Etymology of the Papacy

As you may or must have heard by now, Pope Benedict XVI has stepped down from office before his term was up. Or, to be more ambiguous, before his term was laid to rest alongside his cousin(?) (I’m not Catholic, so I don’t know the family structure between the Pope and ol’ JC.)

In light of this news, I thought it’d be beneficial to know the proper wordage for handling a world with multiple Popes.

A group of popes is known as a popery, similar to a nunnery or a nursery. If you’re talking about separate groups of popes, then you are speaking of disparate poperies.

When referring to a pope when there are other living single vessels of God hanging around the house, it’s best to refer to them by their papal name. However, sometimes casually you’ll just mention ‘the pope’ and unfortunately forcing a conversation regarding which one. For quick reference, until time sorts out the problem, here is your two-pope solution: Refer to the yet-to-be-named pope as ‘the new pope’ while former pope Benedict XVI can be referred to as the shadow pope or the sleepy pope. Once again, one simple snarky adjective can make a world of difference!

The history of the term popery is a fascinating one. Because as I’m sure has been mentioned, a pope hasn’t stepped down from his high chair since 1415. The world has changed a great deal in those nigh-on six centuries. Back in the early 15th Century, when dealing with the last papal resignation, the people of the time were still hesitant to bathe properly. So while there was a popery in Rome, each pope would don different perfumes to distinguish themselves. It is surprising how easy it is to mix up guys wearing pointy white hats (just ask the KKK!)

These different scents were very particular and known across Europe, even as far as the British Isles. England, home of my native tongue, was still heavily influenced by the Norman French ruling class at that time. And this is why to this day we have a French word and spelling for a bouquet of scents: potpourri.

Simpsons Conventional Wisdom

Rewatching two decade old episodes of The Simpsons means I am privy to the culture of the mid nineties. And it is still amazing how little the world changes.

In this slice of wisdom, Bart’s elephant Stampy visits the RNC and the DNC.

Yup.

I feel that way still. I’ve never felt comfortable under the tent of either party. Since coming of age during the Bush Junior presidency, his failed economics and watching the Ailes and religious culture warriors hijacked the Republican Party has sent me furthest from their camp.

Democrats have become who I side with by default. Though they definitely are not my natural inclination, at least they are the party of inclusion. Supporting the 19th Amendment (women), the 1st Amendment (speech and secularity), the 4th Amendment (due process), the 2nd Amendment (bear arms), the Civil Rights Acts, etc. Though I’ll be the first to admit that Obama’s administration has fallen ridiculously short on the 4th. And I was plenty offended by the bullshit vote at the convention injecting God into the platform without a two-thirds majority. Yet still, I’ll take people who work with facts and reality and are willing to make a bargain.

The Democrats’ willingness to bargain and compromise and include all views does bite them in the ass, hence the inability to govern effectively. I know, because that’s how I try to operate. Everyone should have a say, everyone can get a little something from the deal. Trying to deal with those who reject science, reject compromise, reject a difference of opinion being allowed to exist. Failure is almost inevitable.

Let us never forget that our dear nation and home was built upon shitty, shitty compromises. A lot of them. At every turn. And still, here we are. Better off and further forward than we dreamed 30, 50, 100 years ago.

Of course, all this is really just an exaggerated form of my original caption to these:

Yup.

Rest Easy, Mr Jobs

I heard the news of Steve Jobs’ passing as soon as I opened a web browser last Tuesday night. There was no way to miss it. A dozen Facebook posts and Twitter essentially blew up. News travels fast in this world. A world made incredible mobile and easy to read thanks to him. Whether an Apple user or not, the landscape of technology was indelibly affected by him.

My life as an Apple user was not quick to come. I didn’t switch over until I got my first laptop, a PowerBook G4. That computer is probably still running somewhere, particularly with its strong OS, the thing that won me over in the first place. My feelings got stronger the more I used it and other computers like it. I’ve developed into an almost strictly Mac technician now. I don’t know that I would have if I was stuck with Microsoft-based systems. Maybe I would have gone to Linux, I don’t know.

I’ve been reading lovely eulogies and memories in general of the man and the environment and tools he created. While he didn’t code every bit of the systems he ran, his touch of refinement and the big ideas of their interconnection were his. He had a vision for what the world could be like that was not defined or limited by the way things are currently. We all could use a perspective like that.

The worst of it is that he was only 56. So young, so much time could have been left. He never put off what he knew he wanted to do, that much is obvious. And we should all be thankful for that fact. Still, I don’t think there is a person who can fathom the future he saw and probably was going to make in the next 25 years.

There’s not much I can really say, so I’ll pass on some links to a few of the things people have said and remembered about Steve Jobs. This man is and will long be remembered as someone of a caliber towards Edison, Franklin, and even Da Vinci.

