Obama on Iraq

Some words of wisdom from a certain presidential candidate:
"Having visited Iraq, I'm also acutely aware that a precipitous withdrawal of our troops, driven by Congressional edict rather than the realities on the ground, will not undo the mistakes... It could compound them. It could compound them by plunging Iraq into an even deeper and, perhaps, irreparable crisis."
"But I do not believe that setting a date certain for the total withdrawal of U.S. troops is the best approach to achieving, in a methodical and responsible way, the three basic goals that should drive our Iraq policy: that is, (1) stabilizing Iraq and giving the factions within Iraq the space they need to forge a political settlement; (2) containing and ultimately defeating the insurgency in Iraq; and (3) bringing our troops safely home."
"My position has been that it would not be responsible for us to unilaterally and precipitously draw troops down regardless of the politics, because I think that all of us have a stake in seeing Iraq succeed. We need to get the policy right, and it's inappropriate, I think, to have politics intrude at this point in such a critical stage in the development of the Middle East."
"A quick withdrawal would add to the chaos there and make it an extraordinary hotbed of terrorist activity. It would also damage America's international prestige and amount to a slap in the face to the troops fighting there."
"What the militias are essentially doing is they've just pulled back. They've said, 'As long as there's these increased troop presence, we'll lie low, we'll wait it out. As soon as the Americans start leaving and redeploying into other areas, we will come back in...'"
And just for good measure, he voted against 2006 legislation to withdraw from Iraq by July 2007.


This is really, really scary. And makes me, more than ever, want to limit government.

Some Sonnets

A couple more sonnets. The first is the one I did for the Literary Fair. I had to write it in forty minutes, so it's overly grandiloquent on purpose. The second one here is kind of random; I wrote it, as a joke, for the door of my host at Boston College. My other sonnets are here.
10. This World Alone

This world alone doth not suffice.
My silent, everlasting grief
Cannot be quelled by mortal vice,
By joys too rare, too mild, too brief!
Oh! Were I ancient as the Earth,
My life is still a passing mist,
For it shall end. And what's Life worth
That's past, forgotten, gone, Death-kiss'd?
Would I could conquer Time's offense
And glance upon the evermore!
All else is but a vain pretense.
I seek a new celestial shore!
But Life is naught; my Death is sure.
And I must ask, "Doth aught endure?"
11. Poema Nicolai

Dear Stranger, Heed my caveat
Before the threshold Thou wouldst cross!
Lo! those who do departeth not.
They know 'twould be but to their loss.
For chancing 'pon our fam'd estate,
Escapest Thou Thine Earthly plane
And soarest past the pearly gate.
We live within the heav'nly fane!
Here, worlds are rent at our command,
The Sun is swallowed by the shade
And muses, form'd of shifting sand,
Perform th'eternal serenade
While gods assembled roll and rock.
But prithee, Ere Thou ent'rest, knock!


Weekly Review: February 26

My Government/Economics teacher gives us these every week, and I think it's worth putting here.

For an archive of previous weekly reviews, click here.

Also, sometimes it's a little biased (read: liberal). But those of you familiar with the American media should be used to that.

Is a Can of Beans Round or Square?

Interesting stuff, whether or not it's right.

Church Shopping

Roland S. Martin recently wrote an article (which is really excerpted and modified from his book Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith) about, among other things, why he left the Catholic church. The main reason he lists is lack of spiritual growth (in his words, his spirit "was no longer being fed"). His friend, theologian Dr. Cornel West (who looks like a black Karl Marx), said this:
Brother Martin, it's a rather common problem. You see, when I'm in a contemplative mood, I will attend a Catholic Church. There's something about the quietness of it that allows me to think and reflect on my issues. When I need to have my butt whipped, I will attend my old-fashioned black Baptist Church because of the strong delivery of the Word. Now, my wife is Ethiopian, and I don't know what they are saying, chanting and beating on the drums, but the rhythmic sounds they make is such a strong presence in me that it has a spiritual effect.
Now, I am in now way seeking to devalue the importance of religious experience; as I have written before, I see it as something beautiful. But I see two grave problems with Mr. Martin's and Dr. West's thinking.

