Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Technical Difficulties

I presently cannot sign into my own blog without rolling into some innocuous "placeholder" site.

Obviously I have been hacked. Attempts to change the password have proven futile. Until this is resolved (and I will let you know when that is), I cannot be responsible for subsequent content. Stay tuned ...

UPDATE 1: So far it has been determined that it happens at work -- hey, they give us lunch breaks, okay? -- and on my smartphone, but not at home. If you are not getting "" and a couple of you let me know that all is well. Until then ... well, so what if I like the Van Halen version better!?!

UPDATE 2: Well, now it happens regardless of where I am. The office, my house, the public library. And my number of visitors is down. I've sent a message to, who might respond sometime this year with a link to daily messages that tell me everything but what I really want to know. This may call for drastic action. Individual posts can still be accessed, but NOT THE MAIN PAGE. That's not acceptable. Once again, stay tuned ...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Obligatory “New Roman Missal” Diatribe

Why, oh why, our devoted readers must wonder, have we not joined the others who have, over the last year, beaten into the ground the news of the revised English translation of the Roman Missal?

Indeed, this subject has been hashed and re-hashed in the Catholic press over the last year, not to mention the Catholic blogosphere. Our more recently-arrived readers wouldn't know this, but it's old news here at man with black hat. We were researching this subject in the late 1980s, when all "conservative Catholics" wanted to do was whine about not having the "Tridentine" Mass. Closer to the present, we were reporting on it way back in June 2006, and again even earlier in September 2005 -- here and here.

There is a series of articles in the works, but among what we hope to accomplish here at The Black Hat Corral, is tell you what some others are NOT telling you. For example, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wants you to believe that ...

In 2002, Pope John Paul II introduced a new edition of the Missale Romanum (editio typica tertia, the "third typical edition" [since the Second Vatican Council]) for use in the Church. Soon after, the complex work of translating the text into English began.

... when in fact, the process actually began nearly twenty years earlier. That's because then they would have to admit, that they were stupid enough to let the aging-hippie academicians and liturgical iconoclasts loose on the project, to the point where the Holy See had to finally step in and make them start over. Now I ask you, have the Usual Suspects in Catholic blogdom taken time away from ring-kissing long enough to you that? Of course not. Most of them don't know jack about liturgy, beyond what they've read in Our Sunday Visitor in the past year.

There was a "final" version in 2008, but some of the texts were translated from the original rather awkwardly, and there were also hundreds of typographical errors* -- with a publishing job this big, it can happen -- so some of what you read in the above links was tweeked a bit for the absolutely final version in 2010. The entire magnum opus becomes effective on the First Sunday of Advent this year -- Saturday evening or Sunday morning, the 26th or 27th of November. (Wanna take a little peak? Go ahead, click on it. You know you want to.)

At the rate we're going, our series could look something like this:

I: Introduction
II: The (Short Version of the) Low Down
III: The Penitential Rite
IV: The Gloria
V: The Liturgy of the Word
VI: The Nicene Creed
VII: The Presentation of the Gifts (Offertory)
VIII: The Eucharistic Prayer (Consecration)
IX: Communion: The Lord's Prayer
X: Communion: Agnus Dei
XI: The Blessing and Dismissal
XII: Critical Issues

Right now you're thinking: “O Great Black-Hatted One, we read all the stuff from the other blogs. What could you possibly bring to the table that isn't already sitting there?” Ah, dear minions, once again you assume the Usual Blogospheric Suspects have something unique to say when they all say the same thing, and only in the last year when everybody else was saying it. Why put yourselves through that again, when you know how we consistently shed new light on various and sundry topics here at mwbh? This writer has been studying this subject for nearly thirty years. That's so long ago, some of you weren't even born. In fact, that's so long ago, Father Zuhlsdorf was still a Lutheran! (And here you bought the party line from the bishops that this only started in the last decade. It is to LAUGH!)

Then there's another thing they don't tell you. It is not the entire Roman Missal that has been re-translated, but that which is known as the "Sacramentary," the book used by the celebrant on the altar for the Mass. What we know as the entire Roman Missal also includes the Lectionary (book of readings), and the various occasional services for the other sacraments. Those are all in separate books. But they had to call this one the "Roman Missal" so you could tell it apart from the old one. You see, dear reader, it's all in the packaging.

We ask so little, and we give so much. Stay tuned ...

* This did not stop the South African bishops from implementing the 2008 version early. Now they still have to change it again. Real smooth move, guys.

(PHOTOS: Exterior and interior previews of the edition to be produced by Liturgy Training Publications, provided here without permission or shame.)

Monday, August 29, 2011

“I read the news today, oh boy ...”

Uncle Jay reports that in the past week, "the earth shook, the sky swirled, the waves crashed, and Beyonce is pregnant!"

In other news ...

Adam Wilson of the Cardinal Newman Society reports that the majority of Catholic college websites do not have the identifier "Catholic" on their home pages. Given how they describe the state of Catholic higher education, one wonders why they make that sound like a bad thing.

In Batavia, New York, a man's colorful golfing attire was mistaken for a clown outfit, and he was cited for drunk driving. Naturally, there's more.

