Search This Blog

Loading...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dream big, little buckaroo.

Man arrested after trying to cash stolen check for $360,000,000,000.


Yes--$360 billion dollars.

Something tells me young Chas' mathematics grades were...suboptimal.

Where does the time go?

Louis was 15 lbs, 10 oz on April 19, when he turned four months. He's more than doubled his weight.

And yesterday he started rolling over.

Blink and he'll be crawling. Look away at the computer screen and he'll be walking. Go out to the deck and he'll be talking.

Too fast. Far too fast.

Re-valuing marriage.

Art Deco has a great point in his comment below:


There is so much to take a stand against: the unnecessary sexualization of adolescence, the witlessly jumbled order of the rites of passage which our youth are meant to pass through, the continuing elongation of the period of dependency in life of the young in the Occident, the severence of sex from its proper context, and the demotion of marriage. Every last one of these has a functional relationship to every other one.

Sexual experience is part of the foot race that young men are in with each other, and contemporary practice legitimated by common opinion and by the helping professions sanctions its frequent occurance in circumstances where young men are not under the constraining disciplines of having to earn a living or maintain a domestic life. The predictable result is a great many abortions and a great many bastards, not to mention the degredation of the sensibilities of the men and women so engaged. (My great-great grandfather had completed his schooling and apprenticeships and been fully responsible for earning a living for about eight years before he was married; he married at age twenty. Rather different from the biography of our seventeen-year-old studs of today).

O.K., we refrain from dirty jokes. That is not bad, but what needs to be done is to persuade young men to sit the foot race out and to persuade young men and young women that a decade or so of tomcatting about and of slopping about and of train-wreck relationships (with or without a bastard child as a souvenir thereof) is no way to learn to master the demands of adult life.


I think this is remarkably closely related to the discussion at Jeff's and Steve's about earlier marriage.

I think they are on to something, at least as far as getting married in the early 20s. I'll just add this to my other comments: if you really want to strengthen marriage, you are going to have to break the mentality that looks at men and women not as husbands and wives, not as fathers and mothers, but rather as units of productivity and consumption. There are strong structural disincentives to early marriage in our society right now, and they start with nontrivial concerns about providing for your family.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Self-policing.

Men, we have met the enemy, and it is us.

The problem isn't some abstract, like "the culture." Culture is driven by behavior, and we've let the behavior of men degenerate with nary a peep from the good men. The re-paganization of our society is happening on our watch. What are we going to do about it? Trying to build safe zones for our families is, at best, an incomplete, if ineffective solution.

Sure, it starts with tacking the dirty old man/men who impregnated 14 year olds in the Texas FLDS compound to the wall. Ditto the brother who pimped out his sister. May they reside where daylight has to be pumped down to them.

But it continues by ostracizing Roger Clemens if it is found to be true that he had sex with a fifteen year old. It is further followed up by doing the same to Billy Ray Cyrus for his boggling publicity whoring.

But it takes more than that. Demand better, of ourselves and our culture. It will take objecting to the dirty jokes, sexualized language and leering, even when they come from our friends and colleagues. It will take standing up for better standards in our own communities, even at the risk of ostracism to ourselves. And it will probably even require tactical, arms-length alliances with people who hate our very guts (gender feminists). Nevertheless, they have their own sometimes-screwy, sometimes-sound, reasons for objecting to the same problems and can reach people who won't give us the time of day.

When good men do nothing...

If he's supposed to be a member of "the best educated laity in Church history"...

...why is he reasoning like a tween?

So, unless the Pope personally hits you on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper and says "No! Bad Catholic! BAD!" you can assume it's OK?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not in full agreement with Novak's analysis, either, but at least he's noting the incongruity.

On the other hand, Winters' core argument is borderline infantile. Yes, it's true that the Pope has removed no bishops for communing pro-aborts. However, that constitutes evidence of nothing, given that the bishop-removal rate is about zilch.

Maybe, just maybe, he expects Catholics of all stations to start thinking and acting like grown-ups, instead of hiding behind threadbare excuses.

Thanks to Jay for the links.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Reaction to last Friday's Galactica episode.

"So, Baltar's an Episcopalian now."

This spark within you I call "God."
God loves you just as you are.
You. Are. Perfect.

OK, ouch--two shot foul and a technical. But he certainly has found a religion suited to his intense self-love.

Any thoughts? Try to avoid spoilers in the initial part of your comments, or SAM and Hilary will descend upon me like the Furies.

Sometimes, I just get tired of religion, politics and culture.

Warning to Hilary--you may want to linger a little more at Steve's right now.

On to the post.

I have a love-hate relationship with our local quirky NFL franchise.

Stop. That's not accurate.

I have a love- HATE relationship with the Detroit Lions.

Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in.

I didn't get giddy about 6-2 last season, and with good reason. It was a mirage.

But here I am, talking about the draft. As much as it pains me to say it, it appears that Matt Millen's brain grew several sizes on Saturday.

The team has glaring needs, and management took a serious run at addressing them, instead of giving us the glitzy skill position picks.

Gozder "the Keymaster" Cherlius may have been a reach, but they need a right tackle. Jordon Dizon may have been a reach, but they need a space-eating MLB. I have to admit I'm most puzzled by the selection of Kevin Smith at the beginning of the third round, especially given his admitted drug habit and negligible work ethic. But who knows--maybe Silent Bob will surprise us.


I keed, I keed. Sorry, but that one was a hanging curve in my book.

It looks like Millen/Marinelli are trying the most difficult of procedures in the NFL--a heart transplant. The common denominator: these are all motor guys, overachievers with a monomaniacal devotion to football. No "potential" guys with a history of playing softer than their talent suggests they should. That's why Shaun Rogers is in Cleveland, and Charles Rogers and Mike Williams are out of football.

I don't know if they had to staple Millen to his seat to keep him from taking Mendenhall, but it was a smart move to pass. I think Smith will be every bit as good, and have more motivation to succeed.

Looks like a B- draft in my book. Most importantly, it doesn't look remotely stupid.

Feel free to laud/vent about your team's draft in the combox. Slagging is always encouraged.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cultural jihad.

Read this brilliant and disturbing piece by Bruce Bawer, An Anatomy of Surrender.

Before you start thinking this is some kind of right wing rant, understand that Bawer is an openly-gay man living in Europe. He's seeing it, every day.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

This is appalling because it's true.

I'd like to say "funny," but it seems to be his modus operandi.

Behold: Matt Millen's 2008 Mock Draft for the first round.

Good first round picks in the Millen Era (Since 2001): Roy Williams, Ernie Sims. Serviceable: Jeff Backus. Jury's Out: Calvin Johnson. Not worth a nickel: The other picks. Charles Rogers?

From the folly of the Millen, deliver us, O Lord.

[Thanks to Victor for the link.]

Louis George Romero.

"Teething," my tuchus.

He's a zombie infant acquiring his taste for human flesh. That's the only logical explanation for the ravenous gnawing.

It starts with my thumb, but it will end in my cerebellum.

Heather has a question for moms.

Specifically, regarding hair accessories for girls.

Thanks!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy happy joy joy.

World food prices have doubled since 2005. There have been recent food riots in Mexico, Morocco, Egypt, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania, Cameroon, Senegal, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. Partial culprit? Ethanol production. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) assures us that all is well, so I have that going for me.

Advice? Stock up the pantry. That was a topic of conversation at the office today.

Gasoline thefts are rising. One of our neighbors reports having his vehicles siphoned twice.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the inflation index does not take into account either fuel or food.

"YOU'RE the vulgarian, you...."

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou

This was a bit of a surprise. [Also thanks to Amy Pawlak.] I thought it would be much higher. Heather rates out at zero, BTW.

Memed!

By Amy Pawlak, who hit me with the Six Word Memoir concept.

OK, here goes:

Everything He Never Knew He Wanted.

Providence: Getting The Hook Is Good.

What Was Up With Him, Anyway?

Rather Irritating, But Pretty Good Company.

OR

Even Victor Morton Found Him Obnoxious.


