Thursday, February 27, 2014


Two dogs take a joyride and crash truck into river

I Don't Know. Is CNN Too Goofy?

Alfred Hitchcock's Greatest Fear

On the old Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder, sometime back in the '70's, Hitchcock revealed that his greatest fear was being arrested by mistake.  That was an interesting revelation, coming as it did from the 20th century's master of paranoia and shock.

I know how he feels.  When I was working in my last parish, the Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of Connecticut called me in some discomfort.  Her voice quivering and hesitant, she informed me that her secretary had done a routine background check on me [I had just started working in the diocese and this was and is standard practice] and discovered that I had a criminal record.  In fact, she told me that they discovered that I had served time in Virginia for...well, let's just say a heinous crime.  This was news to me and I told her so.

Here's where I first discovered how I was regarded in the corridors of power in Connecticut.  She paused and was silent for a long enough time that I thought our phones had been disconnected.  She then said, "You should come to Hartford and we can discuss what needs to be done next."

I think my response surprised her, as I said, "No."

I wasn't interested in driving from Lakeville to Hartford and back again only to explain to the powers-that-be that they had the wrong guy.  I doubt they would have believed me, anyway.  Diocesan clergy tend to be nervous around me because I'm not a woman, like to build things using tools, am physically large, and am of a personality type that doesn't automatically defer to superficial and transient authority.  In other words, I don't really belong to the diocesan club.

"Why don't you re-enter the information and use my middle name, too?  I think you'll get the correct result, then."

I had the advantage in the conversation because I had been through this ten years before when the Great Barrington police department had run a check when I applied for a Massachusetts I.D.  There is an unfortunate fellow who bears not only my first and last name, but also the same day, month, and year of my birth.  The only difference is in our middle names.  Well, and he's 6 inches shorter than I am and of a different race.

The canon did so, returned to the phone in a much more relaxed state, informed me that I wasn't a criminal, and suggested that I do something about this.  Right, it's my responsibility when the diocese runs background checks with incomplete information and doesn't bother to read physical descriptions.

Besides, in a highly bureaucratized society, there is no way to truly "take care of this", as the opportunities for human error increase dramatically with the complexity of information.

Consider, for example, this:

What's in a name? For the wrong Cody Williams, 35 days in jail 

I'm Beginning To Have Zero Tolerance For Contemporary Educators

Zero Tolerance Teaches Students Important Lessons About Authority: Don’t Share Information, Don’t Consent to Searches


Cleveland Regarded as one of America’s Most Literate Cities

That's okay.  Look how high a Connecticut city scored.  Oh, wait....

What Happens When People Write About Things They Know Little About And In Which They Have No Interest

You know, like religion and international diplomacy.

Oh, and musical instruments:

From this Sunday's Washington Post, a lovely article on the 60th anniversary of the debut of the Fender Stratocaster. The only trouble is the photo they printed to accompany the story features Jeff Beck playing a semi-hollow Gibson.

I Wish Journalists Would Quit Saying "The Science Is Settled"

The only sure thing in the universe is that journalists aren't scientists.  Science is never settled, as any scientist can tell you.  As Richard Feynman once said, "Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."

From an Open Letter to CNN:

While you ponder that, and keeping in mind that I did say the answer to your question is in your article and I would get to that, let’s examine the only fact upon which your argument rests, which is that there is a consensus among 97% of scientists.  Well Carol, I read that study.  Did you?  I’m guessing not.  Carol, that study was done by Margaret Zimerman, who sent the survey to 10,257 Earth Scientists.  Of those, 3,146 responded.  Of those, Ms. Zimmerman excluded all but 77.  That fact alone should have your journalistic instincts on high alert.  But it gets worse.

And Thus, The Terrorists Won After All

Boston Marathon bans military marchers

Thursday's Music

Good Morning, Lake City

We miss you and hope all is well.  Thanks for continuing to read these eccentric ramblings.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We're Only #2? We Can Do Better Than That.

I noticed that the governor was congratulating himself yesterday on some episode of distasteful name-calling among politicians.  Ah, the secular world.  However, those of us who raise funds for non-profits know how state spending can effect charitable giving and Connecticut's position on the chart found here is causing some alarm.  Pension liabilities account for 187% of annual state revenue? Good Lord.

An over-generous and under-funded public pension in a state with a shrinking and aging population does not make a formula for success.

Gee, No Kidding

University of Chicago Law School: Better Scholars Are Better Teachers 

Why Dads Matter

The Atlantic:

The time a dad spends with his children is a particularly strong predictor of how empathetic a child will become, according to commission of experts who wrote a proposal asking President Obama to create a White House Council on Boys and Men.  The group, which Farrell helped assemble, compiled research showing infants with dads living at home were months ahead in personal and social development.  Children who lack contact with fathers are more likely to be treated for emotional or behavioral problems.  Girls with absent or indifferent fathers are more prone to hyperactivity.  If dad is around, girls are less likely to become pregnant as teens.  As early as 1993, studies showed that dads also influenced whether their sons became teenage fathers.  A Temple University study found no boys born to teen mothers became teen fathers if they had close relationships with their biological fathers, compared to 15 percent of those who didn’t have that closeness.

The NYT On A New Yorker Article About "Atheism" And Belief

I found the New Yorker piece a bit...odd...and evocative of the current flavor in the pseudo-intellectual view of the life of faith, but the Times' Ross Douhat addresses a few of these things.

1. Among the Believers


2. Religious Experience and the Modern Self

Wednesday's Art: St. Elmo In Stained Glass

The patron saint of sailors.  This representation may be found in All Saints' Episcopal Church in San Francisco.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday's Wave

"Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness." - St. Augustine

Monday, February 24, 2014

Where I Used To Work [And May Have To, Again]

Ah, the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Those are days of fond memory, especially as I once again have to shovel some snow and chip some ice.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

This Week's Feast Days

February 27: George Herbert, Poet and Priest [1593-1633]

[Herbert] served faithfully as a parish priest, diligently visiting his parishioners and bringing them the sacraments when they were ill, and food and clothing when they were in want. He read Morning and Evening Prayer daily in the church, encouraging the congregation to join him when possible, and ringing the church bell before each service so that those who could not come might hear it and pause in their work to join their prayers with his. He used to go once a week to Salisbury to hear Evening Prayer sung there in the cathedral. On one occasion he was late because he had met a man whose horse had fallen with a heavy load, and he stopped, took off his coat, and helped the man to unload the cart, get the horse back on its feet, and then reload the cart. His spontaneous generosity and good will won him the affection of his parishioners.