(I am assuming, because I have been given no reason to believe otherwise, that Mr. Martin did not leave the Catholic Church for theological or doctrinal reasons.)

The first problem is spiritual. Our worship and spiritual growth should not depend solely on the music selections of our churches; although spiritual growth and worship are no doubt enhanced and buttressed by such sensory considerations (For me, It would be much easier to worship here than here), what truly drives them is our active love for God and others. Church should not be designed as a once-a-week spiritual high, but as a unique opportunity to worship collectively and encourage one another. This we can (or should be able to) do under any circumstances.

That being said, we should seek a church that can bolster us spiritually. If Mr. Martin had just changed parishes, I would not really be concerned. But in fact, he did more than that; he left the Catholic church itself. In doing so, he renounced certain theological and doctrinal positions which are not shared by Catholics and Protestants.

I hope that he considered the implications of this and studied accordingly. However, the impression the article gives is that he based his theological and doctrinal conversion on the ambiance of his church. This, in effect, subordinates theology and doctrine to "religious experience," a reversal of historical trends that marks the cultural cheapening of contemporary Christianity. (You know you like that alliteration.)

Does a priest's charisma or a choir's talent affect whether or not the pope is, in fact, the head of the visible church? Of course not! Yet Mr. Martin's actions tacitly imply this relationship. His article, in my mind, subjugates doctrinal truth to experiential meaning.

The problem is that every church and religious tradition in the world justifies itself by the religious experience of its proponents. In my mind, this mentality is dangerously close to relativism and pluralism (although, in fairness, I doubt Roland Martin would see it this way). But if religious experience can justify a transition from Catholicism to Protestantism, can it not also justify a transition from Catholicism to Islam (for example)? We know that what we feel at a certain church does not affect whether or not Jesus rose from the dead (a statement whose truth or falsehood is central to Catholicism and Islam).

This is not an isolated incident; more than ever, Americans are thinking of religious beliefs as choices made based on "what works." Religion is conceding far too much ground to scientism (as opposed to science) and culture; I see this as a concession in disguise.



So I didn't get this scholarship to BC I really wanted.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this has provided me an excellent opportunity for introspection, analyzing my reaction to the news. This rambles, by the way...

First of all, I'm not as depressed as I could have been, which is good. I guess I've just "focused on the positive" (as corny as it sounds) and tried to be happy for my friends who did get it (which I am). It hasn't worked completely, but it has helped. We all have so much to be grateful for in this country, it's a wonder we ever get depressed about anything.

Intellectually, I understood that my chances of getting the scholarship were approximately one in three (18-20 out of 57). But I don't think I really ever believed that. I considered the idea of rejection and mentally acknowledged its possibility, but I never really felt it. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is what I'll call the Lottery Mentality.

Even when we understand the odds, we (tend to) ignore them or actually believe they do not apply to us. If you buy a lottery ticket, you spend a whole lot of time thinking about what will happen when you win, even though the chances of your winning are abysmal. In my mind, I knew the scholarship wasn't a given, but my heart/soul/psyche never accepted that fact. Even after my mom told me over the phone that I hadn't received it, I honestly considered that she might have been lying to me to surprise me. (She actually admitted that she might have done that if I had gotten it.) Like the famous line in A Few Good Men, I couldn't handle the truth.

The other reason is simple pride (I'm speaking in the Christian sense of the word), my natural (and completely despicable) tendency to perceive myself as better or more entitled than others. (I'm not saying that I consciously considered myself better than anyone else. I'm just saying it would be in my nature to do so.) Though I understand that everything I have can be blamed on good luck, good genes, and a good God (in other words, not anything of my own doing), I tend to feel that I deserve things which I really don't. And so I was disappointed in a way I shouldn't have been.

The other thing I noticed was that BC became much more appealing and my other options much less so as soon as I was rejected. "The grass is always greener on the other side." (This, in my mind, is mankind's great tragedy.) All of a sudden, amazing schools that most people could never dream of (most people, after all, will never receive a post-secondary education) became musty, colorless, and boring to me. BC, in contrast, was almost apotheosized (if a college can be deified) in my mind.

