Saturday, September 06, 2008

"Mary has chosen the better part"

Traditionally taken to indicate the superiority of the contemplative over the active life, or the contemplative part of the Christian life over the active part.

Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange reminds us that all are called to become saints, and that while certain extraordinary graces are reserved to certain of God's saints, progress in the union with God, through growth in charity and sanctifying grace and the gift of infused prayer or contemplation, is possible for all of the baptized. (This teaching is repeated by Fr. Aumann: Perfection of the Christian Life and Christian Perfection and Mystical Experience.)

Aspiring philosophers and theologians who are prone to pride should remember this. The contemplative life and infused prayer are superior to the acquisition and use of any human science or wisdom because of their object, God Himself. Because of the nobility of the object, these acts of the Christian contemplative life are [objectively] superior to the acts proper to a purely human knowledge or wisdom. The latter are limited to a few, because of the lack of native ability or formation or opportunity, but anyone who cooperates with the grace of God can have access to something infinitely greater for the soul.

We can also see why the enemies of God would seek to make growth in the contemplative life more difficult, by destroying leisure and putting up obstacles to recollection. Social injustice has an impact on the promotion of the life of prayer.

Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange does have something to say about liturgical prayer as well:

A. Deformed Psalmody
B. Contemplative Chant

Dishonor and suicide as a solution

While I was at Kinokuniya I saw that the bookstore carried the Dark Horse translations of 3 of the works by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima. I was intrigued by Samurai Executioner (wiki), which I have not yet read.

Suicide is often perceived to be a [cowardly?] escape from the evils that are besetting one. Death is preferable to a life in which one continues to suffer from some evil. Given the basic or foundational value of life, it can be difficult for us to comprehend how someone could take his life; often we must rationalize this 'choice' by looking for something that diminishes culpability, being dominated by one's emotions and so on.

I was struck by the thought that perhaps committing suicide in order to make up for dishonor might be different from this. But then, isn't suicide not just a means of reclaiming honor or making up for one's failure, but also a way to escape a life of dishonor?

But if a samurai could regain one's honor and continue living, would he not chose that means instead? Only the taking one's life can make up for the dishonor that one has suffered. Why is dishonor reckoned to be so grave an evil? And how can killing one's self cleanse him of the stain of dishonor?

Failure is not necessarily the same as doing evil or sin. If one fails to observe one's duties because one has been negligent or culpable in some other way, then one may be liable to punishment. In this case the proscription of ritual suicide is a form of punishment, even if it appeals to honor so that the one who is to die carries out the act himself. But if one fails to attain some goal because of circumstances, or because one's opponent is better or stronger--then what should one be ashamed? Is that not a mask for pride? Why should there be dishonor or a decrease of dignity of worth if one has "done one's best"?

Often 'Western' revulsion at this type of suicide is dismissed by relativists as a failure to understand Japanese concepts of shame and honor. But can a 'sufficient' rationale really be given for it? The more I think about it, the more confused it seems. (Maybe it's because it's late.) What are other sources of shame for the samurai, which can be purged only through suicide?

The moral problem with suicide remains with respect to this practice--one does not have complete or absolute ownership of one's own life, so that one can simply put an end to it. (And in the case of suicide as punishment, it could be argued that one should not cooperate in putting an end to one's life, since that goes against the love of self.)

wiki: seppuku
Seppuku - artelino
Suicide and culture in Japan
Contemplating Suicide: The Language and Ethics of Self-harm
Japanese ethics: Beyond good and evil
Japanese Bushido
Fr. Z: Speaker Pelosi accepts Archbp. Niederauer’s invitation to “converse”

Macross Frontier, ep 21 and 22

Macross Frontier - 21 | Random Curiosity
Macross Frontier 21 | Sea Slugs! Anime Blog
Star Crossed Anime Blog :: Macross Frontier - 21 :: August :: 2008
Macross Frontier 21 Azure Ether « Calamitous Intent
THAT Animeblog - Macross Frontier 21: Elopement with Brera
AstroNerdBoy's Anime and Manga Blog: Macross Frontier 21

Macross Frontier - 22 | Random Curiosity
Star Crossed Anime Blog :: Macross Frontier - 22 :: September :: 2008
Macross Frontier 22 | Sea Slugs! Anime Blog
THAT Animeblog - Macross Frontier 22
Anime Blog ga Arimasu » Blog Archive » Macross Frontier 22

Code Geass

Heard anything about this series, Pete Takeshi? I believe its second season was one of the ratings competitor to Macross Frontier over in Japan. Better, or at least less cringeworthy than Le Chevalier D'Eon? That's what I first thought of when I saw some of the costumes. The character designs are a bit disturbing--even taller and thinner than the characters of Evangelion. (More elongated?) For that reason alone I don't think I would watch it. I'd rather have the shorter (and hence more real) characters of Rumiko Takahashi. Is the long, thin ideal of Japanese manga and anime artists (and also of fashion designers?) derived from self-esteem issues pertaining to height? I don't think these proportions match the classical Greek ideal or any ideal of beauty up to the 20th century.

Still, the alternative universe it presents is somewhat intriguing -- the rise of an empire governed by an 'aristocracy' using mecha? (How does it compare in that regards to The Five Star Stories?) Undoubtedly religion will have very little role to play in all of this. I don't find the mecha designs as attractive as the designs of FSS, or those of recent animated military sci-fi series that you would probably prefer over this.

