Before I rant, please watch this video. Try hard to watch the whole thing. If you can’t, I understand and think that you will agree with me for the most part. If you think it’s right on, then maybe you should stop reading now if  you can’t handle another opinion.

Video Royce Mann, Age 14

Are you back? OK, my reaction. Go to your “safe space” if you need to.

I’m sorry, kid. I am sorry that a bunch of adults have taught you not to value anything you accomplish in life through the sweat of your brow and work of your own creativity and intellect because you were born a white male.

You didn’t choose to be a white, middle class kid. Just like I didn’t choose to be a white, middle class woman. I don’t feel guilty about something that was an accident of fate (or destiny, whatever you want to call it).

Is there inequality in the world? Yes

Do people get judged because of their age/skin color/looks/speech pattern etc? Yes

Are people who form an opinion of you based solely on something you have nothing to do with complete idiots? Yes

Ignore them. EVERYONE face some form of discrimination at some point. One day, when you are a white, middle class young man with a shiny new degree, you will go on job interviews. And somewhere, a company is going to make a decision to hire a minority because they have a quota. You will be discriminated against.

What do you do about it? Fight it, if you can. Move on, if you can’t. Fight injustice where you find it. When you see an idiot treating your black friend badly, speak up. When you see a college frat boy treating a women like an object, or worse, speak up. If he is attempting to rape her, punch him below the belt.

Take your position of “privilege” and give a hand up, donate money to a scholarship, hire and train people, become a teacher.

Don’t feel that the degrees and creations you brought into the world are only there because you had white privilege. Don’t buy into what Obama said, you DID build that. With your mind and your will and your reason.

And about those women you are apologizing to because they spend “an hour putting on make up to meet other people’s standards”? You don’t tell them to do that, they choose to do that. And you aren’t responsible for them. When you meet a girl you like, tell her that you like her for what she is inside, not her hair and makeup. Women like to be treated like real people because that’s what they are.

Did you know that white people can be born at the bottom of the ladder, and find it just as hard to climb as any minority?

And yes, you still have a dirty mouth, I’ve heard every color of person use that word and it always sounds ignorant.

So, I’m sorry that you are starting out your teen years feeling guilty for something you have no control over. And maybe one day, when you find that the quotas won’t let you get hired or the salary in your company is capped because you just make too much money, you’ll realize that you’ve been fed a pack of lies. But it will be too late, because your paycheck will be going to pay for free college tuition for other people.

Don’t life your life for other people, give a hand up and fight injustice. But don’t do it out of guilt.

 

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I have a confession to make. Though I am a Catholic, I am also a Libertarian. This is a conflict with regards to the whole issue of gay marriage.

As Catholics go, I’m not very good at it. I don’t go to Mass or Reconciliation as often as I should. There are some viewpoints the Church holds with which I disagree. I don’t have a problem with the priesthood being for men only, I understand why that is so and I don’t feel that the role of women is diminished in any way because they can’t serve in persona Christi. I feel that the Church did not respond well to the sex abuse scandal but that they have come very far to right that wrong. I think that marriage in the eyes of God is that between a man and a woman.

I don’t agree that letting two men get married is going to destroy the institution of marriage.

What is a Libertarian, exactly? Here are a few good quotations that will help answer that.

“As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives, and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others. We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized. Consequently, we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.” – from the Preamble to the Libertarian Party Platform
“Libertarians believe in individual liberty, personal responsibility and freedom from government – on all issues at all times… A libertarian is someone who thinks you should be free to live your life as you want to live it, not as [the President of the United States] thinks you should – who believes you should raise your children by your values, not those of some far-off bureaucrat who’s using your child as a pawn to create some brave new world – who thinks that, because you’re the one who gets up every day and goes to work, you should be free to keep every dollar you earn, to spend it, save it, give it away as you think best.”Harry Browne (1933-2006);1996 and 2000 Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate and author of Liberty A-Z: 872 Libertarian Soundbites You Can Use Right Now! 

So I have no issue if the government, insurance company or state wants to recognize that two people who both happen to be male (or female) want to enter into a contract where all their worldly goods are combined. That means they get taxed like a married couple, have to go through all the normal legal paperwork involved in being a couple and go through divorce proceedings like everyone else. The government’s role should be strictly limited, but I can see the value of a government having some record that these two women (or men) have both agreed to the deal and all that it entails. I don’t see why the tax system needs to differentiate, why not just all file individually at a flat rate?

Divorce lawyers are probably planning how to spend all those bonus fees, now another segment of the population can get married and then divorced. On a side note, I would be interested to see the divorce rate among homosexual couples vs heterosexual couples 5 years from now.
But this is a two way street, as I have said before. Gay couples can now live the way they choose so now they have to let others do the same. This means that people can object to the marriage and refuse to condone it by participating.

