Saturday, October 20, 2007

AP: Sexual misconduct plagues US schools

Actually, comparisons were drawn several years ago, during the height of the Church scandal, but it was ignored by most people and journalists. The estimated numbers are even worse for schools, but with respect to the total number of incidents, and the ratio of offenders to total "employees".

AP: Sexual misconduct plagues US schools

By MARTHA IRVINE and ROBERT TANNER, AP National Writers 38 minutes ago

The young teacher hung his head, avoiding eye contact. Yes, he had touched a fifth-grader's breast during recess. "I guess it was just lust of the flesh," he told his boss.

That got Gary C. Lindsey fired from his first teaching job in Oelwein, Iowa. But it didn't end his career. He taught for decades in Illinois and Iowa, fending off at least a half-dozen more abuse accusations.

When he finally surrendered his teaching license in 2004 — 40 years after that first little girl came forward — it wasn't a principal or a state agency that ended his career. It was one persistent victim and her parents.

Lindsey's case is just a small example of a widespread problem in American schools: sexual misconduct by the very teachers who are supposed to be nurturing the nation's children.

Students in America's schools are groped. They're raped. They're pursued, seduced and think they're in love.

An Associated Press investigation found more than 2,500 cases over five years in which educators were punished for actions from bizarre to sadistic.

There are 3 million public school teachers nationwide, most devoted to their work. Yet the number of abusive educators — nearly three for every school day — speaks to a much larger problem in a system that is stacked against victims.

Most of the abuse never gets reported. Those cases reported often end with no action. Cases investigated sometimes can't be proven, and many abusers have several victims.

And no one — not the schools, not the courts, not the state or federal governments — has found a surefire way to keep molesting teachers out of classrooms.

Those are the findings of an AP investigation in which reporters sought disciplinary records in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The result is an unprecedented national look at the scope of sex offenses by educators — the very definition of breach of trust.

The seven-month investigation found 2,570 educators whose teaching credentials were revoked, denied, surrendered or sanctioned from 2001 through 2005 following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Young people were the victims in at least 1,801 of the cases, and more than 80 percent of those were students. At least half the educators who were punished by their states also were convicted of crimes related to their misconduct.

The findings draw obvious comparisons to sex abuse scandals in other institutions, among them the Roman Catholic Church. A review by America's Catholic bishops found that about 4,400 of 110,000 priests were accused of molesting minors from 1950 through 2002.

Clergy abuse is part of the national consciousness after a string of highly publicized cases. But until now, there's been little sense of the extent of educator abuse.

Beyond the horror of individual crimes, the larger shame is that the institutions that govern education have only sporadically addressed a problem that's been apparent for years.

"From my own experience — this could get me in trouble — I think every single school district in the nation has at least one perpetrator. At least one," says Mary Jo McGrath, a California lawyer who has spent 30 years investigating abuse and misconduct in schools. "It doesn't matter if it's urban or rural or suburban."

One report mandated by Congress estimated that as many as 4.5 million students, out of roughly 50 million in American schools, are subject to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade. That figure includes verbal harassment that's sexual in nature.

Jennah Bramow, one of Lindsey's accusers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, wonders why there isn't more outrage.

"You're supposed to be able to send your kids to school knowing that they're going to be safe," says Bramow, now 20. While other victims accepted settlement deals and signed confidentiality agreements, she sued her city's schools for failing to protect her and others from Lindsey — and won. Only then was Lindsey's teaching license finally revoked.

As an 8-year-old elementary-school student, Bramow told how Lindsey forced her hand on what she called his "pee-pee."

"How did you know it was his pee-pee?" an interviewer at St. Luke's Child Protection Center in Cedar Rapids asked Jennah in a videotape, taken in 1995.

"'Cause I felt something?" said Jennah, then a fidgety girl with long, dark hair.

"How did it feel?" the investigator asked.

"Bumpy," Jennah replied. She drew a picture that showed how Lindsey made her touch him on the zipper area of his pants.

Lindsey, now 68, refused multiple requests for an interview. "It never occurs to you people that some people don't want their past opened back up," he said when an AP reporter approached him at his home outside Cedar Rapids and asked questions.

That past, according to evidence presented in the Bramow's civil case, included accusations from students and parents along with reprimands from principals that were filed away, explained away and ultimately ignored until 1995, when accusations from Bramow and two other girls forced his early retirement. Even then, he kept his teaching license until the Bramows took the case public and filed a complaint with the state.

Like Lindsey, the perpetrators that the AP found are everyday educators — teachers, school psychologists, principals and superintendents among them. They're often popular and recognized for excellence and, in nearly nine out of 10 cases, they're male. While some abused students in school, others were cited for sexual misconduct after hours that didn't necessarily involve a kid from their classes, such as viewing or distributing child pornography.

They include:

• Joseph E. Hayes, a former principal in East St. Louis, Ill. DNA evidence in a civil case determined that he impregnated a 14-year-old student. Never charged criminally, his license was suspended in 2003. He has ignored an order to surrender it permanently.

• Donald M. Landrum, a high school teacher in Polk County, N.C. His bosses warned him not to meet with female students behind closed doors. They put a glass window in his office door, but Landrum papered over it. Police later found pornography and condoms in his office and alleged that he was about to have sex with a female student. His license was revoked in 2005.

• Rebecca A. Boicelli, a former teacher in Redwood City, Calif. She conceived a child with a 16-year-old former student then went on maternity leave in 2004 while police investigated. She was hired to teach in a nearby school district; board members said police hadn't told them about the investigation.

The overwhelming majority of cases the AP examined involved teachers in public schools. Private school teachers rarely turn up because many are not required to have a teaching license and, even when they have one, disciplinary actions are typically handled within the school.

Two of the nation's major teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, each denounced sex abuse while emphasizing that educators' rights also must be taken into account.

"Students must be protected from sexual predators and abuse, and teachers must be protected from false accusations," said NEA President Reg Weaver, who refused to be interviewed and instead released a two-paragraph statement.

Kathy Buzad of the AFT said that "if there's one incident of sexual misconduct between a teacher and a student that's one too many."

The United States has grown more sympathetic to victims of sex abuse over recent decades, particularly when it comes to young people. Laws that protect children from abusers bear the names of young victims. Police have made pursuing Internet predators a priority. People convicted of abuse typically face tough sentences and registry as sex offenders.

Even so, sexually abusive teachers continue to take advantage, and there are several reasons why.

For one, many Americans deny the problem, and even treat the abuse with misplaced fascination. Popular media reports trumpet relationships between attractive female teachers and male students.

"It's dealt with in a salacious manner with late-night comedians saying 'What 14-year-old boy wouldn't want to have sex with his teacher?' It trivializes the whole issue," says Robert Shoop, a professor of educational administration at Kansas State University who has written a book aimed at helping school districts identify and deal with sexual misconduct.

"In other cases, it's reported as if this is some deviant who crawled into the school district — 'and now that they're gone, everything's OK.' But it's much more prevalent than people would think."

The AP investigation found efforts to stop individual offenders but, overall, a deeply entrenched resistance toward recognizing and fighting abuse. It starts in school hallways, where fellow teachers look away or feel powerless to help. School administrators make behind-the-scenes deals to avoid lawsuits and other trouble. And in state capitals and Congress, lawmakers shy from tough state punishments or any cohesive national policy for fear of disparaging a vital profession.

That only enables rogue teachers, and puts kids who aren't likely to be believed in a tough spot.

In case after case the AP examined, accusations of inappropriate behavior were dismissed. One girl in Mansfield, Ohio, complained about a sexual assault by teacher Donald Coots and got expelled. It was only when a second girl, years later, brought a similar complaint against the same teacher that he was punished.

