Saturday, May 06, 2006

BC and Condoleezza Rice

Well, I had read about the 'controversy' a couple of days ago, and there isn't really much to be said about it, except that if the BC faculty wishes to apply a vetting process examining the harmony between the positions/actions of potential recipients of honorary degrees with Catholic teaching, they better be consistent about it.

coverage by the American Papist

I think honorary degrees should be done away with, for the most part. There might be exceptions, for example those who are actually qualified within an area could receive an honorary degree in that area, but the rest seem to be PR gimmicks more than anything else. Do we really need to honor celebrities and the so-called 'important people' who usually don't deserve the honor? It's not really the role of the university to honor people for moral excellence--that is proper to the polis and its government; it should honor people for intellectual excellence, but what does BC know of wisdom?

Impii autem, secundum quae cogitaverunt, correptionem habebunt;qui neglexerunt iustum et a Domino recesserunt. Sapientiam enim et disciplinam qui despicit, infelix est,et vacua est spes illorum, et labores sine fructu,et inutilia opera eorum. (Liber Sapientiae 3:10-11)

Ergo erravimus a via veritatis, et iustitiae lumen non luxit nobis, et sol non est ortus nobis; implicati sumus tribulis iniquitatis et perditioniset ambulavimus per deserta inaccessa,viam autem Domini ignoravimus. Quid nobis profuit superbia? Aut divitiae cum iactantia quid contulerunt nobis? Transierunt omnia illa tamquam umbraet tamquam nuntius percurrens et tamquam navis, quae pertransit fluctuantem aquam,cuius, cum praeterierit, non est vestigium invenireneque semitam carinae illius in fluctibus; aut tamquam avis, quae transvolat in aere,nullum invenitur argumentum itineris,sed alarum sonitu ventus levis verberatuset scissus per vim stridoriscommotis alis permeatur,et post hoc nullum signum invenitur itineris; aut tamquam sagittae emissae in locum destinatum:divisus aer continuo in se resolvitur,ut ignoretur transitus illius. Sic et nos, nati, continuo desivimus esseet virtutis quidem nullum signum valuimus ostendere;in malignitate autem nostra consumpti sumus. (5:6-13)

As for Ms. Rice, given her position in the current administration and its current failings, one wonder what BC administration is attempting to accomplish with this--kissing a$$ to become even more established? Ridiculous. Why don't they give an honorary degree to Pope Benedict XVI instead?

Most politicians in our country are the less deserving of honor. Do we get the rulers we deserve? Lord, have mercy.

Boston College faculty object to honorary degree for Rice
May 3, 2006

The letter entitled "Condoleezza Rice Does Not Deserve a Boston College Honorary Degree," was written by the Rev. Kenneth Himes, chairman of the department of theology, and the Rev. David Hollenbach, who holds the Margaret O'Brien Flatley chair in the department, and sent to all faculty inviting their signatures.

The theology department said nearly 100 have signed it, but declined to release their names, The Boston Globe reported Wednesday. Rice was announced Monday as commencement speaker for the May 22 ceremonies.

Hollenbach said he has no objection to Rice being a speaker, but said she does not deserve an honorary degree. "On the levels of both moral principle and practical moral judgment, Secretary Rice's approach to international affairs is in fundamental conflict with Boston College's commitment to the values of the Catholic and Jesuit traditions and is inconsistent with the humanistic values that inspire the university's work," the letter said.

The letter also cited Pope John Paul II's objection to the Iraq war. The debate over the Rice invitation underscored tensions between liberal and conservative Catholics.

"This is the only time these people have cited Pope John Paul II on anything," said the Rev. Paul McNellis, who is an adjunct professor in the philosophy department.

Some faculty members said having such a notable speaker is an honor for the university. Political science professor Marc Landy said the letter was a "grotesque mistake" and sent his own letter asking colleagues not to sign the Himes-Hollenbach letter.

"This isn't about agreeing or disagreeing with Condoleezza Rice," Landy said. "She is the secretary of state of the United States, and there is a presumption in favor of according a warm and dignified reception to arguably the third most important
executive officer."

The State Department would not comment on the letter or say whether Rice had accepted the invitation. According to BC, however, she has confirmed.

And now, for something really interesting at the Medieval congress...

Although the majority of the philosophy sessions here have been good, it is refreshing to get out of academia, especially when the people can be somewhat insulated. Perhaps more on that in another post. Looking through the program I found a couple of sessions devoted to Western martial arts, and was able to attend the second one.

So, New Scot, you might enjoy this. The instructor, Mr. Bob Charron, was well-versed with medieval history and culture, which I found surprising, relating the manuals to writings of Cicero and Aristotle! Many of the (better?) martial arts manuals were attempts at a "scientific" exposition, with strict terminology and an elaboration of fundamental principles.

He also mentioned the fact that there were the medievals were keen on memorization techniques. It would be nice to learn some of those, though it may be too late for me. We are too dependent upon the written word.

Mr. Charron gave some demonstrations with a longer, two-handed sword. I would like to get his opinion on 16th and 17th century developments on the art of fencing. We talked a little about unarmed combat, and he mentioned the fact that Fiore dei Liberi (the subject of the talk) advised people to learn wrestling before striking, and speculated that this was to make people comfortable with closing in on the other person instead of fostering a bad habit of trying to avoid all contact. Interesting stuff.

Oh, by the way, there were 2 or 3 guys in the room with ponytails, including Mr. Charron.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Catherine Seipp on Jill Carroll and the Christian Science Monitor


The claims of importance by the Fourth Estate are quite exaggerated.

TimeAsia on the Dokdo dispute

Rocky Relations
A feud over some barren islands reignites old tensions between South Korea and Japan

"The peak oil crisis: a frenzy in Washington"

The peak oil crisis: a frenzy in Washington (original)
by Tom Whipple

"The Energy Wars" by Michael Hirsh

500th anniversary of the Swiss guards

Amy Welborn reports on the 500th anniversary of the Swiss guards. I'll try to look for some pics when I get back to Boston.

news from Kzoo

Well, New Scot, you would probably like it here, especially the exhibits section. Plenty of publishers here, plus some merchants selling this and that. I suppose you'd find much of the same stuff at a Renaissance Faire or a SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) event. Perhaps one of your colleagues over at Hudson Catholic would fit in. As for possible spouses, I am not sure if you would find someone appropriate here.

