Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 27th, 2011

Q: Will the Catholic hierarchy budge?

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I’m referring to the conflict discussed in this interesting column by Nicholas Kristof. It begins:

The National Catholic Reporter newspaper put it best: “Just days before Christians celebrated Christmas, Jesus got evicted.”

Yet the person giving Jesus the heave-ho in this case was not a Bethlehem innkeeper. Nor was it an overzealous mayor angering conservatives by pulling down Christmas decorations. Rather, it was a prominent bishop, Thomas Olmsted, stripping St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix of its affiliation with the Roman Catholic diocese.

The hospital’s offense? It had terminated a pregnancy to save the life of the mother. The hospital says the 27-year-old woman, a mother of four children, would almost certainly have died otherwise.

Bishop Olmsted initially excommunicated a nun, Sister Margaret McBride, who had been on the hospital’s ethics committee and had approved of the decision. That seems to have been a failed attempt to bully the hospital into submission, but it refused to cave and continues to employ Sister Margaret. Now the bishop, in effect, is excommunicating the entire hospital — all because it saved a woman’s life.

Make no mistake: This clash of values is a bellwether of a profound disagreement that is playing out at many Catholic hospitals around the country. These hospitals are part of the backbone of American health care, amounting to 15 percent of hospital beds.

Already in Bend, Ore., last year, a bishop ended the church’s official relationship with St. Charles Medical Center for making tubal ligation sterilizations available to women who requested them. And two Catholic hospitals in Texas halted tubal ligations at the insistence of the local bishop in Tyler.

The National Women’s Law Center has just issued a report quoting doctors at Catholic-affiliated hospitals as saying that sometimes they are forced by church doctrine to provide substandard care to women with miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies in ways that can leave the women infertile or even endanger their lives. More clashes are likely as the church hierarchy grows more conservative, and as hospitals and laity grow more impatient with bishops who seem increasingly out of touch.

Catholic hospitals like St. Joseph’s that are evicted by the church continue to operate largely as before. The main consequence is that Mass can no longer be said in the hospital chapel. Thomas C. Fox, the editor of National Catholic Reporter, noted regretfully that a hospital with deep Catholic roots like St. Joseph’s now cannot celebrate Mass, while airport chapels can. Mr. Fox added: “Olmsted’s moral certitude is lifeless, leaving no place for compassionate Christianity.”

To me, this battle illuminates two rival religious approaches, within the Catholic church and any spiritual tradition. One approach focuses upon dogma, sanctity, rules and the punishment of sinners. The other exalts compassion for the needy and mercy for sinners — and, perhaps, above all, inclusiveness.

The thought that keeps nagging at me is this: . . .

Continue reading.

And do you think the hierarchy will budge? I say not. They will go to their graves before they change their minds.

Written by Leisureguy

27 January 2011 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, Religion

Army knew Manning was a problem, proceeded anyway

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I don’t see that Manning is totally to blame here. Nancy Youssef reports for McClatchy:

Investigators have concluded that Army commanders ignored advice not to send to Iraq an Army private who’s now accused of downloading hundreds of thousands of sensitive reports and diplomatic cables that ended up on the WikiLeaks website in the largest single security breach in American history, McClatchy has learned.

Pfc. Bradley Manning’s direct supervisor warned that Manning had thrown chairs at colleagues and shouted at higher ranking soldiers in the year he was stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y., and advised that Manning shouldn’t be sent to Iraq, where his job would entail accessing classified documents through the Defense Department’s computer system.

But superior officers decided to ignore the advice because the unit was short of intelligence analysts and needed Manning’s skills, two military officials familiar with the investigation told McClatchy.

The commanders hoped they could address Manning’s discipline problems in Iraq, the officials told McClatchy, but then never properly monitored him. The result was a “comedy of errors” as one commander after another assumed someone else was addressing Manning’s problems, one official said. Both officials spoke anonymously because they weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation.

Investigators are now considering whether they should recommend disciplinary action against at least three officers in Manning’s chain of command. Investigators must submit their findings to Army Secretary John McHugh by Tuesday.

It’s the second time in just over a year that Army practices have come under intense internal scrutiny after a major security failing. A similar probe after an Army psychiatrist allegedly opened fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009, killing 13, also focused on how superiors failed to take action despite signs that Maj. Nidal Hasan, who’d exchanged e-mails with a radical Yemeni-American cleric, was seriously disaffected and might turn violent.

That probe, which the Pentagon has yet to make public, resulted in 47 recommendations for changes in Army procedures, including . . .

Continue reading. It’s really pretty bad.

Written by Leisureguy

27 January 2011 at 5:52 pm

Lamb Shanks Beatrice

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This recipe (from In A Copper Kettle, a cookbook prepared by a restaurant in Aspen) has been a long-time favorite. I’m not sure whether the crushed red pepper is original or a later addition by me. When you buy lamb shanks, the bone is normally “cracked” (sawed through). This makes them easier to handle in the pot. If they’re not cracked, I suggest you request that it be done.

Lamb Shanks Beatrice

• 4 lamb shanks, trimmed of fat and dredged generously in seasoned flour
• 4 slices bacon, the more flavorful the better; or, instead of bacon, 2 Tbs olive oil
• 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 1/2 ccup chopped parsley
• 2 medium onions, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic minced
• juice of 1-2 lemons
• 2-3 anchovy fillet [optional: deepens the taste]
• 2 teaspoons Worcestershire
• 1 tablespoon horseradish
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
• 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
• 1 cup dry red wine (California burgundy)
• 8 ounces (or more) fresh mushrooms [I’ve used shiitake, domestic, crimini, and Portobello—all are excellent.]

