Monday, March 2, 2015

The Right of Way.

Over the past 12 months or so, I've been devouring everything "Sherlock Holmes". Thanks to PBS and Netflix, I've managed to watch every episode of Sherlock more than twice. Then, thanks to Youtube, I've watched the entire 41 episodes of the series with Jeremy Brett as Holmes. From there, it was on to the fourteen films with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

Finally, with the the 1959 version of The Hound of the Baskervilles starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, I'd watched four adaptations of that classic.

Having watched all the Sherlock Holmes I could get my hands on, I downloaded a copy of Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles novel from Project Gutenberg. Just before finishing the novel, I learned that the book was number 7 on the list of the top selling novels of 1902.

I was curious about the list and what books made up the other nine for that year.

The list:

1. The Virginian by Owen Wister

2.Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch by Alice Caldwell Hegan (Alice Hegan Rice)

3.Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall by Charles Major

4.The Mississippi Bubble by Emerson Hough

5.Audrey by Mary Johnston

6.The Right of Way by Gilbert Parker

7.The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

8.The Two Vanrevels by Booth Tarkington

9.The Blue Flower by Henry van Dyke

10.Sir Richard Calmady by Lucas Malet

I decided that my next reading project would be to read the ten. Being in the public domain, all are available on Project Gutenberg - for free, of course.

Where to begin?

I'd just roll with the flow. For no particular reason, I began with Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. I can understand why it made the list. It's funny. Not rip roaring, but funny in a nice, old fashioned way.

From there, I went to number one on the list, The Virginian by Owen Wister. The novel has been adapted into a number of movies, and a popular television program. Frankly, I thought the novel was passable. I don't really understand why it was the number one book of that year.

The next book on the list was, for me, number six, The Right of Way by Gilbert Parker. Where The Virginian and Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch made the top ten list for 1902 and 1903, The Right of Way made the list for 1901 and 1902.

Gilbert Parker had four novels to make the top ten list for best sellers.

The Battle of the Strong tied for number ten in 1898, The Right of Way 1901 and 1902, The Weavers 1907 and 1908 and The Judgement House in 1913.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Right of Way, so much in fact, I'm tempted to skip the rest of the 1902 list until after I've read more of Parker's work.

It would be difficult for me to give an adequate review of Parker's novel. I can only say that I recommend it.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

National Catholic Distorter Uses Presbyterian to Distort Catholic Teaching.

To a good many traditionally minded Catholics, the National Catholic Reporter is refered to as the National Catholic Distorter because of their disapproval of many of the teachings of the Church, especially in the areas of contraception, women clergy and married priests.

In looking for definite signs of their distortion of Catholicism, we need look no further than the website's publishing of the opinions of Presbyterian elder,Bill Tammeus. His latest bit of nonsense is entitled How churches can keep up with the evolving definition of marriage.

He writes,

"Marriage is changing, and the Episcopal Church, unlike many other branches of Christianity, has awakened to the news and is thinking deeply about how to respond.

All of Christianity should do the same."


According to Tammeus, following the lead of the Episcopal Church, all of Christianity should work on creating a ceremony through which to bless same-sex unions.

Tammeus goes on.

"In almost any Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox congregation today, you'll find young couples, both heterosexual and homosexual, cohabitating. And you'll find older single people living together but not married for many reasons, including issues of taxes and inheritance laws."

"Are all of these people -- often faithful church members -- 'living in sin,' as the old phrase so indelicately puts it?"


In a word, Mr.Tammeus, yes.

Tammeus believes that one reason many people -- both young and old -- have abandoned the Church, is the Church's universal failure to accept "marriage's changing nature". If the Church will get with the program, more folks will want to stay.

What absolute hogwash.

In John, Chapter six, we find,

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, 'This saying is hard; who can accept it?'

Then,

As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

Jesus did not modify His teaching in order to keep followers. Neither should the Church.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mars One's Space Cadets.

I vaguely remember reading about Mars One a year or so ago. I recall looking at a few of the applicants' videos, but the project didn't hold my interest long enough for even one blog post. I'm sure I would have forgotten entirely about the
scamproject had I not come across a piece on chinadaily.com naming the four Chinese candidates who had made the top 100 list for the one way trip to Mars.
Of these 100, 24 will be chosen to receive special training for the six one-way trips.

A list of the 100 can be found here.

The four Chinese candidates are Li Dapeng and Lin Xiaoxia from China, Sue Ann Pien from the US and Maggie Lieu from the UK.

Li Dapeng, a married man with at least one child, does not have his family's support. According to chinadaily.com Li will continue to be part of the project, though he might drop out halfway if his family voices strong disapproval. Of the 100 names on the list, he is the only candidate who does not give English as his language. In the unlikely event that this
scamproject does take off, I don't see him being in the top 24.......you have to be able to communicate with your fellow Martians, after all.

While over 200,000 people took the project seriously enough to apply for one of the 24 spots, not everyone believes anyone from Mars One will ever visit the red planet.