However, there is probably some weird stuff on the program--some early feminism, pagan spirituality, "queer" revisionism--I would not be surprised to see such things listed. But I'm not going to look through the program right now, maybe later.

I was treated to some of Dr. Timothy Noone's fine harmonica-playing last night. He gave a nice lesson about the origins of bluegrass music, its links to jazz and blues, how these genres that we tend to think of as being separate are actually tied together historically and sociologically, and how real American music is not appreciated here in the U.S. You would probably like some of the Southern dancing that originates in English country dance. It's unfortunate that they don't promote such things more over at Christendom.

My sister claims that she and her roommate are getting a reputation around the department for throwing parties; not so surprising perhaps. We'll have to see what happens tonight. (Heh, or if I'm even invited.)

Then again it's Friday, maybe I'll check out a certain movie, but I think the movie theater might be too far away for a walk in these clothes.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

"The Living Gospel, Proclaimed in its Integrity"

Code: ZE06050308
Date: 2006-05-03
More on Apostolic Tradition
"The Living Gospel, Proclaimed in its Integrity"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2006 ( Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address at today's general audience, which he dedicated to a continuing catechesis on the theme of "apostolic Tradition."

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, In this catechesis we wish to understand a little more what the Church is. Last time we reflected on the topic of apostolic Tradition. We have seen that it is not a collection of things or words, like a box of dead things. Tradition is the river of new life that proceeds from the origins, from Christ to us, and makes us participate in God's history with humanity. This topic of Tradition is so important that I would like to reflect on it again today. In fact, it is of great importance for the life of the Church.

The Second Vatican Council stated in this connection that Tradition is apostolic above all in its origins: "In his gracious goodness, God has seen to it that what he had revealed for the salvation of all nations would abide perpetually in its full integrity and be handed on to all generations.
Therefore, Christ the Lord in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion (see 2 Corinthians 1:20; 3:13; 4:6), commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching, and to impart to them heavenly gifts" (dogmatic constitution "Dei Verbum," No. 7).

The Council continues to point out that "This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had
learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing."

Leaders of the eschatological Israel -- they were also 12, like the tribes of the Chosen People -- the apostles continued the "meeting" begun by the Lord and they did so above all by faithfully transmitting the gift received, the Good News of the Kingdom that came to men with Jesus Christ. Their number not only expresses continuity with the holy root, the Israel of the 12 tribes, but also the universal destiny of their ministry, which brings salvation to the ends of the earth. It is expressed by the symbolic value that numbers have in the Semitic world: 12 results from the multiplication of 3, a perfect number, times 4, a number that makes reference to the four cardinal points, therefore, the whole world.

The community, born from the Gospel proclamation, feels called by the word of the first who experienced the Lord and who were sent by him. It knows that it can count on the guidance of the Twelve, as well as that of those who later are associated as successors in the ministry of the Word and in the service of communion.

Therefore, the community feels committed to transmit to others the "joyful news" of the actual presence of the Lord and of his paschal mystery, which operates in the Spirit. This is underlined in some passages of the letters of St. Paul: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received" (1 Corinthians 15:3). And this is important.

As is known, St. Paul, originally called by Christ with a personal vocation, is an authentic apostle
and yet, also in his case, what counts fundamentally is fidelity to what he has received. He did not want to "invent" a new, so to speak, "Pauline" Christianity. Therefore, he insists: "I deliver to you what I also received." He transmitted the initial gift that comes from the Lord, as it is truth that saves. Later, toward the end of his life, he wrote to Timothy: "guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (2 Timothy 1:14).

It is also shown with efficacy by this ancient testimony of the Christian faith, written by Tertullian around the year 200: "After first bearing witness to the faith in Jesus Christ throughout Judea, and rounding churches (there), they next went forth into the world and preached the same doctrine of the same faith to the nations. They [the apostles] then in like manner founded churches in every city, from which all the other churches, one after another, derived the tradition of the faith, and the seeds of doctrine, and are every day deriving them, that they may become churches. Indeed, it is on this account only that they will be able to deem themselves apostolic, as being the offspring of apostolic churches" ("De praescriptione Haereticorum," 20: PL: 2, 32).

The Second Vatican Council comments: "Now what was handed on by the Apostles includes everything which contributes toward the holiness of life and increase of faith of the peoples of God; and so the Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes" ("Dei Verbum," No. 8). The Church transmits all that she is and all that she believes; she transmits it in worship, in life, in doctrine.

Tradition is, therefore, the living Gospel, proclaimed by the apostles in its integrity, in virtue of the plentitude of her unique and unrepeatable experience: By her work, faith is communicated to others, until it reaches us, until the end of the world. Tradition, therefore, is the history of the Spirit that acts in the history of the Church through the mediation of the Apostles and their successors, in faithful continuity with the experience of the origins.

It is what Pope St. Clement of Rome explained toward the end of the first century: "The Apostles," he wrote, "proclaimed the Gospel to us sent by the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ was sent by God. Christ, therefore, comes from God, the Apostles from Christ: Both proceed in an orderly way from the will of God. Our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that disputes would arise around the episcopal function. Therefore, foreseeing the future perfectly, they established
the chosen ones and ordered them that at their death other men of proven virtue assume their service" [Ad Corinthios," 42.44: PG 1, 292.296].

This chain of service continues to our day; it will continue until the end of the world. In fact, the mission entrusted by Jesus to the apostles has been transmitted by them to their successors. Beyond the experience of personal contact with Christ, unique and unrepeatable, the apostles transmitted to their successors the solemn sending to the world received from the Master. The word apostle comes in fact from the Greek term "apostellein," which means to send.

The apostolic sending -- as the text of Matthew 28:19 and following shows -- "implies a pastoral service ('make disciples of all nations') a liturgical service ('baptizing them'), and a prophetic service ('teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you') guaranteeing closeness to the Lord until the end of the ages (I am with you always until the end of time')."

Thus, though in a manner different from the apostles, we also have an authentic and personal experience of the presence of the Risen Lord. Thanks to the apostolic ministry, Christ himself comes to one who is called to the faith, overcoming the distance of the ages and offering himself, living and working, today in the Church and the world.

This is our great joy. In the living river of Tradition, Christ is not separated from us by 2,000 years of distance, but is really present among us and gives us Truth, gives us Light and makes us live and find the Way to the future. [Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

In today's catechesis, we continue our reflections on the Church's apostolic Tradition. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, God willed that everything he had revealed in Christ for our salvation should remain in its entirety and be transmitted to all generations.

