Saturday, October 14, 2006

Lind vs. Barnett

Pete Takeshi alerted me to the online discussions of the "feud" between Thomas Barnett and William Lind due to the publication of Mr. Barnett's book, Blueprint.

Earlier this year, Mr. Lind wrote a review of Mr. Barnett's The Pentagon's New Map and Blueprint for Action. One popular critique of Mr. Lind's review was that he had written it without actually reading the book, relying instead upon a Washinton Post review. Indeed, Mr. Barnett himself made this charge in his response to the review. To my knowledge, Mr. Lind has not addressed this, nor has he written anything on the book since his initial review. Somewhat disappointing, though he may have some good reasons for not doing so.

Mr. Barnett includes an attack of Mr. Lind's credentials:

Lind's main claim to fame is that he co-authored, with a slew of active-duty and reserve officers, a seminal article on 4GW back in 1989. He published one military strategy book on his own prior to that (1985), co-wrote an attack on the U.S. military with Gary Hart, and now seems content to churn out his critiques of operations and strategy (unlike me, Lind-the-non-operator has no fear of critiquing operations or even tactics), and the occasional right-wing diatribe on "cultural conservatism," which his site defines as "the belief that there is a necessary, unbreakable, and causal relationship between traditional Western, Judeo-Christian values, definitions of right and wrong, ways of thinking and ways of living -- the parameters of Western culture -- and the secular success of Western societies: their prosperity, their liberties, and the opportunities they offer their citizens to lead fulfilling rewarding lives. If the former are abandoned, the latter will be lost."

Yes, yes, the barbarians are at the gate all right, and I'm the "soft totalitarian" ... How quaint.

What is one supposed to make of this comment? Evidently Mr. Barnett does not share Mr. Lind's recognition that what is good in Western civilization comes from its foundation in Christianity. (Does Mr. Lind link the "success" of America to religion? It's not clear to me that he does--if he did, I would disagree with him.) Apparently Mr. Barnett is a secular liberal.

Now when choosing authorities and teachers, one does so because one is judges that their reasoning is correct or one finds them trustworthy (probably for reasons other than the soundness of their doctrine, though it may be possible to have some sort of insight into the truthfulness of their teachings without perfect understanding).

What are you working for? And how will you achieve this? Mr. Barnett's answers to both these questions are unsatisfactory from my point of view.

Mr. Barnett is a liberal, and an advocate of globalization and of the Enlightenment, relying on a quasi-Marxist (that is to say, a primarily economic analysis) of human behavior.

Hamlet Linden: When you say "globalization", a lot of people, especially in the EU-- probably a lot of folks in the audience here-- don't think about peace and prosperity. They think exploitation, sweatshops, economic imperialism, etc. Please speak to that concern.

Thomas Barnett: First, please read Martin Wolf's "Why Globalization Works" book, as it's the best. Globalization does many things when it comes into a country that's was previously poorly connected, and I talk about this at length in the book. First, multinational corporations tend to pay, on average, 50% higher wages than similar industries in the economy can pay. That's why there was 1.5 billion in the world living on less than a dollar a day back in 1980 and only 1.1 billion today. That's a reduction of 400 million as the population in the world increased dramatically, so 40% of the world lives on less than a dollar a day in 1980 and only 20% in 2001 (adjusted for inflation, of course). That flow outside investment is crucial, because no countries in the history of the world have grown their economies without access to outside capital. Now with development comes higher local pollution, without a doubt, but that tapers off dramatically with development and actually improves as you get advanced. Of course, global pollution, like CO2, continues to go up even with advanced development but that's another discussion. (source)

Note: apparently Mr. Barnett supports regime change and nation-building, when it's "necessary"--in the interests of the United States and what's good for the United States is good for the rest of the world, because that's the way the U.S. is--we share everything with everyone else and want to bring civilization to them, if possible.

From "I Miss Lady Liberty":

But therein lies the rub. We stand for a world connected through trust, transparency and trade, while the jihadists want to hijack Islam and disconnect it from all the corruption they imagine is being foisted upon it by globalization (aka, America's "plot to rule the world").

In that war of ideas, I'd still like to see Lady Liberty standing outside the wire instead of hiding behind it, and here's why: I don't have a homeland. My people left that place a long time ago.

I don't have a homeland because I don't live in a place - I live an ideal. I live in the only country in the world that's not named for a location or a tribe but a concept. Officially, we're known as the United States.

And where are those united states? Wherever there are states united. You join and you're in, and theoretically everyone's got an open invitation.

This country began as a collection of 13 misfit colonies, united only by their desire not to be ruled by a distant king.

We're now 50 members and counting, with our most recent additions (Alaska, Hawaii) not even co-located with the rest, instead constituting our most far-flung nodes in a network that's destined to grow dramatically again.

No surprise--that ideal turns out to be a liberal one. (Especially one of a libertarian stripe.) What Strauss or Fr. McCoy would make of Barnett's writings. (Though I do wonder if their laying the development of modern politics at the feet of Machiavelli is a bit too much.)

