowing into a stopped train. Several passengers said they didn't feel any braking.

A shade of color saved my life. I ride Metro every day into the city and back again, but on the Orange Line, not Red. Washington, DC has the second largest subway system in the United States; it is also decently clean and safe.

Riding the Metro is one of the dullest, safest experiences you could have. Some of the platforms near the escalators are unnervingly narrow, but the train itself is Dulls-ville Central. So to have a catastrophic accident like this is truly shocking. Our hearts and prayers are with our fellow Washingtonians and their grieving families.

Do you know what happened today? Nothing; everybody got back on the train and went to work.

Sure, everybody avoided the front car today, but by next week even that precaution will be forgotten. Metro took extra long to get anywhere today, but that's because everybody was being extra, extra cautious.

I can't decide whether I prefer that the train was in "automatic mode" or "manual mode". I've seen the automatic mode (normal for rush hour) in action with the driver hanging out the window. Amazing bit of technology. 99% of the time, that is.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day: Rearview Mirror

So today was Father's Day; it's all over now.

Looking back, it was pretty good. Nothing too earth shattering (but that's what we like about it). Mrs. Nod let me putter about the house at my own pace, while she did all the hard stuff. (Hey, hon, you're my favorite!)

We went to Mass and got to take up the gifts; that was nifty. The toddlers behaved well, so Wynken and Blynken got to hold the bread and wine, while we lined up behind them with Nod-girl and Nib and Nub; our own domestic mini-church. They executed flawlessly, Father blessed us and told the kids what a good job they did. We all bowed and returned to our seats. Easy pie. I was so proud.

After that, I mowed the lawn (normally I would have refrained on Sunday, but it's been raining non-stop for more than a week), played frisbee with the kids, drank beer, ate ribs, cheescake, and ice cream.

Fat, dumb, happy. Sigh. Happy Father's Day.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #10

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents From the Church to the World: Three vignettes that are at once personal and universal.

One of these even earns the infamous Blynken Raspberry award.


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.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Drink Up, Fathead

Most of the time I try to be charitable. Occasionally people will benefit more from a smack upside the head.

I just witnessed some underage punk trying to buy alcohol with a fake ID at the local Safeway. The night manager laughed in his face and sent him away. "That's not you." He was full of mock indignation.

Pretty boy meandered out into the parking lot where a car full of teenagers, boys and girls, waited. After discussing it with his cohorts, I saw him pay a guy in the parking lot to go buy their beer for them.

This is exactly the kind of stupidity that will get somebody killed. The saddest part is that it will probably be an innocent motorist that these drunken louts crash into. My grandparents were killed by a pair of teenage joyriders, so I know from personal experience that this can, and does, happen.

Teens' in particular and even young twenty-somethings' brains are not yet fully mature. They really don't see consequences; or if they do, it's somehow remote, unbelievable. All young people think they are going to live forever.

If I'd been a little more energetic, I should have returned to the store and foiled their plot. As it was, I wanted to be as far away from them as I could get.

Word to the wise, Moms and Dads: if you love your teens, don't let them stay out late cruising. Nothing good can come from a bunch of teens late at night. Yeah, it won't make them popular, but it will keep them alive.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

IG Fired By Obama RAT Board

Remember waaaaaay back to February? That was when we were talking about hidden provisions in the Porkulus economic stimulus package?

(Newser) – Hidden away in the $787 billion stimulus bill is a lousy provision that threatens to inject politics into the jobs of supposedly independent government watchdogs, writes Byron York of the Washington Examiner. The bill creates something called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board—the RAT board to the few who know of it. From now on, inspectors general—investigators who check into wrongdoing at federal agencies—must clear their inquiries with the board.

