Friday, September 30, 2005

Odds and ends

News items and site notes for this Friday morning:

- The newly independent Townhall has a long-overdue new look for its website, and it's great. Much nicer format, same helpful aggregation of conservative columnists.

- A couple of blogs I found recently that I've added to my blogroll are from ND Law students: Orthodoxy, eh? is by a Catholic, Canadian Domer, and Remnant, by Ryan, of the law school's Federalist Society, is just getting off the ground but looks pretty good. Also, I've been reading Brendan Loy's Irish Trojan for awhile, so I wanted to remedy my oversight by linking to him now. Congrats to him on getting his first law firm offer yesterday.

- Lately I've been getting a lot of my site traffic from Blue-Gray Sky, so I just wanted to thank them for having me on their blogroll. And to my other readers who have any interest at all in Irish football: these ten guys have been writing consistently good, insightful, and entertaining posts since they started. If you're not reading, you're missing out.

- No permalink, but Kanka has a nice breakdown of the matchups in tomorrow's game against Purdue.

- On a different note: Over at OpinionJournal.com, Peggy Noonan has a typically good article about the difference between authority and responsibility, and why Americans are much more likely to want to see the latter than the former in our government; relatedly, Noonan also offers a critique of media for its role in whipping up the fears of the public.

- John Roberts Jr. was confirmed yesterday as Chief Justice of the United States. After his swearing-in, he said, "I view the vote this morning as confirmation of what is, for me, a bedrock principle — that judging is different from politics." Now that's a refreshing statement to hear. Good luck to the new Chief.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

This week's fix for political junkies

The American Spectator has started a group blog this week, and it's already full of a variety of interesting posts. Here's one about all the rumors flying around about the next Supreme Court nominee, since Judge Roberts's election is now all but assured. TAS passes on the names it's heard -- Gonzales, Luttig, Williams, and Jones -- from its sources, though it freely admits the rumors have little to ground them.

On the subject of the next SCOTUS nominee, Erick at RedState has been writing good posts about why choosing Gonzales would be a "disaster," the buzz about Karen Williams, and so on. I have no sources, so I am sitting back with the rest of the country waiting to see what the President does here. I will offer that I agree with most that Gonzales should not get the nod. I can't see that nomination as doing anything other than going down in flames, for he would receive fierce opposition from both sides -- most conservatives I'm acquainted with, even those who supported him as Attorney General, have very little reason for confidence in the kind of justice he would be on the Supreme Court. Especially when there are so many other solid choices out there. I believe a Gonzales nomination would represent a going back on the President's campaign promises, and given that it was a key campaign promise for a lot of the base, that could only have negative repercussions for him -- even with all the great judges he's appointed to the rest of the federal bench.

One last article: Manuel Miranda on the role of pro-lifers in the nomination process. Miranda is right to fault pro-lifers for being cowed into supporting nominations without serious challenges to Roe. Why should pro-lifers be afraid to challenge that decision and its progeny (including Casey -- said by some to be the "worst constitutional decision ever written" -- and Stenberg) openly, when the decisions represent examples of absurdly groundless constitutional reasoning? Better to have a man like Judge Pryor, who has the courage of his beliefs and the intellectual acumen to justify them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Your best life may not be now

Walking through airports and bookstores and grocery stores over the last few months, it's been impossible not to see the prominently displayed copies of Joel Osteen's (New York Times Bestseller!) book Your Best Life Now. I'm late to the blogosphere discussion on the topic of Osteen, but I still feel compelled to say my part on why these books, and Osteen himself, cause no little uneasiness. Osteen's carefully packaged and marketed message is devoid of any theological rigor, instead containing mainly a perpetually happy but shallow positive-thinking message. The message is not one of the redemption of man by the death of the Son of God on the Cross, but one of health, wealth, and other signs of material success. Osteen may have figured out how to pull 30,000 people into a 93 million dollar arena every Sunday and have them leave thinking positive thoughts, and he may reach reach millions of others through television and internet broadcasts -- and he may be entirely sincere -- but he's not conveying the Gospel.

