Monday, August 25, 2008

DNC Thoughts: First Night

I came away with a mixed view. Rather than try to build up to a conclusion, I'll just spit it out: she comes across as a tone-deaf, wide-eyed zealot. She's got a compelling story, she's cute, and she obviously loves her family very much, but it comes across as blithe. It was like watching slightly shy, earnest girl who's bright...but has been told that she's brighter than she is and has bought into it. Her line about Hillary Clinton delivering 18 million cracks to a glass ceiling was a little poetic, but it prompts the question: "What was it that prevented that ceiling from breaking?" The messianic language about how Barack doesn't care where you're from and so on continues to creep me out as being cult-like.

However, CNN loved it. Of course, they should: they had a hungry, murderous look in their eyes at the dullness of the night and were almost snarling as they cut away from the uber-boring former Representative from Iowa. Jesse Jackson, jr. doesn't have the same rhetorical skill as his father and comes across as a zealot (again, complete with messianic language).

The Ted Kennedy this was interesting, but I've got the sneaking suspicion that I got had. From the build-up, it sounded as though he was almost dead and I'll confess that I half-expected him to keel over in what would instantly become the most dramatic thing to ever happen at any convention. Instead, after a stilted speech by Caroline Kennedy, we got a Ted Kennedy who seemed to be, other than a little slow, in decent shape. It's possible that this was just a truly amazing event, but I just feel as though I got suckered by lowered expectations.

What I want to know, though, is this: is the praise of Barack Obama by senior Democrats, saying that he's revived their faith and hope and given them a role model, just talk or have they really drunk the Kool-Aid?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Brilliant Idea of the Day

You know those islands off the coast of Cornwall? They probably don't have a Chinese restaurant, and if there's anything tourists love, it's Chinese food. Why not open one and call it the Ministry of Scilly Woks?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Election 2008

I have to admit that one reason I haven't been blogging much is because of how simply appalled I've been at the Obama campaign. A lot of what I'd have to say simply isn't printable in polite society.

Very short version: Obama is a lying, duplicitous, corrupt, naive spoiled brat of a promoted-above-his-competency politician who has the character and judgement of Gollum.
I've got more than a few disagreements with McCain, but his service record is sterling. I won't even repeat some of the despicable rumors out there, some of which are so outrageously offensive that I wanted to reach through my computer and punch someone on behalf of all those who've served, and even died for, our country and for other people.

I have the feeling that we're about to have a "national discussion" that's not going to be like the one Obama thinks we should have (and that he would moderate/dictate). There's a lot of simmering resentment out there that's ready to boil, and it's not at Bush.

As for me, I'm going off to England for a few weeks for a summer law program with the University of Richmond. I'm really, really, really looking forward to it. Perhaps my blood pressure will drop a little by then and I'll have had a chance to have done some pleasure reading and can make intelligent contributions again (yes, I said "again").

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's Important To Think When You're Being Mindless

Otherwise you wind up like me, steeped in the study of history that I am, walking from work to my apartment today, whistling a stirring anthem. I was like "Hey, this is catchy; I wonder what it is?" until I realized that it was the Horst Wessel Song.

Actually, it's probably more the Wolfenstein 3D and Indiana Jones movies that embedded it in my head, but still, you have to admit that it's stirring. Evil, but stirring.

Because the Pun Is Strong In This One...

...I direct your attention to Heller Kitty.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Quote Help?

I've got a partial recollection of a quote that's been in my head, but apparently I can't remember it well enough for Google to find it. I'm pretty sure it's from a movie, and was said in an accent similar to Peter O'Toole's. Essentially, it's something like "He walks like a man who carries his importance as though he were afraid of breaking it." That's only the gist, and while I'm 100% sure of the "afraid of breaking it" part, I'm only 75% sure that the subject was "his importance" and not all that sure of the rest of it.

It's possible that I read this in Lewis or Chesterton, but I'm pretty sure it's from a movie. Perhaps it was Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons? Has anyone heard this before?

Monday, June 9, 2008


Guess what sticker's going on my car?

(created by Tamara

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Answer Is "Yes"

Well, I'm honored.

I've been mostly lurking among blogs lately, with the occasional comment here and there. I'd like to finish The Brothers Karamazov, That Hideous Strength, and several books on Church history before blogging again; hopefully those will recharge my brain. At this point, writer's block is so bad that I can't even come up with clever AIM away messages!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


My brain is empty, I'm out of shape, and I'm way behind on my reading. There's a lot of interesting stuff out there, but at the moment I don't have anything intelligent to add (as for prior moments, I plead the fifth).

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Show Goes On As Scripted

So Barack Obama is "outraged" by the comments his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, made recently? Big surprise. Obama clearly can't disavow what Wright said while Obama was sitting in the pews (although he can claim not to have been there), but he can say "This is too far" now that Wright has retired. It gives Obama his Sister Soujah moment. I have a hard time believing that Jackson, Sharpton, and so on are truly against him; I think they're trying to show that Obama's not [just] a candidate for black racists.

I really wish the Democrats would put up a non-scumbag one of these days; by my recollection the last one they nominated was Michael Dukakis.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Not What It Looks Like

Check this out. (Seemingly disturbing, but not actually so.)

(via commenter "Hollowpoint" at Ace's (language warning))

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why Not Tibet?

Ben Domenech recently posted about China's crackdown on Tibet and wants to know why conservatives have essentially ignored the issue. It's true, he points out, that this is normally seen as a left-liberal issue, but he can't find any sort of ideological reason for the political right to be silent (although a few voices here and there are found).

He's right, of course: this is a case like Sudan, where the human rights of a religious and ethnic minority are very clearly being violated by a repressive regime. He doesn't mention it in his post, but similar persecution occurs regarding Christians (including forced "ordinations" of Catholic "bishops") and the Muslim Uighur population in western China, plus the Falun Gong which everyone's heard about.

I'm going to say that the reasons are practical, rather than political (don't think I'm criticizing Ben: he's a smart cookie and knows that this is the reason). It's practical out of both political necessity and out of human nature.

On the one hand, America has a lot on its plate. We've got uncontrolled immigration from Mexico on our southern border, a War on Terror going on, tinpot dictators in Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and Iran threatening to overthrow the Great Satan and install either a Worker's Paradise or Sharia law and dhimmitude, a weakened dollar, a huge national deficit, a trade imbalance, and...well, you can probably add another half-dozen things off the top of your head. China isn't an immediate threat to us and doesn't appear to be on the verge of invading (or re-invading...) Taiwan, Vietnam, Siberia, or the Korean peninsula. We've got bigger fish to fry, politically speaking. We're saying "nice doggy" right now because our stick is otherwise engaged: we only barely managed to attack Iraq while still officially at war with it and couldn't even muster any sort of will to stop the genocide in Darfur. What does anyone expect our government to do versus a country with about a fifth of the world's population and who is a huge trading partner of ours?

