Facebook Hates Conservatives

 

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Well this will come as little to no surprise to those familiar with the politics of the people who run Facebook:

 

 

Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.

 

Several former Facebook “news curators,” as they were known internally, also told Gizmodo that they were instructed to artificially “inject” selected stories into the trending news module, even if they weren’t popular enough to warrant inclusion—or in some cases weren’t trending at all. The former curators, all of whom worked as contractors, also said they were directed not to include news about Facebook itself in the trending module.

In other words, Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation. Imposing human editorial values onto the lists of topics an algorithm spits out is by no means a bad thing—but it is in stark contrast to the company’s claims that the trending module simply lists “topics that have recently become popular on Facebook.” Continue reading

PopeWatch: Charlemagne Prize

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God loves irony.  On Ascension Thursday last week Pope Francis was awarded the Charlemagne Prize.  Here is the text of his speech:

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Conferral of the Charlemagne Prize

6 May 2016

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

                I offer you a cordial welcome and I thank you for your presence.  I am particularly grateful to Messrs Marcel Philipp, Jürgen Linden, Martin Schulz, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk for their kind words.  I would like to reiterate my intention to offer this prestigious award for Europe.  For ours is not so much a celebration as a moment to express our shared hope for a new and courageous step forward for this beloved continent.

                Creativity, genius and a capacity for rebirth and renewal are part of the soul of Europe.  In the last century, Europe bore witness to humanity that a new beginning was indeed possible.  After years of tragic conflicts, culminating in the most horrific war ever known, there emerged, by God’s grace, something completely new in human history.  The ashes of the ruins could not extinguish the ardent hope and the quest of solidarity that inspired the founders of the European project.  They laid the foundations for a bastion of peace, an edifice made up of states united not by force but by free commitment to the common good and a definitive end to confrontation.  Europe, so long divided, finally found its true self and began to build its house.

                This “family of peoples”,  which has commendably expanded in the meantime, seems of late to feel less at home within the walls of the common home.  At times, those walls themselves have been built in a way varying from the insightful plans left by the original builders.  Their new and exciting desire to create unity seems to be fading; we, the heirs of their dream, are tempted to yield to our own selfish interests and to consider putting up fences here and there.  Nonetheless, I am convinced that resignation and weariness do not belong to the soul of Europe, and that even “our problems can become powerful forces for unity”.

                In addressing the European Parliament, I used the image of Europe as a grandmother.  I noted that there is a growing impression that Europe is weary, aging, no longer fertile and vital, that the great ideals that inspired Europe seem to have lost their appeal.  There is an impression that Europe is declining, that it has lost its ability to be innovative and creative, and that it is more concerned with preserving and dominating spaces than with generating processes of inclusion and change.  There is an impression that Europe is tending to become increasingly “entrenched”, rather than open to initiating new social processes capable of engaging all individuals and groups in the search for new and productive solutions to current problems.  Europe, rather than protecting spaces, is called to be a mother who generates processes (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 223). Continue reading

Our Mother of Victory

The King looked up, and what he saw
Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

One instant in a still light
He saw Our Lady then,
Her dress was soft as western sky,
And she was a queen most womanly—
But she was a queen of men.

Over the iron forest
He saw Our Lady stand,
Her eyes were sad withouten art,
And seven swords were in her heart—
But one was in her hand.

Then the last charge went blindly,
And all too lost for fear:
The Danes closed round, a roaring ring,
And twenty clubs rose o’er the King,
Four Danes hewed at him, halloing,
And Ogier of the Stone and Sling
Drove at him with a spear.

But the Danes were wild with laughter,
And the great spear swung wide,
The point stuck to a straggling tree,
And either host cried suddenly,
As Alfred leapt aside.

Short time had shaggy Ogier
To pull his lance in line—
He knew King Alfred’s axe on high,
He heard it rushing through the sky,

He cowered beneath it with a cry—
It split him to the spine:
And Alfred sprang over him dead,
And blew the battle sign.

Then bursting all and blasting
Came Christendom like death,
Kicked of such catapults of will,
The staves shiver, the barrels spill,
The waggons waver and crash and kill
The waggoners beneath.

Barriers go backwards, banners rend,
Great shields groan like a gong—
Horses like horns of nightmare
Neigh horribly and long.

