Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Subway Mocks America Overseas

"Why are Americans so fat?" ask Subway subs tray-liners in Germany, which feature an image of a tubby Lady Liberty holding a burger and fries. The tray-liners also feature a quote from Michael Moore: "The only time I have been scared for my life has been going through a McDonald’s drive-thru." The irony, of course, is that Michael Moore is himself morbidly obese. To paraphrase Mr. Burns: he's the fattest thing I've ever seen, and I've been on safari. The idea that anyone ought to be taking his dietary advice is more than a little laughable.

Here's the German-language tray-liner.

Here's the Southern Appeal post on this subject.

Here's the Corner post on this subject.

Anime Me

That Wacky John Kerry

I didn't see his speech last night. (I watched a grand total of about five minutes of the Democratic National Convention.) Did he really say that the Fourth Commandment ("honor thy father and thy mother") prohibits privatizing Social Security? What a mind this guy has! Life begins at conception, but the Fifth Commandment doesn't require that we protect that life. But meddle, even on the margins, with the American system of old-age pensions devised in the 1930s, and you're on the fast-track to Hell.

Woe to all those good Christian princes now damned to fire and torment because they did not see, as John Kerry sees, the truth: no one comes to the Father except through Social Security.

(to put it differently.)

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Ahhh!!! I Want My Fourth Wall Back!

Triumph, the Insult Comic dog, interviewing a pro-life protester outside of the Democratic Convention. I don't know about you, but I like my Robert Smigel safely off camera, thank you very much.

What's the Deal with the Paulists?

Here's a Weekly Standard on John Kerry's home church, which is run by the Paulist Fathers. It's an interesting article, which I recommend to you. (For what it's worth, I think it says a lot about the difference between John Kerry and I that he attends this church while I attend this one.)

Here's the issue that jumped out at me from the Weekly Standard piece (which, I should note, I found via a link from Amy Welborn's blog): the author reports that Kerry's church, the Paulist Center, says a truncated version of the Nicene Creed during the celebration of Mass.
During the Nicene Creed, for example, the sections on believing in only "one Lord" ("We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God . . .") and only "one holy Catholic and apostolic Church" are excised from the prayer.
I've never been to the Paulist Center, so I don't know if they actually do this, but for the sake of argument let's stipulate that the report is accurate. Isn't this a big deal? At least as big a deal as filioque?

My assumption is that the people running the Paulist center have excised these sections from the Creed because they don't believe they're true, or at least because they don't believe that it's necessary to believe they're true to be a faithful Catholic. The thing is, unless I'm mistaken it in fact is necessary to believe those things to be Catholic. That's why they're in the Creed. I just can't imagine how you can be a Catholic and not believe in the sole lordship of Jesus Christ (or in his sole-begotten-Son-ship) or in the unity, catholicity and apostolicity of the Church. That's certainly not all you have to believe (the role of the See of Peter comes to mind), but I've got to believe that they're non-negotiable requirements.

So my question is: is this localized at this one church? Or is this the position of the Paulist Fathers as a whole? If it's the position of the Order, oughtn't something to be done? Not that Archbishop O'Malley (or, for that matter, the Pope) should start dishing out excommunications and anethemas like they're going out of style. But shouldn't someone take these guys aside and remind them, in a brotherly way, that these issues were sorted out 1,500 years ago?

Q: Why is the Pope better than Steven King?

A: Unlike King, he's still churning out books at an inhuman rate.

As true today as it was in the thirteenth century: popes are higher than kings.

I have to say I find the Pope's hyper-productivity simply astonishing. If I have one-tenth that guy's energy when I'm a Parkinsons-suffering septuagenarian, I'll be a happy, happy man. I'm really going to miss the guy when he's gone.

(link via the Shrine of the Holy Whapping)

New-cue-lar; New-clee-ar

Father Tucker raises the "how is the word 'nuclear' pronounced?" issue. My two cents on this subject (not that anyone cares): why can't we just accept that "new-cue-lar" / "new-clee-ar" is just a difference of regional pronunciation, and move on? If tomato can be "toe-MAH-toe" or "toe-MAY-toe", and aunt can be "ant" or "ont"; if broach can be "brow-ch" or "brew-ch"; if jewelry can be "jule-ree" or "jew-ell-ree"; and on and on ad infinitum, why can nuclear be both "new-cue-lar" and "new-clee-ar"? It's clearly not an issue of clarity or confusion; when a Texan talks about "new-cue-lar wippens", you know he's referring to ICBMs, and the like. The insistence that "new-clee-ar" is the only acceptable pronunciation for the non-buffoon strikes me as nothing but snobbery, a desire to hold up Northern English as the one true English, with Southern pronunciations being some kind of degenerate dialect. T'aint so, suh, t'aint so.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Condolences Welcomed & Appreciated

To quote the late, great Warren Zevon: poor, poor pitiful me.

