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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Under construction.



Here she (I'm pretty certain she's a girl) is as of March 25. Yep, the Feast of the Annunciation, as fitting time as any to get an ultrasound, don't you think?

Oh, and here are the names, settled upon as of this weekend. Elizabeth Christina or Michael Thomas, on the off-chance Louis gets a male sidekick and accomplice.

Hilary once said that by 2050 or so, 40% of English-speaking Catholics would be named Culbreath, Price or Skojec. I think she might be right.

Monday, March 30, 2009

GM and Chrysler's stay of execution.

I'm of a couple different minds on this one, especially chopping Wagoner. Even the reliably-liberal Detroit Free Press editorial board is balking at that.

President Barack Obama’s Auto Task Force may have crossed that line over the weekend, when it asked for GM Chairman Rick Wagoner’s resignation and demanded that Chrysler link up with Fiat in 30 days, or give up on any more government aid.

It’s hard to see how either move is far shy of actually running the businesses. And if that’s the case, if the auto companies’ federal overseers have decided they’ll make managerial as well as financial decisions, this sets an awful precedent, both on general principle and in these particular instances.

The principle at stake says government shouldn’t manage industry. GM and Chrysler have their own internal managers who run the business.

The government is just supposed to be helping with funds, and oversight, to help the companies through a tough economy and a serious industry transition.

Banks,
mortgage companies and other bailout recipients aren’t being subjected to government meddling, or even much oversight. Why are GM and Chrysler being treated differently?

But, you have to remember that when Chrysler received its loan back in the late 70s, one of the conditions was that its then-chairman John Riccardo had to go. And the chief doofus at AIG got the boot when Paulson started pouring money into that black hole in 2008, so it's not exactly unprecedented. The part that nags at me is that Wagoner strikes me as less-culpable and more forward-thinking than the financial CEOs still sitting pretty in Manhattan. Not spotless--ha! Hardly. But if Wagoner has to go, then heads ought to start rolling like tumbleweeds elsewhere. Oh, and even in political terms, it might have been a stupid move.

All that said, it sounds like the government had reason to be skeptical of the restructuring plans put forward, and Uncle Sam's calling the tune. The ladies have little choice but to dance accordingly. Or file for Chapter 11.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Comment of the Year.

Stop your submissions--we have a winner. After watching a week of non-explanations and carefully-planned damage control, I'm no longer inclined to give Fr. Jenkins the benefit of the doubt. Thus, I'm posting this from Doug (not my brother, but he still ain't heavy), on the ND controversy:

Regarding the optimistic assertion that Jenkins is being stupid: he's the pres of Notre Dame - he didn't get there by being naive or stupid.

Jenkins has offered a sop of excuse to provide himself with plausible deniability. Well, we're told that to get a promotion, you should perform the job you want rather than the one you have; perhaps he's angling for a mitre in his future.

And let's all put a moratorium on the pathetic bleating about charitable interpretations, when what is really meant is "don't tell the truth about a priest when it's unpleasant." Being unable to say shit when you have a mouthful is nothing like a virtue; particularly when you have that mouthful at the manipulative request of a liar in a collar.

Friday, March 27, 2009

You know, I thought it would be impossible to make George W. Bush look like a model of fiscal restraint.



Denouncing an "orgy of spending and enormous deficits," he turned to John McCain during their presidential debates last fall and said, "We have had, over the last eight years, the biggest increases in deficit spending and national debt in our history…Now we have a half-trillion deficit annually…and Sen. McCain voted for four out of five of those George Bush budgets."

That was then, this is now:

Just how consequential was made clear last week in a little-noticed conference call featuring Budget Director Peter Orszag. Orszag was trying to explain to reporters how the Obama administration calculated its rather rosy forecasts for economic growth. Near the end of the call, he was asked whether deficits along the lines of those predicted by the Congressional Budget Office are sustainable.

Orszag at first dodged the question, saying he was sure the final Obama budget will "reflect a fiscally sustainable path." But the questioner persisted: Are those deficits sustainable? Relenting, Orszag said such deficits, in the range of five percent of the Gross Domestic Product, "would lead to rising debt-to-GDP ratios in a manner that would ultimately not be sustainable."

