February 29, 2016

February 28, 2016

Logical Fallacies of Twitter

Having spent a week or so among Twitterzens, I can say with assurance one thing. It is the single greatest showcase of logical fallacies ever invented. Political pamphlets of any century have nothing on Twitter. Admittedly, the (extremely) short character limits mean that the platform does not lend itself to deep thought. Moreover, following more than, say, ten people, means that one's tweets are quickly mowed down by more tweets.

However, the sheer volume of logical fallacies evidenced in Twitter seems less the fault of the platform, and more a fault of...well, just about everyone on it. I have, without doubt, been occasionally guilty of logical fallacy. But, I mean, really.

CathCon Sunday - 2/28/2016

On Trump and Libel - Ace, Ace of Spades

Hitler's Confession and Ours - Fr. Jerry Pokorsky, The Catholic Thing

How Equality Is Misleading - M.E. Bradford, Imaginative Conservative

Pippin’s Pain, Providence, & Plot Lines - Dwight Longenecker, Imaginative Conservative

Trump...Always Been a Wannabe Mussolini - Charles C.W. Cooke, NRO

February 27, 2016

Recovering Conservative Reading

If we are truly to call ourselves "conservatives," and mean anything by the term, then we must look not only to authors of the moment (Beck, Levin, etc. - such as they are conservative, that is), but to authors of our tradition. Russell Kirk, in his book The Conservative Mind (executive summary here) , sought to trace the intellectual history of conservatism, beginning with Edmund Burke, and moving forwards in time from there. With that in mind, I have listed below some conservative authors (some likely who could also be placed in the "classical liberal" camp) who repay reading. From each author, I have included a quote to whet your appetite.

1. Edmund Burke

There is a sort of enthusiasm in all projectors, absolutely necessary for their affairs, which makes them proof against the most fatiguing delays, the most mortifying disappointments, the most shocking insults; and, what is severer than all, the presumptuous judgement of the ignorant upon their designs. An account of the European Settlements in America (1757).

2. John Randolph of Roanoke

I am an aristocrat. I love liberty; I hate equality.

3. Fisher Ames

Despotism lies at the door; when they tyranny of the majority leads to chaos, society will submit to rule by the sword.

4. John Adams

Tis impossible to judge with much Præcision of the true Motives and Qualities of human Actions, or of the Propriety of Rules contrived to govern them, without considering with like Attention, all the Passions, Appetites, Affections in Nature from which they flow. An intimate Knowledge therefore of the intellectual and moral World is the sole foundation on which a stable structure of Knowledge can be erected. Letter to Jonathan Sewall

5. John Calhoun

Now, as individuals differ greatly from each other, in intelligence, sagacity, energy, perseverance, skill, habits of industry and economy, physical power, position and opportunity,—the necessary effect of leaving all free to exert themselves to better their condition, must be a corresponding inequality between those who may possess these qualities and advantages in a high degree, and those who may be deficient in them.

6. Alexis de Tocqueville

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood; it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided that they think of nothing but rejoicing.

7. J.F. Cooper (yes, that one)

Equality is no where laid down as a governing principle of the institutions of the United States, neither the word, nor any inference that can be fairly deduced from its meaning, occurring in the constitution. As respect the states, themselves, the professions of an equality of rights are more clear, and slavery excepted, the intention in all their governments is to maintain it, as far as practicable, though equality of condition is no where mentioned, all political economists knowing that it is unattainable, if, indeed, it be desirable. Desirable in practice, it can hardly be, since the result would be to force all down to the level of the lowest.

8. E.L. Godwin

The state has lost completely, in the eyes of the multitude, the moral and intellectual authority it once possessed. It does not any longer represent God on earth. In democratic countries it represents the party which secured most votes at the last election, and is, in many cases, administered by men whom no one would make guardians of his children or trustees of his property.

9. Irving Babbit

For behind all imperialism is ultimately the imperialistic individual, just as behind all peace is ultimately the peaceful individual.

10. Paul Elmer More

For, when everything is said, there could be no civilized society were it not that deep in our hearts, beneath all the turbulences of greed and vanity, abides the instinct of obedience to what is noble and of good repute. It awaits only the clear call from above.

11. M.E. Bradford

For the Agrarians, the measure of any economic or political system was its human product. Goods, services, and income are, to this way of thinking, subsidiary to the basic cultural consideration, the overall form of life produced. Of course, the Agrarians were anti-egalitarian. They knew the abstract drive toward Equality . . . to be the mortal enemy of the patriarchy. And thus they agreed that, though some have providentially five or three or only one talent, every man should be encouraged to become as independent as he can be.

12. Richard Weaver

The man of culture finds the whole past relevant; the bourgeois and the barbarian find relevant only what has some pressing connection with their appetite.

13. Russell Kirk

In any society, order is the first need of all. Liberty and justice may be established only after order is tolerably secure. But the libertarians give primacy to an abstract liberty. Conservatives, knowing that "liberty inheres in some sensible object," are aware that true freedom can be found only within the framework of a social order, such as the constitutional order of these United States. In exalting an absolute and indefinable "liberty" at the expense of order, the libertarians imperil the very freedoms they praise.

14. Whittaker Chambers

When you understand what you see, you will no longer be children. You will know that life is pain, that each of us hangs always upon the cross of himself. And when you know that this is true of every man, woman and child on earth, you will be wiser.

