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Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Pure Class.

That phrase fits Portland Trailblazers head coach Maurice "Mo" Cheeks to a T:

The lasting, even impacting impression from the NBA playoffs so far is not of Kevin Garnett exhorting his teammates from the bench during overtime, nor Tracy McGrady swooping toward the basket, nor Allen Iverson dropping a double-nickel on the Hornets. It’s the unforgettable sight of Maurice Cheeks leaving his team’s bench in Portland to put his arm around 13-year-old Natalie Gilbert as she stood at mid-court holding a microphone but having fumbled the words to our national anthem, all alone and visibly in despair.

My wife told me about this one. Great story. RTWT.
Time for the Norman Mailer Drinking Game!

More unedited ramblings by a pale penis person who needs no booster shot: Norman Mailer offers his (thankfully) unique theory on Why We Fought.

To play the NMDG, knock back a shot of your favorite apéritif every time Mailer's train of logic derails. By my estimation, unless you are chugging Shirley Temples, you should be embalmed by the end of the third paragraph, where he manages to work the Catholic Church into his analysis.

Enjoy!

Monday, April 28, 2003

Which Twentieth Century Pope Are You?

Interesting.

Pius XII
You are Pope Pius XII. You're efficient and
dedicated, but not very approachable.


Which Twentieth Century Pope Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


[Link via Mark Sullivan]
Where Everybody Knows You're Lame...

Bill Cork had the (dis)pleasure to view a Liturgy Training Publications' video, "The Roman Catholic Mass Today."

I'll disagree with Bill on one point: it's hardly "yesterday." The LTP program is the template for the Diocese of Saginaw.

I saw that of the four parishes, only one had a visible tabernacle. Only one had pews--the rest had individual chairs. Three had the oils in big jars in prominent positions.

In three of the parishes, the offertory was demonstrated as a dramatic procession involving all people moving forward to placed their envelopes in baskets. The table was bare until this point, when lay members came forward to put the cloths upon it. Non-standard bread and wine were brought forward and placed by the lay members on the altar. All used ceramic vessels.

Reference was made consistently to "the one who presides," or "the presider"--never to the "priest." None of the parishes had a deacon.

All stood for the Eucharistic Prayer. Nothing about transubstantiation.

All had a demonstrative passing of the peace, with wandering huggers.

All had lay people taking considerable time to break the large breads into little pieces. All did this before the priest's communion.


I found myself nodding along at each of these points--I've seen every single one of these, along with a few added innovations (laity raising the cup and plate during consecration, references to God as female) in mid-Michigan Catholic churches spanning the length and breadth of the Diocese.

What you don't see in the Diocese's parishes are more than a handful of worshippers between 15 and 40, nor much in the way of vocations. For example, this year Bp. Untener dusted off the Rite of Ordination for the first time in two years. The fact the priest in question was born and raised in the Archdiocese of Detroit (not exactly a vocation factory, either) was glossed over...

While you can't necessarily lay all such failures at the feet of bad liturgy, it certainly is a major factor, given the centrality of the Mass in the lives of Catholics. Lex orandi, lex credendi.
Ready. Fire! Aim.

Joe Marier points out in comments to the post on Fr. Cantalamessa's "Imagine" homily below (archive link currently out of service) that he (Fr.) was fully cognizant of the inadequacies of the ditty in question.

Here's the link to the homily in Zenit.

While you can still fault Fr. Cantalamessa for muzzyheaded thinking, he was hardly touting the song as a plan of action, and he certainly wasn't channeling for Archbishop Renato "America is Pharoah!" Martino. The homily was much better than Neumayr reported. My bad. I apologize.

As for the admonishment to read a certain joint weblog that shall not be named: I have since Lent.

Once.

But, after reading a post blasting Rod Dreher for not commenting on the Pope's Eucharist encyclical, I had two thoughts:

1. Obsess much?

and

2. I haven't missed anything by not visiting--apart from hypertension, that is.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Well, I'm Reading Jim Cork's Blog.

You should, too.

For starters, there's a head-shaker of a story about what the nannies think is stinking up Nurse Bloomberg's New York.

Take a look.
Notes from the Death of Catholic Higher Education, Part I.

