Monthly Archives: September 2012

Something I’ve Just Realized

When I was a kid, and quite a few kids in my school district ended up dying of accidents, or cancers and other diseases, a good chunk of the kids who died were popular kids, rich kids, and/or athletes.

But in “issues” books for kids, at least during the 70’s and 80’s, the sick and unlucky kids were always unpopular kids, usually social outcasts due to their hobbies or their family’s socioeconomic position. You never had to see how other popular kids dealt with their popular friends having terminal illnesses, whereas in real life this happens fairly often (albeit usually in high school these days, not in elementary or junior high).

So yeah, this was probably part of my loathing of “issues” books from back then. The authors really were trying to kill off all of us funny-looking kids, and pretending that the popular could live untouched.

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Interview with a Troll

A man who’s been constantly harassed since 2009 finds his troll and deals with him. Via Ed Driscoll guestposting at Instapundit.

First of all, we see again that most trolls are probably minors, unless they’re the kind of overgrown minors who do some of this stuff. Secondly, we see that just as in school, the bullies are having a high old time that is totally disconnected from consequences or sanity. Third, we see that it’s the work of someone deeply insecure.

I don’t know if being unmasked and sent to counseling will do the trick. A lot of bullies grow out of it, but a lot of Internet trolls do end up as overgrown minors, still reveling in making other people unhappy for no reason. The other thing is that this kid went beyond normal troll behavior, into real life pranks, and the pranks were of a really disturbing nature. I don’t think he was just pretending to be creepy, although school-age kids often do go pretty far beyond the pale if they don’t have anyone reining them in. It’s not the sort of thing you can sort out from a blog story or a luncheon. I hope he gets a really good psychologist, that’s all I’m saying.


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Shuttle Endeavour Pics from CA Twitter Users

1. Still not happy that Dayton was denied its shuttle; still not happy about all the lies involved by the East and West Coast “winners.”

2. But it’s heartwarming to see that a little “sense of wonder” is still alive in Hollywood’s celebrities.

3. So why don’t you folks go down to Mohave Spaceport? Surely you’re not always working.

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Iranian Ladies Doin’ It for Themselves

A Shi’ite Iranian cleric who criticized an unknown woman’s fashion choices on the street claims that he was beaten up by a girl.

Usually, I don’t approve of anybody beating up anybody else. But I’ll make an exception for this story, especially since the woman probably was trying to defend herself against the man getting her arrested in his busybodiness.

It’s also possible that he is just pushing a story to cover up why he’s in the hospital after an assault. Stranger things have happened.

Via Instapundit.

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Vilerat’s Revenge?

When you make a diplomat/game-strategist a martyr, by murdering him out of hatred for Christianity and most good things, and thus possibly sending him directly to Heaven — he might have some interesting ideas of what to pray for, in front of the Throne.

For example, this little organizational effort sounds suspiciously like the stuff “Vilerat” used to organize on Eve Online. Ditto the post below.

Not revenge, per se. Just a fitting shake-up of the situation.

Got no proof. But heck, he sounds like the kind of guy who had an urge to make the most out of his influence to make good (or entertaining, in-game) changes. Sending him to the next life early may have been a real strategic error.

Btw, the two ex-SEALs killed in Benghazi trying to defend the consulate were not there as paid embassy security, despite the White House saying so. I’m sure they have interesting petitions for the Most High, also.

“”Woods and Doherty weren’t part of the detail, nor were they personally responsible for the ambassador’s security, but they stepped into the breach when the attacks occurred and their actions saved the lives of others,” an unnamed U.S. official told the Washington Guardian.

So as the consulate was pummeled with mortar fire from an organized al-Qaida terrorist attack, the two men, with no preparation and no ground intelligence, just plain stepped forward without any obligation to do so, and died defending the U.S. after the non-U.S. contractors who were paid to do that ran away.

Such information ought to get out, because these men died heroes. They didn’t have to be there, but they went anyway defending against a terrorist attack that can only be compared to the Alamo.”

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The Cheeriest News of the Week

Israel demanded recognition of the Arab/Muslim theft of land from Jewish refugees.

