Monday, March 31, 2014

Was It A Secular Humanist Mob?

There plenty of examples of civilizational decay arising from the destruction of traditional values and the nuclear family. For example, the video below deals with a mob of 300+ "teens" rioting for no apparent reason at a mall in New York. Just like the Knockout Game, the vast majority of the "youths" were black, which leads to ignorant people assuming it's a racial thing. It's not. It's the result of a fatherless generation, a generation raised on subjective morality and the do-your-own-thing culture.

We need a better name for these mobs, one that captures the essence of what they are. I like a "Sam Harris Mob," but that's too much of an inside joke. Are they a secular humanist mob? Just what is the term for modern America's culture? Hmm. There's some cogitating to be done, for sure.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I'm Sure We Can Rely On The Courts To Protect Us

Dig this.
LA MESA, Calif. - A local couple called 10News concerned after they received an envelope from the state's Obamacare website, Covered California. Inside was a letter discussing voter registration and a registration card pre-marked with an "x" in the box next to Democratic Party.
Not to worry. I'm sure our judicial branch will prevent this from happening again.

Oh, wait, didn't they just rule that a clearly-written, legally-enacted constitutional amendment, Proposition 8, was unconstitutional?

Uh oh.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sunlit Ocean

I shot this off Sunset Cliffs the other day and liked it. Enjoy!

Friday, March 28, 2014

In The Hollywood Version Of The Leland Yee Story

... Leland will be an evangelical Christian from Alabama running guns to a white supremacist gang who are also crystal meth dealers. The story will be broken by D'Vonte Carmichael, the first black reporter from the little town of Blue Springs who struggles to prove himself to his homophobic boss because his sister, Taniqua Wilson, is a lesbian, feminist professor fighting for equal pay for LGBT teachers at Spelman College in Georgia, which is run by another evangelical Christian, Mary Smith, who is a narrow-minded prude and is actually in league with the white supremacists.

The story will feature lots of clever social media content, a shoot out at the supremacists' meth lab, car chases, shrewd product placement of Apple technologies and will culminate with a Twitter mention from the Obama Administration's Department of Justice. In a deeply touching scene, one of the supremacists' kids, orphaned in the shoot out, will be adopted by D'Vonte and his boyfriend as a part of their wedding ceremony.

It will crash and burn at the box office, but will win several Academy Awards. Robert Redford will call it the one of the finest movies he's ever seen and MSNBC hosts will be falling all over themselves to praise how daring and innovative it is.

There. That was easy. Orthodoxy always is.

Good old Blue Springs, Alabama. In the movie, it evolves into a hipster haven as these businesses are replaced by local coffee houses selling organic, fair-trade coffee frequented by the comic relief - the gang from the Genius Bar at the newly-opened Apple Store.

Update: Just how environmental destruction and global warming will play in the story is left as an exercise for the reader.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I Think I'm Turning Japanese

Well, not me, per se. More like the ECB is turning Japanese.
European Central Bank officials sent strong signals Tuesday that they are willing to consider dramatic steps to guard against dangerously low inflation, suggesting the bank is prepared to shed some of its traditionally cautious approach.

The possible tools, cited by some top policy makers from different parts of the euro zone, include effective negative interest rates—meaning rates so low that commercial banks would essentially pay the ECB to park their extra cash overnight. They also include purchases of government or private-sector debt to hold down long-term rates and spur lending.
It looks like Mario Draghi and his crew at the ECB have decided to cover The Vapors hit song in their own, unique way.

I'm turning Japanese
I think I'm turning Japanese
I really think so
Turning Japanese
I think I'm turning Japanese I really think so

The idea is to flood the place with Yen Euros and then watch everyone rush around spending them. Additionally, this will devalue the Yen Euro and make Japanese European exports cheaper, increasing demand.

Japanese exports haven't jumped the way they expected following their efforts to devalue the Yen using these exact same tools. In fact, the Japanese economy is pretty stagnant and they're executing this strategy in spades.

