Friday, October 30, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
What Happened to Global Warming?By Debra Saunders
"What happened to global warming?" read the headline -- on BBC News on Oct. 9, no less. Consider it a cataclysmic event: Mainstream news organizations have begun reporting on scientific research that suggests that global warming may not be caused by man and may not be as dire and eminent as alarmists suggest.
Indeed, as the BBC's climate correspondent Paul Hudson reported, the warmest year recorded globally "was not in 2008 or 2007, but 1998." It's true, he continued, "For the last 11 years, we have not observed any increase in global temperatures."
At a London conference later this month, Hudson reported, solar scientist Piers Corbyn will present evidence that solar-charged particles have a big impact on global temperatures.
Western Washington University geologist Don J. Easterbrook presented research last year that suggests that the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) caused warmer temperatures in the 1980s and 1990s. With Pacific sea surface temperatures cooling, Easterbrook expects 30 years of global cooling.
On a mostly separate matter...A National Geographic article was forwarded to me yesterday and it seems most of the dinosaur bones we have are completely misidentified. They now believe that there was only a handful of species, as young dinosaurs went through a virtual metamorphosis as they aged/matured.
Friday, October 9, 2009
-Perhaps the Swedes should read the latest poll results from Rasmussen, Gallop, Pew, and pretty much everyone else...the US is becoming pretty darn disillusioned.
-Fascinating: must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority. Do they truly pretend to know what the majority of the world thinks? What a standard? I would be disappointed if my 6th graders failed to see the logical consequences of such a paradigm. Lets think...at one time the majority of the world thought slavery was ok; at another time most people advocated monarchies; perhaps it wasn't quite the majority of the world, but certainly the majority of the world as the Aztecs knew it thought human sacrifice was advisable--so they did follow the standard of doing what was popular with the greatest number of people.
I side with Pope Benedict the XVI, who recently stated that it is the creative minority that most often influences history and changes the world.
Let's get creative...
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
This notion that health care ought to be determined at the lowest level rather than at the higher strata of society, has been promoted by the Church as “subsidiarity.” Subsidiarity is that principle by which we respect the inherent dignity and freedom of the individual by never doing for others what they can do for themselves and thus enabling individuals to have the most possible discretion in the affairs of their lives. (See: Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, ## 185ff.; Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1883) The writings of recent Popes have warned that the neglect of subsidiarity can lead to an excessive centralization of human services, which in turn leads to excessive costs, and loss of personal responsibility and quality of care.
Pope John Paul II wrote:
“By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.” (Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus #48)
And Pope Benedict writes:
“The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person -every person -needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. … In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live ‘by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3) - a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est #28)
While subsidiarity is vital to the structure of justice, we can see from what the Popes say that it rests on a more fundamental principal, the unchanging dignity of the person. The belief in the innate value of human life and the transcendent dignity of the human person must be the primordial driving force of reform efforts.
The “Right to Health Care” as taught by the Church is a companion to the fundamental right to life, and rights to other necessities, among them food, clothing, and shelter. It may be best understood as a “Right to Acquire the Means of Procuring for One’s Self and One’s Family these goods, and concomitantly, a duty to exercise virtue (diligence, thrift, charity) in every aspect of their acquisition and discharge. This language of rights, coupled with duties toward those who ‘through no fault of their own’ are unable to work, is present throughout papal teaching, and only reinforces the idea that, in its proper perspective, the goal is to live and to work and ‘to be looked after’ only in the event of real necessity.” (Source: Catholic Medical Association, 2004 document,Health Care in America. – bold and italics our own)
The right of every individual to access health care does not necessarily suppose an obligation on the part of the government to provide it. Yet in our American culture, Catholic teaching about the “right” to healthcare is sometimes confused with the structures of “entitlement.” The teaching of the
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
A couple of my recent comments to Kyle is posted below. I am eager to hear other people chime in on both this blog and Kyle's!
Kyle, et al...
Sorry I haven't been around for a few weeks.
Please allow me to posit the following remarks:
1. Kyle is right. V.P. Cheney did not make a sound case. His logic is flawed.
2. Teresa, I believe it was, to say that moral relativism is ok some of the time is preposterous. To state that such would be ok once in a while implies it is ok at all times. Moral Relativism is never ok. Like T. More said in R. Bolt's play, "Would you strike down every law in England to get the devil? [Roper says, "yes."] "Then where will hide when there is nothing in the land to stop the devil from coming down upon you?"
3. Kyle, we are at completely at odds with e/o when it comes to the issue of relativism. I side with P. Johnson in 'Modern Times' believing that moral relativism is at the heart of every problem and every evil that transpired in the 20th century.
