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Thursday, April 29, 2010



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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reppert on the Arizona Illegal Alien Law

This is yet another post about the recent Arizona law aimed at enforcing the sovereign borders of the United States (see here and here), in this case, trying to examine the perspective not of some (all-but unknown-to-me) "liberal" columnist in NYC, or some damned-fool Democratic or RINO apple-polisher in DC, but rather of a "liberal" philosopher I had wanted to respect.

As a side note, I finally lost interest in Victor Reppert's blog several months ago (*), and so I rarely even pop over there anymore. But, today, for the first time in weeks, I did pop over to Mr Reppert's blog, and saw this: Driving While Mexican, or it's no fun being an illegal alien (or looking like one either)
All eyes are on Arizona today because Governor Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070, and I feel like putting a paper bag over my virtual head. Police in our state have now been given the authority to demand papers on anyone of whom they have a reasonable suspicion that they are illegal aliens. The trouble is, about the only reason for suspicion that I can think of that someone is in the country illegally is if they have brown skin, or speak Spanish instead of English, or English with an Mexican accent. Last I checked, that was called racial profiling, which is illegal. Supposedly they are going to come up with some guidelines for deciding when there is reasonable suspicion. Good luck with that.

On every police force there are some Mark Fuhrmans. (One of them is our county sheriff). And what will they do if they get a call about loud music late at night, and that music turns out to be Spanish language music? Do you think they're going to resist the temptation to ask for papers?

Illegal immigration is a serious problem. This is a preposterous way to go about stopping it.
Mr Reppert's problem is that he's a "liberal" -- which is to say, he's a "soft," that is, an inconsistent, leftist -- and thus, on certain topics he causes himself to be unable to reason soundly; for his leftism dictates the "acceptable" conclusion, regardless of the premises from which he starts.

Consider his conclusion: "Illegal immigration is a serious problem. This is a preposterous way to go about stopping it." That is, according to Mr Reppert's (ahem) reasoning, while it is true (as we conservatives contend) that the presence of vast numbers of illegal aliens in the United States is a serious problem for the body politic, to actually attempt to enforce, and very mildly at that, existing law concerning an illegal presence in the US "is a preposterous way to go about stopping it."

How, pray tell, are we to control or, better yet, curtail, the vast numbers of illegal aliens within the borders of the US if we will not enforce either our sovereign borders or our laws against the illegal invasion of those borders? Are "liberals" trying to destroy the unity of the US?

Consider his assertion: "... Last I checked, that was called racial profiling, which is illegal." We *all* know that this assertion is false (and irrational, in any event). And, we all know that "liberals" are just fine with "racial profiling" ... just so long as it's the "po' white trash," you know, folk like me, who are paying the price of the racial preferences and set-asides "liberals" like and demand. We all know that "liberals" are just fine with "racial profiling" ... just so long as it doesn't serve the interests of the citizens of the US. You know, as would be the case to "racially profile" suspiciously-acting Moslems attempting to board airplanes.

(*) The final straw, for me, was this post -- the content is either self-oblivious beyond belief, or simply disingenuous. As I keep telling Gentle Reader, just because I *can* effectively eviscerate someone doesn't mean that I enjoy doing it; it's a chore and a psychic drain. So, I kept putting off responding to that post ... and, eventually, realized that I just didn't care anymore.

Update --

In a comment, Mr Reppert says:
According to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, this law reverses the burden of evidence for people suspected of being here illegally. You have to prove that you are legal, they don't have to prove you are illegal.

I suppose that's the way the do it in Mexico. That is why people get stuck in the Tijuana jail unable to prove their innocence. But that's not the American way.
How like a "liberal" ... and how like the "liberal" stance on the Geneva Conventions.

Notice what Mr Reppert is doing here ... he's asserting that illegal alien non-citizens have the same civic rights as actual US citizens; he's asserting that in order to lay claim to the civic rights that only US citizens have, one should not be expected, and certainly cannot be required, to provide evidence that one is, in fact, a US citizen who does, indeed, possess those civic rights.

To continue Mr Reppert's logic, it is as though one were to assert that the police may not even arrest the suspect of a crime until they have first proven in a court of law not merely that they suspect him of having committed the specific crime, but that he did, in fact, commit it.

The practical result of Mr Reppert's "good intentions" is that there is no real-world difference between being a US citizen and not being a US citizen. How is it that Mr Reppert's "good intentions" differ substantively from the wicked intentions of those who actively seek to cheapen US citizenship and/or destroy the US?

It has never been good enough merely to have "good intentions" -- there must be a rational connection between one's "good intentions" and the good one intends and a reasonable expectation that one's intentions shall result in good, rather than harm.

When one stands in judgment before God, one cannot bleat, "But at least I was 'sincere'" -- God is not a modernist, much less a post-modernist.

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'They All Look Alike, Anyway!'

Bob Parks: Bonehead of the day

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I could be Cuban

This post is a follow-up to a previous post concerning "liberal" hypocrisy about the US Constitution and laws.

Many conservative bloggers (for instance, here) are analyzing (and/or mocking) a recently published example of "liberal" NYT hyperventilation about the newly enacted Arizona law concerning enforcement of the nation's laws about illegal so-called immigrants --
So what to do in the meantime? Here’s a modest proposal. Everyone remembers the wartime Danish king who drove through Copenhagen wearing a Star of David in support of his Jewish subjects. It’s an apocryphal story, actually, but an inspiring one. Let the good people of Arizona — and anyone passing through — walk the streets of Tucson and Phoenix wearing buttons that say: I Could Be Illegal.

My mockery -- and analysis -- of the "liberals" is this:
How about this as a response to the leftists and their "I could be illegal" pseudo-argument?

"I could be Cuban"
Would this not highlight their hypocrisy on the matter?

update --
Bob Parks: Pic Of The Day

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Repeal the 17th, Part II

I believe that the 17th amendment to the US Constitution -- direct election of US senators -- was one of the "roads to hell, paved with good intentions." Though, I also question whether all the original proponents of the scheme really did have good intentions. They were "Progressives," after all.

Back in February, I posted my argument for repeal of the 17th.

Today, I read a smilar argument on the 'American Thinker' magazine that I wish to share with Gentle Reader -- John W. Truslow, III: It's the Constitution that's Radicalizing Our Politicians

In contrast to the above, 1) Conservatives understand that unchecked majority rule can be tyranny. 2) Conservatives distrust the coercive power of individual celebrity, putting their faith in just institutions. 3) Conservatives believe that a principled process is more valuable than an efficient practice. So, when analyzing the current political debacle as conservatives, there is a very different conclusion to be drawn: The system itself encourages radicalism (be they Republicans in 2003 or Democrats in 2010), and without systemic change, radicalism will continue to advance. Therefore, conservatives must work first to restore the integrity of the constitutional order.

The 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1913) is a clear catalyst for American radicalism, bringing a century of immeasurable disorder to the original constitutional framework. Before the passage of the 17th Amendment, the Constitution provided moderate, temperate government primarily by limiting the federal government's power. It did this by a) establishing a political -- not judicial -- arena for the competition of unaligned self-interests, b) broadly diffusing power through a process of checks and balances existing between the federal and state governments, and also among the three branches of the federal government, and c) enumerating specific powers, such as the commerce clause (from which Congress justifies the bulk of its current activity). The 17th Amendment eviscerated all three parts of that structure, and in doing so created the context in which radicalism has flourished in both parties. Consider each of these in turn:

First, before the passage of the 17th Amendment, members of the Senate were chosen by state legislatures to be the agents of those sovereign governments in Washington, D.C., much like ambassadors today at the United Nations. While a member of the House would represent the intemperate passions of the people as citizens, a senator would represent the very different interests of the people's state governments. The interests of the two bodies were purposefully not aligned -- their constituencies were different. The 17th Amendment allowed for the direct election of senators by the citizens of each state. What the U.S. had prior to 1913 was a bicameral legislature competing bill-by-bill for the direction and scope of the federal government. Now that both representatives and senators have an identical interest (pandering to the citizenry), Congress is one herd of cattle in two pens.