Funny how the only Japanese export that's booming is the total failure known as Abenomics. Oh well. At least we can enjoy listening to this fun music while the central banks print and print and print and the central governments spend and spend and spend.

Joni Ernst, I Think I Love You

What a hilarious opening line!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Politics Of Film Reviews

My wife and I, along with 5 other cursillistas, went out to see God's Not Dead on Sunday. The trailer below gives you the full idea of the movie. That it's made by a Christian movie company tells you pretty much how it ends.

I was half dreading the movie. I was the one who pushed everyone to go see it, but I was afraid it was going to be yet one more ghastly Christian movie with wooden acting and a bad script. My wife and I had tried to make it through Fireproof, for example, but we only got 30 minutes in before shutting it off.

We all loved God's Not Dead.

We were still in the theater lobby half an hour after the movie let out, having a great time discussing it, laughing and working through the issues it had raised. The theater staff kept looking at us, wondering when we were going to leave. We've all gone on to recommend the movie to friends.

I wasn't surprised at all to see the bad reviews in the press. As far as I can tell, the movie was universally hated by the critics. It's primary flaw seems to be that it was a melodrama with Heroes and Villains. Meh. The reviews said far more about the reviewers than the movie. It wasn't that they didn't like God's Not Dead, it was that they didn't like who was getting the short end of the stick.

My wife was sick recently and one Sunday afternoon she stayed inside and watched Twelve Years A Slave and The Butler, back to back. I had no interest in either of those, so I was upstairs catching up on the weekend's English Premier League games. I had the door open and she had the sound up, so I could hear the louder parts of both movies. Massa was whipping darkie, whitey was beating up the blacks, southern redneck was yelling racial slurs and so on. They were thoroughly orthodox modern movies. The proper people were heroes and the proper people were villains.

They both got great reviews and one won Best Picture.

Reading one of the reviews of God's Not Dead where the author went to town on how predictable everything was, I mentally substituted my audio impressions of Twelve Years A Slave into the review and the review still made perfect sense. Instead of Christian Kid vs. Atheist Bully it was Black Man vs. Racist Southerners. The latter is the mark of Proper Thinking and the former is a sign of Ignorant Intolerance.


God's Not Dead did have a couple of over-the-top, wince-worthy scenes, but none of them damaged the movie to any great extent. I loved all of the story lines and the main characters were echoes of many people I have known in my own life. Many of the reviews wail about how unfair it was to make Professor Radisson, the atheist philosophy teacher, such a crude bully, but he was actually a lot more nuanced that many of his type that I've known. Ironically, I've had conversations with a couple on Twitter recently that made Professor Radisson seem positively normal. Digging through the muck on Twitter reveals swarms of potty-mouthed, hateful atheists. It's not that Kevin Sorbo's character was badly drawn, it's that he wasn't a southern redneck.

Getting back to the movie itself, it had a couple of very powerful scenes. The one that leads off the trailer above where Dean Cain's character is talking to the elderly woman will stay with me for a long, long time. The reporter chick has a two-word line she says as she's interviewing the Newsboys before their concert that floored me with its power. There's a scene with a muslim father that was incredibly moving, too.

I've run out of time for this post, so I'll end with a recommendation to go see the film. The reviewers didn't see the movie at all. They were watching their own politicized translation of it instead.

Bonus bit: The black, African minister looked, sounded and acted exactly like one of my Cursillo brothers. I mean they were clones! I loved him.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Well, I'll Bet Those Dead Luftwaffe Pilots Feel Pretty Silly Now

... it turns out there was no reason to Bomben auf Engelend after all. The British lion would eventually see the light.
The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has found.

Ten NHS trusts have admitted burning foetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat...

At least 15,500 foetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years alone, Channel 4’s Dispatches discovered.

The programme, which will air tonight, found that parents who lose children in early pregnancy were often treated without compassion and were not consulted about what they wanted to happen to the remains.
Oh, sure, they weren't all Jews, but at least the Tommies are on the Reich right track.

On the plus side, the Luftwaffe did leave us with this catchy tune.

