Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bliadhna mhath ùr, everyone!

10 Ancient New Year Traditions And Stories

[See #6.]

Sweet Land Of Liberty

40,000 new laws take effect in 2014

I'm not sure, but I think I accidentally just became a Class D felon.

2013's Best Letter

Missouri Bar Responds To Cease And Desist From Starbucks With Epic Letter And $6 Check

And The Episcopal Church's Political Response To This Is...?

USA Today:"The ACA was not designed to reduce costs or, the law's name notwithstanding, to make health insurance coverage affordable for the vast majority of Americans," says health care consultant Kip Piper, a former government and insurance industry official. "The law uses taxpayer dollars to lower costs for the low-income uninsured but it also increases costs overall and shifts costs within the marketplace."

The government wished for clergy to promote the ACA as we were informed that it addressed inequality in our society's medical treatment options.  Instead, it has created five million more people with no medical insurance coverage.  I guess government can't be God, after all.

As Burns Noted, The Best Laid Plans....

Human Events: You’d need a heart of stone not to laugh at the spectacle of global warming fanatics trapped in the ice on their way to Antarctica, where they planned to make a big deal about the relative shortage of ice. It’s even funnier because the highly sympathetic mainstream media so clearly understands how utterly embarrassing this is.

It should also be mentioned that it's summer down there, too.

Reality will really hit home, and far harder and colder than the ice, when the ship's owners get the massive bill for the rescue.  [Yeah, that happens.]

When, In The History Of Western Civilization, Has This Not Been So?

New Republic: The Super-Rich Are Ruining Art for the Rest of Us

Wow, NPR Is Really On The Cutting Edge Of News

This business has been going on for as long as there has been Photoshop.  In one way or another, it has been going on as long as there have been colleges in the United States.

A Campus More Colorful Than Reality: Beware That College Brochure

I worked with a parish in Rhode Island once, during my days in what's now called "transition ministry" [My good God, what a stupid term], that did the same thing with their parish profile.

Tuesday's Wave

Photo: Free Surf ... captured w/ #gopro

"Music rots when it gets too far from the dance. Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music."
~Ezra Pound

Monday, December 30, 2013

An Obituary Of Note

Of little interest to anyone other than a motorhead, but I started following auto sports because of this guy.  Also, his autobiography, They Call Me Mister 500, was one of only two books that I've read that made me laugh out loud [the other was Catch-22].

Andy Granatelli, 1923-2013

Something To Remember Next Time I Get A Campaign Solicitation

Members of Congress Buy Xmas Gifts with Campaign Funds

This Has Been A Developing Problem For A Generation, Yet No One In Govt Education Has Cared

Lost in all the noise about helping girls achieve their potential is a growing body of evidence that boys are in trouble. It's the real "gender gap." Consider this: A recent study by two MIT economists found that men, not women, are less likely to graduate from high school and finish college. As a result, the study said, "over the last three decades, the labor market trajectory of males in the U.S. has turned downward along four dimensions: skills acquisition, employment rates, occupational stature and real wage levels."

Of course, given the gender inequity that dominates elementary education, this shouldn't come as a surprise.  Plus, since the late 1980's, too many boys have been soaked in Ritalin and other psychotropics in order to get them to stop acting like...well...boys.  Those of us who tried to address this in its early stages were labeled "sexist".

Hahaha. Good One.

New York Times' David Brooks to Teach ‘Humility’ at Yale

Good God, I thought this was a spoof.  That fact that it isn't just makes it funnier.

Winter Dawn, Lake Erie

Count Basie And Frank Sinatra In Consultation

With the bass player doing what they do, just walking lines until the big shots are ready.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Changing Times

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and their two daughters did not go to church on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, according to press pool reports. The Obamas are in Kailua, Hawaii for a 17-day Christmas vacation.Although the Obamas did not go to church for Christmas, President Obama did play golf during the afternoon of Dec. 24 and Mrs. Obama spoke with children by telephone on Christmas Eve for about 30 minutes concerning Santa’s whereabouts as tracked by NORAD.

Please explain the sentence "Although the Obamas did not go to church for Christmas, [he] did play golf...."  It makes it seem as if one is a substitute for the other.  Now, if it had been surfing, I could understand.

The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People

I don't know, it made me laugh, especially this one:

Exercise: Sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and, for 15 minutes, meditate on all the things you could lose: your job, your house, your savings, and so forth. Then brood about living in a homeless shelter.

Don't Get Any Ideas, Folks


Ancient Humans Bred with Completely Unknown Species

"What it begins to suggest is that we're looking at a 'Lord of the Rings'-type world - that there were many hominid populations," Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London.

12 Historical Speeches Nobody Ever Heard

"History wants us to believe that the Indian was a savage, illiterate, uncivilized animal. A history that was written by an organized, disciplined people, to expose us as an unorganized and undisciplined entity. Two distinctly different cultures met. One thought they must control life; the other believed life was to be enjoyed, because nature decreed it. Let us remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white man. The Indian feels pain, gets hurt, and becomes defensive, has dreams, bears tragedy and failure, suffers from loneliness, needs to cry as well as laugh. He, too, is often misunderstood."


