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Friday, March 31, 2017

I Know You're Out There Somewhere

Another Moody Blues song, I Know You're Out There Somewhere ...

I Know You're Out There Somewhere" is a 1988 single by the progressive rock band The Moody Blues. It was written by guitarist Justin Hayward, and it is the sequel to the Moody Blues' 1986 single "Your Wildest Dreams", also written by Hayward .... The song's lyrics continue from the lyrics of "Your Wildest Dreams". The lyrics from "Your Wildest Dreams" tell the story of a man who is remembering his first love, and wonders if she remembers him the way he remembers her. In "I Know You're Out There Somewhere", the man realizes he still loves her, and vows to "return again" to her.

I should add that in an interview Justin said this about the song, which was kind of ironic ...

Songfacts: The song "I Know you're Out There Somewhere," is that about somebody in particular?

Justin: Yes. It was about somebody in particular. And I found with "Wildest Dreams" that it was a common experience for a lot of people. I never thought this; I thought I was writing a frivolous sort of song. Certainly with "Wildest Dreams." Not with "I Know You're Out There Somewhere," because I knew by then. But I thought "Wildest Dreams" would be a throwaway thing that people wouldn't really take much notice of lyrically. But I found out that it was a common experience and desire by a lot of people. So that was very revealing.

And with "I Know You're Out There Somewhere," yes, they both were about at least one particular person. I wouldn't say it was all about one person, but at least one particular person. And my advice to anybody who wants to go back is that you can never go home. And best to leave the past as the past.

Here's the music video for the song - it's pretty fun :) ...

Mike Pence and women

In the news: Mike Pence’s Marriage and the Beliefs That Keep Women from Power ...

Seventy days into the Trump Presidency, many of us find ourselves discussing the propriety of a married man eating a meal in the company of a woman who is not his wife. Vice-President Mike Pence—a hard-line evangelical who has repeatedly called himself “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order”—refuses to dine extramaritally ....

As soon as the piece was published, ostentatious and divided reactions immediately flooded Twitter. Matt Walsh, a conservative Christian blogger, asked, “Seriously what’s the appropriate reason for a married person to go out for a meal alone with a member of the other sex (outside of family)?” Erick Erickson, also a conservative Christian blogger, replied, with apparent seriousness, “planning your spouse’s surprise party or funeral and that is it.” The jokes came quickly: “honey it’s not what you think- we were planning your surprise funeral,” one person wrote. Others were earnestly horrified. How could you rule out meals with a person of the opposite gender over the course of an entire career? That Pence was able to do so speaks to an incredible level of inequity in the workplace; no successful woman could ever abide by the same rule. How could you sex-segregate a thrice-daily activity and still engage in civic life? (One married man told Walsh that he used to plan church-choir practices with his married female colleague over dinners out at the local Chinese buffet.) And how, without occasionally going out for a sandwich, could a married man ever make or keep female friends? .....

More: How Pence's Dudely Dinners Hurt Women

I guess Pence either doesn't trust himself alone with a woman, or he thinks that women cannot be trusted if they are alone with him. This is a a common conservative view that sees all interaction between men and women as reducible to one question: "Do I want to boink that?". And in this particular case, it very well describes the antithesis of feminism .... women aren't people, they are what people (you know, men) use for sex, so every encounter of men with women revolve around women's 'usefulness'. Creepy.

The other side of this is also well illustrated by Pence - men who see women this way don't like women and they don't trust women. Pence has done more than his share politically to make life hard for women ...

