Monday, December 24, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
From the beginning, Vista has had issues. In many instances, we’re not talking minor problems. Driver incompatibility, hardware incompatibility, software not running, programs or the computer itself randomly crashing… all just the tip of the iceberg. For many people, the software incompatibility issue was a nightmare. They installed Vista, only to find a very long list of programs that simply would not work.Still thinking of upgrading to Vista? Think again. Since when has an upgrade allowed you to do less with your computer than before? The Baltimore Sun's David Zeiler sums it up well:
Earlier this year some PC manufacturers, most notably Dell, started offering XP as an option on many of its new PCs, also because of customer demand. That so many people would prefer a six-year-old operating system over Microsoft’s latest and greatest speaks volumes about how badly the folks at Redmond botched Vista.The 'Wow' continues — as in, wow, six months later, Vista still sucks.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
The backstory may seem a tad more complex than it appears, but it's not, really.
Where to begin?
Let's start with Biology 101 — our species propagates through sexual reproduction. Therefore, long-term human survival depends on adequate numbers of healthy offspring, in the proper gender ratio. But in our time, children (in general, and in many cases girls) have come to be regarded as an unwelcome inconvenience, such that some men are even willing to undergo vasectomies so they can buy mobile phones, and others express (misguided) sympathy and understanding for those who strike such Faustian bargains (read the comments on the linked vasectomy article to see how much children are disliked in contemporary Western culture). Do the math: Labour shortages would not be as severe if 100,000+ Canadians weren't being aborted each year.
I blame this sad state of affairs (pun intended) on the contraceptive mentality of the West.
Most everyone here assumes that if a woman wants to have a baby, all she has to do is stop taking the Pill (why did she start in the first place?) And if she doesn't want to have a baby and gets pregnant anyway, what then?
She kills her unborn child and then asks her partner to get his tubes tied?
Is this what's meant by "glorious and free"?
So, with the intrinsic connection between sexual intercourse and procreation so thoroughly sundered in the popular mind, it becomes much easier to justify not only contraception and abortion (two branches of the same evil tree), but even the oh-so euphemistically-named practice of "selective reduction" based on, among other things, gender preference. Of course, it then also becomes easy to justify non-procreative sexual relationships, such as (by definition) between same-sex partners — who then loudly insist on being accorded the same social and legal status as a traditional family with husband, wife, and child(ren) — despite the glaringly obvious fact that their aberrant orientation more or less consigns them to genetic oblivion.
There was a time when homosexuality was (correctly) classified as a mental disorder. Now it is flaunted as merely another lifestyle choice — what's next, bestiality or coprophilia? Things are indeed getting much worse, and much more rapidly. But there is hope yet.
This brings us back to the embattled mayor of Truro. If you'd like to express support for his courageous stance, write him. The really sad part of the story is that he's just being true to his (morally sensible but increasingly unpopular) convictions — which, by the way, are ultimately informed by the very same ethos enshrined in the words of our national anthem, O Canada.
Being glorious and free is not about being gay and proud of it.
It's about seeking (and upholding) the truth — because only the truth will make us free.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
In a way, it's easy to see why the preborn child, especially in the earliest stage of development, is not commonly regarded as a human person (with the rights accorded to persons). When we utter the word "person" most people would immediately conjure up a mental image of a bipedal example of Homo sapiens — probably an adult. But clearly, teenagers, children, toddlers, and babies are also persons. They're just at different stages of development. And so we have to ask: what about the preborn, at any stage of development?
Fr. Tad Pacholczyk writes:
Embryos, of course, are remarkably unfamiliar to us. They lack hands and feet. They don't have faces or eyes for us to look into. Even their brains are lacking. They look nothing like what we are used to seeing when we imagine a human being. But they are as human as you and me. When we look at a scanning electron micrograph of a human embryo, a small cluster of cells, sitting on the point of a sewing pin, we need to ask ourselves a very simple question: "Isn't that exactly what a young human is supposed to look like?" The correct answer to that question doesn't depend on religion or theology, but on embryology. Embryos seem unfamiliar to us on first glance, and we have to make an explicit mental effort to avoid the critical mistake of disconnecting from who we once were as embryos.
