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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Friday, December 02, 2016

Hugh Jackman: singer

Thinking of Hugh Jackman today as I re-watch all the X-Men movies in order. I'm not sure if everyone knows it, but before he became Wolverine, he was often singing for his supper. In 1998 he had the leading role of Curly in the Royal National Theatre's production of Oklahoma!. Here he is singing Oh What a Beautiful Morning :) ...



Losing faith in God and human nature

Still struggling with whether a God who cares about us as individuals does exist. One recent thing that's been making it even harder to believe is the way people have been acting. I have always taken for granted that people were basically good, but experience has been teaching me something different.

Since Trump has won the election, all the awful people are feeling embolden to be their worst selves ... Report: Trump's Election Led To A Surge In Hate Crime [Infographic]. And I see the worst side of people here where I live as well. Barely a day goes by that someone doesn't commit some petty mean act ... today it was someone taking stuff from my recycle trash can and trowing it under the trees for me to clean up.

It's becoming so hard to convince myself there's a God who cares about us but does nothing, too hard to believe that there's objective good in the world when so many people are effing jerks.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Throwback Thursday: overexposed

Me, long long ago in a galaxy far away ...

Trumpacolypse

- Tom Price: 'Not One' Woman Struggled to Afford Birth Control ... In 2012, the newly appointed HHS secretary claimed the ACA’s contraceptive mandate trampled on religious liberties and helped literally no women.

- A Trump Pick, and Why Indiana’s Strict Medicaid Rules Could Spread

- Trump's Billionaire Education Secretary Has Been Trying to Gut Public Schools for Years ... Betsy DeVos, the anti-union, pro-voucher surprise nominee.

- Texas will now require funeral services whenever a woman has an abortion ... Even when “the embryo is so small as to be invisible,” as David Brown, a staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, explained over the phone, the doctor or health care provider will still have to treat it like a dead person and hold some kind of burial or cremation for it. “We see the rule as one more attempt by Texas politicians to pile on the burdens on women seeking medical care for miscarriage or abortion,” Brown added.

There's more, but I'm too depressed to go on for now.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Snail love

I read a lot of news about the environment and animals. Today I saw this story at NPR: Can't Hurry Love: Rare Snail Finds Romance After Global Search

Snail reproduction is pretty strange and seeing this story reminded me of this video :) ...



Kaya Oakes and Plato's Forms

Kaya Oakes, Catholic writer and teacher at UC Berkeley, asks ...



Here's an answer from my pov: yes, that's just reserved for women. If there were a Platonic Form for women, in the eyes of many men, it would be Physical Attractiveness. If a woman fails to participate fully in this Form, there really is no other way for her to redeem her worth. At least, that's been my experience.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Links


- Richard Chamberlain as John Blackthorne (based on William Adams) and Damien Thomas as Jesuit Martin Alvito (based on João Rodrigues SJ) from Shōgun

- For those interested in the upcoming movie Silence, I had a post from a couple of years ago that touched on the movie, comparing it to another film of Jesuits in Japan: Shogun ... Jesuits in Japan redux (see pic above)

- The People Chose Hillary Clinton. Now We Need To Stop Donald Trump From Trashing Our Democracy

- George Harrison Is Still Classic Rock’s Best-Kept Secret

- :) ...


Ellen DeGeneres: Presidential Medal of Freedom



Watch Obama’s Lovely Tribute to Ellen DeGeneres, Androgynous Gay Ambassador

Today, Ellen DeGeneres represents a kind of hyper-palatable, vanilla gayness that’s more mainstream than subversive. When Barack Obama awarded her one of his last Presidential Medals of Freedom on Tuesday, he reminded viewers that two decades ago, when DeGeneres came out, even rumors of being gay could torpedo an actor’s livelihood ...

When I think of Ellen, I always remember this bit where she begins to sing that song from West Side Story :) ...



Saturday, November 26, 2016

Trees

I saw this article at The Atlantic today - The Health Benefits of Trees ...

It is becoming increasingly clear that trees help people live longer, healthier, happier lives—to the tune of $6.8 billion in averted health costs annually in the U.S., according to research published this week. And we're only beginning to understand the nature and magnitude of their tree-benevolence ....

It's another cold rainy day here and the garage, where the cats stay when it rains, is leaking a lot. But though the house and garage are rotting away, the one thing I do have in abundance here is a wealth or trees. Here are some photos I've taken of some of them over the years ...

There's the orange tree my parents planted ...





