Saturday, September 02, 2006

Uri Avnery: When Napoleon won at Waterloo

In Israel, Nothing Changes But the Past
When Napoleon Won at Waterloo

By URI AVNERY

Wow.

Dr. Tom Morris apparently responded to this post.

I originally wrote:
"Is it elitist to think that wisdom is not susceptible to being marketed to the masses? Or that it is futile for one to pursue wisdom without an authentic moral conversion?"

He responded:

Maybe it's not elitist to think that wisdom can't be marketed to the masses, just overly pessimistic. Marketing is an interesting phenomenon. Those who are responsive will take the information the marketing has provided and do something with it. Those who are not will not. What's lost? There are lots of people who want more wisdom in their lives and don't know where to find it, which is why so many sham counterfeit purveyors of wisdom can make so much money with their false and superficially hyperbolic promises. But when the real truth is made available, through "marketing" or whatever means, those who hunger and thirst for the real thing will take action.

I've seen it work for over 20 years.

Tom Morris
Author of If Harry Potter Ran General Electric, If Aristotle Ran General Motors, Philosophy for Dummies, The Art of Achievement, The Stoic Art of Living, True Success, and lots of other stuff.
I have no idea how Dr. Morris found this inconsequential blog. Thank you for your response!

I suppose one should distinguish between speculative wisdom and moral/practical wisdom--it might be easier to lead someone to the beginnings of speculative wisdom, despite their having a moral state, but if God is a problem for that person, it seems to me that proving God's existence to that person will require more than good reasoning. With respect to practical/wisdom--one can lead them to the beginnings of phronesis/prudence, if they have the beginnings of virtue, in general, and do not have a corrupt character or mind. So, one does what can to bring the truth to others.

Perhaps it is pessimistic; but as a Catholic Christian I wonder if taking a purely "natural" approach [relying on the "natural law" as the primary means of witness] is enough, or if, as some Orthodox seem to suggest, that one should take Christ as the center of everything, and begin with Christ. That is to say, one should not only have a solid spiritual life grounded in Christ, but one should start with Christ, and not with naturally knowable morality.

Which reminds me... Dr. Pakaluk has asked whether Aristotle, when he differentiates between persuasive arguments from a rhetorician and a mathematician's demonstrations, is elitist or egalitarian. Then he discusses Richard Kraut's position on the question.

Bad day to go shopping

It was a bad day to go grocery shopping--first, the roads were packed because people are still moving. Also, there was a Red Sox game, so there were many making use of public transportation to get to the ball park. But it wasn't too bad, the bus ride, though I was starting to feel a bit sick as we got closer to Kenmore. Off to Bombay Cafe for buffet lunch. The nan there is average; often it is burned, but for the price ($6.75) I'm willing to put up with it. (I have a feeling they recycle tandoori chicken by using it to make the chicken dish with the red sauce? It's not exactly a tomato sauce but perhaps it is; maybe KK knows what it is.) The salad today consisted mostly of lettuce, which was a surprise--but I found raw lettuce to be surprisingly good. Better than cole slaw, practically. (Although I did add spicy chutney? sauce on top of the salad.)

Virgin Megastore
After lunch I went over to Virgin to see what was there. That place is rather dirty, for various reasons. One reason is that it is next to the Kenmore T station. The bathroom is out of service--permanently? I wouldn't be surprised if the bathrooms were being used a lot but not kept in good shape. While a Virgin megastore has some advantages, this one... I wonder how clean the headphones are in the store. I'm sure a germophobe would have much to worry about. I even started to think the magazines, books, graphic novels might be contaminated...

Trance is still on the second floor; they were playing some video showcasing clubs and parties from all over the world. Trance is just too... sensual... although I can't think of too many contemporary music/dance genres for which that description would not fit. Alas, what would Plato and Aristotle say if they stepped into a trance club.

There were plenty of early music cds that caught my interest. There were also two Korean women doing some shopping--apparently they're students at one of the local music schools. The clerk in charge of the Classical section was talking to them, and one of them said she played piano. (Surprise, surprise.) The pianist was the more attractive of the two, although both seemed... more cultured than the typical student one sees on the streets of Boston. Were they feminine? I'd have to think about that more. They definitely weren't masculine, which enhances the attraction.

Here is a list of CDs, which will allow me to remember what to look for in the future, after doing some comparison shopping.

Florilegium, Bolivian Baroque
The Orlando Consort
Tallis Scholars, Requiem, Sarum Chant
From Silence to Light -- Gregorian chant (features Le Barroux, among others)
Hilliard Ensemble, Sacred and Secular Music from 6 Centuries
Gothic Voices

Plus, Cristina Branco (fado!), Ulisses

Hrm can't find the following at CDUniverse:
Ensemble Plus Ultra, Morales en Toledo
Vittorio Ghielni, Short Tales for a Viol
Ensemble Organum, Compostela (apparently out of print--I guess I'll have to grab it when I next go to Virgin)
Schola Hungarica, Old Roman Liturgical Chants, 1st Week of Lent
Sophie Yates, Elizabethan Virginals
The Sixteen, Philip and Mary


[Hrm, John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists. Interview with Phillipe Hrreweghe]

I ended up buying Spem in Alium by Chapelle du Roi; it's very good, but I think I still prefer the one by the Tallis Scholars. (Thomas Tallis: The Complete Works, from Signum Classics)

I saw the debut CD by the Wreckers, listened to some samples. New Scot, I'm not sure what to think of it--it's probably better than the latest by the Dixie Chicks though. Pete Takeshi, if you like Halo and Halo 2, check out: www.redvsblue.com and www.thisspartanlife.com
Apparently there's a new SOCOM coming out, SOCOM: Combined Assault. I think Ghost Recon: AWF might be too unrealistic and lead to bad habits; I wonder if the same is true of the latest Rainbow Six game. I haven't seen anything on the SOCOM one.

Some DVDs: The Wild Geese, Fanny and Alexander, Gate of Flesh, M. Gibson's Hamlet, Kagemusha, Temptress Moon, Tomie Revenge, The Uninvited, Yakuza Graveyard, Ozu's Tokyo Story, Revenge of the Musketeers, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Hrm I saw the most recent issue of Newtype; I wonder what the new Voltron looks like.

Speaking of movies...

Captain Alatriste
Last night I saw a trailer for the Captain Alatriste movie, starring Aragorn, aka Viggo Mortensen. There is some nudity in the movie, so I'm guessing it will get a R rating if released here. The narrative of the trailer also anti-Catholic (the Spanish Inquisition is portrayed in a very bad light) and anti-Spain (definitely something in the Black Legend category, but the original novel was written by a Spaniard, Arturo Perez-Reverte. Is he anti-Spain and anti-Catholic as well? Perhaps the author is a bit kinder to the Spanish empire... although it wouldn't surprise me if he was anti-Franco. But I know nothing about him.

The author's website. wiki entry on the novel series, on the author
Washington Post review
EW article on the U.S. release of the novel
Viggo Mortensen fansite, page on Alatriste

Anyway...
back to today's happenings

By the time I was done looking around in Virgin, Red Sox fans were leaving Fenway. Evidently the Red Sox were losing. Ah well. No sympathy from me, even though tickets cost a lot. (Not a justifiable expense in my book--but cultural events where the community can gather together and interact are rare. Listening to CDs or watching movies on DVD can be a rather solitary affair. I don't believe that the best film can rival a well-written book. Right now I tend to think movies, by their very nature, are of a lower class, intellectually, especially because of the use of visual symbolism, which someone might use to argue that they are a highly developed form of art. The amount of discussion that one can get out of a movie tends to be rather small... I'll think about it some more. Most movies are a form of escape for me, I don't expect anything too deep, though some depiction of heroic virtue would be more satisfying.)

I took the T over to Shaw's. There was an attractive Japanese woman on the train, but she seemed to have a rather... intense look on her face. I don't know if I would say it looked unfriendly. I suppose I may look unfriendly at times, but often it is due to the environment and the people around me. Then again, anyone walking around without a smile on his face probably looks unfriendly.

