Sunday, May 24, 2009

Another Abuse Scandal

From the New York Times. Salute to Catholic Analysis. All emphasis is my own.

It exposes for the first time the scope of the problem in Ireland, as well as how the government and the church colluded in perpetuating an abusive system. The revelations have also had the effect of stripping the Catholic Church, which once set the agenda in Ireland, of much of its moral authority and political power.

The report singles out Ireland’s Department of Education, meant to regulate the schools, for running “toothless” inspections that overlooked glaring problems and deferred to church authority.

The report is based in part on old church records of unreported abuse cases and in part on the anonymous testimony of 1,060 former students from a variety of 216 mostly church-run institutions, including reformatories and so-called industrial schools, set up to tend to neglected, orphaned or abandoned children.

Most of the former students are now 50 to 80 years old.

Some 30,000 children were sent to such places over six decades, the report says, often against their families’ wishes and because of pressure from powerful local priests. They were sent because their families could not afford to care for them, because their mothers had committed adultery or given birth out of wedlock, or because one or both of their parents was ill, drunken or abusive. They were also sent because of petty crime, like stealing food, or because they had missed school.

Many of the former students said that they had not learned their own identities until decades later. They also said that their parents had unsuccessfully tried to reclaim them from the state.

The problem I see here, that the Times reporter does not, is this: that government and Church collaborated. I've said before that the Establishment Clause of the Constitution is far less to protect us from theocracy than it is to protect the independence of the Church from the State. Christ's power is made perfect in weakness. It's appropriate for the Church to protect her doctrines and conscience from the State as much as she can. But that sort of political power is a far, far thing from seeking the state's favors, and I can readily believe that these workhouses, orphanages and reformatories got money from the government in return for keeping children.

This sort of abuse, particularly the sexual element of it, makes Theology of the Body ever more important. I find myself in agreement with those who claim it is the neccessary and moral response to both Victorian repression and the libertinism of the so-called "sexual revolution."

More on Hatred

It's not enough to note that Carrie Prejean is now better-known than she would have been as Miss America; she also has new opportunities. She can be one of the foremost spokesmen for Defense of Marriage Activists worldwide, probably for as long as she likes, particularly given how charitable she has been in her response to Mr. Hilton. Solid formation on the Church's doctrines regarding same-sex attraction can only help, as they are far more nuanced and compassionate than the Church is ever given credit for being.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

On the Counterproductivity of Hatred

It is interesting to note that, thanks to the bitter, bilious vitriol of Perez Hilton, I now know far more about Carrie Prejean than I do about the last three women to win the crown of Miss America.

Way to shoot yourself in the foot, dude.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hot Diggety!!

I have just been added to Vir Speluncae Catholics' list of lay cave-dwellers! My traffic (which I refuse to track) is bound to increase. So, muchas gracias, Cavey!

If there's anything for which I pick on the Cavemen, it's a tendency not to display proper charity towards their enemies and God's (two lists with a lot of overlap). God wants us all converted and saved, even (especially!) those who hate Him.

If there is anything the Cavemen do for which I'm grateful, it is to express joyously the blessings of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite. But for them, I might never have known.

I'm going over to Carolina Cannonball right now to put in my votes for her awards. The Cavemen definitely get my vote for "Best Church Militant Blog."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Linux Usage

Most people spend most of their time on a computer doing the following things: Browsing the Internet, chatting on instant messengers like AIM and the Windows Messenger, email, sharing and editing digital photos, and word processing. There are several Linux distributions, or distros, that handle these things (and web development) as well as they're handled in Windows, if not better.

It's been a long time since I've written about Linux, and quite a bit has changed. But some things remain the same.

What has changed? Well, driver availability is much better than it once was, though it still lags behind Windows and Mac OS. Gnome and KDE are much easier to use than they used to be. Ease of installation has increased by leaps and bounds, especially for Ubuntu (if you want a free install CD) or Linux Mint (a better choice if you are willing to download and burn the install CD yourself). Both have very helpful and friendly communities providing support. Switching over from Windows is far easier than it used to be, as well. Most of your favorite Windows programs have near equivalents in Linux, that do the same things, but only sometimes in the same way.

