Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lattanzi Land 2013 Hall Of Fame Ballot

Every year the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) has the opportunity to put retired or deceased players into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. The rules for election require that a player needs to be named on seventy-five percent of all submitted ballots. He can remain on the ballot if he does not gain election for up to fifteen years, provided that the player has received at least five percent of the ballots. I have written about changing this process but this is the system we have.

I have done ballots for the past two years (2011 and 2012); no, I don't possess a BBWAA ballot, but this is how I would vote if I did.

This is an interesting year for Hall of Fame voting.  There are thirty-seven players on the ballot, and thanks to the rules of the self-appointed gatekeepers of the Hall of Fame, each voter can only submit a ballot with up to ten names on it, regardless of who is actually worthy. Thirteen of the thirty-seven are returning to the ballot from last year, so there are twenty-four new names on the list.

As I have done in the past, I divide my ballot here at Lattanzi Land into four categories:

1) HELL-No.
2) No
3) Borderline No
4) Yes

If you are looking for stats - GO HERE - this is the Baseball-Reference complete Hall of Fame Ballot, complete with the breakdown of numbers for each player on it.  There are also links to each player's page.  When I mention stats, I use the numbers from Baseball-Reference. The ballot begins after the jump!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Remakes Of Novelty Christmas Songs...

So I was driving into school this morning and listening to WASH-FM, which runs Christmas music from the 15th of November through Christmas, and in quick succession, played three straight novelty songs:

1) "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"

2) "Last Christmas"

3) "Jingle Bell Rock"

The issue is that none of these three songs were performed by their original artists; each one of them was a remake/cover the original.

I enjoy the first and third songs.  I have called for Last Christmas to be retired in all of its forms, but if I had to listen to it (as part of a torture session or whatever), I would want to hear it in its original Wham! incarnation.  "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and "Jingle Bell Rock" are both fine songs in their original incarnations - iconic in their own way.  Brenda Lee and Bobby Helms, respectively, made those songs theirs and put their stamp on it.

When I hear remakes/covers of novelty songs, I automatically put them into one of two categories, neither of which may be considered fair to the covering artist, but then again, he or she should not be remaking or covering these songs...

1) Stop trying to put your own twist on a song that was written a certain way and sung a certain way.

2) Be your own singer and stop trying to mimic the inflections of the original singer/artist.

When the first one is done, it just makes the newer artist sound foolish, because in our minds, we hear the song a certain way, and that's the way it should always be done.  Listening to Taylor Swift or the cast of Glee do "Last Christmas" just makes it sound whiny and nothing like the way Wham! did it nearly 30 years ago.

When the second category is broached, it is just a reminder that the attempt to be a facsimile of the original is an inherent acknowledgement of inferiority.  LeAnn Rimes does what is perhaps the closest mimic of Brenda Lee's style of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree", but it just isn't the same.  And it never will be.  It can't be.  LeAnn Rimes is not Brenda Lee.  

Keep in mind, this isn't the same as many different variations of carols or other traditional songs.  I love listening to different variations of "O Holy Night" - even Eric Cartman's - because those are the types of songs that are open to different arrangements.  Novelty songs, on the other hand, are not.  They were written with particular artists in mind.  "It's the Most Wonderful of the Year" will never be as good with anyone other than Andy Williams singing. "Silent Night" can be beautiful with Boyz II Men, Josh Groban, Celtic Woman, or the local parish choir all singing in different keys and speeds.

If you don't believe there is a difference in the perceptions of traditional and novelty songs, you are fooling yourself.  If some pop artist ever remakes "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer", call me and let me know what you think.

I can already tell you - it will be inherently inferior to Elmo and Patsy.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

13 Days Remain...

...until absolutely nothing happens on December 21.

People are needlessly panicking over something that isn't going to happen - the alleged "Mayan Doomsday". It has been over three years since the film 2012 was released and the brouhaha over the so-called "Long Calendar".  I wrote the following over three years ago...
I also know that all of the hubbub over December 21, 2012 would never have occurred if we truly had stuck to our Christian roots instead of buying every last pagan scenario - or worse - projected pieces of Christian theology onto pagan scenarios...

If the supposedly professed Christians of the world were serious about their faith, then none of this stuff would bother them. Instead, all of this shows what materialistic quasi-pagans the so-called Christians of the (Western) world are. Obviously, they don't take the Lord's words seriously in any meaningful way - they believe some obscure broken tablet found in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico with more gusto than they do the promises of Christ. Strange people indeed.
Those words of Christ?
But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only (Matthew 24:36)
Granted, people have not been perfect (see the Millerites, Jehovah's Witnesses, Dispensationalists, et cetera), but in all seriousness, it is very pathetic to see the modern day emphasis on the sort of nonsense one would used to find only in cheesy novels and the sci-fi "community" (a word that needs banning, if there ever was one).  The mainstreaming of these thoughts shows once again how far we have fallen off the horse.

Monday, November 26, 2012

One Year Later...

Well, at least one liturgical year later, that is.

So all the hand-wringing that came in the run up to the implementation of the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal has pretty much fallen by the wayside.  The people who wanted to complain were going to complain one way or another, because that's what people like to do.  

While I have memorized the Creed and the Gloria, many still use the cards in the pew racks, which is absolutely fine; my grandmother has read along with the Creed for as long as I can remember, current or old translations.

What is your favorite part?  I like the re-translation of the Institution Narrative of the Eucharistic Prayer the best.  I commented that the most important aspects were the re-translating of calix into 'chalice' instead of 'cup' and pro multis into 'for many' rather than 'for all'.  I also particularly enjoy the removal of the profane from the Mass and the re-emphasis on the sacred.  Consider all the royal-style language placed back in - all of the "O" references (O Lord, O God, et cetera), as if we are addressing the King of the Universe, rather than our beer guzzling buddy at the bar, Jeeezus!

The most ironic complaint I have heard during the implementation of the revised Missal was that the Church didn't care about the people's feelings in doing this.  God forbid that we actually experience the other while we are attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  If I wanted a damn social meeting, I'd go join the Kiwanis!  Mass is the other - it is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.  God forbid also that the Church require standards for its members and require them to boost their vocabulary   The horror!  It shouldn't be lowest common denominator-style of worship; it should be elevating, it should be vertical.  It's not about us.

