Wednesday, June 29, 2005

How Stella Got Taken

Terry McMillian's Epilogue to "Grove" Affair

That groove that Terry McMillan got back on her tropical vacation, when she met the hot young Jamaican stud Jonathan Plummer, who rearranged all her atoms into a new transcendental orbit? Who inspired the bestseller "How Stella Got Her Groove Back"? Which became the box-office sensation with Angela Bassett and a torso-writhing Taye Diggs? With the shower scene and the beach scene, which some women have watched with yearning and hope, oh, 89 times?


Worse, gone down low .

In a pending California divorce that is getting uglier by the hour, McMillan, 53, claims that Plummer, 30, is gay and manipulated her into marriage to become a U.S. citizen. She contends he wants to bust their prenup and get at some of the millions she has earned as a best-selling author.

Plummer, in documents filed with Contra Costa County Superior Court, claims that McMillan is "homophobic" and bent on revenge. He didn't know he was gay when he met her in 1995 on a beach in Negril, he told the San Francisco Chronicle, which first reported about the breakup on Sunday.

"It was devastating to discover that a relationship I had publicized to the world as life-affirming and built on mutual love was actually based on deceit," McMillan wrote in her declaration to the court. "I was humiliated."

And frightened, said her attorney, Jill Hersh.

"It's very scary for her," Hersh said yesterday, "because he appears to have been living a dual life that has left her exposed to disease." Asked whether McMillan had been tested for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, Hersh said, "I'm not going to discuss that."

McMillan is on vacation before a 10-city tour begins next month for her next book and unavailable for comment, said a spokeswoman for her publisher.

Plummer was occupied doing television interviews and also could not be reached for comment. His cousin, Mark Plummer, who said he was serving as "media liaison," said Jonathan "didn't know what he was when he met Terry. He didn't know a lot about a lot of things. About this time last summer, he tried to have this discussion with her. He had felt the rumblings in himself for a while and felt a shift in himself. . . . The physical aspect of their relationship had dissolved."

"Nonsense," says J.L. King, author of "On the Down Low: A Journey Into the Lives of 'Straight' Black Men Who Sleep With Men."

"He knew he was gay," says King. "I feel so sorry for her. It's a devastating time."

Last night, McMillan seemed to acknowledge she has joined a new sisterhood: "She is very much aware that many women across the country are faced with situations such as this," read a statement sent by her personal publicist, "and just like those women she will not let this detract from the many blessings in her life." [...]

Well, that sucks. I hear the dude is also getting a sweet $2,000/month spousal support deal and attorney fees of $25,000. What a loser.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Blacks and Mental Illness

Racial Disparities in Pinpointing Mental Illness

John Zeber recently examined one of the nation's largest databases of psychiatric cases to evaluate how doctors diagnose schizophrenia, a disorder that often portends years of powerful brain-altering drugs, social ostracism and forced hospitalizations.

Although schizophrenia has been shown to affect all ethnic groups at the same rate, the scientist found that blacks in the United States were more than four times as likely to be diagnosed with the disorder as whites. Hispanics were more than three times as likely to be diagnosed as whites.

Zeber, who studies quality, cost and access issues for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, found that differences in wealth, drug addiction and other variables could not explain the disparity in diagnoses: "The only factor that was truly important was race."

The analysis of 134,523 mentally ill patients in a VA registry is by far the largest national sample to show broad ethnic disparities in the diagnosis of serious mental disorders in the United States.

The data confirm the fears of experts who have warned for years that minorities are more likely to be misdiagnosed as having serious psychiatric problems. "Bias is a very real issue," said Francis Lu, a psychiatrist at the University of California at San Francisco. "We don't talk about it -- it's upsetting. We see ourselves as unbiased and rational and scientific."

As the ranks of America's patients and doctors become more diverse, psychiatrists such as Lu are spearheading a movement to address the problem. Clinicians need to be trained in "cultural competence," they say, to prevent misdiagnosis and harm.

Psychiatrist Heather Hall, a colleague of Lu's, said she had to correct the diagnoses of about 40 minorities over a two-year period. She estimated that one in 10 patients referred to her came with a misdiagnosis such as schizophrenia, a disorder characterized by social withdrawal, communication problems, and psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.

I've mentioned my concern before about Blacks and mental illness. There is clearly an institutional problem here, i.e., healthcare professionals not treating Blacks as they would Whites. This is always a problem. But there is an equally huge problem on the cultural side of the equation.

Like HIV/AIDS, there is a huge, huge, huge stigma attached to mental illness. Even your run-of-the-mill depression is not easily accepted in the Black community. Whatever solultions are developed, it must be two-pronged to be effective. It must target the healthcare system and also the cultural factors.

Monday, June 27, 2005

I had to laugh . . .

Unapologetic Catholic has a post on full disclosure. Here's my favorite part:

Some teenager asked Fr. X this question, “As a member of the clergy, is it difficult for you to lead a celibate life? Don’t you feel like you’re missing out on something?”
A touching and poignant answer, and there were smiles about the room. Suddenly, all eleven of my bullshit detectors went off like a wolfpack of diving World War II submarines. Don’t ask me how I knew, but I knew Fr. X had just lied his ass off.

I'm putting in an order for a few detectors myself. Clearly, one can't have too many.

Billy Graham, Defender of Civil Rights

Chuck Currie reminds us about Billy Graham's courageous stands in the Civil Rights era

"We will absolutely, unequivocably, never, negotiate with terrorists"

Yeah, right!

U.S. Officials Confirm Talks with Insurgents

The U.S. military in Iraq has been holding face-to-face meetings with some Iraqi leaders of the insurgency there, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the U.S. commander in charge of Iraq confirmed yesterday.

The talks are part of the military's revised campaign to drive a wedge between the Iraqi and foreign insurgents, according to U.S. commanders. Pentagon officials have acknowledged the new strategy but have not, until now, spoken openly about efforts to make contact with some Iraqi insurgent leaders.

Asked to respond to a report that U.S. military representatives had meetings with several Sunni Iraqi insurgents twice in June, Rumsfeld told Fox News that "there have probably been many more than that" and described the contacts as an effort to "split people off and get some people to be supportive" of the political process in Iraq.

Other parts of the U.S. government, including the State Department and CIA, have also been holding secret meetings with Iraqi insurgent factions in an effort to stop the violence and coax them into the political process, according to U.S. government officials and others who have participated in the efforts.

The military plan, approved in August 2004, seeks to make a distinction between Iraqi insurgents who are attacking U.S. troops because they are hostile to their presence, and foreign insurgents who are responsible for most of the suicide bombings -- which have killed more than 1,200 people in the past couple of months -- and whose larger political aims are unclear.


G.W. Bush is a liar, incompetent, useless, and everything pathetic. Nuff said.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Oh, Gentle Snowflakes, will you ever learn?

Are we "Gentle snowflakes"? or is there one whom we do not know? Things that make you go hmmm.

Rocco responds to my criticism yesterday.

My wife has been teaching me in the past few years a couple of things. First, people cannot read your mind, so they can't know what you're thinking unless you tell them. Secondly, if you must criticize, begin with a compliment. Something like, "That guy has great teeth, but he is an idiot." You see how that clearly takes the edge off the criticism.

Anyway, I think my tone about Whispers blog was far too negative than I actually feel about the blog. I expect it to be clear that I have far more admiration for the blog and author than I have criticisms, and that should be obvious (how? you ask. I dunno, it just is obvious!!). I think what it was was that I used the blog as an occasion to vent about a pet peeve thus giving a mistaken impression.

I think Mr Palmo is doing a great job. It is refreshing to have a positive and interesting source of very good journalism in the Catholic blog world. It is infinitely better than having to check in with those who think gays are the scourge of western civilization and anything to the left of Patrick Buchanan is heresy punishable by death.

