Book Reviews, non fiction 0 comments on A Venetian Affair – by Andrea Di Robliant

A Venetian Affair – by Andrea Di Robliant

A Venetian Affair by Andrea de Robliant

A Venetian Affair was written by Andrea Di Robilant. It is about two lovers from back in 1750’s. His family has a connection to one of the lovers – an ancestor named Andrea Memmo. Andrea Di Robilant’s father found a pile of very old letters that had been abandoned. Eventually, the letters were woven into a story about what happened to Andrea Memmo and Guistiniana Wynne.

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Medium 0 comments on Pocket Pair Might Face Legal Issues Over Palworld

Pocket Pair Might Face Legal Issues Over Palworld

A screenshot of Palworld's opening scene. It includes creature that look like Pokemon knock-offs.

I had never heard of Palworld until several Twitch streamers started playing it. The game launched on Steam (possibly as a beta) and there seemed to be a lot of excitement over it. I was watching a streamer go through the character choices. The game offered male and female characters, with a variety of skin tones and hair colors.

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Medium 0 comments on Pope Joan May Have Been The Only Female Pope

Pope Joan May Have Been The Only Female Pope

A rosary made of red plastic beads and a red plastic cross by Karolina Grabwska on Pexels.

A plastic rosary with red beads and cross on a pink background by Karolina Grabowska

I was raised Catholic (which didn’t stick) and was taught that only men could become the Pope. Years later, a good friend of mine told me about Pope Joan. It was the first time I heard of her. Why didn’t the Catholic Church teach about this particular Pope?

Wikipedia noted Jean de Mailly’s chronicle, written around 1250, contained the first mention of an unnamed female pope and inspired several accounts over the next several years.

The most popular and influential versions is that of Martin of Opava’s Chronicle Pontificum et Emperatorum in the 13th century. Martin introduced details that the female pope’s birth name was Jon Anglicus of Mainz, that she reigned in the 9th century and that she entered the church to follow her lover.

The legend was generally accepted as true until the 16th century, when a widespread debate among Catholic and Protestant writers called the story into question: various writers noted the implausibly long gap between Joan’s supposed lifetime and her first appearance in texts.

According to Wikipedia, Pope Joan – who was born Ioannes Anglicus – became Pope between 885-857, during the Middle Ages. Her story first appeared in chronicles in the 13th century and spread throughout Europe. The story of Pope Joan was widely believed for centuries.

Most versions of Pope Joan’s story call her a talented and learned woman who disguised herself as a man, often at the behest of a lover. In the most common accounts, owing to her abilities, she rose through the church hierarchy and was eventually elected pope.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops posted information about how a new pope is chosen. They wrote: When a Pope dies or resigns, the governance of the Catholic Church passes to the College of Cardinals. Cardinals are bishops and Vatican officials from all over the world, personally chosen by the pope, recognizable by their distinctive red vestments. Their primary responsibility is to elect a new pope.

Following a vacancy in the papacy, the cardinals hold a series of meetings at the Vatican called general congregations. They discuss the needs and the challenges facing the Catholic Church globally. They will also prepare for the upcoming election, called a conclave. Decisions that only the pope can make, such as appointing a bishop or covering the Synod of Bishops, must wait until after the election. In the past, they made arrangements for the funeral and burial of the deceased pope.

In the past, 15 to 20 days after a papal vacancy, the cardinals gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica for a Mass involving the guidance of the Holy Spirit in electing a new pope. Only cardinals under the age of 80 are eligible to vote in a conclave. They are known as the cardinal electors, and their number is limited to 120.

The cardinals vote by a secret ballot, processing one by one up to Michelangelo’s fresco of the Last Judgement, saying a prayer and dropping the twice-folded ballot in a large chalice. Four rounds of balloting are taken every day until a candidate receives two-thirds of the vote. The result of each ballot are counted aloud and recorded by three cardinals designated as recorders.

If no one receives the necessary two-thirds of the vote, the ballots are burned in a stove near the chapel with a mixture of chemicals to produce black smoke. The ballots of the final round are burned with chemicals producing white smoke to signal to the world the election of a new pope.

It sounds to me like perhaps Pope Joan could have been selected through this tedious and time consuming process. Assuming, of course that the election for a new pope existed at the time.

Wikipedia posted that her sex was revealed when she gave birth during a procession and she died shortly after, either through murder or of natural causes. The accounts state that the later church processions avoided this spot and that the Vatican removed the female pope from its official lists and crafted a ritual to ensure the future popes were male. In the 16th century, Siena Cathedral featured a bust of Joan Lamont and other pontiffs; this was removed after protests in 1600.

A website called Pope History provided more information. One of the stories about Pope Joan gave her a different fate. Instead of dying during childbirth, she survived. Of course, she was confined and deposed. The forsaken female pope had to endure years of penance for her trickery. However, the child she gave birth to during that fateful procession grew up to be Bishop of Ostia. After Joan’s death, the Bishop ordered the body interred in his cathedral.

According to Pope History, from the 13th to 15th century, the story of Pope Joan was regarded as fact. Joanna was used as a moral anecdote in Dominican preaching. At the behest of Pope Sixtus IV, Bartolomeo Platina put the story in the Vatican library.

The story was also considered true by the Council of Constance in 1415. A carving of her bust was included along with an installation of past pontiffs at Siena Cathedral, too.

At the start of the 17th century, Pope Clement VII outright declared the story of Pope Joan was untrue. With that declaration, belief in Pope Joan started to wane. The art depicting Joan carved for the series of papal busts at Siena Cathedral was destroyed.

