Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

"Very fun." -- J. Bottum, Editor, FIRST THINGS

"Too modest" -- Elinor Dashwood

"Perhaps the wisest man on the Web" -- Henry Dieterich

"Hat tip: me (but really Cacciaguida)" -- Diana Feygin, Editor, THE YALE FREE PRESS

"You are my sire. You give me confidence to speak. You raise my heart so high that I am no more I." -- Dante

"Fabulous!"-- Warlock D.J. Prod of Didsbury

Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

E-mail me

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Franco Corelli, 1921-2003

The AP reports:
ROME - Franco Corelli, whose ringing tenor voice and matinee-idol looks made him one of the top opera stars of the 20th century, has died in Milan. He was 82.

Rest of story here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Chart of possible new Red Sox managers, with comments and Vegas odds. Note high-ranking status of former Mets skipper Bobby Valentine.

And a warm Mets-fan welcome to the blog through which I found all this, Bambino's Curse: Diary of a Red Sox Fan. To be filed alphabetically along with all the Mets blogs. Glad to have you Shea nous!

Iain Duncan-Smith is out as Brit Conservative leader.

Note final graf: Within an hour of IDS's concession of defeat, David Davies, ex-Chairman of the Conservative Party, announced his decision not to run for the leadership in what is increasingly looking like a strong movement within the party to force the accession of Michael Howard without a protracted election contest.

Tsk, tsk, sounds like somebody forgot to check for hidden mikes at the recent party conference....

Tuesday, October 28, 2003
New Archbishop of Hartford

Turnaround man: Archbishop Henry Mansell

Among the achievements with which then-Bishop Mansell is credited as Bishop of Buffalo since 1995, he "trimmed more than a dozen positions" and "removed an undisclosed number of priests following allegations of sexual abuse."

What appears to be going on is this: Buffalo was a problem diocese, and Bishop Mansell -- a New Yorker who was ordained priest by Cardinal Spellman and served as an auxiliary bishop with Cardinal O'Connor -- was sent in as the turnaround man. Those are tough assignments, and it's appropriate that those who do them go on to higher office in a more restful diocese. (Hartford has its problems, as every diocese does, but it's not in a crisis state.)

So what to expect for other problem dioceses? Richmond, which needs a bishop now? Rochester, which is even weirder than next-door Buffalo, pre-Mansell?

Apparently the pattern is: guy's an auxiliary bishop in a solid diocese, or at any rate with solid mentors; then he's promoted to ordinary in a problem diocese; then he gets his reward.

If I'm right, then, for the next bishops of Richmond, Rochester (and possibly Norfolk, if Richmond gets split up), look at the current auxiliaries in places like Washington, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, etc.

Consider, for instance, Washington Auxiliary Bishop Kevin Farrell (Irish-born; fluent in Spanish; Legionary; brother, also LC, works in Vatican Secretariat of State); Washington Auxiliary Bishop Francisco Gonzalez (ordained by late Richmond Bishop John Russell); current New York auxiliaries listed here; Denver Auxiliary Bishop Jose Gomez (yowza!); also, click here for Chicago: Cardinal George plus seven active auxiliaries. Deep bench; strong triple-A team; whatever.

N.B. Bishop Mansell was on the short-list for Archbishop of New York when then-Bishop, now-Cardinal Egan was chosen. At 66, Mansell may yet take possession of St. Patrick's some day.

Monday, October 27, 2003
Going for the classic choice, none can go wrong with a classy Long Islander!
Congratulations! You're a Long Island Iced Tea!

What Drink Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Nicely done, Marlins.

Naturally I rooted for them in the Series -- because I'd root for invading Martians if they were playing the Yankees. (This despite the fact that on Mars they almost certainly have the DH rule. Where do you think it came from? Sorry, Bowie, nothing personal!)

But I might have rooted for the Marlins with even more vigor if I had known earlier that their manager, Jack McKeon, is a daily Mass-goer who confided the Series to St. Therese of Lisieux. This makes 2003 the second World Series (that I know of) that Therese has been involved in. Maybe some team should cut out the middleman and just have her manage.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Business Week and the bind that ties

Business Week, in its let's-just-surrender-right-now story on the decline of marriage in the United States, says that among the folks who typify the future are young men like Vincent Ciaccio, who broke his Italian mother's heart when he got a vasectomy three years ago at the age of 23 because he didn't want to get tied down.

Was that really what they meant to say? It would appear he did get tied down, and pretty solidly too! Sheesh, don't they have editors at BW?

