Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Some relevant posts on this year's Oscars:
Al Gore is a big WEASEL!!!
American Psychological Association: Early female sexualization harmful
See also, commentary on the same by the Pertinacious Papist.
From the We're-all-in-trouble section of the news:
BBC: Job stress increases risk of diabetes.
Cool stuff. (Freezing, actually)
China's Snow and Ice Festival
Thanks to my brother for this one.
And today's dose of bizarre news, with a reminder of why it is good to look out for your neighbors:
CNN: Mummy found in front of blaring TV.
Monday, February 26, 2007
I can personally recommend Birzer's Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth. It's a very straightforward work. It flows very well, reads smoothly, and puts into words many things I was already thinking, but had not yet been able to adequately explain, about Tolkien's work.
Robot plays with a Laptop
Nora Plays the Piano
Now we know why God made cute fuzzy animals. :)
Never trust magazine subscription vendors.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
If someone comes to your door selling magazine subscription, run for the hills. At least slam the door. Fast.
According to several sources, the individuals that do this cannot be trusted, nor can the companies who use them as independent contractors. These people will feed you a line to suck you in, say they are trying to get a scholarship, even claim they know your neighbors. Another typical part of their M.O. is to wheedle their way into your home once they have convinced you.
The salespeople and their employers, according to several articles in the Portland Tribune, as well as many other websites, use tactics ranging from everyday con-artist, to stuff the Godfather wouldn't even do.
According to a Better Business Bureau listing, there are many such companies based out of Las Vegas. Are you listening, Nevada? Your laws allow these sleazy companies to thrive in your state! If you check the BBB search results you will find many of these companies are no longer in business. They frequently change names and addresses to avoid complaints. They also do minimal to no background checks on their employees. The person ringing your doorbell could be a convicted murderer or rapist. Their independent contractor status shields the company they represent from legal responsibility for any damages to your person or your pocket.
Though based in Nevada, they can do business anywhere in the country. If these people come to your home, and you actually answer the door, make them go away. Warn your neighbors.
If your child works for one of these companies, do whatever you can to get them out, because mistreatment is not limited to customers.
Testimonies from kids who have escaped the talons of magazine sales companies tell horror stories of beatings, torture, sexual assault, and worse. These companies seek out young people in their late teens and early twenties who are often alone and desperate for travel, or naively seeking a dream job with minimal education required. Their words make Oliver Twist sound like a sweet bedtime story.
The following is a list of articles and websites detailing the viciousness of these companies, and one in particular that has the unmitigated temerity to call itself "Integrity Program" (aka Integrity Sales).
A Subscription for Disaster, Part I, Part II
Daughter's Death sets off father's crusade
Industry complaints aren't new
New York Times:
For Youths, Grim Tour on Magazine Crews
(You'll need an online subscription to read it)
International Herald Tribune
For Youths, Grim Tour on Magazine Crews
(Same as NYT, no subscription needed)
San Antonio Express-News
I-Team: Be cautious of Scamming Solicitors
Information, help for trapped Mag Crew kids and their families:
Traveling Sales Crews Information Website
A complaint in Springfield, IL
A small sampling of Better Business Bureau Reports:
Royal prestige Golden Lion
Universal Subscription Agency
What to expect and how to protect yourself:
Info from the US Federal Trade Commission
I sincerely hope the national media picks up on this. People need to know what's behind the teen or twenty-something who rings your doorbell. The magazine publishers need to know who is selling their products, and how. If the publishers have any character whatsoever they will discontinue their relationships with such companies. If the magazines are half as good as they are supposed to be, dishonest sales tactics should not be necessary to sell them.
Here's a 'told you so' moment, if ever there was one.
So, if you avoid artificial birth control for religious reasons, medical reasons, or if you are just a fan of natural, organic living, here's some good (albeit slightly old) news!
If you happen to be interested in methods Natural Family Planning, here is a short list of links:
- Book: Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon
- Book: The Art of Natural Family Planning (Symptothermal)
- California Association of NFP
- Couple to Couple League
- Creighton Model
- Family of the Americas Foundation (Ovulation Method)
- NFP and More
- NFP Resource Manual (PDF. from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston)
- One More Soul
- Pope Paul VI Institute
The Pertinacious Papist has some highly appropriate things to say on this matter.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Who knew cat flatulence was such a hazard?
IF you own a cat, you know the smelly truth: they break wind and it's foul. Not only that, it harms the planet.
All forms of flatulence – from cats, dogs, even from Dad – contain methane, a greenhouse gas thought to contribute to climate change.
If you've been feeling guilty about it, help is at hand. For just $8, a Sydney-based company, Easy Being Green, can now make your cat carbon-neutral, so it can "live guilt-free for a year".
Make no mistake, the cat will still smell, and its emissions will still contain methane, but Easy Being Green vows to spend the $8 you give them on products, such as energy saving light bulbs and water-saving shower heads, that reduce emissions elsewhere (if not in your own backyard).
The scheme can be applied to any product, animal or person. For $20, the company made Jenny Cracknell into a "carbon-neutral granny" last year. Her daughter, Emily, gave her a gift certificate to offset two years' worth of flatulence.
"I don't like to brag, but I actually don't have much flatulence," Mrs Cracknell said.
