Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Captain 9/11 Crashes and Burns

I told you this would happen.

Of course, in one of those "The emperor isn't wearing any clothes!" sorts of ways, so did, well, just about everybody else.

So bleeding obvious was it that that an unapolgetic pro-abort like Giuliani had exactly no chance of winning the GOP nomination that any pundit who thought for even a second that he did ought to publicly apologize for his astonishing dearth of perspicacity.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Your Tax Dollars at Work

...courtesy of the idiot-proof CIA:

Satellite falling toward Earth

By Eileen Sullivan | Associated Press
January 27, 2008

WASHINGTON - A large U.S. spy satellite has lost power and could hit Earth in late February or March, government officials said Saturday.

The satellite, which no longer can be controlled, could contain hazardous materials, and it is unknown where on the planet it might come down, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is classified as secret.

"Appropriate government agencies are monitoring the situation," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, when asked about the situation after it was disclosed by other officials. "Numerous satellites over the years have come out of orbit and fallen harmlessly. We are looking at potential options to mitigate any possible damage this satellite may cause."

He would not comment on whether it is possible for the satellite to be perhaps shot down by a missile. He said it would be inappropriate to discuss any specifics at this time. A senior government official said lawmakers and other nations are being kept apprised of the situation.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's the End of the Internet As We Know It

Of course, this prompts (not "begs", mind you, but "prompts" — the pedant in me can't resist clarifying this point) the question:

What if I don't want to do something productive?

In which case, one ought to reexamine one's priorities.

(And BTW, I'm aware of the irony in using the Internet in order to decry the all too common tendency to overuse the Internet.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The March

Just got back from the March for Life this morning. I always find it hard to summarize the March by saying anything other than:


As for further commentary, I'd simply be duplicating the efforts of (or failing to do as good of a job as) many, many others — two of whom being Thomas Peters, a.k.a. The American Papist, whom I met yesterday at the Blogs for Life conference (his extensive coverage of the March is centered here), and Jill Stanek.

Jill notes on her blog today that she, Bryan Kemper, Ruben Obregon, Eric Scheidler, Matt Yonke, and I had a "healthy debate on NFP" last night at the Dubliner.

Healthy, indeed. In the comments section, Jill clarified, "I do believe contraception is wrong, based on Scripture. But I think NFP is often used as a nonhormonal contraceptive. That's what we were discussing last night."

I told her we'll have her brought around in no time, and threw in a link to this post from this here weblog in which I wrote at length on contraception in the context of an online debate.

I know where she's coming from, as I once had a perspective on natural family planning that was not entirely unlike hers (i.e., what is often called providentialism). I'll also have to give her a few other recommendations for cogent reading on why NFP and contraception are not. The. Same. Thing.

As I say in the "About Me" section of this blog, "I enjoy a good discussion almost as much as I enjoy a good beer." Last night I had both — and at the same time, no less!

That's one of my favorite things about the March for Life — not only is it a shot in the arm for the pro-life movement, but it's also a great opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones, and, in the process, have some truly great conversations.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Night of the Living Overpopulation Myth

Yesterday marked the 39th anniversary of the first airing of one of the most famous stupid Star Trek episodes ever — The Mark of Gideon.

From Wikipedia:

On stardate 5423.4, the starship Enterprise arrives at the planet Gideon to begin diplomatic relations and invite the inhabitants to join the Federation. Gideon is reported to be a virtual paradise where the people live incredibly long lives in a nearly germ-free environment.

Upon arrival however, the Gideon representative, Ambassador Hodin, refuses to allow anyone to beam down to the planet except for Captain Kirk, who he gives specific coordinates to transport to. Kirk agrees to beam down and finds himself sent from one transporter room, directly to another, identical transporter room. It looks as if he is still aboard the Enterprise; however, after looking around, he finds to his surprise, the ship is completely devoid of any crew.

Back on the "normal" Enterprise, Mr. Spock is later informed that the Captain never arrived on the planet, however Ambassador Hodin refuses to allow a search team to investigate. Spock contacts Admiral Fitzgerald of Starfleet to report Kirk's disappearance and request further instruction, however Starfleet is bogged down by bureaucratic red tape between the planet Gideon and the Department of Planetary Treaties. Fitzgerald orders Spock to "stand by" for the time being.

