Friday, November 28, 2008


New end of the world movie out.

It's got everything man,

giant tornadoes, a tidal wave that eats New York, that stock shot we love of people running down a street in Manhattan while cars fly through the air behind them, the top of the Empire State Building crashing into the ground, CG space aliens who want to eat our brains...and John Cusack.

what more can a movie offer, I ask you.

I'd be happy if they just kept making the same Endoftheworld movie over and over and...



(OK, I admit it. The shot of the water coming over the top of the Himalayas was pretty good.)
So, I've been reading a bit about Gramsci's theories:

Further recessions and contradictions would then spark the working class to overthrow capitalism in a revolution, restructure the economic, political, and social institutions on rational socialist models, and begin the transition towards an eventual communist society.


Dude, hate to burst your bubble, but

have you met the working class?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Liberal to succeed Lehmann.

Are you serious? How is it possible to stand someone next to Lehmann and say, "Boy, this guy is really a liberal"?

One has to wonder if there is some kind of limit to being a "liberal" in the Church. I mean, at what point does one simply fall off the scale?

Thoughtcrime of the Day: "Black history month" is a government-sponsored exercise in racism


Nope, no double standard under here. Dunno what you're talking about. Racism is just a white vice, isn't it?

Matthew Collins from anti-fascist organisation Searchlight, said: “This odious campaign reveals the BNP’s true colours. Their views on history have always been selective...

Know what else is "selective"? The media's willingness to identify the ideological origins of certain groups.

But I'm always willing to lend a hand.

Searchlight Magazine (and Searchlight Educational Trust):The magazine is published by political activist Gerry Gable and edited by Nick Lowles, and was founded by the late Maurice Ludmer, a lifelong Communist and longstanding anti-racist and anti-fascist.

Gerry Gable: As a youth, Gable was a member of the Young Communist League and the Communist Party of Great Britain, and worked as a runner on the Communist Party's Daily Worker newspaper, leaving after a year to become a Communist Party trade union organizer. He stood unsuccessfully for the Communist Party on May 10, 1962 at Northfield Ward, Stamford Hill, North London.

Maurice Ludmer: As a young man he was interested in sport and joined the Young Communist League... A Manchester Anti-Nazi League activist recalled that 'Maurice was a firm part of the Labour movement. He was a Communist, and the President of Birmingham Trades Council.

Back in the days before people started forgetting what words mean, we understood that the term "anti-fascist" was a journalists' euphemism for "communist". We also understood that communism was bad.

But of course, in those days we also understood that it was bad to grind babies into sausage meat and kill our grannies when they can't make us cookies anymore. We knew that two and two always equalled four, even when we really really didn't want it to.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ethics Schmethics

Some people are complaining that the newest AIDS prevention plan by the WHO breaches ethical codes on consent.

The plan involves testing everybody for HIV every year in hard-hit areas like sub-Saharan Africa and immediately putting those who are positive on Aids drugs. It could slash dramatically the number of new infections, because Aids drugs lower the levels of virus in the body, making HIV transmission through unprotected sex much less likely. But the strategy, expounded in a paper published online today by the Lancet medical journal, raises major issues both over implementation and over ethics. Currently people who are HIV positive are not put on treatment until they need it, because of the toxicity and side-effects of antiretroviral drugs. It raises the prospect of subjecting people to potential medical harm for the public good, rather than their individual benefit.

I know I know...Nuremberg code...medical experimentation without consent...blah blah blah...

But they're just brown people, for heaven sake!

The Bystander

Kind of like the GAP, only without all the icky blood and guts.

Limericks and the Movies

Thus beguiled by the wily Miss Swann,
Down to Davy Jones' locker I'd gone.
Was returning worthwhile?
Our films made quite a pile,
But World's End was the most frowned upon.

Frodo's gentle temptation still sings
To me sweetly: to think of the things
I might do at my will
(For I could, and would still)
If I were the great Dame of the Rings.

She said, "Hey, you know what? You really can't kill people to solve your problems"

Not only that, but "You also can't kill me to solve mine".

It's a funny thing how difficult it is to get that across.

In May 2003, the International Down Syndrome Screening Conference was
held in London. A group of people with Down’s Syndrome had asked if they
could speak at the conference but were not allowed to.

[Gee, I wonder what they were afraid to hear?] They turned up
anyway and one of them, Anya Souza, was finally allowed to say something
about her own condition. She said:

“I can’t get rid of my Down’s Syndrome, but you can’t get rid of
my happiness. You can’t get rid of the happiness I give others
either. It’s doctors like you that want to test pregnant women
and stop people like me being born. Together with my family and
friends I have fought to prevent my separation from normal
society. I have fought for my rights… I may have Down’s
Syndrome but I am a person first.

H/T to Fr. Tim.

No commies in foxholes either, I guess.

The Vatican has revealed that Antonio Gramsci, the founder of Italian Communism and an icon of the Left, reverted to Roman Catholicism on his deathbed.

Uncle Jack said it once. People can hold all kinds of ridiculous ideas, relativism, communism etc., but these are impossible to live. He said that the guy who most loudly exclaims that there is no such thing as objective morality will be the first one to yelp when you cut in front of him in the queue.

I believe it was the New Yorker who pointed out to Peter Singer, that while he advocated the killing of useless eaters, people with Down's Syndrome, Alzheimers, Catholicism, etc., he was, oddly, spending thousands of dollars every month keeping his aged and demented mother alive and cared-for.

His response: "It's different when it's your own mother."

Now that's deep. Way to hold onto your convictions there bud.


When we do Pro-life 101 Seminars, one of the things we teach people is that there are only two types of existing things in creation: persons and things.

With the first, you can't kill, maim, experiment, buy or sell. With the second you can do all those things. The thing the Bioethics world has accomplished is, essentially, abolishing any legal or moral recognition of that distinction. In the world of the utilitarian bioethicists that currently hold sway in the world's medical and legal systems, there are only things.

