How to Fall 35,000 Feet — And Survive

January 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Popular Mechanics offers some astounding advice that I hope none of us ever has to take into serious consideration:

You have a late night and an early flight. Not long after takeoff, you drift to sleep. Suddenly, you’re wide awake. There’s cold air rushing everywhere, and sound. Intense, horrible sound. Where am I?, you think. Where’s the plane?

You’re 6 miles up. You’re alone. You’re falling.

Things are bad. But now’s the time to focus on the good news. (Yes, it goes beyond surviving the destruction of your aircraft.) Although gravity is against you, another force is working in your favor: time. Believe it or not, you’re better off up here than if you’d slipped from the balcony of your high-rise hotel room after one too many drinks last night.

Or at least you will be. Oxygen is scarce at these heights. By now, hypoxia is starting to set in. You’ll be unconscious soon, and you’ll cannonball at least a mile before waking up again. When that happens, remember what you are about to read. The ground, after all, is your next destination.

Granted, the odds of surviving a 6-mile plummet are extra ordinarily slim, but at this point you’ve got nothing to lose by understanding your situation. There are two ways to fall out of a plane. The first is to free-fall, or drop from the sky with absolutely no protection or means of slowing your descent. The second is to become a wreckage rider, a term coined by Massachusetts-based amateur historian Jim Hamilton, who developed the Free Fall Research Page—an onlinedatabase of nearly every imaginable human plummet.

That classification means you have the advantage of being attached to a chunk of the plane. In 1972, Serbian flight attendant Vesna Vulovic was traveling in a DC-9 over Czechoslovakia when it blew up. She fell 33,000 feet, wedged between her seat, a catering trolley, a section of aircraft and the body of another crew member, landing on—then sliding down—a snowy incline before coming to a stop, severely injured but alive. . . . (continue reading)

Here's How the TV Networks Report the News

January 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Here’s an inside look at the secrets of how the major television news networks package “news” segments. They make it look so easy, as if each segment was scripted and produced by an infinite number of chimpanzees. In fact, hmmm . . . maybe the network news is produced by an infinite number of chimpanzees.

(Warning: There is a bad word 24 seconds into this, for which I apologize, though I am not to blame because I didn’t produce this bit. Blame it on the chimpanzees. And mute it at 24 secs., if need be.)

Atheists "go postal" over new Mother Teresa stamp

January 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

It’s predictable that atheists would work themselves into a froth over this. It’s silly and petty, of course, but it’s also a useful reminder that an increasing number of the God-deniers who walk among us are not content to simply deny the truth and scoff at believers, they are becoming ever more militant and aggressive in their efforts to ramrod their intolerance and narrow-mindedness down everyone else’s throats. Catholics! Stand up to these bullies.

An atheist organization is blasting the U.S. Postal Service for its plan to honor Mother Teresa with a commemorative stamp, saying it violates postal regulations against honoring “individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings.”

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is urging its supporters to boycott the stamp — and also to engage in a letter-writing campaign to spread the word about what it calls the “darker side” of Mother Teresa.

The stamp — set to be released on Aug. 26, which would have been Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday — will recognize the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her humanitarian work, the Postal Service announced last month.

“Noted for her compassion toward the poor and suffering, Mother Teresa, a diminutive Roman Catholic nun and honorary U.S. citizen, served the sick and destitute of India and the world for nearly 50 years,” the Postal Service said in a press release. “Her humility and compassion, as well as her respect for the innate worth and dignity of humankind, inspired people of all ages and backgrounds to work on behalf of the world’s poorest populations.”

But Freedom from Religion Foundation spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor says issuing the stamp runs against Postal Service regulations.

“Mother Teresa is principally known as a religious figure who ran a religious institution. You can’t really separate her being a nun and being a Roman Catholic from everything she did,” Gaylor told

Postal Service spokesman Roy Betts expressed surprise at the protest, given the long list of previous honorees with strong religious backgrounds, including Malcolm X, the former chief spokesman for the Nation of Islam, and the Rev. D
r. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. . . .
(continue reading)

Pray the Pater Noster With Pope Pius XII

January 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

(courtesy of Catholic Family Vignettes)

"This is not about me!" (No, really)

January 27, 2010 by  
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The NASCAR of Catholic Apologetics

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Patrick Archbold of Creative Minority Report fame penned a witty and insightful take on Catholic “combat radio” in today’s National Catholic Register. Maybe someday I’ll do an interview with him and tell him “the rest of the story.”

I am a flawed man.

I love to listen to Catholic apologetics. I listen to apologetics CDs, I read apologetic books, and I love to listen to apologetics on the radio. I suspect my reason for listening to apologetics on the radio is different from most people; at least I hope it is.

I think I read once that NASCAR is the biggest spectator sport in the United States. Being a northerner, I am sure that I miss many of the appealing aspects of NASCAR, but I think I know why most people watch it. They want to see the crashes. That is why I listen to apologetics on the radio, particularly Catholic Answers. I want to be around when the crash happens. . . . (continue reading)

"You never stop thinking about the baby you killed."

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

This is one of the strangest, most schizophrenic abortion-related things I’ve seen in a long time, maybe ever.

Penelope Trunk, a successful career advice columnist/blogger, wrote a blog piece last summer called “What’s the Connection Between Abortion and Careers?” The title caught my eye and drew me in to what at first I thought would be just another “yeah, so what if I had an abortion?” kind of piece. I was wrong. Or maybe I should say I was half wrong.

