Saturday, April 30, 2011

Approval Ratings and Incumbents

Rassmussen reports:
As members of Congress and the president haggle over ways to reduce the federal budget deficit, ratings for the bicameral legislature have fallen to the lowest level since late 2008.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows that nine percent (9%) now say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Fifty-six percent (56%) rate the Congressional performance as poor. 
Despite the low approval ratings, most members of Congress will be reelected until they resign, die, or are imprisoned.  People hate Congress but can't seem to figure out that they should stop voting for their own lousy Representatives and Senators.

Friday, April 29, 2011

It's A Good Time to Drink But Where's the Beer?

The  Mirror reports:
Prince William and Kate Middleton have banned guests from drinking beer at their wedding reception.

The prospect of guests downing pints has been deemed unsuitable for such a prestigious occasion.
Instead, the couple will treat their 650 guests to flutes of champagne and wine to accompany their canap├ęs as they mingle in the palace's 19 state rooms.
Instead of Newcastle, the royals will be serving the national drink of the French, England's traditional enemy.  Wine might be more prestigious but for aesthetic purposes beer would be better for drowning the national sorrows of Great Britain.  The Queen's subjects have every reason to drink at the moment.  The royal couple will be married by the imposter Archbishop of Canterbury whose church will one day be nominally controlled by the groom.  Following his eventual coronation, Prince William will become the anti-pope of the Church of England, an organization that is getting dumber every day.  In addition, the sorry state of marriage in the UK and throughout the west is highlighted by a royal wedding that follows eight years of cohabitation.  This relationship has not produced any children because Kate Middleton has suppressed her fertility like the rest of British women, whose few descendents will inherit a country ruled by Mohammedans.  If anyone needs a beer right now, it's the English.

Pray for the Dead

May God grant eternal peace and joy to those who died in the recent storms and may their families be comforted.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Easter Rising

During Easter Week of 1916 (Apr 24-30), an insurrection against British rule was staged in Dublin by Irish republicans.  Following the defeat and surrender of the rebels, 90 men were executed and 1,480 were imprisoned in England and Wales.  Though occupying a post office in the middle of a city surrounded by British troops and artillery was not a stroke of tactical genius, the sacrifice of the rebels inspired the people of Ireland into greater resistance against the English and led to the Irish War of Independence.

Those who follow this blog can guess that I wrote a post about the Easter Rising for two reasons, to honor those who fought and died, and as an excuse to post some great Irish music.




The song Grace is about the true story of the wedding of Grace Gifford and Joseph Mary Plunkett, just hours before Plunkett's execution by firing squad.  Read the story here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blog Break

Sorry for the lack of posting.  The semester is coming to an end and I am busy with term papers.  This being Holy Week, y'all probably have holier things to do than read blogs so I'm really being helpful by not doing anything.  (My favorite kind of good work.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Basketball Star Reads First Book

Sports Illustrated reports,
H/T: CMR
Last spring [Kemba] Walker approached UConn academic counselor Felicia Crump and asked her to help him figure out how to earn his degree in sociology so that he could enter the draft this year and still graduate. Together they built a schedule that required Walker to take courses last summer in Storrs and then a full load in both the fall and the spring. “We’re talking about a young man who was just an average high school student, at best, and who had always been more concerned with basketball,” says Crump. “I told him, ‘If you can do this, you’ll leave behind a legacy that’s more important than anything you do on the basketball court.’”
Walker took schoolwork with him throughout the Big East and NCAA tournaments, completing short required papers while postponing tests until after the season. He met with his campus tutor on Skype. And in his travel pack is a copy of New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden’s Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete, a book that Crump encouraged Walker to read as part of an independent study class on racism in sports. Before the Final Four, Crump suggested that Rhoden’s book would be the first that Walker had ever made it through cover-to-cover. After the win over Kentucky, Walker confirmed this. “That’s true,” he said. “You can write that. It is the first book I’ve ever read.”
You shouldn't be allowed to graduate 2nd Grade without reading a book.  The fact that the University of Connecticut accepted this guy and paid for his education is a travesty.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The War Between the States



On April 12 1861, at 4:30 AM, Confederate troops in and around Charleston harbor fired on Fort Sumter, beginning a war that would last four years and take over half a million lives.  Establishing the true cause of the Civil War is an American obsession.  Was it slavery, states rights, trade, or something else entirely?  So much time is spent on these questions because without a good answer, it would seem that 620,000 men died over a fort.