Repeat after me - the Mass is not about us.

I was always behind this change as soon as it was announced; I didn't care beforehand, but the first couple of times I attended the Mass in Latin (Mass of Paul VI, not of Pius V - the "Tridentine" Mass), I got the keen sense that we weren't saying things correctly in English.  I said it in the initial post linked at the very top that had we gotten this right in 1969-70, all of these problems never would have occurred.  Instead, you end up with the same people who were clamoring for vernacular in the liturgy ironically bitching because we now have better vernacular in the liturgy.

So you know what I have to say.  What say you?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Unelectable Me...

I have been told on occasion that I should run for office. This will never happen.

I am unelectable in American society.  Why?

My stance on abortion.  This renders me unelectable in and of itself.  This can change, of course, but in America in 2012, I would be considered incapable of holding office.

Consider the two parties...

The Democratic Party is the party for whom abortion is a modern-day sacrament.  There is no more pro-life wing of the party anymore.  While the Republican Party is slightly better, they'd never have me as a candidate because I'm an "extremist" on the subject because I do not hold to the so-called "exceptions" that seem to make their way into the platform - for reasons I detail here.

This is ok - I never wanted office anyway and I can live with that.  It is sad, though, that we have come to a point where being supportive of the so-called "exceptions" is considered "reasonable" and "responsible" and likewise not supporting them is "extreme".

Unfortunately, supporting the so-called "exceptions" complete abdicates and cedes the moral argument of the whole topic - determining legality and deeming as unworthy certain classes of the unborn just because of the circumstances of their conception completely opens the door to endangering the rest of the unborn.  Who is to say that a certain class is worthy or not?  

This is truly an either/or issue.  There is no way around it.  You are for it, or you are against it. No cover of "pro-choice", no "personally opposed" nonsense.  You say you are for the innocent.  Then support the most innocent of them all.  Give them a chance.  It's not too late.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Where Did The Adults Go?

There was a time when the Democratic Party was run by adults. Even as little as 6-8 years ago.

Not anymore.

Where did they all go?

I ask this because, being the political junkie that I am, I look what has happened over the past five years (including this campaign season and the 2008 campaign) and can only conclude that the Democratic Party is now being run by a bunch of children.

I am not alone in thinking (this includes people throughout the political spectrum) that had Hillary Clinton been the President of the United States (yes, she would have beaten McCain handily), we wouldn't be in half the messes we are right now.  No, I would not have voted for her - but I would not have this nagging feeling that we are headed down an irreversible path that will render this country unrecognizable should we stay on said path.

The Democratic Party has fashioned itself as the party of "the little guy" - although its wholesale support for abortion has sort of turned that away, and while that label may have been true from the New Deal through the Great Society, increasingly in the past forty years it has become the party of grievance, victimhood, and identity politics.

Even when I was kid, the Democratic Party could at least maintain the appearance of being for the little guy and for "social justice".  That is no more - it is now a party of dependence, free stuff, and consequence-free action; in other words, a party for teenagers and kids.

Victimology is for children; dependency is for children.  We have been told, according to the proverb, that when life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.  The current incarnation of the Democratic Party tells us to bitch about the lemon and call life racist/sexist/homophobic/insult du jour for doing so. Unfortunately, the children are now in charge and the adults are nowhere to be found.

This didn't happen overnight - it has been happening for over forty years (1968 would be the first rumblings of it), but there had always been enough adult supervision within the party to counteract the childishness that emanated from within,

In 2008, the children (aided by a media that would embarrass even a high school newspaper writer) won, first in the primary season against Hillary Clinton, and then in the general election against John McCain, who was perhaps the worst candidate from either party since Adlai Stevenson in 1956.  Yes, even worse than Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, or Bob Dole.  The kids were now in charge, and the promises of transformation were made.


Governing is an adult enterprise - it involves compromise, it involves tough decisions. Idealism tends to go by the wayside, and reality sets in, except for the current administration, that is.  They continued to act as children would act, only looking out for their own interests, protecting themselves at all costs (even to the point of using coverups - Benghazi and Fast and Furious come to mind), and never being interested in any kind of greater good.  That is, for all Americans, regardless of social standing, race, party affiliation, and the like.

We are now in a campaign season once again, and childishness has once again taken center stage in the Democratic Party and in President Obama's re-election chances.  The problem they have encountered is that they have to run a campaign against an adult in the person of Mitt Romney (warts and all) and the differences between children and adults have become stark. And nowhere is the contrast being made more than in some of the advertisements put out by either the campaign itself, or pro-Obama organizations.  I want to share three in particular.

The first is an ad by HBO actress Lena Dunham comparing voting to losing one's virginity...

Exploitation at it's finest.  I would bet my last dollar that President Obama would not let his own daughters watch this advertisement.  Even without the double entendres involved, it's pathetic to appeal to people voting for a candidate just on the ability to give you more free stuff.  As if the whole campaign is about pills any woman can purchase at a local box store pharmacy for ten bucks, or for the unfettered right to kill one's unborn child.  So, women, how do you feel about being reduced to your sexual organs?  This is what feminism has become? If that is the case...feminism is dead! Long live feminism!

The second ad doesn't exploit women, but exploits actual children.  It is a bit creepy and weird to see, but as one of liberalism's main features is projection, it shouldn't be too surprising...

Blame mom and dad!  Of course, looking at the kids, none of them look like they have a want for anything - they are all looking in good health.  So what gives?  It's the attitude of blame America for all the evils and the actual belief that the opposition wants dirty air and water. Like I said below in the post about health care - means is usually the argument, not ends. However, with advertisements like this, it is clear that the people responsible for it cannot be reasoned with and thus must be defeated.

The third and final ad is just straight mental illness writ large on screen from, the same PAC that brought you George Bush = Adolf Hitler (Warning - this is NOT safe for work)...  

Riiiiight,  The opposition steal elections.  

Like this?

Or this?

Or this?

I just wonder who this ad is going to actually convince, and whether people think talking about "burning the motherf*ck*r down" and "cockpunching" Mitt Romney is actually funny. Actually, kids would find it funny.  Adults on the other hand...

What does this all come down to, honestly?  The answer is that the children have had four years of play time and it has become clear that they have broken the toys.  Consider...

