Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Gilbert!

If G. K. Chesterton were still alive, he would be 135 years old today.

Of course, he died in 1936, but that doesn't mean the rest of us who are still among the living can't celebrate the birthday of the man described by the American Chesterton Society as an "overgrown elf...who laughed at his own jokes and amused children at birthday parties by catching buns in his mouth".

That said, in honor of Chesterton's birthday, at dinner this evening I intend to suspend the recently instituted moratorium on jokes during mealtimes — "Knock, knock" jokes are all the rage at Haus Jansen right now, and I arbitrarily decided this past week that Mom and Dad at least deserved a respite whilst at table — so we can laugh at our own. And heck, I may even decide to catch buns in my mouth for the amusement of our issue.

(The uninitiated may want to check out this essay on the ACS website — titled, fittingly enough, "Who is this guy and why haven't I heard of him?")

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fun with Balloons

Last week I posted a picture Jocelyn's sister recently took of our son Joey.

Herein I'm including a video she did of him and his sisters on his 2nd birthday a few weeks ago, which she originally posted on Facebook:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kiddieland, We Hardly Knew Ye

It's bad enough that Kiddieland will be closing this year.

But the thought that it may be replaced by a Costco is too much to bear.

What would Chesterton say?

Bill Maher: Embryology Expert?

Last night I found out that Bill Maher was on The Tonight Show (for one of Jay Leno's final shows, apparently), and I caught most of it.

I find watching Bill Maher somewhat like watching a train wreck: I don't want to look, but I don't want to not look, either — mostly because of a perhaps unhealthy curiosity about whether his next stupid bloviation will be as outrageous as most everything else he says.

I haven't yet been able to find video of the the segment, nor a transcript thereof, but Mary at Freedom Eden has a detailed account of it, and the quotes as she recounts them are as I remember.

Maher's pontifications on stem cell research took the biscuit:

Maher mocked President Bush on embryonic stem cell research. In the process, he made a fool of himself. Maher complained that "President 'Jesus Loves Me'" wouldn't allow embryonic stem cell research. [Which, of course, is completely false, but this sure is a popular canard, eh? —JJ] He talked as if he were an expert on the subject. That, of course, was ridiculous.

He asked Leno if he understood it. Leno kind of stuttered. Then Maher began his BS lecture.

He called an embryo "a little specklet of goo."

He didn't mention that an embryo is a genetically complete human being. There's a lot of value in that "goo."

Maher said an embryo is "a two-day old dividing cell, or as conservatives call it: a baby."

He called the embryos used in stem cell research "leftovers at fertility clinics."

About the research, he said, "This is something that can help people that are really alive." At no point did Leno question Maher's claims or note that adult stem cells have been used to successfully treat and cure disease. Embryonic stem cells have not.

Together, like good propagandists, Leno and Maher perpetuated the myths.

Leno ended the interview by saying he's always been proud to have Maher on the show, even when he wasn't popular and just a speck of goo.

During this time, the two yukked it up not a little, and the audience followed suit, natch.

But for the virtue of hope, it's at times likes these that I would find myself gravitationally drawn toward despair over what the future holds for our culture.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My New Favorite Picture?

Jocelyn's sister took this picture of our son Joey a couple weeks ago:

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's for Reasons Like This I'm Cynical about the Medical Establishment

I linked to this post a few weeks ago on Facebook, and MWhelehan commented:

My own sister-in-law just had her fourth via Cesarean and the doctor asked her several times if she wanted her tubes tied. I thought that was even more invasive than the surgery. But the explanation was, "We've already got you open..."

From an insurance company's perspective, this is a no-brainer: fork over a few more thousand now, but think of the money we won't have to cough up in the future now that she's done having kids!

I particularly love the "We've already got you open" sales pitch. Imagine going to the dentist to get a filling, and he says to you, "How'd you like for me cut out your tongue? I mean, we've already got your open."

Absurd? Of course.

But it only serves to illustrate that which in reality is absurd: the fact that the medical establishment routinely tells women that they should consider having a side effect laden surgery performed on part of their body that is perfectly healthy and merely doing what it's supposed to be doing.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'm Shocked — Shocked, I Tell You — That Hillary Clinton May Not Have Been Telling the Truth

Last month Secretary of State Hilary Clinton told Congress that half of the women she had seen in Brazilian hospitals "were fighting for their lives against botched abortions." After her comments she was asked to produce evidence as to when she had visited the hospitals or statistics to back her claim, but neither she nor her staffers have been able to produce any evidence.

Clinton, who last year falsely claimed that she had been involved in a sniper attack as First Lady when she visited Bosnia, is now making another claim: half the women in Brazilian hospitals are "fighting for their lives against botched abortions." ...

The National Catholic Register contacted Department of State spokeswoman Laura Tischler to see if there was any record of Clinton’s trip to Brazilian hospitals. Tischler said, "I am unable to confirm where or when the trip she referred to in her testimony was — where specifically in Brazil she was visiting or when the trip occurred."

Read the whole thing.

[HT: JivinJ]

Monday, May 11, 2009

This *So* Does Not Fit with the Narrative That the Medieval Catholic Church Was Anti-Science

Because that narrative isn't, um, true.

The first known serious flight attempt in world history occurred about a thousand years before the Wright brothers, in western England. Then, a young Benedictine monk leapt with a crude pair of cloth wings from a watchtower of a church abbey at the beginning of the 11th century. This monk, known to history as Eilmer of Malmesbury, covered a furlong – a distance of approximately 600 feet – before landing heavily and breaking both legs. Afterwards, he remarked that the cause of his crash was that he had forgotten to provide himself with a tail.

We know of Eilmer’s attempt through the writings of a historian, William of Malmesbury, who mentions the flight in passing. Of more interest to William was that Eilmer, late in his life, was the first person to spot a comet, which people then credited as being an omen of the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror.

Eilmer typified the inquisitive spirit of medieval enthusiasts who developed small drawstring toy helicopters, windmills, and sophisticated sails for boats. ...

Given the geography of the Abbey, his landing site, and the account of his flight, he must have remained airborne about 15 seconds. At low altitude he apparently attempted to flap the wings, which threw him out of control. His post-flight assessment qualifies him as the first test pilot, for he sought to understand, in technological terms, what happened on the flight and why he crashed.

Read the whole thing.

[HT: Sean Dailey via Fr. Z. via Daniel Matsui]

Friday, May 8, 2009


When you hear the word disaster, what do you think of?

To me, the word brings to mind images of tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, plane crashes — well, you get the idea.

Perhaps it's antediluvian of me to say so, but I don't think of the creation of a unique human being with an eternal soul is an event that would ever warrant such a label.

Silly me.

In an article in today's Chicago Tribune (that reads almost as if it could have been written by someone at Planned Parenthood), we read this:

About 50 percent of pregnancies in the United States are unintended. In good economic times, many families are happy to welcome another child, [ACOG Vice President Dr. Iffath] Hoskins said. But when money is tight, an unintended pregnancy can be a disaster.

It's unclear to me whether it's the ACOG spokesmouth who thinks the creation of a new human life could be a "disaster", or if that's just editorializing thrown in by the writer of the article, one Shari Roan.

Regardless, such misanthropic sentiments are self-evidently appalling, and those who harbor them ought to be ashamed of thesmelves.

A little later in the article, Roan writes:

Every dollar spent in the public health sector on contraceptives saves $3 in childbirth and newborn health-care costs for Medicaid.

Did you catch the subtext there? As Mark Shea has quite rightly pointed out:

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."