Saturday, September 16, 2006

FX-05 rifle

New rifle for the Mexican army? Apparently built with a license from HK, modelled after the G36? Lot of debate at Military Photos about the details... I don't care much for the handle/scope. How is the quality of the manufacturing?

More at this thread at Military Photos. Large thread. Another. One more (just discussion).

Wiki on the FN SCAR. I still think it's ugly.

The Deliberate Agrarian

(Herrick Kimball)

his blog (selected writings); his book

I had written down the name of the book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian, after coming upon it somewhere (perhaps Hallowed Ground?)... from the website I found out that he is selling signed copies of his book. Great! Too bad we can't have speakers like him at BC. Check out his links to other agrarian writings. (He includes a bunch by Allan Carlson, including "Love is Not Enough: Toward the Recovery of a Family Economics.")

Read his latest blog entry, "Boys will be... Warriors."

An oldie: World War IV As Fourth-Generation Warfare

Tony Corn, World War IV As Fourth-Generation Warfare

Lunch at Sunset Grill

Well, originally I was going to go yam cha with the Lady Downstairs today, but Fujian Gal was actually still around and she was free for a quick lunch, so we decided to skip dim sum today and go somewhere else... we ended up deciding on Sunset Grill and Tap in Allston, near Harvard Ave. The Philosopher went down to DC this weekend for his sister's wedding; we were definitely missing the New Scot, who would have enjoyed the beer. Do they have anything like Sunset over in Peterborough? (Wellington County Brewery; list of Irish pubs in Canada)

I had a chicken ranch sandwich, which was ok, about on par with what I used to get at Chili's. (Not enough fries though!) Fujian Gal got the baby back ribs appetizer (she actually prefers the beef ribs though, but I hardly see those being sold in the supermarket), and the Lady ordered the Oktoberfest wurst/sausage sampler. The baby back ribs were fine this time around, not dry like other places; I tried a bit of the cheddar sausage, which was ok. I bet KK would like the German sausages, sausage fan that she is. Sunset was remodelled a while ago, not sure when--the last time I was there, it was for dinner with the New Scot; they expanded the second room on the ground floor and moved the tables. There's a third room beyond the second room, with stools, I think. I'm not sure what that area is for.

The Session -- for Irish tunes -- don't know if you need to pay to subscribe



Another rah-rah, Americans are always the good guys saving the world sort of movie, in the line of Independence Day. Looks like comic book action, plot, and simplicity, with bad CGI (worse than Pearl Harbor!). And of course, the Germans are 100% evil, and the Allies are 100% good. Talk about a distorted view of World War I. Why can't Americans make an intelligent and historically accurate movie about World War I instead?

There is also the African-American pilot who is accepted as a volunteer. Perhaps that could have happened, but it still smacks of PC movie-making.

I'd rather see the dogfights in something like Dark Blue World, or perhaps in a classic like The Blue Max. The sequences in Flyboys are just too fake. Perhaps it would be too difficult to make a movie now with vintage aicraft, both because the aircraft are scarce and the complexity of the filming itself. Better then not to produce a bad movie, and to use the money for something else. (Like the Stargate sequel, if the filmmakers had to make a movie.)

Review of the Fountain

Screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. A plus for Toronto? Still, the presence of the "arts" can't change my mind about megapolises.

The review.

"Experts: Junk culture is killing childhood"


What is needed is a humane education even at the primary level. (Which should be abolished as much as possible anyways.)

I Said, 'Not While You Study!'
Science Suggests Kids Can't Study and Groove at the Same Time

Why Johnny Can't Code
Now someone may argue that the acquisition of programming skills during childhood ensures America's competitive edge in technology, but...

Is programming all it is really cracked up to be, if the necessity of computers for a sustainable economy is slight?

Syria: a tolerant state?

Much like Iraq, I suppose. (surprise surprise, look who is in power)

The final place of refuge for Christians in the Middle East is under threat

As Iraq and Lebanon are torn apart by sectarian mayhem and war, only Syria's religious tolerance offers refugees shelter

William Dalrymple in Damascus
Saturday September 2, 2006
The Guardian

No more dialoguing through press statements and lectures

Maybe it's time to end trying to dialogue with others through statements, lectures, and such (unless the statement is an authentical agreement reached on doctrinal matters as a prelude to or establishment of full communion).

Who takes the time to read what the Holy Father writes or says? How many people bother to read the papal encyclicals when they come out? (How many bishops and priests don't!) Are encyclicals another band-aid solution by the pope to maintain some sort of authority over the Church, to make up for what is lacking on the part of bishops [and metropolitans]? And when the Holy Father addresses an audience of non-believers or of the lukewarm, does his preaching get through? Or is an alternate form and style called for, something more vigorous, something more apostolic? While there is something to be said for preserving the traditions and customs that have accumulated to the exercise of the papacy for the last two century (it is said that Pius X chose to wear the tiara out of humility, because he did not want to innovate), maybe it is time for the Holy Father to lead the way towards decentralization and a refocus on the pastoral duties of a bishop.

I become more and more convinced that top-down management (if such can be said to exist) will not lead to the placement of holy and orthodox bishops, especially here in the United States. The only remedy we have? Prayer and penance, with the explicit petition that God may raise up holy men to become bishops. We cannot be content bourgeois Catholics and expect things to be ok; what is neeeded is sacrifice (especially of materal goods) in the spirit of charity for the well-being of the Church. Until the diocese (and its parishes) become practicing communities of agape, I think our testimony to the Good News will fail to impress.

Reaction to B16's lecture at U. Regensburg

Amy Welborn has plenty of links. See also Papa Ratzi Post. *edited* roundup at The Benedict Blog

Given the reaction, is any form of dialogue possible?

Something from Robert Spencer.

The Pope’s speech: lending Islam a helping hand to avoid a downward spiral
by Samir Khalil Samir, sj

Benedict XVI’s words spark calls for apologies and requests for clarification in theIslamic world

Pope is sorry, reaffirms esteem for Islam and rejection of violence
A bit misleading, the Holy Father regrets that his words were misinterpreted.

As for the opinion of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus which he quoted during his Regensburg talk, the Holy Father did not mean, nor does he mean, to make that opinion his own in any way. He simply used it as a means to undertake - in an academic context, and as is evident from a complete and attentive reading of the text - certain reflections on the theme of the relationship between religion and violence in general, and to conclude with a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence, from whatever side it may come.

One of Cardinal Bertone's first acts as the new Secretary of State. It is somewhat baffling what the Holy Father intended with his citation, surely he is not unaware of what would happen if he were to include a text that was so critical of Islam. (And Islam as a false religion and revelation does need to be criticized, though doing so to those who are not open to grace is useless.)

Robert Spencer comments on the statement.

Because the question of authority within Islam is problematic to begin with, I believe moderate Muslims will never prevail over those who adhere to a more militant interpretation of the Koran--they have neither the will nor the means to oppose those who will use violence to defend and enforce their interpretation.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Webpages for Chefs, from Soompi...

Alton Brown
Good Eats
Good Eats Fanpage

Mario Batali

Julia Child

Rocco DeSpirito
the meatball recipe:

Giada De Laurentiis

Nathalie Dupree

Ina Garten

Ian Hewitson

Iron Chef

Iron Chef America,...D_16696,00.html

Emeril Lagasse

Mollie Katzen

Nigella Lawson
Forever Summer with Nigella

Jamie Oliver
The Naked Chef

Ian Parmenter
Consuming Passions

Jacques Pepin
Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way

Wolfgang Puck

Seve Raichlen (BBQ University

Gordon Ramsay

Rachael Ray
Thirty Minute Meals

John Sarich

Ming Tsai
East Meets West

Jim White

Martin Yan

Miscellaneous Websites
Food 911


Srdja Trifkovic remembers Oriana Fallaci

Farewell to a Good European: Oriana Fallaci (1929 2006)


Earlier this Summer, Discover reported on a study by Dr. Bruce Charlton which indicated that "immaturity levels" were rising. (webpage)

A “child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviors and knowledge” is probably adaptive to the increased instability of the modern world, Charlton believes. Formal education now extends well past physical maturity, leaving students with minds that are, he said, “unfinished.”

