Smart move

the linc

The traffic is already awful when there’s a game:

Pope Francis is due in Philadelphia in September, and the city’s football team will be nowhere in sight.

According to Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on July 8, 2014 requesting that the Eagles be out of town for the pontiff’s visit — presumably hoping that football would not interfere with the millions expected to gather in the city that weekend for a mass outside the Philadelphia Art Museum.

The NFL released its full 2015-16 season schedule on Tuesday, and the Eagles will not be in Philadelphia during the pope’s visit. NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz responded to the archbishop in October, according to King, saying the football team would be in New Jersey playing against the New York Jets on September 27.

“The pope did influence the NFL schedule,” Katz told King on Tuesday. “My name may be Katz, but I wasn’t taking any chances.”

The church of baseball

Of course it is!

Anyone who has ever been to a religious service is aware that the level of pious intensity occasionally abates; intensity must be relieved. All religious services therefore include what look (and sometimes feel) like intermissions.

Muslims, for example, are instructed about the when and where of the breaks in the sequence of their daily obligatory prayers.

Jews often separate afternoon and evening services (the Mincha and Ma’ariv) with a brief lesson (the Shiur) from an elder or rabbi that frequently discusses the sacred texts just recited in light of experiences in everyday life. In some Conservative congregations, as the Sabbath nears its completion, there is a longer pause to break bread, a chance not only to reflect but also to bond before continuing the prayers.
And Christians reserve time for choral or musical interludes that provide a few moments between rituals. From Christianity’s earliest moments, there has been an imprecise division, imprecise but no less real, between the preparatory part of the service and the part where believers affirm their central faith or take communion or both. And in some liturgies, this transition is marked by the “kiss of peace” or the “holy kiss.” Whatever it’s called, it is another break in the worship, one that most definitely enhances the feeling of fellowship. But the atmosphere is different from the moments of communion with God. The kiss of peace serves, as do the musical interludes, as a pause—meaningful but different, a break in the intensity of the action.

Baseball fans get this. At the midpoint of every seventh inning, we need no announcement, no request, much less a command. We simply rise from our seats. For some ninety years, this collective move has been accompanied by music in most major league cases a very, very familiar song that dates to the early-twentieth-century days of Tin Pan Alley. The Wave may have come and gone, beach balls have bounced into distant memory, but the seventh-inning stretch lives on in every baseball congregation. Possibly the most famous pause in American culture, it is an occasion to salute the game. And it is a break in the intensity of the action.

Are ‘helpful’ strangers really helpful?

kids in car

I was thinking about what I would do if I saw kids in real danger — you know, rolled-up windows, locked car, 98 degree day. I’d go over, knock on the window and ask the kids if they were okay. If they didn’t look okay, I’d call the cops. But to call the cops in a situation that was clearly under control, I guess because you don’t approve of the babysitter? You’re just a self-aggrandizing busybody:

Perhaps I’m clairvoyant, because my recurring nightmare of being a “neglectful mother who wasn’t actually neglectful” became realized last June, when I was in the car with my children, on the way to a picnic. We stopped at Kroger’s to buy cookies and chips. It was a gorgeous early June morning, oddly clear and pleasant for Virginia, the temperature in the low 70s. I pulled into the parking spot closest to the front door and surveyed the situation, something mothers do in one way or another a hundred times a day. My 13-year-old daughter sat in the front; she carries in her wallet a card from our local hospital showing that she graduated from their babysitting course, complete with CPR certification. She had her cell phone in hand, and was playing SpongeBob songs for her 8-year-old brother and 4-1/2-year-old sister, who were both buckled in their seats in the back. “Go on in,” she told me. “We’re fine.” I looked at the younger two, and eyed them hard. “Mommy’s running in real quick for cookies and chips,” I told my two younger kids. “Do not unbuckle. Your sister is in charge. I’ll be back in five minutes, tops.” I left the air-conditioning on instead of cracking the windows because I wanted them to feel the safety of being completely sealed inside the vehicle. The cookies and chips were right at the front, everyone was content—this would be quick.

I had been in the store for a couple of minutes and was already in line to pay when I got a text from my daughter that read, “You need to hurry up. There’s some creepy lady out here looking at us.” “Almost done,” I texted back, grabbing my bags, and heading for the door. I hadn’t even made it to the sidewalk before I spotted the police car pulling up.

It’s amazing how many decisions a person can make in an instant. As soon as I saw that cop, I straightened my spine and lifted my chin to take the most arrogant stance possible. My accent shifted into the higher gear I use at board meetings and when I have to be on television, flattened out and free of the extra syllables I was born with. I intercepted the cop before he got to my car. “Excuse me, officer? Are you here for my car? My daughter is 13 years old.” I said it like I knew exactly why he was there, because I did, and I said it like it was the most offensive and ridiculous thing that could be happening at that moment. But inside, I was shaking. I watch the news: I know how much can happen and how quickly when an authority figure decides to use that authority in unnecessary ways.
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So maybe not such a bad thing that Hillary Clinton had her own email system, huh?