Washington Post:
"Hospice patients are expected to die: The treatment focuses on providing comfort to the terminally ill, not finding a cure. To enroll a patient, two doctors certify a life expectancy of six months or less. But over the past decade, the number of “hospice survivors” in the United States has risen dramatically, in part because hospice companies earn more by recruiting patients who aren’t actually dying, a Washington Post investigation has found. Healthier patients are more profitable because they require fewer visits and stay enrolled longer."

The Pseudo-Science Is Settled

New Study Exposes Acupuncture As Pseudoscience

You mean sticking pins into people doesn't really do anything?  Who would have thought that?

Friday, December 27, 2013

This Always Works Out Well

And now, foundational religious teaching as an action-adventure movie.

Biblical films' Hollywood comeback

Mazel Tov, Christians!

Americans who feel “excluded” are not excluded. They have decided to feel excluded. Which is, of course, entirely their right to do; no one forces anyone to celebrate any American holiday. But attempts to remove Christmas from the public sphere are destructive to our society. It would be as if Jehovah’s Witnesses attempted to remove public celebrations and references to the Fourth of July because they don’t celebrate national holidays.

Why are these attempts destructive? Because the entire society — Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists as well as Christians — benefits from the goodness and joy that the Christmas season engenders.

Persecution at Christmastime

Middle Eastern Christians wonder, “If they kill us all, would Western Christians do something then?”
As I am asked every year, Christmas is a season, not a simple 24 hour period. It does not begin right after Thanksgiving [that's the secular "retail" Christmas], but at sundown on Christmas Eve and continues until sundown on January 5th. In other words, twelve days, just like the venerable song says.

An Obituary Of Note

Peter Geach, R.I.P.

That's Because Christianity Should Engage Through Excitement, Rather Than Drone On Through Tired Tropes

Pentecostalism Invades Lambeth Palace

For those who don't know, Lambeth is the traditional seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who serves as the titular head of the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church's global identity.

On the other hand, the conventional annual media story, mildly updated, once again makes its appearance:

Washington Post discovers the bleeding obvious about liturgy

Why Is The Divorce Rate So High? It's A Puzzler.

Because for too many, weddings are fantasy shows, rather than sacramental rites.

Why Do Schools Choose To Perform Christian Music If It Will "Offend"?

Honestly, I never get why government schools decide to use Christian tropes and then complain about them at the same time.  Just avoid the music rather than butcher it.  Really, just stick with "Frosty the Snowman" and other related gibberish.

Some Parents Upset After L.I. School Removes Religious References From ‘Silent Night’

In a related story, apparently at least one Veterans Administration hospital considers singing Christmas carols to patients to be "spiritual care" and, thus, bans a high school choir.

Please, In A Secular Age It's Not About What You Do, But What You Feel

Democratic Campaigns Pay African American, Hispanic Staffers Less

Remember This The Next Time Someone Says, "The Science Is Settled"

Professor admits faking AIDS vaccine to get $19M in grants

Yes, you read that correctly.  That's 19 million [American] dollars in grant money.  For some people, that's a considerable inducement to lie.  It's also a drop in the bucket compared to how much grant money is available to study climate change.

Good For Time Magazine And Princeton University

The American Studies Association Needs to Learn Some American Values


List of Universities rejecting academic boycott of Israel

Dear Veterans Administration: Kindly Shove Off

VA hospital refuses to accept 'Merry Christmas' cards

We're Constantly in Fear: The life of a part-time professor

“It’s really political,” she says. “There’s an atmosphere where we don’t feel safe to talk [publicly] because we’re afraid our opinions and our thoughts can work against us. We’re constantly in this fear that this could hurt me from getting classes assigned next semester or my comments could hurt me when I’m trying to apply for a position.”

Why is it that academia and Hollywood, the two institutions that are always pranging on about workplace fairness and social equity, are the two biggest offenders in those areas?  Should I be surprised that these are two highly secularized portions of our society?

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Liturgies Of Christmas

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Christmas Eve:
5:00 pm Celebration of the Holy Eucharist on the occasion of the Feast of the Incarnation with Carols and Hymns.

10:00 pm Festal Celebration of the Holy Eucharist, also with Carols, Hymns, and special music.

Christmas Day:
10:00 am A Celebration of the Holy Eucharist, especially for those who prefer a quieter, daylight experience.  Yes, there will be music.

Friday's Church: St. Thomas Catholic Church, Kokkamangalam, Kerala.


Pious legend has it that this was one of the seven churches founded and built in India by St. Thomas the Apostle.

John Prine - Spanish Pipedream

I don't know if it's the travails of some hairy guys on some basic cable TV show or the constant pranging on of everyone with a two-bit opinion about health care [rather, medical insurance, as "care" doesn't seem to be on the list of concerns], but it caused the refrain of this forty-three-year-old John Prine song to come to mind.

And if you have never heard of John Prine, you have lead a very sheltered life.  Gladly, it's never too late to learn.

