The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: July 28, 2018

Photo by Tyler Neu at Flickr. (Click picture for link)

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: July 28, 2018

Roller Coaster Madness!

There it is, folks — the official POV video of a ride on the old classic wooden roller coaster “The Beast” at King’s Island in Cincinnati. Tomorrow, I’ll be taking the real ride with my grandson as we spend a day together before school begins. The Beast, in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest wooden roller coaster in the world (7,359 feet), is an exhilarating, old-fashioned rush of pleasure, one of many we’ll be enjoying over the course of the day.

I love roller coasters, and it has been way too long since I’ve enjoyed a day of riding. My favorite park is Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio and the best coaster I’ve ridden thus far is this one, the “Millennium Force.”

Their newest one looks like a winner, too. It’s called “Steel Vengeance,” and here is the official POV video of this “hyper-hybrid” coaster. Vengeance breaks 10 world records including tallest hybrid roller coaster at 205 feet tall, steepest drop on a hybrid roller coaster at 90 degrees and most airtime on any roller coaster at 27.2 seconds.

Well, those great Cedar Point coasters (and I’ve only given you a taste of my favorites) will have to wait for another day. But there are new things to try out at King’s Island too, including including the 230 foot tall “Diamondback,” which has ranked among the top 10 steel roller coasters in the world in annual polls.


I have been thinking about extricating myself from Facebook recently. Facebook had the worst day in U.S. stock market history on Thursday when its shares plunged 19%, a staggering $119 billion in market value. Mark Zuckerberg himself lost $16 billion. That, my friends, is a bad day.

The precipitous roller coaster-like drop happened after Facebook CFO “David Wehner said on a conference call with investors that Facebook is “putting privacy first” after the Cambridge Analytica scandal triggered a wave of horrible press, customer angst and regulatory scrutiny around the world,” according to Fox News.

I’m happy to hear they are focusing on this, but I think FB is to be blamed for allowing a great deal of harm to happen through its lack of attention to this in the past few years. We may never know how much damage to our democracy has happened because sinister parties took advantage of social media. And who knows how much of your information and mine has been passed along in ways we might never approve if we knew.

I enjoy using FB to keep up with old friends, communicate with family, let people know what’s happening on Internet Monk, and host the iMonk Community group. But I’m not sure it’s worth it any more.

However, here is an article that warns about some things to consider if you delete FB.

What do you think?
How are you feeling about Facebook and social media these days?


From ABC News:

A Colorado resident shared a video of a group of “amazing” kids who returned a wallet they found in the homeowner’s driveway.

Jamie Carlton shared a video that was recorded July 17 on his home’s smart doorbell system of three young kids returning the wallet that had $700 cash inside.

The kids approached the front door and upon ringing the smart doorbell appeared surprised by the automated recording that asked them to leave a message.

“We found your wallet outside of your car and we just thought we would give it back to you,” a young child said. “I’m gonna put it over here so no one takes any money.”

…”If this doesn’t renew or at least refresh your faith in humanity you need help. These kids are amazing, we would love to find them to reward them and thank them. Their parents should be so proud of them. Any help finding them would be great.”

A relative of two of the kids saw the clip on Facebook and put their mom in touch with the homeowner.

Carlton later added to his post that he has been in touch with the mother who he called “a nice lady” with “such great kids.”


From RNS:

How will Pope Francis handle the 50th anniversary of “Humanae Vitae,” Pope Paul VI’s encyclical continuing the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on artificial birth control? Will the occasion be cause for joyous celebration or quiet commemoration? Why does it matter?

The answer is twofold. First, Pope Paul’s decree, titled “Human Life in Our Day” and promulgated on July 25, 1968, remains controversial. Debate and dissent have always been part of the Catholic Church, but history recalls an unprecedented tsunami of protest when Paul published “Humanae Vitae” (HV) 50 years ago. The dissent persists.

Second, Paul’s decree banning artificial contraception as intrinsically evil remains part of Catholic moral doctrine, and the pope is the only one with authority to modify defined doctrine, either by his own hand or in consultation with others.

Nonetheless, HV remains both controversial and vulnerable, based as it is on a version of natural law that many scientists consider outdated and incomplete.The late Catholic scientist Thomas Hayes, for example, contended that HV’s definition of the reproductive act ignores the female role and warrants reconsideration. And many theologians warn that preserving an outdated, unscientific stance on birth control will weaken the Catholic Church’s credibility on all sexual issues, not just birth control.


From the New York Times:

A female duck in Minnesota has about six dozen ducklings in her care, a remarkable image that an amateur wildlife photographer captured on a recent trip to Lake Bemidji, about 150 miles northwest of Duluth, Minn.

…Mama is a common merganser, a duck found on freshwater lakes. Females can lay up to a dozen or so eggs, according to the National Audubon Society.

But, in a twist, common mergansers don’t incubate only their own eggs. Experts say females often “dump” their eggs in the nests of other birds in an effort to spread out their offspring and increase the chances of survival.

…Some birds, including common mergansers and ostriches, raise their babies in a day care system that’s called a crèche, experts say.

In a crèche, females leave their ducklings in the care of one female — often an older female who is experienced at raising babies, said David Rave, an area wildlife manager who oversees the Bemidji region for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The females at Lake Bemidji, many of which are related, lay eggs that hatch around the same time, he said. Afterward, he said, the adult ducks go off to molt their feathers, leaving their broods in the care of a matriarchal female.


Why does rain smell so good?

With regard to gender inclusivity, which Bible translation is best?

What is the Democratic story?

Is “Mission Impossible” the best blockbuster franchise right now?

Which water is best to drink for your health?

How did such a simple song with only three chords became the archetypal rock anthem?