Tuesday, October 21, 2003
P.A. system adventures

Heard at various airports over the past weekend:

Paging Mr. [pause while she double-checks the name] Whirly Bird, Mr. Whirly Bird....

I hope he's not a pilot.

Ms. Gail [the inevitable pause] Silly, Ms. Gail Silly, please return to the baggage claim area.

Hello, Gail. Are you Silly? Then it must be you who left this pink valise behind....

Paging Fidel. Fidel, please come to the information counter.

Your cigars are ready.

Andrew Sullivan has decided that, since desperate times call for desperate measures, he is leaving the Church. I'd comment, but Elinor has taken care of it.

Churchwatchers cannot guarantee that the Church will survive this blow, but early reports are optimistic, not to say giddy.

Seriously -- say a prayer for him, and for all who face sexual temptation. Mater pulchrae dilectionis, ora pro nobis. (Mother of fair love, pray for us.)

Interview with new Cardinal Julian Herranz, on Canon Law, which is what he does.

Well, Gerry Matatics did in fact speak at my (predominantly Protestant) university this past weekend, while I was away. Haven't heard how it went, but the place is still standing -- which is more than I can say for myself.

Sunday, October 19, 2003
Heard a few rows behind me at one of my sons' baseball games: If it's called da Woild Series, how come it's always in da Bronx?

Thursday, October 16, 2003
Visit the Old Oligarch here for a celebration of the anniversary of our beloved Holy Father!

Blog break for a few days.

I won't be able to give timely commentary on tonight's Red Sox/Yankees game (for those of you who've been on Mars for the past month, this game will decide whether the Sox go to the World Series for the first time since 1986, when they had the misfortune to clash with the Amazin' Mets, or whether it's the Yankees UH-gain), so just go here for my views. Thank you.

Queen seen on EU scene


The Alice at the Palace has the clue that is true

After decades if not centuries, the English monarch is making her presence felt on an issue -- and an important one. Story here.

Zeus and Athena in the AL Iliad?

A Red Sock interviewed on ESPN Radio while I was driving in this morning said (I quote from memory): "The gods have spoken to us. Clemens beat us at Fenway, we'll beat Clemens here."

OK. Yeah. What he said.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Yankee Stadium is so pleasant when everyone in the stands is stone-silent!!

Terri Schiavo begins to die. This report is from Fox -- you know, the guys who thought they had copyrighted the words "fair and balanced"? The piece states, as fact, that Terri is "in a vegetative state." She is not. Then this:

Doctors have testified that the noises and facial expressions Terri Schiavo makes are reflexes and do not indicate that she has enough mental capabilities to communicate with others.

So that's the new standard for the right to life?

And this:

Michael Schiavo has refused to divorce his wife, saying that he fears her parents would ignore her desire to die if they became her guardians.

This might have been the right point in the narrative to mention that if he divorces her, his right to her lawsuit-settlement boodle become a lot less clear, perhaps null.

Feast of St. Teresa of Avila...

...the go-to girl for mental prayer.

Catholic Encyclopedia bio here.

AP admits Pope is "in relatively good form at his general audience Wednesday." (But note how Cardinal Mahony has this reporter's ear.)

I guess, between his 25th anniversary on the job, and the beatification of Mother Teresa, we're in for a weekend of vulturific coverage.

Reminds me -- can't find the link -- CRISIS not long ago published a list of people who had predicted that JPII would soon die. Impressive list: cardinals, journalists, theologians -- the works. The one common trait among them all: they were all DEAD!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Columbia psychiatry prof's study shows "reparative therapy" sometimes works

Story from the Columbia Spectator here. The researcher is Professor Robert Spitzer. From the Columbia Spectator article:

In 1973, Spitzer played a pivotal role in removing homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association's list of medical illnesses, and was extremely skeptical about the validity of reparative therapy when he began this study.

But due to his findings, Spitzer would now like to initiate a more complex, deeper-reaching study but said that such an undertaking is unlikely given both the cost of such an effort and the political controversy surrounding the issue.

"In this political climate, nobody would want to fund it," he said. "I think that the only thing that will result [of the study] is that among medical health professionals the issue will be more open as to whether some people could change."

House of Cards fans: check out what's going on in the British Conservative Party today!

Monday, October 13, 2003

Conversation chez Cacciaguida: Sammy Sosa, patriarch

I don't care if he does cork his bat. He's got four kids.

(Long pause.)

Cacciaguida: Wait a minute. If he's got four kids, he can't be corking his bat.

Elinor (aside): HONeyyyyyy, the kidddddds!

