Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The problem with Skepticism

There are only 5 types of evidence in this world. From the least reliable to the most reliable, they are:
-Eyewitness evidence
-Replicated eyewitness evidence
-Personally Replicated eyewitness evidence
-Mechanically Replicated eyewitness evidence
-Personal Experience

If you eliminate all eyewitness evidence from your equation, you are left with only 1/5th what the world has to offer.

If you allow some types of eyewitness evidence but not others- you only have to go up two levels to reach the realm of theology rather than science.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A great Year In Review Article

This article in OSV is why I like reading Mark Shea's stuff. He, like Blessed Pope John Paul The Great was is an equal opportunity offender to those who would put Mammon or Caesar above Christ.

Read this article for such grand nuggets as:

. Let us grant that the poor man who understands little about finance (which is why he is poor) bears responsibility for taking out the too-good-to-be-true loan because the bank gave him a free toaster, urged him to do it, and promised his dream of home ownership was within reach.

What both movements do is illustrate G.K. Chesterton’s observation that the revolutionary generally has a pretty good idea of what is wrong but not what is right.

And with those two quotes, Mark Shea proves himself to be a worthy American successor to Chesterton.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

You Might Be A Terrorist If Part III

A very interesting story on the technology that the US Government is gearing up to use against it's own citizens. Oh, and on the plus side, in the new revision of paragraphs 1031 & 1032 of the NDAA2012, the military will at least need to convince a judge and serve you a warrant before they kidnap you in the middle of the night to make you disappear. Of course, once they have that warrant labeling you as a terrorist, you will have no rights at all.

Rerum Novarum 120th Anniversary

120 years ago, Pope Leo XIII was battling both communists and capitalists for the souls of workers. Pope Benedict XVI spent his weekend still fighting that same battle, especially hitting on the subjects of solidarity and charity, which in our 21st century world are often derided as socialism and discarded. But more than that- he called upon Catholic Institutions to be an evangelical voice for Christ's gospel of unity and sharing in a world that all too often pits class against class, worker against owner, individual against society.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

You Might Be A Terrorist If, Part II

From Before It's News, so I ask you to check Sources on this article. But You Might Be a Terrorist if:
  • You Are A Tea Partier

  • You Are A Occupier

  • You have more than 7 days of food stored in your garage

  • You are missing a finger or a toe

  • You own a flashlight

  • You pay cash at hotels

  • You text in public

  • You have a Ron Paul bumper sticker

  • You believe conspiracy theories

  • You own silver or gold, in any form

  • You own guns and ammo

  • You served in a foreign war

  • Sunday, December 11, 2011

    The violence of the peacemakers

    To be pro-choice- is to be pro-violence. Violence against the unborn, is obvious, but also violence against women. The natural order of women is the exalted vocation of motherhood- the greatest thing any human being can be is a mother. Pro-choice feminism attacks motherhood directly- calling the housewife unfulfilled, somehow subservient to the man who has to work 2000 hours a year outside the home to pay for food, clothing and shelter.

    The philosophy of Margaret Sanger, more children for the fit, fewer children for the unfit, is the core of Eugenics- but is based on the false idea that mankind has any way to know who is fit and who is unfit. It is a peace based on the ultimate in violence- the violence against the weak, the violence of the bully.

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    So this is how a Republic Ends

    Fact mirrors fiction in the Senate Vote on HR1540/S1867- much like in the vote in Star Wars Episode III to change Chancellor Palpatine to Emperor Palapatine and grant him emergency war powers, this seemingly innocent budget allotment for the military allows the military to name anybody as a terrorist, conduct operations within the United States, hold people in military installations and judge them by military tribunals without the right of jury, in direct violation of the Bill of Rights.

    I never thought I'd say this, but I'm glad Obama is President and is likely to veto this.

    Just to channel Jeff Foxworthy to finish this off, You Might Be A Terrorist If:
    - You own an unregistered firearm
    - You participated in an Occupy Protest
    - You participated in a Tea Party Protest
    - You have ever criticized an American Corporation, the US Chamber of Commerce, or the World Trade Organization
    - You are pro-life and believe that human life is sacred between conception and natural death
    - You have farmed, raised, or consumed marijuana
    - You believe there is only one reality and only one morality that fits that reality
    - You are homosexual
    - You bash homosexuals
    - You have any mental illness as described in the DSM-V, including Oppositional Defiant Disorder when you were between the ages of 2-4 or 12-18.
    - You adhere to the belief structure of any given religion to the exclusion of other religions
    - You are against War or the Death Penalty (giving aid and comfort to terrorists)
    - You are not John McCain

    Good luck everybody, if Obama fails to veto this, and for this post, I have no doubt that by 2018, after they get done arresting everybody else in the country, I'll be joining you all in the internment camps for writing a blog posting opposing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. Happy new military dictatorship, everybody. --------------UPDATE And if you think the above paragraph is cynical and satire- then read this Before It Is News Report on KBR putting out request for proposals for building MORE FEMA camps.

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Why I can't trust a man who can't keep his vows II

    This article at CatholicVote mirrored many of my initial wondering about the progress, or lack thereof, of Newt Gingrich's conversion to Catholicism. Most telling in this blog posting is a quote from an Esquire article with his 2nd wife, where she casts grave doubt on his conversion from the man she knew and married, to an affair with a Catholic intern, to his 3rd marriage and conversion. Note this might be the pot calling the kettle black, a bit- after all, his 2nd wife was once the intern having the affair that broke up Newt's first marriage.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    How Not To Do It

    GK Chesterton, on May 16, 1935, explained to the world why arguing for capitalism just creates more communists- and the solution. Which of these three methods do you prefer, and why?

    How Not to Do It
    G.K.'s Weekly
    May 16, 1935


    There are two recognised ways of arguing with a Communist; and they are both wrong. There is also a third way which is right but which is not recognised. Now I have a notion that, for one reason or another, a considerable part of our time will be taken up soon by arguing with Communists. And I should like to sketch very roughly this notion of mine about the right way to do it.
    Curiously enough, the two commonest ways of contradicting Communism also contradict each other. The first consists of convicting the Bolshevist of all vices. The second, curiously enough, consists of convicting him of all the virtues. It actually consists of pitting all our vices against his virtues; or his supposed virtues.

    This is very much the more dangerous and even suicidal trick of the two; but its nature needs a little explanation. The first common or conventional method is at least simple enough. The Capitalist says to the Communist, “You shall not enter my house, for I know you would burt it down; you shall not speak to my family, for I know you would blow them up; you are a common thief and murderer and I am a highly respectable and moral person; and not as this Russian.” Now I do not like talking like that to a Bolshevist; because I should not like talking like that to a burglar. It is Pharisaical; and the Pharisee is a more ancient enemy of the Christian than the Marxian.

    But I rather prefer it to the other method, which I find extremely common, among those who profess to defend property or individualism against the Marxian heresy. It really consists of telling the Communist that he is an idealist, or, in other words, that he must be wrong because he has ideals. In this second case, the Capitalist says to the Communist, “You believe in a lot of nonsense about the brotherhood of men; but I tell you, as a practical man, that every man wants to get as much as he can for himself, and will beat his own brother in business if he can. Every man must obey his acquisitive instinct." (I read these very words recently in an attack on the Bolshevist theory.) "You cannot keep things humming and hustling without private enterprise; and you cannot produce private enterprise unless you bribe or reward it with the glittering prizes of private property." People use these arguments against Communism, as if they were the only arguments against Communism; and then they are surprised that a number of more generous and spirited young people become Communists.

    They do not seem to see that, to such young people, the Capitalist in question only seems to be saying, "I am a greedy old scoundrel, and I forbid you to be anything else."

