Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tom and Rudy

Bishop Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, wrote an editorial about Rudy Giuliani, inspired by receiving an invitation to a political fundraiser. Just when you think that every bishop in America is chompin' at the bit to be photographed with some groveling Republican, or vice versa...

"The fundraiser is scheduled for Providence next week. For $500, I could attend a reception with the former New York City Mayor. For $1,500 I could attend a reception with a photo-op... The first thought that came to my mind is that I’m not charging enough for my Confirmation photos!"

It gets better.
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Blue Moon

I found your letter in my mailbox today
You were just checking if I was okay
And if I miss you, well you know what they say
Just once in a very blue moon
Just once in a very blue moon
Just once in a very blue moon
And I feel one coming on soon.

-- Patrick Alger and Eugene Levine

At 9:04 pm Eastern Daylight Time (USA) tonight, the full moon over North America will turn blue. Well, not literally. And not because it's the second full moon within a calendar month, as popular folklore suggests. An article at SkyTonight.com sheds some light -- moonlight, perhaps -- on the subject.

There are also songs that attempt to do the same...

It was on a moonlight night, the stars were shining bright;
And they whispered from on high, your love had said goodbye.
Blue moon of Kentucky, keep on shining,
Shine on the one that's gone and said goodbye.

-- William Smith "Bill" Monroe
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Shift Happens



"You are living in exponential times."

I can now explain the situation I described in a post earlier this month entitled "Got Style?" The clip runs just under seven minutes, with Irish fiddle music from the soundtrack of the movie "The Last of the Mohicans."

T/H to joethorn dot net.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Remember the Alamo?

I don't follow beauty pageants much. Yes, I'm as warm-blooded as the next guy, but I just don't get it. Apparently I'm not alone. At least in this country, they are fading in popularity. Recently it was announced that Country Music Television (CMT) would not be carrying the Miss America Pageant anymore. It might have occurred to someone at the cable channel that such an event had absolutely nothing to do with country music or the lifestyle surrounding it, but I doubt it.

Still, I had to feel sorry for Miss USA this year. The Miss Universe pageant was held in Mexico City last night, and our representative was booed by some of the Mexicans in the audience -- apparently in light of their inability to leave the country they're so crazy about and illegally reside in the country they can't stand. Perhaps they want to continue to dispute territorial claims in the southwestern USA, claims which were settled by an internationally-recognized treaty in the mid-19th century.



Beats the hell outa me.

According to the AFP wire story: "Miss Mexico was also the subject of controversy over her required regional dress which depicted a late 1920s religious rebellion, complete with scenes of the rebels being hanged."

Interesting choice. The story doesn't mention the connivance of elements within the American government, with the help of freemasons bent on persecuting the Church, who attempted to manipulate events during this period of Mexican history. One of those "rebels" was executed by firing squad, a priest named Miguel Augustin Pro. He was beatified several years ago by John Paul II, and his cause for sainthood is going forward.

Oh, back to the beauty contest. The crown eventually went to a Japanese model named Riyo Mori. The Mexicans were jerks about the whole thing. This week's Tip of the Black Hat goes out to Rachel Smith, this year's Miss USA, who kept her chin up even after falling down during the evening gown competition.

Some people just don't know how to treat a lady.
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Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Copyright 2007 by Chris Muir. Used without permission or shame.
Copyright 2007 by Chris Muir. Used without permission or shame.

You can say what you want about whether or not we should be in Iraq (and I've dealt with that one way or another here), but at least we're doing something right. You can read it up close here, or go to the source by clicking on the illustration. This sort of humanitarian aid to an occupied nation is typical of America, and is virtually unprecedented in human history. You got a problem with that?

Oh, and don't forget to pause for a minute at three in the afternoon today.



(LATER TODAY...) While I was out, I stopped in the nearby city of Falls Church to watch the Memorial Day parade. I caught one of my perennial favorites in any parade, a pipe and drum corps. It is a scene played out in towns and hamlets throughout this land of ours. But for those of you who didn't get to see any parade at all, sit back and watch last year's edition from Danbury, Connecticut. The clip is 25 minutes long. Maybe there's a memory in there for you somewhere. (For those who prefer their tributes in smaller doses, click on the "YouTube" signature on the clip; there's more where that one came from.)

God bless America. HOO-rah.
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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sermon for Shut-Ins: Pentecost



“I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.”
-- John 14:15-16,23b-26

His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, gives a brief reflection on the Gift of the Holy Spirit and the founding of Christ's Church.
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Novena: Postlude

Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium.
Amen. Alleluia.


Give them virtue's sure reward;
give them thy salvation, Lord;
give them joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia.


Come, O Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, And enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V: Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created,

R: And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Oh God Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise and to ever rejoice in His consolations, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Eve of Pentecost



In the Last Days
I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
your old men dream dreams...

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Ninth Day: The Fruits of the Holy Ghost

Da tuis fidelibus
in te confidentibus
sacrum septenarium.


On the faithful, who adore
and confess thee, evermore
in thy sevenfold gift descend.


Meditation

The gifts of the Holy Ghost perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Ghost, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Ghost. These fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.

Prayer

Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Thy heavenly fruits, Thy charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Thy inspiration, may merit to be united eternally with Thee in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
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Friday, May 25, 2007



A short film by Jeff Meares -- for this, our Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
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Eighth Day: The Gift of Wisdom

Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.


Bend the stubborn heart and will;
melt the frozen, warm the chill;
guide the steps that go astray.


Meditation

Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is written "all good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands." It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Savior: "Take up thy cross and follow Me, for My yoke is sweet, and My burden light."

Prayer

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all passing joys and satisfactions of the earth. Help me to attain them and possess them for ever. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Red Eye For The Straight Guy (or, I just figured out why I’m a conservative!)

Now I'm playing it real straight,
and yes I cut my hair
You might think I'm crazy,
but I don't even care
Because I can tell what's going on
It's hip to be square.
-- Huey Lewis, 1986

If you look at the blue vs red map from the last presidential election, and it's broken down by precinct or whatever, you'll see in Ohio, that while all the rural areas are red (Republican), all the urban areas are blue (Democrat) -- with one big red exception, and that's Cincinnati (ironically, the home of what was once "The Big Red Machine"). Being from that part of the state, maybe that's why I see the world the way I do.

I found a kindred spirt recently. There's a quirky talk show on Fox News Channel called "Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld." A recent edition of The New York Observer provides a glimpse into the mind of Gutfeld, a man of irreverent and unbridled common-sense, and who really knows how to party.

In other words, a man after my own heart:

While Mr Gutfeld tries to keep the show from idling too long on partisan territory ("They get that 23 hours a day"), his own politics are fairly at home on Fox. He dismisses liberalism as "romantic notions that are false, based on the idea of making yourself look good to other people. That's why most men—Bill Clinton is a good example—are liberal, because they need to get l***. If you look at most left-wing guys, they've made a deal with the devil. They don't really believe that s***-they're going against their own innate nature, because liberalism is anti-man. If you believe that peace and love work, you're not a man, because this world works on war. The only people who respect you are people who are scared of you—and that's why Reagan was a great President. And the idea that you can negotiate with people who want you dead is a complete lie. That's why the left is the most self-absorbed, vanity-driven enterprise. These are people who would rather feel good about themselves at a cocktail party that actually protect people's lives. If you're at a party and you say, 'The war on terror is the most important thing in the world'—you won't get a nod. But if you say, 'Global warming is the biggest threat,' you will get l***."

There was a time when I might have said, well, I'm a conservative because my dad was, and it just sorta stuck. But it's much more than that. And the very notion of what it is to be conservative is burdened with caricatures that bear little resemblance to its true meaning. You see, everybody wants to hang with the cool kids, and the minute they find out you're a conservative, they don't care about the why or wherefore, they fall on their unproven caricatures to make assumptions about you, and before you know it, you can't sit at the cool kids' table anymore.

I'm not a conservative on most political and social issues because I identify with white-bread-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant, golf-club-swinging, power-brokering, banker-lawyer-types. No, not by a long shot. I'm a conservative because I realize the world is the way it is for a reason, and you have to know the reason and deal with it on those terms if you are to prevail. To give you an example "ripped from the headlines," as they say, it would be nice if the leaders of certain Islamic nations and/or movements could sit down with us and we throw them a bone by staying out of their business and that would be the end of it. The problem is, it wouldn't be the end of it. They don't want our friendship; they want our conversion to Islam, or they want us dead. That's what they bring to the table; convert or die. And whatever the more moderate practitioners of Islam may tell you in all sincerity, they're not the ones calling the shots on this deal, and the ones who do, have been very clear on what they want, and what they would do to get it.

You can't reason with people like that. You have to do one of two things. One is to beat them into total submission. Like any schoolyard bully, they won't like it, but they will respect you for it, because it's the only language they understand. The other is to give up your Wilsonian fantasies of empire, and draw a line in the sand that these barbarians would only cross at their peril. (We call such a line "secure borders.") Short of that, hunkering down for long engagements in their home territory is just what they can use to wear us down. They want us to endure discontent at home, with protesters in the streets. This demoralizes the troops, and they all go home making the USA look stupid. Just like Vietnam. They read history books too, you know. They still get their briefs in a knot over something that happened over five centuries ago, as if the Battle of Lepanto happened yesterday. They could be home chasing their many wives, playing with the kiddies, or having an outdoor barbeque (with anything but pork). But oh, no, they're strapping bombs to their kiddies, so the kiddies can go to heaven.

Catholics do the same thing with the Brown Scapular, by the way. It's a lot safer. And not nearly as retarded.

Jane Fonda apparently doesn't read history books, especially where her own name is mentioned, so she didn't learn anything from Vietnam. Otherwise she'd be keeping her damn mouth shut for a change. George Bush didn't learn from it either, or he wouldn't be acting like old "blood and guts" with some other family's kids' blood and guts, while his kids stay home and commute between the Peace Corps and the party circuit. Not a bad life, really. But why do everybody else's kids have to pay for it?

Programs to fight poverty didn't work then, and don't now. I'd like to be compassionate to the poor, I want to see a natural distribution of wealth. I abhor the disparity between haves and have-nots, the greed of corporations that get government subsidies and send American jobs overseas, only to award their big guys with fat-ass year-end bonuses. But giving the poor handouts for life doesn't stop making them poor; it makes them never have to be rich. You've got two, even three generations of families who have been on the dole their whole lives. It's no longer an emergency measure; it's now a bad habit.

Forced busing didn't work. Shuffling white kids to a part of town where mostly blacks lived got the crap beat out of them, and that's about it. (At my Catholic high school in a well-manicured neighborhood on the edge of Cincinnati, the biggest bad-ass types were white guys who went to Catholic school because the nearest public school was nearly all black, and they couldn't very well be the bad-ass there, now, could they?) Shuffling black kids to white schools drew attention to them, and people had to be nice out of guilt, as if people can't discern insincerity. Then they all grow up and are still pissed off at one another. No one knows why. Young black guys envy rap artists who parade in videos wearing oversized jewelry, driving luxurious cars, surrounded by beautiful women, while still being angry about "bitches and ho's" or something or other, I can't tell.

Liberals love to talk about our dwindling resources, global warming and world peace. (Thirty years ago, they were complaining about the coming Ice Age. We appear to have averted that minor crisis somehow.) Their heralds of the message fly around in Gulfstream jets and live in houses with seven bedrooms and seven-car garages -- presumedly one of each for every day of the week. Then you've got liberals in Arlington County, Virgina, who have a Board of Supervisors composed entirely of Democrats, drive big-ass SUVs to go to the Whole Foods Market six blocks away for eggs from organically-grown free-range chickens, pay double the property taxes of five years ago, and tear down affordable housing for yet another luxury condo project. In yet another five years, there will be no place for their maids to live. In ten years, there'll be no place for their policemen or firefighters to live. But they'll all be living in North Carolina by then, where their retirement income isn't taxed, so why should they care?

To be a liberal is more than just to dream, but to live in a dream world, where your heroes are Hollywood celebrities with no discernible job skills, and who can't behave with any semblance of class on television, no matter how well they dress. To be a conservative is to hope for a better world, but also to understand that it won't get better with pop songs about everybody holding hands, pithy slogans, empty promises, ignoring the obvious, or by throwing someone else's money at the problem.

It'll get better when you roll up your own sleeves and take care of your damn self, and occasionally lend a hand to your neighbor without a government program showing you how. If everybody living on your block does that, it's one less neighborhood to worry about.

"You may disagree with me, but you can’t stop watching..."
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"Don't know much about history..."

During my first year at the University of Cincinnati, my professor for "History of Western Civilization" during the fall and winter quarters was a exiled Greek political dissident. His mission in life, when he wasn't chasing young co-eds (in vain), was devoted to stripping us of any love of our Western heritage. I realize the irony, but bear with me. For example, my medieval history textbook was authored by Frederich Engles, who used to hang with Karl Marx -- not one of the Marx Brothers, but the author of The Communist Manifesto. By spring quarter, many of us wised up and got the hell out, thus sparing ourselves from his sympathetic view of the Rosenbergs.

I'll give him credit for this much; he made us read all about the Peloponnesian War.

Closer to the present, EWTN presented an interview last night with Dr Thomas E Woods, author of How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. I have been reading this book off and on in recent months, and I could not recommend it enough. (And yes, he handles the whole Galileo thing very well, thank you very much.) And that was before seeing this interview. An overview of Dr Woods' work appears at his website, "Thomas E Woods dot com," and various reviews appear at Amazon. The latter has some terrific reviews. The bad ones tend to speak for themselves.

If you son or daughter is in a public high school -- or for that matter, damn near any Catholic high school -- MAKE THEM READ THIS BOOK! Better yet, read it along with them. Talk with them about it. (Start with this free download of a sample chapter.) You will thank yourself later, when they're not thanking you.

You'll never look at The History Channel the same way again (unless it's about the Civil War).
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Seventh Day: The Gift of Counsel

Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.


Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
on our dryness pour thy dew;
wash the stains of guilt away.


Meditation

The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must be done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. "Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth."

Prayer

Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Thy holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Thy commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Tiber Revisited

A while back, mwbh commented briefly on some high-profile conversions to -- as well as from -- Catholicism. The news of another one toward Rome has crossed this desk recently, that of Lutheran theologian (Missouri Synod) Peter Koons. Concerning this phenomenon, Josh "the Angry Lutheran" doesn't get it:

I’m especially baffled by guys who read Newman and almost immediately announce that they are headed for Rome. Is there something about his rhetoric that removes a certain type of person’s capacity for critical thought?

The answer would depend on what one means by "critical thought." G K Chesterton once said that the purpose of an open mind is the same as that of an open mouth, which is to shut it down on something solid. Maybe that's how he would have defined it when he became a Catholic.

(If anyone at the Tavern is watching, I am soooo gonna burn at the stake for this. Stay tuned...)
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Sixth Day: The Gift of Understanding

Sine tuo numine
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.


Where thou art not, man hath naught,
nothing good in deed or thought,
nothing free from taint of ill.


Meditation

Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Ghost, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion. By faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive, but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to "walk worthy of God in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God."

Prayer

Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Thy light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of Thee and the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Where Everybody Knows Your ID

Recently, my attention was brought to an article in Wikipedia on the "Membership Lifecycle for Virtual Communities." They are defined as "a group of people that primarily or initially communicate or interact via the Internet, rather than face to face."

I've been participating on e-mail lists and online communities and what-not for over a decade now, ever since I first got a Macintosh in my home with internet access. The first one I signed onto was for fans of, would you believe it, the music and dance of Cape Breton. I got on it quite by accident, and soon got off because I was getting these messages about things that didn't concern me at all. I just wanted to know when a certain band was gonna be in town.

The most contentious lists tended to be those devoted to the classical Roman liturgy, the "Trid Mass," if you will. I have been permanently banned from one very well known list on this subject, not because of any misbehavior, but for advocating what one Cardinal once called "a reform of the reform." Oh yeah, that was Cardinal Ratzinger. He's only the Pope now. Which means that the Moderator would probably have to throw the Pope off his list, or people would complain and Billy Boy would soon lose control of his little imaginary kingdom. Oy vey...

The most obnoxious list I was ever on was for Feeneyites. These are followers of the late Father Feeney, some Jesuit in Boston or thereabouts who interpreted the adage "outside the Church there is no salvation" a bit too narrowly. He was excommunicated, not for his teachings, but for not shutting up. (That's the short explanation, okay, so if you're a Feeneyite, get the hell over it!) Some of his followers have reconciled to Rome, some have not. Those who have not go on their way as if nothing was amiss.

I've been on "Catholic lists" of general interest and conversation, where my role was devoted mostly to brilliant explanations of Catholic belief, and general comic relief. (It's not that I'm a particular pious individual, in case you needed reminding; I just happen to be really good at this.) These fora tend to be dominated by pious twits who don't have much to say, but can't stop saying it. Fortunately they're generally harmless, and well-intentioned. I'm currently on a list of a local chapter of "Voice of the Faithful," a group that believes the Church can be reformed by attacking her, and that victims of clerical sexual abuse are best served by trotting them out in front of news cameras and prolonging their victimhood, a practice with which any experienced therapist would beg to differ. There are a few reasonable participants who make the whole thing bearable, even when they're wrong. There are also a few listmembers pushing sixty who are emotionally stuck in adolescence, having been completely ruined by their glory days in the late 60s and early 70s. I'm mostly in it for the news clippings, and for the great sport of refuting people who don't know nearly as much as they think they do. I generally win, which makes them upset, and being the bunch of angry twits that some of them are, they resort to name-calling, a luxury the moderator grants them because she's also a twit. I don't have that luxury. I don't need it. I'm not a twit.

I also moderate a list devoted to "old-school" Scouting, which has members from all over the world. It's a low maintenance operation, since most people behave. Plus I am a "lurker" on a number of lists which send me announcements about when this artist or that band is going to be on tour and whereabouts.

There are those who suggest that the "weblog" has overtaken e-lists as an electronic medium. They could be right. It is in "group blogs" that the two forms tend to converge. "The Boar's Head Tavern" is a good example of that, where members tend less to write commentary to an audience, than to post to each other. There is also another one, a group of conservative evangelical Christians from (where else?) the South known as "The Thinklings," a name inspired by C S Lewis' "Inklings." They describe themselves as "the seven samurai of the intellectual universe." And who are we to argue? This group is somewhat unique in that their camaraderie was formed in real life, with the internet as an afterthought, as opposed to the other way around. Both BHT and Thinklings are more carefully monitored than discussion forums like "Angelqueen" and "Ornery," and still provide a conversation for all to see, including "lurkers." The latter are people on lists who rarely or never say anything, but who are listening nonetheless. I heard from one recently, who has been following mwbh for the nearly five years of its existence.

(Pardon me while I have a Mark Shea moment right now.)

I wonder if "IMs" or "chat rooms" will be the response of the next generation, once the magic of MySpace wears off and having your business trotted out for the whole world loses its appeal.

I also wonder if we'll ever get to know the people who live next door. In a town like Washington, it's a long shot.
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Fifth Day: The Gift of Knowledge

O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.


O most blessed Light divine,
shine within these hearts of thine,
and our inmost being fill!


Meditation

The gift of Knowledge enables the soul to evaluate created things at their true worth -- in relation to God. Knowledge unmasks the pretense of creatures, reveals their emptiness, and points out their only true purpose as instruments in the service of God. It shows us the loving care of God even in adversity, and directs us to glorify Him in every circumstance of life. Guided by its light, we put first things first, and prize the friendship of God beyond all else. "Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it."

Prayer

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Thy glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to Thee, and Thy eternal rewards. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
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Monday, May 21, 2007

Fourth Day: The Gift of Fortitude

In labore requies,
in aestu temperies,
in fletu solacium.


In our labor, rest most sweet;
grateful coolness in the heat;
solace in the midst of woe.


Meditation

By the gift of Fortitude, the soul is strengthened against natural fear, and supported to the end in the performance of duty. Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and energy which move it to undertake without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face dangers, to trample under foot human respect, and to endure without complaint the slow martyrdom of even lifelong tribulation. "He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved."

Prayer

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in times of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from Thee, my God and greatest Good. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Third Day: The Gift of Piety

Consolator optime,
dulcis hospes animae,
dulce refrigerium.


Thou, of comforters the best;
thou, the soul's most welcome guest;
sweet refreshment here below.


Meditation

The gift of Piety begets in our hearts a filial affection for God as our most loving Father. It inspires us to love and respect for His sake persons and things consecrated to Him, as well as those who are vested with His authority, His Blessed Mother and the Saints, the Church and its visible Head, our parents and superiors, our country and its rulers. He who is filled with the gift of Piety finds the practice of his religion, not a burdensome duty, but a delightful service. Where there is love, there is no labor.

Prayer

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart. Enkindle therein such a love for God, that I may find satisfaction only in His service, and for His sake lovingly submit to all legitimate authority. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
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Sermon for Shut-Ins: Easter VII



Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“Holy Father, I pray not only for them,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one..."
-- John 17:20-26

His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, gives a brief reflection on Jesus' prayer for unity. (For the Seventh Sunday of Easter, NOT Ascension Thursday. Click here to learn why.)
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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Second Day: The Gift of Fear

Veni pater pauperum,
veni dator munerum,
veni lumen cordium.


Come, thou Father of the poor!
Come, thou Source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine!


Meditation

The gift of Fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by Sin. It is a fear that arises, not from the thought of hell, but from sentiments of reverence and filial submission to our heavenly Father. It is the fear that is the beginning of wisdom, detaching us from worldly pleasures that could in any way separate us from God. "They that fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and in His sight will sanctify their souls."

Prayer

Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set Thee, my Lord and God, before my face forever; help me to shun all things that can offend Thee, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of Thy Divine Majesty in heaven, where Thou livest and reignest in the unity of the ever Blessed Trinity, God world without end. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
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Friday, May 18, 2007

T-ShirtHumor.com

I had a dream last night. I was a kid back home in Ohio. Fortunately, this didn't happen.
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"I read the news today, oh boy..."

• Pay it again, Sam. At a little grocery store in Emo, Ontario (population 1186), they found a way to compete with Wal-Mart. They simply purchase goods from Sam's Club (owned by Wal-Mart, of course), and even with a mark-up, resell the items at a lower price than the big box store. This writer doesn't see the problem with the big boys getting beat at their own game. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, is not amused. And we're all supposed to care, right? (From the Globe and Mail, via GirlHacker.)

• And speaking of beating someone at their own game... A female student from UCLA posed as an underage victim of statutory rape, while visiting an abortion clinic run by Planned Parenthood. They told her to lie about her age to avoid making waves. She got it on tape. A spokesman for PP called the ruse "manipulative." (Uh-huh.) They're threatening to sue her -- probably for definition of character. (From Cybercast News Service.)

• "I'd lose my head if it wasn't screwed on tight enough." Yours truly heard that expression as a boy. Now a woman in Denver is having that problem in real life. She was critically injured in January, when a car crash slammed her head into the dashboard. According to the story, "her skull separated from her spine, although her skin, spinal cord and other internal organs remained intact." The result is a rare condition known as "internal decapitation." Although she has problems with swallowing and eye movement, the doctors say it's a miracle she's still alive. (From the Associated Press via MSNBC.)

• And last but not least, the little engine that could. India has one of the world's largest rail systems, hauling more than 14 million passengers daily. Recently one of the trains stalled when an electrical connection snapped. The driver appealed to the passengers to get out an push the train to the next electricity pole about 60 yards away. They did. Then it fired up, and they continued on their way. Another tribute to the power of teamwork. (From the Associated Press.)
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First Day: The Holy Ghost

Veni Sancte Spiritus
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.


Come, thou Holy Spirit, come,
and from thy celestial home
shed a ray of light divine!


Meditation

Only one thing is important -- eternal salvation. Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared -- sin. Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love. With His sevenfold gifts, He enlightens the mind, strengthens the will, and inflames the heart with love of God. To ensure our salvation, we ought to invoke the Divine Spirit daily, for "The Spirit helpeth our infirmity. We know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself asketh for us."

Prayer

Almighty and eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given us forgiveness of all our sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us Thy sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
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Novena: Prelude

The Church was born on the Jewish feast of the Pentecost, a birth which was preceded by a novena. After the ascension of Christ into heaven, Mother Mary and the Apostles (and according to tradition, a group totalling about 120) remained sequestered in the Upper Room for nine days, awaiting the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:14)

From the Latin word "novem," meaning "nine," a novena is a prayer that is repeated for nine days, after which, according to pious belief, special graces are obtained. Fisheaters elaborates on the devotion, and gives a complete listing of popular novenas for any and all occasions.

The novena to Saint Jude may be the most popular, as he is the patron saint of hopeless causes. Many a Catholic has found a holy card or slip of paper in the pew with the prayer written on it, left by a pious soul whose intention was granted. One of them was the late entertainer Danny Thomas, whose devotion to the saint moved him to found the children's hospital that bears the saint's name.

mwbh will present a form of the original novena, that which is devoted to the Holy Spirit, over the next nine days. Stay tuned...
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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hail Which Festival Day?



Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension, when Christ ascended into Heaven forty days after He rose from the dead.

Then again...

In most provinces of the USA, and in entire countries throughout the world, the Feast has been moved to the following Sunday. We could just leave well enough alone, and transfer the obligation itself to the Sunday within the octave of the Feast, but the Western church got rid of many of its octaves in the mid-1950s, and a few more since then. You'd have to explain to people what an octave is, and that is such a pain. So today will be remembered as just another Easter weekday.

But it doesn't matter, really. After all, most biblical scholars agree that Jesus ascended into Heaven forty-three days after He rose from the dead, not forty days as previously believed. The number of forty was arrived at by the end of the third century, to make it easier for Christians to count the days after Easter on their fingers and toes and double the total. But we're so much more sophisticated now, and we can use calculators to count that high, or have our Blackberries remind us.

And if you believe all that, moving a Feast Day to a Sunday because we're all too damned lazy to go to Mass on a weekday (or a weeknight) makes about as much sense.
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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tintin

TintinVariety reports on a new collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson:

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are teaming to direct and produce three back-to-back features based on Georges Remi's beloved Belgian comic-strip hero Tintin for DreamWorks. Pics will be produced in full digital 3-D using performance capture technology.

I never had the opportunity to read these stories as a boy, but saw the books around now and then, and have always been curious. Now, the chance to be a kid again. This could be fun. (H/T to Richard at BHT.)
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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fred: My Next President?



Fred Dalton Thompson, former Senator from Tennessee and the no-nonsense district attorney on NBC's Law and Order, has something to say to Michael Moore, filmmaker and fat-@$$. While chomping on a cigar.

Go ahead, Hilary, make his day!
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Jerry Falwell...

...televangelist and founder of Liberty University, is dead at 73.
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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day



I called home to Ohio today. Mom saw her great-granddaughter for the first time. To all mothers out there, the staff and management of mwbh wishes you the happiest of Mother's Days.

(The clip above bears no resemblance to my family. My little brother and I both know how to put on a tie. And I can still whoop him if I have to.)
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Sermon for Shut-Ins: Easter VI



Jesus said to his disciples:
“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him
and make our dwelling with him..."
-- John 14:23-29

His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, reflects on Jesus' promise to send the Holy Spirit.
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Saturday, May 12, 2007

“The boar’s head in hand bear I..."

"...Bedecked with bays and rosemary.
And I pray you, my masters, be merry.
Quot estis in convivio.”




I believe it was C S Lewis who once wrote, that in the present divided state of Christendom, those at the center of their particular confessions would have more in common with one another, than they would with those on the fringes of their own. After putting in some time on free-for-all Catholic lists (and you know who you are), I can believe it. And if we look at the nature of God and His universe in more than one-dimensional terms, we can believe it all the more.

Recently, I don't remember how I found it, but I did, in the form of The Boar's Head Tavern. As I am to understand, it has been a challenge to retain a Catholic on their roster. But what of it? Can the experience possibly be any more difficult than that of the anti-Catholics who remain obstensibly attached to Rome, if for no other reason than to command an audience of such magnitude as we possess (one-fifth of the USA and one-sixth of the world, at last count)? And if we contemplate what Jack Lewis had to say on the matter of our divisions, it seems to me that true ecumenism begins when you are honest with yourself about what you believe, and can be equally honest with that fellow who believes differently. There can be no growth without pain, and the fruit of well-founded rigor, in the long run, is the plea rooted in the Gospel, "that all may be one."

My introduction to the company of "separated brethren" can be found here. They shouldn't mind my calling them that. In centuries past, they've been referred to as much worse. And from what I've read so far, a couple of them are at pains to refer to "papists" any more kindly.

Wish me luck.

“Caput apri defero, reddens laudes Domino.”
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Friday, May 11, 2007

T-ShirtHumor.com

As we all know, Mother's Day is this Sunday.

Paul's mother used to work as a waitress in her younger days. She would strictly admonish against her being feted at a restaurant that day, having seen too many instances of otherwise estranged sons attempting to ingratiate themselves to the women who gave them birth, on that solitary day of the year, in such a manner.

Fortunately, "Sal" doesn't care. And her three girls won't be in the States to do the honors, so the task will fall to yours truly. She even gets to pick the restaurant.

And in case you don't realize just what Mothers everywhere are truly worth to us, look no farther than this little clip from Reuters:

If the typical stay-at-home mother in the United States were paid for her work as a housekeeper, cook and psychologist among other roles, she would earn $138,095 a year, according to research... This reflected a 3 percent raise from last year's $134,121, according to Salary.com Inc, Waltham, Massachusetts-based compensation experts.

I called my Mom back in Ohio about this when I first read it, and it made her day. Be sure and make your mother's day this Sunday, or face the distinction of being an ungrateful little @#$%!!!
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"Oh say, can you, uh, see?"

Screen capture image from the CBS television series
Screen capture image from the CBS television series "Jericho." Copyright 2007 by CBS Television. All rights reserved. Used without permission or shame.

Those of us who have become slaves to the CBS drama Jericho were glued to our sets last Wednesday night for the season finale. We would have seen Heather Lisinski (Sprague Grayden), after being rescued by a USA military patrol, looking around their encampment and seeing this alternative design of the American flag.

One effect of the internet, is that guys like me get to indulge their tangents, while doing otherwise productive research, with a minimum of a break in momentum. I did a little digging, and learned that this design is based upon the so-called "US Civil Flag of Peace Time," which is similar to the design once flown at US Customs houses. Its history has also spawned an urban myth that this design is the true basis for this nation's flag. If you agree, you can buy one here. It should be noted, however, that vexillologists have more or less put this theory to rest.

While an intriguing concept, I won't be getting my own copy of this permutation, unless it becomes an icon for the cult following that Jericho is sure to generate -- you know, like Star Trek.
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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Does The Tiber Flow Both Ways?

Earlier this year, the Catholic blogosphere was all a-twitter with the news that Dallas Morning News columnist Rod Dreher had converted from the Catholic faith to Eastern Orthodoxy. Many self-made pundits questioned his motives, his sincerity, his good sense. Some might have even gone out on a limb and prayed for him and his family. The world may never know.

This past week, the coffee-and-donuts-hour at St Blog's has been buzzing with two conversion stories. Francis Beckwith, professor of philosophy at Baylor University, resigned as president of the Evangelical Theological Society, and shortly thereafter, announced his return to the Catholic faith of his youth. Meanwhile, former Lutheran pastor Bill Cork, of the weblog named (the last time we looked) Built On A Rock, found himself building on sand after several weeks of somewhat contentious entries -- to say nothing of high-handedness in his comments boxes -- only to return to the Seventh-Day Adventism of his youth.

There is already an interview with Beckwith in Christianity Today. If all goes according to plan (or at least the usual force of habit), his next stop is the Catholic radio yakkity-yak circuit. After that, the palace -- EWTN!!!

And he hasn't even written his book yet. There will be a book. Trust me.

There comes a point in any mass medium, when it ceases to be a means of passing along the news of the day, only to become pre-occupied with its inhabitants. This has already happened to the 24/7 news channels. It is good to rejoice with the Angels and Saints when a soul is brought into the Faith. But what of assigning motives to those who lose it? Faith is a gift from God, and the consistent teachings of the Magisterium of the Church notwithstanding, it is ultimately a matter between the man and his Maker. If solace can be found in the internal forum that is the confessional, so much the better. But alas, grace must build upon nature, and our human frailties only serve us to a point.

"I believe, O Lord; help my unbelief."
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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The View From Kansas

A home in Greensburg, Kansas, was damaged by the most powerful tornado to hit the USA in eight years. (Associated Press)
A home in Greensburg, Kansas, was damaged by the most powerful tornado to hit the USA in eight years. (Associated Press)

In the wake of the recent tornadoes in the state of Kansas, Governor Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, claims the Kansas National Guard has depleted resources to respond, some of them having been deployed in Iraq. This came as a surprise to Republican Presidential candidate and fellow-Kansan Sam Brownback, who did a little digging himself. It seems the Guard is confident they have whatever they need to respond to the situation. At least that's what the state adjutant general is saying:

"We've been over the town twice now — all of our partners around the state, the experts from cities with technical search-and-rescue," Maj Gen Todd Bunting, the state's adjutant general, told CNN Monday morning. "We've done everything we can.

"Some of this rubble is 20, 30 feet deep. That's where we've spent all our efforts, and we'll do it again today."


So what the hell is Sebelius talking about?

For an informed discussion, you need to go beyond in the mainstream media to Confederate Yankee for the straight stuff:

While it was no doubt comforting to have the additional manpower and equipment from the National Guard available, it is the state and local emergency personnel with trained search-and-rescue experts that are our best resources for this and similar situations.

Despite an inaccurate claim made by Sebelius on CNN, National Guard soldiers are not first responders, and they never have been. National Guardsmen can only be called to duty in governor-declared states of emergency, or federally, by presidential order.

Our first responders were, and remain, our local and state police, fire, and rescue units. The National Guard is now, and has always been, a reserve force.


You would think Madame Governor would already know that. But when everything hits the fan, some people look to Washington to blame for everything, even acts of God. Look what it did for Louisiana.

mwbh cannot recommend CY highly enough, for getting the story behind the story, and providing astute analysis. Nor can we ignore an opportunity to get on the horn to The American Red Cross.

Click on the image below to lend a hand.



[UPDATE MAY 12: Did Howard Dean order Governor Sebelius to lie about FEMA's response to the Greensburg tornado? The plot thickens...]
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A Guide to Gregorian Chant



A new Gregorian Chant CD has been released to help average parishioners, choir directors and choir members, and music teachers and their students learn some of the basic chants of the Church.

The Diocese of Arlington has played a significant role, at the grassroots level, in the recovery of the sacred in Catholic worship. Many parishes are long acclamated to the singing of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, as called for (whether certain people believe it or not) by the Second Vatican Council. It is also increasingly common for celebrants to chant certain portions of the Mass that were heretofore spoken, even in situations with music. This would include the orations (collect, prayer over the gifts, postcommunion prayer) and the Preface Dialog.

The CD was first developed as part of a workshop for music teachers in the Arlington Diocese to assist them with teaching chant in their classrooms. Many of them have found it very helpful to have a resource that provides spoken pronunciation tracks, as well as the sung chants. The accompanying CD booklet also lists keywords (words in English that are related to the Latin words used in the chants) and the lyrics and translations of the twenty-five chants on the CD. The CD was developed by Rosemary Reninger, the music director for St Veronica Catholic Church in Chantilly, Virginia, who was also the music teacher for the parish school during its first two years.

A Guide to Gregorian Chant is designed especially for parochial schools, CCD classes, and home schooling families. Selections were tailored to specific needs, and allowing for degree of difficulty. So while the Gloria is not included, as it is not usually sung on a school day, Veni Creator Spiritus is, as preparation for the Rite of Confirmation. There are also other seasonal chants for use throughout the year. The result is an affordable resource with a proven record of success.

The CD is available at http://store.stveronica.net. The description lists the chants included on the CD, along with a sample track. While it costs $21.95 for those not in the parish boundaries, there is a 30% discount for CMAA members. To receive the discount, register to use the store and e-mail rreninger at stveronica dot net to have your membership status changed to CMAA member (otherwise, you will see the out-of-parish price). Funds from the project benefit the music program at St Veronica Catholic Church (http://www2.stveronica.net).
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Monday, May 07, 2007

"G'Day" Revisited

Late last week, mwbh reported on Dom Bettinelli's experience taking his little Isabella for a walk. The conversation appears to have evolved, into a comparison of the degree to which "the natives are friendly" in one portion of the USA or another, and why. Particularly interesting to yours truly, was this comment from a "Downeasterner" named Liam:

Many celebrities love to hang out in New England because, it is at least said often, New Englanders are less likely to go gaga over them than elsewhere... And we are somewhat more formal than elsewhere too. I can vividly recall when clerks at Jordan Marsh were told to start addressing customers by their first names, and the negative reaction by many (not all) to what was perceived as manipulative familiarity... Good fences make good neighbors, stone walls and all that. Amid the stereotypes lurk some truths. But many of us *like* it that way. As my friends from the South who’ve lived here note, it’s often harder to make friends among New Englanders but the friendships that are made tend to be deeper and longer-lasting than those they’ve made elsewhere...

When I go back Ohio, even after over a quarter-century, it feels as though I never left. I can pick up with neighbors, school chums, professional colleagues, even strangers, right where I left off.

In a later comment, Liam observes that while some parts of the country seem friendlier on the surface -- the Southwest being a case in point, and he may be on to something there -- it is New Englanders who are more likely to help neighbors in need. Indeed, interdependency is a distinctive trait of life in that region. The "town meeting" form of governance is unique to New England, and provides a lesson for the rest of the country, if not the world, on the role of local self-reliance as the best form of government. A book by Frank Bryan entitled "Real Democracy: The New Englahd Town Meeting and How It Works" provides a close study of the town meeting phenomenon as one of the purest forms of American democracy.

(Speaking of walking your little children, did I ever mention that by the time Paul was four years old, two women had already come up to me and offered to buy him?)
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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sermon for Shut-Ins: Easter V



“Now is the Son of Man glorified,
and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and God will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you
only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment..."
-- Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35

His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, reflects on Jesus' commandment of love for one another.
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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Somebody Say "G'day"

Dom of Bettnet talks about people's reactions to his little Isabella, as he and his young family go for a walk:

"Something we both noticed is how people ignore her. Now, we’re not those parents who think everyone should go ga-ga over their baby. That’s not what I’m referring to... [N]early all of them treated her like a fire hydrant, just stepping briskly around her without a glance or even a smile... I suppose it might be a New England thing, but I have a feeling it’s just another symptom of a culture that no longer values children..."

...or a culture of people who are too paranoid that every adult they don't know is going to snatch their children on the basis of just looking at them. We are taught as children not to talk to strangers, but the reality is, it's only a risk when the parents aren't around.

A few years ago, early in the evening, I took a Southwest Airlines flight to Seattle. It's open seating with them, and I prefer one by the window. The only choice I got was next to a young mother nursing an infant -- and trying to control a two-year-old boy. In the five hours from Chicago to "Sea-Tac," we watched the lights of the Windy City, read the same Dr Seuss book four or five times, played silly games, and looked at pictures in the airline magazine. Eventually, and as I expected, he fell asleep. I arrived at my destination with a new pal, and a grateful young mother. (I gave her my extra snack box, as I figured she'd have a use for it.)

I talk to dogs, cats, and little kids on the sidewalk all the time. Little toddlers look at you, and they like the stimuli of an adult talking back at them. If you don't touch them, and make sure the parents are watching, and if those parents are not jerks, you're okay.

Dom might be right about New England. I've visited the area before. The weather is freezing in the winter, and many of the natives aren't much warmer throughout the year. I suppose it's just a holdover from the English sense of inhibitions. That, or they just think you're going to move in from New Jersey and raise property taxes.

The friendliest people in America, I have found, tend to be in the South, or the Midwest. Their life also tends to run at a slower pace. People in Washington are often hard to get to know, often due to a collective sense of self-importance. I was here for twenty years before I really started making friends who would return my phone calls within a day or two. (Yes, that is pathetic.)

Among the comments at Bettnet is one from LaVallette in Australia. If the ones living in Washington are any indication, Australians are the friendliest people in the world. What's up with that?
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Friday, May 04, 2007

T-ShirtHumor.com

So, it's time for spring cleaning, and you'll never guess who decides on a road trip out of town.
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Got Style?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

When you read a web page, like this one, it is put together using a language called HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). Web designers -- I'm referring to professionals here, not the wannabes doing volunteer work -- must become proficient in writing and understanding such code, rather than merely using page-layout software such as Dreamweaver or FrontPage. In addition, there has emerged the existence of what are called "cascading style sheets," or CSS. Rather than assign styling attributes to the text "in line", a separate portion of the web page defines these styles, so they can be altered globally from one file.

In the last three or four years, the role of CSS in web design has risen in prominence. This has occurred hand-in-glove with what developers call "standards compliance," a means of writing code so that a site can be read on all major browsers -- Firefox, Internet Explorer, Netscape, among others -- with equal compatibility. An international standards group known as "W3C" has labored to ensure voluntary compliance. (Sites that guarantee such compliance show the association's trademark at the bottom of their home pages.) Without the means to truly enforce industry trends, it has been an uphill battle, but necessity and higher expectations for design and usability are helping them win the day.

To this end, the existence of "external CSS" has become the norm, whereby a link in the HTML page code refers to a separate file with a ".css" extension. Why should a webmaster go through every page of a site, when he can simply go to one independent file and make global changes even more effectively?

This development still leaves us with the use of tables, to align text and images both vertically and horizontally. Even with external style sheets and javascript code, "table rows" and "table data" cells are still applied in-line, even to most professional web sites.

And so, the next phase of development is emerging, known as "CSS-based layout." At this level, all parameters of appearance, placement, and presentation are contained in the external CSS file. Working only with a plain-vanilla text file on a web page, the designer can apply any number of different style sheets any number of different ways.

The model of choice for demonstrating this capability can be found at the CSS Zen Garden, (http://www.csszengarden.com). Serious web designers are invited to appropriate the plain text version of the main page, and submit style sheet solutions of their own. Numerous examples of other aspirants are provided at this site. The variation of results is most impressive. The point is, NONE of the text of the site is changed; only the appearance.

External files are particularly useful with programming languages such as Javascript. Serious hackers find it harder to brake proprietary code -- thereby interrupting the flow of e-commerce -- that cannot be read by clicking on "source" in the "view" menu. In addition, elaborate coding sequences and database links embedded in a ".js" file, can also be altered to meet changing client needs, without disrupting the appearance of a large and multi-faceted corporate site.

From the time I entered the Art Institute in the fall of 2004 to the present, the "state of the art" went from internal style sheets with table cells to external CSS-based layout without a "tr" (table row) or "td" (table data) in sight. Being a part-time student, there emerged a gap between my learning the old way of a few years ago, and what is being expected of me now. Even in the space of only three years, this has now come to bite me in the hind-quarters in my studies of scripting languages. I have spent the last five weeks, effectively trying to grasp two subject matters in a course alloted to only one. Both cannot be taught effectively in such a setting, and with mid-term grades due out next week, yours truly finds himself transformed from an honor student with a 3.8 GPA, to a would-be slacker in serious jeopardy. Fortunately, a serious sit-down session with the department head, and a three-way conversation with the professor, betrayed a situation that was allowed to get out of hand too easily, and not necessarily at the fault of the student. So they're going to work with me to dig my way out of this. I get to sit in on a CSS class on Saturdays for the next several weeks, and every week, I'll report to my professor on how I'm catching up on programming.

Even if I end up withdrawing before the end without penalty, and taking the class over in the fall, I will have gotten what I would have had to pay someone to give me anyway. In any case, it's even more work now, and much less disappointment in the end.

It shouldn't have come to this, but it did. One reason why your prayers have been appreciated. The others will come in due course, as we "gird our loins" for the job that needs to be done.
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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Oremus

In the nearly five years that mwbh has been in operation, I do not believe I have ever made this sort of request of my readers. (Either of them.) Nevertheless, I am asking for "a wee bit o' prayer" on my behalf today.

There are some major decisions I may have to make in the next couple of weeks that will affect my academic life, and quite possibly my career. Things have become unusually difficult of late, and the challenge has begun to take its toll on me. I am also contemplating a serious change in the exercise of my apostolate work. I have been asked to take on a responsibility sooner than I would have expected. I do not wish to refuse it, but it will involve a serious commitment on my part. Finally, and perhaps most important, I have a decision to make concerning my household, one that could affect my relationship with my son for the foreseeable future.

I cannot ask for the cleverness to get around these challenges -- it is from these tests that saints are known to be made -- only the grace and fortitude to get through them.

That, and a chance to get a decent night's sleep now and then.
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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day

Photo from CNN.com
Photo from CNN.com

From The Old Farmer's Almanac: "Ancient spring rites that related human fertility to crop fertility gave birth to most modern May Day festivities..." In the photo above, a crowd gathers in Orlando, Florida -- not to welcome in the spring, but for an immigration rally.

This would explain the absence of a Maypole.
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