Friday, March 30, 2007

The Beginning of the End for Durian Nation

Having the odour of a carcas that has been in the sun for days - a British commentator on the fruit durian.

Odorless durian raises a stink

from the International Herald Tribune

TUNG PHAEN, Thailand: You can take the sugar out of soft drinks and the fat from junk food. But eliminate the pungent odor from the world's smelliest fruit and brace for a major international controversy.

After three decades of research, a Thai government scientist working at an orchard here near the Cambodian border says he has managed to take the stink out of durian.

The spiky Southeast Asian fruit, variously described by its detractors as smelling like garbage, moldy cheese or rotting fish, is banned from many hotels, airlines and the Singapore subway. But durian lovers, and there are many in Asia, are convinced that, like fine French cheeses, the worse the smell, the better the taste.

Read more here. I'll just post the funny quotes from the story.

"Oh, no, this is the beginning of the end," said Bob Halliday, a Bangkok-based food writer, when told about the odorless durian.

"Making a non-smelly durian is like a thornless rose," Halliday said. "It's really cutting out the soul."

"The smell must come out from the durian," said Chang Peik Seng, owner of the Bao Sheng durian farm on the Malaysian island of Penang, as he emphasized the "must." "You cannot hide the smell." It took several minutes to explain the concept to Chang, who ultimately concluded that an odorless durian would flop in his country. "If the durian doesn't have strong smell the customer only pay one-third the price," he said.

Tradition also dictates that mixing alcohol with durian should be avoided at all costs."Durian makes you hot and alcohol makes you hot, so it's double heat," said Somchai Tadchang, the owner of a durian orchard on Kret, an island on the Chao Phraya river north of Bangkok

"To anyone who doesn't like durian, it smells like a bunch of dead cats," said Halliday, the food writer. "But as you get to appreciate durian, the smell is not offensive at all. It's attractive. It makes you drool like a mastiff."

"You might as well be eating watermelon," Halliday said.

The background: Durian is also popular in the southern Philippines. I had it a few times, at first having no clue about the "No Durian" signs in my hotel and the "Durian Nation" t-shirts in the Mall. At first, I thought Durian was some sort of social movement or something. My mother in-law hates the stuff so bad that she does not let it in the house.

One Sunday, wifey and I were in the South End of Boston, just having been to Mass at the Cathedral. I needed to find a bathroom in the worst way so I ran into this Chinese market and turning the corner what did I see? A freezer jammed with durian! "Amazing!" I thought.

A year later, wifey and I were in the delivery room watching a food show from Australian while son #1 took his sweet ole time coming out. That's the origen of the quote at the top of the post.

I like the stuff and I have been threatening to bring it into work. This really motivates me to follow through with my threat.

Must See TV

H/T to the Curt Jester
John Mallon from HLI writes that it looks like Father Jonathan Morris will be on Hannity and Colmes tonight, Friday, March 30 discussing contraception. Father Morris is a Fox News contributor and analyst and previously was quite negative of Fr. Tom Euteneuer handling of an interview with Sean Hannity on this subject. Hopefully there will be more light than heat on the subject and it is pretty cool that the Church's teaching against contraception is being defended on national TV in the first place.
Background here (Mary at Against All Heresies was all over this one.)

I wrote:

Defense of church teaching? I doubt anything of the sort will come from Sean Hannity unless of course it is also happens to be a plank from the RNC platform.

Birth Control is a bit in the news right now because a Bush nominee has been attacked by the State of Massachusetts and NARAL Pro-Death America is out for blood. Read here.

Then again, all this may confuse Hannity as a Methodist preseident appointed a doctor apparently critical of sex ed and birth control to a post.

Sean Hannity is a Republican first, Roman Catholic distant third.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

On the Title

Ad Jesum per Mariam is latin for To Jesus Through Mary. I have no idea of the full story behind this phrase but I know that it is tied tightly with St. DeMonfort's book True Devotion to Mary which I have read twice and will continue to read for the rest of my life (see it in the links).

