Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Street Racing And Self-Driving Cars

Once self-driving cars become common on the roadways, I would think that street racing would be less risky as the intelligent cars would get out of your way. Imagine the video below re-done where the rest of the cars instantly move to avoid the racer.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Gender Equivalence And Dating

Update: This post was motivated by watching a few young couples have unnecessary disagreements due to neither understanding their differences and roles. I pondered suggesting that they read some classics of chivalric romance, but figured that wasn't going to happen. Instead, I wrote this post. Which none of them will read. Helpful, that's me.

A man should not criticize his girlfriend unless it's for something egregious. Women can be emotionally hurt easily. I'd heard that before, but when I coached girls' soccer, I discovered it in spades. The boys on my baseball teams could take harsh statements from time to time, but the girls didn't respond well to it at all.

Women should appreciate their boyfriends. A man's self-worth comes in a great part from the way his woman sees him. If she berates him or belittles his skills, he loses self-confidence. I've seen that in my own life and in conversations with friends.

If our kids are taught gender equivalence, then the notion that men and women should treat each other very differently will be learned at a high cost. Before even getting to the dating lessons of hard knocks, more hard knocks will be required to teach them that men and women are substantially different.

In related news, the Australian women's Olympic soccer team was annihilated by a boys' U-15 club team, 7-0. No surprise there to those of us who have dismissed gender equivalence as utter rubbish.
The Matildas are strongly fancied to give Australia's its best ever shot at a medal in the sport of football at the Rio Olympics in August. Perhaps they should be grateful there will be no under-16s boys' teams in their pool.

In a friendly match against the Newcastle Jets under-16 boys team on Wednesday, the Matildas were humbled 7-0. That's right, the team ranked fifth in FIFA's women's rankings were roughed up by a bunch of lads barely old enough to shave.
That being an excerpt from a Huffington Post article, the author is shocked at the result. "That's right, the team ranked fifth in FIFA's women's rankings were roughed up by a bunch of lads barely old enough to shave." Well, duh. If you've ever seen a scrimmage between men's and women's soccer teams, this result is no surprise at all.

You know, sometimes it feels like we're trying as hard as we can to make ourselves ignorant.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Life Is Complicated And Yet It Is Simple

How's that for Zen?

In a typically cogent comment on this post, Tim mused about the "nebulously-defined benefits" of going to church. He perfectly encapsulates how we (members of the Church) consistently and completely miss the mark when we talk about the value of religion in your life. I myself am egregiously guilty of it.

It's the Truth, stupid.

We shouldn't attend services and practice our faith because we're going to get something out of it. We should do it because our faith is the Truth. The worldly benefits that accrue are natural and unavoidable side-effects of embracing the Truth.

I once gave a talk at a Cursillo in Action gathering where I laid this out. Practicing my Catholic faith was incredibly profitable in my life. Make no mistake, I mean my faith was enormously profitable in the worldly sense - money, friends and influence. While preparing for the talk, it took no time at all to come up with enough examples to fill 5 talks.

That's exactly what you would expect if Catholicism (a nod to my Protestant friends here*) was the Truth. Just as using Newton's Laws leads to lots of benefits in the practice of Physics, trying to imitate Christ leads to lots of benefits in life. If it didn't, then atheists, who thrive on empirical evidence, would posit a moral code totally at odds with ours. They typically don't. The empirical evidence they cite when talking about how atheists can be "good" is just looking at the reflection of the world on the surface of a pond and mistaking it for the real thing.

It's not the benefits that should drive you to Mass, it's the Truth. The benefits come when you embrace the Truth.

In the end, we all have our own internal concept of the Truth.

* - It is my deeply-held belief that Protestants will indeed go to heaven, but that they will get the rooms next to the elevators and ice makers.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Realizing That Gender Equivalence Is Clearly Insane

... leads to very bad results for women.

