Anne Wilson

 

 

This page is 

powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Saturday, August 31, 2002

 
Gotta love those laffy, daffy salafi: Seems like the Tunisian (with a Swedish passport) arrested Thursday in Stockholm was planning to fly the plane into an unspecified American embassy somewhere in Europe.

He supposedly had become a "devout Muslim" in the past few years, visiting a mosque in Stockholm that I hope is being subjected to a cold-water, high-colonic enema of an investigation.

So, Norm Mineta, how long do we have to put off specific profiling at our own airports, before it happens here?

Friday, August 30, 2002

 
On the blogwalk: Catholic blogger David Morrison has an interesting & thoughtful blog called Sed Contra. Some people are linkers; others are thinkers - David is the latter. Check him out.
 
The quintessential modern Catholic "worship song" (previously called a "hymn") comes from a Catholic friend who, besides working on his doctorate in English Lit, versificates in his spare time. Sounds kind of familiar, actually. Anglicans: caveat emptor...

"Here We Are, Lord"

I the Lord of self-esteem
Have an apostolic team.
Give them food you've stowed away
And we'll have a feast today;
That you'll provide.

Refrain: Here we are Lord,
You've never needed us more, Lord,
Good thing we're here.

Eucharist of honey wheat
With blessed crumbs that taste so sweet
Know that I'm among you now,
But don't dare ask Father how;
You'll be turned away.

Here we are Lord,
You've never needed us more, Lord,
Good thing we're here.

Thank goodness you taught us how to share
How to show the world we care.
With us this world's bound to grow
Because of all the things we know
About what it needs.

Here we are Lord,
You've never needed us more, Lord,
Good thing we're here.

We have walls of plaster blank,
Banners hang from every flank,
Justicing with every breath,
We've removed even death
From Liturgy

Here we are Lord,
You've never needed us more, Lord,
Good thing we're here.

 
Nostalgic for the Worker's Paradise of the USSR? Now you can indulge your last-century longings at Sixty Centigrams, featuring Tovarisch Stephen Cook and contributing Tovarisch Boleslaus Sabakovic. Here's Boleslaus's biography:
Sabakovic Boleslaus biography:

Boleslaus Sabakovic in socialist workers paradise Eastern Europe grew up. Was not fun, as razor blades and toilet paper never available were, TV one channel only had, newspapers full of nonsense were, and modem of two flags on sticks waved in air consisted of. And beer or fudgesickles could not for love or money get.

Was by KGB recruited as sleeper agent in late 1970s. He was into United States sneaked with mission secret of cheap beer and fudgesickles for Party to discover.

However, decided liked it here he did as found he that large quantities of toilet paper and razor blades could easily purchased could be, that computer with built in modem had could be at reasonable cost. And that secret source of all fudgesickles and beer in America is, 7-11, just down street was. Back he turned on Party and American citizen decided he to become.

Now Boleslaus often to Eastern Europe travels to but always home comes to comfortable condo suburbs in, having cuisinart bought, where can cable TV watch while fudgesickles eating and cheap beer drinking.

Bog Bless America, tovarisch. No shit.
Makes me miss good old days playing "Duck and Cover" with Boris and Moose and Squirrel...
 
A true film connosieur writes:
You mention the Saudi offer to give the horse War Emblem to the 9/11 victims. While we may indeed be dealing with a cultural difference between us and the Saudis, if I were the survivor family in question, I'd be inclined to return the horse to the Saudis in the traditional Italian-American manner recounted in The Godfather. But that's just me.

 
Rod Dreher is *not* amused by The Real Beverly Hillbillies. He casts a similar hypothetical reality show in "blackface," and the depth of the offensiveness becomes blatantly obvious.
 
The Swedes caught one! A Tunisian (i.e. Northern African) who is a Swedish citizen was arrested for planning to hijack a flight from Sweden to Britain. He allegedly attempted to smuggle a loaded pistol onto the plane in his carry-on luggage.

Also on the flight was a group of almost two dozen Muslims going to a conference in Birmingham, Great Britain. The Islamic conference was sponsored by an organization called Salafi Publications. It's worthy to note that "salafiyyah" is the term that wahhabis prefer to use to describe themselves.

One crucial element of the "salafi" philosophy is that "moderate" Muslim states with secular law (like Turkey or Malaysia) are enemies of "the True Islam" and should thus be targeted for permanent jihad, to be replaced by states under strict Islamic law.

Meanwhile, Asia Times fills us in on the North Africa - Al-Qaeda connection.
 
It's not always statutory rape, a reader points out:
There is one nuance that you are not catching in your comments on prescribing contraceptives to underage girls. It is statutory rape (always illegal) depending on the age of the boy/man. It's actually statutory rape in most states now for an adult who is more than three years older than any indivdiual under the age of consent, which is generally somewhere between the ages of 16-18.

