I will not post anything on this blog until June 3, 2007 - right after the last SAT.
Draw your own conclusions.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I will not post anything on this blog until June 3, 2007 - right after the last SAT.
Think, "Frank Poole."
"...seemingly bottomless pit in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, known to be at
least 925 feet deep..."
Why is "the Mexican state of Tamaulipas" in the middle of the sea, anyway? Do they have really bad government surveyors, maybe?
"...Europa, a moon of Jupiter thought to contain liquid water beneath miles of
ice — and possibly complex forms of life..."
Obviously, if there are aliens beneath the ice, they were put there so we could find them, maybe bring them home and breed them as pets or livestock. And then have them attack us in a postapocalyptic world - oh, never mind.
Read more here.
It's incredible how positive they make eight place sound. Then again, these folks invented the phrase "advancing in a retrograde motion," so I'm not surprised.
In fairness, their job is not to win races, so I shouldn't be mean to them.
Friday, May 11, 2007
The Catholic presence in America was negligible until 1830. Yet we have a half-dozen saints.
Brazil was majority-Catholic since 1700 or thereabouts....and it's only had its first saint canonized.
I ascribe it to geography. The nearer you are to Rome, the more likely you are to be canonized, and Brazil is further from Rome than the USA is, at least in practice (easier to go through the North Atlantic than the doldrums, even now.)
Seriously, technology shouldn't be all work and no play.
I personally prefer flesh-and-blood dogs, though.
I guess the others were just in for the ride?
Seriously, the NYT mind as well hear this: in a totally unfamiliar culture half a planet away, many Muslims find the teaching that Christian society must die to be an excellent application of Islam. Perhaps they're wrong to think so, but WHO CARES? They're our enemies by choice.
And: who would say "Religion guided many Inquisitors in persecution of Spanish conversos plot?"
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Today (da-da-DUM!) I had to study the history of Texas. (The lesson plan recommends, of all things, The Alamo with John Wayne as an "accurate depiction" of its namesake. Maybe I should rent it.)
Oddly, the text mentioned a story about Sam Houston I had never heard before. After San Jacinto, Santa Anna originally refused to sign a document acknowledging Texas as an independent republic. Apparently Houston told Santa Anna:
"General, in one minute, either your signature or your brains will be on this
Apparently, Houston made him an offer an offer he couldn't refuse.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
At the Yuma Test Grounds in Arizona, the autonomous robot, 5 feet long and
modeled on a stick-insect, strutted out for a live-fire test and worked
beautifully, he says. Every time it found a mine, blew it up and lost a limb, it
picked itself up and readjusted to move forward on its remaining legs,
continuing to clear a path through the minefield. Finally it was down to one
leg. Still, it pulled itself forward. Tilden was ecstatic. The machine was
working splendidly. The human in command of the exercise, however -- an Army
colonel -- blew a fuse. The colonel ordered the test stopped.
Why? asked Tilden. What's wrong?
The colonel just could not stand the pathos of watching the burned, scarred and crippled machine drag itself forward on its last leg.
This test, he charged, was inhumane.
The emotional relationship of man and robot is, I think, rooted in a deep-seated tendency to see personality in non-personal things - trees, wind, streams, etc.
As long as robots aren't considered as human, to be pampered - or tortured - at will, I'm fine.
Concerning the Global Hawk remarks in the article.....
Meet Colette and Grumpy Jim.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Fortunately, they are this stuck-up.
I'm waiting for someone to look at the Middle East and decide "Hey, when do we get to stop recieving attacks from the Imperialist/Jewish/Crusader forces and maybe conquer something?"
It will be a while, but eventually it will come, I am certain...
...as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a big car and failing to reuse plastic bags, says a report to be published today by a green think tank."
Notice the mention of cars.
I have noticed that in comic strips, Web surveys, and other such outlets, environmental "misdemeanors" are standard examples of vice. This bothers me, not for scientific reasons.
Namely, it's the tendency to make unimportant choices equal to important choices. Driving a large car may bring the earth to destruction. Evil. Abandoning your wife and children so you can drive a small car - ah, not too bad, most folks do it, it's understandable, yadayadayada...
Personally, I view environmentalists of this streak as global nativists. In other words, they percieve increased population primarily as a threat to their pampered way of life (and if American/European life isn't pampered, you may refer to me as Molly henceforth). Therefore, they try and stop population growth in order to keep a status quo, environmentally and otherwise.
