Saturday, March 24, 2007

Two on peak oil

Warren Brown - car columnist and peak oil prophet
The elasticity of oil production and consumption
Classical economists still insist higher prices will bring out increased production sufficient to give us the oil we humans need. What's the hitch?

EB roundup on Bill McKibben

McKibben - Happiness and the deep economy; and some articles on Avner Offer, The Challenge of Affluence

Related article at Mother Jones: Stumbling on Happiness (Interview with Dan Gilbert)

The Year Without Toilet Paper

Via GodSpy

The Year Without Toilet Paper

Welcome to Walden Pond, Fifth Avenue style. Isabella’s parents, Colin Beavan, 43, a writer of historical nonfiction, and Michelle Conlin, 39, a senior writer at Business Week, are four months into a yearlong lifestyle experiment they call No Impact. Its rules are evolving, as Mr. Beavan will tell you, but to date include eating only food (organically) grown within a 250-mile radius of Manhattan; (mostly) no shopping for anything except said food; producing no trash (except compost, see above); using no paper; and, most intriguingly, using no carbon-fueled transportation.
No Impact blog

And one from EB: Not the end of the world by

Men of the church

via GodSpy

Men of the church
Barbara Kay, National Post
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2007

are habitat, schools and friendships the only significant factors in guiding children into their full human estate? Hardly. Children's spiritual and moral development -- the formation of bedrock cultural values --is equally important. And thereby hangs a tale.

A statistical report from Switzerland in 2000, "The Demographic Characteristics of the Linguistic and Religious Groups in Switzerland," reviewed the results of a 1994 survey of Swiss religious practice, and arrives at a fascinating conclusion about the impact of mothers' vs. fathers' church attendance on the future religious observance of their children.

The detailed survey indicated that if the father attended church regularly, and the mother was non-practising, then 44% of their children became regular church-goers. But if the mother attended regularly, and the father was non-practising, then only two per cent of their children became regular church attenders.

Even when the father was an irregular attender and the mother non-practising, a full 25% of their children became regular attenders, while if a mother was a regular attender and the father irregular, only three per cent of the children became regular attenders.

In short, if a father does not attend church, it won't matter how dedicated the mother is in her observance, only one child in 50 will become a regular attender. But if a father is even somewhat observant, then regardless of the mother's practice, at least one child in three will become a regular church-goer. The disparity is too stunningly wide to be culturally insignificant.

A survey can offer only so much support, especially when grace cannot be measured. Nonetheless, fathers do have an important role to play with respect to moral and religious formation of children, one that cannot simply be filled by the mother, and "grace builds upon nature." There is something about the natural dynamic between a father and his children that is different from that between the mother and her children. (And the correlation between bad experiences and atheism has been noted by various psychologists, including Paul Vitz and Armand Nicholi.) Whether one likes it or not, patriarchy is "natural," the structure of authority in most societies. (And not typically, as the radical feminists would maintain, through force and violence, but through the dynamic interplay between men and women.) What matters is that it is good patriarchy, ordered to virtue and the common good at all levels, rather bad patriarchy, which is an exercise in vice and tyranny.

More on Dr. Vitz
NYU page
Institute for the Psychological Sciences page
St. Michael's Institute
Paul C. Vitz Resource Page
The Neuwaldegg Institute - Lecturers: Dr. Paul C. Vitz
The Veritas Forum

Top general in Afghanistan expels Marines

Here you go Sarge...

Top general in Afghanistan expels Marines

Higher education behemoth faces reality check

Higher education behemoth faces reality check
Written by Kevin Ryan

Father Cantalamessa on Families

Father Cantalamessa on Families

Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings

ROME, MARCH 23, 2007 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings for this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

Jesus, the woman, and the family
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Isaiah 43:16-21; Philippians 3:8-14; John 8:1-11

The Gospel of the Fifth Sunday of Lent is about the woman surprised in adultery whom Jesus saves from stoning. Jesus does not intend to say with his gesture that adultery is not a sin or that it is a small thing. There is an explicit, even if delicate, condemnation of adultery in the words addressed to the woman at the end of the scene: "Do not sin anymore."

Jesus does not intend to approve the deed of the woman; his intention is rather to condemn the attitude of those who are always ready to look for and denounce the sin of others. We saw this last time in our look at Jesus' general attitude toward sinners.

As we have been doing in these commentaries on the readings for the Sundays of Lent, we will now move from this passage to expand our horizon and consider Christ's general attitude toward marriage and the family, as this can be discerned in all the Gospels.

Among the strange theses about Jesus advanced in recent years, there is also one about a Jesus who supposedly repudiated the natural family and all familial relationships in the name of belonging to a different community in which God is the father and all the disciples are brothers and sisters. This Jesus is supposed to have proposed an itinerant life like that of the philosophical school known as the Cynics in the world outside Israel.

There are words of Christ about familial bonds that actually perplex at first glance. Jesus says: "If someone comes to me and does not hate his father, his mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26).

These are certainly hard words but already the Evangelist Matthew is careful to explain the meaning that the word "hate" has in this context: "Whoever loves his father and mother ... son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37).

Jesus does not ask us therefore to hate our parents and children, but to not love them to the point of refusing to follow Jesus on their account.

There is another perplexing episode. One day Jesus says to someone: "Follow me." And the man responds: "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." Jesus replies: "Let the dead bury the dead; you go and proclaim the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:59ff).

Some critics let loose on this. In their eyes, this is a scandalous request, disobedience to God who orders us to care for our parents, a clear violation of filial duties!

The scandal of these critics is for us a precious proof. Certain words of Christ cannot be explained as long as he is considered a mere man, even if an exceptional one. Only God can ask that we love him more than our father and that, to follow him, we even renounce attending our father's burial.

For the rest, from a perspective of faith like Christ's, what was more important for the deceased father: that his son be at home in that moment to bury his body or that he follow the one sent by God, the God before whom his soul must now present itself?

But maybe the explanation in this case is even more simple. We know that the expression, "Let me go and bury my father," was sometimes used (as it is today) to say: "Let me go and be with my father while he is still alive; after he dies I will bury him and come follow you."

Jesus would thus only be asking not to indefinitely delay responding to his call. Many of us religious, priests and sisters, find ourselves faced with the same choice and often our parents have been happier for our obedience to Jesus.

The perplexity over these requests of Jesus arises in large part from a failure to take into account the difference between what he asked of all indistinctly and what he asked only of those who were called to entirely share his life dedicated to the kingdom, as happens in the Church even today.

There are other sayings of Jesus which could be examined. Someone might even accuse Jesus of being the cause of the proverbial difficulty in agreement between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law since he said: "I have come to separate son from father, daughter from mother, daughter-in-law from mother-in-law" (Matthew 10:35).

But it will not be Jesus who divides; it will be the different attitude that each member of the family takes toward him that will determine the division. This is something that painfully occurs even in many families today.

All of the doubts about Jesus' attitude toward the family and marriage will fall away if we take into account the whole Gospel and not only those passages that we like. Jesus is more rigorous than anyone in regard to the indissolubility of marriage, he forcefully confirms the commandment to honor father and mother to the point of condemning the practice of denying them help for religious reasons (cf. Mark 7:11-13).

Just consider all the miracles that Jesus performed precisely to take away the sorrows of fathers (Jairus and the father of the epileptic), of mothers (the Canaanite woman, the widow of Nain!), and of siblings (the sisters of Lazarus).