- Trillion dollar deficits
- Failed massive stimulus (sharing money with union buddies)
- Health care overhaul that will raise prices and kill off the health care system
- Lowest workforce in many years
- Decreased amount in household incomes

And yet, they run ads promising free pills and abortions, blaming mom and dad, and how old people want to punch Mitt Romney in the nuts.  Why?  Take it away, President Obama:

"...if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things."

Poetic justice can be a very ugly thing.  Kids don't like being reminded of their flaws and their words.  Adults don't either, but the reaction is very different.  If the adults get back in charge of the Democratic Party, then there is hope.  Should President Obama lose re-election, I foresee a very ugly civil war on the horizon within the party.  Interesting that it should come after predictions of 40 years in the wilderness for the opposition.

But will it happen?  

I don't know.  But it will be interesting to find out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Only Hope Is Repeal...

I. The HHS Mandate is back in the news again, thanks to the Obama campaign's designated squirrel* of the "War on Women" (despite paying their female staffers 18% less than male staffers, but I digress).

*For all the talk of the President "winning" the second debate last Tuesday, the 16th, it's remarkable that all of his surrogates chose to concentrate on the Romney "binders full of women" comment rather than talk up how, you know, the President actually WON the debate.

I have written about the HHS Mandate before at length (here, herehere, here, here, and here), but it bears repeating once again that in no uncertain terms this is a violation of freedom of religion - one of the core freedoms of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  What the Obama Administration is trying to do is tyranny, pure and simple.  It is an authoritarian attempt to bend people to his will and we must not stand for it.

II. The whole principle of the "Affordable Care Act" (aka "Obamacare") has been to slowly guide the American medical system to a European-style single-payer system.  It would have been more intellectually honest to say that, but there was no way in hell anyone would have voted for it (other than Bernie Sanders and John Kerry) and kept their jobs.  What we have, then, is a Trojan Horse that undermines the system in a fashion that causes people to cry out for more government intervention to the point where the government says "we just have to run it ourselves".

Before anyone accuses me of raging paranoia, just keep in mind that no one who actually has business experience (unlike a certain occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue) would be dumb enough to increase demand while stagnating or even decreasing supply and expect to lower costs.  And yet, that's precisely what the ACA does. And since we have the smartest man who has ever occupied the White House in office, he would never stoop to such an incompetent practice, right?

So we are left with the malicious intended effect of the ACA - to squeeze private insurance out of business by making them offer policies to people who can wait until they are sick to actually buy them and thus fundamentally alter the nature of insurance, which is now going to be mandated to have. I have addressed the nonsensical argument that the individual mandate of the ACA is equivalent to requiring car insurance.

III. We are always told about the so-called "good" things of the ACA...All TWO of them. It's amazing that in a 2,700 page bill, there are *two* "good" things. 1) All people with pre-existing conditions can get insurance at the same price as healthy people and 2) "kids" up to age 26 can stay on their parents' insurance.

Whoop-de-do.  The most recent link also talks about how "health insurance" is not insurance in any meaningful sense to begin with.  The whole point is to manage risk - if people are all treated as the same risk across the line, regardless of age, medical history, and behavior, then how can it be insurance?

There's a reason the age-26 portion is called a "slacker mandate" - and it is just another way of driving up demand without any requisite increase in supply.

So what about the bad things?  Lots of new taxes, decrease in caps of health savings accounts, and rises in premiums (How's that, you say?  Try Economics 101).

IV. I have read and heard it frequently from liberals who claim they have the monopoly on compassion, i.e. "we want access to affordable healthcare for all" or "the rich ought to pay their fair share" and "conservatives and libertarians want people on the streets to die and the rich to dance on their bodies".  I have yet to actually meet a conservative or libertarian that actually believes such a thing; nor have I read anything from any publication or think tank suggesting the same.

The point of debate has almost never been about ends, it's usually about means.  Centralizing the healthcare system is not the right means.  I have always agreed that the system needs some reforming - but there is a right way and a wrong way to pursue said reform.  The ACA is the wrong way.

The two things that would get health care costs under control almost immediately would be a) portability of insurance - to allow for purchasing across state lines (the ugly concept for a lot of leftists of choice and competition) and b) to get insurance OUT of routine medical care. That would make medical insurance cheaper off the top to start.

I have argued that store-style clinics should be rising up - it would be a cash model where you pay directly for services rendered, and any kind of non-life threatening injury can be treated.  Such a thing would lower costs because third parties would not be involved and it would also unclog emergency rooms.

Getting insurance out of routine medical care would restore insurance to its proper role of managing risk and preventing financial ruin against catastrophic events.  When these things happen, that's when we'll see...

a) The true value of medical care - which is skewed to the bejeezus due to third party payment and reimbursement procedures

b) Costs decrease - it's a proven maxim that the more someone else pays for something, the more you'll use it.  Medical care is no exception.  If you have to pay for it, it becomes a decision.


V. Now we are at the real issue, aren't we - the "right" to medical care.  The first thing that we need to make sure we are clear of is the separation between delivery of said care and payment of the same.  Too many people conflate the two.  They will say "health care", but what they really mean is who is footing the bill.

Here's the question - do you have the right to take away the fruit of another's labor?  When you truly slice down the question of health care reform - this is the most basic question - it's economic in nature.  Somebody has to pay for it.  It's clichéd as hell, but there. Is. No. Free. Lunch.  The hardcore advocates of health care reform (many who advocate single-payer) are trying to argue that there is, though, and that we have the right to the fruit of another's labor because of some misguided notion that we deserve it.  Where I come from, we call that stealing motivated by envy.

VI. The ACA was not ever about reforming the system - because if it were, it would have implemented common sense reforms.  Instead, it's about dictating our behavior and controlling us - menu calorie counts, forcing Catholic institutions to pay for contraception against their consciences, not allowing people to put money aside into flex-spending accounts, putting taxes on medical devices, implementing a board that will ration care, allow for insurance companies and the government to access your bank accounts, and on and on....

These are the people are supposed to care.  These are the compassionate ones.  

So where is the compassion?  Where is the care?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Playing With Fire...

In the latest diversionary tactic, liberal supporters of President Obama have seized upon a single phrase (out of context, naturally) of Mitt Romney from the last debate - "binder full of women" - which in context, had to do with finding qualified women to work in the Massachusetts state government.  But anyway, some have taken to associating that phrase with Mormonism's past history of allowing for polygyny (multiple wives):

This is a dangerous game for them to play.

