Friday, May 29, 2009

Suh- WEET!!

From the Open Europe Press Summary:

The salary of British MEPs rises next month from £63,000 to £80,500, and that in total MEPs can receive expenses and allowances of £363,000 a year including a £261 daily subsistence allowance for simply turning up at work and £45,648 in general office expenses, even if they don't have an office in their home constituency.

Where. Do. I. Sign. UP?!!

This working stuff is obviously for chumps.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Moving house

This weekend I'm shifting self, stuff and pussy cat across town to a smaller but more permanent abode (year-round leases are deuced difficult to come by in Santa Mar). So posts will be rather thin on the ground over the next few days.

You may talk quietly amongst yourselves, but if I hear any racket, I'm going to be right outside that door.

Over 45,000 years of marriage at Westminster

Is anyone going to this? If so, contact me will you?

Married for over 45,000 years!

Nearly 600 couples with a combined total of 45,584 years of marriage will be celebrating their wedding anniversaries at a Mass in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 30th May 2009 at 11am. The Mass will be celebrated by the recently installed Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Would you buy a used religion from this man?

Tony Blair's popularity as a religious guru seems to be waning.

PS: for those who are too young to remember, the line "Would you buy a used car from this man?" was the slogan pointed at "Tricky Dick" Nixon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Obama and Cherie

This is what struck me, what shocked me actually, about the ever-so open-minded professors (and students) at the Angelicum who were so eager to praise the speech of Cherie Blair last year. The incredible gullibility of these people, who lapped up her oh so articulate tosh and cried foul when we pointed out that they had been played. It was the obviously powerful desire to be seen to like her and accept her and take what she said on its face. To be seen, perhaps, to be as enlightened and sophisticated and non-judgmental as she. To be one of the cool kids at last.

And these people were not stupid, nor were they pro-aborts or even "liberals". Many of them, the ones I spoke to, claimed plausibly enough to be serious-minded Catholics who are enthusiastically supportive of the Church's defence of human life. But there they were, mad as hornets that anyone had dared to say anything against Cherie.

This is the power of the leftist political machinery in having created for themselves this aura, this haze, of reasonableness, of warmth, of being the only really, truly, caring people around. It is the power of the Voice of Saruman, to soothe and to cloud the mind with warm, pink, fuzzy comfort so that anyone who dares to gainsay it is instantly rejected.

"When others spoke they seemed harsh and uncouth by contrast; and if they gainsaid the voice, anger was kindled in the hearts of those under the spell."

But Novak says that is the whole point of the (frankly completely transparent) rhetoric about "reducing the number of abortions" that has so often come lately from US pro-abort politicians.
The only people the president disarms with these words are those who are convinced that abortion is the deliberate taking of the life of a unique human individual (with its own unique DNA, distinct from that of its mother and its father). It is they and only they whom the president now summons to listen to the other side, to compromise, to pull clouds of uncertainty over their previous convictions, and to begin to waver. Obama is disarming the pro-life side, and only the pro-life side. The poor young students of Notre Dame, and their inexcusably uncritical and politically unsophisticated professors, are undone by a surface appeal to reason and civility, which is actually a call for their unconditional surrender.

Yeah, so? What's your point?

Just doing a quick little thing about Michael Novak's piece on the incredible bluders of L'Osservatore Romano (and I use the word "blunder" here in an attempt to be charitable).

He writes,

For the pro-abortion forces here [in the US], “reason” and “right” and “sensible” mean supporting abortion. Anything else is unreasonable, against women’s rights, and lacking in all sense. One highly placed appointee of President Obama even compares the condition of a woman who wants an abortion to that of the slave woman in America prior to 1863 — caught in a kind of mandatory, unwilling servitude.

But I hasten to point out that this position is widely accepted in the Catholic left as well. It is, in fact, the foundation of feminism as this pernicious social disease was first described by Friedrich Engels.

He describes the "Monogamous Family" that we first find
"in all its severity among the Greeks. While the position of the goddesses in their mythology, as Marx points out, brings before us an earlier period when the position of women was freer and more respected, in the heroic age we find the woman already being humiliated by the domination of the man...


Monogamous marriage comes on the scene as the subjugation of the one sex by the other; it announces a struggle between the sexes unknown throughout the whole previous prehistoric period.

Marriage and motherhood is regarded by the feminists (Marxists) as a form of slavery. This obviously led to the idea that the only way to be free was to be free of children. To have the right, as did the Greek and Roman fathers of old, to kill them as they would rid themselves of unwanted property. Women have to have the right to kill or they are back to being slaves to men and to the degrading and dehumanizing drudgery of motherhood.

This was drilled into me from my earliest age, as the child of a feminist of the 1970s. As with most of my contemporaries on the West Coast, my mother, perhaps little guessing what sort of logical feedback loop it might create, instilled in me the notion that the worst form of slavery, one that inevitably trapped a woman into a lifetime of misery and poverty, is to be a mother.

It is simply taken as read on the left. And the suggestion that motherhood is a good thing for women is looked upon as a piece of lunacy. Or as the work of propagandists for the oppressors.

Legal abortion, therefore, is simply part and parcel of the success of the feminist movement. Emancipation means legally sanctioned murder as a "human right".

Why is anyone surprised by this?


A Polish student takes a few night time snaps of Britain's "vibrant" night life.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Let's not deny them the right

to freely copulate".