“The psychological neoteny effect of formal education is an accidental by-product — the main role of education is to increase general, abstract intelligence and prepare for
economic activity,” he explained.

“But formal education requires a child-like stance of receptivity to new learning, and cognitive flexibility."

"When formal education continues into the early twenties," he continued, "it probably, to an extent, counteracts the attainment of psychological maturity, which would otherwise occur at about this age.”

Charlton pointed out that past cultures often marked the advent of adulthood with initiation ceremonies.

While the human mind responds to new information over the course of any individual’s lifetime, Charlton argues that past physical environments were more stable and allowed for a state of psychological maturity. In hunter-gatherer societies, that maturity was probably achieved during a person’s late teens or early twenties, he said.

“By contrast, many modern adults fail to attain this maturity, and such failure is common and indeed characteristic of highly educated and, on the whole, effective and socially valuable people," he said.

"People such as academics, teachers, scientists and many other professionals are often strikingly immature outside of their strictly specialist competence in the sense of being unpredictable, unbalanced in priorities, and tending to overreact.”

Charlton added that since modern cultures now favor cognitive flexibility, “immature” people tend to thrive and succeed, and have set the tone not only for contemporary life, but also for the future, when it is possible our genes may even change as a result of the psychological shift.

The faults of youth are retained along with the virtues, he believes. These include short attention span, sensation and novelty-seeking, short cycles of arbitrary fashion and a sense of cultural shallowness.

Let it not go unsaid that acacdemics can be some of the most useless people. Memorizing enough info to enable to write an encyclopedia entry does not qualify them to speak on matters beyond that, though one would be amazed how many subjects they believe themselves to be qualified to speak authoritatively upon just because they have credentials in one area, especially practical or normative concerns. Now they may have some participation in civic prudence, in so far as they exercise some form of prudence in their own lives and with respect to whatever associations of which they may be a part, but... just because one knows much about the Middle East, for example, does not mean their understanding is 100% true or that their foreign policy advice should be heeded. (Especially if they analyze the current situation according to a Marxist perspective, for example.)

Ethics, politics, and prudence do not come automatically, nor is their acquisition linked to the acquisition of the speculative moral virtues (much less the memorization of facts and an organized body of opinion); however something resembling the above can come with experience, but how many academics have that sort of leadership experience?

Immaturity is not the cause of "academic" achievement, but rather prolonged education (not just graduate education, but undergraduate education in itself) leads to immaturity. We can see how this would be applicable on a wider scale, and not just limited to academics--the current educational system is infantalizing for all, delaying the assumption of true adult responsibility for most for another 4 years (without a good reason).

Hence, I agree with this: "'When formal education continues into the early twenties," he continued, "it probably, to an extent, counteracts the attainment of psychological maturity, which would otherwise occur at about this age.'"

But I would not give such a positive assessment of academics as this:

“By contrast, many modern adults fail to attain this maturity, and such failure is common and indeed characteristic of highly educated and, on the whole, effective and socially valuable people," he said.

"People such as academics, teachers, scientists and many other professionals are often strikingly immature outside of their strictly specialist competence in the sense of being unpredictable, unbalanced in priorities, and tending to overreact.”

Which brings me to my second point: those who do not know what to do with their lives will often choose to prolong making a decision or commitment through further schooling. Effective and socially valuable people? I wonder what sort of criteria he is using to make this judgment.

“But formal education requires a child-like stance of receptivity to new learning, and cognitive flexibility."

As for his comments on cognitive flexibility, what is he talking about? This certainly needs a definition. Child-like stance of receptivity is not exactly flattering--especially if it implies rote memorization. Surely he can't be talking about facility with languages and such. Receptivity without active reasoning... just means more uninformed opinion being indoctrinated. (Great.)

I posted a brief reflection on intelligence at Diligite Iustitiam. It seems to me that Dr. Charlton needs more precision in his research and analysis. No doubt his operating assumptions about human nature should be scrutinized.

I believe it is in Aristophanes' The Clouds where Socrates is caricatured as someone who is lost in his thoughts and rather useless when it comes to practical affairs. But it seems very unlikely; after all, only those who had leisure could spend their time talking about philosophy, and Socrates must have done well for himself to be able to have leisure (managing and maintaining the oikos). Perhaps this caricature was more of an inside joke among the Athenian elites--after all, how many of them actually used their leisure time well? Perhaps it just seemed to the coarse or the sensual that Socrates could have been doing something else to have a "good time" rather than thinking so much.

How, then, would I define immaturity? First of all, I am defining immaturity as a fault of character, and not merely undeveloped character (since such is not really possible, especially after 18-24 years of living). We're not talking about real children, just adults who act and think like children in certain ways.

(1) I would characterize immaturity first of all by a failure to commit to a life plan, which is not primarily long-term goals (which can be difficult to determine beyond a certain specificity) but a vocation (which explains one's place in the universe), and the consequent failure to direct one's life in accordance with this. Naturally, the vocation to marriage can be an important constitutent of this; thus the necessity of preparing one's self for marriage and family (a mature handling of courtship as opposed to following contemporary mores based on a rather poor and unrealistic "Romantic" ideal; determining what is necessary for the household, including financial resources; and so on) .

Many duties and responsibilities cannot be chosen (or "consented to")--especially towards one's family, neighbors, political community. In contemporary America, how many are raised to acknowledge and take up these duties? How many understand these duties as being constitutent parts of their role in life? Failure to acquire the habits that are needed does not result merely in an unfulfilled potential, a blank slate--rather, without these duties to draw us out of ourselves, we come to view life as the pursuit of our own private good. Self-centeredness is the result, even if we do not commit injustices towards others (especially to avoid punishment).

Others duties are undertaken voluntarily, such as those associated with marriage and raising children. Hence one of social problems of our times--the failure of young people to properly sublimate eros and subordinate it to marriage and family, which fulfills eros but transcends it in accordance with our rational nature. Many would rather avoid commitment as long as possible, so they can live the good life withotu being burdened by others. How often have I heard women criticize themselves for being "selfish" in wanting to postpone marriage and having children. Is this a sign of a conscience at work? Or merely ingrained guilt?

Those who have no higher goals pursue a rather hedonistic lifestyle. (As Aristotle points out, this is true especially of the young.) It may be the case that they consciously reject the higher goods in favor of the lower. On the other hand, they may have not grown up knowing any different sort of life. (While the resulting state and behaviors may be the same, the fault may differ.)
As those appetites cannot be satisfied; one either grows weary of life and seeks to avoid growing sadness by other means, or one looks to new pleasures. Hence, the craving of novelty.

One can understand why Aristotle identifies immaturity with the lack of proper moral education resulting in a deformed character (and a corrupt reason). Unfortunately, many parents are ignorant of his valuable insights.

(Can something be said about the kind of diversions the immature are likely to pursue? Those that immediately gratify the senses? There are plenty of examples one can draw from the stereotypical bachelor, as depicted in the mass media but also confirmed in our everyday experience and by the people we know.)

(2) There is also the perception that there are a lot of choices which is really an overestimation of possibilities. This is also related to character, though mediately; an overestimation of possibilities is usually linked to an overestimation of one's own abilities [which are needed to make those possibilities come to be]. Pride, in other words, is at work. If I think I can be good at everything, then it would appear that I have many paths to choose from. [So what then are the criteria by which I choose? How do I know one path is better than another? Because it leads to more money? More free time?] The perception that there are too many choices can then lead to the difficulty of being unable to decide. (How do I know if this path is the "right" one? What if this other path is more satisfying?)