Second, by removing the states' voice in the federal government, the 17th Amendment crippled the original meaning of both "separation of powers" and "checks and balances." As a direct result, the states are effectively powerless to stop the expansion of national government into their sovereign affairs. There is no other effective restraint. Put differently, given the structure of government under the 17th Amendment, there is no reliable way to stop the spread of national government power because the constitutional check against its expansion has been eliminated. Electing a majority of "better" candidates to high office will not solve this problem because -- as the Framers well knew -- a system in which political power is unchecked radicalizes the behavior of any man within it.

Third, mindful of their different constituencies, the Constitution gave the Senate functions different from those of the House, such as the confirmation of Supreme Court justices. There was a reasonable expectation that the emissaries of the states in the Senate would approve only of those nominees possessing a view of government that defended the state's sovereignty and right to govern responsively. With the Senate no longer populated with members appointed to represent the interests of the states, Supreme Court justices have allowed the original (and very limiting) meaning of the commerce clause to erode in favor of Congress's interests.

Congress -- now aligned with the majority's fanaticism -- has responded by taking as much power as possible. Consider the plight of states' Attorneys Generals as they file suit to halt the implementation of the health care reform law: The states are making their constitutional appeal to justices confirmed by senators who do not have the states' interests at heart. Prior to the 17th Amendment, there was virtually no chance that any legislative action filled with unfunded mandates to the states would ever clear a Senate composed of states' representatives. Today, all the states can do is pray that justices confirmed by the exact body that voted for the law in question will come to their aid. Good luck with that.

Conservatives view the current political structure as broken, not simply populated by the wrong group of scoundrels. Focusing first on large conservative majorities, better communicators, and merciless implementation is playing the short game. To set the country on a sustainable path, we must first embrace the old and tried and repeal the 17th Amendment.
Mr Truslow draws an even stronger inference than I did that it is direct election of US senators which has upset the US Constitutional order, which upset is working to destroy our liberties. I like that: "Now that both representatives and senators have an identical interest (pandering to the citizenry), Congress is one herd of cattle in two pens."

In the US Constitutional order, it is the Congress -- not the Presidency, and certainly not the Supreme Court (for it, like all the Federal Courts, is a Creature of Congress) -- which is the "supreme" branch of the Federal government. But, as they well knew from the history of the English Parliament, to say nothing of Rome and Athens in ancient times, that very supremacy of the legislature is dangerous to our liberties; and so the Framers divided the Congress against itself, with the two parts having conflicting interests and incentives, in much the same way that they divided any governmental sovereignty (for the US Constitutional order presupposes and asserts that sovereignty actually resides in The People, not in the governments) in the system between the Federal government and the State governments.

The US Constitution isn't about "efficiency" in government ... it's about the preservation of the liberties of the US Citizens against the universal imperative of all governments to gather power to themselves and eventually crush the human persons subject to them.

Always remember: the US Constitution intends for the Federal government to be "inefficient;" for it intends that that government be divided against itself so that it cannot be united against us.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Glenn Beck -- Free Speech Under Fire

Some video clips of a recent Glenn Beck program --

(hattip Kathy Shaidle)

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Leftist Constitutional Concerns

Gentle Reader may recall this video we watched a few days ago, in which US Representative Phil Hare (D-Ill.), defending his vote for the "health" "care" "reform" bill which the Dems currently imagine they have imposed upon the nation, said:

"I don't worry about the Constitution on this, to be honest ..." (see from the :45 mark)

In my post concerning the video, I asked, "Is there really *any* Democrat, anywhere, who worries about the Constitution? On any matter?"

Comes this NYT editorial-disguised-as-objective-news-analysis concerning the recently enacted Arizona State law to require enforcement of the national laws concerning illegal "immigrants" (can an invader *really* be honestly call an immigrant?)
... When he hung up, Mr. Woods knew he had lost the case. “She really felt that the majority of Arizonans fall on the side of, Let’s solve the problem and not worry about the Constitution,” he said.
Now, Mr Woods (a Republican politician in Arizona who was against the law) may or may not have said that -- with newspapers in general, and certainly not with the NYT, one can never trust that a claimed direct quote was even uttered in the first place, much less that it was quoted accurately if it was even made.

Still, whether or not the quoted statement was ever actually uttered, grasp the sheer audacity of asserting that enforcement of actual Constitutionally-sound law is anti-Constitutional (and grasp the NYT's endorsement of the sentiment), and grasp this especially in light of the long-standing "liberal" disdain for the actual Constitution ... you know, the one that is written down; you know, the dead one!

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Hollywood and Secularist 'Faith'

Over at April's blog, one of the shows we've been discussing is 'Stargate Universe.' This post is prompted by the recent episode called 'Faith' (that link will eventually die, as the episodes roll off Hulu).

In case Gentle Reader isn't familiar with SGU, the premise is that a group of military and civilians setting up a remote base on some distant planet were overwhelmingly attacked by some enemies of humanity. In the final chaos, some of them managed to escape through the planet's "Stargate" -- but instead of ending up at a known location, such as Earth, they found themselves on an unknown ancient (and 'Ancient'), and severely damaged, spaceship, which doesn't have enough power to activate the Stargate through which they came so that they might return to Earth. The ship has been traveling for many tens of thouands of years, and is now very distant from our galaxy. On some pre-programmed schedule, it periodically drops out of "hyperspace" in a star system for a short time (generally about a day), which sometimes allows the reluctant passengers the opportunityto try to get themselves killed. They do a bang-up job of that on their own initiative while the ship is in "hyperspace."

In this episode, 'Destiny' (the ship) unexpectedly drops out of "hyperspace" in a star system that isn't supposed to be there. In this case, it's going to take the ship a few weeks to "slingshot" around the star and so position itself to resume the programmed journey.

The scientists onboard decide that the star is only a couple of hundred thousand years old, and that the sole planet (very earth-like, except apparently with no fauna) is "too old" for the star's age ... and, thus, that the star and planet must have been constructed by a race of technologically advanced space-aliens.

A group are detailed to take the lone working shuttle to the planet to explore it a bit during the interim while 'Destiny' circuits the star, and to gather foodstuffs to bring back to the ship. While on the planet during the month that 'Destiny' is out of range to reach with the shuttle, some of them decide to believe that the planet must have been placed there for their benefit, and that if they stay on the planet, rather than returning to the ship, the constructors of the star-system will return and graciously return them to Earth.
Cathy remarked: What about the effect on the characters who accepted the planet as a supernatural gift, intended for them ? Generally, people who believe they’ve seen God in action are changed, by the seeing, not just the action, whether they were believers before or not. Yet everything seemed very flat, like none of the actors, or even the director, felt anything about the story-line.

This prompted me to write up a few thoughts I'd had while watching the episode:

Ya' gotta keep in mind -- this was the Hollywood/leftist/secularist version of "faith" ... and their "supernatural" is all-too-natural and fully domesticated.

This unexpected planet wasn't put there by God, but by technologically advanced space-aliens; it wasn't put there by Being itself, but by mere beings like us, who happen to know more and happen to be more powerful than us.

Oddly enough, while leftists and secularists *refuse* to give Being itself the proper worshipful awe which is his due, they are always willing to improperly give that worshipful awe to mere beings like us, who happen to display more power. Thus, the recurrent leftist worship of dictators ... and mere street-thugs.