"But when I do, I feel okay about it, because the damage to the planet has been offset."
Read the rest of the article.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
It is this concept that allows the lives of the Saints to be so profound.
It is also the concept behind much of what happens in the works of Tolkien, especially as regards his treatment of heroism and self-sacrifice. In Lord of the Rings, Sauron's defeat is made possible by Frodo and Sam's self-giving. Tolkien believed that Evil should be given minimal attention. Characters who study it too deeply, even if their original intent is to defeat it, often are enthralled by it, and become minions of the Enemy. Evil, Tolkien suggests through this, should be given just enough attention to make its defeat possible, and the best way to defeat it, is to keep one's eyes on Good.
The fellowship survives because they respond to the presence of evil by being strong for the side of good and Truth, supporting each other even in the face of mortal danger. This does not rule out the possibility of armed battle, but it does mean they approach conflict with a different attitude: one of protecting and building what deserves to be loved, rather than utterly destroying out of anger or envy. The result of this is twofold. First, Evil is ultimately defeated. Second, because they focus their attention on protecting good, the fellowship remain unconquered by the machinations of their Enemy, and their souls (including that of Boromir, who sacrifices his life to protect others), come through the War of the Ring safely, their goodness preserved.
The Holy Father is really much more articulate on the details of how this plays out in the world as we know it. Here's a bit of what he says:
This Gospel passage is rightly considered the magna carta of Christian non-violence. It does not consist in succumbing to evil, as a false interpretation of "turning the other cheek" (cf. Lk 6: 29) claims, but in responding to evil with good (cf. Rom 12: 17-21) and thereby breaking the chain of injustice. One then understands that for Christians, non-violence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person's way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God's love and power that he is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one's enemy constitutes the nucleus of the "Christian revolution", a revolution not based on strategies of economic, political or media power: the revolution of love, a love that does not rely ultimately on human resources but is a gift of God which is obtained by trusting solely and unreservedly in his merciful goodness. Here is the newness of the Gospel which silently changes the world! Here is the heroism of the "lowly" who believe in God's love and spread it, even at the cost of their lives.
Read the rest here.
Planned Parenthood Launches Pro-abortion Cell Phone Service
Washington DC, Feb 22, 2007 (CNA).- Planned Parenthood Wireless has launched a new affinity program that allows its supporters to sign up for mobile phone service and see 10% of their monthly bill used to support the abortion business, reported LifeNews.com.
The pro-abortion group will include action alerts and information customers' monthly bills, and 30 free minutes of calls every month. Customers will receive pro-abortion text messages. New customers can keep their current cell phone number and get a free phone for signing up.
The service is handled by Working Assets, which has provided long-distance phone services for Planned Parenthood for years. According to LifeNews.com, the two companies partnered to generate phone calls to South Dakota residents last year, urging citizens to defeat a statewide abortion ban.
Like many other affinity phone service companies, Working Assets contracts with a larger phone company (in this case Sprint) to provide telephone access to its customers.
Pro-lifers also have companies that provide various communications services, including the Missouri-based Pro Life Communications and Amerivision Communications, also known as LifeLine Communications or Affinity 4.
As I have indicated before, I'm not opposed to the vaccine by itself, as something that can potentially protect innocent people (eg. rape victims and those with cheating spouses) against HPV.
I do object to a mandate that is based on the idea that teenagers are incapable of restraint when it comes to their sexuality. I object to requiring a vaccine for school attendance for a virus that cannot be transmitted through any normal, licit, and casual on-campus activity. I object to the clear gender bias here, as HPV can also infect men, and has been linked to prostate cancer (and we should protect our sons and our daughters equally!). And I strenuously object to mandating any vaccine whose long-term effects on pre-pubescent and adolescent children are not yet known.
The bottom line here: Even the medical community, which LOVES preventative medicine, is against mandating this vaccine. What is wrong with following the doctor's orders here until we have more data, and until the vaccine becomes more affordable? Let it remain optional.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Apparently the Hollywood libs don't all think alike.
Some of them are supporting Obama. Even one in particular who used to support the Clintons.
And the Clintons are not happy about it. There are words being put in people's mouths, allegiances shifting, and thinly veiled threats and ugly phone calls being made.
I especially love this little gem:
Her campaign chairman, Terry McAuliffe, recently warned donors that Clinton would remember those who did not back her.
"You are either with us or you're against us," McAuliffe told potential donors during a dinner at Saban's house.
Terry, what's she going to do? Boycott their movies? Bring back censorship? Jail them? Or does she have friends in shadowy underground places?
Remember, these people want to be the leaders of the free world.
This could get interesting. I'd grab some popcorn, sit back and laugh, if the future of my country weren't at stake here.
But at least there's some comic relief along the way.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Sunday, February 18, 2007
We never know what hazards await us when we step out of doors. The simplest, quickest little errand can lead to unimaginable hazards. Say, for example, taking out the trash after dinner.
Usually, we keep our big trash can in the garage, but on Saturday night, it happened to be outside in front by our garage. Alan took our kitchen trash out in the front. A purely innocent errand that put him in the path of the perilous and shadowy creature that would change the course of our near future.
I mean, of course a smoky, streaky black and gray ball of fluffy cuteness typically referred to as a persian cat.
