Thursday, August 23, 2007

Marketing Genius Award

The Michael Vick Chew Toy for your favorite little doggy.

God bless America; God bless capitalism. This is the sort of genius that makes this country great. Others whine and moan; this guy knows how to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Although, for the sake of the dogs, I hope he added a little sow's-ear flavoring.

Buy it here.

It's All Just You, Bishop Robinson

From Catholic World News:
An openly homosexual Episcopal bishop will enter into a civil partnership with his lover just prior to the Lambeth Conference, the Church of England Newspaper reports.

Bishop Gene Robinson, whose ordination as head of the New Hampshire diocese in 2003 has caused severe strains in the worldwide Anglican communion, has announced plans to enter a formal civil partnership in June, just before the Lambeth meeting of the world's Anglican leaders.

Bishop Robinson denies that he has timed the ceremony to focus publicity on his status as the Lambeth meeting begins; he told a BBC interviewer that "my critics would find any date impermissible." Robinson said that he was only taking advantage of a new state law allowing registration of civil partnerships. The New Hampshire law took effect on January 1.
What constantly astonishes me about the leadership of the Episcopal Church USA is not so much their heresy as their sheer, overweening, in-your-face arrogance. Even were I to concede the propriety of the Most Reverend Mr. Robinson’s behavior (don't hold your breath), I would have to wonder about his pastoral qualities. So, I suspect, would Paul.

Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol's temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother's falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall. (1Co 8:9-13, RSV)

But, then, Paul was just that nasty guy that corrupted the universal inclusivity of “real” Christianity. I almost forgot.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Hypothetical Conversation

A hypothetical conversation:

Bank: This is the Bank of America, can I help you?

Customer: Yes, I want to cancel my account. I don't want to do business with you any longer.

Bank: Why?

Customer: You're giving credit to illegal immigrants and I don't think it's right. I'm taking my business elsewhere.

Bank: Well, Mr. Customer, we don't want to see you do that, but we can't stop you. I'll help you close the account. What is your account number?

Customer: (gives account number)

Bank: For security purposes and for your protection,can you please give me the last four digits of your social security number?

Customer: No.

Bank: Mr. Customer, I need to verify your information, but in order to help you, I'll need verification of who you are.

Customer: Why should I give you my social security number? The reason I'm closing my account is that your bank is issuing credit cards to illegal immigrants who don't have social security numbers. You are targeting thataudience and want their business. Let's say I'm an illegal immigrant and you've given me a credit card. I have a question about it and call for assistance. You wouldn't be asking me for a Social Security number, would you?

Bank: No sir, I wouldn't.

Customer: Why not?

Bank: Because you would have pressed '2' to speak in Spanish. We don't askfor that information when calling in on the Spanish line.
Lest you think this hypotheticalscenario is unreasonable hyperbole, please check out the following entry from

I have nothing against refugees, or against immigrants who come to this country legally. I do, however, have an issue with foreign nationals, who owe their allegiance to a foreign power, skulking across our legitimate borders solely in order to make more money. (a) The USA is a nation state and should not be denied the same rights given without argument to other nations states regarding the sovereignty and inviolability of their borders – e.g., try sneaking into Mexico from Guatemala and see how much sympathy you get.

(b) It is a massive security breach. All a terrorist has to do is learn Spanish, and he will have a 90+ percent chance of getting into the country and staying here with little problem.

(c) Illegal immigration into the USA across the southern border provides massive amounts of funds to stabilize and perpetuate a corrupt and oligarchic Mexican government which is responsible for the pathetic economic conditions in Mexico in the first place. Both countries would be better served in the long run by grabbing illegals as they cross the border, giving them an M-16 and ammo, a copy of the US Constitution, and sending them back with good wishes and a promise of free ammunition.