BTW, I beginning to become fatigued with the weekly episode of "moral panic" on the part of some members of the public square.  I may make it a weekly feature.  First, it was the race of Santa Claus, now some inelegant and impolitic statements from a reality TV person; I can hardly wait to see what next week's about.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

And Now, The Headline Of The Week

Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile

Thursday's Biblical Recipe: Palestinian Flat Bread

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
13 cup fine cornmeal
•1 Tbsp. olive oil
•1 ½ tsp. salt
•½ cup lentils, cooked
•1 Tbsp. millet, ground into powder
•1 ½ cups water
•1 tsp. onion powder
•½ cup sesame seeds

One of the few breads to incorporate lentils in the dough, Palestinian flat bread is great when served with hummus or some other dip. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, cornmeal, olive oil, salt, lentils, millet, and water to make a dough mixture, and flatten onto an oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle with onion powder and sesame seeds. Bake 20 minutes or so. For a crispier cracker, leave in oven an extra 10 minutes.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

While The "Thought Leaders" In The Media Argue The Race Of Santa Clause, Christians In The Middle East Are Under Attack

It would be nice for them to be outraged by this, wouldn't it?

Forced Exodus: Christians in the Middle East

I once worked in a grubby newsroom with a bunch of rumpled men rendered half-dead by their alcohol and tobacco habits.  It was for a small newspaper chain serving little towns along the Pennsylvania/Ohio border.  They carried no Ivy League or journalism school credentials, did not have "power meals" at trendy restaurants [unless you count the local Moose Lodge], and drove Chevys and Fords.  But, they would pursue a story like this with energy and vengeance.

Why?  Because it's a good story; the kind that sells newspapers.

[I want to note, especially as "flyover country" people such as this tend to be dismissed by the East Coast folks with whom I have worked over the last 24 years, that they were also among the most intelligent and erudite people I have ever known, right up there with a standard company of Marine Corps officer trainees.  In fact, as I get older, I miss the wide-ranging and intelligent conversations that I could have with these rumpled men.]

A Moor?

I really wish the media "thought leaders" would stick to arguing about the race of a character like Santa Claus than informing those of us who know better of the physical appearance of Jesus.

Juan Williams Says Jesus Was Likely ‘Oriental Asian’ or a ‘Moor’

Yeah, Jesus is allowed to be of any ethnic group on Earth except, you know, that of 1st century Semites. I've often encountered an unease with modern Israel by contemporary media members, but it shouldn't be retroactive to 2000 years ago.  It's okay, Jesus can be a Jew.  If it makes a "thought leader" feel better, he was also a Palestinian.

By the way, if we have to argue about the race of Santa [and only is this diseased and cacatopic age would we have to], I'll simply point out that his model, St. Nicholas, was Greek.

Who Is "We"? Expecting A Politician To Be The Messiah Has Been An Error For...Oh...Two Thousand Years Or So.

"He made so many promises. We thought that he was going to be - I shouldn't say this at Christmastime, but - the next messiah."


China Goes To The Moon; NASA Spends $390,000 On A Cartoon About Global Warming

The Top 100 Examples of Government Waste

At a time when the government would prefer that we pay more in taxes [you know, instead of "wasting" it by donating to charities, the arts, and...ahem...churches], it's nice to know how focused they are on being responsible with our largess.

The great biofuels scandal

Biofuels are inefficient, cause hunger and air pollution, and cost taxpayers billions

I remember some thin-necked fellow over in Litchfield singing the capsheaf benefits of the bio-fuels that he was selling through his oil company, with the help of state politicians, of course [yes, them, again].  "This will change the world", he exclaimed.

It appears so.

Wednesday's Art

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Some Of Us Already Knew About These, But Good For The Times For Catching Up

NYT:  Benefits of Swimming

Something Only For The Open-Minded

In life, it means something—not everything, but something—when you walk the talk. Francis electrifies non-Christians like me because so much of what he says seems to be concerned above all with getting the theological fine print out of the way, of putting the deed before the word, of "[going] with Christ to the peripheries." That means the shanty towns, the hospices, the refugee camps, the juvenile prisons.

I Think I'm Drawing The Line With This One

Yoga With Your Dog

Are The Iguanas Eating Them?

Tourists Are Giving Endangered Iguanas Diarrhea and High Cholesterol

Always Be Alert When Scientists Say "Case Closed"

Multivitamin researchers say "case is closed" after studies find no health benefits

As Richard Feynman once said, "“If you thought that science was certain - well, that is just an error on your part.”

As I Was Reminded Today, Not All Vets Are Bi-Pedal

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Tuesday's Wave

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” - Søren Kierkegaard

Monday, December 16, 2013

This Should Be Noted

An armed deputy sheriff at Arapahoe High School in Colorado likely prevented a school shooting there from being worse, officials say, ending the episode in less than two minutes.

Schools Are Mean, Little Places Anymore, Aren't They?

Controversy Over 5th-Grader’s Religion Speech


Occupy Wall Street posters are now for sale at...WalMart!

Flannery O'Connor's Prayer Journal Has Been Discovered

And is now available.

“I would like to write a beautiful prayer,” writes the young Flannery O’Connor in this deeply spiritual journal, recently discovered among her papers in Georgia. “There is a whole sensible world around me that I should be able to turn to Your praise.” Written between 1946 and 1947 while O’Connor was a student far from home at the University of Iowa, A Prayer Journal is a rare portal into the interior life of the great writer. Not only does it map O’Connor’s singular relationship with the divine, but it shows how entwined her literary desire was with her yearning for God. “I must write down that I am to be an artist. Not in the sense of aesthetic frippery but in the sense of aesthetic craftsmanship; otherwise I will feel my loneliness continually . . . I do not want to be lonely all my life but people only make us lonelier by reminding us of God. Dear God please help me to be an artist, please let it lead to You.”

