Saturday, September 24, 2005

Words: batten [MW]

Main Entry: batten
Function: noun
Etymology: alteration of Middle English batent, bataunt finished board, from Middle French batant, from present participle of battre
1 a British : a piece of lumber used especially for flooring b : a thin narrow strip of lumber used especially to seal or reinforce a joint
2 : a strip, bar, or support resembling or used similarly to a batten

(see also bat, batter)

Words: hunker [MW]

Main Entry: hun·ker
Pronunciation: 'h&[ng]-k&r
Function: intransitive verb
Inflected Form(s): hun·kered; hun·ker·ing /-k(&-)ri[ng]/
Etymology: perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse huka to squat; akin to Middle Low German hOken to squat, peddle -- more at HAWKER
1 : CROUCH, SQUAT -- usually used with down
2 : to settle in or dig in for a sustained period -- used with down

(I suspected "hunker" was a conflation of "huddle" and "bunker," but no: It has more to do with being a squatter to claim property or a hawker of goods from a blanket or booth at market.)

Weather: Back home!

My property weathered the storm nicely, though with some fallen branches on the ground and power was out when I arrived (but it came on ten minutes ago). Now to "de-hunker" all my papers wrapped in plastic bags and my windows covered in tape... and find out how everyone else did.

Weather: Sun's out!

It is 11:37 am and the sun is peeking out in west Houston.

Peeves: "Every man for himself"

TV anchors reporting on the evacuation efforts out of Houston began using alarmist language such as one phrase I particularly dislike: "It's every man for himself." This phrase denotes panic, chaos and a Darwinian fractiousness that's odious and has nothing to do with the civil and largely neighborly, if stressed and outsized, evacuation of perhaps one-fifth of a coastal and metro region totaling six million.

This wasn't widespread looting and mayhem, it was an evacuation that for 36 hours outstretched the logistical resources provided until the final 12 hours, when people were provided gas or plucked off the roadways to established or impromptu shelters to ride out the storm that was Rita. Stranded motorists received free gas through corporate donations, and citizens combed the roadways to personally donate or distribute water, food and gas. This was not "every man for himself" in any way; it was typical Houston "we care for our own and our neighbors."

Yes, too many people evacuated, probably out of concern for the recent Katrina. This was understandable because two days before landfall, Rita was a Category 5 storm rated (at 997 millibars) as the second-strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. Coast. Yes, the Texas evacuation plan (while considerably better executed than the Louisiana plan) had supply chain flaws that could and should have been foreseen and remedied faster. (It seems a no-brainer that ramping up gasoline resupply beyond the normal schedule would be necessary.)

Yes, the evacuation was a pain in the ass; but evacuations and hurricanes are like that. Hurricanes require school and work closings at least two days before landfall in order to prepare a safe haven or leave for high ground. Next, the hurricane passes through for one to two days, when you're lucky not to be cloistered in a closet. Finally, if it's a polite storm, power may be out and streets may be hazardous for one to two days more; if it's not, the worst-case scenario is New Orleans. Houston pulled through Rita smelling like a magnolia. Our hearts go out to Galveston, Beaumont and every other area that endured high winds under the eye or the "dirty side" of Rita, including New Orleans with the fresh rain and levee breaks it has endured.

My point is that inconvenience is not chaos, and motorists' ill planning and frustration is no excuse for TV anchors to claim "It's every man for himself." Anchors may have to keep flapping their gums to fill the airwaves around the clock, but speaking responsibly is every journalist's solemn charge.

Weather: Rita dodges Houston

Hurricane Rita diminished in strength to a Category 3 storm for a 2 am landfall just inside Louisiana, then moved up the Louisiana-Texas border to generate a best-case scenario overall. Galveston and Beaumont got hammered, and an estimated 975,000 customers are without power throughout the storm area, but Rita’s aftermath is much lighter than anticipated, with the majority of the Houston metro area dodging the bullet. Jasper and Tyler counties are currently receiving 100 mph winds, but Houston only 40 mph at most. In fact, it was impressive to watch every yellow rain band on the radar fade into green as it reached Houston and, in many cases, Beaumont as well. In my area of west Houston, saplings are bobbing in the wind, and the worst of the storm is that two potted trees in the back yard have been tipped on their sides. The streets have been mostly dry with an occasional spattering of dampness.

The only fatalities I know of are due to evacuations. Several fires in Galveston, driven by strong winds last night, were judiciously contained and extinguished by firefighters who thus saved the 1894 Galveston Opera House across the street. Traffic lights are reported to be out with some downed power lines, so travel is not recommended until more reports come in; but I’m happy to have power for TV and Internet and cooking.

It is enough to make me want to say “Rita, you toothless hag,” except for the respect due her from the wind and rain along the coast, followed by the rural border counties. Nor do we want Rita to linger and cause the 24 inches of rain in 24 hours over the Piney Woods and rural Arkansas that have been hinted at as a possibility.

All told: Hallelujah! Plan for the worst, and hope (or pray) for the best. This is exactly what we received. Thank God.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Weather: Bring it on, Rita

After Katrina hit New Orleans, I wrote (rather blithely, though it makes strict logical sense) that no one should have stayed in town with such a storm en route. Yet I had the feeling that evacuation is more easily said than done, and that one way or the other, I might eat my words.

Well, here comes Katrina's sister Rita. My words taste about how I expected. Tart.

Neither my household nor the majority of those who are important to me have evacuated. This doesn't mean plans weren't made or attempted. What happened? These decisions are generally not made alone. Anyone could in theory hop in a car and head out of town solo -- though this would have been even more logistically impossible than the gridlock that did ensue. No, people band together with their families to stick together and ensure each other's safety; and in the sometimes confusing back-and-forth of familial decisions, things happen. LK crushed two fingers in her garage door and decided to hunker down at home; everyone else debated and ultimately chose not to risk the roads and to "shelter in place" in the most secure home available to their family group. LG got off to her mother's in Sealy. I pray that AS was able to evacuate Beaumont.

