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

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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

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John, does this rice taste a bit like...people?

This takes "Frankenfood" to a whole new level:

"Scientists have begun putting genes from human beings into food crops in a dramatic extension of genetic modification. The move, which is causing disgust and revulsion among critics, is bound to strengthen accusations that GM technology is creating "Frankenstein foods" and drive the controversy surrounding it to new heights.... In the first modification of its kind, Japanese researchers have inserted a gene from the human liver into rice to enable it to digest pesticides and industrial chemicals. The gene makes an enzyme, code-named CPY2B6, which is particularly good at breaking down harmful chemicals in the body."

Full article, HT Shirley.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/29/2005 07:53:00 PM | link

Marymount Manhattan College declared no longer a Catholic college thanks to the efforts of the Cardinal Newman Society. According to them, this is the fourth school which has met a diocesean ultimatum impenitently and thereby has been removed from the roster of official Catholic schools in the diocese. Hurray for Edward Cardinal Egan! When a college would lose its Catholic identity to honor Hilary Clinton, that identity is pretty far gone.

Can we get Georgetown on that list soon? Probably not during the Cardinalate of Teddy Mac. But we can hope. May the apostolic brethren rekindle the fires of zeal amongst the college. It all starts by someone setting a standard of excellence by example.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/28/2005 10:53:00 PM | link

Everybody's got their own observations about the potential for forthcoming liturgical "reform of the reform" based on minute observations of Benedict XVI's smallest gestures. Without getting too carried away, I've noted so far:

- The red shoes
- A more traditional style of the Ring of the Fisherman.
- A pallium modelled on the oldest extant pallium (housed at Tours), with side-worn tail and red crosses.

I also thought I observed the Pontiff's preference for nodding his head at the name of the Blessed Virgin in the liturgy (a/k/a a sign of hyperdulia), a distinct gesture from bows for the sacred name of Jesus or the Most Holy Trinity, but one which has its place in either the Novus Ordo or Trid.

Like I said, one shouldn't get too carried away. We need to demonstrate our love and devotion to Benedict XVI regardless of whether he gratifies our every liturgical or pastoral sensitivity. But at the same time, one wonders what the Holy Spirit might have in store for us through the leadership of this Cardinal who has already expressed his views (as a private doctor) on the state of the liturgy and a rather severe critique of the misbegotten reception of VCII documents like Gaudium et Spes.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/28/2005 10:18:00 PM | link

Did anyone notice the back of the new papal mitre at the installation mass?

Hat tip Zorak and Meredith for keeping the meme alive. (Go here if you're confused.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/28/2005 02:08:00 AM | link

Scientists move to replace the last remaining fundamental SI unit based on an artifact and not a natural property, i.e., the kilogram.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/26/2005 09:12:00 PM | link

Ah, the daily reminders of gender dysfunction that pop up on my Yahoo homepage. This Yahoo Personals article suggests to clueless women how their potential boyfriends may be best understood like various breeds of dogs. E.g.:

"Mr. Golden Retriever is not above going through your closets and personal belongings when you're not aware. He'll feel entitled to claim your possessions as mutual territory. You can help him channel his high energy by giving him projects around the house or yard, such as; building shelves, painting the apartment and landscaping the garden."

The whole thing is just a passive-aggressive, gender-alienated response to two generations of machismo. Don't believe me? Suppose the article was written the other way around, and P.C. didn't assure us it was OK to chuckle at the previous entry. E.g.:

"Miss Schnauzer might be one tempestuous little fireball as a young pup. Although it can be fun to turn her inherent possessiveness into a game by pretending to pet another dog, don't do it too often, or she'll get jealous and chew up the upholstery in your car when you're not looking. Either way, frolicking only goes so far. Sooner or later, to have a good relationship with your adorable little friend, you need to show her who's boss and housetrain her before it's too late."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/24/2005 09:53:00 PM | link

The latest in a series of (pyrrhic) attempts over the past decade to sustain intelligent, orthodox, and conservative journalism at Catholic University: The Archbishop Sheen Review.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/24/2005 02:28:00 PM | link

