Thursday, October 30, 2014

iGender: Apple needs to come clean about the sexuality of other board members

Apple CEO Tim Cook assuaged  public concerns about his sexuality by assuring Americans in a Business Week op-ed that he is gay and proud of it.

Okay. Now that those fears have been laid to rest, what about other members of Apple's board who have been quiet about their own sexual orientation?

There have been rumors that several of them are closet heterosexuals. Their silence on this not comforting. If there are heterosexuals on Apple's board, their shareholders and the larger public has a right to know about it.

Come clean, Apple!

Monday, October 27, 2014

How the New Intolerance operates

Robert Tracinski, writing at the Federalist fairly pegs the mechanism by which the New Intolerance operates:
The left’s operational concept of freedom is that you are allowed to do and say what you like—so long as you stay within a certain proscribed window of socially acceptable deviation. The purpose of the gay marriage campaign is simply to change the parameters of that window, extending it to include the gay, the queer, the transgendered—and to exclude anyone who thinks that homosexuality is a sin or who wants to preserve the traditional concept of marriage. Those people are declared outside the protection of the law and in fact will have the full weight of the law bear down upon them until they recant their socially unacceptable views.
Read more here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

We interrupt the propagation of anti-religious historical falsehoods for the following important announcement

Even otherwise intelligent atheists commonly can be commonly found portraying the Galileo affair as a confrontation between religion and science. This myth has been refuted repeatedly, but that doesn't stop them from repeating it again, and again, ...
Most people understand the trial of Galileo Galilei as a key example of religious bigotry clashing with the advance of science and the textbook case of "Medieval" ignorance and superstition being superseded by reason and science.  In fact, the whole rather complex affair was not the black-and-white "science vs religion" fable of popular imagination and the positions of both Galileo and of the various churchmen involved were varied and complex. 
... and again.

Read more here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Reason #537 to Study Latin

A record seven out of sixteen Highlands Latin School seniors were just recognized in the National Merit Scholarship Competition (six semifinalists and one commended student). Semifinalists represent the top 1% of college-bound seniors.

For the story in Insider Louisville, go here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Conservatives who think the Church has changed its view on same-sex marriage need to get a grip

Moral ailments, like physical ones, don't respond well to panic. Yet this seems just the cure some conservatives have in mind for what they are told by the liberal media is the new liberal position of the Catholic Church on marriage.

In fact, it was serendipitous that the Ebola scare and the conservative reaction to the release of a preliminary account of discussions at an extraordinary synod in Rome written by a liberal bishop hit on the same week. They were both examples of the same impulse: to lose all perspective in the face of a threat.

The reaction of the good folks at Front Porch Republic—who referenced Rod Dreher who referenced Damon Linker—was representative of the general conservative response.

These are all among my favorite people, of course, but their responses betrayed a disturbing level of what, in his recent book Present Shock, Douglas Rushkoff has called "digiphrenia": a disordered condition of mental activity resulting from too much exposure to digital media.

This is a result of what Rushkoff calls "reality on tap," when "everything happens now." We are informed instantaneously about every news event and respond instantaneously so that we begin to think that there is no other reality than the present one. Everything is considered from a short-term perspective and the long-term begins to have no meaning for us.

The upshot is that we think in instantaneous terms and lose any historical perspective.

These are all good people, but its hard being in the same philosophical vehicle with them sometimes because a few of them have a habit of grabbing the dashboard and shouting "We're all going to die!" every time someone pulls out in front of us 1,000 yards ahead. All it took in the present case was a few news reports that a report out of a Catholic Church synod was hedging on the issue of same sex marriage and, without stopping to think how this might be being mis-portrayed and without digging deeper to see what was actually going on, conservatives went into full panic mode.

Folks, get a grip. Put down your smart phones, shut off your 4G, turn off your satellite TV, and think for a moment about what you're dealing with here.