A report from Berlin says that an eight-year-old boy was left in a school bus by the driver. It was rather hot that day, but by the end of it, the boy was found. He rationed his school lunch to last the whole night. Police are investigating the driver for possible negligence. Wow, ya think?

Finally, police in the town of Elsloo, Netherlands, "battled for over an hour Monday to clear traffic on a main motorway after a cash-in-transit van lost a money trunk, showering the road with 10-, 20- and 50-euro bills." And here all this time I thought money grew on trees.

For now, that's all the news that fits. Ah, but the week is still young. Stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

“Come in, she said, I’ll give you shelter from the storm ...”

Are you looking for a shelter with the onset of Hurricane Irene. Use your mobile phone, to text...

SHELTER + your ZIP code

... to 43362. You will receive an automated reply as to the nearest emergency shelter. Pack an overnight bag, and bring a rosary.

(This information courtesy of the US Dept of Homeland Security, carried here as a public service.)

Watching Irene

... and you can too. This interactive map at The Weather Channel allows the viewer, not only to track the path of Hurricane Irene, but determine its time of arrival and relative strength. (It's already dying down, and is now at Category 1. Any lower and it's a "tropical storm.") The writer learned that Irene will pass to the east of DC, just off the Atlantic coast, by about three in the morning on Sunday. The winds should just about reach forty miles per hour. What is left of the eye of the storm will not hit land until it reaches northern New Jersey at eight in the morning.

Meanwhile, here's some great advice on emergency preparedness from the guy who was mayor of New Orleans during Katrina. Oh yeah, this guy actually wants another fifteen minutes.

He can have it.

The envelope, please!

Well, the nominations for the Catholic New Media Awards were closed yesterday, and we ignored the whole thing. But we here at man with black hat would like to take a moment and thank our devoted readers for ignoring it right along with us, as we were not nominated in any category.

Now, on to the grocery store to stock up on toilet paper and white bread. Irene is coming ...

Friday, August 26, 2011

No More Lasses Serving The Masses?

Recently, the rector of the Cathedral parish in Galveston, Texas, announced that he would be limiting altar service to males only, citing the role as a means of fostering priestly vocations. Could this be the start of a trend?

IMAGE: St Stephen's Church, Hamilton OH, 1934

Relax, kids, it isn't gonna happen anytime soon. But according to Father Zuhlsdorf, if William Oddie of The Catholic Herald in the UK had his way, the role of acolyte (altar server) would once again be restricted to boys and men.

One of the guests at dinner one evening was Archbishop André Vingt-Trois of Tours (now Cardinal Archbishop of Paris). The subject of conversation at one point was the way in which, in the local Parish Church, presumably in an attempt to involve women in the celebration of the Mass, not only were all the readers women but so also were all the servers girls; my wife (not I) compared it to a farmyard, with the priest as the cock strutting about in the middle of a flock of hens.

IMAGE: St Andrew's Boys Choir, Milford OH, December 1966. The author is third from the right.

Thankfully, it gets better.

Until about the mid-1990s, I was in favor of using female altar servers, albeit reluctantly. A handout prepared by Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio for the 1987 Synod on the Laity called for retaining the traditional practice. I found his arguments inconclusive. As women were permitted to serve as lectors within the sanctuary since 1971, I concluded that the traditional restriction of women from the "presbyterium" -- the place of presiding, the sanctuary; at Mass, in this case -- was broken, thus any rule against female altar servers would have been implicitly abrogated.

IMAGE: Female altar servers are still not permitted in the Diocese of Rome, which does not prevent at least a few surprises.

What changed my mind? One factor was the people who broke the rules and did it anyway. My home parish in Ohio announced they were eliminating "altar servers" which could only be male, and was introducing something of their own called "altar attendants," which served the same purpose as altar servers, but could be male and/or female. Virtually the entire parish went along with their intelligence being insulted (except for Dad, who gave the pastor a good scolding over the phone one evening). There were also other places where they were illicitly used. I had always been taught that serving at the altar was a privilege, but this was obviously meaningless to those who were making some sort of point about the role of women in the Church.

How could I tell their motives, you ask? Well, bragging about it was a big tip-off.

IMAGE: Acolytes in the Eastern churches wear an ornate tunic known to the Greeks as a "sticharion." It is similar in form to a dalmatic in the Western church, but is usually longer.

And then, there was the matter of HOW the indulgence came about. What started out as the Holy Father being asked to rule on the interpretation of a point in canon law, ended with a form signed under duress, that failed to go through the due process. As a result, when the alleged "permission" was announced, the decree itself lacked what is called a "protocol number," which would have verified its licitness, having been published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (The Official Acts of the Apostolic See, the Vatican's equivalent of the Federal Register here in the States). A bit of face-saving was necessary to make it lawful, the genie being completely out of the bottle by then, and canonists around the world have been bewildered ever since. (Click here.)

When the Bishop of Arlington gave permission for female acolytes in parishes several years ago, most proponents of the change would have cited the wishes of younger, stiff-necked, misogynist, conservative priests as the ones who would prevent its implementation. Rather, it was more likely the boys themselves who were already serving. In parishes where they were asked, most said they would walk away from it. So, in a diocese of 68 parishes and 6 missions, there may be no more than a dozen which use altar girls. And even then, the local norms are written in a way that prevents the girls from becoming a majority. Thus the endorsement of traditional practice, enshrined even in the 1994 indulgence, is preserved in any case.

