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Digital Discrimination

In a recent editorial the Wall Street Journal takes issue with a new rule the Federal Communication Commission is considering to prevent what is referred to as “digital discrimination.” This proposed action is a by-product of the 2021 infrastructure bill that included a directive for the FCC to monitor disparities in broadband access “based on income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion, or national origin.”

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Fair Play: An Appreciation

After making a splash at the Sundance Film Festival in January, the new movie Fair Play received only a limited theatrical release in September before its streaming debut on Netflix earlier this month. It is billed as a drama/mystery/thriller, and after watching it last night I would add the word “tragedy” to that list as well.

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The Dissemination of Distorted Information

Those of us who attend religious services on the weekends are routinely instructed by our clergy to show love for the “stranger,” with an emphasis on extending such love no matter how unusual or off-putting that stranger may initially appear to us.

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Is the Pope Catholic?

Asking whether the Pope is Catholic used to be one of those funny rhetorical question that do not require an answer. Like asking does a bird fly, or if a bear defecates in the forest. But these days that first question is not so funny to some people, and not so rhetorical.

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Pro-Trump, or anti-Democrat?

There are now four big legal cases pending against former President Donald Trump. He is facing dozens of criminal charges and will go on trial several times in the next 18 months, as he campaigns to become president again in the 2024 election.

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The Music of Bruce Springsteen

When it comes to the music of Bruce Springsteen, I really miss the contribution of keyboardist David Sancious, who left the band to pursue his own thing a long time ago.

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A Different Side of Bruce Springsteen

My interest in Bruce Springsteen as a singer-songwriter ended about 50 years ago. The high point for me was The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle, a record he released in November 1973. Along with a few cuts from his follow-up Born to Run album, released in August 1975. He has obviously gone on to enjoy a prolific career in the decades since, achieving world-wide superstar status. So mine is a decidedly minority opinion. But I can’t help it. His “mature” output has never done much for me.

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Forgiving Student Loans

The student loan forgiveness plan the Supreme Court threw out last week, just before adjourning for the summer, was one of the Biden administration’s more ambitious and controversial proposals. So it should come as no surprise this latest ruling is generating such a passionate response.

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Voting Third Party in 2024

Have you ever voted for a Third Party candidate in a Presidential election? In my experience people who do tend to be idealistic and are also usually a little bit ornery. (I am both and confess to voting Third Party on occasion.) Reviving that option seems to be a recurring theme, given the rather lackluster Republican and Democrat candidates we have been presented with in recent years. With a likely Biden-Trump re-match in the offing, some otherwise sensible citizens are once again starting to explore their options, and are talking up the possibility of going rogue in the voting booth next year.

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Patrick Deenen Strikes Again

Patrick Deenen’s new book, Regime Change, was just reviewed in the Wall Street Journal and got panned good and hard. Reading that review reminded me how his previous book, Why Liberalism Failed (2018), received the same chilly reception, most notably in The New York Times.

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Somewhere in Queens

Here are a few words of praise for the new feature film, Somewhere in Queens, directed and co-written by veteran stand-up comedian and TV sitcom star Ray Romano

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The Narrative is Problematic

It is natural to assemble a story for ourselves that helps explain how and why things happen in this world. Along the way we encounter others who seem knowledgeable in these matters, and we add their understanding to our own. As we get older, our narrative emphasizes what has gone wrong out there, and what should be done to fix all the problems. This, too, is natural.

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Capitalism Condones Bad Behavior

My thesis this morning is how easily our version of capitalism condones behavior that is fundamentally inconsiderate of others. And how this is not just a case of bad manners, but rises to the level of injustice.

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The Economics of Beauty

Now here is an angle Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels probably did not cover in their famous 1848 treatise on economics, “The Communist Manifesto”… Namely, the impact beauty has on an economic system. But it turns out a gentleman by the name of Daniel S. Hamermesh has given it a lot of thought.

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Julia Reichert, R.I.P.

When Julia Reichert died a few months ago at the age of 76, she was eulogized as a “Documentarian of the Working Class.”

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An Aversion to Action Films

It’s late on Friday afternoon and a few co-workers are letting their hair down before heading out for the weekend. I can hear bits and pieces of conversation through an open door. Someone mentions not having seen the blockbuster hit “Top Gun: Maverick,”

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The Second Bill of Rights

Everyone is always singing the praises of liberal democracy, but these days many enthusiasts are expressing concern about the future of the institution. Populist uprisings here in the United States and across Europe are seen as threatening the rule of law, and the idea of free and fair elections.