  • One of my favorite stories about a 12-year-old Steve Jobs calling up a technology founder by the name of William Hewlett.

  • President Obama released a statement about the man. I think this says things well:

    Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.

    The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.

  • Though not really related to Mr Jobs the man, but a poignant comic about what killed him. 56 is too young. He was in his prime.

  • Stephen Colbert was the first to nearly draw a tear to my eye.

And for a final farewell, I think it’s best to end with an edit of an Apple ad, read by Steve Jobs himself.

Rest easy, Mr Jobs. And thank you for all you contributed.

Ten Years Later

[I’m going to go ahead and use a writing crutch: I am going to warn that this post is rather bitter. And also long-winded. And poorly edited. And has little to do with 9/11 itself, but more my long view of the aftermath. For a better, more direct story, this one is really good.]
This post falls into the inevitable category. The 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks has been all I’ve heard about and read this past week. Frankly, I’ve been avoiding it almost entirely. Other than when I’ve needed to drive around and wound up listening to public radio, I have skipped over a large number of articles.

I was 18 at the time, waiting for a late start to college. I woke up to an email from my then girlfriend telling me to turn on the news. So I watched, shocked. My memories aren’t very vivid from that day. I do remember wondering what could be done, and realizing nothing, I tried to go about my day. I had slated to get a haircut, so that’s where I went.

It was just me and the old barber who owned the place. He cut my hair, slowly, while we watched the TV up above the doorway. We wound up sitting and watching for a couple of hours, I think. Again, my memory is hazy.

The most I remember is feeling very angry and vengeful, though rationality held back the vengeance response in me. After all, I was on the other side of the continent. And as more information came out about the attackers, I remember chatting with my friend, a Muslim from England. She asked if this would change my view of her, and I declared absolutely no. That fact has never changed.

Life continued on, and I started my studies at the university, eventually in politics no less.  So that immediate history became viewed through a lens of me taking in a great deal of information about the event itself, as well as chains of events leading to and from.

So then I became angry again, but not at the terrorists. They were just criminals. Ruthless pawns of a pointless ideology bent on simply trying to hurt forces more powerful than it. And they should have been tried as such. We’ve dealt with internal and external terror before, so the legal proceedings would not have been beyond our means.

Just as big an issue: 9/11 led to us invading Iraq. Even just writing it down right now seems utterly insane. I remember the pressures leading to it that were falsely proposed and constantly changed by our Executive. I had long called bullshit before the fact (our criminal mastermind was hovering between Afghanistan and Pakistan, after all). And it only became worse, the stretching of justifications after the fact.

Worse yet, our insatiable need for security turned not only on our own citizenry, forced to be molested before boarding planes: it made us torturers. We became beyond the negative stereotype the Al-Qaeda members saw us as even back then.

Now we imprison and torture using the more invisible methods of the USSR and the Spanish Inquisition. Our fear turned us into bullies. Bullies who hang fellow humans in stress positions used by Nazis. It used to be the weapon of our enemies. A terrible, useless weapon we did not bother with as a society.

Now here we are. 10 years later and we haven’t rebuilt much. We still stand astride the world as the greatest power humanity has ever known. Supposedly still the pinnacle of a society based on human rationality and free enterprise.

Rather than use that goodwill and patriotism to better ourselves and others, it became a tool against us. It became unpatriotic to question our leadership, and now it is considered unpatriotic to think of alternate plans to pull ourselves out of our own economic cesspool.

We also now have entire media organizations who declare suspicious a billion far-flung people as “The Muslim World”. We don’t see the old Western powers as “The Christian World”. The term doesn’t exist. As well it never should, especially in our immigrant-built, free-believing, make-your-own-way pinnacle of human civilization.

Insecurity is a price we pay for it. Those who died, died for that reason. Because we believe people should move about our 50 states without issue or worry. Al-Qaeda never had a chance to bring that down. That possibility was never there. They are myopic criminals, bent on havoc, nothing more.

It was our greatest mistake to turn around and grant these thieves of lives the rank of Stalin or Hitler. They are hardly above Timothy McVeigh (oh yeah, that guy.) They deserved to be tried and imprisoned until their deaths. Not turned into comic book level evil masterminds.

Those people hurt us that day. All the pain since has been self-inflicted. I’ll always remember this as a day we turned into the weakest form of ourselves. A true tragedy it was.

