MLK, JR. Day 2011

Today we remember a man named Martin Luther King, Jr.  Mr. King was a great man who lived in a time when oppression against blacks, esp. in the South, was rampant.  For the black people it was a time of great trials and tribulations that tested the faith and fortitude of many.  It was a time when a certain group of human beings were being denied basic civil liberties and were being treated with something less than the equal dignity and respect that should be afforded to all who are members of the human race due to something they had no control over, their skin color.

But despite all this, a man rose up and fought, usually with words but I’m sure he wouldn’t have begrudged the use of force if it was necessary for defense of self and others, to bring to the black peoples the same civil liberties the rest of us enjoy.  He wanted for black people the same civil liberties that allow every one else to work, live, and play as they see fit.

Dr. King was a great man who knew what things like freedom and liberty were and that they were being denied to certain human beings by the various state governments of the South, which had enacted gravely evil laws for just such a purpose called Jim Crow laws.  And the Ku Klux Klan was the great and terrible police force commissioned to enforce those terrible laws.  And they hated and moved against ANYONE who had the temerity to stand up and say “ENOUGH!  All humans deserve the civil liberties our founding fathers set forth in the Constitution of the United States!”  Anyone who expressed those sentiments usually found a burning cross on their lawn.  So this means that a great majority of Catholics woke up to this situation, as despite a minority Catholic population that tried to use Catholicism’s teachings to justify racism, most Catholics were on the side of blacks.  This is why the KKK weren’t too fond of Catholics either.

Dr. King was a great man who probably even figured that people would move against him and seek his life because of his fight for freedom for the black people.  And he did eventually give his very life for the cause of freedom.  For that he is to be remembered with honor and integrity for as long as the human race shall draw breath.

Today, however, I see at various universities Black SU’s, Asian SU’s, Greek SU’s, etc.  I also see reports of whites being beat up by blacks just because they decided to date a black person.  I hear reports of whites being called derogatory terms like “cracker.”

I ask, is this what Dr. King fought and gave his blood and his very life for?  To watch from Heaven as his people use the same exclusionary tactics that the whites once used to such great effect?  Or to watch as his people push whites around the in same way they were once pushed around?

Dr. King wanted one thing: for all humans of all races to one day stand together and declare themselves equal in their humanity.  And what I have seen this day and age I firmly believe causes Dr. King’s soul great and terrible anguish as he watches while people say “Hey look at me I’m black!” or “I’m Greek!  Aren’t we so special?”  instead of “Hey, look at us, our skin color is different.  But let us not let skin color get in the way of the fact that we all share the same genome, the human genome.  And nevermore shall such pettiness divide us, we who are made in the image and likeness of God whose faces are as infinite as ours.”  I implore people of all races, do not let Dr. King’s sacrifice be in vain.  Let his work have some meaning.

Advertisements

God: The True North of our Moral Compass

In the Emmaus Men’s Spirituality Group meeting today, I was happy to gaze upon a segment of Scripture that caused me to think long and hard.  This segment is where Jesus rebukes those who did deeds in His name but committed grave sins.  Basically He rebuked them as hypocrites.  He also used the “house of sand” metaphor to illustrate the consequences of living such a two-faced life.

But it occurred to me that a compass could also serve to illustrate this concept very well, and it is a concept more readily understood by sailors, hikers, etc.  I can’t use a compass worth a darn mainly cuz I’m clueless as to how to set the bezel and all that jazz.  But my time in Boy Scouts does me well here to bring this illustration to fruition.

A compass is a tool used to give people a sense of direction by maintaining a vector lock on true North.  This is a very great tool provided one knows how to use it properly and steers clear of areas that cause the compass to lose that lock, Which is a strange but consistent occurrence in the Bermuda Triangle, one of nature’s greatest unsolved mysteries.  In the Bermuda Triangle you can forget about trying to get your compass to maintain any sort of vector lock on true North.

