Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day!

Go Cardinals!

MLB Schedule 

I'm Not Actually A Jerk. Really.

It has occurred to me that my recent post on consequentialism might lead some readers to believe that I am an unfeeling jerk.  I have modified that post so it is now less egregiously jerkish.  Also, I want to say that I would be extremely upset if one of my siblings were dying.  However, I would not rob a store and get someone fired in order to save that sibling.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Machete Slingshot!

H/T: Dave Barry

Consequentialists in the Classroom

Apologies for slacking.  Been busy.

This semester, I have been taking a political philosophy class taught by Dr. Kimberly Shankman, the College Dean.  Although the professor is a devotee of natural law, some of her students are not, resulting in some disturbing responses to moral dilemmas proposed in class.

During a lecture, Dr. Shankman described an actual case of cannibalism at sea.  Three British sailors were adrift in a lifeboat on the open ocean, without water and dying of thirst.  One of the three was near death and his comrades killed him and drank his blood.  The two survivors were later rescued and charged with murder.  The reluctant cannibals were sentenced to prison instead of death due to the extraordinary circumstances of their crime.  The response of some of my classmates to this nautical horror story was almost as distressing as the act of cannibalism.

When asked to render judgement on the sailors, several students said that the cannibals did nothing immoral and that they would do the same in a similar situation.  It is important to note that the moral culpability of the murderers is mitigated by their circumstances.  The man they killed was probably going to die anyway and the two sailors would have likely died themselves had they not killed and cannibalized their shipmate.  However, the act of murder itself is intrinsically evil, it is always wrong no matter the circumstance.  I found my classmates endorsement of murder repulsive, but I thought that one student's response was oddly amusing.  A girl said that she was horrified not by the murder, but by the cannibalism.  She seemed to think that it was more immoral to eat someone than it was to kill them.  As for me, I wouldn't mind terribly if starving people eat my body after I'm dead but I would very much mind if someone were trying to kill me.  Fortunately, the pro-cannibalism crowd in the class was a minority, though I made sure to note who they were and to avoid being stuck in an elevator with them.

In another scenario proposed by Dr. Shankman, the class was supposed to imagine that they were a shopper who noticed an error at checkout that would give them a large amount of free money but would probably cost the store clerk his job.  Everyone agreed that they should bring the error to the clerk's attention.  Dr. Shankman then told the class that they had a sick sibling who will die without an expensive medical treatment.  The class was polled again and this time half the students said that they would take off with the money.  Their change of heart was a perfect example of consequentialist thinking.  These students decided that it would be acceptable to do something that they had condemned as immoral only moments before because the consequent changed.  Granted, the hypothetical thief is in a difficult situation for which he has my hypothetical sympathy.  However, the act of theft is still immoral.  It is unfortunate that some students were willing to sanction theft for a good cause.  Their surrender to utilitarianism has more dire implications than their response to the cannibalism scenario.  My classmates will probably never be tempted to kill and eat someone but it is quite possible that they might stand to gain a reward for their unjust silence.  Hopefully, the current opinions of my pro-theft classmates are not anticipatory of their future choices.

Overall, I think that my observations in class are cause for optimism.  At a state college I imagine that the teachers and most of the class would be consequentialists.  Here at BC, Dr. Shankman was on the right side of both scenarios, along with at least half the class.  Even so, the judgements made by a portion of the class are unfortunate.  In the classroom, the hospital, or the legislature, one consequentialist is one too many.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Austrians Like to Kill People

BioEdge reports:
The proportion of medical students in Austria who are sympathetic to voluntary euthanasia has more than tripled in the past ten years. According to researchers at the Medical University of Graz acceptance of active euthanasia increased from 16.3% to 29.1% to 49.5% in the periods from 2001 to 2003/04 to 2008/09. In the general population it rose from about 49% to 62% between 2000 and 2009.

Why the steep rise? The researchers believe that students now respect autonomy of the patient and the beneficence of the doctor more than ethical convictions.
“In this respect, the attitudes of the future physicians seem to draw nearer to the approach prevailing in Dutch euthanasia practice of which van Delden et al report: “… that the request of the patient is not the only basis for the physician's decision … Euthanasia, therefore, is always based on both autonomy and beneficence … In such cases of extreme suffering, life might justifiably be terminated without the patient's explicit request.”
Don't get sick in Austria.  The Nazis are in power again and they didn't even have to invade this time.

For the Love of History

Check out this great post about history by my friend Sean.

Charlie Sheen Accidentally Says Something Profound

In one of his recent coke fueled rants, Charlie Sheen shared his philosophy on marriage.
What we all have is a marriage of the heart. To sully or contaminate or radically disrespect this union with a shameful contract is something that I will leave to the amateurs and the Bible grippers.
The "we" that Sheen is referring to consists of himself and his two porn star concubines.  The biwinning rock star from Mars is totally full of it, but he does manage to make a legitimate observation about marriage.  In our culture, marriage really is just a contract and a weak one at that.  If the guys who built your house had treated their contracts the same way our society treats marriage, your walls would be falling over.  True love, something that Sheen mistakenly thinks he shares with his hussies, requires more than a feeble contract.  True love demands a holy covenant that binds two lovers together.  The man who has compared himself to an F18 is right to condemn the "shameful contract" that has replaced real marriage in the Western world.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hugo Chavez: Capitalism Killed the Martians

Reuters reports:
Capitalism may be to blame for the lack of life on the planet Mars, Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday.
"I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet," Chavez said in speech to mark World Water Day.
Chavez, who also holds capitalism responsible for many of the world's problems, warned that water supplies on Earth were drying up.
"Careful! Here on planet Earth where hundreds of years ago or less there were great forests, now there are deserts. Where there were rivers, there are deserts," Chavez said, sipping from a glass of water.
He added that the West's attacks on Libya were about water and oil reserves.
H/T: Dave Barry

Chavez's ideas about water are almost as dumb as his attempts at astrobiology.  Water is the most renewable resource in existence.  No matter how many times you water the plants or flush the toilet, water eventually evaporates and comes down as rain.  Perhaps comrade Hugo has been sampling some of his FARC buddies' products.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I think that St. Patrick being my baptismal patron might give my prayers for his intersession some extra power.  Through the intersession of St. Patrick may heathens be converted and the Serpent banished.  Amen!

St. Patrick's Breastplate

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

It's not St. Patrick's Day without some Irish music.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Prayer Request

Please pray for a friend of mine whose father has passed away.  Thank you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Enjoy today while it lasts, because tomorrow...

Posting will be sporadic over the next few days as I work on a big project before spring break.  Have a fat Tuesday and a blessed Lent!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fun With Kim Jong-Il

A post on Acts Of The Apostasy links to a surprisingly entertaining blog that consists entirely of photos of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il looking at things.  For example:

Kim Jong-Il looking at soy sauce.

 Kim Jong-Il looking at boots.

The tragic comedy of an insane dictator scrutinizing random objects reminds me of the funniest news site I have ever seen.  No not The Onion.  It's the Korean Central News Agency, the news website controlled by the North Korean government.  Fortunately for all of us imperialist running-dogs in the Anglosphere, the KCNA site is translated into English for our reeducation.  I won't comment on the following excerpts because they really speak for themselves.

  Some highlights from a New Year editorial:
The last was a decade when we invariably defended the ideas and cause of President Kim Il Sung, a decade full of creations and miracles when we built a solid springboard for achieving the status of a great, prosperous and powerful country. In the crucible of the complicated 21st century, our country has always stood in the limelight of the world, at the forefront of anti-imperialist independence.
Our service personnel and people, who have written a heroic epic of victory after victory under the energetic leadership of General Kim Jong Il, are full of ambition for a brighter future and confidence in sure victory.
Boundless devotion to the cause of building a great, prosperous and powerful country is displayed in the undertakings to spruce up the country including land development and city management. The landscaping and afforestation should be done on a long-term basis and in a scientific way, and everyone should turn his or her native place and workplace into a socialist fairyland.
The Party's leadership system should be established more thoroughly in politics, the military, the economy and all other sectors. The entire Party should be built up into an ideologically pure entity and an organizational whole, which shares life and death with the leader to the last and into the ranks of death-defying vanguards who translate the leader's intention into brilliant reality.
The regular news section includes many unintentionally hilarious pieces about the Dear Leader.
Sorry about the squished paragraphs.  Pasting them from the website messed up the HTML coding.
Kim Jong Il Sends His Autograph to Huichon Ryonha Machinery Plant
General Secretary Kim Jong Il received a letter from the employees of the Huichon Ryonha General Machinery Plant on Jan. 29 and sent them his autograph reading "Kim Jong Il on February 24, 2011" with his loving care.
New Air Conditioning System For Restaurant  
One October day in 2010 General Secretary Kim Jong Il gave field guidance to the newly-built delicacy restaurant under Okryu Restaurant. 
Going round the fashionable dining halls, he asked about the air conditioning system.
An official of the restaurant told him that each hall's temperature is adjusted by two large air conditioners. But the leader said the two are not enough for a glass-walled dining hall. He then indicated ways of solving the air conditioning problem.
Later, the restaurant had a new air conditioining system in each dining hall.
Reports about the United States are particularly entertaining.
Hispanic Groups in US Complain Obscene Spanish-Language Talk Show
All forms of discriminations are rampant in the United States, sparking public furor. 
Two Hispanic-American organizations in California on Feb. 28 filed a joint complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.
The complaint was in response to a string of broadcasts of the Spanish-language television talk show against women, gay and lesbian minorities.
US-S. Korean Joint Saber-rattling under Fire in S. Korea
The south Korean Democratic Labor Party and the New Progressive Party and at least 20 civic and social organizations at a news conference in Seoul on Feb. 28 blasted the U.S. imperialists and the south Korean puppet warmongers for staging the joint military maneuvers to invade the north.
If you ever get depressed over the political situation in our country, just go to the KCNA website and you will feel a lot better.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why a Ban on Assault Weapons is Stupid

Following the Tuscon massacre, leftists made a number of bad suggestions regarding gun control.  Among these is a proposal to ban assault weapons.  I can prove that this proposal is stupid using two photos.

Take a look at this firearm:

It is a Ruger 10/22, the quintessential youth rifle.  Perfect for plinking and small game hunting, it is one of the most popular rifles in the United States.  I am a proud owner of a 10/22, and though there are plenty of more powerful guns out there, this little rimfire is my favorite.

Now look at this gun:

Oh my gosh it's so scary!! Ban it! Ban it!  Oh.  Wait.  It's a 10/22.  A few cosmetic changes turn an innocent sporting rifle into an "evil" assault weapon.  In nontechnical terms, an assault weapon is a semi-automatic rifle that looks scary.  That's it.  Liberals' irrational fear of pistol grips and collapsible stocks is all the justification they need to ban these guns.

Great Benedictine College Ad

Being an ad, the video presents only the positive aspects of the college experience.  Even so, it is a fairly accurate summation of life at Benedictine College and exemplifies much of what I love about the school.  At the 4:38 mark you can see me chatting with Fr. Brendan, head of campus ministry.