March 31, 2013

Happy Easter! Christos Anesti!

Easter Vigil, fire and Pascal candle, Fr Xavier

Easter Vigil, St Dominic's Church, March 30, 2013.
This picture I took may be a blur to most people, but it's a very cool moment. Sunday in the Church's reckoning begins at sunset on Saturday. The Easter Vigil commences in spooky darkness. A fire blazes up. The procession enters and approaches the fire, for the Service of Light, the Lucinarium. The fire is blessed and the Pascal Candle is prepared--you can see our pastor reading, and the candle. Everyone has small candles, and the flame begins to be passed from person to person, until the whole church is ablaze. Christ is risen!

The Vigil is the real celebration of Easter in the Church. The Sunday services are awesome, but secondary.

Bl. John Henry Newman, on why Jesus did not show himself to the multitudes when he was resurrected from the dead. [link]...

..It would seem, then, that our Lord gave His attention to a few, because, if the few be gained, the many will follow. To these few He showed Himself again and again. These He restored, comforted, warned, inspired. He formed them unto Himself, that they might show forth His praise. . . .

Doubtless, much may be undone by the many, but nothing is done except by those who are specially trained for action. . . . If the witnesses were to be such as really loved and obeyed the Truth, there could not be many chosen. Christ's cause was the cause of light and religion, therefore His advocates and ministers were necessarily few. . .

Now, let us observe how much matter, both for warning and comfort, is supplied by this view. We learn from the picture of the infant Church what that Church has been ever since, that is, as far as man can understand it. Many are called, few are chosen. . . .

But, besides this, we are comforted too; we are comforted, as many of us as are living humbly in the fear of God. Who those secret ones are, who in the bosom of the visible Church live as saints fulfilling their calling, God only knows.

. . .Let all "who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity" be quite sure, that weak though they seem, and solitary, yet the "foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." The many are "deceitful," and the worldly-wise are "vain;" but he "that feareth the Lord, the same shall be praised." The most excellent gifts of the intellect last but for a season. Eloquence and wit, shrewdness and dexterity, these plead a cause well and propagate it quickly, but it dies with them. It has no root in the hearts of men, and lives not out a generation. It is the consolation of the despised Truth, that its works endure.
Posted by John Weidner at 6:44 PM

March 24, 2013

Wrongly expressed...

Leon Podles writes, Judging or Banning?:

John Allen wrote about the papal election:  "No matter what happens, the church almost certainly won't reverse its bans [my emphasis] on abortion, gay marriage or women priests."

Ralph McInerney, who should have known better, also referred to the Church's "ban" on contraception.

The use of the words "ban" or "prohibition" are profoundly misleading, since these words refer to an act of the will.

However, the magisterium of the Church is not an act of the will, but of the intellect. It is matter of judgment. That is, the Church through its various organs, councils, synods, popes, and theologians, makes a judgment about a matter of the moral law. This judgment is guided by the Holy Spirit into a gradual attaining of the truth. At certain points the judgment becomes infallible - that point is sometimes a matter of debate.

The Church has not "banned" contraception or abortion; it has made a judgment that these actions are intrinsically wrong and contrary to the structure of reality that God has created....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:52 PM

March 21, 2013

Some balunky debunked...

Richard Florida Concedes the Limits of the Creative Class - The Daily Beast:

Among the most pervasive, and arguably pernicious, notions of the past decade has been that the “creative class” of the skilled, educated and hip would remake and revive American cities. The idea, packaged and peddled by consultant Richard Florida, had been that unlike spending public money to court Wall Street fat cats, corporate executives or other traditional elites, paying to appeal to the creative would truly trickle down, generating a widespread urban revival

Urbanists, journalists, and academics—not to mention big-city developers— were easily persuaded that shelling out to court “the hip and cool” would benefit everyone else, too. And Florida himself has prospered through books, articles, lectures, and university positions that have helped promote his ideas and brand and grow his Creative Class Group’s impressive client list, which in addition to big corporations and developers has included cities as diverse as Detroit and El Paso, Cleveland and Seattle.

