Thursday, December 31, 2009
The power of pink
The 'pinkification' of little girls – their clothes, their bedrooms, their toys – is a very recent phenomenon. So why did the launch this month of a campaign against the colour's dominance cause such uproar?
The campaign, PinkStinks, started out with the aim of offering girls positive alternative role models, says Emma, "women who do amazing things. Scientists and sportswomen and musicians and businesswomen and activists." Trying to reverse the seemingly unstoppable tide of pink was simply another way, they felt, of challenging what they saw as rampant and unacceptable gender stereotyping, from earliest childhood.The imposition of color preferences seems to be arbitary, but it's the feminist deconstructionism that is the real danger to children. Children may choose a certain color because of certain associations; they may also reject it because it is known to be the preferred by members of the other sex. One does not have to be a cultural Marxist to acknowledge this. However, just as physical differences provide the matter for deeper differences between the sexes, so awareness of physical difference is the foundation of identity-formation; learning the virtues proper to one's sex is grounded upon this awareness of what one is. Those boys and girls who are outliers should undoubtedly be given careful attention so that they do not reject their sexual identity completely.
Only dualists and gnostics believe that the soul (or mind) can be completely severed from the body. The spiritual nature of the soul leads many to believe that its flexibility, potentiality, and universality can be extended to the body as well, when plainly this is not the case.
Feminists are definitely committed to their cause, seeking to extend their worldview where possible. Meanwhile they are miserable living in conformity with their beliefs, or find happiness by being hypocrites.
The website PinkStinks.
Some have complained that the cult of personality that exists during liturgies and other events is even more shocking or lamentable, but given the prominence given to the Holy Father as celebrant, can anything else be expected? Especially if the liturgy still seems to be clericalist, at least with respect to the procession. It may be impossible to restore the procession of all tlhe faithful into the church before the beginning of the liturgy, at St. Peter's or anywhere else, but what can be done to remind the people that it is Christ Himself who is present to act during the divine liturgy, and that the person of the priest celebrating the liturgy is of secondary importance?
There are problems with huge gatherings for the celebration of the liturgy, even within a church or cathedral or basilica, at least within the Roman rite.
One word of caution, though: readers expecting me to offer them a ticket to Utopia are going to be disappointed. There’s a common notion that everything that’s wrong in the world is the fault of the institutions or personalities officially in charge, and can be fixed by replacing them with some other set of institutions or personalities. That notion has been tested more thoroughly by history than any other hypothesis I can think of in the social sciences, and it’s failed abjectly every time. Maybe we should finally get around to admitting that people will not behave like angels no matter how (or whether) they are governed, or who (if anyone) does the governing; and, in the process, admit that human beings are incurably human – that is, capable of the full spectrum of good and evil all by themselves – rather than moral puppets who can be expected to dance on command to the tune of a good or evil system.
It’s easy to come up with a perfect system of human society, so long as it doesn’t have to work in the real world, and it’s very easy to compare a perfect system on paper to the failings of a system in the real world, to the latter’s detriment. Nearly always, though, what John Kenneth Galbraith said about innovation in finance is just as true of innovation in political and social institutions: what gets ballyhooed as new and revolutionary thinking is normally the repetition of a fairly small set of fallacies that worked very poorly the last dozen or so times they were tried, and will work just as poorly this time, too. Those systems that function at all are fairly few in number, though there are a lot of minor variations on the basic themes, and the ones we’ve got now – representative democracy in politics, a market system in economics – have certain advantages. Though the current examples are troubled, corrupt, and at very high risk of being overwhelmed by the consequences of some very bad decisions made over the last few decades, the basic systems are noticeably less dysfunctional most of the time than most of the alternatives.
By WINSLOW T. WHEELER
Recall, please, how the Senate was designed in the Constitution. If you want efficiency and quick turn around in governance and legislation, you want a very different system. Clog and delay were built in from the get go -- quite consciously. Guaranteeing minority rights was a central tenet of the design – as it is of democracy.
The filibuster is merely one of a thousand ways a small number of senators, even just one, can clog the system. Unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate was never intended to operate by majority rule; it was designed to operate by “unanimous consent.” That means, as we observed during the endless non-debate of the health care bill, that one senator can demand that the entire text of any bill or amendment must be read aloud – word by audible word – if one member simply utters the words “I object” at the appropriate moment. It also means that nominations, even bills, can be held up for days, weeks, even months before a majority leader tries to start what passes for debate in the Senate these days. And, it means any and all committee hearings must be shut down any time the Senate is in session – and a senator objects. The Senate rules are an almost endless opportunity for mischief, or worse, for any member or faction wanting to play the role – just like the racist Southern Democrats did in the 1960s when they stood, insistently and almost endlessly, in the way of civil rights bills.