As for the "faith" of the characters that the planet was placed there specifically for their benefit, had I been there, I'd have asked, "What is the rational basis of this 'faith' and 'belief' upon which you propose we risk our lives?" We'd have quickly discovered that there is no basis, that we're not talking about 'faith,' but rather, wishful thinking. We'd have discovered that there isn't even a belief that the planet was placed there for them, but merely "I *want* this to be true, so I will pretend that it is."

Now, there may well have been rational reasons for the group to decide to abandon the ship and migrate to the planet, in spite of the unknowns. But "faith" wasn't among those reasons.

By "fully domesticated," I mean that that which secularists/leftists choose to worship as though it were God doesn't make (actual) moral demands upon its worshippers (and certainly not with regard to sexuality) ... though it may make all sorts of inhuman and inhumane demands (generally related to the display of power and force) to which they frequently are more than willing to comply.

Leftists/secularists are quite willing to worship mere beings like themselves, mere beings among other beings, for that but opens an avenue to self-worship. But, to worship God, to honor and worship Being itself, is to admit that oneself is not, and never can be, God; for Being itself is not yet another being among other beings.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Off The Beaten Path III

This post is to give some visual idea of what the property around my house is like, and some idea of how, even though it's located in the middle of a city, it's in many ways like being out in the country.

[If you click on the photos, you can see a larger image.]

This first photo is of the lower 50 or so feet of the driveway, to the far west of the house and facing north. Just past the left edge of the picture are back ends of the properties of neighbors. At the top of the picture (to the north) is an alley, which is my access to the rest of the city. Just on the other side of the alley is a six to eight foot drop-off into the back end of someone else's property. The white cement block wall you can perhaps see on the other side of the alley is the upper bit of a garage's back wall (the current owners ripped off the roof, because it hadn't been maintained before they bought it, and so was structurally unsound).

In the winter, I frequently have to park at the bottom of the drive -- assuming I can even get up the alley and get the vehicle into the drive. One winter, the neighbors contacted me because the van I had at the time had slid down into the alley, due to the ice and snow under it thawing and refreezing.

Don't ask me why my sister took this picture. Perhaps to remind herself that she doesn't have to rake leaves anymore, now that she has moved to an apartment.

This next photo was taken near the same location as the first, but facing east, so that we see more of the driveway. As may be apparent, this part of the drive is even steeper than the first section just off the alley (the alley is also a climb). So, in the winter, even if I do manage to get the vehicle into the driveway, and even if I do manage to get it to climb to the point where the drive turns from north to east, I frequently have lost so much momentum that I can't get any farther than right about here.

And my current vehicle supposedly has 4-wheel drive (it's a Kia). Amazingly, the Fiero I had when I bought the place did much better at climbing this many-staged hill in the winter. I mean, just an inch or so of snow is too much for this so-called 4-wheel drive Kia, but the Fiero climbed the hill with snow half way up to its axles!

The property is divided into six lots; five rectangular (their width is north-south, their depth is east-west), and one roughly triangular. The rectangular lots are "stacked" north to south; the southermost two are larger than the other three, they're fully wooded. The sort-of-triangular lot is the largest of the six, it's to the east of the first three rectangular lots. It's actually what's left of the original plot of all this area, before it was subdivided into my six lots and those of many of the neighbors.

I was told, by some of the original family, that this land used to be an orchard. I've seen an old hand-drawn map of the city which shows trees (I presume to represent the orchard) in this location.

To the left (north) of this photo is the first lot; there was once a large frame Italianate house on that lot, but it burned and was demolished before I bought the place. The driveway is on the second lot, and my house is on the third. The house's lot has three distinct levels; the lowest level is just to the right of where my sister would have been standing when she took this picture. I've been told that it used to be a tennis court, which would explain why it's so level and so obviously built up at its two far edges.

I guess my sister likes to take pictures. Lucky for me, else I'd not have these. Here, she has continued up the driveway, walking east from the previous photo, and has turned slightly to the south, so she'd be facing south-east.

In the foreground and going off to the right it the lowest level of the house's lot. As you can see, there is now a small grove of trees taking up one side of the the former tennis court.

Going across the center of the photo is the change in elevation between the middle and lowest levels of the lot. And the house is on the upper level.

Here she'd be standing near the edge of the upper level of the lot.

The house's front door is to the left; the back door (such as it is) opens onto this porch. The other back door (three, in fact, since I built the greatroom), at the far corner of the house from what is seen here, opens from the livingroon onto the patio.

Here she's standing just to the corner of the porch, facing north-northeast. The driveway is just on the other side of the large maple tree, about 9 to 18 inches lower than the yard (depending where you're at, of course).

The large Italianate house used to stand over there, on the other side of the drive. You may be able to see the depression in the ground where the fill in its basement has settled over the years. The double garage to the right belonged to the demolished house.

At the edge of the yard there, in the middle distance, is about a 15 foot drop-off to the alley. In the distance, past the trees, you may be able to make out a building. That's the roof of a small church.

Here, she's standing on the middle level of the house's lot, facing east-northeast.

I put in those steps and the small retaining wall to the left -- I can't decide whether I want to continue the wall from the other side of the steps on around (if I do, I'd no longer be able to get the lawn tractor into the upper part of the yard). Oddly enough, when I was putting in those steps, I discovered that there had been steps exactly there before ... I think someone must have taken most of the stones of the former steps, probably when the stones which originally edged the yard above the driveway were stolen (when I edged the upper level, I discoverd the stones still in the ground at the level of the drive).

Here, she's standing in much the same place is with the past photo, but has turned a bit to the right, so she'd be facing due east.

The "patio door" (as they call these center-hinged pseudo-french doors) on the porch opens into the front-room or family room (which formerly was the diningroom and a very badly-designed 1/2 bath). The triple windows at the center are for the kitchen; when I bought the place, the kitchen window was a small replacement-window, not much larger than the octogonal one above. The double window to the right is in the diningroom. Above the kitchen, with the octogonal window, is the master bath; this window is above a built-in set of drawers between two closets. Above the diningroom is the master bedroom (which, when I bought the place, was much the smallest of the four bedrooms). The diningroom had been a bedroom; with my redesign of the house, it can be used as a third bedroom, if need be. The two upstairs bathrooms (above the kitchen) have displaced one former bedroom.

Here, she's walking around to the back side of the house.

By the time we get there, the ground level (of the middle level of the lot) has fallen enough that the ground surface at the level of the basement floor. Thus, the basement has a direct door to the outside ... not having to lug stuff (like ashes from the fireplace, or a dead water-heater) up through the kitchen is excellent!

Here, she's standing in much the same place as the last photo, but she has turned to face a bit north of west.

In the near distrance is the transition down to the lowel level (the former tennis court). That pile of stones is a raised flower-bed I built on upper part of the slope; years later, just to the left of the bed, I put in stone steps down to the lower level. And, oddly enough, I found evidence that there had once been steps in just that location.

Just to the left of the photo is the drop-off into the woods (there are two lots down that way, larger than the three we've seen so far). The western property line is on the other side of the line of tree in the middle distance; with the former tennis court having been built up to be a level surface, the drop-off to the neighbor's properties is about five feet. The houses which can be seen here are the closest to mine; with the distance of their yards and mine, they'd be about 200 feet or more from my house. In the summer time, when the trees have leaves, those are the houses one can still see from the yard ... if one works at seeing them.

Here, she has walked about 10-15 feet to the east of the previous photo, now facing slightly south-southwest.

The sprawling tree is a cherry tree; birds always destroy all the cherries, but I think they're tart, rather than sweet..

