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.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Hurricane: civil order gone in New Orleans

I hate to push Meredith and James Joyce below first-screen-level so soon, but worse things happen in hurricanes. In fact, they are happening, down in New Orleans. About Last Night, mainting links to Katrina-blogs alongside its arts coverage, reports:
New Orleans is in chaos, with looting and violence spreading throughout those remaining parts of the city not already covered by water due to as-yet-unrepaired breaks in the levee system. Looting appaers to be especially severe in the French Quarter. A children's hospital is reportedly under siege by armed men, and the "entire gun collection" of a Wal-Mart in the Lower Garden District was stolen yesterday. Although the state constitution does not provide for martial-law declarations, Gov. Blanco has now asked the White House to send in federal troops to restore order. Four U.S. Navy ships have been sent to the region.
How ironic that I was just now teaching Hobbes to my Con Law students.

Eve gives us this link to a blogger with a handy list of reputable charities that will be involved in the recovery effort. From that list, I would especially underscore the American Red Cross (which has a big effort underway) and Catholic Charities USA. Also, the Archdiocese of Miami has a Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund: 9401 Biscayne Blvd., Miami Shores, FL 33138.

Why Miami rather than dioceses closer to the events? Maybe because those dioceses are themselves incommunicado and substantially under water (using the term "water" rather loosely to include to varieties of toxic Joker-juice that tend to accumulate when industrial areas are flooded: did you know that dehydration is one of the most widespread dangers caused by flooding?). CNN reports:
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin told CNN Wednesday that communication was a problem for authorities trying to coordinate the relief efforts -- cell phone service was down, e-mail wasn't working and most of their radio systems had dead batteries.

He said that the city was practically cut off, saying that bridges leading into the city were destroyed and that a key interstate was more like a "jigsaw puzzle," missing large slabs of concrete.
There's more Katrina news at Catholic Girl Talk -- including a statue of Our Lord outside the New Orleans Cathedral that "walked on water" when the floodtide came up to, but not over, its feet....

Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Meredith of Basia Me, Catholica Sum gives us a guide to writing your own Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

And why is it, btw, that the best Catholic commentary on Joyce comes from a Christendom sophomore writing in the comment boxes of her own blog? --
I eat up the prose in Dubliners and PotA like pink mochi ice cream, and the wild world of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake has its own weird fascination, rather like the obscurer bits of Hopkins - but there is always something cold, fey, and slippery about Joyce which puts me off.... Sure you could argue that PotA isn't anti-Catholic - but all the good things he says about Catholicism are sort of sly backhanded compliments. It amuses me, though, that everyone treats him so solemnly and reverently when he himself was so thouroughly cunning and irreverent.

Monday, August 29, 2005
CWN: Pope meets traditionalist bishop
....Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the director of the Vatican press office, reported that the meeting had been held "in a climate of love for the Church and a desire to arrive at perfect communion." He said that the Pope and Bishop Fellay were hoping to make gradual progress in overcoming differences, so that a full agreement could be reached "in a reasonable time."

....In a July interview, Bishop Fellay said that he wanted to meet with Pope Benedict, and ask him to give permission for all Catholic priests throughout the world to use the Tridentine rite in celebrating Mass. He said that he would also ask the Pontiff to rescind the decrees of excommunication for himself and the other bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988.

Informed Vatican officials speculate that Pope Benedict may be prepared to grant the traditionalist request for a "universal indult" allowing the use of the Tridentine rite.
Papabile thinks the Holy Father wanted this meeting before to the October Synod on the Eucharist, because some sort of "reform plan for the Pian Rite" could "emanate" from that meeting.

Beheading of John the Baptist, Martyr. Shall we dance?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Non-Nuke Incendiaries Ignored Amid A-Bomb Handwringing

Napalm: "What am I, chopped liver?"

LeMay: "We fried more than twice as many!"

While we've been examining our consciences and for the most part deciding -- correctly, imo -- that it was wrong to nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki, too much emphasis has been laid on the method of delivery, rather than what was delivered.

