Monday, August 31, 2009

Five Things Meme

I've thought of a meme that might get me in trouble. Of course, if it's a meme and enough people do it, I won't be in trouble alone, which has always been my favourite kind of trouble to be in.

Five Things that Really Annoy You about Other Christians

in no particular order:

1 - Signing their emails, especially their professional emails, "for His kingdom" or "in His mercy" or with some other inappropriately personal piety;

2 - being possessed of a total inability to talk about anything but "the issues" (ie: abortion, the badness of Obama, the corruption of the bishops yadda yadda yadda) while you are trying to have a fun time at the pub. GET. A. LIFE. Please;

3 - (mostly women) equating being badly/frumpily dressed with holiness and personal piety;

4 - shrieking like a vampire caught in a sunroom when you praise some Officially Inappropriate film or TV show; (actually, I have to admit that I don't always hate this, and sometimes say that I like Boston Legal or Fight Club on purpose and then sit back and watch the fun, but I'm Notoriously Mean and a Bad Catholic, so it's probably just me.)

5 - using "I'll pray for you" as a tool of emotional blackmail;

...add your own.

The Bell Curve of Personhood

The pieces are moving into place.

Obama's new "health Czar",
Dr. Emmanuel has stated repeatedly in public forums such as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that doctors were driving up health-care costs because they value the Hippocratic Oath as "an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of cost or effect on others."

Dr. Emmanuel raises the possibility of a new ethical system, the "Complete Lives System" that would ration care away from the elderly, away from infants, and away from human beings judged unable to rationally participate in society (such as those with dementia), in favor of those aged 15-44, who have the best chance "to live a complete life.

Hmm..."Complete Lives System" huh?

Reading the above, I instanly recognised this as my good old Bell Curve of Personhood.

I think I told y'all about how I once gave a few talks to teenagers in Catholic schools. Kind of Life Issues 101.

In those talks, I developed what I called the Utilitarian Bell Curve of Personhood.

The Bell Curve of Personhood was a kind of diagram illustrating how the abortion/euthanasia/Bioethics logic works. Some years ago, bioethicists were having a grand time at conferences and in peer review journals trying to work out exactly how a human being qualifies for this ephemeral thing they invented called "personhood".

The Bioethics (cf. Utilitarianism) personhood theory assigns a certain amount of personhood according to a set of criteria. Who sets the criteria and what is on the list exactly is open to debate, as is the number of boxes a human must tick to qualify, but the essential gist is that personhood isn't something that comes automatically with the right type and number of genes.

You have to earn it.

You might think that the personhood clock starts at birth, but bioethicists are not so naive. They do, in fact, assign a modicum of personhood to embryos, even to the very first single-cell stage. It's just that it isn't enough personhood to prevent you being killed. You certainly get quite a lot of Personhood Points (PPs) for being born successfully. But lose them again if you have some kind of defect that makes it hard for you to get on in life without help.

You get the gist, I'm sure.

People who have very little of each of the items on the list were afforded a low level of personhood and were at the lowest parts of the curve. People with lots of them got to be right on the top of the curve.

Too far down on the curve and "society" should have the right to kill you for being too inconvenient or expensive, or if your parts are useful in some way.

But watch out! Being on the top of the curve doesn't make you safe. The highest point is one from which we slip all too soon and too easily.

Why, the $150,000 a year, white computer engineer could have a stroke from too much stress. He might find himself unable to communicate after his stroke and therefore unable to work. He slips down that curve and into the eugenicists' disintegration chambers before you can say 'socialised medicine'.

I see that Mr. Obama is moving the free world closer to that happy day when my utopian sci fi novel [that yes, I'm still working on, now and then] will come true in which the world is a much nicer place because illness, disability and even social discontent are dimly remembered myths of a long lost past. Medicine has abandoned its former and untenable dedication to treating ill and disabled people one at a time and trying to cure their illnesses and mollify their disabilities, and has been reformed to instead treat "illness" and "disability" by the much cheaper method of simply getting rid of sick and disabled people.

I like to work on the principle that the scariest fiction is the one closest to current reality.


Steyn's having a fun time, tweaking that tail:
A female couple can choose to conceive. A male couple—Barrie and Tony from Chelmsford, England—can choose to conceive and both be registered as the biological fathers of their children not so much on the technical grounds that they had “co-mingled” their sperm before shipping it out to their Fallopian time-share in California but out of a more basic sympathy that this is how Barrie and Tony “self-identify” and it would be cruel to deny them.

A woman in Bend, Ore., can choose to become a man, and then a “pregnant man.” A man can choose to become a woman. A man can choose to get halfway to becoming a woman, and then decide it’s more fun to “live in the grey area.”

Biologically, Barrie or Tony, but not both, is the sole father of their child; the “pregnant man” is pregnant but not a man; the he/she living in “the grey area” is in reality black or white—at least according to what we used to call “the facts of life.” But issuers of passports, drivers’ licences, even birth certificates and no doubt one day U.S. Department of Homeland Security visas now defer to the principle of “self-identification.”

So, I think I get the logic here. If we all have to agree that Stan/Loretta can have not only the right to have babies, but the actual babies themselves, then reality really is a construct of the imagination and we can have anything we want and everyone else has to go along with it, right?

OK, index fingers on temples, eyes squeezed shut as tight as they will go, and concentrate...

