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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

EWTN: A Sad Tale

That's essentially the headline from EWTN's daughter publication, the National Catholic Register. A priest who was fired from his job at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is pissed off, so he is demanding the Church fix his crisis of faith.

Why is EWTN running anti-papal crap hit pieces like this?

Sadly, the answer is very simple: at this point, EWTN and its purchased daughter publication, NCR, have been captured by badly catechized older American Catholics.

American Catholics have always been about ten inches from full-blown Protestantism. Remember, it was the bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas who led the charge AGAINST the declaration of papal infallibility at Vatican I. It was the American Catholic presbyterate and episcopate who endorsed the American heresy of the separation of church and state. In fact, the very heresy of Americanism is named after this country, the first heresy named after a specific geographic region in centuries.

The United States has never been a reliably Catholic country, and it still is not. Unfortunately, EWTN relies almost entirely on elderly American Catholics for its revenue stream, so it cannot afford to report the news in a way that will alienate it from the wealthy old people who help it make bank each month.

One of the reasons VC II was called was precisely that Catholic catechesis already sucked rocks in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. The council was called because the state of the world's catechesis had almost uniformly descended to the wasteland that American catechesis had always inhabited.

The pre-VC II catechesis in America was, in fact, so bad, that the minute the 1960s American MSM began reporting that VC II heralded a "change" in Church teachings, most American Catholic laity, and quite a few of the religious and the priests, bought the MSM's reporting hook, line and sinker. If we had been well-catechized, the conciliar teachings could never have been successfully twisted, the majority of American Catholics would never have been taken in by the nutcase "theologians." If adult Catholics had known their faith, they would have known the teachings of the Faith do not change. The very fact that nearly every American adult did buy into the post-VC II heresies is itself proof that the previous thirty years of pre-conciliar catechesis had miserably failed. 

So, it is now 2017, forty-five years after the council. EWTN's audience is primarily elderly retired folk who grew up in the pre- and post-conciliar wasteland. Since this is the SAME audience that was never properly catechized to begin with, either before or after the council, and since EWTN has to keep these para-Protestants happy in order to keep its revenue stream, EWTN's reporting skews more and more weird. The organization has been captured by the people who pay it - badly catechized American Catholics.

Whatever EWTN may have been in the past, it isn't that thing anymore.

To be fair, this is pretty much true of all the Catholic media in the United States. It's all about click-bait now, and the best way to get clicks is to appeal to the Protestant American undercurrent in American Catholicism - brand the Pope seven kinds of heretic, and America's Protestant Catholics will richly reward you. Dan Brown's Protestant history of the Catholic Church demonstrated that in spades. EWTN is following in Brown's grand example, and so are all the other "Catholic" outlets that bash the Pope.

But that's Catholic media for you.
It is now indistinguishable from the MSM.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

My Body, My Spectacles

The question has been asked - are feelings or emotions sinful?

Feelings are generally either factually correct or incorrect. Feelings summarize a whole situation into a single, compact experience. That summary is either essentially correct, or essentially incorrect. But "factually correct" is different from "morally correct."

I am not morally responsible for misapprehending the facts.

The reaction of the intellect to the fact of the emotion is what determines right or wrong, just as the reaction of the intellect to anything the world sets before us determines right or wrong. Feelings are the result of a hormone surge within the body, emotions are a chemical reaction in the brain.

But so is sight, touch, hearing, etc.

We are not responsible for what the world puts before our eyes. We are responsible for what we seek out in the world in order to see. The same goes for emotions - I am responsible for what I seek out, knowing what emotion will be provoked by what I seek.

If I deliberately seek out things to see, touch, feel, that I should not seek, that is sin. But, if I see, touch and therefore feel as part of my work or as part of what the world has placed before me, that is not sin.

When St. Francis encountered the leper and threw up, he did not sin. He didn't mean to throw up - his body just did it. When he used his intellect to deliberately over-ride his body's rejection of the scene, he was able to embrace the humanity of the leper. His intellect allowed him to see what the leprous scabs partially hid. His body saw the scabs, his mind saw the person. His body reacted to the scabs, his mind reacted to the person. Vomiting was not a sin, but embracing the leper was a virtue.

Perhaps a different way of thinking about it will help.

