The Thoughts and Musings of Tom Allain

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it

Stephen Colbert
(b.1964)

my quotation file is here
Tom
at Safeco Field

Email Tom

What is Tom Reading?

Tom's Homilies 2013

Tom's Homilies 2014

Tom's Homilies 2015

Tom's Homilies 2016

Tom's Homilies 2017

Luke







Give to DonorsChoose

Archive for July, 2007

Cooperstown in the Rear View Mirror

Monday, July 30th, 2007

Today we left Cooperstown and are in New York City. Tony’s and Cal’s induction into the Hall of Fame was yesterday and it was a day to remember (I didn’t write this yesterday because I was too tired by the time we got back to the hotel). The day was warm but there were enough clouds in the sky to keep it manageable. We paid extra for good seats and that turned out to be the best investment we’ve made so far. We were right behind the press tables and could easily see the people on stage.

If you’ve read anything at all about the weekend you know that this was a record crowd for an induction weekend: there were about 75,000 of us. It was also a record weekend for Hall of Fame Members: there are currently 63 living members and 55 of them were there. They were all on stage behind Tony and Cal and it was hard to imagine just how much talent was on the stage. I’m sure that all HOF speeches are a series of thank you’s but given what a class act they both are, these speeches were above and beyond. I’m still looking for the texts of the speeches but they were both moving in different ways. Tony depended less on his notes and it felt more like it was from his heart. Cal read his but the speech was more polished. Neither was better than the other and they both gave a good sense of who they are as men.

I also want to thank the village of Cooperstown. It’s a small place and they did a very good job of accommodating all of us. There were some glitches with the shuttle buses but that was more a matter of them promising what couldn’t be done. We were picked up at our lot but got stuck in such a huge traffic jam that it was quicker for us to get out and walk (which is what we did). There were just too many vehicles and too few roads.

We’re definitely planning a return trip.

Cooperstown

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

We’re currently in Cooperstown New York for the induction of Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken in the Baseball Hall of Fame. This is Nancy’s first trip to Cooperstown and I haven’t been since 1991. They tell us this is the biggest crowd the town has ever seen and I believe it. Most of the reason is that they are inducting two of the sport’s greatest: Tony and Cal were both elected the first year they were eligible. They both spent their entire career with one club when they could have easily chased more money by moving. They are both still in their respective communities and doing good work there. In short, they are exactly the kind of men the league (and our world) need. As we walked around the town today we saw many, many people in Padres or Orioles gear and without exception we were eager to talk about them.

This is also a good weekend to spot the stars. We had our picture taken with Padres owner John Moores and Nancy had her picture taken with ESPN’s Joe Morgan. We also met Tim Kurkjian who autographed our copy of Is This a Great Game or What? It’s been a great day.

In addition to baseball we’ve also been able to pursue another hobby, wine tasting. When most people think about wine tasting, they think of California. There’s certainly no shortage of wineries in California but we’ve found that many other places in the country, including the Hudson River Valley. Yesterday we stumbled on Benmarl Winery and were impressed with their Zinfandel, and Adair Winery where we were impressed with the winery but not the wines. Today on our way out of Cooperstown we found Bear Pond Winery where we bought a bottle of their Traminette. We’ll keep everyone posted on what we find.

Playpumps: This Looks Like a Good Idea

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Yesterday Nancy heard a report on the NPR show Marketplace about playpumps. We all know that large areas of the world have scarce water resources and every year about 2 million children die due to a lack of clean drinking water. In South Africa they have found a way to use childrens’ playground equipment (and energy from the children) to pump water out of the ground. You can see their home page for more information. I’ve also posted a banner on the left side of my blog. Let me know what you think.

And So We March On

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

Yesterday San Diego held the annual Gay Pride Parade and my employer, San Diego Hospice and Palliative Care sponsored a float. I’ve attended the parade before but this year I decided to march. I got my SDHPC polo shirt, my “straight but not narrow” pin, and lots of sunscreen and joined about 20 of my co-workers. The float was mostly a pickup truck driven by my friend and co-worker Allex Turner. We inflated dozens of helium balloons and tied them to the truck. We also had a large sign that I helped carry ahead of the truck. It was wonderful. All along the parade rout we were cheered by people who know our work. In addition to hospice we also do AIDS Case Management and reach out to people who are living with AIDS. That has been well received in the gay community and it was nice to be part of it. I promised that I will walk again next year and I pray I’ll be able to keep that promise.

