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

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Terri Sciavo is dead. God save us from this wicked deed.

She was killed more cruelly than a cur in the street. More cruelly than any Western nation permits the treatment of condemned criminals or prisioners of war, yet she was innocent. Starved to death by court order on the same week a Florida farmer was arrested for failing to sufficiently feed cattle.

Her husband took everything from her, and there was none to save her. If you want to remember Terri with a donation, help out those organizations that went into great debt in an attempt to save her.

These words of David are particularly appropriate today:

[19] Thou knowest my reproach,
and my shame and my dishonor;
my foes are all known to thee.
[20] Insults have broken my heart,
so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none;
and for comforters, but I found none.
[21] They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
[22] Let their own table before them become a snare;
let their sacrificial feasts be a trap.
[23] Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see;
and make their loins tremble continually.
[24] Pour out thy indignation upon them,
and let thy burning anger overtake them.
[25] May their camp be a desolation,
let no one dwell in their tents.
[26] For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten,
and him whom thou hast wounded, they afflict still more.
[27] Add to them punishment upon punishment;
may they have no acquittal from thee.
[28] Let them be blotted out of the book of the living;
let them not be enrolled among the righteous.
[29] But I am afflicted and in pain;
let thy salvation, O God, set me on high!
(Psalm 69)

And for Michael, her murderer, what else can we say that the Psalmist has not said?

[0] To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
[1] Be not silent, O God of my praise!
[2] For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,
speaking against me with lying tongues.
[3] They beset me with words of hate,
and attack me without cause.
[4] In return for my love they accuse me,
even as I make prayer for them.
[5] So they reward me evil for good,
and hatred for my love.
[6] Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser bring him to trial.
[7] When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin!
[8] May his days be few;
may another seize his goods!
[9] May his children be fatherless,
and his wife a widow!
[10] May his children wander about and beg;
may they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit!
[11] May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
[12] Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!
[13] May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
[14] May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD,
and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
[15] Let them be before the LORD continually;
and may his memory be cut off from the earth!
[16] For he did not remember to show kindness,
but pursued the poor and needy
and the brokenhearted to their death.
[17] He loved to curse; let curses come on him!
He did not like blessing; may it be far from him!
[18] He clothed himself with cursing as his coat,
may it soak into his body like water,
like oil into his bones!
[19] May it be like a garment which he wraps round him,
like a belt with which he daily girds himself!
[20] May this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD,
of those who speak evil against my life!
[21] But thou, O GOD my Lord,
deal on my behalf for thy name's sake;
because thy steadfast love is good, deliver me!
[22] For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is stricken within me.
[23] I am gone, like a shadow at evening;
I am shaken off like a locust.
[24] My knees are weak through fasting;
my body has become gaunt.
[25] I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they wag their heads.
[26] Help me, O LORD my God!
Save me according to thy steadfast love!
[27] Let them know that this is thy hand;
thou, O LORD, hast done it!
[28] Let them curse, but do thou bless!
Let my assailants be put to shame; may thy servant be glad!
[29] May my accusers be clothed with dishonor;
may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a mantle!
[30] With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD;
I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
[31] For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
to save him from those who condemn him to death.


Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/31/2005 04:01:00 PM | link

Prince Albert becomes the sovereign of Monaco as Prince Rainier III ails.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/31/2005 03:38:00 PM | link

Two More Top Vatican Cardinals Condemn the Murder of Terri Schiavo.

The heads of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace both officially condemn the murder of Terri Schiavo in statements released today.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/31/2005 12:11:00 PM | link

Because of the frey over Terri Schiavo, most have probably forgotten the fight between Archbp. Burke of St. Louis and his rebellious parish of St. Stan's.

Surely this post deserves a bit of Catholic grassroots support: An Appeal That Will Never Make The News From A Group of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parishioners.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/30/2005 06:26:00 PM | link

New Catholic agrarian blogger Hallowed Ground.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/30/2005 06:19:00 PM | link

Fr. Rob has two new posts on how Michael Shiavo's consent to an autopsy is pure smoke and mirrors -- which explains why he has reversed his hitherto continual insistence there won't be an autopsy. (Second post.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/30/2005 11:50:00 AM | link

T. A. Breaux does it again: Absinthe Edouard

These aren't kettles, they're time machines!

Even if I had time to compose it, an elegiac couplet or even a classical encomium in dactylic hexameter would fail to praise highly enough the amazing combination of scientific acumen, historical research and masterful mixology that typifies every effort of T. A. Breaux. This New Orleanian recreates authentic absinthes which have been dead for over a century by tracking down rare samples, subjecting them to chemical analysis, researching the practices of the original houses, studying the recipes, and purchasing vintage equipment and rare herbs to do everything the right way -- if not better, insofar as the world can enjoy it immediately.

The fact that someone can recreate a vintage recipe without any apprenticeship or direct connection with the original houses is an amazing accomplishment. Consider Breaux the Dom Gueranger of La Fee Verte. In both cases, so much could have gone wrong with an academic reconstruction after a century-long interruption and no organic traditions to form one's judgment. Both men faced inescapable modern exigencies to the authentic practice of a century-dead tradition, and a slow, pains-taking beginning to their enterprises. But a commitment to getting it right resulted in an amazing final product.

As a noble successor to the Nouvelle-Orléans and Verte Suisse, comes Absinthe Edouard:

"In 1897, the house of Edouard Pernod boasted a reputation for crafting some of the best absinthe the world has ever known. First being established at Couvet, Switzerland, then later Pontarlier, France, the distillery of Edouard Pernod boasted eight alambics and produced almost 300,000 liters of absinthe annually. At the time of the ban, Edouard Pernod had become the 3rd largest absinthe distiller in France. The Edouard Pernod label was considered by many absinthe connoisseurs to be one of the finest marques, certainly on par with the famed Pernod Fils, A. Junod and Fritz Duval labels. Almost a century later, bottles of perfectly preserved Edouard Pernod absinthe have yielded the secrets of this famed producer. The exquisite taste of this antique absinthe is incredibly smooth, unique and delicious."