All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (Section One)

On this day in 1868, following its ratification by the necessary three-quarters of U.S. states, the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing to African Americans citizenship and all its privileges, was officially adopted into the U.S. Constitution. Here is commentary by T. J. Stiles to mark this important occasion:

This month marks the 150th anniversary of the Constitution as we know it — the glorious, flawed, unexpected moment when our basic law was transformed into a charter of human rights. Its glories define us. But so do its flaws.

I refer to the 14th Amendment, whose ratification was certified on July 28, 1868.

It shapes almost every issue we debate today: immigration, racial and gender equality, voter suppression, free speech, corporations and federal power. Its history destroys the notion that freedom grew steadily over time — that the founders bestowed liberty on white men, which was gradually extended to others. Rather, the amendment reinvented freedom. It established birthright citizenship, required “due process” and “equal protection” of the law for everyone, and put the federal government in the business of policing liberty. It removed race and ethnicity from the legal definition of American identity.

Before the 14th Amendment, the Bill of Rights protected almost no one. In Barron v. Baltimore, Chief Justice John Marshall wrote for a unanimous Supreme Court in 1833 that those original amendments restrained only the federal government, not the states, and so did not guarantee individual freedoms. Through the incorporation doctrine, the 14th made the Bill of Rights apply to the states, giving those first amendments the powerful role they play today….

…Before the Civil War, states had restricted speech and the press (often singling out abolitionist literature), imposed religious and racial tests for voting and funded Christian denominations; Connecticut and Massachusetts established official state churches for many years. One of the 14th Amendment’s drafters, John A. Bingham, seized the moment to stop this, declaring his intention “to arm the Congress of the United States, by the consent of the people, with power to enforce the Bill of Rights.” The constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar argues that the framers’ comments show how even the Second Amendment must be read in light of the 14th. All in all, this was a revolution — a broad reimagining of individual rights and federal power.

…The 14th Amendment is felt by all of us, every day. If it did not invent freedom, it transformed and strengthened it, codifying a universal definition of individual rights and national identity that has been an example to the world.


Thirty years ago, in mid-1988, a super-group in music was accidentally formed. George Harrison had a new album called Cloud Nine, and was preparing to release one of its singles, “This is Love.” The record company wanted a never-before-heard track for the B-side of the single. At that time, Harrison had been hanging out in his studio with some friends: Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Roy Orbison. They put together a great track called “Handle with Care,” which the producer knew immediately was too good for a B-side. “Can’t we make an album of stuff like this?” they asked.

Soon a unique band was formed. They determined not to use their own names, but to work together in an ego-free collaborative effort in which everybody sang, everybody wrote, everybody produced — and had great fun doing so.

The result? The Traveling Wilburys, a best-selling album, and international success.

117 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: July 28, 2018

  1. All depends on whether the Clinton Machine (Hillary in 2020, 2024, 2028, 2032, 2036, 2040…) maintains its chokehold on The Party or not.

    Back in 2016 I commented that ALL three front-runners at the time (Cruz, Trump, and Hillary) looked and sounded like the first few chapters of Rise-and-Fall-of-a-Dictator history books.


  2. Totally agree! He should have kept Sebastian Shaw. Also, I’m just not a fan of the Disney sequels. The Legends series is much more faithful to the characters.

    I love the Ewoks. I also love K-2SO and B-B8 (even though he’s from evil Disney).


  3. Speaking of spinning… I jumped out of a plane last week with my 18 year old daughter. At 55 I found the thrill feeling gone, replaced by feeling uncomfortable as the wind hit me square in the face. Once the parachute deployed I found I was experiencing a lot of queasiness… motion sickness… and told my tandem guy to chill a bit on the circular spin stuff. Once on the ground my ears were clogged for days… The landing was very gentle though…


  4. Cary Grant – Arsenic and Old Lace …and Mr Blandings builds his Dream House… also big Marx Bros fan


  5. Hi Joel –

    we only lived in the area for 4 years, right after we were married, so 40 years ago now 🙂 Our first apt was between the library and Nova High. Then we moved up to Lewiston for a while. Husband worked at Whiskeytown seasonally, and for a couple of years we lived in a mobile home right at the junction of 299 and French Gulch road. Our last place was in a mobile home park in Old Shasta.

    The Lord is with you no matter what. I hope your material loss is minimal. My church in Santa Rosa is praying for you, and all threatened by the fires.



  6. I love crazy-funny songs from those years, too.

    mares-eat-oats-and-does-eat-oats-and-little-lambs-eat-ivy 🙂


  7. Agreed! Lucas made a terrible mistake, including replacing Sebastian Shaw in the scene at the end of the movie.

    I completely understand the crying. There is something transcendent about it….


  8. Dana, I’m also from Redding. We live in the Panorama neighborhood off Lake Blvd, but we’re evacuated a few days ago. Haven’t heard if our home is still there or not. Praying for you and your family and all of Redding during this horrible disaster. At any rate, it’s nice to see a Redding homie here on IM!


  9. Radagast,

    Thanks for your understanding, and your concern to encourage my wife and myself along the path of God.


  10. Hey JoelG! I was on twitter also for almost all of two weeks. Couldn’t stand how it made me want to increase my “followers” and how some people use twitter like they use a steel chair in Pro Rasslin’ – basically to finish off an opponent without much effort.

    Ok. Odd analogy.


  11. ROTJ – and without Vader’s annoying “No!” that Lucas added in. Talk about beating the audience over the head!

    Fun fact – I cry at the end of Jedi – every..single..time.


  12. They’re stupid if they don’t seize the opportunity to gain more seats in Congress by ditching the Clintons and moving back towards the center. Oh, and using the Maria Butina indictment for all it’s worth.