The way the Senate operates also means that any senator with the brains and guts to hamstring George W. Bush’s blustering the country into war in October, 2002 could have done so. (But alas, there was no such senator.) It is a system designed, for good or ill, to permit a minority – sometimes tiny – to interpose itself, as obnoxiously or as honorably as they may choose.
Eliminate all that, and what do you get? You get the House of Representatives. If you want to fix the gridlock problem in Congress and fix it good, the best thing to do is to eliminate the Senate.
It’s a bad idea if you like democracy. As designed, the Senate has an important role: cooling the heels of excess, either from an overreaching executive or the House where the majority can run any tyranny it pleases.
The Senate is also supposed to serve the intersts of the states, and not of political parties, no?
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Given the diverse origins of those who settled the colonies and the relatively easy mobility of Americans once settled, along with the low threshold for the formation of communities, could a fragmented religious identity have been avoided?
Conservative Christians are right to complain that they are being persecuted by the government, and I do not have a solution to this grave problem except to suggest that they are wasting their time in trying to change the laws. Instead, they might consider the example of early Christians living under the pagan Roman Empire. Most Christians paid their taxes to Caesar, served in Caesar’s army, and were good neighbors and loyal citizens of Caesar’s empire. They did not engage in futile protests about infanticide, nor did they abuse and insult their pagan neighbors. They minded their own business, went to church, and prayed for the empire’s conversion. If today’s American Christians had the faith of a mustard seed, they would spurn the false prophets who have enslaved them to a party or political ideology and go about their Master’s business.
This is an older piece meant to accompany this article: Churchless States and Stateless Churches I.
Crusades Encyclopedia profile
Rethinking the Crusades | Jonathan Riley-Smith
The Venetian Crusade of 1122-1124 (pdf)
The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam
See also Interview with Rodney Stark. (Professor Stark's page.) He is the author of God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades.
It is unquestionable that Pius XII intervened to save countless Jews at a time most nations--even FDR's America--refused to accept these refugees. He issued false baptismal papers and obtained visas for them to emigrate as "Non Aryan Catholic-Jews." He smuggled Jews into the Americas and Asia. He ordered the lifting of cloister for men and women to enter monasteries, convents and churches to hide 7,000 Jews of Rome in a single day.So is the issuing of false documents an instance of lying or not?
Certainly the Senate bill, and the only slightly less cruddy House version, with which it must be reconciled (let’s be clear here that the ultimate act, when passed, will much more closely hew to the Senate version than the House version, given the number of conservative Democrats in the Senate), does a few good things, such as increasing funding for community health clinics, expanding Medicaid, the health insurance system for the poor, and banning the current insurance industry practice of denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions. But these small positive steps pale in comparison to the truly noxious things this bill does, and the things it fails to do.
The most outrageous thing the health “reform” bill does is further consolidate the death grip that the insurance industry has over health care access and delivery in America. It does this by mandating that everyone buy health insurance, on pain of being slapped with a heavy fine by the IRS. Since most of the 47 million Americans without health insurance are younger and healthier than average, what this measure does is hand the private insurance industry a huge captive customer population who will be stuck with high-cost, low-benefit insurance that will generate huge profits for the industry. The industry will be further enriched by nearly half a trillion dollars in subsidies needed to help low-income people or small businesses buy their mandated health insurance--subsidies which will end up going directly to insurance companies, which will be offering in return wretched bare-bones plans that will only cover some 60% of actual medical costs.
Supporters say that mandating that everyone have health insurance is akin to mandating that every driver of a car buy liability insurance, but there actually is a huge difference. Driving is a matter of choice. If a person doesn’t want to buy car insurance, she or he can decide not to own a car. That reality at least forces auto insurers to compete in offering low-cost minimal insurance plans. Nobody can decide not to buy health insurance under this plan though. It is a historic first: a law requiring American citizens to buy a service from a private company.
Adding insult to injury, the bill does almost nothing to limit costs. This is why doctors, hospital and drug companies and the insurance industry, all of which spend millions of dollars lobbying for this law, love it (health insurance company shares jumped on word of Senate passage). Indeed, the government’s own Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), predicts that the law, if enacted, will cause US health care costs--already the highest in the world on a per capita basis and as a share of GDP by a factor of almost two--to rise faster than ever. Furthermore, to keep the projected costs of this bill at an alleged $871 billion over ten years, a huge amount of money is stolen from important existing programs, including $43 billion from payments to safety-net hospitals (mostly public institutions in urban centers which serve poor populations), and from cuts in Medicare funding that could for the first time lead significant numbers of physicians to stop seeing elderly patients on Medicare.
