Friday, December 28, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
From my 3-year-old, Joe. He's almost 4.
Papa, Santa Claus isn't real --
But he must be real!
Wise, Zen-like and almost poetic, I say, but I'm partial. I didn't comment, but I asked him what he would get for Santa Claus for Christmas and he described an intricate anti-theft device called an "X-Ray Getter" which would keep the robbers from stealing his stuff. Sounds practical, you know, for the "guy-who-has-everything" on your list.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Regular readers might have noticed that the top of this blog was messed up the other day. I don't know why, but it's healed now. Anyway, I kind of threw a temper tantrum and put up a picture from my Treo that I took flying west down I-480 and a bunch of text. That picture was also not showing up properly until this morning, at which time I restored my "3 out of 4 horse-dudes of ye olde Apocalypse" masthead.
But I like this picture. It's got that Lord of the Flippin' Rings thing going on, don't you think? You see a sky like that and it makes your stomach growl for a big-arse pizza with the family and some Celtic music. Or something.
The Archbishop of Canterbury questioned the accuracy of the Nativity story in a BBC television interview.
Dr. Rowan Williams, the worldwide leader of the Anglican communion, said that the story of the Magi in particular is vague at best, and the claim that the followed a star to Bethlehem is incredible because "stars do not behave like that."
The Anglican leader said that it is "very unlikely" that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in December. The tradition of celebrating the Nativity in December only arose, he said, "because it fitted well with the winter festival."
Archbishop Williams who questioned whether Jesus was born of a virgin. While he personally accepts that tenet of faith, he said, "that's not a pre-condition for being a Christian."
Nice, doubts once again get to stand in for faith and Our Lady is once again reduced to being a single mom who might, or might not, have conceived miraculously. Whatever.
My fourth son showed up Thursday afternoon. He was born at home, some 8-odd pounds, healthy, blah, blah, but I soon realized that I was going to have to keep at least two eyes on this little guy, whose name turned out to be Andrew Jack. This is because he wasn't an hour old and he'd already performed three tricks.
First of all, he came out in the bag. I guess nobody ever told him you can't take it with you. This never happens in the hospital where they break a woman's water in the parking garage.
Then the next thing the mid-wives notice is that he's got his hand on his chin in a perfect Jack Benny "Hmmmmmm...." pose, you know, like he can't decide whether to have the 6-course meal or the a la carte. I'm sure he would have played the violin if we'd had one.
Thirdly.... he winked at me! I noted the closed eye, it was his right one. Then later he winks at me with his left eye! I don't think I could wink until I was seven years old and had two years of winking lessons under my belt.
Also -- I mentioned he was little, but I have a feeling that that's kind of a trick too. He already looks like he's getting slightly bigger. This is possibly the greatest trick of all and the most common. They do all the growing when we're not looking.
[Picture available if you email me.]
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Our Jesse Tree reading for today was I Kings 3:3-28. That's where Solomon asks God for wisdom, then figures out who the real hooker mom is by threatening to chop the baby in half. I remembered joking to myself, "Wow, there's an advanced interrogation method if I ever saw one." I guess it's a good thing we have DNA testing now.
I also remembered to leave out the word "harlot" when I read the story to my kids. I didn't feel like being interrogated by an agressive five-year-old on what that word means.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Since I've known him since we were in grade school, I have enough embarrassing stories about Dr. Michael Coulter that he'd have reason to be really scared -- if he didn't have more dirt on me.
But enough of that. He is now blogging over at Catholicism and Politics since he's Catholic and a Political Science professor. So go give him some hits -- you surely don't have anything better to do if you are reading my blog.
Also -- he's one of the editors behind the big Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought of which I recently saw a blurb in the latest issue of Catalyst.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Good, humorous analysis. Is that redundant? Favorite excerpt:
Third, they only lamely attempt to rouse themselves to the demands of their job description (supposing they have one):
“To the extent, moreover, that Lyra and her allies are taking a stand on behalf of free will in opposition to the coercive force of the Magisterium, they are of course acting entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching.”
Way to throw in a useless statement, Harry and John! My friend Patricia suggests: "To the extent that Stalin loved his country, he was, of course, entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching." See?
My take: I do think the USCCB could have done a better job of "splitting the difference" between saying the film is harmless and siding with the wild-eyed, screaming boycott crowd, which is what it seems like to me they were attempting. But by standing to close too the "harmless" pole they are just invigorating the screamers.
Thanks for reading my blog. For current commentary and what-not, visit the Est Quod Est homepage
Monday, December 10, 2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Sean Penn endorsed Dennis Kucinich. We are told this was an "impassioned endorsement of Presidential proportions".
The first time I read this I didn't understand which noun was being modified; I thought it somehow meant that Penn was endorsing Kucinich's proportions which could only refer to the fact that he only comes up to his third wife's chin. "How mean of Mr. Penn," I thought. Then I re-read the rather badly-written article and realized the use of the $10 P-word ensemble was meant to be applied to the endorsement, or was just sort of an alliterative grabber.
Dude, I think I just heard your primary vote saying 'I'm so wasted.'"
It seems that in the world of the left, a little bit of BDS can go a long way to garnish a bland endorsement, so Penn dutifully added some.
"While I'm not a proponent of the Death Penalty, existing law provides that the likes of Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and Rice, if found guilty, could have hoods thrown over their heads, their hands bound, facing a 12-man rifle corps executing death by firing squad," Penn said.
From the level of detail provided, it sounds to me that this fantasy has been perused often. And it is really broad-minded of someone who is not a proponent of capital punishment to get gratification by imagining the death by firing squad of those political figures whom he dislikes. However I must say it seems a little bit sexist of Penn to insist on 12 men doing the execution? Why not let some women take a shot or two? Doesn't he think they're capable of killing the criminal President, VP, SOS and former SOD?
Why does anyone listen to these Hollywood people? Is that a better question?
Friday, December 7, 2007
Thanks go to reader Dianonymous who sent me the link to this hilarious review. It's too funny not to read the entire thing, but here's an excerpt:
Sorting all this out yields a clanking allegory (Church bad; secular skepticism good) that sucks all the fun away while much more enticing-looking stuff - fanciful zeppelin docks and mysterious pirate ships - hovers frustratingly in the background, like Christmas toys that go unused while toddlers play with the empty box. Worse, it's like toddlers ignoring the toys because they're frowning over Nietzsche and sighing about the will to power and the ascetic ideal.
Every 10 minutes or so, the movie remembers it's supposed to show us actual things happening, so it throws in a half-hearted 30-second action scene (say, Lyra being pestered by robot bugs or having to cross an icy gorge). Things pick up a little when, in the second hour, Lyra finds an ally in a fierce, enslaved polar bear (voiced by Ian McKellen), but he too reels off a few pages of grudges and legends. They say you'd pay good money to hear an actor like McKellen read the phone book. How about the Dungeons and Dragons manual?
In the first paragraph here I think Smith, possibly inadvertently, summarizes why atheism is so unattractive to most of humanity: when it's not downright sleep inducing it's simply too precocious for us chillun of God.