  13. Kennywood in Pittsburgh is a smaller venue full of wooden rollercoasters. The Jack Rabbit actually has a double dip that causes you to leave your seat… much fun….


  14. I grew up first 11 years of my life on Long Island in Plainview… our water tasted great…. my grandmother lived in Ridgewood (Queens)… her water you had to let sit before drinking it….


  15. Eeyore -Unification and procreation – need to be open to life if it occurs… not as dire as you paint it…


  16. Robert,

    I understand and sympathize. From my understanding I believe there might be wiggle room here… meaning there is a shorter time to go through for marriages that were not performed in a Catholic Mass (this came up when a friend in the neighborhood was looking for an annulment and my Priest was able to do an expedited annulment because of similar circumstances). Of course though I understand there are some painful memories that might be better not revisited…

    Peace Robert….


  17. Yes, I know there is a generational difference, but are those under 40 as likely to vote as those over 40? In the past, they weren’t; has that changed?


  18. > many Americans don’t like the word socialism

    If they are under 40 they don’t care; this seems to be very consistent – even in the Midwest.


  19. Dana, who would have thought? Love little nuggets like that. She was eloquent and lovely as I am sure is true of all Montana ladies. She had a pretty good career especially in the 30’s.


  20. Re: the Fourteenth Amendment: I want to point out that many Americans are currently opposed to birthright citizenship as it is granted under the Fourteenth and the historical judicial interpretative precedents of that Amendment, and probably will not celebrate the American citizenship of those they call “anchor babies”. They would like to amend the Fourteenth itself to eliminate birthright citizenship. I strongly disagree with them, just to be clear about my position.


  21. I like tame roller coasters. My husband and I and our best friends when we lived in SoCal went on Space Mountain three times in a row, back in about 1985; that was the most roller-coastering I ever wanted to do. My first roller coaster was an old wooden one from 1918 in the Columbia Gardens, just outside Butte, Montana. The park was operated by the Anaconda Copper Co. magnates for its workers and closed in 1973, after which the latest pit mine gobbled up the site. That has always been my favorite, because I experienced it as a child with all the wonder and adventure it entailed.



  22. Grateful for the prayers. A couple of small fires broke out a few miles from me yesterday, but that situation is pretty well in hand. I don’t hear as many helicopters and tanker planes this morning – we have a full reservoir nearby, easy for them to get water.

    For 4 years we lived on the west side of Redding and in a couple of places along the highway running west. Those places are now ash…

    Even if your home doesn’t burn, there’s a lot of emotional trauma among the residents. I only worked once at the Jr High in the community near me most affected by the fires last year – I couldn’t go back, too much acting out by the kids. They were suffering a lot, and took it out on the sub; I don’t have the wherewithal to deal with that, so left it to others better equipped temperamentally.

    Do please keep praying.



  23. Yes, but one also needs to be mindful of the political habits of the American populace. For instance, many Americans don’t like the word socialism, and hearing it will shut them down, but they don’t mind the actual practice of socialism, as long as it’s given a name like Social Security. As John Lennon sang way back in the late sixties, “You say you want a revolution…but if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow…”


  24. At the same time, a Young and Old Socialists Party is not going to play in middle America, even in districts open to a flip toward the Democrats. The Democrats have a narrow path to follow, and it will be different one for the different regions they want to take. There are no one or two constituencies they can depend on to win elections, the way Trump did; they have to court several different constituencies at once, and that’s a difficult thing to do without seeming to be insincerely pitching to only the audience on-hand.


  25. “Ghost Protocol”? “Rogue Nation”? I can’t remember a thing about them, not even their titles.


  26. Best movie of all time? That’s tough. My top 5:

    The Right Stuff
    The Straight Story
    Return of the Jedi (the original w/o added cgi)


  27. The rapid fire dialog in the 30s and 40s comedies is a lost art. No pause to wait to see if you got the line, or got the joke, just line after line.

    Katherine Hepburn
    Rosalind Russell


  28. Adam, I concur, and I also:
    use Facebook for mostly 4 things:
    – tenuous connections with a few far-flung friends and family
    – organizing cricket
    – putting things across people’s plates they might never otherwise encounter (like posts from here. Very few of my fb christians are outside of/free from the insular, white evangelical/fundamentalist bubble, particularly it’s media. I’m fairly confident at their churches and through their media choices, they rarely if ever, encounter a principled Christian critique of CCM, or megachurches, or penal substitution or YEC, or Zionism etc.
    – Research and understanding of the same bubble above. (I don’t waste too much time at their preferred media…) Sometimes I engage, but more often it’s just noting the newest fad, the latest justification or excuse or exaggerated, selfish grievance that’s raging. And I record and document a lot of it (as a teaching tool someday, names changed of course) But I have a growing trove of nasty conversations, exaggerations, lies, hellish memes, incitements, butchered Scripture interpretations, odious theology, etc…

    I suspect the way I use FB irritates my “friends”… they don’t want to be bothered with “politics” or deep theology – requires to much thinking and self-evaluation. But I have no intention of changing and putting my kids and other private life all over the platform.


  29. Radagast, Rick Ro., I forgot the Little Rascals , who really got to know 1950’s to early 1960’s TV when there was 2 or 3 stations . Little Rascals were always on TV and quite popular. Of course 3 Stooges were in same category , but back then we would watch about anything on TV. At least it was not hard to make a choice.

    William Powell and Myrna Loy , witty banter and an era long gone. The Thin Man now would be a horror film about starving someone to death.

    Old movies are like time machines.


  30. Love, LOVE the rollercoaster rides. I can do coasters still, but have lost all desire to do anything spinning. Just can’t handle those any more.