I don't usually blog about my job, because I don't think it would be especially interesting to anyone else, and also because I'm wary I might say something I regret. Working in criminal prosecution as I've been doing, I tend to see people who are, if not at their worst, at least in dire straits. I'd hate to speak ill of them, even anonymously, unnecessarily. I also don't want to say something about a judge or a prosecutor who I might need to ask for a recommendation at some point, and have it get back to them, and upset them. (For the record, I like and respect all the people I work for and with. Yes, even the public defenders.) The decision to suspend the above general rule of thumb was based on the important-moment-in-my-life status of today's events, and on a firm belief that no-one but myself would have an interest in keeping them undisclosed to the handful of people who actually read this thing.

I lost my first trial today. It was a motor vehicle case, a running a red light. I successfully proved that the defendant committed the actus reus (did the proscribed acts) and that he had at least the requisite mens rea (basically, the level of intent). Indeed, the defendant admitted, repeatedly, on the record, under oath, that he had run the red light. But, at the end of the trial, the judge decided, in light of the circumstances, to find the defendant "not guilty". I won't go into what the circumstances were here; if you're genuinely curious, email me and I'll try to get back to you. Suffice it to say they're nothing especially exotic; the defendant didn't run the red light while in pursuit of Osama bin Laden, or anything. But they were enough to get this gentleman off on the charges.

Losing my trial was a burr in my side most of the night. It stinks losing in general, and it was especially frustrating to lose after having proved everything I thought I was required to prove. Especially since the other intern in my office won his motor vehicle case, in front of the same judge, only yesterday. So I stewed over it for a while. But after a couple hours, and a big Chinese buffet dinner, and a few fine malt beverages, I feel better. Life goes on, I suppose, as will my illustrious internship. I have other trials to prepare for (not mine, don't worry) and a very busy day in courtroom A tomorrow.

Still, it would've been nice to get out of the gate 1-0 rather than 0-1.

Great Moments in MEEEEE! (& the Church)

George Sim Johnston (who was once my instructor, years back, when I was preparing for confirmation) writes a great piece on the postconciliar Church in Crisis (where I once interned). Amy Welborn hosts an open discussion about the essay on her delightful blog. As near as I can tell, there's no mention of me there. A pity, really. Go read it all anyway, and report back.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Other Cool Movie Developments

...found while perusing IMDB for the previous post. Did you know that they're making a fifth Batman movie? It's a prequel, of sorts. Christian Bale, of American Psycho and Reign of Fire fame, plays the young Bruce Wayne. The villains? The Scarecrow, and Ken Watanabe as Ras Al-Ghul (how's that for color-blind casting!). The rest of the cast is legitimately star-studded: Liam Neeson, Michael Caine as Alfred, Katie Holmes as the love interest, Gary Oldman as then-Sergeant Jim Gordon, Tom Wilkinson, Morgan Freeman, Rutger Hauer. No more muscle-bound Tyrolean future pols here. Perhaps the franchise is going to be treated seriously again. We can hope, at least.

Meanwhile, check out the IMDB plot summary for the upcoming Andy Garcia / Dustin Hoffman flick The Lost City:
Set in Havana, Cuba, during the 50's, a club owner is caught in the turbulent transition from the oppressive regime of Batista to the Marxist government of Fidel Castro. Castro's regime ultimately leads the club owner to flee to New York.
I like the parallelism there.

More Than Meets the Eye

A live-action Transformers movie? What fantastic news. The original, cartoon Transformers movie, the one with Unicron, Galvatron and the death of Optimus Prime, remains one of my favorite movies. I look forward excitedly to the Dreamworks effort.

