Thursday, November 30, 2006

Robinson Crusoe?

Christian story. Don't listen to the abridgements of youth.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thoughts from Darius

My student Darius saw that I have a blog and suggested that I write an article about how fifth graders need to learn their multiplication tables. I thought this was an excellent idea. I tutor students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. I provide a lot of help in math and am constantly frustrated that my middle school students don't know their basic multiplication tables, unlike Darius. This makes it harder for them to do basic math like multiplying and dividing fractions and reducing them to simplest forms. It is shocking how inadequate most students are at simple multiplication. As a result I frequently drill students on multiplication and give them multiplication worksheets to do as extra work. It makes me grateful for all those painful car trips when my father used to quiz me over and over again on my times tables.

Darius would also like to comment that people should learn to drive at the age of 15. He also thinks that students should learn how to make websites at a younger age. Such are the musings of my esteemed sixth-grader.

Dvar-Torah on Esav and Yaakov and Essence Vs. Action

Some thoughts from my friend in Israel.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lions eating Christians, round 2

OTTAWA, November 24, 2006 ( - A motion debated at the November 21 session of the Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA) council meeting would prohibit any group opposed to abortion from attaining club status at the University. While aimed at a pro-life group of students seeking club status on campus, the proposed policy may ban Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish and Muslim clubs as well.

On November 21, Katy McIntyre Vice President of CUSA Student Services, proposed a "Motion to Amend Discrimination on Campus Policy" which would bar from club status all groups opposed to abortion. The motion stated:

1) CUSA and CUSA Inc. respect and affirm a woman's right to choose.
2) No CUSA resources, space, recognition or funding be allocated for anti-choice purposes.

In the brave new world, being against abortion is unjust discrimination and must be punished. Hey, just so long as you're overturning a few thousand years of values, you might as well try to hassle the Neanderthals opposing you, right?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Lions eating Christians, round 1

The lovely University of Edinburgh student union has banned a group opposed to homosexual activity on campus. In response:

Leading Anglican Bishops were joined by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth in warning university student unions that banning Christian groups from campuses was illegal, in a letter published Wednesday in The Times.

Kudos to the Church of(in) England on this one. Nothing I like more than pissing off students from Edinburgh in the name of Christian unity :-).

Still, the thought that this could happen is rather disturbing. I wouldn't even care if the groups got funding from the University or not, but the idea that certain groups of students shoulnd't be allowed to meet and discuss . . . I donno about that one. Sounds like bad news to me in a public university. I mean, even in a Catholic university, I would expect that anyone would be able to meet, even with restrictions on various anti-Catholic activities.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Least Used Prayer found

From a mailing:

"Prayer for a bearer of good news"

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Curse of Black Gold

A Nigerian meditation on the neglect of personal development that occurs in the presence of easy money and corrupt government.

Every able-bodied hand that lies idle is a loss on the nation. Every well-trained brain that is left to lie fallow is a major dent on the productive capacity of our country. In many countries, the rate of employment is a major concern of public authorities. People win or lose elections on the basis of how many of their countrymen are in productive employment.

Unfortunately, in Nigeria, this has not been the case. Government and governance has been practically reduced to merely manipulating oil wealth. It seems nobody really cares whether Nigerians have jobs or not. So we spend all our resources buying from all over the world, goods that other people have produced, while our factories are left to rot.

Friday, November 24, 2006

An odd signature

Joan L. Brewer BS Computer Systems Engineering/Artist/Humanist

How to put it . . . innovative?

I didn't get to blog yesterday

I think that's actually a good thing. So I will wish you a late happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Us v. Them

Or, the Orthodox-Catholic dialog group thingy on Yahoo considers the "Liberal v. Conservative" question, with some rather excellent points in the direction of not being a complete douche-bag.

Boston, as usual, is confused

Nov. 22 ( - Lay Catholic activists in Massachusetts have sharply criticized the Boston office of Catholic Charities for advertising in a local gay newspaper.

The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts said that a quarter-page ad in Bay Windows represented "either an appalling example of bad judgment or a disturbing sign of indifference to Church teaching, or both."

Not knowing anything about the situation, I'd suspect both, just because that's probably the case for the majority of Catholics.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Talmudic capitalism

Jewish law permits salesmanship. While salespeople must provide only accurate information and reveal any defects, they are allowed to make a one-side presentation which shows the customer the benefits of their product. The Talmud states that it is not unfair competition for a storekeeper to offer customers inducements to come specifically to his store, since competitors are welcome to do likewise. (1) By the same token, a storekeeper can point out the benefits of his own product, allowing competitors an equal opportunity to tout the benefits of their own wares.

Competition leads to mutual benefit. In other words, there is no inherent relationship between Judaism and Communism, and in fact the opposite is true. That's my take, anyway. Perhaps I should do a comparison between Talmudic economic ideals and those of Laborem Exercens.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The T Words

Truth v. Tolerance, that fameous Supreme Court case.