The "what" was fiery death and mutilation. These can be delivered by huge exploding cannisters of jellied gasoline (napalm), or by nuclear device. It's typical of American liberalism to focus on the device rather than intent and causation. In fact, nukes don't fry people -- people fry people. And intentionally targeting noncombatants is wrong, no matter how it is done.

I've seen a lot of defenses of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in the conservative press. With no exceptions, these arguments have all been nakedly consequentialist: i.e. it is claimed or assumed that there are no inherently evil acts, that "evil" can only be assessed in terms of consequences, and that the lives spared by avoiding the necessity (and I'll concede that it would have been a necessity) of invading the Japanese home islands justifies the deliberate annihilation of noncombatants.

Unless I and the Catholic natural law theorists I know are gravely mistaken, it is simply Catholic Ethics 101 that consequentialism, also called proportionalism, is inadmissible. To merely hint at why, consider that were it otherwise, every abortion would be subject to a results-based balancing test, and many would pass. Or at least many would believe that many would pass, which is why "Catholic" ethicists who accept consequentialism tend to be "personally opposed but...." That is, if they're "opposed" at all.

But -- and this is what I'm trying to get across -- the massive firebomb attacks on Tokyo and Yokahama, which deliberately targeted civilians in order to undermine enemy morale, raise exactly the same issues as H&N, and were wrong for exactly the same reasons. Gen. Curtis LeMay, architect of American firebombing campaigns in World War II, bragged that his B29s, dropping napalm, killed more than twice as many people as both nukes put together. (His actual words were "boiled and baked." My source for this is James Bradley's Flyboys. In fairness to LeMay, he also organized the Berlin Airlift. He could deliver food as well as fire.)

An inherently evil act, such as intentionally killing noncombatants, is illicit when intended either as an end (e.g. we just want to kill those people) or as a means (e.g. we'd rather not kill those people but we have to in order to demoralize the enemy high command, eliminate future soldiers, or whatever).

Otoh, when the result in question (here, the death of noncombatants) is neither an end nor a means but rather a foreseen but undesired side effect, then it may be licit under the principle of double effect. E.g., a bomb -- even a nuke -- may be aimed at a military target with as much precision as technologically feasible; it is likely that some noncombatants will be killed, but this is a side effect that is undesired and is neither end nor means. In this narrow sense, using nuclear bombs may be licit, but the use of them on Hiroshima could not have been. (The same would go for Nagasaki, unless, as Jonathan Lee once told me, the actual target that day was in fact military, but the targeting was thrown off by bad weather.)

It seems to me the moral evaluation should focus on the act -- killing noncombatants -- and not on the means chosen to carry it out. It doesn't necessarily make me happy to say so, but alongside the national self-examination about H&N, we need to see more about the B29s and the napalm.

(A long post by Dave Armstrong, reflecting multiple viewpoints, but weighted toward soundness, is here. Also, Fr. Jim explains it all for you.)

Washington Post reports, page one, on popular resistance to China's one-child policy.

Friday, August 26, 2005
Chicago Tribune: Abortion foes say experts' affiliations affected their study of fetal pain--and should have been disclosed
A research article about when fetuses feel pain is sparking a heated debate over the nexus between science and politics and what information authors should disclose to scientific journals.

The report, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed previously published research and concluded that fetuses probably don't feel pain until 29 weeks after conception because of their developing brain structures.

Undisclosed was the fact that one of the five authors runs an abortion clinic at San Francisco's public hospital and another worked temporarily more than five years ago for an abortion-rights advocacy group. [Emphasis added]

I'm going to keep an eye on Michael Yon: Online Magazine (subhed: "From 'There is actually good reporting coming from Iraq -- check out Michael Yon's blog, for example. And it's possible to get a clearer picture of the strategic picture than most big media accounts provide"). Yon's work is described by "Vanderleun" at American Digest as "beyond the level of the Pulitzer Prize. Far, far beyond. He shames all 'traditional' journalists 'working in' Iraq." If I decide I agree, I'll put him in the blogroll.