This essay about re-tribalizing America is easily the best one on any subject that I've read all year. It assembles facts into a coherent picture of what is happening right now in American culture in a way that clarifies so much of what had been a jumble in my head. I'm still processing it, but here's a single paragraph excerpt and a bit of commentary.
As Dreher adequately documents, the hegemonic narrative regarding gender is clearly insane. And while the level of insanity has climbed exponentially in the past decade, virtually everyone under-30 (my generation) has been marinated in relentless gender-equivalence propaganda since kindergarden. But, as the male cohort grows older, the distance between the experienced reality of of the dating market and the official dogma becomes unsustainable. The cognitive dissonance is simply too great, and boys are driven to seek answers elsewhere. And those answers come, with varying degrees of accuracy and crudity, from the PUA/Game/MRA/RedPill blogs. Whatever their faults, they all have one redeeming quality – they are manifestly not insane. This comes as a great shock and relief to boys. A shock because they realize the magnitude of the deception they have experienced, and a relief because they realize they are not the crazy ones.
Our sons have all gone through exactly this. As they were raised in a devoutly Catholic home and sent to Catholic schools*, they have not latched on to the Pick Up Artist (PUA) or Men's Rights Activist (MRA) movements, but they know for a fact that all of the gender equivalence they were taught in school is utter nonsense. Dittos for the racial grievances.

Our boys are not tribalizing in the way the essay suggests because they have a centering, Catholic foundation, but what of the boys raised in secular homes where there is no indisputable basis for objective morality?

In the long run, the fundamental problem the secular world faces is that it can't articulate an answer to the question, "Why not?"

Here's what our boys feel: I've been lied to and put down all my life for behaving as a man. No matter what I do, I'm held responsible for things that happened in the past and behaviors that are instinctive, like appreciating a beautiful woman. Their secular peers are taking this to the next level and deciding that if it was all a crock, why shouldn't they do what their bodies demand?

Without an objective basis for behavior, the secular world can't answer that "Why not?"

It goes further than that. Just as the Catholic abuse scandal rocked the church by attacking its moral foundations, the insanity of the gender equivalence movement is undermining the moral foundations of the secular world. Those foundations were always thin and weak as they're based on personal, subjective ethics so it doesn't take much to totally wash them away. "Sin is being out of alignment with my values" as Barack Obama said, emphasis mine. The end result is exactly what we're seeing in the culture. Lots of preening about gender equivalence by the elites in universities, the arts and government, but in practice, the use and abuse of women by men who have learned it was all a lie.

Gender equivalence was always a crock. Women and men are complimentary as St. John Paul II cogently argued in his Theology of the Body.

* - While public schools are an order of magnitude worse, if you think Catholic schools aren't at least partially infested with this nonsense, you are sadly mistaken.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Without Truth, There's No Church

I'm reading a book right now on why Catholics, particularly young ones, are leaving the Church. It gives several reasons derived from surveys, all of them valid. I'm in a hurry this morning, so I don't have time to give you the list; I'm sure you can guess most of them.

I agree with it at the micro level, but not at the macro level.

At the macro level, what has happened is that we no longer believe in the Truth. That is, there is no one Truth for people to find about life, morality, salvation*, God* and the other over-arching questions in life. Catholicism is all about defining the Truth through logic, experience and prayer. If there is no Truth, there's no point looking for it and no point in an institution that purports to offer it.

The Church is like a store that says it sells unicorns. Since unicorns don't exist**, there's no point frequenting the establishment. It's not that God is like a unicorn, it's that Truth is like a unicorn. Most of the people leaving the Church aren't becoming atheists, they're just bailing out on the institution.

More ponderings on this later.

* - Assuming, of course, that God and salvation exist.

** - Update: In the comments, Foxie points out the flaw in my unicorn analogy. The Truth really does exist, it's just that we don't think it does. The store really does sell unicorns, but the customers refuse to see them and therefor don't come in to shop. It's still a lousy analogy, but at least now it's a bit better. Thanks, Foxfier.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Greece's Future In One Chart

... and maybe not the one you'd think.