Yes, the idealists would say that we should declare an official boycott, not to mention skipping out on the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer. I wish we could, but with all that's going on we don't need the a billion screaming Chinese ticked off at us as well. They know that they can physically appropriate any of the countries/regions around them if they put their mind to it and we're in no position to expel or even stop them short of maybe South Korea.

This gets us to both the solution and the second part of the problem. The solution is for we as ordinary Americans to declare an unofficial boycott of Chinese products. I already do this, wavering between an outright ban and only buying things Made in China if I can't find an alternative. The problem is that human nature, especially among Americans, has a hard time staying focused on a distant, foreign threat for too long. The girl in your class you want to ask out is of very high importance to us, but the possibility that the slippers you're wearing might have been made by the slave labor of pro-democracy protesters isn't very high in people's minds. An awareness campaign might help, but who would do it? Social-issues groups are focused on domestic matters. Among those more economically minded there's a Catch-22: China is "Communist" so the political left supports them, but they also make production less costly so the political right doesn't want to spoil a good thing, either.

What's needed is for everyday people to demand that their things be made elsewhere. This is going to be tough: you can probably find a reason not to buy from just about anyone if you search hard enough. However, it's not impossible. Most of the rest Asia and Central America have manufacturing capacity (not to mention, you know, ourselves...). If everyone, for instance, who bought a hammer decided to get the one made in Taiwan or the Philippines instead of the one made in China and left a comment card saying why they did so, you'd see store managers factor this into their decision-making.

It's not that easy, though: some things only seem to be made in China these days (sandals and dumbbells come to mind from my own experience), while things sold online rarely list the country of origin unless it's Made in the USA. You can't really expect people to call a fistfull of companies every time they want to buy a new vacuum cleaner or toilet plunger (besides, if you need a toilet plunger and the grocery store only has ones made in China...well, you've got yourself a dilemma, haven't you?). Chinese stuff is also inexpensive, and that's an important factor as well.

I had an idea to start a website where people could check where the products they want are made. Contributors would take it on themselves to cover a niche and report back; I did this before buying my laptop and discovered that only Dell and Fujitsu make their computers in places other than in China (although being Taiwanese companies, I suspect Asus and Acer do so as well). This is obviously easier for things like appliances and harder for toilet plungers and dental floss (although given recent events I wouldn't dare put anything made in China into my mouth).

In short, there's just no real support for the matter because it's out of sight and would involve an awful lot of effort to remedy. If we can help lay a foundation, it might give an exposure effort more traction. Taking on all of China is political suicide, but forcing a chain like Target or a brand like Sony to certify their products as "Human Rights Safe" would be helpful. If people can shop for "organic" food and "fair-trade" coffee then they have the will to do this as well.

There are some problems with this idea, it should be pointed out. The biggest is that if done wrong it could be like the radical Abolitionists who were a major factor for the sparking of the Civil War; this needs to be not only a peaceful protest but one with a reasonable scope of action. We're not going to solve this in a year or even probably a decade.

What do you think?

Amazon Humor


That said, I'm fascinated and entranced by my Leatherman Micra. Now I just need to find a use for it...


May America be blessed as Italy is, and may both nations be further blessed by similarly-principled physicians.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Upgrading from Vista to XP

Well, I was going to, but apparently you can only do that if you have Windows Professional and I have Windows Home. Tragic.

I've got 2GB of RAM in this computer and despite this my programs are getting sketchier and sketchier in their execution by the day. Half-Life 2 is choppy on even the lowest settings; this is odd in that it's a 2004 game that even my old laptop could handle without fuss.

My guess is that this stems from one of the updates that Windows Updater seems unable to install. Update KB938194 failed to install last August and things have been getting weirder and weirder since then. Of course, with finals coming up, I'm not willing to mess around too much, as several of my friends have lost all their notes and course outlines lately and I'm in no mood to have the same happen to me.

Microsoft: You're 0-for-2 lately. You'd better pick up your game or I'm off for the world of Open Source.

The TribalPundit Guide to Wine, Women, and Song: Classical Music: Byrd's Infelix Ego

I'd like to recommend to you the piece "Infelix ego" by William Byrd, especially as sung by Oxford Camerata (yes, it's the album I recommended in the post below this).

William Byrd was one of the foremost composers of Renaissance sacred music. Byrd and his mentor, Thomas Tallis, are notable not merely in that they are the two foremost English composers in the Renaissance style, but that they composed sacred music during the English Reformation and managed to stay on the good side of the Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Protestants. Which group Tallis agreed with seems to be hard to pin down, but Byrd was emphatically a Catholic (in his Mass for Three Voices, he has all of the voices normally doing their own thing come together for the word "catholicam" in the Credo and the again drifting apart). The view at the time was that musicians were no threat to the social harmony and so Byrd was tolerated.

"Infelix ego" is a meditation on Psalm 51 written by Girolamo Savonarola, a zealous and strict Dominican friar who became ruler of Florence from 1494-1498 before being excommunicated and deposed. He was tortured into signing confessions of heresy and other crimes; it was in remorse for this that he composed "Infelix ego," which means "Unhappy [wretch] [that] I am." This writing was one of the handful of Savonarola's works which escaped being put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum and was set by many composers, especially in England. I couldn't find the Latin words online (here's the English translation), so I copied them down from the booklet accompanying another album with a different version (I'm going to go out on a limb and say that whatever claims to copyright may have ever existed are long gone by now).

Infelix ego, omnium auxilio destitutus, qui coelum terramque offendi. Quo ibo? Quo me vertam? Ad quem confugiam? Quis mei miserabitur? Ad coelum levare oculos non audeo, quia ei graviter peccavi. In terra refugium non invenio, quia ei scandalum fui.

Quid igitur faciam? Desperabo? Absit. Misericors est Deus, pius est salvator meus. Solus igitur Deus refugium meum: ipse non despiciet opus suum, non repellet imaginem suam.

Ad te igitur, piisime Deus, tristis ac moerens venio, quoniam tu solus spes mea, tu solus refugium meum. Quid autem dicam tibi? Cum oculos levare non audeo, verba doloris effundam, misericordiam tuam implorabo, et dicam: Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.

Find and listen to the version by Oxford Camerata. I've heard the version by Stilo Antico, and while it's good, there's an important difference between the two. To me, Stilo Antico's version is a little more down-to-earth: it's slower, and the climax of the song is done less hauntingly. In the Oxford Camerata version, the climax occurs with "Miserere mei, Deus" at 11:42, but please trust me when I tell you not to go there immediately. That climax is one of the most beautiful moments in all of music; I had the album playing in the background as I was working and when it happened I was just frozen and transfixed by it. You need to listen to the piece as a whole to get the most of it, though.

I downloaded it from eMusic, but Napster and iTunes have it as well. Remember that it's the version by Jeremy Summerly & Oxford Camerata, and that it's by Byrd, not Lassus.