Whenever something like this happens to me, I suffer from what I'll call anterograde nostalgia - an intense and poignant combination of longing and regret, not for what was, but for what might have been. I really would have loved to spend four years in such a close-knit community, to go to France, to live in a house for six weeks over the summer, etc. It would have been awesome. But it's not going to happen, and life somehow goes on.

It's kind of crazy if you think about it, though. Who I will become and who my best friends will be is being largely determined by strangers and admissions people. I always get depressed when I think about all the friendships that could have been...

It's important that we put everything, good and bad, in perspective. It would be stupid to invest any more of my happiness in college and earthly things; if I do, I'm playing Russian roulette with my happiness, because nothing is certain. In the end, I believe my happiness and self-satisfaction have to stem from love for God and for other people, because everything else simply fades...

How should I have thought about this scholarship? I shouldn't have even thought, "I hope I get it." I really should have thought, "I hope it is given to the people who need or deserve it the most." And then I should have reminded myself constantly that I neither needed nor deserved it as much as some of the other people.

So there you have it.


Our Screwed Up World

Sometimes, I wonder if my conservative bent isn't warranted.

Then Yale University does things like Yale Sex Week. And I realize that maybe I'm not crazy, after all.

(Don't worry, I still know I'm crazy.)

So to all the people at Yale, I have a few questions:
  1. Feminists, do you really think equality for women will come by reinforcing men's notion of women as objects of pleasure and arousal? And do you really think you're good-looking enough that men focused solely on sex and physical appearance will devote themselves to you monogamously or for extended periods of time? (In case you haven't figured it out, there are millions of women better-looking than you...no matter who you are. Call it Porter's Paradox.)
  2. You guys have a Family Values Week, right? Because I would hate to think Yale is biased...
  3. Don't you think this week could be offensive to "traditional" or "old-fashioned" students and faculty who don't think sex is an appropriate theme for an entire week at an institution of learning? Would you have a week that could possible offend African-Americans in a similar manner? Is there possibly a double standard in your idea of political correctness?
  4. Have you guys figured out the correlation between sex and sexually transmitted diseases yet? I'm glad you invited an executive from Trojan Condoms to present an undoubtedly unbiased view on sexual health.
  5. According to Sex Week's website, the program is designed to "pique students' interest" in sex. Um...do you really think they need any piquing?
  6. Do you think your students will want to meet the porn stars you invited on campus out of academic curiosity? Do you find porn stars more reputable than the military recruiters you don't allow on campus?
(End of rant.)

The Problem of Infinity: Our Paradoxical Reality

(Note: Everything here defies what I was taught in Calculus. Thus, it could all very well be completely wrong.)

How do you define 0?

Obviously, there are a few different ways. The simplest I can think of is to define it as the result when a number is subtracted from itself (x - x = 0). But 0 is much, much more interesting than that; 0 is also the reciprocal of infinity.

Why is that interesting? Because infinity is not truly a number, but an abstract concept. Therefore, 0 is not only a real number, but also an abstract concept. (Of course, numbers themselves are abstract concepts...) Therefore, 0 is not only that which is non-existent; it is also that which is infinitely small.

Basically, infinity, as a concept, is pretty frickin' important.

Mathematics, of course, has incorporated both zero and infinity. In such an abstract system, infinity flourishes; without the concept of infinity, we would not have calculus, God (Who is infinite in many ways), and many other extremely fun things.

The difficulty arises when infinity is incorporated into our physical reality. More than merely incorporating it, we have used infinity to define the beginning of the known physical universe; what is the Big Bang if not the universe divided by infinity?

According to today's accepted scientific theory (which is a pretty useless standard when you consider what "today's accepted scientific theory" meant in centuries gone by), the universe began as a singularity - a point of infinitely small size and infinite density, temperature, and space-time curvature. The size of this point was not merely extremely small; it was, in fact, 0. Regardless of the actual amount of matter and energy present in the singularity, its size, temperature and density would remain the same. Does that make sense?

Think about that for a second. (Eventually stop, because thinking about the universe's being compressed into nothingness should blow your mind.) According to this theory, the universe existed as a dimensionless single point at its beginning (t = 0). Now, of course, its energy, density, and other characteristics are finite. At some time t between t = 0 and t = now, the universe became finite. The question is: When?