I hereby self-identify as fabulously wealthy.

Oh, and that I look like a 23 year-old Diana Rigg.


Cardinal Rog weighs in

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who worked with Kennedy in an unsuccessful effort to achieve comprehensive immigration reform in 2007, said "the voiceless, the powerless and the most needy of our citizens have lost a great champion" with the senator's death.

It's Alive

Yep, I remember having exactly the same reaction as Kathy. I don't remember how old I was, maybe ten or eleven. But I certainly came to precisely the same conclusion as Final Girl:Babies are evil and being pregnant is weird!

But it was certainly helped along by the general cultural ambiance created by my mother's fem-bot hippie friends. I don't know if they realised what sort of interesting emotional and logical feedback loop it created in my head to hear so regularly that having children ruins women's lives.

Errr... should I apologise then?

If we explain it s l o w l y e n o u g h

maybe they will understand.

(What? It could happen)

L'Osservatore Romano just couldn't help itself, I guess:
Crediting Kennedy with being "constantly on the front line in battles over such matters as the protection of immigrants, arms control, the minimum wage," it adds that "but he also unfortunately took positions favorable to abortion."

The article does not mention that, in addition, the senator supported deadly embryonic stem cell research, "homosexual marriage," and the the funding of contraceptive distribution programs, all positions anathema to the Catholic Church.

Are you paying very close attention? Concentrating? Got that voice recorder running so you can review later?

OK, here we go:

Theologically speaking, the one characteristic that unites all the issues you mention, like arms control, minimum wage, immigration and "civil rights" (the black movement for those not accustomed to US journalese) is that these are all issues on which Catholics can disagree in good conscience. The Catholic Church does not rule on how Catholics must respond to them.

In addition, the solutions to poverty, immigration, taxation, wages, crime and "civil rights" offered by the left are not the same as the teaching of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

We get, for example, to say that the US winning the arms race against the Soviets was a categorically Good Thing.

We get to say that a Big Brother government imposing minimum wages, price controls and tax burdens on businesses is actually really bad for the economy and therefore bad for "The Poor" (TM).

We get to say that the death penalty is a good thing and that too many immigrants coming in from cultures that are radically different from that of the receiving country does great harm.

We get to say that the best way to get people out of poverty is to refuse to give them welfare.

We get to say that the Americans made a huge mistake in pulling out of Saigon and not pushing forward into North Korea in order to contain the red threat from the East.

We get to say that black people (and Indians) would be better off if we stopped telling them how hard done by they are and giving them welfare.

These are all perfectly legitimate opinions to be held by Catholics, supported by Catholic teahing.

Now, here's a quiz for you: what is the one defining characteristic of the other issues mentioned (and not mentioned) by L'Osservatore Romano (the Pope's Paper), which Ted "unfortunately" supported?

I'll give you a minute to think about it.

Oh, and one more point for L'Osservatore Romano, strictly about journalistic integrity: when you want to maintain a facade of objectivity, might be a good idea not to refer to Senator Edward Kennedy as "Ted". Mkay?

And speaking of speaking ill of the dead...

Binky again:

One aspect of his political past that has received scant attention is his hatred of Ronald Reagan. How much did he hate that Republican president? Enough to give information, advice, and to make visits to the USSR to help them oppose Reagan and his conservative agenda. Like so many shameful aspects of the Cold War, the memory-hole has kept his reputation rather more spotless than it deserves.

At best, he might be pardoned this crime as a useful idiot– but it seems that he was rather more than that, in cooperating with the KGB and Soviet Regime to undermine the democracy of his own country, by seeking to undermine and weaken the duly elected president, according to the overwhelming popular vote of Americans.

The Left is supremely skilled at forgetting, changing, or misrepresenting its own ugly history, support of tyrants and death-dealing regimes, and disloyalty and treason to its own side, whether for utopian or political reasons.

hey 'conservatives': time to put the money on the table

Good point Binks:

IT’S TIME FOR CONSERVATIVE PEOPLE to put up, or shut up. Support conservative causes, buy conservative books, subscribe to the magazines, donate to our various online causes, and do it now.

One thing liberals and radicals do is put their money where their mouth is. We need to develop a habit of doing that, along with supporting our religious and other essential charities as we find them near us.

But it might have been nice to get a direct plug. Everyone in the 'sphere seems to like LifeSite, but kind of start shuffling their feet and changing the subject when it comes to actually giving some money.

So it might have been nice to get a direct mention.

LifeSite is broke.

So cough it up, why dontcha?

If you're in the states, we'll give you a tax receipt.

Welcome aboard ladies,

And in the words of the great Anne Muggeridge,

here's your bucket, now start bailing.

BTW: Sure hope ECUSA lets you keep your lovely convent, but judging from their recent record of litigious spite against anyone who crosses them, I wouldn't hold my breath.

I for one, fully support the use of the Minotaur in questioning detainees

Is Using A Minotaur To Gore Detainees A Form Of Torture?

Thanks Steve.

Everyone has a price

and we're getting pretty close to mine here:
EU Commissioners to retire with millions

The Parliament magazine reports on Open Europe's findings that EU Commissioners retiring this year will leave with over £1 million each in pension, transition and resettlement payments. This is in addition to the salary they earn, which also tops £1 million for a five-year term, and a host of other perks that Commissioners receive during their service, such as family allowances, subsistence and entertainment allowances.

