Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hollywood Hater Reviews Sherlock Holmes

Writer Lionel Wigram meant for the Sherlock Holmes movie to deviate from Doyle's writings, and it does; but this is not why I disdain the film. I disdain it because it is a typical acerebral, modern Hollywood superhero movie.

Elementary Plot, My dear Watson
Lionel Wigram is a comic book writer whose script is based on his comic book understanding of Holmes. Wigram says he found an allusion to Holmes's boxing past and an instance of Holmes using a martial art in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories--so Wigram decided to focus virtually his entire script on kung-fu action.

Snatch 2 ?

When every scene is an action scene, there is no noticeable action scene. As I sat in the theater, I grew weary of all the sensationalized Kung-Pow action, the near escapes, and the slow-motion explosions. Maybe all that slow-motion was what made the movie seem so long. Four monotonously long fighting scenes are spliced by tense scenes of conflict--usually involving Holmes arguing with Watson or with some minor character. When he's not arguing he's hurrying off to some place. Of course, as is typical in a Guy Ritchie film, there abound annoying swooshing sounds and disorienting camera work which together are tasked with depicting transitions into flashbacks, dreams, and the like.

In several fight scenes, Holmes does this ridiculous Mortal Combatesque combo-move in which he envisions a list of sequentially-planned jujitsu moves that he will do on his opponent--in slow motion. He then uses his predetermined combo-move to destroy his foe in real-time. For any nerdedly stricken fan of Pokémon, World of Warcraft, Zelda, Dungeons & Dragons, Final Fantasy, etc, Wigram's Sherlock Holmes is right up his alley.

Not only is the new Holmes more deadly than Chuck Norris, he's an expert scientist too. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes uses little science beyond simple clue gathering* because science was not as prominent nor as developed in Doyle's day. But Wigram's celluloid Sherlock uses primarily forensic science to solve his crime rather than impressive deductive reasoning. Because there is not much focus on Holmes's thought processes throughout the movie**, the end scene in which all is revealed seems disappointing, leaving the viewer wondering whether "this is it?" It is unrealistic to expect the ending to be as good as Doyle's, but it could still be a little more substantive. Overall, Holmes simply discovers the type of scientific cooking Moriarty uses to fool people.

There might be a cryptic sub-plot concerning science triumphing over religion or superstition in Sherlock Holmes. Professor Moriarty tries to chicane the public into thinking he wields the devil's power.¹ Christian protesters are portrayed briefly as morbid lunkheaded doomsayers. Holmes, of course, uses his scientific knowledge to expose Moriarty's feigned death and bogus resurrection. A Christian could interpret this event in a positive way, as meaning that no man other than Christ can be resurrected. Or, he could simply glean a subconscious doubt for any resurrection in the presence of scientific scrutiny.² Overall however, at least the bad guy is associated with the devil.

Finally, Sherlock Holmes resembles a James Bond film because Sherlock's nemesis puts him in many an "easily escapable situation involving an overly elaborate and exotic death." There is even a doomsday device that Holmes and his cohorts must stop. Where would a modern Hollywood movie be without such unique treasures?

Wigram wanted to emphasize the quirky dysfunctional side of Holmes, but he did so to the extreme--in comic book caricature fashion. Holmes spends days in a dark room designing more contraptions than would Dexter in his la-boratory. In this way, Sherlock Holmes is almost interchangeable with Downey Jr.'s Iron Man character. Holmes is definitely an ubermensch--or super-duper character we're all supposed to be imbued with, and Sherlock Holmes is a character-driven film.³ Nonetheless Downey plays the quirky role well.⁴

The quality of ubermenschia is not only confined to Holmes: Watson, played by Jude Law, is also a ninja expert, supposedly justified as such by Wigram because Doyle once mentions his military past. Much has been said about Jude Law's and Downey Jr's "chemistry," but unless we're talking in terms of tag-team fighting tactics, the two really didn't have a whole lot of time together on set for any grown-up interaction--which wasn't really their fault.

Rachel McAdams plays a Holmes' villainess love interest, a character entirely Wigram's. Doyle's Holmes was unconcerned with women, having lost his true love early in life to an illness. Perhaps Wigram felt he could better the movie by giving a lady a prominent role. Perhaps he added the McAdams's character as an Insignificat.⁵ The female character, also an ubermensch, is nearly as smart as Holmes, and beats up a man 3 times her size. I suppose McAdams plays the role well, but, on a lesser note, she should go back to her natural blonde hair color.