Today, however, he is remembered chiefly for his book of poems, The Temple, which he sent shortly before his death to his friend Nicholas Ferrar, to publish if he thought them suitable. They were published after Herbert's death, and have influenced the style of other poets, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Several of them have been used as hymns, in particular "Teach me, my God and King," and "Let all the world in every corner sing." Another of his poems contains the lines:

Prayer, the Church's banquet, Angel's age,
God's breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, the heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth.

Our God and King, you called your servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honors to be a pastor of souls, a poet, and a priest in your temple: Give us grace, we pray, joyfully to perform the tasks you give us to do knowing that nothing is menial or common that is done for your sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

February 28: Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, Teacher [1858-1964]

Cooper was the fourth African-American woman to earn a Ph.D.  Her life as an academic is one of purpose and accomplishment, qualities she shares with many unsung [and un-feasted] Episcopalians in American history, for whom she serves as a representative.  Her placement on the church's feast calendar is due to her initial education at St. Augustine's College, an Episcopal Church institution devoted to educating black Americans. 

Almighty God, you inspired your servant Anna Julia Haywood Cooper with the love of learning and the skill of teaching: Enlighten us more and more through the discipline of learning, and deepen our commitment to the education of all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

March 1: David of Wales, Bishop [c. 500- 589]

By tradition and necessity, the Welsh developed a Christian life devoted to learning, asceticism, and missionary work. They were quite passionate about it. Since there were no cities, the centers of culture were the monasteries, with most abbots also serving as bishops. David was the founder, abbot, and bishop of the monastery of Menevia.

The custom in Celtic Christendom was for bishops to have no clear territorial diocesan jurisdiction, but to simply travel about as needed [peregrination]. With that freedom, David was able to evangelize most of Wales, and his monastery was sought out by scholars from far and near. That tradition continues in the contemporary Church of Wales, as it not only keeps the faith but serves to maintain the particular language and culture of the Welsh people.

Almighty God, who didst call thy servant David to be a faithful and wise steward of thy mysteries for the people of Wales: Mercifully grant that, following his purity of life and zeal for the gospel of Christ, we may with him receive the crown of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen.

Dying children don’t rate religious viewpoints

The journalists...sought out educators, pediatricians and medical researchers.  Naturally.  You know whom they didn’t ask?  You got it: religious leaders.  The ones who have dealt with issues of life and death, and beyond, since before the written word was invented.

False "Facts" Are Like Frankenstein's Monster

A dominant voice in victim-advocacy and research on domestic violence stands accused of flatly fabricating data.

I've worked in three different dioceses where these statistics are regarded as the near-equal of the Gospels.  The tragedy about such events is that a lot of well-intentioned people will either feel rather daunted or get defensive and continue to present the errant information with an even greater ardor.


I had a chance to speak to the Rumsey Hall students about this marvelous, and almost lost, document from the founding years of the United States. Only an Episcopalian would realize this, but his sentiment is wholly consistent with the historic theology of our particular branch of Christianity. [George was an Episcopalian, remember; and the senior warden of his home parish.]

In anticipation of Washington’s visit to Newport, the members of America’s oldest Jewish congregation prepared a letter welcoming Washington for presentation to him at a public event on the morning of August 18. The letter was authorized by the congregation’s board and signed by its president, Moses Seixas. It is Washington’s magnificent letter responding to Seixas that is known as a testament to religious freedom and that has become famous as one of the classic statements of religious toleration in America.

This, More Than Anything Else, May Also Explain The Decline In Religious Practice In The US

At least among the college educated who have been the primary membership of the Episcopal Church of the United States for the entirety of its history.
Of the Top 25 [colleges], ACTA reports, “only two require an economics course. Only three require a survey in U.S. history. Only five require a survey course in literature.” Amherst College, Grinnell College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, and Vassar College have open curricula with no requirements. Bates College, Bowdoin College, Haverford College, Oberlin College, Smith College, Swarthmore College, Wesleyan University, and Williams College do not require undergraduates to study literature, American history, the principles of American politics, or economics.
What I find particularly amazing is that, when a sizable portion of higher education budgets are dedicated to the practice and personnel required to promote "diversity" [please forgive the quotation marks, but the strict definition of that word seems to alter from campus to campus], the expectation for mastery of a language other than English has evaporated.  Frankly, having learned [and mostly forgotten] five different languages during the course of my life, I can't think of a better way to experience multiculturalism than to learn a language different from one's own.

The result, other than a spiritual gormlessness, is a social attitude mentioned in earlier postings here, here, and here.  Actually, in a number of places.

[Warning: The source from which the above material is quoted is one deemed conservative.  The earlier morning post was from a socialist source.  As I have said before and will again, the best way to learn is to consult a variety of perspectives and attitudes and form your own opinion.  If you can bear only to read periodicals and web 'zines that reflect your established point of view, please skip this posting.]

A Couple Of Gems From My Favorite Old English Newspaper

Nice to see the Spectator is still around, as it was a favorite of mine when I was a fiery, teenage Socialist.  [I lived in Europe, where all teenagers were Socialist.  Now I live in a place where people assume I'm a Republican because I own a rifle.  I live and work in a strange place.]

#1: Don’t you dare tell me to check my privilege

"It’s easy for me to sentimentalise those days when the trade unions held sway, chiming as they did with the calf country of my communism, but whatever their beery and sandwichy limits, they were far better than what replaced them; the politics of diversity. While working-class left-wing political activism was always about fighting the powerful, treating people how you would wish to be treated and believing that we’re all basically the same, modern, non-working-class left-wing politics is about… other stuff. Class guilt, sexual kinks, personal prejudice and repressed lust for power. The trade union movement gave us brother Bill Morris and Mrs Desai; the diversity movement has given us a rainbow coalition of cranks and charlatans."


#2: The church of self-worship: Sunday morning with the atheists

Friday, February 21, 2014

Yankee Ingenuity

Why pay someone to plow your parking lot when you can strap a wooden palate to a Towmotor?

Glad I Didn't Go To Swarthmore

Cancel the philosophy courses, people. Oh, and we’re going to be shuttering the political science, religion, and pre-law departments too. We’ll keep some of the English and history folks on for a while longer, but they should probably keep their résumés handy.

Because, you see, they are of no use anymore. We have the answers to the big questions, so why keep pretending there’s anything left to discuss?

At least that’s where Erin Ching, a student at Swarthmore College, seems to be coming down. Her school invited a famous left-wing Princeton professor, Cornel West, and a famous right-wing Princeton professor, Robert George, to have a debate. The two men are friends, and by all accounts they had an utterly civil exchange of ideas. But that only made the whole thing even more outrageous. 

