Friday, September 30, 2005

Adult stem cells restore feeling to paralyzed woman

Apparent major breakthrough with patient paralyzed 19 years

Can you imagine if this had been embryonic stem cell that had done this? There would be shouting from every major newspaper in the country.

Serenity review from the flick filosopher

The Flick Filosopher, Mary Ann Johanson, weighs in on Serenity. Dang do I want to see this movie? You bet! Can't do it today, can't do it tomorrow. Sunday maybe.

Serenity now

Opening day. Creator Joss Whedon cheers on the troops.
Well boys and girls and boys dressed as girls and girls dressed as Kaylee, the time is almost upon us. This Friday we take that old rust-bucket out of the shipyard and see if she can breach atmo. It's been a long (to paraphrase a band I like) strange trip, and it'll be nice finally to show everybody what it is we've been tinkering with all this time. You already know you have my thanks, from the hardcore fans to the softcore... fans.... let me try that again. From the people manning the booths, buying DVD sets for their friends, getting banners seen everywhere on Australian TV, raffling artwork for ticketholders (Adam Hughes, take a bow), to the most casual fan who just wants to see the flick and won't ever even read this. You guys are the fuel in the engine, the Fire in the Fly, the weird green stuff coming out of Serenity's butt. (Hmmm. Forget that last one. I'm a little bit out of control here.)

Everyone needs something to keep them going. Mal has his ship. Zoe has her integrity. Jayne has Vera. And I've got you guys.

So what now? There have been so many posts about seeing it, seeing it again, the first weekend, the second weekend, being enthusiastic without being obnoxious (and yes, it IS hard to see over the pom-pom of a Jayne hat), buying tickets in advance, making a noise... I honestly wouldn't know what to add. I can tell you this: the movie will play in about 2200 hundred theaters, which is a good number. Too many, and you get empty theaters with no energy -- not enough, and you get, well, not enough. It may be hard to find in some areas but it'll be out there. Leave no multiplex unturned! This is going to be a ground war, peeps -- we have to hold the valley for a long while. However it opens, it needs to HOLD. Instead of the Alliance we'll be fighting viewer apathy, fear of something new, the urge to wait for DVD, and Jessica Alba in a bikini. (Although I have it on good authority that she spends 90% of the film in a huge wooly parka. Make sure that gets out.)

The day this puppy opens, I'll be seeing it with my family (don't worry, there's a lot of them, and they're all paying) and then I'm off to Europe to learn the word 'Browncoats' in nine different languages -- 'cause like I said, it's all about holding. I'll never be far from a computer, though, so I can check in with y'all. Thanks for every damn thing.

And remember, amidst all the urgency to make this an event, all the work and the worry, to take two hours and just enjoy yourself. That is, after all, what all this fighting's about.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Han Solo ... er... Captain Tight Pants

Serenity the movie opens this weekend nationwide. This is a long-anticipated event for Joss Whedon fans.

Imagine if Han Solo had a larger crew than just Chewbacca, and if we got to see the Millenium Falcon as an off-the-radar smuggling ship before Han and Chewie got entangled up with the Empire. That's what you get with the Firefly class ship Serenity as it plies its trade both legal and illegal under the radar of the ever-present Alliance.

Go see Serenity this weekend. It is a direct descendant of Firefly, one of the best tv shows you never watched. See Captain Mal Reynolds and his crew of rogues and exiles tangle with the Alliance in this first big-screen offering. Let's hope it's not the last.

Although I'm a big fan of Whedon's television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, I didn't watch Firefly when it first hit the air -- I wanted more from the Buffyverse, not a "western in space" with nary a vampire to be seen. Like many folks, I came to love Firefly when I bought the DVDs. DVD sales and response were so great that it got Whedon the support he needed to try it on the big screen. Serenity is the product. The trailers look good, they capture the essence of the show:

Mal (Nathan Fillion): “This is your captain. We might experience some slight turbulence ... and then explosion.”
Jayne (Adam Baldwin): “I don’t wanna explode!”

Mal (with macho bravado): Do you want to run this ship?
Jayne: Yes!
Mal (confused): Well... you can't.
Hoban 'Wash' Washburn (Alan Tudyk): This is gonna get pretty interesting.

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Define "interesting".

Hoban 'Wash' Washburn: Oh, God, oh, God, we're all gonna die.


