Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Recipe for Scrapple

Since Anne Higginson Spicer's poem in the previous post mentioned recipes for scrapple, I thought I would provide a recipe for scrapple. This one is from The Farm Journal for November 1914, which would have been broadly in the vicinity of when Spicer was writing; the article is "Meat for the Family: Time to Get Busy", and it discusses cured hams, panhas, and scrapple.


There seems to be little difference between panhas and the favorite Pennsylvania Dutch dish, known by us as scrapple, and liked by most people. This is made of the waste pieces of meat, the trimmings of the hams and shoulders, the head, the heart, a small piece of the liver, and the skins from the lard and the sausage meat. The ears, carefully cleaned and the cartilage removed, may be used. The head is split between the jaws, and after the tongue is taken out is split the other way. Cut off the snout, remove the jaw and nasal cavities. Put the head meat and skins into the boiler with water to cover them, the rest of the meat fifteen minutes later. Boil until the meat leaves the bones, then chop it fine, strain the liquor and add to it enough water to make five parts liquid to three of meat. Set the liquid to boiling, stirring in corn-meal to make a moderately thick mush, and stirring all the time. Then put in the meat, mixing thoroughly, and season to taste with salt, black and red pepper, and either sage, sweet marjoram, thyme or pennyroyal, whichever flavor you prefer. The corn-meal should be fine, made of new corn, well dried before grinding, and there should be about as much of it as of the meat. Put the scrapple away in pans in a cold place. To cook, cut into slices, lay in a very hot pan and fry quickly till brown.

Come Thoughts

On the Difficulties of Writing a Sonnet at Home
by Anne Higginson Spicer

Come thoughts, for you must muster on parade,
A sonnet on the rain, my fancy orders.
(We'll have to sell the house or take in boarders
If things keep soaring skyward, I'm afraid.)
The rain—I'll make it spatter in a glade
Where larches tall o'er spreading flowers are warders.
(The old provision dealers are such hoarders;
It's all their fault that prices high have stayed.)
The rain, down-dropping in a scented wood.
(That recipe for scrapple sounded good.)
The rain, it rings with elfin laughter running.
(This pattern for my new frock will be stunning.)
The rain, where breezes sing and zephyrs laugh.
(Our oil stock cut its dividends in half!)

Poems about writing itself are difficult to do, in part because writing on its own is not a particularly interesting process, but this one works splendidly. I particularly like the repetition of 'the rain' as the poet keeps having to start up the poem again.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

OGE Scandal II

Richard Painter and Norman Eisen have an interesting but rather overwrought article on the recent furor over the USOGE. A taste of it gives a sense of the absurdity of it:

For speaking up about the shortcomings of this plan, Shaub found himself in the Republican crosshairs. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that has jurisdiction over the White House, demanded Shaub appear for a Star Chamber-style recorded inquisition and implicitly threatened to shut down the Office of Government Ethics if Shaub did not submit. Chaffetz ought to have been doing the exact opposite, supporting OGE and demanding documents from Trump about any financial ties to Russia or other foreign governments.

Look, the first and most basic principle of government ethics is that authoritative action requires a mandate for the relevant authority. This can get a bit complicated. Director Shaub as a political appointee has more leeway than any of the civil servants under him do. But this is not unlimited. As head of a government agency not explicitly required by the Constitution, Shaub has no authority -- indeed, no right -- to engage in any actions qua head of the agency that are not explicitly authorized by statute, either in itself or as interpreted and specified by Presidential order. If there is even the slightest question about whether he has overstepped their bounds, Congress has the right, and the duty, to investigate as it deems appropriate.