Greek GDP is way off its peak and isn't going anywhere.

Meanwhile, they're borrowing money to make the payments on their debts. To say that they're going to grow their way out of this is an act of pure optimism. There's no indication of growth at all. In fact, given their location on the Islamic invasion route, it's a good bet that Greek GDP is going to start going down.

I have a blog post in mind about the progressive, post-modern, secular world and debt as a sequel to the one about their attitude towards children, but I've been struggling with the data. Perhaps this data says it all. Europe is as progressive, post-modern and secularist as it gets. If this is indicative of anything, it's that the Euros see debt as a way to hide from reality.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Life On The Road

I'm away from home this week, playing concerts* on the East Coast. This trip has been a grind as our hosts are young and inexperienced and are over-scheduling us. We're running from one venue to the next, wolfing down Subway sandwiches for lunch before launching into another presentation. Sometimes our talks go long and we're late for the next one. It's all good, though. The crowds have responded well and the trip has been worthwhile.

In my life, almost everything has a Monkees reference and this is no different. From "Monkees on Tour," here's Mike quoting Peter about life on the road. I always think about this clip when we're out "on tour." It's pretty accurate.

Our crowds involve fewer screaming, teenage girls, but other than that, it's about the same. ;-)

* - When we go on travel to give presentations or do marketing, my partner and I use the rock star metaphor and call it "playing concerts."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Why Don't People Just Leave Venezuela?

I've been wondering this for a while. The place is a total wreck and everything is collapsing around them. Why don't they just hop a ship or a plane and get out? ZeroHedge has the answer.
For the average middle class person in Venezuela -- educated and still holding on to a good job -- he needs two years of wages to buy a single plane ticket in his own currency. He needs to work for two full years to buy one single plane ticket -- he's stuck there. The problem is that he waited too long to leave. That's something important that I write about often: You have to know when to leave. You needed to leave Venezuela at least three or four years ago; now you're getting to the point where you're stuck there. The official exchange rate between the USD and Bolivar is 1 to 10, but unofficially which is the real one you experience, is more like 1 to 1,000. So they basically are starving you to death through a completely devaluated currency which is what you're getting paid in.
I hadn't thought of that. You used to have money enough to buy tickets out of the country. Now you've just got worthless paper. If you've got a family and a home, if you've got roots in the place, you're much less likely to make a run for it, so you stay, hoping things will get better until it's too late and leaving is no longer an option.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Now We're Just Killing People For No Reason At All

Apparently, we whacked some Taliban dude in Afghanistan.
Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was likely killed Saturday in a U.S. drone strike in a remote area of Pakistan, a U.S. defense department official said.
Why? We're leaving the place. If you're not going to win the war and impose your will on the country, then what's the point of killing? Whether the guy was bad or good, I don't see the point in killing him. Like the Democrats, to take one example, the Taliban isn't driven by individuals, it's driven by ideology. 4 years from now, Bernie Sanders won't be running for president, but they'll still be some socialist nutbag in the Democrats' primaries.

If we're going to get out, let's stop killing people and get out. If we're going to stay, let's bring in 250,000 troops and turn the place into the 51st state. This pointless, neither-here-not-there involvement is nonsense.

We killed people in a country we'll be leaving in a little while. Yay?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

You Get Weird When You Live Alone

... or when you only live with people who think just like you.

The problem with living alone is that there's no one to say, "Dude, you probably shouldn't do that. It's really weird" when you eat a dinner of oatmeal, bacon and beer dressed in a polyester track suit.

Similarly, if you're a post-modern, secular progressive at a university, news media office or in the Administration, chances are good that you're completely surrounded by people who think almost exactly like you. So when you decide that 6', 300# men who dress in women's clothing ought to be allowed to join 12-year-old girls in the restroom, there's no one there to say, "Dude, you probably shouldn't do that. It's really weird."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Why Are We Even Talking About The Name Of The Washington Redskins?

