Overdue Papal Blogging

February 17th, 2013

So due to my previous status as interim pope, a number of readers and friends have contacted me to ask if I intended to become pope again, and if I had any thoughts on the resignation of Pope Benedict. Well, I finally have a few minutes to myself uninterrupted, so I thought I would address these concerns.

First of all, I am now married with children, which I believe precludes me from becoming pope of any sort, interim or otherwise. But even if I were able to become pope, there is no need for an interim pope because the current Pope will apparently reign until the new pope is selected. So the question itself is moot, unless I suppose Benedict dies suddenly.

The larger question is what to make of the resignation of the Pope. Many people have conspiracy theories, mostly revolving around blackmail about what Benedict knew about the child rape scandals that have plagued the church in recent decades. I doubt that these theories have much merit. I suspect that Benedict is old and tired as he says. But his resignation goes deeper than that. His resignation directly involves the Prophecy of St. Malachy.

I have written previously about the prophecy. Let us review:

It’s gotta be tough predicting the future, via psychic means, that is. I mean surely, the further out into the future you try predicting, the more hazy the future must become. No wonder so many prophets use coded language like quatrains to try and describe what they’re seeing. It’s because they’re not really sure what they’re seeing in the first place. It’s no different than trying to gaze over long distances, where two objects standing next to each other may appear to be one.

And so undoubtedly it was with St. Malachy, who famously prophecized about every pope from his own time until the last pope ever. The funny thing is that his list has basically run out. Going sequentially from his time forward, Pope Benedict XVI is the penultimate pope, the so-called Olive Pope.

The previous pope was “De labore Solis”, or “Of the Labour of The Sun”. This correlates to Pope John-Paul II because he was born and died on a solar eclipse. The penultimate pope is described as “De Gloria Olivae” or “glory of the olive”. This has been interpreted in a number of different ways, including that the pope would hail from an olive growing region of the world, or that he would be olive skinned or even black. None of these adequately describe the current pope, though he did place an image of a Moore on his papal crest, a piece of iconography that comes form his home town in Germany.

I went on to posit that Malachy got his final pope confused with that of the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who would, according to the prophecy, be overthrown by “Petrus Romanus”, or General David Petraeus. With Petraeus out of government entirely, it seems unlikely that he could conduct such a coup, though I suppose he could raise an army Aaron Burr style, theoretically. No, what I suspect is that Benedict, knowing the prophecy well, knew damned well that he wasn’t the Glory of the Olive, and decided to step aside to let the correct pope take his place.

Benedict’s only real connection to the prophecy is the Moor he placed on his papal crest, a weak connection at best. And his selection as pope was generally a surprise. In a Catholic Church that is now predominantly southern hemispheric, choosing an elderly German because he gave a nice funeral oratory for the previous pope hardly seems like a wise move. In fact, Benedict himself must have been surprised by it, and felt it impulsive. And after 5 years of it, at his advanced age, he could pretend no further. He was never meant to be pope, and so he called it quits.

In short, Rob Sama was never the interim pope, Benedict was.

And so I suspect that the Church will now obtain its true Glory of the Olive, a dark skinned pope from the Southern Hemisphere who will be able to address the issues most important to the majority of its congregants, whether it be Mormon and Evangelical encroachments into Latin America, or Islamic incursions into Africa. The new pope will be younger, more energetic, and attuned to the issues facing the Church in the Southern Hemisphere.

The bigger question, to my mind, is does Benedict get to participate in the new conclave, or does he sit it out?

 
 

Predictions

December 30th, 2012

I suppose I ought to make some predictions for the upcoming year. It’s not an election year, so I suppose the predictions won’t be about any election results (well, regular election results). But we can have some fun nevertheless. Feel free to play along at home or in the comments:

Q: What new products will Apple release?
A: Since I have already stated that they will do a watch and it has since appeared in print that they are in fact working on one, I’ll stick with that. I’ll also stick with my earlier prediction of an iPhone nano. Regarding a TV I’ll say this, if they so come out with a TV, it will be reminiscent of the new iMac, super thin with tapered edges.

