Old Oligarch's Painted Stoa

Past Posts of Note
Substantative, in chronological order
The Sunday obligation and illness: question, research & my answer

Denial of personhood: Dei Filius & Terri Schiavo

On Modesty 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Differing with Dulles 1 & 2 on pro-abort politicians

Mad About Manuals 1 & 2

Absinthe recherches early, required reading, 2, 3, 4.

First time at an abortuary

The Maundy

TPOTC impact & analysis and more

Contraception reflections 1, 2

Meiwes, propheta, übermensch

Headship Loggerheads 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Matrix: Revolutions

Matrix: Reloaded
1, 2 & 3

Terrorist Attack Preparations, and follow-ups 1 & 2 & 3


Casuistry of Drinking

Review of Auto Focus

Parish Review 1

The Power of Shame

Biblical Hermeneutics

Ayoob on Guns

Against the Ordination of Women

Two Cents on Braveheart


Thematic Meditations

E-mail Me
oldoligarch @yahoo.com

Who Knows?
I Might Respond!

E-mail Policy
Any e-mail I receive is fair game for publication, with comments, unless you explicitly say so beforehand.

Gabriel Possenti

The WeatherPixie
Weather at Dulles Airport

Powered by Blogger

My Atom Site Feed
I will resist making comparisons to the Kursk disaster: Russian Army Struggles to Save Beer from The Mansfield Fox.

Speaking of Mansfield Street, during my senior year, a friend had a house there. In giving directions to a Jewish friend, he said of the famously-shaped Yale hockey rink: "Walk up the street until you see a building shaped like a Reform synagogue. Then take a left." Clearly Orthodox Jewish dislike of modern synagogue architecture :: Catholic dislike of modern church architecture.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/31/2004 09:16:00 PM | link

Reflections at random on the readings for today

From the O.T., the calling of Jeremiah (Jer 1:4-5, 17-19): A classic passage of charismatic authority vs. institutional authority in ancient Israel. I have long tried to put myself into the picture and to visualize the nature of the conflict between the prophet and the priesthood and monarchy: How the prophet presented himself, whether he was esteemed by many of his countrymen, how he maintained personal holiness and integrity while being "a wall of brass" and a firebrand.

Yet I also think of how many times this text has been co-opted by some disaffected dissident who has recently traded his Che Guevara poster for a copy of Leonardo Boff, or some crusader for "women's rights," "sexual freedom," etc. In Div School, so many students applied this text to themselves as "reformers of the hierarchy." I am amazed at how readily these people equated their latest philosophical inclination or long-standing dissatisfaction about some "hard saying" of the Church with the theophanic majesty of the divine locution which empowered Jeremiah to oppose the authorities of his day.

If the text makes any point about charismatic vs. institutional authority, it refutes the mentality of those who would seek to use it as a ready-made symbol for their dissent. The text shows us that only by a special act of divine intervention, by a calling prepared by God for Jeremiah from before his birth, does God rebuke / chastize / overturn the priesthood and monarchy which He has established. Before anyone takes it into his own hands to "school the hierarchy" while claiming "the inspiration of the Spirit," he should first read this text in conjunction with all the other biblical texts dealing with dissent and authority. I think first of all of Numbers 16 and the Schism of Korah / Dathan and Abiron. Just as God slew the opponents of Moses, one should also fear those who sit in the "Chair of Moses" and the King "whose heart is in the hand of the Lord." One should think of David who never lifted a hand against Saul, "the Lord's anointed," despite all of Saul's wickedness.

So it is true: Jeremiah's calling is intimately tied to dissent and to the rebuking of institutional authority. It has to be. Because the norm is that he would have ended up dead, and rightfully so, by the law of the Lord.

In the Epistle, I was struck by this passage from St. Paul:

"...and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Cor 13:2-3).

What does this tell us, except that faith alone does not justify? Do we not see here, in St. Paul's own words, that only faith operating through charity (Gal 5:6) justifies? And, as St. James teaches, that faith without works is dead (James 2:26).

If St. Paul teaches sola fidei, how could he account the "the faith which moves mountains" to be nothing? And how could an external confession of faith, and indeed martyrdom be counted nothing, unless justification intrinsically involves something more than faith alone?

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/31/2004 08:01:00 PM | link

I'm sure Zorak blogged this just for me: some unlucky soul tries to make sense out of the nursery rhyme "Sing a song of sixpence". Why do I know she blogged it just for me? Because I hate English nursery rhymes.

Zorak is against telling our children the Santa Claus myth -- or indeed any myth. While I don't agree with her*, I'm willing to strike a deal, since my disagreement about Santa isn't absolute. In exchange for no Santa, no English nursery rhymes. They don't make a damn bit of sense half the time, and they certainly don't make any sense to children. I'd much rather them sing uebernerdly songs about calculus, or School House Rock. What the heck is the meaning behind Humpty Dumpty? And if one goes into a longwinded explanation about a certain British testudo that only 0.5% of the people who have learned "Humpty Dumpty" understand, is the song really worthy singing? (Other theories include: Charles I, Richard III, an egg, a fat person, the Roman Empire, etc. etc. etc.) Some of the rhymes, like 'Sixpence,' are so completely opaque, I'd rather teach my children to sing Tuva, and trust me, that's not high on my list of things to do.