Spain's prime minister defended Tuesday one of the most controversial parts of his proposed abortion law reform which would allow 16-year-olds to terminate their pregnancies without parental consent.

"Let's take into account what the experts say, the experience of other European countries and let's have confidence in our youth, in our women," Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said when asked about the measure.

"Let's not deny them the right to freely decide, let's not intervene in the free and private decision of a woman, who is the one who has to take on the responsibility of a pregnancy during her entire life," he added.

You can't kill people to solve your problems

Such a difficult concept, only a 12 year-old without a PhD can understand it.

(But I'm afraid I've always found there to be something somewhat distasteful about precocious children speaking this way in public. Always loathed Shirley Temple too).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Got cats?

I'll leave you with one more:

Sorry, sorry, left the logic thingy on again

It's just that, if the perverts and godless heathen savages in Britain are "upset" that the "Equalities Commission" has appointed a believing Christian as a member,

Why aren't they calling for the abdication of the Queen?

If they believe that having believing Christians in high public positions is an affront to their, ... errr... I don't know... rights?...

why don't they screech and howl about this?

A portrait of Canadian "Catholicism"

What, as John Sonnen likes to say, is wrong with this picture?

A Canadian organisation for women, that shall remain nameless, had this to say about its annual meeting:
“Love One another in the Heart of the Universe”: our development day theme was presented by two passionate, visionary speakers, D___ R____ and S___ V____ and their enthusiastic team. This faith experience began with a meditative, multi media presentation of the creation story and highlighted our role as Catholic women in preserving our environment.

That's racist

I hope you'll forgive me for thinking, but, it has occurred that the US left, including the Catholic left, is gaga over Obama because he is the first "African-American" president.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but this seems to be the basis of his appeal. On November 8 last year, I was walking back from St. Peter's to the office and saw a group of US tourists, all black, holding US flags. They were taking pictures of each other in front of St. Peter's Dome, as you do, and chanting "ObamaObamaObama..." I passed quickly on, but the image of this man's joyful face stayed with me. (ObamaObamaObama...)

As many more sober thinkers have pointed out many times, Obama is one of the least experienced politicians ever to hold such a high office. He is also one of the most evasive about his past.

As Binky put it the other day:

When you look at a leader like Winston Churchill, he’d been leading and doing real things and handling very serious responsibilities for years. Of course he made mistakes of various sorts, but not from inexperience, or noob-itis. He’d been military, Head of the navy, politician, and so much more in th years before he became Prime Minister of Great Britain and her remaining Empire. A very, very full CV indeed– and he came from a long line of famous and impressive people.


What, exactly, had Obama done before becoming president? Got a couple degrees. Got a pile of radical friends & mentors & groomers. Got an ambitious wife. Got in ith the Chicago Democratic mafia machine, got on a spending-spree radical education program that did very little, helped ACORN extort questionable mortgages from banks. Got into the Senate, where he was notable for nothing. Got to be president. Not much of a CV.

Someone recently, examining the bizarre goings on at Notre Dame this weekend, said that the equasion is simple. One honours a person for his accomplishments when one approves of them. Notre Dame gave Obama an honourary law degree. Does this mean that Notre Dame, the alma mater of some of the most accomplished people in the US, believes that Obama's accomplishments (see above) are worthy of a high honour? Perhaps the highest honour the institution is capable of bestowing.

Notre Dame chose to bestow an honor on the most pro-abortion President the USA has ever seen. You honor those whose positions and actions you believe are laudable.

Does this make sense? Does this equasion equate?

Notre Dame, I understand, even in its diminished post-moderne condition, is jammed with people who can think rings around most politicians. Who have degrees coming out their pores, who have published, lectured, devoted their lives to a single subject, who have contributed with their thought, their architecture, their engineering, their medicine, their governance, some of the most important gifts the US posesses.

Why would they think this man, apart from his having been elected as President, is their equal?

Haven't they met politicians?

I have, lots, and I wouldn't invite one home for tea, never mind give one an award.

Could it be that there is really only one reason that the Catholics at Notre Dame were so extremely keen not only to give Obama the platform, but to be seen doing so?

Could it be that Notre Dame honoured him ... well...

because he is black?


isn't that...


In other duck-related news...

Can I vote for the one on the far right?

At least some of the money is being put to good use.
Sir Peter Viggers claimed for a £1,645 floating “duck island” in the garden pond at his Hampshire home. In a statement, the Conservative Party said: “Sir Peter Viggers has confirmed that he will retire as MP for Gosport at the next election. He will do so at the direct request of David Cameron”;

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pop quiz: identify ten insanely stupid and evil things

in the following:

The UN committees on Human Rights, on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and against Torture have all urged Nicaragua to reverse its ban on abortion in the name of human rights. According to experts of the Committee, the prohibition of abortion exposes women ... "to a threat of serious violations of their rights."

This resolution was backed by Amnesty International.

Flash! Ducks like water

and sometimes drink it: £300,000 study.

Well, yes, it probably is a "bonkers waste of money" but hell, if someone offered me £300,000 to watch ducks playing in water, I'd totally take it.

In. A. Second.

Here. Watch some ducks playing in water. You'll see what I mean.

When you feel bad, watch ducks.

I don't, actually

but I really admire people who do.

Oh there it is!

I think we've discovered the "emerging Church".

Dublin archbishop: Sex abuse report will shock

Someone alert NCR.

