From the people who brought you this:
So here’s the skinny: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on what is believed to be the site of both the Crucifixion and the temporary tomb of Jesus, has been hit with a $2.1 million water bill from an Israeli water company. It seems that the church had been granted a unique exemption from paying for such utilities, but now, for whatever reason, it must make up for literally decades of past usage.
The Greek Orthodox Church, which oversees the operation of the site, is refusing to pay up. And so:
Its bank accounts have been blocked because of the dispute, according to Maariv, leaving the church unable to pay its priests or expenses, including electricity and telephone bills.
“Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III has spoken (to church officials) about taking measures… in protest at Israeli actions against the church,” said Dimitri Diliani, president of the National Christian Coalition in the Holy Land.
“He is consulting with the heads of churches to take the drastic measure of shutting down the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” Diliani, a Greek Orthodox Palestinian, told AFP.
“It’s not a matter of money, it’s a change in the status quo that has protected the church for hundreds of years, it’s a way to pressure the churches and to introduce new Israeli-designed measures,” said Diliani.
Jerusalem and other locales where Jesus and the disciples walked are certainly of historical interest, as Christianity is rooted in a very specific history. But when it comes to “holy” sites and pilgrimages and such, well, I’ve written about that here and feel no need to repeat myself.
What I wish someone would repeat is why this exemption policy has been reversed suddenly — and why anyone would expect even a church with extensive land holdings simply to cough up more than $2 million without warning.
The General Secretary of the Patriarchate, Archbishop of Constantina Aristarchos, . . . said the church was willing to pay water bills from now on, but that the accumulated debt, stemming back years, would be problematic.
“We trust God and hope that people will help us,” he said, adding that the Patriarchate has sent letters to Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Maariv said that for decades there had been a tacit agreement between the church and a former mayor of Jerusalem, exempting the Patriarchate from paying for water piped to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
A spokesman for [water company] Hagihon, however, said the law did not permit the company to make such exemptions.
And so it waited decades to say something?
There’s something fishy going on here.
Oh, which reminds me: the first person to comment referencing Jesus’s walking on water, stilling the waters, turning water into wine, being the only source of living water is banned from this blog for 20 minutes.
And no, I’m not talking about the TSA, so get your mind out of your packets.
Now you knew that Google was watching you. And Apple, too. And Homeland Security. And the black helicopters. And your mother. And the angels. And the man in the moving picture box, whom we’ll call “Herb” for the sake of this post.
Now Verizon is getting into the act.
Verizon Wireless has begun selling information about its customers’ geographical locations, app usage, and Web browsing activities, a move that raises privacy questions and could brush up against federal wiretapping law.
The company this month began offering reports to marketers showing what Verizon subscribers are doing on their phones and other mobile devices, including what iOS and Android apps are in use in which locations. Verizon says it may link the data to third-party databases with information about customers’ gender, age, and even details such as “sports enthusiast, frequent diner or pet owner.”
“We’re able to view just everything that they do,” Bill Diggins, U.S. chief for the Verizon Wireless marketing initiative, told an industry conference earlier this year. “And that’s really where data is going today. Data is the new oil.”
Did you read that? The new “oil.” Black gold. Texas tea. The soft soap. The viscous beslaver.
Verizon Wireless says that its initiative, called Precision Market Insights, is legal because the information is aggregated and doesn’t reveal customers’ identities. Also, the company says, its customers can opt out at any time.
Yeah, right. That’s what my accountant told me about “taxes.”
It’s true, of course, that any company selling Internet connectivity needs to know the destination of packets so it can route them properly, a practice sometimes referred to as shallow packet inspection.
But monitoring which mobile apps customers are using and which URLs are visited typically means engaging in deep packet inspection, which is controversial because it’s more intrusive. …
Ryan Radia, associate director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank, agrees with the EFF’s Fakhoury that disclosing aggregated URLs visited can be legally risky. “If Verizon Wireless discloses the URLs you’ve accessed without your consent, it has violated (the Wiretap Act) — even if Verizon Wireless doesn’t disclose any other identifying information,” Radia said.
A company with deep packets can get away with almost anything. But you knew that already.
So what are we going to do about this? [crickets] That’s what I thought. I know I ain’t goin’ back to T-Mobile. The last time I got a signal from them, it was to hear that Clinton had been impeached.
Just so long as it’s Verizon Wireless and not Verizon FIOS. If I wanted to pay $1,100 a month for my TV to watch me, I’d start dressing better.
So the author of the bestselling Friday Night Lights (made into both a very good movie and a very good TV series) decided to out himself as a Romney supporter — in the virtual pages of the Daily Beast.
“I would say between the Daily Beast comments, Twitter comments, Facebook comments … I ran about 6-1 against,” Bissinger said. “And it wasn’t just, you know, ‘I disagree’ with you. It was the f-word, it was ‘you’re a baby killer.’ It was even friends, among friends it wasn’t as vitriolic. It was this sense of, ‘How dare you, you’re traitor. You’re a writer. You’re a journalist. How can you possibly come out in favor of this man.’”
Bissinger told host Howard Kurtz, who is the Washington bureau chief at The Daily Beast, that the reactions to his column convinced him that there is a liberal bias in the media.
“There’s no doubt in my mind there’s a definite liberal bias in the mainstream media. You take out Fox [News] and MSNBC, which is staked at the right and the left, there is a liberal bias. You are simply not expected, when you’re a journalist and a writer, to endorse a Republican. And don’t tell me it does not seep into the coverage.
I’m certainly not going to tell him it does not seep into coverage. Are you going to tell him it does not seep into coverage? Well, I suggest you don’t tell him it does not seep into coverage.