Speciosus forma prae filiis hominum
Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis
Propterea benedixit te Deus in aeternum
Accingere gladio tuo super femur tuum potentissime
Specie tua et pulchritudine tua
Et intende prospere procede et regna
Propter veritatem et mansuetudinem et iustitiam
Et deducet te mirabiliter dextera tua
Sagittae tuae acutae
Populi sub te cadent
In corde inimicorum regis
Sedis tua Deus in saeculum saeculi
-- Ps 44:3-7 (Vulgata, iuxta LXX)

Thou art beautiful above the sons of men:
Grace is poured abroad in thy lips;
Therefore hath God blessed thee for ever.
Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou most mighty.
With thy comeliness and thy beauty set out,
Proceed prosperously, and reign.
Because of truth and meekness and justice:
And thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully.
Thy arrows are sharp: under thee shall people fall,
Into the hearts of the king's enemies.
Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever!
-- the above, in Douay-Rheims translation,
for my wife, the barbarian,
who says untranslated Latin citations are "snobby."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/24/2005 01:02:00 PM | link

I was surprised to see his face around the mall last weekend, since I hadn't seen him in a few years. McGruff turns 25 this year.

Childhood nostalgia aside -- although an important part of the 80s involved learning how our utopian communitarian fantasies of the previous decade now required policing the degenerate -- I've always thought this campaign was a very benign yet not unsuccessful attempt to get people to realize that they must not presume to delegate their responsibility of safeguarding themselves and their community to the police.

As they put it: "the police can't do it alone. Crime prevention is everybody's business! All people, young and old, can help 'Take A Bite Out Of Crime.'"

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/24/2005 04:59:00 AM | link

Red-light cameras in Northern Virginia will have to come down July 1, following a House committee's decision yesterday to reject legislation extending the program.

With nice little tidbits like this: " "The average citizen is probably not aware of this.... but if word were widely disseminated, such knowledge could completely undermine the effectiveness of red-light camera programs," said members of the study, commissioned by the state's Department of Transportation. The study points out that tickets can be sent by mail, but the state law requires that an official hand deliver the ticket before the motorist can be arrested or considered in contempt of court."

Yes, I take a certain glee in deflating policies based upon the non-dissemination of information.

Police check points, searchable local arrest records, and all sorts of local info at Fairfax Underground.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/24/2005 02:20:00 AM | link

This, and many other great recent shots of Benedict XVI at Cnytr.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/22/2005 06:25:00 PM | link

TFP Update on rash of Eucharist sales on eBay: Your protests are effective at shutting down sales. Keep writing until eBay adopts a policy change. I would not use the auto-mailer (probably gets filtered easily).

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/22/2005 06:18:00 PM | link

Your Linguistic Profile:

55% General American English

35% Yankee

10% Upper Midwestern

0% Dixie

0% Midwestern

Your Brain is 46.67% Female, 53.33% Male

Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female

You are both sensitive and savvy

Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed

But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/20/2005 03:56:00 PM | link

Gaudium Magnum? Words can scarcely describe!

I am exhausted from sheer exhiliration. Today's happiness began when Zorak called me yelling gleefully: "It's Ratzinger! It's Ratzinger!" I said are you sure??! The place I was privileged to be this afternoon was about the most festive possible atmosphere you could imagine, with hundreds of positively frolicking students. Some -- myself included -- did not want to think about the prospects of a Ratzinger papacy too long or too hard for fear of getting one's hopes up so irretrievably high.

The Holy Spirit has spoken through His selection of sucessor to the See of Peter. Let us listen to what He is trying to tell us.

Zorak's comment: "I think this should count as John Paul II's first miracle."

May Benedict's Bavarian constitution serve him for decades to come! Viva Il Papa!

I caught the Urbi et Orbi on TV live, but nevertheless I watched it again and again when I finally got home (about seven spontaneous parties, BBQs, etc. broke out in the meantime) just to let it sink in: Ratzinger is Pope!

Men I work with who haven't smiled in a month were as giddy as children. It was very hard to give a coherent lecture with all the thoughts of the coming pontificate. I am sure at the other educational establishment I frequent they have to keep a suicide watch over certain members of the theology department.