This isn't to say that I disagree with the general direction of your comments, but if the boyfriend is similarly immature (or just a little bit older) sex between the two probably doesn't amount to statutory rape.
True, but in many cases it still constitutes child sexual abuse. In any case, it's not up to the clinic staff to decide these things. They are supposed to be mandated *reporters,* not investigators. Their job is to report, and then let law enforcement investigate the circumstances, and let the local prosecutors decide if charges should be filed, if any.
Another objection to prescribing contraceptives to underage girls is that, especially for the 12-15 set there's virtually no research on whether it's a good idea physiologically, or whether they are as effective. Perhaps that gap has been filled in since I was in high school.
I don't think it's changed. The point raised is an excellent one. The studies of contraceptive effectiveness are done on women usually between the ages of 18 and 35. Not only are young teenagers physiologically different from young women 18-20, the older women in the study groups are less fertile, and so they make the contraceptives under study look more effective than they would be in an entirely young, highly fertile population. Of course, contraceptive studies are not going to be done on 12-18 year olds (God forbid), but clearly a study group with a large proportion of far less fertile women in their late 20s to 35 will be in reality highly skewed.

There are some subsidiary "effectiveness" issues too. One problem that comes up when young teenagers get the pill on the sly is that when they get sick and go to the family doctor, they sometimes don't tell him what they're on. He prescribes antibiotics, and then boom - they're pregnant - because some antibiotics mitigate the pill's effects. Or they may get sick from side effects and go untreated.
And the 90+% positive response ("I would definitely keep having sex even without contraception") makes you wonder how the question was asked or what compulsion these particular girls are laboring under. Would it have occurred to Planned Parenthood to have counseled them otherwise? What idiocy.
I don't have a link at my fingertips, but I wonder how many young girls 12-15 are put on the pill to conceal incest or sexual abuse by older men.

Of course this same discussion goes for girls 12-15 getting abortions in Planned Parenthood and other clinics. It seems to me that *every* abortion or birth in a girl that age should trigger an immediate investigation.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

 
Religion as science fiction / Science fiction as religion: Who can tell the difference? This Guardian piece explores the intriguing hypothesis that Osama Bin Laden styled Al-Qaeda after Isaac Azimov's "Foundation" trilogy. (Apparently "Al-Qaeda," or "Al-Qaida" as it's spelled in the article, means "foundation" or "base.")

Also explored is the possibility that the murderous Aum Shinrikyo sect in Japan also takes its inspiration from the Foundation series.
A small, unplanned nuclear reaction took place at the Tokaimura plant in 1999, the same year the Japanese government cracked down on the sect. There had been other, more minor incidents. All are generally attributed to human error, but Shimatsu believes they may be connected to a second, resurgent wing of Aum working in the nuclear industry on Asimovian lines. "Aum enjoys a huge following within Japan's nuclear establishment, which is riddled with believers from millennialist sects.

Personally, I think the major inspiration was Frank Herbert's Dune, which is a blatantly millenialist Islamist fantasy based on the return of the "Madhi," or Islamic messiah, at the "end of the age."

Here's a somewhat irrelevant note for Dune otaku: Kevin J. Anderson and Frank Herbert's son Brian Herbert have been continuing the Dune epic in a series of "prequels" to the events that begin in Dune (when future Mahdi Paul Atreides is a teenager.) I haven't found them to be as well-written as Herbert's originals, but as "fan fics" they're pretty satisfactory.

The most recent is Dune: The Butlerian Jihad. The Butlerian Jihad intrigues me especially, because that represented the signal event that changed the entire face of the civilization in Herbert's world.

Early in the Dune world's history, computers had virtual life or death power over human beings and human society. Computer scientist Jeanne Butler was pregnant and forced to abort due to a programming decision. Her rage over the forced abortion led to the Butlerian Jihad, whose tenet was "Thou shalt not make any machine in the image of a human mind."

Herbert first alluded to the Butlerian Jihad almost forty years ago, when abortion in the popular mind was still considered a horror. How the writers handle this in the present "pro-choice" atmosphere will be interesting to see.
 
Trojan Horse, or sincere contrition? The Saudis have offered Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem to the families suing the Saudi government over the death of their relatives in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

King Priam of Troy was said to have remarked about the magnificent wooden Trojan horse, "I fear the Greeks even when they bear gifts." The Trojan version, of course, was full of Greek soldiers ready to emerge under the cover of darkness and slaughter the apparently victorious Trojans unaware. Perhaps War Emblem is another Trojan Horse, although a symbolic one.

But maybe not. This is just weird enough an offer to actually reflect nomadic Bedouin desert values, and may be a sincere Saudi gesture. In her book Princess, ghost writer Jean Sasson wrote the story of an anonymous Saudi princess, who poured out her heart and related a lifetime of the abuse and sadistic hostility she suffered at the hands of her rigidly traditional branch of the Saudi royal family.

In one anecdote, the entire extended family went "camping" in the desert. (This consisted of air-conditioned tents with enormous air mattresses, catered meals, etc.) They encountered a Bedouin tribe and spent some time with them as their guests. The "first wife" of the tribal leader was a young, pretty woman, and she developed a fit of jealousy against the women of the visiting family, especially the narrator.

