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Friday, March 31, 2006

Conscience Claws
Now, a word to Catholics who would follow the dictates of their consciences instead of the dictates of the Vatican.

Congratulations, you're Protestant. Practice your singing, and remember to say 'gambling' when the pollster asks you which sin you hate the most.
I've loved that guote for years, but misplaced it. I'm so glad I found it again.

CNN.com - Living wills are Terri Schiavo's legacy - Mar 30, 2006
Today's the 1st anniversary of the legal murder of Terri Schiavo. May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

But don't rely on a living will. No document can possible accout for every situation you may find yourself in. Get a Durable Power of Attorney instead. This a document that gives someone you trust the power (spouse, friend, child, parent, etc.) the final say in end of life issues in the event you're incapacitated or otherwise unable to make your won decisions.

CNN.com - Virgin Mary tombstones full of drugs - Mar 30, 2006
Federal agents on Thursday said they had broken up a ring of drug smugglers who used tombstones featuring the Virgin Mary to move hundreds of pounds of cocaine into the United States from Mexico.
You think they got the idea from "Lost"?

The Cafeteria Is Closed: Punishment
Take, for example, the spiritual and physical penalties declared by the 4th Century architect of Eastern monasticism, St. Basil of Cesarea (322-379AD), for the cleric or monk caught making sexual advances (kissing) or sexually molesting young boys or men. The convicted offender was to be whipped in public, deprived of his tonsure (head shaven), bound in chains and imprisoned for six months, after which he was to be contained in a separate cell and ordered to undergo severe penances and prayer vigils to expedite his sins under the watchful eye of an elder spiritual brother. His diet was that of water and barley bread - the fodder of animals. Outside his cell, while engaged in manual labor and moving about the monastery, the pederast monk was to be always monitored by two fellow monks to insure that he never again had any contact with young men or boys.
As I commented yesterday, the Catholic Church has a tendency towards feminine virtues, a tendency which I think most would agree grew during the 20th Century. The sexual abuse scandal is one of the fruits of that tendency becoming too dominant. Sending a pedophile to counseling where he works through his issues and then is welcomed back into the fold is not a manly response. A manly response is some people taking the abuser out back, kicking the crap out of him, transferring him to a position away from children, explaining to him that if he's ever seen near a child again he'll believe he got off easy the first time and then telling people he fell down some stairs if they ask why he's bruised and cut up.

Obviously, a more "sensitive" approach than the second one I described above is called for, but that approach would likely have been more effective than what we tried.

God on the Sleeve - Part Duex
I got the following email, which I assume to be in reference to my post linked above (I'm keeping the author anonymous, since they respond directly in a comment):
I think the devil works overtimes on people who try to be holy.
The devil doesn't offer the world as a temptation.
The devil slips in a temptation that looks like a piece of hair. A temptation that seems harmless and might even seem to be good. And the devil does it again, and again. and again until that hair is wrapped so well, so strong, that it could hold up the Golden Gate Bridge.

That is how a spy lures an honest patriotic citizen.

That is how "the scrounger" got the German guards in "The Great Escape."

That is how the devil disgraces some people who seem so holy.
Now, anything referencing "The Great Escape" is a good comment in my book. But this does bring up a point serious have to deal with: small sins lead to big ones. (Or as Mark Shea puts it: "Sin makes us stupid.")

It can be easy to believe that God won't care if you do some small action. Gossip about coworker, let your eyes linger a little too long on a woman whose clothing is a little too revealing, a small lie, etc. And that might be true; some sins are easily forgivable. The danger comes in when we begin to believe that just because a sin is very small, we can comtinue to commit that sin repeatedly and then wallow in it. Taking the example of woman above: First we look at women we pass on the street. Then we look at women in Maxim-style men's magazines. Then we look at Playboy. Then we move on to hard-core pornography. Then the allure of even that wears off, and we get into kinkier stuff. Studies have shown (too lazy to find a link) that most people who partake of kiddie porn start with "regular" pornography. But pronography is like a drug, you get used to it and you start needing bigger hits to get the same thrill.