    Now the true, full and final argument against Communism is that private property is much more important than private enterprise. A pickpocket represents private enterprise, but we should hardly say that he supports private property. Private property is not a bribe that exists for the sake of private enterprise. On the contrary, private enterprise is only a tool or weapon, that may sometimes be useful to preserve private property. And it is necessary to preserve private property; simply because the other name of it is liberty. On the one hand, it is not merely a conventional respectability; on the contrary, it is only the man with some property and privacy who can live his own life freely. On the other hand, it is not a mere licence to trade, still less a mere licence to cheat; on the contrary, the whole point of property is that in that alone can be naturally nourished the sentiment of honour. It would need some space to expound it here and might take some time to expound it to the Communist. But the Communist would listen at least longer than he would to a man merely boasting of self-righteousness or a man merely boasting of avarice.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Sometimes the left wing DOES have a point

    And when they do, it's a good one. Here's some economic and Occupy myths that are common right now, and while their answers have a definite left wing bent, I think the truth is somewhere between the two. But a challenge. If you are a fiscal conservative, I challenge you to read the ENTIRE bibliography of this article:
    MYTH #1: The congressional Super Committee failed because both sides refuse to compromise.
    REALITY: The Super Committee failed because Republicans' number one, non-negotiable priority is to protect millionaires and billionaires from paying even one more penny in taxes.1 Democrats repeatedly offered to make deep spending cuts—far deeper than most progressives would like—in exchange for raising taxes on the wealthy and closing corporate loopholes, only to be refused again and again.2 So even though the vast majority of Americans say they want to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits, and raise taxes on the rich and corporations,3 that won't happen until Republicans put aside their extremist stance.
    MYTH #2: Nobody knows what Occupy Wall Street is about.
    REALITY: Occupy Wall Street may not have a formal list of demands, but anyone who's been paying attention understands the core problems that occupiers are protesting—that corporations have far too much power in our political system, that Wall Street banks crashed our economy but were never held accountable, and that the richest 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans—156 million people—combined.4
    MYTH #3: Occupiers should stop protesting and just get a job.
    REALITY: As anybody who's looked for a job in the last few years knows, there just aren't jobs out there. That's a big part of why occupiers are protesting. In September, there were four times as many unemployed people as job openings.5 And for those who are lucky enough to find a job, median wages today are lower than they were a decade ago.6
    MYTH #4: Occupy Wall Street is intent on provoking violence, especially against banks and the police.
    REALITY: Occupations across the country have committed themselves to nonviolent protest, in the greatest traditions of protest movements. Some of their protests have been met with acts of police violence—tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets7—but in many cases, protesters have reminded police that the police officers are part of the 99%, too.8 And in the few cases when people have shown up at Occupy demonstrations and committed acts of vandalism, other protesters have even repaired their acts of vandalism.9
    MYTH #5: The biggest crisis facing our country is out of control government spending.
    REALITY: The two biggest drivers of our deficit—by far—are the economic crash and the Bush tax cuts.10 We have millions of people out of work, corporations hoarding cash, and factories sitting idle. If we put all those people back to work—rebuilding infrastructure, educating our children, and researching new technologies—it'll shrink the deficit and make our economy stronger for the long haul. And we can easily afford it if we make sure the rich—who are taking home a larger percentage of income than any time since 191711—pay their fair share.
    1. "No, 'both sides' aren't equally to blame for supercommittee failure," The Washington Post, November 21, 2011 Washington Post Moveon Link
    2. "Wonkbook: In supercommittee, Dems moved right and Republicans moved righter," The Washington Post, November 22, 2011 < Washington Post Moveon Link
    3. "CNN Poll: What The Super Committee Produced Is...Exactly What We Don't Want," Talking Points Memo, November 21, 2011 CNN Poll Moveon Link
    "Medicare, Social Security & The Deficit," National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, September 2011 Leftwing thinktank moveon link.
    4. "Michael Moore says 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined," Politifact Wisconsin, March 10, 2011 Michael More on Politifact as quoted by moveon
    5. "Fact: 4 job seekers per opening in U.S.," CNN, September 12, 2011 CNN Moveon Link
    6. "Median household income," Wikipedia, Accessed November 22, 2011 Wikipedia Moveon Link
    7. "Occupy movement: police reaction in pictures," The Guardian, November 21, 2011 The Guardian (uk) Moveon Link
    8. "Occupy Demonstrators Mark Two Months of Protests," NPR, November 17, 2011 National Public Radio Moveon Link
    9. "Occupy Oakland protesters assist in cleanup efforts," News 10 ABC, November 3, 2011 Oakland News 10 ABC Moveon Link
    10. "Economic Downturn and Bush Policies Continue to Drive Large Projected Deficits," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, May 10, 2011 'nother leftwing think tank
    11. "Income Inequality Is At An All-Time High: STUDY," The Huffington Post, September 14, 2009 Huffington Post

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Why should I trust a man who can't keep marriage vows?

    Sorry ladies, I'm leaving you entirely out of this post. Spurred by Newt Gingrich's campaign: I understand the concept of forgiveness. Of second chances. And third chances. And thirteenth chances. *But*- each chance makes trust harder. Each attempt, needs more effort. And when it comes to important stuff like my mortgage or who I vote for- I have to ask why I should trust a man who is paying alimony because he can't stay within his marriage vows. Such a man is simply not worthy of my trust. At all. And he needs to do something truly extraordinary to reverse it. Sorry Newt- you've done nothing making you worthy of being President. Obama hasn't either- but at least he could stay married to one woman.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    This is a test

    This is a test of various ways to connect Facebook to Blogspot. This is only a test. Anything else you may have heard is entirely false. But apparently, the connection between RSS feeds and notes in Facebook is going away. I'm using the RSS Grafiti app instead. It's what I use to import blogs for Our Peaceful Place, and I just found out I can set it up to import to my wall as well. With any luck, in the next 24-48 hours I'll see this post on my facebook page twice- once as a note, once as a summary.

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Can we replace the government with church?

    Among small-government conservatives, a dream exists. A dream in which instead of paying taxes to Washington DC, we give to our local churches, who in turn take care of the poor, the sick, the troubled. It's an interesting dream. But is it feasible? Mark Grey of CARA, that is the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate crunches the numbers- and finds that we'd have to *significantly* increase collections to even come close. The average registered Catholic Family only gives $10/week through the Church. Maybe $10 billion nationwide. The US Government spends nearly a trillion on social welfare- the Church would be $990 billion short. Only if Charity is a Duty instead of a Choice could this stand any chance of working.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Happy Hallowmas

    I wasn't going to write this until next year- but finding several excellent articles on Hallowmas, which eventually became Halloween, All Saint's Day, and All Soul's day; I just had to write a blog posting on it. Since today is November 1st, it is appropriate to lead off with this excellent article from UCatholic on the history of the Solemnity of All Saints- how, during the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian. the number of martyrs exceeded the number of days in the calendar- and so diocese began to celebrate common days to remember their local martyrs. In the Fourth Century, as Christians began to clash with Northern European Druids, a bright evangelist recognized the similarity between the Druid Feast of Summer's End- Samhain- and the Communion of Saints, and so Hallowmas was born. It was another 600 years before the feast of All Saints finally removed the Druid death feasts, a remnant being trick-or-treating, which started with the Hallowmas tradition of groups of mourners going around begging soul cakes. The modern world has a peculiar problem with Catholicism. Few acknowledge that such a thing as “sin” exists. But an occult delight surges in many souls over the frequent aberrations of believers. The denial of sin is what the Communion of Saints is designed to combat- Hallowmas teaches us not only that sin exists- but that forgiveness for sin exists, and that we too (even kids!) can be inspired to lead holy lives regardless of our past sins. The Saints are torches sent by God to illuminate our dark world. How fitting that we celebrate Hallowmas at this time of the year, as the darkness grows and the days grow shorter! We must indeed pray that the Saints should Teach us what they know. Eventually, for some Catholics, even the history got lost and it began to appear that the pagans were co-opting OUR holiday. Even the liturgies of this time, whether the traditional Dies Irae Gregorian Chant or the later "Legimus in ecclesiasticis historiis" sermon are meant to make us one with the Saints- one with the dead- reminding us Tempus Fugit Memento Mori- Time Flies, Remember Death- that this life is short. It is for this reason that Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the real meaning behind Hallowmas is the mission of the Church- the salvation of souls. Not quite the blog posting I meant to write- and next year, I'll write a better one on my understanding of the Christianization of Pagan rituals. But quite a bit of information none the less.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Usury causes abortion

    Usury leads to poverty of the spirit, both for borrower and lender. For the borrower, it also leads to poverty of the pocketbook. In both cases though, it puts the lie "she who dies with the most toys, wins" into the mainstream. Abortion, now that rape, incest, and medical conditions have been thoroughly discredited, is largely about poverty of the spirit: Being unwilling to share your toys with a child you are the biological parent of. This goes both for the socialite rich teenager whose father doesn't want the scandal of a pregnant teenager in the family, and the poor single mom who has to choose between birth for another child or feeding the ones she has. Likewise, quite often the original sexual union that produces an "unwanted" child is using another person as a toy- for recreational sexual gratification- and this too is poverty of the spirit. Thus Usury, and all of it's attendant ripples in society, is one of the major causes of abortion.