While Mr. Lind is not Catholic, he claims to be a traditional Christian, and is concerned with the loss of Western civilization and the current moral decay of the West and the decline of nation-states. He is heavily invested in this thesis, and some have criticized him for it. Regardless of what one thinks of this thesis (which I am strongly inclined to accept), his analysis of 4GW, centered as it is on the historical development of the modern nation-state, is more accurate than not. One can appreciate Mr. Lind's writings as an attempt to warn us what the negative effects are when subsidiarity is destroyed and replaced by a centralization, and what weaknesses are engendered. If non-state actors do not have the same weaknesses as nation-states, then can the same methods used to defeat nation-states be applied to them? "Probably not."

Some have mistakenly identified 4th generation warfare with tactics, such as terrorism and insurgency--it is characterized rather by the loss of state monopoly on war. How does this differ from earlier periods? Perhaps a case could be made that rebels and guerillas fighting against a foreign power had some legitimacy, in so far as they represented real communities that could become independent. This certainly deserves more reflection. Can the use of violence by a non-state actor ever be legitimate? It seems that some forms of armed resistance, in accordance with just and reasonable principles, can be licit. But in nation-states where local independence and self-sufficiency has been destroyed, can separation (or secession) through force of arms be justified?

Thomas P. M. Barnett's blog; website
Second Life Future Salon
4GW is not some advance, but the Gap's last gasps

Joseph Stromberg, A Post-Modern Nimrod
Richard Peet's review

Something on Martin van Creveld--
Clausewitz vs. the Scholar

Internet discussion on Lind-Barnett:
Chet Richards wrote a positive review for DNI, and John Robb of Global Guerillas offered some thoughts in "Contra Barnett" but does not give a full review of his own. (An older post.)

Small Wars Journal
Defense Industry Daily
Intellectual Conservative
Phatic Communion

Networkcentric Warfare
Mr. Barnett worked with Admiral Art Cebrowski in the Office of Force Transformation (wiki).
Admiral Cebrowski is known as one of the foremost proponents of networkcentric warfare.
The power of information comes from the ability to share
Defense Operations and Network-centric Operations
Transforming warfare

Arthur K. Cebrowski, 1942-2005
John J. Garstka, Defense Transformation and Network Centric Warfare

(An article on Force Transformation. Another. Wired.)
Sense and Respond Logistics

A critique of networkcentric warfare by T. Barnett
Critics take shots at net-centric warfare planning
The net-centric dialog

Misc: EoTech, AimPoint
Review of The Enlightenment and Religion

What role do secret societies play in the destruction of social order? What can be done to stabilize South America? (In addition to the renewed effort at evangelizing the continent, of course.) What about Venezuela? Who benefits from the investment in developing countries?


I'm listening to Sting's performance of some songs by John Dowland--I think this is a live performance, and I find it to be much better than the CD tracks, not sure what it is. I listened to those samples, and some of the songs I didn't like--part of it was the mixing that was done in the studio, much of it was Sting's voice and singing style. Some (and Sting himself makes this point) might argue that his style is more "authentic," lacking the modern technique of bel canto/opera, but is it really the case that people back then didn't know the difference between singing from the throat, or from the chest, or from the diaphragm? Anyway, his accent is growing on me. And he is right, he does know how to sing with passion, and this does come out in his performance. (And his lute-playing sounds superb!)

David Hill

I believe David Hill was Master of Music at Westminster before James O'Donnell... He is now director of the Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge, and holds many other posts as well.

(Including musical director [profile] for The Bach Choir.)

Hyperion Records


What you don't really expect

Tonight I talked on the phone with dep gai--it is interesting to see how people (even if only on the phone) differ from the picture you draw of them in your imagination, based on internet conversations. No doubt this will happen again, if I meet anyone else I know from virtual reality... how many others will I meet? I don't know. Watcher was thinking of taking a vacation around here, but he hasn't decided yet--I think he should go to SK, although if NK continues to make noises, maybe that wouldn't be such a good idea. Range is over in Hawaii, and my sisters like visiting that state; I'm sure I wouldn't mind, but I don't know if I will have the opportunity to do so. P'lyn is all the way in Malaysia. Then there are a couple of other people...

It was a good conversation with dep gai though. And though her voice was different from what I expected, it was pleasant. =) Actually, I didn't have any voice in mind tied to the face, but it was still... different. Perhaps it's feels just "strange" since we had not talked on the phone before...

Anyways, dep gai if you are reading this, you can always call if you want to talk, it's better than IMing... just email again so I know when to be around...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fr. Cantalamessa: God is not against the Rich

God Is Not Against the Rich, Says Father Cantalamessa

Pontifical Household Preacher on Sunday's Gospel

ROME, OCT. 13, 2006 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from the 28th Sunday in ordinary time.

* * *

"How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!"
Mark 10:17-30

A preliminary observation is necessary to clarify any possible ambiguities when reading what this Sunday's Gospel says about wealth.

Jesus never condemns wealth or earthly goods in themselves. Among his friends is, also, Joseph of Arimathea, a "rich man"; Zaccheus is declared "saved," though he kept half his goods for himself which, given his office of tax collector, must have been considerable.

What Jesus condemns is exaggerated attachment to money and property; to make one's life depend on these and to accumulate riches only for oneself (Luke 12:13-21).

The word which God uses for excessive attachment to money is "idolatry" (Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 5:5). Money is not one of many idols; it is the idol par excellence, literally, "molten gods" (Exodus 34:17).