Honestly, this is the best analysis I've read of the whole Romney speech/religion & politics/etc. thing. I especially like Rod's answer to the unfair reading of Huckabee's interview statements regarding the law establishing morality. Obviously he means in the sense of law reflecting and codifying rather than somehow generating morality. Clarifying language is important, but I think most of us understand what was intended in context.
Likewise, I believe Romney's "freedom requires religion / religion requires freedom" theme requires some qualification and explanation. As Bill Bennett pointed out this morning, persecuted and underground churches have been some of the strongest expressions of faith throughout history. But to thrive outwardly and publicly, it can be observed that a Constantinian legalization or American tolerance can help religion to thrive and spread as well. That's my interpretation at least.
I have to also give Rod kudos for perceiving the context of this speech by mentioning the way this type of public discussion goes over in other erstwhile outposts of Western Civilization like Britain, i.e., like a lead balloon.
Back to Huckabee. I've been leaning toward him as of late and not just because of the cool Tobias. I don't think it's a big deal that he flashed "Christian leader" in an Iowa ad. But Huck's recent remarks about an "American ruling class" are much more disturbing to me. I hope he just means by this bureaucrats-in-government-who-are-not-representing-the-people-etc. Otherwise that sounds a little too overtly populist for my blood. I know that the cartoonists want to see a Huckabee/Obama race so they can keep the drawing the enormous ears which they've gotten so good at grafting onto GWB....
(In the interest of full disclosure: I am not now nor have I ever been a card-carrying member of America's Ruling Class. Not that I don't hope to be someday... mwaa-ha-haaa...)
Meanwhile, Jimmy Akin provides an opposite viewpoint on the Romney speech from a strictly religious, Catholic perspective.
Monday, December 3, 2007
John Hood's quip on the Corner this morning reminded me of my days as a Fugazi fan circa 1990. A friend of mine had their 2nd EP Margin Walker and it just blew me away. I had just gotten my first CD player, so I purchased 13 songs which contained their first 2 EPs.
Fugazi's appeal to me most likely had something to do with the fact that I had just gone through this huge girlfriend breakup and a lot of really angry, testosterone-achieved guys screaming and wailing on guitars totally made sense. They were also supposed to be really "smart" and "socially conscious" — whatever the hell that means — which separated them from Suicidal Tendencies, Gang Green and other skate-punk faves. Their lyrics were impenetrable enough to seem profound; I don't pretend to be able to fathom what the following rapped lines from "Bulldog Front" really means:
Ahistorical — you think this shit just dropped right out of the sky
My analysis — it's time to harvest the crust from your eyes
...but it's great because it can basically be used to diss the ideas of anyone you don't like. The bonus is it contains great words like crust and shit.
"Burning Too" contains a more uplifting message, tunefully reminiscent of Bowie's "Rebel Rebel":
This world is not our facility
We have a responsibility
To use all of our abilities
To keep this place alive
Those lines always remind me of a poem a third-grade girl might have penned to caption her crayon submission to the local Earth Day coloring contest. But as with all great Fugazi compositions, it is redeemed by the red-faced yelling during the chorus: "WE GOTTA PUT IT OUT!! DO IT!! DO IT NOW!!!!"
When you go flying off your skate board into a sewer grate you need something to unite your suffering to that of the whole human race. And if you aren't Catholic at the time and don't realized that's one of the purposes of the Mass, Fugazi will have to do. Being "straight edge" helps one avoid many evils, but you can't thrive on a steady diet of nothing. Maybe that chapter of my youth subconsciously helped lead to my conversion.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Enough of politics. How about some culture?
That part near the end has a "gay and inter-species" theme. So it's hard to totally get away from politics and stuff, I guess. Also some of Mr. Bunny's interrogation techniques are a little hard to justify, even against an enemy as formidable as Elmer bin Fudd.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Zogby says that Hillary loses to any of the top 5 GOP candidates. But the top Democrat guys beat all five Republicans. Does this gurl have negatives or what?
All five of the leading Republican presidential candidates — including John McCain — would beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head match-up, according to a surprising new poll from Zogby International.
But Barack Obama outpolled all five GOP hopefuls — Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, and McCain.
The national poll of nearly 10,000 people — about equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, with about one-quarter independents — is more bad news for longtime front-runner Clinton. It shows that she’s slipping not only in Iowa and several other early caucus or primary states, but across the country as well.
And it appears to confirm the fears of many Democratic stalwarts that candidate Hillary does not offer the party its best chance to win the White House.
Asked whom they would choose in a race between Giuliani and Clinton, 43 percent of respondents said Giuliani and 39.4 percent chose Clinton, with 14.6 percent opting for “someone else” and 3 percent selecting “will not vote/not sure.”
Romney outpolled Clinton by a margin of 43.1 percent to 39.9 percent; Thompson beat out Hillary by a similar margin, 43.2 percent to 39.6 percent; and Mike Huckabee bested Clinton by a solid margin of 44.3 percent to 38.5 percent.
McCain, who trailed Clinton 45 percent to 43 percent in a July Zogby poll, has pulled ahead of the Democrat in the new poll, winning 42.1 of the vote compared to Clinton’s 37.6 percent.
But when the GOP hopefuls are matched up against Obama, the Illinois Democrat beats Giuliani by a margin of 46 percent to 40 percent, Romney (45.8 percent to 39.9 percent), Thompson (46.4 percent to 39.9 percent), Huckabee (45.8 percent to 39.6 percent), and McCain (44.8 percent to 38.2 percent.
Another bad sign for Hillary: John Edwards, who runs third in the polls behind Clinton and Obama, also outpolled all five leading Republicans, although by smaller margins than Obama.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
This is the best performance I've seen Huckabee do so far, playing with Mama Kicks in New Hampshire. The Creedence and Elvis covers don't really show him doing anything and the endless Freebirds are nothing short of purgatorial. IMO.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I was really into Ron Paul in college and in 1988 I even voted for him for President on the Libertarian ticket. But I was recently trying to think, trying to remember exactly why...
Whoaa! Dude, I just remembered!
Actually I was trying to find the latest recording of Ron Paul's appearance earlier today on 9/11 truther and all-purpose whack job Alex Jones's radio show. I know it's at least appearance number 4 in a year. Personally I liked former Pres. Bill Clinton's recent reaction to a disruptive member of the mindless "9/11 Truth Movement": "HOW DARE YOU!"
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
In an interesting LA Times editorial, Jonah Goldberg points out that the rich aren't "made of money" and the continued attempt to milk them parallels the "curse" of despotic oil-rich nations. Excerpt:
Today, our politics seems to be suffering from a "rich people curse." We treat the rich like a constantly regenerating piñata, as if they will never change their behavior no matter how many times they get whacked by taxes. And we think everyone can live well off the goodies that will fall to the ground forever.
Of course, typical wage earners pay plenty of taxes, but not in ways that foster a sense of reciprocity with the government in Washington. Their biggest federal payment is the regressive payroll tax intended to fund Social Security and Medicare. And even though as a matter of accounting these payments are no different from any other taxes, they're sold simply as retirement and health insurance programs.
Meanwhile, Democrats keep telling the bottom 95% of taxpayers that all of America's problems will be solved if only the rich people would pay "their fair share" of income taxes. Not only is this patently untrue and a siren song toward a welfare state, it amounts to covetousness as fiscal policy.
