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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Summer Song

I remember looking out of the window in the living room with my cat Spot and singing along to this song ...

Monday, January 14, 2019

The not so secret lives of priests

The American cardinal who slept with numerous seminarians and abused minors has been in the news again - Wuerl knew of McCarrick abuse allegations, according to Catholic officials

This scandal is just the latest that has come to public attention, but the real story is a about that slow-motion train wreck known of as the Catholic priesthood. Mandatory celibacy and anit-gay policies have created an environment of dishonesty and abuse.

Last year Fr. James Alison wrote a couple of articles for The Tablet about McCarrick and about life in the priesthood. It's pretty amazing in its honesty. Here's a bit of what he wrote in the articles, from his website ...

[...] The McCarrick shock was not what he got up to with seminarians and other adults. These were widely known about. It was that in addition to a standardly furtive, albeit egregiously creepy, clerical gay life, this generally kind and well-liked man had also abused at least two minors. ....

In all these cases, in as far as the behaviour was adult-related, plenty of people in authority sort-of-knew what was going on, and had known throughout the clerics’ respective careers. However the informal rule among the Catholic Clergy – the last remaining outpost of enforced homosociality in the Western world – is strictly “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Typically, blind eyes are turned to the active sex lives of those clerics who have them, only two things being beyond the pale: whistle-blowing on the sex lives of others, or public suggestions that the Church’s teaching in this area is wrong. These lead to marginalisation, whether formal or informal.

Given all this, it seems to me entirely reasonable that people should now be asking “How deep does this go?” If such careers were the result of blind eyes being turned, legal settlements made, and these clerics themselves were in positions of influence and authority, how much more are we going to learn about those who promoted and protected them? Or about those whom they promoted?

So it is that voices like Rod Dreher – keenly followed blogger at The American Conservative – are resuscitating talk of the “Lavender Mafia”, and the demand, which became popular in conservative circles from 2002 onwards, that the priesthood be purged of gay men. Investigative journalists are being encouraged to lay bare the informal gay networks of friendship, patronage, and potential for blackmail which structure clerical life (or are being excoriated for their politically correct cowardice in failing to do so). The aim is to weed out the gays, especially the treasonous bishops who have perpetuated the system. Ross Douthat – the New York Times columnist – has called for a papally mandated investigation into the American Church (I guess along the lines of Mgr Charles Scicluna’s in Chile) in order to restore its moral authority. Others, like Robert Mickens, The Tablet’s Rome correspondent for many years, are equally aware of the “elephant in the sacristy” which is the massively disproportionate number of gay men in the clergy, but highlight the refusal of the Roman authorities to engage in any kind of publicly accountable, adult discussion about this fact. Their refusal reinforces collective dishonesty and perpetuates the psychosexual immaturity of all gay clergy, whether celibate, partnered or practitioners of so-called “serial celibacy”.

How to approach this issue in a healthy way? As a gay priest myself I am obviously more in agreement with Mickens than with Dreher or Douthat. However I would like to record my complete sympathy with the passion of the latter two as well as with their rage at a collective clerical dishonesty which renders farcical the claim to be teachers of anything at all, let alone divine truth. Jesus becomes credible through witnesses, not corrupt party-line pontificators.

Having said that, I suspect that particular interventions, whether by civil authority or Papal mandate, are always going to run aground on the fact that they can only deal with, and bring to light specific bad acts, usually ones that rise to the level of criminality. I cannot imagine a one-off legal intervention in this sphere that would be able to make appropriate distinctions where there are so many fine lines: between innocent friendship, sexually charged admiration, abusive sexual suggestion, emotional blackmail, financial blackmail, recognition of genuine talent, genuine love lived platonically, genuine love lived with sexual intimacy, sexual favours granted with genuine freedom, sexual favours granted out of fear or in exchange for promotion, covering peccadillos for a friend, covering graver matters for a rival in exchange for some benefit, not wanting to know too much about other people’s lives, or obsessively wanting to know too much about them. Let alone the usual rancours of break-ups, career disappointments, petty jealousies, bitterness, revenge and so on. All of these tend to shade into or out of each other over time, making effective outside assessment, even if it were desirable, impossible ....

When I joined the Catholic church about 20 years ago I was pretty naive about the priesthood - I thought most priests were like Fr. Dowling. But womb-to-tomb Catholics do know about the dysfunctionality and they just ignore it. I don't understand that.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Naming the cats

Out in the yard today with the cats ...

Olive likes to drink from the hose rather than a dish :). Olive is a male and a Maine Coon, but at first I thought he was a girl ....

Vicky was into some serious grooming. I didn't know when I named him Vicky that about 80% of yellow tabby cats are male ...

Tortie Hansel was lying on the warm driveway. When I named Hansel after a boy (Hansel and Gretel) I didn't know that almost all tortoiseshell cats are female ...