If I may register a modest dissent from Airdog, who first brought this to my attention, I'm not sure this is an overdue development. I think now is the right time. If they'd made a live-action movie about giant transforming robots back in the late nineties, the movie would have stunk. The effects-technology wasn't sufficiently developed at the time; the giant robots would have looked ridiculous (if you can believe that!). More importantly, the expectations of quality from superhero/sci-fi/fantasy/cartoon movies was far, far lower then. Movies of that sort were expected to be a little campy, poorly plotted, with some crazy costumes, lousy acting and one or two "exciting" set-piece action scenes. Batman was the exception; Batman & Robin was the rule. In the last 5 years or so, this "bigotry of low expectations" has largely eroded. There've been a number of genuinely high quality superhero or fantasy movies made since 2000. The Lord of the Rings series, the X-Men and Spider-Man movies, Hellboy, among others. Sure, they still make lousy movies of this sort, but there are lame movies from all genres. The point is that it's been shown that you can make sci-fi/superhero/fantasy movies that aren't terrible.

Friday, July 23, 2004

$75,000. $75,000!!

In the final episode of the season, Ken Jennings set the new single-day Jeopardy! winnings record. He won $75,000. The old record, which he had held along with at least one other person, was $52,000. Jennings had had the opportunity to break the old record in past shows, but had refused, betting just enough to tie. He was just toying with Alex, and with us. But on the final day of the spring '04 season, he pulled out his whuppin' stick and settled things. And set a record that no-one, not even Ken Jennings, is likely to surpass. Greatness at work.

Of Course, I See, That Makes Sense

Kerry's "I believe life begins at conception" comment, explained. You see, a foetus is "alive", it's just not "a person".

So: Kerry says that he's personally opposed to abortion because of his Catholic faith. But when you press him for details, he doesn't seem to believe any of the specific things the Church teaches about abortion. The Church teaches that one's personhood begins at the moment of conception, and that abortion is therefore a kind of homicide. Kerry doesn't believe either of these things, and will tell you so. Kerry may indeed be "personally opposed" to abortion, but whatever reason he has it's not because he believes what the Catholic Church teaches.

A dumb question: Why exactly does Mr. Kerry personally oppose abortion? To oppose something is, as I take it, to believe there's something wrong about it. So, Mr. Kerry, what precisely is wrong about abortion?

Danke Schoen

Cacciaguida, that dapper gentleman of the High Middle Ages, has done me the honor of linking to me on his blog. Much thanks. Click on over if you get the chance. Also, you may want to check out his wife, Elinor Dashwood (they're both pseudonyms), who runs a mean blog herself. Their son recently shipped off for Parris Island. Cool, cool, cool.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Grand-Joey Scales "Seven Summits"

A fellow Phillips Academy alumnus, who's also the grandson of Captain Kangaroo, is the youngest man to have completed the "Seven Summits", scaling the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. I can't tell: is this a great silly accomplishment or a silly great accomplishment?

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Sports Guy on the Jeopardy Guy

As always, Bill Simmons says it better than me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

C of E Proposes Division... attempt to keep Anglican Communion from splitting. The traditionalists may get their own church-within-a-church, with an all-male clergy. The immediate issue is the impending promotion of female priests to the Anglican episcopacy, though I can't help but think that recent dust-ups over the Communion's position on homosexuality (is it incompatible with the Bible? is it A-OK for bishops to be sexually active homosexuals? amazingly, the Anglican Communion seems to take both positions) played some role as well. The idea, I guess, is to give the traditionalists their own church within the Communion before they storm off and found their own outside of it. Gotta love Protestants; if there's one thing they're good at, it's founding new churches.

I wonder if this isn't good news for the Church. (The real one in Rome, not those wacky jokesters operating out of Canterbury.) If the traditionalists are formally organized as a group, it'll be easier to have them return, en masse to communion with the See of Peter. I can't believe that there's not going to be some movement in that direction, as the Archbishopric of Canterbury moves further and further away from the Christianity of their ancestors and becomes increasingly focused on global warming and celebration of Jesus as "the complete person". Sure, there'll be some who took fear of Rome with their mothers' milk who'll refuse to come back, but they'll come increasingly to be a small and isolated band in an ecclesial community that more and more resembles the Unitarians.

Not to be presumptuous, but may I recommend 2034 as a date? Precisely 500 years of Anglicanism will be, I think, precisely enough. And as a two-fer, we can finally beatify John Henry Newman that day too. When does Luke 15:11 fall in that year's liturgical calendar? It'll all be such fun, that 20 years later we can do it again with our Eastern brethren.

