Saturday, August 16, 2003

Picked Up Two Great CDs Today
The first we had on cassette tape, and have been looking for a CD version. It is Gregorian Chants for All Seasons by the Vienna Hofburgkapelle, directed by Josef Shabasser. The cassette was just called Gregorian Chants. We have often played the cassettes whenever we are in the mood for the sound of chant in the house. We found it in a 2-CD set for a bargain price (especially when you factor in the member's discount) at Barnes & Noble.

The second one is The Tenebrae For Good Friday by the Monastic Choir of Saint Peter's Abbey, Solesmes. We found it (along with The Tenebrae for Maundy Thursday by the same choir) on clearance at the Carmelite Giftshop at the North Shore Shopping Center. Just listened to it for the first time. It sounds wonderful.

Also at the Carmelites, we saw a paperback edition of Hilaire Belloc's The Road To Rome, considered by many to be his best. And the Catholic publishers have started to come out with explanatory material for children and adults on the new Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. We saw Michael Rose's new book about good priests in paperback. San Damiano Crucifixes seem to have become more popular, perhaps because our new Archbishop is a Capuchin. There were several in stock, including a lovely one about 18 inches high for just over a C-Note. If you don't live in this area, check out the Catholic goods store near you, if there is one. There are truly some wonderful things available there.

An Anniversary for "The King"
Today was an important day in the life of the man known as "The King." He was called "The King" because he was the best at what he did in his day. On this date in 1739, Elias Hasket Derby, known to his contemporaries as "King Derby," was born in the yellow clapboard house at the corner of Derby and Herbert Streets.

Derby was the heir of a substantial merchant shipping business here in Salem started by his father, Captain Richard Derby. He married Elizabeth Crowninshield, the daughter of a rival merchant family in 1759. As a wedding present, Richard had built for the couple (probably by Samuel McIntire's father) the Georgian brick 21/2 story house known as the Derby House on Derby Street at the head of Derby Wharf.

Gradually, during his father's lifetime, Elias Hasket took over the family business. He was a very substantial ship owner and merchant by the time the Revolution broke out. Having lost several ships early on to the Royal Navy, Derby armed his ships and sent them out as privateers. He designed large fast merchant ships like the Astrea and the Grand Turk, which took many prizes. The end of the war saw Derby unquestionably the first man of business in Salem.

By war's end, he had also begun his patronage of Samuel McIntire. McIntire meant to Salem what Bulfinch meant to Boston, and more. He was the finest architect and woodcarver of his day. He also made exquisite furniture and musical instruments. And McIntire gained his predominance because of the confidence the Derbys had in him. McIntire built for Derby a house next door to his first house, which Mrs. Derby did not like, but was put to good use as a warehouse. Then he renovated a house at the corner of Washington & Lynde streets for Derby. He then built a farm for him at the corner of Buttonwood and Andover Streets in what is now Peabody which included a garden house that now stands at Glen Magna in Danvers. Then he built Oak Hill, a mansion that stood on the present site of the North Shore Shopping Center for Derby's daughter (a wedding present from Dad). The interiors from some of the rooms at Oak Hill are preserved at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Then, about 1795, McIntire began designing and building what was considered his masterpiece, the Derby Mansion. The place was grand, perhaps the grandest house in America at the time. Mrs. Derby fussed over every detail, and had good refined tastes. McIntire by this point was at the peak of his powers. When he was finished, the house was what it was intended to be, the most architecturally splendid private dwelling in North America, a showcase for the wealth of the Derbys and a statement of the permanence of the House of Derby.

Derby, when not patronizing McIntire, had been busy. The end of the war left the American economy in a shambles. Derby solved the problem by sending his ships to Mauritius, Ascension Island, the Baltic, Calcutta, Sumatra, and China. Coffee, tea, cinnamon, and above all, pepper poured into Salem warehouses. Derby ships at one point dominated American trade with these far-flung locales. And the trade was excellent. Salem ships under the auspices of King Derby nearly conrered the worldwide Sumatran pepper market. Derby gave their starts in business to navigator Nathaniel Bowditch, and to the greatest of all Boston's 19th century merchant princes, Thomas Handasyd Perkins.

And Derby became a very rich man, America's richest, and the first American millionaire, without ever leaving Massachusetts in his life (in fact, as he had one blue eye and one brown one, he thought it best never to sail at all, as sailors would consider him a Jonah, and be uneasy about the fate of the voyage because of his presence).