Speaking from my experience of a shot of the Jade Verte Suisse distiller's proof, all I have to say is: enter the verdant garden! This was the best stuff I've ever tasted, hands down. Makes Verte de Fougerolles taste watery and flat by comparison, and Fougerolles is darn good absinthe. The bouquet is so lush, you can smell it from 5 feet away. If you don't believe me, read the raves about Jade Verte Suisse at absinthe.se, where it stacks up to a vintage C.F. Berger.

With such a pedigree, I'm sure Edouard will not disappoint either. Don't let the price scare you. Remember, you dilute a good absinthe 3x-4x with water, and it is still liquour proof, so a 750mL of absinthe is the equivalent of buying 3L of schnapps -- it will last you a while.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/29/2005 10:30:00 AM | link

"It turns out that, far from 'de-escalating force' through their superior listening skills, female law enforcement officers vastly are more likely to shoot civilians than their male counterparts.... Unable to use intermediate force, like a bop on the nose, female officers quickly go to fatal force. According to Lott's analysis, each 1 percent increase in the number of white female officers in a police force increases the number of shootings of civilians by 2.7 percent." Hat tip Zorak, ultimately from Ann Coulter.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/29/2005 09:30:00 AM | link

Elinor at Mommentary told me that she thinks the devil has an eye out for new parents to make their lives miserable. Well, I don't like to moan about my own condition (except to my wife, who hears it constantly...), but I offer our own travails for the purpose of disintersted scientific confirmation of her hypothesis. During the past couple months, we've had:

- Newest family car completely destroyed by freak storm
- Major & minor computer problems on all three machines; really time-consuming to fix. We do all our work on these, so they must run, else nothing gets done
- Unexpected tripling of grad school expense due to how they reckon an ABD's tuition
- A $%^* mouse in the house (now gone or dead, thankfully); also, hornets (now dead)
- Flue vent above our kitchen is clogged: all apartments below us pipe their cooking exhaust into our apartment whenever they cook since we are at the top of the tier.
- Baby had a cold already
- Bizarro incident involving someone else at work requiring long, tedious correspondence to superiors

And yesterday, the kicker: I step out of the house to find that some jerk has backed into our now-newest car, and run off, leaving me with what looks like $2K in body damage.

In the process of collecting car pieces from beneath our smacked car, I throw out my finicky back, which has hitherto been fine for months, and I limp back home to lay flat on the floor for the rest of the day.

As soon as Triduum is over, I'm writing myself a prescription for the poor man's prozac (=a nice bottle). As a wise man once said, "I'd rather have a bottle in front o' me than a frontal lobotomy," and I'm about ready for the latter.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/29/2005 04:00:00 AM | link

Social Security to go into the red a year earlier than expected (2017) and to go broke by 2041, according to the newest estimate by the Soc Sec Admin Trustees.

This confirms what I've bet on all along: I'll never see a cent of that money. And certainly never make a profit on it.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/29/2005 03:00:00 AM | link

Revenge of Domestic Quotes, XVII:

Zorak, on the way to confession: "Spouses should be allowed to confess each other's sins to the priest."
Me: "Why's that?"
Zorak: "Because I always remember your sins better than I remember mine."

(For me, the memory-less one, on the other hand, it's easy to forgive and forget because I just forget and the forgiveness business becomes moot after that.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/29/2005 02:00:00 AM | link

Profiles in professionalism: bugspray.com, SeriousCigars.com, and NewEgg.com.

The internet is a wonderful place for several reasons. One of them is the ability to find awesome vendors who share your knowledge-hungry, DYI-attitude -- indeed, cater to it.

These vendors are a form a therapy for me, delaying the onset of patromorphosis, a disease contracted by routine exposure to the far greater number of slap-a-bandaid-on-it, I-can't-be-bothered-to-know-my-product stooges who "work" in just about any retail sector these days.

Bugspray.com has been my friend ever since I lived in DC apartment buildings and learned a bit about the trade. In the latest go around with an uninvited mouse and the prospect of new, bug-ridden south-of-the-border neighbors, I called upon them again, and the response was so good, I had to blog about it. In brief:

1) Amazing product selection. The website is really inelegant, but it's getting better.

2) They educate you, the consumer, so you can share the same knowledge as the pros. This is an essential step for solving any recurring problem.

3) Industrial-strength, not retail-consumer-strength products. Lawyeritis has caused most large chains to cease carrying "dangerous" products, for fear the average idiot will inhale himself a lungfull of real pesticide or mix two chemicals and kill himself. The result is that the rest of us have to use a pop-gun instead of a pistol when it comes to getting something done (e.g., bottle of RAID spray).

4) Good shipping; no tax because it's online.

5) Fabulous customer service. Here, I am routinely knocked off my socks. Twice I've called to ask a detailed question, twice I've gotten great in-depth answers and product recommendations. LINDA has been awesome and even called to show me how I could save $10+ on shipping some ground-only items.

Into the same category of awesome vendor, I include Serious Cigars and New Egg.

If you've never shopped for computer or electronic goods at New Egg, prepare to be blown away by lightening fast shipping, cheap prices, and usually a bevy of customer reviews by people who generally know their stuff, unlike the string of idiots who routinely click into zdnet.com's product review section.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/29/2005 01:00:00 AM | link

Terri granted viaticum on Easter. Deo gratias. Saints of God, come to her aid!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/28/2005 01:29:00 AM | link

Gov. Bush goes to the brink of armed conflict between local police and state police in a last-minute effort to save Terri.

Meanwhile, the local ordinary sits on his ass.