Dig this poll.

This is what happens when we let an insular pack of know-it-alls manage the national conversation.

See also: Trannies in women's restrooms, the desperate need for.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Making It Through Their First Inspection

Our new Maximum Leader, Maddi, has carried out her first inspection of the Catican Guards. The smaller ones had to be coached, but Bodie, the Captain of the Guards, was absolutely perfect. He knows Cat Protocol and was so happy to see his new Leader that he immediately fell in line.

Unlike Katie, Maddi is very gentle and loving. Katie was aggressive and could get angry, Maddi is loving and very brave. All in all, things are going very well in the Catican Compound!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Leaders Lead

... followers follow.

So there was violence at the Nevada Democrat Caucii? There's concerns about riots in Philly when the asses show up for the convention? Hmm. That's odd. Watching Hillary and Bernie speak with the sound down, you'd never guess they were rousing their followers into a frenzied rage.

Bonus tidbit: The progressives have been in power for about 8 years. Shouldn't these two be smiling and happy and talking about how they're going to keep these wonderful times going? Why all the anger when your guys have been calling the shots for so long?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Saving Bills

Because we like them as mnemonics, we prefer to get paper copies of bills in the mail for credit cards, utilities, insurance and so forth. After paying them, I write "PAID" on them and file them away.

Why am I saving them? Why not just download them as PDFs and store them on my computer? Better yet, why not just let the vendor store them? After all, we've got accounts for each and we can look up past bills any time we want.

It's finally dawned on me that I'm wasting time and filing space with these silly paper versions. I guess I'm just a bit slow.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Maybe We Should Just Dig A Big Pit And All Use That

So Obama's Education Department has decided that we need to accommodate trannies no matter where they are found in schools.
“Significant guidance,” they called it Friday, when the federal justice and education departments laid down, in effect, new rules for how all publicly funded schools in the United States – Kindergarten through college – accommodate transgender students.
Are there a lot of transgendered kindergartners?

As I understand it, no doctor's note is necessary. You might need a note from a guardian, but that's it. Sounds lovely. Were I running a college in North Carolina or Mississippi where they're foolishly trying to make men use the men's room, I'd recruit male soccer players willing to claim that they identify as women, build my women's team with them and then go mop the floor with the competition. It would be hilarious!

Here's a boy's soccer club taking on the Guyana national women's team and beating them handily.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

White Smoke From The Catican!

Throngs of happy revelers in our cul-de-sac cried out with joy as they saw the traditional white smoke arise from our chimney signalling that the College of Catdinals had reached consensus and chosen a new Maximum Leader. The Catican Guards raced about barking as the new Leader of the Feline Theocracy was announced.

What ecstasy was felt when the white smoke emerged!
For the first time ever, an Ohioan* was chosen to lead the Theocracy. 7-year-old Maddi was selected by a unanimous vote. After a brief settling-in period, she consented to photography that her followers might see her regal beauty.

Maddi is expected to lead the Theocracy into a more contemplative period.
Here, she reviews the gear used by her staff and finds it satisfactory.
Maddi will also usher in a new era of joy through direct signs of affection.
So there you have it. The long search for a new Maximum Leader has come to a very successful conclusion. Tuna for all!

* - A local branch of the Humane Society acts as a safety valve for another branch in Ohio and brings in cats from there for adoption.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

I'm Worried

This report on the recent spike in murder rates posits this troubling conclusion.
Why Is Murder Up in Some Cities? ... Lower Household Income.
My wife is about to cut back her hours and will consequently be paid less. Our household income will be lower. Lower!

This would seem to portend a dark future for our family. What precautions do you think we ought to take?

Friday, May 13, 2016

And This Is The Smart Set?