And he was a patriot, too. When Salem heard about the fighting at Lexington, Derby shouldered his musket as a private in the Salem militia regiment lead by Colonel Timothy Pickering and marched to the scene of the battle. When Colonel Pickering was dilatory and took a few too many rest stops on the road to Cambridge, thinking it impossible that the British would still not have reached the safety of Boston by the time they could get there, and that Salem's men were on the march merely as a gesture of solidarity, it was Private Elias Hasket Derby who told the future Adjutant General of the Continental Army, and Secretary of War in no uncertain terms that they ought to get moving. As it turned out, they were just too late to engage the British before they got across Charlestown Neck and the protection of the guns of the Royal Navy.

Derby's brother John, a merchant and ship's captain in his own right, took one of his ships, the Quero and, saling in ballast, managed to get the colonists' version of the events of April 19th into the hands of the British public weeks before General Gage's version reached England. Derby's privateers were a substantial part of the American naval effort during the war. And after the war, Derby became a staunch Federalist, and paid, out of his won pocket, a great part of the expenses for President Washington's and Vice President Adams' visit to Salem.

That beautiful mansion McIntire built for the Derbys was ready in the late winter of 1799. Elizabeth Derby died that April. Elias Hasket Derby died in September. Derby's sons tried to carry on the business, but they lacked their father's skill or judgment.

Salem's great age of prosperity had another 8 years until it was first stunned by Jefferson's insane embargo, and then (after a brief healthy period) destroyed once and for all by Mr. Madison's equally insane war to conquer Canada. But one wonders how much greater the trade would have been in the period 1800-1808, and 1810-1811 if the brain that conceived it, that made Salem the wealthiest town in America so that the customs duties from her trade supplied a fifth of the entire revenue of the federal government, had been around to direct it.

The great mansion could not be maintained by the family. In 1817, Elias Hasket Derby, Jr., known as General Derby for his militia commission, sold it to his brother and brother-in-law, who, in turn, sold it to the town of Salem with the proviso that a suitable building would be erected on the site. Salem's Old Town Hall was built there, and still stands. But parts of the mansion are with us yet. When the house was torn down, bits and pieces of McIntire's lovely interior carving were bought at auction by various people. There are today McIntire mantlepieces, doorways, archways, molding, and panelling from the Derby Mansion in houses of later construction all over Salem. The Peabody Essex Museum's Phillips Library has one of the archways from the Derby Mansion above the main reading room. I've been looking at it a good deal these last two summers. And the summer house Mcintire built for that mansion's garden stands today in a garden behind the Phillips Library. The bench in front of it is a quite, lovely place to enjoy a good cigar on a clement afternoon.

Mass For The Assumption...In Polish
It was hotter than we like yesterday. Rather than swelter at our own parish (which it much too large to air-conditon) we went, as we often do in the hot weather, to the Polish parish around the corner, Saint John the Baptist, as they hold Mass in the lower church, which is air conditioned. But every other Mass or so is in Polish. This one was our first Polish Mass.

I was able to follow along easily enough. Missalettes really are a great thing. In fact, the Mass seemed to be a line-by-line translation into Polish of the American version of the Novus Ordo. And they followed the Mass pretty much as it was laid out in the missalette. And you could also use Father's inflection to tell where he was in the Mass, aside from his actions on the altar. The settings for the Amen and Alleluia were the familiar ones. The rest of the music was incomprehensible to us, as was the sermon. Father Stan has more to say in Polish than he ever does in English (or perhaps it just takes longer to say in Polish, which is something we seemed to notice from the responses).

I wonder if the Mass we heard would be the same in a parish in Poland. I suppose that there might be more regional variations in Poland than here. But the Mass is the Mass. It was an interesting experience to hear Mass in a foreign language. The only other time I had done so was in Montreal back in the late '70s. Then, I was too young to really follow along and understand what was happening. Mrs. F had been to a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin, where the priest butchered the pronunciations and raced through it. And she had been to a multi-culti extravaganza at the cathedral in Anchorage (generally English, but with readings and songs in Korean, Samoan, and Spanish). But this time, we had no difficulty. As I said, even though it is not in Latin, the Mass is the Mass, and a knowledgable worshipper can follow along pretty well, as long as the celebrant sticks to the rubrics.

Idi Amin Dies
God have mercy on him.

