Saturday, June 30, 2007

Internet Radio

You may have noticed last Teusday that lots of internet radio stations decided not to broadcast. This is in protest of the FCC's decision to vastly increase the royalties that internet broadcasters must pay.

I can't help but think (as I did the minute I first heard about this) that the royalty increase was done as a favor for XM and Sirius Satellite Radio, and perhaps ClearChannel and the EIB network. Wireless broadband technology is getting more sophisticated and compact all the time, so devices similar to the iPhone are going to be able to bring portable music on demand to people. At that point, demand for satellite radio will drop precipitously, particularly since most people would rather be their own program directors. Also, it would make all the webcasters available on personal-sized devices, thus putting XM and Sirius in direct competition with them. That too would be bad for satellite radio.

Given that the legislative solution that webcasters are proposing is to make their royalty rates the same as those for satellite radio, this particular notion of mine has been greatly reinforced.

This just brings to the fore one of my regular libertarian contentions: big government is the friend of big business and the enemy of small business, and regulators are typically in the pockets of big businesses, and regulations are most often designed to impede small businesses. Consumers lose out, since the government prevents them from having choices that others wanted to give them.

Basically, Big Business gives Big Money to Big Government, with the result being that the guns used to enforce these malum prohibitum regulations are pointed at their smaller, more agile competitors. The government becomes Big Business's goon, shutting down competition with violence, just like gangsters used to during Prohibition. We do so much better when the government just lets those businesses that are dealing honestly be.


I have nowhere near as much depth in my observations on Marvel's worst movie ever, Man-Thing, as the B-Movie Catechist, but there's still something I have to say that he didn't ... especially since it was just on SciFi.

The Man-Thing of the movie is a perfect realization of the god of Environmentalism: inhuman, equally eager to see all humans dead, be they allies or enemies, and struggling, even when the offenses against it are repented, to continue murdering.

Ghost Rider

I saw Mighty Marvel's most recent DVD, Ghost Rider, last night. I had tremendous fun watching it, even though I have never been a great fan of the Ghost Rider comics. It stars Nicholas Cage, Peter Fonda, and Sam Elliot, all of whom I consider to be top performers. It is a ripping good yarn, IMO.

Naturally, being Hollywood entertainment, it is rife with bad theology and bad choices. Superhero entertainment is particularly susceptible to this, with all of its Nietzchean overtones. But for a story to be enjoyable, it has to have some truth in it, so there are also good bits you can take away from it.

Like a lot of people, Johnny Blaze's first encounter with the supernatural was with the demonic, in the character of Mephistopheles, the personification of Satan's deceptive ways. The first lesson is, when you do not promptly send evil away, you can get shafted before you know it, and the good things that are offered are really only a cheat.

From his father's death until Mephistopheles activates him as the Ghost Rider, Johnny searches for an escape from his contract and asks if it's possible that he can have a second chance. This is the same mistake that Faust made in Marlowe's play; he remains blind to God's ability to save him , no matter how far he falls. (The notion that one must deliberately sell one's soul to the Devil for him to have any claim on it is likewise deception; rejecting God will do it.)

Blaze seeks to use the power Mephistopheles has imparted to him to do good. This is at best suspect. On the one hand, God can do whatever He wants, including turn around the most horrible of situations. On the other, there really isn't any way you can hope for a good end by doing evil. This is why good ends cannot justify evil means. In the real world, magic comes from the devil, and its use will not lead to good. (See this story and this one for examples of what I mean.) The Devil isn't about to hand out the power to punish evil, as the character Mephistopheles does. On our own, we do not have the power to resist the Devil; such power comes to us only from the grace of God.

The Caretaker tells Blaze that, because his motivation for dealing with the Devil was love, God was with him. This is truth; God loves everyone who seeks to do good and all good works, no matter who does them or why.

In the end, Mephistopheles offers to remove the curse he placed on Johnny Blaze and restore his soul. This time, Blaze refuses him. This was the right decision. First, whatever the Devil offers is a cheat and a lie. Second, since his power gives retribution to evil, it is good. Third, he recognizes and accepts the redemptive power of suffering.

Franz Jägerstätter, martyr, Beatus

I'd finished with Catholic Caveman, and wandered over to Catholic Anarchy. Yeah, the two are very different. I fully agree with the Caveman on the need for more manliness, particularly in the Church. And I agree with Michael Iafrate over at Catholic Anarchy, that we ought not have invaded Iraq. I expect that he and I are fellow=travelers regarding the War on Terror as well. But this here is my blog, and I'd like to write about Franz Jägerstätter, who came to my attention via Catholic Anarchy.

Jägerstätter was one of many Catholics martyred by the Third Reich. St. Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stien) was martyred for being a Jewish convert to Catholicism in a city where the Catholic Church decried the Nazi deportation of Jews from every pulpit. St. Maximillian Kolbe was arrested and sent to Auschwitz for sheltering some 2,000 Jews in his Franciscan friary and speaking out against the Nazis via amateur radio. He was killed because he thought it better that he should die than Franciszek Gajowniczek, who had a family. But Jägerstätter was killed for one reason only: he refused to carry a rifle for Hitler. And he refused because he recognized, as Pope Pius XII made clear in Summi Pontificatus, that Naziism was clearly incompatible with authentic Christianity. He offered to carry medical supplies and serve as a medic in the Wehrmacht, but that wasn't enough, and he was executed for it. Refusing to aid in evil, regardless of the cost, is heroism worthy of our respect, and emulation if possible and/or necessary.

Most of what I've seen praising Jägerstätter comes from voices that seem to abhor war unreservedly and praise pacifism in every case. (edit: thanks to The Western Confucian, I have found this exception.) Nothing I've seen suggests that he would have been such a voice. He saw that the Nazi Party, in both ideology and action, was completely unChristian, and he refused to take even the most limited part in their evil. But I saw no sign that he would have had similar objections to bearing arms in just defense of his nation. In my opinion, the war against the Axis was a just war, though at times conducted unjustly. Of course, the Axis made it so much more difficult by how they conducted themselves. The point I'm trying to make is that first, it is necessary to fight evil in every case. But even in fighting great evil -- and the evil of the Axis was very great -- one must not succumb to the temptation to fight evil by doing evil.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pastor Johannes Lerle

Pastor Johannes Lerle is a Lutheran minister in Erlangen, Bavaria. For the third time, he has been sentenced to jail, this time at a bench trial, for the crime of Volksverhetzung, or incitement of the people. His sentence shall be one year in jail.

What did he do? He said that murdering unborn children (i.e., abortion), is no better than gassing Jews at Auschwitz. I consider this an obvious parallel. Unborn people are people, just as Jews are people. But Judge Erda Erdenhofner has construed it as denying the Holocaust!

I beg to differ. A law saying that an unborn person is not a person is every bit as bad as one saying a Jew is not a person. In order to accept abortion, one must depersonalize the unborn, just as accepting the Final Solution required depersonalizing the Jews, Slavs, homosexuals, handicapped, and Catholics who were its victims. It's not like we're talking about cattle or chickens, here; we're talking about people. (Although it's possible, albeit revolting, that he would have been commended for comparing a meat-packing plant to Auschwitz. Pamela Anderson would be proud of anyone who did that.)

You could suggest to Amnesty International that they add Pastor Lerle to their list of prisoners of conscience, but I wouldn't hold my breath. They have capitulated to the strident and bellicose purveyors and promoters of abortion on demand, and are unlikely to have the courage to defend somebody imprisoned for describing abortion as what it actually is, when they no longer have the courage to do so themselves.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


I've decided that heroism is a fitting theme for a manly blog. Our culture denigrates manliness, and winds up losing heroism by extension. So it is my intention, whenever I find a fitting example of heroic manliness, to post about it here.

For example, consider The Servants of God, also known as the Georgia Martyrs. These five men had no discernable fear of death. They preached the Gospel, and by extension, monogamy, to a culture that was completely polygamous. When the chief's heir married a second woman, they told him they could not support his political aspirations unless he ceased his bigamy. He got some friends together, and they killed all five of the Servants of God.

The Servants of God are vital heroes for today; we needneed men who will stand up and die, if need be, to preserve the sanctity of marriage. Never has it been so sorely pressed. Traditional marriage is a public good as I define it.

O Lord Jesus Christ, reward the apostolic zeal of Fray Pedro de Corpa and his four Companion friars, Blas, Miguel, Antonio, and Francisco, who labored for the spiritual well-being of the Natives of Georgia and gave their lives in witness to the Christian faith. Through their merits and intercession graciously grant the favor I humbly ask of You, that our society recognize the importance of marriage and come to protect it fervently, so that, for the glory of Your Name, their heroic sacrifice may be officially recognized by the Church. Amen.

p.s. I found the Servants of God in a comment box over at Ask Sister Mary Martha's Blog, which I intend to peruse fully, including all other comboxes.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Those who have read my site can easily guess that I love pen and paper, people and polyhedron RPGs far more than computer RPGs. Given the choice, I'll take P&P over CRPG, whether online or off, massively multiplayer or solo. But I don't have the choice, and I feel like ruminating and offering advice on what I am able to do -- for the complete beginner, of course.

A good Player vs. Enemy (or Electronics or Mob or Monster) group will have a balanced selection of classes, each of which will fill specific roles. These are called by different names in different games, and I generally like the Archetypes in City of Heroes best, even though my MMORPGs are Dark Age of Camelot, World of Warcraft, and Ultima Online.

Tank: This indicates a class with heavy armor, lots of hit points, and the ability to generate threat (also known as drawing aggro). In DAoC (Hibernia forever!), the premier tanks are the Hibernian Hero and Champion, the Albion Armsman and Paladin, and the Midgardian Warrior. In WoW, it's the Warrior. It's my favorite in WoW. His role is to stand in front and take the beatings ... and to pull enemies away from blasters and healers.

Blaster: (aka Nuker): This is a class with light or no armor, and phenomenal damage, usually at range. In WoW, this is generally a mage, a warlock, or a shadow-spec priest; in DAoC, it's any sort of spellcaster, as well as any bow-primary class.

Controller: The problem with a large player group or party is that enemies are programmed to respond to attacks in groups. The controller prevents some of the responding enemies from attacking. Controls vary: stuns prevent all action, generally for a brief time; roots prevent enemy movement, often until taking damage; snares slow movement, and mezmerizes prevent all action until damage is taken. In DAoC, controllers are usually also the healers, and do the buff spells. In WoW, mages have a mez, a chill, and a freeze, warriors and hunters have a snare, and that's about it.

Scrapper: The scrapper is a frontline fighter, who does more damage but has less armor than the tank. If he is not pressed into service as the tank, his ideal role is finishing off other peoples' foes, or stripping attackers from blasters, controllers, and healers. In DAoC, the scrappers are the Hibernian Blademaster, the Albion Friar and Mercenary, and the Midgardian Berzerker. In WoW, there isn't quite a scrapper class; rather, it's a spec for warriors, hunters, paladins, and druids.

Stalkers: These use stealth, poisons, and two weapons. They act alone and do not fit neatly into a group role, except perhaps the scrapper's role, though they do more damage and are not so well defended. In DAoC, the stalkers are the Hibernian Nightshade, the Albion Assassin, and the Midgardian Shadowblade. In World of Warcraft, it's the Rogue.

Hybrids: Hybrids serve in two or more archetypical roles. Pet classes are almost inherently hybridized; any pet can serve as a tank. World of Warcraft's hybrids are the Hunter (elements of the blaster, the scrapper, and (through the pet) the tank); the warlock (mostly a blaster; his summoned creature orients towards either blaster, tank, or scrapper); the paladin (healer/tank); the druid (tank OR healer/blaster); and the shaman (elements of healer, blaster, and scrapper). In DAoC, hybrids are everywhere. Hibernia's hybrids are the druid (pet healer); warden (fighter /healer /buffer); ranger (blaster/stalker or else blaster/light scrapper); enchanter (pet / blaster). Albion's hybrids are the friar (healer/ scrapper), the elementalist (pet/ blaster), paladin (tank/healer -- a synergy that makes him the greatest tank in the game), the minstrel (buffer/ controller /stalker), and probably some more I don't remember. Midgard ... has a hunter, a pet/blaster hybrid, the thane (tank / blaster), and surely more, but again, I don't remember.

In World of Warcraft, my favorite is the protection warrior. This is not a popular build, but I enjoy the sheer heroic manliness of the role that the protection warrior fills. He protects everyone else as best he can, by sacrificing his own hit points and armor. Yes, he has to count on a healer to keep him alive in longer fights. But the fact is, his job is, if at all possible, to be the first to die.

As Lazarus Long accurately opined, unless "women and children first" is the sentiment at the basis of a civilization, it is suicidal. This leaves adult men to die so that others can live. That becomes the essence of manliness, which is why I find the protection warrior to be so appealing.