Evacuation is a full-time job for the duration. You batten down the hatches, gather supplies, gather with others and, in stages, reach your final destination (with the many delays and linkages this process requires). More can be said in retrospect, but for now, Rita is imminent, and I for one will be grateful if we make it through with windows, roof and power intact. It will be a long 36-hour vigil, beginning in an hour or so. No false bravado in my words "Bring it on, Rita," but respect. This is my first hurricane, and for Rita's weakening and slight turn east, I am grateful.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Email: You should evacuate [SD]

I'm sorry not to [evacuate] with you, and it's nothing personal, but the important thing is to have a plan that will succeed in getting out of Dodge. By the way, they will be positioning trucks along the highways to get people gas who are running low, so you can still get out if you choose to do so. I continue to urge you to do that. As a Christian, I have to urge you to make the most prompt, responsible decisions to safeguard you and yours. I will pray for you either way, but even harder (since you'll need it more) if you stay. A category 5 storm is nothing to sneeze at. All that Gov. Perry and other officials are saying now is to get out in order to save lives. "We may dodge the bullet in Houston, but we don't know, but I'd rather have you sitting in traffic for a long time than losing your life," he just said.

I hope you did not decide to go or to stay because I was going or not going with you. God will not take that as an excuse if you see him sooner than I do. You are responsible for your own life and your family's; I am responsible for mine. When those two coincide, well and good; when they diverge, I will do what I need to do.

I suggest that we use those strategies that work, instead of focusing on details that are discouraging. Stop talking about factors that don't matter in the big picture but you're using to justify staying. You can get out of town if you want; a path of success exists; open your eyes and find it; today is the time to act. Prayers will not move a tornado out of your way when you have been clearly and frequently told to leave town.

As I often say, trust God after you have done your part. Don't trust him to save you if you haven't made your best effort. There is a story to this effect, where God says "I sent you many messengers; why did you keep praying instead of taking action?"

OK, I have to focus on what I need to do. Everyone does. This is not the time to jibber-jab but to hustle. This is a national emergency. Let's do what we need to do.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Email: To evacuate or not [MG]

Evacuation is voluntary for Houston, mandatory for Galveston (or as my [property management] spells it in their [typo-ridden] notification, "mandortary"). Since [Rita is now the third-strongest] category 5 [hurricane, and management admits to not having a clue], I [am leaning towards] leaving.

Email: To evacuate or not [AS]

If you're in a trailer, I'd leave. Do you have friends or family in a secure structure?

Hope isn't enough. Do what it takes to keep yourself safe!

Typos: "warm, protective clot" (

FEMA: "Take your pre-assembled emergency supplies and warm, protective clot"

Weblogs: I'm the train they call the city of New Orleans

(via Looka! - Gumbo Pages, click the post title link to see Arlo Guthrie's entire letter)

"I am determined to help restore all of those little places and bring the music back as soon as possible. I am contacting Amtrak to help us take the train "The City of New Orleans" from Chicago all the way down to New Orleans. We'll take two weeks beginning in early December and stop along the way at depots or high schools or performance centers of all shapes and sizes. And we'll contact the manufacturers of the very stuff we're talking about and arrange to bring a Christmas present to all the small venues within the city - we'll purchase the gear as close to cost as we can, many will undoubtedly make substantial contributions.

Will you help me bring the music back? Working together with our friends in manufacturing, retail, transportation, the venues, the promoters, the press, the agents and managers and the artists - we can help deliver the stuff that helps make New Orleans sing it's own uniquely American song. I'm going anyway - with or without waiting to see who's onboard. Join us on the train, at the depot, from your office or home, but join us.

For info call my office: Rising Son Records, 10741 US Highway 1, Sebastian, FL 32958. (772) 589 1774 or eMail

Love as always,
Arlo Guthrie"

Weblogs: Bichtrina's sister Rita

Monkey with a Butcher Knife!: "So how, exactly would that work out?? Well, let's see: My house was knocked down by a big, mean bitch of a storm and then the entire city was left in ruins when some cheap-ass, Wal-Mart levee broke and destroyed anything I could have otherwise salvaged. So I evacuate to Houston since they were so nice as to give me somewhere to stay while they drain the port-o-potty that used to be my home. Then this other big, bitch of a storm came and knocked my Houston shit down too!

If Rita hits Houston, I think a lot of people are going to have to question their faith and start wondering why God is going to such extravagant lengths to try and kill them."

(Hurricanes are cause for a visceral concern, but challenges are tests, whether of faith or any other strength. Like the Olympics or being an astronaut, you either have the "right stuff" or you see where you need to grow -- by being cranky, weak or whatever. "God is love" and "Mature love casts out fear" [I John]. What we can become is clear; the only question is, do we choose to grow?)

Weblogs: What's so fair about grace?

LutheranChik's "L" Word Diary: "And God's grace is enough. In Jesus' parable, all the workers receive the ancient Palestinian minimum wage -- enough to get by for another day. Sometimes I think it's hard for us to get our heads around this: We don't have to clutch at or hoard or fight over God's grace because there is enough for us all. How much of the discord in Christendom today, when you get right down to it, is essentially a grab for grace? -- 'It's mine! Mine, I tell you!' -- as if God has not already given us the grace we need? God's grace, properly understood, is a unifying agent between people; by divorcing grace from merit, God refuses to play our human game of dividing ourselves into 'us' and 'them.' 'You're all 'us,'' is the divine message in the vineyard owner's unconditional denarius.

Madeleine L'Engle, in an interview with The Door magazine many years ago, observed that we tend to want justice for everyone else but lots and lots of grace for ourselves. Because we just want what's fair; right?

Thank God that God's grace isn't fair. Thank God that God doesn't give us what we want, but instead gives us what we need -- freely, lovingly; not because of who we are, but because of who God is. "

Weblogs: Friday cow blogging

(via Bits and Odd Pieces of Mindy's Kingdom, where Mindy of Plainview, Texas, presents one fiberglass cow every Friday -- love it!)

"Of all of the cows that you know....what cow would live at the library???

Dairy Potter of course!!!"

Weblogs: My Name Is Earl

My Name Is Earl: "This may be the virus talking, but I really like the new NBC show My Name is Earl. It's about a loveable lowlife named Earl, in a small town remarkably similar to Outer Podunk. Earl wins, then loses a Lotto fortune -- quite painfully, I might add -- and in the 'Why me?' aftermath, he has a metanoia moment while watching Carson Daley on TV discussing the law of karma. Earl decides that he needs to make amends with all the people he's ever hurt in his life; he draws up a list and proceeds to do just that. In this initial episode he tries to help a lonely neighbor whom he'd tormented as a child find love -- a task complicated by the revelation that the guy is gay, which necessitates some additional consciousness raising on Earl's part.

Witty and sweet -- two adjectives that usually don't go together when discussing a television show, but this one manages to be both."

Weblogs: Let's ask the cats about Hurricane Rita

Weblogs: Gen X and cranky - part 1

I Will Sing: "I am feeling cranky about some churchy things.

