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Padre Steve’s Look Back at 2012: The Year that Was and Still Can Be if You Have Access to Time Travel


“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
~T.S. Eliot~

Well my friends it is my time to look back at 2012, the year that should have been the end of the world had the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. However the Mayans couldn’t see that possibility and life goes on. With that in mind I decided to look back at the more that 300 articles that I have written since the the babe wrapped in Champagne soaked clothes and lying in Times Square gutter belched out his first words… “Is this live?” 

If we lived in the Star Trek World things could be different. We could find an alternate universe, find a time portal at the City on the Edge of Forever or if need be whip the Enterprise around the Sun to throw us back in time.

However we don’t have that ability yet and the year of our discontent began in January. It was a year filled with political carnage, war, man made and natural disasters including the BCS Championship, the athletic drama of human competition, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Much of the year was consumed by the American 2012 General Elections and Presidential primaries and campaigns. It was a year where we thought things might be different but sages like me looking back on the wisdom inscribed in my Bloom County Comic Strip Collection knew was not.


Back to the Future in Iowa: A Bloom County Redux

It was not just politics as usual it was also media as usual something again that I predicted was the case by looking back at history.


Doing the Sidestep: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and American Politics and Media

But as the campaign season snaked its eerie course through the hills, dales, bayous and valleys of our fair fruited plains the rest of the world experienced joy and pain, triumph and tragedy.

It began in this country as all things do when the University of Alabama, a fully accredited school of higher learning won the BCS College Football Championship game, something that the University of Phoenix will never do.


Alabama wins the Boring Pseudo-National Championship Game…aka the BCS BS Championship Game

Not to be outdone the Italian Merchant Marine got into the act when Captain Francesco Schettino while joy riding in hie massive 115,000 ton Cruise Ship, the Costa Concordia  managed to hit a rock and sink the ship.


Sinking the Costa Concordia: A Lesson in Hubris and Cowardice


In February we saw the renewal of of love affair with television commercials as the Super Bowl XLVI: Commercials, Madonna and a Football Game as Madonna lip synced between the halves as the New York Football Giants defeated the New England non-Tea Party Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, pronounced “Exlivy” in the original Latin.

Politics continued in March with the indecisive “Super Tuesday” Primaries:

Super Tuesday Agony: Indecisive, Inconclusive and a Portent of Things to Come


But thankfully for all baseball returned in April bringing some sense of normalcy back to a world gone mad. Opening day brought me back to an even keel and the fact that it coincided with Holy Week made it more special to me. Opening Day and Holy Week and being able to attend a home opener was nice. A Home Opener and thoughts on Rick, Ozzie and George

But even in the midst of this there was perfection, in fact perfection done several times in Major League Baseball one of those being when Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants pitched a perfect game on June 13th.

Houston Astros v San Francisco Giants

The Mark of Cain: Matt Cain Pitches 22nd Perfect Game in MLB Historyand Johann Santana did the same for the otherwise hapless New York Mets 8020 Games and Finally….a Miracle for the Mets: Johan Santana Pitches First No-No in Mets Historyand “King Felix” pitched his first perfect game for the Mariners The Perfect King: Felix Hernandez Pitches Third Perfect Game of 2012while Phil Humber of the Tigers threw a perfect game against the Mariners Perfect! Phillip Humber Joins Legends as He Pitches Perfect Game against Mariners


Baseball produced other surprises this year but probably none bigger than that of the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles, underdog and underfunded teams that surprised everyone with their playoff runs and playoff appearances. September Surprises: O’s and A’s Shake up the American League


The Major League Baseball playoffs were filled with amazing comeback stories but none more than that of the San Francisco Giants who played on the brink of elimination in both the NLDS ( Giants Sweep Red’s in the River City: On to NLCS ) and NLCS ( Raining on a Parade: Giants Make Giant Comeback to Win National League Pennant ) before sweeping the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. SWEEP! GIANTS WIN SERIES!