    But how can you post stuff on rollercoasters without referencing THIS song…???

    (And especially the “Burt Sugarman Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack intro” version!!)


  31. William Powell and Myrna Loy.
    Abbott and Costello.
    The Marx Brothers.
    Laurel and Hardy.
    Buster Keaton.
    Charlie Chaplin.


  32. –> “It did not restore my faith in humanity…”

    Yeah, not sure what it means when someone’s “doing the right thing” becomes so significant that it restores another person’s faith in humanity.

    Imagine living in Syria, where “Hey, my neighborhood didn’t get mortared today” becomes a blessing.


  33. Oh, pshaw!

    I was about ready to give up on the MI franchise after forgettable episodes II and III, but I absolutely LOVED “Ghost Protocol” and “Rogue Nation.” I’ve found it kinda amazing that the latter sequels have actually improved.
    (This is the same experience I had with the Fast & Furious series, too. The latter sequels are incredibly more entertaining and memorable than the first couple of sequels.


  34. Hate rollercoasters, personally. Plus, my daughter got a concussion on one and took awhile to recover, and the ride people didn’t even help her, or care. (it was probably her 3rd/4th one in her young life, so, yes it was)

    Our morality/morals/ethics cannot keep up with science. Just because we can…doesn’t me we should.

    Love history; have 3 history majors in the family (children) with all different emphases; can’t get enough of it.

    Celebrating the 150th Birthday of the Constitution! Thanks:)


  35. Radagast, I am an old movie fan because I am old. I think a few of the Road movies with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were great. Going way back Harold Lloyd was great in physical comedy as well as believe it or not Buster Keaton. Keaton’s film the General, I think that is the name, about the stolen train chase during the Civil War is remarkable for the stunts he did. Charlie Chaplin in City Lights etc. The Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant who was good at comedy of the period.. Duck Soup, but Groucho on TV the best. My Girl Friday .

    Red Skelton, Jack Benny and Bob Hope all made some good movies for the period. Of course it is all getting so dated and you actually have to follow somewhat of a plot but many of the films did show that actors could act and be funny.

    Of course my bar is set low, I still find the original Dumb and Dumber to be great.

    It is dated but Cary Grant did I was a War Bride movie that was funny for its time.

    Most of the comedy of that era was “witty” but again I love Dumb and Dumber.

    I listed movies more than individuals, , what are your picks?


  36. @ Christiane: I’m sorry. I hit post too quickly to realize that I had misspelled your name. I pressed the right keys, but the “a” didn’t register.


  37. Robert, my mother had that same surgery several years ago at the age of 79. All went well as I’m confident that it will for your wife.


  38. I completely agree. And if I have to see another baby lying on one of those mats with the 0-9 months written out with their current month circled…I guess I’ll be un-following a good share of my friends hah!!

    Also, me personally, I don’t get nearly as uptight about privacy as probably most. I honestly don’t care if someone out there in cyberspace happens to know what town I grew up in, or what restaurant I ate at for dinner. Seriously, what are they going to do with that information? Launch a sting operation at those locations? How will simply having that knowledge result in any noticeable impact on me personally? Privacy is overrated. (unless people are publicly posting their social security number, bank account/credit card numbers, in which case that’s a different story…)


  39. The first marriage was in an evangelical church, but the important issue, in my understanding, is not whether the vows were made in a Roman Catholic church or not, but if they were undertaken with a true understanding of and commitment to the nature of Christian marriage. My wife insists that it was undertaken by her in that spirit, so in her opinion it was a true Christian marriage that went wrong, which is not something that can be annulled. But aside from that, even opening up the question of the status of her former marriage is a hurtful and emotionally traumatic idea to her, especially when that very personal matter would be adjudicated by practical strangers with no personal knowledge of her or her ex-husband.


  40. For me there’s a *huge* difference between the older roller coasters with the single bar across your lap and the more modern ones with the brace that comes down over your shoulders and across your entire front area. I feel 100x more secure in the latter ones and have always preferred the overall experience of them.

    I once sat next to someone with the horizontal bar across our laps, and because they were fairly large, the bar didn’t really keep me snugly in place, and I was honestly scared for my life the entire ride — pushing with my legs the best I could to keep from flying around within the cart and over the bar….never again.


  41. Also Robert – there is a difference if you were originally married in a Catholic Church or not. If your fist marriage was outside the Church the process is much shorter.


  42. The “classic” RC theological position is that sex can only be “sanctified” if its purpose is procreation. Sex with no reasonable chance of procreation, even between married couples, is suspect.


  43. A co-worker was on a roller coaster with his wife when he began to feel nauseous. He was in the center seat of a three seat row with his wife to one side and a complete stranger on the other. He thought to himself, ‘Do I throw up on someone who I’m going to see every day for the rest of my life or this guy who I will never see after today?’ Any guesses as to who got hosed?


  44. Of course. I hope her surgeon is excellent, and her recovery is swift and uncomplicated. As Christine said, try not to worry too much.


  45. Here’s the wonderful EXTENDED version of “End of the Line” by the Travelling Wilburys, which I want to be played at the end of my memorial service. God love ’em all.


  46. As an apostate Southern Baptist I have to confess I’ve never really understood the Roman Catholic prohibitions on birth control. The community in which I was raised was staunchly anti-abortion of course. I remember asking about abortion as a kid in Sunday School , just questions you have as a kid, and being told, “Abortion is murder!” End of discussion. Birth control never came up because the subject of sex never came up.

