Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy Holidays from the Rover Staff

When prompted to give their favorite part of the Holiday Season and resolutions for the new year, here are the responses of some of the Rover staff. Have a safe and happy New Year!

  • From Matt (Editor in Chief):
    Favorite part of the holidays: spending time at my family's ranch on the Texas-Mexico border for the week between Christmas and New Year's. New Year's Resolution: To put the horrific year that was 2007 behind me. And to catch up on correspondence.
  • From Kathleen (Rover Writer):
    My favorite part of the holiday season is going skating around a giant Christmas tree downtown in Pittsburgh outside. I feel like my life is a movie, and it might be I'm not sure.
  • From Greer (Dublin Bureau Chief):
    New Years Resolution: To stop strongly disliking Trinity College Dublin and to try to make Irish friends.

  • From Darragh (Webmaster/Blogmeister):
    Favorite part of the holidays: I really, really like wrapping presents because I do a really, really good job.

    New Year's Resolution: I desperately need to learn how to manage my time better so I can do everything that I'm doing without staying up past 4 am every day. I don't think I could do another semester like that.
  • From Brian (Executive Editor):
    Fave part of holidays: Going home to ATX where 50-degree weather means everyone breaks out the hot chocolate and mittens.

    New Year's Resolution: Stop writing long research-based articles for the Rover and instead train our talented youngsters, so they'll be ready to take over when these gray hairs move on.
  • From Mike (Sports Editor):
    My favorite part of the holiday season is visiting with all of my cousins, and my new years resolution is to stop procrastinating.
  • From Brad (Politics Editor):
    My thoughts on the semester is that it was the fastest semester ever! I can't believe it, but it's over. And thank God! Anyway, my favorite part of the holiday season is my mom's homecooking and family time. My New Year's resolution is to make the most of my final semester experience at Notre Dame. This includes but is not limited to more trips to the Backer.
  • From Kevin (Production Chief):
    My favorite part of the holiday season is either palm trees used as Christmas trees or Christmas beach trips. (I am from Florida).

    New Years Resolutions:
    1. Play Snow Football
    2. Not Curse the weather everyday
    3. Cheer Notre Dame onto a National Championship.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The System Is Down

It was brought to my attention recently that the main website ( has expired like a bad carton of holiday eggnog. (mmm ... eggnogg ... ) I have sent an email out about this, and expect a response soon. Since it is the holiday season, don't expect anything to happen immediately because tis not the season to sit in front of a computer.

Until then, peruse the blog, leave comments, start a debate, end a debate, have cookies.

(Whenever I hear the phrase "The System is Down", I think of this)
( -> strongbad emails)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day

Kevin offered Christmas greetings yesterday, and I also extend those greetings to all our readers-students, faculty and alums.

Since I am the first one awake this morning I take the privilege of writing the post for Christmas Day. I considered Christmas Cheers & Jeers, but without editing I doubt Matt and Brian would be too happy. So I address an overplayed, but non the less salient topic.

I am not a person who particularly enjoys Christmas. I never have. I understand the spirit of the season and I have seen every version of A Christmas Carol more than once on midafternoon cable (Muppet version is the best). But for whatever reason it has not been a particularly important holiday to me-I always enjoyed "American" holidays like Thanksgiving and July 4th better. It could be some of the anticlimactic gifts that I received as a selfish child (which admittedly still lives in me somewhere). It could be the general lack of Christmas-i-ness in Southern California; it doesn't snow, it doesn't even get cold-I ran the AC in my car on the way to Mass this evening. It could be some personal disgust that I harbor for the rampant consumerism that has unfortunately overcome the real meaning of Christmas; yet I know that this consumerism keeps many Americans employed and for that we should be thankful based on how the economy is running these days. What probably affects me most though is my lack of religious appreciation. Most of us treat Christmas as if it were the be-all and the end-all of the liturgical year, which it is not. That designation is reserved for the Triduum. I have been an altar server since 5th grade and I can attest that Triduum gets short shrift compared to the crowd that turns out for Christmas Eve and morning Masses. Further compounding the problem is the erroneous idea that Christmas(December 25) actually coincides with any significant religious date, which it does not. It coincides with Winter Solstice (in the Julian calendar) and the pagan celebration of the birth of the sun. Birth of the Son, anyone? But I digress.

In the last several weeks I have heard almost nothing about Jesus, outside of a specific Church context. I haven't even heard of goodwill that much. We hear this every year, but Jesus is the reason for the season. It should be brought back to Him, or at the very least it should be about "peace to all the world and goodwill to man." Unfortunately, America has a long way to go before we can realize this.

In closing I wouldl iek to relate the homily given by my pastor (a Notre Dame grad) this evening. He had two volunteers (little girls from the audience) unwrap two presents. One contained a home-made Teddy bear that Fr. McGuine had received a few years ago. He had named it Jesus (Hay-Zeus) in honor of the season. As nice as that gift was Father explained to the children that it is less valuable than Jesus (Geez-us). The second package, Father explained before the girls unwrapped it, contained a gift more valuable than Jesus. Well, they went at it to get to that which is more valuable than Jesus. Predictably, they were greeted with an empty box. "Nothing is more valuable than Jesus," Father told them, "not even tickets to the Charger game that starts in a little while." While the girls' father may have had something to say about that, Father McGuine got his point across. Jesus is with us year round, not just during the holiday season. So, let us recognize the gift of Christ in our lives and in the lives of others, not just these next twelve days but all year. At school and at home, with friends and family, in joy and sadness, Jesus is always our greatest gift, given by God so that all who believe in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Merry Christmas,
Rover SoCal correspondent

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

On behalf of myself and the Rover Staff, we wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Finals-Are-Over Reflection

Finals are over! At least for me... Yay!

As the semester was closing and as I look ahead to my very exciting and adventurous future, I've been struck by a thought which keeps nagging at me: despite everything I am learning, despite my decent grades, despite my involvement in extracurricular activities, despite everything that as a good college student I'm supposed to do, I still lack sanity, my stress level is high, and I keep thinking how wonderful it would be just to have a break from it all, even now.

For some, college is a great experience, filled with lots of partying, late night paper writing, and hanging out with friends. For others, school is filled with lots of studying, constant homework, and the hectic schedule that comes with one's personal responsibility to change their world for the better. For both groups of people, there is often lacking any importance placed on one's development as a person whom God has called to live out a life of love. I myself am guilty of this. I fail to take time to reflect on my spirituality, and I fail to implement those things which I find necessary to increasing my faith, my spirituality, and my love for others.

In a success-driven environment such as Notre Dame, however, life seems to go by too fast. There is too much to do and so many obligations to fulfill and soon my school work is compromised and I am left feeling a little disappointed in myself. My less-than-perfect grades do not reflect my love of the subject. I know many people who become depressed simply because they are caught up in something that they cannot get out of, something that they do not find fulfilling or rewarding even on the most basic level. For those who are not called to be in academia, school serves as a sort of earthly purgatory to which we subject ourselves so that we might come out better on the other side. But the whole point of this rambling is, do we in fact come out better on the other side?

On one hand, the answer is always yes. Notre Dame's education is by far one of the best in the country, and, coupled by a great, thriving spirituality on campus, there is much one can learn in regards to both the sciences and our common faith. On the other hand, most likely the answer is no. With the emphasis placed on research at this university and a seemingly irreversible trend of applicants becoming smarter and busier (demonstrating more and more of this success-driven culture), no one is likely to slow down. As a NYT article comments, it would seem that we have become so success-driven that we care little for activism and voicing ourselves (e.g. If we refuse to stand up for ourselves, we will be crippled under the weight of caring for our parents through Social Security). With little time to relax, think, read, and CONVERSE--the foundations for any sort of meaningful opinion on anything--our generation would have become extremely easy to manipulate if it weren't for the fact that we're so lazy when it comes to actual issues going on in the big world.

Unfortunately for us here at Notre Dame, there doesn't seem to be any way to undo the damage done or reverse the trends which are so ingrained into our culture. Ideally--because as a member of Generation Q I'm full of ideals--we would reduce the emphasis on academic requirements and demand personal interviews. Notre Dame needs more than people with high ACTS and extracurriculars; Notre Dame needs young men and women with character, an active faith, and a desire to learn. This university needs to remember that good people aren't made just from books and tests, but, more importantly, from conversation and relationships. With perhaps less focus on academics and a more active focus on the entirety of the human person for all students who attend, Notre Dame will become the great University she was called to be, producing mature men and women who are truly ready to go out into the world and effect positive change.

