Saturday, June 07, 2008

Thoughts on Doctor Who, Forest of the Dead


Like last year's Christmas special, Voyage of the Damned, the Doctor uses technology in this episode to attempt to save the life of someone close to him. Whereas in the Christmas special, the tool was the teleport memory buffer, this time around it is the use of a neural link and a massive computer at the heart of the universe's largest library. Of course, the resurrection this time isn't complete--corporal life isn't restored. Just "virtual" existence within the memory of the computer. And this existence is a perpetual existence, in some sort of 'spiritual' mode (though still corporeal, in the form of swarming electrons)--so long as the computer has a power source and is running, and the memory isn't deleted or the disk reformatted.

I've talked about the treatment of death by popular culture before, in reference to Torchwood and House. As one might expect from a post-Christian culture, death is the greatest tragedy, the greatest evil that can befall someone. This time around though, since there's no final 'death' to the character, there is no real confrontation of the afterlife, no regret, no judgment--just assurance of a virtual immortality. (When River Song sacrifices herself to prevent the library from self-destructing, she says her good-byes to the Doctor and reassures him that his happy times with her are yet to come. There isn't much time in the story for her to reflect upon what is about to happen to her, and have regrets.)

It is true that the natural desire for continued existence, for immortality, is the most fundamental natural desire there is, common to all things. Moreover, there is even some awareness in our post-Christian culture that bare life is not in itself the highest good (as we see in the arguments given in support of euthanasia and also abortion); rather life is valuable in so far as it is the foundation which allows us to be engaged in other acts. But what the best sort of acts may be, that is left to us to decide.

What happens after death? Secular humanists and atheists are not necessarily materialists. (Was it Fr. Vincent Micelli, S.J. or William Mara who talked about practical atheists, people who might be believers of some sort but live as if there were no God? As distinguished from intellectually committed atheists, who have convinced themselves of His non-existence, or will it to be the case.) And even strict materialists do not necessarily believe that there is nothing beyond death. For example, some may believe that we persist, in some form of 'life energy.' But this does not appear to be a common view.

The promise of some sort of virtual immortality might appeal to a materialist. Otherwise, in public or in pop culture at least, they adopt a pseudo-stoic attitude that eventually everyone's time to die comes, and we should resign ourselves to that fact. It's much like how we would view the passing of a pet or an animal. "They've lived a good life, and now it's over." But privately is this how they face death when their own time comes? Or do they hope that it happens when they are asleep or unconscious either through illness or medication?

It is difficult to generalize what Western non-Christians believe with respect to what happens after death. What is certain is that this corporal life does not endure, and everyone of sound mind recognizes this. In many areas, we have lost sight of the judgment that awaits us at the end of our lives, which even primitives and pre-Christian cultures acknowledged (probably through the passing on of the contents of what was revealed by God the first human parents.). Many of those Americans who do believe in the existence of a non-corporeal realm and a day of reckoning believe that most people are good or at least decent, even if they concede that some are a little bit better than others; the only ones who are truly evil are the terrible monsters like Hitler, who are responsible for causing so much death and destruction and are guilty of grave crimes against mankind. There's no awareness that offenses against God are worse.

If we do think believe in an afterlife, those of us who do not have faith or educated reason rely too much upon our imagination. We may not have a body, but we do have some sort of a corporeal form, and our activities are much like the ones we have know--communication, leisure, etc. We see this in with the shades/souls of the Greek myths and in popular depictions today.

This is mirrored in the virtual existence provided by the computer in this episode, even if the 'afterlife' is founded upon sci-fi technology, instead of being a naturally occurring event.

As far as I know, even in the classic Who death is final, and while the Doctor has witnessed the death of companions, he has avoided death himself by regenerating. Indeed, that is part of the curse of being a Time Lord, living so long while those he cares about get old and die--hence the Doctor prefers at some point to cut things off with people (as we see with Sarah Jane Smith) to avoid dealing with this unpleasant part of his reality. There is no God in the Who universe, just various sentient races that arise (and eventually disappear), some even learning the secrets of the universe and gaining great power as a result.

The computer was first used to perpetuate an individual's existence when one of the girls in the Lux family (which built the library) was dying, and the family decided to upload her memory into the computer. She thus became the central library computer. The family thought this would give her the happiness she would miss if she were to die, as she could now read all the books she wanted, as the library database saved every book ever published, and "learn" about the universe. It reminds me of the statement put onto a plaque at the new Cupertino library, something along the lines that heaven is like a library.

(Next time I go to the library, I will get the exact quote and edit this post.)

One might think that Aristotle would be happy with that sort of everlasting activity, but his theoria is much different from the Enlightenment encyclopedic project of amassing 'knowledge' through books and passing 'knowledge' on through them. Of course, either is not the salvation that God has offered to us through His Son.

*Edit: Here is the quote -- "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." -- Jorge Luis Borges.

So what is the Doctor's name? And under what circumstances would he reveal it?

The Late Scholastics vs. the Austrian School on the Just Price

The view of the Austrian school, exemplified by Mr. Jeffrey Tucker -- What are Just Prices?

The only real answer here is to let the free market rule, which is another way of saying that people should be free to come to their own negotiations about the prices they are willing to pay or accept for this and that. Those points of agreement should be as flexible as human valuation itself. That is to say, we should be free to change our minds, with each exchange taken as an end in itself, with no bearing on future points of agreement.

This is not only fitting with the needs of freedom — any attempt to force prices to do this or that does in fact impinge on our freedom to negotiate — but it is also essential to a well-functioning economy. That's because the price is heavily influenced by factors such as resource availability, the subjective valuations of consumers, and the profitability of the undertaking in light of accounting costs. In the end, the books have to be in the black. The prices that are accepted in the market must sustain this state of affairs. Even in mega-industries like oil, the difference between revenue and expenses can be surprisingly thin. Even small regulatory and tax changes can drive companies of all sizes to bankruptcy.

Prices are crucial to the wise apportioning of resources in a world with unlimited wants and limited resources. Prices affect the way in which we use things, whether conserving them or throwing them away. You will note that higher gas prices change the way you make judgments about going places and doing things. This is a good thing. Higher prices signal the need to conserve — and without unworkable mandates from government. And from a producer point of view, prevailing prices provide crucial information concerning the forecasting of future profits and hence today's investment decisions.

Now we must address the matter of justice. We think we know what a just price is. But do we really and what actually constitutes justice in prices? What comes first to my own mind is the Parable of the Treasure in the Field. An unknowing land owner is just living day to day with no knowledge that there is a treasure in the backyard. Some other guy, however, has knowledge of the treasure, so he sells everything he has, knocks on the owner's door and nonchalantly says, you know, I would be glad to buy your property. The owner sells.