The Twelve Apostles were chosen and sent forth to proclaim the Gospel and the living presence of the Risen Lord in his Church. With the help of the Holy Spirit, they and their associates handed on, by their preaching, example and institutions, and by the inspired Scriptures, all that they themselves had received from Christ for the salvation of the world.

The Church in every age preserves and transmits what St. Paul calls the "rich deposit of faith" (cf. 2 Timothy 1:14). Tradition can thus be understood as the living voice of the Gospel, proclaimed
in its integrity by the apostles and passed down by their successors. This apostolic Tradition includes "all that helps God's people to live in holiness and grow in faith." Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes."

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including groups from Britain and Ireland, from Asia and from the United States of America. In this month of May, I entrust you to the maternal protection of Our Blessed Lady, Queen of Peace. Upon all of you I invoke the abundant blessings of our Risen Savior.

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Casino Royale teaser


Well... it looks good, but that's what a teaser should be. I don't know if this will be enough to reinvigorate the franchise; how much of the original storyline from the novel has been modified or updated? The major failing of the more recent Bond films has been the plot/script, especially when they updated the format to make it more of a contemporary action film. Can Daniel Craig pull off Bond? I hope he doesn't get typecast, though I don't really have a good idea of what his acting range is like, having seen only Munich and Layer Cake.

Flipping through Premiere and Entertainment Weekly at the airports this afternoon (both of which are featuring their Summer movie previews), I think I only saw 2 or 3 movies of interest... I suppose I will be watching M:I 3 sooner or later, just to see how JJ Abrams has saved the franchise and put Tom Cruise to work... plus Miami Vice. Can't remember what the third one was... I suppose I will look at the magazines again on Monday while I am waiting for flights.

Over at, there have been comments about how action heroes have the initials JB--Jack Bauer (24), Jason Bourne, James Bond, Jack Bristow (Alias), Jonas Blaine (The Unit)... interesting...

24 has been crazy this season, I am waiting to see how it ends...

1 year anniversary of Col. David A Hackworth's death

He passed away on May 4th, 2005. Despite any moral failings he might have had, he was a great leader of men and a soldier's soldier who knew his art.

Pictures from his funeral ceremony at Arlington May 31, 2005. A couple of relevant articles can be found at Soldiers for the Truth.

I'll write more reflections when I get a chance.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Back in South Bend...

staying over at my sister's, we'll be leaving for Kalamazoo tomorrow for the Medieval Congress... most likely I won't be blogging until Monday, perhaps I will have some interesting things to report then...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

AmericanPapist: The "Pure Fashion Show": a Catholic program fights back against fashion industry

AmericanPapist: Not Your Average Catholic!: The "Pure Fashion Show": a Catholic program fights back against fashion industry

(the article: "The New Modesty")

Peter Simpson and the Politics of Aristotle

I had a chance to see him when he came to BC for a special conference, "Truth, Life and Solidarity: Philosophical Perspectives On The Thought Of Pope John Paul II" (24-25 February 2006). I asked him to sign a copy of his A Philosophical Commentary on the Politics of Aristotle, which is one of the better commentaries I've seen on the Politics, fitting well within the scholastic tradition. He has a new book which examines the Constitution of the United States from an Aristotelian point of view; it should be published soon. (I haven't found an expected date of publication yet.) Prof. Simpson also wrote a book on the philosophy of Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II, On Karol Wojyla (Wadsworth Philosophers Series, Wadsworth, 2001).

While the Economics may not be an authentic work of Aristotle (although I'm inclined to think that it is at least Aristotelian in spirit), the Politics is. It is unfortunate that the text we have is incomplete (and that we do not have all of the constitutions that he collected). It is also unfortunate the St. Thomas did not finish his commentary on this text. Peter of Auvergne did, but I have not read it yet, and Peter of Auvergne's commentary (and questions on the Politics) are available only in Latin. (I wish my Latin skills were good enough that I could translate these quickly, and I also wish someone would pay me for it so I could publish it. I imagine Christoph Flüeler's Rezeption und Interpretation der Aristotelischen Politica im späten Mittelalter, 2 vols., is rather expensive.)

Professor Simpson presents his arguments for how the boooks of the Politics should actually be arranged in his commentary, and I think they are rather convincing. Hence, his commentary follows this order, rather than the received order that is still dominant.

Although I do have a keen interest in monarchies (there is an aura surrounding the throne and most royal families; there is also the desire to be a tyrant that can come out in fantasies), at the present moment I am more of an Aristotelian in my political views than anything else. While St. Thomas's mixed regime might have features of all three types of government, I wonder what he would have endorsed monarchy as THE ideal form of government or if he would have followed Aristotle in supporting both monarchy and aristocracy. Aristotle argues that if there is more than one virtuous person, and no one person surpasses the rest in virtue, it would be unjust to deprive any of them of a share in rule. Very few write from an Aristotelian point of view in commenting on current events and issues; many have articles in Chronicles magazine.

Because of Prof. Esolen's article on Sir Philip Sidney and Arcadia, I would like to get a copy of that to read; there are also the writings of St. Thomas More that I have not yet explored, along with John Althusius' Politica. More on medieval, Renaissance, and modern political theory as I progress.

Professor Simpson has his own personal website. A list of his publications. Read about his adventures in China. His faculty website at CUNY. (Which appears to be dead at the moment--I hope this is not permanent.)

John Haldane was also present at the conference. I'll have to devote separate posts to him and to analytical Thomism.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sidney's Arcadia

Professor Anthony Esolen recommends Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia.

Gas costs much more in Europe

As I thought, it's the price there is at least 2x more than it is here, because of taxes.

As Gas Nears $7 a Gallon, More Britons Take the Bus

Some snippets:
As Americans contemplate the misery of a summer of $3-per-gallon gas, drivers in Britain and much of continental Europe look on with resigned envy. High taxes long ago created some of the world's most expensive gasoline on this side of the Atlantic, where a family car is deemed more a luxury than a necessity and many people rely instead on extensive public transportation networks.

A snapshot of the future:

But even in Europe, where consumers are used to paying pump prices double, or more, what Americans pay, there is growing alarm over the effect of rising crude oil prices on fuel costs. Many motorists are driving less and altering the way they shop, take vacations and carry out other routines, according to interviews and opinion polls. Many airlines, delivery services and other fuel-dependent businesses are either passing increases on to consumers through higher prices or taking deep profit cuts.

