Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Pursuit of Happyness

Where to begin...

Will Smith does a decent job in the movie, as others have remarked--he's not playing the Fresh Prince of Bel Air here.

It is supposedly based on the life of Chris Gardner, who started his career as a stock broker at Dean Whitter Reynolds and went on to start his own brokerage firm Gardner Rich in 1987. Here is the original book (wiki).

I wonder if the gentleman Will Smith passes by at the end of the movie is Chris Gardner doing a cameo. It is! Look at the picture of Chris Garnder and compare with the man in the film; it's the same person. Another photo:

Was Mr. Gardner very fortunate? Yes. He had the opportunity to climb out of poverty and be "successful," but only by becoming a part of the same system that is the cause of the social and economic evils seen in the film--homelessness, unemployment, and so own. It is only because he had the relevant skills that could be put to service of that economy that he had the opportunity. Shall we say that hard work only is enough for anyone? And if so, does the implication that all of the poor are responsible for their plight hold? What then of those who have been made obsolete by the system, who do not have skills that can be of use, or cannot acquire new ones? What of them? "Let them be employees of the service economy."

One could ask what Mr. Gardner's understanding of happyness is, and how it fits with a 'classical' or Catholic understanding of eudaimonia and beatitudo. Certainly he possesses many qualities of character that are admirable, as is his devotion to his family, particularly his son. I don't know how I would handle being in his situation, even as I try to see if Lady Poverty waits for me in the future. Not a happy prospect indeed, as she will not be there because I've decided to be a monk.

One notes that in the movie Mr. Gardner realizes that his job of selling medical equipment that is expensive and not necessary is not going anywhere. And yet how many jobs like that exist in this economy? Without continued technological innovation and obsolence (preplanned or otherwise), what would happen to our design and manufacturing jobs?
What do we say of an economy in which most people have 0 chance of being economically independent, and must sell their labor to others?

The movie is meant to be inspirational/motivational, feel-good, but it had none of those effects on me... because it is true to life its portrayal of life in the early '80s undermines its own message.

Glide Memorial and Rev. Cecil Wiliams have prominent cameos in the movie. I remember making a trip there while I was in high school for an Interact outing.

Yahoo movies page for The Pursuit of Happyness

Great stuff at NLM

Scans of 2 books by Dom Cabrol:

Liturgical Prayer: Its History and Spirit by Dom Fernand Cabrol
The Mass, its doctrine, its history : the story of the Mass in pen and picture by Dom Fernand Cabrol

The Dominican O Antiphons
Recordings and meditations at Godzdogz -- Watcher you should check this out especially.

Trailer for Die Hard sequel

at Yahoo... via AICN

I think there is a shot of Bruce Willis with a UMP in the trailer; Maggie Q is playing a villain?

More on the proposed animated ST series

here, via AICN

The uniform designs are alright, slightly modified versions of what we've seen in TNG, DS-9 and Voyager. But the character designs... I know some like the animated Batman series, but I prefer character designs that are either more realistic, or done by Asians...

William Tighe, Calculating Christmas

Calculating Christmas

William J. Tighe on the Story Behind December 25

Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Son” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance.

A Mistake

The idea that the date was taken from the pagans goes back to two scholars from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Paul Ernst Jablonski, a German Protestant, wished to show that the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25th was one of the many “paganizations” of Christianity that the Church of the fourth century embraced, as one of many “degenerations” that transformed pure apostolic Christianity into Catholicism. Dom Jean Hardouin, a Benedictine monk, tried to show that the Catholic Church adopted pagan festivals for Christian purposes without paganizing the gospel.

In the Julian calendar, created in 45 B.C. under Julius Caesar, the winter solstice fell on December 25th, and it therefore seemed obvious to Jablonski and Hardouin that the day must have had a pagan significance before it had a Christian one. But in fact, the date had no religious significance in the Roman pagan festal calendar before Aurelian’s time, nor did the cult of the sun play a prominent role in Rome before him.

There were two temples of the sun in Rome, one of which (maintained by the clan into which Aurelian was born or adopted) celebrated its dedication festival on August 9th, the other of which celebrated its dedication festival on August 28th. But both of these cults fell into neglect in the second century, when eastern cults of the sun, such as Mithraism, began to win a following in Rome. And in any case, none of these cults, old or new, had festivals associated with solstices or equinoxes.

As things actually happened, Aurelian, who ruled from 270 until his assassination in 275, was hostile to Christianity and appears to have promoted the establishment of the festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” as a device to unify the various pagan cults of the Roman Empire around a commemoration of the annual “rebirth” of the sun. He led an empire that appeared to be collapsing in the face of internal unrest, rebellions in the provinces, economic decay, and repeated attacks from German tribes to the north and the Persian Empire to the east.

In creating the new feast, he intended the beginning of the lengthening of the daylight, and the arresting of the lengthening of darkness, on December 25th to be a symbol of the hoped-for “rebirth,” or perpetual rejuvenation, of the Roman Empire, resulting from the maintenance of the worship of the gods whose tutelage (the Romans thought) had brought Rome to greatness and world-rule. If it co-opted the Christian celebration, so much the better.

A By-Product

It is true that the first evidence of Christians celebrating December 25th as the date of the Lord’s nativity comes from Rome some years after Aurelian, in A.D. 336, but there is evidence from both the Greek East and the Latin West that Christians attempted to figure out the date of Christ’s birth long before they began to celebrate it liturgically, even in the second and third centuries. The evidence indicates, in fact, that the attribution of the date of December 25th was a by-product of attempts to determine when to celebrate his death and resurrection.

How did this happen? There is a seeming contradiction between the date of the Lord’s death as given in the synoptic Gospels and in John’s Gospel. The synoptics would appear to place it on Passover Day (after the Lord had celebrated the Passover Meal on the preceding evening), and John on the Eve of Passover, just when the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Jerusalem Temple for the feast that was to ensue after sunset on that day.

Solving this problem involves answering the question of whether the Lord’s Last Supper was a Passover Meal, or a meal celebrated a day earlier, which we cannot enter into here. Suffice it to say that the early Church followed John rather than the synoptics, and thus believed that Christ’s death would have taken place on 14 Nisan, according to the Jewish lunar calendar. (Modern scholars agree, by the way, that the death of Christ could have taken place only in A.D. 30 or 33, as those two are the only years of that time when the eve of Passover could have fallen on a Friday, the possibilities being either 7 April 30 or 3 April 33.)

However, as the early Church was forcibly separated from Judaism, it entered into a world with different calendars, and had to devise its own time to celebrate the Lord’s Passion, not least so as to be independent of the rabbinic calculations of the date of Passover. Also, since the Jewish calendar was a lunar calendar consisting of twelve months of thirty days each, every few years a thirteenth month had to be added by a decree of the Sanhedrin to keep the calendar in synchronization with the equinoxes and solstices, as well as to prevent the seasons from “straying” into inappropriate months.

Apart from the difficulty Christians would have had in following—or perhaps even being accurately informed about—the dating of Passover in any given year, to follow a lunar calendar of their own devising would have set them at odds with both Jews and pagans, and very likely embroiled them in endless disputes among themselves. (The second century saw severe disputes about whether Pascha had always to fall on a Sunday or on whatever weekday followed two days after 14 Artemision/Nisan, but to have followed a lunar calendar would have made such problems much worse.)

These difficulties played out in different ways among the Greek Christians in the eastern part of the empire and the Latin Christians in the western part of it. Greek Christians seem to have wanted to find a date equivalent to 14 Nisan in their own solar calendar, and since Nisan was the month in which the spring equinox occurred, they chose the 14th day of Artemision, the month in which the spring equinox invariably fell in their own calendar. Around A.D. 300, the Greek calendar was superseded by the Roman calendar, and since the dates of the beginnings and endings of the months in these two systems did not coincide, 14 Artemision became April 6th.