Scenery and Music
In keeping with its comic book motif, the film paints a slightly grotesque and grim picture of Victorian London. The dark streets are laden with mud, the skies always cloudy, and the street characters exotically hideous. Notwithstanding this, the costumes are accurate, as are the carriages, rooms, and buildings. Insofar as Sherlock Holmes orthodoxy is concerned, Holmes wears not his typical hat, but a cowboyish hat with dark spectacles. Downey Jr. doesn't have the Rathbonesque aquiline nose either. Throughout the film a Halloween-like ragtime piano arrangement plays. There is also a banjo piece in the movie which isn't too bad.

Everything is just a bit overdone in this film, besides dialogue and plot which are barely done. The apocalyptic setting, ostentatious special effects, and ubermensch characters make Sherlock Holmes reek of idolatry. But hey, at least it won't leave you Avatarred and Feathered.

*I'm wrong about this since Doyle's Holmes was actually an expert chemist and did use a lot of forensic science. In my opinion, however, the movie focuses too much on the "Dexter's Lab" portrayal of Holmes.

**For a better explanation of this see this, see this Buzzine article.

¹ However, Moriarty does seem to commence over a genuine satanic ritual in the beginning of the film.

² Jewish producer Joel Silver probably would have no problem with debunking any resurrection. Nor would director Guy Ritchie who married Madonna who is perhaps the most notorious committer of sacrilege in human history.

³The Ancient Greeks believed stories should be foremostly plot-driven, as do I. Thanks to Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder for putting this insight in their Avatar article so I could copy it.

⁴Robert Downey Jr. is in good standing with the Nothington Post, not only because he's a decent actor but because he defended Mel Gibson during Mel's anti-semitic tirade crisis. Mel is esteemed here because he dared stand up to the atheistic Hollywood cabal by making a movie, not just about an Old Testament Bible story, but about Our Lord's passion.

⁵The Insignificat is an offertory casting to Feminism by placing a woman in an awkward role previously not designated for a female. The lady character usually does manly things like beat up monsters, etc. It is common in Hollywood films today.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Peg Luksik Releases Informational Video on Healthcare

Pennsylvania senatorial candidate Peg Luksik has done something few politicians do--educate the public.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

QB Shows a Whole Lot of Soul in Win

King's Wins 2009 Mayor's Cup
Despite erroneously being touted as underdogs by Times Leader sportswriters, the King's College football team whipped Wilkes University 33-16 on a misty Saturday afternoon. King's quarterback Corey Lavin looked like a combination of Brett Favre and Micheal Vick as he scrambled, split Wilkes's coverages with his passes, and broke several big runs. On one 2nd half run, he appeared to be sacked for a loss but broke free and eluded several defenders for a 40+ yard gain.

Notwithstanding Lavin's accomplishments, the game was a total team effort as King's offensive line drove Wilkes defenders off the line of scrimmage to spur RB Cluade O'Connor for 167 yards. LB Alex Watty picked off the Wilkes QB in the second half to seal the deal. It was evident that King's wanted the game more as they left everything on the field.

for more:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bill Ayers in the Whitehouse? Could This be a Provocative Scam?

The Obaman Kommissariat named 110 guests to the White House according to their defacto press agency, MSNBC. The list does not name every visitor but let's see who they've named:

Malik Shabazz, leader of the new black panthers, RINO Newt Gingrich, far-left financier George Soros, Global Warming profiteer Albert Gore, SEIU leader Andrew Stern, and irreverends Al $harpton and Je$$e Jack$on. However, names on the list such as "William Ayers," "Jeremiah Wright," and "Michael Moore," reports MSNBC, are not "that Jeremiah Wright," Ayers, or Moore.

A Den of Ideological Iniquity?

Given my personal experience with MSNBC's disregard for factual truth when it comes to politics, I wouldn't be surprised if they are lying. (Reporters seem content with party lines and no facts when it comes to reporting about left-wing politicians they love.) Nonetheless it seems odd that the Obaman Kommissariate would put people named Ayers, Wright, and Moore on the list, knowing that such names would provoke outrage among conservatives. Here's a good comment by Kyle Olson of Big

...MSNBC claims the first three: Ayers, Moore and Wright aren’t the Ayers, Moore and Wright. Then why release the names? Not to mention: the White House staff and the president himself just happen to have other friends named Bill Ayers, Michael Moore and Jeremiah Wright? That’s bizarre.

This is likely Act II in the White House slight of hand to distract from the real issue: Reid and Pelosi’s lengthy bills to takeover health care in America. Act I, of course, was the blatant attack on Fox News, which fizzled, arguably backfired and ultimately died.