Okay, this is how the entry should have read yesterday.

I make it a point in my schedule to read Whispers in the Loggia, at least twice a week. (I generally can only make it to approx 10-20 blogs a day-counting the political ones) so it is tough to keep up. I think his blog is a refreshing addition to the Catholic blogging world with timely insights and, on the whole, balanced reporting and commentary. At times, I do feel he unfairly maligns and dismisses those with clearly define political biases. Notwithstanding, my experience with the blog has been far more positive than negative and I hope he continues his great work. (How are we doing so far? . . . good.)

Then, the vent about the "exalted middle" should have been a totally separate post, unrelated to the Whisper's blog. Because, trust me, that is a stand-alone vent.

I just feel, people like Rocco should be encouraged in the Catholic community and not attacked with sharp knives. Creeps who subtely encourage or engender dislike of gays and political correctness are every bit deserving of sharp knives. This was clearly a case of using a canon to shoot a fly . . . in someone else's yard.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Twilight Zone Episode on Manequins

I watched the Twilight Zone on Sci Fi the other night. I should say that I get freaked out easily, but I am powerless to stop myself from watching stuff that freaks me out . . . alone and at night. I once watched a couple of Stephen King movies by myself in a 60 room dorm during a school break when no one was around. Talk about hearing noises.

Anyway, this episode was about a lady who went to the 9th floor of a department store. There were a lot of fixtures but they were bare. She approached a sales lady and asked if she had a gold thimble. The lady said that she did. It was perfect. Then the buyer lady got freaked out. How is it that you have absolutely nothing, no merchandise here, but this gold thimble that I wanted? Sales lady smiled. Then the elevator opens up and the elevator guy says, "going down!" Buyer lady gets in the elevator is explaining how freaked out she is. This guy keeps saying, "Complaints are level 3" and promptly drops her off. She then complains to the manager who informs her that there is no 9th floor.

She then sees the back of the sales lady and screams, "That's her! the lady who sold me the thimble!" and then she watches in horror as an employee turns the sales lady around and carries her away. She was a manequin. (Okay, I was more than a touch freaked out at this point).

Anyway, [I missed couple of minutes], she apparently falls asleep in the store I think while waiting to speak to a manager and wakes up after hours. She's locked in and can't get out. She then hears the manequins talking to her and she thinks she sees them move. There's a few minutes of bumping into things and trying to run until she backs into a wall or something and starts to cry. Then thimble sales lady calls her. Buyer lady is asking what's going on? Sales lady is saying, "remember."

Finally, it comes to her slowly. She actually, like the rest of them, is a manequin. And each manequin takes a month out of the year to be like the rest of us. But apparently she had forgotten and was a day late. It was no the sales lady's turn. And so everyone then wished fun and all that stuff and returned to being manequin. The next morning the manager notices the buyer lady manequin and pauses . . . "No! It can't be!" As he walks away.

I love the Twilight Zone, but it can be hit or miss and this one was a hit: freaky and unexpected. My favorites? I have to say that this one and the one with the blind-without-the-glasses guy who loved to read books and was the only one to survive a world ending nuclear explosion because he was in a vault secretly reading books. The catch was that as he walked around and witnessed the devastation he comes upon the library and almost has an out-of-body experience in seeing all the books. He claps his hands in glee which causes his glasses to fall to the ground and break. Yep, Oh, crap, buddy!

The Exalted Middle

I read Whispers in the Loggia every now and then, about twice a week. There is a reason I can't read him more often. Even though I suspect he's more on my side of things on the political spectrum, I can't stand his self-righteous exalted middle stance (i.e, the conservatives say this, the liberals say that, but I say . . .). But it appears it's not only me. This was in his comment box today:

I doubt I am the only one getting rather sick of your pretended "even handedness" between the "cons" (i.e. orthodox Catholics) and radical liberals (i.e. heterodox), positinioning yourself (a moderate liberal) in medio ecclesia.

I have no problem at all with moderates. I have a problem with the notion that moderates are superior because they are free from the biases and passions that characterize each side. I once heard a reporter say that "the average between the truth and a lie is a lie." Moderation as an a priori principle regardless of the issue is useless. Everyone can claim to be moderate and everyone can be said to be one side or the other, it is simply perspective.

I'm a firm believer in conviction. Wherever your convictions place you is where you are. If it is in the middle then so be it. If on the left or right, or far left or far-right, so be it. This was what John Henry Newman discovered as an Anglican. Prior to his conversion to Catholicism, he held the Via Media principle, the middle way. This, until in reflecting on history, he realized that the moderate stance in the Arian heresy would have been Semi-Arianism, which was a heresy. You can multiply the examples.

Just a pet peeve, soap box thing. I just get tired of the conservatives saying their thing and the liberals saying their thing. I'm just glad that I'm above the partisanship and able to see both sides clearly unlike the liberals and conservatives.

Via Needlenose

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Favorite Hymns

Over at Welborn's blog, she linked to a NPM (National Pastoral Musicians) survey asking about favorite hymn and why. Of course, the conservative masses have rushed to rain invective and their favorite latin hymn on the comment boxes of the NPM survey.

I'm not interested in the survey, but it made me think what my favorite hymns are. I think these would be among my favorites:

O God Our Help in Ages Past
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
Just As I Am Without One Plea
I Surrender All
Who is on the Lord Side
Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus
Onward Christian Soldiers
Rejoice, The Lord is King
All Hail the Power of Jesus Name

That's what I can remember. I think they tend to fall into two categories: 1. power, 2. Surrender and service

Also, they are all Protestant hymns. Catholic hymn writing is still relatively young and we'll get very good ones with time. I just don't like the current ones too much. Also, my spirituality is more Protestant so those ol' time Wesley and Isaac Watts hymns do it for me.

Howeva, on the Catholic side, I do like "I am the bread of life," but then again, that is not a "Catholic" hymn, is it? I like "O come, O Come, Emmanuel" but it's not fair to throw Christmas hymns in there. They are simply in a class of their own. In Welborn's comment boxes, I say people throw in things like Ave Verum Corpus. I don't think I am wrong in saying that that's not a hymn. A latin hymn that I absolutely love is Ave Maria, O Maiden, O Mother. You can donate $20 to EWTN and ask for their Ecce Mater Dei CD and there's a bunch of kick-butt Marian hymns on there.

The Art of Acting: Russell Crowe, Will Smith and other guys

TNT has been running The Gladiator the past few weeks and I have seen my share of all or part of the movie. It is a classic. I saw it twice at the movies. The first time, it was just stunning and then I dragged my wife to go see it. The one part that really bothers me is the end, when Maximus is dying and approaching the "door" of death and then opens it up and enters the "afterlife." I find the imagery so stark and jarring, it really upset me. Now, it doesn't bother me much because I guess I know to expect it.

Also, on either on FX, Bravo or AMC, they've been running Independence Day, one of my favorites. Independence Day and Enemy of the State are two movies that I think Will Smith is excellent in. I was reflecting on this the other day and made an observation.

In ID or Eof State, Will Smith is playing himself. So he is being who he'd actually be if he was a figher pilot or Georgetown DC lawyer being screwed. As a result he is natural, funny, yet serious, and most importantly, believable. Jeff Goldblum is the same way. His characters are himself in varied situations. Tom Cruise is somewhat similar, you never forget that it is Tom Cruise, but his brilliance is the he makes you believe that he is actually in that situation, i.e, dragging a pre-cog through a mall, etc.

On the other hand, you have the Russell Crowes of the world. This guy is brilliant. He becomes the character and you actually buy into it. So in LA Confidential, he was was the hot-tempered cop, in Beautiful Mind, we weren't watching Crowe but Professor Nash and in Gladiator, we aren't watching Crowe but Maximus.

