Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Joke

Jesus was wandering around Jerusalem when he decided that he really needed a new robe.

After looking around for a while, he saw a sign for Finkelstein, the Tailor.

So, he went in and made the necessary arrangements to have Finkelstein prepare a new robe for him. A few days later, when the robe was finished, Jesus tried it on -- and it was a perfect fit!

He asked how much he owed.

Finkelstein brushed him off: "No, no, no, for the Son of God there's no charge!

However, may I ask for a small favor. Whenever you give a sermon, perhaps you could just mention that your nice new robe was made by Finkelstein, the Tailor?"

Jesus readily agreed and as promised, extolled the virtues of his Finkelstein robe whenever he spoke to the masses.

A few months later, while Jesus was again walking through Jerusalem he happened to walk past Finkelstein's shop and noted a huge line of people waiting for Finkelstein's robes.

He pushed his way through the crowd to speak to him and as soon as Finkelstein spotted him he said: "Jesus, Jesus, look what you've done for my business! Would you consider a partnership?"

"Certainly," replied Jesus. "Jesus & Finkelstein it is."

"Oh, no, no," said Finkelstein. "Finkelstein & Jesus.. After all, I am the craftsman."

The two of them debated this for some time.

Their discussion was long and spirited, but ultimately fruitful -- and they finally came up with a mutually acceptable compromise.

A few days later, the new sign went up over Finkelstein's shop:


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Little Lent

Well, Lent "officially" ends today. However, I consider the next two days (Good Friday and Holy Saturday) to be a "Little Lent" because though it is a short period of time, they are the darkest days of the liturgical year.

This year Lent has been a rather dry experience for me. I mean that spiritually, not literally. I let the world get in the way of my prayer life and my prayer life suffered for it. I've had worse Lents, and better Lents, so I'm not complaining, just observing.

But it got me thinking about slippery slopes. At the beginning of Lent I had intended to read "Introduction to the Devout Life" by St. Francis de Sales. I began in earnest, but soon found myself reading other things. I intended to use the time I spent playing computer games to devote more time to prayer. That time evaporated - I still don't know to where.

One thing I did read was "Come Rack, Come Rope" by Robert Hugh Benson. It is a historical novel about a Catholic living in England under Elizabeth I. The book got me thinking about martyrdom. There's a quote form Flannery O'Connor “She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.” It's one thing to face death for the faith, but another to be constantly pecked at. Some of the characters in the book experience this.

We're seeing the same thing in the persecution of Christians in the world and in our country today. "Oh just pay for the contraception. It's only a few dollars." Then why is it a $30,000 fine not to pay? "Oh just bake the cake. It's only a bit of flour and frosting." Then why is it a $500,000 lawsuit not to bake it? We are not being martyred per se, but are forced to violate our conscience in tiny ways more and more.

And where does that slippery slope end? Like in Breaking Bad, will there be a time when we find we can no longer refuse to comply? God grant me the strength to pick up my cross again and continue.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Felons

New York will have 1 million more felons tomorrow than it had yesterday.

What happened? Did busloads of criminals arrive from all over the country? There are "only" 2.5 million felons in the entire country! Where did they come from?

Well, they didn't "come from" anywhere - they committed a felony right there in New York.

Oh my! What kind of crime did they commit? Was there a complete breakdown of law in the state? blood running in the gutters? Businesses and whole cities destroyed by looting? Do tell!

No, the crime they committed was owning a small metal and plastic box. A box that is sooooo scary, New York lawmakers have said that people who have such a box must go to prison for years and years to keep the "good" citizens safe.

Well then, what does this box contain? It must be something horrible! Um, the box contains a spring. That is the thing that is so horrible that society must protect itself from it.

And New York is not alone. Earlier this year, some 350,000 Connecticut citizens become felons for owning the same boxes. And if New Jersey lawmakers have their way, about 750,000 New Jersians will become felons later this year.

That's almost doubling the number of felons in the United States, in one year, for owning a metal box.

The reasoning behind banning this metal box is the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. The idea is that if we ban magazines (a magazine is a metal box with a spring that holds ammunition) that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, our schools will be safe. That's because the next time a madman opens fire on children, if he has to switch magazines more often it'll slow him down so that perhaps a child or two can run away.

Seriously? That's the best way to stop a madman with a gun? To slow him down so that after the first 10 children are shot one might be able to get away? More on that later, but let's go into why this won't work.

First off, let's look at how much time a bad guy loses in changing magazines.


I'm going to consider the bad guy an expert, because it seems the mass murders we know about have all spent lots of time rehearsing for their big event.

In the video above a shooter is timed firing 30 aimed shots at multiple targets using the following:

  • 2 standard capacity (15 round) magazines
  • 3 low capacity (10 round) magazines
  • 5 low capacity 6 round magazines

results?

Magazines x RoundsTime (seconds)
2 x 1520.64
3 x 1018.05
5 x 621.45

Well, maybe the overall time wasn't that different, but could someone tackle the shooter? No. Not only is the magazine change too fast, but it you notice, the shooter does what Adam Lanza did in the Sandy Hook shooting - uses what's called a "tactical reload." In a tactical reload, you don't wait until you have fired all your rounds before changing magazines, you save at least one, which is loaded in the gun during the magazine change. So if someone tries to rush you during the magazine change you still have a loaded gun to fire at them.

So if you are a prepared shooter, carrying extra magazines, the size of those magazines is not a big impediment. What about a home defender, who wakes up in the middle of the night to an intruder breaking into his home and threatening his family?