Where. Do. I. Sign. UP?!

If only I weren't terminally lazy and unambitious. Curse my laid back hippie upbringing!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Every human a wanted human...

...the unwanted please take the line on the left.

Here we are faced with the reality of the individual that politicians, society, or even his or her own family has rejected as "unwanted." Unwanted people, evidently, are often considered not really people at all; and this makes their suffering an easy thing for us to handle. The Human Experience re-introduces us to that outdated discomfort.

A homeless woman describes how people on the street immediately came to the rescue of some lost dogs, while leaving her in the cold. Later, viewers are told that Angela, a six-year-old, constantly smiling streak of pink that brightens the entire movie, was maimed and nearly killed by the father who simply wanted her dead.

This looks promising

Aug 30

Precip chance 95%

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


"...appeared to show insufficient concern for the life of a woman..."

Who owns the Boston Globe, anyone know?

Here's a little something to remember him by.

"News results
Results 1 – 10 of about 3,702 for 'Kopechne'."


In a way, the devout Catholic, chaste and serious-minded Mary Jo could be thought of as having given her life so that her killer would never become president.

Imagine the world if Obama had come to the White House in 1975.

Right-Wing smear? "Mary Jo Kopechne" overtakes "Ted Kennedy" on Twitter's Trending Topics


Mary Jo Kopechne is not forgotten.

The search term "mary jo kopechne" was the top item on Google Trends just after 1 p.m. today, a metric for Web searches that are the fastest rising. The search engine has given the search term a ranking of "on fire."

Seth Lakeman

Why the heck isn't this guy more famous?

...with one notable exception.

Teddy, we'll miss ya. We really will.

This just in by email from a US friend who wishes to remain un-named for perhaps obvious reasons:

Dear Hilary,

I know the passing of Sen. Kennedy must be a very difficult occasion for you. A great enemy of human life has died, and every normal person's inner pharisee longs to be let out, ( "Please, please, just this once!!" ), to shout with joy, to cry out and say, " Good riddance, you fat evil bastard!! " I want you to know that I support you, and I hope you will support me, in the collective struggle to dominate the inner pharisee... I personally find it very hard to restrain the impulse to let my inner pharisee send a telegraph to my Congressman, Patrick Kennedy, Teddy's equally-loathsome-but-much-much-dumber son, congratulating him on his accession to the Throne of Evil. But I shall not do this. I am restrained. I am under control.

In the meantime, let us reflect that, just at a moment when the Obamanation could really use a great organizer and rallier to his cause in the Senate, Ted, who was a great organizer and rallier to causes, has been taken away. God's timing is mysterious, but impeccable...

"Telegraph for Patrick Kennedy!"

"He's over here, sir, under the bar."

The News is Dead

No one is doing anything. It's eerie.

There is just nothing going on out there. Rome, Paris, Brussels and even London are ghost towns.

Why have I been wittering on about my hair appointments, pseudo-Norse/Anglo-Saxon poetry and recipes?

There's just no news.

Look, if you're at the beach and you see someone you recognise from the newspapers or Hansard or CNN, can you please give them a poke and see if they're planning on going back to work soon?

Tell them the journalists are all bored.

What's good: Bread n' Butter pud

I've been missing England and Englishness lately, so the other day I cracked and made a bread and butter pudding.

Now, to North American ears this might not sound like anything good, but believe me, it is worth a try. It's ridiculously cheap and easy and the result is a sort of souffle kind of thing with cakey layers surrounded by lovely fluffy eggy, custardy, lemony, sugary, raisiny stuff with a layer of gorgeous crunchy sweet goldeny stuff on top. And plus, I put fruit in.

Plums. Oh baby!


several thick slices of soft white bread, crusts off (I used left over hamburger and hotdog buns, which were perfect)
four eggs
three cups of milk
half a cup of brown sugar
tsp of ground nutmeg
three tablespoons white sugar
grated rind of one lemon
fresh butter
1/2 tsp salt

Optional (and non-traditional): plums, peaches or some other tart fresh fruit that will bake well. (Advise staying away from hard fruit like apples which will not have time to soften.)

and a cast iron enamelled dutch oven that you bought for a pound at the 50p shop.

Combine the milk, white sugar and lemon zest in a pan and set on a low heat to bring to a simmer. When the milk comes to the boiling point, take it off the heat and set it aside to let the lemon zest to steep into the milk.

Line the dutch oven with greaseproof paper so that the edges of the paper stick out the top and grease the paper inside the dutch oven with lots of butter. Cut up some teeny chunks of butter and drop them on the bottom.

Butter the bread on both sides and line the bottom of the dutch oven.

Mix the brown sugar, salt and nutmeg and sprinkle generously all over the buttered bread. Add a layer of raisins. Slice up the fruit, if you're going to use it, and add it as a layer after the raisins. Add some more little bitty chunks of butter if you're a big butter fan, (which you really ought to be; butter is one of God's little love-notes to humans). With soft fruit, suggest not peeling, since without the peel they loose all structure and just sort of disappear.

Repeat the above bread-layering exercise, leaving about an inch or so of room in the dutch oven. (Don't put the fruit or raisins on the top layer, as they will just burn and be inedible.)

Beat the eggs until they are very frothy. The eggs are the key to the fluffiness and the more you beat them the better.

