Monday, March 30, 2015

Speaking of “Unintended Consequences”...........

Bill Levin, founder of the, so called, First Church of Cannabis Inc believes he is putting a fast one over on the State of Indiana and its controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Critics of RFRA claim that the law was enacted in order that Christians could discriminate against LGBTXYZ12@%. Levin has responded to the Governor's signing of RFRA by filing paperwork with the State for the First Church of Cannabis Inc., which Levin claims uses marijuana in the "church's" religious ceremonies.

Progressive sites are calling it a classic case of “unintended consequences.”

I have no idea how this will hold up in court, but I believe Levin needs to consider the unintended consequences of mocking God.

No one seriously believes that smoking marijuana is an actual sacrament in this would-be church.

On the "church" Facebook page, Levin is soliciting donations:

Individual Membership Donations $4.20 per month
Donate $ 100 or more and become a GREEN ANGEL.
Donate $ 500 or more and become a GOLD ANGEL
Donate $1000 or more and become a CHURCH POOHBA

Other than a list of "The New Deity Dozen", there is no mention of God in this "church".
Bill Levin - Minister of Love and Grand Pooba of the Church, proclaims we should all, "Practice these in your daily adventures in life, teach others to do the same".

1) Don't be an asshole. Treat everyone with Love as an equal.
2) The day starts with your smile every morning. when you get up, wear it first.
3) Help others when you can. Not for money, but because it's needed.
4) Treat your body as a temple. Do not poison it with poor quality foods and sodas.
5) Do not take advantage of people. Do not intentionally hurt anything.
6) Never start a fight... only finish them.
7) Grow food, raise animals get nature into your daily routine
8) Do not be a "troll" on the internet, respect others without name calling and being vulgarly aggressive.
9) Spend at least 10 mins a day just contemplating life in a quiet space.
10) when you see a bully... stop them by any means possible. Protect those who can not protect themselves.
11) Laugh often, share humor. Have fun in life, be positive.
12) Cannabis, "the Healing Plant" is our sacrament. It brings us closer to ourselves and others. It is our fountain of health, our love, curing us from illness and depression. We embrace it with our whole heart and spirit, individually and as a group.

I especially like #4. Treat your body as a temple. Do not poison it with poor quality foods and sodas......but it's OK to inhale smoke into your lungs, possibly setting yourself up for cancer or other lung diseases.

#7 tells us to raise animals. I'm guessing not for food, however, since #5 says we should not "intentionally hurt anything".

Levin may have pulled one over on Indiana, but not God. If Levin doesn't repent, he will one day suffer the consequences of his blasphemy.

Arizona State Senator Wants Mandatory Church Attendance.

According to wikipedia, Snowflake, Arizona was founded in 1878 by Mormon pioneers, Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake. Today, the town is represented in the Arizona State Senate by Republican Sylvia Allen.

One wonders if the good Senator is descended from the original settlers of the community. Recent comments would suggest that Sylvia Allen is definitely a Flake.

During a recent committee hearing concerning legislation that would allow individuals who have permits to carry concealed weapons to bring them into public buildings, Allen stated that she felt the committee should be debating a bill about mandatory church attendance instead of guns.

I agree with the Senators comments, "I believe what's happening to our country is that there is a horrible erosion of the soul of America" and "......we are slowly eroding religion ......." but the idea that we should pass a law requiring mandatory Sunday church attendance is absolutely insane. And Fascist.

It appears standard operating procedure for demagogues to want the government to make certain actions mandatory. Recently, President Obama opined that voting in elections should be mandatory. With Allen's idea concerning mandatory church attendance, Obama no longer has the dumbest idea of the week.

Sorry, But Cursive Writing is Obsolete.

I've come across this meme of Facebook quite a few times recently. Along with a photo of an example of cursive writing, there is the statement,

"Massachusetts is one of several states that wants to keep penmanship lessons in the curriculum. Do you think we should keep cursive writing alive?"

As I type this, 175,424 folks have "liked" this meme on Facebook and it looks as if all 175,424 have left a comment. I've not read every comment, but it appears as if only one person besides myself thinks teaching cursive is pretty much a waste of time.

Some of the dumber comments supporting the continuation of cursive went along the lines of  "cursive is needed so they can read our founding documents" if the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution aren't available in print form - online, no less. You don't have to travel to Washington, D.C. to see the original document in order to read it.

Another mind numbingly stupid comment was,

"Absolutely! What will we do if the electricity is out, the phones are out and we need to send a message!"

If the phones and electricity are out, the message would have to be hand delivered. By the time you drove across town, the electricity would probably be back on. If the power wasn't on, you could talk to the person face to need to even write the %$#@& message.

The origin of cursive writing is associated with practical advantages of writing speed and infrequent pen lifting to accommodate the limitations of the quill pen. News flash: no one uses a quill pen now-a-days.

