29 April 2005

[everything] Busy ^ 3

Turned in packaging project one...got an eye on upgrading to CS2, have to budget...need real live interview appearance apparel before Real Soon...dicing out packaging project two...putting portfolio together...Registering for AIGA Student Portfolio Show...getting sleep in there somehow...class on Friday...stilllooking at a 10-hour shift at the wage-producer...


26 April 2005

[us_politics] You See, We Told You, MSFT Is Evil

I mean, just look at who billg has on retainer. And recently it broke that MSFT has pulled a legislative fast one, on the down-low of course.

Links above from, respectively, AMERICAblog and TheStranger.com.

Props to Atrios, who remarked:
Maybe I'll switch to Mac after all...
Maybe you should, A. Macintosh: It just works, and none of your money will go to Ralph Reed.

At least as far as we can know.

[net_life] Gmail Marches On

Gmail has been dishonest in their recent advertising, I fear.

Recently it was announced that regular Gmailers were having thier online space doubled. It started as 1000MB (which was inaccurately promoted as 1GB-that's 1024MB, people, ask any real geek). In what was a very fun way of rolling it out, Google increased member's storage day by day, with a live update on the Gmail login page. Before long I was at 2000MB.

Then I was at 2048MB, an actual 2 Gig.

But it hasn't stopped. I'm now at 2,133MB. And it still seems to be going up.

Another thing I don't seem to be running out of are Gmail invites. I tried giving them away to friends, but after I give away a few, Google tops me back up.

I have 50 invites to give out. Anyone who wants one, just follow this posting. If things change, I'll repost on this subject.

PS:There are concerns about privacy and Gmail. Google has responded to them with this prospectus. I have so far used Gmail with no problems.
PPS: Yes, I was one of those who knew that the 21st Century began in 2001 and not 2000, but I held my opinion on that. I didn't want to harsh anyone's vibe.

23 April 2005

[pdx_airwaves] KPOJ, Of Late

The recent changes at KPOJ have brought a hint of personality to the station that I think it was lacking, and needed badly.

First-Thom Hartmann. After listening to him for a week, I've got to say, I'm glad he's here. Smart, hip, and quietly humorous (sure, he's not Marc Maron...but who is? Is Marc Maron even Marc Maron? Anyway.) It's good to hear Heidi Tauber and Paul Pimentel, and the local approach really leaves a mark with me. Had good guests on all week to welcome him, from the Governor to local lights, and he's got one of the greatest radio voices I've ever heard.

I'll look forward to seeing where this one goes.

Also, KPOJ has opened up to the Satellite Sisters on Saturday morning,in place of where Randi Rhodes used to be recycled. This is a good addition because it's good to take an occasional break from politically charged talk all the time (these days it can get might depressing, and where you stand on that one depends on where you sit). And there is a local connection-one of the Sisters is based here in Portland.

19 April 2005

[pope_watch] And We're Gonna Call His Holiness...

Pope Benedict XVI, according to CNN.

[pope_watch] We Have A Pope

It's 78-year old Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, of Baden-Baden Germany. This is a clear victory for the conserivative wing of the Roman Catholic Church.

More news to come, of course.

[pope_watch] Well, that was fast!

Just heard that the white smoke's been seen over the Sistine Chapel. New Pope to be announced any moment.

18 April 2005

[design] Surprise! Adobe assimilates Macromedia

Didn't see this one coming...

Read all about it!

This is monster. Adobe makes three of the most successful software tools in the designers toolbox...InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Photoshop is as near as no odds as being the standard to which similar programs aspire, Illustrator represents for Adobe in vector drawing, and InDesign is on the way to becoming the layout king. Macromedia, I need tell nobody really, gives us Dreamweaver, and of course there's Flash, which one finds everywhere and without which sites like homestarrunner.com would not be possible (or, in some cases, necessary).

The question I have is this: web design. Adobe has GoLive, which is technically brilliant but curiously non-intuitive (relatively speaking, when compared with the rest of the CS apps). Macromeda has Dreamweaver, which is an easier program to learn and use (I've done so) and thus is rightfully the dominant web design app on the market today.

