Saturday, 9 March 2013

Protesting Government action.

So we move into “daylight savings time” tonight (here in the USA).
Damn and blast!   I cannot for the life of me understand this.  

We substitute light mornings for dark mornings, and light evenings for even lighter evenings.

As a morning person I protest!

Bah and bleah.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Senator Rand Paul (R Kentucky) was right.

The very thought that the executive branch of government (in my case the President of the U.S.A.) could order the death of a citizen without the due process of law should send shivers down our backs.
In the American scene this  question became moot in the U.S. Senate confirmation of Mr. Brennan to be the director of the C.I.A.
The Justice Department had equivocated on this issue, therefore Senator Rand Paul (R) (a libertarian) filibustered the issue until he could get a clear answer from the American Attorney General.
(See below for the story as reported on the internet).
I am not usually in favour of the Libertarian views. I think that they are as romantic and un-realistic as those of we wild-eyed Liberals.
(Liberals and Libertarians have an unproven faith in the perfectibility of human nature).
But in this case I think that Rand Paul was right, and his filibuster was necessary. It teased out a definitive answer from Atty. General Eric Holder.
For there is no doubt that the Executive Branch, (regardless of party), has a dangerous tendency to accrue non-constitutional power and authority.  Rand Paul’s filibuster was an important challenge to possible ‘imperial powers” by the Presidency.
As a liberal I am in the strange position of lauding a right wing conservative on this issue, even as I wonder why the Democratic Party Senators  were so wimpy.
  The News Story (From the web)
The Brennan vote was 63-34 and came just hours after Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, used an old-style filibuster of the nomination to extract an answer from the administration on the drone question.
Brennan won some GOP support. Thirteen Republicans voted with 49 Democrats and one independent to give Brennan, who has been Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, the top job at the nation's spy agency. He replaces Michael Morell, the CIA's deputy director who has been acting director since David Petraeus resigned in November after acknowledging an affair with his biographer.
The confirmation vote came moments after Democrats prevailed in a vote ending the filibuster, 81-16.
In a series of fast-moving events, by Senate standards, Attorney General Eric Holder sent a one-paragraph letter to Paul, who had held the floor for nearly 13 hours on Wednesday and into Thursday.
"It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: `Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" Holder wrote Paul.
"The answer to that question is no."
That cleared the way.
"We worked very hard on a constitutional question to get an answer from the president," Paul said after voting against Brennan. "It may have been a little harder than we wish it had been, but in the end I think it was a good healthy debate for the country to finally get an answer that the Fifth Amendment applies to all Americans."

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Adelaide the Imperious and a late night

Oh my gracious me, it’s 9:42 p.m. and I still have not gone to bed, ‘tis a late night for me!

Our Condo. Association rules state that cats must be kept inside.  My dear junior cat (Adelaide the Imperious) longs to go out. 

I “accidentally” left the back door open this morning, and to my utter surprise (lol) Adelaide got out.

Then I set out for an appointment with my Doctor  (nothing wrong  - simple a review of my recent bloods tests – which revealed that all the readings: good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose  etc etc etc [the list goes on... there were about 20 tests in all] revealed that everything is boringly normal).

Then a quick visit to Trader Joe’s - (great Belgian cookies, French cheese and Spanish cheese).

Back home -  Adelaide had left a gift  at my front door -  a dead mouse.  

She was waiting at the back door – all proud happy to see me.

Makes me kinda happy that I allowed Adelaide to get in a bit of hunting!

Dinner tonight at the home of  good St. Boniface friends Wes Wasdyke (the Revd) and Cindi Wasdyke, together with Cindi’s glorious and wise 93 year old Mom Eleanor, down to visit from Concord, MA.

So that’s why I am late to bed.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

My dog and Queen Elizabeth II

My lovely dog Penne had a touch of Queen Elizabeth II illness yesterday.

Unlike Her Majesty, Penne was not rushed into a hospital, nor did her gastro-enteritis make world news headlines.

And I had to clean up the mess.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Being single in Vietnam - another viewpoint

On the other hand....   when I arrived in Sa Pa just before day break, the Hotel in which I had a day room was dark, and locked tight. It was the “Cat Cat Hotel”, named for a nearby “ethnic village”.