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Liars, Damn Liars, and Statistics

    Yes, this is from a liberal-leaning newspaper with a decidedly anti-Catholic bias especially on the child sex scandals, where they're perfectly willing to say, hold the Pope responsible for some priest hired by the Jesuits working in a native Eskimo village in Northern Alaska; but not willing to do the same with the President of the United States and a schoolteacher in Montana. But having said that- this article on things everybody thinks they know, is extremely interesting.

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Flat Earth Thinking on a Sphere

    Flat Earth Friedman is back this time claiming that it's a good thing that the US Senate is putting a scare into China- "But, Lord in heaven, do not let the House pass this bill. That would trigger a trade war in the middle of our Great Recession." What good ole Thomas- who fails to be as skeptical as his namesake- has failed to notice is that we've BEEN in a full fledged trade war for 40 years- a war of the elite globalists like himself against the average American worker. And for 40 years, we've been losing- and that debt, that massive, massive trade debt built out of 40 years of trade deficits, is the primary cause of the Great Recession. China has it right. We decry their protectionism- but that's exactly what we *should* be doing ourselves. We don't need to get China to stop revaluing their currency to their interests, as much as we would like to. We need to revalue OUR currency to OUR interests in defense. We don't need China to open their market- we need to close our market. Because China has the right idea. And we don't need any more flat earthers here.

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Don't just do something- Stand There!

    It appears that the GOP has adopted this as their new economic slogan. But they're not the only ones- remember all those $600 Trillion in Derivatives that brought Lehman Brothers down and started the Great Recession? Turns out that instead of unraveling these CDOs and other exotic banking products, all that has been done is to concentrate them into five large American banks. And those are the same banks that the Occupy Protest is now targeting for massive deposit withdrawals. Can you say "double dip depression"?

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Free Trade Again

    And they're back. Four rich people making an argument about how they should be allowed to grow richer off of free trade, on the same page as the ultimate example of why workers will NEVER profit from increased business. Free trade is the tool psychopaths have used to drain the wealth of America for 40 years. Stop believing the lie.

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    The real systemic seeds of depression

    I see the government and corporations as one and the same, since every politician I can name, got elected on corporate campaign contributions. I don't see the corporations as private businesses. A private business is one guy on his own property with no employees (or only occasional contracted help, who themselves are self-employed) turning out a product which he then sells directly to consumers (the web has brought back many such businesses, and in 1776, such businesses compromised over 90% of the American economy). As soon as the business has employees, it becomes a government- the business is governing over private decisions- which is why the state and federal governments require corporate charters and corporate governance regulations. The current depression was caused by relaxing those regulations for political purposes, both on the left (Democrats wanting more home and property ownership for minorities and the poor) and on the right (Republican destruction of banking regulations and lowering taxes on unreasonable income). The principle of subsidiarity covers this. "To preserve the dignity of man, all economic and law making decisions should be made by the smallest number of people possible, in jurisdiction over the smallest population of people possible" says one USCCB article on the subject. Too bad Article I Section 8 of the US Constitution puts "interstate commerce" under the jurisdiction of the federal congress, and Article I Section 10 keeps the states from doing the normal protectionist measures that a state, county, or city previous to the American revolution would use take to prevent class warfare. Without the principle of subsidiarity, we lose the natural right of association; which usually inspires an overgrowth of people expressing the right of solidarity. The Tea Party on the Right and the Occupy Protests on the Left, are merely examples of people using solidarity to attack the lack of subsidiarity. The problem goes far deeper than any one politician, or any one ideology- it is built into the Constitution itself, and how that Constitution has been interpreted over the last 175 years or so by the Supreme Court.

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Hope and Change- for both HFA's and their parents

    Two very interesting articles on autism today. The first is hope for all of us HFAs trained in high technology- it seems that companies are now actively recruiting Aspies, having noticed the particular traits of these engineers bring cost savings to a development team that neurotypicals simply cannot match, especially in the areas of testing, debugging, and test-driven development. The second is the realization and conversion of a mother from the cure side of the debate to the neurotypical side, realizing that maybe sometimes an ounce of prevention is worth fifty pounds of ineffective cures. This is a significant political swing to the neurodiversity side of the debate- one that will allow for more adult HFAs to realize their potential.

    Being Skeptical of Science is being a good Scientist

    This rather interesting posting about modern politics, religion, and science comes close, but rather misses the bulls-eye of the target. Yes, it's true that some politicians seem to feel the best way to protect religion is to be skeptical of scientific claims until they are proven beyond any shadow of doubt. And it's doubly true that every rational religion requires several centuries worth of scientific evidence before they will allow science to affect doctrine. But what everybody is missing is that being skeptical about science, IS science. Skepticism is the scientific method at ti's best, requiring strong evidence to change the model of the universe as we know it, before we act upon new theories we need experimentation to prove whether or not the experiment is true. And thus we should praise the skeptical politician who say, believes in theistic evolution (the idea that God uses the radiation of the sun and natural elements to mandate experimental mutations in species, then uses the familiar concept of survival of the fittest to weed out bad experiments). Or who, noticing that we've now passed the tipping point for melting tundra releasing greenhouse gases, declares the whole AGW vs NGCC climate debate moot (in that, even if AGW caused it, it's now too late to stop NGCC, so we'd better stop arguing and figure out how to roll with the punches that Natural Global Chaotic Climate Change is going to throw at us anyway).

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Is Free Trade Good?

    A response to a letter to the editor in the Oregonian today: It has been 40 years since international trade was profitable for the United States. Repeated trade deficits have been in the papers and on the news for my entire life. America holds $16 Trillion in consumer and governmental debt on a GDP of only $13.5 trillion. Suzanne Bonamici gets that- John Wilkins does not. He repeats David Ricardo's Comparative Advantage theory- that while America could make everything we need right here in the United States, it's better to import cheaper goods from elsewhere. That mathematical model may be sound- but it has not matched reality in 40 years, and because of it we have a permanent 10% unemployment rate, invasive species ruining our waterways and farmland, and greater debt. I would much rather have a Tesla Motors factory here, and have Intel make my cell phone from the atom chip up to the Meego operating system, than continue to live with the problems of International Trade. Restrict trade down to just intellectual property, and stop wasting energy to ship matter internationally.

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Temple Grandin on how to raise a successful autistic

    Hidden in this article on labels and the damage and good they can do is a useful gem for any parent of an autistic. Yes, encourage obsessions. But also encourage children to stretch in their obsessions. Did Temple's mother notice her daughter's affinity for animals before sending her to the aunt's farm? Maybe- but that week on the farm was the push Temple needed to turn an obsession into a career. I similarly remember my first computer- a TI-99/4A. It had a cartridge slot- but my parents wouldn't buy me any games. I had to loved the computer- but had to learn to program if I was going to have any games. I remember my first three games, very primitive- an adaptation of the infamous Space War (typed in from '99er Magazine! Then modified until I ran out of memory!), a choose-your-own-adventure I came up with on my own about strawberry fields (errors in that program taught me the proper use of if-then-else and variables, especially since I hated typing long words on the 40 key keyboard and I kept misspelling the variable that held the score and wondered why the score wasn't adding up properly), and a plane-vs-tank shoot up similar to Space Invaders (but with only one target that would speed up and slow down at random). Each of these were stored on cassette tapes, and sounded like punk rock music while loading.