The reform plan is terrible for other important reasons too. In order to sell it to one lone hold-out Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Senate leaders allowed strict limits to be put into the bill making it almost impossible for low-income women or families to buy insurance that includes payments for abortions. The bill also undermines trade unions by taxing, at a rate of as much as 40%, those health plans which, through years of negotiations, offered quality care to workers. As the group Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) points out, group health insurance costs are also largely driven by geographical and demographic considerations, and thus this penalty tax actually targets workplaces that employ more women, or that have older workers, or which are located in higher-cost regions such as New York or California.
But surely the worst thing about this bill is that far from putting the US on a course towards some eventual humane national health system like those that exist in the rest of the developed world, and even in many countries in the less developed world, it actually locks in the power of the insurance industry even more solidly, making achieving true health reform an even more difficult challenge than it has been.
Nonetheless while doing a search for his explanation of nationalism as a left-wing phenomenon (and it is), and not "right-wing," I was reminded that the internet is pretty much useless for fostering the search for truth.
Does positive law destroy any claim that there is a natural "right" to secession? Is a colony different in nature from an independent polity? On what grounds can the claims of the sovereign power by nullified? When can sovereignty or authority be lost? Is a colony bound to perpetual submission and obedience? What are the "legal" means for establishing independence? Is the only valid way through obtaining permission from the sovereign authority?
One could argue that the claim of sovereignty is invalidated when the sovereign power acts unjustly, or against the common good of the colony. What if it is an unreasonable extension of power? The principle of subsidiarity could come into play here -- decisions-making should be done in the colony as much as possible. (It would seem that some were content to accept this, with Parliament having ultimate sovereignty but exercising it only in certain matters.)
But do the virtuous have a right to rule that should not be denied?
Will these two well-known Hollywood liberals, who despise traditional culture, rationalize their inability to stay together? "We just moved to different places in our lives," or some other feel-good, self-actualizing garbage?
Monday, December 28, 2009
In the series 8 finale of Spooks, Ros and Lucas have to evacuate the Home Secretary and the Pakistani president to safety, after a bomb is found in the hotel in which talks between India and Pakistan are being held. Both the Home Secretary and the Pakistani president have been paralyzed by drugs, so the MI5 agents have to carry them out. Ros admits that she is weaker, and tells Lucas that he must bring the Pakistani president to safety first, since if he dies, war will ensue between India and Pakistan. Ros is left behind to struggle with carrying the Home Secretary.
A female agent is having problems carrying her principal to safety? When she is regularly tasked with protection detail? How many women are physically capable of bringing an adult male to safety, even if they are just dragging him (as it is required in firefighter and LEO physical fitness exams)? And if dragging is too slow, and danger requires a faster evacuation, can they do a one-man carry?
Even with somewhat lower oil prices in 2009, the airlines still hemorrhaged losses in the billions, and if the oil price remains in the current zone some of them will fall back into bankruptcy in 2010. Oil prices may go down again in response to crippled economies, but then so will passengers looking to fly anywhere, especially the business fliers that the airlines have depended on to fill the higher-priced seats. I believe United will be the first one to go down in 2010, a hateful moron of a company that deserves to die.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I saw the trailer and a scene from part 2. The classic series may have been meant for children, but it wasn't so dumbed down that adults couldn't enjoy it, and the villains could be serious, the moral questions deep. People defend Russell T. Davies, because he is the man who brought back the show, but I would rather there be no show, then for it to be so adulterated and childish. Modifying the show so that it appeals to the young, given the state of the young these days, is guaranteed to make it bad, even if a few episodes here and there are actually quite good.
We see the return of the Time Lords in part 1; if you watch the exclusive scene, it turns out they are not from a period after the end of the Time War, but right before it -- right before they are killed off by the Doctor. The Lord President is holding on to life, and is very tyrannical, openly killing those who oppose him. Gone are the days when political opponents were eliminated through subterfuge and deceit and perhaps behind-the-scenes murder. Instead the Time Lords seem to have become like their enemies, the daleks. This may have made for an interesting story, stretched out for a season or two -- the descent of the Time Lords into wickedness or madness, but this is not the route RTD decided to take. Instead everything is crammed into an hour, and I am going to guess that story development will suffer. The fall of the Time Lords will not be taken seriously as a moral lesson. (What we could learn from an empire's death, which it hastens by hanging on to power too long!) Instead, we will have an over-the-top villain with whom we cannot sympathize -- he's just a madman.
