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

Monday, May 31, 2004
Law-review abstract that crossed my desk today -- or rather, landed on my desk and made me cross myself:
Monogamy's Law: Compulsory Monogamy and Polyamorous Existence

University of Chicago - Law School

February 2004

U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 58

Marriage and monogamy feature prominently on the public stage, but not all romantic relationships come in pairs. While people across the political spectrum debate the different-sex requirement of civil marriage, this article focuses on another limiting principle of monogamy's core institution: the twoness requirement. In particular, the article elaborates the practice and ethical principles of contemporary relationships of more than two people, called polyamory. Such relationships take many forms and aspire to several identifiable values, including radical honesty, consent, and the privileging of more sexual and loving experiences over other activities and emotions such as jealousy.

The article asks why polyamorous relationships face such severe normative censure. After considering various objections, the article concludes that one key component of the censure is, paradoxically, the ability of most people to imagine themselves having sex with someone other than a primary partner - in other words, a paradox of prevalence. Despite the widespread desire for more than one sexual partner, however, and despite relatively widespread nonmonogamy, most people do not engage in polyamorous relationships. But neither do most people affirmatively choose monogamy: Laws and norms exert strong pressure on people to promise monogamy, and most people simply succumb to this pressure. The article argues that although monogamy is a sound choice for many, polyamory is a sound choice for others. Building on this premise, the article considers some ways that information-forcing principles of contract law might be used to help encourage people to make active, reflective choices about monogamy.

Not making this up

Seen in a catalogue from University of Chicago Press: Sodomy in Reformation Germany and Switzerland, 1400-1600, by Helmut Puff.

Today it's the turn of, my comment-box supplier, to have a fit of the technicals. Yesterday my comment-boxes were gone; this morning they were back; now they're gone again. If this doesn't settle down soon, I'll switch to Haloscan.

Sunday, May 30, 2004
Dave Barry to new graduates entering the Real World:
The first thing you'll notice is that your professors did not go out there with you. They're not stupid; that's why they're professors.

Conversation chez Cacciaguida

(Scene: p.m.; went to Mass this a.m. at our regular parish; now, Cacciagiuseppe, Cacciadelia, and I are on our way to a local parish that has Perpectual Adoration. We pass a sign reminding us that this parish is having a "Happy Birthday Church" celebration at 4 p.m.)

CACCIAGUIDA: [looks at watch, sees it's 3:30] Good, we're just in time to miss it.

CACCIAGIUSEPPE: Is it a religious celebration, or will they have party hats with little flames on top?

CACCIAGUIDA: I'm not sure they know the difference. Soon as I heard about it, I planned to stay away in droves.

(We complete our Visit to the Blessed Sacrament in peace.)


Saturday, May 29, 2004

Mark Steyn is still a proud armchair hawk:
The bleats of "Include me out!" from the fairweather warriors isn't a sign of their belated moral integrity but of their fundamental unseriousness. Anyone who votes for the troops to go in should be grown-up enough to know that, when they do, a few of them will kill civilians, bomb schools, abuse prisoners. It happens in every war. These aren't stunning surprises, they're inevitable: it might be a bombed mosque or a hospital, a shattered restaurant or a slaughtered wedding party, but it will certainly be something.

Okay, a freaky West Virginia tramp leading a naked Iraqi round on a dog leash with a pair of Victoria's Secret panties on his head and a banana up his butt, maybe that wasn't so inevitable. But, that innovation aside, the aberrations of war have nothing to do with the only question that matters: despite what will happen along the way, is it worth doing?

...[M]ore and more towns are holding elections and voting in "secular independents and representatives of non-religious parties". I have been trying to persuade my Washington pals to look on Iraq as an exercise in British-style asymmetrical federalism: the Kurdish areas are Scotland, the Shia south is Wales, the Sunni Triangle is Northern Ireland. No need to let the stragglers in one area slow down progress elsewhere. Iraq won't be perfect, but it will be okay - and in much better shape than most of its neighbours.

So I've moved on. I am already looking for new regimes to topple. And here's where the events of recent weeks may have done some damage. In my corner of northern New England, as in Highgate and Holland Park, it is also stressful being a Bush apologist. Most of the guys I hang out with demand to know why he's being such a wimp, why's he kissing up to King Abdullah about a few stray bananas in some jailhouse, why's he being such a pantywaist about not letting our boys fire on mosques, why hasn't he levelled Fallujah.

I don't mean to say a word against the Knights of Columbus. They played and are playing a great role in American Catholic history, first in giving Catholic men a "lodge" of their own so they'd feel less pressure to join the Masons, then in fighting nativism, and now in funding such apostolic enterprises as the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and Family. They're also a great source of reliable life insurance for Catholic families.

But I must admit that, according the most recent newsletter from the Fourth Degree assembly that I belong to, the April attendance award went to a chap named Robert Boring.

What's more, Bob was absent when the award was given.

Rock on, K of C!

Doesn't this prove that al-Qaeda and Saudi Arabia are actually at odds? Not necessarily; it may just show that al-Qaeda wants more money from the Saud clan.

Friday, May 28, 2004
Happy Anniversary to Elinor and me (#21)!