In contrast, second-century Latin Christians in Rome and North Africa appear to have desired to establish the historical date on which the Lord Jesus died. By the time of Tertullian they had concluded that he died on Friday, 25 March 29. (As an aside, I will note that this is impossible: 25 March 29 was not a Friday, and Passover Eve in A.D. 29 did not fall on a Friday and was not on March 25th, or in March at all.)

Integral Age

So in the East we have April 6th, in the West, March 25th. At this point, we have to introduce a belief that seems to have been widespread in Judaism at the time of Christ, but which, as it is nowhere taught in the Bible, has completely fallen from the awareness of Christians. The idea is that of the “integral age” of the great Jewish prophets: the idea that the prophets of Israel died on the same dates as their birth or conception.

This notion is a key factor in understanding how some early Christians came to believe that December 25th is the date of Christ’s birth. The early Christians applied this idea to Jesus, so that March 25th and April 6th were not only the supposed dates of Christ’s death, but of his conception or birth as well. There is some fleeting evidence that at least some first- and second-century Christians thought of March 25th or April 6th as the date of Christ’s birth, but rather quickly the assignment of March 25th as the date of Christ’s conception prevailed.

It is to this day, commemorated almost universally among Christians as the Feast of the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel brought the good tidings of a savior to the Virgin Mary, upon whose acquiescence the Eternal Word of God (“Light of Light, True God of True God, begotten of the Father before all ages”) forthwith became incarnate in her womb. What is the length of pregnancy? Nine months. Add nine months to March 25th and you get December 25th; add it to April 6th and you get January 6th. December 25th is Christmas, and January 6th is Epiphany.

Christmas (December 25th) is a feast of Western Christian origin. In Constantinople it appears to have been introduced in 379 or 380. From a sermon of St. John Chrysostom, at the time a renowned ascetic and preacher in his native Antioch, it appears that the feast was first celebrated there on 25 December 386. From these centers it spread throughout the Christian East, being adopted in Alexandria around 432 and in Jerusalem a century or more later. The Armenians, alone among ancient Christian churches, have never adopted it, and to this day celebrate Christ’s birth, manifestation to the magi, and baptism on January 6th.

Western churches, in turn, gradually adopted the January 6th Epiphany feast from the East, Rome doing so sometime between 366 and 394. But in the West, the feast was generally presented as the commemoration of the visit of the magi to the infant Christ, and as such, it was an important feast, but not one of the most important ones—a striking contrast to its position in the East, where it remains the second most important festival of the church year, second only to Pascha (Easter).

In the East, Epiphany far outstrips Christmas. The reason is that the feast celebrates Christ’s baptism in the Jordan and the occasion on which the Voice of the Father and the Descent of the Spirit both manifested for the first time to mortal men the divinity of the Incarnate Christ and the Trinity of the Persons in the One Godhead.

A Christian Feast

Thus, December 25th as the date of the Christ’s birth appears to owe nothing whatsoever to pagan influences upon the practice of the Church during or after Constantine’s time. It is wholly unlikely to have been the actual date of Christ’s birth, but it arose entirely from the efforts of early Latin Christians to determine the historical date of Christ’s death.

And the pagan feast which the Emperor Aurelian instituted on that date in the year 274 was not only an effort to use the winter solstice to make a political statement, but also almost certainly an attempt to give a pagan significance to a date already of importance to Roman Christians. The Christians, in turn, could at a later date re-appropriate the pagan “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” to refer, on the occasion of the birth of Christ, to the rising of the “Sun of Salvation” or the “Sun of Justice.”

The author refers interested readers to Thomas J. Talley’s The Origins of the Liturgical Year (The Liturgical Press). A draft of this article appeared on the listserve Virtuosity.

William J. Tighe is Associate Professor of History at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a faculty advisor to the Catholic Campus Ministry. He is a Member of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.

Smooth Saturday

I called the New Scot's phone number last night--the message box was full, so I couldn't leave a message, and he hasn't responded to my last email. I don't like sending e-cards, so if you are reading this New Scot, please send me your address!

This morning I went to the post office to mail our some packages... the total expense for postage wasn't so bad... I hope none of them are lost though, especially since I sent some by media rate. The postal clerk... well... he was tossing the packages into the bin; I hope none of the contents were damaged. Blah. It's a bit lazy and inconsiderate. I did include some bubble wrap for some of them, but not for all... I hope the wrap cushioned the blow.

An older lady had used priority labels and tape for her packages, even though she was planning on sending them media rate. Um. The labels and tape say 'Priority Mail' for a reason. So her clerk was trying to blot out all of the instances of priority on the packages, using a pen for the label and blank labels to cover up the tape. Really... some people are just clueless when it comes to what they should expect from a 'service.' You think they would have a little bit more sense (and consideration--it is the holiday season after all, and there were plenty of people in line, instead of presuming upon the postal clerk to help her out). It's like those 9-11 phone calls Jay Leno plays occasionally, with people calling 9-11 for the wrong reasons--asking the dispatcher how to cook a turkey, and so on.
And these people have the power to vote?

Today the Philosopher was listening to a radio show with Monica ____; her guest was Dick Morris, who was discussing Hilary Rodham Clinton and B. Obama. The philosopher mentioned how young people were expected to turn out the vote for Kerry through their cell phones and so on, but they didn't show up at the polling places in the numbers that were hoped for by the Democrats. As it is, I consider voting to be a very weak form of participation in politics... in this country it's practically nonsensical, since one has no real acquaintance with the candidates. But there are some voters who nonetheless lack the judgment to elect the ministers of the common good...

I'll start packing this afternoon; I should be flying out on Monday morning around 8. I'll be going back to CA for a week and then on to Arizona for 5 or 6 days, then back to CA for a short period. (Not sure how long yet.) Later I should be meeting up with Fujian Gal for dinner in Chinatown and then maybe a movie, if she is in the mood for it. On Monday she finds out if she keeps her job or not, as Pfizer is in downsizing mood. (Eh, pharmaceutical companies...) Please keep her in your prayers!

We will probably be seeing The Pursuit of Happyness, not really my kind of movie, but it's one she wants to see. I'll have to watch Apocalypto some other time...

Meditations, Book 4
Either it is a well-arranged universe or a chaos huddled together, but still a universe. But can a certain order subsist in thee, and disorder in the All? And this too when all things are so
separated and diffused and sympathetic.


Love the art, poor as it may be, which thou hast learned, and be content with it; and pass through the rest of life like one who has intrusted to the gods with his whole soul all that he has, making thyself neither the tyrant nor the slave of any man.

Consider, for example, the times of Vespasian. Thou wilt see all these things, people marrying, bringing up children, sick, dying, warring, feasting, trafficking, cultivating the ground, flattering, obstinately arrogant, suspecting, plotting, wishing for some to die, grumbling about the present, loving, heaping up treasure, desiring counsulship, kingly power. Well then, that life of these people no longer exists at all. Again, remove to the times of Trajan. Again, all is the same. Their life too is gone. In like manner view also the other epochs of time and of whole nations, and see how many after great efforts soon fell and were resolved into the elements. But chiefly thou shouldst think of those whom thou hast thyself known distracting themselves about idle things, neglecting to do what was in accordance with their proper constitution, and to hold firmly to this and to be content with it. And herein it is necessary to remember that the attention given to everything has its proper value and proportion. For thus thou wilt not be dissatisfied, if thou appliest thyself to smaller matters no further than is fit.

