Charlie's Blog: January 2016

1.30.2016

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 1


Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.
ANONYMOUS

1. THE RETURN OF RTOVS

On the old blog, I would do a weekly commentary on events of the week and whatever other things crossed my mind at the time. I stopped writing it with the new blog wanting to be more serious and focused. But then I realized something. Nobody reads this blog. So, I can write for me, and I always enjoyed writing the RTOVS each week. So, it returns.

2. ART BELL

Art Bell flames out again. Apparently, doing a second show after he aborted Dark Matter on Sirius was more trouble than it was worth. I suspect that Art is a quitter. He quit C2C. He quit Sirius. Now, he quits himself. My advice to Art Bell is to stay quit. I think the guy enjoys doing a show until it becomes work. Then, laziness kicks in, and he is out. Bell is one of the most talented hosts I know, but the work ethic of George Noory trumps the talent of Art Bell. Noory shows up for work. Bell does not.

3. TRUMP

I did not watch the GOP debate on Fox that Trump decided to shun because he can't take a grilling from Megyn Kelly. I also didn't watch his alternative event. But I do think his feud with Fox tells us a great deal about the man. When the going gets tough, the tough takes his toys to another sandbox. I'm not sure how that is going to work if he ever becomes the commander-in-chief.

4. HILLARY

It amazes me that this woman has yet to be indicted. The FBI has virtually declared they have the goods on her, and the court of public opinion already has her convicted on the email scandal. If I had to guess the motives, they are waiting for the last minute to torpedo her making it hard for someone like Joe Biden to jump in and make a run. The funny thing is that I think Clinton would still keep running from a jail cell. There is one thing I have to admire about Hillary Clinton. That woman is not a quitter. I am not sure I can say the same about Donald Trump.

5. MARKETS

The air continues to leak out of the Fed created stock market bubble since the rate hike in December. As long as the Fed keeps tightening, the stock market will eventually touch reality which is that the American economy is in the toilet. This is because the US consumer is broke. Between low wages and maxed out credit cards, Americans can't buy anymore crap. This has devastated the Chinese because they are the ones who produce the crap. So, their markets are tanking, and production has shut down. This means less need for energy which has caused an evaporation of the demand for oil. This has driven down the price for a tank of gas at the pump here in America. This is the world returning to normal. The Federal Reserve cannot tolerate normal, so they will almost certainly cut their hike and maybe go negative with another round of QE to "stimulate" the economy. Basically, they want you to keep spending money you don't have. The rate hike was a tap on the brakes before we sail over the edge of the cliff.

6. PEAK iPHONE

iPhone sales are flat. Samsung is reporting similar numbers with its smartphones. What gives? I predicted a long time ago that smartphones were a long term fad. If you doubt this, look at how tablet sales have cratered. AT&T has decided to try unlimited data once again. Verizon has capitulated and offers a non-fragile smartphone. The reality is that these phones are very expensive to buy and use, and they don't last very long as drops and OS upgrades make them useless. Their primary virtue seems to be the ability to watch YouTube videos while standing in line at the grocery store. Granted 2/3rds of the market now uses smartphones, but a third like me still cling to cheap and durable dumbphones. It is disco vs rock, and we all know that disco died despite its white hot popularity.

7. DALEIDEN

So, some pro-lifers told some lies to expose the truth about Planned Parenthood being a seller of fetal baby parts for cold hard cash. A grand jury in Texas refused to indict PP for its evil, but they did choose to indict the pro-lifers for those fibs. Now, I despise Planned Parenthood, and I also think these indictments are politically motivated. But we need to address an important point that pro-lifers seem to be missing. The end does not justify the means. As much as I want abortion to stop in America, I don't believe we should resort to evil to bring about that good. In the case of Daleiden and Co., we see where lying gets you. Yes, the truth was exposed. The problem is that people don't care. This is because they already know that abortion is murder. That murder is legal, so the law is on the side of the murderers. It is not on the side of liars.

We are not allowed to do evil that good may result from it. This is known as consequentialism. Christians are not consequentialists. When Planned Parenthood called out the lying, they were right. Being murderers does not negate their right to the truth. This will be a hard thing for some people to accept, but there it is. I pray that Daleiden gets off light. I also pray for an end to abortion.

8. PROFESSIONAL CATHOLICS

A relatively new and popular Catholic website did its pitch for donations, and that pitch fell on deaf ears. Now, I write, so I know what writing costs which is nothing but time. Consequently, the only payment I expect for the time spent writing is time spent reading what I have written. But should writing be my job? If it was, I would starve. The simple fact is that writing has never been a very lucrative profession unless your last name is King or Rowling. This brings us to the issue of the professional Catholic.

The Catholic Church receives service from prelates, priests, deacons, and religious. The vast majority of these people derive their living from the donations of the faithful. Almost all of them are celibates, so they have no families to support. In addition, many of them have taken vows of poverty, so they own no property beyond their personal items. Finally, they all work doing many hours of service. Aside from the scandalous and the disobedient, these people are virtual slaves for the faith. And if you think this is impressive, consider the Opus Dei numerary who works a day job for pay and turns over the check to the Work, lives a life of celibacy, and performs apostolate on top of it all. I do not know of anyone with a greater devotion than these numeraries. They follow the example of St. Paul who ministered as well as making tents to not be a burden on his fellow faithful.

What am I saying here? If you are a layperson without a day job writing blog posts about the Catholic Church, you might want to reconsider whether people should pony up cash to keep you and your family fed while you produce your content. Get a job.