Military occupational specialization

This is going the rounds:

How do the major services apply the command "Secure the building"?
ARMY: Occupy the building so no one can enter.
NAVY: Turn off the lights and lock the doors.
MARINES: Assault the building, capture it, and defend it with suppressive
fire and close combat.
AIR FORCE: Take out a three-year lease with an option to buy.

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Third diocese deep-sixed? Talk about a new diocese for the eastern part of the current diocese of Richmond appears to have stopped cold. The new Bishop of Richmond mentioned in his installation homily last Monday that his responsibilities stretch "from Bristol to Tidewater." It doesn't sound like he expects his responsibilities to stop short of Williambsurg anytime soon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
First, just as I committed to writing that opera post, I also want to commit to reviewing the Blondie concert that I attended recently. Later. For now I want to write about...

Same-sex friendships

This is getting very blogose, with compound posts on other people's posts, but I'll try to keep it -- oi, don't want to say "straight" -- clear.

It started with this post by Eve. El Camino Real replied with this post, and Eve pointed up some problems with ECR's analysis here.

I just want to address one point made by ECR -- one that, depending on how one reads it, is probably right:
[K]nowledge of homosexual temptations is a serious impediment to same-sex friendships. By self-identifying as someone with SSA, a person is severely limiting prospects for friendship with heterosexuals.
Here's what I think ECR means -- or at any rate, what I would agree with: Same-sex friendships, besides being an important part of life, can also be emotionally intense. If one "self-identifies as someone with SSA", then one has to approach such friendships with at least as much caution as a straight person (I mean, a straight person who is not interested in pursuing illicit affairs) should deploy in approaching opposite-sex frienships. But such precautions inevitably dampen any friendship to which they are applied. They're supposed to. But where does that leave same-sex friendship for the self-identified SSA sufferer? Hard to attain and maintain; perhaps even off-limits.

Now, I actually don't know whether it's as bad as all that. I like to think it's not impossible, even in today's world, to practice the level of self-control necessary to sustain non-sexual relationships with persons one nonetheless finds attractive. (I leave to one side, for now, the Eve-identified category of relationships that are "romantic but not sexual".)

But here's why I'm blogging all this. If there's one thing more than another about the gay movement that drives me to the contemplation of violent crime, it's the way it has sexualized all of literature's great same-sex friendships. Jonathan and David, Hamlet and Horatio, Achilles and Patroclus -- friends? No, you innocent rube: screamers! (Henry II and Becket -- well, I'll partly grant them that one, at least as far as Anouilh's play is concerned: in the movie version, the queen-mother says to Henry: "You have an obsession with the man that is unhealthy and unnatural.")

The most recent such outrage has as its victims -- opera-fan readers, listen up! -- Don Carlo and Rodrigo!! Yes, I was recently e-hanging out with the opera crowd, which includes not a few certified opera queens, and one of them referred off-hand, like it wasn't even controversial, to Carlo and Rodrigo's "love duet" in Act II of Verdi's DON CARLO (or Act I, if you leave out the Fontainebleau scene).

This despite the fact that: (1) Carlo is in fact in love with his step-mother, a romance that drives much of the action of the opera; (2) the content of the duet, and of the entire Carlo-Rodrigo relationship, is a shared idealism and commitment to the cause of "freedom for Flanders". I.e., it's not a relationship of two people gazing at each other, but of two people gazing together at a shared interest or ideal -- the very definition of philia, as distinguished from eros, according to C.S. Lewis.

So what can the opera queens say in reply? That Flemings are a cover for flaming? That the Flemings are notoriously...? That the handover of the sword in the auto-da-fe scene is (crudely) symbolic? ARGGHH! [rends garment]

APPENDIX 1: Below is the Italian text of the Carlo-Rodrigo duet. DON CARLO was originally performed in French, but the Italian is the standard performing version. I won't translate, but if anyone wants to comment on particular words, I'll follow up on that.

Dio che
nell'alma infondere
Amor volesti e speme,
Desio nel core accendere
Tu déi di libertà.
Giuriam insiem di vivere
E di morire insieme;
In terra, in ciel congiungere
Ci può la tua bontà.

APPENDIX 2: This is my favorite recording of DON CARLO, and it's going at a great price (3 discs @ less than $6 a disc). I haven't seen this DVD, but the Met's production is good, and the cast is unbeatable. (N.B. I tend to judge a DON CARLO by its Grand Inquisitor: he's gotta be a big, dark, floorboard-rattling bass. The Haitink recording has Robert Lloyd; the Levine DVD has Ferruccio Furlanetto. YEAH! BRING IT ON, G.I.!)

Monday, May 24, 2004
That opera post I've been promising

Fr. Shane Tharp writes at Catholic Ragemonkey:

Paging Cacciaguida, paging Maestro Cacciaguida

Like my fascination with chess, my desire to better appreciate opera is born of a form of snobbery.
Well, there's no such thing as a bad reason to want to know more about opera, and I, for one, do not look down on snobbery as a reason for doing things. So welcome to opera. The Emperor has been expecting you.