One of the cornerstones of our argument against IVF and embryo research is that it reduces the human person to the status of a thing. One you can buy or sell. When you want a baby, you go to the baby store and buy one.

Of course, if humans are things, if the utilitarians who run the world are right and there is no such thing as a person, other than what we arbitrarily so designate, then it is reasonable that they should be extremely valuable things. Are we not, as it has been said, more valuable than many sparrows?

With such a high-end luxury commodity as a baby, it stands to reason that it would be a very expensive one. Given the cost of comparable things, computers say, the average ten thousand dollar price tag of an IVF baby doesn't really seem like that much of a stretch.

If we are positing, for purposes of justifying IVF, that there is no such thing as a distinction between persons and things, that there are just things with brains and things without brains, it is perfectly reasonable to have a human be something you can buy. And if you don't like the first one you get, or if it is defective in some way, it is also perfectly reasonable to have a few extras of your preferred model made and put aside in storage for later. It follows then that should you not need the extras, that they can then be used by the company for other purposes.

There is quite a bit of rigmarole that goes into acquiring a baby by the squishy-drippy methods available in IVF baby boutiques. It is expensive and of course, one isn't guaranteed that the product will "take". There may be several tries involved. IVF and its related procedures are unreliable (an average success rate of about 15-20%) and can be dangerous. If you're willing to slap down $10,000 with an 80% chance that you're wasting your money, why not look at an alternative vendor?

So, I don't get it.

What is everyone getting so worked up about?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Well, it's not relativism for me.

"For me..."

Thought you'd be interested in seeing a portion of the response I got from Mr. ____. who asserted that I had a nerve suggesting that a depressed person who wants to commit suicide is, by definition, in an unreliable mental state.

I offer it as an example of the kind of thinking that has created our current situation: a philosophical relativism that is so intellectually impoverished it is incapable of knowing its own name.

I do not doubt that there are many individuals all over the world who have made a full recovery from varying levels of depression, and have proceeded to live happy and fruitful lives. This may well include those who have been very close to taking their own lives. For very obvious reasons, it would be impossible to ever determine whether or not any sufferer had made the 'right' decision to commit suicide if indeed this was their chosen course of action.

However, what of the man who dies (for this example, we shall say of natural causes) a very sad and lonely man, having lived as such for most of his adult life? Yet, he has been persistently advised that to take his own life would be to admit defeat, would be the wrong thing to do, that things can improve for him - Would he have been so wrong to pull the plug in earlier life, saving himself years of an utterly miserable existence in doing so? Would he have been of 'sane mind' to take such action? I think we both know the true answer.
Actually Sir, I'd venture to guess only one of us does.

Imaginary money

The imaginary wealth that puffed up our investments and inflated our national salary has blown like a mist back to Cloud Cuckoo Land. Apparently, a country really can't go on forever manufacturing nothing but weapons, funding shopping sprees with IOUs and expecting the government to wipe every child's nose. In the long run, you run out of Kleenex.
As Rudyard Kipling, who was right about nearly everything, once wrote:

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

"Work" in Kipling's sense entailed producing things, and "thrift," as that good Victorian would have used it, meant refraining from purchasing stuff until one had accumulated the money. Conservatives used to understand such things, just as liberals once treasured liberty. As we watch the transition of power from the Pyramid Schemers to the Diversity Police, we might stop to wonder at what point we lost our collective minds. Offhand, I'd say it was around the time a music critic described Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees as a genius.

A long time ago, my mum, who could never have been described as a "conservative" by anyone, told me that there was one priority with money that had to come above all else: Secure your home. Keep a roof over your head, even if it means you have to do without food. After you have done that, everything else in life can be taken care of one way or another.

She also told me that people who "go shopping" with credit cards are idiots. You get a credit card, if you have to, as a back-up for emergencies. She was of the school that said if you can't afford something with the money that's in the bank now, you should just learn to want something else. Or...and here's a wacky idea... save up for it.

It's poor people wisdom. Too bad everybody in the world thinks he's not a poor person. Call me old fashioned, but I think that when everyone thinks it's normal for ten year-olds to have mobile phones and designer shoes, cloud-cuckoo land has come to roost.

The chill wind of Odin

Rod Liddle often annoys.

But sometimes he's pretty funny.
I once sat next to a policemen in the House of Commons cafeteria and listened with some nervousness as he told me that soon the chill wind of Odin would blow the immigrant scum from the streets of Britain. The struck me as being a decidedly right-of-centre viewpoint, but that was in the 1980s when you were allowed to think stuff like that and still be a copper.

Just Comuppance


Frankly, the British police have become so corrupted by the left, they've only themselves to thank.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hhmmmm...could be...

It just seems impossible that a real human being could be such a stereotypical Michael O'Brien character as Boris Ottokar Dittrich.

During his career as member of parliament he became famous for his initiatives on typical Dutch issues like same-sex marriage, euthanasia, legalising prostitution and decriminalising the use of soft drug. Dittrich is one of the first openly gay members of parliament. He is a strong advocate for human rights and has represented the Dutch parliament on numerous occasions at meetings in the UN.

Or - and here's a possibility that I think no one has considered yet - could it be that Michael O'Brien is actually making the world up as part of the notes for his next apocalyptic novel?

Dittrich was vice president of Liberal International until October 2007. He currently works for Human Rights Watch in New York City, as Advocacy Director of the LGBT rights program.

He attended the Moscow Pride in May 2007. Afterwards Human Rights Watch published a report about the freedom rights in Russia. It lead to parliamentary questions in the Dutch and European Parliament.

In July 2007 Dittrich was invited to Kathmandu, Nepal to discuss the upcoming Constitutional revision with members of the Nepalese parliament. In September 2007 he visited Brasil and spoke to members of the Brazilian government and parliament about support for LGBT-issues in Brazil's foreign policy.