The Civil War was ultimately about slavery but few actually fought for or against the "peculiar institution." 

The first seven states to secede from the union did so primarily because of the election of Abraham Lincoln, whom they feared would prevent the spread of slavery into the territories or even work towards total emancipation.  These fears were not well founded.  The Dred Scott decision meant that Southerners could have brought their slaves into the territories and even the northern states with impunity.  Although Abraham Lincoln was opposed to slavery, he knew that it would be futile to attempt nationwide emancipation.  Southern paranoia resulted in a foolish break from the Union and the bloody Civil War.  It is important to note however, that Southerners believed that they had the right to secede independent of the slavery issue.  Considering the power granted to the states in the 10th Amendment, this belief was not wholly unjustified.  The last four states to secede, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee did so after President Lincoln called for the raising of state militias to put down the nascent rebellion.  The residents of the these states refused to attack their southern countrymen and joined them instead.  Thus the battle lines were drawn for the War Between the States.

The majority of southern soldiers did not own slaves and fought for the supposed sovereignty of their states.  Northern troops, fought primarily to preserve the Union, some making a point of denying any interest in abolition.  Though Lincoln privately abhorred slavery, he publicly declared that saving the Union was his only concern, writing,  "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery."  Slavery was a great sin and its abolition was worth its price in blood.  But was the preservation of the Union worth the modern day equivalent of 6 Million casualties?  I am not sure.

I am glad that the North won the Civil War but my sympathies lie with both sides, albeit unequally.  It is important to remember that the South initiated hostilities and defended slavery.  Even so, I can just as easily see myself defending my hometown of Tallahassee against invading Yankees as serving in the Union army.  If I had been alive at the time, the side I chose may very well have depended on where I lived.  In many conflicts, it can be said that there are no "good guys".  In  the American Civil War, though the causes were not of equal worth, there were no bad guys.

Songs of the Civil War

Today is the 150th anniversary of the attack on fort Sumter and the beginning of the American Civil War.  I will post some thoughts about the war later today, in the meantime enjoy these songs.

Note: Some of these videos are not authorized by the artist.  However, only the person who uploaded the video to YouTube is responsible for the copyrights.























Monday, April 11, 2011

Frenemies

Via a link at Cartago Delanda Est, I read a strange essay on Salon.com.  The essay, titled I can't believe my best friend is a Republican, is a public confession of sorts by Taffy Brodesser-Akner who is surprised that she is capable of friendship with Janet, a Republican.  Overall, the piece came out in support of bipartisan friendship, but I can't understand why it is even an issue.

It seems obvious to me that you can be friends with someone of a different political persuasion.  I have liberal friends, and I know liberals who have conservative friends.  I really do not see how this is even worth writing an essay about.  The author seems to be overly emotional about politics and I suppose this is why her disagreements with her friend make her so upset.  She writes,
I began directing all my anger toward the Republican Party at Janet. On the day that Congress voted to defund Planned Parenthood, I found myself furious at Janet, just Janet, as the face of all that was bad in the world. Feeling sad and deflated, I wandered over to her house, unable to look her in the eye, asking her why? How? To what end?
After calming down, Mrs. Akner decides that Janet isn't actually an evil woman hater, but that she just acts like one for some reason.  The author's emotional meltdown over funding for a few condoms is amusing to me.  I believe that Planned Parenthood kills millions of people but I am not particularly distraught that some of my friends want that organization to receive public funds.  No pro-choice person I know believes that abortion is murder, so I am not horrified that they support Planned Parenthood.  I know that they want to do what they think is right within their flawed ethical framework.  Is that so strange?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Suprising Facts About the Sacraments

