Saturday, December 31, 2016

Read in 2016

This year's tally of books is similar to previous years' tallies. Children's poetry, other poetry, some spiritual works, books related to school,  a couple of classics.

Some of the books took a lot of time to get through given my limited time - the biography of Chesterton was huge and took a long time to finish, for example.

I suspect in 2017 it will be more of the same. But I do want to read more - and increase the quality.

One interesting change this year is that I got no books for Christmas. I got book store gift cards, but no books. No surprises. Too bad. Over the years I've gotten some that proved interesting and might not have picked on my own. As for the gift cards, to be honest, I can't think of any books I want to buy. I have plenty of books on the bookshelf that I haven't read yet.

Here's the 2016 list:

Clement of Rome and the Didache: A New Translation and Theological Commentary  by Kenneth J. Howell
Clement of Rome's Letter to the Corinthians
Full of Moonlight - Haiku Society of America 2016 Members' Anthology
Robert Frost: A Life by Jay Parini
G. K. Chesterton: A Biography by Ian Ker
Beneath Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Purgatorio by Dante
The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
Mercy by Lucille Clifton
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
Brothers & Sister Family Poems by Eloise Greenfield
Bleeder by John Desjarlais
Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal edited by Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones
Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous Falls by Raymond Arroyo
Poem Runs by Douglas Florian
UnBEElievables by Douglas Florian
The Didache
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
Consider the Ravens: On Contemporary Hermit Life by Paul and Karen Fredette
Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction edited by Judith Kitchen
Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction edited by Judith Kitchen and Dinah Lenney
Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein

Onward into 2017 reading!

Pax et bonum

Resolutions - Tradition!

It's that time of the year again - the time to come up with some resolutions.


One of the things I want to do in the coming year is one of the traditional resolutions  - lose weight. In my case, I would like to lose some 50 pounds. To be realistic - and healthful about it - that would likely take all year.

Along with that, I need more exercise. Not weight lifting/gym kind of exercise. Slower, more gentle - involving stretches, tension, maybe some dancing. Tai chi sort of exercise. Not only will this help with weight, it will help me as I get older and face some of the pains of aging.

And, of course, better diet. Cut down on the treats, chips, between meal and after dinner eating.

I also want to keep up my reading. This year, I read a couple of works by Church Fathers  - I will continue that. Plus, I want to read a couple of spiritual books to help with my own growth. In addition, some classics. If I keep up my pattern of the last few years, there will be about 20-25 works this year.

To add a weekly visit to the adoration chapel.

Cut down on internet - at least with wasting time arguing on Twitter and Facebook. Instead, my posting should be positive - things about faith, The Margaret Home, Franciscanism, and so on.

Cutting down on criticizing and negativity.

Playing out. I need to overcome my self-consciousness and fears and play some folk music - at the least a couple of Tuesday gatherings of the Golden Link, maybe one open mic night. And that means learning some new songs.

Get the slug book completed and printed. Send out some poems to magazines.

Memorize some prayers and classic works. The Divine Praises, Twas the Night Before Christmas, The Gettysburg Address, some Shakespeare.

Explore some money-making options. Voice work? Money from on-line publication? Video Santa?

Learn some Spanish words and phrases related to Christmas so that when Hispanic children come to visit me as Santa I will be better able to serve them.

That's all a good start. Let's see how many I actually do!

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

NYS American Solidarity Party Platform Planks

These at the 10 highlighted platform planks of the NYS chapter of the American Solidarity Party:

1. Promote policies that protect all Human Life from conception to natural death.

2. Advocate for laws that protects people of all faiths to practice their religion.

3. We support private property, investment, family-owned businesses, the right to unionize and bargain collectively, and worker cooperatives.

4. We support the creation of public investment banks and private credit unions at the state and local levels.

5. We support a strong regime of environmental protection by independent public agencies. At the same time, we insist on the direct accountability of illegal polluters to their victims in the courts.

6. We call for the institution of pollution taxes to fund research in cleaner methods of production and to compensate all citizens for abuse of the natural commons.

7. In keeping with the principle of subsidiarity and local responsibility, we support expanding (where necessary) the autonomy of local governments from state governments. We also call for legal accountability of higher levels of government to lower levels.

8. The NYS Solidarity Party believes that the responsibility for the education of children resides primarily in the family. Families should be free to home-school their children or send them to public or private schools.

9. We call for public support of both public and private schools, with a preferential option for economically disadvantaged students.

10. The ASP calls for reform of immigration laws, including a path to citizenship, for persons currently residing within our borders.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

American Solidarity Party 2016 results (partial)

Although the American Solidary Party has existed only since 2011 (under a different name then), it really did not start to mount a serious effort until May/June this year, creating a new platform, holding a July convention, and nominating its first official candidate, Mike Maturen (in 2012 we  endorsed independent candidate Joe Schriner, who shares many of our values). Because we started so late this year, we were not able to get on the ballot in a number of states.

