Friday, May 30, 2008

I Didn't Think This Was Funny the First Time I Watched It

(Perhaps that's because I've never seen a Samuel Beckett play.)

But the second time I watched it, I did:

[HT: Eric Scheidler]

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Coming Blogswarm

Jen R at Turn the Clock Forward is sponsoring a "Pro-Life pro-contraception blogswarm" on May 31.

Here's hoping it will result in some healthy combox debates that will prompt adherents to rethink the latter part of their position and come to see the bleeding obvious connection between contraception and abortion.

Those who believe in contraception can kick and scream and yell and shout all they want about how it helps prevent abortion, but in the grand scheme of things, it, um, doesn't. Quite the contrary, in fact.

A while ago, I responded thusly to an e-mail at work from someone asking about failure rates for the birth control pill:

Statisticians who assess the effectiveness of contraceptives use the term "perfect use" to describe the ideal conditions under which the lowest possible pregnancy rates can be achieved. For the pill, with "perfect use", the pregnancy rate is, as your doctor said, around 1%.

However, the term "perfect use" is, for all practical purposes, useless. It's merely a theoretical concept that offers a false sense of security. How often does "perfect use" occur? Rarely? Ever?

On the other hand, "typical use" is a much more accurate gauge of a given contraceptive's failure rate. Even the Guttmacher Institute—the research arm of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the U. S., and one of the largest providers of contraceptives as well—acknowledges with "typical use", the pill has an 8% failure rate.

This statistic also appears on the same page from the AGI's website:

"Fifty-four percent of U.S. women who had an abortion in 2000 were using a method [of contraception] in the month they became pregnant."

They then say that this doesn't mean that contraceptives fail 54% of the time, and then say that these women apparently didn't use their contraceptives "perfectly".

Of course.

Another report issued just this month by the Guttmacher Institute indicates that alarmingly high numbers of couples who rely on contraception to prevent pregnancies are still getting pregnant.

An article in the Chicago Tribune on the report summarizes:

•Nearly two-fifths of women on the pill miss a daily dose at least once in the course of three months, raising their pregnancy risk.

•About three-fifths of women who rely on their partners to use condoms reported that a condom was skipped or put on late at least once in the previous three months.

•Nearly 4 in 10 women using birth control do not much like their method, and such dissatisfaction also significantly raises the risk of pregnancy. [Gee, I wonder why they don't like it? —JJ]

•About 5 percent of the women said they used their birth-control method reliably, but it had failed—possibly because of a break in a condom or, rarely, pills that don't work—allowing them to get pregnant.

So, is contraception the answer?


On Forgiveness

Over at FestungArnulfinger, The Dutchman has a smashingly good post on forgiveness.

One of the points he makes is that "[t]he best way to learn about forgiveness is to have a few kids."

Indeed. Aside, of course, from our having to learn to patiently, constantly, and lovingly forgive them, having kids also teaches us how to be better forgivers in another way.

Inevitably, we as parents fly off the handle and get mad at our kids from time to time. Amazingly, though, kids—little kids especially—have an ability to forgive us almost instantly.

A friend of mine recently pointed out that this is one of one of ways in which we must, as Jesus said, "become like little children".

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Friends Don't Let Friends Use Internet Explorer

Instead, they tell them about Firefox.

According to Wikipedia, Firefox is the second-most popular browser in current use worldwide, after the insufferable apology for a browser that is Internet Explorer.

Firefox would be vastly superior to IE if for no other reason than AdBlock Plus, one of dozens (hundreds?) of Add-ons that helps provide what it rightly calls "a better browsing experience".

As its name indicates, AdBlock Plus helps to—duh—block ads. Such that, you know, you don't see them.

And there was much rejoicing...

Other add-ons worth getting:

  • Flashblock, which blocks annoying Flash animation

  • Stop Autoplay, which, as its name suggests, prevents embedded audio and video from automatically starting when you a page containing same

  • Session Manager, which "saves and restores the state of all windows - either when you want it or automatically at startup and after crashes. Additionally it offers you to reopen (accidentally) closed windows and tabs."

