Wednesday, February 29, 2012

TRENDING: Romney stumbles over question about GOP contraception push

Columbus, Ohio (CNN) - Mitt Romney's campaign scrambled to clean up another unforced error by their candidate Wednesday after he came out against a controversial amendment pushed by Senate Republicans that would allow employers to opt out of health care coverage they disagree with on moral grounds...

In the sit down interview with Ohio's ONN, Romney was asked whether he supported the Blunt measure.
"The issue of birth control, contraception, Blunt-Rubio is being debated, I believe, later this week. It deals with banning or allowing employers to ban providing female contraception," asked the reporter, Jim Heath. "Have you taken a position on it? He (Santorum) said he was for that, we'll talk about personhood in a second; but he's for that, have you taken a position?"

Romney responded: "I'm not for the bill, but look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I'm not going there."


Stone-age Europeans 'were the first to set foot on North America'

Stone-age Europeans were the first to set foot on North America, beating American Indians by some 10,000 years, new archaeological evidence suggests. 

The explorer, Christopher Columbus, was the son of a Polish king living in exile in Madeira and hid his royal roots to protect his father, a new book claims.
The tools could reassert the long dismissed and discredited claim that Europeans in the form of Christopher Columbus and his crew were the first to discover the New World Photo: GETTY


(The Telegraph) In a discovery that could rewrite the history of the Americas, archaeologists have found a number of stone tools dating back between 19,000 and 26,000 years, and bearing remarkable similarities to those made in Europe.

All of the ancient implements were discovered along the north-east coast of the USA.

The tools could reassert the long dismissed and discredited claim that Europeans in the form of Christopher Columbus and his crew were the first to discover the New World.

Previous discoveries of tools have only been dated back to 15,000 years ago and prompted many archaeologists and historians to question claims that stone-age man managed to migrate to North America.

But the striking resemblance in the way the primitive American tools were made to European ones dating from the same period now suggests a remarkable migration took place.

Adding to the weight of evidence is fresh analysis of stone knife unearthed in the US in 1971 that revealed it was made of French flint.

Professor Dennis Stanford from Washington's Smithsonian Institution, and Professor Bruce Bradley from Exeter University believe that the ancient Europeans travelled to North America across an Atlantic frozen over by the Ice Age.

During the height of the Ice Age, ice covered some three million square miles of the North Atlantic, providing a solid bridge between the two continents. Plentiful numbers of seal, penguins, seabirds and the now extinct great auk on the edge of the ice shelf could have provided the stone-age nomads with enough food to sustain them on their 1,500-mile walk.

"Across Atlantic Ice", a book by professors Stanford and Bradley presenting the case for the trans-Atlantic trek, is published next month.

British court rules Catholic midwives can be forced to participate in abortions

EDINBURGH, U.K., February 29, 2012 ( - Judgment was handed down today in the case of two senior midwives from Glasgow who have a conscientious objection to abortion. The midwives have been told that they must accept the decision of their hospital management that they must oversee other midwives performing abortions on the labour ward.

Lady Smith, judge in the Court of Session in Edinburgh, ruled that the senior midwives’ role is not covered by the conscience clause in the Abortion Act.

Both the midwives have served for over 20 years at the Southern General Hospital, caring for many thousands of mothers and babies. The case arose when the hospital demanded that all senior midwives must take responsibility for overseeing mid-term and late term abortions. Since 2008 the hospital has insisted that these abortions, mostly for suspected disability in the foetus, must be conducted on the labour ward, rather than the gynaecology ward where most early abortions are performed.

The midwives in the case, Miss Mary Doogan and Mrs Connie Wood, argued that they had never been required to supervise abortion procedures in the past, and that the hospital was asking them to be morally, medically and legally responsible for abortions. They argued that this conflicted with their profound objection to abortions and with the right to opt-out that is protected in the 1967 Abortion Act.

Commenting on the judgment, Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) said: “We are very disappointed by the judgment. SPUC has supported the midwives in bringing their case, and will now be considering their further legal options with them.”

Neil Addison, the director of the Thomas More Legal Centre, noted, “The case is yet another example of the way in which the UK Courts are interpreting s9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Freedom of Religion) in the most limited and restrictive way possible.” Addison continued, “The courts have not hesitated to use the convention to protect murderous terrorists but have refused to use it protect two midwives who do not want to kill unborn children.”

Speaking on behalf of both herself and the other midwife in the case, Doogan said, “Connie and I are both very disappointed and greatly saddened by today’s verdict. For most of our 20-plus years of employment as midwifery sisters at the Southern General Hospital we have been proud to be associated with a maternity unit in which the right of all midwifery staff to freedom of conscience has been acknowledged, protected and upheld with no detrimental outcome to any mother whatsoever.”