Spock knew the coordinates were to send Kirk directly to the Gideon council chamber, so Spock asks to beam a member of the Gideon council up to the Enterprise to test the transporter. Hodin agrees and sends a member of his staff up to the ship and then back down to the planet. The transporter appears to be working normally.

Meanwhile, Kirk wanders the deserted Enterprise and then notices a strange bruise on his arm. He eventually runs into a beautiful young woman named Odona, who is apparently from Gideon. She too, has no idea how she got to the empty Enterprise, recalling only that she was in an overcrowded auditorium and struggling to breathe. For the moment, she is just relieved to have freedom of movement.

Kirk learns from Odona that Gideon is severely overpopulated, with crowds of people everywhere and no privacy. To her, the privilege of being alone, even for a moment, is a dream come true. Kirk thinks Odona's beauty is a dream come true, and the two share a passionate kiss. Neither notice the strange ghostly image of a dozen faces appearing on the bridge monitor behind them.

As Kirk and Odona leave the bridge, Kirk hears a strange sound outside the ship. He goes to a viewport and catches a glimpse of a crowd of people dressed in tight fitting body suits. The scene quickly fades to a view of normal space and he realizes something is very wrong. Kirk confronts Odona about what is going on, but she denies knowing what is happening. She then quickly falls ill, fainting to the floor.

Kirk carries her to sickbay where he encounters Ambassador Hodin. Hodin explains that Kirk is part of a secret experiment. Odona is his daughter, and Kirk has just infected her with Vegan choreomeningitis, a potentially lethal virus that Kirk carries in his blood but has an immunity to. Hodin's plan is to infect his people with the virus in an attempt to "control" the overpopulation problem caused by the people's long lifespans in a germ-free environment.

Kirk is angered that he has been an unwitting pawn, a Mark, in their hideous plan, and questions why the Gideons haven't tried sterilization or birth control regulations. Hodin explains that the Gideon people have regenerative abilities that have foiled sterilization attempts, and that their people hold love and the ability to create life sacred.

Kirk is also horrified to learn that he must remain behind to supply the virus as needed, however Kirk believes that Odona can fulfill that role now that she has been infected. Hodin explains that Odona must die from the virus so that she will become a "role-model" for the youth of the world, who will step forward and give up their lives for the benefit of the population. [emphasis mine]

I was reminded of propaganda like this recently at work when we got an e-mail from a fellow who told us, among other things:

You must realize that all organized religions, in order to keep the flock believing, must develop answers to those that would challenge their beliefs for the flock to use in defense of the organization's dogma. But, the organization's argument always ends in one way or another that, "you must have faith". Therein lies each organization's dilemma, and their weakest point. Unless the flock convinces themselves that this defense mechanism (and the dogma) is true, the organization loses members...and $.

But back to abortion for a minute. Unless the population of humans on this planet is curtailed and reduced to about 1850 to 1900 levels and kept there, we'll destroy this finite marble floating around the universe.

I pointed out to this chap the irony in making snarky comments about "dogmas" whilst simultaneously subscribing to dogmas that one doesn't even realize are dogmas.

Alas, he didn't see my point.

Ah well. I tried.


Square Zero: Babies Are Eating the Planet!

Posts from Generations for Life:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Four Bits the Richer

In case you've ever wondered if it's possible to use a bike pump to inflate a car tire, the answer is yes.

One might wonder, "Duh. Why wouldn't it work?" — and I'd say that's a fair question.

But now I know for sure. I tried it this morning, and it works.

To be sure, it took a heckuva lot longer than it would have to use a motorized air pump at a gas station, but I didn't have to part with $.50.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Christopher Stahlmann, My Cave Brewing Great-Great-Great Grandfather

In my post last week on the soon-to-open Chesterton Academy, Sean Dailey noted in the comments his fondness for Minnesota generally, and the city of St. Paul in particular, where he lived for a time.

Both my mom's and dad's families have roots in St. Paul, so I've spent a great deal of time there myself. As such, I too consider it an eminently likable city.

