Month: April 2014

Interesting

H.I.F.

As more Americans grow tired of the warped culture and government programs that are tilted ruthlessly against the middle class, more Americans “opt out” and go into isolation. This article examines the phenomenon, and also points out, “How we opt out makes a difference.” Do you opt out virtuously, like St. Benedict? Or selfishly, like Thoreau?

If you choose to opt out, consider St. Benedict’s path . . . the path of community. Just make it a small community: your family, your town. Heck, maybe just start by being nice to your spouse. … Read the rest

Fallon Late Night

“I want to say congrats to Chelsea Clinton. Last week she announced that she is expecting her first child,” Fallon said, setting up the joke. “That’s great. That’s great for her. If it is a girl, it will get some of Chelsea’s old hands-me-downs.”

“And if it is a boy,” he continued, “it will get some of Hillary’s.”… Read the rest

Monday

“[B]lowup risks-to-others are easily concealed owing to the growing complexity of modern institutions.” Nassim Taleb, Antifragile. A page later, Taleb writes, “I want to live happily in a world I don’t understand.” I combine those quotes with a consistent piece of investment advice that I have consistently seen online and in investment books: “Don’t invest money in things you don’t understand.”

Thing is, does anyone really understand anything about this modern economy, besides, of course, those people whose full-time job is to understand it?

Take a very simple example from a very simple “investment”: Like any responsible father, I carry term life insurance on myself. I understand the basic concept: If I die, my wife or kids get money and, because it’s simply “term” insurance (no investment/cash buildup value), it’s relatively cheap. But I’m wholly ignorant of actuarial matters. How do I know the premium is fair? I know what other insurance companies are charging, but that doesn’t tell me that the premium is fair. It only tells me that my insurance company is screwing me no worse than the other life insurance companies. And how financially sound is my life insurance company’s underwriter? I can look it up, but that doesn’t mean I understand how the rating company came to its conclusions (and we know the rating companies often lack integrity). In order to do that, I’d have to delve into the underwriter’s financials, including its investment portfolio, which would include investments I don’t understand (“What is that 2nd Tranch LLP Johnson Rod Preferred Option position about?”). The fact is, I don’t understand any investment outside a few basic things: cash, real estate, gardening supplies, and tradeables. So do I limit my investments to such things?

I honestly don’t know, but in this complex world, it would seem … Read the rest

Easter

“When the disciples saw the risen Christ, they beheld “him as a reality in the world, though no longer of it, respecting the order of the world, but Lord of its laws. To behold such reality was different and more than to see a tree or watch a man step through a doorway. To behold the risen Christ was an experience that burst the bounds of the ordinary. This explains the extraordinary wording of the texts: the strangeness of Christ’s ‘appearing,’ ‘vanishing,’ suddenly standing in the middle of a room or at someone’s side. Hence the abruptness, fragmentariness, oscillation, contradictoriness of the writing–the only true form for content so dynamic that no existing form can contain it.”

Romano Guardini… Read the rest

Humorous

H.I.F.

The 4chan online community has struck again. They spread word in their community that bestbookreads.com was holding an online vote on “What’s the one book that transformed your life forever?” The 4channers descended on the site and vote Mein Kampf number one and Mein Kampf, Special Banned Edition, number two. They also voted a few other colorful titles into the top 20. Pic here.

Humorous: A Mormon publication ran an article earlier this week, proud that The Book of Mormon was first on the list (4 channers also appear to have a “thing” for The Book of Mormon, which I don’t understand). It then added the following addendum a few days later:

Editor’s note: Voting is ongoing, and since this story was published Wednesday, the Book of Mormon has dropped to No. 4, and its location on the list will continue to change. As a warning, some of the works that have been added by users and voted up since Wednesday are explicit and controversial.

As near as I can tell, bestbookreads.com has pulled the poll.

I get my 4chan updates from my son, Alex. I’ve never visited the site, since he assures me that the content there is rather, well, “collegiate.” But they appear to have a robust sense of humor. These are the same folks who voted the name “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong” to the top of a Mountain Dew poll that asked the public to vote/name their next brand of soda.… Read the rest

Good Friday

In the 1930s, the Times (London) asked G.K. Chesterton and others to write on the topic of “What’s Wrong with the World Today.” Chesterton sent back a two-word response:

Dear Sirs:
I am.
Sincerely, G.K. Chesterton

“For all that ever was wrong, is wrong, and will be wrong, the price has been paid.” Richard John Neuhaus

“The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His.” George MacDonald

“The cross cannot be defeated. . . For it is Defeat.” G.K. Chesterton

On those who hate Christianity: “They do not dislike the Cross because it is a dead symbol; but because it is a live symbol.” G.K. Chesterton

“[A]s long as sin remains on earth, still will the Cross remain.” Fulton Sheen

“God has given us our lives as wheat and grapes. It is our duty to consecrate them and bring them back to God as bread and wine–transubstaniated, divinized, and spiritualized. There must be harvest in our hands after the springtime of the earthly pilgrimage.

“That is why Calvary is erected in the midst of us, and we are on its sacred hill. We were not made to be mere on-lookers . . . but rather to be participants in the mystery of the Cross.” Fulton Sheen.

“Since the symbols of baptism and the eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam.” St. John Chrysostom

“His Cross has put its due value upon every thing which we see, upon all fortunes, all advantages, all ranks, all dignities, all pleasures; upon the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. It has set a price … Read the rest

Holy Thursday

gethsemane

“[I]n the agony of Gethsemane the ultimate consequences of our sin had their hour. . . . God permitted his Son to taste the human agony of rejection and plunge towards the abyss. . . Gethsemane was the hour in which Jesus’ human heart and mind experienced the ultimate odium of the sin he was to bear as his own . . .”. Romano Guardini, The Lord. … Read the rest

From the Emails

My response to a young family member who was getting questions about the Big Bang Theory and was puzzled that a priest came up with the Theory:

The Big Bang theory is nothing for a Catholic to get hung up on. You just need to keep a steady eye on this single truth (taken from Fr. Stanley Jaki, the “Pope’s physicist”): “The intelligent Christian will . . . keep in mind [this]: The total inability of the scientific method to demonstrate creation out of nothing.”

Ponder that statement. The TOTAL inability. Something out of NOTHING. Keep a steady and sure eye on that concept, and you’ll be fine when talking with any atheist.

They can whip out formulas that take up a 5-acre chalk board: they can’t begin to demonstrate creation out of nothing. It’s a leap that the scientific method, by definition, can’t account for. Science deals with the material, the observable, the empirical. The idea of nothingness leading to somethingness transcends all scientific tools. It’s a philosophical or theological exercise, not a scientific one.

The Big Bang theory does contradict the creation account in Genesis, but Catholics don’t care. Catholics have never (never) taken the creation story as literal truth. I believe you can find statements in Thomas Aquinas’ works, for instance, about the importance, but not literal truth, of the creation account in Genesis. Aquinas lived from 1225 to 1274.

Hope this helps.

Read the rest