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Thursday, December 20, 2012

You CAN Outrun a Bullet

It takes a marksman about 3-4 seconds to set the sight on a target, so if you run away and weave, you greatly reduce your chances of being hit. In fact, you don't even have to weave.

Studies of New York police officer shootings show that if you can put 25 feet between you and the shooter, he almost certainly won't hit you at all.

In live fire situations, where cops were actively trying to hit a perpetrator, they managed to hit their targets:
  • 38% of the time at a distance of 0-2 yards, 
  • 17% of the time at 3-8 yards, 
  • 9% of the time at 8-15 yards. 
  • 8% of the time at 16-25 yards, 
  • 4% of the time at greater than 25 yards 
So, what are teachers trained to do?
Lock all the children into a small room, just like you would lock sheep or cattle into a pen.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Mortal Sin at Newtown

Did the teachers at Newtown, Connecticut commit mortal sin by failing to arm themselves in preparation to repel intruders?
2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility. 
If a teacher FAILS to be properly armed and ready to shoot an intruder dead, has that teacher committed a mortal sin?

Hmmm...  Grave matter, full knowledge, refusal to do as Christ commands - quite possibly "yes."

I can choose to be a martyr myself, but I cannot choose, by my action or inaction, to make someone else a martyr. I cannot refuse to arm myself because I don't like the idea that I might have to use deadly force to protect the ones who have been placed in my care.

Now, when Cardinal O'Malley called for "more gun laws", perhaps he really did mean to say that all teachers should be trained in deadly force.

If that wasn't what he meant, he may want to read the Catechism.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

An Inconvenient Truth: Homicide Edition

Now that we've had another mass murder, everyone is arguing about gun control law. At the risk of making the discussion more rational, let's study some correlations.  Keep in mind that correlation is NOT causation - just because two factors happen together does not mean one caused the other. Both might be caused by a third, as yet unidentified, factor.

For instance, it is the case that child abuse has been dropping for five straight years. It is also the case that gun ownership has been skyrocketing the last five years. So, which one is the cause, which one is the effect? Have parents become so frightened of their own children that they no longer dare neglect them, and now choose to arm themselves against the little tykes? Or have children gotten a hold of newly acquired household guns and threatened their parents with death if the latter ever again breathe a word about eating spinach?

Well, probably neither. Probably, a third (or fourth) factor is at play - perhaps older parents are less likely to neglect their children AND more likely to buy a gun to protect themselves and their families than young parents are. Or maybe it's the phase of the moon. Who knows?

In fact, we don't know that the two trends are connected at all.
All we know is that both trends are real.

With that in mind, look at this Wikipedia world map of homicide rates, showing the murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants by any cause (not just guns), based on UN Office on Drugs and Crime 2012 data:

 Murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants most recent year.

Notice that liberals are always comparing the murder rate in the United States to the murder rate in Europe, but never to the murder rate in Cuba or Russia - both nations with strict gun control laws. Why? Well, both Cuba and Russia's murder rates are much higher than the murder rate in most of Europe. If we want to lower homicides, we should look at nations with lower homicide rates, right?

Well, maybe.
Or maybe not.

Let's take a look at another map, based on data from the CIA's 2009 World Factbook, comparing global median age ranges in various countries. The median age is the age which half the country is above, and the other half is below:

Notice how closely median age correlates to homicide rates. In South America and Africa, the correlation is darned near 1:1 - the younger the population, the more likely it is to be homicidal. Within the United States, FBI statistics bear this out - murders are committed primarily by males between the ages of 17 and 35, tailing off rapidly above the age of 50. So, it is not too surprising to find that countries whose median age is between 17 and 35 will have higher murder rates than those which aren't.

We also see from the map, that this correlation between youth and homicide is not perfect. Lithuania has a very old population (40+), but a relatively high homicide rate. The three Scandinavian countries are all old (median age is 40+), but have very different homicide rates. Similarly, Russia, America, China, Ukraine, Poland and Australia have similar median ages, but quite different homicide rates.

But, overall, the median age correlates well enough to the homicide rate for us to make one relatively safe conclusion: if we really want to compare apples to apples, we shouldn't be comparing homicide rates in the United States with homicide rates in the much older nations of Europe, but rather to the more age-equivalent societies of Russia, China, France, Ukraine and Australia.

When we compare these age equivalent countries, we can now see rather a different story. Russia has the highest homicide rate (10.2), followed by the Ukraine (5.2), the United States (4.2), France (1.1), Poland (1.1), Australia (1.0) and China (1.0).

What could account for those differences? It can't be gun laws or gun ownership.  Here is the list of gun ownership rates.

If you click the link, you will notice that countries with a lot of young people, and therefore extremely high homicide rates, also tend to have the lowest number of guns per person. That is, the lack of guns in a young population doesn't appear to inhibit homicide rates at all.

But we care about populations with median ages between 35-40. Below is a short version of the per capita gun ownership list for countries with a median age comparable to the United States. The number of guns per 100 residents is listed:

  • 88.8 - United States (#1 on the list) 
  • 31.2 - France 
  • 15.0 - Australia
  •   8.9 - Russia 
  •   6.6 - Ukraine 
  •   4.9 - China 
  •   1.3 - Poland

Yeah, not much correlation there. Ukraine and Russia have higher homicide rates even though both have only one-tenth the guns the US has. France has three times the guns Russia has, Australia has twice the guns, but Russia easily outpaces the homicide rate in both those countries as well. The Ukraine is in the same situation - fewer guns than similar countries, but a lot more murders.

If gun ownership correlated to intentional homicide rates, the United States should top the list of homicidal countries. Instead, it is only about half-way down.