We may need to create a rehab house for celebs and media folk who declare their support of Romney. You know, some place that will help them find new jobs, remake their online profiles, resupply depleted Twitter followers and Facebook friends, come to terms with their destructive habits. Like thinking a democracy implies more than one candidate.
Darn him to heck! As if his pontificating wasn’t bad enough — he has to shorten everyone’s life? Damn straight there was reason for a Reformation! I WANT THOSE DAYS!
By the mid-1570s, the Julian Calendar established in 45 B.C. was 10 days behind the real seasons of the year. The spring equinox was actually occurring on March 12 or thereabouts, and Easter (set by a formula based on an arbitrary March 22 equinox date) was falling too late in the real springtime.
All this happened because the Earth year is about 11 minutes short of the 365¼ days set by Julius Caesar. It’s really 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 46 seconds. If the drift kept up, Easter would eventually have been observed in the summer, and Christmas in the spring.
So Pope Gregory XIII appointed a commission to tweak the Julian Calendar. Under the leadership of physician Aloysius Lilius and Jesuit astronomer Christopher Clavius, the commission consulted with scientists and clergy. After wrestling with various ideas for half a decade, the commission proposed eliminating three leap years in every 400 (years ending in 00, unless they are divisible by 400).
That would prevent further creep of the calendar against the seasons (except for a minuscule under-correction). But resetting the calendar so the equinox would come in late March needed a more drastic solution: 10 days would have to be skipped, erased, eradicated, obliterated, wiped out of existence.
The commission sent its report to the pope Sept. 14, 1580. He issued a papal bull on Feb. 24, 1582, declaring that the new calendar would go into force in October (when there were few holy days), and that 10 days would be skipped. The day after Oct. 4 would be called not Oct. 5, but Oct. 15.
This was short notice, even for Catholic countries willing to comply with the pope. Only Italy, Spain and Portugal were fully ready by October.
Oh. No excuse.
Many people thought their lives were being shortened by 10 days. The pious worried that the saints might not listen to prayers that came 10 days “later” than the traditional saints’ days. Everyone’s birthday moved to a calendar date 10 days later, too, so 365 days would pass between one birthday and the next. Rents, interest and wages had to be recalculated for a month that had a mere 21 days.
Boy, people were stupid back then…
The hardy Prots in Britain and the Colonies held out for the old ways until 1752, at which point everyone woke up 10 days late for work. And those dentists appointments it took so long to book? Well, these are Brits. What dentist appointments?
As for the Russians, it was the miserable, filthy Communists who sided with Greg 13, making the move to the new calendar in 1918. But history never meant much to them anyway. Monday, Friday, 1918, 2042 — Oceania is at war with Eastasia, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia…
This issue, for what it’s worth, has a nice little video of Gay Talese in his compound, or wine cellar office. Talese, as you may or may not know, is the author of what was voted the best magazine article of all time: “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” a forerunner of the New Journalism practiced by such writers as Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe, and Hunter S. Thompson (who spun off his own distinct brand, gonzo journalism).
Imagine my surprise to learn that an agent of the federal government has admitted to stealing from unsuspecting citizens! Feigned gasp!
A former TSA agent who spent three years in prison for stealing from passengers’ luggage says the practice is “commonplace.”
Pythias Brown admits to stealing more than $800,000 worth of cash, clothing and electronics over a four-year period at Newark Liberty International Airport. He was finally caught trying to sell a stolen CNN camera on eBay.
“It became so easy, I got complacent,” Brown told ABC News.
Though Brown says he might have been one of the biggest thieves at the Transportation Security Administration, he believes the agency has a culture of entitlement — and of looking the other way.
“It was so easy. One day I walked out of there with the video game, the Nintendo Wii. I walked right out of the checkpoint with the Nintendo Wii in my hand,” he said.
TSA agents on the take justify their actions, he explained.
“They aren’t paying me, they’re treating me wrong. They’re doing this and they’re doing that. And they just don’t care,” he said of some of his former colleagues.
Almost 400 agents have been fired for theft since 2003.
Critics of the TSA say the alleged culture of theft comes as little surprise.
“TSA is probably the worst personnel manager that we have in the entire federal government,” Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican and chairman of the House Transportation Committee, told ABC.
Well, if a congressman can’t recognize the rankest kind of pilfery… Who has his hand in your pockets more than an elected official of the federal government? No one, unless it’s an elected official from California. Or my uncle from Beachwood. But that’s another story.
I suggest you follow my lead. First off, all my carry-on luggage is locked and wrapped securely in fluorescent duct tape, with “Radioactive” stickers placed prominently on all sides. An exhaustive list of all contents is polybagged with each suitcase, along with pictures of the agents handling the bags, which I snap with my cellphone at check-in and slide beneath the transparency so I can identify the plunderers.
Next, after dropping my wallet, keys, loose change, sphygmomanometer, compass, flares, nitroglycerin tablets and other chewables, nunchaku, and St. Christopher’s medal* into the plastic receptacle that is then conveyed through X-ray, I step back, open my jacket to reveal several binders of C4 strapped to my chest (but over my Capt. America Underoos), and announce in a loud voice that I am prepared to blow myself to the hell of psoriatic census takers if so much as a blue M&M** is missing from among my personal belongings.
Works like a charm. Have yet to lose a single item. I’ve never managed to board a plane, but you pay a price no matter what you do.
*Lest my Reformation-minded readers gasp, I have found that such amulets, when filed into irregular shapes, make keen throwing darts, like Chinese stars. St. Clair is particularly good for aiming at the eyes. Don’t know why.
**Did you know that the dye used in making blue M&Ms is useful in reducing spinal injuries? Junk food? I think not.