Read the whole thing. Jonah is always humorous, even though he uses the word indeed too much. On the other hand, I probably use the word humorous too much, as well as the word excerpt.
Monday, November 12, 2007
...this poetic review will be very funny unto all y'all. Excerpt:
At the second opening, these words:
“You the talkative I have loved, saying, ‘Life hath much to say’; and you the dumb I have loved, whispering to myself, ‘Says he not in silence what I would fain hear in words?’”
At the third opening, these words:
“Work is love made visible.”
To which I reply, You must have been pretty lucky in your job,
If you ever actually had a job,
But then I recall myself to myself,
And I discern that my task at the moment is but to open the book,
Not to comment thereupon.
Therefore I turn, and cause the Book to be opened a fourth time:
“Men do not desire blessedness upon their lips, nor truth in their bowels” _
— And I make no comment about the bowels,
But rather allow the completion of the thought, such as it is—
“For blessedness is the daughter of tears, and truth is but the son of pain.”
Reminds me of a great scene in Elvis Meets Nixon where the King is sitting in his Graceland bedroom reading The Prophet and he throws the book across the room in anger. Then he goes to his his walk-in closet, puts on a purple cape-suit and starts pigging out on Hershey bars. Priceless.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
And having said that, I direct you to an interesting "Litany of Nonviolence", even though the guy calls it a "liturgy". A priest I knew used to call this kind of stuff "para liturgy" (as in, "Yo, dude, I don't DO para liturgy, all right?")
Anyway, this guy is some kind of soldier-against-the-war type, I read something of his on Sojourners. I got a huge kick out of the prayers directed to Karl Marx, Ziggy Freud, Chuck Darwin and Maggie Mead. And Gautama Buddha is mentioned alongside Saint Mother Teresa as a fellow "fountain of compassion". Good grief! that Buddha guy just sat on his fat ass staring at his navel! Some fountain; at least Mother Teresa practiced compassion every fricking day by actually helping poor and sick people.
Near the end we have Our Lady addressed as an "unwed mother". Finally Our Lord shows up at the finale. That's kind of a twist; usually He is addressed before the saints. Of course, usually Al Einstein isn't mentioned at all.
On the other hand... uh, no... words fail me.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Some 46,000 Iraqi refugees returned to their war-torn country last month, a sign of hope that the massive population flight since the 2003 U.S. invasion could be reversed, an Iraqi commander said Wednesday.
Brig. Gen. Qassim Atta said he attributed the return to an improved security situation in Baghdad, where a crackdown has been in place since February.
"We are simply living in a better and obvious security situation," he said, citing the return of families to several Baghdad neighborhoods.
About 10,000 internally displaced families have gone back to their homes in the Iraqi capital, said Sattar Nawruz, spokesman for Iraq's Ministry of Displacement and Migration, also pointing to better security.
Thanks, Kathleen, for emailing us this link to a debate between Dinesh D'Souza and Christopher Hitchens. I haven't watched all of it yet, it's in 10 parts which will all be available on the YouTube page afetr going to the link. I have noticed that it gets kind of like Kung Fu theater at parts, i.e., visual and audio are a bit off, so it may be best to just listen to it.
Friday, November 2, 2007
The following is Hugh Hewitt's Townhall commentary email entitled "Good News is No News":
The news from Iraq is so good that, suddenly, it is hardly news at all. For two years the mainstream media and Democrats in Congress could not let a day go by without pronouncing defeat in Iraq. Now that the surge has dramatically lowered American, Coalition and, yes, even Iraqi casualties, the media has turned elsewhere for its lead stories.
The American Enterprise Institute's Fred Kagan, one of the architects of the policies behind the surge, urges Americans to keep the recent dramatic successes against al Qaeda in Iraq in mind as prophets of doom switch their dark glasses to the prospect of out-of-control Shia militias and long-term Iranian domination in Iraq. Kagan writes that "those who now proclaim the hopelessness of future efforts also ridiculed the possibility of the success we have achieved."
Kagan is right. General Petraeus and his team have earned a great deal of deference by reclaiming the momentum and restoring stability in Iraq. We should be sure to trust them in the months ahead--not their partisan critics.
I should add my theory that the good news from Iraq is the major reason for the return of the ol' standby of the BDS-ridden media: allegations of torture and prisoner-abuse.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Here's a stupid question: would the readers of this humble blog be interested in a story involving a Latinizing hippy chick, Pentecostal Gypsies, a BDS-ridden dot-com casualty, a sycophantic Marxist monkey fetishist, Gayh-C.L.U attorneys and other assorted colorful members of the MOONBAT‡ party gathered to imbibe the caffeine chalice beneath the watchful gaze of the glowing corporate mixoparthenos in drippy Seattle, WA?
I thought so. That's why you are so fortunate that former United States VP Albert Gore foresaw the possibility of making the works, factual and fictional, of Oengus Moonbones available to the public and therefore took the initiative of inventing the internet. Thus he made it possible for anyone in the world to read Melinda at Starbucks, the ongoing internet serial written by the same Mr. Moonbones.
Following is a chapter listing to aid in reading all the posts which comprise the story in order:
Melinda at Starbucks
§ 0.0 (prologue)
§ 0.1 (prologue)
I find the story to be fun and engaging. The dialogue is hilarious socio-political commentary which deftly avoids being (too) over-the-top. The acronyms are extremely clever and the archetypical profiles of the coffee-house characters are dead-on. I'd compare the style sort of a mix between Doug Coupland and Kurt Vonnegut, but less depressing than either. Plus any story where someone gets his ear bitten off has got to be good by default.
I should also mention that Oengus, having obviously suffered a sudden fit of glasnost, recently opened up comments on his blog, so if you enjoy the story as much as I do, please encourage him to continue telling it.
(Just for the record, I want the part of the narrator, Melinda's "interlocutor", when the film is made. I'm perfect for it. The Nehru jacket is on order. I'm scouting locations, I've got some other casting ideas as well and I'm working on some connections at a zoo for the monkey cage scene.)
‡ Acronym for Multicultural Organization Of National Basic Attitude Transformation, a progressive political movement that began in the Seattle Area.
Mark Sullivan, a writer/friend of mine who has real material published on dead wood, has a blog now so he can slum with the rest of us blogospheric hacks. A former house-mate in the 'Burgh, Sully is responsible for coming up with my nickname and rescuing me from a situation in a rather insane living situation in Lower Saint Clair. We had many adventures together before I bolted and moved to the Mistake on the Lake back in '98.
So far his blog has been very practical. Yesterday he blogged on how to turn candy bars into MP3 files, a great and useful work of alchemy.
Welcome to the blogosphere, big guy.
The Wikipedia glossary of blogging terms defines the noun bleg as follows:
A blog entry consisting of a request to the readers, such as for information or contributions. A portmanteau of "blog" and "beg". Also called "Lazyweb."
Sounds like me; I work really hard on this blog to make sure everyone knows how lazy I am. That's why I took some time off from watching television and eating Ruffles to put together the K Street Bleg to invite the mysterious blog commenter named "The Man from K Street" to start a blog.