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Selective Ridicule

Everyone is always singing the praises of “liberal democracy” these days.  Not only is it universally thought of as the best possible form of government, it’s the only one any reasonable person will even consider.

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Ridiculing Catholicism

Ridiculing Catholicism for being out-of-touch with the modern world is super easy, and it’s so much fun! Okay, yes, that sentence is gratuitous, and designed to get your attention.

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Why Libertarian Catholics are Wrong on Economics Part 4

As my little amateur history draws to a close, I will be offering two concrete suggestions for improving the economic status quo. As a preface to making those suggestions allow me to state for the record I do not disagree with the libertarian premise about regulation stifling innovation and undermining incentives that drive capitalism. Or that capitalism is the best economic system for “freeing” large masses of human beings from lives of misery and poverty.

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Why Libertarian Catholics are Wrong on Economics Part 3

My goal in assembling this very amateur and oh-so-brief history is three-fold. To disabuse everyday conservative Catholics (my friends and neighbors) of the notion economics has nothing to do with morality. To challenge the contention of intellectual conservative Catholics (the scholars I have been reading for the last thirty years) that free market capitalism is inherently moral. And lastly to assure both groups (and any other readers who may wander in) that I am not suggesting any form of socialism as an alternative.

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Why Libertarian Catholics are Wrong on Economics Part 2

In analyzing the ideological schism that plagues present-day Catholicism, we tend to focus on the fall-out from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the sexual revolution of the 1960s that surrounded it. With good reason, since both did indeed play a large role in splintering Catholics into the current opposing camps of “liberal” and “conservative.”

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Why Libertarian Catholics are Wrong on Economics Part 1

First Things has always been a classy journal featuring quality contributions from orthodox scholars and academics. Father Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009), the founding editor and famous Lutheran convert to Catholicism, was a prose stylist par excellence. Anything he chose to write about in his monthly dairy entries was a pleasure to read.

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The Magic Scene: Nebraska

It sort of goes without saying every good movie is made up of a series of enjoyable, engaging scenes. But the really good movies, the ones that stick with you, have what I would call a magic scene. Or maybe even more than one.

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The Republican Crusade Against Sex

As a resident of Pennsylvania, I will be called on in a few months to help elect a new Governor. As usual, I am less than thrilled with the two major party candidates we are able to choose between. And also as usual in recent years, the Republican option in this election is even more of a concern to me than is the Democrat.

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Mt. Sinai and the Second Amendment

Yesterday the latest in a seemingly endless series of mass shootings occurred in a small Texas town, when 18-year-old Salvador Ramos walked into an elementary school with an AR-15 style rifle. He killed nineteen children and two teachers, and wounded seventeen others.

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How I Learned to Write

In recent months I have struck up a close friendship with a fascinating, age-appropriate woman who has never stopped learning, never stopped taking classes and acquiring certifications.

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Catholics and Collective Bargaining

It always fascinates me when successful, fiscally conservative Catholics express an unbridled distain for organized labor on ideological grounds. To hear them tell it, unions are nothing but an affront to individual liberty and self-determination, two hallmarks of the American lexicon.

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One Weird Catholic

Since returning to the fold almost thirty years ago, identifying as “Catholic” has come naturally to me. Though I can’t say there are many practicing Catholics who share my perspective on the state of the world, let alone the state of the Catholic Church.

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Astrology and Free Will

Astrology doesn’t have many defenders these days, and with good reason. The idea of a horoscope that can predict your future based on the month you were born and your “sun sign” is more than a little far-fetched. The very thought strikes most reasonable people as silly, and a complete waste of time.

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An Easter Suggestion

No matter how old we grow or how feeble we become, let us remember the excitement of this morning’s embrace. That way, should we ever wish to conjure the sense of healing love that so easily envelopes us today, all we need do is gaze into each other’s eyes.

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What I Am Looking For

What are you looking for in a woman? This is one of the first questions asked of a man on an internet dating site. Since subscribing last June I haven’t had a ready answer. Other than the obvious, self-depreciating one: Anyone who will put up with me.

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New Love Late in Life

Finding love at any age is one of life’s mysteries. An intimate relationship is a delicate thing, with many a twist and turn to navigate. In every instance the intrinsic joy being produced springs from the same source: Discovering and exploring every aspect of this new, amazing human being.

