Over at The American Catholic, The Motley Monk has posted "The rise of the neo-Lutherans: Will there be a schism?The post focuses upon the Extraordinary Synod on the Family held last October in Rome and, in it, The Motley Monk wonders whether the rise of the neo-Lutherans--the "pro-mercy" faction of bishiops led by Cardinal Kasper of Germany who want divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Commuion--will cause a schism in the Roman Catholic Church?

Check it out...

To read The Motley Monk's post at The American Catholic, click on the following link:
The Associated Press (AP) published a story last week concerning slavery. The odd thing about this particular narrative is that it hasn't seemed to catch the attention of the liberal "social justice" lobby which typically is all over a story which concerns slavery.

According to AP, hundreds of slaves from Myanmar (Burma)--housed in cages on the Indonesian island of Benjina thousands of miles from home--are being forced to catch fish working 20- to 22- hour shifts and drinking unclean water. If they complain or attempt to rest, they are kicked, beaten, or whipped with toxic stingray tails. They were paid little or nothing. Many slaves die at sea. 60+ slave graves can be found in a with neatly-labeled, small, wooden markers identifying slaves' falsified names. Only friends remember where the bodies are buried.

Some fishermen, risking their lives, have begged for help. One slave said:

     If Americans and Europeans are eating this fish, they should remember
     us. There must be a mountain of bones under the sea. The bones of the
     people could be an island, it's that many.

The narrative is somewhat cloudly but it seems the Myanmar slaves provide the supply network of fish that's shipped to Thailand and is subsequently sold by major U.S. distributors (Sysco), supermarket chains (Kroger, Albertsons, and Safeway), and restaurants (squid, snapper, grouper, and shrimp as well as calamari, and imitation crab in a California sushi rolls). The fish is also found in pet food (Meow Mix, Kibbles, and Iams).

Yes, the fish that many people and pets in the US consume may be the product of slave labor.

Where are the stormy petrels? It's the perfect narrative they'd normally be trumpeting in the media, in boycotts, and protests attempting to force those distributors, supermarket chains, and restaurants selling the fish to end the obscene and immoral practice. The Motley Monk could write their script:

     Those greedy capitalists are paying off greedy owners of fisheries to
     market fish that's been caught off the sweat of the back of Myanmar
     slaves. This abhorrent practice has everything to do with the social
     injustices perpetrated by capitalists. It's time to put an end to this
     criminal activity and shut them all down.

Yes, where are the stormy petrels?

The answer couldn't possibly be that because the AP's narrative concerns enslaved males the social justice lobby isn't much interested, could it?

Let the discussion begin...

To read the AP story, click on the following link:
In 2000, the number of Americans 65+ was 35M. In 2011, the number was 41.4M. In 2013, it was estimated to be 44.7M.

No doubt about it, the percentage of Americans who are growing old--and living longer--is increasing. And this trend isn't expected to change until the Baby Boom generation passes stage right.

So, what are the best states for critical "senior needs" like medical care, access to services, infrastructure, or other amenities that are increasingly necessary as people age?

The folks over at 24/7 Wall St.com have formulated an answer:

       The best states:
       1. Utah
       2. New Hampshire
       3. Hawaii
       4. Vermont
       5. Virginia
       6. Minnesota
       7. Colorado
The worst states:
1. Mississippi
2. Louisiana
3. West Virginia
4. Arkansas
5. Nevada
6. Tennessee
7. New Mexico
To be considered among the best states in which to grow old, senior citizens in those states had to have relatively strong income security, as measured by several indicators including: income, health, labor, environment, and access to critical infrastructure. To be considered among the worst states to grow old, senior citizens in the states had to have relatively weak income security, as measured by the same indicators.

The Motley Monk would observe that one of the problems associated with lists like this one is that they use aggregated data. When compiled, while those data provide a pretty accurate generalization about the quality of life in the states, the generalization portrayed overlooks the particulars associated with specific towns, cities, and counties in those states.