I just think his comments are so dead on and cut through the digestive by-product of the pessimistas and the ivory tower condescension which is so prevalent in certain corners of the blogosphere. It's unfair that a lazy ass, or as I like to call myself, an "ambition-challenged person", has to wait so long inbetween K Street fixes.
So how about it, Mr. Man?
Thursday, October 25, 2007
He laid down his life for his friends. Excerpt from the President's speech:
On June 28th, 2005, Michael would give his life for these ideals. While conducting surveillance on a mountain ridge in Afghanistan, he and three fellow SEALs were surrounded by a much larger enemy force. Their only escape was down the side of a mountain -- and the SEALs launched a valiant counterattack while cascading from cliff to cliff. But as the enemy closed in, Michael recognized that the survival of his men depended on calling back to the base for reinforcements. With complete disregard for his own life, he moved into a clearing where his phone would get reception. He made the call, and Michael then fell under heavy fire. Yet his grace and upbringing never deserted him. Though severely wounded, he said "thank you" before hanging up, and returned to the fight -- before losing his life.
Unfortunately, the helicopter carrying the reinforcements never reached the scene. It crashed after being struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. And in the end, more Americans died in Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005 than on any other day since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. This day of tragedy also has the sad distinction of being the deadliest for Navy Special Warfare forces since World War II.
One of Michael's fellow SEALs did make it off the mountain ridge -- he was one of Michael's closest friends. Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell of Texas, author of a riveting book called "Lone Survivor," put it this way: "Mikey was the best officer I ever knew, an iron-souled warrior of colossal and almost unbelievable courage in the face of the enemy."
For his courage, we award Lieutenant Michael Murphy the first Medal of Honor for combat in Afghanistan. And with this medal, we acknowledge a debt that will not diminish with time -- and can never be repaid.
Our nation is blessed to have volunteers like Michael who risk their lives for our freedom. We're blessed to have mothers and fathers like Maureen and Dan Murphy who raise sons of such courage and character. And we're blessed with the mercy of a loving God who comforts all those who grieve.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Kudos to M. Z. Forrest for allowing Vox Nova commenter Blackadder to present his thoughtful analysis regarding free market solutions to health care industry problems. Contrary to some of the recent squawkings that Hillary Clinton's health care proposal is somehow "catholic", he points out that there is a lot more respect for subsidiarity and the common good in market solutions than in single-payer systems. Here's a teaser, but read the whole thing, it's quick:
By taking over functions that used to belong to the family, church, and voluntary associations, the state has broken down the authority and power of these mediating institutions between the state and the individual. The result is that people increasingly are unrooted, isolated, and socially adrift. Many of these institutions have become frayed and particular affections and loyalties have broken down, leaving people isolated and dependent on the state for protection (ironically, people who oppose this are often called “radical individualists”). State intervention outsources charity and replaces real social solidarity with the fiction that sending tax dollars to Washington bureaucrats (or, rather, being in favor of others sending their tax money to Washington bureaucrats) is somehow charitable. People who believe it is the government’s responsibility to care for the poor are less likely to give to charity or volunteer their time, regardless of how much the government is actually spending on fighting poverty (let alone how effective that spending is). This is, I think, not a coincidence.
But if single payer is not the answer, does this mean that we just have to live with the problems of the current system? Not necessarily. There are a number of ways that our healthcare system might be improved that don’t involve a government take over....
Then he goes on to actually provide suggestions of how to improve the current system. Imagine that. These all read like a breath of fresh air to me because it meshes with my experience exactly. When I was 25 years old I had full coverage which I hardly needed. Would have been nice to have that wasted money instead, slap it into a savings account or stimulate the economy of the beer industry, whatever.
Now as a self-employed individual I have a "creative" plan for my growing family which I had to wrest from the insurance rep using a technique I affectionately call "psychological waterboarding", i.e., threatening to go elsewhere. I could even get a cheaper plan if I could threaten to buy an insurance plan out of state, say, South Dakota or Nebraska. He might even have to sell his yacht at that point. I don't think they do the yacht thing in those there parts.
Like the gallows, competition doth greatly focus the mind of these insurance galloots, even if you don't enjoy threatening business people as much as I do. Nothing personal, I got a wife and kids, buddy. It be a Catholic thing -- noam sane?
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The new feature here at Est Quod Est is creatively entitled "The Pile of Stuff I've been reading". The fact is that I'm too
lazy busy to blog on everything I check out on the 'net, even though I find much of it interesting.
So if something catches your eye over there, please feel free to comment on some "unrelated" post. Remember: rudeness is the rule here and shyness is "right out" as the Brits say. Sure, I'm the Dictator for Life at this blog, but think of it as a Banana Republic where the ruling class is a bit ambition-challenged and drinks a lot of rum.
Here. His conclusion:
It turns out that market competition punishes those firms whose costs are out of line with others. It also produces better value for consumers, as today's cars are far superior in quality to the clunkers of 1970. And it can make things better for workers, as well. The reason the UAW demanded 30-and-out in 1970 was that workers hated their assembly-line jobs. Newer manufacturing techniques, pioneered by Japanese firms, give workers more autonomy and responsibility -- and more job satisfaction. The business model of 1970 is history. But most of us are better off today.
To the disparaging "clunkers", I prefer the more affectionate moniker "land yachts".
Also the article kind of reminds me of that Yaz tune "Goodbye Seventies". Nothing like dating myself, totally.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Every since I heard Bjørn Lomborg interviewed on the radio for his new book, Cool It, I've wanted to check it out. From the Amazon.com review by author Michael Crichton:
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming will further enhance Lomborg’s reputation for global analysis and thoughtful response. For anyone who wants an overview of the global warming debate from an objective source, this brief text is a perfect place to start. Lomborg is only interested in real problems, and he has no patience with media fear-mongering; he begins by dispatching the myth of the endangered polar bears, showing that this Disneyesque cartoon has no relevance to the real world where polar bear populations are in fact increasing. Lomborg considers the issue in detail, citing sources from Al Gore to the World Wildlife Fund, then demonstrating that polar bear populations have actually increased five fold since the 1960s.
Lomborg then works his way through the concerns we hear so much about: higher temperatures, heat deaths, species extinctions, the cost of cutting carbon, the technology to do it. Lomborg believes firmly in climate change--despite his critics, he's no denier--but his fact-based approach, grounded in economic analyses, leads him again and again to a different view. He reviews published estimates of the cost of climate change, and the cost of addressing it, and concludes that "we actually end up paying more for a partial solution than the cost of the entire problem. That is a bad deal."
In some of the most disturbing chapters, Lomborg recounts what leading climate figures have said about anyone who questions the orthodoxy, thus demonstrating the illiberal, antidemocratic tone of the current debate. Lomborg himself takes the larger view, explaining in detail why the tone of hysteria is inappropriate to addressing the problems we face.
