Bad Week for Michigan

"Trump vindicated in election claim" is not something Democrats want to read in the paper.
A judge in Michigan has vindicated President Trump by ruling that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, broke state law when she unilaterally changed election rules concerning absentee balloting in the 2020 election. This ruling legitimizes a key claim made by the Trump legal team in its challenges to the 2020 election....

Michigan was not the only state where Democrat state officials unilaterally changed election laws, so this ruling certainly raises legitimate doubts whether Biden truly won the election without invalid votes.

There will be more doubts raised as these matters continue to develop, I'll warrant, until no doubt remains.  


Point to Alabama


Alabama's governor was lambasted for appealing to her citizens' personal responsibility instead of imposing mandates. Guess the worm has turned. 


 The pattern part of my mind lights up when I see work like this:

Against Gun Control

Gun control has never been a great idea, but it is a worse idea now than ever before. In the wake of a disputed election, with a self-confessed 'conspiracy' having overturned election laws illegally, that is not the time to violate the rights of the citizenry of the United States as those citizens understand their rights. 

But as always, these people either don't understand the problem they're trying to fix or are lying about their intentions. Almost all gun violence in America is committed with handguns; they want to ban so-called 'assault weapons,' mostly rifles, which are used in a tiny fraction of illegal violence. Nearly a third of these handguns are stolen by the person who used them; the others are almost all bought on the black market or obtained from 'friends and family' (e.g. fellow gang members), meaning they were stolen along the line. "Ghost guns" are not even a statistical blip, it's a hobbyist phenomenon. Gun control laws will in no way affect the black market, and absent mass seizures of legal handguns -- which isn't even proposed by the current government -- it won't affect the ability of criminals to steal guns.

So no, none of this. It's bad timing, and badly considered anyway.

The Straightaway


The only section of this road straight enough to photograph more than one curve. 

Plato's Parmenides X, The One V: The End

This will be the final post on Plato's Parmenides. (If you missed the last one, take a moment to note that Parmenides gives a formulation of Newton's First Law of Motion in it). As in the last couple of posts, I'll give the text after the jump with occasional remarks. 

What Does "Heresy" Mean Anymore?

The matter came up yesterday, although I was disinclined to raise such a divisive question on Easter Sunday.
On Easter Sunday, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) — pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the same church Martin Luther King, Jr. pastored — tweeted a message that subverted the gospel of Christianity and preached utter heresy, rejected by Christian churches for more than a millennium.

“The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether you are Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves,” Warnock tweeted.
In the year 1326, Meister Eckhart was called before the Inquisition -- the "only theologian of the first rank to be tried for heresy in the Middle Ages" -- beginning a prosecution that would outlast his life. Several of his teachings were deemed heretical, but he was not himself deemed a heretic. There is an ongoing process about rehabilitating those doctrines that you can read about at the link; but the Church has held that he, himself, needs no rehabilitation because he was never condemned. 

Eckhart avoided condemnation as a heretic through the simple defense that heresy is an act of the will, and he did not will to be a heretic. Rather, he had taught the truth to the best of his understanding; if he was wrong, he was open to correction, and would recant anything found to be in error. Pope John XXII issued a bull after Eckhart's death noting that defense and his recantation, and condemning the doctrines but not the man.

It is easy enough to say, then, that Warnock is probably a heretic by the Eckhart standard, i.e., that he has been informed of his error but continues to teach it. So, however, are all Protestant churches by the Eckhart standard, e.g. on the question of transubstantiation; and as far as I know, accusations of heresy are not regularly floated. 

Within the Protestant context, which Warnock occupies, it's not clear to me what even would be a standard for heresy. By what authority does one Protestant tell another that they are a heretic, and what is the standard for such an accusation to be justified? Who judges such a case, and by what standard? 

As with other theological questions, the contemporary age seems to have drifted away from the old answers. Sometimes this is for the good, and sometimes not, but I'm not sure how anyone besides the Church would even consider (let alone adjudicate) an accusation like this one today; and even the Church appears to have let the matter slide for the great majority of cases. 