Who will Bishop Lynch fight tooth and nail? The Roman Curia over liturgical norms in the 1970s, via the Free Republic, via a March 2005 article in Adoremus. In October of 2004 Lynch reminisces about the efforts of 70s liturgists against curial authorities and calls the efforts "a holy battle" in which they were "supported by an episcopacy with both backbone and resolve."

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Mt 6:21).

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/26/2005 07:58:00 PM | link

The Schindlers again request viaticum. The local ordinary does NOTHING. Correction -- sins of omission are not nothing.

Meanwhile, Bishop Wenski of Florida breaks the monotony of the Florida Bishops' Conference impotent, pandering statement-making about how Terri's family and her murderer need to reconcile for Easter and actually defends Terri and the need for an unambiguous response to this important moment in our nation's history. The bishop's words:

"In Terri's case, we can speak of the controversial diagnosis of PVS -- persistent vegetative state. Yet, even while to speak of her as a "vegetable" might give a false reassurance to our conflicted consciences, she still remains a human being, no less human than Christopher Reeve, who was kept alive on a respirator until he died late last year of natural causes. No one begrudged his heroic struggle to live, and we were all edified by his courage and that of his family who stood by him. Terri, however, is not being kept alive by any machine as was Reeve for most of his last decade of life. She only needs assistance to be fed. Does the fact that he could speak and she cannot make it right to deprive her of the ordinary means of human sustenance? If so, how can any of our seriously ill brethren ever again trust themselves to sleep while under a doctor's care?

"Some would argue that to remove her feeding tube is simply to let nature take its course. Yet what is "natural" about starving to death? True, she was fed through a feeding tube -- she depends on others, but so did Christopher Reeve, and so does a newborn baby depend on others for nutrition and hydration. John Donne said: "No man is an island entire of itself". As members of the human race we all are interdependent on each other to one degree or another. The mark of a civilized society was that the helpless had the greatest claim on our protection. Now it would seem that they have the least.

"And so, Holy Week, the annual remembrance of Jesus' passion and death, begins with the Passion of Terri Schiavo. Terri's agony has already begun and, barring some miracle, the denouement of Terri's drama will be her death.

"This week, in recalling Jesus' Passover from death to life, we celebrate the fact that the misterium iniquitatis is overcome through the misterium crucis.

"From the cross Jesus cried out, and his cry is echoed today by all those held captive to a world of pain and sin.

"As Terri shares in his passion, she will share in his Resurrection. Like Jesus did, Terri Schiavo cries out, though with muted voice: "I thirst!" "

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/26/2005 07:47:00 PM | link

Complete Fast for Terri

A message from Papa-Lu at Papa Familias, a laudable suggestion. I actually recommend doing this EVERY good Friday if possible, just because fasting regulations are so modest. Terri is a great reason to try this spiritual sacrifice if you haven't yet already.

"I understand it's a little late in the day, but better late...

Please consider, on this day of universal fasting in the Church, fasting for and in solidarity with Terri Schiavo. Her family is out of legal options, they are left to watch her die if nobody intervenes. They need a miracle, or a heroic action by somebody with the power to save Terri.

I propose that we Catholics consider allowing the Eucharist to be the only sustenance to enter our mouths today, and we can pray that through the power of the Eucharist, somebody's heart may be moved, or some miracle of grace can occur to prevent Terri from dying.

I have faith - and we all must - that God can save Terri Schiavo, and prayer and fasting are the means to bring this about. But even if nothing happens, and she perishes, our fasting can still be a silent witness at the foot of her cross.

If you've already consumed something, you can still participate in some way, I leave that to you how.

On this, the 10th anniversary of Evangelium Vitae, let us join ourselves with Terri and other victims of the Culture of Death."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/25/2005 12:19:00 PM | link

BlogsForTerri.com is incurring bandwidth charges far beyond their fiscal means. But they are paying whatever it takes now to keep afloat at this critical time, and praying they get help from the online community. In fact, they're so focused on what's breaking in her case, they're not advertising their need very much, but it is real. But I got that info directly from the website owner when I sent them $10 via paypal to pay for those videos they are hosting on their site.

Click here to go directly to the donation page. Help them defray the costs of getting the truth out.

Bloggers for Terri make the news.

Jeb Bush seeks custody of Terri.

I pray that they can save her. But if they can't, I pray the blogging community doesn't let this case die until amazing testimony like this regarding Michael's mistreatment of her is heard:

"Carla Sauer Iyer worked as a caregiver for Terri Schiavo and the story she tells is incredible. She claims that she reported Michael Schiavo to her supervisors and police for injecting Terri with Insulin in an effort to deepen her comma or bring death to her quicker. She states she was fired from her job when she reported these and other allegations to proper authorities. And viewers, according to Carla, a police report was filed."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/23/2005 11:08:00 PM | link

In exasperation over the Terri Schiavo situation, I asked my wife two questions yesterday:

1) Why hasn't a soul on the staff of that hospice walked out in protest?

2) Where is the local ordinary? Shouldn't he be at the hospice? The woman was denied viaticum, which in her inarticulate condition, is equivalent to being denied an opportunity for a final confession, not to mention plenary indulgences which can be granted when death is immanent.

As it turns out, one hospice worker has walked out, and was fired for it.

The Vatican has issued a second statement in defense of Terri.

The bishop of St. Petersburg is doing what in the mean time? Issuing mamby-pamby statements about how sad it is that the parties in the decision don't agree. Boo-hoo. A bishop needs to lead the faithful in these matters, not hold everyone's hand and make pleas for prayer without actually exercising unambiguous judgment in a matter of great moment -- for Terri, and now, for the course of this nation, since it has become a national issue.

