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Frater Seraphino

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An interesting quote [Aug. 1st, 2011|03:26 pm]
Frater Seraphino
The Commentaries of AL: Chapter I
From the point of view of Initiation, the difference between a Magister Templi and a 'Black Brother' is that the Magister knows that He is the Center of the Universe for himself, but understands that the same is simultaneously true of any other human being. The 'Black Brother' knows that he is the center of the universe, but does not understand that the same is true of others. Of all others. What is more, he does not want to understand. He interprets any manifestation of autonomy as an attempt against his authority. The reader must not think that a 'Black Brother' is necessarily a 'mean' person. On the contrary, his intentions are usually of the best. He wants your happiness. But since his definition of your happiness is based on what he thinks you should be happy with, he may cause you much harm by trying to help you. A Magister, as a rule, will not try to help you at all. The Magister is selfish. He minds His own business, and no other.

Frederick Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth had a very amusing tale of a man who approached two 'Black Brethren' and challenged them. "What does he say?" the second 'Black Brother who was somewhat hard of hearing, asked the first. "He says we are not God," the first explained. At once, the second snapped: "Atheist!" The utter lack of sense of humor is a characteristic of 'Black Brotherhood'. A Magister might have said the same thing -- but with a twinkle.

Emphasis mine.
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Huh. [Oct. 13th, 2010|12:52 pm]
Frater Seraphino
I've always been fascinated by the fact that the saint day of my namesake and Uncle Al's lesser feast day are on the same day. I didn't really plan that. Heck, I didn't even know there was a Saint Seraphino in the Catholic faith, or that he was endowed with the gift of reading the secrets of hearts, and with that of miracles and prophecy. I just thought it was an interesting nom de plume.
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Wither Facebook [Apr. 21st, 2010|08:01 am]
Frater Seraphino
If you want to follow my stuff, I'm now on Facebook.


Because it's easier to post short notes associated with the various web sites I encounter. My wall and notes wall are both open, and if you like reading what I have to say, friend me.
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When stupid writers write legal TV shows. [Jan. 4th, 2010|08:23 pm]
Frater Seraphino
Watched an old episode of Law and Order which played out a favorite liberal fantasy of prosecuting a Bush Administration lawyer for providing the "legal framework" of our policies on the treatment of unlawful combatants.

One of the hypothetical questions that was asked during the trial was "you mean it would be legal to crush the testicles of the child of an unlawful combatant in order to extract information from him?"

The question, which of course, went unanswered--and somehow was supposed to show how immoral the slimy Bush Administration lawyer was.

The answer to the question, by the way, was an empathetic "No." It is illegal--by the standards of the Geneva Conventions (as understood and signed by the United States) to use the family members of an unlawful combatant during a time of war in order to coerce information out of that unlawful combatant.

According to the Conventions (and anyone who uses the singular is an idiot who doesn't know what he's talking about), specifically, the Fourth Convention on the treatment on civilian populations under control of a foreign power, defines several classes of protected persons. One such category are non-combatant civilians, who are to be treated with the utmost of respect. It is also the responsibility of the occupying power to provide (so much as possible) a civilian police force in order to make sure that reasonable laws (it's unclear if it is the laws of the country being occupied or the laws of the occupying country) are enforced amongst the civilian population.

What makes the Fourth Convention rather interesting is that many of the common tactics used by our police in interrogating prisoners could be considered a violation of Article 32 of the Fourth Convention, if those same tactics were used by our military in investigating a crime in Iraq.

And, in short, the child of an unlawful combatant who is not an unlawful combatant himself is a "protected person", and thus to be afforded all the rights of respectful treatment by an occupying power. Crushing his testicles falls far outside of the sort of respectful treatment demanded by the Fourth Convention--a treaty signed by the United States and as such is the law of the land.

As an aside, and the reason why I get irritated when stupid writers (often, liberal--though sometimes conservative writers manage to slip behind the Hollywood sign and get jobs as writers before they're purged from the system) start writing crap legal theories in order to support their political bias, is that they just make shit up without really thinking it through. There is a legitimate argument for allowing unlawful combatants to be tortured or summarily executed on the spot when found on the battlefield by an occupying power. The argument, outlined in the Fourth Convention, is that an unlawful combatant is someone who pretends to be a member of the protected class (a civilian, say) who then goes out and tries to kill an occupying power makes it significantly harder for that occupying power to differentiate between legitimate civilians and illegal soldiers trying to hide amongst the civilian population.