Meanwhile, John Hinderaker at Power Line makes the point (it's hardly new, but it bears repeating) that American public opinion would never have sustained World War II if the media had reported on it the way they report on war today; i.e., as if casualties were the only newsworthy facts. (From the point of view of some, that would be/have been a good thing: e.g. Lindberghite America-Firsters, German-American-Bund members, and fans of

Here, the Ratzinger Fan Club gives us an assortment of sources on Just War Theory as applied to Iraq, from Popes to pundits, expressing a wide variety of views. Hat-tip: Christopher Blosser, in a combox comment at The Pope Blog.

Thursday, August 25, 2005
CNS: Pope to meet with head of schismatic Lefebvrites
The head of the schismatic Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, was scheduled to meet with Pope Benedict XVI in late August.

A Vatican official who asked not to be identified told Catholic News Service Aug. 23 that the meeting between the pope and Bishop Fellay would take place Aug. 29 at Castel Gandolfo, the pope's summer residence outside Rome....

A warm greeting to whoever's on this blog right now from the domain Thanks for all you do! Like my son says: "Maybe you can be one of us -- and if you can't, be all you can be." KIDDDDDD-ING!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Blogfind: But God's First. Welcome!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Photo spread of the wind at the Cologne airport taking the Holy Father's yahmulke into orbit. (Via Whispers in the Loggia -- a liberal and snarky blog, but informative; and I can't convincingly object to snark....)

Monday, August 22, 2005
ABC fires talk host for offending Islam. More here on CAIR as a terrorist front, courtesy of Power Line.

First day of Constitutional Law I
You are here to learn the subtle science and vague art of constitutional decision-making. As there is little foolish rule-following here, many of you will hardly believe this is law. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the rapidly growing cert-pool with its shimmering issues, the delicate liquid of power that creeps through judicial veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses....
I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death -- but we won't get to most of that until Con Law II.

Saturday, August 20, 2005
Lidless Eye Inquisition on possible changes in the Missal:
But it gets even better: Pope Benedict personally pencilled in some changes -- changes not just to the English translation, but apparently to the Latin text of the Roman Missal. One of those changes is a return to TWO Confiteors instead of one. Also, it seems the Confiteor will return to something very close to the pre-1970 form* -- i.e., it seems that the names eliminated from the Confiteor's "litany" will be restored. (The seminarian wasn't sure on that point, because he didn't have the Missal translation in front of him at the time. I'll get to verify these things he's told me next week, and then I'll post a follow-up comment -- if any of this information is wrong, I'll correct it then.)

*The pre-1970 form of the Confiteor runs:
Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatae Mariae semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistae, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, et omnibus Sanctis, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatum Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, et omnes Sanctos, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.


St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Friday, August 19, 2005

One flew over the crow's nest.

Over in Britain, Lord Tebbitt, Conservative Party chairman during Mrs. Thatcher's glory days, throws down the gauntlet to party "modernisers."

Thursday, August 18, 2005
"Cindy Sheehan does not speak for me." Ronald Griffin, father of Spc. Kyle Andrew Griffin, killed in a truck accident on a road between Mosul and Tikrit on May 30, 2003, speaks out in The Wall Street Journal.
The amazing part about talking to the people left behind is that I did not want them to stop. After speaking to so many I have come away with the certainty of their conviction that in a large measure it's because of the deeds and sacrifices of their fallen heroes that this is a better and safer world we now live in.

Those who lost their lives believed in the mission. To honor their memory, and because it's right, we must believe in the mission, too.

We refuse to allow Cindy Sheehan to speak for all of us.
Read the whole thing.

EDITED TO ADD -- Ann Coulter:
Call me old-fashioned, but a grief-stricken war mother shouldn't have her own full-time PR flack. After your third profile on "Entertainment Tonight," you're no longer a grieving mom; you're a C-list celebrity trolling for a book deal or a reality show.