N.B. Opera is not, imo, a per se snobbish art form. Yes, its fans include the "opera queens", but they also include the kind of people you see in Moonstruck: proletarian ethnics who live and breathe opera as much as the queens do. That they are more likely to sing "La donna e mobile" in the shower than to get into eyescratchers over which Callas NORMA is the best doesn't make them any less true fans. (Justice Scalia is one of them.)

Now, on with our program.
As a person who styles himself as well-educated, opera specifically, and classical music in general, is something I should have a better grasp on than I do. But I have a major disability. I must see an opera to appreciate it. Listening to CDs of the opera I have seen does nothing to help me out.
I started out with records, but two qualifiers are necessary: I was very young, and I was frequently taken to see the operas I was listening to. So, you have a point. Opera is almost as much a visual medium as a musical one (some would say fully as much), which is why the rise of complete opera recordings with the coming of the LP did nothing to dampen opera attendance. Even opera DVDs -- an attractive new option -- do not and cannot substitute for the real thing.

That said, recordings are a very useful adjunct. Also, once you get into the cult, they are a great joy in their own right. Right now I'm listening to a 1970 recording of Verdi's IL TROVATORE, and Leontyne Price's voice is bringing back all kinds of memories. (I chose TROVATORE just now because it is in certain ways the opera-y-est opera of them all. It's the one the Marx Brothers did a number on in A Night at the Opera.) The thing to do, at least until you get to know a particular opera very well, is to follow along with the printed libretto (or "book", as they say on Broadway -- the printed text).

Now, here's a problem: a lot of the most affordable (and often very good) recordings are small-label re-releases of old recordings, including live performances "pirated" long ago -- and these often do not come with libretti. Solution: buy "commercial" recordings that include libretti, or buy or dowload a libretto. Complete libretti for the standard-rep operas are widely available on the net. (An emerging alternative: some recordings come with the libretto on CD-ROM.)
About a month ago, I mentioned how much I am enjoying a CD featuring Renee Fleming and Bryn Terfel. I also have an album of Terfel singing Handel arias, and that one is really marvelous. So, the plan is to play to celebrity. I will get my prehensile feet on some of the operas he has done. I am currently bidding on a copy of "Elijah" on EBay and would like to score a copy of "Don Giovanni" with Terfel playing either Giovanni or il Leporello. I will keep you posted.
Having a star or two that you can be a fan of is great, and Terfel (pronounced TAIR-vil) is a good choice.

I should add, for whatever it may be worth, that Handelian opera -- and Baroque opera in general -- does absolutely nothing for me. Zippity-squat. Opera in those days was in its infancy as an art form; it had barely evolved from the "masques" and pageants that "Queen" Elizabeth might have known. Opera is music and drama. Baroque opera has lovely music, but the drama is just not there, or at any rate, it's so hyper-stylized that it is, at best, an acquired taste for those raised in opera's heartland, which stretches from late Mozart through, roughly, early Richard Strauss (late 18th century to mid-20th). And people say TROVATORE has a silly plot; have you had a look at RINALDO?

Mozart is a transitional figure. His earlier operas are mostly in the genre of opera seria: classical-mythical stories, pageant-like, very little human realism. He wrote better operas in that genre than anyone else (e.g. IDOMENEO, LA CLEMENZA DI TITO). But his real contribution to opera was to move it to a new level of human realism, which he did above all with DON GIOVANNI and THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO.

("What about COSI FAN TUTTE and THE MAGIC FLUTE?" FLUTE is essentially a music-hall bagatelle with a thick crust of brain-dead Masonic moralizing and a few moments of truly great music. And somehow I've never much cared for COSI FAN TUTTE (a.k.a. "Women Are Like That" -- i.e. fickle and airheaded). Know what you get on Sunday morning when you give your little sons a bean-rich dinner on Saturday night? "Cosi Toot Fanny." A little opera-family humor for you there.)

After Mozart came the Bel Canto era, then Verdi, then Wagner, then the Verismo movement, then Richard Strauss....

Bryn Terfel is an astounding bass-baritone who won an international reputation for his portrayal of Don Giovanni's manservant Leporello, and then went on to do "the Don" himself, also to great acclaim.

If you are reading this Cacciaguida, any suggestions would be appreciated.
Yes: buy more records, with libretti, and patronize your local opera company. Or next time you're in New York, go to the Met or the New York City Opera.

One more thought: listening to records with the libretto in hand was the way I got familiar with the texts as well as the music of much of the repertory. Today, the situation is different because of -- surtitles. Yes, in almost every opera house, you can now read the words being sung while you watch the action on stage. They're on a screen above the stage.

Mixed feelings here. When surtitles began, I chalked it up to the end of civilization in general and made plans to seek the best terms I could with the barbarians. I hear they like trinkets. After attending a few surtitled performances, however, I'm starting to mellow. The dang things actually do make it easier to introduce newbies, especially kids, to opera. And it's restful for me, and no doubt for those in the seats near us, that I no longer feel compelled to whisper to my kids "Now he's saying this, now she's saying that." So yeah. OK. Surtitles. My only remaining beef about them is when the surtitle-makers mistranslate, or miss a nuance, or turn a subtly ironic or poignant moment into an audience yuckfest. But in such cases, I suppose, the problem is the audience, not the surtitles.