1.24.2016

Houses of the Holy


From the houses of the holy, we can watch the white doves go 
From the door comes Satan's daughter, and it only goes to show. You know.
LED ZEPPELIN, Houses of the Holy

One of the worst album covers of all time has to be for Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy. Anything having to do with photos of naked children gives me the creeps and makes my flesh crawl. I am not a huge fan of Led Zeppelin, but my use of their song titles as blog post titles may portray that I am. The simple fact is that Led Zeppelin was a band of hedonistic excess during their days of glory back in the seventies and became the epitome of rock and roll debauchery. Yet, tales of drug abuse and statutory rape pale in comparison to the stories of Jimmy Page's fascination with the occult going so far as to buy the former home of Aleister Crowley, a man of hedonistic and satanic proclivities.

Crowley has been described as the most evil man that ever lived. I do not know if the stories about the man are true or just embellished PR from the man himself. Either way, he seemed to revel in being thought of as some sort of monster. What is not in doubt is that the man was a practitioner of black magic. Even if the rest of his life was that of a saint, that bit of fact is enough to make him a monster in my book.


I can understand people's fascination with the occult. When you are a Christian, life is filled with wonder and awe. When you become an atheist, the wonder and awe is reduced to flat boring materialism. This is why so many atheists become fascinated by astronomy because the stars are the only awe inspiring thing in the materialist world. There is a fine line between astronomy and astrology, and believers in the occult cross that line. The occult allows people who don't believe in God to regain the awe and wonder of the supernatural once more. In the process, they become enslaved to demonic forces.

I used to belong to a group of atheists that met on the regular, and I liked it fine until they started accepting Wiccans into the group. The thing I could not understand was why a group dedicated to science and rationality would be accepting of that superstitious lot. I left the group over it, but I get it now. The Wiccans and the atheists were playing for the same team in much the same way that secularists can't bring themselves to condemn Islam though they can manage to persecute and denigrate the Roman Catholic Church at every opportunity. They all serve Satan. They all oppose Jesus Christ.

This is one of those rambling essays, so I will now move to a regular topic which is my addiction to Twitter. I went for over a week without it, and it freed up some time and space in my brain. But I realize that Twitter is an extension of my writing life. If I didn't write, I wouldn't need Twitter. Twitter allows me to share things while also dipping my hands to drink from the river of information that is always flowing. I think my problem is a generational problem. For instance, I feel no compulsion to read every book in the library or even the ones on the shelf at home. They are always there waiting for me to get to them. As for light reading, I used to devour newspapers and magazines, but I came up for air because those outlets were limited in length. The internet occupies a space between the book shelf and the newspaper.

Millennials have few problems with information overload because they see the internet like the library. It will be there waiting for them. Generation Xers like myself are like those people who survived the Great Depression and save every scrap of food. We remember a time when information was scarce, so we wish to hoard and consume it. We feel the need to put it in our brains while Generation Y treats the internet as an extension of their brains. Maybe I should be more like Generation Y in this regard.

This brings me to the topiv of writing as I become more ambivalent about pouring more water into the river of information. It's like a man who draws water from a well and walks it down to the Mississippi to pour it in. This is what blogging is about. Blogging is a lot like voting. You can spend a lot of time learning about candidates and researching the issues and all that. But when you pull the lever, it will only count as much as the vote of the guy in the next booth who spent no time reading anything about his preferred candidate. You might both be voting for the same guy. Similarly, blogging in a serious way occupies the same space devoted to people ranting about their commute on the subway or the Fart Blog. Serious blogging is like painting and hanging the Mona Lisa in the men's room.

The simple fact is that a one man blog is drowned in the ocean of information. Outlets like the Huffington Post, Patheos, and others rely upon a stable of bloggers to generate traffic. The key is volume. If you post a lot of content, you end with a lot of readers usually coming in through Google. SEO or search engine optimization has become a big thing, but the only thing you need to do to take advantage of it is write blog post titles that are identical to the suggested search terms Google uses.


On the old blog, I did this a few times, and it worked. Basically, if you want a successful blog, use SEO techniques and appeal to people's vices. This is why my old blog had more traffic than the current one. This is because people don't want to read about Catholicism, conservatism, and economics.

Another technique for driving traffic to a blog is to court controversy. Write the most ourageous things and do combat with readers. Pick fights and then keep hammering away at it. I also did this on the old blog. People are always giving me advice for growing my readership, but they don't know as much as I know. It's like when I tell people that I could become a millionaire in a very short period of time. The thing that holds me back is morality. This is the same thing that holds me back as a blogger.


I know how to be successful. If you want to be successful in life, become Gene Simmons. This guy was the epitome of my mentality in the atheist/libertarian days. You can see the same traits in guys like Ted Nugent, durianrider, and Donald Trump. These guys are examples of Nietzsche's √úbermensch or Superman. Some philosophically minded types may take me to task over this and tell me that I don't get Nietzsche. Does anyone get Nietzsche? All I know is that these guys are dipped from the same bucket of crap. Basically, you reject God and become your own god-man complete with your own values, obnoxiousness, etc. Gene Simmons captured it perfectly in his own life being both arrogant, egotistical, obnoxious, adulterous, and a teetotaller. That last part is important because that is something that Trump, Nugent, durianrider, and their ilk all have in common. They don't touch alcohol. This is part of that Nietzschean self-mastery. Unfortunately, that self-mastery doesn't seem to apply to womanizing as they all have a fondness for the ladies.

