Older blog entries for fallenlord (starting at number 61)

21 Aug 2011 (updated 25 Aug 2011 at 22:07 UTC) »

The long wait for a new Thinkpad is finally over.

It has been six years since I last had a Thinkpad mobile workstation. My previous blog post essentially was a pipe dream, considering the price range for these machines are in the USD $2000+ range and will never be approved by my wife. Not to mention that when I bought my T42p, the machine was already a year old, the T43p was the new hotness in the mobile workstation world, and it never got past the 1GB RAM that I bought it with (it can handle 2GB but I was never able to buy those DIMMs due to the prohibitive prices). 

All that changed though when I was asked by my employer what machine should they give for me. Initially I was offered a Thinkpad T520 with 8GB of RAM, a docking station, and a messenger bag. Knowing my role, I asked for something way cooler: the mid-level Thinkpad W520. The more surprising part though, is that my employer just said OK” and gave me a very powerful machine.

Specifications are as follows:
  • quad-core Intel Core i7-2630QM at 2.0GHz
  • 1600x900 screen resolution
  • Intel HD 3000 and Nvidia Quadro 1000M switchable graphics
  • 16 GB RAM, expandable to 32GB of RAM
  • 500GB 7200RPM SATA hard disk
  • onboard HSPA WWAN modem
  • 9 cell battery
  • 3 year warranty
Launching new virtual machines and compiling a lot of code all at the same time has never been this easy. Sure it has a UK English keyboard layout (which I am having a tough time adjusting to for the past three weeks) and runs on Windows 7 but it sure does the job great! 

Syndicated 2011-08-21 20:45:00 (Updated 2011-08-25 20:45:59) from Paolo Alexis Falcone

21 Aug 2011 (updated 7 Sep 2011 at 18:10 UTC) »

Observations on Sunday Liturgies in Three Rites

For the past three Sundays I have been visiting a couple of churches to experience for myself the different rites of the Catholic Church. Having been exposed to the new order of the Roman Rite for almost all my life being a Filipino, being in the United Kingdom offered me a unique opportunity to witness the diversity of expression of worship in the universal Church and yet express one doctrine.

First Taste of Eastern Liturgy: Maronite Qurbono

The first I attended was the Maronite Qurbono celebrated in the Our Lady of Lebanon Shrine. As this was the first Eastern rite that I attended ever in my life, I expected that the signum crucis would be reverse of what Roman Catholics do, and the form of liturgy would conform to the ancient form wherein everyone faces to the east, and clergy would sport beards (really). I didn't really expect that the Latinization of the Maronite rite has gone real deep that my expectations were the reverse of what truly happened: the sign of the cross is the same, the priest faced the congregation most of the time like the new order of the Roman Mass, the liturgy done in Arabic (though the canon is still done in Aramaic), people knelt during the consecration, and the priests were clean-shaven (except for a monk dressed in a black habit who wore a stole while distributing Communion).

Other than those, it was extensively a sung liturgy that has parallels with the order of the Roman Mass, with the priest and congregation chanting in Aramaic, though the creed and the Pater Noster were recited instead of sung. Despite the total absence of Arabic in my vocabulary, and my Aramaic being as good as rust, I've been able to recognize a lot of the words: Abba (father), Qurbono (sacred offering), Qadisha (holy). Another distinct feature would probably be the kiss of peace after the reception of gifts, and how after the kiss of peace was passed by clasping both hands as in prayer from the priest to the rest of the congregation. There was emphasis on the sacrificial nature of the Qurbono: from the repeated appeals of divine mercy, intercession and usage of Kyrie Eleison, frequent mentions of the word Qurbono and Qadisha, to the total lack of applause and surprisingly solemn behavior of the congregation. 

Familiar yet not so familiar: Tridentine Mass

The following Sunday, I attended a Roman Mass in the extraordinary form in St. James Cathedral, as that Sunday was the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. As this was a low Mass, Latin was the liturgical language, no chanting occurred, and silence ruled throughout the entire course of the liturgy. I can clearly tell I am the odd man as I am used to standing during the Pater Noster, and recite the suscipiat response after the priest's Oratre fratres, while everyone else were eerily silent and kneeling. Seems that the tradition in the UK for low Mass is silence contrasting to a dialogue form as practiced in Manila.

This made me reflect a lot on the state of the traditional Mass - I now actually think that I'm already very lucky that I can attend missa cantata every Sunday, as such is very rare in the United Kingdom. The Latin Mass Society is clearly very active in the UK though, and has subscribed a handful of places across the country that regularly celebrate the old form. Contrast this to the treatment the traditional Latin Mass movement has in the Philippines, wherein bishops actually suppress its expression... I am already blessed I am still able to attend regularly in my lifetime, much more just having it within 5 miles from my house.