In some cases, Osteen preaches ideas that are perfectly nice in themselves. The chapters in his book include "Enlarge your vision," "Develop a healthy self-image," and "Choose to be happy." On the service currently being broadcast on his eponymous website, the message flashes, "Discover the champion in you." It's great for motivational speeches, but Osteen is supposed to be representing evangelical Christianity. And none of his positive thinking messages really integrate that Christianity -- he quotes occasional bits of Scripture but only ones that support his message that God wants all of us to be wealthy and successful. Sometimes this leads to spectacularly strange exigesis. In the service I mentioned above, Osteen quotes a verse from Job to arrive at the conclusion that God wants the latter parts of our lives to be better than the first. (!) Again, when Osteen quotes Scripture, it's to the apparent end of God wanting us to be wealthy and get promotions and, just like Joel, live in million-dollar houses with too-nice hair and expensive suits. ("I feel like God wants us to prosper," he told the Washington Post this spring. ". . . Roger Clemens just signed for $18 million -- man, don't tell me I can't have a nice house and send my kids to college.")

It's not surprising that Osteen might have so missed the deeper meanings of the Gospel that he intentionally does not display crosses on his stage (too negative, apparently). His background is not in theology, but in marketing. It explains why his first hires at his church were for singer/songwriters to design praise music each week that can be genuinely catchy and appealing to a wide range of people. It also helps explain why the lighting, sound, and camera work is so smoothly produced each week, why Osteen's website has a nice "J" logo encircled by an "O" on the main page, and why the "About" page for him and his wife mentions little other than all the media markets he's reaching, his ratings, and his upcoming tour appearances. Ads for his (New York Times Bestseller!) book helpfully flash across the screen during his broadcasts.

Check all the criticisms for a moment. One, haven't other Christians, including Catholics, spent lots of money on churches before? Yes, but the goal is generally to create sacred spaces that are significantly related to worship by their structure and orientation. Study the architecture of medieval and Renaissance cathedrals -- how the space is ordered vertically from crypt through to altar through to open sky to heaven, and the heights are designed to put people in awe; how the physical shape of the building is that of a cross; how the stained glass depicts Biblical scenes and saints; how the stations of the cross are placed around the church walls. A church may be humble or even nonexistent, but art and architecture can also rightly be employed to worship, not to reflect inordinately on any individual except God. Two, doesn't God want us to be happy? Yes, but what we're told is not only to expect the Cross, but to embrace it. We are promised eternal life if we believe, but Jesus emphasized that his Kingdom was not of this world. When Peter objected to Christ having to suffer a death by ignominious torture, Christ sharply rebuked him. His was not to have material wealth and worldly success; his was to be a sacrificial lamb to take away the sin of humanity. Yes, we can all help our lives by thinking positively, being thankful to God, and praying -- but we should never expect great rewards in this life. Three, don't other pastors, priests, and laymen write and sell religious books (why single out Osteen)? Yes, writing and selling books is fine; but I think that while laymen and pastors of course should be able to support their families, Christian ministers like Osteen should also be able to recognize the unseemliness of acquiring wealth for wealth's sake -- they should be able to see the difference between the types of lives they should be aspiring to lead and those of major league baseball stars. Constantly plugging his New York Times Bestseller! book during church services that presumably should be focused on God suggests the focus is more on Joel Osteen than it is about the substantive messages of the Gospel. It's also okay to earn money in general and be successful in life, but it's misleading to suggest that those goals are ends for which God is just a convenient means to bring them about. Four, well, aren't Catholic homilies often dry and not really engaging -- why shouldn't people seek out churches with more attractive worship services (and why criticize Osteen for theological fluff)? Sure, Catholic homilies often can be lacking in depth, but even when that's the case (and priests at least have all had a great deal of training) what matters most in the Mass is the sacrament of the Eucharist, the participation in the Body and Blood of Christ, the experiencing of the Real Presence. No matter how bland a homily may be, through participation in a shared liturgy we always hear the Word and know that we "do this" act of coming to the Eucharist according to Christ's instruction. Worship is not about being entertained, it's about the attitude with which we approach God, and it's about the truth that we should be looking toward even when the packaging seems less than sharp.

