Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

It turns out OWS has a real list of real demands. Naturally, domestic press either hasn't a clue or refuses to cover it, but (according to Naomi Wolf in the Guardian whose article you should read) the top three demands are (I quote):
  1. [G]et the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process.
  2. [R]eform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.
  3. [D]raft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.
These are none of them entirely bad ideas. I can deal with some sort of blunting of the Citizens United ruling, even though I think the good guys won. It certainly allows the richest people or groups to give the greatest exposure to their message, but without it, many worthwhile messages were completely stifled. I would far rather we had real freedom to campaign on whatever message we wanted, as long as we were telling the truth, but for as long as honesty is entirely optional and slander and libel are completely acceptable in campaign speech, we have to have something.

Repealing the Glass-Steagall Act was a buyout of Republicans by Citigroup; John Dingell (D-MI) said that it would result in banks "too big to fail" that would have to be bailed out. But then the anti-redlining regulations were added, to help Clinton in his dream of subsidizing the housing of people who were unlikely to pay for their own homes with the Community Reinvesting Act, by transferring all the risk from the banks to the federal government. That has ALSO helped to set us on our current train-wreck financial crisis. I would like to see a return of at least the conflict-of-interest regulation that the Glass-Steagall Act act imposed.

That third item? It has my FULL SUPPORT. What they are talking about there is plain, simple, pure plunder by law, also known as corruption.

Ms. Wolf also makes a pretty good case that the crackdowns were coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security (which department is a reason to spit upon the memory of the 2d Bush presidency if ever there was one). And as she has said, it's no wonder these people are having the $#!t kicked out of them at the behest of the federal government.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Thinking Behind SOPA

This deserves wider attention:

Some things not addressed by the video:
ANYONE may accuse a site or host of providing pirated content. When this happens, the host has five days to rectify the situation, or their whole site goes down. And there is no due process to determine if the content is legal or infringing IP laws. What's more, there's no penalty for making a false accusation.

Do you see why this is so huge a stick with which to capriciously beat people completely off of the internet that even Microsoft opposes it in its current form? Currently, it might be enforced by removing entries from domain name servers. But when that fails to completely stop piracy, enforcement will require the active blocking of IP addresses. And when that fails to completely stop piracy, it will require deep packet scanning and a complete criminalizing of all encryption not handled by the NSA.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fundamentalism Explained

In Fundamentalism and the Abandonment of Reason, Dr. Jeff Mirus explains that contemporary definitions of fundamentalism are far too self-referential to those who denigrate it. He does better, saying fundamentalism involves starting with the idea that a sacred text is clear and simple for anyone to understand, and propping that idea up by taking a few concepts from that text (either the Bible or the Qu'ran), and interpreting everything only through those ideas. In other words, it's properly a form of heresy, which is picking and choosing which doctrines and dogmas you're going to subscribe to, while ignoring the rest, and everything not visible through the distorted lenses of those "simple, clear" doctrines and dogmas is ignored.

He aptly points out that there's a secular equivalent: ideology, which presumes that all of Creation is simple and clear when you interpret it through a few fixed ideas, while ignoring everything not visible through the lens of those ideas. Of course, ideology and fundamentalism feed upon and reinforce each other. The escape is a fuller and more catholic worldview. Tolle, legge.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Straight talk about tough times

The world's population is booming! Like Thomas Malthus promised, we're all doomed!

But wait. Population is booming because people are living longer, not because people are being born. In fact, in many places, there are not enough young people to care for the growing population of the elderly.

Wait, you don't think contraception has anything to do with this, do you?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blogrollin' again

I first found this article (source) echoed on John C. Wright's livejournal. Like him, I don't see how I can do any better than to repeat it in its entirety.
What is Poverty?
Theodore Dalrymple

What do we mean by poverty? Not what Dickens or Blake or Mayhew meant. Today, no one seriously expects to go hungry in England or to live without running water or medical care or even TV. Poverty has been redefined in industrial countries, so that anyone at the lower end of the income distribution is poor ex officio, as it were—poor by virtue of having less than the rich. And of course by this logic, the only way of eliminating poverty is by an egalitarian redistribution of wealth—even if the society as a whole were to become poorer as a result.

Such redistribution was the goal of the welfare state. But it has not eliminated poverty, despite the vast sums expended, and despite the fact that the poor are now substantially richer—indeed are not, by traditional standards, poor at all. As long as the rich exist, so must the poor, as we now define them.

Certainly they are in squalor—a far more accurate description of their condition than poverty—despite a threefold increase in per-capita income, including that of the poor, since the end of the last war. Why they should be in this condition requires an explanation—and to call that condition poverty, using a word more appropriate to Mayhew's London than to today's reality, prevents us from grasping how fundamentally the lot of "the poor" has changed since then. The poor we shall always have with us, no doubt: but today they are not poor in the traditional way.

