Archive for May 2009

Dave’s Down The Mountain   Leave a comment

Kitty’s cousin Dave Hahn successfully reached the summit of Everest for the 11th time.  He’s back in Katmandu, according to his Facebook status.  Always good to see everybody safely back down the mountain, and doubly so when they actually get to the top.  If you want to read the dispatches of this last climb, you can check out this blog.  Here’s the YouTube channel of the dispatches, and the last one of the team after they got back to base camp:

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Posted May 29, 2009 by padraic2112 in news

Theme Thursday: Suitcase   7 comments

The suitcase, the briefcase, the trunk.  Often times it’s the focus of a murder mystery or suspense thriller.  In Pulp Fiction, Vincent and Jules were tasked at recovering the mysterious briefcase, whose contents are forever the speculation of Tarantino fans.  In Ronin, everyone was trying to get “the case”; another instance where the audience is drawn into the story following a container whose contents are forever unknown.

My favorite mysterious case movie is a very unknown silly movie called The Double McGuffin, a Joe Camp (yes, the Benji guy) movie.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s hilarious.  In that movie, the briefcase is the subject of much shenanigans, and it contains… well, I won’t tell you what it contains at various parts of the movie because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it takes a different tack from those previous two movies: they’re constantly showing you what’s in the case, but it’s usually not what you expect to be in there at the time.

I recommend it.  I’d write more about it, but I had 10 hours sleep last night for the first time in 6 years, and I’m rushing to get ready to due Parental Duty for my last iteration at Jack’s preschool.  More later!

Posted May 28, 2009 by padraic2112 in movies, Theme Thursday

It’s Very Beautiful, and Very Cold, and You’re Not Allowed to *Touch* Anything   Leave a comment

Cameron’s house is for sale.

4 Bed, 4 Bath | 5,300 Sq Ft on 0.75 Acres (32,670 Sq Ft Lot) – $2,300,000

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I’m not 100% sure, but that photo of the garage looks like it is actually a cut from the movie.  Seems a bit pricey for a house in this market, but if you can scratch up another $10,000,000 or so, you can actually re-enact the “kick the car through the garage” scene.  Sure, $12.5 million seems like a lot to vent out some buried parent issues, but if you filmed it and popped it up on YouTube, you’d be an Internet Sensation, and who can put a price tag on that?

Posted May 26, 2009 by padraic2112 in humor, movies

Theme Thursday: Vacation   13 comments

Vacation means something different now than it meant when I was a yonker growing up.  When you’re a kid, just the existence of summer is vacation enough.  Every once in a while, the family would go someplace.  We visited the Grand Canyon one year, Disneyland a couple of times (it’s an adventure when you live in northern California), and took a few trips up to the snow.

Since I met my wife, on the other hand… I’ve gone camping, to Hawaii for our honeymoon, Australia for three weeks (horseback riding around Noosa + a conference on her part), a driving tour of the northeastern states overlapping with her college reunion, several car trips to Montana and New Mexico… with side trips to the corners of Arizona, a zip through Yellowstone, and a rather adventurous swing up to Lake Louise in Canada and then across to Vancouver Island and down the western U.S. back to Los Angeles.  In a Volkswagen Passat.  With a 3-month old and a dog.  Note to new parents: traveling with a 3-month old is actually much easier than traveling with a 14-month old.  A 3-month old requires breaks to eat and change diapers.  A 14-month old, on the other hand, is used to being able to move around, and they get really cranky if you plonk them in a car seat for 6+ hours.

I like taking real vacations – “pack up and get out of town” vacations.  I’m glad I work at a job where there is no political pressure to postpone or avoid vacations altogether.  I’m old enough and confident enough in my abilities and value not to put up with that sort of nonsense, but it’s nice to have an accomodating employer.  This year we’re going back to Montana (we try to make that a yearly trip).  We’re going to try our darndest to make our 10th anniversary in Italy.  At some point, I need to do a pub crawl through Ireland.  There’s lots of places to go, people to see.  Kitty’s going to always be ahead of me in continental trips, since she’s already been to Antarctica and it’s hugely expensive to go there (seredipity, I’ll leave that story to her to tell).  Now that I’m in a Ph.D. program, there’s always the possibility of international conferences, too.  The nicest thing about conferences is that they might be someplace you wouldn’t normally consider going to in your priority list of “places to go”, and you might have an absolute ball there, if you take some vacation time and spread it around either end of the business part of the trip.  Finland maybe?  India?  Who knows?

