When an article from my "to blog" backlog, a recent post from one of my blogging contacts, and an article from the most recent issue of a magazine I respect all converge, I can take that as a good suggestion for today's post.

Jennifer Fulwiler writes the Conversion Diary blog (formerly "Et Tu?"), which I've featured before (here, among other places).  This is her article in America.  John C. Wright is a science fiction writer.  It was his blog post that alerted me to the First Things article.  Read his introduction, but don't settle for his summary of the article.  Instead, read Mary Eberstadt's The Vindication of "Humanae Vitae" yourself. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 11:04 am | Edit
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Whatever you think about John Edwards, he isn't stupid, and choosing to admit his adulterous affair while our attention was focused on the Olympic opening ceremonies was probably a smart move.

Russia isn't stupid, either.  They couldn't hope to invade another country without generating some controversy, but doing so while the eyes of much of the world and even more of the news media are on events in Beijing gives them a good chance of being ignored, at least long enough to accomplish their purposes. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 8:21 am | Edit
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Whenever I despair about unnecessary governmental interference in our lives and families, it's good to be reminded that we could be educating our children in Germany or giving birth in Israel.  Think about the Israeli system next time you're tempted to believe the government should be more involved in our health care.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, August 1, 2008 at 12:34 pm | Edit
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John C. Wright's post about his discussion with a utopian communist awakened memories of my own encounters with people who look back with affection to the time of the 1960s and 70s.  It's probably good, in general, that human beings tend to forget the sorrows of the past and remember it with a golden tinge, but when it's the sufferings of others, rather than our own, that we ignore, we are in danger of making grievous mistakes.

No age (nor philosophy) has a monopoly on evil, and I'm the first to admit both that my own life was largely insulated from the pain of that time and that some good things came from it, but the era was one of selfishness, incivility, and disastrous policies unequalled in my (admittedly limited) experience.  Worse, it was the spawning-ground for much future harm.

Perhaps if more people remembered those decades with suspicion, rather than admiration, the present age wouldn't be as likely as it threatens to repeat them. 
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 6:15 am | Edit
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Mike Thomas, an Orlando Sentinel columnist, has had a special place in our hearts ever since he interviewed Heather for a magazine article about her summer camp experiences.  That I often disagree with his opinions in no way keeps me from appreciating his intelligence and writing skills.

His recent column, The Sea Is Coming, makes the excellent point that, whatever we do or don't do about global warming, or global cooling, we in Florida are fighting a losing battle against natural forces.  Florida's coastline comes and goes, advances and retreats, and the worst thing we can do is to cover it with lots of big, expensive buildings.  The second worst is to encourage that overgrowth, as we do, with government-subsidized property insurance—considered necessary because real insurance companies know how foolish it is to build one's house upon the sand while standing in a hurricane's path. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 8:46 am | Edit
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Sophie Scholl: The Final Days is a simply made but powerful German film (with English subtitles) about a young woman arrested for treason after distributing some anti-Nazi leaflets.  Don't expect a happy ending; the setting is Nazi Germany, where happy endings were few.  Nonetheless I recommend the movie highly.  Such depictions of goodness and heroism are rare—much less without resorting to graphic violence or sentimentalism.

Four things struck me in particular: (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 29, 2008 at 10:42 am | Edit
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I don't recall the era of the 1960s with fondness; it wasn't all bad, but it was a messy, unkind time that accelerated our culture's decline in the areas of civility and decent behavior.  However, there must be more of the 60s in my make-up than I thought:  I'm finding good reasons to distrust The Man.  :)

Just as the National Education Association adamantly opposes home education, the American Medical Association, unnerved, perhaps, by Ricki Lake's popular home birth movie, The Business of Being Born, has taken direct aim at home birth.*  Reaction against yet one more threat to personal freedom has come from across the political spectrum, from the far left to the far right.  Congratulations to the AMA for provoking agreement between pro-choice and pro-life groups.  Wink (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 4:53 pm | Edit
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In considering the Supreme Court's nullification of Louisiana's law that allows a death sentence for one convicted of raping a child, I asked, Shouldn't the question before the Court be, "Is there anything in the Constitution of the United States that prohibits the State of Louisiana from imposing this sentence?"

The Court's subsequent decision on the District of Columbia's ban on individual ownership of handguns addressed the issue in just that way:  Is there anything in the Constitution that prohibits the city from imposing such a law?  "Yes," they concluded— although the vote was shockingly close.  The Second Amendment confers a right to gun ownership that this law attempts to take away.  I applaud the decision, not because I like the idea of a gun in the hand of every irresponsible idiot, but because it was the right answer to the right question.  If our society has diverged so much from our origins that the "right of the people to keep and bear arms" is no longer tenable, we, the people of the United States, have the right and power to take it away via a new Constitutional amendment. The Court's job is to examine the law in light of the Constitution as it stands

I have not taken the time to read the entire, lengthy decision, but even a cursory glance shows how critical to sound decision-making is a good understanding of not only law, but also history, grammar, linguistics, and above all logic.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, June 27, 2008 at 9:06 am | Edit
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In an earlier post on the Lisbon Treaty, I stated

[I]n the U.S. we have seen state laws gradually subsumed more and more by national regulation, so that fleeing to Pennsylvania from a repressive law in New York is not as easy as it once was.  I'm not saying this is always bad, but it can be, and bears watching.