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Make It Work In The Real World

The intellectual tradition to which I subscribe believes in an economics based on virtues such as justice and charity, instead of ‘laws’ like supply and demand. The earliest guidelines for this preferred system can be found in the Acts of the Apostles, when the first band of followers were said to have shared all they had with one another, according to need. This is what Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) identified back in the 13th century as “distributive justice.”

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The Magic of Proximity

Because each of us is blessed with the Imago Dei, we possess an inherent dignity that is worthy of respect. This is true regardless of our level of formal education and resulting station in life. It is true no matter how meager our material circumstances might be.

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Transitioning to Adulthood

Every stage of life comes with its own set of problems that need to be figured out.  But going from adolescence to early adulthood is particularly tricky, especially for a sensitive young person.

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Finding a Calling

My ex-wife decided in 2014 she no longer wanted to be married to me. That’s when she unceremoniously moved out of the second-floor master bedroom, and took up residence in the little in-law suite we had carved out of a couple rooms on the first floor.

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Heart Like a Wheel

What is lonelier?  To lack any semblance of female companionship in one’s life, or to conduct a series of hopeful first encounters in search of an elusive match when it comes to emotional intelligence and temperament, only to come up empty?

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A Simple Explanation

February 14, 2022 | 175 words | Personal History

The are many reasons why a marriage hits the rocks, and many ways to describe the demise of a long-term relationship.  Here’s one way…  

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Rachael & Vilray

You may know the voice of Rachael Price from her work with the group Lake Street Dive, who first met as students at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. That was about twenty years ago, and they’ve been recording and touring together ever since. They have a very relaxed “unplugged” sound, which puts the focus on the musicality of the music, if that makes any sense. Four friends sitting around riffing. Their original stuff is always fun, and they do some of the best covers around.

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Mayor Pete and the Whole Ball of Wax

The primary race for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election is old news by now, but I only just watched a documentary about the quixotic run made by the youngest member of the field, Mayor Pete.

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New Year’s Resolution

January 1, 2022 (218 words)
“A wonderful New Year’s resolution for the men who run the world: Get to know the people who only live in it.”…

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Edicts of an Empire

December 25, 2021 (1,937 words)
Today’s catchy title is taken from the subject line of this week’s email blast from the long-time President of a small but highly-regarded liberal arts college located in the beautiful…

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Women in the Church

December 8, 2021 (401 words)
Concern over finding oneself on the wrong side of history forces intelligent, well-intentioned people to abandon the formal practice of religion, while still thinking of themselves as being “spiritual” at…

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Original Sin

December 1, 2021 (593 words)
How can an innocent newborn come into this world burdened with what religious zealots refer to as “the stain of Original Sin”? This is just the sort of mean-spirited clap-trap that…

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Malden Mills

November 21, 2021 (756 words)
Do you happen to remember that twenty-five-year-old story about a Massachusetts industrialist who refused to lay-off his 1,400 employees, even after the textile plant they worked in suffered a catastrophic…

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Anguished Heartbreak

November 14, 2021 (317 words)
The young balladeer Adele has done it again. Her latest hit, Go Easy on Me, is currently playing…

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How Medicine is Practiced Today

November 7, 2021 (2,413 words)
The actor Stanley Tucci has appeared in over 70 films, and he always manages to be an authentic, relatable presence, even as a villain. The other night he was interviewed on NPR about a new book…

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Science Trumps Religion

October 31, 2021 (373 words)
In the ongoing debate over whether or not to vaccinate for the COVID-19 virus, I recently heard an interesting take on the subject from the BBC World Service in London, courtesy of my local NPR affiliate…

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Lonely Hearts Club

October 18, 2021 (802 words)
In the dating world of ‘mature singles’ there is something known as the “90-day syndrome.” That’s how long it takes for a new infatuation to run its course, and for the two adults…

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Denouement

October 10, 2021 (34 words)
The physical intimacy we shared led me to believe you were more into me than it turns out you really are. And made me think we had…

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Powerless to Effect Change

October 5, 2021 (174 words)
There are many forms of physical and emotional distress that can befall us in the course of our lives. Some folks have to cope with more of these challenges than others, often for…

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Seven New Laws

September 28, 2021 (87 words)
The headline read: “California Governor Gavin Newsome proposes seven new laws to address homeless.” This is no doubt a well-meaning gesture on the…

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A Discriminating Eye

September 27, 2021 (210 words)
It’s funny how some words can fall out of favor, while others acquire a new luster. Acceptance, tolerance, diversity, and love – especially when grouped together like a slogan, as on a…

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How Much Should Government Do?