The problem is, population growth is objectively good. Let nobody tell you different. It is only a problem when population grows faster than food/work supply. And in that case, the problem is not with the population but with the lack of provenance for them.
And one quote, with my rebuttal:
"The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet
would be to have one less child."
I reply: Curse the planet, spare the child.
Of course, this reminds me of military historian John Keegan's observation that war is primarily a male activity.
Interestingly enough, he describes getting lost as a learning opportunity.
As Screwtape (and others) said long ago, by letting someone fail, you can open them to further improvement.
Dad had applied cartography in mind. Screwtape was thinking of morality. And I just want to remember all the exits.
A note from the same trip: Dad had Glenn Miller music playing, and mentioned that it was probably the last music many World War II soldiers heard before their deaths.
I responded that they had it better than soldiers in Vietnam.
For the uninitiated, Jeeves is the prototype of English butlers in literature. The main character of many P.G. Wodehouse novels, Jeeves serves Bertie Wooster, a featherbrained young squire whose life is filled by periodic social meddling.
The stories are good. Try them.
I say this because the quote in the Roman Sacristan's post sounds very Jeeves-like.
*Two points: some things are meant to be impressive (like Saturn's rings, for instance), and not being impressed by them shows a lack of sensitivity (although that's not a sin); and supernature (i.e. angels, God) are impressive by being superior in nature, whether we are impressed or not.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Put another way, The Brain is yet NEARER to taking over the world!
H. John Poole.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, Jihadists - primarily at the behest of Iran, although others are in the game as well - are starting a long, drawn-out campaign to regain control of these areas in the name of Allah. By using cheap, marginally trained suicide fighters, they save the lives of skilled instructors/commanders; by targeting the local government, they render America and its plans for the two nations unpopular; by avoiding the full impact of American firepower, they give the illusion of defeat when they really have won.
Or so H. John Poole claimed in 2005, when this book was published. I would say most of his claims seem to have been true, going on my newspaper-based knowledge of the subject. He does support his positions - mainly by quoting news articles and reports on Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the thesis of his book - that the U.S. should retrain its soldiers to fight primarily "guerilla" wars - is probably most important.
Since World War II, the U.S. has become master of "conventional" warfare, where two clearly defined armies get together and pound each other to pieces. As a result, it developed most of its technology to deal with tanks, large masses of soldiers, and aircraft (particularly that of the Soviet Union). However, most of its enemies (the ones it has fought actual battles against) fight "unconventional" warfare. By having a loosely organized military network; using lots of ambushes, infiltration of enemy camps, and attacks with explosives; and keeping as similar as possible to civilians; they often break the laws of war but usually win. Usually what happens is that the side with the bigger guns, bombs, and tanks loses, simply because they couldn't convince the enemy to stop fighting.
The main problems with "unconventional" warfare is that it's encourages chaos and is very gory for the winning side. Thus, it's usually used by people without political authority (the Viet Cong, for instance) and by people with some ideology judged more important than life itself (Communism is a good example). The main advantage is that it's cheap - bombs and RPGs are far cheaper than the aircraft and tanks they destroy.
On one hand, I expect this form of war to go away, since sooner or later its practicioners will want to conquer something instead of 'liberate' themselves from attacks they couldn't stop. On the other hand, why do something complex and expensive when everyone already knows how to defeat it?
Of course, this leaves the question about the U.S. armed forces unanswered. I would say "yes, we should modify our tactics for small wars, like the one in Iraq." After all, we aren't at present fighting anyone near our class, and if they did, they would be too afraid of our using nukes to get much of anywhere.
Did I mention that this book will bore the skull off anyone who isn't really into military science, like me?
Overall score: 4 Stars (I like it, but doubt anyone else will)
Nick Milne asks: why are religious debates always "Pinky Vs. The Brain" - like matchups?
Note one key line in his post:
"The trend in question is that of media institutions sponsoring "debates" on religious matters..."
Note the "media." It is pretty well-known that newsmen tend to be leftist, as do atheists. It is also well-known that human nature makes us slant the field - as far as possible - in favor of our side. And if only one group is sponsoring a debate, they can easily invite only those whom they expect will work well. Not very virtuous, but it happens.
