Sunday, October 25, 2009

Why I will Never be a Catholic

I'm a single Protestant male living in Toledo. I'm surrounded in many places by Catholics, in my workplace, my social circle, and my regular daily life.

I've been asked why I'm not a Catholic. It's for many reasons, but chief among them is their treatment of women.

I have never been able to understand why any major organized religion would ever suppress the contributions women are able to make. Throughout history, no organization or civilization that ever suppressed the contributions that could be made by either gender has ever prospered.

But that's only one of my complaints. Another is the prohibition against marriage by the members of the clergy. In nearly every other major organized religion, the members of the clergy are not only allowed but encouraged to marry and reproduce. They see it as one of the most sure ways to ensure their religions continue to survive and thrive. It also prevents those same clergy members from falling victim to deviant thoughts brought about by repression.

But perhaps my most basic reason for my opposition to the Catholic faith is its utter inability to accept any other faith as valid. I strongly believe that there is a God, but I believe just as strongly that He doesn't care one way or another how we worship Him (or Her!)

If Catholics learn to accept that premise, I'll learn to accept them. Until then, I won't.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Pickle Jar

Recently, a co-worker of mine forwarded me an e-mail called "The Pickle Jar". It was written anonymously. It details the story of a young child who grows up in a small unnamed mill town. It seems that every night the father of this young child would drop his pocket change into an empty pickle jar on the nightstand beside his bed. When that jar became full, the coins would be sorted, rolled up, and taken to the bank to be deposited into a college fund for the child.

When asked about the jar, the father always told the child that he (or she) would have that money in a bank account someday and would never have to work in the town mill as a result. The jar would never be raided, even in times of desperate financial crisis. The jar was a way to ensure that the child would always have a better life than the parents had.

Afterward, once the child had reaped the benefits of that carefully saved college fund, the Pickle Jar disappeared. Years later, when the child had a child of his or her own, the Pickle Jar magically re-appeared on the nightstand, and a new tradition of saving pocket change for a college fund began.

Naturally, this bit of e-mail glurge is often dismissed by cynics like myself. It is often accompanied by expressions of blessing that causes people like me to dismiss it.

Obviously, this story is at best imagined from vague childhood memories, but it is a lesson that should be learned: Saving your money is the best way to invest it.

I recall an episode of The Simpsons wherein Homer was asked to create a "Swear Jar" which he would contribute a dollar to each time he swore while trying to build a homemade doghouse. By the time he was done with it, he had saved enough to buy a custom built doghouse.

If a fictional cartoon character can learn such a basic lesson, why can't we?

It is rumored that the late Roy Rogers once said that the easiest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

My own father is now living a very prosperous retirement because he saved his money.

I will pass on the story of The Pickle Jar to anyone I know. Minus the sickening sweetness of course.

Maybe it will inspire some folks to do what is sensible with their money: Save it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Once upon a time, I relied on the daily newspaper comic strips as my only source of daily animated entertainment.

To a certain extent, I still do. I borrow a newspaper from a co-worker, read Non-sequitur, and Dilbert. then I hand the paper back.

And then I go on-line, and first read the daily webcomic Least I Could Do. Then I go and see if Nuklear Power has a new comic up. Then I go to Order of the Stick.

These are just a few of the regular webcomics that have managed to make it as commercial successes. And they all did it with no support from any traditional media whatsoever.

None of these webcomics became well-known by advertising in traditional media either. All have popularity spread by word-of-web.

The same thing happened with comics since before the turn of the 19th century. All of them have spread because they were more popular than the medium that carried them. Editorial cartoons have and will long outlast the original medium that carried them.

If the traditional media wants to survive, they will realize and adapt to this fact.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski has been arrested. Apparently, all parents of 13 year old girls can sleep easy.

At least, that is what the L.A. District Attorney's office would apparently have us believe.

Polanski was arrested for drugging and raping a 13-year old girl. It was a crime. One to which he pleaded guilty. And spent time in jail undergoing psychiatric evaluation for.

He had been able to arrange a plea bargain with the state to avoid major jail time. I don't know the circumstances of this agreement, but apparently Polanski had found out that the judge in the case was planning to refuse it.

So Polanski did what anyone else with the means and the opportunity to do so would do: he fled.

He spent the better part of the next 40 years living abroad, never able to come home again. In the years since, Polanski has made dozens of films and won Oscars that he has not been able to accept. Meanwhile, his victim has gotten on with her life, is married and a mother, and had probably hoped that this particular part of her life would never be dredged up again.

But it has happened.

Some ambitious L.A. DA, hoping no doubt for bigger and better things in the future, arranged for Polanski to be arrested while in Switzerland. And the whole can of worms pops open again.

So, Roman Polanski will now spend months in jail fighting extradition. His victim, who thought this was behind her, is dragged into it again. And the news organizations of the world focus their attention on this story.

And they ignore the stories about other 13 year old girls being raped, or worse.

THAT, my friends, is the real tragedy of this story. Today, now, even as I write this, there are crimes being committed against young girls all over the world that are tens or hundred times worse than what happened to Polanski's victim. A good portion of those crimes are probably happening right here in the good old U.S. of A.

Nobody will care about these, of course, because the perpetrators and victims of these crimes are not famous. Not worth reporting about.

Not worth caring about.