Tag yourself in the comment box. Best ones will get a post.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This is how the NHL will become the No. 1 sport.

We're overdue for an ice age, and they can come on quickly. Like, say, 20 years.

THE scariest photo I have seen on the internet is www.spaceweather.com, where you will find a real-time image of the sun from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, located in deep space at the equilibrium point between solar and terrestrial gravity.

What is scary about the picture is that there is only one tiny sunspot.

Disconcerting as it may be to true believers in global warming, the average temperature on Earth has remained steady or slowly declined during the past decade, despite the continued increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, and now the global temperature is falling precipitously.

All four agencies that track Earth's temperature (the Hadley Climate Research Unit in Britain, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, the Christy group at the University of Alabama, and Remote Sensing Systems Inc in California) report that it cooled by about 0.7C in 2007. This is the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record and it puts us back where we were in 1930. If the temperature does not soon recover, we will have to conclude that global warming is over.

There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that 2007 was exceptionally cold. It snowed in Baghdad for the first time in centuries, the winter in China was simply terrible and the extent of Antarctic sea ice in the austral winter was the greatest on record since James Cook discovered the place in 1770.

It is generally not possible to draw conclusions about climatic trends from events in a single year, so I would normally dismiss this cold snap as transient, pending what happens in the next few years.

This is where SOHO comes in. The sunspot number follows a cycle of somewhat variable length, averaging 11 years. The most recent minimum was in March last year. The new cycle, No.24, was supposed to start soon after that, with a gradual build-up in sunspot numbers.
It didn't happen. The first sunspot appeared in January this year and lasted only two days. A tiny spot appeared last Monday but vanished within 24 hours. Another little spot appeared this Monday. Pray that there will be many more, and soon.

The reason this matters is that there is a close correlation between variations in the sunspot cycle and Earth's climate. The previous time a cycle was delayed like this was in the Dalton Minimum, an especially cold period that lasted several decades from 1790.


I guess that qualifies as climate change. Looks like Zach's and my grand plan to relocate the families to the U.P. might be the very definition of a bad idea.

So, between global warming, the bee die-off, peak oil, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, antibiotic resistance, bird flu, the meltdown of the American financial system and now Ice Age 3: We're Screwed, any ideas?

With my big black boots and an old suitcase/
I do believe I'll find myself a new place/
I don't want to be the bad guy/
I don't want to do your sleepwalk dance anymore/
I just want to see some palm trees/
Go and try and shake away this disease/

We can live beside the ocean/
Leave the fire behind/
Swim out past the breakers/
Watch the world die

I think I'll play with the kids and hold my wife tonight. In fact, sounds like a good plan for the rest of my life. Which I suspect will not involve a front lawn glacier, no matter how long He sees fit to give me.

A Loring! A Loring! Saint George for England!

Happy feast of Saint George to you!

Especially to my little Louis George, who is almost 16 pounds of future dragonslayer at age 4 months.

I'll let Jay fill you in on the details.

Jeff has a good point.

The FLDS mothers and children are being punished for the sins of the fathers.

And the Texas foster care system is in dire need of overhaul.

Old time hockey! Eddie Shore!

Wings versus Avs in Round 2.

[Picture credit]
Video from the March 26 game here. Was it eleven years ago?
I don't think it's going to be the same, but it will still be fun.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Religion of...

Or, "Islam and this guy with a blog."

I've been working on this post for weeks, so bear with me.

I'm still studying the religion, and have only come to a score of "conclusions," all of which are works in progress. To my shame, I only started seriously studying it after the liberated Afghan "moderates" started baying for the head of our Christian brother, Abdul Rahman. "What in the--? Looks like I have some learning to do."

I've picked up a lot of books, come chirpily positive, and some grimly negative.

My thoughts, in no particular order after the first:

1. I still have a lot to learn. I lack the cultural background which provides valuable interpretive keys to the reading. The Koran is as alien to the West as the Bible is central to it. Which is not to say that the whole subject is a closed book that can never be understood, but rather means that I'd best reality-check myself periodically.

2. Reading the Koran has been accurately described as listening in on a conversation in which one of the parties does almost all the talking. There is little narrative or storytelling, though that does pop up in the text from time to time.

3. To echo Pope Benedict on the "Islam as Peace" claim: Islam has peaceful elements, and others, not so.

4. If you are at all curious about Islam, here's my Koran recommendation: the Yusuf Ali translation. Note that there are two, the most easily available version being from the Amana Corporation, a Sunni outfit. Ali was a Shi'ite (and a fascinating man of culture, to boot), and it is instructive to note the way the Amana translation "Sunnifies" the commentary. Note also that the Ali translation has been subject to thoughtful criticism. As always, 'ware the Saudis.

5. Related to #4: avoid the Ahmadiyya Korans, unless you are studying the Ahmadis. Not because they aren't lovely folks (they are), but because the pacifistic Ahmadis are considered heretics (and, yes, partially because of their pacifism, it must be said).

6. While the Koran is obviously central to Islam, the less-well-known ahadith (the so-called sayings and deeds of Muhammad) are absolutely essential to an understanding of the religion. Muslims have a term for "Sola Quranica" believers, and that term is "heretic."


For example, the Koran does not say how many times a day a Muslim should pray. The ahadith fill that "gap."

7. Affordable collections of the ahadith are very hard to find (Amazon having a surprisingly limited selection) and you are better off looking at eBay.

8. The most authoritative collections are by Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. Fortunately, you can find copies of these translated into English that don't involve budget busting--usually with the qualifier "Summarized" in the title. This means that it contains the most indisputable of the ahadith. Again, see eBay for collections.

9. Tragically, much of the ugly side of the religion is contained in the ahadith, especially the touting of aggressive, violent jihad. There are also some interesting details about the life and activities of Muhammad.

10. Here's your life of Muhammad, based on the earliest Muslim sources, via Oxford University Press.

11. Islam is a very law-oriented religion, meaning that jurisprudence is also essential to understanding it. The four schools of Sunni jurisprudence [madh'hab] agree on about 75% of the issues, and the Shafi'i manual, The Reliance of the Traveller, is readily available to English speakers on Amazon. Shi'ite schools don't differ appreciably from Sunni on most hot-button issues.

12. Jurisprudential manuals can be grim reading, too. E.g., apostasy is a death penalty crime in classical Islam. Period. The last execution for apostasy in the Ottoman Empire occurred in 1843, and this only stopped following severe European pressure to reform.

13. Anyone who says Islam hasn't offered invaluable contributions to the cultural patrimony of man is an idjit. Islamic art and architecture is stunning, and I strongly recommend the Turkish Iznik ceramic/tile tradition for your consideration (no, I *don't* own any, but it is undeniably beautiful). When you're tired of the gory headlines, look at the art. An entire civilization should not be judged by the worst behavior of its worst members.

14. Contrary to popular belief, Islam does have a sense of humor and wonder: the Arabian Nights. The ABC movie adaptation actually does a nice job of capturing the spirit of the work.

15. Read works by contemporary apologists for Islam with a critical eye, noting especially what is not being said. A frequently recurring argument: "The Quran does not say [hideous practice is fine]." Quite true. Critical follow-up, almost never asked: "do the ahadith/Islamic legal schools have anything to say about this practice?"
That's where the rubber hits the road. 'Ware the Saudis here again, especially if they are funding the scholarship in question. Oh, and avoid Karen Armstrong like a scorching dose of the clap.

16. The Persian apocalyptic messianists who run Iran and Hezbollah aside, I rather like the Shias. Shrines, pilgrimages, artistic depictions of martyrs, and other things which seem vaguely familiar.

17. PC sweet nothings will not help Islam solve its problems. In fact, it gives an excuse not to confront them. Non-Muslims will not help Islam solve its problems. Only Muslims will be able to do that. Don't let the good guys be bayonetted by those who are obsessive about trying to be nice to the noisy.

18. Then again, don't get upset with law enforcement when they don't spout the talking points you would prefer. Don't make your enemy bigger than he is, either in your imagination or by adding to his numbers by your own ineptitude.