4. I still uphold that severe, harsh questioning with physical and psychological tactics can be permissible by grounds of self-defense. Just like I don't think the death penalty is murder, so I don't think waterboarding is intrinsically torture.
5. I think that Dick Cheney will take Oh, Bama down with this torture issue. I think that Dick Cheney running for the presidency is possible if Obama doesn't change his tack--a Cheney-Obama debate would be fascinating to observe!
6. I think that libertarians are usual right but for the wrong reasons. I would say the same of Cheney, presently.
7. Some one said: If, according to Catholic teaching, the object chosen is intrinsically evil, the latter two sources of the moral rightness of an act cannot justify it. So, I make my point again, the question is whether EIT is intrinsically evil.
-I don't think EIT is intrinsically evil. Torture as revenge is wrong. Vengeance is not ours. But EIT upon an individual who is part of an ongoing plot of a certain nature can be reasonable.
So there it is, I continue disagree with every one of you. Aargh. Why is this?
Below I've pasted the entire section of Gaudium et Spes that keeps coming up. I copied the section from Vatican's website version of the "Pastoral Constitution."
MY COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.
-FIRST OFF, THIS DOCUMENT IS A PASTORAL CONSTITUTION, PROMULGATED BY PAUL VI...WHICH IMPLIES IT DOES NOT HAVE THE FULL WEIGHT AND AUTHORITY OF CHURCH TEACHING AND TRADITION BEHIND IT. (IT IS NOT AN ENCYCLICAL, IT IS NOT AN APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION, WHICH WOULD HAVE MORE WEIGHT.) IT DOES STILL IMPLY THAT WE SHOULD EXAMINE IT CAREFULLY AND EXPECT INFORMATION THAT CAN AFFECT OUR LIVES FOR THE BETTER, HOWEVER.
27. Coming down to practical and particularly urgent consequences, this council lays stress on reverence for man; everyone must consider his every neighbor without exception as another self, taking into account first of all His life and the means necessary to living it with dignity,(8) so as not to imitate the rich man who had no concern for the poor man Lazarus.(9)IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE SECTION SPECIFICALLY IS MEANT TO ADDRESS OUR TREATMENT OF THE POOR. WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT THE SAME SORT OF POOR IN OUR BACK AND FORTH.
In our times a special obligation binds us to make ourselves the neighbor of every person without exception. PASTORALLY SPEAKING THIS IS PERFECTLY TRUE, BUT IF OUR NEIGHBOR HARMS US WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO RECOMPENSE AND IF OUR NEIGHBOR ATTACKS WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO SELF DEFENSE. and of actively helping him when he comes across our path, whether he be an old person abandoned by all, a foreign laborer unjustly looked down uponHOW DOES THIS CATEGORY MEASURE UP TO THE OTHER ONES? THIS SORT OF INSERTION IS WHAT HAS CONVINCED SOME THEOLOGY STUDENTS THAT THIS DOCUMENT IS ONE OF THE WORST CONSENSUS DOCUMENTS VAT. II PRODUCED, a refugee, a child born of an unlawful union and wrongly suffering for a sin he did not commit, or a hungry person who disturbs our conscience by recalling the voice of the Lord, "As long as you did it for one of these the least of my brethren, you did it for me" (Matt. 25:40). AGAIN, NONE OF THE SCENARIOS LISTED ABOVE MAKE ME THINK THIS SECTION IS MEANT TO BE A GUIDE TO WHAT TO THINK OF EIT'S ON ENEMY COMBATANTS. (I AM ONLY ATTEMPTING TO DEFEND THE POSSIBILITY OF A SCENARIO WHERE EIT CAN BE JUSTIFIED, NOT ANY PAST USE OR ABUSE.)
Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments THIS SORT OF TERM NEEDS SERIOUS DISTINCTION AND CLARIFICATION BECAUSE ANYTHING COULD BE CLAIMED AS A 'TORMENT' TO SOMEONE!inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportationDEPORTATION? WERE THE WRITERS OF THIS DOC. SERIOUS? HOW IS THE JUST EXPELLING OF A PERSON WHO VIOLATED MULTIPLE LAWS TO ILLEGALLY ENTER A SOVEREIGN NATION APPLICABLE TO THIS SPECIFIC DISCUSSION OF SECTION 27 OF GAUDIUM ET SPES?, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies(DEFINED BY WEBSTERS AS A BAD REPUTATION) indeed. DOES ANYONE KNOW THE LATIN TERM AND ITS POSSIBLE OTHER TRANSLATIONS FOR/WHERE INFAMY IS HERE USED? INFAMY HARDLY SEEMS A UNIVERSAL CONDEMNATIONThey poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator. THIS LAST LINE SEEMS OUT OF PLACE WITH SOME OF THE OTHER LINES...AGAIN, HOW DOES DEPORTATION QUALIFY AS 'SUPREME DISHONOR TO THE CREATOR?"
