I’m Hopeful that new Pope Francis is to Social Injustice what John Paul II was to the USSR

A new Pope has been elected. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio has been elected Pope Francis I.

I’m a lapsed Catholic, an agnostic, and I have been accustomed to strongly opposing the Catholic church for all of my adult life.

So why am I so happy about this choice?

I’m happy because Bergoglio seems like a humble man. As a Cardinal, he is supposed to have lived in a regular people apartment, taken public transportation, cooked his own meals. He was supposedly a front runner in the 2005 conclave, but made strong pleas not to be chosen, and so was not chosen. The phrase most attached to his name is “Social Justice”. He’s of Italian descent, but born and raised in Argentina, in an age and a country which are strongly identified with social justice, with socialism, with balancing power towards average people, not rich ones. He has chosen the name Francis, the first ever to do so, after Francis of Assisi, the man who gave up everything to live a life of poverty and help others… perhaps the only historical Christian I have ever respected.

Rich v Poor is the new Cold War. The fight to ensure that ordinary people aren’t left behind by hyper-capitalism is the fight of our generation. It concerns so many things, among them social justicerich-vs-poorthe financial crisisOccupy Wall Streetcrushing austerity in Greece, Italy and other placesCorporate evils, and universal health care, to name a bare handful.

On all of these issues, it’s already pretty clear that Cardinal Bergoglio stands on the side of good.

In 1978, the Catholic church elected little known Karol Wojtyla to be Pope John Paul II. He came from a land that was hurt by the USSR, by the Cold War. For all his other faults, he put the soft power of a billion people squarely against the Iron Curtain, against the Berlin Wall, against Soviet puppet governments, and he did it peacefully. He didn’t do it alone, by any means, but it’s fair to say he was a significant force for peaceful good in the Cold War.

I have disliked the Catholic church, intensely, for many years, but I think this time they made the same kind of choice. Unable to summon the willpower to clean house, unable to come to terms with the sexual abuse scandal, unwilling to consider modern views on sexual practices, I think they nevertheless made a very good choice: to throw the moral weight and soft power of a billion people squarely on the right side of social justice. He will have many faults [1], but I’m really, honestly hopeful that he can be a powerful ally in my generation’s most important fight.


No, that’s Jonathan Pryce

[1] I’m disappointed the new Pope (most probably) opposes homosexuality, though with the Cardinals, that was to be expected. Honestly, and I may get a lot of flak for saying this: gay people are winning. Poor people are losing! I think gay marriage will eventually become a reality, almost everywhere, whereas I’m very worried that extreme wealth distribution and feudalism will also become the norm. I would absolutely rather a Pope against gay people and in favor of the poor than the other way around

Projects: Letterpress in a Day

My favorite game of late is Letterpress. It’s a wonderful iPhone game which combines Scrabble-esque word play with territory capture, ala Risk. It’s an instant classic, one I’d love to play with my grandmother.

What a shame, then, that Letterpress is iOS only, and doesn’t support local play.

For kicks, today I challenged myself to make a local Letterpress clone in one day. Bonus points: I wanted it to be playable on the iPad, so I could set it down in front of my grandmother.

Three and a half hours later…


Here it is! A complete two player local clone of Letterpress, up on my webspace.

I’ll leave this up until the inevitable cease and desist letter, and then, with great respect to atebits and his awesome game, I’ll take down my version.

This turned out to be a really simple project, and might serve as a good introduction to game programming. It’s just javascript and an html canvas element (ie, thingy which allows you to draw images on x and y coordinates).

For those who are interested, here’s the entire project source code and resources, released under the Crapl License (that is, open source, with the understanding that the source code is a quick hack).

If enough people are interested, I’ll make a tutorial out of this. It’s definitely, honestly a beginner level project, with enough guidance.

Oh, but my bonus goal? The iPad? Don’t even try it. It loads a large dictionary file. iPad Safari segfaults every time I try to visit the site. Sigh 🙂

Let me know what you think!