Friday, December 27, 2002

Upon reflection, I have come to the following conclusions about my Bible reading habits and preferences. I should note first that the Bible is my favorite reading . . . from cover to cover:
Least favorite books in the New Testament: The Gospels

Of the Gospels, favorite: John

Least favorite gospel: Luke

Favorite NT Books: Catholic epistles and Pastoral Epistles

Favorite NT Book: James

Favorite Chapter: Isaiah 58

Favorite casual reading books: Lamentations, Job, Ecclesiastes

Most exciting book: Acts of the Apostles

Person I would most like to be: 1. Paul 2. Jeremiah

Least read books: the Deutero-cannonical books (don't like them-sorry, I used to be Protestant)

Favorite Italian Prophet: Malachi

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Christmas was good. Low key. Little one got most of the presents. One especially annoying gift she got was a chicken suit elmo. You press a button and elmo sings about being a chicken and dances like one. Of course, little girl loves it, at 1 she already has some serious grooves, so any excuse to dance, even to elmo, is welcome.

We went to see the festival of lights in Prince George's County, Bowie, MD to exact. There were a half million lights. Very nice, but the little girl was too sleepy to appreciate much of it. Spent the rest of the evening working on my new Dell and doing stuff. The wife had craft gifts to finish up.

I'm not overly thrilled about my Dell yet. I think once I work out all the kinks I may be more statisfied. One thing I would say about Gateway was that their customer service, online and over the phone was pretty good. I'm locked into this Dell thing for the next four years, so I hope they have manners.

I've certainly hit the ground running this year. Primarily with business stuff. Retail sales for the industry were at a 30year low this Christmas. St. Martin Catholic Bks & Gfts did not do as well for December as we originally hoped, but it was not terrible either. Either way we did much better for the year and next year seems quite good. My theory about why we didn't do badly is this. We are a novelty retailer and so we lag behind the other retailers who sell necessary items. So generally when retailers have big shopping days, we don't, because people go to Walmart and JCPenny's before they come to buy Catholic gifts. However, this season, because the retail climate was so bad, the large retailers had to offer deep discounts, thus leaving consumers with extra credit room or cash to go for novelty items. I have thus concluded that we probably do better when regular retail is slumping and it is a buyer's market in general.

I now have to spend the next few days and maybe weeks getting everything ready for taxes and simply closing out 2002 files. Since this is our first full year with no exceptional circumstances, no move, no terrorism, etc, planning for 03 is going to be much better. But because I was computerless for so long, I am lagging behind in all that stuff. An example of something I need to greatly reconsider is advertising. Prioritizes advertising dollars. I am very tempted to go the TV commercial route and will be meeting with a maketing rep to discuss that possibility. i also hear that radio is very effective. Besides those two outlets, there's two local Catholic papers and the four regional papers that I have to advertise in. And then there's internet advertising. I no longer believe in banner ads but I believe 100 percent in You bid on key words. I swear it did wonders for us, but at the present time, I'm not concvinced that it gives the most bang for the buck, especially since we are primarily a brick and mortar store with an internet outlet, as oppossed to being primarily an internet operation. Needless to say, all this advertising could easily run into the tens of thousands. So for it to be effective it has to be planned strategically, or it looses its bite.

Okay, that's enough. Back to work, I have a AP photo to hunt down.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Merry Christmas. When we got back from 4pm vigil mass, we found that Santa had hit the East coast and left me a bulky package. It had to be santa because my wife and I put major restrictions on how much may be spent on each other during Christmas. Well I opened santa's present and guess what, my brand new Dell Inspiron. I am finally done setting up and loading programs. I'm not 100 percent happy only because I was very attached to my Gateway and not everything is working out well with this Dell, yet. I'll have to call support but I'm sure it'll all pan out. Oh cool, I'm watching Aaron Neville on ABC sing Schubert's "Ave Maria."

It is 1:30 am and i need to get some sleep. The fun continues later when the little one opens the rest of her presents. She kinda too young to fully appreciate presents, but she's getting the hang of it.

I see that Matt Dean at Blogs4God asks people to drop a prayer for me and my health, much thanks, I could use them.

Finally with a new computer, I am back in business, I can take care of what I need to. I've lost much time but all things work together for good. BTW, we've got new neighbors and it is not too encouraging. The previous tenants were strange, but it seems these ones are very unusual. We were kind'a hoping for normal wholesome neighbors that we could interact with. Oh well. Okay, if I don't go to sleep now, I will fall face first on to the computer keyboard. I hope everyone out there has a safe and blessed holiday.

Monday, December 23, 2002

We had a health fair at work a few months ago and I attended. My body fat was 47 percent. That sounds gross. I don't look like I have 47 percent body fat. I look like a biggish type with a slightly generous stomach. Anyway, that revelation was enough to make my blood pressure sky rocket and it was quite high. The nurse who took it did not make things better, she began to panic and scream at me and ask if I had taken my blood pressure medication. Well, I don't take medication because I have proven to doctors that I can control my bp. I then did a blood test to test glucose and cholesterol and prostate something levels (psa).

The lab work came in on Monday last week and when my wife and I looked it over, we thought that I was about to keel over and die. My PSA reading, PSA is stuff released by the prostate and elevated levels imply cancer or enlargment, from what we saw, was off the charts and I was double the high end of the normal range. Prostate cancer runs in my family and I'm a black male, so my risk is already very high. The lab work also, from our reading, placed me at high risk for coronary problems and cholesterol was very high. Needless to say, I figured that I'd be keeling over in the next few weeks.