But let's be clear here: the owner did not know that there was a treasure back there. Nor did the buyer say a word about it, lest the price he had to pay go sky high. Today, people might say that the owner got ripped off. But Jesus doesn't say this. He holds up the buyer as wise and moral. Interesting, isn't it? Is there justice in this exchange? Most certainly. And why? Because they agreed voluntarily. That's all there is to it.

There is no way to observe an existing price and declare it just or unjust. As St. Bernardino — a shrewd observer of economic affairs — said,

Water is usually cheap where it is abundant. But it can happen that on a mountain or in another place, water is scarce, not abundant. It may well happen that water is more highly esteemed than gold, because gold is more abundant in this place than water.

The Late Scholastics, followers of St. Thomas Aquinas, all agreed that the just price has no fixed position. It all depends on the common estimation of traders. Luis de Molina summed up the point:

A price is considered just or unjust not because of the nature of the things themselves — this would lead us to value them according to their nobility or perfection — but due to their ability to serve human utility. But this is the way in which they are appreciated by men, they therefore command a price in the market and in exchanges.

(For more on the views of the Schoolmen on prices, see Faith and Liberty: The Economic Thought of the Late Scholastics, by Alejandro Chafuen.)

Now, there are ways for a price to become a matter of injustice. It can mask fraud. The prices can result from or be influenced by some act of force, such as price controls or taxation or restrictions on supply and demand. Behind each of these, we find coercion, a body of people who are mandating or restricting in a way that is incompatible with free choice. Arguably, this is not just.

We can conclude, then, that to the extent we complain about unjust gasoline prices, we need to look at the restrictions on refineries or exploration or drilling, or examine the role that high gas taxes have in pushing up prices beyond what they would be under conditions of free exchange.

And as for those who believe that all prices should move in ways that benefit their own particular economic interests at the expense of everyone else, don't confuse your agenda with a matter of justice. Prevailing prices in a business-based economy are a reflection of cooperative arrangements involving people with free will.

Dr. Chojnowski, Corporation Christendom: The True School of Salamanca

A number of Libertarians have felt the need to trace their ideas back to the established thought of Catholic Christendom. We can only speculate as to their motives. However, what is clear is this, within the second half of the 20th century and, even, into our own, there have been some Libertarians who identify nascent Capitalistic ideas (I simply identify Capitalism here as the economic form of Liberalism – not to be confused with American Leftism) as existing within the corporate organism that was Christendom, prior to the dawning of the Enlightenment. There are some more reckless Libertarian thinkers who would even state that, not only are there Liberal anomalies within the paradigm of historical Christendom, but rather, that Liberalism is the Christian civilizational paradigm itself. The recurrent focus of such Libertarian dreaming is the late Renaissance Spanish School of Salamanca and Sts. Bernadine of Siena and Antonino of Florence. The main issue, although not the only one, is the one of the just price. Can it be that the later Scholastics, as represented by the School of Salamanca, along with the two Renaissance saints known for their sermons on economic concerns, should be identified as early advocates of Liberal Capitalism due to their, supposed, insistence that the just price which must be upheld by Church, State, and Society at large, is simply the one which is assigned to a product due to the interplay of producer supply and consumer demand? If economic justice, at this most basic and essential level, is simply a matter of adhering, faithfully, to the laws of supply and demand, we can say that the view of these Catholic thinkers could, indeed, be characterized as an example of Early Economic Liberalism. If there were something more to justice than the simple end result of the interplay of the free will of producer and the free choice of the consumer, than their thought could not be denominated as a early form of von Misesian Neo-Liberal/Libertarian conceptions.


Our task can, also, be simplified if we can demonstrate, using the research of the Neo-Liberal scholars themselves, that the later Spanish Scholastics of Salamanca, along with the two above-mentioned saints, were fully within the great intellectual, social, and economic tradition of Catholic Christendom most particularly concerning the question of the just price. If the just price is formulated in a way, which allows for many factors other than the exigencies of supply and demand (i.e., whether there is a social and moral aspect of the determination of price) and, especially, if there is a role for the prince in the determination of market prices, than we can safely reject the notion that these Catholic scholars of the past accepted a paleo-Capitalistic conception of the determination of price and, hence, of the entire economic life of society.

F) Bernadine of Siena and Antonino of Florence: Saints Misconstrued

We ought be very much surprised when we find a Neo-Liberal scholar like Raymond de Roover focusing our attention on two great saints, St. Bernadine of Siena and St. Antonino of Florence. It is, first of all, surprising to see that they are termed, "The Two Great Economic Thinkers of the Middle Ages," when they lived their lives square in the heart of the blossoming Italian Renaissance. That these thinkers are acclaimed as far-sighted prophets of the goodness of Liberal Capitalism is also surprising, since their attitude towards economics itself could not be farther away from the mentality of a von Mises, who would hold the laws of private property and the "free-marketx to be adverse to the xheterogeneousx moral claims made by the divine and natural law. Here it would be useful to recall von Mises statement that, "In urging people to listen to the voice of their conscience and to substitute considerations of public welfare for those of private profit, one does not create a working and satisfactory social order [emphasis mine].x The only thing which the two great saints under consideration intended by their preaching and writing on economic issues was to xurg[e] people to listen to the voice of their conscience and to substitute considerations of public welfare for those of private profit.x They, also, held that only if such things were done, would a just and satisfying civil order be attained.

When we consider the moral teachings of St. Bernadine (1380 – 1444) as these relate to economic issues, what we are analyzing are 14 sermons, which are part of a larger collection of sermons entitled De Evangelio aeterno (Concerning the Eternal Gospel). These Latin sermons, as opposed to his Italian ones, were meant to be read rather than preached. Here we can see the continuation of a long tradition, echoed in our own age by men like Heinrich Pesch, S.J., of including economic questions within the larger framework of ethics. In these sermons of St. Bernadine (a Franciscan and the great apostle of devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus), we find the general teachings of the Church as regards economic life repeated anew. As de Roover himself admits, the condemnation of usury was a prominent theme in St. Bernadinexs writings. Just as was the case with the other Scholastics, St. Bernadine was "preoccupied with another set of problems [as opposed to questions of xhow the market operates"]: what is just or unjust, licit or illicit? In other words, the stress was on ethics: everything was subordinated to the main theme.x Both St. Bernadine and St. Antonino (Archbishop of Florence from 1445 to 1459), both frown upon acquisitiveness as leading to sin and eternal perdition. St. Antonino deals with the whole topic of market transactions in section of his Summa moralis that deals with the sin of avarice. Moreover, economics was discussed within the framework of contracts, as Roman law understood these. The virtues that regulated the individual and collective economic actions of men were the virtues of distributive and commutative justice (i.e., the State giving to its citizens "their due" and citizens "giving to each other their due"). Let us face it, the only xduex that the Libertarians allow is the absolute claim that each man has to have the government and his fellow citizens respect his, already demarcated, private property right. They forget what the Distributists remembered quite well, all men have a certain right to private property. Those who uphold the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church, better than their Libertarian antagonists, understand the role of private property in personal and familial fulfillment.