September 24, 2021 (70 words)
In touting the latest round of his seemingly never-ending infrastructure stimulus package that recently received Congressional approval, President Biden…

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Faith and Works

September 12, 2021 (446 words)
The second reading at Mass this morning was that famous passage from James (2:14-26) about faith and works, the one biblical scholars and religious apologists have been arguing about for…

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Eliminating the Middle Class

September 6, 2021 (1,812 words)
I.
These days contrarians of all stripes are a little obsessed with keeping government out of our lives. When the talk…

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Homeschooling and Socialization

August 27, 2021 (836 words)
For many years I partnered with my soon-to-be-ex-wife – who by the way just happens to turn 60 years old today – to raise four children. She did most of…

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Sweet Music

August 23, 2021 (172 words)
And then there is music. Lots of stuff appeals to me, starting with what the yard birds do each morning before dawn. There is Americana Fest, held every September in Nashville…

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Chronicles of American Money

August 15, 2021 (1,962 words)
I.
My nominee for most productive use of the pandemic shutdown would be the esteemed essayist Lance Morrow. Last year while the rest of us were sorting through our attics and basements…

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By Way of Explanation

August 7, 2021 (1,759 words)
I.
The tiny enterprise I started in 1974 out of my one-bedroom apartment has slowly morphed over…

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Commitment

July 29, 2021 (42 words)
There are a lot of attractive women in this world. But when one of them decides to give you her heart, well, that’s not a run-of-the-mill, everyday…

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A Very Spunky Sparrow

July 27, 2021 (92 words)
When I put my arms around her it feels like I am holding a sparrow. But I’m learning inside that delicate façade beats the heart of one tough cookie. A determined…

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Starting Over

July 21, 2021 (393 words)
When this summer’s low-key quest to find a new female companion first began, I thought it was important to leave my past behind. Because a common refrain of women on internet dating…

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Fantasy and Reality

July 20, 2021 (368 words)
When it comes to romance, we all have a rich inner life. If someone strikes our fancy it’s easy to imagine what they might be like, how you might speak to each other, and what sort of things the two of you…

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Here’s What it Takes

July 16, 2021 (104 words)
It doesn’t take a certain kind of life to be a writer, because any kind of life will do. It’s not a matter of social pedigree, or having a blue-ribbon educational background, or even a flair…

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Could This Be Love?

July 12, 2021 (412 words)
Coming out of a 35-year marriage (and a 39-year relationship) you’re not supposed to fall for the first person who smiles at you. There are a lot of fish in the sea…

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Summer Love

July 11, 2021 (20 words)
Summer love, and winter love, and everything in between love. The best kind…

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Finding a Match

July 10, 2021 (691 words)
Much to my surprise and dismay, my long-running marriage unraveled over the last few years, and is ending in divorce. The decision is mutual, the lawyers are working out the details, and the decree should…

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Adaptations

July 6, 2021 (488 words)
It’s always a challenge when they try to turn your favorite quirky novel into a movie. What makes the novel so rich and rewarding in the first place is the way it takes us into uncharted territory. The best…

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Denying Biden Communion

June 23, 2021 (1,225 words)
In what made headlines on every media platform, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) overwhelming approved new…

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First Things

June 8, 2021 (4,084 words)
First Things has always been a classy journal featuring quality contributions from orthodox scholars and academics. Father Richard…

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Conversion Stories

June 7, 2021 (282 words)
Many adult believers have a conversion story to tell, of how they came back to the faith after a period of doubt or outright rebellion. Now that they have returned to the fold, many exhibit a new appreciation for the strictures…

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Affluent and Bankrupt

June 6, 2021 (49 words)
These two terms would seem to be mutually exclusive, yet they can both be applied to us. Large swatches of our society are undeniably affluent, positively swimming in disposable…

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Honest Thief

June 3, 2021 (88 words)
Honest Thief, an October 2020 theatrical release now available to stream, is an enjoyable, well-made piece of entertainment. It’s labeled an “action/thriller” since it does…

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Managing Personal Expectations

May 30, 2021 (217 words)
I have always considered myself the active and outdoorsy type, but maybe not as much now as before. On a recent trip to Sedona for a family wedding, my 22-year-old daughter and I decided to tackle one of those…

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A Market Disrupter meets the Common Good

May 29, 2021 (370 words)
The goal of any responsible journalist is to shed new light and increase understanding. Along those lines my own particular interest is trying to get friendly readers to reconsider their most cherished liberal or conservative…