One of my favorite scenes in the Gladiator is after a fight, he is being led back to the holding pen and one of his friends is calling out, "General! General!" Maximus notices him, the next few seconds are amazing: you can see the wheels spining in Maximus' head as he realizes that this is his chance to think up a plan. A second later he shouts to his friend as he is being led, "where are you camped?" "Ostia" is the reply. Again, you see Maximus thinking hard and quickly, again, being led by soldiers, and then he pushes into the crowd to shake a couple of hands and bumps into his friend, "Tell the men their General lives. Find me, find me!"

Why that scene? Don't know. I just realized the other day, that I bought it and that takes a great actor to do that. I also thought Joaquin Phoenix was great. Something about those dark eyes makes his psychosis very convincing. He also pulled it off in Signs. Commodus in Gladiator is quite different from "swing away" Merrill in Signs, a testament to his acting prowess. I did not care much for his character in The Village, but then again, I did not care much for The Village. I have one word for that movie, stupid.

It seems that most of the big name male actors of our time are more themselves in movie types, that great "character actors": Tom Cruise, Nicholas Cage, Sean Connery, Denzel Washington, Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman, which is why their successfull I guess. This way, people know what they are getting in each movie.

Tom Hanks and Russell Crowe would be exceptions. Even Al Pacino is pretty much the same guy in all his movies, which is great if you love Al Pacino. Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall and Dustin Hoffman are more tricky. Dustin Hoffman is the same in all his movies, but he takes it step further. For instance, in Rain Man, that's Dustin Hoffman if he was Autistic, get it? DeNiro and Duvall, are great, and I'm not quite sure what "type" they fall into. Also, Robert Redford comes to mind. I generally don't like his stuff and don't care much for him, with the exception of the exceptional Spy Game. But I think Redford is the same in every movie . . . Clint Eastwood, same.

How about Brad Pitt? Let's see. . . I've seen A River Runs Through It (very good), Twelve Monkeys (dumb movie, couldn't finish it), Seven years in Tibet (very good), Meet Joe Black (excellent movie with Anthony Hopkins), Spy Game (outstanding), and Ocean's Eleven (actually very good). You know what? Come to think of it, Brad Pitt is actually a very good character actor and he isn't necessarily the same in every movie. He does give you a distinct character that makes you forget Brad Pitt.

On a final note, Matt Damon comes to mind. He is the same guy in every movie and I'm not particularly crazy about him. I do have to say though that he was excellent in the Jason Bourne movies.

Eternal Rest Grant Him . . .

Cobb Island Man, 75, Killed in Route 301 Crash

Cobb Island Man, 75, Killed in Route 301 Crash

By Jonathan Abel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 23, 2005; SM03

A Cobb Island man who was known for his gifts to residents of a La Plata nursing home died Monday morning when a tractor-trailer slammed into his car on Route 301 south of Faulkner.

Robert James Norris, 75, was turning onto Route 301 at Crossover Road about 7:45 a.m. when he drove his 2004 Cadillac Deville into the path of the southbound truck. The truck struck Norris's car on the passenger side.

Norris was taken to Civista Medical Center in La Plata, where he died soon after arriving. Police closed southbound 301 for 2 1/2 hours while they investigated the crash. The driver of the truck, 44-year-old Jimmy Dewayne Davis of Alabama, was not injured or charged in the accident.

Relatives remembered Norris as an extremely generous man. He visited a nursing home in La Plata practically every day to give candy, fruit and toys to the residents, said his cousin Steven Norris.

"He said for a $2 teddy bear they would smile all over themselves," his cousin said.

Robert Norris lived all his life on Cobb Island. When he was 16 years old his father died, and he was left to earn money to support his mother and four younger sisters.

Norris never married, his cousin said, because "he had too many responsibilities to think about himself."

Norris retired in the mid-1970s after years of running his own general store on Cobb Island and working as an oysterman.His Island Seafood company sold oysters and crabs from a boat, said his cousin, who worked with him.

Other interests included religion. His sister Lillian Irene Perk said Norris was very involved with his church, Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Issue, where he helped with Communion services. In addition to his cousin Steven Norris and sister Lillian Perk of White Plains, Norris is survived by his sisters Doris Jean Carter of Cumberland, Mary Elizabeth Hill of Charlotte Hall and Catherine N. Oliver of Waldorf.

Last year in November, an elderly gentleman came into our store because he had heard that we sold used books. He was stoutly built, moved quikly and he seemed to breathe with some difficulty, but that did not slow him down. He was so excited by the selection of used books he began whipping them of the shelves (not literally). At some point, I was concerned, I did not want him to over commit himself. He asked us to add it up and it came to a couple hundred dollars and his response was, "That's it?" He then proceeded to get a bunch more.

Over the next few months he would come in and buy things in bulk, like holy cards, posters, rosaries, etc. Soon we came to realize that he gave these things away. He was a very interesting and pleasant man to deal with. He always said that it made him happy to give away this stuff.

Most recently, about a month ago, he bought our entire stock of used books and a few hundred dollars worth of stuff to give out. The next morning, a friend of his brought a truck to haul the used books away. It was then I got more info on this gentleman. I found out that he had been a very successfull local business man and that he had a heart of gold. This person said that he more money than he knew what to do with, but he was very, very generous.

So it was with extreme sadness that I opened up our local regional paper yesterday and found out that he had been killed in an accident. The weird part is that he had asked me to call him in a couple of months from his last visit to see what else we had and I was thinking about calling. Oh well, c'est la vie.

He is now home, where we all want to be. You just hate to see it happen like this. Well, Godspeed, sir!

Women are "domestic appliances"

So says a racing world boss
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indy Racing League driver Danica Patrick is upset at Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and confused by his comments likening women to "domestic appliances."

Patrick received a telephone call from Ecclestone last week during which he congratulated the IRL rookie for her performance at the Indianapolis 500, but also reiterated remarks he had made during an interview at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the United States Grand Prix was being held.

Among the comments Ecclestone made in the interview and to Patrick was that "women should be all dressed in white like all other domestic appliances."

"I just didn't make sense of it," Patrick said during an IRL teleconference this week. "I was surprised, I guess, somebody would say that to me. And the days after, when it actually came out in the press, people were asking me 'What do you think of that?'

"I was like, 'You know what he told me? He said that on the phone."'

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Donut Woes

Krispy Kreme forced out six executives today as the company remains in free fall. So what seems to be the problem? It's hard to say. I think the problem is that their donuts are too fluffy. I can wolf one down in one bite. They need to come up with a man's donut. This is where I come in. I will start a business someday with the One Pound Donut (Trade Mark thingy) . . .

This will be one pound of chewy masculine dough that a man would feel like man diving into. It will be heavy, substantial and fit to make a man growl. That's the kind of donut I'm talking about. My friend, size matters.

Tagged . . . Again

Faithful Progressive tagged me for the book meme, but haha I was previously tagged. So might I cheat and make reference to my previous response?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Big Fat Greek Wedding

Watched the Big Fat Greek Wedding over the weekend. I had resisted for the longest time. Two thumbs way up. Very funny. Very good movie.

Climate Change Key to Africa's Future

Climate 'key to African future'

Efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa will fail unless urgent action is taken to halt climate change, a coalition of aid and environment groups claims.
The Working Group on Climate Change and Development says the G8 nations have so far failed to "join the dots" between climate change and Africa.

The group's concerns are echoed in a separate report from the UK's leading body of scientists, the Royal Society.

The leaders of the major industrial nations meet in Scotland On 6-8 July.

'Closer attention'

The Working Group on Climate Change and Development is an alliance of 21 UK-based charities and environment groups.

Their report, Africa: Up in Smoke? calls for deeper emission cuts in rich countries and for the G8 to make new funding available to help poor countries adapt to global warming.

Governments had to recognise that dealing with climate change was part of the answer of getting people out of poverty in Africa, said Sarah La Trobe, policy officer for climate change and disasters at the charity Tearfund.