Andris Piebalgs, the European Union's energy commissioner, warned last weekend that high oil prices were "destroying economic growth" in Europe.

Duties in Britain and the Netherlands

Williams said taxes account for about 66 percent of the pump price in Britain -- so of the current average price per gallon of $6.48, about $4.27 goes to the government. U.S. drivers pay an average of about 46 cents per gallon in combined state, federal and local taxes, according to the Tax Foundation, an independent organization in Washington.

Six years ago, when government taxes represented an even larger share of fuel costs, truckers, taxi drivers and other protesters blockaded Britain's oil refineries and storage depots to stop delivery to gas stations. The weeklong strike nearly paralyzed the country. British government officials said that in an effort to help consumers, they had frozen the primary tax on gasoline since 2003. It has remained at 47.1 pence per liter -- about $3.17 per gallon at today's exchange rates. On top of that duty, consumers also pay a 17.5 percent consumption tax.

In the Netherlands, gas is selling for about $6.16 per gallon, which includes $3.10 in duty and 19 percent sales tax, said Jelle Wils, spokesman for the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Wils said the government had held "heavy discussions" about tax cuts and other relief measures for consumers but decided not to interfere with market forces.


From The Lady Downstairs--

Dear American Oppressor:

In solidarity with oppressed foreign nationals living in your house, you should post my manifesto!!!! Especially if you value the security of the vulnerable electric kitchen appliances that are valid political targets!!!!

CANADIAN ALIEN MANIFESTO/Manifest des étranger(e)s canadien(ne)s

There are posters all over my neighbourhood encouraging foreigners to walk out of our jobs and protest our host/oppressor the American Government. Now since I am here legally, it might seem a bit ungrateful to do that, but at least I'm morally superior to people who snuck in. So in solidarity with oppressed Canadians studying all over the United States, living on stipends provided by rich capitalists to capitalist universities, I am walking out of my job (writing my Virtue Ethics paper) to make the following DEMANDS:

1. Each Starbucks must be replaced by a Tim Horton's or a Second Cup.

2. The bank machines must replace either the Spanish or the English instructions with French instructions. We have the MORAL RIGHT to have the French option to reject/utiliser.

3. Boston Bruins fans and fans of other American teams must be EJECTED for booing fans of
Canadian teams at hockey games. A ten minute penalty must be assigned the American team in that eventuality.

4. Canadians must be given ARMED ESCORTS when the Blue Jays beat the Red Sox or the Yankees.

5. All American flagpoles MUST fly the Canadian flag on July 1 et le drapeau du Quebec le 24 juin.

6. The Star-Spangled Banner must be REWRITTEN to reflect peaceful Canadian culture. We deplore the description of bombs bursting in the air as jingoist imperialist necrophilia.

7. Making fun of the way we say "house" and "about" is a HATE CRIME and must be prosecuted as such. Et ici on a le droit de parler francais bien sûr. Qui parle à moi en anglais me menace et ICI on peut acheter les fusils.

8. All Catholic churches should have "Canadian" masses in which we say the APOSTLES CREED instead of the Nicene Creed. All that "Light from Light" stuff makes our heads hurt and mass too long.

9. American schoolchildren should be taught to SPELL correctly and frequently reminded that Canada WON the War of 1812. Any protests that actually there was no Canada in 1812, it was just a sparsely populated outpost of Britain should result in suspensions and sensitivity training.

10. We don't give a damn about who gets the south-west but the 13 colonies (sauve le Maine qui est une parte de Nouvelle France par droit) HISTORICALLY and MORALLY belong to the British and therefore to the Dominion of Canada. GOD SAVE THE QUEEN! VIVE LE MAINE LIBRE!

Canadian Alien/Etrangèr(e) Canadien(ne)

pb says: Canadians have an odd sense of humor... please direct any comments to The Lady Downstairs. *flees*

What can be done? Some more Peak Oil resources

Post Carbon Institute
Sustainable Living Network
"Peak Oil and Permaculture: David Holmgren on Energy Descent" by Adam Fenderson
Permaculture Activist
Permaculture the Earth

See also The End of Suburbia and Farming Magazine, edited by David Kline

More pessimistic than James Howard Kunstler

Mike Ruppert, that is. Whether his speculation about the U.S. government's complicity in various events is right or not (or the criminal activities of various officials), I won't address. Mr. Ruppert's website (mirror).

Now for the reason for this poist: his latest speech--heads up to the person who posted this at JHK's blog. It's unfortunate that he doesn't list his sources for the various points he makes about what is going on in the world right now. Perhaps the various intelligence agencies within the Federal Government could confirm (or deny), but we don't have access to that information now, do we? Just whatever news reporters provide.

And a story (found at From the Wilderness):
The housing bubble has popped
Reports of falling sales and investors stuck with properties they can't sell are just the beginning. Property owners should worry; so should their lenders.
by Bill FleckensteinMSNMonday, April 24, 2006

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal, "Hot Homes Get Cold" offered lots of its useful vignettes that serve as a microcosm of manic markets -- starting with the bravado-cum-denial displayed by a medical-equipment salesman in Stuart, Fla.

Concerned about his real-estate investment apparently going sour, he can't afford to reduce the price to what homes now sell for in his neighborhood -- which is about $100,000 less than he's asking. Says the salesman: "If I got in a jam, I would have to drop the price, but I am not at that point." His game plan: Rent the house, so as not to "lose my shirt."

That's the mentality often seen in manic markets -- the belief that you can't possibly lose, and, when the price goes against you, you don't have to deal with it, because it will come back. This fellow (and millions more like him) is going to find out that his belief is a mistaken one, in the same way that folks did when the stock bubble burst.

Dwelling takes a little shelling

The story went on to note that many formerly hot markets in California, Arizona, Washington, D.C., and Florida are now "languishing without buyers or even prospects. Many once-booming markets are seeing double-digit declines in sales." The magnitude of the drop in Florida home prices (once the frothiest market in the country) is striking. Single-family home sales declined 20% in February, year-over-year. Similarly, California sales dropped 15%. Some of the hottest towns in those states were off twice as much.

I loved the point that what seems to be really alarming is how "real-estate agents in some of these formerly red-hot markets have been surprised at how suddenly (my emphasis) market conditions have deteriorated in the past few months." Of course, that's what happens when manic markets and bubbles turn. Prices change radically and, seemingly, for no reason.