So Now All I Need is a Time Machine…

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Tonight I went with my father-in-law Al to a Padres game. When Nancy and I became season ticket holders we signed up for a promotion the Padres call their “Frequent Friars.” We swipe a card at each game and earn points that can be redeemed for stuff. Most of it is junk but the card is free and we go to the games anyway. Tonight I swiped my card and got a free baseball cap (to add to my extensive collection). I also got a coupon for a “Free Classic Ghirardelli Chocolate Bar” at the Ice Cream Shop on 5th Ave, with a purchase of $10 or more. The best part? It’s 7/18/2007 and the coupon expires on 7/15/2007. So if anyone has a time machine I could borrow…

Happy Bastille Day: Have You Hugged Your French Friend Today?

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

OK, it’s cheap but worth a try. Today is Bastille Day and commemorates the day in 1789 when ordinary citizens of France stormed the Bastille (a prison that held symbolic meaning about the absolute power of King Louis XVI). It began the French Revolution and an end to the monarchy in France. I’m of French ancestry but most of my ancestors were already in Canada (called Acadia at the time but is now Nova Scotia). Unfortunately the French Revolution was not good for genealogists like myself as many church records in France were destroyed during the Revolution. In any case, raise a glass of wine for this French independence day.

President Bush Grades on a Very Generous Curve

Friday, July 13th, 2007

Yesterday the White House released a report to Congress on how President Bush feels about progress being made in Iraq. Congress asked him specifically to report on 18 pre-arranged benchmarks. You can read the full report; in addition I have listed the 18 benchmarks and how they were assessed by the President. According to news reports only 8 of the 18 have been rated as “satisfactory.” President Bush says he’s pleased by the progress. I don’t know anyone else who would be pleased with a success rate of 43% but that’s what we have.

These are the benchmarks:

1. Forming a Constitutional Review Committee and then completing the constitutional review.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward forming a Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) and then completing the constitutional review.

2. Enacting and implementing legislation on de-Ba’thification reform.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has not made satisfactory progress toward enacting and implementing legislation on de-Ba’athification reform.

3. Enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources to the people of Iraq without regard to the sect or ethnicity of recipients, and enacting and implementing legislation to ensure that the energy resources of Iraq benefit Sunni Arabs, Shi’a Arabs, Kurds, and other Iraqi citizens in the equitable manner.

Assessment: The current status is unsatisfactory, but it is too early to tell whether the Government of Iraq will enact and implement legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources to all Iraqis.

4. Enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions.

5. Enacting and implementing legislation establishing an Independent High Electoral Commission, provincial council authorities, and a date for provincial elections.

Assessment: There are multiple components to this benchmark, each deserving its own assessment:

  • Establishing the IHEC Commission: The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward establishing an IHEC Commission.
  • Elections Law: The Government of Iraq has not made satisfactory progress toward establishing a provincial elections law.
  • Provincial Council Authorities: The Government of Iraq has not made satisfactory progress toward establishing provincial council authorities.
  • Provincial Elections Date: The Government of Iraq has not made satisfactory progress toward establishing a date for provincial election

6. Enacting and implementing legislation addressing amnesty.

Assessment: The prerequisites for a successful general amnesty are not present; however, in the current security environment, it is not clear that such action should be a near-term Iraqi goal.

7. Enacting and implementing legislation establishing a strong militia disarmament program to ensure that such security forces are accountable only to the central government and loyal to the constitution of Iraq.

Assessment: The prerequisites for a successful militia disarmament program are not present.

8. Establishing supporting political, media, economic, and service committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward establishing supporting political, media, economic, and service committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan.

9. Providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.

10. Providing Iraqi commanders with all authorities to execute this plan and to make tactical and operational decisions in consultation with U.S. Commanders without political intervention to include the authority to pursue all extremists including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has not made satisfactory progress toward providing Iraqi commanders with all authorities to execute this plan and to make tactical and operational decisions in consultation with U.S. Commanders without political intervention to include the authority to pursue all extremists including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.

11. Ensuring that Iraqi Security Forces are providing even-handed enforcement of the law.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has not at this time made satisfactory progress in ensuring that Iraqi Security Forces are providing even-handed enforcement of the law; however, there has been significant progress in achieving increased even-handedness through the use of coalition partnering and embedded-transition teams with Iraqi Security Force units.

12. Ensuring that, as Prime Minister Malaiki was quoted by President Bush as saying, “the Baghdad Security Plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation.”

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress in ensuring the Baghdad Security Plan does not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of their sectarian or political affiliations.

13. Reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq–with substantial Coalition assistance–has made satisfactory progress toward reducing sectarian violence but has shown unsatisfactory progress toward eliminating militia control of local security.

14. Establishing all of the planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq—with substantial Coalition assistance—has made satisfactory progress toward establishing the planned JSSs (joint security stations) in Baghdad.

15. Increasing the number of Iraqi security forces units capable of operating independently.

Assessment: The Iraqi Government has made unsatisfactory progress toward increasing the number of Iraqi Security Forces units capable of operating independently.

16. Ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.

17. Allocating and spending $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis.

Assessment: The Iraqi Government is making satisfactory progress in allocating funds to ministries and provinces, but even if the full $10 billion capital budget is allocated, spending units will not be able to spend all these funds by the end of 2007.

18. Ensuring that Iraq’s political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the ISF.
Assessment: The Government of Iraq has made unsatisfactory progress in ensuring that Iraq’s political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the ISF.

Conclusion: President Bush is telling us to wait until the final report on September 15th but it’s hard to imagine that the other 10 benchmarks will have made much progress, especially considering that the Iraqi Parliament is planning to take off the month of August. You can see Press Secretary Tony Snow’s remarks on this at his July 13th press briefing.

Q Is the Iraqi government and the Iraqi parliament taking the month of August off?

MR. SNOW: Probably, yes. Just not –

Q They’re taking the entire month of August off, before the September deadline?

MR. SNOW: It looks like they may, yes. Just like the U.S. Congress is.

Q Have you tried to talk them out of that?

MR. SNOW: You know, it’s 130 degrees in Baghdad in August, I’ll pass on your recommendation.

Q Well, Tony, Tony, I’m sorry, that’s — you know — I mean, there are a lot of things that happen by September and it’s 130 degrees for the U.S. military also on the ground –

MR. SNOW: You know, that’s a good point. And it’s 130 degrees for the Iraqi military. The Iraqis, you know, I’ll let them — my understanding is that at this juncture they’re going to take August off, but, you know, they may change their minds.


It’s going to be a long, hot summer.

The Good Samaritan and the Bad American

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

We subscribe to the San Diego Union Tribune mostly because it’s the only paper in town. We also read the Los Angeles Times and it’s so much better it almost hurts. On the other hand sometimes there is something good in the local rag and today was a good example. Steve Breen is the editorial cartoonist and had this cartoon in today’s paper.

Good Samaritan

Slamming Shut the Windows

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

When Blessed Pope John XXIII opened the Ecumenical Council of Vatican II on October 11, 1962 he said he wished to open the windows of the Catholic Church and let in some fresh air. It appears that the current pope, Benedict XVI, is continuing the tradition of his predecessor and is slamming shut those very same windows.

Last week word came down that Benedict XVI has loosened the regulations on the Tridentine (Latin) Mass. Previously a priest was required to obtain the permission of his bishop to celebrate the Tridentine mass publicly; now any priest can celebrate it when he wants. For us liberal Catholics this was “much ado about nothing” as most places have a Latin mass somewhere if you want to attend. Here in San Diego it’s celebrated each week at Holy Cross Cemetery. Conservatives and those who like the Latin Mass have complained that some bishops have not been cooperative in allowing congregations to attend Mass in Latin but I don’t think that’s true. I think these folk are going to find that it’s hard to find a priest who knows the Latin Mass; I know I never learned it.

But today we received the truly bad news from the Vatican. Previous to Vatican II it was generally taught that the Catholic Church was the only true Church and Protestants were misled. There was no serious dialogue with other Christian Churches and any ecumenism was based on the belief that when they come crawling back to us asking for forgiveness that we’ll accept them back. Vatican II taught that while the fullness of truth “subsists” in the Catholic Church, there is truth in other Churches (called “communities” in the official documents). From this teaching many denominations began to talk about Ecumenism, and talks started in the hope that someday all Christian Churches would one day be reunited. Today we read that the Pope has a different agenda. Last week the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Office of the Holy Inquisition) released a document called Responsa Ad Quaestiones De Aliquibus Sententiis Ad Doctrinam De Ecclesia Pertinetibus, or “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church” that does nothing but make things more difficult. It claims that the Catholic Church is the only true Church and that other religions are “defective” or “wounded” (depending on how the Latin is translated). It doesn’t say anything new, but it didn’t need to be done. All this does is demand that other Christians reply that this will hurt any dialogue and move us back. It will, in short, slam shut the windows that were bringing in fresh air. It’s also embarrassing to many of us faithful Catholics who have deep and enduring friendships with our Protestant sisters and brothers.

Remembering…

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

Last night several of us gathered to celebrate the birthday of Nancy’s brother Greg (whose birthday was actually Friday the 6th). We also commemorated the fact that yesterday was the 7th anniversary of the death of Nancy’s mother, Marion Graff. July 4th is also a reminder to me and my family of some of the tragic consequences of holiday celebration. My father’s brother Andrew (who was always called “Tonto”) drowned on July 4, 1964 after falling into a lake. My cousing Greg died July 4, 1977 in a single car accident coming home from a July 4th party. To this day I’m not a big fan of fireworks because I remember hearing the fireworks after getting the news of Greg’s death.