Blackadder’s Lair

The home of many a cunning plan

The Pope vs. the Dalai Lama on Sex

The video focuses pretty exclusively on the Dalia Lama’s conservative views on sex. If he’d wanted, he could have quoted various theology of the body related statements by the Pope* on sex, which would have made him seem more progressive on the subject.

I once got into an argument with a friend over my claim that Catholicism was the most pleasure friendly of the traditional religions. My reasoning was that most traditional religions place significant restrictions on pleasure seeking activities involving food, alcohol, games, dancing, etc., whereas with Catholicism such restrictions are pretty much limited to sex (there are things like Lenten fish fries, but this is pretty minor), and when it comes to sex, pretty much all of the traditional religions are, well, traditional. He wasn’t convinced, but I think this video kind of re-enforces the point.

*The program on which the clip appeared came out in 2004, so John Paul II was still Pope at the time.

(HT: Restrained Radical)

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December 15, 2008 Posted by | Catholicism, Morality | Leave a comment

Young and Unemployed

The New York Times had an editorial Monday arguing that Barack Obama ought to give attention in crafting his stimulus/public works program to the plight of teen workers. As the Times puts it:

Young people who fail to find early jobs are more likely to remain underemployed or unemployed into their 20s and beyond. The risks are compounded for low-income youth, who are more likely to leave school and have other problems when they do not find work.

According to a recent analysis by Andrew Sum, an economist at Northeastern University, the percentage of teens employed has fallen from nearly 45 percent in 2000 to about 30 percent today. That is almost 10 times the decrease for adult workers, who are increasingly taking jobs that once went to teenagers.

The situation is far worse in low-income minority areas, where the youth employment rate appears to be hovering not much above 10 percent. That will only get worse as the economy contracts. And even when the recession ends, it could take an additional two or three years before youth employment begins to recover.

More. Of course, one policy that likely contributes to teenage unemployment is the minimum wage. Continue reading

December 10, 2008 Posted by | Economy, Politics, Work | Leave a comment

Prescription Handguns?

Firing handguns can be difficult for folks with arthritis, as the recoil puts a good deal of stress on the wrist and hand joints, and squeezing the trigger can be impossible. Constitution Arms of Maplewood, New Jersey has created the pictured Palm Pistol, a double action 9mm single shot that supposedly is easier to control than traditional pistols by people with bad hands.

More. The device apparently is FDA approved and may soon be reimbursable under Medicare.

December 6, 2008 Posted by | Guns, Health Care, Weirdness | 1 Comment

Happy Repeal Day!

Seventy five years ago today, a great injustice was ended when Utah became the 36th state to ratify the Twenty-First Amendment, thus ending Prohibition. In honor of this glorious event, here is an excerpt from the book The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Wine, Whiskey, and Song on how some Napa Valley wineries managed to weather the storm of Prohibition: Continue reading

December 5, 2008 Posted by | America, History | Leave a comment

Making Abortion Illegal Reduces the Abortion Rate

We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. – George Orwell

When you make something illegal, you tend to get less of it. Partly this is because people are understandably less likely to engage in an activity if there is even a small chance it will lead to men with guns locking them inside a small room for an extended period of time. Partly this is because illegal activities, if they are to take place, must take place underground, which when the activity requires a willing buyer and seller, makes it harder for the necessary parties to find each other. One sees a lot more advertising for beer now than in the time of prohibition. There is also the effect criminality can have on social norms, and on people’s views of the behavior in question. All of these things combine to make the illegal activity more costly to engage in than it would be otherwise, and as the cost of something goes up, the incidence of it typically goes down. How much of a reduction accompanies criminalization will, of course, depend on a variety of factors, such as the level of enforcement and so on. And of course to say that criminalization reduces the likelihood of an activity is not the same as saying that it eliminates it altogether. Still, it would be passing strange if taking a illegalization did not have an effect on the rate at which the newly illegal activity occurred.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of people who, for whatever reason, want to exempt abortion from this line of reasoning. So, for example, Radical Catholic Mom cites data from the Guttmacher Institute purporting to show high abortion rates in countries where abortion is illegal.

Now the Guttmacher Institute is the research arm of Planned Parenthood. As such, it has both a financial and an ideological interest in finding that outlawing abortion doesn’t decrease the abortion rate. The risk of bias due to these interests is particularly high when you are trying to calculate the prevalence of an illegal activity, since reliable data on such activities is generally harder to come by (for obvious reasons), which leaves more room for creativity when it comes to crunching the numbers. For example, as William Robert Johnson notes: Continue reading

December 1, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Statistics | 10 Comments