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    OPP Indian Dinner

    Do you like Curry? Would you like to do something about the Homeless? Come to the Our Peaceful Place Benefit Dinner, October 22, 2011, at 6pm. Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 14175 NW Cornell Rd, Portland, OR 97229. Suggested donation $15 for individuals, $50 for families, $500 for a business to sponsor a table. For tickets- email

    Friday, September 30, 2011


    Fire can be good, Fire can be bad. Good fires, burn up what we don't want and give us heat. Firewood, garbage, unwanted vegetation. Sometimes in the past, unwanted and dangerous people. Bad fires, burn up what is good- houses, businesses, material we need for some other purpose. This applies to the imagery of the Catholic afterlife as well- the good fire of purgatory burns away what is left of our sin- so that Heaven can be preserved *as heaven* for other people. The bad fire of Hell burns up all but the sin, leaving us alone with our sin for eternity. It also applies to our own behavior here on earth- passion is said to burn, but there is both the passion of sin, which takes pleasure in the moment to destroy our lives in the long run, and the passion of virtue, which takes pain in the moment to make our lives better in the long run. A long time ago, I noticed that evil is stupid- for it destroys what is most profitable in the long run. This also applies to economics- for instance Communism, which seeks to eliminate inequity at the cost of the one thing that can bring equity, private property. And Capitalism, which seeks inequity and so destroys the very right that brings equity, the right of private property, for the poor. Communists see the inequity and blame the private property, capitalists see the private property and blame the equity. For the fire of life burns in us all- some for good, some for evil- but all still burn.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Our Peaceful Place does wonderful things

    Our Peaceful Place Annual Benefit Dinner Appeal from Our Peaceful Place on Vimeo.

    Watch the video. Then come to the dinner! Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Beaverton on Cornell, October 22nd, 6pm. $15 for individuals, $50 for families, $500 for businesses that want to sponsor a table. All the Indian Curry you can eat! All food is donated, so every penny goes to our work with the homeless!

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Don't know much about History?

    Just came across a couple of interesting Alternative Histories. Did the Crusades happen when and where you think they did?

    And if this has you doubting your history and running to the books to disprove Michael Voris (like it did me) only to find out that every historical fact was fact, then what about this?

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    An imagined conversation between a random post-modern Protestant and Christ

    Here's an imagined conversation between a random post-modern American Protestant and Jesus Christ- on things Christ Got Wrong:

    First off I’d like to thank you Jesus for saving me by dying on the Cross. I know you suffered a lot for me. Of course those silly Catholics think that just because we’re supposed to be like you suffering has a purpose.

    Which reminds me I think it’s time that we rebooted your franchise. It’s been 1500+ years and your brand could use a refresh.We’ve grown a lot since your time and so we’ve come up with Christianity 2.0, those Papists call it Protestantism, which fixes the problems with the old Christianity.

    Like that eat your flesh thing. I mean really. Did you have to say it so many times? What were you thinking? You can’t have really meant it because after all we’re not cannibals. Clearly your Apostles got it wrong when they taught everyone that the Eucharist was really you. But then they weren’t as educated as we are.

    Even you admit that a lot of your disciples went away over that whole eat my flesh thing. So we’re going with the less offensive symbolic interpretation of Communion. Help grow the brand for sure. And if we don’t have to do anything to be saved other than accept you who needs a continual source of grace anyway?

    I mean when you boiled the law down to two rules, love God and love your neighbor, the second part was just to keep the crime rate down right? Clearly how we treat our neighbor doesn’t have anything to do with being saved it’s all about loving you.

    Also this race we’re running thing and having to be ready all the time is hard on people. We don’t want to have to work for salvation after all. You did it all for us right? Doesn’t every good parent do everything for their children even when they’re grown up?

    That line in James; he put that in when you were tied up with some crisis right and with no white out yet what could you do? Having to work for salvation is going to put off a lot of people and we can’t have that.

    Which leads me to the whole confession thing. I mean it’s really too much to ask people to reveal their most embarrassing failures to some stranger. I know you said that you gave the power to forgive sins to the Church but come on. Sure talking to a priest makes you really confront your failures but in the modern world we can’t let anyone feel like they’ve made a mistake can we? Anyway once we accept you there’s no need for forgiveness since we’re saved no matter what right?

    That’s why we’re changing your position on divorce. It’s so two millennia ago. Look we’re no better than the Jews and without the Sacraments we don’t have any sources of grace they didn’t so how can you hold us to a tougher standard? Besides if marriage isn’t a Sacrament then you’re really not putting anyone together right?

    As to that Church you established. We’ve learned that diversity is good so I’m sure you’ll be happy with our new concept of Church. Sure it’s hard to find any two denominations that agree on much of anything but that’s the beauty of diversity! Certainly you’ve got to be happier with everyone following their own version of what you said rather than what those lockstep Catholics are up to. After all you wouldn’t want to stifle anyone’s creativity would you?

    We’re really glad that another Christianity 2.0 concept, Sola Scriptura, does such a bang up job fostering that diversity. Clearly your words are sufficiently unclear by themselves that there’s no way that people can get forced into a uniform set of beliefs. After all even though the Bible says that most of what you did isn’t in the Bible it seems obvious to us that if you didn’t bother to have someone write it down what you did it couldn’t have been very important.

    Further we know that we’re smart enough on our own to figure out anything you said. It’s not like your word is so deep that it isn’t always intuitive. In any case I’m sure that when you sent your followers out to teach all the nations you really meant they should just pass out Bibles, er well at least once there was a Bible to pass out.

    Finally in order to ensure that Christianity 2.0 is always fresh we’ve decided that morality should grow with society.

    Artificial Birth Control and Abortion were wrong even in Christianity 2.0 until 80 years ago but with the new adaptability we’ve built into the core of Christianity 2.0 we can change on a dime and declare them to be great!

    Women ministers and active homosexuality are other examples of how you have to update your teachings to stay relevant.

    If you keep sticking with this absolute morality thing you won’t have anyone listening to you.

    Well this has been great. I’m glad I could take this opportunity to explain how we’ve improved on what you left us. We love you a lot and we’re glad we can be of assistance!

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Why Tom E. Woods is wrong

    This post on the Distributist Review, reminded me of Tom Woods' review of Caritas In Veritate in Taki's Magazine, in which he claims that the Holy Father has no say in economics at all.

    But if we Catholics are to believe in a monarchy of God's Kingdom at all- with Jesus Christ as the Once and Future King- then His Kingship *should* rule over *all* of our lives, not just some. Therefore, perhaps long before we consider monetary policy, we need to consider what use an economy is at all- and what we want out of it. Only with the end in sight, can we plan a way to get there.

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Two GOP economic myths debunked

    First, it's a myth that 47% of Americans don't pay taxes- 86% do, it's just that it isn't all federal income tax. Which led me to ask, are there any other crony capitalist myths used by the GOP to get social conservatives like myself to vote for billionaires? Turns out there's no job creation in the 10 years of Bush tax cuts, which means trickle down economics no longer works.

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Liberty Abused

    A very interesting article today in the Washington Examiner- showing the strong link between rich neo-conservative libertarian capitalists, and same-sex marriage. It appears that homosexual liberals in New York State, have rich Wall Street Republicans to thank for putting the money behind their movement, that overruled the people (after all, when you put same-sex marriage to the popular vote, it always fails) and bought several legislators to get it passed.

    This explains why many conservative Catholics in the New York Legislature voted for same-sex marriage. This explains why the right to private property so often seems abused on Wall Street. This is why our religious liberty is being abused- because certain people at the top believe freedom and liberty means the right to do whatever they want, regardless of who else it hurts. This is liberty, abused. No different than abusing cocaine.

    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    I've done it again

    What will it take to prove to Those who worship capitalism that maybe, just maybe, Christ wanted something better for us? That maybe, just maybe, Christ wanted a system where the POOR rule, and the RICH can choose between political power and money but not both?

    I've gotten kicked off the Acton Institute Powerblog because they have no faith in Christ, only faith in Capitalism.

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Good place to get cheap bulk food

    Under $1/serving, IF you order in major bulk They have an introductory $10/12 servings deal, and their 400 serving deal goes down to under $.88/meal. For you survivalists out there, I can't find a better deal.

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Still Learning

    Don't trade liberty for security they say. Well here's why- there is no such thing as security in the United States anymore. Not for individuals anyway, not economic security.

