Catholics in gov't (reply)

Originally, this was going to be just a comment to a friend's post with the same title, but it was getting a bit long, so I decided to post it here. (Besides, I needed to post something today anyway.)

I'm only tangentially interested in the current judical nominee story. In a nutshell, it appears that some of Bush's nominee's are held up in committee, rather than being subjected to an up-or-down vote in the Senate. I think that is reprehensible - regardless of personal politics, the Seante should do the President and the nominees the courtesyof a vote. You may not agree with the nominee's political views, but that's not really the issue. If they are competent, confirm them, and if not, vote against them. Be prepared to argue your case to your fellow Senators and your constituents, but to propose an indefinite delay in such a simple matter strikes me as obstructionist.

Now, Kyle asked the following question:

Kerry, Catholic, pro-choice, acting against his church in accordance with what he believes: bad (and, as an after thought, excommunicated).
Pryor, Catholic, pro-life, acting against his church and against what he believes: good.

As a commenter (correctly) noted, the judge is not really in a position to actually affect change. The largest role the judge could play would be in agreeing to actually hear Roe v. Wade related cases, and even then, barring a substantial change in the SCOTUS, any decision against Roe v. Wade would be overturned on appeal. Kerry, on the other hand, is a legislator, and is in a position to affect change. If his votes are not in tune with the wishes of his constituents, they are free to vote him out of office.

Kyle notes (again, correctly, IMO), that this wrangling is mostly a distraction. I read an article (NY times - use BugMeNot if you don't feel like registering) which discusses the issue. Basically, Roe v. Wade was a terrible decision - again, personal feelings aside, it relied on an implied right in the Constitution, and was never subjected to the normal democratic process. At the time of its decision, people were engaged in a lively debate over whether or not abortion should be legal, what restrictions should be in place, the financial role of the goverment, and so forth. The SCOTUS took all that debate away from the public, and imposed a fiat ruling.

It is my belief that, were Roe v. Wade overturned, you would still see abortion as a legal option in most states. It might be limited to first or second trimester, there might be informed consent laws, there might be "only rape or incest" laws. But, the people would have made the decision. And, normally, when you fight for a cause in a democratic fashion, losing isn't as bad - you can always try again in the next election. You don't have the same option when judicial fiat occurs.


It's Sunday. . . .

Which means, as usual, that we have lost cable and internet. Every Sunday, like clockwork, we lose our cable connection for a couple hours. It might not be every Sunday, but it certainly happens more often than not.

Maybe it's just the cable company's way of saying that we should spend more quality time with our son.


Title IX

Yesterday, I read an opinion piece in the Daily Illini. The main thrust of the opinion piece is that a recent change to Title IX is wrong, and needs to be changed.

Ironically enough, I agree that Title IX needs some changes. Here are some good reasons:

WMU's Matt Sackrider finishes 42nd in Boston Marathon - if you read the article, you find out that he was in the CC and Track programs, until they got cut. Well, the men's programs got cut - the women's programs are still in place.

WMU men have: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Soccer, Tennis
WMU women have: Basketball, Cross Country, Golf, Gymnastics, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Track and Field, Volleyball.

Let's try my alma mater:

Men: Baseball, Basketball, Cheerleading, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Tennis, Track and Field, Wrestling
Women: Basketball, Cheerleading, Cross Country, Golf, Gymnastics, Soccer, Softball, Swimming/Diving, Tennis, Track and Field, Volleyball.

My alma mater used to have a Men's Diving Team. They were nationally ranked the year that they got cut. They used to have men's fencing - axed for "budget reasons".

As this article states, the problem is not in the basic concept of Title IX, but in the implimentation. At the high school level, men outnumber women in athletic programs by almost 2:1. To try and achieve parity at the collegiate level is to deny thousands of men their opportunity to play.

And thinking of equality - why is there the massive push to get more women into engineering (a field dominated by men), but no equal push to get more men into education (a field dominated by women)?



Several months ago, I agreed to trim and prime some miniatures for Reaper Games. In exchange, I get some amount of free product, and the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from helping a game company that I really like.

I was expecting maybe one hundred, possibly as many as one hundred fifty figures. It sounds like a lot, but trimming the flash from a miniature is something I can do during commercial breaks, or during Kevin's naptime. And priming takes almost no time at all - even that many figures should only take 20 minutes with a good spray primer.

Imagine my suprise when UPS drops off a 30 pound package at my door. Now, to put this in perspective, a big bag of potatoes weighs a bit more than 10 pounds. Pick up three of them, and you're about there.

It wasn't one hundred miniatures. It was three hundred and fifty. Much more than I expected.

They were dropped on my doorstep at the very end of Feubrary. I finished priming them all earlier this afternoon.

I haven't worked on them every day. I've taken days off, weekends off, you name it. But they're done, and well before the deadline, though not quite as early as I had initially hoped. Maybe I should have taken less time off.

As a reward, I went out and bought more miniatures. At least this time, I get to keep all that hard work. Of course, I also need to paint them, too. . . .


Happy tax day

Yes, it's April 15th, and the final hours are ticking away before you have to have your deadlines filed. Just think, you are doing your civic duty by handing over a rather large sum of money for the federal government to spend.