So what they were saying about the Byzantine Divine Liturgy was true...

Lastly, I attended the Divine Liturgy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church held at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile. Here, my initial assumptions on what happens in the Byzantine Rite were valid (to an extent): the signum crucis is the reverse, the priest and the congregation faced east, though I could say that I didn't expect the kneeling during the consecration and clean-shaven priests. Like the Maronite liturgy, the congregation sang all throughout; and like the traditional Roman liturgy, I never heard the canon spoken loudly like the new Roman Mass.

The liturgy, for the lack of a better term, was incredibly beautiful. The polyphony the priest, deacon and the entire congregation made (while I didn't understand one bit due to my lack of comprehension of Ukrainian, ) for the entire duration of the liturgy, is what I can say superior to the Roman Rite's Gregorian Chant. The iconostasis, the altar, icons, the vessels and vestments used by the clergy, combined with the use of incense, solemn behavior, high language and very good singing, gives the sensation of being able to see, smell, hear and touch a foretaste of things to come. And all these realizations from a guy who wasn't able to understand a single word of what was going on - that is a testament to the beauty of what transpired for just one hour. It just boggles me why there are no Easter Catholic Churches in the Philippines that offer the Divine Liturgy: instead there are Roman Masses that nearly approximate a Protestant song, dance, and preach number. I would gladly attend this liturgy if it were only an option in Manila.


In retrospect, the Divine Liturgy is supposed to be the highest form of worship accorded by a creature to the Creator. As such, this has to edify and uplift towards a higher plane, rather than be downward trodden and upbeat to the world.  The extraordinary form of the Roman Mass, the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, and the Maronite Qurbono as properly done satisfies the edification that the liturgy should do. Having experienced some of the Eastern Rite liturgies opened my eyes on the need to do the reform of the reform. Honestly, these traditions (the use of sacred language, good polyphony, silence in the canon, the solemn kiss of peace) are really lacking in practice in the current Roman Mass as practiced in many parts of the world, and a return to these traditions will make celebration of the liturgy more profound and spiritually enriching. 

Syndicated 2011-08-21 17:03:00 (Updated 2011-09-07 17:47:51) from Living Core Dumps

20 Aug 2011 (updated 25 Aug 2011 at 22:07 UTC) »

Upgrading RVM'd Ruby on OSX Lion

I found out the hard way that upgrading my RVM-managed Ruby 1.9.2 install to the latest patch level upstream isn't as straightforward if you had that Ruby version installed prior to an upgrade to OSX Lion. Given that OSX Lion is fully 64-bit, all libraries will have to be recompiled to 64-bit: a fact that bit me hard as all those libraries that I have installed via MacPorts and Homebrew will have to be recompiled before I can even dare upgrade Ruby.

What I did is a bit drastic, but worked for me. Any suggestions to do this better will be most welcome:

  1. Upgrade to the latest MacPorts (2.0.1 as of this writing) that is compatible with OSX Lion.
  2. Upgrade the following libraries in MacPorts or Homebrew: libiconv, libxml2, libxslt, readline, openssl, zlib. You may have to uninstall these libraries first if the compile bails out due to linkage errors between 32-bit and 64-bit libraries.
  3. Install the latest Ruby via RVM, e.g. rvm install 1.9.2-p290 --with-readline-dir=/opt/local --with-openssl-dir=/opt/local --with-iconv-dir=/opt/local --with-zlib-dir=/opt/local.

This should produce a working Ruby interpreter. Any gems previously installed though will also have to be recompiled if these are relying on a C/C++ library (e.g. Nokogiri, etc).

Syndicated 2011-08-20 21:46:00 (Updated 2011-08-25 20:47:14) from Living Core Dumps

20 Aug 2011 (updated 25 Aug 2011 at 22:07 UTC) »

Blogging Again!

Hello blog, we meet again...

After a long hiatus (and having to export my blogs out of the defunct Friendster blogs), I am back to using blogs to record and dump whatever's on my mind. Hence the aptly-named "Living Core Dumps" title of my blog.

A quick round of about:me so far would be as follows:

  1. I now work at ITRS Group PLC as the build configuration engineer. Now exercising all the chops I have learned over the years (*nix, C++, Java, Ruby, BDD, automation... bring it on!)
  2. I have served as Software Architect at Friendster for roughly 8 months before joining ITRS. It's not anymore a generic social networking site but now a growing social gaming site!
  3. I am on my last week (hopefully!) here in London. Everything is just expensive here.
Hopefully this time I'd keep up on blogging. It's just a shame that I've lost so many good ideas just because I never get to write them down before my memory leaks, that I'm just not going to let that happen anymore.