To a certain extent, our bodies are a summary of the whole universe. Our bodies are the bit of the universe we drag with us everywhere we go. The universe presents us with all kinds of things to examine. Because we drag them with us everywhere, our bodies are often the things we spend the most time examining. What our five senses perceive, how our emotions bubble forth, our brain's chemical reactions, these seem central to us, if only because these things are the part of the universe that are always present to us. As Buckaroo Banzai said:

But our bodies are not only a constant part of what the universe presents to us to examine, they are also the part of the universe that serves as a lens through which we view the rest of the universe. Most of the time, I look through my glasses, not noticing the way they balance on my nose. But sometimes, I look directly at my glasses, to see what is on them, and to determine whether or not I am seeing clearly.

My body is the pair of eyeglasses that bring the universe into focus for me. Sometimes, they have specks the size of logs. If we are to see clearly, we need to keep them clean.

Star Wars is Wrong

The rise of the emotional snowflake is part and parcel of the destruction of our old culture and the creation of a new one. This transformation affects everything, even the law.  Today, Matt Lauer tells us there is an "emotional definition of obstruction of justice". Which is true, in a certain sense.

"Your eyes can deceive you. Stretch out with your feelings!"
You see, for people raised on images, my FEELINGS form reality.
"Trust your FEELINGS, Luke!
FEEL the Force!"
Here is the problem. The snowflakes are attempting to apply the following Aristotelian logic:
What I feel is a fact (which is true - it is).
Facts are infallibly correct. (also true - facts, by definition, cannot be controverted)
Therefore, feelings are infallible.
Unfortunately, what seems to be unassailable logic is corrupted by a confusion of terms. What goes unnoticed by most people is that the subjects have been swapped out. We confuse the existence of facts with the content of facts.

Catholic faith distinguishes between the fides quae creditur ("fides kway") and the fides qua creditur ("fides kwa"). The fides qua is the power by which we believe, it is an individual person's ability to believe, it is subjective. The fides quae is the content of what is believed, it is objective. If we were to use an analogy, the fides qua is the shipping pier that holds piles of cargo, the fides quae is the content of the boxes on the pier. The syllogism above confuses the two and treats them as one.

As already indicated, emotions are, indeed, facts. If we consider the facts of any situation, we have to consider the emotional response those facts engender, because it is a fact that people feel emotions, and those emotions can color how they perceive the facts. However, while it is a fact THAT I feel something, the CONTENT of what I feel can definitely be wrong, my emotions can wrongly summarize the situation at hand.

So, while facts are infallibly correct, feelings are not.

Einstein famously said, "Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed."

Emotions constitute a type of theory. If I encounter a beggar or leper and feel disgust or distaste, I may allow my emotional "theory" to influence my reaction to the leprous beggar. I may throw up, run away, scream at him in order to force him away from me, etc.

My emotions have summarized the situation, but have they done so correctly? Are my feelings infallible? Are my feelings always right? Obviously, I know they are not always right. First impressions say a lot, but first impressions can be, and often are, wrong.

If my rational intellect allows me to recognize that my emotional reaction is often wrong, then, even as I feel the emotional tide, my rationality would attempt to overcome it. If my intellect recognizes that my emotions have incorrectly assessed the beggar's worth, I might still throw up. Emotions are still facts, and my body still reacts to them. But, I would attempt to remove my emotional bias, wipe the bile from my lips and then respond by helping the beggar. I might give him alms, embrace him, care for his wounds, discuss his life's difficulties with him, etc.

Christianity's great leap forward was precisely the emphasis it put upon discounting one's feelings. Any emotionally functioning person is going to reject the image of a flagellated, crucified corpse impaled upon crosspieces of rough-hewn timber. Seeing this sight in real life would be living in a horror movie - we would all be screaming at each other to run away.

Christian rationalism tells us to do precisely the opposite. It tells us not to run away, but to gaze all the more closely. It tells us to investigate and, ultimately, to embrace what looks to all the world like a horror (if you ever wanted to know why horror movies work, it is precisely because they are often a shallow re-telling of the Gospel story).

So, the Christian response is quite simply the reverse of George Lucas' advice: "Your feelings can deceive you. Stretch out with your whole being, your personhood. Don't allow your feelings to become your interpretive theory. Instead, allow yourself to recognize and assist a fellow human person who is in distress."

