Return to Blogging? I Think So!: A Bullet List of Random Thoughts and Pictures

Thanks for you messages and well wishes. My health’s improving, and I’m hoping to get back to work slowly.

What’s been happening since I’m gone? Did I miss anything important?

Good advice!

Good advice!

Let’s see, what’s been going on in my life for the past few weeks…

  • I was mostly vegetative on the couch or in bed for two solid weeks, watching a truly epic amount of Planet of the Apes, as in the entire franchise: movies, TV show, and cartoon. You know what? With the exception of Tim Burton’s movie, it all holds up amazingly well, and the TV show is far, far better than you might expect given its short life. Apes, Harryhausen, Universal Monsters, King Kong, Corman Poe movies, Hammer, and Doug McClure loomed large in my childhood. Star Wars was, relatively, a late-comer.
Jean Stapleton, Jean Simmons, Roddy McDowell, Alice Cooper

Jean Stapleton, Jean Simmons, Roddy McDowell, Alice Cooper

dcapes

didache

  • However, I wrote almost nothing. I just didn’t have any words.

avoid

  • I see that the Supreme Court reached into their collective buttholes and yanked out an imaginary Right to Gay Marriage. I can’t even pretend to be angry because it was always expected. This is what happens when a country is ruled not be sound reason or laws, but by All The Feels. This is the triumph of sentiment over sanity, and of moral relativism over reality. A person can no more “marry” someone of the same gender than he can marry a lamp. The doesn’t change because our Black Robed Overlords say it’s so.
He's not quite gay enough, apparently.

He’s not quite gay enough, apparently.

  • My dog turned one year old yesterday. Happy birthday Ivy!
My Mastiff-Chihuahua.

My Mastiff-Chihuahua.

  • I’ve been following Rod Dreher’s writing on the Benedict Option, which people continue to insist on misunderstanding as a “withdrawal to the hills” rather than as a building of intentional communities directed towards preserving and strengthening the faith. The idea, once explained this way, is so obvious and simple that only the most obtuse can continue to misunderstand it once it’s explained, but there’s no shortage of obtuseity. (It’s a word because I damn well say it is.)
St. Benedict

St. Benedict

  • My father’s day presents from the best family in the world.

2015-06-21 14.19.47

  • This is a book weight for keeping a book open while you’re doing research. It’s brilliant.

2015-06-21 16.59.44

  • The staggering OPM hack may not be the Digital Pearl Harbor some are claiming it is, but it’s at least the Digitial Invasion of Manchuria. I have been saying, and saying, and saying again that we are heading for a global cyber-war and we are not prepared and not taking it seriously. We will feel the pain of this, right down to the household level. America is not serious about computer security, and it will hurt us more than all the Muslim fundies in the world put together.

robots

  • St. Augustine’s finger is coming to Floridia. This makes me unbelievably happy. My religion is cooler than yours.
I like to imagine him making rude gestures with it.

I like to imagine him making rude gestures with it.

The Most Wicked Man in the Whole World

The Most Wicked Man in the Whole World

  • Did you know Samuel Beckett drove Andre the Giant to school because Andre couldn’t fit on the bus? True story.2015-07-08 11.06.38
  • Oh, what’s this? The pope is a Marxist! Because he scowled at an absurdly offensive and blasphemous hammer-and-sickle crucifix given to him by the little anti-clerical prick ruling Bolovia instead of dashing it to the ground and whizzing on it, because that’s what popes should do! Seriously, people: stop reading hysterical Catholic blogs and outrage-trolling social media. It’s bad for the soul.
Yeah, he looks thrilled.

Yeah, he looks thrilled.

  • Of course, there’s something grotesquely appropriate about the Lord being nailed to the symbol of communism, since so many hundreds of millions have suffered at the hands of leftist ideologies for so long. We are being crucified on a cross of progressive politics right at this very moment. We are being told to move to the back of the bus, bake the gay wedding cake, and STFU. I refuse. Now what are they gonna do? It’s their move.

rebellious

 

 

Game Con Threatens to Leave Indiana Over Conscience Protection Bill

The latest moral preening about Indiana’s conscience protection bill comes from the Gen Con gaming convention, which is threatening to move to another state. To satisfy gamers, Indiana must choose to crush religious freedom so gay couples don’t need to pick the next caterer in the phone book.

“Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years,” said Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con LLC, in a letter sent to Pence just hours after lawmakers sent the measure to his desk.

“Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds,” she wrote. “We are happy to provide an environment that welcomes all, and the wide-ranging diversity of our attendees has become a key element to the success and growth of our convention.”

