The news that pope Bennedict plans to beatify his predecessor John Paul II on May 1st spread like wild fire around the Catholic world.
Now, let's leave aside for the moment the validity of the miracle that earned JPII this first step into full-blown sainthood —the curing of a French nun stricken with Parkinson's, the same illness the Polish pontiff suffered in his later years.
Let's also leave side for the moment the suspicions regarding whether Wojtyla was fully aware or not about the child abuses, committed by several members of the clergy —among them one of his closest friends, Marcial Maciel.
What I want to discuss here is the date chosen for this significant ceremony: May 1st. Of all the days in the calendar, why that particular day?
Well, not only is May the month associated with the Virgin Mary in the Catholic faith, but May 1st. also happens to be the first day when three little shepherds —Lúcia, Jacinta & Francisco— witnessed the fantastic apparitiont that was later recognized as Our Lady of Fátima.
During his papacy, JPII had a special veneration for the Virgin of Fátima. He was absolutely convinced it was through the Virgin's intervention, that the bullet shot by Mehmet Ali Agca was deflected and didn't end his life on that fateful day of May 13th. 1981 —once again, coinciding with the dates of the Fátima mystery.
So great has been the link the Vatican has tried to put between the images of Fátima and JPII, that during the fnal years of his papacy an "official disclosure" of the infamous third Fátima secret was released, claiming that it was a direct reference to the assassination attempt —something that was met with skepticism by a lot of researchers, since it was difficult to see how such a "prophecy" could have caused the long-lasting rumors of great shock and sorrow, allegedly suffered by the few people that had been granted permission to read the written version of the secret, prior to the official revelation; hence that there are many who feeel the real secret has not been revealed yet, or it has been misinterpreted (either deliberately or not) by the Vatican.
With JPII on the fast-track to sainthood, it would not be surprising if he receives a title or symbolic allegory that further reinforces his symbolic link with Our Lady of Fátima. One thing we can foresee though, without the need of psychic powers —or divine intervention— is that he will become a very popular saint.
Like many people who like dogs, I cried unstoppably the first time I watched the movie Hachi, based on the real story about a dog who faithfully waits for his master's return sitting at a train station, until the day it dies.
The movie works not because it has an interesting or very complicated plot --in fact the story is as straight-forward as it can get: man finds dog/man keeps dog/man dies/dog waits for man/dog dies. That's it.
And yet the movie is emotionally charged because it resonates at a very primordial level. There's something about such a display of fidelity in an animal that we humans find incredibly moving. Possibly because it unconsciously reminds us that our success as a species is in no small part owed to our productive association with our four-legged friends.
And with that in mind, I introduce you to Leāo (lion in Portuguese), a dog that has faitfully sit in front of his master's grave (tragically killed by the recent floods and mud slides in Brazil) for the last two days:
A dog, "Leao", sits for a second consecutive day, next to the grave of her owner, Cristina Maria Cesario Santana, who died in the week's catastrophic landslides in Brazil, at the cemetery in Teresopolis, near Rio de Janiero.
"(He) won't move from there eventhough we fed him outside (the cemetery). He sniffes at the grave and sits down again. And each time there's another burial he raises the head, as if thinking we're going to take his mistress out" said Marcio de Souza (cemetery caretakeer) to the Reforma newspaper.
There's probably a very good reason why Dog is the invert of God; and like all dog lovers in the world, I feel that if there are no dogs in heaven, then it's a place I don't have much interest in visiting.
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
During a recent public forum about the security in Mexico, president Calderón was confronted by a member of a NGO, about his government's strategy in the dealing of the war against drug cartels. Clearly annoyed, Calderón immediately interrupted the activist to state that he's never publicly used the term 'war' :
I've never used [that term] , and I invite you to review all my public & personal speakings to confirm this. You say "you have chosen the term 'war'". No, I did not choose it! I've always used the term 'fight against organized crime' and 'fight for public safety', and will keep using it
This statement has caused a collective WTF among all Mexicans, and all journalists have had a field day finding and publishing all the numerous occasions in which Calderón has categorically used the term 'war' during his public speeches, both here and abroad.
Is this one of the signs that prompted Hillary Clinton to inquiry the US embassy in Mexico about the psychological effects the war has had on Calderón? can a well-balanced individual really think we all have the memory retention of SNL's short-term memory guy?
Today the newspaper Reforma published a letter I wrote:
President Calderón may call the war against drug trafficking under any other name: Fight, conflict, conflagration, struggle, rivalry, or any other synonyms he may find in the dictionary.
