Monday, January 29, 2007

12 Down, 38 to Go

Due to my vacation, I didn't post on these, so:

Common Sense 101 (book review forthcoming) - 4 Stars
Brave New Family (just read it) - 5 Stars
Asterix the Gaul (comic-book review forthcoming) - 5 stars
St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis (one volume; just read 'em) - 5 Stars
The Third World War (book review forthcoming) - 5 Stars
Eat the Rich, by P. J. O'Rourke - 4 Stars.

Also, I am working through The Wealth of Nations, a book worth reading if you can stomach it. (Adam Smith devotes pages to the price of corn in the 17th Century. How bloody exciting.) However, if you ever wondered what controls the price of silver, how to clarify how much of the milk's cost goes to rent, or how shaving your silver shillings would affect the English economy, read it.

Five Random Things about Me

Tagged by

  1. I argue with myself regularly. Out loud.
  2. I intend to write a comedy show starring terrorist skunks.
  3. I nearly got a baby tooth stuck in my nose years ago. (Don't ask.)
  4. When I was about 10 or 11, it took three men to hold me down in the eye doctor's office while the opthamologist gave me eyedrops. I hated those things.
  5. I can light fires with flint, a knife, and dryer lint. (Useful talent for a budding arsonist.)

There you go.

I tag, ah, who's left to tag? Anyone who reads this thing is tagged. BJ, you're it. Muahahahahahaha.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I'll be out of town...

Visiting the civilized outpost of Alabama, specifically the convent where Mother Angelica's nuns are (we have a friend among them). Then it's off to the barbarian land of Florida, where, for some inscrutable reason, some of Dad's relatives have moved. It'll be a whopping two weeks out of town, and blogging will be sporadic/not at all.

I will, however, work on a couple book reports, and with luck I'll report on two of the books I read so far by the 30th.

And when I return, Florida will be civilized, complete with highways and credit cards.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Tea and Coffee

Of all things that are spiritually opposite, tea and coffee are foremost in the class of edible things. Indeed, the world can be split into Tea-Drinkers and Coffee-Drinkers, much as Europe was split into Catholic and Protestant. Yet they are disturbingly similar.

Tea is a ritual drink, in direct contrast to Coffee. Look no further than the three countries best known for drinking tea to prove this. Japan makes a small worship-service of coffee. China, whence Tea originally came, does the same. England made a meal based upon tea. But did the Americans (the chief consumers of Coffee) make a ritual of it? No. To them it was a habit and a habit alone, like cigarettes. The extraterrestrial plotters of Starbucks had to come along and make it a ritual. (Contemptible cappuchino-swingers!).

Arrogance and Militance are the opposite vices vices of Tea and Coffee. Teacups are usually held by, one finger. This finger (usually the index finger) is pointed by the tyrant at his victims and subordinates, by the informer at the guilty man, by the scolder to the scoldee. It subtly reminds us of the Gesture Which We Do Not Make in Traffic. In short, Tea is held by a contemptuous finger, which smears but will not fight. Coffee is not so. It requires a warlike fist to hold its mug. Indeed, a coffee mug makes an excellent brass-knuckles (ceramic knuckles, that is.) The fist also holds the club with which peasants and cavemen, but also knights and kings, fought. Coffee is not ingorant of this; it demands a warlike salute from its drinker; not infrequently it punches him in the mouth. Or did until Star- but you understand me.

Yet Tea and Coffee are one. They are not sufficient in themselves, for no drink is an island. They require the same hot water, the same osmosis, the same filter paper. And even in the cup they are insufficient. They require sugar.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

5 down, 45 to go.

Finished "Philosophy 101 by Socrates" (really by Peter Kreeft). It was good, like all Kreeft's other stuff.

Ranking - 5 stars

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

According to the Curt Jester...

Atheists have a bit of an obsession with Christianity.

In much the same way, Gollum had an obsession with Elves.


Don't expect too much posting. I have schoolwork to do this week - and I tend to be lazy. Add those together and what do you get?

Asinine. Just Asinine.

"Everything you want from a church, without the religion."

If a CHURCH won't give you RELIGION (defined as MORALS, DOCTRINES, and WORSHIP demanded by a supernatural authority), it's a CON JOB. A big fat "Sell the Brooklyn Bridge" CON JOB.

I must admit that "Church of Brunch" is an amusing name.

In a similar vein, let me advertise the first religion I have ever founded:


Monday, January 8, 2007

The Adventures of Tintin Verus part 4

Tintin strikes back against his captors - or Snowy does, to be exact.

4 down, 46 to go

I forgot to say that I read "Land of Black Gold" the other day. To be precise, it's finished.

Ranking: 3 stars

Sunday, January 7, 2007

3 down, 47 to go

I read "Building the Free Society," which deals with politics, economics, and Papal encyclicals on the two. It's quite interesting, and has whetted my appetite for the encyclicals themselves. I think I'll try "Rerum Novarum."

Ranking: 4 stars

Writing in Yodaspeak

Due to this, The Dreamer suggested this. Now I'm playing about with it.