In the interview, which was on Prager's show, he showed himself to be sensible and uninterested in the standard utopianist screeds about who's to blame. Basically he 1) firmly believes that global climate change presents a problem, 2) believes that it is to a great extent caused by human activity and 3) looking at reality, concludes current proposals to address it are wrongheaded. So he separates the facts from the fear-mongering. He gets attacked, of course, for not partaking of the envirofreak koolaid. But he's on Time's influential 100 list, and his detractors are probably out smoking homegrown and griping. This made me laugh:
Lomborg was not the first to say these things, but he hit a nerve. Environmentalists reacted to him in the way that corporate public relations departments had learned not to react to them: by fanning the flames with intemperate attacks. He was vilified in Scientific American magazine. He was found guilty of "scientific dishonesty" by a national committee of Danish scientists (the verdict was later overturned by the academy). With each attack, sales of his book boomed. And try as they might, the critics could not paint this mild-mannered, bicycle-riding, leftish vegetarian as a corporate apologist.
So he's smart, healthy, and these dweebs helped him get rich -- good for him. I'll bet he rides a really nice bike.
As an example of his practical, big-picture view from his radio interview, he agreed that global warming will be a boon to the Anopheles Mosquito, ergo more cases of malaria for those in prone areas. But he points out that in regards to human victims of the disease, poverty will still be a much greater indicator for fatalities than temperature and climate. So resources committed to forcing nations to comply with greenhouse gas emissions standards would be better spent in providing nets and medicines to those potential victims.
But this argument probably only appeals to me because I'm a human who is more interested in helping other, especially poorer, humans than in sticking it to richer humans. If any non-humans, sub-humans, space aliens, human-animal hybrids, envirodorks or anopheles mosquitoes would like to comment, please do so.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Oswald Sobrino posts on a book by Sir Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery. The book was first published in 1934 and most recently reissued in 2002. Mr. Sobrino provides some excerpts from this edition to "help us keep scientific claims in perspective, especially when those claims are pushed forward by non-scientists." His insightful conclusion:
Popper offers a chastened view of scientific claims that most scientists, I think, share; but that few non-scientists are aware of due to the fact that we are so dazzled, as outsiders, by so much scientific achievement in the modern era. In contrast, we have unrestrained scribblers, usually non-scientists, who do not show the restraint of scientists. Well, we live in a society that is, in many ways, out of control -- temperance or chastity are just not the marks of American culture today. To be chaste is not just a sexual virtue. To be chaste is a virtue of humble restraint needed throughout the culture. The lack of temperance courses through our culture from the highly personal aspects of life to the highly public claims of pseudo-scientists. Maybe, there is a testable link.
What would be an example of this kind of link? Could one be a link between people who are into "free love" and, like, totally freaked out by man-made global warming? Maybe... I don't know if it's testable; I'm a non-scientist. But I'm not sure if it really needs to be tested either.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
By way of Roger at Catholic Lawyer, we see another frowny-face made at the Red Mass, this one from a secularist point of view. The first attack I saw mainly focused on the scary guns and patriotic music. (I highly recommend the comments in that one if you are in need of a laugh.) Excerpt:
The homily, or sermon, was delivered by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee. Archbishop Dolan characterized the event as an opportunity "to rejoice in a mutually enriching alliance between religion, morality and democracy." But what he meant, of course, was that we should rejoice in an alliance between a particular religious denomination, Catholicism, and the government. This was no celebration of religion as a general matter.
I'm glad Ms. Hamilton is around to educate us on what the Archbishop really meant.
I welcome substantive discussion of why you think either of these viewpoints is right, wrong, thoughtful or stupid, especially from those readers with law degrees. As a mere layman, I'll just list three things that these reactions remind me of:
1) The widely reported recent Mass at which the Pope "intentionally wore Green vestments", ostensibly to make an environmental statement.
2) Bill Murray's character in the movie Ghostbusters warning of the possibility of "dogs and cats living together and mass hysteria" if they didn't stop the evil spirits.
3) The Spanish Inquisition's use of a "comfy chair" to torture a little old lady on an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Kathleen pointed out this WSJ article to me several weeks ago about the great Venetian artist Jacopo (Robusti) Tintoretto. He painted incredible scenes from the life of Christ, the Blessed Virgin and the lives of the saints back in the late Renaissance at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco where he met with tons of jealousy and resentment from his colleagues. I found the images I posted here, which are merely details of a few works, on a Brown University page. Anyway, the article is written by James Panero from the New Criterion who has a blog post referencing the WSJ piece. Clicking on the image of the crucifixion on his post will take you to an enormous image file that you have to scroll around on to check out the entire work. Here's an excerpt from Panero's WSJ article:
Within a year, Tintoretto overcame the Scuola's lingering resentment; he was accepted for membership and allowed to attempt his great "Crucifixion."
The layout of the room posed several challenges. Three different architects worked on the Scuola's design. When it was finished by Scarpagnino in 1549, the building's small, elevated windows provided only minimal interior light. The albergo was also wider than it was long, so that any painting covering the back wall would have to be viewed from close proximity and below.
Tintoretto conceived of a revolutionary program. Rather than keep his design locked in strict perspective, which would have been distorted by the room's oblique points of view (think of the front row of a movie theater), Tintoretto folded his narrative around the central figure of Christ on the cross. He then depicted Christ bending down -- to address the good thief, the figures in mourning at the foot of the cross, and our gaze from below. The fixity of the cross provides an anchor within an undulating sea of dark details that seems to extend beyond the picture plane out into our own space. With blank faces, the mundane figures surrounding Christ stir up the awful scene. A crowd of onlookers, carpenters, soldiers and even a dog make up "a centrifugal energy that charges the entire picture," as the art historian David Rosand wrote in his survey of 16th-century Venetian painting.
The ominous tones, curved landscape and artistic urgency that underlie Tintoretto's color choice, composition and paint handling make this work a point of departure. Rather than look back to the neo-Platonic ideals of classical sculpture -- brilliantly embodied at the start of the 16th century in the ceiling frescoes of the Sistine Chapel -- Tintoretto's "Crucifixion" anticipates the fallen angels of our modern era.
Like a thunderbolt from the brush, Tintoretto's "Crucifixion" can stop you in your tracks. The Victorian writer and artist John Ruskin certainly thought so. "I have been quite overwhelmed today by a man I have never dreamed of -- Tintoret," he wrote to his father on his first visit to Venice. "I always thought of him a good and clever and forcible painter, but I had not the smallest notion of his enormous powers. . . . And then to see his touch of quiet thought in his awful crucifixion -- there is an ass in the distance, feeding on the remains of strewed palm leaves. If that isn't a master's stroke, I don't know what is."
The Scuola has a page you can check out with a lot of images. Here's another great painting of the Annunciation. Looks like a freeze frame from a great action flick with the Holy Spirit beating St. Gabriel by a nose.
"St. Mark rescuing the beggar" also has a great action feel. There always seems to be a feel of an invasion by the forces of heaven into the earthly realm. (Yo, that's deep, dude.)
Thanks for reading my blog. For current commentary and what-not, visit the Est Quod Est homepage
Thursday, October 4, 2007
This kind of clear thinking is an example of why I was proud to work on Ken Blackwell's gubernatorial campaign and hope to do so again. Excerpt:
If social conservatives disagree with Mr. Giuliani they should work to beat him in the primaries. Why the allure of the quixotic "third party" rather than a real, principled primary fight? If the issues are life, marriage, and Second Amendment freedoms, and the objective is to win, a good bet seems to be Mike Huckabee. He is right on these issues. And, he has been highlighted by pundits on all sides as the one to watch for a breakthrough.
