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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

More on the Pope Francis/Kim Davis thing

From The Atlantic - Why Did Pope Francis Meet With Kim Davis? ...

[...] That this meeting happened is somewhat of a surprise: Davis has been one of the most polarizing figures in American politics in recent months, seen by some on the right as the foremost fighter against violations of religious liberty. When Pope Francis came to the U.S., his message was exactly the opposite—one of unity and reconciliation, not combativeness.

But it’s not surprising that the Vatican went about it this way. During his visit, the pope made a non-public stop to speak with victims of sexual abuse that the Vatican didn't announce until the last day of his trip, hoping not to distract from the pope’s larger message. This is how the Vatican often arranges controversial meetings: privately, and not to be shared until later

Yes, we're all too painfully aware of the Vatican's secrecy policy .... think sex abuse cover-up. You would think that the Vatican would have learned by now that deception is the enemy of trust.

The pope's comments about religious liberty and conscience sound good but I think he's being disingenuous. If the Pope is so supportive of conscience, why did he not reinstate Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest who was laicized, excommunicated, and dumped from his order because his conscience prompted him to support women's rights in the church .... he had the chance when Fr. Bourgeois sent him an open letter asking for his consideration. Nope, this isn't about conscience, it's about the Pope's very negative feelings on marriage equality.

More from NCR - Pope Francis met Kentucky clerk Kim Davis

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


- Kentucky clerk Kim Davis claims private meeting with Pope Francis ... yuck :(

- From the Pew Forum ...

- From The New York Times: Eward Snowden is now on Twitter and his first tweet has had over 90,000 retweets ...

Edward Snowden started his Twitter feed with a joke about surveillance, attracting hundreds of thousands of followers but following only one account: the N.S.A.’s. He tweeted back and forth with the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, saying, “Thanks for the welcome. And now we’ve got water on Mars! Do you think they check passports at the border? Asking for a friend.”

National Pink Out Day

Today is a day to show support for Planned parenthood - Planned Parenthood to Offer Free S.T.D. Testing on National Pink Out Day ...

This is also the day Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards mounts defense before Congress. I don't know how the Republicans are going to come to a reasoned conclusions when Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards was barely allowed to answer the questions they asked her - this video shows the zillions of times she was interrupted and talked over ....

More: Planned Parenthood Emerges Unscathed From GOP Attacks – WSJ/NBC Poll

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Man in the High Castle

UPDATE: uh oh - it looks like we can only watch the first episode, with the rest of the episodes not available until November. Boo hoo :(

The latest tv series I'm trying out is The Man in the High Castle ...

an American dystopian alternate history television series produced by Amazon Studios. The series is based on the 1962 novel of the same name by American science fiction author Philip K. Dick. The story is an alternate history of the world in which the Axis powers won World War II. The United States has been partitioned into three parts: The Japanese puppet state of the Pacific States of America, which comprises the former United States west of the Rocky Mountains; a German puppet state that comprises the eastern half of the former United States; and a neutral zone that acts as a buffer between the two areas, called the Rocky Mountain States.

I read the Hugo-Award-wining book when I was a teen, so I was interested to see there had been a series made of it. I've only seen one episode so far but I do like it and plan to watch the whole thing. Here's a review from The Atlantic: The Man in the High Castle: When a Nazi-Run World Isn't So Dystopian.

And here's a glimpse ....


- #ShellNo

Shell abandons Alaska Arctic drilling

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Kittens pooped on a hot afternoon

Gretel and Hansel trying to catch some ZZZZZs ....

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bill Nye: Stop Telling Women What to Do With Their Bodies

I saw a Big Think video from Bill Nye (the science guy) today. I only know who he is because he and Neil deGrasse Tyson were once on an episode of Stargate Atlantis - they appeared as past colleagues of the character of scientist Rodney McKay :) .....

But anyway, here's the video from Big Think ...

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Pope at the UN on the environment

Pope Francis to the UN: environmental degradation threatens ‘the very existence of the human species’

I'm very happy the Pope is on board with environmentalism. I've been a supporter of the environment since I was a teen and really appreciate the work of organizations like the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, World Wildlife Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity and others. I wonder how all the conservative Catholics and Republicans are dealing with the Pope's message - they're traditionally the people who want to exploit the environment as a product for consumption. Democrats are usually the defenders of the environment, and I saw an article at NCR today about Hillary Clinton's agreement with the Pope on climate change.