A Catholic professor describes the rearguard action to preserve Catholicism at a historically Catholic university:

[T]he [Augustine] class takes a toll, partly of the sort I had dreaded several years ago when my department chairman asked me to work up the course. I tried my best to get off the hook, but there was no course in Augustine anywhere in the university's curriculum, and my chairman was eager for the classics department to fill the gap.

"Why me?" I recall asking. My own graduate concentration was in Greek. I had no formal training in patristics, no expertise in late antiquity, mostly zero of the formal qualifications the department would reasonably expect of anyone it might hire from outside to teach the course.
The chairman listened quietly. "Well -- yeah, I'm asking a lot," he said, "but this is still down the road a ways -- you'd have two years to prepare the course. Besides, Augustine is like any other topic; it takes a certain ... instinct as well as raw knowledge and training."

I looked at him blankly before he nailed me with his clinching argument: "You're the only Catholic in the department."

* * *

Down in the stacks at the main library on campus, I pulled a copy of Jacques Maritain's memoir The Peasant of the Garonne, a book I hadn't read in years. Published early in 1966, just a few months after the close of the Second Vatican Council, Maritain's reflections drew liberal fire in those days for bemoaning the "foolery" already evident in the wake of the Council.

Maritain, who died in 1973 at age 91, was a prominent Neo-Thomist philosopher, one of several Catholic thinkers I had cut my intellectual teeth on during my college years in the 1960s. Paging through the book, I noticed that the due slip in the back recorded a steady stream of check-out dates until 1971. Apparently, no one in the university had looked at this famous book for 32 years.

On a hunch, I looked up a few other Maritain titles. Then I got into it, and spent the next hour combing the stacks and pawing through the library's huge collection of, to me, familiar Catholic writers: Knox, Guardini, Newman, Chesterton, Belloc, Gilson, Pieper, Benson, Dawson, Lunn, Dimnet. With few exceptions (often as not, a date when I myself had checked out the book), the due slips told the same story, again and again: a long series of check-out dates stopping, suddenly, in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Dazed by this discovery, I sat at a reading table to gather my thoughts. How many thousands of students, I wondered, have passed through this school since 1970? Is it even mathematically probable that these worthy, well-thumbed books would suddenly, at about the same time, stop being read?

Here, I thought, was a kind of archaeological evidence for the collapse of Catholic identity at an historically Catholic university. Santa Clara's collection of Catholic authors from the 19th and 20th centuries is fabulous -- 157 volumes of Chesterton alone. Yet for all the use to which these volumes are now put, they may as well be sealed in plastic wrap and stored away in packing crates.

* * *

A faculty poll taken some years ago by our political science department of "attitudes" about religion and politics showed more than 60 percent of the faculty at Santa Clara professing no belief whatever in any transcendent order. Fewer than 20 percent are practicing Catholics. Forget theology. All you need is arithmetic: Santa Clara is no longer a Catholic university as defined by the Roman Catholic Church.


I'll conclude with a final quote, and yet another reason to suppress the Jesuits (or at least the California branch):

Now ponder this garland of committee prose in the current working paper on Catholic and Jesuit identity: "Jesuit education is distinguished by praxis, or the integration of the intellect and faith with practice and an intelligent foundation for active engagement in the promotion of social justice. It seeks a more just and humane world through personal commitment; whereas Catholic education tends to be more parochial, more doctrine-based, and less actively concerned with change."

Which reminds me: Cheap ideas, Augustine likes to say, often come dressed in gaudy patter.


Cheap ideas, gaudy patter: the perfect motto for Catholic academia in the 21st Century.

[Link via Peppermint Patty]
Time to Get the Motrin.

Memorandum

FROM: Dale Price, Catholic from the United States

TO: Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher for the Papal Household

RE: Your Good Friday homily
______________________________________

I would like to suggest that, in the future, you probably shouldn't cite the Atheist Kumbaya to make a point about war and peace. After all, the first argument the song makes is that religion is a primary factor leading to war. In fact, it asks the listener to imagine there's no religion--two stanzas before the "living life in peace" part you cited.

Awkward.

And I really don't think the Western world needs the concept of "living for today" expounded any further, do you?

All in all, a most, um...peculiar...choice for a Good Friday homily. Besides, it's more than a little dated, with a strong whiff of disintegrating Birkenstocks, Haight-Ashbury and vinyl albums. Permit me to offer a substitute selection from the pen of Dave Mustaine, recorded during my youth: Peace Sells, But Who's Buying? Certainly more theologically acceptable, and as a bonus the artist is now an acknowledged evangelical Christian. Just a thought. Granted, the musical style takes some getting used to, but if you are merely citing lyrics, that shouldn't be a problem.