Emphasis mine. All these people that think the objective is to "send a message" about what you think about the so-called establishment, they should write a letter or make a phone call. Those are the ways that normal people "send a message". You don't send a message by losing except for, maybe, "WE LOST LIKE WE KNEW WE WOULD -- AREN'T WE GREAT?"
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Matthew J. Franck on Ruth Marcus's continued belief of the Anita Hill fabrication.
Ruth Marcus's accusation of anger on the part of Justice Thomas is typical liberal feminist projection. Unless she's playacting herself, I don't know what to call Marcus's continued belief of this poster child for the continued practice of black slavery by liberal Democrats.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I probably won't make the evening news since I'm such a smart-ass, but honestly I hadn't even heard of the big pope euthanasia rumor. I was approached by a channel 19 news-chick going up the steps of St. John's at Noon today. It went kind of like this:
news19chick: Excuse me sir... I know mass is starting... have you heard about the story... I mean you're a good Catholic, right?... the Roman Catholic church claims to be against euthanasia... an Italian physician said the Pope didn't have to die.... what do you think?
pauli: Sounds like Godfather three.
news19chick: uhh... O... K... more... give me more, I need more, can you give me more thoughts....
pauli: Well, I thought the first two Godfather films were a lot better.
I then turned around and went into the cathedral for Mass. Like I said, I doubt they'll run that.
I try to look on the bright side of things. At least she's not out making porno movies.
Father Jonathan deals with the whole non-story here in a more substantive way than I did.
Mr. Coppola, I hate to tell you this, but your beard could have done a better acting job than your daughter.
UPDATE: Finished watching the channel 19 news at 11PM and they ran the story about the Italian doctor, the feeding tube, blah, blah, blah... but they didn't show anyone they man-in-the-street-interviewed. That's funny because they hung around outside the Cathedral all through Mass and were there interviewing 3 or 4 people when I was on my way to lunch with a friend. We were laughing; obviously the daily Mass crew isn't composed of the types to say "No... really? You don't say! Wow! I knew Pope John Paul II was a big hypocrite!"
You can't make anything up anymore. Like for instance, I was just in the men's room polishing my head with a damp paper towel when I imagined an internet quiz called "Which regular polyhedron are you?" This caused me to chuckle about how clever and original my ideas are.
Precautionary googling revealed that of course, such a thing already exists, duh.
I guess the "cat's out the bag" as they say in my old nabe. I'm a D&D-style geek. But the odds of my readers not picking that up by now are approximately the same as successfully navigating an asteroid field, i.e., 3,720 to 1. That's equivalent to rolling a 7 on a dodecahedron 310 times in a row.
So what do you think? Is the quiz accurate? I'm especially anxious to read Tom's assessment of this quiz.
"You are the rare, the overlooked, yet incredibly useful dodecahedron: the d12. You are a creative, romantic soul. You often act without thinking, but make up for your lack of plans with plenty of heart. You easily solve problems that stump others, but your answers tend to put you into even deeper trouble. You write long, detailed backgrounds for all your characters, and are most likely to dress up as one or get involved in cos-play. You can be silly at times and are easily distracted by your own day dreams, but are at the end of the day you're someone who can be depended on."
Doesn't mention that I can be duplicated by an old 6-sided die and a coin toss, heads add six. So much for "incredible usefulness."
Monday, September 24, 2007
Ahmadinejad uttered this lie at Columbia and was rewarded with jeers and laughing disbelief. It was in response to the (true) accusation that gays are routinely executed in Iran for their sexual preference.
It reminded me of Al Capone's famous lie: "There are no gangsters in Chicago." Riiiiiight.
Gays are not amused.
Jonah's article on Dan Rather's $70 million lawsuit against CBS is a must-read. Excerpt:
Rather used to compare his job to “a very high trapeze act, frequently with no net.” Three years ago, he went splat in the bull’s-eye of the center ring. Now, with the circus long since out of town, he all of a sudden wants a net rolled out.
But you know what? I say, “You go, Dan!”
Frankly, we need this. And by “we,” I mean a grand coalition of people who delight in watching one of the 20th century’s most pompous gasbags fall from the top of the laughingstock tree and hit every branch on the way down. These are dour times, and if Gunga Dan and Hurricane Dan and What’s-The-Frequency-Kenneth Dan want to trade their Afghan robes, yellow windbreakers and enormous tinfoil hats for some baggy pants, bright-orange wigs and floppy shoes, I say let them. I just hope all of the Dans show up at the courthouse in a teensy-weensy clown car.
Jonah's right; Rather suing CBS is a win-win for conservatives, sensibility and a room full of lawyers. I doubt "The Dan" will be able to take the mega-corp down; besides, another millionaire news anchor is currently giving Rather a run for his money at that task via her abysmally low ratings.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
This is pretty cool. I had a horrible cold last weekend, so I spent a lot of time entering books into Google's library database feature. What's neat is that some of the newer books are searchable, so if I remember reading something but I'm not sure which book it's in... presto! I can Google my own "dead tree" library!
I've only got it partially entered. My estimate is that my wife and I own maybe 700 or 800 books. Probably by year-end I'll have it completely loaded. I'm not going to post my comic book collection; if I did Bubba might break into my house to steal them.
This would be a great tool for small school or church libraries especially since it's free to the user to create a library. You just do a search on author or title, or you can enter the ISBN number. I did find that not all ISBN numbers are entered and there were a few books which I couldn't find, about 3 out of 284. Those were all from very small publishing companies, however.
[Y]ou can trust Holy Church completely. But only a fool would trust its members merely because they are its members. To be sure, we extend each other the normal charity we should extend strangers. We don't presume the worst. We don't live in constant paranoia. But at the same time, to uncritically assume that Fr. Whosit or Bishop Whatsit could not *possibly* be liars, scoundrels or incompetents is to treat them like gods, not men. At the end of the day, they are men. So the Scandal appalled me, but it never *shocked* me as it shocked Rod. It caused no crisis of faith because I never "believed in" the various culprits. To be sure, there are people I believe in. But that's because I followed the command to be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove and to "test everything" and hold fast to what is good....
I think Mark is onto something by noting the contrast between being appalled and being shocked. For example, Our Lord is appalled at Judas's betrayal, urging him to get it over with, but having seen the sins of all mankind, he is most likely not shocked and instead says rather bluntly "One of you will betray me." I am appalled at the priest scandal, but in response I've chosen to fold my hands in private rather than wring my hands in public.
Good comments to Mark's post by Tom (natch), Scriblerus, Red Cardigan and Jim Scott 4th. Please feel free to add your own comments here.
Monday, September 17, 2007
A former broadcaster has reportedly discovered that salt water will burn when exposed to certain radio frequencies, raising the possibility that sea water could someday be used for fuel.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported over the weekend that cancer researcher John Kanzius - who once owned a radio/TV combo in Erie, PA - discovered while experimenting with a frequency generator that the hydrogen in salt water can burn with a 3,000-degree flame when exposed to radio frequencies.