"The language means that the board—whose chairman will be appointed by the president—can reach deep inside a federal agency and tell an inspector general to lay off some particularly sensitive subject," writes York. "Or, conversely, it can tell the inspector general to go after a tempting political target." It's not clear yet who snuck it in, but signs point to the Obama administration, not Congress.
It sure didn't take long to exercise that little provision, now did it? Inspector Generals are not supposed to be able to be fired without 30 days notice to prevent political tampering. Looks like we got ourselves a smoking gun here.

[Judicial Watch] A government inspector general who has exposed widespread waste in taxpayer-financed community service groups has been fired by Barack Obama after finding that one of the president’s political supporters, a California mayor, misused federal funds.

In violation of a law established to keep the watchdogs independent and free of political pressure or interference, Obama has refused to explain why he got rid of the inspector general charged with investigating the government’s so-called national service programs.

[FoxNews] [Gerald ]Walpin concluded that his firing stems from bad blood between him and the board, as well as with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson -- an Obama supporter whom he had investigated for alleged misuse of federal funds.

Apostolic Signatura Prefect Fisks Notre Dame

More about Notre Dame's shame, this time from the Vatican.

Because the issue should outlive the event. It was never about the person speaking, but about the Catholic identity and fidelity of the teaching institution of America's pre-eminent University.

Archbishop Raymond Burke delivers the smackdown:

( – The University of Notre Dame betrayed its Catholic identity by inviting President Barack Obama to give the commencement speech and receive an honorary degree from the school in May, said Archbishop Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest court at the Vatican.

“We all have witnessed the compromise and, indeed, betrayal of the Catholic identity of Notre Dame University,” said Burke in Rome, during a recent interview with Australian ITV reporter Andrew Rabel. “Thoughtful Catholics cannot help but reflect upon the great danger for a Catholic institution in pursuing a kind of prestige in the secular world, which leads to a betrayal of the sacred aspect of its work, namely the fidelity to Christ and His teaching.”
Read the rest of the article.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Midnight Theology

Overheard in the land of midnight theology:
"Thomas Aquinas is one of the only people to correct St. Augustine and not get branded a heretic."

Top Liturgist Post Goes To American

WBN close associate Q informs us that the new Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship will be an American.

"This is huge. An American as the head of that Congregation. Our Sacramentary and Lectionary will come much faster now. Archbishop-elect Di Noia is a fantastic liturgist and one of the brightest that the [Dominican] House of Studies put forth. He also has no patience for American arrogance or interpretation. He will be excellent – depending on your view of liturgy of course."

Pope Benedict Appoints American Priest To Oversee Liturgy

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2009 (CNA).- This morning, the Vatican announced a significant change by Pope Benedict at the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, the body charged with overseeing the liturgy. The American priest, Fr. Agustine Di Noia O.P., was appointed by the Pope to be the secretary of the Congregation and raised to the level of archbishop.

Pope Benedict's appointment of a native English speaker will prove to be valuable as the Congregation prepares to approve and introduce a new English translation of the Roman Missal.

Archbishop-elect Di Noia will be working under Cardinal Antonio CaƱizares Llovera, who was appointed by Pope Benedict last December.

Prior to his new appointment, the Dominican priest worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he served under the future Pope Benedict XVI from 2002-2005.

The archbishop-elect was born in New York City in 1943 and ordained a priest in 1970. He received his licentiate in theology at the Dominican House of Studies, and holds a doctorate in philosophy from Yale University.

As part of being assigned to his new post, Archbishop-elect Di Noia will be given the titular see of Oregon City, Ore.

The current secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith, has been appointed by the Holy Father to be the Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Homebrew Debut: Domestic Monk Dubbel

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.


We finally got to taste our homebrew. It was awesome!

The Domestic Monk Dubbel had a final ABV of 7.2% which is a few points shy of the target 8% ABV. The beer is a beautiful light brown, albeit cloudy due to a lack of siphoning to a secondary fermentation carboy.