The periwinkle covered hummock in the foreground is dirt out of the basement, from one of the necessary rebuilding of interior retaining walls (*). I really wanted it dumped farther into the woods to extend the usable level of the yard. But the guy I'd hired to help me dig out the dirt misunderstood, I guess. Or else, dumping it here was easier than dumping it over the edge just a few feet farther. Past the hummock at the cherry tree is the drop-off into the woods.

(*) The basement was at most a root cellar when the original house was built as a cottage (possibly as a barracks for the orchard workers). When they doubled the size of the house in the 1930s, they made the root cellar into a full basement. However, since most of the original foundations went only a couple of feet deep into the ground, they built retaining walls *inside* the basement to hold up the soil that was holding up those foundations. These retaining walls weren't built properly and had collapsed over the years.

In this next photo, we see some "new" yard on the other side of that hummock. This area was built up of more soil out of the basement, from the rebuilding of different interior foundation retaining walls. In this case, I went all the way back to the original foundations -- which, with the 1930s additions, were now effectively inside the perimeter of the house -- and rebuilt them from the ground up, thus making the basement a bit larger. This area isn't as large as it appears to be in the photo.

Here, she has continued walking east, she's standing behind the basement, facing south-southeast, looking into the woods and down the hill on which the property is perched. Seen here is part of a pile of stones carried out of the basement, most of them originally foundation stones for the house; they're piled here along the edge of the drop-off into the woods. The white things faintly visible across the middle of the photo are houses down at the bottom of the hill -- actually, that street is built in a gully carved by a small stream; in this picture, you can just barely make out the other side of the gully up above and past the houses in the gully.

This would be several feet further on from the previous photo (that's the one end of the same pile of stones); a view down into the woods.

This is east of the house, standing in the sixth and largest lot, the sort-of triangular one. Off in the distance, you can just make out the houses to the west of my property.

My other sister, the older twin of the one who took these photos, gave me that window which is placed horizontally high up in the greatroom wall. Originally I put it in the foyer (as can be seen in the third picture here), before I built the greatroom addition.

I plan to have a gas fireplace below it, that's why that wall is mosly solid (you might have noticed that I really like windows, and don't like expanses of wall without windows) ... also, I was hoping to eventually have a cut-glass panel made to fit inside that window, to catch the morning sun. But, now that the roof over the patio cuts down on the light coming in through the greatroom's double-doors, I'll need to think about putting a large window there.

The avove photo was taken near the same place as the previous, though closer to the edge of the hill, and facing south; with a steep drop-off into the woods just visible. You can see some of the houses on either side of the street down in the gully. That line of trees marching down the hill is somewhere near the property line; to the right of the trees is my property, to the left is the property of the house in the middle of the photo. To the far left, you can just make out a different neighbor's fenced garden which is half way up the hill from his house.

This was taken farther east of the house, in the largest lot (the one I call "The Prarie"), looking toward the east. You can kind of see someone's house down there, over the side of the hill. The hill is very steep here. At the same time, the camera was at an odd angle -- the horizon here really is horizontal, and most of these trees are growing straight up.

In the foreground is some sand I used to fill one of the holes my sister's van kindly dug for me when we were using it haul up building material for the patio roof.

It had just rained earlier that day (which is why we decided to use the time getting more supplies), and that summer was wetter than most, so the tire just dug into the ground -- the soil here is heavy clay; it's hard as rock when it's dry, and spongy mud when it's full of water. In the spring, or after a heavy rain, while standing silently in this part of the yard (*), you can *hear* the water flowing through the soil.

(*) This lot is the naturally highest elevation of the property, and for many blocks around; the area where the house stands is higher than this lot, but it seems to be fill-dirt, rather than natural elevation.

This was taken farther back from the edge of the hill than the last photo, facing more south. Look at that! from clear across the yard, you can still see that trench in the grass (though, were is the other one?).

This was taken from the driveway, north and east of the house, looking east into "The Prarie."

This was taken from the driveway north of the house, facing north into the lot where the old Italianate house used to stand.

This is north of the driveway, looking west (you can just see the bend of the drive to the left). The tree up the right side of the photo is this humongous weeping spruce.

This is north of the driveway, looking north. The demolished house stood to the right side, out of the picture. I call this area "The North Slope" and I'm tired of cutting the grass and raking the leaves there; I've decided to mulch most of it over and put in plantings, perhaps let it go to wildish trees. At the same time, there is that huge spruce (which is one reason, aside from the slope, that it's a pain to maintain), which I don't want to be damaged by deciduous trees.

You just know she took this next one because women like to see men working. Either that or she wanted documented proof that I do, occasionally, do some work.

That tree going diagonally across the picture fell over in an ice storm a few years back. One of these days, I mean to finish cutting it up (it's still alive).

Would you believe that is one year's worth of leaves? No? *sigh* You're right, it just felt like I carted this many up the hill and to the compost heap in one autumn.

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Off The Beaten Path II

This post is to serve as an photo-update of one of the topics of the 'Off The Beaten Path' post.

As I mentioned in that post, I needed to put a roof over my house's patio to keep melted (and refrozen) snow out of the substrata; else within just a few years the frost-heaving would destroy the patio's retaining wall.

[If you click on the photos, you can see a larger image.]

This photo can serve as a "before" image of the area I was working on last summer.

One of my sisters came over from Indiana (250 miles away) for a weekend to give me a hand getting started with the construction. This photo is from mid-afternoon on Saturday; we have the south wall of the enclosure built. I think we went to get some dinner at that point -- Chinese, yumm!

This is later, after we'd continued around the corner with the wall. If you look carefully, you can see the patio's paving -- it's old granite street-paving stones.

This photo shows the semi-finished (I plan to sheath and side the wall's structure) result from across the east yard, taken in the fall of 2009.

A photo taken at closer range, again from the east.

... and from the south.

Here is a better view of the patio paving.

We'd have made better progress than we did, if not for all the time wasted getting her van unstuck ...

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Hand to the Plow

On the 'One Cosmos' blog, Dianne said: "I used to be terrified of it too [that is, of admitting that she, too, is a sinner], but then shaking with fright I asked God to put the truth in front of my face, because you can't fix what you don't know is broken - and now my relationship with God is a comfort to me. I'm not scared anymore - of life, death or God. (Well, I do get the occasional tremor, but that's usually because I'm afraid I'm not living up to expectations, but then I remember Jesus - and like Julie commented in an earlier post - just grab hold of the plow and hang on)."

Which comment reminded me of this song from 1976 that I'd like to share with Gentle Reader -- Paul Clark: Hand to the Plow

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Yahoo, Feds Battle Over E-Mail Privacy

Here is a fitting (and ominous) news item for April 15 --

Yahoo, Feds Battle Over E-Mail Privacy
Yahoo and federal prosecutors in Colorado are embroiled in a privacy battle that’s testing whether the Constitution’s warrant requirements apply to Americans’ e-mail.

The legal dust-up, unsealed late Tuesday, concerns a 1986 law that already allows the government to obtain a suspect’s e-mail from an ISP or webmail provider without a probable-cause warrant, once it’s been stored for 180 days or more. The government now contends it can get e-mail under 180-days old if that e-mail has been read by the owner, and the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections don’t apply.

Yahoo is challenging the government’s position and defying a court order to turn over some customer e-mail to the feds. Google, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy & Technology and other groups late Tuesday told the federal judge presiding over the case that accessing e-mail under 180 days old requires a valid warrant under the Fourth Amendment, regardless of whether it has been read.

“The government says the Fourth Amendment does not protect these e-mails,” Kevin Bankston, an EFF lawyer, said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “What we’re talking about is archives of our personal correspondence that they would need a warrant to get from your computer but not from the server.”