If you don't already have Firefox, do yourself a favor and get it.

On Imbibing

Halfway through the drinking decalogue, we see this:

5. Thou Shalt Learn to Appreciate All Forms of Beer - If Natty Light, Keystone and Coors are your idea of what beer is and is meant to be, you’re living your drinking-life like that of a child in sub-Saharan Africa. Bring that inner impoverished child into the “civilized” world and open your dry crusty wind-chapped eyes to the world of ambers, stouts, saisons, hefeweissens and the multitude of heavenly hops-angels just waiting to surround you and give you a glimpse of the Promised Land. While you’re still getting over your silly stigma that Guinness is a “heavy” beer and cringing at the thought of a slice of lemon in your Hoegaarden, the rest of us will be happily melting our brains away into oblivion. With the superhot hops-angels, of course.

I also like this one:

9. The Way You Treat Bartenders and Waitstaff Says More About You Than You Know ...Snapping, clapping, yelling, whistling or just general rudeness to someone waiting on you are a sure sign to anyone in your company that if they spend enough time around you, you’ll eventually treat them with the same selfish nonchalance and disdain that you treat those who are paid to be nice to you. And for crying out loud, TIP WELL.

Tip well, indeed.

Maybe it's because both of my brothers worked as bartenders at one time in their lives, but I'm of the opinion that tipping anything less than a dollar a drink is unacceptable.

I would take it one step further regarding how you ought to treat someone waiting on you:

Failing to say "Thank you" when your server brings you something (a drink, your food, a utensil, extra napkins, the bill, etc.) is boorish in and of itself. There are few actions that annoy me more than when someone says nothing when he is brought something by his server.

Servers are not soulless automatons whose raison d'ĂȘtre is to Take Orders And Bring People Things.

They're people, and they deserve to be treated as such.

[HT: The Blue Boar via The Daily Eudemon]

Friday, May 23, 2008

Are There Too Many Brown People?

Um, no.

That's why it's nice to know that in response to agitprop like this article, which I wrote about this last week, and this article, which I didn't, there are eminently sensible rejoinders like this:

Ask the average informed first world citizen what he or she knows about the Philippines and they are likely to tell you that it is a poor, overpopulated, Catholic country, and that the “Catholic” part explains all the rest. A recent article in the Washington Post is typical of the media coverage that feeds this view: “Birthrates Help Keep Filipinos in Poverty,” ran the heading. “Contraceptives, Rejected by Government, Are Unaffordable for Many in Majority-Catholic Nation,” the subheading explained. Enough said.

The Post’s pitch faithfully reflects the view of the global family planning industry, which has long viewed the Philippines as “that Asian upstart” for resisting a national population control program. In the past thirty years official aid agencies and non-government groups led by International Planned Parenthood have poured resources into influencing the Philippines government to enact such a program.

Whence comes this resistance? How has it benefited the Philippines?

Certainly the majority Catholic culture explains a lot. Even when other parts of the Catholic world fell in with the birth control mentality, the Philippine clergy were stalwart in their defence of the principles set out in Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae 40 years ago. Asian family values have also played their part.

Now, media messages to the contrary, they stand vindicated. As much of the world confronts a demographic meltdown caused by very low birth rates and ageing populations, the Philippines is in a strong demographic position to build its own social and economic wellbeing -- as well as continue contributing to the workforce of the developed world. That is my ultimate argument in this article.

Read the whole thing.

[HT: Sunnyday at This Is Not a Job for Superheroes]

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Parenthood vs. Anti-Parenthood, Revisited

A few years ago, I posted an entry on the Generations for Life blog titled "Parenthood vs. Anti-Parenthood".

Two weeks ago, said post picked up an incoming link from a blogger named Josh who posted his response.

