Sunday, December 30, 2012

Open Source and Freeware

Free Software is software that you may use, redistribute, modify, and redistribute your modified versions.  Captive software is licensed to make it illegal to do at least one of these things.  I always will recommend free software over captive software.

Freeware is software you do not have to pay to use, but is otherwise in some way captive.  I will generally recommend freeware over paid captive software, though you should be careful.  Quite a bit of freeware (extra browser toolbars, especially) will spy on you, and freeware may have a number of other malicious functions as well.

So:  here are some resources.

Datamation has a mega-list of nearly 1100 free software projects, ranging from complete operating systems to very simple text editors, which I have added to the "other links" part of the sidebar. is my go-to portal for Windows freeware.  All of it is certified nagware, spyware, and malware free, though I have found some pretty worthless stuff there. provides user ratings of various alternatives to well-known software packages, and links where you can obtain them.  They are perfectly willing to link to free software, freeware, and paid captive software.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On Newtown, CT, and Policy

I ran across Larry Correia's statements on mass shootings and what makes people safe in Mark Shea's commentariat.

Larry Correia may truly be one of the most qualified of people to discuss the issue of how gun ownership and use affect criminal behavior, including mass shootings like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. I have seen nothing I think you would do better to read if you wish to be informed on the relevant issues, especially not anything I've written.


Salute to Fr. George David Byers, of Holy Souls Hermitage. I wept, and choked up with emotion. Watch it through to the end.

Additionally: Read John C. Wright's excellent time-travel story. It too delighted and moved me so, so deeply.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Tragedy in Connecticut

EDIT: I suppose you can consider my post the tl/dr of this post by the eloquent and esteemed David Warren, whose writings I recommend without qualification.

end edit With Pope Benedict, I am deeply saddened by the senseless and tragic massacre in New Town, Connecticut. I pray for those lost and all their families: May God have mercy on them all, and give his grace to all.

This article in the Atlantic concedes that the debate over banning gun ownership is largely over, and that those who argue for have lost. The author, Jeffrey Goldberg, even concedes that defensive gun uses happen, that law-abiding gun owners save lives with their guns, and even contradicts a lawyer for the Ohio police chief's association who says that his anecdotal evidence proves gun violence has increased since Ohio passed a shall-issue CCW permit law by claiming that statistics show otherwise.

Israel used to have a serious problem with school massacres. The PLO or Hamas would find some willing martyr, hand him a $50 black market AK-47 and some ammo, and send him to shoot up a school. Prime Minister Golda Mier said she was not going to make policy on the backs of children. Her response was to field armed volunteers to protect elementary schools, often retired relatives of the school children. The death tolls from these incidents went from over a score to low single digits, and Arab terrorists started using suicide bombers instead of gunmen.

I am not at all surprised to find Pelosi, President Obama, et al, making sure that they don't let tragedies go to waste by trying to make gun-banning hay while the sun shines. But I sincerely hope that they fail.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lifeteen Has Some Awesome Stuff

For example, Why You Should Care About Religious Freedom

Fr. Mike trots out the Jewish Deli analogy, which I find to be a tad weak, but he also mentions that fully 1/6 of all hospitalized persons are treated in Catholic hospitals. And the HHS mandate will shut them down.

I suspect that they'll be seized shortly thereafter, or perhaps before; it wouldn't be too much of a legal stretch for Eric Holder's Justice Department to say that failure to provide contraceptives makes the hospital building and property complicit in crime, so that they can be sued (as in, Department of Justice v. 100 McGregor Street, Manchester, which happens to be the address of the Catholic Medical Center). While I have not written extensively about civil asset forfeiture on this blog, it's definitely on my mind from time to time, and ranks as one of the more naked forms of plunder by law practiced today.