There were plenty of students doing their shopping over at Shaw's on Packard's Corner. They were your tpyical college students, which I found to be rather discouraging. If I cannot find a program with a plan of study that I am sympathetic to (and even better, a strong Catholic identity), I don't think I would want to find a teaching position. I wish I could say that as long as 5 out of 30 students have the desire to learn, that is good enough, but when one multiplies those numbers by 3 or 4 a semester, the frustration level will increase rather quickly.

"Nolite dare sanctum canibus neque mittatis margaritas vestras ante porcos, ne forte conculcent eas pedibus suis et conversi dirumpant vos."

Of course, one could close his eyes to what is going on in the dorms and to the lack of moral formation for the students, focusing only on what happens during class. But would one really be living out one's vocation as a teacher and elder, without having any sort of care for their moral state? What would Confucius say if he stepped foot on a contemporary university campus?

Even if one could justify one's acceptance of a position, in the name of teaching those who wish to be learned, without like-minded colleagues and a integrated program, would it really amount to much? There is only so much one person can do, and charging students $20000 a year or more for what doesn't even come close to being a remedial liberal education (that should have be imparted at the secondary level) seems like exploitation. Can one participate in that, for the sake of "earning a living"?

Hence, I am keeping an eye out for openings at the secondary level; unfortunately, as far as I know, there are not many private [Catholic] schools in California that have either a classical approach to education (Great Books or otherwise) or a traditional liberal arts curriculum. (There is Kolbe Academy, but I wonder about the quality of the secondary education there.) There is also TAC, but... I'm not sure if I would be ready to teach there, or if I agree with the Great Books approach. Surely there are better ways for me to employ my talents and to try to serve the community. At least I hope my backups qualify as such, but this will require more discernment.

Third Blog

From now on I will be posting all notes, meditations, reflections, and critiques, both philosophical and theological, here.

The Species Problem

Pope Benedict XVI is holding a 3-day symposium with his former students; this year's topic? Evolution. I'll be waiting to see if any statements or interviews are published after the symposium is over. I think it would be best for nothing to be said, but undoubtedly someone will offer his perspective. "There is no conflict between religion and science." "The question of evolution is one that deserves special attention and further inquiry." etc. etc.

Amy Welborn's most recent post. Zenit article with Fr. Rafael Pascual providing some comments. Fr. Pascual is dean of philosophy at Regina Apostolorum in Rome, the Legionary university. He concedes the use of the word "science" to modern science and its method and presuppositions. I don't. Good philosophizing is not less certain than "science;" if anything, it is more certain. There are two main questions with respect to evolution -- the historical question, whether it has happened in the past, and the question of mechanism, which is proper to science and philosophy, if we accept the traditional Aristotelian account of science. What agents are involved, what is the sequence of changes and the chain of causes?

As I've stated elsewhere, the problem of species is one that needs to be resolved in a way that addresses the other fundamental questions pertaining to the essence of evolution. What is the problem of species? It is this: how is "species" to be defined within biology? Tied to this problem is the question of whether there are natural stable "kinds" or "types" of living things. One might think that since the word is used so often in theorizing about evolution, that its definition would be clear; however, rather than being clear it has become more obscure.

Eventually I will have to read through the following if I am going to write anything more substantial on the topic.

[Note to self: with respect to terminology one needs to make clear what the difference is between "part" and "structure"--there are various "levels of organization" in complex living things, and the structure of one part is the arrangement of its own component parts relative to one another. Is it necessary that such an arrangement have a useful function (as opposed to one that fulfills a purely aesthetic purpose)? Perhaps at some levels and not at others.]

Richard Blanchette
U. Laval thesis, "The Problem of Classification in Zoology" (pdf)

Thomas Reydon (homepage)
cv
his thesis: Species as Units of Generalization in Biological Science
"Why does the species problem still persist?"
"Monists, pluralists, and biologists"
"Species are individuals--or are they?"
review of David Stamos, The Species Problem: Biological Species, Ontology, and the Metaphysics of Biology

David Stamos (faculty page)
The Species Problem
Darwin and the Nature of Species

David Hull
cv
reviews The Philosophy of Biology: An Episodic History by Marjorie Grene and David Depew
His The Philosophy of Biology

based on Hull's work:
"David Hull's Natural Philosophy of Science"
"Ontology of Evolution: Species, Units, and Levels"

Jody Hey
faculty page
"A Reduction of 'Species' Resolves the Species Problem"
Genes, Categories, and Species
a review of his Genes, Categories, and Species

Marjorie Grene
faculty page
interview
"Aristotle and Modern Biology"
"Recent Work on Aristotelian Biology"
There is a good summary of the species problem in chapter 10 of her book (co-written by David Depew), The Philosophy of Biology: An Episodic History

Ernest Mayr
page at Stephen J. Gould's site (scroll down for some online texts)
page at Edge.com (bio)
excerpt on teleonomy
"What is a species, and what is not?"
"Is Biology an Autonomous Science"
news of his death
Systematics and the Origin of Species
"Ernst Mayr and the modern concept of species" (alt)

Other:
Mortimer Adler, Jacques Maritain?
Problems for Thomists: The Problem of Species (1940)
New York, Sheed & Ward


Not available online, as far as I know, but I probably need to read it just to see what Adler wrote on the subject. Maritain is listed as an author on certain webpages, but have not confirmed that this is so. Perhaps he just wrote the introduction, as "Problems for Thomists" was a series of inquiries written by Adler, in The Thomist? (I should double check and see if this book isn't a collection of articles he wrote for The Thomist.)

Matthew H. Slater, The Metaphysics of Species and Specious Metaphysics
Encyclopedia Brittanica, Philosophy of Biology
Alfred Tauber, Ecology and the Claims for a Science-Based Ethics
Intro to Nature's Purposes

KLI Theory Lab, Philosophy of Biology

Rob Wilson's syllabus; lecture handout
Review of Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change
"Different species problems and their resolution"
"Wittgenstein Solves (Posthumously) the Species Problem"
"The Species Problem" (of unknown quality)
"Antiquarian Musings"
Eric Voegelin


hmm... totally unrelated... Wilfred Sellers, Aristotelian Philosophies of Mind
Whoa, I found Christopher Mirus's thesis online: Aristotle's Teleology and Modern Mechanics

The End of An Era

The New Scot came down from Maine on Thursday and left that night--he will be leaving for Ontario this weekend to start a new job as a principal. Good luck! We barely fit everything that was in storage into the moving van, but fortunately he purchased some cords to strap the futon mattress and blue chair to the van. I am sure they will be put to good use here at the apartment. By the way, thank you again, New Scot, for the bookshelves! They have come in handy during the cleaning and organization process.

I wonder if an Enterprise van will be large enough for my belongings. I doubt it.

Hard to believe that we will not be seeing each other again for a while. The New Scot has certainly made life in Boston more bearable for all of us here in the house, being a source of humor (even if some of it is "Scottish" humor... haha).

Proverbs 18: 24
"There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother"

Some photos:

The Philosopher with the New Scot.

The New Scot. (Looks like an IRA terrorist.)
"Aye, you better watch out, your Campbells! I'm mad and I'm on the loose."


Somebody with the New Scot.


The New Scot, the Lady Downstairs, and the Philosopher.


We will be waiting for you to get your kilt (soon, we hope!) so we can post a picture of you in it up. (And no funny stuff, like that soldier with Queen Elizabeth.) Whoa, Hector Russell is expensive. The Tartan Box is a little bit cheaper. ScottishKilts.net. House of Tartan. ScotClans.

