Saturday, July 14, 2007

Not a review of License to Wed

Fujian Gal wanted to go watch License to Wed because of Robin Williams and also because one of her clients is the father of John Krasinski. (She had an interesting story to tell in this regard--apparently when he was trying out for The Office, the father was heard to be complaining, "My ----- [I forgot the exact adjective... loser?] son is trying out for some stupid show in L.A. We'll see if that happens." He had not been successful before.) I was very reluctant to watch it because I find Robin Williams annoying; but since she wanted to watch it, I decided to go with her. Besides, she was paying for the ticket. We went to the vigil Mass this afternoon, since for some reason she didn't want to go tomorrow. Then we went to Verizon store since she had to return to some times, then a quick stop at the automated teller machine, and then Star's for some items. Dinner was at Victoria's--salt and spicy fish filet and General Gao's chicken (for which Fujian Gal had a craving, but she didn't like the Victoria's version, since it was too much like sweet and sour chicken, though with chili), plus West Lake minced beef soup. The movie itself was what I expected--not so funny. It seems to condone fornication and premarital cohabitation. While it does talk a little bit about compatability and of course the importance of communication, I don't think it offers enough insight into what makes for a successful mariage. (The movie Knocked Up was probably not much better in that respect.) I feel asleep during the part where Mandy Moore is driving with a blindfold, and woke up after Fujian Gal started elbowing me. (I had been snoring.)

While we were driving over to Victoria's, Fujian Gal was chatting with a coworker from Benetton on the phone. Evidently he used to work on State St., but quit because he didn't like his job anymore. So... now he's working at Benetton and partying and getting drunk. He sounded like a teenager or a 20-something, but apparently he's actually in his late 30s. What to make of that?!? Well, she's not impressed with him either, but she said she "likes to hang out with a variety of people" because she's "nice." I suppose for the sake of just hanging out that's ok, it's just something I barely relate to these days... I do think she should be a little bit more picky about the people she hangs out with. But then again, she's in no rush to get married so...
As for adultlescent males... perhaps I should be more "compassionate" but these days they usually annoy me more than anything else. What a contrast they are to a friend who is older than me by just two or three years. I've known him since 1998, when he was one of my teachers. Perhaps it's a Virginian thing? I wish.

He has an air of gravitas that is lacking in so many young (and middle-aged?) adults. I think all of my other older friends (there aren't many) I met at the seminary. Hrm... now I'm feeling a bit nostalgic for seminary life. For me, not much can compare to being around mature serious Catholics... men who have a secure grounding in the faith and their sense of vocation. I'd rather be teaching in a religious house of formation or a seminary, and have a chance at molding the youth, than in a big college or university where I'm just an interchangeable cog in the education machine. What would St. Thomas More advise?

Becoming Jane opens on August 3rd, same day as Bourne Ultimatum.
Fansite? The Bourne Ultimatum

Ron Paul videos from his visit to Silicon Valley

YouTube interview (Thanks to David Griffus.):

Just 10 minutes? Couldn't they have made it longer? I don't think even 10 questions were asked of Dr. Paul. There are more informative clips available on YouTube, but for Ron Paul junkies this interview will probably be worth their time.

Google interview Thanks to David Griffus.:

60 minutes. Now we're talking.

"The Constitution as an agreement between the people and the government." Social contract theory? Then it would play into the critique of the right to secede put forth by Dr. C. N.R. McCoy and others. How about an agreement between the states?

Websites for The Golden Age

official site
Elizabeth: The Golden Age Movie - Yahoo! Movies UK
Working Title Films // The Golden Age
Shekhar Kapur: The Golden Age

PCR, The Truth Comes Out About Offshoring

From The Truth Comes Out About Offshoring:

On Jan. 6, 2004, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and I scandalized the economics profession and Washington policymakers with our New York Times article "Second Thoughts on Free Trade." We noted that the two conditions on which the case for free trade rests no longer exist in the present-day world and that there was no basis for the assumption that offshoring of U.S. jobs was beneficial overall to Americans.

The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., organized a conference, televised by C-SPAN, to subject our argument to peer review, and we easily dominated the conference.

The March 22, 2004, issue of BusinessWeek ran a column from me explaining the adverse effects of offshoring, and Tim Aeppel at The Wall Street Journal organized an online debate between myself and Columbia University trade theorist Jagdish Bhagwati.

Aeppel hoped to test the validity of my points in the crucible of debate with a leading academic proponent of offshoring. However, Bhagwati evaded my argument and threatened to withdraw his participation if my reference to the latest work in trade theory by Ralph Gomory and William Baumol was included in the edited version of our debate in the May 10, 2004, Wall Street Journal. In "Global Trade and Conflicting National Interests" published in 2000 by the M.I.T. Press, Gomory and Baumol show that the case for free trade is a special case and had never been one of general validity. Their criticism is more far-reaching than the one made by me and Schumer.

Bhagwati's skill in evading my argument told most people who read the edited version of our debate that he could not answer me. Obviously, all was not well with the establishment's contentment with offshoring and "globalism."

Paul Samuelson, in many respects the dean of American economists, wrote an article supportive of Gomory and Baumol's work. But nothing happened. Economists simply closed ranks and ignored the points that I brought to their attention, as well as the latest work in trade theory. Libertarian free trade ideologues got upset with me. Unable to deny that the case for free trade had lost its necessary foundations, libertarians reduced the issue to one of economic freedom and concluded that I was impure.

Second Thoughts on Free Trade (Global Exchange)

In addition to their unexamined commitment to free trade, economists disbelieved my analysis because they thought it was inconsistent with statistics indicating high US productivity and GDP growth. They thought GDP and productivity statistics trumped my use of job data.

