Saturday, June 18, 2005

There is supposed to be an audiopost recorded at about this time posted to Rerum Novarum. As delays of this sort happen on occasion with the audio feature, I will backpost the audio once it posts to reflect with the greatest of accuracy the sequential order of what is posted at Rerum Novarum.


Today is my mother's birthday so any prayers you can offer on her behalf would be greatly appreciated.


Friday, June 17, 2005

I was made aware of a couple of threads which were posted after I posted the most recent Miscellaneous Threads installment at this humble weblog. As the subjects of those additional links pertain in some respect to what was posted yesterday afternoon, I have added an addendum to that post and included those threads there. The new threads cover such subjects as apologetics in general and the so-called "preferential option for the poor." I would highly recommend that those threads be read in conjunction with the other threads in that post which touch on economics subjects to receive a more complete understanding of the manifold vissitudes that go into those complex subjects.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

On the Problems with Live Debate Formats As a Rule:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

Though I have written extensively on the subject of oral vs. written debates before, the subject came up in a discussion I was involved in at Envoy earlier today. This post contains the essence of my comments on that subject from earlier today. The words of the person I was responding to will be in black font.

[T]he problem with such [written debates] is that either side (or both sides) can simply ignore the others' answers and just lecture on.

It bears noting that someone in a written debate who did this could be just as easily exposed for this in responses within the format. Unlike live debates, substantive sources can be utilized in a written format to back up what someone says. And if the person uses online sources as much as possible, readers can check up on how those sources are utilized. In a live environment, this is not possible to do and someone can get away with miscitation of sources or dubious attributions of material altogether...particularly if they do not think their opponent is familiar with the material. But unlike with a live debate format, in a written format where the sides have had time to consider what their opponents say and respond accordingly, any sources the opposition uses can be looked into.

Live debates are greatly improved by the cross-examination because it requires each side to answer direct questions inside time limits with the audience acutely aware of whether the person asked gives a relevant answer.

Direct questions can also be dealt with in a written format. The advantage of the latter is that the reader can always go back and review what was said previously in the debate to see if the questions asked are actually relevant. In a live debate, this cannot be done...indeed in a format that takes hours it is impossible to remember everything that was said. This deficiency is (of course) precisely why the idea of taping or videotaping such events for later sale is utilized. I have no qualms about people who do that except to note that with a written debate, there is no $$$ made from the discourse. That is why many like to hype up the live debate over the written one: the former they can profit off of monetarily and with the latter they do not.

Over the last 10 years, fewer and fewer men have been willing to face up to such direct questioning because:

(1) It means you have to listen to your opponent's view during the debate in order to ask relevant questions

In a written debate, if they want to succeed, each side must read what their opponent says in order to respond adequately in both rebuttal format as well as in deciding upon what questions they want to ask. And as readers can check back on the earlier stuff to see if the questions asked are actually congruent with the debate subject matter, that makes it more imperative to ask relevant questions because it will be glaringly evident if you do not.

(2) It requires quick thinking and analytical skill to ask relevant questions

Analytical skills are required in any format you use. If anything it is harder to get away with shoddy reasoning in a written format than in a live setting because there are many ways you can distract people in a live setting that do not work in the written medium.

As far as "quick thinking" I would counter by noting that the live format is far more prone to Barnum and Bailey like charletenesque tactics factoring into the equation. It is a lot easier to hoodwink an audience live than it is in writing. Furthermore, if we are dealing with the truth here, it should not matter how quick on their feet a particular party is -and an example from the Bible should suffice to dispatch with the so-called "quick-thinking" criteria that you refer to.

Consider if you will St. Paul. He was not known for being "quick on his feet" -indeed he even noted that he had a particular "rudeness of speech" which could be viewed as an impediment of sorts. To run down a short litany of complaints against him, he was accused by at least a few people of having a lack of success in preaching (2 Cor. iv,3), ‘rudeness’ of speech, deficiency in rhetorical skill (2 Cor. xi,6), being an ungifted person (2 Cor. iv, 7-10), and other personal deficiencies. We do not see these things in his letters...instead, we see a profound thinker. And it is clear that whatever deficiencies Paul may have had in person, he more than made up for in the written medium. Should we therefore dispatch with St. Paul because he (apparently) wrote so much better than he spoke publicly??? I think not and the example of the Apostle Paul should suffice to dispatch with the so-called "critieria" of being quick on one's feet.{1}

Getting back to the hoodwinking element, why do you think that history's most successful despots often used rallys rather than simply circulating their ideas in written memorandums??? The reason of course should be obvious: it is much easier to pass off propaganda undetected in a live environment where you have various bells and whistles with which to distract the audience. This is a key reason why liberals fail miserably in talk radio while they can succeed in television. Likewise, those who are incapable of setting forth in writing a persuasive argument can play off the emotions of the live crowd and distract them in various ways to thereby appear to have convincing arguments. That is a key reason why I have always viewed the written debate as superior to the live one.