But around the world and away from the rich green baseball diamonds there were other events. In April Kim Jong Un #1 the new dictator for life in North Korea shot a rocket in the air, and where it landed he knew not where Missile Impotence: Kim Jong Un’s Rocket Launch goes Splat even as an American preacher turned fake historian became the star of the Religious Right Faux Fact Factory: The Twisted World of Fake “Historian” and “Hero of the Faith” David Barton  Not to be outdone a Roman Catholic Bishop made his own bad history comparisons Bishop Jenky’s Obama and Hitler, Stalin, Bismarck and Clemenceau Comparison: Bad History, Bad Theology and Bad Politics


Meanwhile in the background Europe and the European Union faced their own problems. Economic and political crisis engulfed the continent. Europe on the Edge: France and Greece Point to Dangerous Times Ahead


The Middle East was not to be left behind in the the political tumult. Syria continued its post-Arab Spring plunge into the abyss of full out civil war. Fear and Loathing in Damascus eventually bringing the deployment of NATO Patriot Missiles in Turkey. NATO Patriots to Turkey as Syria Teeters on the AbyssIn the broader Middle East War threatened on almost every front The Gathering Storm: Shades of 1914 as War Threatens in the Middle East and the Arab Spring heated up again Arab Spring Fever: The Revolution Begins Anew in Egypt as Syria Begins to Melt Down

In June the United States saw something akin to what our European cousins were going through when my home town, Stockton California declared Bankruptcy. When City Dreams Become Nightmares: Stockton California to Declare Bankruptcy


But Britain was able to celebrate as Queen Elizabeth marked her 75th year on the throne in June  The Diamond Jubilee: All Glory is Fleeting and hosting the XXX Olympic Summer Games in London in July and August


British Humor: Bond, Bean, Poppins and The Queen Kick Off XXX Games , Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” Goodbye London: XXX Olympics End on Musical Note


After a bitterly contested primary campaign Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney lost the General Election to President Obama. Obama Wins….Now the Real Work of Healing the Wounds Must Begin However that healing didn’t begin and as of today the nation stands at the brink of political and economic crisis that could harm everyone in this country and sink the world economy. Fiscal Cliff Notes: There are Always Results

Then there was the senseless violence of massed murders, some obviously motivated by some kind of insanity while others simply due to hatred of people different.


The Hatred of “the Other”: White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, Politics and the Oak Creek Massacre

Man of Murderous Mystery: James Egan Holmes and the Aurora Dark Knight Massacre

The worst of these was just a couple of weeks ago in Newtown Connecticut A Cry in Newtown: Anguish after a Massacre

The War in Afghanistan dragged on while no politicians really addressed the subject even though the toll in American lives passed the 2000 mark and casualties at the hands of our Afghan allies rose to unthinkable levels. Likewise the crisis in the rise of suicides among active duty and reserve troops as well as Veterans continued unabated.

Johnathan B. McCain

The Afghanistan Quagmire and the Escalation of “Green on Blue” Attacks

Why Aren’t Any Politicians Talking About the War and Why don’t Voters Care?

Padre Steve Remembers 9-11 and the Forgotten War


Natural disasters were not absent from the news this year, the biggest as far as the news went was Hurricane Sandy which struck the week before the US Presidential Election and devastated large parts of New Jersey, New York, the Mid-Atlantic and New England. A Massive and Deadly “Freak” Storm: Sandy Hits the USA while in the forgotten country of Bangladesh a fire at a clothing factory claimed over 100 lives A Juxtaposition of Contradictions: Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the Bangladesh Clothing Factory Fire

There were deaths of noted people this year:

Disgraced former Penn State College Football Coach and legend Joe Paterno died in January barely 2 months after his final game.


The Death of a Tarnished Legend: Joe Paterno dead at 85


Singing great Whitney Houston died of what appeared to be an accidental overdose One Moment in Time: Rest in Peace Whitney Houston 1963-2012 


Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon passed away in August One Giant Loss for Mankind: Neil Armstrong Dead at 82


1972 Democratic Presidential nominee, war hero and Senator George McGovern died in October A Loss for the Country and the World: A War Hero and Prophet of Peace George McGovern Dead at 90


Iconic General H Norman Schwarzkopf, victor of the First Gulf War died just this week The Loss of an Icon: General Norman Schwarzkopf dies at 79 


Of course much more happened over the course of 2012 including the end of the world that didn’t happen The Failed Mayan End of the World Prediction and the Chicago Cubs 

There are other things that I might have or should have written about but looking back over the past year if I was a full time writer. However I don’t think that I did too bad for being just one person who has a day job and who is maintaining two residences in different states. Besides as much as I want I still don’t have access to Warp Drive, transporter beams or time travel.

So I write today hoping for a good end to 2012, a better 2013 and peace on earth.


Padre Steve+

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British Humor: Bond, Bean, Poppins and The Queen Kick Off XXX Games

It was quintessentially and quirkily British, and quite a show that director Danny Boyle produced to begin the XXXth Olympiad in London. It was a show that many wondered about considering the lavish display of nationalistic pride put on by China in the 2008 Games.