Yes, that means that bakers and wedding planners should be allowed to say no to a gay couple. Maybe people don’t realize it, but privately held businesses say no to customers all the time. Maybe it’s because they are asking for something that can’t be done or sometimes the business says no because the customer is being rude. I’ve worked in retail environments where I said no because I knew that the person’s request was impossible. I suggested alternatives, even going so far as to refer them to someone else. The bakers and wedding planners can do the same. “I’m sorry, but I don’t work with those kind of events, let me refer you to Baker #2 who will be happy to help you.”

Now, capitalism will rule here. People will either shun or flock to a business that posts this policy. But that is their choice again. I know people who never eat at Chik-Fil-A or shop at Hobby Lobby and I know people who go out of their way to patronize those places. I know people who go where the food is good and the prices are right and don’t give a damn about politics. So the baker or wedding planner my lose money but they should be subjected to a lawsuit. If the discrimination reaches the levels of the Jim Crow laws, government should step in. We don’t need to repeat that. But I don’t think we’re there. The hate isn’t institutionalized to the point where we have signs the say “Straights Only” on the water fountains.

Churches should not be forced to perform the ceremony if it violates their beliefs. Why would a gay couple want to be married in a church that does not reflect any of their values? Catholics get the bad rap on this one, but that is not the only church which is against performing same sex couple marriage ceremonies.

Freedom for everyone! Including the ones who don’t believe whatever the media says is right and wrong.

I fear that ruling is going to create a whole host of lawsuits from the minority militant group who want to “create some brave new world” (Harry Browne) where only one view is tolerated. Already people who disagree with this ruling are keeping silent rather than be seen as a bigot.

I think the world is improved anytime two people can find the person they love and get to live their lives with them. We don’t need to see more of people acting out of hate. But we achieve that by realizing that there are multiple viewpoints and sometimes you just need to agree to disagree.
It is wrong to deny housing, a job, equal opportunities for education, loans, or access to medical care to any person. All humans deserve to treated with dignity, but a baker can politely decline to do business without removing that dignity.

We all live in our own little world and sometimes it takes a trip abroad to see that a thing that the media is obsessed about is not even mentioned in another country.

I was in England recently while the third leg of the Triple Crown was run. When American Pharoah won the race, becoming the first horse to win all three legs since Secretariat in 1978 it didn’t even make the news in Britain. They were talking about the FIFA controversy and who won the soccer games. Mostly it was about FIFA.

While America was all in a tizzy about the NAACP leader in Washington being black or white, that never got reported in the UK at all. BTW, that is a whole blog in itself. The big concern over there had to deal with Muslims and how Sharia law interacted with British law and women’s rights issues.

The Chicago Blackhawks weren’t even considered worth mentioning, which did not surprise me.

I was surprised the Triple Crown didn’t even get a mention, it’s a fairly difficult accomplishment. I spoke to someone who was and is involved in the world of horse racing and he was at a track that day. They were all watching the Belmont stakes and cared about it.

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There was only one brief mention of Joe Biden’s son who died, and another about yet another case of white cop vs black teenager.

It’s almost as if they don’t care what happens to us in the good ole US of A.

Some shows are the same, they have the cheerful morning shows, which look almost exactly like ours. The usual segments are there, cooking, cute kids, funny stories. They even did that annoying thing where they read the headlines in all the big newspapers. That’s like reporting on other people’s reporting. Let someone else do the heavy work and you just read their work, almost like letting the smart kid write your paper for you.

There was a show with the English equivalent of Barbara Walters who asked “tough questions”. The best one was when she was interviewing a woman who had been acquitted twice of killing her roommate’s boyfriend after he had repeatedly attacked, beaten, raped and threatened both of them. When he attacked her, having already beaten the friend, she killed him by stabbing him 18 times. I may have mis-remembered some details there, but the gist is the same. She stabbed him numerous times.

So the tough questions was along the lines of why did you have to stab him so many times? Really? She was a slight, petite woman going up against a guy who had already demonstrated his intent, and probably outweighed her by 50 pounds at least. Maybe it took that many stabs to make sure he stayed down. I’m guessing this talk show host had never been in that situation. I am fortunate enough never to have been there, but I can imagine pure instinct to survive was driving the poor woman.

I also saw a few silly game shows which I’m sure will make it over here eventually. There was a lot of those. So the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Stay tuned for more comparisons!

Crossed Flags American and Union Jack Vinyl Decal

Image from: http://www.steadfastcycles.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=444

I’m just busy. The month of May is full of many amazing events.