Some of these facts are more obscure than others but I bet that they would surprise many Catholics.
  • A sincere intention to go to confession can absolve someone who dies before they can confess.
  • The sacrament of the Eucharist is legitimately performed in the Orthodox Church, but they ban Roman Catholics from receiving Communion.
  • Traditionially, Confirmation precedes First Communion.
  • If a couple are trapped on a desert island or are otherwise prevented from seeing a priest, they may marry each other without the presence of a priest.
  • In the Orthodox Church and in several Roman Catholic Rites, the faithful are baptized, confirmed, and receive Holy Communion in infancy.
  • All priests, including the Pope, are also deacons.  
  • If confession cannot be heard because of serious health or time constraints, a priest may grant absolution without confession.
  • Last Rites consists of three parts, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, and Viaticum, the last reception of Communion.
  • Canon Law names abduction as an official impediment to marriage.  Don't kidnap someone in order to marry them.  It's bad.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Biden Knows Nothing

Politico reports:
The Know-Nothings were an American political organization of the 19th century known for their opposition to Catholics and recent immigrants - they got their name because they were, at least in theory, sworn to profess total ignorance about their activities. Their heyday was the 1850s, but after some electoral victories, the Civil War pretty much knocked them out of the spotlight.

Vice President Biden, speaking Wednesday in Tampa, Fla., referenced the Know-Nothings in complaining about the strategy of congressional Republicans who want to, he said, "cut our way out of a recession."

"It's never happened before," he was quoted as saying by the St. Petersburg Times. "These guys remind me of the Know-Nothing Party of the 19th century. Then it was about religion, now it's about the economy."

Biden, who appeared with Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, took some specific swipes at Gov. Rick Scott, a first-term Republican who has rejected $2.4 billion in federal funds for a high-speed rail line from Tampa to Orlando. Scott said he doubted enough people would use the train.

"Even if you were doubtful, I don't understand how in this economy in Florida you could walk away from 24,000 high paying jobs," Biden says.
The Know-Nothings wanted to kick Irish and Italians out of America.  Florida Republicans have decided that they don't want to build a railroad.  How in the freaking heck are they at all similar?

Anarchy is Self-Defeating

Saturday, April 2, 2011

In Defense of Religion

A lot of modern Protestants seem to think that "religion" is a bad word.  On the Road to Emmaus, a Protestant blogger sets them straight.
“Christianity is not a religion, its a relationship,” is a mantra I occasionally hear. The more I hear it, the more I am taken aback, wondering what exactly people mean. Whatever they specifically intend, the implication is that “religion” is something negative which we would not want to be in any way associated with. However, when I look up the word “religion” in the dictionary, this is what I get:
1) the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods
2) details of belief as taught or discussed
3) a particular system of faith and worship
I am honestly at a loss to discern which of these three definitions cannot be applied to Christianity? Is it not belief in and worship of a personal God, with beliefs and a system of faith? What is wrong with these things? Is Christianity just a “relationship” without reference to “details of belief” or a “system of faith?” Interestingly enough, the church in Corinth were enriched in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 1:5), had exuberant and passionate worship services (1 Cor. 14) and were extremely “spiritual” (1 Cor. 3:1; 14:12). However, Paul understood that if they did not believe in the resurrection (i.e., “details of belief”) their faith was useless. Furthermore, he asserted that there needed to be “order” in their worship services. In Paul’s mind, it was not enough for the Corinthians to “have a relationship with Jesus,” they also needed what the dictionary defines as “religion.”
When Christians use the term “religion” pejoratively is such a manner, they generally do not mean any of the definitions used in the dictionary. This means they are using a standard word in a non-standard or technical manner. Religion has become for them a jargon word meaning everything (or something) they dislike about how the last generation (or last sixty generations, or some other group) has practiced Christianity. It often has different meanings for different people. For some it means traditional styles of music or traditional religious language (“thee,” “thou,” etc.). For others it refers to structured patterns of liturgy and worship in which the people say and do certain things at certain specified times. For others, it means fixed and rigid rules for behavior. Still others speak of it as referring to a system of “earning your salvation,” and by this meaning doing enough good works to get into heaven. In none of these cases does it actually mean fundamentally what “religion” means. It only refers to someone else’s religion that the speaker doesn’t like. Everyone has a religion whether they think so or not. One’s religion may be atheism, but that is still their belief about God. Everyone has systems of belief or practice whether they use a historic liturgy to shape worship or think everything in worship is spontaneous (even though the “spontaneity” routinely uses the same limited set of elements).
Read the rest here.