If we were to drill down into American statistics, it gets even more disturbing. Men make up only 50% of the population, but account for 90% of the murders. Blacks males make up less than 6% of the population, but they account for 53% of the homicides in the United States and 50% of the homicide victims. Most murder victims and offenders know each other, either through friendship or family relationship. And the majority of murders happen during or after an argument.

In short, if young black men who knew each other were to stop getting into fights, America's homicide rate could be cut by half.

So, what should we do? While we arguably have a problem with homicidal violence, the availability of guns doesn't appear to have much to do with it.

Apparently, if we really wish to stop homicidal violence in America, we would have to criminalize being male, especially being a young black male. We would also have to criminalize the establishment of interpersonal relationships, either via friendship or family. And having personal arguments would have to be categorically outlawed.

If we passed just those simple laws - jail young men, especially young black men, outlaw families and friends, and incarcerate anyone having an argument - homicidal violence should disappear. Additional gun laws don't even have to be considered.

See how easy it is?

Monday, December 10, 2012


A stopped clock is right twice a day.
The National Catholic Reporter said something very profound:
Liturgy is not about taste or aesthetics. It is how the church defines itself. Those who rejected Vatican II and its liturgy were the first to understand the connection between liturgy and our self-understanding as church.  
Pope Paul VI also understood this. The rejection of the Vatican II liturgy is a rejection of its ecclesiology and theology.
There's one problem, of course.
It was precisely Pope Paul VI who rejected the Vatican II liturgy.

As has been noted by virtually everyone, the liturgy described in Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium isn't the Mass that Pope Paul VI implemented. He tossed the council's advice into the trashcan, created and promulgated his own liturgy. Nothing wrong with that - he's the Pope, he has the authority to do it.

But if we want to say "the rejection of the Vatican II liturgy is a rejection of its ecclesiology and theology" - and I think that is a fair statement - then we must admit that Pope Paul VI was the first to obviously reject Vatican II. 


Which is really awkward for everyone.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Catholic Homiletics Porn

In popular usage, "porn" has become a very expansive term. We can talk about gun porn, tech porn, car porn... in fact, "porn" is now used to describe any communication that increases the obsession with or lust for a specific thing, any technique used for exciting extremely strong emotions about a subject.

One FSSP church I attend has a priest who does Catholic homiletic porn.

In what does this consist?

Well, Catholic homiletic porn is a homily that professes to talk about a specific doctrine, but in fact never gets around to talking about the doctrine. Instead, the congregation is subjected to a dizzying collection of quotes, stories, private revelation and sundry nonsense, none of which actually address the purported subject at hand, but all of which are intended to provoke a visceral emotional response in the hearer.

It's all about stirring up emotion, and the facts be damned.

Two recent examples will have to suffice.

Round One
Recently, the priest subjected his flock to a homily that purported to be on the anti-Christ. Now, there is not really much that anyone can say about the anti-Christ. In Scripture, the apostle John says the anti-Christ is anyone who denies that God came in the flesh. In that sense, any time any one of us sins, we substantially prefigure the anti-Christ. The CCC devotes two articles to the subject, to whit:
675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.576
676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,577 especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.578
Ludwig Ott's "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma" says not much more, except to add "the historical interpretation associated with a particular time (Nero, Caligula, and others) as well as this historico-religious explanation, which seeks the origin of the idea of the Antichrist in Babylonian and Persian myths, are to be rejected." (p. 487)

And that pretty much sums it up.
So, what did the priest have to say in his sermon?

Well, NONE of this.

He doesn't mention a single particle of doctrine through the whole long thing. Instead, he claims - with no particular evidence (IrenausAugustine, and Lactantius found the idea laughable) - that Nero is a "type for the anti-Christ". So, he goes on a long, long diatribe the heretical Donatists would have loved in which he meandered on about Nero: his predilections, his sins, his excesses, his persecutions of Christians; all the bloody, gory details he could comfortably include, while hinting that there was even more sordidness that he dare not speak, lest he offend the congregation!

Ah, the titillation it produced!

You could almost see the ripple of excitement through the congregation as the voyeurs contemplated the forbidden dainties the priest set before them!

This sermon produced not a word about Scripture or what St. John had to say, no mention of the CCC's passages on the anti-Christ, nothing from the Councils, no doctrine at all. No, just the life of Nero, which Ott's manual, quoted above, seemed to prohibit... but no matter.

He had successfully increased his congregation's obsession with and mania about the "end of the world", a mania to which he is dramatically (in every sense of the word) attached.

The sermon was a rousing success.

Round Two
So much so, that the next week, the same priest followed up with a sermon on the Last Judgement. Since he loves typecasting, he chose to assert that the Roman destruction of Israel was a type for the Last Judgement. This allowed him to go on a lovingly detailed description of the bloody sack of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple and the annihilation of the Levitical priesthood.

And... what was the point of this description?

Beats me. While the description of the sack stirred marvelous emotions, none of it had a thing to do with the Last Judgement.  In fact, not only did none of it have any relevance to the Last Judgement, quite a bit of it was simply wrong. As has happened in the past, he ended his sermon by using his assembled descriptions to assert that "the Old Covenant is dead, the Jews were destroyed along with the Temple."

Now, I've heard this nonsense before.
In fact, the idea that modern Jews are not really Jews because they don't have a Temple is really, really popular among rad-trads. And really, really stupid as well. Even Michael Voris got tagged by me on this one.

And, in order to keep this post from getting any longer, let it suffice to say that every single point I make against Voris' video can be brought against this pastor's sermon. It was, and is, a stupid, stupid, stupid sermon.