Many people will say that the real-estate market has turned due to higher interest rates, and rising rates have hurt. But the real-estate market ignored rates going up for quite some time. Its topping was caused by exhaustion. Same with the stock bubble -- many folks think it was rising rates that caused the implosion. That isn't true. The stock bubble ran until it popped in March 2000, having ignored everything up to that point.

Symptoms of the doldrums

To me, it's not debatable that the real-estate bust is starting to gather steam. The top was approximately when Time Magazine published its June 12, 2005, cover story: "Home $weet Home: Why We're Going Gaga Over Real Estate". (For more, check out my June 13, 2005, column, "Straight talk on what the Fed has wrought," and my Aug. 29, 2005, column, "It's RIP for the housing boom.")

After having leveled off for a while, the real-estate market is now starting to slide. We're seeing signs of sales slowing and inventory accumulating, which are all quite classic, even though the timing of when this would begin was not possible to predict in advance.

Continuing on, the article noted that Florida is "ground zero for the housing market" and as good a laboratory as any to watch. The real power behind the housing bubble, i.e., irresponsible lending, was "exacerbated in Florida." Quoting from Mark Zandi,
chief economist at Moody's "There were more lenders, more realtors, more foreign investors" than the rest of the country -- which is how a hot market gets really wild.

The story cited the plight of investors who'd purchased homes in formerly hot housing developments that now resemble "ghost towns." One such individual is Paul Zani (no pun intended, I'm sure), who'd bought a couple of condos, listed them for more than he paid and now can't sell them. However, he doesn't want to reduce the price (even though he'll probably have to). This mentality is an example that many real-estate "investors" seem to share -- heads we win, tails the bank loses. (Some people are sanguine these days because, as the article notes, "while sales are slackening, they aren't collapsing." To that, I would add: "Yet." They will.)

By and by, heartburn for the bankers

It is indeed the financial institutions that are most at risk in the real-estate market (which is not to say that consumers and speculators won't get hurt). The lenders will bear the brunt of the pain, because in many cases, they loaned the entire purchase prices of many homes. As I have said often, the housing bubble has been more a lending bubble. It will be the impairment of the financial institutions that will stop the flow of credit to the real-estate market. In turn, that will accelerate the collapse in house prices somewhere along the way.

The story closed with a description of how slow the market has recently become in Florida -- via the following comments in an e-mail by real-estate broker Mike Morgan: "We went three days this week with not a single showing. That's incredible. I have 35 listings. We usually get 2-6 showings a day. ... I received more desperate calls from sellers than ever. One lady broke down into tears. Her husband bought two investment properties, and they are now going to lose their 'life savings' if they sell the homes in today's market."

Ladies and gentlemen, unfortunately, a lot of people around the country are going to be badly hurt as this bubble unwinds. And, after they have taken their losses, the
financial institutions that were the engine behind this folly will take their own hits. 'Easy Al' Greenspan at the Fed tried to bail out one bubble with another bubble. While it bought some time, it will end in far-worse pain.

The Hills are Alive

with the Sound of Music, of course...

Evidently some people enjoy running down hills, and then rolling down them. What would the seminarians or priests over at St. John's think of they had witnessed what I saw this afternoon? The Lady Downstairs says she will do this again when her friends come to visit later this month. If I'm around I will take some pictures.

Remember--next Winter you should get a sled!

If the Lady wishes to respond with her reasons, she can do so in comments. It doesn't really matter, since it's innocent fun and it made her laugh.

"The End of Sex?" -- on the destructive influence of pornography

The End of Sex?
Pornography is changing the nature of physical affection

Asad Yawar (AlexYawar)
Published on 2006-04-29 15:11 (KST)

In 2006, it seems impossible to write with any certainty about most things: the changing balance in international relations; the precise implications of global warming; who will win this summer's World Cup finals in Germany. But one thing does appears concrete: pornography, for so long a relatively unrecognized and unimportant phenomenon, appears to have become the industrialized world's
number one cultural product.

If that strikes you as surprising, then the following information should be instructive. Pornography is now globally worth $57 billion, with the United States - porn's spiritual home - accounting for $12 billion (by comparison, Hollywood is worth a mere $10 billion). In the United States, a conservative estimate of new pornographic movie production is 50 new movies a day, and more than 500 million porno films are rented every year. The latter figure of course excludes telephone sex - 250,000 Americans pay for this daily - and Internet porn, which is estimated to be worth at least $1 billion globally and generates an astonishing 70 percent of all revenues earned by online content providers.

Add into the mix all the pornography available on television, mobile phones, in "table-dancing" clubs - these are extremely popular in the United States and the United Kingdom, with there being around 700 such bars in Manhattan alone - and it seems that porn is beyond ubiquitous. One American cultural commentator recently concluded that the Western world has become "pornified"; with hardcore material easily procurable from the kiosks of Athens to the humble desktop in Cambridge, it is very hard to argue with this contention. But what does this actually mean? Is this mushrooming of manufactured sex a positive or negative development? What significance, if any, does it have for sex itself?

In fact, the pornographization of both public and private space has consequences so profound that it arguably already has changed the very nature of sex in five key ways.

Firstly, porn has seeped into the rest of popular culture, significantly altering how people think about sex. For example, an average hour on the three major American television networks - ABC, CBS and NBC - yield some 15 sexual acts, words and innuendos, or one every four minutes. Globally popular teleseries such as Sex in the City and even teen dramas such as The O.C. feature footage and/or storylines clearly influenced by pornography.

Strippers and prostitutes are featured with regularity in video games such as Grand Theft Auto. Overt sexual imagery is now used to sell everything from cars to alcoholic beverages. Arguably the most famous pornographic logo of all, the Playboy bunny, has now become a favorite of girls in their early teenage years and younger, who sport the logo on official badges, satchels and clothing.

The most obvious consequence of this is that women, and girls in their teens and twenties in particular, are regarded by many - including themselves - as little more than extras on a porn movie set. They are expected to be permanently sexually available in a way that renders any concern over the issue of consent to secondary importance. For example, as the pornography industry started to explode in the mid-1990s, a survey of U.S. college girls showed that 69.8 percent of them had been "verbally coerced" into having "unwanted sex"; in the United Kindom in 2006, 33 percent of all women say that they have been forced into sex. In other words, rape has been normalized, a trend which is reflected in ever more lenient prosecution and sentencing procedures. Moreover, women are increasingly expected to agree to practices - such as anal sex and faux lesbianism -which the vast majority of them find of no pleasure or even profoundly repulsive.