1) Ministry to people in their 20's and 30's is called Ministry to Young People. ON THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH USA! This is insulting. I checked with Computer Guy. He agrees.

Young people? My Rite 13 kids are young people. My undergraduate work study students are young people, just barely. I, however, am not YOUNG PEOPLE! I am younger than most members of your average Episcopal church, yes, this is true. But I have a life. I am an adult with adult responsibilities. I am not a stranger from a distant land (even if I am, be nice to me any way). I am not of another species. I am an Episcopalian sitting in the pew next to you, praying just as hard as you, trying just as hard to figure out what the Gospel says and then trying to follow it!

2) The links to Gen X related things and groups on the Episcopal Church USA website are broken. Yep, that'll bring us in. We Gen Xers LOVE broken hyperlinks. Shows us how much ya really care.

3) My choir's soprano section lives under a rock.

My rector mentioned in last week's sermon that every new family/person under 40 that has joined our congregation in the last year checked us out online first. Now, my reaction to that is DUH. Not having a website is like shooting yourself in the foot. I'm never sure about organizations without one; I kind of wonder if they want me to show up and/or buy their product. Anyway, the sopranos (for once I am glad that my second soprano voice is currently helping the wonderful warm fuzzy and clued in altos) asked CG if this was really true. He nodded. Shock and awe followed. Sigh. And we wonder where all the young families are..."

Trivia: I am Julian of Norwich

You are Julian of Norwich! It's all about God, to you. You're convinced that the world has a happy ending. Everyone else is convinced that you're a closet hippie, but you love them anyway.

Which Saint Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

(I suppose this was expected. If you take the test, tell me what you did to the telemarketer.)

Websites: NOAA wind speed predictions for Rita

Sustained wind speeds from Hurricane Rita look to be 40-115 mph from the coast to Houston and even as far as Austin; click the post title link for probabilities of wind speeds measuring 34+ knots (39-63 mph), 50+ knots (58-93 mph) or 64+ knots (74-119 mph), broken out by specific times and locations.

Houston roughly has a 60 percent chance of experiencing winds of 40-60 mph, a 30 percent chance of seeing winds 60-90 mph, and a 15 percent chance of feeling winds 75-120 mph. (Percentages do not add up to 100 because wind ranges overlap.)

Press: Police forcibly break up Cindy Sheehan rally "The New York City Police Department forcibly broke up this afternoon's rally for Cindy Sheehan, moving in as Cindy was speaking at about 3 p.m. in Union Square. The rally had been underway for about an hour, and was about to conclude as Cindy spoke following several other speakers, including a few who are traveling with her on her caravan.

As Cindy was speaking, a large platoon of police massed behind from the interior of the park, then formed a circle behind her, the speakers' area and a few dozen people who were deployed in an arc behind her. Overall, about 200 people were in attendance, with the crowd steadily increasing in size as the rally progressed. As the police formed their arc just behind, the men and women immediately behind Cindy linked arms. A captain made a cutting motion at his throat, signalling he wanted no more free speech. He waited about 30 seconds, then the police moved in. They didn't dare arrest Cindy, but they immediately moved in and grabbed the event's organizer [...], pulling him away and arresting him. [...]

The police also took the microphone and sound system. The crowd shouted "Shame! Shame!" at the police and asked what they were so afrraid [sic] of, but made no response. [...]

No warning of any kind was given, and this was a permitted rally. Other than the captain making his cut motion, 30 seconds before forcibly breaking up the rally, there was no warning, verbal or in any other fashion. The police had massed perhaps three or four minutes before moving in. Until then, the rally had gone smoothly, starting just after 2 p.m. as scheduled. [...]

A woman from the caravan said they had done more than 100 events in 51 cities, and nothing like this had ever happened to them. [...] The police [...] on at least two previous Mondays, have taken the camps's tents, confiscated banners and made arrests. This is merely the latest example of Bloomberg's contempt for opinions that challenge the authorities, particularly Republican Party authorities. And where are our supposed policital [sic] leaders? Nothing but silence."

Weblogs: Handy hurricane information links

(via Houston's Clear Thinkers, with helpful links as promised -- to which I add[ed] the Houston-Galveston Emergency Blogger Network [however, I see it hasn't been updated in 24 hours])

"As all grizzled veterans of Hurricane Alicia in 1983 know (related Chronicle story is here), this is a serious situation for the Texas Gulf coast and it is time to prepare to batten down the hatches. If you are a relative newcomer to this area and have never been through an intense hurricane before, do not fall into the trap of thinking that the media and others are crying 'wolf.' This is a deadly serious storm that has the potential to be every bit as devastating to the Texas Gulf coast as Katrina was to the Louisiana-Mississippi-Alabama Gulf coast. As destructive as Alicia was in 1983 (it's eye came in on Galveston's West Beach and tore through the middle of Houston on a track that essentially followed I-45), it was a minimal category 3 storm. In comparison, Rita is shaping up to be a much more powerful storm that is comparable to Hurricane Carla, which was a category 4 (winds of 133-155 mph) storm that caused incredible damage to Houston and the upper Texas Gulf coast on September 11, 1961. Carla had the same minimum barometric pressure as the great 1900 storm that killed over 6,000 people in Galveston.

I hope I have gotten your attention."

Weblogs: Good Night, and Good Luck

(via Daily Kos via Premiere magazine, George Clooney comments on his starring role in the upcoming biographical movie, filmed in black-and-white, about premiere broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow)

Daily Kos: State of the Nation: "George Clooney: My father was an anchorman for years and years, and we grew up with the theory that there are very few times that broadcast journalism can make that big of a difference, but those mileposts--Murrow taking on McCarthy and Cronkite taking on Vietnam--actually change things. That was a high point in my family's life, something my father always talked about--without Murrow, what the country would have been like. So it was something I've always sort of romanticized.

And as the world changed and [it came out] that a couple of people McCarthy nailed were actually spies, there was this rewriting of history--about what a good guy McCarthy was. And it occurred to me that the whole point of what Murrow had done so brilliantly was to take on the subject matter saying, 'I don't know whether these people are guilty or not, but they have the right to face their accuser.' I wasn't looking to preach to anybody. I just thought there were some really interesting parallels to issues going on today."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Email: Smile for baklava [MG]

Nothing's better than a librarian with a super smile (although baklava runs a close second).