The other sure bet in terms of news coverage: by the time I got home around 11 pm, and started a bottle of Rheinish wine and a slice of Schwartzwaldkuchen, I could see that the news media had come to realize just exactly how grim this election was for their AmChurch schismatic fantasies of women priests, latitudinarianism and a papally-endorsed orgasmatron. In fact, the first visage to greet me from the TV was dour, withered, grimacing puss of a polyester-clad nun (NCR's Chittister) who was clearly Not Happy. Fah. Today's no day for me to even bother to engage that nonsense. Let the image of Benedict XVI hit their circuits like an airbuble to the brain. To my mind, it's champagne.

On the EWTN replay, I caught a great moment on the otherwise totally boring Neuhaus-Arroyo commentary that was priceless. Neuhaus had been speaking when they cut to the balcony of St. Peter's. They announce the name.

(Stunned silence)
(Stunned silence)
(Un-stifle-able, reflexive guffaw of joy)
My God!!

He could not believe his eyes. That about sums it up for many of us, I think. Yes, Virginia, there is a Paraclete. Let us pray for our wonderful new Pope!

For those of you who want it, here is the text of the Urbi et Orbi blessing, with the welcome presence of full-tilt absolution:

Sancti Apostoli Petrus et Paulus
decorum potestate auctoritate cum fidimus
ipsi intercedam pro nobis ad Dominum.

Resp.: Amen

Precibus et meritis beatae Maria semper Virginis, beati Michaeli, Archangeli, beati Joannis Baptistae, Sanctorum Apostolorum Petro et Pauli et omnibus sanctorum,
misereatur vestris omnipotens Deus et dimissis peccatis vestris omnibus perducat vos Jesus Christus ad vitam aeternam.

Resp.: Amen

Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem omnibus peccatorum vestrorum spatium vere et fructorum penitentiae cor semper venitens et emandationem vitae gratiam et consulationem Sancte Spiritus et finalem per severantem in bonis operibus tribuit vobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.

Resp.: Amen

Benedictam Dei omnipotentis, Patris et Filii
et Spiritu Sancti descendat ad vos et maneat in semper.

Resp.: Amen

And was it me, or did I see a distinct papal nod of hyperdulia at the mention of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the prayer?

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/19/2005 11:37:00 PM | link

Someone has done something about the aforeblogged Eucharistic sacrilege on eBay.

Please sign the petition to prohibit the sale of the Holy Eucharist on eBay. He was handed over once. That is enough.

I have heard that a Catholic bought the Eucharist with the intention of seeking return it to a priest.

(Also, note the link address. Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/18/2005 09:28:00 PM | link

The Coquette
Because sometimes, you have to drink absinthe and get work done.
Also a nice drink for absinthe beginners. Just don't use the best stuff you've got.
Also, it's a lightweight confection (reason #2 for the name).

In a highball glass, several rocks, and:
1 or 1.5 shot(s) Absinthe
0.5 shot Cointreu
6-7 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Fill with Coke
Garnish with Orange Twist and a Maraschino Cherry (who has time for fruits and vegetables any more?)

The Coke is reason #1 for the name, and you're only flirting with the absinthe, not really drinking it.

I'm using a rather large glass, and I've long ceased to measure, so maybe only a shot of the absinthe is preferable in a smaller "proper" highball.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/17/2005 11:17:00 PM | link

It knows....

You Are 31 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/17/2005 09:47:00 PM | link

I am glad some scientist has researched this question: Do Liberated Women Drive Their Husbands To Drink? (Int J Addict. 1986 Mar;21(3):385-91.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/17/2005 07:41:00 PM | link

Half of all infant deaths in Flanders due to euthanasia, says Lancet report.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/13/2005 07:21:00 PM | link

Major screw-up disperses deadly, rare flu virus as part of medical lab germ-recognition benchmarking kit. Nice going.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/13/2005 03:55:00 PM | link

Full update on the Mae Magouirk case. I will never understand this, but I've seen it a few times personally; and a family member of mine, who works in probate law, sees this all the time: people go crazy when they are given power of attourney, which can often mean power over life & death. I just don't get it.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/13/2005 03:51:00 PM | link

This COULD have been an awesome new sport: Free-Roaming Cat Hunting proposal nixed by Wisconsin governor. Boo. That could have been a great vacation for my Dad & I, both despisers of felines.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/13/2005 03:17:00 PM | link

Most Foul Sacrilege!

