Monday, May 30, 2005

Taking a Blogging Break

Too many other things to do. Check back in a month or so.
I Got Tagged

By Mommentary with some book questions. Here are my answers:

1. Total number of books I've owned. I'd conservatively peg the number at about 3,000. The number of books I've owned that are worth reading is considerably smaller.

2. Last book I bought. Bottum & Dallin, Eds., The Pius War, a book on the defamatory controversy over Pope Pius XII, and Ronald Radosh's Commies: A Journey through the Old Left, the New Left, and the Leftover Left, which is about growing up Communist in America. Before that, it was the first three books of Bourroughs' Barsoom series, and volume X of the Man-Kzin Wars series. Before that, it was Beevor's Stalingrad and Berlin: The Downfall, 1945.

3. Last book I read. Oh, I don't read them. I just buy them and think about reading them. I don't read books like most people, one at a time. I tend to have four or five going at once. So the last books I read were Stalingrad, Hitchens' Letters to a Young Contrarian and Larry Niven's Ringworld's Children. Beevor's book was all right, but fails one of my tests for military history -- if you need ten maps and a complete OOB to figure out what the author's telling you, it's not a great military history. Hitchens, oh that Hitchens! So brilliant on everything else, and such a garden-variety dumb atheist when it comes to Christianity. For anyone who wants to read good science-fiction, Niven is one of the top 5 science-fiction authors of all time, and his "Ring World" is an incredible place. I wish he'd write more about the Smoke Ring, but we can cry all day about the books our favorite authors don't write. I also re-read The Mote in God's Eye, which is one of the 10 best science-fiction novels ever written, IMHO. (I am strangely enthusiastic about science fiction. Every science fiction book I read is either one of the ten-best or it's crap. My list of the 10 best science fiction books is about a hundred books long).

4. Five books that mean a lot to me. Other than Scripture, there's Paul Johnson's Modern Times. Once you read it, you realize that we're not gonna make it without divine intervention. Then there's Dr. Doolittle, the first book I ever read all by myself, all the way through to the end. Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead was important because it made me realize that happiness isn't just something Christians talk about, that it's a universal necessity, and because Rand's perverted ideas about happiness were fundamentally repugnant to me. There's Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger. That book played a key role in my entry into the Church, but don't ask me why because I'm not quite sure myself. Lastly, I'll mention Newman's Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. Newman's Essay is an amazing meta-historical idenfication of Christianity with the Roman Catholic Church which is thorough, and damn-near unarguable. And the interesting thing is that he doesn't rely on revelation to prove it.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Hysterical Gun Nuts . . . .

like me used to ask "why not ban box cutters? Why not have a seven-day waiting period to buy a kitchen knife?" We used to think it was a rhetorical jape that highlighted the fact that gun-banning fascists' arguments don't last long in proximity to common sense.

We used to.

Now we read that the same ridiculous arguments so regularly applied to ban guns are, in fact, being used to urge a ban on . . . wait for it . . . . . kitchen knives. The article's in blue, my comments in black.

"A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings . . . " Yep, that's kitchen kives -- the "weapon of choice" for your average thug.

"They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon." Yes, you're 459 times more likely to be knifed by someone you know. Never keep a knife in the house. A would-be impulsive drunk will take it away from you and stab you with it. Your children will find it and stab themselves or others when playing Ghurka Roulette. Cue public-service announcement by the cast of Family Ties: "If you must have a knife in the house, keep it locked away where no one can use it."

"The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all. They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen." Yeah, who needs an Uzi to go duck hunting? Only the same bloodthirsty lunatics who think they need a seven-inch Wusthof to make slits in baguette dough, that's who! Never mind the fact that, like all ‘item-control' statistics, this one's bogus. The only thing "top chefs" in the UK need a knife for is to cut the string off whatever bag they're boiling dinner in tonight.

"None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed." You just need to use eight or nine knives when you're cooking, you see -- one small, sharp-pointed blade for chicken, one for fish, one for meat . . . . Of course, building a kitchen that can accomodate ten keypad-operated knife safes may be a little harder on the pocket book than a new Analon Brunello 8-piece set, but hey, if it saves even one life . . .