But the only thing he can substitute with semantic sleight-of-hands, is that which is in plain sight of every man and woman in Mexico: that we are losing.
Maybe the man is not happy with the prospect that his term will be forever linked with the violence unleashed by his executive decisions in the history books. Maybe his staff has warned him about the detriment the liberal use of the term 'war' by foreign media has brought to the economy.
But the fact is that long after he leaves office, WE will still be dealing with this damn whatchamacallit.
As soon as the Arizona massacre lost is (immediate) partisan use, the next logical step for the media was to pigeon-hole the shooter into a distinctive "loony" category.
For Jared Lee Loughner, that category is "UFO nut":
[Source]The Web site Abovetopsecret.com is a place where odd ideas are welcome: Its discussion threads ask questions about UFO sightings, evidence of God, and "How do you kill an alien zombie?" But it became an unwelcome place for a new user, who joined the site in early 2009 and called himself "Erad3." Now - based on the language in his postings, and information about where he logged on - the site's operators believe Erad3 was accused Arizona shooter Jared Lee Loughner, 22.
We've all seen this before: trying to find an external culprit for the tragedies, a malevolent influence that causes these troubled individuals to commit such atrocities. For the Columbine massacre it was Doom and Marylin Manson. For Jared Lee, it is UFOs and conspiracy theories.
(Thanks to Greg for pointing out to this hilarious news)
Man, it's always one step forward and two steps behind with these guys.
In another brilliant display of detachment with the times we live in, Pope Bennedict has made a call for a Crusade against names that are not part of the Christian calendar:
[Source] "During Mass at the Sistine Chapel, he said: "Every baptised child acquires the character of the son of God, beginning with their Christian name, an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit causes man to be born anew in the womb of the Church." He added that a name was an "indelible seal" that set children off on a lifelong "journey of religious faith".
So the name is like God's copyrighted "seal of approval" for the production units, huh?
[Source] "Every baptism should ensure that the child is given a Christian name, an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit will allow the person to blossom in the bosom of the Church," Benedict XVI said, while baptising 21 infants in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday. "Do not give your children names that are not in the Christian calendar."
Whoa! that is one picky ghost.
So you Holiness, who is it that you know my son Optimus Prime
is not destined to become the greatest saint in the XXIst century, inspiring millions of people in the years to come?
...What's that? "divine revelation" you say? Damn! well played, sir.
As an addendum, I should probably mention that there was an initiative here in Mexico to dissuade (not prohibit) parents that wanted to register their kids with "funny" names. And although I kind of agree that naming your child Robocop is probably not the greatest of ideas, then we might even conclude that naming your kid Robocop or Voldemort is an indication said person is probably unfit to become a parent in the first place. But aside from the fact many popular celebrities are fond of giving their kids eccentric names —which may or may not prove my point!— the whole debate opens a whole can of worms regarding parenthood, and who exactly gets to decide what are the suitable qualities of a parent.
So go ahead, fear not the wrath of Bennie and name your kid after your favorite Anime character. Just don't be surprised if little Son Goku ends up not sharing your fanboi interests when he grows up.
In case you are still irritated about the fact someone decided to "upgrade" Huckleberry Finn by taking out all the "n-words" out of it, you should be aware that the Minitrue is also seeking to eradicate all references to cigarettes in famous historical figures:
[via Boing Boing]
It's sad that nowadays Politically Correctness takes precedence over Factual Accuracy. And the problem with that is because History's main value is helping us NOT to repeat the same mistakes of our predecessors.
Kind of a hard thing to do, if those mistakes are "airbrushed" or deleted...
As a professional working in the Architecture field, I totally <3 this!
The 2010 Zombie Apocalypse Safe House Competition "posed the task to designers to find solutions to the the very real threat of having to defend yourself against hoards of brain hungry zombies as the end of mankind grows near." [via archdaily]
The 2010 Zombie Apocalypse Safe House Competition, sponsored by Architects Southwest, provided entrants with several issues to address in their design:
Program Issues to Address:
1. How many people can you fit in your safe house?
2. How are you handling power, potable water, and waste?
3. How are you handling access to your safe house?
4. How many days do you plan to stay in your safe house, and how much food and water are you providing?
5. How will you escape in the event of a zombie intrusion?
6. How will you keep zombies out of your safe house?
The budget was unlimited.
