Friday, August 29, 2003

I finally finished editing my manuscript and now I have to send it in to the publishers. At the present time I am sick of the manuscript. I don't think I could look at it another minute. Nonetheless, I like it very much--now let's see if people like it.

I'm currently working on another novel called One in a Million. I know the characters quite well but I'm not sure where to take the story. It will be a laid back story about friends, one guy is a mid level professional, there's an ambitious professional lady, there's a couple of priests, and a mysterious woman who has her demons.

Also, I had finished a novel that I called For the Wings of a Dove but when my wife read it, she liked it but made a comment about two characters in it that I really liked. She said that they were boring. Well, that comment has caused me to all but revise the entire book to accommodate a new story line for these characters. I think that the novel is going to take another major turn. This it the third time this is happening. The first time, I merged one of my short stories into the completed novel and split a character into two, which resulted in a major overhaul. This time, I want to create additional theaters for the characters. It would result in more editing, but this time, it really is creating and independent story and then fitting it in . . . which, actually, is a lot of work.

Another story I am working on is a science fiction drama that will have some remote ties to Table of the Lord. I am still trying to work out a good and full story. I have a basic thrust and a couple of the characters floating around in my head.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

I am experiencing my first internet scam as a purchaser. Thankfully, I had paid through paypal and they are taking up the issue. I purchased a double stroller from someone who had it on ebay and we struck a deal privately, but he did not honor the deal even though we had paid and has not responded to numerous emails. I hope we can get our money back from paypal. I think we should be able to.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to be at the Kerry2004 meetup tonite. I'd really love to hear what people are saying after the Zogby poll bomb that shows that Dean has surged big time in NH.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Howard Dean is surging along in the Democratic primary race, but I'm still confident about my man John Kerry. While all the other candidates have fluctuated, Kerry's ratings have stayed cosntant. The real test will be when things move south, Kerry is sure to whoop Dean down there. Also the 26 million veteran vote is slowly being mobilized for John Kerry. The Democratic governors have held back on backing Dean which is a good sign for Kerry and not-so-good sign for Dean.

One problem with the Kerry camp is that they are not up to internet speed yet. Dean's folks are raising money out the wazoo on the internet, but Kerry's folks are a little slow on trigger. They are working on a another fundraising drive targetting Bush campaign pioneers, but it seems that it is still days away.

The Buffalo Bills are Back!!!!

Phil Mickleson, golfer, picked the Bills and Rams to go to the Superbowl. Now, you may snicker, but consider this, Mickleson has picked the Superbowl tandem for two years in a row. The Bills are definitely set for a 21 point a game offense. The defense may be middle of the pack, but if they play mistake free and look to be opportunistic, they could be a top ten defense. If that happens, look for them to average 17 points against, which would make for a winning combo. They have to average 2 turnovers a game. The turnover ratio can be negative because they have a potent enough home-run style offense.

I just joined the office pool, $10/week, now I have to explain that to my wife.

Friday, August 22, 2003

According to this quiz I am a "Far-Left Liberal."

Far-Left Liberal
Where do you fall on the liberal - conservative political spectrum? (United States)

brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Dappled Things blog is collecting personality types. My Personality type according to this test is INTP.

Introverted (I) 82% Extraverted (E) 18%

Intuitive (N) 95% Sensing (S) 5%

Thinking (T) 65% Feeling (F) 35%

Perceiving (P) 68% Judging (J) 32%

INTP's are 3.3% of general population.

I've started selling books on Amazon. I listed a few books a couple of days ago and have already sold two. Great!

The problem, though, is that the profit margin is squeezed to death by the fees and competition. Right now, I'm more interested in cash flow, so profit margin will have to be sacrificed.

Also, I've been doing well on ebay with used books. Our store sells used books in house and I decided to start listing them on ebay and I had no idea--but they are flying off the virtual shelf. Thank you Lord!

Now, if only $200 rosaries would fly off the virtual shelves.

One of the most gratifying moments in the world is watching your baby go to sleep, especially yesterday evening.

One amusing thought about having kids is they are proof of the vastly different possibilities of combined looks of you and your spouse. We were not at all prepared for what our first daughter would look like--she caught us and everyone off-guard. For the second, we thought he had an idea, but it is amazing because she is a completely different "template." She looks like us but in a different way.

Now, we are waiting as they develop their personalities to see what traits they possess.

Monday, August 18, 2003

I heard John Kerry on NPR this morning and as usual I was impressed. I thought he sounded composed and succinct. He has clearly mastered the art of the sound bite. There were a couple of things that I was dissappointed with though.