Herein I, in turn, will respond to his response in the second person, which I will also post as a comment on his his original entry.

Josh writes:

The original poster first mentions that anti-parenthood people refer to parents as “Breeders”. Personally, I’ve never heard this term nor the attitude this term implies.

I can't argue with you on that score, but there is, to be sure, a not insignificant portion of the population that feels a palpable contempt for large families. (Incidentally, the Slate article to which I linked in my original post included some examples of this sort of condescension.)

You may also want to check out this post my co-worker Eric Scheidler wrote about the Voluntary Human Extinction Project, a group whose website has a section titled "Biology and Breeding".

Josh writes:

Also it is mentioned that people who choose not to have children are broken and ultimately selfish. I fail to see the validity of this statement. Yes I am broken, but I don’t see how having children will fix this. I am not a selfish person, I give of myself without expecting return often. It doesn’t always have to be as severe as giving my life for another, but I don’t see myself as a selfish person. In fact I see myself as quite generous. So once again, I heavily disagree with this statement.

First, a clarification: What I said was this:

Considering that all men are called to fatherhood, whether biological or spiritual -- and, similarly, considering that all women are called to motherhood, whether biological or spiritual -- this all too common rejection of parenthood yields disastrous consequences on multiple levels because it is rooted in a selfish, "Non serviam" sort of attitude.

Choosing not to have children and rejecting parenthood are too vastly different things.

There are many people I know (priests, sisters, and single people) who have chosen not to have biological children, but they have freely embraced a life of spiritual fatherhood or motherhood toward other people in their lives.

Also, I never said people who choose not to have children are broken. (Incidentally, though, I wouldn't disagree with that, considering that all of us are broken in one way or another.)

Let me also clarify that I in no way believe that having children will ipso facto "fix" one's brokenness.

Speaking personally, though, I will say that having children is the best thing that's ever happened to me, as it has necessarily required me to spend less time focusing on myself (something that I, in my own personal brokenness, feel I am perhaps more inclined to than many others) and more time focusing on them.

Josh writes:

Now that I’ve address two of the biggest statements in that blog, let me move on to my point of view on the subject.

For the longest time I have adamantly been seeking out marriage and family. It’s something I never had growing up. I’ve never been close to my family. I’ve never experienced the unconditional love that a parent is supposed to have for their child. It’s something I missed out on that I feel broke me in some way. So I’ve spent years looking for it. So avidly that I’ve messed up the rest of my life in the meantime. Knowing this it’s quite a shock to me that I am now what has been labeled, “Anti-Parenthood”.

My choice came about for a variety of reasons. I feel there are too many people in the world as it is. I see families with 4 or more children and I don’t understand it. We live in a world of rapidly depleting resources, how can you feel it’s acceptable to reproduce in numbers like that? In China the population is allowed 1 child due to the huge volume of people there. I don’t want the US to get like that. I’m not going to go around telling people to stop reproducing but I do feel some people go a little crazy when it comes to kids.

Due to my childhood I don’t have a strong sense of paternal instincts. I’m sure I would be a very loving father given the chance, it’s just my nature. It’s not even that I dislike kids. I get along with them just fine. I just don’t feel I would do well taking care of a child, mentoring them, being their role model on my own.

First, briefly, regarding population: Far from the world being "overpopulated", the real demographic crisis facing the world today is actually one of underpopulation. (The best talk I ever heard on this subject was given by a British demographer named Andrew Pollard at a conference sponsored by the organization I work for in 2006.)

It goes without saying that I don't know the specifics of the hardships you've experienced in your family life, but it seems to me that what you're saying here echoes the deepest yearnings of every human heart: the desire for authentic relationships, for communion, for belonging, with others.

One of the most important documents that came out of the Catholic Church's Second Vatican Council some four decades ago said, "[M]an...cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself." (Gandhi said basically the same thing when he wrote, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.")