The English poor live shorter and less healthy lives than their more prosperous compatriots. Even if you didn't know the statistics, their comparative ill health would be obvious on the most casual observation of rich and slum areas, just as Victorian observers noted that the poor were on average a head shorter than the rich, due to generations of inferior nourishment and hard living conditions. But the reasons for today's difference in health are not economic. It is by no means the case that the poor can't afford medicine or a nourishing diet; nor do they live in overcrowded houses lacking proper sanitation, as in Mayhew's time, or work 14 backbreaking hours a day in the foul air of mines or mills. Epidemiologists estimate that the higher rate of cigarette consumption among the poor accounts for half the difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest classes in England—and to smoke that much takes money.

Notoriously, too, the infant mortality rate is twice as high in the lowest social class as in the highest. But the infant mortality rate of illegitimate births is twice that of legitimate ones, and the illegitimacy rate rises steeply as you descend the social scale: so the decline of marriage almost to the vanishing point in the lowest social class might well be responsible for most of its excess infant mortality. It is a way of life, not poverty per se, that kills. The commonest cause of death between the ages of 15 and 44 is now suicide, which has increased most precipitously precisely among those who live in the underclass world of temporary step-parenthood and of conduct unrestrained either by law or convention.

Just as it is easier to recognize ill health in someone you haven't seen for some time rather than in someone you meet daily, so a visitor coming into a society from elsewhere often can see its character more clearly than those who live in it. Every few months, doctors from countries like the Philippines and India arrive fresh from the airport to work for a year's stint at my hospital. It is fascinating to observe their evolving response to British squalor.

At the start, they are uniformly enthusiastic about the care that we unsparingly and unhesitatingly give to everyone, regardless of economic status. They themselves come from cities—Manila, Bombay, Madras—where many of the cases we see in our hospital would simply be left to die, often without succor of any kind. And they are impressed that our care extends beyond the merely medical: that no one goes without food or clothing or shelter, or even entertainment. There seems to be a public agency to deal with every conceivable problem. For a couple of weeks, they think this all represents the acme of civilization, especially when they recall the horrors at home. Poverty—as they know it— has been abolished.

Before very long, though, they start to feel a vague unease. A Filipina doctor, for example, asked me why so few people seemed grateful for what was done for them. What prompted her question was an addict who, having collapsed from an accidental overdose of heroin, was brought to our hospital. He required intensive care to revive him, with doctors and nurses tending him all night. His first words to the doctor when he suddenly regained consciousness were, "Get me a fucking roll-up" (a hand-rolled cigarette). His imperious rudeness didn't arise from mere confusion: he continued to treat the staff as if they had kidnapped him and held him in the hospital against his will to perform experiments upon him. "Get me the fuck out of here!" There was no acknowledgment of what had been done for him, let alone gratitude for it. If he considered that he had received any benefit from his stay at all, well, it was simply his due.

My doctors from Bombay, Madras, or Manila observe this kind of conduct open- mouthed. At first they assume that the cases they see are a statistical quirk, a kind of sampling error, and that given time they will encounter a better, more representative cross section of the population. Gradually, however, it dawns upon them that what they have seen is representative. When every benefit received is a right, there is no place for good manners, let alone for gratitude.

Case after case causes them to revise their initial favorable opinion. Before long, they have had experience of hundreds, and their view has changed entirely. Last week, for example, to the amazement of a doctor recently arrived from Madras, a woman in her late twenties entered our hospital with the most common condition that brings patients to us: a deliberate overdose. At first she would say nothing more than that she wanted to depart this world, that she had had enough of it.

I inquired further. Just before she took the overdose, her ex-boyfriend, the father of her eight-month-old youngest child (now staying with her ex-boyfriend's mother), had broken into her apartment by smashing down the front door. He wrecked the apartment's contents, broke every window, stole $110 in cash, and ripped out her telephone.

"He's very violent, doctor." She told me that he had broken her thumb, her ribs, and her jaw during the four years she was with him, and her face had needed stitching many times. "Last year I had to have the police out to him."

"What happened?"

"I dropped the charges. His mother said he would change."

Another of her problems was that she was now five weeks pregnant and she didn't want the baby.

"I want to get rid of it, doctor."

"Who's the father?"

It was her violent ex-boyfriend, of course.

"Did he rape you, then?"


"So you agreed to have sex with him?"

"I was drunk; there was no love in it. This baby is like a bolt out of the blue: I don't know how it happened."

I asked her if she thought it was a good idea to have sex with a man who had repeatedly beaten her up, and from whom she said she wished to separate.

"It's complicated, doctor. That's the way life goes sometimes."

