Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Facing down the screamers

The latest liberal attempt to blacklist pro-life conservatives failed last week. The Bush administration finally appointed W. David Hager, a University of Kentucky obstetrician-gynecologist, to the Food and Drug Administration's advisory committee for reproductive health drugs.

The cultural left in America is trying to silence those who do not get over seeing the real-life consequences of the sexual revolution. Gloria Feldt and her allies try to inflict damage on any social conservative who gets even minor attention and in that way drive a wedge between moderates and conservatives. It's excellent that in this relatively minor appointment the Bush administration stared down congressional and media liberals.
Intimate Poems by Pope John Paul to Be Published

An unprecedented book of poetry written by Pope John Paul, including the pontiff's thoughts about choosing his successor, will soon be published in his native Poland, the Catholic Information Agency said Monday.
The agency said the book's working title was "The Rome Triptych, the Meditations of John Paul II" and that it had been written over the last several months.

The pope, the author of several best-selling books about faith, has not published any poems since the start of his pontificate in 1978.

Doonesbury looks at school vouchers.

The Cato Institute will host a conference February 13, 2003 on School Choice and Special Ed, Extending Choice and Opportunity to Children With Disabilities, in Washington, D.C. 20001

This spring, the 108th Congress prepares to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. Since its passage in 1975, IDEA has been plagued with problems including an adversarial atmosphere, skyrocketing costs, unequal treatment of affluent and low-income children, an excessive focus on bureaucratic processes, and poor academic results. This year, special education experts are engaged in an energetic debate about the causes of and solutions to various problems in special education.

Can school choice for disabled children form part of a policy solution to the problems facing special ed? What kind of school choice would work best? Which problems might be solved through a policy emphasizing choice? How does Florida’s McKay Scholarship Program for disabled children work, and what are its results so far? What are the limitations of school choice as a policy solution?

This should be interesting.

Time to leave the victim labels behind
Armstrong Williams says:
"Black Americans have pushed into the mainstream. They stud the upper echelon of America's economic hierarchy. And this is not just true of entertainment or sports, two areas to which black achievement was traditionally confined. From politics to corporate finance to litigation to fashion, blacks succeed.

Yet, despite these obvious successes, there remains much talk about how blacks remain victims of a cruelly unjust past. Our most visible civil rights leaders, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, make a living telling poor blacks that they are trapped in a repressive white society that neuters their talents. Sharpton and Jackson are the dispensers of a warm drug, a surrender of the will to the feelings of victimization. Their rhetoric gives people the feeling that they are not to blame for the missed opportunities of their lives. (With at least one sad byproduct being that those black Americans who actually have the audacity to succeed in industry are marginalized as "sell outs.")

And while it is true that social hierarchies exist, it is self-limiting to regard race as inextricably bound to victim status. Yet that is precisely what many of our civil rights leaders accomplish when they demand that all blacks are victims of an unjust past."

Read the whole article. It's very thought provoking.

More Doonsbury
See Doonsbury for Dec 23-27 for comments on the Trent Lott Situation.

Maggie Gallagher says:
Archie Bunker syndrome

With a new year almost here, and a new majority leader in place, what have we learned about America and American politics in the last few weeks?

Hillary Clinton thinks she knows: "I mean, what (Lott) did was state publicly what many of them have stated privately over many years in the back roads and back streets of the South. I'm looking to see what kind of new leadership the Republican Party will have, not in terms of names and faces, but in terms of commitment to equal justice under the law."

Call it the Archie Bunker syndrome. Many people, right and left, would like to believe that their political opponents are not only misguided or wrong, but also evil and ugly. To many, Trent Lott's remarks were not an aberration, but a revelation. If you do not support a particular left-wing political agenda (critics presented everything from Lott's vote against protection for sexual orientation to his votes on tort reform as evidence of his bad faith on race), you are mean-spirited at best, and probably racist.

Expect to see this liberal nostalgia repeated endlessly every time a GOP political leader stands up for equal justice under the law and against racial preferences.

