Saturday, August 16, 2003

BLACKOUT SLIDE SHOW There is a sattelite picture here of the northeast showing the reduction of light during the blackout. The website offers a slide show which I didn't find particularly interesting except for the pictures linked below. There is this picture of a tourist stranded in an airport who has made a bed out of the luggage carrel. Notice how carefully he has placed his shoes side by side? Product of a lifetime of neatness, I bet....or maybe just a cranky wife? This picture of New York at dusk with the lights out is interesting as well, as is this one of the Brooklyn Bridge. Here's the New York skyline at sunset. Then there is this one of undaunted American enterprise. And this one as well. "You might find these useful, sir." "Hmmm. I don't know....I may already have some at home." Or how about this "Light of Christ"? No, "It's a Jewish candle" you say. Ah, then it must be a "Pre-Cana" candle. Blue Collar George, the apprentice. "What did you say I should do with this thing?" This picture speaks of things which have nothing to do with electricity. It's arguably the best of the bunch. Creative use of car battery. Calcutta New York. More of the same. Don't roll over. This is heartbreaking. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE MYSTERIOUS BLACKOUT No conclusions have yet been reached as to why we were in the dark for so many hours on Thursday. This latest speculation proposes an "event" in Ohio, but doesn't offer any reason for it yet. I'm still thinking about the LovSan virus that shut down so many computers, and wondering if another sort of computer virus could have caused the blackout, since power generating facilities rely heavily on computer technology. Wouldn't it be a hoot if Johnny Doe, messing with his computer in the family room, gave a quarter of the United States an unscheduled "vacation"? (Hey, I've got to get that in while the jury is still out on the real cause, because it's fascinating to contemplate, at least in the mind of this speculator. Meanwhile, Michael Brown offers a different speculation. One that may have some merit? (I mean the one all the way down at the bottom of his article.) CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, August 15, 2003

BLACKOUT What caused it? According to Cleveland news last night it was caused by lightning hitting a Niagra Falls area power plant. Today CNN is indicating the cause has not been established, but hints it may be a spike in demand for power in Canada. According to the BBC, fire in a power plant caused the outage. ABCNews.com is blaming the outage on lightning. One of the unique concerns caused by the outage was people in wheel chairs caught on the upper floors of skyscrapers. They had to be carried out of the buildings. Another concern was the increase in fires caused by candles. We were fortunate in my area. The power stayed on. However, parts of Akron lost power, particularly downtown, though there have been no serious problems and no traffic gridlock even at the busiest intersection. Drivers reverted calmly to the 4-way stop procedure. In the Cleveland suburbs apparently the power came on for a while this morning, went off, and came back on again. Cleveland is on a boil alert. All of the Cuyahoga County libraries are shut down as are a long list of businesses and organizations. Many events and meetings have been cancelled. Cleveland airport is not yet back to normal. To the best of my knowledge there has been no looting. Interesting that the power outage followed a computer virus that shut down millions of computers. Coincidence? Most likely, I guess. Still... So was it terrorism? A legitimate cause such as lightning? Was it a trial run for something? Chaos magick? Will we ever be told what caused it? CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, August 14, 2003

ANOTHER FLIP-FLOP/ The Pope seems to have done an about face on the subject of genetically engineered seeds. Plans being laid at the Vatican to throw the Pope's vast moral influence behind the cultivation of genetically modified crops have sparked a row within the church. An Italian archbishop, Renato Martino, is the prelate behind the pro-GM lobby and the equivalent of a minister in the Pope's government. His department, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which deals with ethical issues, is preparing to publish a report on the use of biotechnology in agriculture which, the archbishop has already hinted, will give a favourable verdict. He told Vatican radio: "The problem of hunger involves the conscience of every man. For this reason the Catholic church follows with special interest and solicitude every development in science to help the solution of a plight that afflicts ... humanity." Indeed the problem of hunger involves every conscience. But what does that have to do with the possibility that genetically engineered crops will put the ability to grow food in the hands of agri-business? The Pope has so far been cautious. Two years ago, he set the tone for a wide-ranging inquiry when he declared that GM agriculture could not be judged solely on the basis of "short-term economic interests", but needed to be subject to "a rigorous scientific and ethical process of verification". A church official who has met Archbishop Martino described him as "unusually forthright and voluble". The official added that the eventual report from the Vatican might be couched in more ambiguous language - not least because he expected a determined campaign by developing world clerics to water it down. Makes no sense to me that the Pope would be on the side of corporate wealth instead of the poor. CarrieTomko@aol.com