"Efforts to reduce poverty in Africa are not going to work without attention to this issue," she told the BBC News website.

"Governments have to recognise that. They must make faster progress with countries that are suffering." The working group wants:

Rich countries to go far beyond their Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
An end to the exploitation of fossil fuels in Africa and help for local people to utilise sustainable and renewable energy
Increased support for small-scale agriculture
A flexible development approach to respond to climate change at a local level.
'Vulnerable' agriculture

The Royal Society is also calling for G8 leaders to commit to helping Africa cope with climate change.

New data suggests the impact of climate change on crop production on the continent will be more severe than previously thought.

In its report, Food Crops in a Changing Climate, based on discussions in April by experts on climate change and crop production, the UK science academy says Africa is predicted to be one of the worst hit areas of the world.

Professor Brian Hoskins, a fellow of the Royal Society and one of the organisers of the meeting, said: "The threat of climate change to an already vulnerable Africa cannot be underestimated.

"The changes in weather patterns which we expect to see, such as more extreme temperatures and changes in rainfall, have potentially disastrous consequences for a continent which relies so heavily on rain-fed agriculture."

The Royal Society says African scientists need to be trained and equipped in how to deal with the changing climate such as by collecting weather forecasting data that would allow farmers to take action to protect their crops.

Fair enough, the climate is crucial, but give me a break. How about some help on the biotech engineered crops front. Isn't the EU giving African governments a hard time by not allowing genetically altered crops? Or how about some real fair trade worldwide and let African farmers compete fairly in the marketplace? The climate effects of lack of rain, etc, can be gotten around by technology, the problems are far deeper than that.

Missing Link

I swear, if I see one more Sci Fi show in which they say, "Oh my God! I've never seen something like this before. This must be the missing link!" If I hear that one more time, I will sue the Sci Fi channel and anyone within striking distance.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Friends help you live longer


Good friends promise to be there for you, and their presence can actually help you live longer, researchers say.

Australian scientists said having friends around in old age can do more for life expectancy than having family members around.


This is why women's rights and dignity issues are important

Woman ordered to marry rapist

An Indian woman who was allegedly raped by her father-in-law is now being ordered by a Muslim council of community elders to marry him.
The council says under Islamic law the rape has nullified her marriage, according to media reports.

But a top Muslim body in India has rejected the argument saying it is not valid under Sharia (Islamic) law. It says the council was not authorised to give such a verdict and added that the alleged rapist should be punished.

Reports say the 28-year-old woman was raped when she was alone at home in Charthawal, in the norther Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. When the incident came to the notice of the council, it ordered that she marry her father-in-law and change her relationship with her husband to that between a mother and son.

It also ordered her to leave her home and stay away for seven month and 10 days to become "pure".

Police action

A senior police officer, Amrinder Singh Senger, told the BBC that police have now filed a case against the woman's father-in-law . The victim has also been examined by doctors and police have recorded her statement.

India's National Commission of Women has also asked for a report from the government in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where the incident took place.

"We have requested the government to take action against the guilty and also pay compensation to the victim," NCW president Girija Vyas told the BBC.

A representative of a top Muslim body in India, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said the case should be dealt under Islamic law.

"Under the Sharia law, whatever happened with the victim is wrong and if her father-in-law has raped her, he should be sentenced to death," the representative, Zafarab Geelani, said.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Consider the Lilies

Image hosted by

Picture's a little blurry and the flowers came out more as pink than the orange they are. Anyway, in an attempt to soften the image of this blog, I decided to show a soothing picture of beautiful flowers . . . before I stomped the hell out of them.

Senate Apologizes for Lynching

Please note Senator Kerry's comments in bold:

A Senate Apology for History on Lynching

Vote Condemns Past Failure to Act

By Avis Thomas-Lester, Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 14, 2005; A12

The U.S. Senate last night approved a resolution apologizing for its failure to enact federal anti-lynching legislation decades ago, marking the first time the body has apologized for the nation's treatment of African Americans.

One-hundred and five years after the first anti-lynching bill was proposed by a black congressman, senators approved by a voice vote Resolution 39, which called for the lawmakers to apologize to lynching victims, survivors and their descendants, several of whom watched from the gallery.

"There may be no other injustice in American history for which the Senate so uniquely bears responsibility," Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said before the vote.

Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), who with Landrieu led the resolution effort, said the vote finally put the Senate "on the record condemning the brutal atrocity that plagued our great nation."

The moment lacked the drama of the fiery Senate filibusters that blocked the legislation three times in the past century. There were few senators on the floor last night and no roll call, no accounting for each vote. But 80 of the Senate's 100 members signed on as co-sponsors, signaling their support.

Missing from that list were senators from the state that reported the most lynching incidents: Mississippi Republicans Trent Lott and Thad Cochran.

"I am personally struck," Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said, "even at this significant moment, by the undeniable and inescapable reality that there aren't 100 senators and co-sponsors. Maybe by the end of the evening there will be, but as we stand here with this resolution now passed by voice vote, there aren't."

In passing the measure, the senators in essence admitted that their predecessors' failure to act had helped perpetuate a horror that took the lives of more than 4,700 people from 1882 to 1968, most of them black men. At the turn of the last century, more than 100 lynching incidents were reported each year, many of them publicly orchestrated to humiliate the victims and instill fear in others. Lynching occurred in all but four states in the contiguous United States, and less than 1 percent of the perpetrators were brought to justice, historians say. [...]

I wonder, besides the 2 Senators from Mississippi, I wonder what the Party break down of the absentees was? Let me guess, they probably were mostly if not all Republican. Of course, an event like this brings out the shameless on the other side of the aisle who parrot the "what about Robert Byrd?" Guess what? Senator Byrd's actions were in times past and he has apologized and distanced himself from them, but we are talking about today, in this day and age, guess what Party houses and nurtures present day racism?

Of course, the joke here is that George Allen of Virginia, who is a 2008 Presidential candidate is co-sponsoring this to cover up the fact that in the not-to-distant past, he hung a hoose in front of his house and proudly displayed a confederate flag in his living room. Good ol' life values there.

I Suppose Sucking in My Gut Will Not Help

Fat Found to Accelerate the Aging Process

Obesity Adds Equivalent of Nine Years to Appearance of Cells, Study Says

By Rob Stein, Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 14, 2005; A02

Scientists have produced the first direct evidence that fat accelerates aging, possibly speeding the unraveling of crucial genetic structures inside cells that wither with age.

A team of researchers from the United States and Britain found that the more people weigh, the older their cells appear on a molecular level, with obesity adding the equivalent of nearly nine years of age to a person's body.

The findings suggest that many health problems associated with being overweight -- heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis -- may result from fat cells hastening the natural aging process.

Death Penalty Overturned Because of Race Issues

Justices Overturn Verdict, Cite Race

Blacks Were Unjustly Kept off Texas Jury in '86 Death Row Case

By Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 14, 2005; A01

The Supreme Court made an expected but emphatic statement in favor of race-neutral justice yesterday, overturning the 1986 conviction of a black death row inmate because his trial in Dallas was tainted by government racial discrimination.

By a vote of 6 to 3, the court held that both state and federal judges who oversee capital cases in Texas had mistakenly discounted evidence showing that prosecutors wrongfully kept African Americans off the Dallas jury that found Thomas Joe Miller-El guilty of murder and sentenced him to death. Only one member of the jury was black.

Writing for the court, Justice David H. Souter noted that Dallas County prosecutors had objected to two prospective black jurors who were otherwise similar to two whites. The prosecutors had also used "trickery" in questioning would-be jurors and exercised their right under Texas law to "shuffle" the jury pool, moving blacks to the back of the line, Souter wrote. All told, 10 of 11 eligible blacks were excluded.