It would be great if Christianity was always warm and fuzzy, but as Flannery O'Connor corrected, "What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when in fact it is the cross." Pope Benedict has also spoken about the fact that religion is not just what we would selectively choose to make of it:

But at the same time there is a feeling of frustration, a sense of dissatisfaction with everyone and everything. People tend to exclaim: "This cannot be what life is about!". Indeed not. And so, together with forgetfulness of God there is a kind of new explosion of religion. I have no wish to discredit all the manifestations of this phenomenon. There may be sincere joy in the discovery. But to tell the truth, religion often becomes almost a consumer product. People choose what they like, and some are even able to make a profit from it. But religion sought on a "do-it-yourself" basis cannot ultimately help us. It may be comfortable, but at times of crisis we are left to ourselves.


Similarly in his book Truth and Tolerance, the Pope notes, "In many ways there is indeed a real boom in religion, but religion that collapses into particularism, not infrequently parting company with its sublime spiritual context, and that - instead of uplifting man - promises him greater power and the satisfaction of his needs." But satisfaction can't come just from material success, even if you're praising God to try to achieve it. It can ultimately only come from Christ. The transformation that changes our lives is not effected by positive thinking alone, but by "[t]his first fundamental transformation of violence into love, of death into life, [that] brings other changes in its wake. Bread and wine become his Body and Blood." At World Youth Day last month, the Pope further emphasized, "All other changes remain superficial and cannot save. For this reason we speak of redemption: what had to happen at the most intimate level has indeed happened, and we can enter into its dynamic. Jesus can distribute his Body, because he truly gives himself."

God does want us to be happy, and he does want us to make the most of the talents we have been given. But He doesn't promise us that we'll have it all in this life. Joel Osteen preaches otherwise, and that makes his message dangerously ordered away from the Truth. To the extent he opens people's hearts to accepting the Gospel, he is doing good work, and I have no doubt of the sincerity of people's experiences at his church. But a church must be founded on Truth, and Osteen does not quite offer it.

Part of the trend

Who knew that, in deciding not to try to get into a house in the insanely overpriced market in D.C. but rather to rent the place I was happier with, I was really just following the crowd? But now the NYT has provided the evidence in an interesting article about every D.C. (and New York?) resident's favorite topic, housing costs:

But renting might deserve another look right now. After five years in which rents have barely budged while house prices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and elsewhere have doubled, renting has become a surprisingly smart option for many people who never would have considered it before.

Add it all up - which The New York Times did, in an analysis of the major costs and benefits of owning and renting, including tax breaks - and owning a home today is more expensive than renting in much of the Northeast, Florida and California. Only if prices rise well above their already lofty levels will home ownership turn out to be the good deal that it is widely assumed to be.

Monday, September 26, 2005

ASCR still showing promise

Wesley Smith passes on the published report that umbilical cord (adult) blood stem cells have recently been used to restore feeling and mobility to a patient who had been paralyzed by a spinal cord injury for more than nineteen years. Within weeks, the woman could move her hips and had feeling below the waist for the first time since the injury, and there was even measurable regrowth of the spinal cord. Smith cautions, "One patient does not a treatment make," which is true, but what an amazing result. Other adult stem cell treatments have been used to help recent spinal cord injury patients and those are wonderful avenues of research to pursue, but the added fact of this Korean patient having a decades-old injury gives even more cause for hope for paralyzed patients. It's important to keep publicizing great stories like this in the face of the media rush to hype the false (aside from being unethical) hopes of embryonic research.