    I understand the arguments about abortion. (I have an opinion but that’s not really the point here.) I intuit that both contraception and abortion are tied together in some way for Roman Catholics but confess ignorance as to why folks who are not ready emotionally or financially to raise kids would be encouraged to do so. Not having kids because you realize you’re not ready would seem to me to be the height of self-awareness and maturity.


  47. We saw fewer ducks in the small pond near our suburban Texas home. They had been such a welcome sight and great diversion, sitting pondside. The authorities pulled an 8 foot gator out of there. Now the ducks are back.


  48. …it is no longer the case that Catholic families take up an entire pew at mass, with some notable exceptions.

    In retrospect, the most “notable exception” I knew came across as Catholic Quiverfull, with the same Quiverfull baggage except with Rosaries instead of Gothard/API. I lost contact with them between Kids 5 & 6, but by then the wife/mother was regressing into almost a little girl herself, taking refuge in Devotions Devotions Devotions Mary Mary Mary Mary Mary. I don’t see how this could end well, especially when the kids (more girls than boys) hit their teens and try for undivided attention.


  49. Robert, have you spoken to a priest or a bishop about this?

    The Church receives ‘cases’ and reviews them on an individual basis, so I know you would get a hearing. No, you don’t have to be ‘famous’ or ‘rich’ to have the Church help you. Just talk to someone who knows how you begin the process.

    You and your wife deserve consideration.


  50. “What Is the Democratic Story?”

    First, they have got to get rid of all the Thin Grey Ponytails (Sixties Radical types) and especially The Clinton Machine.

    Otherwise we’re going to see an Eternity of Trumps — Hillary in 2020, Hillary in 2024, Hillary in 2028, Hillary in 2032, Hillary in 2036…


  51. Some other things about Facebook is that so many other apps REQUIRE Facebook IDs to get on them. So Facebook is the Gatekeeper and prerequisite for a good chunk of Social Media. I’ve had to spend months to years to find email addresses for someone while everyone choruses “Just go on Facebook! EVERYBODY’S ON FACEBOOK!”

    In Cyberspace, there’s a saying about free services:
    “If you’re not paying for the product, YOU ARE THE PRODUCT.”
    Facebook made ten-figure profits every year (making Zuckerberg a multi-Billionare in his early Twenties) buy data-mining all its members and postings (using AI algorithms even their programmers don’t understand) and selling the collated/analyzed data to anyone who’d buy — advertisers, spammers, maybe even the NSA and Putin’s FSB.

    Now for the Zuck himself:

    Making your first Billion at 23 and becoming a Billionaire seventy times over by age 30 is going to kinda warp your value system to start with. Especially over a foundation of possible Aspie traits plus Silicon Valley culture (a secular version of Pneumatic Gnosticism).

    And his performance in front of Congress — not only did he seem so young cartoonists drew him in a high chair or booster seat, he seemed so completely out-of-it — “What am I doing in Meatspace? Instead of in The Cloud? (computers computers computers…) Why are all these bags of Meat asking me all these questions? And not in Binary Code? (computers computers computers computers computers…)” He was so out-of-it he didn’t even come across as human — like some sort of android dipping into the Uncanny Valley. (And I’ve been informed of hilarious mash-ups on YouTube — redubbed videos of Zuck vs Congress — that revolve around this point.) Or maybe the David Icke fanboys are right and Zuck really IS a shapeshifting alien lizard Illuminatus in a human mask…


  52. NYC tap water is actually high quality in every way, taste included, as long as the building and public works pipes that lead to the tap are don’t mess it up. The reservoirs are in upstate NY, and regarding the taste comparison you are referring to, the water may have been bottled at the source rather the tap. It was NYC tap water, but at
    the other end from the tap.


  53. I pretty much do the same. I have a fairly regular winnowing of Facebook friends. If you are being an idiot, or get too excited politically, etc etc, you are out. But Facebook has also led to the rekindling of very old friendships, brand new ones, etc. Especially ad an adult immigrant, this is very helpful. In November I plan to visit an old school acquaintance, now friend – I live in Saskatoon, he in Geneva, and we went to school together in SA. And my friendship with Michael Bell is because of Facebook (and Messenger) too.

    Like most other things, tools are what you make of them – and not every tool is for everyone. I can pretty much guarantee that if you were swayed by weird things on Facebook, you would also have been swayed by nonsense on TV, Radio, your neighbour, your colleague etc.

    Through time I have realized I have a yendemcy to get very upset at nonsense. It didn’t start with Facebook. I remember getting upset like that in the mid eighties at elementary school. So I pracrice self- control, manage the situations I get involved in, and teach myself Stoic discipline. In the end, the problem is always in the mirror.


  54. During the Designer Bottled Water fad in the Eighties, someone bottled NYC city water under the name “New York Tap — the Drink of Millions”. And it actually compared favorably with all the Perriers out there.


  55. I ask for prayers for my wife, who will be undergoing surgery for hyperparathyroidism early Monday morning. As I understand it, this is a relatively low risk procedure, but in my wife’s case, because of complicating health issue including immune system diseases, the risk of any procedure is increased.


  56. Hi, Christiane,
    On the issue of divorce and remarriage, which applies to my wife and me, there is no such room for the personal decisions of conscience. If the Church does not grant an annulment, or if for whatever personal reason the couple chooses not to seek one (in our case, such an undertaking would lead to emotional trauma my wife is not willing to undergo, despite her interest in and affection for the Roman Catholic Church), then the couple’s individual conscience can never override the Church’s teaching that they are not considered, and cannot become, full communicant members. In this case, and others regarding human sexuality, the Church chooses to replace rather than only form conscience.


  57. Hello Robert F.

    here is something from Pope Francis that may explain where the Church is at: 🙂

    “”I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion,” he wrote. “But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness.”