The only answer that could possible make sense (to me) is that this transition from infinite to finite occurred instantaneously - but that explanation is just as inconceivable as the question it purportedly answers!

An instantaneous change implies continuous space-time. Continuity is something that is very nice in calculus; in reality, is is nothing short of awe-inspiring and perplexing. (For one, it is hard to reconcile strictly classical conceptions of continuity with quantum tunnelling.) You can keep dividing any interval of time in half and still get an interval of time that is greater than zero. In reality, you can reiterate this process an unending number of times and still have an interval greater than zero.

But wait! Isn't any constant divided by infinity zero? Technically, yes. But don't we define infinity as "the divisor for which the quotient will be 0, regardless of the dividend"? Infinity is sort of like i, which we arbitrarily define as the square root of -1. This does nothing to explain how a number squared can be negative; it only creates an "imaginary" number (Aren't all numbers imaginary?) to fill the void in our mathematical knowledge. We have done the same thing with infinity; we've used it as a plug-in for things we don't really understand.

Though we try to use infinity as a number to express real physical quantities, we should eventually realize that infinity doesn't behave like a number. Divide infinity by any number, and you'll get infinity (That also works with zero...). Add or subtract any number to it, and you'll still get infinity (That definitely doesn't work with zero...).

For me, this means describing the beginning of the universe as "infinite" - in any way - is breathtaking. And we should probably think about it more.

(Also, if you believe in God...a singularity is a great way to get the universe going.)


What's in a Word?

So as some of you may have heard, Barack Obama borrowed some of his lines from his friend Deval Patrick.

I could spend a few minutes ranting about the blatant hypocrisy and dishonesty of such an act, especially when Obama's best quality is his sententiousness.

But if you like Obama, you probably don't care, and if you don't, why bother?

So what interested me more was how different websites presented this modicum of news to their readers...
  1. (Fox News) Hillary Camp: Obama's 'Words' Just Plain Stolen
  2. (CNN) Obama, Clinton Camps Point to 'Borrowed Rhetoric'
Now, on Fox News' website, this story is the most prominent and visible (as of right now). On CNN's website, it's not even mentioned on the home page, but is instead buried in the Political Ticker. Fox's headline uses the word "stolen" and doesn't mention Obama's counter-accusation against Hillary, while CNN makes it seem like they're both in the same boat (which, in my opinion, is absurd) of "rhetoric-borrowers" (as opposed to "plagiarists," "liars," or "thieves").

So I think the conclusion is obvious: CNN is obviously biased in favor of Obama, while Fox News is fair and balanced.

(I'm kidding, I'm kidding!)


The Coolest Teenager in the World

Oh my goodness.

And I love his mother...

"'Originally, he wanted to build a hyperbaric chamber,' she said, adding that she promptly said no. But, when he came asking about the nuclear fusion machine, she relented."


Worship Is Beautiful

This summer, I traveled to southern Italy and Sicily with my family. While we were there, we were fortunate enough to see dozens of chiese, beautiful and ancient Italian churches.

While we were in Palermo (a fascinating city), we visited the Cattedrale di Palermo (Cathedral of Palermo). Inside, I saw a little old grandmother (I'm taking licentia poetica and assuming she had grandchildren), praying in complete silence. I was fascinated.

Even though I'm not Catholic, I saw something beautiful in that church. I think I would have seen the beauty of the moment in a mosque or synagogue as well, not because I think all religions are created equal, but because the connection between man and God is universal (although it manifests itself in many forms).

This past Sunday (second anecdote, for those keeping score at home), I went to church expecting a normal service. I got what I expected; the service was relatively normal. It began with a rendition of Michael W. Smith's Agnus Dei, a fairly typical (but nice) worship song. During the song, I was looking around and noticed a man in the congregation singing with his eyes closed and arms uplifted.

For whatever reason, something struck me about this man. I'm not sure what exactly it was; I had met him before, and maybe I just didn't expect that from him. (I'm kind of glad I can't pinpoint the reasoning behind this episode; it would feel like unweaving the rainbow to me...)

