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Public Service Announcement [09 Nov 2018|11:29pm]
At the behest of "Bear" Smith, and out of courtesy for your feelings and intellectual capacities, I hereby give and hand down the following message:

I, Edward Joseph Harris III, am absolutely full of shit. Furthermore, the shit of which I am full is dishonest, flowery prose which I write only for catharsis.

You may go about your lives. If this had been an actual emergency, you probably would have gotten some angsty prose.
26 comments|post comment

Who's still out there? [23 Jun 2013|11:13am]
I know I haven't posted in roughly a million years, but are any of you still reading livejournal? If so, tell me how you are. I just got a message that made me think about posting again. What say you all?
17 comments|post comment

[09 Mar 2013|06:36pm]
If my child becomes an epistemic relativist I'm going to ground them until they either stop it or manage to demonstrate that in principle their punishment is wrong.

If we could just do the same thing with Congress we might all be better off.
1 comment|post comment

[25 Dec 2012|12:10pm]
God do I hate Christmas. If I'm ever Pope I'm moving it to January again.
10 comments|post comment

Cars, birth control, and why modern democracy is, on balance, crappy [06 Feb 2012|04:04pm]
I'm still pretty achey, but overall I'm ok. No lasting damage. I went to change lanes but had to swing back into my lane because somebody sped up when my tire blew out and I lost control. I hit the guard rail, no lasting damage to me or anyone else, but the car is almost certainly a total loss. I'll probably feel like shit for another day or two.

I don't understand why the White House is trying to be conciliatory over this HHS regulation. They think it is important to make a religious institution do something that violate the principles of that religion. They shouldn't pretend they want to negotiate, they should admit that they simply don't care, that access to birth control trumps religious liberty.

Incidentally, that's a silly thing to think because elective birth control is in and of itself not health care. This is maybe a bit less unreasonable than requiring people to pay for boob jobs or elective amputation, but the difference is one of degree, not of kind. Anybody who is taking hormonal birth control on the off chance they get raped is probably making a bad call on a balance of probabilities, which means the only situation we're really concerned with is one in which someone is choosing to have sex and then using a drug to prevent unwanted consequences that are in no real sense an illness. Since the choice to have sex is voluntary (it is, cope), I don't know why paying for managing that choice shouldn't be.

It doesn't really matter though. They think this is an important right, and that religion isn't an important right. I just want them to say so, to admit that we aren't talking about rights at all, we're talking about prerogatives.

A right is something that you get to exercise regardless of how crappy the exercise of that right might be for someone else. You get to speak no matter how offensive it is, you get to use your money how you want even if it would increase utility to force you to do certain things with it, and your conscience trumps social obligation. They are absolute, they come without condition, and they are beyond the power of the state. We don't, collectively, believe in that, though.

We believe in prerogatives, in people getting to choose to do stuff. Since choice itself has primacy in this system, everyone's choice set is constrained by the maximization of choice in aggregate, and that concern is prior to any other. I'm not actually opposed to this system (it is no dumber than any other), I just want us to be up front about it. I want to hear the President get up and admit that that's his theory of government, that he believes that the power of the state always triumphs, and that the people are to be governed, they are not to govern. If you believe in rights you need to defend them most when they are exercised most vilely - you don't get to wimp out and pull rank as soon as it gets hairy.

The real problem is that our government is totally unprepared for the prerogatives system. All this election business and putting power in the hands of the people is worthless if we're going to mandate a way of life after as soon as the ballots are counted. Prerogatives taken and given at the whim of the state is only going to function when there is unquestioned rule which is predictable and self-perpetuating without reference to any other group or institution. You need oligarchs, or maybe some sort of regulated monarchy, in order to pull this shit off. Quadaffi and Mubarak were better set up for that system than Obama is, because the American system requires a free people, jealous of their rights and committed to self-determination, in order to check against the power of the state. Without that, you end up with the worst form of authoritarianism - rule by demagogues, whoever can stir the prejudices of the masses into the greatest frenzy. Even strict will-to-power military conflicts are better than that because in those people still tend to get left alone. If we want to act like we have a monarch, we should probably take some steps to ensure a functioning monarchy, rather than letting the power-hungry panderers climb the ranks to an invisible throne.

If we're going to live in a statist regime, we should be fucking honest about it. If we believe in individual rights, we should act like it. Either way, America (and the whole west) needs to shit or get off the pot.
35 comments|post comment

[03 Feb 2012|12:51pm]
Instead of going to Philly to make some debating happen, I wound up totaling the car in Western Mass and getting the crap kicked out of me.

It seriously never ends. Fuck.