Zuned Out

You know, I was prepared to get a Microsoft Zune 8GB and like the heck out of it. I don't like how iPods won't play WMA files, and so I thought it'd be great to use a device which lets me just plug into my computer. Well, no. Microsoft, you fail.

I don't like that I have to specifically use Zune software; why can't I use Windows Media Player (try and guess who manufactures this program, if you can) to sync? Well, I figured, no huge deal: I'll just install the Zune player and let it work its magic. It's kind of skimpy, though: there's not even a way (that I could find) to sort music by genre. This is odd, as the version of Zune that I already had (and was forced to upgrade from before I was allowed to transfer music) let me do this. So does Windows Media Player. Even this was tolerable; I use WMP to play my music anyway so a tiny bit of extra hassle in sending the files over isn't the end of the world. What pushed things over the edge is that all the time-intensive editing I did on my classical and sacred music isn't recognized at all. Let me explain.

Some albums are simple: they have one work (such as Bach's Mass in B Minor) and all I had to do was change the tags so that the album artist was "Bach, JS" and the album title was "Mass in B Minor (The Sixteen)". Other albums, however, include several works. I tend to prefer to listen to the works separately, so that this album (which I very highly recommend) is divided into "Mass for Four Voices", "Infelix ego", and "Mass for Five Voices"; it's even harder when the works aren't all by the same composer. I'm not a complete nut, though: I only do this when several of the tracks are part of a larger work; compilation albums stay pretty much as they are.

Zune puts everything back as it originally was. Did I say that a better genre than "Classical" for Bach's Mass in B Minor was "Sacred"? Zune don't care. Did I divide an album of two works by two different composers? Zune don't care. Am I going to put up with this? Nope: the Zune gets returned tomorrow.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

One Year

I don't know if anyone came here yesterday looking for commentary on the one year anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech; I apologize if you were hoping for my take on things. I think I've pretty much come to the conclusion that I don't really want to talk about it. Don't think I don't appreciate the kindnesses that have been shown to me and to Virginia Tech over the past year; I remember things like that for a very, very long time. Just as an example, I remember that University of Virginia students had an Orange-and-Maroon Day and painted one of their bridges in memory of our loss. Most conversations I have just seem to go "Yes, I was there. No, I wasn't a student. Yes, it's sad." That may have just been me being worn out over the matter. It would be profoundly ungrateful not to acknowledge the humbling amount of support there's been, so as just one Hokie let me say it: Thank You.

It's weird: there are plenty of things that can make me sad, but not in a way that just hits me. I can be just driving along, find myself thinking about Tech, and before I know it my eyes are suddenly watery and I have to think about baseball or tax policy or something I'm not very interested in so as not to break down. It's stupid, as I wasn't in Norris Hall and I only knew one of the victims even slightly. I didn't get this way over September 11th.

After one year, though, it feels as though there's less of a weight, as though a period of mourning is finally over. The sentiment among Hokies over the past year has been "We are Virginia Tech. We will prevail." I think we can change the tense of the second part of that; we are prevailing.

That said, I'm still bitter about the ban of firearms on campus. Most classrooms, including most at Virginia Tech and many here at William & Mary, are absolute deathtraps. I have no idea how even they're even safe in case of fire, let alone a gunman. People seem to think we'll have the Wild West if guns are allowed; I have trouble staying high-road in my thinking when this argument is made. Let me say it one more time: the Virginia Tech and William & Mary policies only disarm the very students who are most likely to be responsible. Virginia Tech's administration has blood on its hands; I hope the same can never be said for William & Mary's.

That said, I'm working on seeing what kind of options are available here. I know that the current policy allows only one exception: permission by the Dean of Students. I don't believe she's likely to grant it. The Board of Visitors has the ability to alter the Code of Conduct; I have yet to speak with them. I don't know whether anyone higher in the administration could compel the Dean of Students to grant permission. Obviously, I don't believe that a public university has the right to forbid citizens with Concealed Handgun Permits to carry (under threat of academic discipline). However, I'm willing to work within whatever framework is necessary to solve this problem.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Some Things I've Learned in Law School

1. The police are not obligated to attempt to come to your aid. If someone mugs you and a cop is standing right there and decides not to intervene, that's your problem.
-Castle Rock v. Gonzalez (2005)

This means that if a mass murderer comes into my classroom and starts shooting at me and my classmates are legally on our own (it already being established that the College of William & Mary has declared campus a Second Amendment -free zone). Then again, maybe I'm paranoid. It's not like anyone would ever shoot up a law school or a public university in Virginia, and certainly not this decade.

2. No matter how well-kept your property is, if your neighbors have let their places fall apart, the state can take your property under eminent domain by claiming "community redevelopment."
-Kelo v. City of New London (2004)

Especially while at Virginia Tech, I did a fair amount of volunteering with a group of Evangelical missionaries up in Chester, PA. One of the main things they did was operate a mission school for those in the Chester-Upland School District (last-ranked in all of Pennsylvania) that basically said "Pay what you can; we'll find a way to cover the rest." They had two buildings: Douglass, where the elementary school (and when I first started volunteering, a small middle school program) were operating, and Carver, across the street, where they were hoping to eventually start a middle and high school. In the wake of Kelo, the city decided that a better use for Carver would be a parking lot for the horse-racing track they were hoping to build. They eventually used it to build low-income housing after taking it from the missionaries.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Democratic Nomination

Look, Barack Obama is not going to get the Democratic nomination. Hillary Clinton is. Polls, delegates, and so on don't matter: she has it in her sights and will obtain it. Now, she may get crushed by McCain in the general election (although possibly not), but she will have it. She'll destroy what's left of Bill Clinton's "legacy" among Democrats, and Obama will be consigned to the Senate for the rest of his career (although I think he'll eventually go back to academics).

I think the Democratic Party will ultimately be glad they didn't run him, too.

As TS O'Rama notes in the comments, mine is a pretty darn bold prediction, and so I feel as though I should give a better account of my reasoning.

The way it seems to me, it's just a function of how much Hillary Clinton wants the nomination in relation to all other factors. This is her raison d'etre. I can't say it was the case from the beginning, but certainly by 1992 her marriage with Bill was largely, and perhaps completely, one of mutual political benefit: she acts as the proper wife-prop for a President, and in return he uses his charisma and capital with the Democrats to get her to high office (and allowing her to pursue policy while he's in office; her quote "I want domestic" in exchange for not divorcing Bill for his affair with Gennifer Flowers). She was essentially given a Senate seat and it was known that she'd eventually have her turn to run for the Presidency with the Democratic nomination. I strongly suspect that the reason Hillary threw an ashtray at Bill (the sitting President of the United States!) upon learning of Monica Lewinsky wasn't for his unfaithfulness but for damaging his image and her future chances.