Monday, July 19, 2004

John Forbes Kerry: Workin' for the City

Heh. Drudge funny. Fox want vacation too.

Department of Unusual Dreams

Just before I woke up this morning I dreamt that Ralph Nader came over to visit. He brought an antique rifled musket, which he loaded while meticulously (and boringly) explaining to me everything there was to know about the rifle. He wound up spilling gunpowder all over my floor. He also brought his CD collection, which I think he thought would impress me mightily.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

We Must Put an End to Global Warming!

Where Should the Presumption Fall?

It's the clear teaching of the Church that a person in a state of mortal sin should not receive the Eucharist. ("Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion." - Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1385) But it's not always obvious whether one has committed a "grave" sin; many sins seem to me to lie in a gray area between the mortal and the venial. If you pig out an totally unnecessarily large meal, that's obviously just a venial sin. If you sleep with your brother's wife, that's obviously a mortal sin. But what about, say, telling a joke about someone behind their back? Mortal or venial? Or take lying. The Catechism is clear that some lies are venial sins and some are mortal sins. If you tell a woman her haircut looks nice when in fact it looks terrible, that's (I presume) a venial sin. If you tell a lie that puts others in danger (if, for instance, you tell Mike, falsely, that Tim is sleeping with his wife, hoping Mike will become enraged and beat up Tim) that's a mortal sin. But is it a venial or a mortal sin to tell a panhandler that you don't have any money when in fact you do?

Now, all this ambiguity and uncertainty is an excellent advertisement for the services of a spiritual director. But many people (the Fox included) don't have SDs, and even people with them are sometimes called to make on-the-fly spiritual decisions of this nature. (For instance, if you encounter and lie to the aforementioned panhandler on the way to Mass; unless your SD operates like one of those celebrity concierge services, you're going to have to figure that one out on the fly.) Which brings me (finally) to my question: if you've done something that you think might be a mortal sin, but you're not certain and there's also a real possibility that it's a venial sin (or maybe no sin at all), should you or should you not receive the Eucharist? When one is unsure of one's worthiness to receive, where should the presumption fall?

This is a tough one for me; there seem to be good arguments on both sides. On the one hand, respect for Our Lord's body would seem to counsel for erring on the side of not receiving. The Catechism, after all, reminds us that sacrilege against the Eucharist is especially grave. (2120) It might therefore make sense to establish a kind of buffer zone around the reception of the Eucharist, and not receive it unless one is really confident that one is free from grave sin. On the other hand, the Catechism instructs us that "It is in keeping with the very meaning of the Eucharist that the faithful, if they have the required dispositions, receive communion each time they participate in the Mass." (1388) That would seem to counsel against unnecessarily avoiding reception, which suggests that the presumption should be in favor of receiving the Eucharist, unless one is actually conscious of having committed a grave sin.

I mean this as an actual, and not a rhetorical, question. Anyone with an opinion on this subject, please feel free to email me. In keeping with my secret plan to break the Internet through excessive blogging, I'll post any future developments.

More Moore, More!

I'm shocked, shocked! to discover that filmmaker Michael Moore fudged the truth a little on the issue of why he wasn't allowed to use the Who song "Won't Be Fooled Again" in Fahrenheit 9/11.

It's Alive! It's Alive!

This blogroll thing has taken on a life of its own. I've just added Southern Appeal, both because it's an excellent blog and because they were kind enough to link to me.

Whilst You Peruse My Improved Blogroll...

In the meantime, may I recommend this post at After Abortion (or you can just click on the original LiveJournal posting). It's a charming account of the sadistic pleasure an abortion clinic employee took in reducing an 18-year-old girl to tears. Such are these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting, Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world, which somehow lost track of the idea of common decency and came to think it praiseworthy for a grown man to so abuse a young girl.

Growth Spurt

If you look to your right, you'll notice that the "Links" list has expanded somewhat. I've added a bunch of St. Blogs sites (and one secular site, RealClearPolitics) that I've been reading regularly for a while. My blogroll now accurately reflects my blog-reading habits, which it hadn't done for a couple months. Click on over if you find the time; there's lots of good stuff out there in the blogosphere (and precious little of it here).

