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Ash Wednesday

Categories: Blatant Romanism
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Published on: February 18, 2015

Today is Ash Wednesday, which means we get to hear a reading from Matthew chapter 6 that warns about outward expressions of piety. I know that the reason why it is read today is that the chapter gives advice on fasting, which is important to hear before Lent. Still, I find it ironic that it gets read just moments before a priest marks your forehead so everyone knows that you’ve been to church.

Years ago, I wrote something similar and got a reply from a Lutheran (unsure of the synod, but by his tone, unlikely ELCA) who decided it was a good opportunity to school a Catholic on what the ashes really mean. I would have appreciated the dialogue, but the smugness bothered me and showed that he really didn’t get what I was writing about.

When I worked at Tork’s, my Muslim boss gave me a break to run off and get ashes. Scratch that, he insisted on it. I’ve had a lot of bosses who claim all sorts of flavors of Christianity, but the first one I had that gave me room to get ashes was a very devout Muslim.

I take this seriously enough that I know the ashes are not a crass marketing gimmick, but if it were, it would seem to work well. Priests have told me that attendance at masses on Ash Wednesday is only outdone by Easter and Christmas Eve. The funny part about it is that it is not a day of obligation.

Since it isn’t a day of obligation, many churches offer, for lack of a better word, “quickie” ashes. Our local Episcopal diocese is offering “Ashes To Go” at Ronstadt Center and Starbucks.

I am not a member of St. Pius X, but I make a point of heading over there to get ashes because it is only a few blocks from work. They have a “to go” offered in the parking lot, but you are obliged to write a sin or intention on a piece of paper and put it in a fire they have going.

Usually, it is a lay minister that gives the ashes. This time, I got them from Fr. Harry Ledwith. Ledwith gave a rosary at the service for Ruben Nuñez years ago that still sticks with me. He gave ashes to a group of four of us. He knew the other three but did not know me.

He made a point of asking my name. I anticipated him asking why he never sees me at mass, so I told him that I go to the Benedictine Monastery, but his church was near my work. He saw a woman approaching with a cane and said, “I am going to need to go to her.”

I saw he was busy so I walked back to the car.

“I hope we see more of you Ted,” he said as I opened my door.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Self Reflection

Categories: Rumination
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Published on: February 17, 2015

I was waiting to exit a parking lot, and a kid, probably 18 or 19, crosses in front of me. He had black boots, tight worn out jeans and a denim jacket with a half dozen patches for punk bands. Oh, and a big cloth emblem safety pinned on the back. One must have that. I didn’t recognize what group that was for.

He also had a mohawk. Looking at the whole ensemble, my first thought was, “Dude, 1982 happened. Get over it.”

Moments later, a Clash song came on the radio. I turned it up.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Kanye and Such

Categories: Not So Local Music
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Published on: February 11, 2015

I was sort of hoping that this whole Kanye West/Beck/Beyonce thing would have blown over by now. The Twitter and Facebook conversations on the matter has once again made me think that this whole Western Civilization thing is a failed experiment.

The worshipful defenses of Beyonce made me wonder if there may actually be a Beygency trying to ferret out those that aren’t properly paying tribute. The worst of it smacked of the trash talking Justin Bieber fans threw at Esperanza Spalding when she beat him for Best New Artist in 2011.

Oh, but don’t think Beck’s defenders are off the hook. I saw a bit of white-boy-rockerism in the defense that Beck is the true craftsman, unmotivated by commercial considerations, where Beyonce is a pre-fab construction of a team of A&R men. Give me a break. Beck isn’t exactly eating cat food, and Beyonce has made it pretty obvious that her artistic decisions are her own.

Also, I wonder how many of the people who jumped to Beck’s defense were even aware he had an album out last year, or if this was just a handy way to complain about Kanye West (an easy target) and Beyonce.

So, if you add this together with his previous silliness with Taylor Swift, I gotta ask, does Kanye West think that Beyonce deserves every award? I half expect him to show up at the next Tammies. “Yo, Gabe Sullivan, I gonna let you finish…”

Built into both of the Beck and Swift rants is his notion that the two were undeserving of an honor. He wants Beyonce to be respected, but apparently doesn’t think that anyone else should be. When he says that Beck won as opposed to a “true artist,” he’s basically saying Beck isn’t an artist.

By the way, it seems like West’s friend John Legend agrees with me. Smart man. He’ll go places.

Secondly, why the heck does West think Beyonce needs him to defend her? Even if he has some sort of patriarchal notion about the world, has he noticed that her own husband doesn’t pull these sorts of stunts on her behalf? I bet it’s because Jay Z knows that Beyonce can stick up for herself when she needs to. Maybe West ought to get the hint.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

My first Infographic post

Categories: Astronomy
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Published on: December 21, 2014

Sizes of the Universe
Source: Number Sleuth

Being Contrarian

Categories: Not So Local Music
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Published on: December 18, 2014

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an oxymoron. If you want your work to be recognized in a museum, learn to paint.” – Rule #29 of the 33 1/3 rules of Rock and Roll

I haven’t started a post with an epigram in quite a while. What sort of discussion deserves that kind of over done pretension? The latest inductee class in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, of course.