So it is with all sin; something may start small, but become large over time if we don't cut it off. We're going to commit the small sins; we can't avoid it, we're human. What we need to do after committing those sins is acknowledge those sins, confess them to God, make our penance for them and then go forward with a firm intent not to commit them again. It can be a lifelong process, but if we keep it up we can overcome these sins with God's help.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wilmington Blue Rocks Professional Baseball - Official Site
So, the Blue Rocks' home opener this year is Friday, April 14th, also known as Good Friday. So I'll be giving up my Opening Day tickets, because that's just not right. (They're at least better than the Reading Phillies who are playing their second game of the year starting at 2:05 on Good Friday. He's on the freakin' Cross at that point. That's even worse.)

So, my dilemma is: is it okay to go to a baseball game on Holy Saturday? He's in the tomb, but He's still dead, so should I be enjoying myself this much? The Trenton Thunder have a day game that day which would be a great way to celebrate the end of the Void (no baseball), but is celebration appropriate on Holy Saturday?

God on the Sleeve
It's just a general rule, of course, but it highlights a phenomenon that I have repeatedly observed: Christians who wear religion on their sleeves seem to be dishonest, irresponsible, and/or goofy.
The really interesting question is: Why does this phenomenon occur?

There are lots of possible answers, and the answer probably varies with the individual.

Many of these "sleeve Christians," for instance, might just be inherently unstable individuals (I'm guessing this is Mr. Studabaker's category). Religion is a "coping mechanism" and they tend to brandish it like a sword — and wear it like armor. Because it is merely a tool rather than an infused virtue, it scarcely helps them when confronted with the real hurdles of life and they end up stumbling.

The sleeve Christian's problem might also result from smugness. There's a tendency among some Christians to assume they are always right because the Lord is on their side. The problem is, this type of thinking makes the Christian only one step removed from being God Himself. As a consequence, it's pretty easy for such a person to accept even his most base emotions, opinions, or reactions as nearly divine and, therefore, correct.

Overall, however, I think the answer to the problem with the sleeve question can be found in these words by G.K. Chesterton: "The holy man always conceals his holiness; that is the one invariable rule." If this is accurate (and Chesterton had an uncanny nose for the truth), a man who reveals his "holiness" logically must be unholy.
Now, this doesn't mean that holiness is supposed to be hidden so it cannot influence others. Holiness, after all, is meant to spread. It's infectious. But like an infection, it spreads unnoticeably.

This isn't surprising. Holiness is the partner of grace, and grace works quietly. At some level it's magical, but it's not the flashy and "in your face" magic of Harry Potter; it's more like the subtle magic of Middle Earth's Gandalf, a magic that only occasionally reveals itself.

Likewise, the holiness that grace induces ought also be subtle: Influencing others quietly and only at times showing its full glory and even then, only if necessary.

Masculine and Feminine in the Great Regathering
The difference is culture, not theology. Evangelical culture is overwhelmingly masculine. Catholic culture is overwhelmingly feminine.
I also once heard Catholicism referred to as "Christianty for Introverts" which might explain why I'm so comfortable with Catholicism. While my parish seems okay on this front, I know many parishes are overly feminine, turning men off. ("Faith sharing" is a phrase that will turn men away. As I once said, "I don't share." "Bible study" is a much better phrase to use if you want men to show up.)

A former pastor once gave this as a reason that Catholics should not ordain women: we're already so feminine in style that women priests could be the tipping point of feminization in the Church that drives many men out. Men need that sense of masculinity and male bonding that male priests provide. It's probably part of the reason why the Knights of Columbus are so successful and popular: It's at least one night a month where you can be around men and be religious at the same time. There's just something very manly about sitting around discussing how to help build and strength and serve the parish with a beer in your hand, like we did the other night.