In these ways he honors familial bonds. He shares the sorrow of relatives to the point of weeping with them.

In a time like our own, when everything seems to conspire to weaken the bonds and values of the family, the only thing that we have not set against them yet is Jesus and the Gospel!

But this is one of the many odd things about Jesus that we must know so that we are not taken in when we hear talk of new discoveries about the Gospels. Jesus came to bring marriage back to its original beauty (cf. Matthew 19:4-9), to strengthen it, not to weaken it.

Congregation of Saint Athanasius

This is the Anglican use parish in Boston. I heard about it the first year I was in Boston, but I have never been there. I would like to visit, especially for evening prayer. Alas, it is in West Roxbury. I believe the priest for the community came to BC to do stations of the cross, but I couldn't attend since there was a lecture taking place...

(An article from 2001)

Sung Mass is at 10:30.

Which reminds me, I still haven't seen Black Narcissus...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Claes G. Ryn, Which American?

Which American?
by Claes G. Ryn

Quite often I have lunch at a McDonald’s in one of the most affluent and pretentious suburbs in America just outside of Washington, D.C. The residents are ambivalent about having a McDonald’s in their community – it undermines their self-image – so the restaurant is tucked away inside a little mall and almost impossible for outsiders to find.

I like to arrive just after 10:30. I am up very early, and before 11:00 my McDonald’s is still quiet. I eat and read in peace. Later, mothers drive up in their luxury SUVs with their preschool children, and, if schools are closed, older children too. Some high-schoolers show up. On Saturdays many fathers do McDonald’s duty and older children come as well. My French café is transformed into bedlam. Near the playpen especially the noise rises dramatically. I have learnt when late to shut out the din, but sometimes I watch the scene in fascination. At the counter toddlers in strollers scream when parents do not give them French fries fast enough. Older children crawl on chairs and tables or rush about shouting and shoving while waiting for mom or dad to bring the food. Mothers and fathers scurry around, anxiously solicitous of their princes and princesses. They comfort the crying and apologize to little Ashley and Eliot for having taken so long. By now I know well the difference between the crying of a child in distress and the importunate crying of a child who won’t wait or take no for an answer. At the playpen – the "hell-hole" – it is obvious that playing without throwing yourself about and making lots of noise would not be real playing. Sometimes the playpen emits such piercing screams that the Asian-American children look at their parents in startled surprise. Deference to grown-ups seems unknown. I used to take offense, but the children have only taken their cue from their parents, who took their cue from their parents. The adults, for their part, talk in loud, penetrating voices, some on cell phones, as if no other conversations mattered. The scene exudes self-absorption and lack of self-discipline.

Yes, this picture has everything to do with U.S. foreign policy. This is the emerging American ruling class, which is made up increasingly of persons used to having the world cater to them. If others challenge their will, they throw a temper tantrum. Call this the imperialistic personality – if "spoilt brat" sounds too crude.

But, surely, this rising elite has wonderful strengths. Are not its adults highly educated – about history, philosophy, geography, and world affairs – and masters of several languages? Do they not travel widely and have a keen understanding of other countries and regions of the world? Are they not sophisticated cosmopolitans suited to running an empire.

Pardon the sarcasm. I am well aware that a different type of American still exists. That American aspires to character traits virtually the opposite of those on display at my McDonald’s. Americans used to admire self-restraint, modesty, humility, and good manners. They were acutely aware of original sin. They feared the self-indulgent ego, in themselves and others. Americans of an earlier era stressed the need to check the darker potentialities of human nature, the unleashing of which could wreak havoc on the individual and society. They hoped that in personal life moral character would restrain the desire for self-aggrandizement, just as in national political life the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution would contain the all-too-human desire for power. Personal self-control and constitutionalism were but different aspects of the effort to subdue the voracious ego. Human beings could not be trusted with unlimited power.

The Ideology of American Empire (pdf)

Leveling Britain

Theodore Dalrymple
Leveling Britain
Mediocrity on the march
22 March 2007

The Family Factors

Via Caelum et Terra

The Family Factors

Lessons from History About the Future of Marriage & Family in the United States

by Allan Carlson

Distributism: The Neglected Tradition

Via The Distributist Review

Distributism: The Neglected Tradition
by Damian Wyld

Interview with Dr. Ron Paul by Michael Shank

at Lew Rockwell

California’s Coup D’Etat

California’s Coup D’Etat
Posted by Paul Weyrich on March 22, 2007

The move to February 5 would not be so pernicious if California alone were doing so. But most of the large States are accelerating their primaries as well. So we will have a super-duper primary and, bang, the nominee will have been chosen right then and there. Whom does super-duper primary help? In the case of the GOP it helps Rudolph W. (Rudy) Giuliani, assuming he can keep the poll numbers he now has. Rudy is the big-money candidate. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), Senator Charles T. (Chuck) Hagel (R-NE), Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AK), Congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Ron Paul (R-TX) and Thomas G. (Tom )Tancredo (R-CO) will have absolutely no chance under this system. On the Democratic side, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM), Senators Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) and Joseph P. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) and former Senator John Edwards (D-NC) also will be relegated to has-beens under this new system because Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) has the money.

In fact, it is doubtful that Governor Ronald W. Reagan (R-CA) could have come back from his earlier defeats, as he did in 1976 in North Carolina. He would require a huge sum of money to win on this super-duper primary system. And since Reagan was defeated in New Hampshire by incumbent President Gerald R. Ford (R-MI), he would not have been able to raise in a few days the huge amount of money required of a defeated candidate.

I always have favored a series of regional primaries spread over six months. Each region of the country would hold a primary on a different day, a month apart from another region. That would give candidates from all over the nation an opportunity to be nominated.

But this system says that our Presidential candidates must be rich and must have money to burn all during the year before that February doomsday. It is a distortion of our political system.

Sigh. What can be done.

Asia's river systems face collapse

Asia's river systems face collapse
By Alan Boyd

Are we at the threshold of the age of water wars?

Phoenix on EWTN

Thanks to Open Book.

From Musica Sacra:

Phoenix on EWTN

By CMAA on March 23, 2007 at 11:08 am

On March 26th at 11:30am Eastern time, the Holy Mass will be shown from Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral in the Diocese of Phoenix on EWTN. The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted will be Celebrant. The Cathedral Schola, which sings the Solemn Mass every Sunday at 11:00am, will sing the Introit, Communio and the Ordinary of the Mass, along with some solid Catholic hymns. The Schola is made up of professional musicians.

The cathedral's website

Check out also St Stephen Byzantine Catholic Pro-Cathedral

When I was in downtown Phoenix last December, we passed by some building that resembled a church done in the Spanish style, but I don't know what building it is. It's not the Catholic cathedral, that's for sure.

F. J. Sarto, Don't Look Left

Via the Western Confucian

Don't Look Left by F. J. Sarto

The author reminds us of the outrages being committed in the Western world by governments that do not acknowledge God or His law:

In Quebec, a proposed government policy would forbid private Christian schools from teaching Biblical sexual ethics.

A law with similar intent is pending in Brazil, which according to Zenit News “seeks to criminalize anything considered a condemnation of homosexuality, including priests who speak against the practice in homilies. Priests could face two to five years imprisonment for preaching against homosexuality. And a rector of a seminary who refuses admission to a homosexual student could face three to five years.”

