Monday, September 28, 2009

Kicking the tires

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, South Dakota, will speak at the Milwaukee Archdiocese's annual meeting of clergy September 30, 2009. Bishop Cupich has been suggested as a possible choice as our next archbishop and this might be his taking an opportunity to look things over.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dan Brown Does It Again -- Writes the Same Book, That Is

Jeff Baker in the Oregonian reviews The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown
Does this sound familiar?

World-renowned symbologist and all-around cool guy Robert Langdon is summoned to an Imposing Architectural Landmark, where something Really Yucky has been left in a way only he can recognize. You know, as a clue. Langdon snaps into action, and it isn't long before he's uncovered more clues that lead to a Secret Society full of Famous Dead Guys. There's a Super-Duper Secret, and the fate of the universe is at stake, but thank goodness Langdon has help from a Foxy Brainiac, which he needs because he's up against a Major Freak. Langdon and the Foxy Brainiac race through more Imposing Architectural Landmarks, pausing only to lecture each other about symbols and whatnot, and try to win a Race Against Time against the Major Freak. ...
Republished in Review-a-Day, October 24, 2009

P.S. In search of the Hill's Freemasons, by Eamon Javers, Politico

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yesterday's Today's Church

The last meeting of the local chapter of Voice Of The Faithful (VOTF) is September 26, 2009 9:00 a.m. at First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa, featuring [Father] Richard P. McBrien speaking on "The Challenge of Leadership in Today's Church". Ten Dollars (donation) at the door.

The emailed flyer notes that Fr. McBrien has been writing a weekly syndicated column since 1966. For example, in his August 5, 1966 column, titled "Questions Face Church", he wrote on the same topic that
the point of this essay is not to launch an attack on Catholics who are unhappy with the Church of Vatican II. First of all, it would be unfair to assume that all such opposition arises from bad will or obstinacy. More often than not, the theological explanation has been wanting. In some cases, undoubtedly, the explanation has been advanced in a simplistic and polemical manner, thus alienating rather than enlightening the inquirer. The point of this article and, it is to be hoped, of every article in this series, is to enlighten, not to debate, to persuade and not to bludgeon or ridicule.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On Erwin Schroedinger

Get Fuzzy
--Darby Conley, Get Fuzzy, July 10, 2009

Solved at Last: Fundamental Problem of Quantum Physics, by Jon Bashor and Paul Preuss, Berkeley Lab Research News, December 23, 1999

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On Carl Barks

How do you quickly raise a sunken ship full of sheep? The Danish inventor Karl Krøyer came up with a very creative solution: pump buoyant bodies into the ship to achieve sufficient upward lift to bring the ship back to the surface. The solution was so creative he got a patent on it. In a 1949 Donald Duck story, titled The Sunken Yacht a ship is raised by stuffing it full of ping-pong balls. That kind of prior art could kill the patent. But whether the story was actually used by a patent office to refuse the patent (application) remains unclear. --Arnoud Engelfriet, Ius Mentis, The "Donald Duck as prior art" case, 2007

Ping-pong balls can be used to raise a sunken ship.


Even though it took an impractically large number of ping-pong balls (27,000), when enough of them were piped into the Mythtanic II, the boat rose to the surface.
--MythBusters,, Episode 21: Ping-Pong Rescue, Air Date: November 3, 2004

Our Redemption Draws Near

My parish's Associate Pastor, Father Mark Brandl, has started blogging. His first post gives its Purpose.
I will post about once a week and the content of this site will be information that every confirmed Catholic should know. My goal is to help you deepen your relationship and understanding with God so that you can answer the tough questions in life when they arise. The more one knows about the way God works in the world, the easier it is to handle life's problems.

Monday, September 21, 2009

On Ivan Pavlov

Get Fuzzy
--Darby Conley, Get Fuzzy, July 8, 2009

Get Fuzzy
--Darby Conley, Get Fuzzy, July 9, 2009

2009 Report on the Archdiocesan Response to Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy

Our Archdiocese of Milwaukee's website has a sidebar link to the 2009 Accountability Statement page. That page lists all the prior Statements and, finally, has a link to the 2009 "Annual Update to the Faithful of Southeastern Wisconsin Regarding the Archdiocesan Response to Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy".

One item on page 3 summarizes the "Independent Clergy Sexual Abuse Mediation System". It's called "independent" even though our Archdiocese set it up unilaterally. I've raised this point before but this time, rather than just criticize, thought I'd suggest a better euphemism. It only took a few seconds to come up with "dedicated". Our Archdiocese could have referred to this as a "Dedicated Clergy Sexual Abuse Mediation System". This could have been sold on the basis that clergy sexual abuse cases needed and deserved a specialized system. It would still be misleading, but at least would have been more plausible.