Quotes: "We need ... old books" (C.S. Lewis)

“Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means old books…Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.” -- C.S. Lewis

Press: What's behind the creative mind? - In Character - Why Mad Scientists Are Mad: What's behind the creative mind? by Sharon Begley:

"In interviews with fifty-seven creative artists and scientists, psychiatrist Albert Rothenberg heard again and again of the close relationship between imagery and creativity. Typically, the person superimposes, in the mind’s eye, two or more images; fusing them produces a novel image. In a similar process, the person conceives of two or more opposite ideas or concepts at the same time. As Poincare himself said, “The most fertile [combinations] will often be those formed of elements drawn from domains which are far apart.” Although ordinary mortals screen out elements from distant domains when they are working on a particular problem – be it how to depict a riparian scene in a new way or how to build a better mousetrap – thanks to the reduced latent inhibition that the Harvard scientists documented the mind opens the door to these far-flung elements and invites them to come in and sit a while, the better to mix with other invitees and form original combinations.

In many cases, creativity seems to emerge unconsciously, often when you are thinking of something else. That may explain the responses people gave to a survey about where and when they are most creative. Nearly 20 percent of American adults say they think most creatively in their cars, according to the 2005 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index study, which measures attitudes toward invention and innovation. The same percentage chose workplaces and schools; 16 percent said they were most creative in bed while falling asleep, waking up, or dreaming [...]. Respondents also said the ideal conditions for their creative thinking were solitude and quiet. When asked to complete the sentence, “My most creative ideas come when ... ,” 66 percent chose “I am alone,” with 47 percent opting for the closely akin “it’s quiet and there are no disruptions.” Interestingly, given the culture’s infatuation with brainstorming, only 24 percent chose “I’m working with others.""

Press: Do good people make good art? - In Character - In God's Image: Do Good People Make Good Art? by Gregory Wolfe: "So in what sense might we say that creativity is a virtue? Oscar Wilde, a creative individual if there ever was one, and an artist with his own share of problems, framed the question with his usual wit. “The fact of a man’s being a poisoner,” he once said, “is nothing against his prose.”

If Wilde strikes you as suspect in voicing this opinion, given his own notorious troubles, how about those two paragons of reason and rectitude – Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas? They provide a philosophical basis for Wilde’s position by distinguishing between two different types of human action: making and doing. Doing involves human choices, the way we exercise our free will. In the realm of doing – or Prudence, as it has been called – the goal is the perfection of the doer. In other words, in our behavior we are seeking to perfect ourselves as moral agents.

But in making – or Art, if you will – the end is not the good of the artist as a person but the good of the made thing. [...] Art seems to require an inviolable freedom to seek the good of the artifact, without either overt or covert messages being forced into it. And history demonstrates that it is simply a statement of fact (to paraphrase Aquinas) that rectitude of the appetites is not a prerequisite for the ability to make beautiful objects. Thus our poisoner with his exquisite prose style. Or Picasso brutalizing the women in his life. Or the legion of artists and scientists who drank or drugged themselves to death. [...]

Despite the pain and enervation of lupus and the daily domestic frustrations, [Flannery] O’Connor did not collapse into self-pity and paralysis. A self-described “hillbilly Thomist,” she embraced the Aristotelian-Thomist view of art, especially as she found it described by one of her contemporaries, the French Catholic philosopher, Jacques Maritain, in his Art and Scholasticism. She was grateful to Maritain for making the distinction between Art and Prudence because she believed that a Christian writer’s “moral sense” and “dramatic sense” ought to coincide. For O’Connor, as for several other important modern Christian writers, including T.S. Eliot and David Jones, Maritain provided a sort of liberation: he helped explain why religious writers ought to resist the temptation to turn their work into didactic or propagandistic art.

But she also noted Maritain’s argument that art did involve what the ancient philosophers called habitus, or the virtue of artistic craft and discipline. Every day she sat down at her typewriter for a minimum of two to three hours, however wretched she may have been feeling, physically or emotionally. She was tart and unsentimental about the creative process, belonging to the school of artists who believe that inspiration can only be found by sitting down at 9:00 a.m. each day and meeting it halfway. At public lectures she was often asked why she wrote. “Because I’m good at it,” she invariably replied. And if some in the audience were offended by this remark, others recognized that she was simply being true to the Thomistic understanding of art."

Weblogs: Compassionate cogitation

(via Intellectuelle)

"Some seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge:
That is curiosity;
Others seek knowledge so that they themselves may be known:
That is vanity;
But there are still others who seek knowledge in order to serve and edify others;
And that is charity.

- Bernard of Clairvaux"

Press: Everyday creativity - In Character - Everyday Creativity by Howard Gardner: "What do we know about the lives of individuals who have attained the Big C? Here are some generalizations that have emerged from my fifteen years of study: creators in most areas come from conventional backgrounds – they learn to work hard during their early years and are rewarded for doing so by their parents. Typically, they are not prodigies; they become iconoclastic personalities before they choose an area in which to concentrate their talents. They don’t choose their domain randomly, but rather select from a small number for which they are suited. By the end of adolescence, they leave the small community where they have been raised and move to a metropolis where they search out others like themselves.

They spend up to a decade mastering their discipline. Though some domains prove more demanding to master than others, there are no shortcuts to Creativity. The crucial difference between experts and Creators emerges when anomalies or inconsistencies crop up. Experts tend to ignore these or assimilate them into standard practice. They are problem solvers. Creators, by contrast, become intrigued by these exceptions and make them central in their practice. They are problem finders. This fascination necessarily distances them from others, but they persist and eventually – though not inevitably – some kind of a breakthrough takes place."

Press: Can robots be creative? - In Character - Artifice and Artistry: Can Robots Be Creative? by Adam Keiper: "Therein lies the problem of machine creativity. Human creativity is rooted in our interaction with the world – what we see and experience, including all the ambiguities and contradictions that imbue everyday life. Human creativity is inseparable from our physical embodiment, our genes and brains and bruises and flaws that give rise in mysterious ways to our predispositions and preferences. Human creativity is bound to our emotions, our hopes and hates, desires and fears, grief and love and faith.

The age of creative machines is not near at hand, for actually being in the world is the price of true creativity."

Weblogs: Beauty tips worth sharing

Windows to My Soul: "Below is a poem someone shared with me today that Audrey Hepburn wrote when asked to share her 'beauty tips.' It was read at her funeral years later:

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

'Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.' 1 Peter 3:3-4"

Weblogs: John of St. Thomas on animal cognition

(via Siris, the philosophical distinction between man and animal is abstract or attributive perception.)

"John of St. Thomas builds his definition of a sign: A sign is that which represents something other than itself. The key conditions that this definition demands are (a) that there be a distinct object capable fo being manifested to a cognitive power; and (b) that there be something representative."