Weekend in Tuscany: How to loaf properly

I took about 230 pictures, so this will be a series. Went to Cortona on the feast of St. Margaret of and visited Perugia on the way home. So, lots and lots. Pics of incorrupt saints, places where Hannibal defeated Roman armies, medieval pageants and architecture, and tips on how to loaf properly. All coming up.


How to loaf properly.

Working on my technique. It's all in the backswing.

Going for walks. But stay on the road, there's snakes. (Yep.)

Olive trees.

Dog roses.


Anne likes the horsies.

One of those big 19th century farm houses where the kitchen is the main room.

Christopher contemplates possible ecclesiastical uses for a cigar chopper.

It's just got to be around here somewhere

Those poor greying hippies at National Catholic Reporter are still looking. God bless 'em.

In Search of the Emerging Church

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Atheocracy: I believe in no God

People tend to forget that the statement, "There is no God", is one of religious belief that can no more be proved with the scientific method than The Act of Faith.

The Catholic organisations would happily refer a gay couple to a secular [adoption] agency, but it would be against their faith to take them on themselves.

This state of affairs harmed no one, and worked well, a compromise between the secular and religious, the old and new, the socially conservative and liberal. But it offended the Labour party, who see homophobia as a heresy to their state religion. This is a government, after all, that has made it legal for firms to suspend workers who disapprove of homosexual acts and to fire public servants who belong to a democratic political party. This is a government that is turning Britain into a closed society where anyone who hasn't sworn the modern secular equivalent of the Thirty-Nine Articles can be thrown out of work.

An atheocracy.

Home of the Brave

Abortion and the Will to Power

I think I've written about this before, and I know a lot of other peple have too. The abortion "logic" is moving forward. It is no longer enough to convince to say words like "blob of cells" or "products of conception" simply because no one is willing to buy it any more.

Now they are dropping these obviously mendacious assertions, now that the culture has been coarsened to the point where it can be accepted. They are simply asserting the will to power.
However, given that both science and philosophy continue to struggle to define what the beginning of “life” is, wouldn’t it be better to come at the debate from a different angle entirely? For if a pregnant woman has dominion over life, why should she not also have dominion over not-life?

She says, "other cultures" have had no problem with this.

If women are, by biology, commanded to host, shelter, nurture and protect life, why should they not also be empowered to end life, too? I’m not advocating stoving in the heads of children, or encouraging late abortions - but then, no-one is.

But whyever not?

Indeed, it's a great deal safer for the woman to deal with the problem of an unwanted child at the end of natural birth, with, say, a brick or a bucket of water. A great many women go for an abortion and have to be rushed to the nearest emergency room to have their intestines put back in.

And in fact, plenty of people are saying this. They're called "bioethicists" and they've got a bit more spine than you dear.


You can see her trying to think.

Following the birth of her son last year, however, Sawyer had begun to have doubts about the ethics and logic of abortion. “I was calling the life inside me a baby, because I wanted it,” she wrote, after visiting picketed abortion clinics in America. “Yet if I hadn't - as would perhaps have been the case ten years earlier - I would have thought of it as just a group of cells it was OK to kill. It was the same entity. It was merely my response to it that determined whether it would live or die. That seemed irrational to me. Maybe even immoral.

Hope her brain doesn't crack.

Obomination of Desolation

Yes, the Obama appearance at Notre Dame this weekend made the national television news in Italy. I saw it in a pizzaria in Perugia.

As more US bishops jump on the bandwagon, the reactions of our friends are becoming somewhat more...ah...nuanced.

This just in via email:

Now that Donald Trautman has weighed in against Notre Dame I've decided to jump off the bandwagon. There must be something wrong with any cause that man supports.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The World is Ending: Pass the Popcorn

I'm off for a long weekend in Tuscany. Don't worry, I'll take the camera. But since I won't be back till Tuesday, I want to remind everyone to be sure to make a toast to her Majesty on Monday.

Long live the Queen!


This from Rod Dreher (via Steve)
The Catholic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre famously ended his landmark 1982 book After Virtue with a gloomy meditation about the collapse of a common moral sense in the West. He suggested that we were too far gone into nihilism and relativism to save and that those devoted to the traditional virtues should consider hiving off, as Benedict and his followers did in Rome’s final days, to build communities that can withstand the incoming tide of chaos and despond. MacIntyre wrote that our unawareness of how lost we are “constitutes part of our predicament,” one that can only be adequately addressed by “another—and doubtless very different—St. Benedict.”

makes me look around at Rome.

It's an odd place, really. Where all the world still seems compelled to come and bring their ancient political rivalries with them.

I'm reading Hannah Arendt on the train lately and she is raising questions. Old questions about European politics and one thing has been clear. The arguments we are having now are not new. To a Canadian, or an American, of a certain age, politics is an entirely new field every five years or so and almost no one's political memory stretches back more than a decade. It also is something that can be more or less safely ignored if you want. One can be "interested" in politics, in the way one can be "interested" in butterflies or stamps. It does not force itself on the attention of the individual.

In the US and to a lesser degree in Canada, (and even less now in Britain), one can get on fairly quietly with one's life and it does not place one in immediate physical or economic danger to pay no attention whatever to the newspapers. But this is not the natural state of things in Europe. Of course, depending on where you're from, it has been possible for stretches of time, but it seems this can last no longer than two generations. Politics forces itself in cycles onto the attention of Europeans since the Wars of Religion started by Martin Luther.

