If it were a sin not to keep up with one's fellow bloggers, mine would be mortal. My apologies. I just don't have time. When I do steal a moment to visit someone, like, say, Christine of Laudem Gloriae, I'm always in for a jolt. For example, she now has a picture to accompany her profile, and it turns out she's rather stunning. Somehow I knew she would be, but I'm still stunned. There's always seemed something special about her (as is true of a number of the lady bloggers (some of the guys are ok, ho-hum)). I wonder if it is that she's got some Asian in her. Vietnamese, I think. Like Culbreath's wife. I tell you what, you take an Asian woman and give her some Christianity and you're in the company of a wonder of the modern world. (Or you could just do Asian period.) It also seems that she (Christine) has moved to Dijon, France while I wasn't looking, of which she posts some beautiful pictures, and I want to know what kind of life this is, that one graduates from Oxford, goes to law school at Notre Dame, and ends up living in a picturesque village in France. She also has a lot pictures concerning Britain's role in WWII; I don't know what inspired it (and the pictures aside, she's put up a whole bunch of good posts) but I hate falling behind. Did you know that I didn't know that the Supreme Court back in April upheld the partial birth abortion ban? Yeah. And no exception for the life and health of the mother. I didn't even know that Amy Welborn had switched to a new website. I don't think I'll ever catch up.
I also came out of my hole once only to hear on the news that Hilary was leading everybody in the Presidential sweepstakes, and pondering the prospect of that puckered shrewish face letting loose that shrill, shriekish voice for eight years of my American life sent me hunting for relief. So I found these. I love this stuff. Can't help it: here, here, here, here, and here.
* * *I guess I shouldn't be so hard on the students, though. The fact that some of them are wrong about very important things doesn't mean they aren't bright. The ones that favor, say, embryonic stem cell research simply think that the medical benefits to be gained outweigh the taking of a dubiously human embryonic life. The ones in favor of abortion are mostly not for it (for themselves) but are rather in favor of the freedom to choose, a not uncommon affliction in which one believes either that the mother's life outweighs in importance that of the dubiously human embryo she's carrying, or, (taking the legalistic approach) that the mother's right to bodily autonomy outweighs our right to tell her what to do with it, which doesn't seem to me to make those students any dumber than, say, Rudy Giuliani. They, like Rudy, are simply trying to have it both ways. Rudy, for example, is pro-abortion, but finds the procedure so repulsive that he promises to appoint judges who might be willing to overturn it. One might presume that this approach - this habit of condemning a thing while reserving the right to indulge it - is a peculiarly liberal way of treading the path of righteousness, but then my National Review magazine shows up in the mail, and as I'm flipping through the first few pages of this Leading Conservative Voice, I'm treated to the editors' teaching on torture:
Waterboarding is certainly close to the line of torture (which, under U.S. law, is defined as an act "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering"). But it has long been used against our own military in interrogation-resistance training: If it is torture, we are guilty of war crimes against ourselves.Isn't that cute? What we do in training is the same as what we do to the enemy. Maybe we'll put ourselves on trial someday.
A better case can be made that it constitutes "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" treatment, also forbidden by U.S. law. Even here though, there are ambiguities in the law that make it a complicated question.Here's how it works. If a thing is simply bad, but you think you might want to do it sometime, call it "complicated".
We think the use of waterboarding should be limited to high-value captives with knowledge of ongoing plots, such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who reportedly broke within minutes of being subjected to the technique.So it might or might not be torture, but you'll break within minutes of being subjected to it. It's ordinarily a bad thing, too awful to waste on low-value captives, but if you're high-value it suddenly becomes, mirabile dictu, a good thing. And you thought 24 was just a TV show.