Outfoxing News

How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory | Rolling Stone Politics:

The result of this concerted campaign of disinformation is a viewership that knows almost nothing about what’s going on in the world. According to recent polls, Fox News viewers are the most misinformed of all news consumers. They are 12 percentage points more likely to believe the stimulus package caused job losses, 17 points more likely to believe Muslims want to establish Shariah law in America, 30 points more likely to say that scientists dispute global warming, and 31 points more likely to doubt President Obama’s citizenship. In fact, a study by the University of Maryland reveals, ignorance of Fox viewers actually increases the longer they watch the network. That’s because Ailes isn’t interested in providing people with information, or even a balanced range of perspectives. Like his political mentor, Richard Nixon, Ailes traffics in the emotions of victimization.

“What Nixon did, and what Ailes does today in the age of Obama, is unravel and rewire one of the most powerful of human emotions: shame,” says Perlstein, the author of Nixonland. He takes the shame of people who feel that they are being looked down on, and he mobilizes it for political purposes. Roger Ailes is a direct link between the Nixonian politics of resentment and Sarah Palin’s politics of resentment. He’s the golden thread.

You have to read all 13 pages. Nothing like being dangerously enlightened to what we all have known for years.

The VD

Why is it that on Valentine’s Day a box of chocolates and flowers means “I love you” while on any other day it would mean “I’m sorry I fucked up”?

Coming to an Understanding

Growing up and learning what it means to be a man, I could never understand the mentality of those who go to work, come home, and watch television until they went to bed. Life is so finite, how could a rational person waste it like that? There’s too much to read and do to bother with laboring for the sole goal of being passively entertained.

It has been a hard (school) year thus far. Starting last summer, fighting for daycare in order to work extra hours, my job has been wall-to-wall busy. Since September, I have had to force myself to get out of my seat and walk around for a breather, had to remember to eat at some point during the day. Only a couple of weeks ago did I finally get the computers in my building back to where they were when last year ended.

The normal pace of my work had been busy times mixed with lulls, much as the engineering crew of The Enterprise would have had between emergencies. Lulls that let one work on side projects that were interesting rather than desperate.

Another change has been staff turnover. Lots of people shifted to different buildings so half the people I work with I have never met. Those I had worked with most directly have all gone, and I’ve noticed my creativity isn’t as challenged. There was a group of us that would regularly riff off one another, a banter that would keep up the levels of silliness and thus our spirits. While I do enjoy who I work with now, they just don’t have that same mentality.

Thus, as humans do, I have adapted to my environment. The creativity dial has been turned down and I’m simply functioning day to day. And oddly I have matched some of the more vocal opining of my new coworkers.

I don’t like that feeling that I’ve been harboring constant criticism of my peers, whether said or unsaid, and now that I’ve been more aware, I plan to stop. I hate thinking or presuming lowly of people. They are as they are and far be it from me to judge.

The conclusion to draw is that life has not only been busy, but somewhat disheartening. Work has been knocking the wind out of me rather than inflating me as it used to. And that negativity spills into my home life because I have been too drained to keep it walled up in that building.

I’m lifting myself up again now. For some reason in the past couple of weeks, I’ve been more mindful of myself and my own thoughts. Work is just work and my kids deserve better. I’m not going to think poorly of people. I’ll be able to get proper rest and reading in again.

But I can understand people going straight home and watching television until they go to bed. I hate when I fall into that routine too regularly. But I get wanting to detach oneself from the weight of everything else. There’s a reason one of the best remedies for a cold is vegetating in front of the tube.

Work is lightening up a little and I am going to lighten up a lot. I might even become cheerful again. Even crazier, I might even have the energy to properly blog again! Happy times all around.

Except for the color printer on the filing cabinets behind me. By the end of the year I swear that thing is going to have a fire axe in it. The halls will run magenta with toner when my catharsis is complete.

American Discourse

A rather reasonable discussion on the tough topic of abortion.

I’ve always been pro-choice. Nobody should be forced to be a parent, nor should anyone be forced to find a far more dangerous medical procedure (which they always have and will fine). Michelle Goldberg, for me anyway, helped solidify the political theory behind that argument.

It is certainly a matter of liberty for a woman. The idea of the state imposing its will on a woman, essentially declaring that she will become the indentured incubator for the fetus, hits me not only as bad but un-American.

I have no qualm with those groups who are anti-abortion (I call bullshit on the term ‘pro-life’ if you ignore the mother’s). Anyone has the right to say and promote programs that suit their beliefs. I love me some First Amendment. And I can understand the debate on questioning at what point a clump of mammalian cells becomes fully human, becomes a person. But the line is drawn at the state dictating what avoidable physiological tolls are placed on a person.

Goldberg’s analogy to the state forcing a person to give blood or a kidney seems somewhat apt. That would be a forcing of bodily alteration, however survivable, to be beyond choice. If living under such a regime, I would definitely wind up doing one of two quintessentially American acts: fighting or leaving.

(Found via The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan.)