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Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Pope has died (Updated)

It’s official this time.

The New York Times has a great multi-media presentation on the life of Karol Wojtyla and his legacy as Pope John Paul II. On the home page click on the “The Life of Pope John Paul II
Frank Bruni looks back on the extraordinary papacy of Karl Wojtyla of Poland” link on the right side.

Also check out the fascinating Wikipedia article on JPII and his history.

At 26 years, John Paull II’s reign as Pope was one of the longest. He succeeded John Paul I, who had the shortest term at only 33 days. JP I did not aspire or desire to be the Pope. His accession was the results of compromises and the fact that he wasn’t carrying any “baggage.” The politics surrounding his selection and the intrigue surrounding his death is an interesting read.

Ann Althouse writes:

Such a well-lived life! Like Nina, I’m not Catholic. Still, I greatly admire the man. Hearing the news stories about him today and yesterday, I wondered if it was not the case that he was the greatest human being to have lived during my own lifetime. The world is a poorer place.

Many non-Catholics, including myself, have expressed similar feelings. We remember when the world was a much grayer and less free place than it is now. John Paul’s unrelenting voice of freedom was a voice of hope and freedom in those days. He preceeded Thatcher and Reagan, and for a time was the only voice speaking out against the evils of Communism. As non-Catholics it is easy for us to highlight what it is about the man we admire, and ignore the rest (as it is best to do with any historical figure).

There are, however, many ex-Catholics who do not see the Pope in the same favorable light. Spoons has his complaints:

I’ve been sharply critical of him on this page, on a number of occasions, so I won’t shower him with false praise now that he’s going. By the same token, this purpose of this post isn’t merely to recount his faults, but just to reflect on what his passing means.

The Pope has been a complicated man. The strength he showed in standing against communism may be his greatest legacy. I’m not sure there could have been a better man to lead the Catholic Church through the end of the Cold War. I think the world owes him gratitude for his role in bringing that about.

On the other hand, the Church has had some terrible failings under his leadership.

I agree with most of what he goes on to say. The difference between us, and I have noticed this a lot in my disagreements with Spoons, is that in an imperfect world I am looking for men and women who will make the world a place better tomorrow than it is today. He is looking for someone who is perfect:

Looking back, I say again that the Pope was a complicated man. He was responsible for a great deal or good. At the same time, he showed a great deal of weakness in the face of evil at times when I think his strong ledership really could have made an important difference.

On the other hand, my views are not encumbered by the fact that this man has let me down personally. Spoons continues:

While I’m no longer a member of that Church (at least in part, but not in whole, because of the actions of this Pope)…

If Poland was not now a free state, if the Berlin Wall was still standing, if the USSR was still a world power, if Vaclav Havel was still just a playright and Lech Walesa an electrician, I wouldn’t think much about Pope John Paul II either.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Is the EU a joke, or is this?

When you read stories like this...:

A French politician has written to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair demanding that he changes the name of Waterloo Station.

Florent Longuepée says it is upsetting for the French to be reminded of Napoleon’s defeat when they arrive in London by Eurostar.

Waterloo station, which celebrates the Duke of Wellington’s victory in 1815 over the French Emperor Napoleon, is the gateway to London for Eurostar passengers arriving from Paris.

... It’s tough to tell if the wiley Scots are just having a joke on the EU:

EUROPEAN bureaucrats will push forward legislation today to force the Scottish Executive to change place-names that offend or discriminate on the grounds of race and gender.

In a move the Nationalists described as the “ultimate madness in political correctness”, it has taken only a quorum of four Euro commissioners from Italy, Germany, France and Spain to redraw Scotland’s map.

...

The commissioners in Brussels have demanded “race and gender-sensitive” names found for towns such as Motherwell, Blackburn, Helensburgh, Fort William, Campbeltown, Peterhead, Lewis and Fraserburgh be changed.

A Scottish parliamentary group, set up in anticipation of the legislation, has made a start. Fort William, in the shadow of Britain’s highest mountain, would become Fort Nevis by 2006, under one suggestion.

Edinburgh City Council is considering revising Arthur’s Seat because the commissioners said its ancient name contained sexual undertones “likely to offend those visiting Edinburgh”.

...

Mr Pilof revealed that England would be next on the agenda, citing the Isle of Man as particularly worthy of change.

A Manx spokesman said yesterday: “I hope this is a long way off. We are two-time losers, what with the island’s name and Douglas as the capital. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?

“It’s as if these people sat there all day and made up this stuff.”

After all, we are talking about the people who don’t like their bananas being too curvy:

For years the European Commission and its supporters have ridiculed “anti-European mythmongers” for claiming that there were EC regulations banning “curved bananas”.

