Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Maybe I'm Too Sensitive

I'd appreciate it if some non-Catholic folks would read Larry Doyle's column, "The Jesus-Eating Cult of Rick Santorum", from the Huffington Post.  It is, in theory, supposed to be satire.  I don't see the funny.  Maybe that's because of the timing.  And maybe it's because I found out real quick that someone who converts to the Catholic faith better be ready for nastiness - it will come from all sides, including other conservative Christians.  And stuff like this smacks more of nastiness than humor:
Unlike Christians, Santorum and his fellow Roman Catholics participate in a barbaric ritual dating back two millennia, a "mass" in which a black-robed cleric casts a spell over some bread and wine, transfiguring it into the actual living flesh and blood of their Christ. Followers then line up to eat the Jesus meat and drink his holy blood in a cannibalistic reverie not often seen outside Cinemax.
I'm pretty sure that, satire or not, this would not have been published by HuffPo had it been about Islam.  And maybe that's also a part of why it's so tiresome - the double standard.

The full article is here.  Let me know what you think.

Blogger Beef

Does Blogger always randomly take away your backgrounds/wallpaper?  I was quite happy with what I had and then a couple days ago it just wasn't there.  Grumble.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spring Clean-up Begins

Last October brought us a surprise 6 inches of wet snow.  It was quite pretty:

Unfortunately, the leaves were still on, so it pulled a lot of trees and limbs down, leaving some of us without power for several days.

So now with the occasional day of nice temps I'm attacking some of the downed stuff on my property.  I have a chain saw, but the last time it was used was the winter before Dad died in 1998 - it was his and it came to live at my house and I've never had it looked at to see if it's still functional.  I use axe, bow saw, sawzall, and loppers instead, and I really don't mind because the exercise is good for me.  The only serious problem is when I get to something that's really too thick for the sawzall - I tend to bend and break blades that way.

Slowly but surely, downed limbs are becoming piles of limbs and logs.

And since I plan to put in a wood stove, those piles of logs are becoming next winter's fuel.

Next step will be to borrow the neighbor's chipper so that the debris coming off these branches can become mulch. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Epic Snark!

I thought Krauthammer had lost his flippin' mind for a minute when I first heard this!

I wish I could pull off sarcasm that well.


Every U.S. soldier out of Afghanistan NOW!  And Mr. Karzai can try to hold onto his power without us.  First terrorist attack that comes out of that country we rain hell down on them.  Then we leave them with that hell instead of trying to help them out.  Enough is enough. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Another run to the vet's last night, another $100.  Granted, that's way less than the last 2 trips.  But on the way I noticed an occasional faint whiff of burning rubber. Another couple hundred $$ today for replacement of worn out belts on the suv.  Between cat and vehicle I could have bought a Glock and ammo over the last month.

Perry's ailment is a weird one.  The vet says she sees it fairly often - as the days begin to lengthen some young male cats develop bladder problems.  It acts like an infection but isn't - pain, constant pressure to pee, blood in the pee.  All that can be done is treat the symptoms - iv fluids to keep the urine from forming crystals, injections of strong pain killers to help with the bladder spasms, and now we are trying a prescription food for urinary tract problems.  In the meantime he paces and meows and dribbles pee on everything.  Blu has reacted to the stress of the situation by barfing all over everything.  And although I carefully mixed the new food with the old so that the change wouldn't upset tummies, they like the new food so well that they picked it out of the bowl and left the other.  End result being stomach upset and Blackberry is now also barfing all over the house.

I woke up this morning with a growling belly and a hungry headache courtesy of yesterday's Ash Wednesday fast.  Before I could get out of bed, Perry jumped up, slid under the covers, then crawled up in my arms.  He stretched his paws out and gently patted my face.  Then, after a couple nose licks, he nuzzled my cheek, and with his silky soft head nestled against my face, he fell fast asleep.  I was starving.  I had a headache.  And it was so lovely that I laid there with him for a half hour, unwilling to disturb his nap.

It's as bad as having kids.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

This Isn't a Good Idea

So once upon a time - about 30,000 years ago - a squirrel buried seeds in what would become Siberia.   Scientists have been able to use tissue from plants found in that squirrel burrow to resurrect a viable plant, Sylene stenophylla.

Pretty.  Also still extant in the Russian tundra, so in this case it's not the rebirth of an extinct species.  But folks are all excited - this could be the path to bringing back Ice Age creatures like the wooly mammoth and mastodon.