Archbishop Sean Meets With AG Reilly
The meeting was described as cordial, a marked contrast to Reilly's recent dealings with Cardinal Law. Of course there was a difference. Law was a potential criminal defendant. Archbishop Sean is not. He faces no consequences for bad actions over 18 years, as Cardinal Law did. It is no wonder that Law steered clear of Reilly. It is also no wonder that Archbishop Sean can have a friendlier relationship with law enforcement.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Go Saugus!
We have a local entry in the Little League World Series again this year. This one is even more local than last year's (Worcester). The Saugus All Stars have won their first game, beating Tallmadge, Ohio.

Saugus (the name is Indian) is a town just north of where I was born (Malden) and just a little south of where I lived for 30 years (West Peabody). It was settled in the 17th century, and fairly early in that century. It was first a farming town, with healthful springs in North Saugus. The area around Hawkes Pond was settled by an ancestor of President John Adams.

Scots, some of them prisoners of war, were brought to Saugus to work in the Saugus Iron Works, a fascinating 17th century site that has been preserved and reconstructed under the auspices of the National Parks Service. They host concerts on the grounds in the summer time. It was there that Mrs. F. and I first ran into the Makem Brothers, Tommy's sons, and great performers in their own rights.

Saugus is now a sleepy suburb of Boston, with a gaudy commerical strip down the middle complete with orange dinosaurs, fiberglass cattle, a neon cactus, and a leaning tower of pizza. That commerical strip is also the main artery into Boston from the north, Route 1. The population is significantly Italian, as Italian families in the North End and Revere fled north (the Irish in West Roxbury and South Boston fled south) to get away from the increasing diversity of the city.

Saugus is Peabody's high school football Thanksgiving Day rival (their team is called the Sachems, and Peabody's, the Tanners). I went to grammar school, high school, and college with kids from Saugus.

Saugus has a great Italian foods store, J. Pace & Sons, just a mile off US Route 1 there. They bought out (and have kept intact, though they moved it into their store; it was originally a store front over) Espositos' Bakery, where my parents would always stop for a loaf of scali bread, and a slice or two (or three) from their great square trays of pizza (the sauce is a little sweeter than most, and the pizza is best cold) and maybe a few cannolis when going to visit family or friends in Malden or Melrose.

There are also two great steak places in Saugus. The better known is Frank Guiffrida's Hilltop Steak House on Route 1 South, a sprawling complex that seats hundreds, if not thousands, and serves some of the best filet mignon on this planet. They have a butcher shop in the back which is superb, the best in the area now that the Danvers Butchery fell victim (two years ago) to a deranged arsonist and has not been rebuilt.

The second great steak place is a small chain called Jimmy's Steer House on Route 1 North, which features terrific steakhouse-marinated sirloin tips. It is on the site of my parents' favorite Italian restaurant, the late and much-lamented Augustine's (where the lasagna was something to anticipate, but not as good as mine).

Saugus has a nicer Barnes & Noble than the one at the North Shore Shopping Center in Peabody. There are more comfortable chairs with more privacy, and the staff plays nicer music (often baroque) over the store's system. Alas, it lacks a music/video section. There used to be a nice cigar shop with a walk-in humidor at the Square One Mall in Saugus, but it closed after the cigar boom faltered in the late 1990s.

I like Saugus, even if its football team is my hometown's historic rival.

You won't hear this from me on many occasions, but:

"Go Saugus!"

Alabama Chief Justice To Keep Ten Commandments Up Despite Federal Court Order
Alabama Attorney general Pryor, the guy the Senate Democrats say is too narrow-mindedly conservative to be a federal judge, will try to enforce the federal court order (because it is his job to do so).

I Was Wrong About the Equities Markets
I expected a big early sell-off. Instead, the markets have wandered back and forth over the break-even point without any real direction. Good news on industrial production and consumer prices has largely offset uneasiness over the blackout.

The Times, They Are A'Changin'
From news reports I am hearing, it sounds as if there were more acts of theft in the blackout in Ottawa than in New York City. From the moment I first heard about it last night, I dreaded the stories of looting in New York. It sounds as if three NYC shops were looted. Ottawa reported 38 smash & grab incidents, and an arson.

New Yorkers seem to have pulled together, as they did on that terrible day two Septembers ago.

Canadians, now more ethnically diverse than ever in the cities, and without a coming-together experience of their own (who would bother to attack Canada?), and under a weak national government with a retiring Prime Minister better known as Cretin than Chretien, did not.