Here's another: Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine

And a third, which is truly excellent: What the Confessional is Like for a Priest

Right now, every page on Lifeteen redirects to a fundraising appeal page. If those redirects are still in effect when you get there, hit Alt-left arrow or the back button on your browser to get back to the pages I'm linking to.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In Case You Missed It

when Mark Shea urged you to sign this petition to stop the drone strikes which are the means by which our President murders those on his kill list, I also urge you to sign this petition, and tell people about it.  I know that it is effectively no different from a facebook "like" group, but his administration deserves to be reminded that We the People don't want murder to be part of our official policy, foreign or domestic.  And it helps remind people just what sort of President we have.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Blogrollin' on Real and False Marriage

Salute to Mark Shea, and his readers

Inspired by the success of Catholics for Marriage Equality, a new group has formed: Vegans for Food Equality. Here is what they say:
After generations of silence, we Vegans are finally speaking out. We ourselves are devout believers in the virtue of fresh fruits and vegetables, but we see no reason to consider them superior to other foods.
We are ashamed that less enlightened Vegans have made disparaging remarks about deep fried chicken, corn-fed beef and creamy chocolate pies. We have family members who secretly eat those “forbidden” foods. They have been made to feel guilty when they stop for a fish taco or a Big Mac.
Now is the time to end all discrimination. One food should not be considered “better” than another.
To combat long-standing prejudice, Vegans for Food Equality will open a new Vegan restaurant in Seattle. Side by side with traditional vegan favorites, we will offer Denver omelets, chili dogs and real milk shakes.
Finally we appeal to our fellow Vegans to vote for a new law which will expand the meaning of “vegetable.” From now on vegetable will include anything you place in your mouth and swallow. This new law will not prevent old-fashioned Vegans from referring to carrots and broccoli as “vegetables.” It will simply expand the definition of vegetable to include sirloin steaks and cheddar cheese.

In case you missed the point (and it ain't subtle for us Catholics), what the homosex activist movement proposes to do to marriage is analogous to what  "Vegans for Food Equality" plan to do to vegetables.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A pithy quote

Salute to the Creative Minority Report Reader.  From USA Today:

In essence, the Obama administration's message to these Catholics, despite a cosmetic compromise, is akin to telling Austin's bohemians that they can dress like hipsters on the weekends so long as they behave like corporate shills Monday through Friday. 

I think this is one of the best encapsulations of what's being done to us with the HHS Mandate. Only, we're not being asked to sell out our beliefs, man, but to betray our God and Creator

Monday, May 28, 2012

In memoriam

Pray for the souls of all our fallen service members, and for all who are in the line of fire. Remember, greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Something to Share

I've just discovered Lindsey Stirling. I really love her videos. Here's an example:

In case you're wondering why, first, I'd have to say that her face is utterly radiant with joy and enthusiasm for what she's doing.

Second, I've been of the opinion for some time that innovative art very often consists of taking elements of two or three disparate styles in a given medium, or else elements of disparate media, and combining them. Lindsey Sterling combines violin with hip-hop dance. I know from experience that it is tough enough to play trumpet while walking, let alone stomping. Keeping the bow on the strings of a violin while bouncing around as she does is a challenge in and of itself. To simultaneously play well and dance well is a remarkable feat.

Third is her authenticity, which this video makes clear she values. She clearly loves her music and choreography. But in addition, she avoids several inauthentic and self-exploitative variations of femininity, such as this one or its byproducts. She is feminine and beautiful without any attempt to be a trollop like Lady Gaga or Kei$ha or the Pussycat Dolls or.... you get the idea. Her sexuality is not something she flaunts, and I say kudos. She reflects God's beauty in a way that seeking to be hot cannot.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Doing It Wrong

Salute to Thomas L. McDonald, over at God and the Machine. He said this in discussion of a proposed MTV "reality show" following various peoples' attempts to have their first sexual encounter:
If sex is everywhere, it’s mystique vanishes, and we forget its real purpose: to bond a married man and woman, and to produce the next generation. It’s not a spectator sport. It’s not even a particularly interesting subject of conversation. If you find yourself reading and talking about and watching sex, then you’re doing it wrong. (emphasis added)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Whatever could be wrong with porn?