Monday, December 30, 2002

I had a great time with a bunch of my hubby's high school friends yesterday. It's fun to see how these once radicals have turned into moral, church-going parents now that we are all in our fifties. We spent the afternoon hiking across a Route 66 era bridge, then ate dinner at a nostalgic 1930's restraunt followed by playing the juke boxes at the oldest soda shop in town. It was groovy!

Sign the petition to oust Sen Patty Murray

People who live in Third World countries might have a better view of the United States if Americans followed Osama bin Laden's example of being "a good neighbor so people there have a different vision of us," said U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat.

She said bin Laden is popular in some parts of the world because he spent years building good will in poor nations by helping pay for schools, roads and day care facilities.

Vatican to Open Files From Start of Nazi Period

In 2000, Pope John Paul II asked for forgiveness for wrongs inflicted upon Jews by the Catholic Church

Starting in February, scholars will be offered access to files that document the Vatican's relationship to Germany in the early years of the Hitler regime.

The Vatican is planning to open its archives relating to interactions with Nazi Germany in the years leading up to World War II.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas.

Which is harder to believe? Jesus is truly, physically present in the Eucharist or that He came to us in the flesh in Bethlehem? For me it seems harder to believe He became flesh at all. The Eucharist is a continuation of His presence in the flesh that began with His birth. Jesus has not left us orphans. He is the bridegroom that has not abandoned His bride, the Church, but continues to give Himself to us. What incredible love He must have for us!
One Christmas tradition at our house is the Baby Jesus Cake. It's easy to make and our kids love it.
1 white cake mix
1 can white frosting
Pull apart red licorice
Food coloring
Yellow construction paper

Bake the cake in one round cake pan and a square cake pan. Cover a 20 inch by 14 inch board or cardboard with foil. Put the two layers side by side. The round layer will be the face of Jesus, while the square one will be the body. Spread the frosting on the body. Use the food coloring to tint the face. Use the Skittles for the eyes and the red licorice for the mouth. Tuck 2 inch wide strips of the yellow construction paper under the edge of the cake and shred it to make it look like hay.

This tradition started when I explained to our kids that Christmas is Jesus' birthday. They wanted to know where Jesus' birthday cake was.

Monday, December 23, 2002

Pastor here resigns after admitting abuse
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
12/22/2002 10:45 PM

Parishioners at Our Lady of Providence Roman Catholic Church in Crestwood were confronted with ugly news on the weekend before one of the most joyous holy days of the Christian calendar: Their pastor had resigned after admitting to sexual misconduct 24 years ago.

The Rev. Robert F. Johnston had come to the parish 6 1/2 years ago. Over the years, he worked hard to eliminate a big debt the parish had incurred and to rehabilitate the interior of the church. He worked hard for the parish school and for the elderly of the congregation.

But this weekend, parishioners learned that when he was at Sacred Heart parish in Valley Park, Johnston sexually abused a minor - a teenage boy.

Cybercast News Service reports:
The resignation of Senate Majority Leader-elect Trent Lott Friday was preceded by much speculation that, if Lott resigned the post, Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) would replace him. As that prediction moved one step closer to becoming a reality, Frist's pro-life credentials came under fire.
Frist has received a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee every year since 1997, the earliest year for which ratings are published on the group's website. But another, more aggressive pro-life group gives Frist a very different grade.

"Bill Frist is not pro-life," said Judie Brown, president and co-founder of American Life League. "He's made all kinds of strange statements," Brown said of Frist, "and is a shareholder in a huge for-profit hospital company that does abortions."

Friday, December 20, 2002

Christmas Reflections
I love this poem:
The Nativity
C.S. Lewis
Among the oxen (like an ox I'm slow)
I see a glory in the stable grow
Which, with the ox's dullness might at length
Give me an ox's strength.

Among the asses (stubborn I as they)
I see my Saviour where I looked for hay;
So may my beastlike folly learn at least
The patience of a beast.

Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed)
I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;
Oh that my baa-ing nature would win thence
Some woolly innocence.

from the book Poems

England - Where Christmas is illegal. Is the US next?