Syndicated 2011-08-20 19:36:00 (Updated 2011-08-25 20:44:16) from Living Core Dumps

20 Aug 2011 (updated 21 Aug 2011 at 21:08 UTC) »

O come, O come Emmanuel

The song "O Come, Oh Come Emmanuel" is a convenient summary of Isaiah's prophecies about the Messiah: divine Wisdom (Sapientia), the Lord (Adonai), the stump of Jesse's family (Radix Jesse), the key of David's kingdom (Clavis David), the rising sun (Oriens), the king of the Gentiles (Rex Gentium), and the presence of God (Emmanuel). Spelled backwards, the first letter of each titular prophecy connotes doubly the upcoming celebration of Christmas, as well as the eventuality of the final Judgment (ERO CRAS, meaning Tomorrow I will come).

The song was originally composed in French sometime in the 12th century, with the Latin lyrics done sometime in the 18th century.

Veni, veni, Emmanuel
captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exsilio,
privatus Dei Filio.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!

Veni, O Sapientia,
quae hic disponis omnia,
veni, viam prudentiae
ut doceas et gloriae.

Veni, veni, Adonai,
qui populo in Sinai
legem dedisti vertice
in maiestate gloriae.

Veni, O Iesse virgula,
ex hostis tuos ungula,
de spectu tuos tartari
educ et antro barathri.

Veni, Clavis Davidica,
regna reclude caelica,
fac iter tutum superum,
et claude vias inferum.

Veni, veni O Oriens,
solare nos adveniens,
noctis depelle nebulas,
dirasque mortis tenebras.

Veni, veni, Rex Gentium,
veni, Redemptor omnium,
ut salvas tuos famulos
peccati sibi conscios.

Syndicated 2009-12-24 00:37:00 (Updated 2011-08-20 17:30:59) from Living Core Dumps

20 Aug 2011 (updated 21 Aug 2011 at 21:08 UTC) »

Christmas and the Last Judgment

Two thousand years ago, a supposed madman from the wilderness preached about the coming of the terrible judge. He wore camel cloth with a leather belt on his waste, ate locusts and wild honey, and kept saying that all men must prepare for the coming of the judge, that they make the crooked roads straight, filling up voids in vallies, and level hills and mounts.

For the past two thousand years the Church has repeated this uncomfortable teaching, especially during the weeks before Christmas. That all stay sober and be ready for the Judgment. In fact, the traditional readings of Advent reflect this alignment towards preparing men for the End of Age rather than the merry commemoration of the birth of the Christ. The scriptural readings even call for fasting, for keeping sober, for making amends for sins rather than wine, partying, and shopping for gifts and decors - an absolute rejection of what the world holds as the "meaning of the season".

In the rejection of the uncomfortable message, the supposed madman, John the Baptist, was beheaded and had his head served on a silver platter. Alas, two thousand years after, the world's answer to the voice howling in the wilderness is still utter rejection. The world refuses to accept the same message, and as such, many elect to drunken stupor, binge eating, and even secularizing the season in order to rub out any references to the coming of the Judge. This same world jeers at the Church and those who heed her - calling them outmoded and medieval.

Come to think about it, Christmas is a one-time event in history that will never happen again. The feast of Christmas is what it is - a commemoration of the coming of Jesus as a historical event. Thus the Church elects instead to prepare humankind for the return of Christ at the end of history and time. It is no accident that Christmas is celebrated at the end of the secular year - wherein people assess and make judgment to the year that has passed. More than just a reclaiming of an old pagan practice and Christianizing it, Christmas is a prefiguration that Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. We in turn even profess this uncomfortable truth everytime we recite the Creed.

This coming Christmas, are we heeding to the uncomfortable message? Or do we elect the wisdom and judgment of the world?

Syndicated 2009-12-20 20:34:00 (Updated 2011-08-20 17:30:59) from Living Core Dumps

20 Aug 2011 (updated 21 Aug 2011 at 21:08 UTC) »

Dealing with Insomnia

Welcome to day 4 of unwanted, uncontrolled sleep deprivation via insomnia.

While I can, in theory, do more work, or do more stuff (like learning new programming languages, techniques and patterns, or read news and novels, or just bum around), I am aware that prolonged cases of these sleepless episodes will take a toll on my health. Getting myself tired doesn't make me any more sleepier - and getting less than 5 hours of sleep is sure to make my thinking brain go fried at work later.