Tatsuya Ishida, creator of Sinfest, is growing up. Contrast one of his most recent:

with some early work which involves recognition for sluts, tramps, and hos. I'm proud of him for facing up to the truth about pornography, and hope he continues to progress. Incidentally, this one starts my favorite series in the strip, a theme revisited here and here, oh, and here. Whoops -- here too.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Written in 1968:
It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.
Published in 2010:
The notion that Playboy turns women into sex objects is ridiculous. Women are sex objects. If women weren't sex objects, there wouldn't be another generation. It's the attraction between the sexes that makes the world go 'round. That's why women wear lipstick and short skirts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Assembly Not Required

Salute to Mark Shea.

Behold the People's Rights Amendment:
Section 1.  We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.

Section 2.  People, person, or persons as used in this Constitution does not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected state and federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.

Section 3.  Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people's rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, and such other rights of the people, which rights are inalienable.
Did any of you notice what was missing from Section 3?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievancesSource
Most forms of "peaceable assembly" are corporations.  What this amendment allows the government to do is to presume that once you're standing with others in any sort of legally organized body or structure (other than government, itself), you do not have the rights of people.  Here's the article.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

To Aid Pornchai Maximillian Moontri

If you do not read These Stone Walls, you should. Fr. Gordon Macrae is a very compelling writer.

This week, Fr. Gordon has a guest poster -- his cellmate, Pornchai Maximillian Moontri, a recent convert to Holy Mother Church. He may be released shortly from prison. When this happens, he will be immediately deported to Thailand, the land of his birth. He knows nobody there. Those who have said before that they would help him when he arrives there have not communicated recently.

I ask any of my readers who have any contact within Thailand to make use of them. See if you can find any help for Pornchai where he has to go. If you do, contact Fr. Gordon. Even if you can't, please spread this message. Somebody somewhere knows somebody who can extend to Pornchai the Christian charity he needs.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Paying to Starve the Poor, part II

I've used this post title before, and I urge you to go read it. Salute to Mark Shea (see his commentary), who brought the following to my attention:

Ethanol Policy Not Producing Desired Results

Some takeaways: Ethanol policy benefit? $24/yr for a family using about 1100 gallons (4164 liters) a year, about 2.2 cents per gallon. Expenses?
[T]he United Nations’ FAO Food Price Index which shows that between Jan. 2007 and Sept. 2011, after adjusting for inflation, corn prices increased by 68 percent, cereals by 69 percent and dairy products by 46 percent.

One study (Hayes et al, 2009) the researchers cite quantifies how a $1 per bushel increase in corn prices impacts a wide variety of food products. The study shows, for example, that between 2005 and 2011 corn prices rose by $5 per bushel, beef rose 18.5 percent, pork 16 percent, poultry 17.5 percent, eggs 27.5 percent, milk 10.5 percent, cheese 9 percent, sugar and sweets 3.5 percent.

The researchers claim that not all these price increases are due to U.S. ethanol policies. However, even “if only one-fourth of this additional expenditure is attributable to ethanol, this would imply a loss to American consumers of $40 billion over the last 4 years.”
In case you're wondering, "cereals" means all grain crops, which make up the primary source of protein for most of the world's poor, who in many cases spend 50% of income (or more) on food. When food prices rise 69%, that means they must now spend 84.5% of income on food to maintain the same food intake. This is usually not a tenable position for them; perforce, they starve.

Is the 0.08% reduction in world greenhouse gas emissions worth it?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

What Works In Computing

Salute to Jeff Hooglund, project lead for Bodhi Linux (and some other software).

So what doesn't linux do?