But to the Voris points, I will add just one more. The CCC points out:
674 The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus.569 ... St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?"571 The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles",572 will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".573
If today's Jews are not real Jews, then the real Jews are gone. If the real Jews are gone, then there is no second coming to look forward to, for those long-dead Jews didn't, in the last analysis, recognize Jesus before they died out.

That's heresy, but that's the logical conclusion you are forced to draw after listening to this priest's homiletic porn on his personal mania, the Last Judgement.

Now, I'm picking on this particular priest because he is the one at hand. Actually, most priests suffer from various forms of his delusion. They claim to teach some aspect of doctrine, but their homilies are actually simply intended to foment an obsession in the minds of the congregation. Whatever the pastor's pet peeve is, he intends to make his congregation's pet peeve. So, the whole orientation of the parish is slowly altered to reinforce whatever mindset the pastor has.

The teaching of Church doctrine stops, the teaching of personal devotions as dogmatic truths begins.
It stops being the Catholic Church and starts being the parish of Father X and his tribe of whirling dervishes, all of them rabidly focused on whatever fixation the priest has.

So, I know I am not alone when I contemplate this question every Sunday: should I go to the liturgically abusive Novus Ordo parishes, with their pablum sermons, or to the liturgically inscrutable traditional Mass, with its absurd sermons?

I wish it were a rhetorical question.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Pronoun Trouble

Here's a question for Latin Mass types.
When you who claim to love Latin pray in English, you always say "Holy Ghost"

But when post-Vatican II types, who hate Latin, when THEY pray, they always say "Holy Spirit".

And on the rare occasions when the two pray together, each glares at the other for their silly language pretensions.


Now, "Spirit" comes from "spiritus" which is Latin for "breath."
e.g., In nomine Patris et fillii et Spiritus Sancti.

But "ghost" is derived from the Old English "gast" which comes from the German "Geist", and back to a root which originally means "to be excited or frightened".

So, the people who HATE Latin in liturgy pray in... Latin.
And the people who HATE English in liturgy pray in... Old English.

And they each glare at the other one for praying in the language they profess to love.

Does anyone wonder why I say "A Pox on BOTH your houses!"

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Why We Are Done For

So, if you read the conservative political class today, they tell us we don't have much to worry about. The US is still center-right. Elections come, elections go, we will soldier on. Lost a battle, haven't lost the war, etc.

Mind you, these are the same people who told us this was the most important election in our lifetimes, perhaps in the history of the Republic. But now that we've lost, we're apparently supposed to say "Ah, well. We'll getcha next time."

And here is where we part ways.

Two by Two

There are two kinds of conservatives: economic conservatives and social conservatives.

When the Tea Party formed, it was formed from equal parts of the two. The fight within the party was over which one would win out. The Republican party stalwarts hated the Tea Party, but they hated the social conservative wing a lot more than they hated the economic conservative wing. Most of the major Internet libertarian and Tea Party bloggers have been economic conservatives, not social conservatives. So, the Republican stalwarts and the libertarian economic conservatives joined forces to give us ... Mitt Romney.

Social conservatives hated Romney, but we hated Barack more, so everyone held their nose and voted for Romney.

Well, not everyone.

As we found out Tuesday night, conservatives, whether economic or social, are in the minority. We are in round two of FDR's interminable reign. More on that in a bit.

What I want to focus on right now is the dissonance from the economic conservatives. We have, on the one hand, people like Glenn Reynolds and Ann Althouse - supporters of gay marriage, not particularly opposed to abortion, libertarian economic conservative types - who tell us not to worry.
And as Andrew Breitbart often reminded us, the most important battles must be cultural ones, because culture and media inevitably shape the political choices we make together.
That war must begin anew. And it begins now. 
 But when these people use phrases like "the most important battles must be cultural", they don't mean by the word "cultural" the same thing that social conservatives mean. We mean "no sodomite marriage, no abortion, no euthanasia, no contraception, return to Christ". That is not what the economic conservatives mean. By "culture," the economic conservatives mean "no socialism. no government control," i.e., they mean economic culture, not moral culture. As one economically conservative commentator so concisely put it:
I’m not religious, and my political beliefs don’t rest on a religious foundation. Gay marriage (to pick one example) doesn’t bother me much. I did, though, find the various bizarre comments about rape from Republican candidates to be stupid and offensive, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they helped to cost enough potential Republican votes to sway the election.
We know how well economic conservatives are doing politically.
So, how are social conservatives making out?

To take one example, every exit poll in every state where exit polls were conducted showed majority support for abortion. Three of Sarah Palin's pro-life picks went down to defeat shortly after they announced pro-life sentiments. Given Palin's phenomenal success in picking winners, that's a substantive, significant loss. It is worth noting how the establishment Republicans reacted to these pro-life comments: repudiation, dismissal, abandonment.

Pro-lifers can mewl about how the majority of the population is pro-life. It may even be true on some level. But pro-lifers didn't show up to the polls. In fact, most people didn't show up to vote.

If pro-lifers won't vote against Barack Hussein Obama, pro-lifers won't vote. If pro-lifers won't vote for pro-life candidates, they aren't pro-life.

In short, we do not have a pro-life majority in any meaningful sense, no matter what the polls may say.

FDR Redux

I mentioned above that we are facing FDR redux. That has implications as well.

FDR stacked the Supreme Court.
Obama will too.

He may replace as many as four justices in his second term. The new SCOTUS will make the Warren Court look like Jerry Falwell's ice cream social club. Gun control, homosexual marriage, pedophilia, bestiality, sharia law, speech censorship - the new SCOTUS will have 20 years to implement the left's agenda, and they will put that time to good use.

The moral culture, what's left of it, will be shredded.
Obamacare will rip the belly out of the American economy.
It isn't coming back.