Given his avid interest in brewing, Sean's comment prompted me to recall that one of my great-great-great grandfathers (on my dad's side) was one Christopher Stahlmann, who opened the Stahlmann Cave Brewery in St. Paul on Fort Rd. (West 7th St.) and Oneida in 1855.

According to this article from the Master Brewers Association of the Americas:

THE FIRST BREWERY to make use of the land now occupied by Heilemann's was Christopher Stahlmann's Cave Brewery. Stahlmann's facility was officially opened on July 5, 1855, in what was then the western reaches of the city and a rural wilderness paved only by a wagon trail named Fort Road. What no doubt lured Stahlmann to this particular out-of-the-way spot was the existence of both cool natural springs and caves on the property. The caves, which still exist under West Seventh Street, were eventually excavated by Stahlmann (at a cost of $50,000) to reach three levels in depth and a mile in width. An 1883 business publication described the caverns as follows:

"A perfect labyrinth of rooms and cellars and under cellars three deep, reminding one of the catacombs of Rome, for none unacquainted with these subterranean vaults, without a guide, could grope their way through them and find their way out to daylight."

Christopher Stahlmann, the founder and developer of Cave Brewery, was described by Newsom as "a large man, slow in his movements, yet a man with a good deal of business tact and sagacity and very generally known throughout the city." He was born to an affluent family in Bavaria in 1829, but due to the bankruptcy of his father, he emigrated to America in 1846 with only "five dollars in his pocket!" After stays in Canada, Indiana, Cincinnati, and Iowa, Christopher and his Iowa bride, Katherine Paulas, moved to St. Paul, in 1855 "with just a few dollars."

From these "few dollars" Stahlmann created an enterprise that quickly became the largest brewery in Minnesota. According to available beer-production records for the years 1867-1879, Stahlmann was the number one beer-maker in the state. (He averaged more than 10,000 barrels of beer per year.) Although Stahlmann lost his number one position in the mid-1880s, his brewery continued to increase production, reaching a high of 40,000 barrels a year by 1884. Cave Brewery, according to an ad in an 1883 city directory, made "the finest quality lager beer" in "the most extensive brewing establishment in the state or the Northwest."

Unfortunately (for our family), all good things must come to an end:

In 1897, the once great Stahlmann Brewing Company went bankrupt and its last president, Charles J. Dorniden, had to sell the plant to a new enterprise, The St. Paul Brewing Company. The company existed only three years, for in 1900 the entire facility, including the beautiful stone mansion of Christopher Stahlmann at 855 West Seventh Street, was sold to the Jacob Schmidt Company (formerly the North Star Brewery).

The aforesaid article also has information about the Schmidt Brewing Company, one of the most famous names in Minnesota brewing history.

Why caves, you may ask?

Between the mid-1840s and 1870, German immigrants to the United States brought with them their traditional fondness for beer, which had not previously been of great importance in this country, where harder liquors were usually preferred -- something that has been called the “beer invasion.”

Ironically, this invasion was apparently facilitated not only by the burgeoning German population, but also by temperance agitation, which originally focused largely on “ardent spirits,” leading many Americans to choose the less potent beverage.

Prior to 1840, there were no breweries in America producing the German-style lager beer. Lager beer differed from the prevalent English and American beers, such as ale, in that the lager yeast fermented at the bottom of the vat, rather than the top, and the beer required lagering, or storage, for several months at lower temperatures. In the old days, lager beer could only be brewed during the winter months, when cellar temperatures were sufficiently low.

But in northern states, such as Minnesota, where natural ice was readily available, ice cakes could be harvested from nearby lakes and rivers in winter and stacked in caves, allowing brewing all year round to meet the growing demand.

The article from which the excerpt above was taken contains a first-hand account of a recent exploration of Stahlmann's Cellars — indeed, they still exist today! (Note: I originally found the article in PDF, with pictures, but for some reason now it doesn't open).

If that sort of thing interests you, check thou it out.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How Could I Have Forgotten?

