Monday, January 23, 2023

Tanks for Ukraine: American or German?



There has been a bit of discussion over whether or not to send modern heavy armor (main battle tanks) to Ukraine. Almost everybody is pointing to Germany's Leopard 2 (pictured) as the most likely candidate. But the Germans, for a variety of reasons, have thus far balked and are instead arguing the US should send some of our own heavy tanks, the M1 Abrams, first. While we are sending a lot of light and intermediate armored vehicles, the War Department has said no to the Abrams citing the tanks generally higher maintenance requirements compared to the German Leopards. For those interested, a pretty good comparison of the two tanks can be found here.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Wear the Jersey, Bigot

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Flyers hosted "Pride Night" at the Wells Fargo Center. To celebrate, the team invited a "non-binary" thirteen-year-old to beat its ceremonial drum. Players wore black jerseys with rainbow-colored numbers and used rainbow-taped sticks in warmups. Everyone at the arena was made to participate, save Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov, who sat out the warmup period, and joined the team for the puck drop.

Asked about it postgame, Provorov cited his Russian Orthodox faith.

"I respect everybody's choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That's all I'm going to say."

That was all his critics needed to hear. NHL Network's E.J. Hradek proposed Provorov go back to his native Russia and "get involved" in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The exegetes at Deadspin called Provorov's faith a "steaming pile of s***" and accused the defenseman of being "completely oblivious to what Jesus’s message actually was." Canadian broadcaster Sid Seixeiro said the NHL should have fined the Flyers $1 million, and, with a quivering voice, suggested Provorov had a disreputable personal life...

Read the rest here.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Documentgate (v 2.0)

I believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. Recently I bought a large bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn. But if you are asking me to believe that the decision to withhold the discovery of these documents from the general public was not connected to the politics of the general election; I am going to be more than a little insulted at your opinion of my intelligence.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Pope curses ‘delinquent’ priests who withhold absolution

Priests should grant absolution in the confessional even when the penitent has no intention to repent, the Pope has said in a speech which has shocked seminarians.

The Holy Father put aside a written speech, describing it as “boring”, and delivered an off-the-cuff address to seminarians from Barcelona, Spain, in which he frequently used foul language.

In his address, he ordered students for the priesthood “not to be clerical, to forgive everything”, adding that “if we see that there is no intention to repent, we must forgive all”.

“We can never deny absolution, because we become a vehicle for an evil, unjust, and moralistic judgment,” Francis reportedly told the seminarians, who were accompanied by the Auxiliary Bishop Javier Vilanova Pellisa of Barcelona.

Priests who deny penitents absolution are “delinquents”, the Pontiff said, according to the Church Militant website. 

If accurate, the Pope’s remarks appear to put him at odds with the moral theology expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which emphasises that contrition occupies the “first place” of any act of a penitent and that it involves “the resolution not to sin again”.

Canon 987 of The Code of Canon Law also says that for the faithful to receive “the saving remedy of the sacrament of penance, they must be so disposed that, repudiating the sins they have committed and having the purpose of amending their lives, they turn back to God”.

According to reports, Francis also used his speech to rant against “f***ing careerists who f*** up the lives of others”.

The Pope also criticised “those who climb to show their a**”, the Italian media outlet Daily Compass reported. 

Read the rest here
HT: Dr. Tighe

Expert’s warning to US Navy on China: Bigger fleet almost always wins

As China continues to grow what is already the world’s largest navy, a professor at the US Naval War College has a warning for American military planners: In naval warfare, the bigger fleet almost always wins.

Pentagon leaders have identified China as the US military’s “pacing threat.” But fleet size numbers show that the US military can’t keep pace with China’s naval growth.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surpassed the US Navy in fleet size sometime around 2020 and now has around 340 warships, according to the Pentagon’s 2022 China Military Power Report, released in November. China’s fleet is expected to grow to 400 ships in the next two years, the report says.

Meanwhile, the US fleet sits under 300 ships, and the Pentagon’s goal is to have 350 manned ships, still well behind China, by 2045, according to the US Navy’s Navigation Plan 2022 released last summer.

So to compete, US military leaders are counting on technology.

That same document says, “the world is entering a new age of warfare, one in which the integration of technology, concepts, partners, and systems — more than fleet size alone — will determine victory in conflict.”

Not so fast, says Sam Tangredi, the Leidos Chair of Future Warfare Studies at the US Naval War College.

If history is any lesson, China’s numerical advantage is likely to lead to defeat for the US Navy in any war with China, according to Tangredi’s research, presented in the January issue of the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine.

Tangredi, a former US Navy captain, looked at 28 naval wars, from the Greco-Persian Wars of 500 BC, through recent Cold War proxy conflicts and interventions. He found in only three instances did superior technology defeat bigger numbers.

“All other wars were won by superior numbers or, when between equal forces, superior strategy, or admiralship,” Tangredi wrote. “Often all three qualities act together, because operating a large fleet generally facilitates more extensive training and is often an indicator that leaders are concerned with strategic requirements,” Tangredi wrote.

The three outliers – wars from the 11th, 16th and 19th centuries – aren’t likely familiar to all but the most ardent of scholars, but others that show where numbers beat technology certainly are.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

As Russians Steal Ukraine’s Art, They Attack Its Identity, Too

Russian forces have looted tens of thousands of pieces, including avant-garde oil paintings and Scythian gold. Experts say it is the biggest art heist since the Nazis in World War II, intended to strip Ukraine of its cultural heritage. 

Read the rest here.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

‘Catastrophe’: Cardinal Pell’s secret memo blasts Francis

...But Pell, a staunch conservative, grew increasingly disillusioned with the direction of Francis’ papacy, including its emphasis on inclusion and canvassing of the laity about the future of the church.