Lady Smith ruled that the 1967 abortion act only granted qualified conscience protections in relation to abortion. “The nature of their duties does not in fact require them to provide treatment to terminate pregnancies directly,” she said. “They are sufficiently removed from direct involvement as, it seems to me, to afford appropriate respect for and accommodation of their beliefs.”

Addison criticized “the extremely restrictive interpretation the judge has put on the Conscientious Objection clause in s4 of the Abortion Act.” The interpretation, he said, is such that “believing Catholics, Muslims and others will never be able to take any form of supervisory or management role as midwives or nurses unless they are prepared to be complicit in the provision of abortions.”

Monkee Davy Jones dies at age 66 in Florida

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

(Reuters) - Davy Jones, former lead singer of the 1960s made-for-television pop band The Monkees, died on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack in Florida, according to his longtime publicist. He was 66.

Jones' death was confirmed by Christine Weekes, administrative manager for the medical examiner's office in Fort Pierce, Florida, near the Martin Memorial Hospital South where the performer had been taken.
His publicist, Helen Kensick, said Jones died of a heart attack in Indiantown, Florida, but she had no further details.

Jones, born in Manchester, England, became the principal teen idol of the rock quartet featured on the NBC comedy series "The Monkees," which was inspired in part by the Beatles film "A Hard Day's Night" and ran for two seasons from the fall of 1966 to August of 1968.

Although not allowed to play their own instruments on their early records, Jones and his three cohorts -- Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork -- had several hits that sold millions of copies, including "Last Train to Clarksville" and "I'm a Believer."

Jones got his start as a young actor, at the age of 11, on the British soap opera "Coronation Street" before landing a role as the Artful Dodger in a West End production of "Oliver!" He went on to originate that role for the Broadway production and earned a Tony nomination.

But Jones gained stardom after answering a casting call for a new TV series being created about the zany misadventures of four Beatles-like rock musicians called the Monkees. Two members of the group, Nesmith and Tork, were actual musicians with performing and recording experience, while Jones and Dolenz were primarily actors who more or less dabbled in music.

Although disparaged by critics as the "Pre-Fab Four" for the manufactured way in which the band came together, the group proved to be adept performers who were eventually given control over their own recordings.

The TV series, introduced by its catchy theme, "Hey, Hey, We're the Monkees," debuted as an immediate ratings hit weeks after the group's first single, "Last Train to Clarksville," had topped the pop charts.

The group collaborated early on with some of the major songwriters and session musicians of the day, including Neil Diamond, Carole King, Glen Campbell and Hal Blaine.

The self-titled first LP topped the album charts that October, and the popularity of the group generated a wave of merchandising, including toys, games and lunchboxes. But their first and only feature film, "Head," was a box-office flop.

After their fifth album, the group began to splinter, releasing two more albums as a trio without Tork and one last LP as a duo following Nesmith's exit in 1969.

(Additional reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy and Christine Kearney; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Greg McCune)

St. John Cantius DVD instruction for “Sacred Rites and Ceremonies” & Baronius Press Roman Breviary in Latin and English

Reviews from WDTPRS:

I recently received a couple instructional DVDs produced by the canons at St. John Cantius in Chicago and I have had a chance to look at “Sacred Rites and Ceremonies of the Roman Rite, featuring the use of the 1962 Liturgical Books of Blessed John XXIII“, meaning of course, the Liber Usualis (BUY), Rituale Romanum (BUY) and Missale Romanum (BUY).  The canons also have great online resources.

The DVD includes instructions for doing, in the traditional form, Baptism of an Infant, Penance, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Solemn Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Requiem Missa Cantata with Absolution over the Catafalque... (continued)

Today I received from the nice people at Baronius Press the new set of the three volume Roman Breviary, Latin and English translation in side by side columns...

Beautiful books, reminiscent of a better age of liturgical books.

From the Baronius Press website comes this list of the features

A new edition of the Roman Breviary 1961 in English and Latin. An invaluable set of books for all those attached to the traditional Roman Breviary, in the form approved by Pope Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum.

Summary of features:
  • 6,064 pages printed in black and red, text of all hours in Latin and English with rubrics in English.
  • Concordat cum orginali [sic] – meaning the Latin text is approved by the Church for liturgical use, Imprimatur and foreword from Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz STD of Lincoln.
  • [NB] Based on the popular three-volume Breviary published by Collegeville in 1963.
  • St. Jerome’s traditional Gallican Psalter from the Vulgate is used throughout. [Not the Pius XII psalter.]
  • English version of Psalms thoroughly revised to match the Gallican Psalter.
  • Follows rubrics promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII – the form of the traditional Breviary approved in Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum.
  • Scriptural texts in English follow the Confraternity translation (a 1940s revision of Challoner’s Douai-Rheims Bible), which have been revised where necessary to conform to the Vulgate text.
  • Contains Penitential Psalms and the Office for the Dead.
  • Full texts of national feasts for the USA included in the Proper of Saints. National feasts for England & Wales, Scotland and Australasia indicated in the Proper on the dates they occur.
  • English versions of hymns in the acclaimed translation of the Rev. Joseph Connelly.
  • Thirty engravings throughout, which have been selected from traditional liturgical books, carefully scanned, and re-mastered – correcting any defects in images where necessary.
  • Extracts from the Rituale Romanum (including the most commonly used litanies) given in Latin with English rubrics in an Appendix.
  • Full text of relevant motu proprio (Pope John XXIII’s Rubricarum Instructum and Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum) in Latin and English.
  • Thirteen Cards with commonly used prayers in Latin and English... (continued)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Navy fires up fully-weaponized railgun prototype