A related problem is the overextension of desire, also linked to pride. One is unable to be satisfied with one's choices and one's station in life, because one wants more than one has, more material goods, more status, and so on.

"The Lovely Dragon of Choice"

Spinach disaster

Until the cause is determined, any prolonged criticism of agribusiness will have to wait...

Deadly E. coli outbreak hits 20 states

By ANDREW BRIDGES, Associated Press Writer 5 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Even if you wash the spinach, you still could be at risk. Sober warnings for salad lovers came from federal health officials Friday as they struggled to pinpoint a multistate
E. coli outbreak that killed one person and sickened nearly 100 more.

Bagged spinach — the triple-washed, cello-packed kind sold by the hundreds of millions of pounds each year — is the suspected source of the bacterial outbreak,
Food and Drug Administration officials said.

The FDA warned people nationwide not to eat the spinach. Washing won't get rid of the tenacious bug, though thorough cooking can kill it. Supermarkets across the country pulled spinach from shelves, and consumers tossed out the leafy green.

"We're waiting for the all-clear. In the meantime, Popeye the Sailor Man and this family will not be eating bagged spinach," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University. The Tennessee university's medical center was treating a 17-year-old Kentucky girl for E. coli infection.

By Friday, the outbreak had grown to include at least 20 states: California, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wisconsin accounted for 29 illnesses, about one-third of the cases, including the lone death.

How much food does California export to other states?
Initial suspicions focused on California's Monterey County. Farmers there grow more than half the nation's 500 million-pound spinach crop, according to the Agriculture Department.

Imagine how much oil is used in transporting food out, and bringing nutrients, etc. in. Unbelievable... 50% of spanich. Would other statistics about food production shock as well?

Oriana Fallaci, RIP

Italian reporter Oriana Fallaci, seen here in 1992, who in recent years became better known for her diatribes against Islam than for her long record as a war correspondent, died overnight after a long illness.(AFP/File/Angelo Pistoia)

A file photo of Italian veteran journalist and writer Oriana Fallaci taken in Los Angeles on April 4, 1977. (AFP/File/Angelo Pistoia)

An Oct. 3, 1968 file photo of Italian veteran journalist and writer Oriana Fallaci, left, pictured in Mexico City. Fallaci, a former war correspondent best known for her uncompromising interviews and provocative stances, has died in a Florence, Italy, hospital, Friday, Sept. 15, 2006. She was 76. (AP Photo)

Oct. 15, 1968 (AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

Combative writer Oriana Fallaci dies

By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 4 minutes ago

ROME - Oriana Fallaci, the Italian writer and journalist best known for her abrasive interviews and provocative stances, has died, officials said Friday. She was 76.

Fallaci, who had been diagnosed with cancer years ago, died overnight in a private clinic in Florence, said Paolo Klun, an official with the RCS publishing group, which carried Fallaci's work. Klun said Fallaci, who lived in New York, had come back to her hometown days ago as her condition worsened.

Fallaci, a former Resistance fighter and war correspondent, was rarely seen in public.

During her journalistic career she became known for challenging interviews with such world leaders as former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Her work — both interviews and books — was translated across the world.

"Fallaci's manner of interviewing was deliberately unsettling: she approached each encounter with studied aggressiveness, made frequent nods to European existentialism (she often disarmed her subjects with bald questions about death, God, and pity), and displayed a sinuous, crafty intelligence," The New Yorker wrote in a profile this year entitled "The Agitator."

Fallaci's recent publications — including the best-selling book "The Rage and The Pride," which came out weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks — drew accusations of racism and inciting hatred against Muslims.

"The Rage and The Pride," sold more than 1 million copies in Italy and found a large audience elsewhere in Europe. But Fallaci was also accused of racism.

In the book, she wrote that Muslims "multiply like rats" and said "the children of Allah spend their time with their bottoms in the air, praying five times a day."

A group in France unsuccessfully sought to stop distribution of the book, while two other associations have requested that it carry a warning notice.

Her next essay, "The Strength of Reason," accused Europe of having sold its soul to what Fallaci described as an Islamic invasion. It also took the Catholic Church to task for being what she considers too weak before the Muslim world.

Describing Europe as "Eurabia," Fallaci said the continent "has sold itself and sells itself to the enemy like a prostitute."

"Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam," she wrote.

The current invasion, Fallaci went on to say, is not carried out only by the "terrorists who blow up themselves along with skyscrapers or buses" but also by "the immigrants who settle in our home, and who, with no respect for our laws, impose their ideas, their customs, their God."

She was not married and had no children. Information on funeral arrangements was not immediately available.
her website
"The Rage, the Pride and the Doubt"
"A Sermon for the West"
The Rage and the Pride
Lorenzo Vidino, "Forceful Reason"
The Fallaci Code

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The feast for the Latin rite was yesterday. (The Byzantine-rite Orthodox feast day is also on September 14.) Apparently the Latin feast commemorates the recovery of that part of the Holy Cross that had been in Jerusalem but was stolen by the Persians, while the Byzantine feast commemorates the discovery of the Holy Cross by St. Helen.

More information on the feast(s)
On Heraclius I of Constantinople winning back the part of the Holy Cross
Women for Faith and Family page for the feast
Catholic Encyclopedia on the True Cross

Icons of the Byzantine Feast


Monasteries and churches named after the feast
Exaltation of the Holy Cross Monastery website
Hermitage of the Exaltation of the Cross (depedency of Holy Trinity in Jordanville)
Holy Cross Hermitage (ROCA)
The Monks of New Skete
The Monastery Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Orthodox church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Catholic church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Cathedral of the Cross Exltation

Saint Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery
Saint George Cathedral, Greenville iconostasis

Byzantine chant

China and Koguryo

The legacy of long-gone states

By Andrei Lankov

When South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last Sunday, what did they talk about? The likelihood of a North Korean nuclear test that might trigger a nuclear-arms race in East Asia? Or perhaps the tremendous growth of bilateral trade that has made China the most important trade partner of Seoul?

Logical assumptions, but wrong. As the official press release revealed, the two leaders spent a large part of their meeting talking about ancient history, in the most literal sense of the word. President Roh expressed his dissatisfaction about some
conclusions of Chinese archeological teams and publications of a provincial research center dealing with events 2,000 years old.

This interest in bygone eras is understandable, since a new round of the "history war" between Korea and China erupted early this month. Its participants are deadly serious and very emotional, but for an outsider this struggle appears bizarre. After all, the major objects of the rivalry are the long-extinct kingdoms of Koguryo and Parhae, which existed in the 1st millennium AD in what are now China's northeast and North Korea.

One should not be too surprised about such an excessively political approach to the events of the ancient history. Since times immemorial, East Asian history has never ceased to be interpreted, rewritten and distorted to serve better the agendas of the day. In more recent times, the intense state-centered nationalism so dominant in both China and Korea made history even more important politically.

Well, and what is Koguryo (these days also frequently spelled Goguryo), after all? In the first centuries AD several rival kingdoms fought for domination on the Korean Peninsula and adjacent parts of China: Koguryo, Silla and Paekje were the most powerful among contenders. The kingdom of Silla eventually won, unifying the southern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula under its rule in the late 7th century.

Koguryo lost and ceased to exist. However, another kingdom called Parhae (Bohai or Balhae) rose to dominate a large part of the former Koguryo area. The Parhae population included a number of former Koguryo subjects. This kingdom also collapsed in the 10th century, with its northern parts being incorporated into Korea, by that time ruled by a new Koryo dynasty.