Dispassionate analysis, objective study of the facts of the case, acknowledging emotion while refusing to allow it to rule the analysis, these are Christian values, founded upon the crucifixion. To say that there is an "emotional definition of obstruction of justice" is true, but that does not make the emotion, or the fact of the emotion, relevant to the analysis of whether or not there actually was an obstruction.

Emotions are facts, but emotions are not infallible, nor are emotions always even relevant. While hate is an emotional response, love is not an emotion. Thus, the lesson of Christianity is precisely to stop trusting your feelings, and start trusting rationality.
God is Pure Reason
God is Love
So, the only reasonable thing to do is to Love

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Accidental Pregnancy

Well, you see, I enjoy driving.
I just love driving - it's great fun.

I wanted to go on a long drive and really enjoy myself, so, I got an AAA Triptik for Washington DC,

I got in my car, followed the Triptik directions, and was having a wonderful time driving. But, after awhile, I must say I was completely shocked to find myself in Washington, DC.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

You, Too, Can Be English Royalty!

Now that the Charlotte Observer has breathlessly reported, yet again, on some woman who claims she was successfully ordained a Catholic priest, it is incumbent upon me to notify all the MSM news outlets that I have accomplished a similarly historical feat.

I have crowned my Catholic Hispanic wife Queen of England.

Now, I know this takes many people by surprise, but it was not a step we took lightly. We considered the historic discrimination instituted by the Act of Settlement 1701, passed by the Parliament of England, stating the heir to throne must not be a "Papist" and that an heir who is a Catholic or who marries one will be excluded from the succession to the throne.

That struck us as terribly discriminatory. Now, certainly, we can understand the English being a bit peeved about the whole Spanish Armada incident, but that was a step too far. So, in order to right the wrong done to Catholics by the English Parliament, and in order to make amends for the Spanish attempt to invade England, we thought it only proper that a Catholic Hispanic should become Queen of England.

It is time for a change, and we are at the forefront, leading the charge. We expect that, eventually, everybody is going to follow us. Indeed, I do very much recommend EVERYONE crown their wives/husbands English royalty. After all, the English have that discriminatory law against Catholics being King or Queen over England, and that really must end. If you are not married, then have a nice ceremony in which you get yourself crowned. When it comes to ending discrimination, there is no need for anyone to on formality. This is the 21st century, after all.

However, when planning your ceremony, I strongly urge you to get a German to do the crowning. Indeed, since I am German, and given the Hanover connection to the English throne, I definitely have more authority to crown my Catholic Hispanic wife Queen of England than anyone has to ordain a woman as a Catholic priest.

And, as I pointed out to the Charlotte Observer five minutes ago, when I submitted the above as a news story, we ALL have as much power to crown each other English royalty as anyone has to ordain a woman as a Catholic priest.

So, I'm sure the Charlotte Observer is going to cover this ground-breaking event. If enough of us start doing it, the English government will HAVE to recognize us. In the immortal words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's (Planned Parenthood vs. Casey): "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."

Thanks to the Charlotte Observer and SCOTUS, we now know the truth: all that stands between Catholics and English royalty is the will to make a change!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Why No Job Is Safe

Pretty much all commentators are agreed: automation is going to eat a lot of jobs in the coming two decades. Between 38% and 50% of all jobs in the US will be automated by 2050. Mark Cuban  insists that social and creative jobs are safe. He's wrong.

By the very definition of IQ, the average is 100. 68% of the population fall within the gray area above. The simplest jobs are the easiest to automate. The simplest jobs are also held by the people with the lowest IQ.

If 38% of the jobs get automated, most of the automated jobs will be stripped from the population to the left of the center line. The jobs to the right of the center line are held by more intelligent people, those jobs are more complicated. Finding people to do complicated jobs is hard, which is why jobs to the right of the center line generally pay more. But some of the jobs to the right of the line will also be automated. For instance, anesthesiology is generally considered a pretty hard job, rather complicated, definitely a high-IQ position, but it also turns out that we have computers which are able to do that job very, very well.

So, the people to the left of the center line will lose their jobs first. The ones to the extreme left will be rendered unemployable. Even if we can train them for a job that is a little more complicated than the one they currently hold, nearly all the jobs on the left will be taken by robots. That is, we would only be able to retrain them for a slightly more complicated job that has ALSO been automated. They can't be moved far enough up the curve to get any of the non-automated jobs.