Any suggestions how do I get my regular sleep pattern back?

Syndicated 2009-10-07 02:21:00 (Updated 2011-08-20 17:30:59) from Living Core Dumps

20 Aug 2011 (updated 21 Aug 2011 at 21:08 UTC) »

Be Proud of Being Catholic

The following was a speech by well known Cleveland businessman Sam Miller at the City Club of Cleveland, given on Thursday, March 6. Even though of the Jewish faith, Miller has been a staunch supporter of the Cleveland Diocese and Bishop Anthony Pilla. It was published in the May-June issue of the Buckeye Bulletin.

I'm going to say things here today that many Catholics should have said 18 months ago. Maybe it's easier for me to say because I am not Catholic, but I have had enough, more than enough, disgustingly enough.

During my entire life I've never seen a greater vindictive, more scurrilous, biased campaign against the Catholic Church as I have seen in the last 18 months, and the strangest thing is that it is in a country like the United States where there is supposed to be mutual respect and freedom for all religions.

This has bothered me because I too am a minority in this country. You see, unfortunately  and I say this very advisedly  the Catholics have forgotten that in the early 1850's when the Italians, the Poles, the Latvians, the  Lithuanians, all of Catholic persuasion, came to this country looking for opportunity  because of famine, (particularly the Irish) they were already looked upon with derision, suspicion and hatred. Consequently the jobs they were forced to take were the jobs that nobody else wanted  bricklayers, ditch diggers, Jewish junkmen, street cleaners, etc.

This prejudice against your religion, and mine has never left this country and don't ever forget it, and never will. Your people were called Papists, Waps, Guineas, frogs, fish eaters, ad infinitum.

And then after the Civil War, around 1864, the fundamentalists, conservatives, Protestants and a few WASP's began planting burning crosses throughout the country, particularly in the South. And today, as far as I'm concerned, very little has changed. These gentlemen now have a new style of clothing  they've gone from bed sheets to gentlemen's suits.

There is a concentrated effort by the media today to totally denigrate in every way the Catholic Church in this country. You don't find it this bad overseas at all. They have now blamed the disease of pedophilia on the Catholic Church, which is as irresponsible as blaming adultery on the institution of marriage. You and me have bees: living in a false paradise. Wake up and recognize that many people don't like Catholics. What are these people frying to accomplish?

From the Sojourner's Magazine dated August, 2002, listen carefully to a quote, "While much of the recent media hype has focused on the Catholic Church's pedophilia scandal, relatively little attention has been given to the high rate of sexual misconduct in the rest of American Christendom. This is truly a crisis that crosses the borders of all religions."

Now let me give you some figures that you as Catholics should know and remember. For example, research by Richard Blackman at Fuller Theological Seminary shows that 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38% acknowledged other inappropriate sexual contact. In a 1990 study by the United Methodist Church, 41.8% of clergywomen reported unwanted sexual behavior by a colleague; 17% of laywomen said that their own pastors had sexually harassed them. Phillip Jenkins concludes in his book "Pedophiles and Priests" that while 1.7% of the Catholic clergy has been found guilty of pedophilia, 10% of Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia.

This is not a Catholic problem. This is a problem of pure prejudice. Why the papers, day after day, week after week, month after month, see fit to do nothing but come out with these scurrilous stories? When I spoke recently to one of the higher ups in the newspaper I said, "This is wrong". He said, "Why, do you want us to shoot the messenger?" I said, "No, just change the message". He said, "How?" I said, "I'll tell you how".

Obviously, this is not just a Catholic problem. And solutions must be broader and deeper than those carried out by Catholic cardinals. The whole church has a responsibility to offer decisive leadership in the area of sexual misconduct whether it is child abuse, sexual exploitation, or sexual harassment.

Recently, churches have shown unprecedented unity on issues of poverty and welfare reform. Now it is necessary to call for a broad based ecumenical council addressing the issue of sexual misconduct in the church not only the Catholic Church, all churches, including synagogues. Its goal would be transparency and openness in developing stringent, forward‑looking guidelines, consistent with denominational distinctions, for preventing and addressing sexual misconduct within Christian churches and church‑related institutions.

Such a council could include not only denominational representatives but also a majority presence from external organizations such as child protection agencies, law enforcement, psychiatric services, victims' agencies, and legal and legislative representatives.

Crisis. "Crisis" in Chinese is one word. "Crisis" in Chinese means, on the one side, a real crisis problems etc., but the other side means great opportunity.