6abc.com: Phillies DVD Surprise
A Phillies season ticket holder got a real surprise when he opened a promotional item from the team: Cockfighting on DVD.

A fan from Columbus, New Jersey had yet to renew his Phillies season tickets.

In the mail, he received a promotional DVD that was intended to get fans excited about the new season. But instead of commentary from Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, it was an extended video of cock-fighting in Spanish.

When the man from Burlington County called the Phillies, the team said they only had two complaints out of the 4,000 videos that were sent out. The team says it feels bad about the mix-up and is working with the vendor so something like this doesn't happen again.
That's just so freakin' funny.

Link via Baseball Think Factory.

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan
It's the broad public knowledge, or intuition, in America, that we are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically. And if you don't do that, you'll lose it all.

We used to do it. We loved our country with full-throated love, we had no ambivalence. We had pride and appreciation. We were a free country. We communicated our pride and delight in this in a million ways--in our schools, our movies, our popular songs, our newspapers. It was just there, in the air. Immigrants breathed it in. That's how the last great wave of immigrants, the European wave of 1880-1920, was turned into a great wave of Americans.

We are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically now. We are assimilating them culturally. Within a generation their children speak Valley Girl on cell phones. "So I'm like 'no," and he's all 'yeah,' and I'm like, 'In your dreams.' " Whether their parents are from Trinidad, Bosnia, Lebanon or Chile, their children, once Americans, know the same music, the same references, watch the same shows. And to a degree and in a way it will hold them together. But not forever and not in a crunch.

So far we are assimilating our immigrants economically, too. They come here and work. Good.

But we are not communicating love of country. We are not giving them the great legend of our country. We are losing that great legend.

What is the legend, the myth? That God made this a special place. That they're joining something special. That the streets are paved with more than gold--they're paved with the greatest thoughts man ever had, the greatest decisions he ever made, about how to live. We have free thought, free speech, freedom of worship. Look at the literature of the Republic: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist papers. Look at the great rich history, the courage and sacrifice, the house-raisings, the stubbornness. The Puritans, the Indians, the City on a Hill.

The genius cluster--Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, Madison, Franklin, all the rest--that came along at the exact same moment to lead us. And then Washington, a great man in the greatest way, not in unearned gifts well used (i.e., a high IQ followed by high attainment) but in character, in moral nature effortfully developed. How did that happen? How did we get so lucky? (I once asked a great historian if he had thoughts on this, and he nodded. He said he had come to believe it was "providential.")

We fought a war to free slaves. We sent millions of white men to battle and destroyed a portion of our nation to free millions of black men. What kind of nation does this? We went to Europe, fought, died and won, and then taxed ourselves to save our enemies with the Marshall Plan. What kind of nation does this? Soviet communism stalked the world and we were the ones who steeled ourselves and taxed ourselves to stop it. Again: What kind of nation does this?

Only a very great one. Maybe the greatest of all.

Do we teach our immigrants that this is what they're joining? That this is the tradition they will now continue, and uphold?

Do we, today, act as if this is such a special place? No, not always, not even often. American exceptionalism is so yesterday. We don't want to be impolite. We don't want to offend. We don't want to seem narrow. In the age of globalism, honest patriotism seems like a faux pas.
I've made this point a couple of times: it doesn't matter how people get here, but we need to teach them what it means to be an American if our nation is to continue to thrive. It's why illegal immigration is so harmful; they become economically integrated, but not patriotically. Immigrants must be welcome in this country, but we need to make them truly a part of our nation.

This is actually part of a bigger issue: Americans don't know our shared history. What was the intellectual climate that the Constitution was written in? To the extent Americans know, they think it was John Locke (not the guy from Lost), even though Edmund Burke had a far larger impact on our Constitution and most Americans have no idea how he is. It's no wonder our political culture is so fragmented; no care has been taken to make sure we at least start in the same place.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

USCCB - NAB - John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
The more I think about this verse, the more amazing it is.

