Wednesday, October 31, 2007


At the southern edge of the small town of Houston, Pennsylvania in the County of Washington, there is a quiet street called West Grant in a neighborhood known as Moninger.

On that street lives a little girl named Molly Welch who, tonight, celebrated her first Halloween. A ladybug was her artful disguise.

As it happens, young Molly recently joined the blogosphere. You can check out her adventures here -- usually along with some commentary from her parental units.

Be sure not to miss the army crawl video posted today. Go get 'em, "bug"!


Some Halloween fun courtesy of Eartha Kitt and YouTube:

Crazy Uncle

I will concede that Texas Congressman Ron Paul might be the political equivalent of the crazy uncle at Thanksgiving Dinner.

But, you know, maybe we need a little crazy uncle right now. Perhaps he would get the American people thinking again about the governmental structures we often accept without question. If he ever sat in the Oval Office, it be fascinating to watch him try to get some of his ideas through Congress. Would make that bunch think more, too.

Here is Congressman Paul last night on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Excellent Pick

Yesterday, the White House announced that C-Span founder Brian Lamb is being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. What an excellent pick!

With Lamb's leadership, the nation's cable companies joined together to start C-Span at no cost to the taxpayers. This has enabled millions of Americans to have a window into the daily operations of the U.S. Congress and other parts of the government and political world.

Brian Lamb and C-Span have strengthened democracy in America.

Hat-tip: The Darn News.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Sunday, I attended the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Paul the Apostle Church, which was the kick-off Mass of the parish's 150th Anniversary celebrations (that will continue through next year). St. Paul the Apostle Church is the "mother church" of the Paulist Fathers, a Catholic religious order of priests that also will celebrate its sesquicentennial in '08.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., was the main celebrant at yesterday's Mass. In his homily, Cardinal McCarrick discussed the mission of the Paulists and the unique drive of the order's founder, Fr. Isaac Hecker (pictured above). Fr. Hecker, a New York City native, lived from 1819 to 1888.

After the Mass, the parish held an Autumn Banquet for about 350 of the city's hungry and/or homeless. Chicken and fixings were among the servings offered by some 60 volunteers.

Though the parish rightly has reason to be proud of its milestone and service, Sunday's Gospel was a reminder to avoid righteousness and be humble.

Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.

"Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, 'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity -- greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

"But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.'

"I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

Sunday, October 28, 2007


On Saturday afternoon, we saw the new movie "Bella." For many months, this first release from Metanoia Films had been heavily promoted within the Catholic community. At conferences, at meetings of various organizations and through the many Catholic media outlets and e-mail networks, the film's marketing team did an excellent job getting the word out.

So, my expectations were very high. And I am genuinely disappointed that these expectations were not really met.

"Bella" had potential. It had an underlying good story, many nice moments, sympathetic characters and some decent performances. But, it lacked focus. There were too many flash backs and flash forwards. There was too much use of the hand-held camera in places. Perhaps too many characters. And, too many drawn-out heart-tugging plot lines.

For background, see these conflicting reviews at Busted Halo, the San Francisco Chronicle (positive review) and The New York Times (negative review).

I would still recommend seeing "Bella." It does have important messages about family, friendship and the value of human life. Just have low expectations for the film-making.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Grand Opening on West 29th St.

Last night, we attended the Grand Opening Party of the headquarters of the "Greater NYC Ron Paul Action Group" in a large street-level commercial space on West 29th Street between 10th and 11th avenues.

It was a pretty good time and I was impressed by the group's level of organization. Lots of interesting conversation. The group was dominated by young people and was probably three quarters men. Lots of folks from Long Island, too.

For most of the supporters with whom we spoke, this is the first time they have been active on behalf of a candidate.

Being so close to Halloween, there were a few costumes in the crowd. I had a good dialogue about pro-life issues and religion with a guy in a Tinky Winky suit. (Jerry Falwell, may he rest in peace, would not have been pleased at all.)