We went to see the doctor on Saturday and he walked in non-chalantly and sat down. He held the lab reports infront of him and announced, your prostate is 100 percent fine. What! I thought I was double the high normal range it was then we noticed that the normal range is 0.1-4.0, and my reading was 0.8. But because there was another range nearby that had 0.4, we had somehow read that the range was 0.1-0.4 and being at 0.8 put me at double the range. He also noted that my cholesterol was borderline high, high enough to be concerned. But here's the good news. My good cholesterol is very, very high and it negates the bad cholesterol, so I am in very good shape cholesterol-wise (that bought me a couple more years of Sausage McMuffins with Egg-my wife wishes I didn't hear that part). BTW, my blood pressure was 120/80, quite normal. I do have white coat syndrome which is another story, my bp tends to sky rocket when I'm in a hospital or there is visible medical personal, but when things are low key, I'm chillin'. I once worked at a nursing home and we were taking bps just for the heck of it and I was 120/110, talk about panic from nurses. I was in stroke range but I wasn't worried, I figure when Mr. Reaper comes, we'll deal with that then.

I watched Dr. Bob Jones III on Larry King Live on Friday. I cringed or should I say, I crunge. He was a charismatic engaging personality who claims that the love of Jesus so fills Bob Jones University campus and that there is racial love and harmony, the likes of which have never been seen since the beginning of the world.

I wonder where that love of Jesus was a few years ago when they banned interracial dating. In fact it wasn't the love of Jesus that made them change their mind, it was legal and political pressure.

FYI-until 1967, interracial marriages where against the law in most states. It was not until a supreme court case in 1967 between the State of Virginia and a Virginian couple that the law was challenged. South Carolina, Alabama and I think Mississippi just overurned their state bans on interracial marriage in the past three years, but the margins were relatively slim. The referrendums were something like 63-35percent, for and against overturning the ban. If I'm correct one of these states has held out and may still have the ban on the books.

I think the Bush administration has egg on its face. Re: North Korea. N. Korea is ratcheting up its nuclear program again and it was reported this morning that they are removing UN surveilance equipment from nuclear sites. It is widely accepted that they have enough plutonium to build about half a dozen nuclear weapons and (get this) they can build these within the next six months! So what on earth are we doing in Iraq when it is, and was, clear that N. Korea is a far more imminent threat? In fact, it is widely held that they have a couple of nuclear weapons. The reticence of the Bush administration is somewhat baffling. Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney et al sure were rattling those sabres when it came to a potential but not immediate threat from Iraq but with N. Korea, we have become kittens. Go figure. Many would say that we are pursuing Israel's foreign policy and we have no similar strategic partner in the far east . . .

Lieberman is in Palestine today working on a peace process with Palestinian leaders and he says he supports Palestinian statehood. Now, I have to say that I am impressed and that I had him figured wrong. When Sharon was pummeling the Palestinians earlier in the year, a move that was senseless and ineffective and a violation of human rights, Lieberman supported the move and, here's the kicker, he said that Israel should be given the greenlight to "destroy and root out the infrastructure of terrorism." Well, guess what? Those were Sharon's exact words too. After that, I decided that we can't trust Lieberman's objectivity to deal equitably in the region if he was president, because he may become a rubber stamp for Israel, much like Bush has. The US has to remain credible with the Arabs and be an honest peace broker. So I must say that it is impressive to see Lieberman interested in palestinian welfare.

The Bills got eclipsed yesterday, 10-0. I don't know what to think, I'm numb. The reality that I have nothing to look forward to is beginning to set in . . . darkness . . .

It was a moral victory of sorts. The offense has been carrying the team all year, but on Sunday the it was the defense that stepped up to the plate. The defensive performance in shutting Brett Favre down and holding the Packers to only 3 points until late in the fourth quarter was remarkable. What it does is show that this young defense is finally beginning to get it and that Greg Williams and Jerry Gray, defensive coordinator, do have a plan. I just feel that if they draft an impact run stopper or shop around for one and draft or acquire a decent nickel corner, they've got it made--Super Bowl here we come, next year.

It was one of the most self destructive performances I've seen all year. Bledsoe took sakcs that took the Bills out of field goal range a couple of times. Especially sickenning is the fact he had ample time to get rid of the football. Bledsoe also threw a dumb interception in the end zone. Another turnover was when Nate Clement, star corner for the Bills muffed a punt reception, partly because of the winds. However, what's dumb about this is that in those kinds of winds, you need a receiver out there catching the ball and not a defensive back. DBs are DBs because they can't catch the ball or they would be receivers. Anyway, they lost and they are gone but for a team that was 3-13 last year, to have been in the play off hunt, I can see improvement. Perhaps the summer is not going to be so dreary after all.

Friday, December 20, 2002

In perusing the news this morning a couple of things jump out at me: Trent Lott's resignation and Pepsi dumps Btittany Spears for Destiny Child lady (I forget her name). On a serious note, Spears is fading out faster than super grover on a pogo stick. How often do we try to tell people that fame and beauty are fleeting, but no, they don't listen. I'm not saying that she's hot but she is facing irrelevance. I guess nothing can ever substitute for talent. Look at Madonna, who I tend to loathe, she has a decent voice and can dance, which has guaranteed her staying power. it is sad to see these teenage girl super stars who sell out their dignity and are dumped by the wayside after a couple of years.

In this spirit, I also have reservations about teenage high school basketball phenoms who skip college. I am not opposed to skippin college because I believe the NCAA is crooked and cruel and racist and many of these young men have difficult family situations and need to get paid, so more power to them. However, I just wish that their relatives would caution them so that they don't get too ancy. Only a relatively small percentage of high school stars eventually make it in the NBA, the rest flounder in Europe or Turkey or wherever else there are NBA cast aways.

