For someone who believes, as I do, that decreasing availability of cheap fossil fuel will eventually make the transportation of food over long distances economically unfeasible, the phrase “local food” acquires a special meaning beyond the usual lifestyle implications. It’s less about maintaining moral purity and more about whether we’re going to have enough to eat.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
I ask this in light of this previous post--I dropped by ABC Milpitas this morning to see if a friend's lost credit card could be found there. While the young woman who answered my query was ok, her manager with whom she spoke (he talked in Mandarin) was rather gruff. Maybe he was busy, and he wasn't directly addressing me, but it left a bad impression nonetheless. My mother has had bad experiences with various managers at ABC before, when making inquiries about banquet prices. (The manager who was there for lunch yesterday seemed to be friendly -- he asked us if we needed anything.)
So would it be better to give my money to the people at Winchester Chef than to ABC? Not everyone at ABC can be criticized, but the management also have a responsibility to providing good service, instead of taking patronage for granted simply because of the quality of the food and the presence of demand. "If you don't like it, you can go somewhere else because we have plenty of other customers" may seem to be a warranted attitude, but in the long wrong, it will have consequences, will it not?
Friday, July 24, 2009
AP: Obama rushes to quell racial uproar he helped fire
"This has been ratcheting up, and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up," Obama said of the racial controversy. "I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department and Sgt. Crowley specifically. And I could've calibrated those words differently."
The president did not back down from his contention that police had overreacted by arresting the Harvard professor for disorderly conduct after coming to his home to investigate a possible break-in. He added, though, that he thought Gates, too, had overreacted to the police who questioned him. The charge has been dropped.
Obama stirred up a hornet's nest when he said at a prime-time news conference this week that Cambridge police had "acted stupidly" by arresting Gates, a friend of the president's. Still, Obama said Friday he didn't regret stepping into the controversy and hoped the matter would end up being a "teachable moment" for the nation.
And how would he know the police overreacted, based on his unfamiliarity with the details? Who else but the officers present on the scene were acting stupidly? Does he have a problem with identifying people?
China's ancient concubine culture, illegal during the Mao Zedong era, is again in vogue with the rich and powerful, and most certainly with government officials. An estimated 95% of officials caught for corruption were keeping at least one mistress - and in one case it was 140. It seems concubines' appetites for gifts and cash can push a man to abuse his power. - Stephen Wong (Jul 24, '09)
For the first a member of a family planning commission wants couples to have more children. But only couples already authorised under existing rules are being encouraged. This is a sign that the ‘one-child’ policy is a failure.
How unfortunate. It seems unlikely that Dominican-rite liturgies will be celebrated in this area any time soon.
Sale develops a Buddhist Economics, perhaps too much in that direction, when E. F. Schumacher admittedly named it such because if he called it "Christian Economics" it would be ignored. So we get this from Mr. Sale: "All production of goods and services would be based on a reverence for life, a biocentric world view that takes in animals, birds, fishes, insects, plants, trees (especially important to Buddha), all the living ecosystems and the air and water they depend on—in short the living earth, Gaea herself."
He also writes: "All economic decisions would be made in accordance with the Buddhist principle, “Cease to do evil, try to do good,” and the definition of “good” would be that which preserves and enhances the integrity, stability, diversity, continuity, and beauty of living species and systems; that which does the contrary is evil."
That is nothing more than the first principle of practical reason... is man a part of a system, and does the good of the system outweigh the good of men? Or is the good of the system ordered to the good of men?
Some are not content with Christians advocating stewardship -- they see Christianity as being wrong because Christians hold the rest of material Creation is for the sake of man. But this does not entail that man is free to do whatever he pleases with the rest of Creation. That the rest of material Creation is for man to use for his own perfection is not by itself the foundation of Christian moral teaching, from which all other precepts are derived.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Was he ever corrected for what he believed and said about contraception as being necessary, for the sake of sustainability? With regards to abortion, he disagrees with those who claim that fetuses are human. That does not mean he is necessarily wrong, since this is not a part of Sacred Tradition (as far as I can ascertain). But he also advocates the use of abortion as a form of contraception and population control. This is problematic.
