Contra Mozilla

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Not Exactly a Classic--Mary Poppins

So, apparently this exists:

Mary Poppins meets death metal.

David Warren on Hobbes and Hobbits

David Warren has posted a rather thoughtful essay on legitimate government. An excerpt:
The idea of the autonomous “prince” is modern. The mediaeval idea of hierarchy precluded it. The man at the top was lynchpin for a regime consisting of persons in various ranks of nobility, but in a curiously invertible pyramid, for though each in his place is servant to a master above him, he is also servant to the servants of those below him in station, pledged to their defence. The idea of “public service” survives today, but with a much different flavour. This is because the individual has ceased to be defined as a soul, a “being,” with duties. He has been redefined as a cypher or “function” with “rights.” Where to the old Christian view, rights followed from duties in the same man, to our post-Christian view the arbitrary rights of one man translate to duties for unaccounted others. (My right to a free lunch translates to your duty to pay for it, &c.) In this sense, all modern political thinking is in its nature totalitarian.
Actually, we would avoid much mischief--and a large part of the culture wars, for that matter--if we adopted a "rights come from responsibilities, privilege from duties" approach to philosophy over the current philosophy of "rights" and "privileges." Marriage exists for the sake of creating families, and so married couple have a duty to each other and to their children first, not the other way around. A marriage which is known to be incapable of producing children from the onset is thus not a true marriage in the fullest sense of the word, regardless of the sexes and sexualities of the spouses. Contraception furthermore becomes an abandonment of the duty of marriage, and thus a violation of the "rights" of married couples, which is true even if the couple in question already has children.

And another:
The Hobbits of the Shire live under a system of Hardly Any Government. Almost everything is decided at the family level, which leaves, on the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, hardly anything else to decide. But it is better than this, owing to qualities in the Hobbits themselves. It appears that they have no understanding whatever of the concept of “fairness,” and no intellectual ability to distinguish redistribution of property from theft and rapine. They see things rather as they are. On the other hand, they have a perfect understanding of self-defence, engaged when they are occupied by liberal do-gooders. The solution to the problems these do-gooders create is thus very simple. Get rid of them. It is a task which everyone can join in. 
Saruman, his Orcs, and their contrivances, provide the metaphor to liberal do-gooders and their obsessions with “process” and technology. They proved their value in resisting evil, arguably, once upon a time, until they became evil themselves. They would not understand Christ’s mysterious instruction, “resist ye not evil,” nor the parables in which He shows that “fairness” is of the Devil. They arrive in power with a do-gooder agenda, and in this are typically modern men. They toggle between damnable efficiency, and damnable inefficiency. They care not which, for over time their project is to create such a cat’s cradle of inter-dependencies that all freedom of action expires, and they may feed on human souls unchallengeably. (Whenupon, God destroys them.)
This is a piercingly accurate description of both the "liberal do-gooders" and their victims.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Presidential PeDegree

Scott Walker is one of the possible Republican candidates for President in 2016. Actually, he's currently one of the leading potential candidates. Therefore, much is being made of his lack of credentials, by which I mean a college degree.

I think there have been maybe two Republicans to be elected president without earning a degree: William McKinley and Abraham Lincoln. Both died in office, so I suppose it's nice of Walker's political rivals to be so concerned with his health. Except, well, that's not why they want to keep him far away from the White House.

Honestly, though, we've had a few Presidents who did not graduate from college, including both Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Every President since Reagan has been a graduate of Harvard or Yale (though I'll take the Eureka College Alum over any of his successors).

To be honest, I'd take Washington, Lincoln, Monroe, or even Truman over any president since the 1990's: degrees be damned. And lest the rejoinder be, "oh, but education nowadays isn't what it used to be...", let us not forget which side has been running the education system for the last several decades.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Feelgood Story of the Day

Apparently, in Southern France there is a church run by the Divine Mercy Missionaries, which sits next-door to a gay bar. The gay bar has (happily) gone bankrupt. I could stop there and it would already be a feel-good story, but it gets better:
The Divine Mercy Missionaries had several times tried to buy the bar and close it down, to no avail. But recently the bar went bankrupt and the building went to auction during liquidation.

So a bunch of these Divine Mercy Missionaries walked into a gay bar. They were armed with a 15k Euro donation from a priest in the diocese and many prayers. Some others at the auction were prepared to offer more money than these religious, but when they saw them praying there, they decided not to outbid them.