First of all, in light of the blackouts, I was dissappointed that he did not state clearly his energy plan and his 2010 goal of reducing energy dependence by 20%. I know he made a reference to it by saying that he would be a president that supports science, but I wish he had stated that more clearly.

The other thing was he stated his committment to clean water and clean air. The problem is that, while informed observers can connect the dots, clean water and clean air issues do not have the urgent punch for the regular guy. The environmental movement has mostly been a white-upper/middle class thing, which is why the people who tend to be disproportionately affected haven't caught on yet. I think he needs to spell out clear what clean water and clean air means, especially in terms of health and dollars.

Lack of clean air can be linked to the increase in respitory diseases, especially in minority communities, this hurts the health and wellbeing of the black and latino communities. Unclean air also increases health care costs, and decimates our children. He should then give the dollar figures of the impact and also stats on the rise in diseases, and that would make a major impact on listeners.

Similarly, with clean water, he should state clear that our drinking water is under assault and what the health consequences are. He should emphasize the negative impact on businesses, especially small businesses. For instance, I am a Marylander who is very concerned about the Chesapeake Bay. The bay is being starved for oxygen so much so that crabs are climbing cork buoys to get to the surface to breathe and native species are dying out, killing the livelihood of hundreds of fishermen, which would have a huge ripple effect. Also with the death of the bay will come a huge decline in tourism dollars which amounts to billions.

These connections make sense to regular people. So I hope the Senator would connect these dots for people, otherwise, they won't see these things as importantly as they should.

One last point that I think would be psychological impactful would be for Senator Kerry to begin to refer to Mr. Bush as "the current president." I think that has the psychological effect of making people see Bush as temporary.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Washington Post: Tax Cuts Will Do the Job, Bush Says

CRAWFORD, Tex., Aug. 13 -- President Bush said today that he has no plans for new measures to stimulate the economy and that he has faith his tax cuts will fuel job growth over the next year.

Bush, talking to reporters after a ranch summit with his economic team, did not answer directly when asked whether the nation will have as many jobs when he faces reelection as it did when he took office. But he said he believes strongly that his two tax cuts totaling $1.7 trillion are "going to have a very positive effect on economic growth and vitality."

President Bush's economic plan is to cut taxes in favor of the wealthy and then hope it stimulates the economy. One would hope that a President, any President, would have more up his sleeve to stimulate the economy. Clearly not an effective President seeing that he is leaving the economic recovery to chance.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

USA Today tells us that studies show this is what Queen Nefetiri probably looked like:

Glad to see the accuracy in the skin tones, about time the black Egyptians got their props.

Cool! "Catholics for Kerry" has been included on the official John Kerry blog.

You always hear about computer viruses and such but never think it will happen to you. Well, I caught the latest worm at a very inopportunte time. At first I thought it was my Dell computer and so I called Dell, but I couldn;t get through. Fortunately, they had a prompt on the voice response that had an option for dealing with the Microsoft XP problem. So I went to the Microsoft support page, entered the reference number given and was able to download the patch that fixes the problem.

I normally get a prompt that asks me to check for recent updates from Microsoft. Never again will I ignore that.

On the pleasant side of things. We sell used books at our Catholic Gift Store and I decided to put some of them on Ebay. Well, would you know it, I've just about gotten multiple bids on everyone of them. Thank you Jesus!

My "Catholics for Kerry" Yahoo Group is coming along slowly but I hope it builds up steam as the primaries get closer. I think it is important to show that Kerry's positions are not essentially opposed to the Catholic vision of society. There is a disagreement on process rather than goals.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Sunday's reading at Mass was about Elijah. Elijah, in fleeing the king found himself in the desert and was distraught. He then prayed to God to take his life. He went to sleep and "an angel" woke him up and gave him bread to eat for the journey ahead. He ate and was able to journey for 40 days on the strength of that bread.

Here's my pastor's interpretation:

When the Bible said that "an angel" woke him up and gave him bread, it meant "angel" in its literal philological sense, i.e. a messenger. So what actually happened was not that a winged creature from Heaven showed up, but that a nomad, of which many roamed the deserts, saw Elijah and offered him food to eat.

FTR (For the record), I believe a winged creature came down and (you know the rest). My wife and I and a friend were wondering were these "rationalistic" interpretations come from. Why do many pastors relish giving these interpretations that completely undercut and undermine the miraculous? My wife and our friend thought that there was something more sinister in their motives.

