Luke 1:63

Our daughter Joanna had her baby! He is our fifth grandy in three years.

The spilled oil is gone?

As workers finally manage to cap the leaking oil well in the Gulf, some scientists have reached conclusions about what happened to all of that spilled oil:

Nearly three-fourths of oil from the BP (BP.L)(BP.N) spill is gone from the Gulf of Mexico, with 26 percent remaining as a sheen or tarballs, buried in sediment or washed ashore, U.S. scientists said on Wednesday.

“It is estimated that burning, skimming and direct recovery from the wellhead removed one quarter (25 percent) of the oil released from the wellhead,” the scientists said in the report “BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Budget: What Happened to the Oil?”

Another 25 percent naturally evaporated or dissolved and 24 percent was dispersed, either naturally or “as the result of operations,” into small droplets, the report said.

The rest of the estimated 4.9 million barrels of crude spilled into the Gulf after the April 20 rig explosion that triggered the leak is either on or just beneath the water’s surface as “light sheen or weathered tarballs,” has washed ashore where it may have been collected, or is buried in sand and sediments at the sea bottom.

The report found 33 percent of the oil has been dealt with by the Unified Command, which includes government and private efforts.

“This includes oil that was captured directly from the wellhead by the riser pipe insertion tube and top hat systems (17 percent), burning (5 percent), skimming (3 percent) and chemical dispersion (8 percent),” the report found.

Natural processes broke down the rest of the 74 percent that has been removed from the Gulf.

“The good news is that the vast majority of the oil appears to be gone,” Carol Browner, energy and climate change adviser to President Barack Obama, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “That’s what the initial assessment of our scientists is telling us.”

via UPDATE 3-Nearly 3/4 of BP spill oil gone from Gulf | Reuters.

So no catastrophe, no greatest environmental disaster of all time.  A financial disaster for BP to be sure, and the mess had to be taken care of.   But man and nature seem to have been able to take care of it.

UPDATE: Other scientists are questioning this rosy picture from the Obama administration, saying the findings are based on computer projections rather than actual measurement and that the toxicity of what remains is not known.

The Postsecular

The intellectual, academic world, according to some observers, has become “postsecular.”  Scholars are now factoring back in the importance of religion.  And yet this too has its divisions between those who favor a multi-faith religious pluralism and the advocates of “radical orthodoxy”–a sophisticated application of historical Christianity in terms of continental philosophy.  See this interview: Views: After the Postsecular – Inside Higher Ed.

For Radical Orthodoxy, see this.

HT:David Mills

The Islamic center at Ground Zero

It looks like the Islamic cultural center being proposed for construction near the site where the World Trade Center stood before 9/11 will be built:

Plans to build an Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site moved forward after New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to allow the demolition of a building that would be replaced by a mosque.

The panel denied landmark status to a long-vacant 152-year- old lower Manhattan building on Park Place, formerly a Burlington Coat Factory department store. The unanimous vote cleared a hurdle for the site to be torn down and the mosque, recreation and cultural center to be built.

The proposed mosque has drawn opposition from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who have called its proposed presence near the site of the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history inappropriate. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn have supported the project.

“To cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists,” Bloomberg said at a news conference today on Governors Island in New York Harbor, within view of the Statue of Liberty, where he was joined by Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy. “No neighborhood in our city is off limits to God’s love and mercy.”

The Cordoba Initiative, the project’s sponsor, describes itself as a pluralistic organization seeking better relations between the Islamic community and other faiths. Plans for the center include a 500-seat auditorium, swimming pool, restaurants, bookstores and space for art exhibitions, according to the organization’s website.

via Ground Zero Mosque Plans Move Forward After Key Vote – Bloomberg.

We do have freedom of religion in this country, so I see no legal basis for preventing this construction.  But this is not just a mosque.  Swimming pool?  restaurants?  And I’d like more information about the Cordoba Initiative.  Is this a Muslim group that claims Islamic sovereignty over Spain?  If so, they are likely radicals.  And is there any doubt that radical Muslims will use this monument as an occasion for triumphalism? But, again, religious freedom has to mean freedom for Muslims and everyone else as well as for Christians.

We can complain about something without thinking that the state should prevent it (a principle that has other applications). [Like what?]

Interesting jobs

To celebrate the doctrine of vocation and as a build up to Labor Day, let us consider Interesting Jobs.   Here is one:  Major league baseball interpreter.

An interpreter’s job can be consuming, from taking phone calls from a confused player in a grocery store aisle to helping a player’s wife get a driver’s license.

“It’s one thing to be bilingual,” says [Kenji] Nimura, who is unique in the major leagues and especially valuable because he’s fluent in English, Japanese and Spanish. “It’s another to be bicultural.”

That’s why the role has grown as quickly as the Asian influence in the majors, where this year’s 12 Japanese players, three Taiwanese and two South Koreans usually are accompanied by an interpreter.

And note that the correct word is interpreter, not translator. Word-for-word substitutions seldom work between English and the Asian languages.