All of this may be about to change. Susan N. Houseman, a good but previously obscure economist with the Upjohn Institute, has discovered a problem in the statistical data that produces phantom US GDP. Phantom GDP results when cost reductions achieved by US firms shifting production offshore are miscounted as US GDP growth. Phantom productivity increases occur when gains from moving design, research and development offshore are counted as increases in US productivity. Obviously, production and productivity that take place abroad are not part of our domestic economy.

Business Week’s June 18 cover story by Michael Mandel [The Real Cost Of Offshoring] explains the problem identified by Houseman. Economist Matthew J. Slaughter, a proponent of offshoring, says: “There are potentially big implications. I worry about how pervasive this is.” Business Week says the implications are big. The cover story estimates that 40% of the gain in US manufacturing output since 2003 is phantom GDP.

Most likely that estimate is low. Consider, for example, that furniture imports have doubled in the past few years (offshored production counts as imports) while US jobs in furniture manufacture have declined 21%. US statistics, however, show that US output and productivity rose even as US manufacturers closed their plants and no new investment went into the industry.
Should we have doubts about how the GDP is calculated? Numbers can be used to deceive, especially if the basis for generating the numbers and the facts they supposedly represent are unknown to the American public. If the numbers do not truly represent reality, then should we be asking whether those who put forth such reports are intentionally deceiving the public?

See also his Goodbye To The City Upon A Hill And To Its Fabled Economy

For a number of years Charles McMillion of MBG Information Services and I have documented from BLS nonfarm payroll jobs data that the US economy in the 21st century no longer creates net new jobs in tradable goods and services. In the 21st century, job growth in “the world’s only superpower” has a definite third world flavor. US job growth has been limited to domestic services that cannot be moved offshore, such as waitresses and bartenders and health and social services.

These are not jobs that comprise ladders of upward mobility. Income inequality is worsening, and education is no longer the answer.

The problem is that middle class jobs, both in manufacturing and in professional occupations such as engineering, are being offshored as corporations replace their American workforces with foreigners. I have called jobs offshoring “virtual immigration.”

The latest bombshell is that even those professional jobs that remain located in America are not safe. There is a vast industry of immigration law firms that enable American corporations to replace their American workers with foreigners brought in on work visas.

For years Americans have been told that work visas are only issued in cases where there are no Americans with the necessary skills to fill the jobs. Americans have been reassured that safeguards are in place to prevent US companies from using the work visas to replace their American employees with foreigners paid below the prevailing US wage. Now, thanks to a video placed on “YouTube” by a US law firm, Cohen & Grigsby, marketing its services, we now know that it is easy for US companies to legally evade the “safeguards” and to replace their American employees with lower paid foreigners.
How widespread are the practice used by Cohen and Grigsby?

University of California computer science professor Norman Matloff has an excellent presentation available at his online site about the lack of impediments to the ability of US firms to replace their American employees with foreigners. Matloff says to keep in mind that Cohen & Grigsby “is NOT a rogue law firm.” The advice provided by Cohen & Grigsby is the standard advice given by the hoards of immigration attorneys who are personally cleaning up by putting Americans out of work.

NORMAN MATLOFF'S IMMIGRATION FORUM; Norman Matloff's Unix and Linux Tutorial Center; Norman S. Matloff, Faculty, Department of Computer Science; VDARE - Norman Matloff Exposes H1B Fraud; Technology The scourge of Silicon Valley; Testimony of Norman Matloff: Debunking the Myth of a Desperate ...; Norman Matloff - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Roberts follows up on his earlier article:

Chances are high that economists will ignore the story also. Economists have made fools of themselves with their hyped claims that jobs offshoring is a great benefit to America and that any attempt to stop it would bring hardship, failed companies, and lost American jobs. When a profession gets egg all over its face, it closes ranks and goes into denial.

Unlike the post-depression generation of US economists, recent generations of economists have been indoctrinated with confidence in business. They believe that business knows best and that the free market will prevent or correct any mistakes. Many economists today are well paid shills for special interests. Others, simply careless, have assumed that statistical measures of high rates of US productivity and GDP growth were indications of the benefits that offshoring was bringing to Americans.

Only a few economists, such as myself and Charles McMillion, noticed the inconsistency between alleged high rates of productivity and GDP growth on one hand and stagnant real median incomes and rising income inequality on the other. Somehow the US economy was having GDP and productivity growth that was not showing up in growth in the incomes of Americans.

Thanks to economist Susan N. Houseman and the March 22 issue of Business Week, we now know, as I reported in the print edition of CounterPunch (June 1-15, 2007) and online at, that much of the growth in US productivity and GDP was an illusion created by statistics that mistakenly attributed productivity gains achieved abroad to the US economy.

With the ladders of upward mobility for Americans dismantled by offshoring and work visas, with the very real problems in mortgage and housing markets, with the very real stress put on the US dollar’s reserve currency role by Bush’s trillion dollar war that is financed by foreigners, with the downward revisions in US GDP and productivity growth that are now mandatory, and with a variety of other problems that I haven’t the space to deal with, the fabled US economy is a thing of the past.

Just like America’s prestige. Just like the world’s goodwill toward America. Just like American liberty.

Father Cantalamessa on the Good Samaritan

Father Cantalamessa on the Good Samaritan
Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings

ROME, JULY 13, 2007 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

The Good Samaritan
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37

We have been commenting on some of the Sunday Gospels taking our inspiration from Benedict XVI's book "Jesus of Nazareth." A portion of the book treats the parable of the Good Samaritan. The parable cannot be understood if we do not take account of the question to which Jesus intended to respond: "Who is my neighbor?"