When we study de Rooverxs book on these two, putatively, innovative saints, we find ourselves at a loss to find a significant teaching that is not firmly rooted in the wisdom of the Catholic past or one which is not clarified, in a purely traditional way, by the later Scholastics of the School of Salamanca. As de Roover himself recognizes, St. Bernadine, like the Medieval Scholastics before him, understood price determination to be a social process. Price is not set by the arbitrary decision of individuals but collectively by the community as a whole. St. Bernadine makes this explicit when he states, xthe price of goods and services is set for the common good with due consideration to the common valuation or estimation made collectively by the community of citizens [emphasis mine].x According to de Roover, in the writings of St. Bernadine, there was xonly minimal analysis of changes in demand or supply as this affects prices.

With regard to the above question of price, as we found earlier with his analysis of the economic thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, de Rooverxs portrayal of the intellectual xinnovationsx of St. Bernadine is very forced and often involves the use of statements that do not at all prove his point, in fact, they often contradict it. One example is his citation of a single sentence, from the xsermonsx of St. Bernadine, which seems to indicate that the saint held to an idea of the xjust pricex which was convertible with the idea of xmarket valuation.x In support of this view, he cites St. Bernadino as defining the "just pricex as, xthe one which happens to prevail at a given time according to the estimation of the market, that is, what the commodities for sale are then commonly worth in a certain place."

As we have seen, however, with regard to this determination of price based upon "supply and demand" and "market conditions," there was a solid moral tradition, passing into late Scholastic times, in which it was considered perfectly reasonable that prices of certain inessential items were allowed to "float" freely, their value being determined by how much someone, who did not absolutely need the item, was willing to pay. De Roover himself seems to recognize that the language of "just pricex as "prevailing market pricex refers to just this situation and to these kinds of goods. And yet, that de Roover wants to insinuate that St. Bernadino equated the "just price" with the xone that happens to prevail at a given time according to the estimation of the marketx in all cases, is clear. With his usual hesitant definitiveness he says, xThis statement [about just price and prevailing market price], it seems to me, is so clear that it does not admit any other construction.x

If, as he seems to say, St. Bernadino equated just price with market price, all prices should, for justicexs sake, be subject to the free flow of market forces – any interference would be, according to this view, an interference in the market's setting of the "just price." That this is not St. Bernadinexs view is made clear, again by de Roover himself, when he admits that the Franciscan taught "prices may be fixed for the common good." Society, then, is in charge of setting prices. Who does not hear the echo of the entire economic ethos of Christendom in St. Bernadine statement that, prices may be fixed for the common good, "because nothing is more iniquitous than to promote private interests at the expense of general welfare."
Are the late Scholastics, being Catholic theologians, more in accord with the Catholic moral tradition or with the Austrian School?

Thomas Woods, Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Law: An Unresolved Tension
(An unresolved tension only for Catholics who are professed adherents to the Austrian School.)

From the Eunomia archives: Richert-Akin Debate on Pricing and Just Price
Ignatius Press: An Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching.
What is Catholic Social Teaching? | Mark Brumley |
Neo-Conservatism: New Insights into Catholic Social Teaching, or ...
Brief Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching
Practical Distributivism: The Just Wage vs. The Just Income
The ChesterBelloc Mandate: Opposing the Austrian Heresy


Georgetown University Press: Modern Catholic Social Documents and Political Economy, Albino F. Barrera, O.P.

CE: St. Bernardine of Siena
Bernardinus of Siena.; Sancti Bernardini Senensis ordinis ...
Sancti Bernardini Senensis ordinis seraphici minorum Opera omnia ...
John Schwenkler: "I suppose that California is the most logically conservative place in the world"
Via Pete Takeshi, a review of Julianne Hough's new album. I think it's spot on.

"That Song in My Head" is by far the best song here, but it's not nearly the memorable opening salvo that Yearwood's "She's In Love with the Boy" or Hill's "Wild One" were. "You You You," with its awkward word repetitions ("It's insane sane sane/But I'd stand in front of a train train train/Just to hold your hand in the pourin' rain rain rain" is supposed to pass for a hook) is damn near unlistenable, but it's preferable to the clichéd purity-ring pap of "Jimmy Ray McGee" and the self-help drivel of "Help Me Help You" and "Love Yourself." Hough really does try to sell every word of this hokum, but it's all just so slight and so juvenile—even by the standards of a genre that's currently agog over the supposed songwriting talents of another teenage girl—that it's hard to stomach or take seriously. With maturity, Hough may develop better taste in material that would allow her to record an album that's actually as likable as she is.

And the reviewer is someone else who think Taylor Swift's songwriting talent is overrated--at least I'm not alone. That she receives praise for her 'originality,' shows how far the country music industry has gone down, I think.

Red Cliff Posters

From Monkey Peaches (click on link for more posters).

Tony Leung

Takeshi Kaneshiro

Chang Chen

Zhao Wei

Lin Chiling

John Woo needs a winner, and something needs to stem the tide of recent failures of Chinese historical epics.
Via Tea at Trianon: The Art of Manliness

It looks promising, based on these two posts: The Virtuous Life: Chastity and The Virtuous Life: Humility.
Global Public Media--The Reality Report: Raj Patel
The Reality Report interviews Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System.

The interview reviews the historical development of the global food system, from 15th century England to the WTO and today's multi-national corporations. The discussion includes countervailing social responses to today's food crisis, such as the landless movement in Brazil to the CSAs of North America.


A previous post on Mr. Patel.

Metro before their time?

The archetypal metrosexual, David Beckham?
Meet the metrosexual -
TIME Magazine: TIME 100: David Beckham
David Beckham Is A Proud Metrosexual | Hollyscoop
David Beckham Photos - David Beckham Gallery
Beckham Magazine - Galleries

The metrosexual trend seems to be dying down, though it is questionable that it was popular to begin with, despite the media attention (and hype/advocacy) surrounding it. Then again, I do not have a "night life," so I can't say for sure that the lifestyle is not prominent among club-goers and fine-diners. If there is a specific kind of clothing or label associated with metrosexuals, I haven't really seen it among college and post-college males, though undoubtedly there has been some influence of the trend upon them, even if their clothing remains casual--shirt with jeans and boots or outdoor shoes. But more on that in a bit.

Shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy catered to the new-found desire in men to look good and to be perceived as attractive in certain ways. QEFTSG was popular when it first came out--NBC, which owns Bravo, even aired some of its episodes, but I am guessing that there is not much water cooler talk about the show these days.

Now I know two Asian men (one in his late 20s, the other in his early 30s) who were both metrosexual before the trend was noticed. Some obvious behaviors: the use of skin products, certain hair products, especially before going to bed. In addition to "fussing" with their appearance, they were concerned with having an abundant supply of shoes and accessories. One was rather well-off; the other not as much, though he was indulged. In his case, the metrosexual lifestyle should be distinguished from his following the Asian girly look common to many Asian males still (long hair and skinny), since that didn't last too long. Were there similarities in their home situation? It would seem that one parent was more influential than the other--the mother. And in the case of one, maybe the love of shoes could be traced to her. (Though perhaps that would be resorting to two stereotypes, not one. I can't remember if he said he was consciously imitating his mother or not.) Well, enough amateur analysis for today.

Does being a metrosexual have necessary connection with being soft, if by soft we mean someone who is not willing to undertake something laborious or endure difficulties? It seems not, although the two examples I am thinking of could be considered soft. Many metrosexuals are also concerned with their physique and go to a fitness club, etc.; but this is true of many non-metrosexual men as well. As Wendell Berry points out, Americans feel the need to appear physically fit, without earning it through useful physical work. Rather than being fit for the sake of health and fulfilling their vocation, many strive to be so only for the sake of appearance and being attractive to the opposite sex. In such cases, the body being in fine shape has no relationship to the desire to engage in arduous work. One can be in good shape and yet slothful at the same time.

What, then, distinguishes being a "metrosexual" from having a proper concern for appearance and attire? The excessive use of skin products? (As opposed to those who need to alleviate dry skin.) Hair products? Dying's one hair? Merely making an effort to looking good for one's self and for others? Adhering to good grooming standards (as opposed to affecting an unshaven look)? The amount of money spent on care? Going to a hairdresser or hair stylist as opposed to going to a barber? (Among the young males, sporting an earring has gone from being unacceptable to commonplace; the piercing of other areas carries more of a stigma.)

What one wears and does in accordance with good grooming standards seems to be defined in part by convention. So for formal occasions (and for some businesses), one should wear a suit and tie, etc. Can one readily see that the motivation for ignoring these standards, to stand out and be noticed, is wrong? While many are aware of dress codes, there is also a strong social emphasis on non-conformity.

If what I consider being pampered may be adequate and proper care for another man, does this mean that being a metrosexual is "relative"? Or is it relative in the sense that the form of the [male] virtue of temperance with this object, or modesty, has a mean relative to us? Hence, as Aristotle might say, there is no absolute, fixed standard regarding the use of lotion, for example, but the standard is to be found only by comparing with what the phronimos, to the wise and temperate man, would do. And there are other considerations that the phronimos would take into account as well, such as the amount of money being spent. Is money for the care of appearance and body being spent well and wisely?

Mr. Eliot of Jane Austen's Persuasion is supposed to be an example of a vain man. Would he be considered a "metrosexual" by the standards of his day? ("Dandy" doesn't seem appropriate. "Fop"?)

St. Thomas Aquinas does discuss the morality of outward attire in question 169 (of the secunda secundae), whether there is virtue and vice in connection with outward apparel. He holds that there can be a lack of moderation in the use of outward things. This immoderate use happens in two ways:

First, in comparison with the customs of those among whom one lives; wherefore Augustine says (Confess. iii, 8): "Those offenses which are contrary to the customs of men, are to be avoided according to the customs generally prevailing, so that a thing agreed upon and confirmed by custom or law of any city or nation may not be violated at the lawless pleasure of any, whether citizen or foreigner. For any part, which harmonizeth not with its whole, is offensive." Secondly, the lack of moderation in the use of these things may arise from the inordinate attachment of the user, the result being that a man sometimes takes too much pleasure in using them, either in accordance with the custom of those among whom he dwells or contrary to such custom.
It is still possible for someone who follows the customs of his community regarding attire to nonetheless be inordinately attached to their use, resulting in a vice. There are three different ways in which the inordinate attachment to outward things can be excessive:

In point of excess, this inordinate attachment occurs in three ways. First when a man seeks glory from excessive attention to dress; in so far as dress and such like things are a kind of ornament. Hence Gregory says (Hom. xl in Ev.): "There are some who think that attention to finery and costly dress is no sin. Surely, if this were no fault, the word of God would not say so expressly that the rich man who was tortured in hell had been clothed in purple and fine linen. No one, forsooth, seeks costly apparel" (such, namely, as exceeds his estate) "save for vainglory." Secondly, when a man seeks sensuous pleasure from excessive attention to dress, in so far as dress is directed to the body's comfort. Thirdly, when a man is too solicitous [Cf.55, 6] in his attention to outward apparel.

Aquinas the mentions the three virtues opposed to these desires regarding outward attire, humility, contentment, and simplicity. Though Aquinas does not mention them, the use of skin and hair care products, cologne, and so on, can be excessive or inordinate as well.

Still, what if the customs of a society (and the judgments they embody) are in themselves disordered? Can a certain article be said to be too pampering, not only with respect to its material but the form as well? Are some forms and designs of clothing better than others? The problem does not appear to be with the material itself--it is not sinful to use this material as opposed to that (within reason--if the material harms the body, then it would be sinful to use it). As for the form, form serves function, so we must judge both the intended purpose of the clothing, and the form as a means of achieving the purpose.

Can we therefore concede that there is a need for some measure of practicality for the clothing we wear, without going to an extreme? That is to say, clothing must be able to be sturdy and durable, and not just fulfill the purpose of decorating the human body, so as to complement the various tasks man must perform? How can a business suit withstand the physical stress associated with being in law enforcement? On the other hand, should not someone serving the community through a special office avoid the casual (or even 'sloppy') look of contemporary athletic or practical clothing, lest the dignity of that office be harmed?

Is there some higher law to which one can appeal? Or is one always obligated to follow the norms set by society, even if they are counter to what the phronimos deems reasonable? While sumptuary laws may be imposed from above legitimately (or so it seems), can reform ever be brought about from below by individuals acting on their own initiative? Or does this have to occur spontaneously by more than a few men, as it happens with sects seeking to embrace "simplicity" in response to the decadence of their times? Are the members of these sects acting wrongly by opposing the conventions of their society regarding clothing?

Even if the metrosexual trend has been diminished, Peter Pan syndrome still remains, along with the emasculation of men and rampant misandry.