Secondly, pornography has made sex more violent. In a study detailed in David G. Myers's authoritative tome "The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty," Illinois psychologist David Duncan randomly selected 50 pornographic movies from a local video store, and broke them down by scene. The average movie contained 18 scenes, 20 percent of which contained violence and 30 percent of which contained "acts of degradation."On the Internet, things are even more extreme. A search for "sex + toys + torture" in Google yielded 4.85 million results. Journalist Lila Rajiva and academic Susan L. Brison are just two of many to have noted that a large number of the pictures that were flashed round the world from American-run prisons in Iraq were virtually indistinguishable from hardcore pornography, a fact that has not been lost on many commentators in the United States, from Rush Limbaugh to Frank Rich of The New York Times.

A Denmark-based sex site vaunts pages with titles like "needle torture," "pregnant bondage" and "drunk from the toilet"; a favorable review of products available from UK high street sex shop chain Ann Summers observes that "some of them look like instruments of torture...some of them are." In a relatively recent issue (Dec. 15-22, 2004), Time Out, a London listings and lifestyle magazine, enthused about the latest sexual practices going on in the suburbs of Britain's biggest city, including the rubbing of thorns into genitalia, the insertion of pre-freezed human feces into the anus and other similar trends whose relation to torture seems much stronger than to sex as conventionally understood by most people.

Thirdly, there has been a substantial shift in women's perceptions of self as a result of pornography: increasingly, they are unhappy with their most obviously female biological features, and are resorting to plastic surgery to change them. Breast augmentation is now the third most common surgical operation in the United States, with 291,000 operations carried out in 2005, despite concerns over the safety of such procedures; in the United Kingdom, the number of breast enlargement operations carried out rose by 51.4 percent in one year to 5,655 in 2005.

There has been a pronounced rise in the number of surgical interventions in the labial region, too: the hunt for the so-called "designer vagina" has been almost entirely fueled by pornography, as a specialist in this area, Dr Ronald Blatt, medical director of the Manhattan Centre for Vaginal Surgery, matter-of-factly explained to in June 2005: "People have suggested that they've looked at Playboy or Penthouse...They come in and say, 'Make it look like that.'"

This reflects a frightening level of insecurity amongst women about some of the most essential parts of their being, but it is a result that is not surprising given the results of another study by Texas A&M researcher Wendy Stock (1995). In a survey of 500 women who had recently viewed pornography, 42 percent said they felt bad about their bodies, 33 percent said that they felt sexually inadequate and 25 percent viewed sex as if it was a performance.

Fourthly, sex has been sped up beyond all recognition. An oft-quoted mid-1990s paper by Hans Bernd-Brosius found that sex in pornograhic movies of the 1980s generally lasted around five and a half minutes from first touch to graphic orgasm. In the era of the Internet and mobile telephony, porn has reduced sex to clip-size, something to be downloaded from server to wireless device, increasingly on the move: McSex.

This is not just unrealistic, but again, fatal to women's sexual fulfillment. As most cultures around the world have long known, the overwhelming majority of women thrive on sex that is focused, gentle and replete with physical and verbal stimulation, including kissing, caressing and conversation. In many Eastern cultures, including Hindu, Japanese and Islamic, foreplay - yes, that word - is not just recommended: it is a religious requirement. But pornography is turning thoughtful, loving intercourse into an historical curiosity.

Given all this, the fifth consequence of the massive and unprecedented pornographization of the developed world does not come as too much of a shock: there is a lot less of the real article about. We live, as the Swedish academics Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstrom have acerbically summarized, in an era in which Viagra is literally more valuable than gold: the drug for men who cannot otherwise get an erection costs $11,766 per pound, while gold is a merely $4,827 (at 2000 prices). The Guardian (23 April 2006) reports that a new generation of drugs, due to hit world markets in three years, promises not just sexual arousal, but a feeling of eagerness and enthusiasm about sex; apparently, this too is something that now needs to be manufactured.

In fact, those doing research in this area cannot fail to notice the glut of surveys which report almost uniformly that people are not interested in sex: they are too tired, disillusioned and insecure about sex to enjoy it. And many of these people are now coalescing into what is a very new social category: that of the "asexual." Asexuality - the condition was the subject of an October 2004 edition of New Scientist - is where an affected person feels no inclination to interact sexually. With anyone. Ever. And if that sounds extreme, then it should be noted that asexuals have come from nowhere to occupy their own distinct and growing place in the sexual continuum: estimates in the United Kingdom and the United States show that between 1 percent and 3 percent of the population is now asexual.

In his much-misunderstood tome, "The End of History and the Last Man," Francis Fukuyama recounts that Alexandre Kojeve, whom Fukuyama regards as Hegel's greatest interpreter of the 20th century, believed that once humankind had reached the promised land of material satisfaction, they would essentially revert to a stage of animality, where they "would indulge in love like adult beasts." Thanks to porn, it would appear that we have surpassed this stage. Modern sex is increasingly coercive, violent, demeaning and empty. And for this, all of us - men and women - are paying a scarcely imaginable price.

Thanks to Catholic Shinja.

See also: Pamela Paul and Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and our Families. (More information about her book at her website.)
Plus Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy. (A review of FCP by Wendy Shalit, author of A Return to Modesty. A discussion of Pornified and FCP over at Slate.)

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sigh. This happened where?

Leave it to angrytwins (or one of them at any rate) to uncover something embarrassing about BC.

Pics from the Holy Sepulchre

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theofilos III, right, walks with bishops as he takes part in the Easter Mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed by many Christians to be the site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem's Old City, Sunday, April 23, 2006. Orthodox Christians are marking the solemn period of Easter. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

Greek Patriarch Theofilos III attends Mass for Orthodox Easter in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, April 23, 2006. REUTERS/Oleg Popov
Reuters - Apr 23 5:19 AM

Ethiopian Orthodox worshippers hold candles during the 'Holy Fire' ceremony in the Ethiopian Church on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City April 22, 2006. REUTERS/Sharon Perry

REUTERS/Sharon Perry

An Armenian Orthodox Christian priest holds a candel as he takes part in the procession around the tomb, during the Ceremony of the Holy Fire in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed by many Christians to be the site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem's Old City, Saturday, April 22, 2006. The ceremony is meant to assure the worshippers that Jesus has not forgotten them and is sending a message of hope through the fire. (AP Photo/Baz Ratner)

Orthodox Christian worshippers and clergymen hold candles as they gather around the tomb, not seen, during the Ceremony of the Holy Fire in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed by many Christians to be the site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem's Old City, Saturday, April 22, 2006.