The words which were formerly familiar are now antiquated: so also the names of those who were famed of old, are now in a manner antiquated, Camillus, Caeso, Volesus, Leonnatus, and a little after also Scipio and Cato, then Augustus, then also Hadrian and Antoninus. For all things soon pass away and become a mere tale, and complete oblivion soon buries them. And I say this of those who have shone in a wondrous way. For the rest, as soon as they have breathed out their breath, they are gone, and no man speaks of them. And, to conclude the matter, what is even an eternal remembrance? A mere nothing. What then is that about which we ought to employ our serious pains? This one thing, thoughts just, and acts social, and words which never lie, and a disposition which gladly accepts all that happens, as necessary, as usual, as flowing from a principle and source of the same kind.

Willingly give thyself up to Clotho, one of the Fates, allowing her to spin thy thread into whatever things she pleases.

Everything is only for a day, both that which remembers and that which is remembered.

Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the Universe loves nothing so much as to change the things which are and to make new things like them. For everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be. But thou art thinking only of seeds which are cast into the earth or into a womb: but this is a very vulgar notion.

Thou wilt soon die, and thou art not yet simple, not free from perturbations, nor without suspicion of being hurt by external things, nor kindly disposed towards all; nor dost thou yet place wisdom only in acting justly.

Examine men's ruling principles, even those of the wise, what kind of things they avoid, and what kind they pursue.
His famous quotation of Epictetus is also in this book:
Thou art a little soul bearing about a corpse, as Epictetus used to say.

Ah well... this was originally intended to be a more upbeat post haha.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Father Cantalamessa on Kindness

Father Cantalamessa on Kindness

"A Balm in Human Relationships"

DEC. 15, 2006 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on this Sunday's liturgical readings.

* * *

Third Sunday of Advent
Zephaniah 3:14-18; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18
"Rejoice Always"

The third Sunday of Advent is pervaded by the theme of joy. This Sunday is traditionally called "Laetare" Sunday, that is, the Sunday of "rejoicing," from the words of St. Paul in the second reading: "Rejoice in the Lord always; I say again, rejoice."

In the first reading we hear the words of the prophet Zephaniah: "Rejoice, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!" In the responsorial psalm this extraordinary vocabulary of joy is enriched with still other terms: "My strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has been my salvation. With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation. … Shout with exultation, O city of Zion."

Let us remain for a while with this word. (The Gospel passage continues the message of John the Baptist that we commented on last Sunday.) In the poem "Il sabato del villaggio" ("The village sabbath") Giacomo Leopardi has expressed the idea that in the present life the only authentic and possible joy is the joy of expectation, the joy of the sabbath. It is a "day full of hope and joy," full of joy precisely because it is full of hope. The expectation of the feast is better than the feast itself.

The possession of the good that was longed for brings nothing but disillusionment and boredom, because every finite good reveals itself to be inferior to what was desired and is tiresome; only expectation is the bearer of living joy. But this is precisely what Christian joy is in this world: the joy of the sabbath, the prelude to the Sunday without end, which is eternal life. St. Paul says that Christians must be "joyful in hope" (Romans 12:12), which does not mean that we must "hope to be happy" (after death), but that we must be "joyful in hope," already happy now by the simple fact of hoping.

The Apostle does not limit himself only to the command to rejoice; he also indicates how a community that wants to bear witness to joy and make it credible to others must conduct itself. He says: "Your affability should be known by all men."

The Greek word that we translate as "affability" signifies a whole complex of attitudes that runs from clemency to the capacity to know how to believe and to show oneself to be lovable, tolerant, and hospitable. We could translate it with the word "kindness." It is necessary that we first of all rediscover the human value of this virtue. Kindness is a virtue which is at risk, or, more exactly, it is a virtue that is extinct in the society in which we live.

Gratuitous violence in films and on television, language that is intentionally vulgar, the competition to go beyond the limits in regard to brutality and explicit sex is making us used to every expression of ugliness and vulgarity.

Kindness is a balm in human relationships. Family life would be so much better if there were more kindness in our gestures, in our words, and above all, in the sentiments of our hearts. Nothing extinguishes the joy of being together more than a certain vileness in our behavior. "A kind answer," says Scripture, "calms wrath, but a barbed one brings ire" (Proverbs 15:14). "A kind mouth multiplies friends, and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings" (Sirach 6:5). A kind person generates fond feelings and admiration wherever he goes.

Alongside this human value we must also rediscover the Gospel value of kindness. In the Bible the terms "meek" and "mild" do not have the passive sense of "subjected," "repressed," but the active sense of a person who acts with respect, courtesy, clemency toward others.

Kindness is indispensable above all for those who want to help others find Christ. The Apostle Peter recommends to the first Christians to be "ready to give a reason for their hope," but adds immediately: "But this must be done with sweetness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15 ff), which is to say, with kindness.

Some more photos of the Royals

Britain's Prince Charles, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall arrives at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, near Camberley, England, Friday Dec. 15, 2006, to watch his eldest son, Prince William, graduate and be commissioned into the Blues and Royals, a regiment of the Household Cavalry. (AP Photo/Sang Tan, Pool)

(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworthl)

Britain's Prince William salutes after the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, southern England December 15, 2006. Prince William, eager to draw a line under a decade of conspiracy theories about the death of his mother Princess Diana, graduated as an army officer on Friday to launch his military career. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN)

Britain's Prince William bids farewell to his father Prince Charles, and his stepmother, the Duchess of Cornwall, after the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, near Camberley England, Friday Dec. 15, 2006. Prince William was commissioned into the Blues and Royals, a regiment of the Household Cavalry. (AP Photo/Sang Tan, pool)

REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN)

Kate Middleton, a friend of Britain's Prince William wears a hat with a giant heart, as shye arrives at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, where graduates, including the Prince, took part in the Sovereign's parade at the academy, near Camberley, England, Friday Dec. 15, 2006. The Prince was commissioned into the Blues and Royals, a regiment of the Household Cavalry.(AP Photo/Ben Gurr, The Times, pool)

(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworthl)

Kate Middleton watches from the stands, as graduates of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, including Britain's Prince William, pass out during the Sovereign's parade at the academy, near Camberley, England, Friday Dec. 15, 2006. (AP Photo/Tim Ockenden, pool)

Britain's Prince William takes part in Exercise Winter Victory in Paramali Village, Cyprus in this handout photograph taken in November, 2006 released by the Ministry of Defence and Clarence House on December 15, 2006. Britain's Prince William is to graduate as an army officer on Friday and launch his new career. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS/Cpl Ian Houlding/Ministry of Defence/Clarence House/Handout (CYPRUS).