Conservatives need to stay focused on the wise words and analysis of those such as Byron York, and not be the distracted by the made-for-TV sideshows the White House has been creating.

So, in that spirit let's move on to a more pertinent issue than the Red House's>I mean White House's guest list: that is health care reform. Here's a note from Pennsylvania Senatorial candidate Peg Luksik:

The newest version of Health Care Reform has been introduced. It weighs in at over 1900 pages, and has the blessing of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And you don't have to read farther than Section 101 to find the basic problem with single payer care. Part (h) of Section 101says that if the government runs short of money, the Secretary "SHALL MAKE SUCH ARRANGEMENTS AS ARE NECESSARY TO ELIMINATE A DEFICIT, INCLUDING REDUCING BENEFITS, INCREASING PREMIUMS, OR ESTABLISHING WAITING LISTS".

That is a very wordy method of saying "government rationing". While there are nearly 2,000 more pages, there is no way to avoid the bottom line - government-funded health care is government-rationed health care. It's as simple as that.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ted Thompson's All-Important Draft Picks Flounder vs. Vikings

Brett Favre may have beaten his GB replacement Aaron Rodgers and his estranged, former coach Mike McCarthy, but his true nemesis last night was Packers GM Ted Thompson.

Prior to Ted Thompson's hiring in 2005, Brett had been contemplating retirement each offseason. Many suspect Ted Thompson was brought in to get rid of Brett.

Many may remember Brett's appearance on FOX News with Greta Van Susteren in the summer of 2008 right after the Packers banned him from their locker room (after he rescinded on his retirement). During the interview Brett said Thompson Thompson was dishonest with him when Brett lobbied for Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle in 2005, and for Randy Moss in 2007. Brett wanted skilled free agents capable of a superbowl run. Instead, much to the chagrin of Brett (and most Packer fans) Thompson seemed hellbent on using the draft only, with CB Charles Woodson being his only major free agent signing. Although several of Thompson's picks like Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings have turned out to be stars, his draft record is otherwise rather unimpressive.

In fact, the Packers offensive line that allowed 14 sacks on Aaron Rodgers in two games vs. the Vikings was composed entirely of Thompson picks. Why are they so bad?

Each year, Thompson drafted wide receivers in the early rounds and took offensive linemen late. It was the weak o-linemen that Thompson drafted: like tackles T.J. Lang (4th) and Allen Barbre(4th) who were responsible for allowing most of the sacks, not to mention his 2006 2nd round bust guard Daryn Colledge. Furthermore, one may find it strange that the Packers passed up on drafting so many quality offensive linmen while having aging tackles in Clifton and Tauscher.

Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, and James Jones can run and catch, but they can't block the Williamses and Jared Allen.

So in the end Thompson has lost...unfortunately for Packers fans and players.

However, it's all sunshine in Minnesota as Favre teams up with the greatest player in the league in Adrian Peterson and solid O-linemen in Steve Hutchinson and Bryant McKinnie.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Tale of Two Mayors

Mayor Barletta is a Yankees fan and Mayor DeStefano is a Mets fan, but their differences don't end there. Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta and Mayor John DeStefano of New Haven, Connecticut appeared in the Sheehey Campus Center Thursday evening, October 23 to share their different policies concerning illegal immigrants. Mayor Barletta has taken measures to discourage illegal immigration to Hazelton, claiming illegal immigrants have increased crime there. In contrast, Mayor DeStefano has made efforts to make illegal immigrants feel like they belong, claiming that they are a vital part of the New Haven's economy. Mayor DeStefano appeared live from New Haven via telecast. The Times Leader and other news agencies were present. The event was an educational forum in which each Mayor made a twenty minute speech and then answered questions. Mayor DeStefano spoke first.

In New Haven, a city of 130,000 people, DeStefano estimates that 15,000 residents are illegal immigrants. After realizing that the federal government wasn't going to help curtail problems associated with illegal immigration, New Haven city officials decided to take action. Illegal immigrants were important to the well being of the city's economy, and many of their children were, in fact, United States citizens. Mayor DeStefano prefaced his city's policy:
"New Haven is not driven to have an individual foreign policy different than that of the United States. We're not trying to be a sanctuary city. We're not trying to hold ourselves out as a model. We're trying to make decisions that are good for us. Our decision is to be a safe city."

DeStefano continued that being a safe city means giving illegal immigrants the ability to report crimes they witness to the police without fear of deportation or inquiry into their immigration status. Since these reforms were instituted, New Haven's crime rate has decreased by 16%.

