Thursday, May 30, 2013


When I was a kid, I hated school. Hated it with a passion and determination that made both my life and my mother's miserable from the first day. I've always loved learning things, but hated school. I begged Mum to homeschool me. She was a qualified teacher, but in those days it just wasn't done, not really even among the hippies.

When we got back to Canada from England I was put back into North American "grade 1" and I concluded that the kids were all idiots. We had been rather more advanced in the English school I had gone to, and I couldn't understand why the only thing we did all day was "play". What was the point of that? Why did I have to go to this horrible, sterile place that smelled bad and was filled with screaming morons to do something I could do much more effectively at home? Besides, the only place I could get my hands on any books was at home.

School has never made sense to me. Learning things is interesting. Wasting your days sitting in a row of desks listening to a tired, underpaid functionary tell the other kids to shut up and pay attention was decidedly not. I was given my first library card when I was five. Libraries, books at home and my mother, the university undergraduate in maths and marine biology, was where you learned things. It was where the secrets of the universe were being revealed. School was prison.

After my first day of school in Victoria, my mother was walking me home and I asked, "How long do I have to keep going there?" She said, "About 12 years." I burst into tears and was inconsolable for the rest of the day.

For a long time, I thought my hatred of school was my fault.

Now I know I was right when I was five. As was so often the case.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Becoming Italian

The weather this month has been, by Italian standards, mostly crap. We've only had a few warm days and I've only been swimming once. Normally, we'd have been in the water all month in May, but we've been averaging no higher than 15-18 degrees C and lots of stormy, cloudy, rainy days. The Italians are staying away from the beach in droves, and walking around bundled up in their ugly padded jackets and scarves like it's the start of a new ice age.

Of course, this Canuckistani is still wandering around in shirtsleeves and skirts, (hey! 18 degrees! woot!) but even so, I'm starting to think wistfully about all the beach days we've missed and wondering if my 50 spf is a little redundant. Last year I noted out loud that I seem to be acclimating to the Horrible Heat and didn't mind it nearly as much as before. Of course, last summer was milder than usual too.

And as an acclimated Canadian in Italy, last night I had the following conversation with my Brain:
"I'm cold. I'm going to put the heat on."

"Don't you dare. It's May! In fact, it's almost June. You can't put the heat on in Almost June in Italy."

"But I'm cold!"

"Put a woollie on."

"I don't want to put a woollie on. It's almost June!"

Of course, I see that other people are getting their summer early, with 30-35 degrees in the Toronto time zone. Bleah. I'd be begging for death. So I guess I won't complain too much when the gas bill comes.

Here's a Blondie song to put you in the summer mood


Saturday, May 25, 2013


Wow, if you want to get a cute Budgie like Disco, you've really got to be prepared to commit.

Budgie 10 -15 yrs
Cockatiel 15 -20 yrs
Conure 25 - 30 yrs
African Grey 50 - 60 yrs
Amazon 50-60 yrs
Macaws 50 - 80 yrs
Cockatoo 60 - 80 yrs

I was just enjoying once again that lovely glimpse of Old Britain, just before it all ended forever, one has in the old Ealing Comedy films. The Ladykillers remains one of my all time favourites, and always reminds me happily of the ladies who lived near my grandparents' house where I spent a lot of time as a child. (Two of them, Mrs. Helen MacDonald and Miss Dorothy Black, a widow and a spinster, lived in separate but adjacent houses where they allowed me to play, very carefully, with the antique - and I now realise extremely valuable - porcelain figurines of ballet dancers. But never let me win at Scrabble.)

It always gives me a terrible case of nostalgia and it occurred to me again today, rather sadly, that everyone in the film (which was Peter Sellers' first screen appearance) are long since dead, starting with the darling Katie Johnson as little Mrs. Wilberforce who was so wonderful she stole the show from no less a person than Alec Guinness (not yet "Sir" at the time).

Then I realised that not all the actors are necessarily gone. The cockatoo and Amazon parrots could very well still be with us.

And the internet has astonished me again by bringing my distant personal past, that I now think of as semi-mythological, into the present.