At Least Diana Was Not First
The BBC published a poll to establish who was the greatest Briton. Sir Issac Newton came in first. Sir Winston Churchill came in second. The late former Princess Diana of Wales, third, with Darwin and Shakespeare rounding out the top five.

As time goes on, Diana, who never did a single important thing, will fade from polls like this. In any case, Queen Elizabeth I and Oliver Cromwell should be way, way ahead of her. Spenser, Milton, Defoe, Pope, Swift, Priestley, Burke, Doctor Samuel Johnson, Lady Thatcher, Lloyd George, GBS, Waugh, Wodehouse, Lewis, Tolkien, Muggeridge, Saki, Chesterton, Belloc, Cardinal Newman, Disraeli, Dickens, Austen, Eliot, Hardy, Gladstone, the Duke of Wellington, the Duke of Marlborough, Kitchener, George III, Victoria, Edward VII, George V, George VI, Elizabeth II, Captain Cook, Drake, Raleigh, Admiral Lord Nelson, Lord Mountbatten, Field Marshal Montgomery, Saint Thomas More, Saint John Fisher, Wordsworth, Lord Macaulay, Gissing, Mallock, Maine, Gibbon, Smith, Sheridan, Congreve, Grey, Garrick, Olivier, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Hogarth, Stubbs, Fry & Laurie, Rowan Atkinson (heck, Rowan Williams!) , Sir Sean Connery, Robert Burns, Jamie Boswell, Cruickshank, Gillray, Pitt the Elder, Pitt the Younger, Castlereagh, Canning, Fleming, O'Brian, Forester, Bernard Cornwell, Paul Johnson, Oakeshott, Turner, Zoffany, Kneller, Handel, Purcell, Gilbert & Sullivan, John, Paul, George, & Ringo, the members of Monty Python, Wesley, Wedgewood, Conrad, Kipling, and Watt, are just a few of the thousands who deserve to be ranked ahead of Princess Diana.

But then, I suppose it matters how long ago you lived. The British are just as ignorant of their history as everybody else. You can't expect them to say that the chap who described modern economics ranks ahead of a dead recent celebrity.

Michael Novak on the Catholicity of President Bush's Policy
National Review Online is not publishing a new edition for the day because of the blackout in New York, but yesterday NRO posted an essay by Michael Novak on how consistent President Bush's policies have been with the teachings of the Church. It is interesting to note that his brother, Governor Jeb Bush, maried a Catholic and converted himself. I don't see that happening with President Bush. But he has been careful to not upset Catholics.

His stand on cloning (the federal government will no longer fund research on new lines that would involve taking new lives, but research derived from embryoes already killed for the purpose can continue to get federal funding), announced a month or two before September 11th, was hearteningly consistent with practical realities, and the Catholic desire that no more lives be taken for this research. It is only a shame that the reach of the President's policy is so limited.

His stand on other pro-life issues, except the death penalty where the current pontiff has taken the Church in a new direction that is itself somewhat inconsistent with two thousand years of practice (or at least changes emphases from the things that were emphasized previously), is compatible with the teachings of the Church.

His openness to faith-based organizations taking up more of the burden of social welfare with some small help from the federal government is also consistent with the goals and needs of the Church.

I would say that President Bush has worked to cultivate the sympathies of Catholics. Catholic voters ought to reward his diligent efforts on behalf the Church's domestic agenda with votes for him next November.

Feast of the Assumption
Read this article on the Assumption of the Blessed Mother from the Catholic Encyclopedia. Today is a holy day of obligation.

A Genuine Pedophile Priest Pleads Guilty In Worcester
Father Robert E. Kelly had three victims that we know of, all girls under the age of ten. That makes him one of the few genuine pedophiles in the pervert priest crisis. Experience has shown that 85% of the abuse was directed at pubescent or post-pubescent boys, making it ephebophilia, or what is known in the homosexual community as "chicken-hawking."

But all of the sexually abusive priests need to be dealt with sternly (criminally prosecuted if possible, and defrocked and stripped of their pensions). They were part of a network that made it difficult for anything to be done about the problem, since there were so many of them, some quite high in the Church. They all had information about the dirty little secrets of others, which made those others unwilling to risk speaking out. Prosecuting the other abusers makes it easier to get at the homosexual networks, as it drains the swamp of lies, sin, and cover-up in which they were able to operate.

