Saturday, June 24, 2006
Friday, June 23, 2006
by David Korten
The author is right in so far as he is talking about moral choices that have to be made; I don't agree with his analysis of human history or human goods--he appears to be a secularist who denies that there are goods transcending the physical universe, and perhaps a pro-Enlightenment globalist...
June 23, 2006
Our Black Future By JEFF GOODELL
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
NOT long ago, I stood at the bottom of a strip mine in Wyoming and looked up at a 70-foot-high seam of coal. It had a brownish cast and crumbled when I touched it. I could see bits of woody fiber, the remains of a huge swamp that existed there 50 million years ago. I imagined this great coal seam rolling under the prairie for hundreds of miles. "We're the OPEC of coal," the head of a coal industry trade group told me later.
Now that the need for greater energy independence has become a universal political slogan, every county commissioner in America has an idea of how we can break free of our Middle Eastern oil shackles: ethanol, hydrogen, solar panels on the roof of every Hummer! Still, it's hard not to be optimistic when you're standing in front of a 70-foot seam of coal. It's not hype; it's real. Is the bridge to energy independence paved in black?
During World War II, the Nazis, who were desperate to find a way to power their tanks with coal, pursued technology to transform coal into liquid fuels. In South Africa today, one energy company, Sasol, produces about 150,000 barrels a day of diesel from coal.
We could do far better in the United States. According to a recent report by the National Coal Council, an advisory board to the Department of Energy that is dominated by coal executives, if America invested $211 billion in coal-to-liquids refineries over the next 20 years, we could make 2.6 million barrels of diesel per day, enhancing the American oil supply by 10 percent. A number of coal-to-liquids plants are on the drawing boards in the United States, and China is eagerly pursuing this technology too.
Put aside the question of whether raising fuel efficiency standards for vehicles could achieve the same goal at far less cost. Instead, let's consider the wisdom of substituting one fossil fuel for another. We already burn a billion tons of coal a year — it generates more than half the electricity in the United States. But thanks in part to ever bigger, more powerful equipment, mining is destroying vast swaths of Appalachia while providing fewer well-paying jobs.
From 1984 to 2004, the average coal miner's per-shift productivity more than doubled, while wages declined by 20 percent (adjusted for inflation). If we simply increase consumption, we will be condemning large areas of the country, including eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia, to national sacrifice zones. In addition, coal-to-liquids plants consume enormous quantities of water — three barrels, on average, for every barrel of fuel produced. In many places, especially the coal-rich but water-poor Western prairies, this is not a good deal.
Then there's global warming. To avoid dangerous climate change, many scientists argue that we must cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent to 70 percent by 2050. Coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, is responsible for nearly 40 percent of American emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. Since 1990, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel power plants have increased by 27 percent, compared to 19 percent from all sources nationally. Coal-to-liquids plants will only accelerate this trend. Depending on the technology used, refining coal can release 50 percent to 100 percent more carbon dioxide than refining petroleum.
In theory, carbon dioxide can be captured and sequestered underground in tapped-out oil fields or deep saline aquifers. But this method will work only in regions where the geology is suitable, and even there, good sequestration space is limited. Moreover, injecting carbon dioxide underground can set off earthquakes. And the gas is an asphyxiant: we risk deadly accidents should the millions of tons we would need to bury escape their underground prisons. In 1986, at Lake Nyos in Cameroon, 300,000 tons of naturally occurring carbon dioxide that had been trapped in the lake suddenly rose to the surface and formed a misty cloud, suffocating 1,700 people.
Coal-to-liquids plants might make sense for generating back-up fuel for the military. And there are certainly ways coal can play a role in reducing the demand for oil without destroying the climate. Instead of building coal-to-liquids plants, it would be smarter to push for the development of plug-in hybrid cars, which have larger batteries than conventional hybrids, allowing them to replace gasoline with grid-generated electricity and to emit 65 percent less carbon dioxide than conventional cars. But coal boosters are less interested in promoting this path, in part because it would undercut the industry's goal of becoming "the OPEC of coal." The very phrase suggests the industry's monopolistic impulses.
The biggest problem with our bounty of coal is not what it does to our mountains or the atmosphere, but what it does to our minds. It preserves the illusion that we don't have to change our lives. Given the profound challenges we face with the end of cheap oil and the arrival of global warming, this is a dangerous fantasy.
If we had less coal, we might replace the 19th-century notion that we can drill and burn our way to prosperity with a more modern view of efficiency and sustainability. Instead of spending billions of dollars each year to subsidize tapping out yet another finite resource, we'd pour that money into solar energy, biofuels and other renewable resources.
We'd be creating jobs in new industries, not protecting them in old ones. And we'd understand that the real fuel of the future is not coal but creativity.
Jeff Goodell is the author of "Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future."
Not sure if it is inspired by Romano Amerio, though he is cited on the website, or if it is in communion or partaking of a schismatic spirit. (In spanish) Sarge says it's schismatic. Amerio's last book, published after his death, is titled Stat Veritas. It's a sequel to Iota Unum.
S. Magister's article on Romano Amerio. Another article, "The End of a Taboo."
Enrico Maria Radaelli's webpage for Amerio, at Aurea Domus.
Una Vox website.
When Romance Meets Destiny has the look and feel of romantic dramas/comedies of a bygone era... Ok, 'bygone era' might be an exaggeration, since the age of up-and-coming Korean cinema that just preceded Korean wave and the miainstreaming of Korean film was less than a decade ago.
Unfortunately Korean film has followed the trend towards greater tolerance of contemporary (i.e. unchaste) sexual mores, if not outright approval.
Kwang-shik is the older brother, shy and quiet. He has not forgotten his crush from his university days, Ko Yoon-kyung, and actually meets her again at the wedding of a classmate, for which he is serving as the photographer. This classmate is the same guy who beat Kwang-shik to making a 'confession' to Yoon-kyung first; hence he ended up with Yoon-kyung, not Kwangshik. While it is obvious that Kwangshik has liked Yoon-kyung for a very long time, as the movie progresses we become aware that the attraction was mutual.
Kwang-tae is the younger brother who has a group of rather dissolute friends interested only in drinking and having casual sex with women and getting rid of them when they tire of them. He and his friends have an arrangement--they will use their coffee cards as a means of knowing when to drop the woman with whom they are having sex. Each time they have sex with the woman, they will get a coffee and a card stamp. When the card has been filled up with 8 stamps (and there is a reward of a free coffee), they'll 'break-up' with the woman. Unfortunately, one of his friends also works for Kwang-shik (who runs a photography business), and he ends up dating Yoon-kyung after Kwang-tae misdelivers Koon-kyung's Valentine's gift to him instead of Kwang-shik (for whom the present was actually intended, as Yoon-kyung actually has feelings towards him).