In North Korea, the scholar-officials went one step further, since they cannot stand the fact that Korea was once unified by a southern kingdom. They extol virtues of Koguryo in all possible ways, of course, and also insist that Silla's unification of the 7th century was not a real one, since the new state did not control all of Korea. Hence the real unity was established only in the 10th century, largely thanks to the proud descendants of the great Koguryo.

The rationale behind this interpretation is easy to understand, since the borders of Silla are roughly similar to those of present-day South Korea, while Koguryo controlled what is now the realm of the Kim dynasty. This is a retro-projection of the present-day struggle between the North and South, with each participant being firmly associated with some long-extinct state.

However, the entire dispute represents the same case of retro-projection of modern identities. The real-life Korguryoans would be seriously surprised or even offended had they learned that in future they would be perceived as members of the same community as their bitter enemies from Silla. Describing Koguryo as "Chinese" or "Korean" is as misleading as, say, describing medieval Brittany as "French" or "English" or "Irish" (even though all three modern nations have something to do with the long-extinct Celtic duchy in what is now France).

Europeans loved such things before World War I, in the days when the textbooks told about "our ancestors the Gauls". In East Asia, such historical nationalism is still a powerful instrument of politics and a source of deep and explosive emotions.

An additional twist is added by the little-known fact that the few surviving Koguryo words seemingly demonstrate that its inhabitants did not speak a language ancestral to modern Korean. The language of Silla was proto-Korean indeed, but the known Koguryo words have close analogues in early Japanese, of all languages. It is not incidental that the only research book on the Koguryo language is called Koguryo: The Language of Japan's Continental Relatives (by Christopher I Beckwith, published in 2004). Not all linguists would agree with this opinion, but it is shared by the majority and still never mentioned by participants of the discussion.

The first round of the confrontation began in 2002 when the Chinese government initiated a generously funded Northeast History Project, ostensibly aimed at restoring the cultural and historic heritage of China's northeast (obviously, with the additional benefit of strengthening the association between China proper and this region, which until the 17th century experienced Chinese control only occasionally). Soon afterward, in 2004, the Koreans discovered that both Koguryo and its quasi-successor state of Parhae are presented in the new Chinese-language books as parts of China, as "minority states" that existed within the supposedly single Chinese nation. Statements to this effect even appeared on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website.

A major diplomatic outburst followed, and the South Korean diplomats demanded explanations. The official Chinese line was that the position of the Northeast History Project had nothing to do with state policy - a statement that would bring smiles to all people with even passing knowledge of how Chinese history is written. Finally, in August 2004, the sides reached an agreement: the bureaucracies promised to refrain from waging "history wars", leaving arguments to the historians.

For the next couple of years things appeared quite calm. However, the issue was not forgotten: the Chinese began to promote tourism to the Koguryo sites and also included Paektusan, or Baekdu Mountain (Chinese: Changbaishan), considered a sacred symbol by the Korean nationalists, on the list of the "famous mountains of China", a simple gesture that greatly boosted Chinese tourism in the disputed areas. Now it is applying to the United Nations to register the mountain, which is divided in half by the border, as a "historic site".

Koreans answered with the array of projects aimed at presenting Koguryo as a glorious and inseparable part of Korean history and appropriating it once and for all. A special foundation was created to disseminate money among those domestic and foreign scholars who would promote "historically correct" views of the ancient kingdom (it is needless to say which views should be seen as "historically correct"). A number of television history dramas were shot to bring the heroes of Koguryo into every Korean's living room. The Chinese retaliated by preventing the Seoul producers from shooting these serials in China, thus depriving them of cheap sets and props.

However, the truce did not hold, and the past few weeks have been marked by new battles of the "history war". This time, the crisis began when the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in essence a government agency, issued a collection of 18 research papers dealing with the various issues of regional history. Some of the claims they make are probably well founded (even though they are not necessarily to the liking of the Korean nationalist historians) while many others are clearly new attempts at manipulating the distant past to serve some current political interests of the Chinese state.

Among the latter one should mention that the collapse of Koguryo in AD 668 under the joint attack of the Chinese Tang and Silla forces is described in the new Chinese publications as "a unification war in which Tang conquered Koguryo". The early kingdom of Choson was again presented as "the beginning of China's northeast history on the Korean Peninsula". There were also claims about the borders of many Chinese states that allegedly went into Korean territory.

General outrage followed. Noisy demonstrations gathered in front of the Chinese Embassy and some ultra-nationalists even bit, chewed and then burned a Chinese flag in front of the cameras. President Roh decided he'd rather talk ancient history than North Korean nukes during the recent summit with the Chinese chief executive, and Korean newspapers of all persuasions ran very critical articles on the Chinese positions.

And what are the reasons behind such persistence of Chinese historians (or rather officials whose instructions scholars follow)? Of course, one dimension is easy to see: after all, Chinese historians write abut Koguryo in exactly the same way they write about all other states that once existed in what is now the People's Republic of China. Their basic principle is simple: irrespective of race, culture and ethnicity, all states that ever existed within the current PRC borders are parts of China, period.

According to the official line, China has always been one nation. Even though China might have included a number of the non-Chinese ethnic groups, these "minorities" were nonetheless happy participants of one great Chinese commonwealth. These statements have nothing to do with real history, but in China history has long been the handmaiden of politics. This line is clearly directed against the ever-present threat of local nationalism, separatism and irredentism.

However, one cannot help but ask why the claims in regard to Koguryo came to be advanced only in the past few years. There is no doubt that both the earlier "history war" and its current round were results of deliberate Chinese provocation. What prompted such a policy now, in the early 21st century? After all, such statements were bound to provoke outrage in Seoul, and this move is especially strange when the general perception of the Chinese in South Korea is quite benign. Unlike the increasingly unpopular Americans, the Chinese are not seen as a threat and irritant - unless there is a clash over ancient history, that is. The Chinese seem to have shot themselves in to the foot without any apparent reason.

The most likely explanation is that China is considering some action in North Korea. The Koguryo southern border roughly matched the present-day boundary between the prosperous South and impoverished North. Over the past few years the Chinese have done much to increase their economic presence in North Korea. It seems that the collapse of North Korea is not something the Chinese would be happy about. The growing likelihood of an emergence of a unified and democratic, perhaps pro-US Korea just across the border from China is not particularly good news for Beijing strategists.

Hence Beijing seems to be preparing some contingency plans for a major domestic crisis in North Korea. These plans might include an installation of a pro-Chinese puppet regime in Pyongyang and perhaps will require involvement of Chinese civilian and even military personnel (ostensibly on a humanitarian mission, as distributors of aid and maintainers of order, actually as supporters of a future post-Kim regime). Such actions will require psychological and cultural justifications, not least within China itself. Thus presenting what is now North Korea as an "ancient" and "integral" part of China might serve such interests very well.

It is not incidental that the current "history offensive" began around 2003, more or less simultaneously with the sudden increase in the Chinese activity in North Korea.

Another issue that might have prompted Beijing scholar-officials to revisit issues nearly 15 centuries old is the territorial claims of the South Koreans. Since long ago, the more radical Korean nationalist historians have paid much attention to the "Manchurian question", insisting that the vast lands of China's northeast, which once were realms of the Koguryo rulers, should be returned to the "lawful owner" - that is, to the present-day Korean state.

The Manchurian claims are strictly non-official, but this cannot be said about the claims for Kando.

Kando is a large part of what is now known as Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture, near the point where the borders of Russia, China and North Korea meet. This area has a large population of ethnic Koreans, who overwhelmingly are Chinese citizens and descendants of the settlers who moved to the area in relatively recent times, after the 1880s. In the early 1900s, the somewhat uncertain legal standing of Kando made it into the object of a low-profile territorial dispute between China and Korea (though in those days, both governments had more urgent things to worry about than the fate of a small piece of real estate somewhere in the distant corners of their domains). In 1909, the Japanese, acting "on behalf" of the Koreans, agreed to complete Chinese sovereignty over the area.