Illich seems to believe that the Church has become corrupted by power, and is more concerned with maintaining power than with the practice of charity and the spreading of the Gospel. That is what I gather from the publisher's introduction to The Rivers North of the Future: The Testament of Ivan Illich, as told to David Cayley, foreword by Charles Taylor, Toronto: Anansi Press, 2004. 252 pp. If Illich is such a radical with respect to his views of the Church, why is Charles Taylor writing the foreword? The book is available at Google Books, so it's on my reading list.
From the discussion of Illich's life in the foreward and introduction we are told that Illich was critical of a rule-bound Christianity, which he believed to be a corrupted version. He was a radical in the sense that he called for a return to the early Church, one that was purified of the worldly institutional Church that is too entangled with politics and too grasping for power (6-9). (Another version of the thesis of the post-Constantinian Church being a corruption?)
Illich makes clear his objections to (privileged) people doing service work in a foreign country in To Hell with Good Intentions, including missionaries. Would he make the same criticisms of Catholic missionaries who are there to evangelize first, and to help bring clean water, etc. second?
Given his relationship with the Church and his [problematic] views, should he be trusted as an credible authority on [economic/industrial] development and its consequences? I think so, since these are not matters of Faith, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be read with a critical mind.
Richard Wall, A Turbulent Priest in the Global Village: Ivan Illich, 1926–2002
Louis Bouyer, in The Church of God, talks about the two models of the Church (and of evangelization) - the Church of believers and the Church of numbers (22-25). He sees the transition between the former to the latter taking place after the Peace of Constantine, when Christianity became "socially acceptable" and soon was socially required.
Only those societies in which members have freely chosen to become Christian can be called Christian; those in which coercion is employed are problematic. But how is a Christian ruler to govern a Christian polity? How does he deal with non-Christians? What is the proper relationship between the Church and the State? What is the nature of the Church's authority over the baptized and civil governments? Illich, Bouyer, and other theologians and Christian intellectuals offer answers to these questions. What are Christians are to do once they gain control of civil authority? Our Lord does give a clear answer within Sacred Scripture, and Christians have been attempting to discern what to do, with the help of the Holy Spirit and the teaching of the Church. Does Illich have a romantic view of the early Church?
Brown: Ivan just mentioned you had a focus on these larger societal issues and now you're coming to focus in recent years on the more immediate friendship. I'm very struck by the fact that you've always when I've used the word communication and then you say computers communicate but people talk, people have a conversation. I think the same thing is also true of the word relationship. You can have a relationship among instruments or between instruments, but you can only have a friendship between two people or among human beings. I guess one of the obvious points about the modern sophisticated world would be the technological terms that invade our own understanding of ourselves and our immediate life. In this book that Ivan has written called In the Vineyard of the Text he called my attention to footnote 53 which is from the Latin. Who is the author?
Illich: This is Hugh of St. Victor who writes to a friend of his.
Brown: OK, this is Hugh of St. Victor, a man who lived in the 12th century, and here is what he says. He says, "Charity." Now when he says charity does he mean love?
Brown: OK, so I'm going to use that. When he says love never ends. "To my dear brother Ronolfe from Hugh, a sinner. Love never ends. When I first heard this I knew it was true. But now, dearest brother, I have the personal experience of fully knowing that love never ends. For I was a foreigner. I met you in a strange land. But that land was not really strange for I found friends there." And it goes on. You want me to go on some more?
Illich: It's so beautiful.
Brown: "But the land was not really strange for I found friends there. I don't know whether I first made friends or was made one, but I found love there and I loved it and I could not tire of it for it was sweet to me and I filled my heart with it and was sad that my heart could hold so little. I could not take in all that there was but I took in as much as I could. I filled up all the space I had but I could not fit in all I found so I accepted what I could and weighed down with this precious gift I didn't feel any burden because my full heart sustained me. And now having made a long journey I find my heart still warmed and none of the gift has been lost for love never ends."