So Kwang-shik's 'hopes' are frustrated because of Kwang-tae's drunken mistake. Of course I can sympathize with a man like that, who is pusillanimous and unable to take the intiative when it comes to chasing the woman he is interested in. This is a lesson that Kwang-shik has to learn, and the movie does an ok job with it, even if he does not end up with Yoon-kyung. (And yes I was thinking it would be nice if they ended up together at the end; after all the movie poster gave that impression.)
However, it is clear from the fact that Kwang-tae's friend gets a stamp that he has had relations with Yoon-kyung. Are we expected to believe that this woman, who is attracted to Kwang-shik, would have sex so easily with someone else? Perhaps it was also implied in her previous relationship with Kwang-shik's classmate. It is understandable that she would marry someone else, because she got tired of waiting for Kwang-shik. But to engage in fornication? Where exactly is the character's sense of self-worth? The film would have done better to investigate this aspect of a woman's psychology in a realistic manner, but it couldn't, since it was focused on the two brothers.
Then there is the possible audacity of the script-writer to bring God into the story -- it affirms that God brings people together, and that if He really wants them to be together, it will happen, and He will give clear signs of this. I agree with the point that God brings people together, but the story blurs the distinction between God's absolute will and His permissive will. While God may intend for two people to meet and get married, they themselves can frustrate this, and He will not take away human freedom. If Kwang-shik is supposed to end up with the other woman, and the film even arranges their fortuitous meeting, should the same be said also for Yoon-kyung and her husband? Or does God only favor certain people?
Kwang-tae the dog does meet a woman during a marathon; he exemplifies the lifestyle of casual sex. While she enjoys watching movies and binding books, he's only there for the physical benefits. Of course, she eventually gets tired of this and breaks up with him. Kwang-tae realizes how jealous he is that she might be sleeping with someone else, and how much he misses her, and he begins watching her favorite movies. He meets up with her again, at the end of the movie, after a period of time, and it seems that this time, things will go right.
Now is one expected to believe that emotional dependence and physical attraction are the same as virtuous love? Or that someone who has Kwang-tae's vices will turn into a 'good guy' who knows what commitment and marriage are about? Or is Kwang-tae merely going to stumble along the second time around, shacking up with his girlfriend but not marrying her until he feels 'comfortable' or 'ready'? I didn't buy it when it happened in Untold Scandal (the Korean version of Dangerous Liasons); I didn't buy it this time around.
In the end, it seems like fornication is a morally neutral act, and that repeated acts have no consequences on character, and by implication, on the relationship. While the movie may be clear that Kwang-tae, before his 'conversion,' didn't deserve to be in a relationship since he was using women for sex, it seems to be affirming that sex outside of marriage is ok, so long as 'true love' exists between the two people. I'm just tired of this line, whether it be in an online forum (like Soompi) or in real life. That people think this is an acceptable philosophy of life only shows how lost society has become.
One does get the impression that Yoon-kyung doesn't really 'love' her husband, or that she isn't really 'happy' with the outcome. So when will we get a movie with a female protagonistic venting about how unfair life is because she's done what she can to satisfy the wishes of a man, and yet cannot hold on to one, even though she herself made poor decisions and is partly to blame?
Even if the movie retained the conclusion to the Kwang-shi/Yoong-kyung story, it could have been good--but instead we have a disappointing piece that supports contemporary sexual practices and thinking about relationships.
Lee Yo-won, who plays Ko Yoon-kyung, is interesting; forgotten she was in Surprise Party, she is not as popular as other actresses.
For the most part, Korean TV dramas have been more conservative, though there are plots involving infidelity and premarital sex--but as far as I know nothing that comes close to condoning a hedonistic lifestyle.
A reminder to myself to get the bibliographical information from this thread.
Turns out there is a schedule of early music events for New England. This month's.
My brother-in-law's grandmother passed away this week. Please keep her in your prayers. Thanks!
Hrm, I guess I won't be talking to the niece any more on the phone, she likes listening too much haha...
Interview with the author, Eric Brende.
The author was fortunate enough to find a wife who was willing to try out the experiment with him--how many American women (or women in countries with 'industrial' and 'post-industrial' economies) would be willing to make the same sacrifices?
Interview With Director of the Apostleship of Prayer in Italy
ROME, JUNE 22, 2006 (Zenit.org).- This Friday's feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's encyclical "Haurietis Aquas," on this devotion.
Benedict XVI has written a letter for this occasion to Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, superior general of the Jesuits.
In this interview with ZENIT, Father Massimo Taggi, national director of the Apostleship of Prayer in Italy, talks about devotion to the Sacred Heart as an effective means to counteract secularization.
Q: What is the meaning and importance today of devotion to the Sacred Heart?
Father Taggi: In a world that, on one hand, is characterized by marvelous positive aspects, both at the scientific as well as the technical, cultural and social level, with a strong desire for justice, peace and solidarity, but which, on the other hand, seems terribly ambiguous and confused, in a crisis of values, essentially materialistic, devotion to the Sacred Heart offers a fundamental indication to capture the true image of God and the profound meaning of life.
If what a French thinker says, wonderfully, that "the quality of life depends on the quality of sentiments," a return to the heart -- understood in the biblical sense, as a person's center, where thoughts, decisions and sentiments find their existential point of synthesis -- and specifically to the Heart of Jesus, Word incarnate, is the royal road to "draw with joy the waters from the sources of salvation."
As the Holy Father Benedict XVI says in the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est": "Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift. Certainly, as the Lord tells us, one can become a source from which rivers of living water flow. Yet to become such a source, one must constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God."
Q: Why has this devotion been lost over the past 30 years?
Father Taggi: It hasn't really been lost altogether. Even in the post-conciliar period, devotion to the Sacred Heart continued to exist, especially at the level of popular religiosity and in very widespread devotional practices, such as the daily offering prayer, promoted by the Apostleship of Prayer, hours of adoration on the first Friday of the month, etc.
At the same time, it is true that it has been questioned and marginalized by the quite well founded criticism of falling prey to "devotionism," or with the assumption, much less founded, that after the Second Vatican Council there was no room for such things.
The real reason for the crisis is that it was not understood that it is not a question of an optional, minor devotion, but of a spirituality, a devotion whose foundation, as the Holy Father Benedict XVI has written in his message to Father Kolvenbach on May 15, is as old as Christianity itself.
Q: Why and in what way will the 50th anniversary of Pius XII's encyclical "Haurietis Aquas" be observed?