So in summary, with the written format, you have more or less the arguments themselves with their various merits or lack thereof. But with the live format, you have not only arguments (if they are even given) but the personalities of the debaters too and the personalities can get in the way and make it less a debate on issues and more a show of personalities.

(3) It is hard to answer questions which you didn't study for

A properly conducted debate should focus on primary subject matters and not ancillary issues. But oftentimes certain parties (whom I will not mention by name) like to debate on derivative issues rather than on primary subject matters. It is always easier to throw out questions which require a lot of exposition to unpack properly when discussing ancillary issues like the immaculate conception or the assumption (to use two Marian examples) rather than primary subject matters like the Second Eve or Theotokos (to use two more Marian examples). By contrast, primary subject matters are usually studied in greater depth and they are therefore better known.

It is akin to calculus and algebra: it is pointless to discuss calculus when the audience may not have the best grasp of basic algebra. Instead, a Catholic-Protestant theological debate{2} should focus on subjects which are akin to "theological algebra" (such as papal primacy, the real presence, sacramentalism, prayers for the dead, etc.) and avoid subject matters which are akin to "theological calculus" (such as papal infallibility, transubstantiation, indulgences, purgatory, etc.) Someone actually interested in a genuine debate on ideas and not ideological argument for its own sake should prefer debate subject matter which has the greatest likelihood of being studied in depth by all parties involved. That certain parties (who shall not be named) prefer to focus on ancillary or derivative subjects should be quite a revelation for those with eyes to see but I digress.

(4) It is embarassing to demonstrate the limits of your thesis under direct questioning

It depends on the thesis being demonstrated. More advanced subject matter is not easy to know in all its parameters. That is of course why certain parties (who shall not be named) like to focus on it. And many others who fall for debating on those issues are not likely to do well because of the complexities involved.

What requires understanding before ancillary issues can be properly debated (if they are at all) is a foundation in the primary issues which the ancillaries are logical extensions of. And someone interested in getting to the root and matrix of substantial theological issues would be wise to focus there.

In a written environment, these issues can be shown to have connexions to one another that are not readily apparent when discussing them live. That is probably why certain parties (who shall not be named) avoid written debates like the plague...that and the lack of $$$ and celebrity which the latter have of course.


{1} I actually see the live medium as being detrimental because of this focus on the spontaneous. Spontaneous argumentation is rarely as good as argumentation that is well thought out. And if we are interested in truth, we should want to see the best those we encounter can put forward.

{2} To name one particular form of debate.


Points to Ponder:
(On the Perversion of Law Via Socialist Thievery)

As long as it is admitted that the law may be diverted from its true purpose -- that it may violate property instead of protecting it -- then everyone will want to participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to use it for plunder. Political questions will always be prejudicial, dominant, and all-absorbing. There will be fighting at the door of the Legislative Palace, and the struggle within will be no less furious. To know this, it is hardly necessary to examine what transpires in the French and English legislatures; merely to understand the issue is to know the answer...

You would use the law to oppose socialism? But it is upon the law that socialism itself relies. Socialists desire to practice legal plunder, not illegal plunder. Socialists, like all other monopolists, desire to make the law their own weapon. And when once the law is on the side of socialism, how can it be used against socialism? For when plunder is abetted by the law, it does not fear your courts, your gendarmes, and your prisons. Rather, it may call upon them for help.

To prevent this, you would exclude socialism from entering into the making of laws? You would prevent socialists from entering the Legislative Palace? You shall not succeed, I predict, so long as legal plunder continues to be the main business of the legislature. It is illogical -- in fact, absurd -- to assume otherwise. [Claude Frederic Bastiat: Excerpt from The Law]

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Miscellaneous Threads Worth Reviewing:

I will comment very briefly on each one as it is listed.