Obituaries Of Note

Peter O’Toole, Star of ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ Is Dead at 81

Imagine that your first leading film role is in a highly expensive production starring the venerable talent of the age [Anthony Quinn, Jose Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, Alec Guinness, etc.] and directed by a living legend.  Imagine, then, fulfilling your job in such a way that it is impossible for anyone else to ever play the role.

While it recounts the wartime work of the archaeologist Thomas E. Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia" is much more about the exercise of free will and the quest for identity.  Robert Bolt's script is filled with marvelous dialogue, though my favorite moment may be when Lawrence is rendered speechless by a sentry's question, "Who are you?"

If you ever have the chance, and can find it, one of the great movies about appearance vs. reality is "The Stunt Man", also starring O'Toole.  In interviews, he would call it his favorite role.  Although, to be honest, his best role may have been playing himself.

[An aside: in seminary we would have an annual "Speak like Peter O'Toole Day", which often made for some memorable readings in the chapel.]

Tom Laughlin dies at 82; filmmaker drew huge following for 'Billy Jack'

At the other end of the cinematic spectrum was Tom Laughlin, who created the grind house movie character "Billy Jack".  If "Lawrence" encouraged me to study archaeology, the half-breed "Billy Jack" reminded me of the angst that is always a part of a divided genetic heritage.  That, and when one lives and works mostly with affluent whites, it's good to know some martial arts.

To his credit, Laughlin created a marketing strategy based not on what was familiar Hollywood practice, but on the manner in which the early rock and roll stars introduced new songs, namely by paying theaters to show the film and adverstising it in campaigns targeted towards a younger audience. It's now, and has been for some forty years, the way in which all films are marketed.

Here's Billy Jack practicing his particular brand of peace-making [Warning: there's a little bad language near the end].

Milky Way Over Australia

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Guess The State

Boy, 11, Arrested For Punching Grandmother In Face After She Refused To Buy Him Toy At Department Store

This Explains It

The Episcopal Church of the United States is a member of the Anglican Communion, the world-wide body of churches that share the Book of Common Prayer, a particular theological perception, and trace their origin to the Church of England's missionaries who accompanied the original...well...let's just call them "settlers".

To display how we became a world-wide church, the map below shows in pink all of the areas that were invaded at one time or another by England.  Only twenty-two countries have not known English intervention.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It Snowed In Egypt Today

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Larry rang the Christ Church bells this morning in memory of those lost in the terrible event of a year ago, with Jim offering silent prayers in our chancel. Thanks to them both for doing so and for taking on this small piece of ministry that is quiet yet audible. It was good for us to say a few prayers in the midst of our labors.

Good morning, all.  It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, although I wish the storm had started around 9am as predicted instead of 7am.  Also, plan for power outages as the new generator, which has been running flawlessly since its installation two weeks ago, decided to get stubborn and not start this morning.

Something my farmer grandfather taught me:  If it works, you won't need it; if it doesn't,..well, you know the rest.  I mentioned this to the First Selectman and she said that the whole town could then safely blame me should there be a power loss.  Aces!

Services as usual tomorrow, although please don't endanger yourselves getting to the church.  I hope to record and post tomorrow's sermon and announcements in a video format, but that depends on equipment, power availability, and my understanding of how these things work.  Given my experience with the generator, that's iffy at best.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

This Really Doesn't Surprise Me As It's All About Words And Not Deeds With Many "Celebrity" Funds

Though Jane Fonda’s private foundation has nearly $800,000 in assets, the group has not made a charitable contribution during the last five years for which it has filed federal tax returns, an apparent violation of Internal Revenue Service rules.

Not At All. Next Question, Please.

Just how truthful are Hollywood’s ‘true stories’?


Misinformation Marred First Month Of Connecticut Health Website


CT Obamacare Exchange, Praised in Rose Garden, Gave Wrong Info for Every Single Individual Plan And the state was aware of the problems a full month before Obama's speech.

Further Oops:
Connecticut’s health insurance exchange has spent nearly $75,000 to commission three murals with an additional $4,000 spent to have one of the murals installed.

Why Not? They're Delicious.

As Lionfish Invade the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, Conservationists Say Eat Up

More And More Often....

Grocery Store Kicks Girls Off Property For Singing Christmas Carols

It's okay as the story has a happy ending, thanks to the store's...attorney?!