SENATOR DOUGLAS ROCHE demonstrates the lexicon of weasel words that will be employed by Catholic legislators who want to remain in office and remain in the Church: I write as a Catholic legislator of 18 years' experience in the House of Commons and Senate, and one who opposes same-sex marriages. My opposition is based on my assessment of what marriage is. But in a pluralistic society, all legislators must work for the common good without sacrificing the importance of individual freedom and responsibility. Moral matters are very delicate terrain, and the Catholic legislator must be careful not to impose, for the sake of religion, his or her beliefs on the public. Just as we do not want the state to control the exercise of religion we must ensure that religion does not attempt to control the determination of public laws. I am guided by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), which is replete with references to the Church as a servant, not dominator, of humanity. The 16 documents of the Council did away with condemnatory language and advanced the concepts of social justice in its many dimensions. As usual, Vatican II documents are being used to condone a non-Catholic position. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE POPE'S SECRET PASSAGE will be open to tourists soon. CarrieTomko@aol.com

EARTHQUAKE POTENTIAL BUILDING UP NEAR VANCOUVER ISLAND Researchers at Columbia University say the West Coast could soon be facing its worst earthquake in centuries. New research focusing on the coastal waters off Vancouver show that the area where the Juan de Fuca and North America plates overlap is almost twice the size that they thought. Columbia's Earthquake Institute says the original estimate for the zone where the tectonic plates interlock, called Northern Cascadia, was 56 kilometres. The area is now believed to be 90 kilometres. If the earthquake doesn't happen, the volcano might... �A monumental threat,� said William E. Scott, scientist in charge of the Cascades Volcano Observatory, a USGS center that monitors volcanoes from California to Alaska. Volcanologists determined in the late 1990s that the mountain is far more unstable than previously thought, and they have since persuaded local emergency management officials to launch an early-warning system and a major public-awareness campaign. Tens of thousands of people are being told to �enjoy the volcano in your back yard� but to be prepared to run away from it � fast. The town nearest Rainier has about 40 minutes to flee. Inside the national park that encircles the mountain, scientists in recent months have shortened the run-for-it survival time to five minutes. While the west coast shakes and explodes, Europe melts... PARIS - About 3,000 people have died in France of heat-related causes since abnormally high temperatures swept across the country about two weeks ago, the health ministry estimated Thursday.It was the government's first official death toll estimate. One of the few organizations to issue an estimate, France's emergency hospital physicians' association, had earlier this week said the death toll was at least 100."We can now state what's happening to us is a veritable epidemic," Health Minister Jean-Francois Mattei said on France-Inter radio.... According to 2002 figures, the Paris regional hospitals that were surveyed could have expected some 39 deaths a day, the ministry said. But on Aug. 12 this year, during the heat wave, they recorded nearly 180, it said. Unless you're in Greece where there is a whole lot of shaking going on: ATHENS, Greece (AP) - A powerful earthquake struck islands in western Greece on Thursday, cracking roads, toppling lampposts and touching off a panicked exodus toward the mainland. The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.4, was centered 19 miles west of the Ionian Sea island of Lefkada, about 175 miles northwest of Athens, said the Athens Geodynamic Institute. Meanwhile the summer here in northeast Ohio has been fabulous...much cooler than normal so far, with rain nearly every day, making the flowers the best I can remember. In fact I had Asian lilies that were taller than me, and a holyhock that bloomed up near the rain gutters. It looks like the environmentalists aren't going to be able to make a campaign out of our unusual weather: Dr. Nir Shaviv, an astrophysicist from the Racah Institute of Physics of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Prof. Jan Veiser a geochemist at the University of Ottawa in Canada and Ruhr University in Germany, say that temperature variations are due more to cosmic forces than to the actions of man. In a recent article published in GSA Today (the journal of the Geographic Society of America) and described in Nature, Shaviv and Veiser tell of their studies illustrating a correlation between past cosmic ray flux � the high-energy particles reaching us from stellar explosions -- and long-term climate variability, as recorded by oxygen isotopes trapped in rocks formed by ancient marine fossils. The level of cosmic ray activity reaching the earth and its atmosphere is reconstructed using another isotopic record in meteorites. Ummmm...yeah...whatever he said. These stories brought to you by the friendly people at Spirit Daily. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

