Contra Mozilla

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Playoff SEleCtion Committee Released their First Ranking

Middle finger firmly extended to footballs fans everywhere, the college football playoff SEleCtion released their first rankings. Three of the top 4 and 4 of the top 6 teams are from a single conference. Any guesses which one?

There are three consolations for this:

  1. A lot of these SEC teams still have to play each other. A lot of the others do not. Thus, I expect to see some of these teams eliminated (e.g. if unbeaten Mississippi State beats Ole Miss)
  2. Notre Dame still plays ASU and USC. Win out, and they should be "in." FSU will be in if they win out. And if one foTCU/Baylor/KSU wins out, they will have a strong case for being "in," especially KSU or TCU. Ditto for Oregon or Arizona or Utah, especially if Oregon wins out and then beats Arizona in the conference championships (unlikely, but possible). Arizona State has a weaker but still viable case (lost to a better team that Utah, but by a much wider margin).
  3. If the final rankings pick three from the SEC, or two consistently, maybe we'll finally get a real playoff.

Here's hoping that we can put into place something a little better, e.g. only conference champs with 4 or only 2 from any given conference with 8 (I like 12, but that's a very long shot).

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Know-Nothings are Alive and Well

Apparently, rank anti-Catholicism is still at least a little bit acceptable in politics, in particular Leftist poltics. I've seen some small traces of it in Republican politics, especially in deep southern states. But it is worse, far worse, and far more blatant, in today's Democratic Party. The apple does not fall far from the tree, apparently.

This cartoon was reportedly run against Republican (formerly, Democratic) candidate Mark Miloscia. A man decides that he takes his faith seriously, even in the politics sphere. As a result, he switched parties from Democrat to Republican (there aren't a whole lot of Democrats who manage to even sound serious about their faith, though they often voice platitudes). The Left is infuriated, of course, but they have decided to take issue with his faith (because he's Catholic, he opposes our right to offer due sacrifice to Moloch through the murder of our children, and he opposes our rights to demand the celebration of the sins of Sodom! He must be intent on establishing a theocracy, just like all other Catholics!). Whatever issues the Republican party has, it should be obvious at this point that the Democratic Party--the same party which booed God--does not want Catholics, and should not be supported by them.

It is also obvious that there is a culture war, indeed, a kulturcampf, which persist to this day. Yes, it's mostly aimed at Catholics (though perhaps some evangelicals, Baptists, and Fundamentalists have tasted a bit of it, too), but the goal still remains to drive faith form the public square--and perhaps after that, to criminalize it outright. We already see the beginnings of that criminalization, what with fines and now jail time plus reeducation camp for people who refuse to support "gay marriage;" and fines for those who do not wish to purchase immoral "goods and services" such as contraception, sterilization, and even abortifacents for their employees.

As an aside I am still scratching my head as to what "Proposed a statewide DNA database of law-abiding citizens" has to do with being Catholic.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pre-Lab Plagiarism

How do I know when somebody is plagiarizing? Because this:

Pre-lab question: "What is temperature?"
Actual answer given by a student: "The degree or intensity of heat present in a substance or object, especially as expressed according to a comparative scale and shown by a thermometer or perceived by touch."


Tired Myths Need to Be Laid to Rest

There are many tired myths, and many tiresome ones, which are spread around by the various ideologies which compete to ruin the culture. The feminist ideology has its share of these, too. Surprisingly, an article in Time (of all places) discusses five false myths which are endlessly repeated by feminists. These include the silly repeated claim about women earning 77 cents to the dollar that men earn (it may be true on average, but averages are deceiving), and the one about how nearly 20% of college women are victims of sexual assault. It also blows up the idea that women earn only 10% of the world's income (American women alone earn 5.4%), or that a near-majority of ER visits by women are due to domestic violence (it is a plurality of violence-related hospital visits, but these are a tiny minority of all ER-visits overall).

The article is worth the read.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Then They Came for the Churches in California

This is kind of old news, but it's apparently starting to get reported enough for me to notice it. We have to be reminded that the homosexualists--while the most militant group seeking to ruin the Church and anyone tenuously connected to her--are far from the only group. The abortion lobby is just as happy to go for the jugular, though they only seem to have traction under the Obama Administration's tyrannical HHS mandate. Except, that is, in far leftists states like California, where abortion--including elective abortion--has been placed in in the category of "basic health services," and thus its direct coverage in all insurance plans is demanded by the state.