It is not an accident that the Obama campaign has largely avoided (save for a few oblique references by David Axelrod on the morning talk shows) talking about Mitt Romney's religion. Such a thing opens the door to reminding people that President Obama sat in the pews for twenty years in front of, was married by, and had his daughters baptized by an anti-American, hate-filled, racist preacher.  You know...this guy:

The last thing a faltering campaign needs is another wound that would be largely self-inflicted because its surrogates and fans couldn't help themselves.  However, just for the sake of refreshing memory, here are some of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's samples:

Want to dredge that up again?  Go for it.  Keep mocking Mormonism.  Just remember, if you spit into the wind, you will get wet.  Don't say you weren't warned.

*UPDATE* - something I just thought of is that this will also dredge up the old "he's a Muslim" canard.  I said nearly two years ago that I don't buy that, but it would be another anchor around the neck of the campaign that it can ill afford to have at this point.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

On Cutting Funding For PBS...

Be nice if he actually worked!
I am with Mitt Romney 100% here.

Stop using my tax dollars to pay for PBS.  Make it fend for itself.  If the merchandising market is any indication, shows like Sesame Street will be just fine.

Subsidy is part of why our society is bankrupt.

When you have a president who eliminates work requirements for welfare and food stamps, and allows able-bodied people under 50 to get onto disability, is it really any wonder as to why we are running trillion-dollar deficits?  President Obama needs and craves the dependent cradle-to-grave, womb-to-the-tomb society (unless you are an unborn child, then you might be considered a punishment).  Governor Romney wasn't totally correct with his "47% remark", but in reality, he wasn't that far off either.

People who object by saying that "it's just a drop in the bucket compared to (fill in the blank program)" need to remember the following things...

1) We have to start somewhere getting our financial house in order.

2) We need to have a frank discussion about the role of the state when it comes to entertainment and art - yes, some PBS programs are "educational", but much of what is on PBS is entertainment.  None of it should be subsidized.  If the people want it, they will pay for it. The default position seems to be best embodied by Sir Humphrey...

"...subsidy is for what the people don't want but ought to have!"

Condescension at its finest - unfortunately, when people (even those with good intentions) step up to defend the subsidies of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts and National Public Radio, this is in essence what they are arguing - that we simpletons just don't know what's good for us and we need to told what's best for us by our cultural and political masters.

Pass.  Cut the funding - and we'll see how popular Sesame Street and rest truly are.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Disney Animated Films In My Lifetime...

Since I was born in 1982, there have been 27 full length animated feature films released by Disney.  Actually, make that since 1985.  So in 27 years, there have been 27 films.  Conversely, there were *only* 24 released in the first 48 years of production, so Disney has been in overdrive since the mid-1980's.  Of course, technology helps now, as animation no longer has to be completely done by hand...

Anyway, digression aside, I wanted to give a look into some of my favorites during my lifetime.  There are some before I was even a thought in my parents' mind that I love (Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, Robin Hood, The Aristocats, et cetera), but I do want to stick to those especially of my childhood, since some of these films left an indelible mark on me - so much that I even reference them in my classes, much to the horror of my students!

First, if you want the frame of reference, Wikipedia has a nicely organized list of Disney animated features.  You will not find craptacular direct-to-video sequels like The Return of Jafar on this list.  Sorry.

That being said, let's get the movies out of the way that I don't particularly like...

- Oliver & Company
- Pocahontas
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- Mulan
- Tarzan
- Lilo and Stitch
- The Little Mermaid (BLASPHEMY!)

Some of these are just downright crappy (Oliver & Company and Pocahontas), others, I just didn't care for. No rhyme or reason - just consider them to be irrational dislikes, especially The Little Mermaid.  I know, that makes me a blasphemer, especially in the eyes of every woman born between 1979 and 1985.  Nothing I can do about that one, though.

Underrated Films

These are the ones that I feel are very good, but don't get the appreciation they deserve because they are either ignored or completely overshadowed by more famous films that were released within some years of it.

1) The Great Mouse Detective - there is a case to be made that this is the most underrated Disney movie ever made.  It has a fantastic villain (Professor Ratigan) and a pretty good plot, to boot.  However, it was made during a down era of Disney (1977-1989), and so it got lost in the shuffle, especially once the major revival began in the late 1980's.

2) The Emperor's New Groove - a very fun and irreverent movie, and much unlike many others made.  It's pretty much the spiritual descendant of Hercules; a film that relies on pop-culture references and modern-day projections.  Kronk is the scene-stealer in my opinion, although Yzma turning into a cat is just about one of the funniest scenes ever.

3) The Rescuers Down Under - this is the only sequel that is on the list of feature films, and in a few ways, it is better than its 1977 predecessor.  George C. Scott as the villain McLeach is fantastic, although every time I watch this, I want McLeach to say "no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country!"

The Best

1) The Lion King - great music, great scenery, great symbolism.  A quotable film and one that I have continuously quoted to my students.  Even the villains are funny - the hyenas and Scar. My favorite song is "Be Prepared", although there isn't a single bad one in here.

2) Hercules - most would disagree with putting Hercules on this part of the list, but the way it works in the legends with modern day humor and pop-culture references is second to none. The writing for this one was fantastic.  The casting was fantastic too - James Woods as Hades is definitely the coolest villain in a Disney film.

3) Aladdin - home to one of the best characters ever (The Genie), and a never slowing set of songs and dialogue, with an indelible lesson of staying true to one's self and roots.

And finally, the best of all...

4) Beauty and the Beast - never underestimate the effect casting has on an animated film. James Woods elevated Hercules and Robin Williams as the Genie gave Aladdin a push that it wouldn't have gotten.  The absolutely perfect blend of the cast of Beauty and the Beast.  The score is amazing, and the animation itself was the pinnacle of Disney work.  Nothing before or after could top the work of this one.    

On Jesus Being Married...

I realize I'm a little late to this game, but every now and again there are modern day theological obsessions that need to be addressed here.  The latest going around concerns itself with a fragment that supposedly talks about Jesus being married.

First, let's get a couple of things out of the way...

1) There are numerous references in Scripture to Jesus being a "bridegroom", with each instance of the "bride" being the Church.