Blessed Sacrament sold on eBay for $2000.

Surely they can adopt some kind of policy to prevent this? I hunted for the right e-mail address to which to send a complaint. Has does any eBay'er know where to send an e-mail about this? A deluge of complaints would help change their policy.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/12/2005 08:41:00 PM | link

Dworkin dead at 58. She said some crazy things, but she was totally right about the connection between porn, the objectification of women, and rape -- which is all the AP obit writer cared to say.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/11/2005 10:31:00 PM | link

They could not save Terri Schiavo, but bloggers at Bloggers for Terri, together with World Net Daily appear to have averted the forced starvation of Mae Magouirk.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/10/2005 02:53:00 PM | link

Just die, OK?

"She has glaucoma and now this heart problem, and who would want to live with disabilities like these?" So we are going to starve grandma to death a la Terri Schiavo. With papal headlines, and exhaustion over the Terri case, no one is picking up this news story.

There are plenty of gruesome illnesses where I can imagine not wanting to live with them -- at least initially. (There are always plenty of people who come forward with those same incapacities, however, who say they are quite happy to be alive rather than the alternative.) But a heart problem and glaucoma? What fraction of the elderly is that? I'm no expert, but I think that's casting a wide net over the geriatric population and deeming them "unfit for food and water." Pretty brutal. I've long planned to grow old without social security. Looks like I better plan to die in action somehow too.

And I thought the Dutch were the only ones showing us the grim future of the Schiavo precedent.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/09/2005 02:28:00 PM | link

Casuistry of Colds and Flu

I'm finally returning to the long-postponed question of one's Sunday obligation when ill. I raised the question here, and examined these three opinions from reputable moral manuals.

Executive summary: Flu = always stay home. Cold = often stay home.

Beyond saying that the aged and infirm, those convalescing from serious illness, and "the sick" are excused from Mass, few manuals engage in a more concrete treatment of the issue. Two manuals simply say that the layman should consult the judgment of a pious doctor, his confessor, or a "prudent, religious person" with respect to the details of the case. Given that my confessor punted on the issue, I decided to examine it myself.

The general operative principles explicitly mentioned by all manualists are these. First, the Sunday obligation is a precept of the Church. It should be taken very seriously. Second, as a matter of positive ecclesiastical law, it admits of occasional exception whenever "moderately serious" loss of spiritual or temporal goods would ensue. (The divine positive law to worship God is a related but distinct matter. Those who cannot attend Mass should offer some form of prayer that day.) Several manuals thereafter go on to give examples of what would be considered moderately serious loss. Prümmer gives the most numerous and diverse examples of any authority I consulted.

It is also clear, but implicit, that moderately serious loss to others should also be reckoned in considering the effect of one's actions. Nurses are excused when their patients require their care or would be jeopardized by their absence. Soldiers are excused if their absence would cause strain on the logistics of keeping guard. Prümmer even maintains that a wife is excused if her attendance would give "grave offense" to her husband and damage the harmony of the home life. Likewise, those whose job it is to attend certain constantly-functioning machines (my own example: an industrial power generator) are routinely excused by merit of the serious loss their absence could cause to their employer or townsfolk.

In many of these cases, it is also clear but implicit that the loss can merely be a probable loss, rather than one which can be foreseen to occur with necessity. (E.g., A nurse leaving her patient cannot say for certain whether her absence will have any deleterious effect. The patient could be just fine for two hours by himself. But since the chance for serious harm is real, even if improbable, the risk of loss is still reckoned "moderately serious." I assume here that "seriousness" = "objective gravity" x "likelihood" so that "moderately serious" causes include both a slight risk of a very serious loss, or a likely risk of moderately serious loss, or a guaranteed risk of the same.) Prümmer even excuses a worker who misses Mass because he has a strong suspicion that a coworker will succeed in his plan to seduce a female coworker during his absence. Prümmer states that the spiritual losses to both parties is a sufficient reason for such a man to avoid missing Mass on a situational basis.