I never thought the Time Lords should have been done away with, at least not permanently, and bringing Paul McGann back to do a series or two on the Time War would have been a gift to the fans. They could also have taken the series to Gallifrey, brought back Romana, and so on -- too much time spent on Earth can be a waste, especially if it is contemporary Earth and none of its problems are taken seriously. (This is supposed to be science fiction, not a soap opera.)
As I've said before, this all could have been handled much better -- I suppose it will have to be left to those who write fan fiction and Doctor Who novels.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Oatmeal is a healthful food and now there’s an easier way to grow and process your own. The problem has always been the hulls which grip the groats so tightly that getting them off is difficult.
I can't say that I like having oatmeal for breakfast...
Holy Father's Christmas Message
"God Still Kindles Fires in the Night of the World" [2009-12-25]
Benedict XVI's Address to University Students
"Helping Others to See the True Face of God Is the First Form of Love" [2009-12-25]
"This Child Is Totally Unique and His Coming a Transforming Moment"
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Benedict XVI's Christmas Vigil Homily
"God Is Important, by Far the Most Important Thing in Our Lives" [2009-12-24]
Papal Address to Saints Congregation
"Holiness Means Constantly Striving for a High Standard of Christian Living" [2009-12-24]
Pope's Christmas Greeting to Curia
"The Year Now Ending Was to a Great Extent Marked by Africa" [2009-12-24]
by Shaorong Huang and Wenshan Jia
The Washington Post: Obama lists financial rescue as 'most important thing' of his first year
"Overall, if you had a checklist of promises made, a lot of those promises have been kept," Obama said. "When those things are complete, and I think they will be, we will have achieved a fundamental shift in health care, energy, education and our financial regulatory system that will put this economy on a firmer footing to grow over the long term."
You cannot be serious.
The New Scot's uncle discouraged him from joining the military for a few of those reasons.
With this background in mind, consider please the argument made by Anne Friedman and ask yourself if too much water has now gone over the dam for us to correct the wrongs we have inflicted on the Afghan people, including, indirectly, afghan the women[sic].
When will the do-gooders in power just swallow their pride, shut up, and leave other people alone?
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico – Four suspected members of a cartel-aligned hit squad have been arrested in the slaying of the family of a Mexican marine hailed as a hero for dying in a raid that killed a top drug lord.
Tabasco state Attorney General Rafael Gonzalez said gunmen from the Zeta gang killed the mother, two siblings and an aunt of marine Melquisedet Angulo. He said four Zeta associates believed to have indirect roles in the attack had been detained, but the killers remained at large.
The slayings of Angulo's relatives early Tuesday just hours after his memorial service was widely viewed as a chilling warning from the Beltran Layva cartel that the families of soldiers and police could now suffer for the government's campaign against drug traffickers.
President Felipe Calderon called the attack on the marine's family "a cowardly act" and vowed to press forward with his war on the cartels involving more than 45,000 Mexican troops.
Angulo was the only marine who died in a Dec. 16 raid that set off a two-hour firefight that killed drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva and six of his bodyguards.
The Zetas, former military elite-turned-hit men, have allied with the Beltran Leyva cartel in recent years.
Is there nothing to military discipline in Mexico that would prevent some former members from becoming so mercenary?
There is some discussion of Evangelion thrown in the comments. The post is for mature readers only -- some of the language used by the author and some of the commenters isn't suitable for polite company.
What, then, of the power of audiovisual art and books to inspire? Is the AV medium really that effective, in comparison to poetry and literature? Does it do more than reinforce attitudes? It would seem that the AV medium can be an effective means of conditioning certain viewer to have various attitudes and behaviors. But does the prevalence of anime and mange in Japan explain why some Japanese men are the way they are? Or does the author of the post overreach?
To be clear, if this were a private university or a religious college, I would find this obnoxious, but only that. But this is a public university. I would be appalled if the school tried to force future teachers to sign off on some right-wing cultural agenda as a condition of their education too.
Once again, Mr. Dreher is trying to appear to be the moderate good guy who avoids both extremes, and advocates a "neutral" learning atmosphere, where all source of controversy is excluded--namely morality and culture. What is the purpose of education? If it is merely to impart vocational education, why should the state be involved at all? If there is more to education than the acquisition of art or techne, namely, the acquisition of morals, than does the state not have the competence to determine that education? Putting aside the question of whether book learning is the right approach to moral formation, let us pose the question to Mr. Dreher: if the right-wing cultural agenda (which Rod Dreher is supposed to believe in) is the correct and true one, then why shouldn't it be imposed on teachers, who have a major influence on the raising of children? And if it cannot be imposed, then should not people who do not have the right character and beliefs be excluded by parents from having any sort of contact with their children?