I'll want to hear about your progress, Father. Right now the young Domingo is singing "Di quella pira", and I'm off in a better world.

DiLorenzo installed as Richmond diocese's 12th bishop
Associated Press
© May 24, 2004 | Last updated 5:03 PM May. 24

RICHMOND — The Rev. Francis Xavier DiLorenzo was installed Monday as the 12th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond, vowing to make traditional values of the church his top priority.

DiLorenzo, 61, was led to the cathedral, the bishop's official throne, by Cardinal William Keeler, archbishop of Baltimore, and Archbishop Gabrielle Montalvo, the representative of the pope. Keeler handed DiLorenzo the pastoral staff and DiLorenzo placed the miter — the official head dress of a bishop — on his own head.

More than 700 parishioners and religious leaders from across the state filled Richmond's Cathedral of the Sacred Heart for the ceremony. Eleven diocesan bishops from as far away as Las Vegas and Haiti also attended, along with the archbishops of Washington and Philadelphia and Virginia Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine.
It appears Bishop-emeritus Sullivan was not there. If you think that's meaningless, you need to take remedial Vaticanology.

CORRECTION: Bishop Sullivan was there, and concelebrated.

Have a look at the Cathedral during the recessional.

Mets pitcher Tom Glavine comes darn near a perfect game in shutout v. Rockies yesterday. The Mets have moved from fourth to third place in their five-team division.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle!
All'alba vincerò!
Vincerò -- vincerò!

Er, yeah, I've been listening to Turandot again. I can't grade exams without music, and the recording conducted by Alain Lombard and starring Montserrat Caballe, Jose Carreras, Mirella Freni, and Paul Plishka sure made those exam papers fly. (The other great recording, of course, is Sutherland & Pavarotti, with Caballe as Liu, conducted by Zubin Mehta.)

Strange, though, how the grades got better as I got near the end. The last one I did before the finale scored 100, and I'm not at all sure I didn't write "O sole, vita, eternità!" on it; I'll have to check.

Later today -- the post I owe Fr. Shane.

(The quote above can be translated: "Vanish, night! Set, stars! At dawn I shall win!" and yes, it's the "World Cup Song." But it's essentially untranslatable: the negligible Saxon monosyllable "set" simply doesn't convey the romance of the Italian verb "tramontare", and "shall win" sounds like a something that happens in checkers; it has none of the eroto-military overtones of the verb "vincere".)

Saturday, May 22, 2004
Blogger's new interface: Good job -- but recall the part just after you press the publish button, where it says "Yadda yadda yadda if you have a large blog." In this iteration, size does matter.


Oh rapture -- I've been tagged by Zorak! So I now tag -- THE PALADIN OF FAITH AND REASON! You're it!

Pray for the folks on Bradgate, Iowa: a tornado destroyed their town yesterday. They are reacting with marvelous American gallows humor:
Marina Meier said her home was caved in from the roof down and was moved about 20 feet off its foundation.

"Our couch was in the neighbor's yard," she said.

Meier's family had been planning to move into a new house next week, but they had not sold the old house yet.

"This could set that back a little bit," she said.
(The CNN story has a great photo of the funnel cloud, for those who are into tornography.)

"A me Roberti e il Giudice del Fisco."

OK, OK, it is torture.

I hope we learn more about who these "detainees" were. In order for the torture debate even to make sense -- in order for the "pro-torture" side to have anything decent to say for itself -- the victim must reasonably be suspected of being a terrorist in possession of knowledge of an imminent attack -- the "ticking bomb" scenario. I have yet to hear that any of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib were of this sort. Some, I would assume, are insurgent fighters. Some, surely, were simply innocent bystanders rounded up by Americans made understandably cautious by the ubiquity of snipers and bombers.

If so, then the torture seems to have been carried out for fun. Which supports the argument that this is America's redneck-porn culture acting out. E.g. this op-ed in the Daily Torygraph, which says inter alia:

[W]hen most of enlightened, moderately well educated America hears the words "West Virginia trailer park" associated with outrageous behaviour, they know exactly what to think: "This has got absolutely nothing to do with me. This is not my America. These people do not represent anything that I identify with, or take pride in. This is White Trash USA - which I like to pretend does not exist until I have to confront its grinning face splashed across my television screen on top of a pile of nude Iraqi detainees."

What would have clinched the dismissal of the Abu Ghraib incidents as the excesses of people whom enlightened America despises was the specifically sexual element of degradation.

When Scarpia summons Roberti, at least it's to work on someone who, in fact, has the information being sought, and to work on him without the "sexual element of degradation." (Scarpia takes care of that himself, and not with the prisoner.)

The issue at is currently that of slippery slope arguments.

I say they're valid: if we legalize contraception, sooner or later it'll lead to gay marriage. Call me crazy....

Martha Stewart will demonstrate how to make a charming new-trial motion out of a simple perjured witness.

Friday, May 21, 2004
Over at The Curt Jester: Planned Pastorhood, or, Every Bishop a Wanted Bishop. rotflmfao!