Their eyes are watching

On a different note, last week brought a reminder about how much Notre Dame, perhaps uniquely, means to so many people around the country. Last Wednesday, Charlie Weis went to visit in Mishawaka a little kid named Montana who was dying of cancer. He was a huge Irish fan (with a name like Montana and a brother named Rockne, how could he not be?) and Weis visited with him for a little while and then asked what he could do -- they agreed to let Montana call the first play of Saturday's game. So he promised that he would call a pass to the right as the first play against Washington. Montana died on Friday. Weis called the first play (from the ND one-yard line, as it turned out) as a pass to the right, and he brought the game ball to Montana's family on Sunday. Reading the way Weis talked about the boy at the press conference on Saturday is pretty powerful. He wasn't trying to exploit the story; it clearly made an impact on him, and he just spoke conversationally, telling Montana's story:

I had told the team briefly about Montana on Wednesday because it was kind of a compelling visit, like I said. I told them how important Notre Dame football is to a lot of people. I was using Montana as an example. I'm not big on "Win one for the Gipper" type of deals, but I wanted people to realize how important they are as football players at Notre Dame, that they represent a lot of people that they don't even realize they're representing. Sometimes you think of the media. Sometimes you think of the alumni. You don't think of the 10 year old kid who is dying of cancer.

I think Weis can understand even better as a graduate what the university means. A local news video is here and another article here. The last thing Charlie said about Montana at the conference was this:

Not to bring a somber note, but I think for Montana's sake, I hope he's smiling in heaven right now, and I'm glad he's out of pain. I'm glad we won, by the way, too, so I could bring him the ball.

Speaking of class

On Saturday John Saunders ripped on Notre Dame for firing Tyrone Willingham last winter, just about calling the school racist and saying flat out that we lack class. Not to his credit, Willingham said in the interview that he would be "naive" not to think race played some role in his firing. This was all very irritating. Lots of things went into the decision to fire Willingham; one of them was, oh, the fact that he was regularly losing by the worst margins in school history. One of them was not race. I actually had always agreed that Willingham had class, but not to put an end to all of the media mutterings about race was not classy.

In any event, not to focus too much on all that because Notre Dame went to Washington, won convincingly, and is now moving on. We won't, and don't evidently need to, look back to last year. While I don't wish Willingham ill, I am happy to put the whole affair behind us for the season and I'm not likely to give him another thought this year.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The cuteness factor

I (or at least, my feet) have decided that weekends are good things because I get to wear tennis shoes. I wear pretty practical, low-heel shoes most of the time with suits, but even with those walking in the city can be tough. Oh well. Football day tomorrow. Since the D.C. area isn't getting the game, I believe I shall head out to the ND Club gathering at Sine Irish Pub at Pentagon Row. Hopefully they'll get the feed.

I have stuff I want to blog, but have not even turned on the computer most nights this week. So, until I sit down to do some posts, here's the best link I've (belatedly) stumbled onto recently -- the panda cam. If the little panda cub isn't moving on the screen when you see it, just scroll down the page for some of the cutest animal baby pictures you'll ever see. (More if you click on the photo gallery link on this page.) Wow. It's easy to understand the panda-mania sweeping this city -- there's no way not to smile at the little guy. What a cutie.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Dictators and reporters

One of the Fox News anchors, reporting on North Korea, just summarized the news item thusly (or close enough): "North Korea accused the United States today of planning a nuclear attack, even though just days ago the U.S. denied any such plans." Oh, well, if we denied it recently, then. Wouldn't a more accurate clause be something like, "even though that's absurd"?

It's so strange when reporters treat the wild claims of totalitarian dictators with more credulity than should be warranted. It's like Saddam Hussein receiving 100% of the vote - "even though some say those numbers may not be representative."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Good things

Good things over the last few days:

- Even though the Irish lost (and oh, it galls me since all four years I was there we lost to MSU also) it was, really, the kind of loss that doesn't sting too much because in contrast to the embarrassingly unprecedented blowouts suffered under Willingham in the last three years, this loss showed spirit, ability, and the right kind of attitude. We didn't look like we didn't belong on the field. We didn't roll over when down 38-17. We made adjustments to their defense and changed our plays on offense (adjustments? what are those?). And we scored points offensively. We lost to the better team on Saturday, killing ourselves with stupid penalties, turnovers, and missed opportunities, but the signs of promise were there. If we don't learn from this, it will clarify the point that there really aren't such things as moral victories. And yet . . . if we take all of this and unload on Washington (it's not personal, it's business) and decisively beat Purdue, and continue looking solid throughout the season, then Irish fans should be able to feel pretty good about our season. Blue-Gray Sky take here.