Souter added that the Dallas County district attorney's office had, in the years before the Miller-El trial, used a training manual that coached prosecutors to strike black, Jewish and Hispanic jurors because they would be too sympathetic to defendants.

"It is true, of course, that at some points the significance of Miller-El's evidence is open to judgment calls," Souter wrote, "but when this evidence on the issues raised is viewed cumulatively its direction is too powerful to conclude anything but discrimination." [...]

Aside from the philosophical, theological and humanist arguments against the death penalty, if you are going to have a death penaly, you'd better have an air-tight system that guarantees that the convicted are indeed guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt in the eyes of the law. The death penaly cannot be just if it is 97% correct. Now, death penalty lovers on the other side of the aisle may say, why ditch the death penaly, we can fix the systemic problems? My answer is, no we can't. We can't solve the race or hate problems that lead to these injustices, for which reason we can't make the application of the death penalty just.

Another problem here is what we saw in Maryland. Black murderers of white victims were far more likely to get executed than white murderers of black victims or white victims. Also, some counties, predominantly white counties were putting people to death, more black than not, when in similar cases other counties would give these people life imprisonment. That simply cannot be just. To say that the county line would determine one's fate is absurd.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Intoxication "rife among doctors"

Another bad ER plot headline? (Note this is in the UK not US)


The British Medical Association has called for action over alcohol and drug abuse among medics after a BBC survey showed the problem was widespread.
BBC One's Real Story found over the last 10 years 750 hospital staff in England had been disciplined over alcohol and drug related incidents.

The BMA estimates one in 15 doctors could be abusing drugs and alcohol. BMA Ethics Committee chairman Michael Wilks said the profession was in denial and needed help to tackle the problem.

Doctors are known to be at least three times as likely to have cirrhosis of the liver - a sign of alcohol damage - than the rest of the population.

Obviously, we do not have this problem here.

Date Palm Buds After 2,000 Years

Okay, the actual truth is not as sexy as the headline:

BBC reports

Israeli researchers say they have succeeded in growing a date palm from a 2,000-year-old seed. The seed was one of several found during an excavation of the ancient mountain fortress of Masada.

Scientists working on the project believe it is the oldest seed ever germinated.

Researchers in Jerusalem have nicknamed the sapling Methuselah, after the biblical figure said to have lived for nearly 1,000 years.

It is significant, is just that in my mind's eye, i saw an elderly couple, aged from waiting, fall into each other's arms and say, "nunc dimittis . . ."

Friday, June 10, 2005

I Told You I Was Catholic!

<> You scored as Roman Catholic. You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic




Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox


Classical Liberal






Reformed Evangelical


Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with

Via Beppe

Australia's Dr. Death

Nurses Hid Patients from Doctor

Not often are doctors so bad at their jobs that nurses actually resort to hiding patients from them. But that is precisely what happened at Queensland's Bundaberg Hospital after Dr Jayant Patel started working there in 2003, according to hospital staff. The realisation of just how many botched operations were carried out by Dr Patel is only now coming to light.

An investigation was launched in March after nurse Toni Hoffmann complained about the large number of procedures performed by Dr Patel which had led to serious complications.

An interim report published on Friday recommended that he should be charged with both murder and negligence - if he is ever found. Dr Patel fled Australia in April, and while Queensland state authorities want to seek his extradition, his current whereabouts remain unknown.

The case of Dr Patel - whom local media have dubbed "Dr Death" - has caused huge controversy in Australia, not least because it highlights a potentially worrying lapse in checks on overseas medical staff.

Unbeknown to his colleagues, Dr Patel had already been banned from surgery in the US states of New York and Oregon before his arrival in Australia.

Fatal mistakes

The inquiry into Dr Patel's alleged malpractice at Bundaberg Hospital has linked him to as many as 87 patient deaths.

In an interim report published on Friday, the head of the inquiry team, Tony Morris, said the surgeon should be charged with the murder of James Edward Phillips, who died shortly after Dr Patel surgically removed part of his oesophagus.

Other medical staff at the hospital said they had refused to carry out the surgery, because it was too risky.

Dr Peter Miach, a renal specialist at the hospital, said the operation was "fraught with danger" and that he "would have been very surprised if [the patient] would have survived".

The inquiry concluded that in the case of James Phillips, "the surgical procedure undertaken by Patel... was, objectively, likely to endanger human life".

But the report also catalogues many other cases of alleged malpractice and recommends that Dr Patel is also charged with negligence causing harm.

One charge relates to the care of Aboriginal woman Marilyn Daisy, who developed gangrene in her leg after she was allegedly left without treatment for weeks following an amputation.

"There was no follow-up, the stitches in the stump were left there for six weeks...there were areas of infection, areas of gangrene, areas of necrosis and, in fact...there was quite a concern whether... this lady might lose a bit more of her leg," the inquiry heard.

In another case, a woman's life support machine was reportedly turned off because Dr Patel allegedly wanted her bed to operate on another patient. Nurse Toni Hoffmann told the inquiry that Dr Patel had tried to drain blood from a man's heart with a "stabbing motion". The man died later that night.

"All the nurses in intensive care were seeing these patients dying every day and we couldn't do anything," Ms Hoffman told the inquiry in March. "We'd taken to hiding patients. We just thought 'What on earth can we do to stop this man'," she said.

Falsifying records

Dr Patel has also been accused of fraud for allegedly falsifying his application to practise medicine in Australia, by removing any mention of his previous blemished record in the US.

After studying medicine in India, Dr Patel moved to New York, where the first complaints against him were made in 1984, when he was found not to be examining patients adequately before surgery.

He moved to Oregon in 1989, to work for Kaiser Permanente in Portland as a general surgeon. Due to concerns over his work, Kaiser restricted him from carrying out certain types of operations - such as liver and pancreatic surgeries - in 1998.

In September 2000, the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners made these restrictions state-wide, and the year after that Dr Patel was forced to surrender his US medical licence in New York. [...]

Every person's worst nightmare.

From the Least to the Greatest, Everyone Shall Know the Lord

Sidebar scripture change alert!

Hebrews 8:8-11 is one of the key verses for me. This verse along with the verse in the Our Father that says, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," are crucial in my way of seeing things.

These are two verses that I take literally (that's not saying much being that I take quite a bit literally). But if you conisder them as verses that should be taken literally, I think you'll see where I'm coming from.

These two verses are a huge part of the reason I believe that Christianity is not the final form of God's history on earth. The ultimate goal is that we will reach a point when the Lord's prayer, "thy kingdom come. . ." will have been fulfilled. That point in history will be marked by the Hebrew verses in which we are told, no one would have to teach their neighbor about God because from the least to the greatest, everyone shall know the Lord. Obviously, Christianity cannot get us there. Christianity has gone as far as it can and a new religious form is going to have to evolve out of Christianity to produce the desired eschatological goals. Christianity has failed to produce what it advertised. Paul said, "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things have passed away, behold all things are new." The seemingly infinite deviation from the ideal of the Christian faith that now and has always characterized actual Christians is simply proof that the faith has failed to produce the these new godly men and women. On the contrary, Christianity has produced and initiated some of the most viscious and unChristian activity in human history.

Now, one can argue that Christianity has offered very many positive things to human history. True. But you don't commend a cat for meowing. Our failures are enough of a testimony against us.

So, on the religious front, then what?

Nothing. There's nothing anyone can do. We all simply have to wait for God, it is his history to make and not ours. In the meantime, we have to do our part and set the right conditions for the God's kingdom on earth. No eschatological kingdom will come from the sky and change things in a flash. The earth and human history have no hope but us and God. This is where we have to take our future into our hands to build that kingdom. We do our part, God does his.

So then, what is the difference between us and other non-Christians who work for progress, peace and justice? The difference is that we know that our push is transcendental and that we work with God and the future brings us closer to God's kingdom and that belief is the transforming power for progress: that belief is the seed and nourishment for authentic hope that will transform the earth to God's kingdom.