I was with those guys. That was me. I was a cartoon character like Simmons. All philosophies proffer their ideas of the perfect man whether it was the sage of the Stoics or Aristotle's Great Souled Man. These were heroes though largely fictional. Heroes offer us models for how to live. The problem is that we don't know what a hero should be. For the Christian, the hero is Jesus Christ. The goal is sainthood. And the stories of saints both ancient and modern show us that these people are not mere products of fiction or myth.

The goal of life is to become a saint. Sainthood is the fullest life possible. I think Camus recognized this in The Plague when he asked if it was possible for an atheist to become a saint. It may be possible in the fictional world of a novel, but it never happens in the real world. You have to believe in God to become a saint. You can only become a saint with God's help.

For me, I wanted to be Gene Simmons. I know that sounds stupid, and I have to laugh at it now not because it can't be done but because it can. Anyone can become a clown. My ambition is to become like Jesus Christ, and that is probably more laughable than wanting to be Gene Simmons. This is because such an ambition seems impossible. But all things are possible with God.

1.17.2016

No Quarter


Close the door, put out the light. 
You know they won't be home tonight.
LED ZEPPELIN, No Quarter

The Muslim horde descends upon Europe, and they will show no mercy despite the mercy shown to them. They have no quarter. They have taken to sexually harassing and raping the women. If such a thing were to happen here, I would not hesitate to arm myself and kill every one of these perverted monsters. The answer to some problems is extreme violence.

People enamored with mercy don't want to hear such things, but they forget how Jesus cleansed the temple. Likewise, once the Holy Land was set aside for the Israelites, they were commanded to cleanse it. Once forsaken, the Babylonian, Greek, and Roman hordes were allowed in to defile it. Nothing can defile God. But His presence or absence with us depends upon how hallowed or desecrated we allow ourselves to become. The temple that Jesus cleansed would be demolished later in God's providence.

I have no problem with pacifism. I don't think priests or religious should take up arms and fight. I don't think it is a job for women. But I do believe the world needs knights, and knights kill people. And there are people who need killing. ISIS qualifies as well as Muslim rapists. Europe needs to cleanse itself of this disease. It should begin by repenting of secularism and socialism, and it should end with the forcible expulsion of Muslims from the continent. Mosques should be demolished. Islam should be outlawed.

People may decry my extremity on these things as bigotry and Islamophobia. What I propose is what is practiced in Saudi Arabia, and I hear nothing said about that country where converting to Christianity or opening a church is a death sentence. The simple fact is that these Muslims know what they are about while the West has lost its way.


This is a rambling essay, so I won't turn it into a diatribe about Islam and Western decline. The simple fact is that the USA and Europe have been in moral and spiritual decline for my entire life. I can honestly say that this country had more moral fiber during the Reagan years than today. Now, the Republican Party seeks desperately for another Reagan and facing the faux Reagan of Donald Trump. It reminds me of the Old Testament story of how the Israelites brought the Ark of the Covenant out for some war and got their asses handed to them. They presumed upon God expecting His aid despite their lack of holiness. Similarly, Trump promises to make America great again, yet he offers no clue as to what made America great in the first place. This is a man on his third trophy wife and thinks his book on dealmaking deserves to be number two after the Bible. Of the two books, I think he has only read the one he wrote.

I don't like any of the GOP candidates. Rick Santorum interests me a bit, but he is still really bad. Basically, he was the senator from Pennsylvania that didn't live in Pennsylvania. He had a brief bit of excitement in 2012 but was vaporized by Romney who would immediately draw more support than Santorum if he ran again. You have Rubio who is one bimbo eruption away from oblivion according this source. I think this will happen the moment he wins a poll. This is what took out Herman Cain.

On the Democrat side, you have Bernie Sanders and a woman who seems destined to go to jail. The thing both parties have in common is that the voters despise the status quo. Plus, 20% of Democrats would vote for Trump. As it stands, Donald Trump is the next President of the United States. The only thing I can say about this is that he isn't Obama or Hillary. He also has the good sense to recognize the threat of radical Islam. Beyond that, I don't see how he will be an improvement. He will be taking the wheel at the moment the car is sailing over the edge of the cliff.


This brings us to economics as the air seeps out of the hole in the bubble the Fed made when it hiked rates last month. They have papered over a recession, and it is now visible. Their solution will be to paper it over again with zero interest rates, negative interest rates, quantitative easing, and creative fudging of the data. I want to see hope in the bubble collapse, but I think it will be a sucker punch. Only the Austrians get it, and none of them work at the Federal Reserve. The currency has to collapse before sanity prevails. Buy your gold. I am not kidding on this.

I have been off of Twitter for a week now. It has not been pleasant as I am always struck with the urge to tweet something I just read or to lose myself scrolling through the endless feed of tweets. When I beat this addiction, I will never do social media again. There is no trick to beating an addiction or a habit. You suffer until the suffering ceases. If you fail, you get up and try again. Ultimately, the only good habit you need in life is persistence. Persistence eliminates all of the bad habits and establishes the good ones. The other word for persistence is perseverance. It all ties in with fortitude.

I find that people don't want pleasure so much as life free from pain and discomfort. I don't think such a life is possible or even desirable. I am no masochist. I do not enjoy pain. But a life without pain horrifies me. It has taken me a lifetime of suffering to come to this point, but I find that to be a complete failure in life you must first be made comfortable. I think this is why Europe is facing its Muslim invasion. They became comfortable.