Regardless, my reaction was simple: I began to cry, first softly, and then to the extent that I had to sit down.

Why do I share these anecdotes? Because I believe there is something beautiful about worship. Reverence - for God, for Nature, or for almost anything - is something we should respect and cherish, because it is something I fear we are losing. Respect is becoming outdated; almost nothing (except for newfangled idiocies like "natural rights") is sacrosanct. "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold..."

Christianity, of course, has been especially hard-hit by this iconoclastic zeitgeist. Just a few centuries ago, the Western World was thought of as Christendom, and the Catholic church (for better or for worse) controlled nearly every aspect of society. Now, popular opinion can often be summarized by Francis Crick's tongue-in-cheek bon mot: "Christianity may be OK between consenting adults in private but should not be taught to young children."

I am not by any means advocating ecclesiocracy, or government by the church. (Theocracy, rule by God, is kind of impossible to avoid.) I also agree that Christians are to be blamed for this downfall; if our world is godless, it is because we are ungodly.

But now, a new criticism is being levied against the Christian God. Nonbelievers claim that no truly respectable god would require worship from his creation. After all, the argument goes, why would an omnipotent being "need" the praise of his creation?

Douglas Jacoby's response, in my opinion, is best. It is not God Who needs the worship; we need the worship. God does not want mindless submission, but love. "You must love the Lord your God with your whole mind, your whole being, and all your strength." (Deuteronomy 6:5, NET) What better definition for worship could there be?

Nevertheless, we are perplexed by worship, because we are perplexed by the idea that we should love God. The absence of this ideal - love for God - has affected how we perceive religion, morality, culture, justice, and almost anything else that matters. This absence is, in my mind, the great tragedy of our time (and of all time), because (speaking from experience) I can honestly say there is nothing quite like worshiping, nothing quite like loving God.

From an outsider's perspective, acts of worship (especially the more ritualistic or charismatic ones) can appear superstitious, strange, or superficial. I can understand that perspective because it is often my perspective.

But it should be impossible to deny the singularity and awesomeness of devotion to God, regardless of one's actual religious beliefs. (The best analogy, for the non-religious, would be reverence for Nature.) Any consideration of religion or God must center around the idea of loving Him. The idea that God's desire for worship somehow implicates him as an arrogant or megalomaniacal freak completely belies the passion people of all faiths and all cultures have shared for Him. St. Augustine said, "Our heart is restless until it rest in Thee."

You may not be able to accept that statement, but at least understand it.

(I wonder if any significance can be ascribed to his using a collective heart - "Our heart" - instead of individual hearts...)

Mao Zedong and Women

I just find this amazing...


Ode on a Grecian Urn

This is a great poem...if you understand the premise. Unlike many poems, the title actually means something; the poet is observing a Grecian urn and reflecting on the figures painted upon it. Once I figured that out, I realized that this was a beautiful poem.

(There are specific indentations for this poem, but Blogspot won't let me recreate them. Go here to see what I mean.)

John Keats

Thou still unravished bride of quietness,
Thou foster child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loath?
What mad pursuit? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endeared,
Pipe to the spirit deities of no tone.
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal - yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss
Forever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unweari
Forever piping songs forever new;
Moreo happy love! more happy, happy love!
Forever warm and still to be enjoyed,
Forever panting, and forever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloyed,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands dressed?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity. Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty" - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.


Real Mafia Nicknames

Sixty-two mafiosi were recently indicted as part of a federal probe of the Gambino crime family. And some of their names are priceless. The truth is stranger than fiction...
  1. Vincent "Elmo" Amarante
  2. Thomas "Tommy Sneakers" Cacciopoli
  3. Charles "Charlie Canig" Carneglia
  4. Joseph "Joe Rackets" Casiepe
  5. Domenico "The Greaseball" Cefalu
  6. Joseph "Joe Marco Polo" Chirico
  7. Joseph "Miserable" Corozzo
  8. Nicholas "Grandpa" Corozzo
  9. John "Jackie the Nose" D'Amico
  10. Vincent "Vinny Hot" Decongilio
  11. Leonard "Fatso" DiMaria
  12. Vincent "Skinny" Dragonetti (Can't believe they didn't play off his last name...)
  13. Robert "Bobby the Jew" Epifania
  14. Russell "Dead Eye" Ferrisi
  15. Joseph "Joe Gag" Gaggi
  16. Anthony "Buckwheat" Giammarino
  17. Ernest "Baldy" Grillo
  18. Anthony "Cheeks" Licata
  19. Anthony "Tony O" O'Donnell
  20. James "Tall Guy" Outerie
  21. John "Johnny Red Rose" Pisano
  22. Richard "Fat Richie" Ranieri
  23. William "Big Billy" Scotto
  24. Michael "Mike the Electrician" Urciuoli (Rare Italian triphthong in the last name there...)


