Showing posts from March, 2005

Fictional Characters, take two

Note: I've been writing this post for about a week. I'm going to publish it even though I haven't thought much about which of the characters I've listed below are actually my favorite. It's been difficult, but enlightening, to remember all of these books and their associated characters. I'll be thinking and writing more about these characters.....For now, I'm really interested in Yossarian from Catch-22, because that is what I am currently reading. Yossarian made the list from The Independent, as did Catch-22 characters Milo Minderbinder and Dunbar.

I am using the recent article from The Independent as a catalyst for thinking more about fictional characters. I first posted about the article a few days ago. Not entirely to my surprise, I also found a reference and commentary about the article on Sean's blog. Furthermore, I've enjoyed reading the comments on Sean's blog and e-mail that I've received from some friends regarding the list and…

Fictional Characters

The Independent Online Edition > Enjoyment: "The 100 favourite fictional characters... as chosen by 100 literary luminaries"

I've actually been wanting to post a blog entry about the fictional characters that I've been reading about recently. Now, I find via kottke, this link which has 100 literary "experts" name their favorite fictional characters. Of course, as could be expected from an unenlightened hick like myself, I've only heard of a handful of these characters. However, it was nice to see two characters from Catch-22 (Yossarian and Milo), since that is the book I am now reading. I still plan to do my own analysis of all of the characters that I've been reading about and put together some type of post about them in the future.

Inspirational Barnett

Beyond my fascination with Barnett's political thinking and commentary is a deep appreciation of his productivity. Simply put, this is a guy who gets things done. It's interesting to read, in his own words, the description of his daily workload. I am dumbfounded at how he balances all of his tasks and still has time for his family. He obviously is grounded well in his priorities. Perhaps he is one of those individuals with a gift of intense concentration that can switch back and forth between tasks without allowing distractions to knock him off track. He is quite obviously intelligent. I know that he has a webmaster, and even his own proof-reader (Hi Sean), but he still finds the time to write, in detail, about his daily tasks. His readers are the beneficiaries of such learned industriousness.

More thoughts about JPII

Yahoo! News - Report: Pope Not Doing Well on Medication

I have posted several times on this topic because it is a matter about which I feel deep convictions:

While controversy continues to rage within and outside of the Catholic Church over the question of whether or not the Pope should resign, I personally view his suffering as an act of service, faith and love. I am, in fact, inspired by his courage to remain in his office despite his maladies. While the position of the pope is undoubtedly political, it is not primarily a political position. Catholics believe that the Pope is serving in the office of Peter, the rock of the church. His duties are administrative, but I believe moreso, spiritual. His suffering becomes all the more powerful an example during Holy Week. It's a good thing Jesus didn't succumb to those calling for his resignation during his trials when he felt abandoned even by God. The Pope's example of persaveranceand suffering are a powerful example to me to l…

Barry Goldwater meets Jerry Falwell

The debacle of Terri Schiavo's case ending up in the federal courts via federal legislation brings further to light a long emerging trend in "conservative" politics. All of the sudden, the left is on the side of "states rights" and the right is on the side of federalsim. Over time, this is how the platforms and positions of political parties change entirely.

The problem with political parties is that they become entities to which people become blindly devoted,--as if their party can never be wrong. Many folks are willing to sacrifice their own ideals before attacking the sanctity of their party. However, political parties are merely organizations of people, and let's not forget that people (yes, all people) are flawed. While parties may be the best system yet developed to give voice to those that would otherwise be marginalized, they also become magnets and cesspools of corruption.

I remember reading about how vehemently John Adams and George Washington op…

Sick literature

I enjoy most of Matthew Baldwin's writing, but his post about his recent bout with the flu had me laughing out loud. It reminded me of my own malady a few weeks back and of how much better a writer Mr. Baldwin is than myself.

Weighing in on Terri Schiavo

Since this poor woman's struggle has become a lightning rod of commentary, criticism and analysis for people across the political spectrum, I've decided against my prior commitment to remain silent on the issue. I've been writing this post over a period of about two weeks, trying to clarify my thoughts on the situation. Ms. Schiavo has now passed away. The debate, which has transcended her, lives on.