Part of the rule of Bedouin hospitality is that the person and honor of the guest is sacred. Insulting a guest has severe consequences. The young wife, flush in her position as her husband's favorite, decided to engage the older woman in a scratching, hair-pulling, name-calling catfight. Her satisfaction was short-lived, as her husband in a terrible fit of embarrassed pique beat her. He also offered his best camels to the visiting family as a concrete apology for his wife's behavior. They took the camels (to refuse them would have been just as egregious an insult) and later sold them.

I personally have no love for the Saudi culture and its abuses, which Jean Sasson so thoroughly documents. I also know, however, that our nation can only successfully enocunter our opponents if we have a thorough understanding of their culture, their ways, their gestures, and how they think. To paraphrase the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu, you have to know both your enemy *and* yourself. Knowing when the Saudis are pulling our chain, and knowing when they are sincere, is critical, and I hope and pray our government is capable of distinguishing between the two.
 
"Where's the anger?" asks NY Post columnist Eric Fettman. I understand his frustration, but I think he misses the point. The Japanese have a saying (probably borrowed from the Chinese) that "Revenge is a dish best served cold." While as a Christian I don't believe in revenge for its own sake, I think the phrase has a broader application.

It isn't emotionally possible to sustain white-hot anger for a substantial length of time. Our bodies simply can't do it. But morally justified self-defense and retaliation are best planned and executed with coolness and rationality, not rage.

I think Americans have moved from fury to resolve. The angry person can be manipulated. The person with resolve of cold steel is difficult to bend and almost impossible to break.

One poster on Lucianne.com made a comment about this article:
Reply #9: Mr. Fettmann needs to hie himself out of NYC and into the hinterland, out among the people who inhabit "red country"...but before he comes, he better brace himself. He might not be prepared for the anger he will witness.
If you can stomach any of the translations of the Arab media, they spit endless, furious rhetoric. Both the liberal and conservative American media, too, think that if a steady stream of rhetoric isn't flowing unimpeded, people no longer care. But that isn't the case here.

I agree with the Lucianne.com reader above: pundits who spend too much time on the coasts and not enough time out in the Red Zone are out of touch with the mood of the vast middle of this country, where the rage of 9/11 has metamorphosed into a cold, hard resolve. Writers living in their ivory towers in Manhattan or in their Victorian-cutesy flats in the Bay Area do not see this, because they live among people who live by words and theories, not actions.

The jihadists should be far more afraid of that cold resolve than of our rage.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

 
Even better than Frontier House will be the new up-and-coming reality show, Real Beverly Hillbillies. As the CNN article delicately puts it, a "rural, lower-middle-class family" (read: po' white trash) will for a year be given a house in Beverly Hills, the servants, the swimming pool, and weekly cash to blow.

It would be hysterically funny if they drove all the way to a Wal-Mart to shop, hung their wash out in the backyard, and stewed the local possums for Sunday dinner. This would serve the producers right, because the supposed "humor" in this situation is to watch the trailer park transplants get humiliated at the local Beverly Hills shops. I can't wait...
 
What Catholics can do about The Scandal: An Outsider's Perspective: Whenever things go badly, the typical human reaction is to form a committee or an organization. There are times for organizations, and there are times when organizations are simply a hindrance. In my opinion, this is the latter case.

Can the Roman Catholic hierarchy be "forced into accountability?" Does it really matter "whose vision" of the Catholic Church will prevail in the struggle between bishops, the laity, and various Catholic "reform" organizations?

It makes no difference who has what "vision" of the Church. You cannot get "accountability" from people who have no accountability to you. It's a dead horse and beating it won't revive it.

I wonder if VOTF, as a "reform" organization, is going to change anything. Further, organizations which come into being and attempt "reforms" are often plagued by the same problems as that which they are trying to fix. Sometimes groups fail to publish their financial reports or make them readily available to donors. Sometimes much of what they take in goes to "salaries" and "overhead" and "expenses."

Some Catholics have had the idea that they should give money "only to Catholic charities." I don't know if this was really a pre-Vatican II custom, or an old obligation, or what. In any case, I can't see where it applies now. At bottom, why is it necessary to even have "alternative Catholic charities" when there are so many worthy, well-established, and low-overhead charities already out there?

The orthodox Catholic is in a pickle because in many cases, the ordinary "machinery" of Catholic life, the parish, is closed to him, especially when it comes to schools and religious education. But the orthodox Catholic is in no more of a pickle than he was two or five years ago. If an ortho-Catholic has no children under 18, he has to find a parish where he can worship & not go nuts. If he has children under 18, he has to run the gauntlet of sacramental prep, or take a leap and do an end-run around it entirely. This hasn't changed since January 2002.

So what can the Catholic laity do? People have to control who has access to their children. That is something every individual parent can do, with or without anyone's permission.

People can control who has access to their money. People who give money to a Catholic parish have to understand that whether they like it or not, a percentage of that money goes to the diocese. If they can live with that, fine, if not, then they have to wrestle with their conscience on that point. If they can't live with it, maybe their kids don't go to the parish school. Except for the school issue, this really isn't any different than what Anglicans deal with, where they may have a good local parish but a diocese run by flakes.