Q: What will happen with the fiscal cliff?
A: We will go over it, and eventually negotiations will cease as everyone slowly realizes that this is exactly what the President wants. In other words, there will be no deal.

Q: What will happen with the debt ceiling?
A: Boehner will extend it in exchange for some token concessions or even promises of concessions some years out.

Q: How much longer does Boehner remain speaker of the house?
A: He’ll be out by Memorial Day.

Q: Who will replace Boehner as speaker of the house?
A: It will be a dark horse. Somebody unexpected.

Q: Is Hillary Clinton actually sick? What is she up to?
A: She is not sick. I think she is just done with politics, and wants out. She especially doesn’t want to answer for what happened in Bengazi, because she’s being set up to be the fall guy when she doesn’t think that what happened was her fault.

Q: Will David Gregory be prosecuted for violating Washington DC’s gun laws?
A: You’re kidding, right?

Q: Will any new gun control laws be passed at the federal level as a result of the Newtown massacre?
A: No new gun laws will pass the house, thus no new gun laws will pass.

Q: Will Scott Brown win the special election for John Kerry’s seat in Massachusetts?
A: I’m going to say no on this one. Radicals are pretty energized and they won’t let him win again. Plus Brown pissed off a lot of his base, making them less than energized.

Q: What will the price of bitcoins be at year’s end?
A: Around $30.

I guess that’s it since I can’t think of anything else. Let me know what you think. We’ll revisit this in a year as usual.

 
 

Reviewing Last Year’s Predictions

December 28th, 2012

I think I did pretty well last year. Here goes:

Q: Who will be the Republican nominee for President:
A: Mitt Romney
Result: Correct, Mitt Romney was the nominee for President.

Q: Who will win the apparent Romney-Obama matchup?
A: Obama.
Result: Correct, Obama did win the matchup.

Q: What will the electoral map look like?
A: Almost identical to 2008, though Florida may flip to the Republican column. NH will also flip. I should emphasize that this is true if Romney is the nominee, as predicted above. If Romney is not the nominee, then the electoral map will be very different.
Result: More or less correct. NH and FLorida did not flip, but Indiana did.

Q: Will the Euro survive 2012?
A: Probably, though it will be very weak by year’s end.
Result: Probably incorrect. Euro does not appear to be going anywhere.

Q: Will Scott Brown win re-election?
A: No, but it will be a close election.
Result: Correct.

Q: Who will Ron Paul endorse in the general election?
A: He will not endorse either the Republican nominee nor Gary Johnson.
Result: Correct.

Q: What percentage of the vote will Gary Johnson get in 2012?
A: Around 2%. He will break 1 million votes.
Result: Johnson did break 1 million votes, but thsi was only about 1% of the vote.

Q: Will SOPA pass and be put in to law?
A: Yes.
Result: I was wrong on this one, though it’s probably only a matter of time before something like it happens.

Q: Will the next major terrorist attack be carried out by Americans against their own government?
A: Yes, though it certainly won’t happen until after the election, and not likely to happen in 2012.
Results: No major terrorist attacks yet. This prediction was made too early. But let’s wait and see what happens as Obamacare is rolled out.

Q: What price will Bitcoins be in $US at year end?
A: $50
Results: Way off, we’ll be lucky to break $15 by year end.

 
 

Deny His Request

December 23rd, 2012

So there’s this link on Drudge saying that Obama is threatening to use his State of the Union Address to vilify Republicans on the fiscal cliff or some other such nonsense. Well, there’s an easy way to deal with that:

Deny him the opportunity.

The President cannot speak to the House and Senate except by way of an invitation. So far as I understand it, he can’t even step foot onto the floor of the House without an invitation. So play hardball: deny him the invitation.