I'm not exactly a fiscal conservative. My views on government spending are pretty lackadaisical: it has to be (1) moral/ethical, (2) constitutional and (3) paid for. I'll avoid the taffy pulls on the first two and simply note that if you can't agree we're in serious trouble on (3), you need to get to an emergency room ASAP.


[Thanks to Serge for the Demotivator poster and Donald McClarey for the graph.]

Why don't you give them guns while you're at it?

The Director of National Intelligence [sic] announced yesterday that some Guantanamo detainees will be resettled in America and given living stipends.

There's no possible commentary on this story. But here's some background on the "non-threatening" detainees the DNI is talking about:

None of the 17 Uighurs are master terrorists on par with the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. They were mostly new recruits at the time of their capture. However, as I have argued before, they are all affiliated with and/or members of a designated terrorist organization, received training at a training camp in the al Qaeda/Taliban stronghold of Tora Bora, and have admitted that they were trained by two known terrorists. And, on top of that, the group that trained them threatened to attack the Olympic Games in China last year.

Good to know we have experts who have it all figured out in charge of things. Here's hoping there's no spectacular attack on, I don't know, the Chinese embassy, anytime soon. Let alone some other target(s) selected by embittered ex-detainees eager for revenge on the Great Satan.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More Detroit art and architecture.



The Detroit News Building. Another Albert Kahn original, and just about 200 yards to the west of the Doubletree Fort Shelby. It is studded with relief artwork, and I have no idea of what it is supposed to symbolize. [UPDATE: The explanation of the symbolism can be found here (pp. 24-25), courtesy of intrepid commenter and friend of the blog Fuinseiog.]

The Weston Book Cadillac Hotel. More about that later, when I get the

opportunity to get up close and personal.

My attempt at an artsy shot, looking down the street at the WBC.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Brief thoughts on Notre Dame's commencement speaker.

[Language warning.]

If you're a Catholic who thinks your faith should guide your responses to moral issues that throng the public square, you should never get your hopes up when it comes to the "premier" Catholic universities in this country. Collective mottoes: "Always Call Retreat--but look, we have crucifixes in the classroom--it's in our course catalog!"

So ND's decision to announce that the President was going to be the commencement speaker a mere two weeks after signing the destructive embryonic stem cell research order was in some ways shocking, but not, when carefully considered, surprising.

What was surprising was the deathlessly stupid excuse for it:

"We are not ignoring the critical issue of the protection of life. On the contrary, we invited him because we care so much about those issues, and we hope for this to be the basis of an engagement with him," [ND President] Jenkins said.

Holy hopping snot, that's stupid. As in epic fail stupid.

Upon what is this wan "hope" based?

What in his background gives you the impression that he gives the slightest shit what pro-lifers think? The man thought giving medical care to infants born during botched abortions was a threat to the Constitution, for the love of God.

Since he entered office, his idea of dialogue on life issues has boiled down to "I won." He gave the brushoff to pro-life members of his own party and made sure that only pro-aborts are being consulted on health policy issues. His speech authorizing destructive embryonic stem cell research was larded with contempt for those in opposition. Call me crazy, but I don't think giving him free publicity and the chance to do the grip 'n' grin with a bunch of star-struck Domers eager to look past his record is going to move the ball in our direction.

He's not interested in dialogue--he's interested in cultivating the appearance of being interested in dialogue. Which ND's commencement will do wonders for, and which he will exploit for all it's worth, politically.

So, the University "hopes" for the basis of an engagement with the President, eh? Well, I suppose a hooker can hope for a cuddle after giving a blow job, too, President Jenkins. If you really think this can be the start of something meaningful, you are going to suffer the same disappointment as the working girl once the transaction is over.

My bookshelves.

Or, "This is what Heather has to deal with."

About what you'd expect, except that I have at least 4 times as much stuff in storage, including most of my sci-fi/fantasy collection. I do have my sci-fi hardcovers in a nightstand, and my Bibles are scattered hither and yon.

My organizational method? It's not on the floor, pretty much. The top one is the original shelving I installed about a year ago, so it shows some organizing. The bottom I finished on Tuesday.

Any questions, feel free to ask. Who knows--I might even answer.