“What really bothered me is, the whole idea is that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion,” Ching told the Daily Gazette, the school’s newspaper. “I don’t think we should be tolerating [George’s] conservative views because that dominant culture embeds these deep inequalities in our society.”

I guess "liberal arts" is defined differently than in my day, which is a pity since I learned more in the free exchange of ideas with people with whom I disagreed than I did from those who expected me simply to parrot conventional thinking.

Everything Old Is New Again

Ukraine's priests provide protest inspiration, key link to pre-Soviet era

The latest statement from the Episcopal Church in the United States may be found here.

They Goofed On Weather, But We Can Trust The Govt About Climate

Especially since it's now the State Dept. that's making climate/weather policy.

Bloomberg Media: The Official Forecast of the U.S. Government Never Saw This Winter Coming

Not One Is A Church, Naturally

50 Wedding Experts Reveal The Best Wedding Venues in Connecticut

Friday's Church: St. Peter's, Waterford, Pennsylvania

Must have been sentimental this week, as this was my "second" parish.  It was yoked with another, which I've always regarded as my first parish, since the liturgy there began at 9am and at St. Peter's at 11am.  Regardless, I served as Vicar at both, simultaneously.  I recall the congregation taught me how to make workable some aspects of ministry.

However, it was on those sanctuary steps in the photo that I was ordained a priest, so there will always be one lasting association with that parish.

Also, the parish changed to a part-time ministry about twenty years ago is, because of that sensible decision, is doing well.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Well, That's Radical Climatology, But Why Not?

Temperatures should melt snow

Choose The Headline

Headline A:  Well, It's More Interesting Than A House Of Bishops' Statement
Headline B:  But Suicide Bombing Doesn't?
Headline C:  Maybe You Should Try Uranus

Muslims have been warned in a Fatwa not to go and live on Mars because it would pose "a real risk to life", according to a Dubai news organisation.

NBC's Version Of An "Alternative Lifestyle"

Being Married With Kids And Young Now Deemed “Alternative Lifestyle”

Relax, The Police Will Protect You From Dangerous Gangs

Steampunk Carousel Outing Cut Short By Security Guards

Social Justice Committee, Venezuelan Version

Social Justice Committee, Ukrainian Version

The View From Inside "The Green Room"

This Just In

Roman Catholic Church statement on the events in Venezuela and the Ukraine: "May God shower peace and comfort down upon the people oppressed, beaten and humiliated in countries close and abroad. Mater Dei, ora pro nobis."

Episcopal Church statement: " ".

Thursday's Music: California Sun

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

He Can Now Return To Mocking Philosophy Majors

Obama Pens Personal Apology to an Art Historian

A Round-Up Of News From The Secular Paradise

At a recent meeting of clergy, we were bid to celebrate, not Jesus nor the glory which is God's nor the ongoing revelation of the Holy Spirit, but the social paradise that has been rendered to us by our secular masters in the government.  Sometimes I feel as if I fell asleep and awoke in Europe in the year 1200.  What can I take from this other than the understanding that Protestant clergy have so surrendered even the pretense of faith that they now worship The State?

Anyway, here's a round-up of evidence of secular paradise:

I Vaguely Recall We Were Promised An Era Of "Smart Diplomacy"

I know the "smart diplomacy" crack was merely a superfluous political dig at the previous administration, but I wish our current foreign policy had left itself some power to influence or otherwise address what is rapidly becoming a horror in new Europe.  Inconsistent public statements and spying on foreign leaders has pretty much rendered our international power a chimera.

We seem to have our national attention pointed towards the Olympics, some millionaire replacing another millionaire on a late night TV show, and the deep, deep concern from the Secretary of State about global warming/cooling, weather/climate change.  Meanwhile...

NYT: "With hundreds of riot police officers advancing from all sides after a day of deadly mayhem here in the Ukrainian capital, antigovernment protesters mounted a final desperate and seemingly doomed act of defiance late on Tuesday evening, establishing a protective ring of fire around what remained of their all-but-conquered encampment on Independence Square.

Feeding the blazing defenses with blankets, tires, wood, sheets of plastic foam and anything else that might burn, the protesters hoped to prolong, for a while longer at least, a tumultuous protest movement against President Viktor F. Yanukovych, a leader who was democratically elected in 2010 but is widely reviled here as corrupt and authoritarian. 

“It is called the tactic of scorched earth,” said a protester who identified himself as Andriy."

And don't get me started on Venezuela.

Clearly, They Never Had The Daily Special From Iafelicci's In Cleveland

Military Scientists Create Pizza That Lasts for Three Years

Choose Your Headline

Headline A:  Never Question the Perception of Astronomers
Headline B:  Perhaps a Prayer to St. Anthony Would Help
Headline C:  Rather Like What Happens to My Car Keys

The mammoth asteroid set to fly by Earth last night just disappeared

Choose Your Headline

Headline A:  Never Question The Perception Of Economists
Headline B:  Never Question The Intelligence Of Headline Editors
Headline C:  These Are The People Determining Our Tax Code
Headline D:  Derp

The Future Will Be Different From the Past, Economists Conclude

About Time

The first Meyers Manx to go on National Historic Vehicle Register

Yep, They Were Surfing In New Jersey This Week

The cold and snow cut down on the crowds, you see.

What A Wave Looks Like From Below

This is a view I've seen way, way too often.

Wednesday's Art: 'Landscape in the Adirondacks' ~ Frederic Edwin Church, 1878.

You may "click" to enlarge.

There Are Whales Alive Today Who Were Born Before Moby Dick Was Written

Smithsonian: Some of the bowhead whales in the icy waters off of Alaska today are over 200 years old

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Is This The Definition Of 'Hoosier'?

Indiana court rules that being drunk and annoying is not against the law

North Carolina's Governor Has An Interesting Employment Policy For His Citizenry

Good God, a peasant treated royalty in a manner befitting a commoner.  Begone, prole!

An employee at a Myers Park gourmet food store was fired after Gov. Pat McCrory’s security detail complained Sunday about a comment the worker made to the governor.

Paleo Isn't All That Bad-eo

These 11 Charts Show Everything That's Wrong With The Modern Diet

Relax, Let The Police Be The Ones With The [Stun] Guns.

Police Beat, Stun Deaf Man After Confusing Sign Language With Threatening Gestures

While The Media Are Mostly Interested In The Olympics And Some Late Night TV Host, Serious Things Are Going On In The World

Time For A New Hobby

Surfing pig catches waves, turns heads in Hawaii

If You See Something, Say Something

NJ road salt shortage continues as Homeland Security prevents delivery.