Hey, There's An Elephant In The Room

The Demise of General Education

Thursday's Biblical Recipe: Cerkez Tavugu

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2–3 cups water, as needed
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. shelled walnuts, finely chopped
  • 6 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • small jar of pimentos
Wash the chicken thoroughly in cold water and place it in a large frying pan with the onion. Cover with water, lemon juice, cilantro, and parsley, and bring to a boil. Place a lid over the pan and simmer at low heat until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken, cut into small pieces, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Keep the chicken stock with the herbs for use later. Turn the oven dial to the broiler setting. Mix the walnuts, bread crumbs, and paprika in a blender. (To get a thorough mix, add the bread crumbs a little at a time so as not to choke the blender blades.) Place these dry ingredients in a large bowl and slowly add the reserved chicken stock (without the herbs this time—liquid only) to the mixture, stirring by hand until all has been used and the consistency is like that of a thick soup. Put the chicken pieces in an oblong ovenproof dish that will fit in the broiler and cover with all of the stock sauce. Sprinkle with paprika so that the dish is completely covered. Broil for 5–10 minutes (do not let it burn). Just prior to serving, garnish with red pimentos.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

This Is Either Another Example Of Child Abuse Or Of Modern Education; Hard To Tell

Hunter Yelton of Cañon City, Colo., is accused of sexual harassment. Hunter Yelton is 6 years old and in the first grade. "He has a crush on a girl at school, who likes him back...."

A Thoughtful Look At Secularism And Its Weaknesses

And from a former professor of mine, no less:

Why the recent flurry of church/state issues? In America it is part of the politics surrounding the so-called “culture wars”: The rising influence of conservative Protestants in the Republican party has mobilized liberals against any political role of organized religion—especially since conservative Catholics have been allied with conservative Protestants on most of the issues “south of the navel” (issues, that is, that liberals are personally anxious about). The politics in Europe is different: Conservative Christianity (Protestant or Catholic) is not very significant politically, but the perceived threat of militant Islam has made secularism (such as French laicite) appear as a defense of European values against theocracy.

It's interesting to me that when the institutional Episcopal Church decides to insert itself into the "culture wars", it tends to take the side that is contra-conservative, even when the conservative argument is an extension of mainstream theology.  Hence, the Episcopal Church often allies itself with a minority argument [at least among practicing Christians] espoused by a secular, sometimes non-theist, organization that has no interest in reciprocity.  This isolates the Church among other churches and denominations and, in turn, places the Church in a disrespected position among the secular ideologues.

[Before anyone gets upset with my opinion, especially those who prefer the minority view, I should point out that I don't care one way or the other.  I don't determine the ideological course of the Episcopal Church as I have neither the power, the position, nor the interest to do so.  I was taught, and rigorously, to objectively regard the actions of society, its institutions and people, as one observes a strange and wondrous animal.]

Wednesday's Art: Triptych by Lombard

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Now That's How You Critically Review A Biography

This is about the most complete take-down of a biographer as I've seen in some time.  It has a certain splendor to it.

False Portrait: On Deborah Solomon’s Norman Rockwell

The problem with contemporary expectations is that, unless one is to reveal something specious or scandalous about the subject, it's pointless to spend money on publishing the biography.  Also, most academic work has to be oriented to the cult of "victim", as fact and original thinking are absent in the universities these days.

This Is Why Govt Shouldn't Be In Charge Of Anything Other Than Graft And Money Laundering

Because making the USPS, Amtrak, and now medical insurance hopeless money-losers is just not enough.

U.S. exits GM stake, taxpayers lose about $10 billion

Some Schools And Their Principals Seem To Be In The Child Abuse Business

A fifth grader in Pennsylvania has been suspended for shooting an imaginary arrow at a classmate. The 10-year-old also faces possible expulsion.

Pretty good quote from the defense attorney: “Here’s how ridiculous it is. If we’re going to punish this poor kid for pretending to shoot a bow and arrow, let’s ticket his parents for parking their unicorn in a fire zone.”

This Is Either The Funniest Or Saddest Thing I've Read This Week

I don't think I was supposed to laugh at this.

I lost my masculinity in Brooklyn, so I climbed a mountain to get it back

Of course, I confused a young man the other day when I was speaking highly of a new router I've purchased and am using to shape guitar bodies.  What confused him is that I was speaking of this:

And he thought I was speaking of this:

A couple of years ago I had high hopes for teaching a couple of local high school kids how to make guitars.  When they found out it would take longer than a day, they dropped out of the program.  Also, one of them was afraid he'd get splinters.

More And More Often....

Baby Jesus Stolen From Two Nativity Scenes


Nativity Scene Figures Stolen From St. Joseph Church


Drive-thru Nativity Scenes!  [In California.  Where else?]

I've Noticed This Trend Among Gormless Teenagers At Funerals Lately

View image on BuzzFeed website

But, frankly, I'm a little surprised to see "selfies" [which is a stupid term] from adults, especially the prime ministers of the UK and Denmark.  The giddy fellow on the right looks familiar to me, too.

At least the woman on the far right is trying to maintain a sense of dignity at Mandela's funeral.

Apparently, I'm not the only one to notice:

Okay, folks. I'm calling this a snow day. All meetings and appointments are to be rescheduled.

Tuesday's Wave

surfing kid

"Freedom lies in being bold." - Robert Frost

Monday, December 9, 2013

I'm Guessing It Was Blitzen

Jogger hit by flying deer

That's Especially True Of Non-Urgent Calls On One's Day Off

People who can ignore texts or calls are likely to be more contented

What's This? Hypocrisy In The Govt? How Can That Be?