I count at least four such motives. Two are good at root but confused. The other two, I am sorry to say, are simply bad. Of course, confused or bad motives don’t prove that tolerationism is in error, but they do help explain why tolerationists so often argue irrationally. If we understand such motives, this irrationality won’t catch us by surprise.

Tolerationist! Now there's a new word.

A fine article on how to conduct yourself when engaged in discussions of truths, made all the better by making up a word. Truly fun reading.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Some progress in English translation

Vatican, Nov. 18 ( - The Vatican has ruled that the phrase pro multis should be rendered as "for many" in all new English-language translations of the Eucharistic Prayer, CWN has learned.

Although "for many" is the literal translation of the Latin phrase, the translations currently in use render the phrase as "for all." All new English-language translations will use "for many" when they appear.

Though I seem to recall that the Greek is more ambiguous. Though that isn't an excuse to deviate from the Latin.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Not that I'm becomming a Gary Wills fan

But his article on Christ and politics does bear reading and considering. It's a bit of a stretch to say that displaying the Ten Commandments is idolatry and/or taking the Lord's name in vain. But it's also true that asking "WWJD" is kind of like asking "What's the exact velocity and position of this particle". You don't know what He would do. You only know what he told you to do. So just stick to that, rather than playing God.

I don't think mail order Russian brides are my type

Well, I guess it's a nice offer.

Hello from Daria. Im a smart, sincere, kind, affectionate and loving girl, a
good listener and a very faithful partner. I was brought up in respect
for authentic family traditions and values. I am old-fashioned when it
comes to love and family. You might think Im too young for serious
relationship, but thats not true)))
Im looking for a kind, gentle, optimistic and self-confident man. My
destiny, my other half, my soul.
I have some questions for you if you want to get to know me closer:
1/ Are you interested in serious relations with Russian woman?
2/ Are you planning to visit Russia?
3/ Would you like to correspond or to talk by phone?
4/ Why are you interested in Russian lady?
5/ Have you ever been to Russia?
6/ What is important for you in relations and am I right for you?
I will be waiting for your reply to


sincerely yours, Daria

But I'm not really the internet dating type, Daria. Maybe next time. Nor do I want to go to Russia.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Coffee, on the other hand, is now good

Nutrition experts like Willett point out that, like tea, coffee is rich in antioxidants--substances in vegetables and fruits that deactivate disease-causing byproducts of the body's metabolism. "Coffee is by far the largest source of antioxidants in our diet," says Joe Vinson, a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. That's not just because we drink so much. In tests conducted at Vinson's lab, coffee topped the list of foods that are densest in antioxidants, surpassing blueberries, broccoli, and most other produce. Only chocolate, dried fruits, and dried beans ranked higher.

Wired brains. Much-maligned caffeine appears to be a protective substance, too. Beyond waking up sluggish minds, caffeine may serve as a mild antidepressant--or so researchers theorize. One Harvard study of 80,000 American women found that those who drank more than two or three cups of regular coffee daily cut their risk of suicide over 10 years by one third. And the stimulant has been shown in animal experiments to inhibit the brain-cell destruction that occurs in Parkinson's disease. A 30-year study in Hawaii of 8,000 Japanese-American men found that coffee consumers were about 48 percent to 84 percent less likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson's. Another study on the mainland yielded similar findings and traced the protective effect to caffeine in coffee, tea, and colas.

Just another reason to go to "Slave to the Grind" in Bronxville and fill up on the hazlenut.

Friedman is dead

Odd priorities?

If by "them" you mean minorities such as Jews, Chinese-Americans, Indian-Americans and other people of Asian descent, then the ongoing national obsession with diversity probably isn't good. Indeed, that's why Jian Li, a freshman at Yale, filed a civil rights complaint against Princeton University for rejecting him. Li had nigh-upon perfect test scores and grades, yet Princeton turned him down. He'll probably get nowhere with his complaint — he did get into Yale after all — but it shines a light on an uncomfortable reality.

I hate to say it, but I'm going to say this kid's gotta calm down. I know plenty of people with near perfect test scores who don't get into their first choice schools. It may be 'discrimination' in the legally protected sense of the word. On the other hand, perhaps it could be because the school is looking for something besides perfect test scores. Just a hypothesis.

A Princeton education, like a baby, is not a right. It's a gift from a higher authority, be it admissions or God.

Note that God can play a role in both but hopefully admissions is playing a role only in the education.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tonight I was introduced to the wonderful world of Office Space recuts

If only I could cut my life up like this.

Come to think of it, I think I can. Perhaps a lot of happiness is keeping the right view of the things that happen in your life. "Wall Street, Recut". Perhaps.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Something to pray for this evening

My plumber's mother (he's oddly close to my family) and a family's middle aged husband both died in extraordinarily unexpected ways in the past few days. Prayers for themselves and their families would be appreciated greatly.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mazel Tov

The story of a friend's journey to get themselves a matrimonial Mass accoriding to the Missal of 1962, or some close derivation. Which was, not surprisingly, about as easy as pulling teath from a baby, if I may mix my words a bit.