Just a quickie today. Dig this story about Hillary Clinton's son-in-law.
Chelsea Clinton's hedge fund boss husband has refused to apologize to investors - despite losing nearly $25 million in a calamitous gamble on the Greek economy.

Marc Mezvinsky, 38, persuaded clients to pour cash into the struggling European country in the hope it would bounce back and deliver massive profits. But after buying up government debt and bank stock, the dramatic upturn he and his partners predicted failed to materialize and the fund's value plunged by an estimated 90 percent.
He bet on Greece?!? How stupid do you have to be to invest in Greece? It's like he's completely financially illiterate. Where the heck was father-in-law, President Bill Clinton with advice? How about the Hildebeast?

I dunno, maybe this was just a tiny side bet for the guy, a real flyer. I hope so, because if not and if the in-laws were in on the discussions, it doesn't speak well of any of them.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sorry, I Couldn't Help It

I just had to modify this quote.
LONDON — The new mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said on Wednesday that his election in the face of a divisive campaign highlighting his religion is a lesson to Donald J. Trump that Islam is perfectly compatible with Western values.

Mr. Trump is “playing into the hands of extremists” and is “ignorant about Islam,” Mr. Khan said. "In fact, if he doesn't stop saying nasty things about Islam, we'll have to see to it that he's beheaded."
OK, that last sentence is mine, but admit it, you were thinking it, right?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Gary Johnson For President

I can't vote for Hillary because she's been a criminal all her life, using whatever power she has for her own gain. Plus, I disagree with almost every position she takes.

I can't vote for Trump because he's mentally ill. He's clearly a malignant narcissist of the first water.

Not voting seems silly to me. Of the remaining grab bag of candidates, there's got to be someone out there who is vaguely palatable. The big issues for me are the debt, Islamic imperialism, the size and reach of government and the ability for states to make their own cultural laws. If it were available to me, I'd join a Federalist Party without delay.

Having said that, such an option is not available to me, but the Libertarian dude, Gary Johnson, offers what is clearly the best option. I spent some time listening to interviews of him from YouTube and here's how I think he stacks up on my big issues.
  1. Debt. He gets a perfect A+ on this. He understands about the fiscal crisis coming our way if we don't get the budget under control.
  2. Islamic imperialism. He's willing to use the word "Islamic" which is a big plus over almost everyone else. He's not an interventionist which may or may not be a good thing. He gets a solid C here.
  3. Size of government. Another perfect A+. He's a Libertarian after all.
  4. Federalism. He's too internally interventionist for me. He talks too much about his socially liberal positions and doesn't say that cultural issues should be left to the states. I'll give him a D here.
Downside - socially liberal. He's in favor of gay marriage and drug legalization and he's pro-choice. Other than the drug legalization, the Supreme Court has taken these off the table, so cultural concerns are almost irrelevant. As for drug legalization, he'd have a hard time getting that passed. In any case, I'm not sure they've not been legalized, de facto, already. See also: addiction rates, rising.

So there you have it. I'd love to see Gary poll high enough to get into the debates. That would really shake things up. For the #NeverTrump crowd and disgruntled conservatives, I can't see why Gary isn't the obvious choice.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The College Of Catdinals Has Convened!

The search for a new Maximum Leader has begun. Through deep prayer, the workings of the Holy Spirit and visits to local animal shelters, the College of Catdinals will choose a new Leader for the faithful of the Feline Theocracy.

When we have chosen a new Maximum Leader, we will reveal this with white smoke coming from the Catican.
Close observers of the Feline Theocracy suggest that this Maximum Leader will be a hefty, aged female who will have a strong will and be able to keep the Catican Guards in line. A few are suggesting that the Catdinals might go an entirely new direction and select a huge tomcat who will simply terrorize the Guards and rule with an iron paw. Despite the strong pro-life stance of the Theocracy, no one expects to see a kitten or younger cat named as the new Leader.

