French Quarter?! What’s he doin’, givin’ a speech in some French Quarter?!

Good and bad looting

Before anybody gets all outraged about the reports of looting in New Orleans, let’s remember that some of the people doing it are hungry people who take food and water for survival and would be happy to pay if the store were open. Nothing wrong with that. Here’s a helpful guide:

Soft drinks, chips, and diapers: OK;
Jewelry and DVDs: No.

Sampling the fund-raising mail

Yesterday I got three fundraising solicitations in the paper mail.
What mailing list did the ACLU buy that makes them think I’m a secularist liberal? Maybe the Consumer Reports subscriber roster? I mean, it’s not as if I gave to public TV. They’re sending me these things routinely now, a phony “survey” with tendentious questions, so I “vote” no wherever they want a “yes”, write “Abortion is murder!” on it, and send it back in the Business Reply Envelope. Thanks for playing.
The TFP sent another big picture of their teary-eyed Fatima statue. Our Lady’s probably especially sad that this cult-like little outfit (see this 1983 testimony) is using her image to milk money out of devout souls’ wallets. I looked up their Federal filings through the charity-reporting site GuideStar, and here they are (PDFs:) 2004, 2003, 2002.
From the 2004 report, it seems they took in $4.6M in donations, and spent $1.76M on “fundraising” and on “direct mail campaigns” to their current supporters: that’s 38%, a rather high figure. The statements include a few other interesting details: e.g., that they have a quarter-mil in precious metals. Not a bad investment, eh?
A third solicitation was from the Oblate (OMI) Fathers, prospecting for new donors. They sent out a little money, asking the reader to return it with a check, or at least return it. Now that’s the nervy part: they beg the five cents back from you. Why, you’d have to be a heartless buzzard to say no to that. Well, Fathers, take your manipulative little gimmick somewhere else, and thanks for the nickel.

Etymology Today

In a column on catholicculture.org, Jeff Mirus ponders the nicknames being given to the new Pope and the wishes people hold for him:
For example, the nickname B-16 reflects the beliefs of some that Pope Benedict XVI will be a strong disciplinarian because of his long tenure as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Do you buy that explanation? I’m skeptical.
Like quite a few other folks, I started calling the new Pope “B16” right away, but it had nothing to do with military planes — I think that’s the reference Jeff has in mind.
He may be dating himself with it: after all, thirty years ago, “B” followed by a number was likely to be the name of a plane, a veteran B-52 or a much-debated B-1. But now, even with a war winding down, aircraft just aren’t at the top of everyone’s mind.
“B16” is just an obvious and affectionate nickname: it follows the label applied to his predecessor “JP2”. Some of you may remember that the globe-trotting Pope was tagged early on as “J2P2”, a pop-culture play on the resourceful and occasionally mysterious robot R2D2 of Star Wars. As the film’s prominence faded, the shorter “JP2” became more common.
“B16” may be nothing more than a simple abbreviation, but it is the occasion for a little levity, as it sounds like the name of a vitamin, if it’s not an out-of-order Bingo call.

Today’s peeve

Why does an organization with a non-profit domain name such as catholic.org send commercial spam? Personally, I don’t remember signing up to get ads for wallet-sized rosaries or lame Ray Flynn’s political projects. I’ve sent a note to the contact listed on their privacy page; let’s see if they get the idea that this is not a good thing.