2) There is zero evidence in the earliest documents of Christianity that proves or even suggests that Jesus ever had a wife.  That never stops the Usual Suspects from trying to force fit someone like Mary Magdalene into their favorite projected narrative, but if one wishes to be intellectually honest, he would have to admit the evidence is somewhere between zero and zilch.

Quite honestly, I don't think it matters in the way most people think it does.  If Jesus were married, it doesn't change anything theologically or change anything within his mission.  It is fitting that Jesus was not married, just as it was fitting that he died on the cross, that Mary was immaculately conceived, and a whole host of other things surrounding the life of Christ. Usually, the people hyperventilating and squealing over such "finds" like the aforementioned papyrus have two particular lines of thought that they believe will change because Jesus was married...
zOMG, Jesus was married!  Guess those old farts in Rome will have to allow married priests!!!
Um, not quite.  First of all - not all Catholic priests are celibate - just look at the Eastern Churches.  Likewise, the Latin Rite discipline of celibacy did not become mandatory until the year 1079.  A discipline means it can be loosened or tightened depending on the needs of the time - like pre-Mass fasting, meat on Fridays, and yes, even priestly celibacy.  Sorry to disappoint.  Of course, it's not as if facts will matter to people with an agenda anyway...
Jesus had a wife!  Changes are a coming for the roles of women in the ordained ministry!
Again, no dice.  Jesus having a wife doesn't change the fact that he gave the Twelve (all men) the keys to the kingdom.  He didn't give such a role to the most perfect creature ever made - his own mother.  Mary far surpasses every single one of us in dignity by virtue of her sinlessness, but even she was not given the charge to "go make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). The modern mind sees this as nothing more than a naked power grab, and unfortunately, the only things the modern mind understands are power and consent.  What it does tell me also is that clericalism is alive and well within the theologically liberal and modernist movement.

In other words, the obsession with Jesus being married or not is mostly a modern-day projection of our sexually charged culture.  Of course, it's ironic because as a society, we are consistently downgrading the value of marriage as it is, so I am not sure why the same people who are downgrading marriage insist that Jesus must have had a wife.  And using Gnostic sources to make the case is also an ironic twist that few outside the theological community note, given the Gnostic flesh and marriage-hating tendencies.

On CNN's "Belief Blog" - a guest columnist, Stephen Prothero, wrote that he doesn't care either...
What we do know is that we live in a country besotted with Jesus and in an age obsessed with marriage and sexuality and the body, which is why this tiny papyrus is making such big waves.

As for me, I don’t much care what Jesus thought about marriage, or whether he engaged in it. I think we as a society tend to collapse religion far too readily into bedroom questions, as if Jesus came into the world to tell us with whom we should be having sex, and how.

I’m more interested in what Jesus has to say about wealth and poverty, the rich and the poor. And there is plenty in the available record to read and heed, "if only we have ears to hear."
It's ironic here in a couple of ways, because he completely ignores the fact that Jesus did have a few things to say about marriage - namely in Matthew, chapter 19.  More importantly, the irony is that he engages in the same kinds of projection of which he accuses the "sex-obsessed" people, except on the issue of wealth.  Reducing Christ to a sex-obsessed or a "99 Percenter" taking on the eeeeevil rich is merely differing sides of the same coin of projecting modern sensibilities.  Not surprising, of course, but to use another phrase of the Lord, the projectors need to remove the beam from their own eye.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

On Perfect Games...

Yes, I am alive, and yes, I am aware that I haven't blogged in over two months.  No worries, there are a few reasons why I haven't, and I'm sure many of you know the biggest reason of all - the new addition to my family!  More explanation will be forthcoming in the coming days and weeks. -- J.L.

Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game today, a 1-0 gem in which he struck out twelve Tampa Bay hitters (Poor Tampa - they've been the victims of so many no-hitters and perfect games lately).  It was also the third perfect game thrown this season (Phillip Humber and Matt Cain were the others), which is the first time ever that three had occurred in the same season. There have been only twenty-three perfectos in Major League history.  

Think about that - only twenty-three times in 143 years has there been an occasion of twenty-seven men coming to the plate and being set down in order.  Such a occurrence (and lack thereof) automatically renders such an occasion to be a statistical anomaly - three times in a season of 2,430 games is 0.123% of all games.  Just imagine how many more zeroes there would be when you draw twenty-three into 143 years' worth of games, with every season since 1901 having at least 154 games per team.

And yet, there are some bozos out there on Al Gore's incredible, amazing internet that seem to think that because we have seen more perfect games lately, the occasion has been cheapened. That's the wrong way to think, and this is why...

Perfect games are the largest conglomerations of luck known in baseball.

Think about what has to happen in order for a perfect game to occur...

1) Pitcher needs pinpoint control
2) No fielder can drop a ball or throw one away
3) The catcher needs to catch nearly every pitch - at least when there are two strikes, anyway
4) No popup can just fall into no-man's land
5) No little dribbler can die in the infield grass or find a hole
6) No player can lose a ball in the sun/lights
7) The umpire needs to be friendly in his calls
8) Hitters need to chase pitches if #1 is not fulfilled.
9) Good bounces 
10) Good jumps by fielders.

There are other things too - but ALL TEN of these things must be fulfilled in order to have a perfect game.  If even one fails, then you might have a no-hitter at best.  

So if a perfect game is so based on luck, why do we celebrate them?  Mostly because of their rarity, because extraordinary pitching skill isn't a necessary prerequisite for throwing one. Look at this list...

Don Larsen (81-91, 3.78)
Tom Browning (123-90, 3.94)
Mike Witt (117-116, 3.83)
Dallas Braden (26-36, 4.16)
Phillip Humber (16-15, 4.64)
Len Barker (74-76, 4.34)

Those are absolute mediocrities - and Larsen threw the most famous perfecto of all time - in the 1956 World Series.  Yes, there are some good pitchers who threw perfect games - Kenny Rogers, David Wells, David Cone, Dennis Martinez; even some Hall of Famers - Sandy Koufax, Catfish Hunter, and Cy Young.  However, what stands out to me most frequently is how many of the greats never threw a perfect game, or even a no-hitter.  