Well, oops.

Florida himself, in his role as an editor at The Atlantic, admitted last month what his critics, including myself, have said for a decade: that the benefits of appealing to the creative class accrue largely to its members—and do little to make anyone else any better off. The rewards of the “creative class” strategy, he notes, “flow disproportionately to more highly-skilled knowledge, professional and creative workers,” since the wage increases that blue-collar and lower-skilled workers see “disappear when their higher housing costs are taken into account.” His reasonable and fairly brave, if belated, takeaway: “On close inspection, talent clustering provides little in the way of trickle-down benefits.”...

What we need are conservative Christian hipsters! The current sort of self-indulgent nihilistic hipsters are not going to produce any lasting fruit.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:36 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2013

Maybe there's something wrong with reality...

This piece, from BBC climate blogger Paul Hudson is a great example of how climate "scientists" baked their hypothesis into their computer models, the used their models to prove their theories. The basic theory is that since CO2 is a greenhouse gas in the laboratory, rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere must also act as a greenhouse gas and warm the planet.

Now we have a scientific problem! Nature isn't doing her part. Nature must be adjusted! It never enters the minds of the cultists that maybe the models were buncombe from the beginning. Real scientists would be questioning the models right now.

And Mr Hudson, if he was a real science reporter, would be pointing out that the computer models were always fairly sketch compared with the unfathomable complexity of global climate. For instance they are too coarse-grained to model clouds. We can assume that variations in cloud cover and type should have a large effect on climate, but nobody can say exactly what that will be.

Also, we are told climate models are verified by using them to "predict" the past, and then comparing those predictions with the historical record. And yes, they do that rather well. But the dirty secret is that all the models are "tweaked." They are tested, and then adjusted. Adjusted to fit what? Historical data.

BBC - Blogs - Weather - Global warming: The missing energy:

...My initial articles created huge interest around the world. They aimed to highlight the fact that global temperatures had levelled off at elevated levels, despite ever rising levels of greenhouse gases, a situation which remains unchanged nearly four years later.  

At the time there seemed to be a reluctance to acknowledge such a levelling off in global temperatures, although this is no longer the case.  

But Dr Kevin E Trenberth of University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) was one climate scientist at the time who did acknowledge this apparent lack of warming in surface temperature observations.  

It's now described as the issue of 'missing energy' - namely with rising levels of greenhouse gases, where has the expected extra global warmth, which basic physical laws predict, gone?...

Something I find interesting is that one of the underlying assumptions of leftist thought is that there is no human nature. What humans are can be changed. This is the same thinking that was behind Stalin sending geneticists to the Gulag, and feminists declaring that male and female are "social constructs." Or homosexualists doing the same to marriage.

Warmists seem to have a kind of analogous thinking. "Nature" is something we can just change. Gaia will conform to the models, or else! We humans are all-powerful, and can simply decide what the world is going to be like, and make it so.

All of these are intrinsically totalitarian, because they depend on forcing people to agree with "the model." They are also all intrinsically opposed to belief in the Judeo-Christian God, which always presupposes that there is such a thing as Truth, which we cannot alter.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:21 AM

March 11, 2013

An unadaptable species facing extinction...

Turbine in flames

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of slimy scumbags! The climate "journalist" is going the way of the Dodo. A species facing extinction. | Pointman's:

...This slow demise of so-called environmental journalism is actually an act of euthanasia, a mercy killing. To my mind, it always embodied the very worst aspects of journalism. All the grubby professional sins were there; advocacy dressed up as balanced reportage, an intolerant moral arrogance, totally one-sided reporting, knee-jerk churnalism, absolutely no distinction between opinion and factual pieces, suppression of stories that didn't square with an approved set of viewpoints, selective misinformation, hit pieces dressed up as respectable journalism directed at their pet hate figures, a crusading willingness to sacrifice truth, by both omission and commission, in the name of a higher cause and a basic dishonesty to both the reader and their profession

The environmental niche in which such dire journalistic practices could flourish, is on the way out and they're simply not adapting to that new situation. Beyond a large amount of denial and what frequently looks to be plain displacement activity, their solution appears to be to try and repackage the product, but that simply doesn't address the fundamental problem - the product no longer has any mass appeal. It's not selling. Read it. That's the writing on the wall.