In recent years it became clear that a large number of Koreans were demanding the revision of the 1909 treaty. Unlike the claims about Korean sovereignty over all of Manchuria, these Kando claims have some official backing. In late 2004, when the first round of the "history war" reached its height, a group of 59 South Korean lawmakers even introduced a bill that declared the 1909 Sino-Japanese treaty "null and void" and demanded recognition of Korean territorial rights over Kando. In all probability this was done to counter the Chinese claims over Korguryo, but true to the normal logic of an "argument" between the nationalists, the Chinese might be inclined to answer this bold (and quasi-official) statement with even an bolder one.

It does not help that the claimed territory already has a large Korean presence, with ethnic Koreans constituting about a third of all Kando residents. At this stage it seems that their loyalties overwhelmingly remain with Beijing, but the Korean activity in the area is unnerving for Chinese policy planners. Hence preemptive claims might be seen as a way to confirm Chinese supremacy in the area as well as to remind the local Koreans about the alleged "eternal multiculturalism" of the Chinese state.

However, this policy might backfire, and Beijing planners probably know it. Over the past 15 years the periodic outbursts of nationalist wrath in South Korea were aimed at either the Japanese or the Americans, while a surprising amount of goodwill (not to say naivety) existed toward China. If Koreans were talking about "aggressive designs", these were invariably designs of Washington and Tokyo. The recent events attract attention to the gradual Chinese encroachment and will damage the present rosy perception of China. Anyway, by some accounts the decision-makers in Beijing have decided that these risks are worth taking.

In a recent commentary, the influential South Korean daily Donga Ilbo wrote: "The [South Korean] academic circle is urging the government to respond more aggressively, saying that the best defense is a good offense. That means Korea should work on not just defending its history of the Kingdoms of Gojoseon, Buyeo, Goguryeo and Balhae but expanding its historic spectrum to include the history of Yelu, Khitan and Mongol tribes."

It sounds interesting; "the best defense if offense" and "expanding" Korean history to include Mongolia. It seems that for quite a long time impartial observers will be treated to increasingly improbable claims by both sides. These attempts to appropriate long-gone states and tribes might appear weirdly amusing, but the passions behind these claims are, alas, only too real and potentially dangerous for all participants.

Dr Andrei Lankov is a lecturer in the faculty of Asian Studies, China and Korea Center, Australian National University. He graduated from Leningrad State University with a PhD in Far Eastern history and China, with emphasis on Korea, and his thesis focused on factionalism in the Yi Dynasty. He has published books and articles on Korea and North Asia. He is currently on leave, teaching at Kookmin University, Seoul.

In search of the Taliban's missing link

In search of the Taliban's missing link
Significantly, the Taliban are now drawing increasing support from the Afghan population. These additional numbers have allowed them for the first time to conduct their own large-scale search operations against NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) troops in the south.

As a result, NATO this week requested additional troops, with no success. The alliance, which took command of military operations in southern Afghanistan on July 31, had wanted 2,000 extra soldiers to reinforce the 19,000-strong International Security Assistance Force.

Throwing more troops into a conventional battle (artillery and air strikes especially) might not be the best way to go as long as there remains a basic lack of understanding of where the enemy's command center is and how the mujahideen receive orders. What is known is that among the rank and file of the mujahideen there is a strong system of communication, with instructions flowing freely and quickly.

And despite claims by coalition forces to the contrary, the Taliban are not obsessed with taking control of provinces or districts. They abandoned that tactic at the end of July, and a lull in fighting followed.

Since then, the new policy has been that the local population join in the fight against NATO, especially hunting down its convoys.

What is worth noting is that what is happening in Afghanistan has happened before, against the British many years ago and against the Soviets more recently. This latest battle against a foreign invader is being fought as a classic Afghan war, although the sequence of events is somewhat different.

In the past, resistance leaders migrated to neighboring states early in the campaign. This time it is happening much later. Previously, command councils were formed at the end, and the mass mutiny started earlier. This time it is the other way around.

Of one thing the Taliban are convinced, blindly some might say: Afghan tradition dictates that foreign forces will be resisted to the last. Further, the Taliban believe that by the end of the spring offensive, Mullah Omar will again declare himself head of the Islamic Emirate of Taliban for a final battle against the foreigners.
Coaxing the unwilling

3 from War and Beauty

Info I left at soompi

Thread: Peak oil and natural resources

Thread: On community
JHK, Big and Blue in the USA
Wendell Berry, In Distrust of Movements
Wendell Berry, Rules for a Local Economy
Peter Augustine Lawler, The Caregiving Society
Wendell Berry, Compromise, Hell!
JHK, Hating Suburbia
Suburbia Project
E.F. Schumacher, An Appreciation
Daniel Callahan, Conservatives, Liberals, and Medical Progress
Julian Darley and the Relocalization Movement
Who cares? The crisis facing an ageing society
Toby Hemenway, Cities, peak oil, and sustainability
The Future of Sprawl: An Interview with Dr. Richard Harris
Goodbye, Suburbs
Aubrey Streit, In Appreciation of Small Towns
Continuity of Family for Sustainable Culture
Slum Ecology
Wendell Berry, Feminism, the Body, and the Machine
Martin van Creveld, The Fate of the State
Envisioning a hamlet economy
Kara Hopkins, Room of Her Own
JHK interview
How Venice is Dying
The Greenmarket Effect interview with Wendell Berry
Peak Oil and Community Food Security
E. F. Schumacher, No Future for Megapolis

Thread: The global financial and currency markets
The real problems with $50 oil

Thread: Regaining economic freedom
Wendell Berry, Renewing Husbandry
Urban vs. rural sustainability
E. F. Schumacher, Buddhist Economics
Lowell Monke, Charlotte's Webpage
Take Back Your Time
E. F. Schumacher, Technology with a Human Face
Are you a wage slave?
Wes Jackson, Economics and Self-Sufficiency
Dearm Farm II
Wendell Berry interview
Christine Rosen, Are we worthy of our kitchens?
Wendell Berry, The idea of a local economy

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Taize issues statement on Brother Roger

There has been some controvery as to whether Brother Roger became Catholic and if his reception of Holy Communion was right or not. (See, for example, the discussion over at the Cornell Society for a Good Time.) The Community of Taizé issued the following statement (available via Zenit):

Brother Roger: Full Communion, Not Conversion

Statement From Taizé Community

TAIZÉ, France, SEPT. 14, 2006 ( Here is a press statement issued by the ecumenical Community of Taizé, following news in the press of an alleged conversion to Catholicism by Brother Roger, founder of the group. Brother Roger, 90, died after an assailant's attack in August 2005.

* * *

In an article concerning Brother Roger, the French daily Le Monde of Sept. 6, 2006, gave credence to and reproduced the claims of a small newsletter issued by Catholic traditionalist circles that misrepresents his true intentions and defames his memory.

A document of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity in Rome is used to support the thesis of a "conversion" undertaken by Brother Roger, although the text says nothing of the kind. As for the bishop emeritus of Autun, Raymond Seguy, he has already qualified his words. Rejecting the term "conversion," he declared to France Presse: "I did not say that Brother Roger abjured Protestantism, but he showed that he subscribed fully to the Catholic faith."

From a Protestant background, Brother Roger undertook a step that was without precedent since the Reformation: entering progressively into a full communion with the faith of the Catholic Church without a "conversion" that would imply a break with his origins. In 1972, the bishop of Autun at the time, Armand Le Bourgeois, simply gave him Communion for the first time, without requiring any other profession of faith from him besides the creed recited during the Eucharist, which is held in common by all Christians. Several witnesses were present and can attest to this.