Any investigation into Terri's case will reveal sufficient evidence to satisfy Lynch's own criteria for when withdrawal of food and water are unjust, namely, according to his August 2003 press release:

"Our Catholic teaching is also clear that “nourishment or hydration may be withheld or withdrawn where that treatment itself is causing harm to the patient or is useless because the patient’s death is imminent, as long as the patient is made comfortable. In general, the terms ‘death is imminent’ and ‘terminally ill’ imply that a physician can predict that the patient will die of the fatal pathology within a few days or weeks, regardless of what life prolonging methods are utilized.”"

Obviously the last statement is NOT TRUE in the case of Terri. There is abundant evidence to show this.

The document he cites as evidence of Catholic teaching is "Life, Death and Treatment of Dying Patients: Pastoral Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Florida, 1989." Now, a statement by a local synod of bishops has no more force than the pastoral judgment of an individual bishop within his diocese. This is essentially not a reference to a higher authority, but a circular reference to his own judgment, which appears to have theologically meritless accidental agreement with those bishops geographically proximate to him. (This page shows that seven Florida bishops agree with Lynch.)

The Vatican, on the other hand, has issued a stern warning that the treatment of Terri is unjust via the Pontifical Council for Life:

"'I confirm the moral judgment doesn't change, because it remains an illicit and serious act - even more serious since it appears the decision over who lives and who dies has become a question for a court,' Sgreccia said."

Roma locuta, Lynch absconditus est?

If the President, Congress and Rome can see, from hundreds of miles away, that this woman is not fatally ill and PVS, how come Bishop Lynch can't? Does he fear that the geriatric population of Florida will rise up and overthrow him if he speaks out on euthanasia?

To their credit, the latest statement by the Florida bishops' conference is less ambiguous in tone, certainly a result from increased pleading by the Florida faithful:

"As long as they effectively provide nourishment and help provide comfort, we should see them as part of what we owe to all who are helpless and in our care.... We reiterate our plea that Mrs. Schiavo continues to receive all treatments and care that will be of benefit to her.

"In a statement provided in March 2004, Pope John Paul II urges us to see every patient in a so-called "vegetative" state as a fellow human being, retaining his or her full dignity despite diminished abilities. Regarding nourishment for such patients, he said:

'I should like particularly to underline how the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use, furthermore, should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and as such morally obligatory, insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering.'

"We pray that Terri Schindler Schiavo's family and friends, and all who hold power over her fate, will see that she continues to receive nourishment, comfort and loving care."

So my question is: IF we are supposed to conclude, based on this latest statement, that Terri ought to receive nourishment, why does the Bishop not go further and state in stronger language that Michael Schiavo's insistence on removing her food and water is tantamount to starvation, and in the words of Msgr. Sgreccia, unjust and "cruel"?

If someone is dying, should we hint in a slightly more sharpened statement than one we issued six months months ago, that murder is going on here? Especially when every day counts in saving this woman's life and avoiding a disgusting precedent in American law? Or should we just come out and say it? Even show up at the hospice and request to administer viaticum in person?

If Michael Schiavo's wishes are objectively murderous in light of Catholic teaching, how can Bishop Lynch say the following as his final word on the matter??

"I would like to add the following. At the end of the day ... the decision to remove Terri’s artificial feeding tube will be that of her husband, Michael. It is he who will give the order, not the courts or certainly the governor or legislature or the medical personnel surrounding and caring for Terri. In other words, as I have said from the beginning of this sad situation, the decision will be made within a family. A significant part of that family feels they are outside of the decision-making process and they are in great pain and suffering mightily."

Is this not PRO-CHOICE language? The strategy is the same: The Church might teach X or Y generally speaking, but it is the choice of the individual who will determine what happens in the end. And then nothing is said about the object morality or immorality of that choice! It is simply presented as Michael Shiavo's "right" as Terri's husband. Certainly, as a matter of law, Michael has possessed that right so far. But as a matter of ETHICS, no one has the right to murder, and a bishop needs to make that unambiguously clear both to Michael, and to his diocese that he has told Michael as much, to avoid the sin of scandal.

If Terri is being murdered, isn't this manner of speech inappropriate? All I can see in this subjectivist tone about how "sad" things are, and how it is "Michael's decision in the end" is a (hopefully unintentional) proviso for those who disagree to let their consciences remain unaffected by Church teaching.

For more, read: Where is King Solomon when Terri Schiavo Needs Him?

See also this post, with further reading at the end, by Earl Appleby, Jr.: Tragic But Not Complex.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/23/2005 04:11:00 PM | link

VERY interesting analysis by a doctor who reviews Terri's brain scan from 1996. An excerpt:

"The most alarming thing about this image, however, is that there certainly is cortex left. Granted, it is severely thinned, especially for Terri's age, but I would be nonplussed if you told me that this was a 75 year old female who was somewhat senile but fully functional, and I defy a radiologist anywhere to contest that.


See also his remarks on the presence of a shunt and what that tells us about bone injury caused by a blow to the head being the more likely cause than oxygen depravation.

I personally cannot understand why Michael Shiavo would spend so many years of his life fighting this in court when all he says he wants to do is "move on." Given that Terri's parents would take everything off his hands, this doesn't make sense unless he had a murder or rape attempt or something similarly criminal to cover up and therefore he needs to make sure she never talks to anyone again. That's just my personal take on the matter. Something's up when people want a woman dead this badly.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/23/2005 07:11:00 AM | link

Making the Universal Serial Bus a truly universal input conduit for your computer:

USB Sushi. Only the Japanese!

Courtesy Victor Lams.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/22/2005 05:45:00 PM | link

Here's the most esoteric title I've found this week: Richard H. Lawson, The Class Preference of R-Infix Weak Verbs in Gothic and Old High German.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/22/2005 04:54:00 AM | link

Rolling Stone has a eulogy edition for Hunter S. Thompson. Pat Buchanan was not somebody I would expect to have been a fan.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/22/2005 01:36:00 AM | link

Judge Wittenmore is sitting on his hands. What an absolutely gruelling nightmare, driven by the most craven instincts of man! Of course, the pragmatic thing to do is to stall, remain uncommitted, and watch the woman die, leaving the point moot. What an asshole.