Cats are usually very harmless creatures, but they have the rather disasterous effect of weakening both the heart and the spine my husband and me. Alan discovered the cat was a friendly one, and called me out to make its aquaintance. When I opened the door, the cat ran inside, which meant we had to catch it, and I ultimately picked it up. Now we were both ensnared. The cat was adorable. It would, in the friendliest cat fashion, allow us to pet it, talk to it, and even pick it up. When I held it in my arms, it would actually wiggle and maneuver itself into a comfy position, an extreme to which many cats never go, so that it could be nuzzled and cuddled as much as possible. I was hooked. Assuming the cat was on its way home somewhere, despite the fact that it was quite thin, we walked down to the end of our driveway, told it goodbye, set it down and expected it to be on its merry way.
But cats, as we all know have a will entirely their own.
This cat trotted happily back up the driveway to our front door. When we didn't follow, it trotted partway back, and looked at us as if to say, "What's the holdup? It's time to go in our house now!"
"But you don't live here."
"I do now."
"We'll give you a BATH," we warned it.
The cat ignored this and wrapped itself around my legs.
We figured we could go inside and it would get the idea.
The cat sat outside our door crying loudly enough to wake the dead...in California...for an hour and a half.
We wondered if it was hungry. We hadn't dared to feed it yet, because it was already getting ideas, and we knew that if you feed a cat it's like, well, giving a mouse a cookie: to do so would set a chain reaction in motion that would lead the cat to want more. Like, maybe to take up permanent residence in our house.
But, when the hour and a half of constant yowling had gone by, despite the fact that we had turned off the lights, turned down the TV and tried to look like we weren't at home, we began to grow frantic. The cat was peeking through our front windows, making enough racket for five. We began to want desperately for it to quiet down, whether it went away or not. Out came the can opener and the tuna.
While the cat munched, we turned off all of the lights in the front of the house, and retreated to our bedroom, where we lit only one bedside lamp. We watched our bedroom TV at very low volume, hoping that the now-not-quite-so-hungry furball out front would at least quiet down. We had our wish for about two hours. At around midnight, while we were watching Conan, a familiar voice began to sound outside. Right outside of our bedroom window. The cat had found us. She was alerting us, and probably half of our neighbors, to her presence, and continued to do so until around SIX-THIRTY AM SUNDAY MORNING!!!!!
We went to a later mass that day.
Sunday night, guess who showed up promptly in our window at nine o'clock (right around when we had fed her the night before)?
After some deliberation, we reluctantly decided to feed her again when the volume of her cries reached that of nails being run down about 50 chalkboards simultaneously, and we could no longer handle the pathetic pleas of our famished feline visitor.
It was Salmon on Sunday night. Most cats don't eat that well two nights in a row.
Like we did the night before, we retreated to our bedroom, this time with the lights lower, hoping not to be kept awake by a small, crying being of unimaginable cuteness (Let's save that for when we have kids.)
Listen....Silence! She is satisfied! We can sleep!
Cut to seven AM Monday, when we are roused by a new little furry alarm outside of our bedroom window.
Alan couldn't take it anymore. We had to do something. We were running out of canned fish, and have only one working car at the moment. Not being prepared to take in a stray, and having no clue as to her origins, we reluctantly decided the humane society was the best option.
We put her in a box that Alan prepared, and I kept her company while Alan got ready for work. She was surprisingly calm until we placed her in the car (she is obviously familiar with cars as well as houses) and he dropped her off this morning after a long car ride into the city during rush hour. The, cat of course, voiced her disappointment the entire way.
So ends the saga of the fluffy shadow beast who for two days laid siege to our small fort, and made off with our food and a bit of our hearts. Spoils of war, I guess.
Many present day parents, teachers, and other authority figures in the lives of children are so anti-authority, that they are afraid of exercising any kind of influence over younger generations to encourage them to avoid stupid mistakes.
Or they assume stupid mistakes are inevitable, and use that as a cop-out to justify their fear of acting like grown-ups.
Or maybe they only look like grown-ups but haven't matured to the point where they understand that there even is such a thing as a stupid mistakes.
One of many areas in which the effects of this trend can be seen is in Sex Education.
This article, written by a young woman at LSU, is a worthwhile read from a new adult on the mixed messages being sent by people who are too frightened of themselves to protect the young people in their care.
Hat tip: Alive and Young
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Jennifer and Jim kept getting huge water bills. They knew beyond a doubt that the bills weren't representative of their actual usage, and
no matter how they tried to conserve, the high bills continues. Although they could see nothing wrong, they had everything checked for leaks or problems; first the water meter, then outdoor pipes, indoor pipes, underground pipes, faucets, toilets, washer, ice maker, etc., -- all to no avail.
One day Jim was sick and stayed home in bed, but kept hearing water running downstairs. He finally tore himself from his sick bed & went to investigate, and stumbled onto the cause of such high water bills.
Apparently this was happening all day long when they were not at home. Knowing that few would believe him, he taped a segment of the 'problem' for posterity!
Who would have guessed that the cat could find a flushing toilet so mesmerizing, much less that it could be responsible for such a high water bill?
Now the money is being dolled out to universities and research institutions. Pretty soon they'll have to squeeze the money from taxpayers to provide the funds.