I can quit any time I want.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Detroit Landmarks.

Or stuff I can snap on walks around/trips to Motown.



The erector set version of the Mackinac Bridge, residing at the Detroit Science Center.



The interior of the Wright Museum of African-American History.

In addition to its impressive beauty, the sound quality in the dome is quite cool.





The Doubletree Fort Shelby Hotel. Yes, I gladly mention the corporate sponsor--anybody who preserves and renovates architectural gems deserves full credit. And I don't care if the owner-renovator is called Crapper, Inc. The Doubletree Fort Shelby is one of the many Detroit jewels by the master architect Albert Kahn. The tall part is Kahn's, and the shorter part is the original hotel. Today, the shorter section is the hotel/restaurant and the taller contains the apartments.

Details on the DFS.






More details.



The DFS from the west side.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Because Man Cannot Live on Bile Alone.

Being a little worn out and dispirited over comboxing (at Jay's, primarily, and also the invaluable American Catholic), I'll instead point you in more positive directions.

First, to returned-to-blogging CM (I may be nuts, but Heather isn't, so keep that in mind), and then to the one-of-a-kind Robert Stacy McCain, whose blog should be on your must-read list, if it isn't already. Don't miss CM's dismantling of a cliched seafood argument, and the latter offers a thoughtful and jocular rumination about sexual sin and redemption-in-progress that's also must reading.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When Irish blood is boiling...

Okay, had to ruffle the wife's feather's with the previous post. She's the Irish one, not me.

But here's something that's really going to cause a detonation: Happy Shamrock Day, everyone!

Really, seriously--go straight to hell, you pathetic, sniveling, Christian-hating PC weiners. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. And may you do all your green beer consumption via enema.

Here are links to shake this one off.

[Thanks(?) to Rod for the find.]

Saints be praised!

Yep, it's that time of year again: time to remember Saint Paul of Cyprus, martyred by the Emperor Constantine V during the iconoclast persecution.

I'm still at sea as to the green-beer-and-shamrocks part of the commemoration, but saints can inspire all sorts of weird traditions.

Monday, March 16, 2009

For those familiar with veterinary medicine.

Our beagle-Brittany mutt, Lucy, has injured a back leg, probably from jumping off the deck into the back yard. The vet took x-rays, and there are no fractures. However, it might have been better had she broken something, as it looks like an ACL/MCL instead. Verdict: Surgery at $1500-2000. Long story short--we don't have it. Period.

She's herself otherwise, and they've given her canine Vioxx in the wan hope that it is not so. She's only 9, and the thought of putting her down over this is horrific. In fact, over the last three days, I had no idea how much I liked this dog.

Does that sound like a reasonable estimate for surgery to you?

I now have a digital camera. Ho ho ho.

Inspired by the indefatigable Jeffrey Smith, I have started taking pictures of Detroit architecture and architectural decoration during my free time. Watch this space.

Oh, and kids' pics, too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Prayers for Roger Cardinal Mahony.

As he continues his long, slow, setback-filled battle with post-concussion syndrome.

It's not all "pork."

Over at HotAir, in the midst of a good argument against the earmark-packed omnibus spending bill, Ed Morrisey quotes the Washington Post article about passage, noting the following:

The supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children, known as WIC, would grow by $1.2 billion, a 21 percent jump from the $5.7 billion appropriated last year.

And the problem with that, especially in the worst recession in decades, is....?

So, we're talking $6.9 billion to give nutritious food to women and their children for this year? Sorry, I'm not joining the tea party on that one. I'm a little familiar with WIC, having worked in a grocery store for several years. It's a good program, which provides healthy food to needy families. The options are limited to solid nutrition: Milk; eggs; 100% juice, and not Hawaiian Punch; no-sugar added cereals, not Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs; 100% cheese, not Cheez; etc.

Scream and yell about earmarks and waste, not sensible help to the struggling.

UPDATE: Long-time friend of the blog Terry finds this disturbing story about the peril of stretching baby formula too far. The baby will be all right, but frightening nonetheless. WIC covers formula, too, as I had forgotten.

Because he's the pro-science President, don't you know?