Father Taggi: We have decided to hold a national congress of the Apostleship of Prayer, for the 50th anniversary of "Haurietis Aquas" for two reasons: because that encyclical was an important document, which addressed in a complete and profound way the subject of devotion to the Heart of Jesus, taking into consideration the objections that were already arising and giving them an authoritative answer; and because we are convinced that today's world is in great need of discovering that God is love, that affectivity and not sentimentalism, is an essential component of an authentic relationship with God in Jesus Christ; that an attitude of mercy, accepted and given, is the foundation of authentic peace at all levels, from the family to interethnic and international relations, as clearly seen in the teachings of John Paul II and now of Benedict XVI.
The Apostleship of Prayer was born in Vals, near Le Puy, in France, on December 3, 1844, at the initiative of Jesuit Father Xavier Gautrelet.
The activity began as a proposal of spiritual life for a group of seminarians of the Society of Jesus, and it spread immediately, like an oil stain, to the different strata of the Church.
This development was given great impetus by another Jesuit, Father Henry Ramiere, so much so that at the end of the 19th century there were, both in and outside of Europe, 35,000 local centers -- parishes and religious institutes -- with over 13 million registered devotees worldwide.
It was very soon introduced in Italy by the Barnabites. In Naples, specifically, it was widespread through the work of Blessed Caterina Volpicelli.
The charism of the Apostleship of Prayer may be defined as living "baptism consciously and actively, especially the common priesthood which is proper to all the baptized."
It is lived through the daily offering of all one's personal experience, in union with the Eucharistic sacrifice of Jesus and for the special intentions that the Pope indicates every month at the universal level; the spirit of reparation, which is translated also in concrete actions at the social level; and with acts of consecration -- personal, of the family, etc. -- to the Heart of Jesus, as a specific expression of baptismal consecration.
In regard to followers, recent and reliable estimates indicate at least 50 million people in all the continents follow the Apostleship of Prayer.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Saint John Fisher:
Thomas More Studies
motu proprio of John Paul II declaring St. Thomas patron of politicians and statesman
St. Thomas is one of my favorite saints, and the ideal Renaissance man, learned, cultivated, and a statesman. He also spent time in a Carthusian monastery when he was growing up.
While I enjoy the movie and play A Man for All Seasons, one wonders if it does justice to the faith and wit of the man. I used to think that the play did show what quiet sanctity is like, but still, perhaps showing more devotion would be good.
The Life of St. Thomas More by William Roper (St. Thomas's son-in-law, married to his daughter Margaret)
Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage by Gerard Wegemer
His The Sadness of Christ, Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, and The Four Last Things are available through Scepter.
From Thomas More Studies:
The Family of Sir Thomas More, c. 1530, 1593,
painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, Rowland Lockey.
Hangs at Nostell Priory, The National Trust Photographic Library.
This stipple engraving by Florentine Francesco Bartolozzi (c. 1792) was used in Singer's 1822 edition of William Roper's Life of Thomas More. Photograph by Bea Chityl.
(Seems rather good-looking)
Online editions of Utopia -- at apostles.com, oregonstate.edu.
From Richard Owen of The Times in Rome
Pope Benedict XVI carried out a long-awaited reshuffle of his top team at the Vatican today, naming Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Archbishop of Genoa, as Secretary of State — in effect, the Pope’s deputy.
Cardinal Bertone, 71, led the Vatican campaign last year against Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, saying that it propagated "a sackful of heretical lies" about the history of Christianity and would mislead the gullible.
His campaign was taken up recently by other senior cardinals when the film of the book was released, despite the risk that this would only give The Da Vinci Code more publicity.
The reshuffle had been expected for weeks, but was reportedly held up because of behind-the-scenes doubts among some Vatican liberals over Cardinal Bertone’s reputation as a doctrinal hardliner.
The cardinal will take over from Cardinal Angelo Sodano in September. By coincidence both men are from the northern Italian region of Piedmont. The Secretary of State is the Vatican’s prime minister and also oversees its diplomatic relations.
Before going to Genoa, Cardinal Bertone was for seven years second in command to the current Pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the successor to the Inquisition, which enforces doctrinal orthodoxy and excommunicates dissident Catholics.
Critics said that putting a Ratzinger-Bertone alliance at the top of the Vatican hierarchy meant that the Church would be in the hands of "arch-conservatives" at a time when many Catholics, especially in the Third World, are calling for reform.
'boohoo' -- of course many of the orthodox faithful hope that this will be the beginning of authentic reform, not the end of it. What the critics want are changes to the essential teachings of Christianity, not growth in holiness by following Christ. Let us wait and see what else happens this Summer.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Crunchy conservatism, according to Dreher, is "about returning to tradition…[in order] to reclaim a life that's richer, more satisfying, more grounded, more sustainable, more meaningful and…more authentically joyful than what mainstream American life offers." The problem with this definition and goal—the problem for all traditionalist conservatives—is tradition's infinite forms. To which tradition(s) should we return? The obvious conservative answer is "ours." Here, American traditionalists bump into the unsettling fact that our tradition was born of revolution; confounding their dilemma, it was a revolution based on abstract principles that are incompatible with many, albeit certainly not all, traditions.
Exactly to what tradition is Jeffrey appealing to? The (modern) Western liberal tradition? It's certainly not the same as the Christian tradition, to which Dreher owes his primary allegiance, and it is this divergence which is reflected in the division between crunchy cons from other kinds of conservatives (though not from paleoconservatives).
One suspects that if he would read more about our tradition—and given his concerns, where better to begin than the speeches of Calvin Coolidge (who spent his spare time translating Dante and Cicero into English; as Dreher might say, "How crunchy con is that!")—he would discover that Western civilization and America are not so indefensible; that we have come through times as difficult as these before; that what it takes is more and better politics, not less; and that the key is education, which is what makes a writer more than a writer, and his books worthwhile.The tradition of the elites and of those who aspire to be the elites, perhaps, but not everyone's tradition, and if this is what Jeffrey means by Western or American tradition, then perhaps it should be rejected in favor of the Faith. But we should know that this isn't the only Western tradition, and Plato and Aristotle, much less the Catholic Faith, cannot be so easily assimilated into liberalism. More and better politics? What is required is what has always been required--conversion to God, not politics as practiced by the elites, the rich, and those holding power in this economy.
The hellmouth was a convenient plot device, giving Buffy the opportunity to defeat the monster of the week and carry the story along. But with the Doctor this structure is in danger of being overused--there have been very few human villains (this season the only one who stands out is the human creator of the Cybermen in the alternate universe -- see episodes 5 and 6). Even if there were monsters of the week in the old series, at least the story was more developed over 4 episodes (ideally) and not forced to fit within 50 minutes. I enjoyed the political stories with the Time Lords, but they've been killed off, and it's not clear that they will return. (With Romana becoming Lord President in her own Big Finish audio series, fans may be better off listening to the radio programs.)