Every State of the Union address from Jefferson to Woodrow Wilson was written, not delivered as a speech. Wilson, a progressive who understood theatrics, began the modern tradition of delivering the address as a speech. But there is no requirement for the address to be delivered as a speech, or for the House to let the President deliver a speech.

So turn him down. And if you really want to show him up, have Boehner deliver a speech himself instead. Of course, you’d need balls to execute such a move, and one wonders whether our teary eyed leadership has such gumption. But we can always fantasize, can’t we?

 
 

12-12-12

December 12th, 2012

Lots of twelves.

 
 

Just Who On Earth Do You Suppose You Are Kidding?!?

November 28th, 2012

So the campaign manager for the Mitt Romney campaign wrote a full scale apologia in the Washington Post today. Too bad that it’s premised on insane lies. I’m just going to fisk the relevant paragraph here:

I appreciate that Mitt Romney was never a favorite of D.C.’s green-room crowd or, frankly, of many politicians.

Seriously? Now that may have been true when he ran in 2008, but by 2012 he had lined up every conceivable endorsement imaginable. He had the full backing of the RNC from the get go. Remember how they kept screaming that this guy was electable? For Romney’s handlers to now claim that he was some sort of outsider to the RNC political circuit just compounds the rank dishonesty that mired the candidate and his campaign.

That’s why, a year ago, so few of those people thought that he would win the Republican nomination.

No, that’s why he was being called Mr Electable by every pundit and RNC consultant that Romney’s money paid for. The claim is especially rich when the Washington Post’s own Jennifer Rubin was perhaps the single biggest Romney apologist in print. Perhaps the author believes that the Post’s readers will have forgotten her incessant whining and defense of the man with whom she was smitten.

But that was indicative not of any failing of Romney’s but of how out of touch so many were in Washington and in the professional political class. Nobody liked Romney except voters.

Except when tehy had an opportunity to vote for someone else, anyone else, sure, the voters. That’s why they lurched form one “not Romney” to another “not Romney” until they all had fallen by the wayside in scandal or due to a lack of money. But yeah, they liked him, they really liked him…

What began in a small field in New Hampshire grew into a national movement. It wasn’t our campaign, it was Romney. He bested the competition in debates, and though he was behind almost every candidate in the GOP primary at one time or the other, he won the nomination and came very close to winning the presidency.

He may have bested Obama in the debates, but that’s not saying much. It certainly can’t be said he decisively won any of the primary debates.

Romney was a rotten candidate, who convinced many libertarian minded voters that he wasn’t substantively any different than Obama, and that they thus shouldn’t vote for him or the party apparatus that demanded he be nominated. That is why so many house seats were lost to Republicans, but could have been won had the Libertarian candidate’s votes gone to the Republican. Seats like those lost by Mia Love and Richard Tsei. Romney not only lost, he had negative coattails.

There is nothing to crow about in the Romney candidacy, either with respect to the candidate or with respect to the campaign. His campaign manager should be ashamed of what he did, and certainly shouldn’t be publishing defenses of it. What we need is not an apologia, but an apology.

 
 

The Giving Of Thanks

November 21st, 2012

And so it was, yea verily, when some 5,000 years ago, or so, as there are some disputed among theologians, the Earth was born. And some seven days after the birth of the Earth, all the plants and animals had been born. Mankind was vegetarian, of course. And by mankind we mean the only two of the human species who cohabited the Earth with every animal that ever existed, dinosaurs included. They lived in Missouri. At some point, the first man and woman decided that they wanted knowledge of how the world worked, which the acquired not by observation of the world around them, nor by hunting and eating meat and growing their brains, but rather by eating from a magic tree. And upon gaining said knowledge, they noticed that their genitals were exposed, and that they enjoyed eating meat. So they set forth, and populated the Earth.

A small tribe of people, who existed at the nexus of three major continents, Asia, Africa and Europe, was made up of some 13 tribes, some of whom departed from their homeland never to return. As it turns out, those very people were the original settlers of the American continents. In their homeland they were known as the Jews. In their new land, they became the Nephites and the Lamanites. One of them was white, and they got eliminated by the dark skinned Jews, who had completely lost their way with the Lord. At some point, the last white man alive in North America (before the arrival of Columbus) wrote down the history of these lost Jews on gold tablets, ad buried them in the hills of upstate New York.