Things like Climategate, along with a cascade of other gates and a stream of failed predictions, have undermined and destroyed the credibility of the science on which the whole house of cards stood. It's toast. Because of the easy ingrained habits of churnalism, passively reproducing press handouts and never doing much more than commenting on other people's articles and papers, they failed in general to produce outlets publishing a steady stream of original and quality content. Their volume audience was essentially a transitory fashion demographic, and the fashion has now changed. When that happened, they lost their mass audience.

Ordinary people, struggling through the worst recession in living memory, see environmentalism as just another financial overhead they're having to contend with. They simply haven't got time for it any more. No time and no interest at all.
It was a type of journalism which was never really about the environment, never mind science, but rather it was about the idea of a single correct political viewpoint on any topic. It was a vital element of a failed social re-engineering project, which now lies in ruins. They rode a hysterical fashion wave far up the shore in the mistaken belief that it was somehow permanent, but that wave is now receding, never to return.

People have by now gone through the stage of tiredly shrugging off your latest efforts to continue scaring them and are just plain ignoring you at this stage, which is why all the cuts. You're being culled, because the bean counters are perceptive enough to know there won't be any blowback these days from any significant quarter....

Posted by John Weidner at 7:12 PM

March 6, 2013

iPhone like clothes from Walmart?

I found this 3-part piece by tech writer Andy Ihnatko interesting. Customize and collaborate: Why I switched from iPhone to Android, Part 2 | TechHive. His priorities aren't mine, and I doubt if I'll switch anytime soon. Except that I'd love the bigger screen. (Hint, Apple. iPhone Maximus—I'm ready to buy.)


If I don’t like the way my iPhone works, I don’t hesitate: I search online. I can count on finding an answer. Not a way to make my iPhone work the way I’d like it to; rather, a Perfectly Reasonable Explanation of why Apple believes that the iPhone should work that way, and why it refuses to let me override the default behavior.

If I don’t like the way my Android works and I look online for solutions, I can usually find a way to change it.

I encountered many—oh, wow, trust me on this: many—annoying quirks when I took the Galaxy S III for its first test spin. I gave those quirks a chance, but by the end of the first week, I’d turned off almost all of them. And by the end of the first month, I had a phone that felt custom-fit to my personal likes and dislikes.

iOS is beautifully designed. And I myself am usually the first to present the argument that a designer (who spends all day, every day, thinking about how a phone ought to work) starts off with a much better understanding of what’s good for the user than the user (who’s slotted “buy new phone” in between “drop off dry cleaning” and “refill cat’s fungus cream prescription” on today’s to-do list).

At times, however, the iPhone and iOS feel like the clothing styles available to me at Walmart. They’re designed to be Good, or even just Acceptable, for a very wide range of consumers. I want something that’s going to be Excellent, for me.

Android has a consistent core philosophy that I find instinctively compelling: why wouldn’t a phone give its sole user a vote on how their device works? And because Android mostly hides its customization features where they won’t be discovered without a deliberate search, these options are unlikely to confuse anyone....
Posted by John Weidner at 4:43 PM | Comments (0)

March 4, 2013


This piece I stumbled upon is an especially rich concoction of little things that bother me. Rowley's Whiskey Forge: The Wu of Maker's Mark. I've added numbers and footnotes...