When the situation in question frequently recurs, all manualists express the preference for changing one's routine or lifestyle to minimize such impediments if possible. Yet all also recognize that some professions (e.g., fishermen) make these situations hard to avoid, especially during peak seasonal activity (e.g., farmers whose lambs go to market a certain month of the year). This exhortation is tangential to our question, since contracting illness is rarely voluntary or subject to one's control.

Therefore, in making a judgment about whether one is excused from Sunday Mass due to illness, one has to consider the potential loss to one's own spiritual or temporal welfare as well as the potential loss to that of others. It seems to me that the case of flu ought to be treated separately from the case of a cold.

Regarding flu, the general advice given to the public by most physicians is minimal activity: bed rest, lots of fluids, avoiding contact with others, etc. Because the flu can bring with it the risk of high fever and possibly pneumonia, it is generally reckoned as a moderately serious illness that should be treated quickly and with caution. For this reason, I think the risk of extending or exacerbating the flu by travel is clearly sufficient reason enough to confine most people to home, and to excuse them from Mass.

I am assuming, by the way, that someone with the flu is not even considering going to work or travelling to anywhere except to the store to get food or medicine, or to the doctor. Those who work, go to the movies, restaurants, etc. etc., while sick are either real idiots or complete jerks.

Moreover any activity which would likely protract one's convalescence from the flu because of undue exertion is also a reasonable impediment. Therefore, if the exertion of going to Mass is anything more than mild, and one has important things to do that week, there is a good case (=equiprobable) to be made for staying home on this basis alone. Below, I argue more strongly that one ought stay home because of the effect on others.

Note that no manualist ever evaluates the legitimacy of the excusing factor by comparing its "objective" importance with that of the Mass, in absolute terms. Since obviously nothing on earth compares to the Mass, if that were the standard, Catholics would have to crawl to Mass from their deathbeds, quit any number of jobs based on just one Sunday conflict, etc., etc., because no other activity possibly compares as an objectively better use of one's time. But that is not the standard. The standard is whether "any moderately serious loss" would occur, and this includes failure to fulfill other "moderately serious" obligations. Life would be impossible to live if we always did the intrinsically superior things first. Otherwise, we must always prefer prayer to bringing the car to the mechanic, the stations of the cross to eating, etc., almost anything to brushing one's teeth, etc., based on the intrinsic merits of the spiritual over the temporal. So leave aside all such logic in making these decisions, which no manualist ever employs.

A possible exception to the prior consideration of the flu is the case of adolescents, young adults or adults in their prime, whose health is so robust that doing regular daily activities while suffering from the flu does not pose any likely risk of more serious bodily harm. But in these cases, we must also consider the impact upon others, which is decisive in this case, IMHO.

I found it interesting that while all manualists cited moderately serious temporal loss as valid ground for excusing oneself from Mass on a situational basis, only Prümmer cited foreseeable temporal or spiritual loss for one's neighbor as an equally excusing criterion, and he never formalizes it as such as a decision-making principle until the middle of the article. (Although others use this principle implicitly in the case of mothers, nurses, soldiers, etc.) Perhaps the principle is not articulated as such because it can easily mislead one into too broad a "utilitarian" calculus -- one could not possibly reckon the impact of one's attending Mass one Sunday on everybody in the broadest possible terms. Yet love of one's neighbor should equal or exceed love of oneself, so one can understand a broader application of the "moderately serious loss" criterion to foreseeable losses of one's neighbor. Conversely, we might approach the same consideration from the perspective of those basic obligations we owe to one another. Thus, in the case of the seduced coworker, one can reckon the spiritual loss of both parties through the lens of agape and act to avert an immediately foreseeable ruin of chastity, or one can approach the situation through the lens of the basic positive obligation to give good counsel, which we owe to our coworkers. Or, to take another example, it is OK to miss Mass if attending requires breaking off an earnest argument with a pregnant woman who is considering an abortion, because one has an obligation to protect the life of one's neighbor from immediately foreseeable harm.