Just consider this era - Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Mike Mussina are some of the names who never threw them.  Throwing a perfect game is like constructing a house of cards.  Everything must go right, and hopefully there's not a corrupted card that is either shorter or slightly bent, and God help you if there is even a slight breeze.  Any of those things can bring the whole house down, just like any of those ten conditions going unfulfilled will prevent a perfect game from happening - which is why they are so exciting to see.

Even if fifteen more occur this season, the odds of them happening still barely move - they are that rare, indeed.  Just keep the big picture in mind - twenty-times in around 200,000 games played in 143 years.

Statistical anomaly.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

On Non-Believers...

As a professed Catholic, I believe my faith to be the correct one.  In fact, it would be patently dishonest (in the intellectual and moral sense) for me to believe otherwise (why be one, if I believed that, say, shamanism is the proper religion).

I am also more or less a philosophical realist, ergo, any religion not my own has to necessarily be in error to some degree, and the farther out, the more in error the faith is - i.e. Eastern Orthodoxy is the closest, followed by High Anglicanism, followed by Lutheranism, and so on and so forth down the line.  At the same time, I also acknowledge the truth that is found in each of these Christian faiths, along with non-Christian faiths such as Judaism (without which there is no Christianity), Islam, Hinduism, et cetera.

Atheism, however, is a different animal.

Twitter has been a fascinating thing to behold - 'debates' and discussions in 140 characters or less (mostly less, especially if someone's name has to be mentioned) have been witty and informative to me.  Until I had to deal with the atheist army.

Now, I don't have a problem with atheism, per se.  I believe it to be misguided and (obviously) in error, but I do believe that the overwhelmingly vast majority of those who call identify as atheists operate in good faith.  I think they are on the search for the truth just as people who practice some kind of organized religion.  I also think that most atheists live in absolute fear that they will be shown to be wrong when it comes time for the ultimate end of us all (just a fancy phrasing for death), and thus move to a functioning agnosticism that borders on Deism - the sort of development Stephen Hawking has undergone in the last few years.

However, there is a certain branch of the 'army' that is especially militant about their atheism, to the extent that they are willing to engage in logical warfare not only to defend their atheism, but to positively proselytize to others as well.  I have no problem with that - this is America, and we believe in the marketplace of ideas and whoever is able to convince people with their argumentation and evidence wins the day, so to speak.

Getting back to Twitter - it provides a good spot for the clichés and bumper sticker rhetoric of atheism (and, to be fair, of almost any point of view under the sun), namely "evil happens, therefore God doesn't exist" or "things are great on our own, therefore we don't need God". One particular line of argumentation came on today that bugged the daylights out of me - several on Twitter who made the pronouncement that Jesus does not exist.  

His mere existence.  Not whether he was divine or was born of a virgin or performed miracles or rose from the dead, but whether a man from Nazareth named Jesus is even a historical figure.

I was speechless.

I'll debate with atheists over divinity and miracles and such any day of the week, but this denial of the very existence of Jesus just doesn't register.  The so-called evidence 'disproving' Jesus can be found in nameless 'reputable' history books, because ancient history has all been 'debunked' by moderns.  This particularly movement within atheism is known as 'mythicism', because it says the very existence of Jesus is a myth fabricated out of whole cloth.  

Mentioning ancient (non-Christian) historians such as Josephus, Pliny the Younger, and Tacitus aren't even accepted in this particular line of thought because we moderns are 2,000 years more advanced and intelligent than those ignoramuses of old.  Obviously, if they aren't accepted, none of the writings of Paul or John (just taken as historical references, even) will be either.  

One Tweety-bird college girl even had the gumption to ask me to disprove her contention that Jesus didn't exist.  Makes me wonder what kind of logic they are teaching in the colleges now - with such shameless fallacious reasoning of disproving a negative.  

Let's be clear on one thing - there are more references to the existence of Jesus in antiquity than there are to Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon.  And yet, that's taken for granted.  Come to think of it - if the logic of 'mythicists' is taken to its logical end, we just can't know any history or believe that anybody truly existed prior to the Enlightenment.

I said to a couple of Twitter friends that you don't see these people denying the existence of Muhammad, Moses, Buddha, or Confucius, but they will go to the ends of the earth to deny the existence of Jesus. Is it just me, or is that a curious thing to do? Deep down, I think I know the reason this occurs.

None of those others mentioned (Muhammad, Buddha, et al) were thought to be divine - but Jesus is by his followers.  I mentioned the fear factor above - as my brother has said to his atheist/agnostic friends: "If I'm wrong, nothing happens to me, but if you're wrong, watch out." This kind of movement ('mythicism') possesses the fear factor on steroids, speed, and whatever other drug you can think of.  

They sense something about Jesus that is different and strive to deny his existence.  To acknowledge his existence would mean they would have to confront the claims made about him.  They would then have to figure out where they stand - a denial that takes a much stronger stomach than merely spouting off about fake figure who didn't exist.  They have to confront the possibility that they might be wrong.

And that scares the hell out of them.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Overblown Reactions...

So full of GRIT and HUSTLE!
Ok, I get it, Bryce Harper is a talented young player.

But...(and you knew there would be a 'but' - or perhaps a 'however')

Enough with the constant verbal fellatio for a guy who is hitting .267 with two homers and nine RBI in just over one-hundred plate appearances.  Projected out to five hundred appearances, that's ten homers and between 45 and 50 RBI. Not exactly impressive.

Yet, to listen to various announcers around the league, one would swear that we were witnessing the second coming of Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Roberto Clemente all wrapped into one.  Can he be a five-tool player?  Absolutely.  But he isn't there yet and he may need more seasoning in the minors before truly asserting himself.  I have found myself being nauseated over the constant gushing - whether over his stealing of home after Cole Hamels drilled him, or some catch and throw he made from the outfield, or a ball he launched for extra bases.

So I get that - he has shown some hints of what is to come.

During tonight's game, Harper tagged up on consecutive flyouts in the top of the fourth inning. Both the Nationals' radio crew of Slowes and Jageler and the TV crew of Carpenter and Santangelo were talking about how 'aware' he is and so forth.  But there's something about that that bugs me about all this and I have finally figured it out.  Ironically, it isn't really about Harper himself but about those who lavish this (mostly unnecessary) praise on him.  It's this:

The game doesn't change.

Tagging up is the same in the 3rd grade or the 8th grade or High School or the Minors or the Majors.