    Yes, I've lost another contract.

    Be a programmer, you'll never go hungry. Well, I guess I won't, but only because I've invested in tangibles- my latest being a smoker so that I can preserve the fish and game I catch.

    At least now I'll have time to catch up of Knights of Columbus stuff and my boat hobby. Of course, now I don't have the money. I wonder what used car batteries go for on craigslist?

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Busy, busy, June

    Here it is the end of June, and I hadn't published a single crazy idea this month. Mainly because I've been busy making one of my crazy ideas a reality- a Knights of Columbus Council at ultra-liberal, ultra-progressive St. Clare's Catholic Church in Portland, OR. They've got a Dignity Chapter, they've got a men's club for the school, they've even got a group of older men who do something called the "Men's Morning of Reflection", but nothing for the common male parishoner who is slightly more conservative. And our eucharistic minister schedule shows it- it's about 75% female.

    Orthodox guys at St. Clare's are being scared away from the faith- and that's why I believe we need a Knights council there.

    In other crazy news- V2.0 of my experiments towards a solar electric boat will be ready for sea testing (well, small shallow bay testing anyway, and Detroit Lake testing) in time for my vacations at the end of July @ Nehalem Bay and Detroit Lake. I'll be running a 24 lb Thrust motor (MinnKota) this year, off of two batteries, and towing rubber rafts with my fishing catamaran. We will attempt crabbing with this setup again. But I've learned my lesson from last year- such a setup catches the wind *very* easily, and rowing against the wind is hard. I'll have two car batteries on board so that I can switch when one runs out, plus a 15W solar panel that could run the motor at half speed all by itself. This is in prep for my dream houseboat I want to build someday.

    As for crazy political ideas- only one I've had recently. If so many people want to sell their goods in the United States or immigrate here, why bother moving the people or the goods? Why not just annex their country and move the United States to them?

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Update on the Muwahiddun and Islamic Theology

    Recently, in arguing the difference between Five Pillar Muslims and Six Pillar Islamics, I had an opportunity to do some more research in the area that started with my previous post Why the Muwahiddun Sect of Islam is Dangerous. If you haven't read that, this won't make much sense. But if you have, I've got more information on the true War of Reformation in Islam.

    Islam schismed very early, within a couple of hundred years after the death of Mohammed. This diagram shows the standard, what we might call orthodox schools of Islamic Thought:

    These are all Five Pillar schools of thought- in that they hold to the five precepts that every Muslim must do in their lifetime to be a good Muslim. Shahada (Professing Monotheism), Salat (the five daily prayers), Sawm (fasting at prescribed times), Zakāt (Charity to the less fortunate), and Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca). Despite other differences, these are the ONLY five things a Muslim must do by the primary sects, schools, and orders.

    Note that the first diagram does NOT include the Muwahiddun. Muwahiddun are very different. They are six pillar muslims. They take Shahada to an extreme, claiming the only authority of truth is Allah and that Allah can change his mind at a whim. They also add Jihad- Just War- to their beliefs. And not just Jihad as proclaimed by the other schools, under much consideration from legitimate authority with the first tactic to be used in all cases of diplomacy. No, the Muwahiddun claim that Jihad can be declared by the individual.

    There are two major schools of Muwahiddun- the Wahabbi and the Druze. The Wahhabi were formed primarily in reaction to the House of Saud taking over the "Holy Peninsula" of Saudi Arabia, where Mecca is- and allowing in non-Muslim tourists and foreign businesses. Thus, al Qaida's main thrust is NOT in fact, to destroy all of the non-Arabic world, but merely to free the Holy Peninsula from what they see as unjust actions by foreign invaders, including US oil companies.

    The Druze, or Muwahiddun al Tawhid as they prefer, are more interesting. They are a sect that sprung up in the 11th century, and while they do subscribe to Tawhid (the extremist form of Shahada), they do seem willing to listen to legitimate authority. They have some Christian Gnostic influence in their theology, separating the world of flesh from the world of the spirit, and thus, are able to handle secular authority better than their Wahhabist cousins. Druze have served on both sides of the Arab-Israeli wars, mainly for Syria which they have been protecting since Crusader days, but also for Lebanon and Israel. Yes, despite being Islamic in Origin- many Israeli Druze have served honorably in the Israeli Defense Forces.

    What this goes to show is that Islam, in general, is NOT as monolithic as most people think. And in comparison to their older cousins, the violent Wahhabi Muwahiddun are a very small minority. In the long run, I think they will continue to be a small minority, and as I said in the last post on this topic, one day they'll be as rare as Oneness Pentecostals are in Christianity.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Is Free Will, abused, Original Sin?

    It may be the Asperger's. It may be that while I'm quite intelligent, a 156 IQ is not enough to understand high theology.

    But "the stain of Original sin" seems to be defined in the Church more by what it is NOT, than what it IS.

    It's not sex, though that's an easy mistake to make from the common version of the story of Adam and Eve.

    It isn't women- though a woman is said to have brought it into the world, that's only an allegorical myth.

    It isn't even, strictly speaking, disobedience, though that too plays a role.

    But here's my thought- and it might only be because I'm finally, at 40, growing some scrupulosity. And because I live in a country with a culture that everywhere you look, somebody is abusing freedom to commit evils and crimes against his fellow man, instead of working together.

    Original Sin is the Abuse of Free Will. It is the use of free will, regardless of original intent, to harm another human being. Note I didn't say a person- Roe Vs Wade is a part of the "freedom of choice" and thus an exercise in free will.

    All human sin, intentional and otherwise, springs from this; use of the will to harm another.

    So am I right? Is the use of liberty to commit evil Original Sin? If so, many previous generations were less sinful than we are.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Military Prejudice, Exported to American Culture

    Or the history of American psychiatry as a snake-oil scam. This isn't meant to put down those who need services- this is meant to show how we got to a point where there are very few sane people and increasing numbers of insane people with every revision of the Diagnostic and Statistician's Manual For Mental Disorders.

    The Diagnostic and Statistician's Manual of Mental Disorders, got it's start way back in 1952, due to the extreme involvement of psychiatrists in draft boards during WWII and Korea. Originally called the "Medical 203 War Department Technical Bulletin", the DSM-I had gone through revisions pushed by the US Navy and the Army, attempting to express "present day concepts of mental disturbance". In 1949, the World Health Organization of the United Nations pulbished ICD-1, the first International Statistical Classification of Disease, which became the numbering system for the DSM-I, which was approved in 1951 and published in 1952. Upon it's publication, it became the gold standard by which Americans were judged to be sane or insane.

    The DSM-I was 130 pages long, listing 106 mental disorders, most of which were tuned to "what makes a soldier unfit for combat". Those of us who remember the early years of the TV Sitcom "MASH" will remember the first time the characters of Klinger and Dr. Sidney Freedman met- and the DSM-I was used to fill out Klinger's original Section 8, including transvestitism and homosexuality as his mental illnesses.

    The DSM-II was published in 1968, with now 182 disorders and 4 more pages. Symtoms were more detailed, and the American Psychiatry Association adopted it as their manual, applying the new defintion of normal and abnormal to the rest of America for the first time. It also first split diagnosis into neurosis and psychosis, chiefly on a subjective definition of reality and connection of the patient to reality, but no clear boundary between normality and abnormality was drawn.

    Due to the studies of Alfred Kinsey and Evelyn Hooker, as well as several protests at APA meetings by gay rights activists, the 7th printing of the DSM-II dropped homosexuality as a disorder and replaced it with the category of "sexual orientation disturbance" in 1974.

    For those of us on the autistic spectrum though- 1974 was also the year when the APA decided that a new revision was necessary, and so over the next six years the DSM-III was written. When it was published in 1980, autism was almost an unknown disorder, often misdiagnosed as schizophrenia or something within that grouping of psychosis. The DSM-III changed that to an official mental illness of it's own, and homosexuality once again became "Ego-dystonic homosexuality", now downgraded to a neurosis not indicitive of mental illness. The DSM-III now contained 494 pages and 265 separate diagnostic categories. It brought about a revolution in psychiatry, and caused the beginning of "medical psychiatry". But we weren't done yet.