In November 2007 Dittrich opened and moderated a meeting in the United Nations in New York on the introduction of the Yogyakarta Principles, a set of human rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. The meeting was sponsored by Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Besides Dittrich other speakers included Mary Robinson (former president of Ireland and former High Commissioner for Human Rights), Ana Cabral( minister of human rights in the Brazilian government), Frederico Villegas (head Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Argentina) and Dianela Pi, first secretary of the Uruguayan mission to the UN in New York, and speakers from UNAIDS and NGOs.

With friends like these...

...who needs a kick in the head with a frozen mukluk? (as my stepfather Graham used to say).

"Rights" just don't mean what many people think they mean. I wish someone would sit down and explain some of these things to the English "Catholic" "Bishops".

# Morten Kjaerum, the first director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Human Rights, was a member of the EU Network of Independent Experts which published a Legal Opinion challenging the right of medical professionals to conscientiously object to certain practices such as abortion and seeking, without any foundation, to promote the "right" to abortion. The objective of the Agency is to provide EU member states and institutions assistance and expertise on fundamental rights.

# The EU Network's Legal Opinion (to which I refer above), prepared at the request of the EU Commission on the right to conscientious objection, links rights relating to sexual orientation to other supposed rights, including the “right” to abortion and the “right” to euthanasia and assisted suicide. The document quotes, in part, the Diversity and Equality Guidelines of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales in a generally approving way. The bishops’ guidelines and the EU experts’ document clearly agree that, subject to limited and narrow exceptions, Catholic organisations must ensure that no job applicant or employee receives less favourable treatment than another on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Just who the hell do I think I am, anyway?

This just in via email:

I have just read the following article on your site:

I apologise for my angry tone, but just who the hell does this Hilary White thinks she is?

She states:

Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide – in which a physician prescribes a lethal does of drugs – are intended deliberately to end a patient's life at his request. The Dutch euthanasia law is often defended because of its “safeguards”, one of which is establishing that the patient is of sound mind. Paradoxically, arguments are being more frequently made in favour of extending euthanasia as a relief to those who suffer from depression.

I find this deeply offensive that she may even hint at the fact that people suffering from depression may not be of 'sound mind' when it comes to the subject of suicide. To let such an ill-informed person express such an opinion is nothing short of disgusting. I would expect that for this comment alone, her views will have been quite rightly vilified.

I would greatly appreciate if you could pass on my comments to her.

Kind regards,

I respond:

Dear Sir,

Clinical depression is a mental illness. The mentally ill are, by definition, not of sound mind.

Having suffered from clinical depression myself for some years, I can tell you that I am very glad there are not "compassionate" people around to have helped me decide at that time in my life that I would indeed have been better off dead. Had PAS been legal in Canada in the 1980s, I might very well not now be enjoying my life in Rome as the senior correspondent for

I offer the following from my personal blog:

Sunday, November 23, 2008
"Twixt stirrup and ground, mercy sought and mercy found"

That's my guy...

Pope Questions Interfaith Dialogue

...“an interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible.” In theological terms, added the pope, “a true dialogue is not possible without putting one’s faith in parentheses.”

But Benedict added that “intercultural dialogue which deepens the cultural consequences of basic religious ideas” was important. He called for confronting “in a public forum the cultural consequences of basic religious decisions.”

Signs of the End Times: L'Osservatore Romano Starts Getting Interesting

The remark by John Lennon, which triggered deep indignation mainly in the United States, after many years sounds only like a 'boast' by a young working-class Englishman faced with unexpected success, after growing up in the legend of Elvis and rock and roll," Vatican daily Osservatore Romano said.


I was hanging about with a friend this morning, and he said that I had given the impression in the post the other day that I didn't like the Trevi Fountain. Not so! Indeed, nothing could be further from the truth!

The Trevi is amazing. A wonder of Baroque sculpture and water-engineering. Amazing. Truly.

That bit about Disney just popped in there. I just suddenly envisioned a little door opening somewhere to the left of the glorious marble figures, and out popping a little stream of singing, dancing, mechanical Visigoths, hacking cute little mechanical Romans to bits, while singing a catchy little song.

It's just my weird brain.

But then we got to thinking what a great song that would make.

To the tune of "It's a Small World After All":

It's the fall of Ancient Rome.
It's the fall of Ancient Rome.
It's the fall of Ancient Rome;
it's the end of the world.

When Alaric comes he will burn your homes,
he will steal your gold
and all you own.
He'll carry off your wife,
but you'll escape with your life
if you pay through the nose...

It's the fall of Ancient Rome...

Feel free to add your own verses.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Twixt stirrup and ground, mercy sought and mercy found"

It's been 25 years at least since I met him. He was one of the cool kids in high school when I was a wallflower. He was a large, brash and outgoing, when I was a chronically shy, depressive/angsty teen neurotic. He was one of the most talented singers and actors in the choir and theatre groups in school. I moved in the same sort of circles, but we had different friends and though I admired him, he rather frightened me.

Later, when we were both in the medieval society at the same time, and he was way out ahead of me again in the socialization race, he was unfailingly polite. Even though we no longer moved in the same circles, and he was very busy and important, he always made a few minutes to speak to me.

He was married, with children, and in the (admittedly somewhat nerdy) context of the SCA, he was accomplished and highly respected. He had there, as in high school, a huge number of friends and admirers, his extroverted personality, coupled with a plenitude of artistic talents had served him well.

A decent chap, all 'round, and someone worth knowing, even slightly.

Last week, I got word that he had died suddenly. That was all we knew. I was surprised how saddened I was, since we had not known each other well, by any means.

Then we learned that he had taken his own life, after several years of battling serious depression, and my remote sadness took another form. Now his name, to which I had given little thought over the years, is in my mind over and over. His life, that had merely brushed close to mine for a few years, many years ago, suddenly seemed more precious.