Good Morning, Vietnam

A great combination of humor and drama. And Robin Williams basically improvises the whole movie, which is incredible. It does have its crude and vulgar moments, but what are you going to do? And it's based on a true story. (And doesn't Robin Williams look rakishly handsome?)

Holy Sonnet 10

John Gunther's Death Be Not Proud was named after this poem.
Holy Sonnet 10

John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have calléd thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, not yet cant thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

The Myth of the Burden of Proof

In the argument over God's existence, which side has the burden of proof? It is common for skeptics to suggest that the onus probandi lies with the theists, suggesting that atheism should be a sort of "default" metaphysic from which other worldviews must diverge. Any divergence is seen as intellectual suicide, because (as Carl Sagan said) "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." (This quote is plagiarized from Laplace's principle that "the weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness.") In effect, this position treats theism as an assertion requiring "extraordinary" evidence and atheism as a standard non-assertion.

Of course, this is completely asinine. The truth is that atheism asserts a closed, rational, physical reality existing alone and independent of anything else. Atheism does not merely deny the existence of God (as its name so misleadingly suggests), but also posits a natural universe that (somehow) explains its own existence. It is a physicalism in which the laws of physics explain everything and themselves. In my (diseased) mind, it is no less "extraordinary."

Furthermore, the very idea of "extraordinary claims" is completely subjective and non-philosophical. It is an egregious misuse of logic known variously as begging the question, circular reasoning, or (my favorite, because it sounds like a spell from Harry Potter) petitio principii. "The assertion that God exists is extraordinary, because God does not exists." Thank you, Carl Sagan. Why don't you smoke some more pot?

If anything, the burden of proof lies on physicalists, because they would deny humanity the undeniable spiritual benefits of faith. (This is a sort of corollary to Pascal's Wager.) We often ignore this consideration, but it is extremely important to acknowledge the human aspect of this discussion.

Regardless, in terms of proof alone, no burden of proof exists. To suggest otherwise is stupid.


Men Have Forgotten God

I thought this was really interesting. Custardy posted an excerpt, but I think the whole thing bears reading. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn himself is a fascinating man.

I'm not sure I completely agree with him; I think this was written in 1983, under the shadow of a still-extant Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. But even if our world has improved materially, I would agree that it is decaying spiritually and morally. (I am cognizant of my bias, as a conservative and a traditionalist, to idealize the past. I still think this is true, though.)

The irony is that religion is often blamed for many of the world's conflicts today, the most obvious example being today's Islamofascism. However, I could (and would) make the argument that these incredibly religious Muslims have forgotten God just as much (and perhaps even more) than most atheists. Because God is Love. Deus Caritas Est. And their damage pales in comparison to the atrocities perpetrated by Stalin.

(I also might disagree with what he said about nuclear bombs. Not sure.)

Regardless, it is a fresh and different perspective on the state of modern society. I'm sure it is also controversial.

Racist PSAT Questions

"Returning to her home town after a twenty-year absence, the desperate poverty Savka saw there shocked and saddened her."

Why is this PSAT writing question so racist?

Isn't it funny that John is never involved with poverty-stricken home towns? Instead, Savka is. Savka, of course, is a name with no obvious racial or cultural associations (unless you think random Croatian names are readily apparent to the average American). But isn't this blatantly racist against people with weird names? That only they would have poverty-stricken hometowns?

I just thought the political incorrectness of their attempt at political correctness was ironic.

She Walks in Beauty

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!