If the courts adopt the government’s position, the vast majority of Americans’ e-mail would be accessible to the government without probable cause, whenever law enforcement believes the messages would be relevant to a criminal investigation, even if the e-mail’s owner is not suspected of wrongdoing.

The legal jockeying began Dec. 3, when a Colorado magistrate ordered Yahoo to hand over to authorities e-mail communications under six months old “received by the specified accounts that the owner or user of the account has already accessed, viewed, or downloaded.”

Yahoo refused, claiming the Stored Communications Act requires the government to show probable cause to obtain that e-mail. The government asserted a lesser, warrantless standard that the “communications sought are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

The difference between those standards is the subject of fierce debate in the legal community.

But all sides agree that obtaining unopened e-mail less than 180 days old requires the authorities to make a probable-cause showing to a judge, and that after 180 days stored e-mail — read or unread — can be accessed without such a warrant.

The 1986 Stored Communications Act was enacted at a time when e-mail generally wasn’t stored on servers at all, but instead passed through them briefly on their way to the recipient’s inbox. In today’s reality, e-mail can, and is, being stored on servers forever. A consortium of businesses, including Google and Microsoft, recently asked Congress to update the law and require probable cause to obtain any e-mail.

But the government’s position in the Colorado case pushes the outdated law even further. Prosecutors are arguing that opened e-mail less than 180 days old is no longer in “electronic storage” as defined by the law — which allows the feds to obtain it with the lower standard.

The 1986 law defines electronic storage as “(A) any temporary, intermediate storage of a wire or electronic communication incidental to the electronic transmission thereof; and (B) any storage of such communication by an electronic communication service for purposes of backup protection of such communication.”

The government, in urging the Colorado court to compel Yahoo to comply, wrote in in a brief unsealed Tuesday that “[s]torage of previously opened e-mail (.pdf) does not fall within the subsection (A) of this definition because its storage is no longer temporary, intermediate, or incident to transmission. It does not fall within the subsection (B) of this definition because that subsection includes only copies of electronic communications stored by a service provider for its backup protection.”

In response, Yahoo said in a Tuesday unsealed court filing that the distinction is immaterial, “misguided” (.pdf) and settled in a recent civil case.

The EFF, Google and CDT asserted in its filing that all e-mail — regardless of its age or whether it was opened — should be subject to a probable-cause warrant. “The Fourth Amendment protects stored e-mails (.pdf) just as it does conversational privacy and private papers.”

The nature of the criminal case is under seal. The only available public record of the case concerns the constitutional issues surrounding the Stored Communications Act. All three of those filings are linked above.
Note: the government's argument -- "[s]torage of previously opened e-mail does not fall within the subsection (A) of this definition because its storage is no longer temporary, intermediate, or incident to transmission. It does not fall within the subsection (B) of this definition because that subsection includes only copies of electronic communications stored by a service provider for its backup protection" -- is the raw assertion that government officials can do anything they wish, unless there is a specific legislative act forbidding it. This, as anyone paying attention knows, turns the US Constitution on its head.

[The reason this is filed under "shades of grey" and "modernism and post-modernism" and "relativism" is that the government lawyers are behaving as post-modernists and realtivists -- they're essentially arguing over what "is" is; they're going their best to assertively create those (in)famous "Shades of Grey."]

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Draft the Obamas!

Here is an idea all we Patriots can get behind: The write-in campaign to draft the Obamas for a loooong stint on "Dancing With the Stars" (see the comments)

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Our Mother, Who Art in Heaven ..."

The thought occurs to me …

The sort of people who go around calling God “she” are also the sort of people who insist that we all must agree to call someone who clearly is a “he,” “she,” if that’s how he “self-identifies.”

Apparently, as these folk see it, God is not allowed to “self-identify” as “he.”

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Basil's Car ... and Justice

This post is offered in fulfillment of an implied promise I'd made to 'Crude' to "dig up and post my analys/smackdown of Richard Dawkins' "Dangerous Idea"."

Gentle Reader may, at his leisure, peruse Mr Dawkins' "Dangerous Idea" in his essay 'Let's all stop beating Basil's car.'

And, in contrast, here is C.S.Lewis' 'The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment.'