Here are the little ballerina figurines, made in Ireland, that were in Mrs. MacDonald's glass cabinet. Not the exact one, of course, and she had quite a few, but this is the exact style. It gave me rather a strange feeling looking at all the photos of the Dresden figurines. I suppose there were quite a lot of them floating about the world in old ladies' knick-knack cabinets, but now I imagine they are priced out of the range of normal people by these monomaniacal loons we call "collectors".

So much has changed, with me and in the world since then, that I sometimes wonder if my memories are really memories. So far away and so utterly vanished are all the figures from my past life that I often have the odd feeling that my memories are just my imagination. Virtually nothing remains of my childhood and life before my twenties, neither people nor artifacts. My life now is almost entirely recently constructed, and no one I currently consort with has known me more than five, or at most, ten years. It really does contribute to the feeling I have always had that I'm really just a replicant with implanted false memories. Am I haunted, or am I really a ghost from the past who's doing the haunting of the modern world?

Now and then, something physical bobs up from the depths to the surface and I am left with a strange shocked feeling. Who are we, really, other than our pasts?


Thursday, May 23, 2013

That does not go there

Speaking of "gay sex"...

I recall a conversation I had with a friend of mine, some time ago, discussing the objections to the global normalisation of homosexuality. She summed up the sexual progressive's position rather neatly, saying, "It fits there." She was, of course, responding to my simplification of the "naturalist" argument: "That does not go there."

"Yeah," I replied, "and it would fit down a vacuum cleaner hose too, but it doesn't go there either."

My friend was verbalising what has become the general view, which reveals much about what the world doesn't want talked about.

Homosexuality has come to be couched around with the same kind of protective verbal and social wadding that abortion has enjoyed for some years now. When you say the word "abortion" in most secular company, the thing that pops into the minds of your hearers is not going to be gruesome photos of dismembered infants, but a loud shout of "WOMEN'S RIGHTS!!!". In a similar way, when we hear the word "homosexual" we have recently been trained to think kind thoughts of civil rights and of friendly young men in turtlenecks who like showtunes and suffer "oppression".

But there are quite a lot of things about homosexuality that we might want to consider, if given sufficient "social space".

First, my response above was facetious: the truth is that it doesn't actually fit there. One of the nastier things that the public doesn't hear about on those charmingly written sit-coms promoting the ideology, is the physical damage entailed by repeated misuse of the posterior fundament. It's not pretty reading, but perhaps the terms "anal fissures," "chronic anal incontinence" and "rectal prolapse" would give the imagination a little boost. And it's difficult to see how "discrimination" accounts for the incredible profusion of incidents of anal cancer among gay men. In short, if we are speaking strictly in terms of biological function, that bit is designed to, ahem, have things come out, not go in and to attempt to use it regularly in a different way will cause extremely unpleasant, permanent harm.

And this brings me to my second thought, that homosexuality is a negation of a philosophical principle that says the purpose of a thing is built into its nature. Sex, and consequently the sex organs and the whole physical system, is something that exists to fulfill a specific biological function. The idea that it is also something that we like to do is a kind of bonus that makes us want to do it enough to set aside, at least long enough to get the job done, the less pleasant thoughts of what parenthood entails. Doing it in a way that is intended to thwart that natural purpose is going to cause harm. That's just the way it is with these biological realities: that does not go there.

In our times, starting with (as I have maintained for some time) the dismantling of the divorce laws and moving on to the incredible blow of artificial hormonal contraceptives, we have created a social myth, a Fantasy if you will, that sex does not have to have anything at all to do with its natural, biological function. Indeed, so enamoured have we become with this Fantasy that there are entire university faculties dedicated to teaching and expanding upon the idea that your reproductive bits are merely arbitrary flesh-bumps that can be used, cut off, drugged and modified to suit one's preferred peculiarities. It's called "gender theory," and, as an outgrowth of "women's studies" has become very popular among academics with more time and money than sense.

But in the Olden Days, we had other names for it. In the 13th century, we called it "nominalism," the idea that reality has no objective, external foundation, that it can, in the modern parlance, be anything you want it to be and that you can "create your own reality".

