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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Further analysis on the Boy scout jamboree from hell.

A fun article on Pietrasanta for all you Italiophiles.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/30/2005 07:19:00 PM | link

Update your orrery...

Astronomers discover tenth planet.

The new one, larger than Pluto, also orbits at an angle to the orbital plane of the first eight. Will this be used as evidence for the hypothesis that the first eight planets are debris from solar system formation, but Pluto (and the new one) are solar "captures"?

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/30/2005 02:09:00 AM | link

Few things are stupider than spectator sports fanaticism. But there are worse male vices. Combine them, and you have lunacy: Berlin readies giant brothel for 2006 World Cup. Might as well revert to doing it Sparta-style and insist that the girls take gym naked and also lounge about nude near the theatre in case the play gets boring.

The German laws are pretty bad, but Americans take note that the legalizing factor seems to be public health interest, the same card they'll play here to sidle the moral issue.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/30/2005 01:56:00 AM | link

Sorry I haven't had the time to blog disquisitions lately. The new baby and the dissertation have swallowed up every last moment of my time, and that of my wife.

But those who know me may have heard my spiel on how the unchastity of straight men is to blame for the subsequent public acceptance of the perversions of feminism and homosexuality. Male unchastity preceded, and enabled, the legitimation of these initially niche vices. Eve tells me it is a thesis that has already been forwarded several times by various contemporary authors.

So you can imagine my delight when I happen across this OT verse and wonder how many times I have passed over it without even thinking, even though it is a catechetical gem for our times:

Hosea 4:14:
"I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot,
nor your brides when they commit adultery;
for the men themselves go aside with harlots,
and sacrifice with cult prostitutes,
and a people without understanding shall come to ruin."

That pretty much sums up a good chunk of today's social ills. Throw in some Amos on the neglect of the poor, and you've got most bases covered.

In the prophetic movement we see, in so many ways, a development which will be fulfilled in our Lord's own teaching about marriage and prohibition of divorce, particularly the mutual, equal obligations of fidelity of spouses to each other. Yes, I know the context is ritual prostitution, but I think the point still stands. If this was a disquisition, I'd explain. But it's not.

I also particularly enjoyed, a few weeks ago, talking to a well-known Jesuit OT commentator whom you've probably seen on TV after he delivered a talk in which he made a fleeting comparison between the ritual prostitution of Hosea's day and the sluttiness that pervades modern college campuses. The audience's response was a bit taken aback, but many seemed receptive to this throw-away one-liner. I couldn't help feeling buoyed up after that, since I had once opened an OT lecture on Hosea with the same comparison, and saw a mixture of shock and surprise on my students' faces, like I had just jumped off the deep end. Admittedly, some of these pious souls may not have had an exact idea of what collegiate debauchery looks like; but I thought I'd at least get a harrumph out of some of theme. Instead, crickets. So next time, I'll cite the eminent Jesuit commentator instead and see what happens.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/28/2005 03:30:00 AM | link

Nice Italian site with the works of St. Augustine. How they pried those volumes of the Patrologia Latina out of the hands of Chadwyck-Healey, I don't know.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/28/2005 03:29:00 AM | link

Say a prayer for those at the Boy Scout Jamboree from hell. Four people were killed in a nasty tangle with power lines on the first day, then today the scouts from colder climes are dropping from the heat waiting to see Bush.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/28/2005 03:20:00 AM | link

The Deep Web: Surfacing Hidden Value

Also, Marketing$oft announces latest processor-bogging, glitzy Longhorn / Vista successor to XP.