Some 128 years after Columbus became the first non-Jewish white man to set foot in the Americas, religious zealots from England landed in Massachusetts. They nearly died in their first winter, but the Jews, who the pilgrims thought were from India, helped show them how to farm the land, and thus they had a bounteous feast that year. The centerpiece of their meal was a bird that the English speaking peoples had mistakenly named believing it has originated in the Ottoman Empire. This is the bird that we typically eat this time each year.

Some 210 years after the pilgrims arrived in North America, a man named Joseph Smith discovered the tablets buried by the last white North American Jew/Indian, and he launched the only true church according to the wished of Jesus Christ, all others being an abomination. Joseph Smith himself ran for President of the United States, as sort of a theocratic candidate. He lost obviously, but not before he made a prophecy: that someday the US Constitution would be “hanging by a thread” and that it would be a member of his Church who would become president, and set things right.

Almost 200 years later, the US Supreme Court declared that the power to tax includes the power to tax not for the purpose of raising revenue to act upon its enumerated powers (as the constitution says), but rather that it can be used to compel behavior in the citizenry. The case which was being decided was over a bill designed to eventually socialize the medical care industry, such socialism being well outside the framework of the Constitution or the thinking of any of the framers.

And so it came to pass that a Mormon was running for president, just at that moment, when the constitution was hanging by a thread. But alas, something was amiss. This Mormon had himself implemented a miniature version of this form of socialism in the state in which he was governor. And when running in the primaries, he had said that he didn’t want to repeal the offensive law, but just to fix the most offensive portions of it. And after obtaining the nomination, rather than going hard against the man after whom the legislation is colloquially named, he went hard after the most strict constitutionalist in the Republican party, the Ron Paul acolytes, who were playing by the rules to gain positions in the party to prepare for an eventual Rand Paul presidential run. Got that? Going against the man who is eviscerating the constitution, use kid gloves. Going against the Ron Paul folks, go for blood. Perhaps they weren’t white and delightsome enough for him.

Eric Fehrnstrom, the Mormon candidate’s campaign manager or whatever you want to call him, was so devoted to the Mormon candidate that he was fond of saying to the rest of the staff that they should all feel privileged, thankful even, to have had the opportunity to work with such a great man.

Whatever.

So what am I thankful for this year? That we’re rid of that douchebag once and for all.

 
 

Election Pre-Mortem

November 5th, 2012

Obviously, Romney is going to win handily tomorrow. The question is why? More specifically, how did I get it so wrong:

If Republicans lose the independent vote 58% to 42%, they will lose. And that’s not even considering the fact that Mihos in fact took 7% of the vote for himself. I think we could expect similar results if Gingrich goes rogue and runs third party.

So I hope you’re a bit more informed about Mitt Romney’s electability now. Nominating Mitt Romney will, I believe, lead to a massive loss in November. My hope is that is doesn’t have an effect down ticket.

More or less, Obama ran the entirely wrong race in all the wrong ways.

Back in 2004, when Bush beat Kerry, I was in a car with some liberal friends who asked me what I thought of the election. I told them that I thought Howard Dean would have had a better chance of beating Bush, a thought which intrigued them. They asked me to elaborate, which I did. I told them that in an election between someone who believes in something, and someone who believes in nothing or whom at least appears to believe in nothing, the something will win every time. I told them that Bush was a poor President who was very beatable. But Kerry, rightly or wrongly, came across as a guy who believed in nothing. And as a result he was seen as unfit to lead, and so voters stuck with what they knew, despite their reservations about the current President.

Given the poor state of the economy and the generally poor performance of Obama as President, the best he could have hoped for was a scenario similar to 2004, in which the challenger is deemed unacceptable for some reason. In some sense, the Obama camp knew this, which is why they went so negative so early in the campaign. But the way in which they did it was completely idiotic, to put it mildly.