You're talking about a 2,000 year-old institution that issues important documents in a language that hasn't been widely spoken by anybody but a few nerdy classics majors for several hundred years, that indicates who it has elected its leader by what color smoke it sends out of an old stove pipe in Vatican City, and that still worries on a daily basis about the Great Schism of 1054 AD.

This is an institution whose leader tweets. In Latin.

The Catholic Church doesn't think or operate like a modern institution, largely because it isn't one.

When changes are necessary, a committee is formed, which meets the next year. It has meetings and issues memos, which takes about another year. Then it breaks for a couple of years to think about it. Then it reconvenes again the next year to discuss a recommendation. It takes another six months to type the recommendation out on an old manual typewriter on triple-layered carbon paper, which urges that another committee be formed which will take another several years to deliberate on what it will recommend to the Pope. But by then the Pope is dead, so they have to appoint another pope and start the process all over again.

This is why I like the Catholic Church: It's so hard to get anything done that only the most important things actually get done and only the changes that are absolutely necessary ever get made.

The Presbyterian Church, USA or the Northwest Eastern Convention of Southern Independent Evangelical Baptists may decide to allow the ordination of bald lesbian Wiccans over the weekend, but this is just not the way the Catholic Church operates.

In fact, part of the problem here is that conservative protestants are reading their church paradigm, according to which these decisions can be made fairly quickly, onto the Catholic Church, where these paradigms simply don't fit.

The process the Catholic Church uses is admittedly long—and undeniably messy. But that's part of its tradition. And it's a long  tradition which is also a tradition of longness. But Peter Daniel Haworth at Front Porch Republic assures us:
Belief that the Holy Spirit invariably leads the Roman Catholic Church to what is true requires one to suspend reasonable skepticism about the typical dysfunction and fallibility of humans and human institutions.
It's a little hard to tell exactly what this sentence is saying, but I think what he means is that we're all supposed to doubt whether God works through processes of doctrinal change and formulation that involve a lot of disagreement, infighting and various other kinds of messiness, one of the things a few Catholics have advised outside observers to consider. Fr. Robert Barron, for example, warned his readers in a recent post about the "saugage-making" aspect of Church gathering like the one this last week.

"Those who love the barque of Peter," he quotes Cardinal John Henry Newman as saying, "ought to stay out of the engine room!”

Modern institutions are all supposed to operate like the George Pompidou Centre in Paris is built: with all the structure on the outside for everyone to see. So now we see the sausage-making aspect of the Church from the inside and think there must be something wrong. It would be interesting if Haworth were to apply his doubt about God working through human imperfections to other historical events in Church history. If he is a Christian, then he adheres to a creed (or the substance of it, even if he is "non-creedal") that was fashioned at the Council of Nicea, where ecclesiastical delegates not only engaged in prolific beard-pulling, but where St. Nicholas (yes, that one) allegedly slugged Arius right in the kisser.

Somebody had to do it. It might as well be Santa Claus.

The only difference between now and then is that there weren't reports on internal discussions being issued and then broadcast worldwide instantly.

And then maybe he could exercise his "reasonable skepticism" on Jesus' genealogy, which includes murderers, prostitutes, adulterers, and one person who was the product of incest. Now there's some serious dysfunction and fallibility.

And then there is this paragraph, again fashioned by Haworth:
... one can question whether mere theoretical searching for contradictions in RCC dogma is a sufficient test for the soundness of the First Vatican Council’s strong claims about papal authority–i.e., the Pope being infallible when speaking ex cathedra on faith and morals. One should be wary (if not dismissive) of a papal authority that appears to be on the brink of effectively undermining its church’s long-held doctrinal tradition (possibly through new pastoral directives), albeit without explicitly changing its parchment doctrine so as to hide the reality that such a de facto change is actually occurring. And, when an individual Christian (even one who is within the RCC) comes to this point, it is reasonable for him or her to also evaluate what to do (or where to go) next.    
Now I have applied various methods of interpretation to this paragraph--as well as to trying to figure out everything set off with an em-dash (and the parts in parentheses), and have tried to determine why he uses so, many, commas, and have concluded that Haworth would probably make more sense if, rather than simply using occasional Latin expressions, he had simply said the whole thing in Latin.