IMAGE: November 2010. The author as Senior Master of Ceremonies at St John the Beloved Church, McLean VA, holding a replica of the "Botafumeiro", a famous thurible found in the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain. More information:

Every liturgical function performed by laity, save one, serves the assembly. Only the acolyte serves the priest. There is a relationship there that is unlike that of any other function. Small wonder that service at the altar has long been associated with fostering vocations to the priesthood. In my own parish work, I can attest to this, as to even attempt to encourage vocations with a mixed-gender group would have the unfortunate effect of treating boys and girls unequally. As to altar service being a means for vocations to the Religious life, this makes little sense, as functioning at the altar is an essential role of a priest, and since women cannot be priests ...

To this day, the parish where I grew up still refers to them as "altar attendants." It pains me to say this about people with whom I spent my childhood, but if they can fall for this, they can fall for anything, don't you think?

Or don't you?

Hey, that’s news to me!

Yesterday, we here at mwbh introduced a rotating video newsfeed, located at the top of the blue sidebar. It consists of eight news videos from the Associated Press without permission or shame. They are continuously updated, and always current. Clicking on one opens a new window. If this turns out to be a success, "Uncle Jay Explains The News" will be featured in our main column, as new editions are released.

UPDATE: If the videos aren't enough news about the hurricane for you, do the Twitter search for ...


... and you'll be sure to get your fill.

Good Morning Irene!

As this is written, Hurricane Irene has reached the coast of North and South Carolina, as it makes its way up the eastern seaboard of the United States. According to the latest projections, the main path of the storm will pass DC just off the coastline, more than an hour's drive to the east. This would be very early Sunday morning, as the storm drops from a Category 3 to Category 2. Nevertheless, a tropical storm warning has been issued for the DC area until tomorrow night.

I don't have much experience with storms like this, which is amazing when you consider I'm from Ohio, and we've had our share of tornadoes there. I remember unusually large hailstones in the spring of 1974, but I've never actually seen a twister. Here's hoping I don't see anything like that this time around. Better tie up the patio furniture, just in case.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Politics and the Human Condition

Ever get into an argument with somebody, and the mere change of expression on your face makes them go "Hey, let me finish, let me finish," when all you really wanna do is pelt them with a brickbat and say “FINISH! FOR THE LOVE OF THE ALMIGHTY, PLEASE FINISH!!! If there's one thing I've learned in Washington after over thirty years, it's that the part of the story they DON'T tell or show you, is just as telling as the part they DO.

On the other hand, Jim Geherty has a different take on the scenario. But why take the word of either one of us? Use your imagination with this clip, starring Mitt Romney at his Mittiest!

Then read about how the victims of the Johnstown Flood of 1889 got relief. (H/T to JellyToast)

Mikey Bustos: Confessions of a Soon-To-Be-Father

It appears that our Pinoy Boy's firstborn is one week overdue, and that the future Father is becoming anxious, not to mention suspicious as to the cause of the delay. The first one is usually the most difficult to deliver. Once the roadway is cleared, the rest of the brood will generally shoot right outa there.

Or so they tell me.

What’s Shaken? (The Sequel)

Since Tuesday's tremors on the East Coast, all Federal buildings were closed briefly to allow for safety inspections. Virtually all in the DC area were re-opened after a day or so. Meanwhile, here's something else I didn't feel at all:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The 5.8-magnitude earthquake that rattled the East Coast this week has produced at least seven aftershocks ... following the strongest earthquake to strike the East Coast since World War II ... the National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado ... isn't sure what to expect, but it's likely there will be some more for days, if not weeks. Typically, the larger the quake, the longer and the greater extent of aftershocks.

In a related story, questions have arisen as to whether some older buildings on the East Coast would withstand an earthquake of greater scale than two days ago.

Let's hope we never have to find out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Man of Constant Sorrow

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a 2000 satire, loosely based on Homer's Odyssey, and set in rural Mississippi in the 1930s. It was directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and starred George Clooney, John Goodman, and Holly Hunter, among others. The soundtrack won a Grammy for Best Album the following year, and was followed by a brief resurgence of interest in old-time country music. Not to be confused with the Nashville sound of the postwar years and beyond, what was then known as "hillbilly music" was possible through the growing popularity of radio in the 1930s and 1940s.

The recording itself, lip-synched by the character of Ulysses Everett McGill (Clooney), was actually sung by Dan Tyminski, a bluegrass guitarist, singer, and songwriter of Alison Krauss and Union Station.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

“Hey Dave, what’s shaken?”

So read the subject heading of the email from my brother "Kevin." He heard about today's earthquake that originated in Mineral, Virginia, a town not far from Richmond, and wanted to know if I was okay. The 5.9 scale tremor was felt all the way to New York City, so it's a safe bet we felt it here in DC as well.

