Blog of Obscurity

A Very Munchkinly Blog

Friday, April 29, 2005

LA Times: Link between Trek, Pedophilia

Wizbang reports a LA Times article that says, in part:

On one wall is a "Star Trek" poster with investigators' faces substituted for the Starship Enterprise crew. But even that alludes to a dark fact of their work: All but one of the offenders they have arrested in the last four years was a hard-core Trekkie.

Well, I guess they need to send in the FBI to our place, then. We're sitting here watching a TOS episode as a lead-in to tonight's Enterprise.

Fortunately, it's Mirror, Mirror and not And the Children Shall Lead.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

So a man can stand up

I recently read Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. I can't imagine how I've missed this book all my life, and I can't recommend it highly enough. It should be required reading for every American child; and that would be no hardship because it's a delightful story with well-formed characters that are easy to like, and feel for.

It takes place at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, and I want to share the passage that impressed me the most deeply. The scene is a secret meeting of the Boston Sons of Liberty, with Sam Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, John Adams, Joseph Warren and James Otis in attendance (as well as the fictional characters Johnny Tremain and his friend, Rab). Otis has barged in to the meeting late, and has just overheard Sam Adams making the statement that the men would fight.

"For what will we fight?"

"To free Boston from these infernal redcoats and ..."

"No," said Otis. "... That's not enough reason for going into a war. Did any occupied city ever have better treatment than we've had from the British? Has one rebellious newspaper been stopped - one treasonable speech? Where are the firing squads, the jails jammed with political prisoners? What about the gallows for you, Sam Adams, and you, John Hancock? It has never been set up. I hate those infernal British troops spread all over my town as much as you do. Can't move these days without stepping on a soldier. But we are not going off into a civil war merely to get them out of Boston. Why are we going to fight? Why, why?"

There was an embarrassed silence. Sam Adams was the acknowledged ringleader. It was for him to speak now.

"We will fight for the rights of Americans. England cannot take our money away by taxes."

"No, no. For something more important than the pocketbooks of our American citizens."

Rab said, "For the rights of Englishmen - everywhere."

"Why stop with Englishmen?" Otis was warming up. ... "... For men and women and children all over the world," he said. "You were right, you tall, dark boy, for even as we shoot down the British soldiers we are fighting for rights such as they will be enjoying a hundred years from now.

"...There shall be no more tyranny. A handful of men cannot seize power over thousands. A man shall choose who it is shall rule over him.

"...The peasants of France, the serfs of Russia. Hardly more than animals now. But because we fight, they shall see freedom like a new sun rising in the west. Those natural rights God has given to every man, no matter how humble ..."

"...The battle we win over the worst in England shall benefit the best in England. How well are they over there represented when it comes to taxes? Not very well. It will be better for them when we have won this war.

"Will French peasants go on forever pulling off their caps and saying 'Oui, Monsieur,' when the gold coaches run down their children? They will not. Italy. And all those German states. Are they nothing but soldiers? Will no one show them the rights of good citizens? So we hold up our torch - and do not forget it was lighted upon the fires of England - and we will set it as a new sun to lighten a world ..."

"It is all so much simpler than you think," he said. He lifted his hands and pushed against the rafters.

"We will give all we have, lives, property, safety, skills ... we fight, we die, for a simple thing. Only that a man can stand up."

My Personal Opinion

I've finally calmed down enough to write about my fears concerning Pope Benedict XVI. When the Cardinal announced the new pope was Joseph, I just yelled, NOOOOOO! I knew it was Ratzinger. We are so headed down the wrong path. My question is who in their right frame of mind would elect Ratzinger?