Jesus answers this question of a doctor of the law with a parable. In the music and literature of the world there are certain phrases that have become famous. Four notes in a certain sequence and every listener immediately exclaims: "Beethoven’s Fifth: destiny is knocking at the door!" Many of Jesus' parables share this characteristic. “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho ... ” and everyone immediately knows: the parable of the good Samaritan!

In the Judaism of the time there was discussion about who should be considered an Israelite’s neighbor. In general it came to be understood that the category of “neighbor” included all one’s fellow countrymen and Gentile coverts to Judaism. With his choice of persons (a Samaritan who comes to the aid of a Jew!) Jesus asserts that the category of neighbor is universal, not particular. Its horizon is humanity not the family, ethnic, or religious circle. Our enemy is also a neighbor! It is known that the Jews in fact “did not have good relations with the Samaritans” (cf. John 4:9).

The parable teaches that love of neighbor must not only be universal but also concrete and proactive. How does the Samaritan conduct himself in the parable? If the Samaritan had contented himself with saying to the unfortunate man lying there in his blood, “You unlucky soul! How did it happen? Buck up!” or something similar, and then went on his way, would not all that have been ironic and insulting? Instead he did something for the other: “He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back’.”

The true novelty in the parable of the Good Samaritan is not that Jesus demands a concrete, universal love. The novelty stands in something else, the Pope observes in his book. At the end of the parable Jesus asks the doctor of the law who was questioning him, “Which of these [the Levite, the priest, the Samaritan] seems to you to have been the neighbor of the one who was attacked by the brigands?”

Jesus brings about an unexpected reversal in the traditional concept of neighbor. The Samaritan is the neighbor and not the wounded man, as we would have expected. This means that we must not wait till our neighbor appears along our way, perhaps quite dramatically. It belongs to us to be ready to notice him, to find him. We are all called to be the neighbor! The problem of the doctor of the law is reversed. From an abstract and academic problem, it becomes a concrete and living problem. The question to ask is not “Who is my neighbor?” but “Whose neighbor can I be here and now?”

In his book the Pope proposes a contemporary application of the parable of the good Samaritan. He sees the entire continent of Africa symbolized in the unfortunate man who has been robbed, wounded, and left for dead on the side of the road, and he sees in us, members of the rich countries of the northern hemisphere, the two people who pass by if not precisely the brigands themselves.

I would like to suggest another possible application of the parable. I am convinced that if Jesus came to Israel today and a doctor of the law asked him again, “Who is my neighbor?” he would change the parable a bit and in the place of the Samaritan he would put a Palestinian! If a Palestinian were to ask him the same question, in the Samaritan’s place we would find a Jew!

But it is too easy to limit the discussion to Africa and the Middle East. If one of us were to pose Jesus the question “Who is my neighbor?” what would he answer? He would certainly remind us that our neighbor is not only our fellow countrymen but also those outside our community, not only Christians but Muslims also, not only Catholics but Protestants also. But he would immediately add that this is not the most important thing. The most important thing is not to know who my neighbor is but to see whose neighbor I can be here and now, for whom I can be the Good Samaritan.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wendell Berry's commencement speech

at Bellarmine University -- text and video

via Crunchy Con

Liu, Banking Bunkum

Henry C K Liu critiques the role of the world's central banks

Stock market is up, everything is ok right?

Not quite.

Stock futures point mixed AP via Yahoo! News - Jul 13 3:47 AM
Stock futures traded mixed Friday, a day after investors hurtled the Standard & Poor's 500 index and the Dow Jones industrials to new records, as Wall Street awaited data on June retail sales.

Deutsche Bank warns about subprime

Positive outlook as North American stock indexes at record high levels CP via Yahoo! Canada News - Jul 13 5:09 AM TORONTO (CP) - With North American stock market indexes at record highs and the Canadian dollar approaching parity with the U.S. greenback, global indicators were mostly positive early Friday, while oil prices rose.

Stock markets shrug off debt worries to test new highs Independent - Jul 13 4:13 PM
Stock markets in America and Europe hit new highs yesterday as investors shrugged off the worries in debt markets and the general gloominess surrounding the American economy.

GE says it's exiting U.S. mortgage business Boston Globe - Jul 13 8:14 AM

The robbery of the century
Hardworking Asian savers will see their central banks post billions in losses in the next few years as investments in US subprime mortgage bonds turn to dust. The central bankers allowed themselves to be led by the nose by Western rating agencies and Wall Street investment banks, but ultimately the Asian banks and governments have only their own policy follies to blame. As usual in Asia, nobody will be held accountable, and one of the greatest robberies of our time will be swept under the carpet. (Jul 13, '07)

Soothing words for panicky markets
Tuesday's sharp selloff of US stocks was just misguided panic, say the pundits, from the Federal Reserve chairman and the treasury secretary to Rupert Murdoch's pimps. The market simply got it wrong, they say. But then so did the ratings agencies, the subprime mortgage brokers and the "pigs" who now have been slaughtered and devoured. Another subprime domino has fallen. - Julian Delasantellis (Jul 12, '07)

The two sides of Wall Street are pulling apart

National Housing Horror Gets Gorier

Bubble Morphology: Welcome to the 2007 Summer Rally

Expect one more round of fireworks from the stock market before a massive collapse

Retail sales stagnated last month as per new report – the stagflation is real and rapidly expanding – the worst ...