When history passes you an important national moment of crisis -- and the original meaning of "crisis" referred to events just such as these, requiring astute judgment -- you don't turn turtle and wait until the killing is over and THEN issue some unprincipled statement of moderation for the purpose of quelling the demos.

It's not like Terri is a flight risk. She's not going anywhere. You can always decide to kill somebody; you can't decide to raise someone from the dead. Why he doesn't reinstate basic medical care and decide the case in a principled way in a reasonable amount of time is beyond me; it can only be an attempt to sidle the issue.

Either be a man, Wittenmore, and get honest about the American situation (i.e., admit frankly in your ruling that our "freedom" & "privacy" has come to mean the killing the weakest for the sake of our pleasure) and say that Terri must die, or be a man and say that what is happening here is vile and contrary to basic human rights.

Instead, the worm hides behind paperwork. Not with a bang did the West end, but with paperwork and cowardice. I bet you there is a lot of paperwork where Screwtape works.

Keep praying.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/21/2005 08:43:00 PM | link

Scattered remarks on Scrupulosity, Catholic dissenters, and Martin Luther occasioned by Joseph Ciarrocchi's The Doubting Disease.

As they say, it never hurts to check. And check, and check, and ... oh, wait, it can hurt.

I decided to read a book on scrupulosity after one reader wrote to ask whether I was getting too carried away about the Sunday obligation question. I clarified the difference between scrupulosity and my professional interest in minute theological questions. But I realized I hadn't come across a work on scrupulosity before. So I bought one. The work is Joseph W. Ciarrocchi's The Doubting Disease: Help for Scrupulosity and Religious Compulsions (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1995). The author has credentials not only in psychology, but in theology as well. His main thesis is that scrupulosity must be understood as a variety of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) which besets religious people. He is apparently an OCD specialist, and has taught at Loyola.

The book is good to read on a number of points. Unlike some modern psychologists, the author accepts religious belief as a healthy, positive thing, not a psychological weakness or aberration. He criticizes his predecessors in this area for sometimes blaming the existence of scrupulosity on religion itself, especially very formalist religions like Catholicism with its many rituals. To Ciarrocchi, this is tantamount to blaming the soap industry for handwashing compulsions.

Intended for the field of pastoral theology, the book is part theory, part practice; it is fundamentally a work of psychology, but with several examples making theological applications to the treatment of the scrupulous.

When the author delineates treatment strategies and explains their underlying logic, he defends the nugget of practical wisdom often related to confessors by the moral manuals of previous centuries: the best way to treat the scrupulous is to get them to commit to a program of blind obedience to a good confessor in all matters for a long period of time (several months, a few years) until the scrupulous behavior subsides. Ciarrocchi then explains why he thinks this approach, gleaned from the trenches, possesses a real insight into the nature of scrupulosity and its proper treatment. (Basically, because psychologists have already recognized the value of "exposure" techniques to overcoming entrenched compulsions in OCD therapy more generally.)

Lastly, the author makes two great points pertaining directly to the practice of academic theology:

1) At minimum, at least one article on scrupulosity was very common in pre-conciliar moral manuals, right up until the 1950s. Since the 1960s, works of pastoral or moral theology have all but ceased to address the question, with the result that many confessors, and worse, people suffering from scrupulosity, have been left in the lurch. Moreover, this has been due in part toward the radical advancement of "theologies of dissent" since the Council. (Surely the smoke of Satan in the Church, to obscure the Council's teaching, IMHO.) To quote the author:

"In the Roman Catholic tradition, moral theology has lost its systematic emphasis since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Most discussions of conscience in contemporary moral theology are geared toward the topic of dissent -- that is, when is it legitimate to follow one's own conscience in opposition to formal institutional teaching? Even a contemporary moral theology text which strongly maintains a traditional approach and has the full approval of church hierarchy does not list scruples or scrupulosity in its index (Grisez, 1983) [sc. Christian Moral Principles, Vol 1.]. This may be a "sign of the times" that, given religion's struggle to maintain absolute moral standards, the issue of scruples captures little attention" (Ciarrocchi, p. 163-164, n. 2).

Perhaps we can sharpen this remark a little. I note that the practice of dissent (following one's own conscience against formal authority) is diametrically opposed to the traditional remedy for the scrupulous (following formal authority against the suggestions of one's own conscience). This recognition explains several things:

a) Enthusiastic dissenters often make themselves blind to the sole remedy for the scrupulous, since strict following of a legitimate, trustworthy authority is tainted with "paternalism," slavish obedience to "the hierarchy," etc. etc. in their minds. Therefore, the best remedy for the scrupulous in their opinion is to just "get over" the small details in the moral law and "live & love" however seems best. Of course, this advice is at best useless for the scrupulous. Elsewhere Ciarrocchi mentions a study which demonstrates that the best way to reinforce obsessive patterns of behavior is to tell the OCD patient to try not to think about those behaviors for a while. He inevitably fails, and when his former ways of thinking return, they do so with a vengeance. So too then, when one tells a scrupulous person to just "live and love."

b) The diametrical opposition of scrupulosity and dissent also explain why your typical liberal confessor accuses you of being scrupulous when you are merely obeying the letter of the law in small matters, such as the Eucharistic fast, or if you appear in confession "too frequently," which for many means more than once a month. To a profligate, chastity seems prudish. To a drunk, moderation in drink seems abstemtious. To a dissenter, obedience in small matters seems scrupulous.

c) On the pastoral level, theological obsession with dissent has come at the direct expense of overlooking scrupulosity.

2) Ciarrocchi gives several historical examples of scrupulosity in famous figures in Christian history.

