Saturday, August 15, 2009
Abbe Joel Estrada gave a presentation for the parishioners of St. Margaret Mary's (Oakland, California, USA) last July 28, 2009, about life and spirituality at the seminary of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, located in Gricigliano, near Florence, Italy. He shares his story on how he got to know about the Institute, through St. Margaret Mary, when he used to be a parishioner back in 2006. Abbe Estrada is an incoming third year student at the St. Phillip Neri Seminary, but has spent the last couple of weeks of July assisting Canon Jean-Marie Moreau at the Institute Apostolate parish of St. Margaret Mary. A previous presentation was given to the Young Adults class last July 21, but this presentation had different topics not brought up last week.
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary - July 28, 2009 - part 2
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary - July 28, 2009 - part 3
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary - July 28, 2009 - part 4
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary - July 28, 2009 - part 5
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary - July 28, 2009 - part 6
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary - July 28, 2009 - part 7
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary - July 28, 2009 - part 8
Presentation for the Young Adult Catechism Group:
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary (part 1)
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary (part 2)
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary (part 3)
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary (part 4)
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary (part 5)
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary (part 6)
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary (part 7)
Life & Spirituality at the ICRSS Seminary (part 8)
Of all my old, junk machinery, I like my pickup truck the best. I could not function without it. I use it to haul hay, straw, manure, mulch, lambs, rams, calves, pigs, chickens, corn, wheat, grandkids, apples, firewood, logs, cans of gas, rototillers, dirt, lawnmowers, water tanks, fencing, gates, posts, lumber, chainsaws, shovels, forks, concrete blocks, trash for the recycler, gravel, rocks, railroad ties. To name a few.(original)
Friday afternoon I went to a free showing of District 9 for Youtube engineers and their guests.
When I first saw the teaser trailer, I thought the movie would be sedate and cerebral, despite the presence of aliens -- a mockumentary looking at the plight of aliens who have landed on earth but have been rejected by humans. Then I saw the theatrical trailer, and my expectations changed. It was obvious that the movie would involve some sort of role reversal, with a human finding himself on the side of the aliens and fighting other humans. It seemed like just another "sci-fi" action movie. The theatrical trailer was misleading, though, as to how much action there actually is in the movie.
The gore (and violence) content was much higher than I had expected, much of which was caused by aliens' weapons, whose effects were reminiscent of Half-Life or Halo, or some other sci-fi first-person shooter (Duke Nukem, Doom). Was this due to Peter Jackson's influence?
Did the Google/Youtube Geeks enjoy this? Was the movie a total geekfest? How many were actually repulsed by the violence? Did the majority revel in the onscreen violence?
I believe the CGI was done by WETA, and it was more than adequate.
The villains are primarily white [South African] males. (I don't think much Afrikaans is spoken in the movie -- the movie is in English, while the aliens make clicking noises.)
I must admit that I did like the mech/powered suit action. It makes a geek wish for a live-action Evangelion or Votoms movie. The hud for the power suit was comparable to the one for the Iron Man suit.
As for the plot holes or plot elements that remain unexplained--why did the aliens end up being stranded on earth? Why was there no fuel? Was Christopher Johnson one of the leaders of the worker drones? (Slave master?) Or one of the more intelligent drones? There was not enough fuel in the tanks to get the ship home, but enough could be recovered from various pieces of junk.
While the movie may be perfect for the geek crowd, I don't think I can recommend it because of the graphic violence.
The issues the movie raises:
On the surface it seems the major question is that of alien immigration, and whether it is just to keep them apart from human civilization. Was the movie originally intended as tool to get the audience to think about immigration and laws and rights, and what is just?
As I watched the movie, I thought there might be some sort of reversal of audience expectations and the humans discover that they are plotting something. An alien conspiracy to invade the Earth perhaps. A reversion to the typical sci-fi alien invasion movie. If the aliens are trying to invade us, then they would deserve to be isolated.
The aliens, who are called "prawns" by the humans because of their appearance, are seen as interlopers by some. Any sympathy in the masses for their plight seems to have been eroded with time and familiarity. Did the story give sufficient reasons for the humans to not segregate the aliens? A defense was given for their violent behavior -- they've been put into poor living conditions, they're frustrated and do not have anything to do. Their lashing out in violence is to be expected, it's a "natural" reaction.
But is there any indication of intelligence on the part of aliens that would enable them to be integrated into human society? The presence of language does seem to be an indication of intelligence. What about the sharing of natural resources? How could the labor of the aliens be applied? And do they have what is necessary to direct themselves? Or do the drones have to be ruled by another? Without direction by others, would the aliens be able to (re-)build some sort of civilization of their own, if they had access to resources? Is the planet big enough for humans to give the aliens some territory of their own? I do not think liberals would be comfortable with admitting that most of the aliens are suited for being tools of those who have the intelligence to rule them, whether they be alien or human.