15. Willmoore Kendall

The idea of natural right is not so easily reducible to the equality clause, and there are better ways of demonstrating the possibility of self-government than imposing one's views concerning natural right upon others. In this light it would seem that it was the Southerners who were the anti-Caesars of pre-Civil War days, and that Lincoln was the Caesar Lincoln claimed to be trying to prevent; and that the Caesarism we all need to fear is the contemporary Liberal movement, dedicated like Lincoln to egalitarian reforms sanctioned by mandates emanating from national majorities, a [Civil Rights] movement which is Lincoln's legitimate offspring. In a word, it would seem that we had best learn to live up to the Framers before we seek to transcend them.

CathCon Saturday - 2/27/2016

Working Is the Best Antidote for Poverty - Sherk & Winfree, National Interest

Who Wrote Tom Clancy’s Last Novels? - Bradley Birzer, Imaginative Conservative

Should Democrats Fear Trump? - Ross Douthat, NYT

Trump University was a Massive Scam - Ian Tuttle, NRO

Branches Strike Back Against Obama’s Overreach - George Will, NYT

What I Learned By Going Back to College - Jane Shaw, Pope Center

Beyond New Urbanism - Rick Harrison, New Geography

Poor Who Need Property Rights the Most - Donald Devine, Liberty Law Blog

The Big Short Goes Long on Bias - John McGinnis, Liberty Law Blog

Populist Revival? - Caleb Stegall, Front Porch Republic

The Violent Wisdom of Flannery O’Connor - Joseph Pearce, Imaginative Conservative

Robert’s Rules Of Bureaucracy - Emily Domenech, The Federalist

February 26, 2016

February 24, 2016

Trump and Evangelicals and the Electorate - Meandering Musings

Long ago the people shed their anxieties, ever since we do not sell our votes to anyone. For the people—who once conferred imperium, symbols of office, legions, everything—now hold themselves in check and anxiously desire only two things, the grain dole and chariot races in the Circus - Juvenal, Satires 10.77-81
Question 167. Curiosity, Article 2, Reply to Objection 2: Sight-seeing becomes sinful, when it renders a man prone to the vices of lust and cruelty on account of things he sees represented. Hence Chrysostom says [Hom. vi in Matth.] that such sights make men adulterers and shameless. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
      I have had this odd yearning lately for a mountain-side cabin in Canada someplace. Or maybe, in a slightly wooded vale someplace removed from civilization. Own a goat-herd, perhaps keep bees and raise rabbits....maybe off "Old Goat River Road" or something like.

      I say this because I have had a sneaking suspicious during the course of the Republican primaries that a good number of my fellow citizens are completely off their rockers. I have been pondering the exit polling from South Carolina, particularly taken from Evangelicals, who comprise a good portion of the state's Christian population. Most of the polls statements look roughly like this:
But by Saturday evening it was too late; South Carolina had voted and Bush had managed to win only 7 percent of evangelicals. Instead, a plurality — 34 percent — went for Donald Trump, about the same share as the state’s GOP primary voters overall. 
According to the Edison Research/National Election Pool, evangelicals even chose Trump over contenders like Marco Rubio (21 percent) and Ted Cruz (26 percent) who frequently cite their Christian backgrounds as a guidepost.
Now wait a moment. 34% of Evangelicals. Ponder that. Let's assume for a moment that the website "National Association of Evangelicals" is a safe bet for an accurate "Statement of Faith." More extensively, the "Evangelical Manifesto" expands on the themes in that Statement. Read through the Manifesto. It is shot through with the idea that "The Gospel of Jesus is the Good News of welcome, forgiveness, grace, and liberation from law and legalism;" p. 8.

      The combination of the Manifesto and the polling seems to indicate that 34% of Evangelicals are more than happy to be voting for a man who has stated, multiple times, variants of the following:
I like to be good. I don't like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don't do a lot of things that are bad. I try to do nothing that is bad.
And these are not ancient history - this particular statement seems to have been made in January, 2016! Combine this with multiple divorces, at least one affair, and multiple bankruptcies, and one must wonder about Evangelical preferences.

      What can this mean? I think there are several, not necessarily mutually exclusive, explanations to consider here. One is the idea forwarded by sociologist Christian Smith over several of his books, namely that individuals currently under the age of 35 (or so) do not necessarily know or care about the content of their own (or others') religious belief. For such people, Trump's statement that he believes in God and he believes he is a good person would be quite enough. As Smith noted about teenagers in 2005, they believed in "moralistic therapeutic deism," and therefore:
The language—and therefore experience—of Trinity, holiness, sin, grace, justification, sanctification, church, Eucharist, and heaven and hell appear, among most Christian teenagers in the United States at the very least, to be being supplanted by the language of happiness, niceness, and an earned heavenly reward. It is not so much that Christianity in the United States is being secularized. Rather more subtly, either Christianity is at least degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, Christianity is actively being colonized and displaced by a quite different religious faith.
These teenagers are, now (of course) the 25+ year old voters, who have not changed the MTD for a more traditional Christianity, no matter what they may call themselves (Catholic, Evangelical, etc.). Divorces, affairs, and financial woes may simply fall under a general rubric of "non-judgmentalism."