Then again, most influential religious personages in America just aren't all that smart to begin with. Primarily because they usually are 'better living through theological fast food' types. Not to say that all American religious leaders are dumb, or that all the dumb ones are Protestants. But American Protestantism isn't known for encouraging heavy reliance on reason. Catholicism, I would say, is a better choice for the born sophist (me!) to protect him from himself.
This is where I'm glad of our current Pope - theology is not an easy intellectual pursuit, even if you don't believe it, and his ponderings are definitely high-grade. Closer to home, I'm not so confident. I can't name a bishop with the rhetorical smarts to out-talk Hitchens.
But I hope those bishops use the excuse: "Oh, I'd happily debate, but I'm too busy doing God's work and keeping my diocese from going belly-up."
As to the existence of God.........well, Voltaire was right when he said we'd have to invent a God if He didn't exist. Our nature is to believe in God - at least some overarching authority to which all men (theoretically) must yield, which dominates the universe - and the universality of religion proves it (almost the whole world's population believes in a God, and intellectuals are generally split on this). The only real question is to find what sort of God exists, and what He wants. That, at least, is my theory.
As an aside, if I thought God didn't exist, life would be hell within my neighborhood (until I got shot, that is). Hitchens is probably a more virtuous man than I, seeing as he's not been shot yet.
Saturday, May 5, 2007
Feeding time for the kittens, none of whose names I know.
The Brain: "The same thing we do every night, Pinky - try to take over the Evangelical Theological Society!
Although I would like to get a strategic alliance with these Pentecostal/Evangelical folks. We might be able to get them on our side.
Are you pondering what I'm pondering?
Friday, May 4, 2007
I especially liked the sentence that came right after his remark that some Opus Dei members practice the ancient penance of flagellation.
By the way, my aunt (who has very good taste in wines) says that the Mondavi wines mentioned are gosh-awful. In case you were wondering.
H/T Mark Shea.
Maybe I'm obsessed, but misusing words such as "terrorism" really gets my goat. And even when L'osservatore Romano is the culprit, I get awful annoyed at the perpetrator.
Terrorism we can define as 1)acts of physical violence 2)which are intended to hurt or kill civilians in order to 3)instill fear and thus compliance with the terrorist's political/social goals.
For instance, al-Quaeda engages in terrorism in order to bring down non-Muslim regimes and install their Jihadist Islam. The Virginia Tech massacre was not terrorism - no political or social goal was intended, just slaughter. And slurring the Pope, no matter how vile the words used may be, is not terrorism - it's not physical.
Phew, that's out of my system!
In other news, China boasts about effectiveness of national suicide in reducing greenhouse gases.
The kicker in the China article:
Demographers predict that there will be 40 million unmarried men in China by 2020 and the situation is already creating a dramatic rise in prostitution and the buying and selling of women.
Nobody saw that one coming!
Compare those who try their best to make our culture sicken Muslims, then try to get along with Islam.
And those who call Christians intolerant while trying to shut everyone else up on certain moral questions.
Let us be glad that the boundless ingenuity of statesmen help them make strident attacks upon that which the American state is intended to protect.
Namely, the rights and dignity of man (including his right not to be muzzled by the government when he protests its actions).
And did I mention the government's duty to not contradict the natural law, explicitly or implicitly?
"Why did you write 'the Bible alone' in the statement of faith?" The ETS statement of faith is very, very short. It reads:
"The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory."
Roger Nicole rose, slowly, and made his way to the podium. He looked out at the lady and said, "Because we didn't want any Roman Catholics in the group." He then turned around and went back to his seat.
While most sat in stunned silence, I and a friend with me broke into wild applause. The brevity of the response, and Nicole's dead-pan look, was classic. Most looked at us like we were nuts, but we appreciated what he said. Here, one of the founding members made it clear that the ETS was founded as a Protestant organization and that primary to their own self-understanding was a belief in sola scriptura."
With such a shallow philosophy, our man shouldn't be surprised when high profile Evangelicals climb into the Barque of Peter.
I think that any 'anti' movement tends to fail after a time. "Anti-communism" failed. "Anti-War" movements failed, and continue to fail. "Anti-Catholicism" is hardly going to kill Catholicism.
Of course, there's no real use arguing with this guy. If he thinks Rome has no historical basis for its claims, that it plays Jezebel's part against Elijah (apparently his group of 'open theists' are Elijah-like), well, who can sway him but God?
BTW, note Akin's comments on how the "creed" of the ETS is actually compatible with Catholicism. Muahahahahahaha! Behold our mind-bending ability to believe EXACTLY WHAT OUR EVANGELICAL FRIENDS BELIEVE ON CRUCIAL POINTS! HAHAHA! WE HAVE THE -
I apologize. That is very, very, snarky. But what the heck.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
I suspect that listening to "The Ride of the Valkyries" while doing tests actually helps me do better on them. There is no evidence, but...I do it to see.
Speaking of music, I have discovered there is a rendition of Schubert’s Ave Maria by – of all things – the Red Army Chorus. Having people with Communist antecedents sing to Our Lady is.......odd.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Somebody is in deep denial.
A Marxist will make decisions based on his Marxism, even on things unrelated to Marxism; he might not wear tennis shoes because capitalists made them.
An animist will also make decisions based on animism, but unrelated to animism, like not eating 'sacred' animals.
And Christians - specificially Catholics in this instance, but "people of faith" always refers to Christians - will make decisions based on Christianity that are unrelated to Christianity per se, like not voting for abortion.
I, like Cathy of Alex, just got This Rock in the mail. It has plenty of good stuff, but I'll concentrate on one of its less, ah, savory bits. A letter (from a parish priest) about an article on the Sign of Peace (an article I have not read), to be exact.
The letter begins:
"I received a copy of This Rock in the mail today. I must admit it was not the way I would normally like to have begun my day, but nonetheless I did read your editorial. I stopped reading when I finished your essay (Reasons for Hope)."
It strikes me as a not-too-diplomatic opening paragraph. We continue to the meaty part:
"You mention in your article about the greeting of peace that 'many people would interpret its omission here as a sign that we don't care about community or peace.' Whether you say or believe that or not, it is clear that it is your understanding about liturgy that is so lacking.
"The fact that many like you are unwilling to simply reach out to those around and offer a simple greeting of peace is truly sad."
Let us stop in mid-paragraph.
Imagine - imagine! - a noted hermit, let us say Anthony of the Desert, designating a pause in the middle of Compline in order to give the kiss of peace to a fellow hermit.
Now imagine St. Francis doing the same.
There, in a nutshell, is the problem.
There are what I called in the title 'introverts,' who are better described by the traditional name of contemplatives. Their religious devotion tends to be turned inwards more than outwards, manifesting itself in long hours of meditation and prayer, often totally alone. I suspect this is more appealing to men than women, as the first hermits were men. In prayer, they are literally alone with God. But this "inner solitude" is a perfectly fine condition for Mass.
And there are those who can be called 'extroverted,' or better, evangelical, tending towards some outwards expression of faith. They feel fine alone, but try to gather a band of companions. They worship God with a lot of noise and action and vigor (think of Francis again, crying for the walls to eat meat on Christmas). They are quite as devout as the contemplatives, only noisier. To such people the Sign of Peace is something that flows out of them.
And then there are those who view the Sign of Peace as an opportunity to shake hands with the priest. These are informally known as "goofballs."
The rest of the letter has little worth. The author accuses the This Rock editor of viewing liturgy as "simply between you and our Lord." He finally asks to unsubscribe from these villains who "seek the Lord in your private 'hands off' manner," who are unaware that every mass-goer is an image of Christ. (I reply: Christ wouldn't sneeze into his hand, then shake hands with me, would he?). He may be right about This Rock and its editors, although I frankly doubt it. However, it all seems like the extrovert blasting the introvert for not getting out and about more.
Now, I note that the conservative sorts of Catholic tend to be "introverts." And liberals - and evangelical Protestants! - tend to be "extroverts." I suspect this underlies the whole Sign of Peace squabble: both sides see it as a shibboleth. The priest I quoted sure does!
And me? I don't like it (introvert, I am, yes, hmm!) but I'll do it if you want. And I'd love to see it at the beginning of mass, if only to give "buffer time" for those who arrive late (my family).
PS. The priest I quoted has a "very large suburban parish." Perhaps the Sign of Peace is a key part of the social life there?
Just kidding! Really, I am!
Popularity ain't worth a darn if it's coming from the wrong folks.
WHO CAN LEARN FROM THIS: Anyone who has a job in America, Catholic bishops, Catholic politicians.
H/T: Provoking the Muse.