You can read the transcript of the Pope's talk at the UN here at TIME.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pope Francis at St. Patrick's tonight

Tonight Pope Francis visited St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan ....

Here's a bit about that from The New York Times ...

Pope Laments the Wages of Materialism

Another danger comes when we become jealous of our free time, when we think that surrounding ourselves with worldly comforts will help us serve better. The problem with this reasoning is that it can blunt the power of God’s daily call to conversion, to encounter with him.

In his homily to clergy members, nuns and members of religious orders at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Pope Francis reminds them that they should live simply.

This is a common criticism of the church hierarchy in many American dioceses, including in New York, where Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan lives in a Madison Avenue mansion attached to the cathedral instead of in simpler quarters.

A bit more about Dolan and his mansion: In Era of Humble Pope, Earth Shifts Under Cardinal Dolan. St. Patrick's was renovated in the last few years at the cost of $177 million. Here's an article about it from Architect Magazine: St. Patrick's Cathedral Gets an Update Fit for the Pope

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pope compliments US Bishops on handling of sex abuse

Pope Francis: US bishops show 'courage' over Catholic church sex abuse crisis

Pope Francis has hailed US bishops for their handling of the sexual abuse crisis that has rocked the Catholic church for decades, saying they had shown “courage” throughout and regained the authority and the trust which was demanded of them.

In rare remarks about the string of scandals that first emerged in the mid-1980s, Pope Francis stopped short of addressing the victims of clerical abuse, focusing instead on the pain that had been inflicted on the bishops who were left to weather the storm.

“I am also conscious of the courage with which you have faced difficult moments in the recent history of the church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice,” he said.

He then commended the bishops for being ready to sell off church property and assets in order to pay for settlements with abuse victims. “Nor have you been afraid to divest whatever is unessential in order to regain the authority and trust which is demanded of ministers of Christ and rightly expected by the faithful,” he said ....

Unbelievable! :( Maybe when the pope visits Cardinal Dolan in New York Thursday he can also compliment him on his past plan to defraud sex abuse claimants by hiding $57 million dollars in church assets away in a cemetery fund.

Meanwhile, not a word from the pope about the cover-up of sex abuse by US Bishops/cardinals, like Finn and Mahony, not to mention the notorious Cardinal Law.

More from National Catholic Reporter: Francis falters in addressing sex abuse, and from The Washington Post: Why advocates for clergy sex abuse victims call Pope Francis’s remarks a ‘slap in the face’

The tarp man

Today and tomorrow the tarp man is here to put new tarps on the leaky roof before the rainy season starts. I did try to find some government grant or loan that would help pay for re-roofing the house, but I had no luck. At the moment, the tarp man is out buying the tarps, but he left some of his tools on the porch ....

The cats are all terrified of the stranger and his stuff so I moved their food to far away under the orange tree ...

First the tarp man must take the old tarps off and I guess there are lots of dead leaves and tree branches to get rid of too before the tarps are put on. Hope it doesn't last longer than two days!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Pope is here!

Well, not exactly *here* ... why don't popes visit the west coast ever? But still, here in the US ....

I'm going to try to keep up with what's going on - maybe he'll do something surprising and post-worthy :)

Kaya Oakes' article at Religion Dispatches ....

How to Make Nones and Lose Money: Study Shows Cost of Catholic Sex Abuse Scandals

More from her today on the pope's visit to the US ...

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Pope and the Birth Control Ban

An editorial in The New York Times today: The Pope and the Birth Control Ban

[...] The church establishment under Pope Francis continues to oppose access to birth control. The Holy See’s delegation at the United Nations has objected to the inclusion of contraception and reproductive rights in worldwide development goals. At every turn, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has fought the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for contraception coverage. In the Philippines, Catholic authorities strenuously opposed a bill to allow government health centers to stock free or subsidized birth control; the law finally passed in 2012. Catholic hospitals and clinics, the only option in some regions, often do not offer contraceptives.

Catholics around the world, meanwhile, largely support the use of birth control. A 2014 poll of 12,000 Catholics in 12 countries found that 78 percent supported contraception; in Spain, France, Colombia, Brazil and the pope’s native Argentina, more than 90 percent supported its use. In a 2008 survey, 71 percent of Catholics in the Philippines supported the country’s reproductive health bill.

