Archive for November, 2008

Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death

November 28, 2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/business/29walmart.html

At risk of sounding elitist, I’m going to say that this is typical Wal-Mart shopper behavior. Namely, to not have a clue. In this case, not having a clue that getting a good deal on that 52″ TV is not worth risking, let alone taking, a life. Episodes like this make me wonder just how little it takes to reduce a mass of humanity to a tooth-and-nail materialistic frenzy.

I shop at Wal-Mart occasionally (most recently, I purchased 9″x12″ envelopes to send out job apps), but I am not a “Wal-Mart shopper.” Wal-Mart shoppers, properly speaking, are oblivious to everything but their basest urges and have no concept of the proper ordering of desires and goods. They can’t even tell that other people exist—a prerequisite to recognizing that they are impeding the progress of those other people by parking their cart diagonally in the middle of an aisle. And when you tempt 2,000 of them to fight each other for the same low prices, on luxury goods like 52″ TVs, guess what? They are going to fight each other, to the death.

I, on the other hand, am aware of such things, and know how to rightly order (most of) my desires. I never stop stupidly in the aisle to gape at nothing at all. I do not trample temporary workers to save a few dollars. Wal-Mart should know better than to court disaster like this. But what can a normal person do? On days like today, I just stay away till all the morons are done killing each other, the victors revelling in their own filth before their new TV. And on normal days, I have learned to treat those sharing the store space with me as idiot children. You just can’t get mad at them, as it would do no good.

Somehow the TV is an apt symbol for the whole situation.

But they do have a 500GB drive for $69, so I’m heading down there—calmly, and with the common good as my number one priority—to see if there are any left. [Update: scratch that—I don’t really need it, and if I wait till I do need it, I’ll get a better deal. Whether my not buying it tonight helps or hurts the common good, I leave to the economists and philosophers.]

Reuters baits with “Church,” then switches

November 23, 2008

Church Forgives John Lennon ‘Boast’ is the title.

But the first line?

The Vatican’s newspaper has forgiven John Lennon for declaring that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ, calling the remark a “boast” by a young man grappling with sudden fame.

Just so ya know . . . “the Vatican’s newspaper” does not equal the “Church.”

How many untold thousands are you saving on gas?

November 13, 2008

This article on lower gas prices at the NY Times has got me scratching my head.

One woman says that when gas prices were high, she was working 10 hours of OT per week “to make ends meet”:

When gasoline topped $4 a gallon this summer, Celeste Vazquez of Cleveland started working 10 hours of overtime every week to make ends meet. But lately, with prices falling below $2 a gallon at many stations here, she has been able to cut her hours.

I did a quick calculation. If Celeste was making minimum wage, which is currently $6.55 per hour, and was spending $4.50 on gas then, and is spending $1.50 on gas now, to fill up a 24-mpg car, that 10 hours of overtime would have enabled her to drive 785 miles per week, without dipping into her standard 40-hour-per-week paycheck. That is madness. Who drives 785 miles per week, aside from truckers?

If she were driving a 15-mpg truck, she would have had to have been driving 485 miles per week to necessitate 10 hours of minimum wage OT. 485 still seems like a lot to me. Do these people live in their cars 7 days a week?

Another couple splurges on a $12 breakfast, because of all the dough they’re saving on gas.

But they have no plans to spend tens of thousands of dollars to furnish and landscape their new house.

“I’d love to do those big projects,” said Mr. Ritchie, 49, who farms 16 acres of cherries, peaches, nectarines and figs in northwest Ohio. “But I just know that gas prices will go right back up.”

“Tens of thousands” means, at the low end, $20,000. How much driving would one have to do for the number “20,000” to even factor into one’s gas budget? You would have to drive 1,300 miles per week—185 miles every single day, for a whole year—in a 10 mpg vehicle—in order for a $4.50 to $1.50 price drop to come out to a $20,000 difference.

All the same, I thank the NY Times for this reality check. It costs me now about $14 less to fill up than it did two months ago, and I was fixin’ to use that to put a downpayment on a house . . .

Catholic bishops’ letter to Obama

November 13, 2008

Text is here, and pasted below.

Obama promised that the “first thing he’d do” as president was sign the Freedom Of Choice Act (FOCA). That act is described in the text below. But when he promised this to his Planned Parenthood audience, the Catholic bishops had not yet become nearly as vocal in their defense of life as they have since become. As Obama has had to at least appear more centrist than he really is, in order to have a fighting chance at winning the election, perhaps he will also find it politically expedient to abandon his rabidly pro-abortion stance as well. Pray that FOCA does not get signed, and GO SIGN THE PETITION AGAINST IT RIGHT NOW!