19. A corollary to #16: there are interesting debates and discussions going on in the Islamic world. But only the grievance mongers get air time. Lazy religion journalists with well worn rolodexes are a pox upon the kingdom. In the Catholic world, we call this the McBrien Effect.

20. Beware using the taqiyya angle in evaluating statements by Muslims. Remember, the accusation is borderline unfalsifiable. Critical thinking will get you places suspicion of intrinsic falsehood won't.

21. Yusuf Muslim deserves the benefit of the doubt. Self-appointed spokesmen (coughcough *CAIR* coughcough) deserve your skepticism.

22. The powers that be need to be reminded--noisily--that there is no Islam Exception to the Establishment Clause.

23. Tu quoque is the Godwin's Law of discussions about Islam. He who says "But Christians do (or did) X (centuries ago)" has conceded the argument.

24. "Oh, Islam is just where we were X centuries ago, it needs time to get better" is an argument that makes everyone just a little bit dumber for having heard it. It also neatly contradicts the "Islam was so much more advanced in West during the Middle Ages" argument usually spouted by the same parrots. (1) We don't have centuries, and (2) no, it wasn't, at least to the extent alleged by the touters.

25. How much of a threat are the aggressive forms of Islam? I keep going back and forth on this one. Depends on (1) where and (2) what you mean by "threat."
To America, jihadi Islam and its fellow travellers are not an existential, nation-destroying threat. Which is not to say that it isn't dangerous. I think it's a near certainty we're going to take a catastrophic terrorist hit that makes 9/11 look like a candygram. But, no, we're not going to be looking at a caliphate in DC.

In fact, I think there is a distinct danger in overstating the Islamic threat done by otherwise sensible folks. I think our own excesses and problems are a much bigger danger in the medium term. Whatever else you can say about Islam, the local imam isn't trying to sell you a padded bra for your seven year old. I don't have to police my TV for something offensive by the nearby mosque. Obviously, certain forms of Islam have more than their share of...males with, er, issues, especially those educated by the Wahhabi franchise. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, I would gladly forbid my daughters to marry one.

If the contest is between bin Laden's Burqa Kingdom and Paris Hilton's ThongWorld, I hope they both lose. Badly. But ThongWorld is a lot more of a threat to republican virtue and long term national vitality.

Amy Pawlak incurs the wrath of the American Protective Association.

Reason? She calls Michelle Malkin's overheated commenters on their Catholic bashing.

Start here, then go here.

I'll disagree with the charitable Amy on one point--Malkin has some explaining to do with this canard:

"His [Pope Benedict XVI] primary concerns are not the sovereignty and security of our country. Open borders benefit Catholic churches looking to fill their pews and collection baskets. The Vatican and American bishops, led by radical L.A. Cardinal Roger Mahony, have long promoted immigration anarchy and lawlesness."

Let's unpack that opening statement a bit. Besides the yessirre, dirt-poor Latinos just ante up to the rafters every Sunday nonsense, that is.

American sovereignty is being threatened by the actions of the Pope, who wants to fill the pews with papists from way down south.


That's the old dual-loyalty charge, disinterred and waved at the papists. If you're with the Pope, you're against American sovereignty. I'm sorry, but the rabid commenters gone wild are taking their cues from the first paragraph.

I have my problems with the American bishops stance on immigration, which is high in muzzy-headedness and low in addressing the legitimate concerns of American citizens. I don't think a blanket amnesty is mandated by the Gospel, nor is building a border fence an affront to almighty God.

But flamethrowing like that seen in the Malkin comboxes is familiar. Catholics have heard this tune before and won't dance to it. Italians, anyone?




Benedict XVI and Roger Cardinal Mahony, leading the flock across the Rio Grande.

I don't believe for a minute that Michelle Malkin is an anti-Catholic. But she would do well to disassociate herself from rhetoric that is.

Oil could hit $180 a barrel in the next three years.

That's $5.50 a gallon for you and me.

Oooft.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Leo XIII.

Jeffrey raises a point that's a real puzzler:

"I'm amazed a cause for canonization hasn't been opened yet."

I agree. No cause at all? Do. Not. Get. It.

Many popes have had to confront the world. With Rerum Novarum, Leo XIII shaped it.

Add to this giving biblical scholarship a shot in the arm, opening doors to Eastern Christians and reviving Aquinas....

My bafflement continues.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Moment.

Didn't see the Papal Mass in DC, so I won't comment on it.

For me, the most important part of the trip so far was this. Good. Essential, in fact. A big thanks to Cardinal O'Malley for bringing this to the fore.

The Pope is throwing some heavy hints the American episcopate's way. Here's hoping they listen. Penance and restitution for the mangled lives of their victims would be a good start.

Acid Nostalgia Tripping.

Behold, the 1981 and 1982 Atari 2600 game catalogs.

Adventure was the bomb, and Circus Atari made my mom laugh her butt off when the acrobat missed and went splat. With agonized limbs still waving in the air. So, yes, my issues are genetic.

I think we are in agreement that Atari's sports games chewed the big green weasel?

It's unanimous.

The contemporary Odyssey system had a better football game (during which I used to beat commenter Bryan like a redheaded step-mule), and Intellivision was better everything. Colecovision was even better, but arrived on-scene shortly after the bubble burst.

Of course, Activision had the best 2600 games (River Raid, Pitfall), which was always an annoying head scratcher--Atari could do better, but didn't want to.

Enjoy--it will jolt parts of the brain you'd long since abandoned.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

This is the Faith, in two minutes.

This sums it up better than any blog post I will type. Bravo to the folks at Catholics Come Home.

[UPDATE: Here's a direct link to the video., which was on YouTube without authorization--I hope you were sitting down for the last part.]

Thanks to Diogenes for this find.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

McElvaineum.

Or, "Ignorance found to exist on the periodic table."

I have to say, I haven't been this entertained by distilled idiocy in a long time--"God as bi-sexual"!! Such pure comedy gold warrants plugging in the Fisk-o-Matic.

Robert McElvaine, professor of history at Millsaps College, cavort away! Dance, I say! Dance!

On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI asked the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray that his first visit to the United States as pontiff this week would "be a time of spiritual renewal for all Americans." Surely spiritual renewal would be beneficial to all of us -- not least the pope and his Church.

That's the last time we hear a hint that McElvaine and the enlightened solons like him might not be immaculately conceived. From here on in, Mac jabs his arugula-stained fingers solely at the superannuated German and his even more antique Church.

Benedict's visit is an appropriate time for American Catholics to call upon him to recognize that spiritual renewal, like charity, begins at home.

Mac has the makings of an argument here, based on the so-not-over child rape scandals, but like many in academia, he quickly shows that he's over that and remains fixated on matters priapic.

The pope must take action to revive a Church in desperate need of revolutionary renewal by pushing significant reform in the area of its largest failings: policies concerning women and sex. Faced in recent years with what may be its greatest crisis since the abuses of the Renaissance papacy five hundred years ago stimulated the Protestant Reformation, the Church has to seize the opportunity to reverse two thousand years of misguided views on women.

Errrrrrrrr....what? Is he suggesting that the scandals were the result of the fact that Catholicism isn't laid back enough about sex and "reproductive rights"? It's hard to say, but since he quickly wings his way to More Feminist Than Thou country and himself never comes back to the issue, I suspect the Professor knows this is a nonsensical non-starter.

This pope's history offers little hope that he will do so.

Try "no hope" and he's nailed it.

Pardon the brief diversion to
a musical interlude.

He was, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the principal author of the Vatican's 2004 letter to bishops, "On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World." In that document the Church once more chose to blame the victim rather than to examine its own major role in the problem.

At this point, I'd like to express my sympathy for the Professor, who suffers from the condition known as Encyclicitis. Encyclicitis is a fairly common psychosomatic condition seen most often in secular progressives. It manifests itself in itching and the irrational fear that one is about to be infected with celibacy or break out in festering corneal boils if one actually reads a Vatican document, as opposed to cherry-picking from it.