And Director Shaub's recent actions raise serious concerns about whether he is remaining within the bounds of his actual authority when speaking as Director of USOGE. Despite the apparently unrestricted name, the Office of Government Ethics is not a universal ethics agency -- for very obvious reasons, the ethics authority of the government is spread around among a number of very different agencies. (Contrary to some news reports, there is no sense in which Shaub is the government 'ethics chief'.) OGE has no enforcement authority -- there are excellent reasons from a government ethics perspective to split ethical policy-making and advice, which is what OGE does, and enforcement. OGE has no advisory authority over the Office of the President, not just for the obvious reason that it itself is an executive branch agency, but for other reasons. It is primarily concerned with the civil service (and, to a lesser extent, political appointees heading the civil service), not with the actions of the President. In this it contrasts with (e.g.) the Office of Legal Counsel -- arguably the most important ethics advisory agency in the executive branch -- which has, as part of its explicit authority, informing the President on the constitutionality of his actions. The OLC is an instrument of the Office of the President's ethical self-review; the OGE is an instrument of that Office's ethical review of the executive branch. Nor does the OGE have any general authority to advise on ethics; its entire existence is to assist in carrying out conflict of interest statutes and financial disclosure statutes through advice, training, and policy-making. The Office of the President is not governed by these statutes, and these statutes establish no requirements that a President-Elect must meet in order to come to occupy the Office of the President. (It would likely be unconstitutional for Congress to impose such requirements where they were not simply specifications of explicit requirements in the Constitution.)

Thus Director Shaub's exact role in this context is very, very limited. It is customary for the Office of the President to consult OGE on matters where its actions could be related to COI statutes primarily in order to 'lead by example'. This is not a legal requirement; it's just a reasonably good thing to do. But it means among other things that Director Shaub has no authority to tell the President how his finances must be arranged, or whether he must take certain steps to deal with conflict of interests; all he really has the authority to do is to say whether the President is making an exception for himself or not. The President-Elect has no official position; as a private citizen he does not directly fall under Director Shaub's authority, even purely advisory authority, at all. Transition matters are handled under the direct authority of the Office of the President. In advising the President-Elect's transition, Shaub is strictly speaking advising the President and, to a lesser extent, serving as an intermediary of communication between the President and the President-Elect. This leaves very little authoritative room.

And it is at least questionable whether Shaub has stayed on this limited ground. Indeed, I would argue that his Twitter effusion, which baffled everyone at the time and for which he later claimed direct responsibility, was, besides raising more general ethical concerns about professionalism and about correct use of the means of government communication, a clear overstepping of authority. Some of his more recent comments are at least close to the line, not because they were done but because they were not directed to the appropriate parties (the President, primarily, and the President-Elect, as the concerned party, and Congress), but were made in public. Public criticism is not standard OGE practice; it is doubtful that a Director has the authority to engage in it. And if he technically does, there's good reason to argue that it would be more appropriate to inform the President of his concerns so that the President can address it in public. This is indeed a puzzling aspect of the entire situation; why is Director Shaub making these statements, rather than President Obama, who can do so without any danger of overstepping his authority?

But there's another issue in the vicinity here. If OGE does not have direct authority to review and assess conflicts of interest relevant to the Presidency, who does? And the answer is very clear: only Congress and the Presidential Office itself. And Congress has perfect right to question over his actions on a matter like this, and, if necessary, reprimand the head of the OGE for failing to recognize this. It is, of course, another question whether it is prudent or reasonable for it to do so, but, again, Director Shaub's recent actions go well beyond the normal precedents for how the head of the OGE advises and assists in these matters.

Painter and Eisen are on much stronger ground when they criticize attempts to argue against Shaub's general record or his competence. The OGE is, if I can say it without sounding negative, just about the most boring bureaucracy in a government full of boring bureaucracy; that is to say, most of what the OGE does is quite cut-and-dry, a system of procedures for ruling and advising on what is consistent with various procedures, and the human judgment side (of which there is a fair amount) is almost wholly concerned with precedents and the interpretation of executive orders on very specific subjects. It works admirably, and extremely consistently, to the point that it is almost monotonous. Shaub has kept it running quite smoothly through his entire tenure, so that there could hardly be any general complaints about his work. But this is precisely what makes his recent unusual behavior -- and it is very unusual -- stand out all the more.

Painter and Eisen go on to say:

We think apologies are due Shaub. In addition, we recommend that Republicans back off of their threats. How about Chaffetz instead publicly affirm the need for the agency and invite Shaub to have a public conversation about that and about Trump’s conflicts with both the majority and minority members of the committee? We are sure that Shaub would accept such an offer and explain to the committee and the public why his concerns about the president-elect’s plan are well founded.