- Pence in 1997: Working mothers stunt emotional growth of children

- Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a law this year that mandated funerals for fetuses

- Equal Pay Opponent Pence’s Indiana Has 10th Largest Gender Pay Gap Nationally

- Mike Pence Opposed Paid Leave Proposals While In Congress

- And of course ... Pence's war on Planned Parenthood

I saw a study once that showed that it was political/social conservatives who are the most obsessed with sex. I think the present leaders of our country .... the misogynistic Republican Congress, the repressed VP, and the pussy-grabbing President ... are good examples of that finding.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Defend, don't defund, Planned Parenthood

Remember the 2015 controversy over misleading under-cover videos by an anti-abortion group purporting to prove Planned Parenthood was selling baby parts? I wrote about it here: Liar, liar, pants on fire

In the news today - Antiabortion activists face 15 felony charges over undercover videos that targeted Planned Parenthood

I won't be surprised if some Republican and conservative Catholic sites have stories about these "heroes" of the pro-life movement, but they are anything but heroes. Learn more about them here ...  Who’s Behind the Planned Parenthood Sting Video? Troy Newman—and Other Rabid Anti-Choicers. What you don't read about as often is that there are many Catholics who are *for* Planned Parenthood ....

More: Editorial Note to Republicans: Drop the crusade against Planned Parenthood ... and ... States with more Planned Parenthood clinics have fewer teen births and sexually transmitted diseases ... and ... What It Means to Defund Planned Parenthood

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Make America Polluted Again

Trump has signed an executive order that will dismantle the Clean Power Plan. Don't let him !!!! Please contact your elected representatives to tell them to stand up to him on this. And if you can, please donate to the environmental organizations that will go to court to stop him (Environmentalists Vow To Fight Donald Trump’s ‘Dangerous,’ ‘Embarrassing’ Climate Rollback).

More: Trump begins tearing up Obama's years of progress on tackling climate change ... and ... Trump's climate policies put China in charge of our future

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Blue World

The latest Moody Blues song I've been listening to is the 1983 Blue World ...

The budget

Now that Trump has failed at health care, his next project is the budget. I hope he fails at that too because what he has proposed is effing awful, from spending more on the military to cutting programs that help needy children and the elderly. The guy in charge of the project, Mick Mulvaney, is one cold-hearted bastard ...

Here John Oliver discusses all the ins and outs of this budget from hell ...

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Bill Maher comments on the death of the Republicans' health care bill ...

Friday, March 24, 2017

Republican health care bill pulled

Thank you, God! The bill was horrible for all the most vulnerable people ... the poor, women, children, the elderly ... it would have deprived millions of people of health coverage while benefiting the rich. Here Trump tries to put the blame for the bill's demise on the Democrats ...

But the truth is that even with a Republican majority, they could not get enough Republicans to vote for the bill. While some Republicans wouldn't vote for the bill because they didn't want to see their constituents who were on Medicaid loss their insurance, many of the Republican hold-outs were guys in the creepily conservative "Freedom Caucus" who thought the bill was too nice to poor people!!!.

More: The Trumpcare Con Implodes

Restoring faith in human nature

With so much badness happening, from terror attacks to Republican schemes, it's helpful to remember that there are still good people with kind hearts out there .....

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Democrats in Congress: vote against Gorsuch!

I've been watching the confirmation hearing for Neil Gorsuch. I've seen much in the press about how the Dems should fall in line and vote for him. I say they should not, that instead they should fight tooth and nail to keep him from being named a Supreme Court Justice. Why? Well, for so many reasons ....

- Because the Senate refused to consider President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland.

- Because the Trump administration is under investigation for colluding with the Russians to disropt our elections.

- Because Gorsuch seems to be for torture .... Where Does Gorsuch Stand on Torture? It’s Hard to Say ... and ... Neil Gorsuch was instrumental in defending George W. Bush’s torture program

- Because of Gorsuch's opinions in the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases ... What we really know about US Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch based on his controversial Hobby Lobby decision ... and ... Gorsuch's Selective View of 'Religious Freedom' ... and ... What Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s SCOTUS Pick, Means for American Women

- Because he is no friend to LGBT rights ... Neil Gorsuch’s Disturbing Record on LGBTQ Rights

- Because of his view of Planned Parenthood ... Neil Gorsuch’s crusade against Planned Parenthood ... and ... Neil Gorsuch’s Nomination Is Bad News For Planned Parenthood

- Because he's against physician assisted suicide ... High court pick Gorsuch is harsh critic of assisted suicide

- And then there's the question of what he might do about Roe v. Wade .... Gorsuch: Roe v. Wade Is the 'Law of the Land'

Monday, March 20, 2017

Links and stuff

So much going on lately to comment on ...