And pine trees, including the ones that were our live Christmas trees when we were kids ...



There's an oleander ...



And a magnolia ...



There are apricots too but they're mostly dead now ...



Nut trees too, like the walnut tree ...



And the pecan tree, which was a volunteer ...



Speaking of volunteers, there are a lot of privet trees in the yard ...



And wild plum trees too ...





There's also a little loquat tree ...



And an acacia tree ...



And a box elder ...



And there are oaks ...





I feel very lucky to live around so many trees.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Let's flip the election results

Was the election hacked? Can the outcome be reversed? Oh please God, let it be so!



- Your questions about the potential US election recount, answered

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving



Today's the day many of us get together with family to celebrate and be thankful. That idea always reminds me of this ancient Bing Crosby song ....



Most people will be eating turkey, but not me or my sister, vegetarians that we are. I saw an article today that touched on this ... Why Do We Pardon Turkeys? Lessons in Human Morality by Sherry F. Colb, Professor of Law and Charles Evans Hughes Scholar at Cornell Law School ... but I doubt anyone besides me will read it. My sis and I had artichoke pizza and chocolate eclairs for Thanksgiving dinner :)

For those who have not yet eaten, here's Stephen Colbert with some 'Post-Election Survival Tips' for getting through Thanksgiving dinner with relatives who voted for Trump (starting at 5:40) ...


Monday, November 21, 2016

Poe lets priests forgive abortion

In the news: Pope Francis extends Catholic priests' power to forgive abortion

Here are a couple of quotes from the article with my comments ...

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that every human life "from the moment of conception until death is sacred" -- and that any Catholic who procures an abortion incurs automatic excommunication, a penalty that often only a bishop could lift.

The whole thing is based on some squirrelly theology. Why has abortion been only forgivable up until now by a bishop, while murder has always been forgivable by a priest? Why are women who get abortions excommunicated, while women who murder their six month old babies are not? You often hear church guys say abortion is much more serious than killing an adult .... why should that be so? None of this is based on scripture.

Kate D'Annunzio of Rachel's Vineyard, a Pennsylvania-based group that ministers to women who have had abortions, said Francis has "clarified" that now priests have the power to do both: forgive and welcome women back into the church. "We are extremely ecstatic that the Pope is recognizing that the decision women have made has harmed them in so many ways, and they want to be reunited with the Church. "The Church has had the ability to forgive these women, but many of these women had difficulty forgiving themselves.'"

Actually most Catholic women who have had abortions don't go to confession because they don't believe what they have done needs to be forgiven. Recent studies have shown that the great majority of women are not "harmed" by getting an abortion and are not wracked with guilt over their choice (99 Percent of Women Don’t Regret Their Abortions).

More: The pope's abortion 'forgiveness' is good politics, but changes nothing for women and Pope Should Declare A Ceasefire In Abortion War

Sunday, November 20, 2016

"Welcome to the Spanish Inquisition"



Coming to a theater near us:, Assassin's Creed ...

an upcoming action adventure film based on the video game franchise of the same name The film is directed by Justin Kurzel, written by Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, and stars Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson and Michael K. Williams ....

Career criminal Callum Lynch is rescued from his own execution by Abstergo Industries, the modern-day incarnation of the Templar Order. He is forced to participate in the Animus Project and relive the memories of his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha, an Assassin in the time of the Spanish Inquisition. As Lynch continues to experience Aguilar's memories, he begins to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to confront the Templars—age-old enemies of the Assassins—in the present day.


I've never played the game but apparently the film will use that only as a base from which to explore. Here's an article from Forbes about it ... 'Assassin's Creed' Trailer: Michael Fassbender Tries To Redeem The Year In Video Game Movies

Here's a trailer ...


Friday, November 18, 2016

Don't 'give Trump a chance'

There have been many calls to give Trump a chance before freaking out about his coming presidency. While this may seem like a reasonable request, but I think it's a bad idea. As John Oliver has said, giving him a chance, in the sense of not speaking out immediately against policies he's proposed, is dangerous because some of them are alarming.

Things have actually gotten worse since Oliver said these words ... Trump has now chosen Myron Ebell for the EPA team (Trump picks climate change denier for EPA team), and he has chosen for Attorney General Republican Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Session (Attorney General Jeff Sessions Would Spell Absolute Disaster for Civil Rights in America), and has chosen Steve Bannon as his chief strategist (Steve Bannon’s dangerous campaign to rebrand racism as American “nationalism”).