Nothing new under the sun, as they say, and nominalism is very popular today. It is the idea behind the notion that "gender," for example, is a merely arbitrary, cultural or social label, and that a person can be born into the "wrong" body, that he can designate himself a her. And even weirder, that he can have some kind of surgery or medical intervention that changes his sexual nature.

But sex is what it is, biology is what it is, no matter how the extreme feminists and homosexualists rant about its "injustice". And this denial of biology is, extended out to the furthest reaches of the envelope, a denial of external reality, and an assertion of the will to power, that we can just decide for ourselves how reality is going to go.

Of course, this kind of extreme relativism, probably better called solipsism, always works best for those with the most raw power. This is why homosexualists (those promoting the ideology, which of course, does not mean all homosexuals) have turned to the courts and to direct lobbying of government, to enforce their private Fantasy on the rest of the world. The one thing a Fantasy needs to survive is a safe environment: people have to be convinced to play along.

And play along we all have up to now. We are at the point, and long past it, where we all must say "Yay" and only "Yay" to "gay marriage". We have municipalities agreeing to let self-designated "trans" people, with or without the surgery, into the bathrooms of the opposite sex, and never mind that this means a grown man will now be allowed to flash his thing around a womens locker room at a public swimming pool. We have governments insisting that a man-who-wants-to-be-a-woman can change his sex on his passport.

My friend above was verbalising the general view, that your bits are just flesh-bumps, attached arbitrarily to a set of nerves that produce particular sensations when rubbed up against something else. And that all of this has nothing whatever to do with anything else. The notion is that sex is divorced (pun intended) from its purpose ... and living in Vegas.

We started with sex without marriage, moved on from there to sex without children and more latterly to children without sex. None of these things have necessarily anything to do with any of the others.

This Fantasy, however, is going to cause more and more problems, as any lie does when it is adhered to.

Do you remember when you were a kid, before you had learned that it's actually a good idea to try to be a moral person, and you routinely lied to get out of difficulties? Remember how the lie had to be maintained by more lies and bigger lies and eventually that it took over whole sections of your life? You had to maintain greater and greater contrivances to make sure The Real never broke in on the lie?

Well, it's kind of getting like that, around here, isn't it?


Re-post: Let's Talk About Sex!

In honour of Britain's latest Great Leap Forward, a re-post of one of my most popular recent posts.

Let's talk about what we're talking about, for a change...

Specifically, gay sex.

Wait, where's everyone going?

It's a funny thing about the Newfangled people, that though the whole world appears to be totally obsessed with sex, the people at the heart of the Sexual Revolution (MPs) seem to be unable to bring themselves to talk about it. We talk around it. We look at nudie pictures and watch hotsie-totsie videos that imply all sorts of boinking, but the actual physical realities seem to be something none of the Englightened wish to address.

Consider this little point by homosexualist promoter Chris Ashford, writing about the "Gay Marriage" (yes, scarequotes are obligatory, especially now) bill in the UK:

He notes that the bill is actually pretty sweeping, and among other things, removes from the law on marriage the idea that sexual congress is a definitive requirement. "Gay marriages," under the new dispensation, will not need to be consummated in order to be considered valid. This appears on the face of it to be an acknowledgement that they can't be. That "gay sex" is not, in fact, sex at all...
The act of consummation is deemed not applicable as a voidable ground (whereby you essentially argue that a marriage never really existed as you didn’t consummate it with a sexual act) for same-sex marriage but remains in place for different-sex couples.

Why? Well, he says it's because "Civil Servants...just couldn’t figure out how to define the sexual act for same-sex couples."

Mmmm... actually Chris, I think that's probably not it. I think they know, as we all do, what "gay sex" is. It's just that one man sticking his thing into another man's bum, isn't. Sorry, but until very recently, all laws that ever had anything to do with sex, anywhere, ever, knew and acknowledged that sodomy is not sex. Sex, despite what the culture desperately wants to believe, is a biological thing about creating children. It's not about mutual self-gratification, but about physical survival of the species. And that part only works one way.