And here's Yoda napping by the window - a female cat named after a male Star Wars character who has really big ears, because she had huge ears as a kitten. But now her hears are kind of small, so her name doesn't really fit either :) ...

At least I was right about Lucy, who really is a girl and I named her after St. Lucy because of her luminous eyes ...

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Will Hurd on border security

Republican congressman Will Hurd of Texas, a former undercover CIA operative in the Middle East, gives a really cogent argument for why "the wall" is not the smartest way to deal with the situation at the southern border ...

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

"So sad"

"So sad" said Trump during his bizarre talk from the White House - I think those words fitly describe his whole speech. He lied continuously throughout, blamed everything but the Lindbergh kidnapping on the Democrats, and turned building the wall akin to a religious crusade.

Here The New York Times fact checks all he said ... Trump’s Speech to the Nation: Live Updates and Fact Checks

An example ...

“The federal government remains shut down for one reason, and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.”


Democrats have offered $1.3 billion in funding for border security measures like enhanced surveillance and fortified fencing. They do not support Mr. Trump’s border wall. At a meeting with Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer in December, Mr. Trump took responsibility for the partial government shutdown. “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it,” he said.

— Linda Qiu

All this sturm und drang is about one thing only ... Trump and his invertebrate Republican sycophants staying in power by hook or crook or dead-head base support. They are unworthy to run this country.

Monday, January 07, 2019

60 Minutes: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was on 60 Minutes. The Republicans have been trying to make her into a radical liberal boogey-woman to stir up their base, but as a Democrat I don't find her radical, I find her exactly what I hope a Democratic lawmaker would be - she's for protecting the environment, free education, economic justice, health care for all, an assault weapons ban. women's reproductive rights, etc. What's not to like? :)

Sunday, January 06, 2019

It's a hostage situation

Trump's latest plan to get the money for his wall is to have it made out of steel instead of concrete, as if that makes any difference. Meanwhile, people are asking why the Democrats don't just give in and let him have the money. The Democrats don't do that for the same reason that governments don't negotiate with terrorists ... if you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want a glass of milk.

Trump isn't an effing king who can order the government to comply with his every stupid whim. And the wall *is* a stupid whim. It's not the best way to deal with the border situation, it's just a prop to Trump's ego and a sop to his brain-dead zombie horde of a base. Since he can't simply order it done, he's taken the country hostage instead.

Because of this shutdown, people have already died (Three dead in national park system accidents as shutdown wears on), and soon millions of food stamp recipients, elderly people and little kids, will be deprived of food (Food stamps for millions of Americans become pawn in shutdown fight).

Trump isn't worried about the damage done, he's relishing it (Trump’s Leverage in the Shutdown Fight: His Own Nihilism). If the Democrats give in to this moral blackmail, Trump will use the same tactic again and again to satisfy his every selfish urge.

There is a solution to the problem. The Republicans could vote to pass the very same bill they did pass earlier that would keep the government open. It won't matter if Trump refuses to sign it because Congress has the votes to override his veto. But the Republicans won't do this. They give more fealty to their would-be king than they do to the American people.

What Rashida Tlaiub said

In the news: GOP Clutches Pearls Over Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s ‘Foul Language,’ Shrugs Over Trump’s

After newly sworn-in Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) pledged to “impeach that motherf**ker,” referring to President Donald Trump, during a progressive rally Thursday night, Republican lawmakers on Friday immediately turned up the outrage machine.

“You’ve had very foul language used,” said House GOP chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), whose dad, former Vice President Dick Cheney, in 2004 told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to “fuck yourself” while the two were on the Senate floor for a group photo.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also condemned Tlaib’s remarks as “wrong,” and lauded the previous Republican freshman class because they “put a resolution together to actually work with one another, to not use foul language.” ....

The hypocrisy is breathtaking. It's not just that Republicans have yawned over Trump's own use of the F word, they have refused to condemn him for stuff from boasting about grabbing women's lady parts, to saying that the neo-nazis at Charlottesville were fine people, to calling countries in Africa sh*tholes, to implying Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is a whore. The list of Trump's slurs and lies could go on forever.

Republicans are always justifying the awful things Trump says by asserting that he's only voicing what people really think but are afraid to say. In most cases, I don't thin that's true, but in the case of what What Rashida Tlaiub said about Trump, it's definitely true for me.

Friday, January 04, 2019

The latest uppity woman

There's been a lot in the news lately about how Republican lawmakers have been concentrating their criticisms on new congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The latest .... they have come down on her for a video from her college years in which she and other students are dancing to old John Hughes' movies.

From The Guardian ... An attempt to humiliate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the day she was sworn in as the youngest ever US Congresswoman has backfired impressively, prompting a huge outpouring of support for her.

Republican dopes - did they never see Footloose? ;)

Some have tried to figure out why the Republicans are so fixated on Ocasio-Cortez. My theory is that they just really hate to see an unapologetically intelligent, confident, liberal female rising to a position or respect and power. In short, AOC is the latest (after Nancy Pelosi) uppity woman.