Weblogs: George MacDonald on sub-creation

Siris: "A man's inventions may be stupid or clever, but if he does not hold by the laws of them, or if he makes one law jar with another, he contradicts himself as an inventor, he is no artist. He does not rightly consort his instruments, or he tunes them in different keys. The mind of man is the product of live Law; it thinks by law, it dwells in the midst of law, it gathers from law its growth; with law, therefore, can it alone work to any result. Inharmonious, unconsorting ideas will come to a man, but if he try to use one of such, his work will grow dull, and he will drop it from mere lack of interest. Law is the soil in which alone beauty will grow; beauty is the only stuff in which Truth can be clothed; and you may, if you will, call Imagination the tailor that cuts her garments to fit her, and Fancy his journeyman that puts the pieces of them together, or perhaps at most embroiders their button-holes. Obeying law, the maker works like his creator; not obeying law, he is such a fool as heaps a pile of stones and calls it a church."

Weblogs: Emily Rose review

(via North Western Winds, a thoughtful review of a movie I probably won't see but which apparently treats the issues of good vs. evil and faith vs. suffering so intelligently that A.O. Scott of the NYT considers this movie to be pro-Catholic proaganda)

"Godpsy [sic] provides a quote from the Bible that might be helpful, although it isn't obvious on a first reading. The passage is from Colossians [1:24]:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body

There are two assertions here. The first is easier; Paul tells his readers that that he struggles for their good, as we should in a healthy community. The second part is more obscure. It is not in character for Paul to say that Christ's death was lacking in any way. What I think he's getting at is that his actions for the good of the community are mending on Christ's 'spiritual body', which is a common term for the Church and all of its members, past, present and future. Such actions counter the wounds caused by sin. Emily's sufferings are instructive, just as those of sick children, but the lesson here is not that we will die. The lesson (as I understand it) is that sin and spiritual combat are real. Emily herself tells her priest this, adding that in a vision she had, she consented to prolonging the ordeal in order that others can be learn and be saved.

Director Scott Derrickson says in Godspy, that:

'I often find myself troubled when I think deeply about this and the nature of God. It is perplexing. But isn't that the story of the saints, the apostles themselves? People who suffered tremendously so that God's nature could be revealed to the world. That does give me questions and apprehensions about God, but I always come back to a place of comfort when I think that God Himself endured that — if you believe in the incarnation. I hope agnostics will be troubled by the spiritual possibilities the film presents, but that Christians will also be troubled into thinking about issues like this.'"

Weblogs: The Skeptic Manifesto

(More evangelical smugness which ignores the notion that faith is faith; by definition, faith has no proof, therefore the scientist or skeptic who only believes in what can be sensed or proved, will not "go there.")

The Cultural Commission: "I was intrigued by the skepticism of Michael Shermer on PBS’s The Question of God so I checked out his Web site ( Though we know by revelation that Shermer artfully suppresses in unrighteousness the truth he can’t not know, his Skeptic Manifesto feigns objective, intellectual honesty. For example:

'It is easy, even fun to challenge others’ beliefs, when we are smug in the certainty of our own. But when ours are challenged, it takes great patience and ego strength to listen with an unjaundiced ear.'"

Weblogs: Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

Beyond The Rim...: "Grand Canyon of Texas is a 120 mile long canyon that is up to 20 miles wide in places. Designated a Texas state park, the over 18,000 acres of rugged badlands is located southwest of Amarillo, Texas."

Weblogs: Billy Goat Trail, Maryland

(via Beyond The Rim...) "Billy Goat Trail is a strenuous trail (three sections, each from 1.5 to 1.7 miles long) that runs along the Potomac River near Great Falls and Mathern Gorge, Maryland."

Lyrics: Turn the World Around - Harry Belafonte

(via Every Square Inch, if again so smugly superior as to critique Belafonte and the Muppets at length for their insidious humanism; anyway, I have always had a connection with Harry Belafonte, because of "The Banana Boat Song")

"We come from the fire / living in the fire /
Go back to the fire / turn the world around,

We come from the water / living in the water /
Go back to the water / turn the world around,

We come from the mountain / living in the mountain /
Go back to the mountain / turn the world around,

Do you know who I am? / Do I know who you are?
See we one another clearly? / Do we know who we are?

Water make the river / river wash the mountain /
Fire make the sunlight / turn the world around,

Heart is of the river / body is the mountain /
Spirit is the sunlight / turn the world around,

We are of the spirit / truly of the spirit /
Only can the spirit turn the world around."

Weblogs: Good Charlotte seeking what only God can provide

(Every Square Inch analyzes the lyrics of Good Charlotte's CD "The Chronicles of Life and Death" -- if a bit smugly from an evangelical view)

"We are all the same
Human in all our ways and all our pain (So let it be)
There's a love that could fall down like rain (Let us see)
Let forgiveness wash away the pain (What we need)
And no one really knows what they are searching for (We believe)
This world is crying for so much more...
So this world
Is too much
For you to take
Just lay it down and follow me
I'll be everything you need
In every way"
-- We Believe

Weblogs: Glory

Websites: The Velveeta Rabbit

The Transformation Story Archive: "'What is REAL?' asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the hot water tap, before Dinah came to tidy the kitchen. 'Does it mean costing eighty-three dollars an ounce and tasting nasty?'

'Real isn't how much you cost,' said the Cabernet Sauvignon. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child waits to eat you for a long, long time, not just to eat, but to REALLY savor you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

'Sometimes,' said the Cabernet Sauvignon, for he was always well-tempered. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

'Does it happen all at once, like being popped into the microwave,' he asked, 'or bit by bit, like being broiled?'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Cabernet Sauvignon. 'Microwaves NEVER cook anything that tastes real. Good food takes a long time. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your coloring has changed, most of your flavoring has been replaced with herbs and spices, and you have silly little bits of parsley on your head. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be unappetizing, except to people who prefer fast food.'

'I suppose you are Real?' said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Cabernet Sauvignon a little transparent. But the Cabernet Sauvignon only smiled.

'The Boy's parents made me Real,' he said. 'That was a great many years ago, when they still babbled in affectionate puppy love to each other, but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.'"

Monday, September 19, 2005

Weblogs: Baby pervert

Decent Marketing: "Could somebody please explain to me what the fascination is with talking babies? I would be so grateful if Quizno's could send Baby Bob off to wherever it is that talking babies go when they retire (baby college?) and let us all move on. Quizno's actually sells Baby Bob t-shirts on their website now. There's one with Bob holding a sub featuring the quote 'When my molars grow in I'm all over this bad boy'. (Bit of advice for those few poor souls who bought that shirt -- don't wear it while on the prowl for hot dates.)