The misery continued when I bumped into a colleague out at school - a golfer, a Catholic and a conservative. (No, I didn't walk into a mirror.) He asked me if I was prepared to vote for Rudy, apparently on the assumption that he will be the Republican nominee. I said no. He accused me of being a "purist" and further announced that I would be personally responsible for electing Hillary and the havoc she was sure to wreak on the Republic. I said that, no, Rudy would be responsible, and told him how I'd come to this conclusion. Some days ago Paul Cella sent me a link to a magazine article in another Leading Conservative Voice, the American Spectator, in which the author's thesis is that Roe v. Wade is still law today because, in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, Anthony Kennedy was there to cast the deciding vote and Robert Bork was not; and that Bork was not there because of a 1986 election in which a number of Republican congressmen and senators did not get re-elected; and that they did not get re-elected because certain conservatives among us did not turn out in sufficient numbers, the relevance of it all being that if we behave similarly in this coming election - as James Dobson has threatened to do if someone like Giuliani is nominated - we will be responsible for cementing Roe into American law unto perpetuity. As the author puts it: "An amazing thought, no? Roe v. Wade: the conservative legacy."
So I wrote a letter to the editor:
It's interesting that Mr. Lord would require a certain brand of conservative voter to shoulder the blame for the persistence of Roe v. Wade in law. His counsel is that it is not wise to be too "pure". We must sacrifice a principle here and there for the greater good.Not that I've checked, but I don't think they published it.
And then I wondered: why must it be this way? Why can't (just for example) Rudy Giuliani sacrifice his principles. Why can't he chuck his pro-choice stance and claim conversion to the pro-life cause? Others have done it before him and gotten away with it. Why can't he let go of his pro-gay marriage position and get behind the Federal Marriage Amendment? Well, because it would be too obviously opportunistic, and voters value honesty above all in their candidates. (But, apparently, not in themselves.) Better that the voter be a hypocrite, so that his candidate need not be.
Another implication of Mr. Lord's argument is that what we are really voting for when we enter the polling place is not a candidate, but a judge, someone who doesn't even hold elective office. If we must lie to our conscience to vote for a candidate who will then appoint a judge who will then rule over us as Mr. Lord sees fit, something's badly wrong. Constitutionally, you might say.
I've come to the conclusion that the mode of thought (the one in which we make safe a little place for evil in case we need it sometime) embraced by NR's editors, the Spectator's article, and my teaching colleague (whom I genuinely like; it's possible to like people even when they're wrong; good thing, too, or I wouldn't have any friends and not a lot of family) is normal. That is, it is the pattern of moral musing common to the great lot of men, a pattern into which their minds naturally fall and to which they most easily give consent. It genuinely appeals to their sense of right and wrong and their desire to do justice. Perhaps this is why I am often drawn to abnormal people. For example, if you have read Veritatis Splendor in its entirety, I consider you abnormal. If you have read it and understood it, you probably occupy, in terms of numbers, that human demographic represented by an Aborigine in the Outback. If you have read it, understood it, and given it your consent (that is, to the proposition that you may not ever, under any circumstance, no matter how urgent, do evil that good may come), you are probably so rare among men as to be nearly of another species. Which is my customarily roundabout way of saying that I suspect most Catholics are normal. I am currently working on a scientific study to back up this assertion. Well, to be perfectly honest, the study is still in the planning stages. But I will work on it as soon as I'm released from hell.
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, those students don't look so bad anymore.
* * *I've made it sound like every time I come up for air, something bad is there to greet me. But it's not entirely true. A good reporter has an obligation to reveal the good news as well. I hear the surge is working. Deaths among both military and civilians have gone down in Iraq. I don't remember where I heard it, but I did. The bad news is that a lot of people don't seem to care. (Just can't leave the bad news alone, can you Mr. L? Sorry, but that's the way the world is. It's a bad news-good news kind of deal.)
Another piece of good news is that Francis Beckwith has joined the W4 crowd. You've probably heard of him, or read some of his articles or one of his books. Sometimes contributes to First Things, Touchstone, etc. Philosophy prof at Baylor. A former colleague of Lydia McGrew's at Right Reason, they are now re-united. Now I don't feel so bad about leaving. With him, they don't need me. Oh, and Dr. Beckwith - after serving some high profile time in the Evangelical movement - is a recent convert to the Catholic faith. You can never have too many of those, I guess. As long as they're abnormal.
Well, that's it for the good news. Wait! My girls are coming home for Thanksgiving. (How long, O Lord?)
* * *My wife accused me of immaturity the other day. I don't know how it came up. I probably saw some half-dressed female on TV or something and displayed a suitably juvenile sense of appreciation.
"When are you going to grow up?" she asked.
"When are you going to grow up? You know, like for good."
"I am grown up," I said.
"See what I mean?"
* * *All right, one other bad thing I didn't want to tell you about. I surfaced a few weeks ago and made my monthly visit to the Sitemeter pages and found this URL. The host believes in a young earth. There were some comments to the post, and I was thinking it was all very interesting but also wondering what it had to do with me. In short, whence the link? There was a commenter named William arguing against the host's thesis, but so what? Common name. I skimmed quickly, but noticed in William's second comment a link to an old post of mine for which William claimed to be the author. Outraged, I fired off an email to TSO:
...purely by accident I found a post at this site in which the blog host argues for a young earth, and in comments some guy calling himself William tries to refute, in the process linking to one of my posts and implying that he is the author. In short, me. But it wasn't me. I mention it because I notice you commented in a later post...and that guy is there again, and by then the host must have thought that "William" and I are the same person. It's strange how much it pisses me off. It happened back in April 2006, and I wasn't even aware of the blogsite until today.TSO was duly sympathetic:
Wow, I've heard of people impersonating other people on the 'net - it's obviously ez to do - but never knew anyone who was...So I headed back to the site. I'd fix William. I entered comments and composed one of my own:
Mr. Wiseman [the bloghost], the commenter above who calls himself "William" links to a post at my blog and gives the impression that he wrote it. Well, I am the host of that blog and author of that post, and I want it understood that I neither made any of the above comments, nor do I consider "William's" imposture the sincerest form of flattery. It's just another form of plagiarism, also known as stealing.That should take care of it. Still fuming, I went up and started reading William's comments more closely. Hmm, I thought, sumbitch writes pretty well. Kind of full of himself, though, as when he begins: "I don't have time to refute all your 'beliefs' (which is what they are)..." As I read further, I found myself somewhat agreeing with William - 'yes, that's a point worth making' - and even: 'you know, he sort of sounds like me in places; best damn impersonation I've ever...' - and then a synapse fired somewhere in the cranial recess and it all started coming back. I remembered. Vaguely, but I remembered. Made so many comments in those days they're all just drifting, forgotten, in the cyber ether. Damn. Now what?
I returned to my email client. Ahem. Dear TSO:
After re-reading, I realized those comments at the young earth blog were mine. I could tell by the style and content. I swear I don't remember making them. I'm going freaking senile. So now I've accused myself in public of impersonating myself. There's got to be some fodder for a post in there somewhere. If I can just figure out how to reveal it without embarrassing myself too much. It'll be hard to pull off, pretending not really to be the person I thought was not me. You still with me?He responds:
That is hilarious. You know, as I was reading it I thought "well, this sounds like Bill and it's a position I could easily see Bill taking." I thought as long as someone is impersonating you it may as well be someone who agrees with your views. And if it's you impersonating yourself, all the better. I'd be glad to post this on my blog, using your name, of course. It is blogworthy.I declined. If humiliation must needs come, it would come at my own hands. I also put a final comment in the box. I don't want to reproduce it. It's there if you're interested. A man can only take so much. The place hasn't been updated since 2006, so with luck the bloghost will never read it. A few others will stumble upon it by accident. So what do I care what they think?
The point of it all being that anyone whose mental functions are so poorly ordered ought to get back in his hole and stay there. So...'bye.