The following is taken from the most noble, trustworthy source of information in the modern world: wikipedia!
It [Gaudium et Spes] has been criticized as over-optimistic, even from the floor of the council.
The ongoing question that arose from Gaudium et Spes is: how can the church be credible in a secular world? In the commentaries of the document, Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) called certain parts of Gaudium et Spes "downright Pelagian," particularly in the treatment of free will in article 17. He is not wholly negative in his judgment about Gaudium et Spes, however, and praises the discussion of atheism in articles 19-21 as “balanced and well-founded.”
Gaudium et Spes is a pastoral document. Lumen Gentium on the other hand is a dogmatic constitution document."
This excerpt may not have specific impact on our ongoing disagreements, but it does help serve to show us the weight we ought to give the pastoral document; casting doubt as to whether you can say that G. et S. has the authority to claim universal, complete denunciation of anything.
-Any insight people have to offer on Gaudium et Spes would be very welcome as well!
Monday, May 11, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
While L'Osservatore Romano took a mild editorial view toward the Obama presidency, other voices from the Vatican are more critical. At a conference on human rights sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, Archbishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon, France, said that Obama's "subjective" approach to human rights actually undermines human dignity. Father Michel Schooyans denounced the "messianism" of the approach taken by Obama and Tony Blair. He continued:
In fact, a society that calls itself democratic but whose leaders, invoking subjective "new rights," permit the elimination of some categories of human beings, is a society that has already set out on the road of totalitarianism.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I don't have a definitive answer. But let me mention a few thoughts.
-Christ was certainly willing to be tough at times. When the money changers desecrated the temple Christ personally smacked them with a whip-like instrument. Was such a torturous action? Christ smacked them and publicly humbled them. Christ embarrassed there fragile psyches and physically assaulted their bodies, their temples of the Holy Spirit.
-Christ also buys into justice. Of Judas, it would be better for him if he had never been born. Of someone that would harm a child, may he have a millstone tied about his neck and be cast into the sea.
I suppose the definition of torture is at issue here. Is waterboarding torture because it scares someone? Is putting a caterpillar in a closet with someone afraid of bugs torture?
I am inclined to believe that if it is possible to have a just war, then it is possible to have a just extraction of information...but there is certainly a fine line that cannot morally be crossed. I don't have an exact demarcation of that line myself, though I would tend to be cautious so as not to risk crossing that line.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
All families and homeowners should be required to house and maintain a horse. The positive benefits to society will be as follows:
1. people will realize that even majestic animals are typically a great burden and royal pain. worth it if you love horses, but a real pain...this will have a great effect on the ignoramuses at PETA, and those that are wooed into sympathizing with the PETAns
2. synthetic glue marketers and manufacturers will see more competition
3. people will have to start having more kids, so that they don't have to do all the horse-ing around. farmers usually have many kids, share the wealth/burden!
4. jobs! horse trainers will be in high demand again, not to mention the shipping and growing of hay...small time farm operations will be more profitable due to increased demand for hay
5. less potentially harmful chemicals in the soil and food supply...the great glut of horse processed plant matter has to go some where
6. (and last for tonight) increased sense of responsibility for something other than yourself
I know this isn't quite workable, but it could save the world, maybe?
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Ms Christine Flowers has a lovely little article defending the continued illegal status of Marijuana and other currently illegal drugs. This has been a somewhat pet issue with me for some time. Allow me to expand in bullet point fashion. Ms. Flowers’ article is l
-This is my greatest beef with Libertarians…it doesn’t hurt me, let them do what they want to themselves. Hemingway and Donne both explained it well…’For Whom [does] the Bell Toll’? ‘It Tolls for Thee.’ Everytime a member of our league, that is humanity, is lost we all lose something. As father Klein once said…if he is still addicted to drugs or alcohol then you don’t really have him back…meaning that someone who is addicted to such controlling substances is not free to be a part of society. They may be high functioning at times, but an addicted soul is not a free soul. A man who is always acting under the spell or compulsion of drugs is not himself. If someone is addicted to drugs then it is a long slow toll of the bell for thee!