Oliver Cromwell's outlawing Christmas cheer

Oliver Cromwell took over the governing of England. A devout believer, Cromwell was a Puritan in all senses of the word. He wanted to purify the services and government of the Church, by making them much simpler.

As part of his attempt to purify the State of England, he introduced a law banning excesses at Christmas, including decorations, celebrations and extravagances. Christmas, said Cromwell was a time to celebrate the birth of Christ and nothing more.

The remarkable thing is that Cromwell's law has never been repealed.

I also found this:
Life in England under Oliver Cromwell

Cromwell banned Christmas as people would have known it then. By the C17th, Christmas had become a holiday of celebration and enjoyment - especially after the problems caused by the civil war. Cromwell wanted it returned to a religious celebration where people thought about the birth of Jesus rather than ate and drank too much. In London, soldiers were ordered to go round the streets and take, by force if necessary, food being cooked for a Christmas celebration. The smell of a goose being cooked could bring trouble. Traditional Christmas decorations like holly were banned.

My comment: In this country, the ACLU is our Oliver Cromwell. The ACLU sued to ban a nativity scene in my town's Civic Center, but lost because the display had other secular decorations. The difference is that the ACLU doesn't want to just ban Christmas celebrations; they want to make people think Christmas doesn't exist. Hopefully, Christianity's goose is not cooked.

New York City is a prime example.
The Catholic League and Thomas More Law Center have joined in a lawsuit against the City of New York Department of Education on its discriminatory policies against Christmas displays during the Christmas holiday season.
I wonder if this will qualify for a hate crime?
Episcopal Church employee is fatally stabbed

To her neighbors in south St. Louis County, Carol Bledsoe was a gentle friend, a grandmother who hosted an annual Easter egg hunt for her grandchildren.

To Christ Church Cathedral choirmaster William Partridge, she was a soul of genuine compassion who reached out to the men and women of the street "more than anybody I have ever seen."
Here's some good news for those of us that have "senior moments."
Bone marrow stem cells used to create brain cells

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Stem cells from a person's own bone marrow can be used to generate brain cells and other nervous system cells that, when put back into the body, may be a way to treat diseases like brain cancer or Alzheimer's, researchers said on Friday.

``Neural stem cells have a lot of characteristics that make them an attractive means of treating neurological disorders -- but they come from precarious sources,'' said Dr. John Yu, co-director of the brain tumor program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the study's senior author.

He was referring to the political and ethical issues surrounding the use of embryonic and fetal stem cells in medical research. Using renewable stem cells culled from bone marrow solves that dilemma -- as well as potential problems with tissue rejection and uncontrolled growth of stem cells cultivated in a lab dish, Yu said.

Mayans have European and Asian genes? I think this article is interesting in light of Mormon claims that the lost tribes of Egypt sailed to Central America. Shouldn't they have Middle Eastern genes?

Scientists use genetic markers to track ancestry

A team of scientists led by a Stanford University researcher has been able to determine the ancestral history of more than 1,000 people not by seeing their faces or asking their family histories, but by simply looking at their genes.

The findings, published today in the journal Science, suggests that though humans are remarkably alike, a few telltale genetic mutations say more about our ancestry than our eyes, skin or surnames.

These tiny genetic markers, once revealed, tell powerful stories about human migration and history. For instance, scientists discovered that the Uygur of northwestern China, a group with Caucasian features and an Islamic heritage, have genetic markers from the Middle East. Modern descendants of the Maya have genetic markers that reflect their mixed ancestry -- Europeans and Asian migrants who crossed over to the Americas.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Did you watch the special on the local PBS station about Islam? Once again, the media promotes anything but Christianity. If one did not know the less appealing aspects of Islam, the show would make one want to convert. The show presented Islam as a religion of love, morality and peace, not inconsistency, forced conversion, denegration of women, and intolerance for unbelievers.
One of the most puzzling parts was a cameo appearance of a Catholic deacon-to-be who was lauding Islam for its service to the poor. Isn't it funny how the show appeals to a Catholic to give Islam credibility?
I did get a sense that Islam was a big improvement over the pagan religion it replaced and it did incorporate some ideas from Judiasm/Christianity. Also, the show helped me see a side of America one does not see in this part of the Mid-West. It's the conversion by conquest part they left out that bothers me.
I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for a pro-Catholic show on PBS. There will more likely show a pro-Buddist, pro-Hindu, pro-atheist, or pro-Moonie special first. Ah, our tax dollars at work!