And, in the experience of those who drafted the Fourth Convention, when it is impossible to separate those who are out to kill your soldiers from the rest of the civilians in an occupied country, many less civil armies simply resort to killing the entire civilian population instead.

The drafters of the Fourth Convention, in other words, recognized the reality that unlawful combatants would either need to be treated as harshly as possible--not even getting the benefits afforded by the First or Third conventions to lawful combatants--or else occupying powers may find it expedient to simply execute entire villages (as they have in the past) in order to root out a handful of guerilla fighters.

Naturally, in today's western world where we can pretend that starvation and disease have forever been banished from the surface of the earth (and are not just three days away if our civilian infrastructure ever broke down), and where death is not an inevitable end but actually the fault of HMOs and the Health Care system, we cannot conceive of a world where we should ever treat an unlawful combatant with less than the highest respect once captured in the field. We have forgotten the two facts of reality: that reality is a bitch, and often we have to do very harsh and distasteful things in order to keep our world a civilized place. And thus, we increase the price we pay--prolonging a war, for example, that in earlier times would have ended rather quickly on rather brutal terms--because we believe the increased cost in money, time, and blood is somehow worth paying to assuage our ethical qualms.

I dunno. It could be that the price we pay is worth it. But I don't know if people realize this is the tradeoff we are making.

It is clear, however, that most TV show writers (and members of the chattering class) haven't a clue as to the intent of the writers of the Geneva Conventions (dictators and kings from more than a half century ago)--believing that somehow there is a perfect theoretical (progressive) standard of humane treatment established by dictators and sovereign kings that the Bush Administration trampled on.
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Throwing good money after bad. [Jan. 2nd, 2010|10:49 am]
Frater Seraphino
U.S. Loan Effort Is Seen as Adding to Housing Woes
The Obama administration’s $75 billion program to protect homeowners from foreclosure has been widely pronounced a disappointment, and some economists and real estate experts now contend it has done more harm than good.

Since President Obama announced the program in February, it has lowered mortgage payments on a trial basis for hundreds of thousands of people but has largely failed to provide permanent relief. Critics increasingly argue that the program, Making Home Affordable, has raised false hopes among people who simply cannot afford their homes.

As a result, desperate homeowners have sent payments to banks in often-futile efforts to keep their homes, which some see as wasting dollars they could have saved in preparation for moving to cheaper rental residences. Some borrowers have seen their credit tarnished while falsely assuming that loan modifications involved no negative reports to credit agencies.
Here's the fundamental problem with all of these programs: unless you can make them permanent (for example, unless you can permanently lower the cost of the mortgages), all you do is kick the problem down the road. And in the process those people who were having problems making their payments are triple-screwed: their credit gets ruined, they've eaten through savings (if they were having problems because of unemployment or underemployment) that could have been used to move, and the government is out of money that could have been used more efficiently elsewhere.

And that's the problem with all of these programs--no-one seems to understand the lost opportunity costs of doing something else. So the money gets wasted, does more damage than good, and we (and our children) will be paying off the money we borrowed that could have gone somewhere else.
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Ouch!!! [Dec. 31st, 2009|09:07 am]
Frater Seraphino
"I hope he dies."
ADDED: Much re-tweeted at Twitter: "The people calling for Rush Limbaugh to die are the same people who ask to control your healthcare."

AND: Rush Limbaugh has said on his show many times that once the government runs health care, there is a threat that life-or-death decisions will be made based on politics, and people will worry that if they criticize the government or espouse the wrong opinions decisions will go against them.
Of course doctors are not political when it comes to saving a life. However, it is worrisome given statements by those who want to reform health care who wish to consider an individual's "social worth" when making end-of-life decisions, that an elderly Rush Limbaugh would be permitted to die rather than given top-notch health care because his "societal worth" is considered negative by those on the government's health care review panel.
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And now the cat's out of the bag. [Dec. 21st, 2009|10:44 pm]
Frater Seraphino
We Can Do It
A deal must include an equitable global governance structure. All countries must have a voice in how resources are deployed and managed. That is how trust will be built.
This from Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations.