By Evan Ackerman

(DVICE) At the end of last month, the Navy got an early Valentine's Day present in the form of a prototype fully-weaponized naval railgun. And on Tuesday, it released a video of its first shot, which we're officially filing under "things not to get in the way of."

This prototype weapon, developed by BAE Systems, fires inert aluminum slugs out of a 40-foot barrel using nothing but megajoules of raw electricity. The giant gout of flame you see in the picture above comes from a combination of about a million amps of energy, the hypersonic speed of the round, and the aluminum in the bullet reacting with the atmosphere. The ultimate goal here is to fire 10 rounds per minute with 32 megajoules of energy each, sending them between 50 and 100 miles downrange with flawless GPS-guided accuracy, at a speed that's so high that when the rounds hit their target, they'll be carrying the equivalent amount of destructive force as a Volkswagen Beetle traveling at 100 mph.

32 times over.

In the video of the test below, you'll notice that the payload (the "bullet") is decidedly not streamlined. We know that Boeing has been developing some mean-looking streamlined railgun rounds, but apparently the Navy doesn't want to use them in these tests for fear of accidentally losing control of one and hitting the White House or something, instead opting for brick-like rounds that don't go nearly as far.

In April, General Atomics will deliver a prototype of their railgun design, "Blitzer," to the Navy so that it'll have two of these monsters to play around with. And by 2017, which is another way of saying a quarter of a billion dollars from now, the Navy might actually be ready to start thinking about deployment.

Catholic Tragedy

Update - related:

Georgetown co-ed: Please pay for us to have sex … We’re going broke buying birth control

By Tina Korbe

(Hot Air) At a hearing of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee yesterday, a single witness — Georgetown law student and “reproductive rights activist” Sandra Fluke — told sympathetic policy-makers that the administration’s so-called contraception mandate should stand … because her peers are going broke buying birth control.
“Forty percent of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggled financially as a result of this policy (Georgetown student insurance not covering contraception),” Fluke reported.
It costs a female student $3,000 to have protected sex over the course of her three-year stint in law school, according to her calculations.
“Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school,” Fluke told the hearing.
Craig Bannister at did the math — and discovered that these co-eds, assuming they’re using the cheapest possible contraception, must be having unprotected sex about three times a day every day to incur that kind of expense. What Fluke is arguing, then, is that her fellow law students have a right to consequence-free sex whenever, wherever. Why, exactly, especially if it costs other people something? When I can’t pay for something, I do without it. Fortunately, in the case of contraception, women can make lifestyle choices that render it unnecessary.

At one point, Fluke mentions a friend who felt “embarrassed and powerless” when she learned her insurance didn’t cover contraception. Can you imagine how proud and empowered that same friend would be if she learned she has the ability to resist her own sexual urges? We can only assume she doesn’t know that because Fluke and she both labor under the illusion that contraception is a medical necessity.

Some little part of Fluke must recognize that it’s not … because she sought to bolster her argument with an example of an illness in which contraception might be a medically necessary treatment. Another friend of hers, she said, has polycystic ovarian syndrome, for which contraception is a common treatment. Some insurance programs that don’t cover contraception normally would nevertheless cover it as a treatment for PCOS — but other insurance programs wouldn’t. Fluke makes it sound like contraception is the only treatment for PCOS. In fact, it isn’t — and contraception is prescribed as a treatment only when the woman also wants to contracept. Fluke says her friend is a lesbian — and so wouldn’t need contraception. Why didn’t she opt for any of the other treatments, then?

At the end of her testimony, Fluke spoke in strong language of her resentment of university administrators and others who suggest she should have chosen to attend a different university that would have offered student insurance that does cover contraception — even if that other university wasn’t quite as prestigious as Georgetown.

“We refuse to pick between a quality education and our health and we resent that, in the 21st Century, anyone thinks it’s acceptable to ask us to make that choice simply because we are women,” Fluke said.
Ms. Fluke, I resent that you think women are incapable of controlling themselves, of sacrificing temporary pleasure for the sake of long-term success. You make us sound like animals, slaves to our instincts and able to be used, but we’re better than that. We’re persons, equal to men in dignity and love.