And it is much easier to see here how the political disturbances of the past have created the swamps we now live in.

Rome has struck me as a place that lives with the past as an immediate and present reality. Its entire history is still here, and people don't forget it. It may look like a silly and rather touristy gesture, but I think there is more to the fact that the Commune di Roma lays a wreath at the foot of Julius Caesar's statue on his birthd...(oh no wait, that's my birthday,) on March 15 every year.

Europeans in general live with, if not in, the past. And the realities of the present are informed by the bloodthirsty realities of the 18th, 19th and 20th century past much of which is well within living memory.

Europe is withdrawing in on itself in a way that most Americans I think can't really understand. Most British too. I know a lot of Trads who see this, because Trads are interested in historical continuity. I have had lots of debates and conversations with other Trads about what should be done in the face of what nearly all of them agree is a serious time of trouble brewing.

But I see that now that feeling of impending doom - of standing on a shore and with your hair being blown by the wind created by the 1000-foot tidal wave coming at you at 550 mph - is beginning to leak out into the merely 'conservative' circles like that occupied by Rod Dreher. And a bit into groups of people who aren't really anywhere in particular on that political scale.

For myself, I think the idea of stockpiling and learning gardening is a bit of self-deception. If a collapse comes, the kind of collapse of social order that is often talked about in novels, the likelihood is that there will be very few choices for most of us. My feeling is that it is not 'survival,' if it comes to that, that will be most important, or even feasible, but how we choose to deal, morally and spiritually, with what is happening to us, whatever it may be.

But somehow, living in Italy, in a town where the oldest thing was built by a civilization whose language was lost by the time of the Emperor Claudius, it doesn't seem likely that things will "end". Change, certainly, but probably not as much as we might think. People in the Etruscan port of Pupluna or Roman Aquae Caeretanae, probably went to the shops in more or less the same place I do on weekends. They probably bought mostly the same kind of food. They likely had similar jobs to most of the people who live there now. Truth is, things don't change much. People still got to eat. Got to live somewhere. Got to have social interaction. They eat, sleep, get married, go to work, have children. It's what the humans do, in between fighting. And the fighting doesn't usually last long.

Civilization is more or less a necessity of human survival. It's a function of having thumbs, probably.

One thing is for sure. I am enjoying the view from the Capital of the World. It's a bit like taking a cruise to watch icebergs calving off Greenland's ice fields. Because it's all so huge, so utterly, enormously indifferent to our little problems, it becomes possible to look at it somewhat dispassionately, and see that it is fascinating. Even if it might kill you.

Rome has always been the best place to watch the end of the world.

It seems Auntie is letting just anyone in these days

On Monday, the Corporation announced that it has appointed a Muslim as head of religious broadcasting. This is not a joke, I can assure you.


Retired Presbyterian minister Dr. Robert Coulter said the appointment of Aaqil Ahmed was "a juvenile gimmick".

"According to the Church of England 70% of the UK are Christian, 3% are Muslim yet the BBC for its head of religious broadcast appoints a Muslim," he said.

Religious commentator Clifford Longley said the complaints were "spurious".

Well, if he's a practising Muslim, he probably believes in a single personal God who created everything.

That probably puts him ahead in Christian doctrine of these two yahoos, at any rate.

Waiting for the Barbarians

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are to arrive today.

Why such inaction in the Senate?
Why do the Senators sit and pass no laws?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today.
What laws can the Senators pass any more?
When the barbarians come they will make the laws.

Why did our emperor wake up so early,
and sits at the greatest gate of the city,
on the throne, solemn, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today.
And the emperor waits to receive
their chief. Indeed he has prepared
to give him a scroll. Therein he inscribed
many titles and names of honor.

Why have our two consuls and the praetors come out
today in their red, embroidered togas;
why do they wear amethyst-studded bracelets,
and rings with brilliant, glittering emeralds;
why are they carrying costly canes today,
wonderfully carved with silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today,
and such things dazzle the barbarians.

Why don't the worthy orators come as always
to make their speeches, to have their say?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today;
and they get bored with eloquence and orations.

Why all of a sudden this unrest
and confusion. (How solemn the faces have become).
Why are the streets and squares clearing quickly,
and all return to their homes, so deep in thought?

Because night is here but the barbarians have not come.
And some people arrived from the borders,
and said that there are no longer any barbarians.

And now what shall become of us without any barbarians?
Those people were some kind of solution.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1904)

I'm extremely irritated.

A friend of mine said I could borrow his copy of America Alone, which, believe it or not, I've not read yet. (Come on, I've seen ALL of the Great One's videos on YouTube a hundred times.)

I wanted to get into it this long weekend (Long live the Queen!!! ...even though she's been dead a hundred and eight years).

But he went off to Tuscany for the weekend and forgot to give it to me. Leaving me with nothing but the last half of (my sixth in a row) Terry Pratchet novel, and a collection of essays on Zionism and 1930s Europolitics by Hannah Arendt.

But now I see that Kathy has a review of his new book out.




A new book?

Who knew about this?

Steyn is incapable of writing a tedious line. As reviewers noted about his last book, the demographic doomsday tome America Alone, reading Mark Steyn can be the most fun you’ll have getting depressed

Found him!

The only Catholic in America who didn't know.

[Auxiliary Milwaukee bishop William] Callahan, who's known Weakland for years, said he's

surprised by Weakland's admission that he is gay.