What had she known of this man before she took up with him? She met him in a club; he moved in at once, because he had nowhere else to stay. He had a child by another woman, neither of whom he supported. He had been in prison for burglary. He took drugs. He had never worked, except for cash on the side. Of course he never gave her any of his money, instead running up her telephone bills vertiginously.

She had never married, but had two other children. The first, a daughter aged eight, still lived with her. The father was a man whom she left because she found he was having sex with 12-year-old girls. Her second child was a son, whose father was "an idiot" with whom she had slept one night. That child, now six, lived with the "idiot," and she never saw him.

What had her experience taught her?

"I don't want to think about it. The Housing'll charge me for the damage, and I ain't got the money. I'm depressed, doctor; I'm not happy. I want to move away, to get away from him."

Later in the day, feeling a little lonely, she telephoned her ex-boyfriend, and he visited her.

I discussed the case with the doctor who had recently arrived from Madras, and who felt he had entered an insane world. Not in his wildest dreams had he imagined it could be like this. There was nothing to compare with it in Madras. He asked me what would happen next to the happy couple.

"They'll find her a new flat. They'll buy her new furniture, television, and refrigerator, because it's unacceptable poverty in this day and age to live without them. They'll charge her nothing for the damage to her old flat, because she can't pay anyway, and it wasn't she who did it. He will get away scot-free. Once she's installed in her new flat to escape from him, she'll invite him there, he'll smash it up again, and then they'll find her somewhere else to live. There is, in fact, nothing she can do that will deprive her of the state's obligation to house, feed, and entertain her."

I asked the doctor from Madras if poverty was the word he would use to describe this woman's situation. He said it was not: that her problem was that she accepted no limits to her own behavior, that she did not fear the possibility of hunger, the condemnation of her own parents or neighbors, or God. In other words, the squalor of England was not economic but spiritual, moral, and cultural.

I often take my doctors from the Third World on the short walk from the hospital to the prison nearby. It is a most instructive 800 yards. On a good day—good for didactic purposes, that is—there are seven or eight puddles of glass shattered into fragments lying in the gutter en route (there are never none, except during the most inclement weather, when even those most addicted to car theft control their impulses).

"Each of these little piles of smashed glass represents a car that has been broken into," I tell them. "There will be more tomorrow, weather permitting." The houses along the way are, as public housing goes, quite decent. The local authorities have at last accepted that herding people into giant, featureless, Le Corbusian concrete blocks was a mistake, and they have switched to the construction of individual houses. Only a few of their windows are boarded up. Certainly by comparison with housing for the poor in Bombay, Madras, or Manila they are spacious and luxurious indeed. Each has a little front yard of grass, surrounded by a hedge, and a much larger back yard; about half have satellite dishes. Unfortunately, the yards are almost as full of litter as municipal garbage dumps.

I tell my doctors that in nearly nine years of taking this walk four times a week, I have never seen a single instance of anyone attempting to clean his yard. But I have seen much litter dropped; on a good day, I can even watch someone standing at the bus stop dropping something on the ground no farther than two feet from the bin.

"Why don't they tidy up their gardens?" asks a doctor from Bombay.

A good question: after all, most of the houses contain at least one person with time on his or her hands. Whenever I have been able to ask the question, however, the answer has always been the same: I've told the council [the local government] about it, but they haven't come. As tenants, they feel it is the landlord's responsibility to keep their yards clean, and they are not prepared to do the council's work for it, even if it means wading through garbage—as it quite literally does. On the one hand, authority cannot tell them what to do; on the other, it has an infinitude of responsibilities towards them.

I ask my Third World doctors to examine the litter closely. It gives them the impression that no Briton is able to walk farther than ten yards or so without consuming junk food. Every bush, every lawn, even every tree, is festooned with chocolate wrappers or fast- food packaging. Empty cans of beer and soft drinks lie in the gutter, on the flower beds, or on top of the hedges. Again, on a good day we actually see someone toss aside the can whose contents he has just consumed, as a Russian vodka drinker throws down his glass.

Apart from the antisocial disregard of the common good that each little such act of littering implies (hundreds a week in the space of 800 yards alone), the vast quantity of food consumed in the street has deeper implications. I tell the doctors that in all my visits to the white households in the area, of which I've made hundreds, never—not once—have I seen any evidence of cooking. The nearest to this activity that I have witnessed is the reheating of prepared and packaged food, usually in a microwave. And by the same token, I have never seen any evidence of meals taken in common as a social activity—unless two people eating hamburgers together in the street as they walk along be counted as social.