Modern feminism is the trouble, the old men who cling to power in Rome contend. "Faced with the abuse of power," the Vatican letter complained of feminism, "the answer for women is to seek power." Well, yes. And if the men of the Church--and men more generally--had not been abusing power for thousands of years, there would be no need for women to seek ways to redress the balance.

An advanced case. He probably had an intern read it for him. That's why he missed sections like this:

Without prejudice to the advancement of women's rights in society and the family, these observations seek to correct the perspective which views men as enemies to be overcome. The proper condition of the male-female relationship cannot be a kind of mistrustful and defensive opposition. Their relationship needs to be lived in peace and in the happiness of shared love.

On a more concrete level, if social policies – in the areas of education, work, family, access to services and civic participation – must combat all unjust sexual discrimination, they must also listen to the aspirations and identify the needs of all. The defence and promotion of equal dignity and common personal values must be harmonized with attentive recognition of the difference and reciprocity between the sexes where this is relevant to the realization of one's humanity, whether male or female.


Yep--we're all about keeping them in the kitchen against their will.


Where the hell's my sandwich?

Perhaps even more disturbing is the homily Cardinal Ratzinger gave on the day before the convening of the conclave that selected him as pope. He denounced a "dictatorship of relativism" that, he contended, threatens to undermine the fundamental teachings of Christianity.

In the age of Google-Fu, McElvaine apparently doesn't trust you to read this one for yourself.

Money grafs:


Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires.

We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An "adult" faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceipt from truth.

Sometimes, the patient doesn't like the diagnosis, and it appears that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has the good professor tacked to the wall. Try to discern in McElvaine's piece if there is any interest in Jesus apart from use as a good luck charm against "anti-progressives." Rotsa ruck, as the dog would say.

What Benedict XVI and other anti-progressive Catholics fail to realize is that the current teachings of the Church on a host of interrelated issues -- women priests, clerical celibacy, birth control, abortion, homosexuality, and, most basic of all, the sex of God -- are themselves the result of the Church at various times in the past having been, in Ratzinger's words the day before he became pope, "tossed and swept along by every wind of teaching" to conform to the practices and prejudices of societies now long gone.

This is a prime example of what I call "Nine Dollar Idiocy." What is that, you may be asking your good selves? Simple--a paperback Catechism has a list price of $9.

If you make a dumbass statement about Catholicism that doesn't even try to take into account the Catechism, you are engaging in NDI. Here, the foolery centers around such concepts as "Scripture," "Tradition," "Magisterium" and "Development of Doctrine." If you aren't going to try to learn the steps, don't bother coming to the dance.

"So's yer old man"/"I'm rubber, you're glue" may win you high-fives from co-religionists in the faculty lounge. But as David Niven so memorably said of the streaker at the Academy Awards, you are showing your shortcomings.

What Pope Benedict XVI should, but almost certainly will not, do is call a council of the Church to address these intertwined issues and to recognize that the Church's positions on them are not based on the teachings of Jesus.

Dear Lord, not another Vatican III tubthumper. Note also our first deployment of the Jesus Shield, and the continuing of the Nine Dollar Idiocy. Again, there is no interest in Jesus as such, just the flagging of the thought substitute of "Jesus never taught X, so I can Y my Z in/through/over/around ABC and/or exercising my rights as Z." I'll give the Professor this much--he's determined to spare us any contact with originality.

The Church established from the time of St. Paul onward was set up as a No-Woman's Land.

[Cue tinny laugh track.]

The general views on the inferiority of women come from Paul's interpretation of the literally incredible story of the creation of Eve from Adam,

Methinks as a good progressive, ProfMac has little truck with creation, miracles and the Resurrection, all of which strain credulity equally well. I'm not a 7-dayer or a young-earther, but I'd rather hang with them than with cultured despisers who see everything as an eternal power struggle against any form of received wisdom which is not approved by them.

Note also that he carefully avoids mentioning how the Church interprets Genesis, which would tend to derail his The Church Is Always And Everywhere Wrong Meme. Can't afford to concede any credibility to the old girl, right?

a story that men had made up to overcome their feelings of inferiority because of women's capacity to give birth.

My first belly laugh of the essay. And he knows this...how? I guess he borrowed Jim Carroll's time machine and went back to ask. Either that, or Progressives: Gifted With The Ability To Read The Minds of Safely Dead Patriarchal-Types. And Drunk Chicks. Yeah, they're just better than us in so many, many mystical ways.

The ban on women priests also emanates from Paul's reliance on Genesis

Wha--? Um, no. There have been no documented cases of eye boils--honest.

The reasoning is WDJD, actually.

The Declaration recalls and explains the fundamental reasons for this teaching, reasons expounded by Paul VI, and concludes that the Church "does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination." To these fundamental reasons the document adds other theological reasons which illustrate the appropriateness of the divine provision, and it also shows clearly that Christ's way of acting did not proceed from sociological or cultural motives peculiar to his time. As Paul VI later explained: "The real reason is that, in giving the Church her fundamental constitution, her theological anthropology-thereafter always followed by the Church's Tradition- Christ established things in this way."

In the Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem, I myself wrote in this regard: "In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. In doing so, he exercised the same freedom with which, in all his behavior, he emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, without conforming to the prevailing customs and to the traditions sanctioned by the legislation of the time."

In fact the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles attest that this call was made in accordance with God's eternal plan; Christ chose those whom he willed (cf. Mk 3:13-14; Jn 6:70), and he did so in union with the Father, "through the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:2), after having spent the night in prayer (cf. Lk 6:12). Therefore, in granting admission to the ministerial priesthood, the Church has always acknowledged as a perennial norm her Lord's way of acting in choosing the twelve men whom he made the foundation of his Church (cf. Rv 21:14). These men did not in fact receive only a function which could thereafter be exercised by any member of the Church; rather they were specifically and intimately associated in the mission of the Incarnate Word himself (cf. Mt 10:1, 7-8; 28:16-20; Mk 3:13-16; 16:14-15). The Apostles did the same when they chose fellow workers who would succeed them in their ministry. Also included in this choice were those who, throughout the time of the Church, would carry on the Apostles' mission of representing Christ the Lord and Redeemer.

There's nary a citation to either Paul or Genesis in the whole thing. Deep down, some people just have to enjoy being wrong.

and from the Early Church Fathers' rejection of the role of women around Jesus and particularly the centrality of Mary Magdalene as one equal to St. Peter.

Lord, this is tiring. Again, NO. Mary was revered as the Apostle to the Apostles by the Fathers. The fact that Gregory the Great screwed it up doesn't mean that she was being trashed in toto.

"Equal to St. Peter"? Danger, Will Robinson--Dan Brown Brainkiller Radiation detected.

Priestly celibacy was not established as a requirement until the Middle Ages and was based on the belief that women are unclean because they menstruate

Yeah. I'm certain that's exactly what it was based on. Let's unpack this particularly pungent brain-fart (snorkels ready? Good!). He's saying priestly celibacy--the idea that men who are ordained as priests may not have sex--was based upon the fact that women menstruate.

Mmm-kay.

The best thing I can say for this reasoning is that he must have been distracted by a shiny object while typing. It happens.

Not usually for an entire hour, but it happens.

Even though I know his thesis is nonsense, I can't believe anyone (without associate professor/professor-groupie status) could buy this lobotomy-with-a-URL. It would be like coming across a self-identified Muslim who claimed that Muhammad advocated the consumption of slivered ham and that mead is the lost Islamic sacrament.

Does...not...compute...

(another indication of the envy of female capacities that is the root of all the restrictions men place on women).

You know, I'm sure this line worked on the co-eds back when he was an undergrad, but now all I can hear is Butt-head chuckling and saying "Hey, baby. I en-vy you. Come to Butt-head."

When Thomas Aquinas declared in the thirteenth century that "woman is defective and misbegotten," he was echoing Paul, Genesis, and Aristotle -- not Jesus.