Dollar drops to new lows on subprime worries; stock gains hit yen

Emerging-Market Bonds Little Changed as Subprime Concerns Ease

UPDATE: Will Stocks Feel Subprime Sting As Debt Ratings Are Cut?
July 11, 2007: 06:17 PM EST

MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stocks Rise As Earnings Hopes Offset Subprime Woes

Stocks close higher as investors play down concerns over subprime market

Subprime fears dominate Wall Street via Yahoo! News - Jul 11 7:56 AM

Japanese stocks slips 0.37 percent on concerns over U.S. subprime loan problems

U.S. subprime woes hit European stocks, exporters Reuters via Yahoo! Asia News - Jul 11 1:17 AM

Markets marching in step into trouble
Everywhere one looks today, in emerging as well as established markets, vast tides of cash are sloshing back and forth, largely unregulated and often untaxed. The sheer wealth going to leading institutional and individual asset buyers is flabbergasting. In such an atmosphere, one must stay one step ahead of an international correction, the likelihood of which grows by the day. - Max Fraad Wolff (Jul 3, '07)

Of termites and index mania
The "termite" in US real estate is the subprime market, where one out of every five mortgages is delinquent or in foreclosure, a number that will skyrocket as millions of other shaky mortgages of people with no equity and little credit fall due. That may not impact the traders chasing indices to fatten their annual bonuses. - Julian Delasantellis (Jul 2, '07)

Mike Shedlock, Six Phases of the Housing Bubble

07/12/2007 - Six Phases of the Housing Bubble
By Mike Shedlock "…David Wyss is trying like mad (as are numerous others in the state of denial) to contain the damage by containing the negative sentiment. It's galling to see shills saying with a straight face the problem…"

From MG:

07/11/2007 - Pressure Cooker of Inflationary Food Prices
"The whole freaking world could turn to 100% biofuels tomorrow, and demand for food could keep rising…while the supply of food could actually go down, but that does NOT mean that prices MUST be higher for you personally."

Liu, The Real Interest Rate Conundrum

part 1, 2

Interview with David T. Hardy


MW: I must say that your In Search of the Second Amendment documentary is both interesting and educational. How long have you been researching the second amendment?

DH: Thirty plus years, literally. My first law review article on it was published in 1974, when I was still a law student.

It was the first article in what you could call the modern academic trend toward recognizing it as an individual right. Dave Caplan followed with an article in '77, Joyce Malcolm began writing in 78 or so, as did Don Kates and then Steve Halbrook.

We were publishing in the lesser-known reviews until Don Kates got a piece published in the Michigan Law Review in late 1983. That was a breakthrough. The legal academic community gives stature to big names and big name reviews. None of us were big name in constitutional law, BUT the Michigan Law Review was a big name review, maybe one of the top five in the country. No law prof can read all the reviews (I think there are over two hundred now), but they read Harvard, Yale, Michigan, and a few others.

Kate's piece led to the big names in con law looking at the issue and publishing articles endorsing an individual rights view. I'm talking now Sanford Levinson of U. of Texas, Akhil Amar of Yale, Wm. van Alystyne of William & Mary. Plus a host of recognized professors, who will probably someday be the big names: Eugene Volokh of UCLA, Glenn Reynolds of U. of Tenn., and others.

In 1974, I doubt anyone teaching con law gave a hoot about the 2nd Amendment, and to the extent they did, just assumed it meant something about the National Guard. Thirty years later, all the big names in the field were endorsing an individual rights view. I can't think of any con law issue that turned around the way this one has.

MW: Can you explain to our readers why it is important that citizens should have the right to bear arms?

DH: In the movie I have several prof. discuss this. The major values of the right to arms, as they lay it out, are:

1. At the individual level, Americans use firearms in self-defense about 2.5 million times a year. That's based on Gary Kleck's survey of thousands of Americans. His methodology was so impressive that even criminologists who detest guns praised it. Kleck further estimated that about 400,000 per year believe they saved a life. He notes that a survey can only get opinion, not hard fact. Maybe a lot of these were wrong. But even if 90% were wrong, that would still mean 40,000 lives saved, which is far more than lives taken by criminals or suicides using guns.

2. The government has no legal duty to protect you. That's illustrated by a court case, Warren v. DC, when women called 911 over a break-in, and the 911 operator just neglected to send a dispatch to police, for reasons never explained. They were raped, beaten and sodomized for 48 hours. The court threw out their suit against DC, holding that the government has no legal duty to protect.

3. Several prof’s argue for an international right to arms. It's the best way to prevent genocide. No armed populace has even been victimized by it. Maybe it's possible to wipe out an armed populace, but it's dangerous enough to where in human history no one has tried.

4. The protection of a democratic republic, which is what the Framers were looking at. The people need not be so well armed as to actually overthrow a tyranny. They just need to be well enough armed to make establishing one a risky and costly venture. The Framers wanted the ballot box backed up by the cartridge box.

MW: How long did it take to make your movie and at what audience did you aim this film?

DH: It took just under four years to create. I started filming in January 2003, and brought the film out in December 2006. A lot of the documentaries you see on TV are raced out like sitcoms. You get a theme, find 1-2-3 people to speak about it, fly them to a studio, buy stock footage, and roll.

I had a dozen law professors to film, plus quite a few other persons, all too busy to come to a studio (and me with no budget to fly them around). I wanted to include some important original documents, and had to find them in the Library of Congress (they include, for instance, original accounts of debates in Parliament in 1688, and newspaper articles from 1789).

I aimed it at several audiences:

1. People who are already activists. These are the ones who will get the message to the others.

2. People who aren't activists, but are open to persuasion. I think these are the most critical ones. The activists can use the film to win these over. Even if a person isn't that concerned about the issue, I think after watching the DVD they will at least agree that the right to arms is important and should be protected.

3. I believe the 14th Amendment issue will particularly appeal to minorities, a part of the population that the gun movement has largely overlooked. And the self-defense segments are covered by women, because that's esp. important to them.