LEE PENN'S ARTICLE "BEWARE! THE NEW AGE MOVEMENTIS MORE THAN SELF-INDULGENT SILLINESS is up at the M+G+R website. It's too long to paste here, unfortunately. If you haven't read it and are interested in New Age, it's worth the time to check it out. CarrieTomko@aol.com

I EXPECT IT'S WRITTEN IN ITALIAN which leaves me out. Still it's an interesting article from Sandro Magister about a new Italian magazine from the Underground Press called "Il Timone". A Catholic apologetics magazine. The intention of the writers is to counter progressivist Catholic thought and defend Catholic doctrine. It already has 7,000 subscribers for the bi-monthly publication. In January 2004 it will go to monthly. The article gives a partial list of its contributors, but none of the names mean anything to me. CarrieTomko@aol.com

REFORM IN LITURGICAL MUSIC is being called for by Valentino Miserachs Grau, Dean of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. It's a long article and I confess I didn't read all of it. I read far enough to see the words: "Gregorian chant, polyphony, and organ music" and conclude that the reforms he is proposing in fidelity to the instructions of Vatican II would bring about an improvement that would be most welcome. CarrieTomko@aol.com

ECUMENISM AT ITS BEST The pilgrimmage cite of Walsingham in England is a destination for Catholics, Orthodox, and Anglicans alike. All three journey there to be present as a site where the Mother of God appeared. Read the BBC article about the shrine and see a video at this website. Information about the Anglican shrine is here. There are pictures of the slipper chapel here. There are three Orthodox churches in the area. You can see pictures of them at this website. Most interesting of the three, to me anyway, is the Chapel of the Life-Giving Spring of the Mother of God which is situated inside the Anglican Shrine, and was established there at the request of the Anglican shrine authorities. What better place for ecumenism to take place than at the feet of the Mother of God who will always lead us to her Divine Son? Before the cross, at the feet of Christ, we are all one. It is only as we move away from this gracefilled place that we cast our eyes on each other instead of on God, and create division. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Monday, August 11, 2003