      Another explanation is that many of the Evangelical voters are first-time voters, and have grown tired of politic-speak. Even Cruz, to them, sounds too much like a member of the system. They have oriented, therefore, to a man who says whatever he wants, to whomever he wants, however he wants, without repercussions. Moreover, he is the ultimate individual cowboy - does not care who he rides over, does not care about contradicting himself, and appears to be completely self-made. He embodies American "do it on my own" individualism with a "f**k you" attitude.

     Finally, as I indicated at the beginning, I suspect there is some component of "politics by entertainment" (or "entertainment by politics") going on. Trump is, more than anything else publicly, a "personality." Whatever else he may have been, he is well known from talk shows, "Celebrity Apprentice," and from various news articles on marriages, divorces, etc. People are used to him - in a way, he's been running a campaign his entire adult life - he has more media exposure, more "comfort," more "that." I am reminded of the defeat of Frank Skeffington by Kevin McCluskey in Edwin O'Connor's book "The Last Hurrah." In essence, Skeffington, an old "machine" politician, is beaten by McCluskey due to the latter's skill with television advertising. Trump is a master of media, having been faced with it his whole life. Those who can manipulate media can manipulate their own image. He can be many things to many people - even reversing himself (lying?) about his statements and beliefs, and aided in this by a news feed he is well aware is dedicated to instantaneous update and forgetting the past. To reference Deneen again, the young are educated to be "like mayflies, alive by happenstance in a fleeting present."

      I am not entirely sure whether it is one, or many of these things, but my intuition says that it is, in some measure, all of them at once, making for an electorate ready to support this candidate, no matter how ridiculous he may actually be, or how toxic he may prove for this Republic..what's left of it...

CathCon Daily - 2/24/2016

NSF in Climate Denial? - Patrick J. Michaels, Cato

Eight Is Enough (for Now) - Jeffrey H. Anderson, Weekly Standard

After Justice Scalia - George Weigel, First Things

Nationalism and Populism Propel Trump - Patrick J. Buchanan, Human Events

Don't Rush to Declare Brain Death - Wesley J. Smith, NRO

The Problem of Criminal Sentencing - Bruce Frohnen, Nomocracy in Politics

Rubio - Kasich Revisited - Ross Douthat, NYT

Who Knew Honesty Could Work? - Matthew D. Wright, Public Discourse

Marco Rubio Would be an Election Day Disaster - Paul Zummo, The American Catholic

If NYC Went Forward With Letting Illegal Immigrants Vote - Hans von Spakovsky, Daily Signal

What John Oliver Got Wrong About Abortion Laws - Sara Torre, Daily Signal

The New Ivy League Lynch Mobs - Brendan O'Neill, NRO

February 23, 2016

A Challenge for Clarification to Dr. Tollefsen

Today, on The Public Discourse (a blog I admire), Christopher Tollefsen discusses Pope Francis's presser comments on contraception and the Zika virus. This is a topic much in the news since the comment was made. Tollefsen is an author and professor of philosophy, who wrote a book called, "Lying and Christian Ethics." His reasoning is usually clear, and meaning, precise.

With that said, I would like to take issue with something he argues in this particular piece. Tollefsen makes a side-argument concerning use of contraception in the event of a sexual assault. As far as I can tell, this is Tollefsen's reasoning:
  1. Someone being attacked may be attacked solely by bodily contact (a punch), or via longer-effecting means (a bullet lodged due to a firearm).
  2. An individual being attacked has the right to defend herself, whether through opposing force, or by having the offending bullet (for example) removed.
  3. Unwanted sperm in the body due to a sexual attack constitute a continuing attack - they are there not as a result of "one flesh union" but as an invasion.
  4. Therefore, following the principal of double effect, the woman may take steps to prevent pregnancy - in his words: "rape victims can, and should, intend only the repelling or destruction of sperm, or the suppression of ovulation, as a means of defense."
Now, assuming this is accurate, it would seem to either have implications far beyond rape, or it creates a new philosophical definition of rape which ceases to have any relationship to consent. Here's my thinking:
  1. In his "Theology of the Body," audience of 27 October 1982 John Paul II states that the words of Paul in Ephesians 5 "have a significance for marriage in which man and woman unite so that the two become 'one flesh,' according to the expression of Genesis (2:24)."
  2. Therefore, and according to most of the other literature available on Theology of the Body, the idea of "one flesh" is committed to those in marital union. There is no "one flesh" union outside of marriage.
  3.  If this is the case, does every instance of intercourse outside of marriage constitute rape?
Therefore, if all non-one-flesh intercourse is rape, are all women who have extramarital unions (consensual or not) permitted to use methods to stop the sperm?

Other questions Mr. Tollefsen's article poses:
  1. When does consent change the nature of the continuing attack? And can it be revoked? Let's say a man attempts to seduce his wife, but she rejects him. He waits until she has a couple glasses of scotch, falls asleep, and then has sex with her. Does that constitute lack of consent, and is the woman justified in using sperm-destructive or anti-ovulative methods to stop his sperm?
  2. Say the woman is upset about what he did, does not use these sperm-destructive, etc. methods, and later finds out she is pregnant. Has this ceased to be a continuing attack? Why or why not?
Let's pose a slightly different scenario: suppose the wife drugs the husband or gets him drunk when he was unwilling, and then forces sex with him while he is drunk. Is he later justified in forcing her to kill his sperm? Why or why not?