The British production was a display of how a nation can respect its heritage while at the same time have enough wit to laugh at itself. Maybe that is a result of having been the world’s largest empire a century ago to being a rather modest power today. Britain may no longer have empire, but it does have a rich tradition and great history that was displayed in the show.


Music was a big part of the show and the influence of music of British music has been very large in the spread of western culture and influence. The opening song “Jerusalem” the lyrics of which come from William Blake is the unofficial hymn of England has a connection with the legendary Glastonbury Tor which was recreated in the stadium. Other songs from ancient to modern including folk songs like Danny Boy, hymnody, rock and pop were featured with Sir Paul McCartney closing the ceremony with his Beatles hit Hey Jude.


As for me I appreciated the humor, or as the British call it humour. It was refreshing to be able to see a great people be able to celebrate greatness but also have the ability to laugh at themselves. I think that the biggest highlights for me was the entrance of Queen Elizabeth II with Daniel Craig, the current James Bond. It showed that even the Queen has a sense of humour as she took part in a skit with Craig that featured her Corgi dogs, a slick helicopter and a stuntman dressed as the Queen parachuting into the stadium. It was a scene that probably she will be remembered by long after she passes from this life.


But even more fun was the appearance of Rowan Atkinson who reprised his Mr Bean type character. As a member of the orchestra who bored with his part the continuous tapping of the same note, daydreams about being in a scene from the film Chariots of Fire.  Of course as so many of his characters do and wins the race by cheating.  I can appreciate the honesty.

I was kind of bored by the tribute to the National Heath Service, not because I am a critic of the NHS, but it seemed to drag in comparison to other parts of the program despite the appearance of a flock of Mary Poppins ladies sailing in to chase off the villains of British Children’s literature.  However that being said it is important to note that the British are very proud of their health system despite the critics on this side of the pond, and the system is linked forever to J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan who designated the Great Ormond Street Hospital as the beneficiary of the royalties from Peter Pan.

One thing that I find interesting about the British is that when times are bad they still can find humour in the situation. The British economy is suffering at the present time and there are many problems in the country. But there is something in the British character that helps them get through hard times and will again.


I will occasionally post something about these Olympics. As always there will be controversy, but hopefully whatever controversy emerges in these games will not detract from the excellence of the athletes that compete.


Padre Steve+


Filed under music, News and current events, sports and life

Olympic Forecast: Clouds Rain and a Chance of Scattered Terrorism

I don’t know about you but it seems rather odd that the 2012 Summer Olympics is being held in a wonderful Kingdom that knows not summer.

I love England and the United Kingdom. I traveled extensively in the country for a three week period during the summer of 1979 and have been there a number of times since. Wonderful people, wonderful Indian food and a grand tradition of pomp ceremony and celebration of long lost empire. Back in 1979 I had the pleasure of being hosted by families across the UK. I even learned how to pronounce my last name correctly in Scotland.

I love visiting London, I can wander about the city taking in the great historical sites for weeks on end. If I had the time and money I would spend a year walking about the city and traveling around the country taking pictures and writing about every site that I visit. I would hang out in pubs and go to places that normal tourists don’t go. I would visit British friends and as I said before hang out in pubs. Since I am already banned from giving blood because of living in Europe in the 1980s due to fear of the Mad Cow I would eat lots of Bully Beef and maybe even try Haggis in Scotland.

Olympic Village

I love the British military and have worked with the members all branches of the British Armed forces during my 31 years in the military. That being said, the mission of the military is not police work.

In spite of all my Anglophile tendencies I still wonder about the wisdom of London hosting the Summer Games. Not that I doubt the city’s warm hospitality, charm and history but rather due to its usually un-summer like summer weather. In fact I would day say that unless an athlete comes from Northern Europe or the northern coastal regions of North America, or perhaps from down under where it is currently winter that many athletes will wonder what happened to Global Warming. The weather in the U.K. is like a big version of San Francisco weather of which someone  (but not Mark Twain as legend says) wrote “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”  Even the Queen upheld by the prayers of the Archbishop of Canterbury had her parade rained on, but I digress…

Land of the Soggy Summer

One of the other reasons, besides the predicted crappy English summer weather that I wonder about the selection of London is the threat of terrorism. London has been the target of more than one terrorist strike over the past number of years and a number of terrorist groups ranging from the Irish Republican Army to Al Qaida have targeted London and its citizenry.