It is the anti-God because it creates a sort of alternative world, it changes the object of the theological virtues. Faith, hope and charity are no longer placed in God, but in money. Effected is a sinister inversion of all values.

"Nothing is impossible for God," says Scripture, and also: "Everything is possible for the one who believes." But the world says: "Everything is possible for the one who has money."

Avarice, in addition to being idolatry, is also the source of unhappiness. The avaricious is an unhappy man. Distrusting everyone, he isolates himself. He has not affection, not even for those of his own flesh, whom he always sees as taking advantage and who, in turn, really nourish only one desire in regard to him: That he die soon to inherit his wealth.

Tense to the point of breaking to save money, he denies himself everything in life and so does not enjoy either this world or God, as his self-denial is not for him.

Instead of having security and tranquility, he is an eternal hostage of his money. However, Jesus does not leave any one without the hope of salvation, including the rich man. The question is not "whether the rich man is saved" (this has never been in discussion in Christian tradition), but "What rich man is saved?"

Jesus points out to the rich a way out of their dangerous situation: "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes" (Matthew 6:20); "make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations" (Luke 16:9).

It might be said that Jesus was advising the rich to transfer their capital abroad! But not to Switzerland -- to heaven! Many, says St. Augustine, exert themselves to put their money under earth, depriving themselves of the pleasure of seeing it, at times all their life, just to be sure it is safe.

Why not put it no less than in heaven, where it would be much safer, and where it will be found again one day forever? And how to do this? It is simple, continues St. Augustine: God offers you the carriers in the poor. They are going there where you hope to go one day. God's need is here, in the poor, and he will give it back to you when you go there.

However, it is clear that today almsgiving and charity is no longer the way to use wealth for the common good, or perhaps the most advisable.

There is also honesty in paying one's taxes, to create new jobs, to give a more generous salary to workers when the situation allows it, to initiate local enterprises in developing countries.

In sum, when one makes money yield, makes it flow, they are channels for the water to circulate, not artificial lakes that keep it for themselves.

This is very bizarre--sounds like a justification of "trickle-down" charity. And almsgiving is no longer the way to use wealth for the common good? Certainly it is one way; if it is not advisable, why is this the case? Because the money would be better invested elsewhere? It should go to changing the system? But what if economic arrangements are problematic? If one is fighting the system, the money can be used to change the system as much as possible, but how many people have the wisdom to know what should be done and whom should be helped? It would seem safer for most to give alms than to think up with other ways to benefit the poor... advising them to hold onto their money and to "invest" elsewhere may prove to be too much of a temptation, feeding on hidden desires that have not been moderated or eliminated...

Perhaps the original in Italian is different, but if the translation is accurate, it's another disappointing piece from Fr. Cantalamessa.

Photos: Flags of our Fathers

at IGN Movies

Mel Gibson interview, pt. 2


One can watch the whole interview online, but since it's "premium video" I wouldn't be surprised if you had to pay money for it...

Chorus/Mirandum Pictures

Learned of this company through a news release by the college, Mirandum Picehures was started by some alumni from Christendom College--no doubt some of you will recognize the names. They've produced a film, Chorus, starring various students from the college and shot on campus and in Front Royal. A teaser for the film is available at the film's webpage.

From the teaser, I don't know what to make of it, except that perhaps it is a more innocent and "Catholic" version of the fare one would find on the CW (One Tree Hill) or Fox (the OC)--I was going to say the WB (which featured shows such as Dawson's Creek), but that network no longer exists, having merged with UPN to form CW.

Why do I compare the movie to these shows? Because the teaser features a lot of youth angst. One hopes that the characters in the movie are not just into themselves and only talking about themselves, like the characters on Fox and CW dramas... but the teaser reminded me of contemporary American narcissism and cult of youth (i.e. immaturity), at least when the characters are talking with teach other. Perhaps the play production represents something else, and there is a profound moral message to the story... if one has to conjecture based on other information (such as the people involved, the education they received at Christendom, and so on), this is probably the case...

Still, I'd rather watch Stillman's Metropolitan for more intelligent "whining." It's not really whining if it doesn't annoy the listener, is it? Or better yet, finally get to reading some Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, or Muriel Spark... (A reminder: read some Kazuo Ishiguro...)

Perhaps I'm wrong about Chorus, and it is more than the teaser. I'm just a bit tired of people seeking to "discover themselves and who they are" and how so many dramas are driven by existential crises. Yes, moderns are confused and there has been a loss of identity and community (the two are linked!), and while one should condemn nihilism, anything that comes close to affirming the status quo (which is what most dramas end up doing, as well as vindicating immaturity and rebellion which are components of the status quo) and the "liberal" political and social order should also be avoided. My guess is that Chorus is not overtly religious, but the Faith will inform the story, so that meaning will ultimately be found in God and grace.

Stillman links:
theyshootpictures profile
After the Ball -- essay on Metropolitan

by Gerald Peary
Psychology Today
Better than Fudge
The A.V. Club
National Review
Filmmaker Magazine

Hwang Jin Yi starts

official website

more photos

interview and another clip

Korean Designer Takes Hangul to the Paris Catwalk

Lee Sang-bong

Carolyn McCulley, Humility That Attracts and Encourages

Humility That Attracts and Encourages
by Carolyn McCulley

A snippet:
Here's a frequent conversation that I've been having over the last two years. Sitting across from me will be an attractive man, anywhere from 18 to 35. He is usually well-regarded by his pastor, communicates clearly, holds a good job, and leads a small group or other ministry team. In other words, not the kind of man I would think lacks confidence.