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Fr. Alberione Saturday

No one can exhort others unless he shows them an example first. Therefore, each one of us must ask the grace of genuine holiness in our private, domestic, professional, social life.
To neglect prayer in order to do more work is a ruinous expedient. Work done to the detriment of prayer gains nothing for ourselves or others.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Ah, Narnia!

NarniaWeb interviewed Douglas Gresham, C.S. Lewis' step-son who has been heavily involved in the creation of the upcoming (and much anticipated) live-action version of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Here is a winsome exchange:
NarniaWeb: How much time did you get to spend in New Zealand?

Douglas Gresham: I made three or four trips out there last year spending a total of probably about four or five very enjoyable weeks in all. It’s a bit hard to remember exactly as the time seemed to go past very quickly while I was there, but when I got home after spending a week or so in Narnia, it seemed as if I had been away for ages and yet no time had passed. I suppose I should have expected that.
Thanks to Bill Bader for the tip.

Read the rest of it here.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Face the Truth or face the grandchildren

Today Delaware Right to Life is holding their monthly Face the Truth demonstration outside the Planned Parenthood building right on Delaware Avenue in Newark, three blocks from the University. I try to make every one of those demonstrations so I can hold a poster and flash the peace sign at everyone who goes by. Sometimes people I know will wave, sometimes I'll see them see me and quickly look away. Newark is a small university city.

So I looked forward to being out there again today. But then I found out that my granddaughter Ruth's first soccer game was taking place at the same time. So I'm off to soccer. One thing I regret is that I didn't attend each and every sports event of my own children. I had a lot of excuses, especially having so many little ones I was caring for. But looking back, I wish very much that I had.

So my grandchildren will benefit. And today I will not try to save the world but enjoy my family.

Friday, September 16, 2005

re-criminalize abortion?

Catholic Scholars' debate on the re-criminalization of abortion held last night at the University of Delaware went well. Kate Rogers acquitted herself very nicely against Eileen McDonagh who argued that if a woman does not consent to pregnancy she has a right to take lethal force against the fetus who is "hijacking" her body and forcing it to undergo serious harm including the growing of a new organ (the placenta).

I was happy to see this argument aired and I hope that it will continue to be promulgated. It lays the true pro-choice position out on the table by conceding the personhood of the fetus and making a woman's consent to pregnancy of paramount importance. McDonagh actually said that rape was the lesser harm done to women because violation of her personal integrity by a rapist was of a much shorter duration than the nine-month violation done by a fetus when it imposes pregnancy on a non-consenting woman.

When truth is aired then those who seek truth sincerely have fewer obstacles to finding it than when facts are obscured, as with the right to privacy argument. Kids who hear it plainly admitted that the fetus is a person have a much easier time figuring out the morality of using lethal force against that invading person.

Kate did a bang-up job refuting the position. Mitchell Hall was filled. The News Journal sent a reporter. Being part of the Interdisciplinary Ethic Committee's Great Debate series gave this debate a higher visibility than the two that Catholic Scholars organized alone.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sunday morning

"Relax and get refreshed," I told harried colleagues on Friday afternoon. For the denizens of academe, the weekend in early September is a cold bottle of Coca-Cola on a porch stoop after a serious game of freeze tag.

We'uns in our fifties remember frosty bottles of Coke.

By the second week of the semester, the excitement of a Fresh, New Semester begins to dampen. The physical stress stemming from not just the onslaught of all those bright young faces but also from the rude transition from Summertime when the living is easy to responsible Fall has taken its toll.

We need a weekend, whether that means getting a head start on the grading of papers like my husband Bill or loafing with a good book like me.

And where is my divine Friend? Fiddling with the innards of creation, plying his watchmaker trade while I loaf and get not less stressed out but more. Loafing segues into anxiety if you don't know when to stop.

So I stop now, and greet my Friend. Let's play. It is the day of rest.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Fr. Alberione Saturday

Not everything is evil. But having red, black or green glasses, one interprets things as red, black or green. Green glasses signify envy; black glasses, the suspicion of evil; and red glasses, irritableness over everything that happens, a tendency to interpret everything negatively.

10 things learned

Go over to Varifrank's blog and read his
10 Things I learned From Hurricane Katrina.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

How food became family. Oh, and a Katrina story also...

