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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Yay :)

Finally I've managed to catch Fluffy, the last female unfixed cat here, to take to the SPCA spay and neuter clinic. I've been trying to catch her for almost 2 years but she's really smart and wary, so she has had a number of kittens, including Yoda. Tomorrow my sister will come over on her way to work to take her to the clinic. Hope she does ok.

Update: Cardinal Pell

Disgraced Cardinal George Pell’s Lawyer Claims Abuse Was ‘Plain Vanilla Sexual Penetration’

Cardinal Pell was taken into custody today after his lawyer argued that what he did was just a "plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating" and that Pell was "seized by some irresistible impulse". Meanwhile, conservative Catholics assert that Pell is innocent despite the unanimous jury verdict finding him guilty, and the Vatican has launched its own inquiry into his case, saying he should fight the verdict to the end, spending our pew dollars on an appeal. And the church wonders why no one trusts it to police itself.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Getting Trump's tax returns

Watch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez make the case for getting Trump's tax returns as she questions Michael Cohen during the House oversight committee's hearing today ...

Republican hypocrites

Watching the testimony of Michael Cohen before the House Oversight committee. It's hard to watch because the Republicans on the committee are being such jerks. They feign outrage, clutch their pearls, and shriek at Cohen 'you LIED!', while at the same time kissing the ass of Trump, the most egregious liar in the history of the presidency. One Republican lawmaker even tweeted what seems like witness tampering ...

I hope the Republican party gets crushed under the weight of its own badness.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Cardinal Pell: guilty

So, Australian Cardinal Pell, who was chosen by Pope Francis, against the advice of his own sex abuse commission, for the Vatican gang of 9 and ruler of the treasury, has been found guilty of sex abuse of children by a unanimous verdict in civil court ... Cardinal Pell guilty: Vatican treasurer convicted on child sex abuse charges

Yes, he's old, and one might feel a bit sorry for him, but I'm trying not to because he has a pretty awful history with the issue of sex abuse in Australia.

If you want to learn more about Pell, his life in the church and the sex abuse problem, journalist David Marr wrote a book about him - The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell - and here below is a video of an interview with Marr about the book that is really good ...

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Fr. James Alison: In the Closet of the Vatican

The beginning of an article from Fr. James Alison on the book ...

Welcome to my world: Notes on the reception of Frédéric Martel's bombshell

So, the other shoe has finally dropped. The veil has been removed from what the French rather gloriously call a secret de Polichinelle ― an open secret: one that "everybody knows" but for which the evidence is both elusive and never really sought. The merely anecdotal is, at last, acquiring the contours of sociological visibility.

Frédéric Martel's book In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality and Hypocrisy is the first attempt of which I am aware at a properly researched answer to the question: "How and why is it that the principal institutional obstacle to LGBT rights at the worldwide level appears itself to be massively staffed by gay men?"

This is not, by any standards, a stupid question. The search for evidence involved Martel in several years of investigative journalism. He made multiple trips worldwide, spent months of residence both in Rome and within the Vatican, all under his own name. And he conducted hundreds of interviews with those involved in one way or another. From sex-workers to Cardinals, by way of journalists, doctors, police, priests, diplomats and lawyers. The harvest of evidence yields a picture: that of the systemic way dishonestly-lived homosexuality creates a self-reinforcing culture of mutual cover-up. In other words: the structure of the clerical closet .....

Friday, February 22, 2019

Andrew Sullivan: In the Closet of the Vatican

From Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine ...

The Corruption of the Vatican’s Gay Elite Has Been Exposed

I spent much of this week reading and trying to absorb the new and devastating book by one Frédéric Martel on the gayness of the hierarchy at the top of the Catholic Church, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy. It’s a bewildering and vast piece of reporting — Martel interviewed no fewer than “41 cardinals, 52 bishops and monsignori, 45 apostolic nuncios, secretaries of nunciatures or foreign ambassadors, 11 Swiss Guards and over 200 Catholic priests and seminarians.” He conducted more than 1,500 interviews over four years, is quite clear about his sources, and helps the reader weigh their credibility. He keeps the identity of many of the most egregiously hypocritical cardinals confidential, but is unsparing about the dead.

The picture Martel draws is jaw-dropping. Many of the Vatican gays — especially the most homophobic — treat their vows of celibacy with an insouciant contempt. Martel argues that many of these cardinals and officials have lively sex lives, operate within a “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture, constantly hit on young men, hire prostitutes, throw chem-sex parties, and even pay for sex with church money. How do we know this? Because, astonishingly, they tell us .....