Also, a related complaint: too much paranormal/fanatasy/horror plots means not enough science fiction... not enough evil aliens whom we can respect. Will they bring back the Master? Who knows.
Episodes 8-9 dealt with an entity that could be the Devil, although it was deliberately left 'ambiguous,' because no self-respecting secular science-fiction show could admit the existence of the Devil. Here the entity is a spirit inhabiting a body, which is contrary to the orthodox understanding of angels. While the spirit can leave the body and inhabit another, the body stays alive and must be kept alive; otherwise the spirit may die as well. Who can take that kind of evil seriously? All the 'devil' does is manipulate their fears--there's no temptation to sin, to rebel against God. How does the Doctor encourage the humans to deal with the Devil-alien? Not to turn to God, but to depend upon themselves and their intelligence to defeat him. God plays no role whatsoever in the episode, so the Devil has already won in real life, if not in this fictional story.
Apparently there are at least 2 Big Finish audio series dealing with early Christianity, and neither portray orthodoxy in a positive light--it appears to be a Dan Brown-like or Gnostic-revisionistic take on history. Someone should have read a decent volume on Church History, or J. Pelikan's work.
There has been a strong emphasis on secular humanism that I think was absent in the old series. While the Doctor is the protector of Earth and of the human race, he admires human beings for their inquisitive spirit, as if this is what sets them apart from ever other single sentient species in the universe. One gets this in Star Trek as well--it is the humans who wish to explore the universe and discover--"to seek out new life and civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before"-- the Vulcans are content with being at home, the Klingons just want to drink and fight, and the Romulans want to conquer. One waits for the "humans are the next big thing" motif to pop up as well (the motif is taken to an extreme in Babylon 5, but shows up in Star Trek as well). Most of science fiction is tied to secular humanism and an exaggerated confidence in human progress and technology, and often there is a link between the two--with better technology, suffering and poverty will be eliminated, and with that sin.
Never mind that the Star Trek anthropology is rather inconsistent, relying upon a flawed definition of emotion that covers both the movement of the sensitive and the rational appetites.
And of course sci-fi reality is premised upon unlimited energy resources, for the most part...
There is also the denigration of the ordinary in episode 10--Elton Pope recalls that adults tell children "to grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid and that's it " but responds, "the truth is the world is so much stranger than that, so much darker, and so much matter(?), and so much better." Is such an ordinary life meaningless? If it doesn't lead to pleasure or novelty, or if everything is ordered only to the self, and nothing beyond. This is the consequence of original sin on art--a failure to recognize that meaning is rooted in God.
One might argue that anything escapist might involve a denigration of the ordinary. But the depiction of heroic virtue, whether it be manifested in ordinary or extraordinary circumstances affirms the place of the ordinary--it's not the same as the pov of the degraded soul who finds everything trivial because it has ceased to please him.
We'll see how Billie Piper's departure from the series will be handled. (And she's supposed to be in the adaptation of Mansfield Park.)
(Hmm... something about The New Voyages, fan attempt to resurrect TOS, with different actors playing the classic roles. The actual website.)
SEOUL, South Korea, JUNE 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Seoul Archdiocese recognizes in the Charismatic Renewal a factor in the rebirth and reinforcement of the faith in Korean Catholics.
This evaluation emerged from a survey undertaken by the Seoul Diocesan Pastoral Research Center among 2,800 people directly involved in experience of communities of Charismatic Renewal, half of them in the archdiocese.
Asked about the benefit received, 43.8% of those interviewed said they had experienced "spiritual growth"; 19.3% spoke of "faith rebuilt" through the experience of the Holy Spirit; 12.2% found in prayer solutions to family problems; and 8.3% reported inward healing.
Many of the lay Catholics said priests would benefit from experiencing Charismatic Renewal because the experience leads to a deeper living of the Christian life, more frequent reading of Scripture, and more desire to share the joy of the faith.
South Korea's 48 million inhabitants include about 4 million Catholics.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
A somewhat entertaining fan film, I suppose--I don't plan on going to TheForce.net any time soon, but I wonder, are these real seminarians for St. Louis? It seems to me that they might need to grow up a little... they don't have, shall we say, the gravitas needed yet...
Iraqi: Soldiers killed in 'barbaric way'
By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press
Writer 26 minutes ago
BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. forces on Tuesday recovered the bodies of two American soldiers reported captured by insurgents last week.
An Iraqi defense ministry official said the men were tortured and "killed in a barbaric way." Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for killing the soldiers, and said the successor to terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had "slaughtered" them.
The claim was made in a Web statement that could not be authenticated. The language in the statement suggested the men were beheaded. U.S. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said the remains were believed to be those of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore.
He said U.S. troops — part of a search involving some 8,000
American and Iraqi forces — found the bodies late Monday near Youssifiyah, where they disappeared Friday.
Troops did not recover the bodies until Tuesday because they had to wait until daylight to cordon off the area for an ordnance team for fear it was booby-trapped, Caldwell said.
The checkpoint attacked Friday was in the Sunni Arab region known as the "Triangle of Death" because of frequent ambushes there of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi troops. Caldwell said troops encountered a lot of roadside bombs and other explosives during the three-day search, including in the area where the bodies were found.
The cause of death was "undeterminable at this point," and the two bodies will be taken back to the United States for DNA tests to confirm the identities, Caldwell said.
The two soldiers disappeared after an insurgent attack Friday at a checkpoint by a Euphrates River canal, 12 miles south of Baghdad.
Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass., was killed. The three men were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Ky.
The director of the Iraqi defense ministry's operation room, Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Mohammed, said the bodies showed signs of having been tortured. "With great regret, they were killed in a barbaric way," he said.
The claim of responsibility was made in the name of the Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of five insurgent groups led by al-Qaida in Iraq. The group posted an Internet statement Monday claiming it was holding the American soldiers captive.
"We give the good news ... to the Islamic nation that we have carried God's verdict by slaughtering the two captured crusaders," said the claim, which appeared on an Islamic militant Web site where insurgent groups regularly post statements and videos.
"With God Almighty's blessing, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer carried out
the verdict of the Islamic court" calling for the soldiers' slaying, the
statement said. The statement said the soldiers were "slaughtered,"
suggesting that al-Muhajer beheaded them. The Arabic word used in the statement, "nahr," is used for the slaughtering of sheep by cutting the throat and has been used in past statements to refer to beheadings.
