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Today’s Top Tweets – With a bit more commentary than originally intended…

It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, probably because it’s colder up here and our harvest is earlier than in the US. Today is a holiday but we had our family dinner last night. I’m up early this morning but not really in the frame of mind to make long comments. So I’ll just offer a few one-liner thoughts that came to mind as I looked over these stories:


1 – I always thought that the crucial distinction was between genuine authority, on the one hand, an oppressive authoritarianism on the other hand. This article seems to confuse that:

2 – This is a complicated issue but I think an alternative voice is something to at least consider, even if one does not entirely agree:

3 – I have to admit that I have wondered who was really hacking whom. We cannot know. But at least we can read everyone’s allegations about everyone else:

4 – For many years I’ve felt that the melody in pop tunes is often stronger than the melodies in many classical compositions. And even the arrangement. If one actually tries to do pop, one realizes that it is NOT simple. Even simple sounding songs involve an incredibly complicated process. Same thing with EDM. Some people disparage it as music some guy or gal “creates on a laptop.” Well, let me tell you. You don’t just create songs on your computer by pressing a button. It takes a lot of technical and theoretical knowledge, talent and time. If you don’t believe me, compare the electronic stuff I’ve done so far (a hobbyist who is still learning) with commercial songs. Big difference. So big that sometimes I get discouraged.

5 – To folks unfamiliar with St. Faustina, this final Top Tweet article might appear to be one of those hokey accounts that you see in some sensational books, magazines and web sites. But this is actually different. St. Faustina wrote a diary in the early 20th century that has become popular among Catholics interested in mysticism. I have read most of the diary. I got bored about 3/4 of the way through. But I think I read enough to get the gist of it.

This tweeted article ignores that mysticism and spiritual direction in the Catholic Church are not as clear and simple as the cherry picked passages seem to indicate. Faustina also writes in her diary that she learned not to confess everything to confessors, especially if she felt they were inexperienced. She even made a joke implying how ridiculous her fellow sisters (nuns) were for regularly checking her bed sheets to see if she had been masturbating. Later in the diary Faustina writes (or apparently writes) that she learned it is a great sin to not follow her superiors. She learns the value of “holy obedience.” To the Catholic Church’s credit, these seemingly contradictory passages were not edited out. And they probably could have been.

At times I have felt that Faustina was a naive young Polish woman, easily influenced (and psychologically abused) by some members of the Catholic Church. She suffered a lot, she also saw Jesus a lot whom she says consoled her; then she got sick and died young. My point is that what she calls “holy obedience” might be her putting a bit too much naive trust in a somewhat hypocritical and corrupt religious organization. Or it might not be. I don’t know.

I am just being honest about how I have thought about this issue over the years. It seems a lot of Catholics enjoy and reinforce fairy tale simplicities. But life is rarely like that. And if one really wants to be a mystical saint in the 21st century, I’m not even sure they could be within the rigid and often deceptively simple confines of today’s Catholic world. What I saw while discerning a possible call to the priesthood was a religious culture that cries out against the “evils” of secular society but in actual practice doesn’t really seem any better or worse, morally or economically.

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In an odd twist of fate, the Scarlet Letter is now “T”

If you haven’t read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne you probably won’t know what the heck I’m talking about. It’s a classic American novel.

English: Engraving of American author Nathanie...

Engraving of American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Taken from Brief Biographies: With Steel Portraits by Samuel Smiles. Published by Ticknor and Fields, 1861. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Scarlet Letter (1926 film)

The Scarlet Letter (1926 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Today’s Top Tweets – with a dash of humor this time

A little late today. These were gathered this morning but it was laundry day at home, so just getting time to post my favs now.

I like this first one because it reminds me of an ancient Greek play where all the women go on strike in protest of their men going to war, if I remember right.

This one is not scintillating but it does provide good coverage, clearing up some common misperceptions about Catholicism.

No kidding…

A scary thought. Lets hope it’s more hype than fact. One thing no one would consider—all paper ballots and going back to counting votes manually:

I did my doctorate in psychology and religion, so this story is of special interest to me. I think it’s done quite well. Especially as you read through toward the end.

It’s a crap shoot, I guess:

A lot of folks blame Christianity for many social ills. But this article suggests that Christianity has within it the seeds of redemption… not only spiritual but also social.

