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I read the Wall Street Journal. I subscribe. I've been a subscriber for about twenty years.

When I first subscribed to the WSJ I did it to improve my business acumen. People were talking about the Dow Jones Industrials, and I had no idea what they were, what the DJIA was, or what the NASDAQ was. The stock market was a mystery to me. Eventually, the company I worked for (Intel) gave me stock options and I had no idea what they were, only that they could net me some money if I did the right things with them.

So I bought a book called How to Read the Wall Street Journal. A better title would be The Economy for Dummies. From that book I learned how to read stock quotes, what stock was, and what the prices meant. What a P/E ratio was. What the strike price on an options contract meant.

The Wall Street Journal is one of the finest sources of business news in America. There are others, (like Barron's) but the WSJ is the go-to paper in a colloquial sense. If you want to know about free enterprise in America and the state of the world economy, it's an incredible source of unbiased information.

It was only much later in life that I began to read the WSJ Opinion page. For those who follow such things, to say the WSJ has a right-leaning slant is to call the Hoover Dam an extreme case of beavering.

Last week the opinion editor of the WSJ defended himself against charges made by a European newspaper that the WSJ supported the rise of fascism in America. The editor did not refute the charges, but said, rather, the next time Europe breeds a fascist government it should look to someone else's army to obliterate them.

Last week, the opinion editor of the WSJ lambasted a senior Republican leader for dropping support for Supreme Court nominee Alito by saying that senator had no credibility because he had lost the support of several influential talk show hosts.

Last week in the pages of the WSJ opinion section a WSJ editor suggested that the discovery of and removal of weapons of mass destruction from Iraq were never the true context for the invasion, but that the U.S. establishment of a "beachhead" in the middle east always was -- and the American public should not feel misled by its government for not giving this reason up front. We need to "get over it" because we can't deal with the truth.

I read this newspaper every day. It infuriates me, which gets my heart pumping better than a couple cups of coffee.

After I am done being angry I feel concerned. And I realize that in trying to be unbiased about this situation I'm being disingenuous. I am a moderate, truly. Probably, I'm slightly more to the left than the right, but as I have said in the past, I do frequently vote the republican ticket.

I wonder if this is how right-wingers felt when Clinton got his now infamous blow job and people felt he ran slipshod over the integrity of the office of the presidency. Because it seems to me what's happening now on a large scale is that everyone is getting the moral equivalent of a blow job and redefining the word "is". Having a president with no command of the English language say to a group about the Constitution he swore to protect at two inaugurations -- "it's just a piece of paper" -- feels about as significant as sexual misconduct, or at least as serious as those who would say the American flag is just a piece of cloth.

I suppose both sides have their day in the sun, and their days under the hot lights. We dole out power to politicians who are not always the brightest bulbs in the box. Politics is a popularity contest. We give power to people who don't always have the best judgment, education, or intent, and some of these people run slipshod over the rules we set out for them by committing such crimes as bribery and influence peddling and sexual misconduct and international conflict.

The price of gas is down from its highs of over $3 per gallon here in California. I'm paying about $0.80 less per gallon -- a huge drop. What caused this drop after the spike? One presumes the administration in the White House did. Now we can make the case that the President's colleagues in the oil business didn't want to sink their party by wrecking the world economy the way Enron did to California in 2000. They were grubbing profit, plain and simple, at the expense of American consumers. They relented. And in the end the result is good for Americans. And -- it denies Al Qaida one of their key demands of fuel prices in America at parity with the rest of the world. In any case, it's good for the Owl family economy. Low gas prices get my support.

But let's think about this. Five years ago, being happy about gas prices of $2.50/gal would have been impossible. We were paying a dollar less than that. How is it we can be happy about $2.50 today, when we couldn't in 2000?

Five years ago would the support of a television talk show host weigh against the credibility of a senator of the United States?

Today the WSJ came out in favor of torturing prisoners of war. They deride Senator John McCain, a man who himself was imprisoned and tortured. They suggest that we have been disingenuous as a people, and that those who oppose torture are self-serving Pollyannas unwilling to face what's necessary to do to operate in today's dangerous world.

If the WSJ had printed that a year ago, half their subscribers would have cancelled.

What makes supporting torture acceptable today, when it wasn't anywhere in our minds three years ago? What makes gas prices of $2.50/gallon a breath of fresh air? I've heard plenty of my friends suggest that getting blow jobs in the oval office is no big deal. Would Eisenhower have thought that? What would Ike have thought about Iraq -- about establishing a beachhead in the middle east by working off unverified information?

