Weekend Update

I’ve decided to start collecting links I find interesting and brief thoughts that pop into my head into one post that I’ll schedule to be published each Saturday. This is the first post in that series. We’ll see how it goes.

Faith

As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, access to health care is not merely a political or economic issue, though it is both of those. It’s also a faith and life issue. Cardinal Bertone expands on that at length with words of admonition for both governments and private health care companies. So when Roman Catholics like Boehner admonish other Catholics like Pelosi for not adhering to the clear direction of the hierarchs of their Church on some issues, it’s clearly a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

These 55 Maxims for Christian Living by Fr. Thomas Hopko are wonderful. Some of them, such as number 24 — Be totally honest, first of all, with yourself — sound simple but are actually quite hard to do consistently.

Reflect on Father Stephen’s post on The Life of Thanksgiving.

Kyrie, Eleison! on the pure gift of God and the problems that come from asking the wrong question.

This CT article, The Leavers: Young Doubters Exit the Church, was pretty good. I’ve purchased the electronic version of American Grace, but haven’t read it yet. I would be a bit stronger than the author on a few points. Many strands of American Christianity, even when lived, taught, and practiced well, ultimately describe a faith and a God not worth believing. In our past society, where cultural norms would push most people into at least some nominal adherence (usually in whatever strand was regionally dominant), that mattered less. But that ship has sailed and those cultural pressures no longer exist. I could empathize with all the reasons people gave for abandoning Christianity. In some ways, it reminds of the dwarves in The Last Battle. The splintering of Christianity means that some, when they come to see the Christianity they have been fed as an ass in a lion’s skin, reject the idea that there could be a real lion at all. It’s easy to be cynical.

Father Ernesto has a good and timely rant about those whom we force to work unnecessarily on holidays for our convenience, not from any necessity. Yes, we can blame the corporate interests and rampant commercialism — and they do indeed deserve a share of the blame. But ultimately those businesses are open because we patronize them. If we did not, then they would not be open. It’s really as simple as that.

Food

In this season when people like to get together to eat, About.com has a really good article on the basics of how to cook for someone with celiac disease. Communication is really important. As a rule, when I’m a guest I won’t quiz people about what is or isn’t in the food unless they bring it up first. After, it’s a social gathering and I don’t want to subject them to third degree about the food. However, I won’t anything about which I’m unsure. Sometimes that means I just get a drink and hang out without eating.

And this article on the impact of anti-gliadin antibodies on the brain and central nervous system is fascinating. I knew celiac disease could often impact the central nervous system and experienced some of those effects myself. This article explores research that reveals the mechanics of that impact, which I didn’t know.

Technology

Long Live the Web by Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the http protocol and html standard for those who don’t know) is an excellent discussion of the issues of net neutrality and open standards. Yes, I use Twitter instead of an open alternative, but the stuff I put out there isn’t hidden. And I don’t use Facebook. I’m also firmly in the neutrality camp since I know how new protocols are developed. (I even helped develop our own protocol for an application at work.) Moreover, we need to regulate our monopolies and near-monopolies more, not merely let them do what they want. I swear, it’s like most Americans today look back longingly to the days of the Railroad Barons. (Of course, I know that’s not the case. Anything that happened before they were born seems to be a complete mystery to most Americans. At least, that’s what most of the studies testing even things that should be common knowledge find. But it looks like they want to return to those halcyon days.)

Novell is being acquired by Attachmate? Back in the nineties, one of the applications I developed was designed to work with a database running as an NLM on a Netware server. I’ve also found their work with SUSE intriguing in more recent years. My organization does use Attachmate’s Infoconnect product, so I’m not unfamiliar with company. It’s an interesting combination.

IPv6 subnet calculators. Hex doesn’t bother me, but there’s a lot more space involved with IPv6. Tools are good things.

News and Commentary

Bruce Schneier weighed in on a NY Times debate about the new TSA procedures. As usual, it’s good stuff.

My main thought when I read Paul Krugman’s column was that I think he’s wrong. As far as I can tell, there’s no evidence in this millenium that the new Republican Party has any interest in responsibly governing even when a Republican is president.

In this video of a speech, Lawrence Lessig has some excellent thoughts on the question: Should Corporations Decide Our Elections?

This article, What the Secret Donors Want, details how the health insurance companies use secret proxies like the US Chamber of Commerce to wage war against reform even as they negotiate (supposedly in good faith, but now we know that’s not true) to try to get the most they can out of anything that might pass anyway.  I also read where, in a classic case of “I’ve got my government run health care, so screw you,” it’s mostly senior citizens who oppose health care reform. When you exclude them, a clear plurality of the population support reform. It brings to mind the absurdity of the tea party rallies that were, especially in places like Kentucky, filled with seniors protesting “government” in their government-provided motorized scooters.

I’ve tweeted any number of times that if the new Republican demagogues had even the slightest strength of their convictions, they would refuse to participate in the FEHB, and take their chances on the individual market. The FEHB is after all a government run and regulated exchange and was the model for the exchanges envisioned under the new law. I saw a tweet to a video that shows the idea is hardly original to me this week. Of course, nothing could have illustrated that lack of conviction better than the freshman representative outraged that he has to wait 28 days for the FEHB to kick in. (Most private employers require 60-90 day waiting periods before you get health insurance.) I’m not particularly concerned about myself since I do get to participate in the FEHB. In fact, I think one large exchange, if it was regulated like the FEHB, would be much better than the as many as 50 separate exchanges the HCR law allows. However, without any reform, I am concerned for my children, grandchildren, and friends. Unlike those who have lived protected by privilege from the harsh realities of our world, like they aforementioned representative, I know far too many people who have suffered grievously under our present system. It’s long past time for that end.

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