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The Hero of the Notre Dame Cathedral Fire

 

The chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade, Father Jean-Marc Fournier, is being lauded as a hero after rushing into the burning cathedral and rescuing Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and the relic of the Crown of Thorns.

According to this article, Fr. Fournier was ordained an FSSP priest (Priestly Society of St. Peter, a traditionalist order) but was detached from the FSSP temporarily in 2006 into the diocese of the French Armed Forces. He served in Afghanistan where he survived an ambush attack that killed 10 of his brother soldiers. Fr. Fournier was also present at the November 13, 2015, Bataclan concert hall terrorist attack where he rushed in to comfort the wounded and pray for the dead.

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Virtues Laid Stone-by-Stone

 

The media flows with genuine tears over the catastrophic fire at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral. Historians would be quick to point out that such awful fires have occurred with dismaying regularity across the centuries. The difference here was the possibility of limiting the damage through modern firefighting equipment, plus the fact that technology allowed the entire world to learn about the tragedy within minutes.

Since Monday’s blaze, commentators across the world are the hailing this remarkable 850-year-old cathedral as a “Treasure of our Western Culture” or “A Landmark of our Western Civilization.” All true, of course. All true.

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Why I Left Facebook

 

Four years ago a cartoon contest was held in Garland, Texas. Organizers encouraged contestants to draw political cartoons in response to a terrorist attack by Islamic supremacists on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a Parisian newspaper, in January of 2015, in which a dozen people, including the newspaper’s publishing director Stéphane Charbonnier, were murdered.

This is the winning cartoon, drawn by a fellow named Bosch Fawstin.

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A Grim Reminder: Military Training Death, 17 April 2019 [Updated]

 

A West Virginia National Guard soldier fell to his death in a parachute accident during a military training exercise in Virginia.

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When a Cathedral Burns

 

From 1992 to 2012 I was fortunate enough to live on the heights of the Mont-Ste-Geneviève in Paris, not quite in the shadow of Notre Dame, but close enough for me to feel a sense of personal loss as the cathedral burned last Monday. With one eye on the TV coverage, I also watched the reactions unfold on Twitter.

My Twitter feed consists of French, British and US sources, and it soon became apparent, once it was realized that the cathedral might burn to the ground, how momentous this event was for my French correspondents. The words “heart”, “soul” and “civilization” began to recur in tweets. The French had realized that this fire was destroying not only a tourist destination nor the mother-church of French Catholicism, but something more, something intangible….

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Epic Fail: Comey, Mueller, Strzok, McCabe – Not A Few Good Men

 

A Few Good Men was an epic classic movie. Released in 1992, this dramatic story of a military court-martial legal proceeding was directed by Rob Reiner and starred Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. In the end, the good guy, Navy Lawyer Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) defeats the bad guy, Guantanamo Base Commander Marine Colonel Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson). And in the story plot, it was Colonel Jessup who incriminated himself because in the words of Lt. Kaffee, I will “lead him right where he’s dying to go”. Oh, and one more thing, Colonel Jessup was actually guilty of the crime.

So … Columbo … why are you bringing up a 1992 movie in 2019, right?

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Vatican Proposes New Design for Notre Dame Cathedral

 

(April 17, 2019, Rome)

The Holy See has unveiled a more contemporary and relevant design for the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris that was recently gutted by fire. Without waiting for the final analysis on the stability and integrity of the structure, His Holiness, Pope Francis has expressed that this would be the perfect time to simply replace the tired, old gothic cathedral emblematic of a dark and superstitious age of fear and oppression to a much more relevant and welcoming edifice that is reflective of today’s Catholic Church and its ongoing mission of inclusiveness and diversity. The Vatican will work closely with a diverse group of architects, designers, and craftspeople of every race, ethnic and gender preference, the French government, and other wealthy benefactors and celebrities to make sure that funds donated for the restoration of Notre Dame are well spent.

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Martin Luther, Ben Franklin, & College Tuition

 

My grandfather grew up at Auburn. Because his father taught engineering there, he could attend Auburn for $15 per semester. If he joined ROTC, it was $7.50 per semester, which sounded like a good deal, until World War II broke out, and he woke up one morning in the South Pacific. Good colleges now cost around $75,000 per year – 5,000 times more than what my grandfather paid. I know what you’re thinking: Martin Luther would be very critical of the inflation rate of modern college tuition fees. Obviously.

Martin Luther rebelled against the Catholic Church for much the same reason as our founding fathers rebelled against England. Martin Luther viewed himself as a true Catholic, just as our founding fathers viewed themselves as true Englishmen. Luther didn’t think that he required a vicar to act as a conduit between himself and his God (vicar is the root for vicariously). The paying of indulgences particularly offended him – why should he have to pay money to men to be admitted to the kingdom of God?

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Orthodox Abbot Attacked in Anti-Trump Incident

 

Abbot Tryphon, a monk leading the All-Merciful Saviour Orthodox Monastery on Vashon Island, WA, was assaulted at at a gas station Tuesday. The abbot is a popular speaker, writer, and hosts the podcast “The Morning Offering.”

In a Wednesday interview with his podcasting network, Abbot Tryphon said that he was targeted by a man who was apparently angry about Donald Trump. The abbot is not politically affiliated, a fact he regularly mentions in his writing and podcasts.

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On ‘Saint’ Nipsey Hussle, an Alternative View

 

My most recent contribution over at PJ Media concerns what I believe to be the inordinate adulation shown to slain rapper Nipsey Hussle. Hussle, whose true name was Ermias Asghedom, was shot to death on March 31 outside the clothing store he owned in Los Angeles. Eric Holder (no, not that one) has been arrested and charged with murder in the case.