Was Pope Joan a real person? Or was she only a myth? In my opinion, as a lapsed Catholic, I think Pope Joan could have been a real person, who disguised her gender right up until she gave birth.

Unfortunately, this led to the Vatican removing anything related to the female pope and creating a ritual to prevent women from ever becoming pope. I’m not sure why they were so afraid of having a woman pope.

This explains why I’d never heard of Pope Joan. Assuming she existed, it is clear that the Catholic Church was desperately trying to hide that knowledge. I am dismayed that the dismissal – and the silencing and erasing her – was condoned by the Catholic Church.

Biden-Harris 0 comments on Vice President Harris Will Oversee White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention

Vice President Harris Will Oversee White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention

Photo of a statue of an oversized handgun with a knot tied at the end of it by Maria Lysenko on Unsplash

Statue of a overly-large handgun with a knot tied in it by Maria Lysenko on Unsplash

In September of 2023, President Biden established the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to reduce gun violence, which has ravaged communities across the country, and implement and expand upon key executive and legislative action which has been taken to save lives.

The Office of Gun Violence Prevention is overseen by Vice President Harris, who has been a key leader in the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to end our nation’s gun violence epidemic. Stefanie Feldman, a longtime policy advisor to President Biden on gun violence prevention, serves as Director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, alongside leading gun violence prevention advocates Greg Jackson and Rob Wilcox, who join the Administration as Deputy Directors of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

The Office of Gun Violence Prevention builds on historic actions taken by President Biden to end violence in our country; including signing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant legislative action in nearly 30 years aimed at doing so, and taking more meaningful executive action than any other president to make our schools, churches, grocery stores, and communities safer.

The Biden-Harris Administration has worked to implement the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun violence prevention legislation in nearly 30 years. This legislation is already saving lives by keeping guns out of the hands of individuals under 21 who are prohibited from purchasing firearms, empowering the Justice Department with new authorities to prosecute firearm traffickers, improving access to mental health services in our schools to help young people deal with the trauma and grief resulting from gun violence, and investing in community violence interventions.

The Biden-Harris Administration announced dozens of executive actions to: keep especially dangerous weapons and repeat shooters off our streets; hold rogue gun dealers and gun traffickers accountable; provide law enforcement with the tools and resources they need to reduce gun violence; and address the root causes of gun violence.

Most recently, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – a critical leader in work to reduce gun violence – proposed a rule to reduce the number of guns sold without background checks and keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

President Biden continues to call on Congress to take additional action, including by:

  • Banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines;
  • Requiring safe storage of firearms;
  • Requiring background checks for all gun sales;
  • Eliminating gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability; and
  • Enacting his Safer America Plan, which would put more police officers on our streets for accountable, community policing and invest in gun violence prevention and intervention.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the poem “America is a Gun” by Brian Bilston. It is a powerful poem, and I highly recommend you read it.

NPR reported today (January 19, 2024) that Vice President Harris says young voters could create a “sea change” on the issue of gun violence if they turn out and vote. It is an issue that the Biden campaign says will help motivate a key part of its base of support – and one where it sees Harris as being an effective messenger.

“On this issue, it is a lived experience,” Harris told U.S. mayors in Washington on Thursday, describing what she’s learned from talking to younger people about the gun violence epidemic.

“They are aware of the solutions. And I think, frankly, when they start voting in numbers, we’re going to see a sea change.”

According to NPR, Harris has long been talking about gun violence prevention, dating back to her first position in office as a district attorney in San Francisco. In September, when President Biden created Office of Gun Violence Prevention, he tapped Harris to lead it.

But as focus turns to the reelection campaign, Harris is making gun violence prevention an issue as the brings up all over the country. It even comes up at events that aren’t specifically focused on it.

Last year, for example, she embarked on a tour of college campuses around the country, where her office says she met with more than 15,000 students. And gun violence came up at every stop.

I believe that the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention is going to make a big difference in people’s lives. The existence of this new office evokes the potential of being able to safely walk outside, go to the grocery store, go to school, and/or participate in the religion you have chosen – without being fearful of getting shot in the process. Imagine schools that would no longer have to put children through lockdowns.

Here’s a statement from Vice President Harris:

“Every person and every child deserves the opportunity to fulfill their dreams and live up to their God-given potential. Every family, in every community, should have the freedom live and to thrive. We know that true freedom is not possible if people are not safe.

This epidemic of gun violence requires urgent leadership to end the fear and trauma that Americans experience every day. The new Office of Gun Violence Prevention will play a critical role in implementing President Biden’s and my efforts to reduce violence to the fullest extent under the law, while also engaging and encouraging Congressional leaders, state and local leaders, and advocates to build upon the meaningful progress that we have made to save lives.

Our promise to the American people is this: we will not stop working to end the epidemic of gun violence in every community, because we do not have a moment, nor a life to spare.”


California Pizza Hut Franchises Laid-Off Drivers

Photo of a Pizza Hut restaurant by Saumya Rastogi on Unsplash

Photo of a Pizza Hut Restaurant by Saumya Rastogi on Unsplash

Starting a brand new year by eliminating jobs from your nation-wide franchise is a terrible thing to do to workers. That said, it appears that Pizza Hut franchises in California decided to do exactly that. More specifically, the franchises (which are owned by Yum! Brands) decided to dump all their delivery drivers without notice.

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