A sacrifice of one's own life for someone else is a truly great thing. Someone (I completely forget who) once said that any of us might sacrifice our lives for an innocent person, but how many of us would die tosave a guilty person? That's what Jesus did for us. He gave His life so that we might not suffer eternal punishment, despite the fact we are all guilty of many sins and therefore not deserving of salvation. But so great was His love for us that He suffered and died anyway so that we might be able to receive salvation.

But let's look at God the Father's sacrifice, which might have been even greater. My senior year of high school a classmate died in a car accident. We had a Mass for him during school hours that shortened classes that day. Before heading down to it, our history teacher told us to hurry back up after it was over so we could get to work since we had a lot of catching up to do. After Mass ended, we went straight back to the classroom ready to continue with the lesson. Once she arrived, she was crying so much that she couldn't teach. All she said was that we'd understand when we were parents because we'd rather suffer anything that have that happen to our children.

I often think of that when thinking about the Crucifixion. Any parent (I imagine, I have no children myself, but based on the above story and other comments like it) would suffer greatly rather than see any harm come to their children. So what's God is telling us is that He not only loves us enough to die for us Himself, but He loves us so much that He would allow His only Son to be tortured and die in order to save us. Based of my history teacher's comments that may have been an even greater sacrifice.

"War" is an overused rhetorical term all over Washington. It's very much true that many reporters don't consider themselves as "anti-Christian," let alone warring on Christians. But if we rely on their self-perceptions, they also don't see themselves or their friends as "liberal." They are, in many cases, eager to promote a more "inclusive" Christianity, a creed with room for gay bishops and even theologians and pop authors who deny the divinity and resurrection of Jesus.

We can agree that the media are nearly 100 percent liberal on the top social issues of the day, and that reporters are hostile to the political agenda (social conservatism) of Christian conservatives, and are generally over-eager to make them villains with sloppy assumptions that these "fundamentalists" are just like the Islamo-fascists we're fighting. It's also fair to push back at reporters who feel free to use sensationalistic terms in their own precincts. How many times have we heard versions of Republicans waging "war on the poor," or "war on women"?
I think this quote sums up the difference. Republicans are accusing of making war on the poor, when they just have a disagreement about how best to help them. Meanwhile, the media actively belittles Christians and promotes theories that shouldn't pass the laugh test that work to undermine Christianity. They may not believe they are at war with Christians, but it's certainly closer to war than GOP policies on the poor are.

Then again, they don't believe radical Islam is at war with the West, so maybe their dictionaries are wrong from the start.

You know you're a Catholic when...
I put a star next to the ones that are true for me:
You know you're a Catholic when...

1. ...every time you go into your pantry you feel a strange compulsion to cross yourself and say 'bless me father, for I have sinned ...'

2. ...guilt is your best friend, and you feel obligated to share it with others. (True evangelization)

3. ...You genuflect before entering your seat at the theater.

4. ....if you only crave hamburgers and steaks on Fridays during lent and you crave fish every other day in Lent...just never on Fridays.(*)

5. ...if you sneak into Protestant Churches, sprinkle Holy Water, and hide blessed medals.

6. ...you can only recite the Creed when around large groups of people. (*I can't say the Nicene Creed without a crowd, and even then I sometimes slip into the Apostle's Creed.)

7. ...you make the sign of the cross when you pass in front of a church.

8. ...you hear the Angelus bells and begin saying the Angelus to yourself

9. ...everyone in the country hates your guts.

10. ...you have an overwhelming compulsion to say, "And also with you," when Yoda says, "May the Force be with you." (Never happened, but really funny.)

11. ...someone says they're going to KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and you think they are going to bingo at the K of C.

12. ...someone asks you your favorite Madonna song and you say Hail Holy Queen.

13. ...you hide anti-Catholic books in the library and bookstore behind other books on the shelf.