FDR bought his majorities. He used tax dollars to put people on the dole, thereby buying votes. Once on the government dole, people were afraid to leave it. He reigned 16 years because he turned Americans into beggars. People stopped believing they could succeed on their own, create small businesses on their own, and regulations prohibited them trying. He controlled the culture through government regulation.

The battlefields of WW II destroyed FDR's beggar mentality. America's men learned, quite literally, to innovate or die. Those who couldn't innovate fast enough did die. Only the lucky and the smart survived. Many people attribute America's post-war dominance to her lack of competition in the world market, the fact that her factories were not destroyed. All true.

But there is something else. American casualties were not as high as that of Russia, Germany, Japan, Britain, or France. For America alone, the war killed off our lousy innovators without cutting deeply into the ranks of the superior innovators. For most other nations, the men who came back from the war did so in body bags, and were buried. For America, the men who came back from the war were alive, they were the ones who could think on their feet.  These were the men who built the Apollo program, the electronic revolution, the age of passenger jets.

That generation is gone.

Obama's win demonstrates that the United States has again descended to the beggar mentality of FDR's America. But this beggar mentality has something new. This beggar mentality combines with the morality of the alley cat and the stray dog, the morality of the animal that eat its own children when hunger gnaws. This is the morality of the rich pagan elite, who gleefully kill each other for a chance at power.

For the entire life of the Church, there have been generations plagued by evil priests and bishops. Many Catholics, not just in this generation, but in many that came before us, have spent a lifetime waiting for bad priests, bad bishops to retire and/or die. Nothing else could be done but wait.

In this political situation, while white Catholics voted against Obama, Hispanic Catholics voted overwhelmingly for him. The populace, both Catholic and non-Catholic, has been beggared in both economics and morality, where the population affirmatively chooses murderous despotism, there is nothing to do but wait. Such a generation will have no children, of course.

The future belongs only to those who do have children, to those who manage to keep their children unstained by the muck of the rabid culture that surrounds them.

The wise man does not get into hand-to-hand combat with a rabid dog. If he lacks a rifle or a bow - and we lack both - then he just stands off in the distance, and waits for the dog's inevitable death. America will not survive this election in any recognizable form. At this point, we can preserve only the ideas she once stood for, preserve them in our children, and wait for the dogs to die.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012 is for sale

Given events, I have decided to put up for sale.
Anyone interested in purchasing that domain, please contact me at

Thank you.

Thursday, November 01, 2012


Wearing my various hats, in addition to running Bridegroom Press and Best Catholic Posters, I am an adjunct professor in math, history and religion. As a result, I am able to do interdisciplinary studies without leaving my chair. And in the course of looking at the ways people approach these various disciplines, I am struck by a thought.

If mastering the material in a class means that you either know the answers to a question or you know where to go to get the answers necessary, then students who can demonstrate these two abilities have mastered the class material.

So, what counts as mastery of the material?

Consider the world of the math instructor, for instance. For years now, lower form arithmetic has been taught with calculators, to such an extent that you can now ask college students what 9 * 7 is, and they won't know the answer if they don't have their smart phone calculators with them. As any college math teacher can tell you, I am not making this up. Every semester, I see college students count on their fingers when asked to multiply two single-digit numbers. Even simple addition and subtraction stumps many of them.

Now, these same students can and do pass their math classes. It is not at all difficult for them to do so, given that "best practices" (this is the phrase used) now virtually require math teachers to allow calculators in the math classroom. So, when these same students pass the math course, what does that mean?

Is the innate knowledge of multiplication tables central to math or is it extraneous, rendered as unnecessary as knowledge of how to use a slide rule? Or are we "dumbing down" the math curriculum in order to accommodate people who have been ripped off by a degenerate educational system?

If you argue that it is virtually impossible not to have a calculator at your side now, then you would say they passed the math class on their own.


If that's the case, then what counts as knowledge mastery if the ubiquitous internet puts the information for your humanities course at your fingertips without a trip to the library? Is the e-book now the same as the calculator - an acceptable tool on tests? If not, why not? For example, if MS Word or the Internet will happily format your footnotes and bibliography for you, of what use is it to grade someone's ability to adhere to MLA or APA footnote style? Am I grading the student's grammar abilities, or am I actually grading the grammar abilities of the programmer who devised the word processing software the student used?

Why can't the humanities student access digital resources while taking a test? Math students do. If we insist that group work is important, and we're grading them on group work during the course, then why can't they e-mail or text each other for answers during the final exam? What if there's a chip implant to the body that allows instant Internet information recall or instant student intercommunication? Do you really think this won't happen in the near future?

And when it does, then what does it mean to say that we "know" something?

Humanities instructors around me complain about "cheating" on humanities tests, when the students are really just doing what they have been taught is perfectly acceptable on math tests.

Plato used to complain about books because he felt they were crutches that would ennervate future generations. Men who did not learn to develop and rely on their memories would be weaker for it. I'm not sure he was wrong, but when "memory" has been electronically redefined and expanded, I'm also no longer sure I know what I mean when I quote him.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Homosexuals Are Going To Hell!

Just Kidding!

Actually, all whites are going to hell.
A long-time black civil rights activist said, so it must be true.

Now, obviously, it is patently absurd and deeply offensive for anyone to even begin to imply that there is anything wrong with being homosexual, or pro-abortion, or anything like that.

Being homosexual will not send you to hell.

But if someone accuses you of being white... well.. time to break out the asbestos suits.