A Twitterer asks me why I ask, as it seems to him that Tollefsen explicitly limits the double-effect use of sperm destruction / non-ovulation ("SDNO"?) to "violent non-conjugal acts." Tollefsen does make explicit the foundation of his reasoning in the violent act of rape. Moreover, he notes:
This form of invasion is unique, for it comes to fruition as an invasion in the same event that sexual intercourse comes to fruition as a one flesh union, namely, the penetration of the ovum by a sperm.
He seems to make a distinction here between "invasion" and "one flesh union." As noted above, one flesh union is a reference to the act of consensual intercourse within marriage. Presumably, invasion he would define as as "the act of ejaculation in side the woman during sexual intercourse accomplished through violent means."

My concern here is whether "violent" and "non-consensual" are always congruent in this reasoning. Is sex between one drunk (therefore, impaired consent) and one sober individual violent? And following, whether non-consensual, though marital, intercourse also qualifies for this principle?

CathCon Daily - 2/23/2016

President Trump Would Be A Bigger Disaster Than Hillary - David Harsanyi, The Federalist

Beauty of Fr. Scalia's Funeral Homily - Michael Pakaluk, Crisis

Transgender War Against Human Rights, Science, Consent - Moribito & Pullman, The Federalist

Tell it Like it is? Here you go. - Matt Walsh, The Blaze

Judges Say Catholic Network...Must Cover Contraceptives - Marina Barillas, Daily Signal

The Case for Rubio-Kasich - Ross Douthat, NYT

Pope Francis and the Zika Virus - Christopher O. Tollefsen, Public Discourse

Sketches of Nino - Hadley Arkes, Public Discourse

Why Music is an Essential Liberal Art - Peter Kalkavage, Imaginative Conservative

February 21, 2016

The Modern Education Proposition

I have recently (with some reservations) rejoined the Twitter universe. I have found that following people with hashtags related to "Take Back America," "Molon Labe," "I support Israel," "Christian," or "Christ is Lord," results in a "Who to follow" list that is never ending. Younger Christians, older Christians, Millennials, Cruzites, Rubioistas, Trumpkins, Bushies...they're everywhere.

A great many of these individuals are given over to visual memes and short, punchy, "take it back" messages. But then, this is the nature of Twitter - visual memes and short, punchy, messages. It is not designed for "substantial" argument in any measure, and seems more appropriate as a proving ground for mutations on logical fallacies.

It is perhaps a measure of the times that, aside from the usual political cartoons and memes, the political figure I see oft quoted by conservatives is Thomas Paine. Two quotes from Paine seem the most used (abused?), namely:

It is also a measure of the times in which we live that the first quote is likely spurious, having been lifted from the writings of an American "anarchist, environmentalist and novelist" named Edward Abbey. As for the second, I suspect it is also spurious. I ran a search here and here, and found nothing. Well, nothing, that is, older than 1997 or so, when I suspect this quote likely originated....at least on the internet, if Google can be believed (a stretch, I know). Jefferson is equally likely to abuse. One meme which just appeared on my Twitter feed states "The greatest danger to American freedom is a government which ignores the Constitution." While attributed to Jefferson, it is equally a spurious quote, which one site believes appeared in 2015.

All this is not to say that genuine quotes from any given person do not appear on Twitter - which it IS to say is that the individuals posting these memes seem not to care whether they are genuine or not. It is sufficient that the meme expresses some sentiment of the moment, and bolsters that sentiment with a reference to authority.

Recently, on the site "Minding the Campus," Patrick Deneen published a post entitled "How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture." Therein, Deneen describes experiences with his students and their lack of knowledge of Western History (broadly defined). Deneen laments that, while the students are pleasant enough and may have accidental knowledge of a variety of topics:
We have fallen into the bad and unquestioned habit of thinking that our educational system is broken, but it is working on all cylinders. What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like “critical thinking,” “diversity,” “ways of knowing,” “social justice,” and “cultural competence.”
Most of the essay resonated strongly with me, in teaching myself and in knowing many other professors. However, what particularly made me think was the "wholesale lack of curiosity." While Deneen describes students where he has taught (Notre Dame, Princeton, Georgetown), the lack of curiosity he describes is widespread. I think that this lack is sourced in our basic education system (K - 12), and definitely continued by post-secondary education.

Once one considers the widespread lack of curiosity, I think one is led inexorably to the profusion of spurious quotes and logical fallacies which pervade Twitter (as well as the explanation for the increasing popularity of Twitter, Vine, Snapchat, and other "instant" forms of communication). If modern education is completely set against older history, it is also engaged in eradication of more recent history - time spans measured in months and years, not necessarily decades. How else to explain the rise of the modern politician, who can, without effort, explain (away) beliefs, statements, and actions completely contrary to those espoused in the moment? The answer is that, with some exception, few care about what was said a month, a year, a decade, ago. As Deneen notes, "They have learned exactly what we have asked of them – to be like mayflies, alive by happenstance in a fleeting present."

This occurrence affects both conservatives and progressives, though progressives seem to embrace it, and conservatives are unsure as to how to stop it. I think that the oft-spurious citations to authority are an attempt by conservatives to hearken back to some cultural heritage - to some idea of limitation and history. Unfortunately, too often, being educated in the school system designed to "to sand off remnants of any cultural or historical specificity and identity that might still stick to our students" (Deneen), many conservatives are left without enough curiosity and attention to even check the sources, to read The Federalist Papers, the Constitution, famous court cases, etc. And therefore, we are left solely with expressions of sentiment in their raw form, without expansion of those sentiments formed by centuries of deliberation and debate.

