Saturday, December 09, 2006

Letters to Dr. Laura


So all these women are deluded, according to Linda Hirshman.

How to be a Woman

The Importance of Touch
I enjoyed a quiet, stress-free visit to the dentist the other day (who knew motherhood could make visits to the dentist so appealing?). As I was waiting, I was reading an old issue of National Geographic whose cover story was all about the importance of our largest organ, the skin. It was a very interesting article, but I found myself most intrigued by the reference the article made to a research study involving chimpanzees. In the study, the baby chimps were studied in two situations. In one situation, the chimps were allowed free access to their mothers. They were allowed to see, hear and touch their mothers. In the other situation, the chimps were allowed to see and hear their mothers, but were denied the ability to touch their mothers. What they found was that the sense of touch is so vital to the chimps' well-being, that the chimps prevented from touching their mothers (even though they could still see and hear them) went insane.

This was horrifying to me when I considered the implications. In college, I was friends with a number of girls who worked in the day care system. I know from their first-hand testimonies that they are instructed not to hold the children as much as possible. They are instructed not to cuddle, caress or physically comfort the children they monitor because they don't want the children bonding with the day care workers over the parents, and it decreases the incidence of allegations of abuse. One friend told me how she had picked up a crying child who quickly fell asleep in her arms. She panicked and asked her supervisor what to do. The supervisor took the child out of her arms and forced the child to wake up and go back to play with the other children!

I also recalled an interview I saw with the wife of Larry King. She has fairly recently begun a singing career and it has been taking her away from her little toddler on a fairly regular basis. But she was praised during the interview for being such a good mom because, while she is gone from her boy for so long, she will read to him via a web cam every night before he goes to bed. Given the results of the study I read in National Geographic, this means of interacting with one's child is a very poor substitute to reading to your child while he's sitting on your lap!

It just breaks my heart to think of all of these poor little children whose parents care so little about their well-being that they would shuttle them off to a loveless environment on a daily basis, only to return tired and short-tempered at the end of the day. Where are the children supposed to find the loving touch they need to develop into healthy, happy and stable adults? I worry about the upcoming generations of day care babies and what the implications will be for our society. If the mother's touch is so important to the mental state of a chimpanzee, how could children possibly benefit from day care "touch-free" zones? What are these parents thinking?

I'd love to see Dr. Laura take on Ms. Hirshman. From another letter in response to 10 Stupid Things that Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives:

In closing, I just wanted to say, Dr. Laura, that you are a real woman. After reading your book, I am more grateful than ever for the concern you have for other women, concern that they would, "Get a life!" instead of trying to find one in a man. Thank you, thank you, for all you do. Because, after all, we women have the power to grow and change into our best selves. We might end by giving 'Sugar and spice and everything nice' a whole new meaning.

So who is being condescending and belittling to women?

Candice Watters, Motherhood, Immoral?

written in response to Linda Hirshman, author of Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World

Hers is a frightening anti-natalist view of a future where children are pushed to the edges, doomed to grow up under the care of the uneducated and incompetent. But it's not just infants who require such care. God forbid she ends up a senile old woman in a nursing home. If her vision for what's moral were followed, by then there would likely be no servant-minded young nurses to care for her and wipe her soiled bottom.

But then she likely supports killing the aged and infirm to boot.

God save us from such philosophy.

From the interview with Hirshman:

You’re asking what makes for a good life for women. How do you define “good life”? Plato and Aristotle asked the first question: Does it fully use the capacities that make you human, specifically, the capacity for speech and reason?

And many centuries later, thinkers of the Enlightenment asked, ”Does it allow you to be free and independent and morally autonomous? Do you get to make decisions about your life yourself rather than having them dictated to you by others?”

The third standard came out in the 18th and 19th centuries as industrialization spread throughout Europe: Does the life that you lead do more good than harm?

The particular thing that interested me was American society: It’s my society, and many philosophical schools of thought believe that it's a philosopher's obligation to address her own society. So, taking that seriously, I started researching what I thought would be a very different book—to see how families were making egalitarian marriages a generation after feminism. And I learned in fact that they weren't. I stumbled across the information that educated women who are in a position to have a whole range of choices about their lives were choosing to marry and stay home with their children instead of remaining in the world of work.

What they actually had done was recreate the 1950s life. Then I asked the question, “Is this good?” according to the standards of secular Western goodness.

I applied those standards to the decision to stay home and tend children and the household, and I found that they were, in fact, lacking. These women are not using their full human capacity. They are not independent, and they are not doing more social good than harm.

Are you angry or frustrated with women who stay home with their kids?

I think they're making a mistake. The most frustrating thing about the whole business is the nonsensical stories that they tell themselves and me about what they think they're doing. The delusional quality of it is a little weird.

Where do you think that comes from?

I'm not sure what is going on. If they, in fact, believe the things that they tell me, then they are incredibly stupid and foolish. I'm hoping that they're reciting it like a mantra: "choice, choice, choice, choice," or "I never met a man who wished on his deathbed he spent more time at work." These are mantras that these women recite; they send them to me in e-mails. And so, when the whole society is telling you a set of things, it becomes very easy to just recite it.

The interesting question is why they are unwilling to think through what they're doing. And I think it's because what they're doing is destructive and dangerous and they're afraid to face it.

You seem to be saying that a woman who chooses to stay at home with her kids rather than working is harming all women in our society.


How can that be true?

Because it is: She's helping to make a zeitgeist in which women are seen as undesirable employees.
You write that young women who opt out in this way have inflated ideas of how much they can control their world. But there are a lot of women—I’m one of them—who spent some years at home with our kids when they were little, and who treasure that time. Are we deluded?

It depends on how long you stay out of the workplace and what price you pay. One of the delusional conversations I had was with a woman who was 39 when I interviewed her. She had been out of the workplace for three years, and she was planning to go back when her second child, who was in utero at that moment, was in full-time school--6-1/2 years later, right?

So, I said to her, " I am going to say you're going to be 45 and a half when you start to try to reenter the competitive world of journalism," where she had been before. And she said, "I am not." You have to wonder when someone with a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University can't add six and 39.

What is going on there is that she's walked away from any hope of a meaningful career, and she doesn't want to face it.

You reject, even ridicule, the pushback from the opt-out moms who tell you and others that it's their own business. They're engaging in wishful thinking, number one. And then, they protect themselves from any evaluation of their insubstantial thinking by saying “It's my own damned business.” It cannot be reviewed by anyone else, so that they're like someone who thinks he's Napoleon.
And then, when you say, “You know what, you're not Napoleon, it's the 21st century and France is a democracy,” she says, “It's my own damned business.”

That's really worrisome, especially when it seems to apply only to women. And the reason that men treat women's decisions as their own damned business is because they don't matter. If they mattered, then men would treat them as everybody's business.

Wooo. Incredible.

Blood Diamonds

I don't know if I will watch the movie, but if things have not improved since the 90s, what can be done with respect to the diamond industry?

Still I wonder if a woman would accept anything other than a diamond ring for the sake of justice... perhaps it is not so difficult to get a diamond that is not tainted with blood, but what is the impact of the presence of blood diamonds on the market and the trade?

There's a news story on NBC news right now -- the diamond traders claim that the %age of blood diamonds has dropped from 4% to 1%. Uhhuh. At the very lease we should ask for certification that a diamond is conflict free... For example, Zale promises that its diamonds are conflict free. Nonetheless...