When you embrace suffering, the burden of that suffering immediately becomes lighter. I find that it is not the thing so much as what we think about the thing that makes it so bad. Once you accept suffering as inevitable and essential, you just chin up and learn to endure. Pain changes you. I think this is why God allows it. Nothing happens to us that is not for our ultimate good.

1.16.2016

Low Information Diet


There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON

There is a scene in The Razor's Edge where Bill Murray is on a very cold mountainside with his many books. He is shivering and freezing in front of a small fire when the fire burns out. In an epiphany, Murray starts burning his books, and this acts brings enlightenment to him. I think about this scene often when I contemplate going on a low information diet.

Tim Ferriss deserves the most credit for popularizing the concept of a low information diet. Basically, you decide to stop following the news and other streams of information that add little to nothing to your life. I have written about this topic before in various posts, and the reason I struggle with it is because I am an information addict. This is the curse of the internet, and I am grateful that I do not own a smartphone to exacerbate the problem. The smartphone is the technological hip flask for today's information junkie.


Despite my continuous struggle with this problem, I do have one success in the battle. I am someone who was deeply involved with Facebook, and I quit that thing. To this day, I am proud of that accomplishment. I can honestly say that my life got better as a consequence of getting off of that infernal platform. Now, I am trying to quit Twitter. If Facebook is heroin, Twitter is cocaine. It's not as addictive, but it is still problematic.

The reason social media is so addictive is because it is an endless supply of very interesting but useless information. Social media sucks time and focus into a vortex of gossip and cat pictures. Twitter is more respectable than Facebook because journalists use it so much. But both platforms provide very little information that you need to know.

I am a big fan of edited aggregators. For instance, the Drudge Report is an edited aggregator. Instapundit is another one. Basically, these people read the news and filter out what they consider most relevant and important. My personal favorite is Google News. Sites like these actually save you time instead of wasting it. I spend about 10 to 15 minutes with Google News in the evening, and I am done with the news.

Social media acts as a filter and editor, but it does it in a different way. A site like Google News merely separates the kernel from the husk. Facebook and Twitter take those kernels and ferment them into hard liquor which is distilled into a purer and more addictive form. That is the key. Filtering and distillation are not the same things. Filtering removes the extraneous. Distillation also removes the extraneous but concentrates the interesting into greater and more potent quantities. All addiction comes from this concentration of substances. The coca leaf is a mild stimulant on par with espresso, but cocaine extracted from the coca leaf is one of the most addictive drugs on the planet.

I am someone who used to like drinking whiskey, but I found myself developing some alcoholic tendencies. My response was to become a teetotaller which works but means missing out on alcohol's favorable attributes such as relaxation and sociability. What I know is that I can drink beer in moderation but not whiskey. Likewise, I am fine with the internet when it is just email, Google News, and Feedly. But Twitter is my information Jim Beam. So, I am attempting to quit Twitter AGAIN.


I think I will be successful this time because I always learn something from previous failures. It took me a few tries to quit Facebook. But I have learned something about information in the process which is to see that information is not egalitarian. You really are better off not knowing some things. There are benefits to adhering to a low information diet.

What I have noticed about being free of a smartphone and Facebook is that most of the people around me are divorced from reality. It's like the story of the guy running on a beach with his headphones who never heard the plane that crash landed on him killing him. The pilot could not fathom why the guy just didn't run a few feet to the left or right. That guy totally missed the most vital information he needed in his life which was the approach of that plane. Likewise, stories now abound of people crashing their crashes or walking in front of buses because of their absorption in their smartphones. Distracted driving has now overtaken drunk driving as a leading cause of traffic accidents and fatalities.

The reason drugs and alcohol have such bad reputations is because of their ability to divorce us from reality. How are social media and smartphones any different? At least the drunk at the bar can have a conversation with you. The smartphone zombie cannot. I have already had social occasions ruined by smartphone addicts who can't put the devices down. Dinner with friends and family is now a waste of time.


Being free from this endless distraction is like a breath of fresh air. The thing you have to get over is the nagging feeling that you are missing something important. Just remember one thing. The really important stuff gets known whether you like it or not. I stopped following sports years ago, but I know that Alabama just won the championship. I will now promptly forget it. You just have to get used to being deliberately ignorant of some things. Some things aren't worth knowing.

I am going to win this battle. It is worth fighting. There is more to life than a screen.

1.12.2016

Jeremiad


Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a disgrace to any people.
PROVERBS 14:34 NASB

This is an email I received from a friend, and I found it too good not to share. It has my complete endorsement.--C.

Charlie, I can't say this to too many other people I know; but I can say it to you. Because you will understand. You have the [Catholic] faith and the intelligence to understand.

Isaiah Chapter 10. The God of Abraham [God] "uses" the evil intentions of 'the Assyrian' to punish the Jews, to punish His Chosen People, Israel. Not to destroy them, but unequivocally to punish them. There is no other legitimate interpretation of the text.

And why are they punished by God? Very simple [and repeated a thousand times in the Torah]: because of their sinfulness, because they have failed to 'keep the Covenant' they had made with God, failed to keep the Commandments.

In our modern "kumbaya" Catholic culture, which exclusively speaks of God as "Loving" and "Merciful", with never a word about His Justice or His Judgment or Hell, to say what I am about to say is anathema. I understand that. But it is the truth nonetheless.

Angela Merkel [and Barack Obama and the legions of "multi-cultural/politically correct" antichrists who "lead" the world today] are a scourge sent by God on the world to...punish us for our sinfulness. Romans 13: "...all legitimate authority is from God...". Popular aphorism: "a people gets the leaders it deserves". Etc. The patent sinfulness of our [modern] generation is too well-documented to bear repeating here. Suffice it to say that we live in very evil times indeed. And God sends us "the leaders we deserve". Saul, anyone?