So, in the end, we see (once again) C.S. Lewis's predictive powers in action. To quote from "The Abolition of Man":
The final stage will have come when “humanity” has obtained full control over itself. “Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to Man.” The ruling minority will have become a caste of Conditioners, people “who really can cut out posterity in what shape they please.” From this moment onward, the human conscience will work the way humans want it to work – that is, the way wanted by the Conditioners. What are the Conditioners going to want in conditioning our consciences, and, indeed, how are they going to want anything? Human ideas about good and evil, duty and taboo, are among the things for them to decide about and therefore cannot serve as a ground for their decision. All motives for human action have become objects of choice and manipulation by Conditioners; so the Conditioners themselves are left without any motives. Unless they stop moving and acting at all, they must become prey to any force that just happens to put them in motion – in other words, to irrational, natural impulses. And since their power is perfectly effective, the human race will for the rest of its existence be subjected to such forces of nature as happen to have acted upon the Conditioners. Man’s conquest of Nature will have brought about Nature’s conquest of Man: the Abolition of Man.

CathCon Weekend Edition - 2/21/2016

Campus Crybullies Explained - Jennifer Kabbany, NRO

God of the Depressed - Stephen Webb, First Things

Conscience Rights and the Hypocrisy of (Some) Lawyers - John Breen, Mirror of Justice

Should We Apologize for the Crusades? - Bruce Frohnen, Imaginative Conservative

Treat Pro Athletes More Like Teachers - Matt Barnum, The 74

How Teachers Can Earn Millions - Jason Bedrick, Cato

What is Social Justice? - George Marlin, The Catholic Thing

Does American Exceptionalism Mean Worshiping The State? - Douglas Baker, The Federalist

Trumpageddon! - R.R. Reno, First Things

Cruz Crashes and the Rubio Temptation - Peter Spiliakos, NRO

Cruz Campaign Tactics Can’t Be TrusTED - Deroy Murdock, NRO

February 20, 2016


Having reminisced on strings a bit in my previous post, I turn to one of my most favorite sections, the brass section. From middle school through college, I played various instruments in the brass family, including trumpet, tuba, and horn. However, I focused most of my time on the lesser-know euphonium (and it's relative, the baritone). The euphonium is a smaller cousin to the tuba (resembling also a saxhorn), usually with 3 or 4 valves (usually piston, but also rotary in some versions).

There is not a great deal of orchestra repertoire for the euphonium, though they are common in wind ensembles (and especially in brass bands). However, with development of the solo / ensemble combination videos on YouTube, you can find many players experimenting. So, for instance, this individual recording the opening to "Pirates of the Caribbean," or this one. Or, with a recorded ensemble, this example of a rotary euphonium playing "Let it Go."

With all of that said, there are (of course) many other instruments in the brass family and many (many) other pieces. As with strings, it would be difficult to pick any one piece "typical" of the family. Therefore, I will pick a few of my favorites featuring brass alone, along with brass-heavy pieces.

I played a version of the below in college, and absolutely loved it. It's from an arrangement of pieces by Tielman Susato collectively called "The Danserye".

Many of the pieces I will discuss are those I (naturally) have some familiarity with from college playing. During college, I was lucky enough to play one semester with the orchestra when they needed a euphonium player for Holst's "The Planets," which is one of the few orchestral pieces to feature a euphonium - particularly in "Mars, the Bringer of War." Here is the Charles Dutoit and Montreal Symphony track of the entirety of "Mars:"

Without knowing the sounds, however, it is difficult to pick out the euphonium. Here is an example of the euphonium parts (particularly around 1:40):

Holst is a composer known for his "standards" for wind ensemble. Two important pieces constantly played by ensembles are his 1st Suite in Eb and 2nd Suite in F, both for military band. The first is here:

More familiar to most people are the movie scores of John Williams and James Horner, often which both feature "big" and prominent brass sections. For example, here is a nice compilation of some of Williams' scores:

James Horner (who recently died) was also a well-known composer of score ranging from Star Trek:II to Avatar to The Rocketeer, and many others. He is not quite as brass heavy as Williams, but he definitely knew how to use the section. For example:

There are, of course, many other movie composers who excel at brass. I'd like to take a quick turn to another composer now, namely Mussorgsky. His work "Pictures at an Exhibition," composed based on artworks by a friend, was originally written for piano. However, many famous composers have orchestrated it, most notably Ravel. Either on piano or orchestrated, the final movement "The Great Gate at Kiev," is stunningly beautiful. On piano, by Evgeny Kissin, is amazing (watch his hands and facial expressions). Orchestrated, played by any number of orchestras in recordings, is simply breathtaking:


The Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods produced any number of composers (like Susato, above) skilled with composing for brass, and I would like to highlight a couple now. Note that these composers are also known for other works. First, Handel (composed for winds, not just brass):

Second, Monteverdi:

Third, Gabrieli:

Finally, Haydn:

Finally, I'd like to highlight two other modern composers, one well known and one less well known. First, the composer Aaron Copland, with a quintessentially "American" sound, and his "Fanfare for the Common Man:"


And second, the composer Alan Hovhaness, and his "Prayer of St. Gregory:"


Strings, Strings, Strings

I recently visited Gramophone magazine's "Editor's Choice Recordings" (latest here). I have used these reviews to expand my Spotify repertoire (as well as find new recordings of pieces I know and appreciate, already).