Meet the metrosexual -
Metrosexuals Come Out - New York Times
Die Metrosexual Die! by Matt Haber -
How To Know if You're a Metrosexual | How To Do - Metrosexual The Metrosexual Guide to Style: A Handbook for the ...
The metrosexual guide to style: A Handbook for the Modern Man - Google Books Result
Michael Flocker
The Metro-Sexual Guide to Men’s Fashion
Metrosexual Matrimony - TIME
ABC News: Metrosexual Is out, Macho Is In
Going Metrosexual For A Day - Right Wing News (Conservative News ...

Post begun on May 27.

Pale Cocoon

Pale Cocoon
crunchyroll - Anime - Pale Cocoon
Pale Cocoon | Watch Anime Online


Pale Cocoon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pale Cocoon (OAV) - Anime News Network

Animation (Yasuhiro Yoshiura) / Pale Cocoon

Kid Fenris: Pale Cocoon Review
Pale Cocoon, a stunning visual treat « Crystal Tokyo Anime Blog
The End of the World » Pale Cocoon: A glimpse into a forgotten past
Pale Cocoon Review - Anime-Planet
Star Crossed Anime Blog :: Pale Cocoon Review - 69/100 ...

I took a look on Friday night--the ending might be a bit difficult to follow, since the resolution is intercut with scenes from a restored video that the main character had been working on. Does it work as an animated short film? I think so, precisely because there isn't really much depth to the story. But this is also an argument against watching it in the first place. It is well-done and "pretty" in its own way, though.
The Deliberate Agrarian: The Elements of Agricultural Sustainability

Carrie Underwood on American Idol: Idol Gives Back

Idol Gives Back - American Idol



Idol Gives Back | Just Jared
Idol Gives Back 2008 Photo Gallery
American Idol Gives Back Pictures, Carrie Underwood Photos, Teri ... (2007)
'American Idol' Gives Back. Pretty Much. | A Socialite's Life

Carrie on the 2008 Idol Gives Back Carpet

Carrie Underwood - Interview (American Idol Extra 2008)

Carrie Underwood - Praying For Time - Idol Gives Back 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Confederate Flag

In the news again...

Confederate flag gets HS students barred from graduation
No Graduation for Confederate Flag-Wavers


Southern Heritage Group Flies Flag in Face of Furor
Confederate flag display ignores the complexities of our heritage
Why Fly the Confederate Flag?
Huge Confederate flag is raised early along I-75 and I-4
Confederate group plans giant flag in Hillsborough County - St ...

Sons of Confederate Veterans
Sons of Confederate Veterans, Florida Division, Inc.

Wouldn't it be better (i.e. less controversial and yet just as meaningful for those who know what it represents) just to use the Bonnie Blue Flag?

Or is it, or any other flag of the CSA, irredeemably tainted by the CSA and slavery? If there is to be a new South upholding all that was good and repudiating that must be repudiated, one which is composed of blacks and whites and everyone else, maybe a new flag can be created to represent it.

But first enough people need to become interested in relocalization and preserving Southern identity...

Wiki: Flags of the CSA
Welcome to South Carolina SCV Division

Dr. J. Michael Hill, The Demonization of the South
Suzanne Hadley, Flee Sexual Immorality (Sex and the City, That Includes You)

Zetumer To Adapt Dune Anew

Josh Zetumer is in negotiations to write the latest movie incarnation of Dune, Frank Herbert's sprawling SF epic, for Paramount Pictures, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The award-winning 1965 novel--the first in a series of six books about a futuristic struggle for control of a precious spice called Melange on the desert planet Arrakis--was first adapted by David Lynch into a financially and critically disastrous 1984 film (though Herbert apparently liked it). It also was turned into a more successful SCI FI Channel miniseries in 2000.

Kevin Misher is producing the new version through his Paramount-based Misher Films. Herbert's son, Brian, and Kevin J. Anderson, who have co-written several additional Dune novels, will co-produce. Peter Berg is attached to direct.

Josh Zetumer in talks for 'Dune'
The Official Dune Website
The Landsraad
The SF Site: An Interview with Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Interview | Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson Author Interview Videos at ...
Video Sandworms of Dune Interview with Herbert and Anderson ...
Hunters of Dune Interview with Herbert and Anderson - AOL Video
Science Fiction Weekly Interview
An Interview with Brian Herbert
An Interview with Brian Herbert
Sci-Fi Storm | Dune News: Brian Herbert Interview
An Interview With Kevin J. Anderson

Lind takes a look at Mexico

On War #261: Not Checking Six

From Chet Richards: Revenge of the Road Warrior--he recommends FROM THE NEW MIDDLE AGES TO A NEW DARK AGE: THE DECLINE OF THE STATE AND U.S. STRATEGY, by Phil William.

Peter Morici, Recession Grips the Jobs Market

Weak Wage Growth and Unemployment
Recession Grips the Jobs Market


From Michael Shedlock: Spin On Jobs, May Jobs: Unemployment Skyrockets to 5.5%

Stephen Lendman, Choice in November - Nader v. Twiddle Dee or Twiddle Dum

Via Carolyn Baker: Choice in November - Nader v. Twiddle Dee or Twiddle Dum, by Stephen Lendman


Alain de Benoist

A website dedicated to him and his writings, Les Amis d'Alain de Benoist.
(Nouvelle Droite)

I haven't read anything written by him, but he has been referenced by several writers on "the Right." Is it accurate to say he is opposed to the liberal (dis-)order and some sort of communitarian? I know he's received some criticism from those on 'the Right' for changing his mind about certain things. (Or was it being too accomodating to certain demographic trends?)

Video Alain de Benoist,Propos volés - Alain, de, Benoist ...
Alain de Benoist sur Radio Bandiera Nera 1/5

The De Benoist Archive
Nouvelle Droite - New Right - English articles--
Manifesto of the French New Right in Year 2000
The Philosophical Foundations of the French New Right

Jihad vs. McWorld. An interview with Alain de Benoist | Alberto ...
The Faye-Benoist debate on Multiculturalism
Three Interviews with Alain de Benoist
Alain de Benoist - Stirpes
Alain de Benoist move the left? - OD Board
Alain de Benoist's 'Multiculturalism': A Problem In Defining A New ...
Sandro Magister, The Credo of Paul VI. Who Wrote It, and Why

h/t to Fr. Z

AOL: Twain Talks About Her 'Broken Heart'

(Hollywood Tuna)

Twain Talks About Her 'Broken Heart' - Report: Another Woman Caused Shania Twain Split ...

Well, maybe that isn't all there is to it, but this cause would probably seem incredible to any ordinary American guy.