This is not to say that I haven't seen people eating at home; on the contrary, they are often eating when I arrive. They eat alone, even if other members of the household are present, and never at table; they slump on a sofa in front of the television. Everyone in the household eats according to his own whim and timetable. Even in so elementary a matter as eating, therefore, there is no self-discipline but rather an imperative obedience to impulse. Needless to say, the opportunity for conversation or sociality that a meal taken together provides is lost. English meals are thus solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

I ask the doctors to compare the shops in areas inhabited by poor whites and those where poor Indian immigrants live. It is an instructive comparison. The shops the Indians frequent are piled high with all kinds of attractive fresh produce that, by supermarket standards, is astonishingly cheap. The women take immense trouble over their purchases and make subtle discriminations. There are no pre-cooked meals for them. By contrast, a shop that poor whites patronize offers a restricted choice, largely of relatively expensive prepared foods that at most require only the addition of hot water.

The difference between the two groups cannot be explained by differences in income, for they are insignificant. Poverty isn't the issue. And the willingness of Indians to take trouble over what they eat and to treat meals as important social occasions that impose obligations and at times require the subordination of personal desire is indicative of an entire attitude to life that often permits them, despite their current low incomes, to advance up the social scale. Alarmingly, though, the natural urge of the children of immigrants to belong to the predominant local culture is beginning to create an Indian underclass (at least among young males): and the taste for fast food and all that such a taste implies is swiftly developing among them.

When such slovenliness about food extends to all other spheres of life, when people satisfy every appetite with the same minimal effort and commitment, no wonder they trap themselves in squalor. I have little trouble showing my doctors from India and the Philippines that most of our patients take a fast-food approach to all their pleasures, obtaining them no less fleetingly and unstrenuously. They have no cultural activity they can call their own, and their lives seem, even to them, empty of purpose. In the welfare state, mere survival is not the achievement that it is, say, in the cities of Africa, and therefore it cannot confer the self-respect that is the precondition of self-improvement.

By the end of three months my doctors have, without exception, reversed their original opinion that the welfare state, as exemplified by England, represents the acme of civilization. On the contrary, they see it now as creating a miasma of subsidized apathy that blights the lives of its supposed beneficiaries. They come to realize that a system of welfare that makes no moral judgments in allocating economic rewards promotes antisocial egotism. The spiritual impoverishment of the population seems to them worse than anything they have ever known in their own countries. And what they see is all the worse, of course, because it should be so much better. The wealth that enables everyone effortlessly to have enough food should be liberating, not imprisoning. Instead, it has created a large caste of people for whom life is, in effect, a limbo in which they have nothing to hope for and nothing to fear, nothing to gain and nothing to lose. It is a life emptied of meaning.

"On the whole," said one Filipino doctor to me, "life is preferable in the slums of Manila." He said it without any illusions as to the quality of life in Manila.

These doctors have made the same journey as I, but in the reverse direction. Arriving as a young doctor in Africa 25 years ago, I was horrified at first by the physical conditions, the like of which I had never experienced before. Patients with heart failure walked 50 miles in the broiling sun, with panting breath and swollen legs, to obtain treatment—and then walked home again. Ulcerating and suppurating cancers were common. Barefoot men contracted tetanus from the wounds inflicted by a sand flea that laid its eggs between their toes. Tuberculosis reduced people to animated skeletons. Children were bitten by puff adders and adults mauled by leopards. I saw lepers with noses that had rotted away and madmen who wandered naked in the torrential rains.

Even the accidents were spectacular. I treated the survivors of one in Tanzania in which a truck—having no brakes, as was perfectly normal and expected in the circumstances— began to slide backward down a hill it had been climbing. It was laden with bags of corn, upon which 20 passengers, including many children, were riding. As the truck slid backward, first the passengers, then the corn, fell off. By the time I arrived, ten dead children were lined up by the side of the road, arranged in ascending order as neatly as organ pipes. They had been crushed or suffocated by the bags of corn that fell on top of them: a grimly ironic death in a country chronically short of food.

Moreover, political authority in the countries in which I worked was arbitrary, capricious, and corrupt. In Tanzania, for example, you could tell the representative of the sole and omnipotent political party, the Party of the Revolution, by his girth alone. Tanzanians were thin, but party men were fat. The party representative in my village sent a man to prison because the man's wife refused to sleep with him. In Nigeria the police hired out their guns by night to the armed robbers.

Yet nothing I saw—neither the poverty nor the overt oppression—ever had the same devastating effect on the human personality as the undiscriminating welfare state. I never saw the loss of dignity, the self-centeredness, the spiritual and emotional vacuity, or the sheer ignorance of how to live, that I see daily in England. In a kind of pincer movement, therefore, I and the doctors from India and the Philippines have come to the same terrible conclusion: that the worst poverty is in England—and it is not material poverty but poverty of soul.
But enough about what I think. What do y'all think?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Empowerment through Dressing Like a Harlot

John C. Wright has written on a telly show set in a Playboy club. In his examination of the show and some of the statements made by one of the actresses, he makes it very clear just what women have given up by embracing contraception and postfeminism.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

In Which I Emulate Tito Edwards

I like what Gerald Nadal has to say about the Fr. Frank Pavone kerfuffle.

