Friday, August 21, 2015

Raising the Wrecktory

"And, we should remember, Milwaukee is at odds with the vast majority of dioceses around the globe. In almost all places in the world, priests still live in rectories. The twenty year period of priests moving out of rectories in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, is more likely an historical aberration than a trend for the future."
Our now-Pastor Fr. Aaron Esch so wrote in his column in last Sunday's bulletin (page 2) to answer another of the 'Rectory/Outreach Building—Frequently Asked Questions'.

Seems reasonable, considering this from the Code of Canon Law.

"Can. 533 §1. A pastor is obliged to reside in a rectory near the church. Nevertheless, in particular cases and if there is a just cause, the local ordinary can permit him to reside elsewhere, especially in a house shared by several presbyters, provided that the performance of parochial functions is properly and suitably provided for."
That was not how closing the Rectory came about at St. Alphonsus, see The once and future Rectory?

So how has the proposal to return to the Rectory as priests' residence been received?

The 'Rectory/Outreach Building Survey Results' in the July 19, 2015 parish bulletin(page 2) say that out of 410 respondents given five options, 343 (83.66%) favored "renovate existing building".

The 'Rectory/Outreach Building Survey Results' in the July 26, 2015 parish bulletin (page 2) say respondents supported "a capital campaign for debt reduction and renovation of the rectory" 406 to 42.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What Would WFB Do?

James Taranto on 'Robert Welch, Donald Trump and the urge to purge', yesterday in Best of the Web at The Wall Street Journal, which links to William F. Buckley's essay "The Question of Robert Welch" (National Review, February 13, 1962, p. 83).

Sunday, August 9, 2015

An alternative to consensus?

Adam Bryant interviewed Kevin E. Lofton, C.E.O. of Catholic Health Initiatives, a Colorado-based health system, in the Corner Office feature at The New York Times.
"What’s unusual about the culture of your current company?

"In our senior management meetings, we appoint a designated devil’s advocate, as we call it. So if we’re discussing a critical issue, we’ll appoint someone — and the role rotates — to be the devil’s advocate, no matter what their personal point of view is. That helps you avoid groupthink."

In case it's needed, here's some background on that term at Wikipedia.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

I'm glad you asked that question

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Akhmatova on Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani as recalled by Anna Akhmatova, Bol’shevo 1958-Moscow 1964, translated by Djemma Bider, at The New York Review of Books

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A plaque on both your houses

That was the title of a notice for Beth Schuler's 50% off ceramics sale, in the Sales and Bargains column, by Emily Fischer, at New York magazine.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Law seeks answers on high school grads who need remedial classes

Alan J. Borsuk with some commentary on recently passed 2015 Wisconsin Act 28, at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

What is the scope of the problem?

"In December 2013, UW officials released a report that showed that almost a quarter of students systemwide were required to take remedial courses. About 20% were assigned to math remediation and a bit under 10% to English remediation (the numbers overlap because some need both).

"The math figure was at 20% in 1990, but it trended down to about 10% by 2000 before heading back up to the one-in-five mark by 2007. It stayed there in following years.

"At some campuses, and for graduates of some high schools, the remedial percentage is surely lower. And for some it is much higher. The 2013 report showed the remedial rate at UW-Madison was less than 1%. For UW-Milwaukee, it was almost 37% and for UW-Parkside, it was over 65%."