Bonus question for the Sam Harris fans out there: This makes perfect sense to you, right? I mean, if the things are already "dead" then what's the fuss? Besides, the workers were only following orders don't have free will, so why get all worked up about it?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Fatherless In Flint, Michigan

Renee from Cappadocia in Lowell shared this on Twitter and then on her blog. I thought it was so good that I'd share it with you. Like she said on Twitter, this should go viral.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

More Churchosity, More Fun!

Or is that Churchaliciousness?

When was the last time that you did something that you did something that made you smile the rest of the day? How about something that made your wife smile with you the rest of the day?

Earlier this week, I was hanging with my homies downtown at Catholic Charities, doing the food distribution thing. Around the middle of the day, a black couple came in carrying a newborn. The baby couldn't have been more than a month old. The couple looked to be in their late twenties and the man had just lost his job. As one of the other workers took their information and put them into our system, I watched the dad playing with his little baby's foot, saying sweet things to it. It was incredibly beautiful. Mom looked on lovingly, but was clearly exhausted.

Having been there, in one way or another, I couldn't help tearing up. While the other intake worker did everything she could to find baby supplies (we almost never have them, but diligent searching turned up a little bit), I turned away from the scene and pulled some cash out of my wallet. I'd been to the ATM recently and I had a tidy sum. After the couple got their food and what few supplies we could find, I followed them out into the courtyard.

I stopped them before they left. I told them I'd been in their shoes and asked if I could help. They said yes and I slipped them $100. They were overjoyed. There were tears in everyone's eyes (there are some in mine now as I type this) and we said God bless you and stuff like that to each other all in a jumble of emotion-choked voices. Kindness can be confusing, I guess. I asked them to stop by a Catholic church when they got back on their feet and throw a few bucks in the poor box. They smiled and said they would.

It was completely awesome.

I don't share this with you to boast or take credit for it. My parents took me to church, my wife brought me to Cursillo, my cursillista buddies inspire me and St. Thomas Aquinas, CS Lewis, GK Chesterton and Father Jim Sichko keep my head on straight while the Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline and DC Talk entertain me. I didn't help that couple because I'm a cool guy, I helped them out because I found myself in a river of Christian kindness and was carried along by the current. Giving them the money was just natural. The farther I go into that river, the faster the current takes me along and the more love and happiness I feel.

Yeah, this part is pretty, but it gets better up ahead. It always gets better the farther you go.
H/T: Wannasmile.

Friday, March 21, 2014

This Can't Be Good

Uh oh.
Foreign investors are selling Japanese stocks at the fastest pace in almost a decade, government data show, as worries grow that the country's government won't be able to follow through on its promises to spur the economy. Moves by hedge funds and other speculative investors lifted the ratio of bets against Tokyo shares this week to the highest in five years, according to the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The Japanese have been borrowing and printing like mad, even worse than the US, thinking that a weaker yen and monstrous government "stimulus" spending would drive their economy. Instead, the resulting political misallocation of resources and import price inflation has offset what little good might have been derived from the deficit spending. Every day brings no significant economic growth and a lot more debt.

The article linked above doesn't mention what every investor knows - Japan is a house of cards. While some of the selling is certainly prompted by profit taking after a big run-up in the Nikkei last year, I'd be willing to bet that it's more than normal selling high, it's selling high and getting out until the explosions have stopped and the ruins are no longer smoking.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This Is Why The Brookings Institute Can't Have Nice Things

... because Strobe Talbott, their president, will only lose them playing poker, checkers or, most likely, tiddly winks. Dig this.
Nothing responds to tanks like a speech, right? Unsurprisingly, the Strobester is a veteran of the lounges and corridors of that fortress of reality, Yale, and a buddy of our favorite little fascist honk, Robert Reich. He's also the author of any number of howlers including this gem.
“In the next century, nations as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. National sovereignty wasn't such a great idea after all.” - Time Magazine, America Abroad: The Birth of the Global Nation, Monday, July 20, 1992
Strobe, you're a freaking genius.