I was at Kinokuniya today and I was browsing the current issue of Newtype. When will the pronouncement that the anime industry in Japan is dead after a long decline finally come true? Probably not until the demographic implosion reaches a critical point. Sky Crawlers I suppose will become at least a minor classic among fans, and Hayao Miyazaki has an international audience. But is anything new really being done? Miyazaki has something akin to Shinto spirituality in his work--is it an accurate generalization to say that religion is either neglected or put in a bad light in most manga/anime? Some version of secular humanism, especially in 'sci-fi' works, appears to be dominant in Japanese manga and anime for adult consumers. (Just one example: Ghost in the Shell.)

I don't know of any alternate-history novels in the United States take religion seriously. (Harry Turtledove doesn't? What do Southrons think of his potrayal of the Confederacy?)

I remember reading some of the Deryni novels by Katherine Kurtz when I was in junior high... I haven't read any since... Deryni Destination.

I'll admit that I wouldn't mind seeing more of Crest of the Stars. Hmm... according to the wiki entry Banner of the Stars III was done as an ova in Japan, and was released in 2005. I don't think it was released here. Tokyo Pop has put out a translation of the first arc. But there isn't really much out there that is of interest. Though I'll repeat it again--if Dune were to be animated by the Japanese, I think it would do well.

official Japanese site
Code Geass
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (TV) - Anime News Network
CODE GEASS | Random Curiosity
SELF DESTRUCTION - A Code Geass Fansite

Five Star Stories - GEARS Online
THEM Anime Reviews 4.0 - Five Star Stories

Crest of the Stars (TV) - Anime News Network
ALAN JACKSON, If Dallas Was In Tennessee

Really, what's so special about Dallas? (Isn't it a symbol of how the South [and Texas!] has been corrupted?)

Some more Rhonda Vincent videos

Rhythm of Wheels

The Rage
The Bluegrass Blog » Hunter Berry - Wow Baby: bluegrass music news (review)

rhonda vincent mix up
Rhonda Vincent and the Rage Medley and Silliness
Rhonda Vincent and the Rage Acappella
Roll On Buddy Rhonda Vincent and Mickey Harris and darrell Webb

Bluegrass in California:
The Official California Bluegrass Association Web Site!
Northern California Bluegrass Society
Bluegrass Festival Guide

Yearly festivals in California:
California Bluegrass Association - Father's Day Festival

Hobbs Grove Bluegrass Festival
September 26-28, 2008 -- Sanger is near Fresno.

Julian Bluegrass Festival - September 20th-21st, 2008 - Home
Where is Julian, CA? All the way down south...
Blythe Bluegrass Festival

22nd Annual Event
January 16, 17, & 18, 2009

Rhonda Vincent & The Rage
- Dailey and Vincent -
- Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass -
- Cedar Hill -

- IIIrd Generation Bluegrass Band -
- The Martins -
- Sawmill Road -
- The Burnett Family -
- Just For Fun -

Rhonda Vincent and the Rage in California!!! Blythe is probably too far... But she will be in Chico on 1/14 and Berkeley (Freight and Salvage Theater) on 1/15... let's see how much tickets are...

Rhonda Vincent and her daughter Sally sing Pardon Me

Dr. Fleming on voting for the lesser of two evils:

Pragmatically, one has to decide how much less evil the lesser is, but surely there is a point at which one can truly say, “I will not vote in an election in which my vote will only reinforce the lie that elections are free and fair and that the candidates present a real choice. Does anyone remember the episode of the Prisoner in which Patrick McGoohan is lured into running in the phony election for the #2 spot? That was clearly McGoohan’s take on the politics of 30 years ago, and things are much much worse than they were then. I am not saying that it is necessarily wrong to vote for a major party candidate, but I do think that those who refuse to vote have a point in refusing to collaborate with a system they regard as oppressive.
Whom one chooses to vote depends upon, in part, what one thinks of voting and authority. Is a ruler merely an instrument of the people (even if he disappoints the electorate and turn out to have his own plans)? Or is he supposed to rule in accordance with the natural law and the common good, even if this goes against what the electorate desires? (There are also the questions of what the Federal Government is empowered to do and what can be down to limit its power through choosing people for office.)
Republicans, the enemies of relocalization? Some thoughts by Guest Authors at Patrick Deneen's blog. (Should we include paleolibertarians who believe in some absolute right of property as well?)

Then there is the professor's piece, Peter Lawler's America, Rightly Understood
--this will take some time to digest, but I think Lawler is dependent upon a certain Nationalist(?) understanding of the Constitution and of American federalism (and this is evident elsewhere in his writings), which I do not think was endorsed by the states. (And with respect to interpretation, it is their understanding that matters, not that of certain Founding Fathers. Or so I have gathered from those who advocate a different, older tradition.)

A website devoted to Cardinal Siri. via NLM
Counterpunch: How Schwarzenegger Pushed the Water Bond
Arnold and the Manufactured Drought

Henry Adams, History of the United States During the Administrations of Jefferson (1801–1809)
and History of the United States During the Administrations of Madison (1809–1817)
George W. Carey, Conservatism, Centralization, and Constitutional Federalism

How would an exponent of the Southern political tradition respond to this? How are Dr. Carey's conclusions different from those of an anti-Federalist?

