Wednesday, November 30, 2005

So I know this guy...

Yes, I know, a lot of confessions start out with "I have this friend...", but that's not what this is about. I really do know this guy. Not all that well, we've only met once, but have corresponded online for a few years now. We initially met in the chatrooms, and he seemed like a nice enough guy that, for a while, I was trying to decide if the three-hour drive that separated us was too big an impediment to dating. He's now in his first year at a seminary in Chicago studying to become a Catholic priest. So much for that fantasy.

The Vatican released a new document this week about the ordination of gay priests. (Matt also has some comments on it.) The document has apparently been in preparation for years, and came to light during the child molestation scandal. If you want, you can read the entire document here. This is the money quote (emphasis mine):

...the Church... may not admit to the seminary and Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.

The "practice homosexuality" bit I get. Sexually active gay men in the priesthood are verboten. Check. That makes (some sort of) sense. Sexually active straight men in the priesthood are also not allowed. Of course, you will never hear of the Vatican putting out a policy document saying that men who "practice heterosexuality" should not be ordained.

The second bit, the part about the "deeply-rooted homosexual tendencies" is the part that pretty much says gay people can't be priests anymore. Notice that they've left quite a lot of wiggle-room with the terms "deeply-rooted" and "tendencies." As in, "Oh, he's not really homosexual, he just has homosexual tendencies." That's very odd wording. It does fit with the Church's stance that gay people are really just broken straight people that have been contaminated with evil homosexual cooties. I wonder if we will start to see a Catholic increase in the rise of the loathsome "ex-gay" movement. That has pretty much been a fundamentalist, evangelical, Prostestant phenomenon until now.

The third part in the proscription above is just so unnecessary. The "so-called gay culture"? I'm not even sure what that means. Does this mean no shopping at Abercrombie and Fitch? No more Lifetime television? Is it five Hail Mary's for humming a showtune? Oh, you have to just love the snide "so-called" modifider on that phrase. Sure, no more tweaked-out circuit queens in the seminary, but something tells me they weren't exactly lining up in tonsures and hairshirts in the first place.

I was chatting with my proto-priest friend online this evening. From what he's described, it sounds like this instruction from on high is basically being ignored by the American clergy. J. is still openly (ex?) gay and still in the seminary. So it doesn't look like "deeply-rooted homosexual tendencies" are enough to stop you from becoming a priest.

The reason for this new document is obvious. Since the dawn of the Catholic Church's child-raping scandal, they have been trying to blame it on the presence of gays in the priesthood. The Church and it's officials don't seem to understand (or find it convenient to misunderstand) that pedophilia and homosexuality are as distinct as statutory rape and heterosexuality. By coming out with this new document the Church appears to be doing something about cleaning house with respect to its sexual problems, while not having to go to the trouble of actually doing anything. Since it appears (from my one data point) that seminaries are not necessarily doing anything different about accepting gay people, the Church gets to have it's gay priests and eat them, too.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Attack of the 50 foot twink

There's a fairly new billboard on Green St. that I have to go by on the way to work every morning. It's a huge black-and-white Abercrobie and Fitch ad, with some shirtless, twentysomething, heavily waxed, twinkie guy on it. It just occured to me that the ad doesn't actually have the advertised product in it anywhere.

So I guess this really means the only thing A&F sells is the label, not really the clothing.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


I recently had to revert some vandalism over at Wikipedia. Does anyone know how to make a contributors name or IP address linkable to their contributions in the edit summary? Like in this one. I've been playing around in the sandbox, and can't figure out how to do it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

A voice of reason

I'm listening to the C-SPAN stream I previously blogged about, and I'm listening to the interview and call-ins with Michael Chapman. Chapman is the descendant of Darwin, and wrote Trials of the Monkey, about when he visited Dayton, Ohio, where the Scopes Monkey Trial took place.

He said something in the interview that I thought was so well put, I'd share it.

If you had a sick child, and if you were in a room full of a hundred doctors, and ninety-nine of them said, "We diagnose this disease as X, and we think the best treatment for it would be Y." And one doctor said, "I think we should pray for this child." Which one would you go with?"

Then he mentioned the National Center for Science Education's Project Steve as a good way to measure the ninety-nine evolutionists vs. the one ID proponent.

Frankly, I think it's more like as if that one doctor said, "I've never seen any of these things called germs all these other doctors are talking about. They've never proved they cause sickness. This disease is clearly caused by the child's sin, and the Devil should be beaten out of the child and that will make him better."