Thank you for your time.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Orwell as Chief of State.

A great article about the career of Vaclav Havel over at Reason Magazine. A fascinating portrait of the artist as crusader for (true) liberty, with all of the brilliance and quirkiness that implies:

Most normal politicians, after nearly 13 years in power (including two and a half years as president of a unified Czechoslovakia), would lament the end of their special treatment and cling to whatever bureaucratic influence they could grasp. But most normal politicians don’t make a life’s work out of analyzing the inextricable link between personal freedom and a society’s overall health. Though the Czech Republic is exponentially more free than it was when Havel first made his fairy tale ascent from gulag to castle, the former playwright has suffered personally under the constraints imposed by official decorum.

"What I really long for is that I shall be free of duties dictated by protocol," he told London’s Sunday Times earlier this year. "Naturally, I have had to express myself in a more cautious and diplomatic manner and I have not been very happy about it."

* * *

The first targets of Havel’s considerable wrath and sarcasm were the poor fools making "halfhearted" efforts at creating "Socialism with a human face." One of his first essays, 1965’s "On Evasive Thinking" (collected in the English-language volume Open Letters) makes cruel sport of a newspaper essayist who -- not unlike his modern American counterparts -- attempted to assess and then dismiss the broader significance of a temporal tragedy, in this case, a building ledge falling and killing a passerby. "The public," Havel wrote, "again showed more intelligence and humanity than the writer, for it had understood that the so-called prospects of mankind are nothing but an empty platitude if they distract us from our particular worry about who might be killed by [another] window ledge, and what will happen should it fall on a group of nursery-school children out for a walk."

Here, in Havel’s earliest essay to be translated into English, you can already find the four main themes that have animated his adult nonfiction writing ever since. One is the responsibility to make the world a better place. Another is that the slightest bit of personal dishonesty warps the soul. ("The minute we begin turning a blind eye to what we don’t like in each other’s writing, the minute we begin to back away from our own inner norms, to accommodate ourselves to each other, cut deals with each other over poetics, we will in fact set ourselves against each other...until one day we will disappear in a general fog of mutual admiration.")

A third theme is that ideology-driven governance is practically doomed to fail. ("It prevents whoever has it in his power to solve the problem of the Prague façades from understanding that he bears responsibility for something and that he can’t lie his way out of that responsibility.") Finally, there is his belief in the revolutionary potency of individuals speaking freely and "living in truth."

* * *

Once in office, Havel took pains to remain himself. On his first New Year’s speech, in 1990, he started by saying "I assume you did not propose me for this office so that I, too, would lie to you," and from that point on tried to give his fellow citizens the feeling that one of them was up in the Castle. The same impact can be seen on many of his foreign admirers; when I ask my American or British friends who lived in Prague to tell me their favorite story about Havel, it usually involves them bumming a smoke off the guy, or sharing a urinal, or seeing him with a hot blonde at a rock show. Though he quickly grew out of the blue jeans phase, and was careful about the ceremonial dignities of office, he was forever injecting informality into the serious work of public life. He was trying to practice democracy with a human face.
Yet Another Sports-Related Career for Mohammad Saeed Al-Sahhaf.

Color commentator for the dread New York Yankees:

KAY: I must say, Mohammad, it's a beautiful night for baseball.

SAEED AL-SAHHAF: I swear to you by all that is holy that the moon will run crimson with the blood of the Boston infidels before this night is over! Already, the indomitable Yankees lead by seven runs, and the corrupt Red Sox are fleeing the stadium! They have forfeited the game and are returning to their homes to lick their wounds like the pathetic curs they are! Run like the wind, you stooges of western imperialism, and take your odor with you! You should never have stepped foot in our kingdom! Your arrogance has sealed your doom and condemned your children and your children's children to lives of slavery!

KAY: Well, we certainly hope that's the way it turns out tonight, Mohammad, but actually, we're still waiting for the managers to exchange lineup cards. ...


Read the whole hilarious thing.
Closed Communion.