Isn't it interesting that everyone who advocates the destruction of embryos, whether through abortion or embryonic stem cell research, was once an embryo? This reminds me of the T-shirt with the two embryos on it, with one saying to the other: "It may be hard to believe right now, but we'll be pro-choice someday."
Friday, June 01, 2007
So why are we so reluctant to publicly acknowledge the truth of what abortion does? Why do we recoil from the idea of displaying images of abortion's ghastly results? If we object to the public display of such images, we should logically object to the display of other images that also portray grave injustice, whether it is the torture and murder of Jews, blacks, or any group that has been stripped of personhood, of human dignity.
Fr. Frank Pavone, the current national director of Priests for Life, would be well aware of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about giving human remains due respect, and yet he also asserts that in order for people to be galvanized into opposing abortion, they have to see what it does to the unborn child. We have had in utero images of fetal development since the Swedish medical photographer Lennart Nilsson published his pathbreaking book A Child is Born, more than 40 years ago, but that did not stop the U.S. Supreme Court from effectively declaring unborn children to be non-persons (i.e. Roe vs. Wade) in 1973. Now, more than 46 million slaughtered Americans later, can we say that showing beautiful photos of unborn children has been effective in stemming the tide of this present-day holocaust? The data suggests otherwise.
One definition of insanity is: doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. It's time to "Think Different" about exposing the truth about abortion. The current "soft" approach of showing beautiful babies in utero hasn't worked for the last 34 years.
You can read more about Fr. Pavone and his work at Priests for Life.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Alas, distraction from essentials is found everywhere. For example:
Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who in 1971 conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment, asserts in a blog interview about his new book that
People are not born evil, but rather with survival talents, and remarkable mental templates to be anything imaginable — just as infants readily learn to speak and understand any of a thousand languages in an instant in their development. We get a push from nature in various directions, such as being more inhibited or bold, but who we become is ultimately a complex process of cultural, historical, religious, economic and political experiences in familial and other institutional settings.Human free will and rationality are never perfected in this life — but they are no less real for being imperfect, and their reality makes us accountable for our actions.
Most of us fail to appreciate the extent to which our behavior is under situational control, because we prefer to believe that is all is internally generated. We wander around cloaked in an illusion of vulnerability, mis-armed with an arrogance of free will and rationality.
Now, if I understand Zimbardo correctly, he leaves little or no room for something that once was familiar to everyone. Thus, his prescribed solution to our ills omits a crucial element:
... the very same situation that can inflame the “hostile imagination” in those who become perpetrators of evil can inspire the “heroic imagination” for the first time in any of us.The key factor he forgot to mention was — conscience. In a world besotted with what Pope Benedict XVI calls the tyranny of relativism, the proper formation of conscience is all too often neglected.
My concern is how to promote in our children this heroic imagination, to make them accept the mantle of being a hero-in-waiting for a situation that will come along sometime in their lives when others are following the paths toward evil or toward indifference, and instead, they elect to act on behalf of another person or group or ideal without thought of personal gain or even recognition.
I have to believe that by creating a generation of such ordinary heroes is our best defense against evil, whether on the battlefield, in prisons, or corporate headquarters.
It has been said that the best gift we can give our children is roots — and wings. I pray that as parents we shall do this. And we do best when our stewardship of their formation is grounded in the holiness we are called to in everyday life. I may have more to say on this later, but for now I assert that those of us who are in a position to influence children should make a regular practice of examining our own consciences carefully, lest we fail to instill this habit in them.
The 'Lucifer effect' is never far away. The best 'vaccine' is a properly formed conscience.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
At Claero, we used a range of technologies: Windows Small Business Server 2003, MacOS X Server, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, OpenBSD, Cisco PIX firewalls, and so on. Hardware was a mix of IBM, Apple, Dell, and HP — similar to what our clients used. Portables were a mix of IBM ThinkPad and Apple PowerBook and MacBook Pro models. One of our senior PHP developers left on good terms to join iStockPhoto just before they were bought by Getty Images. At Claero, we had a monthly staff event to help build the team — each time, we tried something different: indoor rock climbing, river rafting, curling, bowling, go-karting, and so on. As you may have guessed, this was one of the most enjoyable aspects of my time there. We also spent quite a bit of time and effort brainstorming on how to market the company better. All issues were fair game for open discussion: branding, trade show participation, proposal writing, using wikis for collaboration, client relationship management, etc.