People can cooperate with local law enforcement, and encourage others to do the same - which should be the fundamental duty of any citizen, anyway.

In short, the three biggest levers the Catholic laity have (whether orthodox or liberal) are their their kids, their money, and their sense of honor. No reform organization can give them these.

Finally, last but not least, people can encourage potential Catholic converts to join one of the Eastern Rites, rather than the Latin Rite, where the major corruption seems to lie. (I am *not* talking about people who are already Latin Catholics changing rites; that is an entirely different issue and very difficult to do. Instead, I am talking about the unbaptized, or Protestants, who are considering Catholicism for the first time.)

Many people don't even know about the existence of the Eastern rites, or that they can convert through Byzantium and still be in union with Rome. It has a very practical up-side, too: that way, their children are baptized, chrismated, and receive Holy Communion right after birth. This for the orthodox-leaning person bypasses the whole troublesome issue of religious education, sacramental preparation, overnight retreats, etc.

There's no reason a convert *has* to go Latin, and the "Eastern alternative" needs to be more widely published.
 
Dennis Praeger nails it in today's Jewish World Review column. The University of North Carolina's incoming freshmen were made to read a book on Islam and discuss it in "small groups" led by "facilitators" (read Communist-Chinese style indoctrination sessions.) Praeger sums it up: It was not chosen to help students understand 9-11; it was chosen to help students not to understand 9-11... Praeger makes the following analogy with Europe in the 1930s, during Hitler's ascension to power:
It would be as if after Hitler and Nazism rose to power and began subjugating countries and slaughtering Jews, some American university assigned readings from Goethe and required listening to Bach so that their students could better understand Nazi Germany.

To understand Nazi terror, you study the hate-filled texts of Nazism, not the beautiful novels of German writers or Bach's cello suites. To understand Islamic terror, you study the hate-filled texts that are published daily throughout the Arab world; you assign the hate-filled sermons that are preached every week in the Muslim mosques in the Middle East and Iran.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Presidential ranch, that is:
Bush telephoned Saudi Arabia's de facto leader, Crown Prince Abdullah, on Monday evening to emphasize that he wants strong ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Today, he hosted Saudi Ambassador Bandar bin Sultan and his family for lunch at the Bush ranch, an honor that Saudi officials viewed as a public relations coup.
Hopefully these acts represent the policy of "keep your friends close, but keep your enemies even closer."

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

 
What are you all doing on 9/11/02? Special commemorations in your area? Rolling Requiem? Church services? E-mail me and let me know; I'll post a list of some.
 
President Bush speaks up for US hostages held in Saudi Arabia! Yes! Finally! According to the Associated Press, when President Bush met today with the Saudi Ambassador:
Bush also urged the kingdom to resolve custody cases involving children who have been abducted from the United States to the kingdom.

"Not enough progress has been made, because people have not been allowed to come back to the United States who ought to be able to," spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters after the meeting with Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

According to State Department officials, Saudi courts almost always favor Saudi fathers in child custody cases involving non-Saudi mothers. It marked the first time Bush has raised the issue with a high-level Saudi official.
Our government needs to send the message loud and clear to the Saudis that we will not tolerate our women and girls being held as prisoners in their country simply for the crime of being female. Hopefully President Bush will keep the pressure on.


 
The Rolling Requiem: On September 11, 2002, this Seattle-based group is trying to organize a 24-hour series of concerts and/or sing-alongs at 8:46 AM in every time zone around the world. The piece sung/performed will be Mozart's Requiem. Visit their site to hook up with an event in your local area.

 
Sounds like a cover-up: This article talks about one how one Wisconsin school district's parents are working to get Planned Parenthood influence out of their public schools. But more interesting is this incidental tidbit:
A study conducted at Planned Parenthood clinics in Wisconsin surveyed 950 girls ages 12-17. The results found that 59 percent of those questioned would delay testing or treatment for AIDs or other sexually transmitted diseases if such a law were enacted, a report said.

The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that 99 percent of the girls surveyed said they would have unprotected sex or just use condoms if they couldn't get prescribed contraceptives.
Let's wrap our minds around this. These girls, a large portion of them who were between the ages of 12 and 15 (and presumably covered under Wisconsin's statutory rape laws) came into Planned Parenthood clinics and took sex surveys. Twelve years old! There are twelve year olds that sit in these clinics and get birth control, so that their rapists won't be "inconvenienced." What's wrong with this picture?

Last I looked, virtually every state had laws making nurses, counselors, clinic personnel, and just about anyone who routinely has professional contact with children *mandated reporters.* So why aren't the birth control clinic staffers *reporting?*

Confidentiality is no excuse. If a twelve-year old comes into an emergency room showing obvious signs of rape (and *all* sexual contact with twelve year old girls is rape, even in Arkansas), then believe me, the police will be called and "confidentiality" will fly right out the window. Why is a Planned Parenthood or "school-based" clinic any different?

Someone had to see these girls and talk to them. Presumably many of them were examined in the clinics and prescribed contraceptives, and I'll wager it wasn't to clear up their acne.