The city of New Haven also encourages modes of inclusion for resident illegal immigrants such as tax ID numbers which allow them to pay federal taxes, and, more famously, resident ID cards which help to ease their daily transactions. The Mayor lamented the activities of federal immigration agents who, according to affidavits, entered several homes for which they did not have search warrants.

DeStefano said in closing the nation deserves a coherent plan of immigration that would include a guest-worker program, pathway to citizenship and better border security.

Although Mayor Lou Barletta also believes that the federal government is not handling immigration well, he has had a different experience in Hazelton. Mayor Barletta welcomed the influx of new immigrants; many brought youth to the aging city. However, problems began adding up. For the four years following 2003 violent crime in Hazelton skyrocketed 300%. In a city which had previously experienced a murder every seven years or so, Barletta's eight years in office witnessed 13 homicides, 9 of them by illegals. 30% of all crimes were by illegals. Moreover, despite a 50% spike in population, tax revenue remained stagnant. The police department and other city services were overwhelmed.

"I didn't know what to do," said Barletta. The plight of the city that he had grown up in had left him heartbroken. After receiving no help from Washington, and hearing the concerns of residents, Mayor Barletta and city officials decided to take action. They introduced the Immigration Relief Act which would require all residents to verify citizenship with the Federal government upon applying for a job and would penalize businesses that hired illegals. Although the act was shot down in Federal Court, Barletta credits it with playing a role in the 40% reduction in violent crime from 2007 to 2008. The Hazelton Mayor noted how one man, a father of three who had moved to Hazelton from New York to get away from gangs, thanked him for his stance against crime.

Mayor Barletta finished by stating that legal immigrants such as a Romanian woman who worked for many years to get her family into the U.S. greatly support him. An attendee and King's alumnus who wished to remain anonymous reinforced this sentiment, stating that she, an immigrant, "backs Barletta 100%." Finally, Barletta proudly stated that Hazelton has encouraged Hispanic immigration, citing 60 new Hispanic businesses in the city and a growing Hispanic population.

After the speeches, the audience asked questions that reflected different points of view, but all present seemed to think the forum was a positive experience.

"I'm pleased that people respected others' opinions…and left thinking we should reach some understanding" said Angel L. Jirau, executive board member of the local NAACP chapter.

Joe Scarcella, a Hazelton native and Jr. at King's said "we need more events like this" that "give you an opportunity to test the truth of your convictions." Whether they hold up or not, he said, events like this "strengthen your belief system."

The primary organizer of the event, our own Brother George Schmitz, said "It was a wonderful opportunity for King's to offer an educational view of an issue rather than an emotionally charged debate." He concluded "It gives us a lot to think about and to talk about."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Limbaugh Anathematized and A Casual Discussion of Modern Media

Although allegations of bias in our local media sometimes arise, such as the purported unfair coverage of Bishop Martino in the Scranton Times or the strange, unfounded "Kill him" comment reported by the Scranton Times' 'reporter' David Singleton, most disputes over media coverage are relegated to the national media.

Recently, Rush Limbaugh had his bid for the St. Louis Rams pro football team revoked partly due to questionable media coverage. Like any public figure, Limbaugh has had to develop thick skin. Besides being scrutinized for his past abuse of the drug oxy-contin and his 2003 claim that the media wanted Donovan McNabb to succeed because he was a black quarterback, Limbaugh has been called a "clown" by New York Times writer Timothy Eagan, and a "human vat of vitriol" by MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews. However, most damning for Limbaugh's Rams bid were allegations that he is a racist. Cable news networks calumniated him, alleging that he said that "slavery had its merits" although they had no audio clip to back the "quote" up. CNN used an undated, vague citation "Rush Limbaugh On The Radio," and MSNBC cited Steelers linebacker James Farrior, a secondary source or in other words a quote of a quote.1 According to the Culture and Media Institute, as of Oct. 16 the networks spent merely 47 seconds on Saturday admitting that the "quote" and other spurious Limbaugh "quotes" were made up.2 CNN and NBC did not apologize, although CNN reporter Rick Sanchez apologized informally on his twitter page.3

Such disregard for verifying the facts in the television media is nothing new. Many may remember how the cable networks lifted Scranton Times reporter David Singleton's allegation that someone yelled "kill him" in reference to Obama at a Scranton Sarah Palin rally last October. Secret service agents called the allegation unfounded after they failed to find anyone else who had heard the shouted message. Notwithstanding the questionable source, the national cable outlets propagated the "kill him" comment anyway.4

Often, bias affects not only how, but what news is reported. For instance, it is doubtful that the news networks pointed out that Limbaugh employs a conservative black man, Bo Snerdley, as his control room operator. Snerdley is also the show's "official Obama criticizer" and quasi-co-host. Snerdley, in fact, wanted Limbaugh to sue media outlets for libel.