Spurs in 5

Okay, I am calling the NBA finals. Spurs in five. I think Detriot will win Game four.

I have to say that I am growing in respect for the Spurs by the second. I know they are a tough team, however, I saw them as more cream puff push overs compared to Detroit's nastiness. I do think the Pistons intimidated them and scared them, which was why Detroit catapulted itself to a 17-7 lead. But the Spurs, Duncan, Parker and Obi won Ginobli, showed me something.

The Spurs are a unique team in that they don't really have a style or identity. They are a reactive type team. They plan to match their opponents, not to impose their style on them. They out gun the high scoring Phoenix Suns at their own game and grunt out the 80 point game against the lunch-pail types. You gotta give them some love. I had the Spurs in 6, but now, I don't see Detroit winning two games. Detroit gave to the Spurs and the Spurs took it on the chin and came back. The only mystery left is, who will be the finals MVP. My vote is with Obi Won Ginobli.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

St Greg Popcack the Great

Reading for St Greg Feastday:

First Reading: Romans 1:22: Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

Second Reading: Luke 18:9-14

9: And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11: The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12: I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13: And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14: I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Greg Popcack for some reason has descended on Joe Cecil's blog for the past few months and has deigned to grace liberals with his impeccable wisdom. But now in a fit of the righteous indignation against the sinners and unrepentant (us liberals), he goes back to his Right wing outfit and cries martyr:

Over the years, I have attempted in good faith to "dialog" with various Catholics on the left side of the pew. I disagree with many of their positions, but I have never borne them any ill will. I have debated vigorously, and I have not always been as charitable as I should be, but I have always been honest, direct, and in those times when I have overstepped, I have always sincerely apologized.

Unfortunately, I'm done. I have just emerged from yet another encounter with the tolerant left side of the Church having been told that I am hateful, bigotted, anti-woman, homophobic, shaming and backward. The more I try to defend my positions, the more hateful the "dialog" becomes. I have endured the name calling and dismissive treatment for the last time. I'm done "dialogging."

I hope the left can overcome their misery at some time. I really do wish them well. But I'm afraid they're going to have to continue the dialog amongst themselves, because they can't handle the truth, and I'm done taking the abuse.

Here's an example of a regular day at the office for St Greg at Joe's blog:

Emphasis mine-to point out the loving speech of this great paragon of Christian virtue.

Exhibit 1

As for the rest of them, all I can say Joe, is that's the kind of inanaity that results when people--like yourself--ignore Tradition and interpret scripture and the Christian faith however they feel like.

You're no different than any of these people Joe. You're their left leaning doppleganger. As this post points out, and your blog illustrates almost daily, the more you ignore tradion, the dumber you sound.

Exhibit 2:

but the comment is either indicative of how little Joe and his crowd really understands Church teaching or an illustration of the juvenile lengths to which they'll go to attempt to make their silly point. Is it any wonder the Church doesn't take them seriously?

Joe, are you really so ignorant of metaphysics?

[Joe has an M.Div (72 credits of graduate Theology work), until the brilliant Dr Popcack can produce a transcript reflecting comparable theological endeavours he'd do well not to comment on what Joe knows or does not know about metaphysics and theology]

Exhibit 3: The All-Holy Greg speaks

As for not going away. Great! Keep coming--and send your friends too! I'll tell them the same thing I'm telling you. It isn't as if you threaten anything important to me. I engage in these discussions because I have a Christian obligation to "counsel the ignorant." I'm happy to offer whatever insight or knowledge I have to give. If you can use it, great. If not, then proceed at your own risk--at least you've been warned.

Clearly, I've gotten under your skin. Maybe you should look into why that is instead of indulging your anger with me. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is trying to show you that the pedestal you like to put yourself on isn't as secure as you think. Its worth considering.

Exhibit 4

My "beef" with him is not that he asks questions. Asking questions is healthy and I do it all the time. My "beef" with him is that he misrepresents the facts and takes an extraordinarily prideful tone that conveys a superior attitude to anyone who doesn't agree with him. [Joe??!!!]

So, if you want to be Joe's groupie, go right ahead. But if you want to abe Catholic, you're going to have to learn to think with the mind of the Church, which is a damn sight more intellectual challenging than Joe (or perhaps even you) gives it credit for.

Then there's Exhibit 5, my favorite, in which St Greg the spiritual master sits on his perch to diagnose the immature faith of everyone else:

Incidentally, the thing that both left wing and right wing Catholics have in common is that they are convinced that they know more than the Church on certain issues.

By contrast, orthodox Catholics know how to ask probing questions about the faith without coming off like haughty teens. Read James Fowler's Stages of Faith sometime. Libs and Cons tend not to be beyond stage 4 (Individuative-Reflective Faith--with Cons being more on stage 2 or 3 and Libs being more about stage 4), while Orthodox Catholics tend to be at Stage 5 (Conjunctive Faith--which involves both an ability to deconstruct the faith and a "willed naivete" allowing the individual to surrender to its teachings nevertheless.)

The problem in these debates is that they are only partially theological; they are primarily psychological. The Church is teaching at Stage 5 and 6 level of faith but most people are living at a lower stage. Rather than trying to use the teachings as a ladder for reaching spiritual maturity, people try to understand the teaching through their own experience. From their limited perspective, they find that the teaching (not surprisingly) doesn't perfectly fit their present experience, and pronounce the teaching to be wrong (and doom themselves to a perpetually immature faith).

Bottom line. You can't effectively criticize Church teaching from below. You have to get to at least Stage 5 Faith before you have the maturity to mount an effective argument.

You seem to be somewhere at the early-middle of stage 4, Reese is probably at the mid-late stage 4 (and just for a point of reference, Ono is early stage 4, intoxicated with the sense of power that comes from first poking holes in some of the mythic-literal conceptions of faith which came before). At any rate, none of you can mount a successful argument against the teachings because you're still coming at it from underneath.

No doubt you will find this post demeaning--if you give it any credence at all--but it isn't meant to be anything other than what it is; namely, bringing to bear what the psychology of religion has to say about the experience of Libs, Cons, and Orthodox.

This has certainly gone on long enough. For someone who is a licensed therapist, Greg Popcack's behavior on blogs is embarassing. He acts like a 14 year old boy who insults people and runs back giggling and hi-fiving to his friends. Apparently someone died and made Dr Popcack God or a saint. Either way, 97% of us never got that memo and absent that memo, we have little to go on but his juvenile behavior, which is far from convincing. What I would suggest to Greg is to take sit down with some prunes and take care of business.

Roemer v Lugar?

Via Dkos

It appears that Tim Roemer is considering a run against Senator Lugar for the IN Senate seat. The subplot here is that Roemer is a moderate Democrat and a pro-life Democrat and gained national recognition as a member of the 9-11 commission. Roemer also ran for the DNC Chair seat and lost to Loud mouth Dean.

I don't think Roemer stands a chance, but it is intriguing. Roemer could make it something of race and one more thing for Republicans to worry about. Bush won Indiana 60-40, making the Hoosier state the Mississippi of the north. BTW, the KKK has its roots in Indiana. Got to say that I've never been there save, Southbend, which I really like. Beyond Southbend, I avoid Indiana, like the plague. Sort'a scares me. I imagine there are a few moderate and even liberal enclaves scattered around the state, but 60% red is not an encouraging number. These are Utah, Alabama and Mississippi numbers.

Anyway, my point is that Evan Byah, Democratic Senator from IN won 62% of the vote so there is hope for a Moderate Democrat. By and large, Roemer running and getting elected would be a positive. My only hesitation is that we do not want another Joe Liebermann (who needs to go). Bayh is moderate, but he is partisan enough to pass muster. As for Roemer, the jury is out on him regarding his desire to be sufficiently partisan in the current DC climate.