    On thorny issues such as contraception, Francis stressed that a couple’s individual conscience — not dogmatic rules imposed across the board — must guide their decisions and the church’s pastoral practice.

    “We have been called to form consciences, not replace to them,” he said.”


  58. Agreed Dan. There’s a lot of grandstanding on FB. It can be very depressing for those of us who live in reality.


  59. ‘Extremism’ doesn’t work too well in Catholicism because of the respect for ‘reason’ as a gift from God that has to be considered and honored. ‘Cult’ stuff works with people who don’t recognize reason as a gift from God meant to help them work things out.

    I don’t much get straight ‘fundamentalism’ because I don’t come from that background, so I might have mis-understood people who did come from that background.


  60. Note: I don’t know if Humane Vitae speaks to issues of divorce and remarriage, but I consider the fundamentalist mentality of that document regarding contraception to be of a piece with the teachings that do speak to those issues.


  61. But some of the rules that grow out of the RC version of fundamentalism sourced in Humanae Vitae and other church teaching keep people like me outside. As a man married to a formerly divorced woman, my wife and I are disqualified from being full participant and communicant members in the Church, unless we undertake and qualify for an annulment, which we are unwilling to do because of the emotional trauma such an undertaking would cause my spouse. In my view, a fundamentalist position of the Church, one that Bill Donohue and the like-minded cardinals endorse with full-throated support, is causing division that keeps people like us, who might otherwise be faithful and active members, outside the Church. There are real life destructive and divisive effects to the the fundamentalist positions that do prevail in the RCC as a result of Humanae Vitae et al.


  62. Sure, but at this point in my life I have met Fundamentalist if every stripe. And watched Fundamentalism grow out of the most straight forward ideas.

    The issue with Fundamentalism is the Fundamentalist, the person who will find Fundamentalism in whatever fields they find themselves.

    So “but in the extreme” arguements don’t concern me anymore; as the problem is The Extremist, and hopefully an institution has the wisdom and infrastructure to sideline him or her. Overall I see the Catholic Church as doing a reasonable job at that difficult task.


  63. I don’t watch enough movies to have an idea of what the best blockbuster franchise would be, but I’ve seen a few of the “Mission: Impossible” installments, and if that’s the best, then things are really pathetic in movieland. There is nothing in any of the MI films I’ve seen that is in the least memorable or distinctive, they merge one into another, churning out one hackneyed generic scene after the next. And where are the memorable villains? Nice, non-GGI stunts, yeah, but none of them sticks in memory either.


  64. But Humanae Vitae and other official teachings definitely give room for Bill Donohue’s Catholic League and others like them to ply their fundamentalist version of Catholicism as the only acceptable form, particularly since it has many powerful allies among the cardinals. That, in turn, presents a public image of the Roman Catholic Church that, along with the continuing sexual abuse scandals, is a big turn-off for many outsiders, especially the young, and has led to a flood of members leaving the Church.


  65. We all make privacy decisions every day, but most people have likely not fully considered what they mean. I really like the IRL podcast by Veronica Belmont. It’s in its 3rd season now. These days our online life *is* real life. In truth, since most of us, at least, are real human beings in any context, it always has been. The “On Being” interview with danah boyd is another one I’ve heard recently that stands out in my mind on that point. As someone who has been interacting “online” going back to the days of dial-up BBS and has had a presence on the Internet longer than many. that’s always been clear to me.

    With that said, I’m one of those who was never interested in facebook. Even ignoring the original intent behind the platform, I correctly understood from early descriptions that their algorithms collected data about its subscribers specifically to find possible connections and recommend “friends” who knew each other in the past ways to connect. I know my wife has enjoyed that aspect of their service. Me? It utterly creeped me out. I absolutely do not want people from my past who are not in my life today (virtually everyone) and most likely are not thinking about me at all reminded that I exist. People who would find such a “feature” attractive experienced a very different childhood and early adulthood than I did. As I’ve watched their approach to data mining develop over the years, I’ve been happy I made that choice. Yes, all companies do it. I find Google’s approach and practices slightly better, though still problematic. If you’re going to choose to use an android smartphone, though, they are pretty inescapable.

    I continually reevaluate my use of twitter. Like most of its users who aren’t Nazis, I tend to have a love/hate relationship with the platform itself. It can be very helpful at finding a community of affinity, especially when you are trying to get a handle on something like a very late dx of autism. It can also be a pretty horrible place at times. Its algorithm for suggesting followers (which most people ignore much of the time since it’s more of a sidebar thing) is based on current interests and connections. It’s also not a particularly good algorithm (and sometimes spectacularly bad). Most people I know find people they want to follow through people they already follow or by reading particular hashtags of personal interest. The relationship between users is also asynchronous. You follow people’s tweets and they often may not follow you. And vice versa. It’s not really a mutual relationship unless you choose to interact with someone directly. And follow/unfollow, muting, and blocking are pretty routine normal things. It suits me a lot more than the facebook model.

    I love rollercoasters and similar rides. And pogo sticks. And swinging really high. And pacing. And jump ropes. And all the different things I did as a child and continue in various ways into adulthood. Like most autistic people, I have a mix of sensory hyper and hypo sensitivities. And the vestibular and proprioceptive senses are clearly ones where I’ve always been hyposensitive (and clumsy) as well as sensory seeking, just as vision is one where I’m extremely hypersensitive. I love pretty much any of them, even the ones like the Titan that have enough extended G-force (though I think I read they modified it at some point) that I felt like I was getting close to passing out. I ride them less these days given my older body, but still enjoy them. At Astroworld as a pre-teen and early teen, I loved their old electric rollercoaster mostly because all the people were at the new ones. I could ride it, get off, run through the line, and get right back on the next train. Over and over and over again.