However, in the primaries another not-while-male candidate who had been gifted a Senate seat and was being groomed for greater things showed dazzling charisma and his message of "hope and change" resonated more powerfully with the Democratic base (if not necessarily centrists and political independents). I also strongly suspect that for Barack Obama 2008 was meant to be a warm-up, either to be Clinton's Vice-President or to run in 2012 or 2016 once he had some more US Senate experience under his belt (as his political resume is pretty thin). Edwards was the socialist from the losing 2004 ticket, and was never a serious threat. Nor was Bill Richardson, who while being a governor and being hispanic, wasn't very exciting (not to mention how hard it must be to gain traction as the "First Hispanic President" with a last name like his). Obama had an exotic name, a great stage presence (his voice is different now...early in the campaign it sounds like he was trying to imitate David Palmer), and was a fresh new face.

This leaves the Democrats with a problem: Clinton was supposed to be the nominee. The skeletons are (presumably) out of her closet and she's a seasoned politician (and a woman!). Whichever old white guy the Republicans put up, especially in the wake of two relatively unpopular Bush administrations, presumably would get creamed. This election was theirs for the taking. However, Obama's sudden and unexpected ascendancy screwed up the timeframe. Instead of a potential sixteen years of uninterrupted Democratic Party control over the Executive Branch, they risk another four or even eight years of the GOP.

Hillary Clinton has sacrificed everything for this chance. I can't see how she could be bought off: she's not fit for the Supreme Court (not to mention that the Chief Justice is relatively young) and Senate Majority Leader isn't much of a prize. If she doesn't get the nomination, all the years of the cheating husband, the knowing smirks, the pretenses require politics will have been for, in the end, nothing. MAYBE she could run in 2012...but only if Obama loses in the general election. This is her chance, and if it means clawing her way over Obama's political corpse then so be it: the Democratic party obviously isn't going to simply sit out the election; it'll be forced to rally behind her. Besides, she's the wife of the "Comeback Kid" and in her mind she's just as capable (and probably more) than he is.

Bill Clinton also can't afford for her not to get the nomination: he's also staked everything on it. Before, he was the beloved elder statesman of his party, with the base pining for the years of his administration. Now...he's lost that. He's somewhat despised, and for a man reportedly concerned so much about his legacy that's clearly unacceptable.

To the Clintons, there is no tomorrow. The upstart Obama must be crushed...either he'll agree to run as VP or he'll be brought down in a hail of scandals and suspect political affiliations.

Some have mentioned Al Gore as a potential "compromise" candidate, but what this ignores is how polarized the primary has become: it's seen as the historic race where either a woman or a minority will finally break the long streak of white men. Al Gore is...a white man. His nomination would be seen as a betrayal by both Clinton and especially Obama loyalists, who may simply sit out the general election or vote for a third-party candidate.

The Democrats know what they face: a centrist Republican war hero with (presumably) no skeletons in his closet. He still fairly spry, but he's old: it's conceivable that his VP could take over due to future illness or death of McCain and maybe even be elected in his own right once...or even twice. Obama, assuming he's not a charred corpse by June, isn't going to win enough of the center. Gore would lose some of the base, even if he did pick up some of the middle. Clinton, for all her faults, is seen as at least sorta-kinda on a similar footing with McCain: centrist-ish Senators with years of political experience. Running Clinton is the "safe" option: she has a shot at winning, and even a loss wouldn't be too terrible: the Dems could take credit for running the first female candidate for president. Having finally exorcised her from their future, they would probably still have Obama as a viable candidate (and this time with experience) next time.

Clinton is the safest bet for the Democrats and the one by whom they'll lose least in terms of political capital.


Let me tell you: the energy shot drinks like Five Hour Energy Drink both work and have side effects. They do work: I'm awake and don't feel tired at all. On the other hand, I kind of want to stand up, yell, and run a lap around the law school and then swing from a tree. So yes, there are side effects.

A Realization

This is not my beautiful house.

This is not my beautiful wife.

How did I get here?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Letter to SCOTUS

Dear Supreme Court,

Shorter decisions, more breakdancing.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Feature!

That's right, we here at TribalPundit*, in our ongoing efforts to better serve the community, may be introducing our very own non-traveling blog carnival (although it'll be open to anything found online). We're still working on a witty name. Some possibilities:

Carnival of Meaty Posts (too ironical?)
Spanning My Attention-Span To Bring You a Constant...hey, look at that!
Stuff I Found
Linkin' Logs

I'm also looking to continue the The HokiePundit Guide to Wine, Women, and Song. I'm visiting some wineries this weekend, so there's potential for the first part. As for the other two...I'm not pursuing and relationships until I'm done with my first year of law school and I'm not a very good singer. Nonetheless, I've got opinions, and that's what counts.

*I don't know why, but hyperlinking to myself cracks me up every time I do it.

Out of Curiosity...

When did the whole hand-holding thing become a regular thing at Roman Catholic masses? I mean, it was obviously some point after 1530, and I'm guessing some point after Vatican II, but is this a new thing?

It just looks silly. I've always been a little bit skeptical of the Passing of the Peace; holding hands with an unknown neighbor (especially while singing) is beyond the pale, and I speak as one who has survived being a regular attender at "huggy" services.

Maybe I'm just becoming a crotchety old man fifty years ahead of schedule.

Monday, March 3, 2008

I Just Don't Understand

This website sells "sacramentals," which are apparently things like "blessed salt," "holy relic water," and rosaries "touched to" relics. Reading over the descriptions, all I can think is that the term "voodoo" comes to mind. I had the same feeling when I was in a Catholic bookstore and they were selling brown scapulars with written assurance than anyone wearing one at death would be saved from hell.

Yes, I'm aware of Paul's handkerchief from Acts 19:12. While I don't claim to understand it, I can accept that a person touching a relic could be healed/blessed as a result. Once you go beyond that, though, then what? The relic touches a stand which touches a floor which touches the ground which is part of a country which is part of the world, and my part of the world has ground which my apartment touches which are in turn touched by (at the moment) my bare feet. Am I thus blessed in any way by this relic (other than perhaps abstractly by its existence)?

I can understand how things like rosaries and icons serve as aids to worship, and that the things advertised are meant to be accompanied by prayer. When we get into the realm of "lucky beans," though, I can't help but think that things have gone too far.

(via Mark Shea)


Blasts: After hearing a talk, I spent the next few hours thinking and finally realized that I still had some harsh words for Catholicism, Evangelicalism, and Protestantism (yes, you read that right: I still haven't finished with them; perhaps it's more like I'm working a Gatling gun than "giving them both barrels"). I've got things turning around in my head; I'm just not sure of the order in which I want to write and publish them. I do intend to include "pros" as well as "grows" in these blasts, however, so they won't really be screeds.


All sorts of things have been going on lately...

1. Law School: My brain has been utterly drained for the past month or so. Fortunately, we've just entered Spring Break. Most of my friends hit the beaches or cruises; I'm staying in Williamsburg and just vegging for a while (and maybe doing the readings for next week, too).