His act will remain a mystery and a tragedy, even to those who knew him well. It will injure his children and his wife, his parents and siblings, his friends and co-workers. It has rippled out into the world, even as far as Rome, where I am sitting in sight of the great dome of St. Peter's Basilica, and the graves of the first Martyrs. His life, his existence, the reality of him, however distant he may be from me and from you who are reading this, is real. It cannot be erased. By his act, he has tried to remove himself from the world, to undo his own Reality. But this is the secret of living: it can't be undone.

This is what makes suicide so terrible. All acts of negation so horrific. It is an attempt to undo The Real, to become an unmaker, an anti-deity. This is why my old school mate's action has hurt me, even now, after a quarter century, and half a world away. He was, and is, real, and a part of the great Real that we all share. No part of it can be damaged or suffer violence without all the other parts being injured.

This is why we fight the fight we are in.

I'm so sorry, Charles, that I could not have been there to tell you this when it might have helped you.

I'm so sorry.

Requiescat in pace.

Friday, November 21, 2008

No more phuzzy photos

Just got a new camera! Woo!

And it's got all kinds of cool space-age looking things on it. Can't wait to try it out.

Meanwhile, the last two taken with the old one:

Phinally got to Trevi last night. Kept thinking, "Where did Christopher Plummer stand when he was dressed like a Nazi?"

As I was standing looking at it, I thought, "It looks like something from Disneyland."

I kind of expected a chime to sound and a little door to open in the back and a row of little dancing, whirring mechanical toys to start singing, "Iiiit's the faaaaaal of the Roman Eeeeempiiiiire; iiiit's the faaaaaal of the Roman Eeeeempiiiiire..." Oh look Martha, here come the cute little Vandals and Visigoths hacking the little Romans to death...


My brain is like that sometimes I guess.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hey Carriere!

can't see your blog.

What, did someone threaten to fire you?

Lemme in.


When I was a kid, you didn't talk about sex. You just didn't.

Then, the '60s started spilling into the '70s and we were all of a sudden told (over and over and over and over...) that not to talk about...all that... was bad. It was repressed. It was unhealthy. We were supposed to talk about it all the time.

Little girls (the kids of hippies mostly, who always went around with a weird glassy kind of expression) started talking about...well, about things that little girls aren't supposed to talk about.

Teachers had to talk about it in class. Parents were supposed to talk about it to their kids. The really hip parents talked about it to their kids quite loudly on the bus. In front of the little old ladies.

We were supposed to want to go to the beach and take our clothes off to "express our rights to complete freedom". Women were supposed to want to breastfeed in public everywhere they went. We were supposed to be "proud of our bodies".

It was noisesome and excruciating. And now we can't get anyone to shut up about it.

It created a world in which one can't get away from the sight of another person's body parts, or their Free and Uninhibited Personal Expressions of Who They Really Are.

So, I've got a request to make for the world.


Whatever happened to the weather?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Protestants 'make better jam than Catholics'"

For heaven sake, Damian. We might not like them, but we don't make jam out of them.

God says not to.

Can't we all just get along?

It's called "pro-lifer Stockholm Syndrome".

Frustrated by the failure to overturn Roe v. Wade, a growing number of antiabortion pastors, conservative academics and activists are setting aside efforts to outlaw abortion and instead are focusing on building social programs and developing other assistance for pregnant women to reduce the number of abortions.

Some of the activists are actually working with abortion rights advocates to push for legislation in Congress that would provide pregnant women with health care, child care and money for education -- services that could encourage them to continue their pregnancies.


The activists are beginning with ad campaigns to raise their profile, advocating legislation and planning rallies. They say they hope to harness the two-thirds of Americans who want a "middle ground" on abortion, according to a 2006 survey by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

A sane, sensible, reasonable middle ground.

I'm really trying to think of what could be a "middle ground" between shredding babies and not shredding babies. But I'm sure that Leftiethink will come up with a solution.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What is Toryism?

Gerald Warner says that Dave has the right idea:
"a properly regulated society, but without excessive state intrusion, in which the government creates the legal context and families and communities function harmoniously within that social consensus."

I continue to reserve judgment.

"The trouble with modern Britain..."

Dear me, where do we start?

Peter Hitchins has a go.

The trouble with modern Britain is that the wrong people are afraid. Inexpressibly cruel killers are afraid of nothing, and rightly view the criminal justice system as a feeble joke. But the police, the courts and the social workers are increasingly fearful of the violent, conscience-free underclass, created by 45 years of well-intentioned but disastrous socialism.
But we cannot own up to this problem. Officially, we aren’t even allowed to disapprove of this way of life or be ‘judgmental’ about the people who lead such lives.

Why? Mainly because the Left cannot admit that these things are bad. Because to accept that would be to accept that it has made a terrible mistake.

This type of misery stems mainly from decisions taken in the Sixties – especially to begin subsidising women who got pregnant outside wedlock, and to make the marriage bond easily breakable. The predictable result was that we quickly saw many more households where the child has no natural father in the home.

Worse still, we saw a substantial minority where there is a stream of serial boyfriends, likely to view any child as a nuisance or a plaything, or both.

Research done by the Family Education Trust shows that abuse of children – either violent or sexual – is 33 times more likely in such households than in homes where there is a stable marriage. This underlines the dishonesty of a famous NSPCC advertising campaign in which child abuse was portrayed as taking place in clean, tidy, prosperous homes. No doubt it can and does happen there, but much less than it does in the urine-perfumed slums of New Britain.

Han Shot First


Had I missed at point-blank, I'd have cursed
Not just fate, but myself, being the worst,
Most incompetent hood
Whose straight aim was no good -
But the truth is, the bastard shot first.


Benson's Lord of the World is a book
Worth a second, or even third, look.
Of its future-eyed view
Quite a lot has come true:
More might come yet, if heaven will brook.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tenebrist school

I didn't take this picture, obviously, but I thought it was really good. I've been asked to restore a cloth-of-silver faldstool cover in time for a big Mass December 8th, so I've been going to the parish in the mornings and sewing.