Anything that gives offense to the Church of Marty Haugen has to be a good thing.
I recently received another reminder to never sing his music again. Not that it would take much at this point, given how consistently awful his oeuvre is, but... "Gather us in, the twee and the trendy... Gather us in, the dull and the stale...Give us the courage to endure this song!"

Apparently Marty the mainline Lutheran has a problem with closed communion:

He talked about a liturgy planning meeting they had at a college chapel one year. The chapel was at a seminary up in Minnesota, and many of the students were planning the music. There was a student at that seminary, taking graduate courses, who was a protestant minister. She, the minister, had come to feel really close to this community and she wanted to receive communion as a sign of feelings of closeness she had with this community of worshippers. The priest, sadly, explained to her that, as much as he'd like to, he wasn't permitted to open communion up like that. So as the liturgy planners were picking songs, one of them said, "Hey, let's sing Marty's song, 'All Are Welcome.'" Several people agreed cheerfully that it was the perfect song for this particular liturgy. Then someone said, "No, we can't do that song. All are NOT welcome here." And, as Marty tells the story, with great sadness, everyone sighed loudly and picked another song because they realized that not everyone is welcome at the Lord's table in the Catholic Church. He shook his head dramatically and continued to the next verse of the song.

My response to this "horror"? Good. No: Excellent! God bless that priest! Give us about 10,000 more like him.

The first reason the complaint is ridiculous: the condescending, tsk-tsk sadness, exemplified by a dramatic head shake during the middle of his Velveeta-gobbler of a hymn, is way over the top. Please. Catholics are getting butchered in the Sudan. A Protestant seminary student didn't get communion at Mass. Waaah. Try saving the drama queen posturing for something non-trivial.

Second, the notion of the "open" communion table is one of the great myths of the Progressive sectarians. I guess the idea is that way back at the beginning of the Jesus Community, the early Christians, unencumbered by denominational and doctrinal hangups, chucked the crackers from the Big Agape Table at put near everybody in the Mediterranean basin: fully initiated Christians, catechumens, the curious, and even cultic prostitutes passing by on their way home from a hard day's night at the Temple of Diana. After all, the Early Christians™ were inclusive folks--just like Jesus! Come get your Wheat Thin! Well, if
"all" are welcome, it truly means "all," doesn't it?

Nevermind that it is unsupported by Scripture, Tradition or history, but it is irresistably appealing to our era in which Tolerance is the only absolute virtue.

Third, and what really frosts my shorts about the open communion crowd, is that it makes a lie of what the Sacrament means: union with and in Christ, through His Very Body and Blood. What precisely did the female seminarian believe? Well, it seems pretty obvious she disputes the Church's stance on ordination of women. Who did she think Jesus was/is? Sadly, there's no longer any guarantee that a mainline Protestant minister will believe in the divinity of Christ or the Resurrection. What about other hot buttons, like abortion, for example? What were her beliefs about the very nature of the Sacrament she wanted: "This is my body," with all that scandalously entails? Or merely "This represents my body"? Or some slushy place in the middle? Her thoughts on Humanae Vitae? What was the state of her soul? Did any of this matter?

Nope. None of that matters to the Open Tablers. It was her feelings that were paramount, not truth. In so doing, Haugen and the rest were trying to make a comforting lie of what the sacrament is. It also slaps Catholics in the face, especially those (like your grouchy webhost) who were forced to wrestle with the teachings of the Church (with no little difficulty and a lot of prayer) and make a binding Profession of Faith before being permitted to receive the Eucharist. What the Open Tablers are saying is that none of that mattered, either. Nah--legalism! Protestant Seminarian, go to the head of the line!

What a colossal insult.

Besides, the notion that Catholic communion is closed is fundamentally false: it's open to all who choose to walk through the right door.

Instead of trying to rappel through the stained glass.

[Haugen link via Mark Sullivan]

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

My, That Was Fast!

Or, How 'bout them Pistons?

Those of you who don't care for sports talk, well--tough.

There are those who delight in the failure of the Red Wings, deriding them as the "Yankees of the NHL," an out of control franchise that buys championships. For those who hold to such notions, I have a suggestion:

Sidle on over, pick whichever of my two cheeks (Nope. Lower.) strikes your fancy, and pucker up, buttercup.