Our moral compass is the same way.  It can easily get lost in the mysterious and dangerous Bermuda Triangle of our sinfulness and the moral relativism that we use in attempt to rationalize it.  As with a regular compass, our moral compass can only regain a vector lock on true North (God), when it leaves the Bermuda Triangle.  This is why we must endeavor to keep our moral compass locked firmly on God, our true North, and resist the temptation to navigate the Bermuda Triangle of sinfulness and debauchery because that is the only way we can have a clear moral direction for ourselves.

This is just me though.  I don’t know about the rest of you.  But I will continue to pray to God daily for the strength to keep this vector lock straight and true.

The Eucharist: Source and Summit of Catholic Christian Faith

This blog post today is about something that brings us Catholics great joy.  It also a source of confusion for my Protestant brethren.  I love them dearly.  They have a zeal for revealing Christ to those who need it that I only wish some of my Catholic Christian brethren had.  But I can’t see how they could be so blind to this concept, which Scripture shows quite clearly.  I can’t give book, chapter, and verse like my Catholic and Protestant brethren can since I don’t have it that well memorized.  But I do know what Jesus has said and not said in Scripture.

First, Jesus said to the people: “Unless you eat of the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His Blood, you shall not have life within you.”  And the people knew what he was asking, although most thought he was preaching that the way to eternal life was cannibalism and so a lot of people, not wishing to cannibalize  Jesus, left.  Probably with thoughts along the lines of “I’m not roasting this guy’s flesh and drinking his blood like some kind of vampire!  No way!  This Jesus dude is ’round the twist if he thinks that doing so with his is the way to eternal life!”  But they left before they Heard Jesus clarify Himself.  So for those that stayed to listen to him continue, not having jumped to any conclusions, He said: “My Flesh is true Food, and My Blood true Drink.”

And then at the last supper Jesus Himself instituted what true food is to serve as the flesh of His Precious Body and which true drink is to serve as His Precious Blood: unleavened bread and wine respectively.  In the book of Matthew, chapter 26, Christ broke the bread and gave it to His disciples and said: “Take this, all of you, and eat, for this is my body….”

And then He took the cup, and gave it to His disciples saying: “Drink from this, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, which is to be poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins.

He then instituted this to be a sacrament celebrated for all time by saying “Do this in remembrance of me.”

But the passage that I think gives greatest witness to the real presence of Christ Himself in the Eucharist is in St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:27,29):

“Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the Body and Blood of the Lord…..for anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”

Wow.  I ask, does mere bread and wine alone have that power, the power to hold people accountable to the Lord’s Body and Blood?  No.  But bread and wine being used by Christ to make Himself physically apparent to the faithful does.  After the words of consecration according to sacred Scripture itself, the bread and wine ceases to be merely bread and wine and becomes Christ Himself, present in body and blood, soul and divinity, appearing to us in the form of bread and wine.  This is why we as Catholics cannot just dump what is leftover from Mass down the regular drain which goes to the local waste water treatment facility.  Because this is Christ we’re dealing with now.  Christ’s flesh is now in every particle of that bread and His Blood in every drop of that wine.  We cannot in good conscience dispose of Him as waste.  We first rinse out the sacred vessels into a Sacrarium, which is a sink but one that drains into the ground.  THEN we wash the vessels in a regular sink with soap and water.  And, from the very words of Scripture itself, this is why it’s a grave sin to do things like defecate on a consecrated host.  I could defecate on all the unconsecrated hosts I darn well please.  No sin would be committed though the supply of hosts to be used for Masses would be in jeopardy.  But if I were to defecate on a consecrated host, that’s a grave sin.  I just defecated on Christ Himself.  That, my friends, is a whole different ball game.  To do so knowingly incurs the penalty of excommunication automatically.