For more on Texas Congressman Ron Paul and his White House bid, check out his official Campaign Website. Or, check out this video in which he discusses the federal income tax:

I'm not even certain if I totally agree with Ron Paul on this -- and I am not certain that his economic assumptions are correct. BUT, I like that he's thinking big-picture. He's not just accepting the status quo. He's asking questions about the financial systems through which American government and society operates. It would be good from time to time to ask if the systems are still effective.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


For this week's "music for a peaceful weekend" selection from YouTube, below is the whimsical and lush overture from the operetta "Candide" conducted by its composer Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990).


Cool Metal

Fifty years ago today, on October 25, 1957, an infamous mob hit occurred at a barber shop in the lobby of the Park Sheraton Hotel on 57th Street in New York City. Albert Anastasia was the mafia boss shot dead that day.

This morning's amNew York returned to the scene of the crime. It's now a Starbucks.

I enjoyed reporter David Freedlander's lead:

The barista stood stock still, her cold eyes glistening off the cool metal of the espresso machine. She grabbed the handle, and bang! bang! a few quick hits to the side, and before anyone knew what was happened, a Macchiato, double-shot, lay steaming on the counter.

Fifty years ago Thursday, in the same spot that very espresso machine sat coldly whipping nonfat mocha lattes, perhaps the most notorious mob hit in history happened.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On Prayer

Wednesday evenings this fall, I have been a volunteer "welcomer" with the pre-R.C.I.A. program at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Manhattan.

R.C.I.A. -- which stands for Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults -- is the program through which adults can become Catholic or come into full communion with the Church.

For the past two weeks, one of our topics of discussion has been prayer. One of our materials tonight included this thought-provoking quote on prayer from the 20th Century Trappist monk Thomas Merton (pictured):

"In prayer we discover what we already have ... We already have everything, but we don't know it and we don't experience what we already possess ... The whole thing boils down to giving ourselves in prayer a chance to realize that we have what we seek. We don't have to run after it. It is there all the time, and if we give it time it will make itself known to us."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Yesterday's Wall Street Journal included an excellent "Personal Technology" column by Walt Mossberg about the backward way in which America's cellular telephone industry operates.

Here's a video of Mossberg on the topic:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Lung Cancer Love

Saturday night, I checked out the John Turtorro film "Romance & Cigarettes" at Quad Cinema. The comedy/quasi-musical featured a large cast of big names including James Gandolfini and Susan Sarandon as a middle-aged couple living at the eastern edge of Queens near JFK Airport.

Quick plot synopsis: He has an affair. They fight. She goes to Church. She fights with the mistress. They still live together. He gets lung cancer. Everyone lip syncs to popular songs. Lots of planes fly overhead. Unexpected street-dancing. Mandy Moore and Christopher Walken fill in unnecessary roles.

It was different. Good. But different. Some definite laugh-out-loud moments. I'd recommend it.

(For a more nuanced write-up, check out this New York Times review by Stephen Holden.)

Where Fortunes Were Made

Speaking of "travel" pieces by out-of-town reporters about Gilded-Age Western Pennsylvania fortunes ...

Yesterday's New York Times included a piece on finding remnants of Andrew Carnegie's life in the place where he made his fortune.

In his article, writer David Lasin did not mention a certain office suite in Downtown Pittsburgh on the 16th Floor of the Old Alcoa Building (aka "The Regional Enterprise Tower") -- home of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. (Workplace for more than three years of yours truly.)

The photo above from the Carnegie Music Hall in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh is from a slide show at the NYTimes Website credited to photographer Jeff Swenson. Caption: "The best part of the Music Hall is the marble foyer, redolent of the Gilded Age."

Revenge of the Liberal Media

Washington Post writer David Segal must have had A LOT of fun writing this article for today's paper.

Click on the link. Any description I would post here wouldn't do Segal's piece justice. The "travel story" concept was ingenious.

Hat-tip: Vince Guerrieri.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Chick's Movie

Old-time Hollywood actress Deborah Kerr died a few days ago at the age of 86.

Many of the obituaries and tributes focused on Kerr's role in "From Here to Eternity" and that famous kiss on the beach with Burt Lancaster. Some may remember her best from "The King and I."

But, I think Deborah Kerr will be most remembered for this classic scene from "An Affair to Remember":

Some context from "Sleepless in Seattle":

"Will He Find Faith?"