My take is that these pastors often have not much faith and seek these rationalistic explanations to be able to swallow these bible stories. Now, if they are struggling with such stories and they are priests, their thinking, then, is that most parishioners would struggle with these miraculous stories also. So then, they do not hesitate to share their views in order to help parishioners wrap their minds around these stories and accounts.

The question this all leads me to anyway, is this, is belief in miracles a necessary part of the Christian faith? I would say so.

Another problem this all highlights is the problem of faith in the Catholic Church. The Catholic system is frontloaded with faith. What i mean is that it is the Church's faith that counts in everything that requires a leap of faith, e.g. the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, the infallibilty of the Pope, the nature of sacraments, etc. The faithful are asked to believe in the Church an dher faith. Belief in the Church then circumvents having to personally invest one's faith in believing in each of these things. In fact, one does not have to specifically reflect and address these individual issues, because faith in the Church suffices. For example, I don't have to believe that at the mass, bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, for it to happen. It is the Church's faith that precedes mine and makes it happen.

The result of this is that Catholics, on the whole, tend to be weak on personal faith. (This weakness, in addition to what I have outlined, is also attributable to the Church's veneration of human reason--this is played out in practice by the fact that the Church gives rational explanations of most things, if not all. By "rational," I mean use of reason).

Sunday, August 10, 2003

I just started a new group at Yahoo called Catholics for Kerry.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

I watched on CSPAN the Democratic presidential nominees tonite at the AFL-CIO presidential forum. This was the first time that I was actually impressed with all of them. Even Kucinich, Braun and Sharpton were making sense with specific policy aims.

Here's my assessment:

John Kerry--It is clear that he believes that the nomination is his to lose. he seemed very confident and it is clear that he is the most substantive of all the candidates. He didn't dissappoint, but showed that his formidable resume counts for something. I thought he had the best line of the night when he said that Bush' giveaways to the wealthy is trickle down economics and the American people are tired of being trickled on. Kerry clearly felt as though he were a true presidential candidate. he frequently spoke beyond his allotted time and was not intimidate by the calls to cease his remarks.

Howard Dean--Dean's feistiness reminds me of Bush during his campaign. Dean was solid, exciting and was as advertised. The problem is that he is not smooth and he relies too much on his head. The problem is that if you are not Bill Clinton, ultra-smooth, then you appear disorganized if you ramble from the head. I thought he present himself well and presidential.

Dick Gephardt--Gephardt, besides the two mentioned above, was the only other one who appeared presidential, in terms of confidence and presence. I guess because he is very comfortable among Unions. He certainly felt at home as he pitched his ideas to the type of people who would most likely buy them.

Kucinich, I think, scored major points. He clearly made himself the darling of the Unions and the left. I was impressed by his fiestiness and apparent political deftness. It is clear that he has received a boost from Nader and his musician friends.

Graham was lackluster. He called Sammy Sosa, "Sammy Sosha." He was not smooth, he lacked the confidence needed, except when he was in his element on homeland security. He would be a great asset to any administration. I hope he accepts such an invitation.

Liebermann--I've written him off. There really is no difference between him and Bush. He is what Bush with common sense should be. He also lacks presence and personality and still has to prove that he won't be a mouthpiece for the kenneset (sp?) Ironically, Jewish voters are said to prefer Dean, whose wife is Jewish, and Kerry, whose dad or someone in his family is Jewish. The problem with Liebermann is that I've heard him use the exact words that Ariel Sharon used in a speech on "dismantling the infrastructure of terrorism." That was a red flag. He needs to distinguish himself as independent and also from the others, how? I have no idea.

John Edwards was the most surprising. He was definitely ill-at-ease except for one great moment when he smiled and relaxed and turned on the southern charm. He was shallow on specifics in terms of substantive policies. He really doesn't seem ready for the big time. I think one more term in the Senate and he'll have the fluidity on the big issues.

Sharpton was, as usual, the most exciting and I was pleasantly surpised to hear him talk substantive policy. For instance, on health care, he pointed out that 25 percent of pharmaceutical costs go to adminsitration and marketing and if we had a guaranteed single payer system, then that would elimiated the need for marketing, which would bring costs down. Pretty clever.

Carol Mosley-Baun also was quite good. It is clear that she is auditioning and I think that she has acquitted herself very well. She is championing the cause of women in this Demcratic field. I like her health care ideas.

Gephardt and Dean will never win the Southern states, which is why I pray they don't win the nomination. Gephardt believes that it is the midwestern states that are the swing states, and that's where he can deliver. I still don't buy it. Dean, I don't think, will jive well with the South. He is too brusque and elitist.