    In 1987, the DSM-III-R was published, now up to 292 diagnosis in 567 pages. PMDD and Masochistic Personality Disorder were considered, but were too "normal" and thus discarded. Homosexuality became "sexual disorder not otherwise specified" which can contain "persistent and marked distress about one's sexual orientation" (gee, I thought that was supposed to be caused by religion). Fewere people yet considered normal- and psychiatry became big bisuness. But autism was still a 1:10,000 disorder at this time.

    In 1994, autism got new attention in the DSM-IV. With 297 disorders and 886 pages, it was becoming quite the thick tome. Masochistic Personality Disorder was back- but now as Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), a diagnosis familiar to many of us older high functioning autistics, for this was often our first label before being refined down as Asperger's Syndrome; based on some archeology done by Lorna Wing in 1981 and Uta Frith in 1991. Dr. Hans Asperger has originally written his paper in 1944, but was accused under the Nazi eugenics policies of the era as coddling his "little professors", his paper was not widely read outside of Germany at the time. Sure enough- soon afterwards we saw autism diagnosis take another leap forward, to the 1:1000 range.

    In 2000, the DSM-IV-TR ("Text Revision") brought Asperger's and PDD-NOS officially under the umbrella of the Autism Spectrum- as well as ADD and ADHD, and sure enough we took another leap in the number of mentally ill- within three years "Autism Speaks" and other parental cure organizations would be formed, and due to the more specific diagnosis updated to maintain consistency with the international ICD-9 publication, autism would become a 1:100 disorder, with a full 1% of Americans diagnosed with it. The DSM-IV-TR has 365 diagnosis, and is more than 1000 pages long. The 200% increase in number of disorders since the DSM-I has been pushed for mainly by drug compainies, who wish to sell all sorts of snake-oil treatments fo DSM-IV-TR disorders. There's also a lot of co-morbidity involved, which indicates to me that we're well into the range of giving multiple diagnoses for the same set of behaviors. There also seems to be some prejudice and politics involved, as for instance elsewhere in the world homosexuality is still considered a mental illness, yet there's now a push for Oppositional Defiance Disorder to become a mental illness- exhibited primarily by toddlers and teenagers. Gee, who doesn't oppose authority figures at that time in a normal human life?

    In 2013, the DSM-5 (they've dropped the Roman numeral in the latest drafts to be sent out over the APA's website) includes the deletion of several types of schizophrenia, so the ratio of psychoses to neruosis will change. But there is further anti-male and anti-intellectual bias as Asperger's Syndrome becomes HFA- High Functioning Autism- and ADD/ADHD/ODD give teachers a new way to segregate students they don't like and label them with autism.

    My prediction- in 2013, autism will become a 1:50 mental illness due to this. And the "epidemic", caused by nothing more than further segregating human brains into little boxes, will continue, until the plutoarchs at the top keep the military regiments at the bottom behaving as nice little soldiers, drugged into normalcy so that they can never rebel.

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    The Three Types of Just Taxation

    The last in my series on Subsidiarity and the Culture of Death.

    Just taxation, should be all from just three sources: Tariffs, Tribute, and User Fees.

    Property owners, Business owners, and certain others use the majority of services that Governments have as absolute duties.

    Property owners first- Tribute. This is mainly about police services, social services, and the commons within a community. As such- counties and cities should rightly collect this tax- and no higher form of government should be involved in the initial collection. Local property taxes should do.

    Then business owners- small businesses are good for government, as they reduce the need for social services. But big businesses are bad for government- they externalize costs to the rest of the community, and this is where Tariffs come into play. Counties and cities, once again, should be the primary collectors of this tax at their borders. This can be done with toll roads.

    Finally- Usage taxes. Special services such as parks and recreation departments, should be operated just like any other business- and charge for admission.

    I'm not precluding higher forms of government- they too have their purposes, especially in a modern federal democracy- but I would like to see them limited in collecting their taxes in Tribute and Tariff- tribute by taxing the revenue of smaller governments in their jurisdiction, tariff at their borders.

    I believe that by applying subsidiarity to taxes, we will begin to have a much more just government. And that's what the government SHOULD be about- Justice.

    Roe V. Wade destroys Subsidiarity

    Bet you thought Roe V. Wade was only about abortion. It isn't. Oh, abortion is what it is known for- but it had a secondary effect.

    It expanded the Interstate Commerce Clause to Intrastate Commerce.

    It claims that Congress has the right to regulate business transactions that occur entirely internally to a State. This is a MAJOR grab of federal power- and while not the first, prevents lower and smaller government from taking absolute power locally.

    Subsidiarity is a Catholic ethical concept that can be simply stated as "Big Government creates corruption, so any just duty of government should be carried out with the smallest economic unit of government available". Austrian economists have a tendency to agree- that's what SMALL government is all about.

    So therefore- even pro-choice libertarians, should seek the reversal of Roe V. Wade. Not because it's against abortion- but because it's against subsidiarity.

    5% for Debt, 5% for Life

    This will be the first of three articles- and this is the only realistic one- on how to move from the culture of greed, culture of death we currently have, to a culture of justice as far as taxes are concerned. A recent post on facebook got me thinking about this in a new way for me; on why consumption taxes are more just than income taxes, but like the gay agenda, I do not believe the evidence leads to the conclusion most libertarians and fiscal conservatives think it does- because like usual, these groups are thinking "what's my situation and how can I move the pain to somebody else?" when what we should be really thinking is "how can we band together as Americans, and make this sustainable for all?".

    My fellow Americans, we have a debt habit. We are being unjust to our own future, charging ahead on the credit cards our children will have to pay. And we're making sure there are fewer children- so each child will not only have to pay for his parents, but also for his neighbors and people he never met who selfishly had no children of their own.

    Within current law, I'd like to reverse this, with three minor changes to the tax law- three for life, one for debt. And thus I present the plan: 5% for Debt, 5% for Life.

    1. 5% for Debt. As I showed in my previous post; Do you think your taxes are to high? 5% increase across all tax brackets is a lot more affordable than it seems, because of how tax brackets work. In good years- 5% is the deficit. So here's my proposal- for every percentage point under 8% average unemployment falls for the year, every tax bracket goes up 1% on federal income taxes- with all of that money earmarked specifically for debt reduction. And Family Planning under Title X should be seen for what it is- a luxury cost that reduces the number of people we're going to need working to pay off this debt.

    2. 5% for Life- put WIC under FICA, raise FICA Taxes 5%, remove the upper cap on FICA entirely. Every American citizen between the ages of conception to age 5, and 75 to Natural Death, should be considered unable to work but valuable just for being human- and thus the rest of us should pay for the "least of these", those must vulnerable to being killed for a profit. And since this effectively grants personhood rights to the unborn- that reverses part of Roe V. Wade under the 14th Amendment.

    Every conservative libertarian should be able to go for this- as should every progressive, because it's hard to progress to the future if you don't have a future.

    Next I'll explain why, despite this being unjust, Roe V. Wade gives us no choice but to attack from this angle.

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    A Modest Plan to fix Social Security and the Economy

    The Economic Cost of Abortion and the generation immediately preceding it is staggering. The lost of 30% of Generation X & Y has caused a major depression, and by 2037, Social Security will be flat broke.

    Here is a modest, four step proposal to fix the problem:

    Step 1. Make FICA a flat tax on all earnings, with no cap.
    Step 2. Raise retirement age for non-disability payments to 88.
    Step 3. Make abortion illegal.
    Step 4. Issue 12 million green cards for illegal aliens already living here, and 42 million green cards for new immigrants, to replace our working age population murdered by abortion.

    How Rob Bell Brought Evangelicals closer to Catholicism

    Though this is a review of Rob Bell's Book Love Wins, I'm going to start out with six much more Catholic Quotes:

    "The Bible, sacred Tradition, and the writings of the earliest Christians testify that the Church teaches with Jesus’ authority. In this age of countless competing religions, each clamoring for attention, one voice rises above the din: the Catholic Church, which the Bible calls "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). " Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth, Catholic Answers

    "The need for integrity obviously becomes necessary after death, for entering into perfect and complete communion with God. Those who do not possess this integrity must undergo purification. This is suggested by a text of St Paul. The Apostle speaks of the value of each person's work which will be revealed on the day of judgement and says: "If the work which any man has built on the foundation [which is Christ] survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Cor 3: 14-15)." - Pope John Paul II, on Purgatory, in his great series of homilies on the subjects of the last things, John Paul II on Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory

    "I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of
    love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always
    and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to
    excuse yourself from it (Diary, 742)." Diary of St Faustina of Poland, who had private revelations from Jesus and Mary on the subject of Divine Mercy.