We're sorry about Ms. Sheehan's son, but the entire nation was attacked on 9/11. This isn't about her personal loss. America has been under relentless attack from Islamic terrorists for 20 years, culminating in a devastating attack on U.S. soil on 9/11. It's not going to stop unless we fight back, annihilate Muslim fanatics, destroy their bases, eliminate their sponsors and end all their hope.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005
What if T.S. Eliot had written Harry Potter? Via Eve, uvvvvvvvvvvvv course. Gevalt. I'm sometimes accused of having too much time on my hands. I don't, but I'm glad some people do. (I don't mean Eve, who doesn't; I mean the people who Potterized the entire Waste Land.)

Dahlia Lithwick writes in Slate:
I am enormously confident, however, that John Roberts has never smoked pot. And I know this because I knew guys like him in college and at law school; we all knew guys like him. These were the guys who were certain, by age 19, that they couldn't smoke pot, or date trampy girls, or throw up off the top of the school clock tower because it would impair their confirmation chances. They would have done all these things, but for the possibility of being carved out of the history books for it.
I knew people like that. Did you? (Not that there's anything wrong with it....)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Elinor on the secret of my school's success. (I shouldn'a told yeh that....)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Proof either that Blondie still has cultural cachet, or that Blondie fans now read The Economist: an article on the telecom biz in the 7/30/05 issue uses "Hanging on the Telephone" as a subhed.

Harvard to explore origins of life. Oh, that'll help.

Sunday, August 14, 2005
Don't get mad, get Ramadi

Remember the fear that Sunnis and Shiites would team up against us? Well, The W.Post reports that in one town, they're teaming up -- against the jihadists:
BAGHDAD, Aug. 14 -- Rising up against insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, Iraqi Sunni Muslims in Ramadi fought with grenade launchers and automatic weapons Saturday to defend their Shiite neighbors against a bid to drive them from the western city, Sunni leaders and Shiite residents said....

Saturday, August 13, 2005
Carl Olson and Barbara Nicolosi report their experiences being interviewed by New York Times reporter Sharon Waxman for a story on The Da Vinci Code:

I mentioned my first book, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"? She asked if I liked the Left Behind books and I assured her that I did not. "Oh, really?" she exclaimed in surprise. All I can figure is that she thought that since I was a Christian of some sort I must like the Left Behind books.
Barbara gives us her experience in dialogue form:
Barb: I heard that the studio execs behind The Da Vinci Code are worried that some Christians are going to put them on a hit list. Someone claimed to have gotten death threats during the making of The Last Temptation of Christ. It's so ridiculous. We aren't the ones who throw bombs.

NYTimes Reporter: (paraphrase) Well, there are as many Christians out there throwing bombs as Muslims. Look at all the bombings Christians do of abortion clinics.

I didn't take it further because, well, it was such an astoundingly bizarre statement that I - for once - was rendered mute. Here's what I would have said if I could speak at the moment: "HUH!!? ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDING ME?! AS MANY CHRISTIANS THROWING BOMBS AS THE HOURLY SUICIDE BOMBING NUTJOBS WHO THINK KILLING MAKES GOD SMILE?! ARE YOU SMOKING CRACK?!"...or something erudite like that.

Mid-air collisions are generally avoided at nearby LaGuardia Airport, but evidently not at the Mets' Shea Stadium. We wish a quick recovery to Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron.

What's been going on lately at The Rat? Lots and lots of cool stuff, it turns out, including the Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Test. (N.B. This quiz resides on a dating site, but you don't have to go near that part of the site to take the quiz.)

Yes, based on evidence that the Geng-guy has 16 million descendants today, 32 generations after his own time, a young lady with too much time on her hands (not The Rat herself, who always uses her time well) has devised a quiz to figure out how successful you or I will be at spreading our genes. Here's my result:

307,570 descendants

- you're more genetically fit than 55% of the current population -

Not bad. You're no Mongol warlord, but to have that many copies of your genetic code running around 800 years from now is pretty impressive.