So, what I'm wondering is, whither GoLive? Or will Adobe preserve the Macromedia mark and family? Stay tuned.

[design tools] Travels With FontForge

The following is a post I made to the Yahoo! Graphic Designers Resource Group

A while back, I asked a question about font composing programs. Not too far down the road I want to produce my own fonts and wanted to find that program that would help me do it.

I got a few good suggestions, but in the main, I was surprised at how little there actually seems to be available. Fontographer and FontLab were suggestion (thanks, guys!) and I checked them out, Fontographer is the grand old program of the two, and is still available, but apparently still works (for the Macintosh) in OS9, which means Classic Enviro if your running OS X. FontLab is a very very capable program that has more than the features that I want.

The obstacle here is price. Prosperity may or may not be just down the road for me, I dunno, but with Fontographer at $349 and FontLab at $549 I won't be going there just yet.

The search began for alternatives. It's astounding how very little there is out there for those who want to create type. FontLab has a lighter-weight app called "TypeTool" which I've tried out. It's a very capable little program that will produce TrueType and PS Type 1 but doesn't have at least one crucial deal breaker for me-I want to make drawings and import them to trace off. TypeTool does not do this. But, at $99, it runs well, looks good under OS X, and seems good for the beginner. My survey of it found that it wasn't terribly intuitive and if you want to get beginning help on the demo version...well, good luck. There's no online help at all.

So I ventured out onto the web again in hopes of finding an alternative. Like I said, there's not much. It took a while to locate, but I seem to have stumbled onto something.

Once upon at time, George Williams wrote a utility called PfaEdit. It has been updated and called "FontForge", and is available at
http://fontforge.sourceforge.net. It has much to speak for it. There are considerable ups and considerable downs.

Upsides: Cost (it's free). Versions available for Wintel, Sun, and OSX, both source (so you can compile it yourself if your sufficiently geeky) and compiled binary. You can generate PS Type 1, Type 3, TrueType for Win and Mac, SVG, OpenType. More range than I need right now actually. Interface very close to what I've seen of Fontographer, with familiar tools to create beziérs and all that. Also-imports graphics for tracing-sweet!

Downsides...well, here we go. It's neither OS X nor Win native. It's an application designed to run under X Windows, the unix gui windowing system. This means you have to let your inner geek out to implement it, or, if you have none, get one. For Windows this means you have to install an open-source gem called 'cygwin' (Google for this). OS X users have a bit of an easier go of it; if you installed all the OS X you've got the Developer Tools and that means you have X11 for Mac. If you run OpenOffice.org (as I do) you've already used it. So far as I've had the experience, X starts up automatically when you launch an X Window application.

Not only that, but you have to grok...at least a little...your file system. I have no experience with this under Windows, but I do know unix enough to get around the file system and I know OS X. Fontforge installs in one of the unix directories, though, that aren't displayed in the Finder window...you either have to navigate there in Terminal and do "open ." or get your TinkerTool on. I then created an alias and put it where I could easily find it.

Since the icon for a unix executable is so dreary I made a graphic for the alias. Gill sans, maj F next to min f, little drop shadow on a white background square. Looks cute down there in the dock. Anyway.

More geekery required. Once the app is launched I try to import a PNG from the tutorial and it don't go. Says it can't load dynamic library and that the file is bad. I find that you can import bmp's but not anything else unless you also install a few libraries-that handle tiffs, pngs, and jpegs, amongst others. MacOS versions of these are obtained through the Fink project, so I get Fink, download, install (wake up out there!) and download and install the libraries.

Still can't import the PNGs. Humph.

Subscribe to the developers mailing list. Correspond with the app's author, who says that ff doesn't look where it's supposed to for these libraries and you have to set an environment variable to make ff look in the right place...or recompile ff with a patch. I go for the simple solution, which is the environment variable.

So, now it's working. Got my inner geek out to play (never was much of a coder but can hold my own in some geekery situations), and I'm ready to learn the app and compose some really killer fonts.

I'll be coming out with the next Gill Sans any. day. now.