For example, Fayetteville, Arkansas, is a gem of a place to grow old. It's not only a university town (the Razorbacks and lots of young people to keep youthful) but it also provides all of the amenities needed to flourish while growing old. There's four seasons (with a short winter season), the arts, a world-class medical facility, all sorts of sustainability programs, weekly organic farmstands, golf courses, bike paths, and nature trails, and a very low cost of living. One would never think that by examining 24/7 Wall St.com's listing. Why? Arkansas ranks 4th from the bottom of the worst states in which to grow old.

The Motley Monk also understands that the nations of Costa Rica (the higher up the mountainsides  the better), Panama, and the Philippines (sans terrorists) are real bargains, too. And, that's to say nothing about Lenoir, NC! Check it out.

Let the discussion begin...

To read the detail list of 24/7 Wall St.com's best and worst states in which to grow old, click on the following link:

The political Left's new "Grande Dame," Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is a much-touted alternative to what some are characterizing as the "Elder Stateswoman" Hillary Clinton. That's not using sexist language, is it?

Seeking to strengthen her legislative bona fides, Senator Warren has hatched a scheme to reduce the interest rate on student loans by allowing many borrowers to refinance. Warren's ostensible goal is to lessen the burden of debt--especially the poorest of graduates--so they can pay off their debt more quickly and move on with their lives.

Who possibly could disagree? To be sure, only the most heartless and selfish of illegitimates.

So, let's not consider the fact that Warren's scheme will cause the federal government to realize less income than was projected by those in Congress who legislated to make the loans in the first place. What difference does it make if yet another $1T is added to the nation's debt? After all, it's just money that Fed Chair Janet Yellen can print.

But, The Motley Monk digresses.

A study by the Center on Higher Education Reform indicates that Warren's scheme won't benefit the poorest students:
  • New York Federal Reserve Bank data indicate that 37% of the 43M currently repaying federal student loans are delinquent or have defaulted. There are data indicating the borrowers who are defaulting are oftentimes students who have dropped out of college...not those who have earned degrees.
  • Most borrowers who default on federal generally have lower balances--$5k not $50k--relative to those who repay. A borrower with $5k in debt who refinances from 6.8% to 3.8% (the current rate for undergraduate borrowers) would save $7/month ($84/year). But, borrowers who aren't struggling would receive the largest concession from Warren's scheme: The re-fi benefits would accrue disproportionately to the richest 25% of households, that is, high-income individuals with expensive graduate degrees.

Isn't that how it always ends up with those so-called "social justice" schemes hatched by the political Left? They decry what the capitalist system is doing to the poorest of the poor. Then, lo and behold, it ends up the political Left was seeking all along to feather the nests of its own members.

Yes, provide debt assistance to the poor who truly need it. But, don't claim that's the goal when the lion's share of the so-called "reform" scheme is skewed from the beginning to benefit the rich. Is that not what the political Left calls a "regressive" scheme when the subject is tax reform?

Let the discussion begin...

To read the study by the Center on Higher Education Reform, click on the following link: "Lowering Rates Isn't the Answer."

For the past three-plus decades, just as the words "diversity" and "inclusion" and all they can possibly mean have provided the rhetorical armament the Left has used on college campuses nationwide to fundamentally transform U.S. higher education into an non-diverse, exclusive, ideologically-driven, totalitarian state, so too with the Left's newest rhetorical armament, "sustainability."

Yes, indeed, sustainability has become the new coin of the realm. Just try challenging the new orthodoxy. In the words of the National Association of Scholars (NAS), sustainability has become "higher education's new fundamentalism."

According to an NAS report released yesterday, sustainability isn't just about protecting the biosphere which, by the way, The Motley Monk believes is a moral imperative. The NAS argues instead that the sustainability movement "distorts college curricula and cuts off free inquiry on important questions," like climate change.

What? The Left isn't interested in open, honest, transparent, and principled dialogue? That can't possibly be, can it?

In addition, colleges are "spending lavishly on sustainability programs" at a time of tight budgets for other, strategic priorities.

Just at the time when college presidents across are crying poor mouth because there's not enough money to promote their institutions' core technology--teaching, research, and service--those presidents seem to have absolutely no problem at all finding bags of $$$s for cisterns and some of the other accouterments associated with the good life in the early 1800s!