Illich: Isn't that a marvelous little letter?
Brown: It's wonderful.
Illich: Today we would immediately say if a man writes to a man like that he must be a gay. Why not? But anyway if he writes to a woman they would say what a marvelous sexual relationship. But do I need these alienating concepts? I want to just go back to a great rabbinical and also as you see, monastic, Christian development beyond what the Greeks like Plato or Cicero already knew about friendship. That it is from your eye that I find myself. There's a little thing there. They called it pupilla, puppet, which I can see in your eye. The black thing in your eye.
Brown: That's the pupil.
Illich: Pupil, puppet, person, eye. It is not my mirror. Libby [?] spoke that way about it. It is you making me the gift of that which Ivan is for you. That's the one who says "I" here. I'm purposely not saying, this is my person, this is my individuality, this is my ego. No. I'm saying this is the one who answers you here, whom you have given to him. This is how Hugh explains it here. This is how the rabbinical traditional explains it. That I cannot come to be fully human unless I have received myself as a gift and accepted myself as a gift of somebody who has, well today we say distorted me the way you distorted me by loving me. Now, friendship in the Greek tradition, in the Roman tradition, in the old tradition, was always viewed as the highest point which virtue can reach. Virtue meaning here the habitual facility of doing the good thing which is fostered by what the Greeks called politaea, political life, community life. I know it was a political life in which I wouldn't have liked to participate, with the slaves around and with the women excluded, but I still have to go to Plato or to Cicero. They conceived of friendship as a flowering, a supreme flowering of the interaction which happens in a good political society. This is what makes long experience so painful with you that every time we are together you make me feel most uncomfortable about my not being like you. I know it's not my vocation. It's your vocation. Structuring community and society in a political way. But I do not believe that friendship today can flower out, can come out, of political life. I do believe that if there is something like a political life to be, to remain for us, in this world of technology, then it begins with friendship. Therefore my task is to cultivate disciplined, self-denying, careful, tasteful friendships. Mutual friendships always. I and you and I hope a third one, out of which perhaps community can grow. Because perhaps here we can find what the good is. To make it short, while once friendship in our western tradition was the supreme flower of politics I do think that if community life if it exists at all today it is in some way the consequence of friendship cultivated by each one who initiates it. This is of course a challenge to the idea of democracy which goes beyond anything which people usually talk about, saying each one of you is responsible for the friendships he can develop because society will be as good as the political result of these friendships will be.
Brown: So we start with a world where the good society creates the virtue and the virtue is the basis of friendship. Now it's reversed. Now it seems we have to create the friendship and in the context of the friendship virtue is practiced and that might lead to a community which might lead to a society which might be a whole other kind of politics.
From an interview by Jerry Brown.
English translation of a short interview with Msgr. Nicola Bux on the topic of Holy Communion.
I picked up the OD at one Starbucks, which was set to close at 9. We ended up meeting at another Starbucks. His wife's friends were going to be there. And what do you know, they were trying to introduce me to a friend of a friend. Actually, I should say his wife was the one trying to facilitate this, since I had already expressed to the OD my lack of interest and he was quite aware of it.
She seems to be a 'nice' Taiwanese woman--what else can one really say after spending only an hour with her? She works in IT and is probably a typical Taiwanese woman, though perhaps not as materialistic as some others.
This morning I received an e-mail from the OD asking if I wanted to have dinner with the same people next week. (I thought he was supposed to be in Irvine.) Apparently she's interested in getting to know me better. I'm wary of letting things go any farther.
Signs of incompatibility:
1. She's not Catholic. I don't believe in trying to convert a gf (although I suspect that this may be slightly more successful than women trying to convert their bfs).
2. She's Taiwanese. (In general, HK women are hardly much better, but I'm not really interested in marrying a HK woman either.)
3. She works in IT. How is her familiarity with the humanities/liberal arts? Would she be willing and able to homeschool? (Or is she more career-oriented?)
Do we have enough in common, culturally? I'm not just Americanized, but Americanized in a peculiar sort of way. I should have asked her what she thought of Texas, since she went to U of T (@ Arlington or Dallas).