But, as we move to the right on the curve, the job situation changes. The closer we get to the center-line, the less likely it is that the next higher job will be automated. Worse, the closer we get to the center-line, the larger is the population that could, theoretically, be retrained for the slightly more complicated jobs that remain non-automated. And, keep in mind that many of the jobs on the right, even jobs on the extreme right, can be automated.

You can immediately see the problem. Everyone who has even a small shot at getting a non-automated job will be forced up the conga line to that next available job. Positions that the marginally qualified would, in the past, have ignored as not worth the extra effort will now become the only game they have left in town.

Every remaining job position will be sought after. This will drive wages down across the board. The wages associated with even non-automated positions will be driven into the dirt as everyone re-trains to try to snag one of the remaining places left in the job market.

This has already begun. I have already heard anecdotal stories of 2016 companies re-posting job descriptions that were originally written in 1996, complete with the original 1996 salary. And they fill those positions with that 20-year old salary cap because there is nothing else for job-seekers to do.

People, like Mark Cuban, assert that some industries will weather the automation storm better than others. That is literally impossible. Automation will batter and destroy EVERY nook and cranny of the job market. It will drive EVERYONE'S wages into the dirt. Even if the job is impossible to automate, the wage will drop to pennies on the current dollar, if only because everyone will be retraining and competing to get it.

On the bright side, automation will make superior products, and it will make them much more cheaply. On the down side, fewer and fewer people will have work wages to buy the products. They will have to get their incomes from something else.

Arguing that people will be able to pursue their dreams doesn't help. They may be able to do so, but it won't pay them when they do. Art, creativity, it won't matter what it is, nothing a human being can produce will be worth as much, if only because EVERY human being will be forced to at least attempt to engage in the non-automated activities that remain. The "nearly-good-enough" will drive down the value of the awe-inspiring perfect work of art, if only because there will be so many more "nearly-good-enough" pieces to choose from, and so much less money flowing in from wages, making the "perfect" unaffordable for nearly everyone at current prices.

Human beings have dealt with the problem of scarcity for our entire history. We are good at it, we have a system (capitalism) that is about to whip the scarcity problem permanently.

We have virtually no experience with the problem of perpetual surplus. That is where we are headed, and we have no system for dealing with it. Like the dog that chases the car, we have been chasing perpetual surplus for our entire existence. What happens when the dog catches the car? We don't know.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

How the Rich Murder the Poor

When mobs rioted in Ferguson, MO and burned down their own neighborhoods, commentators were aghast. They wondered how anyone could engage in such self-destructive behaviour.

But, to be fair to the impoverished people of Ferguson, they were merely imitating the rich and politically powerful as best they could. A new study shows that those who work to help the poor by raising the minimum wage have, in fact, been burning down poorer neighborhoods and destroying the businesses. Instead of using gasoline and a match, they use the law, but the effect is the same.
"Local minimum wage hikes cause restaurants to leave or shut down and deter new ones from entering, according to a new Harvard Business School study of the San Francisco Bay Area restaurant industry that contradicts the orthodox liberal view that steeply raising the cost of unskilled labor will not affect jobs or hiring.
More interesting, though, are the study’s findings about which restaurants are forced to leave by the higher wage floors. The authors compared rates of departure of restaurants across different Yelp ratings, and found that the policy hit low and mid-quality restaurants much harder than top-tier restaurants. “Our point estimates suggest that a $1 increase in the minimum wage leads to an approximate 14 percent increase in the likelihood of exit for the median 3.5-star restaurant but the impact falls to zero for five-star restaurants.” 
While a restaurant’s Yelp rating doesn’t correlate directly with its price range, this differential effect suggests that it’s easier for rich people to ignore the deleterious effects of minimum wage hikes. Virtually all of the most expensive restaurants in San Francisco have four or more stars; the city’s business and professional elite are unlikely to see many of their favorite high-end destinations pushed out of the city. Poor or middle-income workers are less likely to have the luxury of only frequenting top-rated establishments, not to mention that they are more likely to work at the restaurants that the hikes put out of business.
Similarly, the tax burden on the poor is far too high. Now, you may say, "Wait a minute! You always say the bottom 50% pay essentially nothing in taxes!"