“I think it caught me off guard. It was not necessarily something I was ready to hear coming from the Archbishop,” Callahan said.


Oooohhhh silly me! I see now that he meant that he was surprised Weakland has admitted it.

I'm so slow.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovsky

former Soviet political dissident, author and political activist.

He spoke in 2006 to a group in Brussels at the invitation of Fidesz, the Hungarian Civic Forum.

He said, quite forthrightly, that the EU is the new Soviet Union.

I guess he'd be in a position to know:

Bukovsky was one of the first to expose the use of psychiatric imprisonment against political prisoners in the Soviet Union. He spent a total of twelve years in Soviet prisons, labor camps and in psikhushkas, forced-treatment psychiatric hospitals used by the regime as special prisons.

"Go through all the structures, all the features of this emerging European monster, and it more and more resembles the Soviet Union. Of course, it’s a milder version of the Soviet Union. Please don’t misunderstand has no gulag. It has no KGB, not yet. But I’m very carefully watching such structures as Europol, for example. And that really concerns because this organisation will have power probably even more than the KGB. They will have diplomatic immunity. I cannot imagine the KGB with diplomatic immunity. That’s even more frightening than it is."

by passing laws criminalizing "hate speech", "racism" and "xenophbia", Bukovsky said,

"What you have observe taken in perspective, is the systematic introduction of ideology which will be enforced later...and apparently, that's the whole purpose of Europol. Otherwise, why would we need it? That for me is very suspicious. And I'd watch very carefully who is persecuted for what and what is happening now.

That is one field in which I am an expert. I know how gulags spring up."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Life in Italy

Of course, depending upon one's personality, one could see this as criticism or praise. But it's all true.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I knew we could count on him

good to know that some things, at least, don't disappoint in this modern world.

Lombardi does it again.

The Pope was "never in the Hitler Youth: never, never, never," announced the Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi at a press conference in Jerusalem today.

Ah, actually...

But hey. Good to know you're on the job.

1400th Anniversary

Tomorrow, there will be a Solemn Mass at the Church of Santa Maria ad Martyres in commemoration of its 1400 years as a Catholic Church.

At two o'clock.
In 609 the Byzantine emperor Phocas gave the building to Pope Boniface IV, who converted it into a Christian church and consecrated it to Santa Maria ad Martyres, now known as Santa Maria dei Martiri.

The building's consecration as a church saved it from the abandonment, destruction, and the worst of the spoliation which befell the majority of ancient Rome's buildings during the early medieval period.

Be there, or...


be in another country, I guess.

Can't think of any other reason you'd miss it.

You keep on using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means

via email, Dr. Dianne Irving writes that we really can't talk to them because the words we use while they are the same words, do not mean the same things:

In a recent article in the New York Times by Peter Steinfels ("Roman Catholics' War Over Abortion", NYTimes, May 9, 2009) Steinfels attempts to "explain" the concerns of Roman Catholics over the invitation to President Obama to speak and receive an honorary doctorate degree at Notre Dame University...

Classic American Catholic dissent: all one has to do is observe the category for this Steinfels article in the New York Times: "Beliefs" -- the effort being to frame the debates (which they always do so successfully) by assuring the readers that abortion is just a "belief", that one only believes that abortion kills innocent human beings. And like any belief, in our democratic, pluralistic, multicultural society one person's or groups beliefs must not be allowed to outweigh the beliefs of the rest of those in society (or, as in the mini-version of utilitarian ethics called "communitarianism", where the beliefs of the majority in a community outweigh the beliefs of the minority in a community).


Something interesting happening in this - so far - entirely gaffe-free trip to the Holy Land.

Damian T. says:
Pope 'walks out' of meeting after anti-Israel diatribe by sheikh
"Chief Islamic Judge of the Palestinian Authority, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, launched a poisonous verbal attack at Israel at a Monday night gathering attended by Pope Benedict XVI.

In a meeting with organizations involved in inter-religious dialogue at the Notre Dame Jerusalem Center, Tamimi called upon Muslims and Christians to unite against what he said were the murderous Israelis.

Taking the podium after the pope without being on the original list of speakers scheduled for the evening, Tamimi, speaking at length in Arabic, accused Israel of murdering women and children in Gaza and making...

Now, the only problem I can see here is that it is going to be quite difficult for the liberal media to turn this into a "gaffe" or "error" or "public relations disaster".

But I have every confidence in the New York Times, BBC, Guardian and Reuters. They'll figure it out, I'm sure.

Maybe we should start a pool.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A year ago today

On May 9th, I was happy to enjoy an afternoon at the beach with friends followed by a roof-top barbeque in Santa Marinella. It marks exactly one year since I first went to Rome to visit friends.

Chris Wells and John Sonnen, with the Tyrhennian sea in the background.

The air in the evening was alive with swallows.

It doesn't get much better than this.

Terminating a generation

Frankly, there are days when I think that a take-over by Islamic extremists is the only possible hope to save our culture.

Out of around 40,000 pregnancies more than 20,000 were terminated - the first time more had chosen this option than become mothers. The figure is higher than 2007, when it just hit 50 per cent, and consistent with a steady upwards trend since the Government started its controversial Teenage Pregnancy Strategy in 1999.

Got it.

Signed a thingy and paid a packet of money and move in on June 1.


Enjoy your pensions, free health care and welfare benefits while you can

because it's going to be over pretty soon.