I'm leaning towards saying no to the OD, but I do admit that I am feeling some pressure from myself to say yes, because everyone else seems to be pushing for it. "I'll have to think about it some more..."
My back seems to be getting a little bit better, though I haven't done much walking this week. I've been feeling very tired at 12 A.M. for some reason.
Business Week: Is a Turnaround Brewing for Starbucks?
Founder Howard Schultz pledged to revive Starbucks to earlier glory. Recent results suggest he is on the right track, but some observers remain skeptical
Work at Starbucks? Probably not. Maybe It's a Grind or Peet's.
Harvard University Press: The Ethics of Authenticity by Charles Taylor
One of the more curious aspects of last Autumn’s global financial meltdown was the blame that was actually heaped on Distributist Theory. The argument sounded like this: efforts in America to extend property ownership in homes went too far; resulting in the issuance of “subprime” loans to unqualified buyers; resulting in turn in a liquidity crisis at the banks; bringing on a credit squeeze, panic, and global depression. This explanation has proven wonderfully useful. It has allowed inept bankers, market speculators, and the advocates of economic globalism to shift responsibility away from their own misdeeds and from the inherent instability of finance capitalism, and to place the blame instead on the slumping shoulders of G.K. Chesterton and a modest number of lower-income Americans. This explanation has also spawned the argument that, looking forward, the working poor should not really aspire to home ownership; it would be better for them to rent their living space and to find their security in state programs of unemployment insurance, state pensions, and the like.
This explanation is outrageous on any number of levels. Yet it does rest on a kernel of truth: instability in the American home mortgage market did apparently trigger the financial panic. However, I would respond that this development had nothing to do with good Distributist theory regarding home ownership. The essential problem has been that the initial Distributist impulse – to gain the broadest possible private ownership by families of property in the form of homes, land, and productive capital – this long ago ceased to be the driving force in the American housing market.
By DAVE LINDORFF
But whatever the real story is regarding the showing of identification information by Gates and the officer, police misconduct in this incident went further. Gates reportedly got understandably angry and frustrated at the officer for refusing to provide him with this identifying information and/or for refusing to accept his own identification documents, and at that point the officer abused his power by arresting Gates and charging him with disorderly conduct.
There’s nothing unusual about this, sadly. It is common practice for police in America to abuse their authority and to arrest people on a charge of “disorderly conduct” when those people simply exercise their free speech rights and object strenuously to how they are being treated by an officer. Try it out sometime. If you are given a ticket for going five miles an hour over the posted speed limit, tell the traffic officer he or she is a stupid moron, and see if you are left alone. My bet is that you will find yourself either ticketed on another more serious charge, or even arrested for “disorderly conduct.” If you happen to be black or some other race than white, I’ll even put money on that bet. (If you’re stupid enough to go out and test this hypothesis, please don’t expect me to post your bail!)
There is no suggestion by police that Gates physically threatened the arresting officer. His “crime” at the time was simply speaking out.
What is unusual is not that the officer arrested Gates for exercising his rights. That kind of thing happens all the time. What’s unusual is that this time the police levied their false charge against a man who is among the best known academics in the country, who knows his rights, and who has access to the best legal talent in the nation to make his case (his colleagues at the Harvard Law School).
Very little of the mainstream reporting I’ve seen on this event makes the crucial point that it is not illegal to tell a police officer that he is a jerk, or that he has done something wrong, or that you are going to file charges against him. And yet too many commentators, journalists and ordinary people seem to accept that if a citizen “mouths off” to a cop, or criticizes a cop, or threatens legal action against a cop, it’s okay for that cop to cuff the person and charge him with “disorderly conduct.” Worse yet, if a cop makes such a bogus arrest, and the person gets upset, he’s liable to get an added charge of “resisting arrest” or worse.
We have, as a nation, sunk to the level of a police state, when we grant our police the unfettered power to arrest honest, law-abiding citizens for simply stating their minds. And it’s no consolation that someone like Gates can count on having such charges tossed out. It’s the arrest, the cuffing, and the humiliating ride in the back of a cop squad car to be booked and held until bailed out that is the outrage.