Mulier Fortis speaks Yodish:

To patronising pc nerds I particularly enjoyed the graphic representation of a typical female response (Oops, sorry, caring, sharing, sensitive new-man types!) Hmmmmmm.

Mark Shea speaks Yodish:
This act of pure cultural vandalism is caused by muslim terrorists not. Even caused by pc leftist motivated by hatred of dead white european males it is not. Caused by people operating on the basis of purely free market ideology that sees *nothing* beyond what is popular right this very second, it is. Yeesssssss.

Diogenes speaks Yodish:
To fire the shot heard round the world every jurist wants, and, in a courtroom, pull it off, any simpleton can. Give western civ the thumbs-down, all he needs to do is. Fame!

I speak Yodish:

Write an essay, I will, "Hussein's execution and Catholic doctrine,"
Explaining how the church's doctrine permits or prohibits executions, to
Saddam Hussein's execution on december 30 applying this specifically,
2006. Yes, hmmm.

The Inclusive Language Rant

Mulier Fortis started it.

Fr. Tim Finigan took it up.

Mulier Fortis continued it.

Now I've got my "inclusive" pictures from

Enjoy the products of this foul-woman-oppressing mind of mine.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

2 Down, 48 to Go

I finished "George Bernard Shaw," by G. K. Chesterton last night.

From what I read of Shaw, Chesterton is a lot more interesting than him.

Hence the 3 stars.

I mind as well give the ranking system here:

1 stars - I hate it
2 stars - I'm glad I'm done
3 stars - Nice, but I won't bother to read it again
4 stars - I like it, maybe I'll read it again
5 stars - I love it, I mind as well start over again

Promised for Next Week...

"Coffee and Tea: A Comparative Meditation."

Expect it on Saturday, January 13.

Saddam Hussein and the Death Penalty

Saddam Hussein and the Death Penalty

As you already know, Saddam Hussein has been executed. The Vatican's representatives have "decried" the execution. However, I think that Hussein's death was moral according to Church teaching.

Let me say first that the men who spoke for the Vatican, Fr. Lombardi and Cardinal Martino, are not protected by the guarantee of infallibility. Their condemnation of the death penalty does not override the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which Pope John Paul II called the "sure norm" for teaching the Faith. The Catechism says:

"Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person."

The paragraph above summarizes the requirements for a just execution. To wit:

  1. The person executed must be proven guilty of the crime for which he is executed.
  2. His responsibility for the crime must be proved.
  3. He must be executed by a legitimate authority.
  4. The authority must be certain that he poses a threat to human lives, and
  5. All non-lethal means of punishment must be certainly inadequate in protecting human lives.

Saddam Hussein's guilt and responsibility for the crime has not been doubted. If Hussein's execution is wrong, it is because the authority that executed him is not legitimate, or Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat, or because non-lethal means suffice to prevent Hussein from causing harm.

The authority that had him executed is the current Iraqi government, set up by the US in 2003. A government set up by an invader is rather questionable in its legitimacy. However, if it is not legitimate, who is the legitimate authority? The various militias and terrorist groups in Iraq? The Hussein government itself? Furthermore, it is recognized as the government of Iraq by the non-Muslim world, unlike the two mentioned above. So, it seems only the current government in Iraq is legitimate.

Does Saddam pose a threat to human lives. This is best answered by asking: what if Saddam Hussein escaped from prison? He would certainly try to regain power. Would he succeed? Possibly. Should he succeed in gaining power, would he commit reprisals like those he committed while in power? Probably. In other words, he poses a threat to human life.

Finally, would non-lethal means suffice to prevent Hussein from being executed? There are three non-lethal means possible: life imprisonment outside Iraq, banishment from Iraq, and imprisonment within Iraq. Imprisonment outside Iraq would require Iraq to turn Hussein over to someone else - probably the USA, or else the UN. However, this would deny Iraq's sovereignty, as one mark of sovereignty is the ability to punish public enemies by oneself. Banishment from Iraq would not contradict Iraq's sovereignty. But in the modern world, full of high-speed communications and transportation, banishment from an area is nearly impossible. Imprisonment in Iraq would not be sufficient protection. The country is in civil war at this time - his prison could change hands suddenly and quickly. Thus, non-lethal methods would be insufficient protection.

In summary, I think that Saddam's execution was moral. It was conducted by a legitimate authority against a man who still threatened Iraq, and was the only sufficient means of protection. It therefore conforms to the Church's teaching on the death penalty.


Thursday, January 4, 2007

I'm working on that Saddam Hussein essay

So don't expect too much here. I have to write like a wise commentator like, er, this guy, not like myself.

However, this little picture from Antonia deserves showing:

Almost makes me want snow!

This sentence I did not make up

I am reading The Third World War, which describes a fictional "Cold War goes Hot" scenario. It was written by generals and NATO advisers, and thsi quote shows it.

"Improvement in these last two years there has been." (From a general's report on the USA's preparations for war in West Germany.)

Seem to speak like Yoda, NATO officials do! Hm, yes.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Worst Sentence Imaginable

"Brandishing a hideous expression, the door burst open to reveal Cardinal Ximenez! The cry, 'NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!' rolled through the house."

Made by yours truly.

When the first thing you read on a website...


"Ernest Holmes as a Creation Spirituality Mystic,"

you don't need to read any more.

via Diogenes

A Gentle Fuss wants us all to Cheat the Prophet

Can't blame him.

This list of prophecies is worth reading, but overly long, so...

I'll summarize them.

  1. The magical powers of cell phones and the Internet will cause Jihadists to give up trying to shove Islam down the world's throat. Instead, they will sit around playing Final Fantasy XIV.
  2. The veritable mob of juvenile superstitions (Religion, four-leaf clovers, MTV, sugar cookies) will be neutralized once some folks in lab coats announce that they "understand EVERYTHING! but, er, they'll have to test their hypotheses, and they may be proved wrong, and frankly, we have no idea how we can prove the non-existence of God, who according to all reports does not show up on a spectrometer..."
  3. The V.M.o.J.S. will be destroyed by the Folks in Lab Coats flinging tiny particles into walls at high speed.
  4. Violence will eventually decrease, since prophecies 1 and 2 will be fulfilled, and besides, one only ever kills because of religion or insanity (cases in point: Al Capone, Crazy Horse, General Patton).
  5. One day, large-scale organized group violence (aka 'warfare) will end, as the banishment of the V.M.o.J.S will cause everyone to have warm fuzzies for each other. (If it weren't for the V.M.o.J.S., folks, Russia wouldn't want Chechyna, China wouldn't want Taiwan, North Korea wouldn't want South Korea...)
  6. Autistic children will become better, the same way that Down's Syndrom children have become better - by exterminating them before they are born and affect the statistics. (The extermination will not count as large-scale organized group violence, of course.)
  7. People will be able to live active lives past 100. They will want to live longer, as the extinction of the V.M.o.J.S. will cause them to fear death like maniacs.
  8. Prophecy 7 will make doctors very rich.

Don't you feel better already, O followers of the Veritable Mob of Juvenile, Sensibilities...I mean, Superstitions?

One Down, Forty-Nine to Go

Today, around 1500, I finished the first of my fifty books for the year:

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, by John le Carre.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

This little goof...

Reminds me of the song from My Fair Lady, where the Hungarian blackmailer announces that Liza Doolittle was "born...HUNGARIAN!"

The Adventures of Tintin Verus part 3

Tintin, as you recall, is in Chicago. He's trying to stop the Inane Liturgy Syndicate (headed by Al Capone) but has been captured by its thugs criminals parish facilitators.

It seems that Capone intends, as the underworld says, to renovate Tintin.

Please note Snowy has not been noticed.

(I posted this earlier using Google Documents, but the pic uploaded wrong.)

Monday, January 1, 2007

Attack of the Pointy-Eared Pigs!

...Elvis probably has a grudge agi-ageh-against him. (I posted the mp3 link of "Blue Christmas" by Porky Pig, but it didn't work - click on this link and go to the third table to find the file.)

Heads Up!

In order to fulfill my New Year's Resolution....

I will write an essay, "Hussein's Execution and Catholic Doctrine," explaining how the Church's doctrine permits or prohibits executions, applying this specifically to Saddam Hussein's execution on December 30, 2006.

Expect the post on Saturday.

And, of course, "Tintin Verus" will come back *tomorrow* to break the back of the Inane Liturgy Syndicate. Expect a bad parody of a famous Monty Python skit, again by Saturday.

My New Year's Resolutions

To the Readers of this blog and all men of good will:

It having come to the attention of Histor the Wise that the Two Thousandth and Seventh Year of Our Lord has now arrived;

And that it is the custom of residents of the United States of America to resolve to lose weight in the New Year;

The custom above seeming to be extremely ridiculous to Histor the Wise;

Histor therefore has resolved to set up a new custom for the imitation and improvement of the American populace by resolving to, among other things:

  1. Read no less than 50 books (a book being such works of the imagination or the intellect which are recorded in written or electronically displayed language, possessing at least 500 standard-sized pages full of writing or its equivalent, blah blah blah);
  2. Run 2 miles a day at least five days a week, setting aside no more than twenty minutes per day for this purpose;
  3. Render the blog known as "Est Puzzlementem" primarily an organ of thoughtful reflections of genuine and lasting value, rather than a hodgepodge of Tintin parodies, comments upon religious matters, news articles dealing with toy soldiers, and rambling;
  4. By the above resolution and similar means, more clearly deserve Raulito's reference to me as "One Thoughtful Dude;
  5. Spend as little time as possible engaging in superfluous activity on the computer, that is, things that do not improve my ability to generate schoolwork, such articles as would fulfill resolution #3, and comic prose or illustrations;
  6. And not to carve a monumental sculpture of Oscar Homolka out of Colby Jack Cheese.

This having been written at four o'clock, in the Central Standard Time of the North American Continent, on the First day of January in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Seven, by Histor the Wise independent of all secretaries, amanuenses, ghost-writers, or similar aides,

It is solemnly and electronically signed by

Histor the Wise.