Yesterday I noted my affinity for deathbed conversion stories, but I was remiss in failing to cite one of my favorite passages in all of literature — which, fittingly enough for me, is from a book I've never read and, in all honesty, probably never will.

I first heard this passage from Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited read by a priest of Opus Dei at an evening of recollection (somewhat like a mini-retreat) a few years ago:

Lord Marchmain was lying as I had seen him that morning, but his eyes were now shut; his hands lay, palm-up wards, above the bed-clothes; the nurse had her fingers on the pulse of one of them.

"Come in," she said brightly, "you won't disturb him now."

"D'you mean . . . ?"

"No, no, but he's past noticing anything."

She held the oxygen apparatus to his face and the hiss of escaping gas was the only sound at the bedside.

The priest bent over Lord Marchmain and blessed him. Julia and Cara knelt at the foot of the bed. The doctor, the nurse and I stood behind them.

"Now," said the priest, "I know you are sorry for all the sins of your life, aren't you? Make a sign, if you can. You're sorry, aren't you?" But there was no sign. "Try and remember your sins; tell God you are sorry. I am going to give you absolution. While I am giving it, tell God you are sorry you have offended Him." He began to speak in Latin. I recognized the words Ego te absolvo in nomine Patris . . . and saw the priest make the sign of the cross. Then I knelt, too, and prayed: "O God, if there is a God, forgive him his sins, if there is such a thing as sin," and the man on the bed opened his eyes and gave a sigh, the sort of sigh I had imagined people made at the moment of death, but his eyes moved so that we knew there was still life in him.

I suddenly felt the longing for a sign, if only of courtesy, if only for the sake of the woman I loved, who knelt in front of me, praying, I knew, for a sign. It seemed so small a thing that was asked, the bare acknowledgment of a present, a nod in the crowd. All over the world people were on their knees before innumerable crosses, and here the drama was being played again by two men -- by one man, rather, and he nearer death than life; the universal drama in which there is only one actor.

The priest took the little silver box from his pocket and spoke again in Latin, touching the dying man with an oily wad; he finished what he had to do, put away the box and gave the final blessing. Suddenly Lord Marchmain moved his hand to his forehead; I thought he had felt the touch of the chrism and was wiping it away. "O God," I prayed, "don't let him do that." But there was no need for fear; the hand moved slowly down his breast, then to his shoulder, and Lord Marchmain made the sign of the cross. Then I knew that the sign I had asked for was not a little thing, not a passing nod of recognition, and a phrase came back to me from my childhood of the veil of the temple being rent from top to bottom.

See You at Blogs for Life

Blogs for Life logo

I'll be there, and if you'll be there too, introduce yourself and allow me to give you a hearty handclasp.

There are three reasons why I'll be there:

1. My co-worker Eric Scheidler will be one of the speakers.

2. I went last year, and it was a good conference. I see no reason why it won't be similarly good this year.

3. Free food.

Monday, January 14, 2008

There But for the Grace of God Go I

My co-worker Matt Yonke, a Byzantine Catholic, notes on his blog that yesterday the Gospel reading proclaimed in the Eastern Churches was that of the Pharisee and the Publican.

He recalls:

Catholic moms have a bunch of sayings that, as a protestant without Catholic friends, I was never exposed to. Among them is, when a kid is acting self-righteous in relation to another person, “Just remember, they could go to heaven and you could go to hell.”

We’re preparing for a season or repentance. So repent, Pascha is at hand. And give the pharisee a break. He could be in heaven and you could end up in hell.

And how.

On a closely related note, I've always had a special affinity for deathbed conversion stories — Oscar Wilde, Wallace Stevens (supposedly), John Wayne, et al.

Think of how absolutely maddening deathbed conversions must be to the Evil One: a soul is mere moments away from being snatched into hell for all eternity, but then, suddenly, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, is rescued from his clutches.

Think of the wailing and gnashing of teeth that must take place in hell every time this happens.

And then rejoice, and pray that the Evil One be similarly enraged when you die.

I'm reminded of an article H.W. Crocker wrote in what was then known as Crisis Magazine titled "What's So Great about Catholicism", in which he wrote:

Classical paganism, as we know, always ended in despair—a noble despair sometimes, but despair nevertheless. Eastern religions don’t offer much in the way of hope, as they are tied to doctrines of fate, cycles of history, and a nirvana of extinction. Reformation Protestantism is pretty despairing, too, with Calvin’s belief that it would have been better for most people if they had never been born, predestined as they are for damnation. Secularism and materialism are no better, as wealthy secular societies tend to have the highest rates of suicide.

But in the Catholic Church, there is hope. Salvation is open to every man willing to take it. And though Jesus warned His apostles that following His way meant enduring inevitable persecution and hatred, He also gave them this promise: The gates of hell would not prevail against the Church. Even outsiders recognize this. Who ever heard of a deathbed conversion to Methodism? Hope comes from the Real Thing.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Give Mark Shea a Cigar

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."Through the Looking-Glass

The aforesaid was brought to mind while reading a post from Mark Shea's blog earlier this week:

You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.

In this case, the word is "Catholicism" and the users are the folk over at

It's kind of odd really. I've encountered the phenomenon before: Protestants who are pretty uncomfortable with what "Protestant" refers to in ordinary parlance these days: namely, the huge variety of Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, therapists, get rich quick, Contemporary Christian Music, Youth for Christ, Athletes for Christ, Joel Osteenified, Oprahfied, Cawfee Tawkish, Emergent Churchish, Purpose-Driven, megastar-megachurch, Seeker-Sensitive, Buddy Jesus, all-over the mapness that dominates so much American Protestant discourse. They long for the days when Protestants where (sort of) rooted in history, smoking pipes and Talking About Doctrine and Serious Things of the Mind as they quoted Augustine to prove that Luther and Calvin were right, especially Calvin. They miss men with long Dutch and Germanic names who could explain with geometric logic why Papists were idolatrous perverters of the gospel, yet still appeal to the Catholic tradition when it was useful for cuffing the young pups of pop Christianity and showing them what ignorant upstarts they were.

So they start sites with names like ReformedCatholicism, ostensibly with the purpose of trying to seriously engage Magisterial Protestantism and open some sort of "conversation" with Romanists. However, pretty soon it becomes clear that "Reformed Catholicism" means "Protestantism" and the Catholics who thought they were there for dialog are actually there to be told what they *really* think, despite their repeated declaration that they believe no such thing. We "really" worship Mary, doncha know, even though we reiterate that we do no such thing and that the Church forbids worship of Mary as idolatry. One guy, who fittingly arrogates to himself the name "Kepha" informs the willing believers in the crowd of Reformed Catholics that he is a "Protestant convert to the Catholic Church" and he has the inside scoop on how horrible it really is. Only, when you press him on what he means, you discover that he refers to his fellow parishioners and people who believe the ordinary teaching of the Church as "Papists" who are against "us" and he further adds that he refuses to receive communion and, in fact, reject the proposition that the Catholic Church is catholic. No, he is the definition of Catholic, because he, Kepha, will have it so. What the Church actually teaches does not enter into it. He maintains his "Catholic identity" even if it involves denying everything the Church teaches and nobody will say otherwise.

So, by "Catholic" he evidently means "Protestant".

And the bulk of the readers on the site mean the same, through of course, their devotion to Private Judgment means they have the right to call kepha a heretic if he happens to say something that disagrees with what they mean by Catholic. But all are happily agreed that somebody who simply believes and practices what the Catholic Church in union with the Pope permits and/or commands with respect to Mary is an idolator if it doesn't suit what the denizens of Reformed Catholic deem to be orthodox.

And when you point this out and laugh, they threaten to kick you off. Huh-larious.

This, in turn, prompted me to recall this scene from The Blues Brothers — arguably; yea, very arguably, the funniest in the movie:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Holy New High School, Batman!

Imagine my pleasant surprise upon learning today via Sean Dailey at Blue Boar that a new high school — Chesterton Academy [!] — is scheduled to open this fall in the Twin Cities, my old stomping grounds, and where my parents and most of extended family and many friends still live.

And, if that wasn't good enough, imagine my even greater surprise upon learning that the headmaster of said school is none other than John DeJak, an old college friend of mine.

Interestingly enough — and I'm not even sure if he knows this — John was the one who first introduced me to Chesterton. Heretics, at his suggestion, was the first book of Chesterton's I read.

I do hope that John — a Cleveland native — realizes that now that he lives in Minnesota, his issue will have to learn how to play
Duck Duck Gray Duck — and not the insufferable apology Duck Duck Goose — which is played everywhere save the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Friday, January 4, 2008

"Cancer Vaccine"?

One particularly loathsome pet peeve of mine is the labeling of Gardasil as a "cancer vaccine", such as in this AP article that appeared in today's Chicago Tribune.

And although it might be shoveling sand against the tide, I'm of the opinion that we need to be vigilant about preventing the terms "Gardasil" and "cancer vaccine" from becoming synonymous to the popular mind.

Although I'll be surprised if it runs, here's the letter I just sent to the Tribune:

January 4, 2008

Voice of the People
Chicago Tribune
435 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611

Dear Editor,

Early last year, the Tribune printed a letter I wrote criticizing the paper’s labeling of Gardasil as a “cancer vaccine”.

Unfortunately, the Tribune continues to use this misnomer. In the article “Now, this shot might sting … a lot” (News, January 4), the opening sentence refers to the “groundbreaking vaccine that prevents cervical cancer”. Such wording implies that Gardasil is an inoculation again cervical cancer itself. It is not.

Gardasil’s developer, Merck & Co., claims that it prevents 99 percent of infections caused by two strains of HPV that cause about 70 percent of cases of cervical cancer. Gardasil provides no protection against the other 30 percent, and thus it is both inaccurate and irresponsible to call it a “cancer vaccine”.


John Jansen
Generations for Life

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A "Public Service Announcement" from Planned Parenthood Golden Gate

As I've said before, we regularly get hate mail at work — especially these past several months, during the ongoing fight against Aurora Planned Parenthood.

Many of these messages criticize us for fighting Planned Parenthood because, you know, abortion isn't the only thing Planned Parenthood does.

One guy who wrote us last month plainly said — and these are his exact words — "Yes, it is wrong to kill babies but you can't say that all Planned Parenthood does is kill babies."


I've responded to enough of these types of e-mails that I now simply have a form letter I copy and paste in reply:

Dear [Name],

Thanks for writing.

You're right. Killing babies isn't the *only* thing Planned Parenthood does.

In recent years, Planned Parenthood has boasted of covering up the rape of an 11-year old girl. If you don't believe me, see this blog entry from former New York Post writer Dawn Eden.

They've also put out cartoons fantasizing about blowing up pro-life demonstrators. If you don't believe me, see this blog entry, also from Dawn Eden. [The video Dawn writes about in the link above — "A Superhero for Choice" — is included below.]

They've also lied to raise money. If you don't believe me, see this and this from our blog.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want Planned Parenthood in my community.


BTW, just today, Dawn wrote about Planned Parenthood Golden Gate's latest "public service announcement", which, it says, is aimed at 18-24 year olds and will run on MTV, VH-1, Comedy Central, and TLC:

[Cross-posted at Generations for Life]

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Well, Get Out the Crayolas and Color Me Tickled Pink!

Jill Stanek sent me an e-mail this morning letting me know about some great news:

I'm so excited! According to blogger spatula at the left wing, the #1 Most Moronic Story of 2007 was (drumroll, please)...

Had the other side not been damaged by the Aurora PP debacle, it would not even have been remembered to make the list, but #1! It even beat Iraq!

And by the way, there is plenty of evidence of wrong-doing. But Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner and city attorney Alayne Weingartz are going to moronic lengths to overlook the rule of law in their strange quest to enable PP. Meanwhile, pro-life investigations, lawsuits and subpoenas still abound. Stay tuned.

And to all pro-lifers helping fueling the Aurora PP story, please take a bow.

The latest on our legal fight against the Abortion Fortress of Aurora is here.

Let It Snow

We didn't get a whole lot of snow on New Year's Eve, but it was enough of the right kind of snow to make a good snowman — or, as Cecilia (left) and Teresa (right, with snowball) used to say, and as Lucy (center) still says, a "no-man".