Monthly Archives: January 2005

Social Democracy with a human face

Now this story is something to keep in mind the next time someone tells you about the advantages of the European-style social democracies…

A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing “sexual services” at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

(Kudus to Pejman.)

UPDATE: apparently this story is fake but accurate. (1 Mar 2005)

Garage Band

I’m building a case for us to buy a Mac Mini so I can fool around with Garage Band. I was talking to someone here who (unlike me) actually has a clue about music about Garage Band. He’s enthusiastic, of couse, but since I’m clueless he wondered what I would do with it. That led me into a discussion of Lileks’ bleatophany. The Star Trek tunes are the. Best. Tunes. Ever.

(Of course, the case I’m building doesn’t mention GarageBand. It focuses on how we could use iMovie to make iDVDs of our wonderful kids for distribution to assorted friends and family. Duh.)

video mini-review: X-Men 2 United.

I do 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer every night, watching something or other I got from the library. The past couple of days it has been X-Men 2. Now, I was never a fan of the X-Men, or for that matter, Marvel comics. I was always a DC-type of guy and Batman was my favorite. The Batman movies weren’t all that great, and they got worse with time. But I liked the Spider-Man movies okay.

Anway, the X-Men wasn’t operating that level. It was okay to watch. I especially liked the scene where one of the characters pilots the advanced jet through about 20 tornadoes caused by the character “Storm”. CGI forever! But beyond that, whatever. I give it 2 stars (out of 4).

growing up Catholic

I grew up as a Roman Catholic. I started out going to Immaculate Conception church, but for whatever reason (I wasn’t consulted) my mother switched us to St. Jude’s Mission. The priest at St. Jude’s was Father Diamond, but he was assisted by Father Holley, who I remember today only as a producer of apalling sermons. (I specifically recall one whose central illustration was evidently adapted from Tony Orlando and Dawn’s Tie a Yellow Ribbon… quite closely adapted, right down to the bus driver and the hundred ribbons tied to the old oak tree. The only worse sermon illustration I ever heard was from a Presbyterian pastor, who talked about the boy with no ears. Which might have been the inspiration for this story.)

My guardian angels must have been working overtime, because that’s all I remember about Father Holley. But some people have other memories of him. In fact, he is a “textbook case” of how the Church covered up priest abuse. I only just learned all this when Google found me this story about what he’s been doing lately.

Bitter America

I saw a flyer for Church Folks for a Better America at school today. The web site doesn’t say how many people belong to the organization. From its name to the omni-present plural in its statements, it suggests but never says that there are more than just its leader. I have some familiarity with him and with others who (judging from the flyer) are affiliated with him. To be honest, it looks to me like some kind of interlocking directorate:

A project of the Peace Action Education Fund, educational arm of the Coalition for Peace Action

Anyway, from their purpose statement, I surmise that a better America is one that works for peace. Or at least ends its military involvement in Iraq. Which is to say, this is just one more anti-war group pretending to have a broad agenda of betterment for America. It also suggests that their vision for a better America is theologically informed, these being Church folks. But note the articles linked from the front page, and, especially, the “Analysts We Like” page. How many of them advance theological positions against the war? Several appear to be generic left-wingers (Molly Ivins, WaPo editorials, …) opposed to the war on ideological grounds?

Note that a letter by religious leaders begins with a theological argument but quickly transitions to more worldly concerns:

disregard for international laws against torture, for the legal rights of suspected “enemy combatants,” and for the adverse consequences your decisions have had at home and abroad

What specific expertise do religious leaders bring to a discussion of international laws, legal rights, and adverse consequences? Don’t get me wrong: many of the names on the list belong to people I know and respect. But while their motivations for signing this letter may be theologically informed (and I would note, looking at the diversity of faith traditions the signatories represent, it would be a very generic theology) the argument advanced by the letter is not. Certainly church folks should be concerned with these issues. But their contribution to the discussion ought to be theological rather than an echo of what worldly leftists think.


The word virtue comes from the same Latin root as virile; virtues are properties of men (as opposed to beasts, rather than women, presumably). A list of the classical virtues is available from these people, whose stated desire to restore the classical religion of Rome is difficult to take seriously.