Why Corrections Should Be Made Before Midnight

In this post I make a boneheaded error while trying to correct a previous boneheaded error. Homophones, as we all know, sound the same but are spelled differently, not "sounding the same but being pronounced differently" as I wrote last night. Obviously, it's impossible for two words to sound the same but be pronounced differently. THIS IS THE LAST CORRECTION FROM THIS SERIES. ALL MISTAKES DISCOVERED IN THE FUTURE WILL BE ALLOWED TO STAND AS IS. THE MANAGEMENT REGRETS ANY INCONVENIENCE.


Hmmm.... Here's a Slate piece arguing that the Dutch tulip bubble wasn't really a bubble at all, and was instead a rational investing response to changes in the rules of the tulip market. Eeeeenteresting.

Can Decepticons Get Down?


The Jefferson Memorial of My Dumbness

Like our third president's memorial, this correction will always be overshadowed by its more obvious and important cousin; nevertheless, it must be made. The original post describes Kerry and Kerrey as homonyms. Of course, they are not. Rather, they are homophones, sounding the same but being pronounced differently. No reader pointed this f***-up out; I realized it on my own. I'll try to keep everything straight from here on in.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Monuments in Stupidity

which shall remain forever. There's an error in the below post, pointed out by an astute reader (though you don't have to be especially astute to pick up on such a boneheaded mistake). Can't guess? OK: Cain and Isakson are running in Georgia, not South Carolina, as indicated. They're peaches, not palmettos. The original post will remain uncorrected, as an eternal marker of my ability to not read things carefully.

Vote Herman Cain

I know I don't have any South Carolinian readers, but if I did I'd urge you to vote in the upcoming GOP senate primary for businessman Herman Cain over congressman John Isakson. Why have I taken a sudden interest in Palmetto State politics? Because I followed a link from the Corner over to Southern Appeal (scroll up) which described some of the dirty tricks and distortions Isakson is using against his opponent. The page also includes links these two Isakson ads, where you can see for yourself the congressman's lame skullduggery.

I'm particularly peeved by the accusation, in the second ad, that Cain "donated money to pro-choice Senator Kerrey." Lame, lame, lame. A transparent attempt to take the fact that Cain, a former resident of Nebraska, donated money at some point in the past to his then-senator Bob Kerrey, and make it look like he's a supporter of the current Democratic nominee. Clearly, Isakson doesn't respect the intelligence of South Carolina Republicans, and thinks they're rubes who will fall for his homonymic sleight-of-hand.

Like that rakish headline-writer over at I Arbored Ann, I'm a good government type, so this kind of crap really gets my Irish up. For the good of the Republic, Isakson has to be defeated. So hie the hence, my nonexistent South Carolinian readers, to the polls, and vote Cain!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Witness to Excellence

I'm watching Jeopardy! right now. Ken Jennings is simply remarkable. It's literally like watching Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan in their primes. Scratch that: it's better. I have never seen anyone better at what he does than Jennings is at Jeopardy!. Not in sports, not in art, not in politics, or science. His streak is truly a celebration of human excellence, and, in its own stupid way, it's one of the great accomplishments of our time.

This is my Parish Church in New York

Thursday, July 15, 2004

I Like Reviews Best of All...

...because you can squeeze in delicious bon mots that normal journalism has no place for. For example, in the Slate review of I, Robot:
To me, Dark City felt like the first Matrix without the kung fu, but it did have a nice, Philip K. Dickian is-it-real-or-am-I-reading-a-Philip-K.-Dick-novel eeriness and some good hats.
I hate to disagree, but the hats in Dark City were not merely good. They were fan-f***ing-tastic.  


Here's a passage from a recent AP campaign trail dispatch:

Bush also took issue with Kerry's pronouncement this week that he and running mate John Edwards (news - web sites) were proud of the fact that they opposed in the Senate the $87 billion aid package for Afghanistan (news - web sites) and Iraq (news - web sites). Kerry said they had done so because "we knew the policy had to be changed."

"He's entitled to his view," Bush said. "But members of Congress should not vote to send troops into battle and then vote against funding them, and then brag about it."

Kerry's campaign responded that Kerry had served in the Vietnam War and questions linger about Bush's wartime service in the Texas Air National Guard.

"Considering that George Bush actively avoided combat duty and has pursued policies that have made the nation less secure, he is on very shaky ground when it comes to questioning the commitment that Vietnam vet John Kerry has to our national security," said former Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., a Vietnam War veteran and frequent Kerry surrogate. "This is just more attack-dog politicking by an increasingly desperate, partisan White House."