Lastly, the NAS report criticizes those 685 colleges and universities whose presidents signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

What does that commitment mean, in fact?
  • It demands "blind obedience" on the part of faculty and students in the place of critical examination of the facts.
  • It also has been used to justify expanding courses and forming new departments, all of which adds to the cost of educating young people. Believe it or not, students can now earn credentials in sustainability in 1,438 distinct college programs. Sustainability has also blossomed in a "theme" that has spread across the college curriculum, including courses including English composition, mathematics, and psychology.

A new Hydra in higher education! Try whacking off that Hydra's head and discover the Pandora's casket that's been opened. The results may be worse than hoping "this too shall pass."

Remember all of those bizarre, esoteric, and parochial "academic specialties" that quickly morphed into "required core courses" and expanded into "minors" and then "majors," and are now "departments"? No, thank you. The Motley Monk has "been there, seen that." 

According the NAS President and co-author of the report:

     Harnessing higher education and the liberal arts into the service of
     sustainability seriously undermines their purpose. It treats other
     disciplines as mere grist for the sustainability mill.

What? Please, don't say it's so! The Left uses people as a means to promote their ends and really doesn't care about those people? That what conservatives and capitalists are guilty of, no?

The Motley Monk offers a "heads up" to all of those sustainability majors, masters, and doctors of this nex, faux academic specialty: After graduation, you will be unemployable...except perhaps as professors, program adminstrators, or administrative assistants in higher education.

Why this report at this time? Delegates to the United Nations are gathered this week to negotiate new "Sustainable Development Goals." The Leftists populating the nation's college campuses and indoctrinating students into the latest dogma of those who worship at the altar of environmentalism are itching to demonstrate their unthinking fidelity and allegiance to the UN's novus ordo saeculum. What NAS is doing is to cast light upon some inconvenient facts and perspectives that aren't part of the unquestioned and unchallenged sustainability narrative that's being foisted upon students attending colleges and universities across the nation.

Let the discussion begin...

To read the NAS study, click on the following link:
It’s been so common and for so long that, for most parents, it’s like the air they breathe.

What’s that? The government and its agents, aided and abetted by the public school teachers’ union bosses, seizing the prior parental right to educate their children as they see fit.

Arguably, nowhere is this more the case than in the State of California.

Consider the case of Palm Lane Elementary School (Anaheim, CA) where basic transparency and accountability have been turned on their head in an effort to hide some terribly embarrassing facts:
  • 62% of students are not proficient in reading.
  • Student achievement has been so poor that in 2014 educational bureaucrats granted Palm Lane a federal waiver exempting it from being assessed upon student reading and math achievement scores. While students would take the tests, the results would not be used to make determinations about student achievement and the quality of education being provided.
  • The same bureaucrats are now seeking a total federal testing waiver. Why? Rather than use standardized testing to measure achievement, Palm Lane can use graduation rates, attendance rates, and rates of participation to measure student achievement.

Parents of Palm Lane students have had enough of this educational malpractice which is detrimental to their children’s future. Under the  Golden State’s “Parent Empowerment Act” (aka, “Parent Trigger Law” [PTL]), they petitioned the school board to turn Palm Lane into a charter school.

To what end? The school board rejected the petition. No suprise there. What is surprising is the reason: There weren’t enough valid signatures from current parents to trigger the transition to a charter school. Signatures of 50% of the parents of currently enrolled students were needed, but 100+ signatures were disqualified, leaving only 48% of the signatures valid.

Ever wonder who assessed those ballots?

Bad as that is, here’s the real deal: PTL allows parents of students in failing public schools to “overhaul the structure and operations of their schools.” This could include replacing school staff or transforming a public school into a charter school. However, PTL requires that a school demonstrate poor academic performance for 2 consecutive years, based upon the same metrics.

Do the math. Which is more likely to demonstrate poor academic performance for 2 consecutive years? Standardized achievement tests or graduation rates, attendance rates, and rates of participation?

Then, too, by the time those new data would be available--three years out--the turnover of parents would further delay any threat of substantive change to Palm Lane Elementary School.

That how those bureaucrats and public school teachers’ union bosses deny parents what is theirs by a prior right.

So much for caring for the children.