14. ...you have to remember which bottle has the holy water and which bottled has the water for drinking.

15. ...you know how to process, keeping two pews between you and the person in front, keeping lined up with your partner, walking without bobbing or swaying, and you genuflect on graduation day when you get to your seat.

16. ...you know at least 5 sins that can be committed against each of the 10 commandments. (*)

17. ...you make the sign of the cross when you pass a church or hear a fire truck or ambulance siren. (I say the Hail mary.)

18. ...all your children have saint names instead of names chosen from soap opera characters.

19. ...You have a rosary hanging from your dash. (It's in my pocket, but I have one of those ring roasries on my side mirror handle.)

20. ...you have a holy water fountain at your door and a religious picture in every room. (* A Crucifix rather than a picture.)

21. ...your son calls home after being gone and the first thing you ask is have you been attending Mass.

22. ...one of your Crucifixes has five years worth of dried out palms stuck behind it.

23. ...they know you at every Catholic bookstore in the area, and ask you where you've been if you haven't stopped by in a while.

24. ...you measure your life by number of Popes.

25. ...after making the Sign of the Cross at the start of the Rosary, you say "Bless us O Lord and these Thy gifts..."

26. ...you spend the first five minutes of the day untangling your scapular from your Miraculous Medal.

27. ...you have a St. Christopher medal in you car.

28. ...you know more than 15 recipes for preparing tuna fish.

29. ...you refer to other religions as "Non-Catholic".(*)

30. ...you carry prayer cards in your purse or wallet.

31. ...You know a family whose every daughter has Mary, or every son has John Paul either as the first or middle name.

32. ...your coworkers point out that you have something on your face and as they go to wipe it off for you, you duck and scream "No, their my ashes!!"

33. ...you know when Advent and Lent begin and what day is Easter. (*)

And for you Generation X-ers (I'm surprised at how many of these I fit with, too.)

You know you're a Gen X Catholic when...

34. ...one of your earliest memories of Mass involves watching four teenage girls with long, straight hair strumming guitars. (Thank goodness this one isn't true!)

35. ...one of your earliest memories of Mass involves watching four teenage boys with long, straight hair strumming guitars. (Even more thankful...)

36. ...there were more felt banners bearing hippy slogans in your parish church than statues. (Still more...)

37. ...you never understood why the pastor kept rearranging everything and removing things from the church all the time: statues, confessionals, kneelers, etc..

38. ...you wondered why some of the old ladies put doilies on their heads in church. What was that all about? (*)

39. ...you think an historic church is one with kneelers.

40. ...Friday was "hamburger night" at your house.

41. ...you were a girl altar server in the 70's or 80's, and didn't realize that you were breaking the rules.

42. ...growing up, you only knew of one family that used NFP...and they were Presbyterians. (I never hear of NFP until I was an aduly, and I'm not the sort to ask that question now.)

43. ...in all your years of Catholic school, you never had a nun for a teacher. Oh, and ruler? What on earth are you talking about? (*Very true for me.)

44. ...you heard older people talking about a "Baltimore Catechism", but you never actually saw one. (*)

45. ...Seven Cardinal what???

46. ...your Grade 9 religion class included learning the Our Father and the Hail Mary, because most of the kids in class didn't know those two prayers.

47. ...you've heard the words "Benediction" and "Vespers" but aren't really sure what they mean. (* no longer true, but it was just recently I learned.)

48. ...you wonder why some people receive communion on the tongue. (*I understand it now, but don't do it. I don't like people reaching towards my face as a general rule.)

49. ...you think Extreme Unction is a new professional wrestling show on TV (*Had never even heard the term until recently.)

50. ...your overall religious instruction left you with impression the only mortal sin was first degree murder: everything else is venial and therefore irrelevant. (*)
(Source in link above. Link via American Papist.)