First of all, it's not true: the Wings' core is the result of either drafts or trades: Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan, Igor Larionov, Darren McCarty, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Jiri Fischer, Mathieu Schneider, Tomas Holmstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Henryk Zetterberg--I could go on, but that should give you the idea.

Second, I live in the town that houses two of the most hapless professional sports teams around: the Detroit Lions, and the Toledo Mud Hens' major league affiliate.

In other words, I deserve my sports joy, and the Wings (along with the increasingly competitive Pistons) are the only hope I have for it.

Why did the Winged Wheelers lose? THE RED WINGS DID NOT LOSE! ACCOUNTS TO THE CONTRARY ARE SHAMELESS LIES! DO NOT BELIEVE THEM!
[Thanks to fellow sufferer John Miller at The Corner for the pic.]

Would that it were so. Here's my thoughts:

1. The Ducks played better. More hustle, more grit, more physical play, more opportunistic play, and, frankly--more heart. The Wings played like it was a coronation, not a contest. That will get you beat every time. Once again, the Wings prove that you can't play hockey with both hands locked around your own neck.

2. Those of you who hold to the canard that the DRW buy everything are nevertheless forced to agree with this: you can't buy goals. The Wings' vaunted forwards didn't score when needed. Fedorov and Shanahan were huge disappointments in this regard.

Again.

When the aging Luc Robitaille has your best scoring opportunities (and is showing the most hustle), your hockey team has a problem. As in an "Iceberg! Right Ahead!" problem.

3. There is no conclusive evidence that Curtis Joseph can stop a beach ball when it counts, let alone a puck. He made a few tough saves, but the softies were killers. Especially in Game 2, when the Wings held a lead midway through the third period.

4. Lack of physical play. It's something of a myth that the Cup champs of '97, '98, and '02 were physically punishing. But they weren't the Ice Capades, either (haven't been since the '96 flameout). The championship teams applied force selectively, but decisively--anyone who remembers what they did to the massive, lumbering Flyers in 1997 will know what I mean: Dale Hawerchuk was burping up teeth for a week after Konstantinov's open ice hit. But there was little of that sort of play here.

Anyway, our ice heroes can still be contenders. But they'd better do it next year, because the NHL's impending labor dispute may make the MLB's World Series-cancelling strike look like a hiccup by comparison.
Everything You Need to Know About Hollywood.

Drug and rape a child? Your career continues, and your peers give you an Oscar.

Cross a picket line? Your career is dead, and your peers put you on a blacklist.

[Second link via Relapsed Catholic.]
A Note About Intermittent Blogging.

Well, let's see: the preferable delights of home and family, a daughter who had tubes put in her ears, a son Who Is Just Now Getting The Sleep Memo, a house that has cost me $550 (electrical and furnace problems) over the last two weeks (and could cost me $1G more--sagging floor), a work schedule gone manic, and the (stunningly abbreviated) NHL playoffs--these are a few of my favorite blog distractions.

At the moment, it looks like I might be able to get back on the blogging track. How long--time will tell.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

The Easter Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

In my opinion, unsurpassed. May you and yours have a blessed Easter! He is Risen, indeed!

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Marine who put American flag on Saddam statue speaks.

Corporal Edward Chin says the Iraqis were far from offended by it:

[He] told CNN's Paula Zahn that the display of the American stars and stripes, and the subsequent removal of that flag and hanging of a pre-Gulf War Iraqi flag, were "more like a symbol that we were here to give (Iraqis) their country back."

"They wanted a flag on his head, the American flag," Chin said. "They brought it up to me and I put it on there for a brief moment.

"The Iraqi crowd, they were egging us on," he said. "They were happy to see us do it. We took it down after a brief moment and put their flag up."

More Carroll-ing.

Well, at least briefly.

Is Mohammed El-Baradei a complete idiot? Or just blind?

Investigators Tuesday discovered that Al-Tuwaitha hides another city. This underground nexus of labs, warehouses, and bomb-proof offices was hidden from the public and, perhaps, International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors who combed the site just two months ago, until the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Engineers discovered it three days ago.

Today, the Marines hold it against enemy counter-attacks.

So far, Marine nuclear and intelligence experts have discovered 14 buildings that betray high levels of radiation. Some of the readings show nuclear residue too deadly for human occupation.

A few hundred meters outside the complex, where peasants say the "missile water" is stored in mammoth caverns, the Marine radiation detectors go "off the charts."