I’m still not sure I didn’t dream this, or that it’s not Opposites Blog Day.

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One Fine Day….

An excellent little fantasy movie. If you’ve got five minutes, check it out.

(Of course, it could also be sf.)

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A Death in the Eve Online Family

I don’t play Eve Online, but in case folks hadn’t heard, one of the US consulate in Libya’s employees who was killed was a longtime player, and a longtime commenter on Something Awful. They put up a tribute to him.

It sounds like he was a diplomat in the best sense, both online and in regular life. Such people are valuable in the world.

Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are the debonair/meek.* Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice.

* Some French translations of the Beatitudes render “meek” as “debonnaire,” literally meaning “of good manner.” Heureux les débonnaires, car ils hériteront la terre.

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More from the Pope’s Trip to Lebanon

Today Pope Benedict XVI’s visiting the Maronite (Catholic) Patriarch of Antioch (who currently lives in Lebanon). The patriarch gave him a Lebanese fossil! Pretty nice.

The Pope was briefly walking around with a cane today, of the same pattern as the canes Eastern/Orthodox bishops use for “everyday” croziers. This may have been another present.

Here’s a link to his new Apostolic Exhortation on the eastern churches, “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente.” It’s 96 pages long, so he had plenty to say on the topic!

He mainly focuses on the troubles caused by “the sin of Cain,” ie, murder, both among Christians and between the different faiths and ethnic groups.

He calls for peace, noting: “For the sacred Scriptures, peace is not simply a pact or a treaty which ensures a tranquil life, nor can its definition be reduced to the mere absence of war. According to its Hebrew etymology, peace means being complete and intact, restored to wholeness. It is the state of those who live in harmony with God and with themselves, with others, and with nature. Before appearing outwardly, peace is interior. It is blessing. It is the yearning for a reality… Peace is justice; St. James in his Letter adds that ‘the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.’ …”Christians know that the earthly politics of peace will only be effective if justice in God, justice among men and women, are its authentic basis; and if this same justice battles against the sin which is at the origin of division….”

He calls for ecumenism among Christians, but an ecumenism rooted in drawing closer to Christ together, rather than in getting rid of faith or dumbing down its ideas. He reassures the Eastern churches that “Ecumenical unity does not mean uniformity of traditions and celebrations.” He encourages Christians to study the Bible together, as well as the Fathers (both those who wrote in Eastern languages and those who wrote in Western ones); and to continue cooperating in charitable activities and good works.

The Pope juxtaposes a gently-worded section that is explicitly about interfaith relations with Islam, with a rather strong section demanding civil rights for Christians and all human beings. The criticism of this juxtaposition is quite clear. He calls for freedom of speech, employment, and so forth, but especially for religious freedom. Tolerance is not enough; worship of God must be free to flourish, and people must be free to decide. “…truth, apart from God, does not exist as an autonomous reality. If it did, it would be an idol… Truth can only be known and experienced in freedom. For this reason, we cannot impose truth on others; truth is disclosed only in an encounter of love.” He notes that secularism can be equally bad: “In its extreme and ideological form, secularity becomes a secularism which denies citizens the right to openly express their religion and claims that only the State can legislate on the public form which religion may take….” However, it’s not all bad. “A healthy secularity, on the other hand,
frees religion from the encumbrance of politics, and allows politics to be enriched by the contribution of religion… avoiding the constant temptation to merge the two or set them at odds.” To keep things from going pearshaped, society needs a “sound understanding” of “human nature” and respect for all the “inalienable human rights.” The document ends with sympathetic recognition of other problems affecting many of the region’s Christian communities.

The second part of the document is about how communion inside the Church should work, with various kinds of holiness manifested by patriarchs, bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, religious, families, etc. The third part talks about improving religious formation in order to improve Christian witness. (There are implications that Catholics need to be ready to get martyred, or to do anything else God requires.)

The Pope is supposed to be at a big gathering on Beirut’s waterfront tomorrow.

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The Bones of Good King Richard?

Somewhere, Walpole and Tey are smiling!

