Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Long Loneliness

Yes, I am aware that I am stealing the title of Dorothy Day's great autobiography, and yet there is something to that particular title.  I spend a lot of time thinking, and probably more time than I need to - a trait that drives me insane frequently, and at the same time I can't seem to stop doing this.

I often feel a sense of abandonment, a sense that not a whole lot of people truly understand what I am about or why I think certain things, and why I have a certain personality.  It's easy to gravitate toward the bubbly and the photogenic personalities, but quite often there isn't any substance behind it; it's look good from the front, but in profile, the personality is as thin as a playing card.

For many years, I have been an odd duck - very sarcastic, very cynical, and a twisted and morbid sense of humor; such things happen with various things happening in childhood and in teenage years.  Nevertheless, the things that are important to me - God, family, duty, honor, and obligation - all override any 'quirks' of mine.

Loyalty leads to loneliness in a lot of ways - loyalty comes at such a high premium, and people are so willing to throw all of that away, and for what?  Cheap thrills?  Instant gratification?  When that is thrown away, who can you trust anymore?  What is the point? 

It is so frustrating that we live in a world where people are so willing to abandon the things that truly make them human - instead they move along to things that ultimately devalue and deconstruct their humanity.  It's sickening in a lot of ways, but it isn't surprising, just frustrating. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Good Phight Poster #3

The Good Phight Poster #2

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Good Phight Poster

Monday, March 22, 2010

God Bless America, Land That I Love...

...because the old grey mare, she ain't what she used to be.

With the passage of the health-care bill by the US House of Representatives, the country has been fundamentally altered.  I am not going to spend my time discussing every single way this is the case, because others have done it in much more concise and comprehensive manner.

I do have some predictions, however.

- The 'mandate' that everyone must buy some form of medical insurance will be struck down as unconstitutional.  It is not in the purview of the federal government to force its citizens to buy a particular product and therefore the lawsuits that will be brought on almost simultaneously the moment the president signs the bill will prevail.

- Abortions will be paid for, no matter what executive order gets signed.  Executive orders cannot supersede the law and in this case, the order isn't worth even the paper that we place under our cat's litterbox.  I think Bart Stupak was misled, or rather, was willing to be misled, just so he would have a reason to vote yea.

- Costs will rise, because demand will rise while supply remains the same or even shrinks.  The taxation involved with get people out of the business, whether in medicine, pharmaceuticals, or insurance.  People tend to abuse things when it is 'free' - and this will be no exception.

- The Democratic Party will have a catastrophic election season, and they won't care.  They bank on the fact that the Republicans will not have the spine to try and repeal this monstrosity of a bill.  They are probably right, although I hope that isn't the case.  Whatever the case, though, the Democrats own this bill in its entirety.

- 'Insurance' as we know it will cease to exist.  The provisions in the bill preventing rejection for reasons of 'pre-existing' conditions render any idea of insurance (risk management) nonsensical.  The reason medical insurance was instituted was to insure against financial ruin - not to 'insure' health.  We can't insure something that we know will eventually fail.  With this particular provision, people can buy 'insurance' the instant they get sick, which is not insurance at all, and then drop it once they feel better again.  

Not all hope is lost, but most of it is.  Nevertheless, nil desperandum.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bowling Tournaments

The 2010 Knights of Columbus Regional Tournament is being hosted by my council (PG #2809), and it started this morning at the AMF Laurel Lanes.  I was there to help registration and sell goodies such as shirts, towels, and beer mugs (really, you think we could be a good Catholic men's organization if we didn't have something that facilitated the consumption of adult beverages?).  After everything got underway and the bowlers were playing, a few of us got a lane to practice on these lanes, knowing that in three weeks, we will have to bowl on them.  Not being our 'house', we have to figure out what is going on with the lanes.