(d) As Michael Chertoff, head of Homeland Security, said, “It is very important … that they understand what it will mean if we don't address this problem in a way that will continue to allow us to harvest our fruits and vegetables, and produce our crops, and milk our cows, and get this agriculture to market in a way that will be priced so that people can actually afford to buy it.” (The ellipsis does not change the meaning of the quote.) In other words, illegal aliens are important because that way we can subsidize our agriculture and maid service on the backs of marginalized, brown-skinned people. That is blatantly immoral and at least marginally racist. You’ll notice nobody wants to import poor Eastern Europeans to pick our crops – probably just can’t stand seeing blond hair and blue eyes out in the fields.

I say this as someone who likes Mexico and likes the Mexicans. But Mexico is a country, and so is the USA, and countries have certain rights and prerogatives that are inviolable. One of the reasons for those rights and prerogatives is that they historically foster peace, harmony, and independence. Those who advocate their violation, despite their claims, do not hold the moral high ground. Over time, their “morality” leads to resentment, abuse, oppression, and ultimately, havoc. It is the same at the national as at the local level; good fences make good neighbors.

Friday, August 17, 2007

From MI-5 to Am I Sick?

From The Daily Mail (UK):
David Shayler is sitting before me - slim, tanned, sockless, dressed from top-to-toe in white and very, very chatty.

"I am the messiah and hold the secret of eternal life," he starts excitedly. "It all came about quite suddenly.

"First I started meditating, then I learnt how to channel the "light", and the more research I did - into Freemasonry, the Knights Templar, Kabbalah - the more convinced I became that I was the Christ."

Jesus Christ? "No, Jesus of the New Testament is an archetype," he explains patiently. "His name derives from the 13th Name of God in Kabbalah, which helps activate the Messiah consciousness within us.

"I was, though, crucified with a crown of thorns and nails then incarnated as Astronges, a Jewish revolutionary put to death by the Romans at around the end of the last century BC ...It explained why in this life I had funny shaped wrists and ankles..."

Had? "Yes, look," he says, proffering his tanned arms. "They've pretty much corrected themselves now I've acknowledged the crucifixion - but there used to be big hollows where nails had been bashed in."

The last decade has been a tough one for the former MI5 officer.

Ten years ago this month, he gave a shocking whistle-blowing interview in the Mail on Sunday accusing both MI5 and MI6 of mismanagement and illegal activities and alleging that MI6 had been involved in a failed assassination attempt on the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi.

The story caused a national scandal. David fled to France with his girlfriend, fellow intelligence officer Annie Machon, and finally, after three years in exile and four months in a French jail, returned home in August 2000 to public vilification, threats, a court case, six month jail sentence and a ruined career.

[...] "It was in June that a psychic channelled the spirit of Mary Magdalene and anointed me the messiah and, finally, my whole life made sense."

[...] He also claims he can affect the weather, prevent terrorist attacks and influence football results. Oh, and that the Rod of Aaron - the staff said to have been carried by Moses's brother - has an anagram written on it in Hebrew which translated says: 'David Shayler, Righteous King'.

[...] And in recent years he's been scratching a living giving talks to conspiracy theorists about the September 11 attacks - last year he was ridiculed for insisting that the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre were brought down by a U.S. Government conspiracy using "missiles surrounded by holograms made to look like planes".

[...] While he is likeable, well-spoken, beautifully mannered and very clever, it's all very disturbing.

Particularly when he rattles through his past lives - along with Astronges (the crucified Jewish revolutionary) there's also George Washington, Pythagoras, Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Mark Antony and Lawrence of Arabia.

And the all-white wardrobe - is that a Kabbalah thing?

"Actually, it's a Christ thing. You'll notice that T. E. Lawrence - Lawrence of Arabia - started wearing long white robes when he realised he was the Christ. It seems part of the process."

[...] He has an answer for everything, even when I ask if he ever takes drugs.

"Of course I do. I smoke cannabis but it's been used in religious experiences for years. Oh and magic mushrooms..."

In large quantities? "Erm, not really. I smoke cannabis every day - it makes you more spiritual and less violent and takes you closer to the light."
I am thinking of giving up blogging. My aging imagination is no longer capable of keeping up with the real world. I spend time thinking of something odd, humorous, or off the wall, and then something like this shows up in the newspaper. It’s really discouraging.