In fact, it already is.

H/T to J.P. Sonnen

Friday, May 08, 2009

You meet the nicest people in this office

I came in the other day and this nice American was sitting in the library, using my internet connection. He came in a few more times. We chatted about Rome a little bit, but were both busy with work.

This evening, he said, "Well, I'm on my way back to the US tomorrow". I asked what he did there.

He said, "I'm the president of the Faith and Reason Institute."

You're Robert Royal. I had just taken a few minutes this morning to read this. At the end of it, I thought, "Gee, I wonder how I could get hold of this chap to interview him. He sounds interesting."

Well, the world might not be small, but Rome sure is.

Aye, there's the rub.

Just when the left thought they were all pally.

Muslims in Britain have zero tolerance of homosexuality

British Muslims hold more conservative opinions towards homosexual acts, abortion, viewing pornography, suicide and sex outside marriage than European Muslims, polling markedly lower when asked if they believed these things were morally acceptable.

The most dramatic contrast was found in attitudes towards homosexuality. None of the 500 British Muslims interviewed believed that homosexual acts were morally acceptable. 1,001 non-Muslim Britons were interviewed.

Didja catch that "none" part?

But hey, keep on appeasing them. I'm sure they'll kill you last.

People are nice

This just in via email:

"Hi, I'm an Italian Catholic and I love your blog! I was so worried about Winnie, I'm glad she's OK."


Me too.

Oo oo!!! Please miss, pick me! Pick me!

"I'm not perky. But I want to be".

I think I feel a meme coming on!

Home Office name hate promoters excluded from the UK

plus this:
I Want To Be Banned From England Like Michael Savage

equals this:

Let's play a game.

The "I Want to be Banned from Britain Too" game.

1) List your Thoughtcrimes.

Here's mine:

I believe that Jesus Christ, a male Jew who lived in 1st century Palestine at the time of Tiberius Caesar, who was born to a woman who remained a virgin before, during and after His birth, is the only Son of the living God and that He died on the cross for our sins. And that a piece of bread becomes His body and blood (soul and divinity) when a duly ordained, male, member of the Roman Catholic Church says the right words over it.

I believe in the devil and hell and that people go there who disobey God.

Including people who disobey him "sincerely".

I believe that "error has no rights" and that "outside the Church there is no salvation".

I believe that babies do not come from the stork but from inside their mummies and that when a lady has an abortion, the baby is killed.

I believe that Adam and Eve really existed and were man and woman, respectively, and that their union, in accord with the observable laws of nature, is the model for all marriages.

I believe in the logical principle of non-contradiction: that two opposed things cannot be "reconciled", "balanced", or nuanced to find a "third way" between them that will make everyone in the world happy.

I believe that really bad criminals should be executed.


2) Email them to Jack-boot Jacquie Smith, Gordo's Home Secretary,

with the following note:

Dear eminent mouthpiece of our Dear Leader,

With regard to your most recent efforts to rid our nation of wrongthinkfulness, I wish to submit the enclosed list of thoughtcrimes, to which I freely and willingly admit.

I have come to see the innapropriateness of my ways. I hereby certify that I wish to be helped to realise a more tolerant and diversity-minded lifestyle.

I therefore request immediate retrieval by duly authorised agents of the state and transport to the nearest facility for re-education.

Thank you for your consideration.


3) pass it on.

I tag:

Fr. Finigan
Steve Skojec
The Carolina Cannonball
Mary Alexander
and Dale Price

I told you to do that before we left!

Forget something, Holy Father?

Well well. Pope Benedict has gone off on another politically delicate trip without having sacked that walking, talking leg-hold trap he employs as a media spokesman.

I expect the headlines over the next few days will be very interesting. It doesn't seem to matter now what the Pope actually says, as long as he's got his perfidious faithful Lombardi with him, I'm sure it will be an exciting week.

The media is certainly starting off on the right note:

HaaretzFar-rightist MK: Hitler Youth pope not welcome in Israel

ReutersIslamists say Pope's Mideast visit provocative

the Guardian Pope Benedict must be a 'penitent pilgrim' on Jerusalem visit

Now here's something you don't see every day in the media

an actual African, on AIDS programmes in Africa:

Nigeria: In Defence of the Pope
by Nwachukwu Egbunike
4 May 2009

I was in Cameroon for the papal visit and his statement on condoms was a non-issue. On the contrary Cameroonians were grateful to Benedict for telling the truth to power. His admonition to Christians to speak out against "corruption and abuses of power" was a hit, precipitating a domino effect. Curiously enough, this was hardly reported by most foreign media. Perhaps threatened by Benedict's nerve to contest their 'infallibility' in setting global agenda for HIV/AIDS, the media became hysterical.

This condescending attitude was not lost on most of us in the news business. This is not the first, nor will it be the last time that Africa will be viewed from the biased prism of a childish continent. The issue of condoms and the curtailing of transmission of HIV/AIDS have always been controversial.

Remarkably there are two schools of thoughts. Some elitist African puppets, who have been milking most of these foreign agencies, give the impression that all we need is condoms. On the other hand, the less vocal majority, know that the African worldview is essentially polygamous. Thus any intervention that does not put this into account is bound to fail.

That is why; condoms will not solve the AIDS palaver, rather it will only aggravate it. Condom advocacy is like trying to quench a fire with petrol.

But of course, well, honestly, he's just a darkie.

