Saturday, December 22, 2007

Atonement

Spoiler warning!


Today I saw the movie Atonement (UK), based on the novel by Ian McEwan, with the friend from Taiwan, CC, and DY at Santana Row CineArts. First we had lunch at Harvest Restaurant in Cupertino, next to Miyake and the one I went to before with RHK but didn't know the name. (I ordered the steak and spuds for $11.99--there wasn't that much food, and the quality of the snap peas wasn't that great. Even though it is counter service, I don't think I will be going there again--the food isn't worth the price.) CC was about 20 minutes late... eh.

It turns out that the scenes we had watched of Briony trying to patch things up with her sister and her sister's lover were created in her imagination. No such happy ending was possible, since both died, one before he could be evacuated from Dunkirk, the other when a German bomb breaks the gas and water mains above a subway tube where she is taking shelter to flood, drowning her.

I found the ending to be a bit of a cheat--trying to be have both a happy ending and a sad ending. Now, according to the wiki entry for the novel:


The novel ends with a meditation on the nature of atonement andauthorship, and the conclusion that Briony appears to reach is that noamount of authorial fantasizing (or, for that matter, wretched work asa nurse) can actually make up for the crime she committed as a child of13. It also shows the differing views on fiction and how it can bedamaging beyond belief and can be good in that it offered Cecilia andRobbie a chance for happiness in the written world that they neverachieved in life.

But it seems to me that the movie didn't make this clear--ending with happy scenes of Cecilia and Robbie frolicking at the beach and the vacation house near the cliffs of Dover. Perhaps I missed something that Briony said during the interview; in the movie she does say that she created those scenes because a sad ending would not reward the reader. However, she says that she wanted to give the couple the ending they deserved, and this could only be done through writing. If the wiki quote is correct, then the author seems to want to have it both ways--fiction can't raise the dead back to life, nor can it change the past. It's imaginary! So if it is "good," it is not because "it offered Cecilia and Robbie a chance for happiness in the written world that they never achieved in life." They're dead!

But I'll have to listen to what Briony says during the interview again.

If the movie, like the novel, wants to make the point that her work as a nurse cannot give her the sense of atonement that she needs, nor assuage her guilt, I could accept that. It is almost as if we need a personal embodiment of justice to pardon us and to confirm that what we have done has been worthwhile in some way. What else could a non-believer possibly write? (And then Briony's writing as a form of confessing what she has done wrong...)

I'd rather have a movie that focuses on this sort of moral realism and emphasizes that there are actions that cannot be undone, than muck it all up with blabber about how fiction is on par with reality. Human authors are not God; their creation cannot achieve the real.

Then again maybe the story is an examination of Briony and her failure to get in touch with reality. That in spite of being a precocious writer (but how talented?), she remains rather self-absorbed, and that her guilt merely feeds on that. Maybe the story is a critique of many writers of fiction, who live in their imagination, without understanding the real world, and really living in it...

I did enjoy the scenes of Dunkirk.

The friend from Taiwan... can be hard to get along with, exuding brusqueness at times. She says shemay be returning to Taiwan at the end of January or in February.

Atonement (2007) - Production Photos - Yahoo! Movies
Premiere Photos
keira knightley.com - The Keira Knightley Website
Keira-Knightley.org Your Ultimate Source for Keira Knightley
KeiraWeb.com - Trusted source for Keira Knightley news & multimedia

Friday, December 21, 2007

AOL and its ad

Yesterday I heard a radio ad for some AOL service (I think it was for AOL news), which featured a take-off on Miss South Carolina, the Britney Fan Christ Crocker and... University of Florida student Andrew Meyer and his infamous line, "Don't taze me bro."

While behind closed doors that incident and his response may elicit jokes and laughter, I was shocked that AOL would make light of it through an advertisement. While I do not oppose the use of taser like others (not until I see something more conclusive on its potential to cause serious harm or death, and how this compares with the use of a hand-on approach to subduing a suspect), this seemed to me to cross the line of decency. But I haven't heard any uproar of protest in the mainstream media yet.

Here are some links for the commercial:

Don't Taze Me, Bro! - AOL Video
Don't Taze Me Bro Rap - AOL Video
Digg - AOL's Hilarious New Ad: Don't Tase Me Bro & Others Included
YouTube - AOL Britney Ms. South Carolina Don't Taze me bro parody
Don't Taze Me Bro Video
Leave Him Alone Don’t Taze Me Bro in The Iraq AOL Video » Popscribe

Parody Song Lyrics Leave Her Alone, She's Britney!