As Christina Cauterucci writes ...

How many transgender people will be beaten, killed, or left homeless because the Trump administration axes civil rights protections and refuses to prosecute hate crimes? How many women will perish seeking underground abortions? How many immigrants, Muslims, and people of color will die at the hands of Trump supporters emboldened by his hate? How many cities will ISIS tear apart, and how many civilians will it brutalize and kill because our commander-in-chief, a thin-skinned egomaniac who’s ready to commit war crimes, will exacerbate the global threat of terror? How many people around the world will be displaced from their flooded homes, starved by drought, drowned by hurricanes, and victimized by terrorist groups because Trump, the leader of the second-worst emitter in the world, doesn’t believe climate change is real? In all likelihood, our republic will survive Donald Trump’s term in office. How many people, here in the U.S. and the world over, won’t?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A question for men

Is It OK to Be This Annoyed About Older Men Who Date Much Younger Women?

How’s this for kismet: One fateful day in 1966, singer Tony Bennett met and took a photo with a couple after one of his shows. Little did Bennett know at the time, his future wife was there, too: She was the baby growing inside the belly of the female fan.

Bennett, 90, recounts this meet-ick between him and his third wife, Susan Benedetto, 50, in his new book, as the all-seeing, no-casting-shade-here eye of People magazine recently reported. It’s hard to be rational about how skin-crawly this is: Fine, maybe they love each other, but he was 40 and she was negative several weeks when they met. It’s the punchline to a Saturday Night Live skit come to life, as the Cut was quick to note; it’s Twilight’s Jacob imprinting on Bella’s vampire baby; it’s that guy on Game of Thrones who marries his daughters. It captures everything that’s wrong with our sexist, youth-worshipping, male-privilege-run-amok society.

Bennett and Benedetto may make for a particularly striking example (“Lovely fetus you’ve got there, ma’am, here’s my number, have it call it me in 18 years or so”), but older men getting romantically involved with younger women is hardly a rare phenomenon. Every day, there seems to be another outrageous new celebrity coupling announced via pictures of some May-December frolicking: Jennifer Lawrence sharing a lollipop with Darren Aronofsky; Sean Penn dating Vincent D’Onofrio’s daughter; Mel Gibson having his ninth child with his 26-year-old girlfriend; Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen double-dating with their 47-year-old and 58-year-old respective beaus; Leonardo DiCaprio’s sending another lady-love packing upon her reaching the ripe old age of 25. Online dating stats bare out that average joes are just as enamored with younger women as their famous counterparts.

Each example disgusts me anew in a way that’s probably not entirely defensible: I think I might be angrier about these couples than I am about a good many important political issues. I know, I know: Why care that two consenting adults are canoodling when a demagogue is about to take the White House? (Donald Trump, for the record, is 24 years older than his wife Melania, and each time he’s gotten married, it’s been to a younger woman. But anyway.) It’s just so transparent, watching one of these paragons of fragile masculinity take his male privilege out for a spin and realize he can date someone so young she won’t know how inappropriate it is. High five! Why not father a child you’ll be too old to raise properly while you’re at it? The exact ages and differentials vary, but each one reinforces one important point: Women get less valuable as they age, while men just get to enjoy the ride .......


I have a question. Why do men rate women as consumables instead of as fellow people? I'd ask too if this is the world men want their daughters to inhabit, but then I'm reminded of guys like Woody Allen and Trump.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Stephen Colbert: Trump's team

Thank goodness for guys like John Oliver and Stephen Colbert and their commentary on the Trump presidency - if they didn't make me laugh, I think I'd be wailing and rending my garments by now.

Stephen Colbert Finds Refuge in Punditry: The comedian has long chafed against the bipartisan mandates of network TV. Now he’s taking sides


Don't blame the Democratic party for Trump's win

Many are trying to find someone to blame for the Trump win and some of them are trying to lay that blame on the Democratic party. I think they are wrong - the Democratic party and Hillary won the majority of the popular vote and she is still gaining votes. And needless to say, she had triumphed over Bernie in the popular vote as well. No, I blame the people who voted for Trump and people who didn't vote at all (almost half of the electorate) for Trump's victory. Here's the beginning of an article that touches on this ....

t’s Easy To Blame the Democratic Party for Trump—But Reality is More Complicated

Why did Trump win? Many liberal intellectuals who supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, like Paul Krugman, blame the Republican Party. Many left intellectuals who supported Bernie Sanders, like Thomas Frank (author of Listen, Liberal), blame the Democratic Party.