Orthodox nuns and a priest talk during the Ceremony of the Holy Fire ceremony during Easter celebrations at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, Saturday, April 22, 2006. The ceremony is meant to assure the worshippers that Jesus has not forgotten them and is sending a message of hope through the fire. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

(AP Photo/Baz Ratner)

Pics from Queen Elizabeth's Birthday Festivities

Queen Elizabeth II (L) laughs as she passes a gift of a Union Jack baseball cap to an aide during a walkabout to celebrate her 80th birthday in Windsor, England, April 21. In yet a further homage for her 80th birthday, Queen Elizabeth II has been hailed for imparting a "sense of calmness, serenity and stillness" to Britons buffeted by a turbulent world.(AFP/Pool/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

In this image made available in London by the British Army, Thursday April 21, 2006, six 105mm Light Guns from the airborne Royal Horse Artillery, fire a 21 gun salute at Abbey Field in Colchester, England, to honour Queen Elizabeth II's 80th birthday. It was the first time a royal salute had been fired at Colchester.(AP Photo/Chris Fletcher, Army ho)

Gunteams from the The Kings Troop of the Royal artillery fire a twenty-one gun salute in London's Hyde Park in honour of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II's 80th birthday. Shouts of "Happy Birthday!" rang round the royal town of Windsor as the Queen smiled and thanked thousands of well-wishers who gathered to celebrate her 80th.(AFP/Odd Andersen)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II stands on the steps of St George's Chapel with The Right Reverend David Connor (L) and Prince Philip following a service of celebration in honour of her 80th birthday in Windsor, south England, April 23, 2006. The Queen was praised for her 'calmness, serenity and stillness' at a special service of thanksgiving on Sunday to mark her 80th birthday. REUTERS/Leon Neal

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves St George's Chapel in Windsor following a service of celebration in honour of her 80th birthday April 23, 2006. The Queen was praised for her 'calmness, serenity and stillness' at a special service of thanksgiving on Sunday to mark her 80th birthday. REUTERS/Leon Neal

(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

(Something for the New Scot.) Britain's Princess Beatrice, left, and Princess Eugenie arrive at Kew Palace in west London, Friday April 21, 2006, to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's 80th birthday. Prince Charles, the heir to his mother's throne, was to host a dinner Friday night for the queen at Kew Palace in suburban London. The guest list was small and exclusive, two dozen very close family member, and a 10-minute firework display was planned before the meal. (AP Photo/Sang Tan, Pool)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II stands to watch a firework display with four of her grandchildren, Prince William (rear L), Peter Phillips (rear 2nd L), Zara Phillips (rear 2nd R), and Prince Harry (rear R) at Kew Palace in Kew Gardens, London, England April 21, 2006. The Queen is celebrating her 80th birthday with a private family dinner. REUTERS/John Stillwell /PA/ WPA Pool

Eric L. Haney

Eric L. Haney, Command Sergeant Major, ret. was "one of the founding members" of 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, aka "Delta Force," and is author of Inside Delta Force. His website. He first collaborated with David Mamet for the film Spartan, starring Val Kilmer.

Recent interview with him:

Article Launched: 03/26/2006 12:06:00 AM PST

'Unit's' military expert has fighting words for Bush
By David Kronke, TV Critic

Eric Haney, a retired command sergeant major of the U.S. Army, was a founding member of Delta Force, the military's elite covert counter-terrorist unit. He culled his experiences for "Inside Delta Force" (Delta; $14), a memoir rich with harrowing stories, though in an interview, Haney declines with a shrug to estimate the number of times he was almost killed. (Perhaps the most high-profile incident that almost claimed his life was the 1980 failed rescue of the hostages in Iran.) Today, he's doing nothing nearly as dangerous: He serves as an executive producer and technical adviser for "The Unit," CBS' new hit drama based on his book, developed by playwright David Mamet. Even up against "American Idol," "The Unit" shows muscle, drawing 18 million viewers in its first two airings.

Since he has devoted his life to protecting his country in some of the world's most dangerous hot spots, you might assume Haney is sympathetic to the Bush administration's current plight in Iraq (the laudatory cover blurb on his book comes from none other than Fox's News' Bill O'Reilly). But he's also someone with close ties to the Pentagon, so he's privy to information denied the rest of

We recently spoke to Haney, an amiable, soft-spoken Southern gentleman, on the set of "The Unit."
Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?
A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.

We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.

Q: What is the cost to our country?
A: For the first thing, our credibility is utterly zero. So we destroyed whatever credibility we had. ... And I say "we," because the American public went along with this. They voted for a second Bush administration out of fear, so fear is what they're going to have from now on. Our military is completely consumed, so were there a real threat - thankfully, there is no real threat to the U.S. in the world, but were there one, we couldn't confront it. Right now, that may not be a bad thing, because that keeps Bush from trying something with Iran or with Venezuela. The harm that has been done is irreparable. There are more than 2,000 American kids that have been killed. Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed ñ which no one in the U.S. really cares about those people, do they? I never hear anybody lament that fact. It has been a horror, and this administration has worked overtime to divert the American public's attention from it. Their lies are coming home to roost now, and it's gonna fall apart. But somebody's gonna have to clear up the aftermath and the harm that it's done just to what America stands for. It may be two or three generations in repairing.

Q: What do you make of the torture debate? Cheney ...
A: (Interrupting) That's Cheney's pursuit. The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It's about vengeance, it's about revenge, or it's about cover-up. You don't gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that. It's worse than small-minded, and look what it does.

I've argued this on Bill O'Reilly and other Fox News shows. I ask, who would you want to pay to be a torturer? Do you want someone that the American public pays to torture? He's an employee of yours. It's worse than ridiculous. It's criminal; it's utterly criminal. This administration has been masters of diverting attention away from real issues and debating the silly. Debating what constitutes torture: Mistreatment of helpless people in your power is torture, period. And (I'm saying this as) a man who has been involved in the most pointed of our activities. I know it, and all of my mates know it. You don't do it. It's an act of cowardice. I hear apologists for torture say, "Well, they do it to us." Which is a ludicrous argument. ... The Saddam Husseins of the world are not our teachers. Christ almighty, we wrote a Constitution saying what's legal and what we believed in. Now we're going to throw it away.