  66. The movie review of Mission Impossible got me thinking of one of my ongoing topics I throw in when there is a conversion lull. Who do you think is the biggest movie star of all time. My opinion is Harrison Ford , based on the blockbuster and influence movies he has been in.

    Then my number 2 could be perhaps Tom Cruise, which is surprising or maybe Clint Eastwood. I have no strong opinion on # 2. Certainly John Wayne is up there also .

    On the female side I am trying to come up with the biggest movie star of all time? My list would be M. Monroe, S. Loren and Betty Grable. My list shows my age for sure but I do not have a female star that jumps out at me like H. Ford.

    I think Dean Martin was a bigger star than Frank Sinatra.

    Again I am talking biggest star, not great actor, best movie just star quality that brings people in to theater and is many blockbuster or well known movie.

    So any thoughts on this subject? It ties in with my who is a legend in their field conversation void filler. Baseball biggest legend, Babe Ruth, Basketball M. Jordan, Football Joe Montana or T. Brady, Hockey Grezezky?, NASCAR D. Earhardt, Singers, E. Presley Madonna.

    Again I know these are age related ratings but I do think it is interesting as all these things effect our culture.

    There is a diverse group here and if there is no feedback I will assume that as usual J. Barry is 100% correct in his thinking and the streak continues.

    And now the big question, best movie all time?

    Of course , must state again this is a generational list as most under 40 would not know some on my list. I just remembered Tom Hanks, he is up there also.


  67. The duck story really caught my attention. When I was going through a very difficult time in my life, I used to spend hours at a duck pond close to my apartment. For each new mother, I would count the number of ducks then keep track of them as they grew up. It was a pleasant distraction from my life, but at times could be depressing. Most babies don’t make it to adulthood. Each week I would see the numbers drop, from 9 to 8 to 6…finally down to about 2-4 by the time they were ready to mate.

    In all my years counting ducks, I never remember anything close to the number in the article, amazing!

    In retrospect, I at times tried to spiritualize my experiences with ducks, saying something about the presence of God, but it always comes up short. I decided not to spiritualize, just enjoy.


  68. > functional Protestants WRT church authority

    I have a great deal of respect for the Catholic church, especially locally.

    It is their adventures into specious Natural Law logic where they lose me; I cannot follow them there.

    Which is OK, for me anyway, there seems a IMO healthy culture of holding the rules loosely.


  69. I’m sorry. Rollercoasters violate one of my rules for living: “Anything that makes you want to throw up is not fun.”


  70. Tap water in the city of Baltimore is excellent. When I lived there, I drank it straight from the tap, with ice. The tap water in the county where I now live tastes like an over-chlorinated swimming pool. It’s OK filtered, but out of the tap? Bleeeech.


  71. “What Is the Democratic Story?”

    Pundits may make it out as if there is some great internal strife; but that is what Pundits do for a living.

    Sitting at a folding table in a moldly union hall drinking the world’s worst coffee [The Party often times feels very Lutheran] next to nobody is talking about such a division. It is widely accepted that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is the arc of The Party, and she is someone who is positive, and funny, and [yes] pointed [which makes Mr. Brooks article seem a bit off tone, unless he simply cannot hear her in those terms].

    Also not sure our times are all that unprecedented.

    “””Maybe the right narrative could be rebuilding social mobility for the young””” Yes, Mr. Brooks, that IS the narrative.

    “””People are doing this at the local level, and we need a series of unifying projects to make national progress. “”” Mr. Brooks, Mr. Brooks, you know full where there are places that do not want to participate, which is why it doesn’t happen. You absolutely know this. I have knocked doors in those places [I wonder when was the last time Mr. Brooks knocked doors?], those places where people come to the door with suspicion, they glare at you. Those are sad places.

    Fortunately, people are the reason I have any hope at all. Public Hearings, or worse TV news, make one ask: “Where is the big red button? someone just push it already”. But going door-to-door in most places – you are there interrupting their day – and people are friendly, notably rational, curious. Last week I got to help an older lady figure out how to add coolant to her new car. Someone else wanted to know if I had seen the Mr. Rogers documentary It is a great experience, and hopeful experiences are precious these days.

    Mr. Brooks is correct about one thing; Hope is the best message. I feel so sad The Church has largely forgotten that.


  72. “Catholics aren’t members of a cult where their own reasoning and their own personal situations are to be sacrificed to some requirement that demands obeisance regardless of known harmful consequences.”

    Unfortunately, Humanae Vitae makes *precisely* such a demand. No birth control other than rhythm, no matter the circumstances.

    And I’ve often noted that at least here in America, most of the Catholics I have met have been functional Protestants WRT church authority. I don’t blame them one bit. 😉


  73. “””three young kids returning the wallet that had $700 cash inside.”””

    I left my wallet on the bus. Someone’s kid picked it up and took it home, when the parent found it they mailed it back to me, all contents intact.

    It did not restore my faith in humanity as I accept that most humans are decent people. But it was nice.


  74. “””Is “Mission Impossible” the best blockbuster franchise right now?”””

    Define “best”. While the article hits me with a paywall, all I can think is: He is climbing the outside of a skyscraper, AGAIN? And how are the police not receiving a deluge of phone calls, “Hey, there is a guy on the McSmith Building!”

    Then there is building a super computer underwater . . . . for some reason, and needing to get that harddrive while dodging the robotic arm… what? Have you ever seen a supercomputer?

    No way it is the “best”, at least add some extraterrestrials for story arc credibility [then you can hand-wave blaba blah about how their technology is blah blah].