It looks like Putin already knows that national sovereignty wasn't such a good idea. Well, Ukrainian national sovereignty at least.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It's A Good Thing They Told Us This Was A Success Story

... because otherwise, I'd have thought it was a monstrous fail.
My name is Dora and I met with Lisa Lemieux at DFD Russell Medical Center on January 2 to apply for health coverage for myself and husband. There were lots of issues. We had to meet 10 times because of all the computer glitches and issues with identity verification, but FINALLY we got it! I am so happy we tried a lot of times because I got to see Lisa each time and she has a lot of patience. I don't have a lot of patience. I think we should get a trophy for the most attempts of applying :)
That's Dora in Maine telling you how wonderful it is to have navigated the Maze of 404 Errors and fought the Gorgon of Verification to finally get on ObamaCare.

Dora, presumably, is not a computer security expert and therefore does run from the room screaming as she realizes that any website that can't handle simple input might not be secured on the back end and that her personal data was probably routed to half a dozen identity theft groups as fast as she could type it.

I found that link from a WSJ editorial which pointed out the ad below.

Message: We had to use a picture of a naked man to get your attention. We think you couldn't be any dumber if you had rocks in your head.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Can You Even Play This Song Any More?

Over the weekend, we went to see Wynton Marsalis in concert. It was fabulous. He had a 15-piece swing / jazz band and they played classic music from the likes of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Before the concert started, we spotted a transvestite in the audience, decked out in a long, black evening gown and white opera gloves. All I could think of was this chestnut from the 1980s.

Are you still allowed to play this on the radio?

Explanation necessary in the year 2014: I thought the dude was kind of elegant. He had it all working and his accessories worked well with the gown. His hair was on the medium-short side, but it was well-coiffed. It was unusual enough to remark upon, but it was all one to me whether he decided to wear women's clothing or not.

Friday, March 14, 2014

If We Supply Them With Cream Pies, Ukraine Will Be Saved!

According to the Chicago Tribune's reading of a Wall Street Journal article which is behind a paywall, President Invertebrate is willing to send Ukraine noms, but no stingy things.
(T)he Wall Street Journal reported that Ukraine's interim government asked for arms, ammunition and intelligence support but the United States had decided against further assistance beyond rations because of concerns about stoking tensions with Russia.
Stoking tensions with Russia? What are they going to do, undermine our every foreign policy endeavor? I get not sending troops, but a couple of anti-tank weapons might actually deter Putin or make him think twice.

The cream pie option is still on the table. As Admiral Ackbar might say, "It's impossible to repel pies of this magnitude!"

Utopia Is Nigh!

Once we eliminate the word, "bossy" and allow two men to marry each other, all of our problems will be solved!

Yep, gay marriage and linguistics are our biggest problems and deserving of lots and lots of time and effort, just like our sociology professors have been telling us all along.

Blogger's note: I was thinking of using one of my favorite civilizational decay videos from Camden or East Cleveland, but I figured I'd mix it up with a Los Angeles Skid Row street walk.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Modern (And Better) Crosby, Stills And Nash

One of the groups I've been blessed to discover through my Newsboys Pandora station is DC Talk. They were a three-man vocal group that have since split up. Scoping out their biographies surprised me. I knew that one, Michael Tait, had moved on to be lead singer for Newsboys and his work was terrific. Another band I've come to love is Audio Adrenaline. They turn out to be fronted by former DC Talk member Kevin Max. Until a few days ago, I had no idea who the third member of DC Talk was. When I checked out the Wikipedia page on them and found out it was none other than Toby Mac, who has his own very successful (and fun!) solo act.

Usually when a band breaks up and people move on to their own careers, some succeed and some don't. These guys went three for three.

Here's one of my favorite songs. Enjoy.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On The Need For Chivalry

My favorite job at Catholic Charities is customer intake. It gives me a chance to chat with our customers and show them they're loved. When I get to do this job, I end my day with more energy than when I started.