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit (Greg Mockeridge)

Greg Mockeridge gives a good review of the subject of "the poor in spirit" and highlights what that expression actually means. All I will say here is that most of those who cloak themselves in that mantra have no idea what it means but give Greg's piece a read to understand this issue better.

Streams of Consciousness (SecretAgentMan)

SAM's recent fisking of Howard the Duck Dean is a pleasing read.

A Rabbinic Eulogy for the Pope (Rabbi Daniel Lapin)

Rabbi Lapin's eulogy for Pope John Paul II is well worth reading as it points to certain values that the late pontiff represented which are essential for the preservation of civilization.

The Inconvenient Conscience (George Cardinal Pell)

Cardinal Pell's recent article on conscience for First Things is excellent. I will supply here just a snippet:

[W]hile some see conscience as God’s invitation to embrace His law as free subjects, others see it as a radical call to personal freedom. Indeed, for many people today, the word “conscience” suggests not law at all, but the freedom to judge by our own personal resources and the right to act as we each think best—a rejection, in other words, of the need for morality and creed; a claim that I should be allowed to live as I choose.

The rest of the article can be read at the link above. As what the above paragraph encapsulates so much of the struggles that we we see in the arena of ideas today, it is wise to get a good grasp of the proper role conscience should play in a person's life.

Moving on from there, we have a triple slam of sorts with three links from the Libertarian Samizdata weblog:

President Mbeki's brother: only the private sector will make Africa rich (Alex Singleton)

As the title is an adequate summary of the above article, I point you to it and recommend reading it particularly if you are one of those who actually thinks that Africa can be helped by throwing money at problems rather than building up the private sector in the countries on that continent.

Raising the marginal cost of tyranny (Perry de Havilland)

Perry de Havilland gives an excellent argument for private ownership of firearms "raising the marginal cost of tyranny." While I have always supported private ownership of firearms, I never thought of the issue in precisely the manner which Mr. de Havilland outlines it. Nonetheless, it makes good sense and is yet another solid argument for why gun control policies are intrinsically wrongheaded.

Rewarding vice and punishing virtue (Perry de Havilland)

Perry's argument is that writing off Third World debt rewards those countries who are irresponsible and punishes those who have paid off their debt (or are well along the way of doing it). He also covers the subject of why efforts such as Live Aid and a planned sequel to Live Aid (by former Boomtown Rats lead singer Bob Geldof) ultimately do not work to relieve poverty. See the previous de Havilland link for what does along with what will be covered next.

A Tale of Two Tax Cuts (Justin Lee Jones)

Justin Jones points to a column by Jack Kemp of which I will excerpt a bit from at this time:

The latest budget data confirm once again what I've been saying for the last 30 years: Cutting tax rates in the right way clears jobs and boosts economic revenues. On the other hand, attempting to revive economic growth by just "putting money in people's pockets" through tax credits, deductions and rebates not only fails to increase growth but also creates disincentives to work, save and invest, which ends up costing the government lost revenues.

The historical record couldn't be clearer. The Kennedy tax-rate reductions that triggered the prosperity of the 1960s and produced a windfall of government revenues indeed ended up helping balance the budget in 1964-65. Federal revenues doubled in the 1980s as a result of the Reagan tax-rate cuts. Today the evidence continues to mount that the Bush tax-rate reductions of 2003 also got the economy moving again and are leading to increased federal revenues....

It could not be clearer: Where government revenues are concerned, economic growth really is everything. The economic recovery triggered by the 2003 tax rate reductions means not only greater prosperity for all Americans but more revenue for government, too. Are there disparities? Yes, of course. And are there inequities? Yes, but a rising tide lifts all ships. Where ships are in need of repair, government can and should step in to help out.

All of this deals with the subject of supply-side economics. Your host once gave a defense of this theory to a class of mostly liberal students (and a liberal teacher) back in his college days. The end result was that most of the class (and the teacher) were brought to see the logic behind this methodology. I may write on the subject of supply side economics again someday{1} on this very weblog but for the moment, I refer you to the above article which covers the basics of sound economic thinking.

Mounties Uncover Al Qaeda Cache (Little Green Footballs)

The above thread contains a brief reminder of the kind of people we are facing in the war on terror. It is admittedly a rather benign reminder but too many people have short memories and easily forget the earlier and more trenchant reminders.{2}

In Defense of "Cruise Ship Spirituality" (Greg Mockeridge)

I will admit that I am not one for the whole "cruise ship" schtick. However, I do not begrudge those who do like this kind of vacationing. However, there are many people who make the stupidest of objections to this kind of vacationing along the lines of playing the "what about the poor???" card. Greg deals well with these and other objections of this sort.