Some of President Obama’s email correspondence was swept up by Russian hackers last year in a breach of the White House’s unclassified computer system that was far more intrusive and worrisome than has been publicly acknowledged, according to senior American officials briefed on the investigation.

The hackers, who also got deeply into the State Department’s unclassified system, do not appear to have penetrated closely guarded servers that control the message traffic from Mr. Obama’s BlackBerry, which he or an aide carries constantly.

But they obtained access to the email archives of people inside the White House, and perhaps some outside, with whom Mr. Obama regularly communicated. From those accounts, they reached emails that the president had sent and received, according to officials briefed on the investigation.

The reality-based world


I always think it’s funny when people lay claim to some “reality-based” world in response to stories like this. They’re very, very common (remember the recent one where rescuers of a baby heard a voice calling from a sunken car, “Help, help” when the mother was already dead?). And so-called “crisis apparitions” are the most commonly documented form of psychic phenomena. (It’s really funny to read the theories researchers come up with as they twist themselves in knots to explain them, too.) I’ll bet if you ask around in your own family, at least one person heard from a loved one who died — at the same time they were actually dying.

Just admit we don’t know or understand everything. Life is full of many mysterious miracles:

Scott Mayhew was working on a car inside his Utah garage Monday when it fell off the jack and onto his chest; trapped, he cried for help for an hour and a half to no avail. “He said he remembers he could barely breathe,” wife Nicole tells Fox 13. “He didn’t know what was going to happen.” What happened was that she came home, found him, called 911, and got a neighbor to help lift the vehicle using the jack. It’s the why she came home that’s remarkable: She was at work that morning and suddenly had a premonition. “I just said I need to go check on him working on the car, I just believe a spirit told me,” she says.

As she got to their Saratoga Springs home and heard her husband calling, she had a vision of what she’d find in the garage: “I thought, ‘it’s on him, it’’s got to be on him, the car,’ that’s what’s in my head, so I knew immediately,” she says. She found the 43-year-old father of five, who says he’d been praying for her to come home, under the Ford Explorer. Paramedics responded, and though responders were concerned about possible internal bleeding, Scott is expected to make a full recovery; he broke six ribs.

That Chris Christie story about his mother on her deathbed

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Scott Raab in Esquire about the Christie story that’s apparently knocking the voters dead in New Hampshire:

There’s a story Chris Christie loves to tell about his mother on her deathbed, how he had flown to be by her side for her final moments of life, and how she shooed him back to work, telling him “there’s nothing left unsaid between us.”

It’s touching, at least according to the journalists who’ve profiled Christie and who invariably cite this anecdote and characterize it as touching. I myself have heard him serve it up at a couple of his town halls, and I can attest to the fact that the crowds ate it up.

I was not touched, except by The People’s endless hunger for bullshit. Any journalist who takes this fable at face value in order to make some self-evident point about Christie’s skill as a candidate is either a putz or part of the long con. I’ve spent enough time around politicians to know that deep within each resides the soul of a siding salesman. The mama’s-last-words bit reveals nothing about Christie that isn’t entirely calibrated as theatre. It is a scripted performance, as were the many town hall shout-downs Christie’s media people eagerly uploaded to YouTube before the Great Fort Lee Clusterfk.
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Bless their hearts

APTOPIX Italy Pope Epiphany

Boy, they really are worried about this pope’s influence. What if he actually got people to stop believing climate change was a hoax? What would happen to their paychecks? By the way, the Pope happens to have a masters degree in chemistry, so they’re going to have to argue with someone who actually understands science:

You’ll never guess what crazy shenanigans the folks at the climate denying Heartland Institute — I’m sorry, I meant to say “the world’s leading think tank promoting scientific skepticism about man-caused global warming” — are up to now.

According to their latest press release, the crew is heading to Rome, to “advise Pope Francis on climate policy.” Yes, that’s actually how they put it. It seems the Pope’s upcoming encyclical on climate action is rubbing the group the wrong way, probably because he’s expected to argue, at a Vatican summit next week, that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a moral and religious imperative. It’s a statement that’s going to be hard for Christians to ignore, which is why it’s up to Heartland’s anti-science “real scientists” to show the Pope the error of his ways before it’s too late.

“The Holy Father is being misled by ‘experts’ at the United Nations who have proven unworthy of his trust,” Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast said in a statement. “Humans are not causing a climate crisis on God’s Green Earth — in fact, they are fulfilling their Biblical duty to protect and use it for the benefit of humanity.” Did you hear that, Your Holiness? The overwhelming majority of scientists are wrong about climate change, and you don’t understand the bible.

“Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place,” Bast continued, “he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate.”

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