The lanes in Laurel are wood - at least they appear that way, rather than the synthetic surfaces found in a lot of alleys nowadays.   I throw a sweeping curve - and curve it did...overshooting the pocket with regularity.  Bowling is a game of millimeters and finding the groove is crucial.  Eventually, I filled in as a sub for a group who was short a man, and I simply wasn't able to apply what I knew intellectually to be the case.  I averaged probably about a 175 per game - 15 pins below normal for me.  It was humbling and enlightening.  Hopefully, when it comes time to bowl competitively, I won't botch it.  But I am not holding my breath.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Random Ramblings

- Happy St. Mick's Day, you all.  No, I don't call it "St. Patrick's Day" unless it is related to an actual Christian celebration.  March 17th has as much to do with St. Patrick as February 14th has to do with St. Valentine.  I remember when I was a little kid going to public school in kindergarten and first grade and it was called 'Patrick's Day', as if it were about some random guy named Patrick.  Imagine a bunch of Jewish kids wearing green and shamrocks - that's what that day was like back then.

- Bowling is tonight.  I sucked so bad last week.  Hopefully it comes a little better this time.

- I have assumed duty of proctoring Wednesday detentions for the rest of the year.  Not a terrible gig at all.

- The baseball season is just around the corner, finally.  I have been looking forward to it for some time.  We are probably going to see a game on April 8th, when the Phillies are in town to play the Nationals.

- I picked up MLB '09: The Show for the PS2, and I am terrible.  5-8 so far to start the season.  No offense, no timely hitting, and I keep hitting into double plays and giving up that one hit that begins the avalanche when I least expect it.  

- The quarter ends on Friday, and finally, I will be able to return to regular blogging.  It has been a rough past few weeks - between trying to get back into the routine after the snow storms.  Things should settle down in the next week, especially as Spring Break is going to start in a little over a week from now.  

- Our Knights of Columbus bowling league is hosting the regional tournament this year, and I get to be part of the crew working the registration and all that.  We don't bowl ourselves in it until the week after Easter.  It will be very fun.

- Friday is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, which means we can eat meat!  No penance is permitted, actually.  Canon Law forbids penance on solemnities, I have been told.

- March Madness begins tomorrow, and I am in two groups, with the same bracket.  Why do people actually care what the President has picked as his brackets.  Jesus, ESPN is running it as a front page story.  Who cares???

- Ok, I need a breather.  See you all later.  Have a good rest of the week.  Enjoy.

~ Josh

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lattanzi, Why Do You Hate The Environment?

This question was posited to me during class yesterday after I had made a quip about not wanting to wear green for the 'environmental awareness' tag day (which is an out of uniform day).  So why do I hate the environment?

The answer is - I don't.

What I do dislike immensely is the fetishization of the environment and its related causes.  Let me be clear - I am an advocate of good stewardship of the earth, but as I have posted elsewhere (here, here, and here), the green movement drives me crazy.  The entirety of the movement is slactivism, par excellence.  How much 'awareness' are we going to raise without actually doing anything?  Actually, no one needs to answer that, because the answer is we can't really do that much.  We should be good stewards because God gave us this world to live in, not because of some misguided notion that we need to repent for some kind of 'environmental sins' (real and/or imagined). 

I guess the real issue I take with the question is how loaded it is.  Who is really against clean air or clean water?  The assuming that people who don't agree with the green agenda are people acting in bad faith and have bad intentions.  It is always best to know how your opponent actually thinks before you actually begin to accuse him.  Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to happen too much across the board.  Nowadays, the tactic seems to be who can be the loudest and quickest to make the point.  

That's a shame.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fast Days

Sorry for the lack of posting.  It has been very hectic both at home and at school these days.  We are rapidly approaching the end of the marking period, and with the two weeks of school missed because of the snow storms, we are trying to make up the time.  Hopefully, once the weekend of the 20th comes, things will be settled.  Until then, it will be light in the posting department.  Have fun, y'all!