The above article is worth reading -in particular the close where Greg points out (and correctly at that) that many who argue in this fashion are "in love with being in love with the poor and suffering." Such people (it should go without saying) have a vested interest in making sure that poor people stay poor so that they have a constituency of sorts. Greg is right to note that such an approach is not love but instead is tyranny of the worst sort. Having noted that, it seems fitting to conclude this thread with some prophetic words from Claude Frederic Bastiat circa 1850. As it seems more appropriate to post them as an instalmment of this weblog's "points to ponder" series, that is what I will do upon concluding this post.


As a few more threads pertaining in some respect to the topics covered above were posted either later in the same day on the sixteenth or were posted earlier today, it seems appropriate to amend the previous post and include them here -starting with the following:

Karl Keating and Christopher Blosser: Catholic Apologetics IS Important / [A-Certain-Catholic-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named] MOST of it Stinks (Dave Armstrong)

All that will be noted about that certain Catholic is that they like to speak of that dialogue which is intrinsic to ecumenism which both the Council and the popes have called for but do not practice what they preach. I wrote on the various intricacies of authentic dialogue as promoted by the popes in an essay about eighteen months ago. One of the key components of authentic dialogue which I recalled in a postlast month is listening. When it comes to listening, it was (and is) glaringly evident that the only party not listening was the person whom Dave speaks of above. (And the Rerum Novarum posts from that altercation illustrated this deficiency on that person's part more than adequately.) But enough on that subject for now and onto the other link being added in this addendum:

On "The Preferential Option for the Poor" (Christopher Blosser)

Christopher Blosser discusses the so-called "preferential option for the poor" and notes that it is a phrase that originated in liberation theology. (For those who do not know, liberation theology was proscribed by Rome in the 1980's.) Christopher correctly points out that there are various ways that the Catholic Church's social teachings can be applied. This is another complex area which is not done justice by those who seek to wrap themselves in the mantle of "more 'compassionate about the poor' than thou" but that is all I wills say on the matter at the present time. -ISM 6/17/05 10:45am]


{1} ---A Walk on the Supply Side.

If no other chapter in this book was read, this one is essential because it debunks so much of the idiotic myths surrounding Reagan and his role in the increasing deficits of the 1980's.

This chapter outlines an integral part of Reagan's presidential economic plan. It is well worth a read due to the profound ignorance commonly expressed about supply-side policies by historical revisionists and economists too wedded to Keynesian policies: policies which were discredited in the 1970's economic climate by the way.

The reviewer who said that D'Souza "dismisses the massive budget deficits accumulated during the Reagan years" would do well to reread this chapter since the deficit subject is discussed in the context of the Democratic Congress not following through on their promise to cut $3 in spending for every $1 in taxes during the 1982 budget battle. Oliver North was criticized for lying to Congress during Iran-contra but the dishonour Congress brought on themselves in the interim -starting with their broken promises in 1982- made North's actions a venial sin at best.

Those who want to discuss the budget deficits need look no further than here for the reasons. But of course that reviewer is not about to do that because 75% or more of the federal budget is unconstitutional and they are certain to support a fair amount of it. At least Reagan's military spending *was* constitutional but I digress. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa July 5, 2004)]

{2} Or they ignore them and continue to naively (at best) or stupidly-if-not-seditiously (at worst) pretend that such people can be persuaded to "play nice."

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Apparently there is something going around the blogosphere where people "tag" one another and the one who is "it" has to list a bunch of stuff about books. As Christopher Blosser was the one who "tagged" me, I will use the format he uses to answer the various questions involved.

Total number of books I own

Oh brother...I am really not sure. I own a lot of books (many of which are in boxes) but offhand probably four hundred or so. I do not buy many books but I do check out a lot of books at various libraries and return them when they are read (which at times because of my schedule means rechecking them out repeatedly until that end is achieved).

The last book I bought

D'nesh D'Souza's biography on Ronald Reagan. My review of that work can be read HERE for those who are interested.

The last book I read was

The last book I completed was Witness to Hope by George Weigel actually. I started it when Pope John Paul II was sick and was at the part where Weigel covers the assassination attempt when the pope died. I finished the book the very next day.