The winner was the SS Huckleberry project, which focused on the premise that the best defense against a horde of brain-eating zombies is to be *always* on the move. The solution: "live along the Mississippi river and have some of America's favorites sylines as your bedroom view". Yeah, that would certainly keep your mind from thinking too much about the end of human civilization, all right!
(click on image for a bigger view)
What I specially like about this concept, is that it even considered the problem of finding fuel for your post-apocalyptic floating caravan: with DIY Zombie Diesel (TM). Pretty innovative, though I kind of worry that those reptilian Illuminatis would steal this idea in order to solve the current energy crisis --I can almost see myself running around my local gas station, shouting at the cars waiting in line (in my best Charlton Heston impersonation, of course) "Soylent Lead-free is made out of people!!!!"
I do wonder, though: what exactly was the winning prize? A shotgun, or a chainsaw?
God is always giving bread to the toothless, man!
Last night, at about 10:15 pm, as I was just about to walk out of the office and head home (more on that later) I received a call on my cell phone. It was my cousin Fernando, all excited, who wanted to inform me that he had just seen 3 UFOs.
His report was sketchy, and I admit I wasn't in the mood to ask a lot of inquisitive questions, but it seems he was with some people and suddenly a little girl exclaimed "hey! what's that?" and he looked up, and there were these 2 "orange-yellowish lights" in the night sky. There were soon joined in by a third "faster one". At the end the lights faded away, which he seems were the result of getting further away from his observing position.
"These were no airplanes", he said adamantly.
I did ask how long he was able to observe these lights. He said about 5 minutes. I asked "why the hell didn't you try to record them with a video-camera or something?", and he said he doesn't own one —and the man just came back for a holiday trip from LA with his family, where they were gonna specifically spend the time "shopping at the malls", according to his wife!
To add insult to injury, you know why I was still at the office so late? you know what I was *doing* at that time? Watching UFO clips on Youtube.
And the worst is that this is by far not the only UFO sighting among my family members, no sir! Just last December my sister Angélica told me she and my mom observed a very peculiar white object "hovering" very near to the Torre Latinoamericana. My family also observed a strange white light one other time during a road trip some time ago; and even my aunt Martha —Fernando's mom— told me of another time when she also had a UFO sighting.
Hell right I'm jealous! I'm the one who owns the books*, watches the clips, searched on the web, peruses on the night sky looking for something out of the ordinary. I'm the one who's known as the "goofy" one who believes in flying saucers. I'm HARDCORE, man! and why do I see? NADA.
God dammit, it's like they're doing this on purpose, those little bug-eyed pendejos.
(*)To be fair, my cousin Fernando does have a certain interest on the subject, and even lent me some books when I was younger; but as time has gone by his family & career obligations do not allow him to get involved with the UFO gig as much as he once did.
PS: OK, I'll come clean: I did observe a weird bolide-like object once, several years ago, one Xmas night when we were stepping out of mass. But it was so unremarkable and dull (the bolid never performed any sudden moves, it just crossed the sky in a straight line in total silence) that to me it doesn't count! —you're reading this, you deceitful bastards? IT. DOES. NOT. COUNT!
Yesterday morning I read on the Reforma newspaper that Julian Assange's case will now be transferred to the Belmarsh court. Some people consider Belmarsh to be Britain's GITMO, so it seems the wheels are now turning to seek the prosecution of Wikileak's founder as a terrorist.
You may be wondering why I didn't include this on Thursday's news briefs. Well, it turns out I tried to find a good link from a news source in English —plenty of articles in Spanish and other languages, though!— but the only one I could find was this, and yesterday night that link threw back a message stating "this account has been deleted".
Anyway, what I really wanted was wait until a big news service like AP, Reuters, BBC, etc would eventually pick up the story, so I could use that link.
...And I'm still waiting.
[UPDATE 01/07/11] At last! my Google "Assange+Belmarsh" news alert has thrown out this link. Although the mentioning of Belmarsh was disappointingly brief, since the article focused more on Assange's latest remarks not helping his image:
Such has been the media interest in the case that Tuesday's session has been moved from City of Westminster Magistrates' Court to Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in southeast London.
Julian Assange, who is still on parole in London, has admitted to the media that he doesn't discount the possibility of requesting political asylum in Brazil, as well as establishing a base of operations for Wikileaks in the South American country.
It's hardly any surprise, really. Not only for the support he's received from still-president Lula da Silva; but I can also perceive several reasons why Brazil would be an *ehem* attractive choice for Assange...
(Last two images digitally composed by yours truly)