News From The Cauldron Of Free Expression That Is The Post-Modern University

UConn football coach who invoked Jesus in huddle resigns

Because if your religion is actually your pattern of living, it scares people and makes them feel "unwelcome" and "offended".  He's lucky he wasn't burned at the stake.

"The man who converted me from atheism."

An interesting meditation, from a woman who is now a priest in the Church of England, about the 17th century Anglican priest and poet, George Herbert.  

Herbert's feast day is next week, just so you know.

A Really Interesting Essay

Christian Commitment, Symbolism, and Farming

I mean it's snowing again and sometimes reading is the best way to combat the "rectory fever".  Well, I happen to have a lot of office work to do today, but there's always time for this.

The author, if you're interested, is a Litchfield County farmer.

Tuesday's Wave

"Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, February 17, 2014

Choose Your Headline

Heading A:   Guess The State
Headline B:   It's Time For Strict Filet Control
Headline C:   Maybe It Was Chuck Steak

Woman Assaulted Supermarket Worker With Pair Of "Special Cut Filet"

Maybe We Need Just One Bishop

The States People Are Fleeing In 2014

Yeah, This Is This Week's Winner

Best headline of the week and one, I assure you, that was an absolute pleasure for the editor to compose.

LSD user breaks into neighbors apartment thinking he is 24's Jack Bauer before he puts all their clothes in the bathtub and stuffs their credit cards inside a chocolate muffin

They should have maintained their perimeter.  [That's a 24 reference, for those of you "culturally" unaware of sublime entertainment.]

A Denominational Note On Presidents' Day

Episcopal Presidents of the United States:

George H.W. Bush
Gerald Ford
Franklin Roosevelt
Chester Arthur
Franklin Pierce
Zachary Taylor
John Tyler
William Henry Harrison
James Monroe
James Madison
George Washington

The Very First Harley-Davidson

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Faith in science?

Regardless, while one should trust science as a method — honestly done, science remains the best way at getting to the truth on a wide range of factual matters — there’s no particular reason why one should trust scientists and especially no particular reason why one should trust the people running scientific institutions, who often aren’t scientists themselves. 

In fact, the very core of the scientific method is supposed to be skepticism. We accept arguments not because they come from people in authority but because they can be proven correct — in independent experiments by independent experimenters. If you make a claim that can’t be proven false in an independent experiment, you’re not really making a scientific claim at all. 

And saying, “trust us,” while denouncing skeptics as — horror of horrors — “skeptics” doesn’t count as science, either, even if it comes from someone with a doctorate and a lab coat.

I was reminded of this when some "science guy" taking part in a debate got the North and South Poles confused on national TV.  These are the people who are not to be questioned, huh?

Sunday Night Fun

10 Eerie Ghost Stories From New England Graveyards

I have a dispute, though, about #4 being the most haunted place in Connecticut.  The fire department on which I served had to find some New Yorkers lost in the woods in Cornwall once and we had to walk through Dudleytown at sunset.  That is one creepy place.  I've heard some hair-raising stories about the area from some of the locals, too.

The weirdest part?  We were in those woods for three hours and I never saw a bird, a deer, or any other familiar woodland fauna.  I didn't even hear insects.  [Shudder.]

This Week's Feast Days. Well, Feast Day.

February 17th:  The Most Rev. Janani Luwum of Uganda

Archbishop Luwum is a recent addition, yet one who fits the traditional mold of Christian martyrdom.  Luwum was the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda when Idi Amin seized power in the early 1970's.  In events that would seem remarkably familiar to any student of early Christianity, Luwum challenged the dictator for his excessive, often brutal, treatment of the Ugandan people.  In return, the Archbishop was arrested, told to read from a prepared "confession" and then executed on this day in 1977.  While the government originally claimed him to be a victim of an automobile accident, his body, when released to his family, bore wounds consistent with multiple gunshots.  It has always been rumored that he was martyred by Amin himself.

Above, on the right, is the statue to Luwum that is found in the martyr's corner at Westminster Abbey.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I'm Guessing Alcohol Was Involved

Flowerpot-wearing man robs gas station with chainsaw

I always wanted stories like this when I worked for newspapers.  Instead, I got to cover the town's sewer board.  Ew.

I Almost Said "Wow, That's Stupid", But Then I Remembered My Profession

I also realized I don't have a lot of deep interest in what college students think anymore.

A student at Swarthmore College thinks that in order to ensure that students are "hearing a diversity of opinion," the institution should "not be tolerating" the "conservative views" of a prominent alumnus.


Our parking lot is plowed and mostly de-iced [Is that a word?], but it will get icy, again, overnight and we will get more snow today. Please understand we are exercising reasonable care in keeping the lot and walkways clear and doing all that is humanly possible, but caution should always be exercised by those who venture about in February in Connecticut.

Take The Quiz; It's Fun

Quiz: Are You in a Cultural Bubble?

I scored an 80%, which means my "cultural bubble is large and permeable".  Yeah, that happens when you're from humble and diverse circumstances and live in six different cities or towns over a 25 year period.

A colleague of mine, a long-time New York Episcopal priest, took it and scored, hahaha, a 10%.  I think that's higher than some of my colleagues in Connecticut would score.

If you live in a cultural bubble, you can't evangelize.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Best Snowmen Ever

The Day

Surfers know something about Valentine’s Day or, as it is known around our house, The Feast of St. Valentine. Valentine was an irregular saint, to be sure, dropped from the Roman martyrology for reasons that still seem unclear, but then I’ve never really understood the politics of canonization. But for all of the candy hearts and increasingly expensive greeting cards, there is something that happens in his octave that is the portent for all good things to come. Namely, in mid-February, the shape of the waves begins to change.

There will be many who will dispute this, but those would be people who limit their understanding of nature to meteorology or physics or astronomy. Some of us still use the ancient art, so liminal as to be pre-verbal, of rud a bheithsa dúchas agat to understand tides and gravity. We so often watch the waves, are so often immersed in them, observant of their nature and their potential for transport, that, in a crude translation from the Celtic above, “their nature is in our blood”. We know that the waves have changed and that winter’s power is diminishing and, even if we should suffer still more snow and ice, it will be of shorter lease and far less strength.

In short, we’re through the worst of it.

The Inevitable Article From Surfer Today

The unexplored surfing treasures of Sochi

Friday's Church: St. Andrew's, Harlem

The oldest Episcopal parish in Harlem in NYC.  Also, the rector is an old friend of mine.  Click to enlarge.

The Wages Of Sin. Or Narcissism.