2. Sick: I had a really nasty flu that made me miss an entire week of classes. Apparently about half the school came down with it in one form or another; mine was one of the worse cases but I know at least one girl who had it far worse than I did.

3. Reconnection: Found an old friend. Excellent!


I went to a Korean supermarket and ended up buying some sweets. This is always a risky thing for me: sometimes you'll end up with what are basically just oddly-shaped peppermints or melon-flavored gumdrops, and sometimes you'll end up with candied sardines (yes, I bought them that time; no, they weren't very good). This time I bought sweetened bean curd. It comes in little bars and they ones I got were flavored as citrus, green tea, chocolate, and apparently two unflavored varieties (one with bean flecks). It's all a matter of perspective: I was initially hesitant until I realized that coffee is just bean juice: therefore, sweetened bean curd isn't really all that wacky. It turned out that they were pretty good, although I think I'd only ever purchase the citrus ones again.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


I went up to Philadelphia this weekend to visit some friends. While I was there, I went to Church of the Good Shepherd, a Traditional Anglican Communion parish and did two things: I made Confession on Saturday and ended up staying for Mass on Sunday. What novelty! Two different sacraments in as many days! I'd never made Confession before, so I had to cover the past 25 years. I think the priest took pity on me, as this was my first time, and left me with a pretty light penance. I was also able to take Communion for the first time in a very long while, which was also a blessing.

You see, I can't partake of the sacraments as the Roman Catholic parish I attend in Williamsburg, as I'm not a member of the Holy Catholic Church. However, I can't very well take Communion at the Episcopalian or Anglican parishes around, as they don't have a valid priesthood or even the correct view of the sacraments. This leaves me, baptized as an Episcopalian, with the TAC, as they've tried to re-establish their apostolic succession and reunite with Rome. I guess that makes what I did valid but illicit (hopefully; once the Pope makes a decision regarding TAC's petition it may turn out that TAC's priesthood was not successfully reestablished).

I guess I have mixed feelings about it: doing something illicitly isn't a good way to be, but at the same time it doesn't seem right to me to be risking eternal separation from God simply because, as one not baptized Catholic, I couldn't partake of the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


So for the past few days I've been hit hard with the flu. I was achy, cold, exhausted, had a massive headache, couldn't even keep Gatorade down, and was somewhat delirious.

Somewhat delirious? Not only did I have very little idea what was going on around me, but I was convinced that yesterday was the North Carolina Democratic primary, that Clinton, Obama, and Edwards were all duking it out for the state's delegates, and that Abraham Lincoln had weighed in to support Edwards. In retrospect, having a women's beach volleyball game stuck in my head, or poking myself in the eye with a pencil, would have been more enjoyable.

I'm (mostly) better now. Hopefully it'll be a long, long time before I get hit this hard again.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


If you haven't been reading Kaboom!, it's well worth your time. The writer is an Army 1LT commanding a Stryker squadron stationed in Iraq. He's smart, observant, and dutiful, while also taking things with a grain of salt.

I Blame George Bush

Just because.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tragedy at Northern Illinois University

We just don't learn, do we?

May God preserve those injured, accept those killed, and comfort those grieved.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Nichol Resigns

Gene Nichol, now-former President of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, resigned today after being informed by the Board of Visitors that his contract would not be renewed. He was always officially a member of the law school faculty (he taught here years ago); he'll apparently be a regular professor next year. His wife was my Civ Pro professor last semester; she was very nice.

I'm not going to say much about what I think of this, as I don't see any need to make enemies. The short explanation is that he was a controversy-causing official at a university which doesn't like controversy. Taylor Reveley, Dean of the Law School, is apparently acting as President in the interim. I have no idea whether he'll become the regular President; it'd be a tough loss for the law school, even as it would be a huge gain for the university.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Georgia Tries to Steal Tennessee's Fluids

While I know it's misleading, I'd like to point out that Georgia is a coastal state while Tennessee is landlocked.

Seriously, what gives? Isn't "We're talking about augmenting some water needs, and as you know, the Tennessee has got plenty of water in it" a little bit socialist for a Republican from a Southern state?

Then again, I support retroceding the District of Columbia to Maryland, consolidating Connecticut and Rhode Island, Delaware and either Maryland or Pennsylvania, North and South Dakota, and perhaps North and South Carolina, so perhaps I'm in the minority. Despite its illegal secession, however, I'm fine with West Virginia staying as it is (unless it wants to merge with Ohio or Kentucky, which I'm also okay with).

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Lesson of the Day

Not everyone appreciates joviality.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Happy Dirty Forehead Day!

I went to Ash Wednesday services this morning, at the heretofore-nearly-mythical hour of 7AM. For whatever reason, no one who received ashes from one of the priests seemed to have it show up very well on their foreheads. I guess what I told my black campers at KAA when they asked me whether I had any lotion still stands true: "White people don't ash." [What would I need with lotion? Meanwhile, these poor kids were waking up with chapped knees, of all things...I considered buying some out of mercy (but forgot).]

As for Lent, some friends of mine last week mentioned that they like to not only give up something but to add something positive as well. I'd already felt led to give up meat (including seafood!); I'll be adding a rosary each day to that.

I did have an odd-but-gratifying experience at the service this morning, though. I recognized a girl who I'm pretty sure is Episcopalian go up and get ashes, which wasn't that odd. I then saw her get in the Communion line and I was a little concerned, as most of us Anglicans don't really know that we're not supposed to take Roman Catholic Communion. Right before it was her turn, though, she properly crossed her arms and received a blessing instead. Hooray for cultural sensitivity!


"I'm pregaming Lent."

-a friend of mine last night at a party, after I pointed out she had a drink in each hand.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

In Which I Attempt to Make T.S. O'Rama Spend Money

For whatever reason, I've been listening to a lot of Celtic Punk Rock lately, especially bands like Flogging Molly, Enter the Haggis, Young Dubliners, Real McKenzies, and Oysterband. I'm like 1/16th Scottish and 1/32nd (Northern) Irish, so I guess it's legit.

Flogging Molly...well, they seem to me to be the Celtic version of Streetlight Manifesto: very talented, catchy, and...absolutely empty inside. Not just indifferent to religion, but openly hateful of it. As much as I enjoyed listening to the music of their album Drunken Lullabies, I kept noticing lyrics that just rubbed me the wrong way. Thus, no link-love for them.

Enter the Haggis, as T.S. already noted, is a mixed bag. "Gasoline" is really catchy, although perhaps a little overwrought. "Minstrel Boy" [I can't find a decent version] is a punk cover, virtually guaranteeing that I'll like it. "Music Box" and "Martha Stewart" are both good, although the latter is probably a little hard-edged for some tastes. There's also a really funny song on Let the Wind Blow High that I'll let you find for yourself.

The Young Dubliners and the Real McKenzies each cash in on the aforementioned punk cover craze, with, respectively, "The Rocky Road to Dublin" and "Farewell to Nova Scotia".

