Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Crying to Heaven for Vengeance

The New York Times runs a story today, "Most Ironbound Day Laborers Report Being Cheated", based on research from Seton Hall University:
Nearly all day laborers who gather for work in the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark have had employers who have either paid them less than promised or not paid them at all ... The report found that 96 percent of the workers reported that they had experienced at least one case of wage theft. Some 88 percent reported that employers had failed to pay them overtime wages, as required by state and federal laws; 77 percent had been victims of underpayment of regular-hour wages; and 62 percent had employers who refused to pay them on at least one occasion.
These employers might want to remember that defrauding laborers of their wages is one of the four "sins that cry to heaven for vengeance":
Behold the hire of the labourers, who have reaped down your fields, which by fraud has been kept back by you, crieth: and the cry of them hath entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. (James 5:4)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"I resolved to rise and take a turn in the garden..."

The Fellows' Garden, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford
Philonous. Good morrow, Hylas: I did not expect to find you abroad so early.

Hylas. It is indeed something unusual; but my thoughts were so taken up with a subject I was discoursing of last night, that finding I could not sleep, I resolved to rise and take a turn in the garden.

Phil. It happened well, to let you see what innocent and agreeable pleasures you lose every morning. Can there be a pleasanter time of the day, or a more delightful season of the year? That purple sky, those wild but sweet notes of birds, the fragrant bloom upon the trees and flowers, the gentle influence of the rising sun, these and a thousand nameless beauties of nature inspire the soul with secret transports; its faculties too being at this time fresh and lively, are fit for those meditations, which the solitude of a garden and tranquillity of the morning naturally dispose us to. But I am afraid I interrupt your thoughts: for you seemed very intent on something.

Hyl. It is true, I was, and shall be obliged to you if you will permit me to go on in the same vein; not that I would by any means deprive myself of your company, for my thoughts always flow more easily in conversation with a friend, than when I am alone: but my request is, that you would suffer me to impart my reflexions to you.

Phil. With all my heart, it is what I should have requested myself if you had not prevented me.

Hyl. I was considering the odd fate of those men who have in all ages, through an affectation of being distinguished from the vulgar, or some unaccountable turn of thought, pretended either to believe nothing at all, or to believe the most extravagant things in the world. This however might be borne, if their paradoxes and scepticism did not draw after them some consequences of general disadvantage to mankind. But the mischief lieth here; that when men of less leisure see them who are supposed to have spent their whole time in the pursuits of knowledge professing an entire ignorance of all things, or advancing such notions as are repugnant to plain and commonly received principles, they will be tempted to entertain suspicions concerning the most important truths, which they had hitherto held sacred and unquestionable.

Phil. I entirely agree with you, as to the ill tendency of the affected doubts of some philosophers, and fantastical conceits of others. I am even so far gone of late in this way of thinking, that I have quitted several of the sublime notions I had got in their schools for vulgar opinions. And I give it you on my word; since this revolt from metaphysical notions to the plain dictates of nature and common sense, I find my understanding strangely enlightened, so that I can now easily comprehend a great many things which before were all mystery and riddle.

Hyl. I am glad to find there was nothing in the accounts I heard of you.

Phil. Pray, what were those?

Hyl. You were represented, in last night’s conversation, as one who maintained the most extravagant opinion that ever entered into the mind of man, to wit, that there is no such thing as material substance in the world.

Phil. That there is no such thing as what philosophers call material substance, I am seriously persuaded: but, if I were made to see anything absurd or sceptical in this, I should then have the same reason to renounce this that I imagine I have now to reject the contrary opinion.

Hyl. What I can anything be more fantastical, more repugnant to Common Sense, or a more manifest piece of Scepticism, than to believe there is no such thing as matter?

Phil. Softly, good Hylas. What if it should prove that you, who hold there is, are, by virtue of that opinion, a greater sceptic, and maintain more paradoxes and repugnances to Common Sense, than I who believe no such thing?

