Thursday, March 31, 2005

There will be a blog-day of silence

Miserere Domine

Dona eis requiem.


Contact: Mark Adams, 202-289-2500

"Almost all of America mourns the passing of Terri Schiavo who this day
has gone to God. We say "almost all of America" because we know there
are some who seemed to eagerly await and even hasten her painful death.
Terri Schiavo never made her wishes clear, that she would want her feeding
tube removed in this type of situation, yet an out-of-control state judge and
an unfeeling husband decided that she should starve to death. This is a
dark day for all of America."

---Austin Ruse, President, Culture of Life Foundation.

"Among those of religious conviction Christians and Jews will correctly
see the death of Terry Schiavo as yet another instance of social

The minimum requirements of a good society, a society characterized by
good governance and fellow feeling, include primarily care for the weak
and vulnerable. Our society failed to protect Terri Schiavo. By allowing
her, indeed causing her to starve to death, we showed again that our
society privileges abstractions like the "right to die" over human
At some point, a society that increasingly opts for death over life may
find itself, in the coarse language applied to Terri Schiavo, in a
"permanent vegetative state."

---Dr. Joseph Capizzi, Fellow in Religion and Ethics, Culture of Life
Foundation, Associate Professor of Theology, Catholic University of


Might not be able to post today due to large number of tests, so I'll throw this out there.

How can we account for the incredible gap between the noble and the immoral? And while it is true that "most people" aren't faced with such extreme cases, all humankind face contradictions between their true beliefs and their everyday actions

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Unhappy at Harvard

The raw data used in the memo come from surveys of graduating seniors in 2002, but are the most recent comparison available and are still consulted by Harvard administrators. On a five-point scale, Harvard students' overall satisfaction comes out to 3.95, compared to an average of 4.16 for the other 30 COFHE schools. Although the difference appears small, Harvard officials say they take the ''satisfaction gap" very seriously.

Only four schools scored lower than Harvard, but the schools were not named. (COFHE data are supposed to be confidential.) The memo also notes that Harvard's ''satisfaction gap" has existed since at least 1994.

Not that Columbia's that great

And I quote:

To alleviate the overcrowded conditions in the stacks in the Columbia Libraries, selected materials are shelved off campus. Three shelving facilities currently are in use. These are ReCAP and the Annex.

First we need to learn to count. Then we can run a major library system.

Oh my

So, the defense won an appeal after the jurors consulted the Bible, after

Lawyers for Mr. Harlan also specifically urged the jurors to consider biblical wisdom, according to the Supreme Court's decision, with a request that they find mercy in their hearts "as God ultimately took mercy on Abraham."

You can just never please some people.

The deeper point, however, is thus. What are we in jury rooms, if we cannot be who we are? What's the difference between me reading the Bible beforehand and talking about it and bringing one with me? The majority seems to assume that there is some sort of core logical person that you can get to if you tell people to leave themselves at the door. At least that's what SCOTUS seems to indicate these days, themselves being the ideal logical people.

Dumbosity quote of teh day

The glamorous movie star Jada Pinkett Smith created a firestorm at Harvard by openly expressing her love for her husband, actor Will Smith. Her remarks — declaring that today's woman "can have it all — a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career" — offended gay students because of their "hetero-normative content."

The Biseuxal, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters Alliance demanded an apology because Smith "implied that standard sexual relationships are only between males and females."

The foundation sponsoring Ms. Smith's visit promptly apologized, and scheduled a series of campus wide meetings to avoid such offensive occasions in the future.

Standard sexual relatinships are only between males and females. Grow up. Drop your dumb newspaper, which sucks, and all your classes, which also suck, and try going to a school without crazy grade inflation. Argh. I hate Harvard.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Dell on Dell's support

Priceless. Can anyone find a spiritual connection here?

Mmmm stem cells

The fact that hair grows quickly and is continually replenished makes it an attractive source to harvest the amount of stem cells needed for treatments.

Now instead of killing babies to get these things we can shave people's heads. Nice. Modern science is always improving itself.


Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
She said to them, "They have taken my Lord,
and I don't know where they laid him."
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?"
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
"Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him."
Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni,"
which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, "Stop holding on to me,
for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.'"
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
"I have seen the Lord,"
and then reported what he had told her.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Eating Disorders and Meal Time

Nearly 18% of girls who ate one to two family meals each week showed signs of eating disorder behaviors. This number fell to 9% of girls who had family meals three to four times a week. Girls who ate five family meals weekly had an even lower risk of eating disorder behaviors. While boys also benefited from the family meals, the association between eating disorder tendencies and family meals was not as strong.

"Making family meals a priority, in spite of scheduling difficulties, emerged as the most consistent protective factor for disordered eating," the authors write in the November issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Researchers suggest that parents keep conversation light and positive at the dinner table, especially if their children have issues surrounding food.

Mount Wotilja???

Apparently they're going to name the tallest mountain in the Appenines after His Holiness. Who knew the Italian government liked the man so much?


Lesson of the day:


A chalice-like vessel used to contain the Blessed Sacrament. The word is of rather doubtful etymology, Some derive it from the Latin word cibus, "food", because it is used to contain the Heavenly Bread; while others trace it to the Greek kirorion, "cup", because of the original shape of this Eucharistic receptacle. The term was aslo applied in early Christian times to the Canopy that surmounted and crowned the altar (see article ALTAR CANOPY), but according to modern liturgical usage the word denotes exclusively the sacred vessel employed for the reservation of the Consecrated Species. At the present day two vessels are used to reserve the Blessed Sacrament: one, called a pyx, is a small round box and serves for carrying the Blessed Sacrament to the sick; the other, generally styled a ciborium, is used for distributing Holy Communion in churches and for reserving the consecrated particles in the tabernacle. In shape the ciborium resembles a chalice, but the cup or bowl is round rather than oblong, and provided with a conical cover surmounted by a cross or some other appropriate device. The bottom of the cup should be a little raised at the centre so that the last particles may be easily removed and the purification more conveniently performed. The material should be gold or silver (base metals are sometimes allowed), but the interior of the cup must be always lined with gold. The ciborium is not consecrated, but blessed by a bishop or some priest deputed by him, according to the form given in the Roman Ritual. While containing the Sacred Species it should be covered with small white veil of silk or cloth of gold, and may not be handled except by sacred ministers; when empty and purified it may be touched by all clerics (Cong. of Rites, Jan., 1907), and by lay persons if specially authorized. In Eastern Churches the paten is commonly used for the distribution of Communion, and the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in gold or silver boxes covered with silk and suspended from the altar-canopy in accordance with ancient custom.

During the first three centuries the Blessed Eucharist was not generally reserved in churches owing to the danger of profanation and the persecutions, but the faithful sometimes kept the Sacred Species in Silver boxes in their homes for the purpose of receiving it at the time of death (St. Jerome, De Afr. Pers., I; Tertullian, De Orat., c. xiv, etc.). In the fourth century there are evidences that it was reserved in churches, but only for the sick. In the fifth and sixth centuries reservation was more common, and the method adopted varied with time and place. The vessels which the Sacred Species was kept were called indiscriminately capsa, pyxis, cuppa, turris, columba, and ciborium, and were themselves preserved either in a chamber in the sacristy (secretarium), in a niche in the wall or pillar (ambry), under an altar, or in other places designated hy the words diaconium, pastophorium, vestiarium, etc. Subsequently it became the practice to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in dove-shaped receptacles (columb) or in little towers (turres), the former being suspended by chains from the ciborium or canopy of the altar, and the latter being usually placed in the Armarium. In the sixteenth century the columbæ and the towers began to disappear, and gave way to the tabernacle and the custom which is now universal throughout the Western Church. Ancient vessels of reservation may still be seen in the treasuries of continental cathedrals at Milan, Cologne, Rouen, and elsewhere. (See TABERNACLE; RESERVATION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.)

Times thinks offending your target audience will help build sales

Same old, same old. They also seem to have forgotten the definition of the word "truth" in this particular op-ed.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

-The Easter Proclamation of the Easter Vigil Liturgy

Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Hodie Sabbato Sancto Est

Descent into Hell

Friday, March 25, 2005

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world

Incidentally, welcome to the Triduum

Vatican, Mar. 24 ( - Pope John Paul II (bio - news) sent a message saying that he was joined "in heart and in spirit" as the Easter Triduum began at the Vatican.

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, presided at the Mass of the Lord's Supper in St. Peter's Basilica on the evening of Holy Thursday, March 24. As he began the ceremony, the Colombian cardinal read a message in which Pope John Paul sent his greetings "with great affection" to the faithful participating in what he called "the first act of the Easter Triduum, the culminating point of the liturgical year."

In his homily, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo spoke of the Eucharist, instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper, as "the respiration that brings oxygen to the whole Church and continually rejuvenates the community of believers." The power of the Eucharist, he said, reached "the poorest, most innocent and defenseless, the sick who are often considered a burden."

In an evident allusion to abortion and euthanasia-- and a comment that bore upon the plight of Terri Schiavo in the US-- the cardinal said that "man is not the arbiter of life, and cannot reject this precious gift." He paid homage to Pope John Paul as a "defender and tireless witness for the real quality of life, which we must proclaim and defend."

During the Holy Thursday ceremony, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo performed the traditional washing of the feet of 12 priests, in a gesture reminiscent of Christ's washing the feet of his apostles.