Econ-Atrocity Bulletin:

Ten Reasons Why You Should Never Accept a Diamond Ring from Anyone, Under Any Circumstances, Even If They Really Want to Give You One (2/14/02)

By Liz Stanton, CPE Staff Economist

1. You've Been Psychologically Conditioned To Want a Diamond
The diamond engagement ring is a 63-year-old invention of N.W.Ayer advertising agency. The De Beers diamond cartel contracted N.W.Ayer to create a demand for what are, essentially, useless hunks of rock.

2. Diamonds are Priced Well Above Their Value
The De Beers cartel has systematically held diamond prices at levels far greater than their abundance would generate under anything even remotely resembling perfect competition. All diamonds not already under its control are bought by the cartel, and then the De Beers cartel carefully managed world diamond supply in order to keep prices steadily high.

3. Diamonds Have No Resale or Investment Value
Any diamond that you buy or receive will indeed be yours forever: De Beers’ advertising deliberately brain-washed women not to sell; the steady price is a tool to prevent speculation in diamonds; and no dealer will buy a diamond from you. You can only sell it at a diamond purchasing center or a pawn shop where you will receive a tiny fraction of its original "value."

4. Diamond Miners are Disproportionately Exposed to HIV/AIDS
Many diamond mining camps enforce all-male, no-family rules. Men contract HIV/AIDS from camp sex-workers, while women married to miners have no access to employment, no income outside of their husbands and no bargaining power for negotiating safe sex, and thus are at extremely high risk of contracting HIV.

5. Open-Pit Diamond Mines Pose Environmental Threats
Diamond mines are open pits where salts, heavy minerals, organisms, oil, and chemicals from mining equipment freely leach into ground-water, endangering people in nearby mining camps and villages, as well as downstream plants and animals.

6. Diamond Mine-Owners Violate Indigenous People's Rights
Diamond mines in Australia, Canada, India and many countries in Africa are situated on lands traditionally associated with indigenous peoples. Many of these communities have been displaced, while others remain, often at great cost to their health, livelihoods and traditional cultures.

7. Slave Laborers Cut and Polish Diamonds
More than one-half of the world's diamonds are processed in India where many of the cutters and polishers are bonded child laborers. Bonded children work to pay off the debts of their relatives, often unsuccessfully. When they reach adulthood their debt is passed on to their younger siblings or to their own children.

8. Conflict Diamonds Fund Civil Wars in Africa
There is no reliable way to insure that your diamond was not mined or stolen by government or rebel military forces in order to finance civil conflict. Conflict diamonds are traded either for guns or for cash to pay and feed soldiers.

9. Diamond Wars are Fought Using Child Warriors
Many diamond producing governments and rebel forces use children as soldiers, laborers in military camps, and sex slaves. Child soldiers are given drugs to overcome their fear and reluctance to participate in atrocities.

10. Small Arms Trade is Intimately Related to Diamond Smuggling
Illicit diamonds inflame the clandestine trade of small arms. There are 500 million small arms in the world today which are used to kill 500,000 people annually, the vast majority of whom are non-combatants.


Collier, Paul, "Economic Causes of Civil Conflict and Their Implications for Policy," World Bank, June 15, 2000.

Epstein, Edward Jay, "Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?", The Atlantic Monthly, February 1982.

Global Witness, "Conflict Diamonds: Possibilities for the Identification, Certification and Control of Diamonds," A Briefing Document, June 2000,

Human Rights Watch/Asia, "The Small Hands of Slavery: Bonded Child Labor In India," Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Project, .

Human Rights Watch, "Children’s Rights: Stop the Use of Child Soldiers;" .

Kerlin, Katherine "Diamonds Aren’t Forever: Environmental Degradation and Civil War in the Gem Trade," The Environment Magazine, .

Le Billon, Philippe, "Angola’s Political Economy of War: The Role of Oil and Diamonds, 1975-2000," African Affairs, (2001), 100, p.55-80.

Mines and Communities, "The Mining Curse: The roles of mining in ‘underdeveloped’ economies," Minewatch Asia Pacific/Nostromo Briefing Paper, February 1999, .

Other Facets, Number 1, April 2001; Number 2, June 2001; Number 3, October 2001, .

© 2002 Center for Popular Economics

official movie website; Apple trailer

article in Amnesty Magazine

Amnesty International on conflict diamonds
Blood Diamonds are for Never
Conflict diamonds
Conflict Free Diamond Council
Diamonds in Conflict - Global Policy Forum - UN Security Council
BBC NEWS World Africa 'Blood diamond' scheme begins
The Campaign to Eliminate Conflict Diamonds
State Department report
Conflict Diamonds --
Jewelers react to film about conflict diamonds - Holiday Season ...
Strategic Plan for Transparency in African Diamond Trade
Global Witness: Campaigns: Diamonds

dakarm told me about artificial diamonds and some other man-made gem that could substitute for a diamond. I still haven't asked him about the name of the latter...

When Love Passes By

Song by Lee Soo Young, mvs featuring... Lee Young Ae

I didn't know there was a part 2!


Lee Young Ae's latest cf [& LG and IOPE]

Her most recent cf!


LG Refrigerator





Woongjin ood

W. Berry, In distrust of movements

Ecology : Wendell Berry
Traubenbrot (Swiss) photo: Pierre Ginet
The movements which deal with single issues or single solutions are bound to fail because they cannot control effects while leaving causes in place.
from Resurgence issue 198
More articles on ecology and environment
More articles by Wendell Berry

I HAVE HAD WITH MY friend Wes Jackson a number of useful conversations about the necessity of getting out of movements — even movements that have seemed necessary and dear to us — when they have lapsed into self-righteousness and self-betrayal, as movements seem almost invariably to do. People in movements too readily learn to deny to others the rights and privileges they demand for themselves. They too easily become unable to mean their own language, as when a “peace movement” becomes violent. They often become too specialized, as if finally they cannot help taking refuge in the pinhole vision of the institutional intellectuals. They almost always fail to be radical enough, dealing finally in effects rather than causes. Or they deal with single issues or single solutions, as if to assure themselves that they will not be radical enough.

And so I must declare my dissatisfaction with movements to promote soil conservation or clean water or clean air or wilderness preservation or sustainable agriculture or community health or the welfare of children. Worthy as these and other goals may be, they cannot be achieved alone. I am dissatisfied with such efforts because they are too specialized, they are not comprehensive enough, they are not radical enough, they virtually predict their own failure by implying that we can remedy or control effects while leaving causes in place. Ultimately, I think, they are insincere; they propose that the trouble is caused by other people; they would like to change policy but not behaviour.

The worst danger may be that a movement will lose its language either to its own confusion about meaning and practice, or to pre-emption by its enemies. I remember, for example, my naïve confusion at learning that it was possible for advocates of organic agriculture to look upon the “organic method” as an end in itself. To me, organic farming was attractive both as a way of conserving nature and as a strategy of survival for small farmers.

Imagine my surprise in discovering that there could be huge “organic” monocultures. And so I was not too surprised by the recent attempt of the United States Department of Agriculture to appropriate the “organic” label for food irradiation, genetic engineering, and other desecrations of the corporate food economy. Once we allow our language to mean anything that anybody wants it to mean, it becomes impossible to mean what we say. When “homemade” ceases to mean neither more nor less than “made at home”, then it means anything, which is to say that it means nothing.

AS YOU SEE, I have good reasons for declining to name the movement I think I am a part of. I am reconciled to the likelihood that from time to time it will name itself and have slogans, but I am not going to use its slogans or call it by any of its names.

Let us suppose that we have a Nameless Movement for Better Land Use and that we know we must try to keep it active, responsive and intelligent for a long time. What must we do?

What we must do above all, I think, is try to see the problem in its full size and difficulty. If we are concerned about land abuse, then we must see that this is an economic problem. Every economy is, by definition, a land-using economy. If we are using our land wrongly, then something is wrong with our economy. This is difficult. It becomes more difficult when we recognize that, in modern times, every one of us is a member of the economy of everybody else.

But if we are concerned about land abuse, we have begun a profound work of economic criticism. Study of the history of land use (and any local history will do) informs us that we have had for a long time an economy that thrives by undermining its own foundations. Industrialism, which is the name of our economy, and which is now virtually the only economy of the world, has been from its beginnings in a state of riot. It is based squarely upon the principle of violence toward everything on which it depends, and it has not mattered whether the form of industrialism was communist or capitalist or whatever; the violence toward nature, human communities, traditional agricultures and local economies has been constant. The bad news is coming in, literally, from all over the world. Can such an economy be fixed without being radically changed? I don’t think it can.

The Captains of Industry have always counselled the rest of us to be “realistic”. Let us, therefore, be realistic. Is it realistic to assume that the present economy would be just fine if only it would stop poisoning the air and water, or if only it would stop soil erosion, or if only it would stop degrading watersheds and forest ecosystems, or if only it would stop seducing children, or if only it would quit buying politicians, or if only it would give women and favoured minorities an equitable share of the loot? Realism, I think, is a very limited programme, but it informs us at least that we should not look for bird eggs in a cuckoo clock.

OR WE CAN SHOW the hopelessness of single-issue causes and single-issue movements by following a line of thought such as this: We need a continuous supply of uncontaminated water. Therefore, we need (among other things) soil-and-water-conserving ways of agriculture and forestry that are not dependent on monoculture, toxic chemicals, or the indifference and violence that always accompany big-scale industrial enterprises on the land.

Therefore, we need diversified, small-scale land economies that are dependent on people. Therefore, we need people with the knowledge, skills, motives and attitudes required by diversified, small-scale land economies. And all this is clear and comfortable enough, until we recognize the question we have come to: Where are the people?
Well, all of us who live in the suffering rural landscapes of the United States know that most people are available to those landscapes only recreationally. We see them bicycling or boating or hiking or camping or hunting or fishing or driving along and looking around. They do not, in Mary Austin’s phrase, “summer and winter with the land”. They are unacquainted with the land’s human and natural economies. Though people have not progressed beyond the need to eat food and drink water and wear clothes and live in houses, most people have progressed beyond the domestic arts — the husbandry and wifery of the world — by which those needful things are produced and conserved. In fact, the comparative few who still practise that necessary husbandry and wifery often are inclined to apologize for doing so, having been carefully taught in our education system that those arts are degrading and unworthy of people’s talents. Educated minds, in the modern era, are unlikely to know anything about food and drink, clothing and shelter. In merely taking these things for granted, the modern educated mind reveals itself also to be as superstitious a mind as ever has existed in the world. What could be more superstitious than the idea that money brings forth food?

I AM NOT SUGGESTING, of course, that everybody ought to be a farmer or a forester. Heaven forbid! I am suggesting that most people now are living on the far side of a broken connection, and that this is potentially catastrophic. Most people are now fed, clothed and sheltered from sources toward which they feel no gratitude and exercise no responsibility. There is no significant urban constituency, no formidable consumer lobby, no noticeable political leadership, for good land-use practices, for good farming and good forestry, for restoration of abused land, or for halting the destruction of land by so-called “development”.
We are involved now in a profound failure of imagination. Most of us cannot imagine the wheat beyond the bread, or the farmer beyond the wheat, or the farm beyond the farmer, or the history beyond the farm. Most people cannot imagine the forest and the forest economy that produced their houses and furniture and paper; or the landscapes, the streams and the weather that fill their pitchers and bathtubs and swimming pools with water. Most people appear to assume that when they have paid their money for these things they have entirely met their obligations.

Money does not bring forth food. Neither does the technology of the food system. Food comes from nature and from the work of people. If the supply of food is to be continuous for a long time, then people must work in harmony with nature. That means that people must find the right answers to a lot of hard practical questions. The same applies to forestry and the possibility of a continuous supply of timber.

One way we could describe the task ahead of us is by saying that we need to enlarge the consciousness and the conscience of the economy. Our economy needs to know — and care — what it is doing. This is revolutionary, of course, if you have a taste for revolution, but it is also a matter of common sense.

Undoubtedly some people will want to start a movement to bring this about. They probably will call it the Movement to Teach the Economy What It Is Doing — the mtewiid. Despite my very considerable uneasiness, I will agree to this, but on three conditions.

My first condition is that this movement should begin by giving up all hope and belief in piecemeal, one-shot solutions. The present scientific quest for odourless hog manure should give us sufficient proof that the specialist is no longer with us. Even now, after centuries of reductionist propaganda, the world is still intricate and vast, as dark as it is light, a place of mystery, where we cannot do one thing without doing many things, or put two things together without putting many things together. Water quality, for example, cannot be improved without improving farming and forestry, but farming and forestry cannot be improved without improving the education of consumers — and so on.

The proper business of a human economy is to make one whole thing of ourselves and this world. To make ourselves into a practical wholeness with the land under our feet is maybe not altogether possible — how would we know? — but, as a goal, it at least carries us beyond hubris, beyond the utterly groundless assumption that we can subdivide our present great failure into a thousand separate problems that can be fixed by a thousand task forces of academic and bureaucratic specialists. That programme has been given more than a fair chance to prove itself, and we ought to know by now that it won’t work.

My second condition is that the people in this movement (the mtewiid) should take full responsibility for themselves as members of the economy. If we are going to teach the economy what it is doing, then we need to learn what we are doing. This is going to have to be a private movement as well as a public one. If it is unrealistic to expect wasteful industries to be conservers, then obviously we must lead in part the public life of complainers, petitioners, protesters, advocates and supporters of stricter regulations and saner policies. But that is not enough.

If it is unreasonable to expect a bad economy to try to become a good one, then we must go to work to build a good economy. It is appropriate that this duty should fall to us, for good economic behaviour is more possible for us than it is for the great corporations with their miseducated managers and their greedy and oblivious stockholders. Because it is possible for us, we must try in every way we can to make good economic sense in our own lives, in our households, and in our communities. We must do more for ourselves and our neighbours. We must learn to spend our money with our friends and not with our enemies. But to do this it is necessary to renew local economies and revive the domestic arts.

In seeking to change our economic use of the world, we are seeking inescapably to change our lives. The outward harmony that we desire between our economy and the world depends finally upon an inward harmony between our own hearts and the originating spirit that is the life of all creatures, a spirit as near us as our flesh and yet forever beyond the measures of this obsessively measuring age. We can grow good wheat and make good bread only if we understand that we do not live by bread alone.

My third condition is that this movement should content itself to be poor. We need to find cheap solutions, solutions within the reach of everybody, and the availability of a lot of money prevents the discovery of cheap solutions. The solutions of modern medicine and modern agriculture are all staggeringly expensive, and this is caused in part, and maybe altogether, because of the availability of huge sums of money for medical and agricultural research.Too much money, moreover, attracts administrators and experts as sugar attracts ants — look at what is happening in our universities. We should not envy rich movements that are organized and led by an alternative bureaucracy living on the problems it is supposed to solve. We want a movement that is a movement because it is advanced by all its members in their daily lives.

NOW, HAVING COMPLETED this very formidable list of the problems and difficulties, fears and fearful hopes that lie ahead of us, I am relieved to see that I have been preparing myself all along to end by saying something cheerful. What I have been talking about is the possibility of renewing human respect for this Earth and all the good, useful and beautiful things that come from it. I have made it clear, I hope, that I don’t think this respect can be adequately enacted or conveyed by tipping our hats to nature or by representing natural loveliness in art or by prayers of thanksgiving or by preserving tracts of wilderness — although I recommend all those things. The respect I mean can be given only by using well the world’s goods that are given to us. This good use, which renews respect — which is the only currency, so to speak, of respect — also renews our pleasure. The callings and disciplines that I have spoken of as the domestic arts are stationed all along the way from the farm to the prepared dinner, from the forest to the dinner table, from stewardship of the land to hospitality to friends and strangers. These arts are as demanding and gratifying, as instructive and as pleasing, as the so-called “fine arts”. To learn them is, I believe, the work that is our profoundest calling. Our reward is that they will enrich our lives and make us glad.

Period pieces and pretty people

Part of the attraction of certain period pieces is being able to watch the lives of the rich, power, and privileged on-screen, even if one is not consciously aware that the kind of life they are vicariously experiencing was not available to all. Certainly, it is rare that one will see the romance and leisure of the poor depicted. The life of the lower classes are touched upon in Mansfield Park and the novels of Dickens; they may be depicted in other films and novels conveying a certain moral or social message. It seems to me that it is implicit within much of historical recreations and historical fiction that the lot of the lower classes is to be avoided if possible. I can't think of any work that shows how the humble poor truly living the Beatitudes are gathering up a treasure in heaven.

Do we envy the rich for their lifestyle and their clothing? After all, if we envy the rich who are living now, what is to prevent us from envying the rich of a different time period? The claim could be made that things and practices of the elites of the past were more elegant and graceful, and that these have been lost by the noveau riche (and the decline has been rather steep most recently). Still, do the works of Austen reinforce our sense of entitlement and exaggerated expectations of what constitutes the good life? (At least with Austen's novel the focus is on true compatability, centered in virtue.)

One is usually unaware of the cultural and economic changes that have taken place in England, for example; knowledge of these would have us understand the novels of Austen better, and how the power of the landed aristocracy was waning. One assumes that things have always been good, or that things have always been done in this way. It is easy to watch a film like Apocalypto and point to the excesses and moral atrocities of another state (or empire). But it is difficult to imagine how things could be both different and better.
Because the past is rather inaccessible, we easily end up with a limited perception of historical reality and hence a limited understanding of the present in so far as we do not adequately grasp its causes. It also seems to me that part of the inheritance of liberal culture (or English culture) is a Whiggish belief in progress over time. This is obvious in our belief that the American system as it exists now is the best ever, never mind that the building of empire is not something new, but has been manifest throughout the past 2 centuries. The inherent weaknesses in the Constitution have been there since the beginning, and have only become more apparent as oligarchs have been able to use technology and developments in economic arrangements to their advantage.
Pointing to prosperity as a proof that the system is good is a phantom argument--could not the Aztecs and the Mayans make the same claim?

"I'm not British"

"I'm an Englishman."

--Joseph Pearce (who rightfully rejects aspirations to empire, and the symbols of empire, such as the Union Jack).

I suppose I'll write an e-mail to Fr. T. to see if he can be invited to come speak on campus, perhaps not about Tolkien but about his new book, Small is Beautiful: Economics as if the Family Mattered.

Daniel Larison's review of Apocalypto


Unfortunately, all the critics have done Apocalypto a grave disservice in their emphasis on its supposedly overwhelming violence. This aspect of the film has been talked up so much that it almost convinced me, sight unseen, to not see it because the way people were describing it I came away with the impression that this was going to be something like the Chichen Itza Chainsaw Massacre. It was nothing like that, and not anywhere even close. In the last decade, we have been treated to a number of non-horror films (and undoubtedly piles of horror movies) that far exceed Apocalypto in brutality, gore and general bloodletting. Perhaps that is hardly the standard by which we should judge it, but if we are going to damn Apocalypto as being somehow exceptionally violent and gory (which, by any reasonable standard, it really isn’t) we would have to condemn Gladiator and The Passion with even more vehemence. An earlier Gibson project, We Were Soldiers Once, has such graphic injuries from napalm and shrapnel that they make the wounds in Apocalypto seem pretty ordinary. You could make an argument that war movies today are inevitably bloodier, but then this would force us to make certain allowances for Apocalypto, which contains a very small-scale war but one that is no more and no less brutal than the hack-and-slash battle scenes of Braveheart.

I hope I can watch the movie soon...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Father Cantalamessa on John the Baptist

Code: ZE06120801

Date: 2006-12-08

Father Cantalamessa on John the Baptist

Pontifical Household Preacher on Sunday's Gospel

ROME, DEC. 8, 2006 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

Second Sunday of Advent
Baruch 5:1-9; Philippians 1:4-6,8-11; Luke 3:1-6

John the Baptist: Prophet of the Most High

This Sunday's Gospel is concerned entirely with the figure of John the Baptist. From the moment of his birth John the Baptist was greeted by his father as a prophet: "And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High because you will go before the Lord to prepare the ways for him" (Luke 1:76).

What did the precursor do to be defined as a prophet, indeed, "the greatest of the prophets" (cf. Luke 7:28)? First of all, in the line of the ancient prophets of Israel, he preached against oppression and social injustice. In Sunday's Gospel we can hear him say: "He who has two tunics must give one to him who has none; and he who has something to eat must do likewise."

To the tax collectors who so often drained away the money of the poor with arbitrary requests, he says: "Do not mistreat anyone or commit extortion" (Luke 3:11-14). There are also the sayings about making the mountains low, raising up the valleys, and straightening the crooked pathways. Today we could understand them thus: "Every unjust social difference between the very rich (the mountains) and the very poor (the valleys) must be eliminated or at least reduced; the crooked roads of corruption and deception must be made straight."

Up to this point we can easily recognize our contemporary understanding of a prophet: one who pushes for change; who denounces the injustices of the system, who points his finger against power in all its forms – religious, economic, military – and dares to cry out in the face of the tyrant: "It is not right!" (Matthew 14:4).

But there is something else that John the Baptist does: He gives to the people "a knowledge of salvation, of the remission of their sins" (Luke 1:77). Where, we might ask ourselves, is the prophecy in this case? The prophets announced a future salvation; but John the Baptist does not announce a future salvation; he indicates a salvation that is now present. He is the one who points his finger toward the person and cries out: "Behold, here it is" (John 1:29). "That which was awaited for centuries and centuries is here, he is the one!" What a tremor must have passed though those present who heard John speak thus!

The traditional prophets helped their contemporaries look beyond the wall of time and see into the future, but John helps the people to look past the wall of contrary appearances to make them see the Messiah hidden behind the semblance of a man like others. The Baptist in this way inaugurated the new Christian form of prophecy, which does not consist in proclaiming a future salvation ("in the last times"), but to reveal the hidden presence of Christ in the world.

What does all of this have to say to us? That we too must hold together those two aspects of the office of prophet: On one hand working for social justice and on the other announcing the Gospel. A proclamation of Christ that is not accompanied by an effort toward human betterment would result in something disincarnate and lacking credibility. If we only worked for justice without the proclamation of faith and without the regenerative contact with the word of God, we would soon come to our limits and end up mere protestors.

From John the Baptist we also learn that proclamation of the Gospel and the struggle for justice need not remain simply juxtaposed, without a link between them. It must be precisely the Gospel of Christ that moves us to fight for respect for human beings in such a way as to make it possible for each man to "see the salvation of God." John the Baptist did not preach against abuses as a social agitator but as a herald of the Gospel "to make ready for the Lord a people well prepared" (Luke 1:17).

On Mary, Full of Grace

On Mary, Full of Grace

"God Was Captivated by Mary's Humility"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Today we celebrate one of the most beautiful and popular feasts of the Blessed Virgin -- the Immaculate Conception. Not only did Mary not commit any sin, but she was also preserved from that common inheritance of the human race which is original sin, because of the mission to which God had destined her from all eternity: to be the mother of the Redeemer.

All this is contained in the truth of the faith of the Immaculate Conception. The biblical foundation of this dogma is found in the words the Angel addressed to the maiden of Nazareth: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Luke 1:28). "Full of grace," in the Greek original "kecharitomene," is Mary's most beautiful name, the name God himself gave her to indicate that from all eternity and forever she is the beloved, the chosen one, chosen to receive the most precious gift, Jesus, "the incarnate love of God" ("Deus Caritas Est," 12).

We might ask ourselves: Why did God choose, among all women, Mary of Nazareth specifically? The answer is hidden in the unfathomable mystery of the divine will. However, there is a reason that the Gospel highlights: her humility.

Dante Alighieri underlines this in the last canto of "Paradise": "Virgin mother, daughter of your Son, humble and loftier than any other creature, fixed term of the eternal counsel" (Paradise XXXIII, 1-3). The Virgin herself in the Magnificat, her canticle of praise, says this: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord ... For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness" (Luke 1:46, 48). Yes, God was captivated by Mary's humility, who found favor in his eyes. (cf. Luke 1:30). In this way she became the Mother of God, image and model of the Church, chosen among the peoples to receive the Lord's blessing and radiate it to the whole human family.

This "blessing" is Jesus Christ himself. He is the source of "grace," of which Mary was full from the first instance of her existence. With faith she received Jesus and with love she gave him to the world. This is also our vocation and our mission, the vocation and mission of the Church: to receive Christ in our lives and give him to the world "so that the world might be saved by him" (John 3:17).

Dear Brothers and Sisters: The feast of the Immaculate Conception illuminates like a beacon the season of Advent, which is a time of vigilant and confident awaiting of the Savior. While we go out to encounter God, who comes, let us look at Mary who "shines as a sign of sure hope and of consolation for the people of God on the way" ("Lumen Gentium," 68).

With this awareness I invite you to join me in the afternoon when, in Piazza di Spagna, I will renew the traditional homage to this gentle Mother by grace and of grace. We now turn to her with the prayer that recalls the angel's announcement.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus. Today the Church celebrates the Immaculate Conception of our Lord's mother, Mary. She who was conceived without sin is a constant reminder of God's covenant with his chosen people, a promise that is fulfilled in our savior Jesus Christ.

May Christians everywhere, following the example of Mary, allow the gift of grace to bear fruit in a life of holiness. I wish you a happy feast day and a pleasant stay in Rome.

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

EW interview with Mel Gibson


PCR, America's New Economic Problem

December 02, 2006
America's New Economic Problem
By Paul Craig Roberts

Few economists have come to terms with the meaning that offshore production of goods and services has both for the US economy and for the operation of US economic policy. One of the main reasons for the rapid expansion of the US trade imbalance is offshoring. When a company closes a plant in the US and moves its production for US markets offshore, domestic production is turned into imports. Some additional impacts of offshoring are rising foreign ownership of the US stock of capital, increased payments to foreigners that result from the growth in this ownership, and pressure on the US dollar's value and role as world reserve

There is also impact on the efficacy of US economic policy tools. Traditional methods of stimulating consumer demand are now less effective. They might cause a rebound in sales, but the follow- through to domestic employment is diluted as the response to demand is met by foreign labor. There is now a large new "leakage," as increases in domestic demand are met by offshore production.

This leakage from offshore production is in addition to the traditional leakage from foreign trade. Economists have long understood that some part of rising consumer incomes during an economic recovery will be spent on imports and can result in leakage if the domestic economy is expanding more rapidly than the economies of trading partners, thus resulting in a trade deficit. With so many American brand name goods now produced offshore, a pickup in domestic demand immediately translates into jobs and wages for offshore workers. During the current economic recovery, three million US manufacturing jobs have been lost, hours worked have declined, and there has been no gain in real incomes for the vast majority of

Moreover, as US capital and technology are shifted to the employment of
labor abroad, there is less boost to US consumer demand from productivity-based
growth in real income. The effect, then, of offshoring production for US markets
is to weaken the effectiveness of traditional economic policy tools.

As official US economic reports make clear, and as Charles McMillion at MBG Information Services has emphasized, the current economic expansion has been driven primarily by US household dis-savings and by government red ink. For the sixth consecutive quarter, consumer spending has exceeded total disposable income.

There are limits to a debt-based expansion. The housing boom, which stimulated consumer spending through refinancings, has come to an end, and more households have reached their limit on credit card debt.

As the high tax rates of the pre-Reagan era no longer exist, supply-side tax rate reductions cannot deliver the punch of a quarter century ago. Easy money can encourage more debt, but households have fewer assets and income streams to mortgage. New domestic investment spending by US business weakens as cheap foreign labor draws US capital, technology and business know-how abroad. The bulk of new foreign investment in the US consists primarily of the acquisition of existing assets rather than new investments in plant and equipment. Therefore, the move abroad of US capital and technology is not offset by foreign investment in the US.

The access of US corporations to low wage foreign labor has produced an effective divergence of interests between US shareholders and US labor. With stock prices and CEO remuneration closely tied to quarterly results, there is strong pressure to move jobs offshore in order to lower labor costs and improve reported earnings.

In the past unions and managements fought over the level of wages and benefits. However, most economists believed that wages were in keeping with labor productivity. With offshored production, the large excess supplies of labor in countries such as China and India keep wages associated with offshore production below the productivity of labor.

Consequently, the measures used in the US to determine the success and tenure of corporate management and boards result in a divergence between the interests of capital and labor that favors capital.

As the large excess supplies of Asian labor are unlikely to be absorbed except over the long-run, addressing the new American economic problem would seem to require a change in the criteria used to measure corporate success.

Economists refuse to acknowledge the problem, because they believe it has protectionist implications and that nothing can be worst than protectionism. Indeed, so many economists have emotional commitments to free trade and professional commitments to globalism, that they are incapable of acknowledging that there is a problem.

As Herman Daly and I have emphasized, offshoring is not a manifestation of free trade based on comparative advantage. Offshoring is labor arbitrage or capital's pursuit of absolute advantage in low cost labor.

Moreover, the classic case for free trade has troubles of its own. The case depends on two conditions that no longer exist: the relative immobility of capital internationally, and different relative cost ratios of producing tradable goods in different countries. Today capital is as internationally mobile as traded goods, and knowledge- based production functions are not affected by climate or geographical location. Their operation is the same regardless of location. New original work in trade theory by William Baumol and Ralph Gomory challenges the correctness of the classic case for free trade even when its two conditions are met.

The longer economists wait until they address the new economic problem, the more the ladders of upward mobility in the US will be dismantled and the more political stability will drain from the US. In the 21st century, US job growth as been restricted to domestic services. The longer the growth of new US jobs is restricted to domestic services, the more difficult it will be to restore job growth in export and import-competitive sectors of the economy and the more the US will come to resemble a third world economy.

I call on economists to get their heads out of the sand and to put on their thinking caps.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Ineffabilis Deus

From Immaculate Conception Seminary:

Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church

John Henry Newman
On the Blessed Virgin Mary

article on iconographer Marek Czarnecki

Bart Anderson, Soil food web

This might be useful for aspiring gardeners and farmers:
Soil food web - opening the lid of the black box
by Bart Anderson

The 12 Step Programme for Breaking Oil Dependency - a useful tool for powerdown groups
by Rob Hopkins

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pastoral Care for Those With Same-Sex Attraction

Pastoral Care for Those With Same-Sex Attraction

Interview With Father John Harvey of Courage

NEW YORK, DEC. 7, 2006 ( The new revised guidelines of the U.S. bishops on persons with homosexual tendencies reflects updated findings in psychology, says an expert in the treatment of same-sex attractions.

Father John Harvey, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, is director of Courage International, a spiritual support system for Catholic homosexual persons who desire to live a chaste life.

The bishops' document, "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care," mentions Courage and its partner organization for parents, Encourage, as examples of ministries whose principles are in accord with Church teaching.

In this interview with ZENIT, Father Harvey shared his views of the revised guidelines issued Nov. 14.

Q: How does the bishops' new document differ from previous documents on pastoral care of those with same-sex attraction?

Father Harvey: The document is a definite improvement from the 1997 document "Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers." That document was written in a way that it could be assumed that there are two orientations: heterosexual and homosexual.

The fact of the matter is that there is only one orientation, the heterosexual orientation. The homosexual tendency is an objective disorder, and if a person has this objective disorder, it is because other things have happened.

From all the psychological studies of homosexuality, there is no scientific evidence that you are born with the homosexual tendency. There is no evidence. In the future it might be that someone proves scientifically that some people are born as homosexuals, I doubt such would happen, but it might happen.

In the present state of scientific knowledge, however, this is no evidence that homosexuality is a condition, that it is passed down through a particular homosexual gene or is caused by a certain hormone. From what we know today, the main factors leading to a homosexual tendency all have to do with environment: family environment, school environment, adolescent environment.

Q: This document takes pains to note that same-sex attraction does not mean the person is objectively disordered, only that the inclination is disordered. Was there a widespread misconception of the Church's view on this point?

Father Harvey: In the document itself, they distinguish between the inclination and the person, and confers on the person with the disorder the dignity that God confers on all persons.

Same-sex attraction is not normal. The disorder is a subrational inclination of the person. People with homosexual tendencies suffer with these desires.

And not all persons with homosexual tendencies are alike. Studies indicate that of those who have homosexual desires there are those who have the homosexual desires, but are able to control them. There are also those who have the desires, and are actually able to come out of the condition, to find the opposite sex attractive, to marry and to have children.

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, founder of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, in Encino, California, says it best when he says that there are no homosexuals, just heterosexuals with a homosexual tendency.

The big difference in this document and previous ones is that we know much more about the origins, and much more about treatment than years ago.

The most important person in this regard is Elizabeth Moberly, who in 1984 published "Psychogenesis: The Early Development of Gender Identity." It's only 100 pages, but it revolutionized the therapy we use with homosexual people in that she shows that the homosexual tendency can be overcome.

Our goal at Courage is not to take homosexuals out of their condition, but that they be chaste. Many people have not been able to come out, but they have been able to live chaste lives.

Q: The document emphasizes that those with same-sex attraction need to be trained in the virtues. This seems to indicate that the people in question should be encouraged to think of themselves as protagonists who can change their situation. Is that a fair assessment?

Father Harvey: It used to be that if you had these deep-seated inclinations, you couldn't do anything. Now it's different.

For people who are willing to take therapy for a period of time, some are able to free their natural inclination to the opposite sex. And they even marry and have children.

Through group therapy, you develop virtues by which you learn to form good friendships. These friendships are ruled by the love of Christ, and are honest relationships with people that do not take you from God. It is more spiritual.

Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York asked me when we initiated this project to teach people how to be chaste. That is what we do, and it's not easy to do that.

At times it is what I call "white knuckled" chastity. It's called that because often that inclination is there constantly, and the person is constantly struggling. Through therapy and through our program the individual is often able to bring these desires under control, and he or she can be chaste, even though they still have these inclinations.

We also focus on living life according to Roman Catholic teaching, which means that one must develop a prayer life. This means Mass more than once a week, rosary, spiritual reading, spiritual direction and doing acts of charity on their day off.

Our program shows what can be done. We can't shortchange God's grace. I can't talk about success, only God can talk about success.

Q: The bishops point out that the Church doesn't refuse baptism to children in the care of same-sex couples, so long as there is hope that the little ones will be brought up in the faith. In practice, is this a realistic expectation? How could a same-sex couple seriously bring up a child in the faith?

Father Harvey: I read this passage over carefully, and the conclusion that I drew is that baptism can still be refused, unless there is a well-founded reason to lead one to believe that the child will actually be raised Catholic. For example, maybe there are grandparents or a sister who could take responsibility for the child's Catholic education.

I found it difficult to see how a same-sex couple can manage to raise a child themselves, without outside help, and have that child receive a Catholic upbringing.

Whoever is the bishop or priest that must make that decision really has to inquire if they will be able to provide that child with an authentically Catholic upbringing. And it could be possible if they have a sister or brother who can help them out, or let their children go to Catholic school.

In most cases, however, most same-sex couples will say, "No thanks, we don't want to do that."

Q: The document emphasizes that spiritual direction with a priest is a primary means of helping someone with same-sex attraction. Given the large number of people who might need special attention, and the relatively small number of priests, how would this work?

Father Harvey: This is an example in which something is said and it's pretty difficult to carry it out.

But as the document says, it doesn't have to be a priest; there are many good psychologists and psychiatrists out there who could help a person with homosexual tendencies.

Also, the bishops mention Courage in a footnote. This is another option. What can happen is that people with a background in Courage could help others, as well as someone who is actively involved in Courage and leading a good life could reach out to others to help them.

Fr. Cantalamessa on the Immaculate Conception

"Mary Is a Model Who Works With Us and in Us"

ROME, DEC. 7, 2006 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raneiro Cantalamessa, on liturgical readings for the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

* * *

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38
"Chosen to Be Holy and Immaculate"

So that we see how the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is not simply a celebration of the privileges of Mary but touches us and involves us in a profound way, we have to understand it in the light of the words of Paul in the second reading: "God the Father chose us in Jesus Christ before the creation of the world, to be holy and immaculate in his sight in charity."

We are all, therefore, called to be holy and immaculate; it is our truest destiny; God's project for us. A little later, in the same Letter to the Ephesians, Paul contemplates this plan of God, no longer regarding it as applicable to men taken individually, everyone for himself, but as applicable to the universal Church, Bride of Christ: "Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her to sanctify her, purifying her with baptism and the word, because he wanted her to appear in splendor, without blemish or wrinkle but holy and immaculate" (Ephesians 5:25-27).

A human race holy and immaculate -- this is God's great purpose in creating the Church. A human race that can finally appear before him, that need not flee from his presence, its countenance disfigured by shame, as Adam and Eve after the sin. A human race that, above all, he can love and draw into communion with him, through his Son in the Holy Spirit.

In this universal design of God, what does the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which we celebrate today, represent? The liturgy responds to this question in the preface of today's Mass when, turning to God, it sings: "In her you designated the beginning of the Church, Bride of Christ without blemish or wrinkle. ... You predestined her above every creature to be an advocate of grace and a model of holiness for your people."

This, therefore, is what we celebrate in Mary today: the beginning of the Church, the first fulfillment of God's design. She is the one in whom there is a promise and guarantee that the whole plan will be accomplished. "Nothing is impossible with God!" Mary is the proof of this. In her there already shines forth all the future splendor of the Church, as, on a peaceful morning, the azure countenance of the sky is reflected in a single dew drop. And it is also for this above all that Mary is called "Mother of the Church."

However, Mary is not only she who stands behind us, at the beginning of the Church. She also stands before us as "model of holiness for the people of God." We are not born immaculate as, by a singular privilege bestowed by God, she was born; indeed, evil settles into us in every fiber and in every form. We are full of "wrinkles" that must be made smooth and "blemishes" that must be washed away. It is in connection with this work of purification and recovery of the image of God that Mary stands before us as a powerful reminder.

The liturgy speaks of her as a "model of holiness." The image is correct, provided that we move beyond human analogies. Our Lady is not like human models, who pose and remain still so that they can be painted by an artist. Mary is a model who works with us and in us, who guides our hand as we trace the outlines of the model par excellence, Jesus Christ, so that we might be "conformed to his image" (Romans 8:29).

She is "advocate of grace" before she is model of holiness. Devotion to Mary, when it is enlightened and ecclesial, does not really draw believers away from the one Mediator, but brings them to him. Those who have had a true and authentic experience of Mary in their lives know that it brings them to the Gospel and to a deeper knowledge of Christ. She stands before all Christians always repeating what she said at Cana: "Do whatever he tells you."

[Translation by ZENIT]

Missionaries of "Lectio Divina" Being Formed

Code: ZE06120703

Date: 2006-12-07

Missionaries of "Lectio Divina" Being Formed

BOGOTA, Colombia, DEC. 7, 2006 ( The Latin American bishops' council has helped form 106 new youthful missionaries of "lectio divina" -- sacred reading of Scripture -- for Mexico and Central America.

CELAM's Pastoral Biblical Center for Latin America joined with the United Bible Societies in the project, which aims to form 10,000 such missionaries.

Under the agreement, a second formation workshop of national leaders was held in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, from Nov. 17-20, in which national leaders from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua took part.

Priests from the respective countries also took part to learn about the project, with an eye toward supporting the young missionaries in their respective nations.

The Tegucigalpa workshop was supported by Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, the diocese's archbishop.

Inspiration for the project came from Benedict XVI's letter for World Youth Day on Palm Sunday of this year: "I urge you to become familiar with the Bible, and to have it at hand so that it can be your compass pointing out the road to follow."

A suggestion for season 4 of the new Who

Let's make the entire season about 2 Doctors, Paul McGann

and David Tennant.

This would give the 8th Doctor more exposure, something he deserves since the Doctor Who movie wasn't that great. Since the 8th Doctor will look a bit older, we can focus on...


Those who have been watching the new series will know that the Time Wars was a catastrophic event for the universe, resulting in the extinction of both the Daleks and the Time Lords (and the destruction of Gallifrey). No more Romana? No more Valeyard? No more Master? (Of course the fate of the Master had already been decided in the movie, or so it seemed.)

Since sci-fi isn't bound to reality, what's to say that there isn't some sort of gimmick that could be used to bring the Time Lords (and possibly the daleks, although apparently one did escape at the end of last season)... and maybe Davros? Since the storyarc will last a whole season, various characters could be brought in for an episode or too. Heck, if they focus on the Time Wars they could even bring back Christopher Eccleston in a guest shot (if he's interested). A possibility of the Doctor rekindling his romance with Romana?

Sure, there is the 'rule' on how what has happened can't be changed. But what if the Time Lords could be brought back somehow? The Time Lords somehow disappeared but were not destroyed... isn't that what science fiction writing is about, turning the impossible into the plausible? Would this not be a temptation for the Doctor? Or perhaps something that that plays on his guilt? Or even a foreshadowing of tendencies that will become manifest when he turns in to the Valeyard? We could explore the psychology of the Doctor even further.

Or maybe it would be the Master who wants to bring the Time Lords back, for his own nefarious reasons, adding a twist to the storyline. And the Doctor opposes him, but is conflicted.

What are some possibilities: alternate universe (though this has already been done and suggested), different dimension, e-space, being imprisoned by another enemy greater than the daleks, or by an enemy from the past (Omega).

We are still waiting for the secret of the Face of Boe...

From the official FAQ:
Are the Time Lords really dead?

The Doctor is the last of the Time Lords. We've no details of any other survivors, including the Master, Susan, The Rani, Romana or Chancellor Flavia. Please don't email us about this. Please.

What exactly happened in the Time War?

That's a story which hasn't yet been revealed.

If enough fans push for this story, perhaps it can be done... (and let's try not to complain about Russell T. Davies and be positive instead). Perhaps something similar has already been pitched at the Outpost Gallifrey forum.

I think Paul McGann's Victorian? look would go well with David Tennant's 60s/00s look.

Certainly there will be a lot of brown.

BBC photo gallery for the 8th doctor
David Tennant

New Curse of the Golden Flower stills

more at Movies.IGN

As one can tell, the Tang were a little bit more relaxed (or "less puritanical") than the Ming and Qing. Btw, I think Gong Li is prettier than Zhang Zi Yi.

the latest trailer; official website

Apocalypto featurette at AICN

for vids in various formats, go here

Flee to The Fields

Flee to The Fields: The Founding Papers of the Catholic Land Movement

The Deliberate Agrarian and Dry Creek Chronicles both have blog entries on this book.

See also the Deliberate Agrarian's post, "C. F. Marley: The Elder Agrarian," which, in addition to discussing Mr. Marley, mentions the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.

St. Ambrose of Milan, December 7

Info on St. Ambrose of Milan
Catholic Encyclopedia
Crossroads Initiative

Some of his writings
On the Christian Faith (De fide)
On the Holy Spirit
On the Mysteries
On the Duties of the Clergy
Concerning Virgins
Concerning Widows

more at New Advent

Icon by Cheryl Pituch.

Aidan Hart

(From Mark and Minyoung's Wedding Webpage

The Nuptial Mass will be said according to the liturgical books of 1962, in the ancient ecclesiastical tongue, Latin, by a priest of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, an order of priests founded by the late Pope John Paul II.

And the Nuptial Mass is being celebrated at Our Saviour in NYC! Check out this pic!)

mosaic of St. Ambrose and page; larger size

A beautiful icon from St. Ambrose Orthodox Church

On the Ambrosian Rite
Traditional Ambrosian Rite - Milan, Italy
Ordo Missae Ambrosianum
YouTube - Solemn High Ambrosian Rite Mass part9/15
Traditional Ambrosian Rite Liturgy, Rome
Ambrosian Breviary - Part I
PIAMS page
The New Liturgical Movement: Ambrosian rite and liturgical diversity
An overview of the Rites of the Catholic Church
Ambrosian Chant - Home Page
Ambrosian Chant (wiki)
Free Music

Today is also the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
National Geographic Remembering Pearl Harbor
USS Arizona National Memorial
Welcome to Navy Region Hawaii
Global Security page on Pearl Harbor

Korea Times review of World of Silence


Guess I'll skip this one.

Taiwanese Star in Korea to Promote New Gangster Film

Taiwanese Star in Korea to Promote New Gangster Film
Taiwanese actress Shu Qi (30) is in the country to promote the Dec. 28 release of her new film “My Wife Is a Gangster 3.” She is the sole lead in the third installment of the series, which made it to the top of the box office in Hong Kong as well as Korea. The actress reported the Korean Wave is still being felt in Hong Kong, adding it was an honor to be cast as the lead in her first appearance in a Korean film.