14 April 2005

[us_politics] It's Law: The Credit Card Companies 0wnz0r You Now

This just in: The "Screw the Working Class"...ehr, sorry...the "Bankruptcy Bill" just passed the House.

Now, creditors can jack up your interest rates because of late fees beyond 30 percent. Now credit card companies can jack up your interest rates because of late payments on your other bills (you didn't know this? Go Google up "universal default" and when it sinks in, get back to me. No, no, on second thought, go get that second job, or curl up in the corner and cry, whatever works for you). And when you get in over your head because you got huge medical bills, you can't find any work, and you're at the end of your rope. you are going to have to go in front a judge who will make you do a means test and most likely force you into a repayment plan, which will amount to being on a debt treadmill for the rest of your life regardless of what you do.

And they can market you incessantly to get even more credit cards so they can get even more hooks in you. However, unlike working class addicts, they get to shift the blame and take no responsiblity.

No more fresh starts for the working guy. They sure loved us when they needed to get into power. Now we are The Enemy.

If you voted GWB, this is what you voted for. How'd'ja like it so far?

The vote in the House: 302 to 176.
73 Democrats voted in favor of business against thier constituents (unless business is thier constituent). Republicans all voted yes; no surprises there.

On the side of the angels and the working class:
  • Blumenauer (good on ya)
  • DeFazio (always solidly on the side of the little guy)

On the side of Democrats voting Republican to cover thier ass, forgetting that, in a race between a Republican and a fake Republican, the Republican will win:
  • Hooley
  • Wu

On the side of Republicans who're screwing thier constituents, who, in this case, are ranchers and farmers who are barely getting by in this tenuous economic climate:
  • Walden

Remember, everyone it's an ownership society. Me, I'm going to find my owner before we get divvied up. I'd rather choose mine than have one choose me.

[or_politics] The Oregon Supreme Court Decision

I just can't ignore the fact that the real defending of marriage needs to be done from the people who the conventional wisdom seems to acknowledge are most entitled to it: heterosexuals. You know, breeders.

Rogues gallery:

  • Britney Spears, who treats marriage like a personal playtoy.

  • What seems to be the majority of the self-righteous Republican political leadership on this issue, who seem to have been married more than once.

  • Newt Gingrich, who left one of his wives on a cancer treatment bed to marry a younger aide (why, again, do people look to this man for moral leadership?)

  • Ellizabeth Taylor

  • Cher, in her early years

It strikes me as hypocritical for people in power who can't come up with a successful marriage to then go out and lecture everyone, but everyone, about who should get marriend, and possibly how.

And how can I pass up mentioning Arthur Finkelstein...the heavy Republican operative who furthered a party which strove to nose it into everybody's bedrooms, to say who should have civil rights between consenting adults and who shouldn't, whisked himself and his man off to eeeeville Massachusetts to get a marriage.

This is another part of the poison that's contaiminating America these days. These high and powerful people feel they have the perfect right to tell us regular folks what to do and where to go and who to do it with...to define our lives...whilst they reserve the same freedoms we all thought we had to themselves. You see..the powerful really are different.

Feeling like peons yet?

If you don't feel like objecting to what these people are doing to gays, then watch and at least keep strict notes. Because once gays are subdued as a scapegoat, they'll go looking for others. They always do.

[pdx_airwaves] This Just In: KPOJ Getting Live Local AM Talker

Just heard a promo over the radio, and haven't seen this menched much elsewhere, which I find curious, but here goes:

According to KPOJ's promos, as of next Monday we're getting a live liberal talker, broadcasting from KPOJ itself, 0600-0900. The host will be Thom Hartmann, who is apparently relocating here from Vermont. To make way, the Morning Sedition will be moving from its current slot to the 0300-0600 time frame. The upside to that is, locals will hear Marc and Mark live for the first time, and that is actually kind of an improvement for major local radio- when it comes to current news and events rerun programs tend to dominate.

I am encouraged by this but also puzzled. Thom Hartmann will be a good fit; he is a solid progressive thinker with considerable intellectual throwweight (check his website here, check out his bio, and the books he's written). He seems to be acknowledged as a rising progressive writing and broadcasting star. Moreover, he says things that make sense and can be unpopular, saying the unsayable that has to be heard.