In the mean time, we can insist on finding genuine leisure time to talk with others on the big issues and on discovering new ways to love and take life seriously. Life shouldn't have to be so hectic and so stressful, for "What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?" Instead, we should develop ourselves as human persons so that we might be a witness to others and ultimately, living a life of love, be called up into heaven with God.

God bless and have a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2007

BREAKING: Princeton Assault a Fraud

At 1:15pm today, the Princeton daily reported that Francisco Nava has admitted to faking his own assault and beating, which left him with a badly swollen jaw, as well as the death threats he claimed to have received.
Francisco Nava '09 has admitted to fabricating an alleged assault on him that he said occurred Friday evening and to sending threatening emails to himself, other members of the Anscombe Society and prominent conservative politics professor Robert George, today while being interviewed by Princeton Township Police.

"He fabricated the story," Det. Sgt. Ernie Silagyi said.

Nava was released to Public Safety and charges "have not been filed pending further investigation," according to a statement from Township Police.

Former Anscombe president Sherif Girgis '08 said he is "deeply angry and upset" at the news the incident was fabricated. "I am deeply troubled about what this must mean about Francisco and about his personal life," he said. . .

According to First Things, there had been suspicions about possible fraud - held by members of the Anscombe Society itself - since late Friday night:
Late that night, the president of the Anscombe Society, Kevin Joyce, e-mailed George, Hwang, and Girgis to report a startling discovery. He had heard from a friend that when Nava was at the Groton School he had fabricated an incident of hate-speech against his roommate and himself using the phrase “die fags!” (Nava’s roommate was one of the founders of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Groton.)

Hwang, the student spending the night with Nava, picked up the message first and immediately asked Nava about the incident. Nava confirmed that it happened, but told Hwang that it had nothing to do with his assault; this wasn’t a hoax. After Nava got out of bed, he walked into the kitchen and asked to speak with Professor George alone. George took him into another room in the house and Nava told George all about the Groton incident.

George tells me that Nava described it as a “bad part of his past” and that Nava was insistent that the assault on him had not been fabricated. Nava explained to George that at the time of the Groton incident his father had recently passed away, he was suffering from depression, and he was deeply homesick. Nava thought a threat on his life would convince his mother to let him come home. Eventually the school discovered that Nava was behind the alleged hate crime, and punished him duly.

George asked Nava if the university knew about this. Nava told him that when he applied for admission, Groton had notified Princeton about the incident and that he had written a letter to the dean of admissions explaining his actions. Princeton was satisfied with Nava’s credentials and his explanation, and they granted him admission, provided he took a year off in between and received appropriate counseling. George said to Nava that though the administration had the information about Groton in its files, his immediate obligation was to inform the investigators at the Office of Public Safety. As soon as Nava had breakfast and got dressed, George drove him to the Public Safety office and Nava informed the detective responsible for the case of what had happened at Groton.

After he dropped Nava off, George gathered the other students who received the threatening e-mails to see where things stood. They discussed ways to assist Public Safety in the investigation, both to get to the truth of the matter of what happened to Nava, and to know for sure whether their own lives were in danger. Along the way, other potential problems with Nava’s story emerged. It seemed, for instance, implausible that Nava would have actually received the 250 responses to his “Latex Lies” op/ed that he claimed. And the fact that the first death threat came before the op/ed bothered them.


On the other hand, people who know Nava see him as a highly respected and accomplished student at Princeton. And those who have personally seen him after the attack insist that it is extremely unlikely that he could have inflicted such damage (including a badly swollen jaw) on himself.


In the meantime, Nava was being transported to the campus health center to have his jaw examined. On the way, he saw someone wearing a stocking cap like the one worn by one of his assailants and called out to his security guard to “get that guy’s name”—thinking that this was the perpetrator. Nava’s breath quickly drew short, his heart started racing, and his face became flush. He was having a panic attack. When he reached the health center, he was immediately given counseling—where he was told that he was likely suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—and then given a six-hour sedative.

When Nava came out of the sedation on Saturday evening, Professor George went to talk with him. On Monday the investigation was scheduled to be transferred to the Princeton Township police. If the police discovered a fabrication, Nava would, George told him, be subject to criminal penalties. Nava replied that he had nothing to hide—that everything he had said about the threats and the attacks was true and that he would now be lying if he said otherwise.

George reports that he then questioned Nava very closely and carefully about the legitimate questions on circumstantial evidence and about Nava’s history. Nava insisted that he was not behind any of the threats or the assault. He understood why George and others would be concerned about his history at Groton, but he assured him that back then he was a different person.

It should be noted that all of this information came from Princeton Prof. Robert George himself, who in addition to being faculty advisor to the Anscombe Society is also a First Things board member.

It is incredible that a student so accomplished, we hear, as Nava would go so far as to fake a considerable jaw injury and a panic attack in order to perpetuate his fraud. Obviously, his con job had taken in many people - his fellow students, Princeton reporter Brandon McGinley, and outside observers such as ourselves - and that he has done himself and his future a great disservice. More news as this story develops.

UPDATE: Here's a sampling of the reaction from the Princeton community...
Assuming Nava fabricated this story, he should be arrested, tried and jailed. Princeton should move immediately to kick him out of the school.

For conservatives, it is not acceptable to behave in this manner. This young man is no conservative.
Don't kick him out of school before prison. That would just put him on the streets to commit who-knows-what...

Nava, if you're such a douche, do everyone a favor and stay away from anything with a conservative label. Your asinine behavior isn't welcome.
UPDATE #2: More comments from Princeton...
This is the most insane story I have ever heard. No sane person would take an outspoken stance on something so heated, and then become the most radical opposition to that same stance and others espousing it. No one in his right mind would beat himself up so brutally. Nava clearly needs help. It's unfortunate that he had to drag the Princeton and Anscombe names through the press as well as emotionally traumatize other students and professors before he could realize that.
Obviously Francisco did something very bad, but it also seems like he needs serious help. If that's the case, perhaps we could turn down the heat a bit on the attacks. What would Jesus do?
More to come. Send any tips to

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Academic Freedom and Tolerance of Our 'Aspirational Peer'

I recieved a shocking email this morning from my brother, a recent Princeton alum. He wrote that a student at his alma mater, an outspoken member of the Anscombe Society,was beaten unconscious yesterday, his head slammed repeatedly against a brick wall for his unpopular views as he walked back to campus from a tutoring session. The student along with several other outspoken conservatives including Professor Robert George had been receiving death threats for weeks with little response from the university.

So far it has only been covered in the student media, The Daily Princetonian and the conservative paper, the. Princeton Tory.

Amazingly, on the same day a student wrote an op-ed piece calling out the university for its double standard. He recounts the story of how the university responded immediatley with a thorough investigation when someone merely drew obscene pictures on the white board outside a homosexual student's room, while repeated death threats to conservative students and faculty were all but ignored.

The Anscombe Society, which promotes traditional views of marriage and sexualiy, is part of a growing conservative movement at Princeton led by the James Madison Program and Witherspoon Institute. These groups have made great strides in recent years, providing a place for Christians and conserverative voices on campus. This episode shows pretty clearly, however, how entrenched the liberal orthodoxy is at the Ivies.

When I hear stories like this it makes me realize how insulated Notre Dame is--perhaps by the perminant cloud cover--from the 'real world' and the rest of academia. This kind of incident is unthinkable at Notre Dame--well, unless maybe you tried to take away someone's student football ticket booklet. Perhaps Notre Dame is at the other end of the spectrum in terms of political activity. Most students are apathetic, not intolerant. Rather than sending death threats and assaulting people over political/social issues, ND students are more concerned with following their fantasy football team or their next paper or project. Still, the full range of political views is represented at Notre Dame and for the most part respected.

This story goes to show once again that if Notre Dame wants to retain the academic freedom, diversity or tolerance which are inherent in the idea of a university, we will have to do so by cherishing our uniquely Catholic identity and not by mimicing the Ivies' empty, hypocritical standards of excellence.

Friday, December 14, 2007

College Tuition Troubles

First, I want to say that I completely agree with KDon's post regarding final exams. Everyone is busy--get over it.

Harvard University announced this week that it is going to reduce tuition for middle class families. Those families who make less than $60,000 per year are already able to send their children to Harvard for free, and now families with incomes of up to $180,000 will not have to spend more than 10% of that income to pay for the $45,600 that make up the annual costs of attending Harvard.