In Britain, the “anti-discrimination” regulation which will prevent Catholic and other serious Christian adoption agencies from placing children only with married, heterosexual couples will also restrict the teaching of Christian sexual ethics in schools, according to the non-partisan, secular news site

In Germany, where home-schooling was outlawed by Hitler and the law left on the books, the parents of 15-year-old Melissa Busekros lost custody of the girl for teaching her at home. She is now being held at a psychiatric institution—diagnosed with “school-phobia” at an undisclosed location, with no access to her parents. In the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, laws restricting religious garb—which were aimed at the Moslems that country unaccountably allowed to settle there—are now being used to strip teaching nuns of their habits.

In Poland and Ireland, the democratically-passed laws restricting abortion on demand may well be stricken from the books by the diktat of unelected judicial bureaucrats of the European Court of Human Rights—who by the way, ruled against the parents of the abducted German teenager.

Meanwhile, in France, children are still forbidden to wear visible crucifixes or yarmulkes, since this is the only way that anti-clerical country can justify to itself stripping Islamic girls of the Hijab they are religiously moved to wear.

Across the Rhine in Deutschland, a judge recently ruled in favor of an abusive Islamic husband who beat his wife—basing his decision on the Koran.

Looking at the disasters that are Europe and Canada, can one not appreciate the fact that the right to bear arms is still protected at least in the United States?

The only hope of resisting the partisans of secular intolerance is to clean up the Christian Right (Catholic and Protestant), to purge it of jingoism, anti-intellectualism, and end-of-the world nihilism, then to break up its shotgun wedding to the hacks who run the conservative movement. The Christian Right must become less “Right” and much more Christian, reassert its intellectual and moral independence of partisan politics, and insist on applying its principles consistently. Pastors must stop endorsing torture, public Catholics must choose their pope above their president, and all of us must remember that the real war is not between the Democratic and Republican parties, but between the Church and the World. And the battlefield lies within our hearts

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Update about Fr. Fessio

at Open Book

No official confirmation yet that he has been offered the position of theologian-in-residence, or that he has accepted.

updated: confirmation -- and Fr. Fessio has accepted
(link thanks to NOR)

V. E. Smith on History

From The Elements of Logic, Chapter 26:

Is history science? If so, it would have to demonstrate, and pure history resembles a descriptive catalogue of fact rather than a series of demonstrations. It is, as Thucydides illustrates, a record of what happened in the past.

Moreover, history in the natural order has no first principles, and such principles, we saw, are necessary for a science. Such a judgment might even be turned around. There is no necessity in historical events, and necessity is surely one of the characteristics of science.

Finally, when examined as to its scientific character, history will be found to own no universality. Every historical event is, in the last analysis, an individual event, and our knowledge of that event is a knowledge of something individual. In short, our study of pure history does not rise above space and time to the universal and necessary connections among things as reasoned out from first and certain principles. Consequently, for a number of reasons, history cannot be put down as a science.

Is history opinion? True enough Thucydides freely introduces opinion into his history, but if history is no more than opinion, it must share the uncertainty of opinion. In such a case, we would know only as probable that Caesar invaded Gaul, that Wellington conquered Napoleon, that Washington spent a winter at Valley Forge, that Clovis, king of the Franks, became a convert. No respectable historian would want to assign all such events to the limbo of probable knowledge. Hence, history would seem to give us more than merely probable knowledge.

Is history perhaps rhetoric? If so, it would be an art of persuasion, even weaker in certitude than dialectic. It is true that an excellent rhetorician like Lincoln or Pericles may use historical events as devices of persuasion, and it is also true that many textbooks in history take a rhetorical position in favor of a viewpoint held beforehand by their authors, such as nationalism or Communism. But history if it is not dialectic, certainly is not mere rhetoric either.

Nor can history be identified with literature. It is true that both the historical and literary writer are concerned somehow with the individual. But literature, we have seen, involves discourse, whereas in history events follow not from each other but only after each other in temporal sequence. Furthermore, genuine history must always be true, but literature need only be plausible. Alike under certain aspects, the historian and literary man, from other angles, are profoundly different in both interest and technique.

Some distinctions. To get at the more positive meaning of historical knowledge, it is important to make some distinctions. As Hegel remarked, the word history applies unfortunately both to what actually happened in the past and to our study of such happenings. History is a stream of events having physical reality outside the mind and at the same time it is a subject studied by the mind and having a place in the curriculum of schools. Chemistry is also a subject; but when we name what the subject is about, we do not call it chemistry. Chemistry is about physical things, not about chemistry. So too with literature, theology, mathematics, and all other subjects. But history, as a study, is not distinguished in name from its subject matter. History designates the study, and it designates what the study is about. In order to avoid ambiguity, the term history will be employed throughout this chapter to mean history as a form of knowledge rather than history as a stream of events, though the material studied by the historian will affect our verdict concerning the kind of knowledge he enjoys. Moreover, in the interests of simplification, only human history will be considered throughout this chapter, thus omitting natural history with its descriptions of the cosmos in a pre-scientific way.

A second and even more capital distinction obtains between the facts of history, like the date of Charlemagne's coronation, and the opinion about those facts expressed by this or that historian. Thucydides records a number of facts in the passage quoted, but even more striking are his opinions, even his generalizations, about those facts. In a similar vein, it is true that the Roman Empire collapsed and that by the sixth century it had ceased to exist; but the causes of Rome's decline and fall are a matter of constant controversy among students of the phenomenon. That Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were prominent figures in the early American government is beyond dispute, but the relative merits of their different economic views can be argued back and forth among their admirers. The ordinary history book includes the dimension of fact and that of opinion. In order to evaluate history, however, these two aspects of the typical text book must be distinguished. In what follows, the concern will be with history as factual knowledge, the knowledge of dates and places and figures of the past. Such knowledge is the fundamental kind of historical knowledge since upon it all opinions by historian claim their base.

History and faith. What then about our knowledge of the facts of history? These facts are usually made known to us by the testimony of men who witnessed them. Such eyewitnesses either wrote reports of what they observed or by word of mouth informed those who later wrote reports. Sometimes the testimony of witnesses to historical events did not pass into written form for centuries after the event itself. While unwritten, such testimony forms that kind of historical knowledge which is called tradition. Illiterate primitive peoples can often recite their ancestry back through many generations. History for them never assumes a written form at all.

Actually, the recent as well as the more remote past constitutes the field of historical knowledge. News stories tonight of what happened this morning are history when we read about them. But again we are dependent on witnesses and reporters.

But however known and whether of the recent or remote past, what we call historical knowledge usually is known on somebody else's word. That George Washington was the first president of the United States is known to us on the authority of those who witnessed his presidency and handed down their testimony in the form of oral or written records or both. To accept a proposition on the authority of another is knowledge by faith. Our knowledge of history then depends on our faith.

What has been said about historical knowledge as a form of faith must be qualified in one important respect. All of an individual's past is history and can be known by him as an historian. Events, important or trivial, which we have personally witnessed we do not know only on the authority of a witness. We remember them. However, in discussing history as a subject, we are usually referring to events distant from us in space and time and not coming within our experience except in some accidental way. Hence, although our own memory can attest to the history of our own past, the kind of knowledge that usually gets into history books is known by the testimony of witnesses and accepted by us on a faith in their words. The historian must test the authenticity and credibility of the witnesses which he uses to reconstruct the past. But such tests involve another problem that we need not consider here.

