Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Thursday, October 20, 2016


- For Trump, the Election Is Rigged If a “Nasty Woman” Can Win

- 'Nasty': A Feminist History

- Trump insult late in debate inspires hilarious ‘Nasty Woman’ fragrance ad

Monday, October 17, 2016

John Oliver on the 3rd party candidates

I realize there are some people who don't want to vote either for Trump or for Clinton and instead are considering voting for a third party candidate. What I didn't realize until I listened to John Oliver vet the choices, is how really fringe and questionable both Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are as candidates ....

Sunday, October 16, 2016

It's Planned Parenthood's 100th birthday

Towards the end of college I spent a summer as a volunteer at Planned Parenthood. Despite what many pro-life people seem to believe, it's not a giant abortion conveyor belt. I first spent my time there in an office building at a desk answering phoned0in questions about contraception. Later on I worked as an aide in the vasectomy clinic (yep, men use PP too). I met many nice people at Planned Parenthood and ended up being house mated with my PP supervisor. It's a good place that does good.

TIME: How Planned Parenthood Changed Everything

SNL: Town Hall debate

The theme from Jaws ;) ...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

I Shot the Sheriff

Eric Clapton does Bob Marley's I Shot the Sheriff ...

Friday, October 14, 2016


- Another appointee to Vatican abuse commission leaves group, member reveals

- The Myth of Abortion Regret

- Two articles on Giuliani's comparison of sexual assaulter Trump to Augustine of Hippo ... On Not Ignoring Augustine ... Saint Donald of Trump Tower?

- ‘Poetry for the ear’: Bob Dylan wins Nobel Prize in literature. A couple of his songs that I especially like the words to are Love is Just a Four-Letter Word and My Back Pages ...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Michelle Obama on Trump and the P word

Michelle Obama just delivered what might have been a defining moment of the presidential campaign

I just listened to this campaign speech by Michelle Obama that deals with Trump and his talk about assaulting women (it's not just talk - women are now coming forward to accuse him of assault). Here's the transcript of part of the speech in which she discusses what that attitude feels like to us ....

[...] It is cruel. It's frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It's like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you're walking down the street minding your own business and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.

It's that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them, or forced himself on them and they've said no but he didn't listen — something that we know happens on college campuses and countless other places every single day. It reminds us of stories we heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how, back in their day, the boss could say and do whatever he pleased to the women in the office, and even though they worked so hard, jumped over every hurdle to prove themselves, it was never enough.

We thought all of that was ancient history, didn't we? And so many have worked for so many years to end this kind of violence and abuse and disrespect, but here we are in 2016 and we're hearing these exact same things every day on the campaign trail. We are drowning in it. And all of us are doing what women have always done: We're trying to keep our heads above water, just trying to get through it, trying to pretend like this doesn't really bother us maybe because we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us as women look weak.

Maybe we're afraid to be that vulnerable. Maybe we've grown accustomed to swallowing these emotions and staying quiet, because we've seen that people often won't take our word over his. Or maybe we don't want to believe that there are still people out there who think so little of us as women. Too many are treating this as just another day's headline, as if our outrage is overblown or unwarranted, as if this is normal, just politics as usual.

But, New Hampshire, be clear: This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable. And it doesn't matter what party you belong to — Democrat, Republican, independent — no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserves this kind of abuse ...

Most women I know have experienced some level of sexual harassment ... childhood sex abuse, sexual bullying at school, being groped by male co-workers, rape. There's something very wrong in a society (and a church) where women aren't treated equally as persons with men.

Monday, October 10, 2016


Sunday, October 09, 2016

Pot, kettle, black

Ironic ...

The comments to this tweet point out, as I will too, that the Catholic church and Pope Francis are among those treating women shamefully.

Trump's latest creepiness

Every Woman in America Knows Donald Trump and Billy Bush

Margaret Atwood said, “Men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them.”

But it’s a little more complicated than that. More omnipresent than the fear of death-by-men among most American women is the fear that every time we leave men alone together in a room, they talk about us like how Donald Trump and Billy Bush talked about women in footage that leaked Friday. We fear that while men may treat us with manners in public, in private and among themselves they are disparaging us as lessers. We fear that behind every closed door is a room full of men basking in our low-grade humiliation. And the 2016 election has brought all those fears to the surface.

The footage the punditry is now (unfortunately) calling “Pussygate” hit the waning hours of the workweek like a Charley horse because, for women, this scenario is the sum of a lifetime of anxiety. We know these guys, laughing about how easy it is to sexually assault us and dismissing it as harmless horny banter. We’re worried we’re married to them, or dating them, or one of them is our dad or our boss or our brother. We know somebody is doing what Trump and Bush did; we just hope they’re not doing it to us.

