Charlie's Blog: May 2018

5.28.2018

Memorial Day Reflections 2018


James, earn this... earn it.
CAPTAIN MILLER, Saving Private Ryan

An American soldier was called up to duty to fight in Iraq. While he was there, his wife took up with another man and carried on an affair that was so flagrant that the man's children started to refer to the paramour as "Daddy." The soldier encountered an IED in Iraq, and he was killed in the explosion. Was his sacrifice worth it?

This story is not entirely true. I have simply put it together from the countless stories I have heard over the last decade from vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Stories like this are what beget cynicism. I believe this cynicism is what cost this country victory in the Vietnam War. Why would anyone volunteer, fight, and die for a country full of cheating spouses and immoral, cowardly, and lazy bums?

When men and women die in war, they are making the ultimate sacrifice. You can't ask anymore of someone than to lay down their lives for you. But how should we respect their sacrifice?

I love the scene in Saving Private Ryan when Ryan is confronted by the sacrifice that Capt. Miller and his men made to save him. Ryan had lost all his brothers, and these men had died to save him and return him to his mother. Ryan was someone willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, yet he was spared. Those men literally took his place. They died for him. All Miller asked of him was one thing. Earn this. Earn it.

For those of us who live and enjoy the liberty these sacrifices bought for us, we are tasked with the same thing. We need to earn this. This means living in a way that honors the sacrifice these men and women made. Unfortunately, most citizens of the United States are not earning this. We are a country of millionaire athletes who kneel during the anthem. Others can't even be bothered to vote. As for Memorial Day, it's just a picnic day like Labor Day and the Fourth of July.

I love America. I love liberty and the Constitution. I love not being under the heel of the boot of Nazism, Japanese imperialism, and Soviet communism. I love our service members who put on the uniform and serve this country with distinction. I remember those who gave all.

If you want to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, earn it. Live in a way that pays honor to the fallen. Love your country. Love your family. Love God and your fellow Americans. Be moral, good, righteous, and true. And remember. Always remember. Wherever they may be, live in a way that puts a smile on their faces. They deserve this.

5.27.2018

In Praise of the New Knighthood by St. Bernard of Clairvaux


Chivalry is not just a fancy word with a neat meaning; it's a way of life.
VAUGHN RIPLEY

In Praise of the New Knighthood (Liber ad milites Templi: De laude novae militae)
St. Bernard of Clairvaux trans. Conrad Greenia

Editors' note: The following passage is taken from a treatise written in the early 12th century by the
Cistercian abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, on behalf of the fledgling Knights Templar. It might be viewed as a combination of exhortation to the Knights, and advertisement to the population in general. Officially it is an answer to a letter written to Bernard by his friend Hugh de Payens, one of the founders of the Templars.

Prologue

TO HUGH, KNIGHT OF CHRIST AND MASTER OF CHRIST'S MILITIA: BERNARD, IN NAME ONLY, ABBOT OF CLAIRVAUS, WISHES THAT HE MIGHT FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT

IF I AM NOT MISTAKEN, MY DEAR HUGH, you have asked me not once or twice, but three times to write a few words of exhortation for you and your comrades. You say that if I am not
permitted to wield the lance, at least I might direct my pen against the tyrannical foe, and that this moral, rather than material support of mine will be of no small help to you. I have put you off now for quite some time, not that I disdain your request, but rather lest I be blamed for taking it lightly and hastily. I feared I might botch a task which could be better done by a more qualified hand, and which would perhaps remain, because of me, just as necessary and all the more difficult.

Having waited thus for quite some time to no purpose, I have now done what I could, lest my inability should be mistaken for unwillingness. It is for the reader to judge the result. If some perhaps find my work unsatisfactory or short of the mark, I shall be nonetheless content, since I have not failed to give you my best.


CHAPTER ONE
A WORD OF EXHORTATION FOR THE KNIGHTS OF THE TEMPLE

IT SEEMS THAT A NEW KNIGHTHOOD has recently appeared on the earth, and precisely in that part of it which the Orient from on high visited in the flesh. As he then troubled the princes of darkness in the strength of his mighty hand, so there he now wipes out their followers, the children of disbelief, scattering them by the hands of his mighty ones. Even now he brings about the redemption of his people raising up again a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.

This is, I say, a new kind of knighthood and one unknown to the ages gone by. It ceaselessly wages a twofold war both against flesh and blood and against a spiritual army of evil in the heavens. When someone strongly resists a foe in the flesh, relying solely on the strength of the flesh, I would hardly remark it, since this is common enough. And when war is waged by spiritual strength against vices or demons, this, too, is nothing remarkable, praiseworthy as it is, for the world is full of monks. But when the one sees a man powerfully girding himself with both swords and nobly marking his belt, who would not consider it worthy of all wonder, the more so since it has been hitherto unknown? He is truly a fearless knight and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armor of faith just as his body is protected by armor of steel. He is thus doubly armed and need fear neither demons nor men. Not that he fears death- -no, he desires it. Why should he fear to live or fear to die when for him to live is Christ, and to die is gain? Gladly and faithfully he stands for Christ, but he would prefer to be dissolved and to be with Christ, by far the better thing.

Go forth confidently then, you knights, and repel the foes of the cross of Christ with a stalwart heart. Know that neither death nor life can separate you from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ, and in every peril repeat, "Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's." What a glory to return in victory from such a battle! How blessed to die there as a martyr! Rejoice, brave athlete, if you live and conquer in the Lord; but glory and exult even more if you die and join your Lord. Life indeed is a fruitful thing and victory is glorious, but a holy death is more important than either. If they are blessed who die in the Lord, how much more are they who die for the Lord!