Let the discussion begin…

To read the case Palm Lane Elementary School as reported in the Orange County Register, click on the following link:

One of the problems with buying good cheese--like grana padana, parmigano-reggiano, or pecorino romano--is that there's always too much for one or even two dinners. So, The Motley Monk places his leftover cheese in a glass container sealed airtight with a plastic top and puts the container into the refrigerator.

Then two or three weeks go by. "Out of sight, out of mind."

The problem now is that the cheese is drying out...which actually began the moment when someone first cut the cheese from the wheel. Now, after two or three or four weeks in the refrigerator, the cheese has a milky, gray coating (indicating that the moisture has evaporated).  It's still fine to use and tastes great but the cheese isn't as "soft" as it had been...not "dead" but certainly not "alive."

The folks over at Epicurious know what's happened and offer four rules for dealing with cheese:
  1. Buy cheese in small quantities...no more than can be consumed in one week, because cheese likes humidity and refrigerators tend to deplete humidity which is good for vegetables, not cheese.
  2. Wrap cheese in waxed paper following that with a layer of plastic wrap...allowing the cheese some room to breathe. Don't place cheese in a plastic bag (or, The Motley Monk assumes, an airtight container even if it appears that there's plenty of room for the cheese to breath).
  3. Using a long, non-serated knife, shave the cheese to remove the gray outer layer no deeper than one millimeter.
  4. Before using cheese from the refrigerator, allow it to come to room temperature.

Moving forward, even if The Motley Monk violates the first rule--which he is likely to do--he's going to implement the second rule, which makes eminent sense. The idea to keep in mind is that cheese is a "living" not a "dead" entity and requires some breathing room if its texture and flavors are to be prolonged for an additional period of time beyond one week.

And, something the folks over at Epicurious don't mention because they assume no one would ever consider this: Don't use "shakey cheese," as Rocki Della calls it. Easy, yes. Engineered to taste right, yes. But, you might as well be pouring flavored, shaved plastic on top of the entree.

Let the discussion begin...

To read the expert advice offered by the folks over at Epicurious, click on the following link:

To check out The Motley Monk's recipes, click on the following link:
This isn’t “news” in the sense that the narrative has been developing for at least the past decade. But, it is “news” in the sense that a one-time environmental activist—a co-founder of and driving force behind Greenpeace—is skeptical that humans are the main cause of climate change and that it will prove catastrophic in the near future.

Yes, it is true that Dr. Patrick Moore said in a speech—“Why I am a Climate Change Skeptic”—to the International Conference on Climate Change last July:

     My skepticism begins with the believers’ certainty they can predict the

     global climate with a computer model. The entire basis for the doomsday
     climate change scenario is the hypothesis increased atmospheric carbon
     dioxide due to fossil fuel emissions will heat the Earth to unlivable

     In fact, the Earth has been warming very gradually for 300 years, since

     the Little Ice Age ended, long before heavy use of fossil fuels. Prior to
     the Little Ice Age, during the Medieval Warm Period, Vikings colonized
     Greenland and Newfoundland, when it was warmer there than today.
     And during Roman times, it was warmer, long before fossil fuels
     revolutionized civilization.

     The idea it would be catastrophic if carbon dioxide were to increase 
     average global temperature were to rise a few degrees is preposterous.

In short, Dr. Moore now holds the position of sane environmentalists
—like The Motley Monk--who believe it is a moral imperative to “care” for the biosphere but, at the same time, hold there is no scientific proof of the carbon dioxide hypothesis touted by those who worship at the altar of environmentalism.
The debate is not over and the science is not settled, despite what those who worship at the altar of environmentalism and their stormy petrels—including AlGore and President Obama—state magisterially. Their dogma—that carbon dioxide is a “toxic” “pollutant” that must be curtailed—flies in the face of fact. What is that fact? Dr. Moore notes that carbon dioxide is “a colorless, odorless, tasteless, gas and the most important food for life on earth. Without carbon dioxide above 150 parts per million, all plants would die.”

Dr. Moore’s solution?

     I say the Earth would be a lot deader with no carbon dioxide [the goal

     of those who worship at the altar of evironmentalism], and more of it
     will be a very positive factor in feeding the world. Let’s celebrate
     carbon dioxide.

Those who worship at the altar of environmentalism are increasingly sounding like alchemists.