At the conclusion of the liturgical celebration, the Blessed Sacrament was removed from the tabernacle to an Altar of Repose, to remain there until Easter Sunday. After the Holy Thursday service, Mass will not be celebrated again until the Easter Vigil.

What's up with Protestants?

Celebrating Mary the mother of Jesus. Scandalous.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Oh, and another thing

I go this in the mailbox:

So, why are the Republicans playing Terri Schiavo this way?

From the moral standpoint, it makes no sense. If there was ever a case
where even the nutso right-to-lifers would respect the right to die, this is
it. Terri Schiavo is gone. Never coming back. No chance. It's not a
matter of a coma or minimal consciousness. Terri Schiavo is medically
incapable of consciousness at this point...most of her cerebral cortex is
gone. Not gone as in damaged. Gone as in not there anymore. Terri Schiavo
is dead. Her mind is gone, never to return. Her soul, if you believe in a
distinct soul, is almost certainly gone as well.

From the political standpoint...well, the poll numbers prove the point. The
Republicans are losing this one. Even their base is almost evenly split on
this. This is not a base-energizer, and it's not a
majority-expander...despite the beliefs expressed in the strategy memo that
was passed around to Senate Republicans. The numbers look bad for
Republicans on this one. 60% against the parents nationally, 67% see the
controversy as politically motivated manipulation, and the issue is almost
split 50/50 among evangelicals. This looks like a loser for the

So why? Is this another Republican miscalculation, or does Karl know
something we don't?

Ok. Here's two things that I know.

1) Murdering people is wrong, always, I don't care who's "right" it is to do it.

2) Check out this site from OO:OO's link

"The most alarming thing about this image, however, is that there certainly is cortex left. Granted, it is severely thinned, especially for Terri's age, but I would be nonplussed if you told me that this was a 75 year old female who was somewhat senile but fully functional, and I defy a radiologist anywhere to contest that.


See also his remarks on the presence of a shunt and what that tells us about bone injury caused by a blow to the head being the more likely cause than oxygen depravation.

I personally cannot understand why Michael Shiavo would spend so many years of his life fighting this in court when all he says he wants to do is "move on." Given that Terri's parents would take everything off his hands, this doesn't make sense unless he had a murder or rape attempt or something similarly criminal to cover up and therefore he needs to make sure she never talks to anyone again. That's just my personal take on the matter. Something's up when people want a woman dead this badly.

eliblues on Terri

A friend of mine from NYU fights it out in the comment box wars.

First Post

Second Post

Third Post, which I lent some help to

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Some Nice Meditative Art

That we could all use as we prepare for the Easter season.

Free to B

Plan B that is.

The nominee to become the next commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration indicated yesterday that the agency is close to approving a proposal to allow customers to buy the emergency contraceptive Plan B without a prescription.

Speaking at his Senate committee confirmation hearing, acting FDA Commissioner Lester M. Crawford did not formally announce a decision, but he left little doubt how the agency would ultimately rule.

FDA staff members and an advisory panel of outside experts have strongly endorsed the proposal to make emergency contraception more easily available -- in part as a way to reduce the number of abortions -- but the agency turned down the first application last year. Two months ago it did not meet its deadline for ruling on a revised application. Conservative members of Congress have lobbied President Bush to reject the proposal, submitted by Barr Laboratories, because of concerns that it could lead to greater promiscuity among teenagers.

A little scary

Apparently heresay is acceptable for the removal of someone's medical support . . .

[One of the court opinions that has called for an end to Schiavo's life] bases the decision to cease feeding Schiavo on comments that she reportedly made in passing at a funeral, and to her husband after watching a TV movie. Under Florida law, this may well be the correct decision . . . but if so, then I think Florida law ought to be changed [ellipsis in original]. I would be very, very upset if I went into a vegetative state, and decisions about the disposition of my life were made based on some random, undocumented comments I'd made to my spouse after watching a movie about comas.

I want to focus in on Douthat's use of the term “Florida law.” He seems to be saying, “under Florida law, this flies, but State Senator Douthat would seek to change that law, and then Florida would be better off.” K-Lo, McCarthy, Sean Hannity have all made similar mistakes.

To my friends on the right:

THIS HAPPENS EVERY YEAR HUNDREDS OF TIMES A YEAR IN EVERY STATE IN THE UNION! This is not a problem in Florida law alone. Nancy Cruzan (a citizen of Missouri) had her feeding tube removed because of comments she made to her friends during a T.V. movie, Marjorie Nightbert (who was also in Florida) wasn't even allowed to eat by mouth (she could still do that), because her brother said that the, er, “real” her (the intelligent her that existed, and that he knew so very well, before her brain-damaging accident) would want to starve rather than live on the way she was living. He was believed by the judge, and he did not pove it with anything better than hearsay (if he even had that).

My mother and I could have ordered the doctors at Mt. Sinai last year to take out my grandfather's feeding tube at any time we wanted. No one would have asked us, “Well, what did he talk to you about after watching movies on dying?” If there was no argument between family members in this particular famous case (as there is between the Schindlers and Michael Schiavo), you wouldn’t even have gotten the level of evidence that you have had in this sad case.

Weird hypo: If I had sued my mother to stop her from removing her father's feeding tube, all the evidence that New York State courts would have asked for would have been this highly dubious hearsay. They wouldn’t have expected more. So if there is a controversy, then we get up to the ridiculously low standard of evidence here that (rightly) scares Douthat. That is true here in New York, and that is true everywhere.

Douthat saying that Florida should change its law is a little like Douthat saying that in Florida 1st degree murder shouldn't require pre-meditation. Mr. Douthat: If Florida did do that it would stick out like the sorest of sore thumbs. You've got to understand that there is nowhere in this whole nation where you can go where hearsay won't be used to adjudicate a controversy over your if you were to become severely cognitively disabled and there was a controversy over letting you have a feeding tube or starving you to death. Nowhere.

Conservatives who do this, without knowing it, are insulting all the 100's of people who have been starved to death over the last 20 years in this nation by making it seam like Terri Schiavo is rare. Tom Delay (and I know his heart is in the right place) says things to the effect of “Congress won't let this poor woman die.”

Mr. Delay, Congress has let these kinda people die all the time, and it has done so repeatedly since you've been Whip and Majority Leader.

In trying to “save Terri”, I fear many Sean Hannity listeners, and Fox watchers, and many others, have been led to believe that the Republican Party and conservative movement came to the aid of an endangered woman, who's afflictions were just so shocking and so out of the ordinary, that they just had to do something.

No, what is really happening here is like a few decent, well-armed, but really ignorant, Germans coming up to the last car on a train going to a death camp in 1944, stopping the train by aiming their guns at the Nazi conductor, plucking one Jew out of that one last car, that happens to have only one person in it-while the rest have thousands, and saying: “My God! Our government was going to kill you! Just for being Jewish! I can't believe it! It's an outrage! Well, I say I will introduce a law in the Reichstag tomorrow, just about you, saying that this can't happen again to you and only you (because I don't see any other Jews in this car)! Conductor: Since I am sure the rest of this stuff in all these other cars is merely guns and ammo to help our German Army fight the Russians and keep Communism out of Eastern Europe, I will let you go on to that little Polish camp you were going to without shooting you! But you'd better be nice to this one Jewish man in the future, got that?! Good!”

It is shocking how naive the conservatives in this country are in fighting the culture of death. We need to be doing much more, much faster. To end the way Michael Ledeen does:

Faster, please.

Glad to see the UN is up to it's usual tricks

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Thursday wrapped up a two-day conference laying out the UN's strategy for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in preparation for a major progress review this September. Conference participants agreed that the MDGs need to be expanded to include a broad feminist agenda, including universal access to reproductive health care, which in some UN circles includes abortion.

France Donnay, chief of the Reproductive Health Branch of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said that "reproductive health and rights are at the core of life for every human being" and "include...the means to avoid unwanted pregnancies." She also said that "universal access to reproductive health, including family planning, is the starting point" for achieving the MDGs, and "sexual and reproductive health...should be included in universal health care" within countries.

Lynn Freedman, lead author of a key UN-commissioned report on reducing maternal mortality, recommended the addition of a new target under the maternal mortality goal, to achieve "universal access to reproductive health" by 2015.

Norway's Ambassador Johan Lovald said, "We support the proposal in the task force report on child mortality and maternal health to establish a specific target on access to sexual and reproductive health by 2015 through the universal health care system." Canada also welcomed the idea of including reproductive health within the MDGs.

Charlotte Bunch, Executive Director of the Center for Women's Global Leadership, also agreed that that the MDGs must include "sexual and reproductive rights," "which were so central to all the conferences in the 1990s but are missing from the MDGs." Specifically, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) must be incorporated into the MDGs because both provide "norms and strategies" that "forward women's rights." Both documents have been used by UN agencies and activist groups to promote abortion.

Bunch also emphasized that "the mechanisms for enforcement of these norms must be strengthened" through means such as the CEDAW committee. The CEDAW committee has continually pressured countries to liberalize their abortion laws.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Terry and Jewish Law

Long ago Jewish law made a distinction between withholding medication and special treatments from a patient as opposed to withholding food and water. Whereas there comes a time when we are no longer required to proactively employ "heroic" medicines and treatments to keep a non-functioning body operating, it is always necessary to continue feeding a patient.

. . .