The taste is a faintly sweet malt with a bitter hoppy finish on the palette. Good aroma and nose. Decent legs althought the body was thinner than expected. The Homebrews speculate the thinner body could be ameliorated by improved aeration of the wort using a diffusion stone.

Being an Ale, the flavors were noticably improved when the beer was allowed to warm in the glass. I'll post pictures when I get a chance.

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

Heartless Couple Of Down Syndrome Baby Sue Doctor

Oregon is a strange place; being the home of assisted suicide, it's not a far stretch to see how they got here.
[W]ithin days of the birth of their daughter, Deborah and Ariel Levy learned the baby did have Down syndrome. Had they known, they say, they would have terminated the pregnancy. Now they're suing in Multnomah County Circuit Court, seeking more than $14 million to cover the costs of raising her and providing education, medical care, and speech and physical therapy for their daughter, who turned 2 this month. The suit also seeks money to cover her life-long living expenses.

The Levys declined to be interviewed. Their attorney, David K. Miller, said the toddler is as dear to them as their two older children but they fear being perceived as "heartless."
News flash -- you are heartless. Anyone who can say: "we love our little darling, but we'd have killed her if we'd known" is by definition a selfish, heartless person.

If you'd like a little heartless, how about considering that a) no medical test is ever 100% reliable and you have no expectation of such; you could have gotten a second opinion -- later tests indicated positive; and b) the genetic defect that resulted in your daughter's condition came from you -- maybe you should be sued for causing it.

I'd like to sue you for impersonating people with consciences.

Now for the record: my son (Nub) has Down Syndrome; my other four children don't. I never, never, ever, for one moment blamed anyone else for that happening. Not once. Maybe a little "why me?", but no blame of God, me, her -- or the doctor for crying out loud!

Doctors aren't omniscient. Tests are not always conclusive. Life. Just. Isn't. Fair. Get used to it, and quit looking for a handout.

WBN Endorses Paul, Just This Guy, You Know? For Illinois District 62

Anyone who has been paying attention for the last generation or so knows that it isn't the economic issues that are most important, it's the social.

Our traditional values have been under attack from radical social forces who are determined to tinker with the bedrock of our society. These values are traditional, not because they are quaint, and not because they are deeply held personal beliefs, they are traditional because they work.

Mothers and fathers raising children in nuclear or extended families; valuing life from the moment of conception until natural death; freedom tempered with individual responsibility; God, Country, Family -- these are things that make us strong as a country and moral pillars as individuals. Personal responsibility means that you have to step up when it is your turn.

Therefore, WBN enthusiastically endorses Paul Mitchell for the Illinois General Assembly, 62nd district, in the February, 2010 primary. Paul is a true social conservative who can be counted on to represent the interests of the people of the 62nd district -- and by safeguarding our values there, safeguarding them for us in the neighboring states.

Paul writes:
It doesn't matter where you live. Liberal laws in one state, we have learned, affect other states. So do conservative laws.

I need a jump start. Please contribute. And if you have a blog, website, or twitter account, please link to my campaign website,, and endorse me on your blog.

for Illinois General Assembly, District 62
Paul also writes regularly on Thoughts of a Regular Guy -- he is a guy we know. Let's help him out peeps!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Overheard In My House

Our girls are much too young to have pierced ears, but they love to play dress up. Blynken was explaining the way in which her magnetic earrings work:
"Sometimes your ears are like force fields."
Cracks me up!

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #9

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents for your blogging pleasure: Mysteries and Miracles

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.

Corpus Christi: Not For Dogs

Today marks the feast of Corpus Christi: the Body and Blood of Christ.

One of the cool liturgical things we get to do on a major feast is to sing or chant a Sequence prior to the Alleluia and Gospel. In Medieval times sequences were abundant; in modern times it has been pared down to about four times a year.