Catholic Contenders Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum Elicit Hatred

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments as follows:

Some of the critics of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have gone beyond Catholic bashing. Wills is so excited he sees Santorum as a modern-day Torquemada, a man who “equates contraception with the guillotine.” That this lunacy appeared on the blog site of the New York Review of Books speaks volumes. On, Michael Hughes compares Santorum to the Taliban, arguing he wants “a Christian form of Sharia law.” Mark Morford at says Santorum reminds him of a molester, someone who is trying to save “the dying Catholic church.”

Larry Doyle at Huffington Post went beyond the candidate to slam all Catholics for participating “in a barbaric ritual…a ‘mass’ in which a black-robed cleric casts a spell over some bread and wine…[resulting] in a cannibalistic reverie.” Sexpert Dan Savage said that when Newt Gingrich was married to his second wife, he was “still ****ing the consecrated host out of his ‘devout Catholic’ mistress.”

The Catholicism of these candidates only explains some of the hatred. John Cassidy in The New Yorker says that Santorum “with his seven kids” (which he notes first and foremost) is radically different from the magazine’s readership. He is right: those for whom abortion is the most precious right can’t figure Santorum out. Neither can Ivan Strenski at While he says photos of Santorum and his daughter who suffers from Trisomy 18 “touched his heart,” he also wonders, “Why would one choose, in effect, to take the risk of bringing a doomed child into the world?”

These people may be threatened by Catholicism, but what gives them the chills are babies. And they really flip over couples like the Santorums and the Palins who don’t abort their disabled children.

Pope: Lent always look to God

Toughen Up Mitt-ercup

By Michele Malkin
Call the waaaaahmbulance. Mitt Romney is railing against Rick Santorum for robocalls calling attention to his TARP bailout support/auto bailout flip-flop.

Romney is decrying the robocalls aimed at Democrats as “outrageous” and “disgusting” and a “terrible dirty trick.”

Today’s Michigan primary is an open primary.

Inconvenient truth: There’s nothing “dirty” and there’s no “trick” in playing by the rules set by the states. Seventeen states have open primaries. (Think the rules should be changed? Go for it. But not in the middle of the game.) One of those 17 states with open primaries is Massachusetts. And among the many voters who have crossed over to influence the outcome of an open primary is…Mitt Romney.
The Romney campaign has been denouncing Democratic efforts – and now those by Rick Santorum – to get Democrats to vote in Michigan’s open primary.
Mitt Romney himself called it a “new low” in politics in a round of TV interviews.
“President Obama’s reelection team is now actively engaged in changing the outcome of the Republican primary,” declared Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades in an email to the campaign’s list. “This is politics at its worst. It doesn’t get much more pathetic.”
Yet Romney himself gave a similar explanation in his last presidential run for why he crossover voted in in the 1990s in Massachusetts, per this ABC News clip:
ABC News’ Jonathan Greenberger Reports: Republican presidential candididate Mitt Romney offered a new explanation today for why he supported a Democrat in 1992.
That year, Romney, then a registered independent, voted for former Sen. Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Democratic presidential primary. He told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, in an interview that will air Sunday on “This Week,” that his vote was meant as a tactical maneuver aimed at finding the weakest opponent for incumbent President George H.W. Bush.
“In Massachusetts, if you register as an independent, you can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary,” said Romney, who until he made an unsuccessful run for Senate in 1994 had spent his adult life as a registered independent. “When there was no real contest in the Republican primary, I’d vote in the Democrat primary, vote for the person who I thought would be the weakest opponent for the Republican.”
Well, this year, there’s a “real contest” in the “Republican primary” and Rick Santorum is fighting for every vote — as any candidate intent on winning should.

Mitt Romney’s longtime argument is that he, not Santorum, is best equipped to appeal to the very Reagan Democrats that Rick Santorum is wooing.

Yet, in the state he considers his “home state” and where he has desperately outspent Santorum by 3-to-1, tonight’s outcome is “too close to call.”

If Romney can’t put away Santorum and can’t handle a run-of-the-mill robocall, how is he going to handle Team Obama’s Chicago goons and the Democrat deacons of truly dirty tricks?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bar Raiding Cocktail-Loving Caribbean Monkeys

By Ted Thornhill

(The Daily Mail) Monkeys may be closer to humans than we previously thought – because they even ape our drinking habits.

There are gangs of vervet monkeys on the Caribbean Island of St Kitts that regularly raid the local beach bars for cocktails to satisfy their thirst - and they can be seen getting their paws on them in a hilarious YouTube video.

The cheeky boozers first arrived on the island 300 years ago with slaves from West Africa who were shipped there to work in the rum industry.