Here's Aquinas on women, which is not (surprise) as bad as Professor Prooftext makes him out to be. Note also that the Church does not cling (to use the popular word) to Aquinas as the unquestioned authority in all things. See, e.g., Conception, The Dogma of the Immaculate.

Oh, and Jesus never said anything about me whizzing in history department coffee pots, either. Not that that means anything, necessarily.

Bottoms up.

The Church's opposition to birth control and to abortion even early in pregnancy is largely an outgrowth of its all-male composition and those males' attempts to degrade women's physical powers by asserting that women and the intercourse into which they putatively tempt men are necessary evils ("It is well for a man not to touch a woman," Paul instructed the Christians of Corinth), the only purpose of which is procreation.

Professor McElvaine is to theology what Fred Phelps is to gay rights. Here are the relevant verses of 1 Corinthians 7 (you do know there were two letters "to the Christians of Corinth," right?):

1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

6 Now as a concession,
not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

Yep--unadulterated, one-size-fits-all, sex-fearing, patriarchal domination.

The condemnation of homosexuals is based entirely on Old Testament rules established by men who feared anything that placed in question their insistence on the polarity of the sexes.

Entirely. If you take whiteout to Rom 1:24-27, 1 Cor 6:9 (remember he was citing the letter just a few sentences back) and 1 Tim. 1:10, it's all gone. And polarity of the sexes is a...telling formulation. Telegraphing the crowning silliness of the article.

The idea that God is solely male is the work of the Church Fathers who chose which gospel accounts to include in the official New Testament and excluded all the Gnostic Gospels that contain references to an androgynous God, and of the bishops who met at Constantinople in 381 and modified the Creed to say that the Holy Spirit is male.

Thank you, Pope Dan. The stupidity is so concentrated at this point that it bends light.

Well, for starters, there's this thing he made reference to earlier called the "Old Testament." It uses "he" and "father" in reference to the Almighty. In fact, if he had the remotest suspicion of a clue about which he was prattling, he would know that there are similes in the OT he could have deployed in his cause. In fact, reference is made to them in the Catechism--section 239, to be exact.

To the rest of the goofball jumbalaya, I can only reply with questions: which Church fathers? When? Why is the much-touted Gnostic drivel authoritative? Who wrote it and why? Cite your Gnostic supporting texts (and I'll ante with the Gospel of Thomas 114). Demonstrate that the change at I Constantinople was to call the Holy Spirit "male." That this blustering buffoon managed to get a book contract is proof positive that I'm driving down the wrong streets--the ones where the advances are tossed through every open window. And a few closed ones, like the Professor's.

The idea that a Creator could be of only one sex is absurd on its face.

Actually, Catholicism teaches that saying the Creator is of any "sex" is absurd, but that won't stop a gold-plated ignoramus with an agenda to push:

239 By calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father.

Yet this nonsensical belief, which actually diminishes God, has been one of the main bases for the subordination of women and values associated with them -- precisely the values taught by Jesus -- throughout the history of the Church.

You mean the same Jesus who taught us the OUR FATHER?

But, on the other hand, worshipping the Great Big Hermaphrodite in the Sky is the essence of common sense?


Keep digging. That heat you're feeling is called "the mantle."

The bottom line is that none of the Church's positions on women and sex come from the teachings of Jesus.

And if there's one thing we've learned from this little excursion, it's that he is the very soul of infallibility, and not to be questioned.

Oh, and

**Coughcough DIVORCE coughcough**

Of course, it's up to him to prove that it has to come from Jesus, or IT DOESN'T COUNT. But I felt compelled to point out that he's wrong yet again.

All of them are the products of the very relativism that the current pope decries.

He's Trojan, you're glue--

Oops. Wrong rubber.

The relativism of an earlier day has become the dogma of today.

Robert McElvaine is, in fact, a maroon armadillo. Both of our confidently-stated-yet-unsupported declarations are equally valid.

A popular hymn asserts that the Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ. The truth, however, is that since the early centuries of the religion that took up the name of Christianity, the Church's one foundation has been male insecurity and its consequent subordination of women. Peter may have been the rock upon which Jesus sought to build his Church, but the rock upon which those who built Christianity in the early centuries after Jesus was the misogyny of their societies. Benedict XVI needs to lead the Church in a true revolution: a circling back to the actual teachings of Jesus and away from the perversions of those teachings by the early Church Fathers and their successors.

The Church's one foundation/
Is misogyny...

Nope--loses the meter.

The reign of error continues. Let's see--the very Church Fathers who were closest in time were the most likely to pervert it, but those two millenia after the fact in cultures even more removed from 1st Century Galilee can understand the "real" message with perfect clarity.

Anachronism, anyone?

During the second week of his papacy in 1978, John Paul I sensibly declared that God "is a Mother as well as a Father." Eighteen days later John Paul I was dead, only 33 days after his election. Despite that unfortunate example

John Paul I was whacked for saying what the Catechism essentially says. Sheesh-- behold the 9/28 Hermaphroditophile Truther.

and his own stance against desperately needed reform, Benedict XVI owes it to Catholics to take the bold steps needed to break the hold on the Church of earlier flings with relativism and to bring the institution he heads into line both with the needs of the modern world and with the teachings of Jesus.

Here endeth the lesson.

BlogPoll Review.

Favorite Byzantine Emperors/Empresses

Oh, no, not the Byzantium thing. 16 votes.
--I've addressed your blinkered, philistine pig-ignorance before. Rotating knives, yes.

Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118). 3 votes.
--Just three? A great emperor, and his biography is still in paperback, written by the equally-remarkable but never-empress Anna Comnena.

Basil I (867-886). 2 votes.
Harry Turtledove has fictionalized his remarkable life in the Krispos of Videssos books. The great rags-to-riches story of the Empire.

Basil II the Bulgar-Slayer (976-1025). 5 votes.
I'm not the Basil-phile I used to be: he dramatically, and I think mistakenly, changed the course of the Empire from East to West. While a successful and competent general, he was hyper-cautious. And he never secured a succession for the Macedonian dynasty. Oh, and he probably did not blind 15,000 Bulgar soldiers after the Battle of the Kleidon Pass. The first account of this event dates from the 12th Century, and cuts against every past policy of the Empire, which was to enlist and resettle defeated enemies. It would have been regarded as a staggering, stupid waste.

Constans II (641-668). 2 votes.
The true initiator of the thematic "land for soldiers" system and the last emperor to visit Rome. OK, the martyrdom of Pope St. Martin weighs in the debit ledger.

Constantine IV (668-685). 2 votes.
Probably the main reason you aren't going to Friday prayers at the mosque. Also convened the Second Council of Constantinople.

Constantine V (741-775). 1 vote.
I guess there's a little gore-caked iconoclast in everyone. His nickname--Copronymous--or Dung-name--stems from the allegation that he took a dump during his baptism.

Constantine VII (913-959). 2 votes.
Poor kid didn't actually get the chance to rule until 945, and he had a wife forced upon him by his sorta-usurping father in law, Romanus I. But a decent ruler and his writings give essential insight into 10th Century Byzantine life.

Constantine XI (1449-1453). 6 votes.
The Last Emperor, and a tragic hero.

Heraclius (610-641). 6 votes.
One of the Great Captains, his stunning victory over Persia is eclipsed by the eruption of Islam. Accused of passivity in the face of the Islamic threat, it is essential to note that Byzantium survived and Persia did not.

Irene (797-802). 1 vote.
The first reigning empress, she's hard to love. Blinding your own son will do that for your reputation.

John I Tzimiskes (969-976). 2 votes.
The greatest of the soldier-emperors, the Abbasid Caliphate probably thought it caught a break when he assassinated Nicephorus II. The Caliphate was wrong. His armies reached Nazareth, and he was contemplating an invasion of Egypt when he died. More than likely assassinated, if he'd lived another 10 years, the history of the Near East would have been changed beyond recognition.

John II Comnenus (1118-1143). 3 votes.
Another case of "he died too young." The greatest of the Comneni and a fine human being. His sister, Anna the historian, despised him for the temerity of being born and ruining her chances at the throne. She plotted against him, the plan being to install her husband as emperor. The irony is that the husband probably ratted out the conspiracy. Whatever is the case, John II treated the plotters with remarkable leniency.

