Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Jesuit Ratio Studiorum

From the Catholic Encyclopedia (1917) entry:
The term "Ratio Studiorum" is commonly used to designate the educational system of the Jesuits; it is an abbreviation of the official title, "Ratio atque Institutio Studiorum Societatis Jesu", i.e. "Method and System of the Studies of the Society of Jesus".
Drawn up when Claudius Acquaviva was the superior general of the Society of Jesus, the Ratio atque Institutio Studiorum Societatis Jesu is the handbook on education for the Jesuits, drawing upon both the traditions of the Catholic universities, especially the University of Paris, and those of Renaissance humanism. It was modified in the last century, to bring the course of studies 'up-to-date'; I have not looked at the changes, but I suspect that they were vague and not improvements. (Involving a devaluation of philosophy, and a failure to recognize how human reason attains knowledge?) I have a copy of the edition put out by the Institute of Jesuit Sources; I think it's the bilingual Latin-English critical edition. Another book I should read...

BC's The Ratio Studiorum of 1599
Translation by Allan P. Farrell, S.J.: pdf, html

Saint Louis University's Pedagogica site

Juan Luis Vives, a Renaissance humanist and friend of Erasmus, was also an educational theorist. U. of Illinois Press bio. I think I came upon his book on education once at the Christendom library--it would be nice to read through it again.

Father Cantalamessa on the Duty to Love

Code: ZE06051902
Date: 2006-05-19
Father Cantalamessa on the Duty to Love
Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on This Sunday's Gospel

ROME, MAY 19, 2006 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa on this
Sunday's Gospel reading. He is the preacher to the Pontifical Household.

* * *

To "Have" to Love

"This is my commandment: That you love one another as I have loved you. ... What I command you is that you love one another."

Love is a commandment? Can love be made a commandment without destroying it? What relationship can there be between love and duty, given that one represents spontaneity and the other obligation?

We must know that two types of commandments exist. There is a commandment or obligation that comes from outside, from a will other than my own, and a commandment or obligation that comes from within, which is born from the thing itself. The stone thrown into the air or the apple that falls from the tree is "obliged" to fall, it cannot do anything else, not because it is imposed on it, but because there is an inner force of gravity that attracts it to the center of the earth.

In the same way, there are two great ways according to which man can be induced to do or not do something: by constriction or by attraction. The law and ordinary commandments induce him the first way: by constriction, with the threat of punishment. Love induces him the second way: by attraction, by an interior impulse.

Each one, in fact, is attracted by what he loves, without suffering any
constriction from outside. Show a child a toy and you will see him try to take it. Who pushes him? No one, he is attracted by the object of his desire. Show a good to a soul thirsting for truth and it will go out to it. Who pushes it? No one; it is attracted by its desire.

But if it is so -- that is, that we are spontaneously attracted by goodness and truth which is God, what need is there, one might ask, to make this love a commandment and a duty? The fact is that we are surrounded by other goods and run the risk of missing the target, of tending to false goods and thus losing the supreme good.

As a spaceship going to the sun must follow certain rules so as not to fall into the sphere of gravity of an intermediary planet or satellite, the same is true for us in our tending to God. The Commandments, beginning with "the first and greatest of all," which is to love God, serves this purpose.

All this has a direct impact on human life and also on human love. There are increasingly numerous young people who reject the institution of marriage and choose so-called free love, or simply living together. Marriage is an institution; once contracted, it obliges one to be faithful and to love one's partner for life. But, what need is there to transform love, which is instinct, spontaneity, vital impulse, into a duty?

The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard gives a convincing answer: "Only when there is a duty to love, is love guaranteed forever against any alteration; eternally liberated in happy independence; assured in eternal bliss against all despair."

He means: The man who truly loves, wants to love forever. Love needs to have eternity as its horizon; otherwise it is no more than a game, a "kind misunderstanding" or a "dangerous pastime."

That is why, the more intensely we love, the more we perceive with anguish the danger in loving, a danger that does not come from others, but from ourselves. We know that love is variable, and that tomorrow, alas, we might get tired and not love any more. And, now that we are in love, we see with clarity the irreparable loss that that would imply, and here we take the precaution of "binding" ourselves to love forever.

Duty removes love from variability and anchors it in eternity. One who loves is happy to "have" to love; it seems to him to be the most beautiful and liberating commandment in the world.

[Translation by ZENIT]
Sandro Magister, End of the Story for the Founder of the Legionaries of Christ

Friday, May 19, 2006

Photos from Le Barroux

gallery at
gallery at

Thanks to The New Liturgical Movement.

Hong Kong Police

I like the sound of it better when there was a "Royal" before it... The English homepage. 'Organisation structure.'

They changed their uniform last year. As one of my uncles said, "They can't differentiate themselves from normal security guards." And he was right--security guards in Hong Kong typically wear the same sort of jackets.
(More photos of the new uniform here.)

The older uniforms were borrowed from the British, and I think they look better. (Summer and Winter) I can't say much for the models, but that probably means they're real police constables. (More of the OSPU.)

I suppose if I were living in Hong Kong and not working as a teacher, I would try to get a job in civil service or with the police. Working in business isn't my thing, and I would prefer not to work in a mom-and-pop shop or store. I don't think I'd be able to farm in one of the outlying villages in the New Territories--seems like one has to be born into one of the families there.

No news as to when PTU 2 might start filming; Johnnie To's most recent film, Election 2 was released earlier this year, but is not available on DVD yet. Will PTU 2 take place over the course of one night, or will it cover a longer time period? I hope all of the cast will be back for the sequel.
PTU stands for Police Tactical Unit--their normal everyday function is to patrol the streets in high-risk areas. (Hrm, like where there is a lot of gang activity?)

Press release on the SDU, which is the SWAT unit for the Hong Kong Police. There were a couple of movies made recently about SDU, most featuring Michael Wong. The first one, The Final Option was probably the best; I saw two of the sequels and the quality wasn't so good. Michael Wong went on to make a series of SDU movies after that--they looked like made-for-TV productions, at least from the covers.

(the Mainland Chinese police recently updated their uniforms as well, though some have asserted that they stole their uniform designs from South Korea--I'll post some pictures when I get a chance)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dr. Who Radio Dramas

Big Finish has produced some Doctor Who radio dramas, including some 'what-if' ones that look very promising. Paul McGann, as Doctor #8 is featured in many of them. My hunch is that the best of the radio dramas will be better than the new series, because they will be closer to "classic" Who; the new series just has too much of the handprint of Russell T. Davies all over it. (Or whoever is in creative control.) There certainly is plenty to dislike in the new series, even if some think that because of the changes/updates, it's more hip, the Doctor is easier to relate to, etc.

Then again, there is at least one radio drama, "The Council of Nicaea" that may be anti-Christian; certainly it denigrates a great saint, Saint Athanasius.

I don't mind a Doctor with a dark past, or who has moral flaws, is manipulative, or has even done bad things in the past. The radio dramas (not officially 'canonical) do try to explore these other facets of the character. Doctor #9 may have tried to be a bada$$, but it was mostly a front, as we see in his last 2 episodes. Much of his 'courage' was really anger against the Daleks for the Time War and the death and destruction they caused. Doctor #10 has said he is less merciful and will only give one chance--will he mean it? He is more the 'man of action' but how long before the scripts begin to shape the character in a different and disappointing direction? Fortunately, so far they have managed to keep away any suspicion of hanky-panky from him, despite turning Sarah Jane into a smitten girl. I suppose it's too unrealistic for us to see a platonic friendship develop between an older man and a young woman. It'd much easier if the Doctor looks old, like William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, or Jon Pertwee.