Deal with it, jerks :)

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Nancy Pelosi :)

Here New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries nominates Nancy Pelosi as the new Speaker of the House. When he describes her and what she will do, you can see what it means to be a Democrat, what the Democratic party stands for. And of course she won :) ....

Throwback Thursday

During the college years, my sister and I went to a lot of martial arts movies. We saw the Japanese samurai films like Samurai Trilogy by Inagaki and most of the ones by Kurosawa like Rashomon and Yojimbo. Also the films/tv episodes about Zatoichi, the blind swordsman. We saw kung fu movies too, the Bruce Lee ones probably being the most accessible at that time.

And we also went to most of the earlier Chuck Norris movies. In the present, Chuck is mostly known as a politically conservative talk show host (I think?) but back then he was known of as a really good karate practitioner .... In 1969, he won Karate's triple crown for the most tournament wins of the year, and the Fighter of the Year award by Black Belt magazine.

Here's a clip from a movie in which Bruce Lee and Chuck appeared together in a fight scene in the Colosseum (Chuck is the bad guy ;) - ...

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Elizabeth Warren & Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow interviews Elizabeth Warren. I didn't realize that Warren was so knowledgeable about financial stuff. I didn't know she had been a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and at Harvard Law School, specializing in bankruptcy law. I also didn't know she's written a number of books about financial issues - must look them up at the library. And I didn't know she had been named Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by Obama to set up the new agency. As Rachel said, Warren, through her work, too the shame out of the financial struggle that many working Americans faced. I know all about that shame. Another reason to vote for Elizabeth Warren.

Here's are some segments of Rachel's interview ...

Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy almost New Year

Thinking of the future. So many people might run for president in 2020 from the Democratic party that it's hard to know who will be the final candidate.

I would definitely vote for Elizabeth Warren ...

And then there's Beto O'Rourke. I'd vote for him too ...

And California congressman Eric Swalwell also plans to run - I like him ...

And there are many more. We Democrats have some really decent possibilities! :)

Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Predator

This week's movie rental was The Predator ...

a 2018 American science fiction action film directed by Shane Black and written by Black and Fred Dekker. It is the fourth installment in the Predator film series .... The film stars Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, and Sterling K. Brown and follows a group of PTSD-afflicted soldiers who must fight off an invading pair of Predators.

I remember seeing the original 1967 Predator movie with my sister - it starred Arnold :). This 2018 film is a sort of follow-up to that. It's rated R ... there's bad language, lots of violence, and the cast works overtime at being very bad-ass. There were controversies too - a cast member who was a sex offender and a weird take on childhood autism. The film got mostly poor reviews ... The Predator is a movie hurt by controversy — and by editing

Here's a trailer ...

I gave up on the movie after only watching about half of it, but if you can get past all the gore and the bad words, you might be able to find it entertaining.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Into the Magic Shop

I've been pretty depressed lately, worrying about so many things, from health to finances to the 16 (!) cats I'm trying to take care of. The other night I looked up depression online and eventually came across mention of a book, Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James Doty.

Here's a bit about him from Wikipedia ...

James R. Doty, M.D., FACS, FICS (born 1 December 1955) is a Clinical Professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University and founder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, an affiliate of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart published by Penguin Random House on February 2, 2016. It has been translated into 31 languages. Dr. Doty is also the Senior Editor of the Oxford Handbook of Compassion Science (2017).

I got the book from the library but have to finish the Stargate book I'm reading first before I can get to it ;) Meanwhile, I'm watching this video talk he gave at Google ...

I've got to say, I'm not sure this book will be of much help to me. In the talk Doty says that it isn't the events in our lives that causes us problems, it's our reaction to the events that causes the problems. This neutralizing of events just strikes me as dishonest. If someone is suffering, there is no question that that is a bad thing. To be upset about that bad thing is normal. To find a way to evade the badness so that you won't have to be upset seems wrong to me. I'm not going to give up making objective judgements of the goodness or badness of events and I hope I don't stop being upset about the bad ones.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Welcome to Wednesday

Joe Scarborough gives a pretty good assessment of our political situation to date ...

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas

The choir of King's College Cambridge sings the Sussex Carol, one of the most cheerful Christmas songs :) ....

1. On Christmas night all Christians sing
To hear what news those angels bring;
News of great joy, news of great mirth,
News of our Saviour King's own birth.

2. Then why should men on earth be so sad
Since our Redeemer made us glad,
When from sin He set us free
All for to gain our liberty.

3. Now sin depart, behold His grace,
Everlasting life comes in its place,
And soon we shall its terror see
And poor and rich must conquered be.

4. Then out of darkness we see light,
Which makes all angels to sing this night
Glory to God and peace to men
Both now and evermore. Amen.