Thursday, March 31, 2005

Mental trots

I'm so begind in my blogging I don't know where to begin. I've got this incredible, manic-depressive backlog of thoughts. There is no way to organize them (much like my brain) so I'm not even going to try. Rather than the dense, solid, well-shaped treatises you are accustomed to reading here, the following will be watery, inconsistent, and seemingly interminable. It is not an attempt at contemporary, stream-of-consciousness literature (which is also crap) - it is merely what you get when your body is in the northern mid-west but mentally you are someplace warm and tropical where you can't drink the water.

Someone made me an offer recently which at the time it didn't even occur to me to consider, so I dismissed it. Last night in the shower it dawned on me that it might not only be possible, but a really good idea. I contacted the person who made the offer, but it was too late: she'd already offered it to someone else. Unfortunately between my shower and my receiving her email this afternoon, the thought of taking the offer up consumed my brain. It grew from a vague possibility to an obsession overnight. What was this stupendous opportunity that i was too stupid to notice even when it was sitting on my lap? You'll never guess. A return trip to England! The woman whose kids I babysat last summer is looking for a new nanny. She needs someone beginning July 1. All day I've been fantasizing about moving back to Chorlton for the months of July, August and September, babysitting the coolest kids in the world, living in a great flat, and rowing with Agecroft. It's the rowing that really did it. All winter I've been contemplating the misery of a summer without rowing. For a few hours this morning I had it, and now it's gone again. I'm in my prime. I feel stronger than I've ever felt in my life, and I feel myself improving every day. I only ride my bike at one speed: as fast as I can go. I only run at one speed: sidestitch. I am strong and long and driven. I was in the car yesterday and Summer of 69 came on the radio. I love that song. It's about lost innocence and glory days gone by. It's about focus and obsession and taking risks and laying it all on the line for the thing you love. I need to do that right now. I'm ready. I need to row until i collapse. I need to row until the blisters on my hand bleed my lycra red. I need to feel my thighs scream and my throat burn, grip the oar, hear the gate, feel the drive. I was once told by a man who had coached olympic teams to medals that i had the potential to go all the way. For the first time in my life, i'm starting to believe him. I feel it in me. One of my former teammates has been recognized as an athlete of distinction by whoever scouts for the british national team. they're watching her. and i'm better. she's a great rower and a great woman and i'm really happy for her. but i'm better. and if i were there right now, they would be watching me, too. In one year in England I stretched myself in every direction, and i've returned home to find i've outgrown my bowl. It's too small here, and i'm suffocating. Then I walk around town and I see all the good I could do if i stayed here. The community college is hiring new teachers. I'm a shoo-in. The local park needs someone on the board who understands environmental management issues. I could get on it. I could make a real difference. On a very small scale, granted, but a real difference at the local level. I could ride my mom's local celebrity coat tails until i grow a set of my own and become a prominent local citizen. I could settle down and marry a mediocre guy who like riding lawnmowers and drinks MGD and be stable and content. But in a thousand years, no one would remember my name. Everyone tells me i'm a fool. For years i listened to them. I played it safe. I did the practical thing. I gave up rowing my sophomore year of college so I could take a job in the botany lab that would lead to research opportunities and a steady job. I did the mature thing, the responsible thing. Everyone's looking at me now to do the mature thing again. I'm sick of maturity. I'm sick of responsibility and practicality. I was mature waaaaaayyyyy too young. I grew up when I was 14. From now on i'm going to be self-serving and fuck pragmatism and take risks and go for it. I want to row. I'll do anything to row. I need to do it now, to test myself. Time is running out. I've got the rest of my life to play it safe, but right now if i'm going to get anywhere, i need to be leaving 10 minutes ago. I'm in my prime. I am powerful. I am writing really short sentences. I had another revelation when I was out jogging this morning. This is in no way whatsoever intended to be a justification for W, but it makes it a little easier for me to wrap my brain around him. I saw a pair of sandhill cranes nesting, and a herd of deer (got within about 15 feet of one, who just sort of looked at me quizzically; cutie pie), and two species of woodpecker. It was one of those beautiful mornings, and I was running through the countryside and thinking about why the land around me is the way it is. Why the former fields are now fallow, and what they were before they were cultivated. The USA is a frontier country, or it was at any rate. Western Europe has been so densly populated that for the last thousand years every piece of land has been owned by someone. Maybe a serf with just a few acres to feed his family, or a minor knight or a great earl or the king of whatever, but every bit, even the forrests, was someone's property. In America, as recent as 100 yeas ago out west and in living memory in Alaska it was still possible to wander out into the wilderness, find a bit of land with nothing on it, look around and declare, "Finders keepers; mine now." And it was perfectly legal. Not only legal, but admired. Homesteading was both financially encouraged by the government and socially encouraged by early American culture. We made heros out of the people who went west, looked around a bit, and plated a flag in whatever chunk of dirt suited their fancy. We glorified them, and still do. It never occurred to anyone that any of it could run out. The forrests and plains and mountians and tallgrass prarie went on forever. It was inexhaustible. The government was actively perpetuating this myth well into the 1970s. When fishermen who used to catch 80 pound cod in the Grand Banks reported smaller and smaller catches every year and said it was hard to find a cod that was even 30 pounds, the Fish and Wildlife service issued a report stating that the fishing stocks of the Grand Banks were fine. Whether is was the cultural mindset of willfulf denial that made the government hesitant to report the truth and break the