George W. Carey / The Federalist: Design for a Constitutional Republic

Kevin Gutzman, "Madison and the Compound Republic"

Photos: The Duchess premiere

movie's official website; The Duchess by Amanda Foreman
See the clothes and glamour in The Duchess
Stills from the movie: Keira Knightley is The Duchess

LONDON - SEPTEMBER 03: Actor Ralph Fiennes arrives at the World Premiere for The Duchess at Odeon Leicester Square on September 3, 2008 in London, England. (Getty)

LONDON - SEPTEMBER 03: Actor Dominic Cooper arrives at the World Premiere for The Duchess at Odeon Leicester Square on September 3, 2008 in London, England. (Getty)

LONDON - SEPTEMBER 03: (UK TABLOID Keira Knightley and Amanda Foreman arrive at the world premiere of 'The Duchess' at the Odeon cinema, Leicester Square on September 3, 2008 in London, England. (Getty)

LONDON - SEPTEMBER 03: (UK TABLOID Keira Knightley arrives at the world premiere of 'The Duchess' at the Odeon cinema, Leicester Square on September 3, 2008 in London, England.

LONDON - SEPTEMBER 03: (UK TABLOID Dominic Cooper arrives at the world premiere of 'The Duchess' at the Odeon cinema, Leicester Square on September 3, 2008 in London, England.
(I don't think he is especially handsome. He reminds me of Rowan Atkinson. Similar look to Karl Urban. But I think Karl Urban is more handsome.)

LONDON - SEPTEMBER 03: (UK TABLOID L-R Ralph Fiennes, Keira Knightley, Dominic Cooper arrives at the world premiere of 'The Duchess' at the Odeon cinema, Leicester Square on September 3, 2008 in London, England. (Getty)

British actress Keira Knightley gestures as she arrives for the World Premiere of her latest film "The Duchess" on September 3, 2008 in London's Leicester Square. (AFP/Getty)

British actor Ralph Fiennes looks on as he arrives for the World Premiere of his latest film "The Duchess" on September 3, 2008 in London's Leicester Square. (AFP/Getty)

British actress Keira Knightley poses for photographers as she arrives for the world premiere of her new film "The Duchess" in London's Leicester Square September 3, 2008. (Reuters)

British actor Ralph Fiennes poses for photographers as he arrives for the world premiere of his new film "The Duchess" in London's Leicester Square September 3, 2008. (Reuters)

Cast member Kiera Knightley arrives for the world premiere of the film The Duchess at a cinema in London, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008. (AP/Matt Dunham)

Actress Keira Knightley arrives for the world premiere of "The Duchess" at Leicester Square in London September 3, 2008. (Reuters)

Author Amanda Foreman arrives for the world premiere of "The Duchess", based on her book "Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire", at Leicester Square in London September 3, 2008. (Reuters)

Keira - The Keira Knightley Website
Keira Knightley Fan
Leading lady Keira steals the show at 'The Duchess' premiere
:: Sweet Keira Knightley - Your Source For Everything Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley at The Duchess premiere sep2008 | CELEBRİTİES WONDER
Video exclusive: Keira Knightley and stars talk at Duchess Premiere
Keira Knightley at The Duchess World Premiere in London
Keira Brings Her Friend To The Duchess Premiere
Keira Knightley Sings the Blues


經典重溫 : 張麗瑾 留給最愛的說話 MV 1989

Cover by Cecilia (back when she still had an innocent image)
張柏芝 - 留給最愛的說話

Friday, September 05, 2008

Jonathan Ansell and Hayley Westenra on Ready Steady Cook

Jonathan Ansell and Hayley Westenra on Ready Steady Cook part one

Jonathan Ansell and Hayley Westenra on Ready Steady Cook part two
Jonathan Ansell and Hayley Westenra on Ready Steady Cook part three
Jonathan Ansell and Hayley Westenra on Ready Steady Cook part four
Jonathan Ansell and Hayley Westenra on Ready Steady Cook part five
So Sarge, there is a new teacher (2nd grade?) at the school, blonde (your favorite!)... and if you must have a comparison, I think she is mas bella que la otra. I think... she was wearing sunglasses today, so I haven't seen what was underneath them closely. I had to tell some of the kids to not use the jump ropes for tug-of-war, and she had simultaneously come over to do the same. We were trying to untie the jump ropes afterwards (they had used 6 or 7 to make a long rope), and she was having difficulty untying them, for which she apologized. Are you going to visit the school next time you're in town? hahaha. (She's taller than mbh, I think.)

Xiao Jimmy gave me a call this afternoon--the banquet has been set for late Jan.

Another forthcoming book from ISI

A Path of Our Own: An Andean Village and Tomorrow's Economy of Values
by Adam K. Webb
John Médaille, Chapter XII: Taxes and Tax Reform

Jim Kalb, The Tyranny of Liberalism

Jim Kalb's forthcoming book from ISI Books should be worth a look: The Tyranny of Liberalism: Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality by Command

Some of his essays can be found here. (His web site appears to have disappeared.) -- 2 of note: "The Tyranny of Liberalism" and "PC and the Crisis of Liberalism".

Related link:
The Skies of Babylon: Diversity, Nihilism, and the American University
(The book has a shot of Cal on the cover... seems appropriate.)
Rob Hopkins, Responding to Various Critiques of Transition
Julian Darley, Post Carbon Institute
There are at least two invisible things that tend to be ferociously difficult to understand. One is relations among humans and the other is energy. Especially when the former want more of the latter. And for some reason, understandable perhaps but also unfortunate, we are mostly loathe to try to comprehend where our energy comes from. [Excepts]

Vikas Khanna

Watching the first episode of season 2 of Kitchen Nightmares. It's interesting to see who is no longer working at the restaurants Chef Ramsay helped turn around. Vikas Khanna has remained executive chef of Purnima in New York City. It's always fascinating to watch people at the top of their game at work. 'Excellence in action.'