The truth about Tom

The One-Sided Romance of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy
Joan Klingel Ray

via AB

Ursid Meteor shower, Saturday

Fr. Z informs us about the Ursid Meteor shower which is taking place on Saturday. I might be interested in gazing at the sky for a glimpse, but where in the Bay Area does one go to do something like this? Probably somewhere in the hills, where there isn't as much light pollution...

Zenit: Papal Basilica to Open Ecumenical Chapel

Papal Basilica to Open Ecumenical Chapel

ROME, DEC. 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- An ecumenical chapel at St. Paul's Outside the Walls is one of the first initiatives of the upcoming Pauline year.

Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the papal basilica, announced plans for the chapel in an interview with L'Osservatore Romano.

The chapel will offer "the possibility for non-Catholic Christian communities to come and pray at the basilica and to celebrate liturgy," he said. It will be placed in a Greek-design baptistery, which was remodeled in the early 20th century.

"The altar, restored, will be one we found and removed during the recent excavations near the tomb of Paul, which have made the tomb visible to pilgrims," the cardinal explained.

On Monday, Cardinal Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo presented Benedict XVI with a program of the Pauline Year, to be celebrated from June 28, 2008, to June 29, 2009.

I don't know what to make of this. What would St. Pius V or St. Gregory the Great do? Are there limits to Christian hospitality? Perhaps there should be accomodations made for the Orthodox who might want to celebrate the divine liturgy near the tomb of St. Paul (if the Orthodox were the type to make pilgrimages to Latin churches), but should they be made for Protestants as well?

From Sandro Magister:
Overturned: The Church Can – and Must – Evangelize

The congregation for the doctrine of the faith has issued a note against the "growing confusion" that has penetrated even within missionary institutes. In deference to dialogue, these refuse to preach and to baptize. Two critical situations: Russia and the Muslim countries

A Test of Courage: Have the Nativity Painted by an Abstract Artist

The Italian bishops' conference has entrusted the illustration of the new Lectionary to thirty contemporary artists, with their styles. It's the first time that a liturgical book has been associated with modern images. An audacious undertaking – and one immediately criticized

Icon-writing may be "abstract" in so far as it is not realistic, but it is governed by certain rules in accordance with a spiritual purpose. Is the same true of modern abstract painting?

LG Cell phones


Models show LG Electronics' Orange Color Phone with an orange-accented keypad and sides released on Thursday. /Yonhap

Xiao Jimmy has discouraged me from buying Korean cell phones, but LG does have good advertising. hah!

LG Electronics Launches Orange Color Phone
lg mobile
LG그룹
LG 트윈스
LG Electronics Worldwide
LG싸이언

And:
Jo Su-mi on the Hardships of a Diva's Life

Thursday, December 20, 2007

AR: Agriculture: closing the circle

Agriculture: closing the circle
John Michael Greer, The Archdruid Report
Conventional wisdom holds that modern industrial agriculture is "more advanced" and thus by definition better than the alternatives. From an ecological standpoint, the reverse is true -- and understanding the primitive, backward nature of industrial agriculture offers a model that helps make sense of other transitions facing us.
published December 19, 2007.

original

Marion Cotillard

I saw A Good Year last week, and I thought I recognized Marion Cotillard's name... that's because she is in La Vie en Rose. What a transformation indeed! She really looks like a stick in the movie. (I suppose she could have lost weight for the part.)

Here she is in A Good Year:




And as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose:






Marion Cotillard Interview � LA VIE EN ROSE

cotillard.net
Magnifique Marion Cotillard
Marion has no regrets either The Courier-Mail
Marion Cotillard picture from the movie - Marion Cotillard movie ...

As for A Good Year... it is based on the "best-seller" by Peter Mayle, but I can't comprehend why the novel did so well, except that perhaps it appeals to people who desire a change of pace without sacrificing material comfort. Russell Crowe's character, Max Skinner, gives up a partnership and a "career" in trading for what? Not poverty. It's not clear that he doesn' t have some share in the (rather prosperous) winery, and his girlfriend, played by Marion Cotillard, owns a restaurant in town; and he still has a lot of $ left in his bank account. How different is this really from the dream to win the lottery so one can buy a home in the country, and just sit back and enjoy life? Not very much. There is supposedly a partial conversion-Max knows that he is selfish, but wants to have true love. But it is not a credible conversion; rather one is left thinking that he wasn't such a bad fellow all along.

The movie is technically good; I don't know how it compares to Scott's Matchstick Men. And it does capture some of the beauty of Provence. Still, the New Yorker says this: "The director, Ridley Scott, has trouble finding a suitable tempo and style. The movie is wildly overshot and overcut; the simplest scenes jump around from one angle to another. The filmmakers may love Provence, but they don’t trust the audience to love it—even as a travelogue, the movie is a cheat."


I also saw The Queen last week...