A lighter story of Katrina, this from Sister Anne of the Daughters of St. Paul.
My own extended family is safe, with the exception of a cousin in Bay St. Louis, MS, whom we have still not heard from. For the first time in his life, my Dad (age 75) evacuated for a hurricane. He and Mom were picked up by my brother Thomas at midnight last Sunday morning, and by 5:00 had arrived at Thomas’ in-laws in Monroe (far north Louisiana). They were followed in a kind of caravan by my two single sisters, Jane and Nell, with their respective pets. All together, the three vehicles contained two men, four women, one child (Thomas’ 17-month-old daughter Kate), FIVE dogs (four of them quite large) and three cats. (These would be joined on Thursday by another woman (my niece Erin), two dachshunds, another cat or two and a rat named Charley, but that is a story in itself...

Oh, and you want to know about Charley, the rat. Charley is
Erin’s pet, only he didn’t start out as a pet. Erin has two
pet snakes (ball pythons) and the rat was lunch. Only this rat
didn’t take kindly to the idea, and bit the snake into whose
cage he was dropped. My niece grabbed the rat and plopped it
in a handy cage (this is a girl who works at a veterinary
hospital, mind you), then took her snake to the vet for a shot
and to get its wound irrigated. When she got home, she
wondered what to do with the rat. Try to feed it to the snake
again? But her mother told her, “The thing is in a cage. It is
now a pet. It earned its freedom.” So, Charley (as in
Algernon) is a free rat. Except for the cage. "

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Canticle of New Orleans

A prayer of loss and blessing, from Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry, Director of Pauline Cooperators in the US and a native of New Orleans.

Canticle of New Orleans

By Margaret Charles Kerry, fsp

Waters of the earth, bless your Maker.
be kind to the people who need you to quench their thirst.
Hold back your raging destruction of flood and overflowing banks.
Be kind to the city that sings about you in legend,
that travels over you to unknown places.
Unite people - do not disperse them.
Waters of the earth, bless the Lord!

Winds of sky, bless your Maker.
Keep cool breezes flowing over the people of God.
Keep away disease and danger by your healing movement.
Hold back your anger in storm and destructive power in tornado.
Be kind to the city that knows when you caress the land
and keep the heat from overtaking the plants and livestock.
Remind people of God's care.
Winds of the sky, bless the Lord!

City of humanity, bless your Maker.
Keep your people safe who have built you.
Allow them to write music, sing, play and dance
in praise of God-given life.
Keep those in leadership from misusing what is gifted
by the unity of men and women, children and family.
Be kind to the City that brings happiness to so many.
Be kind to her history that tells the human story.
May the city be a city on a hill that shines God's light.
May your music, dance, and food be a foretaste
of the eternal banquet.
City of humanity, bless the Lord!

People of God, bless your Maker.
Keep hope in your hearts in time of distress.
Give hope to those around you
and know that you are loved
by those who worry about you
in your distress.
Reach out to those who are near.
Reach from afar in times of trouble –
reach in prayer if you can't reach physically.
Let us ask forgiveness when our response to trouble
seems slow and unthoughtful.
Open your hearts to those who are vulnerable.
People of God, bless the Lord!

People of New Orleans, bless your Maker.
Know that you are loved.
Know that the rain, wind and water that bless the city
and surround it as a hug outside of times like this
will return to their banks and sky.
Your hope is our hope. May we share what we have
with you as you share your faith with us.
We reach you in prayer even as we long to reach
you with a helping hand and pluck you from distress.
We share in your distress and hold in our hearts
your pain and sorrow. May God renew you!
People of New Orleans, bless the Lord!

“This poem came from the depths of my own struggle with the tragedy in New Orleans my home city. I too am still looking for lost family friends, friends from Chapelle Highschool (our 30th anniversary was going to be celebrated this September 10th at the Yacht Club), and people with whom I worked in ministry.

“Our history as a people has created a culture of blessing. Music that wafted in our streets was made from the stuff of deep joy and overbearing sorrow. In our joy we bless, in our tears we bless, in our loss we bless. In our lives we now hope to bless one another.