In a statement released on their website they proudly proclaim, “You will understand the importance of this place for our evangelization in the area. So the Sodom bar will become the pub of Mercy.”

Archbishop Cordileone Nails It

His Excellency the Archbishop of San Francisco has come under fire recently for a set of proposed morality clauses to be used in employment contracts at the Catholic schools in his diocese. There is little surprise as to what the morality clauses contain, and perhaps even less as to what the reaction is from the Left. And to nobody's further surprise, several lawmakers have gotten involved, mostly by sending him a "disapproving" letter.

Oh, but the good bishop has written a response to the lawmakers. And it is quite good. After noting that there is a bit of misinformation concerning this morality clause--such as "the falsehood that the morality clauses apply to the teachers’ private life"--he writes that
The next thing I would like to mention is actually a question: would you hire a campaign manager who advocates policies contrary to those that you stand for, and who shows disrespect toward you and the Democratic Party in general? On the other hand, if you Letter to Legislators knew a brilliant campaign manager who, although a Republican, was willing to work for you and not speak or act in public contrary to you or your party – would you hire such a person? If your answer to the first question is “no,” and to the second question is “yes,” then we are actually in agreement on the principal point in debate here.

Now let’s say that this campaign manager you hired, despite promises to the contrary, starts speaking critically of your party and favorably of your running opponent, and so you decide to fire the person. Would you have done this because you hate all Republicans outright, or because this individual, who happens to be a Republican, violated the trust given to you and acted contrary to your mission? If the latter, then we are again in agreement on this principle.
Yes, this is all quite reasonable, and so I suspect that much of it will be lost on both the lawmakers and the general public, including dissident catholics and busy-body non-Catholics alike.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Some Random Reflections

I have  variety of random observations, thoughts, and remarks rattling around inside my head. I suppose that I might as well write them here.

The first is that and increasing number of people who I would have previously assumed would act as cheerleaders for the Republican party are starting to rumble that they would prefer a third party, or at the least a re-aligning of interests for the GOP, even if this requires voting third-party for a few election cycles. This group now includes Erik Erickson from RedState, Jay Cost at The Federalist, and Ace. I'd like to see social policy put first, rather than seeing the party largely surrender every battle of the culture wars. It would be nice to at least get a coalition together that is moderately pro-life enough to pass incremental abortion bans (after 20 weeks, for starters) with some consistency--especially when said bans are already popularly supported. And it would be similarly nice to see some sort of interest in making a workable solution that at the very least protects religious freedoms and rights of association and free speech on the whole "gay marriage" front.

Second random thought: since poll taxes are not allowed, and poll tests are not allowed, perhaps the next best thing is to require that all votes for a candidate be write-in only. Meaning; the Republicans and the Democrats and everyone else can still have their nominees at any given office, but the voters can no longer just lazily fill in a bubble next to their names. You will write out the name of the man or woman for whom you are voting; spelling errors can be accounted for via common sense, and of course in the age of computerized voting, by "write" I mean "type", so illegible handwriting is not an issue. And in places where there are ballot measures, you will at least write in "yes on ballot #" or "no on ballot #" (specifying the number) to have your vote for that ballot counted.

Third random thought: Eye of the Tiber continues to be funny, this time in a sad way which comments on the hypocrisy of our culture.

Fourth random thought: a better way for making college "affordable." Recall that President Obama had originally proposed raiding peoples' college savings accounts (529 accounts) by taxing any withdrawal from these (the deposits are often taxed already). This was in order to pay for other people who couldn't (or simply didn't bother to) save up for college, so that they could go to a community college for "free", thereby making two more years of school de-facto compulsory. Here is a counter-proposal. If getting people to go to college means so much, why not make any payment for tuition (or repayment of a loan) tax-deductible at a special rate. The rate is: for every dollar you spend paying for your own tuition up front, you will pay $1 fewer in taxes. For every dollar you spend paying your own student loans, you will pay $0.75 less on your taxes that year. And for every dollar you spend paying for someone elses' tuition or student loans, you get back 50% of the return they would have had.

Fifth random thought: enjoy this fanciful fairy tale from the Imaginative Conservative.