Another item on page 3 is the "Distribution of Names and Status Updates of Priests".
In July 2004, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee published and distributed the names of diocesan priests of the archdiocese who have been (or would be if they were still alive) restricted from all priestly ministry, and may not celebrate the sacraments publicly, or present themselves as priests in any way because of substantiated reports of sexual abuse of a minor.
The list, as updated, only lists the priests names. It does not include where they had been assigned, and when, information that is potentially helpful and difficult for anyone else to reconstruct.

One item on page 4 is "Priests who are Members of Religious Orders". It begins by noting that a religious order priest needs the local bishop's permission to publicly minister in a diocese. This implies, though it does not say explicitly, that if an issue is sufficiently grave and unresolved, a bishop could require a priest or even the entire order to discontinue public ministry in his diocese. What the Report does go on to say is
Clergy, diocesan and religious, have an obligation of obedience to the pope and their own Ordinary. For the diocesan priest, the Ordinary is the diocesan bishop; for the religious order priest, the Ordinary is their major superior. Thus, religious order priests are the responsibility of the religious orders.
This does not say that religious order priests are the sole responsibility of the religious orders, but seems phrased to leave that impression.

On page 5 we read of "Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits". There are cases alleging our Archdiocese committed fraud by reassigning priests known to have sexually abused children without notifying parishioners at the new assignment. Additionally, it appears, there are ten "personal injury", presumably abuse, cases pending, including two in Delaware. This item concludes "These pending lawsuits will have both a financial and pastoral impact on the archdiocese."

Which brings us, on page 6, to "Financial Impact of Clergy Sexual Abuse".
During the fiscal year from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009, the net financial impact of sexual abuse cases involving a diocesan clergy member and a minor was $1,562,100... . ...This includes $788,763 for therapy-related and victims/survivors assistance costs, including mediation agreements; ... and $734,986 for general attorney fees and other expenses.
Half for victims (and their lawyers), half for our Archdiocese's lawyers; still win-win! Bottom line:
Through June 30, 2009, the overall financial impact to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee of the clergy sexual abuse issue involving a diocesan priest and a minor was $28,133,921.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Orestes Brownson

He [Dr. Patrick Carey] has authored numerous studies on American Catholic thought and its leading thinkers, including a seven-volume critical edition of the earliest scattered writings of Orestes Brownson. “A very interesting creature,” he says of Brownson, “but also the strongest intellectual in 19th-century Catholic American history.” In 2004, his biography of Brownson won a first-place Catholic Press Award. --Marquette magazine, Catholicism’s influence, Spring 2009

Is it peculiarly tragic or perhaps not-so-peculiarly tragic that Christopher Hitchens ends up an apologist for, among others, Karl Rove, latter-day practitioner of the peculiarly Southern version of smash-and-trash politics honed by his mentor Lee Atwater and other such worthies? I'm not sure if Tom Watson or Orestes Brownson is the best precursor for the arc. --Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo 07.18.05 -- 5:54PM

What would Orestes Brownson do? interview by Joshua Glenn of Patrick W. Carey, Boston Globe, December 26, 2004

Why Orestes Brownson believed the U.S. needed the Church by Peter Lawler, Zenit, November 7, 2003

In the legal realm, Philip Hamburger’s massive and important study Separation of Church and State traces the roots of the Nativist critique of Catholicism in establishing the strict separationist view in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The adoption of this secularizing interpretation of the First Amendment by the overwhelming majority of contemporary legal scholars and judges has rendered most American Catholics today hostile to the view of religion advocated by Brownson—and, indeed, completely unaware that there might be a legitimate alternative to the prevailing American secularism. --Jude P. Dougherty, Orestes Brownson on Catholicism and Republicanism, Modern Age, Fall 2003

Orestes Brownson and the Truth About America by Peter Augustine Lawler, First Things, December 2002

Political Atheism: Dred Scott, Roger Brooke Taney, and Orestes Brownson, by Dr. Patrick Carey, The Catholic Historical Review, April, 2002 (via Joseph A. Komonchak at dotCommonweal)

Shaping Catholic Education, by Mark Sullivan: In new book, SOE's Power examines Orestes Brownson's impact on the Church in 19th century America, Boston College Chronicle, April 24, 1997

Brownson's Quest for Social Justice, by Edward Day, C.SS.R., The American Ecclesiastical Review, August 1954, at EWTN

That Sturdy but Erratic Reformer, Orestes Brownson, by Henry Steele Commager; review of Orestes A. Brownson, A Pilgrim's Progress, by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The New York Times, April 23, 1939

The Dial, from Magazines, Annuals, and Gift-books, 1783–1850, in Vol. XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I, The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21)

Monday, September 14, 2009

How old is Glenn Reynolds, anyway?