Rep. Chaffetz might be well advised to do such things; but it is certainly clear that he has neither constitutional nor legal obligation to do so. Director Shaub is concerned with one strand of ethical policy under the executive authority of the Office of the President and in accordance with the statutory guidelines laid down by Congress, and both the President and the Congress can, practially speaking, demand an accounting about pretty much anything concerning Shaub's actions as Director of USOGE. And if Chaffetz does honestly think there may be an overstepping of statutory authority here, he has an ethical obligation to follow up on it, particularly given that he is chairman of a Congressional committee with clear oversight authority for these matters. What Shaub would accept or not is irrelevant to this; he is an appointee operating under the President and Congress, not his own man. And the question is not whether his concerns about the President-Elect's plans are well founded; the question is whether he is acting in a way appropriate to his position. Any citizen can have well founded concerns about the President-Elect's plans; the route citizens have for dealing with this is to inform their Congressional representatives. But Shaub is acting as the head of a government agency with very specific and narrowly defined boundaries which he has an ethical and legal responsibility to respect. Chaffetz has been quite explicit that this is, in fact, what concerns him: his charge is that Shaub is "blurring the line between public relations and official ethics guidance". And, as I've noted, it's not an illegitimate concern -- Shaub's recent actions are not typical of how the OGE goes about giving official ethics guidance, and it's not at all clear why he is taking the responsibility himself to be public about it rather than turning the matter over to the President.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Moral Responsibility to Be Intelligent

As the chief moral guardian of the community, the Church must implore men to be good and well-intentioned and must extoll the virtues of kindheartedness and conscientiousness. But somewhere along the way the Church must remind men that devoid of intelligence, goodness and conscientiousness will become brutal forces leading to shameful crucifixions. Never must the Church tire of reminding people that they have a moral responsibility to be intelligent.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Love in Action.

As he goes on to say a bit later, this is not a moral responsibility to have formal training, but to have openmindedness, sound judgment, and love for truth: "One does not need to be a profound scholar to be openminded, nor a keen academician to engage in an assiduous pursuit for truth."

Sunday, January 15, 2017


In the whole Orient, only here did the Church display its old genius for using and transforming the material it found -- and that is why our Christian "veneer" has proved so durable, being rooted to our soil. And the Church could not do otherwise, because there was one ahead of it to show the way. Again, it was merely following the lead of its Lord. For the Child was here before the missionaries, the Child was here before the Church. The Child was willing to join our pagan idols, if only to defeat and demolish them. The Child was willing to live a pagan among us, and to become a rain god for us, and to bless our heathen ceremonies. But all the time it was preparing us for the faith.
[Nick Joaquin, "Culture Hero: The Santo Niño de Cebu", Culture and History, Anvil (Mandaluyong City: 2004) p. 108.]

The origins of the Santo Niño de Cebu are lost to history. It was probably carved in the fifteenth century by Flemish sculptors; it is usually said to be based on a vision by St. Teresa of Avila. In any case, it came into Castilian hands and thence went on a trip around the world. In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan, despite being Portuguese, helped the Spanish to organize a major expedition in search of new commercial routes to Asia, and when Magellan set sale, the statue of the Christ Child set sail with him. In 1521, having arrived in the Philippines, Magellan befriended Rajah Humabon of Cebu, who was, with his wife, baptized. According to Pigafetta, the queen was shown the Santo Niño and was very moved by it, asking if she could keep it. And so it was given to her.

Magellan went on to die shortly afterward at the Battle of Mactan, and the Spanish expedition returned home, having circumnavigated the world. One would have thought that the end of it, but no. In 1565 a new Spanish expedition arrived in the Philippines, under Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. Unlike the previous expedition, they were not well received, and battle ensued, with the Spanish massively overpowering the natives. The native village at Cebu burned to the ground. But one hut seems to have remained intact, and to their astonishment the Spanish found the Christ Child in it, certainly the same image that had sailed with Magellan. The locals may well have been worshiping it as a rain god, which is the possibility to which Joaquin refers above. Many of the more peculiar practices by which the Feast of the Holy Child of Cebu is commemorated are thought to go back to the pagan celebrations associated with the image during which the local natives worshiped a God they did not know.