How the Catholic Church Often Works

Non Sequitor

Jesus' Death Originally Misdiagnosed

Experts Say Jesus Died of a Blood Clot

Expert: Crucifixion caused pulmonary embolism, not fatal blood loss

Reuters, Updated: 1:08 p.m. ET June 8, 2005

JERUSALEM - An Israeli researcher has challenged the popular belief that Jesus died of blood loss on the cross, saying he probably succumbed to a sometimes fatal disorder now associated with long-haul air travel.

Professor Benjamin Brenner wrote in The Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis that Jesus’ death, traditionally believed to have occurred 3 to 6 hours after crucifixion began, was probably caused by a blood clot that reached his lungs.

Such pulmonary embolisms, leading to sudden death, can stem from immobilization, multiple trauma and dehydration, said Brenner, a researcher at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

“This fits well with Jesus’ condition and actually was in all likelihood the major cause of death by crucifixion,” he wrote in the article, based on religious and medical texts.

A 1986 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association mentioned the possibility that Jesus suffered a blood clot but concluded that he died of blood loss.

But Brenner said research into blood coagulation had made significant strides over the past two decades. He said recent medical research has linked immobility among passengers on lengthy air flights to deep vein thrombosis, popularly known as “economy-class syndrome” in which potentially fatal blood clots can develop, usually in the lower legs.

Brenner noted that before crucifixion, Jesus underwent scourging, but the researcher concluded that “the amount of blood loss by itself” would not have killed him.

He said that Jesus, as a Jew from what is now northern Israel, may have been particularly at risk of a fatal blood clot.

Thrombophilia, a rare condition in which blood has an increased tendency to clot, is common to natives of the Galilee, the researcher wrote.

This is clearly a case of medical malpractice. If we Christians can get our acts together we can sue someone. It doesn't help though that Bush, with his corporate buddies, has reduced pain and suffering awards to a pittance.

Now, I have a problem with this: Thrombophilia, a rare condition in which blood has an increased tendency to clot, is common to natives of the Galilee, the researcher wrote. The Son of God was not and never sick, period. End of discussion.

Here's info on Protein S deficiency and Thrombophilia.

The tendency for abnormal blood clotting is known as thrombophilia (hypercoagulable state). A blood clot (thrombus) is important to stop us bleeding to death when we cut ourselves but in a person with the condition (thrombophiliac) the clotting process (thrombosis, coagulation) is out of control and causing a blood clot to form inside an unbroken blood vessel. If left unchecked it can lead to the loss of blood supply to tissues beyond the clot which then become damaged - sometimes with fatal consequences.

I can't help but be (passively) insulted by the suggestion. I see where they are coming from but sheesh! What next? Jesus had diabetes and asthma?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

US Leads in Mental Illness

but lags in treatment

One-quarter of all Americans met the criteria for having a mental illness within the past year, and fully a quarter of those had a "serious" disorder that significantly disrupted their ability to function day to day, according to the largest and most detailed survey of the nation's mental health, published yesterday.

Although parallel studies in 27 other countries are not yet complete, the new numbers suggest that the United States is poised to rank No. 1 globally for mental illness, researchers said.

"We lead the world in a lot of good things, but we're also leaders in this one particular domain that we'd rather not be," said Ronald Kessler, the Harvard professor of health care policy who led the effort, called the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.

The exhaustive government-sponsored effort, based on in-depth interviews with more than 9,000 randomly selected Americans, finds that the prevalence of U.S. mental illness has remained roughly flat in the past decade -- a possible glimmer of hope given that previous decades had suggested the rates were gradually rising.

But the rest of the news from the survey -- which did not include some of the most serious disorders, such as schizophrenia, for which patients are often institutionalized -- is mostly discouraging.

Less than half of those in need get treated. Those who seek treatment typically do so after a decade or more of delays, during which time they are likely to develop additional problems. And the treatment they receive is usually inadequate.

I suspect lifestyle pressures to be the chief culprit: cultural perceptions v reality, inadequate nutrition, lack of excercise, the relentlessness of the pressure to acquire (new house, new car, gadgets) not commensurate with income, etc.

The 4400

I stumbled on this show on Sunday, on USA Network. I knew that it premiered last season and I had thought it was a 3 episode mini-series, but apparently not. It is a regular series. On Sunday they had a marathon going and I got to watch 3 or maybe 4 episodes in a row and so I was pretty caught up.

The new season started on Sunday at its regular times, 9 pm. It struck me as a very good show, well written and well acted. Sadly, there's only one major Black character. I guess the hit the affirmative action quote of one and that was it.

Anyway, the show may actually well worth your time. It is about 4,400 alien abductees, abducted at different times, who were all suddenly dumped back on earth. They are all trying, many with much difficulty, to re-integrate into society. However, many have been found to possess mysterioius powers and now the Seattle Homeland Security office now has to track down and investigate cases involving these folks. Good stuff.

Apple and Intel do Wed

In a not to distant post, I linked about the speculation, although, at the time, experts did not think it likely.

Well, it has happened and Apple computers will use Intel chips:

Apple has confirmed that it is dropping IBM chips from its Mac computers in favour of those made by Intel.
The first Apple computers with the Intel chips onboard will be on the market by this time next year.

"We think Intel's technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next 10 years," Steve Jobs, the head of Apple, said.

The move is being seen as a big gamble for Apple strategy, and a boost to Intel at the expense of IBM.

It ends a decade-long relationship between Apple and IBM, which have recently wrangled over supply problems

I'm not close to being an expert or a computer geek to understand the significance of this, but I'm guessing it's big.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Tagged . . . damn!

by Ambrose-a-rama (how about Ambrosia?)

I never have anything useful or interesting to say on these things otherwise I would have done it already. Well, get the no-doze and read away:

Total # of books I own: 2,000-3,000 between the wife and me.

Last book I bought: Husserl: Shorter Works and Theological Papers of John Henry Newman on Faith and Certainty (Not very exciting stuff, huh?)

Last book I read: Excluding dissertation stuff . . . I cheat. I read a lot of Sci fi online. For a while I was on a little-known author kick and so I'd buy books of authors like myself who can only hope to sell ten copies of their books. It is quite interesting to read some of this stuff. Many times it is quite justifiably clear why this person is not widely known and many times you find very good stuff. Most importantly, I like the rawness, not in terms of lack of quality, but smaller name authors are generally not commercialized and capture the passion of a niche. That said, I can't remember the names of the last books I read, but it was sci fi. The last book I read/completed was The Oxford Conspirators by Marvin O'Connell. It's a history of the Oxford Movement and Newman in that period: very good book.

Books I'm reading now: Table of the Lord (Okay, I got issues, I actually do enjoy reading my book over and over again and then spend time talking to and interviewing myself about the characters . . . got to get this straight jacket thingy of . . . is ruining enjoyable read): Husserl-Formal and Transcendental Logic, Newman's Idea of a University and his Plain and Parochial Sermons. For fun, I read Tor Books Sample Chapters.

Books that have been important to me: Bible, George Orwell's 1984 (Not sure why, I am addicted to the book.), Douglass Brinkley's Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War (I already considered Kerry to be a great guy, but this one definitely upped his pedestal to stratosphere level. Great book for understanding Kerry: riveting and moving), Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris (a history of Science book, very readable and great stuff), Weep Not Child by Ngugi Wa Thiong'a (Kenyan author, powerful novel set in the colonial period), No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe (Nigerian writer, sequel to better-known and widely acclaimed Things fall Apart), The Little Flowers of St Francis (written in the 13th or 14th century about the life of st Francis and his circle: was a bridge book for me in my decision to return to the Catholic Church), The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain by B. Netanyahu (No, that that Netanyahu, actually this guy is/was(?) a Cornell professor but his son is that Netanyahu, i.e., former Prime Minister of Israel. 1,400 pages, 4.1 lbs, intense book: I stumbled across the book at the Daemen College library new books section and went and bought it. It was a turning point in my decision to re-consider Catholicism.), Andrew Louth's The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition (Nothing quite orients you about the Early Christian mindset of key figures like this book), finally, Rene Descartes's Meditations (I'm probably one of the few left who does not think Descartes has served his purpose and should be discarded in embarassment.)