The corruption in the church is not caused by the fact that there are a lot of gay priests. The corruption is caused by all the lies, dishonesty, hypocrisy, that exist because of: 1) the church's messed up teachings on LGBT people, and 2) the great number of sexually active gay men (and straight men) in the priesthood and the effort to keep this fact from the 'sheep' and the outside world. The remedy is honesty and a reality check. Here's how Andrew puts it ...

The crisis is so profound, the corruption so deep, the duplicity so brazen that only a radical change will help. Ending mandatory celibacy is no longer an option. It’s a necessity. Women need to be brought in to the full sacramental life of the church. Gay men need to be embraced not as some manifestation of “intrinsic moral evil” but as human beings made in the image of God and capable of mutual love, care, and support ....

Andrew thinks Pope Francis is working to make this happen, but I'm not as optimistic as he is. Pope Francis will not make celibacy optional and allow married priests. And the pope is a sexist who will never allow women to be priests or even deacons. And he has been a big disappointment in fixing the sex abuse problem. I think the church will not really change for the better under Pope Francis, and that's with him being admittedly better than the little tin gods who preceded him.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Vatican abuse summit

The pope is having a meeting at the Vatican about sex abuse. I don't have high hopes for it. He's come up with 21 points he thinks will help focus the guys ...

From Whispers in the Loggia, the full list ...

1. To prepare a practical handbook indicating the steps to be taken by authorities at key moments when a case emerges.

2. To equip oneself with listening structures that include trained and expert people who can initially discern the cases of the alleged victims.

3. Establish the criteria for the direct involvement of the Bishop or of the Religious Superior.

4. Implement shared procedures for the examination of the charges, the protection of the victims and the right of defence of the accused.

5. Inform the civil authorities and the higher ecclesiastical authorities in compliance with civil and canonical norms.

6. Make a periodic review of protocols and norms to safeguard a protected environment for minors in all pastoral structures: protocols and norms based on the integrated principles of justice and charity so that the action of the Church in this matter is in conformity with her mission.

7. Establish specific protocols for handling accusations against Bishops.

8. Accompany, protect and treat victims, offering them all the necessary support for a complete recovery.

9. Increase awareness of the causes and consequences of sexual abuse through ongoing formation initiatives of Bishops, Religious Superiors, clerics and pastoral workers.

10. Prepare pathways of pastoral care for communities injured by abuses and penitential and recovery routes for the perpetrators.

11. To consolidate the collaboration with all people of good will and with the operators of mass media in order to recognize and discern real cases from false ones and accusations of slander, avoiding rancour and insinuations, rumours and defamation (cf. Pope Francis’ address to the Roman Curia, 21 December 2018).

12. To raise the minimum age for marriage to sixteen years.

13. Establish provisions that regulate and facilitate the participation of lay experts in investigations and in the different degrees of judgment of canonical processes concerning sexual and / or power abuse.

14. The right to defence: the principle of natural and canon law of presumption of innocence must also be safeguarded until the guilt of the accused is proven. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent the lists of the accused being published, even by the dioceses, before the preliminary investigation and the definitive condemnation.

15. Observe the traditional principle of proportionality of punishment with respect to the crime committed. To decide that priests and bishops guilty of sexual abuse of minors leave the public ministry.

16. Introduce rules concerning seminarians and candidates for the priesthood or religious life. Be sure that there are programs of initial and ongoing formation to help them develop their human, spiritual and psychosexual maturity, as well as their interpersonal relationships and their behaviour.

17. Be sure to have psychological evaluations by qualified and accredited experts for candidates for the priesthood and consecrated life.

18. Establish norms governing the transfer of a seminarian or religious aspirant from one seminary to another; as well as a priest or religious from one diocese or congregation to another.

19. Formulate mandatory codes of conduct for all clerics, religious, service personnel and volunteers to outline appropriate boundaries in personal relationships. Be specific about the necessary requirements for staff and volunteers and check their criminal record.

20. Explain all information and data on the dangers of abuse and its effects, how to recognize signs of abuse and how to report suspected sexual abuse. All this must take place in collaboration with parents, teachers, professionals and civil authorities.

21. Where it has not yet been in place, establish a group easily accessible for victims who want to report any crimes. Such an organization should have a certain autonomy with respect to the local ecclesiastical authority and include expert persons (clerics and laity) who know how to express the Church's attention to those who have been offended by improper attitudes on the part of clerics.