There are things that make me go "hmmm" though. There is a strong thread on what is called "Neruo-Linguistic Programming" which he has woven into his syndicated show. While it has a history of practice stretching back to the mid-70s and a community of committed professionals it also has skeptical objections. That being said, as far as I know, it hasn't hurt anybody, at least not so far as has been heard. The worry I have is that this would become part of the Portland broadcast, and my honest opinion is that it wouldn't be wise. I think the priority of a local AM progressive talker should be local issues, and not forwarding a therapy program, good, bad, or otherwise. We lefties are hungry for real Lars-less talk about real local issues.

Another puzzler is, why the sudden relocation from Vermont to Oregon? Not that I think he has poor taste in moves, mind. It seems fairly precipitous. Perhaps it's just me not being familiar with how the radio business works. If KPOJ wanted star power, they found it, that's for sure.

Despite my discomfiture, however, I'm perfectly willing to give him a chance. Last time KPOJ was worth listening to was when it went from music to talk, whilst it was still over at 1501 SW Jefferson, called itself KGW 620-The Talk Station, and was home to one of the many lives of Ralph Steadman. I missed that show....

I'll only get to listen to the 0800-0900 hour of the show on Monday. But I will be listening!

12 April 2005

[pcc_life] Tales from the Breach:Whiners

In a class I had quite recently, the teacher had to clamp down on the chatter. It was noticeable and irritating for me, too.

She had to get kind of rude about it. It worked and class could proceed.

After the lecture she had to leave for a few minutes and we students were left to thier own devices. Many of us got to work on our projects. Some moaned about her behavior whilst she was out of the room.

The nature of the whiners was something like: The nerve! She had no right to talk at me like that! If it would've gone on much longer i'd of given here a piece of my mind, that's for sure!

Okay, maybe I'm old school but that attitude really, really bothers me. Gets under my skin. You see, teachers come in many types, many temperaments. Unless that teacher is out-and-out insulting you for no good reason, though, or doing something that is clearly out of line, we ought to be doing what that teacher is saying...and if we've been put in our place, in a behavioral context, we need to address what it was we are doing that is causing the instructor to get all rude on us.

During my training in design, I had an epiphany early on. I think I've writtien on this before, but I rarely review what I write. Anyway, I soon saw that each instructor I had, whilst training toward a common goal, had different ways of looking at the same thing...and they brought that into thier instruction. This obstacle is an unexpected gift. For, in the future, I will hopefully have a range of clients or bosses that give me work, and here's my chance to learn how to communicate with a range of people in person, and to learn how to do it efffectively.

Since the first term of design, I've thought of my instructors as my clients, in a way.

So, when I interface with an instructor, I try to assay what kind of student they hope to teach to, and try to become that target. I refuse to acknoweldge this as mere 'sucking up', because when I'm on the instructor's wavelength, I am most apt to recieve thier message...and that's what I'm there for, anyway.

So, if I'm addressed as being to noisy...I button up, and figure what it was I was doing wrong, and figure out another way to do it if it was something I needed to do.

And I don't whine if I think my dignity has been affronted.

[sundial_life] Raydidio on the Internets

In a way, thank God for mp3 files. They make it possible for me hear radio programs that I'd otherwise miss.

Of course, under this economy, I can't afford other than dialup. No broadband for this city mouse, at least not yet. Anyway, I've had an addiction to Air America's Mike Malloy of late. There are two places to download his broadcasts if you've missed them.

One is Air America Place, which seems to be blog/message board/audio archive adjunct to AAR. They got lots of archived shows. Each mp3 file of Malloy is about 12.9MB, however, which is about an hour's dowload time, more or less, on dialup. If I don't get dumped because I tried to load a graphics-intensive web page.

The other is The White Rose Society. Named for the White Rose Society that resisted the Nazis in Germany by distributing leaflets criticising Hitler and his cronies during WWII, the spread the news by archving a whole armload of progressive talk. They archive not just the show, however, but all the commercials: a Malloy stored by White Rose has a throwweight ov just over 30MB. Download time over dialup: completely out of the question.

