Potpourri 6/23/17

  1. Healthy relationships
  2. French sang-froid
  3. Word du jour: neighbor spoofing
  4. No ideas, only obsessions
  5. No sense of entitlement
  6. C.S. Lewis on the Roman Church


In faith, I learn that no relationship with another human being is healthy, when it’s just the two of us, without God between us, and without an inspired awareness of us both inhabiting God’s “house,” under His house-rules and guidance.

(Sr. Vassa Larin)


Peggy Noonan visited Paris:

As I lingered over dessert. A colleague emailed an alert from a private security firm: Continue to avoid the vicinity of Champs Élysées and Avenue Montaigne. I replied: “I am literally on Avenue Montaigne and nothing is happening here but bitchy gossip in the cafe.”

“At least you’re having a very French experience then,” my colleague replied.

I was. Forty-eight hours later, en route to England, I saw the front page of the Times of London: A suspected terrorist had been shot and killed by soldiers in a Brussels railway station. He had attempted to detonate an explosive vest or belt. The story was illustrated with a photo of a handsome young passerby who’d been staring at his phone and suddenly turned toward a flash of light behind him: the late terrorist.

Nothing feels different, all looks the same, no one is letting the discomfort get in their way, but in Europe, terrorism is the new normal.

And much is made of what remains of British stoicism, but something should be said for French sang-froid.

(Wall Street Journal – pay wall)


The Federal Communications Commission Thursday proposed a record $120 million fine against a Miami man who the agency said was responsible for making almost 100 million falsified robocalls in late 2016 in violation of telecommunications laws.

The man, identified by the FCC as Miami business owner Adrian Abramovich, falsified caller ID information to trick consumers into thinking the calls were coming from local numbers—a tactic known as “neighbor spoofing,” according to the agency …

Part of the problem, officials say, is that technology advances have made robocalls so cheap and easy to place that some marketers choose to use them, despite the legal prohibitions including “Do Not Call” lists. Techniques such as spoofing make the strategy more appealing, by increasing the odds that a consumer will answer. Many of the calls come from overseas.

An FCC citation against Mr. Abramovich quoted several complaints to the agency from angry consumers.

“I’m on the do-not-call list, and I get telemarketing robo-calls to my cellphone every 2 hours,” one wrote. “It’s unbelievably infuriating.”

Another wrote: “I have been getting at least three or four calls a week from the last several months from these Marriott Hotel `free trip’ jokers. I always hang up when I here [sic] the cheesy auto voice, but even when I miss the call I am miffed that my cellphone is getting clogged from `missed call’ notifications from these scumbags! They always have the same area code and first three digits as my own cell phone. . . . PLEASE TRACK DOWN THESE JERKS!”



Paul Waldman on the Senate Health Bill:

Let’s begin with one of the party’s two great goals, one that extends beyond this bill to other issues like taxes and regulation. That goal is to make life as easy and pleasant as possible for the wealthy, those “job creators” whose virtue is proven by the size of their bank accounts. The Senate’s bill gives them a cornucopia of benefits, rolling back the tax increases that were contained in the Affordable Care Act, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. One cut, on investment taxes, would even be made retroactive to the beginning of the year, just to put something extra in the wealthy’s pockets …

Then there’s Medicaid, the bill’s most prominent target for assault. It also not only eliminates the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, phasing it out beginning in 2021, but goes much farther. Medicaid would no longer be an “entitlement,” which means that anyone who meets the eligibility criteria gets the benefit, even if in some years that means its budget gets unexpectedly bigger. Instead, Medicaid would be subject to new, slow-growing per capita caps, which represents hundreds of billions in cuts in coming years. In addition, states would be given “flexibility” over whom they cover, meaning they’d be allowed to reduce benefits or kick people off the program entirely. And who are the beneficiaries of Medicaid? The poor, the disabled, and the elderly (even though they get coverage through Medicare, Medicaid pays for a large portion of the country’s nursing home expenses). These are the people to whom the GOP is showing the back of its hand so it can offer a large tax cut to the rich.

I still remember the kinds of “movement conservative” talking points that would mansplain this to us, but it seems to me that our two political parties have no ideas left, only obsessions.


Wendy DeChambeau decided not to raise her children in the United States, but in Ecuador instead:

[O]ver the last six years, my children have experienced childhood without viewing the world through a privileged first-world lens. Though we live comfortably here in Ecuador, my sons are surrounded by families that work hard and live simply. There is no internet shopping. There are no big box stores stuffed to the brim with the latest useless merchandise. And Christmas in these parts is about church and family, not piles of presents and deepening debt.

Eventually my boys will return to the U.S. to attend college and build their adult lives. When they do, they’ll have a leg up. In a world where the up-and-coming generation is castigated for their feelings of entitlement and inability to handle disappointment, my sons have no notions of being owed a thing.


In the late 1940s, David Soper interviewed [C.S.] Lewis for Zion’s Herald, asking him specifically about his views on Catholicism.

“Lewis’ thought about Rome was comprehensive yet simple. The difficulty with joining the Roman church was that you were, so to speak, ‘buying a pig in a poke;’ you could not possibly know at what hour something new would be added, as essential for salvation, to the worship of Christ as God and Saviour. Rome had an unfortunate tendency to pile Pelion upon Ossa, in every generation to require allegiance to a new set of ideas not only in the New Testament, but clearly foreign to its letter and alien to its spirit.”

Whatever his faith, Lewis would always remain an Ulsterman, at least culturally and in his prejudices.

(Brad Birzer)

On the other hand: One of my older law school classmates (there were quite a few of us who’d been in the workplace and then entered law school) was from southern Indiana. He had sold school textbooks for a living before entering law. I was somewhat surprised to learn that he was Roman Catholic, and more surprised to hear why he had converted. It went roughly like this:

I’d rather have a Pope in Rome who claims the direct and immediate authority over all Christians in the world, but who actually leaves me alone, than a pompadoured Preacher Boy who says he’s only preaching the pure Bible but tries to micromanage my life.

* * * * *

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.