John III Vatatzes (1221-1254). 2 votes.
The greatest of the Nicean Emperors in exile, he understood economics better than most Byzantines and made the Nicean rump state a force to be reckoned with and the eventual victor in the Constantinople Sweepstakes. He is revered as a saint by the Orthodox.

John VI Cantacuzenus (1347-1354). 1 vote.
Fine soldier, learned theologian, along with being a brave, intelligent and virtuous man, he also signed the death warrant of the Empire with his alliance with the Ottoman Turks.

Justinian I (527-565). 6 votes.
The Last Roman. It wasn't his conquests that weakened the empire (though his wars in Italy were fought on a paranoid shoestring)--t'was the plague.

Justinian II (685-695, 705-711). 1 vote.
The comeback kid! Actually, an object lesson in giving your child too hi-falutin' a name. He tried to do too much with too little (the Empire was a stable patient, not recovered) and dealt with his enemies by killing them in large numbers. Real and imagined. Also the subject of a Harry Turtledove (pen name H.N. Turteltaub) work, this time straight historical fiction.

Leo III (717-741). 2 votes.
Yeah, yeah--an iconoclast. But not as psycho about it as his son. Another saver of the collective Western bacon, fending off the Arab siege of 717-18.

Leo VI (the Wise) (886-912). 4 votes.
The Byzantine Henry VIII, with one caveat--his first three wives all died of natural causes. The Orthodox are opposed to third weddings, regardless of reason, but he went for a fourth (after his mistress gave birth to a son, the future Constantine VII). And got it. But only after outlawing third marriages in his reissued law code, the promulgation of which gave him the sobriquet "the Wise."

Also, while he was the legal son of Basil I, it is all too likely that he was the biological son of Michael III. Basil agreed to marry Michael's mistress to keep her close by at court and to supress scandal. A grubby little arrangement, to be sure.


Manuel I Comnenus (1143-1180). 3 votes.
The Knight-Emperor, and the last monarch of Byzantium as a great power. Too flighty in his foreign policy, he addressed the wrong problems at the wrong time.

Manuel II Paleologus (1391-1425). 10 votes.
Yes, yes, the Pope's speech. A genuinely great man and leader, he should have been born about fifty years earlier. As it was, he had too few cards to play, but he played them as well as he could.

Michael III (the Drunkard) (842-867). 6 votes.
That's right, this is a blog frequented by Papists. And not, very likely, fans of this "last" member of the Amorian dynasty. A sot and a doofus, but well advised for the most part. Murdered by Basil I, he probably had a posthumous revenge in Leo VI.

Michael VIII Paleologus (1259-1282). 1 vote.
Called the new Constantine for his rebuilding of Constantinople after its recovery, his reputation is stained by the blinding of John IV Laskaris, his ward, and his squandering of the Nicean recovery on his battles in the west.

Nicephorus II Phocas (963-969). 2 votes.
The soldier-monk and the "White Death of the Saracens." Despite success on the battlefield, he was as popular as tooth decay and had a knack for making enemies. Including his nephew and assassin, John I.

Romanus I Lecapenos (919-944). 1 vote.
The Nice Usurper, he was the genuine protector of the young Constantine VII. Constantine's biggest complaint was that his father-in-law wouldn't give him a big enough budget for his artistic and scholarly work.

Romanus IV Diogenes (1067-1071). 2 votes.
Known to history as the defeated commander at Manzikert, he lost because he was betrayed by an imperial rival. He correctly diagnosed the decay of Byzantine power and was in the process of remedying it when he was defeated.

Theophano. 1 vote.
The wife of two emperors (Romanus II and Nicephorus II), mother of two more (Basil II and Constanine VIII) and lover of a fifth (John I), she was a stunningly beautiful innkeeper's daughter who caught the eye of Romanus II. When he died young after a shockingly short reign, there were whispers that she was behind it. Pure slander, as it appears that they were devoted to each other. Moreover, it would have been stupid as she had no other friends at court by virtue of her commoner status. Her marriage to Nicephorus was one of convenience and protection for her two young sons. Given Nicephorus' ascetism, it probably wasn't too demanding. She was in it up to her eyeballs conspiring in the murder of Nicephorus. It didn't take much prodding for John I to shunt her aside after he was crowned.

Theodora (Justinian I) 3 votes.
Immortalized at Ravenna, she is one of the remarkable figures of Western history, let alone Byzantium. Steely determination during the Nike Riots, loving to her husband (sadly, their one son was stillborn--and ignore Procopius' poison pen) and absolute death on child molesters, Theodora is one for the ages. Justinian never quite recovered his administrative verve after her death, likely from cancer.

Theodora (Restorer of Icons). 18 votes.
Unless I've had a stunning influx of Orthodox readers, yeah, right--like you know who she was. Her decision to restore icons in 843 is still celebrated in Orthodoxy, and also by art aficionados everywhere. Rightly venerated as a saint by the Orthodox.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Peripatetic.

Steve Skojec and Jeffrey Smith have moved yet again.

Unleash the messenger pigeons.

Yay! 3-10!

Tigers win first home game of the season last night.

Yes, the bullpen has been as bad as anticipated. But the starters have been off and the lads have been swinging bats made of balsa. All of which is the perfect recipe for a heapin' helpin' of ugly.

For some reason, this raises a degree of sympathy for the Senator.

Barack Obama's San Francisco-Democrat comment last week – about how alienated working-class voters "cling to guns or religion" – is already famous. But the fact that his aides tell reporters he is privately bewildered that anybody took offense is even more remarkable.

As a husband, I spend time each month puzzling over how I managed to offend my much better half *this time*.

The Pope's here! Everybody look busy.

For all of your Benedict in America needs, check out Chris Blosser and Thomas Peters.

I understand Fr. Sarducci will be on hand to sell his patented "Pope on a Rope Soap" and that a delegation of last minute tax preparers will be seeking general absolution.

More seriously, another commenter noted that he seems younger now than before he was elected Pope. I think he's right, and I think it testifies to the fact he really did not like being "Der Enforcer." Now he can be more like himself, so to speak.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Insight.

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."


--Barack Obama.

Thank you, Lord, for finally sending a prophet who understands us small town Cro-Magnons. Yes, we'd drop the guns, god-bothering and intrinsic xenophobia in a heartbeat if we only had a new federal jobs agency ensconced at the thorp hall. Not to mention a federal denture program and counselling on how to select mates from outside the extended family. In fact, a lot more of us would probably be gay and/or eat Whole Foods arugula.

I'm just baffled by how the kid raised in Hawaii with the Ivy League education acquired such intuitive knowledge about the wood-burners who live in Deliverance country. A mystery for this website, no doubt.

I don't know about you, but I prefer my candidates to come equipped without the "High Octane Marxist Cant" option.

Investment Tip of the Month: The companies that printed up the "1-20-09" bumperstickers. At the rate the Dems are pissing away their advantages in this election, there's going to be a serious market for "1-20-13."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Shaidle's War.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Thank you, God, for letting me be born American.

Help Kathy Shaidle in her legal battle against Canadian litigiholic Richard Warman.


Richard Warman in repose.




Oh, and this is funny:



Good for Japan.

Japan will not allow the squad of Chinese flame guards to intervene with the Beijing Olympic torch's progress when it arrives in a Japanese city this month, the national police head was quoted as saying on Friday. From what I've read, Japanese police are not to be tangled with.

Though the Chinese are right to be upset about this one. That does not cover the Tibetan protesters in glory.

Four. Years.

Texas authorities knew about this abusive polygamist cult for that long and didn't act until now.

Doran said it was not until after the raid began that he learned that the sect was, in fact, marrying off underage girls at the compound and had a bed in its soaring limestone temple where the girls were required to immediately consummate their marriages. Also, investigators say a number of teenage girls there are pregnant.

Authorities in Texas suspected there would be trouble ever since members of the renegade Mormon splinter group - the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - bought an exotic game ranch in Eldorado in 2004 and began building the ranch.