I’ve got a thousand thoughts, but I’ll keep this short. People my age feel aggrieved because Green Day will be in this year over the Smiths. I think the real reason is that it means older Gen Xers have to admit that a band that came up a bit after their time has now been around long enough to be considered for the Hall.

Were the Smiths more deserving? Probably. It is also pretty ridiculous that Green Day gets a nod before the bands that they ape get consideration. Buzzcocks, anyone? It is a similar problem that I had with Rush getting in before Yes.

It does say Hall of Fame, not Hall of Influence or Hall of Originality. Just Fame…Green Day has that.

Here’s what I like about Green Day getting in, though. It likely means we are done with the Hall being just a way for Baby Boomers to make a list of bands they could be nostalgic about. The Woodstock Generation managed to make one last gasp of their brand of Rock and Roll by putting in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band this year. The fact that they had to reach that far down in the hierarchy is a good sign that the days of what is “real rock” being determined by the tastes of what college kids forty years ago liked is over.

I count that as a plus.

By the way, Bill Withers is finally being inducted this year. It goes to show how much influence the white boy rockerism of Jann Wenner has had over past inductees.

A whole litany of snubs, including the aforementioned Buzzcocks and Yes, can be found at Not in Hall of Fame’s rock list. They’ve got NWA and Link Wray on there too. What’s with them not getting recognized?

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Mexican, Shmexican…

Categories: Random Miscelany
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Published on: December 10, 2014

I love cybersquatters. Here is an e-mail I got yesterday:

Hello, I noticed that you own polishmexican.net, which is very similar to a domain I am running an auction for, shmexican.com. The auction for shmexican.com kicks off at $89!

If you have any interest in acquiring shmexican.com, please let me know immediately. This auction will only run for a limited time before being given to the top bidder. At that time, the chance will be lost.

If this is something you would like to participate in you may enter your offer in two ways:

Just respond to this email with your contact information and bid amount and someone from my team will get back to you right away.
Click here to enter your offer directly into the auction website

If you are not interested in this domain or wish to not receive any future notifications, please opt out of the sending of any other notifications at the bottom of this email and I apologize for the inconvenience.

Kind Regards,

Paul

Baby Names

Categories: Snarky Complaints
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Published on: December 4, 2014

The Washington Post published their list of the most popular names for newborns this week. Sophia and Jackson topped 2014’s top names.

I take it Jackson is not particularly popular among Native Americans.

While it doesn’t grate on me the way other lexicographical abuses do, they did something I don’t like: they referred to the list as “baby names.”

I run across lists of “baby names” on the internet all the time, often as obvious click bait. My trouble with the use of the term is the implication that this name is for an infant only, not one that will eventually grow up and be stuck with whatever someone thought would be cute for the little bundle of joy.

Something to think about to: that kid with the cute “baby name” like Shimmer or Sun-Willow will attend junior high at some point.

Remember that trend of calling girls Nevaeh? Did we ever settle on a pronunciation? Kinda makes my point, right? Glad that’s over.

Do zobaczenia. Hasta la proxima.

Two Words When One Is Better

Categories: Snarky Complaints
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Published on: November 16, 2014

A story on Morning Edition had a small detail that made me cringe. It was about Google’s attempt to raise money to fight Ebola. More power to them.

What got me was when the Google spokesperson said that the company hoped to make a “differential impact.” Not a “difference” or an “impact,” but a “differential impact.”

I’m sure there is a name for this. There are times when someone has to use a fancy word or term to be more precise or to convey some connotation, but “differential impact” just comes off as a pretension. Yes, I’m a bit of a jackass about such things, but it left me saying “get over yourself” rather than thinking about how good it is that her organization is trying to make a difference, I mean “differential impact.”

There are two others that get me.

One is saying “price point” when one really means “price.” In economics, price point means something specific. Basically, it is how much you can charge without affecting demand. Nowadays, it seems to be used when someone just wants to say how much a product costs. These are not the same, and “price point” just means you are trying to sound smarter.

Another, and this has bugged me for a while, is the use of “epicenter” when a speaker really means “center.” This is a term used for earthquakes, and its misuse likely comes from a misunderstanding of geology. A spot is referred to as an epicenter because it is actually not where the earthquake occurred, but on the surface above the spot where it happened. Yes, it’s a center, but not really. In any case adding “epi” to the word “center” has more to do with trying to use a lofty term of art than actually conveying any meaning.

Now that I’ve insulted all of you, my work is done.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

St. Chad

Categories: Blatant Romanism
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Published on: November 13, 2014

This is my second political-esque post on here in a row. I am not making this into a political blog.

Note to Chad Campbell: despite the title, this is not about you.

Given the current recount in our congressional election here, it made me wonder, is there a patron saint of such things?

The answer is yes and no. Spolier alert: I lean towards yes.

St_Chad_Church_(5)_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1592962After the 2000 presidential election, a writer for the Baltimore Sun noted that there was a Saint Chad in seventh century Britain. Given that the disputes in that election centered on dangling chads, hanging chads and pregnant chads, it only made sense to declare that this particular Chad was the go to saint.