Those who speak of upholding the law are not believable given that there is no free-standing existing law that requires in these situations starving patients to death. We all know that this decision rests on the will of a husband who has a girlfriend he wishes to marry and who is eagerly anticipating insurance money. If understanding constitutes 9/10 of the law, everyone understands that a cruel circumstance has given guardianship over the life of a woman to a man who wants her out of his life. But secularists are willing to abjure compassion and intellectual honesty so as not to allow a victory for Christian/religious beliefs. Thus their outrage.

The procedure of death-inducing starvation is, as Rep. Delay says, "barbaric," and what appears to be the use of the system by an unloving husband to finish-off his wife a travesty and an upending of justice. It is an outcome most Americans can not stomach.

Some Jewish/Catholic/Jewish Catholic thoughts

Message: 15
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 14:37:12 -0000
From: "Marcela"
Subject: The conference

I was asked often during the conference why I was there and why I
had traveled from so far (DC is far?) for a conference about Jewish
Catholics (or Hebrew Catholics... or... :) )

As usual, I rarely find the right words to say at the moment. I will
share with you a funny story which I have always taken as a powerful
lesson that has repeated itself throughout my life. It is part of
God's "Keep Marcela small and unimportant project". When I was a
postulant with the Franciscans of the Renewal (1991), we had a
celebration and Fr Benedict brought a guest, Fr Richard John
Neuhaus. We were all gathered around them, waiting for some
interesting conversation to develop. I was young in the faith and
desired greatly to connect with those with whom I shared a common
vision. So at some point Fr Neuhaus turned to me and asked, "How did
you come to New York?" All eyes turned to me and I answered "I rode
the bus." Everyone got a good laugh. Of course, he was asking for
the spiritual reason I had gone to New York. Anyway, that moment has
always stuck with me.

The main reason for this trip to NYC is God's own which He has yet
to fully reveal to me except that prayer is needed and I am suited
to that. This year I might have made my solemn vows in the
Carthusian Order or been a CFR of many years. But I may or may not
have ever become aware of this movement in the Church. So all that
has gone before must be a preparation for what happened this weekend
and what is yet to come.

These conferences are theological events. Not just neat speakers and
interesting topics. People are being brought together by the Holy
Spirit for an event of grace.

I really believe this. I can't help but believe it. I spoke with
other Gentile Catholics there as well who felt attracted to this for
some reason. I don't think its Jewphilia even though I joke about
being a groupie. I love the Church and I feel her yearning for her
eldest child, Israel.

I especially liked Mark's talk on St Joseph because I too think we
need St Joseph to have a complete view of God's plan.

Growing up my religious education revolved around those children
Bibles one finds in doctor's offices (I went to doctors offices
often for vaccinations and travel certificates), Lewis' Chronicles
of Narnia, Tolkien's Hobbit and LoTR, Leon Uris, and Chaim Potok. I
simply loved all those old Bible movies like The Ten Commandments
and Quo Vadis. I had been to St. Peter's at the age of six, seen his
chains and tomb, and knew from that point that the Catholic Church
was "the" Church and that it was the historical continuation of the
Old Covenant. I always loved history. I wonder if the reason people
don't seem to get it, is that there is very little sense of history.
I know most people I talk to know more about the history of Brittany
Spears than the history of Western Civilization. Without a
historical sense, the Jewish people lose their significance to the
faith (IMHO!). The rising interest in biblical study among lay
people has to stress the importance of the people still present.

Something I talked to Athol about: some of us Gentiles are also
without a community. My parents moved to the US when they were 18
and so I do not have a cultural community. I think many probably
feel the same way. I know part of my attraction to the Jews is their
being a people... maybe that is something they will bring to the
Church, a stress on being a people rather than a religion (among
many). It seems to me that we need to move from stressing ideas
about God and more on being the people of God's election and living
the theology.

Oh and I went to NY on a bus... again. :)

God bless you all.


Blessed are... who?

Protestantism and the rise of Marian devotion.

Apparently, the early leaders of the Protestant movement, i.e. Luther was into Our Blessed Mother. Who knew they'd get back to that whole idea?

Monday, March 21, 2005

John XXIII is on the ELCA liturgical calendar

Weird weird weird. I think he's got a case for sanctification, but I'm not sure the Lutherans should agree. Talk about ecumenism.

Thanks to Andrew for the linky.


I like his arguments, but I also don't like parlimentary tricks . . . after all a majority is a majority. But waiting does seem to be a better decision than rash action.

Some conservatives call filibusters of judicial nominations unconstitutional because they violate the separation of powers by preventing the president from doing his constitutional duty of staffing the judiciary. But the Senate has the constitutional role of completing the staffing process that the president initiates.

Some conservatives say the Constitution's framers "knew what supermajorities they wanted" — the Constitution requires various supermajorities, for ratifying treaties, impeachment convictions, etc.; therefore, other supermajority rules are unconstitutional. But it stands conservatism on its head to argue that what the Constitution does not mandate is not permitted. Besides, the Constitution says each house of Congress "may determine the rules of its proceedings."

Some conservatives say there is a "constitutional right" to have an up-or-down Senate vote on nominees. But in whom does this right inhere? The nominees? The president? This is a perverse contention coming from conservatives eager to confirm judges who will stop the promiscuous discovery by courts of spurious constitutional rights. And conservatives eager to confirm judges respectful of the Constitution's text should not read its stipulation that no nominee shall be confirmed without a favorable Senate vote as a requirement that the Senate vote.

What we do with our lives

An article in the Christian Science Monitor is onto something. We're too dang busy and we ought to do something about it.

Families are so overcome by activities both for kids and parents these days, they hardly get to sit down and enjoy each other's presence. Kids have meetings and schedules that would put an average CEO to shame. Most parents spend their free time shuttling their kids from one event to another.

That's if parents have any free time. I know firsthand that there is little separation between work and home anymore. Pagers, cell phones and other gadgets have allowed folks to keep on working into the evening and right through "vacations."

How do we fix it? I don't have answers, but I suspect a few readers may have some input . . . I'm looking for Z(ed) to find a relevant article.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A little gushy, but . . .

St. Anthony just helped me to find something. Just a recommendation to pray to the saints especially during this week. Too often we neglect our extended family, even though they never forget us.

Happy Palm Sunday.

Want to know something about mainframes?

Great site for an introduction, explains the strengths and weaknesses, or so I think. I've linked to an explanation of what makes 3270 terminanls so danged weird.

Most terminal environments are truly real time. Every time you make a key-press on a *NIX (or VAX or Windows) keyboard, it causes an interrupt in the computer. Although this is a burden on the CPU, it allows the receiving program to do all sorts of clever things immediately in response to the keypress. Perhaps an immediate spelling correction, perhaps a clever tabulation or screen reveal etc etc. The 3270 can do none of these things because only a very few key presses actually cause an interrupt at the CPU. Why? Because the 3270 was introduced at a time when even large mainframe computers were not particularly powerful by modern day standards and also because IBM (the company) thought in terms of minimal CPU use for maximum output, and functional separation of I/O workload through the use of the channel mechanism. The IBM channel (although IBM were not the first to deploy channels - that accolade goes to SDS) exists to relieve the main CPU of the burden of I/O. A limited intelligence "computer" in its own right, the channel executes a channel program passed to it by a Mainframe program and interrupts the Mainframe CPU when the channel program completes (it's a lot more complicated than this but in general terms, this is what happens).

The 3270, only interruptsthe CPU when an "action" key is pressed. The action keys are the Enter key, the Program Function (PF) keys (usually only 12 but sometimes 24), and the six Attention keys (PA1, PA2, PA3, Attention, Clear and System Request). The rest of the time keystrokes are simply recorded in the 3270's buffer. Incidentally, only Enter and the PFKeys actually transmit screen data, the Attention keys simply transmit an identifier to indicate which one was pressed.

Essentially, the operator fills up the buffer with keystrokes and then sends the whole lot for processing at once by hitting one of the action keys (usually Enter). Because of this, the Mainframe CPU is taking no load while the operator is entering data, allowing very high numbers of users per CPU MIP. In this way large data centres back in the '70's and '80's could (and did) sustain huge populations of 3270 users on relatively meagre compute power.

Just a reminder

Pray for Terri.

Mazel Tov

Artscroll just finished releasing their Talmud in English. Now I just have to wait for Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture to catch up and all will be well in the world. ACCS is a great resource to have around if you wanna have something to argue with your professor about in class, FYI.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Quote of the Day

1) They are killing Terri Schiavo.

2) "Meanwhile, hundreds of patients are rushing to Russian clinics and beauty salons that claim to offer embryonic stem cell therapy for a range of diseases as well as cosmetic therapy.

Dr. Roman Knyazev's "Cellulite," a clinic in central Moscow, advertises injections of stem cells from aborted fetuses into thighs, buttocks and stomach to help women get rid of cellulite and look younger."

read more.

3) The Church in England puts pressure on Parliament over right to life issues.

4) Brazil goes soft on abortion. Each time someone accepts the argument that just because a woman is raped, she gets to murder a baby, it is a testimony to the perennial idiocy of the human race.

Will kids who know abortion is wrong still do it?


I'm writing this series because of the mistaken belief that if you teach your children that abortion is very wrong, your children will therefore not have abortions, even if they agree with you that abortion is very wrong.

