Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thinking outside of the box

Or, the idea of God suffering in Jewish thought and how that fits into a Christian conception of God suffering.

Not to spoil the post, but I will give you a hint. It fits together better because of the Incarnation.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

When translating, make sure you're not rewriting

Vatican, Jul. 25, 2008 ( - The Vatican has given formal approval to a new English translation of the central prayers of the Mass for use in the United States.

And about time. We don't even have singular v. plural right in the current translation:

In the Nicene Creed the opening word, Credo, will be correctly translated as "I believe" rather than "we believe."

A C+ effort if there ever was one.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 28, 2008

Housing bubbles

At a visceral level, it is deeply upsetting when institutions that once reaped fabulous profits (a goodly share of which were snared by their executives) are granted the protection of Uncle Sam. Robert Rodriguez, the C.E.O. of First Pacific Advisors (which has a fund I’m invested in), confessed to a “sickening” feeling at the news that the Treasury might guarantee the debts of Fannie and Freddie. Rodriguez was one of the few fixed-income investors who, having noticed the bloated balance sheets of the mortgage giants, refused to buy their debt securities. Ordinarily, less prudent investors would have suffered a loss; instead, any pain will be borne by the taxpayers.

More troubling than the unfairness is the potential that the solutions will exacerbate moral hazard: that people who feel inoculated will run greater risks. As Rodriguez observed: “Nobody wants to take the pain for excesses. Each time the problem gets bigger.”

I love underwriting corporate profits with my salary. You should try it sometime.


TWA on host dissing

A good read on the unfortunate situation out west.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Where can I get me some of that

The ultra-Orthodox posted a major "achievement" on Wednesday: They managed to arrange another exemption for their children, this time from education. Until now, the Compulsory Education Law prohibited funding institutions that did not teach the core curriculum, though such institutions were funded in contravention of the law. But from now on, ultra-Orthodox students will be officially exempt from acquiring knowledge of English, mathematics and civics, not to mention biology, computers and science.

Moreover, the Education Ministry will from now on be required by law to fund 60 percent of the Torah studies of 24,000 students in yeshivas for 14- to 18-year-olds. This group comes mainly from ultra-Orthodox elementary schools, where they also do not acquire any general knowledge.

I suppose that Solomon, wisest of all men, would have made a bad Orthodox Jew. The minor issue of his late polytheism aside, though of course the textual scholors conclude from this that he wasn't actually dedicated to God to begin with. Come on, textual scholars. Old dudes will do crazy things for chicks.

On a more general note, it's interesting to think how this would play out in the context of a Catholic school system. Well, I can't imagine anyone advocating a measure, come to think of it. Oh well, it was an interesting thought.

Labels: ,

You know it's bad when . . .

You know you have a problem when a Jewish professor at Amherst, of all places, calls out the Catholic layman on his voting habits:

Is it a certain madness, a certain distraction of mind, induced by the sudden onset of summer heat? The polls in early June find Barack Obama notably behind among Evangelicals and whites, but--wonder of wonders--actually holding a slight edge, of a point or two, among Catholics.

. . .

Some of our readers know that I was associated with the drafting of the “most modest first step of all on abortion,” the bill to preserve the life of the child who survived an abortion. It was called, in that awful legislative style, the Born-Alive Infants’ Protection Act. When it finally passed the Congress in 2002, not a single Democrat in Congress voted in opposition. But Barack Obama, as a Senator in Illinois, actually led the opposition to the comparable measure in that state, and as the chairman of a legislative committee managed to kill it. How does one explain then this close division among Catholics, with a tilt actually in his favor?

How indeed does one begin to explain it. Perhaps you think "ah, but what about the seamless garment?" Of course I seriously doubt anyone who would actually read this post would adapt that position but still, let's run with it for a few seconds. Well, the good doctor has a good answer, better than I've heard from most people:

As for the matter of “balancing” abortion with other issues, does that balancing not betray the most skewed principles of judgment? Put aside the case to be made for the why the war in Iraq was amply justified. Two days of abortion produce more deaths than the number of deaths suffered by Americans in the entire war. A year of abortion, at 1.2 million, dwarfs the number of Iraqis who have died in the conflict. Do we measure the “common good” --or what Prof. Kaveny calls “affordable health care”--by the convenient device of simply screening out those humans killed in abortion as persons that just do not count any longer in the reckoning?

