Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Cold Heart of Obamacare

Salute to A Shepherd's Voice. Read the full column, by Nat Hentoff, at the Cato Institute.

Mr. Hentoff has an excellent stinger line: "We do not elect the president and Congress to decide how short our lives will be. That decision is way above their pay grades."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More Blogrollin'

Fr. D would make me look bad, if I figured there was any standard to which I thought I should hold myself. You really should go read his post on tragic circumstances. It's far better than anything I expect to write, except by the grace of God.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Blogrollin'

On the off chance that there are any readers who prefer my blog to Fr. Dwight Longenecker's, what is wrong with you?

I never come up with truly fabulous things like this.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

World of Lies

I hear enough of Rush Limbaugh to know he has adopted "the World of Lies" as a new catchphrase. That certainly seems to apply to Planned Parenthood; witness this article.

From the comments, and though I regard RICO as bad law, I agree with this:
I realize that, under the current administration, this is highly improbable but I do believe a case could be made to charge PP, and all their officers, under the RICO statutes. They constitute a continuing criminal enterprise (hiding knowledge of, and facts pertaining to, crimes), they fraudulently receive government funds under various titles, and they conceal their activities by operating under multiple entities, perceived as independent though controlled by a single, overarching, entity which controls the direction and methods used within the organization. Going after the individual offices for their trangressions, regardless of how serious, is akin to prosecuting street level drug dealers, whilst the kingpins operate with impunity. -- Reilly

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Government Intervention and High Prices

I found this article, by Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson at Grove City College. He discusses the history of meddling with prices, and how it raises costs. It's worth a read. But in the first comment, along comes this, from Joe DeVet:
[T]here’s a moral dimension to messing with markets which is often overlooked in Catholic discourse about “social justice.” We Catholics proclaim a “preferential option for the poor”, but as the discussion goes on, many other competing “social-justice” goals tend to get in the way. We see a problem like the loss of the family farm, and we figure we’ll subsidize plowing crops under and killing piglets for the sake of the farm. We see a minority who don’t have health insurance, and are tempted to think remaking the whole health system will help those few.

At the end of the day, we may have helped SOME poor in the short term, but have harmed all the poor in the longer term. Prices are higher and goods and services more limited as a result of the interventions. The rich (includes you and me) are inconvenienced; the poor actually suffer. They don’t just “feel” poorer, as the author states, but ARE poorer.

So much for the “preferential option.” Bearing this in mind, we need to recognize that it is not only a bad idea to intervene in markets the way the current administration is trying to do, it is actually sinful.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Death of Peak Oil

Good News On Two Fronts. Salute to the Western Confucian.

The story relates two things: first, how a Russian scientist, Vladimir Kutcherov, was able to manufacture methane and other hydrocarbons -- some much like petroleum -- by mimicing conditions of the Earth's mantle. He combined iron, water, and calcium carbonate (limestone) at about 30,000 atmospheres, and got hydrocarbons. He hypothesizes that oil and natural gas are the products of geological processes having nothing to do with dinosaurs or other fossils. This is supported by rumors that some North Sea and Gulf of Mexico fields once thought dry are producing again (see the comments on that post). The second part of the hypothesis is that fluid hydrocarbons make their way to the surface through deep cracks in the crust. Map those cracks, and you'll find petroleum and natural gas.

If he is right, what does this mean?

First, it means that we will not run out of oil and natural gas until the Earth's core freezes solid. The argument for deadlier, lightweight cars is at least partly a fraud, as are those for mass transit.

Second, it means that oil exploration will become vastly more efficient and widespread. Instead of 20% of exploratory wells striking oil, it will be more like 70%. And many areas once thought to have no promise could have lots of oil. We may well find oil on every continent except Antarctica ... and maybe there as well.

Third, it means the number one ally of violent jihadism is going to be the NIMBY syndrome. Make no mistake, the primary exporter of violent jihadism is Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi Muslims, and they are financed by petroleum. If energy independence is going to get much more widespread, their share of the petroleum market will precipitously decline.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Just Having Some Fun

I was lucky enough to grow up in Detroit, where I could get CBC-TV Channel 9 out of Windsor in the final years of Wayne and Shuster's career. Enjoy all 20 minutes of "The Brown Pumpernickel," a really fabulous example of their work.




It's a real shame, but comedy like this has become very rare. Wayne and Shuster were literate, measured, decent, and very very funny. Indecency sprawls everywhere in our modern culture of death, of course, which is a crying shame. It will take near universal rejection of pornography and smut to change that, and though I pray for it, I don't really expect it any time soon.

But that isn't the only thing that has changed. Television itself encourages a short attention span (and the internet even more so); see this article on The Art of Manliness. Somebody who finds the opportunity cost of paying attention to something for ten minutes is never going to get all the way through even as fluffy a classic as "The Three Musketeers," let alone "Summa Theologica," or the Vatican II documents. And because he is impatient, he will not become literate.

We hear "the medium is the message" so often it has become cliche, but it is cliche precisely because it is true. And the medium definitely controls the message when it comes to social networking sites: When "Know Thyself" Becomes "Show Thyself".

If I have anything to say about telly, facebooking, and the like, it is this: do not let your interest in such things become idolatry. The means of human communion God has given to us from out of antiquity -- family, church, community -- are, in the vast majority of cases, going to be best. And if you rely exclusively on media which by their nature eliminate the gestures, postures, tones of voice and facial expressions that make up so much of human interaction, you really are missing out on a great deal. You can strengthen your relationships by visiting people, or by getting out some paper and a fine pen and writing a letter. It requires more effort, but aren't those you love worth effort?