Moreover, the fact that Limbaugh has the distinguished black intellectual Walter E. Williams guest host his show would further undermine the media's calumniation of him as a racist. I suppose the problem for Rush is that he's more likely to see eye to eye with Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams than with the 'good' Al Sharpton or the irreverend Jackson. Unfortunately for many conservatives and Limbaugh, they are guilty of racism until proven innocent (in the minds of the left-wing press, which usually deprives them the air time to prove their innocence anyway). Limbaugh here is an example, but similar media bias exists in coverage of tea parties, global warming and other political topics.

Everyone knows that talk radio show hosts like Rush Limbaugh are biased, but, as conservative talk show host Michael Savage points out, they do not try to hide it like news reporters do. Moreover, American news agencies at the aggregate level create a worldview that fits with what is taught in liberal arts courses in high schools and colleges across the country.

For instance, the 65 black kids who were thrown out of a Philadelphia swimming pool last summer received national spotlight and were eventually somewhat compensated with a free trip to Disney World courtesy of a donor. In contrast, the white family in Ohio which was allegedly assaulted by gang of supremacist black teenagers got little national attention, and the nearly 200 white New York state employees who were fired so that the state could hire more minorities were mentioned merely perchance in a New York Post article. Although one would think Americans could handle the news of all these events like adults, the national media apparently does not, preferring only to show that which fits a politically correct worldview.

Most people recognize that there are also ideological differences within media outlets such as those between the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, FOX News and MSNBC, The Times Leader and the Citizen's Voice, or even local talk show host Nancy Kaman and Sue Henry!

This diversity in opinion has created many media rivalries. White House communications director Anita Dunn recently lashed out at FOX News, claiming that it is a propaganda arm of the Republican Party. FOX's Glenn Beck shot back by showing a clip of Anita Dunn saying, in a speech to high schoolers, that communist dictator Mao Tse-tung was one of her favorite political philosophers.

Some people, namely politicians, are upset about conservative dominated talk-radio. Contrastingly, people on the right complain about American Universities where, according to a University of Toronto study, a professor is nearly 5 times more likely to identify herself as liberal than as conservative. Strangely enough, the only sort mitigatory legislation being proposed, a kind of "fairness doctrine," would target only radio stations.

Is such diversity of perspective in media a good thing? Gone are the days of Walter Cronkite when few gave the news to many, especially since the advent of Internet news sites like the Huffington Post and CNS News. Several lament the fact that Americans no longer have a common news experience like they did when Cronkite anchored in the 60's and 70's. Many still blame the diversifying media for creating an ideological gap in America, but one may also speculate that the media somewhat reflects a widening culture gap. Regardless, before one clamors for homogenization of the media via a fairness doctrine or other means, it's a good idea to empathize with one's political opponents and ask: if I were in his or her shoes, would I want someone to tell me that my lone opinion is illegal or that my free speech needs to be balanced out? as if there were only two sides to every issue? Moreover, multiple news outlets each having differing slants ensure against wide-scale media error. To paraphrase an idea of Frederic Bastiat, it is better if one of many news services err than if a single monopoly news service errs.

As long as free speech reigns in America, one must rely largely on websites to make media bias known. For instance, conservative sites such as newsbusters reveal liberal media bias. George Soros' media matters shows material from conservative sites. Newshounds covers bias on FOX News while Times Watch exposes bias in the New York Times. Other sites such as The Pew Research Center cover more general aspects of media outlets.

And for solidarity's sake, I admit that this very article is biased with respect to the which topics I cover, but I believe I present the topics fairly.


Friday, October 9, 2009

The One Wins Ignoble Prize

Nobel Prize Politicized
The primary qualification for winning a Nobel prize is politics a la Al Gore and Paul Krugman. The One did not win it for bringing about peace; the war in Afghanistan rages on. It seems the committee wanted to award him something, and that the Peace prize seemed slightly more believable than the Economics or Physics prize.

Why does the world want to build up The One so much? Is it because he's an obedient Keynesian ruler, and wealthy people want to thank him after receiving their cut of bailout money? Somebody should search the committee members' bank accounts to see if there are any recent spikes in money. On second thought, bribery probably did not play a role.

So why did he get it? It is NOT because he's black. If The One were conservative or libertarian, he would never have been considered.