Oh man, this interview ends on a great note. This guy's not a scientist, and he's not shy about saying so. He's a writer, and you have to feel bad for him because all of the caller's are talking about evolution, and not his book. But he's very well-spoken and quite insightful.

[Talking about the idea that evolution is a big fraud perpetrated by amoral atheist scientists.] In the history of science, you often see supernatural explanations for things that later are found to have a natural explanation. There will be probably things that remain a mystery, but it doesn't seem to be a logical way of looking at the teaching of science. To simply speculate about something that can't be proven.

And this part surprised and really cracked me up. A great way to end the program.

[About how ID is a uniquely American religious phenomenon.] In a way, the Church is capable of supplying more comfort to people in their lives than the theory of evolution does, but is that the function of knowledge, I don't know. I think it's also interesting to look at the failure of the American education system... And when you look at Darwin, and when you look at how he was educated, or not educated. He didn't actually go to college; he was sort of an educated and enlightened amateur. And then you have George Bush, who went through the education system, and actually graduated from Harvard. And here is a man who has had all of the advantages of the American education system, and has the views of a basically somewhat ignorant fundamentalist crowd. It's a bizarre thing to see how a man who has reached that level, with such an apparent lack of understanding of science.

Oh, I think I like this man.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I am the monkey king

Yesterday, I was sitting down to eat breakfast, and turned on C-SPAN as I occasionally do. This should tell you two things about me. One, I am such a television addict that I don't even eat breakfast without it on, and, two, I'm really a nerd.

The topic for the last hour or so of Washington Journal was Intellegent Design. The first guest was a reporter who talked a bit about ID in general and Kansas's recent decent back into the Middle Ages. The next guest was the scientific laughingstock Michael Behe, which is when I turned the set off in disgust. Watching the archive on the C-SPAN website (yes, really, I'm a nerd) there was a third guest, Matthew Chapman, a descendant of Charles Darwin who wrote Trials of the Monkey. There are, apparently, no actual scientists in Washington.

The best part of the show is the people who call in. It's a strange combination of laughing at all nutty people out there, and being frightened that, really, there all these nutty people out there. Today was no exception. One caller:

It's really frightening to see how far our country has fallen with this debate. There was a time in our country when the Bible was taught in schools... I'm thirty-five years old, and since I've graduated from high school, the public school system has become a war zone. And there's nothing wrong with teaching Intelligent Design. In fact, if anything I think maybe it's going to educate students and educate children to maybe look into the Bible, maybe look into some other form of religion and find a meaning. There's too many children out there, they don't know why they're here. If you've got something like evolution they just assume, "Well i guess I'm just evolving. So-and-so is bad, i guess since we evolved from monkeys we're just going to continue to go down that slippery slope."

That's at 1:52:40 in the stream, if you want to hear it.

One of the things that the big name ID proponents always say is that ID isn't a religion, since it doesn't say anything about the designer. On the other hand, in every case I've seen, when cornered about who the Designer is, the ID proponent always says something like, "Well, in my opinion, it was the God of the Scriptures." It's pretty clear that that "God of the Scriptures" line is code for "fundamentalist Christianity." Behe himself has said that the mysterious Intelligent Designer was God. So yet again, we see that ID is just fundamentalist Christianity wrapped up in sheep's clothing.

But what I found interesting about the above caller's rant was the fact that the problem with evolution isn't that it's wrong, but that believing in it will rob your life of "meaning." Yet again, we see that when these fundamentalists are confronted with an aspect of the material world, of reality, that contradicts their preferred interpretation of some aspect of the Bible, they actually disbelieve the reality, rather than their supernatural beliefs. That's why you can't have an intellectual debate on this topic with proponents of ID. Even if you present them with mountains of evidence supporting evolution, they won't believe it. And that's because mountains of evidence supporting evolution is exactly what we have.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

And it annoys the pig

Squire (1) is engaging an Intelligent Design apologist over at his blog. He says he's already received a response to his email, but only teases us with it. No details. The hints of biblical literalism he drops makes it pretty clear what the email contains, though.

I figure this sort of action is pretty much a waste of time. You can not do science if you go into something with your conclusion already decided on. Biblical literalist IDiods (heh, love that word) are so convinced of their interpretation of unquestionable scripture, that, when confronted with evidence that some part of reality contradicts it, they don't doubt the Bible, they doubt the reality. You just can't engage that level of zealotry on an intellectual level.