Kerry: maneuver warfare for the Catholic vote

Kerry is said to be "flip-flopping" on the question of whether he would have a rigid pro-Roe litmus test for appointing judges. But isn't it obvious what he's doing? It's not a conventional "flip-flop": it's a strategic muddying of the waters designed to make liberal-but-pro-life Catholics feel OK about voting for him. That could swing a rustbelt state or two.

Remember that yesterday, 48 Congressmen more or less threatened the Church with renewed Know-Nothingism if it doesn't back down on the issue of communion for pro-abort Catholic pols. They're not only threatening the Church -- they're running interference for Kerry. They stake out the radical ground, and along comes "moderate" Kerry saying that, under certain narrow circumstances, he might appoint a Justice like Scalia.

It's frankly brilliant. Republicans will have to respond by publicly reassuring Kerry's pro-abort supporters that they have nothing to worry about if their guy is elected.

No flies on us

The June issue of Opera News contains an article on downloading music.

Not "really" African

I've noted recently the ideological confusion caused to "progressive" Anglicans by the emergence of their church's own African episcopate as the locus of resistance to the gay agenda within Anglicanism. Well, gay Episcopalian theologian Jay Johnson has solved the problem: those bishops are, deep down, actually white:

After digesting some of the dire warnings from the Archbishop of Nigeria this past summer concerning Gene's ordination, I tried to come up with some succinct phrases to help me remember what's going on here. They go like this: The African bishops who are so opposed to Gene's ordination are speaking out of a tradition that was handed to them by white Euro-American missionaries, who insisted they give up their own African cultural practices and adopt European—read white—cultural practices in order to be Christian at all, and much of this happened at a time when those same white Euro-Americans were dragging off Africans into slavery and raping their women.

Click here for the full text. You will search it in vain for any awareness of how patronizing -- how racist, really -- this is, as though the African bishops were too dim to realize they've been the victims of an insidious Euro-white mind-meld.

What would E. Michael Jones say? He pushes the theory, doesn't he, that white liberals use black people as symbols of sexual liberation? That would fit with Johnson's apparent view that you're not authentically African if you opposed the Robinson ordination.

(Hat-tip to the New Oxford Review for alerting me to the writings of the Rev. Dr. Johnson. There's some lameosity in the NOR, but there are one or two things in each issue that justify the continued -- and very low -- cost of a subscription.)

The Goodridge doctrine reaches the opera world in an unexpected way

Not with brigades of opera-queen pairs wearing corsages and marching under a canopy of bayonets, like Rosina and the Count at the end of the old Eugene Berman production of The Barber of Seville -- but with, instead, a female trucker wanting to marry Beverly Sills.

Sorry, toots. Bev is already married, to Peter Greenough, who is quite decent for a Harvard man. They own property on the Vineyard, but mostly she's in New York, putting in more time as the Met's Chairman of the Board than any Met CoB before he has ever done, as far as I know.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

48 Catholic congressmen warn bishops on bigotry
By Alan Cooperman, Washington Post | May 20, 2004

WASHINGTON -- Forty-eight Roman Catholic members of Congress have warned in a letter to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., that US bishops will revive anti-Catholic bigotry and severely harm the church if they deny Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

Yeah, nice church ya got heah. Be a shame if anytin' were to, you know, happen to it....

What makes the bishops' position difficult right now is that they've spent decades treating aggressively pro-abortion politicians is if they were model Catholics. Changing course in a presidential election year obviously looks less compelling than if they had been doing the right thing all along. But that's not a reason not to do the right thing.

Here is the Atlantic piece on interrogation that I referred to in the comments beneath my "Reason v. Boortz" post. And here are the remarks of the same author in the same magazine on Abu Ghraib.

Feast of the Ascension

In my diocese the feast is officially transferred to next Sunday, lest today's busy Catholic be inconvenienced by a midweek Mass, but guess what: the pastor of my parish is saying an Ascension Mass today anyway, and so is the local Tridentine mission-parish (indult-based and on the up-and-up, natch). Little signs of a new springtime.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Bush didn't get enough in the deal he made with Daschle on judges. It covers none of the "controversial" filibustered nominees, while committing Bush to no more recess appointments this year.

Astronomers Find More Evidence of 'Dark Energy'

...and pay the price for their lack of vision! Bwah-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!

No, seriously:

Astronomers announced new evidence yesterday that the mysterious force known as "dark energy" is causing the universe to expand ever more rapidly, perhaps eventually leading to cosmological "loneliness," in which galaxies grow so far apart that the heavens will appear empty.

You know, I'm no physicist, but I'm distinctly under the impression that intergalactic space isn't exactly a dorm party even now.

Reason v. Boortz and soundness

"[O]ne reason why the torture [assuming, without conceding, that this is the appropriate term -- C.] scandal keeps attracting coverage is that it, unlike the Berg video, keeps yielding new developments..." says Jessie Walker at Reason's Hit & Run (link via Eve, who won't agree with me on this).

Let's see. Murder, humiliation; murder, humiliation. Can't figure out which is worse. Oh wait, I can.