I knew it would be him about 3 years ago. The Pope got really ill and the Italian press started asking Ratzinger if he was going to be our next pope. He strongly dismissed any questions, stating that he would never want to be pope. The statement of "I will not be in line for Pope" made me so happy. It has been, in my opinion, Ratzinger and not JPII who was running things over the last few years. All of the announcements and letters concerning more stringent holds on the Church to stop women/girls from participating, only latin is said at Mass, especially during the Consecration, priests should face the crucifix and not the assembly.... I was devastated when I was in Nawlins last July, to find out from my aunt that she was perplexed at the change she was seeing in her Church. The Mass had reverted totally to Vatican I standards, girls were not altar servers or lectors or Eucharistic Ministers. Latin was the language of the whole Mass and the priest had his back to the assembly. Here is the kicker; the seminary Notre Dame on Clairborne Ave teaches only Vatican I to their seminarians, they are graduating, with the blessing of the Bishop with the urge to go forward and hold Masses and stress from the Roman Missal of Vatican I all the old ways of worship. Be so scared. All of the progress we have made since Vatican II: I bet Paul VI and John XXIII were pleased with what little leaps we had made - and now it's about to go away and the Middle Ages of worship are back. Lastly, and just as saddly, Loyola has hired a teacher who subscribes to this. Horrific! This is not the Jesuit way I thinking I wanted.

I guess he proved the old adage, "The one who screams the loudest, screams a lie." Now I'm hearing about how close of a friend he was to JPII and how people I've read about can't wait for Ratzinger to lead us backwards into Vatican I. My final reaction was to announce to the house my intention to say a novena, 1 rosary daily, for the positive, forward path to be taken by Ratzinger. Please pray for this about face in his thinking. Any way I've probably said to much.

I still shake my head and can't look at his picture as Pope! God be with us!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Oooo, A calling out!

Not being Catholic, my opinion of the new Pope is mostly "how will my wife deal with it?". I've already heard a soapbox or two :) Having said that, I do have a few "interested bystander" opinions.

Pope Benedict XVI has been a highly conservative, highly traditional member of the clergy. He speaks out against moral relativism as putting your own views as the highest moral authority - a point I certainly appreciate. Right now, I think moral relativism is a much more problematic aspect of our society than moral certitude.

He's been criticized for his views on gay rights and birth control - especially in AIDS-stricken countries. I don't think it's wrong for the Church to hold up the value of human reproduction, though. For example, my understanding is that the only reason the US is growing in population is because of immigrants. Our existing population has a birth rate below the sustainability rate.

The other issues that get criticism are involving priests: marriage and women priests. The US Catholic Church is growing, but the preists are getting fewer. My hunch is that the Church will likely allow married priests before it allows female priests. Personally, I don't see that either is a crucial moral stance, so I would like to think they would examine it.

I'm really curious to see how Benedict will deal with actually being in charge. It's one thing to advise, but not have the responsibility. Now, he has that, too. From a truly practical standpoint, they can't let the dollars in the US leave. Well, I suppose they could, but most churches aren't willing to tick off the big money. So, the US church may cause a few changes to be made.

It will be interesting to watch.

How 'bout that Pope?

I'm hoping Cute Shoulder Dragon will post to tell us what she thinks about the new Pope. OtherBlogger? How about you?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Babylon 5 Auction

Joe Straczynski is having a "garage sale" of some rare Babylon 5 Props.

Personally, I think the Londo and G'Kar props would be fun, but not $2000 worth of fun :)

You never know what you'll find at the dump.

Amazing! Scientists have found the key to reading a vast collection of ancient Greek and Roman writings. The writings themselves were found in an ancient dump in Egypt. It is estimated that this could lead to a 20 percent increase in the amount of Greek and Roman works in existence.

That sound you hear is the collective drooling of classicists everywhere. And me.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Hidden Side of the OKC Bombing

The Chicago Tribune has an interesting article on the seldom seen side of the Oklahoma City Bombing - and the differences in how the government dealt with the two sets of victims:

Theirs are not the stories most likely to be heard this week as the nation momentarily returns its attention to this heartland city in solemn commemoration of the bombing. Instead, the ceremonies at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, titled a National Week of Hope, will focus on "stories of life moving forward."