One of the recordings I recently encountered through my explorations on Gramophone is a compilation of works by Johann Joseph Vilsmayr, Johann Georg Pisendel, and Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, featuring violinist Vaughan Jones on violin. I have always enjoyed the Bach Suites for Solo Cello (example), and I find the Vilsmayr to be in the same beautiful vein on violin.

Listening to the Vilsmayr and the Bach Suites put me in the mind of solo cello again. So, running some searches, I found this page by cellist Elinor Frey on various solo cello pieces that promise to "make you forget the Bach cello suites." While I did not find that they quite did that, there are some beautiful works there. Of those listed, I think I enjoyed the Passa Galli the most. I've embedded a YouTube link to it below.

Considering strings at greater length, I've reminisced a bit on one of the first string pieces (other than the Bach Suites) which really struck me, namely Boccherini's "Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid."I first heard it watching "Master and Commander" and immediately bought the soundtrack so I could hear it again. Interestingly, on the CD, the music is performed by professionals. And, there are excellent recordings with different treatments of it. For instance, here is one with a larger ensemble (I think):

Particularly beautiful (and interesting re: my next video) is the part starting around 7:50. Take a listen now before the next video.

Now, for the movie "Master and Commander," Russell Crow learned the violin well enough to play various pieces in the role of Captain Jack Aubrey. One of those pieces is the section of the Boccherini quintet called "Passa Calle" (heard here in excerpt). Crowe and his co-star (or at least Crowe) play the piece in duet here:

I hope you've enjoyed my reminisces among the strings. There are, of course, massive amounts of repertoire, of which I have touched upon less than .01% (probably less). Use Gramophone, use YouTube, use movie soundtracks and Spotify and Pandora, but do listen!


I was listening to Eric Whitacre today, a modern composer, and ran across (again) his "The River Cam." I believe Julian Lloyd Webber is the cellist, and it repays a listen.

February 19, 2016

CathCon Daily - 2/19/2016

Getting it Right with the Constitution - Pete Spiliakos, First Things

The Tom Wolfe Of Law - Andrew Geisler, The Federalist

The Collapse of Gender Sanity - Rachel Lu, Public Discourse

Trump Speaks for those Bush Betrayed - J.D. Vance, USA Today

A Man for Our Season - David Warren, The Catholic Thing

The State of Nature & the Soul of Man - Christopher Morrissey, Imaginative Conservative

The Rise of Intolerant Liberals - Kim Holmes, Daily Signal

Cut The Crap, Apple, And Open Syed Farook’s iPhone - Gabriel Malor, The Federalist

If The FBI Can Make Apple Open Syed Farook’s iPhone... - Brandon Morse, The Federalist

Risen Rises Above Most Faith-Based Films - Monica Miller, Crisis

February 17, 2016

Cruz the Prophet

I have told most people that I cannot support Trump, either in the primaries or (if it comes down to it) the general election. However, until recently, I was firmly in the Ted Cruz camp. I have found myself generally in agreement with his presidential platform. With that said, I am less enamored of Cruz by the day, and soon may find myself underwhelmed enough to depart from that camp as well.

What has recently disenchanted me with Cruz have been his public statements which seem to invoke God in ways which implicitly or explicitly link the idea of his election and the restoration (or creation) of some form of Christian state. For instance, Cruz recently told a crowd in S.C. that the answer to radical jihadists is not to "tweet insults at them" but to "unleash the holy wrath of the United States." Cruz mentioned that his camp could win the presidency if they  "awaken and energize the body of Christ– if Christians and people of faith come out and vote our values– we will win and we will turn the country around." He also noted that the campaign will likely be attacked and that his volunteers and staff should "to get ready, strap on the full armor of God."

Now, admittedly, being Catholic, I think the phrase "Body of Christ" has a very specific meaning, and it is a phrase which I cannot throw around lightly. Cruz, as a Southern Baptist, has very ideas regarding the meaning of the "Body of Christ," specifically (I think) to the members of the Christian community.

However, the prophetic overtones of this language, the vague (sometimes less vague) identification of his candidacy with "the Christian one," and the identification of the United States military mission with unleashing "holy wrath," are all souring me on Cruz rather quickly. I have grown tired of the cult of personality, which is what much of our politics seems to revolve around, but I am more tired of Christian politicians who sound rather like the marriage of an evangelical preacher, Old Testament prophet, and a patriot nostalgic for days that never were.

I understand he may be making a play for certain voting communities. He may lose my own vote in the process.