In the case of the flu, therefore, I think it is very reasonable to conclude that the robust who are not seriously discommoded by their own illness should stay home solely because of the possibility of doing real harm to one's neighbor. The elderly, those with respiratory diseases, expectant mothers, young children and so forth can all be seriously jeopardized by contracting the flu, and the flu is very contagious. Therefore, I think it is easily reasoned from known casuistry to conclude that one ought to excuse oneself based solely on the likely harm done to others by spreading one's flu around. If you had your own private stall in a cathedral balcony away from others, that would be another matter (involving only a consideration of harm to oneself), but for most people who have to enter by the same doors and sit in the same pews, and breathe the same air as the rest, staying at home is not merely permissible, it is morally laudable.

Regarding colds, we can proceed similarly, and more quickly.

Here, the elderly, those with respiratory diseases -- i.e., those otherwise discommoded already by another illness -- have a good (=at least equiprobable) case to make for staying home. For healthy adults, the impact of attending Mass on one's own health is probably slight unless the weather conditions are harsh and one is dizzy or dehydrated and fatigued and therefore worried about fainting or falling on the way, in which case one has a reasonable excuse to stay home and rest. Likewise, if you're concerned about driving and you are going to Mass on your own, stay home. But otherwise, I don't think one has an equiprobable reason to excuse oneself from Mass based on loss to one's own temporal goods. One possible exception follows below.

While the flu must often "take its course," I find that colds can be beaten down quickly if one does absolutely nothing save a strict regiment of good nutrition, medicine and lots of rest for a day or two. "Struggling through" often doubles the duration. (I swear by garlic, Echinacea, vitamin C, zinc, chicken soup with crushed pepper, and vigorous gargling three times a day, with nothing but sleep in between. Kills colds in 2 days, tops, often in just 1 day.) In the case when one has a cold and a serious work obligation later that week that must be done, I think one has an equiprobable case to make for sleeping in on Sunday in order to convalesce, but the work obligation has to be somehow distinctively more important than what one normally does throughout the work week (e.g., an important report is being filed and you are expected to review it, an exam, a major client is visiting, etc.) Otherwise, the probability of the validity of excusing onself based on personal loss is minor, and I think that probabilists are laxists.

The more interesting question, however, is the impact of one's cold on others. Here, the German efficiency freak in me wonders whether anyone seriously considers the loss of time and money created by the office idiot who comes to work sick so he can call in sick when it's nice out to play golf in the summer. Ditto the sick student who comes to class, only to infect four other kids, who in turn infect their roommates, etc. Einstein once said the greatest law of the universe was the law of compound interest. Well, sickness works almost the same way. One of the most annoying thing about colds, IMHO, is that they are totally unnecessary to spread in the vast majority of situations, yet many people seem not to care to take the most basic precautions (standing 5 feet away from others, coughing into a kleenex, etc.) to prevent the transmission of disease. I know this a "personality difference" thing, as some people view colds as "facts of life" -- but others, like me, see them as the involuntary disruption of two whole days' worth of someone's time. If it's rude to be an uninvited guest in someone's house for two days, or to call someone constantly and interrupt them for two days so much so that they can't get anything done, it's just as bad to give someone else a cold; indeed worse, because an uninvited house guest doesn't multiply to occupy the homes of four other people after leaving yours. (/End rant.)

So the question remains: what about the impact on others of going to Mass with a cold?

If the Mass you attend is crowded -- as many Sunday Masses are -- and there is little chance of you being able to sit or stand somewhere without coming in close contact with several other people, I think one has a probable case for staying home. Whether it's equiprobable, I don't know. It might be, based on how you assess the risks of transmission. Read on.

For example, I never thought too much about this until my father developed emphysema and my little daughter was born. When my father gets a common cold, he is always sick for two weeks, loses 10 pounds of weight, and risks pneumonia. When we go to church together, and some sniffling, snuffling person shuffles in behind us, kneeling a foot away from us, and coughing on the backs of our heads, I find it hard to maintain a disposition of charity toward that person. He probably doesn't realize that my old man will be very sick because of his little virus that wearies him for a couple of days. Because he couldn't stay home, my dad loses two weeks of work or personal leave.