Oysterband is a bit older, and their songs are a little more mellow, too. I think "20th of April" is my favorite, although it was surprising to hear them singing in Spanish. "Another Quiet Night in England" is also good, and manages to be pro-worker without engaging in class warfare. Lastly is "One Green Hill" which could almost be a drinking song. [I couldn't find online versions of the latter two.]

My last post on this prompted T.S. to buy Casualties of Retail by Enter the Haggis; let's see if he feels the urge from anything above.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Today's Law School Tidbit

"So far as the law courts were concerned, the feoffment with livery of seisin created a fee simple absolute in X."

I'm still working on decoding this.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I Guess This is an Endorsement

"May God forgive us if we condemn a million plus children a year to death by abortion because we're angry at John McCain."

-John Hawkins

I'm not a big fan of McCain, but he does have his up-sides. While Romney might (might, because who really knows?) be better on The Issues, McCain's tolerable. With Iraq and Afghanistan to conclude successfully, likely vacancies on the Supreme Court, a Democrat majority in Congress, the prospect of Hillary! or the Obamessiah, and how hard it is to get two social conservatives elected in a row (Bush I only barely counts), maybe we should take the deal and live with it.

Besides, maybe he'll surprise us and surpass expectations, rather than disappoint us as Dubya has (which isn't to say that I'm not profoundly glad we had him over Gore or Kerry). Let this be a reminder: we can't delegate to the President the responsibility of being the People of God and living bearing witness to Him. That said, having a President who isn't hostile to our goals gives us a lot more room to work than having an active opponent.

Let's hold our noses, be thankful for the half-loaf we've got instead of pouting over the whole one we don't, and work to elect McCain. Maybe we can learn a few lessons about over-reliance on government, how to wage a successful campaign, and the importance of being thankful for what we do have along the way.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Read it.

Then the Rosary Beads, Count Them 1-2-3...

Please excuse the ramblingness of this post; I'm tired.

I drove from Williamsburg to Roanoke and back today, and on the way I did two things of note: prayed the Rosary twice and did some thinking on Hobbes, Locke, Marx, the Fall of Man, the Labor Theory of Value, and economics. The latter was very deep (or seemed so at the time), and I may write about it later, although I'm still sorting it out.

As for the Rosary, the first one was said for the intentions of a friend of mine and the second for the petition of the Traditional Anglican Communion for union with Rome (I'm new to this, so hopefully these were both proper subjects). I've seen it recommended before as a good, useful, and edifying way to pass the time while driving, and there's a lot of merit to that. I'll confess that I have a tendency to get impatient and wonder how many beads are left in the decade I'm on, although I seem to be getting better at it as I become more familiar with things. Getting familiar is also a gradual process: unless I have a guide before me, I tend to slip into the Nicene Creed rather than the Apostles Creed, and in either case to use the Anglican version of it (the only differences are in word choice, not in substance). I also tend to forget how the Fatima Prayer goes; I called a friend to ask her while I was on the road and she told me she didn't normally pray the Rosary and couldn't remember (I think she felt bad, which made me feel bad, as it was for her intentions that I was praying).

The Rosary is one of those things which is (or at least seems to be) completely meaningless if not done in sincerity and contemplation. The Lord's Prayer is the same way. Why am I asking Mary for intercession instead of going straight to Jesus? Apparently it's a compliment to Jesus to pay respect to His mother and ask her to ask Him, which I suppose makes sense (the Fatima Prayer helps smooth this in my head, as it's directly addressed to Christ Himself, meaning that I'm not neglecting Him). The Glory Be is a prayer that I've always liked, probably because it's a short and succinct statement of unfathomable depth. I actually use the Lord's Prayer as a way to submit, as I think "Forever and Ever" is much preferable to "Now and Forever," but then it's not one billion Catholics knocking at my door.

It also helps for me to have a bit of a visual. Virginia highways tend to be bordered by trees, leaving a narrow bit of horizon straight in front of me. It's just the right shape to permit me to imagine a truly giant image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, although in my head it's got much brighter colors and is more realistic. As for visuals, I had bought a glow-in-the-dark Rosary for use in the car, as my long trips tend to be at night. Tragically (and I fully expect some playwright to pen a work on this), the beads only stay glowing for a few minutes, leading to me, who doesn't have a ton of manual dexterity to start with, trying to steer with one hand while blindly advancing beads with the other. It's a hard-knock life.

The one problem I have is the "Hail, Holy Queen" at the end. I don't say it. Maybe it's just a defect from Anglicanism and Evangelicalism, but it just seems beyond the Pale. The Hail Mary I get, but the Salve Regina just seems to take things too far.

I'm also thinking of replacing the "Holy Mary, Mother of God" with "Our Lady of Walsingham" when praying a Rosary for TAC union with Rome; is this permissible?

Friday, January 25, 2008


...I'm confused.

In other news, this is my 100th post at TribalPundit! Hooray for school!

Ron Paul

No, I haven't become a Ron Paul supporter. However, I did have what may have been a mini-epiphany the other day.

Honestly, Ron Paul supports confuse me and even make me feel a tiny bit nervous. While the man himself seems to be a mental hostage to a variety of conspiracy theories, his supporters horrify not only typical conservatives and liberals but even many libertarians. Have you ever been talking with someone and just realized that you were on completely different wavelengths and weren't really communicating? It's like that. Not all of them are like this, but a surprising number are. They're utterly dedicated to their cause, believe that Ron Paul is America's only hope, and honestly believe that the only reason Paul's not widely supported is because the media is screwing him over.

I have some sympathy for these positions. If I could describe my thought process when hearing them explained, it would go something like this:
"Mmm-hmm, okay...that makes sense. Yes, that's true. Uh-huh. Wait. Stop. Right, that last part at the end? You totally lost me."

One of the topics I worked on helping to research at my job this past summer was a group called J.A.I.L. 4 Judges. To make a long story short, they wanted to be able to pursue criminal charges against judges (and even jurors) who decided against them. Again, in short, they seem to fit the "Western state militia" stereotype.

What got me thinking is the realization that the supporters of these two groups (and I have no doubt that there's a very significant overlap) are people with grievances. They've been worked over in the past, whether it be by a corrupt city councilman who abused his position to cheat them out of desirable property they owned, but a justice system which let them down in a claim (or even criminal charge) in the past, or even simply being upset that they work hard and still get passed over for those with less talent and more influence. Sometimes these are simply misunderstandings over the way things actually work, but I'm inclined to think that most of these people have experienced an injustice, whether to personally or to a close friend or relative.

I've felt this way before, and you probably have, too. It just makes you feel upset that things aren't right. Sometimes we're able to let it go. Sometimes, like Don Quixote, we're able to channel our outrage into a quest to right wrongs against others, disregarding the slings and arrows we perceive against ourselves. Other times we just want to get even and so we seek equalizers. You've probably heard the old saying that "God made man; Sam Colt made them equal," talking about how the "Peacemaker," being accessible to the public, brought the physically weak up to the level of the strong. Some more directly followed the spirit of this by arming themselves, resolving to fight for their rights, even against the American government and its agents if necessary. Others, and this is where Ron Paul and J.A.I.L. 4 Judges went, have attempted to start grassroots efforts to equalize through the ballot box.

