Sunday, December 28, 2014

Another Catholic view on Torture

Another interesting article.  Those who take the Talk Radio approach to the issue probably do a disservice to the topic.  Again, torture is what the bad guys did in my view.  And so far, I haven't been convinced that waterboarding doesn't fall into the category of torture.  Like I've said, if we had an old war movie where Japanese or Germans were waterboarding an American serviceman, I seriously doubt we would have said, "Whew, thank goodness.  At least they weren't torturing him!'  But it is a complex issue, especially in light of the Islamic terrorists' willingness to throw all rules of war out the window and fight completely outside of any acceptable laws or standards, for a completely new set of objectives, and with an entirely new approach to warfare.  And since it's our generation, that has little connection to anything beyond our own hand picked demographics, it's been easy to criticize while proudly declaring no particular solution to any of the problems.

So I'm open to the debate.  Those who do anything short of 'I'd torture babies for the American way!', or those who invoke 'Evil America anyway!'.  Oh, and that goes for those who feel fine about breaking Jesus' commandments about judging and accusing and Raca and Fool to prove a point.  Read it.  It's worth the time.

I must see Unbroken

Based on this review alone, though watching the previews and knowing a bit of the history, I was already looking forward to it.  A movie that portrays faith and patriotism well, and the Japanese as brutal and sadistic?  Wow.  You don't see that much anymore.  Especially since the focus of America's contributions to WWII - when the emphasis isn't on it being a vast conspiracy set off by the American Military Industrial Machine - is typically the A-Bombs, Dresden, our antisemitism, and the Japanese internment camps.

BTW, on the same note, my son got my wife and me the movie Argo. Ben Affleck turned in a wonderful performance and did quite a job in the director's seat as well.  But more stunning was the fact that the Iranians were actually portrayed pretty savagely, while acknowledging that some of our policies were to blame.  But the really jaw-dropping part?  The CIA actually comes off looking sort of good.  Almost like heroes.  That's like a movie that portrays the Gestapo in a good light.

I always enjoy it when a Hollywood production bucks the liberal/post-modern trend.  I remember when Red Dawn was released in 1984.  It was almost surreal.  Not because of the implausibility of the scenario.  But because it actually made the Communists look like bad guys and more shockingly the US as the good guys.  Like my boys said when they recently discovered old reruns of the 60s farcical comedy series Hogan's Heroes; the difference between Hogan's Heroes and MASH?  Hogan's Heroes never forgot who the bad guys were.

It's a nice reminder, especially for Internet Catholics, who can sometimes feel righteous for proclaiming the eternally irredeemable evil of America as part of sacred confession.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Always remember that the United States is the bad guy

So the recent Sony scandal and North Korea's response has been an excellent diversion from news about Obama.  Even though things have looked up recently, the press has spent so much time covering for Obama when things were going sour, I don't think they know how to give the man credit when things actually go well.

Anyway, we probably all know the story.  I couldn't care less about the movie.  The reaction was everything I've come to expect from our generation of awesome hipsters.  But this little piece, where Russia throws its lot in with North Korea on the issue caught my attention.

For most liberals and leftists and non-conformists and post-moderns, the West and America are the baddies.  We're the bad guys.  Why the whole Cold War, and maybe even WWII, might have been a giant staged conspiracy by the evil US Industrial War Machine against a flawed, but misunderstood civilization known as the USSR.  So naturally, we assume that when the US is beat down a notch, the world couldn't help but be better off for it.

I hope they're right.  Since stories like this remind us that the vastness of Islamic civilization, the rise of India and China as competitors on the world stage, and little things like this regarding Russia and other old Cold War antagonists, suggests that such will be rushing into to fill the gaps as Western Europe and the US sink into second and third rate status.  If they're wrong?  Then in typical post-war post modern fashion, I'm sure most will console themselves by reminding themselves taht it will be future generations that will pay the price.

Thys be a blisful seasoun

A little Chaucer talk for our Christmas dinner this year, courtesy of Chaucer Doth Tweet.  We tried, for the first time, a Medieval meat pie, and let me tell you one thing - because it ain't two things - that was a scrumptious dinner.  We supplemented it with plenty of Victorian era side dishes, but replaced the Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding with the meat pie.  And that was a smashing success.  Here's a pic from the finished product.  It was not light!  But it was very, very good. 

