Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Post-Christmas Tuesday Post

Hi, all! I hope your Christmas was a pleasant one.

I have found out that I need to go Mass far more often than I do. The Christmas Eve Mass at St. Mary's in Buffalo Grove was very different than what I'm used to. There were quite a few changes from the Masses I used to know and love. For one, it seemed so upbeat. It wasn't as solemn as I remember. I understand the commemoration of Jesus' birth as a cause of celebration. It just seemed like we were supposed to be more solemn in our rememberances back even two years ago. After all, He came to this world to suffer and die for our sins, and that was the central reason for our Mass. I suppose that since this was the childrens' Mass it wouldn't do to focus upon that. And I also really need to check in to what Mass is what. I felt, well, kind of uncomfortable there. I guess if I'd had children participating in the Christmas pageant it would be different. Next time, I suppose I should try to find the not-so-sociable single people's Mass or something. Seriously, though, Saint Mary's parish is beautiful, and I hope to be at Mass on a far more regular basis. The folks there are quite friendly.

Easter, on the other hand, now THAT'S a time to celebrate.

Well, let's check in on the news, shall we? A little thing on WLS this morning reminded me that yesterday was the 1-year anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami. The amount of direct donations and support we gave to the affected countries, especially Indonesia, shows that we're good people no matter how much some Europeans talking heads may act. At least we know how to distribute money properly between relief and overhead, unlike the UN's tsunami relief efforts. If they keep that up, every UN employee can have a Mercedes-Benz sedan for his own personal use, just like Secretary-General Kofi Annan's son.

Nationally, the press is still running around trying to find out more dirt on the warrantless eavesdropping incidents that are causing folks to stop and think about what's happening with our intelligence gathering agencies. Slate's Mickey Kaus thinks this could be a gold mine for President Bush's approval instead of a land mine. After all, this shows that the President's administration really is trying to sniff out those who would do harm to us, according to Mr. Kaus. Kaus, mind you, isn't exactly a supporter of President Bush. The item is titled "So that's what he's been doing" if you want to locate it quickly. Mr. Kaus also seems to think that massive monitoring through the Echelon system is okay (according to his post on 12/24/05), which makes me wonder if he meant what he said sarcastically. Even after spending time in the Air Force where secrecy was paramount and monitoring was regular, monitoring via Echelon still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

There was also this little incident where a student at the University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth was claiming he was "being monitored by Homeland Security agents" for trying to check out a copy of the Quotations of Mao Zedong (the "Little Red Book" of the Cultural Revolution and 1960s leftist veneration). Well, wouldn't you know? It was all a hoax. The student (who is very lucky that his local paper is keeping his name off the front page) finally confessed to the lie after he shifted his story more times than a NASCAR transmission. If anyone pinned their hopes on this case as being the one to prove once and for all that the Patriot Act was oppressing the poor, pitiable and stupid college student, well, they were wrong.

Here in Illinois, some good news for the Pro-Life crowd: Abortions are at a 30-year low. Is this due to abstinence programs, better contraceptives, or more women listening to their consciences and asking God for guidance? Pro-abortion advocates say that it's due to better access to conraceptives, and anti-abortion spokespeople are citing teen abstinence programs. My own personal hope is that more women are asking God for guidance and deciding to let their babies live and get the chance to become useful members of society. I'm probably way off the mark, but I'll keep the hope there. Everyone is looking for one solid answer and I think that you'll see a lot of scientific answers and fewer answers based on religious faith. It's the right thing, but for the wrong reasons. Over 41 thousand babies were aborted last year according to the article. It's over 41 thousand too many as far as I'm concerned. Yes, I know, there I go again with my Utopian dreams, but this is one thing I think that could resolved far more easily.

Onto the college circuit where it seems that Southern Illinois University at Carbondale is having its Christmas break. So, I thought you all might be interested in taking a look at these memos sent to me that outlined the current arguments in the investigations of race-based fellowships at the school. I don't see any mention of them on the website listed on the November 4 memo (located on the page 1 of the memo marked "DOJ August." So with this, I urge my readers to follow the credo of "reader beware." I HAVE NOT YET BEEN ABLE TO VERIFY THE VERACITY OF THESE MEMOS, SO BE VERY CAREFUL IN READING TOO MUCH INTO THEM.

Here is the initial memo marked July 19 2005. This is the DOJ's initial announcement of complaints.

Following that, we have a second memo informing SIUC counsel that the Department of Justice found merit to the claims and would pursue a suit unless the university modified its stance on race-preferential fellowships. NOTE: This memo was received by me backwards from page 3 to page 1. Scroll to the bottom and work your way up the screen to read it.

Finally, there is SIUC's counsel giving a response to the above two memos. The message boils down to "Prove it, but please don't sue us if you don't mind." Sounds like a good tactic to me.

I'm going to double check these with the DOJ for their accuracy. I don't think we'll have another Texas Air National Guard memo fiasco like the 2004 election season, but it never hurts to look twice. Anyway, read these primary source documents and make your own decisions.

In the world of the NFL, Indy lost. Again. This had better not be indicative of a trend. I would like to be able to start my posts on football next season with "The World Champion Indianapolis Colts..." On the other hand, this was the expected loss of the season, as Seattle has a dynamite team. Adding head coach Tony Dungy's loss of a son last week, and you can see how the Colts wouldn't be up to par this time. Next week, though, look out.

So, folks, that's about it. I hope you all have a wonderful week and a Happy New Year if I don't write again this week. Later!

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