And, of course, Merkel and Obama, et. al, are merely the key which opens the door to God's wrath. We "deserve" them because we are SO saturated with sin and SO very distant from God and SO opposed to Him in our pride and sensuality and self-sufficiency. But they are merely the key to the door of God's wrath. This wrath is what we are...BEGINNING...to see today in the Middle East, Asia, North Africa, and Europe. The civil strife and extreme suffering about to come upon Europe will be carried out by Arabs, by Muslims, by godless pagans intent only on satisfying their bloodlust for non-Muslims and their lust 'tout court'. But they are merely instruments in the hand of God Himself.

If you throw a stick at a dumb animal, for example a dog, what does the dumb animal do? It bites the stick. But we, as presumably rational creatures, and certainly we as Christians, must be able see more than that. The stick didn't throw itself at the dog. Likewise, these Muslim/Arab/North African 'descendants of Cain' and 'children of Ham' are merely following their natural lusts, for ejaculation and for blood. And so they rape and they kill.

But they are merely 'the stick'. Isaiah 10 (and numerous other OT passages) make abundantly clear that God EXPECTS us to keep His Commandments. They are COMMANDMENTS after all, and not just "suggestions". And if/when we FAIL to keep His Commandments, He WILL punish us, in an attempt to bring us BACK to Him, through repentance brought about by suffering.

'Deus ex machina': if we don't want Muslims (and/or homosexuals and/or every other deviant Antichrist culture) to overrun us and subjugate us and rape our wives and daughters and horrendously persecute and kill us, then we need to...be HOLY. There is NO OTHER solution.

STOP masturbating. Stop committing adultery. Stop sodomizing. Stop 'Usurizing'. Stop aborting. Stop contracepting. Stop killing. ETC, ETC, ETC.

START "putting on sackcloth and ashes". Start praying constantly. Start being pure of heart and chaste. Start refraining from judging and condemning our brothers in the faith. Start serving others. Start kneeling in humble prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Start making truly sincere confessions. Start doing penance for our sins. Start, start, start.

My point? Chesterton was right. The "problem with the world today" is...ME. I was watching tonight another video of a highly indignant Brit [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUPuMs3E_k0] going on and on about how "the Muslims" were so evil and cause SO much suffering and SO many problems in Europe today. Which (preaching to the choir, right?) is all QUITE TRUE. But then I stepped back and connected the dots. Sure, the Muslims are indeed miserable creatures with a thousand miserable characteristics (vessels of clay, ignoble use, right?). The Brit is 100% right in his assessment of the surface level reality of what is going on. "That damn stick is hard and it hit me right square in the face and it hurt me a lot". Gotcha.

But the Muslims are merely THE STICK. If we were [as a people] a holy people, fearing the Lord and walking steadfastly in His Commandments, these horrible wretches would never get within a thousand miles of us. Because the Lord Himself would "be our refuge". And He would have NO NEED to send 'the Assyrian' to punish us for our sinfulness and infidelity before Him.

This thought has been ruminating in the back (and front) of my mind for some time now. But it truly is right in scripture: keep the Commandments, fear the Lord, and walk uprightly before Him, and He will take care of 'everything else'. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His justice and all these things will be given to you besides". So simple! Not easy. But simple.

Anyway. That is my assessment of the world at this moment in time. Thank you for listening to an old drunken Irishman. Your comments are always warmly welcomed.

1.09.2016

Dazed and Confused


To be everywhere is to be nowhere.
SENECA

I've been writing more lately. Part of this comes from adhering more to a writing schedule. The other part is that I have gone back to writing for myself. I have found in my readings about the habits of many writers is that they wrote the same way other people went into a job. They punched the clock and got down to work. This approach works. As for writing for myself, I had to accept the fact that no one reads this blog. I spent a lot of time trying to write for my audience, so I would craft hard and edit ruthlessly. This cut down on my frequency of posting, but I think it upped the quality. BUT NO ONE READS THIS STUFF.

It doesn't bother me that people don't read the blog except when I have gone out of my way to make it more readable. It's like cooking a meal that no one is going to eat. Why waste all that food? When no one eats what you cook, why cook? But you can't quit cooking because at least one person needs to eat, and that would be you. I will cook for me at least. By the same token, I am going to write for me now. Writing is not my profession, but it is my hobby. As long as I like doing it, I will keep doing it. If others read it and like it, that's nice, too. But I don't care. I write for me now.

Yesterday, I heard someone complain about their smartphone. This person had cracked the screen on her phone, so she went and got it fixed for $200. The same day she got it back, she cracked the screen again. My ancient but indestructible flip phone which I have had for years now cost the same as her repair. I am utterly convinced that the smartphone is the most poorly designed electronic device ever created. Any device that is that fragile should be tossed in favor of an older but more durable piece of equipment.

I abandoned this post a few days ago because I simply ran out of time to "finish" it. I never actually finish one of these stream of consciousness essays. I just abandon it at a lengthier point. I come back to it now because I have time and caffeine in my system. A lot has happened inside of that gap.

The financial apocalypse has resumed. Basically, Yellen and Co. have put a pin to their bubble, and the air is slowly leaking out. It would collapse completely except for circuit breakers and manipulation and expectations that the Fed will rescind its action. My personal belief is that the Fed will rescind the rate hike at its next meeting. But those payroll numbers indicate a strengthening economy. Blah blah blah. I don't know the future. I just know common sense, and common sense says that you can't create wealth with a printing press. This must end badly or else we are living on the homeworld of Bizarro Superman where up is down, left is right, and good is evil.