*Rather than open the blogosphere annual Santa Claus debate out of season (from which I abstained last year, despite interest, due to its coincidence with finals), I will merely state that my main reason for disagreement with Zorak about Santa lies in what seems to be her categorically negative attitude toward any myth whatsoever in preference to strictly propositional explanation. I consider insistence on a completely post-mythic educational process to be an excess of rationalism, which must take its toll somewhere in the psyche of the developing child.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/31/2004 05:33:00 AM | link

As Kerry emerges, so does concern that as President, he may be denied communion. From fmifa.

Pray that Archbishop O'Malley sticks to his guns and rouses his fellow members of the episcopacy to take up the long-slackened reins of Church discipline and reverse the years of the cowardly behavior by Cardinal Law who handed the Body of Christ to that drunkard, pro-child-murdering Ted Kennedy again and again.

I've seen priests and bishops coming around on this matter both in the Arlington diocese and around the country. Let's pray that they clarify the matter from the start, and establish that the Gospel cannot be sold. Excommunication is tough love. It forces a lying politician to be honest.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/31/2004 03:41:00 AM | link

I give you: The Jackalope conspiracy. And evidence from around the world.

I've been up for 36 hours pretty much, even though I have cold. I haven't eaten anything save a bowl of buckweat and a bag of salt&vingegar potato chips during the past two days. I'm trying to give insomnia the message, "Go away, I don't like you." But it doesn't take a hint.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/30/2004 01:02:00 PM | link

I've been stewing all day today. If you can call it "day." Got up at 4pm. Yep, pm. Went to 7am Mass this morning with Zorak because we were both still up then. Now that we are both home together, it's hell on our sleep schedules, since we are both noctural, and per twist of fate, now she's the one who can't sleep nights. Since I am in a rotten mood, I've been eating like a pig all day today.

Here's another reason to eat beef jerky. Not only will it not get you fat no matter how much you eat, on the back of Jack Link's Beef Jerky it says:

"The meat contained herein is for personal use only.... It is derived from animals that received ante and post mortem inspection and were found sound and healthy and has been inspected and passed as provided by law..."

Mmmm, mmm, good.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/26/2004 01:21:00 AM | link

More "recently updated" gold -- a first post. I always find converts so interesting.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/26/2004 01:20:00 AM | link

You've tried to read Of Grammatology, but had an aneurysm. You got drunk reading Chora. Now, save yourself the mental energy and see Derrida, the Movie, coming to the Kennedy Center this Spring.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/25/2004 06:16:00 PM | link

What, me blog a minute etymological observation? Never.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/24/2004 09:40:00 PM | link

Despoiling the Egyptians
I purchased two screeds against the Church's teaching on birth control and other sexual matters today: Uta Ranke-Heinemann's Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven, and John T. Noonan, Jr.'s Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists.

The purpose? Both are filled with lots of great data, albeit assembled by authors who seek to obscure or oppose the doctrine of the Church. Ranke-Heinemann's book positively drips with vitriol, from the first page onward, where we learn that (a) She was the first lay woman to qualify as a university lecturer in the field of Catholic theology in Germany in 1969, and (b) Shortly thereafter, she lost her chair of theology because of heretical teaching about Our Lady's virginity. The woman is a complete nut -- morbidly burning with hate for the Church's teaching, twisted with an obsession for demanding an ecclesial endorsement for libido -- but it's precisely her obsessive-compulsive urge I hope to someday harness for the good. While her methods are unsound, her data can be quite interesting and useful to the orthodox. Just some examples:

A dubium was submitted to the Holy Office in 1916 asking whether a wife may consent to sex with her husband if he insists on using a condom. Furthermore they asked about her response if he becomes pushy or coercive about it. The Holy Office replied: The wife must resist her husband "as she would a rapist" (3 Jun 1916).

On Bastille Day in 1872, Swiss Cardinal Gaspard Mermillod addressed the French people who had taken up the practice of coitus interruptus and contraception in vigor. While I don't care for the success or failure of French imperialistic designs, his words apply to us today in our situation with Islam: "You have turned away from God, and God has struck you. In an abominable calculation you have shoveled graves instead of filling cradles with children. That is why you lacked soldiers."

We also learn from Heinemann that during Tridentine times, Pope Sixtus V "had a priest and boy burned at the stake for sodomy, although both had voluntarily confessed their guilt." 'Nuff said.

Sure there are all the typical methodological excesses: Attributing the same weight as precedent to doctrinal and disciplinary matters, going nuclear whenever a bishop or pontiff displays poor administrative, pastoral or personal judgment, etc. Indeed, we don't even need to read the book to know her conclusion, which comes through in bold letters every other page. For example, she opines: "Catholic sexual morality is largerly a master-race morality and a pitiless exploitation of women."

I have a good friend who has already mined the much more balanced and scholarly work of Noonan for an excellent defense of Church teaching against contraception during the first millenium. Someday, I hope to do a related project on topics proximate to NFP.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/24/2004 03:43:00 AM | link

Mr. Hiss at Otto-da-Fe has a solid post conveying his knowledge of Bishop Murphy.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/24/2004 02:37:00 AM | link

A nice, compact evalu-ware graphing program and related apps.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/23/2004 11:41:00 PM | link

I like to click on the "recently updated" on the blogger main page. I consider it a low-cost lottery. As it turns out, the top-listed blog this time reveals:

Leper Messiah discovers his wife is pregnant, and has this to say about an unexpected pregnancy when the wife is using the pill (italics his):

"Remember: the Pill is only 99% effective. Don't be that 1%, and end up explaining to your child that they were the result of a statistical fluke. 'Mommy and Daddy love you very much, but we didn't want you...' "

This comes just about two weeks after the same thing happened to a good friend of mine, who was not married to the young lady, but seriously dating her and planning on engagement. He, too, reported the experience of being ultimately happy about being a dad "a little early." So both he and Leper were using contraception at the time, and both seem unhappily conflicted between "Dammit, the pill didn't work" and lovingly: "I'm going to be a father!"