What can he possibly know?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Thank you St. Anthony!

St. Anthony, St. Anthony
Please come down
Someone is lost
And can't be found

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Why again?

Or, maybe the BNP electoral success train can be attributed to this:

a withering report on the impact of surveillance on society released by a House of Lords committee today.

"Surveillance is an inescapable part of life in the UK," the peers' select committee on the constitution laments. "Every time we make a telephone call, send an email, browse the internet, or even walk down our local high street, our actions may be monitored and recorded.

"To respond to crime, combat the threat of terrorism and improve administrative efficiency, successive UK governments have gradually constructed one of the most extensive and technologically advanced surveillance systems in the world."


I've noticed a string of editorials lately, most in the Guardian, that have proposed various measures to prevent electoral wins by the BNP.

It's as if, all of a sudden, people are worried they are going to win MEP and council seats.

I just wonder if anyone has asked themselves why, precisely, the BNP are doing so well with the electorate.



In September 2006, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, Codie Stott, asked a teacher if she could sit with another group to do a science project as all the girls with her spoke only Urdu. The teacher's first response, according to Stott, was to scream at her: "It's racist, you're going to get done by the police!" Upset and terrified, the schoolgirl went outside to calm down. The teacher called the police and a few days later, presumably after officialdom had thought the matter over, she was arrested and taken to a police station, where she was fingerprinted and photographed. According to her mother, she was placed in a bare cell for 3 1/2 hours. She was questioned on suspicion of committing a racial public order offence and then released without charge. The school was said to be investigating what further action to take, not against the teacher, but against Stott. Headmaster Anthony Edkins reportedly said: "An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark. We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form."

probably has a lot to do with it.

Of your charity...

kindly pray for the repose of the soul of Frederick Hill,
my mother's adoptive father.
He passed away very peacefully
after a long illness at ten am yesterday.

He will be remembered by me especially, for his tremendous kindliness and good humour.

Requiescat in pace.

Monday, May 04, 2009

This day in history

May 4, 1979

Margaret Thatcher becomes the first woman Prime Minister in British history.

Socialists cry “Power to the people”, and raise the clenched fist as they say it. We all know what they really mean — power over people, power to the State.


They don't make working class women like that anymore.

Are you thinking about it?

A Catholic asking for the Traditional Mass in Paisley diocese received an email from Bishop Tartaglia, who responds:
Are you sure your request is not just an affectation? Think about it.


thought about it.

Perhaps y'all would like to write to his excellency Bishop Tartaglia and share your thoughts.

The historical perspective

Where do you live?

Somewhere really old.

The extreme antiquity of Rome and Italy in general is a constant source of fascination for us North American ex-pats and tourists.

This, about my own neighbourhood in Santa Marinella, is from the website of the Odescalchi castle.

The Odescalchi Castle is located in a position well known in antiquity for its strategic and landscape qualities. For the Etruscans, the harbour was the point of arrival for merchandise coming from Carthage. Later on in time, the Romans settled here, re-naming it Punicum. Here they built a splendid sea-side villa which belonged to the great consul Ulpiano.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Norman tower was erected (12th century). Still standing to this day, it was built with the scope of defending the coastline from pirate attacks.

In 1567, with an edict published by Pius V, it became part of a larger-scale defence system of towers running along the coast from Terracina to Porto Ercole.

At the end of the 16th Century the observation tower was encircled by a tall enclosure.

Here's a bit more, translated rather creatively from Italian:

On the promontory of Santa Marinella, where now is found the Odescalchi Castle, according to Tabula Peutingeriana, where the site of the ancient Punicum could be found, a settlement of Etruscan origin, born in coincidence with a point of easy area, protected from winds and the sea.

The name Punicum, by the connection to the frequency of this track of coast by part of the Punic people, may derive from the Latin name of pomegranate (malum punicum) a plant that in ancient epoch, together with other elements of the natural landscape, was used often as topography point of reference (ad punicum).

In the Roman age near Punicum was built a great and luxury marine villa called Ulpianus, including a port and an establishment for fish farming, bought perhaps at the start of the III century A.D. by the famous jurisconsult Ulpianus.

There is the remains of an Etruscan bridge too. I'll get some pics. The commune of S. Mar. is building a little park around it.

May First Weekend

How to spend a Saturday in Italy.

Loafing about on the terrace with a long lunch and a few bottles of wine.

Then off to the beach.
The water, contrary to alternate reports, was lovely. Cool but not cold.

All the proper rubrics were followed.

The long meditative strolls up and down in the surf.

The burying of the feet in the sand.

Followed by gelato and an evening discussing the sources of scripture.


A few more flower pics, just because I know how much they annoy our good friend and loyal long-time reader, DF.

On the hillside above Santa Marinella.

Odescalchi castle (with the zoom).


You can see why they are a little hard to spot.

I think the little ones with the green stripes are not really gekkoes. They live in the grass and it seems that these true gekkoes live in rock walls and come out during the day to soak up the sun.

Note too, the little round pads on its fingers for gripping the walls.

Hopeful Giardino

Went to have a look at that flat again on Saturday morning and leaned over the fence to take a few snaps of the giardino.

Still waiting to hear back from the owners to make an appointment to negotiate.

I'm thinking of going over there again and pitching a little St. Joseph's medal over the fence.

I don't know exactly, other than St.Joseph, to whom one prays traditionally, to get a flat one wants, but extra help in this regard would be greatly appreciated.