“My parents lost their house of 30 years last year in Hurricane Ivan. They lost the family Bible, and heirlooms handed on to them that they would have handed on to grandchildren, friends and neighbors. The large six-foot statue of the Sacred Heart in our house, left to our family by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in New Orleans, was smashed. But there in the rubble was the heart from that statue. There was the sign of hope that God's love does not abandon us. Their life now centers on people who have suffered more than they have, the people in nursing homes, those who are abandoned and homeless, those without hope. And this faith that has been passed on to me was nourished by the people of New Orleans. The heart that is now enshrined in my parents’ temporary home is a sign that ‘Deep waters cannot quench love’ (Sg 8:7). This is the heart that now beats inside of all of us for those who are suffering from Hurricane Katrina.”

Margaret Charles Kerry, FSP, is a native of New Orleans and a Daughter of St. Paul. She can be reached at Website:; BLOG:

Copyright © 2005, Daughters of St. Paul. Reprinted with permission.

Permission is granted for the free reproduction of the Canticle of New Orleans in newspapers, magazines, bulletins, websites, or in photocopied format, provided that the entire Canticle and the author byline and credit is printed with the Canticle.

Katrina response timeline

A guy named Rick Moran has created a timeline of response to Hurricane Katrina
culled from the New Orleans Times-Pikayune. Moran is a conservative but the timeline doesn't seem to be politicized or a Bush apologetic.

SF/fantasy/gamers fandom relief effort

SF writer Mercedes Lackey and her husband artist/writer Larry Dixon
are organizing a relief effort for helping the fantasy, scifi, and roleplaying games fans hit by Katrina. Placement for displaced-by-Katrina persons seems to be their main goal.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Left Behind

This is for my daughter Reetie. One opinion on what happened. From the Washington Post.

Why the chaos in New Orleans.

Katrina: the anti-9/11

David Brooks opines.

I like.

You can help even if you are far away

A plea to centralize all hurricane emergency support resources

Pleas for help, is someone checking?

I have been making phone calls to the coast guard and people who are reporting stranded New Orleans folks who are still trapped. They take the information and put it in a database from which rescuers are working (in theory). The pleas for rescue with locations and situations are still coming in.
Telephone numbers for rescue
11:49 pm Saturday September 03 2005

Story: If someone is lost or trapped - call the coastguard:

225 925 7708
225 925 7709
225 925 3511

225 925 7412

314 539 3900 - press 0 for operator

314 539 2276 - press 0 for operator

314 539 2279 - press 0 for operator

1 800 742 8519

IN LOUISIANA, Louisiana State Police:

(225) 922-0325
(225) 922-0332
(225) 922-0333
(225) 922-0334
(225) 922-0335
(225) 922-0341
(225) 925-7398

IN MISSISSIPPI, Call the State EOC at (601) 360-0054

To inquire about family and friends that did not evacuate the Greater New Orleans area contact the American Red Cross at the following number:
(866) 438-4636

Still many survivors unrescued

Help rescue folks locate survivors

Specific pleas, phone calls and locations.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Blogging from New Orleans

A live journal from the heart of Katrina devastation.

In the Selma, Alabama library I discovered a new poet

From Mary Carter Smith's book of poetry, Heart to Heart:
Prayer for My Love

May your nights be filled with sleeplessness
May your days be filled with woe
May you only know utter misery
Wherever you chance to go
I pray that your every moment
A waking nightmare shall be
Until you cease your wanderings
And come back home to me

About her

Back to basics

I've put my blog togs on again. I must be getting over my bitterness. Deo gratias!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Shock sets in

The U.S. just was not prepared to handle a disaster of Katrina's magnitude.

I really wonder, if the hurricane had hit New Orleans directly and the city had not thought it had escaped the worst of it, would the response have been quicker and more efficient?


Fr. Alberione Friday

This one is like the rules of Fight Club. It's about making the eucharistic Visit, which is one of the linchpins of Pauline devotion:
The ways of making the eucharistic Visit are many. Because it is easy at times to put it off, the first way is determination to make it. The second way is the same. And the third, likewise: to make it.

As St. Francis de Sales says: if you ask me how to walk, I must reply, first move one foot, then the other, and then the first again, etc.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Fr. Alberione Thursday

To discover the will of God is both a simple and a complicated matter, both clear and obscure, both sad and joyful, both ordinary and extraordinary, depending on the individual case. Therefore, neither a casual attitude nor exasperation, nor tormented uncertainty is called for. But prudence, examen, prayer, counsel, and decisions in faith.

Where there is innocence and the right environment, the divine voice often manifests itself soon after the age of reason (i.e. seven years old -- Rae).