A parent had asked State Rep. John Jagler (R-Watertown) how a kid can graduate in good standing from a Wisconsin high school yet need remedial classes upon entering the state university.
"Jagler has an additional question: How come so little is known about this? UW officials have compiled reports on remediation, and they have detailed their work dealing with it. But the issue gets little attention, the data is not widely known and results haven't improved much."
One might think this would get the attention of administration and faculty in UW Schools of Education. If they're teaching people to teach, why do so many kids need remediation? And if they're not teaching people to teach, do they have a plan to improve?
"Jagler became the lead sponsor of a little-noted bill that was approved by both houses of the Legislature and signed a few days ago by Gov. Scott Walker that calls for UW administrators to determine which public high schools (including charter schools, but not private schools) send into the UW system more than six graduates in any given year who need remedial math and/or English."
(I would have looked at putting this in terms of percentages of a high school's graduating class and its accepted students.)
"The new law calls for UW to send a report on what schools make that list to appropriate legislative committees and to the state superintendent of public instruction. (Department of Public Instruction officials asked during the legislative process to be included in the law since they, too, wanted to see the list.)"
Better late than never.
"Over the last several years, many schools altered their goals to say they wanted to get students ready not only to get into college but to succeed in college."
That the former did not mean the latter comes as a surprise.

Monday, July 13, 2015

'In 2005'?

John L. Allen Jr. at Crux
"In 2005, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina wrote a foreword to a book [Una apuesta por America Latina (A Commitment to Latin America)] by a Vatican official from Uruguay named Guzmán Carriquiry, in which the future pontiff argued that Latin America has a pivotal role to play in the major ideological battles of the early 21st century.

"Drawing on Argentina’s Peronist heritage, Bergoglio said that Latin America can lead the way towards a 'third position' between Communism and free-market capitalism."

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015

‘Everyman’ coming to theaters

Michael Gorra at NYR Events,
"It’s running in London at the National Theatre, but this summer it will also be simulcast to movie houses in the United States: the late medieval miracle play Everyman, updated by Carol Ann Duffy, directed by Rufus Norris, and with Chiwetel Ejifor in the title role. Or in other words, playing us. The staging looks at once minimalist, and wild, Fellini crossed with Wilson. July 16;

"Rebroadcasts vary from theater to theater. For more information, visit"

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Six Flags Adds Sleeper Cars To Its Roller Coasters For Passengers Who Prefer More Restful Ride

Reported at The Onion.

On the other hand, wouldn't it actually make sense to replace the old-timey perimeter railroad with steam engine, like the Scenic Railway at Six Flags Great America, with a roller coaster along the lines Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Journal Sentinel responsive, but less so than Rip Van Winkle

"The Milwaukee Journal retired the Green Sheet in 1994. Readers have been calling for its return ever since.

"You talked. We listened! The Green Sheet is coming back on Monday, May 25th!"

So says a full page ad, on white newsprint but with green background, on the back page of section A of today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (Here's the Green Sheet's Wikipedia entry.)

There was also an article attempting to explain the revival.

"'Our readers have never stopped asking us to bring the Green Sheet back, even after 21 years,' said Journal Sentinel Editor George Stanley. 'Many readers, including some in their 30s, told us they learned to read through the Green Sheet; they wrestled their brothers and sisters over it; their parents read it with them before they could read on their own. Many also missed the lighter side of daily life the Green Sheet offered.'"
So why was it dropped? My impression is the editors regarded the Green Sheet as too provincial, too Milwaukee in a Laverne and Shirley sense. I suspect they'd also hear this from staff and subscribers who had moved here from elsewhere. All the Green Sheet had going for it was that it was popular with subscribers and readers who grew up with it, which wasn't enough since the paper regarded them as too Milwaukee, as well. [Update: see my earlier post on GS editor Wade Mosby.]

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

PC to Chromebook: uploading files

My new Chromebook works fine, but to be a PC replacement, I need by files available from it. Which can be daunting when one has been accumulating files for 20 years.

Google provides an overview of Transitioning from other computers to a Chromebook, but on some topics it's pretty general.

Step one, if one doesn't already have one, is to open a Google account.

Step two is

"Migrate your files

"You probably have a bunch of files stored on other computers at home. Install Google Drive on your Mac or PC and download your essential documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Then find your files in the Google Drive folder that is conveniently built into the Files app on your Chromebook."

Which appears to mean by download to copy files documents to the Google Drive folder on one's PC, and they'll be available on the Chromebook. [Update: here's how to Install Google Drive on your Mac/PC.]