During the debate between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, Douglas suggested the diversity of goods at work in our national life: Maine had oysters, Indiana had cranberries, and some of the states used slave labor. Are we being asked now to adopt a similar state of mind, in which the killing of the innocent, on a massive scale, is regarded as just one of several “goods” that our people are equally free to choose, one no better in principle than the others?

Hmm. Something to chew on. Though I do suspect that if I were to bring up this argument and attribute it, I would be acused of pushing my religion on others. Or other people's religion on other people. Or something.

Hat tip to CWN.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bill Gates as a taxing authority

Bill Gates has pulled off one of the greatest hacks in technology and business history, by turning Microsoft's success into a force for social responsibility. Imagine imposing a tax on every corporation in the developed world, collecting $100 per white-collar worker per year, and then directing one third of the proceeds to curing AIDS and malaria. That, effectively, is what Bill Gates has done.

Well, that's basically true. Impressive.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Tragic loss without training

A Massachusetts grand jury has indicted a former abortionist on a charge of involuntary murder in connection with the death of 22-year-old Laura Smith.

According to Cheryl Sullinger of Operation Rescue, Laura Hope Smith stopped breathing during an abortion and died. The abortion doctor did nothing to revive her. "There was no medical help he could give her. He was shorthanded," Sullinger contends. "He didn't have any assistance, and he was not trained in emergency procedures, apparently, and so she died right there." Massachusetts requires training in pulmonary resuscitation.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

The true cost of being stoned

Hours of downtime for your insurance company.

Labels: ,

Ah to run a bar

Even in such instances do I enjoy the highs, lows, and unknowables of the job. It's a bit like manning a joystick at Cape Canaveral: lovely equipment, men on task, and always the promise that things which go awry are capable of going so awry that the course of a federal program is altered forever.

How poetic. It reminds me of the expression "he got rich doing things which make unregulated industries regulated". I wish I had such a way with the pen. Or a bar.

Labels: ,


I had a discussion with someone recently about the value, or lack thereof, of a liberal education. Her thesis, I think, was that liberal education is not worth a shake, because the only thing that matters is learning enough to get a good job. I was trying to advance an argument along the lines of Newman (woots for Newman!) about the value of having an understanding of your discipline's relation to knowledge in general. Her response, summarized, was that people would always think of themselves and their individual skills and problems as more important than anyone else - eg, you'll never convince the 'evolutionist' that just because complex animals came from simple animals that God doesn't exist.

I donno. Perhaps I'm silly for thinking that people can act rationally or extract anything from learning about the world. But I hope not.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Catholic radio?

Mr. Rulli’s show can sometimes sound like catechism class (“What is the sixth Station of the Cross? Anybody?”) but more often achieves the queasy unpredictability of the Stern show itself — if Mr. Stern were an avowedly guilt-ridden, confession-going 36-year-old prone to sexual double-entendres and self-mocking complaints about not being able to find a girlfriend.

The mix, perhaps risky for the church, is aimed not only at Catholics who attend church but also at a large and growing segment of 20- and 30-something Catholics who do not, said Mr. Zwilling, who as the general manager of the channel hired Mr. Rulli.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Psalm 17

Warning - KJV to follow.

Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.

Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal.

Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.

Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.

Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.

I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.

Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them.

Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,

From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about.

They are inclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speak proudly.

They have now compassed us in our steps: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth;

Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places.

Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword:

From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.

As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.

Which incidentally matches in the last verse the 1917 JPS Hebrew translation.

I'm no scholar of the Psalms, or of when one or the other of the Psalms was written, of which are early and which are late. However, seeing the face of God does indeed seem to my uneducated eyes to indicate a relatively early Jewish belief in, well, seeing the face of God. "When I awake" is also interesting. It can be interpreted literally - when you wake up in the morning, there is God with you. It can also be interpreted as when you awake to the reality of religion. Or when you wake up after your death.