One of my favorite vacation moments was on our Australia trip.  Aside from driving all over the Sunshine Coast (and up to 1770 to take a catamaran out to Lady Musgrave Island) we booked a 4-day trail ride that took us from Noosa, to Tewantin, up to Boreen Point on Lake Cootharaba, over to Kin Kin and then down to Cooran and then ending in Pomona (Baino can attest that those are all actual names – Australian names are a hoot).  I’d been on a horse for maybe a grand total of 3 hours prior to this trip, and although I was all done in by the last day, I had a great time.  Here’s a couple of shots of the pub/hotel where we stayed in Kin Kin and some of the characters we met there.

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And the obligatory scenic shots:

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Australia’s Sunshine Coast is remarkably similar to California (not really surprising, given their relative positions on the globe).  At the same time there’s lots of little differences that add a very surreal feeling to the visit that I didn’t get anywhere else.  Hawaii is just different.  Australia is different, but in ways that are still hauntingly familiar.  We’ll have to go back someday.

Posted May 20, 2009 by padraic2112 in Theme Thursday

Too Funny   3 comments

Three Wolf Moon T-Shirt, Available in Various Sizes

Customers who viewed this product also viewed:

Zubaz Pants
Joe the Plumber: Fighting For the American Dream (Hardcover)
How to Live With A Huge Penis: Advice, Meditations, and Wisdom for Men Who Have Too Much

Review:

This item has wolves on it which makes it intrinsically sweet and worth 5 stars by itself, but once I tried it on, that’s when the magic happened. After checking to ensure that the shirt would properly cover my girth, I walked from my trailer to Wal-mart with the shirt on and was immediately approached by women. The women knew from the wolves on my shirt that I, like a wolf, am a mysterious loner who knows how to ‘howl at the moon’ from time to time (if you catch my drift!). The women that approached me wanted to know if I would be their boyfriend and/or give them money for something they called mehth. I told them no, because they didn’t have enough teeth, and frankly a man with a wolf-shirt shouldn’t settle for the first thing that comes to him.

I arrived at Wal-mart, mounted my courtesy-scooter (walking is such a drag!) sitting side saddle so that my wolves would show. While I was browsing tube socks, I could hear aroused asthmatic breathing behind me. I turned around to see a slightly sweaty dream in sweatpants and flip-flops standing there. She told me she liked the wolves on my shirt, I told her I wanted to howl at her moon. She offered me a swig from her mountain dew, and I drove my scooter, with her shuffling along side out the door and into the rest of our lives. Thank you wolf shirt.

Pros: Fits my girthy frame, has wolves on it, attracts women

Cons: Only 3 wolves (could probably use a few more on the ‘guns’), cannot see wolves when sitting with arms crossed, wolves would have been better if they glowed in the dark.

Tip o’ the hat to Digg.  There’s almost 300 more reviews and a good portion of them are hilarious.

Posted May 20, 2009 by padraic2112 in humor, noise

Your Apology? Insufficient. Penance Required.   Leave a comment

From the Associated Press, via Yahoo News:

A fiercely debated, long-delayed investigation into Ireland‘s Roman Catholic-run institutions says priests and nuns terrorized thousands of boys and girls in workhouse-style schools for decades — and government inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rapes and humiliation.

The full 2600 page report can be found here.

The response of the Church?

The leader of Ireland’s 4 million Catholics, Cardinal Sean Brady, and religious orders at the center of the scandal offered immediate apologies.

“I am profoundly sorry and deeply ashamed that children suffered in such awful ways in these institutions. Children deserved better and especially from those caring for them in the name of Jesus Christ,” Brady said.

And the Rev. Edmund Garvey, spokesman for the Christian Brothers order that once ran dozens of boys’ schools, said that reading the report’s “presentation of the history of our institutions, it is hard to avoid feeling shame.”

Well, that’s understandable.  So how does one engage that feeling of shame?  How does one attempt to cleanse the wound and begin the healing process?

But its findings will not be used for criminal prosecutions — in part because the Christian Brothers successfully sued the commission in 2004 to keep the identities of all of its members, dead or alive, unnamed in the report. No real names, whether of victims or perpetrators, appear in the final document.

Ah, no.  That’s not it.

I’m just flabbergasted that the Church still has not figured out what’s going on in the world.  The Church has no credibility.  The Church has no voice.  When the Pope speaks, only Catholics listen, and more and more of them are becoming disaffected with the inability of the Church to cope with this horrific internal problem.  Like *any* human organization (government, military, business, religion, whatever) oversight needs to come from outside the organization, not inside it.  If you’re too tightly coupled with another organization (like the Catholic reform institutions and the Irish government in the decades between the 1930s and the 1960s), you’re not going to get real oversight.  Screwing that up is bad enough, but covering it up is worse.