It's actually a pity. I enjoy the commercials I hear on radio, with some exceptions. You see, it's alarming, but true: you really are judged by the words you use.

But, at least I get to hear Malloy I miss. Better than nothing.

10 April 2005

[meme] Saturday Slant: Recent Scare

And, now, for this week's question:
In the last two years, what was the scariest moment you recall? It’s a simple question, loaded with implications. I won’t contaminate the results by providing examples. Be as honest as your conscience (and readership) warrants.

That's easy. But, with all due respect to the Grand Slantmaster, I'm changing the rules on this one just a small amount. I'm going back three years. It's relevant.

So, there I was, sitting in the Clackamas Red Robin with The Wife[tm], and I'm enjoying my favorite and least guilt-ridden item on the menu, the turkey burger (it really is quite excellent, folks, you oughta checkitout). Be it duly noted that I am largely erasing whatever benefits I'm bestowing upon myself by liberally partaking of the bottomless steak fries, because, yummmmmm, steak fries.


I'm sitting there, and all of a sudden I get this...feeling. There's an emptyness in the chest, and there's a hitch in my breathing. Now, I'm a bit of hypochondriac, and it comes out at the oddest times. Like this one.

Crap, I think, am I having a heart attack?

When the panic finally consumes me, I gulp down two asprin and ask The Wife[tm] to signal for help. The medics show up soon after, and I'm loaded up into the ambulance and whisked off to Providence Milwaukie and duly examed. I get this horrid tasing orange-colored beverage that is loaded with potassium and wait whilst they take readings and look me over.

They are nice people and work efficiently and quick. There are definitely worse places to find oneself in in a percieved medical emergency than the E/R at Prov Milwauke. Please make a note of it.

I get a chest X-Ray.

Long story short, nothing. I'm okay. There isn't even any reason to keep me there. I'm released in about an hour and a half. The Wife[tm] and I go for a ride, pick up a bottle of rum at the Liquor Store at King Road and Southeast 82nd Avenue, and we make ready for a drive to see SCA friends in Idaho Falls next day (we amounted to the An Tirian ambassadors to the royal court of Artemisia, but that's another story).

Ever since then, I've been a little less afraid to try things. They say you only get one go-around, and I suspect it's true, but until you have to really think am I dying, you just kind of rationalize it all. It's just a philosphical conceit until you get stuck in such a situation.

Until that time I was toying with the idea to go back to school and studying art or design. Before long after that incident I was registered for classes.

Sure, it's kind of cliche'd. But many (if not all) cliches, I think, have thier basis in authentic human behavior. People who have had health scares realize that they may only have one chance at it and characters do change. Ever wonder why Larry King is always on the radio advertising anything that may give you a few extra minutes of life? He's probably still devastated after he was declared clinically dead for a few minutes during one of his heart events and didn't see any light at the end of the tunnel. Nothing. So, depending on your POV, he's either going to the bad place (which might very well be the Plaid Pantry at the corner of North Interstate and Going) or just going out into oblivion at the end. His behavior seems very desparate to me. But I digress.

Others of us act to try and achieve some goals that we've been putting off in the interest of comfort for a very very long time. And for me, that was to let my inner artist and designer out. I've always wanted to carve a niche for myself, and this seems to be the way; with the writing and editing I'm doing lately, it seems to be paying off.

Of course, I hope there'll be more. I desparately want more; if I leave this mortal coil having little else to show for my productive life than the last twelve years at a place I'm not so proud of, then I will close my eyes at the last being a very disappointed man.

Another cliche' is, that you'll never know what can happen if you don't try and strive, and at least, I'll know that I did positively and constructively try something.

(PS:no, I apparently have no heart problems at present. And, as far as I can tell, I'm nowhere near death).

06 April 2005

[geography] Street Name Blues

Here's something, from Bend area blog Utterly Boring that is something only address nerds like myself can love.