Some of the best sequences were written about the Eucharist by Thomas Aquinas. (Hey, anything by Aquinas is deep!) This line from the Lauda Sion jumped out at me at Mass.
Hail, angelic Bread of Heaven,
Now the pilgrim’s hoping-leaven,
Yea, the Bread to children given
That to dogs must not be thrown
How right. Let us approach our Eucharistic Lord with humility and a clean heart. Lord we believe, help our unbelief!
Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food:
But with ends how opposite!
Here 't is life: and there 't is death:
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.

Homebrew Plus 7 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.


Finally we got the CO2 cylinder filled; more accurately we exchanged it for a full one. We spent an hour sanitizing the keg pieces, pressurized the keg, and then blew off the sanitizer. All of that used quite a bit of CO2 which was surprising, since we hadn't filled it with beer yet. The carboy was siphoned off into the 5 gallon keg. It made almost exactly the right amount. The beer is currently chilling and absorbing CO2 for drinking.

Yay beer!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Priest Dismissals Made Easy

[New York Times] The Vatican has made it easier for bishops to dismiss from the priesthood and release from celibacy rules those priests who have been living with women, abandoned their ministry or engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior, the Catholic News Service has reported.
[Ed.:] Maybe we should just get them time cards so they can punch out when they're done?

Aircraft Carriers Now Run By Texting

Well, I bet you didn't see this coming.

Radio commercials for ARINC are boasting that all the functions aboard an aircraft carrier can be performed using texting technology, including navigation, avionics, and the ability to maneuver and land military and commercial air, land, and sea craft.

Do we really want to have some n00b with an itchy thumb on billions of dollars worth of military equipment with lives hanging in the balance? As if texting while driving wasn't bad enough!

Here is what could happen when these two unlikely things come together:
Operator: opN D pod bay drs, hal.
Ship: Sry dv, i cnt do dat


Operator: nEme n range. launch d fyters. fyr d guns!
Ship: l%k Dave, I cn C ur realy ^set bout dis. I onestly tnk u ought 2 sit dwn calmly, taK a str$ pill, n tnk fings ovr.


sos. kbrd brokN. shp 1ly turns <-


op: nd hlp. radar nt wurkn
m8: ok. w8. w r u?
op: dk. h20 evrywhr.


d capt. saw u nekN d 1st m8. big strife


IK d foe S atackin. wups brb, dats my cll w8N


i pushD d rong butN, now d planes r n d H2O


av u evr triD 2 prllel prk d rcraft carrier n d str8 of Hrmuz?


w'r nt yr foe. cnt we B F? we've got d bigA guns, lol


incr speed 2 4T nts n hrd 2 (*) board
For those of us who aren't particularly texting inclined, try this texting translator here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Any Given Wednesday

On any given Wednesday in DC any one of these things could happen:
  • It will rain like the dickens
  • Someone will get shot at the Holocaust Museum
  • Your boss will get promoted
  • The Metro train will be 100 degrees F due to 99% humidity and no air conditioning
  • The Metro bus will be 60 degrees F causing the sweat from the train to make you cold and damp all the way home
  • Thunderstorms will knock out power to your house
Or in my case they will all happen on the same day. No lie.

Bailout Blues

We've gone round and round with this bailout thingy.

The Government apparently thinks that by nationalizing everything in sight it can make this country better: banks, cars, health care. The trouble is, that government -- any government -- has never been able to run anything efficiently and at profit. It always runs to waste and abuse and sheer bureaucracy. It needs problems to solve, therefore there will never be an end of problems, if only to justify its existence.

I once heard that Czar Nicholas II actually disbanded his legislative body (the Duma), but sheer bureaucratic inertia prevented it from taking effect: they refused.

The smack to the face of the American way is the government demanding that banks take their bailout money (even the reluctant ones) and then preventing them from paying it back. Despite the massive regulation, these are (still) private institutions that are being directly meddled with by the Treasury.

Because with the money comes power.
[AP] Ten of the nation's largest banks were given the green light Tuesday to repay $68 billion in government bailout money freeing them from restrictions ...