I want to see everything, including psychological and psychiatric records. Put it all out on public display. Let the light shine in these dark places. Only then will we know the full scope of the problem, and how best to fix it. It may be that the reforms put in place last year are only a first step. Full information across the board may make it clear that certain doctors or facilities were complicit, or incompetent. It might show that certain faculty or staff at various seminaries still need to be turned out. It might show that certain current diocesan administrators and staff, or staff as the USCCB, need to be given the bum's rush. The acts of additional bishops should come under scrutiny. There are a few more bishops who need to go (Mahony, McCormack, and Grahmann, maybe Egan and Banks). Follow every lead to its conclusion. Then once that is done, we can be confident that the Church has been purified of this enormous sin and crime.

Well, It Was the Biggest Blackout In US History
Over 50 million people were inconvenienced by it, double the number out of power in the 1965 blackout. There is still no good explanation of the cause of the initial outage, or why it became so widespread.

While New York, New Jersey, parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Ontario are having a hard time, things here in New England have been just fine. We didn't even experience a brownout. Our power mostly comes from Quebec, not Ontario, and is tranmitted along different lines.

There are limited reports of looting in Brooklyn. But it doesn't seem to be nearly as bad as the 1977 NYC blackout, when things really got out of control.

The mayor of New York is suggesting that New Yorkers take a day off today, but the financial markets will re-open today (though I expect that they will be very negative, at least initially). The blackout started a few minutes after the NYSE close. There have been few problems with Wall Street's back-up generating system since then. After-hours trading has been proceeding normally.

A great number of people are still without power. Probably by the end of the day, all will be restored. Then the folks in charge of the operation and security of the power grid are gonna have some splaining to do.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

It May Not Have Been Terrorism, But it Certainly Seems Suspicious
While Mrs. F and I were placidly watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding and A Private Function this evening, apparently New York, Cleveland, Detroit, and Toronto were hit with a massive blackout that sidelined the conveniences (and in some cases, necessities) of modern life. Thank heavens that the Boston area was not affected, since it is a brutally hot day, and the air conditioners are in full use here.

As usual, the responsible officials have rushed out to assure us that this was not an act of terrorism. Canadian officials are quick to point out that it was caused by a lightning strike. Drudge has produced weather maps that seem to indicate that there were no thunderstorms near the area where the lightening strike was said to have occurred. If something is being covered up, the question is, are they covering up an act of terrorim to make us feel better, or just covering up someone's (perhaps a collective someone's) negligence or stupidity.

The best case scenario is that some weird event shut down the system. It will pinpoint a vulnerability in our power grid's security, and will be fixed before some Moslem fanatic (or any other fanatic, for that matter) exploits it.

V-J Day
You won't find it on the calendar anymore. I looked at three today, and this year's Old Farmer's Almanac, and did not see it noted. Only an old issue of OFA noted it. But this is the 48th anniversary of the end of the war in the Pacific.

To all of those who served in the Pacific Theater of Operations, thank you. You served our country well in an hour of desperate need. You lost many friends and comrades. Perhaps you yourself bear the scars of the fighting there. But the world is better for what you and those who served with did. Your country, and its people owe you a substantial debt of gratitude.

Kyrie Eleison
Researchers in China have "successfully" combined human and rabbit DNA to generate stem cells. Matt Drudge found this one first.

I don't think I need to tell anyone in this audience that this is absolutely not the sort of thing that scientists ought to be doing.

This sort of research turns the stomach, and revolts just about every thinking person's sensibilities.

I Just Heard That More Than 3,000 French People Have Died From the Heat
I'll take our humid 80s over what Europe is getting anytime.

Eve of the Assumption, the End of Summer
Tomorrow is a milestone in the calendar, the Feast of Our Lady of the Assumption. When I was a child, I attended school and Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption parish in Lynnfield. So the day was always notable, aside from the fact that it is a holy day of obligation.

But recalling the Assumption of the Blessed Mother was not the only reason why the day was a milestone to me as a young fellow. It was the beginning of the end of summer. The early part of the summer had passed quickly enough, and with little enough accomplished (we had no summer reading lists). But the Assumption signalled the coming end of summer. There were only two weeks left until Labor Day weekend. School always started on the Wednesday after Labor Day. One would try to make those last days of summer last.

"Want to go to the museum today?"

"No thanks, Dad, I just want to make the days last."

Somehow, those last days of peace at home could never be prolonged enough. No matter what you did (or didn't do), the beginning of September, and school, came anyway. I was probably pretty surly those last two weeks of vacation.