As we know from other areas of life, people commit sins all the time, even while knowing that what they are doing is wrong. So it shouldn't be surprising that this happens in the case of abortion. It does seem to surprise people, though (I know it surprised formerly pro-abortion me.)

This reflection will be about the impact on a child of a parent who has rage attacks, is easily triggered into anger, or frequently speaks about others in tones of contempt or scorn.

Interesting look at Romans 9

One of the most relevant covenant promises to Israel in this regard is a command, found in Deut. 18:15-18, for Israel to be on the lookout for and listen to a prophet that God will send them. The "Prophet" like unto Moses is to be understood as Jesus, a mediator of a new covenant for all men; the command given is to hearken unto this prophet. It therefore stands to reason that disobedience of this command, to hearken unto this prophet, is a cause for punishment. Thus if Jewish adherents to the Deuteronimic covenant fail to hearken unto Jesus, they are disobeying and breaking the covenant just as much as they would had they worshipped an idol, or murdered, or stolen. Thus the covenant with the Jews is eternal, and even now would still be in effect; but a Jew who did not listen to Jesus would be in violation of the covenant.

Vampires . . .

Going to get my blood sucked by the New York Blood Center. If you way more than 110 pounds and haven't had sex for money/with someone in Africa, you should go donate and save a life or two. You also get free apple juice and crackers out of it. I'll be back later if I survive.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Florida judge goes against Congress

I guess the Left will be all for states rights now. Apparently Judge Greer thinks that state courts overrule the Federal Congress.

Clearwater, Florida, Mar. 18 ( - A Florida judge on Friday reinstated his order that a feeding tube for disabled woman Terri Schiavo be removed less than an hour after that order was suspended . The decisions came after Congress subpoenaed Schiavo, her husband Michael Schiavo, her parents Bob & Mary Schindler, and two of her doctors. By 3:20 pm Terri's tube had been removed by doctors at the hospice where she now lives, and she was expected to starve to death within a week or two.

Although it was unlikely Terri would have been able to attend any congressional hearings, the subpoenas make it a federal offense to tamper with a person who is the recipient of such an order. As a congressional witness, Terri is the beneficiary of many legal protections that would include preventing the removal of her feeding tube. Whether legal action will be taken against those who removed her tube or ordered it done is unknown as this time.

"This inquiry should give hope to Terri, her parents and friends, and the millions of people throughout the world who are praying for her safety," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Government Reform committee chairman Tom Davis said in a joint statement when the subpoenas were announced. "This fight is not over."

Judge George Greer, who has been overseeing Terri's case, reinstated his order to remove Terri's feeding tube less than an hour after the order was lifted. She had been scheduled to have the tube removed at 1 pm on Friday on instruction from her husband. Greer said Congress had overstepped its bounds, that it is federal interference in a state matter, legislative overstepping of the separation of powers, and that the case has long been decided in his court.

The matter will likely be decided in the federal courts, and perhaps in the US Supreme Court. But until that time, Terri is without any nutrition and is slowly starving to death.

The congressional subpoenas followed failures in Washington and in Florida to pass laws to protect Terri from removal of the feeding tube. The Florida Senate had opposed a bill that would have prevented feeding tubes from being removed from people unless they had left clear instructions and left for an Easter recess without taking up the bill.

In the US Senate, opposition by some Democrats put a halt to efforts to pass the Incapacitated Persons Protection Act, which had earlier pass the House. Congressional Republican leaders vowed to continue to press for passage of the bill. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay also said he hoped Judge Greer would modify his court orders to allow the recipients of the subpoenas, including Terri, to attend Capitol Hill hearings on March 28, so the world could see that Terri is indeed alive.

"She's not barely alive, she's not being kept alive. She is alive," DeLay said.

Grr blogger

It's been so slow lately I'm a day late posting the St. Patrick's Day message. But, I'm still a day early for posting the St. Joseph's Day message, and right on time for St. Cyril's Day, so all is well.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

An inductive proof of the binomial theorum

Now dat's cool. I always wish I could have been a math geek.

OO on natural law

A scientist from the Netherlands has what I call an "Armin Meiwes moment of reckoning." I can't wait for the moment when those sexologists who keep saying we should all behave like the Bonobo monkeys get a hold of these quirks in the animal kingdom and claim they excuse whatever fetish the sodomites are pushing these days. Looks like the gay octopus just went from outre to blase.

A small addendum: By the title, I do not mean to imply that there is something wrong with natural law theory, merely the use of the concept of "natural" by most liberals who don't understand teleology but rather just cite any animal behavior as "natural" and therefore "permissible" when it comes to humans. The left usually does not argue natural = normative, because they don't care about natural law themselves, they only care about throwing up canards to conservative reasoning. (Sorry I could not resist the pun.) That is why one never sees progressive social theorists invoking the animal kingdom to defend the behavior of males all over the world who gather large harems of females and kill other males in the process, despite the fact that this behavior happens in many, many species. They have no interest in excusing such behavior, so they don't care to talk about it being natural.

Bruce Williams on finance

What worries me is the large amount of debt that is floating around the American landscape . . . I'm a bit of a finance nazi so I always keep the cash flow positive but I don't know if I'm going to be able to keep it up. The whole lending thing always worries me. Good thing I can't get a job in fixed income.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Rate your cardinal!

Thanks to CALI for the find.

Italian bishops getting a little political

I think it's a good thing they're starting to get involved . . . maybe the people will come back as well.

Rome, Mar. 16 ( - Italian Catholics have no choice but to abstain from a national referendum on assisted procreation, according to the secretary of the Italian bishops' conference.

Msgr. Giuseppe Betori said that Catholics who are planning to participate in the vote are taking an "immature" approach to the subject. "The only choice for a Catholic is to abstain," he said.

Speaking to the press after the release of a statement adopted by the Italian bishops at a meeting in Rome last week, Msgr. Betori explained that the bishops had unanimously endorsed the argument in favor of abstention, since there is no option available to voters that would be consistent with Church teachings. He said that he did not understand how a voter who plans to participate in the referendum could consider himself a good Catholic.

The bishops took their stance after receiving a report from a panel convened by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the president of the episcopal conference, to study the Italian voters' options. The nationwide referendum will give voters an opportunity to overturn the Italian laws restricting artificial forms of procreation. While Catholic leaders have pointed to severe flaws in the existing laws, which conflict with Church teachings on multiple points, the elimination of all restrictions on assisted fertilization would be disastrous, they have argued.

The referendum will ask voters whether they wish to eliminate restrictions on experimentation with human embryos, the creation of multiple embryos for in vitro fertilization, and the use of donors to furnish eggs and sperm for a childless couple. On these questions, Msgr. Betori observed, a Catholic's choice should be clear. Asked whether a Catholic voter could claim a "right of conscience" in supporting the referendum, he replied: "The conscience should be properly formed!"

The Italian bishops note that the referendum will fail if it does not receive the support of a simple majority of eligible voters. Thus abstention-- denying a quorom for the vote-- is a legitimate political option.

Apparently the Vatican and Israel are on good terms again

All over money, of course, but there seem to be religious interests as well, which is good.

The Israeli ambassador conceded that "relations between the Vatican and the state of Israel will never be like those between two normal states." He explained: "We are two unique models in the system of international relations." Ben Hur said that Israel has a keen interest in reviving interest among the world's Christians in making pilgrimages to the Holy Land. In February, the tourism ministers of Israel and the Palestinian Authority were scheduled to make an unusual joint appearance to encourage pilgrims. That appearance never took place, because a new Palestinian governing cabinet was formed, and did not include a tourism minister. But Oded Ben Hur says that Israel hopes to pursue the project nevertheless.

Returning to the immediate cause of Cardinal Tauran's visit to Jerusalem, the new Holocaust museum at Yad Vashem, the Israeli envoy said that the project "forms a link between the vicimts and the new state of Israel." The recognition of the Holocaust helped to change Catholic attitudes toward the Israeli state, Ben Hur observed, citing the work of the French Catholic theologian Jacques Maritain, who was active in the fight against anti-Jewish prejudice particularly after World War II.

The Israeli ambassador pointed to another landmark in relations between the Catholic Church and Judaism: the Vatican II statement Nostra Aetate (doc) , condemning anti-Semitism and rejecting the notion that the Jewish people were corporately responsible for Christ's death. Ben Hur said that Pope John Paul II (bio - news) has helped to solidify Catholic relations with Judaism, by visiting the Holy Land in 2000, and meeting with the Israeli president in an explicit gesture of recognition for the secular government.

Neverthless, Ben Hur continued, it is important to "establish true dialogue between Jews and Christians" to enrich mutual understanding. "The greatest problem is ignorance," he said; the task today is to overcome the "abyss" of ignorance created by generations of anti-Semitism.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Speaking of the Ides

Jimmy Akin got two guest bloggers . . . the world truly has come to an end.

Happy Ides of March!