As for Mr. Lott, this is most interesting. How quickly did we go from Republican gloating to internal crises. The point is that Lott has provided fodder for Dems and Indeps. He is rightly and widely perceived as racist and his continued presence in the senate still remains a burden for the Republicans. Democrats can still campaign against "the party of the likes of Lott." As for Lott himself, on BET he expressed his support for affirmative action (a far right wing white Mississipian!!!) and inclusion, etc. this then presents a problem for him because Blacks can now put pressure on him to reject or reconsider some of Bush judicial nominees such as Shedd from Texas who is no friend civil rights. I guess it'll be interesting to see if Lott returns to his old ways or has truly seen the error of his ways.

Either way, the Republicans do have a problem on their hands for 2004. Let's assume Bush wins the war and his approval is sky high, there is still the problem of the economy which, even if it turns the corner, will still be a slow growth economy. However, I think the war will put pressure on the economy. i also think Bush's judicial nominees will motivate the center-left. I think that when word gets out about the potential impact of the judicial conservative slant, women, ethnic groups, labor, etc will react. but, we'll see.

It took an hour to get Ms. snuggle queen to sleep tonite. She was extremely tired but just couldn't make the sleep connection for a while. I guess I can write off Decnaniwrimo as a failure, but it wasn't my fault, my computer crashed. The good part, though, is that the stories that I was working on are percolating in my head.

Like all other retailers, I'm hoping for a HUGE weekend. We are going to be giving out St. Martin de Porres and St. Therese of Liseaux prayer cards out for free at the store but not through the website. Right now we give out 4 inch St. Martin de Porres statues for purchases over $50.00 at the store. The point here though is actually to increase devotion to the saint, for which reason, customers only find out about the gift after the fact so that it is not an incentive to buy more. I figure that St. Martin has been very good to my family and so I return the favor.

No ER so I'm watching Spurs vs Sacramento, anyone but the losey Lakers. I'd like to see Indiana and Sacramento in the finals. That would nice, soft, sweet and quick against bad, nasty, slow and tough. In the NFL I'm going with Titans and Packers. IN the NHL, I have no clue. I do know that the Sabres are going no where fast.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Bill's Playoff Scenario

Everything is contingent on the Bills winning their final two games. The best-case scenario for them would be finishing alone in second place in the AFC East at 9-7 and winding up tied with San Diego for the conference's last wild-card spot. Under this scenario, Tennessee or Indianapolis would get the first wild-card spot.

The Bills also need the AFC North's second-place team to finish worse than 9-7. That appears likely because Pittsburgh is leading at 8-5-1 and Cleveland and Baltimore are both 7-7. All three play tough teams in their final two games. The Steelers play Tampa Bay and Baltimore; the Browns play Baltimore and Atlanta; and the Ravens have Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Here's how the Bills can finish second in the AFC East: They win their last two games, Miami or New England loses its final two, and the New York Jets lose once. The Dolphins play in Minnesota and in New England. The Patriots' final two games are against the Jets and Dolphins at home. The Jets finish with Green Bay.

Understand? If not, take some aspirin and a nap.

It would be ideal for the Bills if San Diego and Denver lost their last two games. But the Bills could still beat out San Diego for the last wild-card spot if the Chargers beat Kansas City and lose to Seattle on the final weekend, and Denver loses to Oakland this Sunday. San Diego would then have the tiebreaker over Denver. The Bills, who beat the Chargers on Sunday, would have the tiebreaker over San Diego.

It appears either Indianapolis or Tennessee will get the first wild-card spot. Both have nine victories. The Titans play Jacksonville and Houston. The Colts play the New York Giants and Jacksonville.

The Bills would be history if both Miami and New England win next week, regardless of what Buffalo does against Green Bay. Of course, the Bills are finished unless they beat the Packers.

FYI: Packers quarterback Brett Favre is 33-0 in home games when the temperature falls below 34 degrees. Forecasts in Green Bay called for a chance of snow and temperatures between 30 and 35.

But there's always hope.

24-my theory was that Jack and Nina were going to fall in love, but I guess i can kiss that possibility good bye after the last episode. Jack was the agent last year who prevented a presidential assasination in 24 hours, however in the process his wife was killed by Nina Meyers, who was Jack's peer in the Couter Terrorsim Unit and whose life Jack once saved. Apparently she was crooked and sold out to the highest bidder. Well this season is about a nuclear bomb set to blow in Los Angeles and they have 24 hours to track it down and prevent the catastrophe. It so happens that Nina also sold out to the terrorists and gave them plans to bomb the Counter Terrorism Unit's building and prevent them from getting involved.

Because Nina has information that may lead to prevention of the attack, she forced the president to grant her a pardon in exchange for information. Jack is the one handling her and she is terrified of him because of the impulse for revenge. Nina led them to her contact but she tricked the contact into giving her info and then killed him so that she would still be needed which guarantees her safety. She is cold, cruel and calculating and it'll be interesting to see where they go with that story line.

I do appreciate that 24 has given us our first TV black president, but he just doesn't seem in control.

Alias: the show has turned so completely to the CIA side of things that it has become unexciting. They need to return to SD6 and highlight the danger of Sidney and her father leaving double lives. And bring back Dixon, the only serious black character in the show.

Over the weekend we watched U571. Great movie, I thoroughly enjoyed this one both on the big screen and on TV. It is a good story, fairly decent acting and they even had time to work in a brother. It is based on true stories about allied submarine crews that would disguise themselves as Germans and board German subs to steal the encoders and enigma machines. How steely is that? The great thing about this movie is that it is an action flick with a basic story and they do maximize the tension by milking every moment. The film did well, over $100 mill.

