Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Happy Jesuit Day

Today's the feast day of St. I of L, founder of my preferred religious order, probably due to their emphasis on education and whatnot. Despite their poor reputation (not undeserved in some parts), I still think most Jesuits are on the level (eg. Fr. Mitch Pacwa) and fighting the good fight.

Party on!


Monday, July 30, 2007

Let the dead write their books

The Times reports on the rather strange occurance of Robert Ludlum continuing to write books for years after his death, a process still ongoing. No, the publishers havne't employed mediums (media?) to contanct the dead author. Yet. But apparently ghostwriting is in.

I guess there's no harm to it, but something seems off-kilter to me. It's a strange sort of literary immortality. One of my favorite authors as a kid, John Bellairs, has the same setup. I enjoy the books, but sometimes I think it would be better if people would just write as themselves and let the characters create the sense of continuity.


Fr. Wiener discusses Traditional Latin Mass with the Chronicle

One of my favorite priests (and personal friends) was interviewed my the San Francisco Chronicle about one of my favorite liturgies! I can't watch it now because I am at work but there is a link on the website for a video of a Mass filmed on Easter Sunday in 1941, the Missa Solemnis or Solemn High Mass in full detail with narration by then- Mgr. Fulton J. Sheen!

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Just a little snippit of life on the floor, and the misunderstandings people have.

For example, the idea that professional traders collude to drive up stock prices. It's just as likely that a pro is short, say, the S&P 500, so any rise in stock prices would hurt him. Or that he's direction neutral, but he's long volatility, so he wants variation. Or that he's direction neutral, but short volatility, so he wants prices to stay where they are. Just saying. If you're going to hold forth on a topic, even on blog comments, you should do some research.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Index options

What I'be been studying today. Just trying to catch up on some long neglected work reading.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Quite a spread on robots in the Times Magazine

I think they're a little confused about consciousness, however. They seem to regard a sufficiently intelligent robot as having consciousness, because it can sort of emulate a human. The true measure of consciousness, of course, is whether the thing has an existence of its own - whether there's something in it's head, so to speak. A society of very cleverly constructed machines wouldn't be conscious. Just clever. I suppose to the materialist, however, his own consciousness is evidence enough that it emerges spontaneously from nature, therefore it's only a matter of time before we have a robot rights movement and you have to let people and robots get it on.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Harry Potter

Some of this anti-Potter stuff is quite looney, and Mr. Shea's doing a service by pointing out this rebuttal. My favorite bit was the part where they confuse Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker. Nice way to stay on topic.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Good news from China

Beijing, Jul. 24, 2007 (CWNews.com) - The leading figure in China's Catholic Patriotic Association has praised the Pope Benedict's message to the Church in China, and said he hopes that the Pontiff will visit his country soon.

In an interview with the Italian daily La Repubblica, Liu Bainian, the vice-chairman of the Patriotic Association, said that the papal message released on June 30 was a "positive" development.

Liu went on to say: "With my whole heart, I hope that one day, I will see the Pope here in Beijing celebrating Mass for us Chinese. Italian Catholics do not know how we very much want to see him." He asked La Reppublica to convey the message that "we pray for him continuously and for a papal visit."


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The dirty business of steam pipes

An interesting read, given my uncle's long career in Con Ed.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Hentoff v. Moore

The unassuming international champion of universal health care, Michael Moore, was asked (New York Sun, June 29) whether, while filming "Sicko," he inquired about the condition of Cuban journalist Normando Gonzalez, a political prisoner since 2003. He has contracted severe chronic illnesses while in a Castro gulag. Moore answered that he asked only about Cuba's health care system while he was there.

Among other suffering prisoners in Cuban cells who would have added further dimension to "Sicko" are independent librarians, put away for more than 20-year sentences for the crime of giving Cubans access to books and other publications forbidden in state libraries. Dr. Jose Luis Garcia Paneque, for example, director of a Las Tunas library, is not being treated meaningfully for intestinal problems, hypertension and other ailments.

Healthcare for all, except those the government doesn't like. What a wonderful world.


The Ninth of Av

Quite a tragic day for those of the Hebraic persuasion, as my CS 101 professor would say, and the culmination of a sort of fast.



Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Really amazing that I could get this and TWA could get NC-17. Just goes to show you that it's all politics.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Many moral absolutists figure ethical relativism means accepting whatever anyone decides they want to do. That isn't the case. Moral relativism means acknowledging that what is and isn't moral changes with one's point of view. That means each of us has to accept responsibility for the moral code we practice, and for deciding where the boundaries have to be in the societies we live in.

It's more complicated than moral absolutism. But then, relativity makes physics more complicated, too. That isn't a reason to discount it.

The problem, of course, is that you don't have any principles to argue from except your taste. As the article says, "each of us has to accept responsibility for the moral code we practice, and for deciding where the boundaries have to be". What this ends up being is the stronger party imposes its vision of morality on the weaker party. How else could you come to a social morality? So while the Church is accused of imposing its absolutist views on others, I think that in fact it's relativism that can't help but to be little more than an imposition of irrational taste by one party on another.