Whoever speaks of "conversion" in this respect has not grasped the originality of Brother Roger's search.

There was never anything hidden about this undertaking of Brother Roger's. In 1980, during a European meeting in Rome, he spoke these words publicly in St. Peter's Basilica, in the presence of Pope John Paul II: "I have found my own identity as a Christian by reconciling within myself the faith of my origins with the mystery of the Catholic faith, without breaking fellowship with anyone."

Brother Roger's step was not understood by all but it was welcomed by many: by Pope John Paul II, by Catholic bishops and theologians who celebrated the Eucharist in Taizé, as well as by Protestant and Orthodox Church leaders with whom Brother Roger patiently built up trust in the course of many years.

Those who at all costs want the Christian denominations each to find their own identity in opposition to the others can naturally not grasp Brother Roger's aims. He was a man of communion, and that is perhaps the most difficult thing for some people to understand.

September 6, 2006

Taizé Community

Ensemble Plus Ultra

I picked up their Morales en Toledo cd--the group specializes in Spanish liturgical music.

Comprising ‘a crack squad of the finest British early music singers’ (Stephen Rice writing in Early Music Today), the group is distinguished from other early music ensembles by its innovative performances of unearthed treasures and reconstructions of important musical and liturgical events.
Explanation of their name. Gallery.

With the first track, "Asperges me," it is very obvious that women are singing, and not boys--well it probably seems obvious because the piece starts off with the lines in that voice range. They seem to be proficient, and Morales is a master of polyphony, right? They are a relatively young group, and have only a few recordings out, but they are planning on releasing a couple this year.

Ensemble Plus Ultra official site
artist page for Michael Noone; his page at the Plus Ultra website

Western dreams come true for Brosnan, Neeson

Western dreams come true for Brosnan, Neeson
Thursday September 14 9:27 PM ET

Like many boys of their generation, actors Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson loved to play "cowboys and Indians" and watch western movies at the weekend matinee.

So it was a dream come true for both Irishmen to co-star in "Seraphim Falls," a western epic about revenge and forgiveness set in the 1860s, shortly after U.S. Civil War.

"When Pierce and I first got our costumes on, on horseback ... the pair of us were just giggling like schoolboys," Neeson said on Thursday, the morning after "Seraphim Falls" had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this week.

In the movie, Neeson's character, a former Confederate colonel chases Brosnan, a former Union army captain, from the Rocky Mountains to the desert to carry out his last mission: revenge for an atrocity.

"It was like realizing a childhood dream, I mean that genuinely. I was steeped in the western genre as a kid. Playtime was always westerns: Audie Murphy westerns, all those B-movie westerns, and then graduated to John Ford films," Neeson said.

"Seraphim Falls" was shot on a brisk schedule of 48 days in what the stars describe as treacherous terrain in the Western U.S. In the first 20 minutes or so of the movie, Brosnan is shot, tumbles down a snowy mountainside into a river, and over a waterfall. The pursuit eventually continues into the desert.

The film has very little dialogue and the two stars only filmed together in the same scenes for about five or six days. Brosnan spends most of the film by himself, trying to get away from his pursuer, while battling to survive nature's wrath ahead.

The film also co-stars Anjelica Huston and Angie Harmon.


For Brosnan, who plays the ex-Union captain, the Civil War-themed western brought up interesting parallels with the two actors' Irish roots.

"Liam's from the north and I'm from the south," said Brosnan, best known for his role as secret agent James Bond, and who was nominated for a Golden Globe for last year's role in "The Matador."

"That period (of U.S. history) was build on the backs of many an Irish man and woman. There were huge Irish regiments in the Civil War," said Brosnan.

While Brosnan moved to London at age 11, Neeson said growing up with civil unrest in Northern Ireland is also what partly attracted him to be part of a western film about forgiveness.

"I'm living in America now, the country's at war -- with everybody it seems," said Neeson.

"Everybody in the world wants their little plot of ground and have the freedom raise their families, that's what we all want, whether you're Palestinian, Jew, Irish, Yugoslav, whatever," he said.

"I'm aware of the responsibility we all have.... of how important it is to forgive and get on with life. I know that sounds very hippy-ish, but I believe it," said Neeson.

"Seraphim" marks the first feature for director David Von Ancken, who's best known for his television work. It opens in U.S. theaters on December 1.

"It wasn't so much that I was looking for Irishmen to star as mid-19th century Americans," said Von Ancken.

"These guys are some of the more 'behavioral' actors out there. Liam's roles have consistently been of the earth, these empathetic men who he can convey an enormous amount without saying anything. The same goes for Pierce. There's something in his eyes that is haunted and concentrated," he said.

"Every actor as a man probably at some level wants to do a western maybe once."


Old Guardian UK article on Msgr Ganswein

First, some photos:

Pope Benedict XVI (L) waves as his personal secretary Georg Gaenswein (R) and bishop Bruno Forte (R) look on at the Saint Veil monastery after praying in front of the 'Veronica's Veil' in Manoppello, central Italy, September 1, 2006. REUTERS/Gregorio Borgia/Pool (ITALY)

Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful as his secretary Georg Gaenswein, 2nd from right, smiles in front of the Old Chapell in Regensburg, southern Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006. German-born Pope Benedict XVI pays a six-day visit to his native homeland Bavaria from Sept. 9 to Sept. 14, 2006. (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)

Pope Benedict XVI sprinkles holy water as he blesses the new organ in the Alte Kapelle (Old Chapel) in Regensburg, Wednesday Sept. 13, 2006, while his private secretary Georg Genswein, left, looks on. The pontiff is on a six-day visit to his native Bavaria region of Germany. (AP Photo/Wolfgang Radtke, Pool)

In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano Pope Benedict XVI is followed by his brother Rev. Georg Ratzinger as his personal aide Rev. Georg Gaenswein stands at left after the pontiff visited his brother's home in Pentling just out of Regensburg, southern Germany, Wednesday Sept. 13, 2006. The pontiff is on a six-day visit to his native Bavaria region of Germany. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)

website for Alte Kapelle.

Thou shalt not drool

Georg Gänswein is the poster boy of Catholic conservatism. The Italian press compares him to George Clooney and Hugh Grant; his critics describe him as the 'Black Forest Adonis'. But how did he end up as the new Pope's right-hand man? And is he the right person for the job? By Luke Harding and Barbara McMahon

Tuesday August 23, 2005
The Guardian

As Benedict XVI trundled through the narrow streets of Cologne last week, many of his admirers found themselves distracted by the extravagantly handsome man sitting in the back of the Popemobile. The thousands of adoring young Catholics had come to Germany to get a glimpse of the new Pope, visiting his native country on his first trip abroad as pontiff. But they couldn't help noticing the Pope's new - and rather dishy - private secretary, Monsignor Georg Gänswein.

"As he jumped on to the Popemobile for the first time," one German magazine remarked, "we women held our breath. There, where for the past 27 years the grim and pale Stanislaw Dziwisz had sat behind the Pope, a tall, blond, athletic young man had taken his place."

Over the past four months, the Italian press has also swooned over the 49-year-old German priest, who is known in Italy as Don Georgio. In the grey and elderly world of the Vatican, it is hardly surprising that Gänswein - a keen tennis player and excellent skier who even has a pilot's licence - has become the centre of attention. Last month, the Italian edition of Vanity Fair compared Gänswein to the actor George Clooney, while the magazine Chi opened that he was "as fascinating as Hugh Grant".