On April 11, Hussle’s funeral was held before an audience of 21,000 in LA’s Staples Center, making him the second person so honored. (The first was Michael Jackson; make of that what you will.) After the funeral, Hussle’s hearse led a chaotic procession on a 25-mile tour of South Los Angeles, a tour which, as I noted in the piece, scarcely passed a single block that hadn’t been the scene of at least one murder in the last 20 years. LAPD brass called the event a success when only four people were shot (one fatally) and only four police cars were vandalized.

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The Fifth Sunday of Lent: Saint Mary of Egypt

 

What is repentance? Can one truly repent if one has sinned greatly? Repentance is a turning back to God, and so long as we draw breath, no matter how low we may have sunk, we can turn back. But that turning back may be arduous and painful. On the final Sunday of Great Lent, we are reminded that, so long as we choose to repent, the door is open.

On the final Sunday of Great Lent, we commemorate Saint Mary of Egypt. The account of Saint Mary comes to us through Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem (himself an interesting figure in his own right), which he transcribed as it has been verbally passed down for perhaps a hundred years at that point. Mary was from Alexandria and had lived as a prostitute for 17 years, from the age of 12. Moreover, she claimed that she lived that way as much for pleasure as for the money. Yet in a moment she changed.

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Is US Innovation Getting Stuck in a Thicket of Patents?

 

If technology is advancing crazy fast, why aren’t those advances showing up in the broader productivity and economic growth numbers? Or as economists Erik Brynjolfsson, Daniel Rock, and Chad Syverson describe this mystery in their 2017 paper “Artificial Intelligence and the Modern Productivity Paradox: A Clash of Expectations and Statistics:” “Systems using artificial intelligence match or surpass human-level performance in more and more domains, leveraging rapid advances in other technologies, and driving soaring stock prices. Yet measured productivity growth has declined by half over the past decade, and real income has stagnated since the late 1990s for a majority of Americans.”

But those researchers remain optimistic. “The breakthroughs of AI technologies already demonstrated are not yet affecting much of the economy, but they portend bigger effects as they diffuse.” And one possible role for policymakers is to remove barriers to the spread of productivity-enhancing technologies when possible. Which brings us to “What Happened to US Business Dynamism?” by Ufuk Akcigit and Sina Ates. From that paper:

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Taking Opioids to Court

 

The use of the term “crisis” in public debates is often just a crude effort to raise social awareness about an issue of limited social importance. Not so with opioids. The term “opioid” refers to a class of drugs that includes illegal substances such as heroin and FDA-approved drugs such as fentanyl, OxyContin, Vicodin, Codeine, and morphine. This broad class of drugs is today in the public eye because of the large number of deaths and injuries that result from their misuse. In 2017, over 47,000 people died from the use of these compounds, and deaths from synthetic opioids have increased 45% since 2016. In 2018, more Americans died from opioid overdoses than were killed in car crashes. Injuries short of fatality were also immense: Perhaps up to 2.4 million people have suffered from substance abuse problems related to all classes of legal and illegal opioids.

Opioid abuse follows multiple paths. In some instances, patients to whom the drugs have been properly prescribed ingest excessive quantities or continue to take them after the period of prescribed medical use has ended. In other cases, persons with no medical conditions take them for recreational purposes. In about 4 to 6 percent of cases, persons who start on legal opioids transition to heroin. Further deaths are attributable to the illicit manufacture of fentanyl, far removed from recognized distribution channels organized and overseen by either private pharmaceutical companies or the FDA.

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Did Bernie Sanders Steal His Wealth?

 

In 2016 and 2017, Bernie Sanders raked in over a million bucks. Last year, his gross income was down to $561, 293 — still not too shabby. The point is not to rib the senator about his membership in the top 1 percent, though that’s tempting. Nor is it to chide him for his relatively paltry charitable donations. His contributions to charity represented only 3.4 percent of his income, it’s true, but compared with some of his competitors in the Democratic field, that was generous. Beto O’Rourke reportedly contributed only one-third of one percent of his 2017 income ($370,412), and he may have underpaid his taxes by $4000 by taking medical deductions in excess of the permitted amount. Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand all gave less than 2 percent of their incomes away. Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg have yet to release their tax returns, and of course, President Trump is hiding behind a spectral audit (still not complete, three years on?) that in any case would present no legal obstacle to disclosure. Why he is hiding his “beautiful” tax returns is up to the imagination.

The question for Bernie Sanders is: How can you sleep at night knowing that you became rich at the expense of the middle class and the poor?

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Quotes of the Day: Kill the Individual or Communism in a Socialist Utopia

 

“Socialism is a house and clothes all set for you, a carpenter’s plane to round rough faces, to make everyone identical.” — Victims of the Khmer Rouge

Since ancient times, Khmers have taken a keen interest in moral guidance and counsel of their elders. The Khmers also prided themselves as being clever and they took great pleasure in cleverly composed discourses. The use of words and witticism, rhyming, riddles and rapidly formed punning and spoonerisms was and still is considered to be the Khmer national habit. And the Khmer Rouge made use of this deeply rooted Khmer tradition to indoctrinate, control, and terrorize the people during their reign of terror, in the form of slogans, sayings, and songs.

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Regretting Socialism, Alberta Elects a Conservative Government

 

While the left-right and conservative-liberal issues dont always line up between Canada and the United States, I think the Alberta Election campaign that ended today can be predictive of the American 2020 campaign. First off, the results:

UCP: 63 seats, 55% of the vote. (United Conservative Party, a recent merger of the Wild Rose Party and the Conservative Party)

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