Santo NiƱo de Cebu 2

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Dashed Off I

As always, dashed-off notes, to be taken with a grain of salt.

cooperation with external objects
practical knowledge of the externality of the world (cp. resistance, which can be seen as practical knowledge of independence)

Vagueness is always relative to an end.

Educational systems are systems of trust relationships.

system: list + principled reasons for items in list

beauty as such as a supposition for coherence of the world
the manifestation of unifying appropriateness

condign & congruous dignity

modalities as discovered by analogies

Liturgy, like Platonic Myth as understood by Olympiodorus, appeals to reason (by exhortation) and to spirit (by authoritative proclamation) and to imagination and the passions (by sign and symbol).

Serious and honest questions tend naturally to be pitched at a level lower than what is required to answer them; otherwise there would be scant reason to ask them.

The faith is not based on abstract metaphysics, but if you ask an abstract metaphysical question about it, it is absurd to demand that you not be given an abstract metaphysical answer.

The problem with phyletism is that it concedes too much to Babel and not enough to Pentecost.

the structure of conspiracy-theory thinking and the notion of priestcraft in early modern thought

rational soul: type
rational principles: principles
reasoning: coherence
memory & anticipation: conservation and anticipation
experience/history: assimilation
action: vigor

principles // conservation // vigor
organization // anticipation // assimilation

chronic vigor as (defeasible) sign of charity in doctrine.

Rosmini's celerity as closeness of fit between means and end

Every theodicy has implications for prudence.

viability: Diamond; inevitability: Box

The possibility of union with Truth itself is the precondition for the possibility of reasoning.

appreciation of arguments vs. acceptance of them

gratitude : grace :: justice : law
(cp Hobbes)

approaches to problem-solving
- transformation-of-problem approaches
- desiderata approaches
- trial-and-error approaches
- analogy-to-other-problems approaches
elements of the problem situation
- problem itself: problem aspects; solution requirements
- other problems: analogous problems
- path to solution: prior solving experience (habits of problem-solving)
- solution

Falsifiability and nonfalsifiability are said in many ways; there is not only one kind.

hyperanalogization as heuristic
hyperanalogization with trial as the primary principle undergirding the scientific revolution

measurement as a means of analogizing

dependency length minimization as a rhetorical constraint

exception as organizing hierarchies of universes of discourse

One of the key points of Frodo's pity for Gollum is that Frodo pitied him even without fully knowing how pitiable he truly was.

Even attending a poorly done Mass will teach a lot of good Catholic theology to those who have no prior experience with it.

the overwhelming importance of seeing law as a product of reason (even if sometimes defective reason)
- legislation as complex liberal art

classical utilitarianism & emergent pleasures from different combinations of utilities

honor in ownership, allegiance, and exchange

forms of nonconsonance-with-a-truth that are not inconsistency

We sometimes apply the word 'dignity' to mean 'consonance with dignity'.

immediate vs mediate consonance
direct vs symbolic consonance

sacramentalia and consonance with sacraments

Not all intrinsic goods are equally good.

peace, dignity, sufficiency, liberty, harmony, knowledge, virtue

decisive-battle refutations vs blockade refutations

We do not sense gaps in sensation; at least, they cannot be distinguished from mere changes or differences.

different conceptions of romance as meetaphors for inquiry into external world

gratitude-gifts, homage-gifts, encouragement-gifts, community-gifts

Kantianism as a reflection on unities (subject, series, system)

Romantic glorification of the past is dangerous, but so are most of the ways of avoiding it.

three primary rights of the faithful with regard to the liturgy
(1) that it be genuine and authentic
(2) that it be done appropriately and suitably to Church teaching
(3) that it be appropriate to the sacraments, and their natures, themselves

the sacramental interest of all the participants in the liturgical commonwealth

triadic families of arguments for existence of God:
possibility, essence, idea
partial act (becoming), complete act (being), duration (continuing to be)
intentionality, natural system, design

'karmic linkage' among databases

extensions as parts that are effects

An improvement, considered as such, is a kind of means.

The success of a longterm political movement depends almost wholly on how well those who are in it learn.