You're in the lower middle of the scoring spectrum, but, honestly, when you consider that the cheaters, swindlers, and football players of this world are statistically best-equipped to create children, scoring low is something to be proud of. As you'll see below, some of your lines will die out, but nonetheless your genetic material will thrive here on earth for a long time to come.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on fitnessfactor

Yes, it seems that in a completely amoral analysis of genetic projection potential, being Catholic and allowing this to affect one's contraceptive practices (i.e., ix-nay) more than compensates for being Catholic and allowing this to affect one's tomcatting practices (i.e, you guessed it, ix-nay). Good to know.

Friday, August 12, 2005
The Wall St. Journal's Daniel Henninger went to Brook Park, OH, to visit the "spontaneous memorial tribute to 19 Marines from the 325th [i.e. 3rd Marines, 25th Div.], most of them from Ohio, who were killed near the Euphrates River in western Iraq last week." He reports:
Someone had decided to put down on the ground an article published just three weeks ago in the News-Herald, a nearby newspaper. "All I can ask," wrote Marine Cpl. Jacob Arnett, who is still on duty in Iraq, "is that the American people be given more than the bombings and daily death toll, because we are giving much more than that for Iraq."
For more on the "much more than that," we turn to a post at Iraq the Model, addressed to Cindy Sheehan. But first, a little about Ms. Sheehan. She is, of course, a bereaved war mother. She is also very well connected with the organized Left, as detailed here at It Shines For All, the blog of The New York Sun.

From Iraq the Model's open letter to Ms. Sheehan:
Ma'am, we asked for your nation's help and we asked you to stand with us in our war and your nation's act was (and still is) an act of ultimate courage and unmatched sense of humanity. Our request is justified, death was our daily bread and a million Iraqi mothers were expecting death to knock on their doors at any second to claim someone from their families. Your face doesn't look strange to me at all; I see it everyday on endless numbers of Iraqi women who were struck by losses like yours.

Our fellow country men and women were buried alive, cut to pieces and thrown in acid pools and some were fed to the wild dogs while those who were lucky enough ran away to live like strangers and the Iraqi mother was left to grieve one son buried in an unfound grave and another one living far away who she might not get to see again.

We did nothing to deserve all that suffering, well except for a dream we had; a dream of living like normal people do.

We cried out of joy the day your son and his comrades freed us from the hands of the devil and we went to the streets not believing that the nightmare is over. We practiced our freedom first by kicking and burning the statues and portraits of the hateful idol who stole 35 years from the life of a nation. For the first time air smelled that beautiful, that was the smell of freedom....

We are in need for every hand that can offer some help. Please pray for us, I know that God listens to mothers' prayers and I call all the women on earth to pray with you for peace in this world.

Your son sacrificed his life for a very noble cause…No, he sacrificed himself for the most precious value in this existence; that is freedom.

His blood didn't go in vain; your son and our brethren are drawing a great example of selflessness. God bless his free soul and God bless the souls of his comrades who are fighting evil. God bless the souls of Iraqis who suffered and died for the sake of freedom. God bless all the freedom lovers on earth.

Can hardly wait to miss this.

Don Armstrong described Shane's mischievous method of getting his father-in-law alone to discuss the plan. "He called up and said he had car trouble and he wanted to come and go for a ride. And I hopped in and he said, 'Take off.' And, and I started listening to the motor. And he goes, 'No, no. I want to talk to you about something,'" he said.

"He wanted my permission, to marry my daughter. And I said I would be proud to give it to him. Yes, it was a moving time," Don Armstrong said.
L.Cpl. Shane Kielion, USMC, RIP

Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Feast of St. Lawrence -- always a big day at San Lorenzo del Escorial.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005
The Portable Potter

LiveJournal presents the condensed version of the first three Harry Potter movie scripts, with added snark (and even more from me). (N.B. -- A 'shipper is an advocate, usually insane, of one or another possible romantic relationship among the characters. The apostrophe is important as it stands in for "relation.")



Hagrid: Let's get some money - and some elixir of life -I mean *cough* just money.
Harry: What’s that?
Hagrid: What’s what?
Harry: That!
Hagrid: What?
Harry: That bag!
Hagrid: What bag?
Harry: Hagrid! That small bag that looks like it would fit a small stone-
Hagrid: Is this your first time in a Novel or do you really not understand the concept of subtle foreshadowing?

Ron: I need a famous best friend who will be loyal to me but sometimes make me insanely jealous. Oh look, there's a contender!
Harry: Hi! Wanna see where I was almost murdered?
Ron: Heck yes I do.
Hermione: I know I’m a snot but you guys are going to need me in your club to make up for your incredibly low IQ’s.

Ron: Remind me why we wanted to come in here again? Is it because we wanted to be eaten? Because quite frankly, I like living.
Hermione: Don’t you understand? JKR gives you clues along the story that help us to solve the overall mystery.
JKR: *Beams with pride*
Ron: I understand the concept, but it’s YOUR job to rationalize and MY job to flip out and provide comedic relief for the audience, get with the program Hermione.

Troll: I’m ugly, fat, and illiterate, but at least I have this kick-ass club that I can hit things with!
Hermione: If anyone saves me I promise I’ll take the blame for their misdoings.
Ron: To increase the “aww” factor I’m going to use the very spell that Hermione “helped” me with.
Harry: This is certainly gross. Who wants troll bogeys all over their magic wand?
American Viewers: Bogeys? What kind of word is that?
[Cacciaguida: It's sort of like "philosopher."]


Harry: Um. Where in the flip am I? Ooooo! A rotting hand!
Hand: I’m soooo not alive…*Wink Wink*
Harry: Oh come on that was the most predictable thing so far…
HPFans: Not really Harry, it wasn’t in the book…

Harry: If I weren’t scared to death I would really appreciate this stone-work.
Ginny: *lifeless*
Harry: I can’t come back without you!!!
Harry/Ginny 'shippers: *On edges of their seats*
[Cacciaguida: Hey, he's twelve, she's eleven. Get a life!]

Harry: How many people can say they’ve climbed all over Salazar Slytherin's face?
Sword: *Clang* *Clash* *Swish*
Audience: Does anyone else find it strange that the basilisk died from a wound in its mouth?
[Cacciaguida: Has anyone else ever seen SIEGFRIED? Dragons die any old way they have to.]


Lupin: You have your mother's-
Harry: Eyes?
Lupin: Yeah those.
Harry: 'K, you’re like the 80th person to say that. I’m starting to suspect that it’s going to be important in the story.
JKR: Not as stupid as you look are ya Harry?

Dementor: I still want that soul, deadbeat!
Sirius: I can’t take this trauma, time for me to pass out.
Harry: You had better wake up! No way hozay am I going back to the Dursleys now that I know I can live in your hell hole.
Dementor: Pucker Up!
People who haven’t read the book: Ah! Oh my gosh Sirius is gona lose his soul to those demented things!
HP fans: Calm down. He dies later…
Patronus: I’m so glad the producers caved on my back-up chorus idea, it makes me seem so much cooler! Take my silvery force field!
Dementor: You know what? I’m not even in the mood for soul - let’s bail!

Harry: *Clunk*
Hermione: *Clunk* (On top of Harry)
Hermione: Where do you suppose this goes?
Harry/Hermione 'shippers: We know exactly where it goes.
Ron/Hermione 'shippers: She’s talking about the hallway. DUH!
[Cacciaguida: Will you people shut up?
Harry/Hermione 'shippers: We're still sore about Book 6.]

Hero biz:
Siegfried fights Fafner the Dragon
at the Seattle Opera -- on stage, not film

Rick is rockin'! And he's using his Blackberry to keep track of all the nasty names he gets called. Presidential timbre, you've got to admit.