You rightly recognize that there is a desire within you to give of yourself, yet you have concerns that you would be able to live up to the serious responsibilities that giving of yourself entails.

These are concerns that all of us men encounter. In response to them, we have only two choices:

1. We can let our imperfections and self-doubts hold us back, and thereby refuse to face up to the challenges of living out our masculine vocation.


2. We can refuse to let ourselves be mastered by our imperfections and self-doubts; instead, we can resolve to conquer them and to tackle the challenges of living out our masculine vocation.

This is essentially the point Christopher West makes in his book The Good News about Sex and Marriage when he writes:

True love involves risk. It involves sacrifice, pain - in a word, suffering. If we don't think so, we haven't spent much time looking at a crucifix. This is the heavenly Bridegroom giving up his body for his Bride. And husbands are called to love their wives "as Christ loved the Church" (Eph 5:25).

What's our typical reaction? "No! I don't want to. I want the pleasure without the responsibility, without the risk, without the suffering." I came to see very clearly that I resisted the Church's teaching because it cornered me into accepting the cross of Christ - as it should.

I once heard a bishop explain that marriage involves four rings: the engagement ring, two wedding rings, and "suffer-ring." As Fr. Paul Quay says, "It is just this link between true love and suffering that is rejected by sexual sin." The honest person cannot fail to see the truth of this statement. If we reject the cross of Christ, if we refuse to take the risk of loving as Christ loves, we will still eventually end up with what we resisted - suffering. But the suffering that comes from resisting the cross is fruitless, empty, and despairing, while the suffering that comes from embracing the cross leads to the joy of the resurrection, the joy of love and new life.

In your blog entry, you wrote, "...I take the time to try to understand all angles of a situation before I make my opinion."

In that same spirit, I would encourage you to reconsider your perspective.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"How Many Children Do You Want?" Part II

As a follow-up to my post last week on the Catholic Dads blog (which was also cross-posted here), wherein I asked my confreres how they respond to the question, "How many children do you want?" one fellow named Paul offered some particularly wise words—especially the last paragraph:

Is it about what I want?

I mean I want many things, such as, for Law & Order to stop doing episodes with character drama and start solving cases again; getting a sitter and seeing Prince Caspian in the theatre. "Want" like air, fills a vacuum. If I think about my family years down the line, I imagine more kids than I currently have and I like the vision that I see. So in a sense I could answer the question ( kid every two years or so...until my wife is about so my answer is...).

But honestly, what bearing does that have on anything? More than wanting children, I love children. I love the children that I have and I will love each and every child that God gifts me and my wife with. What else matters.

(Incidentally, I'm with him on the Law & Order comment, too.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Stuff White People Like

Having just been introduced to the Stuff White People Like blog but a few weeks ago, I've got some catching up to do.

A few examples include: Diversity, Gentrification, Grammar, The Ivy League, Free healthcare, and Having Gay Friends.

It's funny because it's true.

[HT: Matt Yonke]

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Reinvention of Paul Ehrlich

This email found appeared in my inbox yesterday with the subject line:

40 Years Later – is Paul Ehrlich’s ‘Population Bomb’ Finally Exploding?

Um, no.

But I digress. Here's the email itself:

From: Severn Williams []
Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 11:35 AM
Subject: 40 Years Later – is Paul Ehrlich’s ‘Population Bomb’ Finally Exploding?

May 14, 2008 - Contact: Severn Williams - 510-336-9566

Dear Eric,

He wrote the book that helped launch the modern environmental movement. He is one of the most accomplished - and controversial - scientists of his generation. He has counseled governments, appeared in television shows ranging from documentaries to The Tonight Show, and won a Macarthur Genius Award.

Now, exactly 40 years since the publication of The Population Bomb ignited debate and action around the globe, author and scientist Paul R. Ehrlich is back with a new book, The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment.