The U.S. military has identified al-Muhajer as an Egyptian associate of al-Zarqawi also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri.
The killings would be the first acts of violence attributed to al-Muhajer since he was named al-Qaida in Iraq's new leader in a June 12 Web message by the group. Al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike on
Al-Zarqawi made al-Qaida in Iraq notorious for hostage beheadings and was believed to have killed two American captives himself —
Nicholas Berg in April 2004 and Eugene Armstrong in September 2004.
Caldwell said that Iraqi and American troops involved in the search for the missing soldiers killed three suspected insurgents and detained 34 in fighting that wounded seven U.S. servicemen.
Also, just hours before the two soldiers went missing Friday, a U.S. airstrike killed a key al-Qaida in Iraq leader described as the group's "religious emir," he said.
Mansour Suleiman Mansour Khalifi al-Mashhadani, or Sheik Mansour, was killed with two foreign fighters in the same area where the soldiers' bodies were found, the U.S. spokesman said. The three were trying to flee in a vehicle.
Al-Mashhadani was "a key leader of Al Qaida in Iraq, with excellent
religious, military and leadership credentials" and tied to the senior
leadership, including al-Zarqawi and his alleged replacement, Caldwell said.
U.S. forces captured Mansour in July 2004 because of his ties to the
militant groups Ansar al-Islam and Ansar al-Sunna, but the military let him go because he was not deemed an important terror figure at the time.
A witness to the attack Friday told The Associated Press on Sunday that insurgents swarmed the checkpoint, killing the driver of a Humvee before taking two of his comrades captive.
Ahmed Khalaf Falah, a farmer, said three Humvees at the checkpoint came under fire from many directions. Two Humvees went after the
assailants but the third was ambushed.
He said seven masked gunmen, one carrying a heavy machine gun, killed the driver and took the two other U.S. soldiers captive. His account could not be verified independently.
Kidnappings of U.S. service members have been rare since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, despite the presence of about 130,000 forces.
The last U.S. soldier to be captured was Sgt. Keith M. Maupin of Batavia, Ohio, who was taken on April 9, 2004 after insurgents ambushed his fuel convoy. Two months later, a tape on Al-Jazeera purported to show a captive U.S. soldier shot, but the Army ruled it was inconclusive and remains listed as missing.
Caldwell said that in addition to the two soldiers, a dozen Americans — including Maupin and 11 private citizens — are missing in Iraq. In addition, Capt. Michael Speicher, a Navy pilot, remains listed as missing in Iraq since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, he said.
Associated Press writers Ryan Lenz in Balad,
Iraq, and Nadia Abou el-Magd in Cairo, Egypt, contributed to this report.
In this undated photo released by the U.S. Army, Pfc. Thomas Tucker is shown. A group that includes al-Qaida in Iraq claimed Monday, June 19, 2006, it had kidnapped Tucker and Army Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, who were reported missing Friday while manning a checkpoint. Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Mohammed, announced that the bodies of Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore., had been discovered on a street in Youssifiyah, just south of Baghdad. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
Maybe I'm getting old... I wasn't a great fan of the Taiwanese(?) singer Cai Qin (Tsai Chin) until a year ago or so, though I had heard her singing long ago... maybe it's just that singers today don't have much talent or skill (even if they have attractive bodies and provocative clothing), and I have had to look elsewhere--Paula Tsui, for example. My mom just says I'm like my father. *shrugs*
The article below says she was born in Hubei, but I thought she lives in Taiwan. Maybe I'm wrong about that...
Someone I knew loved her singing very much... that was 13 years ago, perhaps her tastes have changed. There was this one song that would make her cry every time she listened to it, but I haven't been able to find it on any of the compilations I have, and it seems the CD itself isn't available on YesAsia. At least I have her CD with Mandarin oldies... I could be lazy and just listen to that CD and not do anything else... (except surf or blog)
I don't have this CD... but here is a picture of Cai Qin (in a qi pao, no less).
Time to get some Sarah Chen CDs probably... she has some nice oldies from the 90s...
Cai Qin evergreen: Once upon a time
Updated: 2004-02-06 15:13
Put Cai Qin's CD into your CD player. Take a seat on your sofa and close your eyes--it is time to relax in nostalgia and listen to your voice within.
Late at night, turn out all the lights and light up some candles. Put Cai Qin's CD into your CD player. Take a seat on your sofa and close your eyes. Ok, it is time to relax in nostalgia and listen to your voice within.
In the flickering candlelight, a faintly sad atmosphere is flowing in the air. Your heart begins to melt in this lingering melody and moving lyrics. There she sings ‘such a long night, long enough for me to turn on every light. I lean on the door waiting, my beautiful vesture shining…' It can create quite a stir in your heart. Then the image of a sad, lonely while graceful woman in her splendid clothes waiting for her lover in the dim light lingers in your mind.
Cai Qin herself regards her voice as natural and powerful, but still easy and comfortable. She was born to sing, giving each song a soul by the incredible virtuosity of her voice and her unaffected emotions.
Cai Qin was born in Hubei Province. She started her singing career in 1979. Over the past 24 years, she has released over forty albums and won numerous musical awards, such as Taiwan Jinding Awards, Golden Melody Awards, HK Top 10 Chinese Golden Songs Awards, etc. Besides, she is also known as a presenter in broadcasting, a writer, a costume designer and an actress and has achieved noteworthy accomplishments in these areas.
Cai Qin attaches great emphasis on lyrics. She believes that a moving song must have moving lyrics. Lin Xi is her favorite lyrics writer because his lyrics can grasp the subtle change taking place in a split second in people's hearts, and the rhythm is attractive even without music.
Cai Qin has not changed much during the last 24 years. So it is with her music. She sticks to her own style and base line, not drifting with popular trend. However, she also improves herself constantly.Her works like ‘Just Like Your Tenderness', ‘Your Eyes', ‘Endless Love', ‘Time Forgotten', ‘Impatient Heart', ‘Stupid Words' and so on are still widely popular today.
Some other older news:
Evergreen Singer Cai Qin fulfills dream in Beijing
Cai Qin's First Melodrama to Premiere at Beijing Poly Theatre
Cai Qin: Maturing with Age
"The Spirit Blows Where He Wills. But His Will Is Unity"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 19, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave June 3, the eve of Pentecost, when he met with ecclesial movements and new communities in St. Peter's Square.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
You have come to St. Peter's Square this evening in really large numbers to take part in the Pentecost Vigil. I warmly thank you. You belong to different peoples and cultures and represent here all the members of the ecclesial movements and new communities, spiritually gathered round the Successor of Peter to proclaim the joy of believing in Jesus Christ and to renew the commitment to be faithful disciples in our time.