So glad I'm not paying taxes there any more.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
John Kerry made a big deal about being Catholic.
Nancy Pelosi says she's one too.
There are a lot of Catholics and one Mormon running for president this time around.
People aren't talking about the Catholic candidates as much, except by noting that there are more than usual. People are very curious about how Mitt Romney's faith will affect the way he does his job. He has clearly learned from a long line of Catholic candidates, starting with young Mr. Kennedy.
He says it won't.
I'm disappointed. I'm a little afraid of a man who cares more about getting elected than he does about what God thinks of him.
There was a controversy awhile back about whether someone should be allowed to take his oath of office on the Q'uran. Regardless of how uncomfortable it makes some people, at least he was willing to practice his faith in public. You can't trust someone's "so help me God" if there is no weight in his mind to what he swears by. He might as well swear on a dictionary.
It doesn't make any sense for people to leave their personal beliefs at home when they enter the workplace. One can have opinions and be professional about them. Imagine if I left my Catholic faith behind me upon entry into a classroom, public or private. So much for fair grading, respect for the human dignity of my students, academic honesty, kindness. So much for beauty in Literature. All of the meaning would be taken out of my job. If humans have no creator and no soul, what would be the point of educating them so they could find and fulfill their vocations? So they could seek truth, and find God in the process?
Politicians shouldn't leave such principles behind them. Government office should not be incompatible with the Catholic faith. In fact, for there to be any justice, it must be. Respect for human life is the foundation for honesty, just war, religious freedom, fairness, respect for the poor, effective education, criminal justice, ethical medicine, and all of the other issues that a statesman (or woman, as the case may be) will encounter during the course of his career. A leader's job is not just to listen to the people, but also to protect truth and justice in whatever country she leads. Not to equivocate, and have no opinions. If you are "personally offended" by something, act accordingly. If you can't, find another job.
Notice to Catholic politicians: the first one of you to grow a spine and stand up for Catholic teaching gets my vote.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under date of 14 February. One is described as a priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and these two seem both to have suffered in the second half of the third century and to have been buried on the Flaminian Way, but at different distances from the city. In William of Malmesbury's time what was known to the ancients as the Flaminian Gate of Rome and is now the Porta del Popolo, was called the Gate of St. Valentine. The name seems to have been taken from a small church dedicated to the saint which was in the immediate neighborhood. Of both these St. Valentines some sort of Acta are preserved but they are of relatively late date and of no historical value. Of the third Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with a number of companions, nothing further is known.
Saint Valentine's Day
The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine's Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer's Parliament of Foules we read:
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.
For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers' tokens. Both the French and English literatures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries contain allusions to the practice. Perhaps the earliest to be found is in the 34th and 35th Ballades of the bilingual poet, John Gower, written in French; but Lydgate and Clauvowe supply other examples. Those who chose each other under these circumstances seem to have been called by each other their Valentines. In the Paston Letters, Dame Elizabeth Brews writes thus about a match she hopes to make for her daughter (we modernize the spelling), addressing the favoured suitor:
And, cousin mine, upon Monday is Saint Valentine's Day and every bird chooses himself a mate, and if it like you to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then, I trust to God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter to a conclusion.
Shortly after the young lady herself wrote a letter to the same man addressing it "Unto my rightwell beloved Valentine, John Paston Esquire". The custom of choosing and sending valentines has of late years fallen into comparative desuetude.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Batter my heart, three-personed God; for You
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labor to admit You, but oh, to no end!
Reason, Your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love You, and would be loved fain.
But am betrothed unto Your enemy:
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to You, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except You ravish me.
But let's go ahead and require 9 year old girls to get Gardasil before it has even been approved for a year. Never mind that we don't have any long-term data on the effects of this vaccine yet. Remember how hard Merck is pushing this vaccine that "may prevent" (notice they know better than to say "does") a common STD.
Merck obviously hasn't learned from Vioxx, with which injury attorneys are still having a field day.
This latest one seems to indicate that kids are actually better off being raised by adoptive parents than by their biological parents, including single and step-parent situations.
The "powers that be" on the Left are trying to use this as an argument in favor of adoption by homosexual couples, though the study only covered heterosexual couples. However, in touting this study, they sabotage another key part of the leftist platform: abortion.
Some abortion proponents claim that it is better for a woman to kill her child in the womb than to put it up for adoption, because it would be too difficult for her to part with the child after carrying it for nine months, and some claim it would be better for the child, too, since adopted families are widely assumed to be inferior. Others take a more "feminist" view, and say the pregnant woman shouldn't have to be an incubator for the wealthy (as if the wealthy are the only ones who adopt), and leave the life of the child out of it completely. In short, for varied reasons, they believe that the only choices available to a woman with an unplanned pregnancy are abortion and raising an "unwanted" child.
If the results of this study are accurate (big if, considering the small scale of this study), it means the best option (especially for single women) IS adoption, as many of us pro-life folks have been saying all along. If one person is unable or unwilling to raise a child, there are couples who DO want the joys and responsibilities that come with being parents, who may, on average, embrace those possibilities with greater alacrity. So, through adoption, a woman can give great joy to at least three people, by giving her child a good life, and two other people the joy of raising that child. Talk about a way to give back! The article, however, never touches on this facet of the issue.