First, he distinguishes developmental scrupulosity from clinical scrupulosity. Only the latter is a psychological disease. The former is simply a "phase" people go through when they find themselves unprepared to adjudicate the balance between newfound freedoms and responsibilities. Ciarrocchi gives the example of adolescents, who have many new freedoms, but also the challenges of exercising mature moral judgment. He also gives the example of converts, who change value systems and therefore are unprepared to adjudicate all the new religious responsibilities in a balanced way. Apparently both groups of people are observed to have a higher-than-average incidence of transitional scrupulosity, something that often works itself out with a little age and experience if the person is otherwise psychologically non-obsessive. Ciarrocchi uses the remarks of St. Ignatius of Loyola immediately after his conversion to demonstrate how this can happen, and juxtaposes them to Ignatius' later thoughts on the dangers of scrupulosity (Cf. pp. 121-123).

Second, however, he presents what he thinks are two examples of clinical scrupulosity in the Christian tradition. The first is John Bunyan, whose spiritual autobiography he treats at length. Unfortunately, I knew nothing about Bunyan beforehand and so I didn't have much to reflect upon here.

The second example, however, was Martin Luther. In Ciarrocchi's book, the remark is almost an aside, but what implications!. Ciarrocchi compares the spiritual autobiography of Bunyan with Luther, and then remarks about Luther:

"The next phase of Bunyan's life describes a recurring pattern following his conversion. The pattern involved an intense experience of God's grace, followed shortly by tormenting doubts about his personal salvation. The periods of doubt lasted anywhere from a few months to several years. He experienced grace as ecstasy; the doubt as an unending search for assurance of salvation. The doubt haunted him day and night, during which he felt totally condemned.

"In the doubting phases his mind generated an ingenious variety of obsessions to plague him about the state of his soul. Those familiar with the history of Christianity will recall Martin Luther's similar worries about personal salvation, and how he solved these doubts through his belief in justification by faith alone."

This puts Luther's opposition to the place of sacerdotal mediation and ritual in the process of justification in a whole new light, no?

And does it not also shed light on simul iustus et peccator? (I have always considered it a psychotic doctrine of Luther when understood in its strong sense.)

Ciarrocchi doesn't say any more about the matter, but how much more might be said! And several Catholics have already blogged about how psychologically reassuring the practice of confession is designed to be. Of course, if you constantly obsess about whether you've completed the ritual successfully, you don't feel this way! And you keep blaming your human weakness. Only God can achieve His ends with certainty for the scrupulous mind. Therefore, justification has to be entirely God's work, not our own (or else, how could we ever be sure the filthy, weak, human component did its "job"?) But of course, this is a complete misunderstanding of how nature is indwelt by grace (triggered by the synergist controversies of earlier centuries).

Ciarrocchi observes that many scrupulous knit themselves ever more deeply into the bonds of self-accusation and the tormented spiritual life it engenders in an attempt to get out of scrupulous behavior -- like an insect caught in the spider's web. More struggle often means more doubts, and more doubts means more bonds. Such scrupulous people often do the worst thing possible and flee from regular consultation with a good confessor and retreat into a life of exclusive self-appraisal because the scrupulous party believes that the confessor simply doesn't realize how evil he is, nor can he see how many places sin could potentially be lurking in his benighted soul.

Perhaps so too Luther? Yet his novelty consists in taking a personal quirk to a doctrinal level. For in both the personal behaviors of the scrupulous and the doctrines of the Reformation we see:

- abandonment of confessors

- constant affirmation that one leads a life of ineradicable depravity and unwashable sins. (For simul peccator = semper peccator, versus the Catholic notion of the persistence of concupiscence)

- firm insistance that the purely unmediated, interior forum, as assessed by his private judgment alone, is the arena in which the Christian works out his salvation. No other authority can intrude here.

While it is not always "fair game" to use a person's biography to critique his theology, I think the resonances between Luther's life, doctrine and scrupulosity are potentially quite revealing here.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/19/2005 05:13:00 PM | link

Moral issues all over the news today

1) They are killing Terri Schiavo.

2) "Meanwhile, hundreds of patients are rushing to Russian clinics and beauty salons that claim to offer embryonic stem cell therapy for a range of diseases as well as cosmetic therapy.

Dr. Roman Knyazev's "Cellulite," a clinic in central Moscow, advertises injections of stem cells from aborted fetuses into thighs, buttocks and stomach to help women get rid of cellulite and look younger."

read more.

3) The Church in England puts pressure on Parliament over right to life issues.

4) Brazil goes soft on abortion. Each time someone accepts the argument that just because a woman is raped, she gets to murder a baby, it is a testimony to the perennial idiocy of the human race.

I am retiring to aspirin and to bed.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/18/2005 07:25:00 PM | link

Want formations like they have in Luray, but don't want to wait 10,000 years?

Check out the ice wall, which these Alaskans built for fun. That's 152 feet of decorative ice formation; or, your own self-built mountain for climbing.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/15/2005 08:48:00 PM | link

Whenever I say this, I'm considered extremist. Now a famous (celebrity) judge says the same:

"Reason: You said abortion is murder. Should it be regulated by the state or should it be prohibited by the state?

Napolitano: Absolutely it should be prohibited, just the way all unjust killings are prohibited.

Reason: Should doctors go to prison as murderers?

Napolitano: Yes.

Reason: First-degree murder?"

Napolitano: Yes.

Reason: Should they get the death penalty--

Napolitano: I don't believe that the state has the moral authority to execute, so I don't believe in the death penalty.

Reason: But you do think that doctors who perform abortions should be put in jail as murderers? Every bit as much as Scott Peterson?

Napolitano: Yes. By a state government, not by the federal government, because the Constitution doesn't authorize the federal government to prosecute murderers. Roe v. Wade is wrong because there's isn't a scintilla in the Constitution or its history to justify federal legislation on abortion. It would then be up to the state of Kansas to allow it and Pennsylvania not to allow it."