Yesterday, I went to the Saturday Vigil Mass at Immaculate Conception Church on 14th Street in the East Village. It was a spontaneous thing -- I was around the corner from the church just about that time and I've been curious to see what Mass there is like.

So, I was quite surprised when the celebrant of the Mass turned out to be Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, the author of several books and the editor of "First Things," a conservative journal on topics spiritual, political and societal.

In the past, I have sometimes thought that Fr. Neuhaus has too harsh an approach to some questions. (Maybe the word 'curmudgeonly' comes to mind. Maybe.) I do like that he's never afraid to speak his mind -- even when he's criticizing archbishops.

Yesterday evening, I must say Fr. Neuhaus gave an excellent homily on the topic of faith -- referencing the current popularity of some new books on atheism. (He mentioned Christoper Hitchens by name.) He also criticized the way some in the secular press have described the revelations of Mother Teresa's decades-long "Dark Night of the Soul."

The homily reflected on this Sunday's Gospel, which was from Luke Chapter 18:

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.

He said, "There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being.

"And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, 'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'

"For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, 'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"

The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Home for Carol & David

In March, shortly after I moved to New York, I wrote in this space about meeting a woman named Carol who asked me to help her get something to eat one Saturday before the daily Mass at St. Francis Xavier Church. You might remember that Carol was another member of the 'burgh diaspora.

An update: Carol was outside Xavier today after that same 12:05 p.m. Mass. We again went to lunch during which she told me some good news. After some six years of living in shelters, she and her son, David, moved about a month ago to a two-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of a new seven-story building on 124th Street on the west side of Harlem. Carol told me they qualified for their new place through Section 8.

"It's such a weight off my shoulders," she said.

I've been grumbling a lot lately about the amount of taxes the Feds take out of each paycheck. (I'm never more of small-government Libertarian-Republican than on pay day.) So, it's nice see some of those dollars at work -- it's just unfortunate that it takes so long for homeless people who truly need housing to get through the system.

Carol told me that her son, age 18, is now going to take the G.E.D. exam and is applying for jobs.

Friday, October 19, 2007

An Evening at the Farm

A heads up for readers back in Washington County:

Weatherbury Farm, a bed-and-breakfast and working farm outside of the village of Avella in Independence Township, will be the site of a Wine & Cheese Tasting Event Monday evening. It's a "Meet the Candidate" event for Mike Neville, the best candidate in this year's race for Washington County Commissioner.

Mike has been working hard for some two years to introduce himself to Washington County's voters and share with them his ideas to improve county government.

Mike was an active supporter of my State House races and I'm proud to support him now. On Election Days 2002, 2004 and 2006, he worked outside of the polls speaking on my behalf.

I first met Mike some nine years ago when I was a cub reporter for the Observer-Reporter and I covered his service as a Peters Township councilman. He served on Peters Council for more than eight years -- during which time the township became Washington County's most populous municipality.

Mike is a business banker with an M.B.A. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. If elected, he has pledged to serve no more than two terms.

Weatherbury Farm is one of the best examples of agritourism in Pennsylvania. It's the creation of Dale, Marcy and Nigel Tudor. I first met the Tudors many years ago when we were all part of The Old Schoolhouse Players, the resident theater troupe of the Mt. Pleasant Township Community Center in the village of Hickory.

Dale, Marcy and Nigel also graciously hosted a "Meet the Candidate" reception at Weatherbury Farm during my '06 race.

Mike's Wine & Cheese event is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Call (724) 413-8897 to RSVP. Weatherbury is located at 1061 Sugar Run Road (Avella, PA, 15312).

It's nestled amidst the beautiful rolling hills of Western Pennsylvania. Considering this year's long Indian Summer, the trees there are probably just reaching the full red, orange and yellow glory of the autumn.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Shire

Sound the nerd alarm.

For this week's "in time for the weekend" YouTube music clip, I have selected a segment of composer Howard Shore's "The Lord of the Rings Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra and Chorus." The symphony is a collection of Shore's original music composed for the "LOTR" movies. I had a chance to hear a performance of it in Pittsburgh a few years back.

