Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hey, it worked in Blazing Saddles

Do I hear Peter Cardinal Turkson's name in the running for the next pope? Yes I do, based on no data but still a fine thought experiment. Dare I say a black African pope would be amazing? I do dare. Click through to read Mr. Sobrino's analysis of the situation.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Texas GOP Opposes Critical Thinking in Schools

I am six months late on this. But still found it shocking enough to publicly denounce.

The following quote is taken from the Texas Republican 2012 Platform statement, available here:

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

 I just spend the week with some people who I am pretty sure are Texan Republicans. I should ask them what they think about this.  As a teacher, "higher order thinking skills" are what it is all about for me. Learning how to learn, questioning your sources, and thinking critically, are what separate a middle school student from a college graduate, more than any acquired body of knowledge. Knowledge these days is cheap and easy to come by via the internet. So what should we really be teaching in school if not skills and critical thinking?

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Friday, February 22, 2013

A new thought on what conservatism might mean

Found on CAEI, an article by Andrew Bacevich which seems fairly reasonable to me. If nothing else you have to admire a writer who prefaces his argument with
(Fans of Ayn Rand or Milton Friedman will want to stop reading here and flip to the next article. If Ronald Reagan’s your hero, sorry—you won’t like what’s coming. Ditto regarding Ron Paul. And if in search of wisdom you rely on anyone whose byline appears regularly in any publication owned by Rupert Murdoch, well, you’ve picked up the wrong magazine.)
A lot about slow change instead of no change, dealing with reality instead of an echo chamber, scepticism towards coercion, etc. My views may be bleeding in there, but yeah. Some of his proposals are getting people at CAEI a bit angry, e.g.
So forget about dismantling the welfare state. Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and, yes, Obamacare are here to stay. Forget about outlawing abortion or prohibiting gay marriage. Conservatives may judge the fruits produced by the sexual revolution poisonous, but the revolution itself is irreversible.
But that fits fairly well with dealing with reality, I think.

I'm not a big fan of labels in politics (or in general), they tend to separate people who agree by introducing tribalism or something, but this seems like a fairly reasonable label. Still, not quite time to update my Facebook page yet.

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Security in papal elections

Turns out it's pretty good, even without photo IDs.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

QOTD - Portrait

—Then—said Cranley—you do not intend to become a protestant?—

—I said that I had lost the faith—Stephen answered—but not that I had lost selfrespect. What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?—
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, p. 287 in the 1928 Modern Library edition.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

SS on Chastity Lectures

I don't ever think I've been to one, but this seems like a solid statement on the subject, informed by this observation.
Now, I understand that chastity speakers have gotten a bit more savvy in the past twenty years. And this is great because when Catholic kids go to university they notice that a lot of their friends are having sex and yet manage to avoid unplanned pregnancies, broken hearts, disease, abortion and depression. Some even manage to get married to a supposed-to-be one-night-stand and live happily ever after.* What the hell--? And some poor Christian virgins get married to other Christian virgins and are divorced within two years. Wha---? Life is not always as simple as Chastity Lady's narrative, which is why Christian kids need something better than Chastity Lectures.
Followed by a rather insightful statement on what love is
Here's another, "If he loves you, he'll respect you for wanting to wait." That one is also tried, tested and true. If he (or she) doesn't love you, he (or she) will bitch, complain and leave because you don't put out. And although painful, it's like lending 20 pounds or dollars to someone who avoids you ever after: it's painful to lose 20 quid or dollars, but it's a relatively cheap way to get rid of a false friend. Meanwhile, a man who loves you will put up with practically anything. You could dye your hair pink or quit your job to go to clown school or chain yourself to a historical building slated for demolition. He'll still love you.
Did you know that we didn't have a "love" tag on this blog? What nonsense I tell you. And yet someone created an "STDs" tag.

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Luther for Pope?

Garry Wills seems to think the next pope should be a Protestent, as far as I can figure. Colbert seems skeptical. I'm not sure what the word "Catholic" means to Wills, I guess I'll have to read his books to find out but it does seem there should be better ways to spend my time.

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Word of the day - hoyden

A rude, uncultured or rowdy girl or woman.
James Joyce has a rather larger active vocabulary than mine, it seems! I don't think women should generally be called hoydenish, but I suppose it's a fine word to have in rotation.


Friday, February 08, 2013

QOTD - Engineers and honesty

What’s at work here is the principle that companies lie, bosses lie, but engineers are generally incapable of lying. If they lied, how could the many complex parts of a computer or a software application be expected to actually work together?

“Yeah, I know I said wire Y-21 would be 12 volts DC, but, heck, I lied.”

Nope, it wouldn’t work.
From Cringley's Accidental Empires.

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Common Illogic

An explanation from Popehat on how many people fail to reason correctly, summed up with the title X → Y; I don't like Y; therefore ! X
Instead of starting with the facts on the ground and then reasoning forward towards conclusions, he would start with conclusions and then reason backwards to what the facts on the ground must be.

The older I've gotten, the more I realize that there's a lot of that going on.

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

How not to be a Christian

About a Westboro defector:
Read the whole thing. Look don’t hope for too much, there. They aren’t suddenly going to march in any gay pride parade. But she has recognized the very point I was hammering home to Shirley Phelps-Roper the other day, that if your religion involves telling a person a heartbroken parent in Newtown, Connecticut, that their children are burning in hell, something has gone horribly wrong in your supposed Christianity. It is simply inexcusably cruel to say that to a grieving parent and, by the way, not terribly constructive.
Some fine words from A2B. Emphasis is mine.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Moral confusion reigns at Sorting It All Out

I used to think insurance companies were evil, it turns out they're just greedy. Their sin is clearly a venal one, not a mortal one (a distinction my catholic readers will appreciate!).
Mr. Kaplan, you are a most excellent programmer and whatnot, but as a spiritual advisor, eh.

I only bring this up at all because I've learned that a lot of people, whom I thought I was close to, think a lot of really weird things about me, or don't know much about me at all. Odd right? So I'm more curious than ever about how people on the outside see Catholicism (and me), and I'm also trying to explain myself better to people.

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Monday, February 04, 2013


The most useful line I learned in five years of studying the philosophy of a Jesuit named Bernard Lonergan was, "I don't have enough data to make a judgement."
From SS, and something that I often say when someone tries to force an opinion out of me on a subject that I don't know much about.

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Sunday, February 03, 2013

Lame movie reviews - Old School

I watched this at the suggestion of a certain friend with a JD. The verdict (ha!) - quite hilarious, if overly crude, and with a plot and especially ending that steals a bit too much from Revenge of the Nerds for my tastes. Not recommended for an overly Catholic crowd without easy access to sacerdotal absolution.


Cardinal Mahoney relieved of duty

About thirty years too late, I think, but better late than never.
Immediately complying with a judge’s order, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has released the personnel files of 87 clergy accused of sexual abuse and has posted the files online.

Archbishop José Gomez, who has led the archdiocese since 2011, announced that he has relieved his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, of all administrative and public duties, and that Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, at one time Cardinal Mahony’s vicar for clergy, has resigned from his duties as a regional auxiliary bishop.


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