spell, or the government consciously perpetuating said mindset is unknown. Maybe both. But we've only recently been able to recognize that natural resources have limits. W hasn't gotten there yet. He's a Texan. He comes from a frontier state that still has a frontier mindset. He's not interested in protecting wilderness, he's interested in taming it. He still thinks that he can walk into any bit of land that doesn't already have something on it (caribou don't count), plant a flag and declare it his. That's what he's doing in ANWR. As far as he's concerned, there's nothing there. And that's why the gas prices have all gone up recently. Don't tell me this is a coincidence. The moment the Senate started discussing the vote on approving drilling in ANWR, all the gas prices went up. WHY THE FUCK DIDN'T THE MEDIA REPORT THIS?!?!?!? Everyone (including the Senate) is walking around saying, "gee, regular is up to $1.29 a gallon. We can't afford to buy all this foreign oil. We need to start more drilling in the US. Alaska looks good." Why don't you morons see that the gas prices were deliberately driven up by the government to make you think that? Don't you know what pawns you are? Now here this: YOU ARE A TOOL. At least my cat is getting better. But then, she's the thing I know I'll miss most when I leave for England again, whenever that happens. I'm still counting on September. But she doesn't understand why I have to go, or that I'll be back, or that I'll still love her. She just feels abandoned. She was in terrible condition when I got home. If I hadn't come home, I'm sure she'd be dead by now. She had a thyroid condition and she was thin as a rake. No one noticed becasue she has long hair so you couldn't see how thin she'd grown, and no one else ever pets her. When i got here and petted her, I could feel all the bones of her spine. And her fur was all matted, and she wasn't taking care of herself. I took her to the vet and got her on medicine for her thyroid and some for her liver and pain killers for her arthritis and got her de-flead, and she's healthy and happy and she sits in my lap every evening and purrs and follows me about and looks cute all the fucking time and her grooming is better so she doesn't have any more mats in her fur and all is well. And I can't stand the thought of leaving her again. I actually contemplated staying here until she dies, but that could be years yet. She's 17, but she could make it to 20 if she's properly looked after. She's lithe and nimble and still jumps up on things and chases bugs and stares at specks in the carpet (go read 9 Chickweed lane -- it's too true!) and flops in sunbeams and flicks her tail and has a great life. But if I leave -- when I leave -- she won't be as well looked after. She won't get her medication regularly, and when it runs out, the prescriptions won't get refilled. I'm not saying my parents are bad people, but she's my cat and they just won't put a lot of effort in. And she'll deteriorate and die. I can't stand it I can't fucking stand the thought. How can I leave? But how can i stay? I'm going insane with having to bite my tongue every 10 seconds, with not being able to tell my parents anything i'm feeling because i'm not allowed and it would be ungrateful to express dissatisfation and the current living arrangement. I can't tell them that the things they say and do sometimes upset me. I'm ready to scream every minute of the day. Right now I can't stand them, and that's one of the saddest things, because I've always had a really good relationship with my parents. I like them a lot; they're neat people. But part of maintaing that good relationshipe means keeping our distance and giving each other appropriate space. I don't want my living here to ruing my frienship with my parents. I don't want my leaving to kill my cat with neglect. And god forbid, what if I don't get accepted anywhere. I don't even have a plan B right now. I'm so determined to get into uni for Ph.D. i have made any arrangements for a backup scenario. What if i'm not accepted. I'm screwed. I have no idea what I would do. I'm afraid to even think about it. And while I'm definately not moving back to England for someone esle - I'm doing it for me - I would be lying if I were to claim that there wasn't another person who's a factor in all this. Last fall I met someone who, well, I don't believe in the The One. I refuse to. But i've been alone for a really long time, wait, not last fall, two falls ago. god it doesn't seem like that long. OK, two falls ago I met someone with whom I think there exists the possiblity of a really good long-term relationship. He's more than just cute smart and funny. Cute Smart Funny is dime a dozen. I know a million guys who are CSF. This one's just on another level entirely. He's the most honest, trustworthy person I've ever met. I would trust him with my life, my children, and my checkbook. He's good people. Maybe it won't work out, but goddman it I have to know. I can't sit here with that kind of potential sitting over there. I can't spend the rest of my life wondering "what if..." I need to be there, see if he's still interested, and maybe make it fly. If it crashes and burns, or if he no longer has any feelings for me whatsoever, fine. But i need to know that. This limbo shit is for the birds. I've spent the entire year waiting. I can't stand waiting. I've lost patience and now I need to make my life happen, rather than sitting here waiting for it to happen to me. Trite and cliche' I know, but true. Cliche's do come from a kernel of truth. Are you bored yet? Are you still reading? Get a life, man. This isn't for you. Quit wasting your time reading my short sentences. You're doing what I'm complaining about: living a life that isn't yours. This isn't for you. This is for me to expunge my thoughts and purge the bowels of my brain. This is for posterity, for all the people who will claw each other's eyes out for the chance to write my biography. I'm going to be famous someday, after I've won my gold medal in women's pairs and been elected the first female president of the USA and been awarded a Pulitzer, and people will want to know what I was thinking when I was 26. They'll want to what I was thinking and doing during the time that I came back to the nest for a year, and I won't be able to tell them because I will have blessedly forgotten, and will be all the happier for it. I don't want to remember a minute of this year. My eyes are losing focus and my fingers rapidly losing dexterity, so I'm going to quit now, take my antibiotic (for my acne; as if all of the above wasn't enough, my face took this time to erupt like a volcanic pizza) and go to bed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Lots to bitch about