XP Pro is the only thing for which I would leave Win98. Half the Marketing$oft home-user OS debuts have been utterly unworth it, IMHO. For example, consider the key selling points in the article:

Among the key features of Vista as it currently stands are: security enhancements,

With hundreds of millions of dollars spent on development every year, security is a pre-requisite, not a feature. Unless they are talking about idiot-proofing the computer. In which case, what needs to change is that anyone who operates a computer must know the basics of how it connects to the internet and how it works internally. If I ran the world, owning a car and owning a computer both would have much higher entrance costs in terms of DIY-knowledge, or else you can expect to be taken advantage of and be surrounded -- in cyberspace or on the road -- by dysfunction.

a new searching mechanism

For idiots who can't take the time to save their files in logical places? I mean really -- who needs anything more than basic "Start --> Find"? Findfast is pretty much useless -- who wants the damn thing constantly indexing when I can search three drives totalling 160 GB in 30 secs without caching, 5 seconds thereafter once the file tables are cached in the first search.

lots of new laptop features

To bung up the already slower platform? I'm amazed. My wife's computer is the fastest in the house in terms of processor -- at 2 GHz, with .5 GB of RAM -- and it runs basic tasks on XP slower than any of the Win98 machines that I've taken the time to strip of useless apps and fine tune.

parental controls and better home networking

Might be worth something. MS networking has already lurked in that grey area between trying to make it easy for you and telling just too little information to make it a pain in the ass to reconstruct what's going on at the basic networking level. If it wasn't for the DOS prompt, I'd have brick marks on my forehead just from my own home networking.

There will also be visual changes, thanks to Avalon, ranging from shiny translucent windows to icons that are tiny representations of a document itself.

Barfola. Completely useless. A net negative because it devours processing power. Cf. ad infra.

On the business side, Microsoft said Vista will be easier for businesses to deploy on multiple PCs and will also save costs by reducing the number of times computers will have to be rebooted.

This is a steaming hot pile of marketing! (1) That's not a feature, that's an expectation called stability! Translation: Windows Vista, now tying up 30% less of your IT department by working more like it should. Only MS could tout this as a feature, rather than cringe from embarassment. (2) Easy to deploy on multiple PCs? = Norton Ghost.

Among the other features Microsoft has publicly confirmed are: broad IPv6 support,

Good good. Will be needed soon enough.

improved client-side caching of data stored on a server

Also helpful.

automatic hard drive optimization and a secure boot-up process that helps prevent someone from gaining access to your data if your PC is lost or stolen

Depends on how it's implemented.

Now here's the kicker:

Microsoft Allchin said in an April interview that he expects Vista will need about 512MB of memory and "today's level" of processor. The ability to display all the fancy new graphics will depend on what type of graphics card one has. On some older machines, the graphics may look similar to today's Windows.

This means: if you want the new OS to run sluggishly you need at least a 2 GHz proc and 0.5 GB RAM with a vid card you can fry an egg on. If you want a swift OS that gets you right to your apps and data without lag, can you imagine what you need? Maybe dual-core 4.0+ GHz with 2 GB of RAM and probably a few Gig of HDD space for the install? Bloat, bloat, bloat.

The point of an OS is to do its job and get out of the way. It's supposed to be an environment for programs, not a phantasmagorica machine that sucks up gobs of processing power just for GUI graphics.

How much will it cost? Pricing, too, is yet to be decided.

You can bet your bippy an upgrade alone will top $100/machine, and with the new registration schemes that require 1 reg/machine, that means for my household alone, it would cost +$500 if all machines qualified for an upgrade. But of course you might want to install from scratch on these same machines, so I'll just mail a kidney to MS to try out their latest baby and see if it's as useless as Win ME.

As soon as my life affords me something like a week's vacation -- which I haven't had since I got married 6 years ago, and which probably won't happen for years to come -- I'm seriously interested in migrating the main comps over to *nix. But the transition cost is too high right now timewise. So I remain ueberconservative in switching OSes, with the result that I still run Win98SE and it works great with some discipline and tweaking. Going on 7 years with this install!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/25/2005 10:40:00 PM | link

From the FSSP newsletter:

They've opened apostolates in three new dioceses: Harrisburg, PA; Lexington, KY, and Phoenix, AZ.

Bishops Kevin Rhoades, Ronald Gainer and Thomas Olmstead have joined the growing ranks of bishops who have (in the words of the newsletter): "fulfilled the request of our Pope of happy memory, Pope John Paul II. In his motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, he asked all bishops to grant "a wide and generous use of the Mass and sacraments according to the books of 1962. We applaud and thank all the bishops who have graciously and obediently granted his request for what he referred to as the 'rightful aspirations' of the Catholic faithful who are attached to the liturgical and disciplinary forms of our Latin tradition".