"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." —James Madison

"The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is not a problem of physics but of ethics. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil from the spirit of man." —Albert Einstein

"Unionism seldom, if ever, uses such power as it has to insure better work; almost always it devotes a large part of that power to safeguarding bad work." —H.L. Mencken

"Whatever man loves, that is his god. For he carries it in his heart; he goes about with it night and day; he sleeps and wakes with it, be it what it may—wealth or self, pleasure or renown." —Martin Luther

"War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts. Give me a break." —Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia re Gitmo "detainees"

Jay Leno: We are now down to the Final Four. Not college basketball, the number of people who still think President Bush is doing a good job. ... Dick Cheney is so desperate to get his 18% approval rating up that He is now thinking of shooting an IRS agent. ... Scientists believe they may have located the actual Noah's Ark from the Bible in Eastern Turkey. Of course, Noah was the biblical figure said to have built the giant vessel to try and save people and animals from a great flood—or as FEMA would call him, "a showoff."

God's Wings
Forwarded by a friend:
A little something to put things in perspective... An article in National Geographic several years ago provided an interesting picture of God's wings.

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree.

Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had

gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise.

She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies Then the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, so those under the cover of her wings would live.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge." (Psalm 91:4)
No idea if this story is actually true, but the message it conveys certainly is. God will do anything He can to save us, even sending His only Son to die in our place.

Variety.com - Hurwitz takes a hike
Looks like Arrested Development is gone forever.
"The fans have been so ardent in their devotion and in return ... I've given everything I can to the show in order to try to live up to their expectations," ["Arrested Development" creator Mitch] Hurwitz told Daily Variety on Monday in a telephone interview from Gotham. "I finally reached a point where I felt I couldn't continue to deliver that on a weekly basis."

Nonetheless, Hurwitz said he put off making a final decision on his involvement so Showtime and 20th could talk about a possible deal.

"Of course, if there was enough money in it, I would have happily abandoned the fans' need for quality. But as it turns out, there wasn't," he said.
While I'm disappointed in his decision, I enjoy and admire his candor.

Link via Pulp Culture.

Today in Delaware History
1638 A Swedish expedition commanded by Peter Minuit arrived at the foot of what was to become 7th Street in Wilmington on the ships Kalmar Nyckel and Griffin. This was the first permanent settlement of white men in Delaware and the entire Delaware River Valley.

Source: Delaware Public Archives Mailing List

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

CNN.com - Former Secretary of Defense Weinberger dies at 88 - Mar 28, 2006
It's a bad day to be a former Reagan Cabinet member, apparently.
Weinberger, who presided over an unprecedented peacetime military buildup costing more than $1 trillion, began his government career as a cost-cutter.

When he took the defense post in January 1981, Weinberger soon erased the nickname -- "Cap the Knife" -- critics had pinned on him in his penny-pinching days as federal budget director under President Richard Nixon.

Weinberger performed with gusto the task of persuading Congress to spend over $1 trillion on arms in Reagan's first term and billions more after that.

He also steadfastly opposed concessions to Moscow in arms control negotiations advocated by Secretary of State George Shultz and other more moderate members of the Cabinet.

He made himself unpopular with many lawmakers by his unbending, often contentious push for funds for arms and for Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative -- a program, commonly known as "Star Wars," to develop a land- and space-based shield against incoming ballistic missiles.
May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

UPDATE: Some nice stories about "Cap" from The Corner:
Kathryn I wanted to share with you a story about Mr. Weinberger. As a college senior, I wrote my thesis on SDI and its impact on ending the Cold War. On a whim, I figured I'd call Mr. Weinberger to see if he'd be willing to be interviewed for my thesis. I had no expectation that he'd answer my call, much less talk with me. I contacted his office at Forbes and spoke with his secretary. I explained to her what I was doing and she told me that she talk to him and get back to me. 15 minutes later she called back and asked if I had time to talk with him. He then gave me 30 minutes of his time, answering all of my questions and sharing a few stories as well. He could not have been more generous or gracious. I'm writing in hopes that you can in some way share my story with your readers. Too often it seems that we lose perspective on the human side of those serving in government. Here was a former Secretary of Defense willing to take time out of his day to talk to some no name college student he didn't know. I've always been impressed and somewhat awed by this. Anyway, I enjoy reading The Corner, keep up the good work. Best regards, Mike LaFontaine
Kathryn Jean, the Cap Weinberger news ...