When probabilities are credences AND evidential measures AND chances of events AND accuracies of propositions, something is bound to break somewhere.

the five motives for trying to know (St. Bernard, 36.iii/3 on Song)
(1) base curiosity
(2) base vanity
(3) base gain
(4) charity
(5) prudence

The Incarnate Word is the efficient cause of human completion.

Christ's humanity: conjoined instrument :: Christ's sacraments : separated instruments

adoption as participation and image of natural filiation

Christianity begins with the filial piety of Christ.

The acquired virtue of religion is to God as Creator; the infused virtue of religion to God as Our Father. In the first we stand as creatures; in the second we stand as children, not metaphorical but adopted.

matrimony as remedy of concupiscence // Passion and baptism as remedy for original sin
(much stronger than mere parallel, actually)

God as integra causa amoris

Lv 9:6-24 and the Beatific Vision

deification or theosis as opposed to the falsehood of idols
- discussion of the falsehood of idols in Wis, Baruch, etc., as tracing by negative what belongs to our deification by grace

moral exemplarity of Passion // pedagogical influence of matrimony

For Christ's Passion to be morally exemplary, it must exhibit moral satisfaction.

the institution of the sacraments according to the Confession of Dositheus
(1) Baptism: Mt 28:19; Mk 16:16
(2) Chrismation: lk 24:49
(3) Priesthood: Lk 22:19; Mt 18:18
(4) Sacrifice: Mt 26-27; Jn 6:53
(5) Marriage: Mt 9:6
(6) Penance: Jn 22:23;Lk 13:3,5
(7) Holy Oil or Prayer Oil: Mk 6:13
- the Confession also notes apostolic witness for Chrism (2 Cor 1; also notes Dionysius); Marriage (Eph 5) and Unction (Jas 5).
- note Confession on Eucharist: 'being instituted by the Substantial Word, and hallowed by the invocation of the Holy Spirit, is perfected by the presence of the thing signified, i.e., of the Body and Blood of Christ'

the vicarious as instrumental

Tradition is the final cause of sacred doctrine as human act.

To be complete is actually to be according to a mode.

two major issues for any account of Beatific Vision: (1) proportionality (2) medium

grace // seminal reasons

principle, form, relation to another

'Sooth itself a-couths.'

can, could, couth, cunning

tool, build, stuff, lure

unknown cannot be learned from known
(1) boundness to perception
(2) bare difference
unknown can be learned from known
(1) by native means: (a) concept (b) mechanism
(2) by abstraction

decay rates of measurements

the linguistic turn as a form of positivism (language as measurement)

Possession conceptually requires free use or enjoyment. (Although may be potential, future, etc.)

global skepticism as conspiracy theory

human equality: origin, nature, end

Catherine of Siena (Dial 1.7): God distributes virtues diversely, not equally, so that we would work together in virtue.

the relation between humor and puzzlement about causes

pragmatic and moral arguments for God's existence // arguments for existence of free will?

recognizing ourselves as secondary subject, as secondary causes, as secondary unifiers of possibilities

fine-tuning arguments for the Church

Being able to will X entails being able to mean X.

speech acts and social acts as acts intrinsically related to other acts

humor & the ugly that doe snot displace or destroy the beautiful

regularist vs necessitarian acocunts of moral obligations

prima facie duties as ceteris paribus laws

gratitude as quasi-mereological

consent theories of obligation // regularist theories of laws of nature

sacraments as presumptively beneficial public goods

anarchism as a form of skepticism

the image of God with respect to the divine unity
the image of God with respect to the divine trinity

theodicies & convention-breaking in literary improvement

Aesthetic Colouring

It would be an error to suppose that aesthetic principles apply only to our judgments of works of art or of those natural objects which we attend to chiefly on account of their beauty. Every idea which is formed in the human mind, every activity and emotion, has some relation, direct or indirect, to pain and pleasure. If, as is the case in all the more important instances, these fluid activities and emotions precipitate, as it were, in their evanescence certain psychical solids called ideas of things, then the concomitant pleasures are incorporated more or less in those concrete ideas and the things acquire an aesthetic colouring. And although this aesthetic colouring may be the last quality we notice in objects of practical interest, its influence upon us is none the less real, and often accounts for a great deal in our moral and practical attitude.