CathCon Daily - 2/17/2016

The War After Scalia - Ross Douthat, NYT

Harder for Republicans to Confirm a “Moderate” - John McGinnis, Liberty Law Blog

Antonin Scalia and Natural Law - Hadley Arkes, NRO

Have We Finally Reached Peak Transgender? - Walt Heyer, The Federalist

Clinton, Sanders, and Progressivism - Walter Williams, Human Events

ISIS, Genocide, and Us - George Weigel, First Things

Scalia’s PGA Tour Dissent Exemplifies His Legacy - Ian Gunn, The Federalist

How “Progress” Led to the Dehumanization of Man - Michael Quinlan, Crisis

Eric Voegelin’s Gnosticism - Bradley Birzer, Imaginative Conservative

Newman and the Idea of the University, 2.0 - James Patterson, Public Discourse

Here’s My Take on Kids Who Think They Are Transgender - Walt Heyer, Daily Signal

What Has Conservatism Ever Done for Us? - Charles C.W. Cooke, NRO

February 16, 2016

CathCon Daily - 2/16/2016

Do You Really Want Trump Choosing Next Justice? - David Bernstein, Volokh

Skills First - Milton Ezrati, City Journal

The Havana Declaration - Cyril Hovorun, First Things

Is the Republican Party Splitting Apart? - Bruce Frohnen, Imaginative Conservative

The End of Ideas in American Politics? - Mark Malvasi, Imaginative Conservative

What Would Our Ancestors Think of Us? - Anthony Esolen, Crisis

The Dangers of Contemporary “Authoritarianism” - John M. Grondelski, Crisis

Called to Unity - Andriy Chriovsky, First Things

On Wrath and Anger - James V. Schall, The Catholic Thing

We Now Join the U.S. Class War in Progress - Joel Kotkin, New Geography

Antonin Scalia: An American Originalist - Robert P. George, Public Discourse

February 13, 2016

In Honor of Justice Scalia

Lux Eterna - Morten Lauridsen

Another one that crosses my playlists...

Lux Aeterna

I. Introitus

Requiem Aeternam dona eis, domine:
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus Deus in Zion
et tibi redetur votum
in Jerusalem:
exaudi orationem mean,
ad te omnis caro veniet.
Requiem Aeternam Dona eis, Domine:
et lux perpetua luceat eis

rest eternal grant to them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them
A hymn befits thee, O God in Sion.
and to thee a vow shall be fulfilled
in Jerusalem:
Hear my prayer,
for unto thee all flesh shall come.
Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

II. In Te, domine, Speravi

Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem
non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu devicto mortis aculeo,
aperuisti credentibus regna coelorum.
Exprtum est in tenebris lumen rectis.
Miserere nostri, Domine
miserere nostri.
Fiat misericordia tua, domine, super nos
quemadmodum speravimus in te.
In te domine, speravi:
non confundar in aeternum.

To deliver us, you became human,
and did not disdain the virgin's womb.
having blunted the sting of death, You
Opened the Kingdom of heaven to all believers.
A light has risen in the darkness for the upright.
have mercy upon us, O Lord,
Have mercy upon us.
Let thy mercy be upon us, O Lord,
as we have trusted in thee.
In thee, O Lord, I have trusted
let me never be confounded.

III. O Nata Lux

O nata lux de lumine,
jesu redemptor saeculi,
dignare clemens supplicum
Laudes preces que sumere.
Qui carne quondam contegi
dignatus es pro perditis.
Nos membra confer effici,
tui beati corporis.

O born light of light,
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
mercifully deem worthy and accept
the praises and prayers of your supplicants.
thou who once deigned to be clothed in flesh
for the sake of the lost ones.
grant us to be made members
of your holy body.

IV. Veni, Sancte Spiritus

veni, Sancte Spiritus,
Et emitte coelitus
Lucis tuae radium.
Veni, pater pauperum,
Veni, dator munerum,
Veni, lumen cordium.

Come, Holy spirit,
send forth from heaven
the ray of thy light
come, Father of the poor
Come, giver of gifts
come, light of hearts.

Consolator optime, Dulcis hospes animae,
Dulce refrigerim.
In labore ruquies,
In aestu temperies,
In fletu solatium.

Thou best of consolers,
Sweet guest of the soul
Sweet refreshment.
In labor, thou art rest,
In heat, the tempering,
In grief, the consolation.

O lux beatissima,
Reple cordis intima
Tuorum fidelium.
Sine tuo numine
Nihil est in homnie,
Nihil est innoxium.

O light most blessed,
fill the inmost heart
of all thy faithful
without your grace,
there is nothing in us,
Nothing that is not harmful.

lava quod est sordidum,
Riga quod est aridum.
Sana quod est sucium.
Flecte quod est rigidum,
Fove quod est frigidum
Rege quod est devium.

cleanse what is sordid,
moisten what is arid,
heal what is hurt
flex what is rigid
fire what is frigid
correct what goes astray

Da tuis fidelibus,
In te confidentibus,
Sacrum septenarium.
Da virtutis meritum,
Da salutis exitum,
Da perenne gaudium.

Grant to thy faithful,
those trusting in thee,
thy sacred seven-fold gifts
Grant the reward of virtue
Grant the deliverance of salvation
grant everlasting joy.

V. Agnus Dei - Lux Aeterna

Agnus Dei,
qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona eis requiem.

Lamb of god,
who taketh away the sins of the world,
grant them rest

Agnus Dei,
qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona eis requiem.

Lamb of god,
who takest away the sins of the world,
grant them rest

Agnus Dei,
qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona es requiem sempiternam

Lamb of god,
who takest away the sins of the world,
grant them rest everlasting.

Lux aeterna luceat eis, domine:
cum sanctis tuis in aeternum:
quia pius es.