I feel that Kerry is the only one with a shot at the South. He has the impressive resume that transcends region. Also he was a Vietnam Vet. Now, this is an elite tea-cup type, who went to Yale and could have weaseled out of Vietnam, but the man signed up and took the bullets. You have to respect a man like that. I think his war experience will give him credibilty in the South. It is similar to JFK who fought in the war, admirably. You have to respect a man like that. The other factor about the south is that Bush will bring voters out of the woodwork, who hate him enough to vote for the other person. I also think that Bill Clinton can deliver Arkansas for him. There's a shot at Oklahoma. South Carolina should not be ruled out. Florida is a definite possibility. Well, we'll see.

Powell has denied the discussion of his leaving as "gossip."

The interesting thing is that this is Powell's finest hour. No one is talking about how the State department has gotten North Korea to agree to multi-lateral talks and has ended the nuclear showdown.

It is quite simply a testament to common sense and the power of diplomacy. Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Scooter, etc, take note.

Thankfully, the daily reports of soldier's deaths in Iraq have stop and it looks like the security for our men and women is improving.

Via Facts on the Ground blog

Monday, August 04, 2003

The Washington Post is reporting that Colin Powell and Richard Armitage are retiring from the State Department after Bush's term is up.

Powell has been under immense pressure as a moderate dove among reactionary hawks. He has been criticized for not being forceful enough on Bush's conservative handlers' policies. But I think the present N. Korea situation speaks volumes on his effectiveness. He has taken an intractable situation and provided a viable diplomatic solution.

Dr. Rice and Wolfowitz are reported to be front runners for the Secretary of State position. Wolfowitz would be a disaster. He would be much better off as national security adviser. I think Rice has been tainted by this whole unranium flap. She just doesn't seem to have a voice in this administration. Her roles seems to be interpretive as she mediates between internal warring factions: state and defense.

Hopefully, Powell will return in some capacity to serve on tha national level, perhaps on the Democratic ticket or cabinet position, when the Democrats take back the White House. (And someone please tell Hillary not to run for President, we'll lose!!)

In the past three years I've seen marriages among some of my friends who are in their late 30s. For some reason, that tends to be most gratifying for me, because it reinforces the idea that patience eventually pays off. If you are patient, you will eventually meet mr. right-if you are a woman:) or ms. right-if you are a man:).

I was reading from Bishop Gregory's comments about the CDF document against Homosexual unions. He notes that it is "formal cooperation" if a Catholic legislator legislates in favor of such unions.

Formal cooperation is when one's intentions converge with the intention of another person who is performing an intrinsically evil act. For instance, a nurse assisting in a direct abortion is formal coorperating with the act and is culpable. Informal cooperation is when one performs an action that is abused by another. An example is if a cab driver drives a thief to the bank. The driver cooperated because his direct action got the evil doer to the bank. But the cooperation is informal because it was not his intention to drive this guy or gal to the bank to rob the bank.

So by calling legislative actions in favor of homosexual unions "formal cooperation" the stakes are being raised considerably. Homosexual unions are being labelled as intrinsically evil. This means that no amount of good intentions can make these unions good. What if they decided to life chaste lives? The fact that it is intrinsically evil makes the chastity irrelevant.

One issue here that the US Catholic Church needs to spell out is the relationship between the Church and the Legislative arm of society. How does a Catholic politician not become a mouthpiece for the Church? This is precisely what the anti-Catholicism of decades ago, in JFK's time was all about. There was always the fear that the Vatican would insert itself into national politics by imposing moral mandates on the consciences of Catholic legislators.

This document on homosexuality was, quite frankly, tactless. They should have taken a page from what the Pope did in Evangelium Vitae, where he introduced powerful ideas and phrases into the Catholic general lexicon and these ideas then found their way into the political discourse. That's the way to influence Catholic legislators not by commanding them on how to vote.

CWN Story:Canadian prelate warns: political leader jeopardizes soul

Calgary's Bishop Fred Henry has warned that Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien is risking his eternal salvation by proposing legislation in favor of homosexual marriage.

"He's putting at risk his eternal salvation," the bishop said in an interview with the Globe and Mail. "I pray for the Prime Minister because I think his eternal salvation is in jeopardy."

In advancing the cause of same-sex marriage, Chretien "is making a morally grave error and he's not being accountable to God." said Bishop Henry. He continued: "He doesn't understand what it means to be a good Catholic."

Is there a punchline or is the Bishop really serious about the Prime Minister going to Hell?