Well, that should help obfuscate the issue.

Activists criticise pope's proposals to tackle sexual abuse

[...] Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the Vatican’s top sexual abuse investigator, said during a press briefing on Thursday that the 21 points were a “roadmap for our discussion” on clerical sexual abuse and future development of law. “It’s an understatement to say that they have to be taken seriously,” he said ...

So, just topics for discussion. Not rules or laws.

I have a suggestion that would really speed things up - 3 points instead of 21 and make them laws, not just discussion topics ...

1) Report all instances of sex abuse to civil authorities so they can be investigated.

2) Make this reporting mandatory throughout the whole global church.

3) Fire all who have been found to be abusers, and fire all who cover that abuse up. Fire them. Kick them loose from the church. Don't forgive them, don't send them off to a monastery to pray, don't just aicize them. Fire them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

More from Andy McCabe

Former acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, is interviewed by Nicole Wallace about his new book and about the events of those few days between when FBI director James Comey was fired and when Robert Mueller was named as an independent counsel ...

Monday, February 18, 2019

More on my short stories

My sister and I have tried everything we could think of to get those last few stories off the old messed-up computer but nothing has worked.. I've finally decided to take photos of the stories and then transcribe them into Word on the newer computer. It took eleven photos to get all of one story, The Day of the Dead. It's about a Jesuit priest from Ireland who loses his brother and who later finds him in the submerged cemeteries under the Jesuit University of San Francisco (people can't actually be buried in SF anymore and the old cemeteries were emptied and built over years ago). Here's the first photo of eleven ...

I figure it should only take me like a million years to finish transcribing all the rest of the stories ;)

60 Minutes: Andrew McCabe

Just watched 60 Minutes' interview with former acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe. You can watch it for free at the 60 Minutes site here. Here's a bit about the interview ...

I first became aware of McCabe right after James Comey was fired, when he refuted before Congress the lies Trump was spreading about Comey ...

I think McCabe was treated very badly by Trump with attacks on his wife and with the petty firing after 21 years of service just hours before his pension would vest. Hopefully McCabe's decision to initiate the special counsel investigation will result in an end to the Trump presidency!

Anyway, I've signed up for his book at the library ... The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump

Sunday, February 17, 2019


In The New York Times: ‘It Is Not a Closet. It Is a Cage.’ Gay Catholic Priests Speak Out

[...] The closet of the Roman Catholic Church hinges on an impossible contradiction. For years, church leaders have driven gay congregants away in shame and insisted that “homosexual tendencies” are “disordered.” And yet, thousands of the church’s priests are gay.

The stories of gay priests are unspoken, veiled from the outside world, known only to one another, if they are known at all.

Fewer than about 10 priests in the United States have dared to come out publicly. But gay men likely make up at least 30 to 40 percent of the American Catholic clergy, according to dozens of estimates from gay priests themselves and researchers. Some priests say the number is closer to 75 percent. One priest in Wisconsin said he assumed every priest is gay unless he knows for a fact he is not. A priest in Florida put it this way: “A third are gay, a third are straight, and a third don’t know what the hell they are.”

Two dozen gay priests and seminarians from 13 states shared intimate details of their lives in the Catholic closet with The New York Times over the past two months ....

The subject is in the news, with an upcoming Vatican event on clergy sex abuse of minors, with McCarrick's defrocking, with the revelation of priests sexually abusing nuns, and a new book coming out about the Vatican = Explosive new book lifts lid on gay priests in the Vatican .

It's hard to see how anyone can take seriously teachings of the Catholic church on social issues like LGBT rights or women's reproductive choices, given the church's own screwed-up-ness.

Friday, February 15, 2019


It's been really raining a lot here lately. Supposed to start again later tonight so I must go out now and fix the garage for the outdoor cats. I hate the rain now - worries about the leaky house/garage roofs and about the cats just makes it icky. Here's a song for the weather ...


More lies from Trump ....

Not to mention insanity. Bits of his unhinged speech today, with commentary ....

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Pete Buttigieg

It seems like every day I'm learning about another person who's running for president in 2020 from the Democratic party. Each one I've posted about here sounds great to me and the latest one, Pete Buttigieg, present mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is no exception. He's probably most well known for being the first openly gay person to run for president, and he's also a Rhodes Scholar and a Navy veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

He was on Morning Joe today and I thought everything he said was really good. I would definitely vote for him :) ...