...It wasn’t indignation over the decision to dilute the whiskey or even anger, really, I felt. Rather, it was sadness. Another layer on our ever-thickening patina of loss. True, Americans have experienced great gains in recent decades in fields such as medicine, technology, and publishing. But we have suffered a concomitant erosion of our greatness. [1] Heroes once idolized have been exposed as flawed — sometimes deeply flawed — humans; [2] OJ Simpson, Lance Armstrong, Joe Paterno, John F. Kennedy, Michael Vick. Endless obstructionist caviling among our politicians have led many to despair that we will ever be [3] better off than our parents.

Our entertainment has grown recursive; [4] witness the remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Arthur, The Karate Kid, or Gus Van Sant's scene-by-scene reshoot of Pyscho, movies that did not need to be remade, that arguably should not have been remade, that do not leave the world a better place in their passing. [5] Our homes, by and large, are not built as well as those of a hundred years ago. On it goes. [6] NASA's space program: gutted. [7] New Orleans: flooded and nearly lost to us. [8] The lunacy of creationism taught as fact to defenseless children who will be unable to compete for jobs as adults because they simply will not understand how the natural world works as well as their grandparents did....

1. "Greatness" is never defined in this type of piece. But the unspoken assumption is always some kind of Industrial Age thinking. "Greatness" equals some extravaganza organized by government, with the citizenry as passive useless spectators. That's boring in the Information Age.

2. Actually they were often flawed in the past, but society conspired in a lot more cover-up.

3. "Better off " is never defined in these pieces. That's sloppy thinking. (My dad was afflicted for decades with stomach ulcers. I buy Prilosec at Costco. Who's "better off?")

4. Everything is recursive in the Information Age. That's one of the underlying problems. I often call this world we are in "The Age of No Solid Ground." Everything becomes Disneyland. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy. If there is an authentic original it is lost in the fog. When I was a lad, blue jeans were still work pants for cowboys, plus children's wear for boys. My world was still in touch with the original thing. Now the variations on the blue denim theme probably number in the millions, are global, and are for every social class. Probably most people are completely unaware that they are wearing a recursion of work clothes. They've also forgotten that my generation took to wearing jeans as adult wear partly because the problem of authenticity had already become apparent, and we thought of them as something real and unspoiled. Even as we were destroying that very quality by adopting them en mass!

5. Nonsense. Most of the homes preserved from 100 years ago were built for the well-to-do. It is silly to compare them with today's homes in general. They had splendid craftsmanship, to be sure. But that was possible because the craftsmen were what we would call poor people, and lived in what we would call shacks, which have mostly vanished.

6. "NASA's space program" is not space. We've been hoodwinked by the idea that NASA and big government are the only way we can approach the vastness beyond our atmosphere. I think this is just cowardice. Space is so big that we are intimidated, and want to limit it to a meager simulacrum, performed by a handful of uniformed government workers. I spit with utmost contempt on this rubbish. Space belongs to the frontiersmen, not the bureaucrats. I'm probably too old, but my children or grandchildren will go, with no one's permission, with no prissy white space suits with blue logos, No 5-year plans, and do great things undreamed of by declinists.

7. The kind of river-delta land New Orleans is built upon slowly sinks, and can only continue to exist because of periodic flooding which deposits new soil. Once the floods were prevented, New Orleans was doomed. It is now 18' below sea level! How stupid can you be, to sit there for a couple of centuries as you sink, and not re-think! How stupid is the author to imagine that New Orleans has some intrinsic right to exist?

8. I'm an orthodox Catholic, and we think that Creationism is rubbish. But it's not like the average graduate of government schools can think or speak intelligently on evolution by natural selection. Or the average NPR listener. Or probably the author. This is just silly liberal elitism. Jobs will still go to those who can do the work. And if we are talking science, the science to pay attention to is demographics. And the demographers say that the most important correlative to fertility rates is religious faith. In a nutshell, believers still have babies. Liberal materialists do not reproduce at anywhere near replacement rates. They have no future. The sort of people who go in for Creationism are evolutionarily superior to the trendy liberal materialists who sneer at them!

Posted by John Weidner at 6:09 PM | Comments (0)