The Italian president's wife Franca was very taken with him when she first met him. "He's very, very young. And he speaks excellent Italian," she was reported as saying. Another woman living close to the Vatican recently told Germany's ARD TV that Gänswein was "an interesting man with a deep gaze", adding: "Shame that he is taboo for us women."

Some Vatican-watchers, however, are already muttering about Gänswein's influence over Pope Benedict, the first German to sit on the chair of St Peter for nearly 500 years.

Born on July 30 1956, Gänswein grew up in Riedern am Wald, a tiny Bavarian village. He was ordained in 1984 and is a doctor of canon law from Munich University. He came to Rome in 1995 and was quickly on the Vatican fast track. In 1996, the then Cardinal Ratzinger asked him to join his staff, and he became a professor of canon law at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, an institution affiliated to the secretive Catholic movement Opus Dei.

Those who know him praise his efficiency and analytical ability. "He understands complicated issues within about 10 seconds and can give a clear and immediate answer," one Vatican source said. Gänswein is, though, more than just an impressive theologian. He is, like the man he serves, extremely conservative. "I think he is very dangerous," Daniel Deckers, the author of a biography of Germany's leading liberal cardinal, Karl Lehmann, said. "He's part of a small but very powerful group within the Catholic church. He will use his power to push Ratzinger in a certain direction."

Deckers recalls travelling to Rome to meet Gänswein. "He's a good guy. He's very eloquent and can be very charming. But he came right up to me and said: 'Oh, you don't like us.' He referred to himself and Ratzinger as 'us', as if the two of them were an institution."

With Gänswein as private secretary, there seems little hope that Benedict XVI will offer concessions on issues that alienate many from the Catholic church - the use of condoms, gay relationships or pre-marital sex. "You can forget it," one religious affairs writer said bluntly.

A trusted confidant of the last Pope, who made him a chaplain in 2000, Gänswein has worked as Ratzinger's secretary since 2003, and was one of the few aides allowed to give out press statements on John Paul's condition. In the Vatican, Gänswein and Ratzinger dine together, recently entertaining Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, the German socialite, according to reports in the Italian press. In Cologne last week, Gänswein was never far away from his boss - handing the 78-year-old Pope his reading glasses, or travelling with him on a cruise down the Rhine. He was there, too, when the Pope appeared on a hill beneath a flying saucer-shaped dome, for a vast open-air mass. (In his address to nearly 1 million pilgrims who had spent the night camped out in a muddy field, the Pope reminded the young Catholics that they had to obey all of the church's rules - not just the bits they liked. "That basically means no sex, doesn't it?" German pilgrim Malte Schuburt, 19, pointed out.)

Gänswein's critics even accuse him of turning the Pope into a fashion victim. This summer, Ratzinger and his secretary went on holiday to the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, as well as to the Italian Alps at Valle D'Aosta. While both men were hiking in the hills, the Pope appeared in public wearing a Nike hat, designer Serengeti sunglasses and a Cartier watch. "This is Gänswein's style. It's his handwriting," one religious affairs writer said. "This is something I don't understand."

Gänswein's power derives partly from his place in the Pope's very small personal staff. Benedict's long-time assistant is Ingrid Stampa and he has four women - Carmela, Loredana, Emanuela and Cristina - who do domestic duties. They have taken nun's vows but do not wear habits. Pope Benedict writes everything in German in very small script, and Gänswein is one of the few who can read his writing.

So far, Gänswein does not enjoy the same power as Stanislaw Dziwisz, who spent 40 years at Pope John Paul II's side. Some have even dismissed him as the "Black Forest Adonis". Yet it is Gänswein who decides who gets to see the Pope, and who doesn't. He also protects his boss from the mound of papers on Benedict's desk. "He is the Pope's gatekeeper. This makes him a very powerful man," Deckers said.

It is not surprising, then, that the Pope's private secretary is already beginning to inspire dread in liberal Catholic circles. In Germany, the Catholic church is divided more or less between two figures - the liberal-conservative Cardinal Lehmann, the head of the German archbishop's conference, and the ultra-conservative Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the Archbishop of Cologne. Both men were with the Pope last week. But it is no secret as to which Bishop the Vatican favours. "Gänswein is an opponent of Lehmann," one source in the German Catholic church said. "One of Ratzinger's great weaknesses is that his judgment of people isn't always sufficient. He has a small out-reach."

Last week's papal tour of Germany was an undoubted success for the Bavarian Benedict. A far less flamboyant figure than his predecessor, Benedict was often embarrassed by the euphoric crowds. But he is a formidable intellectual, able to deliver his ideas with fluency and rigour in numerous languages. The question remains though - how long will he last? The Pope has already suffered two strokes - one of which slightly impaired his eyesight - and he has a heart condition. Don Georgio is said to be very protective of the Pope, particularly about his health. But if there is bad news to transmit, it will be Gänswein, the priest with the film-star looks, who will be there to deliver it.

German men

For the Lady Downstairs... hahaha

SPIEGEL ONLINE - May 31, 2006, 04:31 PM
German Men
Hunky, Handsome, Wimpy and Weak

At first glance, the blond six-foot hunks populating Germany make the place seem like a heaven for women. Until you start dating. German men are much more difficult than you might think.

German men may seem almost perfect. But there's always something that just ain't quite right.

For single women visitors, the dating game in Germany can at first seem like a free, gourmet buffet. The men are almost all impressively tall, many are blond and, almost invariably, they are extremely handsome with the bodies of Adonis. Even better, they dress well, smell of expensive eau de Cologne, and they're intelligent.

Indeed, the first impression is so overwhelming that it almost always leads directly to the first German dating no-no: Expecting that going to a party full of such hunks will yield a catch. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. German males are not only fine physical specimens, but they're also weak, wimpy, afraid of commitment, and painfully shy. It is perfectly possible for an attractive woman -- who in most countries wouldn't have a second to powder her nose from so much flirting -- to stand in the corner alone at a German party and not be approached a single time. Bottom line: If you want a relationship with a German dude, be prepared to do the heavy lifting yourself.

But before you enter the minefield that is German-men-dating, be sure you know what's awaiting you. The Survival Bible has put together a guide to some common Teutonic types. Our advice: Be careful out there -- there is always a catch.


Daddy was the Kaiser's favorite nephew. Mummy was a society beauty. It's just a shame Germany got rid of their royals in 1918. Welcome to the lost world of Germany's redundant aristos. They've got no job, no real place in Germany's social democracy but they're clinging on to their traditional status for dear life. The aristos didn't get anywhere in life by changing their ways, now, did they?

Distinguishing marks: On paper, the little "von" or "zu" -- or even more absurdly, both -- tagged onto his last name is a dead giveaway you've met a man of Teutonic Sang Real. Aristo German Male style almost always includes a Thomas Pink shirt, designer jeans and tweed jacket. Keep an eye out for a tendency to shop at "Frankonia Jagd" or similar huntin'-shootin'-fishin' establishments. He may have an ability to speak boarding school English with a fake Eton accent. While many German men are often six feet tall and blond, Aristos are always six feet tall and blond.

Habitat: Weekend hunting parties hosted by random Barons; posh Berlin hotels that serve "Five-O-Clock Tea", Vienna's Opera Ball, Wimbledon, Ascot, Martha's Vineyard etc. Should they be inclined to work, they can likewise be found in the management of Germany's leading media outlets.

Favorite Activities: Sailing. Mercedes shopping. Reminiscing about his time at English boarding school.

The Pros: If you're English and homesick, Aristo German Male will happily indulge your need to take lots of holidays back to the homeland.