Or better yet, make your own:

More Links on Scottish Culture:
Scottish Culture and Heritage: Scotland and New Scotland
Scottish Culture in Scotland
Scotland's Culture
Scotland: Music and Dance
Music in Scotland
Scottish Music Centre
Traditional Scottish Tunes in Midi Format
History of the Kilt in Scotland
The Scottish Tartans Museum

Friday, September 01, 2006

Jaclyn Smith at Emmys




Presenter Jaclyn Smith poses at the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday, Aug. 27, 2006, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

(L-R) Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith walk onstage together during a tribute to Aaron Spelling at the 58th annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles August 27, 2006. The three were actresses on 'Charlie's Angels', one of the television shows Spelling produced in the 1970's. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES)

Curse of the Golden Flower

international teaser

More updates at Monkey Peaches.

Edit. Teaser is also at Apple. Having seen it, I wonder if it will be a failure like House of Flying Daggers--I don't care much for the wire-fu (although one could argue that the wuxia genre demands it), and it seems like they're trying too hard to give the film an epic feel. Just because the PLA is around to serve as film extras doesn't mean they should use every single one to fill in the scene and give a feeling of scale.

I hope there will be greater focus on the characters and dialogue--Chow Yun Fat and Gong Li can't be wasted--and that it's more of a talkie than an action movie.

Varia 01 September 2006

Culture - September. 2, 2006

The ‘Friends, let’s share things together! 2006’ event organized by an association of private child care facilities in Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, is held at Hangang Park in Seoul Friday. Children donated clothes or toys they no longer wear or play for coupons that could be swapped for items from other participants.

Culture - September. 1, 2006


Staff show off presents for Korean Thanksgiving Day Chuseok at Hanaro Mart’s Yangjae store in Seoul on Thursday. This year’s Chuseok falls on Oct. 6.


This year’s chestnuts: The first chestnuts of the year, harvested in Chinju, South Kyongsang Province, are displayed at Hanaro Club, a retail store run by the National Agriculture Cooperative Federation, Friday, about a month before “Chusok,” the Korean Thanksgiving Day which falls on Oct. 6. /Korea Times Photo by Bae Woo-han 09-01-2006 18:54



Foreign spouses learn Korean culture: Foreign spouses living with Koreans learn how to drink tea at the Songpa-gu welfare center in southeastern Seoul on Thursday (Aug. 31). The Seoul Immigration Office organized the event to help marriage immigrants adapt themselves to the Korean society in cooperation with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and district offices. During the event, the immigration office publicized programs for foreign spouses, including the process of naturalization, Korean classes, job training, medical care service and legal consultations. The office will hold the same event in the Seongdong-gu office on Sept. 1 and the Dongdaemun-gu office on Sept. 7. 08-31-2006 18:15

Korea asked to scrap agricultural tariffs in 10 years

ehh...

SAENGHWANG
Korean Pipe Instrument

MP3 Players Enforce Gender Stereotypes
"Men prefer black while women favor pink and red for the color of their MP3 player, a survey conducted by Sony Korea suggests. The firm polled 711 randomly selected consumers in Dongdaemun and COEX in Seoul."

’The Host’ Set for All-Time Box-Office Record
Good. I don't know if I would watch/buy King and the Clown, even though it's a period piece, because of the transgender issues involved in the story. I'll have to read a good synopsis of the movie.

Daniel Henney Stuns With Innate Language Skills

Troubled Oh Hyung-kyung ‘Headed for Stability’

Labor Day Weekend

Which means that this week is "Moving In/Out Week" here in Boston, as students, young professionals, and others move into and out of apartments all over the city. One will find on the major roads all sort of rental vehicles, especially U-Hauls and vans, with the occasional family station wagon or SUV filled with items.

When I see students and parents walking around BC, all I can think is "suckers." Really. I wouldn't pay the money a BC [undergraduate] education requires, because I've seen the results. It's a sad statement about the state of the economic system when university education has become so degraded, and yet it is increasingly becoming less and less an option and more and more a necessity for those who wish to get a job that will enable them to support a family within a certain environment. Perhaps I should have more pity, but most of that has been used up during my stay here. Sad, sad.

Still, at least BC provides official transcripts for free; and one can get a new ID card, so long as one has the most recent one to exchange for it. At Cal, one would have to pay for both (I'm fairly sure a replacement ID at Cal would cost money.)

I didn't bring headphones to the CTRC today... gotta remember to do so next time.

Crank is opening this weekend, another Jason Statham action movie. Hopefully it will be better than The Transporter 2.

I might enjoy seeing The Wicker Man, not for Nicholas Cage, but for Lee Lee Sobieski. She was on Jay Leno this weekend. Although she has an accent (New York, I think?), it didn't bother me at all--she is just gorgeous. (Although her face looked thinner...) The New Scot and I were talking about her during the drive over to Marlboro, and how she resembles Jewel. "The Nordic look" that he likes. He also thought they were similar to Julia Stiles, but I'm not so sure about that. Though she looked good in the Jason Bourne movies, being attired appropriately as a member of a certain class. (i.e. not being ghetto)

A still from the movie:

larger version
The homesteading look, but she looks a bit like a psycho killer here too.



More photos here and here.

Benedict XVI wallpapers

Via The American Papist:

Ignatius Press offers 2 different wallpapers featuring Benedict XVI--click on the link for downloads.




I like the second one better; I'd like to see a third with the Holy Father in plain white (and his snazzy red shoes).

Is this what prudence really demands?

Preparing for a Crash: Nuts and Bolts
by Zachary Nowak

Is there any choice other than "save your own a--"? How about a noble life and a noble death? (Or, even better, a holy life and a holy death...)

William Lind on the state of the Israeli military

Regression

It is, however, a virtual certainty that the Israeli inquiry will not
address the most interesting question of all: how did the world’s premier post-World War II Third Generation military regress to the Second Generation?

When I was in Israel several years ago, I said to my host, a retired Israeli general with several interesting books to his credit, that I thought the IDF had begun to regress to the Second Generation after the 1973 war. He told me I was wrong; the regression had begun after the war in 1967.


From Uri Avnery, "Olmert Agonistes"

Magister's latest: "Diplomatic relations with China?"

here

It includes an inteview with Fr. Gianni Criveller of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions.

Q: But do you think the Chinese authorities want this dialogue?
A: It seems to me that the present leadership of the party and the government has not yet positively confronted the issue of religious freedom in general, and of relations with the Holy See in particular. For some time the most attentive observers have been pointing out not merely a lack of progress in the field of human rights, but even a setback. The political and civil reforms
wished for and heralded in the 1990’s seem never to arrive. Meanwhile, the regime is getting stronger: control and repression are more narrowly aimed and sophisticated, but effective all the same.

Q: You have such a dim view of the situation?
A: The leader of China is Hu Jintao, the director responsible for the bloody repression in Tibet in March of 1989. This leader certainly does not lift hopes for religious freedom, civil liberty, and respect for human rights. Incredibly, with the Olympics two years away, there are still bishops and priests whose status is unknown, or who are in prison, or confined. When will
they be set free?

What would Aristotle make of China and its imperial heritage? Would he agree with those in power that "the spiritual is subordinate to the political," and be wrong on this point?

Fallen Order

Amy Welborn discusses Fallen Order: Intrigue, Heresy, and Scandal in the Rome of Galileo and Caravaggio (hardcover) by Karen Liebreich.

Any contemporary relevance or parallels? "Hmm."

I still have to get Cities of God (hardcover--$65!!!) for its portrayal of medieval politics and Italian city states, of which I know very little. Certainly they would offer an alternative model of Christian polity to the Christian kingdoms and feudal arrangements of the same time.

More pointless debates about Fr. Amorth

Unless one is really just trying to attack his credibility and to diminish his status as an authority on the subject. (With the same attackers and defenders seen elsewhere.)

Jimmy Akin
American Papist (who turns out to be the son of Dr. Ed Peters, who also blogged on the same subject)

I appreciate the work being done by the defenders, but I don't think those who are personally opposed to Fr. Amorth, or disapprove of some of what he has written, would be truly satisfied unless someone with ecclesiastical authority stepped in and provided a statement. (Not even Fr. Amorth being present to respond to his critics would satisfy, though I would like to see some people address their criticisms to him directly. He has an address in Rome, after all.)