The game doesn't change.

Three strikes are still an out, three outs to end your half of the inning, and so forth.  The only thing that changes is the speed of the game; there is no change to the substance of baseball. The 'awareness' is either there or it isn't.

This is why I hate hearing announcers talk about 'rookie mistakes' - as if the game at the professional level is somehow different than it was at any level below.  Throwing home from the warning track when there is a runner at first is a mistake at any level; making the last out at third base is a mistake on any level.  Missing the cutoff man is a mistake.  Plate discipline is still plate discipline.  You have it or you don't.  

So Bryce Harper has tremendous potential, to be sure, but he still has a long way to go, and the hype machine isn't doing him any favors at this point.  It's very cliché at this point, but I have to say it...

Let's keep things in perspective.

On Summer Vacation (As A Teacher)...

Summer vacation is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, we are looking at an elongated amount of time for recovery after a hard-working year, and yet, for most of us, too much time off leads to a certain form of rustiness. Such a condition can take a good week or two to remove from both our brains and out bodies. Teaching is as much a physical endeavor as it is a mental one – body and mind need to be in sync with one another or else one’s performance will be severely hampered.

This connection cannot be underestimated; I remember one time my grandfather wondered aloud why I was so tired upon returning home. “All you do is stand up there and talk,” he said. Pfft, as if that's all it is. I said to him that he ought to deal with one-hundred and forty teenage boys on a daily basis, with everything else that implies. He backed down at that point, but I do not think he was ever going to truly concede the point that teaching is hard work and it takes a lot out of the person. So something like vacation is certainly needed, but like almost everything else in our world, there is a right way and a wrong way to carry out such a concept.

The wrong way is, unfortunately, the very reason why quite a few people get into the profession of teaching in the first place. More appropriately, the ‘three reasons’ – “June, July, and August”. Such a perspective opens up a conversation about means and ends and contributes very heavily to my questions about one’s motives in entering teaching. These are the people who begin their countdown to summer…in January. I will admit that once we get to about May 10th or 15th, I will begin looking forward to the summer, but for the aforementioned types, maybe it is time to pick another line of work.

A good rule of thumb is: if the school year is just the means of getting to the goal of a close-to-three-months' worth of vacation, then teaching may not be the right profession for you. Such people tend to look past their students and their duties and only focus on ends rather than means. Such people, I am sure, are in denial about this, but do not think that the attitude is not manifested and on display to the rest of the world. Social media, conversations, and general comportment tend to be dead giveaways.

The right way, then, is that vacation is the means for three things: recharging for the next school year, getting away for a little while, and to reflect on the previous year’s achievements and failures while preparing for next year. That last one is incredibly important, as I am a believer in the idea that failure is the best teacher; only after failing can one be a success. Reflecting on both ends of the result meter is of the essence because while perfection is a worthy goal, it can never be truly achieved in this world; we can only move closer and closer to it.

The unreflective teacher is ultimately one who is not open to learning; yes, the teacher can (and should) be taught. Each year is different and such reflection the teacher makes about his own ability, experience, and results is the difference between teaching for X amount of years and teaching the same year X times. The former is able to adjust to what is thrown at him by using his shortcomings to improve himself; the latter is so rigid in his structure that even though the times and the students change, he is unable to adjust or see his own shortcomings.

None of this is to say that the resting teacher should not just shut it off occasionally while on vacation. To the contrary, there should be some time to remove the thoughts of teaching from one’s mind. I tend to completely shut off in that regard from about mid-July until the start of the second week of August. It is about a three week period of being able to exhale and just be me without necessarily having the constraints of school. If I spend any longer than that, I feel as though I will be in perpetual catch up mode. By the second week of August, the engine is already starting to warm; it is in anticipation of being in high gear by the time school finally begins once again.

The conundrum, then, is trying to find that happy balance. It is a conundrum that the serious teacher can appreciate, since he is always looking for a way to hone his craft. While he knows that without an extended amount of time to relax life can turn ugly very quickly, he also knows that rust is something that is necessary to avoid.  The first few weeks of the school year are so vital to the tone and direction that working off rust 'on the fly', so to speak, can ultimately do more harm than good.  Better to have the muscles stretched out before the work even begins. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Little Bit Of Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing...

I have seen this on both Facebook and Twitter - both social media locations are touting this particular picture as something 'deep' and 'ironic'...

Actually, had people taken the time to research the issue, they would be sorely disappointed. Better to just pass along the latest meme and poke fun at practicing Christians, which has truly become the last acceptable prejudice in this country.  Anyone who is a practicing Christian who agrees with the picture as irony needs to be inform himself about the tenets of his own religion - and stop trying to be a conformist to the larger culture that is actively mocking the very faith that you allegedly practice.

So for starters - repeat after me.  The ceremonial laws of the Torah do not apply to Christians.

Moral laws of the Torah do apply to Christians.

Leviticus 18:22 is part of the moral law.  Leviticus 19:28 is part of the ceremonial law.  Should be simple.  In other words, we aren't practicing Jews.

Why am raising a fit about this?  Because we live in a half-assed society that is more concerned with looking cool and scoring points than in being knowledgeable.  If we were knowledgeable, then things like this would never get off the ground, because people could easily point out the very things I wrote above.  Instead, we get ridiculous commentary about how hypocritical and foolish Christians are, when in fact, it's the secularist and the scoffer who ought to be taken to school.  Facts are very stubborn things.

Now, if we would ever learn to actually use them...

In Soviet NFL...

Good Day, Comrade!
...joke laugh at you!

And so the latest installment of the Politburo known as the NFL has denied the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys their appeal over being stripped of a combined $46 million in salary cap space ($36 million for Washington and $10 million for Dallas) due to their..."violation"...of the..."rules"...regarding the salary cap-free 2010 season.

An Emperor Goodell stooge "independent arbitator" just flushed the whole thing out of hand? Why? Apparently because the NFLPA and the league agreed on the penalty.  I suppose that if I agree to rob a bank, and the police agree with me to go along with it and gag any potential witnesses, that makes it all better, right?  No jury could possibly find me guilty.

In the Soviet NFL, where the dog walk you...absolutely! 