Monday, May 09, 2016

The Secularist's Philosophy - Children

Inspired by listening to several Peter Kreeft lectures and my own affection for G K Chesterton's analysis of his times (circa 1910), I've decided to take a look at my own formulations for what I've been calling the progressive, post-modern, secular world. In this, I'll use secular as a short hand for that formulation to make it more readable.

My definition of the term is the dominant culture in America and Western Europe. Yes, it's mushy, but life is mushy and if you're going to analyze data points from observing biological systems, you have to accept that.

First off, an admission of failure. I've been wrong to say that secularists have discarded objective morality. If they had, then the Confederate flag would still be flying in South Carolina and Brendan Eich would still be the CEO of Mozilla. They most certainly do have objective morality, but it's not one that I can find accurately described anywhere. In a series of posts, I'll try to define the characteristics of secular philosophy and morality through observation.


Secularists do not value children. In fact, children may rank near the bottom of the secularists priority list, which I will attempt to evolve on a summary page to be constructed later.

Proof. I offer three data points to show that the secular world doesn't care much for children.
  1. Public debt. Children are expected to pay our bills. Debt is future obligation and boy howdy, have we obligated them! The US Federal government alone has them penciled in for $20T of future obligations. States like Illinois and California have buried their children under even more debt and localities like Chicago and Detroit have piled on still more. To the secularists, children are bill payers. There is no way on Earth you would saddle future generations with that kind of burden if they were anywhere near the top or your priority list.
  2. Marriage. Children from traditional families excel. Children from any other family formulation struggle. The data is overwhelming on that score. If we valued children, we would want them to grow up in the most beneficial environment possible. Instead, our culture wars have been all about doing the exact opposite.
  3. Cultural poisons. Animals can be conditioned through exposure to stimuli. I would hope that's a fairly uncontroversial statement. Just taking modern music as a single data point, if you cared for your children, you would not surround them with music encrusted with filth as we do. (This song is #1 on the Billboard Top 40 right now. Marriage? No. Just sex.) We are raising our children in a cultural sewer because it suits us, not them.
For the Europeans, I offer a bonus data point.
  1. Secularists don't want them. The Europeans aren't even having children. 30% of German women are childless, rising to 40% of college graduates - a group presumably among the most secular of all. European fertility rates average a little over 1 child per woman. Looking at this chart and recalling that Germany is DE, only 22% of all German households have any children in them at all. Wowsers.
So that's a start. The secular world is not a big fan of children. More component derivations of their philosophy to come.
You ran up how much debt?

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

I had a different post in mind and then I saw this from one of my favorite people on Twitter, Father Charles. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Living In Your Own Fantasy World

... is fine unless you're the President of the United States managing nuclear weapons negotiations with Iran.

Ben Rhodes, aspiring novelist, has apparently been Obama's foreign policy guru. Completely unqualified, many are accusing him of bamboozling the press about the nature of the deal in order to win support. My buddy, Dean, is aghast at this.

I'm going to mildly disagree with Dean on this one. The important part is not that Rhodes and Obama created a fantasy for the press, it's that they created one for themselves and drew the press into it.

They created a fantasy world about nuclear weapon negotiations with a country whose leaders regularly lead the populace in chants of "Death to America!"

If this isn't fatuous madness, I don't know what is.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Breaking Up

In 2012, my wife, a lifelong Chicago Democrat, voted Republican for the first time. In a very emotional decision, she came to the conclusion that she couldn't be a devout Catholic and vote for the Democrats.

Yesterday, I left the Republican party and became an independent. I can't be part of the Trump mob.

Neither of us have a political home any more.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Safety Dog

I caught Martin Van Buren Dog on one of chairs the other day, nestled in between two pillows. The caption practically wrote itself.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Trump And Hillary, The Fruits Of Spiritual, But Not Religious

So we're down to two candidates now. We either vote for instant death from a meteor strike or insanity and human sacrifice from one of the elder gods.