Ditto my baby daughter. When she was first born, I brought home a cold from school and, try as I may by confining myself to my tiny office, she got it at a mere two weeks old. Her respiration rate was up in the 60s, at which point the doctor equivocated as to whether she needed to spend a night or two in the hospital for observation because she was clearly having difficulty breathing. Needless to say, I felt horrible, and mom & I were quite anxious for a few days until she got better.

Now the person who passed their cold to me probably thought nothing of it. But just as few people know the friends of their friends (=the marketing concept behind friendster.com), few people envision the loss of health or productivity caused by the schmuck who goes to public places when contagious.

I wager this purely as my private opinion, but I wonder whether there isn't a good case to be made for excusing oneself from Mass whenever one has a cold based on this reason alone? I think it is a probable extrapolation from the concept of loss to the goods of one's neighbor, but as I said, but whether this argument is equiprobable, I don't know. I'm willing to entertain debate if you have read this far, and are still interested.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/08/2005 11:13:00 PM | link

Another American Woman Faces Terri's Fate.

Please suspend your attention to the Vatican rituals for a few minues to read about the next American who may be killed by starvation and dehydration per court order.

Fr. Rob details the similarities to Terri's case and they are chilling.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/08/2005 01:43:00 AM | link

Had a fun dinner with two other Virginia luminaries of St. Blogs parish.

But apparently they draw audiences from as far away as St. Louis!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/08/2005 01:28:00 AM | link

Dominican piety meets photoshop,
and photoshop wins.

Lauren B has a funny tutorial on how to depict your favorite Dominican saint with just a few quick clicks of the photoshop cursor. Still chuckling over here.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/06/2005 01:32:00 PM | link

You scored as Logical/Mathematical. You like to work with numbers and ask questions. You learn best by classifying information, engaging in abstract thinking and looking for common basic principles. People like you include mathematicians, biologists, medical technicians, geologists, engineers, physicists, researchers and other scientists.















The Rogers Indicator of Multiple Intelligences
created with QuizFarm.com

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/04/2005 10:55:00 PM | link

Bi... Bismuth
You scored 60 Mass, 43 Electronegativity, 41 Metal, and 10 Radioactivity!
Ever wonder where the name Pepto-Bismol came from? You. You exist within the gray area between metals and non-metals. Personality-wise you are inflexible in your approach to problems, and you are prone to giving on everything when one thing gets rough... you may give up, but you don't walk away, and eventually you'll try again. You are a social element, but you have the tendency to let entire groups of friends lapse or disintegrate over time only to build them up again later. You might get along pretty well with Mercury or Lead. Of course, you might get along well with something else. You're actually kinda strange... I mean, look at you. Those are some freaky shapes you're forming.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 95% on Mass
You scored higher than 88% on Electroneg
You scored higher than 28% on Metal
You scored higher than 38% on Radioactivity
Link: The Which Chemical Element Am I Test written by effataigus on Ok Cupid

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/04/2005 03:49:00 AM | link

UPDATED: Thank you to Lauren at Cnytr for a discerning look at CardinalRating.com. I can't blog it now, but I am now suspicious of the website.

1) As she notes, there are many articles without good citation of sources -- one could easily provide these in the case of newspaper articles & web-available statements, etc.

2) I scanned a dozen or so collections myself and routinely find sources such as the SSPX Africa.

3) As she puts it: "But the last straw was when I read the intro to the page --'Cardinals are very good at hiding their convictions and adapting to their audiences. Widespread diplomatic talk makes it almost impossible to understand easily what in fact a Cardinal believes and thinks.' That is far too paranoid to be for its own good.

"Hence, since whoever is running the site has no desire to take responsibility for it, or to give credible sources to very ambiguous and non-confirmed and out-of-context 'quotes', I'm very much inclined to dismiss the whole site as misled and paranoia."

I suspend judgment on how misleading the site is, but it is definitely enough to give me pause and raise an eyebrow (maybe both) until I've had a chance to scout around more, which I won't this week.

So I leave you cum grano salis on this one.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/04/2005 03:31:00 AM | link

What does Terri's death mean for the US? The Dutch provide an answer, as usual.