Sending it out over the internet, taking pictures not meant to be seen; sending it out over the internet, taking pictures not meant to be seen. Same dilemma. No wait, I've just decided.

Perpetrators are investigated and prosecuted, perpetrators are heroes to their coreligionists... Decisions, decisions.

Sorry. Boortz is right on this. Nick Berg was underplayed in the print media, and was too soon dropped as an on-going story. (What's being done to target the perps? Anything?) And the sarin-missile story -- sounds like a WMD to me, no one disputes that it was in Iraq, and somehow I doubt it was the artifact of a private hobbyist.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004
CONTEST: name that open-mike snake!

At the retreat last weekend, the priest recalled how once, after saying Mass at a Catholic girls' school near Washington DC, and after he had withdrawn to the vesting room, he remarked "I hate that hymn!" -- only to discover that his lavalier-microphone was still on. He had been bitten by that quintessentially Washingtonian serpent, the unnoticed open mike.

Question is, what should this species of DC wildlife be called? That is the object of this contest: to combine snake varieties with electronic ones. I'll begin by taking all the good ones:

Dynamic diamondback
Unhooded cobra
Table moccasin

Any others?


Happy Birthday, Holy Father! (84 today)

Monday, May 17, 2004
Weird -- a message board for something called the Croatian Party of the Right.

Apposite bookworming for day one of Massachusetts's experiment in the new humanity

As I was cleaning off a bookshelf this evening, I stumbled across an acquistion from a used book store off a verdant, cranberry-boggy stretch of road near Plymouth, Massachusetts. The book is called It's an Old New England Custom. I surveyed the chapter headings.

After starting innocuously enough ("To Have Pie for Breakfast"), things start to get lugubrious about two thirds of the way through, with "To Excel in Epitaphs." Right after that comes "To Thirst After Strange Gods" -- i.e. to act like Israel in one of her more prophet-deprived or prophet-killing eras.

Once you're whoring after strange gods, what do you think comes next? Well, the next chapter is "To Have Haunted Houses," followed by "To Behold Phantom Ships." Phantom ships -- like that of the Flying Dutchman, from whom the blessing of death was withheld until he could find a woman -- w-o-m-a-n -- who would be true to him unto death? (The Dutchman was only "flying" in sense of "fleeing", see. Btw, some say there have been gen-yoo-yne sightings.)

Good night, Massachusetts. And that thing that went bump in the night? Don't ask. (And I won't tell.)

New links:
* Confessions of a Recovering Choir Director, under "Catholic Blogs": a great source for recovery of the Church's liturgical music traditions;
* the National Organization for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), under "Less Easily Classified", a national organizational of psychiatrists, psychologists, and other professionals who don't think gay is glorious, or normal; and
* Mr. William Grossklas's website debunking, with links, the Society That Presumes to Call Itself "of St. Pius X". (See "SSPX suxx" under "Catholicism".)

Vatican warns Catholics not to marry Muslims. Coming alongside KISS's bassist (thanks to Zorak for that link), the Holy See notes that, among other problems, Muslims don't treat their women right.


St. Gianna Beretta Molla
(she's the one in the middle)

See Elinor's summary of her story, here.

On the day that supposedly legal same-sex marriages begin in Massachusetts, Foxnews sets it in the context of "other changes" in marriage -- changes without which gay marriage would have remained inconceivable (pardon the expression), and which gay marriage will exacerbate.

Great article at NRO by John Derbyshire here. Thanks to Zorak for the tip (I don't scan NRO as regularly as I should).

Thursday, May 13, 2004
Blog break

Gotta get my priorities right: annual retreat now, Blondie concert review later. See you again on Sunday.

Theodore Dalrymple on Nick Berg's killers, Abu Ghraib miscreants, and other sinners he's known: "Where there is neither social nor legal pressure to behave decently, there will be a festival of evil."

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Anglican band-aid box: a constitution

Tuesday, May 11, 2004
American Beheaded on Web Video
Militants Say Killing Was Revenge for U.S. Abuses at Iraqi Prison

Because of all the people we beheaded over the Internet at Abu Ghraib, right?

As Chesterton said about the Romans and the Carthaginians, in Part I ch. 7 of The Everlasting Man:

Europe evolved into its own its own vices and its own impotence, as will be suggested on another page; but the worst into which it evolved was not like what it has escaped. Can any man in his senses compare the great wooden doll, whom the children expected to eat a little bit of the dinner, with the great idol who would have been expected to eat the children? That is the measure of how far the world went astray, compared with how far it might have gone astray. If the Romans were ruthless, it was in a true sense to an enemy, and certainly not merely a rival. They remembered not trade routes and regulations, but the faces of sneering men; and hated the hateful soul of Carthage.

Beyond that, I join in full the opinion of the Paladin, Berg beheaded.

EDITED TO ADD: As of 12:01 AM on Wed. 5/12, is still leading with "Senators to View Additional Abuse Photos," and no, they don't mean the killing Nick Berg. That's a sidebar item. Props to and for putting Berg front and center.

He went up to the front door and rang the bell. After a few minutes a woman with a mop opened it. He said he wanted to rent a room.

"What do you do?" she asked. She was a tall bony woman, resembling the mop she carried upside-down.