Just my 2 cents.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Stem cells from skin

Cool if it works. The only problem, as one doctor points out, is that it's possible that what they're doing is sort of like cloning, meaning that little bit of skin used in the procedure, given some time, would develop into a little baby you. Then we'd be back to the embryo debate.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Jewishness of the Mass

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Always refreshing to see religious freedom crushed

HEREFORD, April 5, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a test case of the UK’s just passed Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR’s), an Anglican bishop is defending himself in the dock for refusing to hire a man who was pursuing an active homosexual lifestyle.

The Right Rev Anthony Priddis, the Anglican Bishop of Hereford, rejected the accusation of unjust discrimination, saying that he declined to hire John Reaney as a youth worker because he admitted to engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage.

Reaney, 41, from Llandud-no, North Wales is bringing an action against the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance, claiming that he was refused the job on the grounds that he was a homosexual. His complaint is being backed by the homosexual group, Stonewall, the notoriously anti-Christian political lobby group largely responsible for the imposition of the SOR’s.

Glad to see that courts are now competent to deny freedom of association to churches in the fine land of Great Britain.


New Website for the Vatican City-State!

CWNews breaks the story. Check out www.vaticanstate.va. Decently done, but it could be better. . .

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Vanished Spaces

A couple of weeks ago, the Korean market on the corner closed. It wasn’t an especially sudden thing. There was a month of destocking — or un-restocking — that filled the store with the strange feeling of accumulating absence. Then there was a brief sale — half-off anything left — and finally darkness.

I walked past the store again last night. A window had been broken and taped over, and a woman leaned against the dark storefront and asked for spare change. I had never realized how much light that store cast upon the neighborhood, how much briskness it gave its sidewalk frontage.

When the market closed, I found myself thinking, “Now what do I do with this?”

I seem to recall a quote - you're a New Yorker when what isn't anymore is more real than what is now.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Apparently I'm a "NeoCath"

Which means, as far as I can tell, that I'm Catholic. O tempora, O mores.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Recommended Sunday Sanity Reading

Mark Shea's Various reactions to the Pope Turning out to Be Catholic

Saturday, July 14, 2007

R - e - c - y - c - l - e Recycle!

Just a friendly reminder - if you happen to have a laser printer, recycle those toner cartridges and drums. In most cases the manufacturer will pay for shipping, all you have to do is box them up and drop it off at the nearest post office. In this manner you can help save the world with just a little bit of your time.


Friday, July 13, 2007

30 Years from since the blackout

The looting and rioting that afflicted a wide swath of neighborhoods left indelible memories. D. Dolphin was a 7-year-old watching “Star Wars” at an Upper East Side movie theater with employees of his father’s Harlem bicycle shop when the screen faded to black; the group rushed back uptown to deter robbers from breaking into the store. Brenda Perryman, who had just traveled from Detroit with family members to visit her brother in Brooklyn, watched the looting: “Out the window we witnessed young and old running to the stores on the corner. The gates protected the doors for only a little while. Folks hooked chains to the bumpers of their cars and pulled those gates down. A free-for-all ensued.” Nancy, who was 17 at the time, recalls shop owners sitting in their stores on Flatbush Avenue, armed.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Death and Culture

Last month this article was in First Things. I think it speaks for itself quite well.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Did you know that not having sex with people is the leading cause of AIDS?

It's really amazing what people are allowed to publish.

Vatican says other Christian churches "wounded"

Interesting article.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Got CPU cycles to spare?

Donate! I'm a BOINC user, which is a program that lets you donate your spare computer time to various worthy projects as you see fit. One of my favorites is Predictor@Home, a project that gives out smallish work units and does important research for medicine. I'm also a member of a SETI project (not too many units there), a climate research project, and the World Community Grid, an organization put together by IBM that works on various problems in the physical sciences, usually medical related. All it costs you is power.


Monday, July 09, 2007

What I was trying to get at

Submission can be a virtue, when it's to a legitimate authority. That's why it's usually a good idea to follow laws that you disagree with, as long as they aren't so disordered as to be evil. What SSPX is saying, I think, is that they're the ultimate arbiters of right and wrong when it comes to the Church. As long as they're not sitting on the Chair of Peter, I'm rather hard-pressed to come up with an explination of how they can say what they say and still call themselves Catholics in good standing.


Mmm, but they're the Vatican

However, Father Stehlin noted, the traditionalist group is not yet ready to return to full communion with the Holy See. The papal document strongly affirmed the use of the Novus Ordo Mass, and the SSPX priest observed: "The post-conciliar rite of the Mass in unacceptable."

"We also criticize the Vatican position on the subject of religious freedom," the SSPX spokesman said.

Too bad the Pope says that the post-conciliar rite is acceptable. I'm not sure it's enough to make you wrong, but I'm pretty sure it's enough to make you quite questionable.