And what a venue for their article!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

How to survive in a British pub

This manual could save your life one day. Remember - never introduce yourself, and always buy your round.

Friday, November 10, 2006

So long, NYU chapel

But what great plans this gentleman has to replace it, if only they would let him.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

St. John who?

Is today the feast day of one of the millions of copycat saints named after St. John? (Sidenote - that would be a pretty cool setup. Think copycat criminals, but instead running around living holy lives. I think maybe we could call them religious orders). Well, no. It's the celebration of the dedication of the mother church of the world, and the Pope's cathedral (no, not St. Peter's), actually called the "Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior", and named after everyone's two favorite St. Johns. If you're interested, the Wikipedia article is actually decent.

Also, it's far better than St. John the Unfinished, in New York, since it's still unfinished.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Special Day Today

Newly beatified in 1993 by John Paul II, the Franciscans and other particular calendars may celebrate the optional memorial of Blessed John Duns Scotus, a Scottish Franciscan priest and theologian who died in 1308. He was the founder of the Scotistic School in Theology, and until the time of the French Revolution his thought dominated the Roman Catholic faculties of theology in nearly all the major universities of Europe. He is chiefly known for his theology on the Absolute Kingship of Jesus Christ, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his philosophic refutation of evolution. He is also known as the "Doctor of Mary Immaculate" because of his defense of the Immaculate Conception.

Christ the King and Mary conceived without sin? Excellent theology all around. I might balk at his refutation of evolution, but before Darwin there was no valid scientific theory to explain the mechanism of evolution, so it is understandable.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

VOTE OR DIE M**** F*****!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Just a thought

Remember how absolutely certain the mainstream media were that Terry Schiavo was for all practical purposes already dead because she had been classified as being in a "vegetative" state?

Just recently a woman in a "vegetative" state was discovered by scientists to be able to respond to statements. But have you heard anything about it, much less anything about its relevance to Terry Schiavo?

If the media had been on the opposite side of this issue, it would have been front page news across the country and on TV 24-7.

From Mr. Sowell.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It's for the kids!

Well, no it's not.

I attended a Mass this morning where, because it was fourth grader day or some such, the liturgy was given a once-over by the class to make it "kid-friendly", taking out such large words as salvation. What really bugged me, really really bugged me, though, was the number they did on the second reading. For the benefit of those not there:

Brothers and sisters:
The levitical priests were many
because they were prevented by death from remaining in office,
but Jesus, because he remains forever,
has a priesthood that does not pass away.
Therefore, he is always able to save those who approach God through him,
since he lives forever to make intercession for them.

It was fitting that we should have such a high priest:
holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners,
higher than the heavens.
He has no need, as did the high priests,
to offer sacrifice day after day,
first for his own sins and then for those of the people;
he did that once for all when he offered himself.
For the law appoints men subject to weakness to be high priests,
but the word of the oath, which was taken after the law,
appoints a son,
who has been made perfect forever.

Heb 7:23-28

Their paraphrase, as I remember it: "Jesus serves as a priest for us before God. He can do this because he isn't like us sinners."

First comment: Wow, that's a lot shorter. I guess fourth graders don't understand priesthood, and we wouldn't want to make their heads explode . . . ??? I donno.

Second comment: I'm sure the alarm bells are going off in some people's heads by now. For the benefit of those of Hebraic persuasion in the audience, I'll put in a little segment of Paul here:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

Heb 4:15

I'm no expert, but my understanding here is that Jesus is fundamentally like us, except without sin. Which would render the fourth graders' translation rather wrong. Which is why we don't let fourth graders write books of the Bible. And wrong in understanding the humanity of Christ, no small point to be proclaiming in front of a church full of adults not terribly well catechized themselves, I suspect.

Want to know who's on the ballot?

I never know who's running for what, but this site gives me a fine overview of how the ballot is going to look, though the questions they ask the candidates are somewhat useless. Do your own research. A good starting point though.

I've already been able to decide that I find all of the candidates for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General rather disturbing and won't be voting for any of 'em. Seeing as the Greens, Libertarians, Republicans, Independences, Conservatives, Socialists, Democrats, and the WF party put up candidates, and I don't like any of them, that probably makes me a theocon. Or maybe a fascist? Are those the same thing? Maybe that's Republicans these days anyway?

At any rate.

Forewarned is forearmed. Don't vote for a party, unless you're a partisan.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ocean fish, seafood could collapse by 2048

In an analysis of scientific data going back to the 1960s and historical records over a thousand years, the researchers found that marine biodiversity -- the variety of ocean fish, shellfish, birds, plants and micro-organisms -- has declined dramatically, with 29 percent of species already in collapse.

I may have to join the 4D in giving up eating our fishy friends. I did it once before for almost a year, but eventually caved. I do love seafood. I'd also like to contribute to marine reserves, but having no money or political clout I'm unsure how to help this cause.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Not related to the season

But Monday was my blood-donating anniversary, and I wanted to reiterate how important it is that everyone who's able to gives blood. You don't need it, but others do, and badly.

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