“I don’t know what kind of a n—– wouldn’t vote with a black man running,” Lowery also told the audience in the St. James Baptist Church in Forsyth, Ga., according to the Reporter...
“It was a joke” told via the perspective of a young militant, Lowery told TheDC. “When I said it, I said it was a joke, I identified it as a joke,” he said.
Which is why we are all still laughing. 
I mean, that part where he calls black men the "n" word - that was HILARIOUS!
Cracked me up. I'm still wiping tears from my eyes.
So is Martin Luther King.

Lowery is major figure in Democratic politics. He headed the George delegation to the Democratic Party’s 2012 convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Thus, no harm, no foul.
And if you're a white guy reading this, you'd better think this is all a wonderful joke or you're just another damnable racist. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Pope's Unmentionables

God bless Pope Benedict XVI.
He's really trying to promote indulgences.
Even put out a brand new plenary indulgence for the Year of Faith.
(Sadly, it's not in my 2013 calendar because he just announced it last week)

Unfortunately, NO ONE will do this indulgence.

You see, this is the meat of how you get the Year of Faith plenary indulgence:
...take part in at least three instances of preaching during the Sacred Missions, or at least three lessons on the Acts of Vatican Council II and on the Articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in any church or ideal place;
The "spirit of Vatican II" priests will refuse to do what is necessary to fulfill the indulgence because they don't really like the theology of indulgences.

The SSPX and FSSP priests won't do it because they don't really like the theology of Vatican II.

Studying Vatican II documents to get a plenary indulgence is a contradiction in terms for the Church in America.

Ah, well.

Theoretically, it was a wonderful idea...

Muslims In Europe: Maybe Good News?

A Cardinal has apparently gotten into trouble by showing a YouTube video to an international synod of bishops. The video was entitled Muslim Demographics.

I've had people ask me what I think about this situation.
Here's my take.

I saw Muslim Demographics a few years ago when it first came out. It mixes facts with fantasy and gets things both very wrong and very right.

As the video correctly points out, every culture needs a rate of 2.1 children per fertile woman to stay viable. It is the case that as far as we know, there is no case of a culture with a consistent below-replacement fertility rate ever flipping to a consistent above-replacement fertility rate. It is likewise true that Muslims are immigrating to Europe in large numbers. Beyond that, things get a little fuzzy.

For instance, the video claims that native French citizens have a fertility rate of 1.8, while Muslim immigrants to France have a fertility rate of 8.1. Since France doesn't break out its census figures according to religious denomination, it is hard to know where these figures come from. And without a valid source, the numbers are really impossible to believe.

As this study from the Pew forum shows, Muslim demographics are dropping just like European demographics are dropping, and for pretty much the same reason: Muslims are getting rich. As any study of the numbers shows, the richer a country gets, the fewer children it's inhabitants have.

Now, it is true that Muslim demographics have only fallen to about 4.5. Muslims are nowhere near the 1.9 that is common to European countries. But that's only because Muslim countries haven't been as rich for as long. They only started getting their influx of petro-dollars in the 1970s. In fact, Muslim demographics are declining faster than the world as a whole.

But it's actually worse than that. As I have frequently pointed out, Muslims - especially the most violent kind, the Salafi (Wahabbi) Muslims of the Saudi Arabian peninsula - tend to kill off their fertile women. The male-female sex ratio in these countries for women 15-65 drops like a rock. Precisely because they kill off a significant proportion of their fertile women, they must have more women than other populations just to maintain their reproductive rates intact.

And, worse still, they don't use that reproductive capacity in a very useful way. Among orthodox Muslims, it is considered optimal to marry your daughter to your brother's son. That's right. First cousin marriage is considered the height of Muslim orthodoxy. You can imagine what this does to the Muslim genetic pool and the effects it must have upon Muslim intellectual capacity.

But you don't have to imagine - we have the numbers. Even though Muslims make up something like one-quarter of the world's population, they have produced exactly one Nobel prize winner in the sciences. By comparison, Jews make up about 0.2% of the world's population, but men and women with Jewish geneologies have produced roughly 20% of the Nobel prize winners awarded in the 20th century.

Overall, about half the Muslim population worldwide is inbred. This percentage is not dropping with time. So, even as they kill of their fertile women, they are marrying those same women to first cousins at the same constant rate. This produces a population which has lower IQs and higher rates of genetic and congenital birth defects than the general population.

Finally, we haven't taken into account the very real fact of Muslim conversion. According to the imams themselves, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity every day, 6 million a year.

So, to what extent does Muslim fecundity threaten European culture? That question cannot be answered as easily as the video in question pretends. Certainly Muslims are currently having more children than Europeans. Europe will inevitably become smaller and more Muslim than it has in preceding centuries. Consequently, it will also become stupider and more diseased. But, as their contact with Christians in Europe increases, these same Muslims are also going to provide a surge of converts to Christianity. As is the case with most conversions, Christian Europe will pick up the smartest, most well-read, most independent of the Muslims. Adult converts to the Faith are generally renowned for orthodoxy and fecundity.

And that, certainly, is good news for Europe.

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Cloud of Unknowing

What kind of social event are you attending? Listen to the dinner conversation. If the host is being complimented on the the excellence of the food, it is an event for middle-income or low-income guests. High income guests do not compliment high income hosts on the quality of the dinner because both guest and host know the host did not prepare the food.

A similar dynamic can be applied to what constitutes scholastic cheating.
Let me explain.

In Plato's day, when reading and writing were expensive hobbies, your mental agility was not measured by how many books you had read, but by how many memories you had created. The science of mnemonics required its practitioners to memorize large chunks of material and reproduce those memorized chunks on demand. Remember (he wrote, piquantly), the Iliad and the Odyssey were both originally memorized, not written works. Indeed, nearly everything we consider an "ancient work" got its start as a memorized work, not a written work.