Only a purely "technical" education can be moral-free, but it seems to me that teachers need more than the art of teaching and expertise in the skills they seek to impart. Teachers cannot but be a transmitter of some tradition or culture or values, given the amount of time they spend with children. To withhold such transmission is not only to starve children of the spiritual formation that they need, but to give them the impression that there is nothing deeper to human life.
Especially characteristic of your pastoral involvement is and remains your commitment to the "movements": the charismatic movement, Communion and Liberation and the Neocatechumenal Way have many reasons to be grateful to you. While in the beginning the organizers and planners in the Church had many reservations in regard to the movements, you immediately sensed the life that burst forth from them -- the power of the Holy Spirit that gives new paths and in unpredictable ways keeps the Church young.
You recognized the pentecostal character of these movements and you worked passionately so that they would be welcomed by the Church's pastors. Certainly, with respect to organization and planning, there were often good reasons to be scandalized as they brought new and unforeseen elements that could not always be integrated easily into the existing organizational structures.
You saw that what is organic is more important than what is organized; you saw that here were men who were deeply touched by the spirit of God and that in such a way there grew new forms of authentic Christian life and authentic ways of being Church. Of course, these movements needed to be ordered and brought within the totality; they needed to learn to recognize their limits and to become part of the communitarian reality of the Church in her proper constitution together with the Pope and the bishops. Thus they need a guide and purification to be able to reach the form of their true maturity.
They, nevertheless, are gifts to be grateful for. It is no longer possible to think of the life of the Church of our time without including these gifts of God within it.
I don't see anything here that would contradict the assertion that ecclesial movements are meant to be temporary solutions to fundamental problems plaguing the local Churches.
By Kari Lydersen, AlterNet (via Carolyn Baker)
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Current renewable energy technologies must be adopted in conjunction with aggressive Smart Growth and Efficiency if we hope to continue our current standard of living and complex society with diminished reliance on fossil fuels. These strategies have the additional advantage that they can work without large technological breakthroughs.
It appears that the blame for Invictus cannot be mostly put on Morgan Freeman's shoulders:
Why Invictus? Why now?
I'm not an objective party. But the world needs this kind of story nowadays. It's just&everybody's so screwed up. Nobody knows where they're heading. It seems like our country's in kind of a morbid mood, because of the recession or whatever. I think our politicians could learn a lot from Mandela.
What do you think they could learn?
About racial relationships and such. It just seems like we're making a lot of mistakes on this whole calling everybody racist. Everybody's calling everybody morons and nuts. We're becoming more juvenile as a nation. The guys who won World War II and that whole generation have disappeared, and now we have a bunch of teenage twits. People 50 years old acting like that. In Gran Torino, I play a guy who's racially offensive. But he learned. It shows that you're never too old to learn and embrace people that you don't understand to begin with. It seems like nobody else got that message, I guess.
Mr. Eastwood accepts the American mythology surrounding World War II and the "Greatest Generation." Is that such a bad thing? If it blinds us to the truth about the war and American society in the 20th century. Without a grasp of what the more components of culture are, we are liable to think that peace and concord can be had solely through strength of effort alone.
Is there anything you'd sacrifice yourself for?
[long pause] I'm sure there is. But mine's more basic. It would be family. It comes down to the basic reason for the male being here, other than propagating, which is to defend and protect the family. [pause] But it would probably stay at that level. How far out the friendship chain it would go, I don't know. [laughs]
As for religion?
Do you still meditate?
Twice a day.
How does that work for you?
It works great. Because it just gives you a chance to gather your thoughts. I'm religious about it when I'm working.
I visualize whole sequences in the morning, before I go. I believe in whatever self-help you can give yourself, whether you believe in Buddha or whatever. I used to be much more of an agnostic. I'm not really a person of an organized religion. But I'm now much more tolerant of people who are religious, because I can see why they got there. I can sympathize.
So meditation with me was just a self-reliant thing. I've been doing it almost forty years. But I don't go out and sell it. A lot of other people find meaning some other way, screaming in the street or whatever it is that gets it for you. Or checking out the girls. [laughs] No, I'm past that. I'm living in my state of monogamy quite happily. I never thought I'd get there, but I did. It feels good. I like myself better than I did.
He returns to the topic of what it means to be a man:
One of your sons is in this new movie. How do you counsel your sons about manhood, being a man?