Can a community chooses who it wants to accept into its community? Does it have to accept alien customs as its own? Is rejection based solely on appearance a sufficient justification? Or do we have to look at cultural differences as well? It's not just appearance that is the barrier, but the fact that they are not human, and only a few appear to be intelligent in the same way Vulcans or other humanoid species that are the stock of contemporary sci-fi are. Inter-species sex is hinted at, with the trafficking of human prostitutes to service the aliens. Did the audience find this revolting?
The aliens do not appear to respect human customs. Again, some might argue that they do not feel welcome and human hostility towards the aliens feeds alien resentment of the humans. But it seems to me that the majority of the aliens justify with their behavior their isolation. If we approve or at least not reject the solution adopted by the humans in the movie, it is because the movie makes the case that the aliens should be excluded from human communities not simply because they are different, but because they cannot live in harmony with humans. A concession to the modern sensibility, perhaps. What if the aliens were more like the Newcomers of Alien Nation? Would we be able to concede that humans who do not wish to live with them should not be forced to do so?
Steve Sailer's review
Edit. See Sailer's "Neill Blomkamp's Giant Apartheid Metaphor".
Wired: District 9: A Military Analysis
Friday, August 14, 2009
The liberals are howling bout the unfairness of these attacks, led by Sarah Palin, revived by her “Death Panel” talk and equipped with a dexterous new speech writer who is even adding footnotes to her press releases.
But what is a conservative meant to think? Since the major preoccupation of liberals for 30 years has been the right to kill embryos, why should they not be suspect in their intentions toward those gasping in the thin air of senility? There is a strong eugenic thread to American progressivism, most horribly expressed in its very successful campaign across much of the twentieth century to sterilize “imbeciles.” Abortion is now widening in its function as a eugenic device. Women in their 40s take fertility drugs, then abort the inconvenient twins, triplets or quadruplets when they show up on the scan.
In 1972, a year before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion on demand nationwide, virtually all children with trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, were born. Less than a decade later, with the widespread availability of pre-natal genetic testing, as many as 90 percent of women whose babies were pre-natally diagnosed with the genetic condition chose to abort the child.
One survey of 499 primary care physicians treating women carrying these babies, however, indicated that only 4 percent actively encourage women to bring Down syndrome babies to term. A story on the CNS News Service last year quoted Dr. Will Johnston, president of Canadian Physicians for Life, reacted to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) pre-natal testing endorsement as another step toward eugenics.“The progress of eugenic abortion into the heart of our society is a classic example of “mission creep,’ ” Johnson said. “In the 1960s, we were told that legal abortion would be a rare tragic act in cases of exceptional hardship. In the ’70s abortion began to be both decried and accepted as birth control. In the ’80s respected geneticists pointed out that it was cheaper to hunt for and abort Down’s babies than to raise them. By the ’90s that observation had been widely put into action. Now we are refining and extending our eugenic vision, with new tests and abortion as our central tools.”
So if we have mission creep in the opening round, what’s to persuade people that there won’t be mission creep at the other and the kindly official discussing living wills won’t tiptoe out of the ward and tell the hospital that the old fellow he’s just conferred with is ripe to meet his maker. The author of the provision – now dropped – in the health bill before Congress – for “end of life” counseling was Democratic Rep Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. Blumenauer has denounced the “death panel” description as a “terrible falsehood.” Maybe so. But Blumenauer is hot for “death with dignity”, as a speech he made in Congress in 2000 makes clear: “A major concern [in an attempted revision of the Balanced Budget Act]is a provision that would criminalize decisions doctors make on pain management for the most seriously ill and overturn Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. Oregonians have twice voted to support the assisted suicide law. H.R. 2614 not only is an attack on the Democratic process, but also threatens to pain management. There is evidence that doctors are increasingly hesitant to prescribe pain medications to terminally ill patients for fear of being accused of unlawfully assisting a suicide. The on-going attempts by Congress to criminalize the doctor-patient relationship are a threat to pain management in all fifty states.”
For forty years, every American president has deprecated the powers of government to improve the public weal. Why now should Americans believe that any government-backed “health reform” will do them any good, as opposed to assigning them the appropriate lifespan, relative to their income and contributions to the corporate bottom line, which is what the present system amounts to?
As far as influence at the federal level, there are things we can do which will be important. Breaking up the monopolies is a preparation for distributism. So would a plan to break up the banks, which is what should have been done. We don't even have to win the battles, we just have to bring the issues to the attention of the public. That is why conversations about the "death boards" are a waste of time, a diversion from real issues. People do understand the issues, when you bring them to their attention. In fact, they understand better than the economists, which, admittedly, isn't saying much.