Warren Jeffs, the sect's prophet and spiritual leader at its longtime headquarters in the dusty, side-by-side towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., was charged in 2005 and 2006 with forcing underage girls into marriages there. He was convicted in September in Utah of being an accomplice to rape and is serving up to life in prison.

Doran had been making occasional visits to the Eldorado compound - he even called to tell members of Jeffs' capture in 2006 - but he said he saw nothing to warrant a criminal investigation. Most of those milling around the compound would scatter when he and a Texas Ranger visited, he said.

"You can only press someone so far without having a criminal investigation going on," the sheriff said. "This group doesn't openly talk and they do not openly answer questions."


SOUNDS LIKE YOU'VE HAD PROBABLE CAUSE FOR AT LEAST TWO YEARS, YOU JERK. MAGISTRATES WILL FLING SIGNED SEARCH WARRANTS LIKE GIs THREW HERSHEY BARS.

Hope you can live with all those shattered girls' lives on your conscience, you horse's ass. Push your legislator, notify the feds. DO SOMETHING.

Yeah, yeah--stale evidence, etc. The point is, nobody even tried to address it until one of the girls made a rape accusation. A collective looking the other way by a whole lot of people tasked with the job for looking out for the girls' welfare. Sickening.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Great stories about McCain the man.

First, from Gerald about McCain's devotion to his dying friend and mentor, Democratic Rep. Mo Udall.

Second, an interview with his son, Midshipman Jack McCain. I'd like to have been a fly on a nearby cactus for this conversation:

In further defense of his dad’s health, Jack enjoys telling the story about how he and his dad hiked the Grand Canyon last summer.

“He hiked 30 miles…9 down, 15 across and 6 up in two days. We started out on the North Rim [of the Grand Canyon] and made it to the South Rim. If age is ever an issue [just think of] 30 miles, two days, in 115 degree heat…and carrying a back-pack as well. And my dad doesn’t have any cartilage in his knees.”

One of the most memorable parts of the excursion, especially for a political science major, was being able to listen to his dad talk about “any period in history.”

“…If you start in China and head all the way to the United States, he knows about it. We probably had a four-hour conversation about the Ottoman Turks.”


I'll bet the Senator has a favorite Byzantine Emperor. The cognoscenti usually do.

Just sayin'.

Update.

FYI, I took the previous prayer request post down. It's done all the good (and a genuine lot of it) it's going to do, and more harshness came through than I wanted it to.

He's a man with genuine virtues, and I'm reminded that those who are the hardest to pray for are usually those who need it the most. Following Jesus on the path of mercy and forgiveness can be a real struggle. Not that we should ever excuse bad behavior, but it should at least shape my approach to it.

A ray of light--I've been told he took a plea. Here's hoping a corner has begun to turn.

Thanks to all who have offered prayer and other assistance.

Four votes for "Oh, no..."

Yes, I have your number.

Yes, Heather is one of the votes.

Philistines.

What do you people want?!

The loss of a marvel.

And now for a dose of melancholy: the decay of the once-grand Michigan Central Depot.

All of this has happened in the last 20 years.

To have seen this city in its prime...

Just a neat story.

Click here to see a grown lion react to the woman who rescued him from death's door as a cub.

Thanks, Shelly.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I call BS.

You know, I've been trying to avoid this whole Jeremiah Wright brouhaha. To be honest with you, I'm conflicted and more than a little sympathetic, so I decided to say bupkis. But then Rich links to this, and it's time to sortie the fleet.

Jeremiah Wright is not typical of anything but his small strain of black liberation theology.

To even suggest that he is emblematic of the "black church" in toto is poisonous stereotyping.

First, let me have have that brief, honest conversation about race here. Whitey, get off your high horse. Are black folks susceptible to conspiracy theorizing? Sure. More so than others? I don't know about that.

Americans in general are a somewhat paranoid lot, perhaps understandable given that many fled here to escape various clutching tyrannies. Also, I seem to remember lots of white folks spinning conspiracy yarns with Bill Clinton at the center in the 1990s. Some of which were embarrassing beyond words. In fact, if you added up all the time necessary for Bubba to be involved in each of them, he wouldn't have had a spare second to turn an intern into a humidor.

Moreover, the black experience in America has been one of being subjected to grand conspiracies, with the effects up close and personal, bloody, demeaning and brutal. Often by people who escaped from tyrants themselves. History loves her some irony.

Which is why Mike Huckabee is 100% right--Caucasoids need to get more chill pill prescriptions and cut a lot more slack. Fine--a slight paraphrase on my part. Still, the premise is inarguable--try walking at least a few steps in the other guy's shoes before going into nuclear dudgeon. Just because America has made great strides regarding race does not mean the Great Color-Blind Future is upon us. It wasn't that long ago we didn't let human beings with the "wrong" pigment into our restaurants or schools. It wasn't all that long ago, as history marks it, that we said it was just fine to sell them. That will leave scars. Oh, and let's also not pretend that old racist habits are so easily broken, eh, fellow honkies?

Original sin and miles to go. Many, many miles to go.

But.

All of that is different from claiming this:

But the uproar over the rhetoric of Wright is largely a result of America's unfamiliarity with the history and language of the black church.

Or this:

The black church's language is the language and worldview of a people who have been at the margins of social power - a symbolic language, not a literal language. Words seldom have a one-to-one correspondence with events. Black religious language is inherently evocative, hyperbolic and impassioned - aimed more toward devotion than debate. It is intended to convey divine ecstasy and anger to parishioners, not dialogue among pundits.

Translation: it's a black thing, you wouldn't understand.

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

Essentially, he's using a blanket stereotype to defend Wright's hateful rhetoric. I'll give him chutzpah points, sure. But, as is usually the case, the stereotype is crap.

Off the top of my head, I can think of three prominent, successful black metro Detroit church leaders who wouldn't routinely deploy racialist rhetoric or have spread conspiracy theories from the pulpit or expressed glee over 9/11 (both conspicuously absent from Prof. Clark's apologia. Moving across the spectrum from left to right they are: Fellowship Chapel's Wendell Anthony, Perfecting Church's Marvin Winans and Word of Faith's Keith Butler. Nope. Can't picture any of them doing that. Let's go national--how about T.D. Jakes? Picture him preaching about the government unleashing AIDS? The U.S. of KKK-A? Me neither.

Sure, let's have that authentic conversation and reconciling dialogue. It's overdue. Let's leave all of our comforting assumptions and stereotypes at the door, too.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Charlton Heston, Rest in Peace.

I'm a proud gun owner, so I was delighted when Charlton Heston became President of the NRA (which, BTW, is more ceremonial than anything--the Executive VP is the day to day guy).

But, lest we forget, that wasn't the only political activism with which he proudly associated himself.



Libertas sums him up well.

More glimpses of the man here, in this Richard Dreyfuss tribute to Heston, and a letter he penned to the Weekly Standard about Shakespeare.

For me, this fact stands out: he was married to the same woman for 64 years, and she was at his bedside when he died. That's both a blessing and hard work, speaking volumes.

So...

...the stairs have been replaced. Upgraded is more like it. Look really good, too, if I say so myself.

My mom and dad are back from Arizona and marvelled at their grandkids in a visit on Friday. Dad strongly approves of the minivan, having cobbled together an excuse to borrow the keys and take it for a spin.

The correct answer to the module question is "Q1, Queen of the Demonweb Pits."

So, anything happen while I was gone?

Friday, April 04, 2008

It's a dystopia, you twit.

[Expect a series of book reviews to follow over the next couple of weeks.]

Looking a feel good beach read for the summer? A nice, light lark? Something to make you laugh? A Cary-Granty/Katherine-Hepburny thing?

Well, then


is NOT the book for you.

Caliphate is 1984 for the Blackberry Generation, an insistent, over-the-top and bellowing demand for the Western world to wake the hell up. If I could summarize it in a modified proverb, it is this: an ounce of even semi-benign prevention is worth a megaton of vengeful "cure."