Anyway, I'm ok. Pray for my family, if you do that sort of thing.
10 comments|post comment

[25 Jan 2012|12:22am]
I was away for a while, so while I kind of skimmed livejournal, if there's something specific you want to share, best to do so.

This was going to be a rant about the (mis)treatment of the northeast and New England in the American political system, but I'm tired.
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This was a triumph... [07 Oct 2011|11:36am]
Still alive.
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Are you the now or never kind? [10 Aug 2011|04:33pm]
So, I know that I said that getting back to livejournal was on my list of things to do, but that was before my laptop decided to be a motherfucker and crap out. All is fixed, but I spend a fairly large amount of time with only marginal amounts of web access. Sorry about that.

Everyone I know in the fleshspace seems to be losing their minds, so I think a retreat into the tubes is the only rational response. I have some thoughts I'll be posting in a couple days about congress, the budget, S&P, and why Democracy isn't the answer.

What's on your mind, oh cyberland?
7 comments|post comment

[30 May 2011|11:43pm]
I think the Catholic habit of singing patriotic hymns on Memorial Day weekend and the first reading from Sunday (from Acts 8, the founding of the Church in Samaria, leaving out Simon Magus) form a good basis for talking about something that's been on my mind.

The Samaritans were a divergent sect from institutional Judaism which claimed to worship as the Israelites did prior to the Babylonian Exile, as handed down by people who stayed. Needless to say institutional Judaism wasn't really a fan of these people, and that rivalry is the backdrop of the story of the Good Samaritan.

It's easy to see then that going to convert Samaria is a big deal on a lot of levels: Jesus had some involvement with them, so to some extent they're continuing a project the Master started; The Jews tended to have a policy of non-intercourse, so they're violating a norm; and this is also the first mass conversion in a non-Jewish city that Acts records, so it's a big step in terms of integrating gentiles into the Church, particularly ones with gnostic wizards running about. The nascent Church becomes multicultural, a state it has been in sense, with the conversion of Samaria.

So what does that have to do with Memorial Day? I put it to you that Christians should not swear obedience to the state, nor should they celebrate it, nor should they do anything to capitulate to the modern phenomenon of nationalism, which is fundamentally contrary to the Gospel, and that the conversion of Samaria is the first concrete step toward realizing that attitude.

We hear again and again in the Fathers that Christians are by definition liminal - they are meant to be out of place in the world, because they are not citizens of the world, or any mortal power, but of the coming Kingdom of Heaven, St. Augustine's City of God. It's important to understand just how subversive a claim this was, and is: in the imagination of late antiquity, the world was ruled by supernatural powers that controlled everything, from the crops to the armies to the lives and fortunes of every person. To reject that order, the powers in the high places, was to literally reject the legitimacy of the state and the function of the cosmos. Thus Christians are not merely pilgrims, they are strangers in a hostile land - The New Israel has the world for its Babylon.

We are coming, in our own era, to understand human societies in a very similar way, without all the metaphysics. We recognize intractable, systemic poverty. We see the state as the necessary guarantor of the social order, the basis of rights, and the institution which organizes and regulates all human activity, bounded only by its own munificence. The powers of the air, the wickedness in the high places, aren't just ghosts, they're ancient names for very modern realities, and Christians are, by their baptism into the Body of Christ, no less enemies of those powers than of the demons and archons by which our fathers expressed the intractable evil at the center of mortal power. By his victory on the Cross, Jesus subjugates the oppressors of men - the first are quite literally made last, and the lowest order of creation is exalted in a direct, intimate relationship with its creator.

We know as Christians that the state is but a commonly agreed upon illusion - it exercises no authentic authority, guarantees no rights, and offers no liberty, for authentic liberty is to be free from the very power that the state embodies, and from the very evil which corrupts, and to a large extent governs, that power. We are the very pinnacle of enemies of the state, when we are truest to the Gospel, for we claim that the Emperor not only has no clothes, he has no Empire.

The only authentic unifying force, the only one which can truly claim to liberate, is Christendom, that collection of souls preparing together for the Kingdom. This is the only recourse of the poor, the only way to have the thirst for justice satisfied. To borrow from Augustine again, where there is no justice, there is no commonwealth, and mortal justice is an oxymoron.

So where does that leave Phillip and Peter as they preach in Samaria, and demonstrate the liberating power of Christ? They are doing nothing less than destroying in a few weeks one of the greatest national barriers the Jews knew, one that had stood for centuries. Samaria, then, is the world, the rest of us, waiting to be liberated and returned to our true home in the New Jerusalem. They were proving to us that Christians can accept no commonwealth but the cosmos, no reign but the Lord's. We cannot revere the nation, for the nation is a myth used to perpetuate the control of the powerful.