One day, a very polite and learned commenter asked if my latin was not mistaken as I had named the blog Ad Jesu per Mariam. Now Jesus, being a direct object in this phrase, needs a little "m" on the end of his name. Having had only two years of Latin twenty years ago, it was a basic error caused by the twenty years in the darkness but the two years allowed for instant recognition of the problem. I was reminded of all this on this past Sunday, as the phrase appeared on the inside cover of a missal.

But there is meaning in my broken latin. It's symbolizes the situation of many Roman Catholics. We've lost so much and we speak the tongue of our Mother (the Church) only in a broken manner. So, I threw in a little "m" for the time being but I'll going to go back to my broken latin. It's a kind of virtual sack cloth, a acknowledgement of my unlearned nature, dismal knowledge of The Faith but it'll also be a mark of defiance against the vulgarity of the last fourty years.

Repeat: Day Care Screws Up Your Kids

From the New York Times no less:
Poor Behavior Is Linked to Time in Day Care.

Read it here if you like to spend your time on revealations of the obvious.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Papal Newsflash: There is Hell

Pope says hell and damnation are real and eternal

By Richard Owen in Rome

HELL is a place where sinners really do burn in an everlasting fire, and not just a religious symbol designed to galvanise the faithful, Pope Benedict XVI has said.

Addressing a parish gathering in a northern suburb of Rome, the Pope said that in the modern world many people, including some believers, had forgotten that if they failed to "admit blame and promise to sin no more", they risked "eternal damnation - the inferno".

Hell "really exists and is eternal, even if nobody talks about it much any more".

He had wanted to reinforce the new Catholic catechism, which holds that hell is a "state of eternal separation from God", to be understood "symbolically rather than physically".

Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, a church historian, said the Pope was "right to remind us that hell is not something to be put on one side" as an inconvenient or embarrassing aspect of belief.

It was described by St Matthew as a place of "everlasting fire" (Matthew xxv, 41).

"The problem is not only that our sense of sin has declined, but also that the world wars and totalitarianisms of the 20th century created a hell on earth as bad as anything we can imagine in the afterlife," Professor Bagliani said.
The killing fields of communist Cambodia, the gulags of Germany and Russia come to mind.

Other blogs will be filled with speculation about how many go to Hell if nobody does. It's common to year among "conservative" Catholics the insinuation that "few will."

My take on the proposition that "Personally, I don't think that the majority of people merit eternal damnation."

There are four last things: Death, Judgement, Heaven or Hell. Who are we to judge? How would one even attempt to measure even one person? It seems to me that just the enormity of our very own lives should cause enough awe and fear that we should know instinctively that only God handles this issue. Does the person who presumes a majority go to Heaven even engage in a modicum of self examination? How does one dare speculate at the results?

No Sympathy for the Devil

From the Miami New Times

El Salvador Says No to Satan

It seems the El Salvadorians are not convinced by Jose Louis de Jesus Miranda’s claim he is the second coming of Christ.

Nor are they too happy about him traveling to their central American nation and encouraging folks to tattoo a 666 symbol on their bodies.

So unhappy are they with the 60-year-old, self-proclaimed anti-Christ and his Growing in Faith Ministry, they voted unanimously this past Thursday to make tattooing the mark of the beast illegal.
Jose Louis de Jesus Miranda is a Benny Hinn style fraud that is all the rage nowadays. He says the Catholic Church is a fraud and he claims to be Jesus. He preaches the whole "there is no sin" line common among Protestants.

The things about the tattoo reminded me of something really disturbing which aired on PBS a few weeks ago. It was the Rolling Stones' Rock n' Roll Circus, a concert film from 1967 featuring the Stones, the Who, Jethro Tull, Eric Clapton and John Lennon. The disturbing thing was Mick Jagger when he sang Sympathy for the Devil. He came out of this crouch, removed his shirt and had this big tatoo of Satan on his chest. Viewing that and the filty hippies in the audience really gave me the creeps.