And yet, he needs encouragement to initiate a relationship — which is why he is there talking to me. My job as his friend is to help him figure out what he is going to say and assure him that he is doing the right thing in stepping up to the plate. While he worries about the possible rejection of one woman, I can usually think of a half-dozen others who would jump for joy if he pursued any of them. So it's with detached amusement that I listen, marveling that this is a lot harder for men than I ever imagined in years past.

Being privy to the way men think has tempered my own self-righteousness and impatience in the area of romantic relationships. While we women exercise trust in God by waiting to be pursued, men exercise trust in God by risking rejection. Because of that, I always encourage my brothers in Christ to sow to godly masculinity and not passivity — to be more concerned with their own actions and motivations than the outcome of their pursuit.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Song Hye Gyo McDonald's cfs


different McD's cf:



Photos for Range

Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan speaks during a panel discussion about Managing Diversity in a Globalized World at the Clinton Global Initiative, in New York, September 21, 2006. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton's annual event brings together world leaders from business, government and philanthropy to try to solve world issues. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES)

Jordan's Queen Rania speaks to children at al-Karamah Primary School during her visit to al-Bweidah al village in northern Jordan September 25, 2006. REUTERS/Naser Ayoub (JORDAN)

An elderly woman kisses Jordan's Queen Rania (L) during her visit to an elderly home during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Amman October 3, 2006. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji (JORDAN)

Jordan's Queen Rania smiles during her to an elderly home during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Amman October 3, 2006. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji (JORDAN)

Jordan's Queen Rania arrives at the Cultural Palace in Amman October 4, 2006. Queen Rania on Wednesday awarded the country's top teachers of 'Excellence in Teaching' which rewards model teachers and schools who show outstanding contributions to the country's educational sector. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji (JORDAN)

Jordan's Queen Rania Al-Abdullah (R) talks to Women's Forum Founder and President Aude Zieseniss de Thuin at the opening dinner of the Women's Forum for Economy and Society in Deauville, October 5, 2006. REUTERS/Pascal

Jordan's Queen Rania Al-Abdullah speaks at the Women's Forum for Economy and Society in Deauville October 5, 2006. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol (FRANCE)
Reuters - Oct 05 2:16 PM

Jordan's Queen Rania Al-Abdullah speaks at the Women's Forum for Economy and Society in Deauville October 5, 2006. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol (FRANCE)

Here's one confirmation

about my suspicions of The Queen:

Film: A right royal failure

"What is fatally lacking in The Queen is any analytical rigour: like the royal family, the film-makers retreat at the first sign of difficulty. It is especially cowardly to portray the public unquestioningly as a benevolent mass, rather than as a baying mob advertising its grief with helium balloons that proclaim "We'll Miss You". The director who diagnosed England's failings so pointedly in Bloody Kids (1980) and My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) has neglected to grasp the principal irony of the post-Diana outcry: that it was the same public that revered the Queen's fidelity to the past and which berated her for her failure to adapt to the present. "

*edit* Another confirmation, a review for the BBC.

Eh, forget the movie. Pics of the real thing:

Queen Elizabeth II (C) reviews three Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment at the Balmoral Showgrounds in Belfast, in Northern Ireland. The queen has reviewed British soldiers stationed in Northern Ireland for the last time as the army winds down its presence in the once-troubled province.(AFP/Peter Muhly)

(AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Another oldie by Dalrymple

Is there a zeitgeist that affects the West as a whole? Theodore Dalrymple finds very similar debates in France and Britain on the best methods of teaching children to read - yet neither debate refers to the other

Posted by Theodore Dalrymple

The same debates about teaching children to read are rehearsed in Britain and France, finds Theodore Dalrymple. Within weeks of each other the British and French education ministers made very similar policy pronouncements on the best methods for teaching literacy. The same vested interests opposed these pronouncements in both countries. Yet, listening to the debate in either country one would not hear references to the debate in the other. Theodore Dalrymple asks, is there a zeitgeist that affects the West as a whole? And what might this zeitgeist be?

The first time I realised that there was something profoundly wrong with the British educational system – which is not, of course, the first time there was actually something very wrong with it – was when I returned from a prolonged sojourn abroad.

I had taken a job in what used to be called a slum, but was now called an inner city. In fact, from the purely physical point of view, the slum wasn't too bad, though it was still said to be one of the worst in the country. The problem was not raw poverty, certainly not of the kind to be seen in the Third World countries from which I had just returned.

I became interested in – perhaps appalled by would be a better way of putting it - the educational and cultural level of my patients, more particularly the younger ones. I took to examining their scholastic accomplishments very briefly, for it seemed to me that some of their problems, at least, arose from their incapacity to deal with the exigencies of modern life.

Perhaps the most memorable answer I ever received was that given by a young man, not of high intelligence but not subnormal either, to the question of what three times four made. "We didn't get that far", he said.