This is, of course, all the more startling for people who live in democracies, for it means that the power by which the Church is opposed in her mission of grace comes quite literally from ourselves. We have no king to demonize, for our sovereign, and thus our enemy, is us. It's fitting, really - the personal struggle against sin and the communal struggle of the pilgrim Church are inseparable: our repentance and our redemption and the hope for which we are called to give account, is our hope for each and for all of us.

It must be the mission of the Church to strengthen Christendom, both for its power to hold the vanity of nations in check, and for its commitment, always sought but never truly found, to authentic justice, which includes the end of poverty and war. So let no Christian grave bear any sign but the Cross, let no Christian swear to uphold the state, or the laws of our modern demons, and let no Christian forget that his allegiance is to Christ who saved him, and so to the service of all mankind. If we cannot struggle against these powers, if we cannot live as pilgrims, then what did Christ die for?
30 comments|post comment

Mini-Rants: All the vitreol, half the calories [19 Apr 2011|11:49pm]
- Being an atheist for no particular reason is not any more rational than being a theist out of blind obedience. That Richard Dawkins rails against the Papacy couldn't possibly be less convincing when he's setting up one of his own, appealing to "science" as devoid of intellectual content as Biblical fundamentalism. I'm really fucking tired of people pretending that nihilism is this self-evident rational principle, that it doesn't ravage the human spirit, decay public morals, quash creativity, and scavenge every tradition and patrimony in civilization for things it can falsely claim to be its own. When you demand empirical proof for everything you eliminate most of what it means to be human; love, hope, beauty, attraction, longing, commitment, despair, delirium, delight, loyalty, outrage, justice, joy, honor, arousal, angst, duty, depression, trust, agony, ecstasy, awe, oratory, contentment, courage, pride, poetry, rage, horror, euphoria, dysphoria, weltzschmerz, friendship, serenity, desire, dreams, grief, guilt, and glory are all entirely without empirical warrant and none are subject to logical proof. Meanwhile, things that science has apparently proven turn out to be hunches and best guesses disguised so as not to alarm the masses.

- I hope whoever supported Barack Obama are happy. You elected that worst kind of demagogue - a rhetorician with ambition but little else. He has no will to lead, no chance of making meaningful change, and as a nation we have literally blocked any person capable of meaningful policy-making from getting to the table at all. The fate of the free world may well depend on whether Olympia Snowe runs for another term while the rest of the mockery of republicanism we call a Congress contemplates their own greatness.

- You cannot bring a budget into balance by cutting all the stuff everybody likes and leaving all the crap we don't need. Have the balls to do things like means test Social Security benefits; collect payroll taxes on all earned income, including a progressive rate increase; declare bonuses indistinct from salary for the purposes of taxation; demand education and social welfare systems that don't systematically trap an ever-larger number of people in poverty at the expense of the state; do military procurement, the domestic energy portfolio, campaign financing, earmark reform, entitlement reform and lobbying reform the way we do the base closing commission - with a magic board that minimizes legislative meddling; meaningfully cut military spending and work on a diplomatic strategy that sees us either getting financial support from the rest of the world for being its police force or a radical reduction in our overseas commitments (if we were isolationists we'd only need forces sufficient to repel Canada and Mexico and ensure nobody can get to us from the sea, but that would not be good for the world); stop signing incredibly silly trade deals and lead the world in transitioning to a fair trade system regardless of how much it dicks over the Chinese; and generally stop being idiots.
10 comments|post comment

[30 Mar 2011|01:10am]
I'm pretty sure I'm trying to become my own personal Diocletian, and my own personal Sebastian, at the same time.
5 comments|post comment

[22 Mar 2011|02:44am]
The rare double-post.

I talked to Alex, and a friend of mine named Ilana.

He said the things I wanted to hear to put him behind me, he affirmed that I was responsible for all of his present happiness. He thanked me. She got me talking about the world in a way I haven't done in quite some time. All this since I last posted.

I realized that as much as this God thing gives me trouble sometimes, I cannot help but view the world through the lens of theology. So fuck it, I'm going to be Catholic because that's how I see the world, and if it's a lie, at least I'll work to make it a noble one.

Just goes to show you what life is like when you get on these rapid cycles. Here's to a few hours of happiness at a time.
11 comments|post comment

[12 Mar 2011|01:02am]
"To whom would we go?" is a profound question when asked about God. It's the last desperate cry of a sick man when asked about everything in his life.
4 comments|post comment

[13 Feb 2011|08:22pm]
So first of all, I'm sorry to keep everyone hanging - I got called away to a debate emergency in Williamstown, Massachusetts (which is in the middle of nowhere) and have only just returned home. I didn't mean it, I promise.