It juxtaposed in a funny way by the breaks to the PBS telethoners, all advancing into their elder years, revelling in the "great music" with smarmy looks on their faces. Creepy. These are the lyrics to the Stones song:

Please allow me to introduce myself, Im a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for a long, long year, Stole many a mans soul and faith
And I was round when jesus christ,
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate,
Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But whats puzzling you Is the nature of my game

I stuck around st. petersburg, When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers,
Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank,
Held a generals rank
When the blitzkrieg raged,
And the bodies stank

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name,
oh yeah
Ah, whats puzzling you Is the nature of my game,
oh yeah

I watched with glee,
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades,
For the gods they made
I shouted out,
Who killed the kennedys?
When after all,
It was you and me

Let me please introduce myself, Im a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours,
Who get killed before they reached bombay

Pleased to meet you, Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But whats puzzling you,
Is the nature of my game,
oh yeah, get down, baby
Pleased to meet you,
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah

But whats confusing you,
Is just the nature of my game

Just as every cop is a criminal, And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me lucifer cause Im in need of some restraint

So if you meet me, Have some courtesy Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse Or Ill lay your soul to waste, um yeah

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Newsflash: Your Day-care Kiddy is an Ill-Mannered, Agressive Brat

More headlines from the world of "What everybody knows but won't say in polite company."

Largest US Child Study Finds Early Child Care Linked to Aggression and Disobedience

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2007 ( - Analysis of the largest, longest running, and most comprehensive study of child care in the United States has found that the more time children spent in center-based care before kindergarten, the more likely their teachers were to report such problem behaviors as "gets in many fights," "disobedient at school," and "argues a lot."

The study confirms research published last year which was undertaken in Canada which found that children in daycare were 17 times more hostile than children raised at home, and almost three times more anxious. The Canadian study also found negative effects on parents.

A 2005 study from England demonstrated that a mother's care was best for toddlers' development, with nursery care linked to "higher levels of aggression." An Australian study published in 2006 confirmed prior research finding that daycare seems to damage babies' brain chemistry and affect their "social and emotional development."

The current study, which appears in the March/April 2007 issue of Child Development, found that children with more experience in child care centers showed in early grades through sixth grade, a greater frequency of what the researchers termed teacher-reported externalizing problem behavior. Teachers reported more frequent problem behaviours such as: child demands a lot of attention; argues a lot; bragging and boasting; cruelty, bullying or meanness to others; destroys things belonging to others; disobedient at school; gets into many fights; lying or cheating; screams a lot.

Continuously, I get crap from people who assert (with a straight face) that children are better off in daycare. Everything from "socialization" i.e. not knowing for sure who their parents are, to "self-esteem" i.e. lack of an internal moral compass, and "enhanced immune system development" as if for 10,000 years human beings had parenting all wrong and then somehow in the 1980s the correct method of biological development was discovered: crowd 30 youngsters in a room with 3 stranger adults so that the immune system will properly develop to an optimal.

That daycare centers, like hospitals, are disease factories is hardly surprising. That the baby boomers and their brain dead Gen-X followers -on champion daycare like it was some sort of altruistic moral stand is even less surprising.

Dead Beat Daddy , Sausage and Mushroom

from the BBC:

Stay-away fathers shamed by pizza

Child support authorities in the US are hoping to track down stay-away fathers who refuse to pay child maintenance by posting their details on pizza boxes

Pizza restaurants in one Ohio county have begun plastering their delivery boxes with posters shaming the 10 "most wanted" absentee fathers.

Three pizzerias have so far signed up to the scheme, which has successfully identified one reluctant debtor.

Cynthia Brown, executive director of the Butler County Child Enforcement Agency, had the idea for the poster delivery while she was ordering pizza herself one night.

"It suddenly dawned on me that most people running from the law don't eat out, they order pizza," she said. (this is somewhat muddled thinking...the deadbeats know who they are.)


Karen Willis, whose restaurant is one of the three distributing the posters, said she had heard no complaints from customers.

"Some customers joke about it and say they're glad they aren't on it. Most seem to think it's a good idea," she said.

But advocates for fathers' rights did criticise the scheme, telling the Associated Press there are many reasons why someone could end up owing child support.

Widespread public shaming could also leave children devastated, said Michael McCormick, of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children.

"Think how children feel to see a parent on a wanted poster and know their friends might see it," he said.