And that second girl also was ostracized by the school community and ultimately left town.

Unless there's a videotape of a teacher involved with a child, everyone wants to believe the authority figure, says Wayne Promisel, a retired Virginia detective who has investigated many sex abuse cases.

He and others who track the problem reiterated one point repeatedly during the AP investigation: Very few abusers get caught.

They point to several academic studies estimating that only about one in 10 victimized children report sexual abuse of any kind to someone who can do something about it.

Teachers, administrators and even parents frequently don't, or won't, recognize the signs that a crime is taking place.

"They can't see what's in front of their face. Not unlike a kid in an alcoholic family, who'll say 'My family is great,'" says McGrath, the California lawyer and investigator who now trains entire school systems how to recognize what she calls the unmistakable "red flags" of misconduct.

In Hamburg, Pa., in 2002, those "red flags" should have been clear. A student skipped classes every day to spend time with one teacher. He gave her gifts and rides in his car. She sat on his lap. The bond ran so deep that the student got chastised repeatedly — even suspended once for being late and absent so often. But there were no questions for the teacher.

Heather Kline was 12, a girl with a broad smile and blond hair pulled back tight. Teacher Troy Mansfield had cultivated her since she was in his third-grade class.

"Kids, like, idolized me because they thought I was, like, cool because he paid more attention to me," says Kline, now 18, sitting at her mother's kitchen table, sorting through a file of old poems and cards from Mansfield. "I was just like really comfortable. I could tell him anything."

He never pushed her, just raised the stakes, bit by bit — a comment about how good she looked, a gift, a hug.

She was sure she was in love.

By winter of seventh grade, he was sneaking her off in his car for an hour of sex, dropping in on her weekly baby-sitting duties, e-mailing about what clothes she should wear, about his sexual fantasies, about marriage and children.

Mansfield finally got caught by the girl's mother, and his own words convicted him. At his criminal trial in 2004, Heather read his e-mails and instant messages aloud, from declarations of true love to explicit references to past sex. He's serving up to 31 years in state prison.

The growing use of e-mails and text messages is leaving a trail that investigators and prosecutors can use to prove an intimate relationship when other evidence is hard to find.

Even then, many in the community find it difficult to accept that a predator is in their midst. When these cases break, defendants often portray the students as seducers or false accusers. However, every investigator questioned said that is largely a misconception.

"I've been involved in several hundred investigations," says Martin Bates, an assistant superintendent in a Salt Lake City school district. "I think I've seen that just a couple of times ... where a teacher is being pursued by a student."

Too often, problem teachers are allowed to leave quietly. That can mean future abuse for another student and another school district.

"They might deal with it internally, suspending the person or having the person move on. So their license is never investigated," says Charol Shakeshaft, a leading expert in teacher sex abuse who heads the educational leadership department at Virginia Commonwealth University.

It's a dynamic so common it has its own nicknames — "passing the trash" or the "mobile molester."

Laws in several states require that even an allegation of sexual misconduct be reported to the state departments that oversee teacher licenses. But there's no consistent enforcement, so such laws are easy to ignore.

School officials fear public embarrassment as much as the perpetrators do, Shakeshaft says. They want to avoid the fallout from going up against a popular teacher. They also don't want to get sued by teachers or victims, and they don't want to face a challenge from a strong union.

In the Iowa case, Lindsey agreed to leave without fighting when his bosses kept the reason for his departure confidential. The decades' worth of allegations against him would have stayed secret, if not for Bramow.

Across the country, such deals and lack of information-sharing allow abusive teachers to jump state lines, even when one school does put a stop to the abuse.

While some schools and states have been aggressive about investigating problem teachers and publicizing it when they're found, others were hesitant to share details of cases with the AP — Alabama and Mississippi among the more resistant. Maine, the only state that gave the AP no disciplinary information, has a law that keeps offending teachers' cases secret.

Meanwhile, the reasons given for punishing hundreds of educators, including many in California, were so vague there was no way to tell why they'd been punished, until further investigation by AP reporters revealed it was sexual misconduct.

And in Hawaii, no educators were disciplined by the state in the five years the AP examined, even though some teachers there were serving sentences for various sex crimes during that time. They technically remained teachers, even behind bars.

Elsewhere, there have been fitful steps toward catching errant teachers that may be having some effect. The AP found the number of state actions against sexually abusive teachers rose steadily, to a high of 649 in 2005.

More states now require background checks on teachers, fingerprinting and mandatory reporting of abuse, though there are still loopholes and a lack of coordination among districts and states.

U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the last 20 years on civil rights and sex discrimination have opened schools up to potentially huge financial punishments for abuses, which has driven some schools to act.

And the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification keeps a list of educators who've been punished for any reason, but only shares the names among state agencies.

The uncoordinated system that's developed means some teachers still fall through the cracks. Aaron M. Brevik is a case in point.

Brevik was a teacher at an elementary school in Warren, Mich., until he was accused of using a camera hidden in a gym bag to secretly film boys in locker rooms and showers. He also faced charges that he recorded himself molesting a boy while the child slept.

Found guilty of criminal sexual conduct, Brevik is now serving a five- to 20-year prison sentence and lost his Michigan license in 2005.

What Michigan officials apparently didn't know when they hired him was that Brevik's teaching license in Minnesota had been permanently suspended in 2001 after he allegedly invited two male minors to stay with him in a hotel room. He was principal of an elementary school in southeastern Minnesota at the time.

"I tell you what, they never go away. They just blend a little better," says Steve Janosko, a prosecutor in Ocean County, N.J., who handled the case of a former high school teacher and football coach, Nicholas J. Arminio.

Arminio surrendered his New Jersey teaching license in 1994 after two female students separately accused him of inappropriate touching. The state of Maryland didn't know that when he applied for teaching credentials and took a job at a high school in Baltimore County. He eventually resigned and lost that license, too.

Even so, until this month, he was coaching football at another Baltimore County high school in a job that does not require a teaching license. After the AP started asking questions, he was fired.

Victims also face consequences when teachers are punished.

In Pennsylvania, after news of teacher Troy Mansfield's arrest hit, girls called Kline, his 12-year-old victim, a "slut" to her face. A teacher called her a "vixen." Friends stopped talking to her. Kids no longer sat with her at lunch.

Her abuser, meanwhile, had been a popular teacher and football coach.

So, between rumors that she was pregnant or doing drugs and her own panic attacks and depression, Kline bounced between schools. At 16, she ran away to Nashville.

"I didn't have my childhood," says Kline, who's back home now, working at a grocery cash register and hoping to get her GED so she can go to nursing school. "He had me so matured at so young.

"I remember going from little baby dolls to just being an adult."

The courts dealt her a final insult. A federal judge dismissed her civil suit against the school, saying administrators had no obligation to protect her from a predatory teacher since officials were unaware of the abuse, despite what the court called widespread "unsubstantiated rumors" in the school. The family is appealing.

In Iowa, the state Supreme Court made the opposite ruling in the Bramow case, deciding she and her parents could sue the Cedar Rapids schools for failing to stop Lindsey.

Bramow, now a young mother who waits tables for a living, won a $20,000 judgment. But Lindsey was never criminally charged due to what the former county prosecutor deemed insufficient evidence.

Arthur Sensor, the former superintendent in Oelwein, Iowa, who vividly recalls pressuring Lindsey to quit on Feb. 18, 1964, regrets that he didn't do more to stop him back then.

Now, he says, he'd call the police.

"He promised me he wouldn't do it again — that he had learned. And he was a young man, a beginning teacher, had a young wife, a young child," Sensor, now 86 years old, said during testimony at the Bramows' civil trial.

"I wanted to believe him, and I did."


John Parsons, special projects manager for the AP's News Research Center, contributed to this story.