Thirst for fancy drinks: This vervet monkey cheekily sips a tourists' cocktail

Shipped in: The boozing monkeys first arrived on the island 300 years ago

They developed a taste for alcohol from eating fermented fruits on forest floors – and have now been filmed for the BBC’s Weird Science show moving on to stealing beachgoers’ fancy tipples.

However, not all of them like alcohol.

The show discovered that their drinking habits match that of human populations.

The voiceover explained: ‘Some monkeys are teetotal and reject alcohol in favour of soft drinks.

This monkey was caught enjoying a cocktail - but some are teetotal

Thieves: The monkeys regularly steal drinks as beachgoers sunbathe

‘The percentage of teetotal monkeys matches the non-drinkers in the human population.

‘In line with human habits, most drink in moderation, 12 per cent are steady drinkers and five per cent drink to the last drop.

‘It shows that our liking for alcohol is determined largely by our genes.’

Just like humans, the monkeys that have been drinking end the day by falling over a lot and getting involved in scuffles.

But unlike humans, the monkeys that drink are respected by those that don’t.

Where Does it Say That in the Bible?

Transfiguring the Crystal Cathedral

By Terry Mattingly

It doesn’t take a doctorate in church architecture to know why every pew in every Catholic cathedral allows worshippers to gaze toward the altar.

What happens on the altar during Mass is the heart of Catholic faith.

Meanwhile, architects that design Protestant churches make sure preachers have everyone’s attention when they rise to preach. What happens in those pulpits is what matters for most Protestants.

The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, on the other hand, asked the legendary architect Philip Johnson to design the world’s first great church specifically built for use as a studio for televised worship.

Leaders of the Diocese of Orange will have to meditate on that fact as they work to turn the Crystal Cathedral into a spiritual home for Orange County’s nearly 1.3 million Catholics, according to an architect who has published an sketch of possible changes in that structure. The diocese recently completed its $57.5 million purchase of the property.

“It would be hard to imagine a more symbolic project that this one,” said Mathew Alderman, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s classical design program and an architect at Cram and Ferguson Architects in Concord, Mass. The firm specializes in traditional church designs.

“What we are going to see at the Crystal Cathedral is sort of like a collision between the therapeutic American Protestantism of the television age with all of the symbolism, art and ancient traditions of the Catholic Church and its worship...”

"After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?"

After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?

Alberto Giubilini (Department of Philosophy, University of Milan, Milan; Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), Francesca Minerva (Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Oxford University)

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus' health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

(Journal of Medical Ethics, published online 23 Feb 2012, available at

[Tip: BioEdge, via Jeanne Smits

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What Happens When You Shoot a Gun in Space?

From Life's Little Mysteries:
By Natalie Wolchover

Fires can't burn in the oxygen-free vacuum of space, but guns can shoot. Modern ammunition contains its own oxidizer, a chemical that will trigger the explosion of gunpowder, and thus the firing of a bullet, wherever you are in the universe. No atmospheric oxygen required.

The only difference between pulling the trigger on Earth and in space is the shape of the resulting smoke trail. In space, "it would be an expanding sphere of smoke from the tip of the barrel," said Peter Schultz an astronomer at Brown University who researches impact craters.

The possibility of gunfire in space allows for all kinds of absurd scenarios.

Imagine you're floating freely in the vacuum between galaxies — just you, your gun and a single bullet. You have two options. You either can spend all of eternity trying to figure out how you got there, or you can shoot the damn cosmos.

If you do the latter, Newton's third law dictates that the force exerted on the bullet will impart an equal and opposite force on the gun, and, because you're holding the gun, you. With very few intergalactic atoms against which to brace yourself, you'll start moving backward (not that you’d have any way of knowing). If the bullet leaves the gun barrel at 1,000 meters per second, you — because you're much more massive than it is — will head the other way at only a few centimeters per second.

Once shot, the bullet will keep going, quite literally, forever. "The bullet will never stop, because the universe is expanding faster than the bullet can catch up with any serious amount of mass" to slow it down, said Matija Cuk, an astronomer with joint appointments at Harvard University and the SETI Institute. (If the universe weren't expanding, then the one or two atoms per cubic centimeter encountered by the bullet in the near-vacuum of space would bring it to a standstill after 10 million light-years.)

Getting down to details, the universe expands at a rate of 73 kilometers per second per megaparsec (about 3 million light-years, or the average distance between galaxies). By Cuk's calculations, this means matter that is 40,000 to 50,000 light-years away from the bullet would move away from it at about the same speed at which it is travelling, and would thus be forever out of reach. In the entire future of the universe, the bullet will catch up only to atoms that are less than 40,000 or so light-years from the chamber of your gun.