Notice that this study, too, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Didn't anyone at that vetted journal bother to ask *why* girls of statutory rape age were having sex, and with whom?

I would like to see every state attorney general immediately begin to investigate every public and private clinic that prescribes contraceptives to girls under the age of 15, or whatever the state's cutoff is for statutory rape. Obviously the clinic personnel are *not* reporting the rape and sexual abuse which they are seeing on a daily basis. Why not? Why is it acceptable (and justified) to make new laws making ministers and priests mandated reporters, but not clinic staff who medically examine and prescribe contraceptives to young teenage girls?
 
Pop prohibition begins: In an attempt to frustrate student obesity, the Los Angeles school district has decided to ban all soda sales at school. (Presumably students can bring their own.) Permissible beverages include juice and juice drinks that are at least 50% juice, milk, and "sports drinks with less than 42 grams of sugar per 20-ounce serving."

Diet soda is not mentioned.

If you're trying to lose weight, juices, juice drinks, and sports drinks are terrible things to guzzle. They're high in calories and have far too many grams of arbohydrates. The juice drinks are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, the "garbage food" of the American diet. All these drinks have high glycemic indexes (GI). In general, the higher the glycemic index, the faster the body responds to the sugar and the more insulin is produced when the sugar is ingested. If you believe Endocrinology 101, it's the high-glycemic carbohydrates that make most people fat.

For instance, orange juice has a glycemic index of 52 (compared to pure glucose=100), while Gatorade has a whopping glycemic index of 100 (same as glucose.) In other words, guzzling juice and sports drinks will make kids just as fat as if they were drinking sugared soda.

 
New thugs for old: The Saudis get a new head of the Religious Police. Hopefully this one won't roast any more school girls for daring to run out of a burning building without their black "shrouds."

Monday, August 26, 2002

 
My first love letter! True fan Matt Johnson writes:
You & anne coulter should to the patriotic thing and help save American lives & prevent baby bushy from staging the sequel to daddy's oil war. You could fly over with coulter on her broom stick, you two skanks could get naked & scare Saddam to death.

No need to thank me for the suggestion....
First off, Mr. J., putting me in any league with Ann Coulter is far more than I deserve, since she is the Great Mother Goddess of conservatism and I am not worthy to buff her nails. Second, it's virago, not "skank." Teenage girls who let their stomachs hang over their hiphuggers are "skanks." Viragos, on the other hand, are perfectly capable of scaring just about anyone with all their clothes on, but then again, there probably aren't very many genuine viragos hanging out over at the Democratic Underground, either, so it's not surprising that you're unfamiliar with the breed.

 
Rod Dreher writes: Got this as an e-mail. In response to Fr. McCloskey's Wall Street Journal Letter to the Editor:
What contemptible arrogance. How dare Fr. McCloskey condescend to me as a convert (read: second-rate Catholic), as if my respectful questioning of the Pope's handling of the sex-abuse scandal were a sign of naivete! He is trivializing a very serious matter with these smarmy remarks. What does recognizing the theological truth that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God have to do with the fact that the Pope can be faulted for the way he's governed the Church? It seems apparent to me that Fr. McCloskey takes the failure of the hierarchy, up to the Pope, to have reacted with a proper sense of outrage in the face of this evil as just another garden-variety sin, a sign of our fallen human nature. Could he possibly be more out of touch with the people in the pews, most particularly the victims and their families? This is the kind of failure of compassion and indeed common human decency that makes people lose their faith in the Catholic Church.

In point of fact, John Paul has not spoken out much at all about the crisis, and when he has done so, it's usually in the context of worrying about how the scandal affects other priests. I have good priest friends who are suffering greatly in this crisis, but I'd wager that every one of them believes that the victims of clerical sex abuse deserve the most attention. I appreciate what the Pope has had to say about the crisis, and wish he had said more, but aside from that, I wish he would *do something* about it.
I'll quote C.S. Lewis again: "A long face is not a moral disinfectant."

I have no idea what Fr. McCloskey means about "remedies ... already being put into effect." Is he talking about the Dallas norms? Those are likely to be rejected by Rome, and from what I understand, with good reason. If he's not talking about the Dallas norms, then what is he talking about?

Fr. McCloskey's invitation to "check in again in about another thousand years" is insulting to those faithful Catholics who are sick and tired of the Church hierarchy knowing precisely the extent of the problem, and continuing to do nothing but lie, evade, reward clerical wrongdoers, and punish victims. If we have another 17 years like the time since 1985, when the sex-abuse crisis in the US Catholic Church broke into the public's consciousness, there won't be a Church here. Christ promised the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church; he did not promise that the Church would survive in the United States. Clerical attitudes such as Fr. McCloskey's only make things worse for the Church.