If you've gotten this far, consider yourself tagged.

"Liberating Liturgies"

Anyone who reads this blog even occasionally would know that I have little, if any, interest in liturgical debates or issues. So I mention the following as a simple observation.

I saw a book the other day entitled, "Liberating Liturgies." I'm liberal and all that, but that the sort of thing that gets me going, "Oh boy!" I resisted the urge to look inside, fearing some sort of contamination. But what could possibly follow on such a title as "Liberating Liturgy"? It had better guarantee a euphoric sense of pure unadulterated freedom followed by a gust of fresh air and visions of vast green pastures and flowing streams, etc. Otherwise, they need to get their butts kicked for false advertising.

Now back to our regular scheduled programing.

I blush

Oh dear!

Talmida! You had to push the logic, huh? Oh, boy!

and Joe!! Oh, my!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Knowing the difference may save your life

Experts Tell Mr from Mrs Dinosaur

Palaeontologists think they have found a way to tell whether dinosaur fossils are from males or females. Writing in Science, a US team describe a specialised type of bone layer in fossils from a T. rex which is similar to one found in female birds.

In birds, the special tissue is called medullary bone and is laid down in the limbs of females when they lay eggs. The bone tissue found in the dinosaur fossils most closely resembles the medullary bone of emus and ostriches.

The scientists behind the discovery say it reinforces the evolutionary links between dinosaurs and birds because it suggests their bodies went through similar processes during egg-laying.

Gender clue

"In addition to demonstrating gender, it also links the reproductive physiology of dinosaurs to birds very closely. It indicates that dinosaurs produced and shelled their eggs much more like modern birds than like modern crocodiles," said co-author Dr Mary Schweitzer, of North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Some researchers have proposed that female dinosaurs differed from males in the shapes of their skeletons or in the forms of their head ornamentation. But these theories have been impossible to prove.

The medullary bone deposited by female birds when laying eggs is triggered by increasing levels of gonadal hormones produced on ovulation.

This tissue is rich in calcium and contains many small blood vessels, providing a ready source of calcium for eggs.
All the obvious indicators of a dinosaur's sex were thought to disappear as soft tissues decayed during fossilisation.

But Dr Schweitzer, Jack Horner and Jennifer Wittmeyer identified bone tissue in hind-limb fossils from a Tyrannosaurus rex that closely resembled the medullary bone of female birds.

The bone is most similar to that found in female members of a bird group called ratites, which includes ostriches and emus.

"If the medullary bone in T. rex is the same as seen in birds then we should expect it in dinosaurs between Tyrannosaurs and birds on the family tree," Darren Naish, a palaeontologist at the University of Portsmouth, UK, told the BBC News website.

"Then we should investigate whether it is present in other groups of dinosaurs."

Mr Naish speculated that the discovery could also be used as a tool to carry out investigations of the reproductive status of individual dinosaurs.

Imagine that you are being chased by a T-rex and you've been cornered. You then try to reason with this unevolved bird. It is a delicate task, to say the least. You have to be polite and respectful. But if you get a guy that's got security issues and then say, "Ma'am, may we talk?" I got a word for you, "lunch." In such cases, you can improve your chances by correctly determining the sex of the T-rex and at least address it in an appropriate way, "sir" or "madam." The problem, though, is that you then have to reach and feel the thigh-bone and I don't know if that'll go over well. Oh heck, "run!"

Newman, the Catholic Church and Truth "External to It"

[T]he Catholic Church has ever, in the plenitude of her divine illumination, made use of whatever truth or wisdom she has found in their teaching or their measures; and next, that in particular plaes or times her children are likely to profit from external suggestions or lessons, which have not been provided for them by herself.

John Henry Newman, "Discourse I," The Idea of a University

Our continued fascination with the visions of Zechariah

Zechariah 6

1: And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.
2: In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;
3: And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses.
4: Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord?
5: And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.

Sounds like Gabriel and his buddies?:

Lk. 1:19
And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God;

Almost, but not quite. Check this out:

Rev. 4:2-5

2: And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
3: And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
4: And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
5: And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

The seven spirits are generally believed to be the archangels of which Gabriel is one. But there are seven, not four, of these corresponding to the seven lamps used in the Jewish Tabernacle/Temple. So these seven are not the four of Zechariah's vision. Going back to the four spirits in Zechariah, there is a four that corresponds:

Rev. 4:6-9
And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.7: And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. 8: And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. 9: And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,

Beautiful! These creatures make an appearance in Isaiah 6:1-3:

1: In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2: Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3: And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

They also show up in Ezekiel. In Ezekiel, they are described as having four heads. Or maybe it's just a whole different set of beings. These Cherubim, as often called, were signified on the Ark of the Covenant. They are carved over the Ark with their wings covering the Mercy Seat.

Here's an interesting idea about them that touches on Christian worship.

Rev. 22:4, "And they [the Elect] shall see his face . . ."

The face of God is the big eternal prize. It is the special reward for the Elect, until then no human is privy to face of God. Now, angels do see the face of God. Matthew 18:10 "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." (BTW, another post for another day is this business of why the current angels will not fall into sin like Lucifer. But this is the key, that they see the face of God now.) Anyway, back to the the prize of the "face of God."

The face of God is hidden from all of us. Angels do see God's face and worship. But here's what John says about the Cherubim:

Rev. 4:6 " And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind." The plethora of "eyes" is eminently symbolic. Not only do they see the face of God, like all angels, "with" those eyes they see deeper and more than any other being can conceive of the Almighty. And this being the case, what then is their response?

Rev. 4:6 "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come."

It is clear that nothing, no phrase, expression or mode of worship can even come close to the song of the Cherubim. To me, it would seem that if one prayed this and meditated on this, that would suffice.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Alpine Crickets in the State of Nature

Alpine Cricket is "Rough Lover"

A species of Alpine cricket has proved itself to be an uncharming lothario who can mate every 18 seconds, European scientists report. While most crickets serenade their lady friends before making a move, this particular species is somewhat brutish, often causing injury during sex.

Anonconotus alpinus will sneak up on any passing female, clamping her violently with his sharp pincers. What is more, he is ready for action again after only seconds of rest.

The work was conducted by a team of researchers from the Universities of Derby and Geneva.

"The alpinus species of Anonconotus has a completely different approach to the mating process to the majority of bush crickets as it is far more aggressive," said Karim Vahed of the University of Derby.

Unfussy stallion

Not only are other crickets rather more gentlemanly in their approach, they also often take days to recover after copulation, making alpinus the "stallion" of the insect world.

However, there is a bit of a mystery behind alpinus' reproductive success. Most crickets sing to their "lovers" before mating, which is how they avoid copulating with the wrong species: female crickets simply do not fancy males who sing a foreign song.

"Pre-copulatory song usually acts as a barrier to cross-species mating because females aren't attracted to the song of another species," explained Dr Vahed.

But alpinus males do not bother with any such formalities: they will apparently leap on any unsuspecting cricket - male or female - without introduction.

So Dr Vahed and his colleague Gilles Carron would like to spend more time in the alps working out just how alpinus avoids wasting time and energy on inter-species liaisons.

"[We would like to find out] what happens in areas of the mountains when two of the Anonconotus species are in contact," said Dr Vahed. "The reason why this is particularly interesting is that males seem to be highly unselective when it comes to mating."