Everyone is coming to me now to tell them what is going on as they watch their retirement accounts tank. BUY GOLD. That's all I can tell people. I believe in capitalism, but I must qualify that by saying that not all capitalism is the same. The current flavor of capitalism is a debt fueled kleptocracy.

It's time for a second cup of coffee.

One of the things I have learned in life is that you can't wait for things to be optimal or perfectly planned before doing something. Sometimes, you have to jump out of the airplane before you have your parachute strapped on. My job has taught me that lesson because I have never had a perfect day at work. Disasters happen regardless of your preparation.

These rambling blog posts are an example of what I am talking about. You just start and see where it takes you. I am always amazed at where I end at. I would never claim that this is my best writing, but I do believe it is my best thinking. It captures the storm that is always swirling in my brain.

I have so many things that I want to do in 2016. I won't be going to the gym, but I definitely want to make some progress in becoming a saint. Sainthood is the goal and purpose of life. The only real failure in life is to not become a saint.

1.03.2016

VIDEO--Uncommon Grace: The Life of Flannery O'Connor


What has given the South her identity are those beliefs and qualities which she has absorbed from the Scriptures and from her own history of defeat and violation: a distrust of the abstract, a sense of human dependence on the grace of God, and a knowledge that evil is not simply a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be endured.
FLANNERY O'CONNOR

Anyone who knows me for any length of time will tell you of my literary love affair with Flannery O'Connor. My first encounter with O'Connor was in my senior year of high school when I read "Good Country People." It made a deep impression on me at the time as a Protestant evangelical. I would go on to read everything O'Connor wrote in the realm of fiction and take a class devoted to her work while attending the University of South Carolina. Flannery's mix of Catholicism and Southern sensibilities took a deep hold of me, and I never forgot her even when I became a Calvinist and an atheist. As a Catholic, I have returned to O'Connor and now understand the woman who has mystified me for decades. When a friend recommended this video, I ordered it immediately. It did not disappoint.

Uncommon Grace fills in the details of this Catholic Southern writer, and I discovered things I had not known about O'Connor. Her life was tragic and heroic because of her genius, her faith, and also her suffering and untimely death from the ravages of lupus, the disease that took her father's life. I was not aware that Flannery had aspirations of being a successful writer living in New York, and lupus took this from her. But her Catholic faith allowed her to accept this disappointment as she went to live with her mother on the Andalusia farm in Milledgeville, Georgia. This turn of events may have been a calamity, but I suspect that it was for the greater good as it made O'Connor into the finest writer of short stories that I have ever known. I suspect New York and success would have ruined her as a writer.

O'Connor only lived to be 39, and her entire opus can be read in a month. But those stories cover a great deal of spiritual and intellectual territory. I find O'Connor to be a soulmate because I am a Southerner, a Catholic, and retain a deep suspicion and antipathy for abstract theories and the Enlightenment. Modern life has done much to alleviate many problems, but the problem of evil is not one of them. To be Catholic and Southern is to have a darker view of the world but one that is ultimately realistic and hopeful. Humanity may be fallen, but it can and will be redeemed. We just can't save ourselves. This is the crucial knowledge many of O'Connor's characters discover in her stories.

I highly recommend this video for any fan of Flannery O'Connor. It will deepen your appreciation for this remarkable woman and her uncompromising literary vision. May she rest in the peace and love of God.


1.02.2016

Batman Versus Superman


Don't talk like one of them. You're not! Even if you'd like to be. To them, you're just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.
THE JOKER

A movie is coming out featuring a battle between Batman and Superman, but I don't care to see it. I suspect that it will be really bad. This post has nothing to do with that movie. It has to do with politics.

Batman and Superman are two of the most beloved superheroes in comic book history. The reason for this is because they are archetypes like Apollo and Prometheus. They have been rendered both campy and serious depending upon the creative direction of the artist or director. I will deal with them in their serious depictions.

Superman is the first great superhero. He is essentially the character that made the superhero. The problem with Superman is that he was and remains just a little too super. The guy can fly and do just about anything. He is virtually immortal which he makes him very boring. So, Batman comes along. Batman is totally not Superman. He has no superpowers at all except being rich. He is simply a man who makes the most of his limited resources. Naturally, Batman is fascinating where Superman is boring. Batman is a human being. Batman is real.

The reason people have always wanted to pit these two heroes against each other is because they are an argument between the ideal and the real. Superman is the ideal man. He has extreme power and a Boy Scout personality that borders on naivete. Batman is relatively weak and dark. The man has suffered in life. Batman has touched reality, and reality has made him what he is. This is important because both represent the two main philosophies warring for political control in America today.

Superman represents the progressives and the liberals. Basically, extreme power should rest in the hands of the supremely benevolent. It is OK that Superman is a virtual god among mere mortals because we can count on his goodness and good intentions. As for the bad guys in Superman, they are merely misdirected and cartoonish. What makes them bad are their bad intentions. The chief rival of Superman is Lex Luthor. Basically, Luthor is a mere mortal who is a genius rich guy with bad intentions. It doesn't take much to see that Luthor is virtually the same guy as Batman.