Amsterdam -- that festering abscess of Europe, home to whores, sex museums, euthanasia, legalized drugs, Baruch Spinoza and other monstrosities -- now brings us this bit of news:

The Dutch government, the first to legalize euthanasia for some terminally ill people, will tackle an even thornier ethical dilemma: what to do when doctors say it is best to end the lives of infants, the mentally handicapped or the demented.

More excerpts:

If Ross approves, doctors acting with the families' permission would not be punished for administering lethal sedatives to "people with no free will," in cases that pass review.

Under current law, euthanasia is restricted to terminal patients suffering unbearable pain with no hope of improvement, and who request to die when they are of sound mind. Each case is reviewed by a panel of medical experts.

Ah yes, the experts, who will make everything alright. O Lion of Muenster, inspire your brethren to condemn this madness as forcefully as you did!

The article continues:

The new proposal calls for a similar panel for patients who cannot express themselves, with the addition of a judge or court official, giving a legal veneer to a practice that technically would remain illegal.

This is always how it works with liberals: Disregard the law, start doing it FIRST, then force some kind of legal recognition of "what's already happening in back alleys" for the sake of "regularity" and "instituting safe standards." Whether it's abortion, sodomy-as-marriage, drug use, it all starts with disobedience, persistence, and an eventual concession by weak conservatives.

Hat tip Fiat Mihi, who asks frankly, Why not just rebuild Tiergartenstrasse 4?. Surely experts can make sure we only kill "Life Unworthy of Life."

The gays in their queer enthusiasm will not be outdone in newsworthiness, however:

A supporter of same-sex marriage is using the human rights process to take away Bishop Frederick Henry's right to freedom of religion and free speech.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/04/2005 02:36:00 AM | link

Veni, Creator Spiritus.

The Ombrellino,
which replaces the papal tiara and keys as
the symbol of supreme authority in the Church
during the Sede Vacante.

Generic arms for the Cardinal Camerlengo,
chief administrator of the Vatican during the
Sede Vacante.

(The armorial achievement of His Eminence
Eduardo Cardinal Martínez Somalo
would be placed in the blank escutcheon.)

For more details on the ritual of the forthcoming novemdiales, the nine days of prayer for the deceased Pope, see James-Charles Noonan's excellent The Church Visible.

There is also this WikiPedia article and another from the Daughters of St. Paul.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/02/2005 05:40:00 AM | link

"Totus Tuus."

May you return to Him
who formed you from the dust of the earth.
May holy Mary, the angels, and all the saints
come to meet you as you go forth from this life.
May Christ, who was crucified for you,
bring you freedom and peace.
May Christ, who died for you,
admit you into His garden of paradise.
May Christ, the true Shepherd,
acknowledge you as one of His flock.
May he forgive all your sins
and set you among those He has chosen.
May you see your Redeemer face to face
and enjoy the vision of God forever.

Saints of God, come to his aid!
Come to meet him, angels of the Lord!

May Christ, who called you, take you to Himself;
May angels lead you to Abraham's side.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine upon him.


(Traditional prayer for the commmendation of the dying.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/01/2005 10:07:00 PM | link

The Holy Father has received extreme unction Thursday evening, and the Vatican reports that he has received viaticum after what appears to be a heart attack.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the 84-year-old Pope had been given the "Holy Viaticum" -- communion reserved for those close to death -- and had decided himself not to go to hospital for treatment.

PLEASE PRAY for the Holy Father, as the Vatican would not have said this if he was not close to death. He who carried the weight of the universal Church for nearly three decades is about to meet the Supreme Judge. No matter how saintly the person who bears that office, that's a responsibility beyond what any of us can fathom, and so he certainly needs our prayers! STOP what you're doing, and pray for the Pope in his final hours.

See Zorak on the emergent media style of reporting widespread "Catholic fears" about the Pope's death. In a nutshell: "They are behaving like the Catholic Church is some evangelical church down the road -- when the pastor dies, nobody knows what will become of it. What will happen? As they have done 263 times before, they will elect another Pope."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/01/2005 01:28:00 AM | link

Former DC school official faces terrorism charges.

Clinton flunky Sandy Berger to plead guilty on documents charge, i.e., a cover-up for the Clinton administration.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/01/2005 12:28:00 AM | link


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

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