This is not an uncommon report. I've always maintained that this phenomenon is data for the wholesomeness of the "personalist" approach to the Catholic teaching about not using birth control within marriage.

It's hard to imagine any normal man being handed his newborn son, looking at the baby, and saying, "Well, look at you. Too bad the rubber broke when your mom and I were having sex nine months ago." Only a cruel man would enter into fatherhood with that sentiment. Feeling overwhelmed or uncertain, of course, is normal; but cursing the condom at the sight of your son's infant face is inhumane.

But we all know that the real moment when one enters into fatherhood is not at birth but at conception.

If you are sexually active with the woman you love, but not "open to life" (i.e., you are averse to the possibility that you will conceive), then like it or not, the joy of sex with your wife is going to be mitigated, and you will feel the conflict between "I might be becoming a dad right now" and "Damn, I hope we can do this without anything bad happening." Everyone who looks into birth control even briefly knows that it only provides the veneer of separating the unitive aspect of sexual intercourse from the procreative aspect.

Like it or not, the sexual act itself still implies the potential for conception. Everyone who is not not completely jaded about parenthood or entirely ready to kill his offspring, should therefore realize that everytime you have sex, you will be morally conflicted -- torn between your ultimate desire for children and your immediate aversion to the possibility that you might be having them right now. Or to say it simply: You'll always be torn between "Son!" and "Damn it, I hope you don't pregnant!"

Chances are, for most people, this existential conflict will remain in the background because the woman doesn't get pregnant 9 times out of 10. But if she does get pregnant, you see it much more clearly. It's in the foreground in Leper's remark. And, I think, if one is honest about one's emotions and honest about what one does in the act of sex, you can see the conflict reflected in your own soul.

Jaded philanderers won't get what I'm talking about. They've already blunted their sexual-bonding emotions so much they can't feel a thing any more. But even a not-so-chaste man who loves his woman -- an average guy who wants to settle down someday, and who thinks about having a family -- he must feel the twinge of conflict involved in having sex now, but despising the possibility of a baby which is inherent in the act.

So if your attitude is "closed to life," do the right thing and follow your soul's prompting to be consistent. Forget the sex if you can't tolerate the fatherhood, because fatherhood doesn't come nine months later. Fatherhood happens in the very moment of intercourse. Be consistent, because you may be beginning your relationship with your child right now. It's part of the same act -- it just doesn't feel like it at the time. Any man who has the "sinking feeling" post coitum knows what I mean. (I.e. the feeling that one has probably risked too much in taking the delights of sex with her right now, which, in the sober light of testosterone-free thinking, proves that the sex wasn't worth the potential consequences.) The "sinking feeling" is not just a residual "mate and move on" response left over from our membership in the animal kingdom. We're smarter than that. We're more humane than that. And if we're not twisted beyond recognition, we know that nature prompts us to a higher, more harmonious expression of love.

Ok. I'll move on now.

Vis-a-vis the March for Life yesterday, Fr. K writes me and draws my attention to this article wherein a Protestant considers contraception to be the root cause of our problems with abortion.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/23/2004 06:06:00 PM | link

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/23/2004 05:56:00 PM | link

A website for NoVA commuters: 495sucks.com.

The Beltway might be a torture most days, and the mixing bowl never empty, but it sure beats living in DC. I'll take having a parking space and paying less than $1/sq.ft. for rent anyday. And did I mention not getting mugged, 30% lower state tax, all-day quiet, inexpensive but good restaurants, etc., etc. etc.? Yeah, I think I did.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/23/2004 02:29:00 AM | link

I don't usually blogwatch, but what the heck. I'll even open by Evetting, which is the official term for singing a little ditty with the words changed which Eve sings before she blogwatches:

As Anthony said to Cleopatra, as he opened a crate of ale:
"Oh, I say! Some blogs are better than others. Some blogs are better than others. Some blogs' linked blogs are better than other blogs' linked blogs...

If you are in DC Friday evening, go hear the voice of the faithful gay Catholics preach the gospel of chastity to the atheists at Georgetown. Surely a penitential experience for all involved!
(Via Eve.)

Also via Eve, yeppity yep. Sounds like me in college. In retrospect I'm drawn to that bait-and-strike strategy because it reminds me of the way the prophets catch the conscience of their interlocutors from time to time (like Nathan and David).

Very bad news about a very holy man. From Cacciaguida: Fr. Benedict Groeschel, OFM Cap., is in "critical but stable" condition after being hit by a car at an airport. Details here. Prayers requested.

From The Rat comes news that the devil can go on vacation.

From my mantis friend:

Wimps and Barbarians: The two options for the modern boy who wants to become a man. Worth reading in its entirety.