First, my teenager is graduating 8th grade. Soon I will have a High School Boy. I think that deserves capital letters. So that means we have field trips and projects and events at school.

Most of these events are just there to remind parents of two things. Your kid is growing up and you are getting older. And they make you cry. But I cry way too easily anyway so I’m a basket case before all this starts.

One really beautiful event (filled with much crying from all sides) is May Crowning. May is the month dedicated to the Virgin Mary so every year the outgoing 8th graders hold a Mass to honor her and present flowers. They all wear their graduation gowns and they all present gifts to their moms who are weeping in the audience.

Then we go have a nice brunch and talk about how wonderful our children are, forgetting all the sleepless nights, medical emergencies, tantrums over times tables and the chaos that is life. It makes me thankful I only have one child.

Compared to Mary herself, our work seems very minor of course. I’ll take my troubles over hers any day.

Then there is a graduation ceremony and a dance where they do the slide show of the last 8 years of your life. It’s like “This is your life!” as a group presentation.

Of course, all the other events are happening also like work, school, appointments and laundry.

So, there was stitching. I went to Ohio.
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I went to a stitching retreat dedicated to Mirabilia, I do a lot of her designs. We got to meet the lady herself. I told her that Roses of Provence reminded me of an Arthur Rackham drawing and learned that she loves his work too, he inspired some of her fairy tale pieces. So cool! We chatted, ate, shopped, compared fabric and stichy gadgets. I learned some great hints to help with my QSnaps. And we stitched a little too.

I’m already ready to go next year, where my Rosie will be up on the wall. (fingers crossed)

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That piece over my shoulder is Rosie, stitched by someone else. Mine is still a WIP.

IMG_0944Here are more finished pieces.

IMG_0951 IMG_0952And we saw these things on the drive.

Have you ever seen John Christopher’s Tripods? These things are totally like Tripods about to invade us.

So that is my month of May. I will post more pictures of my stitching progress next time. I am waiting for some sunshine to grace us with it’s presence.

Ah, this is a tough one.

Does a business have the right to deny service if giving that service will violate one of the basic tenets of their religion?

The freedom to practice one’s religion was so important it was mentioned specifically in the Constitution. This document is not the complete list of all our God-given rights, but it does enumerate the ones the were so important that the framers felt they needed to be spelled out very specifically.

In most cases, they did it because of events in the history of this country where those rights were compromised. Why was the 2nd Amendment written? Because the British soldiers sought to disarm the rebellious colonists. This does not belittle those rights in our modern age, in fact it should make them more important. Learn from the past and don’t allow the government to restrict rights given by our Creator.

But back to the 1st Amendment, the relevant part of which I quoted in the title.

On one hand, the right to live your faith is guaranteed. The government has no right to prohibit me from exercising the tenets of my religion. This has been upheld multiple times. Pharmacists cannot be compelled to give the morning after pill and cause an abortion if that violates their religious beliefs. They do need to find another who will provide the medication. Amish don’t have to send their kids to school past a certain grade. Home schoolers don’t get charged with truancy. Parochial schools can pray and follow any rituals as required by their faith.

But I guess that right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.

If I have a private business, I can choose who I choose to serve. Businesses do refuse to serve customers all the time. I know of one instance where a customer was asked not to come back because they basically only did business to complain and then get the goods for free. A printer or a baker can refuse to create something which is hateful, racist or bigoted.

But they can’t refuse to create a cake for a gay couple.

Now we get into the Equal Protection Clause or 14th Amendment. This Amendment led to many of the civil rights decisions.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Is getting a cake from your favorite baker a privilege? Could the baker refer the customer to another baker in town of equal talent and skill just like the pharmacist?

It isn’t the popular opinion, but I think that religious freedom is going to win this one. I would never advocate discriminating in hiring practices based on color, creed or religion. In most business settings, these things are irrelevant. The only time I can see any of them being a factor is hiring for a church or parochial school. Employers want to hire for a good fit, hiring a liberal-minded atheist to teach catechism in a Catholic school could be a problem.

When you are an artist, you create from your heart and faith is part of that. Giving the product of that heart to a thing you find sinful should be a call you can make.

But I can see both sides of the issue. It’s a tough call. The space between that fist and that nose is pretty slim. The Libertarian would say that the business is a private individual and the government has no rights to tell them what to do. We as citizens can boycott the business, but they can’t be prosecuted. Would restaurants still be segregated if that were the case? In some cases, I think they might be.

Tough call, and it requires some thought.

I have been taking a little break from cross stitch to work on a gift for a family member who is on the way.