This includes insurance plans bought by churches (emphasis added):
For the past four years, the Obama administration and its friends on the Left were careful to claim that they still strongly support religious liberty while arguing that Hobby Lobby’s Green family, Conestoga Wood Specialties’ Hahn family, and others like them must lose. Principally, they contended, religious liberty protections could not be applied to Hobby Lobby because (1) It is a for-profit corporation, (2) It isn’t a church (and thus not a true “religious employer,” and (3) It is wrong on the science—Plan B, a copper intrauterine device, et cetera, they claimed, do not cause abortions. They implied, if not claimed outright, that they would surely support religious freedom in another case, but Hobby Lobby was unworthy to claim its protections. 
The State of California is now calling their bluff. California’s Department of Managed Health Care has ordered all insurance plans in the state to immediately begin covering elective abortion. Not Plan B. Not contraceptives. Elective surgical dismemberment abortion.... 
Several other California churches have received similar notices from their insurers, and others will follow. While California (like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS) exempts churches from its contraceptive mandate, there is no exception to this bureaucratic abortion mandate. This leaves California churches in the illogical and impossible position of being free to exclude contraceptives from their health plan for reasons of religious conscience but required to provide their employees with abortion coverage. 
To no one's surprise, one of the chief instigators of this brazen trampling of actual rights and civil liberties is the now-ironically named American Civil Liberties Union. And while I breathe a sigh of relief that I avoided having to relocate to California (or Massachusetts, or new York, etc which I am sure will contemplate following suit), it's only a matter of time before this kind of evil is forced on even the so-called "Red States."

America was once land of the free and home of the brave. As these kinds of laws take place, this reputation will be eroded under we are all naught but chattel to the state. And the state will serves it new gods, which are really very old demons: Moloch, or Isis, or Baal, or even Satan.

Monday, October 20, 2014

First They Came for the Wedding Industry

First, the came for the photographers and bakers. Then they went after public and later private venues which hosted weddings and receptions. The next step is to go after actual (ordained) ministers, albeit minor ones who specialize in weddings. This has now officially begun.

Next it will be other ordained ministers, including one who run denomination churches, and Catholic priests who run parish churches. There will be demands for speeches, then sermons, and finally things said in the confessional.

First it was small fines, then ruinous ones, and then jail time. Now reeducation camp has been added, but one wonders what will be the penalty of those who resist this "reeducation": more explicit brainwashing, then our own gulags when even this fails?

Friday, October 17, 2014

What Grading Exams Is Like

Real men of genius. Today we salute you, Mr. Shot in the Dark Fermi Problem guy. (Mr. Shot in the Dark Fermi Guy!) When asked to estimate how many cumulative hours the people of Alabama spend asleep each year, your answered 3600. That amounts to fewer than 1 second per person per year. (My eyes are feelin' heavy)

Your population estimates are so bad that a casual reader might think you were working on a post-apocalyptic sci-fi story. (Hello is there anybody out there?)

So crack open a bud lite, Mr. misjudger of powers of ten, and then have a few dozen more, cause that's how many you estimate you need before feeling "buzzed."

Thursday, October 16, 2014


They are, generally better than what passes for liberals (that is, "progressives"), but I still find myself agreeing with Kirk's assessment that Libertarians are largely chirping sectaries. The movement has grown a bit, but it's largely done so by undermining actual conservatism.

Libertarianism is ultimately the alternative to "progressive/liberalism" when men become too lazy or shallow as thinkers to articulate a vibrant conservatism.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Thought on Feminism

For some reason, I was musing about feminism this morning. I think I have finally found the source of my irritation with feminism in general, and not not just the particular of radical and third-wave feminism with its Moloch-worship. The problem with feminism in its various forms is that it is willing to make the world an unbearable place for men if by doing so it will become only a little bit less uncomfortable for women.

By this I mean that it takes the old and familiar traditional tension between the sexes, and then decides to amplify it considerably. There is always the tension between (say) a woman's desire to spend more time with her husband, and his desire to spend some time with his friends (and vice-versa!). A sane compromise would be for the man to spend most of his time at home with family, with some outings to see his male friends and some gathering/mixers. There would be, for example, some men's clubs (no, not the kind often called "gentlemen's clubs") which allowed men only; there might be some male-only gyms, and certainly there would be some gathering of only men. We have a desire to spend time in the company of other men as friends, away from the women-folk, just as women might some times desire to have time separate from the men: this is not merely a question of separate interests.

There are also some habits, which might be ironically called vices but which are generally harmless if practiced in moderation, which men adore and women abhor, that is, which bring relatively harmless pleasure to a man's life but which won't be well-understood by his wife. I can think of a few in my case--most of which I have a happy compromise with my wife concerning--but these will vary from family to family. For some men it's smoking a pipe, for some it's drinking a dram, for some it is a poker night (especially if currency changes hands), for some it's a hobby which the wife does not herself enjoy or understand.