You know what Mike, I don't think so. When Daddy runs out on you, and your family lives on welfare as a result, first of all, you don't even get to eat order out food like pizza. Second of all, you know full well who has caused your grinding poverty. Actually, it feels better when you know that law enforcement is after the man who has made your mother suffer so much. This was the "feel bad for Daddy" syndrome that predominated during the 1970s when my dad left the four of us destitute while he hid in Seattle. Somehow, the government let him hide while we got 10lb blocks of government cheese and a spot in the local housing project.

It's so much better for the moral development of youth to get a confirmation from society about what is right, what is wrong and who is outside of the law. How's that for 1970s values clarification.?

Lithuanian Court Defends Bloggers Against Grave Insult

Bloggers are not journalists, Lithuanian parliament says

An Internet blogger in new EU member state Lithuania vowed Tuesday to fight a parliamentary decision refusing him accreditation on the grounds that he was not a legitimate journalist.

"This decision does not allow me to enjoy the rights and protection other journalists are entitled to," Liutauras Ulevicius, author of the, said.

Parliament rejected his application for accreditation, saying he and other bloggers do not meet the legal definition of a journalist.

"The Media Law describes a journalist as a person who collects, disseminates and provides information to the media, based on a contract with the media, or who is a member of a journalists' union," parliament's education, science and culture committee said.

Not sure why Liutauras Ulevicius is seeking out damaging insinuations, perhaps he has been recently released from the mental hospital or he's a liberal.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Catholic Layman Lays Out the Truth, Gets Backup from Bishop Chaput

Truth: homosexual acts are immoral.

Truth #2: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are immoral.

DENVER, Colorado, March 23, 2007 ( - General Peter Pace deserves respect for saying homosexual acts are immoral, Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said in his column this week in the Denver Catholic Register.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Pace received heavy criticism from the media and homosexual activist groups, as well as some members of Congress, for his comments last week against homosexuality.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Gen. Pace said, "I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts. I do not believe the United States is well-served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way."

The chairman's statement was a simple declaration of traditional morality, Archbishop Chaput said, and one held by a majority of Americans.

"Note that Pace did not say that, "homosexual persons are evil," the Archbishop wrote. "He said that homosexual acts are wrong. And of course he's right. We might question the general's choice to comment in the context he did, but not his content. He simply stated the Western moral tradition. We should respect his courage for saying it."

The Bishop falters somewhat when he cites "a majority of Americans." What even a minority of Americans think do not amount to a pile of dung when compared to the teaching of the Church or to the Natural Law. Such relativistic thinking is patently worthless.

Great Blog: The Curt Jester

A former atheist who after spending forty years in the wilderness finds himself with both astonishment and joy a member of the Catholic Church. This blog presents my hopefully humorous and sometimes serious take on things religious, political, and whatever else crosses my mind.

Back with a Vengence

Yes we're technically still in Lent but I ready to go now. There's a thing called "spiritual dryness" in the spiritual life and I think I was suffering from a bout of blogging dryness. During my two weeks in the desrt I came to realize one thing: without going to Mass, without engaging in some sort of holy reading my life falls to pieces.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Lenten Hiatus

I'm not going cold turkey but I've been lagging a bit in my Faith, so there'll be no posting for a bit.

Instead I'm going to do some things suggested by the site from which I shamelessly snagged the picture. From Fr Finelli's Lent Page:

I suggest the following as a few examples of what one can do to have a fruitful Lent.

  • Spend quality time in prayer. If I have no time set aside for prayer, I will make some. If I have some, I will give a little more.
  • Take time to go to daily Mass. Let Jesus in the Eucharist burn away all that is keeping me from Him.
  • Read the Gospel accounts of our Lord's passion and death.
  • Focus on overcoming at least one sin. Make a concrete decison and resolution.
  • Take advantage of the Sacrament of Penance. Throw yourself into the merciful arms of God the Father.
  • Attend the Stations of the Cross at your local parish.
  • Prepare for Sunday Mass by going over the readings the week before. (see the list below).
  • Do some works for charity. Work in a local soup kitchen, volunteer in your parishes, be part of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.