Pretty self explanatory. Is natural always better? This article asks:

A new twist on the old “monkey at a typewriter eventually coming up with Shakespeare…” if they type for all eternity, that is:

Here’s the song the above points to. I think it sounds like XTC before morphing into the Beatles. But then, XTC did sort of copy the Beatles style at times. Bottom line… people are still better musicians than machines.🙂

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Trump / Clinton Debate – The Optics of Optics

tc-opticsWas it just me or was Clinton’s head larger than Trump’s on the CNN cameras? It almost seemed as if CNN corrected the difference in subsequent internet stories about the debate, making the two candidates’ heads look the same size, with the background text all nicely lined up.

But in the actual televised debate, I’m not so sure.

Take a look at the above screenshot from a post-debate CNN stream, in which various commentators talk about and show clips from the debate.

Hillary’s circle is clearly larger than Donald’s.

Is this fair? Or was it a case of subtly making Trump look “alone at the microphone” as Neil Young once put it.

Again, I can’t say for certain but at the beginning, especially, I felt that Clinton’s head was bigger. There were times when she loomed large on the TV screen while Trump seemed to hang like a lonely puppet dangling from strings.

CNN commentators analyzed every detail… except for this—surprising, considering how sharp those folks usually are.

What do you think? Was Hillary’s head bigger on screen? Or did they balance out over time?


Hey Hillary: From Us ‘Deplorables’

I live in Canada and watch the US electoral hype with a sense of bemusement. Sometimes it seems that the endless commentary at CNN is mostly about media personalities jockeying to advance their careers and, of course, more advertising revenues for CNN. But I also know it’s not quite that simple. The guy who does that amazing podcast at Spotify about the Romans likens the USA to the Roman Empire. In some ways I agree with him. Both fun to study. —MC

The Foxhole


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The Disease – A poem I wrote a few years before 9/11

9/11 Memorial and World Trade Center (New York)

The Disease

I’ve watched it grow
I’ve seen it sow
true minds into despair

souls of sorrow
ladened deep
burning horrid stares

I’ve seen it work
at lightning speed
to destroy mankind’s seed

through the air
it does its deed
this is its only care

sans partiality
sans decency
Yes, this is “the disease”

You over there!
you believe you’re clear
of this melancholy breeze?

Well let me tell you
if you please
it’s a fatal,
dreadful siege

For once contracted
once enacted
you’ll go on normally
“it’s okay”
“I’m just fine”
“yes, I think I am still free”

But then, alas!
the grippe is tightened
beyond all points of ease
and shipwrecked sailors on the sea of life
all drown

Yes I’ve seen this blight
‘cross this land
and winds are blowing high
no apple pie nor starlit nights
will save this rotting sky
all is darkened
all are dead
all are doomed to die

Lance it fast while time remains
avoid a fearsome plight
destroy this curse
and rest assured
your mark is
for the

Cast it out and let us pray
“Lord give us back our sight”
Cast it out to guarantee,
Truth shall conquer might

The Disease © Michael Clark 1997 to present. All rights reserved.

This is a poem I wrote somewhere between 1997 and 1999. I’d just finished my Ph.D and was living in the top floor of an old, run-down house in Ottawa, the national capital of Canada.

At first, I saw “The Disease” as a metaphor for ideas like J.-P. Sartre’s bad faith, Erich Fromm’s mechanical man, Albert Camus’ The Plague and the sociological concept of false consciousness. That is, how some psychologically underdeveloped or skewed people can oppress innocent people.

The poem wasn’t planned. It mostly came via stream of consciousness, with a bit of tweaking after I’d typed out the main parts. While tapping away on my old 286 laptop I remember thinking just how foreboding it was becoming (“rotting sky…all are doomed to die”) and not really knowing why. I followed my instinct and didn’t delete the disquieting parts, although I did consider it for a moment.

After 9/11, I felt that this utterly foreboding verse could be taken as a premonition. As the new millennium approached, not a few artists and sensitives seemed to be picking up something truly rotten on their radar.

That said, around the same time as writing the poem, I was reading John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno. So one could say that I wasn’t foreseeing anything but, rather, subconsciously aping the greats and their treatment of evil.

God only knows.

By the time of the 9/11 attacks, I’d moved to Toronto, a larger, more cosmopolitan city. On the afternoon of 9/11/2001 I took a walk down Yonge Street, one of the busier streets, and felt a quiver of fear as I looked at our skyscrapers. Would they hit several cities? I can only imagine how New Yorkers must have felt. And watching the memorials today on TV only reminds me of what a pack of losers those are who hate and try to undermine the developed world.

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William Gibson’s influential “Neuromancer” – A thought-provoking review at Stuff Jeff Reads