The Hour of Trial is the Hour of Fidelity

His_Holiness_Pope_Pius_XII“He who remains firm in his faith and strong at heart knows that Christ the King is never so near as in the hour of trial, which is the hour for fidelity. With a heart torn by the sufferings and afflictions of so many of her sons, but with the courage and the stability that come from the promises of Our Lord, the Spouse of Christ goes to meet the gathering storms. This she knows, that the truth which she preaches, the charity which she teaches and practices, will be the indispensable counselors and aids to men of good will in the reconstruction of a new world based on justice and love, when mankind, weary from it course along the way of error, has tasted the bitter fruits of hate and violence.”


Ven. Pope Pius XII, Summi Pontificatus

Ozzie & Harriet Meet Boris & Bela, And Then They Sing

This actually happened:

The Pittsburgh Press, 3/11/38

On the March 13, 1938 episode of Baker’s Broadcast, a radio variety show on NBC starring Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff did a skit and sang “We’re Horrible, Horrible Men,” while Boris read “The Supplication of the Black Aberdeen” by Rudyard Kipling.

Here they are, singing together (badly, but still).

Police Targeting Waze

wazeSome police think Waze is dangerous and want Google to pull the plug on one of its key features. The social/traffic app is designed to provide drivers with information on highway congestion, accidents, and construction, but also allows them to tag the location of police speed traps with an icon indicating whether or not the police are hidden or visible from the highway.

This function, according to some in law enforcement, amounts to a “police stalking app.” LA Police Chief Charlie Beck wrote to Google CEO Larry Page last month urging him to disable the feature:

I am concerned about the safety of law enforcement officers and the community, and the potential for your Waze product to be misused by those with criminal intent. I look forward to opening a dialogue with you as to how Google can prevent the future misuse of the Waze app to track law enforcement officers, thereby avoiding any future deaths or injury. I am confident your company did not intend the Waze app to be a means to allow those who wish to commit crimes to use the unwitting Waze community as their lookouts for the location of police officers.

There is nothing to link Waze to any deaths or injury, but police are concerned because last month Islamic radical Ismaaiyl Brinsley posted a picture from Waze which showed the police icons. Brinsley disposed of his phone long before he ambushed and murdered two police officers in New York, but the connection is too close for some.

But not all police are buying the anti-Waze argument because, as Sgt. Heather Randol told the San Jose Mercury News, “We want to be seen.”

And that is the point, isn’t it? A visible police presence is part of the purpose of law enforcement and helps keep the peace. Cops aren’t ninjas, and the circumstances in which they need to remain unseen for legitimate public safety reasons are fairly limited. And, no, I don’t consider speed traps “legitimate public safety reasons.”

The police function in various ways: to discourage crime by their visible presence and intervention, to investigate crime after it has been committed, and as an armed revenue collection wing of the government. It’s this last function that rankles the public, because they realize the minor citations and tickets have minimal relevance to public safety and are just there to fill government coffers. When New York police stopped writing these nuisance tickets for a few weeks in protest over the murder of two of their brother officers, the city lost $5 million by some estimates.

The idea that Wave is some kind of Grindr for cop-killers kind of misses the main point: it shouldn’t be hard to find a police officer. They should be visible. Many people feel relieved when they see an officer. Well, at least many white people do: the experience of policing among minority communities is considerably more troubling, particularly for black men. Indeed, looked at from the perspective of a young, innocent black man, Waze may be key tool for avoiding harassment and potential police brutality.

In ordinary practice, the police have few legitimate reasons to conceal their presence. And they have no right at all to tell people they cannot share information with others about that presence any more than they could tell someone not to flash their lights to indicate a speed trap or use a CB radio for the same purpose.

Law enforcement routinely claims that anything happening in public has no expectation of privacy, yet want an exception for their own behavior under some vague and hazy fear about “police stalking.” They’re already deploying licence plate scanners, and are preparing to introduce facial scanners. The gulf between the rights of the watched and those of the watchers is growing ever-wider

Aside from the admittedly horrifying and tragic, but also isolated, case of the New York police murders, is their any indication that “police stalking” is a widespread practice? And if so, is it such a dangerous and immanent threat that it warrants a constitutional challenge about free communication among citizens?

Finding That Safe Place in the Imagination, With General Urko and Dinosaurs

On Monday, Kyle Cupp asked his Mindless Monday Question: What toys from your childhood do you most wish you had with you today? Elizabeth Scalia replied with Answering Kyle Cupp With A Plastic Trumpet and a Scream.

I’m  answering with this:


If you recognize this as General Urko from Planet of the Apes, then you are probably a male in his 40s and remember Ape-mania. I don’t know what happened to Urko or the other doll I had (Cornelius/Galen, who was played, of course, by the incomparable Roddy McDowall) but they were treasures. I didn’t even mind Urko’s bright purple tights because he had that cool plastic helmet and gauntlet.

I do still have a few toys from my childhood. These were my favorite:

2015-01-27 14.15.05The army guys belonged to my son, and are provided for scale. It’s the anachronistic collection of dinosaurs (including a caveman and a woolly mammoth, just because) that got the heaviest workout, and which I’ve kept these 40+ years.

The set came with mountains and trees and I’d play out scenes for hour with my own army guys and other random toys and figures. It was part of the grand parade that fired my young imagination: Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Lost World, Ray Harryhausen, King Kong, In Search Of, Twilight Zone, Trek, King Tut, dinosaurs, monsters, all the wild worlds of the 4:30 movie, comics (Swamp Thing, House of Secrets, Creepy, Hulk, Batman, Superman, etc), pulps, and old time radio.

And you know what? I still love it all. As much I enjoy digging deeply into theology and history and great literature, I’ve never lost the bug for the great Burroughs-style works of pure imagination and grand adventure. There’s real beauty in them: the beauty of little boys who grew up to be men with fierce creative talents, but never lost that boyish sense of wonder and adventure.

Is it merely empty nostalgia?

I don’t think so, though I probably wouldn’t recognize it if it was. I see these things for what they were: a way for a sad and lonely kid to flee to a safe place that also fired his imagination. I understand that this safe place, formed in those pivotal childhood years, is built of stone and mortar with foundations laid right on the bedrock of my psyche.

There’s always going to be a place in my mind where Col. Steve Austin is a man barely alive but gentlemen we can rebuild him because we have the technology, where Kirk and Spock and McCoy are beaming down to a planet, where Doug McClure fights dinosaurs and Boris Karloff is a sad and misunderstood monster.

And I’ll still return to that place, like some people return to comfort food or certain music. When I was little, sometimes it was my only safe place. It doesn’t serve that purpose any more, but it’s still somewhere I like–and maybe even need–to visit from time to time.