But what Haworth seems to be saying is that the doctrine of Papal infallibility makes it easier for the Pope to change Church doctrine, something I have read numerous other places.

Well, you can use all the relative clauses you want (although quite frankly, I think Haworth has exceeded the limit), but the problem is this: The doctrine of papal infallibility does not make it easier for one pope to change the doctrines of his predecessors: It makes it harder. This was one of the reasons that Pope John XXII opposed the doctrine in the 14th century and actually condemned it in a bull. The Franciscans thought he was trying to change what they believed a long-held teaching to which the Pope was in disagreement, and they appealed to the doctrine of papal infallibility to demonstrate that the pope could not change the doctrine of his predecessors.

If pope's are infallible (in regard to the limited kinds of things that that doctrine applies to), then later popes, far from having greater ability to change the doctrines of their predecessors, have far less.

Admittedly it is not easy for a Catholic like myself to suffer the indignity of a New York Times editorial praising the Church, but all we know from last week's Extraordinary Synod is this: that, a) if the Obama administration hasn't used up all the available czars, the Vatican could use one to manage its communications office; b) that there are liberals trying to influence Church doctrine; c) that they're very vocal; d) that they've got cheerleaders in the media; e) that some conservatives place too much credence in the liberal media's portrayal of Church events; and f) that using this many semicolons in one place could give Haworth ideas.

All of which is to say that the Catholic Church has not caved on the same-sex marriage issue and that conservatives—particularly conservative protestants—who are now performing last rites over the Church need not only to put reports from the liberal media in better perspective, but need to better understand how the Church operates before they jump to conclusions.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Since when does it take a subpoena to get a copy of a pastor's sermon?

Not content to merely wag their crooked fingers at innocent people who don't buy in to their brand of "tolerance," the Politically Correct schoolmarms running Houston city government have issued subpoenas demanding copies of sermons from local churches who oppose an unpopular gay rights ordinance.

I'm trying to ponder the extent of the utter silliness of this absurd move.

For one thing, in doing it, Houston municipal government automatically makes itself the poster child for Orwellian left-wing intolerance. Not to mention hypocrisy. The lengths to which the champions of Tolerance and Diversity will go to impose their views on other people continues to amaze me--as does the bullying performed by the very people who are always talking about how bad bullying is.

What's next? Red and black armbands for city officials? Free lessons in goose-stepping?

But the truly funny thing here is why city officials thought they needed subpoenas to obtain the sermons of the city's pastors.

I can't think of a pastor I have met whose day you wouldn't make by asking him for a copy of his sermons. These are people many of whom have a complex about the fact that people don't pay enough attention to what they have to say. These are people who spend money, sometimes out of their own pockets, to get their sermons aired on the local radio or television station.

They're trying to reach as many people and they can and the Houston Diversity Enforcement officials issue subpoenas? Seriously.

Which is probably why one Houston pastor said, when asked whether he would comply with a subpoena, "I'll be glad to send them my sermons as long as they promise to read them."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sorry liberals, the Catholic Church has NOT changed its position on same-sex marriage

If the secular media's coverage of preliminary deliberations in Rome on marriage weren't so tragic, they would simply be comic. In fact, maybe they're both.

It's not as if we didn't know how badly the media customarily get it wrong. Just on the basis of stories about the Catholic Church I've read over the last five years, it would seem that they are more likely to get it wrong than to get it right.

The biggest problem is obviously just journalistic sloppiness, but the chief aggravating factor is the lack of understanding by secular journalists about how the Church works. To even think that the whole teaching of the Church can be changed by one set of meetings over the course of a week and the issuing of a document by bureaucratic underlings is preposterous on its face to anyone who has even the remotest idea of how the Church works.

But the ADHD, quick news-cycle, go-on-to-the-next-story mode of the modern instant media doesn't have time for important distinctions, nor do liberals feel any restraint in doing end zone dances when no one has even started a play yet if it looks like they will benefit from appearing to have won.