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Cory Booker

So Many good people are planning to run for president in 2020 from the Democratic party. One of them that I haven't really known much about is New Jersey senator Cory Booker. He was interviewed by Rachel Maddow tonight, who has known him personally since college (Stanford and Oxford). He is now my favorite of all the candidates running so far ... he's a vegan and has introduced legislation to end experimentation on animals :) Here's one of the segments of the interview ...

Monday, February 11, 2019

Sports socialism

I'm not a fan of team sports, but I do like democratic socialism and programs that help people like Social Security and Medicare. It was interesting to learn about how team sports like football are subsidized by the government (John Oliver has talked about this too). As Lawrence O'Donnell says in the video below, sports socialism is the stupidest form of socialism ...

Thursday, February 07, 2019


My latest book from the public library is All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, which won the 2017 Nebula Award for Best Novella and the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novella.

Here's the beginning of a review of the book ...

All Systems Red chronicles the life of a robot that calls itself Murderbot

“But as I said before, these weren’t intrepid galactic explorers. They were people who had been doing a job and suddenly found themselves in a terrible situation.” These lines sum up the general attitude of Martha Wells’ novella, All Systems Red. It’s a snarky adventure set in the depths of space, told through the eyes of a security robot that’s taken to calling itself Murderbot. While it’s short, this book packs a nice punch, and nicely sets up a great playground for countless other adventures.

Our protagonist got its name after killing a bunch of company employees on another planet a couple of years ago, but while it has a bit of a bloodstained history, this isn’t Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s a dour security bot that likes to watch steamy soap operas, and would rather be left alone. After its murderous rampage, it hacked its own governor module, not wanting to fall victim once again to hardware manufactured by a company that cuts corners to save a buck ...

It's pretty good so far.

AOC interview

An interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from Chuck Todd today. She has been characterized as a radical who is scaring the members of her own party ... that's simply not true. She's a very smart and passionate advocate for what the Democratic party stands for, with no apologies :)

Wednesday, February 06, 2019


Watched the state of the union address. Creepy. Full of untruths. Must listen to some music to make it go away. Here is James Taylor singing with JD Souther. I like their harmony ... they can work well together, unlike Republicans and Democrats ;)

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Facts matter has a page on the New York abortion law, the Reproductive Health Act, Addressing New York’s New Abortion Law. The pro-life movement has claimed the law makes infanticide legal. That isn't true.

[...] Justin Flagg, a spokesman for New York State Sen. Liz Krueger, who sponsored the new law, said that “the requirement that a second physician be present … did not reflect medical realities of abortion later in pregnancy nor modern standards of medical care, and was legally redundant and unnecessary.”

“Modern abortion techniques do not result in live birth; however, in the great unlikelihood that a baby was born alive, the medical provider and team of medical support staff would provide all necessary medical care, as they would in the case of any live birth,” he wrote in an email. “The RHA does not change standard medical practices. To reiterate, any baby born alive in New York State would be treated like any other live birth, and given appropriate medical care. This was the case before the RHA, and it remains the case now.”

New York defines a live birth as “the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, which, after such separation, breathes or shows any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached; each product of such a birth is considered live born.” ...

The same is true of the proposed Virginia bill. From New York Magazine - Here Are the Facts Behind an Abortion Controversy Engulfing Virginia Democrats

Sunday, February 03, 2019

My 13 short stories

I finally finished fixing some of my short stories from back in my writers bbs days, so I can self-publish them at Amazon as a kindle book. Thirteen of the ones I could access seemed sort of worthy. What's frustrating is that I can remember a bunch of others but either I can't find them at all or they're on my old messed up computer, so I can't get to them. Boo hoo :(

Today I set up the KDP account at Amazon - it took forever to fill in all the basic ID info and financial stuff. Next there's a process for doing all the book stuff, the first being to write a book description, which should be "simple, compelling, and professional" ... no pressure. How to describe 13 unrelated short stories, some of which are science fiction, some horror, and some fantasy? I guess that's speculative fiction?

Coming up, I have to figure out a cover picture too. Hopefully that part will be fun ... time to blow the dust off the old Adobe Illustrator program ....

Pick a lane!

Michael Moore was on The Last Word, speaking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Asked if she was too liberal for moderates, he said ... "If you're moderate, stop being moderate. Take a position. There's no middle ground anymore ..." I think he's right. Democrats are not going to win by running Republican-lite candidates. We have to stop apologizing. We're the good guys. We should own that. And we *can* win that way ... Americans support Ocasio-Cortez’s 70 percent tax rate on rich: poll

Friday, February 01, 2019