YouTube: Shania Twain - Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under

Shania Twain, The Official Web Site - Greatest Hits in Stores Now
Shania Twain Co Uk - The UK Shania Site
Shania Twain Centre
Shania Twain City! Home to All Shania Fans
Shania Twain Fan Club | Shop the Shania Twain Official Store : Shania Twain : Photo Galleries
Shania Twain pictures, picture gallery, pics, picture, photos, pic ...
Shania Twain Photos | Videos | News | Absolute
Shania Twain pictures - djmick
TV chef Gordon Ramsay opens new restaurant in West Hollywood Thu Jun 5, 3:11 PM PDT

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - Gordon Ramsay is in a California state of mind.

Some good news--the winner of Hell's Kitchen will become senior sous-chef, not executive chef as I had thought.

Ramsay will soon welcome another person in the kitchen of the new restaurant: the winner of the fourth season of "Hell's Kitchen." The champion will be offered a job as senior sous-chef at Gordon Ramsay at The London West Hollywood with a $250,000 salary. The season finale is scheduled to air July 8.

Gordon Ramsay at the London, West Hollywood

Zenit interview with Petroc Willey

God's Pedagogy

Catechist Discusses Best Method for Faith Education

By Annamarie Adkins

BIRMINGHAM, England, JUNE 6, 2008 ( The Church has expectations not only concerning the content of what we teach, but also how we teach it, says the author of book on the work of catechesis.

So says Petroc Willey, who co-authored “The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Craft of Catechesis” (Ignatius) with Pierre de Cointet and Barbara Morgan. He is also the deputy director of the Maryvale Institute, editor of the catechetical journal “The Sower,” and host of the EWTN series, “Handing on the Faith.”

Willey talks to ZENIT in this interview on why the Church has certain teaching requirements, and how catechesis should reflect the pedagogy of God.

Q: Why do you call catechesis a "craft"?

Willey: We use the term “craft” to describe the work of catechesis in order to evoke the notion of working with loving intelligence, uniting intellect, will and practical skills in a patient work of drawing out the very best and the most beautiful.

The ultimate craftsman in the work of catechesis is, of course, the Holy Spirit, “the interior Master of life according to Christ,” as it says in paragraph 1697 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church; paragraph 721 states that Mary is his “Masterwork.”

In her -- and as her children -- we learn our craft and we, too, can be crafted in the Lord, as it says in the second chapter of Ephesians, verses nine through 10, and paragraph 1091 of the Catechism.

Appreciating catechesis as a craft, therefore, enables us to bear in mind that it is a holistic understanding and application that we are seeking, one that involves the heart, the mind and the hand.

We are also reminded that we develop the skills of this craft always as members of the Church, receiving and participating in the work of grace in our lives. Mary is our model and our mother in this, a “living catechism,” as Pope John Paul II called her.

Q: Your book contends the Catechism reflects the "pedagogy of God." What do you mean, and how does the Catechism accomplish such a feat?

Willey: That the faith has its own specific pedagogy may perhaps be a new idea for us. Paragraph 31 in the “General Directory for Catechesis,” however, calls upon catechists to consider “the demands” and “the originality” of “that pedagogy which is proper to the faith.”

The Church, then, has certain “demands,” or requirements, with regard to pedagogy. She has expectations not only concerning the content of what we teach, but also how we teach it.

This is the case because the faith generates its own pedagogy. Our catechesis is to be inspired by this pedagogy, the pedagogy of God.

We often think of the word “pedagogy” as more or less synonymous with “teaching.” When the Church speaks of the pedagogy of God she means something broader than this. She means the whole of the work of God leading people to share in his life, in and through Christ.

The transmission of dogmas are described in paragraph 1697 of the Catechism as ‘lights along the path of faith,’ as the Holy Spirit, the “interior Master of life,” disciples us in the Church.

How does the Catechism reflect this pedagogy of God? Our book identifies twelve pedagogical principles drawn concretely from the text and structure of the Catechism, principles which have clear and significant implications for our catechesis.

So, for instance, the Catechism invites catechists to bear always in mind the four dimensions of the Christian life, corresponding to the four "pillars" of the Catechism, so as to foster a "holistic" catechesis in which the reality of liturgical and sacramental grace, the converting power of doctrine, the splendor of our life in Christ and our prayerful relationship to the blessed Trinity are all present.

Q: Almost everyone acknowledges that a crisis in catechesis has been one of the main problems in the Church since the Second Vatican Council. Yet apart from select bishops and the Pope, the Catechism is seldom mentioned as an answer to this crisis. Why not?

Willey: The Catechism is, beyond, doubt, an extraordinary gift to assist in the renewal of catechesis.

One reason for its continuing neglect is that people simply have not taken up the keys provided for understanding this gift; they do not realize how it has been written precisely with a view to assisting catechists in handing on the faith.

The Catechism is treated as a reference text, certainly, but not as the aid offered to us in our time for learning and teaching the faith.

Q: There are endless catechetical resources for young people, yet few are based in any way on the Catechism itself. What factors shaped this phenomenon?

Willey: A major factor lies in the use of alternative pedagogies that are neither derived from, nor compatible with, the faith.

Paragraph 149 in the “General Directory for Catechesis” speaks of a “good catechetical method” as a “guarantee of fidelity to content”; a poor method, on the other hand, cannot deliver content faithfully.

These alternative pedagogies, for example, might be based on secular or even Marxist educational theories, or carry with them philosophical presumptions that are incompatible with a realist Catholic philosophy.

Sister Johanna Paruch, from Franciscan University in Steubenville, has recently completed significant doctoral work at Maryvale Institute in England, where I work, on these pedagogies.

Alongside these distorting influences we can see a widespread minimalism in some resources, where very little of the faith is presented, and also what Hans Urs von Balthasar called an “Islamization” of the notion of God, when he is seen in his unity, but no longer clearly as Triune.

There have been significant moves, in the United States in particular, to address this difficulty, especially through the voluntary submission of catechetical resources for an evaluation by the bishops concerning the conformity of these texts with the Catechism.

We are also seeing resources in the United Kingdom such as “Echoes,” published by the Catholic Truth Society, which are formation programs for catechists rooted in both the content and the pedagogy of the Catechism.

Q: In the book you discuss the false dichotomy between the personal and propositional dimensions of revelation. In that same context, you state that the goal of doctrine is love. How can bishops, priests and catechists recapture and present Christ's promise that he is the truth, and the truth is life?

Willey: The Catechism makes it a priority from the outset to exclude any thought of a separation between a propositional and a personal understanding of revelation. Rather than think of propositions as detaching us from God, we need to be aware of their absolute necessity in attaching us to him.

Maryvale Institute is the first Catholic home of the Venerable John Henry Newman, and Newman can help us here because he discovered what he called the “converting” impact of doctrine.

