Month: November 2007

Looking for Blogs

I have an odd request this time: I’m looking for the best Catholic blogs that don’t get updated every day or even regularly. These might be hard to find, since irregular posting usually means low popularity. Still, if you know of a talented blogger out there that adds fresh content only sporadically–a couple of times a week, five-ten times a month–I’d like to hear about him (or her, of course). … Read the rest

Brews You Can Use

A neat assortment of beer pictures. The blogger says they’re Christmas beer pictures, but the scope doesn’t seem quite that narrow.
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Conviviality’s last stand. People may be bowling alone, but they’re drinking together: The American Homebrewers Association reports that more than 1,900 brewers and would-be brewers participated in Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day earlier this month.
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Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal provided this week’s feature BYCU: Trappist beer. I hate to sound affected, but it’s one of the most beautiful beer stories I’ve ever read. Excerpts:

Their brew, offered in strengths up to 10.2% alcohol by volume, is among the most highly prized in the world. In bars from Brussels to Boston, and online, it sells for more than $15 for an 11-ounce bottle — 10 times what the monks ask — if you can get it.

For the 26 monks at St. Sixtus, however, success has brought a spiritual hangover as they fight to keep an insatiable market in tune with their life of contemplation.

The monks are doing their best to resist getting bigger. They don’t advertise and don’t put labels on their bottles. They haven’t increased production since 1946. They sell only from their front gate. You have to make an appointment and there’s a limit: two, 24-bottle cases a month. Because scarcity has created a high-priced gray market online, the monks search the net for resellers and try to get them to stop.

“We sell beer to live, and not vice versa,” says Brother Joris, the white-robed brewery director. . . .

“No question, it is the holy grail of beers,” says Remi Johnson, manager of

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Polish Ad Controversy and Sundry

Ad controversy in Poland: The 30-second animated commercial depicts the Magi visiting the Christ Child, with a 4th wise man bearing Red Bull. The ad doesn’t offend me, but doggone it, why must the corporate advertisers trivialize (and thereby debase) everything? I assume they simply run out of ideas, so they reach to areas they ought not. It’s just further evidence how the single-minded pursuit of money puts all other considerations in the trough.
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In praise of the Wii. “I hear Wii bowling is all the rage at nursing homes. What a great idea!”

I gotta get one. Honey, if you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas . . .
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Jealous of rich people? Thomas Sowell says “just wait awhile”:

Americans in the top one percent, like Americans in most income brackets, are not there permanently, despite being talked about and written about as if they are an enduring “class” — especially by those who have overdosed on the magic formula of “race, class and gender,” which has replaced thought in many intellectual circles.

At the highest income levels, people are especially likely to be transient at that level. Recent data from the Internal Revenue Service show that more than half the people who were in the top one percent in 1996 were no longer there in 2005. . . .

Most Americans in the top fifth, the bottom fifth, or any of the fifths in between, do not stay there for a whole decade, much less for life. And most certainly do not remain permanently in the top one percent or the top one-hundredth of one percent.

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And it’s … Read the rest

Black Wednesday Again?

It’s not black because of drinking. It’s black because Charter Communications has once again gone down. In all fairness to Charter, it’s been months since it has gone down, but (i) if experience is an indicator, this crash portends a series of crashes over the next couple of weeks, (ii) this crash started 1:30ish on Tuesday afternoon and was still going strong Tuesday night, and (iii) it covered a 25-mile-or-longer swath along U.S. 12 in southern Michigan. I think this crash is a doozy, and I’m not optimistic the service will be up-and-running any time soon. I am typing this post Tuesday night via a cellphone card that I insert into my computer. Pretty nifty, but pretty costly, too. It belongs to my law office, but I forgot to return it yesterday when I got back to town.

Anyway, there probably won’t be any blogging on Wednesday. Thank Charter.
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Why I’m investing in Far East Exchange Traded Funds:

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Tuesday Trifles

The sterile environmentalists. One of the top ten short (under 250 words) blog posts of the year.
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Op-ed of the day: Families are good for cities and cities better be good to families. Excerpt:

Married people with children tend to be both successful and motivated, precisely the people who make economies go. They are twice as likely to be in the top 20% of income earners, according to the Census, and their incomes have been rising considerably faster than the national average.