Shu Qi became known in Korea for her work in “City of Glass” (1998) with Leon Lai and her role in the Hou Hsiao-hsien film “Three Times” (2005). In 1996 she appeared alongside Leslie Cheung in “Viva Erotica” in a role that won her Best New Performer and Best Supporting Actress at the 16th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards. In “My Wife is a Gangster 3” she plays the heir to an organized crime empire in Hong Kong that has been forced to temporarily flee to Korea following a power struggle back home. Opposite her in the film is Lee Beom-soo, who steps forward as her protector not knowing her identity and himself is a “No 3” in a domestic organized crime syndicate.

Even though it was hard communicating with her fellow actor, it wasn’t all that critical, she says. Lee was “like a big brother,” she said, and whenever they were not shooting he would seek her out to go and eat together. When it was cold he would offer her some of his clothing. Asked if being put up for comparison with actress Shin Eun-kyung, who formerly played the role, was a burden, she said, “To say that I didn’t ever think about it would be a lie.” The two stars both have shown their tough sides, like when they battle 50 men with a sword in each hand, but their style in love is a little different. “While Shin Eun-kyung loves in a tough way, like a gangster, I show both softness and toughness at the same time,” Shu said.

She has been told thousands of times that she is sexy, and it is hard to tell which character is closer to real her: the sexy woman from “Viva Erotica” or the pure and innocent girl in sporty clothes from “City of Glass.” “In reality, I’m so conservative that I even feel embarrassed when I see other actresses wearing sexy clothes on TV.” When someone reminded her that she has been in the business for 10 years and has been in more than 150 films, she looked surprised and her eyes widened. Time has flown, and she did not even know how she had already shot so many, she admitted.

Already Shu has appeared in four films this year. “From now on, I want to take my time selecting films,” she promises.

( )

Uh... yuck. She may not be as bad as certain American celebrities... but... she isn't free from scandal. I find her characters to be annoying usually. Can she pull off being a tough gangster? I suppose she played tough in Too Close, but it's called acting for a reason. Just another facet of the Asian entertainment industry's obsession with heroines who can kick @$$, even if the actresses lack the physique and strength to do it in real life.

“In reality, I’m so conservative that I even feel embarrassed when I see other actresses wearing sexy clothes on TV.”

Wow. Given the movies that she's done and other things, this seems to be just a lie. Maybe she said it for the benefit of Korean society.

It is unfortunate that My Wife is a Gangster 2 was so bad--I like Shin Eun-kyung, and it's understandable that she would not want to do the role again.

Dave Pollard, Jeff Vail's "A Theory of Power"

Last month, I wrote a post on Jeff Vail. Mr. Pollard offers a summary of Mr. Vail's views.

  • So: if we are now becoming slaves to the machine-powered perpetuation of memes that are outgrowing their need for us (to the point that although catastrophic global warming and human extinction now seem inevitable, this is not something our meme-culture 'cares' about) can we, the human slaves, thanks to the genetic and memetic evolution of self-awareness, 'liberate' ourselves and defeat the meme-culture before it destroys us? In other words, can we consciously, collectively take control for the first time over power-relationships, and establish new power-relationships that put the genetic survival of the human race (and, hopefully, the survival of all other life on Earth on which that genetic survival depends) ahead of the reckless survival of the Frankenstein 'civilization' culture we have created?
Vail's answer to this final question is a qualified 'yes'. He argues that the way to establish power-relationships that put our genes' interest ahead of memes' is to "confront hierarchy with its opposite -- rhizome -- a web-like structure of connected but independent nodes", borrowing from successful models in nature of such structures. The working units (nodes) of this 'revolutionary' structure are self-sufficient, egalitarian communities, and the concept of 'ownership' in such communities is eliminated to prevent the reemergence of hierarchy.

Rhizome-based structures need to be developed and then institutionalized from the bottom up to replace hierarchical ones, Vail argues, in all areas of our society -- social, political, economic, educational etc. to entrench the power and sustainability of self-sufficient communities and render them invulnerable to re-expropriation of that power by hierarchies. In practical terms, he says:
Power remains distributed to the level of the individual rhizome node through local, functional self-sufficiency—a modern equivalent to the Domestic Mode of Production. In other words, functional self-sufficiency means the ability to produce at the household level at least the minimum necessities for day-to-day existence without relying on outside agents or resources. Self-sufficiency removes the individual rhizome node from dependence on the standard set of outside suppliers. It does not eliminate exchange, but creates a situation where any exchange exists as a voluntary activity. The commodities that each node must provide for itself include staple foodstuffs, energy for heating, basic habitat and small group interaction.
Self-sufficient energy coops, and local permaculture-based food movements are examples of rhizome structures. Such networks are also the most effective means for the dissemination of information on how to make rhizome activities even more effective -- they have much less signal loss than hierarchical methods that require information to flow up and then down controlled and constricted paths. Rhizomes are also, while less 'efficient', more effective and more resilient than hierarchies.

Next, Vail argues that, once established, to defend against attacks from vestiges of hierarchical systems, rhizome networks need to adopt asymmetrical methods -- by reducing the desire of hierarchy to re-achieve power (e.g. by making it difficult or unrewarding to do so on its own terms) and by becoming 'invisible' to the hierarchy (e.g. dropping out quietly and not taking part in the hierarchy's social, political and economic activities). Vail concludes:
A new vision, with individual freedom to pursue arts and spirituality, above the pettiness of bickering for power, may prove possible if we learn to control the powers that have dominated us throughout history. In the spirit of this vision, the message will ultimately fail if forced upon others. Only through personal example, by showing that a realistic and preferable alternative exists, will these concepts succeed on a large scale. We will act as pioneers, who will begin to create diverse rhizome nodes, each one representing an individual’s struggle to solve the problems of hierarchy and human ontogeny. The more we learn and break free from the control of genes and memes, the more success these pioneers will have. Effective tools and practices will spread, and the rhizome network will grow and strengthen. As this network evolves, it will provide a realistic, implementable alternative to hierarchy—an alternative that fulfills our genetic ontogeny and empowers us as individuals. Nature has shown us that the structure of the rhizome can compete with hierarchy and stratification. When combined with an understanding of reality and humanity that makes us our own masters, we may finally learn from the events of the past…and gain control of our future.

This is entirely consistent with the approach I have been arguing for -- the bottom-up creation of a combination of working models of (a) self-sufficient, sustainable (probably polyamory) egalitarian intentional communities operating under Gift Economy principles, (b) natural enterprises and (c) peer-to-peer information and organization networks.

The concern many have expressed about models like Vail's and mine is how to scale them up -- how to get them to the 'tipping point' at which, like viruses, they start spreading quickly and supplant the old hierarchical ones. One approach Vail mentions is Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZs, or 'pirate utopias'). Bey's zones are based on the principles of (a) 30-50 person 'bands' replacing families (Bey quotes Gide: "Families, how I hate them! The misers of love!"), (b) a continuous 'festival' culture of conviviality, abundance, sharing, celebration, and joy and (c) no private ownership.

I really like the idea of a festival culture. Bey sees the zones as temporary (nomadic, to prevent their being attacked by the prevailing hierarchical culture). Vail says they will only be needed "until the size of the rhizome network provides enough power" to sustain them.

Polyamory??? So egalitarian also requires freedom from unequal power relationships, like one finds between man and wife? (I assume that this is the implicit assessment.) Unless it's just plain licentiousness, but I suspect that there is an argument for it.

As for festivity, one can read Joseph Pieper's In Tune With the World: A Theory of Festivity.