They shouldn't.  Yes, it would have major, major WOW! factor.  But this isn't their world anymore.  Extinction is perfectly normal.  It always amazes me that the same folks who tout a nature-focused religion completely ignore some of the rules that are imbedded in nature.  Extinction is nature's way of saying that a creature doesn't fit in anymore.  That's true whether it's T. Rex or the dodo - they couldn't survive in the world that developed around them.  And any creature that has gone extinct that is brought back will immediately be non-native species.

We've had lots of experience with non-native species:

Rabbits were introduced to Australia as food in the 19th century - they are enormously destructive, creating "the grey blanket" over Australia with their numbers.

Kudzu, the "vine that ate the south", was introduced as an ornamental and for erosion control - now it suffocates the forests of the American South and has been found in Canada.

Nutria were brought into the country as fur animals - they are a major destruction force in American wetlands.

Brown tree snakes were accidentally introduced into Guam in the early 1950s - they have now wiped out at least 12 endemic bird species and are hitching rides into other islands.

The water hyacinth, an ornamental plant from South America, has choked waterways all over the globe, killing fish and other plants, and causing native peoples to starve to death because they can't get through the waterways that act as their roads to food.

I'd love to see a mastodon, a saber-toothed cat, a giant sloth.  But this isn't their world anymore, and no matter how well meaning the actions that would bring them back into it, that action would eventually have repercussions.  We've had enough examples of those sorts of repercussions that we should know better by now.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Range Therapy

Any other old folks out there remember this?

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

Well, my M1 and I are VERY happy together:

Muddy but ha ha the possible storm for Sunday missed us completely and Monday was nice and clear and warmer than expected - a great day for shooting.  Murphy's Law ran me through move and shoot drills with the M1 - you can see the shot pairs on the target.  That was fun - add a couple days a week of heavy yard work and who the heck needs a gym?  And if ML's bowling pin thought it had a hard life being knocked down by bowling balls, it needed to rethink because life as a target for a shotgun and a rifle definitely isn't easier. 

 And just when we thought 340 Defense had some class, some mutual friends showed up.

With a whole bunch of .45 caliber ammunition and a couple 1911s.  Which they generously allowed me to shoot.  Somebody who shall remain nameless had shot up all the 9 mm so I couldn't try the Glock 19 he was using.  I think it was in revenge for the spotting thing...

Then off for wings and beer.  And for me at least an evening of cleaning guns.  As well as contemplation of the idea that I need more guns.  And bigger caliber ones.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Despite it being a lovely day and my having spent lunch break taking an axe to trees and branches knocked down by our freak snow storm last October I still feel... grumpy.  Annoyed.  Aggravated.  Pissy.  Quarrelsome. 

Trying some Mark Knopfler therapy now.  Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Judenrein Alert

CNN's Israeli branch, located in Jerusalem, has "down sized".  And by an odd coincidence, the downsizing means that all of its Jewish reporters have been fired, and only Arab journalists retained.  The office is now officially Judenfrei.  If only Haj Amin al-Husseini and Uncle Adolph could see them now - they'd be so pleased!

Al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, met with Hitler in 1941 to discuss extending the Nazis anti-Jewish program to the Arab world

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Does this sound familiar, given the news of the last couple weeks?
Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.
So wrote Pope Paul VI in his encyclical concerning contraception Humane Vitae in 1968.  

Few people today realize that until 1930 ALL Christian denominations condemned birth control. Indeed, Martin Luther roundly condemned the contraceptive mentality of his own time as an “inhuman attitude, which is worse than barbarous”:
How great, therefore, the wickedness of human nature is!  How many girls there are who prevent conception and kill and expel tender fetuses, although procreation is the work of God!

But the 1930 Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church declared that contraception was acceptable in SOME cases.  Societal pressure turned some cases into ALL cases soon enough, and one by one churches relinquished the ancient Christian teachings on procreation, until of the major denominations only the Catholic Church was left to declare contraception as a deliberate violation of the design of God.

In 1968, Pope Paul VI released his encyclical Humana Vitae, a thoughtful and prayerful declaration of the teachings of the Church concerning contraception.  Far from just a blunt statement of its sinfulness, the document reflects on such issues as moral law and responsible parenthood.  It also reflects on consequences.  When I first read the document 20 years ago, I was particularly struck by this passage, especially the last sentence:
Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

We now live in a society rife with divorce and abuse and desperately unhappy people who have been convinced that sex is a game which will bring them happiness.  We live in a society in which a child is a disease for which prevention has been mandated by the government. How can we read Paul VI's words, and not say that the Church was prophetic?