History and other knowledges. There is then a crucial distinction between history and any of the forms of natural knowledge, inductive or syllogistic, studied so far. All such knowledge, from the scientific to the literary, depends upon what is called intrinsic evidence. The evidence from which such knowledge begins is open to our own observation and our own personal experience. Anything so observed and experienced contains, in principle, enough intrinsic evidence so that we can know something about it and even conclude to its causes. But the facts of our direct experience do not enable us to deduce that Washington was president or even that he existed at all. Such knowledge depends on evidence outside our experience and indeed, it rests on the word of somebody else. Such evidence may be called extrinsic. History is therefore a record of the past compiled by extrinsic evidence, like the testimony of witnesses. Knowledge here is a form of faith.

It is true of course that the historian sometimes depends upon unwritten and unspoken records to achieve a knowledge of his subject. He uses such devices as monuments or coins or drawings as evidence for facts he establishes concerning man's past. But even here the study of the past proceeds by instrumental signs extrinsic to the men and the events they signify, and requiring, to the extent that they are purely historical phenomena, a faith that what they signify is true. A monument or an excavated city, like Pompeii, are signs as artificial in principle as the language of an eyewitness would be.

History is neither science nor art. It rests on natural faith. The opinions by historians about historical events can be formed into dialectical syllogisms and inductions, but history, the record of the past, on which such opinion rests, differs in kind from the arts and sciences so far studied. History rests on extrinsic evidence, while science depends upon evidence intrinsic to experience.

Though neither a science nor an art, history serves a function, as no other subject, in initiating us to the tradition of which we are the heirs and continuators. By extending our individual experience to the dimensions of our whole culture, it enables us to profit from the triumphs and failures of the human spirit. By showing us what others have said and done, it aids us to know what we ourselves should think and do. In this respect, history is a valuable preparation for science, giving us in the intellectual order those opinions where dialectic must begin and in the moral order that experience of others' conduct which aids us to regulate our own.

It's good to get confirmation that one is on the right track from someone whom one admires and holds up as a master. Students should be learning more logic and distinguishing between opinion and knowledge...

Note: Look for Hackett edition of Port Royal logic.

More stills from Pirates 3


Into Great Silence has a soundtrack?

I didn't think it did, but they are releasing one... hilarious.

Check out the samples:
01. Matins Introduction - Psalm 3 (7:53) [fire, bell, cell, scissors]
02. The beginner accepts his robe (3:23) [fire, bell]
03. Introït Veni, et ostende nobis faciem tuam (2:30)
04. Offertory Super flumina Babylonis (4:26) [the thaw]
05. Vespers Hymn (Saint Ambroise) - Psalms 144, 145 (10:57) [the cows]
06. Pentecost Matins Venite 8 - Reading: Excerpt from Saint Basil's De Spiritu Sancto - Responsorial (10:20) [drawing up of water]
07. Corpus Christi Canticle of Saint Ambroise and Saint Augustine (15:49) Hymn “Pange Lingua” - Psalm 118 [the crickets, cut of the wood] - [the birds, the delivery of meals]
08. Matins & Lauds Psalm 96 - Canticle of the Three Children (11:11) [bells on the hill and in the cloister]
09. Salve Regina (4:20) [slip in the snow]

Also from the Zeitgeist Films Newsletter:
Listen to Father Michael Holleran, a member of
the Order of Carthusians, speaking about the monastery at Film Forum.

I wonder what someone will make of this.

Evidently Zeitgeist is the distributor for Sophie Scholl as well.

Why Having More No Longer Makes Us Happy

Why Having More No Longer Makes Us Happy
By Bill McKibben, Mother Jones. Posted March 22, 2007.

Bill McKibben's page

Thanks to GodSpy.

Senorita Extraviada: The Missing Women of Ciudad Juarez"

Senorita Extraviada: The Missing Women of Ciudad JuarezDate and Time: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 7:00 p.m.
Location: Higgins 310
Event URL:
Of Interest to Particular Audience: Faculty, Graduate Students, Staff, Undergraduate Students

IMDB page
Crisis in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico - Mass Rape and Murder of Women ...
Stop Violence Against Women
Female homicides in Ciudad Juárez - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The latest by the Mogambo Guru


While Total Fed Credit was down by a miniscule $1.7 billion last week, the Federal Reserve managed to buy up, for themselves and their Treasury co-conspirators, $1.3 billion of U.S. government securities. Not much, to be sure, but this slimy tactic is called "monetizing the debt"; the government wants to spend money, but doesn't have any, so it creates and sells some bonds, and the Federal Reserve (to its everlasting shame) dutifully creates the money to buy them, and then actually buys the bonds with the money!

This is, in essence, the government buying its own debt by creating the money (increasing the money supply) for that exact purpose! This is absolutely crazy! And while there are plenty of you who will say that the Federal Reserve is a private bank, and is not a part of the government at all, you are correct; it is a private bank. But their website address suffix, ".gov" says a lot to me about the supposed independence of the Federal Reserve. This is partly because I am paranoid and distrusting, but mostly because the Fed has done such a pathetically poor job of preserving the value of the dollar. Of course, it's also with Very Damned Good Reason (VDGR), as the economic history of the results of central banks colluding with governments is bleak, bleak, bleak indeed.

And if you don't think that this monetization of debt is an economic horror, I will note that 1.) This means that you have never uttered such nonsense around The Mogambo or you would still be carrying scars to remind you of your folly, and 2.) This kind of monetary crap does not appear anywhere, in any book on economics, except as an illustration of how an economy was horrifically destroyed by its government acting like idiots and debasing the currency - which set off a war, or revolution, or something. Never anything good.

Burning the furniture

Excerpts: EB. Complete essay: GPM.
Burning the furniture

by Richard Heinberg

Mr. Heinberg examines the upcoming Energy Watch Group report as to the size of global coal reserves and the timeline for the peak in global coal production.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Situations To Watch

EB. Original.
The Peak Oil Crisis: Situations To Watch

by Tom Whipple

Evidence is mounting that oil prices will soon climb to new, perhaps unaffordable for many, highs. Some think “soon” is three, four, or five years away. Others think “soon” may be as close as three, four, five, or six months. It is this latter scenario in which oil and gasoline prices reach new highs before the year is out that we look at today.

Everyone, of course, understands that at anytime a bolt from the blue could seriously curtail world oil supplies and run prices to unimagined highs in a matter of days or weeks. Such an impossible-to-anticipate event might be an assassination, a coup, a new war, a terrorist strike or even a well-placed storm.

There are, however, on-going situations which alone or in combinations could push oil prices to new highs in an easily observable and anticipatable manner.

The most obvious situation is the state of US crude and products stockpiles. Although they are currently considered “ample,” total US stockpiles have been dropping since February indicating that we are burning more than we are pumping and importing. Increased US production is largely out of the question. US oil peaked 35 years ago and talk of new deep water discoveries will be nothing but talk for at least the next five or six years.

Thus the issue becomes why imports have been dropping. Some hold that US importers are cutting back during the spring maintenance season when oil refineries traditionally undergo cleaning and overhaul. Others, looking at the drops in crude production by the US’s traditional suppliers such as Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Venezuela, are starting to wonder if importers can really find all the crude they want to import. Keep in mind that one of these days the US will be bidding for available supplies against the well-heeled such as China, Japan, and Europe.