Given his beliefs regarding 911 and his Messianic selfimage, I expect Mr. Shayler will soon announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Frankly, however, I'd be happier if he used his powers this football season to intervene on behalf of the Aggies and the Houston Texans.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Priest Sentenced for Murdering His Own Son

From the BBC:
A Roman Catholic priest in Mexico who killed his son to cover up a sexual relationship with the boy's mother has been jailed for 55 years.

Dagoberto Valle Arriaga had confessed in 2005 to killing his son, Oscar.
Prosecutors have not given any details of the case while local media put the boy's age between about eight and 16.

Mr Valle was afraid church officials would remove him from the priesthood if they learned of the child's existence, the authorities said.

Mr Valle was a priest in the city of Texcoco, on the outskirts of Mexico City.

He was accused of kidnapping his son in September 2005 and bringing him to the central state of Guanajuato before murdering him.

The authorities released no details of how the boy was killed, but it appears that his father dumped his body in the outskirts of a city called Acambaro.
What a guy, especially considering his title of "Father." As I recall, Jesus was somewhat partial to children, and had harsh words for those who would bring them to harm – something about millstones, as I recall.

Too bad this jerk wasn’t in the Diocese of Los Angeles; he would have kept both his job and his son, and stayed out of the slammer. I’m sure he’ll do well in a Mexican prison, however.

We're supposed to pray for people like "Father" Valle, but sometimes all I can do is wonder why they ever shut down the Holy Inquisition. Perhaps when his fellow prisoners get done with him, I'll be able to pray for the repose of his soul.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Please, Father - Just Bare your Soul

From (That's the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; everybody knows that only those who are post-intelligent would ever go live in Seattle.):

A Catholic priest faces an indecent exposure charge after jogging in the nude about an hour before sunrise.

The Rev. Robert Whipkey told officers he had been running naked at a high school track and didn't think anyone would be around at that time of day, a police report said.

He told officers he sweats profusely if he wears clothing while jogging. "I know what I did was wrong," he said in the report.

Whipkey did not return phone messages. His attorney, Doug Tisdale, told the Daily Times-Call of Longmont that Whipkey had no comment.

Whipkey, 53, was arrested around 4:30 a.m. June 22 in this town about 20 miles north of Denver.

The Archdiocese of Denver said it takes the incident seriously but is awaiting the outcome of the case. Whipkey remains an active priest.

If convicted of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor, he would have to register as a sex offender, prosecutors said.

I certainly hope Fr. Whipkey doesn't "sweat profusely" while celebrating Mass. I'd hate to see what's under the chasuble halfway through the Offertory. It does seem a bit extreme to label him as a sex offender, but I guess there is no legal category for "demented doofus offender."

One more example of The Waffler's ultimate disproof of Subjectivism - just look at reality. No one could possibly make this up.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Methuselah Germs

From a story on Fox News:

Microorganisms locked in Antarctic ice for 100,000 years and more came to life and resumed growing when given warmth and nutrients in a laboratory.

Researchers led by Kay Bidle of Rutgers University tested five samples of ice ranging in age from 100,000 years to 8 million years.

"We didn't really know what to expect. We knew that microorganisms were really hardy," Bidle, an assistant professor of marine and coastal sciences, said in a telephone interview.
The findings are reported in Monday's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers tested samples of the oldest known ice on Earth and had success at growing bacteria from the younger samples.

Microorganisms from the older ice didn't do as well, growing only very slowly. Some of the oldest microorganisms were watched for as long as a year, he said, compared to the week or so it usually takes to culture bacteria.

Calling the ice cores "gene popsicles," the researchers found evidence of some the most common bacteria still around, including firmicutes, proteobacteria and actinobacteria.

These are microorganisms that have been around a long time, Bidle said, "not something Earth hasn't seen before."

Bidle's researchers found that the DNA in bacteria deteriorates sharply after about 1.1 million years.

He said that after 1.1 million years the size of the DNA gets cut in half. In the oldest ice it consisted of just 210 units strung together. Normally the DNA of the average bacterium has about 3 million units.