Would that someone would follow up on this suggestion and write a book along these lines:

"Historians and political theorists and professors of literature must realize that the topic of gender is not the monopoly of those who would try to eradicate gender but the natural possession of the great thinkers and actors and even the common folk of the Western tradition. Aristotle had a great deal to say about gender and manhood, as did Washington and Burke and Jane Austen."

Boomer deathwatch. I nominate Clinton.

On the SAT. I submit myself as evidence that the SAT / GRE is not evidence of how smart you are, because in my head, it sure as heck doesn't feel like 150, but rather somewhere between "idiot savant" (I have my tricks) and "mongoloid." If I am 99.958th percentile, I join my wife in lamenting the collective fate of human society. We better make friends with those apes they are teaching sign language. Some days I marvel at how stupid I am. (Other days, Zorak does it for me.)

I knew plenty of brilliant people in college with quirky SATs. The best dialectician I knew -- the man who had the quickest wit when cutting through dense philosophy, and tied you in knots in argument, and tripped up his professors -- scored unspectacularly on the analytical on the GRE. We were dumbfounded, and concluded that he must have tried to argue the test into his point of view.

I can also tell you that the SAT favors sheer speed. As someone who has been universally called "slowpoke" by his friends, I always ended up blowing through the last 10 or 20 questions because I had dawdled through the first part of the test despite my best efforts. I also dreaded the exams because I'm not very detail-oriented, and I would always skip one row of bubbles and realize it like 10 minutes later, causing me to have to erase and fill in everything all over again. Just thinking about it makes me stressed.

I also find it hard to believe that I've become smarter between high school and college (SATs to GREs), because even though my scores increased a lot, I did lots of awful things to my cerebrum during those four years. Then again, when I took the SAT, I was so nervous that I would be sleepy (the test was at 8 in the morning -- who the hell can think then!?), I arrived still in pajamas, drank two cans of jolt, ate a fistfulof pixy stix and snorted the last one. (Yes, you read that correctly. I was not the only one who did this...) I was probably so damn wired on sugar and caffiene that I hurt my performance.

Well, I'm sure that all of you are thanking me for sharing.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/21/2004 06:53:00 PM | link

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/20/2004 04:04:00 AM | link

Kerry wins the Iowa causus. I don't think he'll beat Bush, but it just goes to show you: You can take the Bonesman out of the White House, but you can't take the White House away from the Bonesmen. (Both Bush and Kerry are in Bones. Doesn't that make them sworn to mutual aid?)

Pegasus Banner
You're a pegasus. You're very calm and loving.
Something about you makes others want to get
close to you, whether or not you feel the same
way about them. You don't bond to others
easily, but when you do it's long-lasting. Your
alignment is *good*, but not so much that you
can't have fun.

What mythical beast are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/20/2004 12:52:00 AM | link

On this day, in 1920, Prohibition was legalized, inaugurating a miserable era of American history. I'll include the image below so you can print it out and use it for drink coasters.

Woman, a pox on thee!

Bottoms up!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/16/2004 11:05:00 PM | link

Fairfax F.I.S.H. = Freezing the Indigent through Stupidity and Helplessness.

"FISH" stands for "For Immediate Sympathetic Help." It is an ecumenical Christian organization serving the homeless. For me, however, it has been the cause of my high blood pressure this week.

Zorak cleaned her closet, and we wanted to give two big bags of nice, warm clothes to the poor. So far, so good. Two weeks and three shot afternoons later, they are still in my car. Get ready for a romp through massive inefficiency, which is rather atypical for Fairfax.

Attempt One: I need to find out where to give these clothes. Wherever possible, I don't like giving things to the Salvation Army. I'd rather give it to a Catholic charity, or at least a Catholic-sponsored charity. So I call my parish church, St. Leo's in Fairfax. They don't collect clothes. I ask if they know about any Catholic charities. The secretary gives me two names of places: Christ House in DC and Saint Claudette's Thrift Shop somewhere in Alexandria. She doesn't have phone numbers or addresses. I, full of optimism and industry, say "That's OK, I'll find them."

Christ House is only for men and in the middle of some part of DC I've never been, so that's out on two counts. The thift shop is unlisted in the VA phone book and not online. Strike two.

Next day, I go on the internet, and pull up a page from St. Mary of Sorrows parish. That's where I find out about F.I.S.H. While ecumenical, it's better than nothing, so I decide to compromise and go with it. I download the name, address and phone number. I pull up the map in Mapquest and print it out. It's about 15 minutes away, but at least it's not all the way in darkest DC. A few days pass until I have some time to travel out there, because the web says that FISH is only open between 10:30 and 1:30 M-F.

Total time hunting: About 35 minutes. Blood presure: 120/80.

Attempt Two: I decide to find FISH. It's just off busy, poorly marked Rte 236, but with a little misnavigation I eventually find the address, which turns out to be at Calvary Baptist Church. I go into the office. Nobody around or in sight. I wander back out, and see a sign on the door from which I entered. The sign says: FISH is moving to somewhere else in February. OK, well, I figure I will just leave the clothes in the office and let them deal with it.

On my return to the building with the sacks of clothes, I meet the secretary. She's very sweet, but informs me that I cannot leave the clothes there. Instead, I must bring them to the new location of FISH. She gives me the address, and basic directions. I cross my fingers (since I don't know this part of town), and press on.

On arrival, I find the door to FISH, but it is closed. This new location of FISH is only open between 10am and 12:30pm, and it is just past 1:15. Too bad the secretary at the Baptist church didn't tell me that before I set out. Groan.