I’m sure police take a lot of verbal abuse on the job, but given their inherent power—armed and with a license to arrest, to handcuff, and even to shoot and kill—they must be told by their superiors that they have no right to arrest people for simply expressing their views, even about those officers.
Insulting an officer of the law is not a crime. Telling an officer he or she is breaking the law is not a crime. Demanding that an officer identify him or herself is not a crime. And saying you are going to file a complaint against the officer is not a crime.
Insulting is not a crime, perhaps. But it is disrespectful, and why shouldn't it be punished in some way? Is there room for punishment outside the legal system? Or would this go against the "rule of law"? The "right to free speech" should not extend to manifest disrespect, which is a sin.
Still, I can sympathize with those who complain that LEOs overstep their bounds and carry out private grudges -- it's not only people on the "Left" that complain, but also those on the "Right" -- the paleolibertarians, Paul Craig Roberts, Sam Francis, Peter Hitchens, and others.
Some alternate views of what happened in Cambridge:
Steve Sailer: UPDATED: Who is "carrying racist thoughts?"
Damian Thompson: Henry Louis Gates arrested and alleges racism. But read the police report
and Obama has made a prat of himself over the Gates affair
ROME, JULY 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A Cistercian monk proposed by Pope John Paul II as a model for youth is set to be canonized this October.
Blessed María Rafael Arnaiz Baron, known as Brother Rafael, will be recognized as a saint along with four others who will be canonized Oct. 11. He is the youngest of the group, having died at age 27 in 1938.
OSCO: BLESSED RAFAEL ARNÁIZ BARÓN
God Alone: A Spiritual Biography of Blessed Rafael Arnaiz Baron
by Gonzalo Maria Fernandez, Kathleen O'Neill (Editor), Hugh McCaffery (Translator)
The Trappist Monk, Blessed Rafael Arnaiz Baron
Da Mihi Animas: Trappist Monk nears canonization: Blessed Rafael Arnaiz Baron
Blessed Maria Rafael Arnáiz Barón - Vultus Christi
CNS: Pope sets dates to canonize 10, including Blesseds Damien, Jeanne
St. Vincent Archabbey
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
It seems that Fr. Carmine, the mentor, employs the revised Ritual. This is an assumption that I am making, since the book talks about the revision, and it never says that Fr. Carmine uses the older ritual, which Fr. Amorth prefers.
Fr. Amorth claims, in reference to the new Ritual:
Then Point 16 solemnly declares that one should not carry out exorcisms if one is not certain of the presence of the devil. This is a masterstroke of incompetence: the certainty that the devil is present in someone can only be obtained by carrying out an exorcism.However, the book quotes unnamed exorcists as saying that a simple blessing suffices as a diagnostic tool, and that an exorcism is not necessary (nor is it permitted for such a purpose).
I don't have the book with me now so I can't look up page numbers.
From last year: Ritual of Dealing With Demons Undergoes a Revival
International Association of Exorcists
Holt has some interesting things to say, but is he too much of a Romantic in his views of children? I wouldn't agree with what he writes in Escape From Childhood: The Needs and Rights of Children:
I propose instead that the rights, privileges, duties, responsibilities of adults citizens be made *available* to any young person, of whatever age, who wants to make use of them. These would include, among others:
# 1. The right to equal treatment a the hands of the law- ie., the right, in any situation, to be treated no worse than an adult would be.
# 2. The right to vote, and take full part in political affairs.
# 3. The right to be legally responsible for one's life and acts.
# 4. The right to work, for money.
# 5. The right to privacy.
# 6. The right to financial independence and responsibility-ie., the right to own, buy, and sell property, to borrow money, establish credit, sign contracts, etc.
# 7. The right to direct and manage one's own education.
# 8. The right to travel, to live away from home, to choose or make one's own home.
# 9. The right to receive from the state whatever minimum income it may guarantee to adults citizens.
# 10. The right to make and enter into, on basis of mutual consent, quasi-familial relationships outside one's immediate family-ie., the right to seek and choose guardians other than one's own parents and to be legally dependent on them.