Gender wage gap in Obama’s White House: Female staffers earn less than 87 cents on the dollar compared to men

More Tales From The Secular World

NPR: Report Details ATF's Use Of Mentally Disabled In Gun Stings

News From Yale, That Secular Bastion Of Free Thought

Selectively applying rules, school officials tried to squash campaign efforts.

I'm Really Beginning To Dislike This Century

The Blessed Virgin Mary required to wear helmet in Christmas parade

Of course, no such story would be complete without the tedious bureaucrat's mantra:
"...but we have a duty of care to the child."

This Is Worth A Read

From Mother Jones magazine:

By now, the militarization of the police has advanced to the point where "the War on Crime" and "the War on Drugs" are no longer metaphors but bland understatements. There is the proliferation of heavily armed SWAT teams, even in small towns; the use of shock-and-awe tactics to bust small-time bookies; the no-knock raids to recover trace amounts of drugs that often result in the killing of family dogs, if not family members; and in communities where drug treatment programs once were key, the waging of a drug version of counterinsurgency war. (All of this is ably reported on journalist Radley Balko's blog and in his book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop.) But American over-policing involves far more than the widely reported up-armoring of your local precinct. It's also the way police power has entered the DNA of social policy, turning just about every sphere of American life into a police matter.

They Really Thought This One Through, Didn't They?

Volunteer fire departments all across the U.S. could find themselves out of money and unable to operate unless Congress or the Obama Administration exempts them from the Affordable Care Act.

Please, please don't ever tell me how smart these people are.

Then, again, volunteers aren't members of a union that can support candidates with money and votes, so maybe this was the smart move.

This Is A Stupid Headline That Pales In Comparison To The Thought Behind It

How Adam Lanza Wrecked Obama's Second Term

I appreciate that partisans of both parties sometimes go to great lengths to defend their favorite politicians, but let's not do so over the bodies of murdered students and their teachers.  Speaking on behalf of the responders, this is so grotesque as to make me want to twist this writer's nose a turn-and-a-half.

Update:  Apparently, I'm not the only who feels this way.

"20 children were murdered, and 6 adults. Leave it alone. Conduct your pathetic search for someone or something to blame somewhere else, Alex Seitz-Wald. Have some decency. Find another grave upon which to dance the Dance of Obama Exculpation."

Yeah, It Made Me Laugh

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Jim Morrison's Honda

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

I have been meaning to mention that the Sundays of Advent have their own, individual blessings to be offered at the conclusion of the liturgy.

For Advent I:
May Almighty God, by whose providence our Savior Christ came among us in great humility, sanctify you with the light of his blessing and set you free from all sin. Amen.

Advent II:
May he whose second Coming in power and great glory we await, make you steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, and constant in love. Amen.

This Is A Parody

Or is it?

Man Doesn’t Know How Parents Ever Going To Pay Off Massive Student Loan Debt
No lesser feast days this week or next as we prepare for the coming of the Incarnation.

Friday, December 6, 2013

More Tales From The Secular World

School bans the colors red & green

Bad News For Bio-Evangelism

U.S. pregnancy rate falls to 12-year low

Oh, Yeah...Churches. Whatever Happened To Them?

Actually, there’s plenty of evidence that unwed childbearing, father absence and fraying kinship and community networks exacerbate the problems of low-income people and make it incredibly hard for them to gain a foothold in the middle class. These are thorny problems that aren’t easily solved by the kinds of government measures Obama champions. So his speech says very little about the ways that strong marriages, family stability, or a robust role for churches in helping struggling Americans improve their lives can all improve economic mobility in this country.

Archaeological News

An Ancient City Is Discovered Underwater. What They Found Will Change History Forever.

Friday's Church: St. Peter's Lutheran, Citicorp Building, NYC

When Citicorp wanted to build a headquarters on the same site as the old St. Peter's Church, the congregation made a pretty good deal with them.  Their parish is now on the main floor of the building.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

More Tales From The Secular World

A fight broke out at Philadelphia’s Christmas tree lighting in Love Park.

God Help Us, The Russians Have Discovered Surfing

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"...Party And Surfing."

This Is What Happens When A Govt Isn't Coerced By The Grain Lobby

Sweden Shifts National Dietary Guidance On Eating - Steers Toward Low-Carb, Low-Glycemic Food Recommendations

Thursday's Bible Recipe: Savory Chevon Ragout


1 large bag of frozen cubed goat meat
4–5 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup onions, minced
¾ cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
5 large, very ripe tomatoes, finely cut
3 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
½–1 cup water
¼ cup flour
juice of one lemon
bed of rice
fresh mint
crumbled goat cheese

Place frozen goat cubes in boiling water and simmer slowly, stirring about every 5 minutes. Cover slightly and continue simmering (about 15 minutes) until meat is very tender and a bit stringy. Discard water and cover. In a large frying pan, combine the garlic and onions and cook at medium heat in olive oil; toss in chopped peppers, cooking slowly until all are tender and lightly browned. Add goat cubes and allow them to cook about 5–10 minutes on low to medium heat, taking care to allow them to brown and pick up the flavor of the garlic-onion-pepper mixture. Next add tomatoes, spices, and water and let cook on low heat for 25–30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that there is no burning. (If there does not seem to be enough liquid in the pan, add another ½ cup water.) As dish thickens, add flour and lemon juice. Serve piping hot over rice, with sprigs of mint and a sprinkling of goat cheese on top.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Guess The State

The Sweariest State in the Union

I'm Guessing He's A Politician In Some Difficulty In The Polls

There's something touching/desperate about a politician who suddenly starts pranging on about his "religion", the importance of which seems to come and go with the season.