He penned a remarkable memorandum outlining his concerns, and recommendations for the next pope in a future conclave, that began circulating last spring and was published under a pseudonym, “Demos,” on Vatican blog Settimo Cielo.

The blogger Sandro Magister on Wednesday revealed that Pell indeed was the author of the memo, which is an extraordinary indictment of the current pontificate by a onetime close collaborator of Francis.

The memo is divided into two parts — “The Vatican Today” and “The Next Conclave” — and lists a series of points covering everything from Francis’ “weakened” preaching of the Gospel to the precariousness of the Holy See’s finances and the “lack of respect for the law” in the city-state, including in the current financial corruption trial underway that Pell himself had championed.

“Commentators of every school, if for different reasons … agree that this pontificate is a disaster in many or most respects; a catastrophe,” Pell wrote.

Also Wednesday, the conservative magazine The Spectator published what it said was a signed article that Pell wrote in the days before he died. In the article, Pell described as a “toxic nightmare” Francis’ two-year canvassing of the Catholic laity about issues such as church teaching on sexuality and the role of women that is expected to come to a head at a meeting of bishops in October.

Referring to the Vatican’s summary of the canvassing effort, Pell complained of a “deepening confusion, the attack on traditional morals and the insertion into the dialogue of neo-Marxist jargon about exclusion, alienation, identity, marginalization, the voiceless, LGBTQ as well as the displacement of Christian notions of forgiveness, sin, sacrifice, healing, redemption.”

Pell’s anonymous memo, however, is even harsher and takes particular aim at Francis himself. While other conservatives have criticized Francis’ crackdown on traditionalists and mercy-over-morals priorities, Pell went further and devoted an entire section to the pope’s involvement in a big financial fraud investigation that has resulted in the prosecution of 10 people, including Pell’s onetime nemesis, Cardinal Angelo Becciu.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Two Passings

  •  Archbishop George Cardinal Pell- A man of great personal sanctity who endured such abuse for his faith that if I were still Catholic, I would be tempted to label him a Confessor.
  • His Hellenic Majesty Constantine II (XIII by some reckonings)- The last King of Greece who was supplanted by a military coup and dictatorship. To the best of my knowledge, he was also the last Orthodox Christian monarch. 

The GOP: How it got here and where it's going

The wingnuts have clearly taken over the party. How did it happen and what's next? 

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

What's old is new

From the New York Tribune December 4, 1855 (page 4, column 2)...
DOINGS IN CONGRESS

Senate, Dec 3- The Senate met at 12 o'clock and after swearing in such members as were present and fixing the hour of meeting at noon, adjourned.

House, Dec 3- The House met at 12 o'clock and the Clerk, John W. Forney, calling to order. Two hundred twenty-five members answered to their names. The first business being the election of a speaker, the House proceeded to vote. After three ballots without an election, the House adjourned. 

One hundred thirty ballots later, on February 2, 1856; Nathanial P. Banks was elected Speaker of the House.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Former Pope Benedict XVI is seriously ill

Pope Francis has asked for prayers for his 95 year old predecessor, stating that he is "very sick." The Vatican has acknowledged the former Pope's health has deteriorated sharply in recent hours.

Update- A statement from the Vatican Thursday morning reported that Benedict rested well last night and that he is both conscious and lucid. His condition is described as grave, but stable at the present time. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Is 2022 the Year We All Finally Got Tired of Narcissists?

It’s been a good run for the narcissists.

Over the past decade or so, a mix of shameless self-aggrandizement and self-confident charm has served certain people extraordinarily well, turning them into venture-capital darlings, licensed-merchandise magnates, Forbes cover models, social media superstars, Oprah confessors, business-conference keynoters, new-money plutocrats and, in one case, president. Elon Musk, Sam Bankman-Fried, Ye (né Kanye West), Elizabeth Holmes, Meghan Markle, Donald Trump: All of them used attention as currency and ego as fuel, and were rewarded, for a time, with what they craved. We’re drawn to people who love themselves.

But somewhere between the fifth and sixth hour of “Harry and Meghan,” the new Netflix documentary series produced by the former Duke and Duchess of Sussex and filmed at their California mansion — which suggests that there is no one more in love, no one more socially conscious, no one more aggrieved — my natural sympathy for the couple started turning to irritation, and it occurred to me that ego has its limits. And it struck me that the overreach that led to the Sussexes’ critically panned mega-series is the same impulse that turned Elon Musk into a terror on Twitter, that prompted Ye to up the ante of outrageous behavior until he crossed the line into blatant antisemitism, that sent Bankman-Fried from the top of the world to a Bahamian jail.

Some of these turns of fate are more dramatic and complete than others. But once we tally up the losses, it could be that 2022 marks the year our love affair with narcissists started to falter. Many of them met this year with declines in fortunes, falls from grace or newfound public skepticism. Many seemed to overstay their welcome in the public glare. And if this is the moment when we started to crave boring public figures for a change — well, to a large degree, the egotists did it to themselves. Maybe they couldn’t help it.

Read the rest here.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Sad News

I have received belated news via email of the passing of Christopher Johnson, formerly of the Midwest Conservative Journal. Johnson's blog covered political and social topics of the day with the Anglican Communion's embrace of modernist apostasy being a particular target for his well-known and biting wit. Some years ago, Johnson lost his job as a librarian, and I heard rumors that this was connected to his openly conservative views. Following which he admitted to having fallen into difficult times and a mutual acquaintance reported that he was living in reduced circumstances. It was during this period that his blog faded and eventually went silent. Over the years we corresponded occasionally, and I always enjoyed his blog posts. Chris died in November of 2021, aged 66. Though this news is late in coming and I had not communicated with him in several years, it is none the less very sad and he will be missed.

Memory eternal.