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Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Alternative To Resignation

Justice Kennedy has opined that any Christian who disagrees with the SCOTUS ruling on sodomite marriage should resign, just as they did in Hitler's time.

Let us leave aside the fact that the Justice has just favorably compared SCOTUS to Hitler in order to dwell on a fact he may have missed: to whit, Catholics (including the Pope) and Christians in general didn't just resign. They actively tried to assassinate Hitler and his minions. And frequently succeeded.

So, if Justice Kennedy wants America's Christians to emulate the Christians who lived under Hitler's regime, I am sure we can accomplish that. Remarkably, Justice Kennedy certainly appears to be giving his blessing to the endeavor.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why Your Vote Doesn't Matter

"Those who cast the votes decide nothing.
Those who count the votes decide everything."
I am not all that keen on voting anymore. I just don't see much of a point. You may say, "Ah, yes, the two parties are so close to the same thing, that there's not much choice, is there?"

That's not what I mean.

Electronic voting machines are not secure. At all.
So how would someone use these vulnerabilities to change an election?... Note that none of the above steps, with the possible exception of figuring out the WEP password, require any technical expertise.  In fact, they’re pretty much things that the average office worker does on a daily basis.... A high school student could perform undetectable tampering, perhaps without even leaving their bedroom. 
It isn't just that series of machines from the 2000's. There's this story from April, 2015.  
Touchscreen voting machines used in numerous elections between 2002 and 2014 used “abcde” and “admin” as passwords and could easily have been hacked from the parking lot outside the polling place, according to a state report.
or this story from 2012
If we practiced a lot, or even better, if we got someone really good with his hands who practiced a lot for two weeks, we're looking at 15 seconds to 60 seconds go execute these attacks.
As this story shows, as a voter, you can vote, sure, but you will never know who you voted for.  Why? Because as a programmer, I can adjust the voting machine's program so that my choice goes into the database while "your" choice is sent to the screen or printer. This kind of subterfuge is trivially easy. You will never know I stole your vote. 
So, we aren't voting for candidates anymore, and we haven't been voting for them for years. Whoever has the best hackers will win the election. The people lining up at the polls merely provide the necessary cover for each sides' hackers to do their work.
President Obama has quietly recruited top tech talent from the likes of Google and Facebook. Their mission: to reboot how government works.
That's why a story like the one above really says it all. How American government works - that has been rebooted.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Myers Briggs Bullshit

In English, words that have French origin are considered upperclass and acceptable, while words that are derived from German are considered low-class and less than acceptable.

So, we would rather be a chef (French) than a cook (from the German kuchen, to cook). And hospitals ask us for a feces sample (French) rather than a shit sample (from the German "scheissen").

But, in the case of the Myers-Briggs personality test, those good old Anglo-Saxon words apply. It is pure horseshit or bullshit, depending on which species you prefer.

It is as stupid as getting energy from crystals, as useless as essential oil aromatherapy, as pointless as a Himalayan salt lamp.

It is the way people with college educations justify mindless superstition.
Make it stop.

Anti-Malware Software

If you have a virus infection, and you need anti-malware software, here are some suggestions:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thoughts on Theocracy

I have recently had several conversations in which someone expressed one of the following opinions, or something similar:

"Well, you don't want a theocracy, do you?"
"This country is not a theocracy."
"You want to impose a theocracy??!?!"