Did I feel anything? Of course not. I was in my car and had no idea what was happening, until I got to the Kinko's at Ballston. I had some papers that needed signing and faxing. The idiot running the place told me I had to evacuate the building with the others, and "go to the other Kinko's at Courthouse." She made no mention of the earthquake, and telling me to go to another location left me in the dark. I saw people standing outside of buildings all along the "Orange Line" corridor here in Arlington. So the other Kinko's was evacuated as well. (Remember, I still didn't know there was an earthquake. Maybe a pre-9/11 bomb scare or something.) Finally, I went to a computer repair store near my place, and THEY finally told me it was an earthquake.

Meanwhile, here at mwbh, we have a lot of traffic to our archives of July 2010, wherein is contained our account of the last tremor to hit this area. I must have told a riveting account back then, since no one could wait for me to mention this one.

Speaking of which, the most that happened was a few papers and books hitting the floor. Nothing broken, nobody hurt.

One thing worth mentioning. The news channels are showing crowds of people trying to reach loved ones on cellphones to tell them they're okay. With the lines being so crowded in these situations, they would have been better off sending text messages, which use less bandwidth, and get through more easily.

Let's remember that one for the next one, okay kids?

(Note to Paul C: I don't know how that happened, but I deleted it. Must be all that really fast typing.)

UPDATE 1: What did I write in July of last year that was so AWESOME???

Buzzfeed details the full extent of the devastation.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Obligatory “Old Karate Injury” Story

Our regular readers and devoted followers -- you both know who your are, right? -- have no doubt noted our sporadic publishing schedule of late. Well, there's a reason. Let's go back to this time twenty-four years ago, to 1987 ...

I had begun training in karate for about a year, and was on my third of four "belts" or levels of proficiency. It was during the warm-up exercises one evening, that I must have twisted and/or pulled something as had never been done previously. My right leg ached a little for the rest of the class. I left the dojo and went home, thinking little of it, until ...

I woke up the next morning, hopped out of bed, and collapsed. My right leg was aching, and I couldn't walk with it. For the next two or three weeks, I was out on sick leave, applying heat and cold packs alternatively to both the right knee and the right ankle. The relief was temporary, but it was obvious that something else was going on. It was my chiropractor who finally figured it out.

The sciatic nerve is the big thick nerve that runs from the pelvic area all the way down the leg. The one for my right leg was being pinched near the source, at the joint where the sacrum meets the illium. (It actually appears that I know what I'm talking about, doesn't it? The picture to the right helps.) I was feeling pain in my knee and my ankle, but the problem was in my lower back. Through a series of daily exercises, highlighted by chiropractic treatment, it was eventually cured.

For a few weeks, I had to go to work on crutches. Riding in the vanpool was difficult. In my experience, most people who ride in vanpools are rather sedentary by nature. In my case, these idiots wouldn't even give up the seat nearest the door. Imagine having to crawl all the way back in crutches. I was in a lot of pain when it happened, but they didn't care.

Over the years, I've had problems with soreness in my right leg, especially when driving great distances. Without the proper thigh support for the driver's seat, the strain eventually leads to discomfort. I didn't always have cruise control for my car to alleviate it, since I couldn't always afford one where it came standard, and the dealer wouldn't install it, pointing me to a place thirty or more miles out of town. In the past year or so, my leg has bothered me more, usually after shoveling a lot of snow around my car (a task I now pay others to do). There is also the recent development of minor arthritis in my lower joints. Nearly a month ago, the old injury came back with a vengeance. I'm on various medications to manage the pain, and an MRI is scheduled for this Wednesday. At the very least, it may only be a lower back spasm, which can be treated with medication and physical therapy. The worst case scenario is a herniated disk, which is usually corrected with surgery. I hope to avoid that at all costs.

I wanted to be able to work from home, what with my agency pushing teleworking. But most of my work lately has been as an on-site photographer, and the three or four people to whom I answer at any given moment can't seem to get their heads together on this one. All told, you'd think that would leave more time to write, wouldn't you? Well, there has been a lot to do around the house, and it takes a lot longer when you have to walk any great distance with a cane.

There is one good thing about all this, which is that I continue to lose weight. At the beginning of May my weight was 220. It is now down to about 202. My goal is to lose five pounds a month every month, and keep it off, until the end of the year.

Exit question: is life giving me lemons, or melons?

Friday, August 19, 2011


Our daily videocast of Gloria.TV News has been inactive for about a month now. An e-mail sent to them early this week has not been answered. There is also reason to believe, in viewing the recent content of their website, that the daily videocast has been discontinued. Naturally, we here at mwbh are disappointed, and seriously hope that we are mistaken (which happens rarely), and we would look forward to the return of their usual service very soon.

Or at least an answer to our email.

Meanwhile, we'll be using this as an opportunity for trial runs of other sources. Our ideal is a video with an embed code for dynamic content; that is, content that changes every day, or week, or whenever the latest one shows up; prefereably every day. We'll be contacting a few of the sources to see how that can be arranged. Until then, we dedicate this 1965 lip-synched version of our title song by The Shadows of Knight to Doina Buzut and the rest of the Gloria.TV staff (even though there is no embed code for it, so it can be found here).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Jon Stewart and the Unknown Candidate

Ron Paul finished a very, VERY close second in the Iowa straw poll, among Republican candidates for President. You would never known this from the media coverage he gets ... or should we say, doesn't get? For all the complaints from conservatives about people like Jon Stewart, he really does have a way of pointing out the absurdity of the obvious. There are too many "zingers" to point out in this four-and-a-half minute clip. You'll have to see them for yourselves.

