February 21st, 2007


Ash Wednesday

Well, here we are again in Lent. I try not to make a habit of beating myself up in public about my many failures as a Catholic, but looking back over the last year it's hard to avoid the truth that this has been a pretty sucky year for me as far as the spiritual life goes. I do have the excuse available that all of this is harder without a supportive community, but it's just that: an excuse. So. I'll take another shot at using the next forty days to get my soul squared away as much as I can, and hope for the best.

It might be mildly amusing to put up a poll asking what people think I should give up for Lent, but on the other hand making a big public deal out of it strikes me as being pharasaitic, and I'm afraid I do too much of that already.

Song unrelated, BTW. No, really.

It's my dream. It's my nightmare.

OK, this is funny.
Especially the part about the meatloaf.

As fascinated as I am by the whole OS-tan phenomenon, I have to admit that waking up next to Homeko or 2K-tan (The Professional) would scare the crap out of me, and with that, I'm going to bring this train of thought to a halt, damp the fires, drain the boilers, and walk away slowly. No good comes of dwelling on that sort of thing, but much twistedness; it would be a completely inappropriate way to start Lent. (Schlock Mercenary)
the mark

The modern upper-class household

Cobb has an interesting post on servants and how they're really necessary for the modern married couple that wants to have it all - two careers, kids, all that stuff. Well, in truth, he's not talking about just servants, but some kind of live-in help, whether it's family or au pairs or whatever.

To a great extent, technology has reduced the need for servants, because a lot of the work formerly done by servants has been mechanized or moved out of the house. Prepared food is less expensive, more available, and of better quality than it was in the 19th century; washers and dryers make laundry less of a full-time job than it used to be. I could expand on this ad nauseam but you get the picture. Unfortunately there are some things that simply can't be automated or bought off the shelf at the WalMart or Target. Child care requires real live human beings, and despite the advent of the Roomba you either have to clean up after yourself or hire somebody to do it. Now, labor is expensive, so for a lot of folks a nanny or au pair isn't an option, and you get child care instead. I regret that during my time on the Governor's Early Education & Child Care Advisory Committee it never occurred to me to ask the folks that were all hot for child-care subsidies how comfortable they were dishing out subsidies to the middle class for servants.

It also occurs to me that technology has enabled us to replace tutors with computer software, provided that you get the right package and filter your kids' access to the interbutt. Careful now.

EFF barking up the wrong tree?

I'd been vaguely aware of the Army getting into monitoring milblogs for violations of OPSEC and the like, and didn't get too excited about it; it's an Internet Age updating of some of the same work I and my fellow linguists used to do back in the day. (There were also troops who spent all their time doing this sort of work, and they were regarded as one step above pond scum.) I hadn't been aware that the Electronic Freedom Foundation had stuck its nose into the matter, but I have to say this strikes me as a sure loser on their part. There has never been any question but that you accept limits on your free speech rights when you put on the uniform, and that goes double for the troops in time of war. So it strikes me that the Army was actually a tad late in deploying AWRAC; for sure the jihadis have been looking over the milblogs since they first heard of them.
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She might be onto something here.

Or she could be full of it. You be the judge.
Blogging is supposed to be rude, anarchic and distinctly "unofficial". Hiring a "campaign blogger" is like hiring a "campaign farter" or setting up a "campaign mosh pit." "Official" bloggers are to real bloggers what the Monkees are to the Beatles, except that's unfair to the Monkees, who actually put out some damn fine recordings. Make that "what Jazzercise is to jazz".

So says Kathy Shaidle in the wake of the whole Marcotte/McEwan/Edwards goat rope.

I guess that all depends on what you mean by blogging. It seems pretty obvious to me that (contra Shaidle) a blog is just a means to an end, a means of getting the word out when you think you have something important to say or want to point interesting things out to your friends and acquaintances. You don't have to enable comments, you don't have to hang your own private life out there, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. Including listening to Ms. Shaidle, although she is pretty amusing and interesting to me. Makes me wonder how many punk rock girls grew up to be Catholic bloggers; I know of two, but there's almost certainly more.
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The Lion and the Unicorn and Uncle Sam

After reading GVDL's remix of Orwell's 1941 essay "The Lion and the Unicorn" and then reading the essay itself, I got to thinking about the analogy that many of us who support the war are fond of drawing between 21st century America and England in the 1940s. It's a comforting analogy, and provides us with plenty of snark to unleash upon the anti-war crowd, especially those in the media and academia. Like all analogies, though, it has some serious problems and those need to be talked about, because they affect the underlying pro-war dialectic in bad ways.
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To be continued.