Don't get me wrong -- babies are cute. But a baby that sounds a lot like a creepy pervert talking about subway sandwiches just doesn't work for me. Yes, I said pervert. In one ad he rides around Italy with a supermodel and in another he's hanging out by the pool with a hot chick in a bikini. I think I'm going to start a 'Save Baby Bob' campaign. We can't let poor Bob grow up to be an adult creepy pervert. Stop the madness! Save Bob!!!!!"

Press: Knowledge for sale - Utne Reader

(via BookBitchBlog) "Such is the American public library at its best. And who doesn't love a library, at least in concept? In a land where private ownership is the rule, libraries lend items and offer help for free. Historically, they've provided things to be shared, not consumed and thrown away. Good libraries are deeply conservative in that they guard and archive the culture's diverse wisdom and beauty, its vast oddities and amusements. But they're also radical bastions of mutual aid. In a 'knowledge economy' where information carries an ever-steeper price, where the rich get wealthier and the poor have less, libraries are one of the few ways still available for many to educate themselves -- ideally, an American right.

By some measures, these wellsprings of the democratic spirit have never been more popular. According to the American Library Association (ALA), public library visits have risen from 500 million in 1990 to about 1.2 billion a year. Reference librarians now answer more than 7 million questions a week. And as the ALA likes to note, there are more public libraries in the United States -- 16,421, counting all branches -- than there are McDonald's restaurants."

Weblogs: You, down front!

Book Fetish: "Try your hardest not to think George W. Bush choking on a pretzel. Right now. Go. Go ahead. I dare you. See? Even if you are trying to ignore something you can’t just go back and unread that sentence can you? You can’t just forget I just wrote it. You just committed it to short term memory so somewhere, deep inside, you’re picturing Dubya choking on a pretzel. Even if you are a Zen Master and you can stop your own heart by thinking about it, you cannot refuse the power of the written word or its natural effect of imagery.

So in short, no, I can’t turn it off and yes, I will continue ruining books for myself.

But there is an upside. A great writer, a truly great writer, will always surprise me. And that is a simple beauty beyond compare."

Internet: Kids and dogs

Websites: "The Katrina administration"

Katrina is a symbol of all this administration does and doesn't do. Michael Brown -- or Brownie as the President so famously thanked him for doing a heck of a job -- is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq; what George Tenet is to slam dunk intelligence; what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad; what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy; what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning; what Tom Delay is to ethics; and what George Bush is to "Mission Accomplished" and "Wanted Dead or Alive." The bottom line is simple: the "we'll do whatever it takes" administration doesn't have what it takes to get the job done.

This is the Katrina administration.

This is the real test of Katrina. Will we be satisfied to only do the immediate: care for the victims and rebuild the city? Or will we be inspired to tackle the incompetence that left us so unprepared, and the societal injustice that left so many of the least fortunate waiting and praying on those rooftops?

The rush now to camouflage their misjudgments and inaction with money does not mean they are suddenly listening. It's still politics as usual. The plan they're designing for the Gulf Coast turns the region into a vast laboratory for right wing ideological experiments. They're already talking about private school vouchers, abandonment of environmental regulations, abolition of wage standards, subsidies for big industries, and believe it or not yet another big round of tax cuts for the wealthiest among us!

Here is the full text of John Kerry's speech delivered today.

Internet: God spilled the paint

Weblogs: The cult of Felix [the Cat]

Blog with a View: "Felix the Cat had a very humble beginning as a curious and mischievous little cat as first conceived by New Jersey cartoonist Otto Messmer. In no time at all he was more popular than movie stars and world leaders of the same era. His squat, black body and huge, wide eyes and grin were instantly recognizable worldwide. He is considered the first true movie cartoon star. His first appearance was in a short film in the early 1900's called 'Feline Follies'. Soon thereafter he made the transition to print. King Features syndicated Felix in over 250 newspapers in a multitude of languages, reaching practically every corner of the globe. "

Weblogs: Do you trust women?

Bitch Ph.D.: "When pro-choice feminists like Wolf, or liberal men, or a lot of women, even, say things like, 'I'm pro-choice, but I am uncomfortable with... [third-trimester abortion / sex-selection / women who have multiple abortions / women who have abortions for 'convenience' / etc.]' then what you are saying is that your discomfort matters more than an individual woman's ability to assess her own circumstances. That you don't think that women who have abortions think through the very questions that you, sitting there in your easy chair, can come up with. That a woman who is contemplating an invasive, expensive, and uncomfortable medical procedure doesn't think it through first. In short, that your judgment is better than hers.

Think about the hubris of that. Your judgment of some hypothetical scenario is more reliable than some woman's judgment about her own, very real, life situation?

And you think that's not sexist? That that doesn't demonstrate, at bottom, a distrust of women? A blindness to their equality? A reluctance to give up control over someone else's decision?

Because if you cannot see that, then I don't care who you are. Male, female, feminist, reactionary asshole. You are acting as a conduit for a social distrust of women so strong that it's almost invisible, that it gets read as 'normal.' The fact that abortion is even a debate in this country demonstrates that we do not trust women."

Websites: QuickVerse for Mac OS X review

Bible Software Review: "QuickVerse Mac offers a low-cost Bible study library for those on a tight budget and/or who don't use Greek or Hebrew texts in the course of their study of the Bible. It needs to improve in the area of user customization (e.g., choosing default fonts, or the color of search hits, to name just two) and user interface, but it is an encouraging start.

I mentioned at the beginning that there is a 'Mac way' of doing things. While using the program I couldn't help feeling that I was working the 'Windows way' on a Mac. I readily admit that my expectations were quite high, and that is probably the main reason why I felt a bit disappointed. I was expecting the best of what QuickVerse can offer (including full compatibility with the large number of STEP books already available), but was left with the impression that a lot of work remains to be done. I sincerely hope they manage to do it.


Pronunciation feature
Good use of context-sensitive menus (right-click or Control-click)
Good assortment of Bible and general reference works.


Searching is way too limited
No compatibility with QuickVerse for Windows STEP books
There are no Greek or Hebrew resources available yet
Misleading product information."

Weblogs: God to George W. Bush, "Take a hint."

(Bill Maher on blatherWatch) "The cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed out, and no one is speaking to you: mission accomplished! Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service. And the oil company. And the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or spaceman?!

Now, I know what you're saying. You're saying that there's so many other things that you, as president, could involve yourself in…Please don't.