-Let’s say the congress legalized marijuana…that’s commonly accepted as the least dangerous drug on the list. How many people can drink a beer and then safely drive a forklift…I ‘d wager most all of us. How many can smoke one joint and then safely drive a forklift…it’s not a bet I want to take, though neither is prudent. A considerable amount of my research activities in DC at the think tank/lobby group FRC were dedicated to the issue of medical marijuana. I think people need to keep in mind that current strains of the plant yield more than 30% of the active ingredient THC, while the stuff the “hippies” were smoking in the 60’s averaged only around 3 to 5%. If you are an old hippie, or just from that age, or foolishly romantic about that age, then you should be very aware of the new state of the plant and its wildly expanded potency!
-If you want to use THC as a drug…make a pill. Actually a suppository is quicker in delivering the active ingredient than is inhaling the smoke…which one coroner told me is significantly more damaging to lungs than is simple cigarette smoke-and just think of the bans states have place on cig. Smoke! It’s not like states are legalizing opium production for the diseased and disabled the way CA and others have done with ‘medical cannibis.’ Why? That’s my next point.
-Recall the Opium Wars of the history books…Imagine something like 8 of every 10 people in the country being addicted to a drug…that was China at one time. Britain defended their right to engage in free trade (read: selling addictive drugs) to the people of China and militarily defeated China’s government to preserve this ‘right.’ How much harm was done to China by doing so? I’ve read that entire villages ceased to function…as everyone hung out in the Opium Den all day. Gangs of thugs roamed the streets to get money for the legal ‘goods.’ And gangs sent by merchants prowled the streets to lure more customers…image the billboards that would be on the freeway to recruit your kids like a cool-hip new rendition of the Marlboro man with a syringe wedged in his hat bank-sure such a comic lure would be made illegal, but there would undoubtedly be advertising. Even well-raised kids with everything going for them would find it tough to resist peer pressure when it is legal. Some kids would certainly resist, but how many good kids have experimented with alcohol and then turned away…you can’t just turn away so easily with highly addictive stuff.
-Some argue that a more cleanly refined product would be less dangerous…but morphine is exactly that, well-refined opium…it remains one of the most addictive substances on earth. The body physically craves the stuff forever, once it is tried. Imagine legally experimenting with the stuff, just for kicks when you’re young…The rest of your life could be a constant struggle to fight addiction.
-The documents, articles, and figures, I read and reviewed at FRC about eight years ago as regards the Netherlands’ experiments with drug legalization were severely disturbing…they tried and continue with a narrow legalization, all is ‘fare’ and legal in the red light district. Drugs of all shapes, sizes, potencies, and qualities were legalized in one small area so that those who do it anyway would be clear of the rest of society. The story that disturbed me above all others: prostitutes, all addicted to heroin, lined the streets, sat in a chair behind a clear glass door, naked for the world to use. To think that drug use and addiction doesn’t lead to sexual exploitation of young women who experimented and became addicts is preposterous. Drug experimentation, especially if it is legal and thereby more common, will lead to junkies who are incapable of functioning…imagine your sister or daughter, addicted to drugs because of foolish college experimentation being abused by prostitution so that she can get the next dose she craves. Now imagine the source of that addiction was legal and you hand no recourse to intervene for her good and for her life.
-Some time back PBS did interviews with drug addicts in Europe, who, thanks to their society’s permiscuous goodwill gave them clean needles and cleanly refined heroin. Though they were no longer in the same danger they were in in the streets from gangs and unclean product, they were still addicts, incapable of being the people they were raised and capable of being.
-I was shocked to see that Pat Buchannon even endorsed drug legalization. Of course Buchannon also argued that the US would eventually bring in Quebec as the 51st state, and Greenland as well. Good grief. Of course, if the US thinks it is well and good to allow mothers to abort, or terminate, the lives of their young, forming children then allowing profit maximizing companies to peddle addictive, mind-altering drugs is not unreasonable.http://www.philly.com/dailynews/opinion/20090327_Christine_M__Flowers__Legalize_drugs__Far_out__dude___
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Below is a portion of the transcript from Obama's press conference from Tuesday March 24th. Obama's remarks on stem cell funding and ethical wrestling seems to have received no coverage based on my searches. I've inserted my commentary in bold print throughout the text of the transcript.
OK. John Ward, Washington Times? Where's John?
Question: Thank you, sir.
Obama: There you go.
Question: Thank you, Mr. President.
Question: In your remarks on stem cell research earlier this month, you talked about a majority consensus in determining whether or not this is the right thing to do, to federally fund embryonic stem cell research.