  75. When comes up the issue of Catholic teachings on ‘birth control’, I remember growing up surrounded by families that took up entire pews in Church . . . the Hagans had twelve, the Beans had seven, etc. etc. etc. and that was a long time ago. Then, after college, my good friend Anne became engaged (Anne from a really good Catholic family, house near the Church, six kids, Catholic school, and Anne went to Notre Dame Uni. . . . . and Anne says, ‘it’s okay to use birth control to ‘space’ your children’, at which I wondered ‘wow’ times have changed. Or Anne had changed. Or I was clueless. One of the above. 🙂

    The thing is, if a Catholic is making a moral decision, there are three things we are asked to do:
    first, to consult the Church’s teachings
    second, to pray for God’s guidance
    third, to consider the reality of our own situation . . . .

    my guess is that it’s that THIRD one that Anne focused on . . . . . ‘reality’

    I hope some time to comprehend the evolution of how our Catholic people have ‘rationalized’ their decision-making, but it is no longer the case that Catholic families take up an entire pew at mass, with some notable exceptions.
    I think good reasoning, reality of our life situations, and some common sense are not things to be rejected in the Catholic moral equation regarding ‘birth control’, no. But the Church hopes that people who marry will ‘welcome’ new life. Even the Christian Churches who are not Catholic also have this hope (although the ‘quiverfull’ movement is an obscenity of male idolatry and patriarchal cultic practice).

    That ‘consider’ your own circumstances when you make a moral decision is something most non-Catholics aren’t aware of that IS a Catholic concern. So, without knowing that, the ‘don’t use birth control’ teaching does seem extreme and unrealistic.

    Take a look at Catholic moral teaching. And Catholic social teaching. And ask a priest about it. And after a while, it begins to come into focus that Catholic people honor life and the Giver of Life, but in welcoming new life,
    Catholics aren’t members of a cult where their own reasoning and their own personal situations are to be sacrificed to some requirement that demands obeisance regardless of known harmful consequences.


  76. I am puzzled by the Facebook kerfuffle.

    I am on Facebook, it is a quite pleasant experience, with very little nastiness, or food pictures. I boot people who post nasty stuff, in the odd circumstance that I “friended” them in the first place; one can, after all, see the tenor of their posts before doing so. And I “unfollow” people who output a deluge of baby or food pictures.

    I have some interesting dialogues via Facebook. Private groups on Facebook is an easy way to quickly organize a group – and you can always move to something else later.

    As for “privacy”? Seriously? It is the Internet, it is just as private as posting here. Don’t post private stuff! They can only inappropriately give away what you give them And do not install their app, you can use the web browser with location services blocked – as you are doing with all sites, right?

    Aside: Maybe NOT posting lots of “cute” pictures of your children . .. who will be adults someday and not appreciate what you did – – – but that is as much about privacy as respecting your children as People and not Pets to parade. Get a dog for that purpose! Honestly, this is the most disturbing part about Facebook for me, how disrespectful parents are of their children.

    P.S. E-mails via GMail complaining about Facebook are amusing. If you are in the United States and post data to a server in the United States what you post is the property of that corporation. We do no have any effective data privacy regulations. That is the reality, much of this talk about Facebook is freaking out about the mouse in the kitchen as the Bengal tiger lounges on the roof – it is much much worse than you fear, and leaving Facebook won’t help.


  77. Fred “Slacktivist” Clark noted the anniversary of Humanitae Vitae in his blog this week. He also (as is his wont) dug back into his archives and resurrected his post on the minority report that formed the core of H.V. The key point – “A prior Pope already declared birth control off limits. We can’t change it now, because we’d look bad and folks might question papal infallibility.”


  78. Thanks to C.M., I finally got to experience the thrill of some of the most awesome rollercoaster rides without experiencing the terror [ I’m a big chicken,]
    They weren’t as bad as I thought – Lols


  79. Facebook and I have never been ‘friends’. I also value my privacy.
    Who wants to know what I ate for breakfast? Really!

    One ride on a roller coaster, aged about 14. Never again!!

    We have Teal Ducks in our town park and duck pond. They hold up the traffic every evening navigating their way home from nearby gardens! Ducklings are almost full grown but still follow mother in a straggly line. Very cute but a traffic hazard.

    It has tried to rain today. It could have tried harder.
    Our district is drought stricken. A lot of hand feeding of stock.
    The sad part is that a number of farmers in our state have taken their own lives because they can’t cope.
    Our Town dam water supply is 55%.
    Taste is good.
    We have strict water restrictions.

    I know very little about a lot of things.
    It was ever thus. The older I get the more I am supposed to know.
    Perhaps it will even off before I get beyond caring.

    Dana, Fires in Redding have made headlines tonight.
    A second firefighter killed.
    The fires are very frightening.
    Prayers headed their way.

    If you can have a Happy Saturday all!


  80. The town where I grew up in northwestern Bergen County NJ had the most wonderful municipal well-water. As a child and young man, I drank it with enormous gusto from the tap; I couldn’t get enough of it. The tap water where I live now in Lancaster County PA tastes just terrible. I can’t drink it, even filtered by a Brita. Sorry, Earth, but I go with bottled water — one bottle a day. Yes, I know, I’m terribly under-hydrated; been that way for years.


  81. Never been on Facebook (I like my privacy, even from people I know).
    Never been on a roller coaster (I have sensory issues).
    Know quite a lot about some periods in history, but precious little about most of the others.


  82. RE: Facebook. I left Facebook a long time ago. It is tough to keep up with some people/relatives, but overall my life has not suffered from lack of Facebook. Besides, got tired of all the stupid political grandstanding and “look how fabulous our lives are” posts.

    Diamondback is an awesome roller coaster name!


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