- My parents came into town Sunday and it was fun showing them my new place and having a nice dinner in Bethesda.

- And, oh yes . . . I passed the bar! Now I can call myself a lawyer, keeping the "law" part in "Irishlaw" and also keeping my job secure for now :) I won't get the actual letter in the mail until tomorrow or Thursday, but the Florida Supreme Court posted results on the webpage yesterday. My coworkers were all very nice to me, and in the evening I marked the occasion with a pizza-and-football date with my boyfriend, generally just feeling very relieved. C'est bon. And now, off to work.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Justice and mercy in government

Last month's issue of First Things is now online. One noteworthy article is here, "Christians and the Death Penalty." The article notes that many bad arguments are advanced both for and against the death penalty in common discourse, but few address the position that Christians should rightly take with regard to the the government's use of capital punishment. I'm not entirely sure what I think of the article yet but it's pretty interesting:

Christians may decline to accept responsibility for government, but governing must still go on. And that governing will inevitably find itself caught in the clash between justice and mercy. Christ’s teaching forgives the sinner even while it condemns the sin, and human justice and human mercy may perhaps find a unity in us as individuals if we turn the other cheek as we are taught. But at the level of any actual government—at the level of positive law, with its officers and magistrates—justice and mercy are necessarily in conflict. If judges show mercy, in any meaningful sense of the word, they do so at the explicit cost of justice; they are being unjust by failing to exact the penalty that justice requires.

So what kind of justice—high, low, divine, poetic—can a Christian expect in a modern nation-state? More to the point, what kind of justice can a Christian allow modern democracies to claim for themselves?

A minor tempest

Amy Welborn notes a (in my opinion) dumb mini-controversy brewing at Notre Dame over the university's latest ad airing during football games this season. In the ad, a girl is seen praying and lighting candles. At the end of the spot she gets a letter in the mail from Notre Dame, and looks up in gratitude; the fade-out words are "A Higher Education."

I think the ad is pretty cool, tapping as it does into the religious character of the school and acknowledging the desire that so many students out there have to attend. I also think it's good for the school to be selling itself based on its being Catholic, as opposed to just the standard, albeit usually quite nice enough, we're-a-great-research-university-and-socially-conscious-besides ads that generally run during college football games.

Apparently, however, the "independent" (liberal) voices at the Observer and some members of the diversity committee have taken extreme umbrage at the ad for being too Catholic (imagine that!) and not reflective enough of all the complexity and diversity of ND (meaning, all the "non-Catholic and non-white" aspects of it). I'm at a loss. Are all ads supposed to be perfectly (and visibly) multiracially representative? Toss out the old Joe Montana and Fr. Hesburgh ads too, then. Why should the ads take care to appeal to non-Catholic viewers? If 85% of the school is Catholic, the school is reaching a big part of its intended audience by running a Catholic ad. It never even occurred to me watching the ad to be offended by it; I'm more bothered by the complaints. The mere fact of having a white student in the ad by no stretch of the imagination (unless it's a perpetually-offended imagination) means that only white students exist or are welcome at Notre Dame. That should go without saying. And plenty of non-Catholic students attend the school and are perfectly welcome (and most do feel comfortable, although I understand not everyone will) but the school is predominantly, and unapologetically, Catholic. Why be offended about that? The Observer and diversity committee students who complain also seem to make assumptions that non-white students at the school are all going to be also non-Catholic (so they're suitably offended on both counts) but this isn't accurate at all. Most Hispanic students (the largest minority on campus) are Catholic, as are many African-American and Asian students. The Observer and the student senate ought to pay attention to more important matters than this single innocuous commercial.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Hail to the victors ... the Irish!