Despite repeated attempts to draw their attention to Council Regulation 2257/94, which lays down not only that bananas must not have “abnormal curvature” but must be at least 139.7 millimetres long and 26.9 millimetres round, the website for Britain In Europe still pours scorn on those “invented European regulations about the curvature of bananas”.

BTW, it took an 8-page directive to come up with that.

The EU Constitution is over 200 pages long and filled with high-falutin language. My favorite part is the Orwellian “some are more equal than others” part at the end:

All versions are equal, (but it is wise to consult the French version if there is doubt over interpretation…

So, is the place names story real, or is it a joke? It’s sad when you can’t tell.

Death and Dying, Life Goes On

It is easy to forget that the people on the other side of the aisle, whichever side that is, are just that—people.

Eleanor Clift’s husband died last week after years of battling cancer. She tells her story in Newsweek.

It was only when he saw me crying that he realized the recommendation to take a break from chemotherapy and regain his strength in the healing community of a home hospice was not another stop on the road to recovery.

(via Spoons)

Sick, sick, sick

This is just too sick.

Google Gulp & Not Being Cool

(Sorry about the two Google posts, but this is too good to pass up.)

Quench your thirst for knowledge.

At Google our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it useful and accessible to our users. But any piece of information’s usefulness derives, to a depressing degree, from the cognitive ability of the user who’s using it. That’s why we’re pleased to announce Google Gulp (BETA)™ with Auto-Drink™ (LIMITED RELEASE), a line of “smart drinks” designed to maximize your surfing efficiency by making you more intelligent, and less thirsty.

Don’t miss the all important FAQs:

11. When will you take Google Gulp out of beta?

Man, if you pressure us, you just drive us away. We’ll commit when we’re ready, okay? Besides, what’s so great about taking things out of beta? It ruins all the romance, the challenge, the possibilities, the right to explore. Carpe diem, ya know? Maybe we’re jaded, but we’ve seen all these other companies leap headlong into 1.0, thinking their product is exactly what they’ve been dreaming of all their lives, that everything is perfect and hunky-dory – and the next thing you know some vanilla copycat release from Redmond is kicking their butt, the Board is holding emergency meetings and the CEO is on CNBC blathering sweatily about “a new direction” and “getting back to basics.” No thanks, man. We like our freedom.

Of course Google goes for the jugular in the ugly truth department:

How to get Gulped?
You can pick up your own supply of this “limited release” product simply by turning in a used Gulp Cap at your local grocery store. How to get a Gulp Cap? Well, if you know someone who’s already been “gulped,” they can give you one. And if you don’t know anyone who can give you one, don’t worry – that just means you aren’t cool. But very, very (very!) soon, you will be.

Yes, the ugly truth. I signed up for a Gmail account the day they were first announced. I never got an invite. I figured they forgot about me, so I signed up again. No invite. I figured they were pissed because I asked twice. I finally picked up an invite from another blogger. A month or two ago Gmail went out of beta and into official release. The Google gods decided then that I was finally worthy of an invite (Hah! I already have 2 accounts). I realized then just how uncool I really am.

This has been a painful memory, excuse me now as I go rub myself in ashes and cover up my nakedness with some sackcloth.

[I have 50 invites left over, does anyone want one?]

Google doesn’t hate Firefox after all

I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that Google and Microsoft were in bed together, (though, not necessarily nekkid), because Google has never seen fit to port their toolbar over to the Mozilla platform.

Google has implemented a cool feature that only Mozilla browsers (don’t know about Opera) can take advantage of—prefetching search results. When you perform a search Google preloads some of the pages so that when you click on the link the page appears faster.

What is link prefetching?
Link prefetching is a browser mechanism, which utilizes browser idle time to download or prefetch documents that the user might visit in the near future. A web page provides a set of prefetching hints to the browser, and after the browser is finished loading the page, it begins silently prefetching specified documents and stores them in its cache. When the user visits one of the prefetched documents, it can be served up quickly out of the browser’s cache.

Check out both links to see how to implement prefetching of your webpage.

The Pope Has Passed Away

The Roth Report is reporting that the Pope has died. His was a good, long life, well-lived, and he touched hearts around the world. He will exist in our memories--and in history--as an exemplary man who lived a life devoted to helping others and according to his convictions.

Rest in peace. The world was a better place for his place in it.

Michelle Malkin has wonderful links to information about the Pope. I’m sure she will also be a good source of information since the information coming about the Pope’s condition is contradictory. I’ll write more about this later.

Before I Head Over to the Fix My Freakin’ Car Store…

...I wanted to make sure that everyone took part in doing something good. All you have to do to contribute is leave a comment at California Hammonds. With each comment that is left, a donation will be made with the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Link it and leave a comment--it’s an easy way to do your good deed for the day.

H/T to Rae on this one.

Give me a break

A FAMILY ate 20,000 Kit Kat bars in two months — to win holidays and goods worth £12,000.