Monday, August 08, 2005
Dizzy Miss Skizzy

I was just glancing at this bit of Lefebvrist polemic, and was both surprised and pleased to see that the chap makes arguments that I had long thought these people made, yet also thought that even they were too smart to make.
If you read up on what Pope SAINT Pius V says on the Tridentine Mass (to be the Mass of all time... to the end of the world) and what Pope SAINT Pius X says backing this up, then TWO POPES both SAINTS seem to insist on it to a point of grave necessity for the continuation of the Faith in Catholic souls.
First, a Pope's canonization adds nothing to the authority of his juridical acts as Pope. The authority of those acts comes from his the fact of his being Pope, not from his personal sanctity, thank God. The juridical acts of Alexander VI are just as valid as those of Pius V or X. If you have a problem with that, you may be a Donatist.

Second, while Pope St. Pius V certainly had authority to make the Roman ("Tridentine") liturgy normative for the entire Latin Church (though query whether the near-suppression of the Sarum, Mozarabic, Ambrosian, and other local rites was a good idea), it's not at all clear to me where he gets the power to bind his successors in this matter.

Perhaps the very fact that the period in which the "Tridentine" rite was virtually suppressed turned out to be quite short (1970-1984 -- barely an eyelash-bat in the context of Church history) vindicates Pius V's declaration that this is indeed the rite of the ages. But I can't see that Paul VI was lacking in authority to make changes in it, as other popes had made other changes in it (admittedly less extensive ones) over the centuries. (This is not to say that Pope Paul's changes were, um, the ones I would have made if my opinion had been asked. There are reasons why I have the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei in my blogroll. Then again, I'm sure there are reasons why I'm not Pope.)

Anyway, some folks need to worry more about their spiritual lives and less about Church crypto-history. Liturgical activism is not a form of interior life; in fact it tends to drive out the real thing by undermining faith and promoting sloth, which, classically defined, is sadness about the things of God. Sloth is highly compatible with activism, btw.

Sunday, August 07, 2005
Please pray for Jonathan Lee.

He's dealing with a hand infection that the corpsmen are having a hard time curing him of. His number one fear is that it won't be healed in time for him to deploy to Iraq next month. I share that fear for his sake -- he wants so much to go -- but I also fear for his overall health. When he was five, he had a bad case of poison ivy plus chicken pox, though that healed and left only minor scarring.

"I might suggest asking the intercession of St. Josemaria," writes JL. "I've heard that hands are his area of expertise."

The go-to guy, esp. for people who
need healthy hands for their professional work

Pom-pom time:
Fox: LONDON — British prosecutors said Sunday they would consider treason charges against any Islamic extremists who express support for terrorism...
Can we do George Galloway too?

Can't do it here, you say? Take another look at the Court's leading incitement case, Brandenburg v. Ohio....

Saturday, August 06, 2005
Two apparent gems by Prof. Peter Goodrich, of the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School at Yeshiva University; hat-tip: Legal Theory Blog.

1. "Friends in High Places: Amity and Agreement in Alsatia." Abstract:
When friends promise, what rights accrue?
None -- that's why we call them "friends" and not business partners, or, as the case may be, husband and wife. Oh but wait:
This article examines the history and doctrine that has made common law so unwilling to enforce amicable and specifically agreements between cohabitants. The roots of this curious disability lie shown to lie in theology and antique ecclesiastical case law. The unintended and undesirable consequences are then elaborated.
Well, if we get "common law" that deep into private relationships, at least "same sex marriage" will become rather superfluous, won't it? Also, Senate Democrats will have to revise their "right of privacy" rhetoric.