If you’re using bacon, chop bacon, render it in large pot, remove. Brown lamb shanks in bacon fat (or, in olive oil). Add all ingredients. Simmer covered for 2.5-3.5 hours—until the meat falls off the bone. Alternately, you can put the pot, covered, in a 300-degree oven and leave it for 3.5-4.5 hours.

I use more mushrooms than the recipe calls for, and sometimes more bacon. Be sure the trim the lamb shanks well—cut off all visible fat and remove the membrane covering the muscle sheath. (A boning knife like the Victorinox 6″ Flexible Boning Knife with Fibrox handle (about $17) is ideal for this task.) Even with this trimming, fat will collect on the surface, so after a couple of hours, I start skimming off the fat. You could also refrigerate the completed dish overnight and lift off the solidified fat in the morning.

If the gravy is not thick enough, mix some flour and cold water into a thin paste, then stir in and cook a bit longer to thicken. The gravy should be neither watery nor too thick—make it the right consistency to soak up with good French bread. Or serve over orzo or egg noodles.

Written by Leisureguy

27 January 2011 at 3:18 pm

“KGB Tactics Being Used On PFC Bradley Manning Are Obscenely Un-American & Unconstitutional!”

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Written by Leisureguy

27 January 2011 at 12:57 pm

Excellent column on guns

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Read the whole thing. Here’s the conclusion:

In Hollywood films, shootouts are carefully choreographed. Villains can’t shoot; heroes rarely miss. Nobody panics. Melodramatic violence metes out justice and redeems the world.

In reality, as Americans seem fated to experience again and again without learning anything, a gunman walks into a Detroit police station and shoots four cops before himself being killed.

Two cops serving a warrant in St. Petersburg, Fla., are killed and a U.S. marshal wounded by a suspect who escapes.

Two sheriff’s deputies are shot at a Wal-Mart near Seattle before a third officer kills their assailant, whose motives remain unknown.

A policeman in Waldport, Ore., is shot by an unknown assailant during a routine traffic stop. He remains in critical condition.

At another routine stop, an Indianapolis cop is shot four times, twice in the face. He’s in critical condition too.

All of these events occurred within 24 hours between Jan. 23 and 24.

It’s worth emphasizing that the 11 victims were trained, experienced law enforcement officers. But their assailants, who’d found semi-automatic weapons easier to acquire than whiskey, gave them no chance.

Meanwhile, NRA fundamentalists pretend that America will be a freer, safer place if more poorly trained, inexperienced, unfit, would-be Bruce Willis heroes were waddling around shopping malls carrying pistols.

There’s a word for people who cling to absurd beliefs against massive evidence. They’re called cultists, and they’re currently in charge.

Written by Leisureguy

27 January 2011 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Good haggis column

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The Wife and The Son might find this column of interest. It begins:

Who’s afraid of the big bad haggis? Well, plenty of people, even if it is the national dish of Scotland. One of the earliest gross-out foods I can remember kids squealing about, it’s usually described as a boiled bag of sheep guts, but its charms are greater than even that. Every year on Jan. 25, Scots and their friends — haggis lovers and those-who-will-go-hungry — sit down to suppers honoring the poet Rabbit Buns, who, if you are not familiar with the utterly charming and sometimes-indecipherable Scottish accent, is also known as Robert Burns. At these suppers, revelers eat a proper haggis, recite lines of verse, drink drams of Scotch, and watch "Braveheart" again. (Just kidding about the last thing, people! OK, mostly kidding.)

So, anyway, haggis is a sheep’s stomach filled with miscellaneous sheep parts — heart, lungs, you get the picture. Stuff my Scottish friend Pam refers to as "the hearty meat," and I don’t think that’s a pun. Americans have not, for decades, been very big on organ meats, and so even though I grew up with liver and tongue and would eat tripe and spleen till the cows came home (to reclaim them?), for me, there’s still some vestige of childhood blech that follows haggis around.

It might be — if I may demonstrate a prejudice — because Scottish cuisine rarely inspires, though I’ve actually had the privilege of being in Scotland and had an unforgettable culinary experience. It was this: I walked into a fish and chips shop. I looked at the large pile of chips (which we would call fries, of course). Then I looked next to them, at the filets of battered and fried fish. Then next to them, sat two discs of battered and fried … something. A small flag on a toothpick identified them. One read "hamburger." The other, "cheeseburger." Next to that, an oblong object: "Hot dog." Then, a smaller oblong object: "Mars bar." And finally, inconceivably, unbelievably: a large disc, the size of a Frisbee. "Pizza."

They battered and deep fried a pizza.

Then again, this is a land where piles of fries are sometimes referred to as "Glasgow salad," and when I told my Scottish friend Pam about my chip shop discovery, she mentioned something about being served that at school lunch. Somewhere, Jamie Oliver is crying hot tears. (Maybe he’d feel better if he heard her say it, with her lovely, soft, indistinguishable vowels: "the peetsa en er skewl.") . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 January 2011 at 10:59 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

Miss Megs resting up

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Megs has had a restful January, and now she’s looking forward to February.

Written by Leisureguy

27 January 2011 at 10:47 am

Posted in Cats, Megs

Simpson PJ2 Super—and Special 218

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This is the Simpson’s PJ2 Super that had the loose bristle. All better now, as you see. It worked up a superb lather from QED’s Special 218, the Feather (razor and blade) smoothly removed it, and a splash of aftershave makes me good to go.

Written by Leisureguy

27 January 2011 at 10:45 am

Posted in Shaving

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