Expanding birth control access worldwide would have huge benefits. Some 225 million women want to avoid pregnancy but don’t use reliable contraception, the Guttmacher Institute says. Providing them with contraception would prevent 52 million unintended pregnancies, 14 million unsafe abortions and 70,000 maternal deaths a year.

The Catholic Church has considered lifting its ban on contraception in the past. In 1964, Pope Paul VI convened a commission on the issue. A majority of members, including 60 of 64 theologians and nine of 15 cardinals, recommended repealing the ban. Instead, Pope Paul issued an encyclical confirming it would stay in place.

Pope Francis praised Pope Paul’s decision in his speech in Manila. But instead of looking to his predecessors, he should listen to Catholics today ......

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Warm afternoon

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Pope, Bishop Gene Robinson, and Sister Simone Campbell

Francis X. Rocca writes that the Vatican has freaked out over some of the guests President Obama has chosen to greet the pope at the White House ...

On the eve of Pope Francis’s arrival in the U.S., the Vatican has taken offense at the Obama administration’s decision to invite to the pope’s welcome ceremony transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and an activist nun who leads a group criticized by the Vatican for its silence on abortion and euthanasia. According to a senior Vatican official, the Holy See worries that any photos of the pope with these guests at the White House welcoming ceremony next Wednesday could be interpreted as an endorsement of their activities .....

Or perhaps the Vatican's objections are unofficial? .....

But anyway ....

One person the Vatican is (or isn't) objecting to the pope meeting is Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of Network, a national Catholic social justice advocacy organization that helped pass a health care bill that the US Bishops opposed. She also led the Nins on the Bus project.

Another person is Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop mentioned in the above news story. Bishop Robinson has written an open letter to the pope in response to the Vatican's hysteria. Here's the beginning of the letter ...

A Gay Episcopal Bishop’s Open Letter to the Pope

Dear Pope Francis,

I pray for you every day, because your pastoral responsibility is so daunting, and even if you are Pope, you are still only human. I have had the opportunity to be chief pastor and bishop to a faithful flock (albeit so very much smaller than yours), and it is an awesome responsibility. It is also a blessing and an honor to serve, is it not?

There has been a bit of a kerfuffle in the last 24 hours due to reports that a senior Vatican official is offended, on your behalf, by my invitation to the White House on Wednesday to welcome you to America. Sister Simone Campbell, one of the nuns working day in and day out on behalf of the poor, is lumped in with me as a purported offense to you.

Based on your saintly ministry so far as Pope, I have to suspect that this report does not represent your own views (if this has even been brought to your attention), but rather the views of those who would try to “protect” you from the world. It would seem that I hold a higher view of you than some of your handlers who may have forgotten that you have demonstrated quite regularly not only your knowledge of the real world, but also a compassion for it. Not to mention that the good nun and I will be somewhere in the middle of a throng of 10,000+ Americans joining together to welcome you and wish you well.

I suppose the Vatican official’s concern has to do with my having been elected and consecrated a Bishop of The Episcopal Church, while at the same time being an openly gay, partnered man. Were I ever to have the honor of meeting you, I would of course not be the first gay man or gay bishop with whom you have had contact. Some of them, undoubtedly, work with and for you in the Vatican. Based on your demonstrated and notorious compassion, I suspect you will not be offended by a gay bishop and a feisty nun somewhere in the crowd of 10,000 admirers.

We disagree in our understandings about sexuality and the diverse and wonderful ways God has made us. But as far as I am concerned, that does not keep me from admiring you and praying for you and your ministry ....

I hope Pope Francis gets to meet them both.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Last night's GOP debate

I watched the Republican debate last night online. Holy mackerel :( The discussion of one issue that especially struck me was that of defunding Planned Parenthood and those deceptive videos about fetal tissue - all the Republican candidates who spoke about the subject in the debate misrepresented the truth. As this Washington Post editorial states, facts and reason were left in the dust, and I found especially creepy Carly Fiorina's lies (Fiorina defends citing nonexistent abortion video).

From the LA Times: It's time for Carly Fiorina to apologize to Planned Parenthood [UPDATED]

And this: What Was Up With Carly Fiorina’s Grisly Abortion Rant?