The next problem clearly coming onto the radar screens is the Nigerian elections in April. Without going into a long story, it is looking as if the Nigerian electoral process is more likely to initiate yet another civil war than to successfully pass power from one president to another. Oil production is already down about 600,000 barrels a day due to insurgent attacks and more are promised if the elections turn into a fiasco. Many scenarios are possible ranging from a near-total cutoff of Nigeria’s on-shore oil production to US intervention. Watch this one closely.

The 64 billion barrel question, however, is the state of the Saudi oil fields. Many hold, and with good reason, that when Saudi Arabia goes into depletion, the oil age is on the way out. During the last six months Saudi production has dropped from 9.5 million to 8.5 million barrels a day. Now there are several possible reasons for this drop ranging from not being able to find buyers for their heavy, sulfur-laden oil at today’s prices, through a desire to force up prices by cutting supplies, to the key issue which is that the Saudis simply can’t find and open new production fast enough to keep ahead of depletion in their aging fields. If this is the case then 2007 will be a seminal year.

Although the Saudis proclaim that all is well and their “capacity to produce oil” will soon reach new heights, it is likely that before the year is out we should have a better insight into the kingdom’s future as an oil producer.

If Saudi production continues to drop during 2007, suspicions of trouble in the kingdom’s oil fields will increase to a feverish pitch— as of course will oil prices. If prices increase significantly this summer and the Saudi’s don’t respond with significantly higher production, then many will hold that, at least temporarily, the Saudis can not increase production.

A sleeper issue due to come to a head this spring is the nature of the participation by western oil companies in production of synthetic crude from Venezuela’s Orinoco heavy oil sands. A few weeks back, President Chavez decreed the six western oil companies must turn over 60 percent interests and control of the Orinoco projects to the government’s oil company. Negotiations are now going to determine the terms under which the Western oil companies will remain involved in the projects in which they have already invested $30 billion.

The next few weeks should tell whether the oil companies are willing to stay in the Orinoco helping the Venezuelans make synthetic crude, using the oil companies proprietary technology, for much less profit, or simply walk away seeking to recover their investment in the courts. At stake is about 500,000 barrels a day of synthetic crude production which the Venezuelans may or may not be able to keep running by themselves.

Keep an eye on the hurricane season. The El Nino hot spot in the Pacific, which many believe suppressed the 2006 hurricanes in the Gulf, has cooled off. Surface temperatures are already above normal so the ingredients are in place for an active 2007 hurricane season.

Keep the other eye on what the Mexicans are telling us about production from their giant Cantarell oil field, most of which has been coming to the US. Should production really tank in 2007, some believe that the US will have difficulty finding enough oil on the world market to import.

Iraqi oil production continues to bubble along with exports running about 1.5 million barrels a day. Stealing oil and revenue in Iraq is obviously so profitable to the various insurgent groups that nobody wants to blow up the gravy train until they have to. If the recently announced US crackdown on oil stealing is successful, we might see more oil infrastructure blowing up and exports going down.

As a closing thought, keep your remaining eye on the dollar. Some believe there is enough financial turmoil just ahead to limit our ability to import oil.

China: Illegal land-grabs up

Illegal land-grabs up
Nearly 100,000 hectares of farmland was expropriated last year, 76 per cent more than in the previous year. The central government appears impotent against abuses by local officials and business people.

Two-thirds of world to face water crisis by 2025

Two-thirds of world to face water crisis by 2025
UN warns on World Water Day that pollution and mismanagement of water resources are among the main factors causing draughts. North Africa, the Middle East and western Asia are the most affected regions.

The Tallis Scholars

The Tallis Scholars are coming to Boston on Saturday to perform for the Boston Early Music Festival at St. Paul's in Cambridge. Their program.

From the BEMF website:
Listen to Tallis Scholars (Lassus: Salve regina, Palestrina–Sicut lilium I)

official site
Peter Phillips
Gimell Records
Tallis Scholars Summer Schools

Nunc Dimittis by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina:

Their namesake, Thomas Tallis.

There are still some tickets available in the C and D sections... I haven't decided whether I will go or not...


The Western Confucian refers us to this article: Confucian academy, village offer glimpses of Joseon dynasty lifestyle.

The city of Yeongju, surrounded by the panoramic Sobaek Mountains in northern North Gyeongsang Province, is known in South Korea as a "home" of scholars called "seonbi" during the final Korean kingdom.

Seonbi refers to Confucian scholars of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), typically those who were preparing for the state-held civil service examination, called "gwageo," or had already passed it.

As a spiritual and social pillar of the Confucian kingdom, the scholars actually led the kingdom in various respects and the "spirit of seonbi" was considered one of the most important set of values a person should seek for life. It meant that one should understand propriety and sense of shame; be reasonable by learning morals, arts, and science; respect honor and principles throughout one's life; avoid shameful and improper behavior; be proper in one's remarks and behavior; and observe laws and regulations and respect justice.


Toxic Waste in the Sub-Prime Market

Robin Blackburn
Toxic Waste in the Sub-Prime Market

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Reading Sigrid Undset Today

Reading Sigrid Undset Today by Cynthia Grenier, a bio (Thanks to Open Book.)

iirc, MBH did her senior thesis on some of Undset's works.

More Links
Sigrid Undset's Time Warp
Stamp of Sigrid Undset
The Unknown Sigrid Undset

Bic Runga

Jushifruiti introduced me to this singer/songwriter from New Zealand. I just learned that she's half-Chinese. According to wiki, she announced on her myspace that she's pregant. I don't think she's married. All these singers having children out of wedlock... Charlotte Church is pregnant by her boyfriend (I don't know if they will be getting married), Michelle Branch... who else? Gwen Stefani?

Regarding the pronunciation of "Bic": "'You say it Bec, rather than Bic,' explains New Zealand singer-songwriter Bic Runga. 'It's Chinese, it's a strange vowel sound which doesn't seem to translate in Australia. It means the colour of jade, which I suppose is just green.'" — "Bic from the brink" by Alexa Moses, The Sydney Morning Herald, September 13, 2002
Is this why jushifruiti was asking me about bik? haha

Her website and myspace; fansite

Her newest album is Birds.


Drive, Live in London


Sway, Live in London

Sway, Wedgewood Rooms

Listening for the Weather

Bic Runga - Get Some Sleep (live)

Bic Runga - The Be All And End All

"Ne Me Quitte Pas" - Bic Runga cover, Live in London

more videos

Song Gang-ho Wins Best Actor at HK Film

Song Gang-ho Wins Best Actor at HK Film

One of my favorite actors...

Sports Brands Compete to Sign Up Stars
Tony Leung on Being a Shy Movie Star
Cardinal Cheong Hopes for 'Gracious' Next President
Actress Lee Mi-sook Splits from Surgeon Husband
Porn Video Shoots to Top at Yahoo Korea Open Site

Two Becoming One Flesh

Two Becoming One Flesh:
On Marriage as the Union of the Sexual and the Economic

by Allan Carlson, Ph.D.

Other relevant articles:
Love Is Not Enough: Toward the Recovery of a Family Economics
Why Things Went Wrong: The Decline of the Natural Family

Dealing Girls a Raw and Racy Deal

Dealing Girls a Raw and Racy Deal

Interview With Director of Women's Forum

PERTH, Australia, MARCH 21, 2007 ( A recent report from the American Psychological Association on the harmful effects of the sexualization of girls shows that society needs a new strategy for young women, according to a leading women's advocate in Australia.

Melinda Tankard Reist, t he founding director of Women's Forum Australia, commented on the report to ZENIT, noting that instead of turning girls into sexual objects, society should teach them to "be resilient and to defend their dignity and self-respect."