"The researchers said a short pointed knife may cause a substantial superficial wound if used in an assault - but is unlikely to penetrate to inner organs." I see that knife-control researchers wade out of the same shallow end of the gene pool as gun-control researchers. You don't need to worry about a long, pointed knife penetrating your "inner organs" (are there any other kind?) if a short, pointed knife's been thrust into your jugular vein or femoral artery, both of which are far less "inner" than your gall bladder and far more essential to your continued residence on the planet. Have these numbskulls done the basic research which shows that most knife-attacks -- especially by people who aren't trained ninjas or special-forces operatives -- inflict "slashing," rather than "penetrating," wounds and, therefore, banning "long, pointed" knives will do little to affect whatever problem these people claim to be worried about? Of course not. Like gun control, knife-control is an area in which actual knowledge of the issues proves that one's psychologically or mentally unfit to participate in the discussion. You know about that stuff? Eeeeewwww . . . . .

"In contrast, a pointed long blade pierces the body like "cutting into a ripe melon". Cue the Nighline segment where beer-gutted knife owners chew tobacco and slash melons with faces drawn onto them. How can anyone justify owning an assault knife whose only purpose is to pierce the human body like a ripe melon?!!!

"The use of knives is particularly worrying amongst adolescents, say the researchers, reporting that 24% of 16-year-olds have been shown to carry weapons, primarily knives." So 24% of an unknown sample of 16-year-olds (surely not a sample taken from court records or juvenile facilities, that would skew the data set!) carry "weapons, primarily knives." Primarily knives? What does that mean? If, out of 100 sampled sixteen year olds (and remember, the sample may be Scotland Yard's "violent youth offender" files):
1 carries a gun
3 carry brass knuckles,
5 carry sticks, pipes or blunt objects,
5 carry assorted martial-arts implements,
4 carry sharpened screwdrivers, and
6 carry pen-knives
The geniuses at West Middlesex University can say that British teens are running around with broadswords strapped to their backs and demand that Parliament make it a felony to possess a nine-inch Henckels. Even if the sample is somehow representative of all the U.K.'s teenagers, which means that almost one-quarter of them go about armed, doesn't any Englishman have wits enough to exercise skepticism in light of past rhetoric about how banning guns was the last step toward keeping England's children safe? Probably not -- they kept buying all that "war to end all wars" crap through three Ypres offensives.

"The study found links between easy access to domestic knives and violent assault are long established." No kidding -- it's astonishing to see statistics prove that, when people want to commit violent assaults on other people, they look for knives with which to violently assault other people. Note the backwards thinking, so apparent in the arguments of gun-control fascists -- it's the knives that are the real catalyst for violent assaults, just as guns cause street crime. People don't cause violent crime, it's the guns! And if you say "steak knives don't kill people, people kill people," they'll laugh you out of the cocktail party.

"French laws in the 17th century decreed that the tips of table and street knives be ground smooth. A century later, forks and blunt-ended table knives were introduced in the UK in an effort to reduce injuries during arguments in public eating houses." Don't stop for an instant to think that this proves West Middlesex University is suffering from a recurrance of the same stupidity that afflicted the ancien regime and the Hanoverian monarchy when they wanted to control human behavior by trying to turn society into the equivalent of a padded cell. Just pay attention to the fraudulent theses by ‘researchers' proving that there were no guns in colonial America, and how in the old west the choice was either a peaceful haven of gun-control or a booming mortician industry. That's why it was more peaceful in olden days -- not because children were raised by married couples who went to church, but because the state regulated the pointiness of their eating utensils.

"Kitchen knives can inflict appalling wounds [Gruesome Photo]" Gotta have the gruesome photo -- it shocks people out of their wits, and witless people are required to pass the ridiculous legislation being proposed. If you can tell me the wound pictured couldn't have been inflicted with a cheese knife, and keep a straight face doing it, you're qualified to be Dean of Research Faculty at West Middlesex University.

"The researchers say legislation to ban the sale of long pointed knives would be a key step in the fight against violent crime." No, it would be a key step in continuing the pretence that godless secularism can do anything to mitigate violent crime besides imposing a criminal regime characterized by perpetual violence. The secularists have their marching orders -- "Don't you dare look into the human heart . . . we're busy in here!" Leave the human heart alone. Just go on filling the culture with a lust for death in all its forms, and get ready to read the next study on the use of "assault scissors" in household murders.