The family that plays together stays together

A philosophy we live by, as demonstrated by the shelves and shelves of games and other forms of entertainment we have.  If we had more money, we'd travel. But in lieu of that, we make the most of what we have.  And for the plentiful days of bad weather that Ohio provides, especially in the Fall and Winter months, we have quite a selection of games to play.  Though video games, and new game apps, occupy the boys, there is still room for family games and family time.  So much so that they still ask for board games as well as tech stuff (and sometimes in some years, instead of tech stuff).

Here are some that we received this year, some by request, others by revelation.  In addition to some old standards, like Battleship and Scattergories, that were requested, and some for the youngest, including an awesome kiddie version of Scrabble so he can join our annual Scrabble game on New Year's Eve, the following should prove some fun hours in the upcoming year:

Based on the battle at the end of The Hobbit, the game (and its partner game War of the Ring) is based more on the books than the PJ movies.  And a good thing, since that helps it stay closer to the source material.  These games were the request of my 16 year old, and while ostensibly for multiple players, they are probably easier to play between two players.  The rules and flavoring and events mirror the books and the feel that one has when reading Middle Earth from Tolkien's perspective.  Not games made for a brief half hour to kill, the War of the Rings has been a joy, and this promises to be just as fun. 

Years ago, my parents bought a game called Labyrinth for our boys.  It was by a game maker named Ravensburger Games.  It was fun and well received, but we didn't play it often since even then, the older boys felt the pull of growing up, leaving our third son holding the bag with Mom and Dad.  But now our youngest has discovered it, and can't get enough playing Labyrinth.  Our boys, being good big brothers, have rotated playing it as well.  So given the quality and experience with that game, we found this product from Ravensburger.  We don't know if he'll like it as much, but if it comes close to Labyrinth it will be money well spent. 

When I was in high school, I had the idea of taking the board game RISK and adapting it to a World War II setting. I  even drew up rules and everything.  I never bothered sending it in, which is good news for everyone else but me.  Only a year or so later, a game called Axis and Allies was released, taking certain basic game concepts not unlike those in RISK, and multiplying them for a full blown WWII contest.  Two other games came out at that time: Fortress America and Shogun (or Samurai in other editions).  The latter two didn't have the same fanbase or numbers to sustain them like WWII had.  Still, I played Shogun once, and it was a blast. Now, with the miracle of, we were able to find an intact version for a reasonable price.  We'll see if it lives up to my memories.  Now if only I could find an intact version of Dark Tower for a reasonable price!

For years, decades perhaps, Avalon Hill was the undisputed master of historically inspired strategy and tactical games.  The old cardboard chits piled high in those days, and AH did an admirable job of combining scholarship with fun game play.  Some games were more complex than others, though striking a right combination between playability and historical accuracy was always key.  This is, as one could guess, based on the American Revolution.  The Historical Notes section of the rules makes clear this is not some modern Multi-Cultural PC version of events, but one that seeks to make actual events and players in the Revolution come alive.  We already have one Revolutionary War game, this one should add nicely to the collection. 

Based on reader recommendation, I couldn't find a rating for this that was under 4 of 5 stars.  It's in a historical genre completely out of my league.  Though I've studied some Asian history, most of my focus has been on Chinese if anything at all.  My knowledge of Japanese history comes in mostly toward the post-Industrial era.  It's certainly a pretty game, but we'll see. We may play Shogun first just to get the flavor of the period, since the two seem to be coming from similar historical settings. This also has a similar 'feel' to the game Mansions of Madness, which can only bode well for the game.  We'll see.  

But so far, enough games, as well as a couple in holding for Twelfth Night, and those our youngest received, that should keep us busy in addition to our store of games we already have.  A merry season indeed! 

Not all atheists are cowardly and ill informed

As demonstrated here. Not that it's a real 'that's wrong, stupid, cowardly and lame' take on this annual ritual, but at least he admits the yearly bed wetting with middle fingers by atheists could be overdone. That's something at least.

The problem is, there's nothing to hit atheists with.  Most live in denial of what their atheism really means - oblivion and an eventual end to the point of humanity having ever existed.  Not to mention that all things non-material are, by definition, illusions and fairy tales made up by life forms desperate to have purpose while we pass on our DNA.  All, of course, until the earth ends and the aforementioned pointlessness of the human race is made clear.