Abortion and adolescents

As the well-read (a category into which all of our readers fall) know, when the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled against capital punishment for 16- and 17-year-olds, Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent attacked the American Psychological Association for filing an amicus brief

arguing that impulsiveness, susceptibility to peer pressure, and even physically underdeveloped brains made adolescents less culpable for their actions than legal adults. ''At ages 16 and 17,'' the brief emphatically stated, ''adolescents, as a group, are not yet mature in ways that affect their decision-making.''
Scalia compared this to an amicus brief that the APA filed in a 1990 case:

...which concerned whether teenagers had to get parental permission for an abortion. [In this case], an APA brief spoke of a ''revolution in rationality'' that occurs early in the teenage years. ''[B]y middle adolescence (age 14-15),'' that brief stated, ''young people develop abilities similar to adults in reasoning about moral dilemmas, [and] understanding social rules and laws.''
The Boston Globe interviewed a psychologist who defends the APA. This psychologist says that teenagers are as morally mature as adults in some ways--the ways that matter when they are asked to decide what to do when pregnant--but not in other ways--the ways that are relevant when they are in an emotionally wraught situation that might lead to their murdering someone:

For example, Steinberg cited a forthcoming study of his own in which 13- to 16-year-olds, college undergraduates, and adults (average age 37) played a videogame that simulated ordinary driving. The subjects were told to travel as many miles as possible while obeying traffic rules. When alone, members of all three groups made roughly the same decisions. But when some subjects were joined by two friends, the adolescents and undergraduates (but not the adults) started running reds, gunning it through yellows, and crashing more often. Abortion decisions, Steinberg asserts, are made in reflective circumstances, with a doctor's guidance, whereas the decision to commit a crime is usually a quick, emotionally driven one that often takes place under peer pressure.
I know that all of my readers who have had abortions are either snorting bitterly or laughing in a black-humorish way right now.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Edward Albee in the Barnyard

Sed Contra on The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?

Peter Kreeft, a philosopher and professor at Boston College has noted that love is the most likely thing in the universe to be counterfeited and it seems to me that all sorts of things abroad in the world today masquerade as love, claiming the title without the underlying notions of sacrifice and obligation.  Absent God and a proper understanding of love, it seems to me that we, like Martin and the family, are left groping for answers as we watch any number of things take their seemingly inevitable path from abomination to deviancy to mere fetish to alternative way of living to mainstream society.  How long will it be before the news that someone was discovered having sex with their dog causes merely a ripple in the conversation of some parties of a certain type and in a certain locale?

Finally, the commentary I have been looking for on this wonderfully provocative play. It's one of the best of the past 5 years, IMHO. Really takes Leviticus 18:23 and puts in a modern context, even if the idea may initally cause some snickering.

"The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad"

Or springtime in Death Valley, California.


When did you start posting?

A rare personal insight

I feel that given the contentious comments below (three comments in a thread, damn this blog is hot) I should give y'all some insight into my position on sin.

Fr. Jacek, the chaplain, likes to call my view on Catholic moral reasoning "interesting", like when I said having a discussion about Latin grammer during Lent would be a near occasion of sin for me. I tend to be a little on the strict side of things, to put it mildly. At the same time, however, having Fr. as my confessor has resulted in a lot of what were essentially chewing outs/advice sessions as he talked after I listed and explained my sins. Very JPII, be not afraid and whatnot. The quote that always sticks in my head is "the fundamental basis of reality is not sin, but love", an idea that I have been trying to implement but always runs into problems in practice for some reason.

I suppose it's partly because I lived so dissilute a youth (ah the bad old days of two years ago) and partly because it's so hard for me to keep straight at present time (no not that kind of straight I know who you are and what you're giggling over). Basically, then, there have been no changes. Awareness of what I'm doing and a desire to change, but progress is slow, slow, slow despite the help of friends.

I suppose all that really means is that I'm a candidate for membership in the Church.

I tend to tell people a little bit about my past because I want them to know that I'm not this sinless creature or whatever that I apparently appear to be at first. People tend to be kinda shocked. I'm not sure if it's a thing I should continue or whatnot, but your (the readers') input would be appreciated.

I figure since I'm posting about myself for once I should at least clear some random stuff out of the way. If you want to see what I do with my life, go here. If you want to see what I don't do with my life, you can go to Playboy's website (no I'm not providing a link). If you want to find out what I shouldn't be doing wiht my life and you're a priest, invite me to confession; if you're lay, take me out drinking.

Nonsensical enough for now I think. Performed for the benefit of Z(ed) who is curious about such matters.

Who needs that first amendment?

P.J. O'Roarke suggests:

JOHN KERRY EFFECTIVELY ENDED HIS political career on February 28, 2005, during a little-noticed event at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.

How'd he do that?

Addressing the audience of tame Democrats, Kerry explained his defeat. "There has been," he said, "a profound and negative change in the relationship of America's media with the American people. . . . If 77 percent of the people who voted for George Bush on Election Day believed weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq--as they did--and 77 percent of the people who voted for him believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11--as they did--then something has happened in the way in which we are talking to each other and who is arbitrating the truth in American politics. . . . When fear is dominating the discussion and when there are false choices presented and there is no arbitrator, we have a problem."

America is not doctrinaire. It's hard for an American politician to come up with an ideological position that is permanently unforgivable. Henry Wallace never quite managed, or George Wallace either. But Kerry's done it. American free speech needs to be submitted to arbitration because Americans aren't smart enough to have a First Amendment, and you can tell this is so, because Americans weren't smart enough to vote for John Kerry.

(NOTE FOR FOLKS OVERSEAS AND MOST GRADUATES OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM: The First Amendment protects freedom of the press and freedom of speech, among other things.)

"We learned," Kerry continued, "that the mainstream media, over the course of the last year, did a pretty good job of discerning. But there's a subculture and a sub-media that talks and keeps things going for entertainment purposes rather than for the flow of information. And that has a profound impact and undermines what we call the mainstream media of the country. And so the decision-making ability of the American electorate has been profoundly impacted as a consequence of that. The question is, what are we going to do about it?"


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Post of the Day

you know what i hate?


ACLU and religion

There was a time when "fear of G-d" meant piety, or at least conscience. Today, it more accurately describes the worldview of secular liberals who get itchy and twitchy at any reminder of our religious roots as a nation.

Thus, we are currently treated to the spectacle of the American Civil Liberties Union dragging the state of Texas into court for the offense of displaying the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol in Austin. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide in June whether a display of the Decalogue violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. This gives "G-d fearing" a whole new meaning.

"At the very seat of Texas government," thunders the ACLU brief, "between the Texas State Capitol and the Texas Supreme Court, is large monument quoting a famous passage of religious scripture taken, almost verbatim, from the King James Bible." Question: Is there any kind of scripture that is not religious?

The state of Texas argues that the monument isn't so important really. It stands at the back door of the capitol, not the front. It is smaller than several of the other 16 monuments dotting the campus of the capitol. And it contains many symbols found elsewhere in American public life — such as the pyramid with the eye at the top and an eagle with outstretched wings clutching the stars and stripes — both of which are also found on the dollar bill. Hard by the Ten Commandments monument are statues and plaques honoring or memorializing the Boy Scouts of America (under fire from the left, as well), Korean War Veterans, World War I veterans, Pearl Harbor, Texas children, the National Guard and pioneer women.

But no religious acknowledgment is too small to escape the attention of the zealous modern G-d-fearers. The petitioners complain that the monument "expresses an unequivocal religious message: There is a G-d, and G-d has proclaimed rules for behavior." We can't have that. Just you wait, the dollar bill — which proclaims in broad daylight "In G-d We Trust" is not safe.

The G-d-fearers are not engaged in a fool's errand. They have good reason to suppose that their protest may be well-received. Over the past several decades, the court's establishment clause jurisprudence has been, well, peculiar. The court has held that a crèche could be displayed at Christmastime only if it was accompanied by a requisite number of candy canes, Santas and other non-religious symbols. The court has also ruled that states may constitutionally provide maps (and, in a later decision, computers) for parochial schools, but not books.

The court has held that student-led prayers in a football huddle constitute an establishment of religion. Ditto an invocation offered by a rabbi at a public high school graduation. There, Justice Kennedy explained that asking non-believers to stand and "maintain a respectful silence" was unconstitutional. Respectful silence just isn't the spirit of the age.

The state of Texas urges the Court to adopt the reasonable person standard for evaluating the Ten Commandments monument. Would a reasonable person, seeing this granite slab, assume that Texas meant to enforce a ban on graven images or to force neighbors to refrain from covetousness? The brief did jocularly offer that "no one would reasonably think that the state has adopted a position, one way or the other, on whether the Dallas Cowboys should continue playing professional football on Sundays or whether the Texas Longhorns should continue playing college football on Saturdays (notwithstanding the seriousness, and even religious fervor, with which Texans approach their football ...)."

The real point is that we've lost our grip on any common-sense definition of establishment. The Founders did not want to favor one church over another at the federal level (when the Constitution was ratified, several states did have established churches). By forbidding one national church pre-eminence, freedom of worship would be more reliably protected. The notion that this country, founded firmly in the Judeo-Christian tradition, could not even mention G-d in public without fearing a subpoena is simply ludicrous.

If the Supreme Court hands down a ruling that the Texas monument violates the Constitution, it will do so in the literal shadow of a frieze on the Supreme Court's chamber depicting none other than Moses holding the tablets in his hands.


An especially Catholic topic at this time of year. IE all the Catholics get what I'm talking about, and everyone else is confused.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Thought of the day

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way
that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
(Matthew 7:13)

HP Lovecraft makes it big

This guy is one of the greatest authors of the 20th century if you want to lose the ability to sleep at night. I highly recommend picking up the book:

Romney isn't the devil

There was a time not so long ago when a sane person could say, "Children need a mom and a dad," and the townspeople would yawn, roll their eyes and wonder why some folks insist on sharing such prosaic insights.