[Bloomberg] Firms buying back the government's preferred shares also have the right to repurchase warrants the treasury holds "at fair market value".
What is left unsaid here is that some banks that didn't pass the government "stress test" will not be allowed to pay back the money even if they wanted to. Does this smack of perpetual servitude or what?

Talk about your fine print: in this case it was fine print that was made up after the deal was struck. My wife is always telling me about (making up) the fine print in our marriage (which I ignore); maybe I should look into it ...
"I am altering the deal. Pray I do not alter it further." -- Darth Vader

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Real Or Photoshop?

Like the Bard says: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Some things are just weird looking: the long beaked echidna, who, like the platypus is a mammal that lays eggs. The super shy echidna only lives in the tropical rain forests of New Guinea.

Is it me, or does that front leg look like Barney Rubble's hand?

Vatican Reviewing Pope John Paul I Miracle

You don't hear a lot about Pope John Paul.

You do hear quite a bit about his successor, Pope John Paul II, and rightfully so; but JP I, not so much. Other than having possibly the shortest Pontificate in Church history and dying under mysterious circumstances, there is no serious discussion.

That may all be about to change.
Pope John Paul I, born Albino Luciani, has moved closer to being beatified after the Diocese of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti in Puglia, southeastern Italy, concluded that a banker, Giuseppe Denora, was cured of stomach cancer in 1992 after praying for the late Pope’s intercession.
While it is much too early to start calling it a miracle, the case has been forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for further investigation. Usually, getting past the ordinary (the local Bishop) is the hard part; many Bishops are reluctant to have the kind of "disruption" in their Diocese that comes from investigating miracles and causes for sainthood.

Among other things, it takes two attested miracles to be declared a saint, but it only takes one to be beatified. Even if the cause never progressed beyond that stage, it would still mean that Albino Luciani was in Heaven. (Not bad!)

I'll defer to any Canon lawyers, but I think even Servants of God get to go to the Big House.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Apparently, It's Going To Rain Forever

This is the week's forecast. It has already rained an appreciable amount in May and June. Not like other years when it was near drought conditions.

This weekend Wynken and I went over plans and measurements for the Ark. Sadly, the only animals that will be coming with us are a family of groundhogs -- and that's just because we can't get rid of them. They eye my garden vegetables with avaricious delight.

I just want to be able to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of my labors.

9th Circuit Says San Francisco Can Discriminate But Catholics Can't

[FindLaw]A federal court of appeals has rejected a civil rights lawsuit challenging a 2006 San Francisco Board of Supervisors resolution addressing a Catholic leader's directive on same-sex adoptions. The court ruled that the resolution did not have a predominantly religious purpose or an effect of expressing hostility towards the Catholic religion, but instead was "simply a statement of the Board's position on same-sex adoption."
And Catholic adoption agencies will continue to close up shop as a result rather than be strong-armed into violating their consciences in the name of political correctness.

Catholics more than any other group in the United States have been responsible for establishing hospitals, schools, and (free) aid and succor to the poorest of the poor for a hundred years and more. Along come some vocal minority radicals who want to upend anything "establishment", and they seek to destroy the good to further their own narrow ends. Or, more charitably, they seek what they perceive as a good based on an extremely thin notion of human nature.

Sad, really. I kind of wonder what took San Francisco so long -- I've long considered it a foreign country.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Trinity: Ineffable Mystery

First, the systematic theology way.

Frank Sheed, Theology and Sanity, on the Trinity on this, the feast of the Holy Trinity:
The First Person knows Himself; His act of knowing Himself produces an Idea, a Word; and this Idea, this Word, the perfect Image of Himself, is the Second Person.

The First Person and the Second combine in an act of love and ... produce a state of Lovingness within the Divine nature. Into this Lovingness, Father and Son pour all that they have and all that they are, with no diminution, nothing held back.