Wow, that bill must be some kind of horrible Nuremberg Laws for gays. Let’s see what fresh hell it would create:

Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest.

Can you imagine the nightmare reality such protections would unleash? People might actually need to … choose another caterer. It’s like Selma all over again.

Hey, remember when gay marriage wasn’t going to have any effect at all on people with deeply held religious convictions? Yeah, that was a lie, and we all knew it was. Christian bakers or caterers who decline to serve a gay wedding (not a gay person, mind you: a gay wedding) in violation of their beliefs must be stripped of their business and sent to re-education camps.

Of course, GenCon has a contract that locks it into the state till 2020, so this is just a lot of noise from people cuing their moral superiority.

The “Thank You God the Synod Is Over” Post

RWell, that was fun, and by “fun” I mean “let’s never do that again.”

At least not for another year.

What a mess. The twitchy year leading up to the Synod on the Family has seen a steady rise in anxiety in the very tiny corner of the Catholic pool represented by social media and blogs.

The nature of the synod is nothing new: different factions arguing about doctrine and pastoral concerns are as old as the Church itself. Remember Galatians? “When Peter came to Antioch I rebuked him to his face, because he stood condemned.” If bloggers were covering the Council of Jerusalem, their comments would have been “zOMG! Dissidents trying to weaken doctrine by relaxing rules on circumcision!” It was All Panic All The Time.

Were there reasonable concerns about the way this synod would unfold? Very much so, and many people managed to express these concerns without headlines about “Our Doom in the Making” or posts illustrated by GIFs of wolves wandering the ruins of Rome.

I was certainly concerned that Pope Francis not only thought it was a good idea to summon a middling theologian like Cardinal Kasper from semi-retirement to shape the dialog heading into the synod, but then heaped lavish praise on his theologically faulty and wholly untenable proposals for re-admitting the divorced-and-remarried to the Eucharist. That Cardinal Kasper subsequently proved himself to be a thin-skinned, arrogant liar confirmed some of the worst fears about the Pope’s judgment.

Kasper’s “we doan need no stinkin’ Africans” gaff revealed his paternalistic Germanic colonialism. That he was perfectly willing to ruin, or at least damage, the career of a respected Vatican journalist by lying to cover his own caboose is shameful, and it would have worked if the reporter hadn’t recorded the interview. Watching a publication like Commonweal labor mightily to spin his comments even after he repudiated them was a fine reminder that the progressive wing of the church is overpopulated by political hacks.

Kasper needs to return home and we should never have to hear from him again in any serious debate. He has nothing of value to offer on the subject, and he shouldn’t have been asked to advance his opinions in the first place.

The synod proceeded to run like a broken merry-go-round, as these things often do. This time, however, the chaos of various factions fighting to advance their views was broadcast in real time thanks to social media. Add to this the usual awful Vatican media management, and you wound up with explosive headlines guaranteed to sow confusion, possibly for years to come.

The amplifying quality of modern electronic media made all this rise from mere procedural quarreling into The Pivotal Moment in the Church in Our Time and Maybe in All History No Really I’m Not Even Kidding You Guys! It’s in our nature to inflate the importance and uniqueness of our times. I read comments about the church being poised on a knife edge and think, “Yes, as always. Get a grip.”

That people could write, in all seriousness, that the “Relatio post disceptationem” was “the worst official document in the history of the church” just shows the state of ignorance of some of the people shouting the loudest. It would be nice if some who profess to love Latin so much would bother to learn it, so then maybe they’d realize that “Relatio post disceptationem” means “report after a debate” and is thus not an “official church document,” much less the “worst” official church document in our history. Have these people even heard of Siena or Pisa?

The Relatio landed with a thud as people took turns either praising its prophetic willingness to discard actual Catholic teaching or condemning it as some kind of latterday Thalia purpose-built to destroy the church. It was neither. Most of it was perfectly fine, although it provided an incomplete portrait of the debate as it stood and thus failed its basic brief. Four or five paragraphs were utterly awful, and the language in the section on homosexuality was simply a disgrace. (There are suggestions that these paragraphs were inserted–perhaps without the knowledge of Cardinal Erdo–by Special Secretary Bishop Bruno Forte.)

Now that the synod has come and gone and the October Schism anticipated by certain doomsayers failed to materialize, I wonder if some of the reactionaries are disappointed. There’s a radical fringe that would like to be shed of not merely the progressives and dissidents, but also the moderates. As 2014 unfolded, they filled social media with a nonstop klaxon of fear. I do not doubt that those who wailed the loudest did so out of love of the church and genuine concern for Her, but they were reacting from a place of anxiety not reason, and there is no fear in love: perfect love drives out fear.