"It's amazing," said Chief Warrant Officer Darrin Flick, the battalion's nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialist. "I went to the off-site storage buildings, and the rad detector went off the charts. Then I opened the steel door, and there were all these drums, many, many drums, of highly radioactive material."

To nuclear experts in the United States, the discovery of a subterranean complex is highly interesting, perhaps the atomic "smoking gun" intelligence agencies have been searching for as Operation Iraqi Freedom unfolds.

Last fall, they say, the Central Intelligence Agency prodded international inspectors to probe Al-Tuwaitha for weapons of mass destruction. The inspectors came away with nothing.

"They went through that site multiple times, but did they go underground? I never heard anything about that," said physicist David Albright, a former IAEA Action Team inspector in Iraq from 1992 to 1997. Officials at the IAEA could not be reached for comment.


Applying what's been known as the 48 Hour Rule is sensible here: Wait 48 hours to see if there have been any WMD confirmations. So far, none of them have panned out after two days. This seems to be a slightly different breed of cat, though.

Moreover, this sure does raise some interesting questions. Such as, just precisely what high-tech detection devices were UN inspectors using?

Divining rods?

[Link via Christopher Johnson]
"James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe."

A phrase which should induce uncontrollable shuddering amongst sensible folk. Or at least an overpowering urge to reach for a barf bag.

The tedious apostate attempts to medicate his evident dismay about recent Coalition military successes with a discursive sequence of questions about the war and American policy in general. Think of it as the Socratic method meets the Metamucil-gobbling "Every War Is Vietnam--We Hope!" crowd meets the Royal Society for the Promotion of Moral Equivalence. Here's a Whitman's sampler:

Can aggressive war be waged by those who grasp the bottomless tragedy of the human condition, how every story -- whether one person's or a nation's -- ends in death? How every untimely death wounds the absolute, and how unnecessary death is itself the mortal enemy?

I'm not in a mood to let the NIONs of the world have the moral high ground right now. They don't deserve it. God knows they haven't earned it. In fact, this faux moralizing brings out the side of me that identified with the protagonists on Molly Hatchet album covers.

So, I'll keep it simple: Here's one question lobbed back at the Carroll Claque:

Why did you side with the captors, and not the captives?




[Second link via Mark Sullivan]

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

More Gurkhiana.

Victorino Matus over at The Weekly Standard has an article about the Gurkhas in Iraq, including a description of their last visit to the region in 1914.

Mark Sullivan offers this fine article by the same author about the deployment of the Brigade in Afghanistan. The Gurkhas were eager to take the field:

Asked how they like it in the desert, some of them complain that it is hot, but add, "We are enjoying it here." The temperature is about 115 degrees. And what do they think about the latest crisis? One rifleman told a reporter from The Mirror, "The attack on America was very sad and many lives were lost. It was terrible to watch on television. So I would love to go to Afghanistan to fight." He went on to say, "From what I have read, the Taliban are bad people, so the fight would be very just. I would even ask to go first."

Like I said, on our side.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

SARS Comes to Michigan.

There are two suspected cases in the State, according to local physicians. Given our border with Ontario, I suspected we'd get something before now.

The Detroit News has also assembled a handy primer on the virus, including a map of where the cases are in the U.S. The bottom line is that panic is unwarranted:

Scary as SARS is, he [University of Michigan epidemiologist Dr. Arnold Monto] notes, we should all be grateful it's not a killer influenza -- as initially feared -- that's made its way out of China across the globe.

The flu transmits easily in aerosolized form through the air, he says, making for much more widespread, lightning-quick contagion.

SARS, by contrast, seems to travel poorly through the air, and generally only in "large drops" that a coughing or sneezing person ejects.

While those can be inhaled by somebody standing very close, they usually only project out about three feet, Monto says, at which point they drop to the floor. While much is still unknown about this illness, that suggests it would be unlikely to spread through ventilation systems. The upshot, Monto adds, is that SARS' spread can be slowed, where that might be next to impossible with a killer flu.

"Obviously, there's much that's still being learned," says Geralyn Lasher, spokesman at the Michigan Department of Community Health. "Since it's obviously been very serious in some parts of the world, we're taking a very cautious approach. But all the cases in Michigan are doing well and improving."


