Thursday, December 17, 2009

Here and There

An eclectic mix of posts and articles that captured my attention recently -- perhaps yours as well?
  • "A Somewhat Dispirited Advent Post" Maclin Horton (Light on Dark Water):
    It’s ten days until Christmas, and I believe I’ve thought less about Advent and Christmas this year than in any year of my life past the age of three or so. ...
  • Health Care, Politicians and the Catholic Conscience - Carl Anderson reveals the double standard of some Catholic politicians:
    For decades, Americans have been subjected to the arguments of certain Catholic politicians who argued that while "personally opposed" to unjust policies like abortion, they were nonetheless unwilling to "impose" that view on the rest of the country.

    The argument was disingenuous, premised on the fact that somehow a "Catholic" conscience had to be put to the side in the public square.

    Now, the very people who argued that they couldn't bring their private conscience into a secular public square are poised to use the law to impose a particular view on their fellow Catholics.

    Also on health care reform, see "Health-Care U" by Fr. Thomas D. Williams (National Review Nov. 6, 2009) and "The Catholic case against health care reform by Phil Lawler (Catholic Culture), both addressing the question:
    Just for the sake of the argument, let’s assume that the final legislation includes a solid pro-life amendment. Should Catholics then give their legislation their wholehearted support?
  • George J. Marlin is an editor of The Quotable Fulton Sheen, on the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Archbishop Fulton Sheen (The Catholic Thing December 9, 2009).

  • Paul Zummo (The Cranky Conservative) reviews Sarah Palin's Going Rogue:
    It’s probably not a good idea generally to buy a book out of spite, but in some ways that is precisely what I did when I picked up Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue. We had had a meeting at work, and several of my co-workers were amusing themselves with some anti-Palin jibes. So at lunch time I decided to take a stroll to the local book store and pick up Palin’s book, prompting the “Oh, Sarah Palin” observation from the clerk, who must be wondering why anyone in the middle of enlightened Dupont Circle would be interested in the right-wing Neanderthal. And I have to admit that I also delayed reading the book until after I got home from Thanksgiving vacation so that I could proudly read the book on the Metro. ...

  • Eric Cohen (editor of The New Atlantis on "The Moral Realism of Irving Kristol" (National Affairs Winter 2010):
    the differences between More and Kristol are hardly ­trivial. Irving Kristol lived a long, happy, fortunate life, and he was never put to the ultimate test of choosing between betraying his principles and death by execution. Kristol never served in any official capacity in the government of his time, and yet he did not "fail utterly" at all in influencing the politics of his age: He was the "intellectual godfather" of a new ­governing ­conservatism, one that combined sobriety about the limits of politics and man with a reasonable faith in the American future. Yet like More, ­Kristol had no delusions about radically transforming the human condition in general or the imperfect society in which he lived. Like More, he was a man without cynicism, though he possessed (as thoughtful men and women typically do) a deep sense of irony, paradox, and contradiction. And like More, he was a man of noble character whose life and thought instructed the generations that followed him in the nature of intellectual statesmanship. If there is, in the end, a profound difference from More, it is that Kristol was never inclined to write his own Utopia. He focused instead on trying to describe the problems and crises of the modern American age, without giving in to either apocalyptic despair or apocalyptic solutions.
  • Austin Ruse on "the acid reflux of the questioning church" (The Catholic Thing):
    ... They are angry that Benedict cut through the failed ecumenical project and simply invited Anglicans to join the Catholic Church, creating a way for them to do it. They are angry that Rome has allowed and encouraged the Mass of Blessed John XXXIII (also known as the Tridentine Mass). They are angry that the Church continues to demand the protection of unborn children as the central human-rights issue of our day. They are angry about Humanae Vitae. They are angry!
  • Despite Ray Bradbury’s Efforts, a California Library Closes:
    "Libraries raised me. I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries, because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years."

  • Ghostwriter Town - Joe Carter (First Things) asks: "Why do we let people who “claim to be intellectual leaders” take credit for words and idea that they didn’t produce themselves?"

  • Why I'll never go swimming in Australia: a man nearly lost his life to a deadly, peanut-size jellyfish:
    Australia is well known for its myriad deadly creatures, but the Irukandji remains relatively mysterious. It is a distant relative of the more notorious and widely feared box jellyfish, the sting of which can kill an adult within 2 minutes. But the Irukandji is virtually impossible to see and is tiny enough to pass through nets meant to keep jellyfish away from popular swimming spots.
  • The I.R.S. has gone after a single mom making $10 an hour - ""The auditor said, 'You made eighteen thousand, and our data show a family of three needs at least thirty-six thousand to get by in Seattle." (Seattle Times December 6, 2009).

  • This'll cheer you up: That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy , by Charles Duhigg (New York Times December 17, 2009):
    Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases ...
  • Lastly, I don't know what's scarier -- this, John Ashcroft's "Let the Eagle Soar", or MC Karl Rove?

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