Perhaps political leaders are just very important for people on the Left. One youtube user has identified nearly 300 home-videos¹ by supporters of The One in which they tell their children to proclaim their love for him, to support him, to dress up like him, or to sing to him. There are likely hundreds if not thousands more videos. Who knows how many actual incidents of such veneration have taken place? Incidentally, there are only about a dozen videos of children lauding McCain. It is clear that many liberals truly love The One. Excuses such as "community organizing" and blackness may be given, but ultimately the award is for politics.

Although, maybe the ignoble peace prize actually demeans The One. How could such a wondrous being feel accomplishment at receiving a mere human award? The One is the New Man, thus a better award should be made up for him.

Back to Reality
Giving rewards based on political allegiance can be expected from characteristically left-wing universities. But sadly, now it is an important criterion at the newly dubbed Ignoble Prize Foundation. Imagine now, a new caste system, with good, progressive "ubermensches" at the top. Where will you fall in such a system?


Saturday, October 3, 2009

King's College Scraps Debate Team

As of Fall 2009, the King's College debate team is officially nonexistent. Funds have been cut. For those familiar with team's past, there are a lot of memories to cherish, especially since the debate team was once quite good.

During the early 60's, with Mr. Robert Connelly as its director, the team gained renown in intercollegiate competition. King's debaters Frank Harrison '61, Peter Smith '62, Richard Passion '61, and Edward Hanlon '61 outwitted students from much larger schools. The 1960-61 season was the apex of their success as they finished second in the nation after Harvard.

Future Congressman Frank Harrison (right) with debate team director Robert Connelly (center) and Peter Smith (right) in 1960

It is interesting to note that the debate topic that year was "That the United States should adopt a program of compulsory health insurance for all citizens." I wonder which side the King's students took.

The debate team enjoyed continued success under Mr. Connelly. Subsequent directors guided the debate team after Connelly's retirement.

The final debate event at King's took place in the McGowan building this past September. One of the men at the desk told me the team was discontinued due to tough going in the economy. However, there is no sign of poverty on the King's campus. The recently-dedicated Gateway Corners building and a new marble fountain attest to ample availability of funds at King's College. Furthermore, the King's website boasts 40 clubs and organizations as well as 19 intercollegiate sports teams.

Alas, it is not tough times per se that led the funds to be cut, but that the debate team was placed low on the funds totem pole. The reason may be due to students' lack of interest in a debate team. Indeed, ever since the gracious donations of William G. McGowan to King's business school, the student body has morphed to comprise nearly 50% business students--who would ostensibly be less inclined to join a debate team than would liberal arts majors.

Although King's business direction has boded badly for the debate team, King's efficiently serves the wants and needs of its community. However, let us not forget our renowned forefathers. Raise a toast, therefore, in honor of our King's debate teams.
First and last photo from Rooted in Hope: The First Fifty Years of King's College 1946-1996

Middle photo:The Wyoming Valley: An American Portrait
(page 166)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Poetry: "End of Summer"

Go and search for white May blossoms,
Drifting, clinging, everywhere,
Go and search for June's red roses,
While their fragrance fills the air,
Go and search for garden flowers,
In hues so bright and gay and fair,
Go and search for golden sunbeams,
Darting, slanting, past my door,
September's here, and summer's over,
Go and search no more.

-Mary Marcella Mayock circa 1993

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Baltimore Consort Plays at King's College

The internationally renowned Early Music Group known as the Baltimore Consort played the first performance of their 30th season on a humid, rainy night in September in the Snyder room at the King's College Campus Center. Inside, the room was well lit and calm. Group members Mary Anne Ballard, Mark Cudek, and Larry Lipkis moved bows over stringed instruments while Ronn McFarlane strummed a lute, Mindy Rosenfeld liviley played flutes and whistles, and Danielle Svonavec sang.

They played early and traditional Scottish music from their CD "Adew Dundee." The most exotic of these pieces, I found, was called "A Scot's Tune." Among the many instruments played were crumhorns (see photo), which are strange instruments that sound like bagpipes but look like skinny saxophones. The instruments played--especially the lute--were far quieter than amplified instruments or brass instruments and thus were heard at a comfortable volume. The group's youthful-looking singer, Danielle Svonavec, sang without microphonal amplification and an accent--thus adding to authenticity.

The audience consisted mostly of older adults, but there were a few students there, perhaps to receive extra credit. The crowd was much pleased by the performance. Kudos to Robert Yenkowski for organizing the event. Attendance was free. In that sense perhaps the concert goers were rewarded for having a good taste in music.

Two of The Baltimore Consort's CDs, The Best of the Baltimore Consort and Adio España, are now available for borrowing at the King's College Moreau Library.