There needs to be blogging. There has been a distinct lack of blogging lately. Thus, I have much to bitch about.


1. I lied. It's not spring yet. It's still fucking SNOWING! Tomorrow is Easter and the pond is still frozen. Maybe I'll go ice skating, just so I can tell my kids I skated on Easter Sunday. There are no flowers blooming.

2. The whole Terri Schiavo thing. I have several problems with this case, which I shall divide into two categories:
a- Shit the media has done to piss me off, and
b- Shit the government/president has done to piss me off.

Regarding the first category, "Shit the media has done to piss me off," my principle beef is with the half-assed coverage. This story has been smothering the airwaves for days, but despite the 24/7 coverage, most media outlets still only manage to report a fraction of the facts. They like to show clips of Terri's brother sounding affectionate and optimistic, saying things like "we just want to try to help her before we take out the feeding tube. Why don't they try some physical therapy?" What they neglect to report is that Mrs. Shiavo underwent intensive physical therapy for 2 1/2 years after the onset of her vegetative condition. She was taken to the best experts in the country, who all concluded that she showed NOT ONE SIGN OF IMPROVEMENT.

The media tell us that doctors' opinions are split as to whether or not she's actually in a Persistant Vegetative State. What they don't tell you is that EVERY SINGLE doctor appointed by a court has concluded that she IS in a PVS, and the ONLY doctors who disagree with that assessment are all members of the political extremist Right-To-Life organization, and were hired by Schiavo's family, who have been fighting to keep her on artificial life support for 15 years, in accordance with that organization's code of ethics.

Terri's husband has been living with another woman for some years. (After all, his wife has been a vegetable for 15 years, and 40% of her brain is actually LIQUID, so we don't blame him for wanting a little comfort and some semblance of a life.) Terri's parents and brother want him to divorce Terri, thereby abandoning his legal rights to make decisions regarding her condition, and giving them power to keep her "alive" forever. They claim that the only reason he hasn't divorced her is because he wants to keep the $750 thousand dollar settlement which he was awarded when Terri went all broccoli. What they don't tell you is that settlement is GONE. It's all been spent on Terri's care. When she finally shits the bed, her husband gets bubkis. But wait, there's more. Not only have Terri's parents accused her husband of trying to "kill" her for money, but in fact several organizations, including the Right-To-Life, have attempted to bribe the hubby to put the feeding tube BACK IN! He's turned down millions of dollars in favor of ending his wife's suffering, but the news networks don't like to tell us that.

