Monday Late Afternoon Open Thread: Popes and Monsters

Artwork by Edward Gorey

Artwork by Edward Gorey

Good Afternoon

I have to take my daughter to her dentist appointment in Atlanta this afternoon, so I am writing this post early…way early! If any of these links I have to share with you are repeats, sorry about that.

By now everyone has heard the shocking news out of Vatican City: Pope Benedict surprises world, steps down citing frailty

Pope Benedict surprised the world on Monday by saying he no longer had the mental and physical strength to cope with the demands of his ministry, becoming the first pontiff to step down since the Middle Ages and leaving his aides “incredulous”.

The 85-year-old German-born Pope, hailed as a hero by conservative Catholics and viewed with suspicion by liberals, said he had noticed that his strength had deteriorated over recent months.

A Vatican spokesman said the Pope had not resigned because of “difficulties in the papacy” and the decision had been a surprise, indicating that even his closest aides were unaware that he was about to quit. The Pope does not fear schism in the Church after his resignation, the spokesman said.

Pope Benedict XVI Says He Will Resign

After examining his conscience “before God,” he said in a statement that reverberated around the world on the Internet and social media sites, “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his position as head of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.

A profoundly conservative figure whose papacy was overshadowed by clerical abuse scandals, Benedict, 85, was elected by fellow cardinals in 2005 after the death of John Paul II.

Fox News had this picture up with its article reporting Benedict’s resignation: Pope Benedict to become first pontiff in 600 years to resign

021113_ff_morris

Innit cute? Almost like he is taking his hat off in a goodbye salute…its a much better image for this story than the picture that Fox News had up earlier this week on a story about traditional gender roles.

Oops! Don’t Tell Fox News They’ve Got Pic Of Lesbian Couple For Column On Traditional Marriage Gender Roles

This afternoon, author Jessica Valenti hilariously pointed out that a Fox News column about traditional gender roles in marriage is accidentally accompanied by a photograph of two lesbian newly-weds exchanging a kiss.

The FoxNews.com column in question was written by Suzanne Venker, the niece of social conservative hero Phyllis Schlafly, and previous author of the roundly-panned column on how it’s all women’s fault that there is a “battle of the sexes.”

Venker’s latest column, titled “To be happy, we must admit women and men aren’t ‘equal’” laments that in modern marriage, “men and women have no idea who’s supposed to do what,” all because of “feminists” who preach a “new way” of thinking about gender. Men and women now believe they can do the same things “without ramifications,” she wrote:

“Being equal in worth, or value, is not the same as being identical, interchangeable beings. Men and women may be capable of doing many of the same things, but that doesn’t mean they want to. That we don’t have more female CEOs or stay-at-home dads proves this in spades.”

Knowing the author and subject of the column, it’s pretty much a given that the featured image is an unintentional (but, indeed, hilarious) inclusion:

Turns out, that’s a stock image of Alaskan same-sex couple Stephanie Figarelle and Lela McArthur, who were wed atop the Empire State Building early last year…

Bwaaahahaaaaaaa!

via HuffPost:

Awesome!

Fox eventually took the picture down and replaced it with the generic stick figure image you usually see on restroom doors:

Oh well, it was funny while it lasted.

Now a couple of weather stories…

Snowbound Cattle – Political Cartoon by Richard Bartholomew, Artizans.com – 02/11/2013

BarthR120130211_low

Look…Cows!

You need to click the links to these next articles because they are a bit too involved to quote from.

Cliff Mass Weather Blog: The U.S. Weather Prediction Computer Gap

It happened again. 

A major storm hit the northeast U.S. and the U.S. global model lagged badly behind the predictions of the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) .  Just as with Sandy.

Scientific American:  New Simulations Question the Gulf Stream’s Role in Tempering Europe’s Winters

For a century, schoolchildren have been taught that the massive ocean current known as the Gulf Stream carries warm water from the tropical Atlantic Ocean to northwestern Europe. As it arrives, the water heats the air above it. That air moves inland, making winter days in Europe milder than they are in the northeastern U.S.

It might be time to retire that tidy story.

This next article makes me think of the scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail…the one where the old lady is beating the cat against the wall…Do Not Try to Recreate This 16th-Century German Cat Bomb at Home

 

It’s not a good idea, no matter what the Feuer Buech says.
catandbirdrocket.jpg

Illustration, cat and bird with rocket packs (University of Pennsylvania).Think you’re the first person to consider the offensive capabilities of cats and birds in a hypothetical war against zombies space invaders enemies of the Holy Roman Empire? Think again!
The Germans beat you to it by about 425 years, as proven by this painting, which BibliOdyssey found and The Appendix Journal posted to its Tumblr. The manuscript from which it was drawn was called “Feuer Buech,” which I’m guessing translates from the old German to English as “Fire Book.” It’s a “treatise on munitions and explosive devices, with many illustrations of the various devices and their uses.”

Well, I am not sure how they could get the cat to walk into the fortification on its own…it probably would need to get a little help from its friends:

Since we had a cat story, how about a dog story? According to the BBC:  Dogs understand human perspective, say researchers

Dogs are more capable of understanding situations from a human’s point of view than has previously been recognised, according to researchers.

They found dogs were four times more likely to steal food they had been forbidden, when lights were turned off so humans in the room could not see.

This suggested the dogs were able to alter their behaviour when they knew their owners’ perspective had changed.

I wonder if a dog would alter their behavior because a human put a rocket backpack on it?*

The experiments had been trying to find whether dogs could adapt their behaviour in response to the changed circumstances of their human owners.

It wanted to see if dogs had a “flexible understanding” that could show they understood the viewpoint of a human.

*Note, my comment was snarky and not in the best of taste, but I needed to put some perspective on these stories.  Animals have been used during wartime throughout history.

Check this out: 6 Insane Uses of Animals in Wartime (That Actually Worked) **

(**Uh, just a post script to my note….that link goes to a 2011 Cracked Magazine post, but they cite real articles and state true facts, go figure!)

Last story for you this afternoon, and it deals with a monster from the reptile world…no it is not another story about the Church, World’s largest crocodile dies in Philippines

http://cdn.physorg.com/newman/gfx/news/2013/lolongworlds.jpg
February 11, 2013 Lolong, world’s largest saltwater crocodile in captivity, pictured in Bunawan, the Philippines, on September 21, 2011 Enlarge Lolong, a one-tonne, 6.17 metres crocodile believed to be the biggest to have ever been caught, is seen in a caged pen in the southern Philippine town of Bunawan, on September 21, 2011. Lolong has died, 17 months after the suspected man-eater was hunted down and put on display for tourists, according to his caretakers.

You may remember this beast from a story I shared with you a couple of years ago: Monster crocodile gets own park in Philippines

http://cdn.physorg.com/newman/gfx/news/hires/2011/the21foot64m.jpg

Philippine villagers examine the giant crocodile after its capture on September 4. A monster crocodile which is reputedly the world’s largest is the star attraction at its own nature park which opened in the Philippines this weekend, weeks after the beast’s capture.

That is one picture I haven’t forgotten, I am pretty sure you probably haven’t forgotten it either.  Oooof!

This is an open thread…