I"m watching, and here's an example I saw today.  The U. S. Supreme Court has nullified a Louisiana law allowing for a sentence of the death penalty following conviction for the rape of a child under 12. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 6:44 pm | Edit
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We throw the term "witch hunt" around pretty loosely, but when it comes to child abuse accusations, apparently it's more accurate than not, at least in one Canadian city, where school officials reported sexual abuse of one of their students on the basis of a psychic's suggestion.  As Random Observations noted, the last time we accepted that kind of evidence in North America was during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

In this case, the child's mother was able to refute the accusation successfully, because the nature of her daughter's disability, combined with the fact that her elementary school had "lost" her several times, had prompted her to equip the girl with a GPS and a continuous audio monitor that provided clear evidence that the accusation was false.  How many other parents could have proven their innocence so easily?

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, June 21, 2008 at 1:53 pm | Edit
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A local man makes his living selling political propaganda, including campaign buttons.  Like a mercenary soldier, he plays all sides.  He feeds off bumper sticker philosophy, thumb-your-nose attitudes, and mocking humor.  It's not exactly the world's most useful occupation, certainly not among the more charitable.  But from the reaction to his "If Obama is president, will we still call it the White House?" button, you'd think Jonathan Alcox was a substantially lower form of life than drug pusher or Mafia don, just barely above child pornographer.

Barack Obama does not deny—indeed, he profits from—his partially African heritage.  I fail to see anything at all racist about that button; if being aware of someone's ancestry is racist, then we all are, including Obama's supporters, and the term has no meaning other than as an epithet to throw at our opponents when we run out of rational arguments.  If truth is no longer a defense, what hope have we for justice? (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, June 20, 2008 at 8:10 am | Edit
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In honor of Father's Day, I present an article that's a bit more challenging than my normal light fare.  It's from John Mauldin's InvestorsInsight financial newsletter, and is actually an excerpt from a book called A Roadmap For Troubling Times by Louis-Vincent Gave.  The article is The Problem with the Euro, and the excerpt begins a bit down the page, at "The Change in Policy."

It's heavy going, but one interesting thing I took from it, thanks to some help from my own Personal Economist (aka Porter) is this:  Countries, unlike people and businesses, don't go bankrupt—because they can always print more money.  Yes, that brings on inflation and a whole host of problems, but it keeps them in business.  However, this is no longer true of the countries of the European Union.  France, which is struggling under a national debt of 70% of its GDP, can no longer cover itself by printing more francs, since its present currency, the euro, is outside of its control.  Many other European countries are in similar straits. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 15, 2008 at 5:16 am | Edit
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Ireland's 3 million voters will decide on a document representing the 490 million people in the European Union.

You can look at it that way, and when you do, it sounds unfair that the success or failure of the Lisbon Treaty, which would create a new governing treaty for the European Union, should stand or fall based on what the Irish decide.  But so it is with democracy; in a close race, one person's vote can decide the fate of an entire country.  Not that it ever does, but it could.

I don't know enough to judge the Lisbon Treaty itself; it may be good or bad in the main, but I can say I am pleased that Ireland is standing by its own constitution, which requires that anything affecting the Irish constitution be decided by the Irish citizens themselves.  The Dutch and French people have already been railroaded by their own governments. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, June 13, 2008 at 6:48 am | Edit
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Thanks to John C. Wright for bringing to my attention Story Time by Andrew Klavan, in City Journal.

Read it. It may frustrate you, it may make you despair, it may inspire you; it will certainly break your heart.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18)

Let me write a nation's songs, and I care not who writes its laws. (various attributions)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, June 6, 2008 at 8:14 am | Edit
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I don't enjoy reporting bad news, really.  It makes me sound old and curmudgeonly.  Okay, so I am old and curmudgeonly, but that's beside the point.  So today I feature an exciting story from the Philadelphia Inquirer:  Midwife Diane Goslin has emerged victorious from a court case in which the State of Pennsylvania accused her of practicing medicine without a license by assisting at home births.  (See my previous post.)  The author of the article, Angela Couloumbis, and the headline writer who created the title, Birthing Women Win Legal Decision understand that this victory is not about one person's profession, but about one of our most basic freedoms:  choosing where and with whom we will give birth to our children.

I could point out that some of the rejoicing may be premature: the State is considering appealing the decision, and the court only dealt with the charge of practicing medicine, not with the problem that Pennsylvania is not among the 22 states in this country that recognize the Certified Professional Midwife license.  There is cause for joy, to be sure, but not for letting down our guard.  But we'll take our victories one at a time, and be thankful for daily bread even if we're not certain of next week's provision.

Anything less would be curmudgeonly.
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 10:00 am | Edit
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