2. To be sure, precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his holy ones, whether they die in battle or in bed, but death in battle is more precious as it is the more glorious. How secure is life when the conscience is unsullied! How secure, I say, is life when death is anticipated without fear; or rather when it is desired with feeling and embraced with reverence! How holy and secure this knighthood and how entirely free of the double risk run by those men who fight not for Christ! Whenever you go forth, O worldly warrior, you must fear lest the bodily death of your foe should mean your own spiritual death, or lest perhaps your body and soul together should be slain by him.

Indeed, danger or victory for a Christian depends on the dispositions of his heart and not on the fortunes of war. If he fights for a good reason, the issue of his fight can never be evil; and likewise the results can never be considered good if the reason were evil and the intentions perverse. If you happen to be killed while you are seeking only to kill another, you die a murderer. If you succeed, and by your will to overcome and to conquer you perchance kill a man, you live a murderer. Now it will not do to be a murderer, living or dead, victorious or vanquished. What an unhappy victory--to have conquered a man while yielding to vice, and to indulge in an empty glory at his fall when wrath and pride have gotten the better of you!

But what of those who kill neither in the heat of revenge nor in the swelling of pride, but simply in order to save themselves? Even this sort of victory I would not call good, since bodily death is really a lesser evil than spiritual death. The soul need not die when the body does. No, it is the soul which sins that shall die.


CHAPTER TWO
ON WORLDLY KNIGHTHOOD

WHAT, THEN IS THE END OR FRUIT of this worldly knighthood, or rather knavery, as I should call it? What if not the mortal sin of the victor and the eternal death of the vanquished? Well then, let me borrow a word from the Apostle and exhort him who plows, to plow in hope, and him who threshes, to do so in view of some fruit.

What then, O knights, is this monstrous error and what this unbearable urge which bids you fight with such pomp and labor, and all to no purpose except death and sin? You cover your horses with silk, and plume your armor with I know not what sort of rags; you paint your shields and your saddles; you adorn your bits and spurs with gold and silver and precious stones, and then in all this glory you rush to your ruin with fearful wrath and fearless folly. Are these the trappings of a warrior or are they not rather the trinkets of a woman? Do you think the swords of your foes will be turned back by your gold, spare your jewels or be unable to pierce your silks?

As you yourselves have often certainly experienced, a warrior especially needs these three things--he must guard his person with strength, shrewdness and care; he must be free in his movements, and he must be quick to draw his sword. Then why do you blind yourselves with effeminate locks and trip yourselves up with long and full tunics, burying your tender, delicate hands in big cumbersome sleeves? Above all, there is that terrible insecurity of conscience, in spite of all your armor, since you have dared to undertake such a dangerous business on such slight and frivolous grounds. What else is the cause of wars and the root of disputes among you, except unreasonable flashes of anger, the thirst for empty glory, or the hankering after some earthly possessions? It certainly is not safe to kill or to be killed for such causes as these.


CHAPTER THREE
ON THE NEW KNIGHTHOOD

BUT THE KNIGHTS OF CHRIST may safely fight the battles of their Lord, fearing neither sin if they smite the enemy, nor danger at their own death; since to inflict death or to die for Christ is no sin, but rather, an abundant claim to glory. In the first case one gains for Christ, and in the second one gains Christ himself. The Lord freely accepts the death of the foe who has offended him, and yet more freely gives himself for the consolation of his fallen knight.

The knight of Christ, I say, may strike with confidence and die yet more confidently, for he serves Christ when he strikes, and serves himself when he falls. Neither does he bear the sword in vain, for he is God's minister, for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of the good. If he kills an evildoer, he is not a mankiller, but, if I may so put it, a killer of evil. He is evidently the avenger of Christ towards evildoers and he is rightly considered a defender of Christians. Should he be killed himself, we know that he has not perished, but has come safely into port. When he inflicts death it is to Christ's profit, and when he suffers death, it is for his own gain. The Christian glories in the death of the pagan, because Christ is glorified; while the death of the Christian gives occasion for the King to show his liberality in the rewarding of his knight. In the one case the just shall rejoice when he sees justice done, and in the other man shall say, truly there is a reward for the just; truly it is God who judges the earth.

I do not mean to say that the pagans are to be slaughtered when there is any other way to prevent them from harassing and persecuting the faithful, but only that it now seems better to destroy them than that the rod of sinners be lifted over the lot of the just, and the righteous perhaps put forth their hands unto iniquity.

5. What then? If it is never permissible for a Christian to strike with the sword, why did the Savior's precursor bid the soldiers to be content with their pay, and not rather forbid them to follow this calling? But if it is permitted to all those so destined by God, as is indeed the case provided they have not embraced a higher calling, to whom, I ask, may it be allowed more rightly than to those whose hands and hearts hold for us Sion, the city of our strength?

Thus when the transgressors of divine law have been expelled, the righteous nation that keeps the truth may enter in security. Certainly it is proper that the nations who love war should be scattered, that those who trouble us should be cut off, and that all the workers of iniquity should be dispersed from the city of the Lord. They busy themselves to carry away the incalculable riches placed in Jerusalem by the Christian peoples, to profane the holy things and to possess the sanctuary of God as their heritage. Let both swords of the faithful fall upon the necks of the foe, in order to destroy every high thing exalting itself against the knowledge of God, which is the Christian faith, lest the Gentiles should then say, "Where is their God?"