There are three main points I wish to make here:
  1. Richard Dawkins is a liar (worse than a mere liar, actually, as I'll explain) ... and that he admits so, in print;
  2. Richard Dawkins' "Dangerous Idea" is inhumane, and anti-human, and anti-justice; it is a sure 'Road to Hell' for any society to operate as though his assertions were true;
  3. Richard Dawkins' atheism compels him to assert these false and wicked things which he doesn't himself believe.
(I'll explain point #1 last) #2 Richard Dawkins' "Dangerous Idea" is inhumane, and anti-human, and anti-justice; it is a sure Road to Hell for any society to operate as though his assertions were true The introduction to Dawkins' essay:
Ask people why they support the death penalty or prolonged incarceration for serious crimes, and the reasons they give will usually involve retribution. There may be passing mention of deterrence or rehabilitation, but the surrounding rhetoric gives the game away. People want to kill a criminal as payback for the horrible things he did. Or they want to give "satisfaction' to the victims of the crime or their relatives. An especially warped and disgusting application of the flawed concept of retribution is Christian crucifixion as "atonement' for "sin'. Retribution as a moral principle is incompatible with a scientific view of human behaviour. ...
Punishment primarily for the sake of "deterrence" or "rehabilitation" is immoral, it is wicked (see Lewis' essay). The proper end of punishment is exactly "retribution," which is to say, "just deserts." Any moral, just, and proper rationale for inflicting punishment on a person must primarily involve the fact that he deserves it; if the punishment should happen to accomplish other good, that is bonus. But notice: Mr Dawkins is trying to raising a moral objection (to be more precise, moralistic, rather than moral) to retribution-as-justice; which is to say, he is objecting to justice, period. He is not putting forth an argument, mind you, but merely making an objection -- though one that gets any force it may ever have from his reader's willingness to be emotionally cowed or shamed by the baseless assertion that one is somehow immoral and/or "unscientific" if one believes that retribution is fit and proper when deserved. On a side note, the Christian understanding of the meaning of the Crucifixion may be incomplete, but that is a very different thing from being flawed, warped, or disgusting. AND -- considering what he wants *you* to believe to be true about the nature of reality -- where does he get off asserting that the Christian understanding of the meaning of the Crucifixion is "[a]n especially warped and disgusting application of the flawed concept of retribution," anyway? IF his other assertions in the article are true, then this assertion about Christianity is, at best, meaningless. Richard Dawkins holds forth with the "argument" for his "Dangerous Idea:"
... Retribution as a moral principle is incompatible with a scientific view of human behaviour. As scientists, we believe that human brains, though they may not work in the same way as man-made computers, are as surely governed by the laws of physics. When a computer malfunctions, we do not punish it. We track down the problem and fix it, usually by replacing a damaged component, either in hardware or software. ... Why do we not react in the same way to a defective man: a murderer, say, or a rapist? Why don't we laugh at a judge who punishes a criminal, just as heartily as we laugh at Basil Fawlty? Or at King Xerxes who, in 480 BC, sentenced the rough sea to 300 lashes for wrecking his bridge of ships? Isn't the murderer or the rapist just a machine with a defective component? Or a defective upbringing? Defective education? Defective genes? Concepts like blame and responsibility are bandied about freely where human wrongdoers are concerned. When a child robs an old lady, should we blame the child himself or his parents? Or his school? Negligent social workers? In a court of law, feeble-mindedness is an accepted defence, as is insanity. Diminished responsibility is argued by the defence lawyer, who may also try to absolve his client of blame by pointing to his unhappy childhood, abuse by his father, or even unpropitious genes (not, so far as I am aware, unpropitious planetary conjunctions, though it wouldn't surprise me). But doesn't a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or not? Any crime, however heinous, is in principle to be blamed on antecedent conditions acting through the accused's physiology, heredity and environment. Don't judicial hearings to decide questions of blame or diminished responsibility make as little sense for a faulty man as for a Fawlty car? Why is it that we humans find it almost impossible to accept such conclusions? Why do we vent such visceral hatred on child murderers, or on thuggish vandals, when we should simply regard them as faulty units that need fixing or replacing? Presumably because mental constructs like blame and responsibility, indeed evil and good, are built into our brains by millennia of Darwinian evolution. Assigning blame and responsibility is an aspect of the useful fiction of intentional agents that we construct in our brains as a means of short-cutting a truer analysis of what is going on in the world in which we have to live. ...
Note, first, that nowhere in his essay does Mr Dawkins actually present a logical argument supporting what he wants to convince his reader to believe to be the truth about the human condition and the nature of reality. Now, on my point here, rather than reinventing the wheel from scratch, I first direct Gentle Reader's attention to C.S.Lewis' 'The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment.' The thrust of Dawkins' "Basil's Car" argument, such as it is, is not that punishing people for their behavior may be ineffective in modifying their behavior, but rather that the concept of punishment is a category error. For, he starts with the assertion that human beings are not agents, any more than an automobile is; and since (as he asserts) humans are not agents, then they logically cannot be morally responsible for their behaviors. From the "Basil's Car" pseudo-argument, it is clear that Dawkins would have no philosophic difficulty with inflicting upon "criminals" the sorts of unpleasant conditions we already do ... just so long as it's not conceived as deserved punishment, but rather as therapy; that is, to "track down the problem [of their behavior] and fix it." Punishing (or, as we should say, "punishing") people for the primary purpose of modifying their behavior (i.e. "track[ing] down the problem and fix[ing] it") is exactly what Lewis is arguing against in 'The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment.' To punish a miscreant because he deserves to be punished is to affirm that he is a moral and rational being (and that we all are); to subject persons to certain conditions for the express purpose of "track[ing] down the problem [of their behavior] and fix[ing] it" is to deny all humans' status as moral and rational beings; it is to subvert actual justice. Once the immoral and unjust "therapeutic" model of "criminal justice" fully supplants the moral and properly just "retributive" model, there remains no philosophic hindrance to "punishing" some persons for "crimes" which they did not commit. For, after all, under the "therapeutic" model the philosophic rationale for the "punishment" is not actually to deservedly punish behavior which has occurred, but rather to deter behavior which has not occurred. And "punishing" the innocent may oftentimes be even more effective for that end than punishing the guilty. #3 Richard Dawkins' atheism compels him to assert these false and wicked things which he doesn't himself believe In the "Basil's Car" pseudo-argument, Dawkins asserts:
  1. that ALL things are fully explicable in terms of physics and mechanistic processes working out the effects of "antecedent conditions" -- that is, he asserts that materialism is the truth about the nature of reality;
  2. that there as no such things as 'good' and 'evil,' as men have always understood those terms, and certainly not with respect to morality;
  3. that we imagine the terms 'good' and 'evil' refer to real things is but the result of a "mental construct" -- constructed by a mindless and goalless mechanistic "process" -- and is similar to the fact that we breathe and eat;
  4. that agency is a fiction we construct in our brains about ourselves and others -- that is, he asserts that we ourselves do not actually exist, but that even if we did exist, we could not *choose* to do or not to do;
  5. that assigning blame (or praise!) is an aspect of the fiction that we, and others, are agents;
  6. that we construct this fiction to avoid knowing the truth about ourselves.
His implicit reasoning behind these assertions is logical, his assertions/conclusiosn logically follow from his mechanistic/materialistic view of the nature of reality; the problem is in his false foundational premise: atheism. And YET, for all that these assertions are logically consistent with his foundational premise, the whole structure of it is all vastly incoherent -- FOR human beings exist and these claims are about us, and they are false with respect to us. For one thing, if we are not really agents, then we cannot *ever* understand anything -- if we were indeed not agents, then we could never know that we are not agents. (I've explored this logical inevitability at more length in this post: You Cannot Reason.) The point now is that the claims he advances in this essay -- that concepts such as 'right' and 'wrong' and 'blame' and 'responsibility' are "outmoded" and false and "unscientific," for these and similar concepts refer to non-existent things -- follow directly from atheism. As I have explained in the You Cannot Reason thread:
GIVEN the reality of the natural/physical/material world, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholly reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes.
IF atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, THEN however it is that the world, and all that is in it, happens to exist, it is not (and cannot be) the result of an intention or intentions (I've explored this logical inevitability at more length in this post: The First Question), and *everything* must be wholly explicable and reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes -- because, logically, that would be *all* "the universe" ever has with which to "work." Of course, were atheism/materialism the truth about the nature of reality, then we cannot state, and certainly cannot grasp the truth of, the prior paragraph. Dawkins' assertions listed above are false, but they inescapably follow from the denial that there is a Creator -- this is why so many so-called atheists like to wave around the word 'emergence' as though it were a magical talisman. That the majority of self-professed atheists refuse to grapple with the logical entailments of atheism is quite irrelevant to the truth of the matter -- one simply cannot be a logically consistent atheist and simultaneously believe that any person is responsible for any behavior or choices. Another way to put this is that one simply cannot be a logically consistent atheist and believe that "free will" exists. Another way to put this is that if atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, then there are actually no such things as choices, as we have always understood them to be, for there exists nothing with the ability to choose. But, notice also, that if one is a logically consistent atheist, them one must, perforce, be irrational and incoherent! To be logically consistent (as an atheist), one must choose to become illogical! It's mind-boggling, isn't it? #1 Richard Dawkins is a liar, and admits so, in print This is easy to show. Let us now ignore the content of Mr Dawkins' "Dangerous Idea" and his argument (such as it is) aiming to convince others of its truth, let us ignore its inhumane implications, and consider merely the conclusion of the piece:
"... My dangerous idea is that we shall eventually grow out of all this [i.e. believing certain allegedly "unscientific" concepts] and even learn to laugh at it, just as we laugh at Basil Fawlty when he beats his car. But I fear it is unlikely that I shall ever reach that level of enlightenment."
Now, what does it mean to allege that some person lacks "enlightenment" with respect to some idea or concept? It is to assert that he does not (at least yet) understand it, and thus does not (at least yet) grasp the alleged truth of it, and therefore does not (at least yet) believe it to be true. But, this is not *me* asserting that Mr Dawkins lacks "enlightenment" about this or that; this is Mr Dawkins asserting about himself that he lacks "enlightenment" about the very thing he's trying to convince you to believe is the true picture of yourself and of everyone you know and of all reality. The man is a liar, and he admits so in print: He seeks to convince you to believe -- on the basis of nothing more substantial than the "authority" of his prestige and social status -- that which he admits that he does not himself believe, and recognizes that he probably never shall believe. Mr Dawkins says, on one hand, that the rational and "scientific," and hence *right* thing to do, is to reject the God of the Bible and the morality which follows from that God. And then, on the other hand, he seems to be saying that he hopes to one day arrive at a place where he no longer holds moral convictions at all -- including the "moral" convictions that we *ought* to reject God and accept "Darwinism." The man's not only a liar, and worse than a liar: he's incoherent and irrational. #1a Richard Dawkins is worse than a mere liar This goes back to something I'm forever, it seems, talking about: the moral and rational distinction between mere lying and intellectual dishonesty. Mere lying is episodic; but intellectual dishonesty is systemic. Mere lying is episodic: The man who is a mere liar lies about this or that truth-claim. To be sure, he may lie constantly, he may lie when there in "no percentage" (as the saying goes) to doing so, he may even lie when doing so defeats his own self-interest. He may act outraged when caught out ... but his lies depend upon truth being truth and reason being reason. On the other hand, intellectual dishonesty is systemic: The man who is intellectually dishonest, such as a Dawkins or an Obama, lies about the very natures of truth and reason themselves. To be sure, the intellectually dishonest man lies about this or that truth-claim, but the main thrust of his lies is to murder truth itself, to make rational reasoning difficult or impossible. As hypocrisy is to morality, so intellectual dishonesty is to reason. Intellectual dishonesty is hypocrisy with respect to truth and reason. Consider just this one assertion he has made in the article: "But doesn't a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or not? Any crime, however heinous, is in principle to be blamed on antecedent conditions acting through the accused's physiology, heredity and environment." Now, consider his purpose in this article: to assert (and browbeat the reader into assenting) that it is blameworthy for human beings to hold to the supposedly primitive and outmoded and "unscientific" concepts of blame and responsibility, and punishment. According to this paragon of reason (and we know he is, for he has told us so!), no one is blameworthy -- or praiseworthy! -- for anything; rather, all behaviors of human beings are due to "antecedent conditions acting through the [person's] physiology, heredity and environment." But, at the same time, *you* are blameworthy if you do not agree with the prior assertion.
(On a really weird side-note, the MS Word spellchecker knows that "Dawkin" or "Dawkin's" is a misspelling.)