The full text of Humanae Vitae can be read here.  I highly recommend it; it is not long or particularly difficult.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Roots of Freedom of Religion

It’s amazing how quickly people will toss away the lessons of generations.  Amazing how much the media and a desire to fit in with a particular group influences that.  I get a mental picture of a bobble head sometimes, and I want to say “Polly want a cracker?” because all someone can do is quote the latest media-ocraty and if I poke around a bit it’s clear that all they have is that quote and a belief that repeating it often enough makes it so.  There’s actually no substance behind it, just emotion and catch phrases. Which is why I don’t bother to talk to people much anymore.  Right now I am inclined to be bluntly honest.  And I know from experience that people who can’t articulate an argument on subjects just get angry and nasty with me.  Right now I’d just be nasty right back.

I can’t even comment at length on Obama’s attack on freedom of religion. It just makes me too tired and sad.  No one should be surprised that he’s doing it – a tyrannical regime always has to take down the religion of the people and replace it with the worship of the state.  And of course the bobbleheads that supported the Park 51 project in New York on the basis of freedom of religion are quite happy to see the iniquitous Catholic Church get her comeuppance. 

Since history isn’t taught, the bobbleheads might be surprised at some of the roots of freedom of religion in this country.  True, the Founding Fathers did not want to be forced to support a national church as citizens of Britain were.  But our melting pot had brought the concepts with them generations before the Constitution was written.  I don’t think any story reflects that better than that of the Dutch and of the arrival of the first permanent Jewish settlers in New Amsterdam.

The Dutch owners of the East India Company dreamed of a short cut to Asian wealth when they sent English navigator Henry Hudson across the Atlantic in 1609 to search for a passage above or through the land mass of North America that would allow a ship access to the Pacific and to the eastern coast of Asia.  Hudson didn’t find the riches of spices and silk but he did write to his employers of finding “as fine a river as can be found, wide and deep, with good anchoring ground on both sides” and he promised them “many skins and peltries, martins, foxes, and many other commodities.”   

So the Dutch swallowed whatever disappointment they may have had and claimed an area for trade that comprised all or parts of what became New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, created the Dutch West India Company in 1623, and established a transportation hub for the shipment of timber and furs at the mouth of the Hudson. The first Dutch colonists arrived in the area of “Manahatta” in 1624.  

The settlers for New Netherlands came out of a Europe that had suffered through generations of upheaval and wars of religion.  In 1579 the Protestant provinces of the Low Country - Holland, Zeeland, Groningen, Friesland, Utrecht, Overijssle, and Gelre – united as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands under the Union of Utrecht.  They declared their independence from the House of Hapsburg and their Spanish overlords with the Act of Repudiation in 1581.  The Protestantism of the Dutch was of the Calvinist kind as embodied in the Dutch Reformed Church.  In theory, this was the official church of the Netherlands.  However, the Union of Utrecht, which acted as a de-facto constitution, contained a declaration that was revolutionary for its time:  “Each person shall remain free, especially in his religion…no one shall be persecuted or investigated because of their religion.”  In an era when state religions were brutally enforced, when one Protestant sect battled another, and when Catholic monarchs waged war on everybody else, this was a welcome breath of fresh and free air.  The Netherlands became a refuge for Brownings, Baptists, Walloons, Huguenots, Puritans, and Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews.  At the same time, Dutch merchants were expanding into the New World, fiercely competing with other European powers.  Eventually, among the Dutch holdings was the richest part of the sugar producing areas in the northeast and coastal districts of Brazil.  But the Dutch were abrasive towards the Brazilians, and the Brazilians in turn didn’t think much of Dutch Protestantism.  A revolt ensued - unofficially supported by the Portuguese with men and arms.  The Portuguese did not have the same free-wheeling attitude towards religion and philosophy as the Dutch, and when Recife, Brazil, fell in January of 1654 the Jews of the city fled, fearing that the Portuguese Inquisition was right behind advancing Portuguese troops.