And here's a bit from the WP editorial ...

[...] Mr. Cruz, Mr. Christie and Ms. Fiorina all alluded to a series of heavily edited videos produced by antiabortion activists that have become a flash point in efforts by congressional Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood. Mr. Cruz labeled the family planning provider an “ongoing criminal enterprise” and said the videos show Planned Parenthood officials “bartering and selling the body parts of human beings . . . essentially [confessing] to multiple felonies.” Mr. Christie referred to the “systematic murder of children in the womb to preserve their body parts.” Ms. Fiorina challenged President Obama and Hillary Clinton to view the tapes and “watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

Those characterizations are false. The videos, highly suspect because of how they were produced, contain callous, even insensitive, discussion of medical procedures and aborted fetal tissue, but there is no instance of any Planned Parenthood official discussing the sale of fetal tissue for profit. The images described by Ms. Fiorina, as has been pointed out by media fact checkers, don’t exist.

What is true is that two out of 59 Planned Parenthood affiliates (down from seven) are involved in legal fetal tissue research, offering a connection between scientists and women who want to donate tissue. The only money these affiliates receive is reimbursement for their costs. No federal money, with few exceptions, is used for abortions in any of the affiliates; most of the federal funding to Planned Parenthood helps women, many of them low-income, receive vital services such as family planning and cancer and sexually transmitted disease screenings. Also true is that most Americans don’t want Planned Parenthood defunded and most certainly don’t want the government closed over the issue.

It’s unclear who won Wednesday’s debate, but the clear losers of this segment of conversation were reason and facts.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Total Recall

This week's movie rental was Total Recall ...

a 2012 American science fiction action film directed by Len Wiseman. The screenplay by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback was based on the 1990 film of the same name, which was inspired by the 1966 short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick. The film stars Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, and Bill Nighy. It centers upon an ordinary factory worker who accidentally discovers that his current life is a fabrication predicated upon false memories implanted into his brain by the government. Ensuing events leave no room for doubt that his true identity is that of a highly trained secret agent.

I remember the first version of the movie with Arnold. I didn't care much for the cheesy special effects, for which I blame Verhoeven (strange factoid about him ... not only did he make the horrible Showgirls, he was a member of the Jesus Seminar ;) But anyway, the FX are much nicer in this later version and Farrell does a good job in his role. The setting is interesting too ... chemical warfare has left a future Earth with only two habitable continents - the United Federation of Britain (Western Europe) and the Colony (Australia). Those living in the Colony are considered lower forms of life, low paid wage slaves who travel back and forth between the UFB and Australia via an elevator that passes straight through the Earth's core :)

Roger Ebert gave the movie 3 stars out of 4 in his review. Here's the beginning of it ...

The two biggest differences between this new "Total Recall" and the 1990 original are that no scenes are set on Mars, and it stars Colin Farrell instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mars we can do without, I suppose, although I loved the special effects creating the human outpost there. This movie has its own reason you can't go outside and breathe the air.

But Schwarzenegger, now, is another matter. He's replaced as the hero Quaid by Colin Farrell, who in point of fact is probably the better actor. But Schwarzenegger is more of a movie presence and better suited for the role of a wounded bull stumbling around in the china shop of his memories. The story involves a man who is involved without his knowledge (or recollection) in a conflict between a totalitarian regime and a resistance movement. Both films open with him happy and cluelessly married (to Sharon Stone in the first, Kate Beckinsale in this one). In both, he is discontented with his life. In both, he discovers that everything he thinks he knows about himself is fictitious, and all of his memories have been implanted.

The enormity of this discovery is better reflected by Schwarzenegger, who seems more wounded, more baffled, more betrayed — and therefore more desperate. In the Farrell performance, there's more of a sense that the character is being swept along with the events ....

Monday, September 14, 2015

Stephen Colbert: women priests

Stephen Colbert on Salt and Light recalls, towards the end of the interview, that one of the times that the eucharrist was the most real to him was when a woman presided. He says "When I heard a woman say 'this is my body' ... the freshness of hearing a woman say that gave the message a universality that it always should have" but then he goes on to mitigate this by saying that a woman isn't a priest to him. Depressing how acceptable sexism is in the Catholic church.