And it doesn't help that the Vatican's communication bureaucracy is not taking this into account when it issues documents. When you're talking to people who have an attention span of about five seconds and are lacking a shred of historical knowledge, you've got to craft your message to take that into account and the Vatican needs to start doing this.

So now we have this meme going around that the Church has changed its position on the same-sex marriage issue, which is absolutely, positively, 100 percent, no-question-about-it wrong.

Robert P. George today said it best:
The relatio, then, is raw material for this week’s discussion, which will prepare for next year’s discussion, which may provide fodder for a document by the Pope. 
So it’s conducive to something preparatory to something (possibly) advisory. 
It has no teaching authority whatsoever.
What’s more, it proposed no changes—none—in the doctrine or moral teaching of the Church.
Sheez. Read the rest here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The contradictory argument for same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage advocates have two primary arguments for their position. Unfortunately they explicitly contradict each other.

When you say that we should not disenfranchise voters who have passed laws that disallow gay marriage, they say that the Constitution protects the rights of minorities like gays from majorities who seek to violate those rights. But when you point out that the right to gay marriage is not in the Constitution, they point to polls that show the majority is in favor of gay marriage.

Mona Charen is onto the contradiction, voiced again by Ted Olson on Fox News on Sunday:
Which is it: a fundamental right that ought to be recognized without regard to majority views, or a popular view that deserves to be enshrined in the Constitution by the courts just because it's polling well?
Read the rest here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Grimes refuses to reveal whether she will vote for herself in Senate election


LEXINGTON, KY--In last night's KET debate between Allison Lundergan Grimes and Sen. Mitch McConnell, Grimes, the Democratic candidate for the U. S. Senate in Kentucky, refused to reveal who she would vote for in the Senate race. Asked whether she would vote for herself, Grimes responded, "This is a matter of principle. Our Constitution grants, here in Kentucky, the constitutional right for privacy of the ballot box, for a secret ballot."

Grimes said revealing whether she would vote for herself would undermine this right: "I am not going to compromise a constitutional right provided here in Kentucky in order to curry favor with myself. I’ll protect that right for every Kentuckian."

“Again," said Grimes, "you have that right, Senator McConnell has that right, every Kentuckian has the right for privacy at the ballot box.” McConnell revealed that he had voted for himself repeatedly in every election in which he had run and would continue to proudly support himself in the future.

Grimes, who agreed before the debate to answer questions on her own behalf, said that the Senate candidate who she may or may not vote for was in favor of coal. She also said that she (referring to herself) was also in favor of Obamacare on most days, and that "tonight, I feel pretty good about it, sort of."

McConnell accused Grimes of being given "four Pinocchios" for false statements she had made about him in campaign ads. Grimes responded that she only remembers receiving two but that the others may have been sent to the candidate herself.

It was unclear whether, if elected, Grimes would agree with her own votes and whether she would even reveal to herself how she would vote until she actually did.


Friday, October 10, 2014

A democratic republic was nice while it lasted: Same-sex marriage and judicial tyranny

A democratic republic was nice while it lasted. Here is Pat Buchanan on the recent takeover of state marriage law policy by federal judges:
Do the states have the right to outlaw same-sex marriage? 
Not long ago the question would have been seen as absurd. For every state regarded homosexual acts as crimes. 
Moreover, the laws prohibiting same-sex marriage had all been enacted democratically, by statewide referenda, like Proposition 8 in California, or by Congress or elected state legislatures. 
But today rogue judges and justices, appointed for life, answerable to no one, instruct a once-democratic republic on what laws we may and may not enact.
Read more here.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

NY Times writer: Pedophilia should be protected under anti-discrimination laws

The forces of Political Correctness are now casting their gaze around the cultural landscape for more aberrant behaviors to legitimize.

I need to have a regular weekly column on all the behaviors once thought voluntary and subject to moral judgment that people think need to be reclassified as involuntary conditions subject, not to moral judgment, but to political protection.

Enter the defenders of pedophilia.