This segment is "The Shire."

Pax vobiscum:

Cardinal DiNardo

Yesterday, B16 announced that Archbishop Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Texas, will become a cardinal of the Catholic Church. It's the first time an archbishop who leads a flock in the U.S. South has received this distinction. The cardinals who are under age 80 elect the pope.

Archbishop DiNardo's receipt of the "red hat" is a sign of the times for the U.S. Catholic Church -- it recognizes the growing role of The Faithful in places removed from the urban centers of the Northeast and Midwest.

A proud aside: Archbishop DiNardo is a native of the Pittsburgh area. According to the P-G, He was born in Steubenville and grew up in Castle Shannon. The Trib has a story, too.

Two native Pennsylvanians actually got the papal nod yesterday. Archbishop John Foley, a Philadelphia native and longtime Vatican official, also will become a cardinal. Many will know Archbishop Foley as the sonorous voice heard describing Midnight Mass from St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican each Christmas Eve. I had the opportunity to meet the archbishop earlier this year at the Catholic Media Convention in Brooklyn.

Hat-tip: Excellent and thorough coverage by Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

High Chair

In Monday's Post-Gazette, I think editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers had a wise take on Pittsburgh's Mayoral race:

That Girl

Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan posted a great quote from a reader about why some may support Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House:

"If worst comes to worst, we might get a president like Hillary, who is that girl nobody really likes but everyone wants in their project group anyways because they know she is smart and will do all the work."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Last week, we went to see the new documentary film "For The Bible Tells Me So" at Quad Cinema. It takes a look at biblical teachings on human sexuality and same-sex relationships.

At its core, the film is about the debate between those who believe that the bible should be taken literally and those who believe the bible should be read in the light of the times and cultures in which it was written.

As a movie-going experience, I found "FTBTMS" reasonably compelling if condescending at times. Most of the featured individuals and families had interesting stories to tell -- perhaps most notably Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire who is a gay man in a committed relationship.

But, the film had a clear predisposition against those who belive in biblical literalism. Most of those who agreed with the filmmakers' point of view were shown in a positive light. Those who disagreed were mostly represented poorly, including by the likes of tele-evangelist Jim Bakker. Anyone hoping for a balanced analysis of the question would have left the theater disappointed.

The filmmakers also neglected to examine Catholic teachings on the topic in favor of a concentration on Evangelical viewpoints. Despite being the largest Christian denomination in the United States at some 60 million faithful, no leading Catholic on either side of the debate was presented. Sorry, Chrissy Gephardt doesn't cut it for me as the lone Catholic voice on the question.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"A Real Race"

Today's Post-Gazette included an article by Janice Crompton on this year's race for Washington County District Attorney.

For more on Steve Toprani's efforts to lift the cloud that hovers over the county D.A. office, check out his campaign Website.

Everybody's doing it ...

John McCain's daughter, Meghan, has started a campaign blog with two friends.

I think she may have been inspired by the Romney boys.

Who is Ron Paul?

CNN asks the question ...

Over at Save The GOP, Sam's recent post on the Texas Congressman drew 41 comments.

An aside: It is important to note here that Ron Paul is a native of the Pittsburgh area. He grew up in Green Tree. I don't think anyone should be surprised to see a straight-talking, pro-life libertarian originate from Black-and-Gold country.

In Thanksgiving

Yesterday, I was in McDonald for the funeral of my cousin, Louis “Louie” Kessler, Jr.

Louie apparently died in his sleep of natural causes sometime before Wednesday morning. As it happens, Tuesday was his 54th birthday.

Louie’s obituary in the Observer-Reporter was missing just one element – his love of walking on the Panhandle Trail (pictured) from the entrance near his house in the village of Primrose to McDonald and beyond. In fact, a few years ago, a newspaper article about the trail included a large photo of Louie and his dog Lady walking on the trail.

In his homily at the funeral, our parish priest, Fr. John Harvey, noted that Louie attended the 11 a.m. Mass every Sunday at St. Alphonsus Church.