Denzel is busting out with his directorial debut. I hope it works out for him. We'll rent the movie to support him, but our Xtmas movie big screen quota is already filled: Nemesis.

A Benedictine friend of mine notes that with the current crises, it seems that the next wave of Bishops may come from the ranks of the Religious. I'm not sure what the significance of that is, perhaps more spirituality. Dude, I'm getting a dell and . . . Quickbooks (I lost my disk so I have to repurchase).

The Bills are still technically in the play off hunt. But the Rapture pretty much would have to occur for them to get in. There is the question of if Greg Williams the Bills coach should stay or go. He has definitely imp[roved the team, but he has done some dumb coaching game time things and he was supposed to be this vaunted defensive mind who would bring the Buddy Ryan blitzing in your face defense to Buffalo, but 168 running yards per game later . . . There's no doubt that Williams was the one to turn things around, but the question is can he take the Bills to the next level? I think he can, he started this let him finish it. What the Bills need is an impact d-line person and to stay healthy and they will be a force next season. This year is shot.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Well. St. Martin Cath Bks and Gfts increased revenues by over 50 percent over last year. positive but somewhat misleading, last year's terrorists' strike was devastating for business so last year is not a model year. Nonetheless, we still did better that we would have done. Part of my frustration with my Gateway crashing is that I was going to spend the reast of the year analyzing our numbers for the year and finalze a business and marketing plan for 2003. So for the time being, I can't even access our records to study the numbers. We are still operating at a loss but this is the corporation's third year and we are growing slowly and still in the investment stage. However, I do think 2003 will be a break through year. 2002 was our first full normal year and now with reasonable data in hand reasonable plans and projections may be made.

Another key aspect is advertising dollars. At first my inclination was to cut down and trim advertising dollars, but upon further reflection I think I'll increase it and just reallocate it. The focus is going to be more targetted advertising, putting our info in the hands of Catholics who are interested in our products.

First order of business is to expand our store. We have 1500 sq ft but only use a third of it. By February, I plan to have two-thirds as retail space. I just ordered a bunch of grid book cases from a store in California and have contacted our contractor. Money is very tight but you have to spend it to make it. The word is that retailers are having a tough time this XTmas. We are doing very okay but not great. I am thankful to the Lord though, He has been with us from the beginning and will see us through.

I finally broke down last nite and dude! I'm getting a Dell! My Gateway crashed on me again and its been like that for the past four days. I now don't have much respect for Gateways. I'm getting a Dell Inspiron with quite a few bells and whistles, I want this one to be good for a long time. Fortunately a few days before my Gateway died, I zip drived my files so I won't be starting from ground zero.

Another frustrating aspect is that I can't find my Quickbooks CD and so it looks like I might have to buy Quickbooks again. I'll try to see if I can pay for only an upgrade but get the full thing. Last saturday I spent hours updating the business' accounting records and had planned to zip drive later in the evening but that's when the Gateway crashed on me. At least, I'm not starting from ground zero, that would have been a disaster.

Little girl was difficult to get to bed tonite. It's as though we take a half step forward and then drive four miles back. But that's okay, we made a strategiv decision to train her the slow way and I think it is paying off. She used to hate to sleep and would fight against it, but now she lets us know when she wants to sleep or nap (naps are another story) and there is light at the end of the tunnel. The alternative was to let her cry it out for days until she learns to sleep on her own. We started that way but we took too many summer trips and kept messing up her sleeping schedule. So much so that by the time we were done traveling, we felt that she was too old for the cry it out method. This is her second Christmas and it is fun, although I don't think she is fully grasping the fact that the Incarnate Word incarnated himself through kenotic love and this is commemorated at the winter solstice. Kids are great, aren't they?

Monday, December 16, 2002

There are facts; there are falsehoods; and then there is the interpretation of these elements. The need to make sense of the world based on a limited understanding of the available is probably the surest sign of our human commitment to integrity. We each need some ground on which we might stand. This is a weblog of 'it might have beens' and 'imagine ifs'. It is not intended to reflect the objective world. It is truth, fiction and fantasy all rolled into one contradictory and exasperating exploration in automythology. It reflects the prejudices, the half-truths and the inclinations of the author as these elements dervish-dance through time. It is an exercise in error, a seeking of the truth and a lazy (or perhaps romantic) indifference to both. It records the questions that entertain me and the ideas that I half pursue. Quite likely, it twists the world into a vision different than the underlying facts. But then again, the facts underlying our shared worldvision might not be factual at all. Perhaps our modern facts are merely the products of curiosity, a blogger has resurfaced . . . Intrigued? click here

Friday, December 13, 2002

"Verify range to target, one ping only." I think this makes a case for a great all time movie line. What movie? You ask petulently. The Hunt for the Red October.

Yahoo! Search Results for woman spanked with story lines

Bush gives Lott the harsh treatment, but it is still not fully satisfactory. The CBC will keep asking for a censure of Lott because the man still refuses to give a very comprehensive and definitive apology and statement. Sen. Lott can be a racist if he so chooses and he fills he represents his constituents in that sense, but since he is a national figure, as majority leader, he doesn't have the luxury of freudian slips any more.

An interesting factor to watch is how this plays out with Jews. If Lott's image sticks to the party, despite Bush's best efforts, Florida and New York will not be kind to the Republican, Ari Fleischer not withstanding.