Missed in all the conflagration over Obama funding destruction of embryonic human life (Think of it as a stimulus package for biotech corporations!™) is this malevolent tidbit:

He also ended funding for pluripotent stem cell research not involving human embryos. You know, the stuff that's making embryo-shredding obsolete.

Yeah, you're all about the science. Well, OK, crap science unshackled by ethics, but you can't make a failed revolution without scrambling a few kulaks.

Over to you, Vox Nova's pro-Obama contingent!

[Predicted Tourette-ish response: "It's Bush's fault!" Oh, and "Calvinism!"]

Monday, March 09, 2009

Kulturkampf 2009.

Connecticut's legislature is considering a modest intervention into the governance of th Catholic Church--and only the Catholic Church. Essentially, Connecticut bishops and priests would have no control over functions of the parish that are not "exclusively" religious.

The co-chairs of the legislative committee are shocked--shocked!--that anyone would think they have something to do with this.

Startlingly unconstitutional and guaranteed to be bounced out the door by any court with a pulse if it were enacted. Oh, and the co-chairs' denial is simon-pure cowflop--they don't have to bring anything forward if they don't want to, and *someone* had to draft this thing.

That said, as Todd Aglialoro points out, there are plenty of--as in six figures worth--reasons for Connecticut Catholics to be disgruntled about the way their leaders have responded to embezzlement--coughMichaelFayandhisboyfriendcough.

There are costs to pissing your credibility away.

Nothing smells quite like fried modem.

Our DSL is out and effectively has been since Wednesday evening. Heather and I are going to be scarce until it's fixed, probably by Thursday. Apologies for the uncommunicativeness.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

That sound you hear is the ice cracking.

All around us.

With economic activity contracting in 2009's first quarter at the same rate as in 2008's fourth quarter, a nasty U-shaped recession could turn into a more severe L-shaped near-depression (or stag-deflation). The scale and speed of synchronized global economic contraction is really unprecedented (at least since the Great Depression), with a free fall of GDP, income, consumption, industrial production, employment, exports, imports, residential investment and, more ominously, capital expenditures around the world. And now many emerging-market economies are on the verge of a fully fledged financial crisis, starting with emerging Europe.

Fiscal and monetary stimulus is becoming more aggressive in the U.S. and China, and less so in the euro zone and Japan, where policymakers are frozen and behind the curve. But such stimulus is unlikely to lead to a sustained economic recovery. Monetary easing--even unorthodox--is like pushing on a string when (1) the problems of the economy are of insolvency/credit rather than just illiquidity; (2) there is a global glut of capacity (housing, autos and consumer durables and massive excess capacity, because of years of overinvestment by China, Asia and other emerging markets), while strapped firms and households don't react to lower interest rates, as it takes years to work out this glut; (3) deflation keeps real policy rates high and rising while nominal policy rates are close to zero; and (4) high yield spreads are still 2,000 basis points relative to safe Treasuries in spite of zero policy rates.

Fiscal policy in the U.S. and China also has its limits. Of the $800 billion of the U.S. fiscal stimulus, only $200 billion will be spent in 2009, with most of it being backloaded to 2010 and later. And of this $200 billion, half is tax cuts that will be mostly saved rather than spent, as households are worried about jobs and paying their credit card and mortgage bills. (Of last year's $100 billion tax cut, only 30% was spent and the rest saved.)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Your Lent clearinghouse/FAQ...

is over here at Marcel Lejeune's Aggie Catholics site. Take a look.

A question of sacramental theology.

You know, no big whoop.

Heather's wrestling with a question on how to discuss the Real Presence over at her blog. I think she's got it right, but any constructive input would be welcome.

One good thing about the Sebelius nomination for HHS.

It's this: our enemies have identified themselves quite nicely. After all, Ms. Sebelius revels in the company of infanticide practitioners and has been told by all of the bishops of her state to refrain from receiving communion. Among other problems.

Let's not mince words: the signatories of her support letter are, to a man and woman, quislings, remarkably cheap partisan whores and utter disgraces to their callings as Catholics.

It is abundantly clear that for some self-described Catholics (these in particular), there is no proabort they are unwilling to embrace if it advances a partisan agenda.