While at Claero (a little over 3 years), I noticed clients expressing interest in MacOS X as an alternative to Windows, especially since they could see me administering Windows servers and networks using Remote Desktop Connection from an Apple portable. Now that I'm no longer there, it seems that more and more people I meet are considering the switch, as well.
Obviously, I'm hardly the only one who's noticed increasing numbers of Windows users are switching to MacOS X. The blog community seems to be piling on with commentary, analyses, and prognostications: how Vista sales are not meeting expectations, how increasing numbers of tech luminaries are migrating to MacOS X, and how people are getting fed up with malware on their Windows PCs. I do think the iPod halo effect is real: once people experience the iPod's elegance and ease of use, they're more inclined to investigate whether Apple computers evince the same sterling qualities. Hint: they do.
Scott Lowe writes:
Now, though, we are seeing the Windows die-hards switching platforms. This isn’t simply moving from one UNIX-like platform to a different UNIX-like platform. Mac OS X is nothing like Windows, and switching from one platform to another is a pretty significant effort. Clearly, there must be a reason why these long-time Windows users are switching. These aren’t your average Windows users—these are Windows power users, users who have championed the Windows platform for years. Now they’re switching to the Mac.Hmm. I'm not sure if, like me, he's just going by anecdotal evidence, but I don't think so. For example, a blogger from inside IBM recently wrote:
Don't let anyone tell you that the OS 10 and XP are the same. I did more exploring with my Mac in the first weekend than I did with my Windows boxes over the past 8 years. Ya gotta have a Windows box; you want to have a Mac. As our team is tasked to explore the suitability of Web 2.0 technologies to our enterprise customers - what can we learn from the success of YouTube, MySpace, 2nd Life etc - I feel that using the Windows OS constrains one's thinking about Web 2.0 because you have to do it the Windows way, like it or not. With a Mac, I have a sense, real or imagined, that on my MacBook, I'm doing it my way or creating my own web experience with this tool. This is the way that it should be.Hmm. Would that be similar to the Mac community inside Google?
Like many, I was drawn back to the Mac by my family's thrills with their iPods (original, Nano, and Video). What if our customers could deliver on their sites a web-based experience like shopping on the iTunes store: fast, easy to navigate, inclusive, friendly, simple to buy, know who you are.What put my Mac purchase in automatic was the recent IBM announcement to support Linux and Macs. This plus the incredible Mac community within IBM...
In the meantime, the bile uttered against Windows seems to have no letup:
Windows is the platform on which 90 per cent of the computing industry builds, and this naturally means that it's the platform on which 90 per cent of spyware, adware, virus, worm, and Trojan developers build. That translates into 90 per cent of botnet zombies, 90 per cent of spam relays, 90 per cent of spyware hosts, and 90 per cent of worm propagators. In a nutshell, Windows is single-handedly responsible for turning the internet into the toxic shithole of malware that it is today.It would be a step in the right direction — except that accepting Vista's security also means accepting its draconian and user-hostile Digital Rights Management features (as per Bruce Schneier's analysis, see below).
That's not going to change any time soon, no matter how good Vista's security might be, but a version of Windows with truly adequate security and privacy features would certainly be a step in the right direction.
There's even a compelling business case for migrating to open-source software, as Novell has done, and reaping millions of dollars in annual savings.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to many, Apple itself is increasingly adopting the open-source model in its commercial software offerings, even on the server end of things. And Apple's Safari web browser is even taking market share away from Firefox, if this data is to be believed. Safari now accounts for 6.2% of all web browsers, up from 5.7% in December 2006. Hmm.