'Selfie' photo leads to arrest in California church burglary

Tough Times For New York's Needy

Sochi yogurt going to NY’s needy… but they don’t want it

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Guess The State

The National Guard’s 52nd Civil Support Team held a training drill last year which pitted members against a sinister janitor who concocted chemical weapons in two makeshift labs, unleashing them on middle school students before killing himself. Inside the lair of the creepy custodian, identified as “Mr. Wart,” agents found “several statements about protecting Gun Rights and Second Amendment rights” on a chalkboard as well as on tables, according to the training packet.

Yes, the greatest threat to America is people who support the Bill of Rights.

A Marvelously Pungent Question

Forbes Magazine: A Lot Of Good Research Doesn't Get Funded, So Why Are We Wasting Money On Crap?

I Know This Is Facetious, But It Made Me Chuckle

New bill would require WH dinners to follow same as school lunch guidelines

Imagine politicians in Washington D.C. having to live within their own laws, regulations, and guidelines.  [One of the great moments in U.S. history is when President Harding, right after Prohibition became law, saw to the establishment of a private saloon down the street from the White House so that he and his friends would have a place to drink.]

And Her Qualifications For The Position Are...?

The Hill: Obama taps Kennedy widow for postal board

Sometimes contemporary reporters forget details like that.

Relax, Let The Professionals Handle The Guns. They'll Protect You.

Police Shoot, Kill 80-Year-Old Man In His Own Bed, Don't Find the Drugs They Were Looking For

"When it was all over, Eugene Mallory died of six gunshot wounds from Sgt. John Bones' MP-5 9mm submachine gun."

Civilians have not been permitted machine guns since 1934 [Connecticut politicians would have you believe otherwise by labeling the most popular 21st century rifle design an "assault weapon"]. Perhaps the police shouldn't have them, either.

Deranged? Fuggedaboutit.

Newark Star Ledger: "An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Drewniak referred to the Port Authority's executive director as a 'piece of crap.' While Drewniak did call him a 'piece of excrement,' it was David Wildstein who referred to the executive director as a 'piece of crap.'"

Porangi [Maori for "Deranged"]

He's been to a doctor and a vet just to make sure, but New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key is adamant he's not a shapeshifting reptilian alien.


Wisconsin Assembly approves bill legalizing rubber duck races

Sow The Wind, Reap The Whirlwind

Amid the continuing outrage over U.S. spying practices, countries around the world are doing what they can to curb Washington’s digital capabilities. Yesterday, EU leaders issued a policy paper laying out a timetable for reducing American influence over the governance of the Internet, citing the NSA spying scandal as a justification for doing so:

Musings On Another Snow Day

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio.  In my childhood and youth, my part of town was, like the rest of the "Rust Belt", a manufacturing powerhouse and the home of industries such as TRW, Fisher Body, Lincoln Electric, and Euclid Trucks.  Before I was 20-years-old, I had worked in three warehouses and a factory.  If you don't recognize any of those names, it's because you never owned a credit card, flew in an airplane, owned or otherwise rode in a General Motors vehicle, passed by a construction site, or welded. Okay, I'll give you that last one.

Cleveland also had a near 50/50 racial population.  Yes, there were some Hispanics, mostly from Puerto Rico, and some Asians, but that was a very small population in those days.  The city was run by whites and blacks; and, as in cities such as Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia, and New Orleans, the two racial groups abided with one another more easily than in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles.

Cleveland had the first black mayor, Carl Stokes, of a major American city.  Whites and blacks voted for him.  JFK's leading campaigner in the 1960 presidential election was Carl's brother, Louis, who would become a long-serving congressman.  As a kid I knew the music of Jimmy Smith, Sun Ra, and The Rev. James Cleveland.  Kids from other places in the USA dug The Archies; I could not get enough James Brown.  I would listen to the Cavs play on the radio and then stay tuned to hear the sermons from the First Baptist Church.

I had black schoolmates, work colleagues, and friends.  My first real job was as a teacher in an inner city high school where I taught in classrooms that represented the city's demographic. In the days before I had to be conscious of my diet and general fitness, I loved neckbone and collards.  My parents would often take in kids from disadvantaged homes, both black and white.  Such was the dinner table in my house.  At another time in my life, my colleagues and I were told that "We wear blue and green; we bleed red.  That's all."

Imagine my surprise when I came to Connecticut to work and live and found myself in parishes and towns that not only had no black members or residents, but where people had never had a black friend; had never been in a black family's house as a guest, had never sat on crates with other whites and blacks during a lunch break and laughed about common experiences.

Imagine being in Connecticut and realizing that an ordained colleague didn't know what a "West Indian" was, or that senior clergy, including those serving on committees to address racial concerns, didn't know the difference between a West Indian, Afro-American, or Ethiopian; and who attempted to address the disparate concerns of those groups as if they were monolithic.  Why were these the people in charge?  Was it solely because they "felt" concern, even though they had no active history of actually addressing concern?  Was this why, in the company of liberal-minded whites, I always felt as if the goal of diocesan racial programs and multiple clergy visits to Africa was to make everyone embrace white values and perspectives; to become, in the words of a black colleague, "little whites"?

Yet these were the people who designed the Episcopal Church's world view in racial matters.  This may, I guess, be the reason that the titular head of the Anglican Communion is a white man who was selected over the Ugandan-born Archbishop of York.  This, despite the fact that our world-wide church is predominantly black.

I'm guessing this is also why many of my white colleagues treat the current President of the United States as if he is the near-messiah, which seems terribly unfair to him.  Since they have never had any black friends or been in a black house except, perhaps, for the exercise of ministry, Barack Obama is the black friend they never had.  I suspect, and I may be wrong, that it may alleviate any secret fears on their part that they are racist.  That Obama sticker on a car bumper is like one of those ancient pardons issued from the Vatican.

So, the comments I came across on the weblog quoted from and linked to below resonated, to say the least.  I had read the Slate article that's referenced, and, like most articles in Slate, it sounded like something one would hear at a meeting of white clergy: Well-intended, inexperienced, pseudo-intellectual, and naive.

But I also invite you to read the following, which is shorter than the Slate piece, offered by a law professor from Madison, Wisconsin:

Here's a HuffPo piece that had him going on about how he has no black friends, even though he's totally liberal and lives in NYC.  He's "never even been inside a black person's house."  So that's his background.  Why he's the person to declare and explain the failure of affirmative action and to propose a solution, I do not know.  Does Slate know?  Obviously, Slate's publishing the article boosts Colby's stature as an expert on this topic.  It's why I'm reading Colby's piece.  But I can see the reasons why Slate would publish this.  It knows its readers are mostly white liberals, and it's easy to guess that they're susceptible to the narcissistic question: Where are my black friends? (Obama counts as one friend, but he's always so busy.)