The photo reminded me of all the wonderful antique and junk shops in Rome. When all my little temporary cash-flow problems from moving have been taken care of, I'm going to be giving some serious thought to getting some art. I saw a painting in the tenebrist style of a woman sewing in the window of a shop this morning and wanted it.

In fact, Rome has been doing things to my brain. There's a lot of stuff in the little shops and it all looks fascinating and wonderful. Even the mundane things are like magic.

Saturday at home

This Saturday was the first time I've spent a whole day at home. Been here three weeks on Friday and it's all been spent in Rome, on the train getting to Rome, or on the train in an exhausted stupor going home from Rome.

But Santa Marinella is a very nice place too.

And we've got room, so if you're fed up with winter at some point, come over and stay.

It was breezy on Saturday when we had people over for lunch. (Casual affair; don't have a soup tureen or any proper serving things yet.) The wind was slightly cool so we decided to move the table onto the front part of the terrace where it was sunnier.

This was November 15:

So, how's the weather where you are? Snowing yet?

Actually, I've been waiting every day for the little man.

You know: the officious little guy in the cheap suit from the government who will come and tell me that there's been a terrible mistake. All of this was meant to happen to someone else. I have to go back to Toronto.

He hasn't shown up yet. I'm wondering if we can drop something heavy on his head from the balcony.

Friday, November 14, 2008

All Souls

JP Sonnen has put up the video he took on the feast of All Souls.

I was there, but hardly remember anything. I had been struck with a week of utter exhaustion and could hardly see out my eyes.

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn,"

So, does this mean we get to set up an altar to He Who Shall Not be Named in Westminster Abbey?

Damian's been having a go at the Prince of Wales for his desire to be named "Defender of Faith". I have to say that I thought the plug for Queen Elizabeth at the end of the post as an example of a monarch who has defended Christianity was a bit much. I like her and all, but I've got no illusions about her record as a defender of The Faith. Calling Elizabeth II an example of a guardian of Christian values, is a bit like calling John Paul II a "Great" ruler and governor of the Catholic Church.

What has happened to Anglicanism under her watch?

But maybe we should think about endorsing this idea of His Royal Highness. It certainly would adequately reflect the state of religious belief in Britain. It would put a long-overdue end to the farce that Anglicanism is somehow in continuity with the native Catholic Faith of Britain. I don't think the world is going to be able to swallow Charles going through the kind of Medieval and obviously Catholic ceremony that put his mother on the throne.

Maybe an ecumenical king in England is what we need. It would certainly make things clearer. I think what Britain needs is a dose of reality. We really need to stop the 500 years of pretense. Put an end, at last, to the tea-party religion and get that elephant out of the parlour.

But honestly, I think that Britain is ready to accept the new religion prepared for it by the work of the minions of H.W.S.N.B.N'ed in the last forty or fifty years.

What part of the following

the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from his tomb to revive His subjects and resume his rule of earth....Then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.

doesn't describe the average saturday night out in Liverpool?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rain or shine

It's raining.

Really a lot. Big thunderclaps and lightening, and the streets have turned into rivers with the waves lapping gaily onto the sidewalks.

The Rome you never see in the guidebook pictures.

Tea shop, just down a bit from Ss. Trinita, at St. Barbara's piazza. They have a nice selection of Twinings: Earl Grey, Eng. Breakfast...)

To the right when seated. Down that street is the church. (Yes, I know, to North American eyes, that isn't a street, it's an "alley", but that's the streets in the medieval part of Rome.

And to the left, St. Barbara's. In the old days, the street of the book binders.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beneath the poppies, row on row

Yesterday was the first November 11th in many years that I have not worn a poppy. I live in a foreign country where they don't do the Poppy Thing.

But it has been a part of my life since I was small, and among my most cherished memories of by sojourn in Nova Scotia, where the martial spirit remains strong, was attending the cenotaph ceremonies in Halifax at the Parade Square. I never fail to weep.

My great grandfather, William Doloughan, served in a mounted regiment in WWI, was captured and contracted TB in the POW camp, which eventually killed him. This did not stop him serving in the Home Guard in WWII. My maternal grandfather, Herbert Burkett, was an airman in the US Air Force. My paternal grandfather, Norman White, served in a tank in in WWI and in land-based communications in WWII.

I've always worn the poppy with them in mind.

Why settle for the lesser evil?

Looks like the old boy is having trouble adjusting to his electoral loss to the New Hope.

More Hello-Cthulhu

H/T to Dale.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Covered a rally on Saturday in support of Eluana Englaro against whose life the Italian courts have ruled today. She will now be dehydrated to death at her father's request.

[Update: the court did not rule today on Eluana. Decision pending.]

But the rally was fun.

Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro, a sterling chap.

Happy Italian pro-lifers...

What does it say? It says the same thing all the signs say at pro-life events: "You can't kill people to solve your problems".

Something I like about Italy, no 'Elf n' Safety. You want to have big flaming sticks of wax at your rally, and give them to the kids? You go right ahead.

The lady in the foreground with her back to the camera actually did manage to set herself on fire. But just a little bit and I was there to stamp her out. No kidding.

I have to admit, pro-life rallies are waaay more fun when you add big flaming sticks of wax.

Italian kids: not wrapped in cotton wool.

"Pro-lifers are just a bunch of old white guys in the Church who want to take away the rights of women..."

I remember looking at a set of photos of the pro-life march a couple of years ago in San Francisco and the person who posted them did a comparison between the pro-lifers and their counterparts in the Death Movement asking, "Which side has the prettiest girls?"

The good guys won.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Grandfather Clause

Dr. Stephen Karanja, an Ob/Gyn and chairman of the Kenyan Catholic Doctors' Association described to me on Friday the work of the international aid organisations like UNICEF that are using their mandate to push abortion and condoms on African countries:

What about international aid orgs, pushing population control in exchange for assistance?