When I was a kid my father taught me that boys didn't hit girls, ever. When I was outsized by Yvette Pickett and she clocked me in the street in front of my house, and I hit her back -- even though she was four inches taller than me, I got grounded. Why? Because that was our family ethic. We didn't violate it because a larger girl whacked me on the playground.

When I got older I learned how to behave safely around firearms. At the age of 18 I owned my own 9mm semiautomatic handgun. I owned rifles. These were in my bedroom, complete with ammunition.

God forbid I should ever have taken one of those guns from its locked cabinet and cleaned it in a crowded room in a way that the barrel of a completely field-stripped, totally inert weapon, crossed the body of a human being -- my father would have decked me. The thought of bringing a gun to school and killing the people who pissed me off was so far from my daily stream of thoughts I could have sat down for years and never conceived of anything like the Columbine massacre.

Yet today, what teacher or police officer would condone a father giving his son such firepower, irrespective of the boy's temperament?

What has changed in all of us that has made us so fearful and so less human? We had previously endured world wars and police actions and fear of nuclear holocaust. Fear is nothing new.

Yet it was not American policy to torture the Nazis we captured sixty years ago, nor the North Koreans, nor the North Vietnamese, nor the Navajo nor the British in 1776.

What is robbing us of our humanity? Because to me, the idea that the United States tortures its prisoners to gain information, irrespective of the value to the security of the nation, leads us down the same path as the murderers at Columbine. A step away from the global equivalent of the ethic, "boys don't hit girls," normalizes what was once unacceptable. What was once unthinkable, becomes necessary. Then all boys become potential murderers. Torture and imprisonment of anyone is what "must be done in a dangerous world" to protect a false sense of security.

People who know torture is not beyond the will of the government learn to live in fear of the government. Silencing the naysayers, as Pat Robertson suggests, is such a small step after that. Then, as the brave man said, one morning you wake up, and they come for you.

It really is exactly like that for me. Reading the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal I knew I would write this essay, and I know that should the people who justify torture persist in their destruction of American ideals and morality, that one day they will come for me for writing this.

Excalibre says re Orthodoxy and heresy: A parable involving pigs : Please do tell, though, exactly what significance things like the monophysite heresy have...is Jesus gonna deny entrance into Heaven if you don't have exactly the right comprehension of how his divinity and humanity interact? i don't mean to be sarcastic, just a bit cheeky - a recent writeup I did entailed learning some about the heresies argued about in the early church, and the things that resulted in schism between Christian groups don't seem to be meaningless issues as much as semantic fighting. and given that we can't (for example) understand the nature of the Trinity perfectly, excommunicating one another over matters like whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father or from the Father and the Son is kinda incomprehensible to me.

I have to imagine that - assuming that Christianity is correct, of course, believers would not be shunned for having incorrectly concluded about the nature of the godhead. so this still doesn't really explain to me why such matters were enough to divide the church.

Thanks for the msg, Excalibre! You address a whole slew of issues in those few lines, so I;'m afraid my reply is going to be on the long side. Ironically, much longer than my node.

Yes, the node is inadequate. Truth is, I've come to believe that no node can fully address or explain any but the simplest of issues; and this is a very complex issue. It's flawed, and no amount of tinkering on my part is going to fix it. Plus I've given up tinkering with my old nodes.

It's not intended as a comprehensive look at the issue of orthodoxy and heresy, and certainly not an explanation of why individual heresies are grounds for excommunication or schism. The first task rightly belongs to the heresy node, and the second belongs to the nodes for individual heresies. I'm just trying to give the whole situation a different perspective for someone who can't understand why orthodoxy can be so important to the Church. (I say "can be" because my own denomination increasingly seems to not care.) It's not meant to wrap it all up, but maybe add to someone's understanding in a small way.

I honestly don't know if Jesus will deny someone entrance into Heaven for incorrect belief about the nature of the Godhead. I am convinced that Jesus will lead those who follow Him to God. But following Him at the very least requires us to believe that there's a reason for doing so, that He can and will save us. If you don't agree with me, we don't have to set each other on fire; but if we tried to work and worship together in a church, we'd soon find our beliefs incompatible.