A quick glance at today's headlines tells the story: world food prices at record levels, increasing conflict over scarce resources, the immediate threat of global climate change, the spread of toxic chemicals into drinking water and food, and more. In short, it looks an awful lot as though the "Population Bomb" Paul Ehrlich warned us of in 1968 is now exploding.

In The Dominant Animal, Paul joins with his wife, Anne H. Ehrlich, a prize-winning scientist herself, to examine this growing crisis - from its roots in human evolution to the failure of modern government to respond. It is a powerful examination of how the humans today are creating the world of humans of tomorrow-and what it will take for our civilization to survive.

The Ehrlichs bring us to the startling realization that our domination of Earth has, in part, prompted a period of rapid change the scope of which the planet has not seen since an asteroid hit the earth 65 million years ago.

Paul Ehrlich is known for his provocative and interesting interviews and his cogent explanations of scientific knowledge. The 40-year anniversary of The Population Bomb and the publication of The Dominant Animal in June provides a great opportunity for an in-depth look at Paul Ehrlich's original warning to the planet in 1968, his legacy, and his continuing work to understand and explain the crisis facing our civilization.

Paul and Anne are available for extensive interviews, profiles, or brief commentary in relation to reporting on broader stories.

Copies of the book can be requested by contacting Severn Williams at 510-336-9566 or


Severn Williams, Island Press

Paul (Worst. Prognosticator. Ever.) Ehrlich is to demography what the Jehovah's Witnesses are to eschatology.

(To their credit, though, at least the JW's have taken the hint and now no longer attempt to set dates for their apocalyptic predictions.)

On Prayer

The Dutchman had an excellent post on Catholic Dads blog a couple days ago on prayer. And on his own blog, he included one excerpt from said post, some wise words from Marshal Foch on the rosary.

I commented thusly:

My earliest memories of praying the rosary were on car trips with my parents.

We lived (and they still live) in Minneapolis, and every fall we would drive to La Crosse, WI to visit my dad's aunt, Sister Mileta Ludwig, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration. (She died in 1994 and was buried on what would have been her 99th birthday.)

As a kid, my thoughts on the rosary was that it is Something That Takes a Really Long Time; I didn't like it, but I didn't dislike it either.

In January of 1991, when I was in seventh grade, the first Gulf War had just begun, and my mom decided that we as a family would start praying the rosary every day for peace.

I wasn't thrilled about the idea, and less than enthusiastically went along with it.

To this day, though, I am forever grateful to my mom for instituting this custom in our family. I've now come to love praying the rosary, and our family does it each day now as well.

The Mother of All Pro-Abortion Rants

And yes, she makes no qualms about calling herself "pro-abortion".

Clarifying, I'd say.

As I've said before, perhaps the best thing that could happen to the pro-life movement is for the "pro-choice" movement to get its own 24-hour cable channel.

Just give them a camera, give them a microphone, and let them talk. And talk. And talk some more.

The more they seek to rationalize their beliefs, the more self-evidently repulsive their arguments become.

[HT: JivinJehoshaphat]

Trying (and Failing) to Look More Respectable

I posted this yesterday on the GFL blog:

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH).

In partnership with Planned Parenthood, ICAH is part of a coalition called the Illinois Campaign for Responsible Sex Education. (ICAH and the ICRSE apparently operate out of the same office, as they have the same mailing address.)

The Campaign's goal is to strip all funding of abstinence education for Illinois schools and instead require them to use so-called comprehensive sex education programs.

You may also remember that two years ago, ICAH's annual fundraiser was held at the headquarters of Playboy magazine in downtown Chicago. I took part in a protest of the event, and wrote about it here.

Tickets to the adults-only event cost $75, and those who kicked in an extra $50 were also entitled to “a tour of the Playboy offices and art collection” as well as a VIP reception with Christie Hefner.

Anti-Playboy student activists

Christie Hefner (the daughter of Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy), has been its CEO since 1982. It was she who decided that the company could make more money by producing increasingly harder-core pornography — something that even her father was reluctant to do for a long time.