- There was the testimony of FBI director James Comey before the House Intelligence Committee about the Russia/Trump connection ... What Investigation? G.O.P. Responds to F.B.I. Inquiry by Changing Subject. I watched a bit of it and what also came up was the subject of Trump's allegations that President Obama had his phones tapped. Comey put that idea to rest .....

- Also in the news, Pope apologizes for Catholics' participation in Rwanda genocide. This has been some time coming ... see my 2010 post The Church and Rwanda.

- And there's this article about Trump's pick for the Supreme Court ... Why Gorsuch’s Alleged Sexist Classroom Comments Are So Troubling—and Revealing.

- And a recent article by Fr. Thomas Reese SJ: Now is the time for married priests ... At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me,” not “have a celibate priesthood.” The need for the Eucharist trumps having a celibate priesthood.

- And finally, my latest listening from the Moody Blues. Or actually, from two of the members of the band, Justin Hayward and John Lodge, as the Blue Jays: Blue Guitar (1975) ...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Out in the yard

A strange day today - warm but cloudy. I can hear the ice cream man going by in his music-playing truck ... it plays Scott Joplin's The Entertainer :) I walked around with the cats and the camera. Here is Olive giving Socks in the distance the gimlet eye ...

Here is a plant pot with some violets and oak balls ...

And here is Thor trying to nap on a dead tree stump. He looks like a wooly chameleon to me :) ...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The War of the Worlds & Forever Autumn

Who knew there was once a musical made of HG Wells' book, The War of the Worlds? I read the book when I was a kid, but I mostly remember the story from the Tom Cruise movie version.. The musical, from composer Jeff Wayne, was apparently quite popular in the UK and I came across it while in my continuing obsession with the Moody Blues, as Justin Hayward sings one of the songs in the musical: Forever Autumn ...

Wayne wanted to include a love song on the album that sounded like "Forever Autumn", and he decided that the best course of action was to simply use the original song. Hayward, of The Moody Blues, was hand-picked by Wayne to sing it (because, Wayne said, he "wanted that voice from 'Nights in White Satin'"), and it was recorded at London's Advision Studios in 1976. The song reached #5 on the UK Singles Chart in August 1978.

Here's Justin doing the song, from BBC Four ....

The summer sun is fading as the year grows old,
And darker days are drawing near,
The winter winds will be much colder,
Now you're not here.

I watch the birds fly south across the autumn sky
And one by one they disappear
I wish that I was flying with them,
Now you're not here

Like the sun through the trees you came to love me
Like a leaf on a breeze you blew away

Through autumn's golden gown we used to kick our way
You always loved this time of year
Those fallen leaves lie undisturbed now
'Cause you're not here
'Cause you're not here
'Cause you're not here

Like the sun through the trees you came to love me
Like a leaf on a breeze you blew away

A gentle rain falls softly on my weary eyes
As if to hide a lonely tear
My life will be forever autumn
'Cause you're not here
Cause you're not here
'Cause you're not here

Friday, March 17, 2017

James Bond wiretapped Trump?

I was watching yesterday's White House Press Briefing and my eyes bugged out when Sean Spicer explained to reporters that the reason why there's no evidence of our intelligence agencies having wiretapped Trump Tower is because Obama used British Intelligence instead so there would be no "American fingerprints" on the job.

Wow - who knew James Bond tapped Trump!! Well, nobody ;) ...

Having said that, apparently both Trump and Spicer have denied any need to apologize to the British ...

Trump declined to offer an apology for the claims, which the British government derided as "ridiculous." And Spicer denied to reporters after the news conference that the White House had said sorry to the British. "We just reiterated the fact that we were just simply reading media accounts. That's it," he said. "I don't think we regret anything. We literally listed a litany of media reports that are in the public domain."

More: GCHQ dismisses 'utterly ridiculous' claim it helped wiretap Trump

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tuesday Afternoon

Still more Moody Blues :) Here's a1969 version of Tuesday Afternoon, live at the Jazz Festival in the Belgian city of Bilzen ...