Pope Francis attempted to bridge the divide in his final address to the synod fathers, but it seems to set up false equivalencies between those who want to maintain the continuity of doctrine and those who don’t. He spoke of …

… a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

– The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

– The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

– The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfill the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing!

The very nature of the process–Francis deployed the word “parrhesia,” a rhetorical term meaning to speak frankly without fear of offense–means that the synod would produce documents and statements that would run against the grain. People can’t conduct a full debate without the freedom to put all points on the table and evaluate them honestly, candidly, and without fear.

The synod is a process, and the process will continue. We say some alarming things in any vigorous debate. Modern culture suffers from a sexual insanity, and any debate which touches on sexuality–as debate about the family must–will be tense, often controversial, and almost certainly misunderstood both within and without the church. The process and the perception of the process are thus at odds. We shouldn’t fear it, but we should understand it, and continue to do our best to discuss faith in charity, without undue anxiety and with confidence in the Holy Spirit Who guides and inspires us.

 

Frozen Eggs? Apple & Facebook Have You Covered

Are you a driven professional woman who wants to silent that ticking body clock so you can focus on your career? Apple and Facebook have your back: they’re providing up to $20,000 in coverage for egg freezing so women have a greater chance of conceiving late in life.

Apple will begin paying for employees to freeze their eggs in January. Apple and Facebook will pay female employees up to $20,000 to help cover the cost of freezing their eggs.

The goal is to enable women who want to continue focusing on their careers without sacrificing their chance to have children later on.

NBC News reports that Facebook recently began its program and that Apple will start paying employees who want to freeze their eggs in January.

Known as oocyte cryopreservation, egg freezing is a process by which a woman extracts and stores her eggs so that they can be reinserted into her uterus at a later date, allowing her to have children at a time when she might otherwise be infertile.

Scientific advancements have made the process increasingly successful in recent years, with a 2006 study finding that fertility rates using frozen eggs were comparable to those achieved using fresh ones.

Most women go through menopause in their late 40s or early 50s, and according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, one-third of couples where the woman is 35 or older have fertility problems.

The period during which women approach declining fertility is seen as prime work years for women hoping to advance in their careers, and many professional women consider the process a means of hitting pause on their desire to have a family.

According to a Businessweek cover story on the topic, a 2013 NYU study found that out of 183 women who froze their eggs, 19% said they might have had children earlier if their employer was more flexible.

Given Silicon Valley’s noted lack of women in power positions, offering employees money for this costly procedure — it’s $10,000 for every round of frozen eggs and an additional $500 annually for storage — could help lure top female talent.

The highlighted paragraph shows the mindset at work, and we have almost no chance to changing it. People refuse to listen to the rhythms of life and fertility and want science to “hit the pause button.” That’s not the way it works. We’ve been hitting the “pause button” on fertility since the mainstreaming of contraception midway through the previous century, and it’s managed to shred the social fabric and create a sexual culture that is insane and spiraling deeper into insanity.

These aren’t women freezing eggs because cancer treatments might leave them infertile. They’re going to spend those “productive” years contracepting the living heck out of their fully functional reproductive systems for lots of consequence-free sex. And then they’re going to want their bodies to jump to attention and start delivering babies at a more “convenient” time.

Dignitas Personae outlines the church’s position on freezing eggs:

The freezing of oocytes
20. In order avoid the serious ethical problems posed by the freezing of embryos, the freezing of oocytes has also been advanced in the area of techniques of in vitro fertilization. Once a sufficient number of oocytes has been obtained for a series of attempts at artificial procreation, only those which are to be transferred into the mother’s body are fertilized while the others are frozen for future fertilization and transfer should the initial attempts not succeed.

In this regard it needs to be stated that cryopreservation of oocytes for the purpose of  being used in artificial procreation is to be considered morally unacceptable.

A footnote adds:

Cryopreservation of oocytes is also indicated in other medical contexts which are not under consideration here. The term oocyte refers to the female germ cell (gametocyte) not penetrated by the spermatozoa.

The primary concern, therefore, is with in vitro fertilization, which is expressly forbidden.

 

‘Desire of the Everlasting Hills’: A Powerful Witness to Catholic Teachings on Same-Sex Attraction

Last Saturday, I spent the evening at Villanova speaking with three impressive and eloquent people. Paul, Dan, and Rilene all have same-sex attraction, and all have embraced the Church’s teaching on chastity.