    Dare We Hope that "All Men May Be Saved"- a quote from a title, Fr. Hans Urs von Balthazar, a Swiss theologian who was writing about this way back in the 1980s and 1990s

    "Maybe the greatest threat to the Church is not heresy, not dissent, not secularism, not even moral relativism, but this sanitized, feel-good, boutique, therapeutic spirituality that makes no demands, calls for no sacrifice, asks for no conversion, entails no battle against sin, but only soothes and affirms." -Archbishop Timothy Dolan, apparently in a tweet from his blog

    "If you stay on the Bus, 'tis Hell. If you Get Off the Bus, 'twas but Purgatory"- bus driver in The Great Divorce by CS Lewis.

    Now that I'm done with my five quotes- on to Rob Bell's Book, Love Wins. First, you should know I'm biased- a faithful orthodox Catholic following the teachings of the soon-to-be-beatified John Paul The Great, who was the Pope for the majority of my life. As such, I truly do believe that the Roman Catholic Church has the Fullness of the Truth of Christ- and that while other religions and other denominations have bits and pieces of partial truth, Only the Mother Church has the "big picture" of Christendom, and thus, Western Civilization.

    Pastor Bell's book merely confirmed this for me. He's closer to the truth than most of his fire-and-brimstone TV-show-and-8000-seat-church pastors out there, that's for sure. He has at least come to the completely correct conclusion that a God of Perfect Mercy and Perfect Love does NOT sentence people to Hell for eternity- that when that door is locked, it's locked from the inside, by people who don't understand God very well. He has returned from the predestination-ism of Calvin and the Puritans to the "soft universalism" that the Catholic Church has taught for the last 2000 years; Hell exists, we can see it every day in our fellow men, but we have no definite teaching that ANYBODY, not even Judas, has been left there for eternity (though that's a danger, as Pastor Bell's book says, of getting into the habit of rejecting God's story in favor of our own).

    But he's missing some details. And they're not insignificant details either.

    The most glaring detail he's missing, and it's because he's come from an evangelical background, is HISTORY. He's got the message of Christ right. He's got the conclusion correct. But he's missing 2000 years worth of debate about the subject, and even goes so far as to deem history irrelevant to the conversation, more than once claiming that "time doesn't repeat itself". Maybe not exactly, but history does indeed teach that those who don't learn the lessons of history- are bound to repeat the same mistakes. Which leads us to one of the MAJOR mistakes of the Protestant Reformation that hampered Bell in writing this book.

    Without a good understanding of Purgatory- NONE of us, even with the grace of Christ, deserve Heaven. You can be the best Christian ever. You could follow in the very footsteps of Christ with all he did. But God isn't just Perfect Mercy, he's Perfect Love- and that means TOUGH love, which includes Perfect Justice. NOBODY can come to him without conversion from sin, conversion from believing the "Wrong story" as Bell writes. And so without purgatory, he's left with all sorts of "creative tension" between the idea that some will reject God's grace and all are invited in. But as Pope John Paul The Great teaches- ALL who believe, even if we have the wrong story, have the hope of having that story corrected after death in Purgatory. We can still, painfully, have our story, our will burned away- if we haven't already done it here on Earth.

    Hell is real. I see it in the faces of the homeless I volunteer with. I see it in the pain of the addict and the abused. But Heaven is real too- I see it in the Roman Catholic Mass, but also in the peace of the monk and the nun, and in the innocence of children. John Paul The Great, when he gave the homilies linked to above, caused a scandal when he said that Heaven and Hell aren't PLACES, but rather STATES OF MIND.

    Which is where I think Bell failed for the third time. And in so doing, I think *some* will misinterpret his work, as they did John Paul The Great, as they did to Hans Urs von Balthazar, as millions of Catholics did in the "Spirit of Vatican II" in the 1970s. They built that faith that Archbishop Dolan considers so dangerous, this faith that consists only of "sanitized, feel-good, boutique, therapeutic spirituality that makes no demands, calls for no sacrifice, asks for no conversion, entails no battle against sin, but only soothes and affirms." Fear of Hell has a purpose for some. That purpose should NOT overwhelm the Love of God, true- but God's Love wouldn't be love without a fear of Hell. We cannot stay addicted to sin and enter Heaven. We MUST go through Purgatory- we must follow The Way, The Truth, and the Life if we are to join life instead of death. I don't think Bell entirely sidesteps this; he repeatedly gives us stories where those who are disobedient to God, "build their own hell". But I do think he downplays it to a dangerous degree. ALL are offered the Grace of God. But not all souls in the past have taken God up on that grace- and as Sister St. Faustina teaches in her diary:

    "Today I was led by an Angel to the chasms of hell. It is a place of real torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw: the first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God; the second is perpetual remorse of conscience; the third is that one's condition will never change; the fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it - a terrible suffering, since it is a purely spiritual fire, ....the fifth torture is continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and, despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own; the sixth torture is the constant company of Satan; the seventh torture is horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies. These are the tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings. There are special tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings, related to the manner in which it has sinned. There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me. Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like.

    I, Sister Faustina, by the order of God, have visited the abysses of hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence. I cannot speak about it now; but I have received a command from God to leave it in writing. The devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God. What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: that most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell. When I came to, I could hardly recover from the fright. How terribly souls suffer there! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the covnersion of sinners. I incessantly plead God's mercy upon them. O my Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend You by the least sin. (741)" Diary of St Faustina on Hell

    But note she also writes:
    When the sisters got up at eleven o'clock at night to keep vigil and welcome the New Year, I had been writhing in agony since nightfall, and this lasted until midnight. I united my sufferings with the prayers of the sisters who were keeping vigil in the chapel and atoning to God for the offences of sinners. (1451). When the clock struck twelve, my soul immersed itself more deeply in recollection, and I heard a voice in my soul: "Do not fear, My little child, you are not alone. Fight bravely, because My arm is supporting you; fight for the salvation of souls, exhorting them to trust in My mercy, as that is your task in this life and in the life to come." After these words, I received a deeper understanding of divine mercy. Only that soul who wants [to be damned] will be damned, for God condemns no one. (1452)
    Oh, how beyond comprehension is God's mercy! But- horror -there are also souls who voluntarily and consciously reject and scorn this grace! Although a soul is at the point of death, the merciful God gives the soul that interior vivid moment, so that if the soul is willing, it has the possibility of returning to God. But sometimes, the obduracy in souls is so great that consciously they choose hell; they make useless all the prayers that other souls offer to God for them and even the efforts of God Himself..(1698) Diary of St Faustina on Hell

    Without this choice- which to Rob Bell is merely a tension- God's Love simply isn't love. Without giving us the freedom to choose Hell, Hell will be as much of a surprise and a scandal as Heaven.

    And so I end with the prayer Our Lady of Fatima asked all Catholics to pray, at the end of every decade of the Rosary, for the hope that all souls may be saved:

    "O my Jesus, Forgive us ours sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy." - Our Lady of Fatima

    If this has moved you- I encourage you to look up the Chaplet of Divine Mercy- and pray it every day at 3:00pm- the traditional time Christ died on the Cross for our sins.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Do you think YOUR taxes are too high?

    In a pro-life discussion recently, I suggested that we could eliminate the deficit & provide full funding for WIC for every child between conception and 5 years old with a mere 5% increase in the top marginal tax rate. That got me the comment that it would raise real income taxes to more than 51% on the wealthy- but tax brackets don't work that way.

    Here is how tax brackets *really* work., with a handy calculator that I will deconstruct below- but of course, this leaves out the now nearly 20% FICA taxes, right?

    Not quite- FICA doesn't have an infinitely large top tax bracket- FICA ends at $106800 of income- it tops out at $21300 per individual earner.

    So let's do some calculations on what demographers now tell us is the top of the upper middle class- a single businessman, sole proprietor, earning $500,000/year (to earn more you have to be a hedge fund manager or have a lot of capital in investments).

    According to the Calculator on the MoneyChimp site that means:

    Tax: $ 152314 a percentage of income: 30.46 %
    Tax Bracket: 35 %

    Adding in the FICA:
    Tax $ 173674 a percentage of income: 34.7348 %
    Tax Bracket : 35%

    Now let's rerun the numbers with a 40% top tax bracket, changing no other tax brackets:
    FICA: $21300
    8500-0 * .1 = $850
    34500-8500 * .15 = $3900
    83600-34500 * .25 = $12275
    174400-83600 * .28 = $25424
    379150-174400 * .33 = $67567.5
    500000-379150 * .40 = $48340

    Total Tax: $179656.50 a percentage of total earnings: 35.9313%
    Marginal Tax Bracket 40%

    Leaving our small business owner $320,343.5 to reinvest in his business, give to charity, or live on, in accordance with his property rights under US Law and _Caritas In Veritate_.

    For a mere .9313% increase in *real* taxes as a percentage of total earnings, we could achieve the pro-life goal of having good nutrition for every child between conception and age 5 (to do that you've got to feed the mother between conception and birth of course) and pay the federal debt back down below 60% of GDP, just like it was back in the Clinton Administration the last time WIC was fully funded and the deficit was below 60% of GDP.

    Isn't that worth the cost?

    And if you're thinking, why do this during a recession, may I suggest you read this rather interesting economic theory:
    The $38.5 Trillion hole nobody talks about

    Answering the question of the poor woman trying to choose between feeding her family and another birth with "We will support you in beginning to raise this child" is the only truly moral answer to economic abortion.

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    As you can see from my picture change, I am KofC

    I am a Knight of Columbus. As such, my moral compass points to Charity. Always. That was challenged on facebook today- and I'd like to preserve a few links here.

    The first has been posted here before- the letter, two years ago, I found on George Tiller's website that proved to me that if abortion is allowed to continue, we will soon have genetic eugenics against autistics.

    A neat set of graphs showing why the financial bubble happened and why it can be attributed to the rising gap between the rich and the middle class.

    A quote from Ronald Reagan, who continues to amaze me how Catholic he really is, given that the reputation of St. Ronnie as put forth by libertarians and Republicans simply isn't:
    "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden."

    Almost out of Rerum Novarum, that is.

    Cloning proves, scientifically, that life begins at conception.

    How to say the Rosary in Chinook Wawa or at least two prayers of it. Try to convince your liturgy committee in Oregon today that to be truly multicultural, we need to say the Nisika Papa!

    And finally a pair of links about the USCCB:
    There's a new New American Bible to go along with our reform of the reform of the counter-reformation Mass

    And we'll end that with the one thing everybody in America seems to want to forget, a little video they used to show during Saturday Morning Cartoons- I wonder how many Americans can quote it today? Note, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare. Can we truly say we're doing that today?

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    How to fix immigration worldwide.

    The following treaty should be enacted worldwide. This solution is based on 21st century technology and good Catholic teaching on the subject; and it comprehensive.

    The primary objection to immigration is the unfair advantage that a group traveling from a country with low standard of living have over the native workers in a country with a high standard of living. This objection is borne in the idea that economic refugees will return to their home country to retire, not in luxury, but certainly at a much cheaper standard of living than anybody in the first world enjoys. The is a licit argument, and I attempt to address it below.

    The USCCB, in their Pastoral Letter, _Strangers No Longer_ in 2003 (strange, I've been unable to find a link to it) put forth 5 values they wished to be addressed in immigration:
    1. Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland.
    34. All persons have the right to find in their own countries the economic, political, and social opportunities to live in dignity and achieve a full life through the use of their God-given gifts. In this context, work that provides a just, living wage is a basic human need.

    2.Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families.
    35. The Church recognizes that all the goods of the earth belong to all people.15 When persons cannot find employment in their country of origin to support themselves and their families, they have a right to find work elsewhere in order to survive. Sovereign nations should provide ways to accommodate this right.

    3. Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders.
    36. The Church recognizes the right of sovereign nations to control their territories but rejects such control when it is exerted merely for the purpose of acquiring additional wealth. More powerful economic nations, which have the ability to protect and feed their residents, have a stronger obligation to accommodate migration flows.

    4. Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection.
    37. Those who flee wars and persecution should be protected by the global community. This requires, at a minimum, that migrants have a right to claim refugee status without incarceration and to have their claims fully considered by a competent authority.

    5. The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected.
    38. Regardless of their legal status, migrants, like all persons, possess inherent human dignity that should be respected. Often they are subject to punitive laws and harsh treatment from enforcement officers from both receiving and transit countries. Government policies that respect the basic human rights of the undocumented are necessary.

    To this, I would add a 6th and 7th values:
    6. In preservation of friendship, any immigration system needs to make room for people who stay short term without working, or who travel short term for business, with a minimum of fuss.

    7. In all instances, preference must be given by a government to it's citizens over non-citizens, as long as those citizens are following the law.

    By adding these two- and a good dollop of modern technology, as you will see, I have a plan to simplify immigration world wide, and in most cases, make it significantly more efficient.

    1. Every nation's immigration system should provide an online database of all citizens, people traveling on business, people traveling for tourism, political refugees, natural disaster refugees, and economic refugees.
    2. Every nation's police force should provide an online, publicly available criminal database, of all individuals the police force comes into contact with and why- witnesses, incidents, accused charges, convictions. All of these should be tied to the same key as above, and all records should be available to all countries signing this treaty.
    3. Every nation's labor department should keep a publicly available database of who is eligible to work. All citizens should be entered into this database once they have exceeded the age of local laws preventing child labor. Non-citizens can be entered into this database if they apply for and are approved for Business or Immigration class visas, as described below.
    4. It is the responsibility of the labor department to require all employers to use the database of eligible employees. This can be done two ways- additional records can be added for skills verification, thus simplifying hiring. And draconian measures can be taken against businesses and business owners that hire illegally, up to and including asset confiscation and citizenship revocation.
    5. Since illegal workers do NOT profit from being hired illegally, they are merely sent back to their country of origin- and may reapply for legal visas immediately upon returning.
    6. Each country shall maintain an ONLINE visa application system serving the following common types of visas. A country has the right to restrict certain classes of visas as needed due to economic or social concerns. But for most of these visas, simple human dignity requires that if there is no solid reason to reject, it must be granted.
    7. T-class visas; these are tourist visas. No restrictions, but these visas should be short term, less than a month, and should only be able to be renewed once. Application should be online, granting should be automatic unless querying the home country's labor or criminal database comes up with a solid, objective, reason to deny entry. Denial of entry is automatically appealed to a human system which must investigate, but may take many years to come to a decision.
    8. B-class visas; short term business visas. Should be sponsored by a corporation, but should be *very* short term and for a specific project taking less than 6 months.
    9. IPR visas; Political Refugee Immigrant. Should *always* be granted, as the police and labor data from home country may be fabricated. Should be indefinite stay. Revolution in home country cancels these visas unless IER is also applied for, but is specifically available for situations of political oppression.
    10. IDR visas: Automatically granted on entry from any country that has recently had a natural disaster. May be revoked if natural disaster ends, unless IER is also applied for.
    11. IER visas: These are the hardest to handle. Automatically granted IF a background check in labor and criminal databases is clean, requires photo. If photo is not supplied or background check fails, visa is denied. If intended country has > 3% unemployment, visa is denied. All denials are automatically appealed for human investigation. Once granted, cannot be revoked. All holders of this visa are eligible for naturalization as citizens.
    12. L-class visas: Learner class. Specifically for students, REQUIRES that the student already holds an IER visa for the intended country.

    This is the minimum the treaty should have. Any country not signing the treaty, is excluded entirely from the family of civilized nations- there should be no private or public transport there at all, ever, including import and export of goods.

    I see no reason for a visa application under this system, including the IER, to take more than a few seconds. Visas could be printed and carried on the person, and include photo identification as well as barcode.
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    Oustside The Asylum by Ted Seeber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
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