During excavations of the remains of the old Franciscan Greyfriars Friary church at Leicester (underneath a parking lot), archaeologists found the bones of an adult male who had scoliosis of the spine, and who died in battle with wounds consistent with those reported of the late King Richard III. They were found in the section of the church where he was supposed to have been buried, also.

The skeleton’s DNA will be tested against that of other known maternal line descendants of the House of York for certainty’s sake, but there doesn’t seem to be much doubt. After study, the skeleton will be reinterred with appropriate church ceremonies. (Catholic ones, one hopes, since whoever he was, he certainly never heard of the Church of England, and since the friary church was demolished in the 1530’s and built upon as a secular property by the Church of England. It’s been pointed out that the local Dominicans are closest, and celebrate with the Dominican Rite which goes back a couple centuries earlier than Richard, so it would be very appropriate to inter him there at Holy Cross.)

They’re holding Richard III events in Leicester, in honor of the late king. In a very medieval twist of fate, arguments have begun about whether his bones should be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral or another Leicester church, or in York with his family. Leicester will probably win, though.

Of course, if we’re really going to get medieval, we need his innocence to be proved by his body being associated with miracles. I don’t expect this, because I expect he was a great king and defender of the rights of the commoners, but only a normally good man. Please pray for his soul, and for the souls of all those who lived and died in the Wars of the Roses. That Tudor guy, too. 🙂

Press conference at the local medieval guildhall.

Obviously, there are a lot of good books (and bad books, and crazy books) about Richard III. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey is probably the most winsome work to make the case, but turns into fandom territory at a certain point. (Not that that’s a blemish, per se.) The discovery of the maternal-line Yorkist Ibsens is told as a sidebar to John Ashdown-Hill’s recent book, The Last Days of Richard III. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s currently on my Kindle! He also has a biography of Eleanor Butler, the woman whom Edward IV married first, thus making his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville bigamous and his children all illegitimate. (The Prince Regent did the same thing with a clandestine marriage, but he had the convenient out that UK law didn’t permit a member of the royal family to marry without permission, or to marry a Catholic at all. But yeah, still bigamous.)

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The Pope Visiting Lebanon

Pope Benedict XVI, refusing to cancel his trip to Lebanon, is currently on TV, visiting St. Paul’s Basilica in Harissa. He also signed the document “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente,” an apostolic document about the Eastern churches. He spoke about the importance of ecumenism among the Christian groups of the Middle East, and declared the importance of freedom of speech, freedom of worship, and the right of Christians to have full citizenship in Middle Eastern countries. The Pope spoke mostly in French (the colonial and educational language, still understood by most Lebanese).

Beautiful Lebanese church music!

UPDATE: Well, the show’s over now, and it’s getting dark in Lebanon. There will be live coverage tomorrow and Sunday, from the early morning (4 AM EST) onward. The Pope will be visiting the Maronite patriarchate on Saturday and speaking to Lebanese youth, and then he will be speaking Sunday on Beirut’s waterfront.

BBC coverage

My goodness, he isn’t so much brave as just refusing to be stopped from what is right. But since the trip was scheduled for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, I guess drawing back wouldn’t sound like a good option.

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Pope B16 Doing Homilies on the Book of Revelation

Professor Ratzinger had some lovely comments about the Book of Revelation at today’s General Audience.

St. John speaks of the white horse, which symbolises that “the power of God has entered man’s history, a power capable not only of counterbalancing evil, but also of overcoming it. … God became so close as to descend into the darkness of death and illuminate it with the splendor of divine life. He took the evil of the world upon Himself to purify it with the fire of His love.”

… “The Book of Revelation tells us that prayer nourishes this vision of light and profound hope in each one of us and in our communities. … The Church lives in history; she is not closed in on herself, but courageously faces her journey amidst difficulties and sufferings, forcefully affirming that evil does not defeat good, that darkness does not shade God’s splendor. This is an important point for us too: as Christians we can never be pessimists. … Prayer, above all, educates us to see the signs of God, His presence and His action; or rather, it educates us to become lights of goodness, spreading hope and indicating that the victory is God’s.”

He also noted that there’s no such thing as “useless” prayer or “too much” prayer. No prayer is lost, and God uses them all for our good.