Their stories are told in Desire of the Everlasting Hills, a new documentary from Courage International. The approach is powerful and effective because it completely avoids buzzwords and polemic. It tells three very human, very moving stories.

My article on the film is up now at the National Catholic Register. Here’s an excerpt.

Their stories are unique, as befits detailed portraits of individuals, but the broader contours of their lives will be familiar to many with same-sex attraction. There is a movement into a lifestyle that is embraced with various degrees of acceptance and gusto, a life as a person attracted to persons of the same sex and then an interruption: an epiphany. Something radical and unexpected breaks through.

The most striking story is Paul’s. While driving to get his HIV test results, his sense of impending doom is interrupted by a feeling of peace and comfort and a voice: “Paul, you do not have AIDS because you have too much to do to make up for the way you’ve been living.” He was, indeed, HIV-negative, which was something he never expected, given his number of partners.

These moments are what drove the three to go public with their stories. Paul calls the documentary “a prayer answered. I felt that I came back to the truth very late in life, so, suddenly, I felt that need to use any time I have to express my love to God and my appreciativeness for all he’s done and that he never forgot me during all the decades I forgot him and turned against him. I prayed: Jesus, please give me a few years of strength and energy. It’s not because I don’t feel he has given total forgiveness and mercy, but so I can make up for the lost years when I couldn’t tell him how much I loved him.”

Read the whole thing.

Due to length, I cut some of my interview material that seems worth printing here.

Paul, from “Desire of the Everlasting Hills”

Paul was a member of Dignity (a dissident pro-homosexual “Catholic” group) before he found Courage, and I asked him to compare the two approaches to same-sex attraction. He faults Dignity’s “feel good” approach of affirming that what he was doing was good. “It’s very feel good and everybody loves you and God loves you no matter what you do. It was an affirmation that what I was doing was okay. It made me feel good because I thought I could have it all and be the person I wanted to be, and these people are thinking God is liking the way I am.

“There was never discussion in Dignity about consequences. We were never striving for anything. There was no goal. It was buttressing out entire being in what we are doing. The Catholic Church is more welcoming because it really cares so much that we find God in our hearts and once we do that we do that we follow that relationship. I didn’t feel like anyone [in Dignity] cared about me.”

More of The Pill’s Glorious Legacy: Widespread Animal Mutation

from the Times of Trenton

‘Intersex’ fish found in Delaware, other rivers a result of hormone-disrupting chemicals

At first glance, most fish caught in the Delaware River look perfectly normal. But scientists who investigated further discovered something very unusual.

A sampling of certain male fish were found to be carrying female eggs.

These “intersex” fish were not only in the Delaware but in two other Pennsylvania river systems, according to a study done by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Scientists believe chemicals seeping into the rivers from various sources are causing this unnatural phenomenon.

From 2007 through 2010, USGS scientists collected samples of intersex fish from the Delaware, Susquehanna and Ohio rivers and their tributaries. This research, which was published last month by USGS fish biologist Vicki Blazer, is getting increasing attention among scientists, environmentalists and politicians.

A scientist from the Pennsylvania DEP catching fish to study in the Buffalo Creek in Juniata County, Pa. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Blazer discovered male smallmouth bass and white sucker fish taking on the female’s role of carrying immature eggs. Sample fish were collected from multiple sites along the rivers, including the Schuylkill River, a tributary of the Delaware 30 miles from Trenton. Nearly all the smallmouth bass and white sucker fish collected from the Schuylkill showed intersex deformities.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, this is the result of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the water. The fish’s endocrine system, which regulates hormones and reproductive systems, is being thrown off by the estrogen and estrogen-like chemicals being dumped into the water through both agricultural and human waste, such as manure and human waste water, along with synthetic chemicals coming from plastics and pharmaceutical chemicals that act like estrogens, such as the ones found in birth control pills.

Note how the writer buries the lede deep in the story and then forgets it, allowing the New Jersey Sierra Club to lie about the main problem, because that’s what the New Jersey Sierra Club and other so-called environmentalists do. They make it sound like industrial waste is the main source of the chemicals being pumped into the water, while it is largely the result of oral contraceptives, which pass into the water supply through the urine of women who take the pill, and cannot be filtered out by normal water purifying equipment.

So, in addition to reduced libido and increased risk of venous thrombosis, depression, and breast, cervix, and liver cancer, women taking oral contraceptives are also radically altering the environment. But, c’mon, y’know: sex!

If any other chemical was causing widespread and proven mutations in wildlife, the environmentalists would be going ballistic. But from them, not a peep because: seriously, guys: sex! It’s totally worth it! 

We are a sexually insane culture.