Not to mention try to tell most atheists that atheism is simply a belief, and it's like trying to explain to a 6 month old that the world is really round.  Not all, but most today. So as weak and meh this little piece is, I'll take it.  Like seeing the alluded to Fred Phelps take in a stray dog.  It doesn't mean much, but it's something.

I much prefer the take down on Mark Shea's blog the other day, that uses that part of the debate most modern atheists shrink from: logic, intelligence, reality, facts, data, open mindedness, curiosity, free thinking and self reflection. And all courtesy of one of the great smack downs of faith equals stupid in our modern era.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

And a blessed Christmas Tide to all.  I'll be more scarce than usual, due to busyness and a desire to spend as much time over the next couple weeks with the family as possible.  May you and yours share a special time and rejoice over the reason that we have this day to celebrate in the first place.

All is not insanity on the Catholic blogosphere

For proof, I give you John C. Wright's excellent musings on the entire Torture debate.  I'm still not convinced that waterboarding doesn't qualify as torture.  I just can't see the Nazis doing it and us shrugging our shoulders and saying 'At least they didn't torture the fellow.'  Still, the greater point is the dangers posed in such a heated debate, and how they apply to both sides.  Those who would gladly torture for the American way?  Shame.  Those who nonetheless distort and even lie for the greater good?  Catholics, need we say?  An excellent piece that should be read before entering into the debate.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The media has sown the wind

And now it scrambles to avoid responsibility for reaping the whirlwind.  As two murdered police officers are mourned, a nation that spent the last months whipped into a frenzy of cop-hate by the media will demonstrate the glories of the post-modern era that doesn't sweat truth or consistent principles.  Right now the only real issue for the media is the focus on de Blasio and his former statements about murderous, racist cops. But there are others to blame.  Many, many others.  While it is certainly fair to call out injustices, seek answers, and protest wrongs, what we saw was a whipped up frenzy of hate and fanaticism that would have shamed a Nuremberg rally.  And those who were swept up in this exclusive focus on our murderous, racist KKK cops in new uniforms?  Blood on hands folks.  Blood on hands.  For if opposing homosexual normality makes one responsible for Matthew Shepherd, and focusing on Islamic terrorism makes you responsible for the killings at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, then the logical conclusion is that all who pounded the drum of Evil Racist Cop has the same culpability in this case.  Expect this to be said by our White House or media elite...not at all. 

Peace to all who have lost loved ones.  Peace to people killed wrongly by police, and peace for the police who must risk their lives to protect us.  And peace to those cops and their families for being victims of a media constructed witch hunt.  May God grant them strength and perseverance in the coming months.  

P.S.  I was going to post some tweets celebrating and mocking the policemen's murders, but decided not to.  Such evil is not worth touching.  God rest their souls.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Torture on the Catholic blogosphere

It should come as no surprise that the release of the Senate report has opened up a floodgate of posts across the blogosphere.  Mark Shea has posted almost a dozen in just a couple days.  As one who stands back and watches, I'm amazed at the overall hatred and contempt that one sees for the US in many of the arguments.  At this point, it's simply assumed that the US has ever and always been an evil nation, a nation of genocide and slaughter, bigotry and racism.  There are Catholics who hate America, and ironically, live up to yet one more stereotype of old.  That stereotype was from those anti-Catholics of the 19th century who warned that Catholics would come to our shores, serving the Pope but using the US until it was done with it, then running back to Papa.

Thank goodness they were wrong!  After reading several posts, I put in my two cents about the whole 'America is a racist genocidal nation, torture doesn't represent our values!' hilarity so common in our modern narrative.  In a show of sad demonstration, less than a half hour later a regular on CAEI posts that the statement I responded to was spot on.  The US is always and has always been the Great Evil.  Again, having sex with prostitutes while calling them whores.  Sometimes it staggers my imagination the number of Catholics who appear capable of living up to negative stereotypes or vindicating old prejudices.  I'm sure it will continue.  And it will continue nowhere else more consistently than at CAEI, where such is not just tolerated, but increasingly encouraged.  By a conservative, patriotic Catholic no less.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Remember Pearl Harbor

Just saying.  I've not seen it mentioned much.  A couple news clips.  Nothing major. That is was a sunny Sunday like today all those years ago, as well as the 7th of December, just makes it more special.  Here's a piece I did my first year of blogging.  I can't say it much better.