I thank you for your participation and address my cordial greeting to each one of you. My affectionate thoughts go in the first place to the cardinals, to my venerable brothers in the episcopate and in the priesthood and to the men and women religious.
I greet those in charge of your numerous ecclesial associations who show how alive the Holy Spirit's action is among the People of God. I greet the organizers of this extraordinary event, and especially those who work at the Pontifical Council for the Laity with Bishop Josef Clemens, the secretary, and Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, the president, to whom I am also grateful for his cordial words at the beginning of the Vespers Liturgy.
A similar meeting that took place in this same Square on May 30, 1998, with beloved Pope John Paul II springs to mind. A great evangelizer of our time, he accompanied and guided you throughout his pontificate.
He described your associations and communities on many occasions as "providential," especially because the Sanctifying Spirit makes use of them to reawaken faith in so many Christian hearts and to reveal to them the vocation they have received with baptism. He also helps them to be witnesses of hope filled with that fire of love which is bestowed upon us precisely by the Holy Spirit.
Let us ask ourselves now, at this Pentecost Vigil, who or what is the Holy Spirit? How can we recognize him? How do we go to him and how does he come to us? What does he do?
The Church's great Pentecostal hymn with which we began Vespers, "Veni, Creator Spiritus ... Come, Holy Spirit," gives us a first answer. Here the hymn refers to the first verses of the Bible that describe the creation of the universe with recourse to images.
The Bible says first of all that the Spirit of God was moving over the chaos, over the waters of the abyss.
The world in which we live is the work of the Creator Spirit. Pentecost is not only the origin of the Church and thus in a special way her feast; Pentecost is also a feast of creation. The world does not exist by itself; it is brought into being by the creative Spirit of God, by the creative Word of God.
For this reason Pentecost also mirrors God's wisdom. In its breadth and in the omni-comprehensive logic of its laws, God's wisdom permits us to glimpse something of his Creator Spirit. It elicits reverential awe.
Those very people who, as Christians, believe in the Creator Spirit become aware of the fact that we cannot use and abuse the world and matter merely as material for our actions and desires; that we must consider creation a gift that has not been given to us to be destroyed, but to become God's garden, hence, a garden for men and women.
In the face of the many forms of abuse of the earth that we see today, let us listen, as it were, to the groaning of creation of which St. Paul speaks (Romans 8:22); let us begin by understanding the Apostle's words, that creation waits with impatience for the revelation that we are children of God, to be set free from bondage and obtain his splendor.
Dear friends, we want to be these children of God for whom creation is waiting, and we can become them because the Lord has made us such in baptism. Yes, creation and history -- they are waiting for us, for men and women who are truly children of God and behave as such.
If we look at history, we see that creation prospered around monasteries, just as with the reawakening of God's Spirit in human hearts the brightness of the Creator Spirit has also been restored to the earth -- a splendor that has been clouded and at times even extinguished by the barbarity of the human mania for power.
Moreover, the same thing happened once again around Francis of Assisi -- it has happened everywhere as God's Spirit penetrates souls, this Spirit whom our hymn describes as light, love and strength.
Thus, we have discovered an initial answer to the question as to what the Holy Spirit is, what he does and how we can recognize him. He comes to meet us through creation and its beauty.
However, in the course of human history, a thick layer of dirt has covered God's good creation, which makes it difficult if not impossible to perceive in it the Creator's reflection, although the knowledge of the Creator's existence is reawakened within us ever anew, as it were, spontaneously, at the sight of a sunset over the sea, on an excursion to the mountains or before a flower that has just bloomed.
But the Creator Spirit comes to our aid. He has entered history and speaks to us in a new way. In Jesus Christ, God himself was made man and allowed us, so to speak, to cast a glance at the intimacy of God himself.
And there we see something totally unexpected: In God, an "I" and a "You" exist. The mysterious God is not infinite loneliness, he is an event of love. If by gazing at creation we think we can glimpse the Creator Spirit, God himself, rather like creative mathematics, like a force that shapes the laws of the world and their order, but then, even, also like beauty -- now we come to realize: The Creator Spirit has a heart. He is Love.
The Son who speaks to the Father exists and they are both one in the Spirit, who constitutes, so to speak, the atmosphere of giving and loving which makes them one God. This unity of love which is God, is a unity far more sublime than the unity of a last indivisible particle could be. The Triune God himself is the one and only God.
Through Jesus let us, as it were, cast a glance at God in his intimacy. John, in his Gospel, expressed it like this: "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known" (John 1:18).
Yet Jesus did not only let us see into God's intimacy; with him, God also emerged, as it were, from his intimacy and came to meet us. This happened especially in his life, passion, death and Resurrection; in his words.
Jesus, however, is not content with coming to meet us. He wants more. He wants unification. This is the meaning of the images of the banquet and the wedding.
Not only must we know something about him, but through him we must be drawn to God. For this reason he had to die and be raised, since he is now no longer to be found in any specific place, but his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, emanates from him and enters our hearts, thereby uniting us with Jesus himself and with the Father, the Triune God.
Pentecost is this: Jesus, and through him God himself, actually comes to us and draws us to himself. "He sends forth the Holy Spirit" -- this is what Scripture says. What effect does this have?
I would like first of all to pick out two aspects: The Holy Spirit, through whom God comes to us, brings us life and freedom. Let us look at both these things a little more closely.
"I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly," Jesus says in the Gospel of John (10: 10). Life and freedom: These are the things for which we all yearn. But what is this -- where and how do we find "life"?
I think that the vast majority of human beings spontaneously have the same concept of life as the Prodigal Son of the Gospel. He had his share of the patrimony given to him and then felt free; in the end, what he wanted was to live no longer burdened by the duties of home, but just to live. He wanted everything that life can offer. He wanted to enjoy it to the full -- living, only living, immersed in life's abundance, missing none of all the valuable things it can offer.
In the end he found himself caring for pigs and even envying those animals -- his life had become so empty and so useless. And his freedom was also proving useless.
When all that people want from life is to take possession of it, it becomes ever emptier and poorer; it is easy to end up seeking refuge in drugs, in the great deception. And doubts surface as to whether, in the end, life is truly a good.
No, we do not find life in this way. Jesus' words about life in abundance are found in the Good Shepherd discourse. His words are set in a double context.
Concerning the shepherd, Jesus tells us that he lays down his life. "No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord" (cf. John 10:18). It is only in giving life that it is found; life is not found by seeking to possess it. This is what we must learn from Christ; and the Holy Spirit teaches us that it is a pure gift, that it is God's gift of himself. The more one gives one's life for others, for goodness itself, the more abundantly the river of life flows.