We’re worried we are Melania Trump, newly-married and pregnant with the child of a man who brags to a member of the media how amazing it is to be famous, because being famous means he can grab women’s pussies and kiss them without their consent. We’re worried we’re at home vomiting during our first trimester while our husband vomits unwanted affection on a soap opera actress. We're worried we'll one day be put in a position to say the sort of things Melania had to say after the video surfaced: "The words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me. This does not represent the man that I know."

We’re worried we are Ivanka Trump, who has stood up for her father at every turn, reassuring audiences that he can’t be all that bad since he raised her into such a poised and confident woman. We’re worried that our fathers are talking about our tits to their friends, or trying to fuck our friends. We’re worried that the men we have stood up for and believed in are secretly garbage.

We’re worried we’re Nancy O’Dell, the married Access Hollywood host Donald Trump bragged about attempting to seduce. We all have known at least one person who tried to—if I may coin a term— “Donald Trump” us, men who are older or more powerful taking a sudden interest in who we are. We’re kind to them, to be polite. We try to hold them at arm’s length. And then next thing we know, a tiny-handed orange man is trying to French us in a furniture store. When these things happen, we extract ourselves from the scenario wondering what we did wrong, what led the orange man to believe that it was acceptable to take it that far. We’ve been raised to believe that telling men no is embarrassing. We’ve been raised to please men, and the orange man is displeased. We feel bad. We hope he never talks about it to his friends, and we especially hope he will not go on to recount our humiliation to a colleague of ours. We know now that he does, sometimes .....

Yeah :(

Saturday, October 08, 2016

The English Spy

My latest book checked out from the public library is The English Spy (Gabriel Allon Series Book 15) by Daniel Silva.

The series is about Israeli art restorer and agent, Gabriel Allon, and this installment takes us to Northern Ireland. Here below is a bit from an NPR interview with Silva about the book. You can listen to the whole interview at the link.

Daniel Silva On 'Double-Edged Sword' Of Writing An Israeli Spy Protagonist

Another summer, another best-seller from novelist Daniel Silva. In The English Spy, the most famous woman in the world — a titled and gorgeous ex-member of the British royal family — is sunk on her yacht. To track down her killer, British Intelligence needs a little help — actually, a lot of help — from Gabriel Allon, an unassuming art restorer who is also, to those who have to know, a legendary and indispensable Israeli spy.

The English Spy is Silva's 15th novel in what's become the Gabriel Allon franchise. He tells NPR's Scott Simon about the real tragedies that inspired the book and his relationship with his hit character ...

It was interesting to read about Ireland and the history and present of the Troubles there. One thing that was mentioned was the existence of peace lines, the barrier walls separating Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Here's that bit in the novel, where Gabriel and an English friend are driving through neighborhoods ...

From Milltown they drove past the Ballymurphy housing estates to Springfield Road. Along its northern flank rose a barricade separating a Protestant enclave from a neighboring Catholic district. The first of the so-called peace lines appeared in Belfast in 1969 as a temporary solution to the city’s sectarian bloodletting. Now they were a permanent feature of its geography—indeed, their number, length, and scale had actually increased since the signing of the Good Friday accords. On Springfield Road the barricade was a transparent green fence about ten meters in height. But on Cupar Way, a particularly tense part of the Ardoyne, it was a Berlin Wall–like structure topped by razor wire. Residents on both sides had covered it in murals. One likened it to the separation fence between Israel and the West Bank.

“Does this look like peace to you?” asked Keller.

“No,” answered Gabriel. “It looks like home.”

- The peace line along Cupar Way in Belfast, seen from the Protestant side, Wikipedia

Irony alert: Cardinal Dolan

- Cardinal Dolan

In the news, Cardinal Dolan announces new compensation program for abuse survivors ...

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said Oct. 6 he hopes a new archdiocesan program to provide compensation to survivors of clergy sexual abuse will "help bring a measure of peace and healing" to those victims .... To cover the cost of compensating victims, the archdiocese said it will take out a long-term loan. It "will not use money given by the people of the archdiocese to support parishes, schools and charitable works," the news release said. None of the funds to be paid to victims will be taken from the annual stewardship appeal, a new capital campaign called Renew and Rebuild or from any money given by a donor "for a specific ministry or apostolate." ...