Despite the criticism of the monarchy that some read into the film, it's a contrived feel-good story, where everyone learns something from everyone else, everyone has good intentions and they're just misunderstood, etc. Does the movie advocate the abolition of the monarchy? No, but it does seem to say that the Royal family get with the times, and join the new, sentimental Britain. Even though the queen apparently adds a disclaimer at the end of the movie, complaining that she was forced to do what she had to do by the prime minister and public opinion.



I think the real story is much more complex than the movie attempts to portray it. One should refrain from speculating as to what happened in the royal palaces, especially when one does not have any credible sources.

Found this at the same source as the photo above:

Rania Al-Abdullah Queen of Jordan Official Web Site
Queen Rania of Jordan Image Gallery
Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah Of Jordan

No No Country for Old Men

Just read the spoiler for No Country for Old Men... whatever interest I had in seeing the movie has gone way, not because I know the plot details, but because I don't see any point in watching this sort of movie... there is evil in the world, and sometimes the good are powerless to stop it, but is this the sort of message I need? Why don't I watch The Hitcher (the original) instead? The Coen brothers are behind NCOM, and the movie might be well-done technically, but is such a movie really aesthetically pleasing? Does it inspire one to become noble? At least National Treasure 2 is fun fluff. (And it has Diane Kruger!) So I think I'll push for that for the movie outing this weekend (assuming that it does take place).

How does the original novel read? Would it be wrong to say that we are supposed to sympathize with Bell (Tommy Lee Jones's character) and feel horror when innocents are killed (especially one character in particular)? Still, I just can't get enthusiastic about such a story... I already feel like an old man, why do I need something to reinforce that.

National Treasure: Book Of Secrets
trailer
The Diane Kruger Picture Pages
Diane Kruger - Yahoo! Movies

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

UJH vids

Uhm Jung Hwa - Escape (Music Bank)


forget me not mv (joetni)


JJ 1000 Songs Challenge 120907

More Hyori vids

Hyori Lee and Lee JUn Ki - AnyCall


Anystar - Lee Hyo Ri Feat Lee Jun Ki & Park Bom


alt

[MV] Lee Hyori - Anystar


Lee Hyori, Jang Dong Gun & Lee Jun Ki - Giordano CF


Lee Hyori Complete Vidal Sassoon Commercial

Tuesday's happenings

As I was leaving the Cupertino library around 7, I noticed the Cupertino city council was having its meeting at the civic center. I think the meeting was being televised over local access cable--at the very least there were two tv screens inside the meeting room featuring the live feed. I was curious about what they were discussing, but didn't go inside. Maybe another meeting, though it may be an exercise in frustration. But even though my address is officially in the city, I don't really consider myself a resident or citizen. Not a citizen, because our conception of citizen is rather shallow. Not a resident because I'm in transition and haven't really settled down yet.

One of my friends was talking about how she voted for certain candidates running for the city council--she chose one particularly for his anti-development stance, and his promise to help Cupertino maintain it's "small town" image. Uh... small town? How about suburbs... I think Cupertino ceased being a small town a long time ago, before the orchards started disappearing.

I'd rather be reading stuff written in the Southern conservative tradition, to get a better acquaintance with American republicanism. Transaction Publishers issued a coupon for the holiday season.

Tonight I gave into my craving and went over to the El Pollo Loco on El Camino, in Sunnyvale. Not surprisingly, everyone working there was Hispanic--it reminded me of the Mexican fast food places in San Jose or Airzona. The future of California and certain other states? I find the grilled chicken to be much better than the roasted chicken from Costco or one of the local supermarket chains (Luckys or Safeway). The dark meat just falls of the bone and isn't dry. I don't know if the same can be said about the breast meat. El Pollo Loco is also open late (until 11 P.M.) -- not as late as In-n-Out, but good enough.

After picking up the food I walked over to Toys 'R Us to see if there were any jumpropes, since my mother wants to buy one for niece #1. I did find one jumprope, but it was $5.99 and rather fancy--it had a built-in counter in one of the handles, so one can count how many times one has jumped. It seems to me that such a think would break rather easily. When I came home I checked Amazon and there were some more simple jumpropes for sale. My mother has been unable to find a jumprope at Target and other stores--evidently such an item is judged to be too low-tech to satisfy the amusement needs of today's childrens. (Though there are plenty of girls at school who play with them.) Toys 'R Us seems so much smaller now... what a contrast to how I perceived it when I was 5 or 6. (And the selection of toys isn't that great.)

Afterwards I droppd by Borders... not much going on there. There a couple of books discussing globalization and outsourcing that I wanted to examine, but I didn't bring the titles with me. That little shopping plaza is usually packed with cars--PF Chang's is still popular, and there is also a Pasta Pomodoro and an Italian food market. (Does the market get enough business?)