Sunday, October 12, 2003
Red Sox/Yankees war

Stories on Saturday's Fenway fracas here and here.

Chez Cacciaguida, the debate was about how to reconcile two foundational principles: (a) never hit an old guy, and (b) always hit a New York Yankee.

The New York Post says Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, who knocked down 72-year-old air-displacer Don Zimmer when the latter charged the mound, is "in a classless by himself." Well, any commentary on classlessness coming from the New York Post has to be taken seriously. But really, this is a bit yellow to be excused even by municipal loyalty. I'm a New Yorker too, and I >heart< New York -- it's the Yankees I can't stand.

"Sotillo used to be very cordial to me at the Goulds' and at the club. How that man'll ever dare to look any of his friends here in the face I can't imagine."

"He'll no doubt begin by shooting some of them to get over the first awkwardness," said the doctor. "Nothing in this country serves better your military man who has changed sides than a few summary executions."

-- Joseph Conrad, Nostromo, part 3, ch. 1

For a professed non-fan, Elinor sure can write about baseball.

Saturday, October 11, 2003
Conversation chez Cacciaguida: wisdom teeth

Scene: back at that ol' Mexican restaurant

Number One Son: Ouch. My wisdom teeth are coming in and these tortilla chips hurt.

Cacciagiuseppe: They seem OK to me....

Number One Son: You don't have your wisdom teeth. You don't even have your smart teeth. You barely have your clue teeth.

Friday, October 10, 2003
Emerson Makes Me Ralph

This essay by Chattanooga-based (U. of Tenn.) Wilfred McClay reminds me why.

Matatics inquiry

The Newman Club at my university is considering inviting Gerry Matatics to speak.

I know -- there are many "Newman Clubs" around the country where an acknowledged right-schismatic would be preferable to any of the usual round-up of unacknowledged left-schismatics.

But my question is, where exactly does Gerry stand now? His theological itinerary has been complex indeed. A quick Google search suggests that he never was a sedevacantist, but is (or was) a Feeneyite; that he is "in good standing with his parish," but without data on whether this "parish" is SSPX, or SSPV, or Catholic, or Tasmanian Orthodox for that matter.

To be sure, it's problematic if the best one can say about someone is "he's not a sedevacantist but...." My rule of thumb is, if you say "I'm not a sedevacantist but...", then you probably are a sedevacantist butt.

OTOH, Mr. Matatics is knowledgeable enough about Scripture, and a sharp enough debater, that bringing him to my campus would be worthwile, if he's in good standing with the Church.

So help me out here. If anyone has up-to-date information on whether Mr. Matatics is in good standing with the Church -- you know, the the Church -- please let me know, either in the comment boxes or by e-mail. Confidentiality guaranteed if requested.

Thursday, October 09, 2003
China Ready for Leap Into Orbit
Manned Spaceflight Would Put Country in Elite Club
By John Pomfret
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, October 9, 2003; Page A01

BEIJING, Oct. 8 -- China is counting down to the launch of a man into Earth orbit, which would fulfill what Chinese officials say is a long-held dream for the emerging world power and make it the third country to embark on manned spaceflight.

Full story here. Two possible explanations:

It's a judicial punishment, a variation on exile.


Their goal is the Space Shuttle, where some Jewish scientists are getting hungry:

"Dehydrated protein -- alvays mit de dehydrated protein! Cudn ve for vunce not have dehydrated protein?"
"Vot, you vun ve should order in Chinese or someting?"
"You tink I can't find take-out Chinese out here? I vunce found take-out Chinese at 2 a.m. in a village in Sussex. I can find take-out Chinese up here."
"No vay. Never up here."
"You're so smart, you just vatch."

Wednesday, October 08, 2003
California results

Good summary here by the Extreme Catholic.

Baseball championship series

As you know, I'm a New York Mets fan. But that part of the season is over. What now? This:

Go, Red Sox! (All is forgiven for '86 -- 'cause we beat you!)


Go, Cubs!

And if both the Sox and the Cubbies make it into the Series -- Cacciaguida will inform you later of his preference.

Don Vincente [at present the "President-Dictator"], a doctor of philosophy from the Cordova University, seemed to have an exaggerated respect for military ability, whose mysteriousness -- since it appeared to be altogether independent of intellect -- imposed upon his imagination.

-- Joseph Conrad, Nostromo, Part II, Ch. 2

The bravura touch here is "seemed to." Even when using an omniscient narrator voice (instead of passing the narrative baton to one of his characters, as he frequently does), Conrad often maintains a certain detachment from his characters, such that he can only tell us how their interior states seemed, not what they were. This introduces a note of dry humor even into rather horrific scenes.


Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Paolo Veronese, The Battle of Lepanto

This Marian celebration first came about from the victory of Lepanto (1571). The combined Christian fleet defeated the Turks, thus preventing their occupation of Europe. This favor was attributed by Pope St. Pius V to the recitation of the Holy Rosary.

-- from the headnote for today's feast in the Daily Roman Missal

Text of Chesterton's Lepanto here.

Monday, October 06, 2003
First anniversary of the canonization of St. Josemaria Escriva. I was so there: relevant posts here and here. (Sorry, the photos aren't up any more.)

Sunday, October 05, 2003
Conversation chez Cacciaguida: a slow base-runner

Caccia di Gregorio:
He'll never beat out the throw.

Cacciaguida: Slow-moving vehicle, huh?

Caccia di Gregorio: Wi-i-i-ide lo-o-a-a-d.

Saturday, October 04, 2003
St. Louis Cardinals -- the Church kind, not the baseball kind

St. Louis-based reader Paul Hargadon, coming to my aid on the subject of who was and who was not made a Cardinal while serving as Archbishop of St. Louis (apropos of this post), writes:

Carberry was a cardinal. The other two were Glennon (the first) and Ritter.

Not May? Or was he not at St. Louis? Sorry -- I try not to be one of those east-coasters for whom everything west of Philadelphia is void for vagueness. I've even been to St. Louis: went to Mass at the Old Cathedral and at the church on the St. Louis University campus, saw the old U.S. Courthouse where the trial in Dred Scott was held; had a hotel room from which I could peer down into Busch Stadium. Long live the Gateway to the West!

Some in our society want to extend the definition of marriage to include the union of two men or two women (And, following their logic, why not between one man and three women, or one woman and three men?). In opposing such initiatives, the Church goes back (as our Lord did) to what the Creator intended from the beginning: He made them male and female.

God is the author of marriage. Rebellion against this simple truth will always cause a decay in family life and therefore in society. Perhaps such rebellion is common (in our Lord’s day and in our own) precisely because marriage is such hard work. Sinful man would rather conform marriage to himself than himself to marriage.

-- Fr. Paul Scalia, Parochial Vicar, St. Patrick's Church, Fredericksburg, VA. Full text here.

Friday, October 03, 2003
More evolved

We watched the first X-Men movie the other night. My reax -- much like Elinor's. Turns out she's not the first to notice the gay allegory; plug "X-Men gay" into Google and see what comes up.

But it's not without controversy among our alternatively-lifestyled brethren: obviously the "queer nation" extremists don't like being the bad guys, opposite the "good" Sullivan/Rauch character Charles Xavier. I did notice, too, that the hoariest gay-lib lines were given to the bad mutants, at least in the first movie; especially Mystique. (Haven't seen the second; mean to; Caccia di Gregorio says it's much better.)

Also, in the operning scene, Magneto's powers emerge when he's separated from his mother; his father is present, but more -- shall we say, distant? And isn't the current gay party line hostile to the distant-or-absent-father theory?

Still, something there. "We're just like you, only more evolved." So you may be, my friends, but that's because you like opera, not because of your sexual habits. It's your tix, not your -- hm, perhaps I should say: It's your CDs, not your CDCs. In any event, I wonder if the third X-Men movie will be called "Mutant Eye for the Regular Guy."

For now, my favorite X-Men-related line remains one not from the movie but from Magneto's appearance in the Spiderman newspaper strip about a year ago:

Magneto: You cannot escape my magnetic power!
Spidey (aside): I can't even escape his corny dialogue!

Oh, before I sign off for a couple of days -- Anna Paquin is a cutie-pie.

Thursday, October 02, 2003
Happy 75th birthday to Opus Dei!

Exotic locale

Thanks to Blackstone Audio Books, I am currently going through Joseph Conrad's Nostromo, in the middle of the academic term.

Nostromo, you'll recall, takes place in the imaginary South American republic of Costaguana. Now, my Spanish is rusty, but couldn't this name reasonably be translated as "Birdshit Beach"?

Wednesday, October 01, 2003
California dad creates Matrix-themed pro-life flyers

Many students choose red pill. (For the Matrix-impaired: that's good.) However, he had great difficulties landing his glider. Clearly the work of the Twins.

(Go here and click on "Blood and Fliers Flying Pro-Life Dad Tells Teens to Fight the Matrix.")