The passages of Scripture itself only serve to reinforce my faith that when I gaze upon the Blessed Sacrament in adoration, that I gaze in awe and wonder at the power of God who loves us so much that not only did He die for us, but he gave us a gift that lives on, the gift of His Body and Blood under the appearance of bread and wine.  Such awesome power that were He to reveal His full power to us mere mortals, our physical senses would be completely and totally unprepared for processing it.  Say what you will about faith.  Call it a fairy tale if you must.  I daresay I’ve been called worse for my beliefs.  But there is one thing that faith gives us that reason on its own power cannot: the power to live not as we wish but as we ought and the power to use our gift of reason in wise and ethical ways.  I’ve seen the incredible and miraculous changes that human beings have undergone when they gaze upon that sense perceptible sign of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God for such belief to be purely the signs of mere myth.  Incredible.

 

The Future of Energy Production?

You’ve seen me cover a potential solution for an alternative fuel in the form of algae, perhaps one of our most plentiful natural resources.  Now I’m going to cover alternatives in the area of power production.

Electrical power is necessary.  It powers a great many of our appliances.  There’s only one problem: right now our power is produced by power plants that throw out a bunch of pollutants into our atmosphere.  Could there be an economically viable free-market solution to cheap energy that is environmentally friendly?  Let’s explore some of these options.

By far the option for which I hold a great deal of skepticism is one I came across on the internet.  It involves building a device capable of harnessing supposedly free electrical energy.  It involves the theories of Nikola Tesla, an undisputed genius in the field of harnessing electrical energy.  The world of AC power was built using many of Tesla’s patents.  The theory is that there is a great wealth of electrical energy trapped in the ionosphere and the proposed device would harness it.  More information on this device can be found here:

http://www.teslasecret.com

Some of the less far-fetched ideas include such things as solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower.  Solar and wind power pose 2 problems.  The primary problem is that both methods of power generation rely on a near constant supply of favorable weather conditions, a rather large statistical impossibility.  The second problem is that wind turbines and solar panels cost a mint to manufacture and install.  If anybody who reads this blog knows of less costly ways that solar and wind power can be harnessed, please be my guest and by all means leave a comment or perhaps a link to your blog where you may have addressed it.

Geothermal power generation also poses certain dangers that give me serious doubts as to whether or not the benefit outweighs the risk.  One wrong move tapping into a geothermal vent and you could have an environmental disaster on your hands rivaling Chernobyl.

Hydropower is by far our most viable option at the moment I think.  Hydropower involves using the force of moving water to rotate a large turbine.  the rotation of the turbine produces mechanical energy that can then be converted into electrical power.

But perhaps another method can be devised that would be on par with hydropower.  Because hydropower has one drawback.  In desert areas that are nowhere near any bodies of water, those areas would not be able to make use of any of it.  This method carries the misnomer of “perpetual motion machine,”  a thought that is the fanciful product of pseudoscience.  But i think it might be possible to have a turbine similar to the kind used in hydropower plants.  But instead of the force of moving water being applied to the turbine, the turbine is instead made to rotate by the application of magnetic force.  Magneto-power anyone?

So what do you think?  Is there anything to that Tesla device or should we stick with what we know works?  Or could magnetopower be the wave of the future, especially for dry areas that don’t have enough water to make use of hydropower?  Although it would be the height of irony if the answer to our energy crisis did originate with a man who lived over 100 years ago.

Algae: Our Possible Future As An Alternative Fuel Source? You Decide!

In a previous blog I wrote about how us conservatives always seem to get a bad rep in, besides issues regarding the needy (which I’ve addressed in numerous other blogs), that we also have  a bad rep on issues regarding “going green.”