The book isn't as special as all that - I'm to write a history of Laboure College, a nursing school in Boston founded in 1896 which my father happens to have become president of last summer. They don't have one - a product of their systemic failure to develop the college meaningfully and of their lack of humanities undergraduates. Nevertheless, it'll be my first long-form publication, and I'm excited.

How are all of you?
12 comments|post comment

[10 Feb 2011|08:07pm]
So on the up side, I got a deal to write a book.
19 comments|post comment

Egypt [28 Jan 2011|12:32am]
Heavenly Father, you called your people out of bondage in Egypt, and you called your Son out of Egypt that he might ransom us all from bondage. Now voices cry out to you again, calling upon the God of Abraham and Isaac and Ishmael to set them free. If the government of Egypt falls in the coming days, let the one which replaces it genuinely value human dignity and lasting peace, and keep it free from the clutches of Islamism so that the Egyptian people might be spared the fate of Iran. If the government of Egypt overcomes the present turmoil, help President Mubarak and his ministers make democratic reforms which respect the will of the people without allowing them to install a regime which threatens the safety, prosperity, and virtue of the Egyptian people, and the stability of the entire Middle East. In any event, abundantly bless Shenouda III, Theodore II, Antonios I Naguib, and the whole of the Church in Egypt - may the Gospel flourish and may Christians tend to the sick and injured, and bear martyrdom bravely and with great fruit for the whole Church if their lives are demanded of them for your sake. We ask this, joined humbly with the prayers of St. Anthony, who birthed monasticism in the Egyptian desert, and of Mary, whose maternal patronage extends across the globe, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, Amen.
7 comments|post comment

What I did with my new year... [02 Jan 2011|03:44pm]

I'll probably have a bunch of writing for you all tomorrow.
14 comments|post comment

A rather long list of motions [06 Dec 2010|10:58pm]
THB in a 2 state solution in many places, but not in Israel.
THBT teleology should be the official moral system of all liberal democracies.
THBT Emmanuel will ransom Israel.
THR being tone deaf.
THBT Pentarchy is not a sustainable model of ecclesiastical governance.
THW prosecute the TSA for operating nuclear imaging technology without a license.
THW prosecute the TSA for conspiring to produce child pornography.
THBT Catullus is an excellent remedy for talking to ex-boyfriends.
THBT there is no remedy for talking to ex-boyfriends.
THBT it would be normatively preferable to have spent its college years drinking like Kyle.
THBT it has immortal longings in it.
THBT Americans who cooperate with Wikileaks are materially guilty of Espionage.
THR not being Canadian.
THBT Kurt should have ended up with Sam.
THBT Prop 8 did not violate the Constitution of the United States.

Poetry in MotionsCollapse )

Once More With MotionsCollapse )

THBT it doesn't belong anywhere.
THBT nothing really matters.
32 comments|post comment

[18 Nov 2010|08:19pm]
I am alive.

It is extremely, extremely dumb to me that Newark's train station is also called Penn Station. It would be that hard to name the Northeast Corridor train stations different things? I propose we rename it "What the Fuck Are You Doing? Turn Back! Station." Honestly I have no answer to that question, but here I am, in Hudson County, New Jersey anyway. How the hell do you have a county with 12 towns in it? Who organized this state?

It gets worse, I'm going to the Bronx tomorrow.

I have written a debate case I think is actually true. "You are Martha Coakley. Seize those bullshit scanners from Logan as evidence of a massive criminal conspiracy to commit indecent assault on a minor and to create and disseminate child porn." No judge in Massachusetts would refuse to sign that warrant.

I really like the train. You can look out the window and see the Connecticut coast, watch New England go by, it's really lovely this time of year. I should have pursued that train ride to Maine more robustly, it would have been cool too, although then I'd have had to spend time in Lewiston, another shithole.

I successfully ran a debate tournament for the Syracuse University Debate Society, which consists of a bunch of friends of mine. Tabbing with a gay novice who would be awesome for you if he weren't oblivious is shit, but other than that it was a good thing. Being single is beginning to take a psychological toll I'm uncomfortable with.

This weekend is Fordham. I always meet interesting people at the Fordham tournament. I was once late to rounds because Cardinal Dulles talked to me. It was awesome. I'm such a loser.

My sister was home for a while. That was meh. I might skip out on the extended family thanksgiving, we'll see.

Therapy is going well on the level that we seem to be making lots of progress in talking about things and building a coherent picture of the issues, but much less well on the level of, you know, coming to any reasonable understanding that they can be solved without just drugging me until this civilizational discontent is not discontent anymore.

Anyone want to help me conquer Swaziland and install me as king? It'll be fun, bringing a people whole-cloth out of destitution and superstition.
22 comments|post comment

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