The other resides along the Gulf of Mexico, most famously in Florida. They live all along the Gulf, however, and we have them here in Texas as well. I've gone to see them in person at a national park a couple of times. They're really good at holding still and waiting for dinner to come to them. I have heard that the Florida gators are not as lazy as the Texas ones, but I'm not going to deliberately test that assumption if I can avoid it. Why?
Take a look a this large specimen, apparently from Florida. Note the deer in its mouth:
Anyway, be careful where you swim. :)
Thanks to my friend Michelle for her e-mail.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Talking Urinal Cakes!
I've always speculated that such things are merely inventions to help keep public restrooms tidier by providing a target. Not being male, I wouldn't know, myself. Now, New Mexico has added a new purpose.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Unfortunately, the website has only a few pictures of the interior, which is amazing. I've been to this parish several times, and each time I notice something new in the richly detailed design.
Caution: you may not want to leave!
Which brings me to the latest edition of our "Surveys of nothing new" file (See also my blog on a "study" of the behavior of Grandmas), a survey on young Catholics. Bill says pretty much everything that needs to be said, but as a "young" catholic, I'd like to add my own two cents on the following bit from the article:
“There’s a disconnect between them and the institutional church,” said Davidson. “And when they get older, they are not going to be like the Catholics of previous generations. They are going to be the Catholics they are now.”
Gee, Davidson, thanks for your faith in my ability to grow and change. I'm not a terrible Catholic right now, but there's plenty of room to do better. I pray to God that I'll be a better one every year of my life. I'd rather not be the Catholic I am now forever. I've spent the last twenty-some years improving myself, I'm sure as heck not going to stop now. I'm not done yet.
Seriously, people. Personal growth is supposed to be a part of life. How many of us are the same person at 40-something that we were at 20-something? Better question: Is it even healthy to be the same at 45 as you were at 25? Has my generation found the key to eternal immaturity (since eternal youth seems to be a myth), or is the article writer just hoping we won't grow up?
Sheesh. Davidson, please keep your pessimism (or is it wishful thinking?) to yourself, since you have NO DATA on which to base it---yet. Come back in 10 or 20 years. We may surprise you.
Friday, February 9, 2007
Thursday, February 8, 2007
The course description for Spanish II (Emphasis mine):
- "Begins with a thorough review of Spanish I with special attention to practical, original communication. Spanish II then continues with an in-depth study of other tenses, moods, and vocabulary with a strong emphasis on written and oral communication as well as oral and reading comprehension. A greater spiritual emphasis is added as students increase their ability to witness through a study of Catholicism and Spanish history. Special emphasis is placed on how to effectively use God’s Word in addressing false doctrine in the Catholic Church."
Compare to the description of French II, and remember that France was historically another Catholic country:
- "Expands on the foundation laid in French I while strengthening the comprehension of the spoken and written language. The text includes a selection of French songs, with a Christian emphasis in each chapter. The oral and reading comprehension sections expose the student to French literature, as well as to the oral dialects of various areas of French-speaking lands throughout the world. Offered on BJ LINC."
You'd think at least their Latin II course would include ways to combat Catholicism, but I guess they have some reason they'd prefer not to debate Catholicism and scripture with people who study Latin. That course description as follows:
- Latin II Builds on vocabulary and grammatical elements taught in Latin I. Places an emphasis on translation skills. Introduces the subjunctive mood and case uses.
A quick search of the course catalog reveals that the Spanish II description is the only place in the entire document where the word "Catholic" appears at all.
Now you'd think they'd want to "minister" to Catholics in all language groups, but the writers of the curriculum must believe that Spanish Speaking Catholics are the easiest targets.
The Bob Jones University course catalog can be found here.
Thanks to Marv Wood who noted this in his comment on Catholic and Enjoying It.
Some insight can be gained by going to his website and reading some of the comments posted by people who support his decision to continue employing them. The people who support him are just like the two he has hired. Surprise, surprise. But, he knows that isn't enough to get him elected, and so hopes to placate the rest of us with his "apology" while retaining his base.
On that note, check out this mock entry from "The Edwards Diaries"
Oy, these meshuggina bloggers. Boy did they make the past few news cycles fercockt. Made me look weak. They made me look ridiculous. And a man in my position can’t afford to look ridiculous!
Oh, dear Diary, even quoting the Godfather movies can’t lift my spirits. Because of the hissy-fit those bloggers threw, I had to keep those girls and their crazy chazerei on the campaign bus for the time being. I’ll bide my time, but I can’t fool you. You know it stings. These girls aren’t reflective of what’s in my heart. I’m respectful, the son of a humble mill-worker. We didn’t have enough money to afford shoes, but we had values. We feared God, and we respected other people who feared God. That’s why I’m going to toss these harpies under the campaign bus at an appropriate time and then run them over. And then I’ll back the bus up over them. Rinse, lather and repeat as they say.
Which reminds me, my hair is looking outstanding today. It’s the small pleasures that keep you going when you’ve dedicated your life to serving your country.
Read the rest here. It's a riot.
For the origins of the title of this post, click here.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Update: Here is the flyer and registration form. It is in .pdf format, so you'll need acrobat reader.