Quick example: A few years ago, a priest at my then-church organized a meeting for anyone interested in teaching Sunday school. It ended in confusion and irritation because the priest insisted that we not teach the church's children and teens Christian doctrine. He didn't want to be "dogmatic", he explained. We were under the impression that one of the essential jobs Christians have is telling people about the Gospel; and while none of us were door-knocking evangelists, we felt that Sunday school was pretty obviously the one place where it was not only appropriate but required.

Orthodoxy and heresy, right there. (Though which is which is the question, eh?) You can see the conflict between definitions of who we are, who Jesus is, how Scripture is to be read, and how we are to respond. We could co-exist, sure, but we couldn't create a Sunday school program. Just in that one aspect, the church was crippled.

Bear in mind that excommunication doesn't ban someone from Heaven. It means the excommunicated person can't receive Communion from the Church. This is a big deal if you're a Christian, but it doesn't mean damnation. It means that certain key beliefs of ours are so different, and have become such an issue in our spiritual lives together, and you and I are no longer in communion with one another. We aren't eating at the same table anymore.

The significane of each heresy is particular to each. Some of them are pretty obvious, while others are extremely obscure. There are a lot of heresies I didn't understand at first, but eventually came to see how they would disrupt the life of the Church if they were accepted. I suspect that a lot of others that baffle me would become clear if, like the people who typically debate such things, I spend years poring over them using manuscripts written in Latin, Greek, and Aramaic, and Coptic. I also suspect that some of them are just semantics. But then again, sometimes a lot depends on how you word things.

Monophysitism, though - that's easy. In its strict form it claims that Christ was not human, but completely divine. Either He was divine-only from the beginning, and His humanity was an illusion, or His human nature was obliterated later in life. If true, it means that Jesus was not one of us. He wasn't tempted as we're tempted, He didn't laugh or grieve or become irritable the way we do, He didn't suffer and die as we do. When He rose again in the flesh, it wasn't the first instance of something that'll happen to all of us, but something unique to Him. When He ascended into Heaven to sit at the Father's right hand, He didn't take human nature with Him. It was a return of the divine to the divine.

All of the things I mentioned are teachings of orthodox Christianity. As a Christian, I follow Christ as God, but also as a brother human being. I look for His presence in other human beings, something that seems strange if He never truly shared our nature. Orthodoxy proclaims firmly that in Christ, God and Man are no longer strangers, with God "up there" and unapproachable. Something has genuinely changed about the way we're related. Monophysitism undoes this. It says that God did something, maybe something great; but whatever it was, it didn't bridge that gap.

A single church that proclaimed both doctrines simply would not work. The foundations of our beliefs would always be at issue.

Thanks again for writing me. I don't normally engage in interweb religious discussion anymore (it eats up an incredible amount of time if you let it), but I thought this was a really good question. And this is a subject I find really fascinating.

Dudes, I need advice, my heart is breaking here.

In the parking lot there is a temporary dumpster. It’s going to be gone in a week or so. This week there are three cats living under it.

Two of them are tiny kittens. They look just barely old enough to be away from their mother. The third is not their mother, it is a horrible fat tom who won’t let the little ones eat.

I don’t think this tom is their father either - he’s been hanging around the parking lot for a year or so, and these kittens have only recently showed up, fully formed. The colors don’t make sense at all either - one kitten is snow white, one is yellow, and the tom is gray striped (I know odd things can happen with coloration but I don’t buy it in this case).

I think some asshole ditched these kittens and they took up with the tom in order to eat the scraps of the scraps he finds in the dumpster. I think they need to come inside.

The only problem is how to separate them from the tom. They’re clearly scared of him - I took food out a couple of times, and the tom won’t let them get near it. They cringe back from him. They’re also wary of me, but they’ve let me get pretty close. The problem is, I can only approach the kittens, not the tom. The tom is wild but the kittens don't appear to be. When I get near the group of all three, the tom bolts and the kittens freak out. But the kittens hang close to the tom because that's where the food is.

So I am looking for advice on 1. how to separate the tom from the kittens and 2. how to grab the kittens after that. I know enough to wear work gloves, and I know the trick of using two plates of food, but the tom eats so fast that he’s able to bolt one down, then run over to the second before the kittens have gotten bold enough to investigate. Do I need like sixteen plates of food or what? Because I will do it.

My brother has also instructed me in how to build a cartoon-style box trap, seriously. I will probably give this a try even though it’s a long shot and my neighbors are going to be watching my ridiculous ass play wile e coyote in the parking lot.