The desktop -- at least, not in the G7/ G20. Not that it can't do desktop, just that it's annoying to get some things to work, or there's no support for linux systems (Netflix, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, some games, read Microsoft Office files cleanly). Sometimes, people deliberately make stuff so it can't be made to work with linux (anything having to do with digital rights management). It is really good for surfing, email, word processing, photo management, and instant messaging, not to mention music production, Myth TV, reviving old machines, resisting malware, and almost anything else that the development community finds interesting.

You can try linux without installing it. Just don't expect it to be like windows. A Tesla Electric Roadster is going to be very different from a Lotus Elise, in spite of the similarity in appearance and function. Live CDs/DVDs are a long-standing way to try and often install linux. If your computer can boot from a thumb drive, you can copy a live cd/dvd ISO file to it (see the Pendrive Linux site). There are tons of distros that can be tried in this manner. Search for them on or and you'll find relevant links quickly.

Some distros are better suited to desktop use than others. Regardless, you will want to make sure important data is backed up and your hard disk is defragmented before you start. Search the web and read the forums when you have problems. For those coming from Windows with no knowledge of Linux, I'd recommend the following:

Geek Level 0:

Linux Mint (if you're a long-term Windows user, particularly the KDE edition)
Ubuntu (if you don't consider yourself much of a windows user, and/or the TaskBar and Start Menu don't make sense to you)
Lubuntu (if you don't like the Unity Interface; there will be changes to it come April 26 2012)
PCLinuxOS (the first distro I ever installed)
openSUSE (the oldest commercial distro)
Puppy (especially if you're using old hardware)
SimplyMEPIS 11 (some complain about installer design, but it's fast and stable once installed)

Geek Level I: Video drivers and/or wireless and/or printing may require research.

Scientific Linux (if you prize stability -- it's a clone of Red Hat from CERN)
SalixOS (again for stability -- it's the lazy man's Slackware)
Linux Mint Debian Edition
Archbang (speed, cutting edge)
Crunchbang (speed, stability)
Fedora (bleeding edge)
Sabayon (bleeding edge)
PC-BSD (not linux, but Unix.)

Geek Level II: Configuration will require knowlege and research.

Debian Linux (stability again)
Slackware (stability again)
Arch Linux (speed, bleeding edge, super-customizable -- regarded as the hot rod of linux)
Semplice (speed, bleeding edge -- this is a Debian Sid distro)
Siduction, Aptosid (bleeding edge -- these are 2 other Debian Sid distros)

Geek Level III: You're happy to compile everything from source.

Gentoo Linux
Linux From Scratch (this is a book of instructions, not a software compilation)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Toward More Open Government

I have just added to the "Other Links" section of the sidebar The Sunlight Foundation, which I found on Linux Today. They act to make government more transparent and accountable. Thus far I've only skimmed their site, but what I've seen I like. I recommend adding them to your bookmarks. I'd prefer to have a government I didn't have to fear, but since I don't, I'll take the tools I can get to make it a servant of the people, rather than our overlord.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lazy Press Is Lazy

How many times have you heard pro-life people denounced in the news with a declaration along the lines of "You people only care about the fetuses; once a baby's born, you kick them and the mothers to the curb!" As Simcha Fisher ably demonstrates, this is absolutely a canard, a slander, and a lie. And then she links to a further demonstration of the accusation's falsehood.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Blogrollin' on Birth Control

salute to Tito Edwards.

Turns out that it's reasonable to expect that 59% of girls who start on birth control when they're 15 to have at least one unintended pregnancy by the time they're 25. Here's the math.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

On infanticide (blogrollin')

There is apparently a pair of bioethicists who claim it is moral to perform post-birth abortions, which are somehow not the same thing as infanticide, in spite of both being the act of intentionally slaying an infant member of the species Homo Sapiens. I have no intention of linking to the article. Rather, I link to William Briggs' most excellent fisking, in which he points out the myriad of fallacies, false premises, non sequiturs, and most important, their failure to point out with anything approaching precision when infanticide becomes moral.

Salute to John C. Wright, comments further.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Justice and Prison

I have thought for some time that our prison system was unjust. It turns out that it's also unneccessary. An article in the New Yorker addresses both the injustice of our prisons, and what reduces crime.

One problem is that our justice system is misnamed. It is a criminal prosecution system. Its interest is not in justice and common law, but in statues, regulations, and procedural correctness. Prosecutors do their best to ensure that exculpatory evidence is never introduced, and work assiduously to avoid jury trials (to save time and money), and juries are never told to consider justice in convicting and giving sentencing recommendations. Is this a prudent way for a just society to order their priorities? Are time and money more important than justice?

A more just punishment would involve restitution, not incarceration. Stealing should involve not just paying back what you stole, but being forbidden the opportunities you used to steal. Embezzlers should not be allowed to go back into positions where they have authority over money.

Crime is prevented by simple things like reducing opportunities to commit them. Dr. Ruwart pointed out almost 20 years ago that if you reward police for reducing crime, instead of convicting criminals, they will act to do so -- and save us money in the process.

Another simple way to reduce crime is not punishing people for owning or using a little weed. (No, I don't use or approve of weed. I'd rather have a drink myself, even though I can readily recognize that ethanol causes a lot more adverse medical outcomes, that can easily be a lot more serious.) Relegalizing opioids and cocaine can come later.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

So-Called "PIPA"

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic, 2012-02-02

The inoffensive guy in the glasses more or less represents Rep. Lamar Smith. The things he's talking about in the third and fifth panels are provisions of HR 1981, the so-called "Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act", aptly nicknamed the "Keep Every Americans' Digital Data for Submission to the Federal Government Without a Warrant Act." (You can sign a petition opposing HR 1981 here.) More information from TechDirt here and here.

Studios and Samizdat

Just read a couple of great articles on copyright infringment over at You Will Never Kill Piracy, and Piracy Will Never Kill You and Lies, Damned Lies, and Piracy.

They both mostly cover the same ground: one of the biggest reasons that people use samizdat rather than buy content is because it is easier. The MPAA could build something like Steam or iTunes, and blow giant holes in the number of samizdat downloads. Another is that movies are grossly (and grotesquely) overpriced, both in production and for the end-user. And studios and labels are increasingly profitable, even as samizdat increases.

On so-called Piracy

Words mean things. Piracy means ship-to-ship armed robbery and hijacking on the high seas, even today; witness Somalian pirates. There is piracy in the Carribean sea as well. The act involves threats to people's lives and property.

Samizdat (from "same as that") was a practice used to escape censorship in the Soviet union -- to type out a verbatim copy of a banned book, generally on a manual typewriter. It is a much better word than piracy to describe modern methods of copyright infringment, which threaten only royalties, not anyone's lives or actual property. You can expect me to use it instead. I encourage you to do the same, even though those in the networks will not, because they are beholden to the labels and studios.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What SOPA and PIPA are meant to do

I just saw a headline that has put SOPA and PIPA into perspective: BTJunkie voluntarily closes file-sharing website (more from ZDNet, Loopy Gadgets, and the Guardian).

The goal of SOPA/PIPA is not to stop piracy.

It is nothing less than to put an end to user-generated content on the Web.

That's the real goal of MPAA and RIAA in all their censorship moves and DRM strategies -- to ensure they have a monopoly on distribution of entertainment media worldwide.

They want to eliminate every form of competition. They want to ensure that all independent entertainers are crushed, so that everyone who wants any sort of entertainment will have to come to them, cash in hand. They want to ensure that every musician will have to come to them, cap in hand, to sign away all of their rights and money, in order to make the move from street corner busker/ garage band/ small local club band to the big time. They want to ensure that nobody ever successfully distributes a film without the studios getting their piece of the action.

And this plays into the hands of a censorious government. Never forget that big government and big business are in bed together and feed each other. Big business wants an unfair advantage. Big government wants to control personal expression. An oppressive government cannot afford free expression; it's far too likely to express, in a way that people can easily see and share, that the government is oppressive and corrupt.

BTJunkie's self-takedown is not ONLY stifling piracy, is not ONLY stifling Linux ISO distribution (most Linux ISOs are distributed over bittorrent to save costs) ... I have no doubt that it is also stifling the efforts of many independent artists, without labels or studio contracts, to get some market share and mind share.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Telling the Truth

John C. Wright posts about Christopher Stasheff, the only SF author who had the guts to put the truth about chastity into the mouth of one of his characters. Go and read it, as it is an EXCELLENT explanation of the spiritual dangers of fornication.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sign Frank's Petition!

Frank Weathers, of YIMCatholic at Patheos, has created a petition to ask that the vile HHS mandate to require Catholic institutions to directly fund gravely evil acts in contradiction of religious liberty. Go and sign. Yes, you have to create an account. Be not afraid!!

Petition page here

Incidentally, Frank has yet another one of those Catholic blogs far superior to mine.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dolan's Jan 25 op-ed

I searched around the internets, and found Abp. Dolan's Jan 25 WSJ op-ed, without hacking my way through the Wall Street Journal's paywall. Go and read it.

One thing he points out, which far too many people neglect or allow themselves to disregard, is this:
The rule forces insurance companies to provide these services without a co-pay, suggesting they are “free”—but it is naïve to believe that. There is no free lunch, and you can be sure there’s no free abortion, sterilization or contraception. There will be a source of funding: you.
There is no free lunch, anywhere. Somebody always pays for whatever you may be given. In far too many cases, it is you, in ways you will not be able to see.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Problem with Patents

patents infographic


the obvious problem is that the Patent Office refuses to chuck even the most absurd applications, such as throwing a stick to play fetch with your dog, or the combover mentioned above.

Friday, January 20, 2012


are the acronyms for the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act, bills currently being rushed through Congress as quickly as possible. As written, both will enable censorship of vast swaths of the Internet (like, any site that includes user-provided and/or generated content). Here's the rundown on why SOPA and PIPA are very bad ideas. That they are largely unconstitutional is a pretty good first reason.

Call and/or email your assorted congresscritters. Don't bother write at this point; envelopes are subjected to huge delays to protect Congressional staff personnel from biological and chemical weapons. I doubt even a postcard could get through in time. You can find your representative at and your senators at A brief search and a couple of links will get you to a page with their office number (dial direct instead of trying to go through the switchboard) and email address.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Catholics and Libertarianism

Some people think that between these never the twain shall meet. Ryan McMacken begs to differ with Six Myths Catholics Tell About Libertarians. Go and read it, so you know what the false differences are.

Are there real differences? Surely so. The Church believes it is appropriate for the State to restrain immorality such as pornography, contraception, and fornication by law. Libertarians do not. But I think a more laissez-faire state is better for the Church than any other. Certainly we would not have Belmont Abbey going to court for the right to enroll their employees in a health insurance plan which does not fund grave sins like contraception and abortion, or Christian counseling students told that they must never allow their belief that homosexual acts are gravely sinful and that same-sex attraction is gravely disordered to affect how they perform their jobs.

A more laissez-faire state would also provide a better means of obtaining Distributist ends. Distributism favors smaller enterprises, and more widely dispersed ownership of the means of production. Big corporations typically must rely on powerful governments that can override the property rights of individuals. Nearly anyone who wants a large parcel of land in any sort of urban area must get the local government to declare current property "blighted" (thus taking its value away from current owners) or use eminent domain (directly taking property from current owners) or some other trick to do so in a time and cost efficient manner. Without the county or the city or the state or whoever to force current owners to give up their property, they would only rarely be able to get really big.

But what do you think?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Salute to Fr. Z, who posted this on the 28th.

So, in association with a story about how the bishops don't want to place orphaned children with unmarried couples, the NYT posted an online poll, asking if the government is trampling on religious rights, and MSNBC posted it here. I said that they were.