I'm thinking of running for office. I'm interesting in being a governor, then president and then, I want to rule the world!!!! Ooops, did I say that? Actually I am intrigued. If I ever come into major coin I will run for something, this way no one can control me or my message. Okay, so what's my platform? . . .I'll mentiontio the issues and give a political scale. For example "liberal 7" means that on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest, 5 being average, I am liberal up to a degree of 7 on that issue.

Defense (conservative 8) I loathe war, but it is necessary. I am committed to superlative military superiority as a deterence. I will Increas R&D in space based warfare-we can't stop the inevitable tide of nuclear proliferation from rogue states, it would be my administration's policy to engage in pro-active and decisive defensive measures.

Healthcare (liberal 8/9) from what I understand, $100 million will provide insurance for everyone, if not everyone, children and mothers, that would be a priority

Abortion (liberal 6)--I am personally opposed to abortion and horrified by it but I am weary of an instant "illegalification" after thirty years. I think we have to take measure to reduce abortions and commit to making it illegal at some future point. I think poverty and women's welfare have a lot to do with the abortion problem and if we can improve the lot of women significantly and structurally address problems of poverty I believe these steps would reduce abortions and then the transition to making it illegal would be easier; Environment: (liberal 8)clean air, clean water, clean our rivers and water ways.

Education: (liberal 7), build schools, gov't pays teachers more, but more is demanded from teachers. Opposed to public money or vouchers going to private schools including Catholic schools. Private schools do a good job, but it really is taking away from the pool of resources for public schools. What is need is unforgiving enforcement in schools, so that failing schoool systems are no longer tolerated.

Economy: (liberal 5.5) Capital gains tax cut, increased Gov't spending to spur economic growth, weak dollar to increase US exports, though not too weak, elimiate tariffs and let inefficient industries die out, unless it can be shown that letting a particular industry die would endager national security. Seek free trade zone for the Americas. Reduce deficit but not be obsessed with no deficit policies. Increase SEC funding to increase white collar crime enforcement and improve confidence in wall street. Expand SBA funding and programs and do all possible to support small business including giving SBA the authority to do micro loans. Much more . . .

Foreign policy: Decrease dependence of middle eastern oil. Embrace multi-lateralism and the UN while insisting on policy of unparalled military might. Inrease funding 10 fold to Africa and make it more of a priority. strengthen ties with latin America. Strengthen Russia's democracy and push for it to have special status with EU.

Ono. . .Ono . . . wake up!!! Oh shoot! Gotta run . . .

Thursday, December 12, 2002 Thomas questions cross-burning

WASHINGTON (AP) - Normally stoic and silent during arguments, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas found his voice Wednesday, condemning cross burning as a symbol of oppression during "100 years of lynching" in the South by the Ku Klux Klan.

The subject also evoked strong emotions from his white colleagues, who joined in expressing concern about violence and racism during arguments in the second cross-burning case to reach the Supreme Court in a decade.

Justices are considering how far states may go to discourage the Klan and others from burning crosses, a provocative practice rooted in racial hatred but still given some free-speech protections. At issue is the constitutionality of a 50-year-old Virginia law that bans cross burning.

The arguments produced an unusually candid look at the justices, particularly Thomas, who generally speaks only once or twice a year during arguments and refuses to give interviews.

"This was a reign of terror, and the cross was a symbol of that reign of terror. Isn't that significantly greater than intimidation or a threat?" Thomas, the second black to serve on the court, asked a Bush administration lawyer who supported the law.

The Supreme Court historically has been protective of First Amendment rights of the most controversial of groups, including burners of the American flag, adult entertainers and even cross burners.

Michael Dreeben, the deputy solicitor general defending the Virginia law, said crosses have been used to intimidate minorities and that more than a dozen states have laws punishing the crime.

Thomas, who was raised in segregated Georgia, said burning crosses were "intended to cause fear and terrorize a population."

'We had almost 100 years of lynching and activity in the South by the Knights of Camellia and the Ku Klux Klan," Thomas said.

The last time Thomas spoke so extensively during an argument was 1995, his fourth year on the Supreme Court, in another case involving a KKK cross display. The Klan won in a 7-2 ruling, joined by Thomas.

Now, if Justice Thomas would only be a little more vocal about other issues he's had personal experience with.

ZENIT:Church in U.S. Reaches Out to Minorities on AIDS:Cites Disease as a Leading Cause of Death

WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 11, 2002 ( AIDS in the United States is increasingly a disease of the poor, the disadvantaged and minorities.

World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, was an occasion for the National Catholic AIDS Network and the U.S. bishops' secretariats for African-American Catholics and for Hispanic affairs to reiterate this message, and to call for compassion for all those suffering from this disease.

Bishop J. Terry Steib of Memphis, Tennessee, chairman of the bishops' Secretariat for African-American Catholics, agreed.

"Let us pray that we find words and actions, faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that will prevent the spread of HIV," he said.

"While it is true that the virus knows no barriers, communities of color are particularly at risk for HIV/AIDS," said a letter sent out by the AIDS Network, citing government statistics indicating an alarming rise in AIDS among Hispanics and blacks.

In 2000, HIV was the leading cause of death among black men aged 35-44 and the second leading cause among Hispanic men of the same age.

During the same period, HIV was the third leading cause of death among black women aged 35-44, and the fourth leading cause among Hispanic women of the same age.

Perhaps most alarming of all, among the estimated 40,000 new HIV infections that occur in the United States each year, 64% occur among blacks, who constitute only 11% of the U.S. population. An absolute majority of AIDS victims among American women and children are black; as many as one man in 50 in the black community is infected with HIV.

The AIDS issue was an integral theme at the 2002 National Black Catholic Conference in Chicago, where a collection among participants raised some $24,000 for African and African-American AIDS victims.