Here is a description of the content:
Topics include: the changes in a young woman’s body as it prepares for motherhood; the onset of ovulation and subsequent menstrual periods; the functions of the female reproductive system; the sacredness of human life; and the virtue of chastity. The programs will include a question and answer segment. Healthy dating relationships with a strong emphasis on chastity and reverence for our sexuality are also discussed with the older girls. The older girls’ program is an extension of the younger program. It is good to come to both at the age appropriate time for each girl.
The trouble is, these women accuse Catholic teaching, especially on matters of homosexuality and contraception of being homophobic and misogynistic, on top of being antiquated and ignorant. Ladies, nobody appreciates being called ignorant and bigoted. You wouldn't take that lying down if we said it about you. (And we could, considering you obviously don't have a clue about where church teachings come from, despite your Loyola Degree). Don't expect us to either. The first amendment allows you to say whatever you want on your blog, in whatever manner. It also allows the Catholic League to voice its opinions to John Edwards. What he does with that is up to him, depending on how he wishes to present himself. That's his constitutional right to freedom of association, among other things.
These ladies and their supporters in the blogosphere are now accusing the "Catholic Right" of trying to suppress their speech. They can say whatever they want. But, if you hold an unpopular opinion, which you voice unashamedly in public, you can't expect a political candidate who seriously wants to get elected to keep you on his staff. When you work for a candidate, you represent him, you come under the same level of public scrutiny he does, and he wants us to think he will represent us, if elected.
Though, personally, I never expected him to do so in the first place.
Here is a website tracking the story.
It's amazing what a complicated tangle has come from wanting to make a film about such simple beings. The Professor would be dismayed.
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
At least Mel Gibson was actually drunk when he put his foot in his mouth.
How would it excuse Gavin Newsom's marital cheating?
I suppose it might explain the way he runs San Francisco.
Marriage, for Catholics anyway, is not just a legal contract between a man and a woman. It binds them together, making them one flesh. It is a Sacrament, through which God helps them (and they help each other and their children) to get to heaven. The Church isn't terribly picky about how many children we have. It does not limit us to our biological offspring only. It only requires us to be open to the will of God in that area. It affirms that the intimate relationship between spouses serves multiple purposes, of which procreation (or at least the possibility of such) is one. Catholic marriage is a sacrament, an exclusive lifelong commitment, a vocation to self-sacrifice, a basic unit within the Body of Christ, an illustration of how God's love for us works, and a reflection of the nature of the Holy Trinity. I could go on and on.
Catholic Marriage, as a priest I know put it, is the kind of marriage that everybody wants, deep down, but which most people don't understand. It gets written off as impractical, or impossible, often by people who have little faith in the power of God to give them strength for it, or who can't believe that self-sacrifice can hold gratifications of its own. The secular world has reduced marriage to a legal contract, not always binding, in which sex is still primarily expected to be selfish, recreational, and purely for pleasure. And maybe procreative. If we feel like it.
The problem is, too many of us across the denominations of the Christian world have bought into the secular ideas, and that makes it twice as hard to defend the institution, whether to advocates of same-sex marriage, or cohabitating heterosexual couples who see it as unnecessary and antiquated. The fortress, ladies and gentlemen, has been weakened.
And that makes attacks on it twice as easy.
For the full text of the initiative, go here, if you must.
Monday, February 5, 2007
Bill links in his recent post to a column on the Rethinking Schools website. As a teacher trained on the West Coast, I'm fairly familiar with Rethinking Schools. Their primary mission, as they state it is to improve the effectiveness of public education, but they also tend to be almost exclusively supportive of left-leaning approaches to taxes, education, and government, which is why they also oppose tuition tax-credits for parents sending their kids to private school. They believe this threatens public school funding by taking tax-dollars away from public education.
The way school funding generally works is that schools receive their funds based on student attendance. The more students present, and the fewer days they miss, the more funding the school gets from the state. This makes sense, because kids have to be there in order for resources to be expended instructing them. This is also one main reason why schools keep careful records of student attendance, and crack down on truancy.
But, but the money isn't theirs until I pay my taxes. And furthermore, if I choose not to send my child to a public school, or to home school her (and they are especially aghast at this latter option, I might add), I am saving the state the expense of educating that child, and taking it on myself. This means the state does not need the extra per-capita funding to educate that child.
The Cato Institute cites Education Department figures stating that a year of public education costs about $6,857 per child. Private school tuition varies widely, but the average across elementary and secondary schools is $3,116 per year. Some schools go as high as $10,000 per year.
When I lived in California, (making a first-year teacher's salary, I might add), nearly a quarter of my yearly income went to pay state and federal taxes. If I had been able to deduct $10,000 of tuition from that, that would mean saving only a little over $2,000 off of my taxes. Even if I get to deduct $10,000 per year from my taxable income, I'm not going to get to save as much on my taxes as I am going to spend on my child's education, which means the public schools are still going to get funds for a job I am not asking them to do. Rethinking Schools has no business complaining.
Sunday, February 4, 2007
But I'm not so fond of watching a little entertainment with my commercials.
Seriously people. They don't even interrupt the Rose Parade with commercials, if they can avoid it, but the Super Bowl is so packed with advertisements you'll spend more time fast-forwarding your Ti-Vo than you will watching the game.