What hasn't changed? Linux is released under the GNU Public License. This means that you have a property right to the source code and software. Since property rights are the basis for a libertarian society, this is a huge benefit. Microsoft (and most software "sellers") makes sure that they, not you, retain all property rights.

A computer running Windows is more loyal to Microsoft than you than ever before; "Trusted" Computing and Digital Rights Management are the primary processes by which Microsoft maintains control over what you do with your computer. These issues are the core reasons I refuse to use Windows XP and any subsequent OS released by Microsoft. This article expands upon this and other reasons.

Linux has much lower system requirements than Windows Vista or XP, and can run ably on machines that were new when Windows 2000 came out.

If you are interested in trying Linux, there are several distros that are as easy to install as Windows. Installation is a bit more complex if you want to keep Windows on your computer, but it's not out of reach.

My first recommendation is Ubuntu. This is partly because Canonical will ship you a free CD-ROM to let you test-drive and install Ubuntu (called a Live CD). The other reason is that the user community is so large, friendly and helpful. (Check out this newbie's guide for an example.) When I have a problem with Ubuntu, I can stop mid-installation and check out the forums, the official documentation, the community wiki, and the Ubuntu IRC channel (connect to and /join #ubuntu ).

I am using Linux Mint right now. It is mostly Ubuntu with some added configuration and administration tools, and I think what the Linux Mint team has changed, they have changed for the better. You have to download the image file for the Linux Mint Live CD and burn it onto a CD-R yourself, but after that, I find it takes less effort to use than Ubuntu.

Ubuntu and Mint use the GNOME desktop by default. The other main desktop environment used in Linux is KDE, and many Windows users will prefer it. (Neither is really "better" than the other; it comes down to what you like.) Many distros come in both KDE and GNOME versions, but I think most are better at one than the other.

If you would rather try KDE, you have several options. There is Kubuntu, the KDE version of Ubuntu (and again, Canonical will ship you a free LiveCD). I think that Ubuntu is better with Gnome. There is SimplyMEPIS, a distro developed to help new users with setup and configuration, which is KDE. There is Mandriva. They have a Gnome version as well, but I think they have been doing KDE for longer. Mandriva has been oriented towards the new user for over 15 years. There is PCLinuxOS, which was originally based on Mandriva. I used PCLOS for two years, and it was always better than Windows for anything to do with the internet. Just as I think of Linux Mint as a more polished version of Ubuntu, I think of PCLOS as a more polished version of Mandriva. I still would be using PCLOS if I didn't want to keep playing World of Warcraft. PCLOS had only KDE to start, but some reviewers think the latest Gnome version is better.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Blogrollin' again

On the supposition that there are people who would prefer my blog to Bill Donaghy's, what's wrong with you?

I never come up with fabulous stuff like this.

"I'm from the government, I'm here to help"

The cavalier use of brute government force has become routine, but the emerging story of how Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke forced CEO Ken Lewis to blow up Bank of America is still shocking. It's a case study in the ways that panicky regulators have so often botched the bailout and made the financial crisis worse.

In the name of containing "systemic risk," our regulators spread it. In order to keep Mr. Lewis quiet, they all but ordered him to deceive his own shareholders. And in the name of restoring financial confidence, they have so mistreated Bank of America that bank executives everywhere have concluded that neither Treasury nor the Federal Reserve can be trusted.

Mr. Lewis has told investigators for New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that in December Mr. Paulson threatened him not to cancel a deal to buy Merrill Lynch. BofA had discovered billions of dollars in undisclosed Merrill losses, and Mr. Lewis was considering invoking his rights under a material adverse condition clause to kill the merger. But Washington decided that America's financial system couldn't withstand a Merrill failure, and that BofA had to risk its own solvency to save it. So then-Treasury Secretary Paulson, who says he was acting at the direction of Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, told Mr. Lewis that the feds would fire him and his board if they didn't complete the deal. ...

The Wall Street Journal

The title of this post was described by President Ronald Reagan as some of the most frightening words in the English language. Gun owners and dealers have long known that the Federal regulators who oversee them are the enemy; it looks like bankers have now learned the same hard truth.