Tuesday afternoon,
I'm just beginning to see, now I'm on my way
It doesn't matter to me, chasing the clouds away.

Something, calls to me,
The trees are drawing me near, I've got to find out why.
Those gentle voices I hear, explain it all with a sigh.

I'm looking at myself reflections of my mind,
It's just the kind of day to leave myself behind.
So gently swaying through the fairyland of love,
If you'll just come with me you'll see the beauty of

Tuesday afternoon, Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday, afternoon,
I'm just beginning to see, now I'm on my way.
It doesn't matter to me, chasing the clouds away.
Something, calls to me,
The trees are drawing me near, I've got to find out why.
Those gentle voices I hear, explain it all with a sigh.

Finding Jesus

I guess most Catholics are not very into historical Jesus stuff? I don't understand why that's so.

Last year at this time CNN had a special series, Finding Jesus. I paid attention for a number of reasons, including that some interesting people were involved ... Mark Goodacre, David Gibson, Candida Moss, Ben Witherington, James Martin SJ, and Michael Peppard. I wrote a few posts about it back then and I mostly liked it, although I found the stuff about the Shroud of Turin pretty disappointing in that it seemed to give some hope in the authenticity of the shroud despite all evidence to the contrary (even David Gibson, who I think of as conservative, described the shroud as a 13th century forgery).

But anyway, the series is back ... Finding Jesus ... and it looks like it's dealing with some interesting stuff again. Duke NT professor Mark Goodacre has an article on the show. Here's a bit of it ...

The Historical Jesus: Separating Fact from Fiction

[...] Goodacre, a professor of New Testament and Christian origins in Duke’s religious studies department, helped plan the series and served as the production’s lead fact-checker. He also appears in each episode along with other scholars of early Christianity. “The big worry about any documentary in our area is, ‘Will it be sensationalist? Will it represent my field badly?’” Goodacre said. “The nice thing about this series is that it is robust academically, as well as being good TV.”

The series blends reenactment with scholarly commentary. Each episode homes in on a key character or location that figured in Jesus’ life, examining what contemporary scientific evidence, history and archaeology reveal about the world of the historical Jesus. For instance, an episode about Pontius Pilate considers physical evidence about the man who ordered Jesus’ crucifixion. In this case, the archaeological record contains rich sources, including coins minted by Pilate, Goodacre said ...

Here's a trailer for the series ...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What I've been doing

I haven't posted much lately for a number of reasons. I've been feeling kind of blah physically, and also it's really spring/summer here and that means more time away from the computer doing yard work. Here's Thor enjoying the 70s weather ...

And when I do get to the computer, I've been obsessing over the Moody Blues. Looky here at another of their songs :) ...

But that doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention to the Catholic news ...

Remember my post about the last of two sex abuse survivors leaving the pope's sex abuse commission? Well, apparently the head of the CDF, Cardinal Müller (see my post Cardinal Müller, Klaus Mertes SJ, and Spotlight ), has disputed her view of events and now she has replied to that: Exclusive: Marie Collins responds to Cardinal Muller's allegations about abuse commission

And I thought this was great - John Oliver visiting the Dalai Lama. He and the Dalai Lama speak in part about the Chinese effort to co-opt Buddhism, and it's interesting that China has been trying to do the same thing with Catholicism in China. But anyway ... ....

I just need to perk up a bit and get back to posting more.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Never Comes the Day

Today I saw a promo video from 1969 for the Moody Blues' song Never Comes the Day that I had never sen before. I think it's from the BBC Sessions series ...

Friday, March 10, 2017

No, the Pope won't allow married priests

In the news: Here’s What Pope Francis Actually Said About Ordaining Married Men

Some news outlets are stating that the Pope is considering allowing married men to be priests. Unfortunately, I think this is untrue. The Pope didn't bring the subject up. He was asked by an interviewer from Die Zeit about the possibility of married men to help with the priest shortage and the Pope responded that "voluntary celibacy is not a solution". When pressed by the interviewer about ordaining "viri probati" ... men already married and of proven virtue ... the Pope prevaricated, saying "We need to consider if viri probati could be a possibility. If so, we would need to determine what duties they could undertake, for example, in remote communities". This sounds like he envisions married men as having different duties than actual priests.