Tankard Reist is also the author of "Giving Sorrow Words: Women's Stories of Grief After Abortion," and "Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics."

Q: A recent report published by the American Psychological Association pointed out the damage caused by the sexualizing of preteen and adolescent girls. How serious is this problem today in your opinion?

Tankard Reist: The problem of the premature sexualizing of girls is one of the most serious issues confronting us as a society at the present time. Girls are being turned into sexual objects earlier and earlier.

The messages they receive through popular culture is that to be attractive, to be accepted, you have to dress and behave in a sexual manner. There are now lingerie clothing lines for preteen girls, and bras for girls under 10, T-shirts with sexual slogans, and even a pole dancing kit complete with a DVD that features "sexy dance tracks" for 6-year-olds.

Popular lines of dolls for girls feature sexy clothing and sexy personas. Gossip magazines aimed at a preteen readership also encourage girls to behave in a sexual manner, with pages devoted to grooming and relationships -- even with older men.

In advertising catalogues, children are dressed up, made-up and posed in the same way that adults are. This suggests that children are interested in, and perhaps open to, approaches for sex.

Young girls are not emotionally equipped to process the sexual messages being targeted at them. It is difficult for them, when abandoned to their autonomy, to resist outside pressure. We are seeing the effects of this premature sexualizing on the bodies of our young women in self-destructive behaviors such as excessive dieting and eating disorders, drug taking and binge drinking, self harm, anxiety, depression, lower academic performance and ill health.

Prescriptions for drugs to treat depression in young girls increase every year. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia are at epidemic proportions -- and manifesting in children as young as 8. I am pleased the APA has taken the issue seriously -- though I hope it's not too late.

Q: Decades ago one of the aims of feminism was to end the exploitation of women, yet contemporary culture has reduced women more than ever to her sex appeal. Has feminism failed women in this area?

Tankard Reist: I must admit I found it very hard to celebrate International Women's Day this year. I have three daughters and I see how vulnerable they are to messages about sexuality and body image and how hard it is for them to resist this. It is difficult to raise them in a culture so destructive of their self-esteem and which so abbreviates their childhood.

Many gains have been made by the women's movement, that needs to be acknowledged. But at some stage, efforts to end the exploitation of women were overtaken by the movement for sexual liberalism.

Suddenly, women's freedom was reduced to women's freedom to be sexual playthings for male arousal and pleasure. "Liberation" has come to mean a woman's ability to pole dance, expose herself, have multiple partners and avail herself of cosmetic surgery to enhance her "assets."

Sexual liberalism has not advanced women's freedom, but eroded and undermined it. We are living in a sexually brutalized culture. We are seeing more harassment, stalking and rape, more alcohol-fueled sexual abuse and use of date rape drugs. In general, more predatory behaviour.

While radical feminism has questioned the rhetoric of "choice" and exposed the costs to women of the so-called sexual revolution, liberal mainstream "choice" feminism needs to take some responsibility for a confused and destructive notion of freedom that underlines much of the assaults we see today on women's genuine dignity.

Ariel Levy's book "Female Chauvinist Pigs" describes how a culture of sexual display and raunchy behaviors -- i.e. strippers, porn stars, pole dancers, etc. -- is actually a monoculture which does nothing to empower women. It becomes clear that it is not freedom of expression, but a strong cultural expectation for women to appear and behave a particular way.

Q: The unhindered portrayal of sexual images and messages in the media is often defended in the name of freedom of speech. It is also argued that a lack of sexual restraint is "liberating" for women. What is your opinion on these points?

Tankard Reist: The barrage of sexual images in popular culture cannot be justified on "free speech" grounds when it is causing so much damage to vulnerable children who need protection.

Online networks of pedophiles also use "free speech" arguments when trading in images of children being raped. In Australia, a prominent social researcher, Hugh Mackay, said recently that there was too much censorship and that no one was harmed by the mere downloading of child porn.

He completely ignored the fact that every download fuels a demand for more images -- and often more degrading images. This attitude also ignores the harm done to the child whose image is used again and again for sexual gratification around the world.

The APA study and other research, for example by the Australia Institute and by my organization, Women's Forum Australia, provides solid evidence for the harm being caused by plastering society's wallpaper with sexual images.

What we are witnessing is not liberation but oppression. It is not liberating for young women to be told everyday that their only power is in their sexual currency. It is not liberating to convey to women that their freedom lies in participating in their own exploitation. To portray the sexual as the only value of a woman is not liberation, but rather oppression.

Q: What are some of the effects have you seen on adolescents and women regarding the consequences of a culture that increasingly puts no limits on sexual expression and behavior?

Tankard Reist: Young women are facing huge pressure to conform to a sexualized norm.

The "norm" is that young women have an insatiable appetite for sex. This is a cultural assumption that women should be having sex -- at least daily -- and something is wrong if they're not. There is profound pressure from the media for young women to be sexually attractive and active. Without this they are thought of as abnormal and unfulfilled.

Young women are compromised by a sexual free-for-all in which they come to expect only cold soulless encounters -- where they are always expected to give out sexual favors with little in return.

The newly released "Sex lives of Australian Teenagers" demonstrates this. It makes bleak reading, revealing how little real love there is in the sexual -- I was going to say "intimate," but there's little real intimacy either -- exchanges between young people.

Q: What can be done to promote a healthier view of women in the sense of a greater respect for their dignity and their role in society?

Tankard Reist: We need a new strategy for women and girl advocacy.

We need to empower young women especially to be resilient and to defend their dignity and self-respect.

The decision not to submit to hypersexualized messages and to live above the dictates of the culture, needs to be seen for what it is -- a radical and defiant alternative lifestyle.

Young women deserve better than to be treated as merely the sum of their sexual parts. They need to be given encouragement to develop their minds, their intellects, their deeper inner lives, rather than wasting hours in trying to get their bodies to conform to an idealized oversexualized type.

We need more social protection of girls, and even more so because of the excesses of popular culture and the sexual danger this puts them in. As Joan Jacobs Brumberg, author of "The Body Project," points out: "Although girls now mature sexually earlier than ever before, contemporary … society provides fewer social protections for them, a situation that leaves them unsupported in their development and extremely vulnerable to the excesses of popular culture and to pressure from peer groups."

We also need to be investing a lot more in raising decent men. There are many men who share the concerns I have raised here. But there are other men -- and it is primarily men -- who create the demand for the sort of material that strips women of dignity and respect. It is mostly men who commit sexual crimes, who traffic millions of women and girls a year into the twin industries of pornography and prostitution. It is mostly men who buy pornography and prostituted women.

I don't have any easy answers here -- but I'd like to know why we aren't doing more to bring out the best -- not the worst -- in boys and young men? Boys are also demeaned and brutalized by a culture that conditions them to this type of behaviour.

In a Melbourne suburb, a group of 12 boys sexually humiliated an intellectually disabled girl then sold the DVD of the abuse to students at high schools in the area for 5 Australian dollars each. The DVD was also shown online for some time before it was removed. But many people defended their behavior, saying it was just a bunch of boys "having a bit of fun." As long as this attitude prevails, then there is little hope for our girls.

We need a new global movement prepared to stand up against corporations, advertisers, the sex industry, the makers of violent video games and demeaning music clip and Internet sites. We need the same momentum as we've seen drive recent movements against global warming and world poverty propel a new movement for fighting our toxic cultural environment.