What also helped was that St. Chad’s holding the office of Bishop of the Mercians and Lindsey People was disputed. He was removed from office after his predecessor, St. Wilfrid, reclaimed his position after being away so long that people thought he had died in a plague.

St. Chad’s manner was to walk everywhere rather than ride a horse, which is why he is sometimes called St. Chad the Pedestrian. This humble style caused a bit of controversy among his fellow church leaders, which goes to show that some things don’t change.

So, is St. Chad as patron of disputed elections official? No.

Snopes has an entry “debunking” the claim and it’s something addressed in other places too (including this nice post about St. Chad’s life).

The trouble is that relying only on the “official” line on St. Chad or any saint fails to recognize that much of the veneration of the saints is populist. Even the process of canonization acknowledges this: popular veneration comes before the church officially recognizes, not declares, sainthood.

Take Father Kino, for example. He is likely a generation, at least, from canonization. Still, he is venerated in parts of northern Mexico and his remains in Magdalena are a shrine. This is despite official recognition. In fact, his eventual canonization would be impossible without his current veneration.

It’s one of the few places where the church has historically followed the lead of the laity.

The same applies to patronages. The church saying that one saint or another is the one to pray for the intercession of in one situation or another means nothing unless people feel that there is a connection, which is why the church grants a patronage recognition. By the same token, if a worshipper invokes the name of a saint in an “unrecognized” situation, do we really think that the saint says “not my department” like a bureaucrat?

Connections to a patronage can be made for all sorts of reasons. I think of the case of St. Fiacre. St. Fiacre was a seventh century Irish holy man (I’m unclear if he actually was a priest, monk or took any orders at all) who built a hospice in what is now France. Because of his popularity in France, things were named for him, including a hotel in Paris. The St. Fiacre Hotel rented carriages, which were eventually called “fiacres.” For that reason, Fiacre is the patron saint of taxi drivers.

It’s a connection made by the people and not the official church, but still valid and who is to say it won’t be officially recognized one day?

So, Ron and Martha, go ahead and invoke St. Chad. The church may agree with you someday.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

The Dubious Honor of Being Someone’s Hobby

Categories: Rumination
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Published on: November 7, 2014

I spouted off on that darned Rum, Romanism and Rebellion blog for nearly eight years. The thing that was most shocking was despite everything, I actually earned the respect of a couple of Republican readers.

Weird, eh?

200px-D&DTrollsI also had my share of…um…special commentators. For some reason, I only earned one comment from notorious anonymous poster and soon to be ex-elected official John Huppenthal. There was one local jackass who posted a threat to a city judge, a son of a state official who didn’t quite get that I was not my brother and a guy who has been engaged in low level stalking of a friend of mine off and on for about seven years. Even with all that, I only banned one guy from commenting.

I’ll leave his name out of it.

Internet comment sections are notorious for how quickly they descend into ridiculousness. Changing the way comments worked on my blog back in the Blogspot days was so controversial that I actually got a mention in the Tucson Citizen. If I had it to do over again, I’d ditch the comment section entirely.

That said, I did okay. No rape threats (probably because I have no uterus) and for the most part even the Republicans that posted just wanted to make their point and move on. This guy, the one I banned, would comment just to throw his feces around. I wanted to ignore it, but my liberal friends wanted to engage him. Things would pretty quickly descend into stupidity.

Finally, I realized that he was rarely addressing what what was in the post so probably not interested in conversing. So I quietly blocked him.

It wasn’t long after that that I got my current job and stopped blogging over there. He posted here once to complain that I banned him. I haven’t heard from the guy until this week.

He sent me a Tweet gloating about the election. Okay, whatever. Well, now he’s sent me another Tweet. I don’t know if it will develop into anything.

This is the most minor of irritations. What’s weird is, I don’t know who the hell the guy is. Apparently, he felt “violated” by my opinions (his word) and thought I should be “damned.” All I know about this friendly gentleman is that he lives in Tempe or Phoenix and claims that we went drinking together once (which is further evidence that we never met.) Why he bothers, especially now that I’m not blogging, I don’t know.

There were folks, Republican and otherwise, that wanted to discuss, then there were those that wanted to throw mashed potatoes and carrots. I’d get two kinds of food fighters who would post on R-Cubed: the stereotypical “pajamas in the basement” types for whom this is the only form of political activity and professional operatives or activists who, for some reason, would take time out of their schedules of doing actual political work to tell me what a big poopy head I am. By the way, this is a non-partisan characterization. I had plenty of lefties and one “radical centrist” that were just as bad.

My trouble was that most comments, far from being actual engagement, were an exercise in…God…who knows? Insulting the writer of a political blog has as much to do with political engagement as yelling “Yankees suck!” while sitting on your couch has to do with playing baseball.

Like I said, I don’t have any idea who this guy is and what his motivations are. Two Tweets in a week likely don’t constitute a pattern, and I’m really not that concerned if he keeps on with it. It’s more a waste of his time than mine. Why folks get themselves all riled up to do this sort of thing is beyond me.

One thing I do know: I know that there is a part of me that is a bit healthier now that I don’t do regular diatribes.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

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