I really like what the Anchoress has to say about the Stacy Trasancos kerfuffle.

There are just REALLY a lot of things about which we ought to think carefully before deciding not to say anything.

Anything else I should be adding to this?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Locking Out Linux

I use and prefer free software, including several variations on GNU/Linux. This article suggests that operating system vendors may request (or demand) that the next version of Trusted Computing, the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, be used by hardware manufacturers to lock out any OS other than the one shipped with a system board, and that acting to bypass it would be a violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. This one, by a Red Hat dev, has more technical and better information.

Could it happen? Certainly. Microsoft makes most of their OS sales to system manufacturers like Sony, Dell, HP, and Gateway. In fact, people are more likely to buy new hardware to handle the latest version of Windows than because their computers no longer do everything they want. Will it happen? I don't know. IIRC, Microsoft has been slapped down in court for trying to prevent people from using their computers as they wish, and suits to end this would almost surely cite that precedent.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Worth Repeating for Emphasis

Salute to Marc Barnes over at Bad Catholic Blog, where I first saw the video.

I've written about this before: here and here and here and here. Feel free to review.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Shallow Atheism

I was watching a John Stossel clip, "The Commandments According to Penn," in which Penn Jilette discusses his book, "God, No!" He is a fundamentalist atheist along the lines of what Mark Shea encountered here, in that he expects the Bible to be read in a flat-footed, literalist manner.

I can agree with Penn that "agnostic" is a non-term. He claims that those who do not have an active faith, i.e. one where you trust God to keep his promises, then you are for all practical purposes an atheist. I agree with that, because trust is a major connotation of "belief" as it is used in the Bible. But beyond that, his theology is absurdly weak.

One of Penn's earlier silly statements was to the effect that "anyone who doesn't run a stop sign is displaying doubt, because a real believer would expect God to save him from all harm." He's buying the argument that the devil presented in Matthew 4:6, that God will send his angels to rescue us lest we dash our foot against a stone. Somehow he not only failed to notice Jesus' reply to this, but also doctrines saying that governments have authority from God to protect us, e.g. with stop signs and traffic laws.

God wants us to choose Him. To think that we should obey Him like mindless automata (or that we are unable to choose because of God's omnipotence) is to say that anyone's love for God is actually God's act of masturbation.

A later silly statement comes in the form of a favorite atheist straw man. "If God commanded you to kill your child, would you do it? If your answer is no, you've just put love and humanity above religion." And yet from the Catholic perspective, God = Love, and Love can nearly always be used as a substitute word for God. This understanding makes Penn's argument so irrational it almost cannot be described with symbolic logic. The closest I can come is, "If A is not-A, and you fail to behave as if not-A is A, then A is not-A." God asking or commanding me to murder my child is not God, because it is not love.

Of course he'll say, "Then what about Abraham and Isaac?" First, Abraham didn't know as much about God as we do. As far as I know, God never told Abraham that human sacrifice was repugnant to Him. Second, the Midrash strongly suggest that he was convinced that God would resurrect Isaac from the dead after he had been sacrificed. And third, God has never required human sacrifice from us; the only human He ever wanted to be sacrificed was His own Son, Jesus Christ.

The first of the Penn Suggestions is this:

1: The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity, and love.

There's nothing wrong with any of these ideals, especially not love. Love is the greatest of all virtues. But to say that human intelligence, creativity, and love are the highest ideals is idolatry. Both intelligence and creativity can easily be turned against love; furthermore, those who have less intelligence and creativity are necessarily devalued by this suggestion.

Finally, I'd like to know the philosophical basis from which these ideals spring. I see a clear line of deduction from the Christian valuation of all human life made in imago Dei to Penn's First Suggestion, but as a self-respecting atheist, he ought to find some other basis.

If Penn really wants to learn about Christianity, he really ought to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Towards More Civilized Discourse

I find myself a little dismayed when I check out a blogroll and I DON'T find These Stone Walls. Father MacRae is an excellent writer, a light to the world, and a stunning example of obedience and charity while under duress. Case in point: His post entitled, Holy Hostility, Batman! He ably decries the nastiness, name-calling, spite and vituperation prevalent in a fairly large number of blog comboxes and other online communities. He makes the case that it's not enough for the blogger to refrain from such behavior; it is also incumbent upon the blog admin to prune nastiness out of their comboxes as well. In fact, this is one of the reasons I moderate comments.

(another is so that I'll have notification of some sort that a comment has actually been posted. It's not something that happens a lot around here.)