Or who knows what else - my commentary on the Psalms, scholarly and otherwise, is sorely lacking, so I'm basically making this up as I go along. Hope I'm not a heretic.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Equal opportunity politics

Mark Shea makes an interesting point. The wiretapping and such that the executive branch has been up to was, well, illegal. Bush is a Republican. When Republicans controlled Congress, they couldn't pass a bill to make it legal. With Democrats in control, they could. Odd odd world.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Leap second this year

I for one plan to use the extra second to catch up on sleep.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Fighting words over the new missal translation

Oh US bishops you are so silly.

Debates over English-language translations of liturgical texts have been common within the US bishops' conference for well over a decade. Led by Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania, the former chairman of the bishops' liturgy committee, critics of the new translations have complained that they use archaic language and defended the earlier work of the International Commission for English in the Liturgy. That group, in turn, has drawn criticism from conservative Catholics-- and from the Vatican-- for making unauthorized changes in the language and meaning of the Latin originals.

Nothing like picking a fight with the Vatican to keep your life interesting.


Monday, July 07, 2008

IBM buys PSI

In other words, they licensed z/OS to them for use on Intel computers, revoked the license when someone else started making money on the concept, and then bought them. Very strange.


A brief history of Windows XP, in quotes

Long have I used the operating system and it shall be missed. Now on to Vista, if I can afford enough RAM.


Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy July 4th all


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Growing-up, under the City

A chaperone on one of Arthur’s school trips told me something he overheard when all the kids were neatly lined up in rows of two. The girl holding Arthur’s hand asked him, “Have you heard of Peter Pan?” “No,” he replied, “have you heard of Metro North?”
I'm sure this fits into some twisted New Yorker sense of of ideal children. ;-)


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The great bishop shortage

I thought it a bit of a shame that the confirmations took place at St. Charles. I think it's a lot nicer when the Bishop visits an individual parish and confirms a smaller number of people. It's closer, more personal and less like one of those giant Moonie weddings. The Bishop confirmed over seventy people which took a while. It would have made a huge difference to break that down in to three groups. Maybe a Polish group, a West Hull (Inc. Hessle) group and a North Hull group. I can understand how that's difficult to do with the current crisis in vocations, I mean, back when the Diocese had as many as one Bishop that sort of thing was possible. These days that number has plummeted to only one Bishop and there's no way we can expect him to get around as much.

If only I were a Brit I too could be this hilarious. Alas I am reduced to listening to Jewish friends tell Jewish jokes, which I somehow feel I shouldn't find funny.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Toss those kiwis

Ah nice the EU is making someone throw away 5000 kgs of kiwis because some of them are up to four grams too light. Wow that's about two paper clips. The thing that mystifies me is that fruit is usually sold by weight, so how does it matter how much they weigh?

And of course he's not allowed to donate them, because a 58 gram kiwi is unfit for human consumption, though a 62 gram kiwi is fine.

Labels: ,

Saving money

Don't eat and take busses seems to be what it's about.

Labels: , ,

Hebrew Speaking Catholic Vicariate in Israel

The name could use some work, but the site is a pretty interesting resource.

The Association of Saint James constitutes a Vicariate within the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Today, Hebrew speaking communities are active in the four major Israeli cities: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa and Beer Sheba. In addition, the Vicariate includes two communities of Russian speaking faithful who are finding their place within Hebrew speaking Israeli society. In 2003, Mgr. Jean-Baptiste Gourion osb was ordained bishop for the Hebrew-speaking community, an auxiliary to the Patriarch Mgr. Michel Sabbah. After his premature death in 2005, the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa ofm, succeeded him as Vicar.

Labels: ,

Family discipline as a criminal offense

GATINEAU, Quebec, June 20, 2008 ( - A Quebec youngster has used the courts to avoid parental discipline in a "landmark" case. The 12-year-old girl, who is too young to be named, went to court to force her father to overturn his decision not to allow her to go on a school trip. Her father had decided to ground her after he found out she had posted photos of herself on a dating website against his wishes.

The sixth grader then took her father to court, arguing that his punishments were too severe.

Madam Justice Suzanne Tessier of the Quebec Superior Court ruled today that denying the girl permission to go on the school trip was an excessive punishment. The girl's lawyer, Lucie Fortin, said, "She's becoming a big girl" and described the school trip as "a unique event in her life", the Globe and Mail reported.

WTF mate, WTF. Perhaps the court would like to tuck her into bed at night and make sure she eats her veggies as well.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?