Strangely, the article fails to mention Cardinal Dolan's past efforts, not to help abuse survivors, but to swindle them: The New York Times wrote an editorial on this - Cardinal Dolan and the Sexual Abuse Scandal ...

Tragic as the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has been, it is shocking to discover that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, while archbishop of Milwaukee, moved $57 million off the archdiocesan books into a cemetery trust fund six years ago in order to protect the money from damage suits by victims of abuse by priests.

Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, has denied shielding the funds as an “old and discredited” allegation and “malarkey.” But newly released court documents make it clear that he sought and received fast approval from the Vatican to transfer the money just as the Wisconsin Supreme Court was about to open the door to damage suits by victims raped and abused as children by Roman Catholic clergy ...

And - Dolan Sought to Protect Church Assets, Files Show ...

Files released by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Monday reveal that in 2007, Cardinal Timothy F. Dolan, then the archbishop there, requested permission from the Vatican to move nearly $57 million into a cemetery trust fund to protect the assets from victims of clergy sexual abuse who were demanding compensation ... files contain a 2007 letter to the Vatican in which he explains that by transferring the assets, “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.” The Vatican approved the request in five weeks, the files show.

And it's not just this. While a church sponsored compensation program for victims might sound nice, what that actually means is an end run around the justice system ....

Some advocates for sex abuse victims immediately assailed the program as an attempt to squash cases quickly, before New York's legislature acts on a proposal to make it easier for victims to sue over abuse that happened years ago.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an independent network of survivors of clergy abuse, said in a statement that compensation needs to be determined by independent sources, such as judges and juries.

The group's executive director, David Clohessy, said that Dolan's announcement is also "short circuiting" legislative reform on the statue of limitations.

"We are not pleased with announcement," Clohessy said.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of, an advocacy group that collects records on abusive priests, said in an email that New York's "restrictive statute of limitations has enabled Dolan to hide the true scope of the clergy abuse crisis in the NY archdiocese."

"His proposed victims' compensation fund is another tactic designed to fend off disclosure," she said.

New York state lawmakers have long debated extending the statute of limitations on suing child sex abusers, or creating a window of opportunity for past victims to file civil suits against abusers. Such proposals have faced strong opposition from the Catholic Church and other institutions.

The leading proposal in the Legislature would eliminate the statute of limitations for several child sexual abuse crimes going forward and create a one-year window for past victims to file civil suits. Victims now have until they turn 23 to file lawsuits, but supporters say it can take years before victims step forward. In May, an attempt by supporters in the state Senate to force a vote on the measure failed.

- Archdiocese of New York to Compensate Clergy Abuse Survivors: Cardinal Dolan

So should we trust Cardinal Dolan and this plan to help survivors? Even ignoring his $57 million switcheroo, his other past dealings with the sex abuse problem have been checkered at best. Myself, I don't believe that he cares at all about sex abuse survivors.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Catholic Poland and abortion

In the news: After Mass Protests, Poland Won’t Push for Total Abortion Ban.

The conservative Catholic government had planned to change Poland's already restrictive abortion law to now exclude even abortions because of rape, incest, or if the fetus is irreparably damaged, and would put women and doctors in jail. The new law is supported by the Catholic Polish church. From The Tablet ...

The proposed anti-abortion bill has received the backing of the Catholic Church. In a statement read in churches on 3 April, they urged politicians to support the proposed ban and said Poland’s 1993 law, which restricts abortions to cases of rape, incest, severe foetal damage or threats to a woman’s life, could not be sustained and should be replaced by a total ban.

Women walked out of churches and others took to the streets in the thousands to protest, and even some Catholic theologians wrote to Poland's Catholic bishops to ask them to stop pushing for the law ...

Prominent theologians ask Polish bishops to reconsider support for proposed abortion ban

Nearly one hundred prominent Catholic theologians, historians and lay people from Europe and the U.S. have written to Poland’s bishops to express concerns about the prelates’ advocacy in favor of a new law that would make abortion illegal in their country under almost all circumstances.

In an open letter released Tuesday, the signers say they want to “engage in dialogue and reflection” about the possible consequences of the new law.

Poland has had one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe since 1993, allowing for the termination of a pregnancy only in cases of grave fetal defect, rape, and threat to the life of the mother, and only in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

A new proposed bill, which has been publicly backed by the Polish bishops’ conference, would make abortion illegal under all circumstances, except for when the death of the fetus would be the unintended result of saving a woman’s life ......

