I’m getting a little tired of my Comcast broadband. They’ve apparently been having problems with their DNS servers. I think last night was the 3rd night in a week that my service was effectively useless. Think they’ll give me a refund? Hehehe. I wouldn’t be quite as disgruntled if I hadn’t switched from my sufficiently fast and usually reliable DSL connection in favor of Comcast. Hopefully this is just a blip for them and they’ll get things together soon. The outages have been in the evening and really cut into my blogging time.
Looks like Pope John Paul II died today. I sure hope there is something in the Sunday papers about it. (That’s a joke, son.)
I’m not Catholic, but for some reason find the Papacy interesting. So, as the Pope’s failing health and anticipation of his death and succession of a new Pope feed the 24 hour news cycle for another couple of turns, I find an article in the New Zealand Herald entitled How to Pick a New Pope.
120 Cardinals are sequestered in the Sistine Chapel beginning no earlier than 15 days and no later than 20 days after the Papacy becomes vacant either through death or resignation. Two ballots are taken each morning and two ballots each night. A Pope must be selected by a vote of 2/3 + 1 — 81 of the 120 votes. Elaborate tallying procedures are described.
According to the article, top contenders to succeed John Paul II are:
Dionigi Tettamanzi, 71, Italy – the Archbishop of Milan, is the frontrunner. Tettamanzi is a pastor and an intellectual and as someone close to John Paul II, insiders say he he represents continuity, but with new ideas. Tettamanzi can count on the support of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who heads the bishops’ congregation, and Camillo Ruini, head of the Italian Church. He’s also close to Opus Dei, the ultraconservative Catholic group.
Francis Arinze 73, Nigeria – Archbishop Emeritus of Onitsha, Nigeria, pro-president of the secretariat for Non-Christians. In 2002, after serving as the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, he was named the head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of Sacraments. Arinze is a conservative who takes a hardline position on abortion and contraception and denounces homosexuality.
Christoph Schonborn, 60, Austria – Archbishop of Vienna. Schonborn is titled aristocracy related to every European royal family. Also a brilliant theologian with sensitivity to the Christian East, orthodoxy and Eastern bloc Catholics.
But his relatively young age and that he comes from the German camp could work against him.
Angelo Scola, 64, Italy – the Patriarch of Venice. A scholar and a moderate, Scola is likely to have the backing of Opus Dei.
Severino Poletto, 72, Italy – the Archbishop of Turin. Poletto was named Bishop of Asti last year. His prospects derive from his spiritual and pastoral qualities and his links to Vatican secretary of state, Angelo Sodano.
The article does mention that Latin Americans make up more than 50% of all Catholics and, therefore, mentions a Honduran and a Brazilian possibility.
1. The placebo effect.
2. The horizon problem.
3. Ultra-energetic cosmic rays.
4. Belfast homeopathy results.
5. Dark matter.
6. Viking’s methane.
8. The Pioneer anomaly.
9. Dark energy.
10. The Kuiper cliff.
11. The Wow signal.
12. Not-so-constant constants.
13. Cold fusion.
This page was loading slowly for me for the past couple of days. My best guess is that it has something to do with the number of entries being displayed. So, I cut it back to displaying entries for the past 15 days. Prior entries are available in the archives, month-by-month. We’ll see if this helps any.
The Lafayette J&C is reporting that Lafayette Attorney, Larry O’Connell has died. We lost a good person in Larry O’Connell. I had the opportunity to work with him on several occasions. He was always very upbeat and a pleasure to talk to — even if I didn’t agree with his legal opinions. (That had more to do with him trying to a good job representing his clients who came to him with tough, hard to defend cases than any real disagreement, I suspect.) He was only 57 and had been fighting with health problems for at least the past couple of years. It looked like he was on the mend up until several months ago. Then he took a turn for the worse I guess and never quite recovered. God speed, Larry.
Just upgraded to Movable Type 3.15. from 3.12. Apparently 3.14 alleviated some server load problems caused by comment spam and 3.15 fixes a vulnerability in the mail sending packages. Looks like there was no 3.13.
Brief tutorial on hospital charges: Probably pretty obvious stuff, but since I often collect on medical bills, this article in the Palladium-Item was of some interest. Basically, in response to a reader question, the author explains that:
1. Hospital charges $1,000 for a procedure;
2. Medicare has a contract with the Hospital so its members only pay a total of $600, including Medicare pays and patient pays.
3. Private insurance has a contract where it only pays $900 for the procedure.
4. Uninsured are charged full price and have little negotiating power to reduce it. Who knows how much Hospital will actually collect.
The Journal & Courier has an article on flooding in today’s edition. The Wabash is expected to crest at 25 feet in the area on Friday which is apparently a couple of feet higher than the floods of July ’03 which were pretty bad. Flood stage is 11 feet. Here is a pic of a submerged car off of State Road 28 near Clark’s Hill:
[Diamond’s] subject . . . is the demise of whole societies, especially where collapse is sudden and total, contrasted with the ingenious survival of other societies that faced the same dangers.
. . .
Diamond identifies five major causes of societal collapse: environmental damage, climate change, hostile neighbors, loss of trade partners, and stupidity. Any one or two plus stupidity will do.
(Guns, Germs, & Steel identified geographic reasons for certain societies dominating the world while others never progressed. If I recall correctly, societies had a much easier time where they were located on a continent with an east-west access and had loads of domesticable animals.)