Perhaps people should be doing more praying than debating/attacking--if they wish to issue a caution about his books based on their authority, they may be free to do so in the blogosphere, but really, until Fr. Amorth is stripped of his status and rebuked by the Church (or someone with authority provides some sort of reasoned justification why such action should be taken, instead of advancing their own opinion on how canon law and liturgical norms should be interpreted and adhered to), some reserve in judgment would be called for.

Makes me wonder if Catholics should waste (oops, spend) time on the Internet instead of practicing corporal and spiritual works of mercy with their neighbors. (And yes, this criticism applies to me as well.) Too many people advancing their own opinions in the name of "teaching." (As for this one, if you think I have this same problem, feel free to call me on it or ask for the arguments. It's what a real philosopher looks forward to, until the discussion obviously become pointless. While my time is limited, I will try to at least give the beginnings of the argumentation. Just keep in mind fraternal charity, and pray that I remember as well. Haha, as if no more than a few people are actually reading this.)

The Western Confucian notes this post at The Inn at the End of the World recounting a story:

And it reminds me of a story I heard in school years ago. I was educated by the Salesians and one of our priests told this story he heard from one of the "participants" when he was in seminary. (Yes, it means this is a third, possibly fourth hand story, depending upon how you count. The hearsay objection would be sustained if this weren't my own blog.)

In the 1930's some German priests had already been arrested for their anti-Nazi activities. These two Salesian priests had been arrested and were in prison. (Not a concentration camp but as I recall a general common or garden variety sort of prison.) At one point the inmates were bused in to some sort of Nazi rally to swell the numbers. They were well out of the way and guarded but it looked good when photographed from a distance. Hitler was to speak at the rally. The two priests had talked of Hitler and had similar opinions about him. When he appeared they planned quietly to recite prayers of exorcism over him from wherever they happened to be. They did so. He was not very far into his speech and the priests not too far into the exorcism prayers, when Hitler stopped in mid sentence and fell to the floor as if he'd been sandbagged.

At which point the rally was over and the priests and other prisoners were shipped back to the prison and the rally was never mentioned again.

"Burning up SEALs"

As a general rule I don't post articles from National Review, but this column by W. Thomas Smith Jr. seemed interesting. It has been said by some that SEALS are out of place fighting on the ground in the ME, and that the only reason that they're there is because certain officers in the chain of command fight for "operation time" for their pet groups. (Perhaps to justify the continued existence of those units, but perhaps for other reasons as well.) It is not clear to me why the number of SEALs must increase as they try to increase the total number of special operators (whether in direct proportion or not). Unless they are admitting that it is difficult to recruit qualified men for every such unit, and therefore the burden of increasing size must be spread widely. Would it be possible to provide better training for regular Army units that would enable to engage in 3GW, 4GW and counter-insurgency, and thus relieve some of the current duties of special operations units?

“Burning Up SEALs”
Misuing special-warfare assets.

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc Alan Lee was one of the world’s most highly skilled unconventional warriors — a U.S. Navy SEAL. But on the morning of August 2, the 28-year-old Oregon native was detached to a conventional U.S. Army force tasked with hunting-down guerrillas in a Ramadi neighborhood where four U.S. Marines had been killed the previous week.

When a firefight erupted between the Americans (and an accompanying Iraqi force) and a band of guerrillas, one SEAL was wounded, shot in the cheek by an enemy sniper.

In the ensuing hour-long fight, stretching over several city blocks, another SEAL was struck in the shoulder.

Lee, who positioned himself between the two men, provided covering fire as they were evacuated. But he was later killed by a blast of machinegun fire.

Lee was the first SEAL to die in Iraq. His actions during the fight have been reported as “heroic,” and he has been posthumously awarded the Silver Star to go along with his Bronze Star medal (with Combat V), Purple Heart, and a Combat Action Ribbon.

But some members of the Naval Special Warfare community are telling me he did not have to die, with one officer contending, “they’re burning up SEALs.”

The problem lies in the manner in which SEALs and other special operators are being deployed and for what kinds of missions.

“Special Operations warriors are not dispensable assets,” says Reserve SEAL Commander Mark Divine, who has been to Iraq several times and was tasked with evaluating the performance of a new Marine Corps special operations force during its developmental stages in 2004. “It will take two years to replace Lee with another combat-ready SEAL. The SEAL community is undermanned as it is, and it is the Navy’s number-one recruiting priority.”

Divine’s concerns are based on the fact that the U.S. Defense Department is looking to boost its numbers of special operators, currently totaling about 40,000, by 15 percent over the next four years. SEALs, less than 2,500 men, must increase by about 20 percent, and without reducing standards.

The Global War on Terror — with all of its backdoors and shadows and high-tech, asymmetrical, rapidly changing battlespaces — has placed an enormous demand on U.S. special-warfare units. After all, these are the guys tasked with operating in the darkest environs. Consequently, taking a smart, committed young man with an athletic bent (Lee himself was a star soccer player in high school) and transforming him into a Navy SEAL is neither cheap — about $350,000 a copy — nor easy. Most SEAL hopefuls are unable to pass the entry physical fitness test. And most who do pass the PFT simply don’t have what it takes to become a SEAL.

The attrition rate is extremely high for SEALs: A staggering 80 percent fail to complete the hellish six-months of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (BUD/S). Those who do survive BUD/S must again prove themselves in an equally demanding post-graduate period with an active SEAL Team before officially becoming SEALs.

Special-operations teams like SEALs — including the super-secret Naval Special Warfare Development Group (formerly SEAL Team Six) — the Army’s special-operations forces (from Rangers to Green Berets to Delta), Air Force special-tactics teams, and the Marine Corps’ Force Recon and the brand-new Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) teams, are responsible for conducting special missions, including counterterrorism, hostage rescues, prisoner snatches, foreign military training, special reconnaissance, sabotage, direct action, and the targeting of enemy leaders, among other highly sensitive operations. And many of those operations — though unknown thus never reported — have tremendous strategic relevance.

“In the context of Iraq, SEALs, who comprise a fraction of the Navy’s total force, are trained to handle those kinds of missions,” Divine tells National Review Online. “Every man is a critical asset in the war on terror. So to squander a life in support of a general cordon and search operation is just wrong.”

Divine says he first witnessed such misuse of SEALs back in 2004.

“The conventional commanders would send a formal or informal request to the JSOTF [Joint Special Operations Task Force] for some sniper team support, and if the guys [special operators] were not employed they would usually say, ‘okay,’” Divine says. “The [SEAL] Team guys did not mind because they wanted action.

“But a 24-year-old’s motivation, and then the sound battlefield judgment on the part of the special-operations force leaders are two different things altogether. SEALs will always run toward the sound of the guns. It’s up to the leaders to protect them so that they can perform the high-value missions the taxpayers put them through training for.”

Former SEAL John Chalus, who had one combat tour in Vietnam and whose two sons would later serve in the Navy (one of whom was a SEAL), tells NRO, “SEALs should not be combined with regular units unless the regular unit is used to support the special operation.”

Conventional units often provide security for special operators, setting up a perimeter around the operation and “keeping the bad guys at bay,” says Chalus. And of course, special operators often conduct reconnaissance and gather intelligence for conventional operations.

Richard Marcinko, the founder and first commander of SEAL Team Six, as well as the best-selling author of the Rogue Warrior book series, compares employing SEALs in a conventional capacity to “driving a Ferrari across the desert like a dune-buggy.”

It is a “waste of training,” Marcinko tells NRO. “The conventional force commanders use them for conventional missions for two primary reasons. First, they know they have a mature warrior [in a SEAL]. He’s been to a lot of schools, and he’s not some 19-year-old kid with limited training. Second, using SEALs or other highly trained Spec Ops guys protects whoever is in charge of the conventional operation. It’s kind of a political cover you’re a** thing to say, ‘hey, I sent in the teams that wouldn’t embarrass me.’”

Conventional commanders know SEALs will almost always kill or capture any bad guys encountered. Commanders also have an appreciation for the war-fighting skills special operators like SEALs might impart to conventional soldiers and sailors. And the SEALs themselves are always willing to pitch in on missions outside of their traditional roles.

“Particularly the young kids who have just come out of BUD/S,” says Marcinko. “They’ve never been in combat, and they want to test what they’re made of.”

Some SEALs have told me that actual operations seem not nearly as tough as their training. But unlike a gun battle, almost no one dies in training, even training as high-speed and dangerous as that of the SEALs.

— A former U.S. Marine infantry leader, W. Thomas Smith Jr. writes about military issues and has covered conflict in the Balkans and on the West Bank. He is the author of five books, and his articles appear in a variety of publications.

Barr replies to George and Lee

Ho hum. He doesn't really advance anything new here. With regards to my last post, I really wonder if it is possible for the [ultimate] elements to transition to one another; it does not seem to me to be possible, though Aristotle thinks it is, through changes in quality. But I cannot see how there can be changes in quality with some sort of change affecting parts, and if these elements are truly simple, how can they have parts?

Can elements fall into sheer potency? But sheer potency does not exist in itself. So it seems that the existence of the elements (whatever they may be, I'm not using the word "element" as contemporary chemists and physicists use to designate and define the members of the periodic table, but as Aristotle defines the word) is stable.

Barr goes on to write:
"And yet, there are things that one can imagine happening to an apple (or a bone, or even a whole planet) that would efface it so completely, that no particles, atoms, bits of matter, or parcels of energy would remain that could meaningfully be asserted to have been the very ones that were once part of the original object."

To me this sounds like, I could explain it to you but it would be too complicated. Typical of the scientist. As far as I'm concerned, if one cannot lay out the arguments for the uneducated to understand, one is a lousy teacher, and one suspects, a lousy reasoner, because with respect to the sciences, being able to teach well is dependent upon being able to reason well.

So what is Barr trying to say then? He is not saying that the parts of a thing go completely out of existence; just that whatever remains could not meaningfully be asserted to have been the "same" as what were once parts of hte original object. I still find this highly suspect--just because the limitations of the human intellect make us unable to determine what was once part of a thing, does not mean that they cannot be known or are not the same. A fundamental confusion of what the limits of our intellect are for the limits of nature.
September 1, 2006
Stephen Barr writes:

I fear that Profs. George and Lee may have misunderstood my position. They seem to think that I have been arguing against any kind of continuity between the premortem body and the resurrected body. For instance, they say,

Professor Barr’s argument seems to be this: (1) When a body is completely decayed or “resolved into its constituent particles,” then the only continuity possible is at the subatomic or atomic level; (2) continuity at that level does not make sense according to quantum physics. … [emphasis added]

If I had said (1) and (2), then I would indeed have been denying any possibility of continuity. However, in my previous response to them I was quite careful not to reject all notions of “continuity,” or even “material continuity.” What I argued against was “‘material continuity’ of the kind envisaged by George and Lee,” and “‘material continuity’ in the sense of composition from some of the ‘same’ bits of matter.” [emphasis added]

George and Lee correctly say that “1 Corinthians 15 … does not deny a material continuity…. Moreover, in the very passage that Professor Barr quotes, 1 Corinthians 15 seems to support the material continuity view rather than to subvert it.” However, I (or rather Ratzinger/Pope Benedict) did not cite 1 Corinthians 15 in order to subvert the idea of material continuity, but rather to support the idea that resurrection will involve a profound transformation and not a mere “return of the ‘fleshly body,’ that is, of the biological structure” in the form that we know it today. George and Lee also say,

[Barr] does not feel that it is necessary to accept what he acknowledges is a strong argument, namely, that since Christ’s risen body was materially continuous with his body in the tomb, so (probably) is our risen body materially continuous with our premortem body.

However, my concern in discussing the ascension of Christ was not to deny a material continuity between Christ’s body premortem and post-resurrection, or to say anything about the continuity of our own bodies. Rather it was to argue that the post-resurrection appearances of Christ do not necessarily tell us much about what bodies will be like in heavenly glory. Again, my concern at that point was to argue for profound transformation, not to argue against continuity. Indeed, when I said that at his ascension Christ was “translated” into another realm, that itself clearly implied continuity.

My concern throughout has not been to deny continuity, but to raise an objection to what I understood to be George and Lee’s particular way of explaining that continuity. That way involved making an identification of specific bits (or “parcels”) of matter. Do I have an alternative explanation to suggest? I wish I did, but I do not.

As Ronald Knox shrewdly observed in The Hidden Stream, all supernatural mysteries are rooted in natural mysteries:

It’s not surprising that there is a problem of free will in revealed theology, because there is a problem of free will in common or garden philosophy. The mystery comes in just where you would expect it to come in; where there is a mystery anyhow. The way I have tried to put it . . . is that you may picture human thought as a piece of solid rock, but with a crevice here and there—the places, I mean, where we think and think and it just does not add up. And the Christian mysteries are like tufts of blossom which seem to grow in those particular crevices, there and nowhere else.

The supernatural mystery of resurrection grows in a place where there is already a rather difficult philosophical puzzle, namely: What makes a thing the “same thing” through time? Material continuity seems to have something to do with it. The painting on which I gaze in the art gallery is in some sense the same painting that came from the artist’s hands, whereas the forgery, no matter how exactly like it, is not “the real thing.” The apple on my desk is somehow the same apple that was there yesterday, even if a bit more shriveled. The bones in the coffin are somehow the same bones the person had in life. The ashes in the urn are somehow part of the remains of the body of the deceased. The earth on which I stand is the same planet that was orbiting the sun four and a half billion years ago. So, material continuity of a fairly obvious sort can often be traced through extensive changes and over long periods of time, just as George and Lee say.

And yet, there are things that one can imagine happening to an apple (or a bone, or even a whole planet) that would efface it so completely, that no particles, atoms, bits of matter, or parcels of energy would remain that could meaningfully be asserted to have been the very ones that were once part of the original object. Indeed, such things do happen. Rather than getting into physics, let me use the money analogy again. There are certainly cases in which I can say that the money in Joe’s bank account is the same money that was once in Fred’s. I might be even able to say that if Fred was Joe’s great-great-grandfather and had set up some kind of trust fund. On the other hand, it is probably utterly meaningless to ask whether any part of the money I just spent at the 7-eleven once belonged to Abraham Lincoln.

Where are the snows of yesteryear? In particular, where is that pile of snow that was in my front yard a few years back? Can it be recovered by finding the “same water molecules”? (I believe that the phrase “same water molecules” is meaningless in this context.) Can it be recovered in any other way?

Where does this leave us? I don’t know. Our resurrected bodies will be the same ones we have now in some sense; of that I have no doubt. And that sameness may (or may not) involve some kind of material continuity. If it does, it is quite mysterious (to me, anyway) how one might conceive of that continuity in some cases. But then again, as we all agree, we are talking about a mystery.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Reporter sentenced to 5 years in prison for spying

HONG KONG – CHINA
China: five years behind bars for Ching Cheong, “guilty of spying”

The judges maintain that the reporter sold military secrets to Taiwan and created a spy network to plot against the state. In reality, when arrested, he was working on an article about the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/SCMP) – The Beijing Intermediate People's Court has convicted Hong Kong reporter, Ching Cheong, of spying and sentenced him to five years in prison. This was reported yesterday by Xinhua, the Communist regime’s official news agency.

Ching, a correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, was arrested in April last year. State media claim he confessed to selling military secrets to Taiwan and to setting up a spy network to “sell state secrets” to foreign powers.

In China, most information pertaining to the life of the nation is considered to be “state secret” and revealing it through the media is branded as “an attempt against state security”. Currently at least 42 journalists are in prison because of this.