Vikas Khanna
Purnima Restaurant New York Vikas Khanna
Vikas Khanna's "Cooking for Life"
Vikas Khanna: The Man with all the Masala! : IntentBlog
|||: Vikas Khanna Fan Club :|||
Kick Back and Kook: Lamb in a Creamy Sauce - Chef Vikas Khanna

Interview with Vikas Khanna Part 1 - AOL Video


wiki; official website
Zenit: Archbishop Niederauer on Pelosi's Abortion Remarks

Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and my predecessor as Archbishop here in San Francisco, wrote in 2004: "No bishop is eager to forbid members of his flock from receiving the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who invites us into communion with Himself and his Body, the Church, as grace and salvation." In that same year, the U.S. bishops acknowledged that pastoral sensitivity, and they endorsed the following approach to this question of denying Holy Communion: "Given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment on a matter of this seriousness, we recognize that such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles. Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action. Nevertheless, we all share an unequivocal commitment to protect human life and dignity and to preach the Gospel in difficult times." From that statement I conclude that it is my responsibility as Archbishop to discern and decide, prayerfully, how best to approach this question as it may arise in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Is such a statement really what is needed? Would it have been better if the archbishop had re-stated Catholic teaching, and in private sought to speak with Nancy Pelosi? And if that did not conclude satisfactory, then he would make an announcement regarding the reception of communion? The question is of scandal, and if he makes a public statement such as this, what happens 6 months or a year down the road, with nothing having changed, at least in public? Would the faithful not be scandalized by the absence of either a public statement by Speaker Pelosi admitting that she was wrong, or some disciplinary action being taken by the archbishop in the absence of repentance? Is such a statement not an admission that the archbishop has failed up to now to address this question? "You've been archbishop of San Francisco for more than 2 years, and you've been aware of Catholic politicians in your jurisdiction who contradict the Church's teaching on abortion, and yet you have not sought to talk to them before now?" Would that not be negligence of the most serious degree, given their prominence, position, and influence? And what of Mayor Gavin Newsom? Is the archbishop trying to have a conversation with him as well?

From California Catholic Daily: “Lifelong Catholic?”
San Francisco mayor plans to help launch drive against Save Marriage Initiative

So are these legitimate concerns? Should a letter be written to His Excellency?

Let us pray for our bishops...

Henry Liu, Friedman's misplaced monument

Friedman's misplaced monument
The University of Chicago's plans to establish a research institute commemorating economist Milton Friedman, whose increasingly discredited influence shaped our world, are inappropriate. Opposition can help expose his market fundamentalism as a device that rationalizes exploitation of the many by a few the world over. More than money matters. - Henry C K Liu

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Working for the weekend

I wish.

A live performance by Loverboy. One of those '80s songs you hear from time to time in commercials or what have you. Looking at the mass culture of the '70s and '80s one can't but shake his head...

I found out another person is taking over the class next week--the teacher's student teacher from last year. Not sure if she will be doing the testing, but she is familiar with the teacher's routine and the 1st grade curriculum. I am assuming that I'm not being replaced for some other reason. But who knows... I do feel out of place from time to time, and I should get a real job, even if it is good to talk to kids and try to be a positive influence for them. Even if it is more of an escape for me, and not even a good escape since I sometimes go on 'auto-pilot'...

The kids have been good... except for P who still won't follow directions. Warning him that he'll lose recess if he doesn't do his work has to be constant. He says the work is boring. Some kids do need the individual attention (and flexibility) that homeschooling provides.

For ELD today I actually did some singing... maybe we'll do some more songs tomorrow.

After school I drove down to Gilroy to meet with the OD, who gave me an eye exam. We talked a little about xiao Jimmy and his upcoming wedding. I took him to Carino's. The quality of the food wasn't as good as that of the Carino's I visited near Raleigh with Sarge. (The chicken breast for the chicken marsala was a bit tough and dry. The unlimited soup & salad for $2.29 was a nice feature, though. But some of the lettuce was not fresh. tsk tsk) Our waitress was a pretty older(?) blonde; the OD let me know that she was married. He thinks I will end up getting married to a Caucasian girl. Maybe he's right.

He told me a story of a former (Vietnamese) co-worker who committed suicide after everyone at the office found out about her one-night stand. A bit of an extreme reaction. May God have mercy on her.

We reminisced a little about high school; someone from HS added me as FB today, but I suspect it is more to boost a friend count or to build up an online network than anything else. I'll be surprised if I get a response to my query, since the last time I really talked to her was in... 6th grade. We ended up going to the same high school, but I didn't really talk to her much then, except an attempt during one P.E. class. Hah... have I really gotten past the days of confusion and awkwardness? Even after learning some lessons at Cal and from other experiences since then, I tend to think I haven't made that much progress.

At any rate, she hung around the popular crowd. The OD asked if he would be considered to be a part of the nerd herd. I replied that he was Asian.

I think that many of the women in our class are single, either never having married or having married and divorced. It (and many of the other things we talked about) is a sad commentary on our times. (A more refined way of expressing what I said during dinner.)

Got some news today... bad news or good news? Depends on how one looks at it. It might be nice to get a stable job at Costco now and to move on... I wasn't in the mood to shop at Gilroy Premium Outlets, or find some shoes, or to spend money for that matter. Though shopping could easily be an escape. I'll just have to focus on writing instead.