I think maybe it's time to start talking about what we're talking about. If the drafters of legislation that is proposing to abolish the legal traditions of nine or ten thousand years of human civilisation can't talk about what it's doing, then I think it's time that we stopped being little girls about all this. A man sticking his thing into another man's bum and jiggling it about until orgasm, isn't sex. At most it's a form of self-gratification, using another person as a sex toy that doesn't require batteries.

That in some cases some homosexual men may have genuine warm human emotions towards their sex dolls, is more or less beside the point in marriage law. In fact, wait, it's totally beside the point in marriage law, the same way laws regulating fishing quotas are beside the point in marriage law.

So far the entire argument has been "But we weally wuv each other!" and cries of "It's not FAIR!" But marriage law, sadly, has never had anything to do with love. It has never been interested in the question of how spouses feel about each other. That's because, until the Global Temper Tantrum, the law wasn't about feeeewings. It was about rather more hard-nosed things like biological reality, money, property and taxes. Things that are pretty relevant when you're making laws that pertain to children.

I don't know whether it is a good sign or a bad one that the UK's legislation drafters couldn't bring themselves to talk about the gruesome nitty gritty of homosexuality, but it seems certain it's a sign of something. Perhaps that, though the Sexual Revolution, shortly to be codified in law in Britain, is determined to continue not to believe it, and apparently to force everyone else to pretend it's not true, marriage is about sex and sex is about procreation. And rubbing your bits against another object, whether that object is another person or not, and whatever your feelings about the act or about the other person, doesn't make it sex.

Perhaps, and here's me going out on a wildly thrashing limb in a high wind, there was just enough of a grip left on reality by the bill's drafters to stop them from coming out and actually saying, "Why yes. Sticking your thing into another man's bum is exactly the same as natural procreative sex."

It has been noted elsewhere, here and there, that the Sexual Revolution has had some odd long-term side effects that weren't perhaps what everyone expected. It's being documented lately that people, though more saturated than ever by sexy stuff in the media, are actually having way less sex. Married women in some countries are just giving it up as pointless (since they're mostly contracepting, this seems merely sensible, actually). Men, in increasingly large numbers are giving it up as a bad risk (don't conceive and she'll start manipulating you; conceive and you'll find yourself in court and losing everything). I don't know about gay men, but I'll take a wild guess and say that the bath house parties are losing their cachet.

And the SR seems to have had the odd effect on legislators of turning them into even bigger prudes than our Victorian ancestors. At least we could be sure that Queen Victoria, Shelley and Lord Byron knew what sex was. And all without the benefit of Marie Stopes bringing them condoms to fit on bananas in their schoolroom.

~ * ~

An interesting side-note: Chris Ashford also says that the only place in the bill where "gay sex" does actually get a mention is in the bit that "allows for a marriage to be voidable if a partner was suffering from a communicable venereal disease". Reality biting a little hard there?


Streets of London "flowing with much blood"

So, who's ready to apologise to Enoch Powell?


Bueller?... Bueller?


Monday, May 20, 2013

What seems to be the profficer?

He's not a crook. His name is Disco, he's a parakeet.

Meet my lastest internet obsession; Disco the Parakeet.

I think he may out-cute all the kitten videos put together. It's making me what to get a budgie, but I think Winnie would make pretty short work of him.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Scribbling in my book

On the train and while watching TV.


My buddy Chris explains it all to you

Chris Ferrara breaks the mould of the Catholic Trad. He's one of the leading voices in the Traditionalist movement in the US. And you will never meet a more cheerful, fun-loving and personable chap. Never an unkind word to or about anyone and always ready for a laugh or a song or a beer or a gelato.

Here he helps to clear up some misunderstandings.

One often hears the phrase, "I'm just a Catholic" from people who are at once trying to place themselves above the Church's interior War and to deny that there is anything they need to learn about their Faith.

It is annoying.

Where there are differences, one must make distinctions. And in the Church there are differences (and how!) and therefore we make the distinctions as best we can. (Taxonomy is the least exact of all the biological studies).

It is not pious or noble to try to ignore these differences or to sneer at the people who are attempting in good faith to clear away the dishonest effort made by many churchmen over the last 50 years to paper over and ignore these differences, to the harm of millions.