Thus their Lovingness too is Infinite, Eternal, Living, Someone, A Person, God.
Thus the Son is generated by way of knowledge and the Spirit is breathed, or spirated, by way of Love.

Now the Theology of the Body way:

Can you see now how the very image of the Godhead is imprinted on human nature? A man and a woman when they have intimate knowledge of each other, when they give themselves to each other completely with nothing held back, then a third person, a child, comes into being by way of Love.

[This ineffable mystery can barely be comprehended by our poor finite brains.]

Next Time I Write A Crypto SSO Module

Uh, yeah, right -- the next time I write a crypto SSO module I'll be sure to keep this Matasano post in mind. Um, right after I resolve the whole particle wave theory thingy.

CONFERENCE PHONE: So how’d he do?

THOMAS PTACEK: Pretty much aced it.

MIKE TRACY: What? He bombed the cookie part. He used ECB, MD5, and Triple DES!

THOMAS PTACEK: I’m impressed that he could spell ECB, MD5, or Triple DES. And it wouldn’t have mattered if he had used CBC, SHA-256, and AES-256. His code still would have been broken.


THOMAS PTACEK: He didn’t authenticate the message. Encryption isn’t —-

MIKE TRACY: (Chanting) Encryption - isn’t - authentication.

CONFERENCE PHONE: Don’t you mean integrity?

THOMAS PTACEK: No, Dave, I mean authentication. They’re called message authentication codes.

THOMAS PTACEK: There’s no way any programmer is ever going to get this stuff right.

NATE LAWSON: Professional crypto people don’t even get this stuff right. But if you have to encrypt something, you might as well use something that has already been tested.

THOMAS PTACEK: GPG for data at rest. TLS for data in motion.

NATE LAWSON: You can also use Guttman’s cryptlib, which has a sane API. Or Google Keyczar. They both have really simple interfaces, and they try to make it hard to do the wrong thing. What we need are fewer libraries with higher level interfaces. But we also need more testing for those libraries.

THOMAS PTACEK: Like I’ve been saying, if you have to type the letters “A-E-S” into your source code, you’re doing it wrong.

Overheard In My House

Nod-girl on learning of her aunt's vacation trip to a volcano in the Canary Islands:
"Why do you want to go up an ele-cano? They're dangerous."

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Master of Detection: Round Duex

Wow, ok, looks like our little poll for Best Detective in the sidebar has resulted in a tie between Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Father Brown also fared respectably, but Miss Marple brought up the rear.

That was unexpected.

Now we have to decide between two greats: a pipe-smoking, drug-taking, master of detection from London; or a portly, mincing, Belgian master of detective psychology with his "little grey cells".

To whom goes the crown and why? We await your answers.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #8

This week on Sunday Snippets WBN presents: Things At Church.

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.

Homebrew Plus 6 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.


This is the day we've been waiting for! The magic 6 week mark: the first day we could be enjoying our very first homebrew. As is it, we'll wait. Not, mind you, from any virtue; no, a simple lack of supplies put the kabosh on the celebration.

The place where we can get the CO2 is closed on weekends and only open 9-5 weekdays (as in when I'm working too). Haven't I been saying I should get this beforehand? Why don't I listen to me? Ah, well, it's a 6-8 week fermentation period anyway. We've made a plan to get it this week.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dirty, Sneaky

As if the dreaded Porkulus $787 billion economic stimulus bill wasn't bad enough at face value, more underhanded tidbits keep coming to light. South Carolina just forced the Governor to request the bailout money.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's Supreme Court ordered Gov. Mark Sanford on Thursday to request $700 million in federal stimulus money aimed primarily at struggling schools, ending months of wrangling with legislators who accused him of playing politics with people's lives.

The nation's most vocal anti-bailout governor had refused to take the money designated for the state over the next two years, facing down protesters and legislators who passed a budget requiring him to.