Mom would be doing back to school shopping by now. New uniform components would need to be bought every year (our uniform consisted of navy blue slacks, navy blue ties, and light blue shirts, usually purchased at the old L.H. Rogers store here in Salem, now office space for the Peabody Essex Museum). Ann & Hope was Mom's destination for spiral notebooks, looseleaf paper, pens, pencils, folders, erasers, crayons, water colors, calculators, protractors, and rulers. A trip to the supermarket (the now-defunct Purity Supreme) would be made for lunch things (Underwood Deviled Ham, 3 Diamonds Tuna, Hellman's Mayo, Spam, Skippy Peanut Butter, balogna, cheese, Devil Dogs, Ring Dings, Twinkies, boiled ham, potato sticks, Wonder Bread, apples). I would drag my heels at every step. School was coming, but I wanted nothing to do with it.

It wasn't until college that I got into the spirit of back-to-school shopping. By then, back-to-school meant trips to Syms, Brooks Brothers, Filene's Basement, and T.J. Maxx for clothes and shoes. I would even make a special trip down to BC in late August to buy my books (I always registered for all my classes as soon as possible, and never dropped or added a class). Since I was a pre-law history major, and took classes within a very narrow area that also happens to be my chief area of interest (medieval, early modern, and modern Europe) my class books were generally titles I would be interested in reading anyway. So book buying for class was an opportunity, not a chore.

Even after I got out of school, late August/early September has been my clothes-buying time. You can still find some polos and khaki shorts at a discount. And the fall/winter lines are in. An argyle sweater is tempting? You can find one now. The yellow button down oxford getting a little frayed around the cuffs and collar? BB might be having a sale. And even if they are not, you'll probably get 3 shirts for $150.00 anyway. New khakis are available. And if you check the LL Bean catalog, you might even find lined khakis for winter.

I miss a few things. I've spent most of my life in suits, or cords and khakis. You used to be able to buy wide-wale cords from BB with embroidered ducks, or whales or tennis rackets on them. I have not seen such a thing in a decade. Remember the Norwegian Fisherman's sweater from LL Bean? Everyone at Saint John's and BC owned one. Haven't seen one in an age.

So I lost my dislike for this time of year once I discovered it was the time to furnish my wardrobe and library. But with a largish closet bursting with clothes, it is not necessary to buy new duds. The book shelves are full to overflowing all over the house. No room for new books.

Two weeks to go until Labor Day, and nothing to buy. How sad!

Out of the Soup, Into the Broiler
The last week, we have really been in the soup, with very high humidity. We live four blocks from Salem Harbor. On waking up for the last week, the first thing one was aware of was a strong smell of tidal waters (there was no appreciable seabreeze). If you so much as walked up the stairs, you needed a glass of lemonade and a stretch in an air-conditioned room.

Now the humidity has cleared out. But it is hotter. We haven't seen 90 degrees since July 6th It has been mostly in the 80s since then, though at the end of July we had some nice summer polar air for a few days. We will be getting to 90 degrees at least today and tomorrow.

Out of the soup, into the broiler. Some nice late-September weather would come in handy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Blogging Has Been Light
For the last week, Mrs. F. and I have been marking the last couple of weeks of her summer vacation (she has to start getting lesson plans done, having faculty meetings, and getting her classroom set up shortly) with a daily evening DVD fest. And since right now our DVD player is the computer, blogging has been limited.

We've been catching up on movies we were curious about, but never had the drive to go the the theater for. Castaway, Black Hawk Down (a very depressing movie about an utterly foolish intervention that should never have been made), Mrs. Brown, The Field (talk about a depressing, tragic Irish movie!), The Godfather (I'd never seen it, and since the computer kept sticking because of the length of the movie, I still haven't really seen it), Unbreakable (which features, in a deleted scene, a priest who has suffered a personal loss in his family saying almost the same thing the Mel Gibson character in Signs said about it all being luck, that there is, essentially, no God), and a couple of others I have forgotten.

And when we haven't been taking up the computer with playing DVDs, we've been at the library doing research on the Elias Hasket Derby project I mentioned some weeks back. But the start of school is coming, and with it, blogging should return to normal.

The Globe Has Caught Up With My Reading of Appendix Three of the AG's Report
But they have more complete information than I had on Saturday. They have come up with a figure of $21.2 million spent between 1994 and 2001 (as opposed to the roughly $18 million between 1994-2000) settling with victims and treating pervert priests.