Click this link to read a short story about the renaming of a certain street in central Bend, which is apparently the start of what may turn out to be a citywide street name regularization.

These things are usually brought on when residents and local officials notice that the idea of picturing a location in town, or giving a newcomer or tourist directions, is a bit of a problem. Without a coherent street-naming rationale, developers can-and do-name the streets in the subdivisions they build anything they want. This happened in 1900-1930's Portland, after the merger of the original three towns of Portland, East Portland, and Albina into one City of Portland. There were armfuls of duplicated street names because nobody cared to control them.

As Portland grew in the first three decades of the 20th Century, duplicate names were gradually eliminated and an ad-hoc system of names and address evolved. In 1933, according to Eugene E Synder, the present system of N, NE, SW, SE, NW was established. I'll not go over the process now, that's for another entry. Suffice it to say that it made any address in Portland more intuitively findable..not pefectly so, but good enough so that newcomers could get round with a minimum of confusing directions.

About seven or eight years back, a similar system, resulting in street names sounding similar to those in Portland, was insituted in McMinnville when it was found that it wasn't intuituively obvious were in town any given street was, when mentioned off-the-cuff. Now, with NW,NE,SW,SE address sectors, you at least know what part of town to be looking in.

Now it's Bend's turn. The city has grown outward immensely from even its 1980s bounds; the street names tend to change unintuitively (the example in the Bulletin, Hill Street, is being changed to Wall Street to reflect the street that it feeds into from the main drag). Additionally, the city address grid is quadranted in the way discribed for McMinnville and Portland, but that system, which is somewhat unintuitive because it's baselines are the railroad and two east-west named streets that line up (but on opposite sides of town, peters out now before you get to the city limits.

A good street name system and address grid does a few things for you; gives you an idea of where you are in town in relation to a center; gives an orderly progression of addresses, from which you can reason which directions you are going in relation to that center, and is consistent-that is, names behave in predictable ways in most cases. Ideally that center is in a notable and logical location-most Oregon towns have addresses that radiate in all directions out from a locus that is usually located in the city center, and address base on notable baselines that more or less converge on and extend out from that center (rivers, renowned streets, and the like).

It makes things in the city findable. I'm hoping Bend comes up with a good rationale, and sticks to it.

[design, sundial_life] Doors Ajar

The activity I've been making for myself is, yes, starting to pay off, just a little.

QuarkVsInDesign.com. 'Nuff said there.

And, since Adobe has announced the release of CS2 I can intimate that I've known of some these things for a while (see the post about two-three back where I announce the announcment). I don't think I can say why just yet, but I can say that I've been liking what I've been seeing.

I'm also Tech Editing the first chapter on Pariah's Illustrator CS2 book. It's quite an educational experience, I'll tell you, going through all of this. Tests and expands my Illustrator knowledge and it's like I get Pariah training me, which is just gravy, no doubt about that.

And all along I'm wondering what's next, is anything next, what's next?

[pcc_life] Tales from the Breach:Swimmingly, So Far

Am moving forward into that ultimate term of PCC Graphic Design training. Am quite amazed at what it's prepared me for...but more on that later.

The GD6 course is running along fine, so far. The first project...the product is dirt. We get to make it look good!

Here's the deal: the notional client wants to sell dirt. They want to sell it in three varieties to two markets in each; six different ways. The first one, Dert, is for kiddies. Perfect for making mudpies, building mud cities, invading mudcountries. The second one, Durt, is down-to-business, industrial grade fill. The third one, Düyrt, is your basic, high-end, 'gourmet' product, for tasteful landscaping, fine gardening, and cordon-bleu mudpies.

The point here seems to be unity across a range. The question to be answered is, given a range of objects to be sold or marketed, how to make them unmistakably related whilst still asserting each's appropriate individuality. I'm going for a solution that uses layout to make the unifying connection, type and simple graphics to define the economic stratum (kids/low-end, adults/middle-end, toff/high-end), and color to indicate gender-based market slant.

To be honest, I have a little trouble with the standard blue-for-boys/pink-for-girls sterotype. But in our culture, it IDs the gender line like nothing else. This is playing the hand you're dealt, working in the seeming-societal verities that one is supplied.