I look around outside. There is NO DROP BOX for the clothes. Isn't this the SENSIBLE thing to do? Haven't these people gotten a clue from the Salvation Army here? Instead, there is a sign that says that by no means should anyone even think about dumping off the clothes by the front door. Apparently, this must have happened before (or else, why all the signage?), but the blockheads who run this organization haven't figured out that the world does not run by their 2.5-hour per day schedule.

By this time, I'm beginning to get seriously pissed off, and I go home. I contemplate just throwing the clothes away.

Total time wasted: 2 hours. Blood pressure: 200/90.

Attempt three: A few days later, when I have an hour free in the afternoon, I decide to try FISH one more time. I arrive, only to find . . . DOH! DOH! . . . that if I had read the entire text of the page-long sign I would have known that FISH is only open between 10:00-12:30 TUESDAY, THURSDAY and (get this) THE FIRST SATURDAY of the month. Grrr. Shoulda put that by the top of the sign, with the hours, rather than in the fine print.

Time wasted: 45 minutes. Blood pressure: Squirting out my eyes.

So here I am, three attempts later, still with the clothes. If you see a freezing person in Fairfax, don't blame him, even if he is a lifetime alchy. Blame FISH. Utterly ridiculous! They have fewer hours than bankers, a clear history of people trying to give them stuff when they are not there, and yet they are too stupid to get a drop box. If you are retired, a gentleman bachelor, or unemployed, FISH is accessible to you. Otherwise, just throw the clothes around Main Street in Fairfax. They will get to their intended recipients faster.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/16/2004 07:52:00 PM | link

Democrat Would End DC Gun Ban

(CNSNews.com) - Former Sen. Carol Mosely Braun, one of the Democrats who's running for president, says the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to own guns; and furthermore, she said she would sign a bill to end the ban on guns in the District of Columbia. Braun's remarks - reported in two Washington newspapers on January 10, one day after three Democrats held a "mini- debate" in Washington, D.C. - sets Braun apart from her fellow Democrats, the Washington Times noted. The Times quoted Braun as saying, "I have always supported reasonable gun control, but I think under the Constitution people have the right and should be able to have guns." The Washington Post quoted her as saying, "I don't think we can under the Constitution deprive people of the right to have guns in their homes." In a September debate, Braun said she was from a law enforcement family and grew up with guns in her house. She said she also was familiar with the "terror that guns have wreaked in urban communities in which I have grown up." At that September debate, she said she favored "protection for children against gun violence."

FOX Network also seems bent on letting everyone hear the F-word in their drive to be the hippest. From Brent Bozzell:

""These 'apologies' from Fox are wearing thin. Technology to stop such incidents has existed since the Golden Days of radio and the tape delay system. Fox certainly had the ability to block the indecent language that aired Wednesday night during the Billboard Awards. It is becoming obvious that Fox wants this indecent language on the air as a way of shocking audiences and scoring cheap ratings points. This is the third time in a year that Fox included the F-word in a network broadcast, and in fact it was the 2002 Fox broadcast of the exact same program that contained Cher's use of the F-word. It is tragic that Fox is content for children to be victims of this new low in network programming. I encourage parents, Capitol Hill leaders and other family organizations not to be duped by such a meaningless apology and by Fox's latest attempt to back-peddle from an obvious ploy to titillate and shock audiences with indecent programming."

The FCC, in a twist of sophistry that only lawyers can accomplish with a straight face in their cesspool of amoral pragmatism, basically declared that the F-word no longer denotes sex, and is therefore not obscene.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/13/2004 01:52:00 PM | link

Just another desire looking for a constitutional right. I've said it before: Consensual sex is a prudish hold-over from the 1900s. Just as heteros are willing to kill children via abortion for sexual pleasure, it's only a matter of time before pedophiles demand parity for their own fetishes:

From the Thomas More Law Center:

"For those of you who don't know, NAMBLA stands for the Man-Boy Love Association.... Their notorious motto is, 'Sex before eight, or it's too late.'

"You should also know that the ACLU believes that NAMBLA has a constitutional right to advocate and assist young men in sodomizing underage boys.

"Sadly, the parents of 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley didn't know about NAMBLA -- until it was too late.

"In October 1997, Jeffrey had his bike stolen. Knowing this, Charles Jaynes (a member of NAMBLA) and another man coaxed Jeffrey into their vehicle with the promise of a new bike. Once Jeffrey was inside, the two men attempted to sexually molest him. Jeffrey fought back. Enraged, Jaynes smothered him with gasoline-soaked rags until he was dead. Jaynes then molested his dead body, placed the body in a plastic container, wrapped it with duct tape, and dumped it into a river in Maine. The men have already been convicted for Jeffrey's murder.

"Jaynes admitted that NAMBLA fueled his sexual attraction to young boys, an attraction that resulted in Jeffrey's death."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/12/2004 07:44:00 PM | link

The case was settled by a higher Judge. If I was Jim Koch, the President of Sam Adams Brewing Co., I would be putting on the sackcloth and dropping a fat donation on St. Patrick's Cathedral to make a reparation right about now.

(For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Sam Adams' President Jim Koch was chuckling happily about this stunt on the radio with the announcers when it happened. Thus beginning my boycott of their delicious beer.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/12/2004 03:59:00 PM | link

Kathryn Lively had the wonderful idea of making a sidebar out of all the cool quizzes she's taken. How expeditious! Let's begin:

Yep, that's absolutely right:

St. Pius X
You are Pope St. Pius X. You'd rather be right than

Which Twentieth Century Pope Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I should have seen this coming:

You are DIANE!