And I fully agree that one of the hallmarks of a good blog is a good community participating in the combox. But what do you think?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On computing

Most people browse on Windows. I advocate free software, even for Windows users. One problem is that open source licenses allow malicious coders to download the source code, insert malware, compile it, and publish it. To counter this, I suggest looking for your free software at, which certifies downloads as malware free and nag free. A second site that is very helpful for this sort of thing is, which also has an app to automatically update your downloads when new versions are released. You can also use the H Security Update check to make sure all your windows software is up to date.

In other news, the Electronic Frontier Foundation released a study demonstrating that information provided by default -- namely the combination of your browser, operating system, and plugins, along with their version numbers, uniquely identify 84% to 94% of web surfers, even those who completely disable all cookies. This is one reason why I use Firefox, SRWare Iron, Google Chromium, Midori, Arora, Opera, and w3m browsers with minimal plugins, and three or four different operating systems. I use at least one of these to misrepresent itself, in order to gain access to certain websites that absolutely refuse to grant access when I don't. According to the EFF, the only likely fix is to demand that publishers remove this behavior from browsers.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Blogrollin #78

On the off chance that you prefer my stuff to Fr. Longenecker's, what's wrong with you? I never come up with teh awesome, like this post on sponge words and square facts.

Also recommended: Why I Believe the SOLT Statement (Fr. Corapi's abandonment of SOLT threw up big red flags for me, too)

Look for the Little Ones and Fr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, an interesting contrast between apparent and authentic holiness.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On Fr. Corapi

Only three really good things have been said on the matter.

First, Father Zuhlsdorf of What Does the Prayer Really Say? reminded us that a lot of what is being said is uncharitable, we don't really know the truth, and the best we can do is pray for all of those involved.

Mark Shea has decided to be quiet about it, and he has good reasons for this choice.

Jennifer Fulwiler reminds us: We don't have to worry about his previous teachings. I suggest that going forward, we may wish to examine them for an imprimatur before heeding them.

Mary Help of Sinners, pray for us!

Edit: and now a fourth, from Fr. Gordon Macrae.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Advertisers Filter Your Internet

Just in case you haven't seen this yet:

Are you cool with this? If so, why? If not, why not (and what should we do)?

Maybe as this guy suggests?

Monday, May 30, 2011

You Are Being Watched

It is becoming ever more clear that the only time our government cares at all about privacy is when it is ensuring you won't be prosecuted for sexual deviancy, contraception, or abortion. I recently read a description of the internet that certainly seems to apply: a borderless security and surveillance state.

So what has me going on now? I just ran across ZDNet's series on the ever-so-loathesome USA PATRIOT Act. The summary is here, and includes links to the entire four-part series. Another article there quotes Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) as saying "We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says," in an article titled "The 'REAL' Patriot Act is Classified." Here's ZDNet's source link. Apparently, the interpretation which the Department of Justice relies upon is classified, and cannot be debated openly in Congress without violating classification rules. And this thing has been passed more or less unchanged.

So who thinks the US government is nothing like a tyranny? Who thinks we are protected from it? Who thinks the Fourth Amendment is a dead letter?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Instead of Googling...

Duck it!

I was reading DWW today, and a screenshot in the OpenIndiana review showed what looked like a search engine I wasn't familiar with: . It has just taken the place of Google Advanced in my bookmarks. It may replace Wikipedia in my bookmarks; I can search wikipedia with DDG just by using !w [searchterms] in the search command line. They've got similar shortcuts for hundreds of sites. They also have a privacy policy that is vastly superior to Google's, and their normal search methodology is to find some specialized search engine suited to your query and use that, which I think is creative, clever, and elegant.

I'm going to investigate the command syntax to see how flexible it is. I think I'm even going to make it my firefox home page. If possible, I may make it the default search in Chromium. Much to do, much to learn.

Check thou it out!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogrollin again

Matthew Archbold relates the scariest conversation he's ever heard. He describes a moment when he looked in a metaphorical mirror and saw not the face of Christ, but of the culture of death.

Powerful stuff.

First to Exit the Blegroll

I am taking down the blegroll entry for Free the Notre Dame 88, a defense fund for the 88 protesters arrested when President Obama delivered the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame . . . because all charges have been dropped!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Culture of Death, World of Lies

So, Planned Parenthood is complaining about hysterically denouncing any attempts to deny them their place at the federal trough, claiming that millions of women won't be able to get mammograms from them any more. But is that so?

Planned Parenthood provides breast examinations, in which the doctor, nurse practitioner, or unlicensed employee feels you up to see if there are any palpable lumps. But that's not the same thing as a mammogram, which is an X-ray of your breast tissue.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Women In Crisis

Go read this. Do it now. There is nothing I can say that will do anything but detract from the message, other than telling you that you will be glad you did.

video blogrollin

So Marc over at Bad Catholic (see the blogroll) has created a video that he's really proud of for a scholarship competition, promoting the Rite of Reconciliation. I like his video, and you can find it on his blog.