The method of cursive taught in the United States from the late 1890s to the 1950s was called the Palmer Method which had been developed to allow the writer to effectively compete with the typewriter. Unlike in the early twentieth century, businesses no longer communicate with hand written letters. Cursive may have had its place 100 years ago, but other than when writing a signature, cursive is rarely used at all any more.

Here's a link to someone who has explained why cursive is obsolete, much better than I. He writes,

"Cursive writing is an anachronism. Spending any classroom time on it is comparable to teaching how to use an abacus: it’s interesting as a history lesson, and probably offers some side benefits, but it is not at all practical as a day-to-day skill in the modern, connected world."


"Just because you learned something in school doesn’t mean your kids should: the world is changing, quickly. And while it’s hard to make predictions about where technology is headed, it’s safe to say the future won’t involve a lot of cursive handwriting (unless some kind of disaster sends us back to 14th-century technology, in which case handwriting will be the least of our problems)."

I've never operated a cotton gin - once considered a valuable skill. I've never saddled a horse or hitched one to a cart, but I've gotten along just fine. I suppose if the phone and electricity and Internet go out, I won't be able to ride a horse to deliver my handwritten message.

Heavens forbid.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso's Appeal Rejected.

According to reports, [] Indonesia is preparing to move a Filipino death row inmate for execution after she lost her appeal in the Indonesian Supreme Court earlier this week.

While Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay renewed his appeal on Friday to Indonesian President Joko Widodo for the commutation of the death sentence of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, Indonesia has so far turned a deaf ear to all appeals from the international community.

Last week, published an article on the impact this tragedy has had on Veloso's parents.

I continue to ask for prayers for Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso and her family in Philippines.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Losin' With Cruz.

I'd like to "like" Sen. Ted Cruz; I really would. He and I agree on a good many things, not everything, of course, but sadly it's those few differences that rub me the wrong way.

The differences I have with the Senator can best be illustrated by his picking Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia as the location to announce his candidacy for the 2016 presidential race.

The Washington Post calls Liberty University"the symbolic center of the GOP political-religious universe". That may be true for the GOPs conservative Protestant wing, but for this conservative Catholic, I find the folks at Liberty not quite my cuppa coffee.

I've always found the late Jerry Falwell's particular brand of Protestantism more than a little creepy. Falwell was a strong supporter of 6-day, young earth creation as well the belief that global waming was "created to destroy America’s free enterprise system and our economic stability.”

Whenever I hear the words "Liberty University", I can't help but immediately think "6-day, young earth creation" and that, frankly, gives me the heebie–jeebies.

Cocoa Blog Post Updated.

A look at my Google Analytics has lead me to re-read a post of my from July, 2010. This post contained a few thoughts concerning slavery and abusive child labor in the cocoa industry. I have since learned that both Hershey and Nestlé have taken steps to deal with these problems. I have gone back to that 2010 post and put in an update.

The whole thing can be located here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Further Delays in the Case of the "Meditating Monk".

As reported in a blog post from February, the followers of Ashutosh Maharaj, the religious leader who had been declared clinically dead in January 2014, were scheduled to have another court hearing this past March 19 (2015) to learn whether Ashutosh's corpse  was to be cremated or allowed to continue its "meditation" in a freezer.

According to the Hindustan Times, the court has again adjourned in the matter - this time until April, 28.

Dalip Kumar Jha, who claims to be the son of Ashutosh, wants to have the body cremated. The latest court delay is in response to a number of affidavits having recently been filed which are said to back up Dalip Kumar Jha's claim.

If this case depends on whether or not Dalip Kumar Jha is indeed the son, it seems to me that this could be cleared up right away by a DNA test. Perhaps, there are details in the case which are not being reported. It looks like a pretty straight forward case to me. I guess I'm missing something.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

No Warren/Clinton Slugfest?

In December, after posting a piece entitled "The Warren/Clinton Slugfest", I created a label with the same name. Now, it appears that my creating that label was premature. In spite of the fact that Hillary Clinton is catching a lot of well-deserved flack, it doesn't appear that Warren is in the least bit interested in running for the Democratic nomination for President.

Fortunately for the Republicans, the Democrats don't have a likely replacement for Clinton. Too many in the Abortion Party are in love with her and will stick with her, even to their own detriment. I say that it's fortunate for the Republicans because I don't believe she can possibly win the general election. I agree with Monica Crowley on this : "No one — not even many of her fellow Democrats and leftists in the mainstream media — likes her very much".

I've always maintained that Obama's early support in 2007 / 2008 was as much an "anti-Hillary" vote as a "pro-Obama" one.

Honestly, I am so over writing about Clinton. Is she really the best America can come up with?

UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey recently opined that she wouldn't fight a male opponent because of the negative message seeing a man hit a woman would convey.

"I'll never say that I'll lose, but you could have a girl getting totally beat up on TV by a guy -- which is a bad image to put across. With all the football [domestic violence] stuff that's been happening, not a good idea. It's fun to theorize about and talk about, but it's something that's much better in theory than fact."

Seeing Hillary battered (politically) might be just as ugly.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Teens Commit Crime-mation.

There are times when I'll come across a news story that is either so bizarre or mind-numbingly stupid, that I can hardly resist posting something about it on this blog. When I can include a Youtube video, well, so much the better.

From the smoking gun:

"A trio of teenage burglars who stole cash, jewelry, electronics, and prescription drugs from a Missouri residence also thought they got away with a stash of cocaine they found in a wooden box, only to later discover that the powder was actually the cremated remains of the homeowner’s father, police report".

Devin Gesell, 17, (pictured ) admitted he and two accomplices, ages 15 and 16, broke into a St. Peters, Missouri home. Gesell was the lookout as the teenagers stole jewelry, prescription drugs, video games, $825 in cash and the remains of the homeowner's father. Gesell told police they discarded the ashes when they realized after tasting the cremains, it was not cocaine.

One would think that this story was bizarre enough, but now there is an added twist.

According to, the three were acquaintances of their victim, and they allegedly planned the caper after seeing a Facebook post announcing that the family was going out of town.

But wait, it gets better.

The homeowner says the two unnamed teenagers are relatives, and the ashes were the cremains of their own grandfather.

Sadly, the ashes can never be recovered.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Catholic Publications Call For Abolition of U.S. Death Penalty.

Some folks say that there are no coincidences. I don't know; I can't say for certain,one way or another. I do know, however, that when I wrote my two recent posts on the death penalty - [Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso and Australia and Indonesia at Odds over Death Penalty] - I was unaware that four leading Catholic publications would be issuing a joint editorial calling for an end to the death penalty in the U.S..

The four publications are;

National Catholic Register
National Catholic Reporter
America Magazine
Our Sunday Visitor.

Clicking on any of the links above will take you to the joint editorial.

While I applaud the publications' efforts, I am a little disappointed that in only one of the four publications - National Catholic Register - did any other writer in the respective publication add anything.

The National Catholic Register had death penalty articles by Pat Archbold of Creative Minority Report and Mark Shea. Mr. Shea went above and beyond the call of duty by posting a second piece on this on his Patheos blog.

While generally against the death penalty, Archbold is leery of the USCCB  "specifically calling on a Court to override the proper legislative authority of the states". I can certainly sympathize with his concerns.

I do not always agree with Mark Shea, but I want to highly recommend his Remarks on Pro-Death Penalty Arguments . He does an excellent job hitting ever pro-death penalty argument out there. If there are any arguments he's missed, I'd love to hear them.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso

Quite a lot of cyber ink has been used regarding the case of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the two Australian nationals scheduled to be executed by firing squad in Indonesia for drug offenses. I've even posted their story myself - [Australia and Indonesia at Odds over Death Penalty.].

Being against the death penalty, I pray that Indonesian President Joko Widodo will change his mind and grant clemency, but it appears very unlikely that Chan and Sukumaran will escape execution. The pair have already been transferred to the 'Iron Prison' awaiting execution.

While, as I say, much has been written on the two Australians, very little has been written about the other death row inmates convicted of drug offenses in Indonesia. One inmate in particular is a 30 year old Filipina named Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso. According to,

Veloso, who comes from a poor family in Bulacan, north of Manila, only finished high school. She was in Malaysia supposedly to work as a domestic helper, but her would-be employer failed to meet her, the court heard on Tuesday. With two children back home, she agreed to an offer to bring two suitcases to Indonesia.

She was only supposed to bring the two suitcases with her on board the April 25, 2010, AirAsia flight from Kuala Lumpur to Yogyakarta, and someone was supposed to pick her up at the airport and get the package from her.

But that last part never happened, because she was arrested before exiting the airport. Concealed inside the suitcases were packs of heroin wrapped in aluminum foil estimated to have a street value of IDR6.5 billion at the time.

Like all the other inmates scheduled to be executed for drug offenses, President Joko Widodo has rejected her clemency request.

However, the country’s Supreme Court has agreed to review her case, giving Philippine officials and the woman’s family momentary relief.

Veloso does not speak English or Indonesian and it has been maintained that her court appointed Tagalog translator was not a qualified translator, but a student.

Being against the death penalty, I wouldn't want to see Veloso executed, even if she were guilty of the offense, but in this case, I believe her to be innocent of the charges. Knowing what I know about the situation regarding many Filipinas, I find her story absolutely credible.

I can only ask for prayers for her and her family.

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.