Maybe it's just time to put Who aside and to move on to something better...

Some reviews of everything Who.

Fr. Cantalamessa's website

Welcome page. English.

(while we're at it, Fr. Corapi's website...)

Benedict XVI: Profile of St. Peter

Code: ZE06051702
Date: 2006-05-17

Profile of St. Peter

"Occasionally Naive and Fearful, Yet Honest and Capable of

VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2006 (
Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at today's general audience, which he dedicated to the spiritual journey of "Peter the fisherman."

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

In the new series of catecheses we have tried to understand above all what the Church is, what the Lord's idea is about this new family. Then we said that the Church exists in people, and we have seen that the Lord entrusted this new reality, the Church, to the Twelve Apostles. Now we wish to contemplate them one by one, to understand through these persons what it means to live in the Church, to follow Christ. We begin with St. Peter.

After Jesus, Peter is the most known and quoted personality in the New Testament: He is mentioned 154 times with the nickname "Petros," "stone," "rock," which is the Greek translation of the Aramaic name that Jesus gave him directly, "Kefa," witnessed on nine occasions, especially in Paul's letters. Also to be added, moreover, is the name Simon, used frequently (75 times), which is the form adapted to the Greek of his original Hebrew name, Simeon (twice:
Acts 15:14; 2 Peter 1:1).

Son of John (cf. John 1:42) or, in the Aramaic form, "bar-Jona," son of Jonas (cf. Matthew 16:17), Simon was from Bethsaida (John 1:44), a town that was located east of the Sea of Galilee, from which Philip also came and, of course, Andrew, Simon's brother. His accent when speaking was Galilean.

Like his brother, he was a fisherman: With the family of Zebedee, father of James and John, he headed a small fishing business on the Lake of Gennesaret (cf. Luke 5:10). For this reason, he must have enjoyed a certain financial ease and was animated by a sincere religiosity that moved him to go with his brother to Judea, to follow the preaching of John the Baptist (John 1:35-42).

He was a faithful Jew, who believed in God's active presence in the history of his people, and was pained at not seeing His powerful action in the events of which he was, at that time, a witness. He was married and his mother-in-law, cured one day by Jesus, lived in the city of Capernaum, in the house where Simon also stayed, when he was in that city (cf. Matthew 8:14ff; Mark 1:29ff; Luke 4:38ff).

Recent archaeological excavations have made it possible to bring out into the light, under the mosaic floor of octagonal shape of a small Byzantine church, the remains of a more ancient church, built in that house, as attested by the graffiti with invocations to Peter. The Gospels tell us that Peter was among the first four disciples of the Nazarene (cf. Luke 5:1-11), to whom was added a fifth in keeping with the custom of the rabbis to have five disciples (cf. Luke 5:27: the calling of Levi). When Jesus went from five to 12 disciples, the novelty of his mission became clear: He was not one of the many rabbis, but had come to gather the eschatological Israel, symbolized by the number 12, the number of the tribes of Israel.

Simon appears in the Gospels with a strong and impulsive character; he is ready to make his opinions felt, even by force (he used the sword in the Garden of Olives, cf. John 18:10ff). At the same time, he is also occasionally naive and fearful, yet honest and capable of sincere repentance (cf. Matthew 26:75). The Gospels allows us to follow his spiritual itinerary step by step.

The starting point was the call by Jesus, which came on a day like any other, while Peter was busy at his work as a fisherman. Jesus was on the Lake of Gennesaret and the crowds surrounded him to hear him. The number of those listening to him created certain difficulties. The Master saw two boats by the lake. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He asked them if he could get into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and he asked him to put out a little from the land. He sat down on that improvised chair, and taught the people from the boat (cf. Luke 5:1-3).

Thus, Peter's boat became Jesus' chair. When he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets" (Luke 5:10). Jesus, who was a carpenter, was not a fishing expert and, yet, Simon the fisherman trusted this Rabbi, who gave him no answers but called on him to have faith.

His reaction to the miraculous catch was one of astonishment and trepidation: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8). Jesus replied inviting him to have confidence and to be open to a project that would surpass all expectations. "Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men" (Luke 5:10). Peter could not yet imagine that one day he would arrive in Rome and would be there a "fisher of men" for the Lord. He accepted this astonishing call to let himself be involved in this great adventure: He was generous; he recognized his limits but believed in the One Who called him and followed his heart. He said yes and became a disciple of Christ.

Peter experienced another significant moment on his spiritual journey near Caesarea Philippi, when Jesus posed a specific question to his disciples: "Who do men say that I am?" (Mark 8:27). For Jesus it was not enough to have a hearsay answer. He wanted the one who had accepted to commit himself personally to him, to take a personal stance. That is why he insisted: "But who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:29). And it was Peter who replied on behalf of the others: "You are the Christ" (ibid.), that is, the Messiah.

This reply, which "flesh and blood has not revealed" but the Father who is in heaven (cf. Matthew 16:17), has within it the seed of the Church's future profession of faith. However, Peter had not yet understood the profound substance of Jesus' messianic mission, as became clear shortly afterward when he made it known that the Messiah he sought in his dreams was very different from God's plan. Faced with the announcement of the passion, he cried out and
protested, arousing Jesus' strong reaction (cf. Mark 8:32-33).

Peter wanted as Messiah a "divine man," who fulfilled people's expectations, imposing his force upon everyone: We also want the Lord to impose his force and transform the world immediately; yet Jesus presented himself as the "human God," who overturned the expectations of the multitude by following the path of humility and suffering. It is the great alternative, which we also must learn again: to favor our own expectations rejecting Jesus or to accept Jesus in the
truth of his mission and lay aside all too human expectations.

Peter, who is impulsive, does not hesitate to take him to one side and reprehend him. Jesus' response demolishes all false expectations, calling him to conversion and to follow him: "Get behind me, Satan!For you are not on the side of God but of men" (Mark 8:33). Do not show me the way, I follow my way and you follow me.

Peter thus learned what following Jesus really means. It is the second call, as Abraham's in Genesis, Chapter 22, after that of Genesis, Chapter 12. "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel's will save it" (Mark 8:34-35). It is the exacting law to follow him: It is necessary to be able to deny oneself, if necessary, the whole world to save the true values, to save the soul, to save the presence of God in the world (cf. Mark 8:36-37). And though
with difficulty, Peter accepted the invitation and continued his path in the footsteps of the Master.

I think that these different conversions of St. Peter and his whole figure are a motive of great consolation and a great teaching for us. We also desire God, we also want to be generous, but we also expect God to be strong in the world and that he transform the world immediately, according to our ideas and the needs we see.

God opts for another way. God chooses the way of the transformation of hearts in suffering and humility. And we, like Peter, must always be converted again. We must follow Jesus and not precede him. He shows us the way. Peter tells us: You think you have the recipe and that you have to transform Christianity, but the Lord is the one who knows the way. It is the Lord who says to me, who says to you, "Follow me!" And we must have the courage and humility to follow Jesus, as he is the way, the truth and the life.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, the Pope read the following summary in English:]

In our weekly catecheses, we have been considering the apostolic ministry as a form of service to the Church's communion in faith and in the living tradition that comes from the apostles. Today we begin to look at the individual apostles as they are portrayed in the New Testament, beginning with St. Peter.

A fisherman from Galilee, married, the brother of Andrew, Peter was chosen by the Lord as one of his first disciples. His strong, impulsive and openhearted character, and his deep religiosity are evident in the account of his calling.