I heard on the news that Britney Spears's 16-year-old sister is now pregnant. Ugh.

Heh, San Jose Sabercats are looking for some Saberkittens.

The other day I was thinking about how unruly boys can be, and how they need discipline, without being repressed or their masculinity seen as an illness. There were a couple of teenagers talking loudly and horsing around at the Cupertino Armadillo Willy's, oblivious that there needed to share the space with the other patrons of the restaurant. (They were standing between the pick-up counter and the soda dispensers.) The energy of boys needs to be channelled appropriately and released at the appropriate times; I just haven't figured out how to get them to wait until then.

Ever since my uncle "diagnosed" me with a leaky valve, I have experienced shortness of breath (or double breathing), which he said would be a symptom, as often as once as a day. Then there is the occasional pain on the left side--not inside the chest, but on the surface. I've had that before and asked a doctor about it once during a physical, and it's supposedly not a concern, but it seems to be happening more frequently. Maybe it's stress-related.

Iconographer Vladimir Grigorenko's website (via the Crunchy Con)


Masterpiece Theater's Complete Jane Austen

webpage

I'm not sure how many of them I would actually watch... the quality really varies, and none of the ones on ITV were that spectacular, according to the purists. Admittedly they are a very critical bunch and are not easily satisfied, but my sympathies lie with them. There have been complaints about the new Sense and Sensibility because of the creative license Andrew Davis claims to have taken.

Maybe my time would be better spent at an ECD/Contra Dance session in the peninsula. hahahaha.

Masterpiece Theater - Television - New York Times
Hrm Gillian Anderson to be one of the new hosts for the program.


Hrm, looks like this season of Spooks just ended... amazing how much one can miss in 5 months, when one doesn't have a regular internet connection... I'm looking forward to watching the episodes, and wonder if Adam Carter will be back next season. Supposedly it was to be his last... what will Rupert Penry-Jones fans do without their fix?

B16: On the Birth of Christ

On the Birth of Christ

"Like the Shepherds, We Hasten Our Steps Toward Bethlehem"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the reflection on Christmas that Benedict XVI delivered today at the general audience in Paul VI Hall.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

As we approach the great feast of Christmas, the liturgy encourages us to intensify our preparation, placing at our disposal numerous biblical texts from the Old and the New Testaments, which serve to motivate us to focus on the significance and value of this annual celebration.

On one hand, Christmas is a commemoration of the incredible miracle of the birth God's only son, born of the Virgin Mary in the cave of Bethlehem. On the other hand, Christmas exhorts us to keep watch and pray, waiting for our Redeemer, who will come "to judge the living and the dead."

Perhaps we today, even we believers, truly await the Judge; we all await justice. We see so much injustice in the world, in our small world, at home, in our neighborhoods, as well as in the large world of states, of societies. And we wait for justice to be done.

Justice is an abstract concept: Justice is done. We await the coming of the very one who can effect justice. In this context we pray: "Come, Lord, Jesus Christ, as judge, come as you must." The Lord knows how to enter the world and bring justice.

We ask the Lord, the Judge, to respond, to truly effect justice in the world. We await justice, but our demands with respect to others cannot be the only the expression of this waiting. The Christian significance of waiting for justice implies that we begin to live under the eyes of the Judge, according to the criteria of the Judge; that we begin to live in his presence, rendering justice in our lives. By being just, putting ourselves in the presence of the Judge, we await justice.

This is the meaning of Advent, of vigilance. The vigilance of Advent means to live under the eyes of the Judge and to prepare ourselves and the world for justice. By living under the eyes of the God-Judge, we can open the world to the arrival of his Son, preparing our heart to welcome "the Lord who comes."

The Child, adored 2,000 years ago by the shepherds in a cave of Bethlehem, never stops visiting us in our daily life as we, like pilgrims, walk toward the Kingdom. As he waits, the believer becomes the spokesperson for the hopes of all humankind; humanity longs for justice, and thus, though often unaware, waits for God, waits for the salvation that only God can give us.

For us Christians the wait is marked by assiduous prayer, as indicated by the particularly evocative series of invocations that are proposed to us in these days of the Christmas novena in the Mass, in the Gospel, and in the celebration of vespers, before the canticle of the Magnificat. Each appeal that implores the coming of Wisdom, the Sun of Justice, and God-With-Us, contains a prayer directed to the Awaited one of the nations, so that his arrival be hastened.

To invoke the gift of the birth of the promised Savior also means to commit myself to prepare the way, to prepare a worthy home not only in the environment around us, but above all in our souls. With the guidance of the Evangelist John, we try to turn our thoughts and hearts to the eternal Word, to the Logos, to the Word that has become flesh and has given us grace after grace (cf. 1:14,16).