Right now, there’s several million Catholics in Ireland and the United States that don’t trust their clergy.  They don’t know which ones have a record of abuse.  They don’t understand why this information is being held secret.  Yes, some of those accused are innocent.  It will certainly hurt those who have been accused falsely to have their names bandied about in the same sentence as truly creepy child molesters.  That’s tough.  Your organization screwed up.  Your superiors protected those who were guilty.  Your silence about your own brothers aided and abetted their activities for years or decades.  Pick up your cross and bear it.  Your flock deserve to know which shepherds are wolves.

Irish church leaders and religious orders all declined to comment Wednesday, citing the need to read the massive document first. The Vatican also declined to comment.

What, you couldn’t think of anything to say in the last nine years?

Look, I went to a Catholic grade school.  I went to a Catholic high school.  I went to a Catholic college.  I learned a lot at all of those institutions, and for the most part the quality of the instruction and the environment was excellent.  I was never abused.  I know lots of priests; my uncle is a somewhat prominent one, and he always had friends come over to my grandmother’s house, so I met them in their “let’s have a drink and chew the fat” mode (btw, nothing adjusts your view of the priesthood quite like having three drunk Jesuits sing Irish songs with your grandmother).  I worked with a bunch of them, and found most of them to be absolutely fine human beings and upstanding people that anyone would do well to emulate.

I also went to high school when Angel Mariano was a Jesuit scholastic.  He seemed like a pretty good guy, very sociable with his students.  He never made any untoward advances towards me.  Imagine my surprise when I start looking around for him on the Internet 10 years ago and I find out he’s a sex offender.  He had opportunities to molest me, as a student.  After he was convicted, nobody in the Church ever contacted me to find out if he had done anything creepy when he was working at Bellarmine.  Why not?  Did he molest any of my classmates?  How would anyone know, if nobody ever bothered to ask?  Surfing around trying to find out what happened to other priests I’ve lost contact with brings all sorts of information regarding one of them.

How can you tell if it’s true?  I knew Jerry Linder, I co-moderated the role-playing game club with him the first year I worked at Loyola.  He was weird, but most gamers are in one way or another.  Weird does not equal creepy… he certainly didn’t seem to be a molester.  From the LA Times article:

In a sworn deposition, Lindner denied ever abusing anyone. In a statement to The Times, he said: “I have devoted my life to helping people, and I insist that the accusations against me are not true.” He said the Catholic sex-abuse crisis has “created an atmosphere where people like me are presumed guilty until proven innocent.”

That’s a fair point.  But the sex-abuse crisis is the fault of the Church.  People jump to conclusions, because for decades the Church systematically buried these incidents when they actually did occur.  If this is to be corrected, you can’t just draw a line in the sand and say, “After this point, we’re going to be extra careful not to let this happen again”.  That means you need to tell your congregation and the public who was accused of what, when it supposedly happened, and the specific conclusions of the investigation.  Without that, you’re going to wind up with middle aged Catholics having huge faith crisis moments when they start surfing around on the Internet and find this sort of thing.  One of the brothers who taught me at Loyola Marymount was arrested at one point for having child porn on his computer.  He was cleared and went back to work, but trying to find information about the case was like trying to explore a cave when you don’t have a flashlight and your arms have been cut off.  Now, being in the techie business, I can imagine exactly how child porn winds up on anybody’s computer (undoubtedly the box was hacked and turned into a webserver for creepizoids).  I can picture in my head a forensic analysis of what his computer probably looked like right after he was arrested.  None of that information ever was made public.  There was never a well informed statement from the university.  Google results still show the arrest report.  The LA Times article reports:

The investigation began in October, when a technician repairing Smulders’ university office computer discovered images of apparent child pornography, LAPD Det. Jim Brown said.


At Smulders’ Ramsgate Avenue home, LAPD detectives allegedly recovered dozens of computer disks and magazines containing child pornography, Brown said.

Wait, were there actual magazines?  If so, that disclaims the botnet explanation.  Or were there?  Maybe Brown misrepresented the evidence.  Maybe the reporter made an error.  The point is that there is nothing to explain this.  Anywhere.  No retraction by the paper.  No explanation by the police department.  No reprimand for Brown for telling the wrong thing to the reporter, or allowing himself to be misquoted.  No statement from the University, explaining the charge against Brother Smulders, the investigation, and the University’s decision to reinstate him.

In the absence of real data to the contrary, when there is already evidence of a long standing conspiracy, people assume more conspiracy.  Knock it off, already.

Posted May 20, 2009 by padraic2112 in news, rants, religion, Uncategorized

Ph.D. Comics on Science News Reporting   1 comment

Yeah, it’s an awful lot like this.

Posted May 20, 2009 by padraic2112 in humor, noise