Eleven years of compulsory education - and they didn’t get that far! No doubt someone would pipe up that if only we spent £40,000 per head instead of £20,000 per head (or whatever the amount is), all our children would reach at least the six times table.

As to reading, I found a population less good at it than the Tanzanian peasantry. Asked to read something, most of the young people would squirm as if straining at stool, and then deliver themselves of a few words tentatively. When asked at the end of the sentence, a good proportion – the majority – would say, "I don't know, I was only reading it." Reading for them was a kind of ritual performed to get the teacher off their backs, and perhaps the educational inspectors off the teacher's back.

Even more remarkable was the fact that when they came to a long word, they would struggle over it for a time and then give up, saying – and pointing to it with their finger – "I don't know that one", as if English were not written alphabetically, whose admittedly irregular orthography gave some clue to pronunciation, but in ideograms or hieroglyphs.

I long suspected, and subsequently had confirmed, that the new methods of teaching children were responsible for their incapacity. I could think of no greater disservice to children in a modern society than to leave them semi-literate and innumerate, and began to conceive of teacher training colleges and the Department of Education as an evil conspiracy to ensure that there were a substantial and sufficient number of dependents and hopeless cases to justify an enormous bureaucracy of welfare. No doubt an exaggeration, but a possible interpretation.

Well, the other week the French Minister of National Education issued a statement in which he said that to continue to use the global recognition method of teaching children to read would be criminal in the light of its established failure, and that it was his duty to suppress it. Never mind that the very same minister, over a decade previously, had put his signature to a circular to require the global recognition method: this time he was speaking sense, even if purely opportunistically.

Now of course, we in Britain had recognised the failure of the method only a week or two before, and the Education Secretary more or less promised a return to the traditional methods.

What was interesting was that the same vested interests in the failed methods came to its defence in France as in Britain, and the same stories of teachers clandestinely using the traditional method as if they were engaged upon a criminal activity were told in France as in Britain. It was discovered in France, more or less at the same time as in Britain, that the pupils of schools whose teachers had defied the educational establishment, were much better at reading than the pupils of schools where the injunctions of the establishment had been obeyed. And even the statistics were the same or similar: it has been found that 25 per cent of French children reaching secondary school cannot read, at least with facility, the same proportion more or less as in Britain.

What is so striking about all this is that the British never referred to the French experience (at least as far as I know), nor did the French ever refer to the British experience. Both treated their national cases as isolated or sui generic, yet the very timing of the decisions to adopt and abandon a teaching method that, to a person with a minimal amount of insight, would have seemed a very bad idea from the outset was very similar.

Is there then a zeitgeist which affects the West as a whole, almost irrespective or independent of the individuals who live there? Not long ago in Australia, I shared a panel with a woman described as "a social entrepreneur", who had won awards for her pioneering thoughts and efforts. She, too, was part of the great bureaucratic drive to create a substantial class of no-hopers, though she went further that the global recognition teaching method, which at least acknowledges, in theory, that it is desirable for children in modern societies to learn to read. She said that reading and writing were almost obsolete "technologies", and that voice recognition systems were now so advanced that they would be redundant. She said she spoke on behalf of those minorities for whom the culture of reading and writing had never been very important: though to my ears, it sounded like the sovereign method to keep the Abos down.

It is tedious to have to argue against this nonsense, which triumphs by boring its opponents into submission. But my question is, what is the zeitgeist that, like the sleep of reason, has brought forth monsters? It is frivolity without gaiety and earnestness without seriousness: in short, decadence.

I didn't think this sort of crap (which is very dominant in primary schools in the United States) afflicts the schools of the U.K. and France as well.

Theodore Dalrymple, Why the Baroque is Superior to Rock

Theodore Dalrymple on why the Baroque is superior to Rock: high culture is no bulwark against barbarism - but Baroque does not make those already predisposed to violence even more violent

A recent lunchtime visit to a pub - and its thankful absence of music - causes Theodore Dalrymple to muse on the superiority of Baroque over Rock. As the Nazis amply demonstrated, an affection for high culture is no bulwark against barbarism - but Baroque does not make those already predisposed to violence even more violent.

Recently - and rather against my custom - I went to a pub at lunchtime. As I entered, I felt a wave of relief sweep over me. It was not because of the prospect of alcohol - in fact, I am rarely dependent upon alcohol for relief of anxiety or tension, and intended to have only some fizzy water - but because of a very noticeable absence, that of music.

There was no music and there were no flashing lights or flickering screens in the pub, just a few people gathered around small tables, chatting and having a quiet drink. Only an occasional burst of laughter rose above the sociable murmur. I cursed the electricity that produces so many little hells of electronic stimulation, until I recalled that I like my drinks cooled.

No music! That its absence should strike me so forcefully, rather as the heat when you step off an air-conditioned aircraft into a tropical country, demonstrates how insidiously pervasive it has become in our urban environment. It is like a poisonous gas that a malign authority pumps into our atmosphere, whose doleful effect, and probably purpose, is to destroy our capacity to converse, to concentrate, to reflect. It agitates us, keeps us constantly on the move, makes us impulsive and lacking in judgement.