But the Polish church wouldn't change their stance and I don't doubt the bishops are really bummed about the government's change of mind on the proposed bill. And they wonder why women are leaving the Catholic church in droves.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Rainy day

Today was the first rain we in drought world have had since last spring. It was good for the plants but not so good for me since I have not yet had new tarps put on the leaky roof ...

Leaking endued ...

The cats weren't too happy either ...

Maybe a song will help :) ...

Saturday, October 01, 2016


- Why No One Should Vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein

- Saudis and Extremism: ‘Both the Arsonists and the Firefighters’

- Has Pope Francis Failed?. The short answer is 'yes'. This op-ed was written by the conservative editor of First Things, and I think the perception is that only conservatives are disappointed in Pope Francis, as they fear his reforming. But that's not true. Liberal Catholics like me are also disappointed in him because he actually has *not* made any real reforms on the issues we care about, like sex abuse, contraception, marriage equality, allowing priests to marry, allowing women to be priests, etc. Some people believe too that the pope wants to make these reforms but that the curia won't let him. Also untrue ... at many times and in many venues, the pope has expressed his antipathy for contraception, gay people marrying, women being priests ... the pope is a dyed in the wool social conservative and that's pretty disappointing.

- About JASTA ...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The 28 Pages

In the news ... Claims of Saudi Role in 9/11 Appear Headed for Manhattan Court ...

Saudi Arabia paid millions of dollars to Washington lobbyists to keep it out of court. They have been unsuccessful. And now it is up to the kingdom’s lawyers to limit the damage.

With families of Sept. 11 victims now able to pursue legal claims against the Saudis, the fight over responsibility for the terrorist attacks 15 years ago is likely to shift to a courtroom in Lower Manhattan, not far from where the World Trade Center once stood.

The legal battle could last for years, and would be waged using thousands of pages of documents, deposition transcripts and official government investigations. It could end in millions — or billions — of dollars’ worth of Saudi assets being seized in a court settlement, or a judgment that largely vindicates the Saudi government, which for years has insisted it had no role in the deadly plot ...

I had never read much about the 9/11 investigations, so one of the things I was unaware of before this was The 28 Pages ...

The 28 Pages refers to a section at the end of the 2002 Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that contains details of foreign state sponsor support for Al-Qaeda prior to the attack and the Saudi connection to the hijackers. The pages explain that some of the September 11 hijackers received assistance and financial support from individuals connected to the Saudi Arabian government, including Saudi intelligence officers, embassy staff, and members of the Saudi royal family.

In 2016, following a declassification review, the Obama Administration approved the declassification of the partially redacted 28 Pages, the Joint Inquiry’s only wholly classified section. The document was then sent to congressional leadership and on July 15, 2016, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence approved publication of the newly declassified section.

The 28 pages are from a redacted section of the 422-page inquiry commission report on the 9/11 attacks that include controversial clues linking elements of the Saudi Arabian government and the hijackers. Some leaked information from CIA and FBI documents allege that there is "incontrovertible evidence" that Saudi government officials, including from the Saudi embassy in Washington and consulate in Los Angeles, gave the hijackers both financial and logistical aid. Among those named were then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar and Osama Bassnan, a Saudi agent, as well as American al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta, and Esam Ghazzawi, a Saudi adviser to the nephew of King Fahd.

In July 2016, the U.S. government released a document, compiled by Dana Lesemann and Michael Jacobson, known as "File 17", which contains a list naming three dozen people possibly, among them Fahad al-Thumairy, Omar al-Bayoumi, Osama Bassnan and Mohdhar Abdullah, connecting the Saudi state to the hijackers. According to the former Democratic US Senator Bob Graham, “Much of the information upon which File 17 was written was based on what’s in the 28 pages.”

The 28 pages state that some of the September 11 hijackers received financial support from individuals connected to the Saudi Government. FBI sources believed that at least two of those individuals were Saudi intelligence officers. The U.S. Intelligence Community believed that individuals associated with the Saudi Government had ties to al-Qaeda.

The Bush administration classified the 28 pages of the congressional report, allegedly to "protect intelligence sources." ...

Heere is Democratic Senator Bob Graham (Inside a Senator’s Crusade to Release the Missing 28 Pages of the 9/11 Report) speaking about the subject ...

More from The Atlantic: Saudi Arabia Is a Partner, Not a Friend

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Music :)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Arrival: linguistic relativity at the movies

I was at the public library today with my sister. They have a display that features books at the library that have been made into movies and I noticed today that one of the movies in the display was Arrival ...

a 2016 American science fiction drama film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Eric Heisserer, based on the short story "Story of Your Life" by author Ted Chiang. The film stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker .... When multiple mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team is put together to investigate, including linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams), mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), and US Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker). Mankind teeters on the verge of global war as everyone scrambles for answers—and to find them, Banks, Donnelly, and Weber will take a chance that could threaten their lives, and, quite possibly, humanity.