Patrick Deneen, Dissed:
The broader point: most Americans come from somewhere and end up somewhere else. That's a truth of our culture and our economy. The difference lies in whether you think we should seek to preserve and defend those somewheres or join the progressive tide of history in seeking their demise (i.e., through human strip mining operations that liberate us from parochiality and policies that support destruction of local economic entities. Meritocracy meets Wal Mart). It's a progressive project that's advanced simultaneously by the economic "Right" and the "cultural" Left. I've written about the conundrum and even potential hypocrisy of criticizing the cosmopolitan project while ensconced at an elite institution. Sadly, it's possible that the respectability of such a critique is likely to have more credence from within those very institutions. Maybe Wendell Berry can do it all on his own from the farm - but it can't hurt to assign his books in university classes and raise a very different set of questions for tomorrow's leaders. For all the perils, it's worth the risk...
I think universities in general are a lost cause. It depends on how necessary it is for young people to get a college degree in order to secure some sort of well-paying job. I don't think I can tell many that their college education is really worth it, in the long run. Nor can I personally benefit from an institution that reinforces the status quo instead of seeking to change it. If I had any knowledge to share, I would do it gladly to those who seek it. But it doesn't mean I should try to make a living from it. Certainly I shouldn't assume that I have such knowledge. And if I do have it, I don't think I should assume that it is my vocation to share it. Would it not be sufficient for God's purposes if God's love had lead me to some knowledge? How I am to love Him and serve others may have very little to do with human scientiae and sapientia.

Viktor Frankl

Victor Frankl Institute
Home, Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy
Introduction to Logotherapy and Viktor Frankl

Interview with Dr. Viktor Frankl part I

Interview with Dr Viktor Frankl II

Zenit: Pope's Message to Rimini Meeting

Pope's Message to Rimini Meeting
Pope's Message to Rimini Meeting

"Christ Alone Can Reveal to Man His True Dignity"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 4, 2008 ( Here is the message Benedict XVI sent to the 29th Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, held Aug. 24-30 in Rimini, Italy. The statement, sent on the Pontiff's behalf by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state, was addressed to Bishop Francesco Lambiasi of Rimini.

The annual event is organized by the lay movement Communion and Liberation.

* * *

Your Most Reverend Excellency,

On the occasion of the 29th Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, scheduled to take place in Rimini from 24 to 30 August this year, I am pleased to convey to you, to the sponsors and to all the participants in this important event the cordial greeting of His Holiness Benedict XVI.

The provocative theme of the Meeting: "Either protagonists or nobodies," commands instant attention. Indeed, this was the organizers' precise intention: "to provoke thought on the concept of a person." What does being a protagonist of one's own life and of that of the world actually mean?

The question has become urgent today because the alternative to protagonism seems all too often to be a life without meaning, the grey anonymity of so many "nobodies" who get lost in the folds of an amorphous mass and unfortunately unable to emerge with a noteworthy face of their own.

Then the question should be more focused and could perhaps be rephrased: what does a face give a human being, what makes a person unmistakable and guarantees his/her existence full dignity?

The society and culture in which we are immersed and of which the media are a powerful sound box are largely dominated by the conviction that fame is an essential component of personal fulfillment. To emerge from anonymity, to succeed in imposing oneself on public attention with every possible means and pretext is the goal pursued by many.

Political or financial power, prestige acquired in one's profession, a display of wealth, the renown of one's own achievements, even the ostentation of one's own excesses... all this is quietly taken to be "success" and a "triumph" in life. That is why the new generations aspire increasingly to idealized professions and careers precisely because they bring them into the limelight, which enables them to "appear," to feel that they are "somebody." The ideal for which they strive is represented by cinema actors, the mythical celebrities of television and of the entertainment world, by athletes, soccer players, etc.

But what happens to those who have no access to this level of social visibility? What happens to those who are forgotten, if not actually crushed by the dynamics of worldly success on which the society they live in is based? What happens to those who are poor, defenseless, sick, elderly or disabled, those who have no talents to forge ahead among others or no means to cultivate them, who have no voice to make their own ideas and convictions heard? How should one perceive those who lead a hidden life, of no apparent importance to newspapers and television?

Contemporary men and women, like all people down the ages, strive for their own happiness and pursue it wherever they think they can find it. Here then is the real question the word "protagonism" conceals, which this year's Meeting proposes for our reflection: In what does happiness consist? What can truly help people to achieve it?

This year Pope Benedict XVI established a special Jubilee Year dedicated to a "champion" of Christianity of all time, the Pharisee of Tarsus called Saul, who after ferociously persecuting the early Church, converted when the Lord's call "broke through" to him.

Gospel servant who laid the Christian foundations of the world

From that moment he served the cause of the Gospel with total dedication, tirelessly traveling the then known world and helping to lay the foundations of what was to become the European culture, enlightened by Christianity.

Few have shown a breadth of knowledge and an acumen equal to Paul's. His letters express the explosive force of his passionate personality and have attracted millions of readers, exercising a unique influence on generation after generation of men and women and on entire peoples and nations.

In his writings Paul never ceases to present Christ as an authentic source of respect among men, of peace among nations, of justice in coexistence. Two thousand years later, we can all consider ourselves "sons" of his preaching, and our civilization knows that it is actually indebted to this man for the values on which it is founded.

Yet St Paul's existence is very far from being in the limelight of public recognition. When he died, the Church he had helped to disseminate was still a tiny seed, a group that the supreme authorities of the Roman Empire could allow themselves to neglect or endeavor to crush with bloodshed.

Moreover Paul's existence, examined it in its daily dimension, appears troubled, beset by hostility and dangers, full of difficulties to face rather than consolations and joys to enjoy. He himself bears a vivid witness to this in a great many passages of his writings.

This is what he says, for example, in his Second Letter to the Corinthians: "Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the Churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?" (11: 24-29).