This is not unlike the news last year about the possibility of women in the church becoming deacons. The issue wasn't brought up by the Pope but by some Women Religious who asked him why women could not be deacons, given that there had been women deacons in the early church. He said that a commission could be created to study the role women deacons had in the past. People were excited, believing that the Pope had decided to let women be deacons. Nope. And nothing has and nothing will come of that commission's work (see It's time to be honest about Pope Francis and women for more on this).

Pope Francis is not a progressive reformer trying to liberalize the church against the wishes of a corrupt curia (ok, yes, the curia is corrupt, but that's another discussion). Francis is a social/moral conservative. He believes that marriage for LGBT people is against God's plan, he has been dragging his feet on fixing sex abuse, he has said that women can never be priests in the Catholic church.

And given this, I am sure that, despite the fact that the original disciples, including Peter, were married, despite the fact that in the early church priests and even popes were married, Francis won't allow celibacy to be voluntary. Why not? So many reasons, but I think the two main reasons are ... the church doesn't want to pay priests with families a living wage .... and ... it is easier for the church to control a person's life when that person has no other loyalties except those owed to the institution.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Muslim Ban 2.0

In the news today: Washington State Wants Judge's Restraining Order Applied To Trump's New Travel Ban

[...] In an announcement Thursday, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson contended that Judge James Robart's Feb. 3 ruling — which suspended Trump's first ban nationwide until a challenge brought by Washington and Minnesota could be heard in court — ought to cover the second ban, despite revisions that narrowed who would be affected.

Here's a press conference from a few days ago with Washington AG Bob Ferguson discussing the new executive order ...

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

More Moody Blues

A health care plan I can get behind

Justin Trudeau Announced a $650 Million Plan for Sexual and Reproductive Health on Women's Day

O Canada! :)

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

International Women's Day & Beauty and the Beast

Here's the start of an article in The New Yorker: The Women’s Strike and the Messy Space of Change ...

Tomorrow is the Women’s Strike, the fourth of ten actions that have been called for by the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington. The strike was planned to coincide with International Women’s Day, and the march organizers, in tandem with a team organizing protests in forty countries around the world, have asked women to take whatever form of action their lives allow for. Take the day off from “paid and unpaid labor,” including housework and child care, if you can, or avoid shopping at corporate or male-owned businesses, or simply wear red in solidarity. There will be rallies in at least fifty cities around the United States ...

Standing up for women's rights seems especially necessary in this time of Republican ascendancy and Trump. As we speak, they are planning again to defund Planned Parenthood: The GOP Obamacare replacement defunds Planned Parenthood and restricts abortion coverage

I hesitate to go here, but since we're talking about feminism, I noticed the stuff in the news about Emma Watson of the new Beauty and the Beast movie involved in an argument over whether her under-boob pic in Vanity Fair still allows her to be a believable feminist. My short answer to that is 'no', but I think the real anti-feminist thingy here is the Beauty and the Beast storyline ...

Laugh if you want, but just try to imagine a story in which a wonderful and attractive young man is expected to happily devote his life to reforming and loving a beast of a woman (think Sunset Boulevard). And that's the thing about feminism ... no Emma Watson, it isn't about women doing whatever they want, it's about letting men and women be equally people.

The future of the dotCommonweal commenters

As I wrote the other day, Commonweal has closed its dotCommonweal blog to comments and many of those who did comment are wondering if some new venue for a continuation of their discussions might be found. I don't know if anything will come of that, but it made me think of my own online interactive history.

When I first started using the internet, about the late 90s, I was trying to write a novel. I had never written one before and I didn't really know what I was doing but being online helped a lot. One of those helps was a writer's BBS. It was a large online community composed of a few writers who had published books, many more who had published articles, and those who wanted to learn. There were forums for every topic and genre and also what were called challenges. A challenge was a contest one could enter in which a genre, topic, and word length was chosen and everyone wrote a short story to compete for winning. We had to read each story and critique it too. I still have some of the short stories I wrote for the challenges in a blog here.