Indeed, if you talk with recruiters and developers in the nation’s fastest growing regions, you find that the critical ability to lure skilled workers, long term, lies not with bright lights and nightclubs, but with ample economic opportunities, affordable housing and family friendly communities not too distant from work. . . .

There is a basic truth about the geography of young, educated people. They may first migrate to cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston or San Francisco. But they tend to flee when they enter their child-rearing years. Family-friendly metropolitan regions have seen the biggest net gains of professionals, largely because they not only attract workers, but they also retain them through their 30s and 40s.

Advocates of the brew-latté-and-they-will-come approach often point to greater Portland, Ore., which has experienced consistent net gains of educated workers, including families. Yet most of that migration–as well as at least three quarters of the region’s population and job growth–has been not to the increasingly childless city, but to the suburban periphery. This pattern holds true in virtually every major urban region.

Contrary to popular belief, moreover, the family is far from

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Monday Miscellany

Whew, whirlwind weekend. We went [the “w” alliteration ends now] to Detroit Thursday afternoon to see my wife’s family: First a stop in Livonia at her aunt’s, then to her parents’ in Grosse Pointe Woods. Friday morning, Grosse Pointe parade, followed by a trip to Old Country Buffet (eat till you burst or vomit), then hungout with family during the afternoon and evening. Saturday, we went to Ford Field to see a football team from my region (Mendon) play in the high school championship game, drove around Detroit (okay, we were slumming), got pizza, hung around the house with family. Sunday: Mass, cleaned my in-laws’ house and packed, then home.

Traveling has always tired me, but trips with seven children are simply grueling, especially with Tess (terribly tornadoish two) and her sidekick Max (4). I’m starting this post on Sunday night because I’m not sure I’ll be able to roll out of bed early enough Monday morning to blog much.
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Pretty cool: Masquerade: The amazing camouflage deceptions of World War II that details the ingenious ways that the Allies used camouflage to fool the Nazis, everything from hidden gun-encampments to inflatable tanks and trucks. Via.
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Coming to a First Amendment Center near you: A 14-year-old New Zealand girl nearly lost her eyesight when her eyes were gouged by relatives in a Maori exorcism ceremony in which her cousin died, a report said Monday. The girl is recovering after emergency operations on her eyes to save her sight after relatives scratched at her eyes to remove the devil.
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Thank goodness: The Pope is considering a dramatic overhaul of the Vatican Read the rest

Something for Saturday Morning

Not using Catholic schools? Have you read the Church documents on the issue? I never had, except for a few stray sentences here and there. This article reproduces excerpts from the relevant documents. I found it quite eye-opening. I knew the Church supported Catholic schools, but not to the extent indicated by these excerpts. The documents would appear to establish a fairly heavy presumption in favor of using Catholic schools (it doesn’t say that, but when it refers to them as “irreplaceable” and important to forming the “whole man,” it’s obvious the Church places quite a premium on them).

I realize the issue of Catholic schools is rather inflammatory, and not just among the progressive set that, no matter what their religious affiliation, are secularist to the core when it comes to everything that matters in their personal lives. Many orthodox Catholics don’t like parochial schools. A literary set I ran with said the schools almost killed their faith back in the 1960s through 1980s: liberal nuns or mean nuns made the Church horrible to them. Today, many Catholic schools are elitist. They offer a few scholarships to the poor, but for the mass of people, they are simply out-of-reach. And then there are the handful of homeschoolers, for whom no education outside the home is acceptable.

Catholics who decline to use Catholic education for those reasons–secularist/worldly approach, tuition problems, valuing home schooling–I understand. Catholics who decline for petty reasons–better sports programs, their friends go to public schools–puzzle me. Of course, most people make decisions based on an array of factors so it’s never a good idea to condemn someone’s choice. … Read the rest