Penn State University chemist Rustum Roy told the Post-Gazette that he was able to re-create Kanzius' results in university laboratories. Roy called the discovery "the most remarkable in water science in 100 years."
Kanzius once co-owned what is now WQHZ-FM in Erie (formerly WJET-FM).
He and partner Myron Jones also owned WJET-TV in that market. Jones was CEO and Kanzius was President of the licensee of both stations, The Jet Broadcasting Co.
If sea water can be used as fuel then I suppose rising sea levels due to global warming will be a good thing. Makes sense. But I'm more excited about the possibility of thumbing our noses at the Arabs while we fly down the highway blasting Jan & Dean tunes on our sea powered Hummers and other "land yachts".
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Here's how it happened. Mr Goldman quickly overcame the disgust he expressed publicly last year and realised that the unpublished manuscript of If I Did It was an asset he could legitimately chase as part of Simpson's unpaid legal settlement. In other words, he decided the publicity the book would give Simpson might be less objectionable if the profits went into his pocket, rather than Simpson's. Mr Goldman went to a bankruptcy court to have the rights signed over to him and, in August, won his case. The new edition of If I Did It differs from the original in several key respects. Its authorship is attributed to "the Goldman family" instead of OJ Simpson and it includes new material by members of the Goldman family and the society crime writer, Dominick Dunne. The cover cleverly conceals the word "If" to the point of near-invisibility so, on first glance, the book appears to be called I Did It. The new subtitle, Confessions Of The Killer, rams home the point that Simpson is no longer toying with the idea of having killed his estranged wife and her lover. Rather, he really is confessing to the crime.
The whole thing is still pretty sick, but as a story of chutzpah being met with more chutzpah, Fred Goldman's style is pretty unique. An if a famous football player killed my son and walked, who am I to say that, given the chance, I wouldn't hijack his dumb book project?
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
From his Townhall.com commentary email, Michael Medved writes about the so-called "9/11 Truthers".
The sixth anniversary of the September 11th attacks should have inspired remembrance and gratitude, since so far we've been spared the horrors of another terrorist assault on American soil.
But unfortunately, commemorations this year were marred by a disturbing trend in our culture: polls show more than 30% of our fellow citizens believe 9/11 was an "inside job." The so-called "9/11 Truth Movement" obsesses on a range of ludicrous suspicions about Building Seven, a missile--not a plane--striking the Pentagon, dynamite charges at the base of the twin towers, and so forth.
Aside from the poisonous impact on public discourse of such lunatic notions, the people who focus on these theories do incalculable damage to themselves. Someone who entertains the idea that his own government is part of a mass-murdering conspiracy will not only destroy his political effectiveness, but also make success in career and marriage far less likely.
Normal, productive individuals would prefer to avoid long-term association with paranoid nuts.
Emphasis mine. 30 percent? That's too many to ignore. Not that I know what to do about people that buy into this stuff. If only the human brain could be rebooted....
Meanwhile, guess who has joined this "truth movement"? Yes, Fidel Castro! This puts him at odds with OBL who claimed that he actually did plan the 9/11 attacks, not the CIA or the President's grandmother or whoever. But there is probably some beard-envy toward Osama on Fidel's part. From the article:
"What is most dramatic is the affirmation that the truth about what happened may never be known," he said.
Castro has not been seen in public since undergoing intestinal surgery in July 2006. He has appeared in photographs and eight videos, the last of which aired on June 5.
It's great to know that Castro is so concerned about the truth.
Monday, September 10, 2007
I can totally appreciate this since I often laugh uproariously at things which are seemingly unfunny to others. Granted I'm not this cute, but hey, works for me, and it's cheaper than renting a DVD.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
I'm having some fun with numbers here using the date and time. So let us look at one of the latest posts from the inimitable Oengus Moonbones.
[Warning: If like Mattel's Barbie® you think that "math is hard", you might want to skip this post.]
There are three mysterious triangular numbers in the New Testament. The first is 153 which occurs in John 21:11. The second is 276 which occurs in Acts 27:37. And the third is 666 which occurs in Revelations 13:18.
These three numbers have certain curious relationships with each other, which I will endeavor to illuminate.
First, there are some elementary properties we should notice. Using the formula for the nth triangular number, T(n)=n(n+1)/2, it's easy to see that 153 is the 17th triangular number, 276 is the 23rd triangular number, and 666 is the 36th triangular number. And 36 is the square of 6.
He then goes on to explore relationships between these numbers based on different ways to slice and dice them. He points out that the context of all three of the verses containing these "mysterious triangular" numbers have something to do with the element of water. The mysterious catch of fish (153 fish), a shipwreck on one of St. Paul's missionary journeys (276 people) and the beast coming out of the sea (666).
The number "153" I had known about. A nice traditional Catholic lady pointed out that a 15 decade Rosary contained 153 Hail Mary's -- of course the Rosary was developed long after the St. John's Gospel was written. But her mention of it made me think about the story and how the number just kind of pops up surprisingly. I mean, think about it: the Apostles are in the midst of an intense encounter with the resurrected Christ, a miracle occurs, St. John realizes it's Jesus, St. Peter jumps into the water, and somebody says "Wow! look at all these fish! We'd better count these pappies"? Well, I think St. Matthew was an accountant, maybe it was his idea. Either that or it's a pretty weird estimate. Imagine St. John thinking later as he pens his Gospel, "Oh, I don't know, I guess there were, maybe, one-hundred-fifty-three or so. Roughly." But in the verse it reads pretty much like a certainty, and the strangeness of the number speaks to precision also. St. John's Gospel also contains loads of symbolism, so the number might have been chosen. I'm one of those both/and types who would suggest that it's likely that is was accurate (i.e., for real) and symbolic, the kind of thing Jesus, the guy who invented the sacraments, was really into.
Some of the other interesting features of the number 153 are on it's very own wikipedia page. It mentions that it is the 9th Hexagonal Number. But more interestingly to me, it possesses features like the Kaprekar constant, 6174, which fascinated me since the 4th grade or so. For 153, however, you pick any number divisible by 3 and add the cubes of the digits. Keep doing this to the results and you eventually get to 153.
The 153 page links to a interesting connection between the number and fish. It's an instance of 153 being used as a denominator in a fraction by Pythogoreans as an close estimate to the Vesica Piscis shape, literally the "bladder of the fish". A fish's bladder would seem to be a water symbol squared! Hold on a second...
I'm back. Sorry, all this talk about water, you know. But you've seen this Vesica Piscis in Christian art countless times usually with a saint or Our Lord sitting in it. It is supposed to be related to the IXΘYC fish, possibly the earliest Christian symbols. It also pops up in pagan art, jewelry and Arthurian Legend. You can also see it popping up in those crop circles, proving that those UFO aliens know about fish bladders as well.
