The success sequence

family-2057301_640If you follow this sequence, exactly, in this order, there is only a 3% chance that you will become poor:

(1) Graduate from high school.

(2) Get a job.

(3)  Get married.

(4)  Have children.

If you omit any of these steps or if you do them in a different order (such as have children before you get married), your chances of becoming poverty-stricken skyrocket.

A recent study demonstrates the validity of this “success sequence” and goes on to observe that large numbers of today’s young adults are not following it and are experiencing the consequences.

After the jump, George Will discusses the findings.


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A smoking gun?


Donald Trump, Jr., has released the e-mail exchange that led to his meeting with that Russian lawyer, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government’s attempt to help the Trump campaign.

That’s what the emails say, and Jr. says how he “loves it” and wants to bring his father’s campaign manager and his sister’s husband into the meeting.

Now, as we said yesterday, the meeting didn’t bear any fruit as the lawyer only wanted to talk about changing an American sanction so as to allow Americans to adopt Russian children again.  So the Trump party walked out without getting dirt on Clinton.  So Russia didn’t help them.

And yet the Trump people were told Russia wanted to help the Trump campaign and went to a meeting in which they thought they would receive the help.  This would seem to be not collusion but attempted collusion.  Not that the Russians sought to influence the election and the Trump team received their help.  But that the Trump team sought Russia’s help!  Even though in this case they didn’t receive it!

At any rate, it looks bad.  At the very least, according to the pro-Trump New York Post, it shows that “Donald Trump Jr. is an idiot.”  To see what Democrats will do with this, read this take.

Now some people are saying that this is a “smoking gun,” providing evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Do you think it is? [Read more…]

Christian multi-universe theories

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The scholastic theology of the Middle Ages was very much in thrall to the philosophy of Aristotle.  One of the themes of the Reformation was to move away from Aristotelian thought in favor of the Hebraic thought of the Bible.  But already in the Middle Ages, Aristotle had his critics.  In 1277, the Pope asked the Bishop of Paris, Etienne Tempier, to look into reports that some of the faculty members at the University of Paris were taking Aristotelianism way too far.  So Tempier studied the matter and came up with a list of 219 propositions in Aristotle that were heretical.  Any professor teaching them would be excommunicated and would lose his position.

Church-imposed censorship of the free inquiry and the untrammeled life of the mind that are at the heart of the university!  So some would consider it.  But a line of research today, detailed in the article linked after the jump, argues that Tempier’s list had the effect of liberating Western thought from Aristotle’s scientific teachings.  And this, in turn, was an important factor in the rise of modern science.

One of the teachings that Bishop Tempier condemned was the notion of Aristotle’s that only one universe is possible.  Tempier said that this denies God’s omnipotence.  If God wanted to, He could create any number of separate universes.

This led to other theologians speculating as to how that might, in fact, be the case.  And how those universes would also be inhabited with different forms of life.  All anticipating today’s multi-universe theories and speculation about alien life and civilizations.

Sarah Laskow tells this fascinating tale at Atlas Obscura, quoted and linked after the jump.

Yes, multi-universe theories are nothing new.  Milton alludes to them.  As I understand it, Mormons believe that those who get to go to Heaven will become gods of their own universe.  But the difference between the difference between what William of Ware and Nicholas of Cusa were speculating about and many of today’s multi-universe theories is that the latter hinge not on God’s creativity but on all possibilities being realized from our universe.

William of Ware said that any multiple universes must be parallel to and completely separate from our own, with no possibility of their interacting.  Some multi-verse theorists today speak in that same way, but what some quantum physicists are saying is that every possibility here, in our universe,  creates another universe.  A subatomic particle randomly moves to the left.  In another universe, it moves to the right.  Similarly, I choose to walk through the door on my left.  In another universe, I choose to walk through the door on my right.  In another universe, Hitler won the war.  In another universe, Archduke Ferdinand was never assassinated and World War I, the Russian Revolution, World War II, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War never happened.

I may not have that right.  (Someone who knows, please correct me.)  But my impression is that the Christian versions of this theory hold that God could and might have created multiple universes, whereas the postmodern versions have human or random actions bringing them into existence.

But read what Sarah Laskow has to say on the subject. . . . [Read more…]

Why it was good that we broke away from Britain


Some say that the American revolution was not really necessary.  That staying with Great Britain would not mean the loss of freedoms or succumbing to tyranny.  Great Britain and its former colonies that are now autonomous members of the Commonwealth under the monarchy are quite free today.  If the American colonies didn’t have their revolution, today they would be like Canada.  And is that so bad?

What do you think of that argument?  After the jump, consider three examples of how the British system makes the state far more powerful over individual citizens, whose rights have far fewer protections, than in the American system. [Read more…]

Russian adoptions and the Donald Trump Jr. meeting

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President Trump’s son, Donald, Jr., admits that after his father’s nomination, he met with a Russian lawyer who said that she could provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton.  But that he and his father’s key advisors Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner walked out when her story didn’t amount to anything and it became clear that what she really wanted to talk about was Russia’s adoption policy.

On the surface, this would seem to be a case of the Russians trying to influence the election.  Why else would they offer damaging information about the Democratic nominee to the Republican nominee?  Wouldn’t this be an attempt to help get the Republican elected?

But there is more to the story.  As Natasha Bertrand shows, after the jump, the lawyer represents a Russian who is trying to restore the ability of Americans to adopt Russian children.

In response to an American law denying visas to Russian officials and oligarchs alleged to have been involved with the killing in custody of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky.  In retaliation, Vladimir Putin ended the program allowing for Americans to adopt children from Russian orphanages.  (I know a family that adopted two Russian boys.)

To be sure, the Russian who started a foundation to restore American adoptions and sent his lawyer to talk with the Trump family may well have had ulterior motives in wanting the Magnitsky Act repealed.  He may or may not have connections to the Russian government.  He may well have been working for his own interests in trying to persuade the Republican candidate to take up his cause.

So, contrary to how this is being played in much of the media, this is not “a smoking gun” proving the Trump’s administration’s collusion with the Russia government in throwing the election.  I just wish Donald, Jr., were less interested in getting dirt on Hillary Clinton and more interested in restoring the Russian adoption program!

Read the complicated story of the Magnitsky Act and this particular Russian lawyer after the jump.

UPDATE:  The New York Times is reporting that in an e-mail setting up the meeting, Donald, Jr., was told that it was part of an effort by the Russian government to help his father’s candidacy.

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“Make America Great Again”: The Hymn

For the background of this song, see this:  Church Choir Debuts ‘Make America Great Again’ Hymn.  It is performed by the choir of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, the same congregation that held the patriotic service we blogged about.  This venue is not the church but a 4th of July celebration at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

There are several songs with this title online, but this one is by Gary Moore, former music director of First Baptist.  Read the lyrics.

Some thoughts and lines of discussion after the jump. [Read more…]