Let the discussion begin…

To read Dr. Moore’s address “Why I am a Climate Change Skeptic,” click on the following link:

Back in 2010, the Chief of the nation’s Food Police, First Lady Michelle Obama, championed passage of the “Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.” Even conservatives supported the act. After all, what politician wants an opponent running election cycle ads depicting him or her as voting against healthy, hunger-free kids?
As it ends up, however, this law is very much like Obamacare, of which then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously said, “We have to pass the bill in order to find out what’s in it.”
Wasn’t that the truth?

Now that people know some of what’s in Obamacare, the majority would like Obamacare repealed or replaced.

Now, onto the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act…

Most conservatives in the commentating class, including The Motley Monk, have directed their attention to the law’s new standards regarding school lunches. What they’ve been overlooking, however, is how the law has delegated to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) bureaucrats sweeping authority to make determinations about what constitutes “healthy” and “hunger-free” kids.

Thus it was last Friday that the USDA quitely published a notice in the Federal Register that those USDA bureaucrats hoped would pass beneath the radar. In this context, “notice” means “pay attention because we’re about to pull a fast one over the stupid public.” (Hat-tip to Jonathan Gruber.) 

Guess what those USDA bureaucrats are now proposing? A data collection scheme that will inquire into the “nutritional quality of foods offered, physical activity, sedentary activity, and barriers to” healthy food and exercise in childcare facilities and family daycare homes.

And that’s not all. The USDA also wants to weigh and measure the height of the children in those facilities.

While the notice states “Children will be asked to cooperate with study staff who will weigh and measure them for the Standing Height and Weight Form,” more important is all of what’s going to be involved in this scheme:
  • Sponsors will be asked to complete the Sponsor Pre-visit Cost Survey, the Sponsor Pre-visit Cost Form, and the Sponsor Cost Interview.
  • Directors will be asked to complete the Provider Web Survey, the Center Director Pre-visit Cost Survey, the Center Director Cost Interview, and the Overhead & Equipment Cost Worksheet.
  • Food preparers will be asked to complete the Menu Survey, the Reference Portion Measurement Form, the Table Waste Observation Form, and the Food Preparer Cost Interview.
  • Provider staff will be asked to complete the Infant Food Intake Form.
  • Children will be asked to cooperate with study staff who will weigh and measure them for the Standing Height and Weight Form.
  • Parents will be asked to complete a Parent Interview and the Child Food Diary for a childcare day, a non-childcare day, and a subsample will be asked to complete a third diary which could be either a childcare day or a non-childcare day.
  • All respondents will be asked to respond to or complete each instrument only once with the exception of parents who will be asked to complete a Child Food Diary on 2-3 days.

Talk about the federal government extending its intrusive arm into public education! Now USDA bureaucrats are seeking to extend that intrusive arm into daycare facilities that participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which provides federal funding for meals and snacks. The will be interrogating the people working in those business from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy.

The phrase “will be asked” certainly sounds benign enough. But, should those who are being asked decide not  to fork over the data (pardon the pun), the USDA bureaucrats can threaten to turn off the spigot of federal dollars, implicitly threatening the survival of those businesses.

People may be thinking, “Oh, it’s just a silly survey. Stop being paranoid, Motley Monk. The government has no interest other than gathering data about how many kids are unhealthy and starving.”

Perhaps. But, just what is the USDA going to do with those findings? Demand that those who own those businesses feed pre-school children as the government demands? slim those children down to meet government standards? force those children to exercise according to the government diktats?

Look at all of those bright and happy faces in a Soviet elementary school. No "chubby size" among 'em.
What is the federal government becoming? A bureaucratic parent reminiscent of the Soviet Union?

Let the discussion begin…

To read the USDA notice, click on the following link:

To read about the CACFP program, click on the following link:

This is a meal for those guys (and gals!) who like their meat. Inspired by a Brazilian meathouse, The Motley Monk formulated his version of Brazilian baby-back beef ribs. They're easy to make and the flavors are very good. Served with coleslaw or rice, these ribs will satisfy any carnivore's hankering for meat...and malbec, too.

Check it out:

To access all of The Motley Monk's recipes, click on the following link: