Saturday, July 26, 2008


Edmund Campion

Edmund Campion is an Oxford Roman Catholic who fled England to become a Jesuit in the 1500's and returned as an illegal priest. He was caught, debated by Protestant scholars in the Tower of London, and executed for treason.

He claimed that he was on a merely religious mission, not political, but he was executed not for heresy but for treason. Questions of religion and politics were mixed because the Pope had some years earlier deposed Queen Elizabeth and forbade any Englishmen to obey her on pain of excommunication. A good article on the topic is: Papists, and the "Public Sphere" in Early Modern England: The Edmund Campion Affair in Context, Peter Lake and Michael Questier, The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 72, No. 3, (Sep., 2000), pp. 587-627 .

The Pope's 1570 bull Regnans in Excelsis said:

Therefore, resting upon the authority of Him whose pleasure it was to place us (though unequal to such a burden) upon this supreme justice- seat, we do out of the fullness of our apostolic power declare the foresaid Elizabeth to be a heretic and favourer of heretics, and her adherents in the matters aforesaid to have incurred the sentence of excommunication and to be cut off from the unity of the body of Christ.

IV. And moreover (we declare) her to be deprived of her pretended title to the aforesaid crown and of all lordship, dignity and privilege whatsoever...

V. And also (declare) the nobles, subjects and people of the said realm and all others who have in any way sworn oaths to her, to be forever absolved from such an oath and from any duty arising from lordshop. fealty and obedience; and we do, by authority of these presents , so absolve them and so deprive the same Elizabeth of her pretended title to the crown and all other the abovesaid matters. We charge and command all and singular the nobles, subjects, peoples and others afore said that they do not dare obey her orders, mandates and laws. Those who shall act to the contrary we include in the like sentence of excommunication.

Thus, anyone who was a Roman Catholic and who believed in the authority of the Pope had to, as a matter of religious belief, refuse to obey the English government. Edmund Campion, as a Jesuit, took a special vow of obedience to the Pope. Thus, insofar as he followed his religion, he was a traitor to England-- or, if you like, a traitor to Parliament and Queen Elizabeth, if loyal to Queen Mary Stuart. Further, the Bull implies that any Roman Catholic should use all efforts to obey the legitimate ruler-- Mary Stuart-- which meant to depose the pretended ruler, Elizabeth.

In such circumstances it does not seem unreasonable to me to make it illegal for priests to enter England, or that being a priest loyal to Rome would be prima facie evidence of treason.

See also "Campion's Brag,") his challenge to debate.

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Friday, July 25, 2008


Two Words

Instantiation: something instantiated; an instance

Ascriptive: pertaining to, involving, or indicating ascription, esp. the attribution of qualities or characteristics. [Origin: 1640–50;



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Wikipedia's "French Nobility" is a good article. I looked it up in an attempt to understand Proust (and other French novels) better. Here are some things I learned.

Other activities could cause dérogeance, or loss of one's nobility. So were most commercial and manual activities strictly prohibited, although nobles could profit from their lands through mines and forges.

Thus, being a noble had some severe disadvantages.

Other than in isolated cases, serfdom ceased to exist in France by the 15th century....

That sounds like England.

Figures differ on the actual number of nobles in France at the end of the 18th century. For the year 1789, the French historian François Bluche gives a figure of 140,000 nobles (9,000 noble families) and claims that around 5% of nobles claimed descent from feudal nobility before the 15th century.[1]

With a total population of 28 million, this would represent merely 0.5%. The historian Gordon Wright gives a figure of 300,000 nobles (of which 80,000 were from the traditional noblesse d'épée),[2] which agrees with the estimation of the historian Jean de Viguerie,[3] or a little over 1% (proportionally one of smallest noble classes in Europe)....

So little of the nobility actually were descended from the medieval nobility! This, too, doesn't sound so different from England. Maybe the War of the Roses didn't really destroy the ancient English nobility. It seems France was as open, or more open, than England to admitting non-nobles into the nobility. See the next excerpt:

From 1275

to 1578, non-nobles could acquire titles of nobility after three generations by buying lands or castles that had noble privileges attached to them, that is to say that these fiefs had formerly belonged to a noble lord or the king and had been given in feudal homage. Non-nobles could not possess noble fiefs without paying a special tax on them (the franc-fief) to their liege-holder.

In the 16th century, families could acquire nobility by possessing certain important official or military charges, generally after two generations.

Many titles of nobility were usurped by non-nobles in the Renaissance and early 17th century by purchasing fiefs and by living nobly, i.e. by avoiding commercial and manual activity and by finding some way to be exempted from the official taille lists. In this way, the family would slowly come to be seen as noble....

The noblesse de lettres became, starting in the reign of Francis I of France, a handy method for the court to raise revenues; non-nobles possessing noble fiefs would pay a year's worth of revenues from their fiefs to gain nobility. In 1598, Henry IV of France undid a number of these anoblissments, but eventually saw the necessity of the practice.

The last excerpt, below, is useful for interpreting names:

The use of de in noble names (Fr: la particule) was not officially controlled in France (unlike von in the German states), and is not reliable evidence of the bearer's nobility. A simple tailor could be named Marc de Lyon, as a sign of his birth place. In the 19th century, the de was mistakenly adopted by some non-nobles (like Honoré de Balzac) in an attempt to appear noble....



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Thursday, July 24, 2008


Some Math Graphics

Dean Anton Sherwood has lots of good math graphics at Here's one.

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Environmental AIDS Transmission

I wonder what the truth is about the danger of getting AIDS from such things as sneezes or toilet seats. The danger can't be too great, or we would come across numerous cases where that method of transmission could be proved. On the other hand, I am skeptical of the claims that no such cases occur. Would someone making that claim really be willing to share a handkerchief with someone in the last stages of AIDS? In the scientific literature, look carefully for language such as "No cases have been found..." or "No cases have been proved...", as opposed to "It is impossible to have transmission by ...". I haven't heard of any experiments on the subject. What would be useful would be to see if an animal can be infected without direct contact with an infected animal. Animals cannot be infected with the same HIV virus as humans, but even moderate similarity in the viruses would tell us something.

It isn't widely known that the HIV virus has a remarkable ability to survive outside of a human body. It can even survive drying! This implies, doesn't it, that it must be common for measurable amounts of HIV virus to be transmitted enviromentally. Since we don't see cases of that, it must be that the virus can't get where it needs to go in the body (e.g., maybe it can't get through the nasal membrane) or those amounts are not big enough to survive initial attack by the immune system, or even to stimulate measurable immune reactions.

Here are some notes from a couple of articles.

"Cell-free and cell-associated human immunodeficiency virus cultures suspended in 10% serum remained infectious for several weeks at room temperature. The stability was further increased when cell-associated virus was suspended in neat serum. When dried onto a glass coverslip, virus remained infectious for several days, although cell-associated virus lost infectivity more rapidly than cell-free virus."

The article says this ability to survive is similar to that of other viruses that have lipid envelopes around them.

JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY, Feb. 1994, P. 571-574, Survival of Human Immunodeficiency Virus in Suspension and Dried onto Surfaces J. vAN BUEREN,* R. A. SIMPSON,t P. JACOBS, AND B. D. COOKSON Vol. 32, No. 2.

I found a good comparison of different germs' survival times. The article itself is about accidental jabs from needles.

30-50% of Australian drug users have been exposed to hepatitis B (as shown by having antibodies against it), but only 1-2% are infected. The hepatitis B virus can survive for a week if dried. It can be frozen and thawed 8 times and the DNA is still intact. Even a minute amount of infected blood can transmit the disease, since it has high concentrations and is virulent. It is often transmistted "environmentally"-- that is, from surfaces contaminated by body fluids or through the air.

50-60% of Australian drug users are infected with Hepatitis C. It survives for 2 days dried.

1% of Australian drug users are infected with HIV. THat is remarkably low-- aren't rates for American homosexuals who frequent homosexual venues more like 20%?

Blood-borne viruses and their survival in the environment: is public concern about community needlestick exposures justified? Thompson, Boughton and Dore. 2003 VOL . 27 NO. 6 AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Chicago Faculty Opposing Its Friedman Institute

Here are the signers of the letter opposing the Friedman institute at Chicago. Fred Donner and Marshall Sahlins are the only names I recognize.



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Global Warming: Where and When?

I've posted before about the importance of the time of year and the regions where temperatures are rising. Apparently, the carbon theory of warming has a prediction which is refuted by the evidence, an article in the Australian says (hat tip: Volokh and Powerline):
1. The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring for years, and cannot find it. Each possible cause of global warming has a different pattern of where in the planet the warming occurs first and the most. The signature of an increased greenhouse effect is a hot spot about 10km up in the atmosphere over the tropics. We have been measuring the atmosphere for decades using radiosondes: weather balloons with thermometers that radio back the temperature as the balloon ascends through the atmosphere. They show no hot spot. Whatsoever.

I've heard before about the prediction of the carbon theory that the warming should occur in the upper atmosphere first. I used to think that one carbon prediction that is true is that warming shoudl occur in arid cold areas in winter first, because there is so little water vapor that a small amount of CO2 makes a bigger difference. I realize now, though, that any theory might predict that, because a little initial warming would result in more water vapor and more warming effect there.



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Monday, July 21, 2008


Ecclesiology Questions

My cumulative ecclesiology page, a list of questions and, at some point, discussion and answers in the style of Aquinas's Summa, is here. I will add the post below to it.

Should books be sold in a church?

Should there be commercial advertising in a church bulletin?

Should money be collected in an offering during worship?

Should worship be beautiful?

Should children have rattles and drums to use during hymnsinging in worship?

Should a church have songs to which the congregation does not sing along?

Should there be clapping after someone has sung or played during worship?

Should children run the service sometimes?

Should there be patronage in choosing a minister?

Should the KJV Bible be used?

Should a person bring his own bible to church?

Should a church have pew bibles?

Is it wrong if members of the congregation do not dress formally, e.g. in jacket and tie?

Is it wrong if members of the congregation dress sloppily, e.g. in shorts and t-shirts? Should women wear hats in church?



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Monday, July 14, 2008


The Noahide Laws

The Talmudic Jews have a tradition that 7 laws are commanded to non-Jews. This is important as a sign of which laws are considered universally the most important. They are not the same as the 10 Commandments. They do not, for example, require worship of Jehovah, or observance of the Sabbath, which are laws specifically for the Jews. Sometimes people point to minor laws in the Torah to downplay the importantance of, for example,the prohibition of homosexuality. This is evidence that some laws are considered more important than others, and of universal importance. has the "The Seven Laws of the Descendents of Noah", well-documented and with page sources and Hebrew in the original and transliterated:

Idolatry: (Strange work - i.e. serving an idol) Avodah Zarah
2 Blasphemy - ‘Blessing’ the Divine Name: (Cursing G-d) Birchat (Kilelas) HaShem
3 Murder: (Spilling blood) Shefichat Damim
4 Sexual transgressions: (Exposure of nakedness) (i.e. incest, adultery, homosexual acts and bestiality etc) Gilui Arayot
5 Theft: (To rob, embezzle.) (Includes rape and abduction) Gezel
6 Courts system: (Judgement, justice, and law etc.) Dinim
7 Eating a limb torn from a live animal: (Limb of the living.) Ever Min HaChai
From Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 56a; Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 9:1....

Transgressing any one of them is considered such a breach in the natural order that the offender incurs the death penalty. Apart from a few exceptions, the death sentence for a Ben Noach is Sayif, death by the sword / decapitation, the least painful of the four modes of execution of criminals (see the Rambam's Hilchos Melachim 9:14). (The four methods of capital punishment in Torah are: S’kilah - Stoning; S’rifah - Burning; Hereg - Decapitation; Henek - Strangulation.)...

The Rambam in Hilchos Melachim 8:11, writes that all Benei Noach who accept upon themselves the Seven Mitzvos and are careful to keep them and are precise in their observance are termed 'Chasidei Umos ha'Olam' ?????????? ??????? ???????? ('the Pious Ones of the Nations') and they merit a share in the World to Come. However, they must keep these Mitzvos specifically because HaShem (G-d) commanded them in the Torah through Moshe Rabeinu (Moses).

Further information is at:


The 7 laws that Noah gave to his sons in the Book of Jubilees, chapter 7, verse 20.

And in the twenty-eighth jubilee [1324-1372 A.M.] Noah began to enjoin upon his sons' sons the ordinances and commandments, and all the judgments that he knew, and he exhorted his sons to observe righteousness, and to cover the shame of their flesh, and to bless their Creator, and honour father and mother, and love their neighbour, and guard their souls from fornication and uncleanness and all iniquity.

English translations (by Soncino) of the parts of the Talmud that discuss Noahide law:

Sanhedrin 56a & 56b
Sanhedrin 57a & 57b
Sanhedrin 58a & 58b
Sanhedrin 59a & 59b
Sanhedrin 60a & 60b
Sanhedrin 96b
Avodah Zarah 2 & 3
Avodah Zarah 64b, 65a & 65b
Baba Kamma 38a

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