ICAH's 2007 fundraiser — also an adults-only event — featured a stripper and was held at "Chicago's premier liquor spa".

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Myths about the Middle Ages

If you, like me, are a history nerd, I'm sure you'll agree the content on this site is pretty darn cool.

There Are Three Types of People in the World

Those who think stuff like Teen Girl Squad is:

  1. 1. bizarre

  2. 2. hilarious

  3. 3. both

I'm in category #3.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hark! The Ark!

After I dropped off an old computer monitor and other various and sundry items at the Goose Island recycling facility (and got some free compact fluorescent light bulbs!) this morning, I had breakfast at the nearby Ark Cafe, which rightly styles itself as a "unique, quaint, and charming Christian based cafe".

The Ark was recommended by some friends, and it's also been advertising in the St. John Cantius bulletin — with a coupon for a free cup of coffee, no less!

It was "damn good coffee", as Agent Cooper would say, and the spinach quiche was yummy.

If you're local, check thou it out. It's open from 7am - 10pm Monday through Saturday, and their website indicates that they will soon be open on Sundays too.

"How Many Children Do You Want?"

I just posted this at Catholic Dads:

I'm curious to get some perspectives from others in Catholic Dads-Land:

How do you respond to the question, "How many children do you want?"

Having four kids under six, we get this question not infrequently, as I'm sure many of you do as well. Our kneejerk response is usually something along the lines of, "As many as God gives us," or, "I don't know, but we're open to a large family."

While these responses honestly reflect our attitude toward family life, I'm not sure how cogent they are to the ears of someone who thinks the notion that using contraception is a bad idea is akin to the notion that using soap is a bad idea.

Any thoughts?

Blaming the Usual Suspects

Mark Shea aptly summarizes this article:

Resource Hogs Blame Poverty on Church, Brown People

The solution of rich Western elites to poverty is always and everywhere, "Just enough of me. Way too much of you. Cull your herds and buy Pepsi."

The duty of the media (which is owned by the rich Western elites) is to get that message out and the Chicago Tribune does its duty for Massa.

I've seen this article, like, a thousand times before.

The template is the same; the only thing that's different is that in this case, it's the Philippines. Next time, it'll be, say, Brazil, or Guatemala, or Mexico.

Heigh ho.

Monday, May 12, 2008

John Kass on Obama

His latest column begins thusly:

Will Barack Obama's presidential candidacy serve his state and city by finally drawing national attention to the sleazy and corrupt politics of Illinois and Chicago?

It is all about context. The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate's politics were born in Chicago. Yet he is presented to the nation as not truly being of this place, as if he floats just above the political corruption here, uninfected, untouched by the stain of it or by any sin of commission or omission. It is all so very mystical.

Perhaps viewing Obama as a Chicago political creature would conflict with the established national media narrative of Obama as a reformer. Actually, there's no "perhaps" about it.

"I think I have done a good job in rising politically in this environment without being entangled in some of the traditional problems of Chicago politics," Obama told reporters and editors at a Tribune editorial board meeting several weeks ago.

Yes, an excellent job. Except for his dalliance with his indicted real estate fairy, Tony Rezko, a relationship Obama considers a mistake, the senator has not played the fly to Mayor Richard Daley's spider. Almost, but not quite.

"I know there are those like John Kass who would like me to decry Chicago politics more frequently, and I'll leave that to his editorial commentary," Obama said.

Not the politics, just the corruption, I said then, wishing silently that he had decried it all, that he'd stood up years ago and pointed to the list of sleazy deals, pointed an angry finger at the Duffs, the white, Outfit-connected drinking buddies of Daley who received $100 million in affirmative action contracts through City Hall.

Read the whole thing.

Screwtape on Religion and Politics

About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate. Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist's shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that "only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilisations". You see the little rift? "Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason." That's the game. [Chapter 23]

HT: Mark Shea

Woo hoo!