I was all for going across the street to get a cup of coffee but my trustworthy guide (Sinh) insisted on calling the night clerk.

He soon arrived to open up the Hotel – all smiles, and explaining that he’d been at a party the evening before as was a bit “hungover”.

I never got to know his name, so I nick-named him “Mr. Friendly”. He was/is a Vietnamese of Chinese background. His English was flawless. His personality was filled with bubbly bonhomie.

After my sleep and shower he and I chatted. He told me that he was very happy because he was going to his home village for the Tet holiday.

I asked about his family. He told me that he had an older brother.

Then he added “I am happy that I have an older brother because it’s his responsibility to take care of my parents, not mine.   As for me, I don’t want to get married because I want independence and freedom”.

So despite what the airline clerk at the Ha Noi airport said,  there are young Vietnamese men (and probably some women) who are opting for single and alone life which is so common in the west.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Being "dissed" at the airport in Hanoi?

The young man at the Vietnam Airlines check in at Ha Noi’s airport was “all business”. 

He did not smile.

I was checking in for a flight to Da Nang (which in the event was delayed for two hours).

He asked “who is travelling with you?”  I responded that I was alone.

“But what about your wife and family?” was his next question.

I countered by saying that I am not married and that I have no children.

He looked me in the face and said “I do not like that”.

I felt disrespected until today.

Part of my post Vietnam reading is “Vietnam Now” by David Lamb (Public Affairs, NY 2002).

Lamb was a war correspondent during the Vietnam War.  Thirty years later he returned to Vietnam to “cover the peace”. 

On a long rail trip from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City he chatted with a young Vietnamese man  named Tinh who asked him “How many children do you have?”

Lamb said “none” and the young man said “then you are not married, you must be lonely”.

David Lamb replied that he was indeed married but that he and his wife didn't happen to have kids.

 I quote from the book:  “A look of sadness swept the young man’s face. He said ‘I am very sorry for you. That’s terrible. What happened?’”

Author David Lamb commented on this exchange. “... inquiring about the size of one’s family is a form of respect...for the Vietnamese attach sorrow – and sometimes bad luck – to anyone bereft of children.  I think that it has something to do with loneliness. Vietnamese hate the idea of being alone, living alone, even eating alone”.

David Lamb was asked about his family so often that he eventually adopted a fictional family with two children – a boy named Sebastian and a girl named Aileen.  His questioners would beam approval. “Ah,” they’d say. A boy and a girl. Perfect. You are very lucky”.

When I read this portion of “Vietnam Now” I understood why the Vietnam Airlines clerk in Hanoi said “I do not like that” when I told him that I was un-married and have no children.  

He was not dissing me. He was expressing sadness.

"Living alone" is so common in western countries that we forget that such a lifestyle is an anomaly in much of the world.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Helicopters and Donkeys

I have looked at the photo’s of ex-Pope Benedict leaving the Vatican to fly to Castel Gandalfo by helicopter. 

It’s but a 15 mile journey  by road (indeed in 1974 I took a ‘bus from Rome to Castel Gandolfo for a public audience with Pope Paul VI).

Why the helicopter?

At first blush it reminded me of failure.  I saw Richard Nixon leaving the White House by helicopter. I was reminded of the fall of the Saigon regime in Vietnam (1975) and the frenetic evacuations by helicopter.

At second blush it made me think that even Pope Benedict had to leave office in a dramatic and powerful way. Why should I think otherwise?   The Papacy is by its very nature rooted in theories of authority and power.  A former Pope could not possibly leave Rome on the back of a donkey.  That would be too much like Jesus of Nazareth!

The Pope aside, many of we clerics assert that we have power and authority to rule over congregations.

“’Snot true”: the authority of the ordained is to serve.

When I insisted on “authority” I made a pig’s ear of my ministry.

When I chose (or was forced to choose) the way of service, one or two or more people were drawn closer to the Lord Jesus.

At my best as a Pastor I rode on a donkey.  At my worst I wanted a helicopter.

President Nixon's departure

Farewell to Saigon

Pope Benedict's final helicopter ride