In last Monday's New York Times, Margo Kaplan, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Law, argues, first, that pedophilia is not be a choice and that it has "neurological origins."
Recent research, while often limited to sex offenders -- because of the stigma of pedophilia -- suggests that the disorder may have neurological origins. Pedophilia could result from a failure in the brain to identify which environmental stimuli should provoke a sexual response. M.R.I.s of sex offenders with pedophilia show fewer of the neural pathways known as white matter in their brains. Men with pedophilia are three times more likely to be left-handed or ambidextrous, a finding that strongly suggests a neurological cause. Some findings also suggest that disturbances in neurodevelopment in utero or early childhood increase the risk of pedophilia.
And, since it is not a choice, it deserves political protection under federal anti-discrimination laws:
Our current law is inconsistent and irrational. For example, federal law and 20 states allow courts to issue a civil order committing a sex offender, particularly one with a diagnosis of pedophilia, to a mental health facility immediately after the completion of his sentence -- under standards that are much more lax than for ordinary "civil commitment" for people with mental illness. And yet, when it comes to public policies that might help people with pedophilia to come forward and seek treatment before they offend, the law omits pedophilia from protection. 
The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit discrimination against otherwise qualified individuals with mental disabilities, in areas such as employment, education and medical care. Congress, however, explicitly excluded pedophilia from protection under these two crucial laws. 
It's time to revisit these categorical exclusions.
There you go! Notice the similarities with the reasoning now being used by gay rights groups. By the same reasoning--and the same kind of evidence--according to which gays should be protected under anti-discrimination laws, so should pedophiles.

So let's queue up the angry responses that blame me for the reasoning I am actually criticizing other people for using: Three, two, one ...

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

State denied their day in court on same-sex marriage

The following is a press release from The Family Foundation of Kentucky released today:


LEXINGTON, KY—"States who believe they have the right to define marriage in their states have been denied their day in court," said a spokesman for The Family Foundation in response to yesterday's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear the appeals of five states on the same-sex marriage issue. "This decision is so blatantly political it seems to have surprised even supporters of same-sex marriage."

"This also gets Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote on this issue, off the hook on having to contradict the position he set out in the Windsor decision," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for the group. When the Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last year, Kennedy, who wrote the majority decision, had argued that the federal government could not have such a law because it violated the right of states to define marriage.

"The Supreme Court struck down the federal marriage law on the grounds that states have a right to define marriage. But they will have to strike down state marriage laws on the grounds that they don't have that right. By punting yesterday, they were able to force same-sex marriage on states without having to face the contradiction in their reasoning."

Cothran said that if the federal government is going to dictate marriage policy to the states, "it ought to at least allow both sides their day in court. History will not judge the Court well if it acts politically like this and doesn't even allow states to argue their case."


Do public school critics have the credibility to criticize charters?

A report is calling for greater oversight of charter schools because there have been "too many" cases in which there has been fraud and mismanagement. Of course, we know what lots of oversight has done for public schools.

It is interesting how public school critics of charter schools want to apply standards (like those implicit in this report) to charters that they don't apply to their own regular public schools.

If one charter schools fails to outperform the average public school, that is a reason to close that school down. But where are the calls to close down regular public schools that don't outperform the average public school?

If charter schools in general don't outperform public schools (by somewhat dubious measures), that is a reason not to have charters. But bad public schools are never considered a reason for not have public schools.

There are some pretty awful public schools. But what does the same establishment that wants to shut down a bad charter do in response to this criticism? Everything but closing it down.

One of the interesting things about this most recent report is that it things there should be more oversight of charters by state agencies. But the only reason it knows about the fraud and mismanagement it bemoans is through other entities than state agencies:
Indeed, the vast majority of fraud was uncovered by whistleblowers and media exposés, not by the state’s oversight agencies.
I don't have much of a problem with more oversight in regard to fraud and mismanagement, but it seems to me the regular public schools have enough of a problem in their own back yard, as evidenced by recent revelations when whistleblowers and media exposes uncovered irregularities in Kentucky's two biggest school districts.