“If I give a direct translation, it will sound vague,” says Nimura, born in Japan but raised in Los Angeles. “I cheat a little. It’s like a scene in Lost in Translation. As long as I get the meaning right.”

Ever wonder why the translated answer often seems much shorter than the original answer?

“American players follow the formula,” Nimura says. “Say what you’re going to say, say it, say what you said. In Japan, they don’t give you an answer until the end.” . . .

Nowhere do the cultural differences show up more than in trying to interpret what goes on in the clubhouse.

The hazing Kuroda received is unheard of in Japan. So are the moments like the day in spring 2009 that Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones wanted to pass a message to new pitcher Kenshin Kawakami.

“Tell him, I said, (expletive)’ ” a grinning Jones said to interpreter Daichi Takasue, then a 21-year-old fresh out of the University of California-Santa Barbara, where he had been trained specifically for moments like this.

Al Ferrer, the former longtime coach at UCSB who now trains and supplies interpreters armed with the knowledge to deal with coaches and game situations, laughs when he remembers Takasue relating the incident.

“He told me, ‘I bowed my head and said Mr. Jones told me to say (expletive)’ ” Ferrer says. “Ragging is not a part of their culture.”

Nor is swearing, something Guillen discovered during one of his colorful clubhouse speeches when Japanese pitcher Shingo Takatsu was on the roster.

“I saw the translator was quiet,” Guillen says. “I’m screaming to him, ‘Make sure you tell him what I say.’ The (interpreter) says, ‘We don’t have those kinds of words in Japan.’ “

via Baseball interpreters bridge gap between players, new culture – USATODAY.com.

What are some other Interesting Jobs?  Do any of you have one?

Ray Bradbury on God

Ray Bradbury is not just a great science fiction writer.  He is a great writer, period.  And he is a man of some-kind-of faith:

The 89-year-old science fiction author watches Fox News Channel by day, Turner Classic Movies by night. He spends the rest of his time summoning “the monsters and angels” of his imagination for his enchanting tales.

Bradbury’s imagination has yielded classic books such as “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Martian Chronicles” and 600 short stories that predicted everything from the emergence of ATMs to live broadcasts of fugitive car chases.

Bradbury, who turns 90 this month, says he will sometimes open one of his books late at night and cry out thanks to God.

“I sit there and cry because I haven’t done any of this,” he told Sam Weller, his biographer and friend. “It’s a God-given thing, and I’m so grateful, so, so grateful. The best description of my career as a writer is, ‘At play in the fields of the Lord.’ ”

Bradbury’s stories are filled with references to God and faith, but he’s rarely talked at length about his religious beliefs, until now.

He describes himself as a “delicatessen religionist.” He’s inspired by Eastern and Western religions.

The center of his faith, though, is love. Everything — the reason he decided to write his first short story at 12; his 56-year marriage to his muse and late wife, Maggie; his friendships with everyone from Walt Disney to Alfred Hitchcock — is based on love.

Bradbury is in love with love.

Once, when he saw Walt Disney, architect of the Magic Kingdom, Christmas shopping in Los Angeles, Bradbury approached him and said: “Mr. Disney, my name is Ray Bradbury and I love you.”

Bradbury’s favorite book in the Bible is the Gospel of John, which is filled with references to love.

“At the center of religion is love,” Bradbury says from his home, which is painted dandelion yellow in honor of his favorite book, “Dandelion Wine.”

“I love you and I forgive you. I am like you and you are like me. I love all people. I love the world. I love creating. … Everything in our life should be based on love.”

Bradbury’s voice booms with enthusiasm over the phone. He now uses a wheelchair. His hearing has deteriorated. But he talks like an excitable kid with an old man’s voice. (Each Christmas, Bradbury asked his wife to give him toys in place of any other gifts.)

Weller, author of “Listen to The Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews,” says Bradbury ends many conversations with “God bless.” Weller’s book devotes an entire chapter to Bradbury’s faith.

“I once asked him if he prayed, and he said, ‘Joy is the grace we say to God,’ ” Weller says.

Bradbury was raised as a Baptist in Waukegan, Illinois, by his father, a utility lineman, and his mother, a housewife. Both were infrequent churchgoers.

His family moved to Los Angeles during the Great Depression to look for work. When he turned 14, Bradbury began visiting Catholic churches, synagogues and charismatic churches on his own to figure out his faith.

Bradbury has been called a Unitarian, but he rejects that term. He dislikes labels of any kind.

“I’m a Zen Buddhist if I would describe myself,” he says. “I don’t think about what I do. I do it. That’s Buddhism. I jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down.”

via Sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury on God, ‘monsters and angels’ – CNN.com.

But. . .but. . .Ray. . . Zen Buddhists don’t really believe in God.  And love is surely the kind of attachment that Buddhists believe we must detach ourselves from.  I know Thomas Merton formulated a kind of Christian Zen.  Your worldview sounds (and from your writings has always sounded) specifically Christian.  The story goes on to say how often you write about Jesus.  Keep going in that direction.  (Let’s pray for him, as well as for Anne Rice.)


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