Sunday, April 30, 2017

Who's The Worst?

Nathan Bedford Forrest or Margaret Sanger?

Wandering around the Catican Compound yesterday, preparing for a party, I had my headphones on and was listening to Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography. To recap, Forrest was a brilliant, if unorthodox, Confederate cavalry general. He was also a slave trader before the war and after the war, became the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.

As I enjoyed war anecdotes where he won improbable victories - one with mostly unarmed recruits and another by moving his only two cannon around the field to make it seem like he had many, it dawned on me that, unlike campus Social Justice Warriors, I was capable of appreciating the genius of an utter moral reprobate despite his deep flaws. Generalizing it further, I could appreciate all kinds of historical figures, whatever their shortcomings. I wasn't applying modern moral purity tests on them to detect heretical beliefs and my life was richer because of it.

Note to Confederate apologists: The book has completely convinced me that war was over slavery and everything else was incidental. Further, I'm at the point in the story where Forrest ordered the massacre of surrendered Union troops, many of them new black volunteers. He was a total scumbag.

Anyway, it then occurred to me that many of the same people agitating for the removal of Confederate war memorials support Planned Parenthood which was started by Margaret Sanger, a genocidal racist. Why the double standard? Probably because, as Peggy Noonan recently noted, they're ignorant.
When I see tapes of the protests and riots at schools like Berkeley, Middlebury, Claremont McKenna and Yale, it doesn’t have the feel of something that happens in politics. It has the special brew of malice and personal instability seen in the Salem witch trials. It sent me back to rereading Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” Heather Mac Donald danced with the devil! Charles Murray put the needle in the poppet! As in 17th-century Salem, the accusers have no proof of anything because they don’t know, read or comprehend anything.
This then led me to wonder, who was worse, Forrest or Sanger? Forrest saw blacks as livestock, to be sold at $30,000 (2017 USD) apiece. Sanger, from her article, A Plan for Peace, had this point of view.
Minorities crammed into impoverished areas in inner cities should not be having so many babies. And, of course, these minorities (including most of America’s immigrants) are inferior in the human race, as are the physically and mentally handicapped. We should require mandatory sterilizations of those less desirable and promote easy access to abortion. And since sex should be a free-for-all, we must provide birth control and abortions to teenagers too. It’s all for the greater good and for a more intelligent, liberated, healthier population.
There's more. Lots more. Whereas Forrest exists only now in statues and namesakes, Sanger's work continues apace.
Here is the simple truth. The intent of Sanger’s Negro Project is firmly intact. Nearly 40% of all African-American pregnancies end in induced abortion. This is by design. Abortion kills more black people than the seven leading causes of death combined (heart disease, cancer, strokes, accidents, diabetes, homicide, and chronic lower respiratory diseases) according to CDC data. The African-American abortion rate is 3x that of the white population and over 2x that of all other races combined.
 Personally, I find them both despicable, but Sanger seems to have fewer redeeming qualities and her downside is much, much lower than Forrest's.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Deep South Dish

I recently added this blog to my sidebar and it's given me one success after another in the kitchen. I think I've tried four of her recipes and each one has been a real winner. Last night I made Cast Iron Skillet Roasted Cut Up Chicken. Absolutely fabulous.

Thyme, tarragon, rosemary, garlic, lemon ... Yum!
When people go to her blog, they end up happy and full. I suspect that when people come here, they edge towards the door, mumble something about having left their glasses in the car and then bolt, wondering as they drive away what the laws are regarding involuntary institutionalization.

Oh well. I stand by my choices.


Friday, April 28, 2017

How To Reconcile Feelings And Logic

A follow on to yesterday's post.
(F)inding a balance between feelz and logic ... it's all hogwash in the end as feelz must win out, otherwise what's the point?
Let us take as an example, finding the perimeter of a triangle.

Logic: The perimeter is the distance around the outside of a shape. Since a triangle has 3 sides, this is simple. The perimeter is the sum of lengths of the three sides.


How to resolve this: If you stand your ground and insist that the perimeter is equal to the sum of the lengths, you will be accused of hate speech, lagomorphophobia, a denial of bunny's reality, be excoriated on social media, have panelists on CNN and MSNBC drag your name through the mud and, in all likelihood, will be assaulted by members of ANTIFA and have your car set on fire. Since it's not often that you need to do anything with the perimeters of triangles, it's not like holding the line will bring you much benefit. Certainly nothing equivalent to all the costs.

In the end, your best bet is to issue a statement about the validity of bunny's sad and demand changes to our vocabulary as well as more funding for the study of sorrow in rabbits.