It's all good.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Let me be clear about what I mean by "Catholic" — I belong to the Roman Catholic Church. I attend Mass every Sunday unless I'm ill, I occasionally serve as a lector, and I receive the Blessed Sacrament if I'm not in a state of mortal sin (for which I avail myself of the Sacrament of Penance). For those of you who don't understand what "Roman Catholic Church" means, the Wikipedia definition may serve as a useful starting point:
The Roman Catholic Church or Catholic Church ... is the Christian Church in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, currently Pope Benedict XVI. It traces its origins to the original Christian community founded by Jesus Christ and led by the Twelve Apostles, in particular Saint Peter. The Catholic Church is the largest Christian Church and the largest organized body of any world religion. According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, the Church's worldwide recorded membership at the end of 2004 was 1,098,366,000 or approximately one in six of the world's population.there's quite a few of us. Are we just a bunch of superstitious, anti-science rubes who worship with strange rituals and commit idolatry? Let's see. I'll start by introducing one of my Catholic heroes, Fr. Stanley Jaki:
The Reverend Father Professor Stanley L. Jaki OSB (b. Győr, Hungary 1924) is a Benedictine priest and Distinguished Professor of Physics at Seton Hall University, New Jersey since 1975. He is a leading thinker in philosophy of science, theology and on issues where the two disciplines meet and diverge. After completing undergraduate training in philosophy, theology and mathematics, Father Jaki did graduate work in theology and physics and holds doctorates in theology from the Pontifical Institute in Rome (1950), and in physics from Fordham University (1958). He also did post-doctoral research in Philosophy of Science at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Princeton University and Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. After post-doctoral research, Father Jaki was Gifford Lecturer at Edinburgh University (1974–76), Fremantle Lecturer at Balliol College, Oxford (1977), Hoyt Fellow at Yale University (1980) and Farmington Institute Lecturer at Oxford University (1988-1989). He was awarded the Templeton Prize for furthering understanding of science and religion in 1987.Fr. Jaki wrote in The Origin of Science:
To the popular mind, science is completely inimical to religion: science embraces facts and evidence while religion professes blind faith. Like many simplistic popular notions, this view is mistaken. Modern science is not only compatible with Christianity, it in fact finds its origins in Christianity. This is not to say that the Bible is a science textbook that contains raw scientific truths, as some evangelical Christians would have us believe. The Christian faith contains deeper truths — truths with philosophical consequences that make conceivable the mind's exploration of nature: man's place in God's creation, who God is and how he freely created a cosmos.So, science as we know it became possible because of Christianity. But wait, there's more.
In Christ and Science (p. 23), Jaki gives four reasons for modern science's unique birth in Christian Western Europe:
1. "Once more the Christian belief in the Creator allowed a break-through in thinking about nature. Only a truly transcendental Creator could be thought of as being powerful enough to create a nature with autonomous laws without his power over nature being thereby diminished. Once the basic among those laws were formulated science could develop on its own terms."
2. "The Christian idea of creation made still another crucially important contribution to the future of science. It consisted in putting all material beings on the same level as being mere creatures. Unlike in the pagan Greek cosmos, there could be no divine bodies in the Christian cosmos. All bodies, heavenly and terrestrial, were now on the same footing, on the same level. this made it eventually possible to assume that the motion of the moon and the fall of a body on earth could be governed by the same law of gravitation. The assumption would have been a sacrilege in the eyes of anyone in the Greek pantheistic tradition, or in any similar tradition in any of the ancient cultures."
3. "Finally, man figured in the Christian dogma of creation as a being specially created in the image of God. This image consisted both in man's rationality as somehow sharing in God's own rationality and in man's condition as an ethical being with eternal responsibility for his actions. Man's reflection on his own rationality had therefore to give him confidence that his created mind could fathom the rationality of the created realm."
4. "At the same time, the very createdness could caution man to guard agains the ever-present temptation to dictate to nature what it ought to be. The eventual rise of the experimental method owes much to that Christian matrix."