Oh, wait, that's probably just my ballot. I'm having an internal debate between SMOD (Sweet Meteor of Death) and Cthulhu.

Actually, we're down to a woman who betrayed her country for grubby financial gain by selling favors as Secretary of State and a man who is best described as a complete swine. Inconceivable in America even a few decades ago, this choice reflects the America of 2016. Politics, after all, is downstream of culture.

Religion has rules, objective rules. It's got hard edges and judgments and demands. Spirituality has none. It's soft and squishy and demands nothing of you. We don't go to church any more, at least not weekly. However, we embrace all manner of causes which make us feel virtuous, but have all the substance of a cloud. We don't fast on Fridays in Lent, but we talk about global warming climate change as if we can actually do something about it.

The recent spat over the North Carolina bathroom law is a perfect example. We're all for inclusion which means nothing more than abandoning definitional terms while we refuse to face the existence of predatory men. We would rather risk trapping young girls in small, windowless rooms with middle-aged perverts than impose any rules at all on people who are objectively insane*.

Rules make us queasy. Religion is spirituality with rules. We've rejected it.

And now here we are with two candidates for whom rules don't exist. It's tyranny to force little girls into bathrooms with strange men. Well, we're about to impose such a tyranny on ourselves and for exactly the same reason. We can't abide rules, so we've ended up with a pair of amoral, egomaniac politicians who could only rise to power under such conditions.

Were we an objective society, these two would be in jail or confined to petty graft. Instead, we opened the presidency to them when we discarded objective judgment.

Good for us.

Right now, I'm leaning towards Cthulhu.
* - Cut off your hangers, squeeze silicone into your chest, pump yourself up with hormones and call yourself a woman and it means you're courageous. Cut off your leg, replace it with a wooden peg, wear funny clothes, pump yourself full of rum and call yourself a pirate and we'd all realize you were mad. Sorry, they're the same thing, guys.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Power Of Prayer

I'm smiling right now as a result of something I stumbled upon recently so I just have to share it with you.

Of all the components of living a good, Catholic life, prayer has always been the hardest thing for me. I just have never been able to get into it. Setting aside a regular time every day works for a couple of days and then I get bored and quit. For a while, I went to Adoration every Tuesday from 5 AM to 6 AM and that worked really well, but a variety of things forced me to quit that.

After that, my prayer life became trial and error. I bought a bunch of books of Catholic prayers and kept them around the house, I liked to open them up to random pages once in a while, but it wasn't something I did regularly and while it was always good for me, it wasn't doing the trick. Without prayer, it was clear that the sins I personally struggle with still took control of me with clockwork regularity and I was very unhappy with the way things were going.

I finally hit on a winner, If you haven't noticed, I love to write. No, really! There's this blogging thing I've done every day for years and years ...

Oh, that's right, You're there now.

Anyway, I got the idea of keeping a journal outside of this blog and starting each day's entry with a prayer a la St. Augustine's Confessions. Augie ends each section with a prayer summarizing what he learned from that particular adventure in his life, so I copied his style.

It's been a life changer!

I realized yesterday as I was driving in to work that I hadn't grumbled at the windshield while driving (wrath is a favorite sin of mine) in forever and it had fallen away naturally. People who I had held grudges against (another favorite is to hold on to injustices like life preservers in the middle of the ocean) were now greeted with smiles. I never even thought of whatever it was they had done to me.

I now look for ways to make my wife happy when she's away rather than burning time on the Interweb tubes or sports.

I smile more.

Life itself hasn't changed. Over the last 30+ days, there have been ups and downs just like normal. What's changed is my attitude towards life and I love it.

If you're not spending some regular time in prayer and reflection, I'd bet that you can find a trick that works for you. My prayers are very brief, usually 2-3 sentences, just enough to hit what I've been doing and what's going on in my life.

Through daily prayer, I've discovered that I don't think of others as much as I should. However, the more I do, the more I give, the better I feel. I've discovered much more than that, too. One of the things that makes me smile the most is the realization that this is just the beginning. If it feels this good after 30 or so days, imagine what it will be like after 300.

