NYT on Flash Mass

From the NYT:

CLEVELAND — The glory days of Holy Ghost Church were years ago, when Catholics packed into the wooden pews, beneath a starry barrel-vaulted ceiling, listening to bells and kissing icons as priests in colorful robes intoned in ancient tongues the liturgies of a faraway land.

The congregation dwindled so much that in 2009 the church was closed, but on a bright Sunday this summer, Holy Ghost was alive again. Mary Matei, visiting from Knoxville, Tenn., snapped pictures on her iPhone as priests sang Mass, while Ann Cogar and Sue Koch, sisters from suburban Cleveland, admired stained glass windows and statuary.

They were taking part in a Mass mob — the latest trend in Rust Belt Catholicism — which is part heritage tour and part mixer (crudités in the fellowship hall followed the service). The movement is bringing thousands of suburban Catholics to visit the struggling, and in some cases closed, urban churches of their parents and grandparents. It is also attracting much-needed donations.

Facebook Paying for Employees to Freeze Their Eggs

From NBC:

Two Silicon Valley giants now offer women a game-changing perk: Apple and Facebook will pay for employees to freeze their eggs.

Facebook recently began covering egg freezing, and Apple will start in January, spokespeople for the companies told NBC News. The firms appear to be the first major employers to offer this coverage for non-medical reasons.

“Having a high-powered career and children is still a very hard thing to do,” said Brigitte Adams, an egg-freezing advocate and founder of the patient forum Eggsurance.com. By offering this benefit, companies are investing in women, she said, and supporting them in carving out the lives they want.

When successful, egg freezing allows women to put their fertility on ice, so to speak, until they’re ready to become parents. But the procedure comes at a steep price: Costs typically add up to at least $10,000 for every round, plus $500 or more annually for storage.

1000 Year Old Viking Treasure Hoard Found

From Yahoo:

LONDON (Reuters) – A hoard of Viking gold and silver artifacts dating back over 1,000 years has been discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland, in a find hailed by experts as one of the country’s most significant.

Derek McLennan, a retired businessman, uncovered the 100 items in a field in Dumfriesshire, southwest Scotland, in September.

Amongst the objects is a solid silver cross thought to date from the 9th or 10th century, a silver pot of west European origin, which is likely to have already been 100 years old when it was buried and several gold objects.

“Experts have begun to examine the finds, but it is already clear that this is one of the most significant Viking hoards ever discovered in Scotland,” Scotland’s Treasure Trove unit said in a statement.

Zero Hour

From Lapham’s Quarterly:

In The Burning of the World, his recently discovered memoir of the first few weeks of World War I, the Hungarian artist, officer, and man about town Béla Zombory-Moldován writes frequently about his attachment to his watch. When he’s wounded in the confusion of battle in the forests of Galicia, he finds the watch unscathed during an agonizing evacuation of the area, and exalts the survival of “my trusty companion, sharer of my fate, the comrade that connected me to my former life.” Much more than a watch, it’s almost a miracle: “Not just an object, but a true and staunch friend. I held it in my left hand and marveled at it as it measured off the seconds.”

How to tell time was a matter of survival and strategy during the Great War, a war in which communication technologies had to advance rapidly to keep pace with the new instruments of battle. The war was a crucible of innovation in destruction, in which chlorine gas, tanks, and heavy artillery choked, crushed, and obliterated human bodies in new ways. Vast armies dug in opposite each other across unprecedented distances—the Western Front alone stretched well over four hundred miles, from the Swiss border to the North Sea. Because much of the infantry went underground, it was no longer possible simply to holler or sound a hunting horn as a signal to attack, nor for regiments to advance proudly, and visibly, together on horseback. Instead, it became necessary to coordinate time and to tell it accurately; the practice and the phrasesynchronize watches was born from this need during the war. Officers in crowded trenches watched for second hands to tick down before blowing the whistle and rallying their men, who scrambled up ladders into the awaiting gunfire. The term zero hour, the moment of no return, was first recorded in the New York Times in November 1915: “At 5:05 a.m. September 25 a message came to the dugout that the ‘zero’ hour, that is, the time the gas was to be started, would be at 5:50 a.m.” The irony of ascribing a precise time for an attack as uncontrollable and weather-dependent as gas goes unmentioned.

Reviewing Tushnet’s Latest

This book looks interesting:

If you’re looking for a book that makes an argument for a traditional sexual ethic, we’d recommend searching for an alternative. Unlike many books written by people who hold conservative beliefs on Christian sexual morality, Gay and Catholic isn’t an apologetic. Tushnet takes the traditional sexual ethic as a given and admits that she doesn’t always understand the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings on human sexuality, noting that one can strive to live in accordance with teachings while still having a lot of questions. We find it absolutely refreshing that this book is not an argument for LGBT celibacy.

We found ourselves cheering as Sarah would for the St. Louis Cardinals or Lindsey for the Boston Red Sox when we read Tushnet’s description of how her approach to sexual ethics has changed:

When I first entered the Catholic Church I thought of my role–a lesbian-gay-bisexual-queer-same-sex-attracted Christian–as having two parts: the negative act of not having gay sex and the positive act of intellectually understanding the Church’s teachings. I now see my task much more simply, as the discernment and living out of my vocations: figuring out how God is calling me to love and then pouring myself out into that love.

The Adult in the Mirror

BD McClay:

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood was this summer’s critical hit, achieving for a time a much-coveted 100 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. (It now sits at 99 percent). The film follows a young Texan named Mason as he grows from a quiet child to a disaffected teen, ending when he becomes a college freshman. All of the time passed is real—Mason grows up over twelve years, which is how long the film took to make—and Linklater fills the background with references to remind the audience that these twelve years have passed for them, too. Everybody’s gotten older.