2. An irreproducibly pompous title, but it has to do with the supposed origins of the "mailbox rule" of Adams v. Lindsell, something all ickle firsties study in Contract Law: if a contract offer is valid, and someone with the power to accept ("offeree") drops an affirmative reply in the mailbox, the contract is formed at that point. I always thought this had to do with confidence in the British, and then American, postal service. But no:
This article authoritatively [!] resolves the mystery of the mailbox rule. Using historical sources from several jurisdictions the author argues that the origin of the postal rule derives from early cases of breach of promise to marry. The offeree was favored and protected because the offeree was a woman. When the roots of the doctrine were lost, the principle that the fiction expressed was also forgotten. The future of assumptions relating to the time of formation of agreement are then reviewed.
But wait -- I thought old-fashioned law was mean to women -- didn't Justice Brennan read us a stern lecture on that point in his plurality opinion in Frontiero? -- but here's you saying that women were "favored and protected," just as I had been raised to believe. The mind reels....

Radio Moscow linked to rumors against Pius XII.

Rolf Hochhuth, who wrote the influential anti-Pius play The Deputy, was what we used to call a card-carrier, was he not?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


I don't know if I should recommend Tom Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons or not, but I've read it and I think it has a lot going for it as a dark satire of much of modern elite campus life.

Writing in Academic Questions, the quarterly of the National Association of Scholars (not online), novelist Barbara Scrupski has some interesting remarks on it. Detailing the putdowns IACS received in the msm, her argument is this:
Tom Wolfe's earlier novels, Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full, which satirized the sorts of people liberals love to hate (Wall Street big shots, rich businessmen), were well received. However, this time around, he's taken on the very avatars of the liberal ethos, the practitioners of liberation -- college students at an elite university -- and delineated for his readers the verbal crudeness, toughness of manner, and emotional brutality that have been the result of liberals' great achievement, their construction of a world without constraints on impulse or personal will. For describing the actual outcome of this great experiment in freedom, Tom Wolfe must be anathematized. [Examples omitted -- C.]
I'd go one step further. Bonfire satirized not only Wall Street big shots, but also an object of liberal reverence: African-American inner-city "leaders." Interestingly, that heresy on Wolfe's part was tolerated. But when he goes after the culture of casual sex among elite youth, a literary burning at the stake is required. That, it seems, gets just too close to the heart of some project dear to the hearts of the sort of people who write and edit the many msm book reviews that Scrupski catalogues.

Readers of IACS may still object that Charlotte is too innocent to be credible, though her family background in Sparta (!), North Carolina (a real town, btw), is described in convincing and sympathetic detail; and in any event, too innocent for her own good. The latter is clearly true: the rigors of our era call for somehow decoupling virginity and cluelessness. But then, the ending is splendidly debatable, especially in light of the prologue (the experiment with the cats). Anyway, thanks to Barbara Scrupski and Academic Questions for clarifying the issue.

Conversation chez Cacciaguida: little actress

Just after watching a DVD of Gilbert & Sullivan's RUDDIGORE, Cacciadelia starts making a ruckus upstairs.

CACCIAGUIDA (portentously): Basingstoke!

CACCIADELIA (hangs head, walks toward her room): Basingstoke it is.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Fr. Bob Connor is blogging!

To the many of you who have been searching: the heroine of Bizet's THE PEARL FISHERS is Leïla.

And welcome to whoever got here by searching for "Bimba dagli occhi pieni di malia...."

Don Feder -- friend, columnist, and Orthodox Jew -- rounds up the anti-Roberts posturing and writes:
Lynn Neary – The National Public Radio “correspondent” sweetly suggested that Roberts could be a slave of the Vatican. “And he is a Roman Catholic, and that might affect the way he views an issue like abortion, for instance.” Why didn’t she just say “papist”?

Only when it’s Catholicism (and occasionally evangelical Protestantism) is religion considered an appropriate topic for polite political conversation.

Try very hard to imagine the following commentary about a hypothetical nominee: “And he is a member of the United Methodist Church – notorious for its elitist social values – and that might affect the way he views an issue like abortion, for instance.” Or, how about, “He’s a Reform Jew, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis thinks the Torah was delivered by Howard Dean at the last Democratic National Convention….”