This faith in the Creator Logos, in the Word that created the world, in the one who came like a Child, this faith and its great hope seem to be far from our daily public and private reality. It seems this truth is too great. We manage the best we can, so it seems at least. But the world is becoming more chaotic and violent: We witness this every day. And the light of God, the light of Truth, is put out. Life becomes dark and without a compass.

It is therefore very important that we are true believers, and as believers, that we reaffirm forcefully, with our lives, the mystery of salvation that comes with the celebration of Christ's birth! In Bethlehem, the Light which illumines our life was made manifest to the world; the Way which leads to the fullness of our humanity was revealed to us. What sense does it make to celebrate Christmas if we don't acknowledge that God has become man? The celebration becomes empty.

Before all else, we Christians have to reassert with deep and heartfelt conviction the truth of Christ's birth in order to bear witness before all the awareness of an unparalleled gift that enriches not only us, but everyone.

The duty of evangelization is to convey this "eu-angelion," the "good news." This was recalled by the document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith titled "Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization," which I would like to offer for your reflection and personal as well as communal study.

Dear friends, in these days of preparation leading up to Christmas the prayer of the Church intensifies, so that the hopes for peace, salvation, justice, and all that the world urgently needs, be made a reality. We ask God that violence be defeated by the power of love, that opposition be replaced by reconciliation, that the desire to dominate be transformed into desires for forgiveness, justice and peace.

May the wishes of kindness and love that we exchange in these days reach all sectors of our daily lives. May peace be in our hearts, so that we can be open to the action of God's mercy. May peace live in all families and may they spend Christmas united before the crib and the tree decorated with lights. May the Christmas message of solidarity and welcome contribute to create a deeper sensibility toward old and new types of poverty, and toward the common good that we are all called to share.

May all family members, especially the children and the elderly -- the weakest ones -- feel the warmth of this feast, and may that warmth spread out through every day of the year. May Christmas be a celebration of peace and joy: joy for the birth of the Savior, Prince of peace. Like the shepherds, we hasten our steps toward Bethlehem. In the heart of the Holy Night we will be able to contemplate the "infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger," together with Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:12,16).

We ask the Lord to open our soul, so that we can enter the mystery of his birth. May Mary, who gave her virginal womb to the Word of God, who contemplated the child between her arms, and who offers him to everyone as the Redeemer of the world, help us make next Christmas a moment of growth in the knowledge and love of Christ. This is the wish that I warmly extend to you all, to your families and your dear ones.

Merry Christmas to you all!

[Translation by Laura Leoncini]

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in six languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims and students present at this Audience, especially those from the United States of America. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the Lord's blessings of health and joy during this holy Season.

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

From Energy Bulletin

Why are Canadians the world's energy pigs?
Canada is rich, big and cold, and we share two borders with the United States. Those factors explain why we are the world’s energy pigs, but they do not justify it.

Welcome to Fantasy Air
Roger Bezdek asks a question that answers itself: "What is more important: Food or cheap air fares to Las Vegas and Vail?"

From Economics--Dec. 18
The consensus is moving from the soft vs. hard landing debate towards how severe the hard landing will be
Nouriel Roubini, Global EconoMonitor
While a few months ago analysts were still heatedly debating whether the US would experience a soft landing or a hard landing (a recession) the center of the macro debate has now clearly shifted away from soft landing versus hard landing discussion to a recognition that a hard landing is the most likely scenario; thus, increasingly now the debate is on how deep and severe the forthcoming hard landing will be.

David Rosenberg of Merrill Lynch is now clearly predicting a recession for the US economy in 2008; Jan Hatzius at Goldman Sachs is not formally speaking of a certain recession in 2008 but most of his analysis is consistent with a high likelihood of a recession in 2008; Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com is also very close to a hard landing view.

More interesting now even the thoughtful Richard Berner - who used to be strongly in the soft landing camp while his counterpart Steve Roach was in the hard landing camp - is now predicting a recession in the US in 2008, even if he expects such a recession to be mild.
(11 December 2007)

WTO Director Pascal Lamy: "Capitalism Cannot Satisfy Us"
Daniel Fortin and Mathieu Magnaudeix, Challenges (English version at Truthout)
World Trade Organization Director Pascal Lamy, one of globalization's shrewdest observers, rehabilitates the Marxist criticism of capitalism.

Food&Agriculture--Dec. 18

Our Decrepit Food Factories

Michael Pollan, New York Times Magazine

The Price of Things
Sharon Astyk, Casaubon's Book
(a response to John Michael Greer)

see her list of recommended reading:
The Best Books About Nearly Everything - Part I
Part II
Books to Help Us Understand Where We Are Now

Gene Logsdon, What kind of tree do acorns grow on?