The real triumph of the past few days was the portfolio class. however. Even as I evaluate portfolio cases and decide which way to go in that direction, I have a range of projects already that I can start to work into portfolio pieces.

The instructor, Precious (I love saying that for some bizarre reason) requires that we have a minimum of ten projects for display. In my selection of what I thought of as best, she found eleven. Moreover, the star piece was a poster I did to illustrate the term project I did for Geography of Oregon class last term...friends,this thing was a one-off, a knock-off, a tossaway, and it somehow distilled everything good I've been struggling to learn and apply about design into one lodestone for the rest.

There's a moment when everyone knows that they've accompilished something. And there are other nice things happening to me right now. But this one had me coming home on tiptoes with a grin on my face, something The Wife[tm] couldn't help but react to, and The Day Job tends to wipe the smile off my face on a fairly regular basis.

04 April 2005

[design] Adobe Creative Suite 2 Arrives!


1. QuarkVsInDesign.com:Creative Suite 2 Announced
2. QuarkVsInDesign.com:Top 10 New InDesign CS2 Features
3. R. Allan White on CS2's Release
4. Adobe Creative Suite 2 Main Site:Read about it, Preorder it

A new way to tie the products together...an new way to get stock photography...live trace...PSD layer support...read all about it, people!

More thoughts later. Pressed for time.

Props as always to Pariah S. Burke, without whom much would be impossble. Allan just has a cooly-designed site, and you all should check it out.

02 April 2005

[meme] Saturday Slant: A Different Kind of Question

Here is that question:
What does the passing of Pope John Paul II mean to you?

As a so called "lapsed" Catholic (born, baptised, confirmed) I feel compelled-no, obliged-to answer this question.
When I think of John Paul II I think along two lines.

The positive aspects...the numerous pilgrimages he conducted, the immense popular support where he traveled, the sheer vitality and activity of the man...I shouldn't have to detail too much. As a (still) semi-disenchanted Catholic, I must say that the general positive face he put on the Roman Catholic church was inspiring and encouraged me to look upon the Church with a good face even when I felt farthest away from it. His towering stature and his influence, the span of his tenure-27 years, the longest of any Pope in memory, all these will combine to a historical feature that will be called John Paul the Great.

Seriously. There's been academic buzz about the way historians will refer to him. Look forward to seeing his name in print that way, if not now, in future.

The negative aspect...I will be direct and honest. As someone sympathetic to the Roman Catholic Church, I think his conservatism hurt in a certain way, rather than helped. There are actually lay factions within the Church which seem to have formed because of his conservative stance or were reinforced by them (Opus Dei) or as loyal oppostion (Voice of the Faithful). Whilst it is foolish to expect utter unity in such a huge population (over 1 billion avowed members in numerous countries and even in differing Catholic traditions) i despair over the power that the Pope had to heal and to promote general unity, which he did not use.

The writings of Gary Wills (I recommend) suggest that the big guns in the Church are just as political as any temporal authority, and are just as willing to play both ends against the middle as any temporal political authority is. But then, as I mentioned elsewhere, whether one finds the Church divinely guided or not, they are an organization of humans, and humans are as humans do-flawed, mistaken, prone to misunderstanding, arbitrary and sometimes cruel in the name of a greater good.

The other thing that JPII missed was the chance to effect real change in the matter of the recent child abuse scandals here in America. The Pope was usually given a pass on this, the matter being seen as a mishandling laid at the feet of the American Catholic bishops. And this may be true and valid. But as the Man In Charge, the Pope could have, and should have, done something. He could have promoted healing and revitalized the church by doing the right thing, giving a sense of direction from the top. Nothing ever came from him. A big chance was missed here.

I look to the future with a sense of apprehension and hope. Who will be the next pope? It won't be an American. It may be a Hispanic or African bishop. It could certainly be an Italian. He may be as conservative as JPII, in fact, that's what I expect.

I, like many, will miss John Paul II. There are things I wish he'd done; but I enjoy and appreciate what he did do as much as my heart aches for what he didn't.