Evidently, the Obama camp lives inside its own echo chamber. Instead of going after Romney as a man who changes his views on a whim, who apparently believes in nothing, an accurate and potent criticism of the man, they decided to try to portray him as a right wing extremist.

Because the Republicans spent the entire primary season wringing their hands over Romney because they were concerned about nominating someone too right wing.

Romney was the quintessential politician who believed in nothing, who ought to have been beaten by anybody who believes in something. Instead he was portrayed by the Obama camp as someone who believed in something, just something different from Obama.

This blunder more or less handed the election to Romney. But that was only the beginning.

It would seem as if the Obama team really spent the election shitting its pants over the Tea Party. In case you were unaware the Tea Party is more or less un by middle aged middle class women. This marks a very dangerous fissure in the Democratic coalition. If middle class women peel away as a reliable source of votes, the Democrats are in trouble. So they spent their entire convention screaming about birth control and abortion. It was absurd and certainly didn’t convince anyone of anything. More importantly, it squandered another opportunity to show how Romney is a guy who believes in nothing.

Finally, for reasons that puzzle me, they failed to go after the Mormon angle in the way I assumed they would, namely by pointing out that Romney proselytized what was then a racist religion for two years. Obama surrogate Andrew Sullivan has only just mow started asking those questions, way too late.

So say hello to President Romney. I don’t hold out much hope that he’ll be any good as president. But he certainly can’t be as bad as Obama has been.

UPDATE: So obviously, I shouldn’t have written this, and should have just stuck with my original prediction. I certainly appears that Obama simply had a better ground game in the battleground states, and got turnout that was at or near 2008 levels, something that I wasn’t considering could seriously take place. Now we all have to brace ourselves, for the implementation of Obamacare and the debasement of the currency. It’s gonna get ugly.

UPDATE 2: Ira Stoll mirrors my thoughts.

 
 

Apple Maps, Search Engines, Siri, And The Command Line Social Network

September 29th, 2012

So I’ve been giving a lot of thoughts to Apple Maps, and I have to agree with my friend Calzone, Apple has been taking it on the chin needlessly. He writes:

Yes, Apple Maps has issues, but someone needs to speak up about the upside. The issues, as I understand it, can be itemized very simply: (1) some satellite images are warped; (2) searching for locations by name is flawed and risks taking you to the wrong place. No one cares about item 1 — and even Google has had the occasionally funny happenstance with their satellite imagery, so woop-di-doo to everyone with their panties in a bunch over that. Satellite view is very useful on occasion (as a mountain biker I depend on it often), but hardly used as much as map view. And for item 2, yes, everyone cares about this. But I’d venture to say that nearly half of the critical navigation use cases for maps on the iPhone consist of the user entering an address, not searching by name. For the situations where you have to search by name, the workaround is simple: lookup the address first and then ask Siri to take you there. Apple will straighten this issue out over time, as we all know.

But the advantages for using Apple maps (as a user, not even regarding Apple’s corporate needs) are HUGE. Why isn’t anyone talking about these advantages?

Do you remember what it was like zooming in on Google maps and having to wait for the tiles to load? Do you remember zooming in and out and seeing blurry pixelated stand-ins while you waited for discrete zoom steps? How about those awkward in-between zoom levels? How about tiles that never refreshed and you were left with a map that was half zoomed in and half zoomed out? Or tiles that never loaded at all and all you get is a gray square? With Apple Maps, this is a thing of the past. The maps are INSANELY responsive. Zooming in and out is seamless and smooth. Panning is seamless and smooth. No more stutters, no delays, no dropped tiles. No fragmented imagery. No more waiting for something that eventually times out and then your connection sucks and you can’t get it back. Ok, part of that is me switching to Verizon instead of AT&T, but part is also Google’s stupid tech. I know this because I suffer the same some-tiles-that-never-load on my desktop computer even over a high bandwidth cable modem.