Horses ramp high and rock and boil
And break their golden reins,
And slide on carnage clamorously,
Down where the bitter blood doth lie,
Where Ogier went on foot to die,
In the old way of the Danes.

“The high tide!” King Alfred cried.
“The high tide and the turn!
As a tide turns on the tall grey seas,
See how they waver in the trees,
How stray their spears, how knock their knees,
How wild their watchfires burn!

“The Mother of God goes over them,
Walking on wind and flame,
And the storm-cloud drifts from city and dale,
And the White Horse stamps in the White Horse Vale,
And we all shall yet drink Christian ale
In the village of our name.

“The Mother of God goes over them,
On dreadful cherubs borne;
And the psalm is roaring above the rune,
And the Cross goes over the sun and moon,
Endeth the battle of Ethandune
With the blowing of a horn.”

GK Chesterton, The Ballad of the White Horse

The Widow at Windsor

The thirty-first in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here , here , herehere, here and here.

Going away the most popular monarch in British history was Queen Victoria who reigned 63 years and seven months over the United Kingdom and the British Empire, being acclaimed Empress of India on May 1, 1876.  To most of her British subjects she became a mother figure, as her reign went on, particularly in the 1880s and 1890s.  After the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert in 1861, shortly after his efforts in toning down a British message to the Lincoln administration during the Trent affair helped avert war between the United States and Great Britain, she put on black mourning which she wore for the remainder of her life.  Her relative isolation after that perhaps added to her air of majesty as she became a symbol of her far flung domains encompassing a quarter of the population of the Earth.

Kipling had a fairly ambivalent attitude to the British monarchy, liking them well enough as human beings, but also recognizing the struggle that had been waged throughout English history to gain liberties.  The role of British monarchs during Kipling’s life time suited Kipling:  they were now out of politics and reigned but did not rule.  Kipling had boundless contempt for almost all politicians, calling them little tin gods on wheels, an expression not original to him but which he dearly loved.  In his Barrack Room Ballads (1892) Kipling inserted a tribute by a common soldier to the Widow of Windsor:

‘Ave you ‘eard o’ the Widow at Windsor
With a hairy gold crown on ‘er ‘ead?
She ‘as ships on the foam — she ‘as millions at ‘ome,
An’ she pays us poor beggars in red.
(Ow, poor beggars in red!)
There’s ‘er nick on the cavalry ‘orses,
There’s ‘er mark on the medical stores —
An’ ‘er troopers you’ll find with a fair wind be’ind
That takes us to various wars.
(Poor beggars! — barbarious wars!)
Then ‘ere’s to the Widow at Windsor,
An’ ‘ere’s to the stores an’ the guns,
The men an’ the ‘orses what makes up the forces
O’ Missis Victorier’s sons.
(Poor beggars! Victorier’s sons!)

Walk wide o’ the Widow at Windsor,
For ‘alf o’ Creation she owns:
We ‘ave bought ‘er the same with the sword an’ the flame,
An’ we’ve salted it down with our bones.
(Poor beggars! — it’s blue with our bones!)
Hands off o’ the sons o’ the Widow,
Hands off o’ the goods in ‘er shop,
For the Kings must come down an’ the Emperors frown
When the Widow at Windsor says “Stop”!
(Poor beggars! — we’re sent to say “Stop”!)
Then ‘ere’s to the Lodge o’ the Widow,
From the Pole to the Tropics it runs —
To the Lodge that we tile with the rank an’ the file,
An’ open in form with the guns.
(Poor beggars! — it’s always they guns!)

We ‘ave ‘eard o’ the Widow at Windsor,
It’s safest to let ‘er alone:
For ‘er sentries we stand by the sea an’ the land
Wherever the bugles are blown.
(Poor beggars! — an’ don’t we get blown!)
Take ‘old o’ the Wings o’ the Mornin’,
An’ flop round the earth till you’re dead;
But you won’t get away from the tune that they play
To the bloomin’ old rag over’ead.
(Poor beggars! — it’s ‘ot over’ead!)
Then ‘ere’s to the sons o’ the Widow,
Wherever, ‘owever they roam.
‘Ere’s all they desire, an’ if they require
A speedy return to their ‘ome.
(Poor beggars! — they’ll never see ‘ome!)        Continue reading

My Bride and Mothers Day

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Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her.