Fr. Jaki also writes in The Gist of Catholicism:
From the prolific use which Saint Augustine made of the word Catholic against the Donatists it should be enough to recall the following points. One is about the method which travelers should use in finding the right church. They are instructed to inquire about the church that carries the label catholic. Augustine would not have specified that method had the Arians succeeded in their effort to wrest the label “Catholic” from the orthodox. “Even the heretics,” wrote Augustine, “call catholic church only what is in fact a catholic church.”1 Augustine also explicitly states that “catholic” cannot exist in separation from “Roman.” He warned: “You should not believe that you teach catholic doctrine, unless you also teach that it is taught by the Roman Church as something to be believed.”2Meanwhile, Thomas Woods writes in How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization:
Luther, in this connection too, revealed his defective reading of Augustine when he charged the papacy with the crime of buying with money the tie between Christian and Catholic. Further, it was not justified to keep referring to Augustine and at the same time brandishing the Bible as the sole source of truth. For Augustine had already stated a crucial point: It was about the unique, indispensable role of the Catholic Church, which for Augustine was inseparable from the Church of Rome, in vouching for the credibility of the Gospels.3 Present-day Evangelicals, who want even less ecclesial structure than the “mainstream” Protestants, may take note. Lutherans in particular may recall with profit, that it was one of their number, Adolph Harnack, who came to a conclusion which surely must have been a hard pill for them to swallow. According to Harnack the Christian Church was unmistakably Catholic already in the middle of the third century, showing distinct similarities with the modern Roman Catholic Church.
The Church also played an indispensable role in another essential development in Western civilization: the creation of the university. The university was an utterly new phenomenon in European history. Nothing like it had existed in ancient Greece or Rome. The institution that we recognize today, with its faculties, courses of study, examinations, and degrees, as well as the familiar distinction between undergraduate and graduate study, come to us directly from the medieval world. And it is no surprise that the Church should have done so much to foster the nascent university system, since the Church, according to historian Lowrie Daly, "was the only institution in Europe that showed consistent interest in the preservation and cultivation of knowledge."So G. K. Chesterton wrote in Why I Am A Catholic (which inspired this blog post):
The Bible by itself cannot be a basis of agreement when it is a cause of disagreement; it cannot be the common ground of Christians when some take it allegorically and some literally. The Catholic refers it to something that can say something, to the living, consistent, and continuous mind of which I have spoken; the highest mind of man guided by God.This "trysting-place of all the truths in the world" is rife with scandal, corruption, and venality — as much a Church for sinners (even the former abortionist Bernard Nathanson) as it is for Saints. If you're so inclined, you can read Nathanson's conversion story. Now, if the Catholic Church was merely a human invention, instead of the Church that Christ Himself founded, it should have long ago imploded from the gross iniquity of its members. But it has not only survived for over 2000 years, it's actually growing. And even if it might shrink in the future as its more nominal adherents fall away, it won't implode.
Every moment increases for us the moral necessity for such an immortal mind. We must have something that will hold the four corners of the world still, while we make our social experiments or build our Utopias. For instance, we must have a final agreement, if only on the truism of human brotherhood, that will resist some reaction of human brutality. Nothing is more likely just now than that the corruption of representative government will lead to the rich breaking loose altogether, and trampling on all the traditions of equality with mere pagan pride. We must have the truisms everywhere recognized as true. We must prevent mere reaction and the dreary repetition of the old mistakes. We must make the intellectual world safe for democracy. But in the conditions of modern mental anarchy, neither that nor any other ideal is safe. just as Protestants appealed from priests to the Bible, and did not realize that the Bible also could be questioned, so republicans appealed from kings to the people, and did not realize that the people also could be defied. There is no end to the dissolution of ideas, the destruction of all tests of truth, that has become possible since men abandoned the attempt to keep a central and civilized Truth, to contain all truths and trace out and refute all errors. Since then, each group has taken one truth at a time and spent the time in turning it into a falsehood. We have had nothing but movements; or in other words, monomanias. But the Church is not a movement but a meeting-place; the trysting-place of all the truths in the world.