Having fished all night and caught nothing, Peter trusted fully in Jesus' word, and, after witnessing the miraculous haul of fishes, accepted his call to follow him as a fisher of men (cf. Luke 5:10). At Caesarea Philippi, Peter speaks for the other disciples in acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah (Mark 8:29), but he is scandalized when the Lord reveals that his mission will include
suffering, rejection and death.

Peter must painfully learn the meaning of conversion and true discipleship, following in the footsteps of the Master by embracing the mystery of the cross.

[The Pope then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors, especially those from England, Ireland, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Canada and the United States of America. Upon all of you I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Risen Lord. May your stay in Rome be a happy one, filled with grace and blessings!

© Copyright 2006 -– Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]

"Decisions, Decisions" by Thomas Jeffries

Part 1; Part 2

Schwartz offers plenty of advice for today's overwhelmed choosers, such as reducing deliberations about unimportant decisions; controlling unrealistic expectations; spending less time regretting past decisions; and, unless you're truly dissatisfied, sticking with choices that have satisfied in the past. The common thread to all his suggestions is "satisfice more and maximize less."

While these are all worthwhile ideas, the best suggestions are the
ones Schwartz and Straus don't mention: Pray. Search the Scriptures. Seek the advice of mature Christians. Trust God. As I explained in Part 1, I am convinced that He is more than able to let us know when we're making a wrong choice, and do so before it's too late. So instead of "satisfice more and maximize less," why not adopt a new mantra: "trust God more and fear commitment less"? Why not treat a serious relationship as if it could be "the one," trusting that God will make it clear if it's a mistake?

The alternative is to view romance like an apartment lease — the commitment only lasts 6-12 months, and then you're free to move out and move on. Sure, you'll never have to bear the responsibility of a
mortgage, but you'll also spend the rest of your life paying rent with nothing to show for it.

As for me, I knew I wanted to stop renting about two months after I started dating the woman who would become my wife. Yet even though we were obviously in love, we wanted to make sure we were making the right decision. We prayed about our relationship, both by ourselves and together. We sought the opinions of our pastor and mutual friends. And we trusted God.

We also refused to be maximizers. No more shopping for better ptions. After all, the only way to know if our relationship would last a lifetime was to treat it like it could.

We've been together ever since.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

5 years of college, and all I got was...

5, not 4, because I'm guessing the typical undergrad these days takes at least 5 years to complete a bachelor's degree.

On ABC World News Tonight there was a segment on the job market for this year's college graduates--according to them, the market is rather good; colleges report more visits by recruiters, more hires by recruiters, etc. I don't know how good their sampling is though. Perhaps it is an attempt by the mass media to put a positive spin on things, or another example of reporting from ignorance. They quoted the job statistics for this year, but failed to make a correlation between those statistics and the limited range of first-choice jobs that college graduates probably want. No doubt there are the lucky ones who have good grades, internship or work experience, and the skills to get by in the business world and are most likely recruited by companies. But what of the rest, who are in the middle or the bottom of the pack? If things are really worse than they appear, what passes for news is actually a misinformation campaign, and the neglect being exercised is almost criminal.

From Mother Jones:
Exporting America: An Interview With Lou Dobbs

News: The CNN anchor is mad as hell about offshore outsourcing and
faith-based economics.
Interviewed By Jeff Fleischer
February 7, 2005

When American manufacturing jobs headed overseas in the 1990s,
supporters of tariff-free trade argued that newly unemployed workers could simply find jobs in the growing high-tech sector. Yet multinational corporations soon outsourced white-collar and service-industry jobs as well, with overseas labor fielding support questions from computer users, programming software, and even examining X-rays and MRI scans for American consumers.

Outsourcing has found a fierce opponent in journalist Lou Dobbs. Since 2003, his CNN news show Lou Dobbs Tonight has featured a recurring segment in which Dobbs and his team report on corporations sending jobs overseas. He has compiled an online list of outsourcers, and recently wrote a book on the practice entitled Exporting America. Dobbs recently spoke with
about outsourcing and its effects, current and potential, on the American economy. When did the current outsourcing trend really
begin in earnest?

Lou Dobbs: It began really with the collapse of the telecom and
communications bubble in 2000. The corporations took advantage of a digital universe to start moving jobs overseas to cheaper labor markets, and then expanded from there -- to what's now an estimated 400,000-500,000 jobs a year being exported to cheap overseas labor markets.

Moving from the manufacturing offshoring to outsourcing was really a creation of the Internet; the bandwith made it all possible. And while the web-based companies and technology companies and telecommunications companies were obviously first with outsourcing, it's now expanded to nearly every industry in the country and the world. In your book, you also describe how state and local governments are now outsourcing. How did that start?

LD: It's come about because state governments are being approached by the outsourcing facilitators, consultants and outsourcing companies themselves. We've reported extensively on a number of state governments whose outsourcing contracts are based in their unemployment divisions and departments of labor -- where, for example, people in Indiana at one point could call up their state
unemployment office and be talking to someone in India about unemployment benefits -- denying citizens of Indiana a job to help citizens of Indiana. It becomes increasingly mind-boggling what's going on. Obviously, the most immediate cost of this outsourcing is the loss of people's jobs and livelihoods. What are some of the other long-term consequences?

LD: Among the many consequences is the pain that is being felt by
working men and women in this country, particularly our middle class. But the other impact is the transfer of technology and our knowledge base. We're exporting our privacy as well, because medical and financial records are being exported so that cheap overseas labor can work with those documents and records.

Each time we transfer knowledge bases overseas, whether it be
manufacturing or technology or research, that is a service that will obviously be performed by a competing economy -- whether emerging or not, a competing economy. And it is work that will not be done by the U.S. economy and our workers. The result is -- and this is at the margins at this point, but could grow to an increasingly larger share of the trade-deficit problem -- the result is further pressure on the U.S. economy.

And a further impact in terms of labor is not just the loss of jobs.
Study after study, survey after survey, shows that every job that replaces one that is outsourced pays approximately 20 percent less than the job that was exported overseas. So we have a continuing downward pressure on wages in this country. That has an impact on education because obviously that money's not available to the tax base that pays for education. It diminishes, in point of fact, the income-tax base for the federal government and state governments. So the impact is broad and it is deep. When asked about outsourcing during the presidential debates, George Bush talked about workers needing more education and more skills. But where will the jobs come from for them to use those skills?

LD: That's a question I've been asking for two years. This faith-based
economics that seems to be the hallmark of this administration is leading us into a no man's land of inexplicable possibilities. This administration -- and frankly, it's both parties, Democrats and Republicans as well as the administration -- seems indifferent to the impact of a trade deficit that now amounts to $4 trillion in external debt. We have to borrow nearly $3 billion a day to support it. The dollar has plummeted. And yet everyone keeps saying, "Free trade is good for you." I cannot find anyone for whom free trade is good.

As we go deeper in debt, we continue to lose jobs and diminish our
manufacturing base. Many people want to talk about our dependency on foreign oil, and it's a legitimate and real concern. But so is our dependency on the rest of the world for our clothing, our food, our computers and our consumer electronics. Our dependency isn't just on foreign oil; we can't even clothe ourselves. Free-trade economists will tell you we're a technology economy, but we don't even produce the technological components that are the foundation of a technology economy. What steps have overseas markets such as India and the
Philippines taken to attract these jobs?