I played my "Rudy" soundtrack in surround sound this morning to get psyched for the game and then jumped up and down a lot after the first three minutes, a textbook drive down the field for a score. There was some sweating it out in the rest of the game, a nice defensive battle that involved some great stands from our guys and ultimately finished 17-10, Irish. Michigan finished with an interception, loss on downs, and fumble all inside the red zone, the turnovers coming inside the five. So a little bit luck o' the Irish, a little bit better defense than we've shown in a long time. Quinn looked off his game for most of the time, but overall, we've got to be very happy about this showing against a top-5 team, one of our biggest rivals, on the road. Niiice :) Even my OSU friends should be happy about this one. (EDIT: Although they won't be happy this evening ... yikes.)

Check Blue-Gray Sky, as always, for good analysis shortly.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Much ado about an "irrelevant" team

John Walters has a nice article up on the fact that despite the pundits' continued insistence that the Irish are irrelevant (and "tarnished," etc.), an awful lot of people still seem to be paying attention. Walters ticks off the items from last weekend:

Here was Notre Dame, a school that had finished at .500 or below in the past two seasons. A school that was entering the season unranked. And yet last Friday morning the set of ESPN2's Cold Pizza came to us live from Pittsburgh, where the Irish were set to play their season opener the next evening against No. 23 Pitt. And if you picked up USA Today that same morning, the cover story in the sports section, written by Malcolm Moran (who does a spot-on Lou Holtz impression, by the way), carried the headline "With Weis, New Hope Springs for Irish Faithful."

The next day? ESPN thought enough of a game between No. 23 and an unranked team to have its College GameDay crew there for its season premiere . . . . Saturday night ESPN's sister network, ABC, televised Notre Dame-Pittsburgh in prime time . . . [Keith] Jackson traveled across three time zones to broadcast the game. And, the Panthers' home, Heinz Field, was not only sold out (66,451) but concourse standing-room only tickets were also made available to a few hundred spectators.

Heh. Well, Michigan is going to be a serious test (as will the other two top-5 teams in particular we face this season), but I think Irish fans can be a lot more optimistic that this year we've got a seriously competitive team, one with a lot more potential to perform consistently. Maybe we'll even become "relevant" again :)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"Jump-start the healing process" ... in Vegas

It's been a terrible and stressful week for the first responders in New Orleans. There's no doubt that many have been deeply affected personally by the disaster, and those who have pushed on with rescue efforts and crowd control in tough conditions have done commendable work. That being said, I find it inexplicable -- as one in a series of questionable judgments by the New Orleans mayor -- that Nagin is sending police and firemen to Las Vegas or Atlanta for five-day vacations, starting next week. He even had the temerity to ask FEMA to foot the bill for hotel and roundtrip airfare, but in lieu of that, now says the city will pay for it. (Meanwhile, several hundred thousand of the mayor's people are currently enjoying the luxury accommodations of the Astrodome and various shelters around the country, relying solely on the kindness of families and strangers.)

Via the Corner, this line from The Anchoress, who says what I'd been thinking:

I know cops and firefighters who worked the WTC in the days and months after 9/11. If anyone had suggested they take a trip to Vegas to de-stress you know what they would have done? They would have decked you, on the spot, for suggesting such a thing while part of their city lay in ruins, while debris was still smoldering and body parts were still being discovered and retrieved. They would have decked you flat and dared you to get back up and suggest it again.

And those men had also lost friends and family in the destruction. And that fire burned for months.

At least the mayor didn't suggest a vacation to the nearer-by Biloxi and Gulfport casinos, which, besides not existing anymore, probably have lots of pretty-stressed-out police and firemen still working hard at recovery efforts. Nah.