Let me get this straight: Kerry takes a position (voting against the $87 billion for Iraq reconstruction after voting for the war was the right thing, and he's proud he did it), Bush makes a substantive criticism of that position (saying: you shouldn't authorize invading a country and then vote against money for reconstruction and to equip the occupying army, and that bragging about doing so is unseemly), and Kerry surrogates reply to Bush's criticism how? By pointing out that, 35 years ago, Bush served in the Air National Guard, whereas Kerry served in Viet Nam?
Maybe I'm missing something, but "I served in Viet Nam" doesn't seem like an argument to me. I mean, maybe it's a response to a criticism of Kerry's character; if Bush were to say, "John Kerry doesn't care about the safety of America," Kerry could plausibly reply, "That's absurd: I went to war, put my life on the line in Viet Nam in to protect the safety of America." But pointing out that John Kerry did something brave and patriotic 35 years ago isn't really a response to a substantive question about his policy vision. I know I'm not the first to point this out, but it never hurts to call the Kerry campaign out when they pull this kind of crap.
What makes this so insanely frustrating is that there's an entirely plausible justification for Kerry's votes. He could say, "I knew the bill would pass, so the troops would get funded. My 'no' vote was a protest against the abysmal handling of the postwar by the Bush administration." Or he could say, "I hoped that if we defeated the bill the Bush Administration would be forced to come to the Congress and consult with us, and that maybe by working together we could come up with a sane Iraq policy that will secure the country without putting our soldiers in unnecessary risk." Or any number of other things. Those would be arguments in defense of his votes. Instead, Kerry and the Kerrybots just say: "Kerry commanded a swift boat in Viet Nam! Ergo, Bush sucks! Case closed! La-la-LA-la-la!"

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

John Edwards - Man of the People

Used tax shelters to avoid paying $600,000 in Medicare taxes back in '95. Hey, we all make mistakes. Don't hate on Johnny E.

I say: let he who hasn't used tax shelters to avoid paying hundreds of thousands in federal Medicare taxes and then made a political career in part on castigating those same tax shelters for undermining the Medicare system cast the first stone.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Ron Reagan to Speak at Democratic Convention

In keeping with the proud tradition of Reagan children embarrassing their late father, the former president's son and namesake will be speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, attacking the Bush Administration's restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

As best I can tell, Reagan is qualified to speak on this subject because he's the semi-famous son of a former president who suffered from a disease that embryonic stem cells couldn't have treated. I can see why the Democrats, being the more adult and serious of our two political parties, leapt at the chance to have him speak.

The whole business is a little ridiculous, it's obviously not going to impact the election. I am a little worried, though, because I have a strong sense that the pro-embryonic stem cell side (i.e., the Molochians) is winning the debate. I understand how this is: opposition to research on embryonic stem cells has all of the pro-life cause, magnified many-fold. The victim is small, invisible to the eye, its humanity hard to grasp. The suffering of the other party - a woman with Parkinsons or a man with a severed spinal cord - is obvious and immediate. It's easy to sympathize with Michael J. Fox; it requires an act of the will to sympathize with a blastocyst, even for someone like me who's instinctively pro-life. And when one considers the quasi-miraculous promises made by advocates of embryonic stem cell research... well, it's not so hard to see why even stalwart foes of abortion like Orrin Hatch have been seduced. If people start thinking, inaccurately in my view, that "Reagan would have favored this research", it's only going to make the fight quite a bit harder. sigh... Oh well, the Carthaginians practiced child-sacrifice out of a belief that the polis would prosper and be well, and everything worked out fine for them. wait.

Meanwhile, over at the Corner, Jonah Goldberg posts a reader email pointing out that by having Reagan speak at the convention the Democrats are doing what they accused the Republicans of doing last month - exploiting the former president's death for political gain.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

I Don't Quite Know What to Make of This

Congratulations! You're Elrond!

Which Lord of the Rings character and personality problem are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, July 10, 2004

I Know He's Family, But...

The descendants of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr are going to reenact the famous duel on its July 11th bicentennial. Unlike Airdog, I think it's a neat idea. (I have a cousin-in-law who's a historical reenactor, so I have a soft spot for this kind of stuff.)

