Sunday, January 23, 2011

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?, Dept.

A mantra that your sobsister has heard at any number of jobs over the years is "Do more with less."  Although its nuances shift according to the sector, decade and location, what it basically means is this: We don't have the resources to do what needs to be done in a way that doesn't strain you few poor bastards who are charged with the task's completion.  That we do not could certainly be attributable to the fact that we didn't plan this all too well.  Or to the fact that we don't care about your particular task, ostensibly necessary as it is, so we shifted resources to something entirely unrelated that will yield us more visible results that we can then trumpet to advertise our efficiency, efficacy and splendor.  Or to the fact that we despise you, at least a little, as the incarnated reminder of responsibilities or functions that we do not care to be reminded we still possess like vestigial tails or vermiform appendices.

At any rate, it now appears that doing more with less is not restricted to the lower 48.  And, no, I do not refer to the fact that Sarah Palin has done quite remarkably well for someone with a walnut-sized brain.  *ha ha!*  Gratuitous swipes are the best.  And stolen kisses are the sweetest.  Or so I am told.  No, I refer to Il Vaticano, home of the 14-inch meat-lovers' wafer.  For that august body has been having to do more with less for some long time now.  (And, at least today, I am not making reference to their doing more boybuggery with less supervision.  Although, in denying the reference, I make it.  That's called "language.")

You see, back in 1983, Pope John Paul II abolished the office of the advocatus diaboli, better known to Keanu Reeves fans as "the devil's advocate."  His reasons for doing so are unclear, to me at least.  The devil's advocate--officially known as the promotor fidei, or "promoter of the faith"--serves, in the words of the old Catholic Encyclopedia, "to prepare in writing all possible arguments, even at times seemingly slight, against the raising of any one to the honours of the altar. The interest and honour of the Church are concerned in preventing any one from receiving those honours whose death is not juridically proved to have been "precious in the sight of God."  JP II, very old-skool pontiff that he was, would seem an unlikely actor in the abolition of a 400-year-old office.

But, then, JP II also beatified 1,340 people and canonized 483 saints, "more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the last five centuries," according to Wikipedia.  Around Choc City, we call that "removing a procedural bottleneck."  And, as with any such initiative, given enough time, we see how it comes around to scratch the originator's back.  (Along with those of 483 other people whose face and figure you won't be seeing on traveler's medals any time soon.  Although the face of Opus Dei cult founder, Josemaría Escrivá, might be found burnt into the leather handles of the whips with which his reactionary zombies followers flagellate themselves.)

Because, earlier this month, news reports surfaced that JP II is himself due to be beatified on May 1.  His successor approved as the qualifying miracle the spontaneous cure of a nun named Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, whose Parkinson's disease miraculously miracled itself out of existence after she prayed to JP II two months after his death.  I'll let the BBC continue:
Church-appointed doctors agreed that there was no medical explanation for the curing of the nun, although last year there were some doubts about the validity of the miracle.
A Polish newspaper said that a doctor who scrutinised the nun's case had concluded that she might have been suffering not from Parkinson's, but from a nervous disorder from which temporary recovery is medically possible.
Let's see if I've got this straight: a Catholic nun--a reliably disinterested party if I've ever seen one--claims that her Parkinson's was cured by prayer to JP II.  There were doubts about the validity of this "miracle," understandable given the fact that it sounds, in medical terms, entirely made up.

So, it seems that what this situation needed was another pair of eyes--someone to investigate the situation and report on the veracity of the cure with a particular eye to debunking any false claims that might somehow benefit the cause of the late pope's pending beatification, a sort of "advocate," if you will, against beatification.  Yes.  The man who benefited most from the abolition of the position of devil's advocate is the one who abolished the position of devil's advocate.  Ironic, isn't it?  Like ray-ee-ain on your wedding day.

And G*d only knows how many other people found themselves whoopsied into sainthood due to the absence of the devil's advocate.  I can't imagine that the aforementioned Escrivá would have had such a lubed entrance into the fraternity of the elect if someone had been standing at the gate and examining his papers.

But, hey, it's all good.  The RC church isn't about demonstrable facts.  It's not even about internal consistency.  Currently, it's about being a lawyered-up cross between the Mafia and Blackwater, with a little American Idol-style bottom-up mobocracy thrown in to keep the hoi polloi interested.  So, yeah, clear some space on your dashboard for soon-to-be Saint John Paul II, patron saint of expeditious transactions, few or no questions asked.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Less Taste, More Filling, Dept.

Having walked past the windows of the Forever 21 in downtown Choc City every day for some months now, I think I've hit upon their design secret for conveying the chain's unique fashion philosophy.

1) Eyes closed, reach into a large box and pick any five articles of clothing.
2) Dress mannequin with said articles.
3) Repeat until all the mannequins are dressed.
4) Done!

Yes, by just following these simple instructions, you too can dress a store window to feature a "look" situated somewhere between Mad Max and Barely Legal. And not in a good way.

So, hats off to Forever 21 for showing young men and women that they don't need "taste" or an "eye for style" to work in the fashion industry! Next up: Food Network's Sandra Lee demonstrates how lacking the will or skill to cook didn't prevent her from becoming a successful TV "chef"!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Everything Old Is New Again, Dept.

Auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.
They rob, slaughter, plunder--and label it "empire."  They make a wasteland and call it "peace."
       -Tacitus, Agricola

So, how does 2011 look for the model Jeffersonian democracies of Iraq and Afghanistan? 
The Hot White North, Dept.

Well, Happy New Year to those of you employing the Gregorian calendar to mark the ineluctable passage of time and the slow march to the grave!  Apropos of little on this gray Sunday, I'll offer you my nominees for the loveliest, most talented Canadian sisters of the 20th century, the O'Hara girls from Toronto:

Mary Margaret

and Catherine

Edging out Calgary's Tegan and Sara Quin and Montreal's Kate and Anna McGarrigle.  Disqualified as half-sisters were Montreal's porn duo of Lanny Barbie (also known as Lannie Barbie, Lannie Barby and Lanny Barby and star of Analgeddon and the unnecessary Meet the Fuckers) and Kimberly Franklin, as well as Canmore, Alberta's Three Sisters mountain range for being a rock formation.  Better luck next time, ladies!