Neither party-blaming claim is entirely convincing. They both ignore the crosscutting identities and sometimes conflicting interests that weaken the Democratic coalition.

Like many of my friends, I wish that Bernie Sanders and not Hillary Clinton had won the Democratic nomination. But he didn’t, and we should think longer and harder about why.

In Frank’s account, “Democratic leaders” chose Clinton. If my memory serves me right, primary voters also chose her. I find it hard to believe that the party establishment is as hegemonic as Frank implies. Establishment Republicans obviously lacked the power to sandbag Trump. Establishment Democrats threw some sand at the Sanders campaign, but they did not have the power to sink it on their own.

Sanders’ failures had deeper roots. He never won enough support from black or Hispanic voters, key components of the Democratic coalition. One could argue that he deserved such support on the basis of a clearly articulated socialist politics and his progressive voting record in the Senate. But in his eagerness to hammer the income inequality nail, he put relatively little emphasis on race and gender discrimination, police violence, immigration or family policy. He also did not align himself with the popular Obama presidency, as Hillary Clinton did. As a result, he failed to get much visibility with voters of color or to explicitly mobilize women ......

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hozier: Better Love


- Hozier

Watching The Legend of Tarzan again and noticing the music this time .... Irish musician Hozier does a song that plays during the ending credits - Better Love. I've posted before about Hozier and his song, Take Me To Church ... Hozier and the Catholic church and This gives a whole new meaning to liturgical dance :).

Here he is doing Better Love for the movie ....



Better Love - Hozier

I once kneeled in shaking thrill
I chase the memory of it still, of every chill
Chided by that silence of a hush sublime
Blind to the purpose of the brute divine
But you were mine
Staring in the blackness at some distant star
The thrill of knowing how alone we are, unknown we are
To the wild and to the both of us
I confessed the longing I was dreaming of

Some better love, but there's no better love
Beckons above me and there's no better love
That ever has loved me, there's no better love
Darling, feel better love
Feel better love

And I've never loved a darker blue
Than the darkness I have known in you, own from you
You, whose heart would sing of anarchy
You would laugh at meanings, guarantees, so beautifully
When our truth is burned from history
By those who figured justice in fond memory, witness me
Like fire weeping from a cedar tree
Know that my love would burn with me
We'll live eternally

Cause there's no better love
That beckons above me, there's no better love
That ever has loved me, there's no better love
So darling, feel better love
Cause there's no better love
That's laid beside me, there's no better love
That justifies me, there's no better love
So darling, darling, feel better love
Feel better love

Feel better love
Feel better love
Feel better love

Cause there's no better love
That beckons above me, there's no better love
That ever has loved me, there's no better love
So darling, feel better love
Cause there's no better love
That's laid beside me, there's no better love
That justifies me, there's no better love
So darling, darling, feel better love
Feel better love

John Oliver on Trump's presidency

From The Atlantic: John Oliver, Activist ...

For the last eight years, we’ve had a president we could assume would generally stand up for the rights of all Americans. But that is going to change now. So we’re going to have to actively stand up for one another. And it can’t just be sounding off on the internet or sharing think pieces or videos like this one that echo around your bubble. I’m talking about actual sacrifice to support people who are now under threat.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Leon Russell: RIP



Leon Russell dies at 74; hit songwriter, Wrecking Crew member, musical bridge builder

- Hummingbird ....



- A Song for You ...


Friday, November 11, 2016

Stephen Colbert on the Trump transition

I'm trying to stop posting about Trump. Really. But when I hear so many people going on about unity and giving him a chance, smoke just comes out of my ears. I'm not the only one: listen to Stephen Colbert ("How do you want to make America great? Elect someone who already knows how to do that") ...


A Trump presidency & climate change



- Why climate change experts fear Trump's presidency

- Gov. Jerry Brown warns Trump that California won't back down on climate change

- Trump’s Pick to Lead the EPA Transition Team Is a Proud Climate Skeptic


A Trump presidency & reproductive rights

- How a Trump presidency will threaten women’s reproductive rights

- Women Are Preparing for Trump and Pence’s Inevitable Assault on Reproductive Rights

- What You Can Actually Do Right Now To Help Preserve Reproductive Rights

- At ABC Religion and Ethics , an audio interview with Jon O'Brien of Catholics For Choice about the Catholic lay movement for reproductive rights