Anyone who wants to use the likelihood of mismanagement as a reason not to has charters need only look at two recent headlines:

State audit highlights 'chronic mismanagement' of Fayette schools budget, finances

State audit slams top-heavy JCPS bureaucracy

People who live in glass schools shouldn't throw stones.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Supreme Court Decision Will Lead to Gay Marriage in Five States. Why That’s Wrong.

Supreme Court Decision Will Lead to Gay Marriage in Five States. Why That’s Wrong..

Today the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review appeals from Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin on the definition of marriage. This means that lower... Read More

The post Supreme Court Decision Will Lead to Gay Marriage in Five States. Why That’s Wrong. appeared first on Daily Signal.

Michael Phelps, meet Michael Phelps

It is sad to see a swimmer sink so fast.

Michael Phelps, who already has been forced to give up his once prominent (and lucrative) position on the cover of Kellog's cereal boxes, was arrested last week on a DUI charge. He is now handling shame in the way we now handle it: He admitted he did a bad thing, and then announced that he was going into rehab, treating what is clearly a moral problem as if it were physiological condition.

But Phelps' problem may run deeper. Unfortunately it is a problem everyone seems to have these days: multiple personalities.

I cannot find an incident earlier than that of Hamlet of someone talking to himself. This is just not something that anyone did until historically modern times. These days we keep diaries, we "journal" (another pernicious case of a noun turned into a verb), and we write memoirs and autobiographies.

I heard the other day that Kafka, when told by an acquaintance that, despite the fact that he was a Jew, he did not have very much in common with Jews, responded, "Well for that matter I don't have very much in common with myself."

And then there was Dostoevski's story, "The Double," in which the protagonist is so alienated from himself that he comes to work one day and finds that he has already arrived and is sitting at his desk and has to introduce himself to himself.

We're all about ourselves. We think about ourselves and talk about ourselves. There's us and ourself. And we are one big unhappy individual person.

It was so much easier back in the day when we were just us, before Freud broke us up into an ego, an id, and a superego. Being youeself was a rather small affair, involving only one identity. This was before the "soul" was replaced by the "self."

Notice that no one ever talked about "multiple souls."

But now the inside of your head a rather crowded place.

So when Phelps says, after once again being caught doing a bad thing, "I am extremely disappointed with myself," I am reminded once again of the number of personalities we all are expected to keep up these days.

Phelps' multiple personalities have apparently become rather estranged of late: "I'm going to take some time away," he said this weekend, "to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself."

Michael Phelps, meet Michael Phelps.

If only the two could get back on the same page, Michael Phelps (the second one) wouldn't have smoked that weed and had those drinks before driving, something Michael Phelps (the first one) would never have done.

I wonder if Dr. Jeckyl wore the same size bathing suit as Mr. Hyde?

I'm trying to think of how such a program would work. Who would be the best person to go to to get to know yourself? Who would know yourself better than you do? After all, you've spent more time with yourself than anybody else, haven't you?

Undoubtedly psychologists will be involved. But weren't they partly responsible for creating these different selves in the first place? In fact, it is an interesting cultural phenomenon that psychology now almost implies a disbelief in the—despite the fact that the word "psychology" literally means "the study of the soul" in Greek.

It used to be that when you did something wrong, you confessed to your priest, and did penance. It was so much easier then (sigh). Doing that now, of course, would be a much more complex procedure, since you would have to make several trips to the confessional—one for each self.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Anthony Esolen on the Intolerance of the New Secular Theocracy

Anthony Esolen, in Crisis Magazine, on the New Intolerance:
The “faith” of no faith moved Stalin to murder his millions in the Ukraine, and Mao to murder his tens of millions throughout the vast rural territories of China.  Secularism is a bloody business, because, without God, man is affixed to the terrible adverb “only,” and there is very little you cannot do to someone who is “only” a counter in an economic tally, or a pawn in a vast historical battlefield, or an organic machine consuming food and water, or whatever.
Read more here.