They stopped saying that a long time ago, when we removed the masks from their faces. The international aid organisations are fathered and mothered by the same creature. They are fathered by...the grandfather is called IMF, the international Monetary Fund. Then there is a mother, called IPPF, International Planned Parenthood Federation. They have small small children, many of them with thousands of names but the same parent. You follow them and they lead you to their mother. And when you know sombody’s mother, and what she does and what she cooks, then you know what they eat. Those organisations that come to our country...we don’t need them. We don’t need them at all. They come in our country for the purposes of trying to sell an ideology to us, an ideology we do not need.

I do not know how to tell these people from the west, please keep their bad manners to their countries. There is something in Africa we have that they should come and learn. Something called ‘respecting the family’ respecting the elders, respecting the children, hoping for the best, and not being ruled. And people from the west have a problem with this.

Katherine Sinnott, MEP: "Human Rights" have become just a "list of demands that have gained political strength"

Exerpts from a speech by Mrs. Katherine Sinnott, MEP, Ireland South, at a conference in Rome sponsored by MaterCare International, Thursday, November 6, 2008

I got in a few minutes late and she was saying that the way the EU runs is essentially anti-democratic:

They only then send it to the elected Parliament and we make amendments and if those amendments are to the liking of the Commission and the Council then it will be tolerated and wind up in the finished product. But 20%, and they are the critical 20% in most cases, are rejected – even though the only elected people have voted for them.

Judges slip very easily into law-making and judicial activism
and this is particularly true in the European Court of Justice for a particularly interesting reason. Most of our High Courts or Supreme Courts or whatever you call them in your own countries – the job of most of those courts is to uphold your constitutions. But the actual stated job of the European Court of Justice – the EU’s court is to promote the European project. So, it takes whatever document or whatever treatise, and it decides what interpretation at this point in time will best promote the European project; not what do those words truly mean and what do case law tell us about them. And this is a particularly worrying thing in terms, again, of the Lisbon Treaty because for the first time, we had a Charter of Rights included – called the Fundamental Charter of Rights and those rights had very interesting things like ‘Everyone has a right to life.’ But, of course, the only country fighting that statement was Ireland because we wanted to retain our Right to Life – and we knew that a statement like “Everyone has a right to life” – actually did not apply to such things as abortion and euthanasia. It actually meant the opposite and it would mean the opposite because it was the European Court in Luxemburg that would decide what it meant and that was why countries that are very invested in things like abortion – even countries that are invested in policies of euthanasia – had no problem ratifying the Lisbon Treaty and even welcoming this fundamental charter because, in fact, it would reinforce their policy not counter-act it.

So, lawmakers increasingly are anyone above the citizens and those that they directly elect and we have to point out that this is true even at the national level. Certainly in Ireland, 80% of the laws that go through are Parliament - Germany has estimated that it is 83% - it is only transpositions of Laws already passed in Brussels.

They actually have no right to vote ‘no’ to these laws

– they must transpose them, they must implement them and only 20% or less of the laws in the national parliament, created by the people we actually elect, are original laws. And, even those, if they are not in line with the European policy you are not allowed to propose them or put them through to Parliament.

The Lisbon Treaty extends the competence of Europe to virtually every area of life. In fact, a Danish MEP, asked the constitutional courts in his country – was there anything not affected by the Lisbon Treaty, in Danish law or the Danish constitution. And the only thing that they could come up with after days and days of studying it, was the position of the Church in Denmark. There is a special position of – I think it is the Lutheran Church – in Denmark. But even that, on closer scrutiny, was subject to EU law. So, there was nothing, so that 20% will very quickly erode to 0% which would be the end of democracy at the national level as well.

As an MEP, and it is in light of this, to influence law, is extremely difficult even for an MEP. We did a report on the rights of Children – and, of course, the first legal base was the UN convention on the rights of the child. And, on the whole report, and by report, I mean it is the Commission’s document with our amendments – the word ‘family’ was never mentioned. In all the rights of children – the word ‘family’ was never mentioned. Now, it took me 13 amendments to get the word ‘family’ in twice. I am still not sure that the word family will stay in past the Council or it will be those 20% amendments that are removed.

We now have just launched a proposed agenda, social agenda for Europe because – I was temporarily one of the ‘presidents’ in the Parliament – a position I did not really run for because I had too many other things to do but immediately after the Irish referendum, they decided that Europe wasn’t social enough – so, they quickly cobbled together a ‘social agenda’. Now the social agenda which has yet to go through the whole process – takes all the functions of the family – care of the elderly, education of children, etc… and brings them under a ‘caring Europe.’ The one thing that isn’t mentioned in the whole social agenda – quite a big document – is the family.

In a dialogue with Commissioner Spidla – I asked him about this. I said, “How come this social agenda has every function of the family but doesn’t mention the family.” He said, “Well, you see – we have no competence in family but we have competence in this and that…”

And in fact many other areas that they actually don’t have competence in and they are taking it and their idea was that, that then would make the ratification [by Ireland] possible.

Of course, fortunately, one of our bishops has come out – in fact, I stood up in parliament and I said that probably much more important to people in voting ‘no’ to the Lisbon Treaty was a sense that Europe’s values were not our values and a sense of the loss of the Christian identity and the loss of Christian values and the dis-ease and unease with that. And I gave two speeches on that which I also sent to the bishops and I don’t know if it had anything to do with Bishop Sean Grady who came out and used much the same language – about the un-ease that people felt with the direction that Europe is going. But, it is within this that we are supposedly law-makers.

It is at that point that I am very glad that we do have an all-powerful and a very much loving and good God watching over us because otherwise it would be a very worrying situation and it could even lead one to despair.