The New York Times October 27, 1918 unsigned review of The Education of Henry Adams concludes
Suffice it again to recommend the public to read the book as a whole!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Reading Rat September 13, 2009

New and updated posts on my recommended reading...

the classic of English localism is always said to be Rural Rides: William Cobbett’s a 1830 set of observations of England, praised by Chesterton, in particular. --Joseph Bottum, Rural Rides, First Thoughts, June 29, 2009, 9:06 AM [See recommended reading by William Cobbett]

Although penned by an Englishman, it became the chief artistic voice for the Americans’ republicanism. Washington saw Cato many times and often quoted from it. He also had it staged for dispirited troops at Valley Forge, and, when his officers threatened mutiny in 1783, he shamed them, as only he could, by reciting apt lines from the play. The play celebrates public‐spiritedness in the service of war, and so one can understand why it would resonate with Americans during the Revolution. --John M. Kang, Manliness and the Constitution, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Winter, 2009 [See recommended reading by Joseph Addison]

Updates to my recommended reading ... added to posts on these authors:

Joseph A. Ranney on Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A house divided but not against itself

From Russ Douthat's review of The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution, 1980-1989, by Steven F. Hayward, in The New York Times last Sunday.
Ideological to a fault, Reagan-era conservatives failed to see that “the most successful presidencies tend to be those that have factional disagreements,” rather than those whose inner circles march in perfect lockstep. They often “missed the signals of Soviet vulnerability” that presaged Communism’s peaceful fall. In both cases, Reagan knew better, and the country was better off because he did.

See Cocoon.

Hark! The Herald (4.0)

The Milwaukee Catholic Herald recently launched a new (fourth,by my count) version of its website.

You can see the last previous version via the new version's "Archives" link. That previous version's sidebar Past Issues link takes you to a message suggesting you email a request for an article. At one time, it had a list of links to past issues one could browse, but that wasn't maintained after some earlier site changes, and does not appear to be linked from the current site.

The version before that I thought the best design the Herald has used.

In case you're wondering, here's the first version.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Charging for news-nonpapers

The Economist reported on American newspapers efforts to make online editions profitable, or limit them to again make print editions profitable.
It will not be easy. For ten years readers have been enjoying free news online, and the BBC, public-radio stations and commercial television-news outfits such as CNN will continue to supply it.

Why, you might think newspapers would ask editorially, were taxes used to fund a "public option" for news.

Neither a shepherd nor a veterinarian be

Camille Paglia describes herself as, among other things, a "refugee from the authoritarian Roman Catholic church of my youth".

Yet she has written that,
Elements of New Age sensibility seem to have entered American Catholicism, which in the 1950s was already moving away from its déclassé ethnic roots and Protestantizing itself through a startling drabness of church architecture and décor. The folk songs, Protestant hymns, affable sermons, and literal hand-holding in today's suburban Catholic churches illustrate mellow New Age principles of inclusion and harmony and reinforce the casualness of the vernacular Mass and the slackness of unpoetic contemporary translations of Scripture. Priests, meanwhile, are now being trained to be social workers; theology and learning per se are no longer as heavily emphasized.
That sounds like a different kind of refugee.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Honesty as a policy choice

From Robert B. Reich's review of The Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office, by David Blumenthal and James A. Morone, in The New York Times last Sunday.
Blumenthal and Morone’s most provocative finding is that presidents who have been most successful in moving the country toward universal health coverage have disregarded or overruled their economic advisers. [President Lyndon] Johnson rejected his advisers’ estimates and intentionally lowballed the cost. “I’ll spend the goddamn money.” An honest economic forecast would most likely have sunk Medicare.

How's that working out?
It’s not so much that presidential economic advisers have been wrong--in fact, Medicare is well on its way to bankrupting the nation--

A mark against it, you, I, and presidential economic advisers might think.
...but that they are typically in the business of thinking small and trying to minimize risk, while the herculean task of expanding health coverage entails great vision and large risk.

In this case the vision of universal health coverage and the risk, approximately 100% it appears, of it taking a form the cost of which will bankrupt the nation.

In case of an accident, please call a priest's voicemail

At my parish we are told that we should not expect a priest to be available when a parishioner is terminally ill or dying. Yet The New York Times reported regarding Senator Edward Kennedy that
the priest at the Kennedys’ parish on the Cape, made regular visits to the Kennedy home this summer and held a private family Mass in the living room every Sunday.
and when
...the senator’s condition took a turn ... a priest ... was called to his bedside.
How does the Diocese of Fall River manage to do this for everybody?