Anthony Everitt, Augustus

Random House Publishing Group | Augustus by Anthony Everitt
Book Review: Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor
The First Emperor, by Anthony Everitt - Independent Online Edition ...

Random House Academic Resources | Cicero by Anthony Everitt
Random House Publishing Group | Cicero by Anthony Everitt Books | "Cicero" by Anthony Everitt
Cicero by Anthony Everitt
Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician

Magpul's Masada


From Umlaut Arms:


Apparently it is going into production...

Magpul website

From their SHOTSHOW 2007 - Orlando, Florida gallery:

Masada Gallery:

Wallpapers: Shotshow 2007 Magpul Industries

More vids here or see the menu for above.

Michael Shedlock gives an explanation of bank accoutns

From Money Supply - A Question About Credit:

Believe it or not savings accounts are not aptly named.

Saving accounts would be better described as lending accounts. By that I mean, savings accounts consist of deposits that by agreement, are make available for loans. In other words, banks take those deposits and lend them out. In return, depositors get interest. This arrangement is known by the depositor of that money. After all, how else could the bank pay interest on the money if the bank did not loan it out at a higher rate?

The reality then is that money in savings accounts is not really there (nor is it expected to be there). The money was lent out (spent or invested) with a promise by the borrower to pay the money back in the future. In the banking industry such accounts are called TDA accounts (Time Deposit Accounts).

Because the money was willingly lent out it's a credit transaction. There is no money in saving accounts. All that is there is a promise by someone to pay back what was lent out.

Checking accounts, however, are known in the industry as DDA accounts (Demand Deposit Accounts). Money deposited to a DDA (checking) account is by definition available on demand. At least its supposed to be. In actual practice, given that Greenspan authorized sweeps from DDA accounts, money that is supposed to be readily available on demand isn't really there in practice.

Sweeps are transactions that move (sweep) money from one account (in this case a DDA account) into another account (say a savings account) where the money can be lent out. This happens nightly and is done without the checking account depositor having any say in the matter. To repeat: Money that is supposed to be there, really isn't there. It's all a mirage. If you think money is sitting there in your checking account to the amount shown on your statement, you are mistaken. It was lent out.

The system would literally freeze up if all depositors wanted their money in cash tomorrow. Heck, there would be massive convulsions if even 10% of the people wanted their money in cash tomorrow. Far more money has been lent out than really exists.

Varia, 20 October 2007

Pop Life Is Tough Work, Say Wonder Girls
Car Show Girls: the Hard Slog Behind the Glamour

Bare Necessities

From Jacqueline Schwab's website:

Bare Necessities (Mary Lea, Jacqueline Schwab, Earl Gaddis, Peter Barnes)

Boston-based quartet with their own interpretation of English Country Dance music. (I haven't had a chance to hear the samples yet, once I get a faster connection...)

Homepage; recordings
audio clips
mail order through Country Dance and Song Society

CDS Boston

Christendom podcast


Walther PPS

Product: PPS 9mm
Walther’s New PPS 9mm Semi-Auto Pocket Gun

The P99 comes in 9mm and .40.

Armored Trooper Votoms: Pailsen Files

Pete Takeshi might be interested in this new OAV, soon to be released in the US.

Votoms website

Armored Trooper Votoms: Pailsen Files (OAV) - Anime News Network
Armored Trooper VOTOMS: Pailsen Files

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another story about the niece

Niece #1 asked this of her sister, "Mui Mui J------, are you done with boobie?"

What does she mean by that?

She also took her doll, and started to breast-feed it, putting it up to her nipple. hahaha
"What are you doing?"
"Feeding baby."

Now you know what she meant. hahaha She picks things up quickly, niece #1.

Gene Logsdon, Green Hypocrisy

via EB

Green Hypocrisy
Gene Logsdon, Organic To Be
There’s a lot of loose talk going around these days about “green” alternatives to save the world. Most of that green is really about the color of money, not the environment. The latest green sensation involves a farm tractor that recently broke the record for fast cultivation (fast food requires fast cultivation). According to the news, a 570 hp. AGCO tractor, pulling a 60 foot disk, ripped up 1,591 acres of dirt in 24 hours, or, and I quote, “a football field every two minutes.” And, say the AGCO people, the tractor used only about a gallon of fuel per acre in the process. That makes it a “green” tractor, even though it is not a John Deere. My ancient WD Allis Chalmers (orange) uses about a gallon of fuel per acre too, but pulling a much smaller disk and at a slower speed, it would take me all summer to disk up 1,591 acres.

So why am I not impressed? As is the case for most green sensations, the whole story is not being told. Take for example the ethanol fiasco, the noble idea that the world can be saved from oil shortages by producing ethanol fuel from corn. That notion has been thoroughly debunked but it still lives its own green life as farmers and ethanol plant owners seek to take advantage of the huge subsidies involved. If all the tillable acres in the world were planted to corn to make ethanol, the amount of fuel produced would equal about 17% of what we burn, say the experts, and then we’d starve to death and wouldn’t need any fuel.

So too, a tractor that burns only a gallon of fuel per acre, ethanol or regular, while steaming along tearing up the earth at the rate of a football field every two minutes, isn’t telling the whole story. How much fuel was used mining and smelting and refining the steel used in that 570 hp behemoth? How much fuel used turning the steel into machined parts? How much fuel used transporting workers to and from the mines and the factories? How much fuel needed to heat the factories? To transport the tractor to its ultimate buyer? To transport the executives and advertisers on their worldwide rounds to publicize a heap of iron big enough to rip up a football field in two minutes? And don’t forget to add in the airplane fuel used to fly them to meetings where they mostly play golf. How many gallons of fuel are used to drive the tractor to and from the fields between episodes of ripping up 1,591 acres in 24 hours? How many more gallons have to be burned by other tractors and trucks in planting all that land ripped up by the disk, spraying the crops grown thereon, harvesting the grain, hauling it to market or to storage, not to mention the huge amount of fuel needed to dry the grain after it is in storage to keep it from rotting. Then of course the grain has to be shipped far and wide across the world to its final destination, usually the rumen of an animal penned up in a fattening factory. And remember, even at a gallon per acre, there’s a lot of gas involved ripping up many hundreds of thousands of acres.

Now compare that to another kind of farming, where 1,591 acres would be planted permanently to grass and clover and grazed by 1,000 head of cows or 3000 head of sheep. No annual cultivation would be needed at all. No erosion. No soil compaction. Not even half the machinery cost would be involved, and if the meat, wool, and dairy products were sold locally, only half the transportation costs.

There would be an earth-shattering record in fuel savings, a record that would not mean shattering the earth.
(19 October 2007)
Writer-farmer Gene Logsdon is one of the U.S.'s national treasures. -BA

Oil Futures Retreat From $90 Record

Oil Futures Retreat From $90 Record
Oct 19 03:28 PM US/Eastern
AP Business Writer

Scott Croft, Biblical Dating: From "Hi" to "I Do" in a Year

Biblical Dating: From "Hi" to "I Do" in a Year
by Scott Croft

Hrm... believe

Allan Carlson, Third Ways

I also note that Allan Carlson's latest book is now available for purchase. I think the Western Confucian will probably get a copy as a part of his ISI book club membership?

Freewheeling capitalism or collectivist communism: when it came to political-economic systems, did the twentieth century present any other choice? Does our century? In Third Ways, social historian Allan Carlson tells the story of how different thinkers from Bulgaria to Great Britain created economic systems during the twentieth century that were by intent neither capitalist nor communist. Unlike fascists, these seekers were committed to democracy and pluralism. Unlike liberal capitalists, they refused to treat human labor and relationships as commodities like any other. And unlike communists, they strongly defended private property and the dignity of persons and families. Instead, the builders of these alternative economic systems wanted to protect and renew the "natural" communities of family, village, neighborhood, and parish. They treasured rural culture and family farming and defended traditional sex roles and vital home economies.