What kind of tree do acorns grow on?
A teacher friend called recently with a strange message. “I just found out that a lot of people don’t know what tree acorns grow on.”

Sense and Sensibility 2008 trailer



quicktime; zipped

another

via Austen Blog

BBC site

Doug Noland, Face to Face with Reality

Face to face with reality

Mother Jones: The Last Empire: China's Pollution Problem Goes Global

The Last Empire: China's Pollution Problem Goes Global

cited by Bill Bonner in his post today--The China Effect

CHINA
The value of property and financial stocks dropping
Investors are concerned about government moves in these sectors to fight rising inflation. Stakeholders wonder what Beijing will do. Tighter bank lending might cut liquidity to small enterprises, which are the engine of the economy. Experts propose raising salaries to deal with the situation.

World Bank: the Chinese economy is overvalued by 40%
The new estimate doesn't consider the gross domestic product, but actual "purchasing power", which is believed to be more realistic. The Chinese economy "loses" 3,486 trillion dollars, but remains in second place in the global rankings. Experts: these data demonstrate how serious the problem of poverty still is in the country.

Mgr Jia Zhiguo freed, should be back in police custody very soon
Catholics in the diocese of Zhengding say the bishop was freed because of his family’s repeated requests. An uncle is very sick and wants to see him before he dies. But the prelate is set to be rearrested in a few days, but it is unclear whether it will be before or after Christmas.

From Asia Times:
China rubber demand
stretches Laos

Chinese investors are pouring money into developing rubber plantations across Laos. Local farmers benefit, earning as much as eight times the profit they would get from opium production. At the same time, forests are being cleared in an unsustainable manner, land-use rights are trodden on and control over the industry is left in the hand of foreigners. - Brian McCartan

2 Hobbit movies to be made?

From AICN:

Here Come THE HOBBIT(s)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


And a review of Cloverfield:

AICN WORLD EXCLUSIVE! Neill Cumpston Has Seen CLOVERFIELD MONSTER GOES APESHIT!

There's a part of me who is interested in seeing this movie.

Zenit: "Lectio Divina" Seen as a Compass and Spiritual GPS

"Lectio Divina" Seen as a Compass and Spiritual GPS

Site on Meditation of Scripture Aims to Attract Youth

By Miriam Díez i Bosch

ROME, DEC. 18, 2007 (Zenit.org).- A "spiritual GPS" and a "compass for life" are two images that have been used to illustrate the importance of reading the Bible, says a Catholic consultor for the United Biblical Societies.

Ricardo Grozna said this to ZENIT when commenting on the Web site www.lectionautas.com, which offers guides for "lectio divina," or the meditative reading of Scripture, and aims especially to attract youth. It already has 50,000 users.

"To define 'lectio divina' as a GPS [Global Positioning System] is to see in it a satellite that tells us where we are, like a compass, which indicates to us the path to follow," Grozna said. He commented that Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, "has referred to 'lectio divina' as a GPS, and the Pope has defined the Bible as a 'compass for life.'"

Sacred Scripture "is a book that interprets my life; the Bible ends up being like a mirror that helps me, and teaches me to seek a path," Grozna added. "For years, Pope John Paul II and then Benedict XVI insisted a great deal that 'lectio divina,' which was a method of monastic prayer of the monks, could reach all Christians."

Novel evangelization

The program of "lectio divina" on the Internet consists in offering users texts and MP3 files. Users are chiefly youth who download the audio files on their mobile phones. Grozna explained that the aim of the program is to train young people who can lead other youth in reading the Bible.

"The Church is taking all the programs promoting biblical reading as a priority," explained Grozna, pointing especially to his experience in Latin America. "Catholics have delayed a little in rediscovering the Bible, but the Bible has always been present in the Church. [...] I don't read the Bible, it is the Bible that reads me."

Grozna said the site's success is shown by hundreds of e-mail messages from youth telling "how they are changing their lives by following the prayerful reading."

The method is also ecumenical, he added: "'Lectio divina' has been a point for moving forward in dialogue with other Christian brothers." And it also serves as a social apostolate, "In some countries, the parish youth are using the method of 'lectio divina' to reach ostracized youth; those who are in very poor neighborhoods, those who have been victims of drugs, violence, gangs."

Hugo Flores, manager of the site, was in Rome to present the program. He told ZENIT the program has been well received by theologians and biblical scholars. "They have taken 'lectio divina' as a point to help them evangelize and carry the word of the Lord to more groups. Cardinals, bishops, priests ... they are fascinated with this novelty, this new form of evangelizing through the Internet."