It's really difficult. You just try to give them local morals. You know, you let the woman go through the door first. Why? Because you're stronger, you're younger. It's your duty as a man. That's what you're here for, to take care of things. And nowadays I don't think men are taught that. It wasn't a macho thing; nobody felt they had to kick over the table and act tough to prove they were men. I'm fond of telling this story—I remember meeting Rocky Marciano. We shook hands. It was a real light handshake, like he was a concert pianist. I walked away and thought, Yeah, Rocky Marciano doesn't have to grab you. He knows he could kill you. He's a real guy.
So be strong and protect yourself, emotionally and physically. But don't—you don't have to take any crap from the world, but at the same time, you don't have to go looking for crap, either. Don't let the feminist revolution turn you into an anti. Women really do want your help, and that's why we're on the same planet, the same level.
Mark Stricherz, December 22, 2009
David Lapp, December 22, 2009
The "mass incidents" are caused by the growing difference between rich and poor, and abuse of power by government representatives. In the first 10 months of 2009 criminal cases increased by 15% compared to last year. The social concerns are a risk to the survival of the Communist Party.
Sacramento diocese launches TV ad campaign aimed at fallen away Catholics
It appears that good things continue to happen in the diocese of Sacramento; we will see what else Bishop Soto accomplishes. It is expected that Bishop Cordileone of Oakland will do much good as well, but who would want to move to Oakaland? Even nearby Berkeley isn't that appealing. In contrast, the Sacramento area looks more and more attractive, though I probably wouldn't move to the city itself, but to one of the towns closeby.
Catholics Come Home
Originally Scott wanted to do a revisionist movie about the Sheriff of Nottingham (who becomes Robin Hood?), but he decided to do a more "traditional" tale about Robin Hood instead. I was actually looking forward to a story that focused on the Sheriff, who decides he must pretend to be an outlaw in order to right injustices--though now that I think about it, it does sound too much like Zorro.
Anyway, I watched the UK trailer for Robin Hood -- it is better than the US one, but it also features a Cate Blanchett fighting and donning armor. Please don't tell me her character was inspired by St. Joan of Arc, who, according to Hilaire Belloc, never took up arms except to protect herself,
or that Ridley Scott is making up for what was lacking in Lord of the Rings. Give me the Audrey Hepburn Maid Marian any day.
At first I thought Robin Hood would not be as PC as Scott's Kingdom of Heaven; this bit of feminist fantasy is on par for Anglo-American movies today, and it's not entirely new to Ridley Scott. (Alien.) But if he was going to aim for realism, why put this in? (I believe the same claim of realism was made about Kingdom of Heaven as well.) In this respect, I suspect it is like the most recent BBC series (which is probably worse overall in catering to the PC orthodoxy of the BBC).
In both trailers Robin Hood makes the sign of the cross. Will Scott show a greater respect for the Catholic religion and its influence on the period than he did in Kingdom of Heaven? There's no mention of the Crusades, or Robin Hood going to the Holy Land with King Richard the Lionheart--instead the story begins towards the end of King Richard's reign. The French make an appearance as the enemy of the English, and Robin Hood's credentials as an English national hero are established.
The populism of Robin Hood does remind me a bit of Mel Gibson's Braveheart; does it refer to the republicanism of the Anglo-American political tradition (with its appeals to the Magna Carta?), or to the modern democratic spirit? Russell Crowe's speech-giving as Robin Hood is identical to his speech-giving Gladiator and Master and Commander. Not a good thing.
I will probably see the movie, but the experience will not be free from annoyances.
William Lind on cultural Marxism. (See also "Who stole our culture?.")
The Bishop repeated that the results of the first session are good, compared to the previous situation. The parties talked entirely freely and only about doctrinal issues in a Thomist theological framework.
It makes sense; but I hope the delegation for the SSPX is made up of better Thomists than some of the people who write books and for their websites.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Memory should be in the service of friendship and genuine community--we remember what others have done for us and what we owe, but also the joys (and sorrows) we experience with our friends. What is the object of nostalgia? Something that is tied to illusion or falsehood in some way, I would think. (If there is true nostalgia, for example, for the place where we grew up, then it seems to be the same as memory. But we are talking about nostalgia that is a distortion of memory.)
Splendid in its visuals, the movie suffers from what seemed like rushed story-telling. Also, if the viewer is not familiar with the Victorian period, he may not understand all of the political maneuverings taking place. The courtship between Albert and Victoria is touching -- the movie could have spent more time on illuminating the attraction Victoria felt towards him. What about Albert's motivations and interest?
The movie does have a positive portrayal of "old-fashioned courtship" and marriage. The deep abiding love between Victoria and Albert is rather touching, and in this regard the movie makes for a decent companion piece to Mrs. Brown (Masterpiece Theater). One would like an exploration of what made their marriage successful, something dealing with the intervening years between the settings of these two movies.