When the milk/lemon mixture has cooled a bit (it cools better if you transfer it from the saucepan to a stainless steel mixing bowl), add the eggs while beating very fast with a whisk. Make sure the milk is not too hot, or the eggs will cook and the result will be scrambled eggs.

Pour the egg milk mixture over the bread layers. The milk should come up to just cover the top layer of bread. Sprinkle another generous layer of brown sugar and nutmeg over the top. Allow about 1/2 hour for the bread to soak up the liquid.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1/2 an hour or until the top has gone golden and crispy.


Best eaten hot out of the oven, but can be saved a couple of days in the fridge and makes a fabulous breakfast. Bung a piece of it into a non-stick frying pan on a medium flame with about three tablespoons of water to make some steam. The steam heats the whole thing through.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Of course, it's all about the morality of racism...

nothing whatever to do with politics...

Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), has commenced county court proceedings against the BNP on the grounds that its constitution and membership criteria are illegal because they appear to restrict recruitment to people who are white.

Gerald Warner is not, apparently the only one thinking that there might be a leeeetle bit of political motivation for this:
So, why has the EHRC not gone for so obvious a target long before this?

Even a kindly BBC inquisitor was moved to ask the Commission if this was a politically motivated move inspired by alarm at the BNP’s winning two seats in the European parliament. Not at all, was the response, contradicted almost immediately after by the observation that as the party was now becoming more influential it merited such attention.
...'and we're offended at the very suggestion!'

Nothing to see here. Move along...

The Elephant in Styen's Drawing Room?

I like Steyn, as all my regular readers know, but I have to say there are two areas he never touches upon and I am beginning to wonder why.

He talks a little in this columnabout immigration and indicates that he ususally avoids direct questions about it. But lately whenever I read him I find myself asking questions about two other areas he doesn't seem to like to talk about.

If you believe in mass immigration, you do so because it’s a talisman of your own moral virtue. If the economic argument for immigration is reductive even when it’s not plain deluded, the psychological one is not to be disdained. On the one hand, mass immigration is the price posterity levies on old-school imperialists: “They are here because we were there,” as they say in the Netherlands. But, if like Sweden you never had an imperialist bone in your body, they’re still here: “They are poor because we are rich.” And, if you’re a small urbanized nation like the Netherlands, the “challenge” of immigration is just the usual frictions that occur when people from the countryside—in this case, the Moroccan countryside—move to the cities.

So it’s the consequence of your urban planning, or your colonialism, or your wealth, or just plain you. We’ll blame anything rather than confront the central truth—that when an old, relatively unicultural society admits in a short space of time a large, young, fecund population from somewhere else, you are setting in motion a process of transformation. Caldwell asks the obvious question—“Can you have the same Europe with different people?” and gives the obvious answer: no. “Europe is not welcoming its newest residents but making way for them.”

I'm just going to pretend for a moment that I am interviewing the Great Steyn. (Likely the closest I'll ever come).

Mark, if Islam is bad, (and I think we can agree more or less on this outrageous generalisation,) and it is the absence or failure of a robust native religion that has allowed it space to grow in the dry garden of European culture, is there perhaps not a logical follow-up to our criticism? Is there some native religion that could do with a little watering to revive it? If Islam is bad and we need a religion that will stand up to it, can you suggest one? (I'll give you a hint...those big tall pointy stone buildings littered around Europe...the ones they like to have concerts in lately...)Isn't it clear that there is an obvious solution to this religious vacuum problem? Why do you never mention this?

Mark, you talk a lot about the aging of the populations of the west,
In the end, that coy French euphemism for the, um, rioters of no particular socio-religious persuasion—“youths”—gets to the heart of the matter: youths are youthful, and ethnic Europeans aren’t.
and the foolishness and shortsightedness of the immigration solution; can you think of a solution for the shrinking workforce and tax pool that does not involve immigration? Anything spring to mind when you talk about the birth dearth? Anything that we might do in legislation? Anything at all?


Never was a big Norse Saga fan, though, perhaps somewhat oddly, I have known people who were. But this struck just the right note for me.

Lately although I have been diligently clipping her claws, Winnie has been lacerating me more than usual. I think she's using my arms to practice for when the Mean Cat comes around again.

Brave Beocat, brood-kit of Ecgthmeow,
Hearth-pet of Hrothgar in whose high halls
He mauled without mercy many fat mice,
Night did not find napping nor snack-feasting.
The wary war-cat, whiskered paw-wielder,
Bearer of the burnished neck-belt, gold-braided collar band,
Feller of fleas fatal, too, to ticks,
The work of wonder-smiths, woven with witches' charms,
Sat upon the throne-seat his ears like sword-points
Upraised, sharp-tipped, listening for peril-sounds,
When he heard from the moor-hill howls of the hell-hound,

Gruesome hunger-grunts of Grendel's Great Dane,
Deadly doom-mutt, dread demon-dog.
Then boasted Beocat, noble battle-kitten,
Bane of barrow-bunnies, bold seeker of nest-booty:
"If hand of man unhasped the heavy hall-door
And freed me to frolic forth to fight the fang-bearing fiend,
I would lay the whelpling low with lethal claw-blows;
Fur would fly and the foe would taste death-food.
But resounding snooze-noise, stern slumber-thunder,
Nose-music of men snoring mead-hammered in the wine-hall,
Fills me with sorrow-feeling for Fate does not see fit
To send some fingered folk to lift the firm-fastened latch
That I might go grapple with the grim ghoul-pooch."
Thus spoke the mouse-shredder, hunter of hall-pests,
Short-haired Hrodent-slayer, greatest of the pussy-Geats.