Do you remember walking around downtown somewhere, trying to find that bar five blocks over, and being lost… so you pull out your iphone, but north is on top and you’re walking south-east so you get confused about turning left or right at certain intersections. What did you do? You enabled compass mode so you could tell which way you were going. But now you need to zoom in or out again. Bam, compass mode would disengage and you’d lose your orientation again. Now that’s a thing of the past, just rotate freely and pinch to zoom in or out without losing your rotation.

Turn by turn? We got it now. 3D view (not even talking the flyover stuff here, just basic 3D view) kicks butt and pans really intuitively and helps give you a feel for the layout.

In short, usability — Apple’s hallmark — has increased a hundred-fold. Google maps was practically useless for me. Really, it was. Apple maps on the other hand, is everything I ever expected from a mapping app and it’s obviously only going to get better. Google, their supporters, and the screaming anti-Apple banshee contingent can suck it.

Yes, Apple’s database needs some filling in, but much of the criticism has been based on errors Apple maps generates that in fact Google and other maps also generate. When I first saw people were having issues, I asked Apple Maps to show me the Tobin Bridge, only to have it show me a bridge in Kentucky. I assumed that this was a problem with Apple Maps alone, until a friend showed me that Google Maps also got it wrong/ Only Bing Maps got it right. (Bing Maps, in my experience, is the currently the best of breed in terms of mapping content, both in terms of knowledge and in terms of directions.)

So why do Bing and Google maps both have better databases? I think the answer is obvious: they are connected to search engines, which provide all sorts of address data to the search engine, which in turn feeds the mapping database. If Apple is really going to catch up, I’m afraid they are going to need a search engine of their own. There are a number out there worth buying (I wouldn’t try starting from scratch) and I’ll tell you my pick in a bit. But suffice it to say, Apple needs a search engine if they’re ever going to get Maps right.

So let’s spend a moment to think about an Apple search engine, and what it would be like. The first think it needs is to be ad free, and respectful of privacy. They should introduce it by saying that “you have a right to search without being tracked and having your searches sold to sleazebag marketers” or something like that. Then, I would say, “because we believe that things are better when they’re open, we’re opening the search algorithms to people who have an Apple ID. So if you’re on an Apple device, and you want to customize your search in some way, you can do that. Because open is better than closed.” Something like that, kick Google right in the nads.

Because if you really want to conduct thermonuclear war against Google, then you need to give their main product away for free. What’s good for the goose, all that…

The search engine they buy ought to be one that already works largely by text input. Sounds silly, but there is in fact a lot of clicking around on most search engines. I like blekko myself. Everything can be entered in on a command line kind of way. Which is important, because I think we’re all going to be using the command line quite a bit more, orally, by way of Siri.

Because Siri is the new command line interface.

And really, you want to be able to do everything via the command line. So the Siri API needs to be available to other apps, so you can make restaurant reservations via Siri while cruising down the highway. Or pay bills. Or rate the song you’re listening to and tell the world about it. Or tell everybody how much the traffic you’re stuck in sucks.

Or maybe not.

Maybe what you need is for Siri to have access to a command line social network that can handle all of these things by way of apps that reside on it. The command line social network, of course, is Twitter, and I’ve already described how Twitter should be making money by selling commands for apps to run on itself. I only wished I’d coined the phrase “command-line social network: when I’d written that piece.

So yeah, Apple would probably have to buy Twitter to make that happen. So they should do that too.

Such a combination of services would be powerful in the extreme. A search engine, customizable to your needs, and completely private, feeding information to a maps database, which is also feed by users with iPhones all over the world. An auditory command line, into which you can run social network apps via Twitter. And with Twitter, you also own the ultimate universal login. All integrated, making the database stronger. And none of it to sell advertising. All of it to make a better phone experience that you’ll want to buy and upgrade again and again.

So what am I missing here?

 
 

Phone

September 27th, 2012

If you’re wondering what this is about, watch here.