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A Vortex of Hate

May 26, 2021 (170 words)
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. At some point the woman I made a lifetime commitment to made her own conscious decision not to be happy with her lot in life. This extended to no longer being in love with me, and not wanting to be married…

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Sordid Family History

May 23, 2021 (246 words)
Many years ago my father fell under the spell of and married an Italian woman. I am told it was a brief courtship, no doubt the result of some romantic voodoo caste by this vixen on a poor, unsuspecting Irishman. They managed to have a…

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The Spectrum of Mental Health

May 22, 2021 (258 words)
Each of us have our own unique pathologies to deal with in this life, which seem to have been assigned at birth. The lucky ones are able to recognize some of them as time goes on, actively engage the thorniest problems in a constructive manner, and occasionally…

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Two Sisters

May 17, 2021 (611 words)
I started with two sisters, but lost one to melanoma in 1998. She was 34 at the time, the youngest of the litter, and our family’s glue. She was in charge of parties and reunions…

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Foolish and Wise

April 30, 2021 (16 words)
When speaking extemporaneously I often feel foolish. When I write, I am able to…

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Individuals and the State

April 3, 2021 (1,210 words)
Catholic teaching on social justice is a slippery thing in many respects, hard to figure and difficult to pin down. To our modern way of thinking it flip-flops between sticking up for what it refers to as the dignity of the individual, and calling on the state to play a vital role in sorting out what can…

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Some Practical Application

March 20, 2021 (1,075 words)
Catholic teaching on social justice is a system of thought that seeks to integrate law, politics, and economics. But there is nothing particularly ‘Catholic’ about it. The implementation does not require you to recite special prayers, observe the feast day of saints, or be proficient…

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Catholic Social Teaching to the Rescue

March 12, 2021 (1,734 words)
A recent feature story in a mainstream publication shouts the following question from its title block: “Can Catholic Social Teaching Unite a Divided America?” What a completely unexpected…

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Are Hedge Funds Evil Incarnate?

March 1, 2021 (1,734 words)
Not that anybody is paying attention to this sort of thing, but the corruption of the Catholic mind over the course of the last sixty years has had a distinctly economic…

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Confronting Economic Unworthiness

February 20, 2021 (807 words)
Those who scoff at the term “social justice” cannot all be dismissed as callous and crusty. The disdain is not always a sign of hard-heartedness. Deep down…

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Play It Forward

February 14, 2021 (37 words)
After being together almost forty years a thought just occurred to me. My commitment…

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Rethinking Return on Investment

February 8, 2021 (1,274 words)
Any home-grown small business person knows how to stay in the game over the long haul. It starts with a hardy constitution impervious to minor ailments. It usually involves a…

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Socialists Should Cheer Up

January 20, 2021 (784 words)
For some reason every critic of capitalism seems like a sourpuss. As if they are never able to get a good night’s sleep, or their sciatica is always acting…

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Philanthropy: The Easy Way Out

January 12, 2021 (1,742 words)
Many of our prominent civic institutions rely on generous donations of private wealth for a vital part of their funding stream. While the term “philanthropy” can apply to the hundred bucks you throw at…

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Wages: Expense or Investment?

December 27, 2020 (2,022 words)
Try to imagine a scenario in which a big, successful, publically-traded company – say a tech giant such as Amazon, for example – might decide on its own to pay its low-wage workers…

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Faith and Politics in America

December 13, 2020 (7,751 words)
I.
We just elected a Catholic as President for only the second time in our history, yet during the campaign hardly a mention was made of the candidate’s once-taboo religious affiliation. Some will say that’s…

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Controlling the Information

December 4, 2020 (774 words)
The printing press made the Protestant Reformation possible, once the Catholic Church could no longer control information. This may not be a new theory, but lately it seems to be popping up in places I frequent for information…

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The Art of the Possible

November 27, 2020 (811 words)
Politics, as we know, is not about identifying the right thing to do, which is a basic concept parents impart to their young children. Instead it’s about recognizing what you can actually get done. This pragmatic approach…

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President Boring

November 25, 2020 (309 words)
After a four-year roller coaster ride with Donald Trump at the wheel, a notable portion of the American electorate – some 80 million strong – has decided Sleepy Joe Biden as President may…

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Heart and Mind

November 23, 2020 (30 words)
It’s all very well to have your heart in the right place. As long as your head is along for the ride, and is willing to work out the…

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