Which Cheers Character Are You?

(Frasier was a close second)

i'm prefame elvis!

Take the Which Elvis Are You? quiz, made by .

Of the options, this is my favorite Zep song, so I guess the quiz is accurate. However, the point of Levee is not to be "dark and scary." It's about reconciling oneself to the inevitable. In this case, the metaphor is between a dam breaking and a relationship caving in whether he likes it or not.

You Are

When The Levee Breaks

Just like "When the Levee Breaks" dominates Led Zeppelin IV, you dominate your world. You don't have time for nonsense (it's surprising you even took this quiz) and you would love to be dictator of the world someday. You are dark and scary, and you probably don't at all care about this quiz, if you even bothered to read your results.

Take the Which Led Zeppelin Song Are You? Quiz

I am 52% Internet Addict

I am pretty addicted, but there is hope. I think I'm just well connected to the internet and technology, but it's really a start of a drug-like addiction. I must act now! Unplug this computer!

Take the Internet Addict Test at fuali.com

Ooh. Very nice. No comments from former college friends:

The second book written and the third chronologically, you're the story of a Narnia hundreds of years after the last visit, populated by mythological creatures struggling to overthrow a king determined to wipe them out. Susan's Horn brings help when it's most needed ...

Find out which Chronicles of Narnia book you are.

casablanca poster
you are 'casablanca'!

which old movie do you belong in?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/08/2004 02:41:00 PM | link

Every once in a while, I check the "Bulk mail" folder of the Yahoo account for the heck of it. Glad to see it's still filtering kooks at a rapid rate. Thank you, Mr Crackpot, for something that rivals Nigerian spam:

"The Brandenburger Nazi gate in Berlin is the Hell gate of Mankind and must be pulled down immediately. Germany turned withe the Brandenburger Nazi gate Got to Devil-Germany is therefore Nation of Kain and High Treason and brought the entire Mankind into Doom."

At least the people from the Opus Doctorum are leaving me alone.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/08/2004 01:52:00 PM | link

Last tech-talk blog for a while:

The aforementioned Smart Drive seems to work OK in my computer. It is definitely much quieter, and the temperature on the HDD controller (where I have the probe) seems to reach equilibrium around 110 degrees F. during heavy drive activity, which is reasonable.

Check out Tiny Apps Blog.

Arnab shares an oldie but goodie manual e-mail access through telnet which used to be exploited in all sorts of ways to send bogus message since these rarely required verification of sender.

25% of Windows users have refused to upgrade beyond Win 98. Count me in that number!

It took MS 3 years just to find out all the bugs in 98. I stick with the known enemy rather than the latest MS operating system fad that will cost me another few hundred bucks in upgrade costs, only to spend the next three months troubleshooting it. NO THANK YOU! In the past five years, I've learned how to gut a clean install of Win98, tweak it, make it stable, and keep it running on my main box for over 3 years on the present install. I know all its quirks, so I'm sticking with it. Plus 2000, ME and XP Home edition are jammed full of features for drooling idiots who should be confined to their own subdomain on the internet. (AOL is basically the opt-in version of this...)

XP PRO, however, based on the NT core, looks nice. If I upgrade anywhere, it will be to XP PRO.

But before you try a new OS, learn how to multiboot with this nice primer by Dan Goodell.

Lastly, check out these nice NT "security" tools, a/k/a hackerware.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/07/2004 11:48:00 PM | link

Need a reason to tipple? Try the calendar over at Modern Drunkard Magazine.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/07/2004 12:12:00 PM | link

I don't normally do public service announcements on the blog, but this one is worth it. As someone with a degree in physics, I can tell you that dihydrogren monoxide can cause some real trouble in the lab. My lab partner threw some on me once!

Know the facts!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/07/2004 03:03:00 AM | link

The St. Linus Review

Scheduled for first publication in Autumn 2004, St. Linus Review is a new semi-annual magazine of poetry and short prose by orthodox Catholic writers.

Part of their mission statement includes: "We welcome diverse subject matter including work that is not specifically religious. However, no work will be accepted which openly or in general tendency detracts from the teachings of the Catholic Church. We believe that orthodoxy has a liberating effect on the those who genuinely seek truth and beauty in their art, and seek poets and writers whose work reflects this.

"Because we believe that talented writers can approach even the most difficult of topics without becoming graphic in their portrayals or leading others astray, works containing profanity or content which could be considered a near occasion of sin for readers will not be accepted."

Check it out.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/07/2004 02:38:00 AM | link

Regarding deja vu, Michelle writes (her in italics, me in regular):

I have been reading your blog for awhile, and besides the fact that I keep strongly (i.e. yelling at the computer) disagreeing you on some topics, I enjoy your writing and keep reading.

I'm glad I still do that to somebody. Used to happen on a weekly basis in college. Not kidding.

Regarding your question about deja vu, I believe that it is simply remembering a dream. My reason for this believe comes from an English class I took as an undergraduate, where we were required to keep a dream journal . . . [one] student was at a bar talking to a female student and considering asking her out, when he had a sudden feeling of deja vu, and realized that he had not only dreamed the situation, but had written the dream in his journal. . . As for myself, I gave up on the dream journal soon after the class ended (bad roommate. read journal. bad.) but when I have feelings of deja vu, they are frequently associated with the surreal feeling I have when I awaken from a particularly vivid dream.