It was with determination and in the Name of his Redeemer that Paul ended or rather completed this obstacle race -- as we might describe it -- in Rome, where he was condemned to death and beheaded. Many other Christians died with him in the Emperor Nero's raging persecution and among them was Peter, the fisherman of Galilee and head of the Church.

Can Paul's life really be considered "successful"? Here we are before the paradox of Christian life as such. Indeed, to Christians what does "succeeding" mean? What do the existences of so many holy people, who lived in the retirement of their convents tell us? What do the lives and deaths of numberless Christian martyrs tell us, most of whose names are unknown, who ended their lives not amidst acclamation but rather surrounded by contempt, hatred and indifference? In what does the "greatness" of their lives consist, the luminosity of their witness, their "success"?

Humble conditions do not prevent true human fulfillment

Recently too, the Holy Father Benedict XVI recalled that man was made for the eternal fulfillment of his life. This goes far beyond mere worldly success and is not in opposition to the humility of the condition in which he makes his earthly pilgrimage.

The fulfillment of the human being is knowledge of God, by whom every person was created and for whom he strives with every fiber of his being. Neither fame nor popularity with the masses serves to achieve this. This is the protagonism that the title of this year's Rimini Meeting seeks to propose anew.

The protagonist of one's own existence is someone who gives his life to God, who calls him to cooperate in the universal project of salvation.

The meeting intends to reaffirm that Christ alone can reveal to man his true dignity and communicate to him the authentic meaning of his life. When a believer follows him docilely, he can leave a lasting trace in history. It is the trace of love, of which he becomes a witness precisely because he has been grasped by love.

It is then that what was possible for St. Paul also becomes possible for each one of us. It does not matter whether or not God's design provides for a reduced sphere of action. It does not matter whether we live within the walls of a cloistered monastery or are immersed in the multiple and different activities of the world; it does not matter whether we are fathers and mothers of families or consecrated people, or priests.

God uses us in accordance with his plan of love according to the ways that he chooses and he asks us to support the action of his Spirit; he wants us to be his collaborators for the realization of his Kingdom. He says to each one: "Come, follow me" (Luke 18: 22), and only by following him does man experience the true exaltation of his being.

The experience of the saints, men and women who very often lived their fidelity to God in a discreet and ordinary manner, teaches us this. Among them we find many true protagonists of history, people who are totally fulfilled, living examples of hope and witnesses of a love that fears nothing, not even death.

The Holy Father hopes that these reflections will help those taking part in the meeting to encounter Christ, to understand the value of Christian life better and to achieve its meaning in the humble protagonism of service to the mission of the Church, in Italy and throughout the world. To this end he assures you of his prayers for the meeting's success and imparts a special blessing to you, to the organizers and to all those present.

I very willingly add my own fervent good wishes for the fruitful success of the event and gladly take advantage of the occasion to confirm my sentiments of distinct respect.

[Translation by L'Osservatore Romano]

AR: The post-petroleum job ads

John Michael Greer, The Archdruid Report
While the end of the age of cheap energy will change many dimensions of our lives, one thing will remain -- the timeless necessity of making a living. What options open up once we look past popular narratives of sudden collapse and explore the implication of the slow, uneven process by which civilizations actually fall?


I’ve talked about some of the steps in question already on this blog, but today I’d like to turn to something a bit different from those previous discussions: the question of how people will make a living during the long unraveling of the industrial age.

That’s a question that has received surprisingly little attention in recent years, and a good deal of that neglect, I think, can be laid at the door of the apocalyptic narrative. According to that narrative, after all, nothing much changes until everything does; you keep on punching the timeclock at your present job until the day that civilization falls apart, and then, if you happen to be among the survivors, you step into whatever new role the apocalypse has ordained for you – subsistence farmer, tribal hunter-gatherer, protein source for the local cannibal population, or what have you. At the same time, the absence of a 9-to-5 routine on the far side of apocalypse is likely to be an important source of the narrative’s popularity; I’m far from the only person who noticed, during the runup to the Y2K noncrisis, how many people predicting imminent doom seemed exhilarated by the notion that they would not have to go to work on January 2, 2000.

If I’m right and the descent into the deindustrial future unfolds over generations, though, that enticing prospect is not in the cards. Rather, the vast majority of us will need to earn our livings in a world that, while it will be changing around us, is extremely unlikely to change in ways that will make that process any easier than it is now. During the period I’ve described in other posts as the age of scarcity industrialism, something like today’s money economy will likely remain firmly in place, though the household economy and other forms of production and exchange outside the money economy will likely play a steadily growing role. During the age of salvage economies that I expect to follow the twilight of the industrial system, money of some sort will likely remain in use on a small scale, as it does in most dark ages, but most day-to-day transactions will take place via barter or other systems of exchange outside the money economy; again, that’s standard practice in dark ages. In both periods, though, people will work for their livings – and will likely work a good deal harder than many Americans do today.

Nor will their jobs be the same as the ones that employ most Americans nowadays. The flood of cheap abundant energy that surged through the industrial world during the twentieth century reshaped every dimension of the economy in its image, and nearly all the things we have grown up considering normal and natural are artifacts of that highly abnormal and unnatural state of affairs. Very few people in the industrial world today spend their workdays producing goods or providing necessary services; instead, pushing paper has become the standard employment, and preparation for a paper-pushing career the standard form of education. The once-mighty archipelago of trade schools that undergirded the rise of America as an industrial power sank with barely a trace in the second half of the twentieth century. I once lived three blocks away from the shell of one such school; it had been engulfed by a community college, and classrooms that once hummed with the busy noises of machine-shop equipment and the hiss of hot solder were being used to train a new generation of receptionists, brokers, and medical billing clerks 2008 Conway Lectures at Notre Dame (September 18, 23, and 25)

Jonathan Riley-Smith
will be giving 3 lectures on “The Templars and the Hospitallers as Professed Religious in the Holy Land, 1120-1291.”