That's Judge Andrew P. Napolitano who you see on Fox News all the time. First degree murder. Explicit link to Scott Peterson. Excellent.

Hat tip: Harangutan Action Hour.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/15/2005 08:17:00 PM | link

Another guy gets sick of dating in modernity: Wanted: a wife that won't hate me. The Cure for the Common Life has a nice short statement on modern gender expectations and their failure to actually work.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/15/2005 05:28:00 AM | link

Who are you to tell this mallard that his love is "wrong"? Au contraire, it's natural!

A scientist from the Netherlands has what I call an "Armin Meiwes moment of reckoning." I can't wait for the moment when those sexologists who keep saying we should all behave like the Bonobo monkeys get a hold of these quirks in the animal kingdom and claim they excuse whatever fetish the sodomites are pushing these days. Looks like the gay octopus just went from outre to blase.

A small addendum: By the title, I do not mean to imply that there is something wrong with natural law theory, merely the use of the concept of "natural" by most liberals who don't understand teleology but rather just cite any animal behavior as "natural" and therefore "permissible" when it comes to humans. The left usually does not argue natural = normative, because they don't care about natural law themselves, they only care about throwing up canards to conservative reasoning. (Sorry I could not resist the pun.) That is why one never sees progressive social theorists invoking the animal kingdom to defend the behavior of males all over the world who gather large harems of females and kill other males in the process, despite the fact that this behavior happens in many, many species. They have no interest in excusing such behavior, so they don't care to talk about it being natural.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/14/2005 06:12:00 AM | link

Another random reason to enjoy living in the Old Dominion.

From the 2002 Guide to Virginia Protocol and Traditions comes this defense of the propriety of addrssing a wife by her husband's first and last name, and the following clarification:

"When a married woman uses her husband’s name, address invitations to both of them using his given name and their surname (Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Jones). It is incorrect to address a married woman as Mrs. when using her first name (Mrs. Kathleen Jones); that indicates she is divorced. When an invitation is addressed to her only, use 'Mrs. Ralph Jones' or 'Ms. Kathleen Jones.'"

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/13/2005 01:59:00 AM | link

Duncan Stroik strikes again!, proving that the tide of wreckovations can be overturned.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/08/2005 03:38:00 AM | link

Revenge of Domenstic Quotes, XIV:
Zorak, reflecting, amazed: "I had never seen such bitches until I moved to the North! How do they get that way?" My Southern belle was reflecting on the Yankee girls she met at college.

Zorak, keeping theme, but this time, on why she's giving me a hard time about something: "I'm a woman. I can't rule the world, but I can be a pain in the ass."

[It is hard to resist a syllogism: Maybe the Northern women are so crabbed because they are more driven to rule the world?]

And something I've never heard her say before we had the baby, but now I hear about once a week:

"Look at the pretty dress! This is sooo cute! And it's PINK! Look!"

Even she admits the discontinuity with her previous fashion mantra, "Black goes with everything," about her own monochromatic attire. I'm sure she'll chide me for teasing her in "public" about this, but it's a happy change, IMHO, and not a descent into frou-frou inanity.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/08/2005 03:19:00 AM | link

"Guess who was incorporated into the Body of Christ today?"
"Who's got a font of living water rising up to eternal life?"
"Who became a partaker in the divine nature according to her capacity and with respect to her supernatural end?"

Such were the happy questions Dad posed to the baby today. Mom & I are very happy for our saintly little girl.

We were also most blessed to have two wonderful Godparents: Cacciaguida & Elinor!
Cacciaguida presented us with a lovely commemorative missal, Elinor made some beautiful baby clothes, and Cacciadelia made a darling little doll all by herself.

Thanks to all who shared our day!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/06/2005 11:55:00 PM | link

ND freshman punished for refusing to attend That "Play". But really, a 16-page paper is a slap on the wrist. The problem, I'd imagine, is that one has already vexed the crazy feminist instructor and so he's not going to get a good grade regardless of what he writes. What is genuinely unfair is that the kid only received 4 days to write the paper.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/06/2005 10:31:00 PM | link

Actually, I'm Gabelsberger Kurzschrift, but close enough.

It 's comforting to say that 'practice makes perfect'....
You are 'Gregg shorthand'. Originally designed to enable people to write faster, it is also very useful for writing things which one does not want other people to read, inasmuch as almost no one knows shorthand any more.

You know how important it is to do things efficiently and on time. You also value your privacy, and (unlike some people) you do not pretend to be friends with just everyone; that
would be ridiculous. When you do make friends, you take them seriously, and faithfully keep what they confide in you to yourself. Unfortunately, the work which you do (which is very important, of course) sometimes keeps you away from social activities, and you are often lonely. Your problem is that Gregg shorthand has been obsolete for a long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/06/2005 10:17:00 PM | link

I need one of these. I ditched the TV when I went to college and never went back. Once I turned it on again in the summertime, I saw exactly how insipid, leftist, concupiscent, fear-mongering or consumerist >95% of the programming was. During a lent later in college, I ditched the radio, and I've been listening only to digital music ever since.

Problem is, whenever I'm in a room with a TV on, the damn thing still takes over my brain. I find it extremely hard to carry on a conversation or read a book. Ergo, I would love a TV-B-Gone. Apparently, thousands and thousands of other people feel the same way. And like you're ever going to get permission to use it in a public space. Heh heh.

When my wife was delivering, in fact, I needed it. They had a TV in the delivery room, which had channel and volume control, but no OFF button. They presumed, I guess, that you would always want to watch something. But my wife and I found it annoying, so I finally just concealed it.

A much-debated study has linked TV to ADHD. I've been opining that for a while now, but I think you have to factor video games into the mix too.

Here's some stats I find astonshing:

"Twenty-six percent of US children younger than age two have TV in their bedrooms - often watched from the crib, and 36 percent of families leave the TV on almost all of the time, even when no one is watching, according to a 2000 Kaiser Family Foundation study."