We have a great opportunity facing us. Crisis is often accompanied by an opportunity for extraordinary growth and leadership. We have that today. Even though you are the lowest ‑‑ by far the lowest of any organized religion today when it comes to sexual harassment ‑‑ American churches have a unique opening to develop and adopt a single set of policies, principles, practices, and common language on sexual misconduct in Christian institutions that is binding across denominations.

A system of cross denomination review boards could be established to help compliance and accountability. A centralized resource bank could be formed that provides church wide updates on new legal, financial, psychological and spiritual developments in the field. Guidelines, both moral and legal, could be established on how clergy, churches, and victims should best use civil and criminal actions in pursuit of justice and financial restitution for injury. A national database could be established with information on all applicants for ordination in any member Christian religion. Every diocese, conference, presbytery, and district could have a designated child protection representative whose job is to ensure that the policies and procedures are understood and implemented and that training is provided.

Any religious institution, or system, that leaves power unexamined or smothers sexuality with silence  rather than promoting open conversation that can lead to moral and spiritual maturity  becomes implicated in creating an unhealthy and potentially abusive environment. An ecumenical Christian council authentically dedicated to strong moral leadership in the area of clergy sexual misconduct might move the church beyond the extremes of policing our own or abandoning our own.

For Christians, the true scandal is not about priests. It's about a manipulation of power to abuse the weak. When Jesus said, "Whoever receives the child, receives me", he was rebuking his followers for putting stumbling blocks in front of the defenseless. Church is supposed to be a place where one can lay one's defenses down; where one is welcomed, embraced, and blessed. This can only be authentically expressed in a culture that requires absolute respect for each individual's freedom and self hood. Until all churches bow humbly under the requirement, the indictments by wounded women and children will stand.

Just what are these kangaroo journalists trying to accomplish? Think about it. If you get the New York Times day after day; the Los Angeles Times day after day, our own paper day after day looking at the record, some of these writers are apostates, Catholics or ex-Catholics who have been denied something they wanted from the Church and are on a mission of vengeance.

Why would newspapers carry on this vendetta on one of the most important institutions that we have today in the United States, namely the Catholic Church?

Do you know  and maybe some of you don't the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students everyday, at cost to your Church of 10 billion dollars, and a savings on the other hand to the American taxpayer of 18 billion dollars. Needless to say, that Catholic education at this time stands head and shoulders above every other form of education that we have in this country. And the cost is approximately 30% less.

If you look at our own Cleveland school system, they can boast of an average graduation rate of 36%. Do you know what it costs you and me as far as the other 64% who didn't make it?

Look at your own records. You (Catholic schools) graduate 89% of your students Your graduates in turn go on to graduate studies at the rate of 92%, and all at a cost to you. To the rest of the Americans it's free, but it costs you Catholics at least 30% less to educate students compared to the costs that the public education system pays out for education that cannot compare.

Why? Why would these enemies of the Church try to destroy an institution that has 230 colleges and universities in the United States with an enrollment of 700,000 students?

Why would anyone want to destroy an institution like the Catholic Church which has a non profit hospital system of 637 hospitals which account for hospital treatment of 1 out of every 5 people  not just Catholics in the United States today?

Why would anyone want to destroy an institution like that? Why would anyone want to destroy an institution that clothes and feeds and houses the indigent 1 of 5 indigents in the United States, I've been to many of your shelters and no one asks them if you are a Catholic, a Protestant or a Jew; just "come, be fed, here's a sweater for you and a place to sleep at night" at a cost to the Church of 2.3 billion dollars a year?

The Catholic Church today has 64 million members in the United States and is the largest non-governmental agency in the country. It has 20,000 churches in this country alone. Every year they raise approximately $10 billion to help support these agencies.

Why, after the "respected" publication, the New York Times, running their daily expose' on the Church, finally came to the conclusion of their particular investigation, which was ongoing for a long time. And guess what: buried in the last paragraph, they came up with a mouse. In their article "Decades of Damage" the Times reported that 1.8% of American priests were found guilty of this crime  whereas your own Cardinal Ratzinger in Rome reported 1.7% the figure I gave you earlier.

Then again they launched an attack on the Church and its celibate priests. However, the New York Times did not mention in their study of American priests that most are happy in the priesthood and find it even better than they had expected, and that most, if given the choice, would choose to be priests again in the face of all this obnoxious PR the church has been receiving.

Why wouldn't the New York Times, the paper of record they call themselves, mention this? You had to read it in the Los Angeles Times. The New York Times refused to print it.

If you read only the New York Times, you would begin to believe that priests are cowards: craven, sexually frustrated, unhealthy criminals, that prey on the innocent. What a shame.