"Both the USCCB Committees on Hispanic Affairs and African-American Catholics have made serious efforts to develop theologically and culturally appropriate resources that show compassion to people living with HIV/AIDS," says Beverly Carroll, executive director of the bishops' Secretariat for African-American Catholics.

Among these is the HIV/AIDS prayer disseminated by the secretariat, which reads in part: "Help us to minister in loving care, support and patience for your people who suffer with HIV and AIDS. Lead us to do whatever it will take to eradicate this illness from the lives of those who are touched by it, both directly and indirectly. Trusting in You and the strength of Your Spirit, we pray these things in the Name of Jesus, Amen."

Alright! Zenit, good coverage!

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

I'm watching the Spurs and Dallas and I've decided that no one can understand the Spurs. They are championship material on paper but in actuality they are an enigma. Their perimeter shooting is erratic and they often make themselves one-dimensional by focusing all their offense on Tim Duncan.

What is the deal with Pat Riley in Miami, shouldn't he be walking by now.? Also I don't understand why the knicks are as bad as they are. They have Sprewell, Houston, Witherspoon, Ward and Thomas, that is not a bad lineup at all. I am not a believer in the Celtics. Did Portland ever retire Clyde Drexler's Jersey?

Ms. snuggle queen needed extra tlc today, it took almost an hour to get her sleeping. At first she wanted to run around and play in the crib. I would have indulged her but I wanted to catch West Wing. I shouldn't have bothered because neither my wife nor I had a clue what was going on. I guess this is a lesson with children, there is no formula or graph to follow. Somedays you make "progress" somedays it seems like you are going back to square one. I feel take it like it is, don't demand predictability just roll with the punches.

Ice storm this morning. The roads weren't as bad as I thought they would be, thank God.

‘Smoking gun’ in church crisis?

Dec. 11 — As pressure continued to build Wednesday for Cardinal Bernard Law to resign as head of the Boston Archdiocese, critics said they had uncovered a “smoking gun” that shows Law and other U.S. Catholic leaders accused of covering up sex abuse allegations were acting on the pope’s orders.

A GROUP called the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors said Tuesday it had come across the document from among the thousands of personnel files that the Boston Archdiocese made public last week. A court hearing lawsuits against the archdiocese had ordered the release.

Joseph Gallagher, a co-founder of the group, said the document was the “smoking gun” that spelled out a Vatican policy of placing image ahead of child welfare.

In the document, Pope John Paul II says a defrocked Catholic priest who had a history of molesting boys should leave the areas where his “condition” was known — or stay put as long as it caused no scandal.

“That would explain why (other) bishops have done the same thing as Cardinal Law — they’ve moved sexual offenders from parish to parish without notifying the parishioners,” Gallagher said.

The May 25, 1999, document is a translation of Pope John Paul II’s order removing Robert Burns, a convicted pedophile, from the priesthood.

Donna Morrissey, a Boston Archdiocese spokeswoman, said she could not comment on matters of litigation.

If there is any truth to this, that would be major. We'll see if this has legs. I guess this would re-open the issue of if the Vatican can be sued for its assetts in the U.S.

Google Search: Ono's experiment with humans

ZENIT:Men with Homosexual Tendencies Not Fit for Priesthood, Says Vatican

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 9, 2002 ( A homosexual person, or one with homosexual tendencies, "is not fit" to receive priestly ordination, says the Vatican.

This position is stated in a letter written by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, published in the November-December issue of the dicastery's bulletin "Notitiae." The letter was in response to a bishop's query.

The letter, written in Italian, explains that an unidentified bishop appealed to the Congregation for Clergy, to inquire if it is licit to confer priestly ordination on men with manifest homosexual tendencies.

The Congregation for Clergy presented the request in turn to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, whose prefect at the time of the response (May 16) was Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez.

As explained in the letter, the Congregation for Divine Worship, before replying, consulted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The response is focused in a paragraph of the letter that reads as follows: "Ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood of homosexual men or men with homosexual tendencies is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent and, from the pastoral point of view, very risky. A homosexual person, or one with a homosexual tendency is not, therefore, fit to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders."

The Congregation for Divine Worship explains that in its response, it is "conscious of the experience resulting from many instructed causes for the purpose of obtaining dispensation from the obligations that derive from Holy Ordination."

Homosexuals are not fit for the priesthood??? This is sad, wrong and shameful that Catholic officials will say this. Zenith is presenting this as an official statement and quite frankly i choose not investigate because I am afraid of what I'll find. The resurfacing of such open bigotry is saddening.

Homosexuality is not a moral disorder. People are not inhuman or bad because there are gay. The problem is acting out on those tendencies just as if I, as heterosexual, may be sexually attracted to a woman that is not my wife and then harbor the idea and act on it. A chaste gay person should not be barred from the priesthood. Is a priest with wandering eyes for every married woman in his parish better than a chaste priest who struggles with SSA?

Just as many Republicans are smarting from Trent Lott's recent actions, because it upholds stereotypes of racist conservative whites, so also is this statement embarrassing for many Catholics who try to show that such bigotry is or should be essentially incompatible with the Catholic faith.

Finally installed my Iomega 250 mb zipdrive after two fatal errors and man false starts. You'd think they have figured this out by now. We've put people on the moon for goodness sake!

I am watching tiger cubs pop out of their mother's outlet. I must say that it is not the most appetizing sight. Poor tiger, she's had four and is exhausted.Why do I care.

Day 228, daddy putting little girl to bed. I tried during 24 during a commercial break but she wasn't quite ready. She actually lay down but would get up smiling and wanted to walk around the crib, so I brought her back down and then after 24 I took her back up and she went to sleep. Total time, probably under ten minutes.