This sentiment is the moral equivalent of "you don't have the right to impose your morality on others," an argument whose silliness I have written about elsewhere:
This "bayonetting our own" line is just a variant of the old pro-abortion argument, "No one has a right to impose their morality on others." Well, what if my morality says I DO have that right? By telling me what to do, aren't you assuming that YOU have the right to force this arbitrary standard on me? If you REALLY felt that way, you would have to remain silent, recognizing that I may not share your sentiments.
So, if the argument is so stupid from a logical standpoint, why would anyone say it? Well, it serves three purposes:
  • First, I get a chance to take the moral high ground - when I use the argument, I can pretend that I am serving a higher standard than grubby little you.
  • Second, because you have just been "shamed" you will probably shut up. After all, how are you going to fight against these "higher morals" I have just revealed?
  • Third, if I use that argument, I don't have to answer any of YOUR grubby little charges. I've attacked YOU, not your position.
It's pure ad hominem attack, and it's sleazy.
Generally speaking, the person who trots out the "You don't want a theocracy, do you?" line is an atheist who wants to imply that you are a sleazy, violent, anti-democratic nutcase. But even if the individual who trots out this line is a mis-guided theist, the argument is easily torn apart.
Question: America is a secular society, right?
Answer: Well, it is supposed to be. And it would be if you nasty little religious people didn't keep shoving your morality down our throats. 
Question: Should laws create the greatest good for the greatest number?
Answer: Of course! That's precisely what theocracy does not do! It only benefits the minority at the expense of the majority!
Question: Do you like all the laws that American society imposes on you? Are you happy with all of them?
Answer: Well, no one is happy with all the laws. That's the price of living in a pluralistic society! 
Question: Indeed it is! Since living under laws you don't like is the price of a pluralistic society - a price you are happy to pay - what difference does it make if you happen to live under a different set of laws you also don't like? From your point of view, it shouldn't make any difference at all. You aren't living under laws you like now, if we changed the law to a theocracy, you would still be living under laws you don't like. So, it's no loss to you. We're still pluralistic. As you point out, no one is happy with all the laws. So, we can have a lot of different groups who don't like the new theocratic laws, and it doesn't change the current situation at all.
Meanwhile, there is a significant subset of Americans who would LOVE to live under a Catholic theocracy. So, in order to implement your rules and do the greatest good for the greatest number, we really should impose a theocracy, as it makes no net negative difference to those who don't like the current law set, and it would make a great positive difference for those who would like to live under a Catholic theocracy.
At this point, they will start huffing about how it makes an enormous difference, but they won't be able to tell you what that difference actually is.

I am now authorized to reveal what the essential difference is. The difference between living under secular law vs. a theocracy is simple: by having everyone live under secular laws they don't like, everyone is forced to tacitly accept the idea that secular laws are superior to all other kinds of law. If we force everyone to live under Catholic (or Islamic or Jewish) laws they don't like, everyone would have to tacitly accept the idea that Catholic (or Islamic or Jewish) law was superior to secular law.

It isn't the "living under laws I don't like/believe in" part that upsets them.
It is being tacitly forced to accept the idea that Catholic law really is the best form of law.

Dealing with Pollsters

When polling companies call me, I always ask to be paid before I answer any questions. If they are going to make money off of my opinions, I want my cut.

They always decline to pay me, I always decline to answer.
Go, thou, and do likewise.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Atheist's Dilemma

Socrates was not an atheist (far from it), but his dilemma has often been invoked by atheists to "prove" the Christian idea of God is self-contradictory. This is Euthyphro's dilemma:
Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God? 
If the former, then there is something (morality) greater than God, that even God must conform to. If the latter, then God is arbitrary and not reasonable at all. 
The answer requires the acceptance of only two concepts. If, for purposes of argument, we accept two propositions: (1) each being has its own characteristic nature, and (2) God is pure existence, the source of all existence, then there is no dilemma, at least none in Christian theology.

Morality is not the result of God issuing commands.
The moral life is who God is and God does not change.

Now, one may respond that anything which does not change is dead, yet that response cannot explain the fact that, even on the physical plane, we are composed of things that do not change, yet we live.

God is pure Act, pure Being. Morality is the nature of God. To say that we conform ourselves to moral law is to say we are only fully ourselves when we live as the image and likeness of the God in Whose image and likeness we are made.

Socrates' false dilemma comes from the wrong idea that morality is a command.
It isn't.

Morality is Being. Morality is Act. God is pure Act. When God reveals Himself to us, even through the physical revelation that is the physical universe (the heavens are telling the glory of God), our being responds to His self-revelation. Even physical contact with the universe elicits a response from us (we, who are made in His image). We respond with an answering recognition, a desire to live as He lives, to "be ye holy as God is holy." This is the moral compulsion each man experiences. It is not a command from God, it is our own human nature responding to His divine nature - Deep calls to deep across the void. God does not command us to live according to His moral law. Rather, if it can be considered a command at all, we command ourselves to live the moral law, because - when we encounter Him, even if ever so remotely - we innately and inchoately desire to live as He lives.

Socrates and every other philosopher who saw the relationship between God and "His commands" as a dilemma only saw it as such because they didn't understand what Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas did understand. Morality ultimately isn't about command. It is about image and likeness, Persons and personhood, God's Own Divine Nature and its (broken) mirror, our human nature.