The Catch: Aristo man probably has a vast Schloss somewhere on the Rhine, a place so beautiful you start fantasizing about updating it with expensive Italian furniture. Aristo German Male may even initially encourage your fantasies. But don't be fooled. Aristo German Male doesn't do change. Once he gets you home, all the 'I-want-to-be-English-just-like-you-my-sweetness' business will swiftly come to a screeching halt. You will be forced to eat Leberwurst, meet his 100-year-old granny and walk the family gun dogs -- who, sensing that you're not really posh, will bite you. You will be stranded in a dusty Hell, furnished in Biedermeier kitsch. And when you resist your transition into the Teutonic Upper Class, Aristo German Male will dump you for an Aristo German Female with higher cheekbones.


Help us write the Germany Survival Bible

SPIEGEL ONLINE is putting together a cheat sheet for visitors to this summer's World Cup soccer championships to help them better understand the quirky Germans and their sometimes peculiar ways. If you're an expat or someone who has spent time in Germany, we want your help. Please send your stories and questions to or post your anecdotes on our Germany Survival Bible forum.

Please include your name and your city and country of residence.
"I never, ever got involved in sport," said Winston Churchill wisely. Not so, Sporty German Male. Oh no, he loves it. Running around Hamburg's Alster when you fancy going shoe shopping, or forcing you to go Nordic Walking on a Sunday morning when you'd still rather be under your duvet stuffing yourself with scrambled eggs, Sporty German Male laughs in the face of blubber, Wiener Schnitzel and chips.

My one brief encounter with Sporty German Male included a doomed mini-break to Mallorca. Stretched out by the swimming pool in my bikini, I asked: "Do I look fat in this?" Sporty German Male looked confused. "Of course not, Liebling," he said. "If you were fat, my sweetness, you would not be here!"

Distinguishing marks: Adonis-like hairless, perma-tanned body. Over-use of gel in dyed hair with mussed bed-head being particular popular at the moment. Check his wardrobe for pedometers, clothing with Adidas or Puma labels and Nordic Walking Sticks. Should he be into bicycles, note the full-body, neon cycling uniform he dons whenever going out for a spin.

Habitat: The Gym. The Great Outdoors. Sushi bars. Sports stores.

Favorite Activities: Marathons, hill running, admiring himself in a mirror, making tofu stir-fry.

The Pros: Sporty German Males enjoy robust health and look like a 30-something whipper-snappers when they're really 56. He will also invite you on Kur (Health Spa) "holidays" at least four times a year.

The Catch: German Health Spa "holidays" involve getting up early, drinking vile-tasting water and doing aqua aerobics. You will also have to give up chips, full-fat dairy products and red meat for as long as you go out with Sporty German Male.

If you really want to go out with one: Lose weight and get used to Saturday nights drinking orange juice.


Usually in his mid-to-late twenties, the needy German male has generally just been dumped by his first girlfriend with whom he had been together since he hit puberty. He's lost. Then he realizes the solution: He needs a replacement girlfriend. Fast.

Distinguishing marks: Dressed by his mother. Has a facial expression not dissimilar to a spaniel that has been beaten up one too many times.

Habitat: Needy German male is probably still studying and light years away from getting a proper job (Germans can stretch their university degree courses over a decade). You're likely therefore, to catch a glimpse of him and his geeky Internet-addicted mates at higher education establishments, grubby clubs and student canteens. Their apartments tend to be chock full of books and CDs with a bicycle propped against the wall next to the couch.

Favorite Activities: Planning your future life together.

The Pros: He adores you...

The Catch: ... way too much. He's needy, a fussy eater and probably has a peanut allergy to boot.

If you really want to date one: Prepare to become mom.


Stop reading Heat magazine! Chuck that copy of The National Enquirer! Intellectual German Male won't be seen dead with you if you don't. He's spent his entire life cocooned in a university, is fluent in Serbo-Croatian and doesn't own a television. He is one helluva clever German. And he's an intellectual snob.

Distinguishing marks: Looks and dresses like Robin Williams in "Dead Poet's Society." Just less American.

Habitat: Pseudo-arty Berlin cafés with gilded mirrors and black and white pictures of Marlene Dietrich on the wall. Intellectual German Male whiles away time by writing books, reading esoteric academic papers, starting discussions about German philosophers while smoking strong French cigarettes, drinking espresso, reading the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and eyeing up diaphanous, high-cheek-boned French women.

Favorite Activities: Hiding copies of "The Da Vinci Code" in bookshops. Bitching about the intellectual credentials of anyone who doesn't have at least two doctorates. Watching obscure French films.

Pros: Useful if you have exams coming up.

The Catch: Every time you try and talk to him, he'll be too busy reading or "having important thoughts." The truth is: Intellectual German Male is probably a misogynist and, frankly, you never had a chance. He only wants to sleep with French women, anyway.

If you really want to date one: Read Proust. ALL of it.


He can say "I Love You" in Russian. But things have gone downhill since 1989. For Ossi German male -- a product of former East Germany -- life was better when the Berlin Wall was still standing, or so they'll tell you. They are fond of saying things like, "The country I come from doesn't exist anymore." What happened to that good old collectivist spirit, eh?

Distinguishing marks: Mullet hairdo. Often has an unhealthy obsession with stonewashed circa 1983 denim, Trabant cars and the German Baltic Sea coast.

Habitat: East Berlin pubs. The Peoples' Park of Friedrichshain. Frankfurt an der Oder.

Favorite Activities: Listening to 1980s hard rock and moaning about capitalism, the euro and the fact his rent costs more than 3 pounds a week.

Pros: Good for a history lesson. Or if you want to learn a bit of Russian.

The Catch: See most of above.

If you really want to date one: Start wearing dungarees, now.


My, my, this German male is a healthy guy. Birkenstock-wearing, lentil-eating, Organic German Male is right-on when it comes to global warming, nuclear power and organic gardening. Yawn...

Distinguishing marks: Organic German Males usually have big troubled eyes (the planet is dying, you know). He may also have dreadlocks and often wears a scarf even when the sun is shining.

Habitat: Look for Organic German Male in organic supermarkets (by the Tofu) and at anti-fur or anti-America demonstrations. If you like your men "extra green," Extreme Organic German Male will be the one with the megaphone yelling obscenities at the police.

Favorite Activities: Going to anti-fur/anti-war/anti-absolutely-bloody-everything demonstrations; watching his "Best of Greenpeace Marches 2005" DVD; digging around in his organic herb garden.

The Catch: Unless you too are a Green Goddess, Organic German Male will drive you crazy with his endless goody-two-shoes rants about global warming. He won't let you have long baths (water waste), or fly long-haul to the Caribbean (air pollution) and will certainly not indulge your need for nice little dresses from Gucci/Prada/Yves San Laurent/Hermes etc. etc., because he says they're made by Indonesian child slaves.

If you really want to date one: These guys still have a weakness for the daisy-in-the-hair, hippy look.


The German system sucks. This is the credo of the Anarchist German Male. At least it sucks most of the time -- when it's not wiring social security money into the Anarchist German Male's bank account for his ample supply of black leather and the industrial quantities of dog food required to feed his oversized mutts.

Distinguishing marks: Unwashed and unshaven. Anarchist German Males often sport pink Mohawks and have chains dangling from their ripped jeans. They are attracted to any clothing made from leather, which they like to sling over their grubby death metal T-shirts.

Habitat: Hangs around bus stations with his Anarchist German Male mates and their numerous under-groomed dogs on binder twine. Boxhagener Platz in the German neighborhood of Friedrichshain has an especially healthy population of Anarchist German Males.

Favorite Activities: Drinking beer, asking passers-by for spare change, kicking walls and shouting.

Pros: None. Unless you are a documentary film maker who's been told to find one.

The Catch: You will never be able to take him home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays or -- if your family values the cleanliness of their furniture -- even for casual visits. No matter how hard you try, Anarchist German Male does not scrub up well.

If you really want to date one: Just don't.

Ruth Elkins