But he likes the following video better, and wants it to win. I understand why PERFECTLY. Watch.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Joyously stolen!

From xkcd, alt text and all:

Nolan Chart

Nolan Chart

Disaster is Disaster

I've seen opinion pieces talking about how nice it is that so much destruction has occurred in Japan and elsewhere; now we can all get rich helping them clean up and repair!

Walter Williams rightly calls that Economic Lunacy. Nope, the people in Japan are poorer now, and as a result, they are going to have to buy replacements for their homes, cars, clothes, and infrastructure, instead of producing other useful goods. More goods means more wealth and lower prices.

Another example of economic lunacy, by the way, is complaints about the trade deficit. The trade deficit is balanced, CENT FOR CENT, with a foreign investment SURPLUS. It means that foreigners are putting capital into our companies. Furthermore, it means that we are richer than the people we're importing from. Here's a sane explanation:

Oh, woe!

How could I live without filing taxes?

The song is available for free download AND BROADCAST from the Center for Small Government.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

On Feminine Beauty

for reasons I don't intend to go into atall, I went back to Waiterrant today. I started from the beginning, clicking through his first few posts until I got to one entitled Leftovers. In it, the Waiter discusses what makes a woman beautiful and desirable, and some of the truly horrific damage some of them do to themselves in pursuit of the Main Stream Media norm of physical perfection, which is utterly divorced from reality. If you doubt it, watch the video.

Deo gratias, my wife is sane. She may not be aware of the Photoshop effect, but she does know how her skeleton is shaped. She eats like a human being, not a famine victim. I love her, she is as beautiful as she could be, and our marriage is a deluge of God's grace into my life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On Fr. Corapi

I'm not really very familiar with Fr. Corapi. I've seen the video of his conversion story/ testimonial regarding Reconciliation. (Search Fr. Corapi's conversion on YouTube; you'll find it.) But I am aware of a lot of people who dearly love his preaching.

Obviously, I'm writing about the accusations made against him. What do I (or anyone not involved in the case) actually know?


Is it possible he's guilty? Of course; consider the case of Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, another priest noted for holiness with a pretty broad following, who confessed to some wrongdoing.

Is it possible he's innocent? Absolutely. My inclination is to think that his innocence is more believable than his guilt. And unlike Fr. Euteneuer, he claims innocence.

By all means, the best advice is that Fr. Corapi gave in his adamant denial of guilt: pray for ALL of those involved.

Entirely a propos of this, Fr. Gordon MacRae has a post about this. Fr. MacRae knows full well what happens when you fight this sort of allegation. Also a propos is this 2003 article, by a man who ought to know more about what goes on in court when one of the clergy is accused. I urge you to go and read them both.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Site

I've put a new site in my Catholic Links sidebar, the Magis Center of Reason and Faith, which explains how recent advances in cosmology and physics provide strong support for the ontological proof for God, which has been discounted and marginalized ever since Immanuel Kant. Read and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Draft Is Coming

Salutes to The Western Confucian, leading me to Terry Nelson's Abbey Roads and thence to Catholic Citizens of Illinois.

Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt is convinced that the Armed Forces are about to severely curtail the religious liberty of orthodox Christian chaplains, by forbidding them to denigrate or oppose homosexualism in any way, shape or form, except perhaps from the pulpit. He cites this document. On p24 of the memo (30th page in the PDF) we find
If a chaplain is unable to reconcile serving with or caring for gay and lesbian Service members with his or her faith, the chaplain may request that the relevant endorsing agency withdraw its ecclesiastical endorsement for him or her. This would trigger an administrative separation under DoDI 1304.28.
And on pp50-51 of the memo (the 56th and 57th pages of the PDF) we find
  • Service members remain obligated to follow orders that involve interaction with others who are gay or lesbian, even if an unwillingness to do so is based on strong, sincerely held, moral or religious beliefs. As expressed in the Manual for Courts-Martial regarding a Service member’s obligation to obey orders: “the dictates of a person’s conscience, religion, or personal philosophy cannot justify or excuse the disobedience of an otherwise lawful order.”
  • Ser v ice members may, in appropriate circumstances and within the limitations of law and policy, express their moral or religious beliefs regarding sexual orientation. However, Service members may not make statements detrimental to good order and discipline and must obey lawful orders. Service members who feel that their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality require religious accommodation, may request such accommodation of that belief under DoDI 1300.17.

From this, he concludes that any attempt to counsel gays to abstain from homosexual behavior or suggest that it is a sin will be construed as "statements detrimental to good order and discipline" with the only available recourse being administrative separation (for the chaplain).