Q: As someone who repeatedly put your life on the line, did some of the most hair-raising things to protect your country, and to see your country behave this way, that must be ...
A: It's pretty galling. But ultimately I believe in the good and the decency of the American people, and they're starting to see what's happening and the lies that have been told. We're seeing this current house of cards start to flutter away. The American people come around. They always do.

On the other hand, "Delta Force Vets Dismiss Claims Of 'The Unit' Writer."

The Unit

Created by David Mamet and Eric Haney and based on Eric Haney's book Inside Delta Force, The Unit is about Delta Force, even though that name is never used in the show. The show deals with both the operations the members of one team undertake, and the family life back at the fictional Ft. Griffith. (I think the name is Ft. Griffith, I'll have to pay attention when I watch the next episode.) The show airs on Tuesday nights on CBS, 9 P.M.

Some pics from the official CBS website.

Info about Lt. Colonel Charles A. Beckwith, the founder of 1st SFOD-D.
Lt. Colonel Charles A. Beckwith: An Unforgettable Character
His book, Delta Force : The Army's Elite Counterterrorist Unit

Ratings have been fairly decent, given the fact that it and NCIS are up against American Idol and House. (I wonder if House is doing well--I like the show because of House's character, as flawed as he is.) I have not come across any news that The Unit will be renewed next year; there are 5 episodes left to air. The last episode dealt with SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) -- I don't know how realistic it was (perhaps tamer than real-life); so far CQB has been featured in only 2 episodes, one time as a part of a dream sequence and the other as a part of their training. "Behind Closed Doors" with Joan Lunden did one episode on the FBI HRT (Hostage Rescue Team)--part of their training includes CQB drilling in their own special 'kill house'..

HK German site

It appears to be better than he US one.


USP compact

MG4 machine gun


More pics from Sandhurst

Britain's Prince Harry is seen in this April 12, 2006 file photo saluting after the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, southern England. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

(REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)

Britain's Prince William chats with General Michael Jackson, Chief of the General Staff, after the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, southern England April 12, 2006. (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)

Britain's royal family and military staff pose for the media after the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, southern England April 12, 2006.(REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)

Prince Charles and Camilla. (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)

(REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)

Britain's Prince William (2nd L) watches the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, southern England April 12, 2006. (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)

(REUTERS/Dylan Martinez) He has inherited the height and hair from his father and grandfather. But at least he is not making a big deal out of it, and undoubtedly women will overlook it for his other possessions.

Prince William attends the Sovereign's Parade at Sandhurst Military Academy, in south-east England, on April 12. (AFP/File/Carl De Souza)

Prince Harry on a training exercise exercise at the elite Sandhurst academy, November 2005. Harry visited a strip club with some friends to celebrate the end of his army officer training course, British tabloids have reported.(AFP/Crown Copyright/File)

In this handout picture released by the British Ministry of Defence and obtained on April 11, Prince Harry (R) wears the beret of the Blues and Royals in his final training exercise, in Cyprus, March 2006. With her 80th birthday less than a fortnight away, Queen Elizabeth II travelled to Britain's elite Sandhurst military academy for the passing out of a fresh crop of young army officers -- including her own grandson Prince Harry.(AFP/Ministry of Defence/HO/Ian Holding)

UGH loss of data

For some reason, I am losing data when editing and posting--I am not sure what the cause of this problem might be...

Some relevant articles on peak oil and the financial system

"Who Owns the Dollar? Our currency and our economy are held hostage by Asia" by Paul Craig Roberts
"End of the Binge" by James Howard Kunstler

Tim Russert doesn't get it...

nor do most of the people appearing on the Sunday morning political shows today... whether it be the Secretary of Energy, or the representatives of the oil industry, or so-called energy "experts," or various politicians on Capitol Hill. Everyone is avoiding the topic of peak oil, perhaps out of ignorance, perhaps out of duplicity. There are those who advocate alternate fuels; unfortunately many Americans think alternate fuels are feasible, unaware of the physics that are involved. In order for alternate fuels (hydrogen, ethanol, what-have-you) to be viable as an alternative to carbon fuels, they have to be produced in great quantities. For hydrogen and ethanol to be available in great quantities though, they must be produced from other more available 'basic' materials, and this requires huge energy inputs. Few calculate the costs of energy involved in the generation of these alternate fuels--most just assume that all we ened to do is invest in retooling our energy industries to make these fuels and everything will be fine.

Agriculture has been transformed into an industry, one that is heavily dependent upon oil, but most dwellers in cities and suburbia have no clue about agriculture and what it takes, relying on our centralized economy and chains of supply to keep our needs satisfied and living blissfully unaware of the fragile foundations of our current system of economic arrangements.

Info for today's show.

Meet the Press website. Meet the Press podcast. VOD. The MSNBC political blog.

And of course during the time period for MtP they air the ad for

There's also CBS' Face the Nation. The webpage should be updated shortly to include today's discussion about gas prices. Their website needs to be overhauled if they want to compete with Tim Russert.

Metropolitan finally available on DVD

Whit Stillman's Metropolitan is finally available on DVD, as a part of the Criterion Collection.

Review of Metropolitan by Christopher Orr. An interview with Mr. Stillman. (Thanks to AustenBlog.)

I made one of my sections of Philosophy of Person watch Metropolitan (they had seen In the Company of Men earlier that semester)--I don't know how they reacted to that movie, though they did write about it for the final exam, iirc.

Mr. Stillman's other movies include Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco, which is out of print (but I suspect it will eventually be re-released by another company.) One can only hope that his next film will be out soon, the state of America cinema these days is rather abysmal. A friend inquired about Hostel this afternoon as we were taking a walk around Brighton, and we were left deploring the "culture of death."

Manners and boundaries... and the attempt to strengthen them through the adoption of tradition... while women and men will continue to be perplexed by each other regardless of how "open" and "informal" they are with one another (and usually such informality and radical egalitarianism works to the deteriment to women, as the Lady Downstairs will attest), the careful circumscription of relations is actually liberating, in so far as it provides for the recognition that men and women are different from one another and allows one to treat serious matters seriously, without being mocked or considered "weird" as a result. Rules enable (that is, make possible) growth and maturity rather than hindering development. George Weigel's "A Better Concept of Freedom," summarizing the writings of Servais Pincakers, O.P., make clear the different conceptions of freedom, which ultimately influence our perceptions of everything from ethics to the seemingly more mundane topic of manners and etiquette.