Cal Thomas says, "Last night, tax-funded PBS television broadcast a piece of propaganda that would be embarrassing to any network not already well accustomed to propaganda. It was a film funded by various Arab and Islamic groups called "Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet."
The Times reviewer writes, "Heartwarming depictions of a Muslim New York city firefighter, a hajib-wearing nurse in Dearborn, Michigan, and a black Muslim capitol hill staff member in Washington, packaged around glowing testimonials by clerics and academics, turn the Muhammad story into a lengthy infomercial for Islam."

Monday, December 16, 2002

According to the latest financial statements, the Archdiocese of St. Louis has paid out $2.59 million to settle abuse cases, including legal fees, over the last 10 years. The financial report covers the fiscal year that ended June 30.

I'm getting ready for Christmas. The tree is up, the lights are up, the new nativity scene is out, the cards are done, the cookies are baked, the shopping is almost done. I get turned off by the materialism of my three kids and the constant ads that encourage them to buy more stuff. I'm making them round up a sack of stuff to give away before they can open presents because there is no more room in the house for the new stuff. A friend of mine told me about a practice they have in their home -- since Jesus only received three gifts, the children can only receive three gifts. I wish I had thought of that! I know what my kids would say. "Let's see --- a new PC, an Xbox, and a new PlayStation -- that's three gifts, right Mom?"

There's nothing like Christmas traditions to make a working-outside-the-home Mom feel stressed and inadequate. I can't do all the stuff my Mom did when I was a kid even on a normal day, much less with the additional work of Christmas traditions. I have to cut a "few" corners. Translated, that means most of them. I've cut so many corners, I've got a circle by now.

How about spiritual preparations for Christmas? I've been reading the diary of St. Faustina. If you think Christmas traditions make me feel inadequate, you ought to read Faustina's diary. The level of faith and trust she had in God makes me feel like a heathen! Wow! Faustina is a must read for folks that want to be challenged to grow in faith.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

December 12, 2002, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Bishop-elect Hermann to be ordained Dec. 12

Family, friends and colleagues of Bishop-elect Robert J. Hermann next week will celebrate with him his consecration as an auxiliary bishop of the St. Louis Archdiocese.

Hermann is replacing Bishop Timothy Dolan, who is now in Milwaukee.

The Washington Times reports:

Diverse state laws and a Supreme Court ruling backing vouchers have complicated the faith-based policy debate, but religious welfare groups still have many ways to operate, according to a 50- state study.
Current law, the study said, holds that religious groups "may not be favored or disfavored" when compared with secular welfare groups that get funds, and their services "must be limited to secular activity."
But with a Supreme Court ruling this year that backed state-funded vouchers, U.S. law is likely to allow welfare vouchers to be spent at "pervasively" religious social services, especially for family problems or addictions.

Here is a story from the Boston Globe, which begins;

The Episcopal bishops of Massachusetts, in a rare public challenge to the Catholic Church, are warning that a steady stream of comments by Vatican officials critical of gays in the priesthood could lead to hate crimes in the United States.

Read the rest at:


Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Joke Day
Zebediah was in the fertilized egg business. He had several hundred young layers, called pullets, and eight or ten roosters, whose job was to fertilize the eggs. Zeb kept records, and any rooster that didn't perform well went into the soup pot and was replaced. That took an awful lot of Zeb's time, so, Zeb got a set of tiny bells and attached them to his roosters. Each bell had a different tone so that Zeb could tell, from a distance, which rooster was performing. Now he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report simply by listening to the bells.