And now, as Bill notes, we have the commercialism taken to a whole new level. Whether that level is high or low--well--I'll leave that alone.
Tailgating is a no-no this year. So is showing the game without paying for the privilege. Churches, that means you, especially. Why this latter rule? Folks, it's all about ratings.
You should check out my brother's gallery at DeviantArt.com.
He's pretty much a self-taught amateur, but you'd never know it to look at his photos. :) If you think I'm biased, just go look and decide for yourself.
By the way, the rose picture in the title banner for this blog is taken from one of his pictures. Thanks, bro!
I was feeling like my blog came from there every time I saw the cookie-cutter template I was using.
So I changed it.
Change, as they say is good. But dollars are better.
Saturday, February 3, 2007
The comments on her blog post illustrate the debate going on about what to expect regarding young people and STD's. I will not rehash the entire thing here, but rather I will touch on a few of the more relevant points.
1. Assuming she is neither molested nor raped, a young woman who is celibate until marriage is very unlikely to contract the virus while she is not sexually active. Believe it or not folks, it is perfectly safe to go without sex after age 20. You won't develop any mental or emotional problems.
2. If she marries, she could still catch the virus from her husband, as well as the warts that go with it. This is a great time for her to decide for herself, depending upon what she and her doctor think is best if she wants to get the vaccine or not. The state need not interfere here.
3. Whether she gets the vaccine at age 9 or age 26, or even if she never gets it at all, she will still have to go in for regular pap smears, and it is still possible to get cervical cancer.
4. If a person with the strain of HPV Gardasil protects against walks into a crowded classroom or mall, she is not going to automatically infect everyone around her, the way she might with smallpox, chickenpox, measles, or polio.
All of these are very good reasons to leave the HPV vaccine a matter of choice for women, girls and their parents. Don't trust parents? Family planning clinics already offer birth control pills to minor girls without their parents knowledge. It's a short step from that to giving them Gardasil too, assuming they can cough up the $300+ to pay for it. I doubt it will add to the damage already done with the pills.
The clearest beneficiary of all of this, as I have mentioned before is Merck. It is already frustrating enough that drug companies advertise their prescription medications to people with no medical training, and no knowledge of how they work. There was a time when drug companies advertised to the people who prescribe their products. Now, they just advertise them to the non-medical masses, and then our politicians, who force us to get them. Oh, and guess where those advertising dollars come from? Sales! So, next time you pay for a brand-name prescription that you see on TV, know that the cost of that commercial was passed on to you. (That's why I love buying generic.) :)
The only corporate body with a more detrimental influence on the medical world is the insurance companies. And don't get me started on them.
Personally, I'm glad it will be a few years before I have any daughters old enough for this. When we do, my husband and I will be discussing whether as her parents we think it is best to let her decide when she is an adult, or whether we will decide for her ahead of time.
On a certain June in a certain year, a certain while ago now, I embarked on what was probably the most grueling year of my entire life. It started off well, and then slowly went downhill. There was a small uplift during the last half of the first semester, and then a major out of control spiral beginning somewhere around January. If it weren't coastal California, the word snowball might come to mind.
But, it was only a one-year program. It would be over quickly, like when you rip off a band-aid. Or try to wax your legs. I clung desperately to the positive--like all of the wonderful people (just as nutty as I was) who were in the same boat that I was. And the fact that it wouldn't last forever. Little real help from the faculty I'm afraid, even when I asked for it. The only reason I didn't drop out altogether was my stubborn determination to finish what I started.
In that year I learned three very important lessons that have served me well, professionally. One: Office politics happen everywhere, including in classrooms. Beware the passive-aggressive superior who pretends to reach out to help you with one hand, and tries to pull the rug from under you with the other. This one only pulled it partway, which meant delaying my master's degree for what ended up being two more years. Two: sometimes the people who offer to help you before they know you are the worst ones to lean on. They resent it if they find out you actually need them. Three: I found the limits of my sanity. Still retracing my steps to get back to them.
So I finished my master's last June while working with some truly awesome people at a job that certain individuals probably never believed I could do competently. To those certain individuals: I wasn't just competent. I was good.
Even though the nightmare is technically over, I'm not out of it yet. I still can't go back to the hallways of a certain UCSB building without fighting to keep my breathing regular. Last week in my dreams I discovered that my research wasn't finished, while I was on my way to my public conversation dressed only in my underthings. My mom was, of course, standing by proudly snapping pictures, while I searched desperately for my portfolio in the shrubberies, where the neighbors could see.
Some people who also found themselves in an unexpectedly extended nightmare finished their M.Ed.'s the same year I did, for similar reasons. We are all glad to be done.
The moral of the story: If anyone out there is thinking about TEP, think carefully. It's like running marathons to prepare for a 10k. If you are already running the marathon, consider slowing to a walk for awhile so you don't kill yourself. Seriously, you'll get better data for your M.Ed. research in a real job, where classroom is actually yours. If you have survived, yay for you! We should form a club and get t-shirts made. Then write a letter to the Chancellor. Give a new meaning to the word reflection. You know what I mean.
Friday, February 2, 2007
Well, here it goes:
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Texas became the first U.S. state to require that all 11- and 12-year-old girls be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer, the governor's office said on Friday.