Socrates could not understand this because he did not have the tools. The idea of "person" is a Christian idea. The word "person" was stolen by Christians from Greek stage plays and redefined to help people understand the three Persons of the Trinity. Since Socrates did not have the Christian understanding of either "person" or "nature", he could not resolve the problem that he faced. He believed in God, but - without the revelation of Jesus Christ - he didn't know how to answer the dilemma he faced.

More Questions on the Synod


The synod wasn't assembled by the catholic media that you've been so prone to criticize. It was called by the Pope, and he does what he wants, like you said.

So we have a Pope who has assembled a pointless synod and replaced certain conservatives with liberals. And you blame the "catholic media".

Do you blame the catholic media when the Pope says certain things about homosexuality, and within weeks, Illinois politicians pass a gay marriage law quoting these very same words the pope so careless used?


Yes, the synod was called by the Pope. The Pope's job, along with the bishops, is to explain the Faith to the world. That means the bishops need to have an explanation for any nonsense the world spews.

Thus, in order to have answers to nonsense, bishops within the synod must propose nonsense, so that proper responses to nonsense can be discussed. It doesn't matter if the bishops who propose the nonsense actually believe the nonsense they propose. The point of the synod is to adequately respond to the world's nonsense with the Gospel Truth.

So, of course the synod will have discussions about nonsense.
It would be extremely odd if it did not.

The point of the synod, any synod, is never to explain "new" doctrine, for there is no such thing. The only reason synods are called is to explain unchanging doctrine in a way the changing world understands. The whole point of a synod is to discuss the world's nonsense, and try to help the world make sense of it's own nonsense. So, yeah, if the synod didn't have discussions about absolutely ludicrous ideas, it wouldn't be doing what it was called to do.

I blame the "Catholic" media for spreading nonsense about the synod. Catholic media is supposed to understand this process and explain it to us secular Catholics who don't get it. Catholic media is supposed to calm the storms, not invoke them. But, for want of clicks, the "Catholic" media is doing exactly what the world does - twist the synod's work, instill fear that the Church will fail, the sun won't rise tomorrow, Satan will win, yada, yada, yada.

The devil was quoting Scripture long before Pope Francis was a gleam in his father's eye. The devil will continue to quote Scripture long after Pope Francis' body is in the grave. Why are you shocked to see the devil quote Pope Francis quoting Scripture???

If I were a Freemason, I would be doing EXACTLY what the "Catholic" media is doing. I would be stirring up fear and opposition, I would be stoking division and mistrust. Every time you see a website inspiring fear about a papal synod or listen to a sermon expressing concern about Pope Francis, you are looking at a Masonic news item, listening to a Masonic sermon. Is that really how you want to spend your day?

Monday, October 05, 2015

Selling the Vatican's Artwork

This is a common sentiment, voiced by Protestants and atheists for centuries.

It can't be done.

Contrary to reports, the Vatican is not rich. It's annual budget is less than $300 million (Harvard's annual budget is $3.7 billion). It has an endowment of about $1 billion (Harvard has a whopping $30.7 billion endowment).

Treaty obligations prevent the Vatican from selling any artwork. Article 18 of the 1929 Lateran Concordat with Italy which created the modern Vatican State says:
“The artistic and scientific treasures existing within the Vatican City and the Lateran Palace shall remain open to scholars and visitors, although the Holy See shall be free to regulate the admission of the public thereto”
If it sold its property or artwork (each valued at 1 Euro), it would lose its sovereignty. Italy would be within its rights to take it all back.

But the above two reasons are silly secular reasons. The real reason the Catholic Church cannot sell the artwork is simple: God is Truth, Goodness and Beauty.

The artwork is a necessary tool to evangelize people to understand God. Asking the Catholic Church to sell the artwork is very much like asking the Catholic Church to burn every copy of Scripture in the world and never mention Jesus Christ again. The request substantially asks the Church to hand over its witness to God to the highest bidder. It requests that the Church henceforth refuse to effectively witness to God.

It cannot be done.

Any person who even entertains the idea of selling of Vatican art, by the very fact that he proposes it, demonstrates that he knows absolutely nothing about the Gospel or the Catholic Faith.

According to even secular sources like The Economist, the Catholic Church is the single largest charitable organization in the world. We are charitable because we know Christ. If we lost the art, it would be harder to know Him, harder to remember our purpose. In charity, the Church must keep her image of God always before Her, and that image is BEAUTY.