But, as an MEP, I also work in an environment where we have two languages, and I don’t mean English and French. I mean the language of the culture of life and the language of the culture of death and what is very confusing is that they use the same terminology – the exact same terminology. They often attribute different and usually opposing meanings to the same terms. So, human rights, to me, means the rights that accrue from the dignity and destiny of the human person which in turn are a gift of God.

And in the other lexicon, human rights are increasingly just a list of demands that have gained political strength.

One morning on the radio in Ireland, I heard an activist saying that every child had a human right – a fundamental human right to high quality free child care. To me, this would have meant that the human baby has the natural need, so therefore the right to mothering and therefore, the right to receive that mothering from his or her mother. And that we, as a society, have a duty to support the family and through that – to support the mother so that she could give this child what the child needed – or to give that support to a committed mother substitute where that wasn’t possible. But, to this campaigner, this human right meant that women had a fundamental human right to be absent from their babies and to have a professionally accredited child care facility free of charge.

In the same way, this difference in understanding is particularly in the word ‘dignity’ itself. It’s a special gift of the Creator, intellect, free-will, immortal soul that separates us from the rest of creation. But to them dignity, means a value measured by health, mental ability, emotional happiness and other quality of life indicators as they call them – so the word can also be used to justify abortion, infanticide and euthanasia where dignity to me – makes these things impossible.

And to give one more example of the area is religion – and this is one that is coming up very much. For me, the freedom of religion is very much, as a human right, is the right to live your duty to God as you best understand that and the freedom to do that because it is an essential need of the human person to honor, interact and have a relationship with this God. Increasingly, freedom of religion, in the EU means from religion and again, we have a new directive coming up that is called an “Anti-Discrimination Directive”. This is very sad because it has come out of years of work to get a disability directive and an age directive – and there is one on gender and there is one on race and years of work has gone into getting one of disability. And now that pretty much all the countries have agreed to have one on disability – which would have been a bulwark against euthanasia – that was one of the things that it was supposed to do – we have had a whole group of lobbyists jump on the back of that[saying] 'let's not waste time and just do a disability and age directive, let's do an across the board discrimination directive which will include ethnicity, language, religion and sexual orientation'.

But, religion in this context, means that, if you are a Catholic school – you have no right to pick an employee on the basis that they actually know or care anything about Catholicism. Or, if you are Mater Care – you have no right to discriminate against a doctor in your charity who believes in abortion. It also includes the right to not be offended by a Christmas Crib in the town square or by the words “God bless you”. ‘Bless you’ will actually be a hate crime. This is just in proposed stage – it is in the parliament now. We are having a big hoo-haa about it and I assure you, it will pass. I assure you.

The culture of life – the human rights in the culture of life – also has a hierarchy which depends on the essential nature of the right. And, really the way that God gives us that right and therefore it is quite obvious that the right to life is at the highest rank because it is a direct gift from God and without it, none of the other rights have any meaning.

However, the culture of Death also have a system of ranking – and again, it is based on political influence at any given time. So, for instance, in some countries – the right to abortion – in Ireland, the right to abortion is not acknowledged but in the US, the right to abortion to the moment of birth is in place and so much so, that there even moving on from that to seeing the right to abortion actually as meaning the right to a dead baby – not just a right to abortion. So, the expansion of the right to abortion – and the expansion of it to include infanticide and already that is detectable even within Europe. I think that a study about 3 years ago, showed that half of infant deaths in France and in the Netherlands, in the first year of life, were either active or passive euthanasia.

So, to come to hope. In hierarchy, hope, as Obama’s election shows, is very similar in both cultures – they both recognize hope as one of the really high values. Where hope differs is in the object of our hope and in that, it’s meaning is completely different. For us, hope is Jesus. It is expressed in the gospels where it is personified in His life and in the life of those who followed Him. It is embodied and received in the Eucharist and in the other sacraments. It is embodied in our understanding and our experience of hope and our experience that God is always bringing forth good and always ready to forgive, always ready to lift and correct and guide and to bestow blessing and in doing so, that he is living with us and preparing to welcome us into another life at the end of this one. So, that is our hope.

It's all about tolerance, man.

More from the Peacelovegroovy Tolerance Club

Violence urged against marriage supporters
A Christian legal expert is calling for an investigation of a number of homosexual activists for advocating violence against supporters of traditional marriage.


"A number of homosexuals and homosexual activists are actually calling for violence, calling for churches to be burned to the ground -- churches that supported these amendments," he explains. The call for violence includes killing Christians.

In a written statement Barber quotes from several blogs --

"Can someone in CA please go burn down the Mormon temples there, PLEASE. I mean seriously. DO IT."
"I'm going to give them something to be f--ing scared of....I'm a radical who is now on a mission to make them all pay for what they've done."
"Burn their f--ing churches to the ground, and then tax the charred timbers."
"I hope the No on 8 people have a long list and long knives."
"I swear, I'd murder people with my bare hands this morning."
"Trust me. I've got a big list of names of mormons and catholics [sic] that were big supporters of Prop 8....As far as mormons and catholics...I warn them to watch their backs."

Charming little incident on the bus the other night. Heading for the San Pietro train station, hopped on the 881 bus and took a seat next to a nice looking young African priest. I was fairly tired so I didn't notice right away the little clutch of...shall we say...alternately oriented and gendered persons, cavorting in front of me. But they must have noticed the presence of clergy because they started a little theatrical number about two feet in front of us, loudly kissing and embracing each other.

I watched for a moment, then turned to my seatmate and said loudly, "So I guess this is for your benefit, huh?"

He smiled, somewhat surprised, and said, "Yes, I think so."

I replied, "It certainly looks as if some people's daddies didn't pay enough attention to them when they were kids."

The miscreants glared at us and sulked. I guess they spoke English.

This place is hard to photograph badly

Took these from the Ponte Umberto on Saturday night. If you can make out the millions of little black specks in the sky, you will see that they are starlings, doing their incredible ballet before going to sleep in the plane trees lining the Lungotevere. People gather every night (with umbrellas) to watch.