"I completely agree with the victims in Oklahoma City, or the USS Cole, or the Kenya bombing: `Why not us?'" Feinberg said. "If you're looking at the victims, I don't know why not you. If you're looking at the impact of the tragedy on the American psyche, I think 9/11 stands in a very unique category with Pearl Harbor, the American Civil War and the assassination of President Kennedy."

I've been to the memorial in Oklahoma City twice. The museum - which was closed the first time I went - is an amazing walk-through. There is everything from the day's new coverage, to stories of the victims themselves. We spent about 1-2 hours going through it, and I don't think I really got to absorb more than 25% of it.

I wish there was an easy answer on the whole compensation thing. When you look at percentage of population in both metro areas at the time, the OKC bombing was almost as devastating as the September 11th attacks. From a global economic standpoint, though, 9/11 was much larger.

I sometimes have wondered, though, if the Oklahoma City bombing had been done by Islamic terrorists as was initially thought, would the US government have done more? Or did we try to sweep it under the carpet because we had no Afghanistan to invade and no terrorist organization to fight?

Media Telegraphs Strike

Jason Van Steenwyk points out an article from (you guessed it) Reuters that telegraphs a military strike in advance of the actual event.

I know its seen as petty to pull press credentials and try to remove reporters from combat zones, but when American lives are at stake I really don't care. Reuters needs to be kicked out of Iraq.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Bob Dole: One Soldier's Story

I heard Senator Dole recount this story Sunday on Meet the Press. It's about a soldier who returned injured from Iraq:

Craig had been badly wounded while on patrol in Iraq a week or so before Christmas. He suffered severe damage to his C-1 vertebra and was paralyzed from his neck down. Now lying in an intensive care unit at Walter Reed, he couldn't move a muscle. He was hooked up to all sorts of medical machines, with various tubes running to his body, an electrocardiogram monitoring his heart, a respirator helping him to breathe, and a tracheotomy in his throat.

Nevertheless, the young man's eyes brightened as I stepped up to his bedside. His mother introduced us: "Craig, this is Bob Dole." Craig's sister joined us around the bed. Craig couldn't speak, but he could hear me and seemed to respond with his eyes.

Looking at Craig, I felt a wave of emotion sweep over me, nearly overwhelming me. It was like seeing a mirror image of myself sixty years earlier. He was tall and muscular, about six feet, one and a half inches, and about 185 pounds, almost identical to my World War II height and weight. For a moment I was back there, in a similar hospital bed, encased in plaster, unable to move, paralyzed from the neck down.

I just stood there at Craig's bedside. I could feel my heart thumping loudly in my chest, my emotions rushing to the surface. I knew the tough road Craig had before him — and his condition was far worse than mine had been.

I reached out my hand — my left hand — touched the soldier's arm, and said, "Good luck, Craig. You're in a great hospital. They'll take good care of you." We stayed only about five minutes.

I looked the young man in the eyes one more time, then turned to his mother, put my arm around her shoulder, and said, "We'll pray for Craig's recovery. Please let me know if I can help."

Unfortunately, a few days later Craig Nelson, another American hero, passed away. I grieved for that family and became more determined that this book would do something to help others understand their pain — and the trauma that so many others have endured because of war.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Google Satellite Maps

Earlier tonight I was talking to an old friend from high school on the phone and I found this article on MSNBC that Google is now adding satellite maps to its mapping site. So, while I was chatting, I pulled up his address and started describing his neighborhood to him.

"Hey you've got a nice lake out in front of your house!"

It's fun to keep people on their toes :)

Monday, April 04, 2005

Flag Protocol for the Pope

Mark has a post answering the question: Why are US flags flying at half-staff for the Pope?

In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff.

As much respect as I have for the Pope, I was still wondering.

Super Munchkin

I realized we haven't done any Munchkin blogging since we started this blog. Well, followers of the game have already heard about the next game of the series: Super Munchkin.

