Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Soil Association (UK)

on the impact of peak oil on food production.

Peak Oil and Nitrogen Fertiliser
'Peak Oil' will substantially affect agriculture, as many aspects of industrial production are energy intensive. In particular, Peak Oil will affect the viability of N fertiliser, because ‘natural gas’ is the basic chemical from which nitrogen fertiliser is produced, and there are no realistic alternatives. The use of fossil fuel energy for N fertiliser accounts for 37% of the total energy used by UK agriculture and its price tracks the price of natural gas. UK N fertiliser prices are rising significantly and are the highest they have ever been. Comparative analyses of organic farming show that it requires about half the amount of energy to produce the same quantity of food.

Implications of Peak Oil for the Soil Association
On the one hand, the increase and greater volatility of oil prices, and increasing physical shortage of oil could mean:

severe and prolonged global economic recession (ie. unemployment, low incomes/high cost of living, low expenditure, less business opportunities etc.). This could mean a fall in sales of more costly organic food.

severe impacts on Western lifestyles (high cost of transport, food and other goods). This could lead to increasing social unrest, such as fuel riots.

short-term and increasingly nationalistic Government policies. For example, more war in the form of foreign invasions to secure energy supplies.

significant pressure for Government investment in securing conventional and centralised energy sources, ie. nuclear and coal

in response to the harshening economic climate, more pressure to exploit natural areas and general downward pressure on environmental protection

change or even possible reversal of the comparative power and stability of countries, with those that are less 'developed' and thus less dependent on fossil fuels and trade, becoming more stable compared to the West

On the other hand, Peak Oil should mean an increasing move away from centralised and fossil fuel based systems, and a general move to self-sufficiency:

Emphasis mine. Click on the link to read the rest.

Soil Association

"No more business as usual"

No more business as usual, by Byron W. King

ALI SAMSAM BAKHTIARI is a retired "senior energy expert," formerly employed by the National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC) of Tehran, Iran. He has held a number of important positions with NIOC since 1971. He is currently attached to the director's office in the Corporate Planning Directorate of NIOC, and specializes in questions related to the global oil, gas and petrochemical industries. This alone ought to pique your interest because Bakhtiari has the ear of the most important decision-makers in Iran. What is he telling them?

Fortunately for us in the West, Bakhtiari is also an independent consultant who writes and speaks to a worldwide audience on the subject of oil depletion in general, and Peak Oil in particular. His tribal name, Bakhtiari, means "companions of good fortune," and the story of his life is somewhat emblematic of that meaning. Based on what I have seen, Bakhtiari has a gift for understanding, and a unique ability to share this gift with others. There are few more qualified people in the world who can discuss Peak Oil. So when Bakhtiari talks, people ought to listen.
His five steps of preparation:
Bakhtiari has a "to-do list" of what he considers to be the most urgent steps for governments, businesses, and private individuals. His list is worth highlighting here:

(1) Reprogram the mind. That is, just throw out any previous business-as-usual thinking and similar rosy scenarios. Nothing will remain as usual, going forward. This also means that people should engage in as much lateral thinking as possible. Do not just come up with Plan B, but come up with Plans C, D, and E as well. People should challenge themselves, and their associates, not just to expect the unexpected, but to begin thinking the

(2) Reduce oil consumption, mercilessly. According to Bakhtiari, the normal 30% of wasted use should be shed offhand. Governments, businesses, and individuals should also pay down debt levels as swiftly as possible, because the effects of T1 will inevitably bring higher inflation and interest rates. Minimize travel of all sorts to economize use of oil-derived fuels, because it is going to happen in any case. Reduce all types of consumption and just plain get leaner and be ready for even bigger cuts. This is as close to where you live as revising home lighting and heating systems, and also includes reducing the size and number of automobiles as soon as possible.

(3) Reuse as much as possible. Many things are easily reusable, but it will require a mental focus to accomplish the effort. Whether it is plastic bags or retreaded tires or outdated appliances, it is important to adopt a new cultural mind-set toward the scarcity of manufactured goods and products. The most important thing to care for and husband may well be fresh water, which is already in short supply and will almost certainly be a precious commodity in the future. Bakhtiari even mentions wood as a future critical commodity.

(4) Recycle as much as possible. Bakhtiari believes that tomorrow's industrial boom will be in recycling industries on a worldwide scale. Recycling much of what is now considered garbage should be made mandatory, as in Germany or a handful of U.S. cities, such as Seattle and Pittsburgh. Industrial production should design "recycling" into products from the time they are on the drawing board, as is now the case in some sectors of the automobile and computer industries, as well as some other business sectors.

(5) Reward people for their efforts. Bakhtiari urges using market incentives to reward people for reducing, reusing, or recycling. It is far better to make use of positive subsidies, instead of negative reinforcement. The implications of Peak Oil are negative enough even without the prospect of negative reinforcement.

His comments regarding the government and the media:
"Whether we like it or not," said Bakhtiari in a recent posting, "all developed societies are addicted to crude oil and its myriad derivatives." However, he continues, "Many decision-makers are trying to park 'Peak Oil' in the farthest corner of their minds (praying it will go away), and remain in denial that there is no replacement for oil." Bakhtiari amplified this comment in another discussion:

"Nobody likes the idea of Peak Oil. Firstly, you have the politicians. Naturally, a politician will never say that there is such a thing as Peak Oil. It is suicide to give bad news, so a politician will never do that...Secondly you have the media. The media do not like Peak Oil. Why? There is no sponsorship for Peak Oil. The oil companies do not like Peak Oil because you should not say that your soup is cold; you should always say that it is very hot and very tasty, yes? So nobody wants to hear of this phenomenon of Peak Oil."