This might still be true in some parts of the world, but not in Massachusetts, where the water apparently is tainted with more than old tea, and where stating the obvious — as Gov. Mitt Romney recently did — will get you labeled a hate-mongering radical wing nut.

Actually, it's worse than that. For his support of the traditional, two-parent, heterosexual family, Romney has been accused of being like President George W. Bush. Now them's fightin' words, for sure.

In a damning editorial, the Boston Globe criticized Romney for taking "a page from President Bush's illogic by insisting that every child 'has a right to a mother and a father,' implying that two women or two men could not possibly do the job."

Actually, Romney's statement implies nothing of the sort. Two men and two women can raise children, just as one woman or one man can raise children. But neither case provides an ideal environment, which is Romney's point as well as the opinion of a majority of Americans.

Romney, who made his remarks during visits to Utah and South Carolina, doesn't get a free pass. Some of his remarks were, shall we say, not well considered. In one instance, the governor said that same-sex marriage is "a blow to the family." In another, he noted that some same-sex couples are "actually having children born to them."

As excerpted, that last statement sounds as though Romney were discussing some alien species that somehow managed to replicate human progeny. But within the larger context of the same-sex marriage debate, his meaning might be understood as something else. Not that gays have no right to families of their own, but that in principle, children's interests are best served by having both a mother and a father.

Most Americans agree with that statement — which is imminently reasonable and which surely is just as true for gay children as for straights. How many gays or lesbians, after all, would prefer to have had no mother, or no father, as the case may be?

Feminism in Australia

CALI has the scoooooooop.

As a man, portraying God as male doesn't seem to be doing anything for the status of men in the Church. Most of us feel like it's an alien world - it's a bit like when your a kid and your sister has a birthday party and your the only boy there and you have nobody to talk to who thinks the way you do and they make you play silly games only this isn't your sisters party this is the Church and it's supposed to be for everyone.

Christianity doesn't portray God as male, God reveals himself to us using words like "Father" and Christians listen to HIM. Instead of joining Dr Carol Christ in her stupid Ariadne Institute for the study of Myth and Ritual. Let's learn about God by selecting the godesses from the past that we like: "At first the ancient images of the Goddess did not interest me. Athena was warlike and stated that she always sided with men. Aphrodite was a sex object, and so on." eventually you found a Goddess you did like did you? One a lot like yourself was it?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Bertie the Gerbil on Economics

Just keepin' it real with the cartoon rodent theme here. Serriously though, how can you not love a rodent who has consumed the complete works of GKC?

From WSJ opinion: The World at His Fetus

The Washington Post reports on a scene from an antiabortion protest in the nation's capital last year:
"It was the furtive movements of a couple of demonstrators that caught the attention of police officers last spring outside the Planned Parenthood clinic on 16th Street NW. And then the officers saw it, in a glass jar passed from one protester to the other:
A human fetus.
Holding it in his pocket, according to police testimony, was Jeff White, an antiabortion activist. When officers asked what he had, White pulled out the jar and confirmed that it contained a fetus. Set in a clear liquid, the tiny limbs were plainly visible.
It took a while for the officers to determine what law was at issue with the alleged display of what turned out to be a 15- to 17-week-old female fetus. After phone calls to commanders and prosecutors, they arrested White and charged him with keeping and exposing a dead body or body part. "
White is now on trial. Those antichoice fanatics are clever, aren't they? Assuming White is convicted and sent to prison, they will have sacrificed one of their own to establish a legal precedent that a fetus is a "dead body," which would make an unaborted fetus a "live body," when as we all know it is actually just a meaningless clump of cells. We hope some pro-choice group is busy establishing a legal defense fund to help White escape prison and uphold the principle that what he was displaying was nothing more than a piece of medical waste.

Still on tech run amok

IBM comes out with a screamer of a supercomputer. Think about what 72 trillion operations a second means . . . the number is beyond comprehension. I just hope we're able to use this stuff for good rather than for evil. That amount of computing power could do a lot of messed up stuff.

Microsoft goes bonkers

And buys Groove. So the guy who made Notes now works for Microsoft. So weird.

I hate this room

Some guy who's pretty clearly so high on drugs it defies human comprehension has been screaming in the hall on and off for a half hour. He then demonstrated to me that I forgot to lock my door and asked me if I was his bro, refusing to leave until I answered (I told him I was, just for the record).

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Thanks Mr. Schumer

I don't get it. Support abortion, and you're "representing all of your constituants". Apparently, hate your constituants, and you're still "representing all of your constituants".

A controversial amendment to federal bankruptcy legislation that would have punished pro-life protesters was defeated handily in the U.S. Senate today.

The measure, courtesy of Sen. Charles Schumer, marked the second time in the past two sessions of Congress that the liberal Democrat failed in his efforts to use an important bankruptcy bill to make an example of those who oppose abortion.

The final vote was 53-46.

"The Senate showed wisdom today in rejecting the onerous Schumer amendment," said Focus on the Family Action Chairman Dr. James Dobson. "Had this measure been voted into law, it would have relegated Americans who value life to the status of second-class citizens. This type of attack is insulting and degrading - pro-life people deserve the same protections as everyone else."

Later in the day, senators voted 69-31 to stop further debate on the bill after 30 hours, paving the way for its passage on to the House later this week.

The Bush administration issued a statement in support of the bankruptcy reforms contained in the bill itself — but did not mention Schumer's attempts to amend it. The complications added by Schumer's amendment were singled out, though, by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who called them "incendiary" and poisonous.

Schumer called his proposed changes to S.256 "what America is all about." What those changes would have done is prohibited bankruptcy in the case of "violent abortion protestors"; the definition of violent, however, was missing and no other "violent" protestors are mentioned.

"It is mean-spirited to target individuals that he disagrees with," explained Carrie Gordon Earll, senior manager of special legislative projects for Focus on the Family. "Schumer's attempt to make bankruptcy impossible for pro-lifers bogged down a potentially helpful improvement to bankruptcy reform."

Similar legislation in 2002 was also defeated, though the vote was questionable to the very end. The 2002 vote went to the House of Representatives and was brought down 172-243.

"This is evidently Sen. Schumer's primary means of sabotaging the noble process of law-making," Family Research council President Tony Perkins said today. "His actions are a disgusting display of intolerance and prejudice towards those who cherish the right to life and hold opinions and a faith different from his own."


Father Nuno Serras Pereira responded to the media uproar with a letter published in a Lisbon newspaper in which he argued that his decision was based on the magisterial teaching of the Church and on canon law, which says that priests, in fidelity to the norms of the Church, are not allowed to give Holy Communion "to those Catholics who stubbornly and manifestly persist in defending, contributing to, or promoting the death of innocent human beings."

Media reports characterized the Franciscan priest's comments as "exaggerated, dark, and opportunistic," and "too difficult to hear," and reporters and commentators sought the opinions of well-known dissenting priests such as Father Anselmo Borges, who dismissed Father Pereira's comments saying, "Taking the pill in order to exercise responsible motherhood is not the same as euthanasia." He added, "If contraception is a grave sin, then at this point 80 percent of women are in grave sin. It won't be long before everything will be forbidden!"

That's pretty much correct. Everthing will be forbidden. Well, everything is forbidden, but people aren't quite able to act right now for some reason . . . give it some time.


Well, if we're going to ban US companies producing things overseas, we better damn well ban foreign companies making things in the US. Banks? Toss 'em out of their buildings. Car firms? Shut down the plants. Now that's fair.

Those angry Romans


March 8, 2005



Dear Friend of Catholic Answers:

How many of these folks do you remember? How many have you never hear of?

1. Fr. Jacques Pohier, a French Dominican with heterodox views on the
Resurrection, lost his license to teach theology and left the Dominicans
in 1984.

2. Fr. Hans Kung lost his license to teach in 1979, partly because of his
erroneous teaching about papal infallibility.

3. Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx questioned the virginity of Mary and received
"notifications" from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF)
saying that his writings conflicted with Church teaching.

4. Fr. Charles Curran lost his license to teach in 1986. He was the most
prominent American opponent of "Humanae Vitae."

5. Fr. Leonardo Boff, a proponent of liberation theology who taught a
skewed Christology, was silenced twice, then left the Franciscans and the
priesthood in 1992.

6. Fr. Anthony Kosnik formerly taught at Detroit's seminary and was forced
to resign because his writings on sexuality conflicted with basic Catholic

7. Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, another proponent of liberation theology, had
his writings criticized by the CDF.

8. Fr. Karl Rahner was silenced by John XXIII and was rehabilitated by
Paul VI. In later years he became heterodox on contraception and priestly
ordination. He also was at odds with the CDF.

9. Fr. Matthew Fox taught pantheism and eventually was expelled from the
Dominicans. He joined the Episcopal Church in 1994.

10. Sr. Mary Agnes Mansour was the director of the Department of Social
Services in Michigan, where she oversaw funding of abortions. She was
forced to choose between that job and the religious life, and she chose
the former.

11. Srs. Elizabeth Morancy and Arlene Violet served in the Rhode Island
government. Told to choose between their jobs and their lives as members
of the Sisters of Mercy, they chose the jobs.

12. Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, of Seattle, was investigated by the
Vatican after numerous allegations of liturgical abuse. An auxiliary
bishop was appointed, and Hunthausen lost much of his authority.