And spend it they shall. Of course, it's not going to be enough, so they'll just run a deficit again.

I'm not blaming the current administration for that - I'm blaming almost every politician. See, they forgot the other half of that "tax cuts increase revenue" equation. You have to reduce spending, or at least reign it in. Instead, spending keeps going up - at some point, people are going to wake up and realize that they spend until mid-April working just to earn enough money to pay the government.

That's right. Until sometime this month, every dime you make, of your gross income, goes to pay taxes in one form or another. Depressing, isn't it?

(When Tax Freedom Day rolls around, I'll provide some links and other neat stuff.)

I did decide to include this. The original author is unknown (according to Snopes), and while the real world is a little more messy than the example, the basic concept is correct.

How Taxes Work . . .

This is a VERY simple way to understand the tax laws. Read on -- it does make you think!!

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men — the poorest — would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh $7, the eighth $12, the ninth $18, and the tenth man — the richest — would pay $59.

That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement — until one day, the owner threw them a curve (in tax language a tax cut).

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." So now dinner for the ten only cost $80.00.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six — the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, Then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59. Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free.

But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man who pointed to the tenth. "But he got $7!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar, too . . . It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!".

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man, "why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered, a little late what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill! Imagine that!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction.



I know this shouldn't bother me, but it does. I enter into discussions on various forums (this, this, and this), usually in the "General Discussion" area (though one has a specific "Beekeepers" section, for inflammatory posts). I'm a pretty reasonable guy - I can agree when my opponent has a good point, and I expect them to do the same. I know that I don't have all the answers, and I hope that others can do the same.

After all, the Internet is, in theory, a perfect marketplace of ideas. It's the ultimate in free speech and a wonderful medium for exchanging ideas. But, why, oh why, does Godwin's Law (or some reasonable facsimile thereof) get invoked so often? I'm starting to not bother with the disussions. Consider:

On one board, there is a discussion on prisons and Operation FALCON. One guy has basically bowed out of the discussion, claiming that until we "stop imprisoning a disproportionately poor and brown segment of the population for trivial and non-violent offenses" he's not going to discuss it. I know that he has a point, albeit a minor one - the bigger determinant factor of prison time is actually gender. But, I also know, from experience, that the majority of people aren't going to want to read any evidence on that, because it doesn't fit with preconceived notions.

On another forum, there is an active discussion on the "Kill Bush" t-shirts (on Cafe Press). I have no problem saying that the shirts are way over the top - regardless of Bush, Kerry, Little Green Men from Alpha Centauri, it's still advocating the assassination of the POTUS. Heck, I denounced a parody - it's not as bad, but it's in the same continuum. How hard is it to admit that both sides have a point? One can disagree with one's political opponent, and still be friends with them.

I'm sure I could find more. There's probably three or four threads per day to which I actually feel compelled to contribute. Invariably, the volatile ones devolve into name-calling and bickering. What happened to the reasoned discussion we should be having? Would everyone act the same way if we were actually face-to-face?

I hope not. . . . but the cynic in me says otherwise.


Nope, haven't gone away, just haven't felt much like posting. I've been a little burned out lately, with a lot of things taking up my time. As a result, I've just let this slide (as well as some other things). It looks like things are finally clearing up some, and I might begin posting on a regular basis again.

I've got several entries that are started, but I haven't done enough to even post the snippets yet - you'd get to read sentence fragments and random phrases. I realize that many blogs are written in that manner, but I have endeavored thus far to avoid it, and will continue to do so in the future. Maybe it makes me pretentious, maybe it means I have a respect for the English language. You can make that decision.


For sale. . .

One christmas tree, some assembly required.


Okay, so I'm kidding. But, it's the time of year again, when a young man's thoughts turn to cleaning up the yard from all the junk that accumulated there over the winter. And, of course, since this is a new house, I have a whole new list of things to do.



Kevin's first word was, actually, "bye-bye". Technically, it was a lot closer to "bu-bu", but it was definitive - he knew that he said it when people or (more importantly) cars/trucks went away. (Truck "uck" was word number two - which tells you where we rank in the heirarchy of his world.) Recently, Kevin has really been wanting to explore the world outside the house.

Normally, this is a good thing. It has certainly made running errands easier. All I have to do is mention "bye-bye" and he starts for the door. He also heads for the door when I grab his socks, shoes or coat, or when my wife starts getting ready for work in the morning. He pounds on it, saying "Bye-bye" until one of us comes to get him.

The downside, of course, is that he wants to go out. A lot. All the time. He'll play in the house, but whenever he gets bored, or sees something outside that catches his eye, he's headed for the door.

It's still a little chilly, but I think this weekend, we will fill his sandbox and move some of his outside toys (like his little red wagon) up from the basement, so that trips to the backyard are at least a little easier.


Requiescat in pace

Pope John Paul II has died. The world is a sadder place today. He might not have been as progressive as some Catholics would have liked, but he was firm in his beliefs and his love for God and Church.

It has been said that the truest measure of greatness is to leave the world in a better place than you found it. He did that.