Sheet of ice today, pray no accidents.

24 wasn't too bad today. The part that bugs me is that they are developing quite a few storylines and I get nervous when there's too much suspense. I thought the scene with Mason and his estranged son was a fine piece of acting by both actors. Alias on sunday was weak in meiner meinung nach. I am not happy with the whole shift to the CIA. The show used to be all SD6 and that's what made it dangerous. The fact that Sidney Bristow, who works for SD6 thinking at first it was the CIA but now knows the truth and is now a CIA double agent seeking to destroy SD6, carried a perpetual sense of danger that fed us audience types. Now it is so boring and safe with the CIA focus (I still higly recommend the show). The Practice was also weak and somewhat outlandish.

Even though I dropped the Nanowrimo ball with the story I started out with, I got the major hots for another one that I had complete, a short story, and I have been adding to it like crazy. It went from 9,000 words to 18,000 words. I think about 3,000-5,000 more words and I'll be done. I'm going for the 1stbooks $399.00 deal. The story that I am working is undergoing a major change and I am excited about it.

A friend of mine just came down with the Chicken pox, what a bummer. I had Chicken pox when I was 23 so I understand what it's like to have it as an adult. It really is not that bad, you just feel like dudu and look even worse.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

I'm skeptical about Bush's ecnomic policy. If we are going to need tax cuts, then give tax relief to the poor and working class by not taxing the first $10,000 of wages earned. I think that would be a major boost to the economy.

My little girl slept, practically all night last nite, but she has woken up twice now since 8:30. It looks like I might be spending some time in her room tonite. I'm in charge of putting the baby to bed and getting her back to sleep whenever she wakes up at night. We just weaned her and then we are weaning her off the bottle to just sippy cups, and it seems to be going reasonably smoothly. Tommorrow morning, we are going to give her her milk in a cup and not a bottle, believe it or not, it is going to be very interesting.

I think that Catholic church in encouraging young families to have many children, should put equal emphasis on fatherly involvement. It is a nightmare watching two kids all day with no help. We have a couple of Catholic friends who are in this situation, i.e., two very young kids, and stay home moms, with hard working dads. Well it is a nightmarish situation for them just going all day and then no rest at night. It is so bad that we are worried and praying that the don't have break downs. Having many kids is surely a good thing, but raising them is not easy at all. The men have to get involved in day to day operations, the burden can't all be with the moms.

Monday, December 09, 2002

I see Trent Lott's under fire for his remarks at Strom Thurmond's birthday party saying that if Thurmond had been elected president in 1948 the country would be better off. Thurmond was a white supremacist and probably still is and ran then on a segregationist agenda. I'm not surprised nor are many people, this was not an innocent mistake on Lott's part, it represents a view point that is quite prevelant and is not going anywhere anytime soon.

The Bills are done for the year.I am sickened but we all knew it was coming . . . deep down. Going into next year, the offense looks good. The D-line is the problem. They need to draft or acquire a high impact D-line man. Either a freak pass rusher or a run stuffer, or both. They also need a good nickel back. They need a good draft. There has been improvement in the team. They were 3-13 last year and looked pathetic. This year they are presently 6-7 and may end up with a 9-7 record. Either way, they are a better team. I am patient, but they better darn well win the super bowl next year or I lose patience with them

Bob Novak's eyebrows, during Meet the Press with Tim Russert, were falling off and he did not know it. It was funny but embarrassing. Half the eye brow was falling off, yet no one said anything and the camera kept focusing in on him. Well, after the break, they fixed the problem. I never knew that people wore fake eyebrows.

Friday, December 06, 2002

ER is slowly getting better and returning to the kind of stories they used to have. 24 was also pretty good, with the exception of Jack Bauer's daughter's scenes and the story lines involving the sister of the girl who was about to marry a terrorist related guy. West Wing was a repeat. I still haven't watched the Practice, which we taped last weekend and Alias is heading towards a big punchline. It looks like Derevco might finally show her true colors.

I think Cheers should have been cancelled when Dianne left the show. Truth be told, she makes the show.

Baby slept till 5 am this morning, with only a minor hiccup at midnightish. This baby sleeping thing is a most interesting phenomenon. just when we think we have gotten our little girl on a good sleeping schedule and she is doing well, then we travel and disrupt her schedule and it becomes a nightmare trying to get her back on track.

This Xtmas is going to be interesting because we can't put up a tree or many other Christmas decorations because of the baby, but it won't dampen the spirit. We got the Christmas music out last nite in our 5 disc CD changer. We have Mariah Carey (excellent), Garth Brooks, Country Cristmas (with Country music greats), Motown Christmas and yes, Andre Crouch. I know, Andre Crouch doesn't have a Christmas album, but on the album there is a song called "waiting for the Son." We figure that if that's not an advent title, i don't know what is. Besides that CD is my daughter's favorite, she gets down and gets her grove on when she hears it.

Bush shakes up economic team

O'Neil and Linday got fired or resigned (whatever). Here's a funny quote from the blunt O'Neil

His take on nuclear accidents: “If you set aside Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the safety record of nuclear is really very good.”

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

I've decided to consider a fed govt job so I am visiting the Office for Personnel management site. I understand the process of applying for a govt job could take as long as 7 months whcih is why I hadn't tried it before.

The Washington, NoVA and MD area is expecting major snowfall. I was in Buffalo over the weekend and we caught the beginning of that nasty snow storm there and now this. I am conflicted, should I hope for enough snow that i don't have to go to work? The problem is that if it is that bad outside it affects business.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

1st Books, a print on demand publisher, is offering a deal to publish your book for only $399. Normally it costs about $600. I am drooling. They say that you don't have to have a manuscript ready, just sign and fax the form by Dec 31.