He has an interesting understanding of the 14th Amendment, the original Bill of Rights, and establishment:
MW: Your documentary has a showcase segment on the 14th amendment, which was passed in 1868. How critical is the 14th amendment to understanding the right to bear arms?

DH: I find that amendment fascinating, and very little known, which is why I give it so big a segment of the film.

A brief history:

The original national bill of rights did not apply to the States, only to the federal government. Early states oppressed the right to speech whenever they wanted, and some actually had established churches into the 1830s. The bill of rights was part of the US constitution and only bound the US.

During the Civil War, around 200,000 black Americans served in the Union forces, a majority of them former slaves. After the war they went home with their muskets and freedom.

The former confederate states were of course appalled. Hundreds of thousands of black Americans, with muskets, freedom, and expectations of equality! When the Klan started out, they fought back.

The states started passing Black Codes, which forbade blacks to own guns.

Congress was shocked -- Union vets were being disarmed of the very muskets they had carried in support of the government, and in some states the seized arms were being handed over to the Klan!

It passed civil rights legislation--one piece of which provided that all rights, "including the constitutional right to bear arms," would be guaranteed regardless of race. Then it passed the 14th Amendment that forbade states to deprive anyone of the privileges and immunities of US citizenship.

The 14th Amendment represents the specific contribution of the black experience to the constitution and to our rights. To my mind, it's at least as important as the original bill of rights. I doubt we'd like to live in a state that could oppress freedom of speech at will, or establish a church with our tax money and compel us to attend it!

The film's website: IN SEARCH OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT - The Documentary
Truth about Bowling for Columbine
David Hardy and the Second amendment
So You Think You Know the Second Amendment
wiki for the movie, for Mr. Hardy


15 meg trailer "In Search of the Second Amendment"

New Faculty at Thomas More College


Thomas More College Announces Several Administration and Faculty Appointments for 2007-2008 Academic Year

March 23, 2007--President Jeffrey O. Nelson is pleased to announce the hiring of Dr. William E. Fahey as Provost/Academic Vice President and Professor of Humanities; Dr. Christopher O. Blum as Professor of Humanities; the appointment of Mr. Brian Shea as Assistant Professor of Humanities; the appointment of Dr. Mary Mumbach as founding director of the Caroline Gordon Program for the Study of Literature as a Mode of Knowledge; the hiring of Andrea Assaf as part-time director for the Vatican Forum; and the hiring of Tony Assaf as a special assistant for Program Development. Below in alphabetical order are biographical and other related details.

Andrea Kirk Assaf

Andrea Kirk Assaf received her MA in liberal arts from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1999. Immediately following graduation she attended the International Institute for Political and Economic Studies in Athens, Greece. She went on to the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C. where she commenced a career in journalism, specializing in news about the Catholic Church as well as the Middle East. She also spent summers helping her father, the author Russell Kirk, with various editing and agrarian projects. She periodically assists her mother, Annette Kirk, with programs at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal located in the Kirk's ancestral village (Mecosta, Michigan). Andrea is an alumna of the Thomas More College Summer Program.

After spending six months traveling through Europe as a freelance journalist, interviewing European conservatives, Andrea settled in Rome where she has worked for the last five years writing for such publications as Inside the Vatican magazine, United Press International, Newsmax magazine and website, Our Sunday Visitor, the Wall Street Journal, and for the Vatican's charitable organization, Caritas Internationalis. In 2003 she was awarded a Phillips Foundation fellowship to research the relationship between the Bush administration and the Vatican. She has been interviewed by Zenit News Agency, Global Journalist Radio, Deutsche Welle Radio, Relevant Radio, and Niedziela, a Polish newspaper.

In 2003, she founded the Vatican Forum, a lecture series that brings Church experts to the general public to discuss issues in the news or cultural themes involving the Church. Speakers have included Italian politician and philosophy professor Rocco Buttiglione, veteran Catholic journalist and author Russell Shaw, Faith and Reason Institute founder Robert Royal, Priests for Life director Fr. Frank Pavone, neuroscientist and theologian Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, president of the Culture of Life foundation Austin Ruse, and the editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, Robert Moynihan, among others. Topics have included Church-State relations, bioethics, Flannery O'Connor and the problem of modernism, G.K. Chesterton, international law, and the papal conclave.

As a complement to the College's highly-regarded Rome Program, the Vatican Forum is now sponsored by Thomas More College and will be organized on a part-time basis by Mrs. Assaf (who already worked with Professor Connell this month on the College's first Vatican Forum event, a lecture by Robert Royal).

Andrea is married to Tony Assaf. They have one child, Maya (1) and are expecting a sibling for Maya this fall. Mrs. Assaf manages and edits her popular blog:

Tony Assaf

Tony Assaf studied philosophy, theology, and oriental studies in Rome, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in 2000. He also received an International Masters Certificate in Management and Communication for Cultural Politics from the Libera Università di Santa Maria Assunta in 2004.

During his nine years in Rome, Mr. Assaf has worked for the United Nation's World Food Programme, the Italian news agency AdnKronos, the Italian television company RAI, as an on-call translator for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as a co-founder and researcher for the Italian think-tank Middle Eastern Geopolitical Observer. He also worked as a personal assistant to Cardinal Opelio Rossi at the Casa Internazionale del Clero and as a volunteer for Caritas Internationalis. In the field of communications, he has written for Inside the Vatican magazine, and interned in the Arabic section of Vatican Radio. He is the founder of the Arabic version of Zenit News Agency, for which he serves as editor, translator, journalist and fund-raiser.