It is, of course, only natural for the woman to attempt to change the man regarding these things. That is the way of things. That which she cannot understand or enjoy, she cannot abide--but compromises will usually be possible. He can smoke his pipe, as long as it is infrequent and outside. He may drink his liquor, provided he only sip it; he may build his model ships, so long as he does not then put them prominently on display.

And here is where the feminists step in and ruin things. The though of his spending a lazy Sunday tinkering on a model ship, or smoking a pipe of good Virginia tobacco, or imbibing a glass of good 21 year scotch does not sit well with them--and so it must be prevented, outlawed, banished. It is a mild nuisance to her, it brings great joy to him, but it must go.

The problem with feminists is that there is no discomfort or inconvenience for women which is too small to be ignored. There is no pleasure for men too great to be ruined, and for that matter no demands against men too great to be leveled. Ultimately, men must be abolished, allegedly to make the world a little bit less inconvenient or uncomfortable for women.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

When Children Belong to the State

There is a rather alarmist column at National Review--but its alarmist tone does not mean we should dismiss it as entirely unfounded. The proposition is to target homeschooling children, because, of course, homeschooling and guns are the things to blame for Adam Lanza's shooting spree. It couldn't be, for example, the fault of the various state-run public schools (half prison, half re-education camp) where all of these shootings occur.

But children belong to the state, after all, or so the progressive line goes.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Annulment and Material Adultery

The news surrounding the upcoming "Synod on the Family" has generated a lot of discussion, and not only in the Catholic blogosphere. I will not even remotely attempt to link to all of it--from the seeming feud between Cardinals Burke and Kasper (and their respective supporters and detractors) over permitting divorced Catholics to remarry to questions about (and confusion concerning) the annulment process (and the various proposed changes to it), this synod does seem to be generating more than the usual amount of buzz.

Because they do more than just rehash the argument over what is and isn't in Canon Law (and what can or should be changed about it), the posts by the Zippy Catholic on the matter caught my attention. In particular, he mentions (and not for the first time) one of the inadvertant side-effects of annulment: that when an annulment is improperly determined, it then makes accidental adulterers of the spouses when they remarry:
Modern annulment practice is unique in the history of the Church, inasmuch as it treats a possible sacramental irregularity – based on purely subjective considerations – as a two way street. It doesn’t provide a way forward, it provides a way backward, in the name of a false ‘mercy’. This is terribly unfair in a way in which carrying out the death penalty without objective third-party evidence would be terribly unfair. Errors in death penalty cases result in killing the innocent; errors in ‘internal forum’ annulment cases turn various people (including innocent ‘spouses’, past and future) into material adulterers. This is just the very modern phenomenon of turning doubt or ignorance into an eighth sacrament: it pretends that mercy means letting people stew in objective evil with no real way out. 
This is further clarified in an earlier post of his (linked in the original text of the quote):
One of the reasons that the annulment process should be very rigorous, and should err very strongly on the side of declining to invalidate a marriage, is that if the tribunal makes a mistake – and as a juridical institution it is certainly liable to do so – the resulting annulment and ‘remarriage’ turns the parties into material adulterers. This is a gross injustice against everyone involved, and most especially against any “new” spouse not previously married.
Actually, it has long since occurred to me that there is a second effect of annulments, albeit one which cannot be avoided via reform. An annulment confirms that a particular given marriage was not sacramentally valid from its beginning. But this means that the couple which attempted to consummate their non-marriage would, in fact, be material fornicators in a sacramental (though not a civil) sense. This may not be so grievous as the material adulterors created under Zippy's scenario, fornication being less materially grave than adultery in any event, but it is nevertheless a side-effect of a null marriage.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Safe Legal Abortion: A Hypothetical

Good (if short-term) news out of Texas: the federal appeals court has allowed the state to immediately begin enforcing the restrictions which it passed last summer. This is short-term good news only because the appeals court is allowing enforcement to continue while it considers the overall constitutionality of the law. This should be a no-brainer (the law is clearly constitutional, even in light of earlier Supreme Court rulings), but in principle the appeals court could decide to uphold the circuit court's original ruling.

Well and good, and that news is certainly blog-worthy. But actually, what got my attention was this little passage from The Monitor's coverage of this news (my emphasis added):
"Today's ruling has gutted Texas women's constitutional rights and access to critical reproductive health care and stands to make safe, legal abortion essentially disappear overnight," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The phrase "safe, legal" is always used by those who call themselves pro-choice whenever talking about abortion. It is their current call sign (I guess "Safe, legal, and rare" was either too long or too obviously a lie), an unreflexive statement uttered like the various sleep-hypnosis phrases of Huxley's Brave New World, and because not reflexive, meaningless, a sort of verbal soma.