Secondly, the Lord tells us that life unfolds in walking with the Shepherd who is familiar with the pasture -- the places where the sources of life flow.
We find life in communion with the One who is life in person -- in communion with the living God, a communion into which we are introduced by the Holy Spirit, who is called in the hymn of Vespers "fons vivus," a living source.
The pasture where the sources of life flow is the Word of God as we find it in Scripture, in the faith of the Church. The pasture is God himself who we learn to recognize in the communion of faith through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Dear friends, the movements were born precisely of the thirst for true life; they are movements for life in every sense.
Where the true source of life no longer flows, where people only appropriate life instead of giving it, wherever people are ready to dispose of unborn life because it seems to take up room in their own lives, it is there that the life of others is most at risk.
If we want to protect life, then we must above all rediscover the source of life; then life itself must re-emerge in its full beauty and sublimeness; then we must let ourselves be enlivened by the Holy Spirit, the creative source of life.
The theme of freedom has just been mentioned. The Prodigal Son's departure is linked precisely with the themes of life and freedom. He wanted life and therefore desired to be totally liberated. Being free, in this perspective, means being able to do whatever I like, not being bound to accept any criterion other than and over and above myself. It means following my own desires and my own will alone.
Those who live like this very soon clash with others who want to live the same way. The inevitable consequence of this selfish concept of freedom is violence and the mutual destruction of freedom and life.
Sacred Scripture, on the other hand, connects the concept of freedom with that of sonship. St. Paul says: "You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship, through which we cry, 'Abba! Father!'" (Romans 8:15). What does this mean?
St. Paul presupposes the social system of the ancient world in which slaves existed. They owned nothing, so they could not be involved in the proper development of things.
Co-respectively, there were sons who were also heirs and were therefore concerned with the preservation and good administration of their property or the preservation of the state. Since they were free, they also had responsibility.
Leaving aside the sociological background of that time, the principle still holds true: Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. True freedom is demonstrated in responsibility, in a way of behaving in which one takes upon oneself a shared responsibility for the world, for oneself and for others.
The son, to whom things belong and who, consequently, does not let them be destroyed, is free. All the worldly responsibilities of which we have spoken are nevertheless partial responsibilities for a specific area, a specific state, etc.
The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, makes us sons and daughters of God. He involves us in the same responsibility that God has for his world, for the whole of humanity. He teaches us to look at the world, others and ourselves with God's eyes. We do not do good as slaves who are not free to act otherwise, but we do it because we are personally responsible for the world; because we love truth and goodness, because we love God himself and therefore, also his creatures. This is the true freedom to which the Holy Spirit wants to lead us.
The ecclesial movements want to and must be schools of freedom, of this true freedom. Let us learn in them this true freedom, not the freedom of slaves that aims to cut itself a slice of the cake that belongs to everyone even if this means that some do not get any.
We want the true, great freedom, the freedom of heirs, the freedom of children of God. In this world, so full of fictitious forms of freedom that destroy the environment and the human being, let us learn true freedom by the power of the Holy Spirit; to build the school of freedom; to show others by our lives that we are free and how beautiful it is to be truly free with the true freedom of God's children.
The Holy Spirit, in giving life and freedom, also gives unity. These are three gifts that are inseparable from one another. I have already gone on too long; but let me say a brief word about unity.
To understand it, we might find a sentence useful which at first seems rather to distance us from it. Jesus said to Nicodemus, who came to him with his questions by night: "The wind blows where it wills" (John 3:8). But the Spirit's will is not arbitrary. It is the will of truth and goodness.
Therefore, he does not blow from anywhere, now from one place and then from another; his breath is not wasted but brings us together because the truth unites and love unites.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Spirit who unites the Father with the Son in Love, which in the one God he gives and receives. He unites us so closely that St. Paul once said: "You are all one in Jesus Christ" (Galatians 3:28). With his breath, the Holy Spirit impels us toward Christ. The Holy Spirit acts corporeally; he does not only act subjectively or "spiritually."
The Risen Christ said to his disciples, who supposed that they were seeing only a "spirit": "It is I myself; touch me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have" (cf. Luke 24:39).
This applies for the Risen Christ in every period of history. The Risen Christ is not a ghost, he is not merely a spirit, a thought, only an idea.
He has remained incarnate -- it is the Risen One who took on our flesh -- and always continues to build his Body, making us his Body. The Spirit breathes where he wills, and his will is unity embodied, a unity that encounters the world and transforms it.
In his Letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul tells us that this Body of Christ, which is the Church, has joints (cf. 4:16) and even names them: They are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (cf. 4:12). In his gifts, the Spirit is multifaceted -- we see it here. If we look at history, if we look at this assembly here in St. Peter's Square, then we realize that he inspires ever new gifts; we see how different are the bodies that he creates and how he works bodily ever anew.
But in him multiplicity and unity go hand in hand. He breathes where he wills. He does so unexpectedly, in unexpected places and in ways previously unheard of. And with what diversity and corporality does he do so! And it is precisely here that diversity and unity are inseparable.
He wants your diversity and he wants you for the one body, in union with the permanent orders -- the joints -- of the Church, with the successors of the apostles and with the Successor of St. Peter.
He does not lessen our efforts to learn the way of relating to one another; but he also shows us that he works with a view to the one body and in the unity of the one body. It is precisely in this way that unity obtains its strength and beauty.
May you take part in the edification of the one body! Pastors must be careful not to extinguish the Spirit (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:19) and you will not cease to bring your gifts to the entire community. Once again, the Spirit blows where he wills. But his will is unity. He leads us toward Christ through his Body.
"From Christ," St. Paul tells us, "the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and builds itself up in love" (Ephesians 4:16).
The Holy Spirit desires unity, he desires totality. Therefore, his presence is finally shown above all in missionary zeal.
Anyone who has come across something true, beautiful and good in his life -- the one true treasure, the precious pearl -- hastens to share it everywhere, in the family and at work, in all the contexts of his life.
He does so without any fear, because he knows he has received adoption as a son; without any presumption, for it is all a gift; without discouragement, for God's Spirit precedes his action in people's "hearts" and as a seed in the most diverse cultures and religions.
He does so without restraint, for he bears a piece of good news which is for all people and for all peoples.
Dear friends, I ask you to collaborate even more, very much more, in the Pope's universal apostolic ministry, opening doors to Christ.
This is the Church's best service for men and women and especially for the poor, so that the person's life, a fairer order in society and peaceful coexistence among the nations may find in Christ the cornerstone on which to build the genuine civilization, the civilization of love.
