Asking the right questions

I really haven’t followed the Shroud of Turin story much, as it’s just, like, not my bag. You know?

For those who are not very familiar with it, here’s some background:
history of the Shroud of the Turin

You should probably know that the Deputy Headmistress is an unbeliever in regards to this shroud.

However, a recent contribution to the study of the shroud did catch her interest, not so much because of the Shroud of Turin connection, but rather because of the questions it raised about asking the right questions.
Sound confusing?

Here’s the particular paragraph that pinpoints the wow factor for the Headmistress:

“The image on the Shroud is dark on a light background. Previous theories had all attempted to explain how linen could be darkened without the use of chemicals, stains, or paints. Wilson wondered if it would be possible to lighten the already dark linen, leaving only a dark image behind.”

N. D. Wilson may or may not have solved the riddle of the Shroud of Turin. The Deputy Headmistress is still, perhaps regrettably, uninterested in that question.

What she does find delightfully interesting is this demonstration of the fact that sometimes the most difficult problems we are trying to solve are only difficult because we are not asking the right questions.

To read more about Wilson’s studies, see:

Shadow Shroud

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Confidential to the Pipsqueak

…But the rest of you may read, too.
Once upon a time the Pipsqueak had a friend who had somewhat differing political views than young Squeak, and who wanted to collect silly things politicians had said. We suspect that it was really only one politico that Squeak’s friend had in mind, but no matter. We do not make political unity a matter of fellowship. We joined in the fray with delight, but soon found ourselves playing alone, as our quotes were primarily from the D. side of the playground.

With that bit of history in mind, you will understand why young Squeak should quickly click on the following link and find some interesting reading.

Bushisms or Slatisms?

Well, we can’t wait for Pip, so we share enough here to whet your appetites.
From the website:
“You would think that George W. Bush would make enough verbal gaffes that a journalist wouldn’t have to try to trick his readers into thinking that Bush is more inarticulate than he is. But Slate, under the direction of Jacob Weisberg, must come up with a Bushism of the Day to feed their feature and the cash cow of calendars and other merchandise catering to Bush-loathers. Eugene has been insightfully covering these over the last year or so.

Accordingly, on days when Bush has made no real mistakes, Slate must squeeze quotations out of context or pretend that informal, off-the-cuff speech should look on the page like edited prose.”

Incidentally, in some cases, Slate must actually take words spoken by somebody else and put them in the President’s mouth. But why are you still here? Go read the whole thing, already!

UPDATE: Broken links should be working now

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Eminent Domain

If the Common Room scholars have not been following the New London Eminent Domain case now before the Supreme Court, they should be.

Please see:
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/jeffjacoby/jj20050228.shtml

Note:
“When Bullock argues that New London wants to throw people out of their homes for the sake of ordinary economic development, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asks why that’s a problem. New London is depressed, she says; what’s wrong with trying to “build it up and get more jobs?” If the city could buy property on the open market and turn it over to a developer, wonders Justice David Souter, why can’t it use eminent domain to achieve the same end? Justice Stephen Breyer notes that there is bound to be some public benefit from almost any land taking. Isn’t that enough to satisfy the Constitution’s “public use” requirement?

It is a depressing colloquy for anyone who believes that property rights are fundamental to liberty.”

Indeed. Please read the rest, and weep and pray.

Updates: Source documents and historical background to property rights in this post
The ruling: here.
More reactions to the ruling: this post.

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Walmart

I’ve met a number of people who boycott Walmart. For our family, Walmart is about fifth in the list of places we shop. The first four stops are different thrift shops. I’ve heard that people shop at Walmart because they are greedy. Personally, I don’t see what’s greedy about wanting to live within my means, and Walmart is one of many options we use that make it possible for this family of 9 to live on a single income when that single income has not ever reached $50,000 (and is now considerably beneath that).

I ‘ve heard that Walmart needs to be boycotted because they abuse eminent domain- that legal loophole whereby local city governments confiscate private property for the public use- and then give it to another private organization for profit.

This abuse of eminent domain is a very bad thing, but it is not specific to Walmart- neither is the problem really Walmart or Home Depot or other businesses that take advantage of it- the problem here is the politicians at the city level who permit this to happen. They could stop it in its tracks if they wanted to- and it is their responsibility to the citizens of their town not to abuse imminent domain in this way.
Businesses, after all, cannot use imminent domain without the politicians’ complicity.

A city council’s responsibility is to its constituents, and by abusing their power to violate property rights, they are violating their responsibility. Boycotting Walmart will have no effect on the politicians who use imminent domain as a license to steal- they will lose nothing by this action, and can simply attempt to attract another business to the area using the same tactics. It would seem more effective to me to ‘boycott’ and recall those politicians.

I’ve been told that Wal-mart does not pay its employees a so-called living wage. I don’t think every job *ought* to pay enough to support a family. The point of hiring a worker is not to provide welfare regardless of the job done or the skills needed-
the point is to hire somebody who can do the job you need doing and make the business owner money. When he makes money, he can stay in business, buy more goods, hire more people, and keep other people employed so they can make money. But business should not be viewed as Welfare.

Not all jobs require skills that merit a living wage. Workers have a responsibility themselves to seek to develop their own skills and work ethic so that they are worth more than minimum wage to a business. Sometimes an individual will, like myself, prefer to do something else just as important- perhaps stay home and raise children. That is the choice the Headmaster and I made 22 years ago. If I need to go back into the workforce suddenly because of some family emergency, it would be a blessing if some employer chose to combine charity with business and paid me more, or helped me develop the business skills or education I would need- but this would be charity on his part, not obligatory. I would feel grateful, but I would have no business demanding those concessions. I am not _entitled_ to have somebody else subsidize my choices.

The Headmaster currently manages a business where the other employees make minimum wage. The business has a very slim profit margin- less than ten percent. The other employees do work that teenagers are able to do- in fact, they often hire teens. If the owner paid the cashiers much more, prices would go up and the stores’ customers would no longer be able to afford to patronize the business. Currently, their prices and products are friendly toward minimum wage earners, fixed income retirees, and large families like mine. These are the sorts of people who shop at the Headmaster’s business and at Walmart, and we do so in order to make ends meet.

Nobody forces the employees to work there or at Walmart. At the Headmaster’s place of employment, if the minimum wage workers wish to develop the skills necessary to pursue a better paying job, the store managers and owner think that’s great, and will even work schedules to accommodate school courses and babysitting needs. But I don’t see that any business is under any obligation to pay more than minimum wage for what is, really, a minimum skill job.

Walmart isn’t unionized, which I think is just fine. There are other similar stores where people who prefer unions can shop. I cannot afford their prices. If workers can get together and unionize, they have that freedom. But if a business can prevent it without violence, they also have that freedom. In some situations unions level the playing field, although I believe this is primarily a historical rather than current truth. In others they are simply Byzantine in their controlling, socialistic, ludicrous rules, restrictions, and controls.

I like shopping at Walmart. The other stores in my town are mostly priced outside my budget and have limited selections, and our family income is more comfortable with Walmart prices. I like being able to get so many of my needs at one store rather than having to roam all over town, expending unnecessary gas as well as unnecessary trouble and money.

And we like their dollar a yard fabric.

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Perfection

Perfection is founded entirely on the love of God: “Charity is the
bond of perfection;” and perfect love of God means the complete
union of our will with God’s: “The principal effect of love is so to
unite the wills of those who love each other as to make them will the
same things.” It follows then, that the more one unites his will
with the divine will, the greater will be his love of God.

–Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri, Uniformity with God’s Will

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