Back in January, when I first began to write critically about the Boston scandal, Fr. McCloskey wrote to me to advise me to shut up about the scandal, to let "secular journalists" work on the matter. As if being silent in the face of child-rape and a cover-up by the Church hierarchy were the duty of good Catholics. I'm grateful to God that those days are over, and good Catholic men and women who love their Church and are faithful to her are no longer going to be silenced by the smug opinions of clericalists who appear more interested in the image of the Church than in the protection of children, and justice for victims of the clergy. There is too much at stake here. Fr. McCloskey recommends patience; as I've said elsewhere, if you seek a monument to the patience of the Catholic laity with the bishops, read the daily papers.
The "wait a thousand years" certainly isn't reassuring, especially when there are children that need to be protected next month, next week, or in the next 30 minutes.

Amy Welborn points out that this condescension to converts has got to stop. Preach it, sister.
 
Rod Dreher gets his widdle hand slapped: Rod Dreher wrote an opinion on the August 20 Wall Street Journal editorial page called "The Pope Has Let Us Down," which was reprinted in the WSJ's OpinionJournal. In today's Wall Street Journal's print-edition Letters to the Editor, Fr. C.J. McCloskey III writes:
Mr. Dreher, as a convert to the Catholic Church, does not seem to realize that the church in this world is made up of 100% fallible sinners from the pope on down. The church exists to forgive our sins and give us the supernatural help to become saints. The Holy Father (John Paul II) has repeatedly spoken out strongly against and about the proportion of the minuscule proportion of Catholic priests and bishops in this disgusting matter of sexual abuse in the US. The remedies are already being put into effect. I would hope that Mr. Dreher would be more patient in terms of the remedy. The church has a pretty good track record. Check in again in about another thousand years.
Fr. McCloskey signs himself as Director, Catholic Information Center of Washington, DC. However, a recent ABC News report mentions that he is also a prominent Opus Dei priest.

While I don't personally have a dog in the Opus Dei controversies (you can visit their official website, as well as a
critical one to get familiar with them), I find it interesting that Fr. McCloskey in his letter plays "the convert card."

I know exactly how the "convert card" is played, because I've experienced it. I was Episcopalian, converted to Catholicism and was Catholic for some years, and then returned to Canterbury. During my tenure across the Tiber, I spent a great deal of time with extremely "conservative" or ultra-montanist Catholics. One thing I heard frequently, whenever a Catholic did something the speaker disagreed with, was "Oh, So-and-so, she's a *convert*," with the sigh, rolling of the eyes, whatever, as if that explained it all. Here's an example from a letter to a "conservative" Catholic homeschooling on-line magazine; search on "converts" and scroll down. This Remnant article (again, search on "converts" and scroll down) discusses an internicene controversy between Catholic homeschool groups, with the "traditionalists" lined up against the "converts."

Rod Dreher raises a significant question in his essay which both Catholics and non-Catholics alike want to see answered. Why is it that malfeasant bishops have been allowed to remain in their positions as the sex scandal unfolds? Catholics are interested because naturally the soundness of the governance of the Catholic Church is a matter dear to their hearts. Non-Catholics have an interest because of the possibility of episcopal cover-ups of criminal behavior. Dismissing the question as the misguided neophytic ruminations of "a convert" is a diversion and no answer at all.
 
From the Slippery Statistics Folder: Homicide rates have been steadily dropping over the past decade, but it's probably not because we're more virtuous and trying to kill each other less. It's because, according to the August 25 New York Times, more victims are surviving due to the fast response time and technical skill of the emergency medical services and trauma centers.

Also, the age of victims is dropping (from an average age of 36 in Chicago in 1960 to about 27 in 1999.) It also may be that as more elderly people move to "Sun City"-type gated communities, there are simply less older victims out there, and the young survive these attacks more readily than would the old.
 
Angels of the Night: The Teenage Computer Guru has hooked me on an old TV series, Gargoyles. Originally telecast in 1994-1996, it was engendered by Disney but actually animated in Japanese and Korean studios. What makes it so intriguing is its anime qualities; highly unusual for American TV for that time (or now, for that matter.) It contains the long, rambling, multi-faceted plotting, big doses of bushido from old samurai movies, plenty of angst and doomed love, and some incredibly tear-jerking screen shots of the now-gone Twin Towers and the rest of Manhattan.

 
From the Everything You Know is Wrong Folder: First, sunlight was good for you. Then, sunlight was bad for you (skin cancer, wrinkles, etc.) Now it seems sunlight is good for you once again, according to the August 25 New York Times. You can chomp down all the Vitamin D caps in the world, or drink milk till you moo, but you need sunlight to actually activate the Vitamin D in your body. Moral: Life is ultimately fatal, so worry far less about the Food Police and Health Nannies.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

 
Taking a sabbatical: I have a lot of things going right now in my personal life, so I'm taking off for awhile. Hopefully things will settle down in the fall & I can get back to business here. The guys and gals on the bloglist are all good reads...

Sunday, August 11, 2002

 
From the Everything You Know is Wrong Dept: Apparently it's not necessary to drink half a gallon of water a day, as common health-and-beauty wisdom recommends. Another common water-drinking belief questioned by this Dartmouth medical prof is that "thirst means it's too late." It sells a lot of bottled water, though...