Speaking of you, you'll be bobbing through space forever, too. [Album: Visualizations of Infinity]

Shooting giants from the hip

Guns do actually get carried to space, though not quite to the void between galaxies. For decades, the standard survival pack for Russian cosmonauts has included a gun. Until recently, it wasn't just any gun, but "a deluxe all-in-one weapon with three barrels and a folding stock that doubles as a shovel and contains a swing-out machete," according to space historian James Oberg...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Empire State Building Won't Honor Cardinal Dolan, Though Honored Mao Zedong & Communist Revolution

According to the Catholic League, Representative Michael Grimm's request that  Archbishop Timothy Dolan be honored following his elevation to Cardinal was denied.

In 2010, Bill Donohue's request for the building to be decorated in blue and white, in honor of Mother Teresa, was also denied.   This denial was followed by a new policy which barred the recognition of religious figures - a policy which was cited as the cause for the denial, though this policy was not in place when Donohue's request was refused.

The Catholic League exposes the idiocy of the owner of the Empire State Building by citing the fact that the building will honor St. Patrick next month:  "Who do they think St. Patrick was? A closet secularist?"

h/t to S.

Slovaks vote to name bridge Chuck Norris

Reuters, Bratislava

(The Guardian) Slovaks have been voting overwhelmingly in favour of naming a new pedestrian and cycling bridge near their capital after 1980s US action film and TV star Chuck Norris.

The two other top names in the running for the bridge, which will span the Morava river and cross the border to Austria, were Maria Theresa after an Austro-Hungarian empress and the Devinska cycling bridge in honour of the closest village.

Norris, a martial arts expert-turned film star, is known for playing tough guy characters in such movies as Lone Wolf McQuade, Missing in Action and The Delta Force.

The actor's work has become a popular source of kitschy fun among Slovaks and a mainstay for local jokes about macho strength and invincibility.

The final decision will be up to a regional assembly. But regional governor Pavol Freso has said it would follow the wishes of the people in the internet ballot where Norris leads as the top choice for the bridge's name.

"The same way as we have so far been building it in full sight of the public, we will seek that the name is accepted by the public as well," he said.

The voting will run until April. As of Thursday, 1,157 votes have backed Norris, 74% of the total, leaving the runner-up "Maria Theresa Bridge" far behind with 8%.

Gay Dallas Judge Won't Perform Straight Marriages

By Greg Janda

(NBCDFW) Dallas County Judge Tonya Parker says she won't perform marriage ceremonies until gay couples can wed.

During a Feb. 21 meeting, Parker told the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas that while she has the power to perform legal marriage ceremonies in her court, she will not.

“I use it as my opportunity to give them a lesson about marriage inequality in this state because I feel like I have to tell them why I’m turning them away,” Parker said. “So I usually will offer them something along the lines of, ‘I’m sorry. I don’t perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality, and until it does, I am not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn’t apply to another group of people.’ And it’s kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can’t be performed for me, so I’m not going to do it..."

Removing Holy Water during Lent

From Father Z:

....Holy water is a sacramental.

We get the powerful theology of its use in the older ritual in the prayers for exorcism of the water and salt used and then the blessing itself. I wrote about this in an article for the WDTPRS series and it is on this blog. I’ll come back to it soon.

The rite of blessing holy water, in the older ritual, is powerful stuff.  It sounds odd, nearly foreign to our modern ears, especially after decades of being force fed ICEL pabulum.

Holy Water is a power weapon of the spiritual life against the attacks of the devil.

You do believe in the existence of the Enemy, … right?

You know you are a soldier and pilgrim in a dangerous world, … right?

So why… why… why would these liturgists and priests REMOVE a tool of spiritual warfare precisely during the season of LENT when we need it the most??

Holy water is a sacramental.

It is for our benefit.

It is not a toy, or something to be abstained from, like chocolate or television.

This is a response from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments about this question. Enjoy.

The emphases are mine:
Prot. N. 569/00/L
March 14, 2000

Dear Father:

This Congregation for Divine Worship has received your letter sent by fax in which you ask whether it is in accord with liturgical law to remove the Holy Water from the fonts for the duration of the season of Lent.

This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:... (continued)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Church is Right! (Contraception, Humanae Vitae) - The Vortex With Michael Voris


Newt Gingrich: Obama Voted to Protect Doctors Who Killed Babies Who Survived Abortions
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By Robert Stacy McCain at The American Spectator

Newt Gingrich had arguably the best performance of the four finalists for the Republican nomination. CNN's moderator John King was booed when he asked a question submitted by a viewer online: "Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?" This prompted Gingrich to lecture that "not once in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide. … If we're going to have a debate about who the extremist is on these issues, it is President Obama who, as a state senator, voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion. It is not the Republicans."