OK--charity compels me to consider the alternative: each is suffering from progressive (rimshot!) and irreversible dementia. Hopefully that explains Brownback, whom I'm now delighted I never supported.

Take your pick.

Let us stand for the Creed.

[Thanks to Opinionated Catholic for the links.]

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Salvete!

Oh, and we've started teaching the children (and ourselves) Latin. We're using the Prima Latina course, complete with the DVD. We'd always planned on it, but Heather's Belloc readings have inspired her to have all the kids join in. Maddie and Dale get it, and I think Rachel will absorb it eventually as well. If nothing else, she finds the word "toga" amusing.

Louis will be content to bellow for attention in Old Norse. At least that's what I think it is.

Yeah, I still blog. Sorta.

We are a busy crew at Casa Price. Thanks to yet another windfall of unnecessary generosity last Christmas, CM again gave us Red Wings tickets. Against San Jose on Ash Wednesday, no less. Oh, and a great--nay, hilarious-- guide to The Big Lebowski phenomenon. And some stuff for Heather, too, but I'll let her croon over that and the gifts for the kids. The only bad part is that he wrapped the tickets in a Michael Moore book. It could have been worse--Al Franken comes to mind. But still.

In the interim, I've finally become more modern, acquiring a compact digital camera with part of our tax return. I'm still trying to recall why I didn't want one before. Now I can't imagine life without it, snapping pictures in a way that draws "Give it a rest!" rebukes from Japanese tourists. Some of my work will start appearing here.

Anyway, we made a day of it: Mass and ashes in the morning, then to the Detroit Science Center, then our first visit to the Wright Museum of African American History, then to Greektown for Tex-Mex, naturally, and finally to the game, which the Wings won convincingly, 4-1.

The Science Center is hosting the Star Trek exhibit (Nerdalert! Nerdalert!), with lots of props from the show, including a replica of the Original Series' bridge. Naturally, I had to pose like Kirk. Alas, no photography inside for unspecified copyright reasons. But still worth the stop, especially if you are even remotely geeky.

If you are in the area, do make sure to go to the Wright Museum--it's fantastic. Sure, the King Tut exhibit (extended to April 12) is a big draw, but our favorite was the "And Still We Rise" exhibit, which chronicles the travail of Africans from the continent to Detroit, is alone worth the price of admission. Unlike Tut, it's a permanent exhibition, and contains well-done reproductions of, among other things, a 16th Century Benin market, the streets of black Detroit circa 1950 and, most harrowingly, the deck and hold of a slave ship. The latter is effectively disturbing, as is the reproduction of slave branding and that of a weak captive left tied to a tree to die. As an African immigrant guide (ironically, from Benin) gently explained to a shocked Madeleine regarding the slave tied to the tree, "Sometimes the truth is ugly, but it still has to be told." We were all stunned into horrified silence by the hold, and another guide said that he's seen a lot of hardened teenagers come out of there in tears. I believe it.

Afterwards, you come to a reproduction of Frederick Douglass' powerful speech, "The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro," upbraiding the nation for the sin of slavery, and it hits like a hammer.

There are pure "fun" spots, too, especially in the 1950s section. You can sit in a reproduction theatre watching featuring some of the earliest films featuring black performers, walk into a law office, barbershop and drugstore of the times and so forth. The role of churches in African American life in general (and Detroit in particular) gets a deserved and interesting examination. And, to Heather's and my stunned surprise, there's an original copy of a 1940s Nation of Islam newspaper excoriating "The Sin of Birth Control" in war-is-declared-sized headlines. With number five on the way in October, that was ironically amusing. Sure, there's a little Coleman Young hagiography near the end, but consider that the burp at the end of a meal.

For those afraid it's going to be "political," it's not. It's straight history--painful at times, but as the guide from Benin noted, it's still the truth. Go--visit.

The game was great, too. The Joe Louis Arena folks are a friendly and helpful crew, to a man and woman. As I was walking around with Louis during the second period, one of the maintenance guys came up and gave Louis a practice puck, which left us both delighted. Only sleep could separate him from it, too. Also, they take free pictures of you which are posted to the website and offer to take pictures on your own camera, too. Couldn't have asked for a better time. Well, maybe if there'd been a Slap Shot-like brawl, but you can't have everything.