Proverbs 31:28

 

 

My mother loved my bride from their first meeting.  They enjoyed shopping together, and my bride was the daughter she never had. My mother died on Easter Sunday 1984.  She never saw, in this life, her grandchildren.  My bride and I were married for eight years before our twin boys appeared.  We were afraid we were never going to have children.  When they were born, I was 34 and my bride was 33.  After we brought the boys home, my initial thought was:  “What’s next”?  After being married for such a long time as a childless couple, I was concerned that perhaps parenthood would prove a challenge we were ill-prepared to meet.  Fortunately my bride, from the outset, proved herself a superb mother.

Changing endless diapers and making endless bottles of formula she did like a pro, as if her entire life had been preparation for these tasks.  When the toddler stage entered, she was constantly on the go, chasing after two inquisitive little boys who could cover a great deal of distance in a small amount of time.  I helped as much as I could, but the law mines often meant that for large portions of the week my bride was on her own.  This was especially a challenge with Larry as he always ranked among the boldest of spirits.  One morning my bride took the boys to Renfrew Park a few blocks from our home.  Toddler Larry loved that park.  He loved it so much that during the afternoon he slipped from the house and began a toddler trek to the Park.  My bride was frantic until a policeman returned Larry to our house safe and sound to the vast relief of Mom.

The boys were both late talkers and thus my bride began her relationship with various governmental “helping” agencies, who soon decided that something was wrong with both boys.  Well, they were half right:  Larry it turned out was autistic.  He began to speak about the same time as his brother, but he would always speak with difficulty and with a limited range of words.  I was crushed about this initially, alarmed for Larry’s future.  My bride’s optimism never faltered.  She, from their earliest days, began to teach the boys in “Mommy School”, tailoring Larry’s lessons to his abilities.  She continued to do this after our kids began to attend public school, with Mommy School ending with High School.  I largely attribute the academic success of our two other children to my brides’ patient instruction of them as they grew.

Our boys were joined by our baby girl three and a half years after their birth.  Tending the boys while pregnant was often a challenge to my bride, especially on one interesting, that would be the word, day when I came home and was advised that the boys had displayed their artistic skill, by painting on the white walls of their room in poop.  Life was rarely dull for my bride as our kids were growing!  With the advent of our daughter my bride had an inquisitive, and talkative, mini-her, who for the first years of her life often would say what her Mom had said just a few minutes  before, as if the words were thought up by her.  Donnie quickly reacted to this little prodigy by learning a new phrase, “I scared of sister.” Continue reading

In Memory of Mom

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If I were hanged on the highest hill,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose love would follow me still,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose tears would come down to me,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were damned of body and soul,  

I know whose prayers would make me whole,  

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

Rudyard Kipling

 (I post this each Mother’s Day.)

My Mom died on Easter Sunday in 1984, age 48.  Her second bout with breast cancer took her life, she having survived a first round in 1972.  She told me at that time that she asked God to spare her life until her two boys, my brother and I, were settled in life, and so He did.

Mom had fiery red hair and a tempestuous temperament to match.  When she was a child one of her colleagues at school made the mistake of chanting at her “Fox in the bread box, eating all the cheese!”, and Mom clocked her.  Growing up it was a rare day when I didn’t receive at least one slap, which I had always earned, and one hug, which I rarely earned.  Mom always wore her heart on her sleeve and that fact brought excitement to my life while growing up which I greatly enjoyed.

Mom was a talker.  My laconic father said on occasion that Mom did the talking for both of them and I think that was true.  My brother, who had both Mom’s hair and disposition, also liked to talk and so did I.  When the three of us got going it was an interesting melding of three non-stop monologues. Continue reading

Trumpism: National Debt

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Donald Trump let us in on his fiscal policy yesterday.  Apparently it consists of borrowing and debt repudiation if necessary:

After assuring Americans he is not running for president “to make things unstable for the country,” the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, suggested that he might reduce the national debt by persuading creditors to accept something less than full payment.

Asked on Thursday whether the United States needed to pay its debts in full, or whether he could negotiate a partial repayment, Mr. Trump told the cable network CNBC, “I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.”

He added, “And if the economy was good, it was good. So, therefore, you can’t lose.”

Such remarks by a major presidential candidate have no modern precedent. The United States government is able to borrow money at very low interest rates because Treasury securities are regarded as a safe investment, and any cracks in investor confidence have a long history of costing American taxpayers a lot of money.