Also from Zenit:
When a Church Is Desacralized
6-Year-Old on Way to Sainthood

Monday, December 17, 2007

A question about sewage treatment

It seems that green alternatives to modern sewage treatment are practical only for homes that are at some distance from one another, or at the very least, located near a plot of land, where the end-product can be used as fertilizer and so on. Can these alternatives be applied in small towns and cities? Or is it impossible even for small towns and cities to be environmentally friendly, at least with respect to fostering a local ecology and nuturing the cycle of life? How much sewage can be disposed of (without importing nutrients and so on to replenish the land) before this begins to have negative consequences? And what happens to the products of modern sewage treatment plants?

Lee Honey photo


Lee Honey, Miss Korea 2006, plays the twelve-string Korean harp, or gayageum, at an event to celebrate the 22nd Golden Disk Awards at Olympic Hall in Seoul on Friday. /Newsis


Archbishop Marini coming to BC

FroM Fr. Z's post--he will be there on February 11 and 12?

With promoters of the Bugnini reform like Marini (and Cardinal Daneels as well?), I'm surprised that Eamon Duffy was ever invited to talk about Pope Benedict XVI and the liturgy two years ago. Maybe someone thought his critical remarks about the reform and some of the popes would make up for the rest of what he had to say. It doesn't surprise me that the powers that be at BC (especially within the Jesuit community and the theology department) would welcome Marini as a "liturgical expert."

Lex orandi, lex credendi.

Article by John Allen on the launching of Archbishop Marini's book in London.
Shawn Tribe's post
Review of the book by Alcuin Reid.

In other news--the FSSP apostolate in Rome has been elevated to a personal parish.

Dominican O Antiphons

Dominican version of the O Antiphons

Blog for the province of St. Joseph (eastern province)

via NLM I think...

PCR, Shrinking the Dollar from the Inside-Out

Paul Craig Roberts

Keira Knightley in the Duchess

























Links

KK plays Georgiania Spencer/Georgiana Cavendish. Will she be any more successful than Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette? Were stick figures considered beautiful in the 18th century? And how similar were the lives of the 'aristocracy' to those of the modern-day rich and famous? The film is apparently based on the bio by Amanda Foreman. How does the quality of the bio compare to the one written of Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser?

Sanjuro remake

poster 1, 2, 3

I don't know why the studio thought it was necessary to remake a Kurosawa classic, except perhaps to get some money by casting one of Japan's popular actors (Yuji Oda)...

official website; trailer; poster gallery

teaser:


Japan Times review; Yomiuri Shinbun review

Zenit: Benedict XVI to Japanese Bishops

Benedict XVI to Japanese Bishops

"Other Nations Can Learn From the Witness to Peace"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of an address Benedict XVI gave today in English upon receiving in audience the bishops of Japan, in Rome for their five-yearly visit.

* * *

Dear Brother Bishops,

I am pleased to welcome you on your ad Limina visit, as you come to venerate the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. I thank you for the kind words that Archbishop Peter Takeo Okada has addressed to me on your behalf, and I offer you my warmest good wishes and prayers for yourselves and all the people entrusted to your pastoral care. You have come to the city where Peter carried out his mission of evangelization and bore witness to Christ even to the shedding of his blood-and you have come to greet Peter's Successor. In this way you strengthen the apostolic foundations of the Church in your country and you express visibly your communion with all the other members of the College of Bishops and with the Roman Pontiff (cf. Pastores Gregis, 8). I want to take this opportunity to reiterate my sorrow at the recent passing of Cardinal Stephen Hamao, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerants, and to express my appreciation for his years of service to the Church. In his person he exemplified the bonds of communion between the Church in Japan and the Holy See. May he rest in peace.

Last year the Church celebrated with great joy the five hundredth anniversary of the birth of Saint Francis Xavier, Apostle of Japan. I join you in giving thanks to God for the missionary work that he carried out in your land, and for the seeds of Christian faith that he planted at the time of Japan's first evangelization. The need to proclaim Christ boldly and courageously is a continuing priority for the Church; indeed it is a solemn duty laid upon her by Christ who enjoined the Apostles to "go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News to all creation" (Mk 16:16). Your task today is to seek new ways of bringing alive the message of Christ in the cultural setting of modern Japan. Even though Christians form only a small percentage of the population, the faith is a treasure that needs to be shared with the whole of Japanese society. Your leadership in this area needs to inspire clergy and religious, catechists, teachers, and families to offer an explanation for the hope that they possess (cf. 1 Pet 3:15). This in turn requires sound catechesis, based on the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium. Let the light of the faith so shine before others, that "they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Mt 5:16).