After the recent release of The Incredibles, I can come up with a few potential cards:

    Monologue: Escape from the super-villain (with his gadgets) by getting him to talk about his evil plans.

    Cape of Flight: Roll a die: On a 1-5, get a +3 flight bonus. On a 6, you trip over the cape and get a -3.

    Lawsuit: Your combat results in a civilian being injured. You turn in all your gadgets in compensation.

Any other good ones?

Criticism of the Pope

The Other Blogger mentioned some of the criticism of the Pope that he had heard. I suppose the oddest criticism that I have been hearing was about the Pope's opposition to "liberation theology".

For those who don't remember, "liberation theology" was a kind of messianic Marxism, using Catholic language to make Marxism seem like it would bring "social justice". Given that this was being used to sell the idea in Central America during the 1980's, a time when Marxist revolutionaries were taking over - or trying to - throughout the region, the use of Catholic language was certainly a good marketing idea. But the Pope stepped in, noting that Marxism leads to effective slavery, brutality, and the lack of any kind of justice; the Pope also banned priests from taking holding political office, at least in part to make sure that the misguided Central American priests did not tear apart the countries of Central America by making their wars religious in nature.

The reason that criticizing the Pope for his opposition to this thinly-masked Marxism is odd is that the Pope was right: Marxism has not, in any place or time it has been tried, resulted in social justice. It has frequently resulted in a fairly even spread of wealth and position in society - except, of course, for high Party members - but that has been an equality of poverty and brutality, not wealth and comfort. Besides, this was one of the three people most key to ending Communism as a large-scale movement (along with Reagan and Thatcher), so it's not like anyone should have expected the Pope to embrace Marxism in the form of "liberation theology".

Another thing that interests me about the criticisms of the Pope is that all of them that I have heard boil down to one thing: the Pope defended Catholic doctrine in relation to matter X, where that doctrine was at odds with the doctrine of the Left. This is true not only of the Pope's opposition to Marxism, but also to his stands on birth control (frequently recast to involve AIDS in Africa) and the ordination of women. Where the Pope went along with the Left's doctrine - opposition to right-wing dictators, opposition to the Iraq war, or the promotion of democratic reform in S. Africa - there don't seem to be any critics.

He Was Great, But.....

Watching/reading the coverage of Pope John Paul II's death this weekend has been interesting. One thing that definitely stood out, though, is the "He was great, but..." spin that's out there. Captain's Quarters found an incomplete version of a NY Times piece here with the phrase "need some quote from supporter" amidst the already written criticisms.

This morning the ABC hourly news talked about how much he expanded the Catholic Church, but followed it up immediately with the counter about how he was very conservative on women's issues, condoms, etc.

Now, on MSNBC you have the headline: "How John Paul’s Bold Stances Divided America".

This has been going on for a while. Reagan's death saw much the same thing. It seems we can no longer celebrate someone's accomplishments in life - we have to bring up the sticky points, too.

I guess whoever does my eulogy will say something like: "He was a great husband and father, but he spent too much time indoors with gadgets."

Friday, April 01, 2005

Real Death, No Politics

I do not like Eleanor Clift's politics, but this tribute she wrote about her just-departed husband is worth reading. With the world focused on Terri Schiavo and now the Pope and all of the political implications in the US and the Vatican, this is a bittersweet reminder about what most families really have to deal with:

One morning when I was lining up the array of controlled substances to give him for pain, I remarked to the hospice caregiver that I figured I should just give him everything that’s available. “Yes, please,” he said loud and clear. On a Sunday morning in March as his condition worsened and the morphine dose was doubled, he asked me clearly, “What do you want to do this summer?” I said, “Take a trip with you,” and then I went into the kitchen to fix his cream of rice cereal, and fight back tears.

Chewbacca Defense

Hah. I've never watched much Southpark, so I never knew about the Chewbacca Defense.

That sounds about right.