Mark Pryor, the incumbent Democratic senator from Arkansas up for reelection next year, is releasing a new TV ad Wednesday in which he invokes his belief in God. The ad first aired on the news broadcast on ABC affiliate KATV in Little Rock Tuesday evening.pryor mark"I'm not ashamed to say that I believe in God and I believe in His word," says a bespectacled Pryor, who is holding an open Bible. "The Bible teaches us no one has all the answers--only God does. And neither political party's always right."

Given The Current State Of Foreign Policy, I'd Drink, Too

While the federal government was squeezed on one side by sequester and the other by a looming partial shutdown, the State Department was spending heavily on booze for its embassies abroad. 

The Washington Times reports that the department spent about $180,000 on alcohol in September and $400,000 in all of 2012 -- that's three times the $118,000 spent in 2008.

Or is it lingering guilt over the unaddressed deaths of an ambassador and three other Americans?

Gee, No Kidding

Well-armed young women help spike growing gun-ownership numbers

Only someone who has never been to a firing range, or who hasn't been to one this century, would be surprised by this.  One of my favorite memories is teaching my niece to shoot a rifle and watching her share the range with a couple of bikers.

I'm Beginning To Notice This About Younger Clergy, Too

From what I have seen the administration is full of young people who’ve seen the movie but not read the book. They act bright, they know the reference, they’re credentialed. But they’ve only seen the movie about, say, the Cuban missile crisis, and then they get into a foreign-policy question and they’re seeing movies in their heads. They haven’t read the histories, the texts, which carry more information, more texture, data and subtlety, and different points of view. They’ve only seen the movie—the Cubans had the missiles and Jack said “Not another war” and Bobby said “Pearl Harbor in reverse” and dreadful old Curtis LeMay chomped his cigar and said “We can fry a million of ‘em by this afternoon, Mr. President.” Grrr, grrr, good guys beat bad guys.

It’s as if history isn’t real to them. They run around tweeting, all of them, even those in substantial positions. “Darfur government inadequate. Genocide unacceptable.” They share their feelings – that happens to be one of the things they seem to think is real, what they feel. “Unjust treatment of women—scourge that hurts my heart.” This is the dialogue to the movies in their heads.

An Alternative Take

Pope Francis doesn’t have to thank capitalism, a system that has done far more to alleviate poverty, his pet crusade, than the institution he leads. But he should at least stop demonizing it—not least because it enables the very activity that he cherishes most: charity.

From the comments:

"The thing you have to understand is that the Pope is from Argentina, where 'capitalism' has meant 'state-enabled vampire cronyism' since before he was born. Unsurprisingly, in that same time period Argentina has gone from one of the world’s richest countries to . . . something less."

Wednesday's Art: The Chalice of Antioch [The oldest known Eucharistic vessel]

This is currently on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

More Tales From The Secular World

NYT: What is the social benefit of these old people?

The Times really seems to think we should call it a day at 80, as they wrote of this just a few years ago, too.  Have we really become so secularized that we actually ponder the "social benefit" of people and seek to have our government and its media determine the optimum moment of life termination?

By the way, unmentioned by the author of the article is that he had heart surgery at the age of 83.  Why didn't he just surrender to the inevitable instead of having the expensive [$80,000] procedure?

These Things Will Begin To Happen More And More Often

Vandals Trash Brighton Church

I Hear America Breaking

Girl banned from selling mistletoe in park to raise money for her braces - but told she can BEG

The Circus Is Coming

With the anniversary of the Sandy Hook murders soon to arrive, I fully expect the local and national media to engage in an un-slaked bacchanal of "mourn porn" in order to boost ratings, sell some more unnecessary electronics and holiday toys, and convincingly present themselves as concerned members of the community.

At the same time, the professional grief workers will appear in any venue that will host them, produce a variety of superficial pamphlets and maybe a quickly published book or two, and create yet another opportunity for the trauma tourism that feeds their industry.

Clergy are already getting into the act, too.  There will be political "vigils" and pilgrimages to state houses and Washington D.C.

It appears that the White House doesn't want to be left out, either, judging from the e-mail I received from them this week from a fund-raising organization:

Obama campaign arm encouraging Newtown anniversary events

[An aside: Why does a second term president need a "campaign arm"?]

Speaking as one of those who was actually there, and not so that I might be spotted by a TV news crew; one who participated in the physical and emotional clean-up, I find this more than a little distasteful.

You Notice That They Never Discuss Creating "Adjunct Administrator" Positions

Pennsylvania's 14-university state system is feeling the burn of budget cuts and declining enrollment with little relief in sight.In the last few years, the universities have shed 5 percent of their permanent work force and discontinued or frozen new enrollment to 198 academic programs. But that wasn’t enough to shore up their budgets. Now universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education are looking to end programs, lay off dozens of full-time faculty members, and cut ties with numerous adjuncts and more staffers.