I blog on this story because the linked-to article contains this passage, which I found amusing, in an I-must-get-indignantly-irate-and-blog-about-this-right-now kind of way:
Antonio Burr, a psychologist from New York, maintains his ancestor was the victim, attacked personally, not politically, by Hamilton, who refused to apologize.
I know it's hard to think objectively about members of one's family, but after 200 years I would have hoped the Burrs would have gained some perspective. Hamilton was a jerk, yes, but he wrote the things he did about Burr because they were true. Burr and Hamilton dueled because they had been bitter political rivals for almost 30 years, ever since they'd been young officers serving on Washington's general staff. Hamilton hated Burr because he believed (correctly) that Burr an unprincipled cad who would betray the Republic to satisfy his ambition. Burr hated Hamilton because he believed (correctly) that Hamilton hated him and was determined to block his attempts at political advancement. The New York gubernatorial election of 1804 was just the straw that broke the camel's back.

Aaron Burr is one of the few indisputable villains of American history. In an age whose principal men were idealists sincerely devoted to the service of their country, he was a cynical operator, without principle, acting only to advance his own ambition. In the election of 1800, he allied himself with he opposition party to try to steal the election from his own running mate. After the duel, Burr conspired with General James Wilkinson, governor of the new Louisiana territory, to invade Mexico and set up a "republic" with himself at the head. The conspiracy fizzled and Burr was tried for treason and acquitted (for insufficient evidence). He then went into exile (I like the Congressional Biographical Directory's euphemistic "went abroad in 1808") where he continued to lobby the princes of Europe to support his Mexican adventure. It's emblematic of Burr's opportunism that he petitioned both Napoleon and George III for help.

The only thing that can be said in praise of Burr is that he was a brilliant intellect. He is alone among the Founders in his entirely deserving reprobation. Even Benedict Arnold ranks higher in my estimation: before he betrayed the Republic, he was her greatest general; he won the Battle of Saratoga, without which victory there would have been no Republic to betray. I know not everyone feels as strongly about this as I do, but it's ridiculous for anyone, even a lateral great-great-etc-grandson, to believe that Burr was a "victim" who shot Hamilton because the latter was a big meanie who hurt his feelings. Burr was a bad dude for whom shooting his principal political rival was only one small part of a career of villainy.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The Spiritual Dangers of Contraception

Fr. Paul Mankowski has an interesting piece on the threat posed by the rejection of Humanae Vitae, and the attendant acceptance of contraception, to the authority of the Church and to the lives of religious Brothers and Sisters.
If the Church is wrong in Humanae vitae, the judgment that it is wrong can only be made with reference to some standard. That standard, obviously, cannot be the Church herself; some contend that it is moral intuition, others a more academically respectable reading of scripture or of the history of doctrine; still others some comprehensive system of ethics or logic. But the crucial point is that whatever standard is taken as fundamentally reliable, this standard judges the Church, and is not judged by her. Here is the real revolution incited by the Pill; next to it the rise in promiscuity is a mere flutter.
It's not about how many kids you have or don't have; it's about whether the Church can be led into error or whether the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. I seem to recall hearing that somewhere.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Ahhhhh! Meta!

Dale Peck, the acid-tongued book critic who once memorably described Rick Moody as "the worst writer of his generation", has published a collection of his reviews. And it's been reviewed! It's a moebius strip of literary criticism. I'm freaking out here, people!

I know of one person who'd genuinely appreciate this post, but she's in Russia and therefore not at blogging depth, so this is all wasted. But it had to be said. To quote the philosopher, "I can't keep it in."

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

In Merry Olde England,

You can still spank your children. Not like the rest of EUtopia. Bunch of sissies. I wonder what role the English public schools had in this? After all, what is there to do at Eton but spank and be spanked? Sodomy?

Better than Trimspa!

How do you lose 10 pounds in only one day? Discover that your household scale has been reading heavy since you bought it! (stupid cheap scale...)

Come to Think of It, I Was Feeling a Bit Dutch

"It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is."

You are Desiderius Erasmus!

You have great love for others and will do just about anything to show it to them. You are tolerant
and avoid confrontations, so people generally are drawn to you. You are more quiet and reserved in
front of strangers, but around some people you open up. When things get tough, you like to meditate
alone. Unfortunately you often get things like "what a pansy," or "you're such a liberal."

What theologian are you?