We cannot love God if we know nothing about him. We cannot worship Christ without knowing of his divinity. And on the other hand, we shall never know God fully unless we love him, and we shall never have a clear understanding of Christ’s divinity unless we worship and adore him.

Q: Is it too much to say that the personal encounter with the Lord available to one who studies the Catechism spawns a "catechetical spirituality”?

Willey: This question rightly presumes that a personal encounter with the Lord is available to one who learns and teaches from the Catechism.

The “Compendium of the Catechism” speaks of “the wisdom of its presentation and the depth of its spirituality,” and our book has grown out of an “amicitia catechistica” between Notre Dame de Vie in France, Maryvale Institute and Franciscan University in Steubenville -- three institutions that have firsthand evidence of this spirituality through their courses in theology and catechesis.

Studying, and praying with, the Catechism leads to an increased trust, joy and confidence in being able to speak about the Faith to others, adults and children alike. One is immersed in a text that is precise, gracious, elegant and deeply spiritual.

--- --- ---

On the Net:

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Craft of Catechesis”:

Dr. Petroc Willey - Franciscan University Adult Conferences 2008
Petroc Willey - Pipl Profile
Fr Tommy Lane's Work Promoting the Sacred Scriptures in Cloyne Diocese

Zenit: Fr. Cantalamessa's Gospel Commentary for 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

God Desires Mercy, Not Sacrifice

Gospel Commentary for 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap

ROME, JUNE 6, 2008 ( There is something moving about today’s Gospel. Matthew isn’t telling us what Jesus said or did someday for some person, but what Jesus said and did for him personally.

It is an autobiographical passage, the story of the meeting with Christ that changed his life. “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him” (Matthew 9:9).

But this episode is not reported in the other Gospels because of its personal importance for Matthew. The interest in this passage has to do with what happens after the moment of the call. Matthew wants to offer “a banquet at his house” to bid farewell to his coworkers, “publicans and sinners.” The Pharisees’ negative reaction was to be expected. Jesus answers them: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9:12-13).

What does this line that Christ takes up from the prophet Hosea mean? Does it mean that all sacrifice and mortification are useless and that we only need to love to set everything right? From this passage some might conclude that we should reject the whole ascetic attitude of Christianity as a residue of a rigorist or Manichean mentality that today we have left behind.

First of all it is important to note the profound change in perspective in the passage from Hosea to Christ. In Hosea, the words refer to man, to what God wants from man. God wants love and awareness from man, not external sacrifices and animal holocausts.

As spoken by Jesus, these words refer instead to God. The love that is spoken of is not that which God expects from man, but the love God has for man. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” means: I want to be merciful, not to condemn. Its biblical equivalent is found in Ezekiel: “I do not want the death of the sinner, but that he convert and live.” God does not want to “sacrifice” his creature but to save him.

With this qualification, we better understand the passage in Hosea better too. God does not want sacrifice “at all costs,” as if he took pleasure in seeing us suffer; nor does he want sacrifices that are aimed at placing our rights and merits before him, or that result from a misunderstanding of duty. He wants rather the sacrifice that is required by his love and by the observance of the commandments.

In the “Imitation of Christ” it says “one does not live in love without suffering,” and this is confirmed by daily experience. There is no love without sacrifice. In this sense, Paul invites us to make our whole life “a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1).

Sacrifice and mercy are both good things but they can become bad if misapplied. They are good things if -- as Christ did -- we choose sacrifice for ourselves and mercy for others; they can become bad things if on the contrary we choose mercy for ourselves and sacrifice for others, that is, if we are indulgent with ourselves and rigorous with others, ready to excuse ourselves and quick to judge others. Do we really have nothing to think about, in this regard, in our conduct?

We cannot conclude this comment on the call of Matthew without an affectionate and grateful thought about this evangelist who will accompany us during this liturgical year. Thank you, Matthew also called Levi. How much poorer our knowledge of Christ would be without you!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

* * *

Father Raniero Cantalamessa is the Pontifical Household preacher. The readings for this Sunday are Hosea 6:3-6; Romans 4:18-25; Matthew 9:9-13.
Dr. Médaille responds...

Chapter VI will be devoted specifically to Justice, Distributive and Corrective, although every chapter will, in its way, be about this topic. The major sources are, of course, The Nichomachean Ethics and St. Thomas's commentary on the same, as well as the Summa. But it is a case of Philosophy is easy, plumbing is hard. Distributive justice is easy to see and understand philosophically, but its implementation in the real world, its "plumbing" is very hard indeed.

Looking forward to Chapter 6!
AP: Schwarzenegger declares drought in California

Barr and Buchanan on Colbert -- the vids

As promised here:

Bob Barr:

Pat Buchanan:
Fr. Finigan blogs on the multicultural youth Mass at Lourdes.

I like the French school uniforms as well. A decent uniform can elevate rather than dull one's aesthetic sensibility. Haha.

Amanda Shaw

First mentioned her in this post.

official website

Rounder Records - Amanda Shaw - Pretty Runs Out - Album Detail
White Oak Productions -> Amanda Shaw : Amanda Shaw : Artist Main

Teen Fiddle Phenom Amanda Shaw Shows NY How It's Done

Voices to hear: Amanda Shaw
MFF: OL - Bonus Audio Interview - Amanda Shaw on GirlTalk - Hurricane on the Bayou

YouTube: AMANDA SHAW @ Louisiana Music Factory 2007

MFF: On Location #6 -The Music of Amanda Shaw

Amanda Shaw - Lovers' Waltz

Amanda Shaw & the Cute Guys

Amanda Shaw - Perridon Two Step

Amanda Shaw: French Quarter Fest 2007, New Orleans

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Dr. Fleming, from the comments on Nationalism, Patriotism, and Internationalism I:
American conservatives have always been, most of them, liberals, if only classical liberals, and liberals see themselves as in the vanguard of human advancement and liberation. Accepting all the twaddle about liberty, equality, and fraternity–as the late Mr. Buckley did for the most part–they could never withstand the assault of the left except when it represented a challenge to property and profits.

What I am suggesting, therefore, is for Americans on the right to jettison all the liberal baggage that has weighed them down, and to subject this ideology to scrutiny and return to a pre-liberal way of looking at society and politics. Although I have utterly failed to make this case, that is what I have been doing for 30 years.

He is finishing a third book "in which the significance of kinship and friendship is elevated about abstract rationality." Wonderful!
Scott Richert, Church and Nation: A Credal Nation, Part 2

I suspect that my failure to anticipate this has something to do with my own experience. Having just turned 40, I still live within a leisurely six-hour drive of every place where all of my direct ancestors, on both sides of my family, have lived for any length of time since coming to this country. If you were to draw a triangle on a map, with the first corner at Rockford, Illinois; the second at Bay City, Michigan; and the third at New Albany, Indiana (or, for convenience’ sake, Louisville, Kentucky), you would encompass the entire area in which lived (starting in 1832) the Richerts and Foremans and Janasiks and Gwizdalas whose various interactions brought about my birth.

