Welcome Post-Gazette Readers! :)

picture of Eric Williams and Rob Carr by Alyssa CwangerI mentioned yesterday that an article about Pittsburgh BlogFest 3 was forthcoming. I had no idea it would appear so soon. Nor did I know that I was going to feature so prominently. *blush* I also had no idea they'd use such an unflattering picture. 😉

To those who are reading my stuff for the first time I offer a hearty welcome. For more information about me and my blog, go here. Comments are appreciated and encouraged. 🙂

Now, on to the article… [BTW, It bugs me to no end that newspapers don't put links in online versions of stories. Any of the links seen above were added by me to give credit where it's due and save people a trip to Google. ;)]

"'Latin is already nerdy to the extreme,' Williams said, granting that the name of his blog is 'super-nerdy.'"

Like, fer sure, dude. Totally. I wonder if I really said it that way or the phrasing is just an artifact of writing from notes. I'll cut Mr. McNulty some slack and assume I'd have done as bad or worse in his shoes. 😉

"But introducing to that growing community to each other in person — instead of online — still has its challenges."

"'There are a lot of people I know here, and I have no idea who they are,' said Rob Carr, 47, a freelance writer and former city paramedic who writes the 'UnSpace' blog."

I had a very different perspective from Rob's. Rob is sort of the unofficial ambassador of Pittsburgh Webloggers and comments on more member blogs than I could shake a stick at. I, on the other hand, haven't read many local blogs, so I didn't even know the electronic personas of most of the attendees. Thankfully, many were outgoing enough to approach me and save me from myself. 😉

"Professors from Pitt and Duquesne contribute on other blogs, and elsewhere a young couple named Erik and Kelly Dahl have an audio version of the blog, or podcast, where they record things going on in their lives. At Thursday's party Erik Dahl had a mike clipped to his polo shirt, recording his conversations with other bloggers."

I had no ideas the Dahls were recording at the fest. I look forward to hearing what Erik got.

"One of the most interesting sites in the city is Williams' 'Ales Rarus' blog, where the grad student in intelligent systems at Pitt, and a convert to Catholicism, posts his witty and fresh takes on everything from religion to Howard Stern to stem cell research, while never seeming to have a preordained opinion."

Holy cow! That was unexpected. Wow. Thanks. *blush* I guess the pressure's on to produce more great content in the future. *nervous fidgeting* 😉

"A beer in hand, Williams talked about the unique site, where discussions about labor practices at Wal-Mart share space with an encyclical by Pope Paul VI."

There are some good folks who deserve to take the credit with me – perhaps even away from me. Jerry Nora writes most of the stem cells posts. As a med school student and bioethics hobbyist, he's more qualified than I to argue effectively on such topics. The posts about labor practices were written by Lightwave, a professional computer geek who has an MBA. The reflection on Humanae Vitae was written by edey, a gentle soul with a bleeding heart wrapped in brutal honesty, who was once upon a time was fiercely pro-choice.

To be sure, I still write a lot of my own posts. However, I'm more interested in fascilitating intelligent and fruitful discussion than keeping this soap box to myself. To that end, I harass my friends to hop on as often as they're willing. I'm in debt to them for their unique and meaningful contributions.

"'One of the things that keep me going is I don't go in for the cookie-cutter vibe of blogosphere,' Williams said."

Again, I'm not sure that's quite how I spoke, but it's close enough. What I'd add, though, is what I meant by "cookie-cutter". Most of the political blogs I've read are either rabidly liberal or fanatically conservative. There's not much in the middle. Furthermore, most political blogs are just that, with little time given to other issues. Most of the religious blogs I read are either by conservative evangelicals or so-called progressives. Again, there's not much in the middle. The rest of the blogosphere seems to be dominated by personal journals, which I consider to be a different species from blogs and in which I have no interest.

My impetus to blog derives primarily from the belief that I can't possibly be alone. There have to be other "extreme centrists" out there who feel just as unconfortable when called moderates as when they're called liberals or conservatives (whether it be in politics, religion, or elsewhere). People in "purple" America are underrepresented. I blog as someone fed up with two-party politics, embarassed by Christian infighting, and an overwhelming urge to learn as much as I can about life, the universe, and everything.

For more about the PG article, check out Rob's contribution at UnSpace. Also worth highlighting is his excellent summary of the BlogFest.

As an added bonus, here are some past Post-Gazette articles on blogging in Da Burgh:

March 14, 2004: Pittsburgh goes blog wild!
December 12, 2004: Pittsburgh's bloggers have found a home for rants
May 18, 2005: Online diaries and discussions serving as cheap but effective marketing tool
May 18, 2005: Bloggers find mixing work life with private life can spell trouble

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

7 thoughts on “Welcome Post-Gazette Readers! :)

  1. Funky Dung

    Actually, I found the alien comment rather amusing. 😉

    RE: my guest bloggers, I’ve often heard that one can be judged by the company one keeps. Since my guest bloggers are also my friends, I suppose one can still learn a few things about me and my sensibilities by reading their posts. Also, the kinds of stories I ask them to write are indicative of my blogging philosophy. So, although I certainly can’t take credit (or blame, tee hee) for the posts my guest bloggers write, I do take a little pride in my editorial instincts.

  2. Rob


    Sorry about the “erupting alien” comment. The picture’s an “action shot” and thus very photogenic. You look like you’re having fun. You’re a human being. I am just so grateful we weren’t portrayed as humorless, emotionless Star Trek Borgs.

    I’m still having flashbacks to my roommate/ college newspaper editor, aren’t I?

  3. Rob

    I still think of your blog as yours and yours alone. I need to work on that. I know it’s not, but the voices in my head tell me it is a solo effort.

    (For anyone who doesn’t know me: To keep blogs separate in my mind, I imagine different people and different voices speaking them in my mind as I read. It’s a trick that results from almost 20 years of being on-line — it started back when I haunted the FidoNets on BBSes in Pittsburgh. Thursday forced me to re-adjust those images. I’m weird, but I’m not floridly psychotic.)

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