Pat and Carol McGovern, 49, cashed in on an online auction run by makers Rowntree.

They spent £3,000 buying 54,000 bars on a two-for-one offer so they could use points on the wrappers to bid in the auction.

I bet they end up sueing for clogged arteries, obesity, and tooth decay (strike the tooth decay, they are British after all). Where’s Johnny Cochran when you need him?

What’s next?

EU to ban April Fools Day:

From MICHAEL LEA
European Correspondent, in Brussels

BARMY Brussels bureaucrats want to BAN April Fools’ Day — because they think it is too dangerous.

Lawmakers decided the ancient fun day should be struck off the calendar following a string of lawsuits taken out by victims of pranks.

I’m left speechless.

Pop the Pope

Doctors say the latest health crisis will be a challenge for Pope John Paul II to overcome, given the number of ailments weakening his frail body.

The 84-year-old pontiff, who began receiving nutrition through a feeding tube on Wednesday, developed a high fever Thursday because of a urinary tract infection. The pope was immediately put on antibiotics at the Vatican and was said to be in stable condition.

“It’s not a very promising situation,” said Dr. Benjamin Ansell, an internist at UCLA School of Medicine. “When you see recurrent infections as the pope has had, each round of antibiotics may lead to resistance.”

I know a doctor in Florida who can solve this “crisis.” I can hook you up with a good lawyer and a friendly judge too. Come on, the dude’s older than the hills, and when was the last time you heard him say anything, anyway? Pull the tube and relieve us all of our misery.

Note: if you didn’t notice the dripping sarcasm then you shouldn’t be reading blogs anyway.

Seriously, whether or not you are Catholic, JPII has been a good force in this world. Whoever is next will have a hard time filling his mitre. I have disagreed with his pronouncements concerning capitolism and US culture but those are just niggling little details compared to his strong stance against communism and despotism. John Paul II was the third member of the triumvirate that took down the USSR and its satelite governments. Ultimately, the Papacy is a political force, and JPII and played politics like a pro, but that is the world we live in. And it will be a little less sunny in that world the day he dies.

If you can’t beat ‘em, drop your prices and raise their taxes

The people who brought you the 35 hour work week, national socialism, and an unatural love for Jerry Lewis are upset that the US supports corporations subject to unfair dumping of European products:

The European Union and Canada said Thursday that they would impose trade sanctions on a variety of American goods in retaliation for a tax system that compensates American manufacturers deemed to have been hurt by foreign goods sold below cost.

Beginning May 1, the European Commission and Canada will raise import duties 15 percent on a range of American products. In Europe, pocket diaries, women’s trousers and frozen sweet corn are among the $28 million in exports that will be taxed more heavily. Canada will impose the duty on some $11.5 million in American exports of cigarettes, pigs, oysters and specialty fish.

Evidently, some evil Repugnican thought that it wasn’t fair that Euro and Canuck corproations got to sell their goods in America for less than it cost to produce them. Who is the evil right-winger neocon fanatic?

The actions Thursday were in retaliation for the Byrd amendment, named after Senator Robert C. Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat who proposed it in 2000. The amendment gives American companies the proceeds of duties levied on foreign companies that are selling their goods in the United States at below-market prices, a practice known as dumping.

Oops. Never mind.

Albert Einstein is going to be so bummed

This is not a post about Evolution or Creationism. It is however, a reminder that the scientists who know everything keep being reminded that they don’t:

Black holes ‘do not exist’

Black holes are staples of science fiction and many think astronomers have observed them indirectly. But according to a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, these awesome breaches in space-time do not and indeed cannot exist.

That is unless, of course, the good folks at Nature.com are really shills for the extremist, fanatical Christian right that is really running this country in concert with the Jews. I’ll have to ask Hillary what’s up with all this.

National Health Care is better

Just ask these parents in Australia:

Family gets bill for return of body

A FAMILY has been sent a bill to cover the cost of returning their three-year-old son’s body from Newcastle, where he had been sent after a hospital bed could not be found in Wollongong.
The boy was flown almost 200km from Wollongong hospital (on the New South Wales South Coast) to Newcastle (on the NSW Central Coast) to find a bed after his parents were told it was the only intensive care spot left in NSW.

Matthew Starkey, 3, arrived at Wollongong hospital at 7.30am, but it took staff more than five hours to find him an ICU bed at Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital, his father Robert said yesterday. Wollongong did not have the specialist facilities to deal with the boy’s condition.
Advertisement:

He died and the family were left to pay a $390 bill to have his body brought home.

On September 11 last year Matthew was placed in an ICU bed at Newcastle because no other children’s beds were available in NSW.

And while Mr Starkey said he could not fault the care his son received, he said facilities at Wollongong were inadequate.

“The doctors are not to blame, it’s the bureaucrats,” he said.

I’m getting the warm fuzzies already.

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