13. Fr. Ernesto Cardenal was the minister of culture in Nicaragua's
Sandinista government. He was chastised by John Paul II when the Pope
visited that country in 1983. Cardenal refused to quit his government post
and lost his priestly faculties.

14. Fr. Robert Nugent and Sr. Jeannine Gramick, proponents of
homosexuality, were forced to leave New Ways Ministry in 1984. In 1999 the
Vatican levied additional sanctions on them.

15. Fr. John McNeill was investigated by the CDF in the 1970s for his
views on homosexuality. He was expelled from the Jesuit order in 1987.

16. Srs. Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey signed a 1984 "New York
Times" ad that backed abortion and refused a Vatican order to retract
their support for the ad.

17. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre ordained four bishops without papal consent
and thereby suffered automatic excommunication.

18. Fr. Tissa Belasuriya published heterodox writings on Christ's
divinity, Mary, and original sin. The CDF notified him of errors and
ordered him to sign a profession of faith. He refused and was
excommunicated in 1997. A year later he was reconciled to the Church.

19. Fr. Eugen Drewermann questioned the Virgin Birth and the reality of
the Resurrection. He was expelled from the priesthood.

20. Sr. Ivone Gebara publicly advocated legalized abortion. She was
silenced for two years.

21. Bishop Jacques Gaillot lost his position as bishop of Evreux, France,
in 1995 because of his promotion of contraception and homosexuality.


This list comes from the February 25 issue of the "National Catholic
Reporter." I have reduced the information about each person but have
included everyone on the list. The paper introduced the list this way:

"Following is a list of Catholic theologians and others disciplined by the
Vatican during the papacy of John Paul II. Though not an exhaustive list,
it is a substantial representation of the range of people subject to papal
discipline during the past 26 years." The list was compiled by an
assistant to the paper's editor.

I confess I had forgotten some of these names, and I am not sure now
whether I ever heard of the case involving Ivone Gebara. The list may not
be exhaustive, but I suspect other names would have been added if the
"National Catholic Reporter" could have come up with any. I think it is
fair to say that the list includes anyone of note who has been disciplined
while John Paul II has been pope.


On the list are 24 names. All but one (Lefebvre) were left-wing. Among
them there appears to be not a single case of improper investigation or

The people on this list vary in culpability and cupidity. Some of them
might be able to be defended with a straight face, at least by the
"National Catholic Reporter," but some were indubitably off the
wall--Matthew Fox, for example. I never could understand how even the most
liberal Catholic could say that guy was on the up and up.

But let's look at the big picture. What does this list tell us? The
"National Catholic Reporter" thinks it demonstrates the repressive style
of the current papacy. "Look at all these good people who were pounded
into the ground by the Vatican!" That is the kind of attitude a reader is
expected to leave with.

I found remarkable two things about the list: the reasonableness of the
discipline (these folks deserved what they got, and most of them deserved
to get a lot more) and the shortness of the list.

Here we have a "repressive" papacy that has been around for 26 years, and
the best the "National Catholic Reporter" could do was to come up with a
list of only 24 people who have been disciplined under this pope. That is
fewer than one per year!

If we were talking about 24 cases of discipline in a storefront
denomination, maybe there would be cause for concern, but the Catholic
Church boasts 1.1 billion members. This means that, on average over the
last quarter century, the Vatican has disciplined only one out of a
billion members per year.

That is about as close to zero as you can get. Is there any social,
commercial, or governmental organization that disciplines such a small
percentage of its people?

If the Church had the kind of inquisitorial bureaucracy that its critics
imagine it has, the Vatican would be disciplining 24 people each week, not
24 each 26 years. Even then, at 24 per week the total number disciplined
during this papacy would be less than 7,500--not a large number when one
thinks about the population and internal disarray of the Church.

However you look at it, 24 cases in 26 years is de minimis, even
laughable. It means that nearly every error-pushing writer and speaker has
gotten a free pass. It means that the Vatican has given the heterodox
plenty of leeway--and then it has given them some more. It means there has
been no persecution by Rome, no generalized heavy-handedness. If anything,
it means the Vatican has been lax.

If there is a scandal here, it is not that so many have been disciplined
but that so few have been.

Until next time,


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

JWR on Terrorism

It all seems reasonable to me. I'm just not sure what the outcome is of Abu Mazen doesn't live up to his end of the bargain. Armageddon is, after all, a mountain in Israel.

On the plus side, no one will complain that they're thinking about a draft.

Leave the man alone

The obsession with King Tut I will not soon understand, nor why the newspaper felt compelled to provide this bit of advice:

Advocates of the broken thigh theory noted that there was embalming material inside the thigh wound and no obvious evidence that the wound healed, suggesting the fracture took place only days before death.

But other members of the team said the fracture was the work of Carter's team when they removed the mummy from the coffin. "They argue that if such a fracture had been suffered in life, there would have been evidence for hemorrhage or hematoma present in the CT scan. They believe the embalming liquid was pushed into the fracture by Carter's team," the report said.

The team thinks it has found Tutankhamun's penis, which was present in the 1920s but had gone missing by the time of an examination in 1968. "Although they cannot be certain, the team believes that they have located (it) ... loose in the sand around the king's body," the report said.

Come on, let the dead rest in peace. Show some respect.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

It's that time again...

Foamy's Rant V is up. As the Dana Carvey's Church Lady would say, "How convenient." If you haven't seen Foamy the squirrel yell obscenities at the world, you are missing out, man.

Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps: How We're Different and What to Do About It

ver wonder why women can brush their teeth while walking and talking on various subjects while men generally find this very difficult to do? Why 99 percent of all patents are registered by men? Why stressed women talk? Why so many husbands hate shopping? According to Barbara and Allan Pease, science now confirms that "the way our brains are wired and the hormones pulsing through our bodies are the two factors that largely dictate, long before we are born, how we will think and behave. Our instincts are simply our genes determining how our bodies will behave in given sets of circumstances." That's right: socialization, politics, or upbringing aside, men and women have profound brain differences and are intrinsically inclined to act in distinct--and consequently frustrating--ways.

The premises behind Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps is that all too often, these differences get in the way of fulfilling relationships and that understanding our basic urges can lead to greater self-awareness and improved relations between the sexes. The Peases spent three years researching their book--traveling the globe, talking to experts, and studying the cutting-edge research of ethnologists, psychologists, biologists, and neuroscientists--yet their work does not read a bit like "hard science." In fact, the authors go to considerable lengths to point out that their book is intended to be funny, interesting, and easy to read; in short, this is a book whose primary purpose is to talk about "average men and women, that is, how most men and women behave most of the time, in most situations, and for most of the past."

Why Men Don't Listen, therefore, deals largely in generalizations, and this is bound to alienate some readers. "We don't beat around the bush with suppositions or politically correct clichés," the Peases claim. Those up for an irreverent and unapologetic take on why men and women just can't help themselves sometimes may just decide to read on. --Svenja Soldovieri

Email the Pope!

Vatican, Mar. 07 ( - Pope John Paul II (bio - news) received more than 20,000 email messages, offering prayers and support, during the first two days of March, the Vatican has reported.

An email address for the Holy Father-- was posted on the Vatican's web site last week. In two days, the Vatican received approximately 10,000 messages in English at that email address, along with over 6,000 in Spanish, 2,000 in Portuguese, 1,000 in Italian, and several hundred in both German and French. The email messages-- almost always brief messages assuring the Pontiff of prayers-- form only a part of volume of messages arriving at the Vatican. Letters arriving by mail and fax also number in the thousands.


I learned in class yesterday that I woulnd't believe in God if I had just been exposed to Enlightenment ideas earlier, and if I could just get some more education I'd probably be off of Him by the time I got a Ph.D. Such an inviting environment, the classroom is.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Please pray for Matt

IE the b/f of Jenni.

Euthenasia and the Cross

If an elderly is suffering, should we let her die? Should we pull the plug on her? The answer lies in how we view the human person. The human person is not made to live in solitude, but in communion with others. In the Christian worldview, God, Who is a communion of Persons, made man in His image. He is therefore made to exist with and for another. He is capable of loving and being loved. Love is the meaning of his life. If he does not love, if he cannot be loved, there is no point in living. Love is the very reason why he has freedom. His freedom is not just freedom from something, but a freedom to something. More specifically, his freedom consists in being sacrificed. Freedom is not an end, but a means. It is to give oneself, one's whole self to another to the point of making the other's interest and good his responsibility. That is what love is. Love is willing good for others, to share interests, joys, and sufferings with others, and to exist for the other. It is a union of two or more persons.

Some stuff about Dan Rather

Some people really don't like this guy. Anyway, here's one article from a site focused on his political bias, and another from the LA Times about his tenure at the network. I can't sort it out.

Raise Your Hand If You're A Woman in Science

The finding that emerges from the research, in experiment after experiment, is that bias is a problem not because it is deliberate, but because it is the outcome of assumptions of which we are not consciously aware. Take, for example, a study published last year by New York University professor Madeline Heilman and her colleagues. The researchers asked people to rate individual men and women who were described as holding the position of assistant vice president in an aircraft company. The evaluators' job was to rate how competent and likable the employees were. They were given background information about the person, the job and the company.

In half the cases, the employee was described as about to have a performance review (his or her competence was thus unknown); in the other half, the person was described as having been a stellar performer.