Most of the Jews of Brazil returned to Holland.  Six families, including 13 children, did not.  Perhaps too poor to afford passage back to their homeland, they sailed into the Caribbean instead.  The Spanish authorities wanted no part of them in Jamaica and Cuba.  Barred from those islands, their captain took advantage of the situation and demanded an exorbitant fee to carry them north to the Dutch colony of New Netherlands.  The Dutch Jews had no choice, and if they were poor before then, they were deeply impoverished now. That alone was excuse enough for the governor of New Netherlands, Peter Stuyvesant, to try to bar their entry when they sailed into the capital of New Netherlands, the port of New Amsterdam.  

New Netherlands had defied the standard Dutch pattern of simple outposts and roots had been put down. The upriver settlement of New Orange, later named Albany, sent furs, timber, and, eventually, tobacco down to the port at New Amsterdam, but lack of good oversight and leadership left New Amsterdam in periodic danger of collapse.  One ill-advised attack on the local Native Americans in the 1640s led to a tribal confederation that quickly destroyed many years worth of work and drove all into the safety of Fort Amsterdam at the south end of Manhattan.  The colonists demanded a new governor. The Company obliged in 1647 by sending Peter Stuyvesant, a Frieslander who had lost his right leg while fighting the Spanish in the Caribbean and who had years of experience in hard-headed colonial management. 

New Amsterdam was a hub through which cargo laden ships passed and paid dues and through it access to a rich interior was provided.  The population became ever more polyglot as trade cycled from the Netherlands to West Africa to the Caribbean to New Amsterdam and back to Europe.  Inheriting the tolerance of its parent country, the colony attracted Baptists, Anabaptists, and Familists.  Mennonites, having found the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay Plantation no more welcoming than European countries had been, fled south into the more welcoming population of New Netherlands.  Eventually, the company ordered Stuyvesant to form a municipal government based on the laws of Amsterdam.  New Amsterdam incorporated as a city.  Roads were cobbled, brick houses built, tile roofs installed, a proper wharf was built.  Fear of British incursion led to the building of a palisade along the northern perimeter of the community:  Wall Street ran along it, a roadway now synonymous with business that was built to protect businesses 360 years ago.

All in all, the New Amsterdam of 1654 must have looked a lot like any village of Holland.  But despite the Dutch reputation for tolerance and the rambunctious history of the trading port, the Jews were not exactly welcome.  To begin with, they were broke.  The captain of the St. Catherine had brought them north “on spec”, and he wanted 2,500 guilders for his trouble.  Fortunately, the leader of the local Dutch Reformed Church, Johannes Megapolensis, had pity on them.  He was not happy at their arrival but he kept them from starving.  Still, the captain wanted his pay, and after furniture and belongings were sold several of the newcomers were thrown in jail until the required amount could be raised.

Once the debt was taken care of the little group began to look for housing.  This was horrifying to  Stuyvesant; he protested to the Company and asked to be allowed to expel them.  To be fair, it wasn’t just that Stuyvesant was an anti-Semite.  He didn’t like Lutherans, either.  Or Catholics, or Quakers.  Indeed, his determination to stop Quakers from settling around the town of Vlissingan (Flushing) earned him the rebuke of the Flushing Remonstrance in 1658:  “God is a consuming fire, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” the good fathers of Vlissingan wrote.  And further, “we desire therefore in the case not to judge lest we be judged, neither to condemn lest we be condemned, but rather let every man stand and fall to his own…our desire is not to offend one of his little ones in whatsoever form, name or title he appears in, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist, or Quaker; but shall be glad to see anything of God in any of them.”  The Quakers stayed. 

Megapolensis was willing to keep the Jews from starving, but was not willing to keep them.
His protests were shrugged off.  The West India Company replied that those Jews had suffered “considerable loss … in the taking of Brazil.”  Further, “To effectuate and fulfill your wishes…. Would be somewhat unreasonable and unfair… because of the large amount of capital which they still have invested in the shares of this company.”  The Jews were to be allowed to “travel and trade to and in New Netherlands and live and remain there.”  This must have been a shock:  Stuyvesant had already ordered the Jews expelled.  The Jews stayed instead.  Initially, they were forbidden to own land or houses, open retail stores, trade with Indians, or conduct public prayer services.  Nor were they allowed to join the city militia.  Within a year, however, the directors of the Company had made it clear that they were displeased and many of the restrictions were dropped.

New Netherlands existed as a Dutch colony for another decade.  In September of 1664 an overwhelming force of British ships and soldiers forced Stuyvesant, outgunned and surrounded by colonists who refused to fight, to surrender the colony without a fight.  It gained a new name, New York, in honor of King Charles II’s brother, James, Duke of York.  Life went on, now as British citizens.

The Jewish population in the British colony grew very slowly.  By the Revolution they numbered only around 2,000 – 2,500 out of a total population of 2.5 million.  But Jewish businessmen resented taxation without representation just as much as their Christian counterparts did.  The Jewish community embraced the cause of Liberty and served readily, and surely they must have rejoiced in 1787 at the words of Article VI of the new Constitution: “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”   The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights further cemented religious liberty with “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Finally, after 2,000 years, a small part of an ancient Diaspora was not just tolerated.  They had the same right to worship as everyone else and no one could take that away from them.

It took 2,000 years of suffering for one group of religious to have their right to worship according to the dictates of their consciences codified in a national constitution.  And now so many in the country whose constitution had to be won at an enormous cost of lives so that that step could be taken, that freedom guaranteed, are ready to just throw that away because they neither understand nor care that religion is more than something you do for an hour on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I Guess It Has Some Use

Snow, that is.  The bird feeders are busy today.


Quizikle and Murphy's Law have honored me with a Liebster:

I am much honored!

And it's hard as heck to just pick 5 to send it on to.  I know some have already gotten Liebsters, but, well... Anyway, here goes:

Lagniappe's Lair  - My bud, my teacher, and the first blog I read.

Nobody Asked Me

Way Up North

Guffaw in AZ

Standing Outside Looking In

So now I gotta find everybody's e-mail....

Monday, February 6, 2012

Judged - And Found Wanting

Turns out this is from last August, but it still was entertaining.

Seems one Justin Newberry was driving with his Taurus Judge floating around loaded and unsecured under his car seat.  He stopped suddenly, which caused it to slide out.  As he was rumaging around for it he managed to grab the trigger.  Put a .410 slug through one leg and into the other.

Not to worry - Justin got help quickly enough.  But it wasn't his best day.  A quick look in the car by responding police found marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and several stolen i.d.s.

Several levels of dumbness going on there...

The whole story is here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Unexpected Friday

Dear Mom -

When you took this pic last week you had no idea that today would be a long and expensive day at the vet's. Good thing you love me lots.

Love and kisses on your nose,

Perrry (aka your big eyed baby boy)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhogs and Candlemas Day

So Phil saw his shadow.  Oh well.  A couple years ago he bit the guy that pulled him out - I sympathized with Phil.

"You woke me up for THIS?!"

David over at Musings Over a Pint reminded readers yesterday that Feb. 1 is St. Brigid of Ireland's Feast Day.  Groundhog Day also has roots in Christian tradition - it is also Candlemas Day.

From an article at Accuweather today:
At least as early as the 4th century A.D., Christians in Jerusalem were celebrating the ritual purification of Mary on Feb. 2, 40 days after the birth of Jesus. By the 5th century A.D., it was custom to light candles on this day. On Feb. 2, the clergy would bless candles - symbols of Christ and His association with light - and distribute them to the faithful, who placed one in each window of their home. This important Christian holiday came to be known as Candlemas Day. Not surprisingly, early Christians were well aware that Candlemas Day fell midway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. The weather on this day was as important to them as it was to the ancient Celts.
American Origins
When German settlers arrived in America in the 1700s, they brought with them their Old World beliefs about Candlemas Day, including the idea that if a hibernating animal saw its shadow on Feb. 2, winter would last another six weeks. German settlers in Pennsylvania - known as the Pennsylvania Dutch - found groundhogs living in burrows all over the countryside. These winter hibernators were considered as knowledgeable about the weather as the badgers and hedgehogs of Germany. The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day was written on Feb. 4, 1841, by a Pennsylvania storekeeper named James Morris. In his diary he wrote, "Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas Day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters, and if he sees his shadow, he pops back for another six-weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy, he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate." There was also a popular American saying in the 1800s that went, "If the sun shines on Groundhog Day, half the fuel and half the hay." This means that if the weather is fair on Feb. 2, the second half of winter will be as long and cold as the first, so if you don't have at least half your wood and hay left, there will be lean times ahead for your family and livestock.
 So happy Candlemas Day to all!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Psalm 23 in the Obama Age

Obama is the shepherd I did not want.

He leadeth me beside the still factories.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the bread line,
            I shall fear no hunger, for his bailouts are with me.

He has anointed my income with taxes,
                     My expenses runneth over.

Surely, poverty and hard living will follow me all the days of my life,
         And I will live in a mortgaged home forever.