Experts also described Mr. Trump’s proposal as fanciful, saying there was no reason to think America’s creditors would accept anything less than 100 cents on the dollar, regardless of Mr. Trump’s deal-making prowess. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Mercy Killing

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From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

During his general audience this week in Saint Peter’s Square, Pope Francis announced the cancellation of the remainder of the Holy Year of Mercy, saying that the whole idea was a “complete and utter bust.”

“Let us not forget that God forgives and God forgives always,” Francis said. “But let us never forget that man does not forgive and will never forgive. That is one thing I have learned these past few months.”

Francis continued his statement, saying, “I was convinced that the whole Church, which has much need to receive mercy, would find in this jubilee the joy to rediscover and render fruitful the mercy of God. Boy, was I way off on that one. Way off. What is wrong with you people? Seriously, I considered keeping it going for a couple more months, but it’s clear you’re all too busy on your phones to rediscover and render fruitful the mercy of God. And the answer is no, liking a picture of Mother Theresa with a quote next to it on Instagram does not count as rediscovering anything but your laziness.”

The Jubilee, which was scheduled to end in November, officially ends today after the official closing ceremony, where Pope Francis is scheduled to take back all the graces Catholics received during the Jubilee, and to return them back to God.

 

 

Continue reading

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

 

Something for the weekend.  Take Me Out to the Ballgame.  My secretary’s two young sons have donned their uniforms and begun participating in their baseball league and that caused me to think of what used to be called our National Pass-time.  I have never been a fan of any sports, but my sainted father was, especially baseball.  I can still see him in his easy chair watching one game on TV and listening to another on a transistor radio plugged into his ear.  He was a Cardinal’s fan, which made sense.  His father had given him the middle name Dean after the immortal Cardinal pitcher Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean.

The anthem of baseball, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, was written in 1908 by two Tin Pan Alley composers:  Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer.  Ironically, neither of these worthies had attended a ball game prior to composing the song which became such a part of the game.  The video at the beginning of the post is the original 1908 recording.  Below is one of my favorite renditions: Continue reading

Trump: No Rules

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Chris Cilliza understands how difficult it can be to run against a candidate willing to say or do anything:

 

The best way to explain Trump is through pickup basketball. (Pickup hoops is the best way to explain lots and lots of things in life. I have long maintained that I can tell what kind of person someone is in their life by playing two games of pickup basketball with them.)  In any pickup game, there are usually one or two excellent players — guys who played at some level in college who know the game, know how to get their shots and just make it look easy. Those guys aren’t easy to guard — they’re athletic and good after all — but, if you play against them enough, you can develop a strategy on how best to slow them down. Crowd them. Make them drive. Deny them the ball. Make them work on defense. Whatever. There is a game plan that can be built against them, because while they are good, they are predictably good — they usually do the same good stuff in roughly the same way over and over.

Then there is the one guy who plays super unorthodox. It’s usually someone who is a good athlete but has never played organized hoops in his life. He jumps off his right foot to shoot a right-handed layup. He takes shots from all sorts of weird angles that go in. He passes when he should shoot. He shoots when he should pass. That guy, weirdly, is harder to game-plan for than the predictably excellent guy, because you have no idea what he’s going to do next. He might pull up from 30 feet and shoot. He might try some weird up-and-under layup move. And somehow it works for him in a way it wouldn’t for someone who spent 15 years playing organized basketball. He breaks rules he doesn’t even know exist, even as you are trying to defend him within those rules.

That’s Trump as a candidate. He touts his own unpredictability as an asset, and in the context of a campaign it absolutely is. The likes of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz could never develop a consistent plan of attack against Trump because he was, day in and day out, not only doing and saying things no “normal” candidate would but also changing up what he said and how he said it constantly. Bush always seemed somewhere between bemused and alarmed at Trump during the campaign. Why? Because Bush is the classic example of a pol who wants to know the rules of the game, commit them to memory and then play as hard as he can by them to win. He has no idea what to do with a guy who laughs at the rules and is willing to do whatever it takes to win. Continue reading

PopeWatch: AMORIS LÆTITIA -The Orthodox Reading

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Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa has an article by Dominican theologian Angelo Bellon as to the correct way of reading AMORIS LÆTITIA:

 

 

Instructions for reading the post-synodal exhortation “Amoris Lætitia”

by Angelo Bellon, O.P.