Gatchaman Movie concept art

The AICN article or go here. I wonder if the MD's husband would be interested.

The one-sheet for 28 Weeks Later. I think it may be better than 28 Days Later. Will it be better than Will Smith's next movie?

Notes on a Scandal

Notes on a Scandal
Apple trailer
Yahoo movies

R.J. Move, Britain in the Ashtray: Notes on a Scandal

I was somewhat interested in watching this movie before reading the article; now, I'm not sure, although I am sure Dame Judi Dench and Cate Blanchette give good performances. But it may be too depressing for my tastes, even if there is some sort of moral to be drawn from the story. Do I need to watch another movie about the decline of society?

Still, I am interested in how the movie ends--but that's what Movie Spoiler is for.

Fr. Fessio asked to resign as provost

Fumare has Fr. Fessio's letter to the Ave Maria University community.

If things really get bad, I hope the Aquinas Center can find a home somewhere else.

What is going on at Ave Maria???

Peter Hitchens on marijuana


Hans Kung takes shots at Benedict in new book

Hans Kung takes shots at Benedict in new book

via NOR

Islam’s expansion into the Caucasus and Central Asia

Islam’s expansion into the Caucasus and Central Asia
Located in the heart of Eurasia and a crossroad of cultures, the Caucasus/Central Asia region is going through tough times. This is favouring the expansion of Ilamic fundamentalism with potentially destabilising consequences, this, at least, according to scholars from Warsaw’s Centre for Eastern Studies who are participating in an important conference in Rome.

Rome (AsiaNews) – The collapse of the Soviet Union, Western focus on economics rather than human rights, Moscow’s errors and its violent reactions to demands for independence in the Caucasus are favouring the expansion of Islamic fundamentalism, this according to Centre for Eastern Studies. Tomorrow, professors Jacek Cichocki, Maciej Falkowski and Krzysztof Strachota from the Warsaw-based institute will present a conference titled “Islam in the current context of Central Asia and Caucasus: A Socio-Political Approach," organised by the Pontificia Università Gregoriana and Polish Embassy to the Holy See.

The starting point of the thesis elaborated by the Centre and presented in various studies is that that the Caucasus and Central Asia are located in the heart of the Eurasian continent and represent a borderline where the European, Russian, Chinese and Islamic civilisations meet.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union a number of independent states emerged in the both areas: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Southern Caucasus, and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan in the Central Asia. However, it also marked the rebirth of nationalist sentiments in many republics in the northern Caucasus that are part of the Russian federation. These, in many respects, are closer to the southern Caucasus and Central Asia than the rest of Russia.

Complicating matters is the fact that this region has now become an area of competition between Russia, USA, China and regional powers like Iran and Turkey in what some have started calling the New Great Game. However, the West has played an ambiguous role as it appeals for democratisation and the respect of human rights, but often sets its own economic interests above everything else.

Above all, after decades of enforced Soviet atheism, Islam is re-emerging as the dominant religion, except for Georgia and Armenia which remain Christian.

Islam is a key identity marker for the nations that occupy much of the Caucasus and Central Asia, a pillar of the regions’ customs and a natural ideology for the region’s native populations.

Local Muslim societies have traditionally been tolerant towards Christians (mostly Orthodox), but any attempts to convert Muslims tend to trigger aversion and even violent hostility. Increasingly Islam has become the basis for national identity, especially in the Russian Federation.

As time goes by, the former Soviet, now independent states leave the post-Soviet space and become an integral part of the Ummah, the worldwide community of Muslims, and are thus affected by its unstable situation, particularly by the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. More and more, radical Islamic movements and countries like Iran play a role in the region.

Moscow’s incompetent handling of the conflict in Chechnya and its attempts to crush nationalist movements in this and other republics have favoured Islam’s growth.

The deteriorating economic and social situations in the region, especially among the young who see no future for themselves, make matters worse.

In many places tensions have already reached the boiling point—good examples are the revolts in the Uzbek city of Andijan (May 2005) and the Nalchik city in the northern Caucasus (October 2005).

Local governments reacted crushing the protest movements as the West limited itself to verbal criticism.

In Russia’s northern Caucasus the lack of freedom and the violent repression of autonomist and independentist aspirations have fuelled Islamic fundamentalism which has become the only venue many young people have to protest and express their aspirations.

For the Centre for Eastern Studies “the influence of political, social and economic factors that stimulate the development of Islamic fundamentalism is unlikely to decline, [and] one can expect that Islam’s influence on the both regions will rather be a destabilising one.”

Yukie Nakama vids, pt 1


Amino Value

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Should following fashion become unfashionable?

Many of them were dressed up like the typical patrons for the Boston Early Music Festival. Wearing tennis shoes, blue jeans, unkept hair, and many were overweight. I would like look up to older people as role models, but where can I find exemplars for good fashion sense? I know of some seniors who do have an appreciation of looking good (which is not the same as buying expensive clothing). And I really doubt these movie-goers are poor--how can they afford to watch a movie at 1:00 in the afternoon if they were? Blue Jeans are good in so far as they are durable, and those who have to walk great distances may have a reason to wear them, in addition to those who are engaged in manual labor. And yes, in cold weather, a pair of slacks may be insufficient to protect one against the cold. But what about the supposedly "leisured" classes, who have transportation?

I wouldn't mind wearing "finer" clothing, semi-formal wear, but who is going to pay for it? As a grad student, I have no money to spend on expensive clothing. And who will pay to replace the dress pants or slacks, which will suffer the inevitable wear and tear that comes from hiking up and down the hill to campus? Still, I must confess that I hate the modern suit--particularly the coat and the pants. I would like to see the return of a heavier vest/waistcoast, rather than the very light vest that comes with the standard suit. Defending the use of the suit as a part of the dress of the bourgeoisie by calling it a 'uniform' or referring to tradition seems to me to be wrong-headed. (Jeffrey Tucker recommends convention.) After all, it was not selected through a democratic process, but in the U.K. at least was imposed from above. (Perhaps in France as well.) It was adopted by the new monied class, which gradually replaced the traditional elites. I am opposed to the uniformity that comes from centralization, and which is based upon a certain taste in fashion prevailing over others among the elites, while the rest of society is forced to keep up with the fashion tyrants.

Who can afford to replace their wardrobe year after year? Perhaps one can still submit to fashion trends and save money by purchasing the knockoffs from Target. Still, even to do this considerably seems extravagantly wasteful. As long as one's clothing can still be used, should not one keep it? What sort of economy (and exploitation) makes it possible for a minority (and a minority, even if we compare the popuplations of Western Europe, the United States, and the elites of other countries that benefit from them with the rest of the world) to have "fashion trends"?

Fortunately, the design of the basic coat has remained rather stable for the past 60 years or so. Why innovation for men's fashion has decreased, I do not know. Is it because the basic design (with some variations between the Italian, British, and American suits) has been spread all over the world? Yet, Western women's fashion remains considerably more differentiated, and it has achieved dominance in many non-Western markets as well.