Read both pieces, if you have the time and inclination.  They both have valid points that are in need of some consideration.

I Recall That Independent Schools Were The Most Creative Places I Ever Worked

Thursday's Music

This is what LA jazz sounded like in the 1970's.  Compare and contrast this with Art Pepper to see the evolution in sound and style.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

After Thirty-Some Years Of Listening To People Complain They're "Offended", I'm With Stephen Fry

You will recognize Hugh Laurie, who plays the "offended" woman, from the American TV show, House.

Time To Play Guess The State

Man 'pepper-sprayed post office worker and bit him in the leg because he didn't receive a check he was expecting in the mail'

Relax, Let The Professionals Handle The Guns. They'll Protect You.

Eight Police Officers Fire 103 Times At Two Unarmed Women Delivering Newspapers . . . Commission Rejects Calls For Any Officer To Be Fired Or Even Suspended

Reverse the players in this drama and try to guess for how long the two women would be sentenced to prison.


When the sisters of Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles aren't hard at work on the monastery grounds, they're topping the charts with albums of sacred music. The group's Angels and Saints at Ephesus topped the Billboard classical charts, and now it's releasing its latest, Lent at Ephesus. Mother Cecilia, prioress of the abbey in rural Missouri and the group's arranger, tells NPR's Renee Montagne, "We're not fabricating anything; this is just music we're pulling from our life, our everyday life."

I Would Collect Philosopher Trading Cards...

...if there were such things.  When I was a kid the Holy Grail of baseball cards was Rocky Colavito's, the Cleveland Indians' best player in those days.  I finally got one, after years of trying, that still sits in a frame in my former bedroom in my parents' house.  Man, that was the best bubble gum I ever had.  It was the gum of victory.

I may have found what is for me the Rocky Colavito of philosophy: Roger Scruton.  He is a contemporary philosopher, an aestheticist, who writes some of the most wonderful common sense; which, after all, is what philosophy is supposed to be.

I think we'll feature a daily dose of Scruton during the days of Lent.  Here's a nice place to start:

"Contemporary atheism is the desire to escape from the eye of judgement. You escape from the eye of judgement by blotting out the face - most assertively the Face of God."

Now I want his autograph.

As A Youngster, No One Made Me Laugh Harder

Sid Caesar, comic genius of 1950s television, dies

Yet Again. What's Up, O & G?

Firefighters Battle Blaze At Kleen Energy Plant In Middletown

There May Be A Metaphor In This

Sinkhole Swallows 8 Cars at National Corvette Museum

After all, the Corvette is the only true sports car ever made by Detroit.

And To Think There Are Politicians Who Want To Restrict Citizens From Using 3-D Printers

Kansas teen uses 3-D printer to make hand for boy

Wednesday's Art: Sagrada Familia con San Juan Bautista niño by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Airport security confiscates Woody doll’s miniature toy gun?


Frenchman Fined For 'Theft' And 'Fraudulent Retention' For Finding Health Docs Via A Google Search

I Know How You Feel

National Journal: Why I'm Getting Sick of Defending Obamacare

After all, I was one of many clergy invited to hear of the brave, new world of the Affordable Care Act when it was still a gleam in the dustman's eye, as it were.  We were assured by government types that this would save, SAVE!, the poor and elderly in our communities from economic ruin.  Many of my perpetually dewy-eyed ordained colleagues, who are mostly the children of privilege who will never know economic ruin, nodded and smiled as if the Messiah had returned. 

After over three decades of listening to politicians and government bureaucrats patiently explain to me how their program of shoveling tax dollars and free labor to their cronies in corporations [if Republicans] or unions [if Democrats] will mean the liberation of the human race, especially the impoverished and children, in ways un-dreamt of in apocalyptic literature, I tend to be less than enthralled.

So-called Obamacare was sold to clergy harder than anything I can recall.  This meant that it was destined to be more expensive, less helpful, and far, far more complicated and confusing than what was being adamantly promised by the functionaries who were meeting with us to define our role in their version of reality.  Such has been the case, as anyone save a secular ideologue can admit.

This is why Christianity needs to embrace its history as a belief practice that is "in, but not of, the world."  The more often we are expected to serve as shills for a secular ideology, the further away we get from what was taught by Jesus.

Related news: to be out of service

8 To 12 People In Roxbury Rely On Our Food Pantry For Their Sustenance

A slab of dry-aged rib eye beef, American caviar and salad "representing" the first lady's garden will be on the four-course menu for the elegant state dinner being given by President Barack Obama for French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday.

And Mary J. Blige will perform, too.  Were you invited?

Obama talks about addressing inequality; Hollande is a socialist who believes everyone should have the same amount of everything.  And I'm the cynic, huh?

Prepare For Maximum Orwell

The New Yorker suggests a change in language to encourage the proles to see cold weather as something far more nefarious:

A slight change in presentation, however, may shift attitudes in the direction of climate science and away from the vicissitudes of local weather. A study out this month, from the Cardiff University psychologists Stuart Capstick and Nicholas Pidgeon, found that periods of exceptionally cold weather in the United Kingdom had the opposite effect as they did in the United States: more people believed in the truth of climate change. The reason for the difference? The media had framed the weather within the context of climate change, emphasizing that it was unnatural, rather than simply cold. Perhaps if people here were told that it’s not just brutal out there, it’s unnaturally brutal, they, too, might jump to a different conclusion.

This reminds me of something that is credited to Confucius:

"If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything."

In The East, People Parade With Their Tractors. Pshaw, In The Midwest, We Square Dance With 'Em

Skip to the 22nd minute to see the glory of a well-handled machine.

This Is A Spoof

Conservative Acquaintance Annoyingly Not Racist

Despite being fictional, I feel as if I know Diana Hardwick.  Although in my world she would have "The Rev." in front of her name.

The last sentence is a classic.

Archaeological News

The Archaeology of the Stars

Deranged, Etc.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hundreds of people with HIV/AIDS in Louisiana trying to obtain coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform are in danger of being thrown out of the insurance plan they selected in a dispute over federal subsidies and the interpretation of federal rules about preventing Obamacare fraud.

The People In Charge Of The Law Are Deranged

A Washington, D.C. man is facing a large fine and possible jail time after he was arrested for having an inoperable shotgun shell in his home. The shell was a souvenir that Mark Witaschek decided to keep from a hunting trip years earlier.

This Won't Make The News Because, Y'Know, Olympics...

...but Christians should know of it, before we become disjointed from the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ elsewhere in the world.

Muslim v Christian in the CAR?