STATEMENT of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

“If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.” (Psalm 127, vs. 1)

The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all. Because of the Church’s history and the scope of her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad. The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods.

The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.

In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any “interference” in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.

Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion. Abortion clinics would be deregulated. The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated. FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.

FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.

On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.

The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.

This statement is written at the request and direction of all the Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families; and we are grateful. We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation. The common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.

Our prayers accompany President-elect Obama and his family and those who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in government. Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of our elected “watchman.” (Psalm 127) May God bless him and our country.

Spiritually blind

November 10, 2008

From the Anglican Continuum blog, a comment on Partial-Birth Abortion:

Inasmuch as there is no medical reason to kill the baby instead of making use of a NICU, it is painfully obvious that the only reason for Partial Birth Abortion is to complete a contract killing. There is never a medical reason to kill the child. Even though this is painfully obvious, a debate about it continues anyway in political circles. There is no justification for the debate itself. The “conservatives” seem unable to put this obvious fact into words, and the “liberals” do not see it at all. This is clearly a spiritual blindness, since no one could fail to see it otherwise.

And, since it is spiritual, and the President-Elect of the United States is among the blind, it is obvious that he needs our prayers that God will convert him, and that the Holy Spirit will change his heart and mind.

Free birth control!

November 6, 2008

But don’t expect to ever hear it promoted by anyone who will lose money because of it:

During the pontificate of John Paul II, there was also the breakthrough in scientific research that Paul VI had wished for in “Humanae Vitae”: the discovery of a method of birth control based on the monthly period of infertility, easy to apply and reliable. But the news of this breakthrough did not extend beyond Catholic circles in the developed world, and even there it was not sufficiently promoted in Western countries like Italy, while it had much more success in the Third World.

In Western countries, in fact, natural methods have continued to be considered not only completely ineffective, but also inconvenient and difficult to apply. And there is another characteristic, which is never mentioned, that has contributed to giving them a bad name: the fact that they are free. No pharmaceutical company had any interest in financing research on this form of birth control. Instead, it was to their advantage to heap ridicule on it and discredit it.

Things to consider before bashing Humanae Vitae. Plus much more to consider, in the whole article from which this is taken. It’s called “Cardinal Martini’s Jesus Would Never Have Written ‘Humanae Vitae’.

NY Times sees what Kmiec (et al.) do not

November 5, 2008

Referring to the ban on same-sex “marriage” in California, Arizona, and Florida:

The across-the-board sweep, coupled with passage of a measure in Arkansas intended to bar gay men and lesbians from adopting children, was a stunning victory for religious conservatives, who had little else to celebrate on an Election Day that saw Senator John McCain lose and other ballot measures, like efforts to restrict abortion in South Dakota, California and Colorado, rejected.

If Obama’s election is a loss for “religious conservatives,” doesn’t that mean the authors see Obama as a secular liberal? Nevertheless, Douglas Kmiec and other Catholics have pretended that Obama’s policies are in harmony with Catholic teaching. Something doesn’t fit here . . . Of course, being the NY Times, “religious conservatives” may very well be a code-word for “Bible-thumping nut-jobs.”

Vote

November 4, 2008

This morning I voted for the candidate who does not support massive human-rights abuse through the federally-funded slaughter of the innocents; does not support the undermining of the American social fabric through the blessing of sodomy, anti-family feminism, and so-called gay marriage; and whose worldview is not tyrannized by moral relativism.

If you voted for Obama, you voted for all of these things. If he wins, I hope the few extra bucks in your wallet that he promises—if they materialize—are enough to assuage your conscience!

New low for diesel

November 3, 2008

I think this must be the cheapest it’s been in about a year. This is in New Braunfels, Texas.

diesel_price1

First wedding

November 2, 2008

Saturday I’m shooting my first wedding. But there is no real pressure, since I’m a “second shooter” and all the formal and “important” shots have been assigned to one of the wedding party’s relatives. I’m supposed to be more of a “fly on the wall” who gets pix that the official photog would never have the opportunity to get because he’s too busy following the bride and groom around.

The best thing is that I have already gotten paid for the gig! I immediately reinvested part of that money in a new 50mm f/1.4 lens. This is great for low light, and very inconspicuous—by far my smallest lens. Also the least expensive. (For another $1100 you can get an f/1.2, but really, I challenge anyone to 1) tell the difference between 1.2 and 1.4, and 2) tell the difference between pix shot by the two lenses.) I’m going to take that and my 70-200 f/2.8 (with 2x extender, just in case), and those two should be good for everything.

I’m hoping that if these Saturday pix turn out good I can use them to drum up some biz for next year. Income is going to be steady but paltry for spring and summer . . . wish me luck!