What would Plato say of the modern reliance on books? Well, we already know what he would have said, because he already said it:
'Most ingenious Theuth, one man has the ability to beget arts, but the ability to judge of their usefulness or harmfulness to their users belongs to another; and now you who are the father of letters, have been led by your affection to ascribe to them a power the opposite of that which they really possess. For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.'
Plato said using books was cheating.

Why do I bring this up? Because "cheating" has become a serious problem in all the best schools.  Unfortunately, it isn't necessarily clear that this is cheating.

We use use books to store knowledge now, not just our memories. This use of books is no longer considered cheating. So, to what extent is it cheating today to collaborate on answers to an exam? [Editor's Note: Before you accuse me of ulterior motives, I have NOT undertaken this action since 4th grade, when I glanced at a fellow student's math test, wrote down his answer and STILL got it wrong. From that point forward, I decided the candle was not worth the game. I could get it just as wrong on my own without any risk, so why bother outsourcing the job?]

Who You Know Matters
Just as books debased the value of memorized material, so the web has debased the value of books as a means of storing knowledge.

In Plato's time, the focus was on facts - you memorized the rendition of a passage or the facts of a matter, the specific authorship of the passage or the facts were merely supporting material. Since Plato lost the fight and books triumphed, authorship became more important. Today and for centuries prior, we have shown our erudition by referencing the book from which our material came. Even St. Paul felt compelled to remind his readers, not once, but twice, that what he was saying was already mentioned "somewhere in Scripture." (Letter to the Hebrews: somewhere).

When I was young, I disliked the fact that people got jobs based on the fact that they knew someone in the company. I felt people should be hired based on knowledge and skill level, not connections. In short, I was young and stupid.

Now that I am older and wiser, I recognize the fact: who you know is part of what you know.  People are often hired precisely because of who they know, the connections they can make for the company. Indeed, that's why upper management gets paid more than the line worker. Upper management knows people who can get the product attention and sales. The factory worker does not. Anyone can make a product, but selling it? That's a much tougher proposition.

So, in times past, we footnoted our papers to show that we had "met" a bunch of dead people by virtue of having read their books. That’s what all of academics teaches. The “who” in academia is simply about footnoting dead people in your papers instead of texting living people on your iPhone. According to the academics, if you know the Great Books or the Politically Correct Books, then you know the right people, even if you’ve never met them. You footnote them in order to “prove” that you “met” them.

But dead people don't network much, so footnotes are becoming less and less important. And, for that matter, so is the information being footnoted.
When 90% of any of the information you want is just a web search away, is the possession of a specific fact necessarily any more important than the dead person who could tell you the fact?

Stuyvesant and every other upper crust school teach primarily one thing – who you know is as important, more important, than what you know. In this post-print sense, collaborating on an answer via iPhone is the next logical step in the sequence. We began by moving information from personal memory (as Plato required) to book memory (what books have you read?). Now we move information from book memory to the "cloud" of interpersonal memory (who do you know that can get this done for us?).

In a society that values lobbying and social connections, people are (rightly) hired for their social connections more than the book knowledged that can be Googled at the speed of light. Using books would have been “cheating” according to Plato. Now using iPhones is “cheating” according to us old fogeys.

Is it cheating? Socrates presents Plato as someone who sought out every person who could in an ultimately futile attempt to remedy his own ignorance. These students do the same. Would Plato approve? That's a good question...

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Roundup on The Religion of Peace

3) Muslims Celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross


Protesters smash windows, set fires at embassy in Tunisia...


Report: German embassy in Sudan on fire...

Clashes intensify near US embassy in Cairo...

Embassies on high alert as protests spread...

Crowd in Lebanon torches KFC...

North Dakota State University evacuated after bomb threat...


Saturday, September 08, 2012

A Labor Day Epiphany

Well, the title isn't entirely correct, since it isn't technically Labor Day today. But it is close enough for horseshoes, hand granades, government work and thermonuclear devices.

Everyone recognizes the problem described in this letter. No one wants to do dirty jobs. Heaven knows I don't. But the reason we don't want to do dirty jobs... that requires a little more thought.

Flash back to the days of ancient Rome and ancient Greece. These were, like virtually every subsistence-level society, slave labor societies. Aristotle and Plato could afford to think high-brow thoughts because millions of slaves toiled and died under the hot sun to feed these two lazy lounge lizards and thousands more like them.

The Greeks and Romans both despised anyone who worked with their hands. Manual labor was fit only for slaves and "artisans", who were generally also slaves. Greek and Roman politicians warned their sons to stay as far from manual labor as possible.

Sure, today we celebrate Archimedes as a tremendous engineer. But he thought of engineering the same way most people think of prostitution, and for exactly the same reason. He felt his time spent designing and building machinery was a prostitution of his talent. Free men were meant to think, not to do.

The Olympics and games like them were intended as ritual offerings to the gods, in which the players strove to exemplify a divine idea. Of the three classes of people who attended the games: merchants selling their wares, athletes, and the audience, only one was considered capable of actually fully participating in the ritual - that would be the spectators, of course. While the merchants sold their wares, while the athletes sweated and sometimes died in front of them, the spectators were able to meditate on the spectacle before them.

The gods themselves exemplified the Greco-Roman attitude. In the entire pantheon, only one god was crippled and ugly - Hephaestus/Vulcan. He was the smith, the maker of technology, the only one who got filthy dirty in his craft. His feet were on backwards and he had been cast from the heights as a child because of his extreme ugliness.

Indeed, out of all the pantheons of all the gods in all the cultures of the world, I am aware of only one culture which rejected the idea that manual labor was not fit work for divinity. That would be the Hebrew faith, the faith whose God actually worked with His own hands in the clay of the earth and breathed His own life into the clay His hands had formed.