Why is the media ignoring Ron Paul? No, the answer is not because he's "really conservative," any more than it's because he's "the 13th floor in the hotel." And no, it's not because he's an "antiwar Republican." If that were really an issue, the pundits would use that to play off against the other candidates, who would then take him to task for it.


(If you cannot view the clip here, go to

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Sara Brightman “Pie Jesu”

It is time for our usual midday Wednesday feature to make its triumphant return.

Sarah Brightman is an accomplished classical crossover singer, best known for her performances in Broadway musicals and her duets with tenor Andrea Bocelli. In this relatively early performance in 1982, she does a selection of Webber's "Requiem," with a variation of he same in Faure's "Requiem."

Pie Jesu, (4x)
    Merciful Jesus,
Qui tollis peccata mundi
    Who takes away the sins of the world,
Dona eis requiem. (2x)
    Grant them rest.

Agnus Dei, (4x)
    Lamb of God,
Qui tollis peccata mundi,
    Who takes away the sins of the world,
Dona eis requiem (2x)
    Grant them rest
Sempiternam. (2x)


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lament For Jerusalem (How Deserted Lies The City)

At that time: As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, and caught sight of the city, he wept over it, and said: Ah, if thou too couldst understand, above all in this day that is granted thee, the ways that can bring thee peace! As it is, they are hidden from thy sight. The days will come upon thee when thy enemies will fence thee round about, and encircle thee, and press thee hard on every side, and bring down in ruin both thee and thy children that are in thee, not leaving one stone of thee upon another; and all because thou didst not recognize the time of my visiting thee ...

(From the gospel according to Luke, for the Ninth Sunday After Pentecost)

VIDEO: Text based upon the Books of Lamentations & Isaiah. From 'Song Of An Exile'. Recorded at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Israel on 25th August 1994. Adrian Snell (Keyboards & Vocals), David Fitzgerald (Saxophones, Flutes & Whistles), Caroline Bonnett (Keyboards & Vocals), Richard Ayal Frieden (Interpretive Dance & Movement), Dave Bainbridge (Additional Programming & Sequencing).

Friday, August 12, 2011

FAMW: Al Sharpton

For the life of me, I cannot remember whether it was George Washington Carver or Booker T Washington, who warned of the prospect of civil rights leaders using their cause for personal gain, even to the point where it was no longer about that cause; yes, even to the point of prolonging it. Whoever said it, they had to be referring to the Reverend Al Sharpton, who has little to say, but when he does ... well, they say it was a teleprompter malfunction. See for yourself with this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

(Man, I gotta find that quotation.)

Suppose they held a debate and nobody won ...

Last night the Republican candidates for President had a debate. Tim Stanley of The Telegraph thinks the winners are "Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and happy camper Mitt Romney." Closer to home, Ed Morrissey of Hot Air found five different guys with five different answers. Yours truly didn't watch it last night, and that's two hours that were better spent doing just about anything, because the one thing about which none of the candidates were asked, was the one thing they should have been asked, which is why this writer has concluded that there were no winners last night. And that one issue is ...

Entitlement reform.

UPDATE: Joe Scarborough of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" hosts a morning-after analysis of the debate. The Huffington Post tells of how he "goes off" on Michele Bachmann. You have to wait till the end of the video clip to see this, but whether you love Bachmann or not, it's comedy gold. Atta boy, Joe.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fast Times at the County Fair

Arlington County began their annual fair last night. We got a call from Sal's brother earlier today, inviting us to drop everything and come watch the pig races. It was a very tempting offer, but ...

Most Americans don't have the foggiest idea of two things; 1) that the wealthiest one percent in America carry a share of the tax burden significantly out of proportion to their numbers (which is to say, a helluva lot more than one percent), and 2) the overwhelming majority of the Federal budget is allotted for defense spending and entitlement programs (Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security). Any significant reduction in either the size or cost of government, will invariably cut into one or more of these programs. It is the main reason why this writer hopes to see this country get out of the business of being the world's policeman. We simply cannot afford it, however noble the cause, unless other changes are made.

Meanwhile, out in the Corn Belt, this clip of Mitt Romney speaking in Iowa to a crowd, which includes at least two stupid hicks who can't shut up long enough to listen to his answers to their questions, almost makes me feel sorry enough for him to vote for him.

Not quite. Almost. But go ahead, click and enjoy. (Personally, I would have preferred the pig races.)

UPDATE: We have since been informed that this incident took place at the Iowa State Fair. County fair, state fair, whatever.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Original Black Hat

The black hat has been my trademark, off and on, for roughly half my life. In college and my early adulthood, it was a Greek fisherman's hat. The broad-brimmed fedora -- known as the "outback" style; no, it's not a cowboy hat -- has been de rigeur since the mid-1980s. In this photo recently uploaded by my sister Pat for the "family album" on Facebook, we see its first incarnation fifty years ago this month.