Photos: QE2 and Prince William

Britain's Prince William, right, grimaces while taking part in the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, near Camberley England, Friday Dec. 15, 2006. Sandhurst graduates, including Prince William, marched in the parade, where the salute was taken by his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. (AP Photo/Lewis Whyld, Pool)

Britain's Prince William, right, marches with other graduates, during the Sovereign's parade at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, near Camberley, England, Friday Dec. 15, 2006. The salute was taken by the Prince's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, and he was commissioned into the Blues and Royals, a regiment of the Household Cavalry.(AP Photo/Sang Tan, pool)

(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II inspects the Sovereign's parade, including her grandson Prince William, right, at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, near Camberley, England, Friday Dec.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II inspects the Sovereign's parade, including her grandson Prince William, right, at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, near Camberley, England, Friday Dec. 15, 2006. The prince was commissioned into the Blues and Royals, a regiment of the Household Cavalry.(AP Photo/Sang Tan, pool)

Queen Elizabeth II looks up at a smiling Prince William (R) during the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, southern England December 15, 2006. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II reviews her grandson Prince William at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, near Camberley England, Friday Dec. 15, 2006. Sandhurst graduates, including Prince William, marched in Friday's Sovereign's parade. (AP Photo/Tim Ockenden, Pool)

Britain's Prince William(R) breaks into a smile while his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II reviews the new cadets during the Sovereign's Parade at The Royal Military Academy in Camberley, southern England. Prince William graduated as an army officer in a traditional military rite of passage for the second in line to the throne. Photo:Adrian Dennis/AFP

REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN)

Britain Queen Elizabeth II presents the Overseas Sword award to Junior Under Officer Abu Bakar Bin Abdillah Alkatib of Singapore during the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, southern England December 15, 2006. REUTERS/Sang Tan/AP Photo/WPA Pool (BRITAIN)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II smiles after the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, southern England December 15, 2006. Britain's Prince William, eager to draw a line under a decade of conspiracy theories about the death of his mother Princess Diana, graduated as an army officer on Friday to launch his military career. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN)

Jewel Gallery

big one

St. Paul's sarcophagus

Paul's Tomb, Unearthed; Cardinal Art

A Key Find Lays Doubts to Rest

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, DEC. 14, 2006 ( 2006 has been a year of discoveries for Rome. New frescos, new archaeological finds and statues returned after years of foreign residence have made this year a hit parade of novelties.

But this week the Holy See topped the charts as it announced the unearthing of the tomb (a sarcophagus) of St. Paul. Vatican archaeologist Giorgio Filippi actually found the tomb three years ago, but further research established that "there is no doubt, the sarcophagus found under the pavement of the Basilica of St. Paul's is really that of the Apostle," as Filippi announced in a press conference Monday.

Unlike St. Peter, whose traditional presence in Rome was supported by a paucity of factual evidence until the excavations under St. Peter's Basilica from 1939 to 1950, St. Paul's sojourn in Rome is well documented in the Acts of the Apostles. St. Paul was probably sent to Rome as a prisoner somewhere around A.D. 58 to 60 and spent several years among the early Christian community of Rome.

Eusebius of Caesarea tells us, "Paul was beheaded by him [Nero]," while tradition elaborates that the saint was martyred outside the city at a site now known as Tre Fontane, or the Three Fountains. This picturesque name is derived from the legend that when Paul was beheaded, his head bounced three times on the ground -- miraculously creating three fountains. A church has graced the spot since the fifth century and today it is a monastery.

St. Paul's body was taken a little closer to the city, along the Via Ostiense, or the main road toward the sea, and buried alongside this major thoroughfare. Eusebius also cites the third-century ecclesiastic Gaius who claimed that he "can show you the trophies of the Apostles. If you will go to the Vatican or along the Via Ostiensis you will find the trophies of the founders of this church."

These "trophies" were simple, makeshift affairs meant to remain hidden from the eyes of Imperial persecutors. Only under Constantine were the apostles given due architectural homage. Great basilicas were erected over the simple tombs and the early graves were enclosed in the foundations of these churches.

The sarcophagus found by Giorgio Filippi was made slightly later, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius, the man who outlawed all other religious cults in 395, leaving Christianity the sole religion of the empire. The large marble sarcophagus was covered by a plaque bearing the inscription "Apostle Paul Martyr."

Thanks to the work of Filippi; the archpriest of the basilica, Cardinal Andrea Cordero del Montezemolo; and the engineers of the church, the sarcophagus, hidden behind the plaque under several feet of cement, was brought to light and can now be seen by pilgrims to the basilica.

This discovery restores to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls its central purpose as the place where the faithful go to pray at the resting place of the great apostle. For centuries people came to the tomb, especially during the first Jubilee year when Pope Boniface VIII declared the conditions for the plenary indulgence were to pray at the graves of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Dante, Michelangelo, St. Philip Neri and millions of others never questioned the authenticity of the location until a fire in 1823 devastated the basilica. The dramatic rebuilding and the subsequent enclosing of the sarcophagus in a block of cement made the historical reality of Paul's martyrdom at Tre Fontane and his burial along the Via Ostiense seem dim and doubtful.

The impetus for the excavation came during the Jubilee Year 2000. When millions of pilgrims came to the tomb of St. Peter, and thousands visited the excavation of St. Peter's grave and saw the proof of his presence, they then went to St. Paul's and wondered why no one had searched for the tomb of St. Paul.

The excavations began in 2002 and today the sarcophagus has been found and is on view for the faithful through a glass window laid into the floor. The remaining question is whether, as with the tomb of St. Peter, the remains of the Apostle Paul are still present. Catholics the world over had to wait 35 years from Pope Pius XII's announcement of the discovery of Peter's grave to the declaration that the bones had also been recovered.

Pope Paul VI announced the discovery of St. Peter's remains in 1976, inviting us to "rekindle in our minds the veneration, love, fidelity toward these apostles who constituted the beginnings of the Roman church and left to her the heritage of their word, of their authority and of their blood." Words that remain equally pertinent to this newest discovery.

From this moment forward, pilgrims will be able to see the graves of St. Peter and St. Paul, which Paul VI described as the "human and material as they are of the memory of the apostles." No doubt this is great boon for our scientific world of facts and proofs, but while we rejoice in being able to see and believe, Jesus praises those "who have not seen and believe."

go here for the rest

Recent photos of the Holy Father

Pope Benedict XVI walks past a painting of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, at the end of a mass celebrated for the youths of Rome's universities, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican , Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Archbishop Christodoulos(L), the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, seen here with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, asked the Pope to return a fragment of the Parthenon to Athens.(AFP/POOL/Danilo Schiavella)

Pope Benedict XVI signs an agreement with the head of Greece's Orthodox Church Archbishop Christodoulos (L) at the Vatican December 14, 2006. (Danilo Schiavella-Pool/Reuters)

Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen

In the comments section for "There You Will Always Have," dilys recommends "Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen, by the very sharp if not excessively moral Fay Weldon."

Seems interesting...

Photos from Pirates 3

There's CYF.

KK with the Asian look.

Apparently Geoffrey Rush's character is back. No photos of Orlando Bloom yet?

one more here

News on Trek XI


I didn't find the update on the movie production as interesting as this:

Speaking of Trek on the tube, there might just be a new series on the way. It's not what our readers might expect, however; apparently, CBS is mulling an animated Star Trek series. According to, it's something CBS and Paramount have been mulling ever since Enterprise went off the air. Live-action science fiction is prohibitively expensive to produce to modern standards; an animated series could keep costs — and the threat of cancellation — down.

Would audiences be interested in watching animated Star Trek? Despite gains made by shows such as The Simpsons and Family Guy, animation is still widely seen as children's fare in North America. While quality stories would certainly attract the established fan base, there's a chance casual viewers would pass on a "cartoon" Star Trek.

If this report is correct, the new series, in addition to being cel-animated, would take the franchise in the opposite direction the next movie is taking it: into the future instead of the past. The year is 2528, and the Federation is devastated by a war with the Romulans; Vulcan has split from the Federation, and vast tracts of space are rendered impassable by use of the Omega particle (remember that episode of Voyager?). It's a darker, bleaker future, bold and well-suited for the animated medium.

Any chance of having Japanese or Koreans doing the animation? Imagine that! It would be one way to bring in the young adults who watch BSG (plus good story-writing, of course; no more Braga-Berman misdirection).

Asia News: Pollution in China's major rivers

China is self-destructing.