Catholic faith followed Jewish example. The apostle Paul was proud to say that he took no money for preaching the Gospel, rather he worked with his hands as a maker of tents. The entire Christian monastic movement was built around "work and prayer". Medieval monasteries, hotbeds of chastity and youth, were unique in the world in that the monks did not just wander as beggars, rather they worked with their own hands to tame the forests, swamps and desolate places of Europe, raising farms and towns where there had been desert.

Western Europe was uniquely Catholic and uniquely scientific, because Christianity revered work crafted with one's own hands. Instead of being a slave, the artisan was celebrated by society, in much the same way that those who pursue leisure activities (sports players, actors) are celebrated today.

Labor was hard, but suffering in one's work was reasonable because... well, because we are meant to imitate Christ and HE suffered in His work. He was a carpenter, He worked in wood as He had long before worked with His Father in clay. When we worked with our hands, we imitated God. We even point this out in our liturgy: "Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.... Fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink." Our manual labor has divine meaning.

And there, exactly is the nub of the problem. As Christianity is slowly leached out of society, society will necessarily return to its natural hatred of labor. We will return to the Greco-Roman slave society, where intellectual pursuits are celebrated above all else. We can return to this kind of society because we have machines to replace the slaves, machines to do the work of our hands.

Some of the simplest machines are the inclined plane, the screw, the wheel. Simple machines have made our lives easier, made it possible to build more complex machines to ease our lives. In the past, eighty to ninety percent of the people in any culture used to work on the farm. Today, less than 2% do. Now eighty to ninety percent live in a city and have other people, other machines do their work for them. If they do not spend their lives thinking, neither do they spend their lives working with their hands.

If work was made for man, if work is a way by which we image God, then can we be surprised that the loss of the sense of God goes hand-in-hand with a disgust for those who work with their hands? The pursuit of the Ivy League degree is all very well, and, as I've pointed out elsewhere, the life of the mind has greatly contributed to essentially obliterating physical poverty in the last two hundred years. Still, we should be very careful not to allow our children to denigrate those who work with their hands. Instead, we should make clear to them that such work is spiritually at least as great, and arguably greater, than any white collar job could be.

Or, to put it more succinctly, this country will not be headed back towards God until the plumber is as revered as the doctor. It will not be Christian again until its citizens are as willing to enthusiastically clear a plugged toilet as they are to read a fine book, as willing to change a dirty diaper as sample haute cuisine. We will only get our people back in the churches if they are first willing to get back in the septic tanks.

How many priests and bishops are willing to lead them there?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


Mitt Romney's sister says he won't touch legal abortion. 

What a shock. 

And stuff. 

After all, Mitt's own grandchildren were created through IVF, which is notorious for callously creating and deep-freezing children who aren't wanted. His whole family clearly doesn't give a tinker's dam. 

So why vote for Mitt?

Well, Mitt at least has to PRETEND to be pro-life. 
Obama doesn't. 

And Mitt picked a very pro-life running mate. 
So if Mitt gets elected, he's got a pro-life vice president who will constantly be whispering into his ear, even if he publicly toes a certain line. Pro-lifers have a seat at the table with Mitt, even if Romney himself doesn't give a rat's rump about the unborn.

Yeah, I don't like it either, but let's not kid ourselves.

Neither Republicans or Democrats really want to touch social issues, because the movers and shakers in both parties are really attached to making sure their "bit on the side" can get that abortion whenever it is necessary. 


 The 1983 Code of Canon Law says a 14-year old girl, a 16-year old boy, is old enough to marry. 

Marriage has three purposes: 

1) creation of children
2) union of the spouses
3) remedy for concupiscence.

So, the Church clearly considers a 14-year old or 16-year old of an age appropriate for engaging in sex.
We aren't supposed to do things which we don't know anything about, so a 14-year old is supposed to know about sex. 

“Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him,” Fr. Groeschel, now 79, said in the interview. “A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.” 
He added that he was “inclined to think” that priests who were first-time abusers should not be jailed because “their intention was not committing a crime.”
God forbid a Catholic priest notice the contents of canon law and publicly draw the logical conclusion:  individuals old enough to marry are also, therefore, old enough to seduce priests. 

The Catholic Faith is definitely not politically correct. 

And for those of you who like to say that the culture sexualizes youngsters, etc., can you explain all the saints and honored Christians of years past who got married at 12, 13, 14 or 15 and were having children before age 16? You know, people like  St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Eleanor of Castile or the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Were they sexualized by the culture?

Or were they sexualized by the hormones of their own healthy bodies?

Now to be clear, I'm not saying today's culture is healthy.
I'm just pointing out that we may be infantilizing our children as much as the culture is sexualizing them.

And tossing Fr. Groeschel out when he hasn't said anything wrong isn't necessarily a good move towards solving that problem.


This blogger has a different take. The point I want to highlight, though, is a throw-away line in the middle of that post:
"The problem of 'pop-star priests' who have a huge cult-like following in the US amongst conservatives keeps coming back to bite I think.  In this particular case, fortunately, the virtue of obedience seems to be intact, and the swift apologies and pulling of the article has short-circuited the debate to some degree. "
All of the Catholic pop-stars have the same problem. The Catholic Faith doesn't exist in order to act as a venue for stardom. 

But, as I've noted elsewhere, it has become the habit of Catholic pop-stars, both ordained and lay, to start non-profit corporations that hawk their wares instead of starting religious orders. This cannot be good for the Church.