Squirrel and kitten

Out in the yard today ...


Heh - in the news - 'Inside Amy Schumer' Wins An Emmy For "Girl, You Don't Need Makeup" & Now That Song Is Stuck In My Head AGAIN. It's in my head too again and now I'm singing it to the cats ;) ...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Some links

- Michael Fassbender, Nobody’s Fool

- Homophobic People Often Have Psychological Issues

- The pope's non-doctrinal changes to the annulment process will make little difference ... Relatively few U.S. Catholics skipped annulment because of cost or complications from the Pew Forum ... and ... Easier annulments may not be the answer for divorced Catholics from Thomas Reese SJ

- The Staggering Scale of Germany’s Refugee Project ... but, today ... Germany Announces Emergency Border Controls Amid Migrant Crisis

- If “pro-lifers” wanted to end abortion — rather than control sex — their tactics would be radically different

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Kittens Hansel and Gretel

I've named the two kittens I keep trying to catch for the vet Hansel and Gretel. They're still pretty scared of me, unfortunately .... being chased around the yard with a big net will tend to do that, I guess ;)

Thursday, September 03, 2015


- No, Kim Davis Is Not Martin Luther King, Jr.

- The First Time Oliver Sacks Saw Heaven (1964)

- Vast majority of U.S. Catholics who left the church can’t imagine returning, study says

- The World's Cutest Animals

- An article at In All Things, What Pope Francis Said About Abortion, emphasizes the "anguish and grief " women who have had an abortion feel, but a recent study shows that Most Women Who Have Abortions Don't Regret Them

My mom's old locket

Today my sister and I looked through my mom's dresser drawers. One interesting thing we found was a locket that I think once belonged to my great aunt Ruth. At first I thought the photos inside were of me and my sister, but then I realized they must be of Ruth and her sister Bessie :)

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Armada: A Novel

The latest book I've been reading (actually listening to as I walk) is Armada: A Novel by Ernest Cline, who also wrote one of my favorite books, Ready Player One.

The book got a lot of great blurbs. Here are some from the Amazon page ....

“Nerd-gasmic…another science fiction tale with a Comic-Con's worth of pop-culture shout-outs.”
--Rolling Stone

“An amazing novel [that] proves Cline has the ability to blend popular culture with exciting stories that appeal to everyone.”
—Associated Press

“Mixes Star Wars, The Last Starfighter, Independence Day and a really gnarly round of Space Invaders into a tasty sci-fi stew.”
—USA Today

“A great romp…Cline (ever the fanboy) is both reverent of and referential to the books and movies and games of his childhood.”
—Mother Jones

"Hugely entertaining…a paean to the videogames of a bygone era, and like Ready Player One it is a tremendous amount of fun for anyone who remembers that time and played those games."
–George R.R. Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Game of Thrones

"A novel so fun, you'll want to reboot it and read it again…the best novel this gamer geek has read in a long, long time."
—Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool

"Those conspiracies you imagined when you were fourteen turn out to be true in this masterful tale of Earth's desperate struggle against a powerful alien foe."
—Andy Weir, New York Times bestselling author of The Martian

“With another winning teen protagonist in Zach, Cline mines the nostalgia and geek spheres just as successfully as he did in his acclaimed debut, Ready Player One. The works that obviously influenced the story line, such as Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and the films The Last Starfighter and Star Wars, feel like homages rather than borrowings- a rap artist sampling the best beats our there to create an irresistible jam.”—Library Journal, starred review

“Cline once again brings crackling humor and fanboy knowledge to a zesty, crowd-pleasing, countdown-clock, save-the-planet tale featuring an unlikely hero, adrenaline-pumping action, gawky romance, and touching family moments.…Cline’s sly, mind-twisting premise and energetically depicted and electrifying high-tech battles make for smart, frenetic, and satisfying entertainment.”
—Booklist, starred review

But the reader's reviews at the Amazon page are mixed. Here's a posittive review at The Huffington Post - Ernest Cline's 'Armada' Soars to the Stars of Sci-Fi - and a not so flattering review in Forbes - Ernest Cline's 'Armada' Drowns in Video Game And Sci-Fi Nostalgia

I'm just at the beginning but I'm finding it entertaining, though maybe not so much so as Ready Player One. Yet. :)