Ali Samsam Bakhtiari's website
another interview
an article from 2004 discussing his forecast

EF Schumacher on the megapolis

by E.F. Schumacher

Fortunately someone else has already made this text available on-line, so I don't have to transcribe it from the compilation, This I Believe, and Other Essays. However I think I may eventually have to transcribe one of his other essays, as the book is unfortunately out of print. His Small is Beautiful remains in print, and so is A Guide for the Perplexed.

The concern with scale and size of a political community is not new--Aristotle addresses it in his Politics. A updated account answering contemporary objections needs to be written, with attention given to the development of the modern nation-state, including economic shifts--the decay of the guilds, and changes in production and agriculture, as well as the introduction of a new land-owning class separate from the 'traditional' nobility, and the rise of merchants and the modern corporation. (And of course, the risk of banks and central banking...)

Once the beginnings are understood, then the transition from an agriculture-dominant economy to an industrialized economy can be better understood; an analysis of the causes of migration to the cities, and the growth of cities and their economic development, can follow.

Shikshantar appears to be an organization that I would be sympathetic with, to a point. Where I would raise doubts would be in the area of morals/religion/spirituality. Still, if the people there are of good will, cooperating and exchanging information with them might be a good idea.

Now it may be the case that for individuals and families the private benefits of living in a megapolis outweight the private disadvantages.(What is the opposite of benefit? Malefit? I suppose "evil" is the standard word.) Nonetheless, it is virtually impossible that they participate in a true political community and co-order [coordinate] their activities accordingly. (A parish or something similar is a separate community in itself, but even it must be rooted in the larger political community in a certain respect, even if its common good transcends that of the political community.)

Perhaps for most the best that can be achieved is to exercise charity to those who are near them, and rediscover the meaning of neighbor, and to foster whatever associations they can make with other members of the community.

E. F. Schumacher Society

2006 Thomistic Institute

First, some photos from Notre Dame. A statue of the Blessed Mother of God, located before the statue of Christ with the Sacred Heart and the Basilica:

A statue of the Holy Family:

The New Scot on his bike:

Someone with Fr. Neal Nichols, of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. He was at Notre Dame for the IAP conference.

Finally, photos of this year's participants at the Institute (looks like the one without the flash, the first one, turned out better) :

The front row: Drs. Flippen, Michon, and Twetten, Fr. Sherwin, Drs. Baldner, Freddoso, and Selles. Plus, slightly to the back of them, someone with Fr. Lichacz.
The seated row: Dr. McInerny, S. Stilley, Mrs. Osberger, Mrs. O'Callaghan, Drs. Byers and Barrett, Aunt KK, and ---- (hrm her name is not listed in the list).
Back row: Fr. Brock, Fr. Elders, N. Teh, Dr. O'Callaghan, Fr. Nyoike, Drs. Carroll, Casanova, Hochschild, and Smith, Fr. Flannery, Drs. Hoffman, Di Blasi, and Pouivet, J. Stuchlik, Fr. Kerr, and Dr. Levering.

Dr. O'Callaghan, when he took over organizing the Thomistic Institutes, turned the morning session into a book discussion. This year it was his turn--we read and discussed Thomistic Realism and the Linguistic Turn.
It's an interesting book, and he and the participants had extended conversations about various points. Dr. O'Callaghan knows there are passages discussing the mental word, but it seems that at this point he thinks Aquinas does not develop a consistent account?

How we come to possess intellectual knowledge is a question that I should look at more carefully, especially the role of observation and the phantasm... correlating definition with the three acts of reason would also be important. Fr. Wallace offers a brief statement of this in his Modelling of Nature, but I need to investigate it further.

One of my favorite papers was by Fr. Michael Sherwin -- he talked about the impact of emotions and affection on language development, using the example of Hellen Keller. I forgot who made the quip, whether it was Dr. Carroll or Dr. Baldner or someone else, but "Vulcans are autistic," since they have no emotions they cannot relate to people, and therefor are stunted in their development, despite all their logic.

It was good meeting some of the top American Thomists, and some Spanish-speaking Thomists as well. I got plenty of people to sign their books for me... if I had known Dr. Levering was going to be there, I would have brought his book as well.

Dr. Smith is getting married next year. Both he and Fr. Brock are members of Opus Dei. I think Dr. Selles is also a member of Opus Dei. Perhaps there were other members of Opus Dei as well.

I gotta find Fr. Elders' book on natural philosophy at home.

The Bic M[a]c's brother, Dr. Dennis McInerny, has some books published by Fraternity Publications, including books on natural philosophy, natural theology, and ethics.

[Analytic] Thomism at Princeton.
Dr. Gorman will be there, and so will Dr. Mark C. Murphy... interesting. Unfortunately, Analytic Thomists do not study philosophy according to an Aristotelian plan of learning, and their contributions, as far as I can tell, have been rather limited--they do more to bring up questions for Aristotelians to answer, so their writings can be used to stimulate inquiry and discussion...

(obituary for Victor Preller -- so that's where Daniel M. Nelson gets his interpretation)

Both Fr. Flannery and Dr. Levering will be at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture as fellows. If I'm there for the conference this November, perhaps I will see both of them again. (The Center for Ethics and Culture blog.)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Just noticed this about Miss Ukraine

Her national costume has an image of Our Lord and Our Lady on it--not sure if it is taken from a famous icon.

Inna Tsymbaliuk, Miss Ukraine 2006, competes in her national costume during the 2006 Miss Universe National Costume Show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California on July 18, 2006. ho/Miss Universe L.P., LLLP

"Are you a monarchist?!?"

Here is where I answered the question the first time on this blog.

I am not someone who advocates monarchy as the best form of government for all peoples at all times. Just as I do not advocate "democracy" as the best form of government for all peoples at all times. (Nor would I claim that democracy is the only legitimate form of government.)

Contemporary Jacobites, supporters of the Stuarts, are quaint, and I am guessing they take seriously the claim of Duke Francis of Bavaria to the throne of England. However, they do take seriously a certain view of the role of the monarchy and the origin of its authority.

I follow Aristotle in advocating rule by the one divinely virtuous man who surpasses all others (monarchy) or by a group (aristocracy--the number of which tends to be small, given the scarcity of real virtue) or by many, in the case of a polity. The first two are ideal, but the constitution which is best suited for a particular people will depend on the historical circumstances, customs, and so on. Who is qualified to rule? The virtuous. Any constitution that deviates from that is, well, a deviation. Can we really say that the virtuous rule in our country? And do current arrangements allow for the virtuous to assume office? Or is "the process" manipulated by other powers. (What those powers may be I will leave unidentified.)

The form of government does not concern me as much as the size of the community. The modern nation-state has the same problems due to size as a real empire. "Empire" is often associated with expansion and the subjugation of peoples not sharing the same language and/or culture. Here I use empire to refer to a political community of vast size and population.

I should read what Max Weber has to say about bureaucracy; I am familiar with MacIntyre's comments in After Virtue. While empire is not new, it seems to me that the degree of centralization of power in European nation-states may be, as they were able to make use of certain technological advancements improving communication.

I have not read much about the Persian Empire; micromanagement was not a feature of the Chinese empire--much power was delegated to the provincial governors and magistrate-officials at the county level. iirc, the same was true of the Roman Empire. There was more exercise of subsidiarity in those two historical entities than is now here in the United States? Why? Because, among other things, we have enabled corporations and individuals to amass great economic power across state lines, and to ruin local economies, which is necessary for self-sufficient political communities, and hence autonomy. How? By giving corporations (legal) personhood and powers associated therewith--and a near-absolute right to accumulate property and wealth. It might be possible to give an association some form of legal personhood but limited 'rights'--ultimately its our basic understanding of justice that determines what the possible outcomes will be.

The other side is the accumulation of power by the Federal government.

Btw, we don't have a real polity [~democracy] here in the United States, not as Aristotle defined it. All the talk about us having the "ideal" Aristotelian or Thomistic mixed constitution is mostly nonsense.

I don't foresee much improvement happening through government, state or Federal--if anything the present crisis should make it clear to us that our priority is to witness to Christ in our own lives, to bring others to Him, and to exercise charity in all things (which includes doing what we can to protect and foster the local community).

References to the 28 August issue of American Conservative, "What is Left? What is Right? Doest it Matter?" are popping all over the place on paleoconservative blogs--I'll add another. Clink on the link to see individual articles, or go here for all of them.

*A discussion of personhood here. It is ok, but I would not accept everything in there, especially the attempt to distinguish moral personhood from natural personhood.

Trying to pull a fast one, and lack of common sense

Robert George on the snow job by Jon Rauch regard "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage," who claims, among other things, that those supporting polyamory were not also at the forefront pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Also of interest--
Joseph Pearce writes:
Isn’t it funny how “experts” eventually discover what those with a modicum of common sense have known all along? The latest example of experts stating the obvious, having expended much time and money “proving” it, emerged from research published in the journal Demography last month. Apparently, cohabitation is only an “intense form of dating,” and the view that it is a stepping stone to marriage needs to be “seriously questioned.”
His reaction to photos of a "peace" demonstration in London. On the loss of innocence in children.

On the Body Worlds exhibit and such:
Jordan Hylden; Claire V. McCusker; Robert T. Miller

Robert Baer comments

From: "It's Not Syria's Problem Anymore," by Robert Baer

Original source
Appointment In Damascus
In March I asked an old friend what he though would happen in Lebanon. 'It's not Syria's problem anymore,' he told me. 'We gave Lebanon to Iran.'
By Robert Baer

Aug. 14, 2006 issue - In March I ran into an old friend in Damascus, a Syrian businessman close to President Bashar al-Assad. I asked him what he thought would happen in Lebanon. "It's not Syria's problem anymore," he told me. "You threw us out. We gave Lebanon to Iran."

I never thought forcing Syria out of Lebanon had been a good idea. The Lebanese government left in charge was weaker than the one that had been powerless to stop the civil war in 1975. Brutal as its rule had been, it was Syria that put an end to that war with the 1989 Taif accord. Syria kept Hizbullah in check, limiting its parliamentary representation in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 elections. With the Syrian Army gone, I feared, Lebanon would again become a divided and dangerous country.

To be sure, Damascus is hardly a benign influence. It arms Hizbullah and harbors violent Palestinian groups. Still, when Syria controlled Lebanon, Damascus was the closest thing America had to a return address for Hizbullah's terrorists. This was never clearer than during the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847. When passengers were about to be executed on the tarmac of Beirut International Airport, President Ronald Reagan appealed to Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, who ordered his commanders in Lebanon to gas up their tanks and prepare to crush the militia. Hizbullah released the hostages.

There were other occasions. In 1987, after Hizbullah kidnapped ABC correspondent Charles Glass within sight of a Syrian checkpoint, the Syrian Army pulled Hizbullah members out of their cars and beat them. Glass was soon free. When the group kidnapped two U.N. employees in 1988, along with others, Assad threatened to arrest Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, a cleric close to Hizbullah, and hang him. Hizbullah quickly let the captives go. In July 1982, a Lebanese Christian militia kidnapped the Iranian chargé d'affaires, two other Iranian diplomats and a Leba-nese journalist. In hopes of an exchange, Iran's Republican Guards arranged to kidnap David Dodge, the acting president of the American University of Beirut, and smuggle him across the border to Syria and thence to Tehran. Washington protested to Assad, who was furious. Unless Iranian authorities freed Dodge, he told Tehran, Syria would expel the Republican Guards from Lebanon. Needless to say, Dodge soon arrived unharmed in Damascus.

As I say, like Saddam Hussein in Iraq, it was the Syrians who kept the lid on Lebanon. So the idea of Damascus's handing its Lebanon portfolio to Tehran sounded like trouble. What happens next, I asked my Syrian contact. He shrugged, then dropped a bombshell. During Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Damascus in January, he claimed, the Iranian president had met a shadowy figure in the terrorist world named Imad Mughniyah, the man widely suspected of kidnapping Dodge and killing U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem during the TWA hijacking, among other bloody episodes.

I'd heard this story before. The Mossad was big on it, but I've never quite believed it. The point is that my source did. Essentially, he was telling me he feared that Lebanon was spinning out of control—with dangerous consequences for everyone, including his own country. Freed from Syria's restraint, Hizbullah might soon be hijacking planes and kidnapping people again. If backed by Iranian radicals, it could go even further.

At the time I didn't imagine the full-scale war that has since erupted. But in retrospect, it's hardly surprising. Western diplomats may now seek a ceasefire and send in international peacekeepers. Israel may create an ethnically clean "buffer zone" along its northern border. But does anyone really believe the violence will stop? Will Iran prove a better safety valve than Syria? Not likely.

When the last Syrian tank rattled across the border last year, Syria fell back on a policy of trying to seal itself off from the chaos it could see building around it in Iraq and Lebanon. Bashar al-Assad especially fears the sort of crisis his father confronted in February 1982, when an insurrection backed by the Muslim Brotherhood broke out in Hamah. Assad senior contained it by flattening the town with heavy artillery. Combing through the rubble, the Syrians were astonished to find that the rebels' weapons had come from Lebanon. With no strong central government, it had become a failed state, an open arms bazaar and a haven for terrorists the world over. Today Syria sees history repeating itself, only worse.

Baer, a former CIA officer, is author of "Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude."

© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.

From Washington ProFile:
In your book “See No Evil,” you write about a number of contacts you made with members of the Russian military during your time spent in Tajikistan. In the 90’s, do you believe it would have been beneficial for the U.S. intelligence community to work closer with the Russians? Would it have made a difference in rooting out dangerous terrorist organizations in Central Asia, for example?
: Well, no, not really, because the Russians, first of all, don’t understand American politics. They don’t understand that Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest supporters of Chechnya, the whole resistance there. So it doesn’t matter who was in the Kremlin – whether it was Yeltsin, or Putin or Gorbachev – they looked and said, ‘now wait a minute, here’s America’s best ally in the Middle East and yet they are funding the Chechen resistance.’ And they knew that our interests didn’t coincide. The United States only cared about Saudi oil, getting it cheaply, and drawing on Saudi Arabia for money, and the Russians said that’s not exactly fighting terrorism.

Is there any residual Cold War effect going on?

: The Russians pay much more attention to national security because they don’t have private interest groups that take over foreign policy. You look at the pro-Israeli lobby in this country, whether it’s evangelical Christian or Zionist, and the Russians don’t understand that, how a minority group can hijack a foreign policy. And they are very mistrustful. The Russians are very mistrustful about what’s happening in Syria today, because we are doing everything to unseat a secular regime, which ultimately will affect everybody’s interests in the Middle East. The Russians don’t understand why we attacked Iraq, where we unseated a secular regime, and essentially turned it over to fundamentalists…They don’t get it. Although there are some Russians that do, but in general, it’s an irrational foreign policy, so you could never have a close alliance between the Russians and the Americans.

Do you think that since 9/11 there has been any closer cooperation between the U.S. and Russian intelligence communities at all?

: Oh sure. But they have different interests. Remember that during my days in the CIA, the CIA had nothing to offer on Chechnya. And that is a driving interest of Russia. So there’s not that much really to exchange. And the Russians don’t really care about Saudi Arabian royal family…

What about the Uzbek Islamic Organization…

: The CIA doesn’t know anything about it. What are you going to trade the Russian government with? If they arrested some Uzbeks… I simply don’t know what’s happened since 9/11. You’ve got a coincidence of interests in some places, but… When I was in Tajikistan, the Russians just found it implausible that we knew next to nothing about the Arab fundamentalists in Afghanistan. Their attitude was: ‘look, they’re coming through Pakistan, that’s your ally, you guys sent them there in 1979, you paved the way for the crazies to come into Afghanistan to fight us, and now this is 1992 and they’re causing a civil war in Tajikistan, what do you mean you don’t know who they are?’ They don’t realize that there’s this sort of laissez-faire that the CIA carries out in intelligence. I mean, it’s true; I kept on asking questions when I was in Tajikistan: ‘what’s happening? Who is sending the rebels across the border and killing Russians?’ They weren’t our friends. And we got the answer: ‘we don’t know.’
In reaction to this weeks events, MSNBC has this article:
UK Seen as a weak link by the US

Magister: Creation or Evolution

Creation or Evolution? Here Is the View of the Church of Rome
The view of the Church of Rome? Perhaps he exaggerates.

ROMA, August 11, 2006 – All those who are expected to attend Benedict XVI’s private seminar with his former theology students at Castel Gandolfo in early September will come with the necessary documents tucked away in their briefcases. Among the papers, an article published by “L’Osservatore Romano” on January 16, 2006, stands out. It is signed Fiorenzo Facchini, who is both priest and scientist, and teaches anthropology at the University of Bologna. He has written extensively on the question of evolution. The importance of this article – which appears in its entirety below – is confirmed in the latest issue of “La Civiltà Cattolica”, a Jesuit journal published in Rome under the control and with the authorization of Vatican authorities. In the August 5-19 issue of “La Civiltà Cattolica”, Jesuit Giuseppe De Rosa reserves ten pages to evolution and its workings, from Lamarck and Darwin up to today. He signs off his piece with a reference to Facchini’s “L’Osservatore Romano” article which he considers the most up-to-date synthesis of the position of the Catholic Church in the matter.
In his article Facchini writes:

For this reason, we must take into account possible developments within evolutionary biology as they impact the study of the role of regulatory genes in effecting considerable morphological changes. Experiments on the regulatory genes that shape the embryonic development of crustacea might allow for hypotheses on new organizational frameworks underlying single genetic mutations. Research in this direction could open up new horizons, but they would still leave one question unanswered, namely whether mutations are the byproduct of random selection or the outcome of some kind of preferential orientation.

Ah, but are genes (even regulatory genes) the whole story behind morphogenesis? I think not--Facchini needs to read the work of the structuralists, or that of his countryman (I presume) Giuseppe Sermonti. Even regulatory genes are not on all the time--they must be switched "on" and "off"--what moves them to act? The question no one asks, because no one analyzes the question of change deeply enough.

The rest is what I would expect from someone trying to maintain a balancing act between what must be held on Faith and what the scientific community claims, conceding to the scientific community much in order to avoid embarrassing the Church and the Faith. (Which is to say, too much--since that evidence and the reasoning behind it should receive a better critique from Catholic scientists and philosophers. But who wants to take on the secular academy?)

Supposing that neo-Darwinism were a true account of changes in living things, it would not negate the need for a First Mover. In fact, the mechanism itself is a proof for a First Mover, so long as one reasons properly. The mechanism does not threaten theism; only scientists who reason poorly do, and they need to take a class on the pre-Socratics on change to get their thinking straight.

These are the questions that should really be asked.

(1) Whether macroevolution is possible?
(2) Has it taken place?

In order for these questions to be answered, the problem of species must first be resolved. Does like reproduce like? Or can species themselves become lost through reproduction?

From an Aristotelian pov, analysis then could go on in this direction:
(3) Is macroevolution a form of substantial change or accidental change? (And the related question: are there many natures, or do all living things share one nature?
(4) Does neo-Darwinism give sufficient respect to nature as a principle of living things? Does the mechanism fail to take into account other parts of living things which influence organization and the development of parts?
(5) If development (or morphogenesis--a term which I believe needs clarification) is an operation that is posterior to a nature and not prior to it (that is to say, a thing of a specific nature does not come to be only when development is complete, but pre-exists it, and only the adult 'form' comes to be), then is it possible for a thing to substantially change itself? Or must any change in form therefore be accidental? Does chance tinker with a machine? If it tinkers with a living thing with its own nature, and the nature is ordered to a certain adult "form" (or perhaps a range of adult "forms"), if the new adult form is outside its range of possibilities, has not the nature been destroyed and substituted with something else?
(6) Even if it is possible for drastic changes in structure and appearance, how are such changes inherited, if we find that genes are not sufficient to explain morphological change? And how can we explain the accumulation of said changes without resorting to a mechanistic account of life that denies that living things are substances and wholes?

Not to mention the important question of what "chance" is... it is easy to give a definition of chance that leaves God out of it, but when applied to the substitution of bases in a DNA sequence, does it really make sense? DNA replication is a form of generation at its own proper level; the efficient cause of DNA generation is not itself, since that is what is coming-to-be. I would argue that it is not even the parts, even if the parts change in place naturally. (That is, their locomotion is a natural motion.) Now God may will that all the things involved in DNA replication "do their thing," more than the proper outcome [i.e. accurate replication], but does God really need such a haphazard way in order to bring about the diversity of life? And if it is really chance, would it not have been possible for life and its diversification not to have been brought about? What then would we say about God's wisdom?

Dr. De Koninck wrote about chance and evolution; I have to dig up that article and read it, and see if he uses Aristotle's account and applies it to evolution.

"Hizballah declares victory"

From JihadWatch. (JW on certain British jihadists and the question of whether they are really Muslims.)

Welcome to the world of 4GW and PR war. Some recent commentary over at Global Guerillas. William Lind: Collapse of the Flanks? (Will the campaign in Afghanistan, in hindsight, turn out to have been a mistake?)

How much success are Israeli ground forces having in Lebanon? How many casualties have they suffered?

From "Israel perpares wider ground offensive":

By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press Writer 16 minutes ago

JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided Friday to launch an expanded ground offensive in southern Lebanon after expressing dissatisfaction
over an emerging cease-fire deal at the United Nations, government officials said. Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz made the decision after meeting for several hours.

Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes pounded south Beirut and border crossings to Syria, killing at least 14 people across Lebanon as ground fighting picked up intensity in the south. It was not immediately clear whether Israel was trying to pressure the U.N. Security Council, which was close to a vote on a cease-fire resolution, or whether Israel is really determined to send troops deeper into Lebanon.

Israel is upset about apparent last-minute changes in the text, which would seem to weaken the mandate of a multinational force, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they is not authorized to discuss the contents of the Olmert-Peretz meeting.

In another statement, Hezbollah said its fighters killed or wounded about 15 Israeli soldiers trying to advance toward the border village of Aita al-Shaab. "The remaining soldiers retreated under the cover of artillery shelling," the statement said. Aita al-Shaab is one of several Lebanese border towns where gunbattles have been raging for weeks between Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerrillas.

The group later said it killed four Israeli soldiers in Qantara, about 5 miles from the Israeli border. Hezbollah said its guerrillas inflicted casualties on Israeli forces in the village of Rachaf as well, some 9 miles from the border.

"The Islamic Resistance (Hezbollah) has since early morning been engaged in fierce clashes (with Israeli troops) on the southwestern outskirts of Rachaf. By 9:40 a.m., the (Israeli) enemy was trying to evacuate its casualties from the battlefield," Hezbollah said in a statement broadcast on its Al-Manar television.

Fighting also continued in Beit Yahoun, with Hezbollah saying it destroyed an Israeli tank and bulldozer, killing or wounding their crews. The town is about 7 miles from the Israeli border.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment on Hezbollah's statements.

Are numbers being inflated by the Hezbollah, just as they were inflated by the Israeli military? Regardless, one suspects that taking out Hezbollah/Hizballah is more difficult than Americans understand.

Some have argued that if Lebanon cannot control Hezbollah/Hizballah within its borders, then this amounts to a de facto loss of sovereignty. Loss of sovereignty for the central government, perhaps. But even if the state of Lebanon has lost sovereignty, it does not automatically devolve to Israel, nor does it legitimate Israel's military actions, in and of itself. Why? Because sovereignty would be automatically assumed by lesser communities if such exist.

Even if the Shia region of Lebanon were independent and autonomous, and all the Shia support Hezbollah (as it is arguably the case), total war against that region alone would not be permissible. Airstrikes and the use of artillery will be ineffective against a 4GW enemy, if they know what they are doing, because these are effectively only against a concentrated enemy whose position is known. As a counter, all one would need to do is disperse one's forces into independent groups, and have them keep as low a profile as possible.

If Hezbollah cannot be controlled or eliminated by the central government, then it is an open question whether the central government of Lebanon has sovereignty--although it claims to have such. Still, such a claim has some moral import for other nations, and needs to be taken into consideration, and one is not free to act as if the government were completely absent.

Edit: Eunomia refers us to Peter Hitchens on bombing

Thursday, August 10, 2006

SHG and CTH in Japan

South Korea's actor Cha Tae-hyun and actress Song Hye-gyo (R) pose for photographers during a news conference of their film 'My Girl and I' in Tokyo August 7, 2006. The film opens on August 26 in Japan. REUTERS/Kiyoshi Ota (JAPAN)

2 from Boundless

Step Away from the Pot Pie
by Kimberly Eddy
You don't have to live with your parents to eat well. In fact, as a single adult, you have some great opportunities to experiment in the kitchen and enjoy practicing hospitality.

Plenty of Men to Go Around
by Candice Z. Watters

Are there really 11 million more single young women than single young men? In a word, no.

The Fagility of...


plus, The Fragility of Global Trade and Infrastructure.

Both by Alice Friedman.

Sigh. Hong Kong.

Hong Kong actors Andy Lau (L) and Anita Yuen pose during a news conference to promote their new movie 'Protege' in Hong Kong August 3, 2006. REUTERS/Paul Yeung (HONG KONG)

First Shirley Kwan, now Anita? Ugh, apparently she's back with Julian Cheung Chi-lam and it's his kid. (And they're not married.) I don't know how long they've been together, but I do remember that they had broken up for a period of time.

I was thinking that even though adultery, fornication and such are mentioned in Hong Kong dramas, they are not shown (beyond some kissing). Also, here in the U.S., just because a comedy has children in it does not mean it's family-friendly. Examples: George Lopez, According to Jim, Yes, Dear. The days of the Cosby Show and ABC Family Fridays are gone. I remember when I was in 5th grade hearing classmates talk about Cheers. When I first watched the show a couple of years later, I was surprised parents would let their children watch a comedy like that, with adult themes and jokes. Now, the innuendo and situations are even worse. (For example, on According to Jim one plot revolved around sex toys and Jim's feelings of inadequacy.)

At least Hong Kong comedies are very family-friendly. More on Chinese family dynamics, as compared with American family dynamics, and Dr. Laura's recommendations, in another post.

Hong Kong has embarked on a pro-children campaign in order to counter the decline in population, but what would happen if the government were to inform the citizens on children's need to have an intact family? Perhaps we would get the same reaction here--"we don't need a piece of paper to live like a married couple or have a family."

Lan Yang Catholic Youth Center

Ok, here is a real (Far) East meets West event.

Pope Benedict XVI poses for a family picture with Chinese dancers of the Lan Yang Catholic Youth Center, during the weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2006. The Pontiff kept up his appeals for prayers for peace in the Middle East, saying goodwill and trust are needed to obtain a cease-fire and a 'just and lasting solution of the conflict.'' (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

REUTERS/Tony Gentile

The costumes are from the Tang dynasty, I believe, which was not as puritannical as, say, the Ming. (See House of Flying Daggers; I think that was set during the Tang as well.)

A Chinese dancer of the Lan Yang Catholic Youth Center kisses the hand of Pope Benedict XVI during the weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2006. The Pontiff kept up his appeals for prayers for peace in the Middle East, saying goodwill and trust are needed to obtain a cease-fire and a 'just and lasting solution of the conflict.'' (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Apparently the dancers were educated on protocol; although I guess the genuflection is not required under circumstances such as this? Or is it?

Pope Benedict XVI flanked by Bishop James Harvey delivers his blessing during the weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2006. The Pontiff kept up his appeals for prayers for peace in the Middle East, saying goodwill and trust are needed to obtain a cease-fire and a 'just and lasting solution of the conflict.'' (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

One article on the group.
The graceful dance titled 'Peacock Forest' cleverly plays on the traditional Chinese fan dance, with young girls wearing green and purple costumes and holding shimmering fans that resemble peacock feathers. The peacock is an auspicious Chinese symbol of beauty, and the dance expresses a respect for life and peace. The dancers press their thumbs and index fingers together to resemble the bird's head, creating a stage filled with peacocks praising nature.

This is just one of many dances in the Lan Yang Dance Troupe's repertoire. The troupe takes ancient Chinese folk stories as its starting point and weaves them into dance patterns. Although this is a Taiwanese troupe, with its personal ethnic history, the choreography is universal in its appeal.

Another article on the group. (alternate)

The Lan Yang Dance Troupe was founded in 1966 by the Italian Catholic missionary
Father Gian Carlo Michelini in the then sleepy rural town of Luodong in the northeastern county of Yilan. The dance troupe takes its name from the county's Lan Yang Plain -- lan yang meaning "orchid sun" -- signifying the importance Michelini and those who cooperated with him have always given to loving one's native soil.

When Michelini arrived in Luodong in 1964, he discovered a community he felt was sadly lacking in appreciation of the breadth and depth of its cultural heritage. Hoping to rectify this situation, he organized the Lan Yang Youth Catholic Center in 1966. The main focus of the center's activities -- besides fun and games -- was training in mainstream traditional Chinese arts, including classical music, painting and dance. The Lan Yang Dance Troupe is an outgrowth of the youth center.

East meets West, near Rome

Well, the near East, if not the far East. The Abbey of St. Mary of Grottoferrata. Check out their photo gallery. I can't find any current photos of the monastery interior or of their chapel, so I don't know if it is Latin or Byzantine in style. This photo, of Paul VI visiting the abbey on 18 August 1963 makes me think it is more Byzantine than Latin:

I've never been to Grottoferrata; I first learned of it from "Dr." Pinto while we were at Christendom. He told us that when he was there, an Orthodox Christian woman happened to come across the monastery and asked if they were Orthodox, and the one who answered the door said "we are in communion with the pope." She asked the question again, and received the same answer, and walked away confused. It is a Basilian monastery founded by St. Nilus the Younger. The abbey was built on the spot where the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Nilus and requested that he build a church there. "Dr." Pinto says they celebrate the Byzantine liturgy in Greek at the monastery; I don't know if it is in unadulterated form. Still, if I go back to Italy I would like to visit the abbey.

CE entry on the abbey.

( from the Inn at the End of the World

From "The Consecration of the Church of St. Mary of Grottaferrata":

The Pontifical Oriental Institute is located next to the Church of St. Anthony the Great; on the other side of the church is the Russian College, or the Russicum. All are located near St. Mary Major (some pics of Santa Maria Maggiore--which is the home of a regular Maronite liturgy, iirc). I visited there with Chris Smith (now Fr. Chris Smith, parochial vicar at St. Mary's in Greenville -- news of his ordination last year here) the last time I was in Rome, I believe. We happened to come upon a divine liturgy in process, and stayed for some of it.

St. Michael's page on the Russicum.

The College itself known as the Russian College, or the 'Russicum', but its official title remains the 'College of St. Therese', and in the chapel used for the daily Liturgy there is a powerful icon of her on the Iconostasis in the place reserved for the patron of the place. It is a remarkable icon which conveys something quite extraordinary of her spiritual vision.

From the iconostasis.

Diak posts at the Byzantine Forum:

The Russicum has a nice chapel, located at Pontificio Collegio Russo (Russicum)

Via Carlo Cattaneo, 2A, 00185 Rome, Italy

Tel: (39–06) 446–5609

They used to have Saturday Vespers at 6 PM and Sunday Divine Liturgy at 10 AM,

Also not to far from the Piazza San Pietro in Rome is the nice little Russian Catholic convent of the Dormition. Their info: Monastero Russo Uspenskijvia della Pisana, 346, 00163 Rome, ItalyTel.: (39–06) 6615–2344

E-Mail: Sister Maria used to be the Hegumena (Prioress)

If you are ever near Milano Archpriest Romano Scalfi has the very nice Russia Cristiana mission:Fondazione Russia CristianaVia Ponzio, 44, 20133 Milan, Italy

Tel: (39–02) 266–3432Fax: (39–02) 236–5011

They have an Italian website at

Andreas writes in the same thread:

I have heard about a Church in Milan where the Bizantine Lithurgy is regularly celebrated every Sunday (at 10.30 am). It is the Church of S. Maurizio, Corso Magenta, 15; the website of the Abbey of Grottaferrata ( gives even a phone number to require further informations: +39.348.78.13.356.

Another Byzantine Catholic Church is in Turin: S. Michele Arcangelo; they have a website:; Sunday lithurgy is
at 10 am; it is more distant from the location of your studies than Milan.In Rome there is the Church of S. Atanasio; Sunday lithurgy 10.30 am; I think it is in Via del Corso.At the same latitude than Rome there is a BC Church in Villa Badessa, a little village near the towns of Chieti and Pescara (

"Monasticism in the Christian East" (unofficial homepage of the Society of St. John Chrysostom.)

St. Theodore the Studite

another icon
"Reform Rules"
A Catechetical Homily
Catecheses to his monks

St. Theodore House

St. John Damascene

(from University of Balamand)
University of Balamand page
De Fide Orthodoxa
St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church version ( version (incomplete)
Unfortunately, not many of their writings are available online. I can't find a copy of the Rule of St. Basil either.

I did find this, The Crossroads Initative (Dr. Marcellino d'Ambrosio).

More on Orthodoxy and Hesychasm
The Orthodox Church by Kallistos Ware (his "How to Read the Bible")
The Basic Sources of the Teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church
"Saying the Jesus Prayer"Merton and Hesychasm
Hesychasm library
The Orthodox World-View by Father Seraphim Rose of Platina
A page on Seraphim Rose
Fr. Seraphim Rose Foundation
"The Future of Russia and the End of the World"


Fr. Alexander Men (other links)

Something about Fr. Taft, S.J. at the website for the Orthodox Institute at the GTU. Fr. Taft gives a lot of lectures for the Orthodox, and has frequent contact with them--I wonder what his opinion is of hesychasm.

I didn't know of the existence of the Orthodox Institute until I did the search on the Pontifical Oriental Institute. A place to check out if I ever return to Berkeley; is there a chapel? If there is, I hope it is open to the public. How do the Orthodox remain orthodox in Berkeley? haha

Varia for 2006 August 10

Army special forces soldiers, rear, salute during the funeral for Army 1st Sgt. Christopher Rafferty Friday, Aug. 4, 2006, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

Army honor guard carry the remains of Army 1st Sgt. Christopher Rafferty during his burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Friday, Aug. 4, 2006, (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

All the News That Fits, by Thomas Fleming

‘Airlines terror plot’ disrupted
Find: Muslim Not Found
Find: Islam Not Found
Find: The Truth Not Found

In reading, seeing, or hearing news reports on the terrorist plot, hatched in the UK against the US, don’t bother to look for any description of the terrorists beyond the
phrase used by the government, “home-grown.”

Check JihadWatch for the latest on the plot to blow up commercial airliners travelling from the UK to the US.

Armed Port Authority Police Department officers keep watch inside the British Airways terminal of JFK Airport, Thursday, August 10, 2006 in New York. Passengers in the United States are facing heightened security at airports today after authorities in London uncovered a terror plot aimed at airlines traveling from Britain to the U.S. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)

An armed British police officer stands guard outside the Houses of Parliament in London, after Britain's national security threat level was raised to critical, Thursday Aug. 10, 2006. British authorities thwarted a terrorist plot to blow up several aircraft mid-flight between the United States and Britain using explosives smuggled in hand luggage, officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Armed British police officers stand outside the Ministry of Defence whilst patrolling the Westminster area of London, after Britain's national security threat level was raised to critical, Thursday Aug. 10, 2006. British authorities thwarted a terrorist plot to blow up several aircraft mid-flight between the United States and Britain using explosives smuggled in hand luggage, officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Akira Suemori)

Armed police officers patrol Manchester Airport. Authorities in Britain have said they had thwarted a terrorist plot to wreak "mass murder" with the simultaneous mid-air bombings of planes to the United States, and ordered a maximum security alert that snarled air traffic around the world.(AFP/Paul Ellis)

Policemen are seen on duty at Manchester Airport after a terrorist plot to blow up aircraft in mid-air has been foiled by British police and security services in England, Thursday Aug. 10, 2006. British authorities thwarted a terrorist plot to blow up several aircraft in flight between the United States and the United Kingdom using explosives smuggled in hand luggage, officials said Thursday. Britain's Home Secretary John Reid said the alleged plot was significant and that terrorists aimed to 'bring down a number of aircraft through mid-flight explosions, causing a considerable loss of life.' (AP Photo/Peter Bryne,PA)

Members of the Polish Anti-terrorist Police unit guard Warsaw-Okecie international airport, Poland, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006. Airlines across Europe canceled flights bound for London's Heathrow Airport Thursday, while some airports offered to take on diverted traffic after British authorities said they had thwarted a terror attack aimed at aircraft flying from Britain to the U.S. ( AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

I find the next one amusing.

Massachusetts State police patrol with automatic weapons inside a terminal at Logan International Airport in Boston, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006. The response to the terrorist threat announced Thursday produced long lines at airports as security officials scrambled to put new measures in place and passengers faced perplexing new restrictions _ including a ban on carrying liquids onto aircraft. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Joan Lunden did fire one for her "Behind Closed Doors" special on the FBI HRT...

Lots of MP-5s being used (still a favorite among counter-terrorist teams and police departments for CQB)... but then there's this:

Armed police patrol Gatwick international airport on the outskirts of London, following the introduction of heightened security measures August 10, 2006. British police said on Thursday they had thwarted a plot to blow up aircraft in mid-flight between Britain and the United States and arrested more than 20 people. (Kieran Doherty - BRITAIN/Reuters)

Armed British police walk in the check in area of the South terminal at Gatwick Airport, Sussex. US authorities issued their highest level "Red" terrorism alert for the first time after the discovery of a plot to bomb multiple US airliners flying home from Britain, an operation officials said bore the imprint of the Al-Qaeda movement.(AFP/Carl de Souza)

Looks like a G36K.

*edit* Looks like they're not the only ones.

Miami-Dade County Police officer Mark Huetter watches the hallways at Miami International Airport Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006 in Miami. Airport lines stretched longer, security was increased and frustrated passengers across Florida emptied carry on bags of everything from lipstick to toothpaste as the U.S. issued a threat alert in response to what authorities called a thwarted terrorist attack. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Miami-Dade County Police seargent Rudy Espinosa, right, performs security rounds at Miami International Airport Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006 in Miami. Airport lines stretched longer, security was increased and frustrated passengers across Florida emptied carry on bags of everything from lipstick to toothpaste as the U.S. issued a threat alert in response to what authorities called a thwarted terrorist attack. (Alan Diaz)

I wonder if the G36K is standard equipment for Miami-Dade--it had a prominent role in Miami Vice.

Heckler and Koch trying to get in on the carbine action--the HK416 System:

Something for Sarge:

Los Angeles Airport Police officer James Adrian stands on watch at Los Angeles International Airport Thursday, August 10, 2006 in Los Angeles. The U.S. government issued its highest terrorism alert ever for commercial flights from Britain to the United States early Thursday after a terror plot was disrupted in London, with a specific concern for tourist-filled flights to major U.S. cities. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

"You and your M4."

Sandro Magister: From Lebanon to Central Asia: The Rise of Shia Muslims

Korea Times review of Sugar: "Sugar" is Sweet but Not Delicious

'Kim Jong-il' Aphrodisiac Gang Busted

Living Korean Dance Legend Performs in New York

Korean traditional dance legend Kang Sun-young performs at the Lincoln Center in New York on Tuesday.
Front - August. 9, 2006

Monks climb stone steps after finishing their three-months summer retreat at the Sudeok Temple in South Chungcheong Province on Tuesday. The practice dates back some 2,400 years, when the Buddha encouraged his followers to spend the summer monsoon in contemplation lest they trample on budding grass or insects./Yonhap

Seoul Film Student Named New Asiana Model

Regarded as a gateway to stardom, the position of exclusive advertising model for Asiana Airlines has gone to a newcomer, Park Chae-kyung.

Asiana said Thursday it selected Park, who is studying film at the Seoul Institute of the Arts, and contracted her for two years of exclusive work. "To coincide with our new IC and improved service programs, we went looking for a new commercial model,” an Asiana staffer said. “Hundreds applied, but we determined that it was Park Chae-kyung who best lives up to the motto of our new service: 'Novelty, Earnestness, Softness, Quality.'” Stars who started out as Asiana models include Park Joo-mi, Han Ga-in, Lee Su-kyung and Lee Bo-young. Commercials featuring Park will hit the airwaves mid-month./Yonhap
( )

Ugh, but why would the Chosun Ilbo stoop to this level! How to Spot a Boob Job