Truth is the first victim - Times Online

North Face Outlet

North Face Outlet

Hmm... I've never stepped foot into the store @ Valley Fair.

I'll be in Gilroy in the afternoon to see the OD, so I was thinking of dropping by the outlet stores. (No North Face there.) Whether I'll actually buy anything... I'll take a look at shoes and pants at least...

Phillips-Van Heusen (I didn't know that the company had so many brands.)

Hmm... wool car coat... made in China. haha.

Don't have the height for it...

P. M. Fiorni, Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct


Recommended by someone commenting on this thread at Transition Culture: Why Civility Matters in the Transition

JHU Dr. Forni's Civility Website
Macmillan: The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude
P. M. Forni calls for civility now - News

Choose Civility in Howard County

John C. Caiazza, Dr. Robert Coles, Children, and the Sacred

Related links:
"A Way of Seeing: The Work of Robert Coles" by Scott London
Online NewsHour: Dr. Robert Coles on Raising Moral Children
Robert Coles - Authors - Random House
Robert Coles Wins Medal of Freedom
Conversations with Robert Coles

溫兆麟 MVs

溫兆倫 - 沒有你之後

經典重溫 : 溫兆麟 是場夢還是真 MV 1992

經典重溫 : 溫兆麟 擁 抱 吧 MV 1992

經典重溫 : 溫兆麟 陳松齡 正義柔情永在 MV 1991

經典重溫 : 溫兆倫 隨 緣 MV 1992

經典重溫 : 溫兆麟 從未試過擁有 MV 1991

(香港廣告) 1987年 - 雙羊米 (溫兆倫 何美婷)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Oil Drum: Peak Oil Update - August 2008: Production Forecasts and EIA Oil Production Numbers

Recently on the Colbert Report

Bob Barr

and Scott McClellan

Ron Paul @ the Rally for the Republic

6 parts:
Rally For The Republic
Rally For The Republic
Rally For The Republic
Rally For The Republic
Rally For The Republic
Rally For The Republic

on Fox News (9/3/08); Ron Paul on Glenn Beck 09/03/08

News conference on Tuesday:
Ron Paul's Rally for the Republic News Conference 1 of 2
Part 2

Ron Paul Campaign For Liberty/ rally for the republic
CI: The Wonder Girls Are Ones to Watch Say Brits


Virgin Media: Girl groups: the ones to watch

Lee Bul - Eternity MV Teaser
Lee Bul - Forever MV Teaser

[HQ] WonderGirls - 원더걸스 와이드 연예 뉴스 080829

Photos: Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful in the Paul VI hall of the Vatican during his weekly audience on August 27, 2008. The pontiff on August 27 "firmly condemned" Hindu-Christian violence in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, which he said had "claimed several lives" in the past few days. "I learnt with great sorrow the information concerning the violence against the Christian community in Orissa state which broke out after the reprehensible assassination of the Hindu leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati," he said. (AFP/Getty)

CASTELGANDOLFO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 1: Pope Benedict XVI meets Ingrid Betancourt at his summer residence, on September 1, 2008 in Castelgandolfo, Rome, Italy. Franco-Colombian politician Betancourt was held hostage in Colombia for six years by members of the FARC guerilla organisation and was rescued on July 2, 2008. (Getty)

CASTELGANDOLFO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 1: Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing to Ingrid Betancourt and her relatives during a meeting at pope's summer residence, on September 1, 2008 in Castelgandolfo, Rome, Italy. Franco-Colombian politician Betancourt was held hostage in Colombia for six years by members of the FARC guerilla organisation and was rescued on July 2, 2008. (Getty)

Pope Benedict XVI leaves at the end of his weekly general audience at the Vatican on September 3, 2008. (AFP/Getty)
(I've seen a bunch of photos like this one.)

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives for his weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008. (AP/ALESSANDRA TARANTINO)

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful during his Wednesday general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican September 3, 2008. (Reuters)

Pope Benedict XVI leaves at the end of the Wednesday general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican September 3, 2008. (Reuters)

What are you doing, kid?

A child gestures as Pope Benedict XVI (not pictured) waves to pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence of Castelgandolfo in the outskirts of Rome during his Sunday Angelus on August 24, 2008. The Pope told Spanish pilgrims at his weekly Angelus prayer on Sunday that he was praying for the 154 victims of the Madrid air disaster. "I must assure you that I continue to pray for the eternal rest of the people who died in Wednesday's tragic plane accident at Madrid airport, and for those who were injured," said Benedict, speaking briefly in Spanish to pilgrims gathered at his summer residence outside Rome. (Getty)

Spanish Olympic teams, what bad examples you have been! (The Argentinians, you too!)
Peter Hitchens, Rubbish about crime
Paul Gottfried, More on Palin

It is we, and not the neocons, which the liberal Left is seeking to drive off the planet, and trying to get them to notice that we’re “antiwar” is a useless conciliatory gesture. Our task is simple but also dauntingly expensive. It is to create our own counter-media and counter-establishment, a task aiming at giving our side at least a seat in the public political discussion. In this work we can expect not help but torrents of hostility from the left. And if we go anywhere, the Robert Wexlers of this world would proclaim us to be the reincarnations of Hitler and Hamas.