Caliphate is actually three stories in one, with an essay by the author at the end. The bulk of it follows three protagonists, one American and two Germans (though Deutschland no longer exists as such), who live in the first decade of the grim 22nd Century. The American is a graduate of the Imperial (yes, you read that right) Military Academy at West Point, first a soldier then a spy; the Germans are a brother and sister who are literally Catholic dhimmis in the European Caliphate of the title, with the brother a forced inductee into the Janissaries and the sister being sold off for prostitution (after an interval with a decent Muslim father and daughter).

The second story (described with the header "Interlude") follows two residents of Germany, one Egyptian-born and one native, from 2003 through 2021. The Egyptian emigrated to escape Islam while the native is a devout believer in multiculturalism and a reflexive despiser of America.

The third book is called "Excursis," and is the shortest. It sits right in the middle of the narrative and explains the transition from our world to the hell of the 22nd Century. The following is a summary:

The pivot point is September 11, 2015, when Boston, Kansas City and Los Angeles are destroyed by nuclear weapons smuggled in by Islamic terrorists. Four other nuclear weapons either "fizzle" as dirty bombs or fail to detonate at all. By the time the fallout settles, 4 million Americans are dead. For what happens next, Kratman relies heavily on this essay by Lee Harris, who argues that such a catastrophic event would awaken America the Ruthless. Remember the America that firebombed Dresden and Tokyo?

Now picture that America with SLBMs.

The election of 2016 sees the landslide election of President Pat Buckman (yes, Kratman avoids the subtle), who campaigned with the catchphrase "Those motherf---ers are going to pay."

As it turns out, the MFers are more than the nations supplying both the terrorists and support for same--it includes the domestic hard left as well. An...inventive use of the Presidential pardon power results in the summary execution of hundreds (most notably a professor named "Montgomery Chamberlain"--again, hint, hint, along with a dig at a "Mark Moulas"), the Constitution is amended seven more times, Muslims are rounded up and deported and hundreds of thousands of Americans flee abroad, most to Canada, which proves to be only a temporary refuge.

On September 2019, following an ultimatum to the Islamic world and North Korea, the Tridents fire and a 200-to-1 vengeance is wrought for the Three Cities Attack. Canada unwisely takes in a huge number of Muslim refugees, some of whom successfully stage a retaliatory raid across the border...

By 2113, the title of President is better understood as "Augustus," as a de jure American Empire rules the Western Hemisphere, either directly or through Latin satellites. Other allies include Britain, Japan, Australia and the Phillipines (which is in the process of annexation and the ethnic cleansing of its Moro population). In fact, it's safe to say that Kratman's American Empire is a deliberate tall finger of fellowship extended to leftists who reflexively prattle on and on about America as an imperial force.

"You want to see an American Empire, you Chomsky-addled little....OK. I'll show you what a *real* American Empire looks like." And it's ugly.

In the rest of the 22nd Century world, we see that the Chinese have reinstituted the Celestial Kingdom, the Russians have a Tsar, and Boers (leavened by bitter ethnic European exiles) run South Africa again (a whiff of the Domination, methinks). The non-radioactive parts of the traditional lands of Islam have a Caliph, as does the former Western Europe, which was swamped by Muslim refugees. In a shocker, the Balkans are a war zone, this time between the Euro Caliphate and the Russian Empire. Switzerland survives as a permanent garrison state, leveraging its financial capital status to maintain forces sufficient to hold off its hostile neighbor.

All of the large nations are in a state of war with each other--the only question is whether the bullets and bombs are actually flying. While still the strongest power, the American Empire is shackled by the burden of maintaining a massive military, and questions are finally being asked (without reprisal) about whether the damage done to the national soul and heritage is worth the security.

Oh, and the remainder of the book involves the American spy trying to infiltrate a Caliphate biological warfare project that is engineering a potentially world-killing version of smallpox.

Whew.

With a book like Caliphate, you are drawn to it more for the premise than the actual plot of the book. You could blurb it as "Imagine military sci-fi written by Lee Harris and Mark Steyn!"

But is it any good? Yeah, it's fine, a sturdy what-if technothriller/cautionary tale. The villains are pretty much indistinguishable, the American hero is likeable if a little flat. However, the characterizations of the tragic dhimmis and the two protagonists in the Interludes are very good. One of the minor characters, a general in Chinese intelligence with an interesting secret, has some of the best lines and the only comic relief. As I said, it is a very grim world. Some parts seem to be clear homages to Steve Stirling's Under The Yoke, though it's clear Kratman didn't care for the ending of that one. As the topic indicates, it is leavened a lot of violence and a considerable amount of sex, not all of the latter consensual, so consider yourself warned.

As to the morality of the premise, Kratman makes it crystal clear that he's not revelling in the world he has created. That's critical. If reading The Iron Dream has taught me nothing else, it's to watch out for bloody-minded mean streaks in sci-fi. A frequently repeated line by various of the 22nd Century characters is "what a sh---y world." It is also clear that a century of pitiless warfare has warped the societies in which the characters have been raised and warped them in the process. If the Muslims are portrayed as fatalistic, so are the Americans, who excuse their brutality by claiming that they have no choice. Evil acts are depicted as evil, regardless of whether the bad guys or the less-bad bad guys are doing them. Muslims are portrayed sympathetically (one of whom behaves in a saintly manner). Buckman is described as a gore-caked monster, and America's retaliation as the greatest mass-murder in history. It is a world far more congenial to the old paganism than it is to Christianity. In fact, there's a suggestion that Norse paganism has seen a revival.

Is it remotely plausible? Well...that depends on what you think of the accuracy of the Steyn thesis and the figures he's basing them on. As has been pointed out by commenters here, Steyn's figures are questionable, to put it politely. Kratman speeds Islamization along by swamping Europe with refugees from the American slaughter. I'm willing to excuse plausibility problems in direct proportion to the quality of the writing, and Kratman can spin a good yarn. I'll say that Europe sure seems to like its snooze bar.

Plot holes/errors: Again, depends on where you fall on the Steyn thesis. Unless I missed it (quite possible), the resolution of the Iraq War is left unexplained. While a savage response to a nuclear attack is likely, I don't know that America would go the full Buckman. How the Caliphate would be able to support a remotely plausible biological warfare program after a century of decline (their cellphone network went kaput before the start of 22nd century) is dubious. Indeed, the basis for the economic viability of the Caliphate is not at all clear. Furthermore, the Caliphate has had nukes for a long time--why didn't it try to fight fire with fire? One of the characters has a Marcionite understanding of the Old Testament which was a little grating. Oh, and this--China and Russia are on the same demographic railway Western Europe is, so how powerful would they be when the book kicks off?

Finally, the real villains of the book aren't Muslims. They are leftist multiculturalists, or what Kratman terms "transnational progressives," specifically those who thwart any credible assimilation efforts, back down before the bullying of Muslim extremists and betray the moderates at the drop of a hat. For all the thermonuclear fire in the book, Kratman's recommendations in the concluding essay are common-sense and moderate: boot out the extremists and assimilate the rest. The latter requires (1) forthright protection of Muslim women, (2) offering genuine economic opportunity to those in the ghettos and (3) unrelenting defense of real national virtues. He's not optimistic about this happening in Europe, and the trends aren't good.

Take. Read. Promises to be a real argument starter for 2008.

And you call yourselves geeks.

I'm taking away your nerd cards and slide rules.

Which module is missing from the poll right next door?

It's as obvious as the tape on your glasses, yet none of you caught it.

I'm so ashamed.

The Liturgy for the Blessing of a Minivan.

Sheepcat tells of this brilliant find.

It is missing something--the dismissal Finding of the Fries of Indeterminate Age in Sundry Nooks and Crannies. Other than that, though, dead on.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Interesting change.

No pun intended.

Sheepcat sends (OK--*sent* weeks ago) word that Exodus, the controversial "ex-gay" movement, is trying a new but faithful (think Courage) approach on same-sex attraction issues.

More light, less heat. Sounds good!