I guess my question concerns the level of specificity here. When things like this happen to me, it is extremely high. Do the findings of the people who keep dream journals reveal such extremely accurate fore-knowings of the event? For me, the deja vu experience rarely lasts for more than 5-20 seconds, but during that time, the place, the people, the background noises, etc. are strikingly similar to what I think I'm remembering. For example, most recently, my deja vu experience not only included someone saying something to me in a hotel hallway, but it felt the same down to the color of the wallpaper, what the person was wearing, the fact that it was hard to hear because of all the people in the atrium, etc.

If such things can be proven to have been dreamt by someone days or weeks before they happen, what does that mean? (As a side note, BTW, even if this was foreknowledge, I do not think foreknowing implies fatalism, but that's a separate issue.)

Fr. K writes:

I tend toward C. One logical explanation of Deja Vu is that memories are stored in one part of the brain, while present awareness takes place in another. If your present experience should reach the "storage" area before it reaches the present awareness area you would remember it even while it is happening. A short circuit in the brain.

That does avoid all the problems with foreknowledge, while explaining the exactness of the "memory." Maybe I'll post a poll and see what people think.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/07/2004 01:29:00 AM | link

Yet another person compared my wife to Kate Winslet this week. I think it is a fad. I've linked an image that is favorable to the comparison, although some photos of Winslet don't look much like Zorak at all. (Zorak's face is longer, she has a better chin, a cupid's bow kisser and fuller cheeks.) The comparison fad begins here.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/07/2004 12:44:00 AM | link

Find Your Warped Personality
this quiz was made by mysti

(A quiz with intelligent questions! From Klishis. I love the epitaphs you have to choose from!)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/07/2004 12:37:00 AM | link

Installed the new horde o' hardware into my homemade rig tonight. Now I'm testing it to make sure it all works.

This Christmas brought no substantial modifications to the performance of my machine, which is now certainly outdated (specs below). I did score several devices designed to knock down the noise level of my whizzing, groaning, grinding beige Tower of Productivity. Goodies include:

Several sets of Vantec silicon gel gaskets to put around the fans to damped vibrational noise between fan and mounting frame.

Enermax 3.5" drive bay 2-temp / 2-fan regulator. (Has two temp probes, two adjustable fan pots, and an led-display that gives me temps and RPMs for each, in addition to low-temp / low-rpm alarms.) Very helpful in toning down noisy main fans. You'd be surprised what cutting fan power back to 75% of full power can do.

Smart Drive 2002 drive container that dampens sound without overheating your hard drive.

The computer is much smoother and quieter now, but the Smart Drive has me worried. I don't know what the typical temperature range for an HDD is. I have the temperature probe from the Enermax taped onto a chip in the HDD controller -- supposedly the hottest part of the drive. Temp is now 105 degrees fahrenheit with continual drive activity. When the drive goes idle, the temp falls into the low 90s. But I am afraid that if the drive is used contantly, the temp will keep climbing. Or worse, if it is used massively (Norton Antivirus begins its routine sweep, or I backup the C drive), the HDD will fry.

That's the problem with these acoustical damping devices: they have a hard time radiating heat. Smart Drive 2002 is supposed to be the best, but we'll see how it holds up tomorrow. It seems to be topped out at 105 F tonight.

My rig:
Abit BX-6 mobo
256 MB PC-133 RAM
Intel Celeron processor: nominally 700MHz overclocked to 850
Matrox Mystique (G200 chipset) video capture card
Dual Linksys NICs for old-fashioned LAN set-up (my computer does the routing)
Two Maxtor HDDs totalling 21GB in four partitions
Plextor Plexwriter 8/4/32 CD-R
Random 52x CR-ROM
Enermax temp/fan regulator
Epson Perfection USB scanner
Diehard HP 820Cse color printer from college
Mag Innovision 21" monitor
Belkin UPS and surge protection
Linksys 5-port hub
Tandy (yes, Tandy) desktop power switcher from days of yore
KVM switch to control the other computer (presently in 3 pieces on the floor)

Between the surge protection (everything is protected, including phone lines and LAN lines), KVM switch, LAN and video cap card, and the other computer, the back of my desk is a complete disaster area of cords.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/06/2004 05:03:00 AM | link

Deja vu
I've had three moments of deja vu in two days. Does this happen to anyone else? What do bloggers think of this phenomenon?

I've had deja vu since I was a boy. Sometimes it will not happen for months. Three in a week is unusually high for me. I distinctly remember the first time it happened around the time I was about 10 years old. I dreamt about sitting at the kitchen table making a craft project that I had never seen or done before. A week or so later, I was doing the very thing, and I remembered, and I was amazed that I had dreamt about doing this very craft so specifically at least a week before my mother had told me about it or even bought the kit.

Some people argue that deja vu is only a product of the imagination: One imagines something, forgets about the imagination until a similar experience takes place, then one remembers the imagination.

While this might be possible, I think it has to contend with the fact that deja vu often has a picture-perfect, "replay" quality of the original experience. The scene that I see when I have deja vu is pretty much identical to something I'm remembering in the past.

Yet some contend that the level of verisimilitude is actually a false impression, in the same way that a dream seems coherent when, if you can remember the details, it actually isn't.