When you do intake, you get to see the customers' profiles in our database. I've seen lots and lots of single women with children, struggling to get by. I've never seen a single man with children. I know such men exist because I've been one, but it's certainly not anywhere close to the norm. Knowing the single parent gender and poverty statistics is one thing, coming face to face with the people behind the statistics is another thing entirely.

More than half the time, the single woman's children have different last names, showing she's had several partners, none of whom stuck around to help her.

In my Twitter stream, I recently saw this tweet. Dig the number of favorites and retweets.
Chivalry may be out of favor, but it's not lost its value or charm.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Raising Children Without Free Will

Yesterday, showing determination rivaling that of Jerry Rice and his insane workout regimen, I powered through Sam Harris' ghastly pamphlet, Free Will. The thing is 66 pages long on paper and an interminable 70 or so minutes when read by the Samster himself. As I posted last night, the synopsis is: You don't have free will, but that's OK.

Old Samuel seems to think that if we all just knew that we don't have free will, things would be so much better. We'd all live in a state of reasoned and logical harmony, sharing kindness, charity and forgiveness as we realize that our enemies and irritants cannot help themselves.

Why Sammy thinks we'd end up with Christian ethics rather than Caligulan ethics is never fully explored. That's probably because Sam doesn't want to to be thrown to the lions in the arena and so he pretends that Christian ethics would somehow win out in a Darwinian sense. LOL! That's not the only area in which Sam has a rich fantasy life. When you start thinking about the world he proposes, it gets even better.

Imagine raising your children to believe that they do not have free will. Imagine the parents of your kids' classmates doing the same. Discipline would last, oh, I don't know, about 15 minutes or so. A pack of 8-year-old boys who have been convinced that they do not have free will would become completely unmanageable by anything short of fire hoses and dogs.

And dogs they would be, too. Without any sense of free will, you'd have to fall back on pure stimulus-response training to keep them in line while they constantly tried to push things to the limits. After all, why not?

And what happens when they realize that you don't really love them? You don't, you know. Love is meaningless when there is no free will behind it. "I love you" would engender the reply, "So what? You had to. You have no free will!"

Finally, imagine how awesome classrooms would be. Kind of like an ongoing MMA brawl.

Hmm. Some classrooms are may already be there.
Party on, dudes.

Monday, March 10, 2014

You Have No Free Will. Vote Democrat.

I'm off my meds tonight*, so I'm going to make this short and sweet.

I finished Sam Harris' Free Will today. It taught me stuff and there's not too much wrong with it, but only because there's not much in it. For the most part, what little there is of it is horrible. I think my IQ dropped 20 points reading it.

Very short version of Sam's book: You don't have free will, but it's OK.

The book reminded me of the Dwight Longnecker post I linked to a while back that laughed at atheists who have all the imagination of old oatmeal. I felt like I was listening to a mad scientist who had developed a tiny power source that could generate 3GW and whose chief ambition was to use it to run a toaster oven.

You could see one of the best parts coming miles away, but when it finally showed up at the end, it didn't fail to deliver the laughs. Not having any free will has implications in politics and the biggest is that you should vote for Democrats.


More later.

* - In addition to giving up texting during matrimony, I gave up alcohol for Lent. What was I thinking?

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Some Parenting Advice

Around our house, we have a running joke where whenever one of the kids does something particularly nice, we tell them that this has caused them to rise in rank and that they are now our second (or third) favorite child. Today, I pondered what would happen if they rose to first place. Here's my decision. Feel free to copy it and use it yourself.

Announcement Upon Reaching Child Of First Rank

Dear ______,

Congratulations! Your recent scholastic / athletic / household drudgery performance as well as your conspicuous displays of obeisance to your parents has caused you to achieve First Rank among the children. This entitles you to lord it over the others, bully them with tiny acts of spite while we aren't looking and have your artwork and plaudits displayed prominently throughout the house while we ask your siblings why they can't be more like you.

Further, you have earned a single denunciation of one of your peers. If you choose to denounce one of the other children, so long as your accusation is even remotely plausible, we, your parents, will choose not to investigate, summarily find the denounced party guilty as charged and administer the most stringent of punishments. Denunciations must be used during the period in which you are Child of the First Rank. Denunciations may not be hoarded and used later in clusters should you fall from favor and then later return to First Rank.