Sometimes freedom of the press should have some type of responsibility, too. So I say this to you: instead of walking around with a hangdog look ‑‑ I talk to a lot of Catholics all the time, "how's everything going?" ............ "Well, in the face of things I guess okay". That's the wrong answer! The wrong answer!

Also, I ran into a fellow who said they started a discussion at some social function on pedophilia and he said, "I excused myself and left the room." I said, "why did you do that?" "Well, you know how it is".

I believe that if Catholics had the figures that I enumerated here, you don't have to be ashamed of anything. Not only are you as good as the rest, but you're better, in every respect.

The Catholic Church helps millions of people every day of the week, every week of the month, and every month of the year. People who are not Catholics ‑‑ and I sit on your Catholic Foundation and I can tell you, and what I am telling you is so. Priests have their problems, they have their failings just as you and I in this room do, but they do not deserve to be calumniated as they have been.

In small measure let's give the media its due. If it had not come out with this story of abusive priests, (but they just as well could have mentioned reverends, pastors and rabbis and whatever), probably little or nothing would have been. done. But what bothers me the most is this has given an excuse to every Catholic hater and Catholic basher to come out loudly for the denigration of your Church.

If some CEO's are crooks it does not follow that every CEO is crooked; and if some priests are sexually ill it does not follow that all are sick. And your Church teaches that you've got to take in the sick and a priest who is this way has to be taken in and cannot be thrown out the 21st story of a building. He's got to be looked upon and given the same type of health that you would give anybody who has a broken leg or cancer or whatever.

The Church today, and when I say the Church keep in mind I am talking about the Catholic Church, is bleeding from self‑inflicted wounds. The agony that Catholics have felt and suffered is not necessarily the fault of the Church. You have been hurt by an infinitesimally small number of wayward priests that, I feel, have probably been totally weeded out by now.

You see, the Catholic Church is much too viable to be put down by the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Cleveland Plain Dealer  take your choice, they can't do it, they're not going to do it and sooner or later they are going to give up. But you've got to make sure that you don't give up first.

In 1799 a notice was placed in a French newspaper that a citizen Brachi had died in prison. Little did the people realize that this was Pope Pius VI who had occupied the Chair of Saint Peter for 25 years. He had been taken prisoner by Napoleon's forces and died in prison as an indigent. At that time the thought was that this was the end of the Catholic Church, this was 200 and some odd years ago. And the reason was that there was no Pope to succeed him at that time.

But you fooled them then, and we're going to fool them again.

I've been talking more or less about the United States of America as far as the importance of the Church. Let's bring it home to Cuyahoga County and the seven surrounding counties.

In education, you save the county 420 million dollars per year. Wherever there's a Church and most other churches have fled the inner city  there's a Catholic Church; and wherever there's a Catholic Church there's an absence of drug dealers. You talk to any bank that has real estate mortgages in the inner city, and they will tell you that the one thing that keeps up the value in that particular area is your Church. I've seen, for example, on Lorain near the Metro Catholic Schools  there at the Church the nuns used to go out in the morning with brooms and sweep away the drug dealers from around the particular area.

On Health and Human Services, the homeless, adoption, drugs, adult care and so on, you saved the county 170 million dollars a year.

At the end of the day the difference that your local Catholic institutions make in the eight counties that comprise this diocese are several billion dollars per year.

Why don't we hear about this? Why, because it's good news. If some priest was caught with his hand in the collection plate it would be front page news. But the fact that you have thousands of students being education free, as far as the rest of the country is concerned, doesn't make news. Why? Because it is not newsworthy, it's not dirty.

I'm not here to deny freedom of the press, but I believe that with freedom comes responsibility, and with rights you have an obligation. You cannot have rights that are irresponsible.

Unfortunately, our society today is protected by all rights and ruled by some of their wickedness. Anybody who expects to reap the benefits of freedom must understand the total fatigue of supporting it.

The most important element of political speech, as Aristotle taught, is the character of the speaker. In this respect, no matter what message a man brings in, it shouldn't collide with his character.

The other day was shocked when I opened up America, a Catholic magazine, and my good friend Cardinal Keeler, who is a very dear friend of mine, was being fingerprinted by the Baltimore police  not for a crime, but as part of the new law put in place that all members of the Church hierarchy must be fingerprinted.