Dissident figures have told AsiaNews that the reasons for Ching Cheong’s arrest are to be found in his research on Zhao Ziyang, who was secretary of the Party during the time of the pro-democracy uprisings, and about the Tiananmen massacre in 1989. The government continues to justify the massacre as a “minor” evil which guaranteed national stability and order, leading to economic success.

He Peihua, Ching’s lawyer, did not offer any explanation: “I need to respect the family's wishes. They don't want me to reveal the decision.”

Meanwhile, the journalist’s employers have called on the Chinese authorities to show “leniency and compassion” during his imprisonment. Singapore Press Holdings, the editor of the newspaper China worked for, said in a public appeal: ''We note with concern the sentence meted out. As he is known to be suffering from high blood pressure and is not in the best of health, we appeal to the Chinese authorities to show him leniency and compassion.”
As much as I think the press should be curbed or rendered unnecessary, convicting someone on trumped-up charges because he is looking for the truth is plainly unjust; would the same thing have happened during imperial times. Perhaps the emperor would just have suppressed the press entirely, rather than maintaining the fiction that a free one operates within Chinese society.

CHINA
Xinjiang jade worthy of an emperor running in short supply

Expert in Beijing warns that if the government does not intervene against unrestricted mining, the rare Khotan jade mines will be depleted in five years.

Urumqi (AsiaNews/SCMP) – China's supplies of a rare jade, mainly mined from a river in Xinjiang, will soon be exhausted if excessive exploitation continues, a gem expert warned.

Wang Shiqi, deputy director of Peking University's Gemstone Appraisal Centre, said deposits of Khotan, or Hotan, jade would be depleted in five or six years if the government did not stop the indiscriminate use of heavy excavation machinery along Xinjiang's Yurungkax River, the main source of the stone.

The jade is considered to be the highest quality because of its pure texture and tallow-like lustre, and has been associated with emperors throughout Chinese history.

Khotan jade can sell for up to 1,000 yuan a gram (about 100 euros or 120 dollars US), and prices have rocketed in recent years because of a sharp decrease in output.

The Xinhua news agency reports that prospectors with modern mining equipment have flooded into the region to capitalise on the gemstone's high prices.

According to one jade miner, “there are about 200,000 people and about 2,000 excavators working along the Yurungkax River.”

Hotan jade trader Zheng Shengli said he thought the jade would be depleted in no more than three years, noting that “about half of the machines have stopped running now because no gemstones can be found.”




http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/reapp/frank.html

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Return of the Tribes"

"Return of the Tribes" by Ralph Peters.

Right at the very beginning Mr. Peters writes:
If globalization represents a liberal worldview, renewed localism is a manifestation of reactionary fears, resurgent faiths, and the iron grip of tradition.
Is he really a neutral observer? Even with reporting of "facts," there is bound to be interpretation because facts without causal analysis makes for rather boring reading. So the question is, do any of his 'intellectual' commitments interfere with his causal analysis or, in the normative realm, slant his evaluation of events and trends?

I did a search for more information about him, and of course one of the first things I found was the wikipedia entry. According to wikipedia:

His view of the role of capitalist globalisation and the US-army he made crystal clear in the remarkable article 'Constant Conflict', US-Army War Collage Quartely 'Parameters', Summer 1997:

* "The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing".
If this is accurate, do we need to know much more about Mr. Peters's ideological commitments?

Here is how he would redraw the map of the Middle East; according to wikipedia, it is included in his latest book Never Quit the Fight (2006).


I had seen this map before, thanks to Range--it was posted in an online forum for Muslims, I believe. One I first saw it I did not know if it was drawn up by a Muslim or not, though some of it seemed to make sense and even just. Now that I know who the author is, I wonder if I should read his book and see what sort of recommendations he makes and the justifications for those recommendations

This is what he writes in a different article:
The hallmark of our age is the failure of belief systems and a subsequent flight back to primitive fundamentalism--and the phenomenon isn't limited to the Middle East. Faith revived is running roughshod over science and civilization. Secular societies appear increasingly fragmented, if not fragile. The angry gods are back. And they will not be defeated with cruise missiles or computer codes.
'Nuff said? I think so.

By tribes, what Mr. Peters is really talking about are those who are locally-minded, localists who refuse to join the globalist wave. (He would probably dismiss them as being "provincially-minded," refusing to join the new order.)
A generation ago, it was unacceptable to use the word tribes. Yet, the tribes themselves won through, insisting on their own identity--whether Xhosa or Zulu, Tikriti or Barzani, or, writ large, French or German.
Is this the quality of thinking and writing over at Weekly Standard? To fail to recognize the major sociological, cultural, and political [indeed, 'constitutional' as Aristotle would use the term] differences between a real tribe and a nation that has become a nation-state is a big failure indeed.

Oversimplification leads to bad causal analysis; one need to reflect well upon complex data, even if that means one has to delay writing or judging. Otherwise, producing a poorly thought-out analysis is a waste of resources and the results will mislead the uneducated.

Are we witnessing in certain European countries vestiges of an attachment to the nationalism which was tied to the rise of the nation-state? Does public opinion oscillate between nationalism and pan-Europeanism? Is there a genuine movement towards "localism"? Or is it merely a reaction against perceived defects of the EU or dangers of formally joining the EU? Favoring the nation-state against the EU is not necessarily support of true localism, nor is it anti-liberal to do so. As far as I can tell, there is no necessary connection between liberalism and a push towards larger political unities. (However if there is a presupposition that a government is competent and effective regardless of the size of the community governed, than one who supports centralization and the nation-state as a political unities would have no problems with a larger political unity, at least with respect to size.) Why then, would Mr. Peters favor the EU over political independence? In this article he does not present his views of the EU; he is merely "reporting" the reasons for the rejection. But are those rejecting the EU constitution also advocates of, say, Welsh independence? Or are there some who hold a "middle" position?

Andrew Cusack may have high hopes for Philippe de Villiers and la Mouvement pour la France, but I do not know enough about either (except that de Villiers was influential in getting the EU Constitution rejected). Mr. Cusack says the MPF is both conservative and traditionalist.

James Howard Kunstler and the commentors over at CFN point out that Europe is more prepared to deal with peak oil than the United States, having better arrangements with public transportation, urban planning, and so on. Still, is the MPF aware of this crticial issue? Does it push for local self-sufficiency and authentic subsidiarity? The British National Party seems to be agrarian and traditionalist plus also aware of peak oil, but it also has a reputation for being nativist (or racist). (I don't know if such criticisms are valid. The chairman of the BNP has his own blog.)

Elsewhere, the devolution of identity from the state to the clan or cult is more radical, more anxious, and more volatile. In Iraq, religious, ethnic, and tribal identities dictate the composition of the struggling national government--as they do in Lebanon, Canada, Nigeria, and dozens of other countries (we shall not soon see a Baptist prime minister of Israel--or a Muslim Bundeskanzler, despite those who warn of Eurabia). Even in the United States, with our integrative genius, racial, religious, and ethnic identity politics continue to prosper; we are fortunate that we have no single dominant tribe (minorities might disagree).
Now in how many of these places was there a "strong national identity" to begin with, as opposed to one that was imposed by colonial powers or a strong central government (as in the case of Iraq)? No single dominant tribe? The Indians were suppressed rather violently, and those who advocated states' rights... do we need to go over that again? For most ethnic groups assimilation has been mostly successful--while there is an emphasis on "difference" it is usually not backed up by anything deep, whether it be culture or religion, with a few exceptions--most immigrants become Americans in practice, if not completely liberals in thought, working for what a normal American wants, accepting American notions of the "happy life" and living accordingly. (The problem of the contemporary Chicano movements and the like, I'll ignore for now.)

Still, the success of the United States in breaking down ancient loyalties is remarkable--and anomalous. While the current American bugbear is Hispanic immigration, most Latinos establish worthy lives in the American grain, just as the Irish and Italians, Slavs and Jews, did before them. American Indians may still think in tribal terms (especially when casino profits are involved), and there is no apparent end to the splinter identities Americans pursue in their social and religious lives, but not even Rome came remotely so close to forging a genuinely new, inclusive identity.
An inclusive identity based upon what? A common ideology and conception of the good life? Is that all?

The uneven ability to digest the feast of information suddenly available even in the globe's backwaters doesn't bring humanity together (even if Saudi clerics and American bureaucrats visit the same online porn sites). Rather, it disorients those whose lives previously had been ordered, and creates a sense simultaneously of being cheated of previously unimagined possibilities while having one's essential verities challenged. Feeling helpless and besieged, the victim of globalization turns to the comfort of explanatory, fundamentalist religion or a xenophobia that assures him that, for all his material wants, he is nonetheless superior to others.
Ordered? In what way? What is to say that the attachment to one's culture, religion, or local community wasn't already there to begin with, and when threatened by an outside force, one reacts accordingly? The "information" revolution, what an Enlightenment/pseudo-psychological crock--as if the problem with these people is that they are unable to become enlightened fast enough, and so they become discombobulated and even violent. Well, Mr. Peters doesn't say just say this--he also says that the other factor is envy. It's also because they envy others that they do what they do. He embraces both a crass view of human nature and an Enlightenement view both at once--who else but a confused modern do this?

The confident may welcome freedom, but the rest want rules.
Freedom? Since when is freedom just the power to acquire and consume?

Even the most powerful attempts to unite humanity failed: the monotheist campaigns to impose one god.
Impose God? What sort of Christianity is he familiar with?

Monotheism replaced Rome's law codes with the law of God. The first near-success of globalization was the bewildering survival and spread of Christianity, the transitional faith between the exclusive tribal monotheism of Judaism and the universal aspirations of Islam. Beginning as a cult uncertain of the legitimacy of proselytizing among those of different inheritances, Christianity quickly developed a taste for salesmanship, adapting its message from one of local destiny to one of universal possibility.
What sort of history of the early Church has he read? Cult uncertain of the legitimacy of proselytizing? What does he think of St. Peter and St. Paul and the Council of Jerusalem? That happened rather soon--note that he does not give an explanation of the change in evangelization efforts. Christians would say that the Apostles did not fully understand the universal mission of Christ, but had to be reminded of the fact. Does he really want to say that it became universal once those in authority realized they could gain power, etc. etc.? Is he really an anti-Christian?

Furthermore, its message to the poor (a constituency contemporary globalization ignores) had as exemplary an appeal among the less-fortunate of the bygone Mediterranean world as it does today in sub-Saharan Africa. Christianity was an outsider's religion co-opted by rulers, while Islam meant to rule--and include--all social classes from the years of its foundation.

Another version of Constantinianism.

Those Christian and Muslim visions continue to experience drastic mutations in the battle for new and local loyalties, having now reached every habitable continent. Their success has blinded us to their weakness: Neither religion has been able to subdue their old antiglobalist nemesis: magic.
...
Quite simply, Big Religion and local cults are inherently different commodities. From Brazil to Borneo, local Christians don't see imported and traditional belief systems as mutually exclusive, any more than a kitchen fortunate enough to have a refrigerator should therefore be denied a stove.
Christians have been unable to fully evangelize many around the world. Hence Christ's admonition that we pray for more workers in the vineyard. So what? Calling Islam and Christianity examples of globalism weakens his argument, as it obscures what he means by globalization.

There's an enormous difference between Big Religions--Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and the others--and the local cults that endure long beyond their predicted disappearance. This distinction is critical, not only in itself, but also because it is emblematic of the obstacles that local identities present to globalization as we imagine it. Big Religion interests itself in a world beyond this world, while the emphasis of local faiths has always been on magic (bending aspects of the natural world to the will of the practitioner of hermetic knowledge). Magic affects daily life in the here and now, and its force and appeal can be far more potent than our rationalist worldview accepts: What we cannot explain, we mock. (An advantage Christianity enjoys among the poor of the developing world is the image of Jesus the Conjure-Man, turning water into wine and walking on water--he's a more-promising shaman than Muhammad.)
What Peters sees as the practical value of magic, we would see as the condition of fallen man, entrapped in superstition. So a culture or a population has not been fully converted--it happens. Are we talking about competing worldviews and ways of life? Yes. Secondly, Christianity, though universal, is not necessary anti-local. This Peters fails to realize. There is a difference between legitimate inculturation and illegitimate; just as Christianity is not bound to a particular political order, though it favors subsidiarity.

Another aspect of identity that we, the inheritors of proselytizing world religions, fail to grasp is that local cults are exclusive. They not only do not seek new members, but can't imagine integrating outsiders (the politicized tribal beliefs of the Asante in Ghana are a limited exception, since they were devised to confirm the subjugation of neighboring tribes). Cult beliefs are bound to the local soil, the trees, the waters. Tribal religions are about place and person, an identity bound to a specific environment. While slaves did take voodoo practices with them to the new world, the rituals immediately began to mutate under the stress of transplantation. Tribal religions form an invisible defensive wall, as local practices do today, from the Andes to the Caucasus.
Are they really that exclusive? Come on, even the earliest missionaries understood how much religious practices could be tied to culture and identity. Would these cults be so quick to reject the outsider? Yes, if he remained an outsider, most probably. But what if he became one of them, adopting their ways and beliefs?

While both Big Religions and local belief systems proffer creation myths, universal faiths are far more concerned with an end-of-times apocalypse (in the Hindu faith, with recurring apocalypses), while local cults rarely see beyond the next harvest. The great faiths lift the native's heart on one day of the week, while local beliefs guide him through the other six.
Again, another statement that makes me wonder how familiar he is with true Christianity. Who is slipping into making differences out of hay while ignoring the similarities or parallels (see below)? He needs to read up on rogation days and the like.

The attitude of missionaries, Christian or Muslim, is that such beliefs and practices are a combination of bad habits, naive superstitions, and general ignorance. But the conviction has grown in me as I travel that the missionaries themselves are--willfully--ignorant of systems they cannot respect and so refuse to understand. Religions are like businesses in the sense that they must provide products that work with sufficient regularity to keep customers coming back. Results matter. The psychological comfort and beyond-the-grave promises of Christian ity and Islam function transcendently, but leave immediate needs unanswered.
So is he unfamiliar with the great Franciscan and Jesuit missions as well? Bringing civilization has usually been a great help for efforts at evangelization.

Enough of that article.

From "Euro-Losers":
Thanks to globalization, hundreds of millions of human beings have jobs that lift them upward economically.

Those jobs may not be great ones by French standards, but, from China to Chile, people line up and compete for a chance to work. And they're willing to work very hard to improve their lives - those "bad" jobs are far better than none at all.

Globalization isn't an unmixed blessing - all great changes have victims - but the net results are positive.

Are there negative effects of how globalization is being implemented? Mr. Peters says yes. But on the whole he supports globalization because of its supposed benefits. According to what critera are things better? Are other criteria being ignored when such an evaluation is made?
Could anyone write a more inane sentence than this--what would these people be doing if there were no "chances to work" brought about by globalization? Sitting around and starving to death? It's this sort of shallow analysis, ignoring the social and economic changes that allow "globalization" to take place that makes me want to laugh. Why is it that people think that just because they can put a paragraph together to make a point that they have what it takes to analyze well? Or that just because in their imagination, things are currently better than they would otherwise be if their favorite pet system, institution, practice, ideology, or what have you were not in force that this is the case?

An earlier piece by Mr. Peters in the NY Post, on the same theme.

His op-ed "The Myths of Globalization":
Among the many myths surrounding globalization, two stand out: The notion that this phenomenon is new and, more dangerously, the claim that globalization will lead to an age of utopian peace. Those who see globalization as unprecedented simply don't know their history. Those who imagine that greater understanding, courtesy of the Internet, will deliver an idyllic peace don't know humanity.

The first claim, that globalization is a wondrous child without historical parents, is the easiest to demolish. Greek culture of the age of Alexander influenced India's hairstyles, while eastern silks were sold in Caesar's Rome. Chinese porcelain and coins more than a thousand years old turn up in East Africa. Europeans of the Middle Ages paid a premium for pepper harvested a continent away. The Islamic world brokered trade between the West and the Far East. And it was before the discovery of the Americas.

There are more parallels with the past than differences. When Portuguese warships wrested control of the Indian Ocean from the Ottomans and their clients at the dawn of the 16th century, they provided a model of strategic hegemony that remains in place today. Then, Lisbon's caravels and carracks controlled the spice trade. Today, U.S. Navy carriers guarantee the oil trade. The commodities have changed, but not the strategic geography.

Roots go way back

Globalization today may proceed at a swifter pace, generate greater wealth and touch more lives, but its essence is at least 2,500 years old. Over the centuries, the process has changed international relationships profoundly, but it has never changed human nature.

Let's define terms now, shall we? How do you want to define globalization? Wikipedia offers the following, borrowed from the IMF:

A typical definition can be taken from the International Monetary Fund, which defines globalization as the growing economic interdependence of countries worldwide through increasing volume and variety of cross-border transactions in goods and services, free international capital flows, and more rapid and widespread diffusion of technology. All definitions appear to agree that globalization has economic, political, cultural, and technological aspects that may be closely intertwined.
Of course, historically-informed people will admit that inter-community trade has existed ever since communities made contact with one another, found that they had things they could exchange a way to transport those things over a distances. And sure, there have been transmission of "ideas" and culture as well, and importation of "fashion trends." But who was doing the producing and consuming? How intact were local economies despite trade and communication with other communities? Just because there are similarities does not mean that the differences are not significant enough to demand a different solution or critique. How does the dominance of one national currency affect financial and economic arrangements? Was there as great an extent of the flow of capital and finance in earlier period? What about the shift from merchant companies and in-country transplants creating goods with native labor and sending it home being prominent to producers (really, those who hold the capital for production) and such moving capital overseas in order to cut down on expenses? (The shift from simple inter-community trade to colonialism, etc. to what we have now?)

Is mercantilism outdated? Perhaps it is. But what increases production besides increase in labor or improvements in technology? Besides, it does the community no good to be able to efficiently produce vast quantities of things if no one wishes to buy those things, nor is able to. And how many of those things are really necessary for the good life?

(How much trade could there be between a group of hunter-gathers and an industrialized community?)

Other questions to ask:
Why is there such a differential between national currencies and purchasing power? What
affects comparative advantage? Is comparative advantage a good enough reason for specialization? Should specialization be limited solely to luxuries? Or extended to necessities as well? Can comparatve advantage justify one community's failure to be self-sufficient with respect to necessities, in the pursuit of specialization?

How many of Mr. Peters's presuppositions does Thomas Barnett share? Mr. Barnett's reaction to Mr. Peters's "The Counterrevolution in Military Affairs" here. His comments on Peters's op-ed "The Myths of Globalization." I'll post more about Mr. Barnett, but it makes me wonder if I should both to read what he writes.

Kent Bye has posed his Open Source Intelligence interviews (includes one with Mr. Peters).

Interview of Ralph Peters by Jamie Glazov at FrontPageMag.

Dr. Esolen at Mere Comments reacts to the "The Return of Tribes."

A gem: short interview with David Hackworth
PCR: The Five Morons Revisited

Websites with liberal and possibly Austrian sympathies:
Chicagoboyz
The Austrian Economists
Cafe Hayek

Martin Wolf, Why Globalization Works (reviews)

Sigh, do I really need to waste time on apologists for unreasonable arrangements? I'm getting tired of people who make their living advocating such arrangements. If they did it on their own private time with a blog, by all means, go ahead and spend your leisure in such a way. At least the activity is being paid for indirectly and the number of people who will read the blog will probably be more limited (despite the fact that it's free, unlike a book), so there will be a better measure of damage control.

It's just like Thomas Friedman's book... unbelievable how such people can make a living contributing virtually nothing beneficial.

How an atheist looks at the end of the world

Might be summed up in tonight's ABC 20/20 special, The Last Days on Earth. They use a countdown for the format, listing the various ways the world could come to an end, or at least a sizeable portion of it, with a possible extinction of mankind... but at the very least, many, many deaths...

What is our fascination with death and destruction? Are we so tired of living? I didn't watch all of the program; I wonder if they deal with our responsibility for our choices. There is no notion of Divine Providence in this presentation; while God permits moral evil and wills natural evil, this is all limited according to His providence. Would God permit mankind to extinguish itself completely. I don't think so, though he could allow the sin to have its effect, leading to injustice, injury, and death, even possibly on a vast scale.

How is the ABC website advertising the program?

For thousands of years, different religions have warned Earth about Armageddon and the final days.

We are now living in an age where scientists are adding their voices and their evidence in support of end-of-the-world
possibilities.

"Last Days on Earth" is a program that could change the way
you see your world and yourself. The world's top scientists, including Stephen Hawking, considered the foremost living theoretical physicist, describe seven riveting scenarios detailing the deadliest threats to humanity.

Some can destroy the planet, others have the ability to render us extinct, and all have the power to destroy civilization.

How likely are they to occur, and what exactly would happen if they did, and could we survive?

"Last Days on Earth" goes beyond science fiction to science fact.


Of course there is that appeal to the authority of scientists, who are our intellectual elites, telling us how dangerous we are to ourselves. If only we would listen to them.

This is the kind of irresponsible fear-mongering that the devil would inflict, as an attack on God's existence, goodness, and wisdom. One would have thought that this sort of program would be limited to PBS, but back in the '80s I remember some programs on the major networks detailing the consequences of nuclear war.


"Of all the generations of humans that have walked the surface of the Earth — for 100,000 years, going back when we first left Africa — the generation now alive is the most important," said Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at City University of New York."

"The generation now alive, the generation that you see, looking around you, for the first time in history, is the generation that controls the destiny of the planet itself."

The view of a practicing atheist, if not a believing one. Do our choices have consequences upon ourselves and others? Certainly. But Who is Pantokrator and Lord of History?

The top three spots are occupied by the dangers we have brought upon ourselves.
#3 Nuclear destruction.
#2 Modern-day plagues (including man-made biological weapons)

and of course, #1 Global warming/climate change

The use of fear and terror, with an exaggerated emphasis on our ability to save ourselves--these are the tools of the antichrist; when he comes, he will work his wonders in order to persuade the willing to give him power.
I have thought that if we don't address peak oil now, and if peak oil does happen in the near future, with the worst consequences possible, compounded by starvation, resource wars, and pandemics and whatever evils that may befall us, that would that be the opportune time for the antichrist to come and promise mankind a remedy for death in all these forms, as if death were the greatest evil that could befall one...

How does news and warnings about peak oil not fall under fear-mongering? Because the amount of oil is finite, and we are charged to be prudent and not live intemperate lives. The only questions that are not answered are (1) when global oil production will peak, and (2) whether demand will also decline with production, or if it will continue to increase. Once we realize how dependent current economic and social arrangements are upon cheap oil, we should be working to mitigate the effects of peak oil while it is easier to do so (not that it is at all easy even now). Our way of life is not sustainable. The sooner we understand this, the better.

Perhaps there is little we can do to avoid bad consequences; in blaming mankind for the miseries it brings upon itself, do we become misanthropes and even more self-absorbed? No, as Christians we are called to live out charity to a heroic degree, even when things look bleak and death is near, but even when there are no immediate dangers. Instead, too many of us are complacent with our atomistic lives in a materially rich, but spiritually poor, post-industrialized nation.

Perhaps it is an exaggeration to say that there is an unholy alliance between ABC and Disney (it is true that Disney owns ABC, but as far as I know they don't micromanage ABC); nonethless, ABC continues to fail to impress with their programming.

"Armegeddon Cocktail Hour"

20/20 on Friday -- "Stupid in America," discussing the decline in standards and of the public education system...