As financial secretary for his Knights of Columbus council, Dad was chosen among those representing Ohio at the Annual K of C Convention, held that year in Denver, Colorado. He and Mom made the most of it, climbing Pike's Peak and all that, and brought us back these matching fashion statements. From left to right is yours truly (6 1/2 years), my sister Mary (5 years), and my brother "Kevin" (4 years).

I have no idea why my eyes are closed, never mind what happened to that hat. I would have loved to have had it bronzed for posterity.

Of course, then it wouldn't be black, would it?

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: There is a road ...

... that I still follow through the years. For our usual midday Wednesday feature, we will go down that road, and republish a work from December of 2009.

+    +    +

US Route 50 extends from Ocean City, Maryland, west through the heart of "flyover country," to West Sacramento, California, where its original route is pre-empted by an Interstate highway, before reaching the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco.

The route follows a number of older auto trails, including the George Washington Highway* in southern Ohio, where it passes through my hometown of Milford. From the time we moved there in the summer of 1957, to when I left for Washington, DC, in 1980, up until the present, I have never lived more than two miles from it. The route that went through the place where I grew up, cuts through Arlington, Virginia, before heading across the Potomac to the Nation's capital.

A road is more than a way to get from point A to point B. It is a constant on the landscape, so long as there are those to follow it, leading not only to different places, but across different times in our lives. In that sense, we are all on a road to somewhere -- God willing, to be with Him in Heaven.

Back home, an old-time music trio known as The Tillers dedicated a song to that highway. As it's been nearly three decades since I was involved in the Cincinnati folk music scene, I've never met any of these guys. Then again, maybe I know them anyway.

Someday I'll be less practical about the journey home, and take Route 50 as far as it will go to my destination. I might even avoid the bypass routes and take the "business loops" into the towns through which the old road passes. Maybe Sal could get another taste of the real America.

I never get enough of it.

* FOOTNOTE: There is mention of an early auto route of the same name that ran from Savannah, Georgia, to Seattle, Washington. This writer's information is based upon highway markers seen as a boy.

Saint Lawrence

[From this day in 2007. -- DLA]

I got into Cincinnati yesterday evening around 7:30. The trip took nine and a half hours, which isn't bad. Especially when you consider the two monsoons that came and went by suddenly while driving through the flatlands out of Columbus.

If it happened in the last 24 hours, it'll have to go without comment; I've got some catching up to do.

HOWEVER, there is the annual obligation to a favorite saint ...

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"With the robe of joyfulness, alleluya,
Our Lord hath this day clothed His soldier, Laurence.
May Thy faithful's joyous assemblage clap their hands
More cheerfully than they have heretofore."

(from the Mass of Saint Laurence, Old Sarum Rite Missal, 1998, Saint Hilarion Press)

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Lawrence. He was archdeacon of the church of Rome in the third century. When the Emperor Valerian had Pope Sixtus II and six other deacons executed in 258 AD, Lawrence was left in charge.

Now, back then, for a deacon to be left in charge, this actually meant something, inasmuch as deacons were charged with the temporal goods and charitable works of the local church. On August 6, Lawrence met with Sixtus in the latter's prison cell. The boss laid out the plan; no, we're not leaving forever, you're joining us in four days.

Lawrence saw this as a good time to come up with a plan of his own.

Lawrence distributed the funds of the local church among the crippled, blind, sick, and indigent of the city. When arrested by the Emperor, Lawrence was commanded to produce the goods. Lawrence produced what he called the "true treasure of the Church" -- you guessed it; the crippled, blind, sick, and indigent of the city.

The emperor was not amused.

Legend has it that Lawrence was martyred by being roasted on a gridiron. It is also said that, at one point, Lawrence told them when he was done on one side, and could be turned over. Modern scholars have suggested that the determination of this method of torture is probably a misreading of the original accounts.

Anything to take the fun outa this, huh, guys?

And so, Lawrence is pictured holding a book of records, a money purse, and/or a gridiron. His image is generally found on one of the "deacon's doors" with the iconostasis of any Eastern church.

Lawrence is also the patron saint of cooks. Not to mention librarians, libraries, lumbago, paupers, poor people, restauranteurs, Rome, schoolchildren, seminarians, Sri Lanka, stained glass workers, students, tanners, vine growers, vineyard owners, wine makers (whew!), and ... me!

That's because I was named for my uncle Lawrence Rosselot (pronounced "ROSS-uh-low," from the province of Alsace in France, so the "T" at the end is silent), my mom's brother who died before I was born. It was either a farming accident or complications of influenza; to this day I get two versions of the story.

Finally, on the eve of his feast, one may look up into the night sky (at least in the northern hemisphere) and witness the "burning tears of Saint Lawrence." This is the meteor shower that follows the pasage of the Swift-Tuttle Comet, and precedes the one near The Perseides.

Sure, you missed the one last night. But you've got the next week to see some action. Especially if you go to a place out in the country where there are no city lights to be found.

But all the stars will be there.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Bill Foy Explains It All For You

Bill Foy lives in Unicoi, Tennessee. His favorite baseball club is the Johnson City Cardinals, a minor league team affiliated with the one in St Louis of the same name. His favorite musician is Ted Nugent, a true American patriot and kick-ass party animal.

Bill doesn't know it yet, but I'm about to make him famous for his sound financial advice, sorely needed in these uncertain times.