MARY MAGDALENE It's no secret that she has been adopted by the Gnostics and raised to a position of near-goddess. This website is a good example of Gnostic liturgy. It celebrates Mary Magdalene, referring to the Gnostic gospel in which MM is said to have kissed Jesus on the lips and been most loved by Him. The liturgy was written by "Soror Lucia." "Soror" is a designation of a female in a Lodge of Co-Masonry, and in magical societies. In further exploration of this website I found the DaVINCI CODE featured on their Table of Contents webpage. The Articles link features articles by Margaret Starbird, and a couple by members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. I wonder if Dan Brown is one of their own? Starbird has written THE WOMAN WITH THE ALABASTER JAR (about Mary Magdalene), THE GODDESS IN THE GOSPELS and THE TAROT TRUMPS AND THE HOLY GRAIL. Starbird has also been features on Call to Action programs. Our Lady's Warriors exposes some details of the Call to Action 1998 Conference, including: The Sacred Marriage in Christianity: Partnership SpiritualityMargaret Starbird draws on her 1993 book, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, for research evidence that the sacred marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene was once at the very heart of Christianity. She examines this new partnership model which results from restoring the lost bride to the Christian story -- and the neglected feminine principle in our lives and our spiritual journey. Come to discuss, journal, and meditate on the partnership paradigm. Starbird studied in Kiel, Germany and Vanderbilt Divinity School. She gives workshops and retreats based on her research into the marriage of Jesus. Sat., 1:30 PM and 8 PM. Incl. Q/A. [Jesus married to Mary Magdalene? What absolute heresy! Yet another radical feminist angle.] I have a printout of a website listing CTA's 8th Annual Call to Action National Conference which is no longer online. It lists "Margaret Starbird, The Sacred Marriage in Christianity: Partnership Spirituality Here is another website which is dedicated to Mary Magdalene - Goddess in the Gospels. The website makes reference to Sr. Christine Shenk of FutureChurch and Call to Action saying: Mary Magdalene had such a privileged role in the Gospels that it seems there was an attempt to put her in a bad light." Which is exactly what Sister Christine Schenk says she is trying to reverse. Schenk is executive director of the Cleveland-based FutureChurch. Two years ago, Schenk's group in conjunction with another Catholic group, Chicago-based Call to Action, launched the national observance of a July 22 feast of Mary Magdalene. It has grown from 28 prayer services last year to a reported 100 services this past July. "The Mary Magdala project emerged," Schenk says, "because it makes contemporary biblical scholarship available, and it provides woman ministers to preside at a prayer service." Schenk says her group is not calling for women's ordination but for "women's equal call to ministry in the Catholic Church." Pope John Paul II, where are you? Anthony Pilla, Bishop of the Cleveland Diocese, home of FutureChurch, where are you? Why are you allowing this heresy to percolate through the Church without taking action to censor it? CarrieTomko@aol.com

INTERESTING BLOG sent in by a reader--Oswald Sobrino's Catholic Analysis CarrieTomko@aol.com

Sunday, August 10, 2003

SADDAM IS AN OCCULTIST according to the Christian Science Monitor. BAGHDAD � As US forces rolled into Baghdad, Saddam Hussein, the Ace of Spades in the US Army's deck of cards of wanted Iraqis, did a spectacular vanishing act. Many Iraqis believe their former leader, a lifelong dabbler in the occult, will never be found by coalition troops scouring the country. His trick, they say, is a magic stone that protects him from harm. Mr. Hussein and his inner circle were obsessed with the dark arts: his son Uday even advertised on his own television channel for those with supernatural powers to come forward and serve the ruling family. In a country where decades of isolation and repression have cut people off from the modern world, belief in the occult is commonplace, and Iraqis regularly consult soothsayers to find stolen cars or tackle mental illness. Many believe Hussein has shrouded himself in his dark powers. And a little further down in the article: The interest in the occult was widespread in the regime. Hussein's vice-president, Izzat Ibrahim, was said to have brought a sect of seers and shamans, the Kaznazani, from his native northern district of Iraq and housed them in Baghdad. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE SMOKING DOCUMENT May be nothing more than a candle flame afterall. The Vatican document deals exclusively with solicitation: an offense which, by definition, occurs within the context of the Sacrament of Penance. And since that sacrament is protected by a shroud of absolute secrecy, the procedures for dealing with this ecclesiastical crime also invoke secrecy. In short, by demanding secrecy in the treatment of these crimes, the Vatican was protecting the secrecy of the confessional. The policy outlined in that 1962 document is clearly not intended to protect predatory priests; on the contrary, the Vatican makes it clear that guilty priests should be severely punished and promptly removed from ministry. It is important to keep in mind that the 1962 Vatican Instruction dealt exclusively with "solicitation" as that term is understood in ecclesiastical usage, under the terms of the Code of Canon Law. The policies set forth by Cardinal Ottaviani do not pertain to the sexual misdeeds of clerics, but to the efforts by priest to obtain sexual favors though the misuse of their confessional role. CarrieTomko@aol.com

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