Five books that mean a lot to me

Five is too few so I will expand the number a bit. And like Jimmy Akin and Chris Blosser, I will not include the Bible or the Catechism in this short list. What I will list will be books which would prove to be pivotal to my overall approach to all subject matters. They will be listed in roughly chronological order of what was read first:

--Senator Barry Goldwater's seminal 1960 masterpiece The Conscience of a Conservative is the first that comes to mind. This is the work that started the process whereby a young self-styled "liberal" began realizing that he was not liberal at all but was (perhaps) libertarian. I had read many books voraciously in the preceding eight years{1} but this book was important for reasons I will briefly note. The arguments in the book were sound ones and I found myself realizing after I read it the first time{2} that I was indeed a "liberal" but not in the manner whereby that term was generally utilized.

While I had started to utilize elements of logic and reason in a crude fashion prior to this point in time; nonetheless it is no exaggeration to say that this book signalled the definitive end of various disconnected thought threads (gained from years of reading various works) and was the start of a synthesis in my developing outlook on a number of key foundational issues. That synthesis led to the development of a mature approach to many issues not just political ones. And while I have built on it since that time with even more complex reading, this book is still a foundation of sorts and I cannot recommend it enough for that purpose.

--Sun Tzu's 2500 BC masterpiece The Art of War (Ralph D. Sawyer's translation) was another major building block. I first read this book in college at the recommendation of someone in the business department. The intention was originally to learn the kinds of ancient war strategies that were becoming more in vogue with their utilization by American businesses at the time. I found tremendous value in this book for that reason and also for a strategic approach to many other situations. And I have referred back to it many times as needed...indeed it is sitting in the car as I write this (right next to my briefcase). Many have asked what books those who want to learn the art of apologetics should turn to. My response to such a query would be starting with this book to learn a methodological approach to warfare which can be translated from the military battlefield to the written battlefield.

---Alvin Toffler's 1980 bestseller The Third Wave was another book I first started reading in college. (And reread late last year/earlier this year.) The value of this book was initially in pointing out a viable theory for the confusing last few decades of the twentieth century. But it also was valuable in pointing out the kinds of presuppositions that undergird the way different people can approach the same issues. It eventually made me more optimistic about the future...though when I went through my pessimistic conspiracy theorist phase this book was shelved for a few years.{3} It was one of the works that I returned to after passing through that phase -and upon doing that I chuckled in realizing just how "Second Wave" the conspiracy weltanschauung I had dabbled in really was (for reasons too numerous to go over here). It is probably best that I went through that period but if I had remembered what I read in The Third Wave, it may have saved me that sojourn in retrospect.{4}

--The Federalist Papers (circa 1788-89) is a compendium of documents which I highly recommend. I started reading them in high school and had read maybe two of them before I read the aforementioned Goldwater book. I have never actually read all of them word for word to this day admittedly.{5} Nonetheless, I have read enough of them to recognize their value and recommend the whole allotment of them without hesitation. They have been a helpful resource over the years in Constitutional argumentation and anyone who is not at least somewhat familiar with these works has no business trying to discuss what "the Founding Fathers wanted" with any pretense of intelligence on the matter.

--Claude Frederic Bastiat's 1850 classic The Law is a book that was essential for my mature awareness of the role of law in a just society -and how this principle touches on every facet of political theory in existence. Earlier writings (i.e. Goldwater, Mentzer, Sun Tzu, Toffler) had helped me navigate in a logical and systematic fashion the massive and divergent streams of information I had been exposed to.{6} But the capstone was Bastiat's The Law which I have read several times and (with each reading) I glean something new from it.

Bastiat's theories heavily influenced a number of my earliest influences including Senator Barry Goldwater and President Ronald Reagan. (I believe I can see traces of them in the methodology of Mike Mentzer as well in retrospect.) And the principles enunciated in this work continue to influence some of the commentators I like to read most -such as Dr. Walter E. Williams.{7} Dr. Williams has called Bastiat Liberty's Greatest Advocate and has declared that he "easily outranks any of our founding fathers." I have to concur with this because unlike the others, he presented a weltanschauung for viewing the subject of law that is consistent and practical. The best part about Bastiat's work is that he was an economist who wrote not for the ivory tower but for average people. As one who had to endure the classroom presentation of economics in college, I could appreciate this approach.