But nobody is growing up. Boyhood is a “coming of age” story only in the most formal sense. There’s no age to come into, no adulthood to achieve, and no adults to be found. Mason’s life is full of older people who burden him with clichéd advice, but they, too, are merely drifting from one event to another without really knowing why.  As Mason’s mother sends him off to college, she unloads her self-pity, telling Mason that raising him was her last “milestone” and that now all she has left is waiting for death. “I thought there would be more,” she says.  But if Mason has learned anything from his elders, it’s not to expect even that much.

This aimlessness is made pointedly clear in a scene in which Mason visits his step-grandparents for his fifteenth birthday. From them, he receives a suit, a Bible, and a gun. They are meant to be signs of his adulthood. But we know, and Mason knows, that he will never touch any of them. They are simply relics of an old way of being in the world, and not one that he wants or even can choose.

What should medicine do when it can’t save your life?

From the New Yorker:

Sara Thomas Monopoli was pregnant with her first child when her doctors learned that she was going to die. It started with a cough and a pain in her back. Then a chest X-ray showed that her left lung had collapsed, and her chest was filled with fluid. A sample of the fluid was drawn off with a long needle and sent for testing. Instead of an infection, as everyone had expected, it was lung cancer, and it had already spread to the lining of her chest. Her pregnancy was thirty-nine weeks along, and the obstetrician who had ordered the test broke the news to her as she sat with her husband and her parents. The obstetrician didn’t get into the prognosis—she would bring in an oncologist for that—but Sara was stunned. Her mother, who had lost her best friend to lung cancer, began crying.

The doctors wanted to start treatment right away, and that meant inducing labor to get the baby out. For the moment, though, Sara and her husband, Rich, sat by themselves on a quiet terrace off the labor floor. It was a warm Monday in June, 2007. She took Rich’s hands, and they tried to absorb what they had heard. Monopoli was thirty-four. She had never smoked, or lived with anyone who had. She exercised. She ate well. The diagnosis was bewildering. “This is going to be O.K.,” Rich told her. “We’re going to work through this. It’s going to be hard, yes. But we’ll figure it out. We can find the right treatment.” For the moment, though, they had a baby to think about.

“So Sara and I looked at each other,” Rich recalled, “and we said, ‘We don’t have cancer on Tuesday. It’s a cancer-free day. We’re having a baby. It’s exciting. And we’re going to enjoy our baby.’ ” On Tuesday, at 8:55 P.M., Vivian Monopoli, seven pounds nine ounces, was born. She had wavy brown hair, like her mom, and she was perfectly healthy.

Gaming to Pay the Rent

From Mashable:

Robert Lee sat down with his parents over dinner at a favorite Chinese restaurant to break the news: He decided to drop out of college after one year at California State University in Fullerton to pursue a career as a professional video game player.

Lee had started to make more than a little money broadcasting his gameplay on Twitch while commuting to school three days a week. He wanted to make that a full-time job.

“The way I saw it, school was always going to be there, but this opportunity to make money playing video games was not always going to be there,” he says.

Almost three years later, Lee is a pro League of Legends player, earning a salary that pays enough to cover rent, clothes, food and a couple luxuries, he says, though he declined to provide a figure. That’s in addition to the millions of dollars in prize money that his team, compLexity, is competing for at tournaments around the world.

In Defense of Male Aggression

Jonathan Chait:

I decided to quit the football team in August 1986, right before the start of the ninth grade. I was a little bigger than most boys my age, but smaller than most of the ones playing football. During one practice, so many of the freshmen tailbacks had gone out hurt that the coaches brought me over from practicing pass routes to the drill that had gotten them hurt in the first place, where the running back served as a kind of human tackling dummy for the junior-varsity linebacker. The quarterback would hand the runner a football, and he would almost immediately be slammed to the ground by an older, stronger boy.

During practice that summer I had established myself as the most inviting target for the JV. My survival instinct was irrepressible; when the moment of impact was at hand, I would automatically cringe and pull back, which only made it easier for my opponent to overpower me. This time, I went through the running-back drill against a perfectly nice but completely terrifying sophomore linebacker. He was sort of big and pretty fast, but the quality that set him apart was a lust for smashing his body into others. I haltingly stutter-stepped trying to take the unfamiliar handoff, and before I had even turned my head around, I was flat on the ground. One of the coaches shook his head, and said admiringly, “That’s the hardest hit I’ve ever seen.” Another, offering the confusion of cause with effect that is the hallmark of youth-football coaching tips, noted, “You stopped moving your feet.” It was true — this tends to happen when you’ve been knocked off them.

“The Niqab Makes Me Feel Liberated.”

Via The Guardian:

I’ve always been the sort of person who loved to experiment, but I never expected that wearing the niqab would be something I’d try.

I felt conflicted before I began to wear it a few months ago. I am aware of the negative perceptions of the niqab, and thought it could change my life drastically. Would it be hard at university, where I study medical science? The majority of the students aren’t Muslim. I wondered whether I would have to be out of sight, out of mind, most of the time.

Would wearing the niqab disconnect me from the world? I hadn’t seen that in other women who wear the niqab or burqa, but considered the worst-case scenario. As it turned out, my fears were misplaced. It’s so much easier than I had thought, and didn’t change my life at all.

Respect and honour don’t come from being like others, or following what others follow – that’s why I put the niqab on. It’s my way of expressing obedience to my lord; it’s a command that I adhere to, through which I find my honour. It is not a garment of oppression, it is a garment that represents a timeless modesty that does not conform to society.