I was there for a few years and one of my fellow writers, a Quaker, asked me to join his bible blog in 2004. I had never blogged before but I gave it a try. We would all read the passage chosen and write a post about it. Then we'd usually comment on the other people's posts. It was pretty fun and I learned much more about the New Testament that way. Some of those old posts still exist. You can read one of mine here - Crystal on the temple cleansing

Many of us eventually dispersed to create out own blogs and that's what I did, starting this one in order to concentrate more on Catholic stuff. This was kind of the heyday of blogging and before long I fell in with a group of other Catholic bloggers. It was a lot of fun to post on various topics and visit other people's blogs to discuss it all. I learned a million times more about Christianity in general and the Catholic church in particular by investigating issues to post about. And I got exposed to many different points of view via the other bloggers. A blog that was very helpful academically ... the NT Blog hosted by Duke NT professor Mark Goodacre.

Sadly, blogging waned as FaceBook and Twitter appeared and now I only have a few blogging buddies left. I guess that's when I began spending more time at religious sites where one could comment .... America magazine, National Catholic Reporter, The Tablet, and dotCommonweal. I didn't really fit in anywhere but I sort of settled down at dotCommonweal and endured despite the many times my comments got deleted ;)

Don't know what's coming up in the future for me or for the other commenters at dorCommonweal, but I will stick to blogging here if only for my mental health ... they say it's good for you to journal, even if no one else ever reads what you've written. What I post about has changed somewhat and I don't ever get many comments these days, but thanks to SiteMeter, at least I know people are visiting :) ...

Thinking of the Moody Blues

- Justin Hayward

I've seen them twice in concert, once when I was in high school and once when I was married :) A couple of songs ...

Here's one you don't hear as often as some of the others ...

The Story in Your Eyes

I've been thinking about our fortune
And I've decided that we're really not to blame
For the love that's deep inside us now
Is still the same

And the sound we make together
Is the music to the story in your eyes
It's been shining down upon me now
I realize

Listen to the tide slowly turning
Wash all our heartaches away

We're part of the fire that is burning
And from the ashes we can build another day

But I'm frightened for your children
That the life that we are living is in vain
And the sunshine we've been waiting for
Will turn to rain

Listen to the tide slowly turning
Wash all our heartaches away
We're part of the fire that is burning
And from the ashes we can build another day

But I'm frightened for the children
That the life that we are living is in vain
And the sunshine we've been waiting for
Will turn to rain

When the final line is over
It's certain that the curtain's gonna fall
I can hide inside your sweet, sweet love
Forever more

And here's another lesser known one of theirs ...

Monday, March 06, 2017

Goodbye dotCommonweal

The dotCommonweal blog has done away with the option of commenting on posts. For years I've visited there to discuss the latest Catholic news, political news, social news. Feel sort of homeless now and I will miss the exchanges :(

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Trump's latest conspiracy theory

Each day bears new gifts of Trump insanity. The latest is his allegation that President Obama had his phone tapped during the election. He offered no proof. Obama denied it. Then FBI director James Comey called upon the Justice Dept to refute the claim. Now, this from The New York Times:

A Conspiracy Theory’s Journey From Talk Radio to Trump’s Twitter

It began at 6 p.m. Thursday as a conspiratorial rant on conservative talk radio: President Barack Obama had used the “instrumentalities of the federal government” to wiretap the Republican seeking to succeed him. This “is the big scandal,” Mark Levin, the host, told his listeners.

By Friday morning, the unsubstantiated allegation had been picked up by Breitbart News, the site once headed by President Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon. Less than 24 hours later, the president embraced the conspiracy in a series of Twitter posts accusing his predecessor of spying on him, setting in motion the latest head-spinning, did-he-really-say-that furor of Mr. Trump’s six-week-old presidency.