I suppose that the idea is to link the two terms in the mind, and thus to link their opposites: "legal = safe, therefore illegal = unsafe." Let us set aside for the sake of argument the morality of the issue, that is, the fact that if abortion means the deliberate taking of an innocent human being's life--in a word, murder--then it is never "safe" under any circumstances. I do this, because even though the procedure is obviously unsafe for one person, it may yet be relatively more or relatively less safe for another.

Which begs the question: what makes "legal" abortion so safe, and what proposals (read: laws, regulations, etc) would the "pro-choice" crowd in general, and the pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and their abortion-profiteering ilk in particular back to actually make abortions "safe"? Because, from what I have seen, any proposal, no matter how minor or major, is always opposed by them if one result is fewer abortion (read: loss of profit, loss of support, etc.). What makes legal abortions "safe," if there are no actual regulations of those who commit them legally? Nicer and cleaner conditions of the clinic? The current round of regulation exist to specifically require this. Easier access to a hospital if the procedures should go south? Again, that should be a no-brainer.

So what, if anything, should be done to actually make "legal" mean "safer"?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Western Civ and the University: a Postscript

At my boss' request, I attended the committee meeting about the proposed changes to the general education requirements at my university. I attended as a visitor, meaning that I was basically an observer and was not there to speak. Actually, thanks to the heated exchanges with a few history professors, the two admins running the meeting asked visitors to please refrain from making remarks until the end, if there was time then.

Actually, it was this heated exchange which is probably of most interest to readers here. Big Wig Number 1 (a vice Provost of some sort) began to explain that the reason why Western Civilization (history) was being removed from the required history courses and being made into and "elective" (meaning that it fulfills a requirement, but is one of several ways of fulfilling that requirement) is that is is "too Euro-centric." To be fair, ours is a fairly global campus, but given that we are situated in the US and hence in Western civilization, this really shouldn't be a problem.

And, true to form, the three history professors who attended (two as visitors, one as an actual committee member) shouted in unison that this wasn't a good reason to remove it. And then the heated exchange began, not because the history professors (all of whom teach Western Civ, non of whom were among the colleagues whom I mentioned previously) were standing up for the value of a student's learning the history of his culture. Oh, no. Their defense was rather that the charge* of being "Euro-centric" was simply inaccurate as applied to Western Civ. 

This is why I can't bring myself to write a rousing defense for Western Civ.'s being a required course, even though I firmly believe that it is probably the single most important history course (as pertains to what it should be teaching) which might be offered under the heading of "general education." I wonder what course a student would take if that student actually wanted to learn about European history. Once that would have been titled "Western Civ" (with some appropriate course designation).

*Some specific context is warranted here. Big Wig Number 1 was not complaining that "Western Civ" ignores contributions from (say) Egypt, or Russia, or Babylon, or Israel. One might argue that these shouldn't really be included anyway, as they are more-or-less precursors to Western Civ, and that Western Civ should include Greece, Rome, and the various states and empires which grew from the fall of Rome. This is not his line of argument. Rather, his protests was that there wasn't enough about Asia, and that we in America should look across both oceans. Point well taken, at least in our present millieu, but canning Western Civ is not the way to do this.

A Few Good Links (vol. 16)

It's tabclearingday.
  1. Neil DeGrasse Tyson continues to demonstrate that Chesterton was right when he said that the most dogmatic of men are those who deny that they are dogmatic.
  2. The end of an age never comes swiftly, yet many are startled when it arrives. Mike Flynn tells the story of how our present age is ending.
  3. On a related note, a consequence (or symptom?) of this slow slide to the suicide of a civilization is that degrees from college are costing more and more and meaning less and less. Which is why we will almost certainly begin to hear the shrill voices of the feminist shrews complaining about the fact that women are wasting money on worthless degrees at a higher rate than men--curse the patriarchy for causing men to fail out of college and thus be in a prime position to recover when the current degree-based economy finally collapses.
  4. The synod on the family is looking like an ugly affair--and this is before it has begun.
  5. The new slavery is surrogacy, and the educated (really educated, not the certified men who have been indoctrinated) will call it what it is. Then they will be targeted for harassment by one of the most powerful (and insidious) movements in the country: "Cursed am I for having studied so much antebellum black literature. I can’t help but point out that black suffering came from a practice of people buying people, and now, because they can’t procreate naturally, homosexuals are buying people and calling them their children. I know, I know – we’re not talking about whips and chains or being forced to harvest sugarcane. But is slavery minus atrociously painful labor no longer slavery?"
  6. On Bayes, and other things.
  7. Liberalism (really, progressivism, for they do not deserve the title "liberal") has its compulsions, its own "anti-choice" (to use their phrase but applied more properly) and anti-freedom tendencies.
That's what I have time for.