Halspal, patron saint of sad doggies, has advised me to call Animal Control. That’s not a bad idea and I will probably do so if this isn’t taken care of soon. But right now it’s after 5 pm and I know how this county works. And it’s sleeting.

I know animals have instincts but they're just so little and they have no mother and this apartment isn't well-suited to cats but I will figure that out after I get them inside, which, right now, is all I want in the world.

If anybody has any ideas on how to nab these guys, please, please msg.

Addendum: I've had cats all my life and most of them started out as strays. I know how to take care of a cat once it's inside. I know that cats who've been living outside need certain special treatment and prompt vet attention. I really appreciate that so many people want to make sure these kittens are well taken care of, and I know it's well-intentioned, but uh I don't need any more advice on things like how to put litter in a box.

Update: better than blankets were the ratty but warm winter clothes a moving-out neighbor left by the trash. I stuffed some of them under the dumpster, so they'll at least be warm ("not frozen") and fed tonight. Tomorrow I'll call around, see if I can borrow a trap.

the good ideas so far:

squeezie: multiple plates of food and possibly gettings a couple of other people to help you. If there is one person per cat maybe you can scare off the tom for long enough to get the others to grab a kitten each.

Lometa: Use some sort of food that sticks to the plate and will take a while for the tom to eat. Like peanut butter another food would be oatmeal. Mix it with tuna or something real yummy then bake it till it's good and dried on the plate. One that you don't care about and want to throw away. Have you considered calling the Humane Society or your vet?

Chras4: try stuffing a couple of old blankets that smell like you under different ends of the dumpster. tom may take one, but the kittens will get in the other ...they'll be somewhat warm tonight....and hopefully will recognize your scent tomorrow and may come to you

Transitional Man: they make cat traps, and shelters will loan them. Bait it with food. get a cage to keep the kitten til you can get it home. Now they're feral so here's what you have to do next, 'cos I've done it. find a deep closet, or aftificially create one a safe place for them to find. Insert a litter box, food and water between you and them. best in a room whose door you can keep shut. Let them know you won't chase them once they are there. food and water, change the litter box and wait until they get enough confidence to come out. I chose my bedroom. I worked at my desk there, I slept there. They were sleeping with me before I could pick them up. One tamed, slowly give them room.

Chiisuta: ...look into what your local animal control with do with them. Most city shelters are kill shelters and there may be a no-kill shelter in your area. If there is, call them first because they might be willing to trap all of the cats and refurbish them for pet purposes. If they won't, but will accept the cats, or at least the kittens, put out a crapload of plates of food and catch em. Wear some oven mitts and a thick jacket so you can grab em and not worry about claws and teeth.

golFUR: Nothing catches cats like dogs eh? Don't sic a dog on them, just plain ole dogged pursuit. The tom can probably outrun and outhide you, I doubt the kittens can. Failing that, lure the tom and see if the kittens follow.

icicle: hey lady, do your neighbors have tough-but-kitten-friendly pets by any chance? if it was my house i'd send my simon (fixed male, 20 pounds of total muscle and loves kittens) after that fucking tom. also, dogs and cats who have been mommies in the past tend to have the correct instincts about who to chase off and who to bring to safety. ...feral cat coalition of oregon: 503-797-2606. they trap release and neuter strays in portland. but it is 3:30 on the west coast so maybe someone would be around to talk you through it. also their website feralcats.com has some links to national feral cat-oriented groups... maybe they can point you to something local

ToasterLeavings: food that'll take the tom a while to eat, like something partially wrappe up, then throw tidbits to the kittens and lure them away a bit. if you have to throw a blanket over them - they'll forget they were scared in a couple of minutes.

allseeingeye: ...suck it up and stress the kitties a bit by catching them. You need a few people (like 1 per cat) and a box or a cage for the tom. Gloves and long sleeves. If you bait them with food, hang around close and nab them while they (or the tom) is eating. I wouldn't get a dog involved, contrary to what people say. The tom, in his way, is trying to help them, but he is surely feral, and instinct takes over. If anything, he is teaching the kittens how to be wild, and you will want to get to them before too long. Sadly, I would leave the tom to his dumpster unless animal control is no kill, because there is little hope of taming him. Yup, you deffo need more able bodies. I could catch a hundred dogs in the time it used to catch a kitten, but is isn't impossible... If you try, and manage to nab the tom but not both kittens, you would be better off to let the tom loose again, to stay with the other kitten.

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