Monday, February 9, 2015

On Stupidity

One tagline which Mark Shea used (or once used) with some frequency is "Sin makes you stupid." There are, on the whole, two forms that stupidity takes: one is merely a defect in the intellect, the other is a defect in the will. Sometimes the two look similar, but at the end of the day a man may make himself stupid by obstinately refusing to learn truth: the honestly (that is, intellectually) stupid person may still recognize truth when it hits him in the face.

The studied stupidity in turn takes a number of forms: obstinance, deliberate confusion, about simply concepts, embracing a known lie or falsehood or sin. It is for this reason that perhaps that the Church distinguishes between vincible and invincible ignorance: the intellectually stupid person is is often innocently ignorant; the willfully stupid person usually cannot make this claim.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Do What Suits You

I was reading a post on the Witherspoon Institute's Public Discourse site about our culture's insanity concerning gender and sexuality. The gist of the post is that the woman writing it wore a tuxedo to her high school's prom (in 1985) as an expression of her 15-year-old gender confusion, but then moved on from there to live a "normal" life as a well-adjusted female/feminine member of society (happily married, mother of two, Ph.D. holder). This is to be contrasted with what would happen to the young girl who did that today: she would be applauded by the local LBGTQA community, then asked to become a member, and then practically harassed and coerced (but oh-so-sympathetically) until she embraced her secret identity as one or more of those letters (though not "A" for straight "Ally")
If she resists embracing a lesbian identity, she is encouraged to come out of denial and accept herself for who she is. If she seeks counseling, her therapist hews to a strict, professionally mandated protocol to affirm and validate her identity as homosexual. The counselor tells her that being lesbian is an unchangeable and good part of who she is, even though the girl is experiencing significant distress over the intense emotional and physical draw she feels toward other girls and women.

While she is in therapy, if she mentions wishing to resist these attractions and wonders whether she might develop heterosexually—or at least not identify as gay—it is considered unethical for the counselor to discuss this possibility with her. In some states, such as California and New Jersey, it is even against the law.

If she speaks of her religion and says there are faith convictions at stake that matter deeply to her, the therapist tries to help her overcome her “homophobic” values and free her from the “false consciousness” and oppression to which she is clearly subject.

And if she finally discusses the still unrevealed secret of sexual abuse—the fifty-year-old uncle and the summer six years ago? Exploring its possible connection with her same-sex attraction is forbidden. Any such discussion or treatment must still affirm her same-sex orientation and disassociate the abuse from her sexual development. She is, after all, only fifteen, and must be protected from dangerous ideas that might depress her further and chip away at her fragile self-esteem.
I've seen such things happen before, and I've seen some of the transformations which occur when they do: none have been for the better. There are a few who are out but also attempting to live chastely--but even this can be problematic (see, for example, the article about Gay Christians on page 31 of the January/February 2015 Touchstone magazine).

Society may (or may not) tolerate this particular position as a personal choice, but never as a policy or recommended course of action (especially not by a church!). It certainly doesn't tolerate the personal choice of desiring to not be "gay" or whatever term you may prefer to describe a person who is sexually deviant or gender-bent. Is it possible to (ethically) cure a person who identifies as gay (or whatever) and who has come out with it? It may well be (and there are many testimonies from those who were so cured), but then, this is a road which our society wants to see closed. It turns out that there are some "personal choices" which men will not be allowed to make by our supposedly permissive society. And those choices--whether they may actually be accomplish-able or not--will increasingly be the old moral choices in which we would have found real freedom.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Blessed Anonymity

Soon we'll have a culture in which you can't call a fag a fag
without facing the firing lines. 
Why did we start an anonymous blog? A variety of reasons. I did this, and my co-blogger probably agrees--because I would like to be able to talk about some hot-button issues without worrying about losing my job over it. I work in academia, so such is a legitimate concern, at least in theory. I especially don't want to bring down the wrath of the various "Grievance Studies" departments* (and other Social Justice Warriors) every time I speak my mind.

Yet, I also cannot really not speak my mind. I try to live as St Thomas More in these matters, but I do not think I am near as discrete as he, and while I usually try to be tactful sometimes I am reduced to silence in real life. I then write my thoughts here, so in a sense this is an online diary in addition to being a blog. I've at times wavered between the two.

Not that I get overly contentious here, but sometimes it's nice to be able to talk more directly about an actual problem existing in society--and to do so outside of the work environment--without wondering whether you'll be employed the next day.

*The term is, as best I can tell, coined by Brad Torgersen, who I found via John C. Wright. I do not know if that is the actual origin.