Your disdainful household superiors,
____________ and _____________

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Are Decongestants Or Antihistamines Better For Clearing Plugged Ears?

Yes. According to the Mayo Clinic:
Options for clearing plugged ears include:
  1. Oral decongestants
  2. Nasal spray antihistamines
  3. Topical nasal steroids
Just like the question linked above, I got a cold weeks ago, fought it off and ended up with a plugged ear, making me effectively deaf on my right side.

Option #4.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Cheezburger of the Day

It's All Good Fun Until Someone's Existence Gets Poked Out

Alternate title: Atheists Running With Scissors.

I was fortunate enough to have pleasant conversations today with a pair of atheists on Twitter. One of them, @Keira_Hudson, provided me with a couple of lovely insights into the whole thing and for that I am deeply grateful. Here's the trio of exchanges.

Earlier, she had posted this one:

Atheism is weakest where it thinks itself strong. It's all Logic! and Science! while bashing the ignorant, superstitious peasants, but it can't bear to use the logic and science too far. That would be icky. Or, rather, "inky" as in the inky blackness of the abyss. Keira turned me on to what looks to be an utterly ghastly piece of Sam Harris cynicism -

wherein old Sammy tells the semi-educated rubes who pay his speaking fees and shell out good money to buy his trash that Science! says they don't have free will, but somehow, it all works out for the best in the end because Morals! This review sums it up pretty well.
At about 10 minutes after noon yesterday, an ineluctable series of causal events that no doubt began before the dawn of humanity compelled me to sit for an hour in a Barnes and Noble reading this predetermined collection of words from someone whose parents had been programmed to name him Sam Harris. I regret that this is the way I ended up spending an hour, though of course it's useless to regret what one could not help but do, and, moreover, the "I" that I imagine I am is just along for the ride anyway.
So in the end, Sam Harris makes money telling you that you were going to buy his book anyway, but that you shouldn't be afraid of the meaninglessness of your existence because Easter Bunny.

The second atheist, the kindly and well-meaning @mickskeptic, taught me that atheism is just a subset of Catholicism. That is, all I needed to do was to turn off my faith in God and, voila!, I could employ all of the arguments available to Mickey. The difference is that for me, it's like wearing virtual reality goggles that make it look like I'm on the ledge of a 37th floor window, looking down on a busy street. For Mickey, he really is looking down on that street. I can pretend to take that leap - the final step of logic which reveals that nothing has any meaning at all - and when I hit the bottom, I bounce back and run upstairs to try it again. For Mickey, the results are less sanguine.

Like I said, atheism is weakest where it thinks itself strong. Atheists know, to varying degrees, that the last step is out there, but they all think they can postpone or avoid the conclusion by coming up with logic pretzels more convoluted than the worst of the medieval monks debating angels and heads of pins.

What I've learned from Twitter: Lousy atheists go immediately to sex insults. Mediocre atheists, which is to say almost all of them, still believe in free will, apparently because no one has ever challenged them on it. Good atheists don't believe in free will, but cling to some belief in their own existence. Top notch atheists, none of whom I've met, probably listen to Gorgoroth all day and don't waste their time emitting vibrations at other bags of molecules.

Atoms can be forced to do fun things because they obey rules all the time!
You're nothing but atoms, right?

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Is It OK To Text In Church?

In the Catholic Church, there are seven sacraments - outward signs of God's grace* given to you. Mass is one such and Matrimony is another. These are non-trivial things, they are direct connections to the grace of God through Christ. When I take the Body and Blood of Christ during Mass, I am directly connecting with Christ. It can be a beautiful thing if you lose yourself in it. When I take the Blood of Christ, it causes me to reflect upon my week and think of what sins I committed that added to His pain on the cross.

My marriage is a sacrament as well. My relationship with my wife is an outward sign of inward grace.It is no less holy than Mass or Confession or Baptism and unlike those, it is something I actively live every day. I contemplate my worthiness during Mass and reflect on ways I can be more like Christ. I don't usually do that with regards to my marriage.