Hairdresser update

So, I went and came out actually looking exactly like Diana Rigg in the Avengers.

This could be a picture of me.

Seriously, where can I get me a black leather cat suit in this town?

Fun with Meteorology

Called Morning Glory clouds.

They're natural cloud formations, as far as anyone knows. Obama didn't make them with his great powers.

...they appear every fall [that's 'autumn' to us anglos] over Burketown, Queensland, Australia, a remote town with fewer than 200 residents. A small number of pilots and tourists travel there each year in hopes of “cloud surfing” with the mysterious phenomenon.

Similar tubular shaped clouds called roll clouds appear in various places around the globe. But nobody has yet figured out what causes the Morning Glory clouds

Not at all a harbinger of anything.


H/T to Gregory in RI

Monday, August 24, 2009

Megalomania much?

"We are God's partners in matters of life and death."

Official US Jews offended at existence of Catholicism

must be Monday.

The Jewish leaders said they "pose no objection" to Christians sharing their faith, but said dialogue with Jews becomes "untenable" if the goal is to persuade Jews to accept Christ as their savior.

"A declaration of this sort is antithetical to the very essence of Jewish-Christian dialogue as we have understood it,"

Must have been doing it wrong up til now then.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oh yeah, Price? I'll see your Rocket Man

and raise you Julius Caesar baby!

The fun game with this is to see how big a Classic Star Trek nerd you are. How many characters and actors can you spot in the crowd? Name the episodes they are from/were in.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I have to get my hair done

and I'm afraid.

There are a million and ten little annoying things about living in a country where you really have no firm grasp of the language. It really makes it very difficult to do all the little things that one takes for granted everywhere else. You should have seen the agonies I went through a few weeks ago trying to ask for a box of wooden matches at the corner supermercato. It ends up making you realise just how much in life you don't really need and how long you can make do with not having things you used to think essential.

The language problem is compounded by the daily difficulties of an English upbringing, where you would rather die than call too much attention to yourself, clashing with the Italian national character. Trust me, they don't know what to do English diffidence in Italy.

Well, why don't you just look it up? I can hear you say.

Ah yes. Why not indeed.

Imagine trying to buy some obscure sewing notion in a sewing supply shop, for example. I mean, how do you even go about looking up iron-on pellon interfacing in a standard Collins Gem Italian/English dictionary? You go to the shop, you look forlornly around for a few minutes while the Italian shop ladies, already naturally suspicious and generally hostile, eye you malevolently. At last, you make a desperate grab for something you don't need just to avoid giving the impression that you are casing the joint and pay and flee with your jumbo coat zipper and packet of sequins, vowing to just pop over to Liverpool as soon as the price of Ryan Air flights go down in the autumn.

I got my hair done, quite wonderfully, by Libby the lady who does all the older ladies in Tattenhall. We discussed all sorts of things, including the terrors of being a grownup and trying to get your hair done by a trendy twenty-something who can't imagine why you wouldn't want to look like a teenager. (Yes, the time before Libby, I allowed someone trendy to do it, and she flattened me with some kind of flattening iron because all the teenage girls think that looking like a haystack caught in a downpour is the height of chic). Libby also knew exactly what I meant when I said I wanted to look like Diana Rigg in the Avengers, ("Well, who wouldn't?") and we had a jolly time talking about how mad the world was becoming.

I came to Italy a few weeks after that and have tried to make my Libbby/Diana Rigg hair do last, but it is hopeless now. I look very charmingly like an 18th century peasant girl in some bucolic Ford Madox Brown painting. Not at all like a sophisticated black cat-suited Diana Rigg. Nor, at this point, can I even manage anything like someone from a Jane Austen film by piling it up and pinning it in place. It all comes apart and hangs in little annoying drifts around my face.

So the time has come. I have to face it.

How do I say in Italian, "I want to look like Diana Rigg in the Avengers"? And how do I say "Dear God, please don't make me look Italian!" without giving offense?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

heh. Whaddya know. The Dayliner is still running.

I used to take this little train up island to Grandma and Grandpa's house. My mum would put me on the train in Victoria, saying, "Be good. Have a nice time. Don't let Grandma cut your hair."

That blue bridge it is crossing is the Johnson Street bridge and it spans a little narrow bit where the Inner Harbour turns ultimately into the Gorge inlet in Esquimalt. It's a draw bridge and is raised regularly to let sail boats through. Big fun watching it when I was a kid.

38 degrees on Friday...

I think I hate Italy.

I grew up here.

And spent a lot of time in a house almost exactly like this one, in the same neighbourhood: Qualicum/Parksville/Beachcomber.

What the hell am I doing in Italy?

Italy for Pete sake!


Like this, you mean?

But, why!? Why are they d-doing this to us?!

The poor little dears.

This is funny:

LCWR is complaining of
"lack of full disclosure about the motivation and funding sources" for the inquiry. The group also said it objects to the Vatican plan to keep private the reports that will be submitted to the Holy See.

Here's some motivation for you: you're a bunch of screeching heretics who repeatedly talk in public about how much y'all hate the Catholic Church.