He said he was a preacher.

The woman looked at him thoroughly and then she looked behind him at his car. "What church?" she asked.

He said the Church Without Christ.

"Protestant?" she asked suspiciously, "or something foreign?"

He said no mam, it was Protestant.

-- Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood, ch. 6

Monday, May 10, 2004
Categorizing Blondie

From a recent interview with drummer Clem Burke:

Q. You came out of the legendary CBGB's punk scene, but you're not a punk band --

A. No one at CBGB's was thought of as punk until people outside called them punk. It’s kind of chaotic, what we are. Depending on who you ask we're a punk band, a pop band, a band fronted by a woman singer, whatever. We kind of thrive on that. Debbie is a fantastic lyricist, she doesn't get as much credit for that as she should.

Incidentally, there's a mistake in this CNN story that I blogged a few days ago: "Good Boys" isn't the rap number on their new album; "Shakedown" is, and it's not my favorite -- i.e., neither my favorite cut on the album, nor my favorite Blondie rap. On the album, I prefer "Rules for Living" (sample lyric: "It's a small world after all, but it's older than you think").

As for the other Blondie raps -- I can understand that after the success of "Rapture", they feel there has to be a rap number on each new album. But "Shakedown" is kind of a dreary, angry number about New Jersey street life; in contrast, "Rapture" -- the saga of the Man from Mars and his voracious appetite for improbable edibles that rhyme with Mars -- was funny, and their second rap number, "No Exit", had at least one good line: "Now what they're saying 'round the neighborhood/Is that what he's drinkin' ain't aged in wood."

Apparently their current tour includes a number of the classics: not only "Rapture" but also "Dreaming" (yay!), "Heart of Glass" (yay), "The Tide is High" (er, yay, I guess) and "Call Me" (eh...). I'm really hoping for "X-Offender", "Picture This", "Sunday Girl", and "Maria", and I know that if Debbie asks the audience what our favorite color is, the answer is "blue", and this is the cue for "Look Good in Blue".

Sunday, May 09, 2004
This morning at Mass the choir sang "Ubi caritas et amor est, Deus ibi est." Elinor says it means "Microsoft has MSNBC, but Deus has CBS."

Conversation chez Cacciaguida: graduating class

Scene: the graduation banquet for the Law School Class of '04, watching the class video. I'm pointing out students to Elinor as I recognize them.

Cacciaguida: There's Julie; there's Dorothy; that's Heather; Sarah; Angela; Laura; the other Angela; Melissa; Natalie....

Elinor: Do the guys have names too?

Cacciaguida: Hm. Don't know. Think it would be a good idea?

Saturday, May 08, 2004
Exam question:

"Law practice sucks." Discuss.

And discuss they do, here. If you read the post that starts the debate, be sure to read the comments as well.

'Bout time I linked to Davetown, and I hereby do.

Tsar she blows:

Russian coronation scene, ca. 1598, as reenacted at the Bolshoi Opera in a performance of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov on Sept. 13, 1997

Russian coronation scene, May 7, 2004, dead real. Click here for more.

Friday, May 07, 2004
The counter-McCarrick ad

Here's the American Life League ad directed at Cardinal McCarrick for his flaccid stand on communion and pro-abortion Catholics. I have mixed views on it.

First, it's a brilliant ad. And the first card it plays -- that the Passion establishes the Christian's only baseline entitlement to "comfort" -- is spot-on. (That's my first objection to the expression "death with dignity": the Passion is the most dignified death we can claim as of right; anything better is a gift from God.)

But second, I'm not sure about laypeople attacking bishops this way. Not that bishops are per se above criticism. My problem, rather, is that ads like this smack too much of the "we can't do anything until our bishops give us the lead" attitude. That's clericalist and no good. Laypeople have an obligation to act on the truth in the public arena even if they don't get support from their bishops.

But third, it's probably constructive to send the opinion-making world a signal that the bishops are subject to criticism from the (so to speak) "right" as well as from the (so to speak) "left". I think many in the mediacracy have this idea that the laity are uniformly pulling the hierarchy toward compromise and airheaded "reform", and that the bishops constitute a conservative force trying to hold back the liberal tide. To the extent pro-lifers can show that the tide is also pushing from the other direction, this may make it easier for bishops to follow the path blazed by Archbishops Burke, O'Malley, and Myers, and Bishop Galante and others.

On the whole -- two cheers for the American Life League!

Happy birthday, Elisabeth Soderstrom!

Swedish soprano superstar Elisabeth Soderstrom
(b. 1927), who, 44 years ago, put up with being
called "Aunt Bibeth" by -- me.

Heah come da judge. Try finding the good guys in this one.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Today at Morristown: Marine exercises, a lesson in hydration, and a "French Army Knife". (Good thing the State Department doesn't send inspectors around to Marine recruiting stations. Or read blogs.)

Wednesday, May 05, 2004
CNN Entertainment: Blondie finds it strange to be back
Legendary New Wave band continues to dig deep

Clem Burke, Debbie Harry, Chris Stein.
As they say, "Blondie is a band."
(And Jimmy Destri's in it too.)