Amos, of the Old Testament, accused the people of Samaria in words that seared and phrases that smote. They "cram their palaces," he said, "with violence and extortion." They had "sold the upright for silver and the poor for a pair of sandals"  from Gucci, no doubt. But he also said that all this could be reversed, if only the people of Samaria would turn away from their own self absorption and toward those who, however silently, cry out for help. "Then," promised Amos, "shall your justice flow like water and your compassion like a never failing stream" (Amos 5:24)

The worst feature of contemporary society is its tendency to leave each of us locked up in himself or herself, connectionless. To lessen this isolation we have developed all kinds of therapies spiritual, psychological, and physical front groups that meet and talk endlessly all day long in spas,  week spas, month spas, life spas. But none of these things, from primal screams to herbal wrap, seem to be doing the trick, any more than the huge houses and wine parties. The Samaritan did.

What we need to do is open our heart to the plight of others, even some of your priests who have been condemned. They're human beings and they should be shown the same type of compassion we have shown anybody who is critically ill. We need to open our hearts to the plights of others, like our hearts were a dam, so that indeed our justice and compassion may flow to all.

What is essential is that each of us steps forward to hold out our hand to someone. There is no other way to walk with God.

One of the biggest Catholic bashers in the United States wrote  "Only a minority, a tiny minority of priests, have abused the bodies of children." He continues, "I am not advocating this course of action, but as much as I would like to see the Roman Catholic Church ruined. I hate opportunistically retrospective litigation even more."

Now he's talking about our tort monsters. "Lawyers who grow fat by digging up dirt on long‑forgotten wrongs and hounding their aged perpetrators are no friends of mine."

I'm still quoting this man, "All I'm doing" he said, "is calling attention to an anomaly. By all means, let's kick a nasty institution when it is down, but there are better ways than litigation." These words are from a Catholic hater.

I never thought in my life I would ever see these things.

Walk with your shoulders high and your head higher. Be a proud member of the most important non governmental agency today in the United States. Then remember what Jeremiah said: "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it, and find rest for your souls." And be proud, speak up for your faith with pride and reverence and learn what your Church does for all other religions. Be proud that you're a Catholic.

Syndicated 2009-10-07 01:56:00 (Updated 2011-08-20 17:30:59) from Living Core Dumps

20 Aug 2011 (updated 21 Aug 2011 at 21:08 UTC) »

Got a new toy!

And so I got myself a spanking new cool toy.... the last time I really felt excited about getting my own machine was way back in August 2005, when I got my Thinkpad T42p.

Got myself a brand new Macbook Pro 13" yesterday. After taking it for a spin, here's what I've found:

  • The machine, even at 2.26GHz CPU speed, doesn't feels slow. Quite a snappy performer after doing some programming stuff. And at 4GB of RAM, it shouldn't be slow at all!

  • At maximum brightness with wifi and a long download going on, the Macbook Pro can go on batteries as long as 5 hours. Not bad.

  • The glare from the glossy screen really hurts my eyes. It's that bad that I'm still suffering of headaches from the glare.

  • When the CPU is taxed, the Macbook Pro's chassis becomes one whole heatsink. Given that there are no grills on the bottom part of the chassis - the only part with the grill is at the hinge - it does get hot after a while. But not to the point of being "too hot to handle".

  • Having a keyboard that illuminates in the dark is pretty neat. While I do miss the Thinklight from a normal Thinkpad, the illuminated keyboard does its job pretty well.

  • I still miss the keyboard layout from my old Thinkpad. Having no dedicated Page UP/Down and Home/End keys is really a bummer. It really feels weird especially that I use those keys really often whenever I'm coding (in vim normally - an IDE is too much overkill for my tastes).

  • 1280 x 800 resolution in a 13" screen is anemic in 2009. My old Thinkpad T42p has a glorious 1400 x 1050 resolution on a 14" screen way back in 2005! Come on, Apple! Then again, my eyes would hurt far worse should the resolution be a 1440 x 900 on a 13" glossy screen.

  • Transferring gigabytes of data on USB 2.0 drives is really dog slow, whether backing up via Time Machine, or copying my old files from my wife's Macbook. I should've invested on external hard disks with Firewire connectors!

  • I really appreciate the two years I've been using Mac OSX. It's a balance between powerful and hassle-free. Sure, it's not as powerful as Linux (which I will continue to use and advocate), but it's hassle-free enough (as running Linux on random hardware doesn't produce good results compared to having an OS tailored exactly to the machine like the Macs).

Overall, I'm enjoying my time with the Macbook Pro, just as I had done so many years ago when I got my Thinkpad. It may not be a mobile workstation, but the Macbook Pro just suits my needs of having a fast machine for development with a very usable OS.