Hyl. You may as soon persuade me, the part is greater than the whole, as that, in order to avoid absurdity and Scepticism, I should ever be obliged to give up my opinion in this point.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Pick Your Battles

Writing on National Review Online, Abigail Thernstrom dissents from the general fury at the Justice Department over their handling of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case.
...it is very small potatoes. Perhaps the Panthers should have been prosecuted under section 11 (b) of the Voting Rights Act for their actions of November 2008, but the legal standards that must be met to prove voter intimidation — the charge — are very high.

In the 45 years since the act was passed, there have been a total of three successful prosecutions. The incident involved only two Panthers at a single majority-black precinct in Philadelphia. So far — after months of hearings, testimony and investigation — no one has produced actual evidence that any voters were too scared to cast their ballots. Too much overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges has been devoted to this case.

A number of conservatives have charged that the Philadelphia Black Panther decision demonstrates that attorneys in the Civil Rights Division have racial double standards. How many attorneys in what positions? A pervasive culture that affected the handling of this case? No direct quotations or other evidence substantiate the charge.

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, makes a perfectly plausible argument: Different lawyers read this barely litigated statutory provision differently. It happens all the time, especially when administrations change in the middle of litigation. Democrats and Republicans seldom agree on how best to enforce civil-rights statutes; this is not the first instance of a war between Left and Right within the Civil Rights Division.


A disaffected former Justice Department attorney has written: “We had indications that polling-place thugs were deployed elsewhere.” “Indications”? Again, evidence has yet to be offered.

Get a grip, folks. The New Black Panther Party is a lunatic fringe group that is clearly into racial theater of minor importance. It may dream of a large-scale effort to suppress voting — like the Socialist Workers Party dreams of a national campaign to demonstrate its position as the vanguard of the proletariat. But the Panthers have not realized their dream even on a small scale. This case is a one-off.

There are plenty of grounds on which to sharply criticize the attorney general — his handling of terrorism questions, just for starters — but this particular overblown attack threatens to undermine the credibility of his conservative critics. Those who are concerned about Justice Department enforcement of the Voting Rights Act should turn their attention to quite another matter, where the attorney general has been up to much more important mischief: his interpretation of the act’s core provisions.
Read the whole article at NRO.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Video and Audio from the Met Museum

The inanity of Youtube comments is legendary, but this one is pretty high up there:
i went to see this this past weekend.. was prob the most interesting part of the whole museum..
The "this" in question? The current Picasso exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's a comment on Thomas Campbell and Gary Tinterow's video tour of the exhibit. There's so much at the Met. This is not the most interesting thing going on there! It's not even that special as an exhibition of Picasso's work, being a show just of works already in the Museum's collection.

On a recent visit, I found Side by Side: Oberlin’s Masterworks at the Met to be particularly fascinating. More on that in a future post, I hope.

But first, here's a bit of media from the Met's web site that I did really like. In an MP3 podcast, curator James Draper discusses Michaelangelo's "Young Archer": how it was rediscovered and how it ended up on display at the Met.

Somewhat Surprised He Stuck Around

Wow. Bill Buckley tears into Norman Mailer in his introduction to their interview in this episode of Firing Line.

This Youtube playlist has all six parts.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Why July?

Why is July 1st the Feast of the Precious Blood?

"Fr. Hunwike's Liturgical Notes" has the answer, which I had forgotten, if I ever knew it:
...surely one of the most crass examples of the Hermeneutic of Rupture incarnated in the Bugnini 'reforms' [was] ... when, with immense cynicism, the 'reformers' reduced July 1 to a feria on the flippant grounds that the Precious Blood would get a perfectly adequate 'covering' by being merely added to the title of Corpus Christi. Thus a nice piece of Pius IX liturgy disappeared: the memorial he placed on the calendar to commemorate his return to the City after the Roman Revolution of 1848. There is nothing vulgar, incidentally, about doing that sort of thing to the calendar, or, if there is, it is simply the vulgarity of an incarnational religion.
Pius IX assigned the feast to the first Sunday in July, Pius X moved it to July 1 as part of his effort to put back into use Sunday Masses of the Roman Missal that were frequent impeded.