Health writer Michael Fumento also has a valuable perspective, although his report about the effectiveness of older antivirals appears to be inaccurate.
Medpundit regularly posts updates about the disease, so keep checking.

Finally, why the Chinese may have had such difficulty in containing the outbreak: the appalling misuse of "medicine" by the totalitarian regime instilled an understandable phobia toward doctors in ordinary Chinese:

Not very long ago — within the past five years, let's say — an American businessman of my acquaintance, a leading figure in the health-care field, was approached by an authoritative official of the Chinese government with a truly fabulous offer. How would the American like to set up a nationwide network of clinics, under his own name and with clear American identification? He would provide the medicine, the staff, the doctors, the technology. The Chinese would provide the money, the land, the labor force to build the clinics, and guarantee a substantial profit for at least a decade.

The American was impressed; who wouldn't be? And of course he was curious. Why were they being so generous?

The answer helps understand why it took so long for the Chinese to fess up to the existence of the new Viral pneumonia. The Chinese official put it this way: "we are having a terrible time getting people to see doctors, even for routine physical checkups. And this is because of an event that took place back in the late 1940s, following Mao's revolution. At that time, the government promised to eradicate venereal disease in China. And it did. Everyone was forced to undergo an examination by a certified doctor. And anyone with venereal disease was executed. Ever since, most Chinese stayed far away from medical doctors."

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Sad non-war news.

Mr. Noodle is dead. My daughter loves that segment on Sesame Street, too.

Michael Jeter died at age 50, six years after disclosing he had HIV. Best known for the "Evening Shade" television show, for my money, his best work was in a film too few people saw: The Fisher King.

Jeter played a "Homeless Cabaret Singer" (so sayeth the credits, but I thought his character had a name) to tragicomic perfection. His scene-stealing moment involved his character delivering a singing telegram to the would-be lady-love of Robin Williams' character.

In drag.

With his thick Civil War general-style mustache.

Dancing on a desk.

Belting out a pitch-perfect impression of Ethel Merman.

Did I mention it was a Terry Gilliam film?

Well, it happens to be my favorite film of all time, so go out and rent it in tribute to an underrated character actor. For you Catholics (and others) leery of R-rated films (it earned it, for language and some non-gratuitous but disturbing violence), it involves the Holy Grail, a quest for redemption, and multiple examples of self-sacrifice. It's also side-splittingly funny in parts, to boot.

Go get it.
Enter the Gurkhas.

The storied Nepali warriors have arrived in Iraq.

"In the last two years we've been everywhere the British Army's been, from East Timor to Afghanistan," Major Stevens said.

Their reputation is also tethered to their "ethos" -- adherence to a strict, self-imposed code of honor and discipline.

"We must be loyal, honest, well-trained," explained a rifleman standing in front of perfectly arranged cots flush and grounded at their encampment here. "We are very experienced, especially in jungle warfare."

A more recognizable trademark is their long and lethal Kukri knife, a symbol of their legacy and lethality.

The Gurkhas are working with the four agencies already securing this base, including Security Forces, RAF and Ministry of Defense Police and local constabularies.

"We're very happy to be working with the MOD police and U.S. Forces," a Gurkha rifleman said. "We are not sure about the conflict with Iraq and we don't know what will happen, but we're here now and we're happy to help."


God help the Fedayeen.

Here's a good source for Gurkha links.

This is the official British Army website for the Brigade of Gurkhas, complete with an explanation of the famous kukri knives.

My favorite story about the Gurkhas is almost certainly apocryphal, but accurately depicts the loyalty and courage of these men. The story says the British were expanding their paratrooper divisions, and were seeking recruits. The obvious choice was to ask the Gurkhas. A British company commander agreed, and assembled his Gurkha unit, confident that most, if not all, would volunteer. He explained to the soldiers that the Army was seeking volunteers for these new units, and explained that they would undergo risky 1000ft plus airdrops behind enemy lines. To the officer's shock, only about half stepped forward to volunteer. The Gurkha sergeant was also surprised, and queried the men himself. He quickly came back, and told the officer to ask again. Puzzled, the officer complied. This time, the entire unit stepped forward.

"I told them they would get parachutes," the sergeant explained.

Another version of this story is told here.

Relax. They're on our side.
Operational Pause.

The blogging interruption was the result of workload and two small children not sleeping at the appointed time.

There is a very good likelihood of another pause occurring soon.