More stills at Yahoo!
I need to read more about the Tories and Whigs, the Court and Country Parties. The Whigs influential in forming the Anglo-American political tradition; but would contemporary Catholics in and out of England have been so supportive of their political philosophy?
It was the court for non-Jews in the temple of Jerusalem. Benedict XVI has used it as a symbol of the dialogue with those alienated from religion, to keep the search for God alive in them. The key passages from his Christmas speech to the Roman curia
In delineating a male spirituality, does Mr. Podles take it a bit too far. What he writes may resonate with the spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola, for example, but what of St. John of the Cross?
Former truck driver Bill Wilson tells an insightful story about the energy packed in a gallon of gas — which we won’t always have in cheap abundance. Now a permaculture educator, he sees permaculture as a viable, realistic way to use nature to provide the abundance we really need — harvesting sunlight, food, wind, water and more. Can you guess what the magic stuff is that we all can’t live without? (No, it’s not oil.)
In his classes, Bill not only passes on a bounty of practical, common sense ideas, he also inspires people to experience being alive on the planet, finding their connectedness with life, their passion and ways to make a world that works for everybody. (Midwestpermaculture.com).
If you want to know what to be really angry about, listen to ‘Judge’ John Reddihough, the insufferable political commissar who imprisoned Munir Hussain (pictured above with his brother Tokeer who was also jailed) – for doing what we would all like to do to the man who invaded his home and terrorised his family.
Mr Reddihough brayed, as he wielded the sword of injustice: ‘If persons were permitted to take the law into their own hands and inflict their own instant and violent punishment on an apprehended offender rather than letting justice take its course, then the rule of law and our system of criminal justice, which are the hallmarks of a civilised society, would collapse.’
So now acts of self-defense are morally equivalent to vigilante justice? There's no way I'd move to the UK (or most parts of Canada, for that matter).
Background info here. See also Legion of Christ discloses Fr. Maciel's plagiarism to its members and El plagio del salterio, un capítulo más de una vida de mentiras.
From 2006: Michael Ruppert, THE PARADIGM IS THE ENEMY: The State of the Peak Oil Movement at the Cusp of Collapse
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I confess I have never really understood the idea of “guesthood” and its converse, the ethnic “ownership” of a place. It is one thing to have a strong ethnic identity, a connexion with the cultural heritage and folkways of one’s forebears. The world has lost much ethnic diversity in its slide into cultural anæmia, and could benefit from a revival. I should never expect a Punjabi family in Somerset to “become” English; nor, for that matter, should I expect their English neighbours to think of them as “really” English when they probably do not. But that is quite different from calling them perpetual guests. In any practical civic sense, there should be no difference whether the English and Punjabi neighbours meet in Somerset or in Sangrur. After settlement, guesthood becomes a backhanded insult.
This might sound like postmodern multicultural claptrap of the sort that drives localists up the wall. But perhaps it is quite the opposite: perhaps I am not modern enough to appreciate a modern national identity. This view of diversity is pre-national as much as post-national. The wedding of territory and ethnicity as the nation-state is a relatively recent event. No one thought that time and space turned a Greek in the Ottoman Empire into a Turk. Likewise, today’s trends are severing anew the link between ethnicity, or religion, and territory. Even with a modest continuation of what we see now, these categories of belonging will become more rootless over the next two or three centuries. Sometimes this will mean hybridisation, other times merely movement. The world’s diasporas already give us a foretaste of what that looks like. Even a third of the humanity in such a transplanted or hybridised condition will make the global demographic unrecognisable by today’s standards. It will become hard to say that minaret-building Muslims in a Swiss village “own” that village any less than a neighbour whose forebears lived there for ten generations. And it becomes not just hard, but preposterous, to say that the Muslim villager should defer to someone three cantons away as an “insider” who defines “Swissness.”
How does this reemerging multiethnic tapestry square with the strong communities that we want to resurrect? We must, I think, drop a short-term nostalgia for the nation-state. But we also have to articulate an approach different from the false choices that both the liberal multiculturalists and the xenophobic sort of traditionalists would impose on us.
For one thing, the problem should be clear. When decent people bemoan social decay and then take a swipe at ethnic diversity, they are conflating two different trends. Unfortunately, the influx of outsiders into these societies has coincided with a breakdown of many of the small decencies. But that breakdown would have happened anyway, if the larger machine of liberal modernity had been bearing down with closed borders around it. Japan, which has remained notoriously insular, is a case in point.