Syndicated 2009-08-16 13:28:00 (Updated 2011-08-20 17:30:59) from Living Core Dumps

20 Aug 2011 (updated 21 Aug 2011 at 21:08 UTC) »

Cito Beltran's Faulty Logic

In his column for the June 17, 2009 issue of The Philippine Star ("The great pumpkin", p. 14), Cito Beltran writes about some of his impressions about the Netherlands and Europe in general; his pen ranges from pigeons as big as chickens to the zeal with which hidden wealth is denounced in the United Kingdom. In the finest tradition of Filipino self-deprecation, Mr. Beltran also uses his impressions to reflect in a generally unfavorable manner upon certain aspects of Philippine society.

Towards the end of his column, Mr. Beltran observes that after centuries of being devoutly Protestant, the Dutch are no longer a churchgoing people due to "various influences, war and disillusionment." Yet he maintains that the Dutch people remain imbued with Biblical values in their daily conduct. Indeed, that he can't resist comparing the formerly Protestant Dutch people with the still-Catholic Filipino people in order to make a point at the expense of the Catholic Church.

Mr. Beltran writes:

"Even the staunchest Dutch atheists end up stammering when I point out that their character and conduct reflect the core values of the very faith that they reject. In the many days I spend just walking around The Hague, it became clear that the respect, courtesy, work ethics, social conduct of ethnic Dutch people reflect biblical conduct.

They are not religious or pious but centuries of Protestantism has (sic) resulted in generations of people who are sensitive to others, responsible for themselves and for their surroundings.

In contrast, 400 years of being "the only Catholic Country" in Asia has produced a religious society but not necessarily one where people live in their lives based on biblical standards. In other words we do the talk but we don't walk the walk.

Who was it that said, "one has faith that does not bear fruit, the other bears much fruit, but has no faith. Who then is better than the other"?

Thus saith Mr. Beltran, the self-proclaimed Born Again Christian.

First, we are astonished that someone who considers himself to be a Born Again Christian would consider it better to have no faith but have much fruit, than to have much faith and yet no fruit. Neither state is ideal, and surely even Born Again Christians consider both faith and good fruit to be essential to being Christian. However, since Born Again Christianity stands precisely on the embrace of faith alone as the path of salvation and the rejection of the view that good works -- good fruit -- have any bearing on one's salvation, one would think that Mr. Beltran would still consider someone who has faith to be better than someone who has no faith at all.

On the other hand, we are elated that Mr. Beltran concedes that Filipino Catholics have faith - after all, that is something that many of his fellow Born Again Christians refuse to even concede. At least there is hope for us Catholics!

Second, according to Mr. Beltran, the "social conduct of ethnic Dutch people reflect biblical conduct" due to their Protestant past. Is Mr. Beltran aware that the Netherlands has gay marriage, euthanasia even of children, and some of the world's most liberal abortion and drug laws? Does he consider these to be reflective of biblical conduct as well? Or is he just so dazzled by Holland's economic prosperity and neatness and the social graces of its inhabitants that he could no longer see that moral aberrations have struck deep roots in that same country? Using Mr. Beltran's line of reasoning, we must also consider Protestantism to be the source of the Dutch people's acceptance of gay marriage, euthanasia, drug use, abortion, and the abandonment of church-going. After all, as Mr. Beltran declares, their social conduct is due to Protestant influence!

Mr. Beltran would like to attribute to Protestantism the virtues of the Dutch people while remaining silent on the moral situation of the Netherlands. Why then would he link Catholicism to the lack of biblical conduct among the Filipino people? By what standard of reasoning does he apportion praise and blame? How convenient for him to attribute the virtues of a formerly Protestant country to Protestantism, while attributing the vices of a still-Catholic country to Catholicism! We have a term for this: double standard. The fact is that no country is perfect, and Protestant and Catholic countries alike have their peculiar strengths and weaknesses, their singular virtues and vices.

Neither Catholicism nor Protestantism claims to be able to eradicate sin completely from this world, and by that same token no Christian society can ever be a perfect image of the particular form of Christianity that it by and large espouses. No Christian society will ever be free of blemishes, blemishes that should not always be blamed on the principles upon which that society stands, for no society exists that can perfectly replicate Christian principles.

Before we leave this topic behind, Mr. Beltran should be corrected on one important point: the Netherlands' positive attributes are not due entirely to Protestantism. It has had a Protestant royal family since the 16th century, and until the 20th century it had a Protestant majority, but Holland has always had a large Catholic minority, and the roots of its prosperity and work ethic go back to the high medieval ages - when Holland was still one of the most devoutly Catholic nations in the whole world.

Syndicated 2009-06-21 23:34:00 (Updated 2011-08-20 17:30:59) from Living Core Dumps

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