As it happened, a newspaper called me on the day I went into the pub to ask whether I was willing to write an article on the beneficial, salutary effects of classical music. Apparently, a study had just been published to demonstrate that Mozart and Bach were good for your health; and since these days healthiness is next to godliness, or even superior to it, here was proof at last that classical music was superior to rock music. Unfortunately, I could not write the article because I was due that afternoon to attend a murder trial - of someone, of course, who was unaware that there was any other kind of music but rock music.

One of the reasons, I suspect, that defenders and advocates of high culture have been diffident about their claims, and reluctant to resist the relentless advance of a debased popular culture, is the historical fact that the Nazis enthusiastically supported at least some aspects of it. Not long ago I went to the home of an antiquarian bookseller acquaintance of mine, a devotee of classical music. When I arrived, he was listening to a recording of the Winterreise, a most beautiful and sensitive recording made in Berlin in 1943. Schubert at the very nerve centre of political barbarism: what use or benefit, then, is Schubert to the world, and how could anyone claim him as a manifestation or pillar of high civilisation? If Schubert brings tears to your eyes after a hard day's genocide, what moral superiority can be claimed for Schubert’s music, or the act of listening to it, compared with any other music?

It is a powerful argument, at least in rhetorical effect. And once the advocates of high culture have lost confidence not so much in its superiority over low culture, but in their ability to argue for it, the entire field is left wide open to the lowest of low culture to occupy. Indeed, such low culture can even argue its moral superiority, for not only is it of the People, self-evidently a good thing, but it is untainted by any association with the Nazis. What rock star does not espouse the best causes? No concentration camp commandant ever spent his evenings listening to Iggy Pop or the Boomtown Rats.

If the invocation of guilt by association is a permissible rhetorical manoeuvre, let us, however, be even-handed about it. Rock music formed a large part of the content of Radio Mille Collines, the radio station that instigated and incited the genocide in Rwanda.

Even if high culture is not by itself a sufficient bulwark against ideological barbarism (and, of course, the Nazis were in many respects aesthetic barbarians too), there is no reason to go over to other forms of barbarism. There is good reason to believe that rock music exerts a brutalising effect, and if it is not the sole cause of many of the unpleasantness of modern life, it aggravates them.

In the days when, as part of my medical duties, I had to visit police cells to examine the recently arrested, I went to a police station in which the custody sergeant used to play chamber works by Brahms (not always the most serene of composers, perhaps) to those whom I suppose in these consumerist days I must call his customers. He had found by trial and error, he said, that Brahms calmed criminals down while rock music made them more agitated and aggressive than they were already inclined to be.

A prison officer in the prison in which I worked, a man of Jamaican origin and therefore by no means culturally predisposed to such a conclusion, had found also that rock and baroque exerted quite different effects on the prisoners. The first agitated them to the point of violence, the latter soothed them to the point of docility. But he had difficulty in persuading the other officers of the value of his observations, for culturally they were themselves more inclined to rock than baroque. As to my proposal that the prison should echo to the sound of Gregorian chant, they thought it was merely a joke.

No doubt all of us have experienced the bass vibrations through the pavement under our feet of an approaching car, whose driver is in an enraged but trance-like state. The car is driven aggressively, as if invulnerable to accident. Of course, aggressive people listen to aggressive music, but no one is so aggressive that he cannot be provoked into further aggression.

Needless to say, the outright suppression of rock music in public places, while very tempting, is not the solution. What is required is the elevation of public taste. This, it seems to me, might take some time.

Theodore Dalrymple is a writer and retired earlier this year as a doctor.

Westminster Cathedral Choir: US tour


I think I remember reading about this last time I visited their website. At any rate, they are not coming to Boston, but they are visiting Washington, D.C. and New York City. When they visited in 1999(?) I was at Christendom and had the opportunity to listen to them perform in D.C. It was also the night of the infamous van incident. haha.

website for the cathedral
the choir
choir school

Martin Baker is the current Master of Music at the cathedral.
Chant: A New Initiative by Westminster Cathedral

Tour Schedule

United States of America Tour October 13th - 24th 2006

October 13th The Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, GA

October 15th Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC

October 17th St. Thomas Church, New York, NY

October 19th Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, MN

October 20th Saint Louis Cathedral, St Louis, MO (TO BE CONFIRMED)

October 22nd Visitation Catholic Church, Kansas City, MO

entry for the Boy Choir and Soloist Directory

National Cathedral
-- info on the performance (
St. Thomas Church -- info on the performance

Spero News article on the choir's American tour

James O'Donnell (bio) was the previous Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral. He is now organist and director of choirsters at Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey Choir cds
artist page at Hyperion Records
BBC: Sounding the Divine

Performance of Handel's Jephtha

From a page advertising performance at Trinity Church last year:

Wow. Can't believe I missed that one.

Note: St. James's Baroque
Early Music News (U.K.)

The Queen

The film is supposed to open nationwide tomorrow. Anyone interested in seeing it?

official website
Apple trailer
snarky bastards blog entry on the movie
Creating 'The Queen'

Theodore Dalrymple, The Goddess of Domestic Tribulation

Interesting that Helen Mirren has portrayed both English monarchs bearing that name...

During the time leading up to the funeral, I thought the criticism of the Royal Family by the British media and the "Public" (in so far it was represented by certain individuals got their 1o minutes of fame on TV "mourning" and making comments about the family--and is there any individual who wore his heart on his sleeve more than Elton John?). The country doesn't deserve the queen as a real ruler (and that's saying a lot, given the degraded state of the Royal Family.) No doubt in the film the queem excuses the people for their reaction, conceding that they have changed while the family is (too?) old-fashioned, but the reality is that things in the U.K. have continued to go downhill--the process has been somewhat slower for the royals, since they realize the importance of maintaining appearances and at least have some feeling of shame.

Perhaps praise of the film by critics should make me wary of the film--does it go far enough to defend the family? Maybe it doesn't, if everone is reacting so positively to it...

PCR, Lost Wars and a Lost Economy

full article

Last Friday's payroll jobs report was a continuation of Bush's dismal record. Only 59,000 net new private sector jobs were created during September. That is about 90,000 less than would be needed to stay even with population growth. Like all jobs that the US economy has created in the 21st century, the September jobs are in domestic services.

Waitresses and bar tenders accounted for a quarter of the new jobs.
The remainder were in health care and social assistance, wholesale trade and transportation, financial activities, and accounting and bookkeeping services.

US manufacturing lost another 19,000 jobs. Since Bush took office, the US has lost 3 million manufacturing jobs.

Charles McMillion of MBG Information Services in Washington DC notes that the growth of total hours worked over the current "recovery" is less than half the average rate of all previous recoveries and is the worst performance on record. Due to offshoring, manufacturing hours worked have declined 6.6% since the recovery began in November 2001.

It has been years since the US economy has created high-productivity, high-paying jobs in export and import-competitive sectors. The US manufacturing trade deficit is now twice the size of the oil import bill. The years of deficits have destroyed America's creditor status in the balance of payments. At the beginning of this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that for the first time in 90 years, the US is now paying noticeably more to foreign creditors than it receives from its investments abroad."

Jobs offshoring and work visas for foreigners are dismantling the ladders of upward mobility that made America an opportunity society for American citizens. In the 21st century, real income growth has been limited to a few at the top, while median family income stagnates or declines. As a result of the moronic American system of tying CEO pay to quarterly results, fat cats get richer by arbitraging labor and replacing American workers with foreigners.

The current recovery is based on the expansion of consumer and public debt. The artificially low interest rates engineered by the Federal Reserve fueled a real estate bubble that encouraged Americans to refinance their homes and to spend the equity.

Another source of the "recovery" has been credit card debt which has been turned into securities and sold to investors. Credit card companies assume that the high interest rates that they charge compensate for the high default rates and, therefore, issue new cards to people already overwhelmed with credit card debt. Much of this debt is tied to derivatives in ways that no one understands.

Many of the home refinancings used interest only adjustable rate mortgages that are now pushing up monthly payments for households. As these higher payments hit over-stressed budgets, US employers plan to lay off more Americans in order to lower costs by locating production abroad and by hiring more foreigners on work visas.

Meanwhile corporate bankruptcies and other machinations are depriving more Americans of pensions and health care coverage. The growing number of Americans without health coverage will turn to the hospital emergency rooms and join the illegal immigrants in driving more hospitals and communities into bankruptcy.

How Hezbollah Defeated Israel

Part One: Winning the Intelligence War
Part Two: The ground war

Photos: B16 blesses statue of St. Terese Benedict

Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges faithful during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2006.(AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)

Pope Benedict XVI blesses a statue of Edith Stein at the end of his weekly Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican October 11, 2006. Stein, a Jewish woman who converted to Catholicism as Sister Teresa Benedetta, died in Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz. REUTERS/Tony Gentile (VATICAN)

Pope Benedict XVI passes in front of a statue of Edith Stein, after he blessed it, at the end of his weekly Wednesday general audience at the Vatican October 11, 2006. Stein, a Jewish woman who converted to Catholicism as Sister Teresa Benedetta, died in Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz. REUTERS/Tony Gentile (VATICAN)

Site of Amish schoolhouse shooting razed

Site of Amish schoolhouse shooting razed
By MARTHA RAFFAELE, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 36 minutes ago
NICKEL MINES, Pa. - Workers with heavy machinery rather than hand tools moved in before dawn Thursday and demolished the one-room Amish schoolhouse where a gunman fatally shot five girls and wounded five others.

Construction lights glared in the mist as a large backhoe tore into the overhang of the school's porch around 4:45 a.m., then knocked down the bell tower and toppled the walls. Within 15 minutes, the building was reduced to a pile of rubble. By 7:30 a.m., the debris was gone, leaving just a bare patch of earth.

The schoolhouse had been boarded up since the killings 10 days earlier, with classes moved to a nearby farm. The Amish planned to leave a quiet pasture where the schoolhouse stood.

"I thought there was widespread feeling in the community that it was important to remove the building," said Herman Bontrager, a Mennonite businessman who is serving as a spokesman. "Especially for the children, but not only for the children."

The Amish are known for constructing buildings by hand, without the aid of modern technology, but for this job they relied on an outside demolition crew to bring closure to a painful chapter for their peaceful community.

A group of 20 to 30 people, many of them in traditional Amish dress, gathered nearby to watch as the schoolhouse was leveled. One Amish man shook his head when asked if he would comment on the demolition.
"It seems this is a type of closure for them," Mike Hart, a spokesman for the Bart Fire Company, said as loaders lifted debris into dump trucks to be hauled away.