"There's no transparency there," said Sister Annmarie Sanders, a conference spokeswoman.

There doesn't have to be, darling. It's not a corporation and it's not a democracy and they don't actually have to tell you why.

The party's over. Suck it up.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Equality and Human Rights Commission Find Six

Yep. Six.

So you're a left-handed, transsexual, Scottish-Burmese Muslim homosexual...

rare indeed.

But imagine the dole benefits you could get! I mean, when you can tick that many victim boxes, it's like, what, a free house?

The answer, obviously, is more study

This made me smile wickedly...
The point I’m trying to make is this: There are plenty of ways to understand this data beyond a victory for one side or the other in the church’s internal culture wars. These results deserve to be studied carefully and dispassionately, without leaping to conclusions about which political or theological agenda, if any, they support.

Yeah. That's the ticket. More study. What's obviously needed is for some group of religious, say a subcommittee of the LCWR, to form a working group and study the study. To see how best to interpret it in accordance with the, errr...lived experience of the subjects...

you guys just get right on that.

JPII, we don't really love you...sorry

Ah good old fashioned conservative Catholic polemics. It's been a while since I've indulged in such things...

Just passed this on to a friend of mine, let's call him George, who was for some years, and with disastrous results, ensnared in what was once the Nervous Disorder's favourite cult of personality, the Legionaries/Regnum Christi. I've been trying to tell him the facts of life for some years. A while ago, he phoned me and asked, "Is Regnum Christi a cult?" I tried not to laugh when I responded, "Yes, Regnum Christi is a cult."

"How do you know it's a cult?"

"George, everyone who isn't in Regnum Christi [especially those of us who have seen their naive friends being sucked into its maw] know that Regnum Christi is a cult."

This was a few years ago. George recently sent me a note on Facebook saying that he was sorry he had doubted me. This was after the break up of his marriage at the instigation of cult members. Not sufficiently dedicated, I guess.

I'm trying to get him to understand that you actually have to think for yourself about the Church. It's uphill work with dedicated Novus Ordo conservatives.

Why JPII Should Not be Canonised:
Though Catholics and others are loathe to admit it of an otherwise beloved Pope, John Paul II oversaw a church which deteriorated in both its inner and outer life. His callous indifference toward the victims of priestly sexual abuse in refusing to meet personally with a single one of them, and his stubborn refusal to compel the resignation from office of any of the bishops who aided, abetted, and covered-up the abuse, are testamentary to his utter failure: not as a Catholic or a theologian, but as a Pope.

And this is precisely why he should not be canonized. For in the Catholic (and popular) understanding, canonization is not simply a technical decree indicating one's everlasting abode in Paradise; it is, in addition, the Church's solemn endorsement of a Christian's heroic virtue. The question the Catholic Church must ask herself is: Was John Paul II a model of "heroic" papal virtue?

Contrary to leftist media reportage, the late Pope was not an authoritarian despot, bent on enforcing Catholic orthodoxy on an unwilling church. Quite the contrary: theological liberals and dissenters flourished in all of the Church's structures, from lay politics and Catholic universities, to the ranks of priests and bishops. Not a single pro-abortion Catholic politician has been excommunicated from the church; only a handful of openly heretical priests were asked to stop teaching theology, but were otherwise permitted to exercise their priestly ministry unhindered. The Church in Austria openly dissents from orthodox Catholicism with papal impunity. Fr. Richard McBrien, Sr. Joan Chittiser, Roger Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles, Hans Kung, Charles Curran, Notre Dame University, dissenters galore: the overwhelming majority of prominent far-leftist, theologically modernist Catholic organizations, speakers, and theologians are Catholics in good standing with their church, and are frequently given an official platform at church-sponsored institutions and events. To give just two more examples, several Catholic parishes and universities flaunt themselves as "gay-friendly" in a directory published by the Conference of Catholic Lesbians. These speakers and institutions are in just as good standing with the Church as so-called "orthodox" Catholic pundits and writers.

Religious Life Study Discovers Sky Very Big, Ocean Quite Wet

John Allen, being unintentionally funny about the religious life,

says of that study we were talking about last week that it

"contains plenty of nuggets about 'best practices' in fostering and sustaining vocations that will be of specialized interest to vocation directors and anyone involved in formation."

The first thought that popped out of my brain was, "Yeah, like, they've got to be, you know, Catholic and stuff."

With regard to theological and spiritual outlooks, the CARA study found clear differences between the “Millennial Generation,” meaning religious born after 1982, and the “Vatican II Generation,” meaning religious men and women born between 1943 and 1960.
I think the term in general use is "JPII generation". Kind of like the Coca Cola generation, but with less tooth decay and more clapping.

Millennials are far more likely to say they entered religious life out of a desire for commitment to the church, and that they entered their specific community because of its reputation for fidelity to the church. They’re more likely to wear habits, more likely to say that devotions such as Eucharistic adoration and the Liturgy of the Hours are “very important,” less eager to do ministry in non-Catholic or non-confessional settings, and more positive in their attitudes about authority.
More likely to say that they think dancing around trees and worshipping the four directions is, well, dumb. That you don't get to make up your religion as you go along and still call it Catholicism. That there are more immediately beneficial things to be doing with your time than protesting at logging camps, tie-dyeing table cloths or learning Tai Chi.