I'm just wondering, though, how much you personally wrestled with the morality or ethics of federally funding this kind of research, especially given the fact that science so far has shown a lot of progress with adult stem cells, but not a lot with embryonic?
Obama: OK. No, I think it's a legitimate question. I wrestle with these issues every day.
As I mentioned to -- I think in an interview a couple of days ago, by the time an issue reaches my desk, it's a hard issue. If it was an easy issue, somebody else would have solved it and it wouldn't have reached me.We disagree. If you are certain of a hard and fast rule, such as ‘murder is wrong’ or ‘organic is good,’ then on all questions that relate to those foundation principles a decision is easy. If you have a solid core of beliefs, if you believe in absolutes, then moral questions are rarely mind boggling.
Look, I believe that it is very important for us to have strong moral guidelines, ethical guidelines,what are those guidelines?—are they more than just popular consensus? when it comes to stem cell research or anything that touches on, you know, the issues of possible cloning or issues related to, you know, the human life sciences.
I think those issues are all critical, and I've said so before. I wrestle with it on stem cell; I wrestle with it on issues like abortion. But every vote you have ever cast sides against conservatives. Every social policy you promote seems one-sided. The Mexico City Policy, calling abortion a “right” while campaigning, saying your daughter could be “punished by a pregnancy,” rescinding the conscience protections Bush signed into law, and now using tax money to do research on stem cells from aborted (murdered) children. Your record shows no sign of any wrestling…you have the highest rating NARAL can give…clearly they don’t see you wrestling with this either. Perhaps you do wrestle, but the decision always seems to be the same.
I think that the guidelines that we provided meet that ethical test.What Ethical test? I’m yet to see where you identified the grounds, rubrics, or criteria of any test? I know of no anti-abortion advocates you've included in your staff...is abortion advocacy your litmus test? Do you think an anti-abortion judge could ever be fit for you to nominate to the Supreme Court? What we have said is that, for embryos that are typically -- about to be discarded, for us to be able to use those in order to find cures for Parkinson's or for Alzheimer's or, you know, all sorts of other debilitating diseases, juvenile diabetes, that it is the right thing to do. If you saw the child from which the stem cells were extracted as a murder victim, then you would likely have a problem with how they were acquired…so, do you have a problem with how the stem cells are acquired? If you’re ok with abortion then I don’t see why you would need to wrestle with the issue of funding stem cell research, as you said before. If abortion is murder, then no one should have these stem cells in the first place. (miscarriage would be a completely separate issue)
And that's not just my opinion. That is the opinion of a number of people who are also against abortion. I’m curious to hear names. And, again, is consensus the criteria, is pragmatically making the greatest number of people happy your criteria? It’s not a matter of how many people hold the opinion. What reasoning, logic, teleology (ends/means thinking) do YOU use to draw these conclusions?
Now, I am glad to see progress is being made in adult stem cells. And if the science determines that we can completely avoid a set of ethical questions or political disputes, then that's great.When do you think all scientists could ever agree on that? How can science prove that stem cells could never be useful for some scientific experiment. Science can’t prove that. Some scientist will always want to tinker with stem cells. The question remains: what is the morality of acquiring the stem cells in the first place?
I have no investment in causing controversy. I'm happy to avoid it if that's where the science leads us. But what I don't want to do is predetermine this based on a very rigid ideological approach (this is code for???), and that's what I think is reflected in the executive order that I signed.How is a matter of moral reasoning labeled as mere ideology? I’m more than ever inclined to believe that you hold no absolutes. Is there one action which is forever wrong under any and all circumstances no matter where or when you live?
Question: I meant to ask -- just to follow up -- do you think that scientific consensus is enough to tell us what we can and cannot do?
Obama: No. I think there's always an ethical and a moral element that has to be a part of this. Again, what is that line of ethical and moral reasoning? What are your philosophical/ethical/moral premises that lead you to this conclusion? And so, as I said, I don't take decisions like this lightly. They're ones that I take seriously, and I respect people who have different opinions on this issue. (like those you labeled as people who “cling to guns and relgion?”
But I think that this was the right thing to do and the ethical thing to do.Again, why do you think this? On what grounds? And as I said before, my hope is, is that we can find a mechanism, ultimately, to cure these diseases in a way that gains 100 percent consensus. And we certainly haven't achieved that yet, (do you honestly think that that is in any way possible in your life time?) but I think on balance this was the right step to take. Is a balance of good and bad your standard? If it is only a little bit evil then is it ok? What is your balanced criteria?