Op-Ed: Obama, the New Pope

Obama has made the cover of America, a largely Jesuit magazine. He looks like a pope in the picture to the right. When Catholics first came to America en masse during the 19th century, protestants feared that the papists would have greater allegiance to Rome than to the American president. Today, this should no longer worry anyone since many Catholics--at least those in academia--revere Obama far above the pope, so much so that I believe they should just declare him the pope. Think about it, many liberal Catholics probably watch Obama's daily speeches with seriousness and reverence--yet they probably talk and joke during Mass while yearning for it to end: that is, if they attend Mass. They associate Obama's beliefs about "social justice" with Novus Ordo "Catholic" Social Doctrine.

Picture taken from Zach's Cartoons

There is a vastly overlooked pro-life Catholic community which is largely anti-Obama. Yet it's hard to imagine any such people would be common in academia. For instance, the Jesuits at Georgetown covered up their IHS for Obama's speech, and Notre Dame President Fr. Jenkins, when standing next to Obama, had a look on his face resembling that of a schoolgirl when she looks at a highschool star quaterback. But even allowing for such Obamaphillic priests, I'd say the faithful are a bit too entwined with Obama.

PS for info about Obama's Jesuit connexions see:


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nancy's Naïvité on WILK

Nancy's Failquote
Nancy Kaman and her co-host Kevin Lynn have a local talk-show on WILK newsradio which broadcasts over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area. To quote a blogger called "BornConservative" from

"Together Nancy and Kevin are responsible for 3 hours of disinformation that they call “News”.Cherry picking headlines from and other disingenuous liberal news outlets (rags)."¹

I refuse listen to N&K, not only because they're left-wingers, but because I've never heard either say anything insightful. However, the other morning I awoke to their show on my alarm clock-radio. Before I could turn it off, Nancy made an excessively naïve statement that went something like this: "The New York Times is the most unbiased source of news in the country."
I feel sorry for Nancy as she has probably never heard of, the website which covers the daily bias in the Times.
For instance, Here is just one day's worth of NYT bias exposed by Timeswatch:

Today's Headlines: 09/15/09

Glossing Over Real Issues of Nazi-Era Enthusiast Working for Anti-Israel Group
Human Rights Watch staffer Marc Garlasco, author of many reports hostile to Israel, was suspended after revelations he is an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia. The Times portrays Garlasco as a victim of the Israeli government's "aggressive approach" to critics and ignores HRW's clear anti-Israel slant.

Oppose Obama? Racist
Maureen Dowd imagines Rep. Joe Wilson shouting a derogatory word at Obama and uses her feverish imagination to slime all South Carolina Republicans as racists: "But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!"

Amazing: Times Still Almost Totally Ignores ACORN Scandals
Scandals involving child prostitution results in ACORN losing its partnership agreement with the Census Bureau and the Senate cutting off access to federal housing funds. Yet Times reporters have failed to file a single ACORN scandal story for the paper's print edition.

An examination of the NYT's far-left ideologue columnists like Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman would, to any sensible person, guarantee a certain level of bias in the paper. Most conservatives will admit that Limbaugh, Savage, Beck, etc. are biased--at least in what topics they decide to cover. However, it is sad that libs like Nancy believe that sources like the NYT are completely objective.

More on Nancy's Naivite
Nancy and Kevin regularly gang up on and ridicule any caller who disagrees with them. Furthermore, they calumniate tea party protesters as racist, violent, crazy GOPers, etc. I can understand that the station would have liberal hosts to counteract the nationally syndicated conservatives; I'm just disappointed in the juvenile banter of N&K.
Nancy further displays her political immaturity in her latest blog³ in which she states protesters at the 9/12 event in Washington DC had little coherence since their signs had diverse messages. She then presents some of the more radical sign slogans that some CNN reporter probably selected in order to misrepresent the protesters. Having actually been at the DC event, I can tell you that the signs she quotes in her blog poorly represent the whole of the signs. Furthermore, the signs I saw at the event did not contradict each other. Many of the posters condemned big government, the Fed, govt. spending, government health care, abortion, socialism, individual politicians etc., yet all were drawn in the spirit of Liberty. Moreover, I found that nearly every single sign was unique and creative. I wish I took pictures of some of them.

In her article, Nancy characterizes the DC event as a Republican thing; yet, at the event I did not see any signs glorifying Bush or the GOP. (OK, I saw one McCain-Palin sign but it was only one out of hundreds of thousands of unrelated signs.) In fact, a libertarian man had a huge sign that specifically criticized republican politicians. Nancy should stop thinking in terms of asses and elephants, as it greatly impedes her level of discourse.