The point is that the Archdiocese spent lots of money (more than Providence or Manchester paid out in the big global settlements they entered into in the last 10 months) quietly, with no one outside the chancery or the litigation knowing about it. You can see why people of all idealogical stripes agree that the finances of the Church here in the US need to be much more "transparent."

The pattern of what was paid out every year between 1994 and 2000 makes it clear that Cardinal Law and those around him knew very well that they had a problem with pervert priests. You don't pay out tens of millions of dollars within 7 years without noticing that there is a pattern.

Sure, the insurers paid most of it, but it is not as if the Archdiocese was kept in the dark on the settlements. They had to sign off on them.

In other news gleaned from the article, Archbishop Sean may sue Kemper and the Travellers to get them to pay $40 million of the proposed $55 million settlement. Cardinal Law and Bishop Lennon were reluctant to take that step.

One thing does not ring true, the assertion that the plaintiffs' lawyers found out about these settlements when they read Appendix Three. That is so false that I cannot believe the Globe would try to get that one past us.

The same plaintiffs' lawyers who are suing the Church today are the same ones who entered into these settlements. Jeffrey Newman, Mitchell Garabedian, et al have made very nice livings suing the Archdiocese over the last decade. Ok, no one of them saw the complete picture. But they knew they had entered into settlements, and they had a fair idea that other lawyers they knew had suits against the Archdiocese, and knew they were settled (though they did not know for how much). So to say that the plaintiffs' lawyers read Appendix Three, and realized, "Shazaam, the Archdiocese has shelled out tens of millions over the last 7 years!" is so blatantly hypocritical that it stetches credulity beyond the breaking point.

The Archdiocese knew it was sitting on a time bomb. Check out the precautions they took to make sure that the reports they started to compile in 1993 were not leaked:

"Whenever possible, the production of the individual sections, i.e., typing, copying, etc., was done directly by the person responsible for the material and not delegated to other staff," states the introduction by the Rev. Brian M. Flatley, Law's delegate on sexual abuse matters. "The total report is not stored in any word processors. There are only three paper copies of the total report, and they are all in Father Flatley's control."

This Is Sad
A Marine Reserve Sargeant comes home to his wife and family in New Hampshire after 6 months in Kuwait and Iraq, is home only three hours, and dies of an unexpected heart attack. His last words? To the effect that he loved his family.

I have no doubt that Sargeant Racicot's heart attack came on because of stresses, including heat, he was subjected to in the last 6 months. We pay a high price in the lives of good dedicated, patriotic men, and women, in protecting the peace. But September 11th showed us that, if we do not undertake the role of world's policeman, no one else can or will, and the consequences of the resulting free-for-all will be deadly here at home. Let us hope that Racicot's widow will be taken care of by a grateful nation.

The Dog Days Are Over
But, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the Cat Nights are about to begin.

From now until the end of the month, check out Mars in the southern sky around midnight. On the 27th, it will be closer than it has ever been since the invention of the telescope.

And once you get to August, one starts to pay attention to the old Indian names for the full moons. Tonight's is the Sturgeon Moon.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Saint Clare
Today is the feast of Saint Clare of Assisi under the reformed calendar. Under the traditional calendar, her feast was August 12th. Read her biography from the Catholic Encyclopedia here.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

One Experiment This Weekend Did Not Work
At the Essex Street Fair this weekend, there were two lemonade stands advertising fresh-squeezed lemonade. I tried both. The first was too weak, a vaguely lemon-flavored water with a little sugar. The second had a nasty musty flavor because the lemon they used was going bad. I can do better at home (in fact, I can get a better-tasting lemonade from a powder or from concentrated lemon juice).

Great NCR, Episcopalians, and Vatican Document Rant
Dale Price at the wonderfully-named Dyspeptic Mutterings does an excellent job dissecting NCR's coverage of the Episcopal mess, and the Vatican document on gay marriage.

Saint Lawrence
Today is the feast of Saint Lawrence in both calendars (though, of course, the feast is suppressed when it occurs on a Sunday in favor of the liturgy for that particular Sunday). Lawrence was deacon to Pope Sixtus II. When Sixtus was being led off to martyrdom in 258 A.D., Lawrence ran along side, tearfully asking Sixtus if he could accompany him to glory. Sixtus told him that in three days, he would meet the same fate. Lawrence was responsible for all of the funds of the Church. Fearing confiscation, he turned all of the Church's property into cash, and handed it out to the poor.