Clyburn, D-S.C., inserted an amendment in the federal law with Sanford's anti-bailout stance in mind, saying legislators could go around a governor's refusal. While the legality of that was questioned, U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson on Monday cited it in saying it was clear Congress intended to allow legislators to get around governors who didn't want the money.
This is what you get when nobody actually reads the omnibus bills before voting for them and when you have effective one-party rule.

Clyburn knew his Governor wouldn't take the money, so he wrote a law to circumvent him. Are you shocked to find they're both from South Carolina? Are you also shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sorry, Grasshopper

A bit of sad news.

David Carradine has died from an apparent suicide in a Thailand hotel. Carradine was best known for his TV role as Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine wandering the dusty West. Thereafter he became a self-appointed advocate for the martial arts.
[Bloomberg] Martial arts “can change your life,” he said. I think it can save the world if everybody can get hold of the true message, which has nothing to do with defending yourself or punching people out.”
Apparently, Carradine was still looking for the "life changing message" when he died. The only truly life changing message I've found involved three nails and a spear and a God who loved me passionately enough to die for me. May that same God have mercy on his soul.

I always liked the show Kung Fu growing up. I think this commercial is a fitting tribute to Carradine's work (re-posted from February).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Parking Genius

Because you know you've thought of it.

Confession For Dummies

The Vatican is complaining that people aren't doing Confession right: either they don't go, don't know, or would like to psycho-analyze it.

[Guardian] But, according to the Vatican, real life confessions are in danger of turning into cosy counselling sessions, which is why priests are to be issued with a handbook instructing them to give their flocks a sharp reminder of what sin is all about.

Explaining the initiative, an official at the Vatican office on clergy told Vatican Radio that the declining number of churchgoers who went to confession were confusing it with "a psychiatrist's couch". "An ever decreasing number of people see a clear difference between good and evil, between truth and lies and between sin and virtue, and therefore fewer are taking confession," said Archbishop Mauro Piacenza.

For this we need a handbook? Sheesh. We got Drive-Thru Jesus.

Or, they could do what I do: "Bless my wife, Father, for she has sinned. Let me tell you about it ...".

That gets 'em every time.

It's Because I'm Trapped, Isn't It?

Riding public transit has its ups and downs.

Lately, there have been a lot of downs in that the Metro train keeps having breakdowns and delays while I'm on it. There is nothing like sitting in a crowded cattle car with inadequate ventilation with a hundred of your neighbors on a moist and muggy DC day to make you appreciate your own autonomy.

Generally there is an unspoken etiquette to riding public transit, and generally it is followed. Heck, there's even an etiquette to riding in elevators, which pretty much involves not looking at the next person and pretending not to notice any funny smells.

Then there are the outliers. People who either just don't get it, or just don't care. These are the people who force you to listen to their too-loud music, strike up personal conversations with strangers, talk loudly on their cell phones and the like.

Like those two post-grads on the train today. I now know more about the angst in their social lives than I care to. Weighty topics like "Will we still be friends with Jennifer a few years from now?", "College was hard, but not that hard", "Ever since Will broke up with Sarah, he's just been partying too much", and "I want to go to New York to see all my friends, but I'm afraid my family will monopolize my time" are just things I could go on not knowing and still live a perfectly fulfilled life.

There is a quirky social rule that applies: The higher the population density, the more private people (should) become.

That or this one: The less personal space you have, the more jealously you will guard it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Obama Defines Empathy In Justice Roberts Remarks

At least this guy tells us what he is really thinking; it's just that people aren't paying attention to what all the pretty words mean. We've gotten so used to hearing lies from politicians that we don't hear it when they tell the truth either.