Indeed the world is hungry for the message of hope that the Gospel brings. Even in countries as highly developed as yours, many are discovering that economic success and advanced technology are not sufficient in themselves to bring fulfilment to the human heart. Anyone who does not know God "is ultimately without hope, without the great hope that sustains the whole of life" (Spe Salvi, 27). Remind people that there is more to life than professional success and profit. Through the practice of charity, in the family and in the community, they can be led towards "that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others" (Deus Caritas Est, 31). This is the great hope that Christians in Japan can offer their compatriots; it is not foreign to Japanese culture, but rather it reinforces and gives new impetus to all that is good and noble in the heritage of your beloved nation. The well-merited respect which the citizens of your country show towards the Church, on account of her fine contribution in education, health care and many other fields, gives you an opportunity to engage with them in dialogue and to speak joyfully to them of Christ, the "light that enlightens every man" (Jn 1:9). Young people especially are at risk of being deceived by the glamour of modern secular culture. Yet, like all the greater and lesser hopes that appear on first sight to promise so much (cf. Spe Salvi, 30), this turns out to be a false hope - and tragically, disillusion not infrequently leads to depression and despair, even to suicide. If their youthful energy and enthusiasm can be directed towards the things of God, which alone are sufficient to satisfy their deepest longings, more young people will be inspired to commit their lives to Christ, and some will recognize a call to serve him in the priesthood or the religious life. Invite them to consider whether this may be their vocation. Never be afraid to do so. Encourage your priests and religious likewise to be active in promoting vocations, and lead your people in prayer, asking the Lord to "send out labourers into his harvest" (Mt 9:38).

The Lord's harvest in Japan is increasingly made up of people of diverse nationalities, to the extent that over half of the Catholic population is formed of immigrants. This provides an opportunity to enrich the life of the Church in your country and to experience the true catholicity of God's people. By taking steps to ensure that all are made to feel welcome in the Church, you can draw on the many gifts that the immigrants bring. At the same time, you need to remain vigilant in ensuring that the liturgical and disciplinary norms of the universal Church are carefully observed. Modern Japan has wholeheartedly chosen to engage with the wider world, and the Catholic Church, with its universal outreach, can make a valuable contribution to this process of ever greater openness to the international community.

Other nations can also learn from Japan, from the accumulated wisdom of her ancient culture, and especially from the witness to peace that has characterized her stance on the world political stage in the last sixty years. You have made the voice of the Church heard on the enduring importance of this witness, all the greater in a world where armed conflicts bring so much suffering to the innocent. I encourage you to continue to speak on matters of public concern in the life of your nation, and to ensure that your statements are promoted and widely disseminated, so that they may be properly heard at all levels within society. In this way, the message of hope that the Gospel brings can truly touch hearts and minds, leading to greater confidence in the future, greater love and respect for life, increasing openness towards the stranger and the sojourner in your midst. "The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life" (Spe Salvi, 2).

In this regard, the forthcoming Beatification of 188 Japanese martyrs offers a clear sign of the strength and vitality of Christian witness in your country's history. From the earliest days, Japanese men and women have been ready to shed their blood for Christ. Through the hope of these people "who have been touched by Christ, hope has arisen for others who were living in darkness and without hope" (Spe Salvi, 8). I join you in giving thanks to God for the eloquent testimony of Peter Kibe and his companions, who have "washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb" and now serve God day and night within his temple (Rev 7:14f.).

In this Advent season, the whole Church looks forward eagerly to the celebration of our Saviour's birth. I pray that this time of preparation may be for you and for the whole Church in Japan an opportunity to grow in faith, hope, and love, so that the Prince of Peace may truly find a home in your hearts. Commending all of you and your priests, religious and lay faithful to the intercession of Saint Francis Xavier and the Martyrs of Japan, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

O Antiphons

sung by Scott Turkington

links to the audio files at NLM

Mike Whitney, The Collapse of the Modern Day Banking System

The Collapse of the Modern Day Banking System
Staring Into the Abyss

By MIKE WHITNEY

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Roman Office

I was re-reading Professor Dobszay's excellent Critical Reflections on the Bugnini Liturgy: The Divine Office last night and came upon his suggestions for the distribution of psalms in a restoration of the Roman Office (p. 24 ff). Maybe this is what I've been looking for--I wonder if his suggestions can be adopted for personal use?

SF and SP

news via NLM

Is there politicking involved between Archbishop Niederauer, the chancery, and the preists of the archdiocese? Or is the archbishop the sole factor?

Many of the vocations for the diocese of San Jose are from two parishes: the Korean community and the Vietnamese community (at St. Maria Goretti, iirc). What's the picture like for San Francisco? Both dioceses need strong reforming bishops...