But I should.

When Lent comes, I'm always unprepared. Most years, I don't know it's here until Ash Wednesday shows up and then I trot off to Church and wonder what I'll give up or do more of or such like. This year, we had a Mardi Gras party at our house on Fat Tuesday and while making Jambalaya, blasting my Southern Cooking Music throughout the house and downing Abita beers, I pondered what I might do for Lent. I always want something out of the ordinary and something that makes me a better version of myself, but I rarely can find the right thing, mostly because I wait until the last minute - coming out of church with ashes on my forehead.

I would never text or tweet in church. When we go to Mass, I turn my phone off and leave it in the car. When I'm driving with my wife or when we go out to lunch with the kids after Mass, I've got the phone on and respond to texts and tweets as they come in. There are some helpful moments where I use the phone to find information relevant to something we're discussing, but for the most part, I'm just texting and tweeting during Mass Matrimony.

For Lent, I'm giving up my phone when I'm alone with my wife. In the car, in a restaurant, out on a walk with the dogs, whatever. It's not OK to text in church.

An outward sign of inward grace.
* - The concept of grace is a fairly complicated one and this is a blog post, not a summary of the Catechism, so in the interest of brevity, I'll leave it to you to click around and discover the full meaning for yourself.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Bee Ball

I came home yesterday to find bees swarming in the front yard. They weren't aggressive and ended up making a bee ball and bedding down for the night in a bush. A pest control expert said bees don't normally make a hive in a bush, so they're probably just resting before they move on later today. They were very peaceful and let me get close to take some photos. I left the photos fairly large, so they might be worth a click.


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Going To School When You've Got A Family

... is really hard.

I was very fortunate to be able to finish my education before I got married and had kids. I didn't realize how fortunate until last night. This week, I'm taking a computer and network security class that will culminate in an exam which I need to pass to obtain my certificate. Yesterday, I needed to come home and study. However,
  • Our oldest son was sick
  • Our daughter needed tutoring in Chemistry
  • I had to shop for food
  • I needed to run two more errands that couldn't be postponed
  • I had to make dinner for the family
  • I had to walk the dogs
  • All of the daily chores the kids normally do were left to me because of illness and homework
  • My wife had to go to a fund-raiser for a mission in Central America
The class I'm taking isn't that big of a deal. I know about 70% of the material already so the instruction is just filling in the gaps. Still, it gave me a real wake-up call about those who try to take serious classes while parenting. If you're doing it, you've got my respect and admiration.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Japan And Israel Had Better Start Buying More Ships, Tanks And Airplanes

If the Syria debacle hadn't convinced them already, the Ukraine Surprise certainly must have. Anyone facing an existential threat from a neighboring country had better not rely on the US for protection. With the DoD drawing down forces as fast as possible and the Washington establishment living in an Ivy League faculty lounge bubble, trusting the US for your safety and existence is a fool's game.

Putin may have tanks and soldiers, but we've got gay ex-Olympians in drag on TV.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Reflections On Daily Blogging

So I stopped blogging every day a few months back. I found myself with too many obligations and not enough time. Those obligations are fading and I'm discovering that my self-discipline is waning. Will power grows with use and shrinks with disuse. Forcing myself to blog on a daily basis was aerobic exercise for the old super-ego.

I think I need to return to the daily blogging routine and get my self-discipline back in shape.

My self-discipline as it stands right now.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

How Many Drones Will We Need To Defend Ukraine?

Now that we're drawing down the Army to levels unseen in decades and we've gone all-in on technology, Russia goes and does something stupid like sending tanks and men into Ukraine. Tanks! Men! How very 1950s of them. Don't they know it's 2014? That sort of thing just isn't done any more. It's all about cyber warfare and precision strikes by unmanned vehicles.

It's like the Russians have never even heard of the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Cornell University. They're probably all graduates of some pathetic, backwater state college like that chilbilly hick, Sarah Palin.

How very gauche.