At the end of the vision an angel places grains of incense in a censer then throws it upon the earth. Those grains represent our prayers, the Pope said. “and we can be sure that there is no such thing as a superfluous or useless prayer. No prayer is lost. … God is not oblivious to our prayers. … When faced with evil we often have the sensation that we can do nothing, but our prayers are in fact the first and most effective response we can give, they strengthen our daily commitment to goodness. The power of God makes our weakness strong.”

He also spoke about prayer and the Book of Revelation in his general audience last week. (Revelation readings generally show up in the lectionary after Pentecost or right before Advent, at the end of the Church Year.)

Unfortunately, the translation office hasn’t finished doing the English translation of his long version of the talk. (The custom is that the Pope delivers his audience talks full-length in Italian, and then speaks brief summary versions in the main pilgrim languages: English, French, German, and Polish. Then the translation office makes translations into various languages of the full-length talk, which go up on when done.) But you can get an idea from Google’s translation, or from reputable newssites that do their own translations.

September 5, 2012 (on Rev. 1:3, 4, 22) brief English version and full-length Italian talk.

September 12, 2012 (on Rev. 4: 1-22): brief English version and full-length Italian version.

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The Killing of an Ambassador

Any country that will kill an ambassador, or any country that will permit a foreign ambassador to be killed, is an outlaw, pariah country. Every other embassy should withdraw from that country in censure; all of their embassies and consulates should be sent back home.

The sacred status of embassies and heralds is one of the basics of international law and trade, and one of the most ancient and revered customs in all the world. Anyone who would break that law is scum not fit to walk the earth, and not safe to have around in world civilization.

In addition, of course the invasion of an embassy and the killing of an ambassador by a host country, or permitting such a thing to happen, is an act of war. Allowing people to do such a thing on September 11th is twisting the knife. So I guess Libya wants us to bomb the heck out of them, sow the ground with salt, and then bomb the heck out of them again. They have issued an invitation to that effect, engraved on the flesh of our ambassador.

(Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the person currently filling the office of American president is going to order a response that is either stupidly aggressive (hoping to pump up his numbers, and not understanding that this is beyond partisan politics) or stupidly groveling (because that’s his reflex), but most likely both. I can honestly say that I’d rather see Jimmy Carter in the White House now. At least Jimmy Carter loved his country and had served in the military. He wasn’t the kind of boss I’d’ve wanted, being a micro-manager full of wobbles; but sheesh, I wouldn’t let Obama lead me across the street.)

Meanwhile, let’s pray for the souls of the ambassador and his staff, and for the safety of other Americans and diplomats in Libya, and in all the Muslim world. Foreign service and diplomacy are not just about parties and yakfests; they can be very dangerous.

Also, everybody (who’s not a little kid) go watch trailer 1 and <a href="“>trailer 2 of “Innocence of Muslims,” the YouTube video that was used as an excuse for this despicable outrage. The movie is apparently nothing more than a dramatization of various Muslim hadiths about the life of Muhammad, as far as I can tell. What’s embarrassing to Muslims is what Muslims are supposed to believe is their history.

Support free speech!

And don’t forget to pray for the Coptic Christians, who are still the primary target of all this manufactured mayhem.


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Beatus Stuff

In case anybody was thinking that St. Beatus goes all fire and brimstone about the fall of Babylon, he doesn’t. He’s not even interested in that chapter. He doesn’t even copy out most of the chapter or the dramatic lines. He literally manages about a page of commentary on the whole thing, at which point he hurries onward to the much more exciting grapes of wrath winepress.

So much for the “ooh, Beatus wrote his book against Islam” thesis of the art history majors, or the “doomy doomy doomsday” of the literary types. I love you guys, but do read the book as well as the illuminations.

In other news, the anonymous Wikipedians have once again erased all my careful additions of the various editions of the Beatus and of various books which write about it. They also erased everything that was there before, and have replaced both the old pitiful bibliography and my extensive new bibliography with two dubious books I’ve never seen or heard of, much less seen in the bibliographies of Beatus scholarship.

Yeah, I know, it’s an exercise in frustration, but every so often I do try. They are such twits.

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