6. Once they have been cast out, he shall return to his heritage and to his house, which aroused his anger in the Gospel, "Behold," he said, "your house is left to you desolate." He had complained through the Prophet: "I have left my house, I have forsaken my heritage," and he will fulfill that other prophecy: "The Lord has ransomed his people and delivered them. They shall come and exult on Mount Sion, and rejoice in the good things of the Lord."

Rejoice Jerusalem, and recognize now the time in which you are visited! Be glad and give praise together, wastes of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people. He has ransomed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm in the sight of all peoples. O virgin of Israel, you were fallen and there was none to raise you up. Arise now and shake off the dust, O virgin, captive daughter of Sion. Arise, I say, and stand on high. See the happiness which comes to you from your God. You will no longer be referred to as the forsaken one, nor your land any more termed a wilderness; for the Lord takes his delight in you, and your land shall be peopled. Raise your eyes, look about you and see; all these are gathered together and come to you. Here is the help sent to you from the Holy One! Through them is already fulfilled the ancient promise, "I will make you the pride of the ages, a joy from generation to generation. You will suck the milk of the nations and be nourished at the breasts of their sovereignty." And again, "As a mother consoles her children, so will I console you, and in Jerusalem you will be comforted."

Do you not see how frequently these ancient witnesses foreshadowed the new knighthood? Truly, as we have heard, so we have now seen in the city of the Lord of armies. Of course we must not let these literal fulfillments blind us to the spiritual meaning of the texts, for we must live in eternal hope in spite of such temporal realizations of prophetic utterances. Otherwise the tangible would supplant the intangible, material poverty would threaten spiritual wealth and present possessions would forestall future fulfillment. Furthermore, the temporal glory of the earthly city does not eclipse the glory of its heavenly counterpart, but rather prepares for it, at least so long as we remember that the one is the figure of the other, and that it is the heavenly one which is our mother.


CHAPTER FOUR
ON THE LIFE STYLE OF THE KNIGHTS OF THE TEMPLE

AND NOW AS A MODEL, or at least for the shame of those knights of ours who are fighting for the devil rather than for God, we will briefly set forth the life and virtues of these cavaliers of Christ. Let us see how they conduct themselves at home as well as in battle, how they appear in public, and in what way the knight of God differs from the knight of the world.

In the first place, discipline is in no way lacking and obedience is never despised. As Scripture testifies, the undisciplined son shall perish and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, to refuse obedience is like the crime of idolatry. Therefore they come and go at the bidding of their superior. They wear what he gives them, and do not presume to wear or to eat anything from another source. Thus they shun every excess in clothing and food and content themselves with what is necessary. They live as brothers in joyful and sober company, without wives or children. So that their evangelical perfection will lack nothing, they dwell united in one family with no personal property whatever, careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. You may say that the whole multitude has but one heart and one soul to the point that nobody follows his own will, but rather seeks to follow the commander.

They never sit in idleness or wander about aimlessly, but on the rare occasions when they are not on duty, they are always careful to earn their bread by repairing their worn armor and torn clothing, or simply by setting things to order. For the rest, they are guided by the common needs and by the orders of their master.

There is no distinction of persons among them, and deference is shown to merit rather than to noble blood. They rival one another in mutual consideration, and they carry one another's burdens, thus fulfilling the law of Christ. No inappropriate word, idle deed, unrestrained laugh, not even the slightest whisper or murmur is left uncorrected once it has been detected. They foreswear dice and chess, and abhor the chase; they take no delight in the ridiculous cruelty of falconry, as is the custom. As for jesters, magicians, bards, troubadours and jousters, they despise and reject them as so many vanities and unsound deceptions. Their hair is worn short, in conformity with the Apostle's saying, that it is shameful for a man to cultivate flowing locks. Indeed, they seldom wash and never set their hair--content to appear tousled and dusty, bearing the marks of the sun and of their armor.

8. When the battle is at hand, they arm themselves interiorly with faith and exteriorly with steel rather than decorate themselves with gold, since their business is to strike fear in the enemy rather than to incite his cupidity. They seek out horses which are strong and swift, rather than those which are brilliant and well-plumed, they set their minds on fighting to win rather than on parading for show. They think not of glory and seek to be formidable rather than flamboyant. At the same time, they are not quarrelsome, rash, or unduly hasty, but soberly, prudently and providently drawn up into orderly ranks, as we read of the fathers. Indeed, the true Israelite is a man of peace, even when he goes forth to battle.

Once he finds himself in the thick of battle, this knight sets aside his previous gentleness, as if to say, "Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord; am I not disgusted with your enemies?" These men at once fall violently upon the foe, regarding them as so many sheep. No matter how outnumbered they are, they never regard these as fierce barbarians or as awe-inspiring hordes. Nor do they presume on their own strength, but trust in the Lord of armies to grant them the victory. They are mindful of the words of Maccabees, "It is simple enough for a multitude to be vanquished by a handful. It makes no difference to the God of heaven whether he grants deliverance by the hands of few or many; for victory in war is not dependent on a big army, and bravery is the gift of heaven." On numerous occasions they had seen one man pursue a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight.

Thus in a wonderous and unique manner they appear gentler than lambs, yet fiercer than lions. I do not know if it would be more appropriate to refer to them as monks or as soldiers, unless perhaps it would be better to recognize them as being both. Indeed they lack neither monastic meekness nor military might. What can we say of this, except that this has been done by the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes. These are the picked troops of God, whom he has recruited from the ends of the earth; the valiant men of Israel chosen to guard well and faithfully that tomb which is the bed of the true Solomon, each man sword in hand, and superbly trained to war.