Te Deum laudamus!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Father George Rutler: Noble Dreams and Nightmares

By Father George Rutler

In the vault of modern political oratory is a speech of one senator in the 1960's quoting George Bernard Shaw: “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’ ”  There are noble dreams, such as those of our nation's Founding Fathers, right up to the last century's civil rights movement.  Jacob saw a ladder to heaven in a dream. But dreams can also be the sugar-coated nihilism of John Lennon's song Imagine, which is still dear to the hearts of the mindless.

The Risen Christ ate food to show the Apostles that He was not just a dream, and so the Lenten preparation for the Feast begins with hard reality: “You are dust.” This is an alarm clock that awakens us from moral slumber, and we have been slumbering a lot in our culture. The surest way to guarantee that evil can happen here is to say that evil cannot happen here. God constantly posits a choice between life and death, precisely because both are real, even for those who dream of existence with neither heaven nor hell and “only sky.”

Recent attempts of the Health and Human Services Department to promote a culture of death by violating the Constitutional right to free exercise of religion are in part the work of public officials who have boasted of their admiration for a bad dreamer: Saul Alinsky. That strategist for “community organizers” insisted that there is no objective truth. Pope Benedict XVI would call this the “dictatorship of relativism.” Alinsky, as the common man's Machiavelli, used this relativism to approve of corruption in public officials as a matter of policy, the justification of unethical means to achieve ends and the destruction of any opposition. Alinsky's guide book, Rules for Radicals,  is prefaced with a tribute to “the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.”

While some journalists would give the impression that the government mandates are all about contraception, they also cover sterilization and abortifacients. Many Christians themselves do not understand the moral implications of artificial birth prevention as explained in Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae. In 1968 his prophetic warnings were widely ridiculed as nonsense: moral breakdown, increased infidelity and illegitimacy, pornographic exploitation of women by men. Then he asked: “Who will prevent public authorities from favoring what they believe to be the most effective contraceptive methods and from mandating that everyone must use them, whenever they consider it necessary?”

Who will prevent them?  Only those wise enough to distinguish between noble dreams and nightmares. They will know what many utopian dreamers do not know:  The voice in Shaw's play Back to Methuselah that spoke of dreams that never were and asked “Why not?” was the Serpent in the Garden.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Consistory Photos - Pope Benedict XVI and the New Cardinals
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 18: New cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki (L), Archbishop of Berlin receives the biretta cap from Pope Benedict XVI in Saint Peter's Basilica on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 18: Newly appointed cardinal Edwin Frederick O'Brien (L), Archbishop of Baltimore, receives congratulations from Father Georg Ganswein the personal secretary of Pope, during the courtesy visits at the Paul VI Hall on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican
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Newly-appointed cardinal US Timothy Michael Dolan smiles during the traditionnal courtesy visit after the consistory at the Vatican on February 18, 2012.
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Fish-eye lens view of Saint Peter's Basilica during the concistory held by Pope Benedict XVI on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.
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US cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan (R) chats with cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro after both being appointed by Pope Benedict XVI during the Consistory on February 18, 2012 at St Peter's basilica at the Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 18: Newly appointed cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins Archbishop of Toronto poses during the courtesy visits at the at the Paul VI Hall on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.
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Newly appointed cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, receives congratulations from his diocesan during the courtesy visits at the at the Paul VI Hall on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 18: Newly appointed cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio (R) receives congratulations from Father Georg Ganswein (L) the personal secretary of Pope, during the courtesy visits at the Paul VI Hall on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 18: Cardinals attend the concistory held by Popen Benedict XV at the Saint Peter's Basilica on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 18: Newly appointed cardinal Giuseppe Betori (C), Archbishop of Florence, receives congratulations from his diocesan during the courtesy visits at the Paul VI Hallon February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 18: Newly appointed cardinal Giuseppe Betori (R), Archbishop of Florence receives congratulations from Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco during the courtesy visits at the Paul VI Hall on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.
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A view of St Peter's basilica in the background after the consistory at the Vatican on February 18, 2012.
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New Cardinal Willen Jacobus Eijk of Netherlands stands as he receives guests in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican February 18, 2012.
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 18: Newly appointed cardinal Dominik Jaroslav Duka, Archbishop of Prague, receives congratulations from his diocesan during the courtesy visits at the at the Paul VI Hall on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.
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Newly appointed cardinal John Tong Hon (C), Archbishop of Hong Kong, receives congratulations from fellow cardinals at the Saint Peter's Basilica on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.
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Pope Benedict XVI places red biretta, a four-cornered hat, on the head of new Cardinal Fernando Filoni during a consistory ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 18, 2012.
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 18: Newly appointed cardinal Frederick O'Brien, Archbishop of Baltimora, leaves the Saint Peter's Basilica after a ceremony held by Pope Benedict XVI on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.
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New Cardinal John Tong Hon of China (C) receives guests in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican February 18, 2012.
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Pope Benedict XVI places red biretta, a four-cornered hat, on the head of new Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki during a consistory ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 18, 2012.
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 18: Cardinal Roger Mahony former archbishop of Los Angeles (C) attends the concistory held by Pope Benedict XV at the Saint Peter's Basilica on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.
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Newly-appointed Cardinal Prosper Grech (R) greets visitors during the traditionnal courtesy visit after the consistory at the Vatican on February 18, 2012.
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New Cardinal George Alencherry (2nd R) of India receives guests in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican February 18, 2012.
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Newly-appointed cardinal Czech Dominik Duka smiles during the traditional courtesy visit after the consistory at the Vatican on February 18, 2012. 
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Father Karl Josef Becker, now Cardinal Karl Josef Becker of Germany is seen with red biretta, a four-cornered hat, on the head during a consistory ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 18, 2012.
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Soldiers don fake belly, breasts to better understand pregnant troops' exercise concerns

