The Georgia Runoff

Tuesday, 01-05-2021

 

The Georgia senatorial runoff election is today.  Every living soul there should vote.  The dead surely will.

 

Told You So

Monday, 01-04-2021

 

I posted the following item in July, when the “fact checkers” were telling us how honest the coming election would be and how ridiculous it was to have any doubts about massive rule changes such as drastically expanded mail-in voting.  As we now know, what happened on November 3rd was worse than even skeptics like me expected.

Of course now the fact-checkers are saying that’s not true either.  “You say you actually saw the fraud happening on video?  Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

+++++  +  +++++

Mail-In Voting Fraud

Posted 25 July 2020

 

 

Common sense urges that the easier it is to commit crime and the harder it is to detect it, the more crime will be committed.  Against common sense, the “fact-checkers” are out in force, chanting in unison that very little fraud is associated with mail-in voting.

How would we know?  The same things that make such fraud easy to commit also make it difficult to discover.

Studies claiming that there is very little mail-in voting fraud actually find nothing of the kind; what they tend to find is that very few discovered errors in vote counts can be proven to have resulted from voter impersonation.

If you are trying to mess with an election, the idea is not to be discovered.

Besides, voter impersonation is not the only form of fraud; for example one can “lose” ballots.

Wait until mail-in voting becomes universal.  Then watch crooked party activists pull out the stops.

Moral:  Always prefer common sense to a "fact check" with flawed assumptions.

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The Object of a New Year

Friday, 01-01-2021

 

The divisions of time are arranged so that we may have a start or shock at each reopening of the question.  The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year.  It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes.  It is that we should look out instantaneously on an impossible earth; that we should think it very odd that grass should be green instead of being reasonably purple; that we should think it almost unintelligible that a lot of straight trees should grow out of the round world instead of a lot of round world growing out of the straight trees.  The object of the cold and hard definitions of time is almost exactly the same as those of the cold and hard definitions of theology; it is to wake people up.  Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions.  Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.  Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards.  Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Of such dramatic renascences New Year's Day is the great example.  Doubtless this division of time can be described as an artificiality; but doubtless also it can be described more correctly, as a great artificial thing ought always to be described--that is, as one of the great masterpieces of man.  Man has, as I have urged in the case of religion, perceived with a tolerable accuracy his own needs.  He has seen that we tend to tire of the most eternal splendors, and that a mark on our calendar, or a crash of bells at midnight maybe, reminds us that we have only recently been created.  Let us make New Year resolutions, but not only resolutions to be good.  Also resolutions to notice that we have feet, and thank them (with a courtly bow) for carrying us.

-- G.K. Chesterton, from a column in the Daily News, reprinted in Lunacy and Letters. 

 

The True Commencement of Our Life

Friday, 12-25-2020

 

In adoring the birth of our Saviour, we find we are celebrating the commencement of our own life.  For the birth of Christ is the source of life for Christian folk, and the birthday of the Head is the birthday of the body.

Although every individual that is called has his own order, and all the sons of the Church are separated from one another by intervals of time, yet -- as the entire body of the faithful being born in the font of baptism is crucified with Christ in His passion, raised again in His resurrection, and placed at the Father's right hand in His ascension -- so with Him are they born in this nativity. ...

For unless He came down to us in this humiliation, no one would reach His presence by any merits of his own.

-- St. Leo the Great, Nativity Sermon 6.

 

Treats! Treats! Revisited

Monday, 12-21-2020

 

Before getting to the real business of today’s post, I’d like to announce that an interview with me about “Thomas Aquinas on Prudence and Other Virtues (That We Seem to Have Lost)” is now available on my Talks Page.  The interview was conducted by the Austin Institute, an excellent organization that does a lot of things, including the podcast series of which this interview is part.  If you’d like to know more about Thomas Aquinas’s wisdom about the virtues, take a look at my Commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Virtue Ethics.

Whew!  Now to our real subject.  Although this isn’t a baking website, one of the most popular posts ever to appear on this blog was a holiday baking tip from my superbly talented wife.  It was a way to dip cookies in chocolate without having to make a ganache to keep the coating from running.  To continue the holiday treats tradition, here a tip for making better cream cheese frosting.

When making it, just add 1/4 cup of powdered buttermilk to whatever cream cheese frosting recipe you ordinarily use.  My wife likes to give credit:  She got the idea from America’s Test Kitchen.  For the powdered buttermilk, she uses Saco brand cultured buttermilk blend, which will be on the baking shelf of your local grocery store, but there must be other brands.

Frosting made with the addition of powdered buttermilk has a lovely consistency, and for some reason, even though the quantity of sugar isn’t changed, making it this way cuts its usual teeth-hurting sweetness.  I like that, because most frostings are too sweet for me.

Cream cheese frosting is used on lots of cakes, including carrot cake, Italian cream cake, and the contemporary version of red velvet cake -- although the classical frosting for red velvet cake isn’t cream cheese frosting, but ermine frosting (also known as heritage frosting), which, for red velvet cake, is even better.  (We think so, anyway.)

There – you got two baking tips for the price of one.  And I hope you’ll enjoy the podcast too.

Related:

Treats!  Treats!

 

The Heap Theory of Human Personhood

Monday, 12-14-2020

 

An interesting claim was offered in class discussion one day.  The students were discussing the famous, or infamous, 1999 exchange between Senators Santorum and Boxer about partial-birth abortion, in which Boxer refused to specify any point, even after birth, at which the child was entitled to Constitutional protection as a human person.

Student reactions fall all over the map.  Some criticize Boxer for refusing to answer, others sympathize with her because she was being pressed to answer a question she preferred not to.

To one of my students, Santorum’s line of questioning seemed unfair, because it supposed that one is either a person or not.  Well, I think that one is, from the moment of conception.  In my student’s view, though, personhood is a matter of degree.  Asking “What makes someone a person?” is like asking “How many grains of sand have to be added together they count as a heap?”

Call this the Heap Theory of human personhood.  Many of the public would agree with it.  Just as a larger group of grains may be more like a heap than a smaller one, you may be more like a person than I am.  On a 100-point personhood scale, perhaps you’re a 62, but I’m only a 51. 

People who hold this view never think through its implications.  If the premise is true, then we ought to initiate a rigid caste system, because the desires of those who are higher on the personhood scale should trump the desires of those who are lower -- even as to questions such as who shall be permitted to live.

 

How Are You Doing in the Pandemic?

Monday, 12-07-2020

 

Reader's Query:

An overseas friend asks “How are you handling the return to classes?  Are you doing everything online in your country?

 

Reply:

At my own university, only 5% of this semester’s classes are being held entirely in person.  Some are hybrid, but most are entirely online.  The university is like a ghost town.  I belong to the minority who have elected to teach entirely in person.  After a long spring, it was good to be with the students again, but it has been strange to conduct class discussions in almost-empty classrooms with persons speaking through sound-absorbing barriers who can't see each other’s faces.  Physical presence itself has become a lot like Zoom.

Surprisingly, the young people are careful about keeping their distance.  Many of them wear masks not only indoors, where face coverings are required, but even outdoors, which seems unnecessary because people in the open air are usually separated by great distances.  Course enrollments are capped at a small fraction of room capacity, and the rooms are well-ventilated.  Despite all this, and despite the fact that teachers are almost always at least twelve feet from students during classes, faculty are required to wear masks even while lecturing.

Off campus, the hypocrisy of public officials continues.  In November, the mayor of my city streamed a video urging citizens to stay home, because “we may have to close things down if we are not careful.”  He didn’t mention that he was streaming it from Mexico, where he was on vacation.

Hypocrisy alternates with hysteria.  The original goal of “flattening the curve” has long been forgotten.  Many months ago it morphed into eliminating all infections, which is impossible.  By that standard we should follow the same rules during every flu season.  In fact, we should follow them all the time.  After all, someone is always sick with something.

That’s how it is in my country.  How is it in yours?