In the leading political and moral idea of our time, in the idea of democracy, I think there is a strong aesthetic ingredient, and the power of the idea of democracy over the imagination is an illustration of that effect of multiplicity in uniformity which we have been studying.

George Santayana, The Sense of Beauty, section 27. It's an essential point: political schemes and ideas get popular power only by aesthetic appeal, because it is only the aesthetic appeal that makes people regard the ideas as vivid and living, and thus as sacrifice-worthy.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Athanasius of the West

Today is the Feast of St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church, often called the most Greek of the Latin Fathers. St. Hilary was a highly educated pagan Neoplatonist who converted to Christianity along with his wife and daughter, and was so respected in Poitiers that somewhere around 350 they forced him to become bishop, despite the fact that he was still married. He became active in opposition to the Arian heresy, and spent four years exiled for his opposition. It was during his exile in Phrygia that he turned his attention to a problem he was one of the few to recognize: a lack of communication between the orthodox in the East and the orthodox in the West, resulting in a failure of cooperation. Out of this recognition came the two works that most contribute to his status as one of the Church's great teachers: the De synodis, which explained the doctrines of several major Eastern councils (Ancyra, Antioch, Sirmium) and analyzed apparent differences between Eastern and Western formulations, and the De trinitate, the first systematic and thorough examination of Nicene Christology in Latin and a major early conduit for introducing Greek theological ideas to the West. Defense of orthodoxy in both East and West had often been a matter of simply defending what one's local church had always done; Hilary was one of the few who fully grasped the fact that an adequate response to Arianism required both East and West supporting each other.

From the Liber de synodis, speaking of the Nicene homoousion:

But perhaps on the opposite side it will be said that it ought to meet with disapproval, because an erroneous interpretation is generally put upon it. If such is our fear, we ought to erase the words of the Apostle, There is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, because Photinus uses this to support his heresy, and refuse to read it because he interprets it mischievously. And the fire or the sponge should annihilate the Epistle to the Philippians, lest Marcion should read again in it, And was found in fashion as a man, and say Christ's body was only a phantasm and not a body. Away with the Gospel of John, lest Sabellius learn from it, I and the Father are one. Nor must those who now affirm the Son to be a creature find it written, The Father is greater than I. Nor must those who wish to declare that the Son is unlike the Father read: But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father....Shall we, because the wise men of the world have not understood these things, and they are foolish unto them, be wise as the world is wise and believe these things foolish? Because they are hidden from the godless, shall we refuse to shine with the truth of a doctrine which we understand? We prejudice the cause of divine doctrines when we think that they ought not to exist, because some do not regard them as holy. If so, we must not glory in the cross of Christ, because it is a stumbling-block to the world; and we must not preach death in connection with the living God, lest the godless argue that God is dead.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A New Poem Draft and a Poem Re-Draft


In homely church on lonely hill
the prayers born of hope are stored,
a warehouse small with whispers filled,
reserves of longing for the Lord.
Around the church the roses grow;
they bloom with sunrise-smiles bright,
the confidence of those who know
that darkness loses to the light.

The hopes are small; you cannot see
their turnings save in brilliant flame;
they dance in subtle verses free
like children hiding in a game,
and some dissolve, the bubble breaks,
upon the wind, by time resolved;
but some grow strong, a dream that wakes,
an angel from a breeze evolved.

A Song of David

Less was I than all my brothers,
youngest of my father's sons,
simple shepherd of the flocks,
ruler of the kids and goats.

Flute I fashioned from the reed;
harp my fingers shaped most fair;
glory gave I to the Lord.
Mountains cannot tell His splendor;
hills cannot proclaim His Name.

Take my words, O tall-topped trees,
sing my melodies, baaing sheep.
Who can thus declare or speak?
God our Lord has seen all things;
He has given His attention.

Prophet He sent with holy oil:
Samuel came to grace my brow.
Out my brothers went to meet him,
handsome-formed and handsome-faced.
Tall they were; their hair was thick.
God did not anoint them kings.

Fetched was I from behind the flock,
oil pure poured on my head,
prince He made me of His people,
ruler in His covenant.