Republican Gov. Rick Perry issued an executive order requiring the HPV vaccine be added to the list of vaccines that students must have to be enrolled in the state's public schools.
The issue has generated fierce debate, with some religious organizations and parents' groups arguing such widespread vaccination programs could encourage premarital sex.
He added that parents could opt out of mandatory vaccinations for their children if they objected for reasons including religious beliefs.
The girls will be vaccinated with Merck & Co. Inc.'s Gardasil, which won U.S. approval last June as the first vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, a disease that kills about 300,000 women worldwide each year.The vaccine, which targets four HPV types believed to cause more than 70 percent of cervical cancer cases and 90 percent of genital warts, is cleared for use in girls and young women aged 9 to 26. In clinical trials, Gardasil was shown to be 100 percent effective against two of the most common HPV strains.
Perry's order comes as state lawmakers across the country are being lobbied by Merck and a national group, Women in Government, made up of female state legislators, to make the Gardasil vaccine required in most school districts.
Merck supports the Women in Government effort with funding and a Merck representative sits on its business council. Legislation is pending in more than a dozen other states to mandate Gardasil vaccinations.
The vaccine will be made available immediately to all girls aged 9 through 18 eligible under the Texas Vaccines for Children Program. Women from 19 to 21 enrolled in Medicaid in Texas also will be eligible immediately, the order said.
Cervical cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women aged 35 to 54, and Texas has the second highest number of women suffering from cervical cancer in the United States, according to the Texas governor's office.-------------------------------------------
I have really mixed feelings about this one.On the one hand, it could encourage premarital sex.
On the other hand, there is always Genital Herpes.
On the other hand, suppose a woman marries a man with a "past" from which he has fully repented. It's probably worthwhile to protect herself. Or suppose someone's husband cheats, and she finds out after he has brought a few microscopic friends home.
On the other hand, what business do schools have requiring vaccines for STDs? Measles and chickenpox you can get by being in a classroom. Kids aren't having sex at school.
On the other hand, why do so many middle and high schools have to keep such a close eye on their bathrooms? (I'll give you three guesses. Drugs, violence, and one more.)
There is a delicate balance to be struck here between protecting our children and enabling them. It is certainly true that current standards in sex ed. aren't doing much to protect kids from all of the other STD's out there that cannot be vaccinated against, and from some of which condoms aren't going to offer complete protection. (Genital Herpes, for instance).This means Gardasil is not going to solve the STD problem, not by a long shot.
There is always abstinence education, but the general strategy among adults these days is to give up on kids and assume that they cannot rise above their animal instincts. So we give them free condoms, and tell them to be careful. Until we are willing to teach them proper respect for their sexuality, and hold them accountable for their behavior if they do not behave themselves, I'm not sure what the answer is.
Unless public schools are willing to entertain the possibility of chastity belts.
California Couple Fights for Name Change
Last Update: Jan 17, 2007 8:54 AM
Posted By: Alison Reeder
CALIFORNIA -- A Southern California man is fighting to change his name. He wants to take his wife's last name.
But in California, a man who wants to take his wife's name faces a long list of requirements. He must file a petition, pay more than $300, place a public notice in a newspaper, and then appear before a judge.
The couple has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the state, claiming the process violates the "Equal Protection Clause" of the 14th amendment. A California law-maker has introduced a bill that would put a space on the marriage license for either spouse to change names.
The couple married in Santa Barbara in 2005.
It's too bad the couple do not live in Texas. The court costs are lower here, as I know from personal name-changing experience!
Seriously, though, ladies and gentlemen, I think it's sad that the man has to file a gender discrimination suit. Not because of the discriminatory nature of the law (Which also inconveniences women who want to keep their maiden names anywhere in their new married names--where are those radical feminists when you need them?), but because it's amazing that the state of California, as well as the state of Texas haven't caught on to the state of married names in this country.
Things being what they are, people are getting pretty creative about what they do with their names after they marry. They hyphenate, recombine, and rearrange things in every possible combination. This has been going on for at least the last 25 years.
Also, things being what they are, many offices belonging to what some call the fourth branch of American Government (the bureaucracy) require documented proof of a change of name. In writing. Especially if you are doing anything creative with it. Social Security, for example, requires official proof of your old and new identities. Preferably accompanied by pictures. And the DMV in some states, including Texas, will not put your full legal name on your drivers license if it does not fit in their computers. (I could write another blog entirely about the various areas in which drivers license offices lack sense and efficiency) At this point, a court order is the best proof-of-new-name option for newly married folks, since our marriage certificates do not offer us that possibility.
Interestingly, I would have an easier time changing my name back if I were to get a divorce. The divorce and the name change can be finalized simultaneously.
Why on earth can't it be just as easy when we get married? It would be a great convenience to everyone. I'm sure the courts have more pressing matters to deal with, and I'm sure I can think of several things I'd rather do with $250. Or $300, if I still resided in the Golden State.
At least I didn't have to waste space in the newspaper as well as in the courtroom.
Here is the same story at CNN.
Here is the text of California Assembly bill 102, referenced in both articles.
I should also add that I have contacted my local state representative to see about getting such legislation passed in Texas, before there are any lawsuits. :)