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Monday, April 5, 2010

The meaning of the Passion

Edward Feser: The meaning of the Passion

And, as an added bonus, I have some related thoughts I wish to share with Gentle Reader --

These thoughts are something I've been thinking about for a while. I've expressed the basic idea somewhere or other, but not yet as fleshed-out as below.

In the comments section of Mr Feser's 'The meaning of the Passion' thread, 'Horatio' said:
The Res, whatever it is, is nothing like the Death of Socrates--indeed Feser suggests as much, by insisting on the miraculous nature.

Yet--if Christ is God (and capable of supernatural acts his entire life--as scripture makes clear--ie feeding 5000 with a few loaves, walking on water, etc), then He must be sort of...acting. He could at any time stop the proceedings. And He knows how it will turn out! He predicts the betrayal. In effect, He produced and starred in his own movie, and is playing ...everyone.
So He must be a bit of a masochist.

However the traditional catholic narrative insists on the pain, misery, suffering, etc.; the trad. catholics are the ones who humanize Christ (as the docetists realized--their messiah was no mere human....but the Word made flesh) who are the real blasphemers??

Responding to Horatio's post seemed to me an appropriate place to express these ideas:
Horatio: "Yet--if Christ is God ..., then He must be sort of...acting. He could at any time stop the proceedings. And He knows how it will turn out! He predicts the betrayal. In effect, He produced and starred in his own movie, and is playing ...everyone."

The Christ was not play-acting when he lived among us and allowed us to murder him.

And, as he was not play-acting, and as he really was tempted in all ways as other men are tempted, then he really might have sinned. For, if it were impossible that Jesus the Christ might have sinned, then it is meaningless to assert that he was tempted.

But, had he sinned, what would that mean? Why, it would mean the non-existence of all created things ... and of the Creator; for if “the ground of all being” is self-contradictory, then all being contradicts itself, denies itself, refutes itself. Christ was not play-acting; and there were real things at stake in the Incarnation.

Christ was not play-acting when he lived among us and allowed us to murder him. And, in fact, Christ has *always* -- and not merely when we murdered him -- made himself vulnerable to his creation. For Christ, by whom, and through whom, and for whom all that is created is created, continuously upholds the creation. All that exists exists because Christ participates in its existence (*). In creating/upholding the creation, Christ has always given himself into the hands of that creation; Christ has “always* placed himself at our (ahem) mercy -- we, who do not even have the standing to pass judgment, nor therefore to grant mercy, have *always* been given the ability to wound the Creator. And we have always done so; he has always been wounded for us, and by us.

(*) For, Christ is not "up there" ... watching our lives as though we were entertainment. He is, always, right here, living it with us. He lives it with us when we are betrayed ... and when we betray. Our sinfulness is so vile precisely because we drag The Holy One into the mud with us.

Horatio: "So He must be a bit of a masochist."

He has *always* loved you. He has always *known* you, and still he loves you. So, I guess, he must be a bit of a masochist.

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A Myth of Victimization

"No Irish Need Apply": A Myth of Victimization


Irish Catholics in America have a vibrant memory of humiliating job discrimination, which featured omnipresent signs proclaiming "Help Wanted--No Irish Need Apply!" No one has ever seen one of these NINA signs because they were extremely rare or nonexistent. The market for female household workers occasionally specified religion or nationality. Newspaper ads for women sometimes did include NINA, but Irish women nevertheless dominated the market for domestics because they provided a reliable supply of an essential service. Newspaper ads for men with NINA were exceedingly rare. The slogan was commonplace in upper class London by 1820; in 1862 in London there was a song, "No Irish Need Apply," purportedly by a maid looking for work. The song reached America and was modified to depict a man recently arrived in America who sees a NINA ad and confronts and beats up the culprit. The song was an immediate hit, and is the source of the myth. Evidence from the job market shows no significant discrimination against the Irish--on the contrary, employers eagerly sought them out. Some Americans feared the Irish because of their religion, their use of violence, and their threat to democratic elections. By the Civil War these fears had subsided and there were no efforts to exclude Irish immigrants. The Irish worked in gangs in job sites they could control by force. The NINA slogan told them they had to stick together against the Protestant Enemy, in terms of jobs and politics. The NINA myth justified physical assaults, and persisted because it aided ethnic solidarity. After 1940 the solidarity faded away, yet NINA remained as a powerful memory.
Of course, the folk who *need* to know this will choose to disregard it.

I'd actually read this before, some time ago, possibly even via this blog-post from Kathy Shaidle: 'If United 93 had been an Air Canada flight...' Some exceprts:
But then again, the Left draws most of its motivating energy from imaginary problems, like global warming, DDT, back alley coat hanger abortions, and the chronic boredom of American housewives in 1950s suburbia.

The Left is very concerned about something they like to call “social justice”, which I define as the stubborn application of unworkable solutions to imaginary problems.

Like Spinal Tap’s second drummer, who famously “choked to death on someone ELSE’s vomit,” Canadian leftists have always resented their neighbors in the United States for having a romantic, large scale Civil Rights Movement during the 60s and 70s.

So the HRCs became the Canadian Left’s state-sponsored version of the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit ins but, without the stirring LIFE magazine photos and crappy folk music soundtrack.

Going against that tide, in the US, Barry Goldwater bravely voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act on principle.

As one author explained:
Most of the twenty-seven senators who voted against the Civil Rights Act were Southern segregationists. Goldwater was not a segregationist, nor was he any kind of racist. He was, in fact, a lifelong opponent of racial discrimination. He desegegrated his family’s department store back in the 1940s; he was a member of the N.A.A.C.P.

But Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act because he believed, as a conservative, that the federal government did not have the power to compel states to conform to its idea of racial equality, or to dictate to individuals whom they must associate with.

Such “Love One Another Or Else” laws, from the Civil Rights Act to our own Section 13, inevitably bend under pressure from that other, higher, law: the Law of Unintended Consequences.

The fallout ranges from forced busing and white flight to those everyday resentments that simmer just below the surface as people cluster themselves into victim identity groups and complain about each other in whispers.

Human Rights Commissions were supposed to HELP the multicultural causes of tolerance and diversity. Instead, they pit groups against each other as they vie for favored victim status and the pitiful spoils that such status imparts.
The problem with the HRCs is most commonly presented as an issue of freedom of speech. However, I’d like to raise two additional aspects that don’t get as much play.