--St. John of the Cross' late sixteenth century masterpiece The Dark Night of the Soul achieved in a spiritual sense what the works of Mentzer and Bastiat did in an exercise science and political science sense. There are two books in this compendium and I have read the first book about four times and the second book once. I plan to read the first book again in the coming is the more important of the two because it deals with those who have not achieved the advanced level of spirituality which the second book covers (in building on the first). I cannot recommend this work enough for those who want to get into mysticism but have to have a theological base for it. The long and short of it is this: The Dark Night of the Soul can make people of a more scholastic approach more mystical that is for sure because it shows that faith and reason are not automatically antonymous of one another.

--Pope John Paul II's 1998 Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio should be ranked among the best works on the subject of the relationship between faith and reason. The late pontiff was heavily influenced by St. John of the Cross -indeed his doctoral thesis was on St. John's Dark Night of the Soul. From a Catholic standpoint, this is a highly authoritative magisterial statement on the matter; however that does not mean that non-Catholics cannot benefit as well.

Society today tends towards either overrationalization which disparages spirituality or a kind of mystical fideism which disparages reason. Pope John Paul II's Fides et Ratio is an excellent antidote for these tendencies. Because it is a very philosophically deep work, one should not read it too quickly. But one should give it a read if they are interested in the subjects of faith or reason and do not understand why each needs the other to properly achieve its intended function.

Again, I know the quiz called for five but I had to list these seven. (Getting it down to only seven was difficult to do.) I will close this thread by listing what I am currently reading, what I am currently reading a second time (or more), and what I have recently finished reading. I do not usually discuss this subject but in light of the above quiz, it seems appropriate to touch on at this time:

Reading (first time)

Economic Sophisms (Claude Frederic Bastiat)

Latin for All Occasions (Henry Bland)

The Catholic Verses (Dave Armstrong)

Letters of JRR Tolkien

Communication in Spanish (Lamadrid, Bristoe, Paulson, Lamadrid)

More Catholic than the Pope (Patrick Madrid/Pete Vere)


The Popes of Avignon (G Mollat)

High Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way (Mike Mentzer w/John Little)

Hidden Differences: On Doing Business With the Japanese (Edward Hall/ Mildred Hall)

Models of the Church (Avery Dulles SJ)

Recently Finished

Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (George Weigel)

Rich Dad Poor Dad (Robert T. Kiyosaki w/Sharon Lechter)

The Bible and the Church (Bruce Vawter)

The Third Wave (Alvin Toffler)

And apparently one is supposed to conclude this quiz with sending it via email to five people who have not received it yet to "tag" them but I am not going to do that. (I am too busy to take the time to look and see who has and has not gotten it.) So I will utilize here a tactic pioneered by Jimmy Akin. The way it works is essentially like this: anyone reading this who has a weblog or is part of a discussion list of any kind -even those who run weblogs but refuse to call them that- can consider by virtue of reading this post to have been "tagged" and can compose their responses to the query accordingly.


{1} I was at a high school reading level as early as second grade so I got an early start on the whole "reading of substantial books" thing. (I was reading things like Greek Mythology in second and third grade along with various bits from the Great Books of the Western World series.) Nonetheless, I say "eight" as a way of significantly underestimating the time period between when I started reading (four) and when I first came across Senator Goldwater's seminal work (my late teens...seventeen I think).

{2} I quickly reread it two more times and have since then have read it more times still.

{3} Not out of a plan or anything but it was interfering with all that "important" conspiracy drivel that seemed so important to read at the time.

{4} The major focus of my non-college studying was on exercise science at the time -and it was the principles I was cultivating in this area that was the core tool in me shedding the conspiracy theory outlook. Nonetheless, I did not list a book on this subject because there were many of them in this area (not to mention countless articles I read) which would make that difficult to do.

{5} Not because of their length -they are quite short- but other things always seem to get in the way for some reason or another.

{6} These "massive and divergent streams of information" were the accumulation of years of reading various sources, absorbing their contents, and musing on them in various ways.

{7} I must have been forty years old before reading Frederic Bastiat's classic The Law. ... After reading the book I was convinced that a liberal-arts education without Bastiat is incomplete. Reading Bastiat made me keenly aware of all the time wasted, along with the frustrations of going down one blind alley after another, organizing my philosophy of life. The Law did not produce a philosophical conversion for me as much as it created order in my thinking about liberty and just human conduct... [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa October 01, 2002)]

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Please pray for the eternal repose of the soul of my beloved father Richard Dunn McElhinney. Today is the fourth anniversary of his passing.

Eternal rest grant unto his soul oh Lord and may thy perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace with all the souls of the faithfully departed. Amen.

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