"In the study of more than 2,000 children, Christakis found that for every hour watched at age one and age three, the children had almost a ten percent higher chance of developing attention problems that could be diagnosed as ADHD by age 7. A toddler watching three hours of infant television daily had nearly a 30 percent higher chance of having attention problems in school."

More from whitedot.org. Note to people under age 30: long ago, when one turned off an old black-and-white TV set, it made a little white dot in the center of the screen before fading out entirely. (hat tip)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/06/2005 02:08:00 AM | link

Two great posts from a blogger requesting a recip link:

Chaput takes a page from Mother Theresa to Bill Clinton: "If you don't want those babies, Mr. Clinton, send them to me." Chaput also makes mince meat of the standard criticism. Will someone please give that man a red hat?

& your daily moment of radical frankness.

Strangely enough, though, this is also in the mailbag:


I looked at your web site - http://old-oligarch.blogspot.com - and I would really like to set up a partnership with you.

I own a site that provides information on mens gay relationships - http://www.gay-personals-same-sex-dating-lesbian.com. Since our sites are related to each other, I would like to propose a link exchange partnership with your site.

My site gets a lot of traffic every day, so a link from my site to your site will bring in a decent amount of traffic to your site."

Yes, we have so much in common. Like carbon-based life. If something so slimy can still be called carbon-based...

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/05/2005 04:39:00 AM | link

Gadamer with cheese
In the same way that a man might mix a 1942 Chateau Mouton Rothschild with some raspberry juice, and slug down the whole bottle while snackin' on some Doritos, so too might an assistant prof at U. Calgary use Gadamer to analyze a focus group of 12 teenage girls and study their opinions about YM and Seventeen magazine. I kid you not. Thus reads the abstract from the Journal of Advanced Nursing. If you think you're working to hard to get an assistant professorship, don't read what follows.

"Chow, J. (2004) Journal of Advanced Nursing 48(2), 132–139. Adolescents’ perceptions of popular teen magazines. The mass media has an enormous influence on adolescent women and their perceptions about the world and themselves. Teen magazines are a favoured form of the mass media, thus they were chosen for this research project.The aim of this paper is to report a study exploring the messages of health and health-related material in teen magazines from the perspective of adolescents. Knowledge of how adolescents perceive teen magazine messages can be used in the care of this client group.Interpretive inquiry, a substantively driven research approach, was used for the project. A convenience sample of 12 adolescents, aged 12–18 years, participated in two focus groups, and selected images and texts from popular North American teen magazines (YM,Teen, andSeventeen) to discuss. Focus group discussions were audiotaped and then transcribed. Individual interviews with the adolescents were also completed to obtain additional data. Audiotaped interviews were analysed using Gadamer's hermeneutic ideas about‘claim’ or‘address’.The findings indicate that teen magazines promote particular expectations about health and health-related activities. Participants noted that the magazines promote the message of perfection by portraying models with perfect eyes, teeth and bodies. The magazines provide ideals of thinness which are presented in a seemingly attainable fashion. Participants stated that magazines suggest that adolescent women need male attention for protection and companionship, in order to achieve fulfilment. Being healthy or whole seemed to be dependent on the adolescent reader embracing and becoming the ideals portrayed in teen magazines.In order to provide relevant and sensitive health care, health care providers need to be cognizant of the persistent demands placed on adolescents by teen magazines and the mass... "

Gee, whiz. The models' bodies are too perfect. And teens might be susceptible to the idea that if they don't have a man, they're not going to be protected and loved by anyone. What's next on his CV, an article about the fact that babies poop and gurgle a lot?

Really, one wonders exactly how long the academy can pander this s--t around and still call it scholarship. How about an application of Saul Kripke's Naming and Necessity to Beavis & Butthead? It was Beavis, after all, who recalled man's estrangement from nature to the minds of a generation, when, upon seeing a goat for the first time, said, "Hey, Butthead, that's a wolf!" Indeed, the resources of contemporary analytic philosophy may not be sufficient to address what the Germans now call Die Buttheadfremdnamensproblem. The crisis demands the application of the Heideggerean concepts of darstellung and geworfenheit to analyze this as well. Get me grant!

[Updated to add:]
I found the full text of the article online. Here are some passages for which the author cites Gadamer's Truth and Method as an authority:

"Hermeneutics does not begin with putting data into predetermined categories within a framework but with listening. The statement, ‘the possibility that the other person may be right is the soul of hermeneutics’ was attributed to Gadamer (Heidelberg Colloquium, 9 July 1989)."

"Health care providers must listen (Gadamer 1994) to young people, validate adolescent strengths and ask permission to address any concerns about adolescent risks (Ginsburg 2003)."

An example of such analysis:

"'Adolescent women portrayed as perfect Their eyes and their teeth and everything look so perfectly pearly white. Like you know, they're too clean and neat and perfect, you know, and regulated.'(Barbara)

"These words about perfection seem to be words of envy. This envy relates to the perfect eyes, teeth, neatness, cleanness, and overall perfection belonging to another. Gathering adolescents around images of perfection provoked reflection about the relationship of the adolescent's body to self, in comparison with the commercial ideal: Nan: And yet then they put a picture of this perfect girl that looks like wonderful and everyone wants that kind of body but it's making you love her body not your own.

"Carol: 'Exactly, who has a body like that? Nobody! Perfect!'

"Adolescent women are socialized to strive, as many women do, for perfection that lures them, but is always beyond their reach. Therefore, the adolescent self is both present and beckoning. Adolescent women may perceive themselves as less than whole in comparison with images in magazines..."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/03/2005 02:01:00 AM | link

An exercise in speculative domain name parking by Mr. Hiss. (H.R.E. Franz Joseph is depicted.) Apparently the restoration will occur regionally.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 3/02/2005 08:02:00 PM | link


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