I did not expect Trunk to say some of things she said in that article. After reading it, I was left scratching my head in wonderment that, on one hand, this obviously intelligent woman could be so honest and forthright in her admission of what abortion is and what it does — to the mother and the child — and still be four-square in favor of legal abortion.

Later, Ms. Trunk sent out a note on Twitter announcing that she was having a miscarriage. The Twittersphere and, soon afterward, the blogosphere, freaked out about that, with many people excoriating her for publicly discussing something so private.

Personally, I don’t really care about the propriety or lack of it in her Twitter message. When I watched this video, I was again nonplussed at how this woman is able (with a straight face that neither dissolves into a smirk or into sobs [either of those reactions would seem more natural, more
human, if you ask me]) to so blandly admit that she was glad she had had a miscarriage, because it saved her from having to “wait in line to get an abortion.” And this, after she had just finished telling the goofy CNN talking head about how much she loved her two children and how sorrowful she was when she miscarried another pregnancy.

At one point, she intoned glassily that Whether or not you believe women should have the right to abortion, they do in this country.” If the hapless host had been thinking clearly, he should have reminded her and the audience that, in 1860, a white man could just as blythely have said, “Whether or not you believe whites have the right to own black slaves, they do in this country.”

Or, “Whether or not you believe men should have the right to prevent women from voting, they do in this country” (prior to 1920), etc., etc.

That’s the point. Because enough Americans believed that white’s should not have the right to own other human beings as slaves is why we were able to abolish that terrible “legal right.” Similarly, though of far, far less a magnitude on the injustice scale, Because enough Americans came to believe that it was wrong to deny women the vote is the only reason why that unjust law was eradicated. (And that didn’t happen until 1920!)

Penelope Trunk’s attitude toward abortion is just . . . weird. It’s schizophrenic. I don’t understand it. I feel so very sorry for her.

I have had two abortions.

The first one was when I was twenty-seven. I was playing professional beach volleyball. I was playing volleyball eight hours a day and I spent two hours a day at the gym. I noticed that I was getting tired more easily, but I thought it meant I needed to train harder.

Then one weekend, a doctor friend on a visit saw me drop a plate one day, and a vase the next. I told her my hands just gave out because they were so tired.

She said I was anemic. Then she said, “Maybe you’re pregnant.”

“I’m not,” I said. “I have a regular period.”

It turns out, though, that you can have a regular period and still be pregnant.

And I was. Fourteen weeks.

My friend said, “Schedule the abortion now. You’re already late for it.”

I didn’t do anything. I was in shock. My boyfriend was in shock. Neither of us had ever had a pregnancy. I couldn’t believe the whole process actually worked, to be honest.

I told my mom I was pregnant. She said, “Get an abortion.”

I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t really thinking I had any choices. I didn’t have a job that could support a child. And I wasn’t sure if I was planning to marry my boyfriend, although we were living together. I knew that I had big ideas for my life and I hadn’t figured things out yet.

My mom got militant. “You’ll destroy your career possibilities.”

She riffed on this theme for a week, calling me every night. Her passion is understandable. My mom took . . . (continue reading)

John Calvin, call your office

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Tonight on EWTN at 8:00 p.m. ET, my friend Marcus Grodi, a former Presbyterian minister who converted to the Catholic Church and now heads up the Coming Home Network, will interview two other former Presbyterian converts.

If you don’t have EWTN on your cable system, don’t worry. You can watch it online here. Call your Presbyterian pals and tell them they should tune in, too.

The Most Spectacular Wedding Invitation You'll Ever See

January 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Two things:

1) I really hope they don’t get divorced. I’d hate to see the trailer they’d produce for that disaster epic.

2) Looks like Jeff has pretty good bo staff skills. Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills. Bow to your sensei.

Rush of terror alerts on three continents plus Middle East

January 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

The Israeli security blog Debka has this story:

In the last three days, the governments of eleven countries have scrambled to elevate their preparedness levels for Islamist terror, or enforced extraordinarily stringent security measures. Another six governments have pursued these steps without fanfare.

Friday and Saturday, Jan. 22-23, India placed its airlines and airports and those of all of South East Asia -Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – on alert for a possible airplane hijacking by al Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taibem. The UK elevated its terror threat level from “substantial” to “severe” – one below top and suspended direct British airline flights to and from Yemen.

Last week, five Britons were apprehended at Islamabad airport attempting to pass their boarding passes to five others. Yemen itself stopped issuing entry visas at Sanaa airport. The British appear to fear a fresh spate of terrorism inside the country.

Although the Obama administration has not formally raised the current terror alert level, vigilance at all American airports and border posts has been radically heightened since a Nigerian terrorist tried to blow up the Northwest airliner on Christmas day. Since Jan. 4, the airlines and passengers from 14 listed countries have faced body screening before boarding flight to the United States. Last week, six people on the newly-expanded no-fly list were not allowed to board US-bound flights.

Saturday, US airport authorities were warned that at least two female suicide bombers of “non-Arab appearance” and bearing Western passports may have been sent to America by al Qaeda-Yemen – either to blow up US-bound flights or commit suicide attacks inside the country.

Referring to the failed airline bombing, tormer White House counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke told ABC: “There are others who are still out there who have been trained and who are clean skins – that means people who we do not have a record of, who may not look like al Qaeda terrorists, who may not be Arabs, and may not be men.” . . . (continue reading)

See also:

“Unusually high” number of people on no-fly list trying to board US-bound planes.

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