Finally, the "news" networks (I use that term liberally) have allowed the Schaivos to use them for their own personal gain and glory. The decision to remeove people from artificial life support happens thousands of times every day in America, but most of us don't have the resources to hire personal publicity agents to get our story spread all over the media. Fox and CNN and MSNBC and all of those idiots have allowed themselves to be sucked into one family's personal quarrel, rather than reporting real news which is happening all over the globe every second of the day. Shame on all of you, you spineless money-grubbing pussbags.

Regarding the government, I am specifically pissed at W and Congress (big surprise there). Congress, like the media, has allowed their agenda to be dictated by the Schaivos and the media. Right to die issues have always been considered the domain of state government, and is thus the reason why the Shaivos had no recourse in federal courts. Congress met, OUT OF SESSION, to come back and pass a new law which puts the Shaivos case in the federal arena. The hypocrisy of this incenses me. Eight years ago during the Clinton years the Republicans NEVER would have voted in favor of federalizing a states' rights issue. The claim for DECADES of the Republican party has been that the central, federal government should have LESS authority. This was the party of "small government." But lo, that was before they CONTROLLED the federal government. Now they're all about diminishing states' rights, the back-peddling fuckwads.

But the fun doesn't stop there. I've spent the past week watching the same soundbite of W over and over. You know the one, where he's giving his speech before Congress, saying that "It's always better to err on the side of life." Yeah. This from the man who as governor of Texas executed more criminals than every other state combined, and who passed a law in Texas that permitted doctors to remove children from life-support equipment over the objections of the parents if the parents did not have adequate insurance coverage!!!!! So when he says, "It's always better to err on the side of life," what he really means is "as long as the person in question isn't black (as most death-row criminals in Texas are) or costing me any money." And all the braindead, candle-burning, crucifix-toting automatons in front of the capitol building THINK HE'S WONDERFUL. I hate this country I hate this country I hate this country I hate this country I hate this country I hate the country I hate the country.

3. My parents. (Did you forget that I'm bitching about everything here, not just the Terri Schaivo case?) They send me mixed messages. They tell me they expect one thing, I do it, and they yell at me for not doing something else, which I was apparently supposed to learn about throuh telepathy, then blame me for being imperceptive. I shit you not. At the moment, though, they feed me and put a roof over my head, so I humbly acknowledge the five lights and slink off to a corner to mope (not letting them see me mope, of course, because I'm not allowed to be sad or express any unpleasant emotions because that indicates I'm ungrateful for their help and they yell some more and cry and tell me how much I've hurt THEIR feelings). Then I bitch about it to you because I have no other outlet. Not even rowing, which is driving me to the brink of suicide.

4. Brown's lake is still frozen over. I can't borrow Richard's scull and hit the water until it fucking THAWS, whenever the fuck that will happen.

Other bits in the news:

The Pope is dying; may already be dead. All they show on the TV now is the back of his head. I've got a theory that he's already dead, and what we're seeing is his body which has been convincingly propped up. I think they're waiting to announce his death on Easter Sunday, so they can say it's a sign that he died on the holiest day of the year and speed up the cannonization process. In any case, the cardinals are already circling the Vatican, flapping about like great ruddy buzzards. Let's hope the new pope doesn't tell the nice people of Spain that it's a sin to use a condom to prevent the spread of HIV. I guess AIDS, like pregnancy, is all a part of God's Great Plan.

The Episcopal church of Scotland announced this week that being a practicing homosexual will not prevent you from becoming a priest. Leave it to the Scots to be the only people making any sense in this mad mad mad mad mad mad mad mad world. Thank you, Scotland; thank you.

(editor's note: I have no idea why the font size is out of wack. It won't le me change it for some reason. One more thing to bitch about, I suppose.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Spring has sprung.

'Bout goddamn fucking time, too.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Cry for help

Today I wear black. I am mourning the loss of conscience and decency in the United States government. (At this rate, I'll be wearing more black than Queen Victoria.) The aforementioned legislative body has recently committed yet another atrocity, this one environmental in nature.