First, the HRCs are engaged in class warfare. The majority of “hate speech” cases are brought by highly educated, highly privileged white liberals -- against less educated, working class, blue collar “reactionary” whites, who insist on speaking to each other about topics like immigration, using old fashioned, politically incorrect language.

Therefore, the enforcement of Section 13 is an expensive exercise in state sponsored snobbery, in which citizen’s own hard earned tax dollars are used by their “betters” to scold and shame them. ...
The other problem rarely discussed in terms of the HRCs is that besides being an affront to freedom of speech, many cases violate the right to private property.

But conveniently enough, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does NOT recognize the right to private property anyhow. Thank you, Ed Broadbent.

Canadians therefore had to endure the spectacle of, for example, a man claiming the “human right” to smoke marijuana on the premises of someone else’s restaurant. The difference between that and insisting on being served at a Woolworth’s lunch counter is only a matter of degree.

Again, Barry Goldwater warned about this sort of thing but of course he was just an “insane” fascist right winger...
Of course, there is one vital and distinct difference of kind in regard to the Woolworth's lunch counters. And that is that, irrespective of whether the owners of Woolworth's wished to exercise their moral right to behave immorally by treating black Americans with contempt merely because they were black, the lunch counters were segregated under color and force of law.

Was it *really* necessary to permanently pit all Americans against one another, on a group basis of race or ethnicity, to correct that legalized injustice? How did "more of the same" solve the problem? How does that work, in actual reality?

"Justice, justice shalt thou seek," commands haTorah (Deut 16:20) -- one of the meanings of which is that we cannot seek/pursue justice by unjust means; we just can't make that work.

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Educationists ... bad for education

This is so true: Dressing Up Standards, Dumbing Down Schools

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Blogging for Cathy

Blogging for Cathy ... Or, It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

Over at April's (the Hyacinth Girl) blog, Cathy made a comment which I wish to share with Gentle Reader --

Now, and of course, April has far more readers (and commenters) then I -- for I have only you, my Gentle Reader -- but comments may easily be lost in all that bustle. Here, in the undisturbed peace and quiet of my tranquil (i.e. dusty) little corner of the blogosphere, one may more easily reflect at leisure.

First, for context, we need April's post:
While it would be superawesome if this guy were right, (the guy Steyn quotes, not Steyn), I’m not holding my breath. Perhaps I’m too cynical, but with our near-permanent welfare class and a generation of kids who’ve been told that they are children into their late 20’s, I cannot imagine a prolonged revolt against Obamacare. As I’ve said before, ultimately. free candy wins. Of course, there will still be the core of the Tea Party, but when the outrage wanes, a lot of people are going to tell themselves that, well, if the government is giving things away, they might as well get in on it.

I mean, why fight it? If it’s going to happen anyway, might as well benefit from it. Culturally, we readily accept the idea that we must follow the whims of our “betters”-how else do you explain the thousands of “Rachels” roaming the country throughout the ’90’s? How else do you explain the persistence of Hollywood to dictate public policy and influence presidential elections? Barack Obama is our first cool president, put into office by the endorsements of our self-appointed betters. Celebrities are our new royalty, and sadly for this nation, the opinion of Jennifer Aniston is a lot more important than cold, hard facts.

We are a lazy, spoiled, ADHD culture-soft and uninterested in thinking for ourselves. At least my generation is. I’ve met women my age who are almost proud of “knowing nothing about politics.” A mom told me once, “Can you just write up a list of people we should vote for?” Her playdates, soccer games, and story times at the bookstore were much more important. Obviously.

Sooner or later, the outrage runs out. The relentless media rebranding of the “Teabaggers” as angry, racist, uneducated, violent militants becomes mainstream knowledge and a pushback against the gaping maw of massive government and taxpayer debt becomes the last gasp of the marginalized, unnecessary white male. (Which is, paradoxically, sometimes led by an attractive, young, strong and well-spoken woman. But it’s best not to think about that for too long.)

As a society, we’ve accepted the idea that the famous are better than the normals. certain educational levels render one more or less credible to form a coherent thought, where one’s diploma is from further underscores the previous point, the wealthy are inherently smarter than the poor, and that journalists have our best interest at heart, and since they’ve got degrees, we should really listen to them.

So I’m not buying the idea that Obama is effing up in phenomenal fashion and taking the Democrat party with him. If a coordinated attack on the American mainland and the deaths of over 3,000 civilians doesn’t rouse (and maintain the interest of) a sleeping giant, what makes you think that the (relatively) instant gratification of unsustainable, expensive entitlements will?
First, a side comment about the "teabagger" smear of which the "liberals" are so fond: like most normal persons, I'd never heard of "teabagging" before Anderson Cooper decided to make the smear. Nevertheless, I'm fairly confident that I understand what "teabagging" -- as a social phenonenon -- is about: it's a display of dominance and submission.

SO: if the leftists see *us* as the "teabaggers," that must mean that they see themselves as the "teabagees." They call us "teabaggers" because they're afraid of us. They call us "teabaggers" because they *know* we can win this battle for the soul of America.

And now, without further adieu, Cathy's comment:
OK, so here’s what I’m thinking.

April is half-right (wait!), and so are we ALL when we say things about “the American People”, “the voters”, “our society” ETC.

As dissatisfied as we may be with the current administration, we just discourage ourselves when we say “This is what we did to ourselves,” when actually, it was only a little over half of the electoral college that did it to all of us.

When we say “the people want” we are generalizing inaccurately, just as the majority of the media, with their “mainstream knowledge”-inducing relentless repetition of spin, “suggestion”, un-checked-gossip-as-news, and occasional blatant B.S. (corrected on page 17), intend.

It may be “half true” that Americans are” soft and uninterested in thinking for ourselves.” But if we convince ourselves that this is true for everyone, instead of the maybe-half of the society around us, we forfeit the battle, unfought, to those who want to see ALL of us “infantilized” - dependent on, and uncritical of, an increasingly socialized system.

It’s not as though all the other people who voted for Not Obama left the country. Admittedly, there may be a variety of reasons “Tea Partyers” gather to protest legislation and denounce politicians. As Ilion points out in a comment at his blog:

If the people showing up are simply protesting the hit to their own pocketbook, the nation is doomed; if the people showing up are [] protesting on *principle* we may ride out the Obamanation storm.

But the fact that they DO gather, means that they share common ground; they DO think, they DO care, and they are NOT NECESSARILY going to give up and decide “If you can’t beat ‘em…”.

And the fact that those who do attend the meetings, and rallies, and “town halls”, statistically represent many others who feel as they do, means that a reversal in the leftward trend in this country’s institutions is still possible.

But no matter how long the outrage holds out, the battle cannot be won on outrage alone.

The hard part will be recognizing that an election in seven moths, or in two-and-a-half years, might not be all it takes to put things right. The hard part will be creating a slow, steady program of reasonable, rational persuasion, by conservative voices who have not undermined their credibility with hyperbole and histrionics, and by conservative politicians who have not already demonstrated the fragility of their convictions. The hard part will be finding leaders who can draw together Americans worried about the Constitution and Americans worried about their pocketbooks; American concerned about the availability of medical coverage for their children, and Americans concerned about the tax burdens their children will bear.

The GOOD part is, the job for those leaders is already half done.
Remember this, always: just because many American should-be citizens have already sold their minds (and liberty) for the chimera of statist promises of "security," does not mean that all have. Just because many should-be citizens wish to sell your and my liberty for those worthless and empty promises, does not mean that all do.

There are still Americans!

And the Fat Lady doesn't even want to sing.

(Michael W. Smith: 'There She Stands')

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