We got our stimulus payment this weekend!

There was a time in my life when I thought I knew a lot about economics. Ironically, the more I came to learn about economics, the more I realized I actually don't know very much about it.

That said, I don't know whether Uncle Sam's plan to drop money from the sky and tell people, "Spend it! NOW!" is such a good idea.

But I will say this: Haus Jansen — and even more so, Garage Jansen — is in dire need of a new roof, so our rebate will help pay for that. (And as much as it pains me to part with such a significant sum of money as is required to reroof our place, the distributist in me is pleased that we're having the job done by a small-time, locally owned contractor who was recommended by a friend of ours who knows more about home maintenance, repair, contracting, etc., than I'll ever know.)

We're doing our part, so if the stimulus plan works and actually does help to kickstart the economy, you can thank us.

Friday, May 9, 2008

He Knows What He Likes

I took this picture of our firstborn son on his birthday Tuesday:

Then, after he saw the Biggest. Chocolate chip cookie. Ever.:

...I took this picture:

The fascination of children lies in this: that with each of them all things are remade, and the universe is put again upon its trial. As we walk the streets and see below us those delightful bulbous heads, three times too big for the body, which mark these human mushrooms, we ought always primarily to remember that within every one of these heads there is a new universe, as new as it was on the seventh day of creation. In each of those orbs there is a new system of stars, new grass, new cities, a new sea...

The essential rectitude of our view of children lies in the fact that we feel them and their ways to be supernatural while, for some mysterious reason, we do not feel ourselves or our own ways to be supernatural. The very smallness of children makes it possible to regard them as marvels; we seem to be dealing with a new race, only to be seen through a microscope. I doubt if anyone of any tenderness or imagination can see the hand of a child and not be a little frightened of it. It is awful to think of the essential human energy moving so tiny a thing; it is like imagining that human nature could live in the wing of a butterfly or the leaf of a tree. When we look upon lives so human and yet so small, we feel as if we ourselves were enlarged to an embarrassing bigness of stature. We feel the same kind of obligation to these creatures that a deity might feel if he had created something that he could not understand.

But the humorous look of children is perhaps the most endearing of all the bonds that hold the Cosmos together. Their top-heavy dignity is more touching than any humility; their solemnity gives us more hope for all things than a thousand carnivals of optimism; their large and lustrous eyes seem to hold all the stars in their astonishment; their fascinating absence of nose seems to give to us the most perfect hint of the humour that awaits us in the kingdom of heaven. —G.K. Chesterton, A Defence of Baby Worship

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Power to the People Plants!

Read about it in Switzerland in 2008.

Read about it in Chesterton's The Napoleon of Notting Hill in 1904:

And Mr. Mick not only became a vegetarian, but at length declared vegetarianism doomed ("shedding," as he called it finely, "the green blood of the silent animals"), and predicted that men in a better age would live on nothing but salt. And then came the pamphlet from Oregon (where the thing was tried), the pamphlet called "Why should Salt suffer?" and there was more trouble.

[HT: Apoloblogology]

Oh, Canada!

Check thou out this article that appeared on the Pro-Life Action League home page yesterday, detailing the myriad troubles my beloved boss, Joe Scheidler, has had in years past in the course of his travels to Canada—which, happily, he avoided during his trip to Edmonton this past week.


It's really not a hard question:

The mind reels at the pathetic verbal gymnastics required to try to get around the bleeding obvious fact that abortion takes a life — something even intellectually honest abortion advocates acknowledge.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Geburtstag at Haus Jansen

Our firstborn son, Jose (aka Joe, Joey, and Joejoe) turns one year old today!

Interestingly, Joe's amazingly easy-to-remember birthday — 5/6/07 — is one of only twelve dates every century that consists of three such directly sequential numbers.