Lex Luthor, Republican

Lex Luthor is a conservative. He is described in Wikipedia this way:

The character is a power-mad American billionaire, business magnate, gifted scientist, inventor, philanthropist to the city of Metropolis, and one of the most intelligent people in the world. A charismatic and well-known public figure, he is intent on ridding the world of alien superhero Superman, who Lex Luthor views as an obstacle to his megalomaniacal plans and as a threat to the very existence of humanity.

Basically, Lex Luthor is a Republican. His values clash with Superman, so this makes him a bad guy. Yet, Bruce Wayne is also a billionaire and all the rest. Why is Batman a good guy where Lex is a bad guy? It really comes down to context. Batman would be a supervillain in Metropolis.

Batman is a conservative. This is why he seems so dark. In the world of Superman, people are basically good, and they just need serving and defending from a swell guy like Superman. Metropolis is an inviting and friendly city where everybody is just swell. This comes from the progressive idea that humanity is basically good. If there is bad, it comes from bad ideas and simple errors. This usually means being a conservative.

Always sunny and bright in Metropolis.

Gotham City is a dark place. This is because humanity is dark and fundamentally evil. This is how conservatives view the world. Conservatives believe in original sin. Gotham is awash in crime and corruption and is always on the edge of collapse.

The sun does not shine in Gotham.
This dark world is where Batman finds himself. He is a dark hero much like the dark world he inhabits. Yet, Batman does not turn his back on this world. It is not Heaven or Utopia, but it isn't Hell either. It is doubtful that Gotham could ever be Metropolis, but it can be redeemed. This is where Batman comes in.

The key difference between progressives and conservatives is their relationship with reality. Progressives do not live in the real world. They live in a fantasy world. The world is a dark place. This is because humanity is a dark race living after the Fall. Batman knows this. Batman's job is not building Utopia but preventing chaos and hell. This also explains Batman's archenemy--the Joker.

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

The Joker is chaos and nihilism. Life is an absurdity and a joke, so the Joker represents this absurdity in his persona. He is beyond the mere criminal. The Joker revels in chaos for its own sake. His worldview is dark like Batman's except for one key difference. The Joker does not believe in a redeemable humanity. Humanity is sick like him. Any virtue on the part of people is an illusion. If Superman denies original sin, the Joker denies the imago Dei.

Batman is the ultimate hero because he deals with the world as it is. But he remains above it. He is a vigilante but in a very limited sense. Batman does the job that the police either can't do or won't do. But Batman refrains from killing. As much as possible, he works with the police, and Batman is content to let them put the cuffs on the bad guy. The system may be flawed, but Batman supports it anyway. That system is what keeps it all from falling into chaos.

It doesn't take much to see Batman as a Burkean/Kirkian conservative. Superman is a child of the Enlightenment with its unreality. Batman is fundamentally a Christian. This brings us to a question. Which is the better hero?

Batman wins the battle for one simple reason--REALITY. Ask yourself a question. Which city represents the world better--Metropolis or Gotham? The fact is that no city in America comes close to being Metropolis. But Chicago and Detroit are definitely Gotham City. You don't have to imagine Gotham City because it already exists.

Superman could never save Gotham City because he would have to destroy it utterly. He could never turn Gotham into Metropolis because Metropolis requires basically good and decent people. This is why progressives end up killing a lot of people and destroying law and order when they get into power. Part of it is naivete about human nature which allows guys like the Joker to run unchecked, and the other part is futility. Batman succeeds because he aims lower. He accepts that the world is rotten but not beyond hope. Batman just needs to preserve law and order and keep the chaos at bay. Batman acts as preservative by not being naive, by using his limited means to the best possible effect, and refraining from becoming the thing he fights.

Other comics and heroes represent other worldviews and strategies. Comic books have had a long history of dealing with political themes and ideas. This makes sense when you consider that good vs. evil is in the ethical realm, and politics is an extension of ethics. Spider-Man is essentially a libertarian. Spidey has some superpowers, but they don't amount to much. He is a kid, and he basically does good more for his own sake than for some greater good. Iron Man is a neoconservative because he loves weapons and gadgets, works in the military-industrial complex, and has a more positive view of things than Batman. Captain America is a bit like Superman, but he is more nostalgic than utopian. He represents the good ol' days that never really existed. Then, there is the man who occupies virtually the same world as Batman but responds to it very differently--the Punisher.


The Punisher answers a question that many people have asked about Batman. Why doesn't Batman just load up some guns and kill off the bad guys? Why doesn't he put a Glock to the Joker's skull and blow his brains out? The Punisher is Batman without Batman's primary "weaknesses" which are morality and restraint. Basically, the Punisher preaches that evil is overcome with greater evil.

Is the Punisher's strategy the correct strategy? Of course not. Would crime vanish if the cops shredded the Constitution? Would war end if we nuked all of our foreign enemies? The Punisher is really no different than the Joker. Where does the Punisher come from? The answer to that is obvious. The Punisher is Superman pushed into the real world of Gotham and made a real human being. Lacking the power to make Utopia, he jettisons the only weakness he can rid from himself which is moral restraint. You may laugh at this, but how do you explain the hope and change progressive Barack Obama using all the abuses of the federal government to push his agenda? The implication behind the Punisher's strategy of lawless vigilantism is that the good will emerge when the bad are eliminated. This would be the bloody purge of the French Revolution or the mass murders of the communists. The problem with that approach is that you end up killing everyone because all human nature is corrupt. The superhero just becomes a supervillain just like the Joker.