I've been hearing really good things about Olmstead. Let's pray for more active and pious bishops. Let's also pray for those bishops whose dioceses have yet to permit a single parish to use the Tridentine rite, like it's some dirty secret of pre-conciliar liturgy.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/23/2005 01:29:00 PM | link

Making a bold claim for both the No Sh-t Sherlock Award and the We Told Ya So award in one fell swoop, Tom Monaghan unveils a more modest chapel plan for Ave Maria, saying about the former design: "If we were to spend that kind of money on a church, we wouldn't have had much of a university."

If sound travelled in the blogosphere, I'd cover my ears for the deafing collective roar of "Duh!!!"

The funky shape of the exterior facade is still present but will now be executed in "stone facade" which looks much better. (View revised plans here.)

Monaghan apparently hasn't learned to outsource good taste and remains obsessed with the ugly, ugly, ugly Thorncrown chapel which is DECONSTRUCTION IN GLASS. Repeat: UGLY! Thankfully the effect of that model on the new plans has been somewhat minimized.

The interior attempts a fusion of gothic and modern design, and, on the whole, seems reasonably beautiful, especially now that it is made of stone:

View of revised sanctuary

I'm hoping the side pews are for priests in choir and not the congregation. Too bad it doesn't have a high altar back there. Am I the only one who thinks that attempts at conservative design like this still have a (perhaps unconscious) hole where a towering high altar with reredos should be? Or am I just projecting my own desires onto the architecture? I assume the tabernacle is located within the negative space behind the celebrant, which is good.

New Chartres, it ain't; but at least it's not the Towering Glass Babel Momument to Hurricanes, Windex, Bad Taste and Obstinacy. (TGBMHWBTO for short.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/23/2005 12:48:00 AM | link

While looking for some religious art online, I came across this image which resides at the Hermitage:

Don't worry, it's not "Christa." It's St. Julia of Carthage, a Carthaginian noblewoman who was conquered and sold into slavery. She resisted the paganism of her new husband and master only to be captured by an emperor for her beauty and then to die rather than apostasize at his command. The romantic depiction above by Gabriel Cornelius von Max certainly eliminates all trace of her hair being torn out of her head and the crucifixion is practically docetic. Nonetheless, few depictions do this martyrdom justice. All are mild. Like many early martyrs, she makes the life of Joan of Arc look cushy.

I mention it especially so that those who generally dislike the name Julia because of its predominantly pagan namesakes and the flaky Mother Julian of Norwich can have a worthy patroness to invoke.

More noteworthy art at:

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/22/2005 02:10:00 PM | link

Panda fodder

Readers have been sending me a lot of panda information after the renewed rant about our nation's costly pet.

Check this out: In May, China offered Taiwan two giant pandas as a "gesture of unity." Yes, that would be the same Taiwan they keep targeting with more and more missiles. Taiwan's ruling party has called the gift "a Trojan horse." If the Taiwanese can see through the panda-diplomacy boloney, why can't we?

A short history of animated shitsack diplomacy.

Wild pandas are apparently somewhat livelier than the caged ones. "[T]he wandering panda was suffering from liver and kidney disease..." PETA, time to do your thing.

Pandas get broadband. If you need broadband (and your own brand of porno) for your species to survive, it's time to join the Dodo bird.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/19/2005 09:36:00 PM | link

Interesting article on how the term "Real Presence" is exploited and the origins of the term.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/18/2005 03:08:00 PM | link

Susan Torres' little baby has reached the 25-week mark, by all tests still healthy, and now, at border of likely viability. Thanks be to God!

Looks like they are going to wait for another week or more before delivering, since every day gives the baby a chance to grow stronger. I assume the sonograms are performed every two days to monitor for an invasion of the cancer over the placenta.