Carlson's book takes a fresh look at distributism, the controversial economic project of Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton which focused on broad property ownership and small-scale production; recovers the forgotten thought of Alexander Chayanov, a Russian economist who put forth a theory of "the natural family economy"; discusses the remarkable "third way" policies of peasant-led governments in post-World War I Bulgaria, Poland, and Romania; recounts the dramatic and largely unknown effort by Swedish housewives to defend their homes against radical feminism; relates the iconoclastic ideas of economic historian Karl Polanyi, including his concepts of "the economy without markets" and "the great transformation"; and praises the efforts by European Christian Democrats to build a moral economy on the concept of homo religious—"religious man."

Finally, Carlson's work explains why these efforts—at times rich in hope and prospects—ultimately failed, often with tragic results. The tale inspires wistful regret over lost opportunities that, if seized, might have spared tens of millions of lives and forestalled or avoided the blights of fascism, Stalinism, socialism, and the advent of the servile state. And yet the book closes with hope, enunciating a set of principles that could be used today for invigorating a "family way" economy compatible with an authentic, healthy, and humane culture of enterprise.

ISI conference on Wendell Berry

Tomorrow! I wonder if anyone from Christendom will be attending. Dr. Fahey is a scheduled speaker. I wish I could be there to meet the man.

Conference info:

"The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry"

ISI Regional Leadership Conference
Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Seelbach Hotel
500 Fourth Street
Louisville, KY 40202

Program Overview
Wendell Berry, through his poetry, social and literary criticism, and novels defends an authentically American civil and social order that is best exemplified in our nation's small communities and rural attachments. While recognizing that progress must be reconciled against our shared experience and knowledge bequeathed to us by our ancestors, Berry provides an indispensable literary compass for those looking to restore the remnants of shattered culture.

ISI, along with the Philadelphia Society and the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, will convene a one-day conference at the historic Seelbach Hotel in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Participants will be led to consider Berry's vision of the human in light of current political, economic, and cultural realities. Join ISI's best and brightest students and faculty in this daylong conference. Seating is limited, register today.

8:00 a.m.Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:00Welcome and Program Overview
9:15Sex and the Family
"Marriage and the Membership"
Anne Husted Burleigh

"Not Safe, Nor Private, Nor Free Will: Wendell Berry on Sexual Love and Procreation"
Allan Carlson
10:45Poetry and Religion
"Earth and Flesh Sing Together: The Place of Berry's Poetry in His Vision of the Human"
Luke Schlueter

"Wendell Berry's Unlikely Case for Conservative Christianity"
D.G. Hart
12:00 p.m.Lunch with Wendell Berry
2:00Distributism and Localism
"The Restoration of Propriety: Wendell Berry and the British Distributists Compared"
William Fahey

"Wendell Berry on War and Peace: Or, Port William Versus the Empire"
Bill Kaufman
3:40"Wendell Berry's Politics and Prospects for Reform"
Rod Dreher
4:40Closing Remarks

The conference schedule is available here (PDF).

For more information, contact or (800) 526-7022.

via Rod Dreher

Job Security Is Key for Society, Says Pontiff

Job Security Is Key for Society, Says Pontiff

Affirms That the Family Is Not Just a Catholic Value

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 19, 2007 ( Benedict XVI says a lack of job security, which inhibits young people from starting a family, affects the authentic development of society.

The Pope made that affirmation in a message sent to the president of the Italian episcopal conference, Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, on the occasion of the 45th Social Week of Italian Catholics, under way through Sunday.

The Holy Father affirmed that the social week should be "considered and promoted also in the context of international relations. ... Precisely because of the social foundations of human life, the good of each individual is naturally interconnected with the good of all humanity."

The task of laypeople, he said, is "to work for a correct ordering of society ... and to cooperate in the just organization of social life together with all other citizens, each according to their skills and under their own autonomous responsibility."

The Pontiff also mentioned the importance of the family, a topic hotly debated in Italy in recent months. He said that questions involving the "respect for life and the attention that must be given to the needs of the family based on marriage between a man and a woman" are important.

"These are not just 'Catholic' values and principles, but shared human values to be protected and safeguarded, like justice, peace and the defense of creation."


Benedict XVI urged Italian Catholics to respond to the challenge of job security "not by giving up and withdrawing into themselves but, on the contrary, with renewed dynamism, opening themselves trustingly to new relationships and not neglecting any of the energies capable of contributing to cultural and moral growth."

He said that "when lack of job security does not allow young people to build their own family, the authentic and complete development of society is seriously compromised."

The Holy Father concluded his message by turning his attention to the relationship between religion and politics.

He said: "The absolute novelty brought by Jesus is that he opened to way to a freer and more human world, with full respect for the distinction and autonomy that exists between what is of Caesar and what is of God.

"The Church, then, if on the one hand she recognizes she is not a political player, on the other she cannot but concern herself with the good of the entire civil community, in which she lives and operates. To that community she offers her particular contribution, forming the political and business classes in a genuine spirit of truth and honesty, with the aim of searching for the common good and not for individual profit."

Christ's Parable About the Need to Pray Always

Christ's Parable About the Need to Pray Always

Gospel Commentary for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap

ROME, OCT. 19, 2007 ( Sunday’s Gospel begins thus: “Jesus told them a parable about the need to pray always and not to lose heart.” The parable is the one about the troublesome widow. In answer to the question “How often must we pray?” Jesus answers, “Always!”

Prayer, like love, does not put up with calculation. Does a mother ask how often she should love her child, or a friend how often he should love a friend? There can be different levels of deliberateness in regard to love, but there are no more or less regular intervals in loving. It is the same way with prayer.

This ideal of constant prayer is realized in different forms in the East and West. Eastern Christianity practiced it with the “Jesus Prayer”: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!”

The West formulated the principle of constant prayer in a more flexible way so that it could also be proposed to those who do not lead a monastic life. St. Augustine teaches that the essence of prayer is desire. If the desire for God is constant, so also is prayer, but if there is no interior desire, then you can howl as much as you want -- to God you are mute.

Now, this secret desire for God, a work of memory, of need for the infinite, of nostalgia for God, can remain alive, even when one has other things to do: “Praying for a long time is not the same thing as kneeling or folding your hands for a long time. In consists rather in awakening a constant and devout impulse of the heart toward him whom we invoke.”

Jesus himself gave us the example of unceasing prayer. Of him, it is said that he prayed during the day, in the evening, early in the morning, and sometimes he passed the whole night in prayer. Prayer was the connecting thread of his whole life.

But Christ’s example tells us something else important. We are deceiving ourselves if we think that we can pray always, make prayer a kind of respiration of the soul in the midst of daily activity, if we do not set aside fixed times for prayer, when we are free from every other preoccupation.

The same Jesus who we see praying always, is also the one who, like every other Jew of his period, stopped and turned toward the temple in Jerusalem three times a day, at dawn, in the afternoon during the temple sacrifices, and at sundown, and recited ritual prayers, among which was the “Shema Yisrael!” -- “Hear, O Israel!” On the Sabbath he also participated, with his disciples, in the worship at the synagogue; different scenes in the Gospels take place precisely in this context.

The Church -- we can say, from its first moment of life -- has also set aside a special day dedicated to worship and prayer: Sunday. We all know what, unfortunately, has happened to Sunday in our society: Sports, from being something for diversion and relaxation, have often become something that poisons Sunday ... We must do whatever we can so that this day can return to being, as God intended it in commanding festive repose, a day of serene joy that strengthens our communion with God and with each other, in the family and in society.