What I like about Oengus's musings on these numbers is that it is what I would call true Biblical exegesis even though it may seem a bit speculative and esoteric to non-mathmatical scripture readers. There are plenty of people out there who approach numbers in the Bible, especially the book of Revelation, trying to prove how a modern day figure (e.g., Ronald Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Geo. Bush, etc.) is the anti-Christ of prophecy. They can usually find a way to "force" numbers to "prove" this about their political enemies, the object of their crackpottery. For this reason, the study of numbers in Sacred Scripture is generally seen as fraudulent and goofy by many, but I don't think it has to be. If nothing else, this stuff has informed and enriched meaningful Christian symbolism and fosters an appreciation for numbers in the geometry of the created order Thirty-seven genes in the human mitochondrial DNA might be a stretch but WHOAAA! dude, I like it.
I just finished reading the conversion story of Christopher Cuddy, a Catholic convert whose blog I recently linked to in the sidebar. His story bears a lot of resemblance to my own... well, it sort of does if you ignore the absence in his story of heavy drinking, late nights playing in a rock band, badly botched romances, a multitude of traffic violations and dropping out of college. What I mean is that we were both in the same geographical location when we converted, we were both Presbyterians and both were greatly influenced by Dr. Scott Hahn. Excerpt:
All of these feelings of anxiety and angst were quickly laid to rest. Scott Hahn was a tall man with warm eyes and a hearty laugh. He took the three of us out to eat at a local McDonalds, and we talked theology for about three hours.
I found Dr. Hahn to be very humble, non-threatening, and a real pleasure to talk with. And because our backgrounds were so similar, we had no problem finding common ground to build upon. The first half of our conversation was spent sharing stories about our experiences with authors and theologians who were influential in our theological formation. I was impressed with Dr. Hahn’s breadth of knowledge, and the sincere respect he had for many of his former (Protestant) mentors. Far from harboring feelings of animosity and contempt towards his Protestant professors, he regarded them with deep and sincere admiration. I was really touched by the gratitude and appreciation he had for them and their work.
I listened closely to everything that he said – carefully examining his every statement for traces of anything that could potentially be Biblically malignant and theologically dangerous. In the end, however, I was surprised to find that there was very little that I could make a legitimate fuss about. He patiently listened to my list of typical objections to the Catholic faith, and he systematically responded to my questions with clear arguments from both Scripture and Church history.
I was blown out of the water. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that it would be possible for someone to provide Biblical reasons for Catholicism – arguments from “man-made traditions,” perhaps, but never from the Scriptures.
It turns out that Mr. Cuddy and I have a lot of mutual friends so maybe I'll have the pleasure of meeting him someday. He also has a new book out of Catholic conversion stories which he co-edited.
Thanks for reading my blog. For current commentary and what-not, visit the Est Quod Est homepage
The party started with 8:30 Mass followed by our regular weekly Novena to the Mother of Perpetual Help, then continued with breakfast. Bacon, eggs and pancakes with Nutella. And big coffees for the big folks.
Then the two older kids and I played what could be best described as an extended harmonica jam session. Around the same time, coincidentally I believe, mama left to go shopping. (Hey -- didn't she just go shopping a few days ago?)
Later on we'll make a cake with strawberries, the kids' favorite. Strawberries are a symbol for the Virgin Mother because they are simultaneously "in fruit and in flower". So there you go.
Paties rock, and my kids know how to party. If I were a poet like Wordsworth, I'd write something llike this:
MOTHER! whose virgin bosom was uncrost
With the least shade of thought to sin allied;
Woman! above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature's solitary boast;
Purer than foam on central ocean tost;
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
With fancied roses, than the unblemished moon
Before her wane begins on heaven's blue coast;
Thy Image falls to earth. Yet some, I ween,
Not unforgiven the suppliant knee might bend,
As to a visible Power, in which did blend
All that was mixed and reconciled in Thee
Of mother's love with maiden purity,
Of high with low, celestial with terrene!
But I'm not a poet, and I know it, so let's party. But go easy with the Nutella -- it's supposedly a mild laxative.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
I don't know if it's meant to be, but this article about the TLM is truly funny. To me. Excerpt:
When I was growing up in the years after the Council, I was taught that the New Rite had completely superseded the Old. The only people who attended the Tridentine Mass were hatchet-faced old men wearing berets and gabardine raincoats, who muttered darkly about Satan’s capture of the papacy. I had never been to the Old Mass and knew only two things about it: that it was said by the priest ‘with his back to the people’ — how rude! — and that most priests who celebrated it were followers of the rebel French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. These people were unaccountably ‘attached’ to the Tridentine Rite and its ‘fussy’ accretions — the prayers at the foot of the altar; the intricately choreographed bows, crossings and genuflections of the celebrant; the ‘blessed mutter’ of the Canon in a voice inaudible to the congregation. The New Mass, in contrast, was said by the priest facing the people, nearly always in English. It was for everyone. Including people who didn’t like it.
He concludes on a very serious note:
‘In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek,’ said St Paul. ‘Nor traditionalist nor liberal,’ adds Benedict. The Pope knows that the vast majority of Catholics wish to worship God in their own language — but he also knows that the communities that use the Missal of John XXIII are among the most dynamic in the universal Church. Summorum Pontificum tore down the liturgical veil separating the old from the new; now the social barriers must be removed. For that to happen, former traditionalists will have to stop thinking of themselves as a spiritual elite; and former liberals must turn their eyes towards the astonishing treasures that this greatest of modern Popes has reclaimed from the rubbish heap. As I said, this is an exciting time to be a Catholic.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
LOL. For starters, nice blast at Chris Matthews:
Chris Matthews opened his "Hardball" program on Aug. 28 by saying Larry Craig had been "exposed as both a sexual deviant and a world-class hypocrite."
Normally, using the word "deviant" in reference to any form of sodomy would be a linguistic crime worse than calling someone a "nappy headed ho." Luckily, Craig is a Republican.
As a backup precaution, Matthews has worked to ensure that there is virtually no audience for "Hardball." I shudder to think of the damage such a remark might have done if uttered about a non-Republican on a TV show with actual viewers.
Her next move simultaneously pinions the hypocrisy accusation against Craig and the "gays-just-want-to-be-like-normal-people" canard.
Liberals don't even know what they mean by "hypocrite" anymore. It's just a word they throw out in a moment of womanly pique, like "extremist" -- or, come to think of it, "gay." How is Craig a "hypocrite," much less a "blatant hypocrite"?
Assuming the worst about Craig, the Senate has not held a vote on outlawing homosexual impulses. It voted on gay marriage. Craig not only opposes gay marriage, he's in a heterosexual marriage with kids. Talk about walking the walk! Did Craig propose marriage to the undercover cop? If not, I'm not seeing the "hypocrisy."
And why is it "homophobic" for Senate Republicans to look askance at sex in public bathrooms? Is the Times claiming that sodomy in public bathrooms is the essence of being gay? I thought gays just wanted to get married to one another and settle down in the suburbs so they could visit each other in the hospital.
This whole affair is a cartoonish illustration of the American political fact that nothing happens in August. Craig might be a big liar and the jerk-of-the-universe for all I know or care. But I love to watch Coulter run circles around the cross-eyed mediatards. And she is sooooo fun-ny!! Be honest; aren't you embarrassed when you read some folks' lame attempt at humor? (Wait -- don't answer that if I'm one of aforesaid folks!)
If any writer deserves to be called a 21st Century Chesterton, Ann Coulter does.