Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hydrogen's Love Affair with Helium

One lonely Hydrogen atom sees how noble Helium is and wants to join with another Hydrogen atom to form a Hydrogen marriage. At first, they just moved in together, but inevitably a third Hydrogen would come along and break up this cohabitation scheme. Finally, they decide to fuse their nuclei like Helium.

The Latter naturally object, insisting that only Helium can do that (though rumor has it that sometimes Helium sneaks in an extra neutron or two, those are called Fundamentalist Helium but are now officially disowned by the Periodic Table), and that two Hydrogen could never get close enough to have what Helium has. Once inside they might seduce other nucleons to change identity and destroy chemistry as we know it (indeed it was standard practice to expel from the nucleus such deviants via radiation).

Helium got together with its buddies Neon and Argon to form a coalition of the willing, even though Argon was too heavy to be of use, and stingy Neon turned out to be no more buoyant than hot air (and secretly loathed Helium), so in the end it was Helium, being the lightest, who did the heavy lifting. They passed a ballot proposition by telling the other elements that Hydrogen's real goal is not nobility but alchemy, and that anyway they already had their own, much weaker, Hydrogen bond.

Outraged, Hydrogen charged straight at the Helium nucleus, expecting to do battle with the usual inverse-square repulsive electric force of Evangelical positive ions, the seductive power of vice-ridden negative ions, and the side-swiping of the well-meaning but just as deterring magnetic force which, rather than do any work to help, merely diverts Hydrogen with offers of separate-but-equal civil union, pushing Hydrogen off course and sending him in circles.

But unexpectedly, when Hydrogen got close to Helium, he sensed an unusually strong but very short-range force which he could not explain and did not understand. Formerly indifferent to his presence, Helium was inexplicably and strongly resistant to his nuclear ambitions. Many Hydrogen, understandably angry, started calling Helium bad names like Boron. But one Hydrogen suspected that the very force that was repelling him was the same strong force that bound the Helium nucleus so harmoniously.

More determined than ever, Hydrogen joined Helium blogs (the other noble gas blogs were uninsightful and poorly written) in the hope of understanding the true nature of this strong nuclear force, so powerful that Helium does not steal electrons, is not attracted to alcohol or caffeine molecules, and is always so level-headed.

Now this no-longer lonely Hydrogen does not just advocate for Hydrogen rights or disparage or envy Helium, but seeks to understand the true nature of the strong nuclear force, just one small but essential step on my path to discovering a unified theory of my universe.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pope trolling for Anglicans

The NYTimes reports that the Vatican is bidding to Get Anglicans to join the Catholic fold, while maintaining their separate traditions of non-celibate clergy. It seems that politics trumps long-held belief.
More shocking still is that this flies in the face of Pope Benedict XVI's very own words1 (when he was merely Josef Cardinal Ratzinger):

“Although the particular inclination of the [Anglican priest to become Catholic yet retain the right to marry] is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”
“[Marriage for a Catholic priest] is not a complementary union, able to transmit [eternal] life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which [the Catholic Church] says is the essence of Christian [sacerdotal] living. This does not mean that [married priests] are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in [married life] they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.”
“The Church teaches that respect for [priests in other traditions who do choose to marry] cannot lead in any way to approval of [such] behavior or to legal recognition [under canon law] of [connubial] unions. Legal recognition [of marriage among the clergy] or placing them on the same level as [the celibate priest] would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior.”
“Allowing [parishioners] to be [put in the pastoral care of priests] living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children [of God], in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development [and that of their Catholic faith and identity].”
“There are absolutely no grounds for considering [priestly marriage] to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan [for the Priesthood]. [The celibate sacerdotal calling] is holy, while sexual acts go against the natural law [of priestly chastity].”
“The various forms of the dissolution of [the priesthood ]today, like free[dom of thought], trial [priests], and going up to pseudo-[ordinations] by people of [other religious traditions], are rather expressions of an anarchic freedom that wrongly passes for true freedom of man [embracing celibacy in a life devoted to God].”
“[T]he church, while deeply respecting the people in question, cannot admit to the seminary and the sacred orders those who practice [their Holy Orders within the bounds of marriage], present deeply rooted [conjugal] tendencies, or support so-called [liberal] culture. Those people find themselves, in fact, in a situation that presents a grave obstacle to a correct relationship with [God]. One cannot ignore the negative consequences that can stem from the ordination of people with deeply-rooted [Protestant] tendencies.”

1Actually,those words within brackets above not Ratzinger's but my own. I have made a few key substitutions to accentuate the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church under the leadership of the present pontiff. I trust I have not done any more violence to the Pope's thinking than He Himself already has.