We modern Christians should take our inspiration from the words that, in 305, St. Saturnius and his fellow martyrs addressed to the Roman judge who had them arrested for participating in the Sunday rite: “The Christian cannot live without the Sunday Eucharist. Do you not know that the Christian exists for the Eucharist and the Eucharist for the Christian?”

* * *

Father Raniero Cantalamessa is the Pontifical Household preacher. The readings for this Sunday are Exodus 17:8-13a; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Luke 18:1-8.

Papal Address to Mennonite Delegation

Papal Address to Mennonite Delegation

"Christ Himself Calls Us to Seek Christian Unity"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 19, 2007 ( Here is a copy of the address Benedict XVI made to the delegation members of the Mennonite World Conference whom he received in audience today.

* * *

Dear Friends,

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 1:2). I am happy to welcome you to Rome, where Peter and Paul bore witness to Christ by shedding their blood for the Gospel.

In the ecumenical spirit of recent times, we have begun to have contacts with each other after centuries of isolation. I am aware that leaders of the Mennonite World Conference accepted the invitation of my beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, to join him in Assisi both in 1986 and in 2002 to pray for world peace at a great gathering of leaders of Churches and Ecclesial Communities and other world religions. And I am pleased that officials of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity have responded to your invitations to attend your world assemblies in 1997 and 2003.

Since it is Christ himself who calls us to seek Christian unity, it is entirely right and fitting that Mennonites and Catholics have entered into dialogue in order to understand the reasons for the conflict that arose between us in the sixteenth century. To understand is to take the first step towards healing. I know that the report of that dialogue, published in 2003 and currently being studied in several countries, has placed special emphasis on healing of memories.

Mennonites are well known for their strong Christian witness to peace in the name of the Gospel, and here, despite centuries of division, the dialogue report "Called Together to be Peacemakers" has shown that we hold many convictions in common. We both emphasize that our work for peace is rooted in Jesus Christ "who is our peace, who has made us both one… making peace that he might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross (Eph 2:14-16)" (Report No. 174). We both understand that "reconciliation, nonviolence, and active peacemaking belong to the heart of the Gospel (cf. Mt 5:9; Rom 12:14-21; Eph 6:15)" (No. 179). Our continuing search for the unity of the Lord's disciples is of the utmost importance. Our witness will remain impaired as long as the world sees our divisions. Above all, what impels us to seek Christian unity is our Lord's prayer to the Father "that they may all be one… so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17:21).

It is my hope that your visit will be another step towards mutual understanding and reconciliation. May the peace and joy of Christ be with all of you and with your loved ones.

[Original text: English]

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Thursday, October 18, 2007

AICN on Welcome to the NHK


Welcome to the NHK
Tatsuhiko Takemoto's official website
Welcome to the NHK (TV) - Anime News Network
ADVFilms: Welcome to the NHK Volume 1: 1st Conspiracy
welcome to the NHK
Welcome to the NKH!

More on hikikomori:
wiki entry on hikikomori
BBC NEWS | Programmes | Correspondent | Japan: The Missing Million
Shutting Themselves In - New York Times
NPR : Retreating Youth Become Japan's 'Lost Generation' | GizmoLand! | Japan's Lost Generation | 5/1/2000 - 5 ... - A geek in Japan — Hikikomori

Podcast interview with Dr. Robert Hirsch

via EB

Peak oil means peak economy - Hirsch (podcast)
David Strahan, The Last Oil Shock
When global oil production peaks, the economy is likely to shrink in direct proportion to dwindling fuel supplies, says Dr Robert Hirsch of the thinktank SAIC.

Speaking at the Association for the Study of Peak Oil conference in Houston, he also warned that as peak approaches, producer countries including OPEC and Russia are likely to husband their reserves for future generations and limit exports, potentially sharpening the decline in oil available to importing nations.

Dr Hirsch is the author of a groundbreaking report for the US Department of Energy which highlighted the long lead-times and other limitations of purely supply-side responses to peak oil. In an interview with on the sidelines of the Houston conference, he went on to argue that fuel rationing will be an essential part of any policy response, and predicted that such measures would be introduced even in the United States.

Listen to the interview with Robert Hirsch.
(18 October 2007)

Rain gardens

via EB

Harvest the rain; build a rain garden
David Iribarne, Petaluma Argus-Courier

Rain Gardens of West Michigan - Home
Rain garden - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
WDNR - Rain Gardens
Rain Gardens - A how-to manual for homeowners
What Rain Garden?
Rain Gardens
Rain Gardens - Gardening for Water Quality
Rain Garden Network | Local Solutions for Local Stormwater Issues

Zenit: Human Rights Not Negotiable, Says Holy See

Human Rights Not Negotiable, Says Holy See

Urges Stronger Vision of the Person

WARSAW, Poland, OCT. 18, 2007 ( Human rights must be founded on a strong vision of the person, or else they will degenerate into rights that apply to some, and are negotiable for others, said the Holy See.

Monsignor Anthony Frontiero, an official of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, represented the Holy See at the annual meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), on "Human Dimension Implementation." The meeting took place Sept. 24-Oct. 5.

On Sept. 25, in his address on tolerance and nondiscrimination, Monsignor Frontiero said: "The delegation of the Holy See continues to be concerned with the all-too-often and flagrant violations against the right to freedom of religion throughout the OSCE region.

"In his message for the celebration of the 2007 World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the urgent need, even within the framework of current international difficulties and tensions, for a commitment to a human ecology that favors the promotion of mutual respect and understanding among peoples, which is a key to ending intolerance and discrimination, and, ultimately to peaceful coexistence.

"Such a commitment must be guided by a vision of the person untainted by ideological and cultural prejudices or by political and economic interests, which can often instill hatred and violence."

Ideological divide

Monsignor Frontiero continued: "Peaceful coexistence among people is not only threatened by the conflicts between ideologies, but also by indifference as to what constitutes man's true nature.

"Many in contemporary society actually deny the existence of a specific human nature, which only adds to confusion and, in many cases, hinders authentic dialogue.

"Clarity in this regard is needed so that a weak vision of the person will not open the door to authoritarian impositions and leave people defenseless and easy targets for oppression and violence."

The monsignor asked, "Relativistic notions of what it means to be a person offer insufficient justification and defense of human rights; because if rights are absolute, how can they be founded on a notion that is merely relative?"

He added: "Human rights, therefore, must be grounded in the objective requirements of human nature. Otherwise, in some cases the human person is marked by a permanent dignity, and rights that are always and everywhere valid; in other cases a person may not have a permanent dignity, and negotiable rights.

"This state of affairs is what we witness everyday in acts of intolerance and discrimination.

"Without a clear and strong awareness of who we are as persons, it will always be easier to claim that some people are worthy of respect and others are not; some people have the right to life, liberty, and religious belief, and others do not."

"Yet," Monsignor Frontiero concluded, "the task at hand is not simply to condemn actual injustices in the light of an adequately understood concept of the human person and human dignity, but to work together for a meaningful new future."

Zenit: Paul VI's Social Encyclical Still "Urgent"

Paul VI's Social Encyclical Still "Urgent"

Dublin Archbishop Recalls Letter's Focus on Person

NEW YORK, OCT. 18, 2007 ( The archbishop of Dublin told members of the United Nations that Pope Paul VI's encyclical "Populorum Progressio" is just as valid today as it was when written 40 years ago.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin made that statement Wednesday at a U.N side event co-sponsored by the Holy See's Permanent Observer Mission, noting that in "Populorum Progessio," Paul VI showed a "vision for the future that should lead beyond ideologies and power struggles toward the concept of what he calls authentic development."

