Thursday, February 23, 2012

Links and Notes

* Rebecca recently had a good post titled, What to Do When Someone You Know Dies

* Janet Smith takes down David Gibson on the subject of material cooperation

* Christopher Tollefsen lays out some points on Catholic teaching about contraception at NRO

* Philosopher's Carnival #138 is up at Ichthus77; Maryann focused on trying to build up discussions rather than isolated posts, which is an interesting idea. And it's #138? Time has certainly passed since the long ago day when I did #2.

* Cosma Shalizi has an interesting post on the correlation coefficient.

* Edmund Waldstein, O. Cist., is putting up a translation of Friedrich Wessely's pamphlet on Confession.

* It has come up in the contraception mandate discussion on a number of occasions, so I think I should point out: (1) Jehovah's Witnesses only forbid whole blood transfusions -- almost everything else is admissible; and (2) Christian Scientists don't reject all medical procedures and operations. There are currently insurance plans tailored to both groups, and some of them are very, very good insurance plans -- certainly better than anything most Americans have. They just cover slightly different things than more typical insurance plans; it's still possible for them to cover as much or more, and to provide more complete coverage of what they do cover -- and some of them do. We shouldn't let stereotypical assumptions about Jehovah's Witnesses or Christian Scientists lead us to make the argument that if one has JW insurance, which focuses on bloodless procedures, or Christian Science insurance, which focuses on nursing care, that one has bad insurance. It just doesn't follow; insurance plans have to be judged holistically.

* I don't know what it is, but this election cycle is making me even more cynical about politics, and especially political parties, than I usually am. I try to find a silver lining, but every time I look at how things are shaping up, the silver lining turns out to be, "In many places the people don't really get to choose the direction they are going, but in America it is different: We get to choose whether we will ruin ourselves in a rightward direction or in a leftward direction. What a country!" In presidential elections I don't vote either Republican or Democrat on principle; but, of course, that doesn't ever leave much to work with. The Libertarians have their convention in Las Vegas in May and the Greens have their convention in Baltimore in July, so we'll have to see if they put forward anyone who's not too atrocious.

Of course, what I'm really excited for this election year is to be able to do my third rating of party platforms on things that have nothing to do with politics. In 2004 the Libertarians won with clean, readable Spartan minimalism (with the Democrats coming in last because nothing nonpolitical was good about their platform except the cover sheet and the accompanying FAQ); in 2008 the Republicans just barely squeaked by with the flashy-glossy aesthetics of magazine format (with the Greens coming in last because they never bothered to put more than a draft on their website). Who will win this year? Will Libertarian minimalism and organization continue to triumph over Major Party verboseness? Will the Democrats continue to be the worst writers of party platform preambles? Will the Greens give us something organized? Who will have the prettiest party platform webpage this year? We'll have to see. I can hardly wait until October.

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