Yet we still did incredibly well.

We got 6,628 votes that we know of - some states where we were write-ins did not break down the write in totals, so we don't know how many votes were got in those states. That includes some bigger states like Pennsylvania and Virginia. Thus the real total is higher.

One article ranks us 10th among third parties, and Maturen 14th among all candidates for president (other sources have him as 15th). And in many of the states where we were on the ballot in some form we finished 7th-10th.

Not bad considering the late start.

The states where we did best in terms of votes were Texas: 1401 votes (7th place), California: 1316 votes (7th place), and Colorado: 862 votes (10th place).

In my state, New York, we got 409 write-in votes, finishing in 7th place. New York's total ranked 7th among the state totals that we know of.

The goal now is to try to organize the state chapters and begin running local candidates.

Then onward to 2020!

Pax et bonum

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Carl Paladino clerihew

Carl Paladino
perhaps had too much vino.
But even intoxication can't
excuse his offensive First Couple rant.
(Find some background here.)

Pax et bonum

Don't say "Chr*stm*s" - it might offend!

A satirist named Godfrey Elfwick posted the following on Twitter:

"All I can see on my timeline this morning is the word 'Chr*stm*s'. Please be aware of how triggering this can be for certain minorities."

Now, while I don't believe this is what he believes - he is noted for his outrageous and seemingly extreme pronouncements that point out, as satire is wont to do, views that are plausible - I actually suspect there are people who would agree with this view.

Yes, I know there are allegations of a war on Christmas that really don't hold up - but there has been an effort to downplay Christmas in order not to offend non-Christians. Thus we've had a trend toward saying "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas," and efforts to de-Christianize the season. People have sought the removal of chreches, for example, and most recently, a cross was removed from a public "holiday tree." I remember when my daughters were attending urban public school the "holiday concert' had Jewish and Gospel songs, but no Christmas carols.

Some folks, sadly, have taken the opposite tack and turned "Merry Christmas" into a kind of political statement.

I don't like that either.

But as for me, if someone says "Happy Holidays" to me I always respond "Merry Christmas," and as Santa I always say "Merry Christmas." I'm not trying to be political, I'm just stating what the day is.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Why Democrats lost? Extremism is one factor

Pundits and Democratic politicians are still debating why Hillary Clinton - and the Democrats - lost the 2016 election.

Hillary's e-mails. Angry white men. James Comey. Wikileaks. Fake news. Russian hacks. The economy. Attitudes towards people of faith. Fear over terrorism. Elitism. Trump's TV appeal. Hillary's supposed unlikability. And so on.
Some of those reasons trotted out - and other such reasons - may have played a role.

But I think one of the factors was the Democrats' extremism.

Just look at a few issues.

I'm staunchly pro-life when it comes to abortion. While I believe that a majority of people are somewhat pro-life, I will admit that many people would say while abortion is wrong they would reluctantly accept it under some limited circumstances and in some limited situations.

The Democratic Party, however, and Hillary, made it a point to support, even promote unlimited abortion under all and any circumstances. Moreover, the party, and Hillary, supported and promoted public funding of abortions, and even forcing people who do not agree with it to provide and support it.

This is extremism that did not sit well with people in much of the country.

Or take homosexual marriage.

Many people do accept it - at least as a private matter. But the Democrats demanded that not only should people accept it, they should celebrate it and it should be legal everywhere, and people who find it morally objectionable must - under threat of fines, jail, or loss of job - take part in the ceremonies and related activities, and must provide venues and services in connection with such ceremonies (photography, catering, and so on). They were all for driving people of faith out of business, and calling them hate-filled bigots even when they were perfectly willing to serve all people under other circumstances and were simply motivated by faith not to take part in a particular ceremony.

This is extremism that did not sit well with people in much of the country.

The party and Hillary were extremists when it came to other issues as well, and were out of step with people in many parts of the country - parts that Trump and the Republicans won.

This extremism was often linked to a kind of arrogance that, as statements by Hillary and leaked e-mails revealed, viewed those who differed with them on these issues as ignorant, medieval, "deplorables' who need to be forced or coopted into accepting the Democrats' enlightened, progressive views.

The Democrats need to adjust and moderate their positions and attitudes to increase their chances of winning again.

Of course, if Trump proves to be a dud, then in 2018 the Democrats might show signs of recovery even with extremist views.

Here's hoping they don't, though, and a more rational party like the American Solidarity Party will take their place.

Hey, one can dream!

Pax et bonum

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Obama is our most Catholic President????????

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough made what has to be one of the most laughable - and ignorant - comments about President Obama and Catholicism.