The Irish prelate spoke of the cultural and ecclesial context of 1967, the year the encyclical was written. Noting the various complexities of the time, Archbishop Martin said that Paul VI focused on a key element of Catholic social doctrine: the primacy of the person.

The concept "is a very simple one," the archbishop said. "Authentic development 'must foster the development of each person and of the whole person.' In authentic development, economics are not to be separated from human realities, nor development from the civilization in which it takes place.

"What counts is the person -- each individual person, each human group, and humanity as a whole."


"Development is person-centered," Archbishop Martin affirmed, "but it looks at the human person in his or her integrity and within the communities in which he or she lives and in terms of humanity as a whole.

"It is not possible to talk about human development without talking about spiritual development and the person’s relationship with God. The Church would not be true to its mission if in the area of development it did not draw attention to this aspect of the identity of the human person.

"Authentic development must be concerned about the development of the person in his or her integrity; that means not just their economic development. […] It would be wrong to separate social teaching from the Church’s teaching on the human person, male and female; it would be wrong to limit social teaching to the merely social, political or economic. The fostering of the family is essential if we are aim at a type of development that is truly rooted in the deepest reality of what it is to be a human person."


Archbishop Martin also focused on the encyclical's evaluation of the model of capitalism emerging in the 1960s.

"The thrust of Pope Paul’s thought is that no economic model can be absolutized," the archbishop said. "Capitalism and a market economy have undoubted value, but they too must be written in the conditional."

The archbishop of Dublin said that Paul VI echoed the teaching of the Fathers of the Church in stressing the principle of the universal destination of the goods of creation.

"This principle, which has been applied to themes like land reform, must today find its place in reflection on those common goods of our global world: the environment, water and above all to knowledge and intellectual property," the archbishop said.

World authority

The 62-year-old prelate turned his attention to Paul VI's teaching on an "effective world authority."

"The Pope called for 'institutions that will promote, coordinate and direct' international collaboration among nations 'until a new juridical order is firmly established and fully ratified,'" the archbishop said.

Noting that Paul VI "does not enter more deeply" into what is this effective world authority, the archbishop contended, "We are still very far from having a truly effective world authority for the governance of global goods. The existing structures are often inadequate, politically weighted in one direction or the other, and at times they work against each other."

"Were Pope Paul here with us today," the archbishop said, "he would certainly be saying thanks to all those who have given themselves in the service of humanity within the U.N. system. He would surely also certainly be making remarks on the slow progress of U.N. reform. We need a well-functioning United Nations."

He continued: "On the other hand the concept of an effective world authority is being challenged by disregard for international norms where powerful nations -- I deliberately chose the plural -- place their trust in force.

"We must also note that the door for force is opened when humanitarian or diplomatic opportunities are not followed with vigor. The international political climate which inhibits the United Nations to address a number of the world’s major humanitarian crisis is a source of frustration to so many."

"The 40 years since the publication of 'Populorum Progressio' have in no way reduced the urgency that was in the appeal of Pope Paul VI," Archbishop Martin affirmed. "That urgency still remains undiminished and it requires then, as now, a response from all."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Isabel Bayrakdarian - "Havun Havun"

via Daniel Larison

Dle Yaman by Isabel

Isabel Bayrakdarian - Una Voce Poco

Haley Westenra, O Shenandoah

O Shenandoah

Ave Maria Bryn Terfel - Hayley Westenra and Jose Carreras

Hayley Westenra -- Down to the River to Pray

Hayley Westenra - Love Changes Everything

Hayley Westenra - Mozart's Lullaby
(2005)...hayley-westenra mozart wiegenlied モーツアルトの子守歌 ローレライ lullaby ヘイリー-ウェステンラ

Hayley Westenra, Shenandoah

The Text of the Chattanooga Declaration

here, at the Middlebury Institute

The Chattanooga Declaration
Adopted at the Second North American Secessionist Convention, October 4, 2007, Chattanooga, Tennessee

We, the delegates of the secession movements represented at the Second North American Secessionist Convention, acknowledging our differences, yet agree on the following truths:

1. The deepest questions of human liberty and government facing our time go beyond right and left, and in fact have made the old left-right split meaningless an dead.

2. The privileges, monopolies, and powers that private corporations have won from government threaten everyone’s health, prosperity, and liberty, and have already killed American self-government by the people.

3. The power of corporations endangers liberty as much as government power, especially when they are combined as in the American Empire.

4. Liberty can only survive if political power is returned from faraway and self-interested centers to local communities and states.

5. The American Empire is no longer a nation or a republic, but has become a tyrant aggressive abroad and despotic at home.

6. The states of the American union are and of right out to be, free and self-governing.

7. Without secession, liberty and self-government can never be sustained, and diversity among human societies can never survive.

Alan Farago, The Credit Shock

Alan Farago
The Credit Shock

TD, Cameras, Crooks, and Deterrence

Theodore Dalrymple
Cameras, Crooks, and Deterrence
Constant surveillance seems to have had little effect on Britain’s sky-high crime.
16 October 2007

From the inbox at Mere Comments

The full post. What I found particularly of interest:

First, "Full, corporate, sacramental communion" from the Anglican weblog The Continuum, reporting a statement by the bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion that they had "unanimously agreed to the text of a letter to the See of Rome seeking full, corporate, sacramental union."

Second, Family breakdown due to inadequate gospel understanding, an extensive report from the Southern Baptist Texan of a talk by our own Russell Moore.

Moore argued that understanding the identity and purifying work of Jesus Christ is the answer to what ails the family and that social ills are reminders “of the wreckage of Eden.”

Yet, Moore said, the solution is not so much about recovering a series of doctrines or abstractions or “communicating principals more clearly.”

“It’s about recovering a theology. It’s about recovering a big picture that … understands what we mean when we talk about the family,” Moore explained.

And third, Kay S. Hymowitz's The New Girl Order, from She argues that

Carrie Bradshaw is alive and well and living in Warsaw. Well, not just Warsaw. Conceived and raised in the United States, Carrie may still see New York as a spiritual home. But today you can find her in cities across Europe, Asia, and North America. Seek out the trendy shoe stores in Shanghai, Berlin, Singapore, Seoul, and Dublin, and you’ll see crowds of single young females (SYFs) in their twenties and thirties, who spend their hours working their abs and their careers, sipping cocktails, dancing at clubs, and (yawn) talking about relationships. Sex and the City has gone global; the SYF world is now flat.

. . . The globalization of the SYF reflects a series of stunning demographic and economic shifts that are pointing much of the world—with important exceptions, including Africa and most of the Middle East—toward a New Girl Order. It’s a man’s world, James Brown always reminded us. But if these trends continue, not so much.

The last can also be found at City Journal. CJ PODCAST: Kay S. Hymowitz discusses this story

Amanda Griscom Little interviews Ron Paul

@ Grist, via Andrew Sullivan

question You mentioned that you don't support subsidies for the development of energy technologies. If all subsidies were removed from the energy sector, what do you think would happen to alternative energy industries like solar, wind, and ethanol?

answer Whoever can offer the best product at the best price, that's what people will use. They just have to do this without damaging the environment.

If we're running out of hydrocarbon, the price will go up. If we had a crisis tomorrow [that cut our oil supply in half], people would drive half as much -- something would happen immediately. Somebody would come up with alternative fuels rather quickly.

I think Dr. Paul needs to talk to Rep. Roscoe Bartlett about alternate fuels, and the gap between what can be produced and what America's current way of life requires. Would people really drive half as much? Perhaps there would be more carpooling. But people haven't really embraced that option yet.

What role do you think coal should play in America's energy future?

answer Coal is a source of energy and it should be used, but it has to be used without ever hurting anybody. I think we're smart enough to do it. Technology is improving all the time. If oil goes to $150 a barrel because we've bombed Iran, coal might be something that we can become more independent with. I think technology is super, and we are capable of knowing how to use coal without polluting other people's property.
Switching to coal will make the march towards Peak Coal more rapid.