Louie’s passing was not the only death close to home in recent days. Monika Schaller, the recently-retired German teacher at my alma mater, Fort Cherry High School, died last Saturday at the age of 64. Although I never had her in class, “Frau” was very kind to me. In recent years, I frequently saw her on the campaign trail and she was always very encouraging.

Witnessing the deaths of family members and friends, especially at such relatively young ages, can have an impact on one's faith in God -- sometimes moving a person to have questions about their faith, other times strengthening it. Like last week, today's Gospel at Mass addresses the question of faith, as well as thankfulness.

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!"

And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests."

As they were going they were cleansed.

And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan.

Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"

Then he said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mike in the 'Burgh

Tomorrow evening, a new friend from New York will be speaking to some of my old Pennsylvania fellows.

Mike Hayes, the managing editor of Busted Halo and the author of the new book "Googling God" (cover pictured),will be the guest speaker at Oktoberfest sponsored by the Young Adults group at St. Bernard's Church in Mt. Lebanon.

Mike is a parishioner at my new church, St. Paul the Apostle in Manhattan. And, in the months before I moved to New York, I often attended St. Bernard's Young Adults events.

Someone have a beer for me!

The New World

As I did last week about this time, I am posting below a musical clip from YouTube that is not newsworthy but may be a peaceful way to start the weekend.

This one is from Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, more commonly known as the "The New World Symphony," by Antonín Leopold Dvořák. From the well-known second movement:


I am in Cincinnati, OH, this week exhibiting at the Ohio Catholic Education Association conference. It's my first visit here. I was surprised to learn, upon arriving, that Cincinnati's airport is actually in Kentucky.

Near the convention center in Downtown Cincinnati is the city's distinctive City Hall:

According to the city's Website, it was designed by a local architect in the Romanesque style "as interpreted by" H.H. Richardson. Richardson was the architect of the Allegheny County Courthouse in Downtown Pittsburgh. (The two buildings look quite similar.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Texas Congressman Ron Paul is right that the U.S. Congress should return to the constitutionally-mandated practice of authorizing formal declarations of war before committing U.S. troops to combat.

A just war always should be the last possible solution to any security threat or international crisis. But, if the United States is going to get into wars, the elected representatives of the American people should be compelled to debate and vote on formal declaration of war. Moving away from this practice during the later half of the 20th Century was a mistake.

Below is a YouTube clip of tonight's GOP Presidential debate in which Ron Paul addresses this question in the light of a possible future conflict with Iran:

Hat-tip: Ben Dunfee and Andrew Sullivan.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Luke's " -gates"

Mayor Opie's missteps were the subject of the lead story in the national section of today's New York Times. From Ian Urbina's piece:

But along the way, Mr. Ravenstahl has given reporters plenty to pester him about, and he rattles off the litany with a chuckle:

“Let’s see, first, in January, there was ‘Heinz-gate,’” Mr. Ravenstahl said, referring to accusations that he was arrested while drunk at a football game at Heinz Field three years ago.

“Then in March it was ‘New York-gate,’” where he was lambasted for having flown to New York on a trip paid for by Ron Burkle, a major real estate developer and political fund-raiser. In April, there was “Tiger-gate,” when Mr. Ravenstahl was mocked for trying to get a photo opportunity with Tiger Woods.

“What did I miss?” Mr. Ravenstahl said, looking to his press secretary, who sheepishly reminded him.

“Boston-gate” was last week, where Mr. Ravenstahl was faulted for being in Boston instead of attending a community meeting on the design of a new casino. This week it was “S.U.V.-gate,” as the front pages of local newspapers criticized Mr. Ravenstahl for using a vehicle paid for with Department of Homeland Security money to take his wife to a country-western concert.

“A lot of it has been overblown,” Mr. Ravenstahl said, conceding that the controversies had also helped him mature. Yet to critics the missteps represent a pattern of poor judgment.

The photo above from the NYT Website is credited to Jeff Swensen. Caption: Mayor Luke Ravenstahl of Pittsburgh, who is 27, has battled controversies but is expected to win re-election easily in November.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Tunnel

Another Pittsburgher who lives in New York shares a Fort Pitt Tunnel tale:

Hat-tip: Erica Gamerro.