The US Senate recently passed a bill that would allow oil companies to begin drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. ANWR is one of the most pristine wildlife habitats remaining on earth. The bill still needs to go through the House of Reps, but that's controlled by the Republicans too. This is how W is spending the "political capitol" he was talking about after the most recent innaguration.

It's probably not much, but it's better than nothing. Check out Senator Barbara Boxer's Pac for Change. From this website you can very easily send emails to the CEOs of 5 major oil companies. The email threatens to boycott any companies that drill in ANWR. Now, if all 5 of the them drill, we're pretty much SOL. But if one or two drill and watch their sales plummet, the message will get across. It will serve as a deterent to the others, who will be watching their sales rise as a result. It takes about 10 seconds and 3 clicks of your mouse to do this.

After you've done that, one more click will let you download hard copies of the letters, with your name and address already at the top, looking very professional and snazzy. Download them, print them, sign them, and pop them in the post. Smile at the mental image of all those big rich boys' desks being buried in protest mail, and then follow though on your word. When you see on the news that ExxonMobil is drilling in ANWR, go buy BP instead. All these people care about is money, and that's all they'll listen to. Tell them loud and clear with your wallets that new drilling is not the solution to global energy problems.

Thank you.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The leaves that are green...

I thought of a brilliant blog last night while sitting on the throne, but i didn't have a computer handy and i'll be damned if i can remember it now. Makes me wonder how many other articles of sheer genius i've lost during the night. or down the crapper. shit=genius? hmm.

at the moment i'm frantically trying to assemble applications, proposals, refrences, and transcripts (from 2 universities) for 3 more Ph.D. programs. York can get bent. After my mind has settled down a little (like that'll ever happen) i'll get back to the regular complaining. See you then.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

How to ensure that today will be a good day:

wake up in the morning with 4 purrring cats plastered to you like barnacles.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

We think we've come so far

Being a medievalist is both depressing and uplifting. I see the way W has manipulated the media and become shocked by the parallels between his propoganda machine and the one employed by Henry IV after he deposed Richard II in 1399. I think, my god, we're all still just a bunch of barbairans with a few notable technological advances. Then I go and read about poor HC's freezing situation and I am reminded that the technology upon which we've become so dependent is really very fragile, and we are not so far removed from the days of plagues, freezing, and starvation as we like to believe.

Have we really left the middle ages? Ruthless men still control the vast majority of the wealth, we are still fighting crusades to justify said ruthless men's vanities, in America thousands of people freeze and starve to death every year (many of them children) and we do nothing. What separtates us from our medieval ancestors? The Renaissance, that re-discovery of classical thought and culture? The Age of Enlightenment and rise of the virutes of reason and rationality? The Industrial Revolution maybe? A lot has changed, that can't be argued, but more and more I feel those changes are merely superficial. The poor are exploited by the rich now every bit as much now as they were 800 years ago. Instead of being forced to pay their lord to grind their wheat so they can make bread (one element of a system which made it nearly impossible to achieve financial independence), the poor today are targeted by dozens of financial "assistance" institutions who "help" them get out of debt by offering more loans at interest rates that would make Shylock blush. In 1205 King John began raising taxes across the board to finance his military incursions into France (an attempt to regain the territories which he had just lost). In 2005 George Bush is still raising taxes to finance his military incursions into the middle east. John taxed his barons, who were able to cough up the dough only by passing the burden along to the serfs. W withheld federal funding for state programs, forcing the states to make up the deficit by cutting programs which normally assist poor families and neighborhoods. It's amazing how little has changed.

Depressing as all this is, the continuity is strangely reassuing. Whenever I look around and decide that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, I think about how little the world has changed in the last thousand years. The rich and powerful still exploit and abuse those on whose backs they stand, but life goes on. Somehow, despite the injustice, despite the carnage, despite the systematic maltreatment, life goes on. And though my knowledge of classical history wouldn't fill the memory banks of a 5-dollar digital watch, I'm confident in saying that these problems are much older than a thousand years. Exploitation of the poor was not a medieval invention. It was an ancient tradition then, inherited from previous millenia of human existance. And somehow, life goes on. Despite all, there is still love, there is still happiness (not to be confused with love, because it seems the latter rarely stems from the former), there is still joy and excitement and laughter and puppies and chocolate and friendship and watermelon seed-spitting contests and a host of other things worth living for. So yes, the world sucks, but no, it isn't falling apart. Armegeddon isn't on the horizon. The world is just going about business as usual in the same way it has since the big caveman figured out that if he clubbed the little caveman on the head he got extra mastadon meat for dinner. By nature, we are no more civilized than he. Better dressed, yes, but no more civilized.