Anti-aircraft missiles in London

Security experts around the world are concerned. There have been problems with the security firm that was to provide 10,000 guards leading to the hasty drafting of thousands of troops from the Royal Army to provide protection for event venues and the Olympic Village. Even before that the unprecedented military preparations to defend against multiple types of terrorist threats was astounding. For the first time since the Luftwaffe Blitz of the Second World War there are air defense batteries in London. Some countries such as Israel, are so concerned that they have their own security detachments watching their athletes.  The fact that this is the 40th anniversary of the Munich Massacre of 1972 causes the Israelis additional concern.

1972 Munich Massacre 

London also calls itself home to some of the most militant Islamic hate preachers in the world and was the target of a devastating terrorist strike on July 7th 2005. Those attacks were carried out by four home grown militants and killed 52 people.  They would not be hard to repeat or eclipse in a city swollen with millions of visitors and more VIPs than one can shake a stick at including much of the British Royal Family.

Bombed out Train in the Tube, 2005

While the Olympic venues will receive a lot of security, soft targets including buses, trains, the famous “Tube” and large shopping and tourist areas are hard to defend. It is not unreasonable to assume that attacks will take place, and that some could be quite lethal.

Blown up Double Decker Bus from July 7th 2005 attack

Personally I want the Olympics to go off without a hitch. I want them to be a celebration of sportsmanship, competition and friendship. I want to see athletic and personal greatness displayed. I want to see records broken and underdogs to win sometimes. I want it to be like Jim McKay would say on ABC’s Wild World of Sports “the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition.” I want them to be an island of peace in a world filled by war. That being said I will be holding my breath for the next couple of weeks as the competition begins even while I cheer on the members and teams of Team USA in their quest for Olympic Gold. After all I have to channel my latent nationalism into something peaceful.

That being said. May the Olympics be blessed with good weather and no terrorist violence.


Padre Steve+

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The Diamond Jubilee: All Glory is Fleeting

Whenever I see anything about Queen Elizabeth II, especially the grand celebrations that reverberate around the nations that at one time or another were the exploited subjects of the British Empire I am less than excited. Nothing against the Queen or her predecessors I am less than impressed by the tabloid  media spectacle that currently surrounds the House of Windsor. At one time the British monarchy meant something, it was the titular symbol of an empire that spanned the globe. It was the symbol of the world’s mightiest navy, and largest and most powerful economic system.  It was the symbol of a nation that had stood alone against Napoleon and Hitler, it was the symbol of stability in times of tumult that Britons of all political leanings could rally around. But it was a symbol, a symbol of a nation that pioneered the rule of law and rule by a government of the parliamentary majority in the House of Commons. While the monarch was and is the “Head of State” their influence since the 1701 Act of Settlement  has been mostly symbolic and the practical function of the monarch is limited to non-partisan activities such as granting honors and titles.

Today Queen Elizabeth reigns over a struggling nation and empire in name only. For much of her reign the Royal family has symbolized the decline of the empire with various members becoming the laughingstock of the world. While the Monarchy has recovered from the worst of its dips in popularity following the death of Princess Diana the the Royal family still surrounded by opulence and the splendor of history has with few exceptions seemed out of touch, indolent and irrelevant.  Some commentators have said that today’s “naval review” was important to give people a “sense of national pride at a time when the economy is in recession and people face deep austerity measures.”

The Fleet Review at Elizabeth’s Coronation (above) and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (below)

When I saw the news coverage of today’s “review” in the Thames I was happy for the Queen and how much it seemed to mean to a lot of the people present.  Yet at the same time I was saddened about the condition Britain. When King George VI, Queen Elizabeth’s father was crowned a real naval review showcasing over 200 warships from Britain and around the world were on display to pay honor to the new King. When Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 1897 165 ships of the Royal Navy were present. In the sense of history I found the motley collection of some 1000 small craft that paraded down the Thames to be less than impressive, a testament of sentimentality over substance, a triumph of merchandising rather than might. The presence of several dozen antique survivors of the Miracle of Dunkirk in 1940 in the parade was interesting and meaningful but it was a reminder of how a nation rallied to save its Army from certain annihilation in 1940 that said more about the British people than the current monarchy.

The British monarchy is in decline and even the question of succession provokes questions as to what shape and influence it will have in the future. The sad fact is that today’s parade on the Thames in honor of Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee is a celebration of past glory that provides momentary comfort to a nation is crisis. It is a reminder that indeed “all glory is fleeting.”


Padre Steve+


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