That's true. The bottom 50% do pay almost nothing in taxes. But it isn't quite nothing. Study the chart below. Even a glance shows the bottom 20% of the nation pays 0.6% of the taxes. But, when you consider how much wealth the bottom 20% own, that 0.6% is way, way more than they can afford.

The top 40% pay over 88% of the taxes. And when you consider how much of the nation's wealth that top 40% owns, they still don't pay enough of the taxes.

Notice something about the graph. Even though the top 20% pay 85% of the taxes, the percentage of taxes paid as a ratio of wealth owned flips for everyone below the top 20%. The top one percent of wage earners pay 24% of the nation's taxes, but they own 34.6% of the nation's wealth. That's not a bad deal. Similarly, the top 20% pay nearly 68% of the nation's taxes, but they own 85% of the nation's wealth - they're still doing fine.

But then it flips. Everybody below the top 20% of wage earners actually pay a larger percentage in taxes than the percentage of national wealth they have access to. The second tier pays, in percentage terms, twice as much in taxes as they have in wealth. The third quintile is slightly worse: they pay, in percentage terms, more than double in taxes as they have in wealth. The fourth quintile only pays 2.5% of the taxes, but that's about a thousand times higher than they should be paying, when their wealth portion is considered.

And for the poorest of America's poor, the bottom 20%, Lord have mercy. They may only pay 0.6% of the nation's taxes, but they own absolutely none of the nation's wealth. That is, the bottom 20%, are actually suffering under an essentially INFINITE tax burden once you consider the fact that they own zero percent of the nation's wealth. The table below shows the problem. The bottom 20% has a divide by zero error.

% Taxes Paid % National Wealth Owned Ratio of Taxes Paid to Wealth
Top 1% 24 34.6 69%
Top 20% 68.7 85.1 81%
2nd 20% 19.3 10.9 177%
3rd 20% 8.9 4 223%
4th 20% 2.5 0.2 1250%
Bottom 20% 0.6 0

"But, wait! Don't the poor get a lot of money from the government?" Well, that depends on what you mean by "a lot". They bottom 40% get between 50% and 100% of their total income from government transfers, but even so, they actually get less government money than the rich do. As I did with the graph above, the graph below is simply a visual representation of the 2011 CBO data that I presented a year ago.

The rich and powerful control the commentary, so we hear a lot about how much the rich pay. And they do pay a lot - there's no question of that. But the poor aren't making out like bandits. They're barely making by at all.

Friday, March 24, 2017

On Irish Slavery

So, the New York Times now tells us that the story of the Irish being enslaved by the English is just a myth. The linked story has these two illiuminating paragraphs:
"Not all of them entered servitude willingly. Some were political prisoners. Some were children...."
Get that? The experts in the article acknowledge the Irish did not enter service willingly. Many were essentially prisoners in a political war between Ireland and England. And the English willingly traded in children who were, by definition, incapable of giving consent.

But, we shouldn't read what the NYT admits, and then conclude that the Irish were enslaved, for in the very next paragraph, the experts are enlisted:
“An indenture implies two people have entered into a contract with each other but slavery is not a contract,” said Leslie Harris, a professor of African-American history at Northwestern University. “It is often about being a prisoner of war or being bought or sold bodily as part of a trade. That is a critical distinction.”
OK - so, the first paragraph admit the Irish did not enter into a free contract, some were political (war) prisoners, some were children (thus incapable of consent).

Then the next paragraph says the Irish were NOT slaves because slavery involves not entering freely into a contract (check), slavery involves being a prisoner of war (check) and slavery involves being bought/sold as part of a trade (check).

Thus, we are meant to conclude that because the Irish fulfilled all the conditions of slavery, they were clearly not slaves. Sure - that's obvious. No matter how many of their conditions you fulfill, you aren't a slave unless the privileged college elites decide you are.

According to the elites, the Irish aren't good enough to be slavery victims, therefore they aren't. What could be simpler to understand?

Ignore contemporary accounts. Those poor fools aren't as educated as our enlightened elites. Only stupid priests and racists (but I repeat myself) would mis-characterize simple involuntary contracts as slavery:
"in 1699 Father Garganel, S.J., Superior of the island of Martinique, asked for one or two Irish Fathers for that and the neighboring isles which were 'fill of Irish' for every year shiploads of men, boys and girls, partly crimped, partly carried off by main force for the purposes of slave trade, are conveyed by the English from Ireland."