Here are two of my favorite pictures of him. The first was taken Christmas Eve, when he's sporting his cool new hat:

This one was taken more recently (although I forget exactly when):

Maligayang kaarawan, Jose!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Our Tax Dollars at Work

"When you break the big laws, you do not get freedom; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws." —G.K. Chesterton

First, let me say this:

I've never smoked a cigarette in my life.

I passionately hate, loath, and detest cigarette smoking, and find it utterly distasteful and bothersome — almost to the point of being offensive.

I do, however, have even greater distaste for public smoking bans, such as we have in the fair corrupt state of Illinois, because it leads to insanity like this:

Pipe smokers huff and puff about smoking ban

State law forces collectors who want to light up out of St. Charles convention center

I gotta give 'em credit for giving it the old college try:

The group had sought, with the help of its attorney members, to get around the state smoking ban that went into effect in January by arguing that the event was essentially a private club meeting.

The hall is strictly staffed with volunteers, convention-goers were to pay $15 to join the club, and attendees were to sign a waiver stating they "freely and willingly accept all the risks of smoking, second-hand smoke, third-hand smoke, and all other risks, both real and imagined, regarding smoking tobacco."

The powers that be weren't amused:

But St. Charles police, DuPage County health officials and anti-smoking advocates didn't buy it.

"This is the first time we've seen such a blatant attempt . . . to actually undermine the law through legal sophistry," said Mike Grady, the American Cancer Society's Illinois director of public policy. "We're very happy with the outcome. This is the perfect example that the law is being enforced."

I've often thought that if smoking is really as dangerous as it's purported to be — which, of course, is the rationale behind various prohibitions thereof — it seems to me that said limited restrictions don't go nearly far enough. Rather, it would seem the only responsible thing the government could do is to ban any and all tobacco products outright.

Of course, what with the ginormous tax revenue stream they generate, that'll never happen.

They Know How to Pick 'Em

For the second time in as many years, our family watched the running of the Kentucky Derby. (This now officially qualifies the pastime as a Haus Jansen "tradition".)

Prior to the race, I said the names of the some of the horses, and after hearing a few of them, our five-year old daughter Teresa knew that Big Brown was going to win. Four-year old Cecilia concurred.

Why? For no other reason than that his name is Big Brown.

Given my first name, I tried to sell them on Colonel John, but they wouldn't be deterred.

And, of course, the rest is history.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Curious Omission

I've written once previously about our men's bible study group (consisting mostly, but not entirely, of other guys at our parish).

The other night, as we continued our way through Luke's Gospel, we were discussing Luke 9:37-45, wherein Jesus exorcises a demon from an unnamed man's only child.

One verse in particular (42) jumped out at me, not so much for what it says, but for what it doesn't say:

As he was coming forward, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion; but Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and returned him to his father.

What were the actual words Jesus used to exorcise the demon? St. Luke doesn't tell us.

Likewise, in the story of the Gerasene demoniac (Luke 8:26-39), Jesus doesn't tell us the actual words Jesus used to expel the demons:

A herd of many swine was feeding there on the hillside, and they pleaded with him [Jesus] to allow them to enter those swine; and he let them. The demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

Now, I haven't taken the time to look at all the other Gospel stories recounting instances where Jesus exorcised demons, so I can't say whether this pattern holds true throughout such accounts, but for the aforesaid two instances, at least, I could speculate as to at least one possible explanation for why the evangelist omits the precise words Jesus uttered to expel the demons.

It goes without saying that God, being God, is all-powerful. His ability to do anything is a profound mystery that we as imperfect creatures can never quite get our head around.

One such manifestation of this amazingly awesome power God has is the ability to exorcise demons. How exactly He can do this is, by extension, a profound mystery as well.

It seems fitting, then, that the evangelist, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, did not record the actual words Jesus used to do so. In a very real sense, our not knowing the precise words seems to better convey the mystery of how He is able to accomplish such a miracle.

Thursday, May 1, 2008