Previous presidents usually measured their words to avoid a media feeding frenzy, but Mr. Trump showed again over the weekend that he feeds off the frenzy. Uninhibited by the traditional protocols of his office, he makes the most incendiary assertions based on shreds of suspicion. He does so without consulting some of his most senior aides, or even agencies of his own government that might have contrary information. After setting off a public firestorm with no proof, he then calls for an investigation to find the missing evidence ....

And why? Trump is trying to distract everyone from his involvement with Russia, and his Republican toadies are there to help. Psssst - it's not working, guys.

Here's John Oliver's take on this ...

Vlad and Jeff

SNL had a bit last night in which Jeff Sessions inhabited Forest Gump's persona ...

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Republican healthcare fail

John Oliver explains the nightmare of the Republican alternative to Obamacare ....

Friday, March 03, 2017

World Wildlife Day

More yard photos

Mouse keeping me company ...

Some yellow flowers ...

The plum trees are blooming ...

And some 'rooms ...

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Sessions & the Russians

John E. McLaughlin, former Deputy Director of the CIA and former Acting Director too (now a Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University) discusses Jeff Sessions meeting with the Russians and the situation all around that ...

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The dream

I just finished watching an episode of the tv series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which really touched me. At this point in the season's story-line, many of the characters have been forcibly put into a simulated environment called the Framework which is sort of like a holodeck, their bodies restrained but their minds existing in a virtual reality, unaware it's not real, a reality in which all the things they have regretted most in their actual lives hasn't happened. A reality where they are simply happy.

I was just thinking about this earlier today ... what would my life have been like if the things that have been the most painful hadn't happened after all? Who would I be if my father hadn't abandoned us, if I hadn't been diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease just after college, if my husband hadn't divorced me? A different person? A happy person? Is there something wrong with wanting that?

In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode, a couple of the characters have evaded being put into the simulated environment and they are trying to extract the others, save them and restore them to their real lives. And one of the characters who has been in the virtual reality but is now out decides she would rather die than go back to a life devoid of the pain that made her who she really was.

Remember The Matrix? There's a part where Agent Smith tells Morpheus that the machines tried simulating a perfectly happy virtual life for their captive human population, but that no one would accept that ...

Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your "perfect world". But I believe that, as a species human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. So the perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from.

And remember Star Trek V: The Final Frontier in which the characters have the chance to have the pain they carry taken away, but Captain Kirk tells the others he needs his pain ...

Damn it Bones, you're a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can't be taken away with the wave of a magic wand. They're the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away! I need my pain!

But I guess I don't really buy this trope. Maybe this is just a story we tell ourselves ... that suffering builds character, that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger ... because we're powerless to change things, because we need a narrative that allows us to go on living in this world where there's so much suffering.

At the end of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode, we see those characters who are in the simulated environment .... Daisy in a life where the man she loves is still alive, Phil in a career as a teacher helping kids instead of as an agent getting people killed, Mac in a life where his baby daughter didn't die after all ....

Why can't real life be like that? It should be.

PS ... the music that so well fits with the final scene of the episode is from On the Threshold of a Dream by the Moody Blues.

Pope's sex abuse commission continues to crash and burn

On this Ash Wednesday, some news about Pope Francis' sex abuse commission: Abuse survivor quits pope's commission citing 'shameful' resistance ...

A leading member of a group advising Pope Francis on how to root out sex abuse in the Catholic Church quit in frustration on Wednesday, citing "shameful" resistance within the Vatican. The sudden departure of Marie Collins, an outspoken Irish woman who was the last remaining survivor of priestly abuse on a Holy See commission, was a major setback for the pope, who has faced criticism of not doing enough to tackle the problem ...

As I wrote here in 2014, the Pope is really failing on the issue of sex abuse. His abuse commission has been powerless - all the commission can do is make recommendations and the Pope has ignored those recommendations. A recent example ... the commission asked him not to approve Chilean bishop Juan Barros, alleged to have covered up sex abuse, but the Pope didn't listen. Riots ensued. Marie Collins was the second of the two sex abuse survivors on the commission to leave it - the other, Peter Saunders, was forced out of the commission for speaking up about its failure.

Read Marie Collins statement on why she left the commission: Exclusive: Survivor explains decision to leave Vatican's abuse commission