Chris Ferrara explains that we use these distinguishing terms because there are differences, one might say "divisions" in the Church that, for the good of souls, must be identified.

"Because of these novelties that have infiltrated the life of the Church, we've developed a kind of neoconservative Catholicism... And that is unprecedented in the Church. Before Vatican II we were all 'traditionalists'. We all went to the traditional Latin Mass; we all believed there was one true Church; we all prayed fifteen decades of the Rosary. We all pretty much practiced and believed the same way as our fathers and their fathers did for century after century after century.

"But now as I stand here, it becomes necessary for me to say I'm a Traditionalist. Why? Because there has arisen in the Church a kind of division of the Church into strains of Roman Catholicism.

"Now we have the charismatics. We have the conservative Novus Ordos. We have the very conservative Novus Ordos, the liberal Novus Ordos, the moderate Novus Ordos, the Traditionalists, the very extreme Traditionalists, the sede vacante Traditionalists... and so on.

"Whereas before Vatican II, we had heretics and Catholics."

He's the one who finally put my mind to rest about the Church. In a conversation at Gardone, he said, "Whatever goes on in Rome, stay Catholic. They can't take the faith from you unless you're willing to relinquish it."

"You can't take the sky from me."


Thursday, May 16, 2013


New study finds women prefer to be housewives than corporate execs...

The first thing Feminism had to do was convince everyone that there is no such thing as an inherent feminine and masculine nature.

But The Real always wins.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spring in Rome

Last Angelus... not a dry eye in the Piazza.

"You are Peter, stay."

Conclave adventures: Vatican's media centre

The only clear shot I got of the white smoke.

Rather a large crowd.

The long, weird pause where he just stood there.
"Pssst... buddy, you're supposed to wave..."

For the first five minutes, I just called him Pope New Guy, then someone with a smartphone got it from the interwebs. Yes, standing in the Piazza listening to the announcement in person, we still needed the internet to tell us what was going on.

Santa Marinella in the spring... April is best in Italy.

Roman Acanthus Spinosus. I was going to dig some up and put it in a pot on the balcony, but had second thoughts when I saw how huge they get.

Close up of the purple flowers on that tree. Cercis siliquastrum.

Fibonacci was here... lots of spiky Mediterranean things around.

"I live here. I really live here." Sometimes I have to say it out loud because it just seems unreal.

Pink Oxalis

Flowering crabapple

April, definitely Italy's best month.

Some relative of the Yucca plant, they grow long strands of pointy leaves in a bunch then this flower spike comes up. V. beautiful.

This stuff grows all over the hills, but I haven't found it in any of my wildflower books.

Freesias growing wild in a cow field.

Also still working on this one. Square stem and purple bract flowers on a single spike with opposed toothed leaves and furry surface. A bunch of taxonomic characteristics that would put it in the mint family, but no minty scent.

Santa Marinella is built on the teeny little strip of flattish land between the beach and the base of the hills. In about five minutes walking, you find yourself at the base of a very steep hill that takes about 1/2 an hour or 45 minutes to climb. At the top is a plateau of rolling countryside leading off into the Etruscan hills. All farmland up there.

It's my favourite walk. (I think that's a volcano in the far background).

I love the zoom on my camera.

One of the older farms... typical Lazio stone construction.

Looking positively English, it's so green and pleasant. The yellow stuff blooms all through the spring, turning the fields golden. It's wild mustard.

Borage, useful medicinal plant, and you can candy the blossoms. Watch out for the prickles though.

On the Via Marguta in Wisteria season.

I gatti di Roma...

I make a joke about modern "art" - that it's the "school of nailing chairs to walls". And here they are in a gallery.

At the Santa Marinella train station. Some people see weeds, I see flowers and a lovely natural garden.

Lots of thistle-like spiky Mediterannean things. Anyone?

Greater Plantain. I know how to make them into projectiles. Do you?

People vastly underestimate the beauty of grasses. So elegant.

Dramatic cat.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Euclid Book 1

or, why I wish I had a blackboard in my living room.

There's this great thing on YouTube, "Mathematicsonline" that has a whole bunch of beginner Euclid. But his playlists are all messed up and out of order, so I'm putting them together.

Here, now you can learn something while you surf.

A long time ago I found a reason to upgrade my math skills (I may have told y'all this story before.) so I enrolled in this rather neat thing they had in Vancouver to help adults catch up with educational things they'd missed for various reasons in school. It wasn't exactly "adult upgrading". Being the Left Coast, they gave much thought to creating something that wouldn't hurt our "self esteem" (ie: our egos) so they set it up, quite ingeniously, to have upgrading "streams" in the various subjects into which you could find your starting point and go forward as fast or as slow as you wanted and as far as you wanted. In theory, you could start with first grade math and go all the way through to calculus (or whatever) and physics, (assuming they could find a teacher who knew it).

It was staffed by retired university professors and people like that who wanted to help out but who knew what they were doing. It was a drop-in sort of thing, so you just went when you could. Everyone was very friendly and supportive, and they were careful not to make you feel like an idiot for having blown off your education the first time round. It was pretty great, actually, and if there were ever to be a highschool set up like that, it might be worth a try for homeschooling types.

So, anyway, I started with a tested math level of about grade nine and quickly discovered that my math troubles had been more connected to my difficult home situation than anyone had previously thought, and I shot ahead like a mathematical bullet. I was greatly relieved, actually, since I had thought all that time that I was somehow mentally defective. That the math part of my brain simply didn't work as well as normal people's. It turns out that I'd just had lousy teachers, starting with my mother.

She, with her undergraduate degree in Math and her authorship of a math text and then her engineering degree, had no idea how to teach someone who "didn't get it," and all of our attempts at either teaching me math or doing math homework had ended up with the following screaming match: "I can't do it! I just CAN'T DO IT!!!" "I DON'T KNOW WHY, AREN'T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE MY KID?"

Anyway, I was glad to discover that there wasn't actually anything wrong with my brain except a habit of panicking whenever I sat down with a math book. If they'd had YouTube at the time, I'd have not bothered ever touching a math book again.

Ultimately, the thing I learned about myself was that I LOVED geometry. There was that memorable moment when I realised what geometry and philosophy had to do with each other: geometry was just a kind of way of diagramming the underlying nature of reality, and proving that it is real, that the rules that set up everything, the universe (and presumably whatever there is other than the universe) are absolute, immutable and non-contradictory, that the universe was rational.

Ahhhhhh... rational...Mmmmmm...


The Laws of Nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God."


One smart SOB.


Allie explains what depression is like

as I grew older, it became harder and harder to access that expansive imaginary space that made my toys fun. I remember looking at them and feeling sort of frustrated and confused that things weren't the same.

"I played out all the same story lines that had been fun before, but the meaning had disappeared. Horse's Big Space Adventure transformed into holding a plastic horse in the air, hoping it would somehow be enjoyable for me. Prehistoric Crazy-Bus Death Ride was just smashing a toy bus full of dinosaurs into the wall while feeling sort of bored and unfulfilled. I could no longer connect to my toys in a way that allowed me to participate in the experience."

Depression feels almost exactly like that, except about everything.

Welcome back, btw. We've all missed you.


5/8/13 - a film

It's all made of math.


5/8/13 - What's for lunch?

Fibonacci broccoli!

(Yes, I know it was yesterday. Shut up.)


5/8/13 - Happy Fibonacci Day, Math Nerds!

Pythagoras teaches Donald a little Sacred Geometry.


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Leftie Gloom

"He took it as a sign of worse to come and decided to set a date for his euthanasia"

This is something I've been saying for a long time. The Death Culture is driven by fear. And our culture has become so atomized and individualized, that a lot of people are simply afraid of life on their own when they are no longer able to fend for themselves.

I remember realising that it also grew out of the Cold War. When I was growing up, I heard a lot from the adults about how terrible the world was going to be after The Bomb. No one would want to live, the "living would envy the dead". I think a lot of our current cultural assumption that we would all be better off dead comes from that.

We assume that suffering is all there is going to be, and that the suffering is going to be unendurable, and, as good secularists, we believe it is meaningless. We're going to be alone in a survival-of-the-fittest world where no one owes anything to anyone else. Life is nasty, brutish and short and there's no heaven to be won, so why endure it?