Monday, March 07, 2005

You know you're living in a cultural vortex when...

you walk into a music store and ask for a CD by Yo Yo Ma, and the goth bimbo behind the counter thinks you're talking about a new punk group called Yo Mama.

Get me out of here.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

ergometers and evolution

Normally after winning an athletic victory I would be bouncing up and down corridors, proclaiming my superiority to all and sundry, and in general behaving like a total prig. Not this time, however. Last night I won the ergo contest at my local YMCA. Not only won, but won it big, with a time 13 seconds lower than the second-place finisher. I kicked ass, really and truly. But not the ass I wanted to kick.

I made a crucial error before the competition. I asked Sinewy Sculler, the orgainzer, what the fastest time in the elite women's division was so far, and he told me. It was pitiful. It was slower than the time it would take me to do a warm-up 2K. I knew I could beat that time without breaking a sweat. Consequently, I had little motivation to row my hardest.

I wish to god now that I had. I had a respectable time, and as I said it was by far the fastest time of the day, but it wasn't my best. So yeah, I kicked everyone else's ass, but I didn't kick my own. And ultimately, if i'm not challenging myslef, i might as well sit on the couch with a beer and a bag of chips and bloat til i float.

It's worth noting, though, that psychologically it's really difficult to work harder than you need to. As humans we have a tendency to only do what's necessary. Maybe it's a leftover from our days in trees and caves, where it would have been an evolutionary disadvantage to expend unnecessary energy. As a competitive athlete, I must always fight against the tendency to only work as hard as necessary. I must always, Always, ALWAYS work my absolute hardest. Even when I lose, if I did my very best, I'm pleased with myself. This is the first time in my life I did less than my best and won anyway. Strange, and strangely disappointing.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Popes, hopes, and hypocrisy

Today is the first of March. So why the fuck did I spend the morning shoveling a foot of fucking snow?!?!? I know it's Michigan and this might not even be the last of the snow, but every time I walk outside I can't help but think of the crocuses that are blooming in Whitworth Park in Machester at this very moment. Mumph. (Seriously, how fucking bleak does it have to be before you find yourself longing for the beauty of Manchester?! Think about it.)

As you've all probably heard by now, the Holy Father is not is good health. Yeah, there's a shocker. Apparently he's recently undergone a tracheotomy. (For those of you who don't watch ER, that's when they make an incision in your trachea through the front of your neck and insert a plastic breathing tube, at which point you breath through a hole in the front of your neck rather than through your nose or mouth. Shorter route = less resistance = easier breathing.) What got me was all the photos of people standing outside the Vatican praying for the ol' pontif. Here's my question: What EXACTLY are they praying for?

Are they praying for his health? Too late, folks.

Are they praying that he doesn't die? I don't think I need to waste a lot of space on the obvious futility of that. Besides which, it's not like he won't be immediately replaced by yet another out-of-touch, conservative, cellibate old fart who will continue the current out-of-touch, conservative, cellibate old fart's inane policies (like the use of condoms to control the spread of AIDS is evil) and positions (like abortion in America is the new Holocaust). When the old coot finally shits the bed, whenever that happens, absolutely nothing will change, so why stress over the guy's death?

Are they praying for his soul? That's a good one. If HIS sould needs prayin' for, we're all S.O.L. If there's any prayers for soul-savin' to be said, he should be saying 'em for the rest of us.

Perhaps they're praying that he doesn't suffer? Well, that's nice, but frankly there are millions of people in this world who are suffering a fuck lot more than the pope. This is a man who has live a life of extreme luxury for his entire adult existence. He was born in Poland, a nation not known in the 20th century for its lavishness, so he may well have had humble beginnings, but since becoming pope in 1978 (or was it 79?) he has wanted for NOTHING. No, if people are concerned with the relief of suffering, their prayers are better directed elsewhere.

So what does that leave? I can't figure it out. All these people with their candles and vigils; what is it they want (besides a chance at being seen on national TV)? Or perhaps that's it. Perhaps these are the very people of whom Jesus spoke when he said "When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Matthew 6, 5-6)