~ Josh

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Academy Awards Kabuki Theater

Tonight has the large self-congratulatory ceremony known as the Oscars - in which we get to hear what a bunch of stuffy Hollywood insiders think passes for the 'best' in various categories.  Most award shows are exercises of an incestuous thought-process; groupthink, as it were.  For the makers of theses movies films, it's nice to get that pat on the back from the Academy, but the real measure of success is from the actual people who to see their product.  

Likewise, the movie that does piss-poor at the box office and yet wins an Oscar usually elicits an extremely condescending speech about how the hoi polloi misunderstand the 'true meaning' of the film and are just too stupid to know good 'art' when they see it.  My take on films like that is mostly that they are too boring or try too hard to 'make a point'.  If you have to labor to make a point, then it probably shouldn't be made - it's like having to explain a punchline to a joke.  Remember, Hollywood - movies are supposed to be entertainment and escapism.  If we want serious everyday tragic events, we can watch the news and read the papers. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

$7 Gas Is Not A Solution

There have been some reports coming out about the need to eliminate our dependency on foreign oil and the solutions that certain factions are proposing to cure that dependency.  One such solution is echoed by the Washington Post editorial board this morning - raising the gas tax

It is a solution that is doomed to failure.  Why?  Because depending on the goal, the tax itself will become an addiction.  Witness what happened with tobacco taxes - they were allegedly to pay for health programs and schools, with the idea also of getting people to stop smoking.  The problem was it worked too well - people quit smoking and revenues dropped, caused a vicious cycle of raising the tax to cover the lost revenue.  Now, people in some states are paying as much as eight dollars for a pack of cigarettes.  

A similar cycle will occur with gasoline taxes, especially if they are use to 'reduce the deficit' (as the Post editorial says should be a goal) - as demand would fall a bit with expensive gas and the states and the feds would scramble to regain that revenue. 

The solution to end dependence on foreign oil is to shift our electrical grid entirely into non-oil based energy sources, such as nuclear power, coal, wind, solar, and natural gas and leave the oil specifically for vehicles while at the same time begin to develop more fully the fuel sources to take us into the future in vehicular movement.  It's an eminently sensible idea but it would take time to do, and in our ADD/instant gratification society, it's all about now, now, NOW!!  An increase in the gas tax is precisely an ADD response to a long-term problem.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The New Convocation Center

Tomorrow, we will be opening the new Convocation Center at DeMatha, which I have come to call "The D", for reasons known to me, my students, and some of my friends.  It is a beautiful facility, and along with the revamped MAC (Music Activities Center), we are the class of the Catholic schools in the region.  Archbishop Wuerl will be around tomorrow to bless the building, as per custom.  I took a few pictures, but I want to wait to post many of them.  Here is one, though.  This is from the courtyard between the Monastery, Art Center, and MAC...

Monday, March 1, 2010

One of the True Secrets to Health Care Reform

Health care isn't necessarily broken, as many people would have us believe.  The reason is that too many people still refuse to separate the care itself from the ability to pay - which is the real issue here.  The care is the finest in the world, as even Canadians can attest, but when most people complain about 'health care', they are really complaining about the cost.  We can go on and on about things like tort reform, portability, and interstate competition, and while those are important and need to be addressed, the people on the ground don't truly get to see those reforms immediately; they will take time to see the real effects.

The reform that needs to occur is the rise of more store-style clinics.  They can be run by nurse-practitioners and upstart doctors.  Insurance is not an issue, and almost any kind of non-life-threatening illness or injury could be treated there.  The flu, colds, broken bones, stitches, et cetera can all be treated with no middle man and patients can pay with cash or credit.  There would be no middle man, no ridiculous emergency room markup charges, and things would be done at a market price.  You can get a flu shot for 15 bucks at the local CVS, but with insurance, it would cost 92 at your physician's practice.

This benefits the whole system - there is no need for a reimbursement-based model that so many hospitals and practices have.  You get what you pay for on the spot.  Likewise, the clogging of the emergency room for things that could be simply treated in one of these clinics should be cut back immensely.  The emergency room would be restored to the status that gives it its name - life-threatening situations.