We've all got a terrifying post-apocalyptic movie running in our heads all the time.

As the writer of this piece said, it's hardly surprising that Dr. Doom n'Gloom decided to kill himself. His worldview told him that life has no value unless it's all peaches and roses, his kids thought he should off himself, his country says it's legal and morally A-OK, and his entire gloomy culture says that the suffering of life, that no one gets to escape, is meaningless.

Are we surprised that "leftists" (which, as far as I can tell really means "nihilists") want to die?

“The living world has become impoverished, species are being lost every day, energy and other resources are nearing exhaustion, the environment is deteriorating, pollution is everywhere, climate is changing, natural balances are threatened. Especially, human beings are being crushed by their own number. Overcrowded cities are spawning increasingly lawless suburbs. Waste is accumulating in and around them, straining the capacity to deal with it. Vast areas are witness to the struggles of destitute populations trying to survive under unlivable conditions.

"In spite of the advances of medicine, deathly epidemics are more menacing than ever before. Conflicts, exacerbated by economic disparities, nationalisms, and fundamentalisms, are raging in various parts of the world. The specter of a nuclear holocaust has become thinkable.”

Crikey, I would!


Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Especially the PJs all day thing

I do groom though. It's kind of like a hobby.

But I totally let the house go and clean only in weirdly specific bursts.


Friday, May 03, 2013

The Real Always Wins

Catholic World Report is asking the awkward questions about Islam that NewChurch doesn't want asked...

I speak about the violence expressed in the Qur'an and practiced in Muhammad's life in order to address the idea, widespread in the West, that the violence we see today is a deformation of Islam. We must honestly admit that there are two readings of the Qur'an and the sunna (Islamic traditions connected to Muhammad): one that opts for the verses that encourage tolerance toward other believers, and one that prefers the verses that encourage conflict.

Both readings are legitimate.
Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, SJ, the Egyptian scholar of Islam who teaches in Beirut and at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, quoted by Carl Olsen in the National Catholic Reporter.

This little point is the essence, first, of the conflict between Islam and the West, and second of the kinship between Islam and what we call "liberalism," which, as it is playing out in western countries, is really just another term for creeping irrationalism.

Both systems of thought look upon the restrictions of concrete reality as "irrelevant". Both are essentially nominalistic, saying reality is what I decide it is, that something that is true for me is not necessarily true for you, a rejection of the notion of objective reality, which results, as we have seen in a "dictatorship of relativism".

This is what Benedict was getting at in Regensburg; that religion, whose purpose is to describe The Real, must first be rational.

What does that mean?

This is one of the problems with having the profession of journalist exclusively populated with people from Modernia and Newfanglia. They aren't educated so much as indoctrinated. Thus they don't know what words mean and use them differently - for different purposes - than someone interested in conveying reality. So when it came time to report on the infamous Regensburg Address none of them had the intellectual tools to understand it.

When Benedict said that religions have to reject irrationality, he was talking about what I like to call The Laws of Rational Thought, those principles by which we can ascertain truth from falsehood, reality from illusion.

These of course weren't "invented" by the Greeks, any more than Newton could be said to have invented gravity. You don't have to be either a Greek philosopher or a pope to understand them. I'm pretty sure that these Greeks simply wrote down and systematised something that the Babylonians and Egyptians knew all about. In fact, just looking at these ideas we know that, as C.S. Lewis liked to point out, everyone knows them. Indeed, Aristotle himself said that even a man who doesn't think about philosophy at all still acts in accordance with the Principles of it: "Why does he not just get up first thing and walk into a well or, if he finds one, over a cliff? In fact, he seems rather careful about cliffs and wells."

The formal Aristotelian formulations are still the most clear and useful.

First among the Laws of Rational Thought is the Logical Principle of Non-Contradiction. As Aristotle put it in the Metaphysics: "One cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time."

Contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time. One cannot both be in a room and not in a room at the same time.

This idea, and the ideas that spring from it, is the foundation of everything in our civilisation. It is our basic descriptor of the physical universe: essentially, that it is what it is, and its nature cannot be opposed to itself.