LD: It's just a straightforward sales proposition: "Give us your
business, whether it is Wall Street research, call centers or radiology, and we will provide the same service for one-tenth of what you're paying." It's impossible for an American worker to compete with that. It's not because the American worker is any less educated, because he or she is not. It's not because our workers are any less productive, because they're more productive. It's simply the labor-cost issues. In all the talk from the U.S multinationals, and the orthodoxy of business, government, academia and media, they're all using
code words like "competitiveness," "productivity" and "efficiency." Those are simply code for "the cheapest possible labor." It seems there isn't as much debate about the merits of
outsourcing as one might expect in politics and in the media. Why do you think that is?

LD: Over the course of the past 20 years, there has been an absolute
move to market-based economics. And there's a libertarian impulse to American politics right now, whether Democrat or Republican. That outlook, of course, means as little government as possible. What I'd like to see is a government that would actually be responsible for its citizens, who are workers as well as taxpayers, but that runs absolutely counter to the prevailing political notion, which is basically libertarian in foundation. How do you respond to the free-traders' argument that
outsourcing is a short-term problem required for long-term economic

LD: Well, there's nothing short-term about 28 consecutive years of
trade deficits. There's nothing short-term about a mounting external debt as a result of our reliance on imports -- an external debt that has reached $4 trillion. I see no basis whatsoever for the sophistry that's coming from some of the conservative think tanks and much of academia that says this is a short-term issue. This is real and present pain for literally millions of Americans, and a clear and present danger to an economy that has generated most of the wealth of the entire world over the past 50 years. We could be near the end of that role. Proponents of outsourcing also point to what they call
"insourcing," with overseas companies opening factories here. Does that provide any hope?

LD: It's an interesting semantic game that has been played in the
free-trade debate. The Bush administration has created this expression of "insourcing" to counter arguments and concerns about outsourcing of American jobs to cheaper labor markets. When they talk about insourcing, they're really referring to foreign direct investment in this country. We can't even keep up with the Chinese government on foreign direct investment in this country; China
has for the first time surpassed the United States in that regard.

The Japanese car plants are here because Ronald Reagan -- who many of the so-called free traders hold up as a paragon of free trade -- demanded that those plants be created here if they were going to participate in our economy and enjoy the benefits of the world's largest consumer economy. That wasn't free trade; it was rational, balanced, reciprocal trade -- which is the course we should be pursuing right now, and which all of our trade partners are pursuing.
We're the only nation in the world that just mindlessly opens our markets irrespective of the constraints on our own goods and services. You talk about the need for a balanced middle ground between protectionism and wide-open trade. What would be an ideal balance?

LD: Overall, we're going to have trade deficits with a given country
and a given economy. But we should not be borrowing money to support our consumption habits over the course of 28 years. The argument has been styled by the free-traders as opposition between economic isolationists and free trade. The fact is free trade isn't working, and nobody's talking about economic isolationism. We're talking about mutuality and balance in which we eliminate deficits and maintain vigorous, healthy trade with the world. But that requires that we have a manufacturing base and reduce our dependency on foreign oil, clothing and a host of other goods and services that we can no longer afford to import. Do you see a tipping point where the U.S. will have outsourced so many jobs that the economy becomes unsustainable?

LD: The Federal Reserve did a study four years ago that demonstrated
that any time a trade deficit rose above 5 percent of a national economy's GDP, an inflection point had been created. We are now approaching 6 percent of GDP. Obviously, I hope this does not result in crisis. That is, a debt crisis because of the amount of money we have to borrow from overseas to support our imports, nor a diminishment of our tax base through outsourcing to the point that jobs become so poor-paying that we can't maintain our tax base. But all of that is entirely possible unless people awaken to the dangers that are being posed. I know this is dull stuff for many people, to talk about external debt and currency devaluations. But the fact is, they're all in prospect if we do not reverse these mindless policies. What type of protections can the U.S. include in future trade
agreements to place the American worker at less of a disadvantage?

LD: To make the American worker more competitive, what we should really be talking about is preserving the American way of life. Environmental protection. Protection for our working men and women. That has built up over 100 years in this country, and we are simply at risk of losing all of those protections. As we should have with NAFTA, we should sign only agreements with protections on the environment and on labor. Either we have that with every trading partner, or we will be at a disadvantage.

The ultimate extension of the free-trade policies that are being
pursued is that not only will there be a race to the bottom for wages for working men and women, but we're also going to have to eradicate the "inconvenient" and uncompetitive environmental protections that allow us to drink clean water and breathe clean air. And, by the way, those nasty child-labor laws could be an encumbrance to competitiveness; maybe we should get rid of those as well. How far are we going to roll back the progress of the past century? If the federal government were suddenly to choose to fight
outsourcing, what should it do?

LD: The first issue is to stop the destruction of an American job. The
principal issue I have with outsourcing is that American companies -- based in the United States, providing goods and services to the U.S. consumer economy -- are killing jobs in this country and sending them overseas to provide the same goods and services back to the U.S. economy. I have no problem if they want to invest and create a market in India or the Philippines or wherever. That's great, but don't kill an American job and put it in the hands of someone making one-tenth as much just to send that same good or service back to the United
States. That's what's unique and different, and that's what has to be stopped. As far as ways to do it, we could do it with regulation. One would hope that before that, corporate America would find a conscience. But failing that, regulation is entirely necessary, I'm all for it, and my apologies to the libertarians. What about those jobs already shipped overseas? Could some of those come back?

LD: Some of those jobs are already coming back, because companies are finding that despite whatever huge labor savings [the gain], there are also hidden costs, including the quality of the programming that's being done. For example, the quality of the code work that's being done by programmers in a number of the cheap labor markets, including India. Indian workers are remarkable people, highly entrepreneurial and well-educated, but they still cannot compete with American programmers where it's a matter of quality instead
of cost. There's also a bit of a backlash now on the export of these jobs on the part of consumers. And my guess is that backlash is going to rise, and there will be economic costs as a result. It seems like you've been more active about outsourcing than probably any other issue during your years as a journalist. Why has this issue gotten you so involved?

LD: Because at a time when this economy needed to be growing jobs, we were exporting jobs. At a time of economic downturn, we were raising the U.S. trade deficit even further. And the sophistry of the free-trade orthodoxy -- talking about how uneducated Americans are, how unproductive and incapable of competing -- just frankly rankles the hell out of me. We were smart enough in the ‘90s to generate 22 million new jobs. Did we, in the course of four years, become so stupid, so lazy and so unproductive, or did something else change? I
maintain something else changed, and that was policies that permitted destructive business practices like outsourcing, and a continuation of free-trade policies that are leading to greater trade deficits and greater indebtedness on the part of the United States. We simply cannot sustain the path we're on.

Jeff Fleischer is an editorial fellow at

Comments by Robert Baer in a recent issue of Time

Thanks to Southern Appeal.

ROBERT BAER–Former CIA field officer and author of the spy thriller Blow the House Down

The CIA has been under political assault since the early 1970s. It was also badly managed, and the agency became an ungainly bureaucracy. It didn’t just happen under George W.; it’s been going on for decades. It got to the point where you could be an officer on the front between Afghanistan and Pakistan, living in a tent for three years, hunting down bin Laden, and there could be a logistics guy back at headquarters who takes his kids to soccer practice on Saturday mornings and gets promoted faster.

What is needed is to put back in place a professional cadre. The CIA may say they are bringing in great people. That may be true. But do these people know anything about intelligence? No. It’s not something you learn with a master’s in international relations. It takes years and years of assessing sources. Intelligence collection is a profession.

To rebuild the agency, you need to take an insider like Stephen Kappes [former deputy CIA director of operations] and put him in charge of management decisions. He’s going to know, very simply, who the frauds are, who the good people are. He may have to bring in people who have retired and tell them, “I need you. Come back for three years.” And you need to make sure that the good people are going to the hot spots. You have to stop sending everyone to Baghdad. After that? You have to have somebody implement a long-term program to take account of the way the world is changing–weapons proliferation, what kind of cover you need and what sort of security clearance you really need to work at the CIA. How do you hire a Pakistani Urdu speaker who immigrated here when he was 6 years old and get him through a security exam? Under the old rules, he’s got too much baggage.

Website for the Prince of Wales

Here. Page for Prince Harry, Prince William.

Photos of Prince Harry at the Old Comrades Parade, 14 May 2006.

Around 2,000 former and serving officers and soldiers gathered in the park for the annual event which is in its 82nd year. The City suit tradition, which sees officers wearing black bowler hats and carrying umbrellas, reflects the “proper order of dress” before the First World War.
Picture of Prince Harry when he was training in Cyprus, 12 April 2006.

Ugh remakes!

Just watched the trailer for The Lake House, and realized it's the remake of Il Mare. So undoubtedly it will be crap--no careful restraint of emotions. Sandra Bullock's voiceover for the trailer was horrible, and Keanu Reeve's acting was boring. I'll take Jeon Jihyun and Lee Jung Jae over these two any day. Besides, I can accept Jeon Jihyun acting like a naive girl who doesn't know much about life or love, because she's young and so is the character. But a 30-something woman who is still acting and feeling like a teenager? Typical American adultlescence, perfectly suited for the majority of the older people watching the movie, but a poor example for the teenagers and the college women. Maybe Miss Bullock will act more mature, but the dialogue in the trailer makes me think that is not what the movie will be like. And of course, they had to jazz the movie up to emphasize certain elements of the plot--since it's clear in the trailer what I'm talking about, I'll go ahead and mention it. The two characters are corresponding to each other, but are separated in time, 2 years. Hence, any changes introduced by the character in the past spontaneously manifest themselves in the future, and are actually witnessed by other people. Just like what happened in the movie Frequency with Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel--as if a ripple effect across time has any plausibility. (I hope no physicist is going to try to describe how it is possible through math.) Dramatic special effects for "dumb Americans" who can't handle something more subtle.

My advice: watch the original, and even better, try to learn Korean.

Blog: Reactionary Radicals

and Front-Porch Anarchists

blurb about Look Homeward, America by Bill Kauffman

Thanks to Caelum et Terra.

"Rocks, rock oil and peak oil"

From Energy Bulletin.
Published on 16 May 2006 by Whiskey & Gunpowder. Archived on 16 May 2006.
Rocks, rock oil and peak oil
by Byron W. King

ALMOST 20,000 YEARS AGO, a Stone Age tribe made camp under a sandstone overhang in a place south of Pittsburgh now called Meadowcroft Rock Shelter, in Washington County. Theirs was a world still in glacial throes, with the edge of a mile-thick sheet of ice not far to the north. On the edge of a frozen ice desert that covered half the continent, these ancients sought protection from the bitter elements. Today, visitors to Meadowcroft can enter an open excavation and view evidence of tools and campfires made by these wandering souls so long ago.

Not quite a century and a half ago, in 1859, a man of the Iron Age named Edwin Drake made his own mark upon human history by driving down one of the world’s first commercial oil wells on the banks of Oil Creek, in Venango County south of Titusville. Although the Drake Oil Well produced only 25 barrels of “rock oil” on its first day of production, and that from the grand depth of 69 feet, it ushered in the Age of Petroleum. Out of Drake’s well arose most of what makes up our life as we know it now.

Of course, without oil in this world something else would be here in its place. Ours might not resemble the Pleistocene existence of Meadowcroft, but neither would it be anything remotely like what we know today. Absent abundant quantities of oil cycling through the arteries of world commerce, our motorized, mechanized, industrialized world would not be here, and neither would we, I
venture to guess.

The oil wells of the world produce something over 84 million barrels of petroleum every day, or about 1,000 barrels per second, and every drop is consumed in an energy-hungry world. People move about using oil, by means of train, plane, or automobile. People wear oil, in the form of synthetic fibers. People eat oil, in the form of tractor fuel, fertilizer, transport, processing, refrigeration or preservation, and cooking.

Modern medicine is premised on the use of large amounts of petroleum-based feedstock, and other forms of disposable plastic. Much, if not most, of modern commerce is based on the extensive use of oil-based plastic and chemicals, and oil-fueled transport of goods over vast distances. And since the time of Edwin Drake, oil has been relatively cheap, which is pretty much why things evolved as they did.

This is also why it is crucial that you understand the concept of “Peak
Oil,” which is a shorthand way of expressing the geological concept that mankind has reached a "peak" in its ability to produce this depleting resource from the crust of the Earth. The world’s total level of production of about 84 million barrels of conventional oil per day will not last much longer. It is on the cusp of decline.

Peak Oil is not some sort of Internet conspiracy theory. Peak Oil is as
much a geological fact as is anything that occurs on a geological scale. Oil production has peaked in almost every major oil-producing nation or region on the planet, starting with the United States in 1970. U.S. oil production peaked in that year along the lines predicted in 1949 by a brilliant and eccentric geologist named M. King Hubbert.

Hubbert noted the rather obvious point that you cannot produce what you have not discovered. So Hubbert graphed U.S. oil discoveries from the 1860s onward and predicted a peak for U.S. production in 1970, a peak that occurred on schedule, although it was only apparent in hindsight.

Even the massive oil discovery at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in 1968 barely
changed the shape of the decline in the production curve that Hubbert’s theory set forth. Since 1970, U.S. oil imports have done nothing but increase, year over year, from places with surplus oil production. This is all about to change.

Ominously, during the past four decades, oil discoveries worldwide have slowed to a snail’s pace while demand for and production from earlier discoveries have soared. Similar to what occurred in America in 1970, oil production in other regions of the world has also encountered peaks.

Oil production in places as diverse as Indonesia and Mexico, Iran and the North Sea has topped out, rolled over, and is now in a state of irreversible decline. That is, oil producers in these regions have begun to encounter dramatic decreases in the volumes of oil they can find and lift from the ground, let alone sell into the world’s markets.

The list of nations in the Peak Oil Club might surprise you. Kuwait
announced a peak in daily oil production in November 2005. There are good estimates that Russian oil production is peaking and will commence a decline, if not a collapse, within 3-5 years. Even Saudi Arabia is struggling to maintain its current rates of oil production.

Add to the geological nature of the decline in oil production the fact that there is a worldwide shortage of onshore and offshore drilling rigs and necessary production equipment such as tubular goods, drill bits, pumps, and valves.

And there is a severe shortage of skilled manpower in the petroleum
industry, the result of the worldwide contraction of the production industry during the “cheap oil” days of the 1980s and 1990s. The bottom line is that world oil production is maxed out and will commence an irreversible long-term decline over the next few years.

With major regions of the oil-producing world entering or already in a state of irreversible decline, there is no "swing" capacity to accommodate increased oil demand. But demand for crude oil and refined product still follows its historic and increasing trend lines, particularly with the rapid economic growth in Asia in China and India. Thus, it is left to a rising price to, as the saying goes, “clear the market” for oil.

As U.S. motorists confront the long-term reality of paying $3 and more for a gallon of gasoline (and I believe that it will be much more, barring some worldwide economic collapse), they are directly experiencing an unpleasant economic and energy future in the form of Peak Oil. Hubbert predicted it many years ago, and that future is now.

The world will produce less and less conventional oil over time, and the nicest way to put it is that people will have to figure out some other way to do things besides burning oil the old-fashioned way.

Peak Oil will force people to view the world differently, to a degree
almost unimaginable to those who scarcely understand the concept just now.

Mankind will reduce oil consumption because the oil will simply not be there. Being “green” and “environmentally friendly” will have next to nothing to do with it. Being “rich” might not help much either, although it probably will not hurt.

We live with the ghost of Edwin Drake, who died in 1880. Drake’s remains are interred in Titusville beneath an imposing granite memorial, and under the shadow of a handsome bronze sculpture of a muscular man pounding and dressing a drill bit with a massive hammer. It is all very neoclassical, noble, and impressive. Drake's monument reads in part:

“Col. Edwin L. Drake...Founder of the Petroleum Industry, the Friend of Man.

“Called by Circumstances to the Solution of a Great Mining Problem...He laid the Foundations of an Industry that has Enriched the State, Benefited Mankind, Stimulated the Mechanical Arts...and has Attained Worldwide Proportions.

“His highest Ambition was the Successful Accomplishment of his Task. His Noble Victory the Conquest of the Rock, Bequeathing to Posterity the Fruits of his Labor and of his Industry.”

“The Conquest of the Rock,” it claims on the tomb, with hubris similar to that of fabled Ozymandias. How fitting that Drake’s grave at Titusville is not far from the Stone Age ruins of Meadowcroft, only about 125 miles or so as the crow flies across southwest Pennsylvania.

In one ancient hollow, beneath a ledge of sandstone, people eked out their existence, burnt their charcoal, and lived whatever life they could make for themselves in the shadow of an ice sheet. In another, more modern locale, Drake conquered the rock -- for a while, perhaps -- and brought unimaginable change to the trajectory of mankind’s existence.

But in both places, Meadowcroft and Titusville, the lesson appears to be that mankind never truly conquers the rock. Peak Oil is nature’s way of rebalancing the equation. And Peak Oil is today as much a challenge to the modern world as the Pleistocene ice sheets were to the people of Meadowcroft. Peak Oil will control your destiny. You should start learning about it, thinking about it, and planning for it.

Until we meet again…

Byron W. King

Benedict XVI's address to members of the PBC

Code: ZE06051621
Date: 2006-05-16
Papal Address to Members of Biblical Commission

"Freedom Attains Its Perfection When Directed Toward God"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2006 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission on April 27 in the Hall of Popes.

* * *

Your Eminence,
Dear Members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission,

It gives me great joy to meet you at the end of your annual plenary meeting. I remember each one of you with affection since I became personally acquainted with you during my years as president of this commission. I would like to share with you my gratitude and appreciation of the important work you are doing at the service of the Church and for the good of souls, in harmony with the Successor of Peter.

I thank Cardinal William Joseph Levada for his greeting and for his summary of the topic that has been the object of your attentive reflection during the meeting.

You have gathered once again to examine a very important subject: the relationship between the Bible and morals. This topic not only concerns the believer but every person as such. And it concerns us, particularly at a time of cultural and moral crisis. Indeed, man's first impulse is his desire for happiness and for fulfillment in life. Today, however, many people think that this should be achieved absolutely autonomously, without any reference to God or to his law.

Some have reached the point of theorizing on the absolute sovereignty of reason and freedom in the context of moral norms: They presume that these norms constitute the context of a purely "human" ethic, in other words, the expression of a law that man makes for himself by himself. The advocates of this "secular morality" say that man as a rational being not only can but must decide freely on the value of his behavior.

This erroneous conviction is based on the presumed conflict between human freedom and every form of law. In fact, the Creator, because we are creatures, has inscribed his "natural law," a reflection of his creative idea, in our hearts, in our very being, as a compass and inner guide for our life.

For this very reason, sacred Scripture, Tradition and the magisterium of the Church tell us that the vocation and complete fulfillment of the human being are not attained by rejecting God's law, but by abiding by the new law that consists in the grace of the Holy Spirit. Together with the Word of God and the teaching of the Church, it is expressed in "faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6).

And it is precisely in this acceptance of the love that comes from God("Deus caritas est"), that the freedom of man finds its loftiest realization. There is no contradiction between God's law and human freedom: God's law correctly interpreted neither attenuates nor, even less, eliminates man's freedom. On the contrary, it guarantees and fosters this freedom because, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, "freedom ... attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude" (No. 1731).

The moral law established by God in creation and confirmed in the Old Testament revelation reaches fulfillment and greatness in Christ. Jesus Christ is the way of perfection, the living and personal synthesis of perfect freedom in total obedience to God's will. The original function of the Decalogue is not abolished by the encounter with Christ but is led to this fullness.

An ethic that in listening to revelation also seeks to be authentically rational, finds its perfection in the encounter with Christ, who gives us the new Covenant.

A model of this authentic moral action is the behavior of the Incarnate Word himself. He makes his will coincide with the will of God the Father in the acceptance and carrying out of his mission: His food is to do the Father's will (cf. John 4:34). He always does the things that are pleasing to the Father, putting his words into practice (cf. John 8:29-55); he says the things that the Father asked him to say and to proclaim (cf. John 12:49).

In revealing the Father and his way of acting, Jesus at the same time
reveals the norms of upright human action. He affirms this connection in an explicit and exemplary way when, in concluding his teaching on loving one's enemies (cf. Matthew 5:43-47), he says: "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).

This divine, divine-human, perfection becomes possible for us if we are closely united with Christ, our Savior.

The path marked out by Jesus with his teaching is not an externally imposed regulation. Jesus himself took this path and asks no more of us than to follow him. Moreover, he does not limit himself to asking: First of all, through baptism, he allows us to participate in his own life, thereby enabling us to understand his teaching and put it into practice.

This appears with increasing evidence in the New Testament writings. His relationship with the disciples was vital, not an external teaching. He called them "little children" (John 13:33; 21:5), "friends" (John 15:14-15), "brothers," "brethren" (Matthew 12:50; 28:10; John 20:17), and invited them to enter into communion of life with him and to accept in faith and joy his "easy" yoke and his "light" burden (cf. Matthew 11:28-30).

In the quest for a Christologically inspired ethic, it is therefore necessary always to bear in mind that Christ is the Incarnate Logos who enables us to share in his divine life and sustains us with his grace on the journey toward our true fulfillment.

What man really is, appears definitively in the Logos made man; faith in Christ gives us the fulfillment of anthropology. Consequently, the relationship with Christ defines the loftiest realization of man's moral action. This human action is directly based on obedience to God's law, on union with Christ and on the indwelling of the Spirit in the believer's soul. It is not an action dictated by merely exterior norms, but stems from the vital relationship that connects believers to Christ and to God.

While I hope that the continuation of your reflection will be fruitful, I
invoke upon you and your work the light of the Holy Spirit, and as confirmation of my trust and affection I impart the apostolic blessing to you all.

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]

World Trade Center trailer

Trailer at Apple.

Directed by Oliver Stone, it looks like a rather mainstream movie, no wild conspiracies in this one.

Nic Cage haters will probably still stay away... I'm not one of them, not yet at any rate, but I probably won't see it, just like I won't watch United 93.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Chances of getting a job?

So, how many realistic options do I really have? Who wants to live out their lives in such an environment of mediocrity and pettiness?

"Systematic Indoctrination"

Even the good interviews can be excruciating. Committee members are tired, bored, distracted, and wary. Each one has a preference, and rarely do they coincide. Candidates are desperate and inexperienced. A career is at stake, but you can’t let it show. He who relates best to the whole group, not to just one of them—an exciting 10-minute exchange with one prof excites the suspicion of the others—moves on to the campus visit. While on-site for two days, you become a friend for some, a threat for others. Identifying who has power is hard, so sounding genial to all is crucial. You must find topics for lively conversation, but steer clear of department sensitivities and expect anything.

All the decisions are collective, a result of majority voting. Which candidates triumph? Those who cause the least discomfort to the largest number of voters. Scholars who don’t fit smoothly into ready classifications and mutter the standard pieties are hard to figure, and the hiring of a colleague is so long-term a commitment that nobody on the faculty wants to take chances.

Professors don’t want to go to war over a hiring—you’re not
that important—and so the compromise candidate, the less adventuresome and strong-minded one, survives. It is okay to have strong opinions, as long as they’re shared by all and won’t disrupt the department. The ardent minds are passed over, the singular intellects weeded out.

This is conformity by passive selection. It explains why political correctness is so dominant in a world of academic freedom, and why a few bullies are able to intimidate the rest.

Mark Harmon gone from NCIS?

His character quits in the season finale because he is tired of the lack of leadership by higher-ups within the Federal government. Now that is a moral conundrum for those serving in government--a favorite for Confucians to think about. How long should one serve if one's advice is not heeded, or if one cannot be effective? Or if one cannot bring about reform? So long as one can accomplish some good, it seems that one has some sort of duty to stay and do what one can. Now some may see resignation as a tool of protest, but it is not clear to me if this really accomplishes anything. If one's superiors do not value you or your advice or do not wish to effect change, what will they care if you leave? One less troublesome meddler to deal with. Besides, one is not subordinate to one's superiors absolutely--ultimately one serves the common good and the community, not the superior. They aren't typical 'bosses' and the community isn't another 'company.'

Agent Gibbs and his mentor aren't Daoists either. They were just tired of the BS they witnessed and left.

Mark Harmon with Lauren Holly, who plays the Director of NCIS Jenny Shepherd.

Cote de Pablo as Ziva David

Cast photos with Sasha Alexander, as Kate Todd, who was killed at the end of season 2. Coincidentally enough her birthday is May 17.

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock reunited

in The Lake House. No idea if his acting skills have improved. I can't think of the last American romantic drama/comedy that was both done well and a box office hit. I just saw a commercial for the movie; it's not getting that much publicity. (Apple)

Keanu Reeves is also in A Scanner Darkly, an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick work. The plot premise is a bit convoluted, but I won't spoil it for now. Winona Ryder is also in the movie, but I think her appearance will be transformed, like everyone else's. (See the trailer.)

But enough of American movies...

Interview with David Mamet and Shawn Ryan

producers of The Unit, at IGN.

2-hour season finale tonight; no word if it's been renewed for next season.
Q: Do you feel pretty confidant The Unit is coming back in the Fall?
Ryan: Yeah. I mean obviously the show's done well ratings wise for them. I've had a lot of conversations with CBS. David and I are already working on stories for what it would be [in season 2]. But they have to make official announcements when they make official announcements. But we're proceeding as if we're very
very optimistic that they'll be a second season.

The quality of the episodes has generally been good, though some are definitely better than others. Sarge complains that too much time is spent on the wives; I could see the Housewives' fund being lost when it was first suggested--a great way to create drama between the wives. The con of Mrs. Blane was a bit predictable. Dennis Haysbert still looks a bit clunky as an operator. Last weeks episode, featuring a flashback with Col. Ryan in the field was nice; Robert Patrick is still in good shape, but I'm surprised to see that the commanding officer was recruited from within CAG. Perhaps this is normal procedure--it would certainly make sense.

Q: Can you talk about what the second season might be like and if there might be a lot of new faces on the show?

Ryan: I don't know if I'd say a lot of new faces. Maybe a new face or two. But I think we like a lot of faces that we have right now, and still have plenty of stories to tell about them. Obviously the season finale is a bit of a cliffhanger. But David was the driving force behind really talking about the idea of not just resetting ourselves back to zero at the end of each episode and finding ourselves in the same place. And we sort of use the finale… Remember, when we made it, we didn't know how the show would do. So we wanted an ending that would play as a really interesting ending to the season if we never made any more episodes, but which would launch us into some new areas if we did get a second season. So what I would say is, more than
new faces and new characters, I think what the ending of that show will provide us is new situations and new dynamics to play between our characters in a possible second season.

Mamet: One of the places we wanted to go next year is to the world of what these guys put up with in Washington.

Q: Washington, as in more officials?

Mamet: Well, perhaps. And perhaps the question will be whether
they'll officials or they're not. But there's a whole other side to the equation. We talked a lot in the first year, though we didn't use it, about the tension between the Special Forces community and the Pentagon; the executive branch. And maybe we'll start investigating that a little bit.

It would definitely be nice if they could bring more CQB action in... maybe more episodes dealing with counter-terrorism. (As long as it doesn't lapse into JAG nonsense, which I doubt will happen, because of Eric Haney.)

American Idol is also on tonight, though I don't really keep up with the show, since I don't like the music. Katherine McPhee seems cute on a black and white tv. I suppose out of the finalists Becky O'Donohoe is the prettiest. (She has a twin sister.) I bet she will be looking for a job in acting or modelling. Is Ayla Brown still going to BC in the Fall?

I haven't watched much of House this year...

Invasion might not be back next season. I suppose I'll have to see the season finale; will the rest of the town be duplicated? Or will the sheriff and the ex-park ranger be able to stop this from happening? It's based on the novel(?) that inspired Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Say No to Walmart and Big Box Stores

Review of The Wal-Mart Effect, by Charles Fishman

At least the people at Costco are paid more. I wonder if Costco relies upon any unsavory practices though.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Between Venus and Mars, the Church of Rome Chooses Both

An older article, from Sandro Magister.

Are such doctrines constraints on civic prudence? Or just generalizations, or a statement of preferred goals and means? Do they violate justice?

Between Venus and Mars, the Church of Rome Chooses Both

The four dominant doctrines discussed in the article: realism, isolationism, internationalism, and neoconservatism.

Some definitions:
"Realism has always been the dominant school of thought in international relations. Its founding fathers are recognized as the Greek historian Thucydides and the author of “The Prince,” Nicolò Machiavelli. According to the realists, the international political system is anarchical by nature. Thus the equilibrium among states, which are sovereign within their own borders, requires that relations among them be determined by the appropriate forces: political, economic, and military. The objective of each state is the defense of its own national interests: when these interests are threatened from the outside, they must be defended by the necessary force. "

a contrast between realism and Wilsonianism:
"But what distinguishes the Wilsonians from the realists is the primacy given to these ideals. For Wilson and his followers, the United States has an almost messianic role in the world. Its national interests coincide with the defense and diffusion of the principles of liberty throughout the world. Wilson was an interventionist, and sent American troops to various regions of the planet. But his criteria marked a revolutionary separation from the forms of diplomacy practiced by the European states, which were founded exclusively upon relationships of force."

"But it was above all in the 1990’s, with the presidency of Bill Clinton, that Wilsonianism asserted itself. And it took the name of “liberal internationalism.”

Wilsonian idealism is also a component of neoconservatism:
"The neoconservatives distinguish themselves from Wilson in that they dislike multilateralism, or acting with the mandate of the UN, or in any case within the context of international bodies and alliances. The “neocons” tend to be unilateralists: the United States decides alone, and those who agree, agree. But they are Wilsonian in that their first imperative is to spread democracy and freedom."

Oddly enough Magister talks only of the isolationism associated with certain people of the "radical left":
"Or there is the pacifism expressed in the isolationism of the radical left of Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore, for whom America is evil, while the rest of the world is good, and thus it must do nothing but withdraw from everything, disarm, and isolate itself."

He does not discuss paleoconservatives like Pat Buchanan, who sees the source of isolationism in the Founding Fathers, who sought to avoid entanglements with old Europe.

It is certainly the case that with regards to foreign relations prudence must come into play; there must also be a regard for the standards of justice that must be observed between various peoples and communities. (A question to explore is whether the justice that governs relations between communities is identical to commutative justice, or if there is a different sort of justice involved. If the former, then it would certainly give support to the position that a political community constitutes a moral "person.")

Magister sees the policy of the Church in the last century as being realist primarily, "combined with the cardinal virtue of prudence. Realism as an equilibrium of forces among states and peoples, and as the defense of national interests, which is equally valid for the Church in its defense and expansion of its own institutions and faithful."

But is this really realism, as it is defined above? Or an acknowledgement of the fact that there are intrinsic limits to what can be done in the development of political communities? (limits to size, and so on) And that in general, it is better to conserve a political community in existence (or to allow it to break up according to a more natural size and constitution, if this can be done peacefully), than to seek to micromanage through an international governing body or to take over control (and hence go down the road to empire)? I should read The Prince, as I wonder what Machiavelli has to say about expansion/imperalism. (Whether it is intrinsically wrong, or to be avoided in general because it brings more trouble than its worth.)

Would I say the Greek polis is of ideal size? Or should it be even smaller? While the Church does not say one type of government is better than another, if we are speaking of the number of people holding office, it does teach that a government must work for the common good. Nothing has yet been said about the limitations to the size of a community; even if it were to be said, would it be heeded? Not by the vast majority of rulers perhaps.

Jaroslav Pelikan, + 13 May 2006

Dr Jaroslav Pelikan falls asleep in the Lord

Christ is Risen!

We have just learned that our seminary trustee and friend, Dr Jaroslav Pelikan, fell asleep in the Lord this afternoon, Saturday, May 13 around 2:30pm after a long battle with lung cancer. The schedule of services in the seminary chapel is as follows:
Tuesday evening, May 16 7:00 pmVIGIL (FUNERAL) SERVICE
Wednesday morning, May 17 9:00 amMEMORIAL DIVINE LITURGY

Recognized by many as the most noted church historian of our times, Dr Pelikan made St Vladimir’s his parish home upon his reception into the Orthodox Church along with his wife in 1998.

Memory Eternal!

Gashwin Gomes' post

The Achievement of Jaroslave Pelikan by David W. Lotz
I suppose someday I'll have to complete my set of his The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, even though I'd prefer to have a hard copy of the Patrologia.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I wonder if the BC library has...

Ushpizin? I definitely want to watch this movie sooner or later...

Defend America Photo Essays

Photo Essays

U.S. Army Capt. Douglas Laxson, commander of Apache Troop, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, talks with adults about young children throwing bricks at soldiers on patrol, April 30, 2006. U.S. soldiers began patrols again in two towns near Sadr City, Iraq, to re-establish security. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika

U.S. Army Cpl. Jared Jenkins and 1st. Sgt.Arthur Abiera search a home during a routine presence patrol on the outskirts of Sadr City, Iraq, April 30, 2006. The soldiers are assigned to Apache Troop, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika

U.S. Army Sgt. Ephraim A. Gomez, of Hondo, Texas, and a fire team leader assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 56th Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, maneuvers on a target as part of a battle drill during a training exercise in southern Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Lek Mateo

Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, prepare to conduct the raid. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Charles B. Johnson

Insightscoop presents... Da Vinci Hoax Blog

More electron manipulation regarding that work of fiction...

The Proposition


Too dark and depressing? Is there a moral message to the movie?

Word Incarnate Blog

Discovered, through Pontifications, that Abbot Joseph of Holy Transfiguration Monastery now has a blog. Great.

Dae Jang Geum

Amazing what you can find at 4 in the morning while surfing the web...

I'll write something about this drama when I have some time...

A nice meeting down at BU...

Wednesday afternoon I had a meeting with Professor John Berthrong over at Boston University; I had taken several classes with him, one on Confucianism, the other on Zhu Xi. He was also a member of my comps board (for classical Confucianism--I read Confucius, Mencius, and Xunzi, plus plenty of secondary literature). I gave him an update on the dissertation (a rather short update), and then we got talking to other things, as I had a bunch of questions for him.

I asked him to recommend a good textbook for classical Chinese. He recommended something from Harvard University Press, but he couldn't remember the name. I wonder if it was An Introduction to Literary Chinese by Michael Fuller, or the revised edition. We also got around to discussing Chinese dictionaries. He recommended the dictionaries of Séraphin Couvreur (Sinologist and a French Jesuit), Lin Yu-tang, H.G. Creel, Herbert A. Giles (who collaborated with Sir Thomas Francis Wade to develop the romanization system that bears their names)

I wonder if any of the following would be useful...
Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar by Edward Pulleyblank (amazon)
A New Introduction to Classical Chinese by Raymond Dawson (amazon)
Classical Chinese : A Basic Reader in Three Volumes

Professor Berthrong recommended that in addition to the Journal of Chinese Philosophy (Blackwell site) and Philosophy East and West I should keep in mind the Dao and The Journal of Ecumenical Studies. The Journal of Asian Studies might be good too.

He sees the job market for people doing Chinese or Asian philosophy as being rather good. He cited Jesuit universities as examples; there may be an increase in programs doing comparative philosophy or theology. Though I do have an interest in Confucianism and would like to do something to keep the tradition alive, my suspicion is that it is largely futile, at least for mainstream Asian society. I don't know how much influence Confucians have in a country like South Korea, but in Hong Kong and China it seems mostly limited to academic circles. Are things better in Taiwan?

The conversion of the Taiwanese ambassador to the Vatican illustrates the finite nature of cultures and traditions that have outlived their usefulness as a preparation for the gospel. When the Jesuits first came to China perhaps the harmonization of Confucianism and Christianity could have been achieved with a great impact on the evangelization of Chinese society, but the rites controversy created an obstacle for many Chinese. It is not clear to me whether such an assimilation was accomplished more readily in Korea, since the first Christian converts were scholars who had taken the initiative to learn about Christianity. But even in Korea, with the suppression and persecution of the Catholic Church I suspect such an assimilation was hindered from flowering completely. Then again, evangelization of a whole nation is rarely (never?)accomplished through philosophy--both because the pursuit of human wisdom is limited to a few and also because what is more important in the majority of cases is a moral conversion, not an intellectual conversion. It can take that route for those who are more intellectually inclined, but the preparation for justification for most people is accomplished in other ways.

Tu Weiming is at the Harvard-Yenching Institute; he is keen on showing the relevance of Confucianism today. Before I return to California at the end of the month I'll try to contact Professors Tu and Philip J. Ivanhoe (at BU) to see if I can make an appointment for them to sign some books.

It was good to talk to someone in academics who would provide encouragement and support. Still, if I were to hazard a guess I would say it is likely that I will not end up in academics. But more on that if and when it happens.

The Boston Theological Institute.
(hrm, the Manyoshu)