... reminded me of the 1999 Baltic cruise, that included Weinberger. We were warned of the high cost of calling long distance from the boat ($7.50/min,) but when we docked at a Danish port, were told there was a phone booth at the dock, with regular international rates.

I looked down at that phone booth, and it had a long line of NRcruisers in front of it...about half way in was Weinberger, waiting as patiently as anyone.

Arn Nelson in CHicago

SI.com - 2006 NCAA Basketball Tournament - Nebraska man one of four to nail Final Four - Monday March 27, 2006 10:11PM
Russell Pleasant has some explaining to do.

Such is life when you're one of four out of 3 million contest entrants to pick all the teams in this year's Final Four: LSU, Florida, UCLA and ... George Mason?

George Mason?

Yep, he called it.

And how 'bout this: The software test engineer wasn't blindfolded, throwing darts or picking out of a hat when he made his selections and put the 11th-seeded Patriots, winners of zero NCAA tournament games before this season, on the last line in the Washington bracket.

He insists there was a method to his March Madness.

Well, sort of.

"I got them confused with George Washington," Pleasant conceded Monday, after he'd been identified as one of the final four in an ESPN.com contest.
We were talking at lunch yesterday and I was saying that the only team I had correct in the Final Four was UCLA. A guy asked me what factors led me to choose them. I looked at him and said, "I dunno. Just a hunch." The truth is, I know nothing about College Basketball. It's why my friends always like me being in their pools. I provide comic relief, either of the "How could you make that pick?" variety, or the "How is this moron doing so well?"

Lyn Nofziger
He died last night.
Franklyn "Lyn" Nofziger, the rumpled and irreverent conservative who served Ronald Reagan as press secretary and political adviser, died of cancer Monday. He was 81.
"I'm not a social friend of the Reagans," he told an interviewer. "That's by their choice and by mine. They don't drink enough."
Some quotes by him listed on The Corner:
I am a Republican because I believe that freedom is more important than government-provided security. Sometimes I wish I were a Democrat because Democrats seem to have more fun. At other times I wish I were a Libertarian because Republicans are too much like Democrats. What I actually am is a right-wing independent who is registered Republican because there isn't any place else to go.

I keep thinking about the liberal effort to canonize Sandra Day O'Connor as one of the Supreme Court greats. What a joke. She was appointed by President Reagan at the urging of Barry Goldwater as a political sop to feminists. She was not a great legal mind and was not one of Reagan’s better appointments, mainly because she was ruled by her emotions rather than by logic or any particular knowledge of the Constitution. The best thing she has done is resign. For this she deserves our praise.
Mark Krikorian writes:
I only met him a couple times, but his contrariness appealed to me (in addition to the fact that he was an immigration restrictionist!). One sign of that was some concoction he drank -- whiskey and milk, if you can believe it. The bartenders didn't know what he was talking about when he asked for it (I forget the name), so he'd order a shot and a glass of milk and mix them. It turned my stomach, but any guy who'd order something like that had to be okay.
May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Monday, March 27, 2006

"The said constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms." —Samuel Adams

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament." —William Burke

"No sooner do we believe that God loves us than there is an impulse to believe that He does so, not because He is Love, but because we are intrinsically lovable. The Pagans obeyed this impulse unabashed; a good man was 'dear to the gods' because he was good. We, being better taught, resort to subterfuge. Far be it from us to think that we have virtues for which God could love us. But then, how magnificently we have repented. As Bunyan says, describing his first and illusory conversation, 'I thought there was no man in England that pleased God better than I'." —C. S. Lewis