And thus, the cat is out of the bag. "Global Warming" is merely a pretext for a global world government.

Let's be clear on a couple of things. First, I'd be all for a world government if we could elect our officials, and whatever world government would make the same guarantee about participating nations as the United States Constitution makes in Article IV, Section 4, first clause: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government,..."

Because the United Nations does neither, this little treaty organization is ill-equipped and not qualified to be a world government.

Second, partially because there are no checks and balance created by citizenry participation in a United Nations-run world government, instead "global warming" is being used to advance individual national agendas which have not a damned thing to do with reducing carbon emissions. I'm sure Obama got an earful of it by various dictators seeking to guarantee their dictatorial rule, by European leaders seeking to take the United States economy down a notch or two (so they can continue to run their large, inefficient socialist programs without overseas competition, and by Chinese and Indian governments who are seeking to create an economic advantage by having their own economies exempted from regulatory frameworks which make manufacturing more expensive--and thus make their own local manufacturing relatively cheaper.

In other words, Global Warming is being used as an excuse for representatives to rearrange the world order to their own liking.

President Obama's fly-by-night speech at Copenhagen was rather fascinating, as was the Copenhagen agreement that no-one liked: it was an attempt by a handful of countries who knew they were getting screwed to turn the tables. Ultimately, however, it doesn't matter if Global Warming were a complete hoax or a global disaster that is less than a decade away from reaching a catastrophic tipping point: the politics of Global Warming doesn't have jack shit to do with reducing CO2, but with imposing the anti-economic agendas of a whole bunch of leftists and imposing a world order that is ultimately more insidious than any science fiction dystopia.
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Oral Roberts, RIP. [Dec. 15th, 2009|06:52 pm]
Frater Seraphino
Oral Roberts, Pentecostal Evangelist, Dies at 91
Oral Roberts, the Pentecostal evangelist whose televised faith-healing ministry attracted millions of followers worldwide and made him one of the most recognizable and controversial religious leaders of the 20th century, died Tuesday in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 91.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, said Melany Ethridge, a spokeswoman for Mr. Roberts. He died at a hospital in Newport Beach, where he lived.

At the height of his influence, Mr. Roberts sat at the head of a religious, educational and communications enterprise based in Tulsa, Okla., that managed a university that bears his name, mounted healing “crusades” on five continents, preached on prime-time national television and published dozens of books and magazines.

He was the patriarch of the “prosperity gospel,” a theology that promotes the idea that Christians who pray and donate with sufficient fervency will be rewarded with health, wealth and happiness. Mr. Roberts trained and mentored several generations of younger prosperity gospel preachers who now have television and multimedia empires of their own.

Like him or disagree with him, but he made a major impact on our culture through the 80's and 90's.
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Facebook. [Dec. 12th, 2009|01:47 pm]
Frater Seraphino
Now that I can block my friends list from prying eyes--not even friends can see who my friends are, so I can (for example) keep the boss from finding all my OTO friends and visa-versa--I think Facebook is fairly cool. At least it's interesting.

From what I can see it's an application framework sitting on top of a social network. Which means you kinda have to drill down into the application privacy settings to sort out some stuff.

And it's well integrated into the iLife suite: it means it's dirt simple from iPhoto to upload some pictures.

(To hide your friends you have to go to your profile page, and click on the little "pencil" icon next to the friends column. Then uncheck "Show my friends on my profile." This will cause your friends list to not show any pictures when you're logged in, and when someone else browses to your profile, they won't see your friends at all. They may see "friends of friends" suggestions, but I find that somewhat benign. What I don't want is the wholesale "here's my 500 friends--look at the handful of suits next to all those weirdos" from the director of development.)
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Trying again. [Dec. 11th, 2009|11:57 pm]
Frater Seraphino
Giving this Facebook thing another go. The trick, I think, is being able to restrict my friends list so employers can't find casual friends can't find OTO members can't find family.
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