Batman is the ultimate hero. He acknowledges the fallen nature of human beings but does not believe humanity is beyond redemption. He restrains evil in the world and also in himself. And his efforts are not to build a utopian society than can never be but make the most of what is here. If anything better comes along, that will have to come from God. This dark view of things may be depressing, yet people enjoy Batman. Batman is a comfort. He gives hope that good can triumph even if the battle is unending and not always fair. The irony is that his weakness makes Batman more heroic than Superman. The ultimate superpower is not superstrength, heat vision, or an arsenal of guns. The ultimate superpower is to be virtuous and good in a world of evil. This is the essence of conservatism.

1.01.2016

New Year's Day Reflections


For the good which I will, I do not; but the evil which I will not, that I do.
ROMANS 7:19 DOUAY-RHEIMS

2015 is gone, and 2016 has come. What to make of it? I suppose reflection is needed. I will begin with the year that was--2015.

I don't consider 2015 a good year. I can't point to anything particularly good or awesome about this year on a personal basis. I haven't made significant progress in any of my projects. The only thing I learned new in 2015 was that Islam was a religion of evil, but I had already suspected that before. Beyond that, my life has been a version of Groundhog Day. I can also say that the only change you can count on is a change for the worse.

There is one significant thing I did do this year, and this was to re-embrace the conservatism of my twenties. My thirties were a decade of libertarianism because this is what Christians do when they become atheists. They become revolutionary utopians and embrace whatever philosophy allows them a more libertine lifestyle. I feel ashamed of this time in my life and things that I have done, but it did have one supreme benefit. It rescued me from Protestantism.

My present conservatism is different from my former conservatism because of being informed by the true faith of Catholicism. Russell Kirk was a convert to Catholicism like myself, but he was a conservative before he was a Catholic. The two things are really not in conflict, but I think conservatism is firmer with Catholic Christianity as a cornerstone as opposed to Protestantism. Consequently, my conservatism is best described as traditional conservatism or "paleoconservatism."

Does religion matter to political philosophy? I think it does. I will ignore the Left completely as I always have, but this is how the Right breaks down. You have the libertarians who are largely atheist. You have the neoconservatives who are largely Protestant and Jewish. Then, you have the paleoconservatives like Pat Buchanan who are Catholic. Now, you will find Catholic neocons and Christian libertarians, but their politics are simply in opposition to their worldviews producing cognitive dissonance. A potent example would be Ron Paul who is thoroughly libertarian until the subject of abortion comes up. Then, his religion comes into conflict with his ideology.

You have the temporal realm, and you have the spiritual realm. With matters of the spirit, I am Roman Catholic. With matters of the temporal, I am paleoconservative. I don't see how you can be Catholic and also be a Marxist, a libertarian, a progressive, or a neoconservative. If you took the Catholic perspective on temporal matters and turned it into a political philosophy, it would look virtually identical to paleoconservatism. The best example of paleoconservatism is Pat Buchanan who is also a traditionalist Latin Mass Roman Catholic. I love Pat Buchanan.


The problem with conservatism as a movement today comes from the fusionism practiced by guys like Buckley and Kirk that formed coalitions of Straussians, libertarians, and the like into a coalition that basically opposed communism. That coalition is now splintering to pieces as you can see in the mass confusion and lack of leadership that is the Republican party today. The GOP is having an identity crisis, and nothing typifies this more than the campaign of Donald Trump, a guy who is not really a conservative.

True conservatism is fundamentally Christian. It is not ideological which is why you don't see purges in conservative ranks like you see among libertarians. For instance, a neocon who is pro-life can find common cause with a Catholic paleocon. The problem is when that neocon brings his other garbage ideas with him. And this is where it gets interesting. A paleoconservative will tolerate a neoconservative, but the neoconservative will not tolerate the paleoconservative. Neocons always purge. To the extent that they have succeeded in this purging, the Republican party now is fundamentally indistinct from the Democrat Party. The only thing that keeps Obama from being a neocon is his tepid support of Israel.

In 2015, my thinking has progressed and evolved as I have learned more about Catholicism and practiced it. Catholicism is not merely a religion but a "complete worldview" as Belloc put it. The Catholicism/distributism/paleocon thing is a package deal. As a corollary to this package, my thinking is also progressing in terms of strategy. I distinguish philosophy from strategy. For instance, let's say two people oppose abortion. The first person wants to end it by lobbying Congress, electing pro-life leaders, and shifting the Supreme Court with new appointments that would reverse Roe v. Wade. The other person thinks this strategy is futile and focuses more on women's pregnancy centers and changing the culture in a bottom up approach. Of the two strategies, I am shifting more towards the latter approach. I will write more on this in future blog posts, but I think the institutional strategy is doomed to failure. The cultural strategy is the better way.

This brings us to resolutions and my Bible quote above. If I can tell you the key difference between being Protestant and being Catholic, it is this. I could not change as a Protestant. Being Protestant was very frustrating because I wanted to achieve sanctification but failed. The reason for this is because Protestants are cut off from the sacraments which are the channels of God's grace. This is why there are no Protestant saints. A Protestant is virtually identical to those Old Testament faithful trying to keep the law in their own power.

As a Catholic, I am able to change. This is the power of the confessional and the eucharist. Grace really does work. I am not perfect and will remain this way until the day I die. But I no longer struggle with sins that bedeviled me in my younger days. I think one of the reasons I am able to stick with a vegan diet is because I am no longer a glutton. I ate crap food and lots of it to try and fill my empty soul. God's grace has moved me beyond that.

People make resolutions at the beginning of a New Year, and they are usually doomed to failure. I don't think you can be good without God. You might make some amends and habit changes, but you cannot become a saint without God's grace.