The Wall Street Journal published then-Senator Obama's remarks on why he voted against Justice Roberts' confirmation to the Supreme Court. Short version: he doesn't share my political philosophy in 5% of the cases.
[WSJ] In those 5% of hard cases, ... your decisions about whether affirmative action is an appropriate response to the history of discrimination in this country, or whether a general right of privacy encompasses a more specific right of women to control their reproductive decisions, or whether the Commerce Clause empowers Congress to speak on those issues of broad national concern ..., the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart.
So this illuminates his decision making process for nominating Sotomayer to the Supreme Court as well. The translation of empathy is: support for affirmative action, abortion, and broad Federal powers.

Earth 2100: View For A Few

I don't know why I flip channels, I just do sometimes. Possibly it's because I don' t watch TV regularly, so I'm not really committed to any show. Thus, I fell victim to watching a chunk of ABC's new show Earth 2100.

I won't keep you in suspense: I've seen less crap in a public outhouse.

Stylistically, it's a blend of pseudo-animation, and live footage with heavy-handed effects. The 2D animation in which elements in the still drawings are moved about the frame as well as moving the camera perspective give it a false 3D flavor reminiscent of the "animated" comic book version of the graphic novel The Watchmen. That same apocalyptic feeling permeates the show as well; despite interviews with seemingly dispassionate scientists and thinkers in the cutaway scenes, Earth 2100 fails to hide its hyperventilating global warming / climate change hysteria.
Experts say over the next hundred years the "perfect storm" of population growth, resource depletion and climate change could converge with catastrophic results.
Earth 2100 Series
ABC News' "Earth 2100," hosted by Bob Woodruff, takes viewers on a journey through what the next century could have in store.
It's unabashed eco-agitprop. It plays the same worn out refrains that liberal extremists have been harping on for years, despite evidence to the contrary: global warming, ecological disaster, global disease, population control, famine, and societal meltdown -- all due to humanity not heeding the warnings in time.

The show is presented with a narrator voice-over in graphic novel style; it asks us to imagine the horrors in store for us in "what if" style -- but the "if" is spoken very softly and the predictions have the force of unstoppable prophecy.

As entertainment, it was mildly amusing but I've seen better doomsday stories. As a political agenda masquerading as pseudo-science it's laughable and awkward.

You're better off watching re-runs of the A-Team.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Not So Cutie

Father Oprah is gone from the ranks of the Catholic Church in all but official release and now he's the Episcopals' problem. Manifestly of no strong conviction or shame, Cutie preached his first Protestant sermon on forgiveness -- but apparently has forgotten about repentance.

[USAToday] [Alberto] Cutie is the priest who published books on relationships, did TV shows for the Catholic church all while hiding a two-year relationship with a girlfriend until, oops, he was photographed patting her fanny -- inside her suit -- on a beach [in Florida].

In blazing time he was out the Catholic door and loudly welcomed in by Bishop Leo Frade, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida.

Episcopalx-blog200 The article features an AP photo in which "Rev. Alberto Cutie hugs his girlfriend, Ruhama Buni Canellis, after he gave his first sermon since leaving the Roman Catholic Church in Biscayne Park, Fla. on Sunday."

Now in a delicious piece of irony, Ruhama is a name from the Old Testament book of Hosea in which the prophet is commanded to marry a prostitute as a sign of the people's unfaithfulness to God. Their offspring are given the symbolic names of Jezreel (valley of defeat), Lo-ruhama: "she is not pitied", and Lo-ammi,"not my people".

Coincidence? I think not.

If Cutie was so quick to throw over the Catholic priesthood for a pretty face, what makes ANYONE think he will keep his promises to another church or another woman?

Requiescat In Pace: Byron Bealle

Today, Byron Bealle, a much respected member of our Church was laid to rest.

Bealle was a PGK of the Knights of Columbus, Head Usher at the church for 25 years, founder of the parking traffic program, adoptive father, youth group coordinator, and perpetual servant of the parish -- all done outside of the limelight.

Bealle succumbed to cancer last week and was buried in Fairfax Memorial Gardens in Fairfax, VA after a funeral Mass. Bealle was 63.

God rest you, Brother Byron.


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