Wisconsin Rest in Peace

The Wisconsin Badgers never knew what hit them.  Almost every sports analyst knew it would either be a squeak by win by OSU, or the Badgers would mop the floor with the topsy turvy Buckeyes.  After all, OSU was playing with a 3rd string quarterback in his first career start.  This after loosing not one, but two Heisman trophy candidate quarterbacks in the same season.

And on top of that, it dealt with the apparent suicide death of one of its own, some suggesting that concussions played a part (and interestingly not mentioning his wrestling career as possible blame - but that's for another day).  Given last year's disaster against Michigan State, and the equally embarrassing show in the bowl game, many wondered.

Cardale Jones, the 3rd man who started as quarterback this year, came onto the field with the lowest of expectations.  If he doesn't botch it, and the defense steps up, we might make a run of it.  Then, on the first possession, after only a couple plays, Jones stepped up in the well defended pocket and heaved a whopping 50 yard bomb into 'glue on his fingers' Devin Smith in the end zone.  One of the most impressive catches of the game.  Touchdown.  It all went down for Wisconsin from there. At 59-0, it was Wisconsin's worst defeat since 1979 (against OSU then), and one of the worst defeats in Big Ten championship history.

Boasting one of the best running backs to ever play college football, and a clear favorite for the Heisman, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon was completely shut down.  Whenever the young man had the ball, there were at least 4 OSU jerseys on the spot. The Wisconsin offensive line couldn't keep up, and Gordon was on his own, barely making 76 yards - a disaster for him.

In addition to several turnovers by Wisconsin, and a howitzer leg punter who twice put the ball back inside the Wisconsin 5 Yard Line, nothing went right for Wisconsin.  And more than anything, Ohio State made it look easy.  It was as if it was an exhibition game by a team of crack veterans, not a 3rd stringer in his first start with a team filled to the brim with freshmen.

Now the pundits will debate.  For me, I'd be happy with Ohio State not going to the playoffs.  Stretching ourselves past expectations has not always worked well with the Buckeyes in recent years. Wisconsin seemed to plan against the short pass and the run.  Logically, since being green, one could have expected Jones to be nervous and gun shy and stick to short passes and heavy running.  Other teams won't make the mistake.  They will exploit what weaknesses OSU had last night, and be prepared for a mature, capable team, not a team of green freshmen.  We'll see.

What Pope Francis said

According to headlines, was that the Koran was a prophetic book of peace.  Thomas McDonald puts that in its place.  Apparently he didn't, but simply quoted what Muslims think the Koran happens to be.  But like Mr. McDonald, the more disturbing thing for me at least was his referencing fundamentalists as somehow the Christian equivalent of Islamic terrorists.

Not that I'm a fundamentalist, but I remember when even the TV show The West Wing had a show dedicated to pointing out that while fundamentalists are truly the most despicable form of human life, in fairness, they aren't murderers.  They don't fly jets into skyscrapers, they don't behead captives, they don't strap bombs to women and blow up buses filled with innocent children.

When CNN had a special called God's Warriors, many eyebrows were raised by who they chose to cover.  There were Islamic terrorists, radical Zionists, and Christian fundamentalists teaching abstinence only education.  Certainly, even the most stout non-fundie critics admitted, there was one in that group that wasn't like the others.

So Pope Francis dropping what even the more hardcore liberal and leftists were willing to shy from seems a bit strange, or possibly telling. Remember, he's not a liberal or a socialist.  All such accusations are the result of media lies or conservative radicals.  That only the most hardcore leftists lump Christian fundamentalists in the same group as Islamic terrorists means nothing at all.

File Under: Jury still out

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lessons from Ferguson

By Rich Lowry.

  • Don't rob convenience stores.
  • Don't push around minimum wage workers (usually the most important people in the world, but strangely irrelevant in this case)
  • Don't assault police officers.
  • When a police officer pulls his gun and tells you to stop, then stop.  

Seems pretty simple.  Yet young people say they can't do the right thing without being assaulted by police.  So by the right thing, I'm to assume they mean plenty of the above?

Again, remember those old time mobs and masses we used to scoff at?  See the local news to learn how they happen.