Of course, colleges and universities have come under fire recently for their exponential tuition increases. For each of the past 25 years, tuition has risen at roughly 3 percentage points higher than inflation. With about 4200 colleges and universities nationwide, why hasn't competition reduced prices? The explanations are manifold.

For one, selective colleges have such a high demand that they are relatively immune to market pressures. Students, and especially parents, are willing to put up serious cash in order to bring home diplomas from choice colleges.

Another issue is the growth of unusual student interests, manifesting themselves through gender studies departments and courses on maple syrup. As William F. Buckley Jr. wrote, "academic offerings for students with exotic interests are understandable, but some college administrators think themselves delinquent if they do not offer a course in jujitsu."

Then there is the fact that college and university financial aid has become part of the welfare state. There is more government aid offered than ever, and if universities raise their tuition, they know not to be worried because the government will surely be there to make up the difference. One wonders how Hillsdale College, the only U.S. college to refuse any type of government aid, is able to keep its tuition in check. Coincidence? I think not.

Finally, there are now twice as many university administrators per student as there were in the 1970s. This is an alarming statistic.

Recently, I was discussing Notre Dame with a newly hired professor. I asked him what has been the most disappointing thing he has noticed about the university. "The bureaucratic red tape," he said. "I expected that problem to be much less severe here than at big state universities."

Think again. If we are to reduce the costs of college tuition, a first but unpopular step would be to cut the size of adminstration and devote the majority of resources to teaching. Yeah, teaching--even at a premier "research university." Amazing, huh?

Let's learn something about the costs of higher education from Hillsdale. It doesn't take a $6 billion endowment to keep costs in line. It just takes common sense and right priorities.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Britney Spears to play Virgin Mary?

Apparently, Britney Spears is up for a role as the Virgin Mary in the film industry's latest bit of anti-religious garbage.
French producer Phillippe Rebboah is believed to have asked the singer to portray Christ's mother in satirical movie Sweet Baby Jesus.

He told Us Weekly: "I had to convince my partners, because they were like, 'Oh, no. Britney?' But I thought it was brilliant."

The new version of the tale depicts Mary as a 19-year-old who is unsure of the identity of her unborn baby's father. She goes into labour on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, Maryland, amid claims that the birth is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

I know that we have free speech and yadda yadda yadda, but can you imagine the *global* fallout that would occur if someone cast a train-wreck male celebrity (say, Ozzy Osbourne or Vanilla Ice) to play the prophet Muhammad in a "satirical" film about the origins of Islam? I normally don't get too worked up over the entertainment industry (ten years ago, this story would have been about Madonna), but this just goes to show that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice in the Hollywood re-made by our parents' generation.

I genuinely feel sorry for Britney and the fact that she has let both her family and her career go down the crapper, but it's absolutely pathetic that a director would exploit the shambles of her brand in order to draw a parallel to the Virgin, so as to make some kind of statement that, frankly, was already passe in the late 90's.

Yeah, but...

It seems like the competition around here is ridiculous. I've noticed this particularly as exams approach and students have their exam conversations.

" I have four tests, three papers, and am running on 4 hours of sleep a night!"
" Wow, that sucks, but I have 6 tests, 2 papers, I'm sick, and I someone stole my pillow so I'm running on zero sleep."
"Only two papers? That's not that bad."

Everyone should just agree that exams is a busy time, it sucks for everyone, so stop complaining about it. We all have tests, papers, etc. and some of us actually do have less than others (for example Arts and Letters vs. Engineering; I'll admit it). Chill, work through it, and don't try to one up me, cause mine's so worse. Just joking, but don't worry, you'll make it through it, even if you officially earn the finals week from hell. I just don't need to know how much easier I have it than you. In fact, if you ever see or hear me complaining about my schedule you can slap me. Not hard, but go ahead, please. That's it. It's two in the morning and that's all that's bothering me. Good luck with finding your pillow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A step in the wrong direction...

[[This is an extension on K. Donahue's earlier post regarding the Observer's recent trumpeting the availability of contraceptives at Health Services.]]
Donahue and I actually discovered the Observer article together as we exited Flanner Hall following our college seminar, "Perfect God, Imperfect World: The Problem of Evil'" and we were stopped dead in our tracks by the head line. We were in utter and complete shock at reading it, mind-blown really, as we stood there for easily a full two minutes knocking our heads and wondering how this happened.
Yes, the article did say that Health Services will be only administering contraceptive prescriptions for patients with irregular or painful menstrual cycles, no menstrual cycle or abdominal pain. However, I do not think that even extreme situations such as these necessitate that Health Services have contraceptives readily available to the double-X student population. Why? Well, my reasons are multi-fold and i would be more than happy to tell you.
[1] Although contraception may offer the best or easiest treatment for these medical conditions, there are other, good quality treatments available that Health Services can offer to student-patients. These could be offered as a "first try," and if these don't work, well then Health Services can refer students off-campus.
[2] The medical resources in South Bend are of high quality and quanitity. If a young, ND female student is needing treatment, then she should have no problem in traveling a whole mile and a half off campus to a medical facility for consultation. And I would have no problem with Health Services having medical referrances available for these students.
[3] With contraception being so closely tied with the abortion industry, which is wrought with dishonesty and deceit, I do not find it much a stretch to believe that those doctors and patients respectively prescribing and being prescribed contraception will have no problem faining an excuse for "medically-necessary" contraception. I know that this sounds a little like conspiracy theory, but I find it hard to believe that doctors wouldn't have any qualms about prescribing contraception for contraceptive purposes, with the claim of it being for legitimate health needs.
[4] On a related note, even though the University may take every mean possible to prevent the use of contraception for its designed purposes, Notre Dame should not offer the pill for any reason, even "noble" ones, because it is contrary to its Catholic identity. As persons created in the Image and Likeness of God, we are called to transcend our human weaknesses so to obtain the perfection in which we were originally created. Contraception in its truest form does not have a role in this plight. In this year's production of "Loyal Daughters and Sons" there was a particular skit which accused Catholic teaching on sexuality and relationships as being an ideal that is not really attainable for everybody. WRONG! If this was the case then the Church never would have adopted this teaching in the first place. Yes, Church "ideals" might be hard or challenging to conform one's life to, especially in the 21st century, however it is an entirely possible and managable life practice.
[5] Notre Dame, as a prestigious institute in the world of academia, should stand as a beacon of Catholicism in a world where most prestigious universities have succumbed to most pressures and demands of secular society. We should not sacrifice or undermine our Catholic Identity and Character when society can only benefit from our remaining strong in the face of adversity.

Notre Dame has so much potential and its students have exponential potential as well, but we must make sure that we [Notre Dame] take every mean possible to make sure that this potential is realized only through means that benefit the student bodily, spiritually, intellectually, and ethically.

the definitive list of top ten books to read while in college

As a somewhat tardy follow-up to the posting about Prof. Ghilarducci's favorite books, I'd like to offer my all-time top-ten list--what I think is truly necessarily for a well-rounded, liberal education, particularly in the military-industrial complex in which we abide. Here goes:

1. "I know Why the Caged Bird Sings," Maya Angelou
2. "I, Rigoberta Menchu," by Rigoberta Menchu
3. "Dear President Bush," A Pamphlet by Cindy Sheehan
4. "Giving," by Bill Clinton
5. "Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech," by Al Gore
6. "Bushwhacked," by Maureen Dowd
7. anything by David Gergen
8. "On a Move: The Story of Mumia al-Jamal," by Terry Bison (also, the collected poems, articles, and songs written by, about, and for Mumia; keep the faith!)
9. "Poems from Guantamo: Detainees Speak"
10. "The Politics of Truth," by Joe Wilson

I'd like to add that Ghilarducci was right on to suggest Epstein on envy--he is a first-rate essaysist. I wonder if any prof. would ever assign any of his works. Anyway, that's my two-cents.

The Maddening Effects of Finals

They come every semester without fail, just as the sun rises every day. Finals. Nasty things.

The end of the semester comes and the computer clusters are suddenly full of bleary-eyed students slowly typing out term papers and study guides. Or worse. Then there are the group projects. Loud, obnoxious groups, clearly ignorant of the social norms of the clusters, invade like Viking hoards and disrupt the intense, studious quiet that should only be punctuated by the click-clacking of the keyboards.

Oh the crimes of the cluster!

Take for example the Quarter Dog heaping with onions that soon fills the already rancid LaFortune Hole (I mean Cluster) with an even more nauseating stench. To add insult in injury, the offending sausage is not consumed immediately, but set aside to continue polluting the already-foul air.

And you, Mr. Yankees-Pajama-Pants sitting next to me typing a paper with books on Darwin and one entitled "Abortion Rights as Religious Freedom" (You know, the existence of Yankee PJs are crime enough, let alone being worn by you in a public space. And Darwin and abortion?): Why for the love of the gold on the Dome are you typing on your laptop and not the cluster computer in front of you!? Did you not just see that poor girl come in desperately searching for a free computer?

While the madness rages the usual denizens of these technological dens are I sit at a Mac and not my usual PC, not too far away from the great blog Queen Darragh - typing not my overdue paper but my inaugural post on the fine web-log.

"Why? Why?" The sane and rational person asks. "Why are you doing this to yourself? It is nearly 1 AM and you should be sleeping! Not sitting in a pit of filth writing some incoherent babble on a blog!"

Good points.

But ignoring them and returning to the crimes of the cluster...

Can't we behave ourselves and use a little common courtesy?

Apparently not. But I'll allow my fellow students to plead insanity in their defense. After all, returning to the sane and rational person's question, I myself have no answer but to shamefully admit that my only defense for my self-torture is to plead the same: insanity.

"The finals, the finals! It's all because of them!"

But you know what happens when one person starts pleading insanity?

Yeah, Twinkies.

LaFortune Cluster, meet "Real-World" Insanity.
"Real-World" Insanity, welcome to the LaFortune Cluster. I hope you enjoy your havoc-wreaking visit. But don't stay too long. We can only consume so much caffeine , sugar and onion-covered quarter dogs before we go out and start shooting people...all for the sake of learning.

Hmmm go think about all of those implications over a latte - or fair trade hot chocolate, if that's what you prefer - I'm going back to my 'studies.'

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Rover Effect

Three of the last four issues of the Rover have featured Brian Boyd's excellent analysis of every aspect of the issue of Catholic faculty at Notre Dame. Brian delved into every topic, looked into every possible scenario, and talked to everyone who is anyone. Each part of his three-part article appeared on the Rover's front page and received favorable feedback.

Not soon after the last of the installments, the Scholastic came calling, asking for leads and sources from Boyd's article for the front-cover topic of their latest issue.

And today even the Observer is getting in on the act, with a piece previewing Wednesday's Faculty Senate meeting and including a summary of the events following Provost Burish's report on the diminishing percentage of Catholic faculty.

Let's hope that the diffusion of our ideas continues -- we're still waiting for Time and the New York Times to call.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Contraceptives? Really?

As I was walking out of Flanner last week, I grabbed an Observer and was shocked to find the ND Health Services now provides contraceptives for "medical needs." I never thought I would live to see the day where a Catholic school directly supplies its students with contraceptives that are explicitly against Church teaching. As I read the Observer article on the issue, I was even more blown away with the order in which it presented the information. First, the article states that "If a student comes in asking for birth control for the purpose of contraception, 'we're not going to ask a lot of questions,' said Ann Kleva, director of University Health Services. 'We'll say point blank, 'I'm sorry, we don't supply those services on campus because we abide by the teachings of the Church." Basically, if a girl were to go to health services to get birth control in order to have sex, she would of course be turned down. Who, after reading this article, would be unintelligent enough to go to health services and ask for birth control for sex when they know they could get it for "health reasons?" After saying you can only obtain it for health reasons, the article then goes on to list the specific health reasons you could give to get birth control. Reasons offered were, "irregular or painful menstrual cycles, no menstrual cycle or abdominal pain." I am confident that pretty much every single female has had some sort of abdominal pain at one point or another during her menstural cycle. If every single female has these "medical reasons", then every single female on this campus qualifies for birth control! Just to recap....first the article states that you won't get birth control if you ask for it on the grounds of sex, then you will get it if you ask for health reasons, then it lists the health reasons that qualify you, and finally one or more of them applies to every single female able to menstruate. This is basically a call for all women who want to have sex without responsibility to come get their contraceptives from Health Services. Along side this, the article also mentions that if you want to get your home prescription for birth control filled here, all you have to do is tell your doctor to include a note that it is not for sexual activities. Another degrading feature of this article is the mere fact that it compares Notre Dame to other "Catholic" institutions such as Georgetown University or Boston College. It uses their practices as an example of what Catholic schools do with respect to the issue, as if we should be emulating their Catholic character. What kind of Catholic school supplies its students with the means to break the Church's explicitly stated doctrines?

Website stuff

The website has been updated again. Now, everything but Cheers/Jeers and Sports are new. If there are any problems or spelling errors, or whatever, please leave a comment and I'll fix them. I was watching some movies as I updated, so it is very possible that I misspelled some headlines and started going off on phasers and Klingons. Cheers/Jeers and Sports will probably not make it up for another few weeks because, as it goes, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" . . . finals stink

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Larry Diamond Dossier: This Diamond Won't Be Found in the Rough, but He Might Be Found Hanging Out With Ron Jeremy

An uncanny resemblance?

In the December 6th issue of The Rover, the always insightful, often spiteful, usually delightful, Religion and Ethics editor Conor McNamara reports on a talk given by Stanford University Professor Larry Diamond on the current state of political stability in Iraq. Intrigued by the news piece’s not so subtle inferences of hypocrisy on the part of Diamond, I, the unrivaled Prince Valiant, decided to dig a little deeper into the past of this outspoken war critic.

Turns out, way back in 2004 Diamond served as a Senior Adviser on governance to the Baghdad Coalition Provisional Authority at the request of Secretary of State Condi Rice. He initially signed on for a sixth month stint, but left Baghdad after three months due to what he described as the “gross incompetence” of the American counterinsurgency strategy and the refusal of high-ranking Bush administration officials to implement any of the advisory council’s recommendations.

Now, let the record show that the Prince Valiant deems much of what Diamond said during his “Can Iraq be Stabilized?” lecture to be accurate. The administration’s initial counterinsurgency strategy was flawed, changes on the ground should have been made faster, American and Iraqi lives could have been saved with a more well-thought-out plan for post-invasion occupation and reconstruction. All this is well and good, and Prince Valiant has no qualms about granting Diamond his due.

But bring in the cows from the pasture, because here is where the Eminent Prince finds his beef: Instead of staying in a position of influence with the Coalition Provisional Authority, a position wherein he ostensibly had a direct line of communication with high ranking Bush administration officials, Diamond bailed. He rejected the opportunity to bring about internal reform, choosing instead to join the cacophony of anti-war critics who, by mid 2004, already permeated the airwaves and lecture circuits. Diamond claims that it was futile for him to stay, as nothing he said was making a difference.

But the Prince says, “What the hell?! You were only there for three months!” Maybe it would have taken sixth months to effect change. Maybe it would have taken a year. But the Prince is willing to bet his castle that it wouldn’t have taken three years – the actual time it took for strategic reform to occur without prudent voices like Diamond’s in the mix. McNamara’s article said that Diamond lamented the unnecessary loss of life brought about by flawed strategy. The Prince wonders how many lives would have been saved had Diamond stayed instead of booking back to sunny California.

Finally, my Unsurpassed Self, The Most Esteemed and Most Illustrious Prince Valiant, wishes to cast doubt upon Diamond’s motivations for being in Baghdad in the first place – it seems mighty probable that he went over there with the premeditated intent of scoring a book deal out of the experience. Here’s a passage from Diamond’s impartial journalistic masterpiece, Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq:
In the days before my visit, Sadr's organization had been widely distributing a leaflet denouncing Qizwini and his leading supporters as "pigs and dogs" who had defiled Islam and needed to be "stopped and silenced." Qizwini had been living under threat of assassination for months, but now this pseudo-religious call for his murder had raised the stakes.

Qizwini implored the United States to act immediately. "These militias will turn Iraq into a dark age of bloodletting if they are not stopped soon," he told me. "Any decision to dissolve the militias should be implemented in the next week." At that moment, I thought Qizwini's statement a bit hyperbolic in its urgency. But I did not realize that the dam was just about to burst, and that this dramatic day would essentially mark the end of my involvement with the American occupation.

Oh, Larry, Larry boy, the Prince sees right through you. To get these exact quotes, Diamond was either collecting internal memos (with the intent to publish them later), tape recording conversations (with the intent to publish them later), or taking meticulous notes (with the intent to, you guessed it, publish them later!) Any way the Prince looks at it, it seems the only way that Diamond could have published Squandered Victory by June 2005 is if he went to Baghdad intent on writing a book and cashing in on the D.C./university lecture circuit.

The Prince isn’t saying that Diamond went with predetermined intent to criticize war effort, only that he knew this was one experience he was going to cash in on. It’s a real shame that with so many valuable insights which could have brought stability to the region, Diamond saw fit to leave before his tour of duty was up.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

[Witty Derision Here]

How lucky we are that the lofty standards of copy editing here at the Rover ensure that we will never endure such gaffes as befell the Washington Times in this woeful online article:

I learned a long time ago (8th grade Earth Sciences report on tides, in fact) that you never, ever write something that you don't intend to publish (or hand in). Otherwise it is simply a matter of Fate that the most damaging thought you ever thunk will be read by Mr. Bitarelli. Or, in the Washington Times' case, published to your website and read by thousands of critics waiting to blog about your failures.

Hat tip to

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Potential Is a Tricky Thing

Last night I was desperately trying to sleep, when one of those random flashes of thought bounced into my brain.
We've conditioned to do our best nearly since birth. The winners get a prize, a cookie, an A, a check, a sticker, a better education, a better life (or so we are led to believe). We need to maximize our potential, our talents; not only for us but for all of mankind for God. What happened to the man who failed to invest his talents in the Bible? They were taken away.
Well fast forward through this indoctrination to college. To be honest, my academic profile isn't that difficult. One major. Arts and Letters. Minimal activities. Work during the week. But I still find time to party two, sometimes three, nights a week, get seven hours of sleep a night, have two hour lunches, watch four hours of TV, and generally not feel stressed at all. Especially when compared to the triple major or engineering student.
Is this wrong? Do we owe to ourselves, our family, our God to take those hard classes, the Chems, Bios, Advanced Maths of the world? Doesn't the world need more doctors to help out its poor and hurting than History majors? It's hard to explain the effects of colonialism on the Indian economy when those same people are dying from lack of food, water, and medicine. As you explain the importance of the Ottoman Empire in creating a united front for Indian Independence following World War One to someone dying from malaria, is there something you should rather be doing?
There is one (of many) self doubts. Now I need to go watch TV.

New Encyclical Is Out







(full text)

From the introduction...

SPE SALVI facti sumus”—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, “redemption”—salvation—is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Dialogue of Cultures

As you all probably know, the Center for Ethics and Culture's annual fall conference is taking place this weekend. This year's title is a Dialogue of Cultures. The keynote lecture was given Thursday night by the Most Reverend Elias Chacour, Archbishop Metropolitan of the Melkite
Catholic Diocese of Acco, Haifa, Nazareth and Galilee. Chacour offered a message of hope for interreligious dialogue and a surprisingly sharp wit.

There were many more presentations on Friday including one given by Alasdair MacIntyre titled "How to be a European: Questions for Tariq Ramadan." Also, Professor George Lopez, Professor of Peace studies, offered a talk on "The Ethics of Exit from Iraq: Insights from Just War thinking.”

Yesterday culminated with a wonderful talk by George Weigel about Pope Benedict's Regensburg address which, like the Archbishop, combined a serious message with a sense of humor. This conference brings together students and intellectuals from all over the world and symbolizes what Notre Dame is about--dialogue in search of truth. If you haven't attended the conference yet this year, I encourage you to make it over to McKenna Hall and join in this dialogue.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Speaking of reading lists...

In the vein of the post below, I found this in Fred Barnes' latest column in the Weekly Standard:
At the end of the session that lasted more than an hour, Bush ran down a list of the books he's reading or plans to. He said he just finished The Great Upheaval by Jay Winik, what he called "a great, great book." Now he's reading a novel, The Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Next he plans to read about the 1800 presidential election, A Magnificent Catastrophe by Edward J. Larson. And his now-departed aide Karl Rove has sent him the new book by historian Joseph Ellis, American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding.

Coincidentally, President Bush is now reading one of the books off of the list that I posted yesterday in the comments thread below, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Among my favorite novels, it was unpublished during the author's lifetime, receiving its first printing 11 years after his 1969 suicide. After his mother demanded that Walker Percy read it, Percy was captivated and fought for it to be published. Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for it in 1981.

From Wikipedia:
It is an important part of the 'modern canon' of Southern literature.

The title derives from the book's epigraph by Jonathan Swift: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." (Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting)

The story is set in the city of New Orleans in the early 1960s. The central character is Ignatius J. (Jacques) Reilly, an intelligent but slothful man still living with his mother at age 30 in Uptown New Orleans, who, because of family circumstances, must set out to get a job. In his quest for employment he has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Top Ten?

Today I found a surprise gem in my on-campus mailbox: The College of Arts & Letters Gazette.


It's really not much more than a trite newsletter, with articles about all the great things being an A&L major can do for you--complete with pages of encouragement for the looming post-graduation job search that is often difficult for the PLS major lacking marketable skills.

The strangest thing (aside from the trivia contest which only the 'cultured' A&L major could possibly succeed in) must be the list of "10 Books all students should read before they graduate," compiled by Prof. Teresa Ghilarducci of the Economics Department.

In no particular order...

- Envy by Joseph Epstein (2003)
- The Overspent American by Juliet Schor (1998)
- Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury (1999)
- American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser (1925)
- The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell (1975)
- The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (2004)
- Golden Notebooks by Doris Lessing (1962)
- Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers by Robert L. Heilbroner (1953)
- The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade by Pietra Rivoli (2005)
- A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul (1979)

Granted, having looked up each of these on Amazon, most of them don't seem half-bad. But they are not quite what I was expecting from a list of necessary texts for liberal arts majors. Perhaps a classic of the Western canon (or two...) might have been a good suggestion?

Worst Football Team, But Still the Most Valuable

Worst Football Team, But Still the Most Valuable

Despite our horrendous football season, we still topped Forbe's list as the Most Valuable Program in College Football. Here's part of the press release.

According to Forbes, "The University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish, worth $101 million, is the most valuable team in college football. Unlike the other programs on our list, Notre Dame's athletic department operates under the umbrella of the university and is not run as its own distinct entity. As a result, a much higher share of profits are retained by university for academic use. The football team's contribution to academics totaled $21.1 million for the 2006-2007 season--that's as much as the next five most valuable teams contributed to their respective schools combined. Operating independent of the conference system allows Notre Dame to keep the entire $9 million in annual television revenue it gets from NBC, owned by General Electric."

Here are the rankings (value and profit listed in millions of dollars): School Value Profit Comment

1. Notre Dame $101 $45.8 Football contributed $21.1 M (million) to academic programs
2. Texas $92 $46.2 Earns $12 M annually from premium seating, with more to come
3. Georgia $90 $43.5 $60.3 M in football revenue last year was highest in SEC
4. Michigan $85 $36.2 Next year brings 83 luxury suites and 3,200 club seats at $226 M cost
5. Florida $84 $38.2 Revenue last year increased $11 M to $58.9 M in title season

6. LSU $76 $31.7 Addition of eighth home game added 11% to value in one year
7. Tennessee $74 $17.3* Four renovations in 10 years have added 10,000 seats and 78 suites
* Football program also contributed $16.2 M in donations to Volunteer Athletic & Scholarship Fund via ticket reservation fees
8. Auburn $73 $33.9 Home games produce $50 M in incremental spending in Lee County
9. Alabama $72 $31.8 Saban's $4 M salary is highest in college football history
10. Ohio State $71 $26.6 Bucks led Big Ten in revenue at $59.1 M, also led expenses at $32.5 M

11. Oklahoma $70 $18.5 2004 renovation added 27 suites and 2,500 club seats
12. So. Carolina $69 $28.9 Value increased 22% last year, best of top 20 teams
13. Penn State $69 $29.4 Second-largest stadium in country sells out every game
14. USC $53 $13 Most valuable Pac-10 program saw value go up 7% in last year
15. Arkansas $53 $19.3 Incremental spending in county: $7.3 M per home game

16. Texas A&M $50 $20.5 Projecting $9.5 M in broadcast revenue next season
17. Washington $50 $19.9 AD Todd Turner lobbying for expansion of stadium
18. Nebraska $49 $12.4 ----------
19. Mich. State $44 $18.3 Plans larger contribution to academics via Big Ten Network revenue
20. Wisconsin $43 $14.3 Fell five spots due to $7.6 M decrease in profits from a year ago

Monday, November 26, 2007

Website Updates

Three cheers for updates!