If Father Groeschel were honestly that upset about having his name attached to his books, he could have written under a pseudonym and refused all publicity. Clearly this isn't what he chose to do. So he can cry me a river about the terrible burden of publicity, yada, but I really don't think I believe him on that point.

The scandal isn't in what he says about seducers of priests.
The scandal is in what he says about his not liking the limelight.

Typical EWTN. They fired the reporter who did the interview.
Of course, the editors who passed the interview on, the higher-ups who published it... yeah, they're safe as houses. Just shoot the messenger. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Saints Who Disobeyed Their Parents

Must children always obey their parents?

Saint Alexis did not. He refused a marriage his parents had arranged.

Saint Catherine of Siena did not. She likewise refused to marry despite her parents urging.

St. Francis of Assisi did not obey his parents. In fact, he refused his father's patrimony.

St. Rita of Cascia disobeyed her parents - "what may have seemed disobedience on the part of little Rita were in fact mild reproofs, prompted, no doubt, by God, against that vanity which alas too often is planted by indulgent parents in the hearts of their young children....From the Augustinian breviary we learn that Rita Mancini was twelve years of age when she made her choice".

St. Thomas Aquinas refused his parents' will for his life.

Joan of Arc disobeyed her parents, choosing instead to walk 40 miles to meet a local lord.

St. Clare of Assisi secretly left her home and parents when she was 18.

And, while technically not his parents, St. John of the Cross suffered similar travail:
"On the night of 2 December 1577, St. John of the Cross was taken prisoner by his superiors in the calced Carmelites, who had launched a counter-program against John and Teresa's reforms. John had refused an order to return to his original house." "He managed to escape nine months later, on 15 August 1578, through a small window in a room adjoining his cell. (He had managed to pry the cell door off its hinges earlier that day)." St. John of the Cross disobeyed his superior's order because it was unjust, therefore, immoral. For disobeying he was imprisoned, but then escaped since he knew the actions of his superior was not God's will for his life."

As I've noted before, until 1917, the canon law of the Catholic Church considered anyone above the age of 12 capable of marriage. The 1917 Code raised the minimum age for marriage in the church to 14 for girls and 16 for boys. This is still the law in the 1983 Code. Though any minister considering marrying someone under 18 is supposed to consult with parents or the bishop, once a the individual turns 18, that consultation is no longer necessary.  

Children have a duty to obey their parents.
Parents have a duty to recognize their children's maturity and consider it in their decisions.

CCC 2253 Parents should respect and encourage their children's vocations. They should remember and teach that the first calling of the Christian is to follow Jesus.

Much as they would like to be, parents are not dictators, nor are their children - especially their teen children - always bound to follow a parent's dictates. 

God gives us children so that we raise them in sanctity. He also gives us children so that we may become more holy. We have to submit to the will of God not only in our lives, but in our children's lives. The children may know a call that the parents do not fully see or fully comprehend. Subsidiarity is one of the bedrock principles of Catholic Faith.  Subsidiarity requires that, just as small children must learn to trust their parents, so parents must, to at least some extent, learn to trust their children.

Pray God that we can.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The GOP Cassandra

It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
What does Akin mean by "a legitimate rape"? Well, according to this news story, FBI and US DOJ studies over the course of years have demonstrated that about one in four rape allegations are fabricated. False. Made up. Created out of whole cloth. 

And we already know that rapists impregnate women at a lower rate than is normally expected. That is, we already know that Mr. Akin is correct.

Fact: An unfertilized human egg lasts 24 hours in the reproductive tract.
Fact: A woman can't get pregnant unless she ovulates.
Fact: Stress delays ovulation.
Fact: Rape is stressful.
Conclusion: Therefore, rape is likely to cause delayed ovulation and result in no pregnancy than a normal act of consensual intercourse.

These facts are individually uncontested
It's only when you put the facts together and draw the conclusion that the liberals begin frothing at the mouth.


Well, they are heavily invested in abortion.
As the internet has grown, the information surrounding how the abortion industry actually works is slowly revealing itself. No one likes that. It is bad for business. 

All the abortion crowd has left to defend abortion is rape, incest and fetal deformity.
If the truth were to get out - rape actually results in lower than expected pregnancy - one of their three remaining bullets would be lost. Worse, by using the phrase "legitimate rape", Akin actually  alluded to the fact that 25% of rape allegations are faked. One in four "raped" women are liars, actively trying to destroy some innocent man's life. Possibly, their "rape-pregnancy" is likewise a lie.

None of these facts can be borne. 

So, Akin has to be slimed even though the facts are virtually self-evident, even if the facts ALL favor Akin. 

Especially since the facts all favor Akin. 

And notice how the Republican hoi polloi have supported him.

Men in power, whether Democrat or Republican, want legal abortion.
So do women in power.

For as long as blood banks have been in business, we have known that nearly 30% of women have lied to their husbands about the paternity of "their" children.

Powerful men want to keep screwing women. Powerful women want to be screwed by powerful men. Neither group wants anyone else to know. Pregnancy and children are hard to keep secret. Well, they're hard to keep secret if the children are alive. If the pregnancy is aborted and the children are dead, there's no problem.

Have you ever noticed that one-in-three children are the result of cuckolding and one-in-three children are aborted? Funny how those statistics mesh so well.

As I said, Akin is completely correct, but no one can afford for that to get out.

Cassandra, call your office. 

This doctor says Akin is correct.
Dr. Hilgers also agrees with Akin.

Easily obtained DNA testing will certainly have an impact on the discussion.

For those who don't trust my analysis, read this.
Seems Karl Rove "joked" that Todd Akin should be murdered for having spoken the truth.
Powerful Republican men are identical to powerful Democrats - they both want one thing, and they want legal abortion so they can keep doing that one thing.