One of the really cool things about bacteria is the ability of some of them to survive under unbelievably adverse conditions - boiling acid hot springs, deep-sea thermal vents, lithospheric inclusions, and hard vacuum.

I haven't had a chance to read the original article yet (God bless university on-line access!) If the reporter butchered something, I'll write a follow-up. As stated, however, this strikes me as a blow to the "life came to Earth from outer space" crowd. A million years isn't really that long if you are traveling across the galaxy on some space rock at 100 miles per second. It will only get you 537 light years/ megayear - a long way, but unlikely enough to get you from habitable planet to habitable planet, and then only with a 50% probability that your DNA is intact. That assumes that the phrase "the size of the DNA gets cut in half" is a half-life number. If it represents the mean of a bell-shaped size distribution, the likelihood of microbial viability gets a whole lot smaller. That doesn't include the likelihood of making it through the atmosphere unincinerated, etc. Remember, life arose on Earth very quickly after conditions became tolerable.

Looks like those trying to figure out how the Lord pulled it off might want to concentrate on terrestrial mechanisms.

Any old X-Files fans will, of course, be waiting for these experiments to unleash an extraterrestrial plague.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Things You'll Only Find in Texas

I love this state!

Into the Twilight

From Diogenes at Catholic World News, passed along without comment:

Whenever an organization begins to lose its grasp on the message it wants to deliver, it concentrates its efforts on improving the means of delivery. With gratifying timeliness, ECUSA has responded to its identity crisis by developing an Organizational Effectiveness Plan to streamline the ministerial services whose purpose it can't seem to find.

Strategic groupings of advocacy, evangelism, leadership development, and partnerships -- together with a configuration of regional satellite offices to support strategic mission -- are central to a new organizational effectiveness plan to reshape ministries based at the Episcopal Church Center.

A new "diocesan services" unit, offering a comprehensive approach to local mission needs, is a highlight of the new plan initiated by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and drafted after five months of consultative work by two task forces.

"The new configuration will raise our level of service to the church," Jefferts Schori said July 26 while commending the plan’s outline to the Church Center management team. "There is remarkable synchronicity in the development of this plan, and great potential for creativity and capacity building."
Give credit where credit is due: the good Doctor didn't get where she is without skill in the bestowal of elegant and semantically vacuous compliments. Note down these gems for your own future use: "remarkable synchronicity," "great potential for capacity building" (potential for capacity building?). That's about as close to pure meaninglessness as you're likely to find without a prescription. There is no project, plan, document, or resolution whatsoever -- including the minutes of the Wannsee Conference and your son's third grade report card -- to which these pretty polysyllables could not be cheerfully applied.

Yet it's hard not to pick up a sense of desperate swagger in the use of quasi-military jargon such as "task force" and "strategic mission" - muscle-flexing, heel-clicking words that suggest an ardor and singleness of purpose that isn't there. The crisis of liberal Christianity is precisely its inability to decide whether it has anything of value to give, and the language of mission is empty in the absence of an authority to do the sending. As with decaying religious orders in their death-throes ("that we may work toward deconstructing existing systems and constructing a new paradigm ..."), the grandiosity of objectives expands in inverse proportion to the power of failing eyes, muscles, faith.

The synchronicity is, well, remarkable.

Saving the Earth with Four-Dollar Coffee

I received the following today as email spam:

"Starbucks is proud to host conversations in our stores about the critical issue of climate change. Come meet with other members of your community, and talk about what you can do to help make a difference.

To make this day possible, Starbucks has partnered with leaders from organizations such as The Climate Group, Conservation International, Earth Day Network,Earthwatch Institute, and Global Green USA.

What we do in our home affects theirs (next to image of polar bears).

Starbucks National Day of Discussion
Date: Wednesday, August 15."

Terrific. If I want to know about climatology, I'll be sure to ask some peddlers of overpriced coffee. If I want to find out more about nuclear power, I suppose I should ask the manager down at the grocery store.

A good chunk of what's wrong with this country is that years of self-esteem training have managed to convince the intellectually deficient that they actually know what they are talking about.

Kyrie eleison.