Mr. Assaf is a native speaker of Arabic and is also fluent in Italian, French, and English with an academic knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Siro-Aramaic, the language spoken by Our Lord. He has taught Arabic to Italian and English speakers as a private tutor. On a personal note, he was asked to be a lector in Arabic and Aramaic and serve at several Masses celebrated by Pope John Paul II. On one occasion Mr. Assaf read for the Pope at the Good Friday service; on another he read at the Pope's Christmas midnight Mass.

Mr. Assaf will join the College on August 1, 2007 and assist the President and new Provost with Program Development.

Christopher Olaf Blum

Christopher Blum will join the faculty of Thomas More College bringing with him over a decade of teaching experience at Christendom College (Front Royal, Virginia), where he was an Associate Professor of History and served as Department Chairman for the last five years. Professor Blum has displayed considerable breadth in his teaching: in addition to his History offerings, he has taught courses in Euclidean Geometry, The History and Philosophy of Scientific Thought, The Essay, and Medieval Art and Architecture. He is a distinguished teacher and has been ranked highly over the last several years by the nationally acclaimed Choosing the Right College, which remarks that Dr. Blum has always been one "counted on for exceptional courses." In addition to teaching, Dr. Blum has served extensively on the College's senior Curriculum Committee and was the chief architect behind Christendom College's Medieval Festival, held annually near the Feast of All Saints. He and his wife Kathleen have both been Advisors for the American School in Switzerland.

Dr. Blum was educated at the University of Virginia, where he graduated Bachelor of Arts with distinction in Biology and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa (the nation's oldest undergraduate liberal arts honors society, founded in 1776). As a National Science Foundation Fellow, he studied at the University of Notre Dame, where he received the MA in History & Philosophy of Science, and later the PhD in History & Philosophy of Science and European History. His dissertation examined the life and work of St-George J. Mivart, an outspoken critic of the adequacy of Darwinian theory. Dr. Blum was also the recent recipient of a Fellowship from the National Endowment for Humanities to participate in the summer session on Gothic art and architecture.

Dr. Blum's published essays include studies on Jane Austen, the notion of the Common Good, the abbey church at Vezelay, Euclid's Elements, the educational vision of John Henry Newman, and the French Catholic political author, Louis de Bonald. He has published widely in such journals as Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, Modern Age, The Downside Review, The Journal of Education, and Sacred Architecture. Dr. Blum is an adept translator of French and has edited two volumes of French Catholic social thought, Critics of the Enlightenment (2004) and The True and Only Wealth of Nations (2006). Of his work, Joseph Pearce has said "Christopher Blum is to be commended for bringing together such a wealth of wisdom on the subject of the French Revolution and its devastating impact." Daniel Mahoney, a scholar of French and political thought, has described Blum's work as "handsome and ably translated" and National Review magazine has stated that "Christopher Blum illuminates a neglected tradition important to anyone interested in the battle over the nature and future of the West."

Professor Blum and his wife of fourteen years, Kathleen, have two children, John Louis (8) and Isabel Marie (2). Dr. Blum is a long-time visitor to the Granite State and has spent many summers hiking in the White Mountains.

Dr. Blum has been appointed Professor of Humanities effective August 1, 2007.

William Edmund Fahey:

William Fahey comes to Thomas More College after nearly a decade of teaching at Christendom College (Front Royal, Virginia), where he established the Department of Classical and Early Christian Studies, of which he was Chairman. While at Christendom he has taught courses in Greek, Latin, Classical and Byzantine History, Patristic Theology, Mediaeval Political Thought, and Classical and Early Christian Literature. Dr. Fahey also taught at The Catholic University of America, as well as at Brookfield Academy (Wisconsin) and the American Academy (St. Davids, Pennsylvania). In addition to holding posts on a number of faculty committees, Dr. Fahey was editor of the journal Faith & Reason, Director of the Christendom College Press, and President of Faculty Senate.

Educated at Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio) in Classics and History, Fahey pursued postgraduate studies in Ancient History at University of St. Andrews (Scotland), where he met his wife and still managed to complete his MPhil. He earned both the MA and PhD in Early Christian Studies from the Catholic University of America. He has held a number of distinguished fellowships, including the Thomas Savage, SJ Fellowship for excellence in Humanities; the Russell Trust Award of the University of St. Andrews; The McGuire-Peebles Fellowship at the Catholic University of America; the Richard M. Weaver Fellowship; the Marguerite Eyer Wilbur Fellowship; two Earhart Fellowships; and was a Salvatori Fellow at the Heritage Foundation (Washington, DC). His archeological work has lead him to Wales, the south-east coast of England, eastern Turkey and the Alpine valleys in Italy.

Dr. Fahey's scholarly interests extend from the Classical World through the Fathers of the Church to the importance of Agrarian thought on past and contemporary culture. In addition to Cicero, Virgil, St. Augustine, St. Benedict, and St. Gregory the Great, he has an especial interest in the writings of G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and Fr. Vincent McNabb. He has published in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review, The St. Austin Review, Faith & Reason, The University Bookman, Classical World, and The Classical Bulletin. Dr. Fahey has recently finished co-editing (with Joseph Pearce) a volume of Hilaire Belloc's political thought, as well as an anthology on the principle of subsidiarity. He is currently translating St. Robert Bellarmine's political writings.

Dr. Fahey is a Benedictine Oblate (novice) with the Monastery of Our Lady of the Annunciation (Clear Creek, Oklahoma). He and his wife Amy - a doctor in English literature from Washington University, St. Louis, and an M.Phil. from St. Andrews, Scotland - have four children: Helena (10), Mary (6), Catriona (4), and William (6 months). Dr. Fahey's family has lived in Massachusetts and Maine since the Eighteenth Century.

Dr. Fahey has been appointed Professor of Humanities and Provost of the College effective August 1, 2007.