Well, I wonder what everyone's doing with their Nanowrimo drafts. My original one is there and is percolating in my brain, but I did work on an existing story and I am getting somewhere.

I am dismayed at the dearth of black characters in many of the current TV shows and movies. For instance, Carl Lumbly of Alias once played a major role as Sidney Bristow's spy partner and then the show got successful and now the sole black character is MIA. I'm going to write a whole bunch of movie scripts, crappy or not, and when I come into mucho dough, I'll produce them and see if any can get some traction.

I am sitting here on the edge of my seat (couch) watching Maryland lose to Indiana. Not to worry, the Terps will do well in March where it really counts.

I watched 24 today and I thought it was much better than previous shows. The acting is somewhat wooden and the dialog and plot are plainly stupid in some spots, but otherwise, today's episode seemed to flow much better.Examples for what I consider silly. One is when Resa's (sp?) parents show up for the wedding (Resa is Arab and marrying an American lady at her father's house. His potential sister in law did some investigating and turned up possible terrorist connections and contacted the Counter Terrorism Unit and they show up and are interrogating him) and when they find out that he is being investigated, they go into this inane and trite speech about racial profiling, etc. How about a touch more subtlety. Is that how they would really react and are the writers just using them to make a speech?

My wife thinks that President Palmer is like Benjamin Sisko of DS9. The problem is that she couldn't stand Sisko. I couldn't either. Avery Brooks is a pure theater actor and is very good in projecting a stage presence and creating drama in his voice and presence. That doesn't translate well on the camera. The cameras require more subtely and less of the melodramatic presence that a stage requires. So my wife thinks that President Palmer, like Sisko, hasn't quite captured the cameras yet. I like President Palmer but I see what she's saying.

On the daughter note, when she was brand new, she was the ultimate snuggler and she still is. At first i thought that all babies snuggled like that. She would adjust her body to perfectly match all the nooks, crannies and curves of your body to get the perfect snuggle. Since then I have observed and carried a few babies and I have never seen that duplicated. She stillSomeone once described babies as heat seeking missles, that what she is. I think the word to describe her would be absolute fun.

I watched Spider Man this weekend. I did not like it. Stupid, cheesy, pathetic, etc. I was very dissappointed. I expected a spectacular movie because of all the hype, but it was barely adequate. The story moved slowly and degenerated to a dud. The Green Goblin character was a joke, even his costume was plain silly. I realize that on the big screen, the spider man-swinging-through-the-streets-of-NY scenes may have been visually compelling, but overall the movie was kind'a lame.

On the other hand, I watched a few of the old James Bonds movies on TNN. I had watched many of them years ago and it was good to see them. The new Bond movies are lame compared to the old ones. The new ones are so Hollywood. The old ones preserved the Ian Fleming, British spy novel, style. Besides, Roger Moore and Sean Connery, are more dignified looking and are far better actors than Brosnan. I am interesting in seeing the new Bond movie out now, I was told that it is similar to the old ones.

One movie that I am excited about is Star Trek Nemesis. The previews are exciting. This is from someone who is Trekkie but hates Star Trek movies. One thing to note is that even though I talk about watching movies, I probably won't see any because it is very difficult for me to conceive leaving my baby with anyone. We have had friends and family babysit every now and then, but I don't like it. I miss here when she is in the other room, or when she sleeps, or when I go to work, so I'm never thrilled about not having her around. She is a very interesting personality, she absolutely charmed my folks and her uncles and everyone thinks that she's the world's sweetest thing. Well "sweet" is not always what we'd use to describe her, but she is wonderful and she just happens to be the most beautiful one year old in the world. Okay! maybe one of the top ten.

Monday, December 02, 2002

The Bills spanked Miami. If they run the table for the rest of the season. They have to beat New England, San Diego and Green Bay, tough games but possible wins. If the defense can just get its act together, we all know that they can play well because they do quite well for stretches at a time. The offense was in a slump the past three weeks but I think they are back. Everyone starting playing cover two on them and stopped isolating their corners on the Bills explosive wideouts. That defensive move "forced" the Bills to abandon the vertical game. Eric Moulds then complained about the Bills abandoning the big play offense and sure enough, the coaches went back to it on Sunday and viola!

Chirp blog has a link to a guy's blog who details some of his struggles with p*rn. Well, I checked out the link and sure enough this guy is baring his soul. One comment that he made that disturbed Chirp is something regarding how man look at women. This guy also says that all men in some way struggle with p*rn. Fortunately, I don't think this is true. While men think more about women and sex more often than women do, there are very many men who do not give in to sexual temptations, both physical and mental. You have to remember that in the Gospels, Jesus says that if a man looks on a woman a certain way, he commits adultery in his heart. I did/do take that very seriously as do very many men.

I once read a book called "Sin as Addiction." While I didn't take much away from the book, the title was catchy enough to stick. Sin is very addictive and chances are that once you give in to a particular kind of sin you will be plagued with it for a long time. St. Jerome is always an interesting example. This man had a few youthful indiscretions and he was never able to rid his mind of those kind of images. However,St. Augustine, who lived an unholy life in his pre-Christian time, seemed to have gotten over his issues and did not seemed to be plagued by images and thoughts.

I think that this guy that chirp refers to stepped into something that he is struggling to get a handle on, but this certainly is not the case with all men. However, I should note that p*rn is a major problem that needs to be addressed in society, among Christians and in the Catholic church.