The Gospel at Mass today was about faith. From Luke Chapter 17:

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."

The Lord replied, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.'

"Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, 'Come here immediately and take your place at table'? Would he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished'? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you.

"When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'"

Saturday, October 06, 2007


During my 2006 State House race, I became affiliated with PACleanSweep, a grassroots group seeking to oust every member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly up for re-election that year. The group formed in 2005 after the legislature gave itself, the state's judges and other government officials a pay raise in a surprise late-night/early-morning vote (no prior committee meetings, no public hearings, etc.).

While I recognized there were still some good members of the legislature who did not deserve to be bumped, I thought that PACleanSweep's efforts would likely be good for the state -- churning the electoral pot and creating helpful public debate. I was even a speaker at one of the group's candidate training sessions.

But, like so many grassroots groups, this one soon imploded due to internal power struggles. Old story -- energetic founder recruits group of like-minded folks, they create a board of directors, board members rebel against founder, etc., etc., etc. All before Election Day.

So, after some phone calls and e-mails seeking unity and compromise, I gradually pulled back from PACleanSweep. At the time, I promised myself I would never get involved with another political movement outside of specific candidates' campaigns and the regular Republican committees (which, frankly, are hard enough to maneuver without losing your soul).

But, yesterday, from (the group's Website that is still under the control of its founder), came a clever e-mail that I thought I would post below. It's about the recruitment of former Gov. Tom Ridge to help block the current effort to oust all (but one) of the judges up this year in retention votes.

Kudos to the designer.

I don't know if I am convinced that all of the PA judges up for retention should be voted out. But, if some of them were, it would certainly continue the message being sent to Pennsylvania's political class that the electorate is concerned and awake.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Oboe for a Friday

I have a confession to make. I've lately become slightly addicted to YouTube -- where I just came across the clip below. It's Ennio Morricone's famous oboe solo from the soundtrack of the 1986 film "The Mission." It's not timely. To borrow a journalism term, I don't have a "hook" for posting it here. I just like it.

Perhaps a peaceful way to begin the weekend:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"What 27-year-olds do..."

Back in Pittsburgh, it seems like Mayor Opie just can't seem to catch a break.

Speaking of 'burgh politics, it's disappointing to read in today's Post-Gazette that GOP mayoral candidate Mark DeSantis is pro-choice (near the end of the article).

DeSantis seemed pretty good otherwise.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


It's an understatement to say that the news of the government crackdown on the pro-democracy protests in Burma / Myanmar is disturbing.

For some background on Burma, check out the video below from Slate produced by Magnum:

(I am posting this despite the rather crass Infiniti ad prior to the report.)

Hat-tip: Andrew Sullivan.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Exotericist

Welcome to any readers who have landed here from The Exotericist, the blog of John Wilson, a friend from the young adult activities at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle.

Yesterday, this site was added to The Exotericist's links list. (For a definition of exotericism, go here.)

Apart from his personal blog, John has one of those jobs that many newspaper people lust over -- he's an editorial page writer at the New York Post. In fact, he just landed his first byline on a Post column.

John's column was about the controversial visit of the President of Iran to Columbia University. An aside: my post on that topic started this blog's first "comments" give-and-take in recent memory. FYI -- the posters, "cjjb" and "Luke" are cousins.

Monday, October 01, 2007

"Excited About Faith"

Bishop David Zubik's Installation Mass homily last Friday afternoon at St. Paul's Cathedral made me proud to be a native of Western Pennsylvania and a Catholic. The homily can be viewed it in its entirety at the video library at

I thought it very appropriate that the Emmaus story was chosen as the Gospel for this special Mass.

The photo above of Bishop Zubik at the Installation Mass is from the Tribune-Review Website where it is credited to Joe Appel.

A Great Chasm

The graphic depiction of the flames and torment of hell in today's Gospel at Mass likely made many people uncomfortable.

From Luke Chapter 16:

Jesus said to the Pharisees:

"There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.

"The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.'

"Abraham replied, 'My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’

"He said, 'Then I beg you, father, send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.'

"But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them. 'He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

"Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'"

Wikipedia has a detailed page on this parable.