"As we spread freedom around the world, I think there is concern, judging from much of what we see going on at home, that we're losing a sense of what the pillars are that hold our own free society together. If we're losing our compass at home, can we really spread the word abroad? This is a subject blacks know well. It's why the marriage issue struck as responsive chord as it did in this community. We know from what we have seen in our own communities that when core traditional values collapse, when the integrity of families collapses, when life becomes cheap, when property has no meaning, there is no freedom." —Star Parker

"In the end, it all comes down to leadership. That is what this country is looking for now. It was leadership here at home that gave us strong American influence abroad and the collapse of imperial Communism. Great nations have responsibilities to lead, and we should always be cautious of those who would lower our profile because they might just wind up lowering our flag." —Ronald Reagan

"'Elitism' doesn't always speak of where you went to school or what caste, as it were, you came from. You can wind up one of the elites simply by rising. Simply by being separated for a certain amount of time from those you seek to lead. People who know most intimately, and through most recent experience, what is happening on the ground, and in the hearts of men, are usually not in the inner councils. They have not fought their way or earned their way in yet. Sometimes they're called in and listened to, at least for a moment, but in the end they tend to be ignored. They're nobodies, after all. This is a problem with government and governing bodies—with the White House, Downing Street, with State Department specialists, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and West Point, too. It is not so much a matter of fault as it is structural. The minute you rise to govern you become another step removed from the lives of those you govern. Which means you become removed from reality." —Peggy Noonan

My Current Reading
The Spirit of the Liturgy by Pope Benedict XVI, written when he was still "merely" Cardinal Ratzinger. It's an interesting book, focusing not so much on the theology of the liturgy nearly as much as how it should be done. Should the priest face east? Should the people? Why do we kneel and when should we do it? Interesting answers to those questions.

I also started De-coding Mary Magdalene: Truth, Legend, And Lies by Amy Welborn, which coveres what we know and what we don't know about Mary Magdalene, which is an especially important question in light of the DaVinci Code's false claims about her. She discusses the Gnostic Gospels and why they're not a reliable source of history or Christian beliefs., where the association of Mary Magdalene with the woman caught in adultery came from and many other interesting questions. By no means, is it a scholarly work; it's meant for a popular audience so is really just an overview and summary of much reseach others have done. It's a book that can be finished in an afternoon, but you can still learn a lot. Definitely recommended.

-- I watched the final episode of "Friends" this weekend on TBS. I'm sure everyone agrees with me, but Rachel can do a lot better than Ross.

-- I got a free sample issue of "The American Enterprise" in this weekend. Some interesting notes from the little of it I've read:
* "A Gallup poll shows there are now more wine drinkers in America than beer drinkers." That greatly disappoints me. Beer's a man's drink; more evidence we're losing our manliness.
* "John Kerry stated that the Bush administration's use of warrantless wiretaps is "a clear violation of the law," and called for a special counsel to investigate the practice. He then declared in the same ABC interview that Democrats are "prepared to eavesdrop wherever and whenever necessary in order to make America safer." Partisanship aside, why does anyone take this guy seriously? According to PollingReport.com, a majority of Americans do not want to see him run for President; that's consistent through 3 polls running back to last April. 49% of Americans would not vote for him if he ran. (The only theoretically potential candidate higher is Al Gore at 60%, which kind of surprises me.) 45% say that under no conditions would they vote for him. And he gets beaten by just about any GOP candidate, fairing best against Condoleeze Rice, but still losing. Why do the media pay attention to him any more? Can't we just let him fade away?

-- Wow, despite my NCAA bracket being blown to bits (George Mason?), I can still win my pool if UCLA wins on Friday. Fortunately, everyone's been messed up this year.

-- But the even more important sports news: 1 week until Opening Day!!!

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