Having a long-established website, I have a lot of web pages on my PC. I edit them offline and can proofread them offline before uploading them to my web host. Google says one can Host webpages with Drive by selecting the Share option (button) on a web page in Drive. What I'll need to investigate first is how to preview web pages in Drive using a web browser.

Over many years, I've accumulated a lot of digital photos on my PC. Derek Walter anticipated my question, Save Photos in Google+ or Google Drive? As of a couple years ago, at least, he suggested activating any available the Instant Update feature on a smartphone, which will put the photos in Google+. Presumably that would be the place to copy photos already on a PC, as well. After any editing of the photos, he then copies them from Google+ to Google Drive.

Contemplating the potential move of at least some of thousands of audio files lead me to Arpit Kumar's suggestion on how to Transfer Files To Chromebooks from Windows, Android and iOS by installing the Intel Easy Migration extension to the Chrome browser on both machines. My PC and Chromebook both have Intel processors, so I've done this.

Now it's just a matter of "pressing the button" and hoping I'm not overwhelmed by the transfered files.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Template for weekend TV reporters

"(Name) was (killed/shot/stabbed) tonight by his (brother/father/son/sister/husband/wife/friend) in an argument over a (card game/drug deal/woman/family dispute)."
-Carol Larson

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The once and future Rectory?

Two weeks ago our parish Parochial Administrator (not yet formally made Pastor by our Archbishop) included with the bulletin this letter about a possible Capital Campaign. And in doing so he says,
"I wanted to introduce into the conversation the possibility of reclaiming part of the Rectory building for housing."
More on that below.

The possible campaign stems from two issues, the condition of the Outreach House, which had been the Rectory, and the mortgage balance. Both the Rectory conversion and the mortgage came out of the parish building project early last decade.

That project, you might recall, also included a new Day/Adoration Chapel. Its proposed design was, from my perspective, the bait that got me to pledge for the first round of that capital campaign. And the switch to construct it to a very different design (see as-built photo) was what got me to not pledge or give to any subsequent rounds of capital fundraising. As I've said, fool me once, etc..

You might also recall that our Parochial Administrator not long ago announced that the Chapel would be rearranged to better accomodate Eucharist Adoration. (see second photo) This rearrangement is essentially that shown in those architects renderings around 15 years ago. So what could I do; even though there was then no campaign, I started sending in checks designated for the mortgage.

A lesser bitter taste had been left by the closing of the Rectory as a residence for priests in connection with that circa 2002 project. For a very brief summary of how that came about, see the later part of my June 28, 2005 post and my comment to it. When I joined the Parish Council in 1996, there was already an evaluation of the parish's use of its buildings in progress. This included consideration of possible changes in the use of the Rectory building, then occupied by two priests and some parish offices. There was not, as far as I can see, a parish decision to convert the Rectory to other uses. And a proposal to demolish it as part of the circa 2002 building project drew enough objections (including from me) that the building remains.

That bitter taste wasn't just from seeing "how the sausage is made", here someone's desired result of not having a Rectory as such at St. Al's. It was that a priest-tenant not assigned to our parish would otherwise have continued to live there, and within a few years a new Associate Pastor was surprised to learn it was not available to live in. As far as I can tell, we might have had four priests living in it now if it had remained a Rectory.

In his letter, our Parochial Administrator went on,

"It would be my dream to be back in residence at St. Alphonsus. The parish is my family and I would love the ability to live in the family home. Therefore, some of the options that the Finance Council will present to for our consideration will include space for several priests to rent from the parish, still leaving room for vital ministries critical to our mission."
I see that our Pope made a point of encouraging our priests to live simply. Owning a home, or even a condo, and commuting to work never struck me as simple compared to living in a parish rectory. Given that there had been that push to demolish the Rectory 15 years ago, it's hard to believe it's essential for office space today, other than than offices for the priests.