I was once an adjunct faculty member of one of these schools, a position that paid $1000 a year and offered no benefits.  When the enrollment would fluctuate, adjuncts would be laid off, yet new administrators would still be hired and new administrative positions created.  This has been the model for these schools, and many others in other states, for the better part of thirty years and the practice is now reaching its optimum toxicity.

Tuesday's Wave

"The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness." - William Blake

Monday, December 2, 2013

CNN puts religious liberty in scare quotes, but corrects it

Simply stated, everyone knows that the Health & Human Services mandate fights are about the First Amendment and the free expression of religion. Everyone knows that this is a religious liberty case — except legions of journalists.

Back In The '70's, And With A Bunch Of High School Kids, We Were Able To Stage Much More Complicated Plays

I'm thinking we're putting too much faith in "tech".

Technical problems plagued Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz’s Broadway revival of Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal,” forcing the cast to bravely battle on without mechanized set changes... "By 9:30 p.m., they had only got through a few more scenes, and — while the actors made a valiant attempt to continue — some in the audience became restless and left.”

A Whole Essay On "The Golden Rule" Without One Mention Of Religion

Socialism: the golden rule

Honestly, a student at Rumsey Hall could write a more coherent opinion piece.  This fellow should concentrate on real estate and leave the deep thinking to others.

"Theres" A Problem With Your Punctuation, Too

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Hope And Change

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Although, having read Pope Francis' recent statement on economics, I think that someone from Argentina is not the best person to comment on how the free market is supposed to work.

The "Fitness Room" On Board The RMS Titanic

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Give Thanks To The Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, And Government

But the first floor of the Stasi Museum is not about spying. Instead, it is devoted to the propaganda that East German bureaucrats used to foster socialist consciousness in an unwilling public. One display explains the GDR's efforts in the 1950s to politicize what in the past had been family and religious occasions. The state sought to transform weddings, confirmations, and other personal events into "socialist celebrations," to be "committed collectively and aimed at a confession to socialism," according to the awkward English translation of the exhibit.

The exhibition informs visitors that the project "did not gain popular acceptance." Amazingly enough, people didn't want to turn their family holidays into socialist celebrations.

Here at home, this Thanksgiving brings an effort by the Obama administration to turn a day of giving thanks into a day of discussion about the virtues of national health care. On Wednesday afternoon, just hours before Thanksgiving, President Obama's Twitter account -- which has more than 40 million followers -- sent out this message: "Make sure everyone who sits down with you for #Thanksgivukkah dinner is covered." ("Thanksgivukkah" refers to this year's rare overlap of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.)

The president's tweet linked to a photo of a young man sitting at a table with a turkey and a menorah. The accompanying text: "Celebrating Thanksgiving. Lighting the Hanukkah candles. Talking about health insurance. Gotta love dinners like these."

This Week's Lesser Feasts

December 4:  John of Damascus

Raised in a Muslim court, John is recognized as the last of the early church "fathers", those theologians and spiritual artists who established the foundation of established Christianity. 

As he stated: "I do not worship matter, I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter. I will not cease from honoring that matter which works for my salvation. I venerate it, though not as God."

Confirm our minds, O Lord, in the mysteries of the true faith, set forth with power by your servant John of Damascus; that we, with him, confessing Jesus to be true God and true Man, and singing the praises of the risen Lord, may, by the power of the resurrection, attain to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

December 5: Clement of Alexandria

Clement was one of the major Greek-speaking thinkers of the early church. He came from a pagan background at Athens and his Christian theology was strongly influenced by Greek philosophy. Clement taught at the catechetical school in Alexandria, Egypt, where he was succeeded by another great teacher, Origen of Alexandria.

O God of unsearchable wisdom, you gave your servant Clement grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, the source of all truth: Grant to your church the same grace to discern your Word wherever truth is found; through Jesus Christ our unfailing light, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

December 6: Nicholas of Myra

Nicholas' selection to be a bishop was unusual. After the former bishop's death, other bishops gathered to select the next bishop for the See of Myra. During the conclave, the wisest bishop heard a voice in the night telling him to watch the doors of the church the next morning at matins. The first person to enter named "Nicholas" was to be the new bishop. The wise one told the others, counseling them to be at prayer while he waited at the doors. When the hour came, the first to arrive was a young man. When asked his name, he replied, "I am Nicholas." The bishop addressed him, "Nicholas, servant and friend of God, for your holiness you shall be bishop of this place." They brought him into the church and placed him in the bishop's seat where he was to be consecrated the new Bishop of Myra.

Almighty God, in your love you gave your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness both on land and sea: Grant, we pray, that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

December 7: Ambrose of Milan

"When we speak of wisdom, we are speaking about Christ. When we speak about virtue, we are speaking about Christ. When we speak about justice, we are speaking about Christ. When we are speaking about truth and life and redemption, we are speaking about Christ." So wrote Ambrose, bishop of Milan, biblical exegete, political theorist, master of Latin eloquence, musician, and teacher; in all these roles, he was speaking about Christ.

O God, you gave your servant Ambrose grace eloquently to proclaim your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of your Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellence in preaching and faithfulness in ministering your Word, that your people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.