(via Terry Mattingly at Get Religion)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Look out for the union label

For Labor Day, the First Monday Q&A in the the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Business Section is an interview by Joel Dresang of Greg Junemann, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.
Q. How do you overcome opposition to and apathy toward the labor movement?

A. I think we just need to use the media, send out public messages and say, "Look, these aren't just a bunch of mob-run goons who are trying to line their own pockets." ...

"Mob-run goons lining their own pockets, but so much more." Sounds like a message that would make people less apathetic about unions, but not less opposed. Same for Mr. Junemann's concluding concession.
It doesn't mean suck the life out of the employer. It doesn't mean trying to roadblock productivity or efficiency. That's nonsense, because we've seen the results. When that sort of thing happens, plants close.

"Today's unions: no longer suicidal." Still needs tweaking.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Reading Rat September 6, 2009

Updates to my recommended reading ... first postings on these authors:

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected Pope Benedict XVI, once said that Steppenwolf is among his favorite books because it "exposes the problem of modernity's isolated and self-isolating man". The protagonist, Harry Haller, goes through his mid-life crisis and must chose between life of action and contemplation. His initials perhaps are not accidentally like the author's. --Petri Liukkonen, Authors' Calendar (2008) [See recommended reading by Hesse] (via Rick Brookhiser at The Corner)

First published in 1909, the Five-Foot Shelf was conceived by the Harvard president Charles W. Eliot as “a good substitute for a liberal education” for a growing middle class eager for knowledge. All the big names and important ideas were here: Sophocles, Chaucer, the Constitution, three treatises on smallpox for good measure. Ordinary men and women who had never set foot in Harvard Yard could now stake a claim to the peaks of Western civilization. --Alexander Nazaryan, Reading to Live, The New York Times, June 24, 2009, review of The Whole Five Feet: What the Great Books Taught Me About Life, Death, and Pretty Much Everything Else, by Christopher R. Beha [See recommended reading by Charles W. Eliot]

Mathematics does seem to evoke a feeling of timelessness and certainty. We may not formulate geometry exactly as Euclid did, but none of Euclid’s theorems is now considered false. The proofs given by Apollonius and Archimedes still work as proofs for us, and the theorems they prove are, we say, true, not just agreed upon or universally accepted. --Fernando Q. Gouvea, The Book of Numbers, First Things, February 2009, review of Is God a Mathematician? by Mario Livio [See recommended reading by Euclid]

Updates to my recommended reading ... added to posts on these authors:

John C. Briggs on Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln

Joseph M. Bessette on the presidency and Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Leon Trotsky

His blindness to any sense of humanity was evident in his last months of exile when he insisted, against the views of most of his allies, that the Soviet war in Finland was a good thing because Finnish capitalists and exploiters would be put up against the wall. His death from an act of Stalinist terrorism would not have surprised him: Bolshevik justice and injustice were about destroying what lay across the revolution's path. --Richard Overy, Ice-cold in Coyoacan, Literary Review, June 2009, review of Stalin's Nemesis: The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky, by Bertrand M. Patenaude (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Victory in Defeat, by Neal Ascherson, London Review of Books, December 2, 2004, review of 'The Prophet Armed: Trotsky 1879-21', by Isaac Deutscher, 'The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky 1921-29', by Isaac Deutscher, and 'The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky 1929-40', by Isaac Deutscher

The Old Man: Even for educated readers, Leon Trotsky survives as part kitsch and part caricature. But the reissue of a majestic biography reveals him as he always was—a prophetic moralist, by Christopher Hitchens, Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2004, review of 'The Prophet Armed: Trotsky 1879-1921', by Isaac Deutscher, 'The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky 1921-1929', by Isaac Deutscher, and 'The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky 1929-1940, by Isaac Deutscher

Revolutionary Thinker: Leon Trotsky's Great-Granddaughter Is Following Her Own Path to Greatness, by Guy Gugliotta, The Washington Post, August 21, 2003, at Cannabis News

Trotsky's ghost wandering the White House: Influence on Bush aides: Bolshevik's writings supported the idea of pre-emptive war, by Jeet Heer, National Post, June 7, 2003, at Alex Jones' Prison Planet

Their Morals and Ours, by Leon Trotsky, reviewed by Mick Hume, New Statesman, December 14, 2002

See Double Standard

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Amazon Reviewers Take On the Classics

Joe Queenan at The Wall Street Journal asks What if the Internet had existed centuries ago? (via Arts & Letters Daily)