To me, this area is home, and I don’t feel out of place among any of the people who live in it. (Except perhaps the Swedes here in Rockford, but as always they are the exception that proves the rule.) On another comment thread, NGPM wrote, “When you are at home, you know you are.” Just so.

From that experience, it still puzzles me that people who do not doubt the existence of a German nation or a Polish nation or an Italian nation find the very possibility of an American nation to be so strange. I’m not suggesting that, in whatever form it may exist, the American nation is on par with those other nations, but simply suggesting that the automatic dismissal of any possibility that there could be an American nation strikes me as both conterintuitive and unhistorical.

Try telling a Northern Italian that he has more in common with a Sicilian than the Dutch, (pre-1848) Germans, Yankees, non-Yankee English, French, and a smattering of Poles who make up the population of Western Michigan have with one another. The latter, while still recognizably distinct as groups in many important ways, also have ties of tradition, history, and genes from 200 years or so of living closely together. Those ties are not “credal” but organic. Perhaps we can’t “define” them, but again, would anyone say that the failure to offer a succinct definition of what it means to be Polish or German proves that there is no Polish or German nation?

While she was working on her Excel Math, CEB told me that her sister told her that she was dumb. Siblings can be so mean to each other.

Ms. N actually asked the class to pray for her today, at 9:30, the time of her surgery. The students told me this, and I told them that they could pray on their own. I didn't want to lead them in prayer, since I wasn't sure all of them were Christian. But I did tell them to either take it seriously, or not do it at all, since some of them were joking around. CEB seemed to be praying earnestly. You can see why she would be one of my favorites.

JM wanted to sit up front to do her math; the boy next to her Jose, made the comment that she was going to stink like the girl who normally occupies the desk, and that she was going to get fat too. I didn't find out until later, after she had lunch. She was about to cry, but wouldn't tell me at first. When the class was lining up, she stayed behind, and wasn't walking with the rest of them.

MGM was absent today--the other students told me that she was not coming to school since she didn't want to be made fun of by someone else at the school. Last week she was passing out invitations to her birthday party--I wonder how many of the students in the class actually went. Her best friend in the class didn't go, which surprised me. I hope she'll come back next week at least.

Another day at school. I had a chance to talk to the blonde third-grade teacher briefly while we were walking to the office. She's looking forward to the end of the school year, and wishes it was the end already. Some of her students saw me walking by and they said she would be absent next week; but they couldn't get their story straight, so I don't know if she's going to be gone for just a day, or for most of the week, but she is supposed to be there for the last day of school. I suppose I'll find out next week, since I'll be at the school until the end.

I saw Anita on Tuesday--she was being somewhat shy. Maria was being a bit mean and telling her to go away, because Anita said she didn't want to be friends with them. Most of the kids do come from poor households; you can tell by their clothes. Even though they are wearing uniforms, many will continue wearing pants with holes in the knees for a while. (I suppose another explanation is that the parents don't care.)

The skill of patching clothes has been lost. Or people just don't have time to do it.

The girls in Mrs. A's class told me at lunch today that their classmate Maria moved back to Mexico. She was just here last week; it must have been rather sudden or unexpected, because even her cousin seemed surprised.
Chapter 1 of Dr. 's book, The Political Economy of Distributism, is now up: Chapter I: What's in a Name?

This is how he explains the failure of the distributivists:

The Failure of the Distributists

Although this book must be a critique of modern economics, it must start with a critique of modern distributists. I say “modern” distributists because distributism itself is nothing more than the rediscovery of an older view of economics. Until the 16th century, there was no real dispute that economics was a colony of ethics, rooted in the political order and dependent on distributive justice. No philosopher or theologian worthy of the name, beginning with Aristotle, was without his economic commentary. He felt it merely part of his natural function to comment on the real affairs of real men, and the economic and political orders were simply part of that commentary. So very nearly the full weight of human opinion, taken as a whole, comes down on the side of the distributists. While distributism adds to modern economics precisely what it lacks to become to a real science—the science of Political Economy—distributists themselves have often been reluctant to put their case in economic terms. They have often argued from moral terms; they have placed their arguments in the necessary connection between free property and free men; they have argued on agrarian terms, on the natural rhythms of life and social order often disrupted by modern capitalism; they have argued from Catholic teaching and the social encyclicals. But on the whole, they have been unwilling or (I’m afraid) unable to enter the economic debate on purely economic terms.


Despite these successes in both theory and practice, however, it is too often the case that in any discussion of economics, the distributist is likely to be the least well-versed in the science; he is, too often, the one least able to place his argument in economic terms, and too ready to retreat to moral arguments. This has unfortunate consequences for distributism as a movement. First, we often fail to convince others of the economic soundness of our case. Second, those distributists who have an interest in economics find insufficient sustenance in distributism, and often drift off to Austrianism or Keynesianism or socialism, things which are nearly the opposite of distributism. Finally, we cannot recognize the similarities between our own positions and allied positions like Mutualism and Georgism. And failing to recognize these similarities, we fail to recognize our natural allies. We even fail to recognize, too often, that which is valid and useful in neoclassical and Keynesian theories. All of this gives distributism a parochial cast. We end up marginalizing our own theory, simply because we often have a marginal understanding of the theory.

But if the distributist will only enter the economic lists, he will find weapons to hand and armor enough to stand against any opponent. Our theory is competitive at the intellectual level and thoroughly demonstrated at the practical level; we fill the gaps in the science of political economy that neoclassical economics, and all its variants, cannot. We do not need to stand on the margins, but in the mainstream.

What are characteristics of modern economics?
1. Quantification of human desire and behavior, and economic "laws" expressed through mathematics
2. A lot of hypothetical reasoning -- if/then implications which could possibly be turned into syllogistic form.
3. Descriptive and predictive, rather than being normative, though the predictions yielded by economics can be used in determining public policy/legislation.

So what does it mean to formulate distributism in economic terms? Through quantification? To yield what result/formula? Let's see how the rest of the book carries out this goal.

In the comments section, Dr. also writes:

Property itself, btw, is merely a means to an end; the end is distributive justice, namely that each man (and woman) gets the just fruits of their labor. Property properly understood leads to this result; property abstracted to an absolute becomes the opposite, a substitute for work. But property is not the only way of getting a just result.

This is interesting--I had not come across distributive justice being applied to the fruits of labor as well as to common goods.