Dailymail.co.uk lists a few reasons why Mars One won't happen.

Mars One estimates the cost for the project to be $6 billion. Most outside experts consider that estimate far too low. It's probably a mote point since the company hasn't come close to raising the $6 billion.

"It’s estimated that the company has raised only a few million dollars in funding, and last year an Indiegogo campaign to raise just £260,000 ($400,000) failed".

The company also has no spacecraft in development, or rocket that can launch anything into space.
The company has not shown any research into the effects of microgravity on humans, or how they plan to keep humans safe during their mission to Mars.

Quite probably the candidate who has received the most exposure is the American Sonia Van Meter (AKA Bourbonface) who recently wrote a piece for Time, and whose husband, Jason Standford wrote an article for Texas Monthly last year.

Not everyone leaving a comment on Standford's article was supportive of the wanna-be astronaut.

"If she would abandon you for Mars, she would abandon you for something else if she deemed it sufficiently novel."

"The whole article is about poor beta male Jason and his wife, who studied sociology and works at a political consulting firm, suddenly deciding to drop all her commitments on his lap and run off on a one-way trip to Mars".

"If she had to ask if she was being a bad wife, she already has her answer. It just shows how she didn't bother to think about what she was doing, how her dream will affect her family. Whether she stays or goes at this point in immaterial, she's already shown she's not really committed to being a wife and mother."

I don't want to be seen as beating a dead horse, but I cannot understand how Van Meter made this list. She doesn't appear to have any particular scientific expertise - she is the Managing Director of Stanford Caskey, a national Democratic opposition research firm. Giving her the benefit of the doubt by assuming she does her current job very well, I don't see that as qualifying her for a mission to Mars. Unless, of course, the Mars One group views Democrats as de facto space cadets.

She'll turn 45 in 2024 when the first of the six voyages are supposed to take place......55 in '34 for the final trip. OK, 60 may be the new 30, does Mars One really want middle-aged colonists?

Judging by her photos posted with the Times article , Van Meter doesn't appear to be the athletic type. Will she have the stamina nine or ten years from now to colonize an uninhabitable planet?

It's being reported that the Astronauts Vying for One-Way Ticket to Mars May Be on Reality TV. There are some who believe that Mars One is simply a Truman Show-style scam and that the candidates won't actually be sent to Mars; they'll be tricked into believing they've left Earth while being kept in a Big Brother type environment.

With the money Mars One has available for their project, that seems to be the most logical assessment.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ingrid Bergman - Time Traveler.

India Times.com recently published online, a photo gallery of several famous people who had died on their birthday. Of the twenty one celebrities listed, I am only familiar with four or five.

One of my favorites on the list is Ingrid Bergman.



Oddly enough, not only was I surprised to learn that she was born and had died on August 29, but I was equally shocked to find out that she had also been a time traveler. At least that's the way I interpret the information in the gallery.

India Times gives Ms Bergman's date of birth as Aug. 29, 1982 and her death as 1915. According to the site, she died before she was born. The only explanation I could come up with for this is that she had to have been a time traveler......quite possibly on the TARDIS.

If anyone has a better explanation, I'd love to hear it.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Australia and Indonesia at Odds over Death Penalty.

In April, 2005, nine Australian citizens were arrested at Denpasar airport in Bali on suspicion of attempting to smuggle more than eight kilos of heroin out of Indonesia, following a tip from Australian police.
All nine were subsequently convicted; seven are currently serving sentences of between 20 years and life, while two - Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who the court has determined had recruited the others - were sentenced to death by firing squad.



I want to say from the start that my feelings on capital punishment follow the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Pope John Paul II :

[Punishment] ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo has a policy of denying clemency for all drug offenders, and has chosen to ignore Australia's (and the UN's) pleas for mercy.

As much as I agree that the death penalty is too harsh a penalty, I can't say I agree with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's approach.

In 2004, Australia sent over $1 billion (Australian) in aid to Indonesia after the Boxing Day tsunami. Abbott is of the opinion that Indonesia needs to "pay back" Australia's generosity by not carrying out the executions.

"I would say to the Indonesian people and the Indonesian government: We in Australia are always there to help you, and we hope that you might reciprocate," Abbott said.

So, humanitarian aid must be paid back? There are strings attached? We aren't supposed to help our fellow man without getting something in return?

According to the bbc,

Mr Abbott suggested there would be consequences if the appeals were ignored.

"We will be making our displeasure known. We will be letting Indonesia know in absolutely unambiguous terms that we feel grievously let down."


I understand the frustrations of the Australians who want the Indonesian government to show mercy toward Sukumaran and Chan. Bali has been a popular vacation spot for Australians, but now, many in Australia are calling for a boycott.

In response, many in Indonesia believe "it's time for Australia to educate their people about how to behave as tourists" by not adding to the drug problem.

While the executions have been postponed, it's only a matter of time. Sukumaran and Chan are in need of our prayers.

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