I know, I know, there's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela, and eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.

But, sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man.

Herbert Hoover was a s---ty president, but even he never conceded an entire metropolis to rising water and snakes.

On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two Trade Centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans…Maybe you're just not lucky!

I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. So, yes, God does speak to you, and what he's saying is, “Take a hint.”"

Weblogs: Well, thanks, Microsoft

Higgaion: "The Microsoft Mactopia newsletter for September 2005 just arrived in my e-mail inbox, and once again I am completely underwhelmed. The newsletter has a couple of 'back-to-school' articles about using Office 2004 in education. Yawn. This is old news, Microsoft. The newsletter encourages teachers and students to manage their schedules using Entourage, but still doesn't offer a solution to the persistent and vexing Error 1025 problem (Microsoft Entourage always returns an error when checking a Microsoft Exchange inbox, yep) despite a year's worth of complaints on the Microsoft support forums and third-party support forums. The newsletter encourages students to use Word to write for their English, history, and science classes, and in fact I do require my students to turn in their papers digitally in Word, RTF, or PDF format. But it's a good thing Microsoft didn't mention Hebrew or Arabic studies classes in their blurb, because the several-hundred-dollar Microsoft Word 2004 still doesn't handle right-to-left Unicode as well as the $29 Mellel. Oh, but now we can download Microsoft Messenger 5.0 with a brushed metal skin. Yee-haw. Microsoft, how about giving us some actual bug fixes? Every program I use except for MS Office and Dreamweaver can mix left-to-right and right-to-left Unicode with ease. Why can't Word? Apple's bundled Mail program works beautifully with an Exchange server (via IMAP), why doesn't Entourage? This fluffy stuff is getting old, Microsoft. And yet I keep using Word, because there's no other word processor out there that offers the same level of page-element positioning and a robust macro language. I guess this is what co-dependency feels like."

Weblogs: Rusticatio Mexicana

Безѹмниѥ: "Usually I’m not too enthusiastic about Neo-Latin, but I thought this was simply too cool. I picked up a copy of the Duckworth/Bristol Classical Press 2005 Academic Catalog, and they announce Andrew Laird’s new work The Epic of America: An Introduction to Rafael Landívar and the Rusticatio Mexicana. The Rusticatio Mexicano is a 1782 description in 15 books of the flora, fauna, landscape, and folk traditions of Guatemala and Mexico, written entirely in Latin. The work blends classical poetic traditions with political commentary in the colonialist world of 18th century Central America.

Landîvar’s work seems to be of awesome proportions, and apparently it gained some respect, as Duckworth calls him “the American Virgil”. How odd that I never heard of it before. Here is an except (found at a short Spanish-language biography):

Salue, cara Parens, dulcis Guatimala, Salue,
delicium uitae, fons, et origo meae:
quam iuuat, Alma, tuas animo peruoluere dotes,
temperiem, fontes, compita, templa, lares.
Iam mihi frondosos uideor discernere montes,
ac iugi uirides munere ueris agros.
Saepius in mentem subeunt labentia circum
flumina, et umbrosis litora tecta comis:
tum uario cultu penetralia compta domorum,
plurimaque Idaliis picta uireta rosis.
Quid uero, aurato repeto si splendida luxu
Serica, uel Tyrio uellera tincta mari?
Haec mihi semper erunt patrii nutrimen amoris,
inque artis rebus dulce leuamen erunt."

Weblogs: What is obedience of faith?

Better Bibles Blog: "An adequate English translation of Rom. 1:5, then, must make clear for English speakers who is doing the believing and what they do as a result of believing. In my opinion, an adequate translation of hupakoen pisteos within the context of all the other semantic elements of this verse would be:

so that all nations would believe and obey

or, even more explicitly

so that all nations would obey after believing

I consider the following English versions to have adequate translations of the semantic structure of the Greek genitive phrase hupakoen pisteos:

in order to lead people of all nations to believe and obey (TEV)
so that people of all nations would obey and have faith (CEV)
to lead people of all nations to believe and obey (NCV)
so that they will believe and obey him (NLT)"

Weblogs: Avast [ye scurvy swabs]

Dave Barry's Blog: "Don't forget: [Today] is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, the day on which the whole world joins together to talk like a pirate for a very positive and important reason that at the moment slips my mind. If you need to brush up on your pirate talk, you can go here and run your mouse over the pirate critter's pants to generate a random pirate phrase, thanks to the wonder of the Pants Based Random Pirate Phrase Generator (PBRPPG), which was invented in 1704 by Bluebeard. Or possibly Blackbeard. It was definitely some guy with a beard."

Weblogs: Put your snake away, sir

Dave Barry's Blog: "The thing is, here in South Florida, you see guys walking around in public with snakes all the time. This is particularly true of South Miami Beach, where wearing a snake around your neck qualifies as business casual. My question is, why? Do these guys think women find snakes attractive? Has anybody ever heard a woman say, 'What I go for is a man with a big old python around his neck'?"

Email: Restoring the flow [SD]

You should remember what I need to do, which is turn off the ringer before I take a nap. It happens rarely enough that I take my chances; but if I'm that tired, I owe it to myself to make sure I use that time well.

Relaxing the tightness in your muscles and "releasing the energy" that emotions have blocked is what massage therapy is about.

I am able to acknowledge what I don't have and even admit that it would have been nice if things had turned out differently, while at the same time accepting my own situation. I'm not pining or woe-is-me-ing because I say something is a good thing. Others' realities are different than my needs, and my own life is not even that much about my needs.

I think it's normal for a mother (and sometimes a father) to "miss" the children you might have had.

Internet: How many Bushies to change a light bulb?

(No matter what your political affiliation, you should find this to be true -- until the last one.)

Q: How many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: Ten.

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed;

2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed;

3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb;

4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either for changing the light bulb or for eternal darkness;

5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new light bulb;

6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner "Bulb Accomplished";

7. One administration insider to resign and in detail reveal how Bush was literally "in the dark" the whole time;

8. One to viciously smear No. 7;

9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy all along;

10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

Websites: Baggage Reclaim - Personals ads in reverse

Baggage Reclaim: "One young BIG bugaboo for sale. He will call you at all times of the day and night, irrespective of your life and schedule. He will come by unannounced, and expect you to drop everything and hang out with him whenever he wants to. If you lay your boundaries down, he will try and guilt trip you stating that you don't love him enough. You are not allowed to have any life outside of his, and should always be at his beck and call.

Caroline, Boston, US"

Weblogs: Focus

(via Veritatis Splendor)

(Click the post title link if the picture doesn't display.)