I took note because had recently watched a trailer for the film at the Apple movie trailer place and thought it looked really interesting. Here's the trailer ...

The book the movie is based on is Story of Your Life ...

a science fiction short story by Ted Chiang. It was the winner of the 2000 Nebula Award for Best Novella as well as the 1999 Sturgeon award. The major themes explored by this tale are determinism, language, and an interesting take on the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.

Here's the beginning of an article from Tor ...

Your First Look at Arrival, the Adaptation of Ted Chiang’s Novella Story of Your Life

USA Today has released the first images from Arrival, Denis Villeneuve’s forthcoming adaptation of Ted Chiang’s 1998 novella Story of Your Life and one of Paramount’s most anticipated films this year. We get our first look at Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner as a linguist and a physicist whose specialties are utilized when aliens land all over Earth and humans scramble to find a way to communicate with their extraterrestrial visitors, who possess a bizarre verbal and visual language.

This film has been in the works since 2012 but recently gained traction after Eric Heisserer (The Thing remake, Lights Out) revised the script and Adams and Renner signed on. Renner, who plays physicist Ian Donnelly, told USA Today that the movie’s tone is “if you blended a [Stanley] Kubrick and a [Steven] Spielberg movie,” and that the end result comes out closer to Contact or Close Encounters of the Third Kind than “a big Michael Bay alien movie”—which makes sense, since the entire story is about first contact. Summoned by the military, linguist Louise Banks (Adams) must learn the aliens’ two languages: the verbal Heptapod A, with its free word order, and the much more complex and visual Heptapod B.

Reeling from personal turmoil, Louise struggles to relate to these otherworldly creatures. Adams praised the fact that “[t]his isn’t a graphic-novel universe or creating a new universe. This happens in our world today, as it exists. Not having to transport myself to a universe where superheroes exist, which is also fun, really helped me ground the character and the experience.” Speaking of worldbuilding, she said, “Denis and the team have done a great job with the visuals and getting to something that looks familiar and not completely abstract.” ......

Sp what's the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis (linguistic relativity)? ...

[A]lso known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis or Whorfianism, [it] is a concept-paradigm in linguistics and cognitive science that holds that the structure of a language affects its speakers' cognition or world view. It used to have a strong version that claims that language determines thought and that linguistic categories limit and determine cognitive categories. The more accepted weak version claims that linguistic categories and usage only influence thoughts and decisions.

I vaguely remember this stuff from philosophy classes in college ... Quine, Searle, Wittgenstein. I found it hard to understand but this short video is pretty good at explaining it ....

Applying this stuff to an encounter with aliens should be interesting :)

The Huntsman: Winter's War

I haven't posted much this week because I've been mostly obsessed with worries about what to do about the leaky roof as rainy season approaches. And then there's the little possum :) ...

But of course there was still time for a movie. This week's DVD rental was The Huntsman: Winter's War ...

a 2016 American dark fantasy action adventure film based on characters from the German fairy tale "Snow White" compiled by the Brothers Grimm, as well as "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen. Both a prequel and sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, the film takes place before and after the events of the first film .... Reprising their roles from the first film, the cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Nick Frost and Sam Claflin. The film also introduces new characters including Emily Blunt, Rob Brydon and Jessica Chastain

I had seen the first Huntsman movie ... Snow White and the Huntsman ... and thought it was so-so, but I liked this one a bit better, though the critics seem to have liked it less. The main problem with this Huntsman movie, from my pov anyway, is that it's mostly about form over function .... we have to spend what seems like hours marveling at the make-up and costumes and sets and flawless faces of Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt ... but the story-line is just kind of dopey. Sadly, even Chris Hemsworth can't really fix it.

Here's the beginning ofa review - The Huntsman: Winter's War ...

If you liked “Frozen” but wish it had been angrier, “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” is for you.

It’s a tale of two royal sisters, one of whom discovers in a fit of rage that she has the ability to shoot ice from her fingertips—so she exiles herself to a faraway land in the mountains, where she creates her own kingdom and builds her own army. She even wears decadent gowns in various shades of pale blue and pulls her hair back in elaborate braids.

Seriously. This is what “Winter’s War” is about ...

Here's a trailer ...