Tuesday's Wave

"You live in a deranged age - more deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing." - Walker Percy

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Real Reason The Govt Doesn't Want You To Smoke

Will Nicotine Make You Smarter?

To Whom Is This A Surprise?

According to the 1996 General Social Survey, those who strongly agreed that “the government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality” gave away $140 on average to charity. Among those who strongly disagreed, the average gift was $1,637.

Of Course

The other day I found it amusing that the author of an article about work in the United States was a "professor of leisure studies" at the University of Iowa.  I didn't know this was now an academic discipline, but clearly I am ignorant of current trends in higher education.

Also, it appears that author is good at his job.  Consider this:

University of Iowa Is Top Party School

So, how do I get a job like this?


Historically, there often seems to be a belief that if one is in public support of onerous laws, one may be absolved from following them.

A N.Y. community activist who is well known for pushing for a restrictive 2013 gun control law has been arrested for carrying a gun illegally at a public elementary school.


"Among much else, the 2013 law, deemed New York’s SAFE Act, made it a felony to carry a gun on school property...."

Send this man to Washington D.C., home of the people who mandate medical insurance and then exempt themselves from it.

How Can That Be?

Forbes: Obamacare's Restaurant Calorie-Label Mandate Is A Complete Mess

Do you mean to say that the government has a made a right hash out of a mandated program?  That's never, ever happened before, has it?

In reality-land, where I am forced to dwell, there are approximately 159,000 websites dedicated to providing the calorie count for the food we consume, from "fast food" to its slower cousins prepared in the kitchen.  I even have a wristband device that helps me track my own consumption.  Anyone who wants to know the calories involved in their meal may find the information in fewer than thirty seconds. If they have an internet-equipped phone, they may do so at the restaurant while they're eating.  A couple of sites even let you take a photo of the meal and deduce its caloric content from that.  This modern age, eh?

There is no need for a mandate.  Those who wish to know the caloric count of their meal may find it easily; those who don't care will continue to be apathetic.  All this does is create more headaches for franchisees and small business owners.  Well, and it causes the rather sad bits of human material that make up our political class to feel a sense of power over the citizenry, which I suspect is the real reason behind many onerous laws.

Such is the world.  Thank God we are of the Kingdom.

This Concerns Me A Little

Delayed: Obamacare’s employer mandate for small businesses

Historically, when a government plays fast and loose with any law, not only does it weaken the law and create a distrust of leadership, but it encourages individual citizens to freely determine their own compliance to a whole host of laws.  How dare they?

Coincidentally, it's estimated that as many as one million people in Connecticut have ignored registering their newly outlawed weapons or empty metal boxes [aka magazines or "clips"] under the useless new gun control laws.

Which Is Why I'm Surrendering My Gym Membership

Gym memberships add Obamacare tax

[Actually it's because I find the cleaning crew at my gym to be less than competent, I'm not interested in classes in the latest fitness fad, and I can't keep track of which machines work and which don't, but I'd rather it look like some political action.  I am an Episcopal priest, after all.]

This Is Why One Should Never Listen To Critics

What the critics wrote about the Beatles in 1964

Yes. Next Question, Please.

Is Atheism Irrational?

Maybe Your Children, Lady. Not Mine.

The Bible has disappeared from our children's lives

The Bible always worked better as a subversive work wrought in the hands of radicals, anyway.  I'm looking forward to it returning to that original purpose.

I Was Beginning To Think My Distaste For Canned Music And Auto-Tuned Singers Was A Generational Thing. Nope.

The Guys In My Neighborhood, Circa 1960

Sunday, February 9, 2014

CBS News: Has Media Ignored Sex Abuse In School?

Hofstra University researcher Charol Shakeshaft looked into the problem, and the first thing that came to her mind when Education Week reported on the study were the daily headlines about the Catholic Church. 

"[T]hink the Catholic Church has a problem?" she said. "The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests."

Forgive Me If I Seem To Be Dwelling On This, But I Was One Of The Responders

4 Years After Deadly Plant Explosion: No Ban On Gas Blows, Fines Slashed

This quotation rankles somewhat:

"OSHA fined 17 companies it said had 'blatantly disregarded' industry standards, with the biggest penalty assessed against general contractor O&G Industries of Torrington. The deadly blast also focused national attention on the risky practice of using flammable gas to clear pipes."


" the years since the blast, the federal government agreed to deals that will wipe out as much as 88 percent of the fines levied against the companies it determined were responsible for the explosion, a Courant review of documents related to the case has revealed."

"Responsible for the explosion...." is a nicer way of saying "the death of six human beings".

Some Potential Coral Reef Re-Building Material Is Being Sent Our Way

Thanks, guys.


[You hear a sound like a turbine winding up?  Yeah, it's the Second Marine Division.  They protect the Eastern seaboard.  You know, just in case....]

This Week's Best Sentence

LaBeouf has developed a reputation for tweeting famous apologies from other celebrities after he plagiarized an apology to apologize for plagiarizing comic Daniel Clowes for his short film

Number of Americans Who Renounced U.S. Citizenship Soars

This is no surprise as more and more Americans gain employment or retire overseas.  Given that expatriate Americans are the only people in the world expected to pay taxes not only to the country in which they live and work, but also to the United States, there is considerable savings involved in renunciation.

God's Grandeur Extends From Earth, Of Course

Photos of Mars from the Curiosity Rover

The People In Charge Of The Law Are Deranged

A group of seniors in Washington state is pushing back against the state Gambling Commission's decision to shut down their nickel-and-dime card games at a local senior center due to local ban on card games with money.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

This Week's Feast Days

On February 13th, 1804, The Rev. Absalom Jones was ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church of the United States.  While the Church itself was in its infancy, as we had officially claimed separation from the Church of England a mere twenty years before, the event of this ordination established our individual identity before the world.  Fr. Jones, you see, was a freed slave and the first black man to be ordained in our tradition.  In fact, he was the first to receive sacramental ordination in any American Christian church or denomination.
Set us free, heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear; that, honoring the steadfast courage of your servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

February 14: Cyril and Methodius

While most people think of St. Valentine on the 14th, on the Episcopal Church's calendar we remember Sts. Cyril and Methodius, remarkable brothers who were priests, missionaries, and the creators of the Slavic language.  It's a good story, and well renedered at this link.

Almighty and everlasting God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you moved your servant Cyril and his brother Methodius to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people: Overcome all bitterness and strife among us by the love of Christ, and make us one united family under the banner of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

February 15: Thomas Bray

Although he only spent a brief time in the colonies, Bray established the two organizations that built missions and parishes throughout the New World, including the original Christ Church.  Those organizations, now 300 years old, remain active to this day.  More may be read of him at their site.  He also, among other endeavors, founded a number of lending libraries that enabled the Church of England in the colonies to champion colonial literacy and education; and was also responsible for the creation of what would become the state of Georgia.  Not bad for a parish priest in England.