Our work of consolidation must therefore be carried on alone, and we must never allow the words to fall from our lips or even to appear on our computer compositions starting with the indescribably stupid phrase “nice people right and left would agree.”
Twitch: 바람의 나라 (Kingdom of the Wind) Already King Before Even Starting?

official website


NLM: Interview with Peter Kwasniewski (mp3) and Thomas Aquinas College Chapel Cornerstone Laid

Also from Voice of Catholic Radio Long Island: Mrs. Colleen Hammond, The Increasing Need for Female Modesty in Dress and Behavior

經典重溫 : 葉倩文 秋去秋來 MV 1990

經典重溫 : 葉倩文 春風秋雨 MV 1991

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

JP says she is going to split with her husband, and try to go home. Please pray for her.

GL, The man who created paradise (a fable)

Gene Logsdon, Organic To Be
Remarkable story about strip-mining, farming and resurgence.
Wendell Berry writes in the Foreward: "... there is something wondrous and redemptive about ... [an effort that would] employ the technology of destruction to begin the restoration of what has been destroyed; and how this singular effort might inspire the efforts of others to do the same thing; and how finally a whole community of people might ally themselves with the inherent goodwill of any place to heal itself and become the Paradise it once was."

Reuters: Google sees new browser displacing desktop software

Google Chrome
Mozilla Firefox

via Drudge: Oil price of $100 a barrel on horizon...


Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute
In the task of waking humanity up to the plight of resource depletion, the market is not very helpful, even if it occasionally does give useful warning signs. It’s a bit like the broken clock that tells perfect time twice a day.

From IGN

Flight of the Conchords Grounded?
Interview with Summer Glau
In Plain Sight: "Season 1" Review
Why You Should Watch Fringe
Fall 2008 TV Preview: Day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Photos for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Bill Kauffman at the Rally for the Republic

Ron Paul Rally For The Republic Bill Kauffman Part 1

Ron Paul Rally For The Republic Bill Kauffman Part 2

Rally for the Republic
Hollywood Reporter: Voice of Movie Trailers Dies

Dr. Laura on the Sarah Palin nomination

Sarah Palin and Motherhood
It surely won't win her more fans among feminists...

Jennifer Roback Morse, It Takes a Family to Raise a Village

on Catholic Answers Live: rm, mp3

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse - Your Coach For The Culture Wars

Dominican Liturgical Books

NLM: Dominican Liturgical Books
Rod Dreher: The death of small-town newspapers

Maybe it's not a problem with the newspapers or the writers, but the small towns? The decline in the newspapers there might be a reflection of the state of small towns, if they are dying? (Or community, at least.)

More at VFR on modesty in fashion

Sexual liberation and perversity have taken over the world and the toothpaste can't be put back in the tube

and this post critical of Peter Hitchens: The conservative Peter Hitchens's kneejerk liberal comment on women's dress

Was Mr. Hitchens being a "liberal" or a typical "guy"? Or was he employing sarcasm or a certain mode of speech? Trying to provoke certain readers into considering the consequences of their actions or their motivations?

As for Mr. Auster's own comments... they do provide for thought, but I wouldn't agree with everything:
I disagree with what I would describe as ILW's extreme traditionalist view (similar to the Catholic traditionalist view) that either sex is for nothing but procreation, or sex is nothing but sport and entertainment.
Are there some Jansenists still out there? Sure. But traditionalists Catholics talk about procreation being primary, as opposed to being the 'only' purpose.

Dennis Prager, from several years ago:
Fearlessly Feminine: Why Women Are Exposing Themselves (part 1)
Fearlessly Feminine: Why Women are Exposing themselves (part 2)

Dennis Prager @ Townhall: part 1, 2

Lawrence Auster on fashion

Lawrence Auster on fashion:

Of course the 1930s were the greatest fashion period of modern times, for both men and women, maybe of all history.

But there's something in human affairs that it can't stop at something good. Starting around 1940, as you can see in the movies, the look started to change, especially with women's hair and dress, and became relatively dreary. Not that I dislike the long-haired women's look of the early '40s; I like it. But it doesn't compare to the '30s. That's the height.

I think the Philosopher and Pete Takeshi might agree. Jeffrey Tucker as well?

(When is the start of 'modern times'? The turn of the last century?)
Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture
It seems to me that the world is growing steadily ruder. As we grow more and more stressed and less connected to those around us, we increasingly, it seems, have less time for civility. (Review of Talk to the Hand: the utterly bloody rudeness of everyday life (or six good reasons to stay home and bolt the door).)

I rarely engage with online chat forums (or fora, sorry… Truss’s previous book was ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’ which extolled the virtues of grammar, she would recoil at my use of the word ‘forums’). As a medium, they are designed to maximise rudeness. If you wanted to debate an issue , you wouldn’t enter a darkened room to engage in thoughtful conversation with an unknown number of people with masks on. In the same way, being hidden behind ridiculous names like hotdog18 and vortexman seems to give people permission to be unspeakably rude to each other.

Song Hye Gyo in Paris

Song hye kyo In Paris [1/4]

Song hye kyo In Paris [2/4]
Song hye kyo In Paris [4/4]

Alt (hyekyolover):
宋慧喬 in paris 1
宋慧喬 in paris 2
宋慧喬 in paris 4

For some reason no one has part 3 up. The video can be downloaded here, thanks to
宋慧喬 Song Hye Kyo - ETUDE CF 0403

Section TV, Song Hye Gyo, 6-27-08

宋慧喬 Song Hye Kyo - 思娘幕後精華全紀錄01

宋慧喬 Song Hye Kyo - 思娘幕後精華全紀錄02
宋慧喬 Song Hye Kyo - 思娘幕後精華全紀錄03