Zeb's favorite rooster was old Brewster. A very fine specimen he was, too. But on this particular morning, Zeb noticed that Brewster's bell had not rung at all!! Zeb went to investigate. The other roosters were chasing pullets, bells a-ringing! The pullets, hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover. BUT, to Zeb's amazement, Brewster had his bell in his beak, so it couldn't ring. He'd sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one. Zeb was so proud of Brewster that he entered him in the county fair. Brewster was an overnight sensation!

The judges were impressed with Brewster, indeed. They not only awarded him the No Bell Prize, but also the Pulletsurprise.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

John Leo at Townhall.com
These are the marriage-hating ideas of the most radical counterculturalists, circa 1969, now surfacing on the agenda of U.S. and Canadian legal elites. At a time when efforts to bolster marriage are gaining some traction, the elites are telling us that marriage is defunct and almost any kind of short-term, self-serving relationship will do. Can these people be taken seriously?

St. Louis Post-Dispatch letter to the editor, 12/8/02:
Letter: Questionable ethics in herpes vaccine trial

The herpes vaccine trial for which St. Louis University (a Jesuit institution) gets $37 million is a perfect model of experimental design. Both experimental and control groups engage repeatedly in the dangerous behavior that results in a serious infection.
The experimental group is treated with a vaccine known to protect against the infection. The control group is given an ineffective vaccine. The study determines which group will get higher rates of the incurable infection, which not only affects the subjects but can result in brain damage or death to their offspring.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Maggie Gallagher in Abortion and the new generation comments on uberliberal George McGovern.

"Here lies bared the unexamined heart of small-l liberalism: the idea of Progress (with a very big P). The liberal faith is that history, shorn of God, is nonetheless marching irrevocably in liberalism's direction. In the minds of McGovern and his ilk, liberalism equals rationality. Therefore, while the weight of tradition, taboo and religiously inspired sentiments may slow down Progress, in the end, reason (read: liberal morals and mores) will triumph. We have seen the future and it is them. Or so they imagine.
The clearest rebuttal of the idea that the future belongs to liberalism is the abortion issue. The liberal myth of Progress assumes that, as the older generation, steeped in mystifying ancient religious taboos, gradually dies off, a new pro-abortion consensus would emerge as pols realized there was no profit in pro-life principles.

Instead, something remarkable and unheralded has happened. Not only is the country in general becoming more conservative in its attitudes toward abortion, but two new polls find that young people are significantly more anti-abortion than their parents' generation are."

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Here's a fun download for a snowy day: Fractal Snowflake Generator v1.2 [478k] W9x/2k/XP FREE

Fractal Snowflake Generator is a simple utility to easily create beautiful fractal snowflakes, patterns, and backgrounds. The resulting images can be saved at the desired resolution to 24-bit Windows bitmap (.BMP) files. I made a desktop background with this.
Religion linked to positive outlook in teenagers

Teenagers who attend worship and rate religion as important have positive self-images, are optimistic and enjoy school, a study released yesterday said.

The survey of thousands of 12th-grade students found that optimism and confidence correlate with exposure to religion as much as with success, race, wealth or "self-esteem" education in public schools.
"The more religious the kids are, based on its importance to them or their attending worship, the greater their positive outlook on life," said sociologist Chris Smith of the University of North Carolina, where the National Study of Youth and Religion is being conducted.
"They have more self-esteem and confidence," he said. "The more religious they are, the less they hate school."

To all the high school teachers who preach about the bad effects of negative self-esteem, how about allowing a little prayer in the classroom?

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

"Abortions are declining because the public knows more about the details of abortion, said Laura Echevarria of the National Right to Life Committee.
This, in turn, is causing Americans, especially young ones, to become much more conservative in their views on abortion, she said.
A case in point, she added, is the Zogby International poll of 1,800 persons conducted last month for the Buffalo (N.Y.) News. The poll found that 32 percent of people had changed their opinions on abortion, with 21 percent becoming "more negative" on abortion, the newspaper said.
In 1998, the most recent year for data, nine women died as a result of complications from legally induced abortions."

I guess it is true that pro-lifers will ultimatly win by changing hearts, not the political climate. Yet efforts on both fronts are necessary.