A creation of Henderson

Monday, July 05, 2004

I Had Strings, But Now I'm Free

There are no strings on me!

Nine-odd months after I disabled it in a being-dumb incident, my wireless internet is back! Now I can blog, and read blogs, from anywhere in the apartment. Even the bathroom! Many people do their best thinking on the john. Will I do my best blogging from there as well?

Coach K Makes the Right Call

Stays at Duke.

"The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command." -The Return of the King

See Yourself as a South Park Character

Click here. I wish you could see mine; he's a cute little devil, a little bearded beer-drinking midget.

New Look Fox

The Fox has had a little work done. I was hoping maybe to get included in E!'s next 101 most "starlicious" makeovers list. I think they could squeeze me in between Nicole Kidman and the Volkswagen Beetle.

Maybe not.

There'll probably be more changes in the coming days and weeks. (You know what they say about how addictive plastic surgery is...) I know this may be traumatic to my millions of readers who've made Mansfield Fox such a major part of their lives. I promise: we'll get through this together.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

THE SIMPLE PIETY OF ROCKY. All weekend, AMC has been showing the Rocky pentology. Not a bad crazy idea, given the Rocky-Philadelphia-July 4th connection. I've never actually seen any of the Rocky movies all the way through before, so my knowledge of the series has mostly been limited to generalities - the basic plot of the series (Rocky loses to Creed, Rocky beats Creed, Rocky fights Mr. T, Rocky beats the Russian, Rocky is washed-up), the music (especially "Eye of the Tiger"), the iconic imagery (the steps of the Museum of Art).

Over the weekend, I've tried to catch snippets of the movies. I've actually been surprised by how good the sequels are - even the much-maligned Rocky V. They're not brilliant, by any means, but compared to the dreck that's released today (or even then) they're more than passable. It's the Godfather, Part III syndrome: when you're following up on a classic, just being okay isn't good enough. So lay off Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago, a'ight?

The other thing that I didn't anticipate was the Catholic piety of the movies, especially the early movies. Rocky is always making the sign of the cross (which looks more than a little odd in boxing gloves). In Rocky II, Adrian falls into a coma after giving birth to Rocky Jr. There's then a lengthy montage, with little dialog, showing Rocky caring for his incapacitated wife: Rocky reading to Adrian from an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, stumbling over the words; then Rocky and Mickey praying quietly in an otherwise empty chapel; then back to the hospital room (where there's a cross over Adrian's bed and statues of Christ and St. Francis in the hallway); then back to the chapel; and so on. Just before his big fight with Apollo Creed, Rocky seeks out the advice of a priest in Roman collar. And in the moments immediately preceding the fight, while Creed is talking trash and shadow-boxing furiously, Rocky is silent, kneeling, praying. A remarkable contrast.

None of this seemed fake or tacked on. It all seemed to flow naturally from Rocky's character. He's a simple, decent man who projects a simple, natural piety. Rocky is not just the Italian Stallion; he's also il Cavallo Cattolico.

So I ask: why wasn't Rocky II included in the Best Catholic Movies online poll?

Saturday, July 03, 2004

IT'S AN OUTRAGEOUS SLANDER to suggest that the nascent cultural imperative to "accept all different kinds of families", which underlies the move towards homosexual marriage, will lead inexorably to calls for the acceptance of polygamy as just another "kind of family." I mean, it could lead to calls for the acceptance of polyandry instead. (Click here for the trailer.)
WHAT A WEEKEND FOR ATHLETIC COMPETITION! On Thursday, I watched, in person, that epic 13-inning Yankees victory over the woe-begotten Fenway Franks. I was about a half-section away from where Jeter dove head-first into the stands while making the game-saving catch. Has there ever been so great a regular season game? (Hint: no.)

And now, I get to watch the women's Wimbledon finals, in which the beautiful Maria Sharapova (a.k.a. the future Mrs. The Fox) upset Serena Williams, 6-1 6-4. What a kid: after she wins, she gets on a cell and tries to call her mom; she's all smiles and giggling; she's a gracious winner, joking with Serena (who, to her credit, is a great loser, very dignified) and praising her. And she's home-schooled! I'm not a big tennis fan, but even I was taken in. What a match! And that Sharapova... hubba-hubba.

Also, is it just me, or does Serena's mom look kind of like Rick "Superfreak" James?

She's super-freaky, yeow!