The website is about 20% updated. The homepage has new articles, as well as a shmorgasbord of new articles under Campus, for your viewing pleasure. There will eventually be the past 4 issues of the Rover up and ready to read, in time for the last issue of the semester. I apologize for the delay in getting everything on there.


And now, a shameless plug:
The Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture presents its 8th annual Fall Conference, The Dialogue of Cultures, this weekend. The keynote address is Thursday night at 7:30 by Elias Chacour, Archbishop of Galilee, in the main auditorium of McKenna Hall.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Happy Thanksgiving from the Rover staff.

Be safe during Black Friday.

And on campus right now IT'S SNOWING! HURRAH!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Yesterday I arrived outside my Ancient and Medieval Philosophy classroom ten minutes early, having just finished DARTing. While I waited for the class prior to mine to clear out, I sat on one of the Debartolo benches, skimmed the Observer, and reviewed the choices of classes I'd made for next semester.
Since I had the earliest possible DART time, and am a senior finished with my major requirements as well as my university requirements, I had the choice of almost any classes offered in the entire University. As a result, my class schedule looks fairly easy next semester.
That got me to thinking, while I waited for Philo to start, whether I'd truly pushed myself as an undergraduate. I thought of some of the courses that had been most difficult for me -- Econometrics, History of Economic Thought... Intermediate Microeconomics.
That last one gave me pause. Intermediate Micro should not be tough. Anyone at Notre Dame should have the intellect to finish intermediate micro with ease, but it was a real struggle for me. Prof. James "Hot Shot Rak" Rakowski's murderous tests had truly challenged me, and it had taken long hours of studying to raise my grade to something up to my standards.
As I sat there, gradually becoming disheartened by my lack of academic accomplishments, students began to straggle out of the classroom and pass by my bench. "That test was brutal, wasn't it?" Asked one guy of the girl he'd walked out with. "Oh my God," she responded. "It was so terrible."
Probably a fluid mechanics or upper-level physics class, I thought to myself. These geniuses did have hard subjects. Their classes were so far beyond anything I'd ever taken. Where had my path diverged from theirs?
Meanwhile, what looked like the last test-taker stumbled through the door. He looked worn-out, frustrated, and defeated. He cursed out loud, dropping F-bombs for no one's benefit but his own. Wow, I though to myself, this test must have been a million times harder than anything I'd ever taken. Utterly defeated by this realization, I shuffled into the classroom.
I saw immediately that I had been mistaken: people where still taking the test, even though it was almost a half an hour past the end of their class time. I looked up at the front of the class. Sitting at the front desk, obviously reveling in the students' struggles with his trademark grin, was Hot Shot Rak himself. The chalkboard read, "Intermediate Micro Theory."
Maybe I've accomplished more than I've realized.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Loyal Daughters and Sons

Tonight, I saw Loyal Daughters. No: Loyal Daughters is not a moral black hole planted on the main stage of Washington Hall, sucking in such near-by notables as the Main Building, the Basilica, and the fine dorm of St. Ed’s. Yes: Loyal Daughters had some elements that I could not particularly agree with such as the Vagina Monologues-esque skit that somehow managed to find its way in there. Yet, whether or not the directors and writers intended the play to affect me in this way, Loyal Daughters struck a chord with me, and what I was told never to support set me on fire to proclaim this message:

Men suck.

As a man, I am both able and obligated to say such things. Men suck because they refuse to be men; because when they embody and distort their already disordered and selfish desires, they become spawns of Satan – in all seriousness – reeking havoc on this God-given world; because they fail to realize the wonderful potential that God has given them precisely as men.

In response to this all-too-apparent problem in society throughout the ages, John Paul II proclaims in the Theology of the Body, a series of Wednesday audiences given by the late Pope, that a primary munus (duty, office) of men is to defend the gift of sexuality from the effects of concupiscence and, more precisely, protect and foster the most loving environment for the expression of that gift, especially as in conjugal union.

Our common perception, indeed, is that it is the woman alone who is obliged to say “no” if things get out of hand. This is a false notion which most likely stems from the often true stereotype that men are nothing but sex organs and a semi-functioning brain. But the Pope has higher hopes for men. He acknowledges that a good man is one who, by the grace of God, in waging war against the effects of sin in his own person and in the world, defeats the Devil and loves as Christ first loved us. Truly, it is not the woman who should say “no,” but always and everywhere it is the man who should never put the woman in that situation in the first place!

This dichotomy between spawn-of-Satan man and Christ-is-booyah man was rattling in my brain as the play progressed. It became clear to me that men have a remarkable amount of responsibility in this world. That is, men have the sole responsibility to protect the wondrous treasure which is woman. Oftentimes, as some of the skits powerfully portrayed, this responsibility is cast off, and men fail to be men. It is absolutely true: sometimes, men suck.

On one hand, I praise Loyal Daughters for making the need for good men so apparent. Often, no matter what the circumstances, women can be the victim of a man’s sexual assault and, quite simply, have no say in the matter. On the other hand, while we have seen a sort of “women’s” point of view on the matter, I see a special need for men on campus to see their own point of view. Men, on large scale, need to be at least introduced if not persuaded by powerful drama into becoming men of virtue.

This year, the play was officially entitled Loyal Daughters and Sons. I call for two plays: one, Loyal Daughters; the other, Loyal Sons. Both have their place. Loyal Daughters will not change and will continue to focus on the effects of sexual assault and violence against women (and also men.) Loyal Sons will focus more on the other side of things and the sheer ridiculousness that is men who do violence against women. Men need to see themselves both parodied and then shown what they could be by the grace of God. Perhaps this is the only way for them to decide to become better people.

We must educate our men if we want sexual violence to stop. Men and women alike need to understand that men, by nature, do not have to suck.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ode to Mothers

Monday, 12 November 2007, the Motherhood Resource Committee of Notre Dame's Right to Life group hosted a roundtable discussion on the umbrella-issue of abortion, looking at the many implications of this medical industry and the debate surrounding it. Being that the Motherhood Resource Committee was the host commission for the discussion, the session icebreaker invited the attendees to introduce themselves including a favorite characteristic about their mother. Random, right? Maybe, however I think that such a game brings to attention the underappreciation suffered by mothers, especial stay-at-home mothers, in today's culture.
Mothers rarely, if ever, get any recognition that thoroughly and completely takes into account all of their hard work. For the sake of sparing you, Oh-so Gentle Reader, a list of things moms do, I have attached a glorious YouTube video to this post of a comedienne singing a 2:55-minute summary of everything a mother says and does in a one day period. While the clip is quite humorous (and true: I know I've heard about 98.9% of those phrases from my mom's mouth), the songstress fails to include any accolades of a mother.
If you really think about it, mothers are kind of like benchwarmers. Most literally, they do warm the bench/seat at their childrens' sports games, recitals, plays, and etcetra. But, moreoever, they are almost always in the background of their childrens' lives and expect nothing in return for the loving care that they put into everything. You might be thinking, "That's what we have Mother's Day for." But is that enough?
I once read an article in which the writer proposed that we replace the title "Benchwarmer" with the more appropriate "Sideline Hero." This author describes the benchwarmer as having hero status as he willingly sacrifices personal glory for the betterment and success of the team. Is this same sacrifice not also exhibited, and more perfectly in the role mothers play in the lives of their children? Stay-at-home mothers sacrifice even more, passing up potential glory and success in the workplace for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, stinky diapers, and uprooted flowers from the front garden. What is even more beautiful is the mother who leaves behind the office and never looks back, never second-guessing her work as a mother. Beautifully heroic is the mother who lives for the sandwiches, diapers and surprise bouquets.
So, yea, sit back and enjoy this YouTube ode to mothers; however remember: you might drive your mom up the wall and she might yell all sorts of obnoxious things to you, but at the end of the day she thanks God for your and her life and looks forward to doing it all over again tomorrow.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Someone Coin the Term, "Permacloud"

As clouds settle into their fixed location above South Bend for the next three months, there is a particular danger of being overcome by seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Info here. Especially for freshman who are struggling to stay on top of the overwhelming wave of gray in a scary, new world, SAD is more than just a phase; it is a potentially debilitating persistent mood which can disrupt the normal flow of life, lower grades, and decrease motivation.

You might think: “A few clouds and a freshman starts flunking? What a wimp!”

I tell you, the sun is more than that which gives us warmth, food, and light. In our very experience of that sun – the seeming eternal giver of life on whom Plato, Aquinas, and even Jesus Christ Himself depended – we obtain transcendent happiness which is not wholly present in our conscious but which sustains us and gives us the energy to carry out a day to the fullest. Though we are unable to identify this unusual quality of the sun working in us, we know when it is gone.

We see the effects of its absence in ourselves as laziness, misjudgment, moodiness, etc. We find ourselves longing to hole ourselves up in the dark caverns of our rooms and sleeping through the day. And I myself know the perilous dangers of hibernation eating. Without the sun, our lives, once bright and vibrant, turn dull.

Yet, there is hope. There is always hope. We have faith that, in a short while, we will see the sun again, and we know that at that time, we will be greeted by the sun with its warming rays. But hope is more than the faculty by which we expect a future event; it is the power and strength and encouragement we gain by our determination to work towards that event.

Who will be most able to enjoy fully the warmth of spring when it comes? Will it be those who have holed themselves up all winter or those who have allowed themselves to persist in their moodiness? Of course not. The ones that will be able to most fully enjoy the coming spring are those who have been not only anticipating it with a joyous heart, but living as though that spring were today.

Hope is strength. Therefore, freshman, live your lives in hope that you will see the sun again.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bella's in the Bend!

As the Rover's loyal readers will recall, I have taken it on as my personal duty to spread the word about the wonderful independent film Bella, which was just released in limited theaters at the end of October.

Bella is opening in the South Bend area this weekend! I encourage all of you to go see it. Here's the info:

It will be showing at Kerasotes Movies 16, located at 450 W. Chippewa St., according to the following schedule:

Friday, Nov. 9 1:50, 4:30, 7:15, 10:15
Saturday, Nov. 10 11:40, 1:50, 4:30, 7:15, 10:15
Sunday, Nov. 11 11:40, 1:50, 4:30, 7:15, 10:15
Monday through Thursday, Nov. 12-15 1:50, 4:30, 7:15, 10:15

For more information, check out!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Good thing this wasn't a Viewpoint

I was shocked to see this in my hometown newspaper, the incorrigibly liberal Boston Globe. Opinions like this are rare, even in the op-eds.

While male violence is universal, societies differ in their ability to channel that violence. With the right kinds of investment, male aggression can be put to good uses, such as winning the World Series and running hedge funds.

We are failing our young men because we have not made that investment. We have made our streets safer by incarcerating millions, more than 90 percent of whom are male, but we have inflicted a terrible cost on millions of lost boys.

What's next, arguing that it's ok to cheer for the "loyal sons" of Notre Dame?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from the Rover!
Have a spooktacular day!

Monday, October 29, 2007

If only the British would have won . . .

Prince Valiant here, lamenting the fact that the British didn't win the revolutionary war. I would have much preferred to see the Red Coats win the World Series than the Red Sox.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Thank God Almighty, We're Free at Last

After a week of marathon all-nighters and spending all excess money on Monster, coffee, Rockstar, Starbucks, etc, the Rover staff are taking a well-deserved break, in which they endeavor to catch up on all the work they put off in order to make midterms week a possibility. Stay tuned for updates . . .

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Maybe We'll Get Al Gore...

I was just alerted during my late night/early morning email check that less than two full weeks after this year's Notre Dame Forum, next year's topic has already been selected:

It is “Charting a Sustainable Energy Future,” a subject that
implicates a host of timely and difficult issues, including climate change
and the condition of the environment, the costs and benefits of economic
development, the fairness of wealth and income distribution, and the
appropriate roles of nations and individuals in creating such a future.

This comes right on the tail of the highly publicized (we're talking t-shirts, elaborate quad displays, and tables in front of the dining halls during several meals) and extensively university-supported 'Energy Week,' which was described in another post. So much for choosing a counter-culturally Catholic topic for the Academic Forum, as one of the commentors on that post suggested. I guess a 'life issues' or bioethics forum just isn't interesting, timely, or 'cool' enough for the Office of the President, et. al.

Another observation is that the ND Forum topics seem to be nicely coinciding with this year's television marketing scheme. We're 'fighting disease,' 'fighting for immigration rights' (or I think the most recent version was something more vague about fighting for 'security' and fighting for 'human rights'), and of course 'fighting global warming'. We're the Fighting Irish. It's what we do.

Perhaps I should be able to veil my disappointment a bit more. But we have really come far from the first year of the Forum, when Notre Dame at least tried to address a faith-related topic ("Why God? Understanding Religion and Enacting Faith in a Plural World"). Although in retrospect, I don't remember that going very well either, with former Sen. Danforth contributing this pearl of wisdom:

Danforth clarified his position by saying that rather than fundamentalism, he believes “certainty is the problem – people who believe that they are on God’s side, or they know God’s will.”

The academic forum seems to have great potential...but alas.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

First-Generation Domer's Lament

Have you ever, in the course of a stultifying talk with another student, wondered how your conversation partner got into Notre Dame? I've had this experience so frequently throughout my career here that I became curious as to how so many intelligent people are rejected from Notre Dame in favor of so many dimwits. Eventually I settled for the answer that most of the less acute people had extremely strong extracurriculars -- you don't need to have an IQ of 140 to be a concert pianist or to found a soup kitchen.

In coming to that conclusion, I gave the admissions folks the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, the truth is not as flattering:
"...many of the applicants who were rejected were far more qualified than those accepted. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, it was not the black and Hispanic beneficiaries of affirmative action, but the rich white kids with cash and connections who elbowed most of the worthier applicants aside.

Researchers with access to closely guarded college admissions data have found that, on the whole, about 15 percent of freshmen enrolled at America's highly selective colleges are white teens who failed to meet their institutions' minimum admissions standards."

Notre Dame is one of the schools specifically mentioned in this Boston Globe article, along with Harvard, Duke, and others. Apparently, it's far easier for legacies to get in than I had imagined, not only here, but at elite colleges throughout the US.

The article presents this as a bad or unfair practice, but I'm not entirely convinced. I'm a first generation Domer, and I benefit enormously from below-average legacies attending ND. First, they are accepted because they are cash cows for the school. Indirectly, they also subsidize my education. Without the donations their parents exchange for their acceptance, tuition would be a lot higher than it currently is. Second, multiple generations of families attending school here imbue it with the tradition and familiar atmosphere that make Notre Dame attractive. Third, having below-average students brings down the curve, meaning it's easier for me to get the grades I want. Based on the Globe's figure of 15% of students being unqualified "rich dim white kids," I estimate that my getting an "A" is 15% easier.

So by all means, ND admissions, keep the cash cows coming.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Any Chance this week?

With Evan Sharpley starting this week against USC, I think we have a legitimate chance to defeat the Trojans. I realize that the Irish are an awful 1-6 this season, while USC stands at 5-1, but I honestly believe we can win this game on Saturday.
The offense, which has been stagnate under Clausen, has actually been fairly productive with Sharpley under center. He has led Notre Dame on its three longest drives of the season, and the offense, in general, seems to open up more when Sharpley is in the game. While he may not be as accurate a passer as Clausen, the offense definitely responds to Sharpley when he is in the game. Moreover, Sharpley’s elusiveness to avoid the rush has prevented a sack on more than one occasion – a skill that is extremely valuable with an offensive line that has struggled this season.
On the other side, USC has not performed well. They lost to a weak Stanford team two weeks ago, and last week the Trojans just managed to sneak by Arizona. No one can deny the amount of talent on USC, but they seem to be extremely lackadaisical, merely going through the motions. To make matters worse for USC, John David Booty may miss the game on Saturday due to a broken finger, though he insists that he wants to play. If Booty doesn’t play, Mark Sanchez will get the start for USC, and I think that our defense, which has been able to get pressure on the quarterback in the last few games, will be able to rattle the inexperienced Sanchez.
The bottom line: If USC continues to play as poorly as they have in the past two weeks, Evan Sharpley, though he may not be spectacular by any means, will be able to do enough to generate points for the Irish, and lead them to a victory.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Another Football Post

After ND's latest failure, Weis is considering switching QBs and having Evan Sharpley start next week against USC. Note that, while Sharpley has been better than Clausen, neither has done anything amazing (3 TDs for Sharpley, 1 for Clausen on the season. 1-6 record). Who does senior captain John Carlson think should start?

Tight end John Carlson said the players believe in both quarterbacks.

"They've both proven that they have the ability to get the job done," he said.

And the "job" is what again?

Note: Nothing against Carlson or the QBs. I just thought it was funny.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

No More Excuses: We Shall Overcome

Nothing quite says fall like a home game at Notre Dame. Flocks of alumni and visitors drifting around campus and asking for directions, and observing a students live a life that is, at once familiar and different. Students, on the other hand, are running around, trying to do everything they need to get done before the weekend comes. The glass candles are brought out at the Grotto and support for the team is seen everywhere. Meanwhile, the temperature is about 30 degrees lower than last week and everyone is scrambling for socks and jackets as highs hit the 50's. The leaves are turning and falling, the legendary "blue-grey October sky" is here, more commonly known as "the permacloud", and students hunker down for the combined start of midterms week and a marathon home-game streak. Break is so close. And, we have a game tomorrow.


Tonight in the JACC was one of the better pep rallies I've seen. Spirit was high among the students, who were distinguished by their dorm apparel. The speakers, Rocket Ismael and Justice Alan Page, were inspiring and enthusiastic, especially the Rocket since he brought the entire Arena on its feet.

Before the pep rally, he told the players, so they've been knocked down, but so what? Get back up again. The worst enemy is in the head, the one that thinks about defeat and losing. It isn't about excuses. Today's society is all about making excuses, which only get in the way of full potential, so stop thinking about defeats and aching muscles, so just go out there and play. (I paraphrase into cliches because I don't recall any exact quotes. He did for sure say that thing about today's society.) Go to to watch a video of him speaking and finish believing we can dominate BC. (Seriously. Go watch it. I wont't transcribe it. Use Internet Explorer 6.0 or better.)

During the rally, he said "You can either stand or fight, or throw up your hands and live to see another day. Well guess what, it's time to stand and fight." After that, we could have probably Boston College then and there and won, playing like we are going to play in all of our winning games next year.
(Brief digression: If anyone is familiar with the movie "Robin Hood: Men in Tights", there is a scene where Robin Hood gives a motivational speech to his Merry Men, he winds up doing an impression of Churchill. Then Achoo steps in with a rousing speech in the style of Malcom X. That is what I couldn't help thinking of hearing Rocket talk, especially when after he told us to "stand and fight", he said that "together we have what it takes to overcome.")

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rush Week?

Want an indication on how far Notre Dame football has fallen?

In this week leading up to the second biggest home football game of the year, a large amount of ink has been spilled in the Observer and internet message boards over whether the student body should rush the if the Irish knock off the #4 Eagles.

Have things really gotten so bad that we are more concerned about a premeditated celebration than the football game itself? It sure does seem so.

Screw rushing the field. Screw the "Back Up College" shirts. Screw bickering over "Our Little Brother" and "Fredo." The student body just needs to go out on Saturday and make as much noise as possible. We are not helping our boys by arguing over petty details in newspaper and internet message boards. When toe meets leather, all that stuff doesn't matter. What does matter is noise - lots of it. Don't believe me? Look at any SEC school (well, maybe not Vandy). During the game call them whatever names you want, just so long as you yell it. And when it is all said and done, win or lose, stay off the field. Boston College deserves our utmost attention and respect, but we still have work to do next week against Petey and the Men of Troy.

My suggestion: no talking next week. The silence before the storm.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Reflections on the Observer...

These last two days, I have been somewhat bemused by stories appearing on the pages of Notre Dame's own official student publication, The Observer. This amusement, I should note well here, has nothing to do with the strangely personal attacks on my fellow Rovers which have appeared on more than one occasion in the Observer's pages this semester (kicking puppies? see this post.)

The degree to which the paper seems to be out of touch not only with a particular segment of its readership on campus, but with the identity of the university its reporting--willingly or not--represents, has become quite apparent. I figured this out long before these few examples came to light (read: freshman year), but I thought I'd share these recent developments nonetheless.

Yesterday, I grabbed everyone's favorite daily paper on my way to class, surprised to see the name of my favorite Dominican Doctor above the fold on the front page! I celebrated with a friend who had taken the theology course "Aquinas and the Pursuit of Wisdom" with me last semester--only to be, well, disheartened to see the reason the Observer justified printing an article on Thomas in that esteemed location:
Professor lectures on Aquinas: Scholar Encourages a Skeptical Reading
Skeptical reading? of Aquinas? "Now why," asked my buzzing little theological mind, which admittedly feels almost as much at home in Thomas' disputed question format as it does in Mass, "would anyone encourage such a thing?!?" It was unpleasant to be hurled into an alternate universe, where my friend Thomas is being read by the skeptic, instead of the person seeking to travel a transformative path towards union with God. I searched the text of the article for answers.

I didn't find much, for the article was rather light on content. But I did locate this reason given in the article (I did not attend the lecture) for skepticism in our reading of 'St. Aquinas' (this unusual moniker, given in the article):

"Aquinas is still, among Catholics, a weapon in the culture wars," she said, adding that, because his writings aren't Scripture, "we should be even more skeptical of him."

Sounds like a rather Protestant reading of, well, any theologian. Skepticism about any teaching which does not come directly from one's own interpretation of the divinely inspired Word of God sounds just like sola scriptura, and any Catholic scholar should flee from it, whichever side of the 'culture wars' they are on. And yes, one would think that the many truths found in Aquinas' thought, which are in continuity with what the Church had taught up to the 13th century and has taught since, would have a role to play in our modern cultural debates. We don't have the luxury of reinventing and reinterpreting Christian ethics in each generation.

So much for Thomas.

Today's paper featured an article helping to gear up the ND community for "National Coming-Out Day" tomorrow--woohoo. The promotion of these sort of 'gay pride' events is in direct contradiction of Catholic teaching on the matter. Yes, the university should be a place where the human dignity of all should be respected, and where love of neighbor ties the community together. But implicit in our coming together as a learning community under the patronage of Our Lady is that we are together striving to live Christian lives--to be transformed and become virtuous in the sort of way Aquinas' works indicated. When certain members of our community embrace a lifestyle--that is, one involving certain actions, I am not here addressing the orientation--that is antithetical to virtuous self-control, it's plain that the rest of the community can't sit back and cheer them on. Instead, in love and always with respect, we are to witness to the truth of God's plan for human sexuality.

This certainly applies to the SMC community as well, which I understand as part of the larger ND family. So the discussions being covered yesterday in the article are ones which seem to completely disregard the life of virtue to which we are all called. Instead, we are to accept the vice--and endorse it.:

"Your coming out is at your own pace and you have to be O.K. with it [before you can actually go through with it]. Until you are comfortable with who you are, you won't be comfortable in the world," Warner said.

All three panelists spoke of how far the College has come in its acceptance of homosexuals on campus.

"Twelve years ago, when I came here I had to stay closeted so I didn't lose my job," Porter said. "I think a lot has changed since then."

Porter, who eventually came out after receiving tenure, said that while Saint Mary's has a non-discrimination policy - which can apply to sexuality - she thinks the College could go even further and offer benefits, such as healthcare, for the life partners of homosexual employees.
Finally, on to the coverage of the Tridentine Mass coming to Notre Dame, following Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum this summer.

Headline? "Students demand Latin Mass after rescript".

Two immediate thoughts:

1. Rescript? What's a rescript? The search string I entered into Google--"rescript Latin Mass"--amusingly immediately returned this very article to me as the top search result, followed by other blog posts which helpfully told me that 'rescript' is pretty much the English term for 'motu proprio'. OK, I'll take it. We don't want classical languages on the front page. Too churchy.

2. Students DEMAND Latin Mass? It sounds like Domers descended on campus in mid-July and proceeded to bang on the doors of Campus Ministry until their wish was granted. Read on to discover that the 'demands' consisted of expressing interest and providing the evidence required by the motu proprio of a "stable community of the faithful" requesting that the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite liturgy be available on campus--expressing interest in emails and a Facebook group. But we have to make that crazy Latin-obsessed Catholic cadre seem off its rocker...

The article was actually quite good on content, with quotes from Fr. Warner and Brett Perkins of Campus Ministry. But there had to be that headline...

I am often confused or dismayed by the attitudes of my fellow students, and perhaps the Observer is just an all-too-visible way for me to see it, day in and day out, in sometimes the silliest of examples. And I'm sure that this is an ageless problem, for young adults have never been famed, as a group, for their stunning self-control or great wisdom.

That's why we need our University to teach us these things. Catholic faculty hiring is of the utmost importance in retaining the Catholic identity of this University, for it is the faculty who help to transform us from rebellious teens (think Thrasymachus) into faithful and virtuous young adults. When both students AND the faculty who are supposed to lead us cease to care about the life of faith of the community into which they have been called--and the moral development which that life requires--enormous problems facing the very identity of our University are inevitable.