CHAPTER FIVE
THE TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM

THEIR QUARTERS indeed are in the very temple of Jerusalem, which is not as vast as the ancient masterpiece of Solomon, but is no less glorious. Truly all the magnificence of the first temple lay in perishable gold and silver, in polished stones and precious woods; whereas all the beauty and gracious charming adornment of its present counterpart is the religious fervor of its occupants and by their well-disciplined behavior. In the former, one could contemplate all sorts of beautiful colors, while in the latter one is able to venerate all sorts of virtues and good works. Indeed holiness is the fitting ornament for God's house. One is able to delight there in splendid merits rather than in shining marble, and to be captivated by pure hearts rather than by gilded paneling.

Of course the facade of this temple is adorned, but with weapons rather than with jewels, and in place of the ancient golden crowns, its walls are hung round about with shields. In place of candlesticks, censers and ewers, this house is well furnished with saddles, bits and lances. By all these signs our knights clearly show that they are animated by the same zeal for the house of God which of old passionately inflamed their leader himself when he armed his most holy hands, not indeed with a sword, but with a whip. Having fashioned this from some lengths of cord, he entered the temple and ejected the merchants, scattered the coins of the money changers, and overturned the chairs of the pigeon venders, considering it most unfitting to defile this house of prayer by such traffic.

Moved therefore by their King's example, his devoted soldiers consider that it is even more shameful and infinitely more intolerable for a holy place to be polluted by pagans than to be crowded with merchants. Once they have installed themselves in this holy house with their horses and their weapons, cleansed it and the other holy places of every un-Christian stain, and cast out the tyrannical horde, they occupy themselves day and night in both pious exercises and practical work. They are especially careful to honor the temple of God with zealous and sincere reverence, offering by their devout service, not the flesh of animals according to the ancient rites, but true peace offerings of brotherly love, devoted obedience and voluntary poverty.

10. These events at Jerusalem have shaken the world. The islands hearken, and the people from afar give ear. They swarm forth from East and West, as a flood stream bringing glory to the nations and a rushing river gladdening the city of God. What could be more profitable and pleasant to behold than seeing such a multitude coming to reinforce the few? What, if not the twofold joy of seeing the conversion of these former impious rogues, sacrilegious thieves, murderers, perjurers and adulterers? A twofold joy and a twofold benefit, since their countrymen are as glad to be rid of them as their new comrades are to receive them. Both sides have profited from this exchange, since the latter are strengthened and the former are now left in peace. Thus Egypt rejoices in their conversion and departure while Mount Sion rejoices and the daughters of Juda are glad to acquire these new protectors. The former glory in being delivered from their hands, while the latter have every reason to expect deliverance by means of these same hands. The former gladly see their cruel despoilers depart, while the latter gladly welcome their faithful defenders; so that the one is agreeably heartened, while the other is profitably abandoned.

This is the revenge which Christ contrives against his enemies, to triumph powerfully and gloriously over them by their own means. Indeed, it is both a happy and fitting thing that those who have so long fought against him should at last fight for him. Thus he recruits his soldiers among his foes, just as he once turned Saul the persecutor into Paul the preacher. Therefore I am not surprised that, as our Savior himself has affirmed, the court of heaven takes more joy in the conversion of one sinner than in the virtues of many just men who have no need of conversion. Certainly the conversion of so many sinners and evil doers will now do as much good as their former misdeeds did harm.

11. Hail then, holy city, sanctified by the Most High for his own tabernacle in order that such a generation might be saved in and through you! Hail, city of the great King, source of so many joyous and unheard-of marvels! Hail mistress of nations and queen of provinces, heritage of patriarchs, mother of apostles and prophets, source of the faith and glory of the Christian people! If God has permitted you to be so often besieged, it has only been to furnish brave men an occasion for valor and immortality.

Hail promised land, source of milk and honey for your ancient inhabitants, now become the source of healing grace and vital sustenance for the whole earth! Yes, I say, you are that good and excellent soil which received into its fruitful depths the heavenly seed from the heart of the eternal Father. What a rich harvest of martyrs you have produced from that heavenly seed! Your fertile soil has not failed to furnish splendid examples of every Christian virtue for the whole earth--some bearing fruit thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundredfold. Therefore those who have seen you are most happily filled with the great abundance of your sweetness and are well nourished on your munificent bounty. Everywhere they go they publish the fame of your great goodness and relate the splendors of your glory to those who have never seen it, proclaiming the marvels accomplished in you even to the ends of the earth.

Indeed, glorious things are told of you, city of God! Now then we will set forth something of the delights in which you abound, for the praise and glory of your name.

Copyright (C) 1996, Bernard of Clairvaux, In Praise of the New Knighthood, prologue-chapter five,
translated by Conrad Greenia ocso, from Bernard of Clairvaux: Treatises Three, Cistercian Fathers Series, Number Nineteen, © Cistercian Publications, 1977, pages 127-145 (without notes). All rights reserved.

This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.


Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 64


I've been accused of vulgarity. I say that's bullsh*t.
MEL BROOKS


Ann Barnhardt can be dismissed as a crazy person. But if you choose to not go down the ad hominem path and listen to what she says, it will trouble you because her arguments are forceful and persuasive. In this case, she makes a compelling argument that Benedict is still the pope while Francis is an antipope. It is worth your time to read and consider her argument.

The one thing that she has convinced me on is that there can be no such thing as a "Pope Emeritus." Ratzinger has blundered mightily in this regard. Had he donned a simple black cassock and gone back to Germany to retire, this would not be a debate. But the man did not do this. In addition, people give Benedict a deference as if he is still the pope. Even Francis does this. The fact is that Pope Benedict XVI could issue a single sentence and turn the Catholic world upside down. It's as if Francis serves at the silence of his predecessor.

So, is Francis an antipope? Barnhardt certainly thinks so. For me, I think it is above my pay grade. But I absolutely agree with her that there is no such thing as a bifurcated papacy. Pope Benedict XVI erred when he thought such a thing was possible. This leaves the question of the validity of his resignation. Does a half-ass resignation count? This is the part of the Barnhardt Thesis that I find weak. She says it doesn't count.

If you were to ask Ratzinger who is the pope, he would most certainly point to Francis. The man might be mistaken about his current role, but I don't think he was mistaken in the expectation that another man would take his place once he vacated it. Ratzinger believed and intended to relinquish the papacy.

Ratzinger's obvious objective with the emeritus scheme was to establish an option for future pontiffs to relinquish the office while retaining some of the dignity of their former position. This is done for priests, bishops, and cardinals. Should it be done for popes? After watching the pitiful decline of Pope St. John Paul II from Parkinson's disease, Ratzinger clearly thought something should be changed to allow a pontiff to retire.

Assuming Ann Barnhardt is totally correct in her thesis, it doesn't change anything because it is above her pay grade as well. This mess will have to be sorted out by a future pontiff and/or council. But I would not be surprised at all if Francis turned out to be an antipope. He is certainly a disaster.

2. COBRA KAI

The 80s are being strip mined for material for new movies and television shows. One of these artifacts being revisited is the Karate Kid saga and the Cobra Kai series on YouTube Red. I haven't watched any of the episodes as I prefer to not pay for television. But you can get the entire plot on Wikipedia. I've watched the trailers and read what some critics had to say. It is an interesting series.

It is easy to see that Johnny Lawrence and the Cobra Kai dojo/creed is basically the alt-right today. In the original movie, Johnny and the Cobras were just cartoonish bad guys. In the new series, Johnny is portrayed in a sympathetic light. In a world of pansies, it is refreshing to see a display of manliness even if it is the warped and merciless manliness of the Cobra Kai dojo.


You would think that the defeat of the Cobra Kai dojo in the original movie would have spelled the end of the Cobra Kai philosophy. These guys were essentially karate Nazis replacing virtue with raw aggression. This is to be contrasted with the Daniel/Miyagi way of virtue, character, and balance.

Whether intentional or not, the Cobra Kai series reflects the cultural tensions we see today. SBPDL picked up on this and argues that the Cobra Kai were actually the good guys. And that, Gentle Reader, is a problem. There is a big difference between a knight and a barbarian. Unfortunately, we live in a time where people have forgotten this.

3. FREEMIUM

I understand that it takes money to produce and host content on the internet. But I grew up watching television and listening to the radio for free long before there was the internet. The only thing you subscribed to in the old days were newspapers, magazines, and HBO. The internet slaughtered the old media with an unbeatable advantage. It was free. Granted, you had to pay to get online either through dial up services or cable providers. But you had all that free content once you paid that initial toll. Now, they want to charge you again for content.

High traffic websites find it easy to pay the bills. They offer advertising. The Drudge Report has no problem making money. Of course, Drudge doesn't actually produce content but selects content others have produced. Naturally, he likes to puts links to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and other outlets that have paywalls. Some paywalls are harder than others. I think Drudge's days are numbered. Those paywalls will make his deeplinking an exercise in frustration.

Most outlets today are going with the model known as "freemium." Basically, they offer some content for free to bait you then try and sell you premium content. YouTube does this with its Red service. The New York Times and other outlets give you so many free articles per month.

Does the freemium model work? The New York Times currently has 2.33 million digital subscribers. That is roughly the same number of subscribers that Alex Jones has on his YouTube channel alone. Jones pays for his operation with a store offering his own products. Basically, you can watch and listen to Infowars and Alex Jones for free. You have to pay for the Times. I think the Alex Jones model is way better.

People are willing to pay for media, but they have higher expectations when they shell out cash. I think Alex Jones makes awesome money from his venture while the NYT struggles. Everything I read about the Times says it is not doing so great. Most of its revenue comes from readers now and not advertisers.

My issues with freemium are personal. I don't want to pay for this information, and I am not going to pay for it. I'll pay for products on Amazon, but I am never going to pay to watch cat videos on YouTube. I certainly wouldn't pay to read a blog and that includes my own. The simple fact is that the internet is finally rectifying its economics, and it looks almost identical to the old media. Netflix is HBO. Alex Jones is the new Rush Limbaugh. And all of the word based websites want to make money off both readers and advertisers just like the newspapers and magazines. What was the point of having the internet?

4. ABORTION IN IRELAND

The people of Ireland have voted to legalize abortion in their country. Meanwhile, Pope Francis has said and done very little to prevent this calamity. This is a sad time for Ireland and for the Roman Catholic Church.

The first thing that needs to be addressed is Francis. I just find it staggering that our bishop in white has said and done so little in regard to this referendum. Remember, this is a guy who has railed about migrants and took Trump to task over immigration and building walls instead of bridges. Yet, when it comes to the unborn, this guy caters to the left wing. This is a disgrace.

The second thing is that the people of Ireland who have voted for this evil can safely be considered to be in a state of mortal sin. It is unlikely that any of them will confess this sin and repent of it considering for themselves that this wrong is actually right. Since their repentance is unlikely, they will certainly die in this state of mortal sin and damn their souls for eternity. Unlike the USA where abortion was legalized by a handful of Supreme Court justices, the Irish people own this. This is on them. God have mercy on their souls.

The third thing is that this is a major blow for the pro-life cause. When a majority Catholic country that already outlaws abortion votes to legalize it, what reasonable hope do we have that we can get it outlawed anywhere else? In the USA, Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for virtually my entire life. What have all of our prayers and political action amounted to?

The reality is that abortion exists in this dark world because it is a dark world indeed. The rock band U2 came out in favor of abortion which shocked many of their Christian fans who were under the delusion that the members of U2 were actually Christians. The reality is that they are hypocrites and have damned themselves along with the majority of Ireland. And the moral light from the Vatican is nowhere to be seen.

5. ODDS AND ENDS

--If you're going to make a Han Solo movie, you need to hire someone who can actually play the part of Han Solo.

--The NFL finally decided it wants to make money again by clamping down on anthem kneelers. Meanwhile, many Americans have discovered they have better things to do with their lives than watch spoiled athletes disgrace our nation.

--Leftists need to be reminded that Obama never had North Korea begging for peace talks. Trump can't mess this up because he made it happen where others didn't.

--I wonder if Morgan Freeman will be sharing a cell with Bill Cosby.

--God does not make people gay. Unfortunately, Pope Francis thinks He does.

--MS-13 gang members are human beings, but they behave like animals. They are evil. Yet, people are worried that these rapists and murderers might be offended by some truthful remarks. Somehow, Trump is more evil than these animals. The mind boggles.

6. LINKS OF INTEREST







5.20.2018

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 63


When people go through something rough in life, they say, "I'm taking it one day at a time." Yes, so is everybody. Because that's how time works.
HANNIBAL BURESS

1. DC TRIP

I spent last weekend visiting family in the DC area. There are a few things I can say about the trip. The first is that I noticed not a single car accident despite travelling through four states in heavy traffic. Yet, I thought I would get killed when I got back to SC. People in South Carolina cannot drive. It was not always this way, but it has become this way. Why is this? In those other states, I saw a lot of highway patrol on the interstate. I did not see this in the SC. We have a trooper shortage here because the state doesn't pay well. Because of this, the highways here are becoming lawless.


The lasr time I made the DC trip, I noticed a lot of Trump signs and stickers when everyone was saying that Hillary was going to win. This time I noticed the urban graffiti which had turned very political against Trump. The bottom line is that the Urban Slime Class that makes DC a cesspool of crime hates Trump with a real passion. The guy must be doing a good job. You can always tell a man by his enemies.

The third thing I noticed in the Archdiocese of Washington is the heavy presence of Cultural Catholicism. There are a lot of Catholic churches in the DC/Maryland area, but the Catholics there are faithful in name only. The result is a lot of churches that are mostly empty. We attended a special first communion service for the kids, and it was obvious that the parents did not know the words of the Mass as they did not participate. They just wanted their kids to get their sacraments while they slept in on Sunday. I am working on a post about this insipidness, but it has a long history.

Overall, it was not a pleasant trip for me, and I did not expect it to be one. City life does not appeal to me. I just want my house in the country.

2. ROYAL WEDDING

If invited, I still could not have attended the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. This is because this is the second marriage for Ms. Markle, and her first husband is still very much alive. No real Catholic can celebrate a joining in adultery even if the adulterers are Protestant/atheist types. The only way I could make an exception would be if her first husband had been married before and divorced. I have read no information on this. But I don't ever expect to be invited to a royal wedding.

I tell people that I will gladly attend a wedding if it is their first marriage to someone who is also never married or widowed. Basically, I can't celebrate people's adultery. The reason it matters is because marriage has been reduced to a mockery with the farce known as gay marriage. But Christians can't complain when they have celebrated all of the heterosexual farces leading up to this.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now living in open adultery. I wish them the best which would mean their repentance. But I don't expect this marriage to go well. At least they diversified the royal gene pool to overcome the inbreeding.


3. Q & A

Q: Would you go to a wedding on the beach?

A: Catholics are supposed to get married in a Catholic Church. Most people are not Catholics and marriage is not reserved to Roman Catholics. It is a matter of the natural law, so if two atheists want to marry on some beach or mountain as the sun rises, I can attend this as long as they are heterosexual and entering their first marriage. As for lapsed Catholics, I consider them atheists. Perhaps they were baptized as children but this makes them no different than the children of Presbyterians who baptize their children.

All Catholics are required to have valid marriages. This means a traditional marriage between opposite sex members who are unmarried, and the wedding is done in a Catholic church by a priest. Catholics who marry outside of the Church have invalid marriages. But I can still attend these invalid marriages. Here is a helpful article on the subject.

4. QUOTABLE QUOTES (THOMAS A KEMPIS EDITION)


FROM THE IMITATION OF CHRIST:

Grant me prudently to avoid him that flatters me, and to endure patiently him that contradicts me.

Never be entirely idle; but either be reading, or writing, or praying, or meditating, or endeavoring something for the public good.

If you desire to know or learn anything to your advantage, then take delight in being unknown and unregarded. A true understanding and humble estimate of oneself is the highest and most valuable of all lessons. To take no account of oneself, but always to think well and highly of others is the highest wisdom and perfection.


Fight like a man. Habit is overcome by habit.


The Lord bestows his blessings there, where he finds the vessels empty.

5. ODDS AND ENDS

--Another school shooting. Same arguments as last time. The only real solution is good guys with guns.

--I support the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem. I am not a Zionist, but I do think Israel has the right to exist. I also think the enemies of Israel are total bad guys.

--Before it is all done, the US is going to end up beating the crap out of North Korea. This is because the communist regime in North Korea has to end. Peace talks are a desperate attempt by the regime to remain alive, but it is cynical. I expect to see Kim Jong Un's fat bloated body strung up Mussolini style by his own people.

--The mass resignation of the bishops in Chile is a good thing, and it should happen in other countries as well especially the United States. Time to clean house.

--Mueller needs to pinch it off. The Democrats should forget the last election and focus on the next election. The reality is starting to set in for them that Hillary actually lost. Meanwhile, Trump has been working hard to MAGA.

--I support Catherine Templeton over Henry McMaster for governor of SC. As always, I vote for whoever wins the Republican primary. McMaster is a decent fellow, but I like Templeton's fire. She probably won't win.

--John McCain is a disgrace. In death, he will have managed to top himself in the disgrace department. I don't see this man dying in a state of grace.

6. LINKS OF INTEREST

Jordan Peterson’s Right That You Should Become Dangerous, And Here’s How

British Hero Sentenced To Prison For Outsmarting Traffic Cameras

John McCain Has No Class

5.05.2018

SOC 33


What was Bruce Lee like? How did you meet? What was it like to choreograph the fight scene in Rome with him? Did you spend much time together off-screen? Those are a small sampling of the inquiries I'm asked often, wherever I go around the world. 
CHUCK NORRIS

I have gout. This fact of life has become the genesis of a great deal of thought and reflection on the nature of pain and pleasure, asceticism and comfort, and deprivation and luxury. When life gives you pain, you should see it for what it is. Pain is a lesson. You learn from pain. It may be as simple as learning to not put your hand on a hot stove. Or, it may be something more deeply philosophical as you contemplate the nature of existence. Regardless, when pain hits you, you should endeavor to learn its lessons. Here are the lessons my pain has taught me.


Gout is a form of arthritis. It occurs when the body converts purines into uric acid. When this uric acid becomes excessive, it crystallizes and collects in the joints. Its favorite joint is the big toe joint. The pain from these uric acid crystals is exquisite and agonizing. It feels as if someone has driven a nail through the joint. People suffering from these gout attacks describe them as "crippling." I would describe it as having the nail in the joint and walking on it because this is what I do. It takes fortitude to keep functioning in this state of agony.

How did I get here? The answer to that is simple. Gout is described as a disease of the luxurious. Royal aristocrats from back in the day would indulge themselves in their diets rich in meat and alcoholic beverages and sat around in sedentary inertness. They had the comfortable life which leads to excess which leads to pain. Like it or not, I had the same lifestyle for 41 years as I ate the standard American diet of burgers and fries and indulged in couch surfing and television. Looking back, I can see where I had gout flare ups then but did not recognize them. They weren't severe enough to make me go and seek a cause or a cure.

When I was 41, I became a vegan. As I tell people now, I feel awesome from the ankle up. Going vegan is a decision that I do not regret. But from the ankle down, my life is pure hell. As my vegan diet burns away the toxic fat of my old lifestyle, it releases the purines and uric acid stored in that fat built up from that poor diet and lifestyle. Basically, I am in purgatory where I have to burn off my dietary sins.

I have a threefold remedy for my gout issue. I keep it on a piece of paper on the fridge. It's really simple. CARB UP + HYDRATE + EXERCISE. Carbing up is when I make sure to eat calories. You are going to lose weight as a vegan, so you don't even have to think about it. The problem is when you lose that weight too fast. All I have to do is skip a meal or eat one that is more vegetable than carb, and I am in the danger zone.

Losing weight is a good thing, but doctors will tell you not to lose it too fast. They aren't kidding. You should focus on losing a pound per week. I suspect I will lose a pound in a day which begins the descent into oblivion. I don't weigh myself because those home scales are so inaccurate. But I know I've lost weight when I catch the next hole on my belt.


The hydration is where you drink a lot of water. The body eliminates excess uric acid through the kidneys, and you need to drink enough water that your urine is clear. This is very laborious and requires frequent trips to the bathroom. But I have to do it or suffer the consequences. Patriots QB Tom Brady made headlines over the fact that he drinks 20 glasses of water each day on average. This is probably 5 liters. I don't know. What I do know is that I drink that much and more. I achieve clear urine daily. When I don't, I suffer.

People think Tom Brady is nuts for this severity on the hydration, but I see wisdom in it especially since following the advice myself. The people who claim Brady is off his rocker think going vegan is nuts, too. Basically, these people are idiots. Anytime you do something out of the ordinary, then people become instant psychologists worthy of judging your mental competence. I don't listen to these people.

The last part of the formula is the exercise. I find my gout is less severe when I move more. A weekend of undercarbing, dehydration, and spending hours in front of the computer will produce a gout attack. The antidote is to do the opposite of this.

Comfort is the enemy. Luxury is the betrayer. Pleasure is pain. These statements seem ironic, but they are reality. When you have a nail through the joint of your big toe, that is very real. In those moments, I wish I could take back that decadent life that I had. But, saddled with the pain, you have a choice to make. You can fight it and try to return to comfort. Or, you can embrace your cross and your penance and let it purify you.