Mary Mumbach

Dr. Mary Mumbach has been appointed founding director of the Caroline Gordon Program for the Study of Literature as a Mode of Knowledge. After completing her current tenure as Dean of the College in the Spring of 2008, the thirtieth anniversary of her position as founding dean, Dr. Mumbach will continue as full professor with the added responsibility of designing and directing the Gordon Program. The Gordon Program will be an institutional vehicle to advance the understanding of literature as a mode of knowledge and explore the foundations and contemporary importance of "Ontological Criticism" through scholarly conferences, lectures, and publications. It will also develop a component that seeks to teach current teachers of literature in high school and/or college how to incorporate the insights and theories Dr. Mumbach has developed during her academic career into their classrooms and curricula.

Brian Shea

Mr. Shea, having served this College community with great distinction for more than a quarter century, has been appointed Assistant Professor of Humanities, effective June 1, 2007. Please congratulate Professor Shea when you see him.

Mrs. Andrea Kirk Assaf's blog, Quo Vadis is still up. The Forgotten Victims.

St. Henry, July 13

Henry the Good

Catholic Culture: Henry II, successively Duke of Bavaria, King of Germany and Emperor, devoted himself to the spread of religion by rebuilding churches and founding monasteries.
St. Henry and his wife, St. Cunegund.

Declared patron saint of the Benedictine Oblates by St. Pius X.

Homily in 2001 by Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

On the oblates

ABC and Disney must go down.

Sorry for the title (if you happened to catch it before the edit). I don't think there are any children reading this blog. (If you don't know to what I am reffering , you can probably guess what the original title was from the url attached to this post, although I didn't spell the f-bomb out. I don't think following the lead of Battlestar Galactica and making up a similar-sounding word would have been much better.) Why was I so infuriated?

Tonight the TV was set to ABC, and I was able to sample part of Greek, which is being shown on ABC Family. Who is in charge of ABC/Disney? While the show does not focus exclusively on casual sex and hook-up culture, it is depicted as being part of the normal college/fraternity life. Realistic, you say? But for garbage like this to be shown on ABC Family? I thought that cable channel was supposed to be kid and pre-teen safe, something wholesome for the whole family to enjoy? Apparently not. Remember the days when shows like Saved by the Bell were what pre-teens watched? Even if that show was unrealistic and stupid, at least its poison (with respect its views on dating, the goal of life, and so on) was not that bad.

Surely there are a couple of psalms that are pertinent to this sort of situation. Once again, ABC and Disney have let America down. As if I weren't already boycotting Disney before... too bad Lost is shown on ABC.

It's times like this that I wish TV and the media companies were taken down.

5 reports agree there is probably less coal than we think

COAL - The Roundup
Chris Vernon, The Oil Drum: Europe
Below the fold there is a roundup of the five reports published in the first half of 2007 on the global coal situation. They are all broadly in agreement saying that there is likely to be less coal available than traditionally thought.

via EB

Tom Whipple, The Peak Oil Crisis: A Tale of Two Reports

Published on 12 Jul 2007 by Falls Church News-Press. Archived on 12 Jul 2007.
The peak oil crisis: A tale of two reports
by Tom Whipple

In the last few days, two important reports on the prospects for world oil production were “released.” While these reports reach diametrically opposite conclusions, each of them, in its own way, is likely to make a contribution to the debate over just when the economic troubles occasioned by the peaking of world oil production will occur.

Published on 11 Jul 2007 by ASPO-USA / Energy Bulletin. Archived on 12 Jul 2007.
Peak Oil Down Under
by Dave Cohen

Rob Hopkins on the transition movement

Via EB

Rob Hopkins on the transition movement (Audio)
Global Public Media's Rob Hopkins talks in detail with GPM's Andi Hazelwood about the movement across the UK to transition to a low fossil fuel future and about his own group, Transition Town Totnes. Hopkins also successfully counters the excuses and arguments against transition efforts.(13 July 2007)

Sheri Liao, Global Village Beijing (Audio and transcript)
Sheri Liao, Global Public Media

Sheri Liao is founder and president of Global Village Beijing, the foremost non-governmental organization (NGO) working towards a greener China. In this presentation to the World Affairs Council in San Francisco, she discusses the battle that Chinese environmentalists face when taking on polluters and unsustainable businesses, and outlines the ways in which progress is being made. Yes, there is an environmental movement in the world's most populous nation, and Sheri Liao is at the forefront.Sheri Liao is also the environmental advisor to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the upcoming XXIX Olympiad in Beijing, 2008. Ms. Liao was a visiting scholar on International Environmental Politics at the University of North Carolina but gave up a career stateside in order to help develop environmental education in China. She returned to her homeland to found the Global Village of Beijing in 1996. ...
stream; transcript

Er, sounds like a fun class

Suarez International has the following class available...

December 8-9, 2007
Prescott, AZ

The modern ground battlefield has been ruled by the machinegun since WWI. In this class we will discuss the history, applications and tactics of machinegunnery. We will spend the first day learning how to operate these weapons and manipulate them with the same skill we have for our own personal weapons. Then we will take that knowledge out to the range and spend the second day shooting various weapons and running through various machinegun drills.

We will examine the PMK, the Kalashnikov of machineguns, the US military's M60, and the M1919 in .308. We will be searching for other models between now and the day of the class so don't be surprised if we have another sample machinegun for you to shoot. All ammunition is included in the class fee.