Some 60 per cent of the Yellow River, the cradle of Chinese civilisation, is dead
Tens of thousands of chemical plants discharge deadly toxic waste into the river. The country is suffering from economic development that has “sacrificed the environment”.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – About 60 per cent of the Yellow River's water is now unfit to drink, reflecting the worsening pollution of China’s domestic hydro resources as a result of an lop-sided urban and industrial development.

Only 40 per cent of the 5,464 km-long river, the second in length in the country, can be categorised as level three in a five-level evaluation system for water quality, says an annual report by the Yellow River Water Resources Commission.

“Level three means the water is tolerable for drinking, which means it's still safe to drink after certain treatment,” said Ma Jun, head of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing. However, more than 36 per cent of the river was categorised as level five—the lowest grade—the report said.

The river runs through nine northern provinces and provides water to 155 million people and 15 per cent of the country's farmland. Last year it had to absorb the discharge of 4.35 billion tonnes of waste water. Discharges rose by 88 million tonnes year on year. More than 73 percent of the waste water was discharged from factories, 298 million tons more than last year.

What is more, once known as the cradle of early Chinese civilisation, the river is drying up despite efforts to conserve water use and increase its flow. Only 20.4 billion cubic metres of the river's water reached the Bohai Sea last year, almost the same as the previous year, despite efforts to divert water into it and higher water prices for consumers.

Early last week, a local newspaper reported that a paper company in Lanzhou (Gansu Province) discharged 2,500 tonnes of waste water a day into the Wanchuan Creek, a tributary of the Yellow River. The reddish brown waste water floated down the creek for more than 40 kilometres producing an irritating smell.

Some 21,000 chemical factories are believed to be located along
China's rivers and coastline—more than half on the Yellow and Yangtze rivers. At the beginning of the year, the country's environment chief, State Environmental Protection Administration Director Zhou Shengxian, warned that more than 100 of those chemical plants posed safety threats. For him the situation is due to the blind rush to economic development by local officials across the nation. In its first ten years, the People’s Republic of China favoured economic growth over the environment.

The situation has worsened as a result of rapid urbanisation which has often occurred without much concern for waste disposal. It is estimated that 400 of China’s 662 cities face water shortage problems and about 100 are in serious trouble.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, more than 70 billion tons of wastewater were released last year, with about 45 billion tons pumped into lakes and rivers without any treatment. The result is that more than 70 per cent of the nation's rivers and lakes are polluted.

Over 300 million people in rural areas do not have adequate clean drinking water. As a result, hundreds of thousands are afflicted with various diseases from drinking water that contains too much fluorine, arsenic, sodium sulphate or bitter salt, revealed Wang Shucheng, minister of Water Resources.

Matters have been made worse by a series of industrial accidents. A year ago for example, an explosion at a chemical plant in Jilin caused a major toxic spill in the Songhua river cutting off water supplies to millions of people ever hundreds of kilometres. (PB)

Yangzte white dolphin “extinct”
The species, which survived for 20 million years, was killed off by pollution in China’s rivers.

Shanghai (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The “baiji”, a rare, nearly blind white dolphin that survived for 20 million years, has been declared “effectively extinct”. A six-week trip along the Yangtze River by a team of researchers failed to track signs of the mammal anywhere.

August Pfluger, co-head of the expedition and chief of Swiss-based, an environmental group, said: "It is a tragedy, a loss not only for China, but for the entire world... We have to accept the fact that the baiji is extinct.” However Pfluger admitted that it was possible that one or two dolphins had been missed by researchers despite the use of high-tech equipment and trained observers.

Scientists believe the baiji is one of the most ancient fresh water mammals, which made its home in the lower reaches of the Yangtze. It is held that there were at least 400 baijis in the Yangtze in the eighties. But the last extensive research – in 1997 – only uncovered 13 dolphins.

Most scientists believe the extinction of the white dolphin is due to rising pollution in the Yangtze, caused by China’s unchecked industrial development. Environmentalists have warned that without targeted measures, the Yangtze will be a dead river within three years.

Challenges of Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue

Challenges of Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue

Interview With Monsignor Dimitrios Salachas of Athens

ROME, DEC. 14, 2006 ( Archbishop Christodoulos, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, expressed hope that his historic meeting with Benedict XVI will lead to a joint declaration in favor of recognizing Europe's Christian roots.

For insight into today's visit and its ecumenical repercussions, ZENIT interviewed Monsignor Dimitrios Salachas, of the Greek-Catholic Apostolic Exarchy of Athens.

The monsignor is a professor of canon law in Rome, and consultor for the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and other Roman Curia organizations.

Q: Some years ago, and not that many, a visit by the Orthodox archbishop of Athens to the Pope was quite improbable. What is changing?

Monsignor Salachas: Insofar as I know, Archbishop Christodoulos' intention to visit the Pope already ripened during the last years of John Paul II's pontificate, whose funeral he attended personally.

The starting point of a new era in relations between the Church of Rome and the Orthodox Church of Greece was precisely John Paul II's Jubilee pilgrimage to Greece in May 2001 "in the footsteps of St. Paul," and the signing of a Joint Declaration in Athens' Areopagus by Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Christodoulos, committing themselves to fraternal collaboration and a common testimony to safeguard the Christian identity of the European continent.

It was followed in March 2002 by the visit to the Holy See of a delegation of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, and in February 2003 by the visit of a delegation of the Holy See, headed by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to the Church of Greece, and the participation of representatives of the Holy See in several initiatives convoked by the Church of Greece at the international and ecumenical level.

Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Constantinople consolidated the decision already made months earlier by the archbishop to visit the Church of Rome and meet with her Bishop to reaffirm the commitment assumed with the declaration in Athens' Areopagus in 2001.

Q: As a Greek Catholic and specialist in Eastern law, do you think that the fact that Catholics in Greece have some problems, such as the lack of recognition of the juridical personality of the Catholic Church, can put a stop to the ecumenical endeavor?

Monsignor Salachas: It's true that the problem of the recognition of the juridical personality of the Catholic Church has been of concern for decades for Catholics in Greece with serious practical consequences.

This problem was addressed during the visit of the president of the Hellenic republic, Karolos Papoulias, to the Vatican on January 28, 2005.

The president, accompanied by Mrs. Ghiannakou, minister of education and religious affairs, committed himself decisively to a just and speedy solution to this problem, in order to give the Catholic Church in Greece an appropriate and recognized juridical status.

At present, the ministry has instituted a mixed commission to study a possible solution to the problem.

A solution is sought in the context of the constitution and of legislation in force in the Hellenic republic. There is no lack of difficulties along this line, but it is hoped that the commission will be able to achieve the desired solution very soon.

On receiving the Catholic bishops of Greece last October 30, on their "ad limina" visit, Pope Benedict XVI expressed the hope that with patience and respect for legitimate procedures, it would be possible to achieve the desired agreement thanks to the efforts of all.

I don't think, therefore, that this problem can slow down the good high-level ecumenical relationship between the Churches.

The problem does not refer in fact to the Orthodox Church as it does to the government's exclusive competence, which, in addition to the obligation of guaranteeing the constitutional right of religious liberty of every citizen and every religion, must respond to the appeals of the European Community, of which Greece is a member. I don't think the Orthodox Church wants to slow down this process.

Q: You are a member of the mixed commission for the official theological dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Church. In the course of all these years, from Patmos 1980 to Belgrade 2006, the mixed commission has not resolved the problem called "Uniatism," considered by the Orthodox side as a grave obstacle for unity. The Eastern-rite Catholics who are called "Uniates" -- are they more a problem or a solution, ecumenically speaking?

Monsignor Salachas: The mixed commission, aware of the complexity of the problems in resolving "Uniatism," considers nevertheless the importance of this dialogue, which must continue within the perspective of full unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Above all, it must be affirmed categorically that "Uniatism" is not the solution, ecumenically speaking, for the re-establishment of full unity.

Therefore, the "Uniatism" of the Eastern Catholic Churches must be distinguished, that is, of the Churches in full communion today with the Apostolic See of Rome.

Because of this, it should be recalled that the mixed commission, both in the Joint Declaration of Freising 1990, as well as the joint document of Balamand 1993, in distinguishing the method of the past of the existence of the Eastern Churches, affirmed on one hand that "we reject Uniatism as a method for seeking unity because it is opposed to the common tradition of our Churches," and on the other hand that "the Eastern Catholic Churches, as part of the Catholic Communion, have the right to exist and act to respond to the spiritual needs of their faithful"; "the Eastern Catholic Churches that have wished to re-establish the full communion with the See of Rome and have remained faithful to her, have the rights and obligations connected to this Communion of which they form part."

It is known that the Orthodox Churches' reservation is based on the fact that they don't see a theological foundation that justifies the existence of the Eastern Catholic Churches, while for the Catholic Church the fact of their full communion with the Apostolic See of Rome with the bonds of the profession of the faith, of the sacraments and of the ecclesiastical government, justifies their ecclesiasticism and canonicity.

On several occasions, Orthodox exponents, theologians and ecclesiastics have expressed their point of view for the solution of this problem, considering that Eastern Catholics should opt to return to the Orthodox Church, from which they stem, or incorporate themselves to the Latin Church, inasmuch as they are united to Rome.

Obviously, such a solution cannot find agreement on the part of the Catholic Church, for essentially doctrinal, ecclesiological and pastoral reasons.

I think that "Uniatism" implies fundamentally the more delicate and theologically more difficult question, that is, the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.

Although the Eastern Catholic Churches date their origin back to antiquity, they appeared as ecclesial communities after the 1054 schism and, after the failed attempts at union -- especially since the Council of Florence -- their ecclesial and canonical status is due to the express recognition on the part of the highest authority of the Catholic Church, that is, of the Roman Pontiff.

Even if recognizing that the Eastern Catholic Churches are not the solution for the re-establishment of full communion between our Churches, the question of their existence and ecclesiality is in close relationship with the fundamental question on the doctrine of the primacy of the Pope and its exercise in the universal Church.

In this line, the 9th Plenary Assembly of the Mixed Commission in Belgrade, from September 18 to 25, 2006, began to address the topic "Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the Church: Conciliarity and Authority in the Church."

The topic was studied at three levels of the life of the Church: local, regional and universal, under the ecclesiological and canonical aspect.

The canonical focus of the topic was based essentially on the "sacri canones" of the first millennium, considering also the doctrinal developments of the second millennium in the life of the Orthodox Churches and in the Catholic Church.

The Belgrade session did not exhaust the study of the whole topic. That is why it will be addressed, as a whole, in the next plenary session of the commission, which will take place in 2007, hosted by the Catholic Church.

This is the reason why, the problem called "Uniatism," considered on the Orthodox side as a serious obstacle to unity, it not a solution, ecumenically speaking, but rather a theological and canonical problem to which the mixed commission has committed itself, by the will of its Churches, to address in a dialogue of charity and truth.

However, the fact that the mixed commission has not yet reached an agreement on the basic theological concept of "Uniatism," and that because of this it has not produced a joint document with specific proposals and guidelines, does not mean an interruption of theological dialogue.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Anthony Esolen on Emma

and the moral universe of Austen, among other things...

A reminder: check out Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
[publisher's page; NPR; Slate; Guardian review; ; interview with the author; PBS interview; a lecture]

Kurt Cobb's blog

for future reference

Lee Hyo-lee Signs Another Lucrative Deal With Samsung

Lee Hyo-lee Signs Another Lucrative Deal With Samsung

One of the hottest domestic stars, Lee Hyo-lee will be paid top dollar for her third year modeling for Samsung Electronics Anycall commercials. Her agency Mnet Media on Monday said Lee recently signed one of the country¡¯s highest-paying one-year contracts with Samsung Electronics. With this, she will now be entering her third year of modeling for the phones. Lee, who left an impression with her work in the company¡¯s previous ¡°Anymotion¡± and ¡°Anyclub¡± commercials, will be at it again, this time in a spot to be called ¡°Anystar.¡± She is working with actor Lee Jun-ki in this installment, which will be hitting the airwaves in late December.

Meanwhile the episode to be filmed on Dec. 29 of KBS 2TV¡¯s ¡°Happy Together--Friends¡± that she has been hosting will be her last.

( )

Innocent Star Goes Sexy for KTF Commercial
Not Moon Geun-young!

Supermodel-Turned-Actresses Taking Over Airwaves

Supermodel-Turned-Actresses Taking Over Airwaves

Supermodel-turned-actresses are becoming a hot topic again. There are around 10 former models working as actresses: Kim Seon-ah, Song Seon-Mi, Han Go-eun, Han Ye-sul, Han Ji-hye , Hyun Young, Choi Yoe-jin, lee Hwa-seun, Jo Hyang-ki, Yun Ji-min. By any standards, they lead the entertainment industry.

Kim Seon-ah and Song Seon-Mi

Kim Seon-ah and Song Seon-mi have jumped to stardom by way of various projects, while Choi Yoe-jin and and Han Ji-hye have won fans for the way that they completely transform themselves into whatever roles they play. Hyung Young and Jo Hyang-ki have been busy in various entertainment programs and TV dramas, while Lee Hwa-seun has turned heads with not just her acting skills but her car racing as well. Kim Sae-rom also announced her intentions to make forays into the acting world. The result can be seen in living rooms sometime next year.

Han Ye-sul and Han Go-eun

But the most visible stars among the batch are Han Ye-sul and Han Go-eun. The two are often put on the chopping block for performances that fail to live up to their looks. But this year was a turning point in criticism of their work, bringing fine appraisals for both. After taking the lead role in the weekend TV drama ¡°Couple of Fantasy¡± (MBC), Han Ye-sul has been enjoying plenty of popularity. Han Go-eun showed off her finely matured craft as the heroine of SBS drama ¡°Love and Ambition,¡± which recently wrapped.
But now, newcomers who only entered last year¡¯s supermodel contests are already appearing on TV. They are Kim Su-hyun who took the top honor at the pageants and Yeon Mi-ju who didn¡¯t receive an award but gained the spotlight nonetheless. The two appeared in the SBS weekend drama, ¡°Queen of the Game¡± and drama special ¡°Lovers¡± respectively. For both it is their acting debut, but they have been appraised as relatively solid.

One of the reasons for the supermodel crowd¡¯s gaining popularity as actors is that they meet the qualifications: they are 170 cm tall or more, and their curvaceous bodies are easy on the eyes. Since they were already filtered through various contests, they are not lacking in the talent category. But voices of concern over model¡¯s successive transfer to acting abound. ¡°It seems that supermodel contests are becoming a means of just supplying future actors instead of living up to its original purpose of cultivating professional models,¡± once critic grumbles.

( )

Actor Labels Kim Tae-hee an 'Ostrich'

Jung Woo-sung, who made his return to the silver screen with ¡°Joongchun¡± or ¡°Midheaven¡±, recently sent tongues wagging when he offered a cryptic characterization of Kim Tae-hee. Asked to name any interesting episodes during a nation-wide promotion tour for the movie on Tuesday, Jung answered, ¡°Kim Tae-hee is an ostrich.¡± He explains, ¡°In danger, the ostrich thinks it is hidden and safe if it just buries its head in the sand. Like the ostrich, Kim slept with her head covered and seemed to think she was hidden, even though everybody knew she was sleeping.¡±

Jung Woo-sung(left) and Kim Tae-hee

Kim Tae-hee says Jung is not the first. ¡°Actually, I went to an art institute in my middle school days, and my teacher there called me ¡®ostrich¡¯ as well. The reason was that I was as naïve as Jung said.¡±

A scene from ¡®Joongchun¡¯ or ¡®Midheaven¡¯

In their movie, meanwhile, Jung plays an exorcist who can see ghosts. The character enters Joongchun or mid-heaven, where the spirits of the dead are held, and there meets a woman named Sohwa who resembles his dead lover.

( )

JHK interview

via EB

the interview

Trailer: Escape from Suburbia

Via EB and Transition Culture

This is the sequel to The End of Suburbia.

the trailer:

Peter Boyle, Monk?

In the obituaries I have heard on TV, all have mentioned that Mr. Boyle, who just passed away, was a "Christian monk" before he became an actor. I looked him up this morning and found that he was a Christian Brother. Not quite a monk. I'm guessing it is this order, and not another of a similar name.

wiki on the Christian Brothers

Faith for the Man He'll Become

Faith for the Man He'll Become by Carolyn McCulley

and Cultivating Men by Roberto Rivera y Carlo

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Shawn Tribe reviews Cardinal Reflections

at NLM

Much has been written about active participation and the intelligibility of the liturgy, but the reflections by the cardinals will still be of interest to those concerned with fostering liturgical piety. I don't know if the book is readily available in the U.S. though.

The Right to Pursue Powerdown: Seeking alternative lifestyles post-peak

The Right to Pursue Powerdown: Seeking alternative lifestyles post-peak

by Richard Embleton

As we approach the global peak in oil production, and most certainly when we have gone beyond that point and start our slide down the depletion downslope, there is a rapidly growing group of people who want to begin the process of preparing themselves, their homes, their neighbourhoods and communities for the self-sufficient and self-reliant lifestyle that will be necessary when energy decline has torn asunder our heavilly energy-dependent global society. They recognize that achieving the required level of post-peak self-sufficiency may take decades and that waiting until we are already past peak and on the downslope means having waited too long. They recognition that such preparation needs to be started now while there is still the resources and energy to do the job.

People who are attempting to do such preparation now, however, are finding in their way roadblocks, hurdles and obstacles just as severe as the groups mentioned above. Many of the past practices that would have been consistent with that preparation are no longer permitted in "developed" societies such as in North America and Europe. One can no longer keep chickens and other food animals within municipal boundaries in most western cities, for example. You cannot turn your front lawn into a vegetable garden. You cannot produce, sell or buy raw milk. In markets of any type in most North American cities one can neither sell nor buy "live" food such as chickens. You cannot put manure on your lawn or urban garden, or even keep manure unless it is in a plastic bag labelled zoo-poo. In most urban jurisdictions in North America you are not allowed to have an outdoor clothesline, maintain a root cellar, put up a wind generator, use grey-water for crop irrigation, keep an open compost, etc. In most municipal jurisdictions you are not allowed to keep or graze large animals like horses, cows, bullocks, or even goats or sheep or geese or ducks or pigs.

All of these things and practices that will be critical for self-sufficiency when we get well down the energy decline slope are viewed today as threats to the aesthetic enjoyment urbanites have for their chemical lawns and GMO flower gardens. If you have ever run afoul of a neighbourhood committee you will have seen this conflict in glorious action.

Unconventional war strategies
by Byron W. King

BBC Radio adaptation of Emma Thu, Fri

Thanks to AustenBlog.

Info on the Internet broadcast.

PJB, The coming GOP war


4 Basilicas in Rome Designated "Papal"

4 Basilicas in Rome Designated "Papal"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2006 ( From now on, Rome's four patriarchal basilicas will be called "papal" basilicas.

Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, made that announcement Monday.

At a press conference, the cardinal clarified that "many thought that the title 'patriarchal' referred to the fact that through the latter the Pope exercised his title of 'Patriarch of the West,' in contrast to the 'Patriarch of the East,' something which is not at all true."

For historical and ecumenical reasons, Benedict XVI has decided to give up the title "Patriarch of the West."

The basilicas to be known henceforth as "papal" rather than "patriarchal" are St. Peter's, St. John Lateran, St. Paul's Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major.

"The four basilicas had been given in the past by the popes, as a base in Rome, to the Catholic Eastern patriarchs, not as an official title," clarified the cardinal. "Therefore, the Pope has decided that from now on the four major basilicas will be called 'papal' basilicas."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

W. Lind, From Vulcans to Vultures in Iraq

December 12, 2006
From Vulcans to Vultures in Iraq
Knocking Opportunity


Last week, the Iraq Study Group Report burst upon a breathless world, and proved to be an empty piñata. None of its recommendations has the slightest chance of reversing the course of the war in Iraq. Only those who just got into town on the last truckload of turnips expected anything more. All Washington "Blue Ribbon Commissions" are part of the kabuki, intended to fool the rubes back home into thinking something real is happening, when it isn't.

If the Iraq Study Group Report is empty of content, the responses to it from the war hawks, or more accurately at this point the war vultures, since what they are feeding on is dead, were as clueless as a Marine at a meeting of Mensa. They denounced it as impracticable, which is true; as fanciful, in thinking Iran or Syria has any reason to help us in Iraq, which is also true; and, in the case of Senator John McCain, as a recipe for defeat.

Senator McCain almost got it right. The Iraq Study Group Report is not a recipe for defeat, but an acknowledgment of defeat. Therein lies its value, and its function. It offers the Bush administration the bi-partisan fig leaf it needs to cover its defeat in Iraq and our inevitable withdrawal.

Like all reports of Blue Ribbon Commissions, the Report of the Iraq Study Group is written so as to cover the backsides of its members. It does not come right out and say, "We've lost, and its time to get out." The Letter from the Co-Chairs begins, "There is no magic formula to solve the problems of Iraq. However, there are actions that can be taken to improve the situation and protect American interests."

After this obligatory tip of the cap to Pollyanna, however, the report lays it out as clearly as Washington ever will. The Assessment of the Current Situation in Iraq concludes on page 32,

Despite a massive effort, stability in Iraq remains elusive and the situation is deteriorating. The Iraqi government cannot now govern, sustain, and defend itself without the support of the United States. Iraqis have not been convinced that they must take responsibility for their own futureThe ability of the United States to shape outcomes is diminishing. Time is running out.

Short of concluding with a chorus of "Asleep in the Deep," it would be hard for the Study Group to make the reality of the situation more evident.

Again, what is key is not the details of the report or the viability of its recommendations, but the response to it. Had it the slightest understanding of which end is up, the Bush White House, while politely disagreeing with some details of the report, would have accepted it as "the only way forward." The vultures, led by the neo-cons, would have "sadly concurred." The Joint Chiefs' strings would have been pulled so they saluted and "got on board" the last train out of Baghdad.

It might have gone somewhat like this: According to the Friday, December 8 Washington Slimes:

Yesterday afternoon, less than twenty-four hours after the release of the Iraq Study Group Report, President George W. Bush, accompanied by Iraq Study Group Co-Chairmen James A. Baker and Lee Hamilton and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace, said, "While I do not agree with every detail of the Study Group's Report, I accept that it represents the only way forward in Iraq that will have bi-partisan support of the Congress and the American people. I therefore accept its recommendations as a package, as Secretary Baker has described them, and pledge this administration to their speedy implementation."

"I now call on all members of Congress of both parties to join the administration and the members of the bi-partisan study group to set aside all divisions and work together. I look forward to having all American combat troops home from Iraq early in 2008."

President Bush was immediately followed by Mr. Baker, Mr. Hamilton and General Pace adding their endorsements to the administration's new course and calling for an end to partisanship and national division over the war in Iraq.

Instead, as we know, the Bush administration and the vultures have rejected the fig leaf the Iraq Study Group Report offers. Determined to achieve "victory in Iraq," they guarantee that America's defeat will be naked before all the world.

One member of the study group, former Democratic Congressman Leon Panetta, was quoted in the Sunday, December 10 Washington Post as saying, "I think the feeling was, how do you rescue this administration from the grip of ideology and force it to face the real world?"

The Bush administration's only desire, unfortunately for the country, is to escape the grip of reality and immerse itself more deeply in the Jacobin ideology of neo-cons. It seems that, absent a miracle, we are doomed to wander in Oz for two more years.

William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Business - Dec. 11, 2006

Participants in the Miss Korea 2006 pageant take part in a charity event at the Hyundai Department Store in Mia, Seoul on Sunday. All proceeds from the event sales go to helping disabled children from disadvantaged homes.

Culture - Dec. 11, 2006

Youngsters enjoy themselves at the outdoor rink at Olympic Park in Seoul on Sunday.

Front - Dec. 9, 2006

Models and children hold up Nanuum, a 1-Gb USB memory drive developed jointly by World Vision, GS Caltex, and Inno Design for charity, in front of the GS Tower in Yeoksam-dong, Seoul on Friday. All proceeds from the sale of Nanuum will go to education for children from low-income families.

National - Dec. 8, 2006

A group of Korean astronaut candidates during special gravity-free training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center on Dec. 6 in preparation for Korea’s inaugural space mission next year aboard a Russian spacecraft. Two candidates will be selected for the landmark mission on Dec. 25.

Business - Dec. 7, 2006

With Christmas not too far away, a couple looks at his-and-hers fragrances at the Lotte Department Store’s main branch in the Seoul on Wednesday./Yonhap

Culture - Dec. 7, 2006

Children enjoy themselves at a sledding hill in Incheon Grand Park on Wednesday.

National - Dec. 6, 2006

Former Grand National party chairwoman Park Geun-hye gives autographs after a lecture at Keimyung University on Tuesday afternoon.

Culture - Dec. 6, 2006

A child donates at a digital collection box of the Salvation Army in Myeongdong, Seoul on Tuesday afternoon. When a transport credit card is put into the terminal, W1,000 (US$1=W924) is automatically deducted.

Front - Dec. 6, 2006

Korean astronaut candidates board a weightlessness training airplane with Russian trainers at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Moscow on Tuesday. The plane mimics zero gravity by stopping its engine at an altitude of 6,000-9,500 m and nosediving for some 20 seconds. The candidates will experience weightlessness 20 times in all.

National - Dec. 5, 2006

Orange peels are being dried at a farm in Seogwipo, Jeju Island on Monday. In Oriental medicine, it is believed that ingesting the rind protects the stomach and aids digestion.

Business - Dec. 5, 2006

The Toy Bar phone (IM-R110) from Sky stocked with all the entertainment functions including mobile satellite TV, video call, games, MP3 playback, a frontal camera and an electronic dictionary./Yonhap

Culture - Dec. 5, 2006

Hanbok-clad girls give a bow of thanks to their parents at a coming-of-age ceremony for exam-taking third-year students at Taejang High School in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province on Monday./Yonhap

Front - Dec. 5, 2006

Korea's Suh Jung-kyun waves after winning gold in the team dressage event, where the horse performs set movements in response to riders' signals, at the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar on Monday. With that, Suh has won six golds and two silver in five Asian Games.

Business - Dec. 4, 2006

LG Electronics’ hit Chocolate phone and related technologies are on display at the ITU Telecom World 2006 expo in Hong Kong on Sunday./Yonhap

Kim Dong-seon
of the South Korean equestrian team acknowledges the crowd before performing in the team final event. The team of Kim, Choi Jun-sang, Shin Soo-jin and Suh Jung-kyun won the gold medal. It was Korea’s third consecutive gold medal in the event after 1998 and 2002. Kim is a son of Hanwha Group chairman Kim Seung-youn.
/Yonhap 12-04-2006 21:46

Phones for ladies: A model demonstrates a set of variations of Samsung’s “girlie phones,” the SGH-E570, at a Russian sales outlet, Sunday. Samsung plans to sell the phones to women in Russia. The phone has a tall and thin panel on its face and a floral design on the back to attract the attention of women.
/Courtesy of Samsung Electronics 12-10-2006 22:29

Winter wonder: Hikers walk along the slopes of Mt. Pukhan, downtown Seoul, Sunday, after a light snowfall in the morning covered the mountain in white. /Korea Times 2-10-2006 19:46

Korean beef restaurant: Passers-by in Mapo, Seoul, Thursday, taste beef from “Hanu,” Korea’s native cattle species, at an event hosted by the first restaurant selling only meat from Hanu, as certified by experts. /Korea Times 12-07-2006 20:40

Audi Santa: A model dressed in a Santa Claus outfit , poses with an Audi Quattro 7 at an event in Kwanghwamun, Seoul, Thursday, hosted by Audi Korea to celebrate the 26th anniversary of the four-wheeled Quattro series./ Yonhap 12-07-2006 20:38

President Roh Moo-hyun, second from left, gives a toast during a meeting with Korean residents in Australia at a hotel in Sydney, Thursday. Roh arrived in New Zealand later in the day. / Yonhap 12-07-2006 19:34

Ultra-slim folders: A model shows Samsung Electronics’ Ultra series mobile phone at the company showroom in Seoul, Wednesday. The clamshell-type handset is 11.9 millimeters thick and has a 2-million pixel camera. The retail price is set at around 500,000 won. /Yonhap 12-06-2006 21:57

Six successful astronaut candidates pose after passing the on-site tests at Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow. From left are Jang Joon-sung, Park ji-young, Lee Jin-young, Yun Seok-on, Yi So-yeon and Ko San. / Yonhap 12-11-2006 17:48

Astronaut hopefuls: Eight Korean astronaut candidates hold their national flag and a banner during zero-gravity training with Russian instructors at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow, Wednesday. Two out of the eight will be selected this month before undergoing 15 months of pre-flight training to select one who will be Korea's first traveler into space in April 2008. /Reuters-Yonhap 12-06-2006 18:07

New Rover
: Models pose with All New Range Rover, a premium sport utility vehicle priced at 140 million won, during an unveiling event at Samchonggak in Seoul, Tuesday. / Yonhap 12-05-2006 22:14

Export tower: Primary school children raise their hands in front of the new tower established in front of the COEX center, Samsong-dong, southern Seoul Tuesday to celebrate the nation’s achievement of $300 billion in exports, making it the 11th biggest expoter in the world. / Korea Times 12-05-2006 19:48

South Korea's Lee Won-hee joins the audience and parents Monday at Asian Games judo arena to celebrate his gold medal performance. /AP-Yonhap 12-05-2006 14:07

Kwanghwamun restoration

Six candidates
to be the first South Korean astronaut, from left, Jang Joon-sung, Park Ji-young, Lee Jin-young, Yun Seok-oh, Yi So-yeon and Ko San, pose for a photo at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow, Russia, Monday. / Yonhap 12-11-2006 22:06

New Designs Focus on Easy Use

Kim Yu-na to Meet Rival Japanese Skater on Russian Ice

Hwang Soo-jung Is Back, Beautiful as Ever