Inside the Apostolic Palace and outside the Lateran Basilicads

The Clementine Audience Hall where we heard the Holy Father address the Transplant conference:

The Arms of Clement VIII

Mahometans bringing tribute to the Pope

On the ceiling, "Religion" offers the keys to the Pope in heaven.

How's your Latin?

An angel escorts the innocents of the New World to the light of the True Faith.

Got a nice personal tour of the Lateran Basilica yesterday. It is not often realised that this church, first built in the 4th century, is actually the Cathedral of the diocese of Rome, not St. Peter's, and therefore has a higher ranking than St. Peter's. It houses a fragment of the table used by Christ at the Last Supper, and the altar that is beneath this precious relic is not consecrated. The consecrating of an altar in a Catholic Church is meant to link the altar to this most sacred mensa. When one has the original, however, a further consecration is a mere superfluity.

The only pics I have of the Basilica, however, are of the outside. My camera battery gave me the signal that it, like my feet and back, are too tired for a trip through the mother church of all Christendom.

These bronze doors were the original doors to the ancient Senate of Rome (except for the stars).

On the way to the train home at the end of a wonderful day. This young monk is from the St. Benedict Centre, not the one in Still River, but another one associated with them. My friend Eric and I spotted him when we got on the Metro and remembered that he has been attending Mass at Ssma. Trinita in the last few days. (Eric asked me to crop out my handbag, and I did try, but Photobucket won't save the cropped version and I can't get the stupid thing to work, so I note here that Eric kindly held my handbag and brolly to allow me both hands to use the camera.)


Well, well. Very interesting.

I see that the Vatican has produced the official English translation of the Holy Father's address to the Organ Transplant conference. He, unlike the Pontifical Academy for Life who organised the conference, directly addressed the vexed question of "brain death" criteria and the danger it presents to vulnerable patients.

On Friday there was no translation available and so the news services of the world covering the event had to rely upon their own translations. But today, bright and early in the Roman autumnal sunshine, someone inside the walls has been a busy little beaver. It is only just after nine, and I see that not only is the English translation now available (after Reuters and others produced headlines saying that the Pope had "slammed" organ donation), there is a handy reference posted to the "Latest Updates" page on the Vatican website which links to the PDF of a document, produced in 2006, titled, "Why the Concept of Brain Death is Valid as a Definition of Death".

I noticed that there was no link to this document on Friday morning when I looked at the page just prior to my rushing off for the audience in question. But now, there it is, aaaaalmost as if someone in the Vatican was interested in making sure that there was a correct "spin" available for any other journalists who might be looking for the "official" Vatican position on "brain death" criteria.

Most journalists, interested in making a quick deadline and invariably being firmly on the side of the C. of D. are not going to ask whether this actually constitutes the "official" position on brain death, nor will they look to the bottom of the page and see that it is the "proceedings of the working group" and not a dogmatic statement from the Cathedra of the Lateran Basilica. Such subtleties are beyond them.

Just in case anyone was wondering,

there is no "official position" on brain death criteria. But the Catholic Church has, for some time, had an "official position" on taking vital organs out of people's bodies before they are dead.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Popey Goodness

Well, it was certainly a weird day. Didn't manage to get a lot of work done, and ended up marching around all over Rome in my uncomfortable Important Grownup shoes, but did eventually see the Holy Father. We were all herded back and forth on the Via Conciliazione for a while, then we got marched in slow stages in a big herd up the Colonnade, through the metal detectors and up a lot of beautiful marble staircases...and then more beautiful marble staircases...and then a few more beautiful marble staircases [after a while, one began to realise that there is a very good reason to make the stone steps quite short and broad] across a kind of inner piazza that is about five tall stories up, then quite a few more beautiful marble stairs.

Then into this gorgeous room, where we all sat like kids in an assembly waiting for the principal. We shuffled, and squirmed a bit. There were a few moments where a real hush fell and there was nothing but the sound of clicking and whirring cameras while everyone took pictures of the frescos...and each other...and more frescoes...

Quite a few Impressive Clergymen scampered about, soutanes and red cinctures flapping. There were a few very smartly dressed gentlemen in what looked like plum coloured frock coats...

then the big doors opened, and the Pope walked quite briskly into the room. The sound of three hundred people standing up is quite loud and by the time it had subsided, he was seated in the white plush chair, in front of the big gold marble keys.

And I was in the same room as the Vicar of Christ.

It was weird.

He heard someone give a talk, then he gave one himself, then the important people (alas, not self) got to go up for a little ring-kissing, then he blessed us all in Latin, and strolled out again.

The whole occasion, however, managed to take up most of the day, from ten thirty am to nearly two thirty.

And at the moment we sat down, and I started trying to take pictures of the frescoes myself, my camera chose that most inauspicious moment to die. And it was the same moment that I remembered that I had left my mantilla in the sacristy of S. Trinita the night before and would have to meet the Pope bare-headed. Sooooo embarrassing. Fortunately, the crowd was too big, so only the people up front got to greet. So it wasn't quite the faux pas of a lifetime.

I hope a get another chance.

Thanks to Anthony who was sitting beside me, for the pics, of which there will be more later. Got to do the work now that I couldn't do today.

Papal audience today


Came as a bit of a surprise to me too. I'm attending a conference for Catholic obstetricians and they said I could come along on their scheduled audience. I'll try to get a picture.


some fountains.

This one, looking tres tres papal, is just on the other side of the right-hand colonnade, under Papa's window. Snazzy huh? And the water is really good. Nothing like it in the hot weather.

This one is just on the inside of the Vatican city wall, at the start of the street of the offices of L'Osservatore Romano.

A bit of the Colonnade

And a Swiss Guard. You don't hardly ever see the blue uniforms in the media. I like it better than the orange one.