ESPN's NFC East blogger, Dan Graziano thinks 'this is for the best'.  What a wimp:
It's all just plain ridiculous, the whole thing, and it's probably for the best that it all goes away. Everybody associated with it should be ashamed of themselves (though, sadly, no one seems to be). And while it's unfair that only the Cowboys and Redskins suffer for the arrogance of a group of people who continue to play its paying customers for willing patsies, the truly sad part is that anyone in this situation gets to walk away feeling as though he was in the right.
The whole piece is one gigantic exercise in moral equivocation and hand-wringing. Yeaaaaah, it was bad...but hey, oh look! SHINY OBJECT!  Nothing to see here folks!!

It makes me want to retch.  Snyder and Jones should be suing the daylights out of the NFL, and collusion ought to be investigated by the proper authorities*. How sad is it that nearly twenty-five years ago, the baseball players took the owners to court over collusion and won; NFL players now sign off on it because of the chance they might make $65,000 less dollars in a year.  Have some self-respect!

*Mr. President, if you could put down the rhetoric of envy over how legitimate businesses make their money for just one second, you might actually find real shady business dealings in the NFL.  Oh right, too many NFL players and owners are donors and ambassadors. Never mind.  Oh look! Shiny object!

I gave the NFL twenty years before it turns into something unrecognizable.  Who knows - with King Roger at the helm, it may just collapse on itself as a business model before anything on the field gets to it.  That's a shame.  I like professional football.

I just hate the NFL.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Guilty Pleasures...

Everyone has them – the things that you do that perhaps shouldn't be done, or more often, shouldn't be done nearly as much. Here’s a partial list of my guilty pleasures…

Reading Deadspin’s Funbag and Drunken Hookup Failure features. Basically, anything by Drew Magary at that site is worth reading. On Thursdays during football season, he has his previews for the slate of games called the “Jamboroo”.

Playing MLB: The Show on the Playstation. I am playing a career with Dustin as my character (I hate creating myself) – and he even wears #13, but is a pitcher (which is against the 'Unwritten Rules of Baseball" - unless you are Zack Greinke). At present, I am in the year 2021 with close to 230 career wins and 2,800 strikeouts, several Cy Young Awards and is a 99 in every attribute. The career has my character with the Phillies – although before you throw up your hands and say “but of course he is”, know that I pitched him with the Mets for three years and won two World Series with them. Yes, true, it made me die inside a little bit, but I believe that professional athletes give up their fandom once they are on ‘the inside’ of the sport. While this obviously is far from that state, it does gives a little bit of insight to that mentality.

Watching and reading Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. How can I read it, you ask? Tony Jay and Jonathan Lynn actually put together a novelized (or novelised, for any British readers) form of the two shows in the form of Jim Hacker’s diaries. In some ways, they are actually deeper than merely watching the shows, but it’s always best to watch before reading. It is a delightful program, er, programme and is probably one of the most intelligent shows ever made. It really had no choice in order to survive, since dialogue, wit, and acting had to dominate, given the setting (British bureaucracy and government offices). It won’t be for everyone, but I say give it a whirl sometime.

Yes - I own both of these (books and DVD)! And damn proud of them.

Bill Simmons’ columns. Usually on Fridays, Simmons will have a column of some sort up on ESPN (or now, Grantland) and if there was ever a guy for whom the written word was gold and the spoken word was fecal matter, it’s Simmons. Please get off my TV, Bill. I hate the sound of your voice, and you do so much better putting thoughts into words on my screen or paper. There aren’t a whole lot of better writers from a fan’s perspective, and that’s when he is on top of his game.

Cigars and Yuengling. Having a fine cigar after dinner or on a cool evening is damn near paradise. I know, I know, I am going to kill myself if I smoke them. Guess what – we all have absolute metaphysical certain that we will die. Combine that with America’s oldest brewery, Yuengling, and that is at the very least the equal of a fine hot fudge sundae.

Watching baseball – lots of it. I’m a junkie, and I’ll pretty much watch any baseball game on TV, regardless of who the teams are. Baseball is a beautiful sport – and it’s God’s sport too, because it needs the most intelligence of any out there in order to function. People who say the game is merely ‘see ball, hit ball’ have never actually played the game or watched one in its entirety.

There are others, but these are the big ones.  Yep, I know, I am incredibly dull in this regard. Sports, British sitcoms, laughing about people's stupid questions and failures, and unhealthy items if they are habitual.  What do you got?  Let's have them!

Good For Franciscan University...

On the side
of the angels
Franciscan University of Steubenville is dropping student medical insurance over the HHS contraception mandate.  Of course, this is going to smoke out all the so-called social justice-minded Catholics into screaming "SEE!! SEE!!" about FUS while ignoring the blatant tyranny of the Obama administration's edict, but then again, very little of this surprises me.

Those people ultimately don't care.  Why? Because politics and party affiliation come first.  Being Catholic comes second (maybe).  If being Catholic came first, then this sort of governmental overreach would have never made it past the Oval Office because "good Catholics" like Biden, Sebelius, Pelosi, et al would have ensured it never saw the light of day.

There is a reason why freedom of religion (note the "of", not "from", and likewise note "religion", not "worship") is part of the 'first freedoms'.  However, between Obamacare and the recent (politically expedient) push for same-sex marriage (an issue of its own) coming from the White House, that particular freedom is under massive assault, and there is a large percentage of people in the population who don't care, or are even actively cheering on said assault.  Of course, if the shoe were on the other foot and a Republican administration were mandating that everyone go to a Christian church, they would be screaming bloody murder and about how their constitutional rights were being trampled.  But in this instance?

The silence is deafening.  Crickets can be heard from sea to shining sea.

Therein lies the problem.  What's good for the goose is good for the gander, but apparently, people are too shortsighted to see that issues will arise if you give the government unchecked power to do what it pleases.  Just look at the issue of detention of terror suspects.  A lot of conservative and Republican types were cheering it on under Bush, but then decried it under Obama.  Can't have it both ways - goose, meet gander.

So I applaud Franciscan's decision.  They are taking a principled stand that has long term ramifications.  For people who wish to argue with me - please, please do NOT try to tell me that Franciscan University is depriving students of their right to "health care".  They aren't - they are standing up for their own freedom of conscience in deciding which benefits they wish to make available.  Health care may be a right, but having a third party pay for elective drugs is not.  You will never convince me otherwise.

Fight the good fight.