Here's an example of why:
During the 1990s, J. Budziszewski rose to prominence as one of the leading intellectual lights among Evangelical Christians in America. A political theorist with a special interest in the natural-law tradition, he was highly sought as a speaker at conferences organized by groups such as the InterVarsity Fellowship and Campus Crusade for Christ. A principal theme of his many talks to American campus groups is captured in the title of his 1999 book, How to Stay Christian in College.Certainly there are serious challenges to the growth of the Catholic Church: other Christian churches, Islam, the secularization of the industrialized world, and so on. But don't let growth rates fool you. The important thing to reflect on is: which Christian church can actually be traced right back to the Apostles? The same Church that decided which books belong in the Bible.
For some Evangelical Protestants, then, it came as a jolt when, on Easter Sunday 2004, Budziszewski was received into the Catholic Church...
Some years ago, during a long conversation with a Catholic friend who knew of my attraction to the Church, I indulged in a bit of bellyaching. "I can’t call this an objection to Catholic doctrine," I said, "but you can’t deny the flat tonelessness of the language coming from some of the liturgical reforms. Besides, the Church puts up with forms of popular piety that are utterly inconsistent with its own teachings." My example was an urban Catholic church I knew that displayed the motto "MARY, SAVE US" in enormous letters. I said, "You know, I know, and the Church knows that Mary doesn’t save us. Mary points to her Son. Jesus saves us. So why is this tolerated?"
My friend leaned back and answered, "All of this is true. These are real problems. The Church knows about them. But in 200 years they’ll all be taken care of."
It was a preposterous reply, and on another evening, in another mood, I might have considered it glib. That evening, though, it struck me that my friend was viewing things from the perspective of the Church. As a Protestant, I realized that I had a much shorter timeline and that much of what I considered wisdom might actually be impatience. The mystery of the endurance of the Church through the centuries sank in a little deeper.
And if you note what date it is today, the year is 2007. According to the Gregorian calendar. Even the very basis for our 21st-century computer date calculations was formally established by the Catholic Church, almost five centuries ago. Fancy that.
This quote from G. K. Chesterton sums things up nicely:
The difficulty of explaining "why I am a Catholic" is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true. I could fill all my space with separate sentences each beginning with the words, "It is the only thing that . . ." As, for instance, (1) It is the only thing that really prevents a sin from being a secret. (2) It is the only thing in which the superior cannot be superior; in the sense of supercilious. (3) It is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age. (4) It is the only thing that talks as if it were the truth; as if it were a real messenger refusing to tamper with a real message. (5) It is the only type of Christianity that really contains every type of man; even the respectable man. (6) It is the only large attempt to change the world from the inside; working through wills and not laws; and so on.
Hmm.Like many college-bound people, I went through an agnostic period in university — I never could quite manage becoming an atheist. After much reflection however, I understood the full import of what Ivan Karamazov (of Dostoevksi's The Brothers Karamazov) said: "If there is no God, everything is permitted." And that sent a chill through the core of my being. Thus began my journey back into the Church of my youth.
If you're interested in coming home, trust me — you're not alone.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
When I was growing up, my parents were almost involved in various volunteer things. My dad was head of Planned Parenthood. And it was very controversial to be involved with that. And so it's fascinating. At the dinner table my parents are very good at sharing the things that they were doing. And almost treating us like adults, talking about that.
My mom was on the United Way group that decides how to allocate the money and looks at all the different charities and makes the very hard decisions about where that pool of funds is going to go. So I always knew there was something about really educating people and giving them choices in terms of family size.
Good grief, it's bad enough that Microsoft Windows is already installed on over 90% of the world's personal computers, but to think that every time I pay for a Microsoft product I help to fund the murder of unborn children makes me sick to my stomach. And I even went to the trouble of getting Microsoft-certified on Windows XP. Sigh.
There are alternatives to Microsoft products, you know. If you're so inclined, try Linux, or if you want something that's much less of a hassle, get a Mac. Please. Either way, you'll have far fewer problems with viruses and other malware. I played with Windows 1.0 in 1985, I've installed and configured it for other people starting with 2.0, and I've been using it regularly myself since Windows 3.1. My involvement with Windows ends with XP and 2003. No Vista for me.