It’s not that I wouldn’t like to see us move to more environmentally friendly sources of fuel and energy, it’s that the ideas liberals have proposed thus far for doing so oftentimes involve much more government control over our private lives than the Founding Fathers intended.  This in turn creates an environment where “going green” costs lots of….well….green (pardon the pun).  I mean, have you seen the price of organic items?  To shop organic you’d have to be part of the “rich and famous” crowd.  For example an alternative to artificial sweeteners like splenda is in the organic section of Wegman’s called xylitol, a sugar alcohol that, unlike sugar, metabolizes independently of insulin, causing very little, if any rise in blood glucose levels.  A lot of sugar-free chocolates use a sugar alcohol like xylitol as the sweetener.  They also have  a rather unfortunate side-effect when consumed in excess quantities.  Let’s just say that if you plan to consume a sugar alcohol in excess quantities you’d better have plenty of Immodium handy.  Anyhow, the bags of xylitol in the organic food section at Wegman’s were $8 – $9 apiece.  Yikes!  I think I’ll stick with Splenda thank you very much.  Or at the very least Truvia, an all natural sweetener that is a blend of stevia and erythritol, another sugar alcohol commonly found in grapes.

Anyhow, back to alternative fuel.

One example of a liberal idea that would not be viable is that they’ve bandied about the idea of using corn and other land-based crops as an ethanol source.  This is problematic because a lot of these crops are also used as food sources.  And there’s already a high enough demand on crop farmers such as corn farmers to produce enough to be used as food.  To add on demand for use of corn as an ethanol source would quickly become more than most corn farmers could produce.  Another problem arises when you consider the amount of time it takes to grow most land-based crops.  So not only would total aggregate demand outpace supply in this area, but producing the supply of corn itself (and other land crops) is a very time-intensive process.

Another problematic idea was the idea to use water as fuel for cars.  I think everybody knows that water would be of no use in a combustion engine, as water does not burn.  About the only way it could be used is to redesign a car engine to work not as a combustion engine but as an engine that would break apart the water molecules and use the hydrogen as fuel and expel the oxygen out the exhaust pipe.  And that’s problematic because the Engine would already have to have a certain amount of energy available to it to initialize that process, as any student of chemistry knows that it requires an investment of energy to break a molecular bond.

But what most people have overlooked is the possibility of using algae as an alternative fuel source, one that has the potential to compete with crude oil.  For one thing there’s currently not a very high demand for using algae as a source of food.  About the only people that use it for food are those of Asian decent, otherwise there tends to be very little demand for algae as a food product.  I once tried a seaweed cracker and found that the taste left something to be desired.  So you could grow crops of algae and use nearly the whole crop for the purposes of fuel production.

Algae can produce a lot of oil.  Many estimates put algae as having a good 60% of its weight in oil and potential oil yields of roughly 26,000 gallons per hectare of algae, give or take a few hundred.  That sounds like a pretty decent yield to me.  Thus many estimates that I’ve come across state that we wouldn’t need much more than 15,000 square miles total in algae crops to fulfill our needs in the area of oil production.

Algae is also nature’s multi-purpose tool.  The leftover plant matter from extracting the oil could be used to make organic animal feed, which would in turn free up some more of the corn supply since right now corn is the popular thing to use to make animal feed.  It could also be used to make those biomass charcoal briquette substitutes that I see all the time at Wegman’s in their organic section.  The leftovers could also be fermented to produce an alcohol that could be used as a fuel, like ethanol.  Though I think fermenting it into propanol or butanol would make better sense because ethanol is also used as a drinking alcohol.  So if you used ethanol as a fuel source you’d probably see people at the fuel pump station fueling themselves up rather than the car, unless you were to add some sort of toxin to the supply of ethanol to be used for fuel that would render it not for human consumption.  Making the leftovers into propanol or butanol would make better sense because those aren’t drinking alcohols and so no toxin would be needed.  Those alcohols are toxic enough on their own for human consumption.  Crude oil is also used as a source of large hydrocarbons that get sent to a hydrocarbon cracking station to make propene molecules, which are then hydrolized to make isopropyl alcohol, a popular first aid item.  Algae could be easily substituted here as the oil source.

Algae also has another advantage.  Unlike most land-based crops, algae grows much more rapidly.  I imagine you could have a crop of algae ready for use in much less time than a crop of corn.  Also, you could have 2 different types of algae crops going: one with high lipid content for use in oil production and another with high carbohydrate content which could be fermented into whichever alcohol you think could be better used as a fuel.  Or you could have a third crop to ferment into ethanol and sell it as moonshine….LOL!