In the exhortatiton “Amoris Lætitia,” the most controversial question is the one concerning communion for the divorced and remarried, which however is never expressly mentioned.

It must be noted that above all in the eighth chapter the language is at times very indefinite and can lend itself to conclusions that are not only different but even conflicting.

So then, precisely with regard to this chapter I would like to present a few general reflections and then take into consideration the most controversial expressions.


GENERAL CRITERIA OF INTERPRETATION

1. The first criterion of interpretation is that of the context in which the exhortation must be read in order to avoid distorting it.

This context was provided by John Paul II in the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor,” in particular at footnote 100:

“The development of the Church’s moral doctrine is similar to that of the doctrine of the faith. The words spoken by John XXIII at the opening of the Second Vatican Council can also be applied to moral doctrine: ‘This certain and unchanging teaching (i.e., Christian doctrine in its completeness), to which the faithful owe obedience, needs to be more deeply understood and set forth in a way adapted to the needs of our time. Indeed, this deposit of the faith, the truths contained in our time-honored teaching, is one thing; the manner in which these truths are set forth (with their meaning preserved intact) is something else’.”

So the hermeneutical principle of interpretation is found here: the documents of the magisterium, including those on moral issues, must be interpreted according to the hermeneutic of continuity and development. And certainly not according to the hermeneutic of discontinuity, rupture, or transformation with respect to the perennial magisterium. Continue reading

The Babe and the Brother

“It was at St. Marys that I met and learned to love the greatest man I’ve ever known. He was the father I needed. He taught me to read and write, and the difference between right and wrong.”

Babe Ruth

George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr. hit his first major league home run one hundred and one years ago.  He would go on to hit 713 more over his career.  Playing for the Boston Red Sox in 1915, he was 20 years old.  He might well at that time have been in a penitentiary but for a life altering event.  Regarded as incorrigible at the age of seven, his parents sent him to The Saint Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a combination orphanage, reformatory and school.  There Ruth came under the tutelage of the most significant man in his life, Brother Matthias Boutlier, the Prefect of Discipline in the school.  A large man who brooked no nonsense from his charges, Brother Mathias was also a kind man.  He channeled the raw, animal energy of Ruth into baseball.  Ruth said he fell in love with the game instantly after seeing Brother Matthias smack a home run.  Throughout his life Ruth spoke of Brother Mathias in terms of veneration and gratitude.

Brother Mathias taught Ruth more important lessons than just baseball.  The Catholicism he was taught at the school, for all his well publicized sins, stayed with him throughout his life.  Both privately and through the Knights of Columbus he was engaged in countless charitable activities.  He lavished money on Saint Mary’s Industrial School for Boys after he became rich through baseball, including buying Brother Mathias two Cadillacs, the second one after the first one was wrecked.  When he wasn’t playing ball or drinking in night clubs, he could usually be found visiting kids in hospitals and orphanages, children having a firm grasp on Ruth’s heart.  When he died at age 53 of cancer in 1948 thousands of kids stood vigil around his hospital.  His funeral mass was held at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, with a crowd of 75,000 gathered outside the filled to capacity mass.  Continue reading

Democrat Picks Democrat to be Campaign Finance Chairman

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Trump Cultists will explain how this is a grand development:

 

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign announced Thursday that Steven Mnuchin, a former partner at Goldman Sachs who has donated to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, will serve as his national finance chairman.

Mnuchin has also worked as an investment professional for Soros Fund Management LLC, a hedge fun management firm run by George Soros, a billionaire Democratic donor who has sent millions to pro-Hillary Clinton PACs this election cycle. Continue reading

Ascension

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

PopeWatch: The Pope and the Donald

 

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If Donald Trump is elected president a TrumpWatch will be joining PopeWatch.  Superficially these men, who obviously have little use for each other, have little in common.  Dig a bit deeper, however, and certain similarities emerge.

1.  Vituperation-Both men have endless names for those who rouse their ire, although the Pope never descends to the vulgarity of Trump.

2.  Facts-Both view facts not as stubborn things, but infinitely malleable tools.

3.  Conspiracy Theories-Both are given to believing and broadcasting conspiracy theories.

4.  Conservatives-Neither of them are conservatives.

5.  Stream-of-consciousness-Both of them make stream-of-consciousness speeches when they depart from texts. Continue reading

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