Anybody think we can take a "key step in the war on terror" by banning the Koran? Congratulations to the man with drool on his lapel -- you're the new Chair of Counter-Terrorism Studies at West Middlesex University!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Win Some, Lose Some

We read that Fr. Bryce Sibley of The Saintly Salmagundi has stopped blogging. I'm not alone in saying that I'll miss Fr. Sibley's strange items, weird stories, and eucharistic reflections. The Salmagundi is where I learned what POD means, and found out that our Lady is the Exterminatrix of Heresies. Fr. Sibley invented the Sibleys, the annual blogosphere awards, and won lots of them. God bless you, Fr. Sibley, and thanks for all the fun!

On the positive side, I've found out that The Mighty Barrister has returned to active blogging status. He's also redesigned his blog. I liked the old typewriter logo (trust me to complain when things change!), but the new one is easier on the eye (trust me to hedge my bets!). The MB is always worth reading, and it's a treat to see he's been lured back into the blogosphere.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Spiritual Bouquet Update

So far, the spiritual boquet for Al Kimel has the following flowers:
10 Rosaries
8 Holy Hours
5 Litanies
4 Sacrifices**
1 Novena
6 Prayers at Mass
Why not add some more? For this month, you don't have to register to post on St. Blog's Parish Hall. Just pop on over and post your e-card along with the good people who've already done so. Anybody entering the priesthood is bound to suffer attacks, and the best defense is a good offense. Thanks.

** A non-Catholic emailed me to ask what this means. It means giving something up, or doing something extraordinary, in your daily life. Don't smoke for an hour, and jones instead. Skip your favorite TV show. Anonymously pay somebody's parking ticket, or put change in somebody's meter if it's run out. Read the Bible. You don't need kashrut-cleared knives or livestock, just habits of self-indulgence and me-firstism that need a bit of pruning.

Monday, May 23, 2005

I've Been Spending My Time . . .

Writing a long essay that will be up soon. For now, here's a look at the most incredible Lego kits ever made. Check ‘em out:
Five-foot-long model of the U.S.S. Missouri

The huge model of the U.S.S. Duluth

And the Cathedral, also in custom deluxe format.
Imagine what it would be like, doing this for a living!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Prayers Are Answered

Al Kimel of the excellent Pontifications blog announces his intention to become a Catholic priest. I'm sure others (including, most assuredly, Rev. Kimel) prayed more and harder than I, a most slothful and niggardly creature, did. Still and all, prayers are answered.
It is now time for me to withdraw from the lists of controversy, enter into a spiritual posture of learning and docility, and submit my mind, heart, and soul to the teaching of our Lord through the Magisterium of his Church. It is time for me to abandon the private judgment of my Anglicanism and be reformed by the Catholic Faith in all of its fullness. As Newman wrote to Henry Maskell: "You must come to the Catholic Church to learn, to take on faith, her mode and peculiarities of worship, her ideas of devotion, etc. as well as her doctrine." This is now the task before me.
I've said before that Catholics spend far more time and energy explaining what Protestants lost in the Reformation than we do about what Roman Catholicism lost. Al Kimel's blog -- Al Kimel's writing, perspectives, and thoughts -- is/was a perfect example of that loss. I'm very happy to see one gem returned to the treasury; I hope the Church will be properly grateful for it.

As part of that gratitude, I suggest that we offer a spiritual bouquet. My parish Church does this with seminarians, deacons approaching ordination, novices, etc. A little congratulatory card is handed out before Mass. Parishioners fill out the blanks and leave the cards at the back of the Church to be collected and sent to the recipient. The blanks explain the parishioner's intention to offer spiritual sacrifices and good works, such as:
_____ Rosaries
_____ Hours before the Blessed Sacrament
_____ Litanies
_____ Sacrifices
_____ Novenas to _______________
So I'll fill out my card on line, right now, as follows:
__7__ Rosaries
__3___ Hours before the Blessed Sacrament
__3___ Litanies (of the saints)
_____ Sacrifices
_____ Novenas to _______________
Why not make out your own card and blog it? Or go to St. Blog's Parish Hall and post it there?