If that really bothers you, when you go home, you can always get drunk.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Learning Is Overrated

This is a follow-on to yesterday's sewer dive color commentary.
Race is comparatively trivial. A few cherry-picked stats showing your race is being mistreated and voila!, you've got an argument that can't be beat, so long as race is your differentiating factor. Depart from that and you might need to learn something.
In an NYT opinion piece, written by some professor whose head is filled with puffed rice cereal, lurks these tidbits.
During the 1980s and ’90s, a shift occurred in American culture; personal experience and testimony, especially of suffering and oppression, began to challenge the primacy of argument...Widespread caricatures of students as overly sensitive, vulnerable and entitled “snowflakes” fail to acknowledge the philosophical work that was carried out, especially in the 1980s and ’90s, to legitimate experience — especially traumatic experience — which had been dismissed for decades as unreliable, untrustworthy and inaccessible to understanding...The philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, best known for his prescient analysis in “The Postmodern Condition” of how public discourse discards the categories of true/false and just/unjust in favor of valuing the mere fact that something is being communicated, examined the tension between experience and argument in a different way.
There's a fig leaf of mumbling about finding a balance between feelz and logic, but it's all hogwash in the end as feelz must win out, otherwise what's the point? If you're going to listen to someone kvetch and then go with logic and knowledge, then the kvetching will have been dismissed as, well, "overly sensitive, vulnerable and entitled."

Giving traumatic experience the power to trump logic devalues knowledge, That's the beauty of our obsession with race and gender whether you're a black, lesbian Social Justice Warrior or some shaven, white ape longing for the Reich. You win the day when your side can muster more decibels of complaining than the other. At no point in time do you need to read, discuss or think. Meanwhile, Professor Puffed Wheat nods his head and talks about new directions in philosophical thought valuing "traumatic experience" more than ever before.

If that's the way things are going to go, it might be a good time to ditch the books and stock up on self-defense tools. Victory through yelling is just a hop, skip and a jump away from victory through gang fights.

On the plus side, less reading will give us more time for enjoying video games, weed and porn after we, err, resolve our differences.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Left, Right, It's All The Same

I hadn't planned on blogging about this today, but I spent about 20 minutes over coffee this morning sewer diving into a sequence of neo-Nazi timelines on Twitter. I clicked on one, just to get a flavor of it and then after scoping out his, scanned a few more for a while. It's no different from the racialist progressives I've been yelling about, living in Mein Kampf.

These guys were literally trying to live in Mein Kampf, each having at least one tweet wishing der Führer a happy birthday on that benighted anniversary.

I tried to step back and see what they had in common with their dance partners on the left and this was the best I could come up with: Arguing about race is easier than understanding ideas.

Islam is an idea. Judaism is an idea. Skin color isn't an idea. Debating ideas, even superficially, requires some amount of comprehension and opens you up to attack by people who know more than you about the subject. Race is comparatively trivial. A few cherry-picked stats showing your race is being mistreated and voila!, you've got an argument that can't be beat, so long as race is your differentiating factor. Depart from that and you might need to learn something. The horror.

And so it went in this particular sewer. Data taken from the census bureau or law enforcement sites was repeated over and over again along with ghastly images. Yep, the white race was oppressed or superior or something. It was hard to tell just what the point was. The only plus side was that these cretins had under 1000 followers each. The race-crazed dervishes on the left typically have at least an order of magnitude more reach on Twitter, due to their brain-dead narrative being repeated in the media and arts ad nauseam.

In any case, no one on either side has any need to think or learn so long as they stick with the melanin.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Why Han Solo Wasn't In Corporate Life

... because he solved his problems as they arose vice planning for them.

In the movies

(Millenium Falcon dodging asteroids and TIE fighters while Han tries to repair the hyperdrive)

Han: I don't know how we're going to get out of this one.

In a large corporation

(Han standing in the office of his manager)

Manager: SOLO! I want a presentation on how you're going to get out of this one on my desk for review by tomorrow at 9! It needs to cover schedule, budget, quality assurance, risks and process improvement iterations!

Han: (Sigh)

Monday, April 24, 2017

This One's A Real Drag

My cold is still dragging me down. The best I have to offer today is a Maddi lolcat. Enjoy!

Maddi may be on the job and eager to work, but I'm just hanging on today. Blargh.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sphinx Moths Sipping

Thanks to our unusually wet winter, we've had an abnormally large springtime insect bloom. In addition to the Crane Flies I've photographed recently, there are Sphinx Moths a-plenty. I caught some of them sipping on flowers in our back yard last night. I shot it in 1080p and then edited it down to 720p to focus on the moths. It might be worth watching in full-screen mode. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bill O'Reilly And Celebrity Psychosis

I'm listening to Mike Nesmith's autobiography, Infinite Tuesday, these days. Mike was one of the Monkees, in case you didn't know. The book is painfully honest and that gives it tremendous charm. More on that in another blog post, perhaps.