Well, he is likely not carrying multiple magazines around with him, nor does he have a tactical vest with pockets to carry multiple magazines, so he is limited to whatever he has in the gun. In the case of these laws, 10 rounds (7 for New York). Isn't that enough to stop a home invader? If we listen to fiction author Stephen King it is. He wrote:

"If you can't kill a home invader... with 10 shots you need to go back to the local shooting range."
First of all, if you can't kill a home invader with 10 shots you can't go back to the local shooting range, you go to the morgue, so it's a little more serious an issue than King makes it out to be.

Secondly, as stated in the video above:
Nationally 75-80% of rounds fired by trained police officers in lethal force encounters miss their intended target entirely.
and
Numerous law enforcement post-shooting studies have shown that multiple good hits may be required to stop an attack.
Remember, these are trained police officers who are getting 2-2.5 hits out of a 10 round magazine, and that may not be enough to stop an attacker. Add to that the fact that in most of the home invasion stories I have seen there were more than one invader involved (usually 2 or 3).

So if trained police officers could not on average stop a home invasion with 10 rounds, what right does King (or our legislators) have to tell citizens that 10 rounds is enough for them? In fact these same lawmakers exempted police officers (and themselves) from the 10 round limit, so clearly they recognize the need for more than 10 rounds.

And citizens realize it as well, which explains the number of people who have refused to comply. As the saying goes, they would rather be "tried by 12 than carried by 6." They would rather run the risk of jail than death.

Oh, and for those of you who say these limitations are legitimate limits on the second amendment because  "the founding fathers didn't have to face issues like 'high capacity' (sic) magazines," the image at the top of this post is the Giradoni rifle, in use since 1780, which had a 20 round magazine.

Now, let's get back to the issue of stopping a madman with a gun at a school. Our lawmakers have said this is a big problem that they intend to solve. Well, what stops a bad guy with a gun? A police officer? Why is that? Oh, he is a good guy with a gun? Yes, you are correct. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. So why have we banned good guys with guns from our schools? For that matter, why don't we allow school staff to be trained and armed? After all, they have already gone through background checks, and we already trust our children with these people.

I think it would be a more effective way to stop a bad guy than to tell our children to let him shoot their classmates until they guess he might possibly be out of ammunition and then hope he fumbles and forgot to save a bullet so they can run away while he switches magazines.

What do you think?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Joke

Apropos tax day...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday Joke

Pat and Mike get jobs at the local sawmill. The foreman warns them to be careful of the blade, because it's easy to get too close.

They are careful, until one day, Mike slips and his arm gets severed by the big saw. Pat quickly puts the limb in a plastic bag and rushes it and Mike to the local hospital.

Next day, Pat goes to the sawmill for work, and there's Mike waiting for him! Pat couldn't believe it, but there's Mike out the back using his now re-attached arm. "Why aren't you in the hospital?" he asks.

"Oh, my family's always been fast healers - nothing stops us" replies Mike.

A couple of days go by, and then Mike slips again and severs his leg on another big saw. Pat puts the limb in a plastic bag and rushes it and Mike off to the Hospital. And again, the next day Mike is back at work. "How do you do it?" Pat asks.

"Oh when you have a good constitution you heal quick" says Mike. "My family's never missed a day of work for sickness or accidents"

But, as usual, within a couple of days he has another accident and severs his head. Once again Paddy puts the head in a plastic bag and transports it and Mike to the hospital.

Next day he goes to the sawmill, but Mike isn't there. All day Pat looks for him, and after work heads over to the hospital.

"Where's Mike?" he asks the nurse.

"Oh, poor Mike died" she says.

Paddy is shocked, but not surprised. "I suppose the saw finally did him in."

"No", says the nurse, "Some idiot put his head in a plastic bag and he suffocated.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lonesome Lent

So I haven't blogged much in a while. For this  I apologize. Yes, I'm very busy, but so are we all. I have a million tiny things I could blog about, but I never find the time to do so because they don't seem, well, big enough. I'm going to try to change that.

I've been having a very spiritually dry Lent once again. In fact, the only Lent in recent years that was fruitful was the one when I was in the middle of a Bible study. Perhaps that's a clue as to what I should be doing. But the study on Matthew just ended and we're all taking a break.

Today at mass we heard the story of Lazarus. I thought about blogging on that but there are so many things to talk about that it would be a book! So I'm blogging about the songs instead. I am a hymn snob. By that I mean I want to be able to sing the hymn, not have it performed for me, and I want the hymn to have some sort of meaning that's Christian, Catholic Christian.

Today I got to hear "Lonesome Valley." Perhaps I'm missing something but to me this song is not Catholic at all, and not Biblical at all. I'm OK with Jesus walking the lonesome valley, but us? First off, Jesus told us He would be with us always, until the end of the age. Now I know Protestants don't take that literally, but Catholics sure do. Then there are our guardian angels, who walk with us. Plus we have the Communion of Saints - we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

The third verse is problematic too. For although we do stand alone in the judgement in the sense that we are responsible for our own actions, we are not totally along again. Jesus intercedes for us, as do Mary and the Saints, once again. I guess the words could be taken multiple ways.

I realize we are entering the Passiontide, but "Lonesome Valley," except for the first verse, doesn't fit with the season or with the readings for the day. We'll see what comes up next week. My vote (which I don't get a vote) would be one of my favorite hymns, "O Sacred Head Now Wounded." Here are a couple of versions for reflection.