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If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Delta Airlines one year ago, you would have $49.00 today! If you purchased $1,000 of shares in AIG, you would have $33.00. If you purchased $1,000 of shares in Lehman Brothers, you would have $0.00 today. But, if you purchased $1,000 worth of beer, drank all the beer, turned in the aluminum cans for recycling, you would have $214.00. Therefore the best current investment plan is to drink heavily & recycle.

It is called the 401-Keg Plan.

Monday, August 08, 2011

“If you are confused, check with the sun ...”

One thing I can say about myself; I'm an expert on bullies and bullying. From my experience as a child to the present, I can smell a bully across the room.

There are many ways to bully someone. There are the obvious physical forms of bullying, which have gotten a certain amount of press lately as public school students are taunted rather severely over issues of sexual proclivity. (Like it was never an issue before that, right?) But there are other ways to bully people that are more subtle, and no less insidious. One is to insult their ways of doing things as backward and unenlightened, without being outwardly mean about it. Say it with a smiley face, imply that this is what all the COOL kids are doing, and everyone goes along like lemmings over a cliff.

Such is apparently the case in the land north of Hadrian's Wall.

Scottish Catholics will soon be told to stand during parts of the Mass where they have traditionally knelt. The instruction from the Bishops of Scotland, which has not yet been publicly announced, will come into effect at the beginning of Advent this year.

“Make no doubt about it, theses changes in posture are the revenge of trendy liturgists for the introduction of a new, more traditional, translation of the Mass which they really dislike,” said one Scottish priest [who] asked to remain anonymous.

Some perspective is in order here.

For the bulk of Church history, the posture of the faithful in the Divine Liturgy, whether East or West, has not been set down by law, but rather dictated by custom. Even many traditional Catholics are surprised to learn this. When the funeral of the late President John Kennedy was televised in 1963, American Catholics were shocked to see public figures, such as the French General Charles de Gaulle, rise from his knees immediately after the consecration. With the official liturgical reform after Vatican II, the posture of the faithful was codified for the most part, albeit subject to adaptation by competent territorial bodies of bishops. In the States, the minimum requirement of kneeling during the Consecration itself was extended to the entire Canon (Eucharistic Prayer).

“Consuetudo est optima legum interpres.” (“Custom is the best interpreter of laws.”) This applies, of course, where the former does not attempt to override the latter. ("Experts" who give lectures in parishes on canon law will sometimes leave out certain little caveats, just so you've been warned.) The current situation makes it rather clear what is expected of the faithful. Still, many Catholics in the States have the experience of parish churches without kneelers, and of being admonished to stand throughout the holiest part of the Mass. After all, "we are a resurrection people," right? (We are obviously more than that, but I digress.) There have been occasions when I am at a funeral or a wedding and someone has to make a point of announcing, oh so nicely, that "you are asked to stand during the eucharistic prayer." I ignore them, and no one makes a fuss as I keep my nose in my missal. That wouldn't be very nice.

Neither am I when my intelligence is insulted.

The good news is, a new generation of priests has a different set of priorities, like the notion that Christ founded a Church, and that we do what She asks of us. As a result, the current phase of aging adolescent rebellion is on the wane, albeit not going quietly. Even in the Excruciatingly Orthodox Diocese of Arlington, there was a large parish with a very charismatic pastor, who had many of his people dissuaded from putting kneelers in the new and larger church they were planning to build. Perhaps it was the discovery of child pornography in Father's possession that curbed his devoted following.

Or perhaps his day was done, in more ways than one.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Comments: DA RULES!

Several days ago, I received a comment for one of my articles, which had nothing to do with the subject matter, but was a rather incoherent appeal to assist some poor person in Haiti. This individual neglected to provide information as to how assistance should be provided, not even in the form of a link. Their comment was rejected, and this piece is dedicated to why, as well as what I expect in the combox in the future.

I get very few comments on this blog. I get even fewer with the increased use of Facebook, which is a less cumbersome way to comment than a weblog comments box. Still, it seems fitting to lay down a few rules.

1) I do not suffer fools gladly, whether in the blogosphere, or in real life, I concede to a weakness in having no patience for them. If your post has nothing to do with the subject at hand, or is an obvious attempt (or even a veiled one) to promote some commercial enterprise or get-rich-quick scheme, YOU WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED.

2) I am the Magnificent Lord and High Master of the Universe that is this weblog. Those of you who comment are guests within my Exalted Realm. If you cannot act the part -- leave the sarcasm out of it; that's my job -- go start your own blog, and invite all the trolls to go there with ads for playing the ponies, cheap Viagra, et cetera.

3) The primary audience of this weblog is that of practicing Catholics. Our policy from the beginning, has been to be free of any moral or doctrinal error in matters of faith. In addition, it is here in this venue, that the Faith is referred to as that of "Our Holy Mother Church." That is why we refer to the Church as "She." You insult the Church's teachings, you insult Mama. Unless they want a boot up the arse, nobody insults Mama.

4) The goal of any argument is a mutual search for the Truth, as opposed to merely winning or being right. There are plenty of venues in the "Catholic blogosphere" for inane commentary and militant ignorance. This is not one of them. I am not a "professional Catholic" who has time to referee all that, even though I am as well-informed as most of them. (I know. I fool a lot of people.)

There now. I think that makes things pretty clear, although the above is subject to change, as it finds it way over to the blogroll (otherwise known as "The Usual Suspects"). Those who do not "get it" are obviously a waste of human skin, who must be tolerated on this earth until science finds a cure.

That does not mean we will tolerate them here.

Estote Ergo Vos Perfecti

Be ye therefore
Be less
    and cease to be.
There is no
    going downward
Save into
    the great sea,
Where things
    continue falling
    and a day;
Except that
    all is darkness,
Down there, o soul of me.

Be ye therefore perfect.
But how will I do that?
Patience, little brother,
And inwardly take thought.
Breathe evenly. Remember
What many have forgot:
The hill to climb is higher
Even than Ararat.

John Senior was a significant influence in the restoration of the classical liberal arts in Catholic higher education. The above was composed by his professor, Mark Van Doren, on the occasion of Senior's reception into the Church in 1960. It is provided courtesy of "Rooster Cogburn," and is reproduced here without permission or shame.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Bill Whittle: Rich Man, Poor Man

“I’ve been rich, and I’ve been poor; believe me, rich is better.” This saying has been attributed to two American actresses, Sophie Tucker (1884-1966) and Mae West (1892-1980). But whoever said it, "rich" and "poor" are both relative terms when it comes down to it. Americans are seen in much of the developing world, not only as a rich nation on the whole, but the poor in America as better off than the average person in, say, Somalia or Sudan.

Bill Whittle of Pajamas Media and the Heritage Foundation has made a name for himself in "doing the math" to refute much of the conventional wisdom of the politically-correct. What he has to say, and how he reached the point where he comes to say it, may surprise even those who have followed his viral videos on YouTube. In the months ahead, we here at mwbh will be following him as well. Whittle does not specify what he means by "poor," but we might safely assume he uses the United States government standard for the poverty level. Still, it would have been better had he clarified that.

Readers may also be interested in a Heritage Foundation report entitled "What Is Poverty?"


"It was twenty years ago today ..." No, we're not going to sing from the Beatles' Sgt Pepper album, even though it was a pioneer in being the first "concept album" in that the songs together formed a conceptual whole. Or something. And speaking of concepts, on this day in 1991, a scientist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) by the name of Tim Berners-Lee unveiled a means of organizing information on the network of computers that spanned the globe. He dubbed it "the World Wide Web." CERN is the operator of the world's largest particle physics laboratory, operating outside Geneva, Switzerland. This was the first web page:

Until that time, such information was only in textual form, and only accessible through academic, military, or scientific networks. But "the Web" made the internet available to the general public. The first image is how the idea looked on paper. (Go ahead. Click on it. Feel the awesomeness.) The second image is how the first web page looked on the screen. Not much, is it? Eventually, Berners-Lee developed something called a "browser" which was a window on the screen for linking to a page of such information. That's him in the image below, taken about the mid-1990s, with the first browser known as "Mosaic."

What was I doing in 1991? Living in Georgetown, going through a divorce, wondering about the direction of my life, stuff like that. The previous year, I found an original 1984 Macintosh 128K that someone threw out in the trash. (It's amazing what people in Fairfax County throw away, but that's another story.) For a couple hundred bucks, I got the disk drives fixed. Someone loaned me the software disks I needed, and I was on my way. The old Mac is now a collector's item, safely stored back in Ohio, but for two or three years, I did a great deal of writing with it. Unfortunately, it didn't get me to the Web, and I didn't get the modem that went with it until later. By then, 800 baud was already obsolete.

Closer to the present, Slate has a great retrospective on those thrilling days of yesteryear, as does CERN, the place where it all began.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Jon Stewart: Culture Warrior

The host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show takes on the atheists who can't stop belly-aching about the “metal T-shaped thingy” at Ground Zero. [CONTENT WARNING: Single instance of mild profanity, healthy dose of expletives tastefully covered by bleeps.] Ever wonder why they don't go after the Muslims who want to build a "cultural center" in the area? Obviously they're both godless AND gutless, don't you think?

Or don't you? (H/T to Lisa Graas.)

A spiritual bouquet ...

... has been sent out today, in the form of the meditation and praying of all fifteen decades of “Our Lady’s Psalter” (that is, the Holy Rosary), for the intentions of all who granted the request of yours truly for prayers this past week. We are not out of the woods yet here at Chez Alexandre, but where there is life, there is hope.

Oremus pro invicem.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Meanwhile ...

... our regularly scheduled fun and games may be interrupted for one or a few days, as yours truly grapples with some health issues that require more of his attention than he would care to admit. It's an old karate injury, honest. I'll tell you more later. For now, later ...

Monday, August 01, 2011

Video (allegedly) killed the radio star ...

... thirty years ago today, at one minute past midnight, as Music Television (MTV) was introduced to the world, with this selection. MTV also changed the medium of video itself, with the use of a rapid succession of images and shifting camera angles, and the resultant attention-span deficit that plagued a generation, only to be topped by the internet at century's end.

It may have also signaled the end of disco once and for all. Deo gratias.

The Washington Post has more.