Now, if you're from Canada and you've read this far, why not join the fight to end abortion?
Friday, February 16, 2007
These men were both right about problems with schools as these are currently organised, but they both also missed a much larger issue: contemporary mass compulsion schooling (note that I don't use the word education) is itself dysfunctional in many ways. How so? Consider John Taylor Gatto's assertion (and remember, he taught in New York City public schools for 30 years and was awarded New York State Teacher of the Year at the end of his career):
I want to open up concealed aspects of modern schooling such as the deterioration it forces in the morality of parenting. You have no say at all in choosing your teachers. You know nothing about their backgrounds or families. And the state knows little more than you do. This is as radical a piece of social engineering as the human imagination can conceive. What does it mean?
One thing you do know is how unlikely it will be for any teacher to understand the personality of your particular child or anything significant about your family, culture, religion, plans, hopes, dreams. In the confusion of school affairs even teachers so disposed don’t have opportunity to know those things. How did this happen?
Before you hire a company to build a house, you would, I expect, insist on detailed plans showing what the finished structure was going to look like. Building a child’s mind and character is what public schools do, their justification for prematurely breaking family and neighborhood learning. Where is documentary evidence to prove this assumption that trained and certified professionals do it better than people who know and love them can? There isn’t any.
Think carefully about what Gatto wrote, and then watch Ken Robinson's 2006 speech on creativity and education. You'll wonder why we've so readily accepted the way schools label children and even insist that they be medicated for the sake of managing the classroom environment. Many parents, hungry for the quick fix so they can get on with getting on, accept the diagnosis without too much protest. Forget behavioral modification, which takes patience, effort, and time — all of which are in increasingly short supply these days.
Therein lies another tragedy — the corruption and death of the soul of Western civilization. As Mother Teresa observed: "When a mother can kill her unborn child, what is left of the West to save?"
Oh, we certainly need educational reform — more urgently than ever. But this won't happen for as long as we don't see the kind of social reform that is only possible when people are angry or disturbed enough about the status quo to actually do something about it. A friend wrote to me in January 2003:
I took a position in the Histopathology lab of the Foothills Hospital. On my first day of training they took me over to a dozen buckets of abortions and told me they were to be dissected daily and prepared for processing. For the next 8 months I had to look without deception or illusion at the way our culture regards the gift of life. This experience woke me up out of my complacency like a hammer over the head and I began to pray and seek God and ask for a revelation of truth. It led me back to the Catholic Church that I had left at the age of 20. I experienced a deep conversion but when I returned to the Church I was horrified to discover droves of people who go to Church but believe like the world and are indifferent to the grave sin of the culture.Meanwhile, do we still have functioning consciences? Then we should be silent no more.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Windows Vista includes an array of "features" that you don't want. These features will make your computer less reliable and less secure. They'll make your computer less stable and run slower. They will cause technical support problems. They may even require you to upgrade some of your peripheral hardware and existing software. And these features won't do anything useful. In fact, they're working against you. They're digital rights management (DRM) features built into Vista at the behest of the entertainment industry. And you don't get to refuse them.Oh boy. When one of the planet's leading crypto experts outs Vista as a DRM hairball, you have to wonder how long before the Redmond fans call him an inveterate Microsoft-basher, but don't hold your breath. The simple reality is that most computer users don't know anything other than Windows (and Internet Explorer, or IE), either because their employers force them to use IE, or because they've never tried anything else. Firefox is so much safer to use — by comparison Internet Explorer 6 was unprotected for 284 days in 2006. I'm not kidding.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Scott Finnie wrote:
After living with the Mac for three months and comparing it with my Vista experiences, the choice is crystal clear. I've struggled to sort out my gut feeling about Windows Vista (see "The Trouble with Vista"), but the value and advantage of the Mac and OS X are difficult to miss. While I continue to work with Windows XP and Vista on a number of other machines, I am now recommending the Macintosh for business and home users.It's as if the scales fell from his eyes. Apparently, he's not the only one — Stephen Manes writes for Forbes:
Windows Vista: more than five years in the making, more than 50 million lines of code. The result? A vista slightly more inspiring than the one over the town dump. The new slogan is: "The 'Wow' Starts Now," and Microsoft touts new features, many filched shamelessly from Apple's Macintosh. But as with every previous version, there's no wow here, not even in ironic quotes. Vista is at best mildly annoying and at worst makes you want to rush to Redmond, Wash. and rip somebody's liver out.Ouch.
Why would Vista elicit such viscerally negative reactions? Some of the comments seen in the blogosphere are revealing. From Mini-Microsoft:
I wish I had done more day-to-day home-use testing. I looked forward to using Outlook 2007, but in the end I've settled on Gmail for my domain. Same with Vista/IE7, there are a lot of obvious bugs and issues that if I had done more day-to-day testing I would have reported on.And:
I know you'd like to hear positive news about Vista, but we ended up sending both back to Dell this morning. Out of the box, both machines reported driver conflicts. Updating didn't help. The video cards were unrecognized. Now, this may be Dell's fault rather than Microsoft's, but Vista gets the blame.Or from This Lamp:
Tonight one of my students was struggling to get some assignments transferred from her new Acer laptop (bought just this week) to a flash drive that I handed to her. She muttered something about hating "this new Windows Vista," so I walked over to her desk to see if I could help. She had only booted the laptop a few minutes earlier, loaded her documents into Word, and was now trying to save them to my flash drive--which is supposed to be driverless on any system. What I saw when I looked at her screen was a total freeze up. The mouse pointer wouldn't move. I tried to alt-tab between applications. Nothing. I tried a control-alt-delete. Nothing.No matter what's causing such incompatibilities, it makes for an abysmal out-of-the-box user experience. 'The "Wow" Starts Now' sounds apropos — just not in a good way.
As I held down the power button to shutoff her laptop, I would've been speechless had it not been for the one word that came to mind.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Saturday, January 06, 2007
"The most frightening aspect is the omnipresent question mark that surrounds me, the absolute uncertainty of how ... my life will turn out. There are occasions when a kind of fury overcomes me ... to think that he has marked me for life."I have to ask: what did she expect, anyway? Recall what I wrote earlier about donating blood, where I was asked about my sexual history. One of the questions was: "Have you ever had sex with a woman who may have had sex with other partners?" And this brings me to another point: the widespread use of contraception so that women may control their "reproductive rights" has lulled our culture into accepting the notion that sexual intercourse outside of marriage is okay. It's not.
Pope Paul VI had it right when he wrote against contraception in Humanae Vitae:
"Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection."Compare and contrast: "reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires" and "consider her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection."
And what, pray tell, did Vincent Walkem say when asked by the judge why he lied about his HIV-positive status?
"There's nothing I can say that can justify it. I wish it never happened," Walkem said. "I hope in the future to seek counselling to figure out why I made these terrible decisions."Uh-huh. Counselling?
Psst — hey Vincent, rent a clue: you're a sinner (like the rest of us).
Trouble is, Vincent bought the lies our culture tells us (about lots of things).
Vast sums of money are being spent on developing treatments for HIV/AIDS — it's all going down the drain so long as we don't get people to change their behaviour. We can only do this if we change our thinking. There are many serious problems in the world: for starters, we're killing millions of unborn children. Developing expensive treatments so we can indulge our self-destructive behaviours shouldn't be high on our priority list. AIDS prevention through chastity education is a better strategy. Don't take my word for it — listen to this guy.
And what of the (now) 23-year old woman who tested HIV-positive?
The woman described how she suffers from frequent colds, "night sweats," fatigue and fevers, as well as depression, panic attacks and insomnia.
Because of these "permanent anxieties," she said in her victim impact statement, she's "unable to indulge in the relatively carefree life" of her friends.
Carefree life? Is that code language for immorality? Sorry, girl, game over. Think about using your situation to explain to others what sleeping around did to you. Otherwise, you're being as obtuse as the man who infected you.
We all are — unless we repent, and "Go, sin no more." (Jn 8:11)