The Torres family still needs your financial help, as well as your prayers. Jason Torres is just a few notches under Job in my book.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/18/2005 01:19:00 AM | link

Lingulaca is a new blog by a pre-seminary candidate in the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Is St. Louis making its bid for the diocese with the largest number of impressive new orders?

Abp. Burke with Institute ordinands

A very welcome addition to the blogosphere!

Mt 9:38: "Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/15/2005 02:02:00 AM | link

At a recent class reunion, I met an old acquaintance I hadn't seen in years. Now, I've lived a pretty demur life since my first stint in grad school which ended in '97. This guy, on the other hand, had some amazing stories to tell -- including how he was stabbed 13 times by two muggers walking home one night in downtown Chicago, fended off his attackers, and survived. For him, it was a wake-up call to get his life in better order.

He's got a new invention which is useful to anyone who uses syringes at home or who works in medicine and wants to greatly reduce the risk of needle sticks. It's called The Disintegrator.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/15/2005 01:56:00 AM | link

So I turn on the TV for some news -- in this case, it happened to be an MSNBC news spot. I see Mo Rocca and some purely-for-window-dressing, inarticulate, perky-cutesy newscasterette discussing -- of all things!! -- Mariah Carey's recent insistence that Glitter was intentionally treated with undue severity by film critics in order to distract America from 9/11, and whether Glitter was actually "a film ahead of its time." This verbal diarrhea went on for five minutes. WTH?

Can there be any doubt that TV news is a DEAD MEDIUM?

What's next? Keith Olbermann with a rabid defense of the overlooked merits of Kazaam?

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/15/2005 01:03:00 AM | link

Reader JS writes this meditation on our panda curse:

As an American (Ruth Harkness) 'discovered' the panda in 1936 and brought one out of the wild, I think you're paying some sort of national discovery debt in relation to China, where one billion people and a soccer-ball bear can apparently co-exist without confirming one another's presence for thousands of years.. Just pray that an American doesn't find a Yeti somewhere in Tibet or China -- I bet a baby Yeti would fetch China $100 million from the U.S.

Perhaps someday the Chinese will be as keen to let us pay them to expatriate their babies, who are dying in vastly greater numbers than the panda.

Someone else meanwhile made this creative flash enhancement of the Juice Pigs' anthem which should be a blogtone for this blog. Courtesy The Cranky Prof.

On other fronts, the corporate world inculturates an American icon. Somehow, it lacks the aura of flourescent paint on black velvet.

Need an RPG-proof bus straight out of Mad Max?

I also discovered this week that a classmate has reaped fame and fortune by inventing "The Ashhole" -- a pretty clever solution to a commonly-encounted problem.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/13/2005 01:24:00 AM | link

Someone just got ENGAGED to a great guy. Why not make her day and send her an e-mail: thechevalierturn(at)gmail(dot)com.

Does that mean the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem have their first nuptial Mass booking?

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/11/2005 06:53:00 PM | link

Living Idol to Chinese Communism Spawns

"Their cub will be turned over to China after it reaches age 2, per the loan agreement, the zoo said. Following tradition, Chinese officials probably will name the cub after it reaches 100 days old."

They probably will name it something like: "Please give us $10 million more dollars for this one while we torture our own people and persecute the Catholic Church."

But what's all that in comparsion to:

"By then the cub will probably weigh 30 pounds and be covered with fluffy fur, crawling and exploring at "that very, very cute stage," Murray said."

It's cute! It's so cute! Squee! I'm an American. My brain is shutting down.... Must pay money and coo over the little soccer-ball bear.

(For an older rant)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/09/2005 02:00:00 PM | link

I must share this kind letter:

"I'm a rare visitor to your blog, but I must tell you it literally changed my life! In May, 2004 I happened to read your blog and noticed the adopt a dog corner, featuring a particularly unremarkable dog by the name of Taz. When I read it I jokingly told my teenage daughter "Hey ----, I just found your dog". Like Ciaphas I had unwittingly uttered prophesy. The kids became inflamed with the idea of adopting THAT particular dog (nevermind that it lived 3 hours away). Against my better judgement we checked him out--as my husband said, just to get peace in the family--and found a dog infested with fleas, hookworms and stinking to high heaven, but with a very sweet disposition. His name is now "Shep", the best dog we've ever had, turns out, and the love of my 2 year old's life. Thought you might want to know!"

