Monday, January 29, 2007

Risky Business

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The other night we held our annual Coffee House for Life, the special supped-up January edition of our usual monthly coffee house. Have you heard of the six degrees of separation theory? If Sally knows John, that would be one degree of separation. If John also knows Anne, we would say that Sally knows Anne indirectly, through two degrees of separation. Well, the six degrees theory is that everyone in the world knows everyone else in the world within six degrees of separation. Well, after last night’s Coffee House for Life, I concluded that within the world of Catholicism, you can cut that to about three degrees: One of my roommates is friends through a lay organization with the younger sister of one of my classmates from UD, who, incidentally, is friends with my aunt, one of whose coworkers also showed up to the coffee house. The whole night was crazy stuff like that.

Well, that got me thinking about some reading I was doing last week in Fr. Louis J. Lekai’s The Cistercians: Ideals and Reality. I was surprised how often dying orders or congregations would simply amalgamate wholesale into other orders. When plagues or wars or persecutions left just a handful of religious cut off from the rest of their confreres they would look around, find the most like-minded order and join, en mass. Sometimes special exceptions would be made for these new members, allowing them to keep some of their old structures or practices, but often times they simply gave up their old life, recognizing that circumstances had moved beyond their control. No doubt their particular spiritualities exerted some subtle influence on their new order, but such influence was limited.

So what do these two situations have in common, our Quincy coffee house and the amalgamation of religious orders in centuries past? Well, lately I’ve heard from a number of Catholic young adults lamenting how no one’s around any more, how their Bible studies or fellowship groups or households no longer have the momentum or numbers they use to. While the Brookland neighborhood of Washington may have more Catholic young adults, I know for a fact that most cities in America have a plethora such folks. As often as not, the problem is not a lack of numbers but a lack of willingness to work together. I’ve heard countless folks complain about how so-and-so doesn’t lead worship right or the thus-and-such method of studying Scripture is bogus. Such complaints may be true so far as they go, but can involve attempting to have one’s cake while simultaneously eating it as well. At a certain level folks simply have to decide whether or not they’re on board and then make the best of it. The Coffee House for Life had some amazing music and good food and free coffee, but really… those were just excuses. Folks had a good time because, well, young adults are fun people. No one complained about the order of performances or the temperature of the coffee, not because these were perfect but because everyone realized, without having to think about it, that those things didn’t really matter. Perhaps we need the same attitude towards our Bible studies and fellowship time and worship sessions.

Just a little something to think about…

Stadium Cost Tops Cap, Council Members Say

Apparently, they can't stay within a $611M budget for the new stadium. One has to wonder what over a half billion dollars could be used for if competently managed. But then again, of all the things DC needs, a stadium is probably the correct priority.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Socrates and the Minimum Wage

As an exercise in Socratic style, this dialogue is a little lacking, but in terms of the laying out concisely the core issues with the minimum wage, it's brilliant.

Key points are:
1. Everyone realizes instinctively that one cannot require a large minimum wage, of say $20/hour, because someone has to pay for it. An arbitrarily smaller minimum wage causes the same problems as a big one, only to a lesser degree.
2. Not all workers have the same levels of skill and experience and they are thus not 'worth' the same pay; that is, not all workers generate the same value return for their employers.
3. An employer will not pay someone more than the value he/she generates for the employer, so someone incapable of generating the minimum value corresponding to the minimum level of pay will not have a job.
4. Even if it can be said that employers are too greedy to pay their employees a fair balance on the return their employees generate, that would also imply that they will not employ anyone where they would be required to pay not what's only fair, but even more.

The long and the short of it is that a minimum wage hurts in two ways:
1. It makes it harder for companies to expand where low-skill jobs are involved, meaning less economic activity and less wealth creation.
2. It makes it harder for low-skilled workers to get jobs. There is a ripple effect, and unemployment will rise.

If one would entertain cynical thoughts for a moment, then one might further suspect that
A. The consequences outlined above will have little impact on the livelihood of politicians who are "well off."
B. The damaging effect a raise in the minimum wage causes to those in difficult economic situations will help keep them 'dependent' on their malicious crusaders, those politicians who keep stay in power by keeping others down.

Companies are using Second Life for recruitment

I got my job through Second Life

Looking for work? Your best bet may be an interview in virtual reality. Fortune's Katie Benner explores the cutting edge of corporate recruitment.