The Holy Spirit gives believers a superior vision of the world, of life, of history, and makes them custodians of the hope that never disappoints.
Let us pray to God the Father, therefore, through Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that the celebration of the solemnity of Pentecost may be like an ardent flame and a blustering wind for Christian life and for the mission of the whole Church.
I place the intentions of your movements and communities in the heart of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, present in the Upper Room together with the apostles; may she be the one who implores God to grant them.
Upon all of you I invoke an outpouring of the gifts of the Spirit, so that in our time too, we may have the experience of a renewed Pentecost. Amen!
© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]
This morning I learned about its existence, in a news story on CBS dealing with Delta Airlines and other corporations in danger of declaring bankruptcy.
PBGC is a federal corporation created by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. It currently protects the pensions of 44.1 million American workers and retirees in 30,330 private single-employer and multiemployer defined benefit pension plans. PBGC receives no funds from general tax revenues. Operations are financed by insurance premiums set by Congress and paid by sponsors of defined benefit plans, investment income, assets from pension plans trusteed by PBGC, and recoveries from the companies formerly responsible for the plans.
It receives no funds from general tax revenues? For some reason I find that the details aren't enough.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Just now on Inside Edition they featured a surgical procedure that gets rid of abdominal fat and and creates 'chiseled abs'--the results are quite gross, but there are people who want to get that look, without waiting or doing the work for them...
I was feeling a bit irritable earlier, mostly because of the weather, but riding on public transportation and going to the supermarket here in Brighton doesn't really enhance one's impression of other people...
His faculty homepage.
I had gotten him temporarily confused with Dr. Steven Snyder, over at Christendom, since they have a similar background and research interests (especially Aristotelian-Thomistic natural philosophy), plus the same first name! It would be nice to read St. Albert the Great's works one day...
Sunday, June 18, 2006
To what extent do solutions to the energy problem involve action in other, non energy, fields?
I would choose a couple of things. One is the whole issue of currencies and economics. We are in an economic system at the moment which is ingenious; it gives a lot of freedom to exchange of goods, services and so on, but underneath it is deadly. Deadly because it forces economic growth, and economic growth forces the destruction of Nature, and of us. We are on the way to becoming an endangered species if we go down that route. So we need to diversify.
One of the keys in natural phenomena is the diversity of different strategies used. We have adopted a single strategy for currency and economics and our economic system is based on and driven by that. We need to diversify our currencies. This is not something that has never been heard of before, it happens spontaneously all the time. In Argentina the economic system has collapsed, that is the conventional dollar-based system has collapsed, but they’ve put in place an alternative. They are trading and exchanging goods, and they are using their own local currencies. This is therefore a spontaneous thing to happen, it’s part of the process of localization, going local, developing appropriate local currencies, connected to useful resources, like energy, food, buildings and so on.
The other area is education. Education needs to be fundamentally transformed. I’ve been in Universities nearly all my life, and in my experience University education has now become pretty thoroughly irrelevant to the training that people need to receive in order to make the transition that we are going through. We need a new education. So what is the image of this new education process? I have jus been talking about local currencies, well education needs also to ‘go local’. Universities should serve their local communities and they should serve them with the ingenuity that comes out of this concentration of creative energy in Universities in terms of putting together new communities, developing new technologies, so that we develop what I like to think of now as something that Fritjof Capra has introduced into the dialogue here at Schumacher College, looking at the Renaissance, the period of Leonardo da Vinci, which had a workshop culture. A lot of people got their practical skills in workshops. I love this idea. If Universities and schools could become in some sense workshops, playshops, toyshops, whatever you want to call it, but where practical skills are developed for the whole person, and we don’t fragment the world of learning into specialized disciplines. We will still have specialized skills, because people will want to develop high quality abilities in different areas, but that’s up to the individual to choose, and that will give them the creativity to put things together in a new way. So those are the two things I would focus on, currency systems and the education process.
What are the problems and bottlenecks?
The economy is a major bottleneck. Without that changing I think we are going to have great difficulty going local. Another is the values that we have in society. Without a change in values, and what it is that people feels gives meaning to their lives, we are stuck in a way of life that’s a kind of, what you would call in behavioural studies, displacement activity. In other words, we get quantities of goods, of cars, of whatever it might be, in order to substitute for qualities and meaning. So there is a shift of values that needs to be achieved, and that is a kind of bottleneck, a conceptual bottleneck in the culture.
What are the skills we need to learn and the training & education we need to put in place to respond to peak oil?
At a risk of repeating myself, we need to have an education system that develops these practical skills. I can see all kinds of alternative technology systems emerging from this. We need to learn all these. We need to learn about permaculture, low maintenance, low energy, high productivity systems that are at the same time beautiful and natural. This doesn’t mean that we make a full switch to permaculture but that we diversify our agricultural systems. So in the first place, we go organic, but we also have a certain amount of farming, we use polytunnels and so on, but we intersperse that with permaculture systems, which are in come sense natural ecosystems but they are selected, to be high productivity.
We have a vision here at Schumacher: in 15 years I’d love to see Stone Pines growing here and producing pine nuts, so that this area of land now becomes beautiful, perhaps with an understory of herbs, so the whole thing is productive, low maintenance, and beautiful and it serves the college’s needs and the needs of the local community. We have the world expert in forest garden permaculture, Martin Crawford, here on the estate. So we use our land, resources and skills in a way that is appropriate to the new culture that is emerging.
Some online articles by Dr. Goodwin can be found here.
The World Cup's official commemorative gold coins are displayed in Tokyo June 8, 2006. The golden coin, which comes in four designs, will go on sale on June 12 in Japan for a price of 262,500 yen ($2,305), Japanese coin distributor Taisei Coins said. WORLD CUP 2006 PREVIEW REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao (JAPAN)
This artist rendering provided by the U.S. Mint shows the front, left, and back of the proposed golden buffalo coin. The U.S. Mint has said it will begin producing a new 24-karat gold bullion coin early in 2007, hoping to capitalize on growing international demand for purer gold coins. It will mark the first time the U.S. Mint has produced a 24-karat gold coin. The coin will be slightly larger and thicker than a Kennedy half dollar, will contain one ounce of gold and will be designated a $50 gold piece. The actual price will depend on the market price of an ounce of gold, plus markups. (AP Photo/US Mint)
Hrm, increasing demand for purer gold coins... signs of the times?
A member of the U.S. military is seen through the smashed window of a nearby vehicle after a car bomb exploded near a university killing one woman and wounding 19 other people in the northern city of Mosul in Iraq Sunday, June 18, 2006. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ibrahim)