Mike coins the term, "Celebrity Psychosis," to describe what happens to you when you become a big star. You turn into something of a psychotic and it comes to dominate your life if you don't fight it tooth and nail, which most people can't. It's what causes celebrities to park their cars in fire lanes and be deeply offended when the car gets towed. It makes then scream at paparazzi and then pose for photographers to make sure their face is seen in all the right places. You take advantage of those around you because you feel entitled, entitled to everything.

Bill O'Reilly seems to have succumbed to CP. I have to admit that I never watched him, save for catching some Dennis Miller clips on YouTube. I loved his book, Killing Jesus, but I thought his rants and his show to be insufferable. As the stories come out about his behavior, which I must admit I'm watching only tangentially, they're echoes of stories Mike tells in his book about his own horrible actions. Bill O'Reilly never stopped himself because, well, "Don't you know who I am?"

One wonders who Mike or Bill or Bill Cosby, for that matter, might have become in the absence of celebrity. Decent people, probably. Mike Nesmith finds redemption and one hopes both of the Bills will as well.

In Infinite Tuesday, I've just reached the point where MTV was created. Interestingly enough, the genesis of it was this music video that Mike put together to play on European channels as a promo for one of his albums. Up to that point, pop clips, as they were called, were just the artist lip-synching to the song and had no action or plot at all. By comparison, Rio is positively inspired. Enjoy.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Spanish Flu

My cold is really dragging me down right now. One of my coworkers is starting to get it, too. Sometimes when this happens, I wonder if it's the start of an epidemic and we'll be patient zero in something like the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918. We won't, of course, but it makes you wonder what it was like as it started. You've got to figure that the first people who came down with it blew it off as just another flu or cold.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Living In Mein Kampf

From an article by Republican political operative Ed Rogers on the recent special Congressional election in Georgia wherein the Democrats, funded lavishly by outside money, fell just short of taking the seat, comes this sentence, the 4th one into the piece.
It seems strange, but today’s liberals invested a huge amount of money, media attention, and hopes and dreams in a 30-year-old straight, white Southern male.
Mein Kampf is a horrible book, and not just for the meat of its content. It's ignorant, bombastic and badly written, accurately reflecting the lousy mind from which it sprung. It also shows that no one felt comfortable editing der future-Führer's work. Had a decent editor taken a whack at it, they might have asked him to do more research, add counter-arguments and debate them and, for the love of God, delete whole sections of utter bollocks.

I feel like we're in that world right now, one of unedited, histrionic, race-crazed rubbish. When Ed Rogers, a guy who probably thinks oatmeal is too spicy, feels the need to whip out the white male card four sentences into an utterly forgettable piece, you know we've entered Spandau Prison and are all pacing back and forth in front of our secretaries, waving our arms and ranting wildly about der Volk.

All of us.

I have the beginnings of a cold today. Praise Jesus for Nyquil because that wonder drug helped me sleep last night and I might avoid the worst of the sickness. I just bought a spring suit (short-limbed wetsuit) and am looking forward to getting back into boogie boarding. At work, I'm thoroughly enjoying being more technical again and have found that I enjoy server configuration and programming. Newcastle United is threatening a late-season collapse that could keep them out of the English Premier League next year, which would be tragic for me.

There is nothing, nothing at all in my life that has anything even remotely to do with der Volk, be they schwarz, weiß oder braun.

What kind of strange, surreal world do we inhabit these days? It's like every story, every opinion piece has to trot out racial facts in the first few lines. Meanwhile, our daily lives are almost completely unaffected by it.

It's enough to make you stop reading and watching the stuff. Which I have done, save for some guilty pleasure time wherein I consume it like I would candy.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Prayer And Used Cars

So my friend who had cancer, for whom I was praying and had given up beer, turned out to be alright. The tumors were benign. The affected organ had to come out no matter what, but the results were the best possible. That got me to thinking.

Have you ever bought a used car and later wondered if you could have gotten it for less?

Maybe I didn't need to say a Rosary every day and give up beer. Maybe a Rosary every other day and just give up double IPAs...

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ayn Rand And The KKK

How's that for a click-baity title?

I'm currently thoroughly enjoying this biography of Nathan Bedford Forrest (NBF).