My wife hates when I talk like this, but that is the difference between men and women. Women were made for comfort. Men were made for suffering. When women embrace suffering, they take on a masculine character like Saint Joan of Arc. When men embrace comfort, they take on an effeminate character like some English fop. This is damnable and disgraceful.

Soft living is a bad thing. I have felt the path of austerity calling me for a long time. Now, the torture of gout has turned that call into a deafening roar. I have resisted this call to austerity, and I place the blame for this on one man. This man is G.K. Chesterton.


Chesterton was a fat man. He enjoyed food, adult beverages, and a good smoke. He was also a writer which is not a physically vigorous activity. The result of these habits was to produce a corpulence that I consider a disgrace. I say this as an overweight man with his own trophy of disgrace. Chesterton's obesity is considered a prime stumbling stone in his cause for canonization. I think it is deserved. In order to be a saint, one must be venerable. There is nothing venerable about living the lifestyle Chesterton lived.

Chesterton railed against Puritanism, and his disciples today have a similar antipathy. The problem is in defining this Puritanism. If we are talking about the iconoclastic Calvinists who wanted to drain all that was Catholic from the Church of England, I am against Puritanism. Unfortunately, Chesterton and his ilk seemed to have inflated Puritanism beyond that strict definition to include vegetarians, teetotallers, and non-smokers. Somehow, living a healthy lifestyle is anti-Catholic. But this is garbage.

There has been a backlash growing in me against Chesterton for sometime now. It probably began with my rejection of distributism as economic folly. I am of the opinion that much of this claptrap is ex post facto justification for being on the dole. This realization hit me after reading a Catholic writer fond of Chesterton discuss the joy of being on food stamps. The fact is that Chesterton was right on many things and wrong on others.

Chesterton wrote about the virtues of an agricultural homesteading lifestyle from the comfort of his desk which he rarely left except to venture down to the pub. He had that peculiar English habit of telling others how to do exactly that which he does not do. I had an English friend who had this annoying habit. He spent more time caring about the rights of workers than actually working. And this is why Americans are superior to the English. We work more and talk less.

Because of Chesterton, I have tried to remove the residue of my Calvinism by expunging all things Puritan from my thinking and lifestyle. But this has been a colossal error on my part. My lifestyle is more Chestertonian than I care to admit, and I am reaping the bitter reward of it with the gout. But bitter lessons are not quickly forgotten, and these are some of the things I have learned from the School of Pain.

Should be retitled "The Pleasures of Reason"

The first thing I have learned is that mental and spiritual pleasures are the highest. My wife asks me, "Aren't we supposed to take joy in life?" The Catholic answer to that is yes. Life is not meant to be a joyless existence. The problem is that this is never adequately explained. When people think of joy, an image of food and wine springs readily to mind. But those are bodily pleasures. In moderation, these things are not so bad. But moderation is more severe than people realize. When drawing the line, they aim for the middle but almost always err on the side of excess. This is concupiscence.

With mental and spiritual pleasures, there is no excess. You can never see too much beauty. You can never listen to too many beautiful symphonies. You can never worship God too much. Thanks to the Catholic Church and the wonders of the internet, I am rich in the spiritual and mental realms to a high degree like never before in history. You never have to temper your appetite for these things, yet sloth is what makes us forgo these things in favor of the material and the physical.

CATO THE ELDER: Not a man accustomed to soft living.
You have to be severe with the body. No one likes to hear this, but we know it to be true. This is why we admire athletes, soldiers, and saints. They are severe on their bodies. A guy that I find admirable is an old pagan from Roman times--Cato the Elder. Here's a bit from Wikipedia on him:
When Cato was very young, after his father's death, he inherited a small property in the Sabine territory, at a distance from his native town. There, he spent most of his childhood hardening his body by exercise, overseeing and sharing the operations of the farm, learning business and the rural economy... 
In the pauses between campaigns Cato returned to his Sabine farm, where he dressed simply, working and behaving like his laborers.
Cato was a bad ass. There's no other way to put it. The man became legendary for his severity and his opposition to luxury, decadence, and opulence. It was guys like Cato that made Rome so great. Cato opposed the corrupting Greek influences and was austere and rustic in his manner, habits, and lifestyle. He probably overdid it, yet people admired him anyway. He was a blue collar type of guy fighting against a world that wanted to go soft.

Now, Cato was no Christian, so I take what I admire from the guy while discarding the rest. The man was not humble or kind. Basically, he was just an austere type of guy who eschewed luxury when he had every opportunity and means to indulge it. Unfortunately, he seems to have pushed this same austerity into the realm of mind being a bit of a rube when it came to matters of the intellect or culture.


When it comes to Christianity, the guy most noted for austerity is St. John the Baptist. The man was remarkable even for his time. We all know about him wearing camel hair clothing and eating locusts and honey. Icons of the saint depict him as pretty rough looking. The guy was definitely severe on his body. Even Jesus makes this joke about him:
As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?" 
MATTHEW 11:7 NASB
People compared John the Baptist and Jesus. John was considered insane for his severity while Jesus was considered decadent for his mildness. Jesus mocked these criticisms:
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, "He has a demon!" 
The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, "Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" 
LUKE 7:33-34 NASB
Jesus was no glutton or drunk. This was a man who fasted in the desert for forty days. But while He was with his disciples, he enjoyed His time with them before He was to suffer. And the ascetical practices of St. John the Baptist would become the norm. St. Paul writes about beating his body. Other saints would undergo severe mortifications and penances. Then, there is the torture and martyrdom. Compared to the cross, camel hair and locusts seem like an easy ride.