Sunday, July 08, 2007


The reading for today was Lk 10:1-12, and a fine priest from Fordham University decided to preach on how crazy the instructions being given were, especially given the times. Not taking a staff meant you could be eaten by lions or bears. No food or money - well there were no ATMs or Wendys on the roads leading out of Jerusalem. And so on.

I wonder how this would sound today. I mean, I don't think we're supposed to emulate the mission of the 72 quite so literally, but there must be a message in there - radically trusting in God to provide for you, etc. I tried to translate a few lines as a mental exercise:

"Take no MetroCard with you"

but decided it wasn't worth it as the text is quite capable of taking care of itself.


And no, it won't be anti-semitic

VATICAN CITY, JULY 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's apostolic letter concerning the Roman Missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962, will not reinstate a prayer for the conversion of "perfidious Jews."

The Vatican press office announced today the Pope's letter issued "motu proprio," on his own initiative, is titled "Summorum Pontificum," and will be released Saturday at noon, accompanied by an explanatory letter.

Several media reports erroneously contend that the letter could in effect reinstate a prayer offensive to Jews from the Good Friday liturgy of the Tridentine Mass, which dates back to 1570. The prayer stated: "Oremus et pro perfidies Judaeis" (Let us pray for the perfidious Jews).

On the first Good Friday after his election to the papacy in 1959, Pope John XXIII eliminated the adjective "perfidious" from the prayer. Since then the expression "Let us pray for the Jews" has been used.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

It's out

Summorum Pontificum cura ad hoc tempus usque semper fuit, ut Christi Ecclesia Divinae Maiestati cultum dignum offerret, «ad laudem et gloriam nominis Sui» et «ad utilitatem totius Ecclesiae Suae sanctae».


Friday, July 06, 2007

Fight for your reverse-engineering rights

Nothing gets me more upset than the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, except maybe National Catholic Reporter.

Even the debate pitting creationism against evolution never raises the argument that the galaxy is a secret that ought not be explored. Both sides cite science that looks at our galaxy’s present, weigh recorded history against empirical data, and hypothesize about our origins.

So how is it that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) -- an odious piece of lobbyist-written legislation if there ever was one -- can make a crime of reverse engineering? The DMCA circumvents laws governing copyright, patent, property, and free speech by declaring unlawful the most essential right of all: The right to know.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Why I'm short the iPhone

The drunken night with iPhone is over, and now as we wake up next to our new love, the sober reality is not as good looking as we thought.

As we learn more about the device and its battery shortcomings, as night follows day, bad press is following good.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th everyone!

Off to celebrate the birthday of the "almost chosen nation".

Amnesty for who?

It is a tragedy when a force for good becomes a force for evil. But such is the case with Amnesty International.

A brief discussion of AI's newfound support for abortion.

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Per Cent

Just finished this little book about the history and justifications for interest by an uncle of my friend. It's a little theoretical in parts, but the relations discussed between interest, savings, and capital formation are rather well explained. I'm still not convinced enough thought has gone into these sorts of things in Catholic circles, the Mosaic prohibitions aside. There is certainly something quite invasive about debt at the lower ends of the scale that was captured in the traditional prohibitions but is now absent from serious discussion.

File under "Obvious"

Rome , Jul. 3, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Italy's health minister has said that the country's new laws restricting in vitro fertilization (IVF) are responsible for a decline in the number of babies conceived using IVF.

Also file under common sense making some progress.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Work Ethic

The author looks at the problems college students have with work habits, believing that the act of working, rather than the quality of the result, entitles them to money. He also comments on the cash-driven nature of education.

Monday, July 02, 2007

And they think bishops are involved in politics in this country

Bulwayo, Jul. 2, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, has openly called for the overthrow of the government led by President Robert Mugabe.

In an interview with the Sunday Times of London the archbishop said: "I think that it is justified for Britain to raid Zimbabwe and remove Mugabe."

Archbishop Ncube later told BBC that while he suggested intervention by Great Britain, the former colonial ruler of the African country, he could justify action by any other power to ease the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe. Some action is required, he said, to oust "a government which is ready to sacrifice the lives of its people."

Come to think of it, I think Rev. Sharpton has expresses vaguely similar sentiments with regards to President Bush.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Good times for prisoners

The United States now has more than two million people behind bars, a number that has been rising steadily for decades. But state lawmakers who once would have rushed to build new prisons have begun to see that prison-building is not the best or most cost-effective way to fight crime or protect the public’s safety.

Several states have instead begun to focus on developing community-based programs that deal with low-level, nonviolent offenders without locking them up. And they have begun to look at ways to control recidivism with programs that help newly released people find jobs, housing, drug treatment and mental health care — essential services if they are to live viable lives in a society that has historically shunned them.

I'm quite excited that people are thinking about this stuff, especially in the great state of Texas, home to many a criminal. I'm not entirely sure what the feds have to do with it though.


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