NBF was perhaps the most successful Confederate general of the war. If I recall the quote correctly, General Sherman once said, "Even if it took the lives of 10,000 men and bankrupted the Union, that man needs to be caught and killed!" NBF fought with crazed ferocity and was personally credited with killing 30 Union troopers in hand-to-hand combat. NBF's cavalry was feared and rightly so.

That's interesting, but it's not the point. Prior to the war, NBF was a slave trader in Memphis. With the supply of new slaves from Africa cut off as of the early 1800s, slaves were extremely valuable, fetching over $1000 each which today would be on the order of $30,000. The book details his trading and treatment of the slaves and it's quite illuminating. For example, he very rarely separated mothers and children. This was not due to a kind heart, it was a strictly business decision. Young children separated from their mothers did poorly, lowering their price. The same went for mothers whose children had been sold away.

Slaves were seen as livestock. Just as you wouldn't mistreat a prized horse, you certainly didn't mistreat a slave if it could be avoided, slaves being worth many multiples of almost any horse. That's not to say that punishment for infractions wasn't severe, it's just that the slaves were one of the largest investments, if not the largest investment of any enterprise.

Therein lies the connection to Ayn Rand's philosophies. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a true Randian. He did things for money and family and not much else. Up until his last years, he was an unbeliever and there's no indication in the book that he possessed any moral framework outside of his self-interest and his love for his family.

From an Objectivist point of view, why was what NBF did wrong? He was working to maximize economic value, wasn't he? He acted out of cold, impersonal logic and followed no superstitions. That it led him to trade in slaves, defend the Confederacy and become the first Grand Wizard of the KKK after the war seems immaterial to any objections a Randian might raise.

Wouldn't it have made for a more interesting novel if, in Atlas Shrugged, some of the people of Galt's Gulch had owned slaves? Without God and objective morality from a source outside ourselves, why shouldn't they?

Nathan Bedford Forrest fighting to defend his right to make dollars at the expense of human lives. Today, he might have been a board member at Planned Parenthood.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Peaceful Repose

I have a different post written in my head comparing Nathan Bedford Forrest and Ayn Rand, but I don't have the time to type it out, so this lovely photo of our Maximum Leader, Maddi, lying on a cherry floor will have to do. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

What could be more Easter-y than a huge patch of lovely, yellow wildflowers? We saw these while taking the Catican Guards out for maneuvers at Mission Trails Park.

Enjoy and God bless!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Why Even Bother With A DSLR?

... when you can get shots like this with your phone.

I tried getting crane fly shots with my Nikon D60 Artillery Piece in macro mode and ended up disappointed. I took two hipshots with my Galaxy S7 and got this one.

I left it big, so I think it's worth a click. You can really see the structure of the wings and the segments on the body. Enjoy!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ladies, It's Important To Let Your Man Pick The Restaurant

... and it should go something like this.
Wife: "Let's go out to eat tonight."

Me: "Great, let's do it!"

Wife: "You pick this time. What sounds good to you?"

Me: "How about Japanese?"

Wife: "No"

Me: "Southern?" 
Wife: "No."

Me: "BBQ?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Indian?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Korean?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Steak?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Cajun?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Brew pub?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Chinese?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "How about Italian?"

Wife: "But you hate Italian."

Me: "Yes, but I know it's something you like and at this point, I'm more worried about starving to death."

Wife: "OK, Italian it is!"

Me, under my breath: "Well, at least I got to pick. (Sigh)"
And that, my fairer readers, is how it's done. ;-)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Plastic Bags And Surgery

A dear friend of mine just went through kidney removal surgery. It had shown masses in it and, as organ cancers are really nasty, the doctors insisted on removal. He went through the surgery easily, still has one good kidney and, best of all, his pathology report came back benign. Woot!

He described the surgery to me. They make an incision under the kidney, wrap it in a plastic bag and then pull it out in the bag.

A plastic bag?!? How did they discover that? Can't you just see the whiteboard at the experimental surgery hospital?

Options for Kidney Removal

  • Turkey baster
  • BBQ tongs
  • Garden hose
  • Plastic bag
Yep, that's the one!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Uncertainty Is The Policy

Jonah Goldberg, whom I respect immensely, approves of the the missile strike on Syria, but doesn't see anything but chaos, confusion and unfocused behavior after that.
If I may extend Krauthammer’s metaphor a bit: A staple of nearly every Western with a new sheriff in town is the nefarious saloon full of scoundrels and women of easy virtue. The new lawman comes in and fires a warning shot in the air. The piano player pauses. The bartender freezes.

And the sheriff says . . . ?

Well that’s just it, isn’t it? Trump got everyone’s attention with those 59 Tomahawk missiles. But he doesn’t seem interested in telling us how to interpret them.
As much as I love Jonah, I think he's missing the point. He's right in that there's no Trump policy; inconsistent statements by his people show that conclusively. What he's missing is that Trump's lack of core beliefs is itself a policy. His policy is whatever he wants right now. His willingness to use the awesome power of the US means his whims have enormous weight, hence China putting 100,000+ troops on the North Korean border.

To continue Jonah's analogy, the sheriff shoots some bad guy's horse, glares around, makes some crazy statements about not liking this or that and then goes back to his office. What does it all mean, the townsfolk wonder. Who knows? Just don't get on his bad side! You have no idea what might set him off, but you know he's perfectly willing to shoot your horse, your dog or even you.

Now I think it's unfair to say Trump has no policy. He doesn't work in detailed policy statements, he works in broad directions. If you doubt that, check out his appointments. They might not know the details of what he wants, but it's clear that jobs is the most important thing domestically and respect is the most important thing internationally.

Is that so bad?

Something like this.

The Great Crane Fly Invasion Of 2017

... is almost over. Due to our extraordinarily wet winter, we had a huge bloom of crane flies. I tried to get photos, but only a few turned out even halfway decent. The camera had a hard time focusing on their tiny bodies and I didn't manually focus because I'm lazy. Here's a selection of 6 photos, 2 from a live one on the wall and 4 from a dead one.

To me, they look like little caterpillars with wings and spindly legs. Which they are. As I understand it, as flyers, all they do is mate, lay eggs and die. They last for about a week in this state.

Aside: For those who have been kind to me and concerned about my recent catastrophe, I've managed to work it down from a grand piano being dropped on me to being hit in the head with a thrown brick. The key to defusing the problem was to be honest and gentle and realize that I could always get angry and vengeful tomorrow.

Anyway, enjoy the photos. Well, as much as anyone can enjoy pictures of dead, spindly insects.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Reading Linux Logs Is Easy

Have you ever thought something was black magic and available solely to experts only to discover that it's pretty straightforward? I just had that experience today with logs in Linux.

Back in the day, I was very technical - mathematics, programming, technical writing, etc. These days I'm far less so, but once in a while I need to pitch in and it's good to find out I can still do it if required.

Moral of the story: Don't sell yourself short! Sure, some things will be beyond you, but at least give yourself the opportunity to succeed.

Monday, April 10, 2017

How To Know You've Turned The Corner

... it's when you can start empathizing with others again.

I got whacked with a staggering setback late Thursday afternoon and have been blogging my recovery experiences since then. I apologize to my regular readers who are looking for my normal, hypocritical, uninformed snark. I promise I'll get back to having opinions on things I don't understand soon. For right now, as this blog is a learning tool for me, I want to share the journey from grand-piano-falling-on-me to emotional and mental normalcy.

As blows go in my life, this is in the top 10, maybe as high as #5. It's been a long, strange trip from birth to today. The really big blows have given me perspective and balance, so this one was devastating, but, taken in proportion with the others, not the end of the world.

I tell our kids not to sweat failure because you can recover from almost anything and this is no different.

By the way, next time you have to face a personal hurricane in your life, check out this reddit thread wherein people share the worst things that have ever happened to them. I've got two events in my life that can match most of these examples for sheer horribleness, but some of these are just over-the-top crazy awful. All you want to do is hug and listen to these people and let them know they're loved.

Therein lies the corner-turning.

I was at Mass with my lovely and supportive wife last night, in the pew behind a good friend and his wife. I suddenly had an overpowering urge to take him out for beers and have him tell me about the worst thing(s) that ever happened to him. I didn't want to unload on him, I wanted to learn of his intimate sorrows and comfort him in whatever they were.

I started looking around, particularly at the older parishioners and imagined what they might say. Children lost to disease or drugs, marriages that had failed, abuse by parents, the church was full of people who had experienced deep sorrows. I wanted to hear them all and give them love.

I thought of my own friends and family. A son who had been sick recently. A personal sorrow my wife was experiencing. A dear friend who had just lost her mother. My own parents and their physical ailments. When we left church, I texted our son and asked him how he was doing. I texted another of our sons and asked about his weekend. I thanked our daughter for coming over for dinner on Saturday night. We then went out to dinner with our recently-bereaved friend.

The readings last night were all about those times when you feel God has forsaken you. In my current case, I didn't think for a second that God was somehow behind all of this. He was there for me, I just needed to get past my animal, limbic reaction to the event, calm down my lizard brain and get back to what mattered - being more like Christ.

As an aside, I realized that was what was going on. The shock of the thing had triggered a limbic response and I was simply incapable of spiritual sophistication, hence the difficulty praying. That's a higher-order function and requires stability in the layers below.

This has reached tl;dr territory, so I'll close with this - it's when you can feel for others again and focus on giving them love and support that you know you've turned the corner.

Last night, I finally wanted to be back giving the hugs, not receiving them.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Fasting And Prayer In A Time Of Stress

I blogged in the past about advice given me by a dear friend, re: fasting in crisis.
My friend talked about using alcohol as a pain killer and how you get trapped by it. When you're going through bad times, it's easy to have a drink or three or four to get through it. His bad times were worse than most by a good margin so his analgesic needs were substantial. He said what happened was that when the pain went away, the booze was still there. Just as Screwtape said, the pain-relieving nature of pleasure had turned into a hunger for that pleasure that outlived the need.

My friend said that it's in the bad times when you need to fast more than ever. That shocked me, but it made sense.
That's all well and good, but to put it in practice, you have to be coherent enough to remember to do it.

Almost there.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

God Is My Comfort

This week, I suffered an unbelievably unjust and damaging blow. I won't go into a description of it, but I'm hoping that in time, with patience and honesty, I'll be able to rectify the situation.  This portion of Kipling's If sums the current state of things up nicely.
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
It's taken me two days to get my head back together from the impact. It so took me by surprise that I've been reeling ever since. My sleeping and waking schedules have become completely random from the stress. It wasn't until last night around 1:30 AM when I sat down and actually put pen to paper* in composing a response that I've been able to have any kind of peace.

I don't know how secular people deal with things like this, but for me, I was able to turn to prayer. Admittedly, it's taken two days to even get to the point where I could pray and meditate coherently, but now that I've started, it's made a big difference. I started to a Novena to the Holy Spirit and from the start, I saw that all injustices and destructive actions in life are the same.

Each setback is alike, spiritually. It's just another opportunity to turn to God and realize that through life you are given these trials and through mortality there will only be a finite number of them. Setbacks which seriously damage personal accomplishments or put life-goals at risk can be intensely painful, but they do not harm your reason for existence. Being more like Christ is why we're here. Spreading the Gospel is why we're here.

Speedbumps, punches to the face or even grand pianos dropped on you from a great height are only shadows of what really matters. They are phantoms, as temporary as your corporeal body. They will die and fall to dust, but you will not.

I'm still a bit incoherent from the shock of the thing, so I think I'll close this out. My faith gives me solace in a way that nothing else can, as far as I can tell.

I hope you don't find yourself in a similar situation, but if you do, I hope you can find peace in God.
* - Actually, it was fingers to keyboard, but "pen to paper" sounds so much better.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Trump Strikes Syria, CNN Hardest Hit

I've blogged before that I can't even get to first base on the Russians-hacked-the-election thing.
Trump OK'd the oil pipeline, making it much easier to extract oil out there where the bigots live in flyover country. Russia's primary source of hard currency is raw materials, specifically oil. If we produce more, the price goes down and the Russians are harmed.

Trump is asking for a defense build-up which will make us more able to face off with the Russkies in places like Syria and Ukraine. That's bad for Russia.

Trump is asking NATO to do more than hire hairdressers in their military and finally have armies worthy of the name. Those armies pose a direct threat to Russia's imperialist aims in Ukraine and the Baltics. That's not good for Ivan, either.

What am I missing here? It looks to me like the whole Trump thing has been bad for Putin and his goons. Why should I worry about whether or not some Senator talked to the Russian ambassador, particularly when they all did it as a matter of their normal jobs?
Now we have a missile strike on a Syrian airbase in response to the Russia-backed Syrians using poison gas.

Memo to Barack Obama: That's what reacting to someone crossing a red line looks like, sweetie.

From today's WSJ, we have this:
MOSCOW—Russia on Friday suspended a U.S.-Russian agreement on coordinating air operations over Syria in response to a U.S. strike on a Syrian airfield.

“The Russian President considers the American strikes on Syria aggression against a sovereign government in violation of the norms of international rights and under a contrived pretext,” the Kremlin said.
How much farther can the conspiracy theorists in the media and the Democratic Party (but I repeat myself) take the Trump-Russian connection now? Meanwhile, Susan Rice's apparent efforts to use the national security apparatus to spy on political enemies looks to be something real.