There. That's it. We'll return to our normally scheduled polemics tomorrow. I hope this helps you in some way.


Monday, May 02, 2016

You've Got To Make The Sale

... otherwise, you're wasting your time.

Bishop Kukah in Nigeria is facing threats from violent Islamists. You know, the Boko Haram crowd. One of the reasons the Islamists hate the Catholics over there is education. The Christians are trying to teach the children and that's not halal to some.
The education gap in Nigeria is wide; Christians have high literacy rates and Muslims very low. Overall the country is actually about 50-50 in terms of the Christian-Muslim religious breakdown (Islam is concentrated in the north), but Christians tend to hold many more top governmental positions precisely because they’re better educated.

So Bishop Kukah’s goal is to build a boarding school that is open to all young people regardless of religion. The live-in arrangements are essential, not least for security reasons, but also to ensure kids get decent nutrition, a proper amount of sleep, and the experience, Catholics and Muslims together, of amity.
That's all well and good, but if it doesn't result in at least some conversions and a general change of heart, he's going to end up right back where he started. It's fine to give away free samples, but you need to ask the obligating question. He might be a bit better off with some good will from the local Muslims, but that's not been a reliable method of preventing attacks and possibly genocide.

See also: Christians, Iraqi.

Conversions when Islamic apostasy is punished by death are going to be pretty tough, I guess I'd feel a bit better about this if the West would admit what we're up against and accompany this with some serious military action. Turning the other cheek and forgiving people who attack you is quite supportable. Suicide isn't.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Ignoring The iPad

... and the Internet and the junior college system and paved roads and universal access to electricity and indoor plumbing and ...

Beverly Cage (whoever she is), no doubt reliably progressive, writing in the reliably progressive New York Times reviewed a book of essays by the reliably progressive Thomas Frank (whoever he is). The book castigates fellow progressives. I'm sure it's fascinating, but what caught me was this paragraph.
In his new book, the social critic Thomas Frank ­poses another possibility: that liberals in general — and the Democratic Party in particular — should look inward to understand the sorry state of American politics. Too busy attending TED talks and ­vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, Frank argues, the Democratic elite has abandoned the party’s traditional commitments to the working class. In the process, they have helped to create the political despair and anger at the heart of today’s right-wing insurgencies.
Traditional commitments means government programs on the order of the New Deal, the Great Society or the Great Deal or the New Society or the Great, New Society Deal. Whatever. It's all about recreating the magic of the 1930s or the 1960s because, you know, that all worked out so well.

In any case, it's not 1935 any more, is it? Nor is it 1965. If you saw the "working class" as people rather than digits, you'd know that. Paved roads, electricity and indoor plumbing? Not all that common in 1935. Lots of time was spent obtaining the basic necessities of life, even for families who weren't on the edge of poverty.

Access to endless piles of information and instruction from your sofa? Not in 1965. You had to go to the library if you were in the "working class" and wanted to get a book. No instructional videos teaching you how to repair a car / refinish furniture / build an irrigation system were to be found, even in the most advanced 1965 library.

The government programs, even if they worked then, aren't going to work now because the problem isn't access to training. The problem isn't the time to pursue that, either. Instead, the problems are twofold.
  1. A lack of character. Let's face it, two generations ago, people worked a lot harder. They would have given their eyeteeth to have access to the self-improvement tools we have in abundance today.
  2. Economic ignorance. Take all the training you want, if you can't produce more value than the cost of your labor, you're not getting a job. The "Fight for 15" is an act of devotion to the utterly discredited religion of socialism,
I'm sure the essays mean well, but as long as they and the progressives remain trapped in the past like insects in amber, they will be utterly irrelevant to the year 2016.

Here, we see Thomas Frank (whoever he is) discussing his book with Beverly Cage (whoever she is).