Science requires an open mind. It requires that you be willing to at least consider that you might be wrong, and question your preconceived notions. Radical notions require significant evidence, yes, but eventually they will be adopted if they are correct. ID is the antithesis of that.

(1) I assume that should be "Squire" and not "The Squire." The latter would just be too pretentious. Bordering on "The Artist" level of pretension. Which would have to be punished by being forced to repeatedly watch Doctor Who: The Movie. The atrocious FOX version.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Email woes

I owe some of you an email, and I know that. For some reason, Eudora is refusing to send outgoing messages. I can recieve fine, but not send. I'll switch to Thunderbird sometime when I get the chance and get caught up on my emails.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Touched by His noodly appendage

I was talking to David the other day, and was surprised he had never heard of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or the Pastafarians. What with all the press about Intelligent Design and Kansas's recent abandondonment of science, I was surprised anyone could not have heard about the FSM. So here's the link:

Note the scientific evidence linking global warming to the declining number of pirates roaming the seas. Arrrgh, matie.

I'm considering adding this button to the blog:

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Candy corn is my kryptonite

Jon mentioned earlier the groceries in C-U are expensive. I'm not sure I agree with that, although it seems to me Schnucks is pricey for little added benefit. Plus, milk and bread I buy there go bad unusually quickly, for some reason. I've always found Meijer to have fairly reasonable prices and both their selection and their stuff seems to be better than any of the smaller stores in town.

I went this weekend, though, and it seemed some stuff was a bit more expensive than I remembered. Or maybe the stuff I needed and hadn't stocked up on lately just wasn't on sale. They seem to be in the process of up-scaling. I assume that's to better differentiate themselves from Wal-Mart now right across the street. They're putting in a bakery, and there's a new deli counter. Unfortunately, it's a lot bigger and none of the people working behind the counter can see over it.

Halloween candy was on sale. I was bad.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


It looks like the CIA may have been holding people in secret prisons in Afghanistan and Eastern Europe. They're not admitting anything, but the Red Cross has had reports the US has been hiding detainees from it. Which is pretty creepy if you think about it: why would the US want to hide detainees from the organization whose primary mission is do determine they are not being mistreated? There's a bill in the Senate right now that would ban "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of US detainees. The White House wants an amendment that specifically exempts the CIA from that.

On a tangential note, Digby questions why we are hearing over and over about prisoners being raped by American interrogators. I would suggest it's because rape is probably an effective tool for degrading and humiliating someone before an interrogation, in other words, "softening them up."

What I find really dangerous is that there's this meme coming from the right wing that a terrorism suspsect has NO rights. None at all. Now, I really doubt we are doing the same things in these CIA prisons that Saddam did in his. But if we aren't willing to draw a line against torture, we might wind up being no better. There's always a stubborn suspect. Lines always get pushed. And before you know it, you've got some guy's finger in a pair of bolt cutters and you're screaming, "Where's the bomb, Akmed, you've only got six left!"

Coincidentally, the US submitted a report to the UN about our foreign detainees, although it only covered those in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Gitmo. It reads:

There is no question that under the law of armed conflict, the United States has the authority to detain persons who have engaged in unlawful belligerence until the cessation of hostilities...

Of course, there will never be a cessation of hostilities. That's the whole point of the Global War Against Violent Extremism. As long as someone, somewhere on the planet doesn't like someone else, there will be terrorism. Or the threat of a bomb. Or a dictator with an active WMD program. Or at least the desire to start a WMD program. And so on.

Oceana has always been at war with terrorism.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Back from NY. There are pictures, which I will put online somewhere once I bother to get them off the camera.

In the meantime, could someone plese explain to me why Ithaca, a community of 50,000 people, including 20,000 college students can support a frou-frou grocery store which is nearly as impressive as Central Market in San Antonio, but the best Champaign-Urbana can do is Schnucks and Meijer (and I'm not all that impressed by Schnucks). OK, I haven't looked extensively at Strawberry Fields, but it's tiny, and I think about half of it is taken up with the homopathic remedies, aromatherapy, and other snake oil. I mean, if I can get fourteen kinds of fresh mozarella in upstate NY at 3 am, how come I can't find something halfway as decent in C-U?