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It’s not my usual style, but fillet crochet is always pretty. I haven’t neglected my cross stitch entirely.

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The chairs work up very fast, I’m almost ready for beads on this one.

I also made this. I found the pattern on Slightly Slouchy Crochet Hat I like Melanie’s videos, she does a nice job showing the tricky parts. If you are interested in learning new techniques, she would be a good place to start.

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I am considering adding more “slouch” but this is my first slouchy hat. The fun thing about any pattern is making them your own.

I’m looking for Spring, but I think it must be under the snow, so I will continue crocheting to keep warm.

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This is the reason I am not enjoying the world of cross stitch. This pattern. Spooky House by Stoney Creek.

I made my first error when I chose to work on linen over two. That makes the counting more complicated because you are more likely to make a mistake when you have to count 2 tiny little holes instead of one. I should have used 14 or 18 count over one.

But it looks really good.

The second mistake was to let one miscount slide because now the ghost part is all off. Now I have come too far to unpick and I’m not willing to start over. Why?

Because it looks really good.

If you don’t see the mistakes. Some stitches have a little extra even though the blocks line up. Don’t look at that. Look at the cool fabric, which is called Prank, by the way. Look at the interesting variations in the black hand dyed thread.

It looks very cool!

I will keep going and add some buttons. There is a bat and a “Boo!” in the pattern. I have seen bats but I will have to try them for size. I will keep working and compensating. The nice thing is that if I can get these blocks to line up then the others will fall in line and it will be fine. And this one is for me, I am not making a model piece or ghost stitching. So it is “highly personalized”

It will look good.

You could compare the format of this book to an interview with sound bites giving answers to some pretty heavy questions. But unlike the 30 seconds of answers, you get a concise and well thought out response.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope in 2013, this book was written and published in 2010. You can see in retrospect how these views have shaped his tenure as Pope. He is liberal in some of his views, but liberal in a Catholic sense. After reading about what he thinks on issues such as fundamentalism, divorce, same-sex marriage and politics, I can see a good future for the Church.
I was surprised by some answers in the book. When they were discussing faith and atheism, both men had respect for them, and neither took the stance that some fundamentalists do condemning them forever. Skorka even mentioned that believers have doubts and doubts about the existence of God are natural. Pope Francis has a very humble response to non-believers.
I learned a lot about the Jewish faith and where they stand on the same issues. While I am familiar with some aspects of Judaism from friends and studying it in Religious Education, I didn’t know where they stood on these issues. Abraham Skorka also mentions some differences within the spectrum of Jewish faith, from Orthodox to Reformed.
This is not a heavily theological book, though Doctors of the Church and other sources are mentioned and cited. I think that both men could have said volumes on each subject but they wanted to give a more direct answer. In some cases I wish that both of them had said more.
If you are curious about the new Pope or want to understand the relationship between Judaism and Catholicism, this is a good source. I enjoyed reading this and would recommend it to anyone in Catechism class..
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

That classic line from Monty Python recently came into my life and made me think back to that Medieval History class in college many years ago. The professor assigned an essay question which was very simple:

Describe the economic impact of the black plague on Europe.

I no longer have that essay, if I did it would be stored on a 5 1/4 floppy disk. And I don’t have a drive that can read that format anymore.

But I do remember the skit from MP, which is not so far off. People who weren’t necessarily dying or dead of the plague did end up in that cart. Say I wanted my neighbors farm and most of his family was dead, but that old codger seemed to be immune. Darn him! No prob, hit him over the head and off he goes. The guys pulling the carts weren’t exactly medics.

There were several plagues, but the last major one was in 1665. It was one in a string of outbreaks going all the way back to the 14th century. Bubonic plague is still out there, but it is easily treated with antibiotics and less communicable then other diseases like the flu, measles or chicken pox.

It’s a morbid subject, but virologists have said that a plague hits us every 100 years or so. The last pandemic was the flu after World War I. Ebola looked like it was going somewhere, but it’s too deadly.

Maybe it will the measles. Then what will the anti-vaccination folks say?

I hope you are all feeling well contemplating the economic impact of the bubonic plague.

Just to prove that I do actually finish projects, here’s one I just finished. I plan to make it into a pillow, so I can cry into it every time I rewatch Firefly and think about all those possible story lines we will never see onscreen.

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I understand why Joss Whedon won’t go back to the show 10 years later. The actors have moved on, the time has passed. There are some very good graphic novels exploring the lives of the characters. I always though Shepard Book must have had a very interesting past.

Until then, we will enjoy what we have. And we’ll watch Red Dwarf for a while.

I am debating if I should stitch Wolverine, or the Nazgul next. They both look very cool.