Saturday, August 10, 2002

 
The Good Terrorists Some years ago, Great Britain's national treasure Doris Lessing wrote a book called The Good Terrorist. It was about a young woman who linked up with a group of murderous anarchists and, like a zombie "only following orders," marched along with whatever mayhem the leaders suggested. The nasty switch of course was that while this young female cipher was aiding and abetting right and left, she did so not by dressing up as a warrior babe in camo, but by taking on the most "conventional" and "traditional" of domestic roles for the anarchist cell with whom she lived - as chief cook, bottle-washer, and laundress.

This story came to mind as I read the comments of Fr. Canice Connors, who believes that child abusing priests are the victims of "scapegoating" and a national Catholic bishops' policy that is "too harsh." But the best quote is this:
"It's a question of acknowledging what the whole community of abusers is like," said Father Connors, who believes some abusers can be rehabilitated. "Not all Muslims are alike. We differentiate those who are terrorists and those who are not. Well, not all abusers are alike either."
Excuse me, sir, but child sexual abuse *is* a form of terrorism. There is no such thing as benign child abuse. There is no such thing as a good terrorist, either - no matter how "traditional" he may look or sound.

Not only that, child sexual abusers within the Catholic hierarchy have a "community" now. Doesn't it make you want to just hum a few bars of Kumbayah and give them all a Big Group Hug?


 
The New York Times *thinks* it's discovered bloggers, but curiously, the article is mostly about liberal academics like Noam Chomsky who are publishing dead-tree pamphlets. What this has to do with blogging is beyond me.
 
The future of Taiwan: The Chinese Communists have ratcheted up their threats against Taiwan, as that nation's president made some strong statements last week about Taiwanese independence.
"Our country cannot be bullied, dwarfed or marginalized, and we are not a part or a province of another country," [President] Chen said. "We cannot become the second Hong Kong or Macau because we are an independent sovereign country."
I for one am not terribly optimistic that the US would back Taiwan, should the Chi-Coms actually decide to invade. We have been strong allies with Taiwan since the end of World War II, but there's a lot at stake here. A small but significant percentage of US engineers are from Communist China. Chinese factories make all our tennis shoes, and manufacture most of the cute Japanese gadgets we find so enthralling. Everyone wants a piece of the Communist Chinese customer base. It will be interesting to see exactly what our government *would* do if Taiwan were invaded.

 
Forcible re-integration? Harvard University think-tankers have been bewailing and bemoaning the "resegregation" of American public schools for some years now. In their most recent study, they put forth the "ultimate solution" - if both blacks and whites have separate housing patterns, and if municipal school systems are "segregated" as a result, the answer's simple.
The report recommends combining inner city and suburban school districts to bring children from different communities together.
In other words, simply eliminate boundaries between school districts.

I have a better idea. Why not just have one giant statewide school system? That way, if there are too few people of one race in one corner of the state, just ship students from other ethnic backgrounds to massive boarding schools. At least they'll be racially integrated. Better yet, how about one giant federal system? Let's ferry the Northwest Coast Indians over to Missouri, and mix them up with some Cajuns from New Orleans. Add a few Irish Bostonians for "diversity."
 
An excellent idea: Malaysia has decided that it will teach mathematics and science classes in its government-run schools in English. Maybe when we get Malaysian engineering graduate students here in the US, they'll at least be understandable when they teach college-freshman level courses.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

 
Religion of Peace Watch: Little Green Footballs has been outdoing itself. Check out Psycho Death Cult Summer Camp and The Peaceful Youth of Islam (the latter coming soon to a voucher-supported madrassah near you.)
 
"Save the whales" a basic instinct? Someone tell Ellen Goodman that the basic instinct of human beings is to *eat* them.
 
Too good to be true: Britney Spears wants to quit. The Teenage Computer Guru does her happy dance.
 
Saudis whine that "it's all the fault of the Jews," because the Rand Corporation blew the whistle on Our Best Buddies the Saudis.

If you ever want to get a slice-of-life taste of what it must have been like to live during the Third Reich and read Goebbel's anti-Semitic "two minute hates" on a regular basis, just read the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) website, which features translations of Islamist-world articles. When it comes to anti-Jewish screeds, there's virtually no difference.
 
West Nile virus will sweep the US, says New Scientist. How about bringing back the DDT? So what if a few eagle eggs have brittle shells, compared to five US fatalities so far.
 
Our Other Best Buddies: USAID grants have gone to renovate the Dalal Mughrabi Girl's School: a school named after a Palestinian terrorist:
Dalal Mughrabi was the woman who participated in a bus hijacking in 1978, in which 36 Israelis and an American nature photographer, Gail Ruban , were killed.
Your US State Department hard at work again. Maybe a few *strings* might be in order here, like not paying for any schools, community centers, clinics etc. named after terrorists.
 