Two days after Sixtus' death, Lawrence was summoned to the Prefect of Rome, who demanded that he turn over all of the treasure of the Church to the imperial officials. Lawrence asked to return the next day, so that he could collect the treasure. The prefect agreed. Lawrence came back on the next day with a crowd of beggars, and gestured to them, "Behold, the treasures of the Church!"

Lawrence was condemned to be roasted over a slow fire. He was stretched out on a gridiron, and the process began. At one point, he called out to his executioner that he was well-cooked on one side, and that he should be turned over. He died praying for the City of Rome

100.2 Degrees At Heathrow
I can recall a time, and not so long ago, too, when Her Majesty complained out loud about the "intolerable heat" on a 78 degree day.

Guinness Just Got a Little Stronger
I don't know that I'll be using Foreign Extra in my next bowl of wassail, or ordering it next time the spirit moves me to order a pint with a burger (based on history, that should be sometime in 2005). But it is good to know about.

Now That You Are In the Mood For Ice Cream...
Here is my favorite, easy-to-make recipe for ice cream.

Maple Ice
adapted from Jeff Smith's The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American

2 cups maple syrup (splurge, use the real thing, even if the store brand real thing, not the imitation stuff)
1/4 cup water
11/4 cup whipping cream

Mix all this together, pour into metal canister of your ice cream machine, and chill until very cold (put it in the freezer for 30-45 minutes). After it is quite cold, put the metal can in place in the ice cream maker, install the dasher and lid, and, after adding the table salt and ice cubes, start the machine and let it go until it is processed.

This will not set up as firmly as normal ice cream. It may be a little runny, but it is still quite good.

This makes a quart of Maple Ice. If you have a half-gallon maker, double the recipe. If you have a full gallon maker, quadruple it, and invite me over.

Why I Love the Late Haydn Pearson's Work (And Why You Should, Too) Part 1
Haydn Pearson wrote a syndicated column called, The Countryman, for many years in the 1940s and 1950s. His columns were short reminiscences of life in New England around the turn of the 20th century. His column was carried by the old Boston Herald American and the New York Times, among other papers. The essays were arranged around the months of the year, and the seasonal activities called to mind with the turning of the calendar page. A book of selected columns called The Countryman's Year appeared in 1949.

The following is from his essays for August. The heat, today's Scooper Bowl down the street (though not as bountiful or as well-run as in past years, we went, had some decent ice cream, and were thoroughly drenched by a passing tropical downpour), and a lack of any serious news on an August Sunday inspired me to introduce you to Pearson. The charming hominess of his prose, and his writing about a topic dear to my heart, traditonal New England, hooked me from the very start. Maybe you will bump into this book, or another of his at a used bookstore or library sometime (they are long since out of print, with no apparent intention to put out a new editon), and check his work out in more detail.

Licking The Dasher
Modern progress is all very well with its scientific gadgets, horseless carriages, airplanes, and bubble gum of balloon proportions. The countryman does not oppose mechanical refrigerators where one can flip a switch and produce ice cream without turning the crank of a freezer. He does regret, however, that more lads of a dozen years or so cannot enjoy the superlative satisfaction of licking the dasher.

On a hot, sultry August afternoon when the perspiration trickled down the forehead and made a rivulet down the middle of one's back, Father would always say, "Son, why don't you see if Mother will make us some ice cream for supper? You help her and I'll finish up this job." A lad's flagging strength was quickly renewed. It wasn't hard work to get a big chunk of green-white ice from the sawdust in the weathered icehouse. No work at all to pound the pieces fine in a meal bag. Turning the crank of the six-quart freezer could not be compared to the drudgery of turning the heavy grindstone.

Round and round in the salt and ice went the metal cylindrical can. Salt water ran out the hole near the bottom of the wooden freezer. By and by, the mixture of eggs, sugar, cream, and flavoring began to harden. Funny how Father always managed to appear just as the last hard turning finished. He would give a few tentative turns and pronounce the verdict, "I guess she's done." The ice and salt were taken from the top; the cover was removed.

The rest of the family had small saucerfuls as preliminary tastes, but a boy had the dasher in a dishpan. An understanding Mother always left plenty of the cold, creamy deliciousness on the wooden paddles. A fellow could sit down on the chopping block and slowly, appreciatively savor the satisfying goodness. Many men can look back on their youth and remember the days of long ago when they helped make ice cream-and had the dasher to lick as a reward.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?