Here, mainstream media outlets discover they lit the wrong cigar. Again.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Voters Went Nuclear

If we voters wanted comity and calm, honest debate, that's what the politicians in the Senate would be doing. Instead, they nuked the filibuster because the Democrats, fearing the rage of their base, refused to vote on a Supreme Court nominee.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Fringe Topper

Out at my folks' house, there's a lovely fringe tree with a beautiful tree of unknown type behind it. The geometry of the situation led to what I think is a lovely photo. I left it fairly large, so it might be worth a click. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Maxim Gun And The Benedict Option

This is almost to the payoff to the series of posts I've been doing responding to Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option wherein Rod lays out a plan for remaining faithful to orthodoxy in a culture increasingly hostile to religion. So far, we have:
Today we ask the question, "Why surrender?"

At the Battle of Omdurman, a British force armed with Maxim guns defeated a larger force of Islamic rebels armed with some rifles and lots of pointy things. Hilaire Belloc wrote a poem about it with this snippet.
Whatever happens we have got
The Maxim Gun, and they have not.
That is absolutely the way things are with Christians today. Check out this bit from an old post here on the blog.
Dig this.
For sexual abuse the rates are even higher. Compared to the always intact married family:
  • The rate of sexual abuse is 5 times higher in the single parent family and when both biological parents are cohabiting (i.e. unmarried).
  • The rate of sexual abuse is 8.6 times higher if the child is living in a married step family.
  • The rate of sexual abuse is 20 times higher if the mother is cohabiting with a boyfriend.

If we acknowledged these facts, we'd have to re-examine our take on subjective morality and all-families-are-equal. We're not yet prepared to do that. Reality is a funny thing, though. You can only ignore it for so long.
So Christians espouse a way of life that results in, at worst, 5x fewer incidents of sexual abuse and we're losing the culture war?

All kinds of stats show the same thing. Try this quote on porn usage, something our faith tells us is wrong: "As many British men in their teens and twenties have erectile dysfunction as men in their fifties and sixties." Wow.

In those two tidbits alone, we can kick the secular world's butt on child abuse and sex. That's a couple of Maxim guns right there.

The Benedict Option? Retreating into enclaves when you have overwhelming superiority of firepower?


Monday, April 03, 2017

Doom And The Benedict Option

This is the third in a series of posts responding to Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option wherein Rod lays out a plan for remaining faithful to orthodoxy in a culture increasingly hostile to religion. So far, we have:

Major shifts in the way the world works are coming. Many of them will be quite unpleasant. Almost none of them are related to religion, save as it applies to Islam. My argument here is that while things seem to be bad right now, 20 years from now things will be wildly different and that will have unknown effects on the Church. Forces larger than the ones we typically associate with faith are at work.

The West is aging. Japan is in really bad shape with more adult diapers being sold than children's diapers. Europe, including Russia, have birth rates well below replacement, except in the Muslim subculture where the population is growing. Nations and institutions we think of as solid are slowly fading away. Larger and larger portions of Europe will become Islamic over the next 20 years.

The global financial system is quite literally living on borrowed time. I've blogged ad nauseam about this, so suffice it to say that nations with low birth rates plus Muslim growth plus crazy levels of debt will resculpt what used to be the Christian West in far-reaching and unpredictable ways in the next 20 years, none of it for the better.

It may be that the future of Christianity will be found in Africa. Yes, they've got problems, but maybe they're coming out of some of the worst of them instead of going into a maelstrom like Europe and Japan. Statistics on religious behavior in Europe and the US may say one thing, but say something else entirely in Africa.

Note that this is almost entirely orthogonal to the points that Rod tries to make because he's dealing with America. What I'm trying to suggest is that there is energy and activity elsewhere. The enervated state of the Church in the West is matched by its economics and demographics. Are those issues similar or related in some way not unique to faith?

Once upon a time, North America imported religious teaching and evangelization in the form of missionaries from across the sea. Having met some African priests, I could see that happening again.

It would be way cool if the next Pope was one of these guys.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Gay Marriage And The Benedict Option

This is the second in a series of posts responding to Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option wherein Rod lays out a plan for remaining faithful to orthodoxy in a culture increasingly hostile to religion. The first post is here.

Two points to start.

First, I think gay marriage is silly. It's the fitting topper to a culture that, when asked to play the Sesame Street game, "Which one of these is not like the other ones?," is completely flummoxed and can't bring itself to say there's a difference between human behaviors*. Reproductive biology says otherwise, but what's that compared to how we feel? In any case, I think it's silly, but not much more than that.

Second, bake the damn cake already. Planned Parenthood is slaughtering babies at a rate that would make Eichman jealous and gay marriage is the hill you want to die on? It's a good bet that there's a Einsatzgruppen unit operating within 10 miles of you, but if two guys like playing with Easy Bake Ovens and watching My Little Pony, you lose your marbles? Really? Just bake the cake, arrange the flowers, serve the pizza and move on.