By the way, if you have a rudimentary communication skills, a functioning brain, and some simple techniques, you can do the family planning thing without pumping chemicals into your body. Look, we did the oral contraception route before we started taking our faith and my wife’s health more seriously. It’s not just possible to toss your pills, it’s actually wonderful.

Check out Simcha Fisher’s blog this week. She’s giving out a ton of natural family planning goodies for the next 13 days, because Simcha is teh awesomes.

Apple Nixes App About Female Masturbation

Steve Jobs was always adamant about keeping the App Store porn free. Of course, anyone with a mobile browser can tap a gusher of porn on their Apple mobile devices, but Jobs didn’t want to be part of selling sexually explicit material.

This is all I can actually show you of the game.

Whether or not HappyPlayTime is porn is probably in the eye of the beholder, but when game features a cute animated vulva whose goal is to teach the women about the joys of self-pleasure, then it’s close enough.

Developer Tina Gong describes it as “a sex education game whose aim is to eliminate the stigma around female masturbation.”

“Stigma” is one of those “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” words, since the idea of any sexual act being stigmatized in our sexually insane modern culture is ludicrous. The Age of Reason was replaced by the Age of Porn in which we now find ourselves. Female masturbation? We’re supposed to be celebrating sodomy like it’s a sacrament and she’s acting like female masturbation has a stigma? Did she miss the past ten years?

Here’s the description by the designer:

Loving your body, in every way, is not a sin. No more shame, no more secrets. This little vulva is on a mission: to free the world from a silly social stigma.

Sexuality is one of the most basic instincts of human beings. Being comfortable with your own sexual pleasure is a prerequisite to both being able to healthily accept pleasure from others, and pleasing others. How can you exchange pleasure with someone else if you don’t understand what your own body likes? That’s why masturbation, and learning how to masturbate is such a fundamental life lesson.

Unfortunately for many women, there has been a cultural stigma that blocks access to self-stimulation. HappyPlayTime is here to eliminate this barrier as much as possible. By talking openly and lightheartedly about female masturbation, we are taking the first step to becoming truly sexually liberated.

Disclaimer: The research used in this game is based on cisgender females and does not include transgender females. For resources about transgender female masturbation, a good place to start looking is here: F***ing Trans Women Zine.

The disclaimer is just a precious little candle on a cake iced in pure bullshit.

Women who demand to be treated as more than mere vaginas, and then produce art that obsesses about their vaginas, are just another indication of a culture gone mad. Whatever your moral perspective on human sexuality, the idea that an anthropomorphic vajayjay can “help” anyone, or is anything more than attention seeking behavior, is absurd.

In any case, Apple told her to go tickle her bean elsewhere:

The developer created the app native to iOS, perhaps making a wish on Tinkerbell’s wings that the very well-known and universally applied Apple standards would disappear in a puff of wicked patriarchal smoke if she just scrunched up her face and thought real hard.

Because a giant frigging (literally) animated vulva that teaches masturbation doesn’t qualify as “explicit depictions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings?” The entire point of the app is to stimulate erotic feelings. Not everything needs to be an app.

And now she’s got nothing but a long project of translating her app to HTML5, which is not a direct or simple process. So, good luck with that.

When Spider-Man Worked for Planned Parenthood

Yes, this really happened. Retronaut has found a special issue of Spiderman done in a collaboration between Marvel and Planned Parenthood. The art is by Marvel vets Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, but the writing is by Ann Robinson, who had a brief tenure as a Marvel executive, and no other known writing credits, for reasons that will be obvious.

The plot–and oh how I wish I was making this up–is about an alien called The Prodigy from the planet Intellectia. His voice can persuade people to do anything, and he’s using it to convince teenagers that sex doesn’t lead to pregnancy, and even if it does babies are great. He wants them to have lots and lots of human babies so he can take them back to his planet to serve as child labor.

You probably think I’m kidding, so…

Oddly enough, The Prodigy and Planned Parenthood both want kids to have plenty of consequence-free sex.

Spidey ain’t buying this jive:

Also: Spidey hates children. This is kind of … dark:

He makes quick work of the villain:

He spurts webbing into his mouth to shut him up:

… let’s just move along  …

Finally, he gets on with business of telling kids about sex…

…and, of course, where to go for “help.”

Because it’s not disturbing at all to have a beloved childhood hero pimping birth control.

And make sure you pick up their other fine publications:

Compared to the “Fisting is teh Awesomes!” stuff they churn out now, this is fairly benign, but it shows how PP has been snaking its way into popular culture and children’s lives for decades.

Exit question: Platform shoes–time for a comeback?