Much of the time, the proper response to suffering an injustice is to offer it up to Christ. Actually, we should always do that, but what I mean is that it doesn't always require efforts on our own part to try and put things equal with the way they were before the injustice. Not everyone subscribes to Christianity, especially the flavor I'm advocating, and it's not incomprehensible to me that folks will try to take measures into their own hands (after all, most Americans are descended from people who decided to do just that and emigrate here).

There is a danger when you have a large group of people who feel aggrieved. This is just as true of the rural white people who seem to make up most of the Ron Paul supporters as of urban black people fixated on "institutional racism" and seek reparations for slavery. This can go horribly wrong: Germany before WWII got royally shafted in the early 20th century (most notably with the Treaty of Versailles), Southerners felt their rights trampled upon by busybody Northerners over slavery (while doing little about child labor in their own backyard), and the recent spate of school shooters (and we do not need to remember their names) who found themselves at the bottom of the high school totem pole are examples of what happens when there's no redress or safety valve.

My guess is that these people paid attention in Civics and were told that they had a variety of God-given rights which shall not be infringed by the government, the same government that was obligated to protect citizens whose rights were invaded by others. Instead, they found government taking these rights while leaving the person prey to others who connived to harm them. Maybe they tried to work their way through our often-Byzantine legal system, only to find themselves denied justice (perhaps through a procedural error) and even owing their lawyer a massive debt. Locke, Hobbes, and others argued that we have a government in order that we may be better protected than we ourselves could do. When a person sees that this isn't the case, they may feel justified in deciding to resolve the situation without submitting it to government.

Their backs are also against the wall. In the past, one could simply pack up and leave for the wilderness to seek a new fortune. Columbus to America, Americans in Manifest Destiny, and the California and Alaska gold rushes were examples of this. We've hit a snag, though: there's nowhere else feasible to go. Maybe we'll eventually colonize space, but at least for now that's not an option. Maybe this was an aberration, that civilized people could become pioneers, mixing the decency and security of civilization with the freedom of the wilderness. Certainly throughout history there have people whose only option was to somehow cope with their situation as it was without the ability to escape. One by one, the traditional bastions of freedom which made up the English-speaking world succumbed to fear and sought the remedy of collectivized security. The same stock of people who fought the Battle of Britain and who waged the first successful colonial revolution in modern history now expel high school students for having a Swiss Army Knife on the dashboard of their car.

It isn't a steady decline; popular outcry sometimes forces the government to scale back its claims. Overall, however, the trend has been downward. Technology and new economic concepts have allowed some people to obtain more power, but someone who simply wants to be a farmer or a teacher or a "country doctor" finds themselves regulated by a huge bureaucracy. Ancient Rome comes to mind, falling from a powerful Republic to a tyrannical and corrupt monarchy to a decrepit society unable to do anything but allow themselves to be conquered by barbarians.

It seems to be part of the general Anglo-Saxon mindset, which is itself somewhat barbaric and less cultured than other systems. I suspect it could hardly be any other way. Take the descendants of loutish Vikings and Goths, give them a touch of Celtic and Roman culture and civilizing, and then introduce a religion originally started by the Jews (whose history is full of against-all-odds victories in the name of God and righteousness) and you'll wind up with a people who revere mottoes such as sic semper tyrannis, nemo me importune lacessit, and nolo me tangere. Other cultures, such as China, the rest of Europe, India, and others place a high value on survival rather than vindication. We believe that the squeaky wheel gets the grease; they think that it's the tallest blade of grass which is the first to get plucked.

Where does this leave things? Sadly, but probably unavoidably, unresolved. We tend to want heaven on earth. Failing that, we want a just cause and a clear enemy to fight against. We're not at either extreme right now, though, and as much as prevention is better than repair, it's nearly impossible to make happen. In the meantime, we should try to win battles where we can, not because we think we can win the war (only the return of Christ will win the war we're truly fighting) but because the victories we achieve grant relief to those who are oppressed and might otherwise be crushed.

So to Ron Paul supporters, let me say a few things. One, please don't spam my email or comments boxes. Two, keep supporting your beliefs but take the time to examine them periodically as well. Some of your allies have views that are abhorrent to most Americans, and while that's not dispositive of what's right it does tend to be generally reliable. Three, work on your tactics (but remember that they're a tool for being more effective, not for winning at all costs). Despite some claims to the contrary, you're simply not connecting with most Americans. Lastly, make sure the things you're fighting for are worth the fight. If something can be resolved without too much harm by simply letting it go, do that. For many other things, keep your efforts proportional to the threat faced. And, of course, for a select few things, use every tool at your disposal (so long as it's righteous and doesn't lead you to sin) to win and remember that fair fights are for practice or for suckers.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I've got a lot of assignments due soon and hardly any time to work on them. I don't expect to put up any posts for the next week (maybe two), although I'll probably take study breaks and read other blogs.

By the way, this is apparently the Octave for the Unity of the Church. If you'd consider praying for the Traditional Anglican Communion's petition for "full, corporate, sacramental union" with the Holy Catholic Church I'd appreciate it!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I Don't Care What They Say...

...I like wearing socks with sandals. Not with shorts, of course, but I like wearing Tevas with white socks and jeans. Of course, I like sandals in the winter, too.

Don't hate.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Looking back on the rise of the insurgency, it seems as if the average Iraqi did not know what to make of America. I suspect that many would have been far more supportive a long time ago, if it were not for the image of a helicopter atop a building in 1975 and a line of desperate people running for their lives. To work with Americans may have been what many wanted to do much, much sooner.


When Michael Moore makes a hugely successful film praising Saddam's paradise and calling these people who bomb women and children in marketplaces "freedom fighters," and when an election turns and places into Congressional power a political party dedicated to reproducing that helicopter tableau as soon as possible... what would you do? Because if you guess wrong and the Americans leave, you will be taken out into the street in front of your family and have your head sawed off.

-Bill Whittle of Eject Eject Eject
(via The Smallest Minority)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Beautiful Piano Music

This is an absolutely gorgeous medley of songs from the anime series Cowboy Bebop written by Yoko Kanno. In order, the songs are:
The Singing Sea
Piano Black
Green Bird
Piano Black (Reprise)

Personally, my favorite is ELM, followed by Green Bird. It's easy to just close my eyes and listen for a while.

Sorry for a post that feels rambling in so few words, but I was in the mood for some relaxing music; I hope you enjoy.

Dorky Legal Humor

So how does the rule in Johnson v. M'Intosh apply to dating? If a man has a party at his house, does he have rights ratione soli over his guests?