Speaking on David Axelrod's podcast The Axe Files on Wednesday, McDonough declared,  “Look, I say to him, Axe, and I think I’ve said this to him in your presence and I’ve said this publicly before, I think this is our most Catholic of presidents And I mean that by capital ‘C’ Catholic in what I see and what he does everyday.”

He then went on to say, “It’s not to say that he does everything entirely consistent with Catholic teaching.

Umm, yeah.

He strays from Catholic teachings - or seeks to undermine the Church - on some big issues.

On abortion.
On contraception.
On forcing people to provide and pay for abortion and contraception.
On religious liberty.
On homosexual so-called marriage.
On just war tactics.

Oh, and his administration sued nuns. And it duped various Catholic individuals and groups. And his party acknowledged trying to create groups to undermine Catholic teachings.

McDonough said Obama's “view of the person and our role and the view of us as adding to the common good is an undeniably Catholic set of premises, and that’s why I say that to him a lot.”

In other words, Obama promotes the "be nice" mentality.

Now to be fair, there are some of Obama's beliefs and actions that do intersect with Catholic teachings. The concern for the poor, for example, or for the environment, come to mind. And consider what he seems to consider his major "achievement" - the Affordable Health Care Act. As flawed as it is on a practical level and, in fact, it is in parts of this act that he comes in direct conflict with Catholic beliefs, the desire to provide health care for all, including the poor, does fit with Catholic beliefs. It is these social ministry concerns where I think McDonough sees the links. But he - and Obama - misunderstand the depth and fullness of Catholic doctrine.

What these remarks really reveal is the ignorance of the Obama administration about what Catholicism really is.

Capital "C" Catholicism.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Alt Right? More likely that there's an Alt Left

There's been a lot of hubbub lately over the so-called Alt Right and "fake news." Indeed, some are blaming Donald Trump's presidential win on these forces.

Fake news is indeed out there - but it was coming from both sides. I know there were many times people would send me alleged news items attacking Hillary Clinton or Trump, and I asked for sources or checked, and found many such reports were false or distorted.

The Alt Right business is manufactured though - by the same people who labeled Trump supporters as racists, homophobes, "deplorables."  The Alt Right folks were accused of engaging in violence and hate speech.

In reality, this all seems seems like more of the kind of name calling in which some folks on the left seem to engage.

In other words, hate speech.

As for violence, it's not the folks on the right who rioted after the election.

Are there extremists on the right - neo-Nazis, KKK, etc. -  and right-leaning news outlets (Fox, Breitbart, and so on), some of whom supported and promoted Trump? Sure.

But there are also extremists on the left, some of whom supported Hillary.

Just think of the radical pro-choicers who went all in for Hillary. Groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood - promoters and providers of death for hundreds of thousands of children each year.

There are other extremist groups on the left - Move On, Black Live Matter, for example.

Just think of extremely biased left-wing news outlets like HuffPost that did all they could to support Hillary.

Heck, think of the left-leaning news outlets like MSNBC or CNN or the New York Times or the Washington Post that did all they could to help Hillary.

It seems as if an "Alt Left" is even more real than any mythical Alt Right.seems more

Pax et bonum

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming

I glanced at the statistics for this blog the other day and spotted a sudden spike in page views. Curious, I checked where these views were coming from.

Many were from Russia.


Now it could be that a recent post about Castro sparked interest. Or the Alice's Restaurant one. Or maybe some of the political ones. Perhaps someone working for Putin was checking to see if this blog contained information they could then leak to influence the U. S. election.

Yeah. I wouldn't be shocked if Democratic Party or Hillary campaign officials suddenly stepped forward and blamed me for the election results. He's part of the fictional alt-right!

Of course, I have noticed a Russian audience before. Not sure why someone from Russia would be interested in this obscure blog. Maybe they like bad haiku, or perhaps clerihews.

After all, there was that clerihew about Putin:

There are rumors that Vladimir Putin
somehow has ties to Rasputin.
So it makes sense his followers shiver
when Vlad takes a dip in a river.

Anyway, if you are a Russian page viewer/reader, in the spirit of the season I say:

Schastlivogo Rozhdestva!

Pax et bonum

Friday, December 2, 2016

Still wondering

As the potential of early retirement lingers out there, I still wonder if there are some money-making options.

Santa, of course, but limited to one time of the year as long as I live where I live.

I've already considered writing. Some options there, but not a lot given the type of writing I do. Try other subjects/outlets? Maybe ... but not sure there's much out there.

Recording and going on Youtube? Doing what - reciting poetry? (A big money maker there!). Singing original songs or storytelling? (See the previous.) Pontificating? To what audience? I'd love to be on radio as a talking head, but breaking into that market is really a stretch.

So ... a combination?

Oh well. Back to work on Monday.

Pax et bonum