O God of compassion, you opened the eyes of your servant Thomas Bray to see the needs of the Church in the New World, and led him to found societies to meet those needs: Make the Church in this land diligent at all times to propagate the Gospel among those who have not received it, and to promote the spread of Christian knowledge; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Big Deal, So Did My Gerbil

77-year-old walks around the world on treadmill

Actually, good for him.  Any age, everyone....

It's Not The Article, Which Is Dull When It's Not Bland

Look to the bottom of the page and read the author's short bio.  Apparently, that's a real "job".  I wonder how all the parents and college graduates in six figure hock feel about that.  This is a spoof, right?
If the person who walks his dog through my church parking lot, driveway, and churchyard does not pick up after it [for the third time], I will happily feature his visage on YouTube. Yeah, we have cameras. Welcome to the 21st century, where public shaming has made a return.  That's actually good, as it is a potent force for public welfare.

All it takes is a little awe to make you feel religious

Why There Are No Atheists at the Grand Canyon

First World Problems

Neighbors said to fear 'transient academics'

According To The New York Times, This May Be The End Of Snow

They may wish to consult this current weather map, which shows over two-thirds of the United States covered with snow.

I'm beginning to think that anyone who presents herself or himself as a weather/climate expert really needs to go sit in the corner for awhile.  Step away from the computer, now!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Archaeological News

Archaeologists Carbon-Date Camel Bones, Discover Major Discrepancy In Bible Story

The "discrepancy" is apparent only to non-theists or literalists, I suspect.  As Biblical archaeologist William Dever once said, and is quoted in the article,

"We want to make the Bible history. Many people think it has to be history or nothing. But there is no word for history in the Hebrew Bible. In other words, what did the biblical writers think they were doing? Writing objective history? No. That's a modern discipline. They were telling stories. They wanted you to know what these purported events mean."

Are The People Who Run This Country Completely Deranged?

Unemployment Is Freedom


Fla. Bill Banning Suspension for Gun-Shaped Pop-Tarts Moves Forward

Clearly, The English Need To Consider Stronger Toast And Butter Control Laws

British woman allegedly assaults husband with toast, butter

Clearly, The French Need To Consider Stronger Frozen Chicken Control Laws

Frenchman jailed for frozen chicken attack

Throw The Book At Him

Cortland County man charged with putting ex-girlfriend's guitar in snow bank

Friday's Church: St. Cyprian's, St. Augustine, Florida

No One Has Yet Answered For This, Nor For The Fact That No Emergency Plan Or Map Was Available For The First Responders

Fourth Anniversary of the Middletown Kleen Energy Plant Explosion

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Learned Powerlessness

I'm cautious about commenting on this, especially as it's a touchy issue.  Still, so many are using the death of an actor by narcotic misadventure as a platform for expressing a great deal of bosh concerning addiction and drug policy, I thought it might be interesting to mention the latest perspective on treatment.  This is so new that it will take the Episcopal Church another twenty years to recognize it.

Of course, by then, treatment professionals will have moved to the next level.

[An aside: I'm fatigued by people who have started talking about the "heroin epidemic" in the United States over the last couple of days.  As a former urban rector who has done his share of funerals for those who have O.D.'d on drugs, this is not a new problem at all.  Pardon the radicalism, but what is new is that the latest victim was a wealthy, white man who was beloved by the media class; so now we're allowed to notice a problem.  I'm very sorry that that's what it takes, but so be it.]

We have been informed by most professionals that addiction is a disease. Certainly, given the success of most disease-oriented programs, this is a sound approach. However, it has been noticed that the label "disease" has convinced many addicts that theirs is a hopeless case with little or no chance of true recovery.  The thinking is that since there is no cure for addiction, sooner or later it will kill you. Thus, treatment theory becomes another rationalization for chronic drug use.  Of late, this has been increasingly frustrating to the professionals.

A number of therapists and treatment specialists are advancing a new way to address the paradox of "addiction as disease".  The latest theory is that those combating addiction can fall into a state of learned powerlessness; scientific evidence and analysis appears to show that the natural arc is for the most addicts to "mature" out of the disorder.  Learned powerlessness does not permit this maturity to occur.

This is based on a 1962[!] study entitled "Maturing Out of Narcotic Addiction" from which this telling quotation is written:

The difference between those who mature out of addiction and those who do not may also mirror the difference between addicts who struggle to abandon addiction and may develop some insight, and those who decide that they are 'hooked,' make no effort to abandon addiction, and give in to what they regard as inevitable."

More studies made subsequent to that initial study may be found in this 2012 document.  The end result is that contemporary treatment programs are beginning to seek to avoid learned powerlessness and are likely to bring some evolution to the "addiction as disease" narrative. As there is a lot of money being made through traditional treatment programs, I imagine this will not be an easy change.

[A disclaimer: Addiction treatment is not my field; I'm just noting a discernible change in medical and societal regard for it.  My main interest in any of this, I guess, is a desire never to have to officiate at the funeral of an overdose victim again.]

Well, That's Cheaper Than A Wedding

Wednesday's Art: Santo Tomás de Aquino by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I Think This Is Guaranteed In The Constitution Somewhere

You CAN Carry Your Guitar on a Plane. It’s the Law.

In case you were wondering, United has the worst reputation among professional guitarists for destroying guitars in the airline's "care".

As We've Noted Before, The Irony Of War Is That It Leads To Med/Tech Innovation

How A Simple New Invention Seals A Gunshot Wound In 15 Seconds

Another Facet Of Our Brave, New World

Washington Post:

As a small-business employer, I have seen a disturbing downward talent drift in job candidates — most acutely in the past five years. When a job candidate’s first question is about vacation days or benefits, we know we have encountered collateral damage from the teachers and parents who believed in “softening the learning experience.” Armed with a meaningless bachelor’s degree from colleges and universities that allowed majors in non-core subjects, we see youngsters who cannot write, research or think analytically. Their lack of discipline is evident in job applications filled with typos and cover letters that reveal no interest in teamwork or service — rather, they emphasize their high opinion of themselves. (Many young job seekers come forward with an executive attitude that is backed by zero capabilities).

There Is A Distinct Possibility

Will The Overselling Of Global Warming Lead To A New Scientific Dark Age?

Now This Is Environmental News Worth Posting

Removing the Long Beach Breakwater could bring back the city’s long-lost surf