Weblogs: PostSecret

(Click on the post title link if the picture doesn't display.)

Weblogs: Katrina - Trouble for a Calvinist

a badchristian blog: "As a Calvinist, or neo-Calvinist as the case may be, I don't like natural disasters. They put a kink in the bow of my nicely wrapped 'sover[e]ign God' package. It's all well and good to be a believer in a sover[e]ign God when good stuff is happening all around. But, honestly, Katrina shakes my faith to its very roots. How can an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God let such a terrible thing happen to her people.

Now, I'm not saying that we Calvinists don't have some pat answers for this. We do. I could rattle them off for you (see, I've taken apologetics, too). Yet, somehow those pat answers don't seem to placate me like they once did. And, like lots of folks, I could lie to you and say that I totally understand how this all fits into God's plan. Some of these folks even believe themselves.

See, I'm not buying what they're selling. They're selling shares in understanding. I don't think I need understanding. What I need is a faith that 'does.' As I reread this, the concept of a faith that 'does' is particularly abstract. Stick with me here, I think what I mean will become more clear. Somehow, an immovable, unshakeable understanding has become synonomous with a strong faith. (And, to be honest, according to the logic of the Kingdom of Man this makes perfect sense.) However, the logic of the Kingdom of God--the same one that asks for faith like a mustard seed--defies this. [...]

It's not that we give up on the search for understanding. It's not that we stop trying to figure it all out. I think the light dawns when we realize that the 'answer' isn't really the answer to the question. The search, in and of itself, is the answer to the question.

Which brings me, in a round-a-bout way, back to faith. You see, perhaps faith isn't something to be 'had' in the traditional sense. Perhaps, it's something to be done. Perhaps, by the very quest for the answers, by the examination and acceptance of the shaking of the very roots of what we call faith, we'll realize that faith isn't finding the answers. Faith isn't understanding some abstract concept.

Faith, I think, in the upside down logic of the Kingdom of God, grows by participating in the process of uncertainty. "

Weblogs: Horror [at the aftermath of Katrina]

Bad Catholic: "El Salvador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic want to send help. They want to do what they can, even though you might think they've got enough problems of their own and would leave us to fend for ourselves. They want to give what they have. Amazing. Canada, Germany, France, Russia -- all nations that have taken a lot of derision in recent years from half of the U.S. because they didn't like our war. They want to help. Jamaica. Japan. China. Belgium. Venezuela!

Yeah, there's often political posturing involved in offers of aid. No doubt there's some here too, at least in some quarters. But there's also political posturing involved in its refusal -- and of course Bush said we didn't need their help because goddammit, we're Americans and we bleed red, white and blue and we don't need foreigners meddling in our disasters. The State Department quashed that attitude pretty quickly, it sounds like. Good.

Because you know what? Even if we don't technically need the help, we need to let people help us. We need to lean on those who want to hold us up. It is touching that they care. And people do, even if governments don't. They love their neighbors. That's how love changes the world. That's what Jesus would do. I really believe that."

Weblogs: An argument against natural selection?

Bad Catholic: "It's hilarious that [those who believe Katrina was caused by abortion] see America as both God's chosen nation and the one He hates the most. I guess it's that 'He chastises whom He loves' thing. Because it makes perfect sense that God would punish America for killing babies by ... killing babies. I also like the 'God was smiting the gays' argument. Clearly God sought to disrupt the gay-themed Southern Decadence parade and decided that killing thousands of mostly poor, infirm straight people was the most efficient way to go about doing that."

Weblogs: Hurricane victims - A handy source of recruits!

Bad Catholic: "We ran a photo in the paper today that was taken at a Houston job fair for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. A woman was examining positions available with school districts. On the right edge of the photo were other job postings. One in particular caught my eye: 'US ARMY! Free training!'

I mean no disrespect to veterans and recognize that the Army offers opportunities to a lot of people who might not get them any other way. But is it really all that moral to try to sign up people who have just lost everything they own and really don't need more traumatic experiences?"

Weblogs: People who need to shut the hell up

Bad Catholic: "Pat Robertson, host of Christian Broadcasting Network's (CBN) The 700 Club and founder of the Christian Coalition of America, stated that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. can 'be thankful that a tragedy has brought him some good.'"

Weblogs: Yay, witch hunts!

Bad Catholic: "Gosh, they're really making me want to stay in the Catholic Church with this. And I'm not even a gay man. I can't imagine how this must feel for them, especially those who feel called to ministry. Now let me get this straight (no pun intended, sorry): The only gay men who can get into seminary now are the ones who are willing to lie about their sexual orientation. And this is somehow a step toward protecting children? How does that work? How does it help to screen out the healthy, honest candidates? The men who abuse children aren't the ones who accept themselves the way God made them. And though most abuse victims are boys, that doesn't mean most abusers are gay, as the article notes. Homosexuality and attraction to children are two different things, and it's often a question of access.

[Moreover,] this idea actually contradicts the Church's own position on the role of sexual orientation.

I think I'll go fantasize about being Episcopalian for a while..."

Weblogs: Microsoft - Same old, same old (with charts!)

Backup Brain: "No, they're not going to win the Web. And it's debatable whether or not they've won the server (Which server? If it's Web servers, they lost to Apache long ago. Enterprise servers? They have a better story there.) In my opinion, they used years of predatory actions to take the desktop, but they're in the process of losing it. We've said this before: next time you go to a tech conference, notice what the ubergeeks and influencers are using. Are they Windows laptops, or PowerBooks or Linux machines?"

(Microsoft is underperforming the market, Apple is supremely outperforming the market.)

Weblogs: How I know I'm not in Berkeley

(An Episcopal priest from Berkeley serves Katrina victims and discovers a culture shock of a different sort.)

Baby Priest: "I can't imagine that we would have sung this ["God Bless America"] in Berkeley either, because the song is so closely associated with a kind of religious patriotism that is frowned upon. But as I thought about this petition to God for a blessing, I began to wonder if it is more appropriate than we might think. After all, we are asking God for a blessing, and God's blessing upon America would not be to leave this country as it is. God's blessing would surely look more like the leveling that Mary asks for in the Magnificat, or what Elijah prophesied to Israel. God's blessing would be the humbling of the proud, and the lifting up of the lowly. Blessings are to ask for God to change what is, not to keep things as they are.

So there I was, not far at all from my old home, but in a culture that was not ashamed of civil religion or of publicly asking for a blessing from God. This would have been different in Berkeley. But, like I said, I am not in Berkeley anymore."