In the texture of daily life, it is easier to see hundreds of African or Asian immigrants moving into a neighbourhood than to see the money-driven mobility or shifting morés of one’s own compatriots. The McDonalds opened on the village green is not usually owned by a Jamaican immigrant, even though he might take a job in it after the fact. It is hardly in the interest of the pro-market right to acknowledge as much.
The same conflation happens when traditionalists talk of cultural decay. A few years ago, a very elderly relative of mine remarked over dinner that Britain’s surge of immigration had “lowered standards.” A few minutes earlier, he had lamented the loss of high culture and that educated people today rarely read Cicero. Again, there are unfortunate but real correlations. Given what motivates cross-border migration, most of the influx is of two sorts. Either it is uprooted refugees from poverty, because global capitalism has not brought development of a humane sort to the countryside. Or it is a professional stratum pushing its way smoothly upward, disconnected from any tradition—including its own—and embracing of all the nice new-class orthodoxies. Neither group is likely to be seen as kindred spirits by anyone committed to an indigenous high culture.
I could understand where my relative was coming from in his disdain. When I asked him, he agreed in principle that the same decay was happening all over the world. But it was obviously an abstract point for him. This is because one of modernity’s less obvious ills is a loss of serious engagement across the great traditions. Ironically, Enoch Powell, whose 1968 speech made him the patron saint of British xenophobes, was a cultured and multilingual fellow. After studying classics at Cambridge, he learned twelve languages, including Hindi and Urdu. Likewise, one of the strongest voices against the minaret ban in Switzerland—and against the Danish cartoons mocking Muhammad a couple of years ago—was none other than the Catholic Church. We have at our disposal, if we can cultivate it, a cosmopolitan moral clarity quite different in flavour from the liberal sort that destroys traditions.
If we want to preserve the village green, we must acknowledge that strong communities have very little to do with the nature and origin of their membership. They have to do with an ethos of participation and stewardship. Shoring up that ethos requires measures radical but colourblind: policies favouring local cooperative enterprises, land trusts, sustainability, decentralisation of decisionmaking, and the like. A lived community arises from the texture of responsibilities, not from drawing lines around one or another place. Many of the people who draw boundaries spend far too little time worrying about how to craft pro-community policies within them.
But how these responsibilities are lived are defined by rules specific to that community;these rules define all areas of life, not just commerce and the acquisition, holding, and selling of property. Should someone be excluded from membership in a community merely on the basis of race or appearance or ethnic heritage? But what about self-exclusion, when someone refuses to adopt the mores (and language) of a new culture? Refusal to give membership (or citizenship) is the appropriate consequence of that individual's choice. And then there is the question of religion and cult. What can be done now, when the elites have already opened the borders to peoples of other religions? What can local populations do to preserve the religion of the community, which should have a public character?
Now I am comfortable being Asian in appearance. But it does not mean that various social obstacles no longer exist.
Would I want to blame white people for wanting to look at beautiful white people, and thereby projecting this as the standard for all of society? No. Should they seek to be more diverse in what they are attracted to? Those who are responsible for marketing a product or a image or fantasy may wish to draw in as wide a customer base as possible, and as a result there is a financial incentive to have diversity represented in advertising or in their visual product. Men are probably less picky than women when it comes to physical or sexual attraction -- of course race or ethnicity may be a factor when they are more rational and considering a marriage partner. Still, while having a diverse case may be beneficial to those who are making TVs and movies (this may be questionable at least with respect to TV shows -- do the various races in America share the same viewing preferences?), I can't impute racism to the customer who wishes to see only certain kinds of beauty.
The Métis Fiddler Quartet
Old Indian and Metis Fiddling in Manitba: Origins, Structure, and Questions of Syncretism
Traditional Metis Music And Dance
Gilbert Anderson, Northern Alberta Métis Fiddler
Musical Traditions: Award Winning Métis Fiddler John Arcand
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
It seems true that there is greater media exposure to the popes now than before, so that we can scrutinize their actions when they are public. Nonetheless, this is a reason why popes must be even more careful and avoid scandalizing the faithful.
Can the Holy Father be faulted for not doing something about the Curia, as opposed to an individual bishop? Can the Roman Curia and the Pope be judged according to the same criteria by which we judge secular governments and organizations? What is "effective leadership" for a pope? Can Romanitas and the desire to "save face" for subordinates be an excuse for inaction or slow action? Do ecclesiastical honors get in the way of reform as a result? It seems difficult to "demote" a bishop in the Curia. Are there inherent problems with the structure of the Curia and the selection of office-holders that warrant it being done away with completely? It seems that some sort of apparatus is necessary for the Pope to do his work as the first among the bishops of the entire world taken as a whole.