Instead, much of Christian America has had an apoplectic fit over gay marriage. Yes it was a authoritarian move by the court. Yes, we voted against it time and again and yes five would-be-Reichsmarshalls in robes told us what we could do with our precious "democracy," but what of it? We didn't go underground over slavery, we didn't go underground over abortion and we didn't go underground when the first modern progressive president, Democrat Woodrow Wilson, decided to re-segregate the civil service. Why go bonkers over this?

Let me offer you a few choices. Would you rather:
  • Decrease abortions by 50% or fight gay marriage?
  • Decrease illegitimacy by 50% or fight gay marriage?
  • Double church attendance or fight gay marriage?
  • Make your church a lot more active in the community or fight gay marriage?
You tell the world what is important to you by the way you spend your time, money and energy. To me, all four of those are huge while gay marriage, as I said above, is just silly.

This is not the fight to have because the outcome is almost irrelevant.

More thoughts in upcoming posts.

Oh come on. It's not dangerous, it's ludicrous.
* - Unless it involves intolerance, judgment or smoking in some way. Then you can really tell the difference.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

The Benedict Option In The Antebellum South

Note: Anon has made some excellent corrections to factual errors in this post in the comments. I don't think they significantly change the point, but it's interesting to see how sources I took to be accurate may well have been in error.

Update to the Note: As I say in the post, it's more complicated than that.

This is the first in a series of posts responding to Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option wherein Rod lays out a plan for remaining faithful to orthodoxy in a culture increasingly hostile to religion.

In order to prevent this from becoming a tl;dr post, let me give my sources here and then go straight into a brief analysis.
The world is a mess and it's tough to cling to Catholic orthodoxy while surrounded by temptations, ignorant attacks and criticism. But then the world has always been such a place. Each time has it's own problems, whether that's sex-crazed progressives trying to force priests to marry people to quadrupeds* or it's Antebellum America where we practiced slavery.

The Church was conflicted on slavery. While for the most part, it was anti-slavery, there were members of the clergy who were not. It was very complicated and didn't fall along simple lines. Almost nothing the modern narrative holds forth about slavery is clearly true. 

For example, in the 1830s, Virginia, who would later house the capital of the Confederacy, missed abolishing slavery by a single vote. Robert E. Lee freed his father's slaves after the Confederates' victory at Fredericksburg while U. S. Grant had three during the war. In fact, after the fall of Richmond, his wife came to visit and brought one of the slaves. That meant that the only slave in Richmond belonged to the victorious Union general.

The Pope was against slavery, but gave solace to Jefferson Davis while he was in prison after the war. Nothing about the topic is simple or clear-cut.

The Pope was sympathetic to Jefferson Davis because he felt, probably rightly so, that despite slavery, the South was more supportive of the Church than the North. Just as Pope Francis had a pleasant visit with President Obama, who eagerly financed the American Auschwitz that is Planned Parenthood, Pius IX took a much longer-term view and, as far as I can tell, tried to focus on areas of agreement rather than pitching a fit over slavery. Had he done so, it's not clear that things would have ended well for the Church, whose mission will always be ongoing rather than immediate.

Part of what makes things messy is that the clergy is always drawn from the populace. That may seem like a ridiculously obvious thing to say, but consider its implications. Those young men and women who took Holy Orders at the time did so with all of the cultural assumptions they brought with them from their families and surrounding society. Some came from slave-owning families, some came from strict abolitionist families.

That's the way things have always been and always will be. We will forever have to deal with imperfect people, imperfect cultures and imperfect and uneven clergy. We may have the Truth, but in every era, there's some part of the culture that will deny and attack the Truth.

At issue is what to do about it. The modern world, where progressives pretty much own the culture and hold simplistic, binary views about sexual social justice** is not different in principle from the Antebellum US where most Democrats held simplistic, binary views on the humanity of blacks. The Church was incompatible then and it's incompatible now. So what?

I'm starting to steal from my next post, so I'll end it with this.

All things considered, since I must live in a world that is not completely in harmony with my faith, I'd much rather live the one where the people attacking me are doing so for sexual freedom than slavery. The culture is indeed hostile to parts of the Church, but we've had worse.

More later.

Blessed Pope Pius IX. I would not have wanted to be in his shoes.
* - Here, I anticipate the next battle in the war. 

** - If you oppose gay marriage, it's because you're a hateful homophobe. This is followed by fingers being stuck in ears and a shouted "LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA!"