Certainly some women are ferae naturae and the custom among singles is to disapprove of an interloper who interferes with a man in hot pursuit of a woman. Of course, actual bodily seizure is not, in all cases, necessary to prevent the intrusion of others. At the same time, however, society benefits when relationships form. Furthermore, if the first seeing or pursuing such women had exclusive rights over them it would prove a fertile source of quarrels and litigation.

The dissenting view, it should be noted, is that exclusive rights may be acquired without bodily touch or manucaption, provided the pursuer be within reach, or have a reasonable prospect of taking what he has thus discovered.

I Don't Like Being Cynical, But...

...I don't believe for one second that this was unscripted. It's just that after eight years of shenanigans this looks clumsy and transparent.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Committing Adultery

No, not me. Our first assignment for my Constitutional Law class is an exercise with the following facts (I'm paraphrasing; some relevant information will be added in the discussion):

You are in charge of a fund established seventeen years ago by a group seeking to "return to the 'old-time religion' of the Ten Commandments." To do this, they put together a program where on a person's eighteenth birthday, he or she could pledge to obey the Ten Commandments (no further elaboration or clarification was provided by the group). If they did this faithfully for seventeen years, they could collect $10,000 from the fund [this is an older exercise; perhaps $25,000 would be the equivalent today] and some of the first pledge-takers are now coming to you and seeking payment. Here are their situations (assume that the issue of adultery is the only part of the Ten Commandments in question and the contract between the fund and the claimants is unquestioned):

1. Claimant A is a married man. He has had sexual intercourse with women other than his wife while married, but cites the Jewish Encyclopedia, which says that adultery is "voluntary intercourse of a married woman with a man other than her husband." All of Claimant A's partners were unmarried women.

2. Claimant B is A's wife. She has also had affairs, but with the consent of her husband.

3. Claimant C is a man in a bigamous marriage with two women. He has been faithful to these two women.

4. Claimant D is a married man (and a "practicing Christian" aware of Matthew 5:28) who has lusted after other women, including a co-worker with whom he often holds hands, but has never consummated this lust. One reason for this is that his family needs the $10,000.

5. Claimant E is a married man (and a Catholic aware of Pope John Paul II's statement that "adultery in your heart is committed not only when you look with concupiscence at a woman who is not your wife, but also if you look in the same manner at your wife" [Googling this doesn't seem to work, although I suspect it's in Theology of the Body]) who has never lusted after another woman from the day of his marriage, but occasionally has lustful fantasies about his wife.

The big question here is what "adultery" means. It may mean different things to Moses, to a modern Jewish rabbi, to a modern Evangelical, to a modern Catholic, to a modern Mormon, to a modern Muslim, or to a modern agnostic (among others). According to, the primary meaning of the word "adultery" is this: "voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse." Under this, Claimants A and B would be denied for cheating on their spouses, Claimant C would be denied because bigamy is illegal in the United States and so one of his partners isn't legally his wife, and Claimants D and E are eligible in that they did not have extramarital sexual intercourse.

If the Jewish Encyclopedia is correct, then Claimants A, C, D, and E would certainly appear to be eligible for the payout, while Claimant B would not be, as polygamy was tolerated for men only and there is no recognition of the Christian views of adultery. Had Claimant B had nonconsensual sex only, she would have been eligible.

If we take a sola scriptura approach (and whose Bible do we use, do we only use the Book of Matthew, and which translation of Matthew do we use?), the question turns on whether we apply ancient Jewish custom or the modern American definition of adultery. If the former, we can definitely say that Claimant B is still denied because she is a woman, and Claimants A and D are denied for each lusting in his heart. Claimants C and E are problematic. In Matthew 5:8, does it mean "another woman" (E would be eligible), or "any woman" (E would not be eligible)? Also, has polygamy been prohibited under all circumstances in the New Testament under a sola scriptura reading? Most commentators, including the Church Fathers, seem to agree that it has been, but these writings are extrabiblical. Claimant C's eligibility hangs on this question of legal marriage in two ways: what the Bible allows and what the government allows. Having not taken a class in contract law, I don't think I can analyze this part properly.

An understanding of adultery as put forth by the Pope would be the same as above except that Claimant E would definitely be ineligible. Claimant C would also be ineligible (if eligible above) if your acceptance of the Pope's statement included an acceptance of all Catholic doctrine.

Ideally, the group that established the fund would have clarified what they meant. Absent this, however, it's a tough question for you, the fund manager.

I find Claimants C (bigamist) and E (Catholic lusting after his wife) to be most sympathetic, especially as, according to the fact pattern, the pledge was taken prior to the Pope's statement. In the United States, Claimant D (Christian lusting after another woman) would probably be able to collect in that he didn't violate the plain reading of the Commandment (although if I knew he and his co-worker had rented a motel room for the night after he collected the $10,000, I'd deny his claim), while Claimant C would not as bigamy is illegal (although if he immigrated from a country where polygamy is legal and was married prior to coming over, I'd grant an exception). Claimants A and B have clearly violated the modern American understanding of adultery. While all of these people may be guilty in God's eyes of breaking the Commandment, American law (which these Claimants will surely resort to if they disagree with your decision) tends to require an act of some kind to verify the intent.

Any Idea?

Several times over the past few months I've been approached while in stores (Circuit City and some department stores) by guys who strike up a conversation and it's always a similar experience. They'll be near me in the store and turn and ask me a question. The first few times I thought it was just regular conversation: if I'm wearing a Virginia Tech sweatshirt back in May, it's not unreasonable that someone might ask if I went there. Other times, though, it became clear that this was just a way to get their foot in the door, as when questions were along the lines of "That's a nice shirt, is it a large?"

The guys all seemed to fit a mold of 20-30 years old, self-employed (or in one case, a college student majoring in business), and non-threatening-but-personable. At least two were married and shopping with their wives. After a few minutes of conversation, they'd invariable ask if I needed a part-time job. I always told them that as a first-year law student I wasn't allowed to have an outside job, and the conversation would end politely with them wishing me luck in my studies.

I have no idea what this was about. It had never happened to me before yet over the summer it happened maybe every two weeks or so. Has some get-rich-quick program recently come out? Is this some recruitment scheme for a religion? They weren't super-nice like Mormons, slightly-angry like Jehovah's Witnesses, or creepy like Scientologists, and none of them tried to give me anything to read, or even a business card.

It's possible that this was just a series of random occurrences or that something in the way I dress or act has changed recently (I got asked if I needed a job at Jos. A Banks and a local bar, too), although I've been dressed in different ways and have always been minding my own business, looking at neckties or albums when approached. As it is, I'm baffled.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I Just Can't Do It Any More

Two of the blogs I often read (run by relatives) have gotten to the point where reading them pretty much just makes me sad. I suspect that there are people reading this who recognize who I'm talking about. Maybe I'll check back in a year or so to see how things shook out, but I'm done witnessing things that shouldn't be aired in public.