Although I may not wholly agree with their position, I can understand and sympathize with those who believe, as a matter of principle, that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube should remain in place. I am bothered by the fact that she left no explicit written instructions in the form of a "living will." What disgusts me is the blatant use of this woman and her family for political gain. In their vulnerability, both sides of the family are willing to allow lawyers and politicians to take up their cause. No family member in this sad episode can hardly be blamed for their p…

Say it aint so, Mac

There have been plenty of critics regarding the congressional hearings into baseball's steroid scandal as unnecessary. Be that as it may, I was intrigued by some of the testimony that I heard today as I worked out (steroid free!) on the rowing machine at my gym.

First of all, I don't know Jose Canseco. I remember detesting him in the late 1980s because the A's were so damn good. The guy doesn't have many fans in this world right now, and that may be deserved. Most people agree that his book and allegations are motivated by a greed of money (as if the majority of baseball players and owners don't somehow share this greed!) Maybe some of the allegations in his book are untrue. How am I supposed to judge; based on his past actions? I don't know him well enough. However, it seems to me that in this whole debacle, Canseco is one of the few people, along with Jeremy Giambi, that are being remotely honest, at least about themselves.

Mark McGwire today strongly rejected …

Paul Wolfowitz?

Update on 3/18: I was surprised to learn of Barnett's endorsement of Wolfowitz. Clearly, he knows and understands such matters infinately better than myself. He knows Wolfowitz's history and capabilities. I had thought that he would have been against this nomination because of its likelihood of driving away allies and increasing the gap. Clearly, my read on Barnett was wrong. I hope my read on Wolfowitz is wrong also. Despite my respect for Barnett, I still think "Wolfie" was a bad choice.

I was stunned to learn today that President Bush is appointing one of the most polarizing figures in the world to head the World Bank, presumably a post that requires extensive diplomacy skills. I confess that I don't have a deep understanding of the World Bank or the duties of its leader. So, I am unqualified to say who I think would have been a good appointment. However, I am quite certain that Mr. Wolfowitz is not the best choice. One wonders how this is going to go ov…

Catholic Priest Shortage

Lately, I've been participating in a bible study at my church, reading C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" and following the health of the Pope. These activities have led me to do some deep thinking on spiritual and religious matters.

During our bible study group meeting this past Sunday, the issue of the shortage of priests serving the Catholic Church was discussed.

That there is an issue with a shortage of priests, I do not disagree. I grew up in a small town in southeastern Iowa. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as some of his detractors would assert), my church was served by a full time priest as I was growing up. Later, when my childhood priest retired, he was replaced with a priest that also served as the local prison chaplain. My guess is that when the current priest retires, there will not be a replacement in my former small parish, and the inhabitants of my old town will have to travel the 15 or 20 miles to the nearest Catholic Church with a priest.

What is the solut…

Joy and Tears

Father Matthew cited a quote in his homily yesterday that struck me as memorable:

"When we are born, we come into the world crying while everyone else is rejoicing. We should live our lives so that when we die, everyone else is crying, but we are rejoicing."


"Social" Security

I've been following the debate over the future of social security from a slight distance. I haven't delved into the details of any of the proposals. I have the feeling that doing so would be a waste of my time, mostly because I am unlikely to understand the intricacies of some of the language, both political and economic. However, I do have a few opinions regarding the matter:

1) I am opposed to allowing workers the use of private accounts to invest the amount of social security taxes that they pay. This, in effect, eliminates the "social" security "tax" and creates a social security "investment." My view is that the social security tax that I pay out of every paycheck is not specifically or directly for ME or MY retirement, but for a social fund that benefits those most in need according to standards accepted by the majority of society. Similarly, when I pay local taxes I don't expect to have a policeman stationed at my door, but I expect to b…

SOS: Students for an Orwellian Society

SOS: Students for an Orwellian Society

The Nattering Nabob can always be counted on to make me smile with the satire she finds and posts on her website. Believe it or not, I have never read Orwell's 1984, but I do know something of the work, and of Orwell himself. I've read Animal Farm, and I've studied a little bit of Orwell. He was a satiric master! I believe 1984 is on my list of "100 Greatest Works of Fiction", but it will be awhile before I get to the "n"s.