By Seth Robson

Stars and Stripes

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – The Army is ordering its hardened combat veterans to wear fake breasts and empathy bellies so they can better understand how pregnant soldiers feel during physical training.

This week, 14 noncommissioned officers at Camp Zama took turns wearing the “pregnancy simulators” as they stretched, twisted and exercised during a three-day class that teaches them to serve as fitness instructors for pregnant soldiers and new mothers.

Army enlisted leaders all over the world are being ordered to take the Pregnancy Postpartum Physical Training Exercise Leaders Course, or PPPT, according to U.S. Army Medical Activity Japan health promotion educator Jana York.

Developed by the Army in 2008, the course includes aerobics classes, pool sessions and classroom studies on the physiology of pregnant women. The NCOs learn special exercises for pregnant women, who shouldn’t push themselves too hard or participate in high-impact activities such as snowboarding, bungee jumping or horse riding, York said.

During the training, each NCO must wear the pregnancy simulator for at least an hour.

“When they first come in, the males are typically timid and don’t feel they have the knowledge to teach female soldiers,” she said. “However, after three days their confidence rises...”


‘Iron Sky’ Pits President Sarah Palin Against Nazi Invaders From Space


(WebProNews) A very peculiar sci-fi movie called “Iron Sky” is making its way through the circuit of film festivals in Europe this season, yet it is conspicuously not coming anywhere near the United States. The flick is replete with great stuff Americans love to watch: spaceships, fighting Nazis, fighting Nazi invaders from space, Jerry Bruckheimer-levels of explosions, a campy yet potent sense of dark humor and… President Sarah Palin? Now it all makes sense why it’s staying away from the U.S. Well, sort of.

In the film, the President of the United States is female, does adorn a certain someone’s signature red dress suit, sports a very familiar hairdo-and-glasses combo, and has the initials S.P. But it’s not a former governor of Alaska.

Already, this movie sounds more like a fantasy horror than sci-fi comedy. At any rate, “Iron Sky” confidently offers something for everybody to either love or hate, which is all the makings of a summer blockbuster, right?
The film, which is in English, depicts a fleet of Moon Nazis that intent on invading Earth so as to resume their mission of world domination. The last first and last line of defense for the United States of America, and the rest of the world, I fear, is the commander-in-chief of the United States, the aforementioned Palinesque Stephanie Paul.

This movie is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book gone absolutely berserk on angel dust, but “Iron Sky” is surreal enough to entice just about anybody’s interest. Just try to watch the the trailer below without quietly craving more.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Astros Remove Gun From Colt .45 Throwback Jerseys

Colt 45s Jersey 
 Uni Watch illustration  
Major League Baseball approved throwback Colt .45s jerseys for the Astros, but without a gun.

by Paul Lukas

(ESPN) You wouldn't expect to see gun control happening in Texas, but that's what will be taking place at a few Astros games this year.

Here's the deal: The Astros are marking their 50th anniversary this season, so they'll be wearing an assortment of throwback uniforms for Friday home games. That includes the uniform of the Houston Colt .45s, which was the team's name for the first three years of the franchise's existence.

But in a move that's outraging uniform historians and firearms fans alike, the Astros have decided to make a significant tweak to the Colt .45s jersey design. They're removing the smoking handgun.

Ugh. Whatever your thoughts about the Second Amendment, this is a design disaster. What's the point of having a "C" formed by a whisp of gunsmoke when there's no gun to produce the smoke?

Astros fan James Crabtree is so upset about this that he sent a letter this week to the team and to MLB commissioner Bud Selig. He received a response from Mike Acosta, the Astros' authentication manager, who told him, "During our discussion with Major League Baseball, it was expressed to us that we could wear the uniform as long as the pistol was removed. We realize this changes the original design, but we still want to honor the Colt .45s. We are also under an obligation to follow Major League Baseball's requests..."