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- There's been plenty of hubbub about Second Life and the limitless possibilities offered in a virtual reality where a banker can become a virtual filmmaker, a housewife can be a virtual business tycoon and 46-year-old man can be a virtual 23-year-old vixen. The focus has been on people making real money in an online virtual world, but for those who have heard of eBay (Charts), the idea that everyday people can make money on the Internet isn't so revolutionary.

(Read More... Companies are using Second Life for recruitment - Jan. 22, 2007)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Thank you for the Suns

For all you Arizonans, Canadians and other miscellaneous Suns fans out there:

Bill Simmons of ESPN recently authored an article title Thank you for the Suns. He writes, “I watch all of their games. I rewind plays to see what they're doing and how they're doing it. I learn about basketball from them. I revel in their splendidry, and I don't even think splendidry is a word. They're the most consistently entertaining basketball team in 20 years. They have a chance to be historically good. You could be bouncing your grandkids on your lap someday and telling them that you watched the 2007 Suns…. I have never, ever, EVER seen anyone run the point guard position like [Steve Nash] on a day-to-day basis. Not even Magic and Isiah.”

According to STATS INC, the Suns rank in the top-3 in the following offensive categories:

Field Goals made (1st)
Three-pointers made (1st)
Free throw percentage (1st)
True shooting percentage (1st)
Two-point field goal percentage (1st)
Three-point percentage (2nd)
Assists (1st)
Assists/turnover ratio (1st)
Points per game (1st)
Fast break points (3rd)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Wildness of Domesticity

In the last few years I have become a student of families. There are several families I just really like: for their quirkiness, their generosity, their love for one another. These are families that, in some measure, represent what Chesterton was talking about when he coined the term “the wildness of domesticity.” (That was Chesterton, wasn’t it? Someone correct me if I’m wrong.)

On Monday night I had the joy of sharing dinner with one such family and then spending the night on their pull-out couch. The father and I, along with daughter #2, had bowls full of chocolate ice cream at 10:30pm. Isn’t that great? But the most awesome part of my time spent at their home was finding out that they are working to adopt a 12-year-old Latvian boy named Edgar. I was very impressed by the generosity of this family and their willingness to share their home with another child, in addition to the four they already have.

This morning I was having bagels with a friend of mine, a foster father of four, and he shared with me the news that he and his wife have now permanently adopted one of their children and are trying to adopt another. But the adoption streak didn’t end there. He told me that a mutual acquaintance of ours had recently been on a two-week trip to China. While there he met a 21-year-old Catholic seminarian who was being persecuted by the Communist government. He concluded that the best thing to do would be to legally adopt the seminarian, who is now studying at a seminary in Connecticut, free from persecution, the son of an American couple (who already had several children).

As I was thinking about these three cases of adoption, I came to see that “being open to life” is about a lot more than just disavowing contraception and having lots of babies. All three of these families had been living in such a way that when God placed new lives in their midst, they were able to respond with generosity. It’s something to think about in these last days before the March for Life, as we prepare to celebrate and defend the sanctity of human life.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Stephen Colbert on AT&T

I love it!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Only in the UK

Mysterious Samurai Saves Police in UK

Very, Very Cool


Iraq is in Trouble. Solution: More Executions

In the New York Times.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

One Piece of Absurd Legislation Deserves Another

An interesting thought:
The Club For Growth -

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Updates Upadates Updates

If you haven't been over to yet, check it out. We have put up a whole new interface. Just trying to keep things fresh. Also, hopefully soon we will be rolling out a new feature for the site, that is a quincy music database. All of our recordings (at least the ones that are half listenable) will be indexed and retrievable. Should be exciting.

Also be sure to wander over to the store. We have a bunch of new products with our winning "JPII and Baby with coffee mug" design. Don't be stuck without something from the quincy store. All the cool kids are doing it, and all the cool babies for that matter.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Islamist guide to beating your wife

Seems reasonable to me, except for the bit at the end: | Islamist guide to beating your wife

In fairness, it should be mentioned that the views expressed in the video may not be attributed to Islam in general. If someone could point out exactly in which strains of Islamic thought this fits, I'd be very interested to hear about it.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Another Reason Why I Love the French

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | French marchers say 'non' to 2007