Signs and Symbols

Indeed, it is:

How one clerical friend deals with helpful Italian health warnings.

Ah, no, I don't think so, actually. Thanks though. ("Sinistra Europea" indeed!)

The better-dressed Roman clerics are all wearing foxes this year. Didn't you hear?

Is it symbolic, do you think?

Walking through a ruined church, no less.

(No, it's OK. You don't have to watch the whole thing.)

H/T to J.B.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Ah, the sixties. And that big ol' window Good Pope John left hanging open when he died.

The happy end to the story?

She and her lesbian lover committed suicide.

The New Springtime strikes again.

And I'm really Polly Toynbee

Oh! how come no one ever calls me an undercover Marxist lesbian?

Nobody loves me.

Jarndyce and Jarndyce

Some HRC cases have been in the works for 20 years.

Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means... Innumerable children have been born into the cause; innumerable old people have died out of it... The little plaintiff or defendant who was promised a new rocking-horse when Jarndyce and Jarndyce should be settled has grown up, possessed himself of a real horse, and trotted away into the other world.

Fair wards of court have faded into mothers and grandmothers; a long procession of Chancellors has come in and gone out; the legion of bills in the suit have been transformed into mere bills of mortality; there are not three Jarndyces left upon the earth perhaps since old Tom Jarndyce in despair blew his brains out at a coffee-house in Chancery Lane; but Jarndyce and Jarndyce still drags its dreary length before the court, perennially hopeless.

An interesting rhetorical development

The president of Brazil, the odious Luiz Lula, has said that he will pass legislation to "criminalize words and acts offensive to homosexuality".

But observe the way he has used the noun 'homosexuality'. He has used it, not to describe an "orientation", but in the way one would describe a religion.

Stick "Catholicism" or "Judaism" in there and you will see what I mean.

A word from Vladivostok

Some time ago, I became interested in the work being done by this little society of missionaries to Russia. They're the real thing. Catholic missionaries whose first priority is to bring the light of the Catholic Faith, through charitable works, to the suffering poor and sick in the farthest-flung end of Russia.

They've persevered through a lot: opposition from a former bishop, lack of funds, obstruction from Russian authorities who hate Catholics, language barriers and the sheer mountain - mountain range - of work to be done. They run many programmes, including scouts for the kids, post-abortion counselling for the many women who have had, usually, many abortions, a soup kitchen and drop-in centre for elderly people, and visiting hospitals.

Just got this latest message from one of the sisters whom I met several years ago at a conference on the religious life in Chicago. If you have a few spare dollars or Euros or pounds, consider sending it to this very worthy cause.

Monday was our first visit to the hospice here in Vladivostok. It is free, and in terrible condition. Excellent medical help is available now if you can pay for it, but the hospice is the alternative for those who cannot pay. There are about forty patients there, mostly elderly, but some are there trying to recuperate from accidents, and a few are even mentally ill people in their 30's or 40's.

Thankfully, it was a sunny day, about 60 degrees, so the staff let us wheel some people outside in wheelchairs. They only own three wheelchairs, and the third fell apart when they tried it, so only two elderly people can go outside at a time. One woman, Nina, told me that she had not been outside for 3 or four months, due to the weather and probably lack of available staff. She was so grateful to be in the sun! She came out all bundled up in blankets, a furry hood and several head scarfs, but soon removed at least the hood. She told me that she used to have a large house (6 rooms) with a large vegetable garden, and that for over thirty years she had never been sick. But then she fell and hurt her leg, and now she's in the hospice. Another woman, Evgenia Semenova, crossed herself several times on the way outside. I asked her if she's a believer, and she said, yes, Orthodox.

She asked me what Church I belong to, and wrinkled her nose a little when I said "Catholic". She lamented that there are so many different churches when there is only one God, which I agreed with, but then she said that the Catholic Church was founded in the 6th century, after the Muslims! She says that she's studied the
Bible for a long time and that she didn't believe that I know much about it, because you have to read it every day. But she, too, enjoyed the sun and when we asked if we could take her picture, she took off her head scarf and fluffed out her grey curls and asked if she wasn't beautiful? :)I hope to send a few pictures by email soon.


On Wednesday, we went back to the hospice to help feed the patients. To get there from the church,which is on a steep hill, first you go down about 200 or so uneven steps and around the corner to the bus stop. You ride about 10 minutes or so, and then walk across train tracks, around the corner, and up another steep hill, past a children's clinic and a hospital--about 35 minutes in all, which isn't bad timing-wise.

To feed the patients, we sat next to them on their beds, because chairs are scarce. One woman asked me to open the window, and I eventually understood what she meant through her motions, because I didn't understand all the words. She had me stand on her bed to get to the window sill, because the little window was out of reach. The women were much more talkative than the men, and were curious when I told them that I want to be a nun.

One woman who was just admitted on Monday told me that she used to always attend the concerts at the Catholic Church in town, and that she greatly misses the beautiful music. She was very happy when I told her that I'm going to bring my harp soon to the hospice! She said she'll be waiting. I hope to go again tomorrow. We just wanted to make sure that we knew the way well before carrying the harp across town.

A Secret Life

A butterfly roosting in the early morning sun. Like all Italians, he preferred to have a little lie-in on May Day.

But he is obviously not a Catholic butterfly. All good Catholics in Italy hold their heads up on this day, and go to work.