Islam's "god" contradicts itself; it says that a thing can both be and not be in the same respect and the same time. One day Allah says to be merciful and tolerant of Christians and Jews and the next day a good Muslim is to kill them, and as our Jesuit friend above said, "both are true interpretations" of the "will of Allah". Islam embraces the notion that its god, that it proposes as the creator of the universe, can encompass both itself and its contradiction. It proposes an essentially irrational god, and a universe that has no constant, universal laws. A god that changes its mind is no God.

"Liberalism" proposes something similar, that each person is a god who can decide according to his preferences what is and is not real and can change that reality to suit his immediate needs.

Christianity, however, as Judaism before it, posits first a rational God, one that never contradicts Himself. As it is put in Scripture,"For I am the Lord, I do not change. Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob." and "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." God does not change, and proposes a moral law that is more absolute than the physical laws governing the material universe.

(This, and not even questions of the Trinity or the Incarnation, is the first reason, by the way, that I will never accept the trendy NewChurch notion that "we all worship the same God". It's rubbish because the "god" described by Islam is in many respects entirely the opposite of the God described by Christianity. In fact, it more closely resembles a demon.)

This is the kernel at the heart of Benedict's idea that true religion is first rational, and that irrationality is the enemy of everything good, of a peaceful and orderly civilisation. A thing that contradicts itself is an inherently anti-rational thing, and a society that embraces this irrationality will collapse in chaos. And this outcome is absolutely inescapable. Just as a bridge must be built according to accurate mathematics or it will come crashing down into the river, a society built on anything but accurate philosophy will tear itself apart.

The Real always wins.


Thursday, May 02, 2013

Painting lemons

Had a bit of a rough time with the last Bozetti class. For some reason, maybe just leaving it too long without working since last December, I just couldn't get back into the knack of it. I almost dropped out of Jordan Sokol's class because I thought I was jumping the gun. You know, sort of biting off more than I could chew by starting with portraiture, the hardest thing.

But I've rallied. I bought some paint and a gessoed board and am gonna practice at home.

Paint some lemons. Maybe a bottle.

See how that goes.


Jordan Sokol

One of my classes this month is with this guy. He's normally at the Florence Academy, but is in Rome this month teaching portraiture to us as a one-off thing.

It's going to be very hard. He's one of the best in the world.

Thanks again to those who donated.


Are they gone?


I looked at the site stats a couple of days ago, and saw the numbers had dropped back down to a civilised 465-500 a day.

Don't you hate it when you throw a party and a whole bunch of awful, rude strangers show up?

Now, who were we talking about?


It's Girl Band Thursday!

The other Bangles song.


Hey gay people! you're being used

By an agenda not your own. One that, historically, hasn't had a lot of time for your rights... or anyone else's.

One of my conversations with the stem cell researchers I spoke to at a recent conference told me that the findings of the science of human embryology is "irrelevant" because it contraindicated what they were already determined to do. I noted it at the time as an example of the ability of humans to decide ahead of time what is and is not true depending on what they want.

"The state of California now bans therapies that seek to reorient homosexuals towards heterosexual behavior, on the grounds that doing so is psychologically damaging. The more likely objection is that the therapies challenge the conception that there are only two sexual orientations, 'homosexual' and 'heterosexual,' and that they are of absolutely unwavering constancy. This conception is false. In fact, the gay-rights movement itself used to stress the polymorphousness of human sexuality, back when the movement was focused more on liberation."

And it's not about rights, either the rights of gay people to get "married" (according to the new definition) or about the rights of religious people to "freedom of worship".

It's about the state increasing its power.

"The central problem with the gay marriage agenda is not that at some point in the future an unwilling man of the cloth might be strongarmed into giving his blessing to a gay union, but rather that it allows the state to do something that was traditionally considered beyond its purview

Some have sought to depict the drive for gay marriage as a continuation of the struggle for civil rights that exploded in the mid-twentieth century; it’s better understood as a continuation, and intensification, of the modern state’s desire to get a foot in the door of our private lives and to assume sovereignty over our relationships."

More here, here, and here.