That country-club religious life just. isn't. appealing. That the people who were born of the tie-dye, peace-love-groovy-man generation have had a belly-full of the solipsism-as-lifestyle-choice of their parents' generation, and having seen the catastrophe it has brought about are giving it a pass, thanks.

The corollary is that religious orders which foster a more traditional ethos tend to have better luck attracting younger members.
Ja think?!

One sign of which way the winds are blowing: Just one percent of women’s communities belonging to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, known for having a more liberal outlook, currently have more than 10 new members in initial formation, whereas a robust 28 percent of communities belonging to the Conference of Major Superiors of Women, known for being more conservative, have 10 or more members in the early stages of membership.

To put all this into a sound-bite, the next generation of religious will be more ethnically diverse and more traditional.

He complains gently about the sarcasm of "conservatives" on this subject.

Its just that it's been FORTY YEARS. For Pete sake, how long can a group of people keep their eyes screwed shut?

Hey Computer-People

Like Trandem,

Is this spam?

"Yahoo! Alert"
Add sender to Contacts
Dear User,

We are sorry to inform you that we are currently working on securing our
server, during this process account which is not manually verified by us will
be deleted, Please confirm and submit your information for manual verification
by one of our customer care.

Information which is to be provided is below:
User Name:
User Id:
Date Of Birth:
Country (At Sign up):

Upon confirmation of information from you, we will manually verify your Yahoo!
Account and reserve it not to be deleted, We are sorry for any inconveniences
this might have cause providing your information over the email.

Warning!!! Account owner that refuses to update his/her account after two
weeks of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently.

I got it three times in my inbox this weekend.

looks like spam to me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Myth # 12

Women who go into religious life nowadays are overwhelmingly overweight, middle-aged frumps in polyester who couldn't get a date even with the help of a Visa card.

Now here's a funny thing.

There is a big study out that shows that young Catholic women are really only interested in communities of nuns who wear the habit and do all that traditional nunny bowing and scraping to authority that the fembots so loathe.

So why does the website of the National Religious Vocation Conference that did the study, feature on their "new members" page, mainly (ahem) ladies who are not, shall we say,

more representative?

Nope I don't see any agenda around here.

No sirree!

"Safe, legal and rare"

Except that it isn't safe, is it?

I've always wondered how the abortion lobby can talk with a straight face about "unsafe abortion" in places like Kenya where it is (mostly) illegal.

What is the magic that happens to a medical procedure, one that involves blindly rooting around inside a pregnant woman with sharp instruments and powerful suction devices, when it is made legal? How does the precise same procedure that was "unsafe" when illegal become "safe" when legalised?

Of course, what they will tell you is that it now does't have to be done in a "back alley" and the staff are properly trained nurses and doctors, not hacks in it for the money. And no one does it for money or political influence. If it's legal, everything is above board right?

But it's funny what happens to all that when a government attempts to make the slogan mean something. Safe, legal and rare, right?

What was the first thing again?

What's with all the shrieking and howling boys? Isn't it all about the safety of the woman?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Stamping it out

It looks like the effort by the North American episcopate, clergy and religious orders to destroy the Catholic faith only worked on the white people.

Oh well. I suppose they are the ones who really count, right?

Looks like the brown people didn't get the message that the Catholic religion is uncool.

A landmark study on vocations to religious institutes in the United States since 1993 has found that recent vocations are both more culturally diverse and characterized by common values, including fidelity to the Magisterium. The study, conducted by the Center for the Applied Research in the Apostolate for the National Religious Vocation Conference, found that although 94% of “finally-professed” religious are white, recent vocations are 21% Hispanic, 14% Asian or Pacific Islander, and 6% African or African American.

My computer went on vacation this morning

Nearly everyone has gone away and I suppose my computer has imbibed enough Italianness from the internet that it just decided to take August off. Tried for two hours today to wake it up, but it just kept mumbling vaguely about "vacanze" and rolling over and going back to sleep.

So the posting here will be light.

But it's August. Ferragosto. If you're sitting inside reading blogs, you're doing summer wrong.

I'm stuck using an Italian computer and everything is weird. It's like trying to type drunk. Everything you think you are typing comes out just slightly wrong. An interesting exercise might be made of it in left-brain right-brain theory if I were clever enough. It's a very strange feeling. Like trying to write with my left hand. None of the keyboard thingies work the same way. If you use ctrl-A, you get a kind of indent. I haven't figured out where most of the puncutation is and my fingers keep automatically trying to do it the normal way. Typing speed has gone down from about 80 per min to a kind of hunt and peck game of hide and seek. This must be what it is like to relearn to write after a stroke.

So, in short, I'm being driven nuts.

If there are any of our Rome posse out there reading this though, I would dearly love to know a good place to take one's laptop to get fixed in Rome. The exodus is almost complete. There are only two of us left here, not including clergy (and the clergy use Macs).





Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm having a little Canada-nostalgia moment

Stompin' Tom sometimes auctions off his stompin' board for charity. The last one brought in $14,000.

Release the Beachcombers!

There is a petition going around to ask the CBC to release the Beachcombers on dvd.


I grew up watching this show that was all about life on the coast of BC. It put Gibson's BC on the map. I remember watching it, glued to the snowy screen at my grandma's house, sitting on the floor with the sun streaming in and the inlet glittering in the distance. It's the quintessential Canadian television programme and the CBC hasn't produced anything nearly as good in 20 years.

Come to think of it, the little spit of land, sticking out of the side of Vancouver Island between Nanaimo and Parksville on which my grandparents built their house was called "Beachcomber". Oh dear me. It is making me homesick just thinking about it.

When I was a teenager, there was a punk band in Vancouver called Bruno Gerussi's Medalion. V. popular.

Villa d'Este

One goes in at a little entrance off the piazza that gives no clew whatever as to the glories inside. In fact, the main feature of the piazza is not the villa or the gardens, these are hidden behind high walls, but the church,

Santa Maria Maggiore

one of the older churches I've been to yet, this church was rebuilt in the 12th century. It was ordered built, over an existing Roman villa, by Pope Saint Simplicius who reigned from 468 to March 10, 483. You can see the entrance to the Villa d'Este to the right.

Unfortunately, the interior of the church, Santa Maria Maggiore, was too dim to take pictures but it had some beautiful triptychs and frescoes. And the largest collection of crystal chandeliers I've seen in one place. I was told that in the days before the Asteroid hit, all Italian churches used them for interior lighting.

This Madonna was preserved in the narthex,

as were these samples of ancient cosmetesque flooring.

Truly the frescoes were delightful and seemed to show the Cardinal as a man not only of highly refined taste, but a sense of humour.

A view of the gardens in 1600 and something.

And the same view today. (Well, on Saturday)

Wiki tells us that Franz Liszt, who evoked the garden in his Les Jeux d'Eaux à la Villa d'Este gave one of his last concerts here. The grounds of the Villa d'Este also house the Museo Didattico del Libro Antico, a teaching museum for the study and conservation of antiquarian books, a purpose than which no finer can be imagined.

When you go in the main entrance, (after paying the nice ladies your ten euros) you go into the courtyard and are led into the Appartamento Vecchio ("Old Apartment") made for the villa's builder, Ippolito Cardinal d'Este, with its vaulted ceilings frescoed in secular allegories by Livio Agresti and his students.

Even the unfrescoed rooms were beautiful and welcoming. So lovely to walk around and imagine the conversations that happened in them. One felt as though there would be a lady in a farthingale and ruff rounding a corner any moment, perhaps holding a little book, demanding imperiously to know what you were doing there, so ill dressed.

I imagine the cardinal getting up and standing in his dressing gown in the morning, with his cup of tea, looking out on the view and collecting his thoughts.

Or entertaining guests on his loggia,

looking over the gardens.

One walks down a long gallery with rooms leading into each other. At one end is a spiral stair that leads ultimately into the gardens.

Each room has a theme. This was obviously hunting, and gentlemen's outdoor pursuits.

Many of the frescoes were these extraordinary 3-D trompe l'oeil effects that the Renaissance men loved.

Some were so lifelike it made me laugh.

Lots of pagan allegorical themes, of course.

Rooms full of allegorical virtues.

I was particularly pleased to see "Opulentia" included in these. Note the triregnum.

Wouldn't you love to have a house with indoor fountains.

The chapel, surprisingly small, was closed off, but one could lean over the rope and peer in.

Evidence of the site's antiquity was this section of an ancient floor uncovered during repairs. There was a Roman villa on the spot before the benedictine convent.

When wandering around Hadrian's villa earlier in the day, we read that when the site was first being excavated, much of the marble that had decorated the emperor's palaces and baths ended up at the Villa d'Este.

We'll do the water gardens tomorrow.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hadrian's villa and the Villa d'Este

Spent a gorgeous Saturday this weekend visiting Important Monuments in Tivoli, one of the ancient cities near Rome.

The home of the Emperor Hadrian (yes, of the Wall fame) who, upon succeeding to the greatest throne in the world, took a look around the Palatine and said, "Well, bugger this!" and set off to build

a pleasure palace in the hills. (This looked way better close up. There were fish, big carp, in the pool.)

Spent a good three hours treking all over this site.

Batteries died in the first five minutes though.


But after that, we took the bus up the hill (all the best things in Italy are on the tops of these absurd tufa hills. It's a wonder the Romans didn't invent the chair lift) and I spent a happy couple of hours wandering around the Villa d'Este. There were shops and restaurants and things so we ate lunch, got some ice cream and bought batteries.

Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, it is a fine example of Renaissance architecture and the Italian Renaissance garden.

(Recommended listening while wandering around Renaissance water gardens: Arianna Savall accompanied by her father Jordi Savall)

The Renaissance villa was built on the site of an old Benedictine nunnery, but recent diggings-bout have revealed that the nunnery had been built over a Roman villa, the floor of which is preserved in one of the rooms you can go into.

I didn't read many of the blurbs (of which there is a goodly number, in English as well as Italian), preferring just to have the experience and save the lookings-up for Wiki later.

The Villa itself surrounds on three sides a sixteenth-century courtyard sited on the former Benedictine cloister.

The fountain on a side wall, framed within a Doric,

contains a sculpture of a sleeping nymph in a grotto[3] guarded by d'Este heraldic eagles, with a bas-relief framed in apple boughs that links the villa to the Garden of the Hesperides.

It's got some magnificent frescoes,

of course,

Rooms and rooms of them, but really, no one goes there for that.

It's all about the water gardens.

More tomorrow.