Haiku #48

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Written on 3:07 PM by Jack B.

Standing and waiting
Hours on end, not moving
In the DMV*


*Department of Motor Vehicles (for those who don't know)

Haiku #47 - To All Red Sox Fans

5

Written on 12:16 AM by Jack B.

Resting on laurels
Not good enough to repeat
Woe not for Boston

So I Press "NEXT BLOG" At The Top of My Blogger Bar...

1

Written on 9:07 PM by Jack B.

And the Scrabble Simulator comes up.

Okay, that was weird.

The Artificial Womb and the Future

3

Written on 8:27 PM by Jack B.

Tony Blankley has an excellent article on: Roe v. Wade v. Technology which deals with the fact that Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nation-wide in America contains the roots of its own destruction with Blackmun's arbitrary use of "viability" of the fetus as the dividing point in which the "right of privacy" of the woman to abort at any time meets the individual states' rights to restrict abortion. In 1973, viability was about 28 weeks (7 months) but today viability is being pushed farther and farther back. Babies born by 20 weeks (5 months) are now able to survive outside the womb. If this becomes the norm what does that do for the "viability" clause of Roe? Of course this kind of thing has been discussed elsewhere before and that's not what piqued my interest really. The thing that caught me was Blankely mentioning the possible development of "artificial wombs" by science in which babies could be incubated with out the mother's body at all. What would that do for Roe?

Excerpt:

When Roe was handed down in 1973, the survivability of prematurely born babies was not medically possible before 28 weeks of gestation. Today, babies born after only 20 weeks of gestation routinely survive -- and thus are viable under the Roe definition (and thus potentially legally safe from the abortionist's medical weapons).

But radical research may soon reduce that 20 weeks to just a few -- or perhaps no weeks. At Juntendo University of Tokyo, Dr. Yoshinori Kuwabara and his team of scientists have successfully removed goat fetuses from mother goats and placed them in tanks of amniotic fluid stabilized at goat body temperature, while connecting the baby goat's umbilical cord to machines that pump in nutrients and dispose of waste.

The purpose of Dr. Kuwabara's research is to provide a safe home for human fetuses prematurely expelled from the mother's womb. According to the British Guardian newspaper, it is expected that such methods capable of sustaining a child for the full nine months "will become reality in a few years."

Meanwhile, at Cornell University's Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility, Dr. Hung-Ching Liu and her team of scientists have been approaching the problem of fetal out-of-womb survival from the other side. She is developing a full artificial womb that can receive a just-conceived embryo -- with the hope that it will successfully gestate for the full nine months.

Her team's method is to remove cells from the mother's endometrium (the lining the womb), and grow those cells in a hormones-and-growth-enzymes "bath." Then they let the cells rapidly grow on a scaffold made of biodegradable material molded in the shape of a uterus, into which she plants the embryo. By this method Dr. Liu has already successfully kept alive a brand-new human embryo/fetus for six days -- after which she voluntarily ended the fetus's existence to comply with current medical ethics regulations.

While Dr. Kuwabara's technology is being designed for normal pregnancies cut short by miscarriages, Dr. Liu's technologies will have special appeal to homosexual couples who want to have a child, as well as women with defective wombs and women who just can't be bothered to be pregnant (although the first few minutes of such pregnancies might still be valued for extraneous reasons).

But both, or either technology, once routinely available, could have a profound, if unintended, effect on the constitutional right of abortion. Once such technologies make it medically possible for a fetus to be "potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid" the language of Roe v Wade will not have to be overturned. It could stay on the books as legally valid, but factually meaningless.

Of course the irony of all this cut so many ways, it is hard to count. A technology designed to help homosexual couples and radical feminists have wombless babies may come into the service of conservatives (who oppose homosexual marriage and feminist values) as a means of ending abortion.

Cutting the other way, it is the technology of stem cell research and cloning (which many right-to-life conservatives want to outlaw) that may be needed to develop a technology that could be used to effectively legally end abortion -- thus creating for such conservatives the moral dilemma of supporting the use of what they judge to be unethical or immoral technologies to end the greatest slaughter of the innocent (millions of abortions a year).

These emerging technologies give academic ethicists (as well as the rest of us amateur ethicists) plenty to think about. Remember, in Aldous Huxley's disturbingly prescient "Brave New World," the normal people were genetically cloned and gestated in artificial wombs, while the savages living in remote locations were the only ones who still naturally conceived, carried their own babies and then breast-fed them. The "normal" cloned people thought the natural people were animals to procreate naturally. As it always has in history, the definition of normal is subject to unexpected and seemingly abnormal change.
You know, I've always believed that at the rate science and reproductive technology is going that within a hundred years or less artificial wombs in which fetuses will be able to carried until birth without (eventually) ever being implanted in a woman at all. Kind of like straight from petri dish to some kind of lab womb. It's a scary thought but I do believe it will happen but then will be the result. If the fetus is no longer in a human body, the right to "privacy" and "to control your own body" don't really come into play. But then does the fetus then have the right to life? According to the Supreme Court, when life "begins" lies in the eye of the beholder and each individual person. So are these babies born in artificial wombs human? Can they be destroyed? When? And who makes that decision?

Right now politicians, scientists, the media and (if the polls are right) a majority of Americans are perfectly willing to perform experiments on, to bio-engineer and to destroy human embryos because they are "going to be destroyed anyway" or because "they were never going to be implanted in a mother" but if we had artificial wombs then we could indeed fertilize and bring to term viable babies. But having once made the decision to destroy embryos created outside the womb what prevents us from destroying fetuses created outside the womb? Or harvesting them for body parts like we're doing with stem-cells from embryos? After all, according to US law and the Supreme Court, non-viable fetuses are not human beings and are not entitled protection by the Constitution. What is going to change once they are created and fertilized outside the womb? Will we suddenly declare the fetuses we once called non-human, protected life (which would mean the Supreme Court would have to change its definition that when life begins is unknown)? Or will these fetuses be able to be killed on a whim or for experiments in the name of "science" and "progress"?

I'm not sure of the answers. These are just questions that occur to me when I think of the possibilities that lay before us. And I truly do believe that technology is moving faster than courts of law or politicians or even ethicists and we WILL have to face these questions - sooner rather than later.

Egghead Academic Demands Pope Explain Himself (vis-a-vis Harry Potter)

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Written on 8:07 PM by Jack B.

Yes, indeed. The Pope obviously has a lot of time on his hands these days or at least concludes some guy named Edmund Kern in the UK Scotsman in an article entitled: Pope should spell out views on Potter

Excerpt:

Five is the total number of sentences Pope Benedict XVI has devoted to Harry Potter - well, only one, really, but more on that in a bit.

The sentences were written in 2003, while the pontiff was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. His opinion of JK Rowling's hero then attracted little attention, even though, at the time, he was head of the Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an institution known as the Universal Inquisition until 1908.

Since then, of course, much has changed, not the least of which is Cardinal Ratzinger's elevation to the Holy See. Now, with millions reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the Pope's two-year-old opinion is everywhere. What a shame, for it has generated far more heat than light. ...

...If Pope Benedict believes the Harry Potter books are worth the Church's attention, he owes millions of readers a better explanation of why he chose to lend his support this attack. Five sentences? Again, what a shame.

Ah, where to begin? First, notice how the guy can't resist calling the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by a name it hasn't used in OVER 200+ YEARS, raising the specter of the Inquisition (cue scary music), that alone should tell you where this piece is coming from. This is a media trick that was often used in the days after the Pope was elected (and even before), equating Ratzinger with the "Grand Inquisitor". Meanwhile, according to Kern, Pope Benedict should give even more free publicity to the fastest selling book of all time and add to the billions of JK Rowling, by publicly commenting on the book now that he is Pope. To "clarify" remarks he made in a personal letter years ago. And where does that end, Mr. Kern, if the-then Joseph Ratzinger wrote of how he disliked X, Y, or Z when he was younger, should he have to clarify that too? Should the book comment on every book and movie he has seen - just for "clarification"? Please, Mr. Kern, get over yourself. The Pope has plenty of better uses for his time than this nonsense. So, I assume, do you. At least one would hope so.

This is my kind of Letter to the Editor!

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Written on 7:54 PM by Jack B.

From a letter to the Editor in the UK Herald:Pernicious purpose of The Da Vinci Code.
I'm going to copy it in full, it's so good:

I always wanted to use the word "bollocks" in a letter to The Herald, but never quite had the nerve. Now Ron Ferguson has beaten me to it (July 28). Well, good on him. Seldom has a book more richly deserved the description of "complete bollocks" as Brown's Code. (I refuse to ennoble this poppycock with the epithet "Da Vinci").

However, there are aspects to this wretched book that Ron Ferguson doesn't mention. For one thing, Dan Brown conflates all Christianity with Roman Catholicism. Presbyterians (staunch or otherwise), Lutherans, Orthodox, (Greeks, Russians, etc) are all cheerfully ignored or presumed to be insignificant variants of Romanism, when it comes to Brown doing his hatchet-job on Christianity. And apart from being a great moneymaking scam, there is a real and pernicious purpose behind Brown's book. It plays the same role today as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion played in the past vis-à-vis the Jews. It exploits and inflames populist anti-Catholicism, which is now the only religious prejudice that it is acceptable to parade.

While all concerned liberals are wringing their hands over the dangers of Islamophobia, the good old Orange Walks continue to bash their drums of hatred. And The Herald's columns continue to be replete with letters fulminating about RC schools being hotbeds of indoctrination, brainwashing, irrationality, religious superstition, etc, ad nauseam.

I pose a simple question. Would anyone dare produce a book claiming that Islam is nothing more than a global conspiracy maintained by systemic deception, lies, and murder, practised over the centuries since the death of Mohammed? Even if the author claimed that it was all just good-natured fiction anyway? Can anyone imagine the outcome if a film were made of such a book – with or without Ron's lookalike, Tom Hanks? And how would this go down in Leeds, Bradford and other places with a sizeable Muslim population? Can you imagine the riots, arson, and general civil commotion?

And can you also imagine how the liberal left would be all a flutter with indignation at such an eventuality. "An irresponsible attack on the intelligence and faith of our Islamic fellow-citizens. A divisive and dangerous film. This vicious piece of propaganda deserves outright condemnation. It should never have been shown in our cinemas . . . " I could write the scripts for them. But when it comes to Catholicism and Brown's bollocks – a thunderous silence. I wonder why?

Brian Quail, 2 Hyndland Avenue, Glasgow

Wow! Brain Quail, I don't know you, but all I can say is: RIGHT ON! The Da Vinci Code is indeed "bollocks" and can never called what it is enough to suit me.

Poland May Create John Paul II Holiday

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Written on 7:32 PM by Jack B.

Here's the story.
Personally, I can't think of a Pole who deserves it more! Viva Giovanni Paolo Secundo!

Falling Behind, Going Ahead

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Written on 3:12 PM by Jack B.

The reason I've been blogging haikus and nothing else (basically) all week is because I'm lazy. No other reason. I wish there was. If there was a picture under the word "SLACKER" in the dictionary it would probably me of me.

I meant to blog some book reviews of books I've read - it didn't happen. Meant to blog on my opinion on the whole John Roberts to Supreme Court thing - still haven't gotten to it. In my personal life, all the things I hoped to get done this month? Didn't do it. And next week its back to work and the daily grind. And then, next month the school semester starts and its back to classes. I don't know what happened. I've fallen so much behind.

The only way I can excuse myself (and I hate doing that) is that its been awfully hot. Like 90 degrees and higher hot and the humidity has even been worse. I've mostly sought out the comfort of the air conditioner and ice tea (the real kind - you know adding ice to actual tea) and then fallen asleep. When I'm asleep I don't feel the heat. So I'm going to try to catch up this weekend...and if not well I've can always come up with some more haikus. They're actually pretty fun to write. I'm hardly a poet but when you write a haiku, by its very nature and limitations, it can come out as if the writer actually put some deep thought into it (which is hardly the case - I swear).

I'm Such a Giving Person (who knew?)

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Written on 3:09 PM by Jack B.

You scored as Charity. Charity- with you is the love that lifts the spirits of the world.

Charity

71%

Justice

68%

Faith

64%

Temperance

54%

Hope

46%

Fortitude

46%

Prudence

39%

The Seven Heavenly Virtues
created with QuizFarm.com

Haiku #46

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Written on 12:41 AM by Jack B.

It's just so darn hot
I sleep right next to the fan
Water in my hand

Haiku #45

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Written on 12:30 AM by Jack B.

With a rich facade
But a hollow shell inside
The Paris Hilton

Haiku #44

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Written on 12:05 AM by Jack B.

Hot and sweltering
So why am I wearing black?
I'm no Johnny Cash

Haiku #43

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Written on 12:58 AM by Jack B.

Nine hours a day
Toiling in obscurity
Working for THE MAN

Haiku #42

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Written on 12:56 AM by Jack B.

Changes in weather
Overcast humid showers
Crazy days are these

Haiku #41

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Written on 12:54 AM by Jack B.

Depresssion's a trap
Sucking at mind and body
Leaving it useless

Haiku #40

0

Written on 12:30 AM by Jack B.

My love forgotten
Seems like a lifetime ago
How quickly it fades

Haiku #39

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Written on 12:04 PM by Jack B.

Bright sun hits my eyes
Through blurred vision I can see
The Greenness of Earth

What is Your Model of the Church?

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Written on 12:36 PM by Jack B.

You scored as Herald Model. Your model of the church is Herald. The organization of the church is much less important than the urgency of announcing the Good News of salvation to all the world. The Holy Spirit moves the individual to belief in Jesus Christ and to do the will of the Father by sharing this message with others. As with other models, the narrowness of this model could be supplemented by drawing on other models.

Herald Model

78%

Servant Model

72%

Mystical Communion Model

67%

Sacrament model

67%

Institutional Model

55%

What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
created with QuizFarm.com

Hat tip to Bill Cork

Haiku #38 - On the Yankees loss last night

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Written on 2:38 PM by Jack B.

Up by just one run
Torre gives the game away
Why let Frankin pitch?

Haiku #37

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Written on 12:08 AM by Jack B.

Hard to write haikus
Can't find the right word to use
This is the result

My Tuition Went Up...Again!

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Written on 8:43 PM by Jack B.

I got my bill in for the Fall Semester today. Out of the blue, the per credit cost for undergrads and graduate students went up about a hundred dollars or so a credit. Since I'm only a part-time Grad student and thus pay per credit this means I had to pony up more dough. They couldn't think to tell me they were going to do this BEFORE I filled out my loan forms?

So, rather than pay the difference out of my ever-depleting and short of money checking account and my charged to the hilt credit cards I had to waste a day and shlep myself off to the Financial Aid office to fill more more loan forms and add about $700 dollars to the amount of money I will owe the government if I should ever manage to leave college. And trust me, those student loan people are the last ones you want after you. Credit card folk you can get around, but Student Loan agents are like loansharks, you pay them or ELSE! If they have to, they'll track you down, garnish your pay, investigate you out to kazoo. Ah, the price of a good education!

But I have to wonder though - has anyone ever heard of a university actually cutting tuition and not continually hiking it up (making it near impossible for anyone who's not rich, an athlete or super-smart to pay for college)? Because I sure as heck haven't.

Haiku #36

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Written on 7:05 PM by Jack B.

Bananas are good
Except when rotten, then they
Hit like a turkey

The Yankees are in FIRST Place!

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Written on 11:57 AM by Jack B.

Even if it's only by half-a-game, even if it's only for a day, the New York Yankees, the greatest sports franchise in the history of the world, are in FIRST PLACE in the American League East...and suddenly all is once again right in the world

Yankees take 3 out of 4 from the Red Sox

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Written on 9:30 AM by Jack B.

Yeah, yeah, their pitching still sucks but I'm just going to bask in the glow for awhile of beating the dreaded Red Sock Nation. Go, Yanks!

87 Years Ago Today...

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Written on 6:02 PM by Jack B.

"Remember that the evil which is now in the world will become yet more powerful, and that it is not evil which conquers evil, but only love..."
Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna in a letter to a friend while in captivity
In a cellar in Ekaterinburg, Russia, in a building called "The House of Special Purpose" by its soviet overseers, one of the most brutal and cold-blooded mass murders in history, Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, their 5 young children and three loyal servants were massacred by the Bolsheviks with a volley of gunfire. The Heir, Alexis, didn't die immediately so the sickly hemophiliac boy was finished off with several bullets point blank into his head. The daughters of the Tsar also did not die because they had loaded their corsets full of diamonds (to live off on, in case they ever escaped) and it acted as bullet-proof vests protected them. So as they crawled into a corner looking at the dead bullet-ridden bodies of their parents and their brother, the Bolsheviks finished off the girls with bayonets. Their bodies were then stripped, valuables confiscated and then the dead were placed into trucks. At first they attempted to burn the bodies but when time grew short and the bodies wouldn't burn fast enough. So they doused the bodies with acid so they could not be identified and they were buried in a quickly dug pit by the side of the road. The bones would not be discovered for over half a century and even then Alexis and one of his sisters was still missing. There had been no trial, no charges, no mercy. The Communist authorities in Moscow under Lenin announced "Nicholas the Bloody" had been killed as an enemy of the Russian people but that the Empress and her children were still alive and kept in a "safe place" This was obviously a lie, as was quickly discovered when White Russian Army troops marched into Ekaterinburg and found the evidence of the massacre even if the bodies were missing.
A couple of years later the USSR published its own version of the events of the massacre, calling it a victory of the people and of the "Revolution" and never even acknowledging that by doing so their previous claims that only Nicholas died were lies. The actual murderers themselves were treated as heroes and the House turned into a museum of the "People's Victory" over imperialism. It would be over 70 years and the fall of the Soviet Union before the bones of the Imperial Family were dug up and buried with ceremony in the traditional burial place of the Tsars, the Fortress of St.Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg. As mentioned, Alexis and one of the girls (identified as Marie but possibly not) was missing. Their remains have never been found. The President of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin, attended the funeral and admitted the murder of the Imperial Family was in fact a murder, not an event to be celebrated as in years past, nor an event to be covered up. This was ironic since it was Yeltsin as the local Communist boss of Ekaterinburg many years before who had the job of demolishing "the House of Special Purpose" because the Communists were afraid of it becoming a monarchist shrine. Now this same man as President did homage to the victims of this event. The Orthodox Church of Russia canonized the Imperial Family as saints in the category of "passion-bearers" - that is they had suffered with Christian forbearance and were willing to give the sacrifice of their lives for Russia, for their faith, and for the good of all men. A church in honor of the Royal Martyrs now stands on the site of that pit their bodies were flung into and buried in for all those years. Their murder was just the beginning of one of the most bloody and destructive governments and ideologies in the history of man where hundreds of millions of nameless people lost their lives just as the Romanovs did, in a 20th Century in which more human beings were killed than who had ever been killed in all of the centuries in the past combined.
So Began A Century of Blood, and For Those Under Communism, A Century of Terror
May God have mercy on their souls...and for all of ours as well.
+Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov 1868-1918
+Alexandra Feodorovna Romanova 1872-1918
+Olga Nikolaevna Romanova 1895-1918
+Tatiana Nikolaevna Romanova 1897-1918
+Maria Nikolaevna Romanova 1899-1918
+Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova 1901-1918
+Alexei Nikolaevich Romanov 1904-1918

My Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...

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Written on 4:55 PM by Jack B.

You scored as Remus Lupin. You are a wise and caring wizard and a good, loyal friend to boot. However sometimes in an effort to be liked by others you can let things slide by, which ordinarily you would protest about.

Remus Lupin

75%

Ron Weasley

70%

Severus Snape

65%

Sirius Black

65%

Hermione Granger

60%

Harry Potter

55%

Ginny Weasley

55%

Draco Malfoy

50%

Albus Dumbledore

50%

Lord Voldemort

10%

Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with QuizFarm.com

Cool! One of my favorite characters!

Irreverence Among the Reverent

0

Written on 4:45 PM by Jack B.

Article from the Financial Times by Toby Green, a researcher in Rome who got a peek in the Vatican Archives

Interesting Excerpt:

Nevertheless, secrecy always makes for intrigue. After the success of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, many people have an image of the Vatican's archive as filled with catches in the bookshelves revealing hidden corridors leading to the real secrets of Rome: sadly I have to report that the place is boringly normal, with helpful staff and even power points for laptops.

That doesn't mean that the "Secret Archive" - as it really is called - is a silent witness. What you do find here is a building which typifies Vatican paradoxes. It came as quite a shock when, stepping into a courtyard outside the study room, I heard the sounds of espresso machines and the tinkle of teaspoons on china; it was even more startling when I realised that the coffee shop I could hear occupied a medieval chapel.

Inside the chapel, the paradox unwound still further. The building was so ancient that the lines between the bricks had faded. Niches burrowed deep into the crumbling masonry; once they had stored religious iconography but today they were home to the workaday accessories of the coffee shops that litter Rome: in one, a couple of microwaves were stacked, while in the next were jars of nutella.

A priest dressed in black talked with an earnest researcher who was constantly checking her mobile phone. Customers were instructed by laminated signs on the walls not to take food or drink out into the courtyard - but it was OK smoke there. The coffee shop typified something that I slowly recognised during the days I spent in the Holy See: the Vatican is engaged in a constant struggle between the sacred and the profane.

I don't know about you but this sounds more interesting than anything a hack like Dan Brown could come up with. I'd love to spend just a day in the place.

Pope may be turning into an icon . . . of fashion

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Written on 4:41 PM by Jack B.

Article from the London Times Online dealing with the Pope's sartorial style. Most interesting factoid was that B16 wears the same kind of sunglasses as Val Kilmer. Yeah, that's right - Val Kilmer. Bizarre.

$cientology & Tom-Tom Continued...

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Written on 2:04 PM by Jack B.

More stuff on Mr. Cruise and his Clam Friends:

Katie More Zombie-Like Than Ever reports Roger Friedman of Fox News

Excerpt:

Reading it can only be even more worrisome for her parents as they see the steady hold Tom Cruise and Scientology have taken of their beloved daughter. There is no way to minimize the frightening aspect of the interview. Holmes, who previously was a sweet, thoughtful, articulate young woman, now comes across like a zombie. She's accompanied on the interview by Jessica Feshbach Rodriguez, her Scientology minder. You may remember that I told you about Feshbach some weeks ago. Her family is a top financial donor to Scientology. Feshbach, whom Holmes calls her "best friend" in the interview, after six weeks of knowing her, is a high-level Scientologist.

According to the various Web sites that monitor the L. Ron Hubbard-founded religion, Feshbach completed courses called "Security Checker Internship," "False Purpose Rundown Auditorship" and "Clear Certainty."According to those who accompanied Holmes through her various publicity trips this spring, Feshbach has never left her side.Neither have other "monitors" who followed Holmes everywhere she went, according to sources, constantly whispering in walkie talkie-like devices (those things that are strapped to wrists, connected to ear pieces) even when she was going to the bathroom...

...As for Holmes, the W interview — conducted by Rob Haskell — features comments from the omnipresent Feshbach (who goes by her second husband's name, Rodriguez). When Holmes is asked to describe her feelings for Cruise, Feshbach interrupts and says, "You adore him." During the interview, Holmes — in a very choreographed stunt — receives an expensive "surprise" gift from Cruise.

OK, everybody say it with me: C-R-E-E-P-Y.

But wait there's more. Apparently Tom's kids with Nicole Kidman are indeed being taught to worship at the altar of Xenu and L. Ron Hubbard.Nicole had apparently wanted to raise the kids Catholic - obviously that ain't happening :

It's the news that Cruise and Nicole Kidman's 12-year-old daughter Isabella Cruise has been listed in the Scientology bulletin for completing the basic course. She's under the name "Bella Cruise." This can only be heartbreaking for Kidman, who — as Holmes once was — is a devout Roman Catholic from an observant family.
This column reported exclusively a couple of weeks ago that the Cruise-Kidman kids are educated at Tom's home in Beverly Hills by his two sisters, with an emphasis on the teachings of Scientology. This raises the question of who has custody of their children. The answer seems to be Cruise, because the kids must be in his home every day for their schooling.

Poor kids. Well at least maybe we can save Katie. Mr. Sun! has a pretty good RESCUE PLAN.

More stuff:
The The Tom Cruise Scientology Centre via LiquidGeneration (be sure to listen to the testimonials)

The I'm Tom Cruise, and I'm in LOVE!!! blog in which Tom-tom uses to express himself and his great "love" for Katie, Xenu and others.

The very apt TomCruiseIsNuts.com website.

Lastly John Allen in his Word from Rome has the the both bizarre and disturbing rumor from Germany that the Scientologists may be interested in buying Pope Benedict XVI's birthplace, which is up for sale:

Acting through an intermediary, the mayor said, the Church of Scientology is bidding to become the new owner, for purposes that remain obscure. It's not clear how the mayor knows this, nor why the Scientologists would pay top dollar for a facility in a small Bavarian town that seems unpromising territory for new recruits.

It's probable that Marktl-am-Inn will take its place alongside Wadowice, Poland, the hometown of John Paul II, as a modern Catholic pilgrimage destination. Who exactly will be there to welcome the pilgrims remains to be seen.

What exactly will the $cientologists want with this house other than to recruit earnest Catholic pilgrims who will go see the birthplace of Joseph Ratzinger and leave with a copy of Diantetics in one hand and an appointment for a $cientology auditing in the other?
Yet again this is: C-R-E-E-P-Y.

Haiku #35

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Written on 11:37 PM by Jack B.

There once was a man
Who lived down by the river
And he sang the blues

They called him Rollo
Because he was big and round
And made a large sound

Rollo was well known
Far and wide they said his name
Spread word of his fame

People praised him, said:
"You're the best there ever was
Sing for us, please sing"

He poured himself out
Like Christ upon his cross, with
Soulful melodies

No one really knew
The sorrow within his heart
Except his guitar

They buried him by
The river, it by his side
Keeping its secrets

Now a memory
Faded from history...but
There once was a man

Firefox is My Friend

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Written on 6:40 PM by Jack B.

I was never that interested in internet browsers. To me, one seemed the same as another. Since (like most Windows users) Microsoft's Internet Explorer was my default browser that's what I used and was content.

But because I wanted to use my account with my college library at home I had to switch to either Mozilla's Firefox or Netscape (IE wouldn't work). I flipped a coin and it came up Firefox.

Now I see what I was missing. Compared to Internet Explorer's no-frill-ness, Firefox is faster, with more capabilities, safer against viruses with lots of add-ons which gives it all the bells and whistles and options that a person like me prefers.

So now I use Firefox all the time and Internet Explorer not at all. I can see now why people complain about Bill Gates and him forcing IE on everyone who buys a PC with Windows installed. If you didn't know any better (as I didn't) you would think that's as good as it gets, when in fact compared to it's competitors it doesn't measure up.

Mother Nature can be a Mean Mama

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Written on 6:33 PM by Jack B.

A couple of days ago it was 90 degrees in the city. Hot, sweltering, humid. Air conditioners working overtime, bottles of water at the ready at all times.

Today it rained like cat and dogs, a real downpour....and of course I got stuck in it without an umbrella.

I wonder who I could sue if I catch pneumonia?

Haiku #34

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Written on 1:00 PM by Jack B.

Couldn't sleep last night
Sweet Jesus, am I tired!
Coffee doesn't work

Brooklyn At Dusk

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Written on 9:36 AM by Jack B.


From outside my window. Sometimes the very best pictures are the ones you never expected to take.

Haiku #33

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Written on 12:19 AM by Jack B.

For a change I ate
Some monkey brains for dinner
Tasted like chicken

Ave Maria University starts scholarship in Terri Schiavo's honor

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Written on 10:58 PM by Jack B.

The fledgling Ave Maria University has established a scholarship in the name of Terri Schiavo for students planning careers in the priesthood, officials announced Friday.

The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Scholarship for pre-theologate students aims "to carry on Terri's name and assist future priests and laypersons in creating and developing a Catholic culture of life," the university said in a statement.

Of course the Death-Eaters like George Felos and his devoted followers in the media might howl. But who cares? Let them whine. Right on, Ave Maria!

NY TIMES: Pope Not As Evil As We Thought

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Written on 9:04 PM by Jack B.

Of course, that's not the actual title of the NY TIMES piece by Ian Fisher - Even Former Skeptics Are Warming Up to the Pope as the Ex-Watchdog Turns Gentle - but that is the gist of it. It's taken me several days to write this thing (cause I'm lazy) and my comments are in red.

The very name - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - was once enough to provoke strong reactions among Roman Catholics: confidence among the more orthodox that the church stood for something firm, and fear among liberals of a harsh, closed-off faith. But in the two months since Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, he has not evoked such instantly polar emotions. Supporters and skeptics alike say Benedict is revealing himself as a man more complicated, subtle and personally warm than many had expected from his years as the Vatican's defender of the faith.

He has, to be sure, served up much meat to orthodox Catholics - precisely his appeal to many of them. He has condemned homosexuality, gay marriage and the use of condoms to prevent AIDS. He intervened in Italian politics this month to keep in place a highly restrictive law on medically assisted fertility. This pleased some Catholics but raised high enough alarm in Italy about papal interference that President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi spoke of the "necessary distinction" between church and state during a meeting with Benedict last month.
Yet many Catholics who disagree with him on those points note that his once granite oratory has softened. In the weeks before his election, he delivered lectures with contentious punches at the "dictatorship of relativism" or "filth in the church." But since then, he talks less about sin than about the love of Jesus.
All this talk about serving up "meat". As if Benedict is merely playing to the crowd like a politician making a speech. As for intervening in Italian politics, Benedict XVI is Bishop of Rome and Primate of Italy, spiritual leader of the Catholics in Italy (at least a quarter of whom - millions of people - are practicing Catholics). These are not figurehead titles. All the Pope's power comes from being Bishop of Rome, he has a duty to speak out on faith and morals to his flock. And if bio-engineering and manipulation of embryos/human life is not faith and morals I don't know what is. The Pope didn't intervene, he did his job. Some people may have raised "high alarm" but they were in the minority since the Catholic Church's "intervention" in the referendum was an overwhelming success and that those supporting the referendum went down to such a colossal defeat that no one (especially the press) expected. But Mr. Fisher doesn't mention that, does he?

While any new pope would come up short in the inevitable comparisons with to the powerfully magnetic and charismatic John Paul II, Benedict has his own low key, unassuming appeal. His manner is gentle, even shy, his voice quiet and his reasoning clear, the focus less on him and his strong views than on the church and its teaching. "I have been pleasantly surprised by what we have seen thus far," said the Rev. Keith F. Pecklers, an American Jesuit who is a professor at the Gregorian, a pontifical university in Rome. "What strikes me is that he is clearly a man of deep prayer and spirituality. He is very intelligent, a good theologian. And he is very humble. He clearly does not want to call attention to himself."
Ahem, Fr. Pecklers, as a professor at the (Jesuit) Gregorian University you've probably lived in Rome for how long? Yet you say you're "surprised" at what you see of Benedict? It's only now that you see that Ratzinger is a "man of deep prayer", a "good theologian" and "humble"? Seems to me anyone who's known him for any length of time has described him that way? Didn't you believe them?

Crowds still fill St. Peter's Square for papal audiences, as they did for John Paul. Some are strong supporters, some say they are waiting and seeing. Many of the latter seem willing to extend the papal honeymoon, be it for love of the church, respect for the papacy or affection for the man. Many Catholics loved John Paul even while disagreeing with him. "At first, I wasn't sure about this pope," said Teresa La Peruta, 59, a homemaker from Naples who, along with thousands of other Catholics, cheered Benedict recently in St. Peter's Square, even though she did not like his involvement in the fight over the fertility law. "I have to be honest: I didn't like him."

Benedict, 78, had just delivered a typically elegant Bible lesson and greetings in a score of languages. Later, a firefighter's hat, lampshade large, was propped atop the papal head. A man in a wheelchair asked him to share some words with someone on his cellphone, reported later to be a terminally ill nun. The pope fumbled with the phone, but took the call with no fuss at all. "He is beginning to win me over," said Ms. La Peruta. "I hope he does so more and more."

Longtime supporters say they are not surprised that Benedict has engendered such affection. The image of the cold enforcer, they say, was always a caricature. "I have known this man for a very long time, and what I am seeing, frankly, is the man I have always known," said George Weigel, a biographer of John Paul who is finishing a book on Benedict.

"It is not the pyrotechnic personality of Karol Wojtyla," he added, using the given name of John Paul, who died on April 2. "It's the attractiveness of a man who knows exactly who he is, who, like John Paul II, is a genuine Christian radical, and
who can explain the depth of Christian faith in a kind of winsome way."

Hold on a minute, if the image of the pope was always a "caricature" why did you repeat said caricature in the very first paragraph of your report, Mr. Fisher? Aren't you by doing so perpetuating the stereotype that your entire article seems to be refuting? And why only get a quote from someone who "didn't like" Ratzinger? Wouldn't it have been more balanced and objective to get a quote from one of those people who are cited as "strong supporters"? But I guess balance doesn't exist at the NY TIMES.

For more liberal Catholics, the current honeymoon represents a victory of style over substance: Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, an American group that advocates abortion rights, said Benedict had reached out to non-Catholics but not to Catholics who disagree with church teaching on abortion, contraception or the place of women in the church. "It reminds me of my mother," Ms. Kissling said. "My mother was a person all my friends adored. She wasurbane. She was modern. And she was charming. Yet at home she was a strict disciplinarian and a pain in the neck." She said she had hoped that a new pope would "concentrate intensely on healing the deep political rift that exists between orthodox Catholics and liberal or progressive Catholics, because the church internally is in bad shape." Under Benedict, she predicted, "this is not going to happen."

Frances Kissling? FRANCES FREAKIN KISSLING? This is the best you can do, Mr. Fisher? There is nothing "Catholic" about "Catholics for a Free Choice", the US Bishops have distinctly said that far from being "Catholic", CFFC is an anti-catholic organization funded by groups like the Ford Foundation, the Playboy Foundation, Ted Turner and Warren Buffett - groups and people who have no history of giving to any "Catholic" entity except the CFFC. Frances Kissling used to own and operate abortion clinics, a fact of which she is still proud (and which earns her automatic excommunication which is why no Bishop actually has to go out and formally declare as she has dared them to do). She has openly declared "war" on the Catholic Church, tried to have the Vatican City State/Holy See kicked out of the United Nations since she says it isn't a state (despite the fact that has diplomatic relations with almost every country in the world and if isn't a state what is it - it's certainly not part of the Italian Republic), in an article in the decidely liberal and abortion friendly New Republic did an article in 1995 by Jennifer Bradley in which Kissling refused to say what parish she goes to but did say she never goes to confession (one of the mandatory sacraments of the Catholic Church) because she has NOTHING to confess! And this is who Ian Fisher relies on the for the "liberal" side in his article? Couldn't he be bothered to find an actual Catholic or was Kissling the first name on his Catholic Dissident Rolodex?

Still, the gentler than expected public appeal is welcome for some. Both critics and supporters of John Paul worried at times that his huge outdoor Masses and rock-star appeal had the effect of focusing attention on the man. Benedict, less comfortable in the spotlight, has shifted the public's focus to the papal office, the church and its rituals. "John Paul was a man whose persona commanded stage center wherever he was and in whatever context, and that was part of his being a giant walking upon the earth," said the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the traditionalist Catholic magazine First Things. "Joseph Ratzinger is a man who has lived his life rather quietly when you get right down to it, within the church and for the church."

For many Vatican watchers, it is simply too early to draw strong conclusions. One early event that is likely to be telling, many say, is the celebration of World Youth Day, an annual event started by John Paul, to be held Aug. 16 to 21 in Cologne, Germany, Joseph Ratzinger's native land. Other opportunities to assess him will be his first encyclical - a major theological document in which he will spell out the major themes of his papacy - and how he makes key Vatican appointments.

Joseph Ratzinger is 78 years old. He probably has more of a track record and a known history than any Bishop of Rome since St. Gregory VII (Hildebrand), people who say it's "too early to draw conclusions" are blowing smoke or deluding themselves. Ratzinger will be the same Ratzinger he has always been. Those who think he's "different" than he was or "changing" are just reflecting their own previous prejudices about the man.

Still, in speeches and audiences, Benedict has given many hints of his direction. A leading theologian with several books and scores of speeches over decades, he has not departed much from his long paper trail, with his concerns about relativism - the idea that all beliefs are equal - secularism and a modern world that, he believes, has left God behind.

"Italian culture is one that is intimately permeated with Christian values," he said when he visited President Ciampi in June. "My hope is that the Italian people not only resist reneging on their Christian heritage, which is part of their history, but that it guards it jealously so that it brings fruits worthy of its past."

He also said his papacy would focus on marriage and the sanctity of all human life. He shows no hint of doctrinal softening. In a new book, "The Europe of Benedict: The Crisis of Cultures," the text of which was written before he became pope and which was released in Italy this month, he says secularism could lead to discrimination against the church's right to preach what it believes. "Very soon, one will not be able to affirm that homosexuality, as the Catholic Church teaches, constitutes an objective disorder in the structure of human existence," he wrote.

What exactly does "doctrinal softening" mean in Mr. Fisher's eyes? And who exactly expected this "softening". Certainly not the so-called "Voice of the Faithful" group who say they don't question the Church's doctrine. And not the proponents of a married clergy who say that's a discipline and not doctrine. Not even the advocates of women's ordination who complain that the ordination of women is not doctrinal (the Church says otherwise but what the hey). So who wanted the "softening", Mr. Fisher? I don't think even the most liberal Catholic realistically expected any of the 117 voting Cardinals in the Conclave would change doctrine if they were elected. The only people who did in the wake of Benedict XVI's election were non-Catholics like Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the mainstream media (BBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN etc.) or people who call themselves "Catholic" but really know next to nothing of the faith they profess (like Christ Matthews of Hardball) or want the Church to bless their lifestyles (like Andrew Sullivan). I wonder which of these Ian Fisher qualifies under.

His writings have found a new and larger audience, one that appreciates their intelligence and clarity. " I feel less alone when I read the books of Ratzinger," the Italian writer Oriana Fallaci told The Wall Street Journal last month. "I am an atheist, and if an atheist and a pope think the same thing, there must be some truth there." Experts say Benedict, who was one of John Paul's top aides, is largely treading the same theological ground as his predecessor. His continuation of John Paul's outreach to other faiths surprised some, given the doubts that he has raised in the past about ecumenism.
Now come on, Mr. Fisher, that's just dishonest. Ratzinger never raised "doubts" about ecumenism, only in the expectations some had about ecumenism that would lead to relativistic thinking. As head of the CDF and even before that as Archbishop of Munich, Ratzinger has been on the forefront of ecumenical relations. He was one of the engineers of the Joint Declaration on Justification with the Lutherans and his relationship with Judaism can clearly be seen by how quickly Jewish groups rose to his defense when the talk of the "Hitler Youth Nazi Pope" started in the media. Perhaps Mr. Fisher is talking about Dominus Iesus, the John Paul II-approved document that stated all non-apostolic Christian and non-Christian faith in general are deficient, as opposed to the Catholic Church, even though they still can contain elements of the truth. This document supposedly puts Ratzinger outside the pale, but exactly what does it say that the Catholic Church hasn't taught for 2000 years? For the Catholic Church, Jesus of Nazareth is the means of salvation and the truest path to Jesus is through HIS Church, be it the Western Catholic or Eastern Orthodox which have kept faith to the tradition handed down from the apostles. This has always been the teaching of the Catholic Church, even after Vatican II, some people apparently just didn't like to be reminded of that fact. To deny one's faith is the Truth as a means of ecumenicalism, is not true ecumenicalism at all, but a denial of one's core beliefs. Obviously, Mr. Fisher doesn't get that.

But some differences have emerged, too. He shows no inclination, for example, to canonize as many saints as did John Paul, who declared 483 people to be saints, more than all his predecessors combined. While speeding up the process to beatify John Paul, Benedict resisted demands to proclaim immediate sainthood. John Paul could tend toward the mystical in his preaching; Benedict tends to be "down to earth," in the words of one Vatican watcher. Benedict's lower public profile was signaled early. Several Vatican officials say he wanted his installation Mass as pope held not outside in St. Peter's Square but in the more private basilica.

He was talked out of it, and since then has often appeared in public. But he does not seem to try to work the crowds. At a recent public audience, he waved away applause for him as he was beginning a prayer. One day last month, he drove through downtown Rome in a convertible, waving, but stopping only for a moment to shake hands with Rome's mayor, Walter Veltroni, in Piazza Venezia.

The real question I have about this article is - who was it written for? I mean who really (aside from NY TIMES readers, that is) actually was "afraid" of Pope Benedict? Most Catholics I know didn't have an opinion of the man at all and the ones who did were overjoyed he was Pope. This is such an in-the-beltway piece that's not really meant for "regular" readers of the world, but for the Ian Fishers of the world, his bosses, his fellow reporters and the limousine liberals on the Upper West Side who they go to parties with who have never read a word Ratzinger has ever written nut know he used to be head of the "Inquisition" (newspapers favorite word for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith even though it hasn't been called that in over a century or two) and is just as conservative than Pope John Paul II. Who would these people have preferred? I bet none of them could even name more than a handful of cardinals off the top of their head, yet they would have us think anyone was better than Ratzinger. Why? There's no one with more experience, no one who knows more about theology, no one has played such an integral part in the events of the world (from WWII on) than Ratzinger....and not even his enemies have doubted his piety.

If the only dirt they could dig up on a 78-year old man was that he was forcibly drafted into the Hitler Youth when he was 14 (and then got out of it) you begin to realize how squeaky-clean Benedict XVI is. It seems to me the only candidates for Pope the NY TIMES would have liked would John Shelby Spong (who is not only Episcopalian but denies most basic Christian beliefs) or the Grand Sophist himself Mario Cuomo. Instead they get someone who is not only Catholic but actually believes in what the Catholic Church teaches and acts on it (unlike the aforesaid Mr. Cuomo), and then they act shocked. Personally I find that if the NY TIMES doesn't like you, then you must be doing something right. In that sense this article seems to be more about frustration on Ian Fisher's part than anything the Pope has been doing.

Ha! Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

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Written on 5:00 AM by Jack B.

You Are a Frappacino

At your best, you are: fun loving, sweet, and modern

At your worst, you are: childish and over indulgent

You drink coffee when: you're craving something sweet

Your caffeine addiction level: low


The truth is I live on caffeine. I don't how if I could get through a day without a boatload of caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, you name it). I don't drink coffee because it's sweet, I drink it to stay awake. Need proof? If you notice I'm writing this at 5 in the morning!

Haiku #32

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Written on 4:49 AM by Jack B.

Strange days we live in
No right, no wrong, no nothing
Truth up in the air

Britain's 911

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Written on 8:42 PM by Jack B.


Yesterday, my cousin called from North Carolina at 7:30 EST in the morning telling me simply that "England just had it's 911". I turned on the TV to see all the carnage. Obviously planned to coincide with the G-8 summit, the fact that London just got the Olympics yesterday and was in a happy mood was just icing on the cake for these thugs. Being unhappy miserable people themselves, they can't stand the idea of the "infidels" as happy.

It seem to me Al Queda and Bin Laden miscalculated for the second time. The first time they thought GW Bush was even weaker than his father and that America was soft. They obviously know differently now. Then they counted on punishing America's allies and killed Spaniards in the Madrid bombings. This brought about the election of Zapatero as PM and the removal of Spain from the allied coalition. In other words, Spain elected who Osama Bin Laden wanted elected and did what Osama Bin Laden wanted them to do. They lay down like dogs, not the descendants of the conquistadores. The mess that Zapatero and the Socialists have made in Spain since are in a way that country's comeuppance.

But now Al Queda has made another mistake. Britain is a different kettle of fries altogether. Al Queda probably could have done this to any other country in Western European (even Italy, in my opinion) and the populace would have caved to Osama just like Spain did. But not England. Not Tony Blair. The days of Neville Chamberlain are long gone. Britain will now leave the appeasing to the likes of Spain and France, once great countries that have faded more and more into insignificance on the world stage. Tony Blair knows that there will be no "peace in our time" (as Chamberlain once said of his pact with Hitler) by kow-towing or negotiating with cold-blooded monsters who don't blink at murder or death (even their own). The only way to peace is fight for it and I'm pretty sure the British will continue to do so. Al Queda may be smart enough to plant bombs and kill scores of innocent people but when it comes to what makes people tick, what makes them strong, what makes them resilient - Osama and his goons in their caves know NOTHING.

This is part of what Tony Blair, the U.K.'s PM said yesterday:

It's through terrorism that the people that have committed this terrible act express their values and it's right at this moment that we demonstrate ours.

I think we all know what they are trying to do, they are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to frighten us out of doing the things we want to do, of trying to stop us going about our business as normal as we are entitled to do and they should not and must not succeed.

When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated, when they seek to change our country, our way of life by these methods, we will not be changed.

When they try to divide our people or weaken our resolve, we will not be divided and our resolve will hold firm.

We will show by our spirit and dignity and by a quiet and true strength that there is in the British people,that our values will long outlast theirs.

The purpose of terrorism is just that, it is to terrorize people and we will not be terrorized.

I would like once again to express my sympathy and sorrow for those families that will be grieving so unexpectedly and tragically tonight.

This is a very sad day for the British people but we will hold true to the British way of life
I'm not always a fan of England but in this case just let me repeat that old battle cry: For England and St.George!

And the Winners of "Dancing With the Stars" are...

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Written on 3:00 PM by Jack B.


KELLY MONACO & ALEC MAZO (complete with a cheesy and cheap trophy!)


I admit I'm not a snob when it comes to reality TV shows. I don't like down on all of them like some do. My favorite current TV show is without hesitation, The Amazing Race, a show with more excitement, plot twists, exotic backdrops, humanity and all-around decent people than practically anything else on television. Other guilty pleasures include American Idol (I haven't missed a season) and the unfortunately cancelled boxing show from Sly Stallone, The Contender.The things these shows have in common are they are dramatic and entertaining without appealing to the lowest common denominator of shows like Fear Factor, The Bachelor and Big Brother. Those kind of shows that rely on people humiliating themselves or showing the worst side of their nature to get ahead. I can't stand stuff like that. How is it that so many people can take pleasure in the vices of others? It can't be simple voyeurism, can it? I hope not.

One of the reasons I liked "Dancing with the Stars" is because it was just so corny and old-fashioned. An hour of ballroom dancing. No villains. No "alliances". No double-crossing. No manipulative editing. Just ballroom dancing - that's it. All we need now is Lawrence Welk and his band and we could be living in the 60s. So I'm happy that Kelly Monaco won (and it really was her - Alec Whathisname was really beside the point as far as ABC and it's hosts were concerned) because it was...well...nice. Were we manipulated? Sure. John and Charlotte were the better technical dances and excelled throughout the competition, but what better story than a soap opera actress who had never danced before and got lambasted by the judges in the beginning, only to come back through hard work and determination to get scores of perfect 10 from the same judges at the end. Regular rag-to-riches Horatio Alger stuff. Americans have loved that kind of story for generations. And of course it didn't hurt that Kelly M. was the only one of the "stars" who is a full-time employee of the ABC/Disney empire and thus could be cross-promoted and exploited by those tuning in who don't watch General Hospital in the morning. But I'd rather not think like that. I don't think the show was fixed, although I do think having a soap opera fanbase couldn't hurt. All things being even between Kelly & Alex and John & Charlotte, people who are daily fans of you in something else could have put her over the top. It was obvious to anyone watching over the last few weeks that John & Charlotte could have scored ten times better scores by the judges and still would have lost because Kelly & Alec were going to win the fan vote. But who am I to begrudge that? After all, it was just a TV show and the only thing on the line wasn't money but a cheesy trophy that looked like a disco ball glued on to a flower vase. So I for one just sat back and enjoyed it.

In the end, "Dancing with the Stars" was harmless and enjoyable entertainment that doesn't do damage to your morals, your stomach or to your brain. How many shows can that be said about today?

Haiku #31

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Written on 12:39 AM by Jack B.

Evil reaches out
Its deadly destructive hand
Will it ever stop?

I Can't Talk About the Yankees

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Written on 1:00 AM by Jack B.

The New York Yankees are a lot like a girlfriend who's cheated on you but you stay together. You still love her but you can't totally trust her anymore, no matter what she says. So when the Yankees play good I can't trust them. This is after all a team that was on winning streak and looked to be getting out its funk, only to get punked by none other than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. So the fact that Giambi is hitting, the fact that Bernie is "burning", the fact that they seem able to come back when they are in a hole proves nothing to me. When they beat the Red Sox in a series or take the lead in the American League East, then we'll talk but until then...no.

I don't mind rooting for a team that's a loser - you can take some pride in the fact you're a die-hard fan. I mean I remember being a Yankee fan during the years when Stump Merrill was manager in the early 90s and thats about how bad it gets. They may have been bums, but at least they were my bums. And needless to say, rooting for a team when they're playing well doesn't take much effort at all. Just ask the bandwagon-jumping Yankee fans who have popped out of the woodwork in the last decade or so. But...rooting for a mediocre .500 team is no fun at all. They win two in a rown then go on to lose three, win four, lose six. Inconsistancy and underachievment are their by-words. It's nauseauting. One can enjoy the skill and excitement of a winning team, one can feel pity and fondness for a losing team but an average .500 team is just boring.

New York is not getting the 2012 Olympic Games...

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Written on 12:51 AM by Jack B.

...and I think I can rightly speak for tons of my fellow citizens when I say - "Who Cares?"

Seriously, isn't this city cramped and crowded enough? Isn't the traffic congested? Aren't the police over-worked and too thinly spread out as it is? Not to mention the overtime the Sanitation Department will be getting. Now Mayor Bloomberg is talking about trying again for the Olympics in 2016.

Hey, Bloomy, if you really want to leave a legacy, forget about the Olympics and spend all that time and money filling in all the potholes in the street. New Yorkers everywhere will love you for that.

Haiku #30

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Written on 12:49 AM by Jack B.

Whispering at night
Thoughts no one can hear except
My own inner soul

Haiku #29

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Written on 12:01 AM by Jack B.

Haikus are special
They don't require much thought
And waste time away

My Summer Reading List

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Written on 11:31 AM by Jack B.

As school has let out for the summer and I have a little time on my hands for the next two months or so, this is the stuff I've decided to read over that period (or try to). Keep in mind that I tend not to read one thing right after the other but a bunch of stuff all at once, reading one thing or another thing at various times of the day given my mood at the time. Perhaps if I get the chance (i.e. I'm not bogged down with other stuff), I'll blog on some of these books as I'm in the process of reading them. Kind of like a running commentary.


1. Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford - Yes, I know I've been reading this thing for the past several months. But it's 800 pages! And I've had classes! And I like to make excuses! I mean to finish it this month or else!


2. Disney War by James B. Stewart - On name brand alone, the Walt Disney Company should be the greatest conglomerate in the world, so why under Michael Eisner does it keep sinking deeper and deeper into the toilet? Inquiring minds want to know...and I love this behind the scenes Hollywood stuff.



3. Mr. Blue by Myles Connelly - Edited by St. Blog's own Amy Welborn, I thought I'd get in a "Catholic" novel in over the Summer by an author I'd never heard of. I'm not sure what to expect, hopefully I'll like it.

4. Mohawk Saint: Catherine Tekakwitha and the Jesuits by Alan Greer - Not a hagiography like most biographies of my home state saint, Blessed Kateri, this is a more academic work by Oxford University Press that deals with Kateri's background and her life as chronicled by the Jesuits who knew her and how their own life experiences shaped how they saw/wrote about her.

5. Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostovesky - I've read Crime and Punishment and I'm going to start The Brothers Karamzov in the Fall so I'd thought I'd get a head start and read this work in between.

6. Esperanto by John Cresswell and John Hartley - I did a term paper on Esperanto last semester and found myself becoming more and more interested in the language. This is a beginner's introduction to learning how to speak and read the language. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the knowledge. When I mentioned this was going to be my Summer project at work someone asked "who was I going to speak it with?" Good question. There's not exactly a lot of Esperanto speakers out there - which may be why I want to learn it. I'm just a contrarian by nature.

Darth Vader Can Read My Mind...Really

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Written on 1:26 AM by Jack B.

The Sith Sense - Lord Vader can tell what you're thinking in 20 questions or less (with the help of the Burger King), he certainly guessed what I was thinking when I tried it for the first time.

Hat tip to The Movie Blog for the link.

Haiku #28

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Written on 12:59 AM by Jack B.


Miss Patsy Cline sings:
"Baby, baby, all night long"
What a voice she had!

I listen to her
It's like I've gone through time and
She's singing to me

Just(ice) Desserts

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Written on 12:36 AM by Jack B.

The worst US Supreme Court decision I can remember in my lifetime took place this past year with the case of Kelo v. New London. In that case by a 5-4 ruling that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses even against their will for private economic development.

Which means that even if your family has lived in a home for several generations, your local government can confiscate it, give you whatever they think it's worth and give it to private developers build strip malls or a new Wal-Mart, all in the name of economic development for the "community". If you're a church or a synagogue or mosque or any other non-for-profit entity this decision can even be worse because local community "leaders (i.e. politicians) can say that a developer who promises to make money off of your property is constituting more of an "advantage" to the community than a tax-free religious or social service group. The decision violates one of the things this country has always held sacred - private property rights. We have never been Communists or Socialists. Our Revolution was not the French one which nationalized and seized private property and re-sold it to the highest bidder. Our founders were all landowners who respected property rights and they would be rolling over in their graves right now - perhaps worried their final resting places will be confiscated and given to somebody who wants to open a Chuck E. Cheese. After all, what economic boosts do tombstones and cemeteries contribute to a community?

So imagine my pleasure to learn that one of those Justices who ruled that people's homes can be taken away from them for "private development" may face the same thing himself. A conservative entrepreneur named Logan Darrow Clements is asking the town of Weare, New Hampshire to seize the house of Associate Justice David Souter so it can be put to good use as a hotel - a hotel that would bring in more money for the "community" than Mr. Souter's home is doing now. After all, didn't Mr. Souter just rule that doing just this was permissible by the US constitution? What's good for the goose...

Here's the story: WorldNetDaily: Supreme Court justice faces boot from home?

And here's the press release announcing the plan: Freestar Media, LLC

Excerpt:

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Cafe" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

"This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."

Personally, I'm not quite sure if this is a joke or not. I hope not. It's about time that those who dictate to us on high feel the effects of their own decisions on themselves. It would indeed be a case of "Just Desserts".

Iraqis Not Being Allowed To Get VISAs into the U.K.?

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Written on 12:12 AM by Jack B.

My favorite Iraqi blogger, 13-year old Raghda Zaid, otherwise known as Baghdad Girl, who in the midst of war spends most of the time posting pictures of adorable cats reports that she and her grandparents were refused a VISA to Britain at the UK Embassy in Jordan or as Ragdha put it, they basically said "Iraqis are not allowed to go to the U.K"

I really think this is a mistake. Ragdha's family should be known to many who read Iraqi blogs, her cousins Najma, Dalia, HNK, Hassan, brother Kais and uncles A Citizen Of Mosul and Life in Baghdad between them make up a large part of the Iraqi blogging community. They are deeply religious Muslims, but not fundamentalists, educated professionals and upper middle-class but not Baathists. They are the kind of Sunni Muslims who the allied coalition and new Iraqi govt. should be cultivating as the educated base of a new Iraqi democracy. As it is now, several of Ragdha's relatives are deeply suspicious of American occupying forces and look upon them with the same disdain as they do the terrorists. These are not the kind of people that we should be afraid to let into our countries (whether it be the UK or any other) but should be courting and convincing of our good motives.

I was not in favor of this war in Iraq but now that American troops are there I am convinced that we must win it and help bring a free and democratic Iraq into the world - yet it seems that every time we make a step forward poor planning and poorer public relations by politicians and generals make it that much harder not only for the new Iraqi government trying to convince everyone in Iraq to take part but our own US and British troops on the ground.

Haiku #27 - For Independence Day

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Written on 12:05 AM by Jack B.

Oh my America!
From Liberty's shining torch
To the Golden Gate

Hopeful America!
Where opportunity reigns
And the Dream lives on

Happy America!
Whose Declaration endures
In all of our hearts

Faithful America!
May you remain strong years more
With people upright

Fight still America!
Stay defender of the weak
Beacon to the world

Please, please, America!
Don't forget what you can be
And what you once were

Praise sweet America!
With all your faults, I love you
And I always will

Oh, yes! America!
Land of the brave, of the free
And the land of me

Finished the Survey - Boy, do I feel proud

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Written on 3:11 PM by Jack B.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Haiku #26

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Written on 12:50 PM by Jack B.

Why did the chicken
Eat the chop suey for lunch
Instead of the lamb?

The Hypodermic Tower

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Written on 12:23 AM by Jack B.

So they've got a new version of the "Freedom Tower" that will replace the old Twin Towers World Trade Center and be an example of America's defiance at the terrorists and determination and strength to build itself up again. It's going to be 1,776 feet - the largest building in the world. Blah. Blah. Blah. What frickin' B.S.

This was the first design (that took them forever to come up) that was going to be made of glass and steel with windmills at the top and a right-angled spire.



Trust me it looks better as it a model than it would have done it reality. I personally couldn't stand it- nothing about that screams "freedom" at all. And replacing two giant building with one tall glass one that's only taller because of the spire coming out of the top is not exactly a declaration of victory over the terrorists. What it is a declaration of defeat that having two of the most recognizable buildings in the world, we were going to replace it with a building that looked more like it belonged as a set for Disney on Ice than the New York skyline.

But there were a lot of complaints about this glass tower. Families of 9/11 victims didn't like it, various group of safety experts didn't like it saying it wasn't secure enough, the local media critics were harsh on it too. So the architects went back to the drawing board and created a more sleeker, safer, more viewer friendly building and so now have come up with this:


Here's an article on the "improved, safer structure" from Fox News. The building will now be built with stainless steel and titanium to give it a shiny look, instead of a glassy one. More safety precautions, exits and structural supports will be added. The spire will be moved to the center instead of the edge. "In a subtle but important way, this building recalls ... those buildings that we lost," said its lead architect, David Childs. And he's not kidding. The main roof will be the same height as the old WTC tower although they still intend it to be 1,776 feet tall.

So in other words, they have spent millions of dollars over the last FOUR years and instead of creating a real landmark to rival the the now 80 year old Empire State Building, instead of creating a building that would be one of the modern architectural wonders of the world, something that inspires awe and pride not only from the New Yorkers who would have to look at it (and work in it) every day but every American who remembers the Towers falling on September 11th. Instead of a building that would truly be a monument not only to the dead but an exclamation of American strength and ingenuity to the Osama Bin Ladens of the world, we have this.

And what is this new and improved "Freedom Tower"? Something a two-year old could have designed with LEGO blocks. Something that looks more like a hypodermic needle than any actual architectural original. A Hypodermic Tower instead of a "Freedom" one. And what's worse what we basically have here is a building that resembles ONE of the old WTC Towers except with a shiny outside and a big spike through the middle so they can brag that's taller when in actuality the roof is the same height as the fallen buildings. What a way to show Osama he can't beat America, he blows up two of the tallest buildings in the USA and kills over 3,000 people and we replace said buildings with a retread knock-off of just one of them. How brave.

Personally I would have preferred to see the great Antonio Gaudi's incredible originally turn-of-the century design for a giant NYC hotel that had been proposed by some people and talked about by others. Now THAT would have been something unforgettable (just like all of Gaudi's designs) especially in the Manhattan skyline and something that no one ever compare to anything else in the world past or present:


But instead of that we New Yorkers continue to have a giant empty gaping hole in downtown Manhattan where the WTC used to be and where no building work has been done in four years and are promised the new Hypodermic Tower in the future. What a joke (actually, I only wish it was).

The priest, his flock and his wife

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Written on 12:11 AM by Jack B.

Interesting article from the St.Petersburg Times about a married Catholic priest (former Episcopalian who converted) and how's he handling things. The most interesting person in the story for me is his wife - because she doesn't appear in the piece and doesn't do interviews.

Excerpt:

Missing from the scene is the smiling bride from the wedding photo on the downstairs wall. Mary Scheip has yet to arrive from work. It will be another hour before she pulls into the driveway.
Visiting journalists will never see her, which is how she wants it. When 60 Minutes' Morley Safer did a piece on celibacy in 2002, Mary Scheip wouldn't give CBS interviewers the time of day. What you learn about her is sketchy. She works full time in human resources and runs a private consulting business. A recent photo is unavailable. And, no, you may not take a photo of the family together.

Scheip is aware his priesthood is experimental. He's uncomfortable playing the role of clerical reformer - and so is his wife."My wife always says, "I support this but I don't want to be out front,' " Scheip says. "There's not a whole lot of precedent for it and we want to respect that."


Isn't that refreshing? Someone who turns down 60 Minutes (for what was probably one of their usual hack jobs on the Catholic Church and celibacy) and doesn't want her face in the camera. She knows its not about her, its not even about her husband, the role of a priest (married or not) is about Jesus - and she's not going to play the media game.

Personally I wouldn't mind married priests. Not because I don't have a great regard for celibacy (I do) but because I think once you've made the decision that married non-catholics who convert can get an exemption and become a priest but life-long married lay Catholics or married deacons can't, you run into hypocrisy. It should either a rule applied to be or none.