# 11. The right to do, in general, what any adult may legally do.
I would have to take a look at this book, but it seems to me that Holt goes too far in his epistemology, failing to take into account the effects of appetite upon reason and self-direction.
Does Holt acknowledge that logic is necessary for thinking well? And does he think that logic is something that we can acquire on our own with relative ease?
An Interview with John Holt, by Robert Gilman
Lawless spent the night in a feculent, rat-infested jail cell. Although both Officers Lopez face possible disciplinary action, the District Attorney, after reviewing the matter, chose not to prosecute.
That's wrong. What was the DA's excuse? Insufficient evidence?
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
San Francisco was born at the beginning of the oil age, and the city has flourished during an era in which fossil fuels became the foundation of our economy and society...Today, the City and its inhabitants are utterly reliant on fossil fuel energy: 84% of the energy consumed in San Francisco comes from oil and natural gas.
the report (pdf)
Monday, July 20, 2009
Catholics often speak about the complementarity of the sexes in their response to gender deconstructionists and radical egalitarians, touching upon the differences in roles and functions. But often they will not talk about domestic authority--some do not accept the traditional teaching of the Church on this point; others think that it may be a scandal. But if there is a crisis of sanctity and of virtue, should we not be reaffirming this teaching so as to give guidance to both men and women? Nature pays no heed to ideologues.
Southern Catholic College to become Legion of Christ institution
Both links from New Oxford Review.
Distributist-Capitalist-Socialist Debate 1/13
This is the first of thirteen videos of the debate about economics held in April. Participants included Michael Novak and Thomas Storck.
NEW YORK – More plans to build homes, higher stock prices and fewer people filing first-time claims for jobless aid sent a private-sector forecast of U.S. economic activity higher than expected in June.
A government report last week showed construction of new U.S. homes in June rose to the highest level in seven months. That was the "most positive housing report in ages," said IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport.
Where are these houses being built? And how is lending the money to make this possible?
Seven of the Conference Board index's 10 indicators rose in June, including building permits, stock prices, manufacturers' new orders for consumer goods and positive readings on jobs. Consumer expectations, manufacturers' orders for capital goods and the real money supply weighed down the forecast.
What sort of consumer goods are being produced? To use stock prices as an economic indicator reflects poorly on the Conference Board--as if they don't really have a clue of what signifies what. The problems of over-quantifying.
The biggest gainer was the "interest rate spread." That's the difference between yields on 10-year Treasurys and the federal funds rate, at which banks lend to one another, which is at a record low near zero. A big difference between the two is viewed as positive because investors are willing to lend for longer periods.
Willing to lend for longer periods? Do they have any choice, if they are trying to get some sort of return?
Catherine Bott presents a performance of John Taverner's Missa Corona Spirea by the Tallis Scholars, directed by Peter Phillips, given as part of the York Early Music Festival 2009.
The ensemble also perform the winning two entries of the 2009 National Centre for Early Music's Young Composers' Award - Arise by Elizabeth Edwards and God by Michael Perrett. Catherine introduces the music, meets the composers and talks to Peter Phillips about the work of the Tallis Scholars and about the competition.
For more information about the competition go to: http://www.ncem.co.uk/cgi/projects/projects.cgi?t=template.htm&a=66
All music performed by The Tallis Scholars, directed by Peter Phillips, recorded at the York Early Music Festival 2009.
John Taverner: Leroy Kyrie; Gloria (The Crown of Thorns mass/Missa Corona spinea)
Elizabeth Edwards: Arise
(winner in the NCEM Young Composers' Award younger category)
Taverner: Sanctus (The Crown of Thorns mass)
Michael Perrett: God
(winner in the NCEM Young Composers' Award category)
Taverner: Agnus Dei (The Crown of Thorns mass)
Further details of the 2010 National Centre for Early Music Composers' Award to be published in 2009.
The Tallis Scholars