These days my complaint about the modern coat tends to be more about the aesthetics than class identification and the pressure to conform to fashion trends (though I think those are valid points to make, especially when one looks at the moral issues involved in constantly changing fashion). I find the modern dress shirt and modern coat and the modern tie to be ugly compared to their 19th and 18th ce progenitors. I don't understand the continued attraction of contemporary designers to the modern coat. Couldn't someone be retro and lengthen the coat a bit? (For a day wedding I generally think a coat with "tails" is more attractive than the modern coat which is shorter in length. On the other hand, I wonder if I really like how they are open in the front...) It's too bad that one cannot return to the occasional use of a robe, unless one is a cleric and can wear a cassock or something similar. There are very few coat designs between the 17th and 20th designs that I would like, though the coats around the Regency period are good. Some styles during the 17th century definitely exhibit a certain triumph of appearance over function--if a coat does not keep one warm, what good is it? (I am thinking especially of those coats that apparently cannot be buttoned up and thus are useless for insulating body heat.)

As for the imposition of the Western suit worldwide as the uniform of office place and business class. I find it tragic that people, in their rush to adopt Western technology and practices, have given up their own native clothing. Among industrializing nations some attempts have been made to preserve something distinct, in part a reaction against Westernization. Indians have their Nehru jacket; the Chinese have their own version with a Mandarin collar, in addition to the Zhongshan jacket? There are also the more traditional-looking jackets or coats (which were actually derived from the fashion introduced by the Manchus?)...

An article from last year on Blanc de Chine. Is the store in NYC open now? I tried visiting it a couple of years ago, but it did not exist. Perhaps it has opened since then. I will try looking for it next time I am in NYC.

I don't know if Jackie Chan is still affiliated with Blanc de Chine, but he often wears clothing inspired by traditional designs.

You can see more examples in his official photo gallery.

Wiki's History of Western Fashion
The Costumer's Manifesto: Costume History, Links on Men's Fashion History
Google Directory
01.04.11: A Chronological Look Through Fashion History: A Trip ...

If I knew more about clothing and the proper fitting, perhaps I could answer the question of whether clothes of a certain style look better for one body type rather than another. Can anyone provide an answer?

Misc: Roman Clothing -- Men

Into Great Silence

I went to Kendall Cinema yesterday to catch a viewing of Into Great Silence. I had some trouble finding the theater at first, though I was able to recognize my surroundings eventually and I located One Kendall Square. I walked by the MIT CoOp on Main, but I didn't go in this time, as I was in a rush to find the theater. I saw some MIT students walking around on the streets; there were also your technology workers going to and from the nearby companies and University Park? How much longer can the United States maintain its edge in technology and computers? (And how much computing power is really necessary for the well-being of a political community? How much is unnecessary, and needed only for [misspent] leisure? And are computers an instrument for those who wish to maintain empire, both political and economic? Those who claim that one can return to a more humane lifestyle by promoting telecommuting through the use of computers do not seem to acknowledge that this does nothing to diminish the centralization that already exists.)

I think there were at least 50 to 55 people watching the movie. Not bad for a 1:00 showing. Most of them were old people, though I think there was one father who brought his teenaged son to watch the movie. There was also one priest, I believe (he was wearing civies).

The documentary has been the subject of other posts:

The Grand Silence

Film About Monastery Wins Award

An interview with the filmmaker, Philip Groening

I'll introduce it only by saying that it is a record of life at the Carthusian Charterhouse in France.

Someone else submitted the following for me to post; it's regarding the changes that have taken place at the Charterhouse in the past 30 years or so:



  • The venerable Carthusian Rite has been reformed but to a less degree than the Roman Rite. The Divine Office is in the vernacular with the exception of Matins & Lauds. Vespers is sung in the vernacular. They use the vernacular in the lessons of the night office as well as in the readings in the refectory and other ceremonies (e.g. reception of novices).

  • The deacon at the conventual mass now wears his stole in the Roman fashion.

  • The sanctuary has been completely “renovated”. I noticed the following:

-The elevated high altar w/ tabernacle has been replaced with a simple level altar.

-The elevated “throne”(sedilia) that was attached to the epistle wall is gone.

-The elevated gospel lectern, which faced north, w/ 2 floor candlesticks is gone.

-The 4 great floor candlesticks in the sanctuary are gone.

-The hanging sanctuary lamp is gone (replaced w/ a candle).

  • Communion is taken under both kinds and the precious blood was taken w/ a goblet of sorts.

  • They gathered around the altar to communicate and there was no orderly movement back to their stalls.

  • The permanent monastic tonsure (monastic corona) has been replaced with the shaved head.

  • Too many other changes in the rite to mention.


  • Electricity and running water have found a place in the monastery.

  • The monastery has a computer and electric keyboard.

  • You can hear a power saw in the background.

  • Some monks wear watches and civilian clothes.

  • Electric razors


  • One of the brothers was speaking to the cats in the attic.

  • Food portions looked plentiful.

  • Skiing?

  • The fact that they let themselves be filmed.

We also noted that the monks wear blue habits for work? Is an additional habit necessary? Or would an apron be sufficient?

From the documentary one can learn about the Carthusian way of life as it exists now at the Charterhouse. Does it show us the daily rhythms of the monastery? Many have praised the film for its revelation of how the search for God is concretized in the life of the Carthusian monks. I think I have to rewatch the film; but it didn't "work" so well for me (though I am not sure exactly what its effect was supposed to be). While I was watching I was thinking of how I would rather participate in the life of the monastery, or at least chant the office, to do lectio divina, and to offer one's daily work to God, rather than just being a passive viewer of someone else doing it. I yearn for the simple life; even if one is not called to be a monk, and is called to marriage, there are many things that we can actually do without. Simplicity is not beyond our reach. St. Thomas Aquinas does talk about how one may need certain things in accordance with one's state in life, but I don't think this is necessarily opposed to simplicity. Certainly it is not opposed to the spirit of detachment, especially if we remember that things are to be used for the common good and are given to us by God so that we can live charity more fully.

There are many beautiful shots of the Charterhouse and its surroundings, reminding me of how ugly megapolises are... wouldn't it be better to live in a properly sized city or village, with men acting as stewards of nature, providing for their needs and appreciate its beauty while referring it back to its Creator?

I do recommend that Catholics watch the documentary and see how the monks are a sign of contradiction to those of us who are accustomed to living luxuriously... depending upon cheap energy and such. I wonder how intelligible the film will be to those who are not well catechized. For example, will they understand the significance of the sanctuary lamp? One should not be surprised if many Catholics do not know what the sanctuary lamp is for.

I was told that their Chartreuse is produced somewhere else, and not on the grounds of the Charterhouse. I've never tasted it; has anyone else out there? I remember Mr. Janaro talking about it during our Old Testament class. info on Chartreuse

On a related note... someone was also reminding me about the Trappists, and how they began as a monastic reform movement after the Cistercians began to decline. (And let us remember that the Cistercians were formed as a response to the decline of Cluny.)

wiki for Cistercians
Cistercian Chant
Cistercian life
Cistercian Publications
Cistercian Publications
Institute of Cistercian Studies
Cistercian Studies Quarterly
The Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank
Welcome to St.Mary's Abbey, Glencairn.
Our Lady of the Angels Monastery
Mount Saint Joseph Abbey
The Cistercians and the Trappists info
The Cistercians: an introductory history by M. Basil Pennington OCSO.
The Cistercians in the USA
Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance
Trappist Cistercian Monks Nuns
Monastery of the Holy Spirit
Abbey of Gethsemani
New Malleray Abbey
Saint Joseph's Abbey
Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey
Oita Trappist Monastery (Japan!)
Abbey of the Genesee
Assumption Abbey
Welkom bij de trappisten
Chinese Trappist monk breaks the age barrier
Trappist Beer