For the record, I think dogs are awesome. Someday, when we don't live in an apartment any more, I'll be able to have one for me, Zorak and the Mini-mantis. Growing up with a dog is fond memory, and I'd like the kids to have that too.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/08/2005 02:29:00 AM | link

"Firstly [sic], we will learn a lot about the Neanderthals. Secondly, we will learn a lot about the uniqueness of human beings. And thirdly, it's simply cool," Rubin said.

He forgot to add: "We can finally create an undefeatable race of tort lawyers."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/06/2005 01:39:00 PM | link

In case you were wondering whether the long-unwed Sovereign Prince of Monaco was unwed because he's gay, he's not. Unfortunately, the bastard doesn't solve Monaco's need for an heir, although they apparently revised the constitution to provide an alternative should no direct primogeniture ensue.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/06/2005 01:32:00 PM | link

How did she know?

I spent a good afternoon with LAH, JRB and LHO, and we all went to Vigil Mass together at St. Leo's. The latter two friends are Koch fellows this summer. All three have been Chairman of the Pythagorean Brotherhood. I met the guys first, and then we went in search of LHO at her suite in the Oakwood Apts. Her roommate answered the door.

JRB: "Hi. Is L. there?"

Roommate: "No, she's at a museum." [Pauses. Sizes up the three of us.] "Are you guys all from the [Pythagorean Brotherhood]?"

I am pleasantly surprised. It's been years since I've gotten this response, but it was very common in New Haven for people just "to know" you were a member by your demeanor. This is a Good Thing. I cannot repress my curiosity:

OO: "Yes, all of us. How did you know?"

Roommate: "Maybe it was the tailored shirts..."

After Mass, everybody got to meet the Mini-mantis.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/03/2005 02:49:00 AM | link

Somehow, I've Amassed Paternitas

Zorak has gone to L.A. for five days, which leaves to me the task of caring for the Mini-mantis. The task would have struck fear in my heart if I was doing it solo, but Zorak's folks have come up to help out. The experience of showing them how to care for her has already been encouraging to me as a novice dad. I recommend it to other new fathers.

Generally, whenever the baby needs something, I feel about as competent as a cat trying to use a typewriter compared to mom. But giving "the baby instructions" to the grandparents has shown me that, although I rate a distant second to All-wise, All-discerning (and All-patient!) Mommy, I actually have a large array of very particular knowledge about our little baby girl.

I'm kind of surprised when it comes pouring out of me. "When she squawks like that it means she's tired, but when she goes 'Thhhpt, Thhpt', it means she's bored." Or, "She'll eat three ounces, nap, eat six, then sleep for the night." Or, my favorite: "If you hold her like that, she'll puke on you." So despite my overarching suspicion that I am clueless about the little one, it seems I've picked up a fair amount of working knowledge, hitherto unbeknownst to me.

My assessment of single moms has also changed, for related reasons. I've always thought that women who struggled through with their child-out-of-wedlock were admirable and brave in this abortion-minded age. Ditto women who were divorced with young children. Over the past six months, I've just tripled the level of respect. How do they do it and not go insane?

I suppose this thought redounds to another, broader meditation: I can easily see how the nuclear family in and of itself tends to reduce family size. Having only one set of hands to care for baby is a massive job. Two sets of hands, is livable but hard. How having a grandparent, aunt, cousin, etc. around to help out makes a big boost in terms of restoring sanity to new parents. I'm certain this logic carries forward when adding further children to the mix. although after 2 I'm told economies of scale begin to kick in.

I know there are many other factors influencing small family size -- including the expense of raising children in this culture and the death of the family wage for the married man. But that's my two cents for the night. Baby's sleeping, so I should too.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/01/2005 06:05:00 PM | link


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