The destruction of the West Nickel Mines Amish School came a week after the solemn funerals of the five girls killed by gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV. Roberts came heavily armed and apparently prepared for a long standoff. He held the 10 girls hostage for about an hour before shooting them and killing himself as police closed in.

The five girls wounded in the Oct. 2 shooting are still believed to be hospitalized. The hospitals are no longer providing any information about the patients at the request of their families.

Hart, who has been coordinating activities with the Amish community and whose company will help provide security, said private contractors were handling the demolition, and the debris would be hauled to a landfill.

He has said classes were expected to resume for the school this week at a makeshift schoolhouse in a garage on an Amish farm in the Nickel Mines area.
Associated Press writer Michael Rubinkam contributed to this story.

Mel Gibson interview, pt. 1

go here or here

Varia, 12 October 2006

Family members walk out of the platform of Seoul Station, central Seoul, Sunday after visiting hometowns during the Chusok holidays. / Korea Times Photo by Ryu Hyo-jin
10-08-2006 18:18

Culture - Oct. 9, 2006

Opticians Eyedaq in Myeong-dong, Seoul holds an event introducing spectacles designed with old Korean letters on Sunday to mark the 560th anniversary of Hangeul or Korean Alphabet Day on Monday. The first 569 people who visit the shop with their own handwritten copy of the Hunminjeongeum, the book recording how Korean letters were created, will be given a pair of free glasses until Oct. 14.

Ban Ki-moon, left, foreign affairs and trade minister, shakes hands with Alexander Vershbow, U.S. ambassador to Seoul, before discussing North Korea’s nuclear test issue with him, at his office in central Seoul, Monday. / Korea Times 10-09-2006 23:18

New Volvo: Models demonstrate the All-New Volvo S80, a premium sedan put on sale for the first time in Asia, during an unveiling event at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul, Monday. /Courtesy of Volvo Korea 10-09-2006 21:23

Business - Oct. 10, 2006

Models pose at the Korean launch of the new Volvo S80 luxury sedan at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown Seoul on Monday morning./Newsis

Hynix’ China factory: Woo Eui-je, second from left, CEO of Hynix Semiconductor, cuts a ribbon at the opening ceremony of its memory chip factory in Wuxi, China, Tuesday. Hynix owns 67 percent of the $2-billion factory, while China’s STMicro owns the rest.
/Courtesy of Hynix 10-10-2006 21:40

New Peugeot: Models showcase Peugeot’s New 307SW HDi, a crossover-type diesel sedan, at the Westin Chosun Hotel in downtown Seoul, Wednesday. /Yonhap 10-11-2006 21:01

Front - Oct. 11, 2006

North Korean soldiers react to being photographed while exercising at an army installation on the banks of the Yalu River at the North Korean town of Shinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong on Tuesday. With world leaders roundly condemning North Korea's announcement that it has carried out a nuclear test, UN Security Council members weighed an arms embargo and financial sanctions on Pyongyang./Reuters-Newsis

Culture - Oct. 11, 2006

The elderly team from Suncheon wait their turn at the ninth gymnastics competition for the elderly sponsored by the Gwangju, South Jeolla Province chapter of the Korean Red Cross.

Business - Oct. 11, 2006

An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 with the carrier’s new color scheme that will officially debut at Incheon International Airport on Oct. 26./Yonhap

Michelle Wie talks Wednesday with her caddy on the second hole in the Pro-Am round of the Samsung Challenge at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif. /AP-Yonhap 10-12-2006 14:28

Front - Oct. 12, 2006

A percussion group performs on the eve of 11th Pusan International Film Festival at the PIFF square in Nampo-dong in the port city also spelled ‘Busan’ on Wednesday evening./Newsis

Business - Oct. 12, 2006

Models show off footwear at the Winter Boots Fashion Show at the main branch of the Lotte Department Store in Seoul on Wednesday./Yonhap

National - Oct. 12, 2006

A staffer with the Gyeonggi Province Election Commission in Suwon on Wednesday tests a new touch-screen voting system that will be put into use in 2008./Yonhap

Baby skincare: Mothers participate in a baby skincare program hosted by Johnson & Johnson Korea at the Westin Chosun Hotel, Seoul, Thursday. Yonhap 10-12-2006 20:06

Premium Hyundai: Models pose with Hyundai Motor’s Veracruz, a luxury sport-utility vehicle, during an unveiling ceremony at the Sheraton Walkerhill Hotel in southern Seoul, Thursday. /Korea Times 10-12-2006 20:10

Business - Oct. 9, 2006
Samsung Electronics’ folder-type blackberry phone SGH-T719, which will hit the U.S. market through TMobile. The phone enables users to send and receive e-mails and lets users know when they have new mail./Courtesy of Samsung Electronics

Futuristic input device:People try out a new computer peripheral, which inputs data by recognizing human finger movements as an alternative to keyboards, at the International Semiconductor & Display Exhibition at COEX in southern Seoul, Wednesday. /Yonhap 10-11-2006 19:47

Leaner Busan Film Fest to Open Thursday

Battle-Hardened Michelle Wie Ready for Final LPGA Event

Easy Exercise for Shedding Holiday Flab

Eat Yourself Beautiful