Duration: 2 days
Ammunition: Provided (500-750 rounds)
Requirements: Ear & Eye Protection, (knee & elbow pads are strongly suggested).
Instructor(s): Dan Agakian, and Gabe Suarez
Location: Private Range in Prescott, AZ

Robert Nisbet

Author of the following:
Twilight of Authority (Liberty Fund)
The Present Age: Progress and Anarchy in Modern America (Liberty Fund)
The Quest for Community: A Study in the Ethics of Order and Freedom (ICS Press, Amazon)
Tradition and Revolt (Transaction Publishers); other books available through Transaction

Intercollegiate Studies Institute - ISI Books - Robert Nisbet

About Robert Nisbet:
Robert Nisbet: Conservative Sociologist
Robert Nisbet on Conservatism by Gary North
The Under-Appreciated Robert Nisbet - by Joseph Stromberg
AEI - Short Publications
Robert Alexander Nisbet

States and Localities: A Comment on Robert Nisbet's ...

I found this during my search--Why 'Conservatives' Can't Do Foreign Policy--the subject of its critique are neoconservatives, or pseudoconservatives as the author calls them.

Nisbet is known as a communitarian. What exactly this term means with respect to Nisbet I have not yet determined...

The Irving Babbit Project

another program of the National Humanities Institute

Irving Babbitt: An Introduction, Claes G. Ryn.
Ethics and the Common Good: Abstract vs. Experiential, Joseph Baldacchino
Irving Babbitt on Lincoln and Unionism

Babbitt, Irving, 1865-1933. Papers of Irving Babbitt : an inventory
Intercollegiate Studies Institute - ISI Books - The Critical Legacy of Irving Babbit
Irving Babbitt(1865-1933)
The Enduring Influence of Irving Babbitt by Russell Kirk on MP3 ...

Rod Dreher, Crunchy Conservatism and Russell Kirk

Part 1, 2

There's a mention of Dr. Hibbs in part 2:
I was much more encouraged by what Thomas Hibbs, the Thomist philosopher who heads the Baylor University honors college, had to say. He remarked that we conservatives have been so preoccupied with politics that we have neglected the long, patient work of building up local institutions through which we can preserve virtue and pass on an active love for the Permanent Things to future generations.

Mr. Dreher talks more about that panel of which Dr. Hibbs was a member at his own blog in the post The Limits of Politics. In that post he refers to the contribution by Claes Ryn to the "What is Left? What is Right? issue of The American Conservative.

What is our mission?
Giving witness and evangelizing. Building up and protecting community. Nothing great or successful in the eyes of the world, but we live by a different standard.

Dr. Alcuin Reid on the MP

Catholic Hearld; NLM

updated: new url

Photos from this year's Garter Service

Britain's Queen Elizabeth (C) leaves with Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (R), following the Order of the Garter service at Windsor Castle, Windsor, southern England June 18, 2007. Windsor Castle played host to the annual Order of the Garter service held in St. George's Chapel, which celebrated the traditions and ideals associated with the Most Noble Order of the Garter. REUTERS/AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool (BRITAIN)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives for the Order of the Garter service at Windsor Castle, Windsor, southern England June 18, 2007. Windsor Castle played host to the annual Order of the Garter service held in St. George's Chapel, which celebrated the traditions and ideals associated with the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest surviving order of Chivalry in the world. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth (C) arrives with Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (R) for the Order of the Garter service at Windsor Castle, Windsor, southern England June 18, 2007. Windsor Castle played host to the annual Order of the Garter service held in St. George's Chapel, which celebrated the traditions and ideals associated with the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest surviving order of Chivalry in the world. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth leaves with Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, following the Order of the Garter service at Windsor Castle, Windsor, southern England June 18, 2007. Windsor Castle played host to the annual Order of the Garter service held in St. George's Chapel, which celebrated the traditions and ideals associated with the Most Noble Order of the Garter. REUTERS/AFP/Leon Neal/Pool (BRITAIN)

Reuters - Mon Jun 18, 1:13 PM ET
Britain's Queen Elizabeth leaves with Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, following the Order of the Garter service at Windsor Castle, Windsor, southern England June 18, 2007. Windsor Castle played host to the annual Order of the Garter service held in St. George's Chapel, which celebrated the traditions and ideals associated with the Most Noble Order of the Garter. REUTERS/AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool (BRITAIN)

Reuters - Mon Jun 18,11:14 AM ET
Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives for the Order of the Garter service at Windsor Castle, Windsor, southern England June 18, 2007. Windsor Castle played host to the annual Order of the Garter service held in St. George's Chapel, which celebrated the traditions and ideals associated with the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest surviving order of Chivalry in the world. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN)

AFP/POOL - Mon Jun 18, 4:54 PM ET
Queen Elizabeth II(L) and Prince Philip leave St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, Windsor, after attending the Order of the Garter Service.(AFP/POOL/Michael Dunlea)

BSG Razor Teaser

via AICN

The BSG website: "The link is in the bottom right part of the page."

I'm looking forward to Razor more than to the 4th (and last) season of BSG, which hasn't really maintained my interest...

Not-so-recent photos

JH and his wife.

Sarah Broadie, her Friday Whitehead lecture from May of this year.

Exsultemus, their May concert.

Convivium Musicum, with Scott Metcalfe. (From the same day as the Exsultemus concert.)

Photos from my last trip to New York City with Sarge.
At Baden Baden:

In front of Rockefeller Plaza:

New York Kom Tang:

Across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral:

In front of the Atlas statue by Lew Lawrie, on 5th Avenue:

St. Thomas's Episcopal Church:

Blanc de Chine:

Unidentified Flying Chicken in Jackson Heights:

The winner of Nuestra Balleza Latina:

St. Paul Chong Ha-Sang Korean Catholic Church:

The mosque that is near St. Paul's:

Something for Watcher:

At Victoria, after that drive back from NYC:

At Midwest Grill: