Sunday, September 30, 2012

Some warm food for a rainy fall day

Saturday, as promised by the forecasters at, the remnants of TS Miriam sat over the D-FW metroplex and dumped rain on us for over 20 hours.  Actually, as I watched it come almost straight down from the sky, it did remind me of the rainy days I had seen as a child at Clark AFB, near Angeles City on "the big island" (Luzon) in the Philippines: warm, soaking and consistent, enough to put some water in the ditches and arroyos without creating white-water rapids or causing flooding concerns.

Just the perfect kind of day for a bowl of hearty soup, with some salad and bread on the side.  Homemade soup is dirt-simple to make (in most cases) and cost-efficient; I once heard someone from a large family describe his mother's welcoming attitude for when his siblings brought friends home for dinner: "Just put another bowl on the table and throw some water in the soup."  A good soup recipe will stretch quite a bit before it loses its taste and ability to fill you up.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sadistic choices

One of the times I miss my old home town — Omaha, Nebraska — is when I'm driving to/from work.

My last job there was two miles from my front door straight down Blondo Street; with clear traffic, it was seven minutes door-to-door.  In rush hour, twelve.  And Omaha's not exactly a teeny-weeny burg, either: population 415,068 by last year's estimate, with just over 877 thousand in the eight counties comprising the metropolitan area and just over 1.2 million people within a 50-mile radius.  So while it's still possible to get from one side of the city to the other in twenty-five minutes, the roads have to be relatively clear and you have to be able to use the I-680 loop.

Not so here in the D-FW metroplex.  I live in Denton and work in Carrollton.  If I leave at 6:30 am, I can stop at BK for a Croissan'wich, stop at QT for a refill on my coffee and still be at work before 7:30 strikes.  If I leave at 6:45, there's every possibility that I won't even be able to glance at QT as I scream by to get to work just fifteen minutes late.  Does anybody else wonder why we fill our megalopoli with huge, multi-lane, limited-access freeways in order to pile them up with cars going 10 mph?

Monday, September 24, 2012

From the "Vapid Transit" department
This dress just screams, "Take me seriously!"

Lady Gaga shares her stunning insights into politics and religion with Europe 1, and On Top Magazine breathlessly reports the words of the oracle:
Lady Gaga has criticized Pope Benedict XVI's opposition to gay marriage, saying that his views don't matter.
On Friday, Benedict called on Roman Catholics in France to “defend marriage,” telling a group of French bishops that the institution would harm society.
Lady Gaga made her comments on Sunday in an interview with Europe 1.
“I think that gay marriage is something that is going to happen, it must.   We are not truly equal part of humanity if we are not allowed to freely love one another.” [Because we all know that sex = love, right?]
“What the pope thinks of being gay does not matter.  It doesn't matter to the world.   It matters to the people who like the pope and follow the pope.  It's not a reflection of all Christians.  It is not a reflection of all religious people.  It's a point of view of one person,” Lady Gaga said.  [You think maybe it will occur to her that she's one person, too? ... Na-aaa-ah!]
Wait a minute, wait a minute ... here's the good bit:
“And to all the gay people here. May you live and love each other until the end of time. And I hope you will have the human right to breed as an entirely equal, valuable and special member of society.”
 Apparently, she was so wrapped up in appealing to her fan base that she forgot her well wishes might be biologically challenging.  But then, I recently was in a combox debate with another person who said, in full sneering earnest, "Who says sex has anything to do with reproduction?"

Oh, please ... just make the stupid stop.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

From the "Compounding ignorance" department—UPDATED

Get ready, this extract from NBC News' Cosmic Log needs to be quoted and fisked at length:

Reality check on Jesus and his 'wife'

By Alan Boyle

 A fourth-century fragment of papyrus that quotes Jesus telling his disciples about "my wife" has set off a buzz among scriptural scholars — but this is no "Da Vinci Code" come true.  Rather, the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife"  [a bit of an exaggeration; more like the "Fragment of Jesus' Wife"] is just the latest discovery to suggest how the early Christian church took shape.  [You always start the spin right with the lede.] 
Fans of the Dan Brown thriller are already familiar with the theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a husband-and-wife relationship.  The basis for such speculation lies in Gnostic gospels that came out in the second and third centuries, but were left out of the standardized scriptures — texts such as the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of Mary and the recently reconstructed Gospel of Judas[Poorly written; none of these books were "standardized scriptures".  Boyle should have inserted this appositive phrase right after "Gnostic gospels" rather than at the end of the sentence.]
Even though only a few phrases can be read on the papyrus fragment that's just come to light, those phrases are consistent with the Gnostic view of early Christianity [error: the Gnostics weren't Christians (more below)] — which tended to give a more prominent role to women, and particularly to Mary Magdalene.  The text, written in the Sahidic Coptic dialect, includes the phrase "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...'" as well as references to a woman named Mary being "worthy of it," and to a woman who "will be able to be my disciple."  

Monday, September 17, 2012

One hundred fifty years ago ...

If a soldier hadn't found three cigars wrapped in paper lying on a field, Abraham Lincoln might have issued the Emancipation Proclamation many months later than he eventually did ... with who knows what effect on history.

Copy of Special Order No. 191 (Wikimedia Commons)
A few days before, on Sept. 9th, 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee, having not long before whipped Maj. Gen. John Pope and the Army of the Potomac at Second Manassas, decided on a strategy to take the pressure off the South.  Lee knew that the Confederacy could never win a strictly defensive war; outpopulated by the Union, attrition would eventually whittle away rebel forces until surrender became inevitable.  On the other hand, President Abraham Lincoln was under pressure from two sides: Radical Republicans, unhappy with his less-than-successful prosecution of the war and slowness to strike a blow against slavery, and pro-Southern, anti-war Democrats ("Copperheads"), unhappy with the federal government's intervention in state affairs and the Administration's suspension of habeas corpus.  

 Unknown to him, and to most people, Lincoln had drafted a preliminary proclamation a couple of weeks before.  However, Secretary of State William Seward convinced him to shelve it at least temporarily, telling the president that, in the absence of martial victories, the measure would appear to be "the last shriek on the road to defeat".  Lincoln reluctantly saw the sense in this and put it away for a better opportunity.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

One facepalm after another, laissez les mauvais temps rouler!

So okay, yeah, this post is a little behind ... but I'd started writing it before my imternet service went out of commission a little over two weeks ago.

So the good news is that Oakland Bp. Salvatore Cordileone, the incoming Bay City archbishop, is going to face no ecclesial penalties for Saturday night's [9/1/12] DUI charge.  Of course, this is no comfort for the Catholic Church's detractors, who would just as soon impale a bishop's head on a stick for jaywalking as for treason, murder, grand larceny or opposing gay marriage.

"Huh?  Bishop who?  That's old news!  Let's get to what you have to say about that no-good, dirty, rotten *#&!$ Fr. Benedict Groeschel!"

Frankly, there's really nothing I can say.  For one thing, the National Catholic Register took down the interview with Fr. Groeschel, so I can't read the quotes in context.  According to Bill Donahue, Fr. Groeschel "hypothesized how a young person (14, 16 or 18, as he put it) could conceivably take advantage of a priest who was having a nervous breakdown."  I don't know, though, because I can't read or judge it for myself.

Does it matter, anyway?  The narrative has already been hammered into place; indeed, it was forged ten years ago, long before the Penn State scandal and the accident that injured the 78-year-old Franciscan's head.  As far as the world's concerned, Fr. Benedict was defending predator priests.  Period.  Paragraph.  End of revelation.