When the evaluators had received no information about how well the assistant VP was doing in the job, they rated the man as more competent than the woman, and rated them as equally likable. When the background information made clear that the person was extremely competent, evaluators rated the man and woman as equally competent. But both men and women rated the highly competent woman as much less likable than her male counterpart, and considerably more hostile.

Thus, in evaluating a woman in a male-dominated field, both male and female observers see her as less competent than a similarly described man unless there is clear information that she is a top performer. And in that case, they see her as less likable than a comparable man.

We also know that the differences within each sex are far larger than the average difference between the sexes. And we know that sex differences in math are smaller than cross-national differences. One study, comparing the United States, Taiwan and Japan, found that Japanese girls in grammar school scored almost twice as high on certain tests as American boys and almost always scored distinctly higher.

Maybe Asians are innately better at math. If so, following Summers's reasoning, Harvard should be preferentially hiring Asian women over American men. (We don't know what's behind the large cross-national differences -- although education is key -- and, as Americans, we're a little reluctant to think we're inferior.)

There is one cognitive ability that appears to be linked to sex differences in hormones. It's called mental rotation: the ability to look at a picture of a three-dimensional block figure and imagine it rotated in space. Males are much better than females at this task (although, with practice, someone of either sex can improve), and that result appears to be related to testosterone level. Girls who have experienced excess androgen in utero show higher mental rotation scores than normal girls. That's the kind of evidence we need to demonstrate a hormonal connection. We don't have that evidence for math or other cognitive differences. Does mental rotation ability matter? Maybe for a couple of scientific fields, but on balance, differences in math abilities seem better accounted for by differences in what we expect of women and how we treat them.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


More JA:

A reader writes:

Ok, so to combine a couple of questions you answered recently on your blog:

I've got a Catholic friend who is cohabitating in Germany. In Germany, you have to have a civil ceremony before you have a church ceremony. Usually (he tells me) this is done a few hours before the church ceremony, so it's no big deal. In his instance, they had a civil ceremony several months ahead. They do, however, still intend to have a Catholic wedding.

Assuming, fairly safely, that the German Catholic Church is going to go through with this although they are living together, is the marriage licit? Am I required to forego attending?

Assuming that they have been having conjugal relations in the interim between the civil and ecclesiastical weddings, they have been sinning.

If they repent and go to confession before their ecclesiastical wedding then they will not be in a state of sin at the time that occurs and the wedding will be licit (in conformity with the law).

If they do not repent and go to confession before their ecclesiastical wedding then they will (presumably) be in a state of sin at the time it occurs and the wedding will be illicit (not in conformity with the law) but it will be nevertheless valid (real).

I cannot recommend that folks attend weddings that are invalid as their witness would testify to something that is false (i.e., that this is a valid marriage). However, attendance at a wedding that is merely illicit (not celebrated fully in conformity with the law) is an entirely different matter.

If God honors the wedding such that he brings about a valid marriage as a result of it then, whatever other problems there may be with its celebration, it seems to me that the basic threshold has been crossed in terms of attendance. By showing up, your presence testifies to what God is doing (bringing about a real marriage), and so I can recommend that people show up in such situations (assuming they would otherwise attend).

The parties may be in a state of sin at the time of their wedding, but that's the way it is wit tons of people--and always has been. God still honors the wedding by "showing up" and bringing about the union of the couple ("What God has joined together . . . "), therefore it's okay for you to show up, too.

Funniest eBay auction ever

Thanks to Jimmy Akin.

A good read

Which is quite amazingly online. GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy is probably the first book I'll read after Lent is over. It's sort of a companion to Heretics, not the most diplomatically named of his books. But who needs diplomacy when you're right :-).

I wouldn't say he's the most learned of thinkers I've read, but he's the most right of thinkers I've read, which should have some value. In "The Everlasting Man", e.g., he reshaped my view of history into a much more spiritual form.

PS. I have given up buying books for Lent and it's like I gave up breathing. Nontraditional is def. the way to go for Lenten fasting.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The case for Judeo-Christian values: Hate evil

Do you hate evil?

Much of humanity doesn't. But if you embrace Judeo-Christian values, you must.

A core value of the Bible is hatred of evil. Indeed, it is the only thing the Bible instructs its followers to hate — so much so that love of G-d is equated with hatred of evil. "Those who love G-d — you must hate evil," the Psalms tell us.

The notion of hating evil was and remains revolutionary.

The vast majority of ancients didn't give thought to evil. Societies were cruel, and their gods were cruel.

Nor did higher religions place hating evil at the center of their worldviews. In Eastern philosophy and religion, the highest goal was the attainment of enlightenment (Nirvana) through effacing the ego, not through combating or hating evil. Evil and unjust suffering was regarded as part of life, and it was best to escape life, not morally transform it.

In much of the Arab and Muslim world, "face," "shame" and "honor" define moral norms, not standards of good and evil. That is the reason for "honor killings" — the murder of a daughter or sister who has brought "shame" to the family (through alleged sexual sin) — and the widespread view of these murders as heroic, not evil.

That is why Saddam Hussein, no matter how many innocent people he had murdered, tortured and raped, was a hero to much of the Arab world. As much evil as he committed, what most mattered was his strength, and therefore his honor.

As for the West, with notable exceptions, Christians did not tend to regard evil as the greatest sin. Unbelief and sexual sin were greater objects of most Christians' animosity. Over time, however, many Christians came to lead the battle against evil — from slavery to communism. And today, it is not coincidental that America, the country that most thinks in terms of good and evil, is the country that most affirms Judeo-Christian values.

Parlimentary Procedure

Yet another fascinating area of human endeavour that I have absolutely no experience with. What a tragedy :-(. There is plenty of interesting material about who can vote, when, why, and about what.


Doing a "job" today, by which people make "money". Will be back soon.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Constitutionalism, capital punishment, and SCOTUS

In striking down the death penalty for those under the age of 18, the U.S. Supreme Court continued its transformation from a court into a super legislature, if that process is not by now complete.

I say that as an opponent of the death penalty who believes it should be abolished entirely.

I oppose the death penalty because I believe that the modern judicial system is too imprecise, too fraught with potential error, to be entrusted with an irreversible penalty. I believe that making life without parole the maximum penalty is the more prudent, just course.

But that does not make the death penalty unconstitutional, in its entirety or as applied to 16 and 17 year olds (the court had previously declared the death penalty unconstitutional for those under the age of 16). It's a decision for legislatures to make, not judges.

In preempting legislatures on the basis of the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the 8th Amendment, the court did not look to what that encompassed at the time the Bill of Rights was adopted, nor to the ordinary meaning of the words as applied to today's world.

Instead, the court has determined that what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment is to be based upon "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society."

The haughty tenor of the court's formulation is revealing. Those who disagree with the court's judgment are, by inference, less decent, less evolved, less progressive and less mature than the justices.

And, if a member of a real legislature, irrelevant.

As recently as 1989, the court had upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty for 16 and 17 year olds. So, what changed?

Four states decided to limit the application of the death penalty to those 18 years old and older. According to the court, that means that there is now a national consensus that applying the death sentence to those under 18 constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

But 20 states still allow the death penalty to be considered for 16 and 17 year olds. That constitutes, not a consensus, but a country fairly narrowly divided on the issue.

What if those four states changed their minds and again applied the death penalty to those under 18? Would that mean that the death penalty for 16 and 17 year olds would suddenly become constitutional again?

But, of course, that cannot happen. The court would strike each of them down sequentially as unconstitutional.

Former Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev advanced an eponymous doctrine: The capitalist world was up for grabs. But once a country went communist, it could never go back.

The court has its own Brezhnev doctrine: Standards of decency can evolve until we like them. Then they are locked into place and contrary movement is unconstitutional.

What really has changed is the mind of Justice Anthony Kennedy. He joined in the 1989 decision upholding the constitutionality of the death penalty applying to 16 and 17 year olds. He wrote Tuesday's decision declaring it unconstitutional.

In addition to inventing a national consensus that clearly does not exist, the court based its decision on the fact that 16 and 17 year olds are more immature and irresponsible than adults, and thus less culpable for their behavior. Having had a couple of children recently pass through those ages, I'll stipulate to the description. But the sort of depraved murders for which the death penalty is possible are hardly juvenile antics.

As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor painstakingly points out in dissent, youthfulness is a mitigating factor juries must weigh in deciding whether to apply a death sentence. Just because, as a cohort, 16 and 17 year olds are less mature and responsible than adults doesn't mean that a particular juvenile hasn't exhibited culpability for a particular depraved murder sufficient to warrant the death penalty.

According to Kennedy's majority opinion, juries cannot be trusted to make such judgments because they might be overpowered by the "brutality or cold-blooded nature of any particular crime." Why the nature of the crime wouldn't likewise overpower the other decisions about aggravating and mitigating factors juries have to make in the death penalty math previous court decisions have imposed, Kennedy doesn't bother to explain. v It's really quite simple. A majority of the court believes that the death penalty should not apply to those under the age of 18. And they, acting as a super legislature, have made it so.

Unfortunately, people react to Supreme Court decisions based primarily on whether they like the result, not on the basis of the reasoning, its appropriateness or its implications.

So, predictably, death penalty opponents will cheer this decision; death penalty supporters will condemn it.

But, in reality, something more important than even the weighty issue of whether those under the age of 18 are subject to the death penalty is at stake.

If the Constitution has no enduring meaning, then it has no enduring protections for the liberties it is intended to secure.

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