Via Energy Bulletin:
Experts worry that world oil production may soon peak
The age of scarcity industrialism
Farming faces phosphate shortfall
Economics - Oct 17
Soaring oil prices have yet to derail economy
Economies adjust as oil heads for $90 a barrel
When oil prices rise, so does just about everything else
Finance Round-Up from TOD:Canada

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dancing with the Stars, Season 3

Dancing With The Stars - Week 4- Jennie Garth

Dancing With The Stars - Week 3 - Jennie Garth

Dancing with the Stars 2nd Week - Jennie Garth

Dancing with the Stars First Night - Jennie Garth

Dancing With The Stars - Week 4 - Helio Castroneves

Dancing With The Stars - Week 3 - Helio Castroneves

Dancing with the Stars 2nd Week - Helio Castroneves

Dancing with the Stars 1st Week - Helio Castroneves

Helio Castroneves & Julianne Hough - Bewitched
Dancing with the stars - more fun than you

Pumpkin Scissors, first episode


Pumpkin Scissors (TV) - Anime News Network
US official site
Japan official site
Gonzo site
Pumpkin Scissors @

Bill Bonner, Inflation, and the Downfall of the Shopping Mall

Inflation, and the Downfall of the Shopping Mall

It did not pay to save dollars in the '70s. Inflation rose to 12% and made them worth less and less. In a way, this was the lesson Americans most wanted to learn. They didn't want to save anyway…they wanted to spend. Gradually, the economy shifted from one in which people made things at a profit to one in which they bought things at a loss. Households turned their attention to how to consume what they had never earned. And business turned its attention to how make money by selling to people who didn't have any money. The economy itself shifted to one based on manufacturing to one that emphasized marketing…and then finance. Factories rusted. But shopping malls and housing development proliferated.

In 1967, Henry Kaufman was made a full partner at Solomon Bros. in New York. His compensation: $25,000 a year.

Forty years later, the average hedge fund manager is taking home nearly $24,000 PER WEEK.

Meanwhile, the average U.S. weekly pay is only $841 - a figure that is about the same, in real terms, as the average 30 years ago.

And here is the question to which we keep returning, a question that is purely rhetorical:

How can people who don't earn more money still spend more?

Not only do we know the answer, we've given it to Dear Readers countless times:

They borrow.

Total U.S. credit debt rose during the Greenspan years alone from $9.8 trillion to $37.3 trillion - a 400% increase. That is the weight now pressing down on the U.S. economy. That is the burden that must be lightened.

And it is being lightened - in two ways. Many debts are going bad. House foreclosures in September doubled from the year before, for example.

The other way it is being lightened is by inflation. Every day, people add more debt…and inflation takes a little more off. In the last 30 years, consumers, business and speculators were able to add debt a lot faster than inflation took it off. But now, debtors are already stretched to their limits…and creditors are getting persnickety. A Reuters report tells us that consumers have switched to credit cards in order to continue spending. Home equity lines and mortgage refinancing has fallen from favor.

Eventually, inflation will wipe out debt. The 1,000% inflation rates in Argentina in the '80s eliminated most debt. Still today, the country has very little debt.

Is it hard to get a mortgage? We don't know, but if anyone is lending money in Zimbabwe, he should probably seek medical attention and bankruptcy protection; with an inflation rate of 100,000% per year - he will be wiped out overnight.

In America, the process has a long way to go. Official inflation rates are only 2%-3%, though consumers report price hikes much greater than that. Still plenty of excitement ahead!

Stay tuned…

Who's worried about inflation? Stock markets are booming all over the world…

In the United States, stocks have doubled in the last five years. That's an annual rate of increase of 15% per year. But the New York Times tells us that the U.S. gain is small potatoes. Almost every other stock market has done better. Of the 83 major stock market indices, since 2002, 78 of them did better than the United States. The top performer was Peru - with an annual gain of 87.5%. Right behind Peru were the Ukraine at 83.7% and Bulgaria at 77.1%.

The stock markets highlight the differences between old economies and new ones. The places that are doing the best are the 'emerging' markets - where people are actually making things and selling them at a profit. Among the "old" economies, only Germany was a top performer - with an annual stock growth of 34%. Russia rose at 43.8% per year. The Shanghai composite rose at 32.6% per year. And take a look at Vietnam! The Ho Chi Minh index rose at an annual rate of 42.6% over the five-year period.

"I spent 18 months over there, getting shot at…" says a visiting cousin. "I might just as well have stayed home…"

Peter Hitchens once again makes the case for...

letting the Tories go down in defeat.

The Tories are still useless, and if you really want to get Labour out, you should not vote Tory

Richard Heinberg, Powerdown revisited/As the world burns

Published on 14 Oct 2007 by Museletter / Global Public Media. Archived on 14 Oct 2007.
Powerdown revisited/As the world burns
by Richard Heinberg

After a few years of further thought, it seems to me that my description of these options could stand some modification. I would now say that our future options consist of three broad scenarios.

...Here are the three scenarios that I see as most likely.

1. Feudal fascism. This is basically similar to the Last One Standing option in Powerdown, though now I would frame it somewhat differently. A strong central government will organize work - though not in a way that many people will enjoy. Think agricultural work camps and slave-labor factories. The main selling point for the Fascist option (sorry for the word fascism, but while it’s loaded with historical baggage it’s also handy, familiar, and probably fairly accurate) would be the maintenance of order in a time of increasing social disintegration. ...

2. The Eco Deal. Economist Susan George calls this option “Environmental Keynesianism” (see her essay at For a snapshot image, think of the 1930s New Deal revisited in the context of global ecological crisis.Like Feudal Fascism, this scenario assumes a strong central government. But in this case, government applies itself to the transformation of societal infrastructure using an inclusive strategy that entails economic re-distribution and the fostering of a culture of democracy. ...

3. Bottoms Up. There is a strong likelihood that, at least in some nations or regions, strong central government will not survive the end of cheap energy - especially if electrical grids fail. In that case, neither the Feudal Fascist nor the Eco-Deal strategy would play out; instead, localities would be on their own. Local governments and citizen groups would have the task of maintaining order and flows of basic necessities. ...

Kurt Cobb, What's the Definition of Local


Published on 14 Oct 2007 by Resource Insights. Archived on 14 Oct 2007.
What's the definition of local?
by Kurt Cobb

Interview with P.W. Singer about Blackwater

An Interview with P. W. Singer
Privatizing Terror, Outsourcing Diplomacy

Alexander Cockburn, Al Gore's Peace Prize

Alexander Cockburn
Al Gore's Peace Prize

Lind, Out of the Frying Pan

William S. Lind
Out of the Frying Pan

on Afghanistan

Zenit: Everyone Has a Right to Eat, Says Pope

Everyone Has a Right to Eat, Says Pope

Sends Message for U.N. World Food Day

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2007 ( Benedict XVI says that all people have a right to healthy and sufficient food, and that human egotism, more than natural disasters, is the cause of the phenomenon of wide-scale hunger.

The Pope stated that position in a message marking today's celebration of the World Food Day, sponsored by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The Holy Father called for a "consciousness of solidarity […] among the community of nations, a consciousness that considers food a universal right for all human beings, without distinction or discrimination."

The Pontiff said he considers the theme chosen for this day, "The Right to Food," as a tool to aid reflection in preparation for the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"This coincidence helps us to think of the importance that the right to food has for the happy procurement of other rights, beginning before all with the fundamental right to life," Benedict XVI said.

The Pope lamented that the number of starving people in the world is not diminishing significantly. He said: "This is due, perhaps, to a tendency to act motivated, solely or mainly, by technical and economic incentives, forgetting the priority of the ethical dimension of 'feed the hungry.'

"This priority is linked to the sentiment of compassion and solidarity proper to human beings, which brings them to share with each other, not just in material things, but rather the love that all of us need. Effectively, we give too little if we only give material things."

Human causes

The Holy Father explained that data show the causes of hunger to be "situations provoked by the behavior of people, which flow from a general social, economic and human deterioration" more than natural disasters or similar causes.

And the Pontiff noted "an ever growing number of persons that, because of poverty or bloody conflicts, find themselves obliged to leave their houses and their loved ones to look for survival away from their homeland. Despite international commitments, many of them are rejected."

He continued: "The objective of eradicating hunger and at the same time, being able to count on sufficient and healthy food, also requires specific methods and actions that permit a utilization of resources respectful of the patrimony of creation.

"To work in this direction is a priority that implies not only benefiting from the results of science, investigation and technology, but also taking into account the cycles and rhythms of nature known by people in rural zones, as well as protecting the traditional practices of indigenous communities, leaving aside purely egotistical and economic reasoning."

The papal message concludes considering the particular situation of children, who the Pope called "the first victims of this tragedy."

He recalled that children's physical or psychological development is sometimes hampered because of hunger, and noted that "on so many occasions, [children are] forced to work or enlisted by armed groups in exchange for receiving a few bites of food."

"In this respect," the Pontiff said, "I place my hope in the initiatives that have begun on a multilateral level to favor school food programs, which allow entire communities whose existence is threatened by hunger, to view the future with more hope."

The Holy Father speaks of the right to food--the English title of the article is both misleading and inaccurate. Families have the right to the natural resources (which are originally common) which are required for the production of food. If an injustice prevents them from acquiring or having access to these natural resources, then that injustice should be corrected first, if at all possible. If not, then perhaps the redistribution of produced goods can be a licit option, though there is a question of compensation, and how compensation is possible. I still have to think about taxation as a form of redistribution.

Pontiff: Families Must Form Consciences

When an Orthodox Joins the Catholic Church

More Q& A with Fr. McNamara

Ambrosian Vespers at St. Paul's in Cambridge

Besides the various early music events and the occasional lecture, it is only something like this that would make me wish I were still living in Boston.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rumors of a new Dune project

How credible are they?

I still think the novels deserve some sort of treatment by a Japanese animation studio.

The Counter

I met with some high school friends last night for dinner at The Counter at Santana Row. The burgers were tasty, and the fries were ok (the cheese fries looked cheap though)--the prices match its location. A gourmet burger joint, trying to appeal to the clientele of Santana Row and Valley Fair and their wallets and purses. It ultimately it isn't worth it. (As far as I'm concerned.) Better to get some "organic" beef and have a backyard bbq with all the toppings you could want. ("Locally produced" beef from cows raised in a humane manner that respects the environment and the principles of polyculture as much as possible is a mouthful--I don't think Michael Pollan came up with a word to describe this type of agriculture. It's not necessarily the same as permaculture, and it goes beyond organic, especially industrial organic.) There isn't much in terms of decoration or design--the restaurant is rather modern in that respect.

My sisters went to The Counter last time they were in the area, but I declined going as I was a bit tired and groggy from my nap, and didn't want to make the drive. I think KK liked the food there. I thought it was a decent hamburger but the price is a definite minus.

SL still goes to Kirk's Steakburgers, and it apparently is still good. I should go there, if I find another coupon. Apparently a new one has opened near the Santa Clara City Library off Homestead. I also found out that she's expecting #2, due in late Feb. or early March. Congratulations! Another baby, fun fun!

JHK: The Casino Syndrome

JHK comments on the rush by states to attract casinos. He also mentions state lotteries. It reminds me of the candidates running for the Cupertino City Council who seek to generate more revenue for the city by persuading businesses to open in Cupertino. The revenue would come from the sales tax. The business (whether it be a bookstore, or a major retailer, or what have you), would attract not only Cupertino residents, but residents of nearby cities as well.

So, instead of having a productive, self-sufficient economy, the city (or the state, in the case of casinos) must get money by acting as a parasite, getting money from wherever it can in order to finance its expenditures, which may not be necessary. How much of these tax dollars are actually being wasted? I can point to one place of waste: the public schools.

Benedict XVI: On True Healing

On True Healing
"What a Treasure Is Hidden in the Little Phrase 'Thank You'"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 15, 2007 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday to the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square when he led the praying of the midday Angelus.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

The Gospel from this Sunday presents Jesus curing 10 lepers, of whom only one, a Samaritan, and thus a foreigner, returns to give thanks (cf. Luke 17:11-19). The Lord says, "Rise and go on your way; your faith has saved you" (Luke 17:19).

This Gospel passage invites us to a double reflection. Above all, it makes us think of two levels of healing: one that is more superficial, affecting the body; another, more profound, reaching the depths of a person, that which the Bible calls the "heart," and from there, irradiating to all of existence.

The complete and radical healing is "salvation." Even in common language, the distinction between "health" and "salvation" helps us to understand that salvation is much more that health. It is, in fact, a new life, full and definitive. Moreover, here, as in other circumstances, Jesus uses the expression, "Your faith has saved you." Faith saves the human person, re-establishing him in his profound relationship with God, with himself, and with others. And faith is expressed with appreciation. He who, like the healed Samaritan, knows how to give thanks, shows that he does not consider everything as something which is merited, but instead as a gift that, even if it comes through people or through nature, in the end, comes from God. Faith involves, then, the openness of the person to the grace of the Lord; to recognize that all is gift, all is grace. What a treasure is hidden in the little phrase "thank you!"

Jesus cures 10 people sick with leprosy, a sickness in that time considered a "contagious impurity," which required a rite of purification (cf. Leviticus 14:1-37). In reality, the leprosy that truly disfigures the person and society is sin; pride and egotism give birth in the spirit to indifference, hate and violence. Only God, who is Love, can cure this leprosy of the spirit, which disfigures the face of humanity. Upon opening the heart to God, the converted person is healed interiorly of evil.

"Repent and believe in the Gospel" (cf. Mark 1:15). Jesus made this invitation at the beginning of his public life, and it continues to resound in the Church, to the point that even the Blessed Virgin in her apparitions, especially in recent times, has renewed this call.

Today we think especially of Fatima, where, precisely 90 years ago, from May 13 to Oct. 13, 1917, the Virgin appeared to three little shepherds: Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. Thanks to a television connection, I want to make myself spiritually present in that Marian shrine, where Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, has in my name presided over the concluding ceremonies of such an important anniversary.

I cordially greet him, and the other cardinals and bishops present, the priests that work in the shrine and the pilgrims who have come from every part of the world for this occasion. We ask the Blessed Virgin for the gift of conversion for all Christians, so that they may announce and give a faithful and coherent witness to the perennial evangelical message, which indicates to humanity the path to an authentic peace.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[After the Angelus, the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I warmly welcome the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus. In today’s Gospel our Lord takes pity on the lepers, cleansing them of their infirmities and reminding us all of his desire to heal those who suffer. During your time in Rome may God bless you with the saving power of his peace and love.

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Italian, the Pope added:]

Serious news of attacks and violence continues to arrive daily from Iraq, shaking the conscience of all people who have the good of that country and the peace of the region at heart. Among this news, I learned today of the kidnapping of two good priests of the Syrian Catholic archdiocese of Mosul, who have been threatened with death. I appeal to the kidnappers to release the two religious immediately and, in underlining once again that violence does not resolve tensions, I raise to the Lord a heartfelt prayer for their liberation, for all those suffering from violence, and for peace.

[Translation by ZENIT]