Now look at this post from Marc at BadCatholicBlog, claiming 45% of the military is Catholic. And every chaplain ever to win the Congressional Medal of Honor has been a devout and orthodox Catholic.

Insisting that Catholics deny one of the truths of their faith could well blow a giant hole in enlistment and re-enlistment. But this failure to retain volunteer troops will do nothing to dampen our leaders' craving for empire. And when the volunteer army can't carry the load any more, you can bet they will return to the draft.

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's About Time!!

National Organization of Women Puts Respect For Women Ahead of Leftist Solidarity

Part of the reason they had to call out a leftist confrere like Bill Maher is that nobody has let ANY right wing commentator or politician get away with stuff like that for a very long time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I'm A Man

Many thanks to the redoubtable Simcha Fisher, whose blog "I Have to Sit Down" (see Blogs I Like in the sidebar) is always a delight, for leading me to this interview she did. It includes some insight into how to deal in a Catholic, Christian manner, with same-sex attraction. Read and enjoy.

And also to What Lies Beneath, a meditation on the true nature of Reality that is so often hidden from us. Read and enjoy that too.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nuclear Insanity

The real insanity when it comes to nuclear power is the delusional and deceptive demagoguery and discourse which surround it. Here is some antidote, provided by the most admirable David Warren.

I love the Rev. Know-It-All

Here's a man I admire, because he has taken his stand for a liturgy by the rubrics. More importantly still, he has stood up for the life of the unborn. More important still, he has stood up for valid theology. See it all in Part 19 of A Short History of the Hootenanny Mass. I can recommend the entire series with a whole heart.

You may wish to argue my priorities. I agree with Father Z, good liturgy is good for the world. But lives are more important than good liturgy. And the truth about God is the most important thing in the world.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Halleluja, We're Being Attacked!

Read the American Papist's most excellent story here.

tl, dr? A couple of gay billionaires are spending millions of dollars to undermine the Church's teaching on marriage, family, and sex. They give it to organizations like Dignity, New Ways Ministry, and the like -- basically anyone who'll say, "We're Catholic, and it's time for the Church to deny truths she has guarded under the power of the Holy Spirit for millenia!"

Why is this good news? It means we're actually having an effect.

Make no mistake, though, we oughta be mad as hell that Catholic-haters are trying to remake Holy Mother Church into their own image.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


One of my heroes is Dr. Stanley Williams, PhD. When his series, "Trying to Fly With One Wing" was posted at Catholic Exchange, I was enthralled. I sought it eagerly, as it seemed one of the finest bits of apologetics I had ever encountered. Eventually it disappeared from CE, and then from the entire web, as far as I could tell.

But now I have found it again! First at CatholicLane, where they are up to part 4, and then after some googling, on a blog devoted entirely to the series. I am thrilled to find it available once again, and I'm making sure it's in my sidebars.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blogrolling number... 65. I checked.

I find blogs I like all the time. I find blogs I add to my bookmarks and blogroll regularly.

I have found no more than three or four blogs where I feel compelled to go back to the first post and read all of the archives.

BadCatholic is such a blog. Marc Barnes may only be 18, but his writing is full of love of life, orthodoxy, and Christ, His Blessed Mother, His Church, and His saints, not to mention such delightful neologisms as "badassery" and "destupidification," combined with a stark humility, demonstrated by his free and open admission that no Catholic on earth since the Assumption, least of all him, is anywhere close to perfect.

I can't promise that you'll enjoy any of it, let alone all of it. Still, I would do you a disservice if I didn't suggest you go and look.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why I Don't Fear China

It's hard to make war when everyone is old: China, damage of one-child law points to "risk of collapse"

If there is to be another great, horrendous conflict, it will likely be Humanae Vitae Catholics with Quiverfull evangelicals on one side, and such Islamic societies that reject contraception and abortion on the other.

Friday, January 21, 2011

In Which I am Too Busy to Create Content of My Own

so I refer you to this post by Simcha Fisher. She ably demolishes what is in truth a presentist attack upon George Washington.

In related news, the NAACP requested that a national boycott be made upon the city of Charlotte, NC, because they had the nerve! the effrontery! to allow the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board to make up for snow days by scheduling classes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Why, that's proof positive that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are the center and pinnacle of racism in America today!

Do you think for a moment there will be similar protests, should they go and do it again next month, on President's Day? My respect for Dr. King is enormous; he took a principled stand against evil at great cost to himself. This makes me wonder if the NAACP is verging towards idolatry. Dr. King was a man and a hero, not a god.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

David Warren

David Warren is quite possibly my favorite journalist alive today. He has been writing, lately, on "What is to be done?"This column is the one where he hits it way, way out of the park. Go and read it.