Evening bonus, 9/9/15

  1. Hot, steaming mug of health news
  2. We don’t call it fascism
  3. Ali Hussein, unperson
  4. Confession or risk management?


“Thank goodness coffee is good for you again,” reads the lede.

A single line, so you can’t read between it. Very well then, let’s read within it: popular press health coverage has ADD and trumpets every new study uncritically, the better to draw readers (viewers, listeners).

Now back to my morning coffee, which I liked equally well yesterday, when apparently it wasn’t good for me.


One of the more amusing manifestations of this disquiet is an episode of the animated series South Park . After a visit from the ‘‘Sexual Harassment Panda,’’ the children of South Park begin to sue each other for harassment over minor insults. Eventually, the children pursue deeper pockets, the school at which these insults take place. The school is bankrupted, while Kyle’s attorney father, who represents all of the plaintiffs, becomes wealthy. This leads to the following exchange:

Father: You see, son, we live in a liberal democratic society. The Democrats [sic—it was a mostly Republican EEOC and Supreme Court] created sexual harassment law, which tells us what we can and cannot say in the workplace, and what we can and cannot do in the workplace.

Kyle: But isn’t that fascism?

Father: No, because we don’t call it fascism.

(David Bernstein, You Can’t Say That!)


On April 29th, 2008 I had a Saul on the Road to Damascus moment. I had flipped open the Washington Post and there, on the front page, was a color photo of a two year old Iraqi boy named Ali Hussein being pulled from the rubble of a house that had been destroyed by American missiles. The little boy was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and had on his feet flip-flops. His head was hanging back at an angle that told the viewer immediately that he was dead.

Four days later on May 3rd a letter by a Dunn Loring Virginia woman named Valerie Murphy was printed by the Post. Murphy complained that the Iraqi child victim photo should not have been run in the paper because it would “stir up opposition to the war and feed anti-US sentiment.”

Since folks inside the beltway are particularly given to making judgements based on numerical data they might be interested in the toll exacted through America’s global war on terror. By one not unreasonable estimate, as many as four million Muslims have died or been killed as a result of the ongoing conflicts that Washington has either initiated or been party to since 2001.

In writing this piece I looked up Ali Hussein, the little Iraqi boy who was killed by the American bomb. He has been “disappeared” from Google, as well has the photo, presumably because his death did not meet community standards. He has likewise been eliminated from the Washington Post archive. The experience of Winston Smith in George Orwell’s 1984 immediately came to mind.

(Philip Giraldi, A Refugee Crisis Made in America)


In Jaime Doe v. Catholic Diocese of Rockford, (IL App., Sept. 4, 2015), plaintiff sued seeking the identity of the writer of an allegedly defamatory letter about her son.  The letter, sent to the pastor of the parish, alleged that plaintiff’s son engaged in the sexual touching of another minor child.  The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s order that the writer of the letter be disclosed. In doing so, the court concluded that the letter is not covered by the Clergy-Penitent Privilege ….

(Religion Clause blog) The blog goes on to excerpt the opinion, but I certainly endorse the result insofar as the argument against disclosing the writer’s identity was based solely on priest-penitent privilege.

You don’t go to a priest to “confess” someone else’s sin. In Orthodoxy, as I understand it, you can’t even mitigate your sin by mentioning someone else’s provocation. You just suck it up and confess your inappropriate response.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.