Light eternal shine upon them. O Lord
in the company of thy Saints forever
for thou art merciful.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et Lux perpetua luceat eis.

Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Alleluia. Amen.

RIP Justice Antonin Scalia

O God of spirits and of all flesh, Who hast trampled down death and overthrown the Devil, and given life to Thy world, do Thou, the same Lord, give rest to the soul of Thy departed servant in a place of brightness, a place of refreshment, a place of repose, where all sickness, sighing, and sorrow have fled away. Pardon every transgression which he has committed, whether by word or deed or thought. For Thou art a good God and lovest mankind; because there is no man who lives yet does not sin, for Thou only art without sin, Thy righteousness is to all eternity, and Thy word is truth.

For Thou are the Resurrection, the Life, and the Repose of Thy servants who have fallen asleep, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever unto ages of ages. Amen.

Some Classical (Loosely Speaking) Music

When I ask most people about their musical tastes, the response, with little variance, is "Almost everything except...." Usually, the "except," is country, rap, metal, or the like. It is surprising to me, at first, that most people do include classical music in their likes. When I say "classical," here, I am referring to symphonic or polyphonic music, generally. Most people, I suspect, think of Romantic composers, or Baroque, when they think "classical." However, inquiring more deeply, most of the time, people hem and haw, and usually respond with something to the effect of "Well, I like to listen to it when I study," or "I listen to it on the radio sometimes."

I try to steer such people to some classical they might enjoy, but that is also edifying in the sense of expanding their musical horizons. I have had some minor success, but the majority of people (I suspect) never bother. So, in the interest of connecting with my readers (some of whom might enjoy this music), I will post a few links here to music that regularly crosses my cans. Of course, that list could range into the hundreds of tracks, so this is really just a small sampling.

Appalachian Spring - Aaron Copland

Ralph Vaughn Williams - Oboe Concerto

Ralph Vaughn Williams - Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Thomas Tallis - Spem in Alium (now unfortunately associated with 50 Shades of Stupid)

James Horner - Glory (excerpt below, but the whole score is...stunning.)

Capella Romana - Byzantine Chant

Benedictine Monks of Nursia - Ave Maria (part information; part music)

Chanticleer - Reproaches & Trisagion (Popule Meus)

Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major

PDQ Bach - 1712 Overturn (Yes - it's...spoofy)

February 12, 2016

Ted Cruz and the Porn Star

Yes, you read that right. The Twitter- and Yahoo-verses are all atwitter..because, apparently, a woman who was cast in a Ted Cruz campaign ad used to be a "softcore porn" model. After discovering this, the Cruz campaign yanked the ad and is doing "damage control."

Now, I am not at all in favor of porn - whether the "we're all naked here and doing things in strange positions" to (formerly) Playboy, to Maxim, etc. - I think it's all corrosive.

With that said, I think the Cruz campaign, caught in an apparent misstep, could well have spun this to it's great benefit, and done so in a way that would have given him a boost in many places, and cemented his moral reasoning as well.

Let me explain.

Let's begin with the idea that there is some truth behind the idea that some women go into porn because they are beautiful, but out of work, actresses. There are, likely, a myriad of reasons women go into porn, but let's go with this one for now. This particular actress, Amy Lindsay, is described, at least through Wikipedia, as "an American actress and former softcore pornographic film performer." If the titles at IMDB can be believed, it looks like her current focus is attempting to get out of softcore and more into other acting, though it's hard to say that with any specificity.

So, running with this idea, this was a perfect moment for Cruz to step up and say two important things. One, that actors should be encouraged as much as possible to avoid porn and focus on better projects, and that he's very happy to pay a woman to work in political ads rather than porn. And, two, that everyone deserves a chance to do good work, and that a person isn't "tainted" in some way that her appearance in the campaign ad could damage his campaign or himself in some metaphysical way.

Instead, Cruz reacted as everyone expected - as if the former pornstar's appearance somehow was embarrassing and problematic. A wonderful "hah! gotcha right winger closed minded bigot" moment for the media, and a scurrying fear for Cruz.

Step up, Mr. Cruz. Think through this.

CathCon Daily - 2/12/2016

Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill -  Borys Gudziak, First Things

The Disconnected Establishment - R.R. Reno, First Things

Mr. Obama Visits A Mosque In Baltimore - Michael Avramovich, Touchstone

Superdelegates and Disenfranchisement - Jim Geraghty, NRO

What? (Who?) is a University? - John Schwenkler, First Things

Should Elite Universities Have Preferences for Low-Income Students? - George Leef, Pope Center

The Fundamental Issue for Climate Science - Edward R. Dougherty, Public Discourse

Papal Errors - Randall Smith, The Catholic Thing

Does Infallibility Mean the Pope’s Always Right? - Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger, The Catholic Thing

February 11, 2016

CathCon Daily - 2/11/2016

Theological Foundation of Catholic Education - James V. Schall, Crisis

Granite State Follies - Donald McClarey, American Catholic

Lee Baca's Lesson - Kevin Williamson, NRO

Liberal Case against Assisted Suicide - Wayne Miller, Public Discourse

What Babbitt Says About 2016 - Gracy Olmstead, American Conservative

New Cultural Totalitarianism - Bradley Birzer, Imaginative Conservative

The Crisis of the New Order - Richard Samuelson, Liberty Law Blog