From the article:

Blondie put new wave punk on the radar as they skipped among many styles, from reggae and rap to rock and disco....

Blondie's music was considered counterculture during the early '80s, when the band performed at the seminal CBGB club in New York. Now, Blondie argues, their brand of punk pop is mainstream....

Their latest effort, "The Curse of Blondie," is a throwback to the good old days. There's a Harry rap nestled in the song "Good Boys," and "Hello Joe" is a tribute to fellow punk Joey Ramone....

And what's the part about "digging deep"? Chris thinks it's about time rock developed a sense of history: "We were referencing a lot of stuff when we first came out like Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones," said guitarist Chris Stein. "But young kids aren't going back far enough, they aren't getting to the real meat of things by only using us or someone else from that time as a reference."

Like the legendary Land of Green Ginger, Blondie comes and goes: "Blondie's always been a concept piece," Burke said. "We go do other things, and always come back to it."

Don't know about you, but I read this Washington Post interview with John Updike as a marvelously subtle takedown. From beginning...

The Grayed American Writer is walking . . .
No. The writer is strolling.
No. Ambling. That's the precise word. John Updike is ambling down Blossom Street in Boston. end...

Now it's time for Updike to run. He reaches for the folder and tucks it under his arm. The working title of the novel is "Villages." It's a story about an aging computer programmer, he says, and about "a life's education via the towns you live in."
By education, he means a philosophical construct to help us stay amused and amazed in this strange and changing world. By towns, he means places like Shillington, Pa., Ipswich and Beverly.
And by you, he doesn't mean you, of course. He means Updike.

...the Bard of Bored gets cut to ribbons and he never feels a thing. Nice work, Washington Post staff writer Linton Weeks!

Bishop Joseph Galante, the new Bishop of Camden, NJ, says no communion for "Catholic" pro-abort Gov. Jim McGreevey. (Via De Fidei Obedientia)

And not only that -- Bishop Francis DiLorenzo, soon to take over as Bishop of Richmond but, for now, still Bishop of Honolulu, is making the round trip from Hawaii to Camden for Bishop Galante's installation. Let's hope this is not only because they're both Philadelphia guys.

EDITED TO ADD: That is, Bishop DiLorenzo made the round trip etc. etc. (At 300 lbs., he's something of a round trip himself.)

The Counter-Reconquista continues

In Spain, which recently changed governments to appease terrorists, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is removing a statute of St. James decapitating saracen invaders, because -- you could write this yourself -- it might offend the "sensitivities of other ethnic groups."

Ironically, Compostela is in the one region of Spain that they didn't conquer last time.

Do people still make pilgrimages to Compostela -- and if they do, do they now call it a hajj?

Via The Curt Jester.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Oh, er, uh, yeah, shucks....

Word is starting to get 'round, so I thought I'd confirm it: I've been granted tenure. Solo Deo gloria.

Where I teach, tenure isn't lifetime security: it's subject to five-year review. Also, a promotion does not come with it; that's separate. Still, yeah, it's cool. In fact, it's great.

Political roundup

John Fund on Democrats' "buyer's remorse": One of his sources says, "No one's saying that Mr. Kerry's cooked. But McGovern parallels give him a toasted look he didn't get skiing in Sun Valley."

Also, on today's WSJ op-ed page (not online yet except by subscription), John O'Neill, veteran of Coastal Division 11, 1969-70, holder of multiple decorations earned in the 'Nam, says: "I was on Mr. Kerry's boat in Vietnam. He doesn't deserve to be commander in chief."

Meanwhile, Conservative leader Michael Howard is lookin' good to be Brits' next PM.

Sunday, May 02, 2004
Panda Pregnancy Watch Begins:
Playful Duo Renews Annual Hopes for a Cub

Triumph of hope over experience.

Caddy me beck to ewld Vahginny

You wouldn't guess it from her blog, but Elinor is a huge fan of Brit-coms, especially To the Manor Born (my favorite), Are You Being Served, AbFab, and Keeping Up Appearances. Of course I like them too, and/but (do I want the adversative here? I wonder) they constitute a weapon near to hand if I'm ever accused of malforming Cacciadelia's tastes. (She is nine year old, you'll remember.)

The other day the whole rest of the family (i.e. all but me) watched an episode of KUA in which a relative of Hyacinth's is on the rebound from one of her tragic love affairs. Later I found Cacciadelia, who has always had an ear for punchlines and dialect (like her Brideshead namesake, who "had an aptitude for mimicry, I remembered, in the schoolroom") repeating, complete with lower-middle-class faux-Oxbridge accent, "I'm gewing beck to being a vahgin!"

Saturday, May 01, 2004

American mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners: just for the record, this sucks.

What lessons? One is that there are sadistic lowlives in every crowd, which is why no totalitarian state, of whatever nominal position on the political spectrum, ever has any difficulty staffing its security and interrogation services with "experts". I like to think that the blend of democratic and timocratic man that we try to create in the U.S. minimizes the occurrence of such people, but it would be naive to think it succeeds all the time.

Punishments should, and I trust will, be meted out -- making us one of the very, very few nations in the world that deals out punishments, and not promotions, for such behavior.