The governator's dilemma

California's Assembly just passed a bill to legalize SSM, in a 41-35 vote, following last week's similar Senate vote, which makes for a novel event in U.S. history -- it's the first time a legislature has voluntarily passed a bill that would legalize SSM, in this case by redefining marriage in state law to be between two nonspecified "persons" instead of a man and a woman. (The bill had failed in the assembly as recently as three months ago but found new votes this time.) The issue now reaches the desk of Gov. Schwarzenegger, who's a social liberal (he supports other California domestic partnership laws) but owes enough of his support to conservative Republicans that he would prefer not to take a direct stand on the SSM issue. Whether he signs or vetoes the bill, he's going to take a lot of heat.

For those (like myself) who prefer legislatures to courts for working out controversial issues, it is readily admitted that the California initiative has certainly been validly enacted. What makes this seem less like the will of the people, however, is that just a few years ago California passed a Defense of Marriage Act by popular referendum, in which more than 60 percent of California voters chose expressly to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Are the legislators really expressing the policy preferences of their constituents or their own sentiments? A case can be made for the legitimacy of both methods of representation, but with such a clear statement of the people's will, this vote is dubious and the original vote could provide the governor with support if he wants to veto. If the governor does sign the current bill, the people could reaffirm their original decision by voting on a constitutional amendment next year -- or they could affirm the legislature's choice. I would sincerely hope the people of California do not vote to kill the meaning of marriage in their state, and I strongly disagree with the California legislature's vote this week. But no matter what the outcomes are, I mostly don't want to see the issue decided by courts. It is, after all, the legislature and the people that legitimately decide constitutional laws under our system.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

R.I.P.

Chief Justice Rehnquist has passed away.

While her loyal sons are marching

On a happier note, today marked the opening day of college football for the season. I love football :D I love even more when Notre Dame looks awesome like we did against Pitt tonight (42-21!), especially in the first half. We didn't punt until the fourth quarter and despite having a lot to work on (what was up with all the penalties and open guys across the middle?) we suddenly look, quite appropriately, like we have a team being coached by a guy with three recent Super Bowl rings. Here was the Blue-Gray Sky Willingham retrospective coming into today with some new optimism, and here is a thoroughly entertaining take on the upcoming season from one enthusiastic (read: crazy) Domer. Now, who knows where things will go from here -- we still have to play a lot of highly ranked teams, including several top-5 ones. But what a great opener. Eat crow, Lee Corso. Go Irish!!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Generosity and help

Amy Welborn posts that Benedictine College is accepting students affected by the hurricane and mentions also that Jesuit schools are facilitating some transfers as well. I heard directly this morning that Saint Louis U (a Jesuit university) is offering for students from Loyola NO and other schools to start at SLU on the same terms (offering the same scholarships as the other schools) and working quickly to help admit students. Around the country, elementary and secondary schools are also working to get affected students started in classes as soon as they can. The outpouring of generosity from all Americans (a single radio station in DC raised over $200,000 yesterday morning alone; people all over the country are volunteering and opening their homes and donating goods and administering aid) is moving to see. Also this morning, aid finally starting really reaching into downtown New Orleans and order began to be restored. Things have pretty much hit rock bottom in the city and there are a good many recriminations to be made, but one dares to hope that things will improve -- and one has to take heart from the generosity of so many.

One link: The Anchoress has a good post on what happened in the first 100 hours after the storm.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Good Lord

Along with good and innocent people, it is also true that the New Orleans floods have flushed out more than a few criminals (just last week, people were noting that the city's murder rate is much higher than average). But these reports of carjackings, shooting at rescue helicopters, violent looting, and robberies by armed thugs, are just unbelievable nevertheless. Where is the law enforcement presence? And how many of the reassuring messages by officials on TV that help is on the way are actually being communicated to the poor people who have now been stranded for days in worsening rot and filth, without food? What an utter disaster.

From orbit

Here is a satellite image of the flooding I found on the NOAA website. As I am seeing the picture, it looks like one side of this canal is completely dry, while on the other side thousands of houses are totally submerged. Roofs, power lines, and a few boats are visible. One or two houses look like they've floated off their foundations and run into other houses. Wow.