Saudis to US: take a hike on Iraq. The Saudis have told the US that staging an invasion of Iraq from Saudi territory will not happen. Since they're our Best Buddies in the region, that means we probably won't refuse to sell them any more weapons, and won't remove our military troops. Too bad - maybe they'd change their mind about an Iraqi invasion if they had to stare down the barrels of Saddam Hussein's tanks.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

 
Eggheads wake up to old news: If you've been reading the blogosphere or the Wall Street Journal, this is old news to you, but finally some of the think-tank Einsteins have woken up, scratched their egg-shaped domes, and realized The Saudis Are Not Our Friends.

Laurent Murawiec of the Rand Corporation delivered a briefing to the Pentagon's advisory Defense Policy Board, which said:
"Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies..." A talking point attached to the last of 24 briefing slides went even further, describing Saudi Arabia as "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent" in the Middle East.
The report went on to suggest that
the United States should demand that Riyadh stop funding fundamentalist Islamic outlets around the world, stop all anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli statements in the country, and "prosecute or isolate those involved in the terror chain, including in the Saudi intelligence services."

If the Saudis refused to comply, the briefing continued, Saudi oil fields and overseas financial assets should be "targeted," although exactly how was not specified.
The DOD in an official statement still insists that the Saudis are our Good Buddies in the region, and Saudi spokesmen called it "lies" and said it "defies reality."

Monday, August 05, 2002

 
Reader GWB writes: Das Boot is the best submarine film made, in my opinion, with the better of the two versions being the original w/subtitles. Like an old silent film, the story and action don't really need the dialog presented; what's going on can be immediately understood throughout the film for the greater part.

The submarine was a set, being a studio-built model split lengthwise. The great shots of water, bread, clothing and sausages rushing down the aisleway were accomplished by simply tilting the set fore and aft and having the camera operator couching the camera like a football and running with it.

The quality of the film is very high, due to the quality of the story, and due to the fact that the film wasn't made with a billion dollar budget for special effects and hotshot Hollywood actors. They made do with what they had to work with, and if one works hard, it pays off. As an example, the tail end of the film shows an attack on the submarine pens by British Mosquito fighter/bombers accomplished with model airplanes, and it's just about seamless.

I work in the film business. I'm a grip. I will not reveal what a grip does.


I really like special effects generated by Claymation, stop-motion, guys in rubber suits, and all that. As GWB says, it *can* be done seamlessly when it's done well. Sometimes computer-generated graphic effects look "soulless" by comparison.

 
No demand for freedom in Arab world, and the Council on Foreign Relations is naive to think it can sell American values like soda companies sell popular soft-drinks, says JWR columnist Zev Chafets. Hardest of all to sell are American views on economic and social freedoms for women. Chafets accuses the CFR of "fighting the last war" in this regard.

Another example of "fighting the last war" has been shown by opponents of the international womens' rights (CEDAW) treaty, which can go for a vote of the full Senate anytime. Yes, I believe we should withdraw from the UN immediately, and turn the building into condominiums. Yes, the CEDAW treaty is offensive because of its pro-abortion focus.

However, in the time since CEDAW was first floated in 1994 and tabled, a lot has changed. The US has seen up close the consequences of practices such as forced early marriage, polygamy, keeping women locked up in purdah, female genital mutilation, head-to-toe coverings like burqas and abayahs, and worst of all, the imposition of these barbarities on US citizens trapped in Islamist countries and abandoned by our own State Department.

Instead, look at the focus of anti-CEDAW activists:
However, a broad range of pro-family groups, including Focus on the Family, the Family Research Center, Concerned Women for America and United Families International, insist there is no way to make the treaty acceptable.

ยจ One reason they cite is the radical nature of the CEDAW compliance committee, the group that interprets the document. This panel, considered by UN observers to be the most active and ideological UN committee, criticized Belarus for establishing Mother's Day. According to UN records, the committee expressed concern that, in Uzbekistan, "women's motherhood role was taking precedence over their professional and individual development."


Nit-picking about criticism of Belarus for instituting Mother's Day isn't the point, and both liberals and conservatives need to wake up and smell the hummus. If CEDAW is ratified by the US Senate, it will be for some distinct reasons, and *not* because of the "organizational skills" of the abortion advocates (which probably haven't significantly changed since September 11th.)

The first reason is that Americans and their senators both are horrified by what we've learned in the past year (since September 11) about the lives of women in Islamist countries, and see this treaty as a possible defense against "Islamist family values."

The second is that I have yet to see a "family-values-conservative" anti-CEDAW argument that addressed the Islamist issues. If there are any out there, let me know, because my personal impression is that many American conservatives have a blind spot in this regard. If it's not about Britney Spear's navel or tube tops on teenage girls, too many are uninterested. This is more than simply academic, because it may well be that (as Jamie Glazov argues here), the jihadi treatment of women is not just *correlated* with jihad and terrorism, it *causes* Islamic terrorism. As long as women are treated as they are in Islamic countries, you will have jihad. If this means directly attacking the Islamist "patriarchy," then so be it.
 
G.I. Joe banned at LAX: Apparently his two-inch long rifle is a "replica of a weapon" and thus verboten. Meanwhile, Middle-Eastern males with Saudi and other suspect nations' passports travel around our country freely.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

 
Enjoy the dog days... I'm taking a few days from the keyboard as real life intervenes.