To answer Nancy's criticism of the event for having too many messages, I ask: Why should the protesters have had only one cause? The diverse messages on the signs reflect the many interests of individuals from every corner of America. Perhaps this diversity in causes seems foreign to Nancy, as she and other leftists are more familiar with left-wing movements which tend to be more top-down and more centrally controlled than the tea party events. All together, Nancy is mistaken; the protesters did have one implicit message which was that they were tired of the left-wing government gaining more control of their lives and property.

Finally, Nancy states that the protesters didn't really know what they were protesting, and seems to insinuate that the protesters must therefore be racist. After all, how could anybody criticize The One or our caring government? Perhaps a basic lesson in free-market Economics or in Christian pro-life values would clarify for Nancy why people were protesting, yet.... she'll get neither from The New York Times.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Opinion: Government Before God--A Summary of Democrat Catholic Thought

I've been wishing for liberal Catholics to disprove my notion that they hold their political beliefs more dearly than their Catholic beliefs. It seems I shall continue to wish on.

I'm about 20 minutes removed from a Catholicism class session in which the instructor asked how Ted Kennedy could still be considered Catholic despite his condonement and even support of abortion--which the Catholic Church explicitly states is wrong in all instances since it is the taking of an innocent human life. A communications major piped up in response saying that it was Kennedy's duty, as senator, to serve the wants of the entire U.S. population. She then assumed that most Americans wanted abortion legalized¹ and that legalization was best for the country. Therefore, she said, Kennedy was obliged to support abortion. She also gave the impression that political and Christian thought must never influence each other, as if a person must be so schizophrenic as to leave his religious/moral convictions on the steps of government buildings before entering. She might as well have said "Purge your Catholic convictions when you enter government, or, at least those that conflict with the "greater good" (ie. Democrat party agenda).

Some Catholics, because of the influence of their hierarchical church leadership structure, seem very given to hero worship. For instance, many revere the Pope, calling him "papa," while others look up to Bishops, Saints, Mother Theresa, etc. They carry this reverence into political life as well. Par example, there is something of a shrine to J.F.K. at my own Catholic college.

The question is: Why do many Catholics lionize their political overlords above church leadership?

In most of the Novus Ordo Masses I have attended, the priest's homily goes like this: "We are gathered here to celebrate our gathering here today. We must realize that we are here to support one another......" This speech is usually followed by some insignificant anecdote and a coy joke. Most Catholic priests fail to give a message beyond such meaningless talk.² They almost seem to intentionally emasculate the gospel message--aside from completely ignoring the verses involving judgment, justice, and condemnation. Moreover, the music of many Novus Ordo Masses similarly seems intentionally banal and cheezy. Conservative Catholic William F. Buckley goes as far to say that the new Mass seems like it was drawn up by atheists to intentionally drive parishioners away. He also said the most unmusical men on the planet must have been selected to compose its "vernacularized" music.³

With regard to the banal new mass and flaccid church leaders, is it any wonder that liberal Catholics gravitate to their boisterous secular leaders whom speak with conviction rather than timidity? And, for that matter, Is it any great mystery why liberal Catholics hold their political beliefs above their spiritual beliefs?

Tendential arguments that one should shed Catholicism when one enters government will not cut it with me; being Catholic is a full time calling. Wishful irrationalizations that Obama will somehow reduce the number of abortions⁴ further reveal liberal Catholics feeble attempts to justify their politics.

Perhaps it's time for Catholics to jump off the progressive bandwagon. Maybe new political parties centered on the poor could be founded that reflect don't undermine Church teaching so much.

Meantime, many older Catholics have become relatively conservative just by not adopting new "progressive" ideology. For instance, my father, once a labor union rep., is now a staunch conservative and Rush Limbaugh fan--without having changed significantly.

But until Catholic priests in America begin preaching meaningful messages, I believe the deviation away from Christianity among Catholics will only worsen. Moreover, if Catholics are never taught the gospel message, how can they be expected to act in accordance with it?

¹She is wrong on her own grounds since before Roe v. Wade there was no grassroots upheaval for abortion "rights" outside of feminists and eugenicists in academia and several abortion doctors. It is my impression that when Roe v. Wade went to trial the general populace was largely ignorant of abortion. (They had better things to think about.) Even if she were right in her statement, her argument still reeks of the bandwagon fallacy.

²I admit this is an overgeneralization.


⁴After just three days in office, Obama removed the ban on Federally funded abortion abroad. (Now our tax dollars can be used to fund overseas abortions.)