So, could algae be our best bet as an economically viable and environmentally friendly source of fuel for our automobiles?  You decide!  As always my comment board is open.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas my faithful (and few….:-P) readers!

*looks to PC advisor and whispers*….Did I offend anybody with that?  Oh?  Just all the free-speech hating liberals?  Ok….cool.

This Christmas season, let us remember our greatest and most powerful gift as members of the human race.  We are capable of a life-giving love so pure, so chaste, that we would give of our very lives for our fellow man.

So many people use this time of year to ramp up the demonization of those who have wealth.  These people forget that the pursuit of producing wealth is not wrong on its own power.  It is our intentions for doing so that can be called into question.  There are some who pursue wealth because they love money more than their fellow man, leading to the other extreme of poor people getting so jealous of what others have that they would be willing to break 2 of the 10 Commandments (Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods & Thou Shalt not steal) to get it.

On the whole though a lot of poor people I think are much richer.  Because the Scrooges of the world, like the man at the beginning of the movie, have wealth.  But those people are poor because they are lacking in love.  Despite all they have they are miserable because of that deficiency.  On the other hand I’ve met successful people who have plenty of compassion for those in need and some poor people who are so lacking in love that instead of working to obtain their “fair share” of the American Dream like the rest of us they covet what they don’t have.

Because, in the end, it matters not how much money you have.  What matters more is that you keep love, which comprises the entire essence of the Christmas spirit, alive in your hearts all year round.  Christmas isn’t the only time of year we need to remember our capacity for love.  Christmas is something that we would all do well to keep all the time and never lose sight of.  It’s the time of year when we were given the greatest gift of all: the gift of God Himself, incarnate in human flesh, to be given for us in bloody recompense for our human failings.  And we, who are made in His image and likeness, can do no less than to love one another as He loves us.

O Lord, dear sweet Father in Heaven, I pray that by Your grace we may have the strength of spirit to keep the Christmas gift alive in our hearts all year round by remembering those in need not just during this season but all the time.  Amen.

Keynesian Economics: Say what?

John Maynard Keynes deserves an award.  His theories regarding economics are perhaps the most convoluted and the most lacking in common sense that I have ever seen.  Ironically enough it’s his economic theories that are being taught in class today.  Oh joy, another generation of people on credit cards.

You see, Mr. Keynes’s economic theories state that deficit spending on the part of government actually helps the economy by somehow increasing aggregate demand and consumption, which somehow leads to increased production.  Say what now?  The government prints more money and borrows more money to finance it.  Problem solved, right?  Wrong!  You see there’s one slight problem.  Borrowed money must be PAID BACK.  Where do you think the money is gonna come from when the countries our government borrows from to finance deficit spending get tired of stringing us along and begin to call our debts?  That’s right, the US taxpayer.  Taxes will increase dramatically in order to pay back all these foreign loans, leading to a dramatic increase in the cost of goods and services.  Leaving us with LESS money in our pockets to spend.  Guess what that would lead to?  That’s right, LESS consumption?  Care to take a guess at what LESS consumption does?  That’s right.  It leads to a DECREASE in aggregate demand for good and services.  And finally LESS demand for goods and services leads to LESS production, which then leads to an economic DOWNTURN, not an economic upswing as Keynes theorizes.

Keynes has epically FAILED to learn from history.  There is an economic theory as old as time itself that people have subscribed to in flourishing societies: You cannot spend money you do not have.  Or, to put it bluntly: Ya can’t spend what ya ain’t got!  Or if you do have to borrow, make darn sure you earn enough to pay it back!  I’d say that economic FACT is more sensible than one that says “can’t pay it back?  borrow more!”

And these are the theories widely accepted and taught in our economics classes today over economics based on working with an actual budget?  Pathetic!