Female Privilege

Last week a Pakistani legal immigrant, working hard for Uber and his family, was killed in the District of Columbia. He died when he was tasered by two teenage girls, which they did in order to steal his car. Neither one being old enough to drive, they unsurprisingly wrecked the car shortly thereafter; he was clinging to the door trying to save his car from being stolen. He died shortly thereafter. No one rendered any aid to him in the video of the incident. One of the girls worried, though, that she had left her phone in the wrecked car. 

Today, only about a week later, the justice system has already disposed of the case: the girls will endure no prison time, and will be entirely free of court supervision by age 21.

Under D.C. law, one of the girls was young enough that she couldn't have been tried as an adult, but the other was not. I can't imagine two teenage boys murdering someone while carjacking him, showing no remorse and rendering no aid, and it not being treated as an adult crime if possible. The speed with which this case was resolved in their favor is stunning to anyone familiar with the criminal justice system.

UPDATE: On the other hand, perhaps in the present circumstances it's unfair to send any women to prison. 

More on Excess Deaths

JAMA claims that suicide actually declined last year; deaths from overdoses etc. were up by 20,000. Reason reports; link to the JAMA study is there if you want the raw study. 

Some Thoughts on the Easter Celebration

It's always struck me as odd that Easter, as a holiday experienced by human beings, was so much less a cultural event than Christmas. It is liturgically the much more important feast, indeed the greatest feast of the year; but whereas our whole culture bends itself towards Christmas for a month every year (even in this more secular age), Easter has never been as big an event.

At Christmas we have grand feasts -- meat pies, every kind of cake and pastry, and as the song says, 'Hail to Christmas/ once a year/ when we may drink/ both ale and beer.' At Easter there is usually just a ham and some candies. At Christmas there is a huge festival of gift-giving; at Easter, children (only) get an Easter basket filled with fake grass and fake eggs, with more little candies or trinkets. At Christmas we sing Christmas Carols at Mass, and pageants involve the children merrily as shepherds or angels; at Easter, the services are interminable and children are forced to endure uncomfortable and unpleasant Easter costumes they will never wear a second time, but which they are nevertheless enjoined from playing in because they might get grass stains on the pure-white outfits. 

For a long time I thought it was just a kind of accident, or perhaps a pagan inheritance; we could have given gifts at Easter instead of Christmas, but the old pagan holiday of the Winter Solstice was the big gift-giving holiday, and that transferred. Christianity was hampered in its choice to celebrate the spring instead of the winter because the existing cultural assumptions were too hard to transform. 

I have come to realize, though, that the facts of the world inform this more than human culture. Christmas (or whatever Winter feast) comes right after the slaughter and harvest, when fresh meats and other good things are far more widely available. October was the season for the brewing of the best ale of the year, as we know from Robin Hood stories; those were readily on hand for the holiday. Also, the coming of the snows and the cold weather meant that there was less to do outside, so there was time on hand to commit to a big celebration.

This time of year we are still a long way from First Fruits. The winter stores are drained, and what remains needed to be stretched out -- summer was often the hungry time in the old days. A ham, cured last year, was the last festival item available; the alternative was to slaughter an Easter lamb, newborn just this year, to enjoy fresh meat. But that was quite a sacrifice, as you would be giving up the meat from the larger animal that would come later, as well as its wool. A poorer community, or those coming off a bad year (like last year!) could hardly afford it. 

Thus on Easter we dress in fresh clothes, eat more sparingly of lesser foods, and give smaller gifts. But it is in the Springtime that the hope of new life comes, warmth returns to the world, and green begins to spring anew. The time of year better fits the Gospel story, dramatically; and it is perhaps for this reason that the divine decision was made to orient the liturgical year to the physical one in this way.

Except that only works for the Northern hemisphere, and Jesus lived near the equator. I've never been to the Southern hemisphere. Is Easter there more like our Thanksgiving in how it is celebrated? I don't know. 

And Easter


No kids, so no Easter egg hunt, but I dyed some eggs for a centerpiece anyway, as a handful of neighbors will join us for Easter lasagna.



The Martyrs of Easter

As you celebrate today, spare a thought for your fellows in China