Further, we can't be like the communists, who always sacrificed the present moment to the glorious future; any amount of suffering, any sort of gulag, was justified in the name to the coming golden age. The truth is, people still get cancer, have accidents, sick children, and all the other things to which the flesh is heir. They need something today, and we need to show that we are the people who care about such things.
If that means a govmint program or two in the meantime, I am not much bothered. The survival of the govmint won't depend much on another $500 billion or so, and if it helps a few people on its way down, well so much the better.
Systems don't give up easily, and there will be an effort to hold on to power, to restore what is now the ancien regime. And since the volunteer army is no longer representative of the Republic, there is the danger of a Praetorian Guard.
There is also a new oddity here. There are more natural "conservatives" on the left these days than on the right. Yes they are screwy on gender and marriage issues, but there is more localism and self-reliance in Mother Jones News than in almost any conservative journal. So we have an opportunity to work both sides of the aisle, which means being particularly non-ideological, which is why I want to avoid the wing-nuts.
What is the difference between a monopoly and a guild operating within a political community? The fact that the guild cannot determine prices and fees on its own, and that this is part of the function of the government?
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
On the pope's agenda for this summer, three realities leap to the foreground: the example of the Curé of Ars, the sacrament of confession, the feast of the Transfiguration. Here's how and why
Russell, in order for your question to be answerable you must make a distinction between health care and medical care. In all the debate about medical insurance, the sloppy interchange of these terms has clouded the debate to the point that it has become a tragic parody.
(I am going to borrow heavily from the Ivan Illich bucket here, but his discussion is most relevant, and like all of Illich’s essays you have read the definitions first.) Medical care is a part of health care, and medical insurance is only a part of medical care.
In my opinion, health care must be local. Local to the point of an individual, or even perhaps to level of an individual’s thoughts. Health care in its most basic form is taking care of your health: Getting enough sleep. Eating right. Getting enough exercise. Brushing your teeth. Etc. On the family level it is: Teaching you kids how to take care of themselves. Telling you wife that her pie Kung Fu is better than her sister’s, but I am really full. And of course giving and receiving hugs are important. On the community level health care is about having safe places to recreate, walkable communities, access to clean water, pure air, and healthy food. These circles continue to expand to the regional, national and global scale. For good or bad, the arrow of causality is (mostly) pointed from the individual out to the larger segments of society. Having a global authority telling people to brush their teeth is insanity embodied.
Medical care is different. Telling someone that should have brushed their teeth when have a broken arm is nonsense. Having trained doctors and nurses and adequate facilities is a necessity. However, it cannot replace health care at the its most basic and most inclusive form. Telling a 350 pounder that can cure her diabetes with a syringe is equally nonsensical. The causality arrow is much more balanced here.
Medical insurance is a subset of medical care. Medical insurance can never supplant either medical care nor health care. You can insure against medical costs, but you can never insure health. Perhaps our failure is semantic. We want to “ensure” our health, but all we talk about is “insuring” our medicine.
Edit. Maybe I spoke too soon...
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Dr. David Korowicz, The Oil Drum
Why Corporations, Emerging Powers and Petro-States Are Snapping Up Huge Chunks of Farmland in the Developing World
Scott Thrill, alternet
Dave Pollard, blog
If we want to engender a new economy, bottom-up, we have to start by discovering the work we're meant to do, because we're only going to persevere effectively if the role we're playing lies at the intersection of what we're good at, what we love doing, and what's needed in the world that we care about.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sarge questioned the identity of the Brits going after the wanted Iraqis. He thought they were mercenaries.
The movie may satisfy civilians, but not professional soldiers... even though it wasn't produced by a major studio, it's still "Hollywood" and good for only the "sheep" of our society.
Interview with Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal - Beyond the Multiplex
ROTTEN TOMATOES: Inside The Hurt Locker with Writer Mark Boal
"The Hurt Locker" New York Screening And Q&A With Mark Boal
Interview: The Hurt Locker's Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow
Something more serious: Orestes I.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Why did I pick philosophy? Because I was, and still am, a scholastic who believes that one should have an adequate education in philosophy before proceeding to speculative theology. (Of course, philosophy is not enough--one should be familiar with Sacred Scripture and with the Church Fathers. But what American university gives a sufficient introduction to the Church Fathers?) And for me, the best guides in philosophy are Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas.
But if the graduate education I received was very inadequate for training someone to become an Aristotelian-Thomist, then wouldn't the time have been better spent on a theology degree? At least it would be easier getting a job teaching at a Catholic high school or being a lay minister of some sort.