Like the famous SNL skit, "Trivial Psychic," my experiences of deja vu are entirely mundane. I never read anything into them because there really isn't anything there, as far as I can tell. My experiences of deja vu don't precede or follow particularly important events. This leaves me wondering what triggers the experience.

So basically I am wondering: (a) What explains these random bits of foreknowledge? (b) What triggers them? (c) What's the epistemological "take-away" from these "gee whiz" experiences?

One last option presents itself. In the foregoing, I've been presuming that I actually have at time T1 a dream or imagination of an event and at some later time, T2, a conscious experience of a similar event. Thus, in the foregoing, I've assumed that:

(A) T1 is a dream, and at T2 I really do experience something identical

(B) T1 is some forgotten dream or imagination. At T2, per happenstance, I end up doing something similar. My mind recalls the dream or imagination, but for some reason, my mind gives me the impression that the experience of T1 is identical to the experience of T2.

The third option is this: Could deja vu merely be a psychological quirk where you get the feeling you've remembering somethin when actually one's "feeling that you're remembering" is false? In other words, there is no preceding T1, but you get the lurking feeling that there was. Thus:

(C) At T2, for some reason, my mind gives me the profound impression that I have experienced all this before, when in reality, there was no preceding T1 at which time I had some dream or imagination similar to T2.

Several years ago, I'm sure I would have been skeptical of the claim that the mind can occasionally generate such complicated, higher-order malfunctions such as the feeling "I remember that" when "that" actually hasn't happened. Sensory misperception is commonplace, but it is weird that the mind can produce deceptive instances of more complicated states of consciousness which normally accompany judgments about sensory perception (i.e. without any preceding sense object or act of judgment.) Now over the past 6 years, I've had the pleasure of several dozen bouts of hypnagogic hallucination during sleep paralysis and I can tell you that the brain certainly can cook up some higher-order cognative malfunctions if it wants to. (Like this crap, which is a real joy if you've ever experienced it.)

So what do people think about deja vu? Vote for (A), (B) or (C), or your own theory. Right now, I'm inclined to (C). This paper has a nice discussion of the question, although the author sides against what is basically my option (C).

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/05/2004 01:56:00 AM | link

Alcohol research summary from the vacation to Orlando:

I hate to fly, but for various and sundry reasons too familial to relate, I had to ride upon air like Zeus for 750 miles. I found that the ideal number of drinks necessary for me to have a pleasant trip is somewhere between 6 and 8. Here "pleasant" is defined as: sufficiently calm enough to talk to another person, exhale, sleep, read something, etc., and not to be praying constantly as if I was at the hour of death for the entire ride. I also found they let you through security with an open liter of vodka. I must not be the first person to resort to the poor man's halcyon. Damn contraptions. But great for the soul. It didn't help that they seized two flights from Britain to Dulles this week because of terrorist-related intelligence, nor that 148 Frenchmen crashed to their grisly deaths when their plane dove into the shark-infested waters of the Red Sea on the morning I was scheduled for take-off. Deo gratias, my feet are now on the ground. Thank you St. Joseph Cupertino, St. Christopher and a host of others.

On a livelier note, part of my journey took me to Planet Hollywood. (The restaurant we visited is the first depicted on the webpage.) The restaurant itself houses the relics of movie props like the spaceship from the Planet of the Apes, the bus from Speed, the knife that killed Jason in one of the many Friday XIII movies, etc., etc. The place was so incredibly loud I could not enjoy myself there, and the food was unremarkable.

However, they did have a drink that blew me away. It alone makes up for the mediocrity of the entire experience. I had to try it once I saw the ingredient list:

The Terminator: Vodka, gin, rum, Triple Sec, sour mix, cranberry, Kahlua and draft beer. (Blended with ice, served in a hurricane glass.)

It is a fabulous romp through flavor combinations. The gin mediates the cranberry-Kahlua conflict with the beer pitching in the middle to ease the transition from the citrusy-sharp onset to the creamy-smooth fruit-filled-chocolate conclusion. It is one weird drink, but very good. My relatives were concerned about the size of the drink and the number of alcohols involved, but like the insuperable Linda Hamilton, I would need many confrontations with The Terminator before showing signs of fatigue.

Replication of this alcoholic T-1000 has not yet taken place in my kitchen. When Skynet achieves consciouness on this one, I'll tell you.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/05/2004 12:58:00 AM | link

Domestic quotations, part IV: On location in Orlando
"And the greatest of these is . . . a sharp kick to the shin."

O.O. to Zorak: Stop kicking me.

Zorak: I don't want you to do that.

O.O.: But you don't have to kick me to make me stop.

Zorak: I always kick you when you're doing something I don't want you to do. It's how I train you.

(Later that night, in Marriott hotel room:)

Zorak: Let me do it.

O.O.: No, I want to.

Zorak: Give me the pen.

O.O.: Nope, I thought up the verse.

Zorak: But I want to desecrate the Book of Mormon!!

(O.O. and Zorak arguing over who gets to inscribe Galatians 1:6-9 on the front cover of the Book of Mormon which was distributed in our hotel room. It's a priceless quote and fun vacation-time apostolate. Highly recommended. O.O. consented to let Zorak write the verse.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/05/2004 12:27:00 AM | link


Friends Outside the
Prophetes Viatoresque:
(but still worth reading)

Recently Read

In my MP3 Player